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Would That Make You Happy?

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You were fourteen when you had Frisk. Too young. You're twenty now, and sometimes the c-section scar still itches.

You were afraid to become a mother. How could you be a good one, when your only example was so bad? Recovery from the surgery was harder than you thought it would be, but your mother was there to take care of Frisk at least. You were worried about the idea of breastfeeding, but you were never given the chance to even try. Your mother was selfish, you realized later, by insisting she be the one to feed your child. To 'let you rest' she said.

She stole your baby from you, and in your fear and self-doubt, you let her. You wondered many times if she loved Frisk more than you. Maybe, you hoped, it would mean she would take better care of them than she had of you.

She insisted that Frisk call her 'Mama'. When your baby looked at you, eyes wide with anticipation, you told them you were their sister. When Frisk grinned and babbled out 'Sissa' you hated yourself. Your mother smiled at you.

You finished school right before Frisk started. You began working right out of high school, at your mother's insistence. You needed to start helping to support the family. The only times she acted like Frisk was yours instead of hers was when it came to money. You owed her your paychecks for all the work she had done raising your child.

You didn't dare argue. When Frisk was out of the house, she had no problems hitting you.

You came home from work (a local restaurant, the owner knew your mom and took pity on you) late that night. The night everything changed. Your mother was drunk —God it had been so long, you had hoped maybe, just maybe, it had stopped— and Frisk was crying. They had their back to the living room wall, clutching their cheek and staring up at your mother with saucer-wide eyes.

She turned on you, a bottle of wine sloshing in her hand. "Oh good, you deal with them. I'm sick of this shit," she snarled, glaring at you and then leaving the room.

This had never happened before. She never hurt Frisk, never. Frisk just looked up at you with tears welling in their eyes as you rushed to their side.

You reached out and grabbed their shoulders, suddenly afraid. For both of you. "What did you do?" you hissed.

Frisk's mouth opened and shut, no sound coming out as they stared at you with fear instead of relief. "N-nothing!" they finally stammered out.

"You can't make her angry, Frisk. She'll just hurt you, please you have to be good." You had to make them understand, to protect them. You were so afraid, it was easier to be good, to be quiet, than to try and fight back.

And Frisk had always been strong willed. You had always worried it would get them in trouble, and now it was. You needed to squash it down, for Frisk's sake. They needed to be weak.

Like you.

What... what was that? Something like... deja vu? No, that couldn't have happened.

Frisk was still standing by the wall and you were still in the entryway. They watched you, uncertain about what you were going to do. Seeing the fear in Frisk's eyes, the way they looked at you for help...

It filled you with determination.

You scooped them up, hugging them tight to your chest. Frisk whimpered in your arms, squeezing you as hard as they could. How could you have let this happen? You knew what she was capable of, you should have taken Frisk away from here as soon as you turned eighteen. But you had been afraid. You hadn't been determined enough to make things right.

That was going to change. Now.

"I'm sorry," Frisk mumbled into your shirt, sniffling. "I think it's my fault."

"No," you told them, voice sterner than you expected. "Don't you ever think that. She's wrong. She's always been wrong. It's not your fault."

You felt the hard edges of the car keys squeezed in your fist. That was when you knew, it needed to happen now, while you had the nerve. While your anger was giving you more courage than sense.

"Get your sweater and put on your shoes, sweetie. Be quick," you told them, ruffling their hair and pressing a quick kiss to their forehead.

Frisk looked up at you, confused, as you let them go. "Where are we going?"

Right now you needed to go anywhere but here. Somewhere your mother wouldn't expect you to go while you figured out a plan. You said the first thing that popped into your mind. "Mt. Ebott."


 

You wake with the echo of what you think might be a laugh ringing in your ears. Eyes blinking slowly open, you can see the shaft of light filtering down from above. Your vision is ringed in yellow. You try to remember what happened. You recall spending the night sleeping in the car with Frisk, and then deciding to take a morning hike up the mountain. You tripped, and—

Gasping, you jerk upright. You realize you're in a bed of yellow flowers. But, where's Frisk? Sitting up so suddenly makes your head throb with pain, and you press your hand to your temple. You twist around, searching as you shift onto your knees, and a short distance away you catch sight of that familiar blue and purple sweater. Frisk has their back to you, hunched over a patch of bare grass outside the bed of flowers. There's some kind of red glow on the other side of them.

As the red glow fades, you see that Frisk is talking to someone. They're tall —taller than you— and... is that... fur? She —they must be a she, you decide— has long floppy ears and tiny horns, reminding you of a goat. You push yourself to your feet and the creature looks up from Frisk, her big bright eyes going wide at the sight of you.

"Oh my goodness," she says in a soft, sweet voice. It's her voice more than anything that puts you at ease. "My child, you didn't say there was someone with you."

Frisk turns to you with a wide grin on their face. It's the most you've seen them smile since before last night, you realize. "That's my Sissa," they say. Even though they could say 'sister' properly for years now, the nickname had stuck.

You know that if you want to, you can tell them the truth. But somehow, right now, it doesn't feel right. Don't the two of you have bigger things to worry about? Like figuring out where the heck you are? And who this goat-lady is?

"I see," the goat-lady says, smiling at you. "I am Toriel, the caretaker of these Ruins. Do not be afraid, I will take care of you both."


 

At least Toriel gave you her cell phone number before leaving the two of you to wait for her. Your own phone connected to some sort of network down here in the Underground. You can't call anyone on the surface, but you can reach her. Frisk commandeered your phone immediately after that.

They are also incredibly impatient, refusing to wait for Toriel to come back. Despite your weak protests, Frisk starts making their way through rooms of puzzles with you trailing behind. Occasionally you stop to make conversation with a passing monster —they're monsters, how is that possible? It's then that you realize what that red glow around Frisk had been. Something about the monsters draws it out of them, a glowing red heart that they say is their Soul.

The concept horrifies you, and you try to tell Frisk to leave the monsters alone, but they just smile up at you like you're the child. You have to admit, the monsters seem happier after they've talked to Frisk. Frisk perks up too, casting grins over their shoulder back at you. You shake your head but let the matter drop.

Frisk pulls your phone out of their pocket, dialing the only number you have that works. The phone is on speaker as it rings. Frisk is smiling.

"Hello, this is Toriel," she says, with the patience of a saint. This is probably the fifth time Frisk has called her already.

"It's me, Frisk!" they say, grinning. Toriel gives a sweet laugh in reply before Frisk keeps talking. "I just... I just wanted to let you know me and Sissa are still okay... Mom."

It feels as though someone has reached into your chest and is squeezing your heart. It shouldn't hurt you, since Frisk has never called you their mother, and has no way of knowing. But it does.

"Huh? Did you just call me... 'Mom'?" Toriel asks, her voice quiet. "Well... I suppose... Would that make you happy? To call me... 'Mother'?"

Frisk looks shy all of a sudden, kicking at the stone beneath their feet with their old, ratty sneakers. They touch their cheek, where there's a faint bruise as the only reminder of what your mother did to them. "Yes," they mumble.

"Well then, call me whatever you like!"

Would that make you happy? To call me... 'Mother'? You wonder if it would make Frisk happy to know the truth. But...

...you aren't determined enough to try.

Chapter Text

You don't trust Toriel.

Oh, she's perfectly nice to both of you, but you don't trust it. She's like a sitcom mom back before televisions had color. Too perfect, too kind. Maybe you're just jaded because your own mother is nothing like her. But it feels like she's hiding something.

She even baked a pie for the two of you. 

You're confident your mom didn't even know how to bake a pie. You taught yourself how to bake a couple years ago so you could make things for Frisk. Because that's what mothers were supposed to do. You are pretty proud of your chocolate chip cookies, thank you very much.

Once you try to go down into the basement, and Toriel is beside you before you have a chance to make it down the steps. She guides you back upstairs with a firm —but gentle— hand on your shoulder.

Frisk adores her. They follow Toriel around like a puppy before finally collapsing for a nap in your borrowed bed. You aren't tired, however. You smooth back the heavy bangs on Frisk's forehead and kiss their temple before leaving. The door closes with a soft click.

Toriel is in the living room where you left her, reading a book in her recliner. Her large, doe-like eyes look up as you enter, and she puts a finger between the pages as she shuts the book. "My child, I was hoping to speak with you," she says, her voice soft.

You don't know how to feel about the way she addresses you. There's a part of you —a part that's Frisk's age with skinned knees and a snotty nose— that wants to curl onto her lap and let her read to you. To call her Mom the way Frisk does. The urge to stay is palpable, an ache in your chest. A longing for the kind of mother you never had but always wanted. But the rest of you rebells against it. You're an adult now, with a child of your own to take care of. You have to be the mother now, after avoiding it for so long. You won't let her take this opportunity from you.

You're determined.

Pulling out a chair from the table, you sit down with your hands balled into fists in your lap. Toriel clears her throat softly.

"Frisk has asked me how to leave the Ruins," she says, her voice careful and measured.

It's hard to contain your surprise. You would have thought that Frisk would be eager to stay here and let Toriel take care of the two of you. 

"But you cannot do that," she says, looking down at the book in her hands. It's covered in old, worn brown leather. "It is too dangerous. He... It isn't safe. You must convince Frisk to stay, that it's for the best."

You shake your head. "We can't. We need to get back..." Home? Where was home now? "...to the surface." This place... it's no place for a child to grow up. Frisk has school, their entire life ahead of them. They can't stay down here with only you and Toriel for company.

"You will be safe here. We can be happy."

"Are you happy here?" you ask.

She opens her mouth to answer, but her brow furrows and she can't seem to find the words. Then her expression is sad. She looks up to meet your eyes and she's pleading with you. "You both will be safe here. I will take care of you."

"That's not enough."


 

Frisk makes a small, quiet groan when you climb into the small bed beside them. They roll over and press in close to your chest and you wrap your arms around them. Sometimes they used to crawl into your bed in the middle of the night, if they had a nightmare or there was a thunderstorm and they were scared. Your mother never let them sleep with her, and you'd never turned Frisk away.

"Sweetie, can I talk to you for a second?"

Frisk leans their head back, blinking up at you sleepily in the dark. You can see the faint light of the room shining in their eyes. "Hrm?"

"Toriel said you were asking how to leave," you say.

"I didn't think you wanted to stay," Frisk answers.

What? Are they trying to say that they did that because of you? "But what about you? I thought you liked Toriel."

Frisk smiles. "I do. She's nice, and makes good food, and cares about us. The monsters care a lot, don't they?"

They do, you realize. Every monster you'd met so far, down to each froggit and the skittish whimsuns. Even that shy ghost, Napstablook. They were passionate and emotional. Maybe that's what made them so fragile, too. It must be hard, wearing their emotions on their sleeves like that. It's an easy way to get yourself hurt.

Frisk's smile fades. "But we can't stay. I know we can't stay."

"What makes you say that, sweetie?"

They close their eyes and rock their head back and forth against your shoulder. They tuck in close under your chin, not speaking. It's quiet for a while, and you think the must have fallen asleep. You should too. It's been a long day, and even though you have no idea what time it is you're tired.

As you start to drift off, you think you hear a quiet voice mumble: "She'll get hurt if I stay."


 

You're alone in the small, twin-sized bed when you wake up. The rational part of your brain thinks that maybe Frisk just got up to use the bathroom, but nothing about this day has been rational so far. You wait for a few minutes, which creep by at a snail's pace, before you get out of bed. Sleeping in your clothes isn't the most comfortable —you tug a bit on your bra to stop it from digging— but you had little choice.

Your jeans rode up a bit while you were asleep so you pull them back down before slipping on your sneakers. They're your work shoes, designed to reduce slips on wet or greasy surfaces. After all this walking around the Underground, you're sure they'll be ruined by the time you get back. But hey, at least they're comfortable.

There's no sign of Frisk in the hallway. The bathroom is empty. So is the kitchen and living room. You hesitate for a moment before knocking on Toriel's bedroom, but there's no answer. You peek inside and it's empty too.

You woke up the morning after your mother struck Frisk and they were gone. Their bed was empty, not even a note left for either of you. For the first few hours you hoped they would come back when they got hungry.

But nobody came.

You realized that the last time they looked at you was with fear in their eyes. 

A chill runs down your spine and you have to swallow past a lump in your throat. Something isn't right. You felt it when you woke up and now it's only more obvious. Where is Frisk? And where is Toriel?

There's only one place in the house you haven't checked. The basement.

You take the steps two at a time, and you're greeted by a long hallway. Walking as quick as you can without breaking into a jog, you follow it until you round a corner. There's a familiar red glow up ahead, and you can hear the low hiss of flames. You can hear Toriel's voice but you can't make out the words.

You're running now.

The hallway opens up into a large room, at the back of which is a tall, arched door. In front of that door is Toriel, kneeling on the ground with her arms around Frisk. A quick glance around the room doesn't reveal the fire you heard earlier, but at the moment you don't care.

Your footfalls slow to a walk, and you come to a stop a few paces away from them. Toriel releases Frisk and stands, looking at you as she does. Her eyes are sad, glistening with unshed tears. You step forward and place your hand on Frisk's shoulder. They don't look back at you, but they reach up to cover your hand with their own. 

"Goodbye, my children," she says to you both, and as she walks around you, you can see that the door is cracked open. It must be the way forward.

You turn back, gripping Frisk's shoulder tighter as you pivot your feet. Toriel is hesitating, looking at you both as her tears slip into the soft white fur of her cheeks. Guilt hangs heavy in your chest. For a brief moment you want to scoop up Frisk and carry them upstairs. You want to eat cinnamon butterscotch pie in front of a magical fireplace and have Toriel tell you about all the uses for snails. You want to watch Frisk grow up with froggits for playmates and a large, gentle monster for a mother.

But the moment is gone. You're their mother. You can't keep letting yourself be replaced.

Toriel turns to leave. You don't say anything to stop her.

Now that you've found Frisk and you know they're safe, the fear from earlier warps in your chest and turns sour. You turn them around to face you, crouching so that you're eye-to-eye. They can tell they've done something wrong; Frisk immediately glances away the moment your eyes narrow.

"Why did you come down here alone, what happened?" you ask, and you realize that the tone of your voice is hurt. Frisk hurt you by running off alone. By not trusting you. But, what reason had you given them to trust you? How much had you really taken care of them since they were born? "Were you going to leave without me?"

Frisk shook their head so vigorously that their hair whipped around their face. "No! Sissa, I just needed to make Toriel understand. And you were sleeping so good, I didn't want to wake you. I was going to come get you, I promise!"

Their eyes are wide as they look up at you, and you can't help but believe them. Frisk had always done things their own way, by themselves. When they were two years old they would fight with anyone who tried to help them do anything, from getting dressed to brushing their teeth. It was a miracle it had taken this long for your mother to reach the end of her patience with Frisk.

"Okay. Okay, sweetie, I believe you," you say, hugging them. You let out a shaky breath.

They hug you back. "We should go, Sissa. I don't want to make Toriel sadder."

You don't either. You wish you could stay in this peaceful home forever, but you can't.

Chapter Text

There's another long hallway after that first door. It's quiet, the only sound the scrape of shoes across the stone beneath your feet. Even though Frisk was determined to keep going, they seem suddenly nervous now. They twist their fingers in the front of their sweater, tugging on the cuffs of too-long sleeves.

"You okay, Frisk?"

They don't seem to hear you, despite the way your words echo through the hall. Face scrunched a little, their eyes keep darting to the side like they're looking at something. You touch their shoulder and they jump. Frisk looks up through their bangs (you kept trying to convince them to let you trim them, but they refused) with a startled expression.

"Are you okay?" you repeat.

They nod, then look forward again as you continue walking. You think that maybe you should press the matter, insist that you suspect something is wrong. But you don't. You're not good at this.

You love them, so much it hurts sometimes. But you'd always taken the backseat when it came to the serious stuff. Scolding and lectures; that was your mother's territory. She was practiced. How could you discipline a child when you were still being disciplined yourself?

You ruffle their hair, earning you a familiar, annoyed grimace that you know is just hiding a smile. Being affectionate, reminding them that you're there with them and you love them... that's easier. That's familiar.

"Sissa!" they groan, batting your hand away and smoothing their hair.

You smile and lean down to pull the side of their head to your lips. Frisk grumbles, but they don't fight you. You're like this all the time, and they know it. You give them the hugs and kisses your mother denies. Love is something you have in abundance, and until Frisk there had been no one willing to take it. (Except maybe Frisk's dad... but, no. No, he'd been quick enough to abandon you. Your mother took his parents' money and you never saw them again.)

The hallway opens up into another room, this one with a small patch of empty grass in the center. On the other side of it is a set of pillars and another door. Something about it makes you think this is the last one, the true door that leads to the rest of the Underground. You wonder what it's like, this place where all the monsters live.

Frisk hesitates, coming to a stop as their head twists to search the room. You aren't sure what they're looking for, it's obvious that there's nothing there. Just some grass, somehow. How can plants grow down here with no sunlight? You have no idea. Another mystery stacked upon a dozen others. Your list of impossible questions keeps growing.

"...not here...?" they mutter, words muffled beneath sweater sleeves pressed to their mouth. 

"Frisk?"

They look up at you, blinking. Their face is blank for a moment before they smile at you. It makes you feel a bit better. "Nothing! I thought, for a second... but I was wrong." Frisk starts walking towards the door, leaving you to follow behind. You think you hear them say something like, "Feels familiar."

The light that slants through the door as Frisk opens it is blinding. You wince and shade your eyes, and if you didn't know any better you'd think it was sunlight, it's so bright. At least, it is when compared to the dimness of the Ruins. As you blink and adjust, you realize it's more like a cloudy day. It's just the whiteness of the snow that's hurting your eyes and making it seem brighter than it really is.

Snow? There's another addition to that list of questions. When you realize what you're seeing, a gust of wind blows through the door, sending a chill right through your thin jacket. Like this new area of the Underground is greeting you warmly. Warmly? You'd laugh but you're so shocked by the sudden change of temperature it makes you gasp. Your fingers fumble with the zipper of your jacket before jerking it up under your chin.

Frisk has already gone outside, so you hurry to catch up. You hesitate, then close the heavy door behind you. It only seems polite. There's a path leading away, through a forest of tall, dark, spindly trees. You wish you could ask someone how the hell all this works. Magic, probably. When confronted with such weirdness, the only solution is magic. It's the only thing that can possibly make sense. You left logic back on the surface.

Ahead of you, Frisk takes an exaggerated leap over a thick branch, arms swinging at their sides. Then, they bend down to gather up a handful of snow, patting it into a careful ball. Glancing back at you, you spy the mischievous grin spread over their face.

Oh no. "Don't you do it, kid!"

You duck and the snowball sails over your head, landing with a soft fssh of crumbling snow. Frisk is laughing, but they squeal as you lean over to gather up your own projectile. They're frozen in place, looking for someplace to hide.

The snowball hits them square in the chest and they're giggling now, trying to brush the ice off their sweater. Distracted, Frisk doesn't even notice you running towards them. You're careful to jump over that branch in the path, then wrap your arms around their middle. You lift them off their feet and spin. Laughter is filling the air, more laughter than you've heard in a long time from either of you. It's good. In this moment you're happy. Maybe this place isn't so bad.

A sharp crack rings out in the cold air and your laughter dies on your lips. You lower Frisk back to the ground, keeping yourself between them and the sound as you glance over your shoulder. There's nothing there. But... the branch. It's cracked into three pieces. A chill runs down your spine that has nothing to do with the cold.

"Come on, let's keep moving," you say, taking Frisk's small hand in yours.

"Wait," they try to argue, but you're not having it. You're spooked and you want to keep moving forward.

You hope you don't look too scared. Too late, you think that maybe you're only making Frisk more worried. With a quick glance, you see their eyes are downcast, looking at their feet as you hurry them along. You can apologize later, when you feel safer.

There's a small footbridge ahead, over which is some kind of wooden gate. It must be meant to keep out something bigger than people though, because you can already tell it would be nothing to slip between the posts. As you're about to reach the bridge, you can hear heavy footfalls in the show behind you. Your grip around Frisk's hand tightens as they dig in their heels and you jerk to a stop.

"Wait," Frisk says again, tugging on you. 

The footsteps behind you stop. You're certain there's someone behind you, and even though you want to run you can't. Not with Frisk fighting you. You open your mouth to say something, but you're interrupted.

"H u m a n s.  D o n ' t  y o u  k n o w  h o w  t o  g r e e t  a  n e w  p a l?" The voice is low and quiet, you almost don't hear it. "T u r n  a r o u n d  a n d  s h a k e  m y  h a n d."

Taking advantage of your shock, Frisk pulls their hand free and turns around. Before you can register what's happening, the air fills with the wet sound of... a fart? If your heart wasn't pounding you might laugh at the absolute absurdity of whatever the hell is going on.

You turn, and Frisk is giggling at a grinning skeleton in a blue jacket. 

"heheh... the old whoopee cushion in the hand trick," he says, and his voice is different. Louder, friendlier, smooth and deep. "it's always funny."

After everything you probably shouldn't be surprised, but there is a skeleton. A skeleton shaking your baby's hand. You think your mouth might be hanging open.

The skeleton looks up at you —he's kind of short, his eyes are at collarbone level on you— two tiny pinpricks of light serving as pupils inside dark eye sockets. His grin never changes, but something makes you think he looks... confused for a second. "i'd say you two are humans, but are you sure you're not a froggit? you're gonna catch flies with your mouth hanging open like that, buddy."

You quickly close your mouth and swallow. Maybe you're blushing, because all of a sudden your cheeks feel warm and you're embarrassed. That was probably rude of you, gawking at him like that. You hope that the next time you see a new kind of monster you don't make a fool out of yourself.

"sorry if i scared you," he says with a shrug and lazy tilt of his head. "i'm sans, sans the skeleton. i'm actually supposed to be on watch for humans right now. but... you know... i don't really care about capturing anybody."

Capturing?!

Frisk doesn't seem worried about that part. They give Sans a big smile. "I'm Frisk, and this is my Sissa." They take hold of your hand again.

"hmm, what's a sissa? sounds sorta silly," he says, drawing out the 's's like he's telling a joke. Maybe he is; it makes Frisk laugh at least.

"Sister. I'm their sister," you say, and the lie comes out naturally. You've been telling it for six years.

You don't know why, but Sans gives you an odd look before nodding. What reason could he possibly have to doubt you? Even though you are lying, you feel frustrated. "that's pretty cool, kiddo. i've got a brother, siblings are cool aren't they?"

Frisk gives an enthusiastic nod. 

"my brother papyrus, though... he's a bit of a human-hunting fanatic. i think he might actually be coming this way." Sans must notice the worried look on your face because he gives you a wink. Somehow. His skull is a lot more animated than you'd expect a skull to be, but that must be because he's not actually a human skeleton. He's a monster. They just don't play by the same rules. "don't worry though, buddy. he hasn't got a mean bone in his body. and i'll keep an eye socket out for you guys."

Chapter Text

The trip to Snowdin is a long one, thanks to the skeleton brothers. Along the way through the forest you're tested by a variety of puzzles (Frisk insists on solving all of them themselves) and you meet more monsters (quite a few of which are dogs that just want pats). Though at first Papyrus's loud voice and flamboyant behavior are a bit startling, Sans's reassurances are enough to calm your nerves. It helps that Frisk is loving every second of it. They're adapting surprisingly well to being surrounded by monsters. Kids are resilient like that, you guess.

Sans is easy to like, and his love for his brother is endearing. And the jokes. The constant puns that you try so hard to resist. When you finally break —an ugly snort you fight to keep in— Sans's grin widens and he winks at you. Papyrus's loud complaints, even as he's fighting his own smile, just makes you laugh harder.

Papyrus is tall and loud. He switches so easily between boasting about himself, admonishing Sans, and encouraging you that it makes your head spin. But he's kind, and as you move forward you see Sans is right. Papyrus doesn't really want to hurt either of you.

You're standing with Papyrus as Frisk is running over a switch puzzle. Their face scrunches up in concentration as they work on turning X's into O's, and you catch yourself smiling as you watch them.

"So," you say, drawing out the word. Papyrus's head turns towards you as he realizes you're speaking to him. "Why aren't you trying to capture me right now, while I'm just standing here?"

Papyrus's eyes widen, and somehow he looks offended. "I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WOULD NOT STOOP SO LOW! AND YOU CLEARLY MISUNDERSTAND, HUMAN. I AM TRYING TO CAPTURE YOU, RIGHT NOW, WITH THIS PUZZLE, THAT IS A TRAP! A PERFECTLY CUNNING TRAP. A MAGNIFI—OH IT SEEMS THE LITTLE HUMAN HAS SOLVED IT."

Frisk runs back to you with a smile on their face, looking between you and Papyrus.

"EXCELLENT JOB, LITTLE HUMAN. I SHOULD HAVE SUSPECTED THAT— HUMAN, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?"

As Papyrus speaks to Frisk, his arm shoots up in a way that's meant to be enthusiastic. But, the sudden movement of a raised hand so close and by someone so much taller than you has you flinching and ducking away against your will. Panic flutters in your chest, because flinching away always makes her angrier, makes it worse. You bow your head and take a step backwards, stumbling and falling onto your backside in the snow.

"HUMAN, WHAT IS WRONG? DID I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, SOMEHOW DO SOMETHING TO FRIGHTEN YOU?" Papyrus is reaching out to you, offering a hand to help you up.

You shake your head and suddenly it's hard to breathe. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it." You're blurting out the words as if she's standing there, glowering over you as you curl in on yourself.

"Sissa? What's wrong?" Frisk sounds worried. You want to tell them you're okay, but you're not.

"hey, bro. why don't you go check on that next puzzle for me, i got this." Sans wasn't there a second ago but he's here now, bony hand curling around Papyrus's wrist and pulling him away from you.

"I... I SEE YOU ARE JUST TRYING TO BE LAZY, SANS. BUT I WILL DO THIS JUST THIS ONCE!" He's hesitating, and even as you bury your face in your knees you can feel him watching you. "SANS, MAKE SURE THAT THE HUMAN IS OKAY, PLEASE. IT WOULD NOT BE FAIR TO MAKE THEM DO PUZZLES WHILE THEY AREN'T FEELING WELL. AND I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM INCREDIBLY FAIR."

"yeah, pap. you got it, bro." Sans's voice is closer now, and you hear Papyrus walking away. "hey there, buddy. you take as much time as you need, but i just want you to know that everything is okay. you're okay."

The snow is melting and seeping into the seat of your jeans. It's cold, but you can't get up yet. You're sucking in deep breaths but it doesn't feel like you're getting enough air. You're trembling, but if it's from the cold or the panic you're not sure.

"buddy, can you look at me?"

You take in a deep breath and you manage to tilt your head upwards. Sans is squatting in front of you, his elbows resting on his knees. His permanent grin seems strained, and the white lights in his eyes are trained on your face.

"do you wanna hear a joke?"

You blink at him.

"i admit, it's pretty... humerus."

Your lips twitch, and he seems to notice.

"why did the skeleton go to the party alone?"

You swallow, and you notice that it's a little easier to breathe. "Why?" you ask, voice strained.

"he had no body to go with him."

Oh no, this is terrible. Is he going to crack terrible jokes until you feel better?

"why did the ghost get in the elevator?"

You admit that it's a good distraction. You can feel the spring-taut coil of tension in your chest start to unwind. Frisk is a few paces behind Sans, watching you. They press the long ends of their sleeves to their mouth. It's a nervous gesture, one you recognize easily. Seeing that they're worried, that they want you to be okay...

You can feel a little trickle of determination seeping through the panic that's got your insides gripped like a vice. 

"you gotta ask why, buddy," Sans says, a gentle reminder.

"Why?"

"that's how the joke works, of course." He winks at you as you purse your lips at him.

"Why did the ghost get in the elevator? Tell me."

"to lift his spirits."

You groan, but at the same time you catch yourself laughing weakly. "That's so bad," you mutter, sitting up a little straighter.

"you're smiling. you like it."

"You're awful."

"i'm sure papyrus would agree with you." Sans stands up, holding out a hand to you. Unlike Papyrus, he's not wearing any gloves. "you feel better?"

You do. Now that the fear is gone you're just embarrassed for losing it in front of everyone. Frisk is inching closer. God, Frisk. They didn't know what went on at home when they weren't around to see; you're thankful your mother had the sense to keep it quiet. But they have no idea why you had what you think is a panic attack. It's the last thing you want to explain.

You reach out and take Sans's hand, and you're struck by the fact that it's warm somehow. Smooth, dry, and warm. His grip is firm, and he pulls you up with more strength than you'd expect from a skeleton. As soon as you're on your feet he lets go, and you both shove your hands in your pockets almost immediately. 

"it's going tibia okay," he says, and if it wasn't for the wink to punctuate his joke you might think he was being serious. "we shouldn't leave papyrus waiting. my bro is a pretty cool guy, but i'd hate to leave him out in the cold."

As soon as Sans turns away Frisk is wrapping their arms around your middle, leaning forward to press their face into the softness of your stomach. You pull them close and smooth their hair.

"Don't be scared," Frisk mumbles against your jacket. "Papyrus won't hurt you."

"I know sweetie. I got scared, but it wasn't his fault. Not on purpose," you say.

"Are you okay now?"

"I'm better."

"I love you."

You pull them closer, and the tight feeling in your chest is pleasant this time. "I love you too."

Chapter Text

When you catch up to Papyrus, he's busy disabling the next puzzle. He turns as you approach, looking a little sheepish. "HUMAN! I... UH..." He looks away, tapping his foot. "THIS PUZZLE WAS NOT SO GOOD ANYWAY. THERE ARE OTHER, BETTER, MORE CHALLENGING PUZZLES UP AHEAD. MANY OF THEM. TO CATCH YOU. AND MORE DELICIOUS FOOD TRAPS FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT. AND TO CATCH YOU."

Sans is beside you, even though he wasn't there a second ago. You jump a little. He has this strange habit of just suddenly appearing when you aren't looking. "isn't this the last one?"

You remind yourself that logic has no place here as Papyrus starts to sweat. "YES."

Frisk steps between you and Papyrus, placing small fists on their hips. "Well, if it's the last one, I want to solve it!"

You hear a small chuff of laughter from the skeleton beside you as Papyrus's eyes seem to sparkle. Or are those actual sparkles? Maybe it's just the snow catching the light.

"YOU DO?"

Frisk nods enthusiastically.

"OH, WOWIE, UH..." Papyrus seems flustered for a moment before clearing his throat (you don't even bother to question this) and striking a pose. Despite the lack of wind, his trailing red scarf gives a valiant flutter. "PREPARE TO BE CONFOUNDED, HUMAN, FOR I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAVE CAREFULLY CRAFTED THIS MASTERFUL PUZZLE. AFTER HOURS OF TOILING AWAY TRYING TO SOLVE IT, YOU WILL FINALLY GIVE UP AND I WILL CAPTURE YOU! UNDYNE WILL FINALLY LET ME JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD, AND EVERYONE WILL WANT TO BE MY FRIEND!"

You can't help but smile as you watch Frisk bounce on their toes in anticipation. Papyrus, invigorated, goes to work to get his puzzle back in working order as he tells Frisk not to look. They cover their eyes with their long sleeves, grinning and turning away.

Sans is watching you. He's been doing that a lot, you notice. Whenever you turn to look at him he's already got his eyes on you and he doesn't even bother to pretend he isn't staring. "they seem to be having fun. frisk is a good kid."

You nod, trying not to let yourself feel uncomfortable. It feels like he's scrutinizing you, testing you. Judging you. You wonder what he's seeing.

"must be your good influence. sometimes... kids aren't always so good when they're scared and alone." You'd be more worried about the seriousness of his tone if it wasn't for the exaggerated shrug and sigh he ends his words with. "sometimes they are though. good, i mean."

You're not quite sure what he's getting at, and you don't really want to ask. Instead, you watch Frisk as they study the now-functional puzzle. They're playing at confusion, lamenting how lost they are in a loud voice. Papyrus lets out a "NYEHEHEH!" that you think is supposed to sound triumphant.

"thanks for playing along. i haven't seen papyrus this excited in a while. to be honest, he was getting a bit discouraged."

It's hard to imagine the tall skeleton discouraged. But you remember how worried he sounded about you, and it makes you a little sad. Their concern warmed you as you recovered from your episode, so now you're happy you can return the favor.

"do you want to talk about what that was all about, back there?"

You bite your lip. You really don't. You wondered if Sans was going to ask you about it, and now you have your answer. When he sees you hesitate he doesn't press. You're thankful for that.

"that's cool, buddy. as long as you're okay, i'm chill."

Groaning, you roll your eyes at Sans. "You're getting your jokes from snowdrakes now? Bad ice puns?"

"i'm offended. that was an excellent ice pun."

Papyrus is helping Frisk solve the puzzle now, giving them helpful hints. Each time they ask for his help his smile just seems to get brighter. Frisk really is a great kid. You wonder what would have happened to their indomitable spirit if you hadn't taken them away. It scares you a little bit, so you decide not to dwell on it anymore.

"Maybe I can entice you to make some better ones."

Sans's eyes widen before he starts shaking with laughter. He raises his shoulders as he chuckles, hiding part of his face in the fluffy hood of his blue jacket. It's... kind of adorable.

"i... icy what you did there," he says.

You try, and fail, to hold back a giggle. "Did I ever tell you that it was ice to meet you?"

"snow you didn't."

"OH MY GOD, SANS! THIS IS THE WORST. HUMAN, STOP ENCOURAGING HIM!"

A loud, embarrassing snort escapes you which only makes Sans laugh harder. Even though your cheeks are burning you can't stop laughing.

"come on, bro. don't give me the cold shoulder."

"SANS!!!"


 

Sans warned you that Papyrus was going to want to fight. You hoped that maybe he was joking, but he wasn't. He didn't really want to, you could tell that much, but he was somehow convinced it was the only way to get what he wanted most: recognition and friends.

The bridge to the little village of Snowdin is behind Papyrus. To move forward, you need to get past him. Before you even realize what they're doing, Frisk is standing in front of Papyrus, their Soul glowing red in front of their chest.

"Frisk, what are you...?"

They look back at you with a determined grin. "Don't worry, Sissa. I'll make him understand that we don't need to fight."

"I just needed to make Toriel understand."

Is this what happened with Toriel too? A confrontation waged by the power of Frisk's Soul? You can only watch as Papyrus tilts his head back to force out a laugh, nervous sweat trickling down his skull. Maybe Frisk can do this.

But they shouldn't have to! You're the adult —their mother— how can you stand here and watch your six year old fight a skeleton twice their size? You take a step forward, but Sans catches you by the wrist.

"i wouldn't do that buddy. i... may not be able to see it, but i can tell that your soul isn't as strong as frisk's. and down here, that's what counts."

"Why aren't you stopping your brother? Frisk is just a child," you snap, low enough that only the short skeleton can hear you.

"buddy, frisk isn't just a kid. they..." He seems about to say something, but he hesitates. Sans shakes his head, like he's trying to shake off a bad memory. He winks at you, smile going crooked. "trust me, pap might give them a workout, but he won't hurt them. papyrus doesn't hurt people."

The way he says that, that Papyrus isn't the one that hurts people, seems to contain a silent accusation. Was he trying to say that Frisk might hurt his brother? Your mind rebels against the very idea, it's just so absurd. Frisk is the kid that comes crying to you when they step on worms by accident after it rains. 

Papyrus is still looking nervous, even though he's the one raising bones from beneath the snow. His attacks are slow, which Frisk is dodging with ease.

"I really liked your spaghetti, Papyrus. You should make me some more," Frisk says, smiling at him.

The skeleton looks flustered, blushing somehow. "A-ARE YOU... FLIRTING WITH ME? ARE THESE YOUR TRUE FEELINGS?! W-WELL, I'M A SKELETON WITH VERY HIGH STANDARDS!"

"I can make spaghetti with you, some time, if you want. Sissa showed me how to boil the noodles."

"OH NO, YOU'RE MEETING ALL MY STANDARDS!" Papyrus is sweating more now, wringing his gloved hands. "I GUESS THIS MEANS I HAVE TO GO ON A DATE WITH YOU...? LET'S DATE L-LATER! AFTER I CAPTURE YOU!"

For crying out loud, Frisk is six. "Is he serious?"

Sans chuckles, and you realize that he hasn't let go of your wrist. He must still worry that you might try to intervene. "he doesn't want to hurt the kid's feelings. don't worry about it."

 "We could just go now? I don't want to fight you," Frisk insists, sidestepping a slow moving bone that sinks back down into the snow.

"SO YOU WON'T FIGHT... THEN, LET'S SEE IF YOU CAN HANDLE MY FABLED 'BLUE ATTACK'."

Papyrus strikes a pose, his scarf fluttering. Then, with a look of concentration, a ring of orange glows within the darkness of his right eye socket. Wisps of magic trail out of his eye like vapor. Frisk freezes in place, just as a flurry of ghostly blue bones surrounds them and passes through them.

Sans's grip tightens on you as you jerk forward without thinking, your instincts screaming at you to go help Frisk. He's stronger than you, and it feels as though something else other than sheer force is holding you back. Like his Soul is overpowering yours. 

"Sans," you plead, worry weighing heavy in the pit of your stomach.

"what did i say, buddy? everything is going tibia okay." He's watching Frisk and Papyrus, not even glancing at you when you speak to him.

The blue bones have faded, and for a moment it seems like Sans is right. The attack did nothing to Frisk. But then the bright red glow of Frisk's Soul turns blue, making them gasp and fall down to one knee. They grimace, straining to push back to their feet as though weighed down by something heavy.

What did Papyrus just do? What did it mean that Frisk's Soul changed color?

"Frisk!"

"I'm okay, I'm not hurt," they shout back at you. "It's just... heavy."

"YOU'RE BLUE NOW. THAT'S MY ATTACK!" Papyrus is laughing, though he still looks a bit uncertain. 

There's nothing you can do but watch as more bones sweep through the snow towards Frisk. They're much slower now, but they can still dodge, talking to Papyrus through it all. Telling him about how cool they think he is, and how much they want to just hang out with him instead of fighting. The tall skeleton hadn't really wanted to do this in the first place, and you can tell that he's losing more and more of his nerve.

"JUST LET ME CAPTURE YOU!" Papyrus says, wincing as a bone clips Frisk's shoulder. You grit your teeth but don't try to fight San's grip on you, knowing it's pointless.

"But I'd rather go on that date," Frisk answers, still smiling.

"ARGH! FINE, I'LL JUST HAVE TO USE MY ULTIMATE ATTACK!"

You aren't sure what you're expecting, but as Papyrus raises his hand a large bone pops out of the snow... with a fluffy white dog gnawing on it. The skeleton's jaw drops.

He starts stomping his foot. "HEY! THAT'S MY ULTIMATE ATTACK, LET THAT GO!"

The dog's ears perk up and it looks at Papyrus, then starts dragging the bone away. You all just watch it go.

Frustrated, Papyrus clenches his fists and drags them up into the air, the orange glow filling his eye socket. "FINE. I'LL JUST USE THIS NORMAL ATTACK!"

He looks shocked for a second as rows and rows of bones raise up from underneath the snow. His shock changes to panic as they rush forward at Frisk. You can see in the look on his face that he didn't mean for this to happen, that he knows he overdid it.

You look at Sans as you feel him release your shoulder and he's smiling at you, a ring of blue in his left eye. One of his hands is outstretched in Frisk's direction, the other holding a finger to his mouth. He winks at you with his right eye, grinning up at you.

Frisk steels themselves before jumping over the first row of bones, and then... just keeps going. They look down as it all passes under them, laughing as they kick their feet in midair. Papyrus looks dumbfounded but relieved, and the orange glow in his eye is gone. When Frisk finally touches down back to earth with a gentle crunch of snow, you let out a breath you don't realize you were even holding.

You glance over at Sans and his eyes are just white pinpricks of light again. He shrugs. "told you."

You could hug him. You almost do, but he releases your arm and walks towards his brother. Papyrus is breathing hard (despite not having lungs) wiping his face as Frisk and Sans approach him.

"WELL, HUMAN... IT'S CLEAR YOU CAN'T DEFEAT ME! YEAH! I CAN SEE YOU SHAKING IN YOUR BOOTS!" Really, Papyrus is the one that seems to be shaking, though from relief or effort (or both) you aren't certain. "THEREFORE I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, ELECT TO GRANT YOU PITY! I WILL SPARE YOU, HUMAN!"

Frisk's now-red Soul vanishes back into their chest, and even after all that they're smiling up at Papyrus.

The smile the tall skeleton gives Frisk is short-lived, and soon his shoulders slump. "I CAN'T EVEN CAPTURE A HUMAN AS WEAK AS YOU. UNDYNE WILL BE SO DISAPPOINTED, AND SHE'LL NEVER LET ME JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD. HOW WILL I MAKE MORE FRIENDS?"

"I want to be your friend, Papyrus!" Frisk slips their small hand into his big one, shaking it back and forth to get his attention.

Papyrus looks down at their hands. For once it doesn't seem like he knows what to say.

You go to stand behind Frisk, resting one hand on their shoulder and holding the other out to him. "I'll be your friend too, Papyrus."

His jaw drops open and tears somehow pool in his eye sockets. "OH, MY, TWO FRIENDS?! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY!"

"how about, 'let's go back to our place because this cold just goes straight through me.'"

"SANS!"

Chapter Text

The bathroom is foggy with steam when you get out of the shower. You were in there a bit longer than you should have been, but the heat was a relief after walking around in cold, damp jeans. You're not exactly sure why the brothers have a bathroom in the first place. The rest of the house is pretty normal, all things considered, and it's easier not to try and figure it out.

The mirror squeaks as you wipe away the steam with your hand. You look at yourself. Somehow, after all the weird things that have happened so far, you still look just like yourself. Like nothing has changed. It's still you. You run a hand over the pale stretch marks that curve on either side of your navel like parenthesis, feeling the divots in your skin. Below those, right beneath your panty line, is a pink, uneven scar. Your finger trails over its surface. It's flush against your skin in places, raised and bumpy in others. The scar is unattractive, you think, but at the same time it comforts you. The marks on your skin are permanent reminders of Frisk. That they are yours, no matter what.

Frisk. You really should get dressed and make sure they're doing okay with Sans and Papyrus. There's a part of your brain that's still trying to cling tightly to some kind of rationality. It's questioning your decision to leave your child in the care of two skeletons, but for the most part you ignore it.

The last you heard, Papyrus and Frisk were going to have their date while you took your shower. You laugh softly to yourself at the thought and finish drying off with a beige towel. Sans promised you he'd make sure they didn't get into any trouble while you took a little time to yourself. It had been easy to succumb to the lure of hot water.

You find yourself wishing you had a brush after you towel off your hair. Frisk inherited your coloring. The long brown locks are a bit tangled now, but you make due with running your fingers through it as best you can. You wind it up into a damp, messy bun and secure it with an elastic tie.

That will have to do.

With your own clothes still drying after your trip through the forest, Sans and Papyrus lent you a few things. Papyrus is too tall, and if you're being honest, too thin for any of his pants to fit you. He offered up a loose t-shirt that made you laugh the moment you saw it. The shirt itself is black, with a white, silk screened ribcage on it. Is this the skeleton equivalent of a tuxedo shirt?

The black exercise shorts with the white stripe down the side are from Sans. They're identical to the ones he's wearing, though on him they go past his knees. On you, they fall right above them. You're surprised that they fit you as well as they do. Compared to his brother, Sans is quite literally big-boned. His proportions are all wrong for a human skeleton, at least as far as you can tell from his tibia and fibula.

You remind yourself, again, that Sans and Papyrus aren't human skeletons. They're monsters that look like skeletons.

You're grateful for the borrowed clothes. They'll be perfect to sleep in later. That was another thing that had come up. Papyrus insisted that you and Frisk stay the night with them and refused to hear a word to the contrary.

Honestly, you're happy for the excuse to put off trying to figure out what to do next. You hadn't wanted to stay in the Ruins with Toriel, but Snowdin is a friendly little village. And you've already made friends here, much to your surprise. What do you really have on the surface anyway? An abusive situation you successfully escaped (albeit in a rather unconventional manner) and a job you tolerate. Frisk seems happy here too.

Maybe...

Well, there will be plenty of time to worry about that. For now your grumbling stomach is more of a priority.

You can hear Frisk and Papyrus in the kitchen, and Sans is sitting on the couch as you come downstairs. The couch is a bit of a monster itself, nearly the length and width of a twin sized bed. You figure this has to do with Papyrus's height. At least it will serve well as a makeshift bed for you and Frisk later.

Sans's eyes shift over to look at you as you enter the room and you think you see his grin widen. It makes you a little self-conscious, so you glance down at your clothes and smooth them a bit. "nice shirt. feeling left out?"

"This was what Papyrus decided to give me. I didn't really want to seem ungrateful," you say, a little embarrassed and defensive.

Sans holds up his hand in a placating gesture. "heh, it's okay. i was just ribbin' ya."

You groan, rolling your eyes.

"it looks good though. better on you than papyrus."

You raise an eyebrow.

He raises both his brows in response, giving you a questioning look. "what, don't believe me? i wouldn't tell a fibula."

That one catches you off guard. You try to stop yourself from laughing but you can't, which makes it come out as an undignified snort. Your face is burning, even more embarrassed, as Sans shakes with laughter. When you collect yourself, you notice that his cheekbones are a little blue, like a blush.

"I'm going to go check on dinner before I make more of a fool out of myself," you say, raising a hand to scrub your face as if you can remove your blush through sheer willpower.

"what, don't be embarrassed. it's cute when you snort on accident."

You cringe. "No, no way. It's awful." It used to happen a lot more when you were younger, when you weren't afraid to laugh around your mother. Her lip would always curl when you snorted. ("My god. Stop embarrassing yourself. I can't stand that sound.")

"it's not. it's even better than applause. i'm making it my new goal." Sans slips his hands behind his head, slouching even further down the couch. His slippered feet are dangling above the floor.

You're not sure how to feel about that. If he was... well, honestly, if he was a human you'd think he was teasing you. The fact that he isn't makes you question his intentions, helps you give him the benefit of the doubt. What reason does he have to make fun of you? Still, it doesn't help you feel less embarrassed. If anything, your cheeks feel hotter.

"A-anyway, I'm going to check on dinner," you repeat, hurrying out of the room.

"suit yourself."

Frisk is sitting on top of the counter, tapping their heels against the cabinet beneath them. Papyrus is watching a pot of noodles boil over as he furiously stirs the contents of a saucepan, water hissing as it hits the stovetop. You resist the urge to both take over cooking and tell Frisk to get off the counter. It isn't your kitchen, and if Papyrus is fine with Frisk sitting up there, it isn't your place to say otherwise.

Frisk grins as you approach, leaning against the counter by their side. They laugh a little and tug on your skeleton shirt, but don't comment on it.

"So, how was your, uh, date?" you ask, glancing over at Papyrus's back.

"It was fun," Frisk says.

"I HOPE YOU CAN FORGIVE ME, HUMAN, FOR SHATTERING FRISK'S HEART INTO TINY, PAPYRUS-SHAPED PIECES. BUT UNFORTUNATELY, I CANNOT RETURN THEIR INTENSE LOVE FOR ME."

Frisk is trying not to laugh.

You pat the top of Frisk's head. "That's okay, Papyrus. It's not your fault."

"PHEW. THAT IS A RELIEF! NOW WE CAN ALL JUST BE FRIENDS, WITH NO HARD FEELINGS."

"Exactly."


 

Dinner is... indescribable.

Somehow Frisk wolfs down their own serving and even has seconds, much to Papyrus's delight. Sans watches you with that grin on his face as you brace yourself and soldier through your own dinner. You can't bring yourself to hurt Papyrus's feelings, but quickly refuse when he asks if you want more. You never actually see Sans eat his dinner, but when you check his plate it's empty.

Afterwards, you're alone in the kitchen while everyone else piles on the couch to watch TV (an Underground, monster television station, who knew?). Letting Papyrus cook for you was uncomfortable enough, that being one of your many responsibilities back home. Just seeing the dirty dishes in the sink is enough to make you anxious. You can almost hear your mother's voice in your head. ("Lazy, worthless... get off your ass and earn your keep, I don't care if you're 'tired.' What do you think I did all day?")

Maybe it's strange, but scrubbing at the burnt tomato sauce is relaxing. It silences the nagging feeling, and at least for the moment you don't have to worry about anything else. The familiarity is comforting.

You aren't sure if it's because you're distracted, or if it's just how he does things, but you don't notice Sans until he's sitting on the counter beside you. Jumping with a gasp, the soapy glass you're holding slips out of your hand and shatters in the sink. Your heart is hammering wildly in your chest.

"Oh god, I'm sorry!" you blurt out, trembling as you set aside the dripping scrub brush.

"don't worry about it," he says as you start fumbling with the shards of glass in the sink. You're putting the pieces in the remaining base of the cup to try and contain them. "hey, stop, let me do it. it's my fault."

"No, it's my fault," you choke out, tears springing to your eyes. You're still expecting him to get mad at you, for someone to start shouting. You broke their glass, damn it, how could you let that happen? Biting your lip, you try to hold back a shuddering breath but instead a sob escapes you. "I'm sorry, I can't believe I just did that."

As you drop another piece of glass with the others, Sans is standing beside you and pulling you away from the sink. "it was just an accident, buddy. go sit down. i can't get cut, so let me handle it."

You're frozen, unsure of what to do. His kindness is confusing and you don't know what to do with it. Nothing was ever 'just an accident' as far as anyone else was concerned. You broke something, you screwed up. It's your fault.

"c'mon, don't make me patella you twice," Sans says, nudging you towards the kitchen table. His smile is a little strained, you think.

Something in the concerned way he looks at you brings you back to yourself a little bit. You nod, blinking back the tears that thankfully never fall as you go to sit down. Your hands are wet, you realize, so you rub them on your borrowed shorts.

Sans is silent as he turns off the water and scoops up the remaining fragments in the sink. He doesn't even have to be careful about it, because like he said it can't cut skin he doesn't have.

"i came in here to ask if you were still hungry," he says, his back to you as he works. "i appreciate you humoring papyrus, but i know his cooking is pretty terrible. figured you could use some real food, if you're up for it."

"It's fine, I'm used to it," you say, without thinking. Shit.

He goes still for a moment, pausing in his movements before speaking. "used to what? being hungry?"

You don't answer, but he's right. You ate okay, but there was never quite enough to fill you up. Making sure that Frisk had as much as they needed was more important, and your mother would throw a fit if she didn't have enough on her plate. What was a little bit of hunger before bed when it came to taking care of Frisk?

You jump when Sans drops the remains of the shattered glass in the trash. He pulls off his blue jacket and shoves it into your hands. "put this on and get your shoes, we're going to grillby's."

Chapter Text

The cold air is bracing, especially against your bare legs. Thankfully, Sans's jacket is nice and warm for the top half of your body. You have the hood pulled up to try and protect your wet hair, but it doesn't do much. But the chill helps clear your head, washing away what remains of your fear.

Whatever lit the Underground during 'daytime' is dimmer now, giving Snowdin the look of a clear winter's night. It's quiet and peaceful, and if you didn't know any better you'd think you're back on the surface. Grillby's isn't far down the road. You can already see the warm orange glow of neon painted across pristine white snow.

Sans is silent at your side, his arms alternating between hanging at his sides and crossing over his chest. Like he doesn't know what to do with them without his jacket. His radius and ulna are about twice as thick as their human equivalents, you notice. If he were human, you'd describe him as 'short and stocky'. Though, really, even without any meat on his bones he still gives off that vibe.

He doesn't say anything to you as you reach Grillby's. He opens the door and for a moment you wonder if he's going to hold it open for you, but he just sort of holds it until you grab it for yourself and goes inside. You follow. The place is busy but not packed, and you recognize most of the dogs scattered at the tables. A few people greet Sans as you both pass, and he gestures at a pair of barstools. You lower your hood as you pull yourself onto a seat.

The owner —Grillby you guess— is quite literally made of fire. You resist the urge to lean towards him when he approaches, his heat warm and pleasant on your skin. You don't even bother to question how he's wearing glasses on his... face?

"you can have anything you want, buddy. well, so long as it's on the menu," Sans shrugs, his halfhearted attempt at lightening the mood falling flat.

You glance down the bar to see what other people are having, and your mouth waters at the sight —and oh, now that you see them you recognize the smell— of a large plate of french fries. "Fries. I'd love some fries," you say, and something in Sans's face relaxes at your enthusiasm.

"that does sound good. grillby, two fries."

Grillby gives a silent nod and walks off to the kitchen. You watch him go, your mind puzzling over how exactly a fire monster works. After a moment of futility you look back over at Sans, and you're not surprised to see he's watching you.

But even though you're expecting it, you can't hold his gaze. You look down at the bar, tracing the polished woodgrain with your finger. Why doesn't he just ask, already? He wants to, you can feel it in the air, the tension hanging between you.

"i wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, when you had that panic attack in the forest," he says quietly. "i figured, hey, the girl's had a bit of a rough day, who wouldn't be a little on edge, y'know?"

You risk a glance back over at him. The lights in his eyes are a little dimmer, the corners of his mouth canted slightly downwards. "but things are just adding up a little strange. you could say i can... feel it in my bones."

Your lips twitch a little, and you cross your arms on the bar, leaning forward as you look at him. "Boo," you say, your voice falling flat.

He shrugs, his smile looking more like an actual smile and less like a grimace. "hey, they can't all be winners. but what i'm trying to say, buddy, is that i can tell something's going on. so if you want to talk about it, i'll listen. i'm good at that because it doesn't take much effort."

Before you can say anything —though, you're still trying to figure out what to say— Grillby is back with your fries. He sets the plates down in front of you both and pulls out a bottle of ketchup from behind the bar. Sans dumps about half of it on top of his fries before putting the bottle between you two, in case you want some.

You shove a few fries in your mouth, chewing and swallowing as you think of how to answer him. Maybe it's because it's been a long, exhausting day, or because that spaghetti was just so bad, but these fries are the best damn fries you've had in your life. They're hot, fresh, and slightly crispy on the outside while soft on the inside. You have a few more mouthfuls before you can break yourself away from your food to talk.

"Things... weren't good for me back home," you say. You look at Sans again and he's just watching you, patiently. "It's... it happens, not all parents are great. But it doesn't matter anymore. She's up there, and I'm down here."

You go back to picking at your fries, your enthusiasm a little diminished. Sans is quiet.

"so things weren't great for frisk either?" he asks, after a little while. It sounds like he's trying to piece something together, figuring out how the parts fit.

You sigh, debating how much you want to say. "Things were okay, until, well... a couple nights ago. The night before we ended up down here. My mom hit Frisk, it's why I took us away. I grew up with that shit, I was used to it, but..." You realize your hands are balled into fists and your throat is tight. Swallowing, you continue to stare at your food. "I thought she wouldn't hit Frisk as long as she still had me to smack around. I thought, as long as Frisk was okay, it didn't matter what she did to me."

Shaking your head, you let out a slow, steadying sigh. "I almost didn't... I almost wasn't determined enough to leave. But I— I couldn't let Frisk go through what I went through. For some reason I think that... if I hadn't left that night, I would've lost Frisk forever. That they'd, I dunno, run away. I wanted to, when I was younger, but I never had the guts. Frisk would, though, I think." You bite your lip, glancing over at Sans as you say, "Does that make sense?"

For a second you think you see a hint of blue in his left eye, but it's gone before you're sure of what you're seeing. Instead, his eye sockets are dark and there's sweat gathered on the side of his skull, his mouth once again strained into a tight grimace. You realize that he's angry. Before you have the chance to apologize —you're not sure for what. For making him angry? For unloading all your baggage on him even though he offered to listen?— he speaks. His voice is a low grumble, frustrated. "more sense than you realize," he says, and you aren't sure you know what he means.

Sans looks away, and when he turns back to you the lights are back in his eyes. He gives you an uneasy smile. "and humans say we're the monsters... but at least i've never known a monster to beat their own kids."

Shame creeps up the sides of your neck and you look down at what's left of your fries.

A bony hand reaches out and rests on your forearm, giving you a small squeeze. "hey, for what it's worth, at least frisk has a great big sister like you."

The urge to correct him is so strong, you don't even want to resist. You told Sans the truth about everything else, so why not this? There aren't any good reasons, and God, you just want someone to know the truth. Why not him? "I'm not Frisk's sister. I'm their mother."

You shove more fries in your mouth to distract yourself, suddenly afraid of Sans's reaction. Will it change how he thinks of you? Does he still think you're doing a good job with Frisk?

"h-how...?"

You glance at him out of the corner of your eye, swallowing. His eyes are wide, more surprised than you expected. Well, at least he's not disgusted with you... yet. "Well, you see, when two humans like each other—"

"i appreciate a good joke as much as the next guy, but that's not what i meant," he interrupts, squeezing your arm again. "i was gonna ask, how old were you?"

You use your free arm to prop your chin on, leaning with an elbow against the bar. "Fourteen," you admit, looking at Sans's hand curled into the fabric of his jacket. It's easier than looking at his face.

His grip on you tightens, and you aren't sure he does it on purpose. "you were just a kid."

You were desperate for someone to care about you, to be wanted and needed. It was the only way you could think of to feel like you mattered to someone, at least for a little while. "Shit happens."

"but frisk..." There's a pause where you can practically hear Sans fitting the pieces together. "oh. they think your mom is their mom too."

"Yeah. I didn't..." You close your eyes. "I was too scared to do what I needed to. She started taking over everything with Frisk and it was... easier to let her. It made her happy, and when she was happy things were better. And I didn't know what the hell I was doing, Sans."

He doesn't say anything. You open your eyes again and look at him. "I understand if you think less of me. I'm... not really sure what you think of me to begin with, to be honest."

"i think you're doing the best you can with a real fucked up situation," he says, and you're a little startled at his language. But, Frisk was nearby before, maybe this is normal for him. "and all things considered, i admire what you've been able to do."

Admiration is the last thing you expect from your confession, and you're not sure what to say. You remove your hand from under your chin and feed yourself the last few fries on your plate. They've gone a bit cold, but they still taste good. 

"You can't tell Frisk."

"i won't, i figure that's something you gotta tell them yourself. but don't you think you should?"

"I... can't. Not yet. I will, though, when the time's right."

"no time like the present."

You make a noncommittal sound, and Sans lets the subject drop.

You look back up when Sans removes his hand from your arm, and you find yourself a little sad at the loss. "i should have said this earlier, but i'm sorry. sorry about all the shit you've gone through. i know that doesn't really help, but..."

"It does," you say, and you mean it. Your chest feels a bit lighter, freed a bit from your burden. Knowing that he understands why you've behaved the way you did, that he knows the truth about Frisk. It helps. "Thanks, Sans."

Before you're too afraid to go through with it, you lean forward to wrap your arms around Sans's shoulders. He goes rigid as you catch him off guard, but after a moment he hesitantly hugs you back. The jacket softens some of his hard edges, and the hug is a lot... nicer than you are expecting. You let your head fall against the cushion of your arm, forehead resting against his jaw as his head turns towards yours.

"Thank you," you say again, because you feel like you haven't done justice to just how thankful you are for him. "Not just for listening. For everything. You're a real friend, even if you do tell terrible jokes."

He rubs a small circle between your shoulders, then gives you a comforting squeeze. "oh, i know you think i'm a bit of a comedian, but i'll admit. i'm a stand-up guy."

You groan and push yourself away, giving him a weak glare in response to his smug grin. "Aaaand the tender moment is over."

He shrugs, winking. "what can i say? i'm just heartless."

"No," you protest, but you're laughing. You hate it, but it cheers you up at the same time.

"what, do you have a bone to pick with me?"

You're shaking now, burying your face in your hands. "I hate you, I take back all the nice things I said," you manage to say between laughs.

"don't bee that way, honey."

Sans gets what he wants. You snort, even as you try to hide it behind your hands. He takes hold of your shoulders and pulls you into another hug, patting your back as you feel him shake with laughter. As your laughter eases away, you uncover your face and hug him back, resting your chin on the stiff curve of his clavicle.

"Thanks," you say again, voice soft. "I really needed that."

"you're welcome."

Chapter Text

"So, this is random but I need to know: why is there shampoo and conditioner in your bathroom?" 

Sans chuckles at your side as you make the short walk back towards his house, both of you in far better spirits than when you left. "heh, fair question. it's cuz of undyne. she's over here sometimes to hang out with papyrus. occasionally she spends the night and she got tired of carrying the bottles back and forth."

That's a surprisingly boring answer, you think. You were honestly expecting something different. You don't know what, exactly, but just something weird. "Will she be mad that I used them? She's... what did Papyrus say? The captain of the Royal Guard?"

"yeah... but if she finds out about you guys, her shampoo is going to be the last thing on her mind." He sighs, and when you glance over at him you're surprised to see him looking serious. Catching you looking at him, he gives you crooked smile. "but don't worry, buddy. papyrus hasn't said anything to her about you guys being here. and she hates the cold so she doesn't come to snowdin unless she has no choice."

You suppose that's reassuring. But, you get the feeling that this Undyne is going to be a problem sooner or later, whether you stay with the skeleton brothers or not. At least for the time being, you don't have to worry about it. No need to rush headlong into more trouble until absolutely necessary. "Speaking of Papyrus," you say, pointedly changing the subject, "do you think he'd be offended if I make dinner tomorrow?"

"you really don't have to keep helping out."

"I do if I want something edible," you grumble.

Sans laughs. "okay, fair enough. i don't think he'll mind."

"Cool. Then I'll go to the store in the morning."

"remind me to give you some money before you go."

"I—" you're about to argue when you catch yourself. You and Frisk had picked up a few gold coins along your way to Snowdin, but you're hesitant to spend them. "...okay. Thanks, Sans."

The living room is dark as you follow Sans through the front door, lit by the glow of their television. A cooking show hosted by a robot is playing, the sound turned down low enough that you can't make out what's going on. When you catch sight of the couch you smile, warmth swelling in your chest.

Papyrus and Frisk are both asleep. The skeleton is sitting upright, one elbow on the armrest and his gloved hand cradling his head. A fluffy pillow with a flamed pillowcase is in his lap, which Frisk is snuggled into. Their hair fans out around their head like a dark halo. Laying lengthwise along the rest of the couch, Frisk is wrapped up in a thick red blanket, expression peaceful. Papyrus's hand is resting on their side.

You and Sans exchange a look, and you can see the fondness in his expression. He made no secret of how he feels about his brother, but right now you can see it plain on his face. 

"I don't really want to move them," you admit, whispering.

"got to, unless you want to sleep on the floor," he says. "i'll get my bro if you can pick up frisk."

You nod. You don't really want to sleep on the floor.

Frisk mumbles a little in their sleep as you scoop them up, still wrapped in their blanket. They're getting a bit heavy for you now, but you manage to lift them and shift them to the other end of the couch. Somehow, they don't wake up. Something about kids just lets them sleep deep like that.

As you take care of Frisk, Sans is pulling a groggy Papyrus to his feet. "c'mon bro, lets get you to bed."

"Sans?" he says, and you realize you've never heard his voice so quiet. Apparently Papyrus is capable of toning himself down a bit. "Ah, you're back."

"yep."

Papyrus glances over at you, and for a moment he seems confused, like he doesn't recognize you. He takes a slow, deliberate blink and the look is gone. "Ah, human, I hope my brother was not poor company. If he was, I will take you for a walk myself instead next time," he says, stifling a yawn. With a quick peek at Frisk, he lets Sans guide him up the stairs.

You really ought to get ready for bed yourself. You take off Sans's jacket and drape it over the armrest of the couch, pulling the elastic band out of your hair. You shake it out. The deepest layers are still damp, which is no surprise. Some tangles catch on your fingers as they comb through.

Catching yourself yawning, you grab the discarded pillow and shift Frisk onto it, closer to the back of the couch. You feel better taking the outside, knowing Frisk can't roll off and onto the floor in the middle of the night. Right as you're about to lay down next to them, you hear a familiar voice.

"hey," Sans whispers, getting your attention without startling you like he normally does. He's at your side before you even notice him approach, and you're starting to wonder how exactly he does that. Monster magic, you decide. Your go-to answer for the unexplainable down here. He has a blanket and pillow in his hands and he's holding them out to you. "thought you might need these. kiddo hogs the blankets."

You take them, glancing down at Frisk and back at Sans. "Yeah, they do. Good guess."

Sans's chuckle sounds a little forced. "right, yeah. pap was like that as a kid too, liked to wrap himself up like a burrito with every blanket he could get his hands on." You laugh softly and Sans shrugs. "actually, he still does that sometimes. some things never change."

"Thanks," you say, gesturing with the pillow and blanket in your hands.

He nods, picking up his jacket and slipping it on. "sleep good." He turns off the television on his way out.

You watch him climb back up the stairs before shaking out your blanket and laying down. As you settle in, Frisk shifts beside you, scooching closer. You roll to your side and pull them to you. Frisk's face burrows under your chin, and a warm, contented feeling fills your chest as you breathe in the familiar scent of their hair. For a moment it doesn't even matter that you're borrowing a skeleton's couch for your bed. Here with Frisk you feel at home.

"Sissa?" Frisk mumbles into your chest, rubbing their face against your shirt.

You smooth back their hair, stroking the side of their face. "I'm here, sweetie. Go back to sleep."

"Mmmm." Frisk's body relaxes, and soon you can tell by their breathing that they're sleeping again.


 

Sans hesitates as he reaches the door to his bedroom, and turns to look down over the railing to the living room below. He can just make out the shape of you and Frisk through the darkness.

His jacket smells like you —well, you and Undyne's shampoo. He's afraid to admit to himself that he kind of likes it.

It's been so long that he barely remembers what hope feels like. But looking down at you, he can feel it stirring like buried embers in his chest.

After going through the same motions over and over again, he finds himself at a loss. He doesn't know what to say to you, what to expect when he talks to you. Frisk is a little different each time he meets them, but fundamentally, their path is almost always the same. Usually they're kind. Sometimes, the worst times, they're not. Those times, they've never made it past him. They try and try until they give up and restart again. When Frisk comes back after those times, it takes them longer to warm up to him, as if deep down a part of them remembers. But they don't, not really. 

But this time...

This has never happened before. You have never happened before.

This changes everything.


 

Sans isn't home when you get back from the store with Frisk. 

"HE IS WORKING. AS HE SHOULD BE, THE LAZYBONES," Papyrus tells you, following you into the kitchen and eyeing your bags of groceries with curiosity. "THOUGH HE IS PROBABLY JUST SLEEPING AT HIS STATION."

"Oh, okay," you say, trying to hide your disappointment. Papyrus doesn't seem to notice.

"WHAT DID YOU GET FROM THE STORE? THOSE DON'T LOOK LIKE THE INGREDIENTS FOR SPAGHETTI."

Definitely not. You line up an assortment of vegetables on the counter and hand a bundle of meat (it looks like beef, you try not to think about it) wrapped in butcher's paper to Frisk, pointing at the fridge. Considering a fair portion of Snowdin's population is rabbits, you weren't too surprised at the selection of vegetables at the store. Carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, snow peas, an onion, and some of the largest white mushrooms you've seen will make for a delicious stir-fry. They even had soy sauce and rice. Again, you just accepted it and moved on.

"I'm making veggie and beef stir-fry," you tell him.

"It's really good! Sissa makes it all the time at home!" Frisk adds, smiling.

Your boss used to let you take home food that was about to turn, things that were still edible but not quite good enough to serve to customers. A lot of the time it included a variety of vegetables, and stir-frying was a quick and easy way to make a meal from them.

Papyrus eyes your selection, looking doubtful. But he can't help but smile back at Frisk. "I SEE! WELL, SINCE YOU LOVE MY SPAGHETTI, I KNOW YOU HAVE GOOD TASTE! I WILL TRY IT."

"I'll try not to let you down, Papyrus," you say, biting back sarcasm.

"DON'T WORRY. IF YOU DO, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL HELP LIFT US BOTH UP. I WILL ELEVATE YOUR CULINARY PROWESS TO MATCH MY OWN." He hesitates, resting his hands on his hipbones. "WELL, PERHAPS NOT MATCH BUT I WILL GET YOU CLOSE!"

You can't help but smile. Papyrus's enthusiasm is infectious, and even as he seems to doubt you cooking skills he manages to encourage you as well. Sans is right, his brother is pretty cool. "Thanks. You're a great friend," you say in all sincerity.

"WOWIE, I UH..." He blushes a little, dropping his hands away from his hips and looking a little flustered. "I MEAN, I AM! THE GREAT PAPYRUS. BUT YOU, HUMAN. YOU ARE ALSO PRETTY GREAT! PLEASE NEVER FORGET THAT!"

His eyes widen when you take hold of his hand. Part of you wants to hug him, but you're not quite sure how he'd react to that. Something about the way Papyrus talks to you, his unbridled enthusiasm and reassurances, they go straight to your heart. How do these two skeletons keep doing this to you? How do they seem to bypass the layers of hurt and fill you with warmth? For the longest time, only Frisk could do that.

"Sissa? Are you okay?" Frisk is looking up at you with concern, and you realize your vision is blurry with tears.

Papyrus looks puzzled as you let him go, feeling embarrassed. You keep letting your feelings get the better of you. "Sorry, I'm fine," you say, rubbing your eyes.

Two long, bony arms wrap around you as Papyrus gently hugs you. "MY KINDNESS HAS OVERWHELMED YOU! I'M SORRY HUMAN, I UNDERESTIMATED THE POWER OF MY FRIENDSHIP. PLEASE DON'T CRY."

You start laughing, because even though he makes it sounds ridiculous, in a way it's true. You hug him back, and when you both pull away he's smiling again, reassured that you're okay.

Papyrus spends the rest of the day with you, keeping you company. The three of you take a walk around Snowdin, made much more entertaining by the skeleton's colorful commentary. You realize, gradually, that none of the other monsters seem to understand that you and Frisk are human. Considering that few monsters seem to look alike, you sort of understand their confusion. To them, the two of you must just be another kind of monster. Papyrus doesn't correct any of them.

Later, Frisk and Papyrus have a snowball fight with some of the local children. You make sure to keep to the sidelines, in no hurry to get your clothes (your own, familiar clothes) soaked again. Happy enough just to watch, an unfamiliar sense of contentment settles over you. Frisk squeals with laughter as they get hit in the side of the face with a snowball, rosy-cheeked from the cold. You can already tell the'll need a change of clothes as soon as you get back home. And a hot shower wouldn't hurt.

You wish every day could be like this. But with that hope comes the fear of this happiness ending. Everything is so uncertain. The Royal Guard wants to capture humans, though you're not sure why. Toriel seemed confident that leaving the Ruins would put you both in danger, and you can only guess it's because of that.

Frisk interrupts your thoughts, running to you and flinging their arms around your middle. "I won!" You smile down at them and push damp hair out of their eyes as they grin up at you, breathing heavily.

"NO, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WON!" Papyrus is shaking snow out of his skull, tilting his head forward to let it fall out of his eye sockets. If Sans were here, you're sure he'd make some kind of joke about brain freeze.

"How do you win a snowball fight?" you ask them both, gently prying Frisk off of you in an attempt to keep yourself dry.

"You hit everyone else more than they hit you," Frisk says as you put a hand on the back of their neck and start steering them back towards the house.

Papyrus falls into step beside you. "THEN CLEARLY I AM THE VICTOR!"

They argue all the way back, right up until you force Frisk into the shower.


 

The rice is cooking on the stove top as you gather up what you'll need to prepare the rest of dinner. Digging through the drawers and cabinets (one of which is filled with bones) you thankfully find everything you need.

"Sissa, do you need help?" Frisk asks as you untie the bag of snow peas and set a bowl on the table to put them in as you clean them.

Frisk is dressed in a pair of cotton shorts borrowed from Papyrus, the drawstring pulled tight to keep them around their small hips. On them, though, they're more like pants. A wide-necked t-shirt is falling off one shoulder. The shirt says 'BEST' written in what looks like permanent marker.

You decide not to comment. "Wanna help me by cleaning these peas?"

Frisk makes a face. "That's boring."

It really is. Snapping off the stems is tedious, but someone has to do it. "Fine, how about chopping up those vegetables? I already peeled the carrots if you want to start on those."

"Okay!"

You sit down at the kitchen table to get to work on the snow peas, keeping an eye on Frisk as they carefully start chopping the carrots. You started teaching Frisk how to cook a year ago, and it had been a couple months since you started letting them use knives. You trusted them to be safe. They were a quick learner and took your directions and warnings to heart.

About a third of the way through the peas, Frisk is scraping the carrots off the cutting board into another bowl you had set aside. "Do you remember how to clean bell peppers?" you ask as they look over the remaining vegetables.

"You do it better," Frisk says, sounding doubtful.

"Well then how about slicing up those mushrooms. They're too big to leave whole. They don't need to be pretty, and rinse them first!"

Frisk does as you ask as you keep bending the ends off the peas with a satisfying snap. You're halfway done with the bag when you glance up to check on Frisk's progress, and you see Sans standing in the doorway.

Sans is frozen in place, the white lights of his eyes focused on the knife in Frisk's hand. He looks... frightened. Sweat is beading on the side of his skull.

"Sans?" you say.

He flinches but doesn't look at you. Frisk is too busy carefully slicing mushrooms to notice.

"Sans?" you say again, and this time he turns his head.

For a second he looks lost, but as he focuses on you, you can see him visibly relax. Glancing at Frisk and back at you, he wipes at his skull with a handkerchief pulled from his pocket. "aren't... aren't they a little young to be using knives?" he asks, and you can't help but notice the slight tremor in his voice.

"They need to learn sometime," you say, shrugging. Frisk always wanted to help you, with cooking especially. 

"hey kiddo, why don't you let me help your sister, i think papyrus could use some company." Sans holds out his hand for the knife.

Frisk looks up at him, and for a second you think you see a glare flash across their face. But the moment you try to comprehend it the look is gone, and they're handing the knife to Sans, handle-first like you taught them. That was strange.

If Sans saw anything out of the ordinary he doesn't say anything. Instead he just picks up where Frisk left off.

"Hey, come here," you say as Frisk goes to leave the room.

They turn and come to you obediently, a question in their bright eyes. You can't see any traces of anger in their face, just the same sweet Frisk you've always known. "What is it?"

You shake your head, smiling at them. You catch hold of the back of their neck with one hand and pull them down to you so you can kiss their forehead. Frisk gives a loud protest and squirms away, leaving you chuckling as they escape the kitchen.


 

It takes a few minutes for Sans's hands to stop shaking.

Chapter Text

You don't think you'll ever forget the look on Papyrus's face the moment he tries your dinner. His jaw goes slack after he swallows (nope, not going to ask) and you find out that those sparkles you thought you saw the other day? Yeah, they're actual sparkles. They're the same orange shade of his magical eye, so you think it's got something to do with that. He apologizes to you over and over for ever doubting your cooking prowess, and after every bite he makes an enthusiastic noise of approval.

You're so happy, and proud, and embarrassed from Papyrus's attention. It's hard for you to eat when you can't stop smiling.

It's decided that in exchange for staying at the house, you'll take care of cooking. You could kiss Sans for suggesting it. Now you don't have to worry about hurting Papyrus's feelings, and it helps you feel less like a freeloader.

The next few days pass in a dizzying blur, so distracted by just enjoying your time in Snowdin.

Some of the local kids figure out that Frisk is staying with 'those funny skeletons' and they come by the house to see if they can come out and play. Frisk's eyes are so bright and they barely wait for your nod of approval before they're running out the front door. You wince as you notice one of the monster children stumble and fall on their face (they have no arms to catch themselves) but they just get up and laugh.

One day you and Frisk accompany Papyrus on his rounds through the forest. The two of you help him recalibrate the puzzles you completed, and you check in with the various dogs. You have to scold Frisk to stop petting Lesser Dog before their head clears the treetops. 

With their boundless energy, Frisk wants to go out with Papyrus again the next day. Not wanting to stay home by yourself, you leave with them in the morning but find yourself at Sans's station before long. Sans doesn't seem to mind the company. He cracks a few jokes, tells you a story about how Papyrus first started training under Undyne, but most of the day you enjoy a companionable silence. 

Sometime after lunch (Sans seems to materialize a pair of hot dogs out of thin air) you find yourself sitting on the floor of the small station. You lean against Sans as you stifle a yawn, and he doesn't say anything when you rest your head on his shoulder. It's so easy to be comfortable with him. He knows the ugly truth of your past and doesn't think you any lesser for it. It helps. He also doesn't pity you, or treat you like you're fragile. He's more considerate about startling you now, and makes sure you're doing okay, but it's not coddling. He cares.

"frisk seems happy here," Sans says, waking you back up as you start to doze.

You make a noise of agreement.

"how about you?"

"I'm happy too."

"how happy?"

"A ton."

"a ton?"

"Yeah. A skele-ton."

He chuckles and pokes you in the side. You squirm a little, but refuse to lift your head from his shoulder. "joke stealer," he says, pretending to sound annoyed.

"I was just borrowing it, you can have it back. Skeleton puns are more your style, anyway."

You settle back down against him and close your eyes, nudging the fluff of his hood with your nose. As you start to drift off, you feel him lace his bony fingers through yours.


Sans knows he shouldn't let himself get attached. There's still that ever-looming threat that everything will just be reset. And if that happens, would you even be there with Frisk next time?

He doesn't know why this time is so different. He hopes that it means something, that maybe this will be the last time, once and for all.

And, if it is... can he really afford not to care?


Papyrus finds the two of you a few hours later, startling you both awake with his scolding. You're embarrassed to find yourself nearly laying on top of Sans; you think he must have gradually slid into a more reclined position in his sleep, taking you with him. Face burning, you leap to your feet as though caught doing something scandalous. Sans's cheekbones are blue, and when Papyrus's back is turned he winks at you. Your face gets hotter, and you aren't sure you understand what's going on.

Frisk is unusually quiet on the way back home, and insists on holding your hand. 

Your anxiety isn't gone, but it's better than it was. Papyrus's sudden movements and loud voice still make you flinch out of reflex, but if he notices he never mentions it or makes you feel guilty. Sans stops telling you that you don't need to help out around the house. Doing things, feeling productive, it helps keep the (unfounded) guilt from nagging at you in your mother's voice.

A week into your stay with the skeleton brothers you decide to make cookies. Frisk is out playing with the other kids, Papyrus is out tending to his puzzles, and Sans is inside with you.

Sans sits on the counter as you pull out everything you need (you picked up the ingredients the day before), watching you with that grin on his face. You're used to the way he always seems to be looking at you, or at least you thought you were. After napping on him the other day there's been some kind of silent tension in the air. Not for the first time you wonder if he sees you as more than just a friend, but... no, that's impossible. He's a monster, a walking skeleton. How would that even work?

You've been wondering about that more than you'd like to admit.

Cookies. Right. That's what you're supposed to be doing right now. You measure and set aside a bowl with flour and baking soda, and start to combine the other ingredients. But, where's the sugar? You could have sworn you got it out... oh, you spot it next to Sans.

You hold out your hand. "Can you give me the sugar?"

"sure, i've got some sugar for you." 

Before you understand what he's trying to say, Sans takes hold of your hand and pulls you towards him, cupping your face with one hand and brushing his mouth against your cheek. You think... you think that was meant to be a kiss? Oh. Oh.

No, this is Sans. It must be a joke. He saw the opportunity and took it, that's all. You pull away, cheeks burning. "Don't tease me like that," you manage to say in a small voice.

"i'm not teasing," he says, and you notice that even though he's smiling, he seems serious. "at least, not in the way you think."

"And what exactly do I think?" Your voice is higher than you like, a thrill of anticipation prickling under your skin.

"how about i just come out and say it, instead of dancing around it by pretending to be a mind reader." He leans forward a little bit, studying your face. You bite the inside of your lip. "i like you. in the 'let me take you on a date tonight' kind of way."

You blink. "Are you... asking me out?"

He raises a brow and his grin widens. "i'm pretty sure that's what i just did, yeah."

"But, I... Sans, I'm a human." This is just crazy. He can't be serious.

"i happened to notice that, yeah. what about it?"

His lack of concern gives you pause, but you press forward. "Even if this whole dating thing works out, what then? Ignoring the fact that Frisk and I are currently freeloading on your couch, how would... things... even work?" Your face feels hotter, but it's better to talk about this now before you get too involved. You also admit that you're a little curious.

Sans chuckles. "i, uh, admit i'm not exactly familiar with how all this," he gestures at you, from your head to your toes, "works. but i'm fairly confident we can figure something out. if, uh, you want to. if it gets to that." He makes a noise like he's clearing his throat and glances away for a second.

There are plenty of reasons you should say no. How much longer will you and Frisk even be around? Granted, the way things are going you don't seem to be leaving Snowdin any time soon, but can the two of you really stay in the Underground? Before, Sans had asked you if you were happy here. And you are. You've never felt happier, more at ease.

Sans scoots closer to you, still perched on top of the counter. He's starting to look a little uncomfortable. "c'mon, buddy, throw me a bone here. you can say no, i'll understand, but can you give me an answer at least?"

Fuck it, why not? You like him, he likes you... who knows what's in store for you and Frisk in the future, but for now... "Okay," you say, nodding and smiling. "I'd like that, a lot actually."

His smile widens again, and he looks pleased. "cool. i'm sure pap will have a ball with frisk." He holds out a hand to you and you give him yours, smooth bone sliding under your fingers and palm. It's a familiar, comforting feeling now. You wonder how his hands would feel under your clothes. "i promise that you're gonna have a good time."

Chapter Text

Frisk holds their giant bowl of popcorn over their head as you tuck a blanket around them, snuggled up with Papyrus on the couch. The popcorn for dinner is something of a peace offering. News that you and Sans were going out alone had gone over worse than you expected. They whined and pouted, complaining that they had barely seen you all day, which you reminded them was because they were out with their new friends. You had been at home. Frisk never comes out and says it, but you think that maybe they're jealous of the attention you've been giving Sans. You haven't had a boyfriend (not that you have one now, you don't want to get ahead of yourself) since before Frisk was born. Hell, you hardly have friends to spend time with (present company excluded of course). Frisk just isn't used to having to share your attention.

You don't like knowing that Frisk is just going to stuff themselves with popcorn, but it's always cheered them up. They always thought of having popcorn for dinner and watching movies as a treat. In reality, it was because there was nothing else. Your mother would leave the two of you alone sometimes for days at a time with no money, and an empty kitchen. Sometimes you could bring home food from work, but you didn't want to make a habit of it. Your boss might get suspicious. Instead, you kept a bulk container of popcorn kernels stashed away for emergencies.

There were lots of experiments with toppings scrounged up from around the house. You made it into something exciting for Frisk, instead of an act of desperation while you waited for your mother to come home. 

Frisk stuffs popcorn in their mouth but doesn't look at you. Papyrus glances at Frisk and up at you, then over at Sans where he's standing by the door. He seems to be thinking about something, his eyes narrowing as he drums his fingers on his leg.

"SANS. I SEE THAT YOU ARE HOGGING THE TALLER HUMAN ALL TO YOURSELF." You glance back at Sans, who seems to be trying to look casual. Emphasis on trying. Frisk frowns at the bowl of popcorn and shoves another handful into their mouth. "SO BE IT. I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAVE ALREADY DECIDED THAT FRISK IS MY FAVORITE HUMAN!"

Frisk looks startled as Papyrus wraps his arms around them and pulls them closer. The bowl of popcorn wobbles but doesn't quite tip over.

"aw, darn, bro. and here i was just taking her out as consolation because i was going to say that frisk was my favorite human too." Sans gives a dramatic sigh and shrugs his shoulders."but you beat me to it."

Frisk looks up at you, trapped behind Papyrus's arms with wide, confused eyes. You resist the urge to smile, instead putting on an exaggerated pout. "It's okay, you guys. I understand. Frisk is my favorite human too."

Pushing their way past gangly skeletal arms, Frisk leans towards you. "B-but, Sissa...! You're my favorite human."

Grinning, you lean down to wrap Frisk in a tight hug. "Thanks, sweetie. You're not just my favorite human. You're my favorite everything, you know that right?"

They make a noncommittal noise into your shoulder.

"Right?"

"...yeah."

"Good." You squeeze them tighter, not letting go until Frisk starts whining and trying to wriggle free.

"Sissa, go away!" they complain, red-faced and embarrassed when you finally pull away.

You plant a loud, obnoxious kiss on their cheek that makes them squeal in protest while Papyrus and Sans laugh. "You be good for Papyrus."

"papyrus, you be good for frisk."

"Go away!" "GO AWAY, SANS!"


Sans is holding your hand in his jacket pocket, 'for warmth' he says. You're fairly certain that your own pockets are just as capable, but you don't argue. Part of you wants to tell him he doesn't have to come up with excuses to hold your hand, but you can't quite work up the nerve. You're not used to any of this.

As you get closer to Grillby's, you hear Sans let out a sigh. You look at him and he gives you an apologetic shrug. "sorry, we don't exactly have a lot of options in snowdin," he says. "well, actually there aren't any options. just grillby's."

"That's okay, now I can try more than just the fries," you say, smiling in a way you hope is reassuring.

"there's this place on the border of hotland and the capital that i'd like to take you —i've done a couple comedy shows there before. it's more the type of place you'd go on a date," he says, and he still sounds like he's apologizing. "maybe, once we've got your situation figured out better, we can go there."

You squeeze his fingers, nudging him with your shoulder. "Sure. It's a date."

Sans holds the door open for you this time when you get to the restaurant. He raises a hand to signal Grillby and leads you to an empty booth instead of the bar. When the owner comes to take your order, he seems to hesitate as he glances from Sans to you, then gives you a nod. You think that it might mean 'welcome back'.

The skeleton seems to be more comfortable now that he's in his element. He has you giggling over his jokes by the time your food arrives, and hearing you laugh has him grinning. While you're eating he tones down the jokes at least, so you don't choke.

He sticks more to groan-worthy puns instead.

"No, no, that's terrible," you protest, shaking your head and eating some fries.

Sans holds his burger, waggling the ridges of bone that serve as his eyebrows. "is it really that bunbearable?"

You try not to laugh, half-snorting and half-choking. So much for not choking! Coughing and laughing at the same time as your eyes start to water, you hit your chest a few times. Then, as the coughing starts to ease a bit, you take a long gulp of your drink. You clear your throat and start to feel better.

Sans waits for you to catch your breath, putting his burger down and reaching across the table to pat your hand. "i know i leave you breathless, babe, but there's no need to get so choked up."

You kick him in the shin under the table. "'Babe?'"

He winks at you and nudges your foot with his slipper. "careful or you'll bruise my funny bone. and is there a problem with me calling you babe? you like something else better? i can always call you honey, since you're so sweet."

Your face feels warm, and you know you're blushing. Covering your cheeks, you glance over at the rest of the restaurant. "No, it's fine. I just wasn't expecting it. And are you doing corny pick-up lines now?"

"i've got a few. like, i might have to throw you a bone, because you're looking quite fetching." Sans winks at you again as you look at him before covering your entire face.

"Oh my god."

"if i had a heart, you would have stolen it by now."

"Sans."

He nudges you again with his slipper, tapping your foot. "yeah?"

Embarrassed and emboldened at the same time, you uncover your face and fold your arms on top of the table. You lean forwards over your nearly-empty plate. "Kiss me if I'm wrong, but, monsters don't exist, right?" As you deliver your own cheesy line, you tease your foot up the side of his leg before pulling away and sitting back.

Sans blinks, slowly and deliberately before he blushes just the tiniest bit and gives a nervous chuckle. Drawing up his shoulders, he ducks the lower half of his face into the fluff of his hood. Then, he slides out from the booth, holding out his hand to you. "c'mon, let's get outta here so i can answer your question."

Oh. "Ah, but, w-what about the check?" you say, stumbling over the words as you take his hand and let him draw you to your feet.

"he knows i'm good for it, i'll take care of it next time. now c'mon." The lights in his eye sockets are wider as he looks up at you, and his voice is canted low. Warmth gathers low in your stomach at his wanting tone, and the hint of urgency in the way he pulls you towards the door.

The chill outside feels good against your flushed face. Sans leads you around the side of the restaurant, and once you're away from Snowdin's main road he stops. "now, about that question."

He turns, and as he reaches up a hand to cup your cheek you lean forward to press a kiss to, well, his teeth. You stay like that for a moment as you slide a hand across the side of his skull, thumb brushing his cheekbone. The hinge of his jaw shifts under your palm, and something warm and soft brushes your lips.

Startled, you pull back and open your eyes, greeted by the blue glow of Sans's left eye. Coming from between his teeth is a tongue of the same shade, glowing faintly. Oh. Monster magic keeps surprising you.

"sorry, didn't mean to scare you. i, uh, hope this is okay," he says, glancing away.

You can't help but think of other uses for that tongue, and a few of your concerns about how certain things with Sans might work are gone. There's also the question of what else, exactly, his magic is capable of. You'll have to leave that unanswered for now, because there's no way in hell you're just going to ask him.

"It's... no, Sans, it's good," you say, letting your hand drift down to the base of his skull, skimming over his cervical vertebrae. The way he shudders sends a thrill down your spine.

Encouraged by his reaction, you lean forward to press another kiss to his mouth, this time expecting the warmth of his tongue on your lips. It isn't really wet, like it should be. You brush your own tongue against his, and he lets out a pleased hum. His hand that's on your cheek is now sliding into the loose waves of your hair, pulling you closer as he begins exploring your mouth.

You groan and his other hand curls around your hip, tips of his phalanges slipping under the waist of your jacket. He finds skin and drags his fingers slowly across, savoring the feel of you. Moving higher, your jacket shifts up just enough to let cold air hit your side and you shiver, pulling away by instinct.

Sans is looking up at you as you open your eyes, shoving your clothes back down. There's a question in the still-surprisingly expressive lines of his face.

"Sorry," you mumble, breathing a little heavy and tangling your fingers in the furred trim of his hoodie. "It's just, cold out here."

"oh, yeah, geez this really isn't..." The ring of blue fades and he blinks, the white lights reappearing. He's blushing a little bit, pulling his hand out of your hair. "shit, i wasn't exactly planning on jumping your bones right next to grillby's."

You can't help but let out a low chuckle. "I'd hope not. There's no way I'd let you undress me out here."

Sans raises a brow, tugging your hand away from his hood and tangling his fingers with yours. "what about somewhere warmer?"

Raising a brow in return, you press a kiss between his eyes. "Hmm... maybe."

"aren't you just full of surprises? but, as tempting as that sounds... i'm pretty sure papyrus and frisk are still awake. we haven't been gone that long." Sans winks at you. "so how about we continue this date i have planned, and we'll see what happens?"

Chapter Text

The forest outside of Snowdin is beautiful in the dark. You hesitate to call it 'night', even though according to your phone night and day are at the same times as the surface. There aren't any sunrises or sunsets, just a gradual brightness and darkness. You wonder, briefly, if you'll ever see the sun again.

Whenever you hear monsters speak in wistful tones about the surface, they seem to dwell on the sun. As well they should, there isn't really anything quite like it. But, you think you miss the moon the most. The stars. The chill, wet feeling of the night air; the kind that leaves dew on everything by morning. Fogbanks that hover like lost clouds over fields on the side of the road until the sun burns them away.

Here in the Underground, even the temperature isn't any different at night. The air feels the same against your face. It reminds you that you really are deep within the earth, and despite the snow-covered trees, you begin to feel the press of tons of rock high above you. You take in a deep, pine-scented breath and force the sensation away.

Sans brings you to a clearing near the edge of one of the forest's cliffs. From here, you can see out over the dark expanse of trees, flecked with snow. In the dark, everything is painted in black and white until it's all swallowed in black at the furthest part of your vision.

You stand close to Sans's side, your hand once again in his jacket pocket. He squeezes your fingers. "what do you think of the view?"

Glancing at him, your lips curl into a mischievous smile. "Very handsome. The forest is nice too."

Somehow he seems pleased and frustrated at the same time. "hey, i was trying to set that one up for myself."

"You left it wiiiiide open for me to take, Sans," you tease, grinning. "You're gonna have to try harder."

"well, normally i hate working hard at anything," he says, the lights of his eyes fixed on you, "but for you i'll make an exception."

"I feel so special," you say, rolling your eyes.

"you should. you are."

("You think you're special? You're just another teenage slut. Now no one is going to want you.") You look away, back out over the forest below. "I'm not. Not really."

"hey, yes you are. you've got people who care about you. do i need to get papyrus out here to change your mind?"Sans squeezes your hand, and you can feel him still watching you.

You can't help but smile at the mental image of Papyrus stomping through the snow, outraged at the very idea of you feeling down on yourself. It helps. Turning back to Sans, he looks a little relieved. "Sorry," you say. "Old habits. It's going to take a while to break."

Twenty years of being told you're worthless tends to make you believe it's true.

"so," he says, drawing out the single syllable as a sign of changing the subject. You're grateful for that. "i brought you out here to admire the view. i like to come out here sometimes to clear my head."

"Do you need to clear your head when your skull is empty?"

"ouch. brutal," he says, chuckling. "do you always tease your dates or am i just lucky?"

"Ah, well..." You reach up with your free hand and drag your fingers through your hair, feeling awkward. "I don't know. I've never actually been on a real date before."

"really? you're not still joking around?" he asks, surprised. You wonder if you should be flattered.

"Really. I never had much of a chance." You shrug and kick at the snow under your feet, looking down.

"i just thought, with frisk..." Sans trails off, but his implications are clear enough.

"I was fourteen, you think Frisk's father took me out on a hot date?" You can't help but laugh a little. "It was a lot less romance, and a lot more rushed, awkward fumbling whenever we could get away from our parents..."

"well, i guess i'll have to make sure to take you on that hot date then. how am i doing on the whole 'romance' side of things so far?"

You look at Sans again and there's something tender in his expression. Smiling, you lean over to rest your head against his shoulder. "No complaints. Though I'd say this is more of a 'cold date' if you ask me."

He laughs, his shoulder jerking under you. Still holding your hand, he reaches out and pulls you against his chest, hugging you with his free arm. He's smiling up at you, and you feel a fluttering below your heart. "i feel like this is payback for you nearly choking back at grillby's."

"I like joking with you, Sans. I like making you laugh. I didn't really have a lot of people to laugh with, before," you say, holding on to the back of his jacket and burying your face in the fluffy part of his hood. His jaw is smooth and warm against your exposed cheek, and his jacket has a faint musty smell of bones and ketchup. It's a little strange, but familiar and comforting.

"you can always joke with me, babe. and i'll always try to make you laugh. maybe it's a matter of pride but i assure you i ain't lion."

You groan at the joke, leaning bodily against him as you let the air out of your lungs. Sans laughs and holds you upright, brushing a toothy kiss against your jaw and down your neck. You shudder. His chuckles fade and he hums next to your ear as you hold onto his jacket a little tighter.

"hmm, what was that?" he asks, voice dropping noticeably lower. He grazes the curve of your neck with his teeth again, forcing you to gasp and press closer against him.

"Sans," you say, and your voice comes out as a whine. "If you keep doing that, I really will try to jump your bones, cold be damned."

"as great as that sounds, i think i'd rather wait to have my bones rattled somewhere you'll be more comfortable." Sans loosens his grip on you with some reluctance, resting his hand on your hip as you pull away enough to look at him.

"Such a gentleman," you tease, pressing a kiss to his cheekbone.

He brushes his mouth against your cheek in return before you're out of reach. "that's me, a skeleton of class."

You pull away completely, feeling the need for some space to clear your head. Sans lets you go without any complaint, watching you as you turn your back to him to look out over the forest again. Despite your moments of boldness, you feel nervous. It's been a long time since anyone showed any kind of interest in you (aside from strange men hitting on you at work). To complicate matters further, you aren't even sure how to go about being intimate with a skeleton. Oh, the revelation about his tongue will certainly help with you, but what are you supposed to do to reciprocate? He seemed to enjoy you touching the vertebrae in his neck, so maybe it isn't too different for some things.

 Forgetting for a moment where you are, you look up and expect to see the sky. Instead there's just darkness, which elicits a sigh of disappointment. You hear Sans take a few crunching steps through the snow to stand at your side, following your line of sight.

"I guess I could pretend it's cloudy, and that the stars are just hidden," you say, mostly to yourself.

"there's this place in waterfall called the wishing room, and the ceiling is covered in crystals. we pretend that they're stars, and well, make wishes on them," Sans says. "it's not the real thing, but it's something, i guess."

You think that maybe he's trying to comfort you, but it just makes you sadder. There's so many things on the surface you took for granted, and now that they're gone you can't help but miss them. "I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's just different, that's all."

Sans shifts on his feet. "are you sure you want to stay down here?" He sounds casual, but when you look over at him the lights in his eyes are so small you can barely make them out. He's looking up at the ceiling, and he seems worried.

"Sans, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that falling down that hole is probably one of the best things that's ever happened to me. This has been... this past week has been one of the happiest I've ever had," you say, reaching out to touch his arm.

Sans looks down at your hand, then takes it in his own as he turns to face you. "i have to admit you saying that makes me happy, but i can't help but feel like it says more about your time on the surface than your time down here."

"Maybe, but I already told you; I'm happy here. And if that means staying in the Underground, then so be it." You squeeze his fingers, giving him a reassuring smile.

Sans sighs, raising a brow as his grin turns wry. "well, i'm not gonna be the one to convince you otherwise."

"Good. Because I like being here with you," you murmur, cheeks warming at the admission.

Expression softening, he tugs on your hand to pull you close. He reaches up to cup your face and draws you gently down to him for a kiss. "i want you to stay. i want you both to stay. maybe that's selfish, but things have been so good, and i just want it to stay like this, for once." Something in the desperation in his voice at the end makes your heart ache. You wonder what he means, and think that you're missing something important.

Your lips brush against his mouth and he makes a pleased hum, smooth fingers pressing encouragingly against the side of your neck. Pushing past his open jacket, you run your hand along the side of his ribs. Through his shirt you can feel the bone underneath, and even though you're expecting it it's still a little startling. In his jacket he seems to have so much more substance, but under your touch he seems almost fragile as he shivers. You can't help but smile at his reaction, glad that he's enjoying your touch as much as you enjoy his.

You expect the warm touch of his tongue but it doesn't come, instead Sans pulls away, looking up at you with something akin to hunger that makes a thrill run through you. "come home with me," he says, voice low.

Swallowing, you draw in a shaky breath and do your best to smirk. "I have to, that's where I've been sleeping. And your brother has my child," you say, but the way your voice sounds strained to your ears betrays any playful tone you were trying to use.

"you know what i mean." The roughness to the words stokes the heat that's been building low in your belly.

"Yes. Okay, yes," you say, words spilling out of you in a rush. You're still unsure how exactly this is going to work, but you just know you want it to happen. You need this. "Take me home."


You're back at the house faster than you realize is possible. Along the way you seem to somehow skip part of the town, but at the moment you just can't bring yourself to care. Sans opens the door as quietly as he can, and both of you share a look when you see that Frisk and Papyrus are once again asleep on the couch, lit only by the light of the television. Good.

Sans has a tight grip on your hand as he leads you up the stairs, back towards the only room you have yet to see. You can't help but feel a little curious, despite yourself. What is his room like? You don't even see the key as he unlocks the door, and it's pitch black when you enter. Closing the door, he tells you to wait there as you hear him maneuver through the room and then flick on a dim light.

His room is fairly plain, but messy. There's a bit of trash in one corner and a pile of socks in the other, with an old treadmill in the center. The light that Sans just turned on is actually a flashlight stuck into a lamp. His bed has been made with wrinkly sheets. The skeleton gives you a little shrug after you survey the room and look at him.

"sorry, wasn't really expecting much company," he says.

"It's fine, right now I really don't care." You unzip your jacket as you cross the room, draping it over the treadmill.

Sans watches you as you hesitate and then decide to sit on the side of his bed. You fidget, thumbing the edge of the mattress and looking down at your knees. "Are you just going to admire the view, or are you gonna come over here before I start to lose my nerve," you mumble, a nervous laugh escaping you.

You don't even hear him move and suddenly he's standing in front of you, hands stuffed in his jacket pockets and looking a little unsure of himself. "i wouldn't know what that's like, since i don't have any nerves," he says, but the joke sounds a little forced.

You make a small huff of laughter, smiling at the attempt anyway. "Getting cold feet? Do I need to warm you up?" You hope you sound more confident than you feel.

He chuckles a little and seems to relax, easing his hands out of his pockets. "have i told you that i love that little glint in your eyes when you make a joke and wait to see if i'm going to laugh?"

There's that familiar flutter in your chest again, easing away the uncertainty as you smile up at him. "No, but I'm glad to hear it," you say softly, reaching out a tentative hand to rest against his sternum.

Sans shrugs out of his jacket then covers your hand with his own, squeezing your fingers. "and the way you blush, and how your eyes crinkle when you smile."

You reach up and tug him downwards, kissing his jaw. You feel it move as he opens his mouth to speak again, but the words never make it to the air as you run the tip of your tongue along the smooth surface of the bone. He groans softly, leaning towards you. When you pull away, the lights in his eyes are bright and his cheekbones are stained blue. He reaches out towards you but you pull away, tucking your knees up under you as you scoot back on his bed. You sit back on your heels, waiting for him to follow.

Sans doesn't hesitate. You've barely settled into position when he's on his knees on the mattress, one hand burying itself in your hair to pull you back to him as the other plunges under the hem of your shirt. He runs his fingers up your side until he reaches the band of your bra, follows it around to your back and then drags his hand down the curve of your spine. Your shiver has nothing to do with the cold as he tugs your head gently to the side and runs his teeth against your neck. Pausing for a moment, he seems to consider before you feel the warmth of his tongue against your pulse.

Biting back a moan, you grip the back of his shirt with both hands as he slowly pushes up your top, tips of his phalanges trailing over the soft flesh of your stomach. He shies away from your bra again, instead gripping the swell of your hip and stroking your skin with his thumb.

"you're so soft," he murmurs against your throat. "i love touching you."

"Then touch me," you say, arching under his hand, willing it higher.

"where? show me."

Covering his hand with your own, you guide it up over the curve one one breast, breath hitching as his fingers tease you through the fabric of your bra. You whine as he pulls away from your neck, but as you open your eyes to look at him you can't help but feel a pleasant ache in your chest. He's looking at you like something precious, fascinated by the bare expanse of your stomach. You can't even bring yourself to feel self-conscious about your stretch marks, not with the way he's looking at you. His hand shifts over your breast and you bite your lip, arching again into his touch.

Slowly untangling his other hand from your hair, he reaches down to push your shirt higher. You're about to suggest just taking the damn thing off when—

"SANS?"

You both freeze, and your stomach gives a lurch. The blue in Sans's left eye flickers when your eyes meet.

"maybe if we ignore him, he'll just go away," Sans mutters.

You heave a sigh, gritting your teeth. "But if Papyrus is awake, then—"

"Sissa?!"

The fear in Frisk's voice makes your blood run cold, any remaining desire vanishing in an instant. Sans's hands are off of you and you're tugging down your shirt, hurrying to the door with the skeleton at your heels.

"Frisk, sweetie what's wrong?" you call out the second you reach the second-story railing, following it to the stairs.

"bro, is everything okay?" Sans asks, and you feel a surge of affection at the concern in his voice.

Papyrus is standing at the foot of the stairs, glancing between the two of you and where Frisk is sitting on the couch, tears shining in their eyes. He looks confused and uncertain, wringing his hands and failing to find his voice. The tall skeleton moves aside as you brush past him.

Frisk makes a choked sound as you climb onto the couch next to them, pulling them into your arms and stroking their hair. "Shh, baby I'm here, what's wrong?" you murmur, rocking the two of you back and forth.

"what happened?" Sans asks, and it sounds like he's talking to Papyrus.

"I— I'm not sure," Papyrus says, his voice quiet. "They woke up and seemed confused, then started asking for her."

Frisk is trembling in your arms.

"Baby, talk to me. Are you okay?" you ask, fighting to keep fear out of your own voice.

"Nightmare," they mumble into your chest. "I thought... I couldn't find you, you weren't here. And then I woke up and you still weren't here. I thought I was alone."

"You're not alone. I'm here."

"Where were you?"

A surge of guilt rises in your chest, even though you know you didn't do anything wrong. "Sans and I didn't want to wake you. We were in his room."

"Stay with me?" Frisk begs, fingers digging into your clothes.

You rub soothing circles into their back, nodding against their cheek. "Of course, Frisk. Of course I'll stay with you."

As you speak you look up and meet Sans's gaze. You think he'll be upset, but he just looks concerned. He comes up next to you and pats the top of Frisk's head, placing his other hand on your back. It's a small gesture, but you can feel him supporting you. It's a new feeling, one that fills you with warmth.

"sorry we scared you, kiddo. i know what it's like to wake up and feel confused like that."

Frisk eases away from your chest, tilting their head to look up at Sans. They sniffle loudly and rub their nose. "That happens to you? You wake up and feel like you're in the wrong place?"

"sure it does," he says, and you think you hear a little bit of something sad in his voice. His smile seems forced and stiff. "but you'll be okay, kiddo. you're in a good place this time."

Chapter Text

"SANS, GET UP YOU LAZYBONES!"

Sans jerks awake, Papyrus's shrill voice and the pounding on his door jolting him out of sleep. An overwhelming sense of deja vu fills him with dread. How many times has he heard Papyrus say those words? A new recurring nightmare haunts the fringes of his consciousness, the feeling of losing you a sharp ache in his chest.

He knew this would happen! He'd let his guard down, he let himself get attached, and now it's all being torn away from him. But why? Why now? Sans drags his hands down his face, biting back a growl of anger.

Damn it, damn it, damn it... No!

Shaking and disoriented, he stumbles out of bed towards his makeshift light, bumping against his treadmill in the dark. His hand fumbles with the lamp, and the familiar sight of his messy room does little to ease his fears.

It must have reset. He's certain of it. Papyrus always wakes him up in the exact same way, the day before Frisk emerges from the Ruins. He has to wait a day to see if you'll be there again, and all at once he's not sure he can bear it.

Feeling the surge of magic welling throughout his body, throughout his Soul, the lamp begins to glow with a blue haze. With a gesture it lifts into the air, and as he turns, snarling, to fling it across the room, he sees something that makes him freeze in place.

Your jacket is still draped across the treadmill.

The light drops back onto the top of his dresser with a clatter, relief surging through him as the magic drains away. For a moment he almost collapses. His knees feel so weak. He picks up your jacket and sits on the edge of his bed, hands trembling as he stares down at it. A short, manic laugh escapes him and then he curls in on himself, burying his face in the fabric clutched tight in his fingers.

Everything is fine. Everything is fine.

You are his touchstone to this reality, and for the moment he feels grounded again.


You're in the kitchen, sitting and eating breakfast with Frisk when you feel Sans wrap his arms around you from behind and hug you. He presses his forehead into the crook of your neck, and you think you hear him let out a sigh. Frisk rolls their eyes from across the table and keeps eating.

You clear your throat, feeling your cheeks warm at the undisguised show of affection. "Um, good morning," you say, reaching up to touch his arms.

"morning," Sans answers, tone casual. He relaxes his hold on you a little bit, lifting his head and resting his chin on your shoulder. You can feel his voice vibrating through his bones. "pap and i have sentry work today. did you two want to come?"

"I promised Frisk I'd spend the day with them today," you tell him, an apology in your voice. "We're going shopping before lunch, is there anything you want me to pick up?"

"nah, babe, i'm good." Sans unwinds his arms from around you, giving your shoulders an affectionate squeeze.

Frisk looks over at the two of you, eyes narrowing. "Sissa," they say, accusingly. "Is Sans your boyfriend now?"

Nearly choking on your oatmeal, you let your spoon drop into your bowl as you swallow and pat your chest. Sans is standing beside you now, and the two of you share a look. Is he? If it hadn't been for the interruption, you're confident the two of you would have slept together last night...

You're sure you're beet red at this point, unsure of what to say. Sans gives you a little smirk, then turns to Frisk. Your child is fidgeting with their breakfast as they watch you, scooping and dumping their oatmeal back into the bowl with a plop.

"hey kiddo, what's this feel like to you?" Sans asks, holding out the sleeve of his jacket.

Frisk looks at him like he's grown a second head. You admit that you have no idea what he's getting at, either.

Sans nudges his sleeve closer. Frisk looks over at you, and finding no answer in your own confused expression, looks back at the skeleton again. They reach out and rub his jacket between their fingers.

"Feels like your jacket," they say, shrugging as they stare up at him from under thick bangs.

"you sure it doesn't feel like boyfriend material?" Sans winks at you.

You hide your face behind a hand, shoulders shaking as a snort escapes you, followed by a stream of laughter. How did you not realize that was coming?

"I don't know what boyfriend material feels like," Frisk says, giggling.

"Good, you've got another ten years until you need to know," you say, any force in your tone weakened as you try to catch your breath.

"well, then we should ask your sissa," Sans says, holding out his arm to you. He waggles his brows. "what do you think?"

You reach out and take his arm, rubbing slowly with the pad of your thumb. Pursing your lips, you pretend to think. "Hmm..." Beneath the teasing, you can see affection in Sans's face. You can't help but smile. "I think so..."

Frisk makes a loud gagging noise as Sans leans over to kiss your cheek. "Kissing is gross."

You turn your head and give the skeleton a quick peck on the mouth. "Definitely gross. Are you disgusted? I'm disgusted."

"awful."

"Stoooooop," Frisk whines. "Or I'm not going to be okay with this anymore!"

You nudge Sans away with a laugh, his fingers trailing across your shoulder before he leans away. You can't help but notice that he keeps touching you, and he seems hesitant to leave the kitchen. But right now your focus is on Frisk, who is hanging their head dramatically over the back of the chair, making choking noises.

"So you are okay with it, sweetie?" you ask. Maybe you should have talked to Frisk about this earlier... but everything had moved so quickly.

Frisk rights themselves, glancing at Sans. He's looking a little awkward, waiting for the verdict with his hands shoved in his pockets. They look back down at their breakfast, picking their spoon back up to push their oatmeal around the bowl. "Yeah," they say in a quiet voice, looking a little embarrassed. "I like Sans."

You and Sans share a look, and he seems about to say something when Papyrus's loud voice echoes through the house.

"SANS! WE NEED TO GO OR WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE!"

Sans sighs and gives you another quick kiss on the cheek. You start laughing as he leans in to do the same to Frisk. "c'mon, one for you too, kiddo."

Frisk protests and tries to duck away, but as Sans ruffles their hair on the way out the door you see the pleased look on Frisk's face. They look up, see you smiling, then try to frown and go back to eating their breakfast.

Warmth spreads throughout your chest, and you wonder when this all started feeling so normal. Everything feels perfect.


Sans has his head pillowed on his arms at his sentry station, watching the few snowflakes twirl through the air on their way to the ground. He just woke from a pleasant nap, sometime around midday according to his phone. He thinks about texting you, but decides not to. Frisk tends to hang onto your phone most of the time, and he can't really think of anything to say.

Leaving the house that morning was difficult, but he didn't want to worry you or Papyrus. He must have put on a convincing act, because neither of you noticed anything was wrong. Though, after his conversation with you and Frisk, it wasn't much of an act anymore. Seeing you, reassuring himself that nothing had been reset... it all helped.

He's still worried that he's making a huge mistake, but he can't help but let himself get wrapped up in you. Everything with you is new, and as scared as he is, he feels rejuvenated. Even Frisk is different. They're happier, more content.

Maybe things really can be good this time. Part of him —most of him— doesn't believe it, but it's nice to think about.

The crunch of familiar footsteps through the snow snaps Sans out of his thoughts. Looking up, he sees Papyrus coming his way. So much for his hope for another nap. Sans sits up a little as his brother approaches, cradling his chin in one hand.

"'sup bro?"

Papyrus huffs out a long-suffering sigh, shaking his head. "I SEE YOU ARE SITTING HERE DOING NOTHING, AS USUAL, BROTHER. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOWER OUR DEFENSES, THERE IS STILL THE CHANCE THAT ANOTHER, NOT-SO-NICE HUMAN MAY REACH THE UNDERGROUND! IF THAT HAPPENS, WE MUST BE READY!"

"yeah, you're right."

"OF COURSE I'M RIGHT! IF I CAPTURE A DIFFERENT HUMAN, THEN MAYBE UNDYNE CAN OVERLOOK THE FACT THAT I'VE BEEN LYING TO HER..." Papyrus grimaces as nervous sweat dots the side of his skull. "I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS FOREVER, SANS, I CAN'T STAND LYING TO ONE FRIEND TO KEEP MY OTHER FRIENDS SAFE."

If only it could be that simple. Though, Sans suspected that if Papyrus knew the truth about why Undyne and Asgore wanted humans, his brother wouldn't be so keen on catching them. He'd never knowingly usher anyone to their death, no matter how noble-sounding the cause. Sans just doesn't have it in him to tell him the truth.

"we're gonna have to tell her something sooner or later. i don't think the humans are going to be leaving any time soon."

Papyrus lets out another sigh, looking discouraged. After a moment he leans forward, resting his elbows on the counter of the sentry station as he gives Sans a scrutinizing look. Suddenly, Sans feels a little nervous. "SPEAKING OF THE HUMANS... WHAT WERE YOU TWO DOING IN YOUR ROOM LAST NIGHT?"

Sans gives a weak laugh, looking away. "i dunno what you're talking about bro."

"OH, YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT, SANS." Papyrus has a twinkle in his eye as he starts poking his brother in the shoulder over and over. "FIRST YOU GO ON A DATE, THEN YOU'RE BACK IN YOUR ROOM, CANOODLING."

Sans's eyes widen, and he knows that the look on his face is definitely giving him away. "h-how did you know we went on a date?"

Papyrus's expression is positively triumphant. "NYEH HEH HEH! I KNOW YOU, BROTHER, AND I CAN SEE THE WAY YOU KEEP LOOKING AT HER. YOU LIIIIIIKE HER!"

Sans buries his face in his arms as Papyrus cackles, trying his best to ignore the incessant prodding of his brother's gloved hand. "AND HERE I THOUGHT YOU'D BE TOO LAZY TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!"

"bro."

"NO WONDER YOU'VE BEEN SEEMING SO CHEERFUL."

"papyrus."

"I'M EVEN HAPPIER THAT I FAILED TO CAPTURE THE HUMANS."

"bro."

"WHAT, SANS?"

"now that you know, you gotta help me get the kid outta the house so we can have some time alone."

"HMM, THAT SOUNDS MORE LIKE AN EXCUSE FOR YOU TO BE LAZY. BUT! I WILL DO WHAT I CAN TO HELP. BECAUSE I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, CARE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR HAPPINESS!"

Sans can't help but smile up at his brother, chuckling. "you're the best, bro."

"I KNOW."

"you're making my wishbone come true."

"SANS."

"hey, don't sound so sternum."

"SANS!"

Before Sans can work his way into his next joke, Papyrus's phone starts to ring. The taller skeleton fishes his hand into a concealed pocket in his clothes and retrieves it. Sans raises an eyebrow as Papyrus's face lights up.

"OH, IT'S THE HUMANS!" He pushes a button, holding the phone up to his skull. "HELLO HUMAN!"

Sans can hear the other end of the conversation clearly, because Frisk is shouting. Papyrus's jaw goes slack and if he had flesh and blood his face would have drained of color. "Papyrus you have to help—!"

Papyrus nearly drops the phone as he pulls it away from his head, panicked as he stares at the screen. The call disconnected.

"papyrus—"

Sans is pushing himself over the counter, reaching for his brother's arm. Nervous energy buzzes through his bones, fear needling his spine. Papyrus tries to call the humans back, but it just rings until it goes to voicemail.

Clenching his jaw, Papyrus looks down at his brother and pulls him out of the sentry station, setting him on his feet. "I THINK NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR ONE OF YOUR SHORTCUTS, SANS."


You and Frisk are returning home from getting groceries for the next few days. Your hands are full and even Frisk is carrying a few bags. With no foreseeable end to your stay with the skeleton brothers in sight, you're feeling encouraged to make good on your promise to cook for everyone. Aside from dried pasta and ingredients for tomato sauce, the kitchen is lacking in essentials. You've made it a point to remedy that.

A pair of young monsters darts past you, shouting to each other and laughing. As you start to wonder what's going on, you see most of Frisk's new friends gathered around the house. At their center is a tall woman —taller than you but shorter than Papyrus— with a shockingly-red ponytail and blue-green scales. A pair of kids are holding on to her biceps as she lifts them, a toothy grin taking up most of her face.

"C'mon you little punks, I can lift ALL of you at once!" she shouts, laughing.

Two more kids seize hold of her leather jacket and she flexes her arms, lifting them into the air. Who could this be, and why is she in front of the house? Sans and Papyrus never mentioned any other friends, except... Oh no...

You halt in your tracks, but it's too late. The woman and the children have caught sight of you and Frisk. The kids call out for Frisk to come play, and in stark contrast the woman's face begins to twist into a grimace. You drop your bags and snatch Frisk's arm, pulling them to a halt.

"Sissa—?"

"What the hell is this?" the woman snaps, and all at once the children fall silent. She shakes off the ones clinging to her arms, pushing her way past them and towards the two of you. You pull Frisk to your side, putting yourself in front of them. "Humans, in Snowdin?!"

The kids scatter at the pure fury in her voice, and a few of them cast worried glances your way. You don't expect any of their families to be much help. Of course this would happen when Sans and Papyrus are away!

"ARGH! I should have known Papyrus was hiding something from me, but I never expected THIS." She holds out her hand and a glowing, pale blue spear appears against her palm.

"We're Papyrus's friends!" Frisk tries to circle around you, and a shiver of fear trails up your spine as you see the telltale red glow of their Soul in front of their chest.

"No!" you shout, pulling Frisk back behind you. This isn't like 'fighting' Papyrus. This woman —Undyne, it has to be— is glaring at you with the intent to kill. 

"We don't have to fight!" Frisk insists, yanking on the back of your jacket.

Undyne sneers, her one yellow eye narrowing. "Oh I'm sure it won't be much of a fight. We only need one more Soul, but I'm sure King Asgore won't mind a spare." She points the tip of her spear at you. "Humans, with your Souls our King will finally free us from this prison! Your lives are all that stand between us and our freedom! Everyone's been waiting our whole lives for this moment!"

She really does intend to kill you. This is the woman Papyrus is so eager to impress? Killing humans is the true purpose of the Royal Guard? Papyrus had just wanted to capture you for her... there's no way he could possibly know this. You take a step backward, one hand still gripped like a vice around Frisk's wrist.

"Now, human! Let's end this, right here, right now!" Undyne steps forward into a fighting stance, and you feel something stir in your chest.

Ever since seeing Frisk's Soul, you wondered if yours would look the same. Now you know the answer. It doesn't. It's red, but darker and dimmer, the color of wine (part of you recoils at the comparison, even in the middle of this situation your mother's face springs to mind). Your Soul is... cracked down the center. Not completely, but the fracture runs nearly to the middle. You recoil, but it follows you, leashed intangibly to your chest.

Undyne seems to hesitate at the sight of it, just for a moment. Then, with a snarl, she makes a slashing motion with her spear. "Your Soul doesn't matter! The other one looks perfectly fine to me."

"I won't let you touch them!" Releasing your hold on Frisk, you throw your arms out wide, glaring as anger pounds in your chest. Maybe it's just the blood rushing in your ears, but it seems like the wind is howling. The idea, the mere thought of Undyne hurting your child...

It fills you with determination.

"Fine, then FACE ME!" Undyne roars, leaping forward.

There's a flash of green light and as you bring your hands in front of you in a futile attempt to protect yourself, a transparent shield springs to life. Your cracked Soul has turned green, and your feet feel rooted to the ground. Undyne's spear glances off the surface, and you hear her laughing.

"Good, good! Let's see what else you're capable of!"

Chapter Text

You're not sure which is scarier: when you can move but have no way of defending yourself, or when all you can do is turn in place but have the magical shield. Honestly, no matter what, all you can feel is the thrill of adrenaline and terror thrumming through your veins.

You have no idea why Undyne's magic also allows you to defend yourself from her, but you aren't in a position to question it. All you can do is hold your ground in the face of her onslaught. Frisk stays behind you without question, one hand tangled up in the back of your jacket.

"Papyrus you have to help—! Ah, no, the phone!"

At that moment your Soul reverts to it's normal wine color and you twist to seize hold of Frisk's arm, pulling them out of the way of a flying spear. Your phone tumbles from their hands into the snow, and you almost slip on it. Undyne has you turned around now, with her standing between you and the rest of Snowdin. Even if you wanted to try making a break for the forest where you know Sans and Papyrus are, there's no way you can make it past her now.

Undyne just sneers as she flips a spear in her hand, and you get the feeling that she's toying with you. "Do you really think your lives are worth more than the freedom of every monster? Are you that selfish?!"

You don't answer. Shoving Frisk in front of you, you glance over your shoulder and start running the only direction you can —towards Waterfall.

Undyne lets out a growl of frustration and a magical spear plunges into the ground a few feet away from you, humming with magic for a moment before disappearing. You keep running, trying your best to drag Frisk into a zig-zagging pattern to try and dodge spears you can't even see.

"STOP RUNNING!" Undyne roars, and you can feel a familiar buzz of magic in the air.

The tip of a glowing, translucent spear plunges through your chest and through your Soul. Pain sears through your body as you let out a choked cry, your entire body jerking to a halt. Green washes over your Soul again and the spear vanishes, the shield flickering to life before your hands.

Frisk turns at your cry of pain, skidding to a stop and running back to you as you pivot to face Undyne again. You want to tell Frisk to keep running, to leave you behind and try to get somewhere safe, but deep down you know that it would only delay the inevitable. A selfish part of you doesn't want to be alone when (if, you try to tell yourself) Undyne finally kills you.

"Undyne, please! We're not here to fight!" you plead, flinching as you duck behind your hands, flung spears glancing off the shield before they vanish.

"I don't care what YOU'RE here for! I'M here for your Souls!" she snarls, pointed teeth flashing. "Then all of this can finally be over! You should be happy, humans. With your lives, you can right the wrongs your people have done to us!"

"And that's worth the life of a child?!" you scream at her, hands balling into fists. You're trembling with anger and fear, the feel of Frisk holding onto your clothes a tangible reminder of what's at stake.

Undyne uses your moment of distraction and a spear flies at you from the side. You aren't fast enough to catch it with the shield. Frisk screams as you feel it cut deep into your soul, pain wracking your body as your legs tremble from the force of it. The attacks don't leave any physical trace on your body, something to do with the magic, but the pain is real enough.

You're starting to feel weaker.

Panting, you glare at Undyne through the distorting surface of the shield. She takes a few steps closer and scoffs at you. If she had a nose she'd be staring down it, as if you're beneath her. "We already have six souls. With one more we can break through the barrier. Would you have those six other deaths mean nothing? I'm here to finish what my predecessors started."

You brace yourself as she rears back and throws another spear at you as if to punctuate her words. You're shaking more violently now, from pain and fear and anger. Frisk's hands curl tighter in your clothes. The small whimper they make, it fills you with determination.

Your Soul gives off a red pulse of light, even though it's still washed with green magic. The shade is brighter than the wine color of your Soul, and for a moment you feel a swell of love rise up inside of you. "I won't let you hurt my child!" you scream.

Frisk's sharp intake of breath makes you realize what you just said, but you don't have the time to worry about it. If you can make it out of this alive, you'll be more than happy to explain everything...

Undyne falters for a second, looking down at the only part of Frisk that's visible: a pair of ratty sneakers and scrawny legs. Tossing back her hair, she clenches her hand tighter around the haft of a spear. "Right now, every monster in the Underground is counting on me!" she snaps.

With a slash at the air, the magic locking your body in place drains away, the shield vanishing and leaving you vulnerable. You take a step backwards, one hand reaching behind you to wrap around Frisk's wrist. Undyne raises her hands and two spears are hovering over each of her shoulders, points trained on you. Any sort of pleasure she's felt while fighting you has drained from her face. You can't even bring yourself to try and run.

"I'm ending this," she says.

"Ohmygosh, I can't believe it's Undyne!"

A familiar, high-pitched voice pierces through the air, and right as the spears begin their descent a short, yellow body darts out in front of you. You recognize the armless monster kid that is part of Frisk's group of friends. Before you have a chance to think about what you're doing, you leap forward and wrap yourself around them, protecting them with your body from Undyne's attack. If you're going to die anyway, you don't want this kid's ashes on your conscience.

You brace yourself for the inevitable pain that will slice right through your Soul. A strange feeling of clarity fills you for a moment, and you wonder if the cracks in your Soul will widen and finally split you in half when you die.

The hum of magic fills the air, and you can hear the shriek of Undyne's spears bouncing off something hard. What? The kid runs away when you release them, but you can't make out their words because you're too busy staring up at the wall of bones between you and Undyne. Papyrus? Sans? It has to be them!

Through the gaps between the bones you see Undyne whirl around, another spear appearing in her hand. Papyrus is standing behind her, a pair of femurs held like swords in his hands. Even from a distance, you can see the ring of orange burning in his right eye socket, magic licking the side of his skull like flames.

"fuck, are you okay?"

Relief floods through your body at the familiar, low voice at your side. Sans is there, thank God, and he's pulling you to him. You tuck yourself under one of his arms and then you're both reaching out for Frisk. He holds both of you close, and for a moment you think he might be shaking.

"shit," he murmurs, and with a sickening lurch in the pit of your stomach you realize that the three of you are now behind Papyrus.

"We both know that you can't defeat me, Papyrus!" Undyne yells, and you can hear the scrape of metal against bone.

"I,THE GREAT PAPYRUS, DON'T NEED TO DEFEAT YOU, UNDYNE! I JUST HAVE TO STOP YOU FROM HURTING MY FRIENDS!"

"Damn it, Papyrus! I KNEW you weren't cut out for this!"

Sans pulls away, enough to look at you, pulling you to your feet. He's looking over you, making sure you're okay. His eyes —still just the familiar white pinpricks— stop when they reach your Soul. His mouth opens and closes, and despite the pitched battle going on around you he's hesitating. With one hand, he reaches towards your Soul and then stops, looking you in the eye.

"did she do this to you?" A flicker of blue glows in his left socket, and his raised hand clenches into a fist. There's something menacing in his voice, and it sends a chill down your spine.

"No, it... it was already cracked when I first saw it," you say, and somehow it feels like you're trying to protect Undyne from him.

He glances down at your Soul again, a look of pain on his face. Then he turns his back to you, positioning himself between the two of you and Papyrus and Undyne. "stay behind me, we'll take care of this."

Frisk reaches out and takes your hand, and you pull them a few steps back. You're trembling, and weak, and your whole body aches, but you can't help but wonder why Sans looked at your Soul the way he did. Looking down, you raise your free hand to touch the wine-red heart hovering there, but it pulls back inside your chest before you have the chance.

"I can't believe the two of you. Protecting humans? Did you really fall for that goody-two-shoes shtick?" Undyne demands.

Papyrus jerks his hands into the air, bones appearing in front of him just in time to deflect a flurry of spears. Sans stands at his brother's side, hands shoved in his pockets. As far as you can tell, he's not actually doing anything. But you get the feeling that if things started to shift into Undyne's favor he'd intervene. You know he wouldn't let anything happen to any of you if he could help it.

You realize that, apart from him helping Frisk 'fight' Papyrus, and his apparent ability to teleport, you're really not sure what Sans is capable of. 

"Am I supposed to be scared of the two of you? Shouldn't you be napping, Sans?" Undyne snaps, glaring at the two skeletons.

"i might as well be. papyrus doesn't need my help."

"UNDYNE, PLEASE STOP! I THINK IF YOU GAVE THEM A CHANCE, YOU COULD ALL BE FRIENDS!" 

"You can't be friends with everyone! That's not how the world works!" Undyne's lip curls, and she slams the ground with the butt of her spear in emphasis.

Papyrus hasn't attacked Undyne at all. He's just holding her at bay, conjuring bones as barriers and knocking spears out of the air with the femurs in his hands. You wonder if she'll tire herself out eventually.

Frisk still hasn't spoken. Right now there's not much to say as you both serve as spectators to the confrontation between Papyrus and Undyne. Frisk squeezes your hand, and you squeeze back.

"Damn it, look at how strong you are!" Undyne yells, lunging forward and slashing at him with a spear in her hands. "Why couldn't you use this power to capture humans like I asked you to? I thought we were FRIENDS!"

Papyrus catches her attack with his crossed bones, shoving her backwards. "WE ARE FRIENDS! YOU TRAINED ME, AND YOU'RE TEACHING ME HOW TO COOK! BUT THE HUMANS ARE MY FRIENDS TOO. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WANTED ME TO CAPTURE HUMANS IN THE FIRST PLACE, BUT NOW I'M WORRIED. IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE GOING TO KILL THEM! AND YOU COULD HAVE HURT THAT CHILD IF IT WASN'T FOR THE HUMAN!"

That makes Undyne hesitate, drawing back a step and lowering her spear. Her chest is heaving as she pants, and she looks past Papyrus to glare at you. "FINE, forget it. You're too innocent for this shitty world, Papyrus, keep your stupid humans. But one of these days that attitude of yours is going to get you hurt." She jabs a finger at the group of you, eye narrowing. "Don't even bother getting to know the next human that makes the mistake of falling down here, they're MINE."

Undyne thrusts her spear into the ground and turns on her heel, storming off. After a moment, the spear flickers and disappears. 

Once Undyne is out of sight, Papyrus's bones fade and he lets out a loud, dramatic sigh. "WOWIE," he says, turning around to face you and Frisk. His skull is dotted with nervous sweat. "THAT SURE WAS SCARY. FOR A MINUTE THERE I WAS AFRAID SHE WOULDN'T LISTEN. BUT I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, DID NOT FAIL!"

"you did awesome, bro." Sans says, nudging his brother in the ribs with his elbow. "make no bones about it."

"UGH! SANS." Papyrus shakes his head. "HUMANS, ARE YOU BOTH ALL RIGHT?"

You let out a breath you don't realize you're holding, and as you go to take a step towards the brothers your legs buckle underneath you. Sans is at your side before you hit the ground, catching you with both arms as your vision swims.

"S-Sissa!" "HUMAN?!" "hey, are you okay?"

You rest your forehead against Sans's shoulder, squeezing your eyes shut to try and fight off the sudden dizziness. "Sorry. I'm just... I'm tired and everything hurts."

Sans stoops down to scoop you off your feet. A startled noise escapes you, but he just shifts you in his arms like you weigh next to nothing. "let's get you home."

Chapter Text

You wake up on the couch, wrapped up in a soft blanket and propped up a bit by a mound of pillows. Slowly, your eyes blink open and you're greeted by the familiar living room. Sans is sitting on the edge of the cushion, leaning back against the armrest and holding your hand in his lap. His head is facing the television, volume barely high enough to hear, and the smooth surface of his thumb strokes over the top of your hand. The motion is soothing, and almost distracts you from the bone-deep ache throughout your body, radiating from your chest.

Taking a moment to collect yourself, you let your eyes drift over Sans before he realizes you're awake. Even though he's distracted by the television, he doesn't seem to be paying attention to what's on the screen. He's lost in thought. Shoulders hunched, his thumb continues to run over the sensitive skin of your hand. He sighs and gives your hand a squeeze, and you can't help but squeeze back.

That makes Sans turn to look at you, and you can't help but smile at the way all the tension eases out of his grin. "hey, babe. how're you feeling?"

"Like someone ran me over with Papyrus's racecar bed," you say, the corner of your mouth twitching into a wry smile.

"so you're saying you feel a bit wrecked?" he says, but his grin seems as weak as his joke.

You let out a small huff of laughter, smiling at him anyway.

"yeah, i know. sorry. it's hard to come up with jokes when i'm busy worrying about you." He looks down at your joined hands, then back up to your face. He looks tired.

"You were worried about me?" you ask. You feel a warm flutter despite yourself.

"heh, was that supposed to be a joke?" he says, raising a brow at you. Hesitating, his expression turns solemn. "if we hadn't got there in time..."

Sans lets out a ragged sigh as you squeeze his fingers, shaking his head and giving you a weary smile. "lemme go get you something to eat. there's nothing better for the soul than some good food. trust me, it'll make you feel better." As Sans starts to ease off the couch you tighten your grip on his hand, stopping him.

"Where's Frisk?" you ask, realizing that your child is nowhere to be seen.

"they're fine, not a scratch on 'em. they're upstairs with papyrus," he says, misinterpreting your worry.

You're glad to hear that physically they're fine, but you're more concerned about what they must be thinking. That wasn't the way you wanted Frisk to find out the truth. But you couldn't help it. Facing down Undyne, all of your newfound maternal instincts had rushed to the surface and the words had just spilled from your mouth. No one else was ever going to hurt your baby ever again; not as long as you were there to protect them. Your mother had been the first and final straw.

Maybe it's the exhaustion or the way you feel so fragile right now, but your vision blurs as you look up at Sans. "I need to talk to Frisk."

Sans's brows draw together, giving you a worried look. "you need to rest and eat something," he says, using his free hand to stroke some hair away from your face. "they aren't going anywhere."

"No," you say, with the little bit of force that you can muster. Pushing down the blanket, you sit up with some difficulty, ignoring Sans's protests. You blink back tears and rub your face. "I need to talk to them. Please, I— Sans they know."

His eyes widen the slightest bit. "how did that happen?"

You sigh and sit up against the pillows, tenting the blanket as you draw up your knees. Looking away from Sans, you instead watch your own hand smooth out the fabric over your legs. "I wasn't thinking. I just blurted it out while protecting Frisk from Undyne."

He squeezes your hand. "i know that's not how you wanted it to go down, but maybe it's for the best..." Sans pauses for a second, then leans in to brush his mouth against your cheek. "okay. i'll go get the kid for you."

Looking up at him as he stands, you give him a weak smile. "Thank you."

"don't. promise me that you'll eat something once you're done."

He waits until you nod before heading up the stairs. Watching him as he goes, you realize he was probably sitting with you the entire time you were unconscious. Once you're sure Frisk is okay, you want to make sure that Sans is okay too. You can only imagine how worried he's been... The hand that he was just holding is now pressed to your chest, your thoughts turning to your cracked Soul. You wonder what he saw when he looked at it. Just remembering the look on his face makes your heart ache.

The vaulted ceiling of the house makes it easy for you to hear Sans upstairs. "hey kiddo, why don't you come downstairs? your..." he hesitates, and you can't help but wince. "she wants to talk to you."

"But I'm playing with Papyrus," Frisk answers. You can just picture the stubborn look on their face, avoiding eye contact as they try to dig in their heels. You try not to take it personally. It doesn't quite work.

Papyrus is suspiciously quiet, you realize.

"c'mon, don't make me patella you twice." A pause. "i know you're worried about her, why don't you go check on her, huh?"

There's some muffled words you can't make out.

"FEAR NOT, TINY HUMAN! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL KEEP THE WORLD SAFE UNTIL YOUR RETURN!"

Frisk appears at the top of the stairs, staring intently at their feet as they slowly make their way down. Sans shows up a moment later, lingering by the second-floor railing. Catching your eye, he points at himself and then at Papyrus's room, letting you know where he'll be. You give him a small smile and nod. He walks away and closes the door.

To your relief, Frisk comes right up and sits next to you on the couch, facing you but looking down at something in their hands. It's your phone. Their small fingers rub over the dark surface nervously. "Sans fixed it. He said it just got wet from the snow, but it's fine now," Frisk says in a small voice. "And all the groceries are okay. We put everything away while you were sleeping."

"Thank you sweetie," you say, reaching out to brush their bangs out of their face. They glance up at you and then back down again. "Do you know why I want to talk to you?"

Frisk tucks the cell phone back into their pants pocket, tugging their sleeves over their hands and pressing the ends to their mouth. After a second they nod and mumble an affirmative noise. You swallow past a lump in your throat and realize your hands are shaking.

"I understand if you're mad at me—"

"I'm not mad," Frisk says. Part of you wants to say something about them interrupting, but you know now isn't the time. Their shoulders hunch forward, making them seem even smaller. "I'm just confused. Lying is wrong."

Pulling their hands away from their mouth, you cup those tiny hands in your palms. You know, even though you can't see them, that Frisk has your fingers. They're long and skinny, with nails clipped short so they won't gnaw them off. You think they got that bad habit from you.

"It is. And I'm so sorry, baby, I hope you believe me," you say, and you can feel the tears swimming in your eyes. Pressing your thumbs into Frisk's palms, you pull their hands to your chest. "I never wanted to hurt you. I love you, and I was scared. Your grandmother wanted to take care of you, and I was too scared and didn't know what I was doing, so I let her." Tears are running down your cheeks, and by some act of mercy your voice is still clear enough to speak. "I helped take care of you the best I could, and I know that it wasn't enough—"

Your words hitch in your throat as Frisk flings their arms around your neck, burying their face in your chest. Pulling them into your lap, you curl over your child and press your eyes into their thin shoulder, sobbing. You feel small hands stroke your hair, comforting you, and you only cry harder.

"Don't cry, I'm happy, knowing I have a mom that'll never hit me," Frisk mumbles to your sternum.

"Never," you promise thickly, shaking your head for good measure. "I should have taken you away before she ever had the chance to hit you, Frisk, it's all my fault."

"No. You said it was her fault, and I believe you."

What did you do to deserve this kid? How did this turn into you being the one that turned into a sobbing mess while the six year old does the comforting?

"Nothing has to change, if you don't want it to," you say, sniffling. "You can still call me Sissa, I can still be your sister."

Frisk hugs you tighter, burying their face under your chin. "I'd rather have a mom than a sister."

Your face scrunches up and you bite back a sob, happiness bubbling up under the turbulent waves of conflicting emotions running through you. Fear and regret are smoothed away, overwhelmingly relieved that Frisk still loves you just as much, if not more. You were so afraid of pushing them away with the truth. You never stopped to wonder if it might pull them closer.

"I'll take care of you, the way a mother should, I promise," you tell them, reaching up over their head to try and wipe away your tears. The most you do is smear them across your cheekbones.

"You already do," Frisk says. You tilt your head to press a kiss into their hair.

"How do you know just what to say? I love you, Frisk."

"I love you too, Mom."


Peeking downstairs, Sans can't help but wonder if this is what Frisk was missing all along. If you are what they need to keep from resetting everything again.

He hopes so.

Chapter Text

You're drinking tomato soup out of a mug, fingers a little oily from the grilled cheese sandwiches you already demolished. Frisk insisted on cooking dinner in your stead (thank goodness, because you don't think you can handle Papyrus's spaghetti right now) and grilled cheese is one of the few things they know. The edges were a little burnt, but even you still make that mistake sometimes. Sans is right about the food. The warm, creamy soup goes straight to your Soul, easing away the pain.

Sans watches you as you eat, and it seems like the tension in his face eases away as you feel better. Even Papyrus stops casting you worried glances. Can they feel the difference? Do monsters have some kind of sense about these things?

The four of you are piled on the couch. Your legs are in Sans's lap, back against the tall armrest. Frisk is sitting on your feet, and they giggle as you wiggle your toes against their thigh. They push on your shins and give you an attempt at a glare, ruined by their toothy grin. Papyrus is on Frisk's other side, enraptured with the television.

Sans must have already talked to Papyrus about what was going on, because when Frisk calls you 'Mom' in front of him he does an admirable job of acting like there's nothing out of the ordinary. When it happens, you glance at Sans and he just gives you a wink.

You drain the mug and lick soup off your top lip. You can't help but notice Sans's white pupils following the path of your tongue. As your mouth curls into a smile, his gaze flicks up to your eyes and his default grin warms as he looks at you.

"feel better?" he asks, taking the empty mug from your hands.

"Much. You were right," you say.

"that happens on occasion." Sans nudges Frisk in the shoulder with the mug, holding it over their lap. "hey kiddo can you go put this in the sink? i'm a little occupied."

Frisk giggles. "It's not a cup it's a mug," they protest, but take it and rock forward to slide off the couch.

"my mugstake."

"SANS." Papyrus warns, casting his brother a sidelong look.

Frisk's laughs follow them as they run off to the kitchen.

"Hey, no running in the house!" you catch yourself calling after them. You blink, then can't help but chuckle.

"uh oh, sounds like someone is turning into a momster."

Laughing, the two of you glance over at Papyrus in expectation. Instead of annoyance, you see contemplation settling over his features. Oh, this is something you've only seen twice in the week or so you've been staying with the brothers. Is he... going to make a pun?

A confident grin erupts across Papyrus's face. "NO, SANS. SHE IS MORE OF A HUMOM."

Dissolving into a fit of giggles, you cover your mouth with one hand as the other grabs a hold of Sans's shoulder. Sans is positively beaming, making a show of rubbing the corner of one eye socket.

"that was beautiful, bro," he says, throwing his arm around Papyrus's shoulders and pulling him into a sideways hug.

Papyrus's cheekbones redden slightly, a pleased smile on his face. After a moment, he seems to remember himself, pushing Sans away. "OF COURSE IT WAS, SANS. I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, CAN ALSO APPRECIATE A GOOD PUN. OCCASIONALLY." He gives his brother a stern look. "DO NOT THINK THIS IS PERMISSION FOR MORE PUNS."

Before Sans can speak (you're certain he was about to get himself screeched at by Papyrus by telling another joke) Frisk rushes back into the room. They beeline for Papyrus, grinning and trying to pull him to his feet. "Papyrus! Let's go play some more. You said we would play after dinner!"

"OF COURSE, TINY HUMAN! PREPARE TO BE DEFEATED BY MY SUPERIOR ACTION FIGURE STRATEGIES! NYEH HEH HEH!"

You and Sans watch the two of them run upstairs (you don't even bother trying to scold Frisk again) and disappear into Papyrus's room. You feel a little exhausted just watching them.

"I can't remember ever having that much energy," you mutter.

"i'm pretty sure papyrus has the energy of at least two monsters. it's probably where mine went." Sans winks at you when you look at him. "he got the height and the energy. i got the charm and devastatingly good looks."

With one less child in the room to traumatize, and one less brother to embarrass, you lean forward to brush a kiss to Sans's mouth. You stay like that for a moment, resting a hand against his chest before pulling back and giving him a crooked smile. "Is that why you're so short? You're weighed down by all those puns and your winning personality?"

A blue tinge paints his cheekbones, but he still manages to give you a sly grin. "hey, now. don't start belittling me."

You laugh, a soft snort breaking free. After a moment, the sound dies out in the air between you as you notice his expression sobering. It's not at all the reaction you're expecting. Searching his face, even the pinpricks of light in his eyes seem to dim.

"What's wrong?" you ask him, softly.

"sorry, i didn't mean to ruin the mood. i just..." Sans shakes his head, then wraps his arms around your middle and pulls you closer. "today was... that was a lot closer than i'm really comfortable with. we're lucky that frisk thought to call papyrus or we..." He pauses, letting his head fall back against the couch. "shit, forget it. you're fine, we're fine... i'm sure undyne will get over it eventually. papyrus can be pretty stubborn, i'm sure he'll annoy her into being friends again."

"I'm sorry for scaring you," you say, because you're not sure what else to do.

"you apologize too much. it's not your fault."

"Sorry," you say, unable to catch yourself. A weak laugh escapes you as Sans gives you a look. "But... are you okay?"

Sans seems to consider your question. His arms relax around you, letting you settle back against the armrest again. One hand lingers at the small of your back and the other rests on your leg, soon covered by your own. You thread your fingers between the slender bones, giving him a reassuring squeeze. "a little rattled i guess you could say. but you're here with me, and that's the best i can hope for." His expression shifts into a worried frown. "but what about you? are you okay?"

"Oddly enough, yeah. I mean, Undyne scared the crap out of me, but somehow it kind of felt like it was a long time coming." Sans gives you a confused look and you shake your head. "I mean, protecting Frisk. It... almost felt like I was standing up to my mother. Ah, that just sounds stupid. It's just that, ever since we got to the Underground, it's felt like I've just been following Frisk's lead. Like they've got everything under control and I have no clue. In the moment, with Undyne, I was terrified, but I knew what I had to do. Looking back on it... it felt... good. To be able to protect them."

Sans nods but doesn't say anything. Comfortable silence settles between you, punctuated only by the muffled sounds of Papyrus's voice upstairs. Fingers gently stroke side to side across the small of your back. He hasn't said anything about your Soul. You try to think of a way to ease yourself into the question, but nothing comes to mind. Reaching up to rest your hand on your chest, you sigh.

"Sans, what's wrong with my Soul?"

He doesn't immediately react. Apparently he was expecting this, judging by the lack of surprise. His gaze falls to the hand over your chest and lingers there. After almost a minute of silence, just as you're starting to get worried, he finally speaks. "you gave me sort of the general idea of what your life was like. now, i'm not stupid, i can sort of fill in the gaps you left. i didn't expect you to give me all the gritty details the day we met, y'know? but that kind of life..." His eyes flick up to yours, and something in your chest aches at the sad look he gives you. "it leaves marks. someone who was supposed to love you and take care of you hurt you instead. over and over, until the cracks started to form. i... ah, shit, babe i'm sorry, please don't..."

The ache is Soul-deep as tears spill silently down your cheeks. You shake your head as Sans tries to comfort you, mouth curving into a humorless smile. "I knew it. As soon as I saw my Soul, I knew that it was all her fault. She ruined me."

"no, you're not ruined. don't you ever think that," he says, squeezing your hand holding your gaze. "the cracks in your soul don't define you. you're wounded, and maybe those cracks will never completely heal, but that doesn't mean that you're ruined."

Drawing in a shaky breath, you reach up with the hand that was on your chest to wipe away your tears. You feel a little sick of crying. "I'm just glad I took Frisk away before she could do this to them too." You smile again; it's weak, but genuine. "Their Soul is so much brighter and clearer than mine. I hope it stays that way."

"me too," he says, a weight to his words you can feel as if it were a tangible thing. San's draws his hand away from your back, and holds it tentatively over your chest. He never breaks eye contact. "do you trust me?"

You nod. "Of course I do."

Sans untangles his fingers from yours, and holds both of his hands over your chest. You lower your hands to your lap, realizing what he's doing and afraid to get in the way. A strange warmth spreads inside of you, a little fuzzy feeling but not unpleasant. His fingers twitch, and your Soul rises and lifts away from your body, a dark red glow lighting the space between you. It's just how you remember it, heart-shaped with cracks running through the middle. The gap between the top two curves of the heart is wider than it should be, like it started to rip in half. You reach up to touch it and Sans doesn't stop you. Your fingers pass right through, like it's an illusion.

"Wait, what?" you say, startled. "But..."

Sans pulls your hand away, settling it back in your lap. He's careful not to touch your Soul. "only magic can touch it, sorry. it's how monsters can draw it out in the first place."

"Oh."

"your soul is the only part of you that contains some magic. us monsters, our whole bodies are made of it. you humans, you're made up of a lot more stuff. a long time ago there were humans that could tap into their souls, i dunno if there's any that still can." Sans shakes his head. "that's not the point. what i'm trying to say is that magic calls to magic. i can feel your soul even when you can't see it. i told you before that frisk's soul is stronger than yours, and that's still true. but you're not weak. you held your own against undyne longer than a lot of monsters ever could."

You're shaking your head. Sans is giving you too much credit. "But that's only because of that weird magical barrier she gave me—"

"your soul made that shield, to protect you. she used her magic on your soul and it reacted."

You blink. "That... makes a lot more sense than Undyne making things harder on herself."

Sans chuckles. "yeah." His attention is on your Soul, his fingers cupping the air around it like he's holding something delicate and precious. You suppose, in a way, he is. With your legs over him, you can feel a shudder run through his bones. "you can't really know how this feels, i can't even describe it." He sounds reverent, and his voice makes something inside you ache.

"Try," you say, whispering without thinking.

He looks up to your face and there's something hungry in his eyes, affection and lust and fear somehow all wrapped up together. "it makes my bones hum. your soul is everything about you, concentrated into this little ball of magic. it's... wonderful and painful at the same time, overwhelming but i can't get enough. the closer i get..." Sans's fingers inch closer, then he trembles and drops his hands away. Sweat is dotting the side of his skull and he releases a shaky sigh. "shit. sorry it's just... pretty intense. human souls are something else."

With Sans losing his focus on your Soul, it sinks back down into your chest and that strange fuzzy feeling goes away. You feel more solid, somehow. The intimacy of what just happened strikes you hard, a flush spreading rapidly over your cheeks. As you watch, it takes a moment for Sans to collect himself.

"you're not ruined," he says, voice canted low as he reaches out to cup your cheek. "i hope that, ah, little demonstration helped you see exactly what your soul is capable of doing. at least... to me."

You sit up and turn, pulling one leg over his lap so that you're straddling him. Sans's eyes widen in surprise as you arch your back so you can bend forward to press a series of light kisses along his mouth. As you trail along his jaw, you feel his hands find your hips, then tease under the hem of your shirt, along the waist of your jeans. You can hear him release a shaky breath next to your ear.

"you should be resting," he protests weakly, his phalanges trailing higher to find more skin. The hypocrite.

"I'm fine," your murmur against his neck. He shivers. "The food helped, just like you said it would."

"frisk could come down any second."

That makes you pause. With a heavy sigh you pull back, giving Sans an exasperated look. "This is just getting frustrating."

"so eager to jump my bones?" he asks, a blue blush tinting his cheekbones. "your own skeleton inside you getting lonely?"

You make a face. "That's just creepy, Sans."

He laughs. You can feel the sound through your body as you sit on him. Giving your hips a squeeze that makes you bite back an embarrassingly pleased sound, he waggles his brows at you. "i'll talk to papyrus tomorrow. see what i can do about getting us some time alone."

Chapter Text

Do you honestly think this changes anything?

Frisk laughs, ducking under Papyrus's arm as they imitate flying for the toy they have clenched in their hand. Most of the action figures are robots, and a small, guilty part of Frisk feels a little jealous. They never got to have cool toys like this.

Papyrus gives a stirring speech for the figure in his hand, then pushes a small button to launch plastic missiles. They fall feebly to the comforter of Papyrus's bed.

She lied to you for your entire life.

It doesn't matter. She loves me.

Frisk's smile never falters as they pretend their toy was hit by the projectiles anyway, letting out an over-dramatic cry of despair. The skeleton laughs triumphantly.

Her fear kept her from telling you the truth. What else is her fear going to ruin? What else has her fear already ruined?

She was afraid of Undyne, but she protected me.

Snatching up another toy, Frisk adopts a —frankly terrible— deeper voice and tells the fallen robot that they will be avenged. Frisk nudges the fallen toy and pretends to cough, whispering their dying words.

The performance has Papyrus enraptured.

You're going to slip up. One of these days you're going to let me in, let me take control.

I won't. You just want to hurt people.

I just want to protect you. Protect us.

You wanted to hurt Toriel.

She was keeping us trapped in the Ruins. Don't you want to go back to the surface?

Not anymore. I like it here. Si— Mom likes it here.

"FRISK?"

You can't trust anyone. People and monsters only care about themselves, in the end. No matter how much you think they care about you, how much they promise to be loyal to you... they'll betray you. They'll let you down.

That's not true!

Frisk's fingers tighten around the toy in their hands. They don't notice Papyrus waiting, worried, for them to speak.

One day, you'll be all alone, crying out for help...

"FRISK?" Papyrus finally reaches out and takes hold of Frisk's shoulder.

Frisk jumps and looks at the skeleton, dropping the figure they're holding.

"Sorry! I was trying to figure out the best speech for Sparkeroid to give!" Frisk blurts out, trying their best not to look guilty.

"OH, OF COURSE! SPEECHES ARE MY FAVORITE PART OF ACTION FIGURE BATTLES!"

Relieved but guilty of the lie, Frisk snatches the robot back up.

...and nobody will come.


Sans lied to you. He's not okay. He keeps replaying the moment he and Papyrus showed up in Snowdin and couldn't find you, when he grabbed hold of his brother and blinked forward towards Waterfall in a panic. The sight of you and Frisk facing down Undyne sent a shiver of fear down his spine, and if it hadn't been for Papyrus's lightning fast reflexes... He can't stop the image of those spears piercing your body —your Soul— from running through his mind.

As much as you passing out in his arms scared the everloving crap out of him, he was glad for the time to collect himself. He didn't want you to see how scared he was. He thinks you probably still had an idea, but at least when you woke up he could pretend everything was better than it was. He's good at that. He's had a lot of practice.

He's sitting on his bed, the light still on because he knows he's not going to fall asleep any time soon. For whatever reason, he has no problem napping nearly anywhere during the day, but as soon as it's night he struggles. He stares at a note he has stuck to the wall above his mattress. 'It hasn't reset. She's downstairs with Frisk.'

It helps.

Things are becoming more and more different this time. Undyne never came to find Frisk in Snowdin before, but Frisk never stayed here this long either. And Papyrus always let the news of a human slip to her, but this time he hadn't. What else is going to change?

Part of him wishes that he knew what was coming. But this is what makes this time special, the thing that gives him hope that this might finally be the end.

No, enough thinking about resets and timelines. Stop worrying, think of something else.

He thinks about you. The weight of you —the reassuring, comfortable, soft weight of you— in his lap, looking down at him before you started to kiss him. He wishes he could kiss you properly. He remembers the smooth warmth of your skin under his fingers, that little restrained sound you made when he squeezed your hips. He makes a mental note to do that again.

Your Soul is captivating. It is so different than Frisk's, the only other human Soul he's ever seen before. Frisk's is incredibly strong, brighter and clearer, unburdened (though, sometimes, he thinks he feels some kind of echo). In comparison, yours feels more delicate, heavy, and complicated. Your life has altered its composition in a myriad of ways, and despite (or maybe because of) it all, he thinks it's beautiful.

He wanted to touch it, to feel what you feel, but that would have been too much. You were still recovering, and he couldn't be sure what it would do to you. You didn't seem to feel anything close to what he did just being near it, but touching it directly... He can't imagine that wouldn't have some effect.

Hell, he isn't even sure what it might do to him.

Thinking about you makes him feel better, which alone is a testament for how much you've affected him. He should be upset that you're making him more and more vulnerable, but he can't bring himself to do it.

It's good to care again, even if it hurts.

Chapter Text

You wake with a pair of tiny feet lodged into the small of your back. Frisk is twisted up in an unnatural position between you and the back of the couch, cocooned in their blanket and sound asleep. You're lucky that they're not a kicker, or you would have found yourself on the floor. Mouth hanging open, they give a small, sleepy snort and duck their chin under the edge of the blanket.

There's a light on in the kitchen, so you decide to get up. A quick check on your phone tells you it's just a little after 8 AM. With some difficulty, you untangle yourself from your blanket and find your feet. The (frankly ugly) blue and purple zigzag carpet is now familiar under your bare feet, the flattened piling old and worn down.

Rubbing your face and yawning, you stumble blearily into the kitchen. The only light is from the stove's hood lamp, dim but enough to see by without disturbing the living room. That was considerate of... oh, Papyrus is there, perking up at the sight of you. He's sitting at the kitchen table, slurping up a bite of spaghetti from his stockpile in the fridge. Judging by the way the sauce is thick and congealed, you think he's eating it cold. You struggle to suppress a shudder.

"GOOD MORNING, HUMAN," he says, far too cheerful for your still-groggy state. He's speaking a bit quieter than usual, but still a bit loud for your tastes. Not loud enough to disturb Frisk, but enough to invoke that sense of presence he has.

You mumble a greeting and dig through the cabinet to produce some instant coffee. Honestly, it's disgusting, but with no way to get the brothers a coffee pot or a French press, you were at a loss for a way to get your morning dose of caffeine. Somehow the shop bunny had produced a container of instant coffee, and you settled for that. The expiration date was rubbed off at some point before it made it to Snowdin's shop. You try not to think about it as you spoon some into a mug, followed by a healthy serving of sugar.

Looking at the container of sugar, you can't help but smile. It reminds you of Sans, and the first time he kissed you.

You fill up the kettle from the sink and set it on the stove, turning the knob for the wrong burner at first, then quickly correcting yourself. With another rub at your sleep-crusted eyes, you turn to face Papyrus and lean your back against the counter. He's turned in his chair, facing you and ignoring his spaghetti. You're a little unsettled to see that he's watching you with a small frown on his face.

"HUMAN. TO BE HONEST, I WAS HOPING THAT I COULD SPEAK WITH YOU IN PRIVATE. AND NOW WE HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY." Papyrus lets out a worried sigh, wringing his gloved hands. "I WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT SANS."

Before you have a chance to say anything, Papyrus is rising to his feet. He's a good head taller than you, and as he closes the distance you can't help but feel a little trapped. You're a lot more awake now, and frankly a little nervous.

"SANS IS MY ONLY FAMILY, MY BROTHER. I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, TAKE CARE OF HIM, AND TRY TO KEEP HIM HAPPY. AND NOW, YOU ARE HELPING HIM BE HAPPY. TRULY, YOU ARE A WONDERFUL FRIEND, AND SOMEONE SPECIAL TO SANS, WHICH MAKES YOU EVEN MORE SPECIAL TO ME." Papyrus has your gaze held and locked in his, and you feel like breaking eye contact would be a serious offense. His words are kind and part of you is touched at the sentiment, but his tone is still serious. He's not smiling.

"I really appreciate that, Papyrus," you mumble.

"WITH THAT IN MIND." Papyrus's eyes narrow, and there's a flicker of orange within his right eye. You feel a tingle of magic in the air around him. "I HOPE THAT YOU CONTINUE TO MAKE HIM HAPPY. BECAUSE IF YOU HURT MY BROTHER..." The orange ring flares brighter and sharper, and you cringe back against the counter. The trailing end of his red scarf gives an intimidating ripple. "I WILL BE VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU."

There was a time when you never understood why your friends in school got so upset when their parents said thinks like 'I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed'. Now you get it. It hits you like a ton of bricks.

All at once the magic is gone, and Papyrus's eyes are both dark. As you try to regain your bearings, the kettle starts to give off the beginnings of a low, quiet whistle. Papyrus turns away from you to sit back at the table, and you hurry to pull the kettle off the stove before it gets louder. Trembling slightly, you pour boiling water into your mug and start stirring. What the hell was that? You've never seen Papyrus that intimidating, not even when he was facing down Undyne.

Oh, but Undyne wasn't threatening Sans, now was she?

Finding your voice again, you pick up your mug and (with great courage, you think) take a seat next to Papyrus at the table. "I... I hope you believe me, when I say that I want Sans to be happy, too," you say, staring at your coffee as you stir some more.

"OH, I DO!" Papyrus says, his voice cheerful once again. You feel like you've suffered verbal whiplash at the sudden change of tone. Like Papyrus hadn't just made you nearly wet yourself. "I BELIEVE IN YOU! I'M CERTAIN THAT THE TWO OF YOU WILL BE INSUFFERABLE TOGETHER, WITH YOUR PUNNERISMS." You look up in time to see him pull a disgusted face, then slurp up another forkfull of spaghetti. "BUT IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES TO SEE MY BROTHER HAPPY AGAIN, THEN I SUPPOSE I WILL JUST HAVE TO ENDURE IT."

You sip at the hot coffee, almost scalding your tongue. It still needs to sit a little longer. Brimming with nervous energy, you roll the mug slowly between your hands, the heat warming your palms. "Well, I hope I don't let you down."

Papyrus claps a hand on your shoulder, making you jump and nearly spill your coffee. He's beaming at you, filled with confidence. "OF COURSE YOU WON'T!" He releases you, scooping up his dishes and leaving the table to put them in the sink. "I HOPE THE TWO OF YOU HAVE A GOOD DAY. AT HOME. ALONE TOGETHER," he says, giving you an exaggerated wink. He even says 'wink' in a high-pitched voice as he does it.

You're certain you're blushing. Your face feels hotter than the mug between your hands.

Papyrus nudges you in the shoulder, cackling on his way out of the kitchen. "FRISK! COME, WAKE UP! YOU AND I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAVE A FUN, ADVENTURE-FILLED DAY AHEAD OF US!"

You try to sip your coffee again. It's burning.


You're sipping at your coffee on the couch, your legs tucked under you. The house is quiet with Papyrus and Frisk gone. It feels a little strange, sitting there alone while you wait for Sans to wake up. You're thumbing through a book you have saved on your phone, killing time. You wonder if the Underground has ebooks. Maybe you'll find out one of these days.

Going to take another sip of your drink, you realize it's gone cold which does nothing for the already-disgusting taste. Scowling at the mug, you flick your phone's screen into darkness and drop it onto the couch beside you. You unfold yourself and walk into the kitchen.

You rinse out the mug, then pull Papyrus's plate out of the sink and scrape soggy noodles into the garbage. You return the dishes to the sink. After a short mental debate, you decide to leave washing them for later. There's a small niggling in the back of your mind, but it's minor enough to just ignore. You're making progress.

As you turn away from the sink and dry your hands on a dishtowel sitting on the counter, you spot Sans watching you from the entryway. He meets your eyes for a second, just long enough so that you know that he knows you're watching. Then, with exaggerated slowness, his gaze rakes down your body. You can practically feel it, like fingers dragging down your skin.

Flushing, you realize how you must look. You've been wearing the clothes you borrowed on the first day as pajamas, and you hadn't bothered to change yet. That oversized black t-shirt with the goofy ribcage on it, Sans's shorts, bare feet, and you can only guess at the state of your hair. Your fingers are still damp as you try to comb them through your hair, and the moisture causes them to snag. Cursing, you tug your hand out. Real smooth.

Distracted by your hair, it takes you a second to realize that Sans is right in front of you. Grinning, with a hunger in his eyes, he raises up on his toes and brushes the toothy equivalent of a kiss to your jaw. "maybe this is a dumb question, considering the peace and quiet, but they're gone, right?"

"Um, yeah," you manage to say, caught off-balance by that look he's giving you.

"good," he says, voice canted low, almost low enough to be considered a growl. You can feel his voice under your skin. "because seeing you in my shorts is enough to drive me crazy, and i want to get you out of them."

Oh. His words, the wanting look in his eyes, his voice... it's all enough to kindle heat low in your belly. It seems that Sans doesn't want to waste any of the time the two of you managed to get alone.

The moment you lean forward to press your mouth to his, his hands are on you. Like he was waiting for your silent permission. Fingers slide up your back, hesitating for a second where your bra would normally be. You didn't wear it to bed. He continues up between your shoulder blades, feeling the curve of bone under your skin before dragging back down along your spine. You shiver under his touch.

"Use your magic," you breathe against his jaw, tracing the edge of the bone with the tip of your tongue. "Kiss me."

There's a hint of blue as your eyes open for just a moment, then Sans frees a hand from under your shirt to cup the back of your neck. Your fingers skate along the contours of his ribs through his shirt as he gently teases your bottom lip with his teeth. Your lips part as you groan in response, the familiar warmth of his conjured tongue sliding against yours.

Sans shudders against you as your hand works around his side and down his spine. Your fingers trail lightly over all the curves and divots, the bones warm under your touch. As you trail across the curve of his pelvis, he breaks away from the kiss and presses his forehead to your shoulder, biting back a gasp.

"shit," he breathes, his hand finding the soft swell of the underside of your breast. You tremble with anticipation, waiting for him to move that hand higher. "you have no idea how bad i want you."

The hand that was on the back of your neck moves to take hold of the loose collar of your borrowed t-shirt. Tugging it to the side, you feel his tongue sweep down your neck and to the exposed part of your shoulder. Then, the hard edge of his teeth grazes your skin, before he slowly, carefully, bites down. It's enough to make you moan, the tiniest hint of pain only sending a thrill through your body. Your moan turns into a breathy gasp as the hand on your breast slides up to tease over your nipple, squeezing at the soft weight.

"Sans," you whine, arching into his touch as your fingers twist into his shirt.

"tell me what you want," he says, releasing the collar of your shirt as he looks up at you with one burning eye. You can see the hint of his blue tongue still behind his teeth as he talks. His free hand reaches down to take hold of your hip, and you roll your hips forward against him. Sweat beads on the side of his skull.

"You, Sans. Please, take me upstairs," you plead, a small part of you surprised at the lust in your voice. You can't remember ever sounding like that before.

There's a familiar lurch in the pit of your stomach and you find yourself in Sans's room. He holds you steady as you wobble a bit, regaining your bearings. His hands fall away from you, looking a little sheepish. "sorry, i guess we could have used the stairs."

"It's fine," you say, stroking a thumb across the blue stain on his cheekbone. "Now, I think you said something about wanting to get me out of these clothes?"

Taking a step back to look over you again, his grin widens. "the day we met, i knew i was in trouble. seeing you in my clothes... lets just say, you gave me a bone-er."

You shouldn't be surprised at the pun, but it catches you off guard. You give an unattractive snort of laughter, dissolving into giggles. "I can't believe you just said that."

"yeah you can," he murmurs, moving close again. You take a step back, and feel the edge of the bed against the backs of your knees. "i love hearing you laugh."

Sans hooks his fingers on the elastic waist of your shorts, raising a brow at you. "have i charmed the pants off you yet?"

"Am I going to have to take my clothes off myself?" you ask, teasing.

Sans chuckles. "don't you dare. i've been dying to address this issue myself."

Rolling your eyes at him, you move your hands to take hold of your waistband, but he catches hold of your wrists. "don't. please," he says, the gentleness of his voice making you stop.

With careful deliberation, Sans tugs down your shorts, letting them fall into a pool of fabric at your feet. Then, he takes hold of the hem of your shirt, and you let him pull it over your head. It finds a new home on the floor near the treadmill. You stand there in only your underwear, fighting the sudden urge to cross your arms as Sans just looks at you. Self-consciousness nags at you as you think about the stretch marks on your stomach and thighs, the scar under your panty line. But Sans has this tenderness in his expression that quiets the voices in the back of your head.

He seems afraid to touch you. "can i... will you really let me..." Sans raises a hand, but seems unsure.

You reach out and take his hand, guiding it to the curve of your waist. "Yes, please."

He takes hold of your hips and guides you back onto the bed. Following you, there's a moment where you want to remark on the fact that he's significantly more dressed than you are, but then his hands are tracing over you and the thought flits away. You watch him study you, memorizing the way the hard bones of his fingers press at soft flesh. He drags up your thigh, lingers at the curve of your backside, follows the swell of your hip. You can't help but squirm under his touch, aching for more specific attention as he grazes over the peaks of your breasts. Hands trail down over the softness of your stomach, tips of his phalanges tracing the marks in your skin.

Before you can even dwell on the stretch marks or let the self-consciousness come back, Sans's hands move to your hips. He squeezes, thumbs pressing against the ridges of bone as his fingers curl around the flesh of your sides. You arch your back, biting back a groan.

"Sans," you whine, looking up at him with lidded eyes.

"show me what to do. what do i do to make you come for me?" He pulls off your last scrap of clothing as he speaks to you, his voice humming against your skin.

Guiding his hand down between your thighs, you draw in a shuddering breath as the warm, smooth bones of his fingers press against your folds. Fumbling for a moment, he carefully pushes past your outer lips and traces the outside of your entrance. Moaning, you arch under his touch, and as your hand falls away from his he slowly pushes inside.

"everything about you is so soft," he murmurs, leaning over you to nuzzle his forehead against your cheek. You turn your head to trail lazy, distracted kisses along his skull as his fingers curl inside you. He tries a few different motions, adjusted angles, until your back arches as you moan. Sans makes a pleased sound, and you feel yourself trembling, grabbing at his shoulders because you need something, anything, to do with your hands. "you feel so good, so wet. how are you so amazing?"

Gasping, you can feel the tension start to build, low in your belly, but just his fingers isn't enough. You reach down and as you touch his hand his motion slows, tilting his head to look up at you. "I need..." You bite your lip, having trouble finding the words.

"tell me what you need," he urges, moving inside you with slow, steady strokes of his fingers.

You guide his thumb over your clit, showing him a small circular motion. Muscles in your legs twitch at the overstimulation, and after a few strokes, you realize that the hard surface of his fingers is too much for you. With a frustrated sound, you pull his thumb away. "Damn it, I can't... I'm used to something softer," you admit in a small voice.

"it's fine, babe, don't worry," Sans says, brushing his mouth against your cheek before removing his fingers and sitting back on his heels. He shifts himself to settle between your knees, pulling off his shorts as he moves. "i know a few ways to make your trip to the bone zone, magical."

"Did you seriously just say bone zo—ohhh!"

There's more blue as the ring in his left eye pulses brighter for a moment, and you feel something warm press inside you, filling you better than his fingers ever could. It takes you a moment to realize that Sans is trembling, letting out a shaky breath. "shit," he breathes, running a hand down your thigh. Pulling back (you can tell now that he's made himself a cock with his magic, which shouldn't surprise you after that trick with his tongue) he gives another slow stroke deep into your core. "fuck, you feel so good."

You curl one leg around his, urging him deeper. Sans takes hold of your knee with one hand to steady himself as he reaches down with his other hand.  Instead of the hard bone you expect to feel, his fingers are soft against your clit. Curiosity getting the better of you, despite how damn good it feels, you see he's using his magic to form a cushion over the phalanges. 

Sans catches your eye as you let your head fall back to the mattress, winking at you with his dark eye. He sticks his tongue out at you. "i can make anything you want, babe," he growls, a wicked grin on his face.

"Right now I don't care," you groan, arching into his hand. "What you're doing now is perfect."

Tension is coiling, hot and heavy in your belly as Sans thrusts and rubs as you instructed. Moaning and crying out, your hands scrabble under his shirt and hook into his ribs, eliciting a hoarse sound from the skeleton. His cheekbones are stained blue and he's watching you, eyes raking over your face as he devours every change in your expression.

"so beautiful," he says, and in that moment you believe him. His fingers are digging almost painfully into your leg as he holds himself up, but something about it arouses you even more. "come on, babe. come for me."

You're so close, and his urging nearly pushes you over the edge. Squeezing your eyes shut, a whimper falls from your lips. With a wide stroke of Sans's thumb and a well-timed thrust accompanying it, your back arches, a ragged moan spills out of you, and the tension in your belly fractures. Waves of pleasure rock through your body, made only sweeter as Sans guides you through your orgasm with slow circles of his finger. The clenching of your inner walls make him moan, bowing forward over you as he continues his steady pace.

Soon the feel of his thumb against you is too much as your peak starts to fade away. You reach down and take hold of his hand, pulling it up towards your shoulder. "Please, Sans, I need you closer," you tell him, voice breathy from pleasure. "Come here."

"heh, was that a pun just now?" he asks, his voice stuttering as he leans forward over you, holding your hand tight in his as he presses his forehead to your collarbone.

You don't even have time to answer him before he thrusts one last time and goes still above you. He moans your name and rocks forward, deeper, to draw out one last moan from you before shifting to collapse at your side. You tangle your legs up in his as he gathers you in his arms, pressing his head to your chest.

"i... that was incredible," he murmurs, and you can only nod in agreement.

You're not sure you can move yet, your muscles in your legs are tingling and your arms feel heavy.

"i just want to stay like this forever," he says, quietly like he's afraid the universe will hear him and intervene. Maybe he is. "i can't believe you're here with me, like this."

"I'm here, Sans. I'm not going anywhere," you promise, running a hand along his back.

Sans doesn't say anything. Instead he holds you closer, and you think he's listening to your heartbeat.

Chapter Text

Papyrus loves the time he spends with Frisk. Oh, not that he doesn't enjoy spending time with you, but there's something to be said for the unbridled joy and enthusiasm of a child. Frisk sits on his shoulders as they walk through Waterfall, gazing up at the sparkling crystals overhead.

"They're so pretty!" Frisk cries, patting at Papyrus's hands as he holds their knees.

"I THOUGHT YOU WOULD LIKE THEM, FRISK! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, ALSO ENJOY COMING TO THE WISHING ROOM." Papyrus feels Frisk cover the top of his skull with their hands, then rest their chin on their fingers. "IF YOU WOULD LIKE, YOU COULD MAKE A WISH! UNDOUBTEDLY, IF YOU WISH HARD ENOUGH, IT WILL COME TRUE!"

Frisk hums, twisting their feet, but doesn't immediately answer.

He's glad that he was able to stop Undyne from hurting his new human friends. He knows that the King needs humans in order to open the Barrier, but... he hadn't suspected that the humans would have to die. Of course he wants to reach the surface, just like everyone else, but not at the expense of his friends. He won't let anyone hurt the two of you.

Especially now that Sans seems so fond of you. Sans never talks about why, but Papyrus knows that his brother hasn't been the same. Not since they decided to move to Snowdin. Something happened, something he feels like he should remember, but can't. There was a time where things were... bad for Sans. He rarely left his room, kept pouring over strange blueprints and not talking to anyone. Then he stopped doing much of anything. He just... gave up. That was when Papyrus urged his brother to take a job with him as a sentry.

Why is he thinking about that? He doesn't like to think about that.

But Sans has been smiling more, he's sure of it. Sans likes to think he can't tell when the smiles are fake, but Papyrus knows his brother. He also knows that his brother doesn't like to talk about what's bothering him, so Papyrus acts like nothing's wrong. Because that's what Sans wants.

"Okay! I know what I want to wish," Frisk says. "Is it like a birthday wish? Do I have to keep it a secret?"

"I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THESE 'BIRTHDAY WISHES' BUT NO, YOU CAN TELL ME IF YOU'D LIKE." Frisk wiggles excitedly on his shoulders. Startled, Papyrus tightens his grip on their legs. "PLEASE BE CAREFUL! I DON'T WANT YOU TO FALL AND BECOME INJURED."

Frisk leans forward and curls their little fingers over his gloves, resting their chin on top of his skull. Papyrus can't help the swell of affection that rises inside of him. No, he most certainly won't let anything happen to Frisk. Not if he can help it.

"I wish that me, and Mom, and you, and Sans all stay together and happy. Like..." Frisk tightens their grip on his hands, hesitating. When they speak again, their voice is small and fragile. "Maybe like a family?"

"THAT'S AN EXCELLENT WISH! I HOPE IT COMES TRUE!"

Frisk makes a pleased sound that vibrates his skull. Their surroundings have slowly changed from sparkling caverns to dark, glowing marsh. The water gives off a calming, blue glow.

"Hey, Papyrus, where are we going?" Frisk asks, wiggling the tips of their worn sneakers up and down.

"OH, TO UNDYNE'S HOUSE OF COURSE! SHE..." Papyrus hesitates, nervous sweat springing up on the side of his skull. "SHE HASN'T BEEN ANSWERING MY CALLS. BUT I JUST KNOW THAT THE TWO OF YOU WILL BE GREAT FRIENDS! I KNOW THAT YOU DIDN'T GET OFF TO THE BEST START... BUT SHE IS REALLY VERY NICE!" He pauses again, drumming his fingers on Frisk's leg. "WELL, SHE HAS A BIT OF A TEMPER. AND SOMETIMES SHE'S REALLY RUDE. BUT DEEP DOWN! UNDYNE IS A GOOD FRIEND."


"Do you know when they're supposed to get back?" You're still with Sans in his room, lying naked on his bed. Neither of you are in a rush to go anywhere. You're happy just staying there with him, talking. Glancing at the wall above you, you notice a tiny bit of tape with the ripped corner of a piece of paper under it. You idly wonder what was stuck there.

"papyrus said he'd text me when they're headed back, but i think they're gonna be gone until dinner? sounded like an all day thing," Sans says, shrugging. He reaches over you to grab his phone. He doesn't have any messages, and the clock says it's still midmorning.

"What are they doing?" you ask, looking up at Sans as he lingers above you.

"dunno. didn't ask." He drops his phone back on the end table, then throws his leg over yours, straddling your thighs. You just watch him as he sits back, casual, and grins at you. 

Tucking your arms behind your head, you raise an eyebrow at him as his gaze trails lazily down your torso. "Enjoying the view?" you ask, giving him a small, crooked smile. You don't even feel self-conscious anymore as he looks over you. This small window of time, after having sex but before rejoining the 'real world', it feels different. Special. Like as long as you don't open the door to his bedroom, everything will stay just like this.

"sansational," he says, winking. You roll your eyes, laughing just enough for his smile to widen. His fingers trace along the edges of your ribs, making you shiver involuntarily. "so, i hope i kept my promise to you when we went out on that date. did you have a good time?"

"A wonderful time," you assure him as his fingers and his gaze drift down to your stomach. "You were fantastic."

"i'm talented. a skilleton, you might say."

You turn your face into your arm, trying to resist it but snorting anyway, shaking with laughter.

"hey, all that laughing is rattling my bones over here." He waits until you've calmed down and are looking at him again to continue. "not that i mind a good bone-rattling," he says, waggling his brows at you.

Chuckling, you give his femur a weak shove. "You're ruining this nice, relaxing moment. Haven't you had enough?"

"of you? never." He gives your waist a tantalizing squeeze, and despite the small groan that escapes you, you give him a small swat.

"You're being bad."

"bad to the bone?"

"Ugh, nope. No more, get off me," you tell him, trying your best not to laugh.

With a dramatic sigh, Sans rolls off to the side to sit next to you. Pulling yourself up to face him, you cross your legs under you and reach out to tap him between the eyes gently. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were pouting. If you had lips."

"you should know that there's lots of things i can manage without lips, babe. but, i draw the line at pouting." He cups your cheek with one hand, and his expression softens. "eh, i'm too happy right now to pout."

Nuzzling into the smooth bones of his palm, you cover his hand with yours. "You know that I'm happy too, right? Because I am."

"i figured... but it's nice to hear." As you drop your hand back to your lap, he slips his fingers into your hair, slowly combing through. Closing your eyes, you press into his touch with a pleased hum. "you like that?"

You nod. "It feels nice. I... no one ever really did my hair for me when I was a kid, so it feels good when you play with it."

"i'll add it to the list."

You let out a small laugh, opening your eyes just enough to look at him. "The list?"

"the list of weird things you like me to do."

"It's not weird!"

"whatever you say, babe."

"It's not."

"ok."

"I'm serious."

"ok."

Huffing, you flop over onto your side, then roll onto your back again. Sans scoots closer, right up against you so you can feel his knees against your skin. You try to give him an annoyed look, but fail miserably when you meet his affectionate gaze. Who would have expected the punny skeleton to be such a sap?

You jump slightly when you don't expect to feel Sans's fingers press against your hipbone, then trail low across your waist. He stops somewhere familiar, the spot where you know your scar is. His touch is gentle as he traces over it. "what happened here?"

"Frisk," you say, resting your hand on your stomach. "When I was pregnant, there was an issue when I went into labor. Doctors decided it would be safer for both of us to do a Caesarean section."

Sans is giving you a blank look. You realize he doesn't really understand what you just told him.

"Um. It's an operation. They did surgery to get Frisk out."

"oh." He gives your scar a thoughtful glance, following the line of it with his finger once last time before trailing up to the marks on your stomach instead. "and what about these?"

"Marks from all the stretching my stomach did when I was pregnant. I got pretty huge." You shrug, that nagging feeling of self-consciousness starting to creep back. "Sorry, I know they're not exactly attractive."

"hey," he says, taking hold of your hand and squeezing. He looks up from your midriff to meet your eyes. "i was just asking because i was curious, not because i don't like them. i haven't found a part of you i don't like."

Feeling a faint blush creep across your cheeks, you glance away. "Well, I think that's just because you don't have any frame of reference. I mean, it's not like you've got a wide variety of humans to compare me to."

Bony fingers find the side of your face, gently turning you towards him as Sans leans over you to brush a toothy kiss to your forehead. "i don't need to compare you to other humans. i like you. i like your cute face." He brushes his hand across your cheek. "your hair." His touch shifts to your hair. "your soul." His fingers trace a path down to your chest. "your body." He grabs your waist. "and everything about it. all the marks."

You're beet red by the time he's done, fighting the urge to hide your face.

He seems a little surprised when he looks back up at you, after following a trail down your body. "babe, you okay?"

You realize that your eyes are misting up, and you hurry to blink back tears. "I'm fine! I just... geez, I wasn't expecting that," you say, sniffling a little bit and giving an embarrassed laugh. "Sorry, you caught me a little off guard. I'm not used to stuff like that."

Sans's smile seems a little sad. He cups the back of your head and pulls you to him. "well, get ready to be used to it."

Chapter Text

Doesn't this idiot remember that the fish-bitch tried to kill you yesterday?

Frisk twitches as the familiar voice creeps into their mind, but doesn't give it the satisfaction of a response. It had been quiet so far today. Traveling with Papyrus through Waterfall had been fun, and made Frisk happy, and when Frisk is happy the voice tends to go silent. But facing down Undyne's door (a door made of teeth long and sharp like those of the house's resident) sends a little shiver of worry through Frisk. And that worry gives the voice its chance.

There's the sound of piano music coming from within, and it's so pretty that at first Frisk thinks it must be a recording. Then, the notes fall out of tune, stop altogether, and loud muffled cursing fills the silence. There's a sharp banging sound. Silence. Then the piano starts again.

I told you. You can't trust anyone. Everyone is gonna let you down. Even if they're too stupid to realize what they're doing.

Papyrus glances behind him where Frisk is hiding behind his knobby knees. Crouching down so he's at eye-level, a big gloved hand ruffles Frisk's hair. They hide the urge to reach up and smooth it out again. Why is everyone so obsessed with doing that?

"DON'T WORRY, FRISK! I'M CERTAIN YOU AND UNDYNE WILL BECOME THE BEST OF PALS. AFTER ALL, YOU BOTH HAVE EXCELLENT TASTE IN FRIENDS ALREADY! YOU'RE BOTH FRIENDS WITH ME!" Papyrus grins at them, beaming for a moment, before he glances away, suddenly looking a little unsure. "AT LEAST, I HOPE THAT UNDYNE IS STILL MY FRIEND..."

Though they're not sure why, Frisk feels confident that everything will be just fine. There's something familiar about all this. As Papyrus lets out a little, worried sigh, Frisk reaches out and pats the big skeleton's shoulder. "Of course she's still your friend! And I'm sure she'll be my friend too," they say, grinning.

The voice is quiet, but if Frisk wanted to put a name to the strange feeling in the back of their mind... they'd call it 'bored'.

Papyrus hesitates, and then his huge smile is back. He shoots back up to his full height, rests his hands on his hips, and the trailing end of his scarf gives an enthusiastic wave. "THAT'S THE SPIRIT FRISK! OKAY, TIME TO HELP YOU TWO BECOME FRIENDS!"

Frisk steps up beside the skeleton, who rests an affectionate hand on top of their head. He uses his other hand to knock loudly on the intimidating, toothy door. The piano music stops, and a moment later the smooth scrape of teeth replaces the sound as the home's entrance opens wide to reveal Undyne. She's dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a black tank-top that shows off the toned muscles in her arms.

For a split-second her mouth breaks into a friendly smile, then instantly sours as she looks between Papyrus and Frisk.

"HELLO UNDYNE! YOU WEREN'T ANSWERING MY CALLS SO I THOUGHT—"

Undyne turns her back on them with a look of disgust, and the jaws of the door slam shut. There's a moment of stunned silence as Papyrus just stares, confused. Frisk gives the skeleton a wide-eyed look, unsure of what to do.

"Um..."

A muffled roar of anger comes from inside the house. Then a loud bang that rattles the windows. Frisk is about to suggest that maybe they should come back later, when the long fangs of Undyne's door snap back open.

"I should be kicking your ass right now, you JERK!" Undyne shouts, jabbing a sharp-nailed finger into Papyrus's face. Her yellow eyes flick down to Frisk, narrowing to dangerous slits. "And YOU. What are YOU doing here, you little squirt? Your mom know you're here?"

"I THOUGHT WE COULD ALL HANG OUT! MAYBE YOU CAN GET TO KNOW FRISK BETTER...?" Papyrus says, giving Frisk an extra pat to the head for emphasis.

Undyne sneers at him, crossing her arms over her chest. "What so we can be friends? I'll NEVER be friends with your humans. They are the ENEMY of everyone's hopes and dreams!" She starts to turn away again to go back into the house. "So why don't the two of you just give up and go home."

Papyrus huffs a loud, overdramatic sigh. "DANG... WHAT A SHAME, FRISK. I THOUGHT UNDYNE COULD BE FRIENDS WITH YOU. BUT I GUESS... I OVERESTIMATED HER. SHE'S JUST NOT UP TO THE CHALLENGE."

Freezing in place, Undyne slowly turns to look over her shoulder. "CHALLENGE?! What?!" She turns all the way to face the human and monster outside her door, gritting her teeth. "Papyrus, you think I can't be friends with THEM?" Her head falls back with a humorless laugh. "What a joke! Fine, I ACCEPT. And when I'm done with you squirt..." Crouching down, Frisk doesn't even flinch as she presses close, fixing them with a piercing stare. "We're not just going to be friends. We're going to be BESTIES."

There's a feeling of disgust from the back of Frisk's mind, and they have to resist the urge to laugh.


An odd feeling creeps into the back of your mind, like something is wrong. You mull over it for a moment, unsure of the cause, but eventually put it aside. You're with Sans, Frisk is with Papyrus... Everything is fine.

Sans is asleep. Given his track record of napping so far you aren't surprised in the least, especially considering your earlier activities. Now that you think bout it... that's probably the most physically active you've ever seen him. His head is pillowed on your shoulder, one arm thrown over your middle and his feet tangled with yours. As you watch him, he makes a small noise, frowns, and his arm twitches. His fingers curve around your hip and he tightens his grip on you, then slowly relaxes.

You're not tired, though you feel a bit hungry. It's around lunchtime, you suspect, but you can't bear the thought of moving. Closing your eyes, you think that maybe you'll try to get a bit of a nap, too.

Your stomach lets out a long, low, droning gurgle. Sans trembles, a soft, sleepy laugh warming your skin. "if you're hungry, babe, don't let me keep you. go get yourself a bite," he mumbles, nipping your collarbone for emphasis.

Huffing a quiet chuckle, you roll away as he releases you. "I guess it would be pointless to lie and say that doesn't sound good. Do you want me to make you anything?"

Sans makes a disinterested grunt you take as a 'no'.

You hear him shifting to get comfortable as you scour the floor for your clothes. You don't feel like walking around the house naked. That's just asking for someone to come home early and walk in on you. As you keep searching, you almost miss seeing your underwear draped over the top of the treadmill. How did it get there?

"Want me to turn off the light?" you ask, pulling your shirt over your head. Maybe you'll take a shower and change after you eat something.

"this is fine," he mumbles, burying his face into his pillow. "i'll get up soon."

"Don't worry about it."

Sans lets out a weak sound of protest, but you're pretty certain he's asleep. As you close his bedroom door behind you, you wonder if there's a reason he always needs a nap to get through the day.


After an awkward —and very hot— cup of tea, Frisk and Undyne watch each other from across a rather damaged table. Papyrus is making a racket in the kitchen, getting out pots and pans to start cooking at the fish-monster's instruction. As far as she was concerned, if he was going to be at her house, the least he could do was show her how his skills were coming along.

Undyne is much calmer than she was when Frisk and Papyrus arrived. Instead of being angry she just seems uncomfortable.

Eager to lighten the mood, and try to get on Undyne's good side, Frisk gives her a bright smile. "You play the piano?"

Undyne's eyes narrow. "Yeah, what about it squirt?" she says, like she's suspecting an insult. Catching herself, she forces herself to relax, giving Frisk an admirable attempt at a smile. "Do you like the piano?"

Frisk never shows any sign that they notice her initial reaction, instead nodding enthusiastically. "I always wanted to try and play an instrument, but we could never afford it. I heard you play earlier, it was really pretty!"

Expression softening, Undyne's smile eases into something a lot more genuine. "Yeah? Thanks, kid." Her grin widens and she jumps to her feet. "Hey, you want me to show you some things? Papyrus and I really bonded when I was teaching him stuff. THAT'S the best way to make friends! And as you learn more and more about the piano..." Undyne circles the table, seizing Frisk by the shoulders and pulling them out of their chair. "WE'LL ONLY BECOME CLOSER THAN YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE!"

Undyne throws her head back with a laugh, carrying Frisk over to the piano and shoving them down on the bench. "Afraid?! We're going to be best friends!"

"THAT'S THE SPIRIT, UNDYNE!" Papyrus calls excitedly from the kitchen.

Despite her loud, boisterous enthusiasm, Undyne is surprisingly patient with Frisk as she goes through a few scales. When Frisk is able to pick out a short tune, she gives a whooping cheer, clapping them on the back. Even though the wind just got knocked out of them, Frisk laughs, giving Undyne a blinding smile that the monster can't help but return.

"Not bad, squirt. You may be a pathetic weenie, but at least you've got something going for you," she says, laughing. Her expression softens. "Hey. I'm not exactly good at this kind of stuff, so just... whatever. Look, I just want to say that I guess I'm sorry for trying to kill you. And your mom."

Frisk nods, giving Undyne a quick look and picking at the piano keys again. Not quite sure what tune they're trying to replicate, Frisk feels strangely nostalgic and part of them thinks they should be hearing the sound of rain. "It's okay. I forgive you."

"That simple huh?" Undyne makes a disbelieving 'tch' sound between her teeth.

"Yeah. You just wanted to help everyone."

"I guess so. I don't think your mom is going to be quite so forgiving."

Frisk shrugs. "Probably not."

"Not that I blame her." Undyne pauses, then nudges Frisk with her shoulder. "Don't tell her I said anything, but she was pretty badass yesterday. I'll give her some credit, I admire her fire."

Nodding, Frisk gives a pleased laugh. "Me too."

There's a loud hissing sound coming from the kitchen, and Undyne looks over at Papyrus. With an annoyed noise, she gets up from the piano and goes to see what the skeleton is doing.

"You're doing it all wrong!" Undyne shouts, trying to push Papyrus out of the way.

"I'M DOING IT THE WAY YOU SHOWED ME!"

"You have to stir harder!" Undyne grabs his shoulder. "Harder!" Papyrus is stirring so hard the sauce is sloshing out of the pan. "HARDER!"

Frisk is starting to get a bad feeling about this.

"Let me do it!"

"BUT UNDYNE!"

"Argh, no wonder! The heat isn't high enough. It needs to be HOTTER!"

Frisk is definitely getting a bad feeling about this.

Chapter Text

Sans jerks awake, fingers digging into a balled up pillow he doesn't remember grabbing. His bones are humming with fear as his eyes fly open and he takes in his empty bedroom. He spots the bit of tape stuck to his wall, a remnant of the note he made sure to remove before you had the chance to see it. It would just confuse you. But even without the note still attached, it's a tangible reminder of where —when— he is. He slowly relaxes his grip on the pillow.

A sharp-toothed grin, wicked glowing spears, and flashing yellow eyes haunt the back of his mind. Fucking Undyne. Part of Sans is still furious with her, even though he knows that he should have expected what happened. Hell, there had been times that... Well, it's pointless to keep track of how many times Undyne and Frisk killed each other. But seeing her facing you down was terrifying. He can still remember the first thought that entered his mind when he caught sight of your cracked Soul, the rage he felt at the belief that Undyne had done that to you.

But Undyne is one of Papyrus's best friends. If anything happened to her, his brother would be heartbroken. Sans is glad that things were resolved the way they were, for everyone's sakes.

Sitting up in bed, he checks his phone. His hands are shaking slightly, and he feels jumpy, but he tries to ignore it. No messages from Papyrus, but he sees one from you sent ten minutes ago.

'Made you a sammich anyway. Left it in the kitchen. Taking a shower. <3'

The goofy little heart makes him smile. Then, he feels an uncomfortable lurch in his chest, making his grip tighten on the phone. He squeezes his eyes shut.

He's making a huge mistake. This is so damned hard, and God, if this ends up in a Reset... Why is he doing this to himself? To you? He's so happy, and so fucking scared, and he has to set the phone down before he cracks the screen with how tight he's squeezing it. It was so much easier to be numb to it all, to just go through the motions and not care so damn much. Over and over...

He wishes he hadn't survived the lab accident.

That intrusive thought makes his eyes fly open and he forces himself to his feet. No. He's not letting himself go there. Today is supposed to be a good day, and he's not going to let these fucking thoughts ruin it.

Fuck.

He shoves everything he's feeling down into what would be the pit of his stomach, if he had one. All the fear and worry, even his happiness gets caught in the middle and tamped down. If he lets any of those emotions through to the surface, he feels like they'll all come rushing out together.

Sans gets dressed, shoving his phone in his pocket.

You're still in the shower. He can hear the water running, and as he hesitates outside the door he can hear you humming an unfamiliar tune. Probably some song from the surface. He thinks about knocking on the door, but decides to leave you be.

He heads downstairs.

The house is quiet, even a little lonely without Papyrus's voice carrying down from his bedroom, or shouting at the television. Thinking of Papyrus, Sans walks over to his pet rock, takes the rock out of the box, and shakes the sprinkles into his hand. He puts the rock back. The sprinkles are tossed into the trash when he enters the kitchen. That way his brother thinks he's been doing something good by 'feeding' it.

He spots the plate you left him sitting on the kitchen table. Beside it is a bottle of ketchup. The sandwich is perfect, like a photograph. The fillings are layered carefully, placed exactly in the center of the bread. Just the right amount of lettuce poking out the sides, a glimpse of a corner of cheese. You took time with this. You cared about making this for him.

On top of the sandwich, in bright red ketchup, is the outline of a heart.

Sans can't stop it. His eyes swim and he's sobbing into his hands, sinking down into the chair in front of the plate you set for him. It hurts. Everything hurts. Everything he shoved down is rushing back up, overwhelming every thought and every sense.

He's so happy.

He's so scared.

He doesn't want to lose this moment to a Reset. He doesn't want to lose you.

He thinks he's falling in love with you, and it might just break him apart.


Freshly showered and dressed in some new clothes (thankfully Snowdin's rabbits are fairly human-shaped) you emerge from the bathroom with a puff of steam. You feel clean, refreshed, and if you're being honest with yourself, pretty damn great. There's a certain satisfying soreness to your thighs, and you haven't been able to stop smiling.

You wonder if Sans is awake, but if he's still napping you don't want to bother him. If he's up he's probably in the kitchen, if he saw your text from earlier. Patting at the wet knot of hair tied at the back of your head to make sure it's still in place, you head downstairs.

When you hear Sans, you take a second look at the dark television to make sure it's not on, because the last thing you expect to hear is crying. A few quick steps takes you to the kitchen. Freezing in the entryway, you see him sitting at the kitchen table with his face in his hands. Your heart squeezes painfully in your chest.

"Sans?" you murmur, taking a tentative step into the room.

He jumps at the sound of your voice, head jerking up to look at you. His face is tear-stained and the pinpricks in his eyes are dim, sockets wide in surprise. Pushing himself to his feet, hands gripping the table for support, he shakes his head, cursing under his breath. He rubs at his face with blue sleeves. You can see he's trembling.

You cross the room with long strides, ignoring the hand he raises to try and ward you off. "Sans, what's wrong?" you ask, fear making your voice pitch high. You take hold of the open flap of his jacket. "Is it Papyrus and Frisk? Did something happen?"

Sans looks up at you, confused. "w-what? no, i haven't heard anything..." He starts fumbling with his pockets.

"Then what's wrong? Are you okay?" You ease your grip on him, unsure of what to do. Reaching out, you run a hand along his side.

He pulls out his phone with one hand, rubbing at his face again with the other. He turns away from you, just enough to angle his shoulder towards you. You let your hands fall back to your sides.

"shit, i didn't... papyrus sent me a message a few minutes ago, they're almost back." Sans shoves the phone back in his pocket, patting his face with his sleeves. "fuck."

"Sans. What's wrong?" you ask him, worry making your stomach do somersaults in your belly. "Talk to me."

"i can't do this right now." he's shaking his head, trying to push past you out of the kitchen.

You grab his sleeve, and you can hear the blood rushing past your ears. "Did I do something wrong?"

Sans stops, looking up at you with an unfathomable expression. "no, babe. you didn't do anything..." He blinks, letting out a slow, shaky breath. "i'm just scared."

"I don't understand. About yesterday?" You want to hug him, but Sans is rigid and closed off from you.

He lets out a humorless laugh. "it's so much more than that. i just..." Sans grimaces. "please, i can't do this right now. i need to get my shit together before pap gets home."

"What? Sans, your brother cares about you, I care about you. Talk to us." You reach out to try and embrace him but he shrugs away, shaking his head.

"you weren't supposed to see me like this," he says, giving you a pleading look. "please, babe, i can't do this right now. and you can't tell papyrus. just..." His eye sockets start to water, and he lets out a frustrated sound. "i don't want him to worry about me. i don't want you to worry either, but i guess it's too late for that, huh?"

"Yeah," you say, feeling your own vision start to blur. You take a deep breath and swallow back your tears. "Please talk to me. Later?"

He nods after a moment of hesitation, glancing away. When he looks back at you, he has his trademark grin fixed on his face, and if you didn't know any better you'd think nothing was wrong. The knowledge that he's so skilled at hiding behind those smiles fills you with sadness.

You jump when you hear the scrape of keys in the front door, and it takes you a second to realize that Sans has vanished from your side and is back at the table, eating his sandwich. For a moment you panic, trying to think of something to do so you're not just standing in the middle of the kitchen, but the door is already opening.

"Mom, we're home!" Frisk cries out, catching sight if you in the kitchen and running straight for you.

You don't get a good look at them before they've wrapped their arms around your middle, and you take a step backwards to keep yourself from getting knocked over. Their blind excitement gives you a second to catch yourself and rearrange your face into a smile. "Hey, sweetie! Did you have a good time? What did you..." You look down at them, catching a strange scent. "Why do you smell like smoke? Papyrus where did you—"

You look up towards the door in time to see Papyrus come inside, followed by a very familiar —and very unexpected— face. Your grip on your child tightens as your gaze meets Undyne's, a backpack slung over one of her shoulders. She looks a little annoyed, then breaks eye contact to stare at something in the living room.

"GUESS WHO'S GOING TO BE STAYING WITH US, BECAUSE HER HOUSE ACCIDENTALLY BURNT DOWN?!"

Chapter Text

Two questions immediately form in your mind. You waste no time in voicing both of them. "What do you mean her house burnt down and what is she doing here?"

Sans is at your side before you notice him there, hands clenched into fists at his sides. "bro, what were you thinking, taking frisk to undyne's?" he asks, surprisingly stern. You're reassured by his presence. "do you realize how bad that could have gone?"

Frisk tries to protest as you pry their arms off of you and move yourself bodily between them and Undyne. You and Sans close the gap between you, forming a protective barrier. The fish-monster frowns, still staring elsewhere. Papyrus wrings his gloved hands, looking between the two of you as nervous sweat springs up on the side of his skull.

"Mom—"

"Papyrus!" you snap, in what you think might be your 'mom voice'. It makes Undyne finally look at you, her eye narrowing. 

"bro, c'mon," Sans says, sighing.

"AH, YOU SEE... I TOOK FRISK TO GO SEE UNDYNE, BECAUSE SHE'S MY FRIEND! AND I KNEW THAT IF ONLY THEY HAD THE CHANCE, THEY COULD BE GOOD FRIENDS, TOO." He starts to wither under your furious stare. "BUT I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WAS RIGHT! THEY WERE HAVING A VERY PLEASANT TIME, AT LEAST UNTIL THE KITCHEN CAUGHT FIRE. AND THEN THE REST OF THE HOUSE. AND IT WAS PARTIALLY MY FAULT, SO I TOLD UNDYNE SHE SHOULD COME STAY HERE WITH US!"

"Papyrus I told you this was a bad idea," Undyne says, going to his side and patting his arm. She's still glaring at you. Instead of feeling guilty for upsetting Papyrus, you're more pissed off that she's acting like she's comforting him because of you. "I'm sure I can talk Alphys into letting me stay with her."

"Good," you mutter under your breath.

"maybe that's for the best," Sans adds.

"BUT UNDYNE, YOU HATE HOTLAND!"

"Well, I'm clearly not wanted here," Undyne says.

"Moooom!" Frisk protests, the 'o' sound rising and falling in a long, drawn-out whine. You grit your teeth. "You shouldn't be so mad at Undyne."

"I have every right to be mad with her! She tried to kill us! Yesterday!"

"But she said she was sorry. She apologized to me and everything," Frisk says, tugging on the back of your blouse.

"HUMAN, WHILE I UNDERSTAND YOUR CONCERN, I MUST PROTEST." Papyrus is looking oddly serious, reminding you of his behavior that morning. "UNDYNE IS MY FRIEND, AND SHE IS IN NEED OF MY ASSISTANCE. IF YOUR PLACES WERE REVERSED, I WOULD DO THE SAME FOR YOU. AND, WELL, THIS IS MY HOUSE AND IT IS WITHIN MY RIGHT TO OFFER IT TO UNDYNE, JUST LIKE I OFFERED IT TO YOU WHEN YOU NEEDED OUR HELP."

You aren't sure what to say to that. He's not wrong, but the thought of Undyne staying in the same house as you and Frisk just sends your blood pressure skyrocketing. You're fumbling for some other argument, aside from 'she tried to kill us' since you've already used that. As you search for the words that don't come, you feel another hand on your back. Glancing over, you see Sans looking up at you, a question in his eyes. You feel his support slowly slipping away.

"bro's got a point," he says, shrugging. "trust me, i know how you feel. but i've got a feeling that if you talk to her, you guys might come to some kind of understanding."

Betrayal bites deep, looking down at Sans. Him too? "How can you be okay with this?" you hiss, feeling more angry than rational. "Especially after earlier." You look pointedly at the table, and you see Sans flinch.

"if she still wanted to kill you, she wouldn't be wasting time on being nice to frisk. undyne is many things, but she's not subtle," he says, trying to make you understand. But you don't want to understand. The kind way he's speaking just pisses you off. Why doesn't anyone else but Undyne see what a terrible idea this is?

The sudden sound of Undyne's roaring laughter catches you off guard. She rolls her shoulders, grinning at you. "Well, Sans isn't wrong!" she says, laughing a bit more. "Trust me, if I still wanted to kill you, you'd know it! But I meant what I said when I gave up on fighting you yesterday, and I'm not going back on my word to Papyrus." She flings her arm across Papyrus's shoulders, pulling him off-balance and digging her knuckles into his skull.

"AHH, UNDYNE! PLEASE DO NOT NOOGIE ME!" he cries, struggling but hopelessly caught in Undyne's grip.

"Look," she says to you, releasing the skeleton. He takes a step away from her with a nervous look. "I get it. If you don't like me, I understand. But I won't do anything to upset this doofus," she jerks a thumb at Papyrus, "and that means being friendly with you two weenies."

Frisk giggles from behind you. Undyne smiles at the sound, and you feel a little bit of your fire start to sputter out.

"So if you don't want me to stay, I respect that. Just say the word. But do you really want to disappoint Papyrus?" She gives you an accusing look, challenging you.

Papyrus has a pleading look on his face. Frisk is making a high-pitched whine. Sans sighs and shrugs his shoulders. Undyne just waits.

You're honestly feeling a bit attacked right now. With a frustrated sigh you feel the last remnants of your resolve fracture into tiny bits and scatter to the wind. "Fine. I know when I'm beaten," you blurt out, shaking your head and scowling. 

You look at Sans and he gives you a small smile of thanks. With your anger and shock diminished, your thoughts turn to just minutes earlier, and you're glad that you didn't make things worse for Sans.

"OH EXCELLENT, I'M SO HAPPY!" Papyrus exclaims, and Frisk lets out a high-pitched cheer. "IT'LL BE JUST LIKE A SLEEPOVER!"

Undyne flexes her arm, grinning and punching Papyrus in the shoulder. The skeleton's grin turns to a wince.

"hey bro, so where is undyne gonna sleep?" Sans asks.

"WELL, FRISK AND I AGREED THAT THEY WOULD STAY WITH ME! MY BED IS MORE THAN BIG ENOUGH FOR THE TWO OF US. AND I DON'T SEE WHY YOUR GIRLFRIEND CAN'T STAY IN YOUR ROOM." Papyrus gives his brother a sly look, and you hear Sans splutter next to you.

"h-hey, now, i dunno if that's a good idea... you can't just make those kinds of assumptions for her," Sans says, his voice sounding a little higher than normal. You look over at him and he's blushing blue. He ducks part of his face into the fluff of his hoodie.

"WAIT hold on a second!" Undyne's eyebrows shooting up. "Sans. This human is your girlfriend?"

"OH YES! THEY HAD ALL THIS TIME ALONE TOGETHER. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT SORT OF SALACIOUS ACTIVITIES THEY WERE GETTING UP TO. NYEH HEH HEH!" You're starting to feel your own face start to turn beet red as Papyrus gives a knowing wink (again, saying 'wink' in a high voice as he does it).

"Mom, what does 'salacious' mean?" Frisk asks, with the kind of innocence only a child can muster.

You feel your sins crawling on your back.

"hey kiddo, why don't you go change into some clean clothes, huh?" Sans blurts out, giving an awkward laugh. He gives Frisk a nudge. "maybe go take a shower before dinner? get that smoke smell off of you?"

Frisk makes an annoyed sound. "Mom do I have to?"

Papyrus looks confused. Undyne's lips are twitching, and it looks like she's trying not to laugh.

"Yes sweetie." You turn to put your hand between their shoulders, pushing them towards the stairs. "Go on."

Frisk takes a few steps, then casts a suspicious look at you over their shoulder. "You just want to talk about something without me listening."

"Yes. Now go."

Frisk stomps up the steps, letting out a loud groan of annoyance but doing as they're told.

Sans clears his throat, glancing up at you and then away. "you don't have to stay with—"

"I want to," you blurt out, interrupting him. Your face feels even hotter than before. "If that's okay with you."

Sans's eyes widen slightly as he looks up at you, blue spreading across more of his face. He gives a little nod, shrugging his shoulders to hide his face in his jacket for a moment. "yeah, of course," he mumbles.

"OH MY GOD! You two are such DORKS!" Undyne roars, howling with laughter.

You're seriously starting to rethink your decision.


With the house nearly full to the brim with people, it's hard to find a moment alone with Sans. It doesn't help that he seems to be avoiding any space that isn't occupied by at least one other person, probably for the sole purpose of making sure you can't question him. Even worse, he's going out of his way to crack even more jokes than usual, going so far as to drive Papyrus into a fit of shrieking.

It takes a few minutes for him to calm down again, after much coaxing from Undyne. You never would have thought that she was capable of being so kind with Papyrus, though your knowledge of the fish-monster is rather limited. You imagine she must have to do this often, judging from the practiced way she puts herself between the brothers and casts Sans an annoyed glare. Sans just gives her a big, wide grin, chuckling as he slouches on the couch next to you.

You don't like this. You can't get the image of him with his face in his hands, sobbing, out of your head. He's not okay. But he keeps acting like he's just fine. How long has he been doing this? Long enough to be a master of it, at least. You hope he trusts you enough to tell you what's wrong.

Sans looks at you, raising an eyebrow as he slips his fingers between yours. You let him, but feel your frown deepen. With Undyne and Papyrus distracted, he leans closer to you. "stop looking at me like that. i'm fine," he murmurs.

"You're not fine," you hiss.

"babe, let's not do this right now," he says, giving you a frustrated look.

"Fine," you say, voice flat. You take back your hand and stand from the couch, ignoring the startled look on Sans's face. "I'm going to go start cooking dinner," you say, loud enough for everyone to hear you.

You don't bother waiting for a response before leaving the room.

You're being unreasonable, you know, but you're having trouble caring. You're frustrated, worried, and trying to adjust to the fact that the woman who just tried to kill you yesterday is now one of your new temporary housemates. What had happened to your life?

Pulling ingredients out from the fridge (you actually use it to store things other than numerous containers of spaghetti now) you nearly squash a tomato on accident as you move it out of your way. Grimacing to yourself, you remind yourself to be more gentle with the rest of the produce.

Normally Sans would be keeping you company in the kitchen, or Frisk. But everyone else is out in the living room, and you're in here alone. Their voices carry through the small house, but suddenly you're struck with a familiar sense of loneliness. But you have no one to blame but yourself. You came in here, you're the one that snapped at Sans just for doing his best at his way of coping with whatever's wrong... 

You let out a frustrated sigh and get to work on dinner, letting your mind empty as you focus on the task at hand. This is better. You pour a dollop of oil into a frying pan and turn on the heat as you slice up some strips of chicken (you're fairly certain it's chicken).

"So, what's cooking?"

You jump, startled by Undyne's sudden presence in the kitchen. Her voice is loud (not quite as loud as Papyrus's) and forceful, much like herself. Sans is right; Undyne is not subtle.

The fish-monster comes up beside you, squinting down into the pan as you start frying up thin strips of chicken. She's never been this close to you before, and you realize that she's of a height with Papyrus, if not almost taller than him. Your eyes are right at the level of her collarbone. Now you know how Sans must feel when he's talking to you.

"Chicken," you say, lamely. It takes you a moment to gather your wits, feeling yourself a bit on edge with the monster towering over you. "Chicken and rice, with broccoli," you clarify.

"Hmm," she says, sounding unimpressed.

Yes, well, it may not be a fancy dish, but it's one of the few things that you had on hand that would feed an extra unexpected mouth. You resist the urge to tell her that. You also make a mental note to go shopping (again).

With all the sliced chicken sizzling in the frying pan, you turn your attention to a large head of broccoli. As you fetch yourself a knife to start chopping, you catch sight of Undyne fiddling with the stove.

"What do you think you're doing?" you demand, pushing her hand out of the way and turning the heat back down. "You're going to burn it."

"You're doing this all wrong! It needs to be hotter!" she insists, reaching for the stove again.

Without thinking, you smack her hand. "What did I just say?"

Undyne gives you an incredulous look, like she can't believe you just touched her. Honestly, you can't believe you just touched her. Shit.

"Look, I know what I'm about here," you say, pushing forward with sheer determination in lieu of sense. "I've been cooking for my family since I was Frisk's age. I've got this."

"Fine, whatever," Undyne says, giving you a scrutinizing look and raising her hands in a mock surrender. She doesn't take her eye off you as she moves away to lean against the back of a chair. "How old is Frisk, anyway?"

"Six," you say, turning back to the cutting board and the waiting broccoli.

"And you're their mom right? How old are you? You don't seem that old." You can feel her bright yellow eye poring into the back of your head.

"Twenty," you answer, grudgingly.

You hear Undyne exhale sharply. For a moment you're not sure if she's going to say anything. "Frisk is a good kid. Better than me at that age, I was a bit of a punk," she says, and you can hear her shift her legs, judging by the scrape of denim. "Picking fights with anyone that looked at me funny. Even went so far as to challenge King Asgore to try and prove I was the strongest. Emphasis on TRIED. I couldn't land a single blow on him! And worse, the whole time, he refused to fight back!"

You glance over your shoulder to look at Undyne. She's got a reminiscent grin on her face, and the way she's just standing there in the kitchen with you, keeping you company... You can almost think there's a chance you might be friendly. This must be the side of Undyne that Papyrus became friends with. The side that Frisk saw when they went to her house. 

"I was so humiliated," Undyne continues, shrugging her shoulders. "Afterwards he apologized and said something goofy... 'Excuse me, do you want to know how to beat me?' I said yes, and from then on, he trained me."

"The King? He trained you?" you ask, surprised.

"Yeah. He's tough, but he's got a big heart," she says, and you can hear the friendly affection in her voice. "So, one day, during practice, I finally knocked him down. I felt... bad. But he was beaming! I had never seen someone so proud to get their butt kicked. Anyway, long story short, he kept training me. And now I'm the head of the Royal Guard!"

You look back at her again, and she's got a faraway look in her eye. After a second, she catches you looking. "Sorry, the point I was trying to make is that you kinda remind me of him."

"Of Asgore...?" You're not really sure how you feel about that. You don't know much about him, to be honest.

"Yeah," she says, snickering. "You're both total WEENIES."

You level an annoyed look in her direction. "At least I don't go around trying to kill little kids and setting my house on fire."

Undyne just laughs. "Look, I said it to Frisk, so I'll say it to you: Sorry for trying to kill you yesterday."

"I accept your apology," you say carefully, looking back down at the cutting board. "But I hope you understand if I can't just forgive you as easily as they can."

"I think I'd be disappointed if you did," she says.

You can't help it, but for some reason that makes you just a tiny bit proud. 

Chapter Text

You know that if you want to, you can rejoin everyone in the living room. Dinner is simmering, and will be for another twenty minutes, but you're just not ready. Sans will just be avoiding the one thing you want to talk to him about, and you're feeling conflicted about Undyne. Now that she's not chucking spears in your direction, you sort of understand how Papyrus is friends with her... But you don't like this.

A loud squeal of laughter you instantly recognize as Frisk's reminds you why you agreed to this at all. Did you really have a choice? Everyone you care about was telling you to reconsider, so didn't you owe it to them to listen? Your only real option would have been to leave, and that thought terrifies you. Where would you go? This home has been the first place you've felt safe in... far too long.

And Frisk likes Undyne. Not that you set your life choices by the whims of a six-year-old, but Frisk has been so happy here with these people... How can you be the one to put that at risk?

It doesn't take much for you to start second-guessing yourself. ("Just listen to me! You may think you know what's best, but you don't. Look at where your choices have gotten you so far, clearly you need someone to make sure you don't mess it all up even more.")

You bite your lip, digging your nails into the meat of your palms. You're not sure what to think anymore.

"if you glare any harder at the stove, it's gonna catch fire. and then between the lot of us we'll be down two houses in one day."

Gasping, you nearly jump out of your skin when Sans seems to appear out of nowhere on the counter nearby. Heart hammering in your chest and panic singing under your skin, you clutch a hand over your sternum and grab the edge of the stove to keep yourself steady.

"God damn it," you snap, a sudden rush of shame making tears spring to the corners of your eyes. "Don't do that," you choke out, squeezing your eyes shut.

"babe, shit, i'm sorry," Sans says, and you can feel him standing in front of you, taking your hands in his. He slowly rubs your knuckles to try and get you to relax your fingers. "i thought we were getting better with that. i'm just screwing up a lot today, huh?"

You give him a weak glare, blinking back tears and drawing in a shaky breath. "Was that a joke? 'Screwing'? Really?"

Sans stares blankly up at you for a second before making a face. "oh, no! that was an accident," he blurts out, anxious.

You can't help the weak laugh that escapes you, and Sans gives you an equally pathetic smile in return. It takes a moment, but you're starting to feel okay again.

"better?" he asks, still rubbing your hands.

You nod. "Did you want something? I know you're not here to talk about earlier," you say, sounding more bitter than you intend. He lets go of your fingers as you pull them back.

"i wanted to thank you for not saying anything to papyrus, and for agreeing to let undyne stay. i know that wasn't easy, and i really don't know what my bro was thinking... actually, i do know, but still," Sans shrugs, looking a little uncomfortable. "he can be a bit of a bonehead."

You give a humorless chuckle. "It's not like I had a choice, Sans."

"what? of course you did," he says, brow bones raising.

You shake your head. You really don't want to argue about this. It's not like you can waltz into the living room announce that you've changed your mind, and tell Undyne to leave.

"hey," he says gently, and after a moment of hesitation you let him wrap you up in a hug. You pillow your head against your arm, resting on his bony shoulder. This feels good, but you feel guilty for letting him comfort you when you should be the one comforting him. "if you're really not okay with this, i can talk to undyne. she has other friends she can stay with."

"No," you blurt out in an anxious rush, tensing. At this point it just feels like that would make everything worse. You just want everything to be okay again. "I'll deal with it. She's... not as bad as I thought. Not entirely."

"pap and i won't let anything happen."

"I know."

"and i know it doesn't make it better, but what she did wasn't personal."

"I know."

"...i'm sorry."

You hesitate, pulling back  enough so that you can see his face. He looks distant, withdrawn. "For what?"

"today was supposed to be a good day," he says.

You hug him again, tighter this time. "Talk to me," you whisper, and you feel him tense against you. "I'm worried about you."

"later. i promise. now isn't the time," he says, and there's a note of desperation to his voice. "and i hate making promises, so i hope you appreciate that."

"I'll hold you to it," you tell him, with an extra squeeze for emphasis.

"right now i think you're just holding me to yourself."

You give a quiet laugh, and he brushes a toothy kiss against your cheek.

"c'mon, get out of the kitchen and join the rest of us. enough skullking in here all alone," he says, pinching your side and making you give an undignified squeak.

Your squeak dissolves into a mess of giggles despite yourself, thanks to Sans's well-placed joke. You catch sight of him grinning at you as you pull away, covering your face. How does he do this? He's not faking this smile, you can feel the happiness in him. How can he be so happy? What is he afraid of? You just have to trust him to keep his promise.


It's Sans's idea to start playing card games. At first you're so caught up in teaching Frisk how to play gin rummy that you don't see it for what it is. He's stalling. Everyone has already had dinner, sat around watching television, and now it's getting late and he's trying to buy himself more time.

But the cards are already dealt so you might as well play a few rounds. Besides, Frisk seems excited to play.

The table isn't big enough for all of you, so you're sitting in a ring on the floor in the living room, between Frisk and Sans. Papyrus is on Frisk's other side, and Undyne is between the brothers... almost directly across from you.

Frisk leans over close to you, tilting their cards so you can see them. "Mom, are these good?" they ask.

"Hey!" Undyne yells, making you both jump. She leans forward into the center of your human-and-monster circle. "No cheating, squirt!"

"Is there a reason you're shouting at Frisk?" you snap back, eyes narrowing. 

"take it easy on the kiddo," Sans says. "they're not quite the card shark that you are, undyne."

A groan travels around the circle, and Sans just grins and shrugs his shoulders. But it has the effect you're sure he was hoping to achieve; the mood lightens and you start playing the game. Between hands he makes a point to touch you. A nudge with his shoulder or a light touch on your leg when he talks to you. Whenever he tells a joke he glances over at you to gage your reaction. Every time he does it you give him the same 'I know what you're up to' look.

Eventually, about an hour later, he finally starts to get the point. It helps that Papyrus has started yawning, Frisk is about to nod off with their cheek smooshed against your arm, and Undyne has a sort of faraway look in her eye. You're finding it hard to fight back your own yawns, too.

"Okay sweetie, it's time for bed," you say to Frisk, who looks up at you with bleary eyes.

Frisk wraps their arms around you, letting you press a series of kisses along their cheeks and forehead without too much complaint. "Night. Love you," they mumble.

"Love you too. You gonna be okay sleeping in Papyrus's room?" you ask.

"Yeah."

Everyone around you is slowly climbing to their feet. Undyne gives a particularly loud groan as she stretches her arms over her head and flexes her legs.

"If you need me, don't hesitate to come knock on Sans's door. I'm right down the hall," you tell them, fussing over them as they try to pull away.

"Mom, I'll be okay," they say, sounding insulted.

"I'm just making sure."

"I slept in my own room by myself for six years. I'll be fine." Frisk uses your shoulder to push themself to their feet, rolling their eyes.

That's not true, you want to say, but you're afraid of sounding too smothering. Frisk is already rolling their eyes at you, acting too 'grown up' for your affection. They don't want to hear about how they slept in a bassinet at the side of your bed for the first four months of their life, getting up with them in the middle of the night when they cried. Your mother was more than happy to take care of all the responsibilities that didn't involve interrupted sleep. You were the one that fed them at two in the morning, before they started sleeping through the night. You rocked them back to sleep, and held your breath when you set them down, afraid of waking them. When they got colicky, you were the one who slept in the rocking chair with them on your chest, because it was the only way they'd sleep.

You remember your baby, as you watch your child walk up the steps with Papyrus to go to bed.

Sans touches your shoulder, and you take his hand as he helps you to your feet.

"c'mon, let's go talk."

Chapter Text

You change into your borrowed pajamas in silence, glancing over at Sans as he strips off his jacket and drapes it over the treadmill. He kicks off his slippers and yanks off his socks, throwing them into a growing pile in the corner. Giving your clothes a lazy fold, you set them on top of his dresser, unsure of where to put them since there isn't a hamper in sight. You can worry about that tomorrow.

Your stomach is fluttering nervously, unsure of what to expect from this conversation. He assured you that you didn't do anything wrong, and despite everything he'd been attentive and affectionate this evening. So you're pretty sure that whatever's going on shouldn't jeopardize your relationship. But... you're worried. What could have happened to turn the happy Sans you shared the morning with into the skeleton you found crying in the kitchen?

Sans climbs onto his bed, going to sit with his back to the wall. He props his hands on his knees, like he's bracing himself. With a small, hollow thunk against drywall, his skull falls back with a sigh. He takes hold of a crumpled pillow and props it up beside him, looking at you and gesturing at it. You accept his offer in silence, crawling across the mattress to join him with the pillow wedged behind your back.

His expression is unreadable, closed off from you behind a tight grin that seems more like a grimace. The little lights in his eyes are dim, searching your face like it might hold the answers to what he should say. He seems unsure of how to begin. Reaching out, you cover his hand with your own, threading your fingers between his. You give him a gentle squeeze, and he looks down at your joined hands. Something sad ghosts across his face. In lieu of muscles, it shifts the shape of his eye sockets, and a crease of bone forms between his brows.

"this wasn't supposed to happen," he says in a low murmur. "i wasn't expecting us."

Your heart twists in your chest. "What was supposed to happen?" you ask, swallowing past a knot in your throat.

"i thought the two of you would leave. keep moving forward. try to find a way out. i don't..." He looks up to your eyes, sandwiching your hand between his. "i don't know how to do this. i don't know how to be happy like this anymore."

"Sans," you whisper, leaning close to him.

"i can't trust this. it feels too good to be true. like i'm waiting for the punchline to some sick joke," he says, shaking his head and pressing his forehead against your shoulder. "the happier i let myself feel, the more it's gonna hurt when you're gone."

"I'm not going anywhere," you say, but he just shakes his head more, like he doesn't believe you. "I know how you feel, about it seeming too good to be true. I've felt it before. And it was too good to be true, then." It was so easy to be foolish at fourteen. But with Sans... this doesn't feel foolish.

"you can't understand how this feels. waiting for all this to end." Sans pulls back, looking up at you. His eye sockets are watering, and he looks down at your hands again. With slow deliberation, he picks up your hand, pressing it to the side of his face. "i don't want you to understand. i don't want you to know what it feels like to have all your hope stripped away."

Reaching out, you cup his skull with both hands, pressing soft kisses along his forehead. He lets you pull him close, his arms finding your waist. "What happened to you, Sans? What did this to you?" you ask him, your voice thick with tears gathering under your eyelids.

"i don't want to talk about it, please," he says, and you can feel warm, wet tears running over your hands. He's shaking. It makes your heart ache, and you feel your own tears slipping down your cheeks. "just... i've lost people. people close to me. i think things will be okay, and then it's just... gone. it's been a long time since i let myself care about anyone other than my brother."

"I'm sorry," you say, because what else can you say? You don't press for details he doesn't want to give. Releasing his skull, you move on the bed to settle yourself between his legs, kneeling as you pull him forward into a hug.

You feel him go a little limp against you, easing into your support and clinging to the back of your shirt. He said that Papyrus doesn't know about any of this, and if he doesn't have anyone else close to him... how long has it been since anyone has comforted him? The thought brings on a fresh wave of sadness, hugging him even tighter. How long would he have kept this from you, if you hadn't stumbled on him in the kitchen? Why does he feel like it's so necessary to suffer in silence?

Sans takes in a rough, shaky breath, a strangled noise escaping him as he tries to calm his voice. His fingers flex against your back, then relax slightly. He still hasn't let you go. You don't want him to, not until he's ready.

"I'm not going anywhere," you tell him again, rubbing soothing circles along his shoulder blades. "I'm right here."

"this scares the shit outta me, babe," he says, when he finds his voice. "i'm happy and i'm scared of losing you." His voice takes on a hard edge, and you feel his grip tense again. "it was so much easier before i let myself care."

"Maybe," you admit, pulling back and pushing him away so you can look down at him. He blinks, tears still slowly trailing down his face and the lights in his eyes are dim. "But isn't it worth the risk, to be happy? The worst possible outcome isn't the one you're always going to get."

"i wish i could believe that," he says, and he sounds so gutted and hopeless.

"Try," you tell him, leaning forward to press a hard kiss to his mouth. He doesn't respond. You trail your lips across his face, and somewhere in the back of your mind you realize his tears don't taste like anything. They're not salty. "You don't need to put on an act for me, but please... don't give up on me."

"it's not you i'm giving up on. it's the universe. it's everything." One of his hands brushes against your cheek, finding its way into your hair. "it's out of our hands."

"You don't have to stop worrying, but let yourself be happy, too. For your own sake. You can't know for sure what will happen, so don't keep looking for the future. Just be here right now. With me."

"i'm trying. i want to," he says, and the life is coming back into his voice. You press kisses to his jaw and he turns into them, sighing.

"I'm trying too. Let me support you, the way you support me. Please, let me give you back some of the happiness you've given me," you murmur. He's leaning back to rest against the wall again and you follow him, one arm resting against his sternum. "You don't have to stay strong all the time."

"i... i care about you, so much," he says, and you wonder at the reason for his hesitation. Something in your stomach flutters, but you try not to dwell on it. Now isn't the time. "i am happy with you. i don't want you to think i'm not. it just scares me."

"I know," you say. "I know happiness can be scary. But I'm here with you. You're not alone."

You're not alone either. Sometimes it's hard to remember that, but as Sans folds you up in his arms and pulls you snug against his chest, you feel it. He's spent so much time taking care of you, you're glad for whatever comfort you can give him right now. You don't completely understand why he's so scared, but there's no denying what he's feeling. You can't understand unless he tells you everything, but right in this moment it's not important. You just want Sans to be okay.

You feel Sans slowly relax, his breathing growing easier. He's not trembling anymore. He sounds sleepy when he mumbles into your hair. "thank you. for being here. for caring about me enough to not put up with my shit and making me talk."

"You're welcome," you say softly, trailing your fingers across his ribs. He makes a pleased little hum. "Do you feel at least a little better?"

He makes a weak, affirmative noise, nuzzling the top of your head. "it helps."

"You need to take care of yourself. And let us help, because you have people who really care about you."

Sans doesn't answer. You realize he's fallen asleep.

Chapter Text

Sans wakes up, and for the first time in a long time, doesn't remember what he dreamed about. He thinks that maybe it was something pleasant, or comforting. Light is slanting through his window when he opens his eyes, and he's surprised that it's already morning. He actually slept through the night, undisturbed by nightmares or insomnia.

You're laying beside him, still asleep. He can't help the smile that widens on his face as he takes in the sight of you, your expression peaceful. A hand is tucked up under your chin, fisted against the pillow. Hair is spilling over your shoulder, an unrestrained tangle of brown. Sans reaches out and pushes it away from your face, hesitating as he takes a moment to brush his fingers against the curve of your cheekbone. Your lips twitch a little, curving into a small smile and then relaxing again, a small pleased hum sounding deep in your throat.

He removes his hand, not wanting to wake you. You nuzzle into the pillow a little and continue sleeping.

This is better than any note he might leave himself to tell him that the timeline is still stable. Waking up with you beside him, a soft and wonderful reminder that the two of you are still together... he could get used to this. He feels grounded instead of disoriented. You're a tether that keeps him steady.

He just hopes it never snaps.

Frowning at himself, Sans lets out a small sigh of annoyance. No. He's not going to do that. He's going to do his best to listen to what you told him, to focus on the happiness in the moment. This moment of waking up and seeing you here with him is a good one, and he doesn't want fear to sour it. 

He's thankful that you didn't press him for more of the truth, for why he's so worried. He doesn't like lying to you, but... how can he tell you that he's certain your child has been somehow manipulating time? And that they don't even remember doing it? He's thought about confronting Frisk about it before —actually, he did once, and it didn't go well. All he can do now is hope that as long as the kid is happy, they won't do anything drastic.

Sans is certain that the truth won't do you any good. Either you won't believe him, or you'll want to know answers to questions he's afraid you'll ask. How does he tell a mother that he's killed their child before? How does he explain that he thinks that child was somehow... wrong. Not themselves. He still doesn't understand why Frisk is so different sometimes.

No. If everything ends up the way he hopes it does, with no Resets and everyone happy, then what's the point in telling you? He'd rather you just not have to deal with that truth. It isn't your burden to bear.

And then there's the reason for why he remembers the Resets in the first place... He doesn't want to think about it, let alone tell you.

But knowing that you'll be there for those moments where it all just overwhelms him, for the days that are harder than the others and it's difficult to keep on the mask. It's more of a comfort than he thinks you may realize. You aren't trying to fix the problem, like he thinks Papyrus would. If Papyrus knew that something was wrong, his brother would throw himself wholeheartedly into trying to make him happy again. And it just wouldn't work, not in the way he'd want. Papyrus has enough to deal with when it comes to Sans for him to want to add any more. He'd rather just admire his brother's upbeat and outrageously optimistic attitude. Seeing Papyrus happy —and even affectionately annoyed with him— is a comfort for Sans. It's a constant facet of the Resets he never gets tired of. He's been one of the few things keeping him from just giving up entirely.

Careful not to disturb you, Sans brushes a soft, toothy kiss to your forehead and scoots off the end of the bed. As he pulls on his blue jacket, he takes a moment to consider you as you lay there on his bed, sleeping.

The blanket is rucked up around your waist, leaving your top half exposed. Sans takes hold of it and pulls it up to your shoulder, smoothing it down along your side. His hand rests against the curve of your hip as he pauses, hesitant to leave you. "i'll be back soon. you keep sleeping," he murmurs to you, knowing that you can't hear him.

He closes the bedroom door as quiet as he can when he leaves the room. The lights are still off in the living room which surprises him. But Undyne never was much of an early riser. What time is it? He never even thought to check. But Papyrus is an early riser, so he's surprised that his brother hasn't woken the others up.

As Sans goes down the stairs, hands shoved in his pockets, he realizes that he doesn't even have to remind himself to put that grin on his face. He's already smiling.

Undyne is sprawled out on the couch, blanket half crumpled on the floor, clinging to one blue, scaly leg. Sans got used to the sight of Undyne sleeping in shorts and a tank top a long time ago, but the sudden realization that he wouldn't mind seeing you in comparably little clothing makes him a little uncomfortable. Undyne should not be inspiring any of those kinds of thoughts. It's just strange.

Distracted as he is, it takes him a moment to spot Frisk curled up on the couch with her. She's got one arm tucked around their shoulders, and the kid's back is wedged into her side. Sans is glad to see the two of them getting along at least, though he isn't sure how you might feel about it.

The faint sound of scraping coming from the kitchen catches his attention, and Sans continues through the room. Papyrus is standing at the stove, carefully stirring a pot of— that's not spaghetti. It takes Sans a moment to register what it is because he's so surprised. It looks like oatmeal. You make it so often for Frisk that he's familiar with the tan-colored goop.

Papyrus catches sight of him out of the corner of his eye, looking over at the entryway with a startled look on his face. "BROTHER, YOU'RE UP EARLY," he says, like he can't believe his eyes. Sans supposes that this is rather out of character for him. "IS THE HUMAN STILL SLEEPING?"

"yeah, bro. seems like we're the only ones up," Sans says, jerking he head back towards the couch. "what's up with frisk and undyne?"

Papyrus frowns down into the pot. "I TRIED TO GET FRISK UP WITH ME WHEN I WOKE, BUT THEY BARELY MADE IT TO THE COUCH BEFORE FALLING ASLEEP AGAIN. I WAS HOPING TO BE A BETTER INFLUENCE!"

"you're a great influence. maybe they're just not feeling very frisky this morning."

"UGH," Papyrus groans, throwing a glare at Sans. Sans just grins at him.

Skirting around his brother, Sans opens up a cabinet, rising to his toes to reach the container of instant coffee he's seen you use before. "you making breakfast for the kiddo?" he asks, frowning up at the mugs before pointing a glowing finger at the shelf and lowering one within reach with his magic.

"YES. AND SANS, THAT IS A WASTE OF ENERGY. YOU CAN JUST ASK ME TO GET THINGS FOR YOU, YOU KNOW THAT," Papyrus chides.

"you're busy. i don't wanna leave you short handed." Sans fills up the kettle and sets it on an open burner, giving his brother a companionable elbow in the ribs. He has to reach up awkwardly with his arm to do it, but it's the thought that counts. "i know it's not exactly a tall order, but..."

"I'M NOT ONE TO ENCOURAGE YOUR LAZINESS, BROTHER, BUT I THINK I WOULD PREFER YOU TO STILL BE SLEEPING THAN SUFFER THROUGH THESE HORRIBLE JOKES," Papyrus says in a deadpan voice that makes Sans laugh.

"i didn't know you were learning to make things other than spaghetti," Sans says, shuffling back around Papyrus to the silverware drawer. He fishes out a spoon.

"I HAVE BEEN OBSERVING THE COOKING YOUR HUMAN DOES, WHEN SHE LETS ME. THOUGH THE WAY SHE COOKS IS MUCH DIFFERENT FROM UNDYNE'S WAY OF DOING THINGS, I MUST ADMIT THAT THE RESULTS ARE A LOT LESS... FIERY." Papyrus gives a nervous little cough. "I'M HOPING THAT AN ENTICING BREAKFAST WILL ENCOURAGE FRISK TO WAKE UP."

"you and the kiddo have plans today?" Sans scoops a healthy serving of sugar into the mug, hoping that he has the amount right. He's seen you make this a couple times before, and doesn't want to get it wrong.

"YOU AND I HAVE WORK TO DO, AS YOU WELL KNOW, BROTHER!" he says, brandishing his stirring spoon at him accusingly. A small blob of oatmeal falls to the counter. "YOU CANNOT KEEP SLACKING OFF WITH UNDYNE HERE."

"i dunno what you're talking about, bro. i'm always working hard." Sans grins at his brother, leaning against the counter. "though i guess that's because there's nothing soft about me."

The low whistle of the kettle cuts off any outburst Papyrus might make. Sans fetches it from the stove and pours the boiling water into the mug, stirring. He's not sure what Undyne's plans for the day are, but he has a feeling you won't want to stay home with her. He thinks he'll invite you to spend the day with him at his station, if you're up for it.

"welp, i'll be back down in a few," Sans says, taking the hot mug in his hands and heading to the living room.

"DON'T FALL ASLEEP AGAIN."


You wake to the feeling of warm, smooth fingers stroking up and down your arm, Sans's low voice coaxing you out of sleep. When your eyes open to reveal an empty half of the bed, you roll over to your back and onto the skeleton's leg. He's sitting beside you, dressed and with a steaming mug in one hand. You catch the familiar scent of coffee.

Giving him a drowsy smile, you arch your back as you stretch, reaching out to rest your hand against his femur. "Morning," you mumble, making a pleased hum.

Sans pushes your hair out of your face, giving you an affectionate smile. The lights in his eyes are bright and wide as he looks at you. You feel a giddy warmth bubble in your chest, your cheeks starting to flush with pleasure. You've never had anything like this before. Never had the luxury of waking up with someone you... You catch yourself hesitating. Care seems like too weak of a word, but...

"morning sleepyhead," Sans says, holding up the mug for you to see. "brought you some coffee. i hope i made it right."

"You didn't have to do that," you say, pleasantly surprised at the gesture. You're really not used to this.

"well, if i had to, it would sort of take the intent out of it, now wouldn't it?" he says, teasing.

You sit up, letting the blanket pool around your waist. Taking the mug, you blow on the steaming coffee and sip gingerly. Sans watches you, trying to gage your reaction.

"it ok?" he asks, and you think you see a small furrow of worry between his eye sockets.

"It's exactly how I make it," you assure him, smiling. Which is to say, it still tastes pretty terrible, but it's as good as this instant coffee is going to get. "Thank you."

Pleased, his smile perks up again. "pap and i have to work today, and i'm not sure what undyne is gonna do, but if you want you and frisk can come with me. i offer all the hotdogs you can eat in exchange."

Laughing, you shake your head. "I think I can handle Undyne. She's... okay. Now that I've gotten a little more used to her. I never would have guessed she'd be so terrible at rummy."

There's something to be said about watching someone who tried to kill you get absolutely decimated at cards. It helped humanize —or monsterize you suppose— her a bit, in your eyes.

Sans looks a little surprised. "are you sure? i mean, i know that she'll behave herself, but you don't—"

You take hold of his hand, cutting him off. "It'll be fine. Besides, I have to do some more shopping anyway. I have an extra mouth to feed." You feel a little flutter in your chest, and you look down at your coffee, feeling a little shy. "Thank you for thinking about me, though. It's... I really appreciate it."

"it's the least i could do, babe. and isn't that how this whole thing works? taking care of each other?" You look back up at him, and his cheekbones have a faint blue shade to them. "at least, it seems to be the trend so far."

"Yeah. I suppose it is."


The brothers head their separate ways, Papyrus into Snowdin's forests and Sans towards Waterfall, leaving you and Frisk with Undyne. Sans reminds you that he and his brother are both just a phone call away if you need them, and you reassure him that you'll be fine. He flushes bright blue when you kiss him goodbye in front of Papyrus and Undyne.

You think you catch Undyne trying to hide a toothy grin when you turn around to face her. She doesn't ask you anything about Sans after he's gone, but whenever you mention him she has this glint in her eye.

Undyne insists on going shopping with you. She pays for everything and carries all the bags by herself, waving you away and acting insulted when you try to help. It seems like she's going out of her way to try and be nice to you, but she's so aggressive about it it just sort of makes you nervous.

After about two days of Undyne's forceful kindness, you finally work up the nerve to tell her to knock it off. At first she's taken aback by your bluntness, but then gives you a big grin and flexes her arm at you. She seems... impressed by your attitude. You think you might never understand the fish monster.

With that out of the way, things between you and Undyne are more comfortable. She still makes you a little nervous, especially when she gets worked up over something (she and Papyrus seem to get into shouting contests regularly, and angry shouting makes you anxious). But to your surprise, you start to soften towards Undyne. She's a bit rude sometimes, and energetic, but watching her with Frisk is endearing. You can't help it.

Papyrus is glad to see everyone getting along. He and Undyne spend regular time going to her house to work on getting it fixed back up. Papyrus tries to get Sans to help, but of course he doesn't. You're told that it'll still be a while until Undyne can move back into her own house, but you're starting to get used to her presence now. It's just another part of your new normal.

Things with Sans seem even better than they were before your talk. He has a lot of good days, and you start to get better at noticing the bad ones. There are a few times you wake up in the middle of the night and he's not there. You find him more than once down in the kitchen, reading through some books. He apologizes when you wander down to look for him, bleary from sleep and worried. He tells you he didn't want to disturb you while you were sleeping. He lets you drag him back to bed to sleep (sometimes not to sleep, too).

Before you realize it, a little over two weeks have passed, and you've been in the Underground for a month. Part of you wonders if your mother worries about you, but mostly you don't care.

Chapter Text

You feel fingers carding through your hair, pulling it away from your face as you wake up. The mattress is sunken in beside you, where you know Sans is laying as he slowly eases you awake with his touch. He's being especially gentle with you this morning. A swell of affection makes your chest feel full. There's a familiar ache in your thighs, but there's also a dull pain low in your belly. You frown.

"you okay?" Sans asks, prompting you to blink your eyes open to look at him.

You reach down to rub your stomach, a tight cramping pain prickling down your thighs. Sans is watching you, his expression neutral but leaning towards concerned. He trails his hand along your arm, studying your face.

"I just feel a little uncomfortable, I think it's—" as you roll over onto your back, you feel a cold, wet sensation on your backside. Oh no. No, how could you forget? You should have known the second you felt the cramps. Rolling out of bed before Sans can even react, you toss aside the blanket to confirm your fears. There's a dark red blotch on the sheets, about the size of your palm. Now that you're out from underneath the covers, you can feel the unpleasant moisture against your thighs.

Flush with embarrassment and shame, you just stare at it a moment, frozen in place as you scramble to think of what to say.

"is that... blood?" Sans asks, sitting up and looking at you, his eyes falling to your legs. You fell asleep in just your underwear, and you can only watch as his eyes widen. "babe are you bleeding?"

"I'm sorry! I completely forgot—" you blurt out, turning away to fetch some clean clothes from the dresser.

"are you hurt?" Sans asks, and he must have teleported because he's taking hold of your waist and turning you towards him, worry written in the lines of his face.

"I'm fine it's just—" Your face is burning, and part of you just wants to curl up in a corner and hide.

His hands run down the outsides of your thighs, and he looks like he's not sure what he should do. The guilt on his face makes you forget your mortification for a moment. "i knew i was too rough with you last night. i know you said you liked it, but—"

"Oh my God, Sans I'm not injured!" you say, interrupting him before your face can get any hotter. You go back to the dresser, fetching a clean pair of underwear, some shorts, and a shirt from your drawer. (It's very domestic, you having your own drawer in Sans's room. He cleared out the space for you and everything, even letting you borrow a few more things to sleep in. Sometimes it still feels surreal.)

"but you're bleeding, there must be something wrong." Sans is hovering now. You see him out of the corner of your eye, keeping close like you might topple over at any moment. If you weren't so ashamed and embarrassed by this whole fiasco, you might think it was sweet. "what can i do? how do i help?" 

"No. This is normal, I just forgot it was time," you say, knowing you probably aren't making any sense. "It's a human thing, and, shit there's nothing here I can use."

"what do you mean this is normal?" he demands, sounding horrified. There's a slight crackle of magic in the air around him, and as you watch you see a flicker of blue in his left eye.

Pulling the oversized shirt on over your head, you tug it down around your knees and make your way towards the door. You need to get to the bathroom before you can do anything else. "I mean exactly what I said."

He follows you out into the hall as you shuffle to the bathroom. As you slip inside, you look back at him, his expression a warzone of confusion and concern. Feeling taken aback, you hesitate before closing the door.

"i-is there anything i can do to help?" he asks in a quiet voice.

"Get Frisk for me, please," you tell him, resisting the urge to shudder as you feel more moisture between your thighs. "You'll need to take them to the store."

"ok, no problem," he says, rushing off to do as you ask.

Closing the door and dumping your bundle of clothes on the counter, you hike your shirt up and settle down onto the toilet. You ball up your sodden underwear and put it on the floor, careful to keep the wet part off of the tile. You'd rather not have to clean blood off the floor. Finally feeling like you're somewhere safe for the moment, you lean your head on your arm, resting against the counter beside you.

Oh my God. Could this be any worse? Not only did you stain the sheets —and probably the mattress— but Sans seems to think that you're going to bleed to death. You're going to have to explain it to him. That'll be a fun conversation. How did you forget that it was time for your period? You suppose that falling into the Underground has something to do with it, and you've always been a little irregular. Maybe it's a fleeting hope, but you think you remember seeing some products at Snowdin's shop. You wonder if the monsters even understand what they're for. Most likely not, considering the eclectic collection that the shop seems to supply.

There's a soft knock on the door. You jerk the large shirt down to cover your knees, tenting over your front. "Come in," you say.

Frisk pokes their head inside, still dressed in their pajamas but alert. You wave them in, and you catch sight of Sans in the hallway as the door opens and shuts. He's pacing outside. You'll really need to explain this to him.

"Mom, is something wrong? Sans said you needed me but he wouldn't say why. I don't think he wanted to say anything in front of Papyrus and Undyne," Frisk says, glancing down at the stretched shirt clenched tight in your fingers. You thank heaven for small mercies. "Is your tummy hurting?"

"No, sweetie. But I need you to go with Sans to the store. Do you remember that talk we had when you found my tampons a few months ago?" You hadn't exactly expected to have to give Frisk 'the Talk' at the age of six, but you wanted to make sure you told them the truth. And you really wanted them to stop messing with your tampons. They're not exactly cheap.

Frisk nods, but doesn't say anything, looking a little uncomfortable.

"Good. I need you to try and find me tampons or pads at the store. Sans won't know what to look for so I need you to do it, okay?" You pray to whoever might be listening that you're remembering correctly, or you're not sure what you'll do for the next four days.

Frisk nods again, looking away from you. "Okay."

"Thanks, Frisk," you say, feeling a little relieved. This whole morning —all ten minutes of it— has been a bit of a trainwreck so far. "Can you tell Sans to come here for a second?"

"Okay." Frisk hurries out the door, leaving it cracked open as they speak to Sans.

Before you can even say anything, Sans has his arms around your shoulders, hugging you tightly. Then, just as suddenly, he lets you go and backs away. His cheekbones are blue and sweat dots the side of his skull. "are you sure this is normal? this doesn't make any sense, i thought humans only bleed when they're wounded," Sans blurts out, clenching and unclenching his fists. "losing blood can't be good for you, right?"

"Sans, I promise you, I'm fine. This happens all the time," you tell him, and though you feel bad for scaring him, you can't help the awkwardness of this whole situation. You're sitting on the toilet. "But Frisk knows what I need, so just take them to the store okay?"

Sans seems to hesitate, like he wants to believe you, but worries you're going to pass out the second he looks away. You haven't seen him fuss over you like this since after the fight with Undyne.

"I promise. I'm fine," you repeat, holding his gaze firm with your own.

"...is there anything else you want? something you don't need but might help?" Sans fidgets with his hands, then shoves them into his pockets.

As if on cue, a dull ache twists in your belly. You shift slightly, wincing. "Chocolate? Or maybe, something salty? Chips or something?"

Sans blinks. "junk food will help?"

"Well it won't hurt."

"then i'll get you junk food."


You're in the shower, letting the hot water rush over you when Sans and Frisk get back. You peek around the curtain as the door opens, and your poor, clueless boyfriend has his hands full of bags. He puts one set of them down on the floor, glancing up at you and looking a little overwhelmed. Now that you've calmed down, you really do feel bad for how worried he was earlier.

"frisk wasn't sure which ones you wanted? so we, uh, just got everything that seemed like what you needed," he says. 

"Thank you," you say, with all the appreciation you can muster. "Really, Sans. You've been a big help. I'm so sorry for scaring you."

Sans shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders. "i'll take the rest of this downstairs."

"Sans... how much food did you buy?" you say, eyeing the other set of bags. From what you can tell, there's quite an assortment of bagged snacks and candy.

His face turns a faint shade of blue, and he looks down at what he's carrying. "i realized i don't actually know what you like. so, i got a little bit of a few things."

You're not sure that Sans can get any sweeter. If you weren't in the shower you'd hug him. "Thank you, hun," you say, the endearment just slipping out without you realizing it.

Sans's eyes dart up to yours, brow bones raised in surprise. After a second to process what you said, his expression relaxes into a smile. "hun?"

You give a nervous laugh, fidgeting with the curtain between your fingers. "Yeah, you know. Short for 'honey' cuz you're so sweet?" Biting your lip, you don't wait for Sans to respond because all of a sudden you feel silly and unsure. "If you don't like it, I can just—"

"no, i like it," he says, reassuring you. "really."

"Okay." You offer him a relieved smile. "Um, I'll just be a few more minutes. Aren't... aren't you supposed to be working today?"

Sans shrugs. "i told pap and undyne you weren't feeling good, and that i was gonna stay home with you. they left a little bit ago, think they're doing more work on her house. they hope you feel better, by the way," he adds.

Sans leaves you to finish your shower, looking a lot more relaxed than he was when he came in. You're struck, again, by just how much Sans cares about you. You wonder if you'll ever get used to it. Any number of other guys —including Frisk's biological father— would have been absolutely disgusted at what happened. Just the mere mention of your period sent male acquaintances into horrified protests, making you afraid to even mention it in mixed company. Or at all. But even though he didn't understand it, Sans's first concern was your well-being.

You're not used to anyone putting you first.

Feeling clean and refreshed, you stow away your ample supply of tampons and pads under the sink and take a quick detour to put your dirty underwear with the laundry. Frisk catches you before you can head downstairs, glancing down into the living room where Sans is sitting on the couch. They bite their lip. You can tell that Frisk wants to tell you something, but isn't sure that they should.

"What is it?" you ask, gently encouraging them. You know if you try too hard that they'll just clam up, but if you don't say anything, they won't talk.

Frisk fidgets with the long sleeves of their sweater —pulled on over their pajamas, you can tell. They look down at their hands, then back up at you. When they speak, it's in a quiet, cautious voice. "Sans seemed really worried. The last time he was like that was when you got hurt. Are you okay?"

"Oh, sweetie, I'm fine," you say pulling them close against your stomach. Frisk's arms go around your waist, and you ignore the dull cramp of pain as they burrow their face against you. "He just didn't understand what was happening. That's all. But he's not worried anymore, right?"

Frisk seems a little unsure, but doesn't disagree. You stroke their hair as they pull away from you.

"Hop in the shower, we have stuff to do today, remember?" You lean down to press a kiss to their temple, and it speaks to how concerned they were that they let you without a fuss.

As Frisk goes into Papyrus's room to fetch clean clothes, you head downstairs. Sans meets your eyes as you reach the living room, holding out a hand for you to come to him. You were going to head to the kitchen, but you can't resist the look he's giving you. Slipping your hand into his, he pulls you down onto the couch next to him. He doesn't let go of your hand and puts his other arm around your shoulders, hugging you close. You settle against him, tucking your head against his jaw. If your wet hair bothers him he doesn't say so.

"are you still in pain?" he asks, squeezing your hand.

"It's fine. Nothing I'm not used to," you say.

"you should stay home today."

You can't help but laugh. "Sans, if I stayed home whenever I was on my period, I'd never get anything done. It's just a little bit of cramping, I'll manage."

He makes a disapproving noise that you can feel more than hear. "and this is normal for you?"

"Yes. Here, let me explain..."

With a little bit of awkward fumbling on your part, and polite attention on his, you manage to give a basic explanation of human biology. When you finish, he's silent for a little while, but you can't see his expression to try and gage his reaction. He's just running his fingers up and down your arm.

"and you go through all that every month?" he asks, his mood difficult to decipher from his even tone.

"Yes. From about thirteen until my fifties or so. It kind of depends."

"i'm not sure what else to say, other than can i get you some of that chocolate?"

You burst into laughter, wrapping your free arm around Sans's ribcage and giving him a hug. You tilt your face up to press a row of kisses along his jaw. "You're wonderful, hun."

Chapter Text

After some convincing, Sans finally relents in trying to get you to stay home. You compromise with an hour of cuddling on the couch and an agreement to go to Grillby's for lunch so you don't have to worry about making anything. Honestly, the thought of some greasy burgers and fries sounds amazing right now.

The first order of business is taking Frisk to get set up at Snowdin's school. With no foreseeable end to your stay here, you need to take Frisk's education into consideration. You have no idea how a monster school compares to a human one, but it has to be better than nothing. You can also tell that Frisk has been lonely during the day. With the other children of Snowdin attending school, it left them with no one but adults. You'd rather see them spend time with kids (monster or not) their own age.

Sans tags along with you and Frisk, walking hand-in-hand with you on your way to the school. It's a small red building, like something you'd see in a picture book. Inside you discover an office right off the entrance, and two classrooms. With a quick peek through the classroom door windows,  it looks like the older children are grouped in one room and the younger are in the other. It's like the frontier schoolhouses you learned about when you were a kid. You guess Snowdin is small enough that they don't have the number of students to feasibly separate them into grade levels.

It turns out that the principal and administrator for the school already knows who you are. She's a squat, brilliant orange reptile of some kind, and as it turns out the mother of that armless monster kid —whose name just so happens to be Kid— that you saved from almost getting speared by Undyne. Offering you a warm smile, you shake her hand and take a seat across from her at her desk. She has an assortment of papers that she shifts through as you speak with her.

She hands you a few forms which you start filling out, glancing over at Frisk as they take in the monster's eclectic office. They seem particularly interested in a group photo dated last year; mostly kids, but with a few adults you assume are the school's staff. Sans is standing behind your chair, and you think you hear his bony fingers tapping on his phone.

"I've been meaning to thank you, for what you did to help Kid," she says, breaking the silence.

You look up from the papers, pen stilling between your fingers. She's giving you a kind smile, exposing a row of wide, dulled-point teeth. "You're welcome. It was more impulse than anything, but I'm glad that no one got hurt in the end," you say.

"Captain Undyne came by a few days after the incident —I suppose she's staying with all of you?" The principal glances over your shoulder at Sans, who doesn't say anything. You think he must have nodded, because she continues. "Well, she came by to apologize. She also cleared up that odd rumor that the reason she attacked you and your child is because you're human! I never believed it for a second, because what human would risk their life to help a monster? And I was right, the Captain told me herself that she was mistaken." She raises her scaled hands and lets them drop with a sigh. "She really ought to be more careful! Imagine, turning you both to dust over such a terrible misunderstanding!"

Oh. So that's why things didn't seem to change with any of the residents of Snowdin. Undyne went out of her way to make sure that she didn't completely wreck your cover, since no one aside from Sans and Papyrus understood that you and Frisk are human. You try to remember to thank her later.

You also try not to take the principal's comment about humans too personally. If your entire species was trapped under a mountain, you'd probably have some opinions on the people who did it. Besides, you aren't exactly sure that she's wrong about the majority of humanity. You just nod in response and drop your attention back to the forms.

"after we're done here, you wanna hit up the store for some school stuff, kiddo?" Sans asks while you're busy.

"Yeah! I..." Frisk hesitates. "Mom, can we?"

"Sure. We need to do that anyway, no reason not to go today," you answer, hesitating over a question on the form. It says: 'Magic Manifestations (if any)'. Frisk's Soul comes to mind, but... you fill in the answer with 'none'.

Sans rests his hand on your shoulder, making you crane your neck to look up at him. He holds his phone in front of your face, and there you can see a text message he's typed out but hasn't sent. 'lots mstrs dont have magic manif. frisk will b fine.' His typing makes you want to cringe (you always write properly in your texts), but you get the gist of what he's trying to say. That Frisk not having magic won't make them stand out, or make anyone suspicious. It's a relief.

You nod, giving him a quick smile. "Good. Thanks." Glancing at the principal, she doesn't seem to think anything is odd about your exchange, her focus on a small pile of papers. 

Sans nods back at you, squeezing your shoulder and pulling away again.

You finish up the last few questions. Handing over the paperwork, she lets you know that Frisk can start joining class tomorrow if that's fine with both of you. You let her know that it is.


You watch Frisk as they sift through the eclectic collection of Snowdin's shop. The rows and shelves seem organized by function as best as the owner could manage, but they're still a bit chaotic.  It reminds you of the thrift stores your mother would take you to. She almost never bought you anything brand new if she could help it and everything from clothes to toys tended to come second-hand. Actually, your favorite pair of jeans —the ones you're wearing now— came from a thrift store.

Despite your mother's intentions, you can't help the warm, familiar feeling in your chest. She always seemed happy when she bought things. Some of the best memories you have of the two of you together are of shopping, before you got pregnant. 

"Mom, look! They have pencils in all these weird colors! Like, the wood part is a funny color but not the lead part," Frisk says, holding up the package up for you to see. They're smiling from behind their outstretched arms.

The blister packaging is a bit worn at the edges and the cardboard is faded, but the pencils inside seem to be in good shape. They remind you of the fancy school supplies you always wanted to get as a kid, and you'd love to give something to Frisk you never had the chance to own yourself. But a nagging voice in the back of your mind hates the idea of spending more money than you need to. Wouldn't a regular pack of pencils serve just as well and probably cost half as much?

"Why don't you get some normal pencils, sweetie. You can get a lot more for the same price," you tell them, trying your best to not feel guilty as Frisk's bright smile starts to dim. Your best really isn't good enough, you realize.

Frisk seems as though they want to protest, and at the same time you're thinking about changing your mind. But before either of you can say anything, Sans takes the pack of pencils from Frisk's hands and places them on top of the small stack of notebooks in your arms. You give him a puzzled look and he just smiles at you like he always does.

"don't worry about the cost. we can afford it," Sans says. He looks over at Frisk, shoving his hands back in his pockets. "pick out whatever you want, kiddo."

You're feeling a little dazed as Frisk looks up at you for permission and you give them a small nod. Their smile brightens again and they turn back to the shelves with renewed vigor. Sans doesn't seem to think anything of what he just said, standing beside you as you both watch over your child. 'We can afford it.' You suppose he could have meant himself and Papyrus, but you don't think so. You're fairly certain that the 'we' meant you and him.

A familiar swell of affection fills your chest, right as Sans sidles closer and presses a hand to the small of your back. You glance over at him but his attention is on Frisk, white pinpricks following them as they flit back and forth across the aisle. He looks content.

The hand on your back slides lower until his fingers are curved over your butt.  This is a new habit for him, one that you don't dislike, but the fact that you're out in public makes your cheeks flush. You nudge him with your shoulder, but he doesn't move. Sans looks up at you with an expression akin to innocence.

"what? i can't help that you're taller than me. this is arm-level," he says, his toothy grin widening. "besides, i gotta keep hold of you to make sure you don't leave me behind." He punctuates his joke with a small squeeze.

Laughing, you nudge him harder, turning away just enough to move his hand. Raising his arm back around your waist, he pulls you back to him and leans up to brush his mouth against your cheek.

"Do I need a ruler?" Frisk calls back to the two of you, unaffected by your behavior with Sans.

"i wouldn't rule it out," Sans answers, earning himself a giggle from Frisk. "i'd hate for your supplies to not measure up to the other kids'."

Sans pulls away from you, walking over to help Frisk pick out the rest of their supplies. You're not surprised in the least to discover that the skeleton has a wide variety of situation-appropriate puns at his disposal. You just watch the two of them, following at a distance with a smile on your face. There have never been any issues between the two of them, but Frisk tends to favor Papyrus and Undyne. And while Sans has supported you with Frisk, he hasn't really gone out of his way to try and spend extra time with them either. Sometimes it seems like there's a little bit of a barrier between them, but you can't imagine why.

But as Sans catches Frisk off-guard with a whoopee cushion hidden between two notebooks, you think that they're getting closer. You actually mist up a little bit as Sans reaches out to ruffle Frisk's hair the way you like to do. You blame your reaction on hormones.

When they finally finish up picking out what Frisk wants, you head over to the clothing section. You want to make sure that Frisk has appropriate clothes to wear to school and help make a good impression. Picking out a few things —all a little oversized the way they prefer— you lead the way to a selection of striped sweaters.

"Do you want to get a new sweater, Frisk? That blue one is getting a little worn out from you wearing it so much, and I'm not sure it's thick enough," you say, eyeing the mentioned sweater that Frisk is currently wearing.

"Hmm, maybe," Frisk says, running their hand over the garment rack and thumbing their way through the different colors.

As you watch, they hesitate over a particular sweater. They pull it out a bit from the others, and you catch a glimpse of green with yellow stripes. You don't remember Frisk ever being partial to green or yellow, but they seem to be considering it anyway. After a moment, they shove it back into place and turn to you, shaking their head.

"No, I'm fine like this," Frisk says.


Sometimes Sans forgets that this Frisk and the Frisk from the worst timelines are the same child. As he watches the two of you talk as your little group heads to Grillby's, he remembers. He doesn't want to, but the images of that child silhouetted in the darkness between shafts of golden light come to him unbidden. The cold glint of a knife blade clutched in small fingers. A wide, delirious smile.

Tears streaming down light brown skin as something within Frisk seems to fracture and they drop the knife and run into Sans's arms. (Sometimes. The times Frisk gave him mercy were some of the hardest. Killing them when they refused his offer weighed less on his heart.) Blood on the floor. A tiny broken body.

He's jolted back to reality as he feels tiny hands pry his fingers away from yours and thread themselves in your place. Looking down, he sees that Frisk is now between the two of you, holding your hands. You look over the kid, meeting his eyes, and he notices how bright your smile is and how there's a little bit of color darkening the roundness of your cheeks. It only makes Sans feel even more guilty of his memories, but he smiles back at you anyway.

His eyes flick back down to Frisk. They're looking up at you, but as he watches they turn to face him, squeezing his fingers. Heavy brown bangs (not quite the same shade as yours, and the strands are straighter) fall away from their eyes, and he's struck with how Frisk's eyes look so much like yours when they smile. He thinks that should make him feel worse, but... this isn't the child he's fought before. It can't be. He doesn't see any of that person in Frisk's face. He mostly just sees you.

Frisk swings their arms back and forth, tugging on both of you. You start to raise your arm and Sans quickly follows suit, stretching up as high as he can to get Frisk's feet off the ground. The cold air fills with the sound of Frisk's laughter as he helps you swing them back and forth. Soon the memories sink back down below the surface and his smile is genuine.

And damn him if he doesn't realize that now he has one more person he's afraid of losing. 

Chapter Text

Sans takes Frisk to school on their first day because your period cramps are worse than yesterday and the idea of walking across Snowdin makes you want to cry. He tries to stay home with you again, but Papyrus won't have any of it. Undyne tells him you'll be fine with her watching out for you while the brothers are gone.

So you stay home curled up on the couch with a small stack of books you checked out from the library a few days ago. Undyne is at the other end of the couch, doing something on her phone and occasionally glancing up at the television. The silence between the two of you is companionable and undemanding.

Right as you start to open the first book sitting next to you ('History of the Underground') your phone chimes. You pick it up to find that Sans sent you a picture. You didn't even know that Sans's phone has a camera. Now that you realize it, you feel a little curious about all those times he had his phone out when you were around...

It's a picture of Frisk, grinning and waving in front of the school. It makes you smile and you're sure to save it. When you exit the image, you see Sans sent you a text right after. 'didnt want u 2 miss out. feel better.' Your smile softens, and you text back, 'Thank you, hun! It's a great picture! <3' Pausing for a second, you take another look at the thumbnail of the picture before setting the phone back down.

Burrowing down into the couch cushions to get more comfortable and resting your hand against your aching abdomen, you open the book in your lap. It makes for dry reading, but your own curiosity makes up for it. You want to learn about this place you've come to think of as your home.

You've always been a quick reader, and while the book itself is written plainly enough, you keep finding yourself distracted. Undyne flips channels on the television, and you get a few scattered texts from Sans. There's also the necessary trips to the bathroom that pull you up from the couch. By the time lunch rolls around, you've gotten about three quarters of the way through. You feel like you have a good handle on how the Underground came to be, as well as how Asgore moved the capital from the Ruins, originally called Home, and into New Home.

Wait, but if this is the same Asgore... and the Ruins were nearly decrepit. How can that be possible? Can monsters live for hundreds of years? You take another look at the book in your hands, flipping back to the front to try and find some kind of publishing information. But there isn't any date that you can find. The book looks fairly old.

"Need anything?" Undyne asks, interrupting your thoughts. She's uncurling herself from the couch, stretching up on her toes and raising her arms above her head with a loud, luxurious groan. Rolling her shoulders, she raises an eyebrow at you.

"Uh, no, I..." you trail off, frowning down at the book. You glance up at her, and she's watching you with a curious look. "Is the Asgore that led the monsters back when everyone was sent into the Underground the same one that's king now? Is that possible?"

"Yeah, one and the same," she says, crossing her arms over her chest. "Though he doesn't really like to talk about what it was like, before. When monsters still lived on the surface. Him and Gerson are the only people I think that still remember."

"But how? How long have monsters been down here?"

Undyne laughs, shaking her head and shrugging. "Do I look like a history nerd to you? I don't know, TOO LONG." Grimacing, she looks away, then back at you. "Asgore is a special type of monster. They're called Boss Monsters. The only way they age is if they have a kid. As the kid gets older, it makes their parents age too. But, Asgore's son died a long time ago."

Before you can react, she reaches down to scoop the book out of your hands, flipping through the section that you haven't read yet. Her expression hardens, then softens again, and she hands the book back. "Read the rest, if you want to know what happened." And with that, Undyne heads into the kitchen, leaving you alone.

And so, with a growing sense of sadness, you learn about what became of Asgore's son, Asriel. How the king's family took in a human child (the child's name is never mentioned, neither is the name of his wife) who fell just like you and Frisk did. The writing is dry and emotionless, but you can gather enough to think that the monster family must have cared about that human very much. Enough to consider them their own child. For a time it seemed that the hope of all the monsters rested on the idea that this single human might help bridge the gap between their two peoples. And then they got sick, and died. Asriel took that human's Soul to try and fulfill their would-be sibling's last wish, and was struck down. And the Dreemurrs were left without either of their children.

You blame the tightness in your throat and the tears in your eyes on hormones. But you snatch up your phone and take another look at that picture of Frisk anyway, to make yourself feel better. You can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child, let alone two. You don't want to ever know what that pain is like.

Undyne never left the kitchen the entire time you were reading, and now that you're done you wonder what she's doing. You also have questions you're hoping she can answer. As you get up from the couch you bite back a groan as a cramp tightens in your abdomen. This is why you're staying home, especially without any painkillers to help.

As you approach the kitchen, you hear Undyne talking in a low voice. "Okay Undyne, just be cool," she says, and you think she's talking to herself. But why? You tuck yourself against the wall next to the television, afraid of interrupting her. "Just talk to her. She likes talking to you."

Who is she talking about? For a split second you think she might mean you but that doesn't make any sense. As far as you know, she's never had any problems talking to you. And right now Undyne sounds downright nervous. Who could possibly inspire that kind of anxiety in someone as unflappable as her?

"Just... ask her about something nerdy. She likes that shit. Okay, okay, just call her!" Undyne snaps at herself, and you can hear her give a low growl.

Maybe you shouldn't be listening to this. But now you're afraid to move and give yourself away.

"H-hey Alphys! It's me, Undyne!" she says, and you can hear her pacing across the tile floor. "I mean, of course you know it's me, I'm sure my name came up on your phone. ANYWAY, how's the, uh, weather in Hotland today?" There's a pause. "Hot? Yeah, I thought so! I needed to know for, er, Royal Guard reasons!"

Is she serious right now? The embarrassment just from proximity is almost more than you can bear. You cover half of your face with one hand, grimacing.

"Yeah, I'm doing just fine! We're probably half-done with the house, I really need to stop setting it on fire, huh?!" Undyne lets out a loud bark of laughter, and it sounds like she's finally starting to relax a little.

Also, how many times has she burned down her house?

"Yeah! You should TOTALLY come visit sometime! I know that Papyrus would love to see you, and you can finally meet Sans properly. You should stop buying those terrible hot dogs from his stand, Alphys." Her voice quiets a little. "And I always like seeing you. OH, and you can meet Sans's girlfriend, too! She's pretty cool, I think you'd like her. So's her kid. Yeah, a kid, crazy right?"

You flush a bit at the compliment, coming from Undyne you know it's genuine. You're also feeling even more guilty for snooping. Biting your lip, you step away from the wall and give an exaggerated sigh, stretching and pretending like you're just now approaching the kitchen. Undyne turns on her heel, looking a bit like a deer stuck in the headlights as she catches sight of you.

"OKAY ALPHYS, I have to go, so just tell me later when you want to come over. BYE." She jerks the phone away from her ear, pressing a button and shoving it into the pocket of her jeans. "HEY PUNK, uh, was there something you needed?"

"I finished the book," you tell her, opting to pretend you didn't hear any of her conversation. Thinking back on what you just read, it sobers your thoughts, and you feel a small frown tugging on your mouth.

You see the tension leave Undyne's body. She looks away, and you swear she looks a little sad. Crossing her arms over her chest, she rubs her fingers over her elbow absently. "So then you know exactly how much humans took from us. What they took from Asgore."

"I can't blame him for wanting revenge on the humans who killed his son," you say, your hand drifting to cover your chest.

Undyne's head jerks to face you, a hard look settling over her face. Her eye flicks down at your hand. "Who said anything about revenge? He just wants to see everyone happy, the big softy. He's collecting Souls to try and free us, not because he's angry."

Guilt twists in your stomach and you pick at the front of your shirt. "And I really am standing in your way. If you had—"

"HEY," Undyne snaps at you, and you're surprised to see her glaring. "Don't start that shit now. You're a friend, and this just means we have to wait a little bit longer."

"But—"

Undyne takes a step forward, jabbing a sharp-nailed finger in your face. You lean backwards, eyes widening in surprise. "No buts. Never feel bad for protecting yourself and Frisk. You're just as important as any of the other monsters down here."

Your face scrunches and you can't quite meet her gaze. "How did he get the other six Souls? Did you...?"

She pulls her arm back over her chest, cupping her elbows. A frown furrows her brow. "Did I kill anyone?" She pauses and you nod, feeling bad for even asking. "No. You two are the first humans I've ever seen. And, he doesn't like talking about the Souls. He's doing his best to try and free us from this prison, but that doesn't mean he likes that people have to die. Even though humans did this to us in the first place." Undyne grimaces, then relaxes with a sigh. "I'd rather step up and make sure he doesn't have to do any of that again. So the next human that falls down here better be a jerk, so I don't feel bad about killing them!"

You try not to dwell on the idea of Undyne trying to kill anyone else, even if it's for an arguably good cause. "You and Asgore are close? So then... are you lying to him about Frisk and I?"

She looks away, and you think you see a flicker of guilt cross her face. "Look, I know him well enough to get that he doesn't really want to fight anybody. I'm doing him a favor by keeping you punks a secret, got that?"

"Thanks," you tell her, smiling.

"Whatever," she grumbles. "Since we're playing twenty questions apparently, is there anything else you wanted to know?"

Your thoughts to back to Asriel. His story in particular struck a cord in your heart. "How long ago did Asriel and that human child die?"

Undyne gives you an odd look, like she's surprised at your question. "I don't know exactly. I don't really make a point of asking about sad stuff. He's only ever mentioned Asriel to me once, and it was on accident."

"What did he say? If... if you don't mind me asking."

Looking up at the ceiling, Undyne hesitates. After a moment you think she decides not to answer, but she does. "He told me that he wished that I'd been around back then to keep Asriel safe. That I would have made a better protector, instead of hunting down humans. I dunno about that last part, but I know I would have stopped Asriel! I would do anything to help Asgore and his family."

You're startled by the passion in Undyne's voice. She catches herself, clearing her throat and glancing at you. "But it's just him now. He doesn't need me to protect him, because he's tough! Tougher than me!" She shrugs her shoulders, turning away and heading to the fridge. "I think you'd like him, but for your sake and his, I hope you never meet."

Chapter Text

"i can't believe you keep sending me those texts while i'm at work, what if the kid sees them?" Sans's voice cants low as he flings your shirt onto the floor of his bedroom, one hand around your back to fumble with the clasp of your bra. He's pressed in close to you, teeth grazing the crook of your neck.

You untangle one arm from around his shoulders to help him. He nips your neck and you suck in a gasp. "I delete them from my history. I can't believe you just teleported home like that." One moment you sent him an admittedly teasing message (your period ended yesterday, and you knew he'd been getting impatient) and the next Sans was there in the living room behind you. You'd never seen him look so riled up.

"what did you think i was gonna do? you were driving me crazy," he growls, pulling your arms free from him so he can tug off your bra.

"You've never done this before," you say, grabbing for his jacket to try and help him undress. He pushes your hands away and shrugs out of it himself. Your fingers find the front of his shirt instead, tracing down his sternum and making him give a pleased hum. You smile at him and he hooks his fingers into the waist of your jeans.

"yeah, well there's no one to bust me for skipping out this time," he says, stepping out of his slippers and gently pushing you towards the bed. "lay down."

You eye his still very-clothed body but he ignores you, so you do as he asks. Once your back is against the mattress, he undoes your pants and pulls them off, climbing onto the bed after you. His warm, smooth hands slide up your thighs, making you sigh and arch your back just a little as you savor the feeling. Sans shifts higher, fingers dragging up your sides. You shudder, seeing the hungry look on his face as he watches you shift under him and let out a small whine.

There's a flicker of blue and then his tongue is circling your nipple, his head bent over you as a hand grabs your hip. "Sans," you moan, reaching for the hem of his shirt and slipping your hand under it. As your fingers trace the warm surface of his ribs, he shudders and groans against your breast. He takes hold of your hand and threads his fingers between yours, pinning it to the mattress beside your head. Somewhere in the back of your lust-fuzzy mind you wonder why he stopped you. But it's hard to care as you press open-mouthed kisses to the side of his skull while his free hand finds its way beneath your underwear.

Grazing over your clit and sliding past your folds, Sans teases at your entrance. You moan, pressing against his hand but he just keeps tracing lazy circles. He pulls his head away just enough to look at you, the blue of his left eye studying your face as he gives you a pleased grin.

"i love listening to those sounds you make. i love knowing i can make you feel good," he says.

You bite your lip because you're too flustered to speak, but you know that Sans doesn't expect you to say anything. Instead, he makes a shallow thrust into you with his fingers, eliciting a cry as one hand tightens on his and the other fists into the sheet. You whine as he pulls out with a satisfied hum. He tugs your underwear off as he moves away.

Sans leans back and shifts to settle himself between your legs, squeezing your thighs with his fingers. You watch him, eyes locked on his, as he nips gently down from your knee, anticipation making you want to squirm the lower he goes. He pauses right at the thickest part of your thigh, chuckling as you let out a frustrated noise.

You get the impression that this is revenge of some kind.

Then, finally, you suck in a gasp that bottoms out into a moan as his tongue drags its way up your folds until finding your clit. He's warm, warmer than a human if you remember correctly, but at the moment that doesn't matter. Nothing matters except the feel of that blue tongue and Sans's strong hands kneading your thighs. It's like he can't get enough of the softest parts of you, he always touches you whenever he can.

As he finds a steady rhythm of gentle strokes, he leans his skull against one thigh making a low hum you can feel more than hear. It makes you shiver and bite your lip. Keeping hold of the leg he's resting against, he brings his other hand under his chin. Just knowing what's coming makes you shift closer in anticipation, and you hear Sans give a low chuckle.

"were you feeling as bonely for me as i was for you?" he teases, finger tracing along your entrance again. You let out a small groan that's more of a whine. "okay, babe. i know what you want."

Everything seems to narrow down to the smooth warmth of his fingers sliding inside of you, dragging out a moan past your lips. His other hand squeezes your thigh as he nuzzles against it, and you get the feeling that he's pleased with himself. Honestly, you're pretty pleased with him too.

As his fingers thrust slowly in and out of you, curling at just the right angle, you feel heat start to pool in your belly. You're getting close, and you think Sans can tell. The strokes of his tongue become more focused and he lets out a soft groan against you that makes you shudder.

Sans flattens his tongue, dragging it across your clit as he strokes his fingers inside of you and the heat finally crests and breaks free. Moaning and crying out, your back arches off the mattress and your fingers clutch at the sheet. Sans holds you and eases you through the waves of pleasure, his motions gentling but not stopping, eking out as much as he can from you. When your body finally starts to relax, he pulls himself from you and leans back to rest on his knees, using the hem of his shirt to dry his face. He's grinning, and all you can do is give him a bleary smile in return as you stretch your legs with a contented groan.

"that sounded good," he says, trailing his hands up and down your thighs, watching you as you come back to reality. He gives a low chuckle as you hum contentedly. "i'm glad. but you know we're not done yet."

As he shifts a little between your legs, you press your wobbly knees together. "Wait," you say as he gives you a puzzled look. You pat the bed beside you. "Can you just lay with me a minute?" you ask, your voice soft.

"is everything okay? i thought you liked when i don't wait too long after you come," he says, moving to lay next to you. Sans rests on his side, blinking his sockets so that the blue is gone and the white pinpricks are back. He covers your stomach with his hand, rubbing next to your navel with his thumb.

You move his hand away, and with as much energy as you can muster in your pleasure-limp state you roll yourself over to sit on top of him. Sans's eyes widen, startled as you look down at him from your seat on his legs. "I'm fine," you tell him, leaning forward and pressing your hands into the mattress on either side of his head. Blue sweeps across his cheekbones, and you see traces of nervous sweat gather at his temple. "But you're always doing all the work, and I want to do something for you for a change."

"babe, you don't have to. really," he says, shivering as your hand trails down his chest. 

"I know I don't have to. I want to," you tell him, a small groan escaping him as your fingers duck past the hem of his shirt and trace the curve of his pelvis.

"you don't have to do this, i'm sure you're uncomfortable." Sans reaches down to cup your legs, glancing down between you as best he can.

You're not sure if he's talking about you being on top of him, or uncomfortable with being more in control. Either way... "I'm not. Unless you are?" You pull your hand away from his pelvis, suddenly concerned you overstepped a boundary you weren't aware of.

"n-no, i'm not, but... babe i'm all hard edges and you're... soft." He holds your gaze for a moment before falling away, the lights in his eyes dimming slightly. Turning his head, he runs a hand over his face, looking uncertain.

Oh. Oh. "Hun," you murmur, ducking your head to press a trail of kisses down the side of his face. "Sans," you say, your lips against his jaw. He turns his head a little, leaning into your touch. "Is that what this is about? Because I like you, just the way you are." You reach up to tug his hand away from his face, tangling his fingers with yours and pressing them against the bed. "I want to learn your body the way you learned mine."

Sans turns to look at you and you pull back so he can, searching each other's faces. He still looks unsure, but you hope that he can see the sincerity and affection you feel. His face scrunches up as best it can, a tiny furrow forming between his brows, and the blue on his cheeks darkens. It seems like he doesn't know what to say.

"Please," you say, squeezing his hand. "I care about you, just like you care about me. Help me show you."

His mouth opens, like he's about to say something, but he can't find the words. With an expression akin to pain, the lights in his eyes flicker as he studies your face, until finally you're startled to see tears gathering in the corners of his eye sockets. "i..." Sans blinks, shaking his head and giving a self-deprecating laugh. "shit, you..." He blinks again, looking away and back at you. "you keep surprising me. you'd think i'd be used to it by now."

"Are you okay?" you ask, shifting yourself so that you can stroke the side of his head with your free hand.

"i'm... i love... i love everything about this right now, babe. you just, make me so happy." Sans fumbles over his words for a moment, still flushing and flustered. He leans up to nuzzle against your cheek, and you smile.

"You make it sound like no one's ever done this for you before," you say, giving a weak laugh in an attempt at lightheartedness.

Sans doesn't answer. His grip on your hand tightens and you hear a small sigh.

Things start to make more sense. Why would he assume that you'd be uncomfortable, if someone hadn't already told him something similar? Feeling determined now, you slide towards his pelvis, straddling him and rocking your hips. Encouraged by his startled groan, you pull back to sit upright, looking down at him. "Tell me what to do," you tell him, fingers tugging his shirt up to expose the bottom of his ribcage. You're tempted to reach for his spine, but you decide to start with the bottom ribs instead. Sans trembles under you. "Please."

The lights in his eyes are bright, and he's having trouble holding your gaze. His hands shift a little on the bed, like he goes to reach for you and then stops. Then, in a hurried rush, he arches his back and pulls his shirt off over his head, leaving himself exposed to you for what you realize is the first time. Everything about his bones has always been different from human anatomy, and his ribcage is no exception. He has more substance to him, a solidity you don't get from a lifeless skeleton. You catch yourself staring, and Sans is watching you with uncertainty.

The significance of this moment isn't lost on you. His trust in you feels like a tangible thing, cupped between your hands in the same way that he regarded your Soul weeks ago. You feel something well up inside your chest, and you think... you think it might be love.

Your fingers trace over his ribs and you try to put every bit of what you're feeling into the smile that you give him. It might be love, it might not be, yet, but whatever it is you hope it's enough to let him know that you want him to be happy. That you're happy with every bit of himself he might offer to you.

You think he must see what you're trying to show him. You delight in the relieved sigh he tries to hold back, leaning down to press kisses along his clavicle. His hand cups the side of your head, burying itself in the thick waves of your hair. Your slide your tongue along the length of bone, eliciting a small groan that makes you smile.

Sitting up again, you shake your hair free of his fingers, sliding your hands down his chest. You grind against his pelvis, feeling the fabric of his shorts shift against your thighs. "Tell me what to do," you say again, because he still hasn't answered you.

His mouth opens and closes, a small ragged noise escaping him. His eyes are heavy, his face bluer than you've ever seen him. In a word, he looks overwhelmed. His hands reach for you, and then hesitate, and then he finally takes hold of your wrists. You watch as he guides one hand to the base of his spine and the other to the wing of his pelvis.

Sans releases you as you stroke along his vertebrae, his hands falling back to his sides. You gently drag your fingernails across his hipbone and he gasps, closing his eyes and arching into your touch. He covers his face, unable to keep his arms still. Raising up onto your knees, you take a moment to tug down his shorts a bit to give you easier access to his pelvis. While you're off of him, he reaches down to grab hold of your hips, making you stop. Confused, you look up at his face, and as you catch sight of his glowing left eye, you feel a familiar pressure against your leg.

You shift yourself above him covering the hands on your hips with your own as you slowly lower yourself onto him. He moans as he fills you, his grip on you tightening as you gasp. Smooth fingers drag down your thighs as you  rock against him. His eyes are closed again, head pressed back against the mattress, teeth parted. You reach down for his spine again and he cries out, arching up to you. His motion buries his cock deeper inside of you and makes you moan, a surge of pleasure making you feel off-balance. You scrabble for a grip on his ribs but he catches your hand, holding you steady. Looking down at him, he's peering up at you with so much desire and affection that your chest aches in response.

Sans reaches for your other hand, a ragged breath escaping him as your fingers drag away from his spine. Tangling your fingers together, he takes your weight onto his arms. His hands squeeze yours. "if you... keep doing that, it'll be over too quick," he says, his voice thick and low as he stumbles over the words.

"Okay," you breathe, using the stability of his arms to help you drag yourself upwards and press back down again.

"aah, shit," he bites out, caught off-guard. He grinds up against you and you lean over him, trusting him to keep you up as your hair spills over your shoulders.

There's tension coiling in your belly again but you're not focused on that. You're taking him in, watching the affect you're having on him with a swell of affection and pride. This is about him. Right now he's all that matters.

"Sans," you say, groaning as you rock your hips. "I..."

"i... wait, i can't..." Sans bites back a moan, gritting his teeth. "no, not..."

You realize what's happening a moment too late, a low cry breaking free from him as you lean back to press him deep into you. He arches up and goes rigid, eyes squeezing shut as he trembles beneath you. The light in his eye fizzles out as he goes limp against the bed, the pressure inside of you gone without warning.

"shit," he breathes, taking in a shuddering breath. For a moment you're worried he's disappointed, but he's smiling up at you as he carefully separates your hands. He reaches up for your face and pulls you down to him, nuzzling you as he strokes your cheeks with his thumbs. You press kisses to his face when you feel bone against your lips. "you... i..." he falters and you can feel him trembling still. "that was..."

"You always say the sweetest things," you murmur, laughing softly. You roll off to the side and he turns to follow you, unwilling to let you go. 

"i've never... babe, sometimes i think there's no way you can be real," he says, his forehead pressed against yours. You reach up to brush your fingers along the side of his face.

"I'm real. I'm here, I'm real, and I'm yours," you tell him. "For as long as you'll have me."

"and what if i never want to let you go?"

"As long as you'll have me," you repeat, kissing between his eye sockets for emphasis.

"i..." Sans leans back so he can look you in the eyes, bright white points flickering as he searches your face.  "i'll keep that in mind."

Chapter Text

Hesitating, Sans looks up at the massive stone doors, erected long ago to seal off the Ruins. He's watched these doors open hundreds of times by now, but he's never seen the woman he knows is waiting on the other side. There are few places his magic can't reach, like through the Barrier, and something about the Ruins just sets his bones on edge. He thinks it has something to do with the dark, purple stones.

Sans sighs, turning his back to the door and leaning against it. He feels nervous, more nervous than he ought to. His head thunks back against the stone and he thinks he hears something shift on the other side. No sense in delaying the inevitable. He knocks twice.

Knock, knock.

"Who's there?" The woman's voice is muffled like it always is, but he can hear the smile in her voice. She always sounds happy to hear him, and it helps settle the nervous buzzing in his chest.

"dozen," Sans says, turning his head to the side so his voice will carry through the door easier.

"Dozen who?"

"dozen anybody want to let me in?"

There's a beat of silence, and her laugh sounds a little weak. One of those days then. Probably should have started off with something a little less on the nose.

Knock, knock.

"who's there?" Sans asks obediently.

"Cash."

He knows this one. She's told this to him before, in some of the timelines that lasted longer than the others. "cash who?"

"I did not realize you were some kind of nut!" she says, and he can hear her trying not to laugh at the end of her own joke.

He laughs along with her, because her sincerity never fails to make him smile. There was a time —damn it feels like ages ago— that he thought he might have had a crush on her. Just a little one. But as he got to know her better he realized that she was more like a mother. Matronly, in the best kind of way. He still feels a little swell of affection when he talks to her, but it's nothing like what he feels towards you.

What he feels towards you... that's part of the reason he wants to talk to his mysterious friend behind the door. Because if there's anyone he thinks might be able to help him sort out whatever is going on inside his skull, it's her.

There's another beat of silence. It stretches on because Sans can't think of any more good jokes, and he really isn't feeling up to it. She's a great audience, but that's not what he's after right now.

"You seem distracted, my friend," she says, and he can hear something brushing against the door. He pictures a hand, reaching out towards him but blocked by stone.

"the kiddo started school since the last time i talked to you," Sans says, avoiding her unspoken question. Besides, he knows she wants to hear all about the two of you.

"Oh," she says, and he thinks she sounds a little sad. "So they really are going to stay with you."

"seems like it. hey, if you'd rather not—"

"Oh, no! Do not mind me, I am just feeling a little selfish. I had only hoped to be able to teach them myself."

"you know, if you'd only come out of there..." They've talked about this before, but she's never budged. He's certain she won't now, but he says it anyway.

"Please, I would rather hear about how Frisk is doing at school," she says. Her tone brooks no argument.

"they're doing good. it's only been a few days, but they already knew a bunch of their classmates so friends aren't a problem. and i'm sure you remember how frisk is, so everyone loves 'em." Sans chuckles to himself, fishing his phone out of his pocket. He'd barely been able to keep the kid still long enough to take that picture for you before they ran off into the school. Frisk was just as excited at the end of the day, too.

"I am glad to hear it. Though, no one knows that Frisk is human?" She sounds worried. He doesn't really blame her.

"nope. not many folks still around that know what they look like, after all. i mean, maybe if it was the capital we'd be in a bit more trouble, but... so far so good."

"I suppose it has been quite some time since the last time a human was here." She pauses, and Sans can't help but wonder how long she's been in those Ruins. How many humans she's seen fall down. Maybe all of them. "And what about Frisk's sister? How is she?"

He hasn't corrected her. Maybe one day, when her regret at letting you go isn't so fresh he might. "she's good, she..." he trails off, thumbing through the pictures on his phone. He has a few of you, taken when you weren't looking. In the kitchen cooking, or on the couch with Frisk. There's one of you sitting on his bed, head tilted down as you look at your hands against the mattress, smiling. He pauses on that one, then flicks to the next. "she's happy," he says, and he can't keep the tenderness out of his voice.

"Thank you," she says. "Thank you for keeping your promise and protecting them for me when I could not."

"to be honest, i haven't been doing this for you. at least, not anymore. i've been doing it for her... and i guess for me, too." Sans grits his teeth, looking up from his phone to stare out over the snowy path. "i never really mentioned it, but... she and i are sorta... involved. romantically."

"Oh! My friend, I am happy for you! I never took you for the romantic type, but I am glad that I was mistaken," she exclaims, and her enthusiasm gives him a little courage. 

Sans thumbs to the next picture. It's his favorite one of you. You're standing outside Grillby's and it's snowing, the snowflakes caught up in your wild brown hair. The orange neon paints across you, making you glow against a backdrop of black and white, the warmest, brightest thing he's ever seen. You're looking up, searching for stars you won't find down here. He wonders if you'll ever lose that habit, but part of him hopes you don't. You were waiting for him, meeting him for dinner and he caught sight of you before you saw him. He almost missed his chance to take the picture because he was so caught up in just looking at you. Something familiar stirs in his chest. He feels fuller as he looks at you. "lady... have you ever been in love?"

He expects her to hesitate, or maybe not answer at all. He doesn't know that much about her, but for her to want to stay in the Ruins alone... he can't imagine her story is a happy one. But her answer is immediate. "Once. A long time ago," she says, and she doesn't sound sad so much as melancholy.

"how did you know?" He's never felt like this before. Scared, and happy, and like he can never get enough of you. Sometimes he wakes up and just stares, part of him wondering what he ever did to deserve you.

Sans wishes he could see her, to try and pick apart the look on her face as she thinks of what to say. Instead, all he has is silence until she speaks. "Love is different for everyone. For me it was... realizing that every moment we were apart, I was waiting to see him again. I measured time by the days we were together." She laughs softly, and Sans can hear the memories in her voice. "He told me, once, that he used to spend hours picking out the perfect flowers to bring me. Only the most perfect blooms were considered worthy..." A pause. "Forgive me, I know that is not very helpful. But, I think that you must know the answer, if you have thought enough to ask the question."

"but how am i supposed to know for sure? i've never done this before, and it just feels like... so much." Sans's grip on his phone tightens, and he nudges the screen to keep it from turning off. Nervous energy makes him clench and unclench the fist in his pocket. "she's beautiful, and i want to keep her happy, and she makes me happy. and then there's times where i just look at her, and i can't believe that she's real."

Sans realizes he's starting to ramble as he hears the woman on the other side of the door start to laugh. A flush rises to his cheeks as he falls silent, shoving his phone and his hand into his pocket.

"My friend, it sounds like you are most certainly in love. Do you agree?"

Closing his eyes, he leans his head back against the door with an audible thunk. He sighs. "yeah. i think you're right, lady. i do love her."


Somewhere in Hotland, inside of a lab, a certain someone lets out an audible gasp followed by a high-pitched squeal.

This is followed by a digitized sigh.


Papyrus is busy rearranging one of his switch puzzles, deep in Snowdin's forest, when he hears a familiar voice.

"Howdy!"

With one final shove at a hunk of ice, Papyrus dusts off his hands and turns towards the speaker with a bright smile. There, in the shade of a tree, is a smiling yellow flower waving a leaf at him. He crosses the distance between them in a few long strides, crouching down and resting his hands on his knees.

"FLOWEY! I'M SO GLAD TO SEE YOU! I WAS GETTING WORRIED THAT IT HAD BEEN SO LONG SINCE YOUR LAST VISIT!" Papyrus says, beaming at his friend.

"Oh gosh, Papyrus! I'm so sorry that I scared you," Flowey says, his smile falling into a sad frown. "I didn't mean to, I hope you can forgive me."

He chuckles. "OF COURSE! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WOULD NEVER HOLD A GRUDGE AGAINST A FRIEND! I'M JUST HAPPY THAT I WAS WORRIED FOR NOTHING."

The flower heaves a sigh of relief, smiling up at the skeleton and giving a little shake of his leaves. "It means a lot that you were thinking about me. You're such a great friend."

Papyrus flushes with pride, clapping a hand to his chest and pushing his shoulders back. "WHY THANK YOU! I AM PRETTY GREAT, AREN'T I?"

"Of course!" he agrees with a laugh of delight. As his laughter fades his expression sobers, worry etched into his face. "But Papyrus, I'm a little worried! Are those humans still living with you?"

"YES, THEY ARE. BUT FLOWEY, YOU DON'T NEED TO CONCERN YOURSELF! THE HUMANS ARE VERY NICE. IN FACT, MY BROTHER IS ACTUALLY DATING THE OLDER ONE. I HAVEN'T SEEN HIM SO HAPPY IN A LONG TIME." Papyus reaches out and gives the flower a reassuring pat. He doesn't seem to notice the grimace that flickers over his features.

"But what if Undyne finds out? Isn't she going to be disappointed?"

"OH, UNDYNE ALREADY KNOWS! AND, WELL, SHE WAS A BIT UPSET AT FIRST, BUT NOW SHE'S STAYING AT THE HOUSE WITH US TOO! SHE AND THE HUMANS ARE FRIENDS NOW!"

"Wow, that's great, Papyrus!" Flowey says, his smile seeming a little forced. "So does that mean that Undyne let you into the Royal Guard? I mean, she must have, since you found those humans!"

Papyrus's smile fades a little and he stands up, reaching up to adjust his trailing, red scarf. "NOT YET, BUT I'M CERTAIN SHE WILL WHEN I'M READY! THESE THINGS TAKE TIME."

Flowey gives the skeleton an indulgent look, swaying back and forth where he's rooted to the ground. "Maybe, but... you did fail to capture the humans, like she wanted you to." The flower sighs, a little crease forming between his eyes. After a moment, he gasps. "Oh! But what if you went straight to Asgore with the humans? I'm sure he'd let you into the Royal Guard if you went right to the king!"

"THAT'S A GOOD IDEA, FLOWEY, BUT I CAN'T DO THAT! THEY'RE MY FRIENDS, AND I DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM GO." He paces a little back and forth, shaking his head. "THERE ARE... MORE IMPORTANT THINGS THAN GETTING INTO THE ROYAL GUARD. AND I'M SURE THAT UNDYNE KNOWS WHAT'S BEST."

With a noncommittal sound, Flowey gives a shrug with his leaves. "If you think so."

"I KNOW SO! I HAVE FAITH IN UNDYNE, SHE'S BEEN TRAINING ME AFTER ALL!" Papyrus is grinning again, resting his hands on his hips. "BUT YOU'RE A WONDERFUL FRIEND, FLOWEY, FOR TRYING TO HELP!"

"Of course, Papyrus. You know me, I just want to see you do well," Flowey says. There's a pause, and the flower lets out a small gasp. "Oh gosh, but what about that friend of Undyne's you told me about! If Undyne is staying with you guys, have they been able to see each other?"

Papyrus looks a little puzzled at the sudden change in topic, but takes it in stride. "OH, YOU MEAN DOCTOR ALPHYS? UH, I DON'T THINK SO. WOWIE, NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT, THAT SURE IS BAD. UNDYNE IS SUCH A GOOD FRIEND THAT SHE MUST HAVE BEEN TOO WORRIED TO IMPOSE ON US BY INVITING HER OVER! I'LL HAVE TO TELL HER THAT IT'S OKAY!"

"Maybe she could even bring that friend of hers, the robot! I'm sure they'd all get along great!" the flower says, swaying excitedly. "You have such a great group of friends, I bet they'd all love to meet!"

A tiny, orange-tinted blush spreads across Papyrus's cheekbones as he wrings his hands. "OH, YOU MEAN METTATON? WELL, MAYBE, I SUPPOSE... SHE DID MAKE HIM AFTER ALL, SO I'M SURE THEY'RE CLOSE. BUT, UH, I KNOW THAT UNDYNE DOESN'T LIKE HIM VERY MUCH..."

"But wouldn't the humans be so excited to meet him? A real live robot! It doesn't hurt to ask."

Papyrus brightens. "YES, THAT'S TRUE! YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD POINT! I'LL DO MY BEST, FLOWEY, TO BRING ALL MY FRIENDS AND MY FRIENDS' FRIENDS TOGETHER!"

Chapter Text

Undyne informs you that a friend of hers named Alphys is going to be coming over this weekend, specifically when everyone will be home from work and school. Papyrus enlists your help to get the house spotless for her visit. There isn't much to do, because between the two of you the house stays generally tidy, but you of course agree to help. You're not sure why but he seems a little nervous.

Sans seems unaffected by the news, though you think his eyes narrow just a little at the mention of someone named Mettaton. Actually, now that you think about it, that name does sound familiar. Then, you realize that Papyrus is talking about that robot from his favorite television shows. He's quick to inform you that Doctor Alphys is the one who created Mettaton, and that he might come with her on her visit. You hope that he does, just because Papyrus seems so excited about it.

So for the next two days, whenever Papyrus is home, you spend your time cleaning and re-cleaning every possible surface in the brothers' home. His boundless enthusiasm turns to nervous energy, and the day before Alphys's visit you find Frisk sleeping on the couch with Undyne. Apparently Papyrus wouldn't stop tossing and turning in his sleep.

Not wanting to clean the kitchen for the fourth time in two days, when Papyrus corners you near the sink, wringing his hands, you cut him off before he can start speaking. "I was just about to go clean Sans's room! You said you wished he would keep it cleaner, right?"

Papyrus stares at you, blinking owlishly before nodding. "OH, OF COURSE! I DOUBT ANYONE WILL ACTUALLY SEE HIS ROOM, BECAUSE HE DOESN'T REALLY LIKE PEOPLE GOING IN THERE... BUT IF YOU CAN DO IT, THEN PLEASE!"

You try not to sound too relieved as you skirt around him to flee the kitchen. Sans's room can definitely use a bit of cleaning, though from the way Papyrus talks about it sometimes, you'd think it was a warzone. But, you've lived with the brothers for over a month. You learned early on that Papyrus is a stickler for cleanliness. You admit, the idea of cleaning the room that you now share with Sans is something you've been tossing around for a while. You fetch the laundry basket from the closet where the washer and dryer are hidden and enter the bedroom.

First order of business is the pile of laundry (clothes and an inordinate number of unmatched socks). You shove it all into the basket and get it started in the washing machine. The two of you don't make enough  laundry to bother separating out colors and whites, so you just wash it all on cold. As you head back towards the bedroom with the basket, Sans catches you in the hallway.

He's in your way, leaning against the wall with his hands shoved in his pockets. He raises a brow at you. "you know, you don't have to do all this just because of my bro."

"I do," you say, resting the empty basket against your hip. "Unless I want to scrub the stovetop for the fifth time." Pursing your lips, you glance down into the living room. It's empty. You look back at Sans and lower your voice to just above a whisper. "Is he always like this with company?"

"nope. just mettaton," Sans says, his mouth twitching. He turns and leads the way into the bedroom, knowing you'll follow. "you know. you can always just pretend you're cleaning in here. i'm sure pap won't come check." He circles around you and closes the bedroom door, waggling his brows at you and winking.

Blushing, you let out a flustered laugh. "Sans, really. You're impossible."

"i'm completely possible. c'mon babe, you've been working yourself to the bone." He comes up to you and tugs the laundry basket out of your hands, setting it down on the treadmill. His grin turns sly, reaching out to take hold of your hips. You let him pull you close. "wouldn't you rather i take care of you with mine?"

You snort, dissolving into a fit of giggles until he tucks his head into the crook of your neck and you feel teeth against your skin. Sighing, you lean against him. "I do want to wash the sheets. I guess it would make more sense to get them dirtier before I wash them."

"exactly," he murmurs against your neck.

The first load in the washing machine is done by the time you get around to stripping the bed.


Sans's grip on you is a bit tighter than normal as the two of you sit on the couch, waiting for Alphys (and Mettaton?) to show up. Papyrus tries to sit next to you but stands back up, pacing over to give the pet rock near the door a long, serious look before sitting back down again. Undyne is seated on the stairs, leg bouncing anxiously as she fiddles with her phone. Between the two of them, you start to feel nervous yourself. You can't help it.

Frisk is sitting on the floor with their back pressed against your shins, playing a game on your phone. "Are they gonna be here soon?" Frisk asks, vocalizing the thought that seems to be in everyone's mind.

Everyone jumps —even Sans— when a hurried knock at the door interrupts your your answer. Undyne and Papyrus both leap up from their seats and rush to answer it, running into each other as they have a silent, hurried fight. The fish monster manages to shove herself past the skeleton and fling open the door. Sans follows you as you pull yourself to your feet and help Frisk stand. His hand never leaves your back.

"ALPHYS! You made it!" Undyne says, backing up into Papyrus as she tries to make room to let her friend into the house.

After another confused scuffle in the entryway, there's finally enough space for a short, lumpy figure to make their way inside. She's wrapped up in a huge coat with a long lizard-patterned scarf wrapped around her head. The only visible part of her face is a pair of wide, bespectacled eyes.

"OH, I THOUGHT METTATON WAS COMING WITH YOU," Papyrus says, unable to disguise his disappointment.

Undyne is busy helping Alphys unwind her scarf, gradually revealing a yellow reptilian monster (something between a lizard and a dinosaur) just a smidge taller than Sans. She's looking up at Undyne, face flushed and sweating.

"M-M-Mettaton was busy today, so he c-couldn't make it," Alphys stutters out in a nasally voice, adjusting her glasses and looking at Papyrus as though grateful for the distraction. "I h-hope that's okay!"

You think you feel Sans relax a little bit at your side, but you aren't sure why.

"Of course it's okay! YOU'RE the one I invited," Undyne blurts out, giving Papyrus a sharp look. She helps Alphys out of her thick winter coat, oblivious to the way the doctor starts trying to babble a thank you as she hangs up her coat and scarf for her. She has a polka dot sweater on underneath.

You give Alphys what you hope is a reassuring smile as she looks at you, but it probably comes off more nervous than anything. Just watching the two monsters try to interact with each other makes you want to wince.

"H-hello!" Alphys says, trying her best to smile back at you.

"OH!" Undyne blurts out, circling around Alphys and gripping her tightly by the shoulders, pushing her towards the three of you. "This is the human I was telling you about, the one dating Sans! And her kid, Frisk!"

"Hi!" Frisk says, giving Alphys an energetic wave.

She raises a small clawed hand and gives a weak wave in response, her smile widening a little. When she looks at you again you raise your hand as well. Normally you'd offer to shake her hand, but she seems so nervous and jittery that you think it might be better to not make her any more uncomfortable.

Sans just nods. "hey alphys," he says casually.

"H-hi Sans," she says, looking between the two of you and the way that he's pressed in close to your side. She clasps her stubby fingers together and shifts on her feet, expression brightening. "I-I hope you're doing o-okay!"

He shrugs, looking away. "sure. what can i say, i got no bones to pick."

"UGH," Papyrus groans.

"Oh, do you two know each other?" you ask, giving Sans a confused look. He never really said anything to you about Alphys.

"one of my stations is by the lab," Sans says. "we bump into each other sometimes."

"Y-yeah!"

You're about to ask about Hotland (you've only heard about it in passing) when Undyne interrupts. "I'm really glad you came, Alphys! I know you don't like the cold, but that sweater is cute on you!" Undyne releases Alphys's shoulders and leans over a bit as she talks to her. The doctor gets noticeably redder and sweatier the closer Undyne gets.

"I-it's okay! I d-don't mind so much... I mean! It would be w-worse for you to c-come to Hotland!" Alphys stutters.

Sans tugs the back of your shirt and flops back down onto the couch with a shrug. With a last glance at Undyne and Alphys (they're wrapped up in small talk, Undyne speaking with intensity as Alphys fights to maintain some semblance of composure) you take a seat next to him. He threads his fingers between yours and you nudge him with your shoulder.

"It's a little painful to watch," you mutter under your breath, Sans huffing a laugh in response.

"even papyrus knows, you'd think one of them could pick up on it," Sans says, shaking his head. "but what can ya do?"

As you watch, Frisk walks up to the two female monsters and inserts themselves in their conversation, getting Undyne to give Alphys a little bit of space with just their presence. Looking a little relieved, Alphys smiles at Frisk and starts talking to them. You think you hear her mention anime.

With introductions out of the way, everyone seems to relax a bit. Papyrus pulls the chairs out of the kitchen so there's more room to sit and passes out the lunch that you prepared earlier. Sans doesn't have much to say except to interject well-timed jokes that make Papyrus and Undyne groan. Much to your surprise, Alphys actually finishes one of his punchlines for him. After a startled pause, Sans and Undyne start laughing (even though Undyne hadn't laughed at any of Sans's other jokes) and Alphys flushes with pleasure.

You like Alphys. She's nervous and a little jittery, but once she gets started on a topic she's passionate about it's hard to stop her. At one point she starts talking to Frisk about a show she must love, and it takes her a few minutes to realize she's been rambling nonstop without even a single stutter. Undyne just watches, enraptured as she talks. You have no idea how Alphys doesn't notice the way Undyne looks at her. It reminds you of the way Sans looks at you when you catch him staring.

You think you catch Alphys watching you and Sans a few times. Whenever your eyes meet she just gives you a nervous smile, looking from you to Sans, and then away. As you rise to your feet to take your plates to the kitchen, you think you hear Alphys let out a happy squeak as Sans's hand lingers on your back until you walk away. Glancing back at the sound, you catch Sans blushing a little as Alphys covers her mouth with her hands.

When you get back to settle in on the couch again, Sans has the barest hint of a frown on his face. Following his line of sight, you see Alphys typing up something on her phone as it buzzes in her hands. She looks nervous.

"Everything okay?" Undyne asks, frowning at the phone.

"O-oh, yeah! E-everything is fine!" Alphys blurts out, jumping a little in her seat and shoving her phone in her pocket. You can still hear it buzzing.

"you sure?" Sans asks.

Undyne leans forward in her seat. "Who's blowing up your phone?"

"I-it's nothing!"

"Is someone bothering you, Alphys?"

"N-no, really U-Undyne it's fine," Alphys says, but she doesn't look fine. Her hands fidget in her lap and sweat is gathering on her forehead. 

"Cuz I'll beat them up if someone's hassling you!" Undyne grimaces, flashing pointed teeth and flexing her arms.

Alphys opens her mouth to answer when there's a loud, insistent knock at the door. You look at Sans, Sans looks at you, and you both look at the others. Undyne and Papyrus both look as confused as you feel, but it's Alphys that has the most visceral reaction. Her eyes are wide and her hands are clutched tightly in her lap, staring at the door.

As Papyrus gets up to answer it, Alphys lets out a startled sound. "W-wait!" she says, but he doesn't listen.

The moment the door opens, a familiar rectangular robot rolls his way into the room. Papyrus's jaw drops open as the red and yellow squares of his front display blink into the shape of an 'M' and a pair of comically large hands wave enthusiastically at the room. Sans is on his feet in a rush, angling himself between you and Mettaton. You stand up and take hold of his hand, confused.

"Alphys, Alphys, Alphys!" Mettaton says. His voice is friendly and charismatic, overlaid with a robotic distortion. His long arms curve to rest his fists on the sides of his body, as if he had hips.

"M-M-Mettaton!" Alphys squeaks, looking guilty. "I-I thought you were b-busy with the show t-today!"

"And miss out on meeting these two marvelous humans?" Mettaton's display blinks a few times before settling back into the 'M' pattern. "Darling, you know I couldn't bear to miss an opportunity like this!"

Chapter Text

"Alphys, darling, you of all people should know how much I admire humans. I'd kill for the chance to meet one." Mettaton waves a hand in your direction and Sans's hand tightens on yours. "Thankfully it looks like I won't have to!"

"R-right, of course!" Alphys says, giving a nervous laugh. She wipes the sleeve of her lab coat across her forehead. "I j-just thought you'd be b-busy today, is all..."

"Plans can always be rearranged," Mettaton says, laughing.

"WELL I'M GLAD YOU COULD MAKE IT, METTATON!" Papyrus's voice sounds a little higher than normal, and he hasn't managed to move from his spot by the door. He seems to realize it after a moment, because he quickly shuts the door and comes to stand with the rest of the group. "WOWIE, IT SURE IS NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN!"

Mettaton tilts his body just enough to give what you can only describe as a glance at Papyrus, though he doesn't have any eyes. You figure he must have some way of seeing, maybe it has to do with his blinking display. Said display flashes a boxy exclamation point for a second before setting back to alternating red and yellow.

"Oh, Papyrus, isn't it? It's always a pleasure to see such an enthusiastic fan!" the robot's words are kind and gracious, but his attention seems to be set on you and Frisk. You feel a little bad for Papyrus.

But Papyrus doesn't even seem to notice the way Mettaton dismisses him. The skeleton's grin is so wide and he presses his gloved hands to the sides of his face. A set of sparkles hover around his eyes. You're glad that Papyrus isn't upset, but it seems a little unfair.

"HE REMEMBERED MY NAME!"

Undyne rolls her eyes, giving Mettaton an annoyed look. "Of course he remembers your name. It's not like he has that many fans."

Mettaton's screen goes dark, flashes red, and then turns all yellow. There's a moment of silence as the robot refuses to acknowledge Undyne's comment. Alphys clears her throat, eyes darting between her two friends.

Frisk slides off their chair, walking up to Mettaton and holding out their hand. Sans makes an abortive gesture, like he wants to reach out and pull them back. What is it about Mettaton that has Sans so nervous? You give him a scrutinizing look, but his attention doesn't waver from the robot.

"Hello! It's nice to meet you," Frisk says politely, arm outstretched. "I'm Frisk."

"Oh! Why hello there, darling, aren't you precious!" Mettaton exclaims, wrapping an oversized hand around Frisk's tiny one. They share a vigorous handshake that makes Frisk laugh, grinning brightly.

You think you feel Sans relax by a fraction as he settles back, no longer looking like he wants to dart forward. Even though Sans has his normal grin on his face, you can see the tension still there in his mouth.

"I'm a fan too! We watch you on TV all the time," Frisk tells him.

"I always knew humans had good taste," he says with a short, robotic laugh.

While Frisk and Mettaton talk, Undyne leans in close to Alphys and says something you can't make out. Whatever it is makes the doctor jump and flush bright red, mumbling something to Undyne in response. If you didn't know any better you'd think that Undyne said something flirty or provocative, judging from Alphys's reaction. But considering that's just how she responds to Undyne in general, you think that she was just asking if she was okay. Between Undyne and Mettaton, Alphys looks about ready to keel over from sheer anxiety.

You shift a little on your feet, unsure of what to do with yourself. Sans isn't helping, standing there in silence at your side, unmoving. You're caught between being sensitive to his clearly negative reaction to Mettaton, and Frisk's cheery excitement. But either way, you're starting to feel rude for not introducing yourself. Sans looks at you but doesn't say anything as you free your hand from his, walking up to stand behind Frisk. You rest your hands on their shoulders.

"I'm sorry, I haven't introduced myself," you say, telling him your name. "I'm Frisk's mom."

Mettaton takes your hand from Frisk's shoulder, tugging you to the side like he wants to get a better look at you. If he had eyes you think they'd be looking you up and down, and you can't help but feel a little self-conscious, heat rising to your cheeks. 

"Well aren't you stunning!" he says, and you can't help your pleased and embarrassed smile. "I absolutely adore humans, and you darling are just magnificent. I dare say that no one in the Underground can possibly compare, there's just something fascinating about humans."

"Well, I don't—" you begin, stumbling over your words until you're interrupted.

"Not a word to the contrary, darling! I won't hear it. One of these days I hope to get to the surface, but in the meantime I suppose I'll just have to get my fill of you." Somehow Mettaton's voice lowers into something of a purr, punctuated by a low whirring noise somewhere inside his body.

"M-Mettaton!" Alphys squeaks.

"I, well—" you're feeling flattered, but all this attention is getting you flustered.

"I can't believe you're tucked away here in Snowdin of all places! You should be somewhere warm, with people! Let me take you to the capital one day, beautiful, I'll show you a great time..." Mettaton tugs you a little closer and you stumble a bit, catching yourself on the edge of his rectangular body. 

You blink, trying to figure out exactly what just happened as your face feels like it's burning. But you don't have time to think before Sans is at your side again, one arm around your waist to pull you back. You glance at him, startled to see a flicker of blue in his left eye.

 "listen here you overgrown calculator. get your hands off of her or alphys is gonna have to build you a new set of arms," he snaps, and you can feel a hint of static in the air, a crackle of magic.

There's a beat of silence, where no one seems to know what to say. Then, everyone seems to react all at once.

"SANS, THAT WAS VERY RUDE!" "M-Mettaton, maybe you should..." "Hun, I think you're overreacting a little."

Over it all, Undyne is roaring with laughter. As you glance back at her, she smacks her knee and brushes the back of her hand over her eye, shaking her head. "That was HILARIOUS! Great one, Sans!"

Alphys is watching Sans, and you think she looks a little scared. She's on her feet and inching towards Mettaton. When you turn back to the skeleton at your side, the blue in his eye and the tingle of magic are gone. His face is broken out in a wide grin and he gives Mettaton a lazy shrug, though the hand resting on your side is still holding on tight. You feel even more lost than before.

"you caught me undyne," Sans says with a chuckle you think sounds a little forced. "sheesh, mettaton, lighten up! stick around here and you'll be sure to hear a mettaton more jokes."

"SANS THAT WASN'T VERY FUNNY!" Papyrus grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest.

Alphys mumbles something you can't quite hear, and Frisk looks from Mettaton, to Sans, and back to Mettaton with a confused expression. The robot's display flickers a bit, and he sways a little side to side. You hear a quiet grinding sound, then Mettaton reaches out to pat you and Sans on your shoulders.

"I see, I see! Well, darling, you let me know if you ever want a tour of the capital. I spend all my time there," he says, sounding just as cheerful as he had before Sans's threat.

"not enough time, if you ask me," Sans grumbles. He gives you a gentle tug towards the kitchen. "babe, can i talk to you for a minute?"

"Yeah, please," you say flatly, following him away from the others. "I could really use an explanation."

As you pass between Papyrus and Mettaton, you notice Alphys slip over to go speak to the robot, and you think her hands are shaking.

The moment Sans has you away from the others and out of sight, he turns around and takes hold of your hands. His expression is serious as he looks up at you. "don't trust mettaton."

You know he's not joking, but you can't help the incredulous laugh that slips out. "Sans, are you jealous? What was that all about back there?"

He frowns. "this has nothing to do with how i feel, i'm saying that you need to be careful and not trust him."

"So you are jealous."

"babe, are you listening to me?"

"Hun, I am. And I want you to know that I'm not into short, metal, and rectangular." You can't help the smirk that quirks your lips, and you tug on his hands as you lean forward to press a kiss to his mouth. "My type is short, punny, and skeletal."

Sans huffs an exasperated sigh, but he's smiling when you pull away. A hint of blue stains his cheekbones. "promise me you'll be careful."

You still think that he's overreacting, but you don't want to tell him so. Instead you give him a reassuring nod. "Okay, I promise."

"are you just saying that to placate me?"

Yes. "No!"

"i'm serious," he says, narrowing his eye sockets at you. "please, don't let your guard down around him. make sure you keep frisk away from him too."

The mention of Frisk sobers you a bit. Generally Sans isn't one to overreact, so if he's pressing you this much about Mettaton... he must have a reason. You give his hands a squeeze, nodding. "Okay," you say. "I'll be careful. Can you tell me why?"

"i just..." he looks away, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head. "he's dangerous. i can't trust him not to have an ulterior motive with you."

"Because he's so interested in humans?" That was a little odd, but he didn't come across as threatening.

"yeah, that's one way to put it." Sans turns back to you, looking at your chest. He frees one hand, tapping your sternum. "you read that monster history book, right? and you remember what undyne was after when you first met? more than just asgore might be after your soul, so protect it. i'm a little partial to it staying with the rest of you."

He thinks Mettaton might be after your Soul? The robot isn't nearly as intimidating as Undyne is, and doesn't come off as threatening in the least. But you trust Sans. He's watched out for you and Frisk for almost a month and a half, and you know he cares about you.

You cover his hand, holding it to your chest. "Me too. Besides, I think my Soul is a little spoken for."

Sans's grin widens and affection softens his face. "is that so?" He tilts his head up to nuzzle against your cheek.

You can feel a flush rising to your cheeks as you press in close to him, turning your face to his. "I told you already. I'm yours. So don't feel worried, or jealous."

His thumb strokes your chest, right under your clavicle. "you know i'm yours too, right? cuz, i—"

"SANS? HUMAN? STOP DAWDLING IN THE KITCHEN, METTATON AND DOCTOR ALPHYS ARE GOING TO LEAVE. SANS YOU SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR BEING RUDE."

Papyrus's shrill voice makes you both jump, startled apart. You share an exasperated look, but you realize that maybe this wasn't the best time to be having a private moment. Sans is a little flushed, fidgeting slightly before shoving his hands in his pockets.

"c'mon, he'll just come get us if we stay in here."

Chapter Text

"on days like these, kids like you..." 

"S h o u l d  b e  b u r n i n g  i n  h e l l."

Frisk's eyes fly open, fear making their skin prickle as they jolt awake. Blood is pounding in their ears as reality sharpens into harsh focus, acutely aware of the dark shadows in Papyrus's room. Uncurling themselves from the tight ball they were in, Frisk tries to slow their frantic breathing. The lanky skeleton next to them is still fast asleep.

Raising a small hand to their chest, Frisk can feel their heart pounding behind their ribs. A ghost of an ache echoes through their nerves, a half-remembered memory of their dream. No, their nightmare. Sitting up, the soft blue glow of a night light greets Frisk, and something about the color makes the skin on their back crawl. They squeeze their eyes shut, hands fisting into the blanket covering their legs.

Hollow eye sockets, bones flying at them, huge fangs, golden light...

Frisk's eyes shoot back open and they shake their head. The more they try to scrabble for pieces of the nightmare the more they seem to slip away, until all they can remember is fear and a stabbing pain all over their body. Despite the blankets and oversized pajamas, they feel cold. Frisk shivers and their muscles twitch until they finally give in to the nagging need to be on their feet.

Padding quietly towards the door, Frisk glances back at Papyrus. He's curled up on his side, a pillow crushed between his arms and shoved under his head. The soft creak of hinges goes unnoticed, as does Frisk's absence as they slip out of the room.

The house is dark, but there's just enough light filtering in through the windows for Frisk to see. With a deep breath, they walk down towards Sans's room. You told them that if they ever needed you that they could come get you. And after that nightmare, even though they can't remember it anymore, they need you. Yours was always the room they'd creep to in the middle of the night, even before they knew the truth. That you weren't 'Sissa' but instead, 'Mom'.

But it isn't just your room anymore. You aren't alone, and for some reason the thought of Sans makes them a little nervous. Frisk freezes outside the door, hesitating with their hand outstretched for the knob. Their toes clench and unclench the matted fibers of the carpet's piling.

Skeleton got your tongue?

Frisk flinches, lowering their hand and balling it into a fist.

Afraid you can't trust him? I would be too. But then again, I don't trust anyone. It's safer.

I'm sorry that you still feel like that. I'd hoped you might have changed your mind by now.

Don't be an idiot. You can't change my mind.

I don't believe that.

What you believe doesn't matter. 

The voice falls into frustrated silence when Frisk doesn't rise to their bait. Each passing week has left them with less and less to needle Frisk with, and now they go entire days without speaking. A month and a half ago the voice's promises of protection and power were tempting, the fears they latched onto were frightening. But now the voice is more of an annoyance; a niggling in the back of their mind. Almost a familiar companion.

Frisk wonders what it must be like to be trapped inside someone else's mind, with no control. They can only imagine it must be frustrating, and sometimes they feel bad for the voice. But those feelings just make the voice lash out, until it's hard for Frisk to be sorry for them anymore. They learned weeks ago that pity is something the voice hates the most.

Distracted by the discourse going on inside their own head, Frisk doesn't realize that there's movement going on behind Sans's door until it starts to open. They jump, startled, as a hollow-eyed skull peers out into the hall. Sans stutters to a halt, halfway through the door as he catches sight of Frisk. He's pale in the darkness, all white bone and a white shirt, interrupted only by his black shorts. There's a moment where they just stare at each other, unsure of what to say.

"what's up, kiddo? can't sleep?" Sans asks, blinking as the lights in his sockets brighten, trained on Frisk's face.

Frisk isn't sure why, but Sans's presence isn't as comforting as it should be. Standing in the hall with the skeleton peering down at them, they feel a little... anxious. They don't understand this feeling bubbling deep under the surface.

"kiddo?" Sans says, and when he reaches out with his left hand to touch their shoulder, Frisk flinches away. He lowers his arm, his movements a little stiff. Cautious, even. 

Tugging on the ends of their sleeves and pressing them to their mouth, Frisk looks off to the side, fidgeting. "...Had a nightmare," they mumble.

The tension seeps out of Sans's body, though Frisk doesn't see it. "do you want me to get your mom? she's still sleeping, but i can—"

The vigorous shaking of Frisk's head cuts him short. Biting their lip, they glance back at him. "Did you have a nightmare too?"

Hesitating, Sans steps fully into the hall and eases the door shut behind him. "not this time," Sans admits, shrugging. After a pause, he gives Frisk a kind smile. "but i think i know something that might help. c'mon, let's go to the kitchen."

Not bothering to wait for a reply, he skirts around them, heading for the stairs. Confused but curious, Frisk follows obediently behind him. They want to ask what he's doing, but as they pass through the living room the sound of Undyne's soft snoring reminds them to be quiet. Soon, Sans is flicking on the stove's overhead light and filling the teakettle from the sink. There's just enough light to see each other clearly without disturbing Undyne.

"sit down, kiddo," Sans murmurs, waving a hand towards the kitchen table. Frisk doesn't flinch at the movement this time. "this'll only take a minute."

Doing as they're told, they sit down with their back to the kitchen's doorway, watching intently as Sans rummages in one of the cupboards. He pulls out a big blue canister and sets it on the counter. Then, with a faint blue glow, the skeleton points his left hand at a pair of mugs on a high shelf and whisks them down with his magic.

"What are you making?" Frisk asks, tapping their heels together as their legs dangle above the kitchen floor.

"you'll see," Sans says, looking over his shoulder and winking. 

He pulls open another cupboard and Frisk hears the rustling of a plastic bag. They try to see around Sans's body to get a peek at what he's doing, but he's keeping the view blocked on purpose. Frisk plunks their elbows down on the table and cups their hands under their chin, watching.

Putting the bag away, Sans turns to face Frisk, leaning back against the counter. Two mugs sit beside him, spoon handles poking up out of them. One mug has the words "WORLD'S GREATEST BROTHER" written on it in familiar, slanted handwriting. The other has a slightly worn-off image of an orange cartoon cat biting into a broken, yellow smiley face. Written in bold letters, it says "Have A Nice Day".

"How come you couldn't sleep if you didn't have a nightmare?" Frisk asks, giving Sans a curious look.

Sans raises a brow, like he wasn't expecting the question. "that's uh... that's a lot more complicated than you think, kiddo."

"Does Mom know?" They fidget, dropping their hands to the table and picking at their nails, looking down.

"she knows more than most."

"Does it help?"

Sans lets out a soft chuckle, shaking his head. Not in disagreement, but like he can't believe what he's being asked. "yeah, it does, frisk. having someone who understands me, at least a little bit. it helps."

Frisk looks up, peering through a curtain of heavy bangs. They bite their lip. "Then wouldn't it help more if you told more people?"

Blinking, Sans almost doesn't notice as the kettle starts pluming steam. He turns and yanks it off the stove before it starts to whistle. With his back to Frisk, he pours boiling water into the mugs and the clinking of metal against ceramic fills the silence. Then, carefully, Sans picks up the mugs and brings them to the table, setting the one with the cat in front of Frisk.

They don't press Sans for an answer, taking the warm mug between their hands with a bright smile. There's a thick layer of melting marshmallows on top and the sweet smell of sugar and chocolate wafts up. The skeleton takes the a seat at an angle to Frisk, rolling his own drink between his hands and grinning.

"hot chocolate is the best remedy for nightmares," Sans says, leaning back in his chair. "i used to make it for papyrus all the time when we were kids. always cheered him right up."

Frisk doesn't say anything. They just watch Sans through the thin curls of steam from their mugs, waiting for him to continue.

Sans seems to realize this, so he sighs and shrugs his shoulders. "i don't really remember too much about our childhoods, but i think he was getting bullied at school. something about our..." he frowns, trying to remember, but he gives up with a sigh. He shakes his head. "i dunno. doesn't matter. anyway, he used to get real upset, worried he'd never make any friends. got himself so worked up he'd have these awful nightmares. so i'd take him downstairs in the middle of the night, just the two of us, and i'd make him hot chocolate and just sit with him until he told me what was wrong."

Frisk looks down at their mug and breaks the layer of marshmallows with their spoon, then picks it up and takes a sip. It's rich and sweet, still a little too hot but they don't care. They take another drink anyway. 

Sans chuckles, pointing a finger at Frisk's mouth. "i mustache you a question kiddo. do you know you've got a bit of marshstache goin' on?"

Giggling, they lick away the sticky, melted marshmallows caught on their upper lip. Sans gives them an exaggerated wink and raises his own drink to his mouth, carefully pouring since it's hard to sip with no lips. As he sets the mug back down Frisk's giggles get louder, covering their mouth with a sleeve-covered hand. He's got marshmallows stuck to his teeth. Frisk points.

"huh? have i got something, too?" Sans asks, eyes widening. Grabbing a napkin, he dabs at the corner of his mouth. "did i get it?"

Frisk shakes their head, pointing again. "Right there!"

He wipes the wrong place again. "here?"

"Nooo!" Frisk squeals, thankfully muffled by their hand. They realize their mistake, looking abashed as they glance towards the living room. When they look back at Sans the marshmallows on his teeth are gone.

Still smiling and feeling a lot better, Frisk sucks in a mouthful of melted marshmallow off the top of their mug and then washes it down with a gulp of cocoa.

"you know you can talk to me, kiddo. do you wanna tell me what's eating you?" Sans is watching them, and Frisk can almost feel the way those pinpricks of white light are studying their face. He looks concerned.

Frisk ducks behind their mug, taking a long, slow sip. 

 You know he doesn't actually care about you? He only cares about her. He knows that being nice to you will make her happy.

That's not true.

Are you sure about that? Really sure? 

I can tell when you're just trying to be mean. You don't believe it either.

Petulant silence fills Frisk's mind.

Can they tell Sans the truth? Would he believe them if they told him about the voice that they've heard since falling into the Underground? Magic and monsters is one thing, but hearing voices? Frisk thinks the truth would just make everyone worry, and they know that Sans would tell you.

"kiddo, you can trust me," Sans presses gently. "everyone here: me, your mom, papyrus, undyne... we all care about you."

Frisk doesn't even need to hear the voice in their head to know what they'd say. They can feel them listening, digging into the doubt in their mind.

Eyes dropping to the mug clutched tight in their hands, Frisk can't do it. "I know. But it's no big deal. I can't even remember the nightmare anymore."

Sans lets out a small, disappointed sigh and Frisk feels guilt twist their insides. They wonder if Sans can tell that they're hiding something. "don't worry about it. did the hot chocolate help at least?"

When they look up, Sans is smiling like nothing's wrong. Relief floods through Frisk, and they smile back. "Yeah, a lot! Thanks, Sans."

He nods, winking. "any time kiddo. glad you're feeling better. do you—" Sans looks away towards the living room, his expression brightening. "hey babe, we were just... is everything okay?"

Frisk pivots in their chair and sees you standing in the doorway, an unreadable expression on your face. Your arms are crossed over your chest, hugging yourself, as you look in at Sans and Frisk. You bite your lip, and Frisk thinks you look a little upset.

"Oh," you mumble, giving Sans a weak smile. "I just wanted to check on you, hun. I didn't expect to see Frisk down here with you." Your eyes shift to Frisk. "Is everything okay, sweetie? What are you two doing up so late?"

"kiddo had a nightmare and i happened to catch them in the hall when i got up," Sans tells you, but your gaze never leaves Frisk. They start to feel a little nervous, but they aren't sure why.

"Why didn't you come get me? Are you okay?" you ask, coming into the kitchen and crouching beside Frisks's chair. Reaching up, you brush their bangs from their face and stroke their cheek.

Frisk nods, glancing over at Sans. He's just watching the two of you. "You were sleeping, and Sans helped. He made me hot chocolate!" They smile at you, wishing that you would smile back. You don't.

You look over at Sans, something silent passing between the two of you that Frisk doesn't understand. They're not sure that Sans understands either, judging by the puzzled look on his face.

"Well," you say, looking back at Frisk. "If you're feeling better then why don't you try to get some more sleep? Do you wanna come back and sleep with me?"

Frisk nods at you, and is relieved at the smile that finally softens your face. They throw their arms around your shoulders and you pull them into your arms, standing and picking them up. You let out a soft sigh.

"Are you coming back to bed?" you ask Sans.

There's a pause, then the soft scrape of the chair against tile. "sure, if you want me to," he says.

Frisk feels your arms tense as you hold them. They hug you tighter, unsure why everything feels so uncomfortable.

"Of course I do. I just... Sorry, let's just all go to bed."

Chapter Text

You wake up shivering. It takes you a moment to realize that it's because Frisk has the blankets wrapped around themselves, leaving you bare. Gray light filters in through the window, the dim color of morning in Snowdin. No soft orange sunrises here.

Frisk is laying at an angle, their backside pressed into your ribs. You realize that if you tried to roll over you'd fall off the bed. Sans's arm is under Frisk, and you feel him holding your hand. The three of you fell asleep like this, with Frisk wedged between you and snuggled up to your side. Sometime between now and then, they rolled over to Sans instead.

Jealousy coils in your stomach, twisting your insides. You hate it, you know you shouldn't feel this way but... Lately it feels like everyone has been taking more and more of Frisk away from you. Part of you knows that they're just trying to help, that they care about Frisk too, but the more they help, the less needed you feel.

Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try, it's just not good enough.

Laying there sulking isn't going to do you or anyone else any good. Carefully rolling off the bed, you decide to borrow Sans's jacket and slippers to help warm yourself up. With a quick glance at your phone, you realize it's almost time for Frisk to get up for school. You lean over the bed, brushing hair out of their face as you coax them awake.

With a soft groan, Frisk blinks up at you, rolling away from Sans and onto their back.

"C'mon sweetie, time to get up," you whisper. "I'll make you breakfast."

Nodding and rubbing their eyes, Frisk lets you help them out of bed. Sans rolls over onto his chest with a sleepy grumble, burying his face in his pillow. Hesitating, you decide to leave him be. He doesn't have work today, and with him getting up in the middle of the night, you know he can use the extra sleep.

Besides, right now you could use this extra time with Frisk.

But, it seems it's just not meant to be. Papyrus is already awake, busy making breakfast. Even Undyne is up, sitting at the table bleary-eyed and drinking tea, already dressed. The two of them look at you as you walk into the kitchen, and thankfully Papyrus doesn't seem to notice the way you grit your teeth.

"OH, GOOD MORNING! I SUSPECTED FRISK WAS WITH YOU LAST NIGHT, I'M GLAD TO SEE I WASN'T WRONG!" Papyrus says, smiling and waving with the spoon in his hand.

"I hope we didn't worry you, Papyrus," you say, nudging Frisk towards the table as you start to prepare yourself some coffee.

"NOT AT ALL! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAD NO DOUBTS THAT FRISK WAS JUST FINE."

"Oh, is that why you woke me up as soon as you got out of bed, demanding to know if I knew where Frisk was?" Undyne grumbles into her tea, yellow eye narrowing at the skeleton.

Papyrus turns his back to the kitchen, staring down at the pot of oatmeal as nervous sweat beads on the side of his skull. "I-I MAY HAVE BEEN A LITTLE CONCERNED," he admits with a small cough.

Breakfast is a little livelier than normal with the four of you sitting at the table together. Papyrus and Undyne command most of Frisk's attention, and once again you start to feel the pangs of jealousy. You tamp them down, instead focusing on your food. You're forgotten once again as Frisk runs back up the stairs when they're done eating to go change their clothes.

Fine. As Papyrus leaves for the morning (he gives you a big hug before he heads out, which makes you feel a little better) you decide to go ahead and make Frisk's lunch. But when you open the fridge, you see there's already a paper bag put together and waiting.

"You've got to be kidding me," you mutter under your breath. "Of course this is already done. Why do I bother?"

"Having trouble finding something?" Undyne says, draining the last dregs of her tea and slamming the mug down on the table. The sound makes you flinch.

"Oh, uh, no... I just thought I'd..." You let out a short sigh. "Frisk's lunch is already made. I was going to do it."

"Papyrus made it this morning before you got up. Doesn't he usually do that?" she asks, raising an eyebrow at you.

She's right, he normally does. You shouldn't be so surprised. Ever since he started picking up on your way of cooking, he's been trying to help out more and more.

The sound of feet tromping down the stairs signals Frisk's return to the kitchen. They run up to your side and as you stand there with the fridge still open, reaching around you to grab their lunchbag. They give you a quick hug, then turn to Undyne with a grin.

"Ready to go, squirt?" she asks, pushing away from the table.

"Yeah!" Frisk looks over their shoulder and gives you a small wave. "Bye Mom!"

"I love you!" you blurt out, taking a step forward but they're already headed for the door. Your hands ball into fists at your sides as Undyne follows them.

"Love you too," they call back.

Undyne looks back at you as she takes hold of the door after Frisk opens it. "See ya later," she says.

The most you can manage is a friendly nod.


You're soaking in the small tub in the bathroom, wallowing in hot water and your own self-pity. You wish you could shake this nagging feeling, but it just won't leave. Frisk has known that you're their mother for a little over a month now, but lately it hasn't really felt like it. At the same time that they accepted you as their mom, they were also adjusting to living with Sans and Papyrus, and then Undyne shortly after. It feels like you're all getting lumped together into this parental unit. You feel like a fragment, instead of being whole yourself.

But it makes you feel guilty and petty for reacting that way. Which only makes you feel worse.

With a sigh you tip your head back into the water, letting the warmth seep into your scalp. You almost miss the muffled sound of a knock at the door with your ears submerged. You sit up and pull back the opaque curtain so you can see the steam-filled bathroom.

"babe?" You can hear San's voice.

"Come in!" you call out.

Sans peeks inside before the rest of him follows, shutting the door behind him. He seems relieved at the sight of you, giving you a weak smile. The lights in his eyes are dim, making them seem more hollow than normal.

"Hun are you okay?" you ask him, sitting up a little straighter and pushing the curtain open a bit more.

He goes to shove his hands in his pockets but he doesn't have any. Instead he grabs at his ratty black t-shirt, glancing at the fogged mirror and then back at you. "it's nothing. just..." he sighs, running a hand over his face. You can hear the scrape of bone against bone. "i'm used to you being there when i wake up."

"Oh," you say, a little confused. You're also a little happy that your absence was so noticed, but you're not glad for the way he seems so shaken. "I just got up to see Frisk off to school. And I wanted to let you sleep."

You reach out a hand towards him, beckoning him forward. Water drips off your arm and down onto the tile floor. He hesitates for a moment, but Sans comes and sits down on the covered toilet next to the tub. You thread your fingers in his, and he leans down to nuzzle your temple.

"i know. i just wanted to check on you. makes me feel better." You hear —and feel— him give a low chuckle after a pause. "and i can't say i mind the view."

Laughing, you give him a playful shove away from you. "You're getting a little off track—"

"what can i say? you're distrackting."

"Sans. Are you doing okay?" you ask him, trying your hardest to fight the smile off your face. You can't let his puns make you laugh.

"i'll be fine. just a rough start to the morning is all," he says, shrugging. His smile lessens just a little.

"I'm sorry," you say, squeezing his hand.

"don't be. i'm fine, really."

Sans is a little withdrawn for the rest of the day, so the two of you spend most of it on the couch. You try to see if maybe he wants to go to Grillby's for lunch, just to get him outside, but he plays the flattery card and says he'd rather have one of your sandwiches. And how can you say no to that? At least Sans seems to need you.

You think that maybe you've gotten over this petty jealousy. After time alone with Sans you're starting to feel better. But the moment Frisk comes home with Undyne you feel it rush back to the surface. Frisk barely takes the time to give you a hug before tossing their backpack into the corner and rushing out the door again with Undyne to go 'train'.

Sans doesn't seem to notice that there's anything wrong. He's absorbed in some book with a worn cover you can't quite make out. You think it's a sci-fi novel of some kind. Suddenly frustrated, you get up to go start preparing dinner. Something to keep you busy until you calm yourself down. He doesn't say anything to you as you leave the room.

You wish he'd follow you, check on you to make sure you're okay. Can't he tell that you're upset?

By the time you finish getting dinner prepped and simmering, Frisk and Undyne are back. As you leave the kitchen, the fish monster is on one end of the couch, propped against the armrest. She's staring at her phone, typing in a message. After a second, she scowls and deletes it. Then, after another second, she starts typing again. You think she must be texting Alphys. You wonder, briefly, if things between the two of them are just as awkward as they were last week. Probably, judging by the uncertain look on her face.

Sans and Frisk are napping on the other end of the couch. Frisk has Undyne's pillow in the skeleton's lap and is stretched out across the middle cushion. Their feet are resting against Undyne's leg. You should be happy, seeing the two of them getting along so well, but you're just reminded of last night. Frisk always comes to you when they have a nightmare but... Sans had taken care of them instead. It bothers you, more than it should. That was one of the few things that was explicitly yours, for as long as you can remember. It was something that your mother couldn't take away from you.

You turn and go back into the kitchen to sit by yourself.


Sans finally seems to realize that something's wrong while you're all eating dinner. Once everyone finishes and leaves the kitchen —Papyrus and Frisk head upstairs to play a game, Undyne decides to take a shower— Sans stays behind to help you clean up. The silence between you is thick and uncomfortable for the first few minutes as you pass clean dishes for him to dry.

"you know you can talk to me," he says finally, giving you a tentative glance as he puts away a glass in the cupboard next to you.

You sigh, struggling to find the right words. You want to tell him, to just vent some of your frustration and worries. That's what couples do, right? Talk about things. But your voice feels trapped in your throat, afraid to say anything. You don't know why this is so difficult. Didn't you want him to check on you?

The longer the silence sits between the two of you, the harder it feels to speak. Finally, as you scrub vigorously at the pot clutched tight in your hand, you just force yourself to say something. "I feel like everyone is doing my job for me. As Frisk's mother," you blurt out, anxiety buzzing in your chest.

For a second Sans doesn't say anything. He just looks at you. "you do realize that's not what's going on, right?" he says slowly.

"Sure, I guess," you say, sighing. "But I just... I keep feeling jealous. Like, I can't even take Frisk to school in the morning because one of you is always out of the house and it's 'on your way' so you might as well do it. And that makes sense, so it seems stupid to complain about it, but..."

"yeah. but you can just take Frisk yourself, you know." His voice is a little dismissive, and you can't help but feel a prickle of agitation.

"That's not what I'm trying to say, Sans," you say, frowning.

"what are you trying to say? we all care about frisk, and you. you don't have to do everything on your own. we're just trying to help out, babe." He takes the pot that you shove in his direction, giving you an odd look as he starts to dry it.

"I'm just trying to help you, dear. Let me take care of the baby. You should rest." Your mother's voice comes unbidden, drawing up anger from deep inside of you.

"I don't need help! I need to take care of my own child," you snap. Your shoulders hunch as you lean forward over the sink, chest starting to feel tight.

"you are taking care of frisk! you're their mom. no one is ever going to replace you. kids need their moms." He's staring at the dish in his hands, toweling it a bit harsher than necessary. So when your expression shifts as the bottom drops out of your stomach, he doesn't see it.

"Giving birth doesn't make someone a mother. You have to earn that title, and I need the chance to do that!" Yanking your hands out of the sink, you turn to fully face Sans, anger flooding your senses.

"you are babe," he says, thrusting the dishtowel onto the counter and looking at you.

"You just don't get it. I don't want to feel this way, Sans!"

"you're right, i don't get it. and i don't understand why you're getting pissed off at me."

"Because you're acting like it's all no big deal. I thought you'd try to help me feel better!"

"i'm trying!" he snaps, brow furrowing with frustration. "and it's not a big deal. you're making this out to be a lot more than it really is."

"Oh, so now I'm just exaggerating? Why are you being such an ass?"  You try to take the words back as they leave you in an angry rush, but it's too late.

Sans's frown twists into a glare. He shoves his fists into the pockets of his jacket, shaking his head and looking away from you. "forget it. you're not listening and i don't have to put up with this. maybe when you take a second to calm the fuck down you'll realize i was just trying to help."

"Sans wait—!" you cry out but it's too late. When you reach for him he blinks just out of your grasp and storms off for the door. He yanks it open and slams it shut behind him, leaving you behind in shocked silence.

You sink back against the counter, a wet hand almost slipping against the smooth surface as you hold yourself up. No, no no no. What have you done? All the anger leeches out of you in seconds, leaving behind an overwhelming sense of fear. You screwed it up. He's furious and it's all your fault. You feel paralyzed, torn between frustration at him and yourself, desperate to go back and apologize. You wish you never said anything at all.

He left you, and you're scared it means he's left you for good.

Sliding down to the floor, you bury your face in your damp hands and start to sob.

Chapter Text

Sans is still fuming when he gets to Grillby's. It must be written all over his face because when Dogamy goes to greet him Dogaressa pulls him back and shakes her head. Greater Dog gives a low, resonating whine and his ears droop. Sans pulls himself up onto his normal barstool, waiting for Grillby. He caught sight of the flame monster ducking into the back as he came in, probably to get something for one of the other patrons.

Holding his head in his hands, Sans presses the tips of his phalanges into the back of his skull. What the hell was that all about? You've been acting strange since last night, and he just doesn't get why you're so worked up over nothing. If you'd just take a second to see how ridiculous you're being...

He feels the warmth radiating off of Grillby across the bar. Looking up, Sans drags his hands down his face and folds his arms on top of the counter, sighing. Grillby just stares at him, arching a brow over his glasses and cocking his head to the side. With a refined air, he gestures to the empty barstool beside Sans in silent question.

"yeah it's just me tonight," Sans says. "i could really use a drink."

He hesitates for a moment, but Grillby produces a short tumbler from beneath the counter and fills it halfway with dark amber liquid. He pushes it towards Sans, who gives him a grateful nod before taking a drink. The thick glass makes a solid thunk as the skeleton sets it down none-too-gently.

Grillby is watching him, waiting for him to speak. The bartender has seen enough of Sans's bad days in the past to know what's coming, though with you around it's been a while since the last time it's happened. But he's patient, cleaning a row of glasses with a white cloth. Sans tips more of his drink into his mouth.

"don't look so sternum," Sans says,  forcing a grin and an exaggerated wink.

Grillby never was a good audience. He just watches him.

"not feeling so hot tonight, grillby?"

Silence.

"all right, all right, i admit that one's getting a little old," he says, shrugging amiably. "doesn't quite have the right spark."

The glass in Grillby's hand gives a sharp squeaking sound as he dries it. He sets it down a little harder than normal.

"fine. fine. we got in a fight," Sans finally admits, sighing and resting his forehead in one hand. "i mean, who gets upset because people are helping out too much? and when i try to tell her that, she gets mad at me?"

Raising the glass to take another drink, he lets out a startled sound of protest when Grillby takes it away. He dumps it out into the sink and fills it with water instead, plunking it back down in front of Sans. He waits.

"what the hell, grillby?" Sans says, frowning up at him. He can't even feel the alcohol yet. He guesses that's probably the point. "i came here to cool off, not get roasted by you too."

Grillby frowns back, leaning an elbow against the bar.

"so what, this is just the icing on the cake of my crappy day? you cutting me off before i can even feel a buzz?"

The bartender shakes his head.

"she's making something out of nothing. i was trying to help but any time i made a suggestion she just got more annoyed with me. which was pissing me off! how am i supposed to help her if she doesn't want to listen?" Sans grumbles, glaring at his glass of water before picking it up just to have something to do with his hands.

Grillby shakes his head again.

"y'know, this would be easier if you would just tell me what you're thinking."

No response. Just a pair of glasses staring blankly at him.

"if she doesn't want us helping with the kid, all she has to do is say so. but that's just it, she knows she's being jealous for no reason," Sans grumbles, drumming his fingers.

"...So you're frustrated with her because she's having an emotional response to what you think should be a logical situation?" Grillby murmurs. His voice is thin and a little rough, like fine sandpaper. Dry, even.

Sans raises a brow at him, a little surprised to hear him speak. Grillby's response is a little too on the head, and Sans shifts uncomfortably on the barstool. "i came here for a sympathetic ear, not for help."

Grillby lets out a breathy huff, stacking the dried glasses and taking them down the bar to put them away.

Frustrated with you and now with his friend, Sans nudges his glass of water absently with his fingers. He just needed some time to cool down, maybe get a little sympathy. What he didn't need was Grillby trying to tell him that he'd screwed up. He knew that already. Knew it the second you started getting mad at him. But he was just so damn frustrated that he couldn't stop himself. What were you even mad about? It didn't seem like it had anything to do with Frisk by the time he finally gave up.

Why wouldn't Grillby just let him vent instead of...

Oh. "oh my god i'm such an ass," he says.

Grillby turns back to Sans and has an expression on his face that seems vaguely smug. Which is a feat in of itself with no mouth.

Sans drops his forehead to the counter with a hollow sound, holding his skull in his hands. "i told her she could talk to me, and then i didn't fucking listen. i just... wanted to help." He groans. "and then we both just got mad..."

 "...Well you aren't going to make anything better by sitting here," Grillby says.

His anger and frustration is gone, replaced by worry. He'd stormed off, leaving you all alone. You tried to stop him and he didn't listen. Thinking of how he'd react if you did the same thing to him, it leaves him with a twisting feeling in his chest and a nervous buzzing in his bones. He wishes he could go back and do today over again.

"i know. just gimme a minute to figure out how the hell i'm gonna apologize," he mutters. 


You're in love with Sans.

You have been for a while now, but now you know for certain. It's why this all hurts so much. It's why you're so scared that now it's all over. Because you screwed up and he left, and he has to come back because he lives here but you're not sure he's coming back for you.

It's all your fault. It's always your fault. If only you had been more careful. If only you hadn't said anything. If only...

Your face is wet and your vision is blurry, and you're distantly aware of the sound of the faucet still running. Oh. You're in the middle of doing dishes, that's right. You latch onto that fact like a lifeline, smearing tears across your face with the back of your hand, pushing yourself to your feet. Hands shaking, you sniffle to try and stop your nose from running. You feel a little calmer with a scrub brush in your hand.

No matter what happens, the dishes need to be done. That's your responsibility. You can't screw this up too, on top of everything else.

"...no way! I'm telling you, that last show we watched was—!"

You jump as Undyne walks into the kitchen, talking on her cellphone. She's changed into her pajamas —shorts with little fish on them and an orange tank top— and has her hair wrapped up in a towel.  As you meet her eye she stops dead in her tracks. "Alphys I have to go. I'll call you later," she says, hanging up the call.

Turning your head away to hide your face, you try to focus on the dishes but you know it's too late. You catch Undyne setting her phone down out of the corner of your eye as you try to dry off your cheeks with your shoulder.

"What happened? Where's Sans?" she asks, coming up to stand beside you.

You shake your head, your throat feeling tight as more tears make your vision swim. Don't cry. Don't make even more of a scene than you already have. You rinse soap off of a plate and put it in the drying rack.

"Are you okay?" she presses, firmer this time.

Your lip wobbles and you shake your head again. You start to cry, face screwing up as your grip on the brush tightens.

"Okay punk, come on, leave this for later," she says. You're shaking and you can't see through your tears, but you feel Undyne's hands gently pry the scrubber from your fingers and rinse the soap from your skin. You hear the water shut off and she hands you the dishtowel. "Where's Sans? Did HE make you cry?"

You can't even answer. Clutching the towel in your hands, you're starting to have trouble breathing. You gasp in air between sobs. Undyne takes hold of your shoulders and guides you over to a kitchen chair, sitting you down. Through your blurred eyes you can make out the shape of her crouched down in front of you, putting her at eye-level. She's still holding your shoulders with her firm grip, and the presence is comforting. Her thumbs rub small circles against your clavicle until you start to get a hold of yourself.

Rubbing at your eyes to try and clear them and rubbing at your nose with your sleeve —you're such a mess— you meet Undyne's steady gaze. "I-I'm sorry," you mumble, hiccuping.

She ignores your apology, brow furrowing. "Tell me what happened."

You tell her everything as best you can. How you were worried about things with Frisk, and how you just wanted some reassurance and sympathy from Sans. But instead he treated you like you were overreacting and dismissed your concerns. She listens as you tell her about how you snapped at each other until he finally stormed out of the house, and how scared you are. Her frown deepens, but she doesn't interrupt.

"Undyne you've known him longer than me, did I mess everything up?" you ask, more tears welling up in your eyes. You sniff to try and fight them back. Your head is starting to ache.

Undyne sighs, grimacing. "Look, punk. I'm not good at this kind of stuff. But I have a few things to say so I want you to LISTEN, okay?"

It takes you a second to realize she's waiting for an answer. You give a shaky nod.

"You had one fight. That shit happens. If he's gonna let ONE argument ruin your relationship, it wasn't worth having." She makes an annoyed sound, then sighs as some of the tension leaves her face. "He's not going to let that happen. The whole time I've known Sans he hasn't let anyone else in other than Papyrus. He keeps everyone at a distance, until you. And that means something."

Giving her a tremulous smile, you open your mouth to say something, to thank her, but she narrows her eye at you.

"I'm not done," she snaps, letting go of your shoulders and rising back up to her full height. "If you were worried about us helping out with Frisk you should have said something! No one wants to make you or the squirt unhappy."

"I-I didn't want to make a fuss over it, or upset anyone," you say, clearing your throat.

"You didn't have a problem speaking your mind to me before, what's different now?" She fixes you with a scrutinizing look.

You look away, biting your lip. "We're friends now. I didn't want that to change."

Undyne lets out a short bark of laughter. "You WEENIE, it's BECAUSE we're friends that you should be able to tell me when I'm ticking you off!"

"Oh," you mumble, because you can't think of anything else to say.

"Do you feel any better?" she asks, and as you blink up at her you realize she looks a little worried.

"Yeah. Thank you, Undyne," you say, giving her a watery smile. Oh no, you don't want to cry again.

You both flinch at the sound of the front door opening. Red faced and puffy-eyed from crying, you stand as your heart starts pounding in your chest. Undyne turns towards the living room just as Sans shuts the door behind him. You catch a glimpse of his downcast expression just before Undyne's back fills your line of sight. 

"What the HELL did you think you were doing, running off to Grillby's and leaving her here crying in the kitchen by herself?!" Undyne shouts at him.

"Undyne, wait. Don't!" you protest, following her out into the living room.

She's glaring at Sans, cornering him by the door. He shoves his hands in his pockets and glances over at you, and you see the lights in his eyes dim a little. His mouth tightens.

"well i'm back now, so if you can just—"

You hear the sound of a door opening upstairs. With a quick glance you catch sight of Papyrus and Frisk looking down into the living room. Oh no.

"I ought to kick your ass!" she snaps, her arms tensing as she balls her hands into fists. The muscles seem to pop under her scales.

"undyne, i'm not in the mood to play along with your little game," Sans says, hunching his shoulders and narrowing his eye sockets.

"Don't!" you say again, trying to get her to listen. You reach out to take hold of Undyne's arm and she glances down at you. Something about the sight of you seems to encourage her instead of calm her down, however. She flashes her pointed teeth at Sans.

"YOU should have been the one here to fix what you did!" Undyne jerks her head in your direction.

"you need to stop shouting at me," Sans bites out, his own voice getting louder.

"Then don't give me a reason to shout at you! Don't you realize what you did?!" she takes another step forward, looming over Sans. 

"i didn't try to hurt her on purpose!" he yells back, yanking his hand out of his pocket to jab a finger in Undyne's direction. "i love her!"

The room falls into stunned silence, and you feel like someone just knocked the wind out of you.

Chapter Text

"Mom? What's going on?"

Frisk's voice pulls you back to your senses, breaking the shocked silence that fills the room. Undyne looks down at you with one wide, yellow eye and then over at Sans. He's cursing to himself, turning towards the wall and ducking his head behind the fluff of his hood. Did he just...?

"What did you say?" you ask him, letting go of Undyne's arm and taking a step closer to him.

Undyne turns on her heel and starts marching for the stairs. "OKAY squirt, how about we all give your mom and Sans some privacy, huh?!"

"undyne, hold on, you don't need to do that," Sans blurts out, and you can see the blue starting to creep across his face. He closes the gap between the two of you, and as your eyes meet you feel unsure again. Did he really mean what he said? Did he just blurt it out to catch Undyne off-guard? "can we go back to our room and talk, please?" he asks you gently, reaching out to take your hand. You let him, and something in your chest gives a pleasant squeeze. 'Our room' he said.

"Mom?" Frisk asks again, worry plain in their voice.

"I..." You and Sans search each other's faces for a brief moment before he releases your hand. "Let me talk to Frisk. Then I'll meet you there, okay?"

He looks relieved. He's not smiling, but his expression relaxes. "of course."

You approach Undyne on your way to the stairs. You're nervous, and don't really know what to expect from your talk with Sans, but you know for a fact that Undyne helped you. Drained from crying and feeling a little numb from the emotional roller coaster of the last hour, you wrap your arms around her middle and give her a hug. 

"Thank you for helping me earlier," you tell her. You realize she's a little cool to the touch.

"Really, it's fine," she says. She gives you an awkward pat on the back for a second before succumbing and bending over to wrap her arms around your shoulders. You can't help the surprised laugh that escapes you as she leans back and lifts you off your feet. With a squeeze almost tight enough to hurt, she sets you back down and lets you go. She fixes you with her eye and you're close enough to see her slit pupil narrow as she leans forward. "Don't you let him off easy. Make sure he apologizes."

You smile, glancing down at the floor. Her sudden affection has you feeling a little embarrassed. "Okay," you mumble.

A surprised cry erupts past your lips as she gives you a firm smack on the shoulder. "Now go talk to the squirt!"

As you climb the stairs you notice Sans standing by his —no, your— door, waiting for you. He must have teleported up there while Undyne had your attention. Frisk is standing with Papyrus, staring up at you with wide, concerned eyes.

"Why was Undyne yelling at Sans?" Frisk asks you, reaching out and taking hold of the front of your jeans. Their face scrunches up as they look up at you. "And why do you look like you were crying?"

You pull Frisk to you and stroke their hair as their arms go around your waist, hugging you. "Don't worry about it sweetie. There was an argument, but everything is going to be fine. Sans and I just need to talk. But it might take a while, so I don't know if I'm going to be able to say goodnight later."

"Is everything really going to be fine, or are you just saying that?" they ask, squeezing you tighter and grumbling into the softness of your stomach. "I don't want anything bad to happen!"

"Everything is going to be fine," you echo back to them, and when you look back over at Sans down the hall you can see him watching you. He's fidgeting a little, and he seems nervous. You're not sure if that's a good thing or not.

"Do you promise?"

"I promise."

"...Okay. Because I like it here."

"Me too."

When Frisk finally lets you go, you and Papyrus look at each other. There's a moment where you wonder if he's going to say something to you, and you can't help but think back to the morning that he warned you not to hurt Sans. But your concerns are quickly dashed as the tall skeleton claps his hand on Frisk's shoulder. As he asks them if they would like to return to their game that Undyne's shouts interrupted, you realize he's willingly serving as a distraction. You give him a silent 'thank you' and he nods in return before ushering Frisk back into the bedroom.

Alone in the hallway, you look at Sans. As your eyes meet again he opens the bedroom door and steps inside. You're caught between worry and anticipation, wanting to know if he meant what he said before but afraid to know if he didn't. You only hesitate for a moment. Staying out here in the hallway won't solve anything.

Sans is standing in the middle of the bedroom, waiting when you shut the door behind you. "i'm sorry," he blurts out, and he moves towards you as you rush towards him and you wrap each other up in your arms.

"I'm sorry too, I shouldn't have snapped at you," you say, burying your fingers in the back of his jacket as you tuck your head against his. You feel your throat tighten and tears prick your eyes.

"no, i should have just listened to you. you were upset and i was a jerk about it," he tells you, one hand buried into the thick waves of your hair to hold you close.

"I was just being dumb and insecure."

"no, no you weren't," he says, firmly. He tilts his head towards yours, smooth bone brushing your face. "you've been through so much, and sometimes i forget. that's my fault, not yours. of course you'd worry about that stuff with frisk. i'll talk to undyne and papyrus, we'll figure something out. i just want you to be happy, babe."

"I already talked to Undyne about it, earlier," you say, sniffling. "I just..." You swallow and try to resist the tears again, but you can't. Your voice cracks as you speak and you feel Sans hold you tighter. "P-please don't do that again. I can't... I thought you left!"

"i'm sorry," he says, rubbing small circles between your shoulders. You lean your weight on him as you cry, and he holds you up.

"Be mad at me, be angry, but please don't l-leave."

"i won't. if that's what you need, i won't."

"I'm sorry I snapped at you," you say again, because you just want everything to be okay.

"don't be. i screwed up."

"We both screwed up," you concede, sniffling and lifting your head enough so you can try to dry your face on your sleeve. "I... I guess this was going to happen eventually."

Sans pulls away enough so that he can look at you, and as the white lights of his eyes study your face he looks sad. "i hate knowing i made you cry," he says, voice low, and the frustration you hear is directed at himself.

You must be such a mess. Swallowing and sniffing to try and clear your nose, you turn away from him and wipe your face. Pulling yourself from his grip, you walk over to the bed and sit down, dragging your fingers through your hair. Your fingers catch on a tangle and you take a moment to pull it out.

Taking in a deep breath, you clear your throat once you feel a little put back together. Blinking and rubbing your eyes again, you look back up to see him watching you. His expression is solemn. "Are we okay?" you ask. You need to hear him say the words, or you'll keep worrying.

Sans comes to stand in front of you, nudging your knees apart so he can stand between them. He tucks your hair behind your ear as you look up at him, then he leans down to press his mouth to yours. You don't try to kiss much anymore, not in the traditional sense. You litter his face with kisses and he nuzzles you in return, because over the past month and a half you both figured out that unless tongues are involved, 'normal' kissing just doesn't work out. So when he 'kisses' you on the lips this time it feels significant. Like he's trying to show you something.

"of course we're okay," he says, pulling back just enough so that he can look you in the eyes. He cups your face in his hands and rubs a thumb along your cheekbone. The warmth of his bones is familiar and soothing. "i... i hope you know that i meant what i said earlier."

You can only stare as you wait for him to say more. You feel a little numb from everything, but even so something squeezes in your chest. Looking down to break eye contact, a hint of blue stains his face. "Do you?" you ask, your voice barely audible as you urge him to speak.

His eyes flick back to yours. "yes, i... shit, i never meant for you to hear it like that. i was gonna... i dunno, do something. anything other than shout it at undyne."

Your mouth twitches slightly as something inside you wants to smile. But you still feel so raw, even though you trust Sans it's so hard for you to believe him. How can he be sure? After everything, this still feels too good to be true. "But why?" you ask, searching his face.

"why do i...?" A small frown creases his brow and his hands fall away from your face. Your cheeks feel cold without his touch. "you don't believe me?"

Leaning forward, you rest your forehead against his sternum. His hands press against your shoulders, smoothing your hair down your back. He clears his throat. "or do you not feel..."

"No! That's not..." You hook your hands behind his legs, holding onto him. "I do, Sans. I just... It doesn't feel real. You said, before, that you were scared to be happy. I'm..." Your voice falters, and you press close against him. He hugs you. "I want to believe you, so much. But I'm scared."

"you told me not to be scared. you asked me if it was worth the risk."

"I know, it's just..." Squeezing your eyes shut, you draw in a shaky breath. "The last time I thought I was in love he left me. I thought I finally had someone who cared about me, who told me he loved me, and the second I found out..." Your grip on Sans tightens. He doesn't speak, like he knows you have more to say. "I understand why he left. Frisk and I weren't worth his future."

Sans eases you away from him, cupping your head in his hands and tilting you up to look at him. There's so much tenderness in his expression that it makes your chest ache. "i love you," he says, with so much sincerity you almost believe him. "and i'll gladly share my future with you. with both of you."

Your eyes well up with tears again, and as you smile an embarrassed laugh escapes you. "You're gonna make me cry again," you mumble, looking away and blinking to try and clear your vision.

"if they're happy tears, i'm okay with that," he says, leaning down to nuzzle your forehead. "but... i think you still have doubts."

You do. You want to tell him that you love him, because you do, but the admission catches in your throat at the thought of giving in. The parts of you that are afraid to give up that last scrap of safety, as if refusing to speak the words will protect you from heartache... they cling tight and refuse to let go.

"i think i know a way that i can show you, if you'll let me," he says. Sans removes a hand from your cheek to press over your chest. A tingling, warm feeling spreads under your skin.

It takes you a moment but you remember this feeling. You felt it when he coaxed your Soul from your chest before. What did your Soul have to do with this? But you trust Sans, and if he knows any way that might help... "Okay," you say.

Sans pulls his hands away from you and the tingling stops. He climbs onto the bed, sitting cross-legged as he gestures for you to join him. Obediently, you shift to sit directly in front of him, knees touching. You can't help but feel curious. "How is this going to help?" you ask.

Holding his hands out in front of him, you start to feel that warm, fuzzy feeling again. "i'm going to touch your soul. if it's anything like what i think it'll do... it'll give you an idea of how i feel." Before you can think of anything to say, he crooks his fingers and pulls his arms back towards his body.

Your wine-colored Soul lifts away from your chest and fills the space between you with a rich red glow. You aren't phased by the sight of it this time, or by the cracks that trace down the center, but... "Oh," you breathe, reaching up to try and cup your Soul in your hands, forgetting for a moment that it won't work. But you're so surprised, because the fracture at the top of the heart seems a little narrower, and you can almost swear that some of the smaller cracks look healed. Something like scars have mended them.

"that's... something i never thought i'd see," Sans admits, staring. He looks over your Soul to catch your eye, and when you look back at him he's smiling. "your soul started healing."

"Oh," you say again, because what else can you say to that?

Sans chuckles. "the healing power of love," he says with a wink.

You groan and he laughs harder.

"okay, sorry. while i'm glad, this isn't what i wanted to show you." Still grinning, looking more like his normal self, he returns his attention to your Soul. He raises his hands and as he inches closer towards it sweat starts to bead at his temples. "this might be, uh, a little intense."

That's the only warning he gives you, and it's an understatement. As his hands reach out and grasp your Soul, you gasp and reach forward to grab his legs. You can feel Sans, and you're aware of the fact that he can feel you too. His magic hums through his bones and fills him up, warmth spreading through him and through you, wrapping you up and making you feel safe. Safe. Safe and cherished and precious. Your eyes slide shut as your senses blur out of focus because it feels like you're seeing through two sets of eyes at once and it's making you dizzy. You choose to focus on that safe feeling instead, like being wrapped up in Sans's arms.

The more you pull the safeness around you, the more you start to feel. Passion and affection and wanting. The swelling fullness of love fills your chest until you think you might burst, and you think that maybe you might be crying. Or is Sans crying? You have no way of knowing, everything is smudging together and right now it doesn't matter. It's so overwhelming but so good and you feel yourself drawn deeper under the surface.

But as you slip beneath the happiness and love you begin to feel sobered. An uncomfortable buzz of static prickles through you, making you feel uneasy. Feelings brush against you like something slithering, sadness and fear and worry.

Then, all at once, it's gone. You snap back to yourself and you feel wetness on your cheeks and the dull ache in your head from all the tears you've shed today. Your eyes open in time to see your Soul slip back inside you, and when you look up at Sans he shakes his head. He's trembling beneath you, drawing in a shuddering breath.

"i'm sorry," he says, blinking hard. "that's not... that's not what i was trying to show you. you went too far. i wasn't expecting it."

"Did I...? I didn't mean to," you mumble. But that doesn't matter, because you felt everything on the surface, the love swelling up inside him —inside both of you. 

Before he can say anything else, you're crawling into his lap, wrapping your arms around him and holding him close. He melts under your touch as you press kisses along the side of his face and down his jaw. "i love you," he breathes. "i love you so much."

"I love you too, Sans," you finally answer, and you're smiling so wide you can't even stop to kiss him any more.

Chapter Text

When Sans wakes in the morning he's exhausted, despite the uninterrupted night of sleep. Bone-tired one might say. He can't even appreciate his own joke.

Touching your Soul was more overwhelming than he could have ever imagined. Everything about you, all your love and fear and hope swallowed him up and it was all he could do to keep his head above water. You overpowered him just by being human, leaving him vulnerable as you delved into him. If it had been anyone else, he would have been terrified. But it was you. You told him, before, that your Soul was his and now you know that his is yours too. He'll leave his Soul bare for you if that's what you need; the only reason he pulled away as you delved too deep is because he didn't want to worry you. You already know that he has problems, you've already offered him your support. Right now, you don't need to feel them too.

The experience left him drained. But afterwards you needed him, and damn him if he didn't need you too, so he urged himself through it for both of you until you collapsed together in an exhausted tangle of limbs and fell asleep with mumbled 'I love you's on your lips. An echo of your lovemaking still resonates through his bones, a struck chord that hums under the natural tone of his magic. Yesterday was a mess but... what the hell. Everything turned out for the best.

Hopefully he can get some more sleep while he's at his station in the forest today.

Sans feels you begin to stir, shifting your leg that's pressed between his. Your thigh brushing along his pelvis elicits a weak groan. You give a sleepy hum in response, hugging yourself against him and tucking your head under his chin. He trails his fingers up and down the bare curve of your hip, then reaches around to cup your backside. Soft flesh fills his hand and he gives a gentle squeeze.

"Good morning to you too," you mumble, chuckling. "Enjoying yourself?"

"assuredly," he says, grinning as you shake with laughter. "how did you sleep?"

"Like the dead," you say. He loves when you play along, he knows it means you're in a good mood.

He huffs a laugh. "me too. i'm bone-tired," he quips, certain you'll enjoy his mental joke from earlier. You do.

Trailing kisses along his clavicle, you shift your leg against him again, your fingers slipping between his ribs. He gasps as your touch sends a shudder through him, tightening his hold on you without thinking. "babe, i have to get up. pap is gonna come banging on the door any second," he says, his protest sounding weak even to himself.

You let out a resigned sigh and let him go, rolling away onto your back.

"hey," he says, propping himself up on an elbow to look down at you. You give him a small smile, so he knows you aren't actually upset. He leans down and nuzzles against your cheek and you make a contented sound. "lemme take you out tonight, after i get home."

"Grillby's?" you ask.

"yes, grillby's," he says. "but, i thought i might take you somewhere after. someplace you haven't been before."

"Oh?" you say, eyebrows raising.

"yeah. someplace i think you'll like."


Sans looks a lot more tired than usual, and when you ask him about it he says it's because of last night. From touching your Soul. You suppose it must have to do with him being a monster, because you feel just fine. Great, even. When your face pinches with worry he reassures you that he's alright.

Papyrus and Undyne are talking (loudly, as always) in the kitchen when you and Sans make your way downstairs. Frisk is nibbling on a piece of toast, eyes ping-ponging back and forth between them as Papyrus paces and Undyne leans back in her chair across from the six year-old.

"UNDYNE, AS YOUR FRIEND, I MUST INSIST! YOUR CONTINUED DAWDLING ISN'T HELPING ANYBODY!" the tall skeleton says, raising a hand in punctuation, the other tucked behind his back.

Grimacing, the fish monster takes a loud sip of her tea. "You know what else isn't helping anybody? Your nagging."

Papyrus turns on his heel and catches sight of you and Sans, his expression transforming from disapproving frown into a bright smile. "AH! GOOD MORNING! I..." he hesitates, bringing both hands in front of him as he glances between the two of you. "I HOPE EVERYTHING IS OKAY?"

Sans looks over at you and then back at his brother with his usual lazy grin. "everything's great, bro. but i appreciate you checking on us, that's really considerate of you."

"OF COURSE! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM THE MOST CONSIDERATE BROTHER!" he exclaims, shifting out of Sans's way as his brother heads for the cabinet he's standing in front of. You take the kettle off the stove and fill it with more water from the sink.

"definitely. now, uh, i don't mean to brother you, but would you mind getting two of those mugs down for me?" he says, winking and pointing.

Papyrus narrows his eyes slightly, but does as he's asked, setting them down in front of Sans. "IS THIS YOUR WAY OF FINALLY LISTENING TO ME, INSTEAD OF WASTING YOUR MAGIC ON BEING LAZY?"

"isn't it even lazier for me to ask you to do it for me?" He glances over at you as you sidle up beside him. "you can go sit down, babe, i got this."

You're about to protest but he's already scooping sugar into the mugs before you can say anything. You take a seat next to Frisk, stealing a half-slice of toast from their plate and biting into it. It's gone cold, but the butter is melted into the bread and it still tastes good. Frisk leans their head against your shoulder and you rest your cheek against it, smiling. You feel a swell of affection in your chest.

"UNDYNE, DO NOT THINK THAT I HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT," Papyrus says, plunking a bowl of oatmeal in front of you. You glance up at the skeleton and over at Undyne, dunking your toast in your oatmeal and taking a bite. "YOU SHOULD TALK TO ALPHYS."

Sans is behind you, reaching over your shoulder to set your mug down in front of you. You twist in your seat to kiss his cheek. He grins, leaning against the wall beside you and raising his own drink to his mouth.

"I talk to Alphys all the time!" she retorts, staring down into her mug.

"NOT ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS!" he says, shaking his head. "IT'S JUST LIKE A PUZZLE! YOU HAVE TO UNLOCK HER TRUE FEELINGS!"

"I HATE puzzles!" she says, glaring. After a moment, she lets out a frustrated noise. "Besides, what if her true feelings aren't what I think they are? ARGH that would be even WORSE than not knowing at all!"

You can't take this any more. It's just so obvious to you, how can she not see it? "Undyne, Alphys definitely likes you," you say between bites, pointing at her with your toast.

Undyne's face scrunches up and you think you see the scales of her cheeks darken to a purplish shade. Oh, wow, is she... blushing? You never thought you'd see the day. Sans gives a low chuckle behind you.

"SEE! EVEN THE HUMAN CAN TELL! HUMAN, YOU TALK SOME SENSE INTO HER WHILE MY BROTHER AND I ARE GONE," Papyrus says. You give an obedient nod, sipping at your coffee. You're starting to get used to the less-favorable taste. The skeleton taps his foot, glancing over at the clock on the stove. "OH! FRISK, WE NEED TO LEAVE SOON —YOU TOO SANS— SO YOU SHOULD GO CHANGE! WE DON'T WANT TO BE LATE!"

The loud sound of Undyne clearing her throat fills the kitchen, and as you look up from your breakfast you see her giving Papyrus a stern look. Frisk stops mid-motion as they start to slide out of their chair, looking confused.

Papyrus hesitates, just as perplexed, until his eyes widen. "OH! I MEAN. HUMAN!" he turns to you, gesturing. "IF YOU DON'T MIND, WE WILL TAKE FRISK TO SCHOOL."

You blink. "Oh, uh, of course. That's fine."

"EXCELLENT! NOW FRISK, WE WILL WAIT FOR YOU HERE!"

You glance over at Undyne as Frisk rushes out of the kitchen. When you catch her eye, she gives you a toothy smile and a forceful blink. Oh, wait, was that supposed to be a wink? You hold back a laugh. You see what they're trying to do, and you can't help but smile. Nodding back at Undyne, you wonder how you ever could have been frustrated with your friends. They're so sincere.

"hey, bro. do you mind watching the kiddo tonight?" Sans slides into Frisk's vacated seat beside you, tipping his drink into his mouth. "we were kinda hoping to go out, y'know?"

"OF COURSE! NO PROBLEM AT ALL! IN FACT, I THINK THERE IS A METTATON MOVIE MARATHON ON TONIGHT! WE COULD HAVE A MOVIE NIGHT!" Papyrus says, grinning.

"Ugh," Undyne groans.

"NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO STAY HERE AND WATCH MOVIES WITH US," Papyrus says. "HMM. IN FACT, YOU COULD ALWAYS GO SEE ALPHYS INSTEAD!"

Her face cracks into an anxious smile. "WHAT? No way, and miss out on all those... GREAT movies?"

The tall skeleton is about to say something more when Frisk comes stomping down the steps, shrugging their backpack over their shoulders. They slide past Papyrus to come give you a hug and a rushed kiss on the cheek. Then, they turn to Sans and fling their arms around his neck, surprising him. He meets your eyes from over Frisk's shoulder as he gives them a quick hug, and you feel a swell of affection in your chest. You smile at each other. Then, Frisk lets go and circles around him to stand next to Papyrus.

"I'm ready!" they announce.

"no you're not, kiddo, you almost forgot your lunch again," Sans says, draining the last of his coffee and standing. He opens the fridge and pulls out a brown paper sack, unzipping Frisk's backpack and stowing it safely inside. "now you're ready." He ruffles Frisk's hair.

"IF WE ARE ALL PREPARED, WE SHOULD GET GOING!" Papyrus says.

"just a sec." Sans comes to your side and leans down to hug you. You turn to press a handful of kisses against his jaw. As he lets you go, he gives you one last, quick brush of his mouth against your temple. "have a good day. i'll see you tonight... i love you."

Your smile widens, your cheeks warming as your heart feels full in your chest. "I love you too."

Blue stains Sans's cheeks as he pulls away, shoving his hands in his pockets. "good. that's... good," he mumbles. He clears his throat. "ok, i guess we're gonna go now."

"Okay, hun," you say, covering your mouth in an attempt to stop yourself from laughing. His sudden shyness is too endearing.

"see you later."

"Okay."

There's an adorably awkward pause and then Papyrus finally seems to take pity on him and ushers him towards the front door. Sans gives you a tiny wave and you respond in kind, laughing. When the three of them finally leave, you realize that you must have a goofy smile on your face because Undyne is staring, grinning at you.

"What?" you ask her, blushing deeper and snatching up your coffee in an attempt to hide your face.

"You two. Shit, you've got it bad," Undyne says, barking out a laugh.

You arch a brow, taking a sip from your mug and setting it back down. You give your oatmeal a stir. "Look who's talking. Or should I say not talking. As in, why haven't you talked to Alphys yet?"

Her expression sours, frowning into her own cup. "Oh come on, I really don't want to talk about this."

"I'm under strict orders from Papyrus. Besides, what are you worried about? We can all see that she likes you. She can barely string two words together when you're around, and aren't you two texting like, all the time?" You eat a spoonful of your oatmeal. It's cold, but still tastes good. Besides, you're hungry.

"You AND Papyrus should really mind your own business," she snaps, but there's no real venom in her voice. She rolls the mug between her hands, hunching forward with her elbows on the table.

"Undyne... are you... worried about something?" you ask, carefully.

She doesn't answer, so you decide not to press any further. It won't do either of you much good if she just gets mad at you. You finish the rest of your breakfast in silence, with Undyne casting periodic looks at her cellphone. She stays tense, glancing up at you like she's waiting for you to say something. But you don't.

Finally, as you get up to wash your dishes, Undyne lets out a ragged sigh.

"She..." Undyne clears her throat, the chair scraping along the tile as she pushes away from the table and joins you at the sink. "When Alphys really gets passionate about something, she just BLURTS everything out without thinking! But when she talks to me, she clams up and starts getting sweaty. Sometimes I think I'm just making her scared and uncomfortable. If she really liked me, like she cares about those other things, wouldn't it be the same? Maybe I'm just intimidating her into talking to me."

You look over at her, surprised at the uncertainty in her voice. "Well, you are kind of scary," you admit, chuckling as she shoots you a glare. "And I'll bet you ten bucks— er, gold that she's just as worried as you are. I'm sure if you just took the chance and talked to her you'd work things out in no time."

Undyne grumbles, setting her mug beside the sink and turning away, crossing her arms over her chest. "And what if you're wrong?"

"I can try to talk to her for you, if you want. Find out for sure," you say, shrugging.

"NO WAY!" she blurts out, whirling back around to face you. You jump a little, splashing water on the counter. "Don't you say ANYTHING to her, punk!" Undyne clenches her fist in front of her, baring sharp teeth.

"Okay, okay, got it," you say, trying your best to placate the angry fish monster. Undyne fixes you with her glare, and you wait a few moments for her to suck in a deep breath before she finally lowers and relaxes her fist. "But I'm serious. If you ever need any help with Alphys, you can talk to me. I like to think I'm at least a little more reasonable and, well, tactful than Papyrus. It's the least I can do after you helped me."

"Tch. FINE. If I ever change my mind, which ISN'T likely, I'll let you know." Then she turns on her heel and stalks off.

You shake your head, wondering if those two will ever manage to work our their feelings. You really hope so.

Chapter Text

You're standing outside of Grillby's, waiting for Sans and watching your breath leave your mouth in puffs of white. Part of you would rather wait inside where it's warm. Most of you, really. Especially the cold bits. But you've caught Sans looking at a particular picture of you on his phone, outside Grillby's and lit by orange neon just like this. Usually you hate having your picture taken, and if you had known he was taking it you probably would have fussed. But even you have to admit it's a lovely shot of you, and if you can recreate that image for him, you'll do it. You've even got on that green, waterproof army surplus jacket that you're wearing in it. You picked it up from Snowdin's shop a few weeks ago when you realized you'd be staying.

"hey beautiful, come here often?" 

Turning at the sound of Sans's deep voice, you can't help but smile, flushed from the cold and his compliment. He gives you a charming wink the second he sees you looking, grinning wide. You think he must have slept at his station because he seems a lot more rested than he did earlier. Hopefully Papyrus never caught on.

You make a noncommittal noise as Sans comes closer, shrugging and trying to tamp down your smile. "Yeah, but only because my boyfriend doesn't know anyplace better."

"oh, then he must have excellent taste. everyone knows that grillby's is the best place in town."

"It's the only place in town," you say, trying not to laugh.

"keep talking like that and i'm gonna tell grillby you don't like his cooking. and trust me, you don't want to see him all fired up." Sans is at your side now, pulling his hands out of his pockets to reach out and take hold of your jacket. He tugs you close, then pulls you down so he can graze toothy kisses along your jaw.

You're giggling from the joke and his ministrations, tucking in close against him and wrapping your hands around his wrists. "I'd hate to ignite any arguments," you murmur against his skull, pressing your cold nose against warm bone.

"i'm sure i could douse him before he gets too hot under the collar," Sans says, eliciting a snort from you that makes him chuckle. He releases your jacket and pulls away, brushing a bit of hair from your face. "c'mon, lets get you inside. you didn't have to wait out here in the cold."

You take his hand and let him lead you to the door. "Well, I wanted to."

The rush of warm air inside the bar is welcome against your skin. You let out a sigh of relief as you step in, glancing around to take in the familiar surroundings. Dogamy and Dogaressa are both missing, but you give Doggo a vigorous wave, making sure he can see you. He tips his head and raises a paw in greeting. Greater Dog gives you puppy eyes and scoots in his chair to lean towards you until you walk over to pet him. His tongue lolls out of his mouth and he tilts into your fingers. After a few moments of this you give him one last pat and go to join Sans at the bar in your usual place.

"yeah, yeah, no need to give me that look," Sans is saying to Grillby as you take your seat.

Grillby's expression is decidedly smug, one hint of an eyebrow arched above his glasses. It lowers as he glances over at you, giving you a welcoming nod. Though he doesn't have a mouth that you can see, something about his face seems to crinkle into a smile. 

You smile in return. "Hey Grillby. Hope you're doing well?"

He nods again, then glances over at Sans again before disappearing back into the kitchen.

"i ordered the usual, hope that's okay with you," Sans says, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the bar.

"Sure, that's fine," you say. You gesture at the door Grillby went through. "What was all that about? With Grillby?"

Sans shakes his head, smiling. "nothing, just a little bit of gloating on his part."

"Gloating? From Grillby?" You give him an incredulous look. "What could he possibly be gloating about?"

"helping me out last night. i came here," he says, tentatively. He makes a sound like he's clearing his throat, shifting a little bit on the barstool.

"Oh." You hadn't really given much thought to where Sans went when he stormed off last night, but... "Well, at least now I know where to come looking if you're upset," you say, trying to sound casual.

"i told you i wouldn't do that again, and i meant it," he says, holding your gaze as he searches your face. You give him an affectionate smile and he seems to relax.

"Duly noted," you say, brushing aside the topic. There are other things you'd rather talk about. "So, where are you taking me after dinner?" You arch a brow, giving him him a playful look.

Sans leans towards you, sliding his elbows across the bar and grinning. "if i wanted you to know, i would have told you this morning," he says. The lights in his eyes are bright with amusement.

"You're no fun."

"you'll see soon enough, babe." Sans leans back in his seat as Grillby returns with your food, setting the plates down in front of you. He puts down a fresh bottle of ketchup on the bar and leaves the two of you to your —relative— privacy. Sans picks up a crisp French fry and points at you with it. "i wouldn't want to spoil the surfries."

You try your hardest to resist the urge to smile, but you don't think you quite manage. San's grin widens to shit-eating levels. "And what would you have said if Grillby didn't just so happen to bring our food out right at that moment?"

He gives the counter in front of him a pat with his hand, his bones giving a soft clatter against wood. "i hope the wait isn't too unbarable." You think you can hear his bones rattling with how hard he's trying not to laugh at the look on your face.

"I'm torn between laughing and crying, I don't even know what to say to that," you say, shaking your head.

Sans finally splutters out a laugh, and you can't resist any longer; you're laughing too.


You should have expected this, since you've been mentioning wanting to come here since Frisk told you about it over a month ago. Sure, you could have taken it upon yourself to make the walk, but it feels much more special coming here with Sans. Waterfall really is beautiful.

The contrast of dark stone and grass against the glowing water is ethereal and otherworldly. Bright faceted crystals sparkle far above your head, and you can see how the monsters might pretend that they're stars. Between them and the glow from the water there's just enough light for you to make out your surroundings. Up ahead, tucked along the dark, winding path are tall, large-petaled blue flowers.

It's damp and a little humid here in Waterfall. Definitely warmer than in Snowdin; you had to strip off your outermost layer and tie the sleeves around your middle before you started to sweat. You're much more comfortable with just your light cotton jacket.

Sans has his arm around your waist as you walk, your own curled around his back. Tucked under his other arm he has a telescope that he picked up from the passageway you just exited. It had been tucked behind a few rocks for safekeeping. When you asked him what it was for, he just smiled and evaded your question. You're sure you'll find out soon enough.

"if you're quiet, you'll be able to hear voices from those blue flowers up ahead," he tells you, giving you a small squeeze. "they're called echo flowers. they repeat the last thing that they hear."

As you approach the first one Sans lets you go, nudging you forward. You hesitate, unsure of what to do, but go up to it and lean down to press your ear close to the blossom. You can hear a quiet, tinny voice. "I hope I find something cool at the garbage dump today!"

"What, that's it?" you blurt out, frowning at the flower. It echoes your own words back to you in that same high voice.

"what were you expecting? they just echo anything," Sans says, speaking just above a whisper. He shrugs at you as you return to his side.

You continue walking, passing by mushrooms glowing the same shade as the water. The lily pads and water sausages growing in the slow-moving streams are so dark in contrast they're nearly black. Finally, picking a spot near the water, Sans pulls the telescope from under his arm and gets to work positioning the legs. You crouch down next to the bank, staring down into the liquid. Cupping some of it in your hand, you tilt your palm and watch the glowing water shift along your skin. There must be something in it that makes it glow like that. It must be bioluminescent or something. When you empty your hand back into the stream, a few bright blue droplets cling to your skin. Without thinking you wipe your palm against your jeans, leaving a wet streak that glows for a few moments before starting to fade.

Sans is just about done tightening the now-extended legs of the telescope when you stand back up. He wiggles the body of it experimentally to make sure it's stable, then stands back, satisfied. "do you wanna get a closer look at some of those crystals?" he asks you, gesturing to the eyepiece.

As you lean over to take hold of the telescope Sans makes a startled noise and stops you, pulling out a handkerchief. He wipes down the eyepiece and the lens at the end, checking and double-checking before finally offering it back to you.

"sorry, almost forgot. woulda been a bit of an eyesore if i hadn't remembered. red ink on the telescope is pretty classic," Sans says, looking a little embarrassed.

You rub your finger around the edge, and when it comes away clean you let yourself finally look. The view is a little fuzzy. With a vague idea of how it works, you twist a knob one way and then the other, until it starts coming into focus. Crystals of all colors are embedded into the stone, large and small, casting light down into the caverns of Waterfall. You wonder how something so strange can exist down here without anyone on the surface knowing. But then again, the monsters have been down here so long that humans don't even remember that they exist. How much of the world have humans just forgotten? Well, magic, for starters, you suppose.

The crystals are beautiful, but... the telescope just reminds you that what you're seeing aren't stars. Layers of rock separate you from the real stars, and all at once you feel their loss heavy in your chest. Not even for yourself, but for Sans and Papyrus, for Alphys and Undyne and even Mettaton. For Frisk.

Leaning back, you straighten and look back up unassisted, and you think you prefer the illusion.

"this is probably the prettiest place in the underground. snowdin's nice and peaceful, and the capital has some interesting architecture if that's your thing. but there's something special about waterfall. there's actually a room further in where water drips down, like it's raining," Sans says, and he sounds pleased. You feel his hands on your waist as he comes up behind you, resting his chin on your shoulder.

"It's beautiful here," you agree, threading your fingers between his and pulling his arms to enfold you completely. You lean back into the sturdy weight of him behind you, tilting your head to touch his. "But I wish you could see the real stars. And real rain. I wish there was an easier way to get everyone to the surface. Something that doesn't involve... killing one of us."

Sans's grip on you tightens. "i'm more than happy to stay down here if it means having you and frisk with me, safe. that's not a trade i'd ever be willing to make."

"I wouldn't ask you to. I just want to show you so much. I want to take you to the beach and show you the ocean, and into the city where we have skyscrapers that literally reach the clouds. And clouds you've never seen clouds!" You squeeze your eyes shut, sighing. "Rain, and thunderstorms that make the windows rattle they're so loud. And sunlight, and rainbows. The moon! You have pretend stars, but you don't have a pretend moon down here..."

Sans is quiet as you trail off. You squeeze his fingers between yours. He makes a quiet hum before speaking, his voice hesitant. "do you miss it? being on the surface?"

Releasing his hands you twist around in his embrace to face him. His eyes are a little dim as he looks up at you, and his smile seems forced. "Of course I miss it," you tell him, catching the side of his face as he tries to look away. "But I'd never give this up to go back there. Not without you. I..." You push through the hesitation; it's still hard to say the words. You feel an unwarranted thrill of fear that this will be the time he doesn't say them back. "I love you."

"i love you too," he says, and his smile turns genuine. You smile back as he leans forward to nuzzle into your neck with a sigh. "let me show you more of waterfall. maybe our rain down here will remind you of home."

"Of course it will. Because this is my home."

Chapter Text

Maybe standing around in the rain at Waterfall isn't such a good idea. Sans tries to keep you under the umbrella but you keep wandering away, until finally your clothes are soaked straight through. Not to mention your socks are wet and squishy in your shoes, which is making you cringe.

You spend about half an hour walking back home, and the closer you get to Snowdin the colder you get. You don't want to complain because it's your own fault you're sopping wet, and it takes a few moments before Sans realizes you're shivering. Chastising you gently, he pulls you close and you feel the familiar lurching sensation in your stomach as you're suddenly somewhere else. Closer to home, but much colder. You let out a startled gasp at the change in temperature and you teleport again with Sans murmuring an apology in your ear. He can't move too far in one go.

Shivering more violently than you'd like, you're back in your shared bedroom, stripping out of your wet layers with the help of your concerned boyfriend. Sans's hands are blissfully warm against your cold skin as he peels off your shirt and dumps it on the treadmill. You use your feet to wedge your sneakers off, then get to work on wriggling out of your jeans. Sopping wet denim has to be one of the worst things in the world. Your underwear ends up pulling off along with your pants but you don't really care, they're soaked too and not in a good way. Reaching around behind you, you unhook your bra as Sans turns to grab the thick comforter from the bed.

"come here, babe. you're chilled to the bone," he says, draping the blanket around your shoulders and pulling you close.

You let out a weak laugh, pressing in close and tucking your ice cold nose under his jaw. He's completely unfazed by the contact, and his inhuman warmth feels so good against you. But you need more. You duck your chilled hands under his jacket and shirt, hunting his ribs with your fingers. He lets out a small groan as you press as much of your arms to his body as you can.

"You're so nice and warm," you murmur, humming with pleasure.

"here, let me..." Sans trails off, pulling away and wrapping the blanket around you. You let out a small sound of protest before realizing what he's doing. He's pulling off his own clothes, and if you weren't still so cold you might muster up a suggestive brow waggle. But at the moment you're just holding the comforter in fisted hands and waiting for him to finish so you can wrap him up with you.

Stripped down to bare bones, Sans takes a seat on the edge of the bed, holding a hand out to you. You crawl onto his lap, straddling his legs and wrapping your arms —and the blanket— around his shoulders. Shoulders hunched and shivering, you let out a pleased sigh as Sans rubs his warm hands up and down your body. From your knees pressed into the bed beside his hips, up your thighs, along the curve of your backside, to your back and shoulders, spreading out to both your arms, and then back again.

"Ahh, that feels so good," you groan, arching into his touch. As the cold starts to seep away and your shivering lessens, you trail open-mouthed kisses along his clavicle. His hands spasm against you, fingers grabbing at your thighs in a way you don't think is intentional. You smile to yourself.

"you keep doing that and i'm gonna warm you up in other ways, babe," Sans says in a tight voice, hands dragging up your legs to take hold of your hips.

"Mmm," is your only answer, rocking your hips and grinding down against the jut of his pelvis. The hard pressure on the outside of your folds is sweet against your clit. You feel a thrill of pleasure from the sensation and the choked noise that escapes Sans.

"so that's how you want it, then?" he asks, his voice canted so low you can feel it in your chest as you're pressed against him.

You raise your head in time to see a flicker of blue ignite in his left eye as the white lights vanish. A familiar, warm pressure rests against you, and soft blue light fills the darkness inside the blanket. You give another rock of your hips to brush against his cock, and Sans's eye flickers as he bites back a groan. He tugs on your hips and you let him urge you up onto your knees, positioning yourself over him. But you wait, kneeling. Taking hold of both ends of the comforter in one hand, you free your right and reach for his face, trailing your fingertips lightly over the curve of his cheekbone.

Sans holds your gaze for a moment until your hand slips down to the vertebrae in his neck. A weak moan escapes him and he tilts his head to the side, his grip tightening on your hips as he presses down. But you refuse to budge. Instead you lower your head to replace your seeking fingers with your tongue, eliciting a gasp.

"shit," Sans breathes, shuddering. "babe..."

Your free hand slides down his spine and whatever Sans was going to say dies in his throat. As you reach lower he reaches higher until he's cupping the soft weight of your breasts in his hands. You give a breathy moan as his thumbs brush across your nipples, and you wrap your hand around the length of his spine. Then, you stroke down with your fingers at the same time that you lower your hips to drag the head of his cock between your legs, teasing him at your entrance for a moment before shifting just enough to rub against your clit instead.

Sans's moan turns into a deep growl of frustration, and he squeezes your breasts. As you raise yourself back up only to give him another teasing stroke, he drags his fingers down your sides to take hold of your waist again. When you resist the guiding pressure on your hips, he tucks his head into the crook of your neck. Then, he makes a low sound as his teeth press into the soft flesh of your shoulder.

Gasping, your head falls to the side, savoring the pleasure that heats your skin and the small bit of pain that makes it that much sweeter. "Ahh, that's cheating," you say with a sharp intake of breath as he relaxes his jaw and then bites down again, softer this time. 

He lets go of your shoulder and you feel the warm softness of his tongue laving over your skin. "you're one to talk," he mutters, pulling down with his hands and rocking his hips to try and meet you.

With an amused hum, you tease him at your entrance again, and right as Sans starts to let out a relieved sigh you angle away. You brush your fingers along his spine as he pulls back his head to look at you. His left eye is bright, his brow furrowed and dotted with sweat. "What?" you ask, innocently.

"babe, please," he groans, searching your face. He tries to pull you back up onto your knees but you just rub against him. "please, i need you. come on."

"If you don't like it," you murmur, lips curling as you look at him with lidded eyes. "Then do something about it."

You can see the cogs turning in his head, the struggle between what you know he wants and what he's afraid to do. He's always so in control, and you want to push past that. He's almost there. Letting go of the blanket and shrugging it off of you, you arch your back and put yourself on display. Both your hands come to rest on his shoulders, making him look up at you. "You just have to take what you want," you press. "I'm giving you permission."

The hungry look on his face turns ravenous as you feel him tense beneath you. Then, he wraps his arms around your hips, lifting you up with a startled noise and dumping you over on the bed beside him. You end up on your hands and knees, and as you're about to right yourself you feel the mattress shift behind you.

"i think i want you just like this," Sans says in a low voice that goes straight to your pelvis. One hand grabs your hip, and you feel his knees between your calves.

His free hand squeezes your ass and then dips down to the join of your legs. You gasp and press back against his touch as he slides the tips of his fingers along your folds. With a low hum, two fingers slip inside of you with ease. But before you can even savor it they're gone again. A weak whine escapes you and you settle down onto your forearms, forehead resting on the bed.

"you look so sexy like that," Sans groans, and then he's holding onto both of your hips and he eases himself inside of you.

You moan, twisting the sheets beneath you in your hands. As much as you've been teasing him you've been teasing yourself and having him finally inside of you feels so good. Sans starts a steady rhythm, holding you in place as he thrusts. Each breath comes out as a gasping cry, muffled by your arm.

"shit, you were driving me crazy," he breathes, pulling you hard against him as you moan.

Sans grinds against you, pressing deeper until you let out a ragged cry. He relaxes his grip on your hips and pulls back, resuming his steady pace. One arm curls around you. He rolls a nipple between his fingers and drags down your stomach, making you shudder. Then, with a familiar soft texture over his phalanges, he starts rubbing small circles against your clit.

Heat pools low in your belly but your legs are trembling and you're struggling to focus. "Sans," you gasp, another thrust deep inside you making you forget what you were going to say. 

"come for me, babe. i want to hear you," he says, running the hand that was on your hip up your spine.

"I can't," you whine, desperate for release. "I can't like this."

"i've got you, i know what to do," he murmurs, dragging his hand down your back as he pulls out of you.

Sans eases you over onto your side and then onto your back, spreading your legs as he settles between them. You're trying to push damp hair away from your face, breathing deeply as he grabs hold of your ankle and hooks his elbow under your knee. He pulls you closer and thrusts deep, eliciting a gasp that bottoms out into a moan as his fingers find your clit again.

With slow strokes of his hand and cock, you're soon pushed over the edge, back arching as you cry out. The tension in your core slowly unwinds as Sans eases you through the waves of pleasure. When your body starts to relax, he pulls his hand away and falls forward over you, groaning as he thrusts his hips. Trembling and nearly euphoric, you manage to hook your ankles around his back.

He presses his forehead to yours, and as you blink your eyes open you can see the bright glow of blue in his left socket, almost hidden behind heavy lids. Settling down onto his elbows, he slips his forearms under you and takes hold of your shoulders. His fingers dig in almost painfully as he pumps into you at a fevered pace. Your eyes squeeze back shut as you're overwhelmed and moaning beneath him, hooking your fingers into his back.

With one last, deep thrust Sans lets loose a ragged moan, gasping as he goes still. He stays rigid for a moment before letting out a shaky breath, tilting his head to nuzzle your cheek and throat. You smile and let out a breathy laugh, pressing lazy, open-mouthed kisses along his skull. Slowly he relaxes his hands and eases his arms out from under you, collapsing beside you on the bed. His eye gives one last flicker before going out, soon replaced by familiar pinpricks of white.

"babe, that was..." he begins, sucking in a steadying breath. "i love you."

"Yes," you agree, smiling at what he's unable to say. "And I love you too."

He reaches out and cups your hip, which you realize feels a little tender. You glance down and notice some suspiciously finger-shaped red marks on your skin. Sans follows your line of sight and manages to sit up, hand trailing lightly over your body. His brow furrows in concern.

"Don't you dare," you say, catching his hand before he can speak. "That was amazing, and don't you dare feel bad."

His eyes flick up to your face but then fall down to look at your shoulders. "you've got marks there too," he says, expression tense as he reaches up to trace the slope of your shoulder.

"Good," you insist, reaching up to pull him down to you. "I'd do the same to you if I could. I like knowing where you've been."

"you're sure you're okay?" Sans asks, but you think he sounds a little more at ease. Maybe a little pleased with himself.

"Yes, hun. I swear. You need to stop worrying so much and just enjoy yourself. You can't be careful all the time," you say, rolling close to him as he settles down beside you. He drapes his arm over your side, holding you.

"is that what you were trying to do? frustrate me enough to stop being careful?"

"Exactly. And it worked. Wonderfully."

Sans nuzzles against you, yawning. "i'll forgive you for teasing me like that, but don't think i'm not gonna get some payback later," he mumbles.

"Wait, don't fall asleep yet, we need the comforter," you protest, trying to move from his grasp but it's too late. His arms are heavy around you and he doesn't answer. Thankfully, your boyfriend is nice and warm.

Chapter Text

It takes a few days for the marks to fade enough for you to risk wearing anything that might show your shoulders, and almost a full week for them to completely disappear. You're a little sad to see them fade, the traces Sans left on your body. You were honest with him when you said that you liked knowing where he's been. But by the end of the second week since that night you've got a nice bite mark that has Sans apologizing the morning after. Honestly it looks worse than it feels, and you don't regret getting it in the least.

Unfortunately it's right in the crook of your neck, so unless you wear turtlenecks for the next week someone's going to see. When you make your way downstairs Papyrus and Frisk seem to buy your lame excuse of tripping over the treadmill in Sans's room, but Undyne just gives you a toothy grin and holds back a laugh. Later, when the two of you are alone, she teases you about it. You retaliate with way too much information on your sex life until she makes a hasty retreat into the bathroom.

Frisk hits the one month mark at Snowdin's school (and two months in the Underground). In honor of the occasion, their teacher throws an impromptu party for the class and invites you to come along. You bake some of Frisk's favorite chocolate chip cookies and spend the day helping out. Afterwards, the teacher surprises you with a handful of photos from the past month. On the top of the stack is one from today, with Frisk laying across your lap as the two of you talk to Kid. It's strange, because in the moment you remember feeling drained from helping wrangle children. But in this picture you look happy, and Frisk's easy affection with you makes you smile. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to make you reflect on these simple joys.

The rest of the photos are of Frisk at school, playing with Kid and the others. There's one where they're focused on drawing something at their desk, tip of their tongue poking out the corner of their mouth in concentration. You decide to add the collection to Frisk's drawings stuck to the fridge. You're sure that Sans will want to see them, too.

You've accompanied Undyne to Alphys's lab a few times now, with and without Frisk. At first Sans isn't too keen on the idea, and one time while he's working in Hotland he pops in to visit. Eventually he seems reassured that you're safe enough with the two monsters. So now, as you and Undyne head out alone to catch a ride with the Riverperson, Sans just reminds you to call him if you need him and tells you to have fun.

It's nice getting away from Snowdin from time to time, and out of the house. You make friendly conversation with the Riverperson as they take you through the waterways of the Underground, answering polite inquiries about Frisk. You're flattered that they remember the two of you.

When you step off the boat and into Hotland proper, you cast a questioning glance over at Undyne. "So, is today gonna be the day you finally say something?" you ask her, just like you do every time you come here with her.

And just like every other time Undyne casts a fierce glare at you. "Let's just get out of this heat, punk," she snaps, leading the way up to the lab.

Chuckling to yourself, you follow obediently. As much as you'd just like to lock these two dorks in a closet until they work out their feelings you promised Undyne to stay out of it.

Alphys has a day of anime planned for the three of you, which is pretty typical. But, it seems she's finally decided it's time for you to partake in her absolute favorite show, Mew Mew Kissy Cutie. She'd started you on some classics once she found out that you'd never watched much anime before. You have to admit, most of it is pretty good. And thankfully you like to read because Alphys refuses to watch any of it dubbed.

While you spend the day watching TV in a corner of the lab, you're also sneaking peeks at the two monsters. Undyne keeps leaning in close to talk to Alphys to try not to disturb you, and every time she does it the doctor just breaks out into a sweat and giggles nervously. At one point when Undyne scoots closer, Alphys lets out an anxious squeak and exclaims, "O-oh this is my favorite part!" interrupting the fish monster's attempt at putting her arm behind her on the couch. Frustrated and looking a bit put out, Undyne meets your gaze. You try to give her a reassuring look, but she just grimaces and leans away from Alphys.

Pulling out your phone, you send a text to Sans out of your need to vent. 'I swear I'm going to just blurt out that they should kiss just to put them out of their misery...'

A few moments later your phone buzzes with his reply. 'u shd. at this rate theyre nvr goin 2 do it.'

'I can't... I promised Undyne I wouldn't.'

'theyll 4give u aftr seein u helped.'

Alphys clears her throat noisily and you know you've been caught. You pocket your phone, returning your attention to the television.

As you're heading back to Snowdin later, Undyne finally cracks under the pressure while floating through Waterfall. She leans forward in her seat on the boat, elbows on her knees and fingers digging into her hair. Staring down at the wood beneath her feet, she lets out a ragged sigh of frustration. "FINE, I give up!" she blurts out, making you jump. "Do something, anything, please! Help me with Alphys!"

You give her an incredulous look, silent long enough for her to look up at you to see why you aren't speaking. Running your hand through your hair, you let out a sigh, giving her a wry smile. "You couldn't have said this before we left Hotland?"

"Tch! Are you going to help me or not, punk?" she snaps, gritting her teeth.

"Of course I am."


The next day you decide to take Frisk with you and drop by the lab to surprise Alphys. Sans is working and Papyrus and Undyne are busy at the fish monster's house so today is as good as any for the two of you to go to Hotland.

The Riverperson is humming a jaunty tune as Frisk reaches over the side to run their fingers through the water. You hold their other hand, mostly to make yourself feel better. The rational part of you is sure that they won't fall out, but you'd rather not risk it. Frisk doesn't seem to mind your fretting, glancing over their shoulder to give you a toothy grin.

"Maybe I can ask Alphys to help me with my science homework?" Frisk asks you, wiping their wet fingers off on their jacket. It's a newer one, a light zip-up hoodie in orange and yellow stripes (the kids you've seen here in the Underground all wear stripes, and Frisk is eager to fit in). It's enough to keep them comfortable until you reach Hotland. Underneath they're wearing a matching striped tank-top.

"Sans already said he'd help you with your homework tonight after he gets home," you tell them, squeezing their small hand. "Besides, you didn't bring it with you."

"But I can still ask her questions. About what I remember," they say, freeing their fingers from yours and shoving their hands in the pockets of their jacket. You're sure that they picked up the habit from watching Sans. It makes you smile.

"Sure you can, sweetie," you say, brushing their hair out of their eyes. Their thick hair is longer now than it was when you first arrived in the Underground, but they still fuss when you talk about trimming it. "I'm sure Alphys would love that."

Alphys has a soft spot for Frisk a mile wide, barely stuttering when they talk. She's also gotten better when talking to you, especially about Sans. Her eyes go starry and distant when you discuss your relationship, in the same way they do when she goes off on a tangent about anime. It's a little strange, but endearing at the same time. You see why Undyne likes her passion. And it's nice to have someone to talk to that doesn't live in the same house.

Not for the first time you debate if you should text Alphys to let her know you're coming. But you really want your visit to be a surprise, especially with Frisk in tow.

As you stand in front of the lab, sweating in Hotland's arid heat, you realize that this may have been a poor decision. Your faded, rose-colored jacket is knotted around your waist, but your jeans and button-up blouse are still too hot. Even Frisk, down to their tank-top looks sweaty and uncomfortable.

There's no answer at the door when you knock, and with another cursory glance you see there's no sign of a doorbell. Just a button to open the mechanical door. Thinking back, you remember that Undyne never bothers to knock, just lets herself in. Personally you think it's a little rude but... you're desperate to get out of the heat. You give one last loud bang on the door, before shrugging at Frisk and pressing the button. The entrance opens with a soft whirring noise and you usher the two of you inside.

"Alphys?" you call out, your voice echoing off the smooth metallic surfaces that make up most of the lab. You use the sleeve of your jacket to wipe the sweat from your brow as you glance around. There's no sign of the short yellow lizard anywhere that you can see. "Alphys, are you home?"

Silence.

"Maybe she went out," Frisk says, glancing up the escalator that leads down from the second floor.

You're about to speak when the door that you thought is supposed to lead to a bathroom slides open.

"Close but no cigar, darling!" Mettaton croons, wagging an oversized finger as he rolls into the room. He stops just past the door. "She actually went down. Down this elevator, in fact! I can take her to you if you'd like."

Mettaton has dropped in on your visits with Alphys on more than one occasion, so seeing him now is surprising but not unusual. He's always been polite and flattering, if maybe a little excessively so, and over the past couple weeks you've chalked up Sans's concerns as thinly veiled jealousy. Besides, what reason could he possibly have to hurt you?

"I didn't realize that there was a downstairs," you say, earning yourself a friendly chuckle from the robot.

"It's where the good doctor keeps all her real work, you see," he says, his red and yellow display blinking to show a crude smiley face.

Nodding, you take hold of Frisk's hand. They look up at you, a little uncertain. You flash a reassuring smile. "C'mon, let's go find Alphys."

"Excellent, just follow me, my beauties!" Mettaton says, gesturing with his noodle-like arms.

The two of you follow the rectangular robot into the elevator. It's a little crowded, but you manage. Frisk gives you another uncertain look and you squeeze their hand.

When the doors open, the room in front of you is dark. It takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust as Mettaton urges you out of the elevator. Blinking and rubbing your face, you realize that it's strangely quiet down here. The only light comes from thin green emergency lighting strips set into the walls near the floor. The air is dusty and tastes stale on your tongue.

"Mom?" Frisk's grip on your hand tightens, right as you hear the elevator slide shut behind you.

You turn to face Mettaton, nervousness prickling across your skin. Something doesn't feel right. The robot has his hands pressed to what might be his hips, drumming his fingers against his metal surface with a soft, hollow sound. His display alternates red and yellow squares like a chess board, then goes dark.

Mettaton heaves a robotic sigh, and something in you makes you take a step backwards, tugging Frisk along. "Now, darlings. I hate to do this to you, but if I'm being honest... You're quite an obstacle." Mettaton spreads his hands and gives something akin to a shrug. "You see, Asgore only needs one more Soul to break the Barrier and, well, we just can't have that now can we? I dread to think what might happen to the humans on the surface if all monsters were freed. And if I were to take your perfect little Souls, then I can protect the humans and get to the surface myself! Then I'll finally become the star I always dreamed I'd be!"

"Sans was right about you, you ass!" you shout at him, shoving Frisk behind you and taking another step backwards. You try to gauge if you can dart around Mettaton to get back to the elevator but there's just not enough space. But, he must not be ready to attack you yet because you don't feel the telltale tug in your chest of your Soul reacting.

He sighs again, his display blinking yellow with a red checkmark. "Yes, he was right to warn you! You should have listened, but it's too late now isn't it? Now, don't take this the wrong way, it's nothing personal, darling."

With a snap of his fingers a spotlight illuminates the space around him, making you cry out and shield your eyes. You take a few more steps back, and when you can see again there's a floating camera hovering at Mettaton's shoulder. He also has what looks like a chainsaw gripped in his hands, tip resting on the ground. But still, you don't feel anything stirring inside your Soul. Is it because he's a robot and not really a monster? 

"But you're in luck! Your final moments will be captured forever in what will likely be my greatest movie yet! I'm certain it will be absolutely thrilling! I'll even give you a head start, I'd hate for it to be over too quickly, that would just spoil the dramatic tension!" Mettaton lets out a stilted laugh, raising his chainsaw into the air. "Oh, and do be careful. You're not alone down here. But I suggest you start running!"

Chapter Text

You should have listened to Sans. You let your guard down and now you're running for your life with Frisk's hand clutched tight in yours. How many people are going to try and kill you here in the Underground?

The lab is dark and you can't stop thinking about what Mettaton said before he let you get a head start. That you're not alone down here. What does that mean? Other monsters? He made it sound like they might be just as dangerous to you as he is...

Ducking down another hallway you come to a room with what looks like another elevator. Glancing behind you, you don't see anyone following, yet, so you skid to a halt and start smashing the call button. Nothing happens. That's when you notice four different-colored circles embedded in the door, one of which —the red one— is glowing. 

You take a second to look over at Frisk. They're pale and trembling, clinging to your hand and looking back over their shoulder. You've never seen them look so scared. Even when Undyne was trying to kill you, Frisk was more collected than this, even going to far as to try and talk her down. You feel your own panic start to temper, your instinct to protect your child hardening your edges.

"Come on," you tell them, tugging them to the right. "We have to keep moving."

Heart pounding, you lead Frisk down another hall, through a door marked with a red light that slides open as you approach. Yet another hallway opens up before you, punctuated with black screens set into the wall. They flicker to life as you get near, glowing green text casting dim light across your face. You don't have time to read them, but as you pass you catch the words 'Soul power' 'determination' 'humans' 'monsters' 'bodies'... What the hell is this place? What connection does it have with Alphys?

Distantly you hear the buzz of a chainsaw, and fear twists so hard in your stomach you're almost overwhelmed with the urge to vomit. Frisk's hand tightens on yours and they whimper.

You need to get back to the first elevator, the one you know works. Maybe, once Mettaton follows you far enough inside, you can circle around and head back there. Right now it's the only thing you can think of. But, at the moment all you can do is keep running.

The hall opens up into a room full of empty beds. There's two ways you can go so you just pick one, hoping that maybe Mettaton won't know which way you decide. You wind your way through them and down another hallway. There to greet you is a series of mirrors and a row of bright yellow flowers. Frisk jerks to a halt, causing both of you to almost fall forward as you try to keep running. When you look back at them, they're staring wide-eyed at the flowers.

"What? Frisk, we can't stop!" you tell them but they don't seem to hear you. 

You try to pull them further down the hall but they turn towards a panel set into the wall between the mirrors, which flickers to life at their presence.

I've chosen a candidate. I haven't told Asgore yet, because I want to surprise him with it... In the center of his garden, there's something special. The first golden flower, that grew before all the others. The flower from the outside world. It appeared just before the queen left. I wonder... What happens when something without a Soul gains the will to live?

You're not sure if it makes any sense to Frisk, but the entry seems like nonsense to you. And it doesn't matter. None of these things down here in this place matter except getting back out alive. You give Frisk's arm a hard yank, drawing them out of their daze. They look up at you with wide eyes that finally seem to see you again.

"Baby we have to keep running!" you tell them.

"We... we can call for help. Maybe someone can help us!" Frisk blurts out, jumping as you hurry them past more mirrors.

Of course. Why didn't you think about your phone? You pull it out of your pocket, fumbling with shaking hands as you bring up Sans's number. The phone tries to dial but it doesn't even start ringing. Frustrated tears spring to your eyes as fear overwhelms your senses. You take a deep breath, trying to steady yourself as you dial again. Silence and then the call fails.

"It's not working! It won't connect to Sans," you blurt out, voice tight. "I... I'll try Alphys."

You let out a frustrated noise as you flick through menus to retrieve Alphys's number. You hit the call button, and after a stomach-twisting moment of silence it starts to ring. Will this actually work? You nearly sob when the ring cuts off as Alphys answers.

"H-hello?" Alphys's voice is slightly garbled and staticky.

"Alphys! Thank god, Alphys, Mettaton has Frisk and I trapped under the lab. You have to help! He's trying to kill us!" you blurt out in a rush.

Frisk pulls you to another halt, tugging on your hand. But you're focused on trying to talk to Alphys, so you don't turn around to look at them.

"M-M-Metta—" Static cuts her off. "—you? ...—lab?" You can barely make out what she's saying but what you can hear is panicked.

"Alphys you're cutting out! We're under your lab, and Mettaton is trying to kill us!" you say, louder than is probably wise. Frisk's tugging gets a little more insistent.

 "P-please d-don't... —rt him! Switch..... —ck! Flip—"

"What? Alphys I don't—"

"H-his back! There's— switch... —ip it! —op him. Don't h-hurt—" Another rush of static cuts through the call. "—ry t-to ...—lp you!"

More static. Right when you think that the call is going to disconnect, you hear voices on the line, suddenly sharp and clear. Clearer than Alphys was. "Come join the fun."

"Mom!" Frisk cries out and you finally turn at another sharp tug on your arm.

There, in front of you, are three... things floating in the air. Pale and amorphous, they look like brains with a trailing spinal cord curled beneath them, eyes and mouths blinking and twisting along the surface. A strange, garbled, watery sound echoes from their many mouths as you hear voices in the phone again.

"You'll be with us shortly," they say.

"W-what? Please..." You take a step backwards, pulling Frisk with you. The things just hover there, almost as if they're contemplating you. They don't move closer as you back away.

"That's a shame," they sigh through the phone. They bob up and down in the air a little. "Be seeing you."

The call disconnects and they float away back down the hall, leaving you staring after them. After a moment you try to call Alphys again but it refuses to even ring, just like it did with Sans. You pocket your phone and with shaking hands lead Frisk further down the hall.

"Is Alphys coming to help us?" Frisk asks. Their voice is quiet and thin.

"I don't know, sweetie. She said... something about a switch on his back. Maybe it'll shut him down." You hope so. Alphys also seemed to be asking you not to hurt him either, but... he's trying to kill you. This isn't just some little misunderstanding!

Frisk doesn't answer.


You're in a room full of fridges when Mettaton catches up to you. It's a dead end with no way out except past the robot. He actually has the gall to seem disappointed. Pressed back against a wall with Frisk tucked into your side, you ball your hands into fists and watch as he cuts off the chainsaw.

"Well, this is it then. Our grand finale! Well, don't you have anything exciting to say? It's amazing what the magic of editing can do for a movie, I'll be sure to make this all very dramatic," Mettaton says, waving absently at the hovering camera. "Oh, and do look at me darling, it just ruins the scene if you look at the lens."

"Why are you doing this?" you demand, glaring with sudden fury. How can he treat your deaths so callously?

He sighs, followed by a small buzz from somewhere inside his body. His display goes red. "Weren't you listening the first time? I need your Souls to get through the barrier. To get to the surface and become a star! If I don't take them someone else will, probably Asgore." He gives an idle flick of his wrist, sounding bored. "And if the barrier breaks, who knows what'll happen to my new audience?"

"But what about the audience you have now?" Frisk asks, clinging to the jacket tied around your waist. "You're gonna leave them?"

Mettaton lets out a frustrated sound, a grinding noise echoing inside his metal frame. He hefts the chainsaw in his hands, yanking on the cord. It roars back to life. "What was that darling? I couldn't hear you over the sound of your impending death!" He lets out a manic laugh that sounds a bit over-the-top, even for him. "Enough stalling!"

This time you feel the tugging sensation in your chest, and your cracked Soul pulls free. Your glow paints the room around you, a sickly mix of dark red and green from the lights. Nearby one of the fridges seems to shudder. Your fingers curl tightly around Frisk's wrist, frantically trying to look for some sort of escape when Mettaton rolls forward... then screeches to a halt.

He kills the chainsaw and lets it fall to his side, his display blinking twice before showing a yellow question mark. "Is that...?" He gestures at your Soul. "What the hell is wrong with your Soul?"

Your anger swells forward in a rush. "There's nothing wrong with me!" you shout at him. "Why do you people keep trying to kill me and then feel it's necessary to fucking criticize!"

Frisk lets out a small gasp at your slip of the tongue. But really, there's more pressing things to worry about. The fridge shakes again.

"Darling please, I know we're shooting a horror movie but is the language really necessary?" Mettaton says, his question mark swapping colors. "And, well, at least I've got a spare." He wags his fingers at Frisk. "Now. Where was I?"

As Mettaton reaches for the cord of the chainsaw again, the fridge starts to melt. It forms a puddle of white, shapeless sludge on the cracked floor, making the robot backpedal to keep his wheel free from the mass. Slowly, the liquid runs upwards, coalescing into a large shape between the two of you and Mettaton. A hint of blue colors its dripping body, taking shape into something that looks like a snowdrake. Parts of its head are replaced with two vegetoids where its eyes should be.

With their back to you, a thin, quiet voice fills the air.  "You....... should not...... hurt..... chil....dren." She pauses, her body starting to ripple and quiver with faint laughter. "Chill...dren... Haha..... oh..... Sn... o... wy......"

Mettaton goes a little limp with a frustrated noise. "You shouldn't be getting in my way," he snaps, but there's no real bite to his words. He seems to look past the dripping creature, gesturing at you. He must see the look of horror on your face. "Do you like her? This is Alphys's doing you know. Researching a way to try and break the barrier. This is what sweet, shy Alphys is really capable of." Mettaton starts to laugh. "And of course she never told you one of the real reasons she made me, did she? To impress Asgore. And she designed me to eradicate humans. Never expected that now did you? No, I didn't think so. Yes, your friend was going to help Undyne stop you and Frisk, to collect your Souls to break the barrier. But then she just got too attached, especially once you started that little romance. Oh, I was so sick of listening to her talk about it." He sighs dramatically. "And then there was that half-baked plan to have me pretend to try and kill you so that she could swoop in and play the hero. But that never happened either."

You don't know what to say. You don't know if you believe any of it. Frisk squeezes your arm.

Mettaton jabs a finger in your direction. "That's the Alphys you're friends with. That's the person who made me, and her."

The amalgamate quivers, her body shuddering. "Saved...... me.... Saved..... us.... Was..... going to...... die..... Was..... dying....."

Frisk lets you go. You feel their absence and see as they slip behind the dripping mass shielding you from Mettaton. You don't dare to say anything to them and risk drawing attention from the distracted robot. 

"And this is the life she saved. Trapped down here in this abandoned laboratory, forgotten by everyone. Well, I refuse to resign myself to this same fate! I will not die down here under this mountain, forgotten!" He doesn't even notice Frisk duck around behind him, and with one quick motion, slide something on his back.

Mettaton freezes, the chainsaw falling from limp fingers. "Did you. Just flip. My switch?" he demands in a clipped voice. Then, he starts shaking, hands gripping top corners of his body.

You seize the opportunity, running past the amalgamate and snatching Frisk's hand as you both start running. Smoke starts pouring out of Mettaton, obscuring him in a cloud of white behind you. A metallic whirring noise fills the room.

"Ohhh my. If you flipped my switch that can only— Hey! Where do you think you're going! You're supposed to be here for the premiere of my new body, get back here!"

You don't stop. With Mettaton at the back of the lab, the path to the elevator should be clear, and hopefully your means of escape.

Chapter Text

When you make it back to the elevator an electrical barrier blocks your path. There's no way past it that you can see. And whatever that switch on Mettaton's back did, it certainly didn't shut him down. So now you're trapped down here with no way out and you have no idea if Mettaton is any less dangerous than he was before.

You turn and run back the way you came, because you don't have any other choice. Passing through the room full of beds (there's a lump under the covers of one of them, you don't stop to examine it) you head down a hallway you think you haven't been down yet. Monitors blink to life, casting green light along the hall as you pass them, then fade back to black. You catch more of the same words: 'Determination' 'bodies' one of them just says 'no' over and over again... God, what happened down here? Why are there things living down here?

You pass another monitor and spot the name 'Mettaton' on the display. Slowing to a stop, you skim over it to see if maybe it has some information on how to deal with him. Frisk squeezes your hand and gives you a silent, questioning look. You squeeze back.

Now that Mettaton's made it big, he never talks to me anymore... Except to ask when I'm going to finish his body. But I'm afraid if I finish his body, he won't need me anymore... Then we'll never be friends ever again... Not to mention, every time I try to work on it, I just get really sweaty...

It doesn't help you in the least. All it tells you is more of what you've already figured out: that Mettaton is a selfish, arrogant prick. You just feel bad for Alphys...

The not-too-distant buzz of a chainsaw has you running again, past a wall of whirring fans. A cloud of white, like hovering snow, twists around the spinning blades. When you reach the end of the hallway, all you find is a locked door and another dead end. Shit.

In an act of desperation you pull your phone out and try to call Sans again. Your hands are shaking as you fumble with the menus, and you suspect the only thing keeping you going right now is adrenaline. Pressing the phone to your ear, all you hear is silence until the call fails with a dull beeping tone. You try Alphys again too, but you get the exact same result. Swallowing down a sob of fear and frustration, you shove the useless phone back in your pants pocket.

Though your instincts are screaming at you to find someplace to hide, to not go back down the hall you came from, you don't have a choice. There's nothing else that you can do. There's nowhere else to run.

The cloud of white shudders as you reach the fans, then goes absolutely still, despite the swirling air tugging at your hair and clothes. Grinding to a halt, all you can do is backpedal away with Frisk at your heels. The pale fragments collapse together into a central point, forming a huge, undulating mass of white that comes crashing down to the floor with a slick, wet plop. Then, quivering, the viscous substance starts to run upwards, forming legs —too many legs— and a head that swivels to face you. In the center of it is a gaping hole where there should be a face.

Frisk gasps and clutches your hand tighter.

The amalgamate shambles towards you, and something about it —and the space between the legs— reminds you of dogs. Even as you suck in a shuddering breath, trying to think of what to do, the air is filled with the scent of dog. It's watching you, or at least it feels that way, despite not having any eyes. Wiggling anxiously, it stops a few feet from you, a wet, dripping tail perked up and at attention as it waits.

You steal a glance at Frisk. They're watching the creature intently, and while there's fear in their eyes, there's something else in their expression. As if sensing you watching them, Frisk looks up at you and relaxes a little.

"Mom... it's like the dogs," they murmur, returning their attention to the amalgamate.

It perks up slightly, cocking its head to the side. But instead of stopping it just keeps curving until its head is upside down. You try to stop yourself from shuddering. Then its head snaps back into place and its tail sloshes hesitantly from side to side.

The sound of the chainsaw is closer, you realize. You even think you can make out Mettaton's voice over it, making you jump. The amalgamate whines, the pitch starting out low and then getting higher and higher until it sets your teeth on edge. Remembering how the last oozing creature had protected you from Mettaton, you wonder if maybe this one might too.

Holding out your free, shaking hand, you curl your fingers, beckoning. "C-c'mere pup," you manage to say, squeaking out the words.

Tail thrashing from side to side, it surges forward and shoves its head into your hand. Fighting the urge to jerk back, you force yourself to run your fingers over its ear-like protrusions and down its neck. The texture reminds you of putty, warm and fluid, but not wet. As you pet it, it begins leaning into you, swallowing up part of your arm. Pulling back as slow as you can while trying not to panic, the amalgamate's body starts to still, calming. Then, all at once, it leaps away from you and oozes up the walls. It clings to the ceiling by its feet, the gaping orifice in its head trained on you as it sways side to side.

"Ah, there you are darlings!"

Fear wrenches your gut, yanking your attention away from the amalgamate as an unfamiliar body with a familiar voice starts making his way down the hall. Mettaton's new look is humanoid but distinctly robotic; he's all shiny silver metal, glossy black, and lacquered pink. Black hair covers the right side of his face, and he flashes you what would be a winning smile if it wasn't for the malice in his eye. The hovering camera trails behind him in silence.

His tall, pink heeled boots tap across the cracked tiles as he approaches you, cutting off the chainsaw with a sigh. "Now look here, my beauties. You went through all that trouble just to get me into this body, and the least I can do is let you enjoy it for a moment before I kill you. Let's be honest, I really am to die for!"

His laugh cuts short and turns into a frown at your poor reception. You glare at him, tugging your hand free from Frisk's grip. Filled with more anger, adrenaline, and frustration than sense, you storm up to Mettaton. Ignoring the tug of your Soul leaving your body at the proximity, you shove him in the chest with both hands. You manage to twist the dial on his chest, and the robot is caught off balance as he stumbles backwards.

"You son of a bitch!" you scream, pressing after him.

Startled and furious, he lashes out and backhands you across the face. Pain bursts across your skin and your hand reflexively covers where he hit you, eyes widening in shock. When Mettaton starts to speak, his voice comes out high and shrill. "Hands off the merchandise!" he snaps. Gasping in horror, he reaches for the dial you knocked out of alignment, twisting it and muttering to himself.

The pain in your cheek and jaw is starting to fade, and when you pull your hand away there's a streak of blood on your fingers. Carefully probing with your tongue, you let out a hiss as you find where your lip split.

"Mom! Mom are you okay!" Frisk says, at your side again and tugging on your shirt. They turn to face Mettaton, hands fisting in your clothes. "Don't hurt her! Stop being so mean!"

Mettaton's eye narrows, satisfied with adjusting the dial on his chest. "I'm not being mean. I'm not doing any of this to be mean. It's a means to an end; the only way I can get out from under this miserable rock and become a star!"

"But you're already a star! What about all your fans down here, like... Papyrus! A-and..." Frisk mumbles to themselves for a second. "And what a-about Napstablook!"

You're not sure what the shy ghost has to do with anything, but something about the name makes Mettaton flinch.

Frisk keeps talking, determination filling their voice. "All the people down here that care about you would miss you if you left!"

"Of course they would! Who else can possibly be as fantastic as... I... am..." The robot seems to waver for a moment, his anger slipping away by degrees.

"No one can! The rest of the monsters need you!" Frisk presses, and for a moment it seems like Mettaton might be changing his mind...

But the robot's expression twists into a grimace, hefting the chainsaw in front of him. "I've already made my decision! I'm going to the surface to become the biggest, brightest star the humans have ever seen!"

As he reaches for the starter cord, a dripping white tendril lashes down from the ceiling and coils around Mettaton's wrist. Before the robot can even startle, another tendril wraps itself around the base of his arm. Together, the two thin appendages yank upwards and rip Mettaton's arm out of its socket. All you can do is gape as the amalgamation oozes back down the wall, pulling the sparking metal into its undulating body. It fills the space between you and Mettaton, letting out a growl that climbs and plummets in pitch.

"Get out of my way you mangy pack of mutts!" Mettaton snaps. But before he can do anything else, the creature lunges forward and knocks him flat on his back.

Still growling in a wavering pitch as unstable as its body, it covers Mettaton on the floor.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he shouts, and all you can do is watch as the robot tries to struggle and fight his way free.

With the sound of crushing metal and snapping wires, the amalgamate lifts off of the ground, and with one last look back at you, trots off on its too-many legs. All that's left behind of Mettaton is his torso and head. The places where his limbs were attached are a mess of frayed wires and sparks. He tilts his neck so that he can look at the two of you, glaring for a moment before letting out a sigh of resignation. His head falls back against the ground.

Are you safe now? You look down at Frisk and feel surprised to see them looking a little remorseful. They try to approach Mettaton but you stop them, clinging fast to their hand. It takes you a moment to realize that your Soul has vanished.

"You're right, you know," Mettaton says, weary. "No one else has ever tried to be a star for the Underground like I have. If I leave, then what will everyone do?"

Frisk bites their lip. They seem about to say something but you can't keep silent any longer. "You arrogant, selfish bastard!" you snap, rage fueled by your sudden lack of fear boiling over. "I couldn't care less about you or your stupid fame. And even if you did make it to the surface, you'd probably get disassembled in a lab somewhere by greedy scientists the second they figured out what you are! And you know what? You'd fucking deserve it."

"Mom!" Frisk gasps, and a cold stab of guilt serves to cool the edges off your anger.

"Come on," you mutter, tugging Frisk in a wide path around what's left of Mettaton. Your cheek is throbbing and when you reach up to touch it you think it's started to swell.

"Wait," Mettaton  says, and you're too frustrated to care. You keep walking. "Wait!"

Frisk yanks on your hand, pulling you to a stop. You bite the inside of your mouth to keep yourself from snapping at them. "Mom," they say, in a tone that suggests they're scolding you.

"Before I... run out of power," Mettaton says, and now that you're listening to his voice you realize that his words are starting to slur. Like an electronic toy with dying batteries. "This form just... drains so quick it's... such a hassle..." He sighs.  "Please... don't judge Alphys too harshly... She was... just trying... to... help..."

"When?" you cut out.

He's silent for a moment, and you think he might have shut down before he speaks again. "Always... With everything..."

"I'm not mad at Alphys. I don't understand any of this, but at least she's never tried to kill me."

You wait for Mettaton to answer with some annoyed remark, but you see his eye is closed now and his torn limbs aren't sparking anymore. He must have run out of power.

"Undyne tried to kill you," Frisk says quietly.

"Undyne was honest about it from the start. Don't compare the two," you say, your tone too harsh for you liking. "Let's just... get away from here, sweetie."


Mettaton might be out of commission but his electric barrier is still in place between you and the elevator. For now, you tell Frisk that you'll just have to wait for Alphys to find a way to come get the two of you. For about ten minutes you wait beside the barrier, but soon you seem to be getting antsy and Frisk timidly suggests that you explore a little bit. Much to their surprise, you agree.

Frisk hasn't seen you that upset since Undyne, and has never heard you cuss like that in front of them before. Your movements as the two of you walk through the lab are stiff and jerky, and small noises make you jump. Frisk squeezes your hand to try and comfort you, but you barely give them a small smile before looking away. A frown tugs down on the corners of your mouth.

After a little bit of searching, you find a room with a television and video tapes. You have to explain to Frisk what they are because they've never seen them before. There's a numbered set and, curious and eager for the distraction, you try to find the first one, but end up settling on the second.

The voice in Frisk's head has been alert but silent most of the day, watching and waiting. They had been the one to insist on saying something to Mettaton about Napstablook, and when they told them Frisk felt an odd sense of deja vu.

The tape starts off with a loud burst of static that makes you and Frisk jump, and then the screen goes black. But then, there's the sound of a young boy talking.

"Okay, Chara, are you ready? Do your creepy face!" There's a short pause. "Ahhhh! Hee hee hee!"

No. I don't want to hear this.

"Oh! Wait! I had the lens cap on... What?! You're not gonna do it again...? Come on, quit tricking me! Haha!"

Frisk. I don't want to watch these.

You eject the second tape and insert the third, looking confused. Frisk starts twisting the sleeves of their knotted jacket in their hands.

"Howdy, Chara! Smile for the camera!" Childish laughter fills the room. "Ha, this time I got you! I left the cap on... on purpose! Now you're smiling for nooooo reason! Hee hee hee!"

Please, make them stop! I don't want to listen to him...

Are... are you Chara?

"What? Oh, yeah, I remember. When we tried to make butterscotch pie for Dad, right? The recipe asked for cups of butter... But we accidentally put in buttercups instead."

No no no no no...

"Yeah! Those flowers got him really sick... I felt so bad. We made Mom really upset. I should have laughed it off, like you did... Um, anyway, where are you going with this?"

I said to make it stop! Are you some kind of idiot?!

I don't understand. But...

"Mom, should we be watching these?" Frisk asks, voice soft.

"Huh? Turn off the camera...? Ok," the boy in the video says, and then it stops.

You hesitate, ejecting the third one and looking at the fourth. "I... No, we probably shouldn't." You sigh, putting the tape back in the stack where you found it. "I don't even understand what they are..."

The voice (that Frisk thinks is named Chara) feels like they're starting to cry. But when Frisk tries to reach deep inside to comfort them, they lash out until all they can do is pull away and wait for them to fall silent.

Chapter Text

You're sitting up against the wall near the electric fence, Frisk curled up in your lap. Sharing a bag of chisps because you haven't eaten since breakfast, your busted lip stings but you do your best to ignore it. The two of you sit in silence, save for the crackling of electricity and the crunch of chewing. This is how Alphys and Undyne find you when the monsters rush out of the elevator.

The sight of Undyne's fanged grimace and magical, glowing spear cause you to flinch, conflicting relief and the sharp jolt of fear warring in your chest. Admonishing yourself silently, you pull Frisk and yourself to your feet, giving her a tremulous smile. It doesn't last long, sucking in a breath as pain shoots through your lip.

"Undyne! Alphys!" Frisk says, grinning. You have a tight hold on their hand to keep them from getting too close to the arcing electricity.

"WHERE IS HE?!" Undyne bellows, looking past you down the hallway, pacing her side of the barrier like a wildcat.

"A-a-are you o-okay?" Alphys asks you, glancing at the two of you before hurrying to a small panel set into the wall. With a few quick presses of her stubby fingers, the fence shuts off with a low, fading hum.

Undyne storms past you, gripping the spear in both hands as she positions herself between you and the rest of the lab. With your initial, embarrassing rush of fear gone, you feel safer just knowing she's nearby. Frisk rushes after her and flings their arms around her leg. Hesitating, she looks down at them and then takes one hand off her weapon to ruffle their hair. "You okay, squirt?"

Frisk nods.

You feel a small, dry hand on your arm, making you jump. As you turn at the contact, Alphys snatches her hand away from you, wringing it in front of her. Her eyes are watery behind thick glasses as she studies your face. "O-oh god, are you okay?" she asks, her gaze falling to your lip.

"I'll be fine," you murmur, reaching up to touch your cheek. It's definitely swollen, and when you look down at your hand you see dried flakes of blood on your fingers. You must look awful. A distant, muffled part of you remembers that this isn't the first time this has happened, but your mother was more careful to not leave any lasting marks. But, her hand wasn't made of metal, either.

"Um, w-what happened w-with M-Mettaton?" she asks, glancing past you at Undyne. "W-where is he?"

The fish monster has Frisk sitting on her hip, the way you used to carry them when they were a toddler. You're not strong enough to do that much anymore, but she makes it look effortless. She grimaces at the mention of Mettaton's name, fingers tensing around her spear.

"We left him in that room full of fans. We flipped his switch like you said, but it just made him look different. One of those things that lives down here —the one that looks like dogs?— tore off his arms and legs and he ran out of power." You shake your head, pressing the knuckles of a trembling hand against your sternum. "I don't... Alphys, what the hell is this place?"

"Yeah, I had no idea there was anything like this under your lab," Undyne adds, looking over her shoulder.

Alphys's scales seem to pale, her expression twisting with guilt. "L-let me get M-Mettaton. You sh-should take Frisk upstairs a-and I promise I-I'll explain everything." She glances over at Undyne, who's watching her with an undreadable expression. "T-to both of you..."

You're crashing from the lack of adrenaline, so you don't have it in you to argue. You just nod and beckon Frisk to your side. Undyne lowers them to the ground and gives you a nod before you turn to take the elevator back up.


You have three missed calls from Alphys, placed after you called her from down in the basement lab. There's nothing from Sans. You think about calling him, but... guilt twists in your stomach. You should have listened to him. He told you this would happen! Somehow he knew that Mettaton was a threat, and you chalked it up to jealousy. You're certain that he's going to be angry with you, and you think you deserve it.

Sitting on the couch off in a corner, Frisk almost starts dozing off in your lap when Alphys and Undyne come up. Undyne has Metatton's body hefted under one arm, his head hanging slack. The doctor follows quickly behind, her arms wrapped around a bundle of metal you recognize as his limbs. She must have tracked down the amalgamate and retrieved them. The monsters take all the parts upstairs.

When they return, Alphys fetches a bag of frozen corn from the freezer and offers it to you. You thank her and press it to your cheek.

After a moment of unintelligible stuttering, Alphys tells you everything. About the True Lab, her experiments with Souls and Determination to try and gather enough Soul power to try and break the Barrier. How she gathered up monsters that had 'fallen down' with the help of Asgore to use them for her tests. How horribly wrong it had all gone, with the Determination-filled monsters melting together to form the amalgamations you found. And how in her fear she had hidden them away in the True Lab, taking care of them but hoping that it would all be forgotten because she was too afraid of telling everyone the truth.

She tells you about how she's been watching you and Frisk since you left the Ruins via cameras set up throughout the Underground. That everything Mettaton told you about her is true. She really was going to help Undyne take your Soul, but after watching you she decided not to tell her about you (even though she found out on her own). Alphys looks at Undyne after admitting this part, but Undyne doesn't say anything. Just looks at her.

And finally, she says that she had even come up with an elaborate plan with Mettaton to try and trick you into thinking he was going to kill you, but with a way for Alphys to swoop in and 'save the day' to win you over. But she had decided against it.

Burying her face in her hands, Alphys blurts out in a hurried rush, "But I've enjoyed being friends with you and Frisk so much, and now I'm afraid I've ruined everything! I just wanted people to like me! I wanted Undyne to like me! And I just wanted you to like me! I'm so horrible, and Mettaton hurt you, and I don't expect you to forgive me!"

You glance over at Undyne, but she seems stunned into silence. Sliding Frisk off of your lap and handing them your makeshift icepack, you stand up —a little wobbly but you manage— and walk over to Alphys. Maybe you should be angry at her, but you can't bring yourself to. Mettaton was the one who hurt you, not Alphys. It might just be the exhaustion talking, but despite everything, she never lied about being your friend. And right now that feels like the most important thing. So, carefully wrapping your arms around her as she lets out a startled gasp, you hug her.

"Thank you for saving Frisk and I, Alphys. I don't know if we could have been able to make it out of there without your help," you tell her.

Alphys lets out a startled squeak. You let her go as she starts trembling, looking up at you with watery eyes. "I-I didn't d-do that much..." she mumbles, looking down and scuffing the claws of her feet along the floor. "Endogeny is the one that r-really saved you."

"You were a big help!" Frisk says, at your side and giving Alphys a bright smile. "Really!"

Alphys gives Frisk a hesitant smile in return, fidgeting with her claws. "U-um, if you s-say so..." She glances over at Undyne, and then back at you and Frisk. "B-but I've b-been wondering... What w-were you doing h-here? And Undyne, h-how did you know th-that they'd b-be here, too?"

Undyne goes a little purple and if you were feeling any better you think you'd start laughing. Instead all you can manage is a weak smile. "You told me the truth about everything, but there's something you can do for me to help make up for it."

The doctor looks confused, glancing from you, to Undyne, and back again. "W-what's that?"

"Tell Undyne how you really feel about her," you say.

Flushing deep red under her scales, Alphys stutters helplessly for a moment before giving you a panicked look. "I-I-I can't d-do that, now! N-not after e-everything I've d-done!"

"What better time to do it than after telling her the truth about everything else? If she's going to accept you, then at least you know she's accepting the real you. Flaws and all."

You feel a hand on your shoulder, and Undyne pulls you away. She's still flushed, but gives you a determined look. "I think I can take this from here," she tells you.

Relieved and honestly exhausted, you give her a nod and take hold of Frisk's hand to lead them away and give the two monsters some privacy. If anything, you hope that those two are honest with each other after all this. But now, you think you need to call Sans.

You're more nervous than you ought to be, but you can't help but feel like this was all your fault. He's going to be angry with you for not listening, but you so badly want to hear his voice and see him that you don't care if he yells at you. You'll accept his anger if only it means going home where you feel safe. Drawing in a steadying breath, you pull out your phone and press the shortcut on your screen that dials his number.

Frisk swings your hand back and forth as you listen to the first ring. They glance up at you but mostly they're just watching Alphys and Undyne, smiling.

Sans picks up after the second ring. "what's up, babe? getting bonely without me?" he asks, and you can hear the smile in his voice.

Just the sound of him sends a wave of relief through your body. Your throat tightens as tears prick your eyes. You have to take in another deep breath and tilt your head upwards, as if you can keep the tears from falling just by defying gravity. "Hey, hun," you say. Your voice wavers and you know that your voice is betraying you already.

"what's wrong? is everything okay?" he asks, the concern in his voice making you feel like someone is squeezing your heart in your chest.

You squeeze your eyes shut as they start to swim. Frisk reaches up to stroke your arm. "We're okay; Frisk and I are okay," you tell him firmly, despite the way your voice is cracking. "But I-I need—" you bite back a sob, "I need you to come get me and Frisk and take us h-home."

"of course i will, babe. where are you?" His voice is so calm and reassuring you almost can't hear the worry underneath.

"Alphys's lab. We're inside," you tell him, then the call disconnects.

Blinking hard, you fight back the tears threatening to spill and shove your phone back in your pocket. Frisk tugs on your hand gently.

"Mom, are you okay?" they ask in a soft voice.

"I will be, sweetie. Try not to worry about me too much, okay?" you say, looking down and giving them a watery smile.

The door to the lab slides open and Sans walks in, barely taking a moment before spotting the two of you. He's at your side so fast you think he must have teleported part of the distance across the room. The fabric of his jacket is still cool to the touch from Snowdin when he reaches out for you, one hand brushing over Frisk's head before focusing his attention entirely on you. The white pinpricks of light in his eyes are dim as he meets your gaze, the furrow of his brow deepening when he sees your tears. Then his eye sockets go dark as you know he sees your swollen cheek and split lip. He raises a hand and gingerly traces his thumb over your cheekbone, careful not to hurt you.

"what happened?" he asks, his voice forced into evenness. "who did this?"

"Mettaton, he—"

Sans pulls his hand away, balling it into a fist as blue sparks in his left eye. "where is he?"

"He's broken and out of power, hun, please," you reach out with your free hand to curl your fingers in his jacket. You lean towards him and he takes hold of your waist. It feels like he's shaking, but you're trembling yourself so it's difficult to tell. Maybe it's both of you. Your throat is tight as tears spill down your face now that Sans is here to hold you as you start to feel everything that just happened. "Please, I just want to go home. This was all my fault, I-I should have listened to you..."

"i dunno what happened, but it's not your fault. him... doing this to you is not your fault," he tells you, his tone firm. "did... did he attack you and frisk?"

You nod, face crumpling as you try and fail to bite back a sob. You want to hug him, to let yourself finish breaking apart so you can start putting yourself back together, but you can't. Not yet. You want to be home where you feel safe when it happens.

Magic buzzes in the air between you as his eye starts to glow in earnest. 

"S-Sans!" you hear Alphys squeak from behind you, followed by two sets of footsteps. "P-please put that d-down!"

Even with your blurred vision, as you glance to the side you can see the outline of Alphys's fridge glowing blue. It's also hovering a few feet off the ground, straining against its cord. Sans's grip on your waist tightens, one arm circling you to cover the small of your back.

"did you know what was going on, alphys?" Sans demands, a harsh bite in his voice.

"I-I was d-doing my best t-to g-get them out o-of the lab," she stammers. "H-he had them t-trapped downstairs..."

"why didn't you call me?"

"I-I don't have y-your number!"

"Sans, this isn't her fault!" Undyne cuts in, frustrated.

"and how long have you been here? why didn't you let me know what was going on?" he snaps.

"We were taking care of it! Everything is fine!" she says.

The fridge slams back down to the ground, making you jump and cry out. Sans pulls you closer. "this isn't fine! she— they could have died! and i wouldn't have even known..."

"Sans, please!" you beg, pressing your forehead against his jaw, flinging your arm around his shoulders. You're crying and Frisk is clutching tight to your hand, silent and uncertain, and more than anything you just... "Please, I want to go home."

You feel the tension in Sans's body and in the room, the staticky buzz of his magic prickling your skin. Then, slowly, it all starts to fade as Sans wraps his arms around you completely and hugs you close. "ok. ok, i'll take you home. i've got you."

He pulls one hand away from you to reach for Frisk, and with a familiar —and welcome— tugging sensation in your stomach, the three of you leave the lab behind.

Chapter Text

Frisk must be made of tougher stuff than you, because as the three of you appear in the living room back home they just give you a concerned look, a quick hug, and announce they're going upstairs to get started on their homework. Maybe they know you need some time with Sans, or they're uncomfortable seeing you cry. They've always been good at picking up on emotions, but... You don't know, but they've been fine since Mettaton ran out of power. You're not sure how they manage, but they do.

Sans pulls you onto the couch, holding you as you cry into the fabric of his jacket and tell him what happened. He listens, one arm wrapped around you while his other hand rubs up and down your back. You leave out some of the parts with Alphys (the cameras and her abandoned plans) because you don't want him to be more angry with her than he already is. But you tell him about what happened with Mettaton and why you were in Hotland to begin with. When you apologize again for not listening to him, he shushes you and runs his hand through your hair, nuzzling the top of your head.

As you fall silent, finished with your story, you feel empty, like you've been wrung out. It's better; better than being scared and sorry and angry. Part of you just wants to burrow into Sans's jacket and fall asleep, but he hasn't said anything and slowly you start wondering why. He's tense against you, and as you start to pull back so you can look at his face his grip on you tightens, refusing to let go.

"Sans," you murmur, turning your head so that your nose brushes his cheekbone.

He's trembling, you realize. "i should have been there to protect you," he whispers, leaning into your touch.

"Hun..." You shift as much as he'll let you, cupping the back of his head so that you can hold him the only way you can. "You didn't know."

"that's the worst part," he says, shaking his head weakly and burying his face into your shoulder. "i don't know what i would do... if this all ended. i can't go back."

"I'm sorry," you say, because if you had listened he wouldn't be so shaken. "We're okay. We're still here."

"this was too close. way too close. how many times am i gonna almost lose you?" Sans's voice cracks and he shudders. 

You stroke the back of his head as he draws in a slow, deep breath, trying to steady himself. "I think two near-death experiences— no wait, three if you count falling down that hole. Um... I don't think that sounds any better," you mutter, giving a weak laugh. "I was trying to say that, I think I've had enough for one lifetime. I mean, an ordinary person doesn't normally deal with this much in the space of two months."

Sans's laugh is bitter and humorless. "well, babe, i always knew you were extraordinary." He sighs, and his grip on you relaxes a little. "but, can you do me a favor? can you promise not to leave snowdin without letting me know? and just... stay away from the hotland for now, unless i'm with you."

"But Undyne can—"

"babe, please. for me," he says, and there's no way you can argue against the desperation in his voice.

"Okay. I promise," you tell him, carefully brushing reassuring kisses along his cheekbone.

After a few moments of this he takes hold of your sides and eases you away from him. He studies your face, the white lights skimming over you, before he tenderly cups your injured cheek. He seems calmer, but something hard settles into his unreadable expression, tightening the line of his mouth. "is there anything i can do for you? for your lip, or..."

"Just stay here with me. Maybe we can watch a movie." You hesitate, wincing. "Something without Mettaton, and happy. I just... I'd rather not be alone."

Sans brushes a toothy kiss against your forehead with a tenderness that makes you feel warm and loved. "that can be arranged."

As it turns out, Sans and Papyrus have a small collection of animated children's movies (mostly Disney). While your boyfriend gets everything ready, you go upstairs to clean the dried blood off your face. You didn't notice before, but some of it had dripped down and stained your shirt. Your lip still stings and you can taste the faint coppery tang of blood when you swipe your tongue across the split skin. Your cheek is starting to bruise, the swollen flesh purpling. It's throbbing a little, but you think you look worse than you feel.

You take a moment to drag your brush through your hair, working through the tangles. It helps you feel a little more put-together as you pull it back into a ponytail. With it out of the way, you wet a washcloth and take careful dabs at the dried blood flaking down your chin. The water runs an unpleasant reddish-brown as you rinse it under the faucet. You also take a moment to try and blot at the bloodstains on your shirt, but it doesn't do much good. Unfortunately you don't have any peroxide to work with.

Making a quick detour to change shirts (one of Sans's, the baggy black t-shirt is comforting) you go check on Frisk. They're sitting in the middle of the floor, carefully filling out a worksheet. They glance up as you stand in the doorway.

"Wanna come watch some movies with Sans and me?" you ask them. "Happy stuff only, no scary allowed, I promise."

Frisk leaps to their feet, abandoning their homework on the ground. Normally you'd say something about them putting it away, but... after everything you just don't care. And so, a few moments later, Sans wraps the three of you up in a big blue blanket to snuggle on the couch. You're caught in the center, laying against Sans with your knees folded up under you. Frisk is using your hip as a pillow, one arm tucked under their head while the other drapes over your calf.

You don't actually remember the middle part of the movie because you think you fall asleep, then wake up somewhere during the climax of the story. You glance up at Sans but much to your surprise he's still awake. His eyes are fixed on the screen, but he seems to be looking past it as his thumb rubs slow circles against your ribs.

About halfway through the second movie you hear the rattle of keys in the door and Papyrus lets himself inside. "HUMANS, I AM HOME! UNDYNE WENT TO GO SEE ALPHYS EARLIER, SO I DO NOT KNOW WHEN SHE WILL BE— OH, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HOME ALREADY SANS?"

Papyrus frowns at his brother, glances at you and Frisk, then back at Sans, and then, finally, with a loud gasp, looks back at you. "WHAT HAPPENED? ARE YOU INJURED? I DON'T THINK YOUR FACE IS SUPPOSED TO BE THAT COLOR! UNDYNE'S FACE DOES THAT SOMETIMES AFTER SHE GETS HIT VERY HARD. HAVE YOU BEEN FIGHTING SOMEONE?"

The tall skeleton falls to his knees in front of the couch, leaning in close to inspect your face. You take hold of his hands, letting him help you sit up straight. "I'll be fine, Pap. It hurts a little—" this is an understatement, but you don't want to worry him, "—but in a few days I'll be back to normal."

"BUT WHAT HAPPENED?" he asks again, looking from you to Sans.

"it was mettaton," Sans says flatly. "he hit her."

"HE H-HIT YOU? B-BUT I DON'T... I'M SURE THERE MUST BE SOME KIND OF MISUNDERSTANDING." Papyrus searches your face, as if he can find the answer in your expression. You feel bad for him, and while you don't want to lie, you don't really want to tell him the truth either. You wonder if Sans is as conflicted as you are.

"bro, i don't think she wants to talk about it right now," Sans says, shrugging and deflecting the question. He slides off the couch and stands up. "but for now i'd appreciate it if, if you see mettaton, you keep him away from them."

"SANS, THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE—"

"papyrus," Sans snaps, cutting him off. As his brother goes silent and snaps his mouth closed with a click, Sans winces. "please just do that for me, ok?"

"ALL RIGHT..." he says, wringing his hands.

Sans puts his hand on Papyrus's shoulder, jerking his head towards the couch. "why don't you take my spot and watch the movie? i need to go check on something since i had to leave my post early."

Something about Sans's words ring false, and you think you see a small frown crease Papyrus's brow, but neither of you say anything. Instead, the tall skeleton just does as his brother suggests and takes the spot next to you, wrapping you up in a careful hug. You hug him back.

"I'M SORRY THAT YOU ARE HURT," he says.

"Thanks, I'll be okay," you tell him again.

As you pull away, Sans is waiting in front of you. He reaches out and takes hold of your hand, looking down at your fingers instead of your face. "i won't be gone long. you want me to pick up some food from grillby's on my way back so you don't have to cook? i'm sure i can get him to bag it up for me."

Papyrus scoffs before you can even answer. "NONSENSE, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL COOK DINNER! WHAT YOU NEED MOST, HUMAN, IS A BIG, COMFORTING PLATE OF SPAGHETTI! IT'S LIKE A WARM, NOODLY HUG INSIDE YOUR STOMACH!" He clears his throat. "AND I PROMISE TO MAKE IT THE WAY YOU SHOWED ME."

"Ooh, I want spaghetti!" Frisk says.

"Well, who am I to argue," you concede, shrugging and giving Sans a weak smile.

Sans glances up from your joined hands, meeting your eyes for a moment. Then he leans forward to nuzzle your temple, cupping your jaw with his free hand. "i love you, i'll be back in a little while."

"I love you too. Is everything okay?" you ask, squeezing his fingers as he pulls away.

He gives you a squeeze in response before letting go of your hand. "yeah. don't worry about it."

With a short little wave, he vanishes before you can say anything else.


Sans arrives inside the lab and —greeted by the sight of Alphys and Undyne kissing on that ratty old couch— promptly teleports back outside so he can knock first. Shoving away the sudden rush of embarrassment, he gives three hard raps on the metal door and then pushes the button to let himself inside. It's enough of a warning because both the monsters are on their feet, though they look a little dazed and flushed. Even if he hadn't seen them in action, he would have had a good guess just from their familiar expressions. But as much as he'd like to congratulate them for finally mucking through the quagmire of their feelings, he has more important business to attend to.

"alphys, i need to talk to you," Sans says, shoving his hands into his pockets and striding up to the two of them. He glances at Undyne. "in private."

Undyne frowns, looking from Sans to Alphys. "If this is about what happened earlier, that wasn't Alphys's fault. And I'm not going to let you—"

"oh, i'm gonna have words with that pile of scrap here in a moment, but no. i want to talk to alphys about something else," Sans cuts in, frowning but doing his best to remain calm. His anger isn't for them. He's not angry at Undyne being protective of her new relationship with Alphys. If anything, he understands that strong urge to protect very intimately.

Alphys is just watching him for a moment, studying his expression before turning to Undyne. "I-it's okay. Just let me talk to him alone, p-please?"

Undyne hesitates, looking between the two of them for a moment before giving a curt nod. "Okay, I'll just be over there in the, ah, kitchen," she says, gesturing at Alphys's fridge. It's a little banged up on the bottom, but as far as he can tell it's still running.

With the fish monster out of earshot, Alphys rings her hands, sweat dotting her face. She glances away, like she can't bring herself to look him in the eye. "H-how are they doing?" she asks.

"they're fine," he says curtly. "she told me what you were up to down in the old lab."

Alphys flinches, pulling off her glasses and wiping them with her sleeve. It's a nervous habit, one she hasn't lost over the years. "I had to do something to try and break the b-barrier."

"but experimenting on people, alphys? you never would have done that before," he says, eyes narrowing and balling his hands into fists in his pockets.

"You l-left, Sans. You left and wouldn't answer my calls so I did the only thing I could think to t-try," she says, defensive. "And soon I'm going to make it up to them and take them home to their families... Undyne said she would h-help me."

Sans is more than a little surprised to hear that, but pleasantly so. But from the way you described the amalgamates, he's a little uncertain. "are they safe enough to be let out?"

"Y-yes! They can get a little confused sometimes, b-but they're still them." Alphys sighs, finally replacing her glasses on her face and looking at Sans. She looks... not confident but maybe more resigned. At least it's something. "I just want this to be over. I want to stop l-lying and stop hiding. At least... at least I know I won't lose all my friends. N-not that I have very many..."

He hesitates, frustrated with himself and the sudden wave of guilt that he feels. "you know that it's not your fault we stopped talking, right? it was just too much of a reminder..." Sans grimaces and looks away, shaking his head. He doesn't want to talk about this. This isn't why he's here.

"I-I still wish you would have stayed here. If we had worked together on a solution, even after the a-accident—"

No. "look, i need to talk to mettaton," Sans says, cutting her off.

Alphys withers under his cold stare. "I-I don't think that's a good idea, Sans..."

"what kinda monster do you take me for? i'm not gonna hurt him." He forces himself to grin, shrugging his shoulders. "i just need to impress upon him the gravity—" his eye flashes blue for a moment, "—of the situation."

"He's still incredibly damaged, I haven't even t-turned him back on yet!" she protests, wringing her hands.

"you do realize what he tried to do? he was going to take their souls and leave. he doesn't care about anyone but himself. why are you protecting him?" he says, gritting his teeth.

"Because he's my friend," she says weakly.

"he's been using you for your talent. you have to know that."

"At least he needed me to help him!"

There's a moment of stunned silence, and Sans isn't sure what to say. He never thought that he and Alphys were that close before, but... is it possible that she had considered them more than colleagues? Had she considered him her friend? She was always so awkward, he'd never been sure, and if he's entirely honest he was a little bit full of himself back then. The only thing greater than his intelligence had been his own inflated ego, which made the accident that much more devastating. He's not proud of the person he used to be.

"alphys..." Sans starts, but the words die between his teeth as she shakes her head.

"He's u-upstairs on my worktable. There's a small switch next to his charger that will boot up his system," she says, crossing her arms over her chest and hugging herself. "Just leave him there when you're done. I should probably t-talk to him too."

"thanks," he says, and after a brief hesitation Sans blinks himself upstairs.

All this teleporting is starting to tire him out a little, but he knows he has enough in him to get home. He takes in a steadying breath, reminding himself that this is the real reason that he's here. Because Mettaton almost killed you and Frisk and took away everything good he's had over the past two months. He's never made it this far in a timeline before. Each one of Frisk's visits lasted at most a little over a week, and that was only if they really took their time. Others it was as little as two days. Two months... two months is long enough that he's almost getting used to actually living his life. Long enough to start feeling real hope that this might be real.

And he was this close to losing everything, all because of this stupid robot and his selfish aspirations. The worst part, the part that scares him, is the fact that if it had happened, he would have never known why. He would have been at his sentry station, and then he would have woken up back in his bed with no trace of you and no clue why it all reset.

His renewed anger is enough motivation to approach the workbench where what's left of Mettaton's EX body is propped up. He's hooked up to an outlet on the wall by a thick cable, and with a quick glance Sans is able to find the small toggle switch. He flicks it and takes a step back.

Mettaton's speaker crackles for a second as his head lolls from one side to the other. He groans, the sound cutting in and out for a moment before stabilizing.

"hate to interrupt your beauty sleep," Sans says, shifting from one foot to the other. His grin is icy. "though, uh, damn it sure looks like you could use it."

The robot tries to toss his black hair out of his eyes as best he can without hands. He manages to clear his left eye enough to give Sans a scathing look. "What is it you want, Sans? Are you looking for some kind of petty revenge? We both know you're not going to hurt me."

Sans raises a brow. "oh? buddy, you really don't know me that well. but, lucky for you i'm mostly just here to talk."

Mettaton rolls his eyes, letting his head fall back against the wall. "Spare me the idle threats, you're not intimidating anyone. Everyone knows you're just a lazy comedian."

Magic surges to his left eye socket and Sans yanks his left hand out of his jacket pocket. With a curl of his fingers he has his power wrapped around Mettaton's Soul, blue magic forming a faint aura around his body. He increases the weight of gravity pulling down on him, and Sans hears the whine of metal starting to warp. That seems to wipe the bored expression off his face, replacing it with something close to fear. Good. He should be afraid.

"let me make one thing clear, mettaton. if you ever come near either of my humans again, i won't hesitate to turn you into a pile of scrap metal. there won't be enough of you left for alphys to fix." Sans pulls his hand slowly downward, and he can hear the creaking of the thick wooden table holding him up.

"Okay, okay!" Mettaton cries out, glancing frantically around the room as if someone might come help him. "For goodness' sake, Sans, you've made your point!"

"but i don't think i have." Sans flicks his fingers upwards, raising the robot up into the air. He bobs up and down as he reaches the end of his cable, like a balloon. "you have made a dangerous enemy today, pal." Twirling his finger, Mettaton spins until he's hanging upside down. "and if you ever even think about putting one finger on either one of them..."

Sans twists him back so that he's right-side up and lets his magic dissipate. Mettaton crashes back down to the table, teetering for a moment before rocking back to steady himself against the wall. He's staring at Sans with wide eyes as the skeleton's sockets go dark.

"you're gonna have a bad time."

Chapter Text

When Sans gets home, he finds you in the kitchen, washing dishes. Your back is to him, and for a moment he doesn't say anything. He doesn't want to interrupt, and right now he's just happy watching you. Your ponytail has fallen a little loose, the band sitting at the base of your neck instead of tight against the back of your skull. Some loose strands must have broken free near your face because you pause for a moment to swipe the back of your wrist along your forehead. Your hips sway a little as you shift to put something in the drying rack.

Out of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen has the second most notable changes in the two months since you and Frisk moved in. (The first being the bedroom he now shares with you, of course. You're much tidier.) There's pictures from Frisk's school stuck on the fridge, accompanied by childish drawings. He can't make half of them out, but there's one in particular that's fixed in a spot of honor, right in the center of the door. It's a collection of stick figures: you and Frisk in the center, with Sans at your side and Papyrus on Frisk's. And Undyne is there too. ("The teacher said that we should draw our family! And... I hope this is okay.")

Inside the fridge is actual food instead of an unbelievable amount of barely-edible spaghetti, and the kitchen table is being used more regularly than it ever has before. Sans would always go out to eat, and Papyrus hates Grillbys's food, and so they didn't eat together much. Now dinner is the one time that everyone is almost guaranteed to be together, and he can't help but think that it's all thanks to you. Well, you and Frisk. There's a folder with Frisk's name on it sitting on the table, and he remembers that he promised to help with their homework tonight.

He almost lost all of this today. He wouldn't have just lost the two of you, and this life that's started to form around everyone. He would have lost the pictures and drawings on the fridge, the smell of coffee first thing in the morning (because he never bothered with it until you started keeping it in the cabinet), waking up with you beside him. No oatmeal on the stove, or bright-eyed Frisk ready for school and waiting and almost forgetting their lunch again. The kitchen table would go unused, save for collecting dust. No more dinners as... well, as some kind of family.

He knew, two months ago, that you would change everything about this timeline. But he had never truly realized what that meant. 

Before, he knew what was going to happen. He'd done the same things over and over again more times than he can count. He knew his role, played his part. There was a sense of control, through nudging Frisk along their path or stopping them. But once again the universe sees fit to remind him just how powerless he really is. How he's fumbling in the dark, trying desperately to clutch your hand and keep you with him, knowing that it would take just one mistake to lose you.

Sans walks across the kitchen, coming up behind you. You turn your head just enough as you sense him there, and he slides his arms around your waist, rising up on his toes to rest his chin on your shoulder. He pulls you close and you lean back against him, tipping your head to rest against his. A damp hand covers his and he strokes your fingers with his thumb, closing his eyes and just feeling you.

"hey," he says.

"Hey," you answer, nudging him with your forehead. "...Everything okay? Did you do what you needed to do?"

"yeah. everything's fine," he says. He's grateful that you don't ask him what he was doing, even though he knows you want to. But you've never pressured him about his secrets. Not even when they were tearing him apart and you found him breaking here in the kitchen. You press just enough, but not too much.

"You took longer than we thought. I left you a plate in the fridge." You squeeze his hands. "It's pretty good. Pap is getting a lot better."

"of course he is, with you teaching him instead of undyne."

You let out a soft, pleased laugh. It makes him smile. "Yes, well, I always thought his cooking skills seemed a little fishy."

"i'm glad you could reel him back in," he counters, turning and nuzzling into the side of your neck.

Giggling and flinching away, you try to bump him away from you with your butt but he just holds on tighter, laughing and rubbing back against you. It just makes you laugh harder, and he's glad. He just wants you to be happy.

"Stop, stop! Smiling hurts," you complain, trying not to laugh.

"whoops, sorry babe," he says, squeezing you as way of an apology.

You lean forward back over the sink, letting him stay wrapped around you as you finish up the dishes. After a moment he releases your waist, instead taking hold of your sides and rubbing his thumbs into your lower back. You sigh and lean into his touch.

"you should have let papyrus do the dishes, i'm sure he offered."

"He did, but he cooked dinner. Besides," you say, shrugging your shoulders, "I like taking care of the dishes. It's sort of relaxing."

"now that you mention it, dishes something you've told me before." As you start to laugh again, Sans leans forward and presses his forehead between your shoulders. "...how are you doing?"

Your laughter fades and you give another weak shrug. "I'll be okay. Life marches on, right?"

Sans doesn't need to say that it almost didn't.

Undyne never turns up that night and Sans can only assume she's staying over at Alphys's. When you and Sans go to bed, he wraps you up in his arms and never lets you go. It's the only way he can fall asleep, knowing that you're here and safe.


Undyne and Alphys come over the next day, partly to check on you but mostly because Alphys needs to speak with the families of some of the amalgamates you encountered in the lab. It turns out that the two who helped you the most (the snowdrake and Endogeny) are related to residents of Snowdin.

You're happy to hear that Alphys is going to be telling everyone the truth and letting the amalgamates finally go home. Though, you're a little worried about what kind of reception they're going to have. There had to be a reason that the doctor was so worried about being honest in the first place. But, you give Alphys a reassuring hug and remind her that she's doing the right thing. And that no matter what, she has people who care about her. She blushes and stutters for a second before thanking you.

Undyne also announces the news that by next week her house is going to be ready for her to move back home. Apparently she and Papyrus are getting ready to finish up the last bit of work on the interior and replacing some of her furniture. Frisk seems disappointed, but she gives them a big bright grin and an affectionate noogie, reminding them that the two of you are welcome over anytime. In fact, she expects both of you to be over often, and if you don't she'll come find you! Laughing, you reassure her that you'll be sure to visit.

It turns out that your first visit to Undyne's house will be for a housewarming party scheduled a week from today. As you ask her if she wants you to cook anything, she gives you a sheepish grin and requests a few dozen of your chocolate chip cookies. You're more than happy to oblige.

In regards to the amalgamates, it seems that Alphys's fears were mostly misplaced. A few days after her initial visit to Snowdin she returns with Endogeny and the snowdrake and their families seem more frustrated with how long it took than what had happened to them.

You, Sans, and Frisk tag along on these reunions for moral support. Endogeny in particular seems happy to see you, rushing forward through the snow to greet you. Right as you think it might bowl you over it's body changes shape so that all its legs are in a straight line, flattening itself and making the silhouettes of dogs between its legs all the more prevalent. It vibrates excitedly until you finally reach out to pet it, this time expecting the way its body seems to meld around your hand. 

"Thanks for your help back there," you tell it, smiling as its tail starts wagging furiously. "Sorry I couldn't thank you sooner. You're a good dog."

Endogeny's body folds back in on itself, taking a more canine shape. Frisk comes up to your side to pet it too, and after a moment Sans does as well. It doesn't seem sure of what to do, it seem so excited and happy to have so much attention its amorphous body just quivers and ripples as its tail wags with enough force to make its body wobble back and forth. 

"i should thank you too, no bones about it." When Endogeny's head whips around and snakes close to Sans's arm, he pulls away and shoves his hand back in his pocket, looking a little nervous. "hey there buddy, i said no bones, got it?"

Endogeny's family turns out to be the entire dog population of Snowdin. It makes you wonder exactly how many dogs ended up inside of the amalgamation. The reunion is a happy one, with lots of tail wagging, barking, sniffing, talking, and a few happy tears. Dogamy and Dogaressa take the time to thank Alphys for bringing Endogeny home.

The other amalgamate's reunion is more private and emotional. You're able to take a moment to thank her for protecting you down in the lab, but you don't want to interrupt. When Snowy and his father arrive the three of you take your leave.

Like you told Sans, life marches on. The first few days after your encounter with Mettaton are the hardest. You feel jumpy and nervous, and you can tell that Sans is hesitant to leave your side. One day you even go with him to work while Frisk is at school, just because you can't bear the thought of being apart. You end up taking a nap inside his station, and it reminds you of that brief time before you started dating.

But gradually things are more or less back to normal. Though, your normal is about to change again with Undyne moving back home. Though you never would have thought you'd feel this way when she first started staying on the couch, you realize you're going to miss having her around every day. You're happy to consider her one of your friends.

And, before you know it, her housewarming party is just around the corner.

Chapter Text

It's cold and dark. You're strapped to a frigid metal exam table and you can't move. There's someone moving in the shadows but you can't turn your head to try and look. All you can do is wait, dressed in a hospital gown and shivering from the cold and from fear.

You're blinded by a large round surgical lamp as it cuts on without warning. Gasping and squeezing your eyes shut, you struggle to move but you're strapped down too tight. The click of heels against concrete echoes through the room, and the hard fingers of a metal hand give you a firm pat on the cheek.

"None of that, darling, open your eyes."

Wincing, you open your lids enough to start to adjust to the light. Those cold, metal fingers grip either side of your face, digging almost painfully into your jaw. You feel the strap across your forehead go slack and the hand jerks your head to the side. Mettaton is frowning down at you once you can finally see, blinking at the brightness of the light still hurting your eyes.

He purses his lips. "We were so rudely interrupted before. Now, where were we?"

You're standing in front of a wall of whirring fans, and you know that Frisk is behind you, clutching onto the jacket tied around your waist. Your skin feels grimy with sweat and your cheek is throbbing. The coppery tang of blood fills your mouth.

Mettaton is in front of you, sighing dramatically and spreading his hands wide. He twirls his chainsaw from one finger like one might do with an umbrella. "Hmm, you know what, this isn't nearly glamorous enough. How about a little change of scenery?"

Lights are blinding you again, spotlights trained on you and Mettaton. The roar of thousands of cheering voices is immediate and deafening. The robot has his chainsaw in one hand and a microphone in the other as he struts to the edge of the stage, blowing kisses to the crowd and waving. You try to run but you can't. It's like you're glued to the ground even though there's nothing restraining you.

He turns back to you and rests the microphone on his hip, his bright smile going sour as he looks at you. You try to open your mouth to speak but you can't. Your throat won't make any sounds.

"Every time you've survived down here, it's because someone's come to your rescue. Sans, Papyrus, Alphys, Undyne, the amalgamates... you're absolutely pathetic on your own, aren't you?" he says, taking slow, swaying steps towards you across the stage. "It was only a matter of time before someone managed to get you alone and defenseless. And no one is here to protect you. No one is here to save you."

You're shaking, panic singing through your nerves but you can't move, you can't scream, you can barely breathe. You can only watch as Mettaton prowls closer, throwing the microphone aside as he reaches for the starting cord on the chainsaw.

"Now, darling, I think it's time to see if I can't find some use for that fractured little Soul of yours."

The grating roar of the motor coming to life drowns out all other sound, filling your head and consuming everything around you in static. The world has narrowed down to Mettaton's manic grin and the blurred teeth of the chainsaw as it swings upwards, poised to fall upon you. Then, as it falls and you feel yourself swallowed up in thick, strangling darkness, you wake up.

Struggling to sit up, you're held down by something wrapped around your middle. For a moment you start to panic, pushing against it with your hands until you recognize the smooth warmth of Sans's arms. Your skin is tingling as you fight to bring yourself back to your senses. You thought you were doing better. But it seems that your subconscious has other ideas. The pounding of your heartbeat is so loud that you almost can't hear Sans's voice as he mumbles in his sleep.

"no..." he says, and through the darkness you can barely make out the deep furrow in his brow. He's sweating, and you feel his grip around you spasm and tighten. "please, no..."

With some effort you're able to roll over onto your side to face him, chest to chest. "Sans," you say, reaching up to press a hand to his cheek. He shakes his head, turning away from your touch and into his pillow. Your own lingering fear is still there, but it feels distant as you're caught up in wanting to help the man you love.

"no," he says again, hands twisting into the back of your shirt. You feel a familiar hum in the air, prickling over your skin. Shivering, goosebumps raise on your arms as you stroke your hand along with curve of his skull.

"Hun, you're having a nightmare," you say, voice tight in your throat. You give him a weak shake, trying not to startle him. "You need to wake up."

Sans shudders and twitches, and the humming feels more like a buzzing. Like something angry and ready to lash out. You think you feel your Soul tugging inside you, reacting to his magic. He's woken you up with his nightmares before. It's rare, but it's happened a few times though never like this. If he hurt you, even on accident, he'd never forgive himself.

"Sans," you say, firmer this time. "Wake up!"

Gasping, his eye sockets fly open and blue light fills the space between you. You flinch away, squinting at the sudden brightness and you're forcibly reminded of your nightmare just minutes ago. A shiver of fear runs down your spine.  The tension in the air presses down on you, and for a moment the pressure in your chest grows until you think your Soul is going to tug free, but then, all at once, the buzz of magic is gone and you're plunged back into darkness.

Unable to see until your eyes readjust, you hear Sans take in a shuddering breath and feel him press his forehead to yours. "shit, i'm... are you okay? did i...?"

"It's okay, I'm fine," you tell him, wrapping your arms around his back and hugging him close. "We're both fine."

His fingers slowly uncurl from the fabric of your t-shirt, flattening his hands and pressing them along the curve of your spine. "you're trembling," he says, and you realize he's right.

"I just woke up from my own nightmare," you admit, and he rubs a small circle between your shoulders. "Seems like this was a shitty night for both of us."

The two white pinpricks of light glow faintly in his eye sockets, so close that his face is a pale blur. You stop trying to focus on him, closing your eyes and sighing as you try to calm your still-racing heart. Sans shifts lower so he can rest his head against your chest. He told you once that listening to your heartbeat was soothing. Something about the way your heartbeat matches a pulse in your Soul that he can feel when he's close. You don't really understand it, but you don't need to. 

"what was your nightmare about?" he asks, after a moment.

"Mettaton, what else," you mutter, curling forward to press your cheek against the top of his skull. "Probably the same as you."

Sans doesn't answer.

"Do you want to talk about it?" you ask, certain you know what he's going to say.

"no," he says, like you expect. He never wants to talk about his nightmares. But you still offer, because you never want him to doubt that you're willing to listen. "...do you want to talk about yours? i may not have any ears but..."

You smile at his attempt to lighten the mood. Your lip feels a little tight from where it's still healing, but it doesn't hurt much anymore. You shake your head, kissing the smooth curve of bone under your cheek. "I'm okay."

"you should try to get some more sleep. undyne's party is tomorrow —well, today i guess. and i know you have baking to do." He pulls away enough to scoot back up so that you're at eye level. You shift your hips and slide your leg between his, opening your eyes so you can look at him. An arm drapes over your waist.

"I'm too awake to fall asleep yet," you say, resting a hand on his side. Your thumb traces the curve of one of his ribs through his shirt. "I'd rather just talk for a bit, if that's okay."

"sure, babe," he says, his fingers slipping under the hem of your shirt. He traces lazy shapes against the small of your back with his phalanges. "what do you wanna talk about?"

"I dunno," you mumble, shrugging. "Whatever."

Sans huffs a laugh. "throw me a bone here."

"Ugh," you say, unimpressed.

"are you saying you don't find my bone puns humerus any more?" Even in the dark you can see his pale grin widen, the lights in his eyes growing brighter.

"Hun, please," you say, groaning and shaking as you hold back a laugh.

"because i have a skele-ton of them."

Maybe it's because you expect it that you let out a snort, burying your face in your pillow to muffle your laughter.

"no, don't do that," he says, reaching to cup your cheek with the hand that isn't on your back, wedging his fingers between your head and the pillow. "you know i love to hear you laugh."

Weak giggles still escaping you, you press kisses along the bones of his palm. "Listen to those honeyed words! Do you have a sordid past that I should know about?"

"not so much. what can i say, you bring out my sweet side," he says, winking. As you shake your head weakly, he leans in close to brush a toothy kiss to your cheek. "tell me something about the surface. or about your childhood. anything you want."

You hesitate, trying to search his face but there's only so much of him you can see in the dark. "What about your childhood? You're always asking about me, but don't you want to talk about yourself, too?"

Sans shrugs, blinking. "there's not much to talk about. just normal kid stuff, y'know?"

"What about..." you pause, thinking. "What about your parents? I don't think you've ever mentioned them to me before."

"well, we uh... we lost our mom when pap was still a baby..." he says, sounding a little uncomfortable.

Well, you can't blame him for not wanting to talk about it. "Oh, I didn't... My dad died when I was little," you say, shifting a bit in his arms and stroking your cheek against his hand. 

"you've never mentioned your dad before. do you remember him at all?" he asks gently.

"He... um..." you chew the inside of your lip, thinking as your toes traces along the bones of his feet. He twitches a little. "I was five. He had brown hair and brown skin —darker than mine. He wasn't home that much, I think he worked a lot. But on the weekends, he'd take me to the park and push me on the swings."

"he sounds nice."

"Things didn't get bad until after he died. I think..." you sigh, closing your eyes for a moment and reopening them. Sans just lays there with you, watching your face. "Losing him changed her. I wonder sometimes, what things would have been like if he was still alive."

"loss does things to people," he says, running his thumb down the length of your nose. It tickles a little and you scrunch up your face.

"Did losing your mom change your dad?"

He hesitates. "i don't remember what he was like before. so, i dunno."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to talk about sad things," you say, feeling guilty. You sigh, trying to think of something else to talk about. "Um... oh, I can tell you about another sci-fi movie I've seen. I think I told you about, uh..."

"you told me about planet of the apes last time," he says, grinning. "i remember you were pretty passionate about... what was the line? 'get your paws off me—'"

"No, no, it's 'get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!' You have to remember 'stinking' it's very important." You smile back at him, ruining your serious tone.

"of course, i apologize. my mist-ape." He laughs as you dig your fingers into his ribs in retaliation, pulling you close against him as he squirms. "and that's the older one, right?"

"Right! Yeah, that one's a classic. We don't talk about the remake... Um... oh, how about Stargate..."

Chapter Text

Most of the guests have already arrived by the time that you, Sans, and Frisk get to Undyne's house. You and Sans overslept, which threw off your timing for the rest of the day and you're just glad you aren't later than you already are. Papyrus and Undyne spent the day getting everything ready, and you two were still asleep when they left in the morning.

You hadn't seen Undyne's house before it caught fire, but whatever you were expecting, it hadn't been a giant fish. A set of massive teeth makes up what you think is the door, and your suspicions are confirmed when Frisk darts forward to knock on them. After a moment, the teeth retract (not unlike a mouth opening) revealing Undyne.

Her bright red hair is loose and wavy down her back, bangs swept over the left side of her face to partially conceal her eyepatch. There's a tight braid along the right side of her head, curving over her fin-like ear. Her lipstick is the same vibrant shade as her red eye makeup, and her black eyeliner is thick and striking. You've never seen her cleaned up quite like this, but she looks amazing. If you had done yourself up like she had you'd be feeling self-conscious at looking so different from normal, but she's just as confident as always, flashing you a big smile. 

By comparison you feel hastily put together. You picked out some of your nicer clothes and took what little time you had to put your hair back in a French braid to keep it tamed for the party. Pushing away the creeping feeling of embarrassment, you smile back at the fish monster and gesture with the plastic container of cookies in your hands.

"FINALLY, I was wondering where you guys were," Undyne says, reaching out to take it from you. As she turns to lead you into the house your eyes fall to the dark green skirt swaying around her calves. The spiraling ruffles remind you of the ocean; of scales, or a swaying bed of seaweed.

Frisk darts past her and through the gaps between clusters of partygoers, most likely looking for Papyrus. Judging by the unmistakable, shouted greeting from the tall skeleton, you're right. You fight the urge to call Frisk back. They'll be fine with Papyrus.

Sans nudges you gently after Undyne with a hand on the small of your back. "yeah, we were running a little behind," he says, and you squirm away before he can pinch your butt. You shoot him a playful glare and he just winks at you.

"I'm onto you, mister," you mutter, snatching up his hand and lacing your fingers together. For safekeeping, you tell yourself.

"onto me, huh? in front of all these people? can't wait 'till we get home?" he says, grinning wider as your cheeks darken. You shove him with your shoulder and he starts to laugh, gripping your hand tight.

"You two are such DORKS," Undyne says, laughing and glancing back at you. She pops the top off the container and sets it on a table full of other assorted food, turning around to face you. With a vague, bored flourish, she gestures to the room that houses her living room, dining room, and kitchen. "So this is it! It's, uh, pretty much back to exactly how it was before."

"It looks great! You and Papyrus did an amazing job," you tell her, scanning over the room.

You and Sans share some small talk with Undyne before she leaves to go rejoin Alphys where she's sitting on the couch, looking a little nervous and uncomfortable. The doctor visibly brightens as Undyne approaches, and you can't help but smile when the fish monster stoops down to pull her to her feet and kisses her on the cheek. Sans brings you a drink as you watch the two monsters, his hand finding yours again. You turn to lean against his arm. Undyne leads Alphys over to a burly pair of monsters and though you can't hear what she's saying you think she's introducing her to them. Alphys's cheeks flush bright red and she covers her face with her hands as Undyne grins down at her and strokes her shoulder.

Sans leads you over to the buffet table to go get some food, then over to where Frisk and Papyrus are talking. They're off in a corner of the room, munching on handfuls of cookies. You notice that some of the other monsters are casting Papyrus odd, dismissive looks as the tall skeleton's voice carries through the room. It reminds you of when you first met him, and he lamented over not having many friends. Now that you think about it, who does he ever spend time with outside you, Frisk, Sans, Undyne, and Alphys?

Papyrus glances over at you and Sans as you make your approach, beaming at the two of you. Frisk has a half-eaten cookie in their mouth and the good sense to look abashed as you raise an eyebrow.

You hold out your empty hand palm-up in front of Frisk. "I know for a fact that there's more than cookies on that buffet table, hand them over and go get yourself something to eat," you say, curling your fingers.

Frisk obediently places their last three cookies in your hand. "Okay..." they mumble, skirting around you to do as you said.

"YOU WERE LATE, SANS," Papyrus chastises, shaking his head and crunching a cookie between his teeth.

"It's my fault, I had to finish up my baking before we could leave," you say, glancing down at the confiscated snacks before taking a bite. Your plate of food from the buffet table is momentarily forgotten. "But," you begin loudly, "I hope you can forgive me, your second-favorite hum—person... and very good friend."

"OH, WELL, IN THAT CASE..." Papyrus says, flushing with pleasure. "OF COURSE I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, FORGIVE YOU! "

"babe, i'm gonna need you to take the blame for everything from now on. clearly he likes you best," Sans says, plucking one of the cookies out of your hand and eating it.

"YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO TRICK ME, SANS! I AM JUST TOO CUNNING! TOO BRILLIANT!" he hesitates, resting his hands on his hips. "BESIDES, YOU KNOW THAT I LIKE YOU BEST."

"you got me, bro," Sans says, giving his brother an affectionate smile.

You spot Frisk finish putting together a plate, but instead of returning to the three of you, you spot them going over to the two large monsters Undyne and Alphys were talking to a few minutes ago. Again, you fight the urge to call them back. Frisk is all smiles and seems to be having a good time. You don't want to let your own fears hold them back, at least not right now. Parties have never really been your thing, but you're trying your best to have a good time too. You pick at the food on your plate as you watch them.

You don't hear the rest of Sans and Papyrus's conversation, because you're too focused on Frisk. But as you turn back to the two of them Papyrus excuses himself to go speak to Undyne.

"you done with that?" Sans asks you, gesturing at your empty paper plate.

"I thought I'd hold onto it. For sentimental reasons," you say, raising an eyebrow.

"well, i wasn't sure if you wanted to get more food or not," he says, raising a brow back at you. Sarcasm was never really your humor of choice, but it seems especially lost on Sans. Well, not lost, but... unappreciated.

You flush a little, feeling uncomfortable. "Yeah, sorry, I just..." He takes your plate from you as you search for something to say, then hands you his drink. "Sorry, I'm  just feeling a little... defensive? I dunno, there's a lot of people and—"

"babe, it's fine. really. i mean, i'm not a huge fan of sarchasm but i don't want it to cause a rift between us." His smile widens as you laugh and start to relax. "i'll be right back. gonna go throw these plates away."

You nod and he leaves you there holding his drink. You finished yours a little while ago so, sure he won't mind, you take a sip. Immediately you start coughing, wholly unprepared for the sharp bite of alcohol mixed in with his punch. Shaking your head, you clear your throat and take in a deep breath.

"A-are you okay?" Alphys asks you, coming to stand with you and giving you a concerned look.

You pat your chest and clear your throat again, nodding. "Yeah, I just wasn't expecting the booze in Sans's drink. Took a sip without knowing," you explain.

"Oh, do you not drink?" she asks, glancing down into her own cup clutched in her hands. 

"Technically, on the surface, I'm not old enough, but... I have before. But I try not to make a habit of it anymore." You shrug and there's a beat of awkward silence. You gesture at Alphys's polka dotted dress, giving her a friendly smile. "You look really cute! It's nice to see you out of that lab coat."

Alphys's cheeks flush with pleasure, glancing down at herself. "Oh, thank you! A-ah, Mettaton actually helped me pick this out a w-while ago..." She looks a little uncomfortable at the mention of Mettaton's name as she looks back up at you. You realize that your expression has gone a bit sour.

"Oh." There's another moment of uncomfortable silence. This is going really well... "Well at least he has good fashion sense," you offer.

"I wanted to t-tell you that he's been a lot better since what h-happened," Alphys blurts out, taking a step closer to you as she searches your face. "He's been a lot n-nicer to me than he was after he started getting famous, and he's even been h-helping out around the lab. It doesn't make up for what he did! B-but I think he feels bad about what happened. He doesn't come out and say it, but I think that's just his p-pride..."

"He should feel bad," you mutter, looking down into Sans's drink. "But I'm glad that he's at least being good to you."

Alphys shifts from foot to foot, the tip of her tail swaying a little. She just nods.

"you sure he's not just trying to trick you?" Sans says coming up beside you and taking his drink back. His free hand is shoved in his jacket pocket, and his grin looks forced. "or that he's just gonna go back to his old ways once he gets tired of playing nice?"

The doctor shrugs her shoulders, meeting Sans's gaze. "I don't know. B-but I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's the least I can do after everything that I've done. Am I r-really that much better?"

"you are," Sans says with an intensity in his voice that surprises you. "you were trying to help everyone, not just yourself."

"By t-toying with people's lives." She winces at her own words, and you can't help but reach out and rest a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Alphys jumps at the contact, eyes widening when she looks up at you.

"Okay, I think that's enough about serious stuff. This is a party, right? Let's try to have some fun!" you say, looking between Sans and Alphys.

Sans nods, taking a long pull from his drink. "good point. no point in skullking over here."


After about an hour of mingling you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and in need of some air. Sans is on his third drink, a blue tinge to his cheekbones. He's not drunk, but he's definitely starting to feel the alcohol. You tap him on the shoulder and he gives you a big grin as he turns to look up at you.

"Hun, I'm gonna step outside, okay? Just out the front door, I promise I'm not wandering off," you tell him. "It's a little hot in here."

"well, it is a housewarming party," he says, winking at you.

You groan and roll your eyes, about to turn away.

"hey, wait," he says. Sans reaches up and cups his hand around the back of your neck, pulling you down for a kiss. You make a startled noise, caught off guard. He's always been affectionate, but not usually when surrounded by so many people. "babe. are you a magnet, because i'm attracted to you."

Blushing, you cover your face awkwardly as he embraces you. "Sans, I think you've had enough to drink."

"negative, i have had just enough to drink. i'm positive." 

"You're certainly more positive than normal," you agree, patting his shoulder. "I'm glad you're having a good time."

"positively," he says, laughing. "well, you go outside, but don't be too long or i'll be bonely. love you."

"I love you too," you assure him, embarrassed and giggling as he hugs you close. You wait a moment, but he's still holding you. You give his side a soft pat. "Sans you have to let me go."

"huh? oh!" he blurts out, chuckling as he gives you a parting nuzzle before releasing you. "sorry, i guess you're just too magnetic."

You shake your head, groaning. "Okay, I think that's been done to death now. Think of some new ones for when I get back."

"ok."

Picking your way through the room, you make it to the front door without incident. With a quick glance back, you make note of Frisk over by the piano with Undyne and Alphys before stepping outside. At least everyone else seems to be having a good time.

The air outside is cool and moist against your skin, a pleasant change from the stuffy warmth in the house. You take in a deep breath, steadying yourself and looking up towards the faraway ceiling. Even here, away from the wishing room, you can see the faint twinkle of crystals. 

"Oh...... Hello."

You lower your eyes at the faint, wispy voice, looking for the source of it. It takes you a second, but you spot a vaguely familiar white shape floating in the shadow of Undyne's house, looking at you with two large, circular eyes. They float over to you, hunched forward a little and glancing down at the ground.

"I don't know if you remember me...... but we met once before......" they say, hovering a few feet away from you. "You...... probably don't......"

You bite your lip, hesitating before it comes to you. "Oh! Napstablook, right? We met in the Ruins!"

A tremulous smile lights up the ghost's face and they nod a little. "Yeah...... it's nice to see you again...... Though, oh no...... I don't remember your name...... oh no......"

"Hey, it's okay! Don't worry about it. What are you doing out here?" you ask, glancing around Undyne's front yard. The two of you are alone out here. "Were you getting some air, too?"

"Oh, I haven't even gone in yet...... Undyne invited me, but...... I don't really do well with crowds......" They glance at the house, eyes watering, then back at you.

You give them a reassuring smile. "I'm not really a big fan of parties either, to be honest. If you want, I can keep you company for a little bit."

"Oh...... That's so nice...... But you don't have to if you don't want to......" You're about to protest but then Napstablook's eyes widen a little. "Oh but...... I'm sorry if this seems random...... But I think Mettaton mentioned you the other day when he came by to visit......"

What? You freeze, giving the yard another quick glance with wide eyes. "You know Mettaton?" you answer carefully, nails digging into your palms.

"He's my cousin...... Though, I didn't know it until he came by...... He used to be a ghost too...... He, um, left one day without saying anything...... But he came by to apologize, which was really nice of him...... I missed him a lot...... And he said he'd come by more often to see me......" They bob up and down a little in the air, and they seem happy. You relax your hands at your sides. "I guess I should thank you and...... Oh no...... Is Frisk not here......? I wanted to thank both of you...... Oh no......"

It's surprising to think of Mettaton and Napstablook as related at all, they're just so different. "You don't have to thank us," you say, feeling a little uncomfortable. You're glad that the shy ghost seems so happy, and even Alphys had nice things to say about Mettaton after what happened. But you just can't find it in yourself to see him any different. At least, not anytime soon, if ever. "But, Frisk is inside if you want to talk to them. You could stay with the two of us, if that would make you more comfortable inside."

Napstablook gives the house an anxious look, then their eyes start watering again. "Oh no...... That's okay...... I think I'll just head home...... But tell Frisk that I said thank you...... Or don't...... I don't want to be an inconvenience......"

You open your mouth to reassure the ghost that you don't mind at all, but they fade away before you can. Alone and a little confused about how to feel, you decide to head back inside to find your friends.

Later that night after you get home, you mention to Sans what Napstablook told you but he seems unmoved. It makes you feel a bit better, and less strangely guilty. You don't have any nightmares.

Chapter Text

Sans takes Frisk to school in the morning, giving them a hug at the front door and an affectionate hair-ruffle before he leaves. Grumbling to themselves, they comb their fingers through their hair to flatten it back out as they go inside to join their classmates. It's still early so everyone that's there is talking and playing. The teacher greets them from her desk, and Frisk gives her a polite smile.

"Yo, Frisk!" Kid calls out, swaying back and forth in their best approximation of a wave. They run over to meet Frisk by the door and end up tripping over the corner of a desk, but Frisk catches them around the shoulders before they fall. "Thanks! That was awesome!"

"You're welcome," Frisk says, smiling at their friend. "You should be more careful."

"Haha, I know, right? Everyone keeps telling me that," Kid says, shifting from foot to foot and looking a little sheepish. "But hey, I wanted to ask you something. So, uh... I can't believe I have to ask, but I gotta know... Is Sans your dad? He's always walking you to school and stuff, and I've seen him with you and your mom a lot."

Frisk twists the sleeves of their sweater in their hands, fighting the urge to cover their mouth. "Um, no. He's not."

"Oh, really? Then, who is your dad?" Kid asks, oblivious to the nervous way Frisk looks down at their ratty sneakers.

"I dunno, I never met him," Frisk says, shrugging. They hadn't given much thought to their real dad before, but now that Kid's brought it up they start to piece together an idea.

"Oh," the armless monster says, unfazed. "Well, is something going on with Sans and your mom?"

"They're dating, if that's what you mean."

Kid looks about ready to say something, but before they can the teacher stands up from her desk and claps her hands together to silence the room. "Okay everyone, good morning! Let's take our seats because I need to tell you about King Asgore's visit to the school next week before we get started with class!"

Frisk is grateful for the interruption, but the reprieve from Kid's questions only lasts until lunchtime. The moment they're allowed up from their desks Kid is at their side again, following them to the cubbies where they keep their lunches.

"Yo! So, I was thinking, if Sans and your mom are dating, then that means he could be your dad. You know, if he wanted to. That's what happened to Izzie!" Kid says, grinning and and nudging Frisk with their shoulder as they snatch up their lunch between their teeth. "Dahd ood dee ool ight?"

Frisk picks up their own lunch, looking down at their name written in big, messy letters with red marker. They have no problem recognizing Sans's bad handwriting, not after weeks of seeing it in the margins of their scrap paper while working through sums together. He's been there for the two of you like no one ever has before, and Frisk's gotten used to it. His help with homework, watching movies together on the couch which end up turning into naps on accident, seeing you happier than they've ever seen you before... Frisk smiles. "Yeah, I think that would be pretty cool!"


You're in the kitchen, getting an early start on dinner when Sans and Frisk get home. Your child shouts a cheerful greeting the second they're inside. By the time you hear the door shut, Frisk is already in the kitchen, dumping their backpack on the table and rushing over to you, flinging their arms around your waist. You raise you hands up with a disgruntled sound.

"Sweetie be careful! I've got a knife in my hand and I could have cut you," you say, lowering your empty hand to rest on top of Frisk's head. "Did you have a good day at school?"

"Mhmm!" they say, glancing over at the counter where you're working. "What's for dinner?"

"Chicken noodle soup." You grab a handful of the carrots you've already chopped, dumping it into the stockpot placed on the stove. Sans comes into the kitchen, making his way to the two of you.

"I thought chicken noodle soup came in a can," Frisk says, giving you a dubious look.

"Well they don't really have that down here," you say. You tried to see if maybe the rabbit's shop had any somehow, but no luck. So you finally decided to try your hand at making it from scratch. "So I'm doing what I can."

"hey babe," Sans says, and the two of you lean over Frisk to share a quick kiss. Frisk groans in protest to being squished between you. "so looks like next week asgore's coming to visit the school. frisk's gonna have to take a sick day or something."

Surprised, your eyebrows raise as you give Sans a cautious look when he pulls away. "Is that going to be enough? Won't that look suspicious?"

"kids get sick all the time, even monster kids. the two've you will just have to stay inside that day is all."

Sans's lack of concern is reassuring, but you're still nervous about the idea of having the king here in Snowdin. As far as you know, he's the only other person with a reason to want your Souls, and one of the few people that can recognize you and Frisk as human on sight.

"If you're sure..." you say, looking back down at the cutting board. You slowly start chopping up the rest of the carrots.

"i'll make sure nothing happens. i'll even take the day off if that'll make you feel better," he offers, leaning against the edge of the stove.

"It would, but I get the feeling that Papyrus won't like that very much," you say, giving Sans a wry smile.

"Mooom!" Frisk whines, tightening their arms around your middle. You glance down at them then back at the cutting board. "I wanna talk to you about something."

"Well I'm right here sweetie, what is it?" You scoop up more carrot slices in your hands and dump it into the pot. The celery is next.

Frisk glances back at Sans, and Sans just blinks. "I wanna talk to you alone," Frisk mumbles.

Sans shoves his hands in his pockets, shrugging amiably. "ok, ok, i can take a hint. i'll be on the couch if you need me." He turns and beats a lazy path out of the kitchen to give the two of you some privacy.

Curiosity piqued, you look down at Frisk as they let go of your waist and start twisting the ends of their sleeves in front of them. Whatever it is they want to talk about, it has them nervous. You return your attention to chopping celery, not wanting Frisk to feel like you're scrutinizing them too much.

"You can talk to me about anything, you know that," you say, guiding the chef's knife with smooth motions. For a moment the only sound the fills the kitchen is the crisp sound of the blade slicing through celery.

"Now that I know you're my mom," Frisk starts, speaking slow and carefully measuring their words. You start to feel tense, but you fight not to show it. "I was wondering who my dad is."

You hesitate for a second, caught off guard, but resume chopping. You don't want Frisk to feel like they've asked something wrong, and honestly you should have expected this. Maybe part of you was expecting this. "He's... Well, his name is Christopher," you say, and it feels strange to tell Frisk about him. "He um... sweetie I'm not sure what you want to know about him."

"Is he still alive?" Frisk asks, and when you glance over at them their expression is earnest and curious.

"Yes, he is," you say, bracing yourself.

"Why don't I know him?"

You have to be careful. How you answer this question is too important. But the more you hesitate the more Frisk will pick up on your worry, and that might do just as much harm as giving the wrong answer. Is there a right answer? You don't think there is. All you can do is your best. "When I got pregnant with you, he and I were very young. And he just wasn't ready for the responsibility. He... decided it would be best for him to not be involved with us. And that's not your fault! You hadn't even been born yet, so don't ever think that it's because of you, sweetie."

Frisk seems to mull this over, chewing on the inside of their lip. You scrape the chopped celery off the cutting board and into the pot, then brush off your hands and crouch in front of them. In this position they're a tiny bit taller than you, and Frisk meets your eyes. "So he didn't want to be with us?" It's less of a question and more of a statement, like they know the answer but they want to be reassured it's the right one. Frisk doesn't sound sad, or upset, and you're not sure if that's a good thing or not.

"That's right," you say, taking hold of Frisk's shoulders. "But that's his loss, isn't it? Because there isn't a greater kid anywhere in the world."

Frisk smiles, looking shy all of a sudden. "You're really great too, Mom," they mumble, bashful. "But... Sans does want to be with us. Does that mean he can be my dad?"

You don't even have time to think of how to reply to that question, because of course Sans chooses that moment to come back to the kitchen. He's obviously heard Frisk because he's stuck in the doorway with the expression of a deer caught in headlights. The two of you lock eyes, and you can feel the weight of Frisk's question weighing down on both of you. Sans looks like he'd like nothing better than to be anywhere else right now, and can you really blame him? There's no good way for either of you to handle this right now. 

"Sweetie it's... it's not really that simple," you say, looking back down at Frisk.

"Why not? My real dad decided he didn't want to be my dad anymore, so can't Sans decide to be my Dad instead?" Frisk's eyes are wide and innocent, chewing on their lip as they try to figure out this puzzle you've laid before them.

"That's something that he and I would need to talk about. It's a big responsibility, being someone's parent," you say, feeling the weight of Sans's eyes on you. What if this isn't something that Sans wants? But, he knew that being with you included Frisk, so surely this can't come as a complete surprise.

This isn't something you were expecting to deal with today.

"So... is that a maybe?" Frisk asks you, their expression brightening.

"Frisk, is that something you'd want? For Sans to be your dad?" You fight the urge to look up at Sans, to try and see what he's thinking.

Frisk flings their arms around your neck, catching you by surprise as they give you a big hug and bury their face into the side of your neck. You fold them up in your arms, cradling them against your chest as you sink to your knees, and when you finally let yourself look up at the doorway Sans has one hand hanging in the air, like he was going to reach out for the two of you but caught himself halfway. There's something in his face that you can only describe as longing. It's painful and bittersweet, and you wish you knew exactly what he was thinking so you knew what to say.

"Yeah," Frisk says, their voice muffled between your two bodies, pressed close. "I wished, a while ago, with Papyrus... Back in Waterfall. That the four of us could be a family. And if Sans was my dad then Papyrus would be my uncle! And we'd all be a family like I wished."

You feel your eyes start to well up with tears, and you shut them to keep yourself from crying. You want that too. You want to be a real family, but how can you make that promise so soon? It's only been two and a half months since you started dating Sans and just shy of three since you even met. There's too many reasons to say no, and too many reasons to say yes.

Swallowing and taking a moment to breathe, you give Frisk an extra-tight squeeze. "I'm not sure we can decide that just yet sweetie, but I promise I'll talk to Sans about it. Just... keep this between us now, okay? I don't want you to surprise him."

"Okay," Frisk agrees, nodding. They try to pull out of your hug, pushing against your shoulders. You open your eyes and when you blink to clear them Sans is gone. Letting Frisk go, you give them an affectionate smile.

"You promise?" you ask, leaning forward to press your forehead to theirs.

"I promise," Frisk says, grinning and pushing back.

"Okay, how about you tell me about your day while I finish getting dinner started?" You push yourself onto your feet and hoist Frisk up by their hands, nudging them over to a kitchen chair.

And with the easily-distracted nature of a six year old, you and Frisk change topics without a backwards glance.

Chapter Text

Papyrus spends most of his day with Undyne and Alphys in the garbage dump, helping them pick through trash while periodically wandering off to give them some time alone. He's glad that the two of them finally worked out their feelings, and he can't help but feel a bit responsible for this excellent turn of events. Granted, you helped out a lot, but surely it was due to his own urging.

Their day ends with the three of them jogging back to Alphys's lab, Papyrus shouting words of encouragement the whole way. Afterwards, he and Undyne take a much more relaxed pace back to the fish monster's house. The heat of Hotland always takes a toll on her, even without her armor.

After spending some time with Undyne, making sure she gets plenty of water (she rolls her eyes at him, but accepts his hovering with only a little argument), Papyrus decides that he should head home. But, as he leaves the small enclosed space that makes up Undyne's front yard, he spots a familiar, rectangular shape.

Mettaton doesn't seem to notice Papyrus as he rolls on his single wheel away from Napstablook's house. If it's possible for a metal rectangle to look contemplative, Mettaton is managing somehow. His screen is dark save for a single row of yellow through the center.

Pushing through a small bout of nerves, Papyrus jogs after him with long-legged strides. "H-HELLO METTATON! FANCY SEEING YOU HERE!"

The robot does an odd little jerk, a whirring noise tapping away inside his body. It almost sounds like a computer fan getting stuck. Spinning around to face Papyrus, the line of yellow contracts to a single square, then changes into an exclamation point that fills the center of his screen. "Oh! Ah, Papyrus! You startled me, darling," he says, resting a hand over his row of dials. "Your... brother isn't with you, is he?"

"SANS? NO HE SHOULD BE AT HOME RIGHT NOW. BUT NOW THAT YOU MENTION HIM, SANS IS VERY ANGRY WITH YOU STILL!" Papyrus frowns, resting his hands on his hipbones. "HE SAID THAT YOU TRIED TO HURT THE HUMANS."

Mettaton's screen floods with yellow, then three red squares fill across the center, like an ellipsis. "Ah, yes, well... that's true."

"HE NEVER TOLD ME WHAT HAPPENED, BUT I THOUGHT MAYBE IT WAS SOME SORT OF MISUNDERSTANDING." Papyrus sighs, wringing his gloved hands.

"Not exactly. Though, the entire situation is all rather regrettable, in retrospect," Mettaton says, giving a helpless shrug with his arms.

"MAYBE IF YOU APOLOGIZED, THEN THINGS WOULD BE BETTER! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM SURE THAT IF YOU TRY—"

"Darling that's... adorably naive of you," Mettaton cuts in, his voice sweet and placating, "But I'm certain that your brother would much rather never catch sight of me anywhere near—"

"BUT YOU'LL NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU TRY! IF YOU FEEL BADLY ABOUT WHAT YOU DID, YOU SHOULD TELL THEM. MAYBE THEY'LL FORGIVE YOU!" Papyrus strikes a gallant pose, the tail of his scarf fluttering in a non-existent breeze. "THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED WITH UNDYNE! AND YOU ARE SORRY, AREN'T YOU?"

Mettaton just stares, his screen changing to a pair of dots for eyes and a flat line for an expressionless mouth. "Yes, well, that may be true. And I would like to apologize... But I really don't think that Sans wants an apology. He just wants me gone."

"NONSENSE! MY BROTHER IS MUCH KINDER THAN THAT!" With enough courage and enthusiasm to break past what shyness he might feel around his robot idol, Papyrus reaches out and takes hold of Mettaton's hand. "TRUE, HE MAY NOT BE AS KIND AS ME! BUT I THINK THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION IS TO LET THEM KNOW YOU'RE SORRY!"

Even without eyes, Mettaton seems to look down at the way Papyrus has latched onto his hand. "You're a sweetheart, Papyrus, but really. I think it's best if—"

"COME WITH ME! I'M SURE WE CAN GET ALL OF THIS SORTED OUT IN NO TIME!" Ignoring the robot's protests, Papyrus turns on his heel and pulls Mettaton after him, determined to make everything right again.


What the hell had Sans walked into?

The only bit of comfort he found was in the equally shocked look on your face the moment your eyes met. But, did that mean that you didn't want him to take on that role?

God, what did he even want?

Dad.

He's sitting back on the couch where he should have stayed, rigid with his elbow propped up on the armrest, holding his forehead in his hand. He supposes this was inevitable. With the way things have been progressing with the two of you, it was only a matter of time before the discussion turned towards Frisk. But he hadn't expected to get blindsided by it, and from the looks of it neither had you. You didn't tell Frisk 'no', but was that because you didn't want to upset the kid, or because you didn't want to make that choice for him? What would your answer have been if he hadn't walked in at that moment?

What does he want your answer to be?

He's hurt (killed) Frisk. He's taken care of Frisk. And now... he's started to love Frisk. It's been weeks since he realized that he was afraid of losing both of you, but can he really step up to that plate? Sure it's been something he's thought of before, especially considering his relationship with you, but to hear the idea spoken out loud, by Frisk no less. He didn't realize that the kid thought of him that way.

He doesn't deserve to be thought of that way. How can he ever look Frisk in the eye and not see what he's done? Just the thought of something like that happening again, of them coming back and Sans having to put them down like an animal again after all this... it tears him up inside. He doesn't deserve to be called 'Dad' by a kid he's killed more times than he wants to remember.

But Frisk wants him. They want him to be the person he isn't sure he can be. After everything, maybe he owes it to the kid to try. Maybe he owes it to you to be Frisk's other parent.

But how can he be a parent to the child that could take all his happiness away in an instant? How can he even try to control a kid with that much power? Power they don't seem to realize they even have...

How can he let himself make it that much more unbearable if there was a Reset? Not only would he not even know if you'd come out of those Ruins with Frisk, but having to go back to absolutely nothing with both of you all over again...

But part of him —so much of him, the parts that let you in to begin with— wanted to say yes.

He wanted to wrap you both up and tell you yes and swear that the three of you —no, four because Papyrus would be an amazing uncle— would be a family, just like Frisk's wish. The family that you've never had but he knows you want. A family that would give Frisk the love that they deserve.

Is this what Frisk needed? You and a family and love? Is that what this all was working towards? Would this stop the Resets and finally give them all peace and a future?

But he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know how to make this decision. This isn't some small thing. This is something permanent. And it's not just his choice, if anything it's yours. And he has no clue what you think about it.

If you told him that you want him to be that person for Frisk, to be Dad, could he say yes?

But he's not sure that he wants to hear you say no, either.


"Alright, I'm gonna leave this pot on the stove because it has to simmer for a while, but leave it alone, okay sweetie?" You shift the heavy stock pot full of soup on the burner, making sure the lid is in place before turning to Frisk.

Frisk is sitting at the kitchen table, worksheets spread out in front of them as they scratch away dutifully with one of those gaudy colored pencils that Sans let them pick out. The more expensive ones you tried to talk them out of, but Sans insisted he'd pay for.

You think that some people might be bitter over how much Sans and Papyrus have taken care of you and Frisk. Knowing that in your situation, you'd have nothing without them. No money, nowhere to live, and honestly, you're not sure that you and Frisk would be okay in the Underground without them. But you've never had an independent streak. You're not bitter or frustrated that right now you don't have the means to take care of yourself or Frisk on your own. Instead you're just so grateful. They took you in and cared for both of you and loved you. Treated you like family.

Family.

You lean down and press a kiss to Frisk's forehead through the curtain of their bangs, earning yourself a half-hearted protest. "You stay here and finish your homework. Just holler if you need me," you say.

"Okay, Mom."

Sans is in the living room, sitting on the couch and looking like he's bracing himself. He's holding his head with one hand, elbow propped on the armrest and his other arm is buried deep in his jacket pocket. Nervous sweat is dotting the side of his skull and the lights in his eye sockets are dim as they flick over to you. You can only wonder at what he must be thinking right now.

He loves you, but is it enough to commit to you and Frisk, completely? The last time someone you cared about was offered the title of 'dad', they left. You can't help but feel the anxious twist of fear in your stomach at the thought.

You and Sans look at each other, and the uncertainty you see mirrored back at you makes you realize something. "Hey," you say, approaching the couch. Sans straightens his back, lifting his head from his hand.

"hey," he echos back, shifting a little to turn towards you as you take a seat beside him.

"So... I just want to say that... we don't have to talk about this yet," you say, fumbling over the words as you search his face. A little bit of the tension eases away from his eyes, but he's still a bit shaken.

"i get that. but... i don't want you to make any decisions that you're not ready to make, i mean..." Sans reaches out and takes your hand, pressing your palms together before tangling his fingers with yours. He looks down at your joined hands, staring at them and studying them in a moment of heavy silence.

"I don't want you to feel pressured either," you murmur, leaning forward and tipping your head up to try and get him to look at your face. "The last thing I want is to scare you off, like..."

Sans's head jerks up to meet your eyes, the white lights glowing brighter. "i'm not going anywhere," he says, reaching out with his free hand to cup your cheek. "it takes a lot more than this to get me rattled."

You don't realize the true extent of your fear until relief floods you, sweetened by the comforting familiarity of Sans's pun. Smiling, you let out a breath you didn't know you were holding. "Good," you say, leaning forward to press your forehead to his, twisting the fingers of your free hand in the thick fluff of his jacket and holding tight. "Because I don't know what I'd do without you."

You expect a joke. Maybe a quip about you being bonely without him, or something similar. But instead he buries his hand deep into the thickness of your hair and cradles your head, tilting so he can meet your lips with his mouth. A kiss for your sake. "i love you. i love you, and i love frisk. i want you both to stay here. with me. and when we're both ready to make this more, ah," Sans fumbles for a second, and you think you see a hint of blue on his cheekbones, "permanent, i'm willing to make that commitment to both of you." Your cheeks feel warm, and Sans pulls away enough that he can glance away, then back to you. For a moment he seems almost shy. "so, uh, this isn't really a yes or a no. but maybe more of a someday."

You didn't think it was possible, but somehow your heart swells with even more love than before. Tears well up in your eyes at the sheer strength of it, and your smile is wide across your face. "I think 'someday' sounds perfect."

Chapter Text

Frisk joins you and Sans on the couch after they finish their homework, squeezing themselves between the two of you.  Sans has his arm around your shoulders and he catches your eye as Frisk settles in and leans their head against your chest. You think you can see a hint of blue on his cheekbones and you feel a warm flutter in your chest. You share a tender smile over Frisks's head, then go back to watching the TV.

The scrape of keys in the door draws your attention and you glance over to see Papyrus poke his head inside. He glances behind him, then steps in and quickly shuts the door. Standing there in the entryway, Papyrus looks at the front door, over at you and Sans, and then clears his throat.

"HELLO SANS! AND HUMANS!" he says, but he looks like he's rooted to the floor.

Sans pulls his arm off of your shoulders, leaning forward to give his brother a quizzical look. "what's up, bro?"

Papyrus looks at the door again and hesitates, raising a fist up to his mouth as he frowns. He looks more serious than you've seen him in a while, and you give Sans a confused and slightly worried look. Your boyfriend just gives you a small shake of his head, just as lost as you are. Then, seemingly resolved to his course of action, Papyrus lowers his fist to press it to his hip.

"I HAVE SOMEONE HERE TO SEE YOU!" he says, his expression determined but nervous sweat dots the side of his skull. "I KNOW THAT YOU SAID YOU WANTED ME TO KEEP HIM AWAY, BUT—"

"what?"

You feel a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and Sans rocks forward onto his feet, shoving his hands in his pockets as his eyes narrow slightly. Frisk gives you a confused look and tries to follow you as you stand, but you push back against their chest to keep them seated. They frown and look at Papyrus but stay there.

"I RAN INTO HIM ON MY WAY HOME, AND WE WERE TALKING, AND I THINK HE DESERVES THE CHANCE TO APOLOGIZE!" Papyrus blurts out, looking between the two of you anxiously.

"he doesn't deserve anything," Sans says, fighting to keep his tone even and failing.

"BROTHER!"

"Are you saying that you brought Mettaton to the house?" you blurt out, drawing both sets of eye sockets over to you. "And that he wants to apologize?"

"YES, HE DOES," Papyrus says, nodding and smiling at you. Bless him, he's so earnest it's hard to be mad at him. But Sans seems to be losing a bit of patience.

You feel a gentle tug on the back of your shirt. You don't have to look to know that it's Frisk. "Mom, that's good."

Sans shakes his head, gritting his teeth. "papyrus, this isn't as simple as an apology. i know you mean well—"

"I want to hear what he has to say." The room goes silent, both skeletons looking at you. Sans's brow furrows in confusion, searching your face. Papyrus's smile widens. "Both Alphys and Napstablook said he's been acting different," you add, glancing towards the door and feeling a little uncertain now that all attention is on you. "I want to see for myself."

"babe, you don't have to do this. i know you're not..." Sans trails off, shoulders hunched.

He doesn't want to say it in front of Papyrus and Frisk, but you know he's talking about the nightmares. About how you still refuse to watch any shows with Mettaton (which pretty much limits you to the brothers' collection of battered DVDs).

"I know I don't have to," you say, sounding more confident than you feel. "But maybe this will make things easier for me, and everyone. Besides..." You offer him a small smile. "You're here with me this time. You'll keep me safe."

His expression is unreadable, a passive mask with a hollow smile. "i'm trying to."

"OF COURSE YOU'LL BE SAFE! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM HERE TO PROTECT YOU!" Papyrus's body relaxes a little now that the initial fallout is through. Sans looks back over at his brother, shifting to stand closer to you as the taller skeleton turns to the door. "NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. HE'S HERE TO APOLOGIZE AFTER ALL."

You look for Frisk. They've moved from one side to the other, standing behind and between you and Sans. "You stay behind us, sweetie. Okay?" you say.

Frisk nods, taking hold of your pocket. The small weight of their hand on your clothes is reassuring.

Papyrus opens the door and you feel tension coiling in your chest. Anxiety makes your skin tingle and your heart is beating fast. Not pounding, but near enough as your body braces for fight or flight. You can see the gray corner of Mettaton's rectangular body through the door, and in the back of your mind you think that Alphys must still be working on his more humanoid one after what Endogeny did to it. In a way, this makes it a little easier. Not much, but it's something.

Mettaton doesn't move. "Papyrus, I really think I should just go..."

"NONSENSE! METTATON, YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO APOLOGIZE AND NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!" Papyrus reaches out and takes hold of Mettaton's arm, dragging him inside. You're starting to wonder if this was really Mettaton's idea in the first place... "YOU CAME ALL THIS WAY."

The robot mumbles something that sounds like, "Yes, because you pulled me the entire way." He rolls a bit closer to Papyrus, putting the skeleton between himself and you. Or maybe it's himself and Sans. You look over at your boyfriend and his eye sockets are narrow, his hands still shoved deep into his pockets.

"so. pap says you wanna apologize, huh?" Sans says slowly, rocking forward onto the toes of his slippers and back down to the heels. He sounds casual on the surface, but there's something threatening underneath.

 "I did, I do! I, ah..." Mettaton's display changes from a large 'M' into a blocky frowny face. You actually have to fight the urge to laugh. "Sans, please stop looking at me like that I'm trying."

"i still haven't heard an apology." Sans raises a brow as you watch the two of them, surprised at the way that Mettaton seems scared of Sans.

The display goes red with a yellow exclamation point. His arms go wide, but he doesn't move from behind Papyrus as he focuses his attention on you. "I'm sorry! Darlings, really, like I said before it was nothing personal, I was just—"

"too wrapped up in your own bloated ego to think that maybe your own fame wasn't worth two lives?" Sans isn't rocking back and forth anymore. He seems to be enjoying watching the robot squirm. You're not sure you blame him after everything that's happened.

Papyrus wrings his heads, looking a little uncertain. You can't imagine this is how he thought this would play out.

Mettaton flinches and his screen goes dark. "Yes, and—"

"your selfishness only hurts the people around you?"

"Yes, that's fair, and—"

"you don't deserve what friends you do have, let alone forgiveness for what you've done?" Sans is gritting his teeth now and you feel Frisk tug on your pocket, making an anxious noise.

"Sans, please!" Mettaton blurts out, his screen lights up again, blinking between red and yellow in agitation.

"Hun," you say, reaching next to you to slip your hand into the crook of Sans's arm. He glances over at you, some of the tension in his face easing away. "As much as Mettaton deserves every word..." Without thinking, you reach up to rub your cheek where the robot hit you, now completely healed for almost a week. "You're not letting him speak."

"Thank you!" the robot says, sighing and throwing his hands up in the air.

"Oh no, don't thank me," you say, frowning and dropping your hand from your face. "You owe me a damn apology. And Frisk. Do you realize what you did?"

Mettaton's arms go limp at his sides as he rocks back and forth on his wheel. You can only compare it to nervous shuffling. He makes a noise like he's clearing his throat and goes still, clasping his hands in front of his dials. "I do, and for that I am sorry. For someone who admires and loves humans, I certainly haven't treated you that way. I think it goes without saying that trying to kill both of you was selfish on my part, and that despite my insistence that I was doing it to protect the humans on the surface... I know that I wasn't being entirely truthful with myself."

He twists his hands and his screen goes dark. "And to make matters worse I tried to use our... confrontation as another means to an end to boost my own ratings. I'd like to let you know that all the footage I took down in the True Lab was destroyed, in part from Alphys's insistence. You've done a lot for her and as her... as her friend I'm grateful. I'm trying to do better because of everything that's happened. Especially with my friends and... family." Mettaton trails off, sounding genuinely remorseful.

There's a beat of silence as you soak everything in. You've been tricked by Mettaton already, but he seems sincere. He's not posturing, or being grandiose. It didn't even seem like Mettaton even wanted to be here at all, like he knew he wasn't welcome. Maybe this is a peek at the Mettaton at his core; the ghost inside the robot body. You glance over at Sans and he seems unimpressed. You wonder if you should be feeling that way too, but you can't help but feel the smallest bit touched by it all.

Papyrus's eyes widened about halfway through Mettaton's apology. He turns on his heel to face the robot, hands clenched into fists at his sides. "YOU TRIED TO KILL THEM?!" He lets out a dramatic, frustrated sigh.

Three red dots flicker to life across Mettaton's screen. "Yes darling. You... never gave me much of a chance to explain that little detail." Mettaton gives a nervous little laugh and you cover your mouth in an attempt not to smile.

"THIS IS THE SECOND TIME SOMEONE HAS TRIED TO KILL THEM, AND FRANKLY IT'S GETTING QUITE TIRESOME!" Papyrus shoots Mettaton a stern look and the robot's screen goes dark again. A high-pitched whining sound comes from deep inside his rectangular body. "BUT I'M GLAD THAT YOU HAVE APOLOGIZED, AND THAT THIS HAS BEEN RESOLVED PEACEFULLY!"

You and Sans exchange a look, eyebrows raised. Frisk giggles behind you.

"Well, yes, about that," Mettaton says, making a throat-clearing sound again. "I would just like to repeat that I am sorry for everything that happened. And to try and make it up to you I have something of a gift!" The robot raises his hands, familiar enthusiasm returning to his voice as an exclamation point glows on his display. "There's a resort near the Core that I own, the two of you could come stay there, free of charge! The room, food, amenities, everything! All taken care of. Just let me know when and I'll make it happen."

"Two of us?" you ask, frowning slightly. "There's three of us. Four if you count Papyrus."

"You're more than welcome to bring the whole family, but I assumed that you and Sans would prefer a romantic getaway," Mettaton says, his display turning into a question mark. "Whatever you decide, it will be taken care of, if you're interested."

You expect Sans to refuse immediately, but instead there's silence. Glancing over at him, you see Sans looking up at you, a calm, steady expression on his face. "well babe, how do you feel about the calculator's apology?"

Mettaton seems to bristle at the remark, but doesn't say anything. You chew your lip, squeezing Sans's arm and looking back at the robot. "I accept your apology... but I can't forgive what you did, and especially not what you tried to do. But... I appreciate that you apologized. It puts my mind a little more at ease." Your eyes flick back to Sans and he gives you a small nod.

"well, then i'll be the one to accept your offer mettaton. we'll let you know when we wanna take you up on that." San's smile turns into a grin, but it doesn't reach his eyes and there's something predatory about it. "we'll be sure to take full advantage of you covering the bill."

"Yes, I expect nothing less," Mettaton says flatly.

Frisk takes a few minutes to ask about Napstablook and you can hear the affection in the robot's voice as they speak. Mettaton leaves shortly after, now that things are as resolved as they're going to be. After Mettaton is gone Papyrus gushes over how happy he is that everything has been cleared up, and neither your or Sans has the heart to tell him that things aren't exactly perfect. But, you're certain that they're better. Frisk is also all smiles, beaming up at you.

As things settle back down, Sans starts chuckling. "you know what's funny? the resort is where that restaurant i was telling you about is. the one for the hot date i wanted to take you on. looks like it'll finally happen."


Frisk doesn't seem very interested in a trip to a fancy hotel and Papyrus agrees that whenever you two decide to take advantage of Mettaton's offer, he'll stay home to take care of them. For now you're in no hurry, so the two of you keep it in mind for later. Besides, you still have Asgore's visit to Snowdin's school to worry about.

Frisk says their schoolmates won't stop talking about it. Apparently he's visited before and makes it a regular habit to make the rounds throughout the Underground. If it wasn't for the fact that he would likely kill you or Frisk on sight, he sounds like a nice guy. All the residents of Snowdin seem to think so. Even Sans and Papyrus have nothing but decent things to say about him.

You wonder, one day while mulling over the upcoming visit, if visiting schools is difficult for him. After losing two children, what must it be like to surround himself with them? Is it comforting? Is it hard? Maybe it's both.

It's two days before Asgore's visit and you're home alone with Papyrus, helping him clean when Sans comes home with a sopping wet and freezing Frisk. You can literally hear their teeth chattering as they come into the house and you shove the broom into Papyrus's hands in your rush to reach the two of them.

"Sweetie what happened?" you ask, looking from Frisk to Sans and then taking your child by their ice cold hand to lead them upstairs. "Come on you're going to take a hot bath right now."

"W-we were p-playing in W-Waterfall and I s-slipped into a p-pond and then e-everyone else j-jumped in t-too and we had f-fun!" Frisk blurts out, shivering so violently they're having trouble speaking.

"What were you doing in Waterfall? I thought I told you to stay here in Snowdin," you say, frowning. Sans clears his throat and you look back at him as you flick on the light for the bathroom.

Sans pulls the door closed save for a crack to give you and Frisk some privacy as you turn the knobs to run a bath. You have to help Frisk get undressed because they're shaking so much. "i was at my station on the border, i told frisk and the kids it was okay," he says, his voice slightly muffled by the door between you.

"And you didn't stop them from getting soaked to the bone?" you ask, wrapping Frisk up in a towel as you wait for the bathtub to fill, rubbing your hands up and down their arms and sides to try and warm them up.

"was that supposed to be a joke?"

"No, Sans, it wasn't," you snap, gathering Frisk's wet clothes and shoving the dripping wad of them into Sans's chest. He gives you a wide-eyed look, grabbing the clothes as you let them go. "I know we're having Frisk take some sick days from school, but I didn't want them to actually get sick."

You don't give Sans a chance to reply before shutting the door most of the way again and checking on the bathtub. It's not full enough yet.

"sick?"

"Yes, sick."

"they were just playing around in the water, i didn't think it would be a problem. they were having fun." Sans sounds confused.

You sigh. "It's the freezing cold after getting soaking wet that's the problem. Okay sweetie I think that's full enough to get you in the tub come on."

Unwrapping Frisk from the towel, you help them step into the tub. They flinch away, yanking their foot out. "It's too hot!"

Reaching your hand in, it feels pleasantly warm to you. "No it's not, it just feels that way because you're cold. Come on, you need to warm back up."

With some gentle coaxing you get Frisk submerged, letting the tub continue to fill until it's nearly to the top. Sighing, you make sure they're situated before turning to go peek out into the hall. Sans is standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets, rubbing the toe of his slipper into the carpet. Frisk's clothes are nowhere to be seen so he must have taken them to the laundry and come back.

He looks up as you open the door just enough to lean out of the bathroom. "i'm sorry, i didn't realize stuff like that can get humans sick. you didn't get sick after our trip to waterfall."

"I'm older and my immune system is better," you say, sighing and shaking your head. "But I could have."

Frisk sneezes and you turn away from Sans to go check on them. Sniffling, they look up at you, rubbing their nose. You go to check their forehead but then realize the futility of your attempt between the hot water and the fact that they were ice cold moments ago. There's no way to tell if they have a temperature until later.

"How do you feel?" you ask, pushing wet hair out of their face.

"Warmer," Frisk says, letting themselves slip lower into the water, up to their chin. "My throat feels a little itchy."

Wonderful. At least now you know how to make chicken noodle soup from scratch.

"babe? is frisk okay?" Sans asks from his spot outside the bathroom.

You sigh again. "If anything I'm sure it's just a cold. They'll be okay."

Chapter Text

Frisk isn't okay.

Papyrus comes to get you in the middle of the night because Frisk is coughing and he's worried. The sound is rough and wet and has you almost certain that this isn't just a cold. When you and the skeleton brothers go back to Papyrus's room they're sitting up in bed with the comforter wrapped around them, looking at you piteously and breathing through their mouth. They shiver as you reach out to feel their forehead and you're not surprised to find that they're hot to the touch and sweating. Definitely a fever. Frisk makes a pathetic whining sound as you push damp hair from their face. They try to draw in a deep breath through their nose but it just makes a horrible squelching sound until they give up and swallow.

"Okay sweetie, let's get you something to bring this temperature down. Stay right here," you say, doing your best to not sound worried. As you lean down to kiss their clammy forehead you hesitate, realization dawning on you as you pull back. "Do we have any medicine in the house? Or even a thermometer?" You turn to look at the two skeletons waiting at the foot of the bed. Papyrus just gives you an uncertain look and wrings his hands, Sans shakes his head.

"Do you know what I'm talking about? Have you heard of Motrin, or Advil, or Tylenol?" you ask, searching Sans's face.

"no," Sans says. "maybe there's some at the shop? if it's an emergency i'm sure i can—"

"I'll check in the morning when they open," you say, turning back to Frisk. They're looking up at you with wide, worried eyes. "It's not an emergency, it's just a fever," you add, trying to reassure Frisk and Sans both. Maybe yourself, too.

"I don't feel good," Frisk whines, coughing and leaning forward to press their forehead into your chest. Each loud, wracking cough makes your heart twist painfully as you wrap your arms around them, stroking their back until it subsides. "My throat hurts."

"I think Undyne left some of her tea here. Why don't we go make you some? It'll help." As you help Frisk to their feet you snatch up an extra blanket from the foot of the bed and wrap them up in it. You can't remember if bundling up is a good or bad thing for a fever (you've heard both) but you can't stand to watch them shiver.

Sans disappeared when you weren't looking, and you think you can hear the distant sound of the kitchen faucet. Papyrus watches the two of you as you head for the door.

"IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO HELP?" he asks, reaching out and touching your shoulder.

You cover his hand with your own, giving him a comforting squeeze and an attempt at a smile. "We've got it from here, Pap. Why don't you get some more sleep, I know you have puzzles to calibrate and a forest to patrol."

Papyrus shakes his head, frowning. "THAT ISN'T MORE IMPORTANT THAN DOING MY BEST TO MAKE SURE FRISK IS WELL! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, MUST DO MY UTMOST TO HELP MY FRIEND!"

Frisk starts coughing again and you wince. You grip their shoulder with your free hand, still looking at Papyrus. "The best thing you can do right now is get some sleep. I get the feeling that we're gonna be up the rest of the night, so knowing you'll be well-rested in the morning will help, I promise."

"...IF YOU'RE CERTAIN," he says, pulling away and clasping his hands in front of him. "THEN I WILL BE SURE TO GET AS MUCH SLEEP AS POSSIBLE SO THAT WHEN YOU NEED ME, I'LL BE READY TO HELP!"

You make your way downstairs and get Frisk settled on the couch with a Disney movie (Dumbo, as it turns out) and go into the kitchen to check on Sans. He's gripping the edge of the counter next to the stove, staring vacantly at the kettle with his shoulders hunched and his weight leaned forward onto his arms. You can see the guilt written all over him, weighing on his back and darkening his eye sockets. As you enter the kitchen and push your sleep-mussed hair out of your face, he shoves away from the counter and straightens to look at you. His mouth is thin, the corners pulled down into a grimace.

"this is all my fault," he says, shaking his head. His tone is harsh, his frustration directed inward.

You close the distance and reach out for him but he pulls away, shoving his hands in his pockets. You hesitate for a second, thinking about leaving him be. No, this isn't right. You close the distance again, reaching out with both hands and taking hold of the sides of his skull, turning him to look at you. "You didn't know," you say, giving him a small shake. "Please don't do this right now, I can't worry about you blaming yourself and Frisk at the same time."

Sans scoffs, eyes flicking downwards. "then don't worry about me. i don't want you to."

You shake him again, scowling. "Tough shit, Sans. I'm gonna worry about you, because I love you." Letting go of his head, you wrap your arms around his neck and hug him tight. After a moment you feel him relax, giving you a weak hug in return.

"i love you too," he says, sighing.

"Go sit with Frisk." You can hear them coughing as you pull away. "I know how to make tea the way they like."

A few minutes later you join the two of them in the dark living room, carefully passing Frisk a steaming mug and setting a box of tissues on the couch beside them. You settle yourself between them, stroking Frisk's hair as they lean heavily into your side and sip their tea. With a tired and weak contented noise, they take another sip.

"This tastes good," they mumble, voice thick.

"Good. That means you'll drink it all, right?" It better taste good. You put in enough sugar that it's almost syrup.

"Yeah." As they start coughing you reach to steady the mug, worried that they're going to spill hot tea on themselves. As Frisk's tiny body seizes against yours and goes stiff with each hacking cough, you rub soothing circles into their back. Worry tightens in your chest and you feel Sans touch your shoulder in an attempt to comfort you.

Frisk finishes off their tea by the pyramid scene and Sans takes the empty mug and tucks it on his other side in the couch cushions. Their coughing is a bit better, but not by much. With a weak, pitiful groan, Frisk crawls into your lap and tucks their head under your chin. You wrap your arms around them, holding them close and swaying back and forth. The coughing subsides and slowly they feel heavier against your chest.

As if conspiring against you, Dumbo's mom starts singing 'Baby Mine' and you feel yourself start to tear up. Even if Frisk wasn't sick, you think this song would go straight to your heart. Your throat tightens and you stop rocking so you can lean against Sans. He pulls you in close with an arm around your shoulder and when you look up at him you bite your lip in an attempt not to cry.

"babe," he says gently, cupping your cheek with his free hand, tracing his thumb over the curve of your brow.

You give a small shake of your head, closing your eyes and leaning into his palm. "I'm fine, it's just the movie," you whisper.

"try to get some sleep." He coaxes you to lay your head against his shoulder and you let him, shifting to find a comfortable spot. Sans takes hold of Frisk's legs and pulls them into his lap.

Closing your eyes, you will yourself to try and do as Sans says.


The rabbits may have tampons and pads stocked in their shop, but you don't have any luck with the medicine. The best you can do is more ingredients for chicken noodle soup.

You text Alphys on your way back from the store. 'Do you have any medicine to help reduce fevers? Frisk's sick.'

There's a small delay, and by the time you get back to the house Alphys has responded. 'What's a fever?'

You stare at the screen blankly for a moment as you set the bag of groceries down on the kitchen counter. Sighing, you type back. 'Do you have any human medical books?'

Shoving your phone in your jacket pocket, you pull out a cutting board to get to work. Sans appears at your side, but you feel so distracted you're not sure if he walked up or teleported. It doesn't really matter.

"any luck?" he asks, sounding hopeful.

You shake your head. "I tried asking Alphys if maybe she has anything, but she doesn't even know what a fever is. I thought you said monsters can get sick?"

"it's different. our illnesses are magical, but from what you told me last night, they sound sorta similar." He reaches out and rests his hand on your back. The pressure is comforting, but you continue chopping off the ends of the celery and carrots so you can rinse them in the sink.

"How's Frisk?" you ask, glancing over at him as you scoop up the unusable bits and carry them over to the trash can.

You check your phone before picking the knife back up. Alphys responded. 'I think so, I'll see what I can do.'

'Thanks.'

"sleeping again. they finished some breakfast and i got 'em tucked back in pap's bed."

You nod, focusing your attention on the smooth motions of the knife through the carrots. "Good. The best thing they can do is sleep right now."


Frisk's been asleep for a few hours and you're starting to worry. It's lunchtime and they need to eat something. When you peek into Papyrus's room they're still tucked into the center of the racecar bed, rolled onto their side and facing the display of robotic action figures. It takes you a moment to realize how quiet the room is.

Struck with a sudden swell of fear, you rush to the bed and kneel on the edge, leaning forward to push hair out of Frisk's face. They're still burning up and as you roll them onto their back they don't wake. The hissing sound of their breathing through barely-parted lips finally reaches you, but it does little to quell your fears.

"Frisk, wake up," you say, stroking their face. They groan a little and scrunch up their face but don't open their eyes. "Baby, wake up!"

Their eyes flutter for a moment but Frisk's head just rocks back and forth before settling again, fists balling into the blankets covering them. Fear squeezes your heart and you feel a chill run down your spine. Panic threatens to break through to the surface as you're frozen there, staring, desperately tying to think of what you should do. If you were on the surface you'd call a doctor, or take them to the hospital but down there they don't even know what a fever is!

"what's going on?"

You look up to see Sans in the doorway, framed by the light in the rest of the house. You shake your head, trembling as tears start to swim in your eyes. "Frisk isn't waking up."

Sans's sockets go dark and he's at your side in an instant, kneeling on the bed and reaching for Frisk's face. The similarities in the pale white of his bones and the washed out color of your child's face make you bite back a sob, fingers twisting in the blanket under you. "c'mon kiddo, this isn't funny. you can't just fall down like this, you gotta get back up," he says, shaking his head. He looks up at you and you can barely make out the two tiny lights of his eyes. "they were just sleeping earlier. kid said they were tired so i brought them up here to sleep."

You pull Sans's hand away and fumble for Frisk's pulse in their neck. The skeleton falls silent, watching you as you fight to keep yourself calm. It takes you a moment to find Frisk's heartbeat; it feels slower than you think it should, but you realize you honestly have no frame of reference. Right now your own pulse is pounding in your ears.

"what are you doing?" Sans asks, his voice thin.

"Just... checking Frisk's heartbeat. I don't..." You draw in a shaky breath, covering your face with your hands. "Sans I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to make this better."

He tries to pull you into his arms but you lean away, digging your fingers into your scalp and dragging back. You have to do something. You can't stay here and cry, Frisk needs you. "I have to... I have to try to bring the fever down somehow," you mutter, standing up and walking out of the room.

You remember movies and TV shows, cold compresses and ice baths, something, anything you can try. An ice bath sounds like overkill and being that cold was what did this in the first place, so you opt for the first choice. You head to the linen closet to fetch a set of washcloths, then go to the bathroom to run them under the faucet.

Sans is still there on the racecar bed, sitting now instead of kneeling, staring down at Frisk. He doesn't even glance over at you as you come up beside him, tugging the blanket down off of their chest. You hand the cool, damp washcloths to Sans and strip Frisk to the waist so you can place one of the compresses on their chest and another over their forehead.

"babe," Sans says softly, reaching out and touching your side.

You turn to him, eyes swimming with tears. Part of you wants to let yourself crumple and let him comfort you, but you can't. You swallow down the tightness in your throat and blink back the tears, wiping them away with the heel of your hand. "I need to call Alphys. She's the only one that I think can help." You're back on your feet again, pulling away and fumbling for the phone in your pocket.

Sans lets his hand fall back into his lap and looks back at Frisk. As you flick through the menus on your phone, you hear him murmur, "c'mon kiddo. you're more determined than this."

Chapter Text

Alphys and Undyne are at the house within the hour. The fish monster has a tin of tea to restock your supply and she pulls you into a crushing hug the second your eyes start to water and you thank her. The doctor wastes no time heading upstairs to check on Frisk and the two of you follow in her wake.

Sans is still with Frisk. The two of you agreed not to leave them alone, making sure that someone was there in case there are any changes. He's fidgeting with one of the cold compresses when you enter the room. Sliding off the bed to give Alphys some space, he moves to stand next to you. A warm, smooth hand slides into yours and squeezes hard. After a moment you squeeze back.

Alphys adjusts her glasses as she looks over Frisk, pressing a small, scaled hand to the side of their face and fumbling a little awkwardly at their wrist. She mentioned having gone through a few books she found during the few hours between your early morning texts and your call. She must have picked up on a few things, at least.

"Do you know what's wrong? Is Frisk going to be okay?" Undyne asks, clenching her fists and grimacing. The muscles in her arms are tense under smooth bluish scales and her body is rigid. She's angry, but she doesn't have anything to do with it.

Alphys doesn't answer her, instead turning to look at you and Sans. "The books I have are old, and some of them are damaged. But from what I was able to read, cooling them off with these cloths is a good idea. I'm sure it'll help a lot while I t-try to figure something out," she says, more composed than you've ever seen her. Frowning, she looks away. "I'm not sure what's wrong other than Frisk's elevated temperature —the fever— but I'm going to do everything I can! I-I'm going to do this."

"So what do I do?" you ask. Desperation tightens your voice, tenses your muscles.

"What you're already doing. Make sure they keep cool to try and bring their temperature down. T-that's the best advice I found aside from medicine I don't have. Yet." She frowns deeper, running a hand over her face. Her expression softens as she glances at Frisk. "Their Soul doesn't feel sick from what I can tell, so whatever it is, it's not magical. If they start to get hotter, wipe them down with more cool water. It sh-should help."

"That's it? Alphys, there has to be something I can—" You cut yourself off, covering your mouth with your free hand as your eyes swim with tears. Sinking down onto the edge of the bed, tears spill down your cheeks silently as you start shaking. Sans sits down beside you, putting an arm around your shoulders and pulling you against him.

"I'm sorry," Alphys says, reaching out to timidly brush your knee. "But I'm going to do everything I can. I have to get back to the lab."

"thanks for coming over Alphys," Sans says.

"Of course, Sans. What're f-friends for?"

Undyne hesitates as Alphys leaves the room. You feel her watching you, then the weight of her pressing down on the mattress beside you. When you steal a blurry look at her, she's kneeling over Frisk, taking hold of one tiny hand between both of hers and squeezing. "Okay, squirt! You have to get better! We still have lots of training to do until you're as tough as me! No, tougher! I know that one day you're going to be able to kick my ass, do you hear me?!" She shakes Frisk's hand, her muscles tensing as her voice cracks. "Alphys is gonna find a way to make you get back up, I know she is... But you know what would be even more badass? If you got better all on your own and showed that nerd of mine just how tough you are."

She turns to look at you and you draw in a shaky breath as you try and clear your eyes. It's not working very well but you think Undyne's good eye is glassy. "You're tough too, punk," she says, letting go of Frisk's hand so she can squeeze your shoulder. "Do you want me to stay here?"

"No," you say thickly, sniffling. "No if there's nothing I can do... I'd feel better knowing you're with Alphys if she needs help."

"You got it. You call one of us if you need ANYTHING okay?" She squeezes your shoulder again and you wince before she lets you go.

"I will."


A few more hours must have passed because you hear the front door open and shut and Papyrus shout a greeting to the house. It was a haze of silent tears and reapplying cold compresses, listening to Frisk's breathing and waiting anxiously for some sign of them waking up. At one point they groaned and squeezed your hand, but just as you felt hope stir in your chest they went still again.

Sans mumbles a curse and pushes himself to his feet, vacating one of the two chairs you brought up to the bedroom. He slips out into the hall.

"HOW IS FRISK DOING?"

You're sitting on the edge of your chair, weight leaned forward onto your elbows as you hunch over the bed, holding Frisk's hand. They make a small, faint sound but go quiet as you stroke your thumb across their knuckles. For the first time since falling into the Underground, you really, truly wish that you were on the surface.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?"

Flinching, you barely glance up at the door as Papyrus shoves it open, rushing into the room with Sans trailing behind him. You expect him to push his way to the side of the bed maybe, or to reach out for Frisk's limp body. Instead he lingers in the center of the room, staring with wide, scared eyes.

"I DON'T UNDERSTAND. HOW COULD FRISK FALL DOWN?" he says, voice trembling.

"they didn't fall down, we don't know that for sure," Sans says, his tone soothing. He reaches up to pat Papyrus's shoulder. "they're just sick. it doesn't mean..." Trailing off, Sans gives his brother a comforting squeeze.

"What does that mean?" you ask, voice hoarse. You feel scraped out and emptied, hollow. "Falling down. You said something about that too, Sans. And I think I saw that phrase in the True Lab."

Papyrus bites back a small sob as you see tears gather in his eye sockets, hugging himself. Sans looks down at the floor. "it's a monster thing. before we die, like from illness or old age, nonviolent things... we fall unconscious. we're still alive for a little while like that, before we turn to dust."

"Oh," you say.

"BUT YOU SAY THIS ISN'T THE SAME, SANS? FRISK CAN STILL WAKE UP, RIGHT?" Papyrus wipes his face with his gloved hands.

"absolutely. alphys is hard at work in the lab right now trying to help, too. we've just been here with frisk, waiting for them to get better." Sans rubs his face and muffles a yawn, which snaps Papyrus's attention to him.

"BROTHER YOU LOOK EXHAUSTED. LET ME STAY WITH THE HUMANS WHILE YOU GET SOME SLEEP."

You look at Sans and realize that he's right. Sans is exhausted; you can see dark circles under darker eye sockets, dim lights scanning yours. How had you not noticed? You nod at him weakly. "You should rest. I get the feeling it's gonna be another long night," you say.

"what about you? you need sleep too, babe," he says, frowning.

"Even if I tried, I don't think I could sleep right now. Maybe later." You shake your head, squeezing Frisk's hand.

Sans comes up beside you, running his fingers along the curve of your cheek and pushing loose strands of hair behind your ear. "are you sure?"

Nodding, you lean a little into his touch. It's more for his sake than yours, letting him know you aren't upset with him. Even though a small, scared, angry part of you wants to lash out. If he had been more careful, if you had told him more... This wouldn't have happened. You force a small, reassuring smile that isn't much more than a twitch at the corners of your mouth. "I'm sure."

You let him lean down to nuzzle the side of your face, turning a little and reaching up to cup his jaw in return. "get me if you need me."

"Okay."

Sans leaves the room, glancing back at you before closing the door behind him. Light filters in from behind a drawn curtain, but for the most part you're in calm, quiet darkness. It reminds you of your stay in the hospital when you had Frisk. The nights were quiet in the maternity wing, save for the hum of the air conditioner. But there was always light peeking in from under the door and from the equipment in the room.

Papyrus lowers himself onto the chair next to you, hands gripping his knees. You glance over at him but return your attention to Frisk's face, then down to the slow, shallow rise and fall of their chest.

"Sans blames himself," you say, softly. You realize this is the first time that Sans has willingly left your side. You were the one leaving him; to go check the store, to cook, to re-soak the washcloths. He wasn't even letting himself sleep. Did he sleep at all last night, even after he told you to?

Papyrus shifts in his seat. His voice is quiet when he talks. "Do you blame him?"

Looking back at Papyrus again, you let go of Frisk's hand so that you can lean back in your chair. You realize your back is aching. Biting your lip, you wrap your arms around yourself. "A little," you admit. "I know I shouldn't, he didn't let it happen on purpose..."

"He should have been more careful," Papyrus agrees, much to your surprise. "I cannot tell you how to feel, and I don't think that you are being unfair. But I can tell you Sans loves you both very much, and if he had known he never would have let anything bad happen. He may be very lazy about many things but..." He smiles at you, reaching out to touch your arm. "When he cares about something, or someone, he tries. He tries for you and for Frisk. He's tried more in the last three months than I've seen from him since... well since we moved here to Snowdin."

But what about when all his trying isn't enough? You think you'd be crying if you didn't already feel wrung dry. Instead your chest just aches and you hug yourself tighter. "I don't know what I'm gonna do, if Frisk..." You can't finish the sentence. Your throat won't let you. Papyrus strokes your arm as you shudder.

"You don't need to know. Hopefully you will never know. If I lost Sans, I wouldn't know what I would do either. How do you prepare to lose someone that you love?" Papyrus sighs, turning his head to look at Frisk again.

You don't know what to say to that. Unwrapping your arms from around yourself, you lean forward on your elbows again, taking hold of Frisk's hand. Papyrus smooths your hair down your back, and the motion is soothing. You don't say anything, and he doesn't stop, content to sit there in silence with you as you wait for something, anything, to change.


Frisk, you have to stay determined. Don't give up.

The voice and the words, they're both distantly familiar but they're not sure why. But the voice is loud and it was so quiet and peaceful before. Frisk pulls away, deeper into the darkness. It's warm and comfortable, their throat doesn't burn and their body doesn't ache.

If you stay here, you're going to lose everything.

I like it here. It doesn't hurt here.

Frisk, you have to stay determined.

Why does that sound so familiar?

Chara hesitates.

Chara, why do you care?

Because I know what it feels like to die, and I don't want to feel it again through you.

How did you die?

Chara's consciousness buzzes angrily, pushing against Frisk's. Frisk draws away, confused.

It doesn't matter how! What's important is that you don't die, you idiot! Stay determined!

You didn't answer me before, when I asked you why that sounds familiar.

You're right, I didn't.

Tell me.

...My father said those words to me before I died.

Your dad? Was he nice?

Frisk starts to feel themselves slipping away, Chara's voice sounding more and more distant.

Frisk! You have to stay determined! Don't give up!


Sans knows that even though you haven't said the words, you must be blaming him. He deserves it. This is his fault. If he had been more careful, more cautious, Frisk would be fine. They wouldn't be unconscious, draped in wet cloth and burning with fever.

He sent you and Papyrus to go eat and sleep about an hour ago. The house is quiet and he's alone with Frisk, slouched back in a chair with his hands shoved deep in his pockets. He watches them, notices how still they are. They haven't groaned or shifted in the last forty-five minutes, their breathing is frighteningly shallow. It's been a long time since he's seen a monster that's fallen down, but this is far too similar for comfort. He can't help but keep checking for the presence of dust.

You've barely spoken to him since Frisk wouldn't wake up. He can't blame you. He can't even muster up the energy to be frustrated or defend himself. Because he's too busy agreeing with the words you won't say. His fault. He should have tried harder. This shouldn't have happened. Did his laziness do this to Frisk? Had he just not cared enough to bother trying to tell the kids 'no'? Was it just easier to let them do as they pleased?

He wishes he could tell himself it isn't true. But if he tried, he wouldn't believe it.

Some dad he'd be.

The room is too quiet. He can't make out the faint hiss of Frisk's breathing over his own. Bones humming with a sudden lurch of fear, Sans leans forward and reaches for Frisk's neck the way you did, probing gently at the line of their throat for their heartbeat. For one maddeningly-long moment he can't find it but then, finally, he can feel the slow but steady rhythm under his phalanges. Their Soul pulses in time with their heart, but he thinks that underneath the low tone he can feel a faint fluttering. Something strange and secondary. But, now that he's leaning closer, he can hear the faint drag of air between parted lips.

Sans buries his face into the blankets at Frisk's side, gripping the back of his skull with both hands. The feeling of utter helplessness is maddening. He's at the mercy of the universe, caught up with no way of fighting back, completely powerless.

please. please don't take frisk away from me. from her. even if a reset doesn't happen, i'll still lose everything. how can she ever forgive me? whatever, whoever, is out there tormenting me. tell me what you want and i'll give it to you, as long as you don't take my humans away.

He feels tears gathering in empty sockets as he squeezes them shut, scraping the back of his head with his fingers. He feels beaten and broken, punished for every moment he has that he shouldn't. Is this his final penance for surviving the accident? To finally find this happiness only to have it stripped away?

i'll try harder. i'll do more around the house. i'll... i'll pay off my damn tab at grillby's for fuck's sake, whatever you want! what do you want from me?!

"Dad?"

Sans's head jerks up at the sound of Frisk's thin, hoarse voice, tears slipping down his cheekbones as his eyes open wide. They're looking at him from beneath heavy lids, moistening dry lips with their tongue. "kiddo?"

"I don't feel good. And I'm tired," Frisk mumbles, their eyes fluttering as they threaten to close.

Sans lurches forward, cupping their cheek and patting gently. "no, stay awake kiddo, c'mon! stay with me," he begs, panic swelling inside of him, only to be joined by relief as their eyes open and meet his again. He gives the kid a shaky smile. "there ya go. how about i go get your mom, okay? i know she'll be thrilled to see you awake."

As he pushes away from the bed and goes to stand, he's stopped by a tiny hand grabbing his fingers. "Wait, I don't... I'm so tired... Dad."

Dad. So it hadn't just been a single slip of the tongue.

"anything you want, frisk," Sans says, sandwiching that tiny hand between his, covering it. "i'm here."

"Anything?" they ask, and Sans can't help but huff a weak laugh at the hopeful sound in their voice. Like he wouldn't pull down the mountain if he could, just to keep that kid happy.

"anything."

"Mom said not to say anything to you, but maybe it can be a secret. But... I really want you to be my dad, Sans." Frisk gives a slow blink, and their eyes are a little unfocused. Sans can't help but wonder if the kid is a little out of it, if they'll even remember this conversation.

But it doesn't matter if they do or not. How can he say no? "of course. but we can't keep that a secret from your mom, and she has to say it's okay. deal, kid?"

Frisk blinks again, but this time their eyes don't reopen. Sans squeezes their hand.

"kid?"

He reaches up to cup their face. They're still burning up. Shallow breaths hiss past their teeth. Whatever made them regain consciousness, it's gone now.

Chapter Text

You're woken up by the loud, blippy music of your phone ringing and the vibrations in your back pocket.  Papyrus jerks awake under you, nearly tossing you out of his lap as he tries and fails to stand up from the couch. Shoving against the pillow in his lap to sit up, you fumble for your phone, heart leaping into your throat.

"WHO IS THAT?" Papyrus asks, taking hold of your shoulders and helping you right yourself. He leans forward over you to get a look at your screen as you answer the call.

It's Alphys. "H-hey!"

"OH IT'S ALPHYS! I HOPE SHE HAS GOOD NEWS!" he says, squeezing your shoulders and bouncing on the cushion behind you.

"Do you have something?" you blurt out, pushing hair out of your mouth and clenching your fingers tight against your scalp.

"I do! I mean, I think so!" she says, and you can hear the hopeful smile in her voice. You swallow hard, tamping down a swell of optimism but still smiling a little despite your best efforts. It won't do you any good to get your hopes up but... "Undyne and I are on our way! The Riverperson is m-making good time, so we should be there in the next half-hour."

You close your eyes, freeing your hand from your hair to cover your face. "Alphys, I can't thank you enough for doing this," you say, voice thick. Papyrus wraps his arms around you and hugs you. You tip your head against his.

"Of c-course! I just hope that this w-works," she says, going quiet. She sighs and you rub your eyes. "We'll be there soon."

You hang up the call and start to cry, hoping despite knowing that you shouldn't. Because there's no guarantee, but at least now there's something. A chance.


Papyrus stands at the foot of the bed, next to the door as he watches you tell his brother the news. He can tell Sans has been crying at some point and he thinks you notice it too. You sit on the chair beside him and tenderly take his hand in yours, smiling through the tears in your eyes as you speak to him. Whatever blame you held against Sans is gone in this moment of hope. He's glad. Maybe everything will be okay.

Sans doesn't smile back. He squeezes your hand and pulls you into his arms, but Sans doesn't smile. He doesn't even try to fake it. The brothers look at each other from over your shoulder and Papyrus gives him a disappointed look. A look that says, 'You should be happy right now. Why aren't you?'

Sans just looks away and lets you go.


Alphys sits on the edge of Papyrus's racecar bed while you cradle Frisk's head and shoulders in your lap, stroking hair away from their eyes. Sans stands at your side, one hand on your back, the other clenched into a tight fist in his pocket. He's watching you; the way you're biting your lip as you scour Frisk's face for some kind of sign, the way your fingers brush delicately over the kid's forehead, how you're leaning ever so slightly in his direction.

Sans can't be happy until the furrow in your brow smooths away. Until the worry that shadows your face is gone. You and Papyrus might be clinging to optimism, but that's never been his strong suit. The last few years have soured him.

Undyne hands the doctor a small, rectangular bag then steps back to stand with Papyrus. From in the bag, Alphys withdraws a large syringe and a small bottle filled halfway with a bright green, glowing liquid. Her hands are steady as she fills the needle.

This had better work. If all this just serves to get your hopes up, raising you so that the fall is that much harsher... Sans pushes the thought away. Alphys is doing her best. Everyone is just doing what they can to help.

"What's in that?" you ask, eyes darting up in alarm.

"It's a mixture of human medicine and healing magic. Normally healing magic only t-targets physical wounds but infused with the medicine it should, ah, work to fight whatever is making Frisk sick." Alphys says, taken aback. She presses on the plunger to expel any extra air until a bead of green liquid appears at the tip, then looks at you, a question in her eyes.

"Oh," you say, tipping your chin towards your chest. "Sorry, I wasn't expecting it to, um, glow. I didn't mean to sound ungrateful. Please, go ahead."

The doctor nods, setting the bottle and bag aside so she can take hold of Frisk's arm. Inserting the needle into the kid's bicep, she presses the plunger.

Sans makes a silent plea to the universe for this to work.


You wait.

You adjust the cold compress on Frisk's forehead for what must be the fiftieth time, watching the tiny movements of their eyes beneath closed lids. Your other hand smooths away damp hair from their temples. They started sweating about fifteen minutes after Alphys gave them the injection, and it's been almost an hour now. You think the sweat is a good thing. You don't know enough to be sure one way or the other.

Sans is sitting on the chair closest to you, his arms folded under his head with one hand resting on your leg. Your eyes flick over to him to see if he's fallen asleep but he hasn't. He's watching Frisk, his expression closed off.

Alphys is in the other chair, reading something on her phone. Her other hand is resting on the back of Undyne's neck. The fish monster is sitting on the ground next to her girlfriend, her head resting against the doctor's thigh. A small, quiet snore lets you know that she's fallen asleep. You can't blame her. There's not much to do right now but wait.

Papyrus is sitting cross-legged on the floor near the head of the bed, between Sans and the wall. He's been staring at his action figure collection for the last ten minutes.

"Mmm..."

Your stomach twists and your heart leaps in your chest as you stare down at Frisk, hands seeking their shoulders. Their face scrunches a little and their head turns to one side and then the other, before their eyes finally flutter open. They blink up at you owlishly, reaching up to rub their eyes.

"Mom?" they ask in a tiny, raspy voice.

"Hey sweetie," you say, your eyes swimming with tears, grinning from ear to ear.

Sans's grip tightens on your leg and he lifts his head up. Papyrus whips around to look at Frisk and Alphys puts her phone away and gives Undyne a gentle shake. But no one says anything. The room is quiet save for your sharp inhalations of breath as you try to quiet your crying, and Frisk's voice.

"Why are you crying?" they ask you, reaching up to wrap their arms around your neck.

You cradle Frisk's head in your hands, letting them pull you down to press your foreheads together. Laughing because you can't help it, because you're so giddy with relief, you say, "Because I'm so happy."


"Mooooom I feel fine now!" Frisk complains, frowning at you from their spot on Papyrus's bed. They lean back against a pile of pillows, crossing their arms in a magnificent pout.

"You are going to humor me and stay in bed at least until dinner. I don't want you exerting yourself and relapsing," you say, holding out a steaming mug of tea. Frisk just gives it a dirty look, like it's offended them somehow. "I want you to drink this, Alphys says you need plenty of fluids because you got a little dehydrated while you were unconscious."

Alphys and Undyne left shortly after Frisk woke up and declared that their fever was gone. It was the middle of the night, Alphys in particular was nearly falling asleep on her feet. It's midday now, a little bit after lunchtime. Frisk obediently ate a huge bowl of chicken noodle soup, and after decided that they were feeling back to normal and wanted to get up.

You're having none of that.

"If I drink it all, then can I get up?" Frisk asks.

"This is not up for debate," you say, digging in your heels. "I just said, you are staying in that bed until dinner, and then if I decide you can, you can get up. And you are drinking this tea."

Frisk lets out a long-suffering groan, throwing their head back. You fix them with a stern look, hoping that you look more like a loving but concerned mom and less like your own mother. "Fiiiiiine," Frisk says dramatically, and you wonder if six is old enough for them to be acting like a pre-teen already. They take the mug from you and give it a careful sip.

Sans appears in the doorway, leaning against the frame and raising a brow at you. You just give him an exasperated look and shake your head. His smile widens and you can't help but smile back even though you try not to. Frisk slurps their tea loudly and gives you a wide-eyed look.

"you giving your mom a hard time?" Sans asks, entering the room and sinking into the chair beside you. He slips one arm behind you and his fingers slide underneath the hem of your shirt, finding the small of your back. The touch is familiar and reassuring. Normal. Like the last two days never happened.

"No," Frisk says petulantly, taking another loud sip to hide their face.

"i think you're telling me a fibula. i can feel it in my bones," Sans says, leaning forward for emphasis. 

Frisk giggles and nearly chokes on their tea, earning Sans a frown from you.

"whoa there kiddo, no need to go breathing in the tea. unless humans can do that. it's a mysteary to me," he says, glancing over at you and winking. "or maybe it's a mystertea."

Yeah. Things are definitely getting back to normal. You crack a smile despite your best efforts, hiding your face and laughing. "Well, if this is what you're gonna do, I might as well take my leaf," you say, earning yourself a grin and a chuckle from Sans.

Frisk's eyes narrow as they look up at you, pursing their lips. "I don't get it."

"Tea comes from leaves. They're dried, and—"

"Eew!" they blurt out, holding the mug away from their face. "Leaves?"

"right? it's hard to beleaf."

"Frisk, please. A lot of things are—"

You're interrupted by a loud knock at the door. You and Sans look at each other, sharing twin expressions of confusion.

"Did Papyrus forget his keys when he left?" you ask.

"he shouldn't have. did undyne or alphys say they were coming?" he asks in return, his grin fading.

"No. Neither of them have—"

You're interrupted again by another loud knock, this time followed by a muffled voice calling from the other side of the front door. "Howdy! Anyone home?"

You don't know the voice but Sans's eye sockets go dark and he goes stiff beside you. You start to ask him what's wrong but he bolts up from the chair, turning to the door but then back to you. "stay in here and don't open the door. if anything happens i swear i'll come get you before he can find you."

The hairs on the back of your neck prickle and raise and you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. "Sans, what—?"

"it's asgore. of all the f—" He bites off the curse with a quick glance at Frisk. "trust me, and stay here."

Sans closes the door behind him before you can say anything else.

"Mom?" Frisk asks, their voice making you jump.

Shushing them, you reach out to put your hand on their leg and give a reassuring squeeze. "Sweetie I need you to be quiet okay?" you whisper. "We can't let Asgore find out that we're here."

Frisk nods and you squeeze them again. Then, heart hammering in your chest, you get up to press your ear to the bedroom door.

"—children were saying that one of the other students was out sick! I thought I would pop by to say hello and perhaps offer them a cup of tea." Asgore's voice is a low rumble, deep and warm. You vaguely remember illustrations of him in the few history books you read. What stuck out most —literally you suppose— were his gigantic horns.

"that's really kind of you, but they're sleeping right now." You look over at Frisk as they watch you, wide-eyed with their mug clutched in their hands.

"Ah, I see. By the way Sans, I had no idea that you and Papyrus were taking care of a child! I am happy for you, children certainly do brighten up a home." He sounds a little wistful. You might feel sorry for him if you weren't so worried.

"yeah, they sure do. the kid and their mom have been staying with us. it's been real nice. it's too bad the kiddo's feeling sick right now. they'll have to be sure to catch you around next time."

"Oh, I do not mind waiting." You grit your teeth, resisting the urge to hit the door.

"oh, you don't have to do that. really, they just fell asleep a little bit ago so it'll probably be a while. i'm sure you've got, uh, important king stuff to do."

"Yes, well, I suppose that I do," Asgore says, chuckling. "But truly, lifting the spirits of a sick child is something I hold in high regard."

"well, your highness, i just can't bear the thought of you going so far out of your way for us. you're just too kind, i know that the kid will be okay waiting until your next visit. or, ah, maybe we can visit new home sometime, yeah?"

"That sounds like a wonderful idea!" You breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe now he'll go. You give Sans your silent thanks. "Perhaps when they are feeling better?"

"sure. absolutely."

"Give my well wishes to the child, if you could."

"of course."

"Oh and their mother as well."

"no problem."

"Have a good day, Sans."

"you too, asgore."

There's a moment of silence and then the sound of the front door closing. You reach for the doorhandle when—

A loud knock, followed by, "Oh! Sans, I almost forgot!"

There's a beat where you squeeze your eyes shut and clench your hands into fists, grimacing. Why won't he leave?! You hear the door open again.

"yeah?"

"The other day, I found this pair of teacups in the shape of skulls. I should have brought them with me, because they reminded me of you and your brother. I want you to have them."

"i can't wait to see them, that sound really great," Sans says, and you can tell without even seeing him that his casual tone is forced.

"Please, remind me when I see you when you visit so I can give them to you."

"absolutely. i'm sure papyrus will get a real kick out of 'em. it'll be a teareat."

Asgore laughs, a deep rumble that makes the hair on your arms raise. In any other set of circumstances, maybe you'd appreciate the sound more, but right now it just feels you with unease. "Always making jokes, Sans. I hope you have a pleasant day."

"you too, pal."

Silence. The sound of the door closing. You don't bother reaching for the handle. A few moments pass and then you feel and hear a small rap on the bedroom door. You jump to the side, opening it just enough to peek out and see Sans. He's grimacing, nervous sweat dotting the side of his face as he lets out a haggard sigh.

Sans pushes his way through the door and shuts it behind him, hooking his fingers in the pockets of your jeans and tugging you close. You cup the side of his face as he rests his forehead against your sternum, pillowing his head on your chest. He lets out a long, frustrated groan and tenses against you.

"I need a break," you agree. "This has been the most exhausting two days. This is just..."

"we're gonna go to the resort this weekend. that's it. text alphys to tell mettaton."

Chapter Text

Grillby is sweeping up the bar when he hears the door open. He glances up at the clock; ten minutes until closing time so he doesn't have any right to be frustrated. But he is, maybe just a little. The bar is empty and he just wants to get everything cleaned up so he can lock the doors and head upstairs to his apartment. Asgore's visit to Snowdin had stirred up his regulars and the guard dogs in particular were especially excitable this afternoon.

All in all, it had been a busy day and he's ready to relax.

He turns to give a stern look at the intruder but is surprised to see Sans sauntering over to the bar to take his place at the usual barstool. Suddenly curious and a little concerned, Grillby stops sweeping to man his post behind the bar.

Sans gives him a lazy smile. "how's it hangin' grillby?"

The fire elemental just raises a brow, resting his hands on the bar. He's known Sans for about two years now, ever since he and his brother moved to Snowdin. From what he gathered from Papyrus (because Sans never talks about before) they used to live in New Home. He wonders sometimes what brought them all the way out here to the fringes of the Underground.

But in the past two years the skeleton brothers have become a familiar facet of Snowdin. He's happy to see Sans. He's been suspiciously absent the past few days, though lately he's been showing up less and less than he used to. While Grillby's gotten used to the skeleton's company, he's glad to see him spending more time at home with his brother. And you and the child.

When he does visit, he talks about the two of you often. Usually this ends up with him leaning over the bar and showing Grillby pictures from his phone. It's a nice change of pace from his usual barrage of jokes and lazy grins. When he talks about you his smile is brighter, his voice lighter. He seems happy. Real happiness that isn't gleaned from making the other customers laugh. 

"that great, huh? well, i've got a surprise for you." Sans leans forward to rest his elbow on the bar, then reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small pouch full to bursting. He sets it on the wood countertop and it tips over, spilling out three gold coins.

Grilly just stares at the money for a moment before fixing Sans with a puzzled look. He gives a tiny shake of his head and jerks his chin at the bag in silent question.

"i'm fulfilling my promise to the universe," he says, like that's supposed to explain everything. Sans gives the pouch a firm pat, then breaks out into the biggest smile Grillby's ever seen. "paying off my tab."

Then, Sans starts to laugh. It's giddy and a little manic and all of this is starting to scare the bartender and he doesn't know what's gotten into his friend. The skeleton hangs his head so that Grillby can't see his face, shoulders shaking as he holds his forehead in his hand. The laughter starts to turn strained. Sans takes a moment to suck in a breath before another flood of giggles breaks loose. The fire elemental reaches out to take hold of San's shoulder, gripping maybe a little too tight.

The skeleton wheezes, shaking his head and looking up at Grillby. He's got tears running down his face and and an exhausted look in his eyes that startles him into letting Sans go. The skeleton's grin goes slack at the edges, but he gives another weak laugh and shakes his head. "what, never thought i was gonna pay you, buddy?"

Grillby's hands clench into fists on the bar top, furrowing his brow and giving Sans a pointed stare. He leans forward a little. What could possibly have Sans in this state?

Sans's smile falters a little more, raising a brow. "what's gotten into you, grillby? you keep staring at me. have i got something on my face?" He reaches up to touch his face, still grinning until his fingers brush over the trail of tears down his cheekbones. His smile is gone when he pulls away and looks down at his hand.

"...What happened?" Grillby asks, his dry, breathy voice filling the space between them.

Sans is silent for a moment, then his cheeks bloom with color as he gives his face a rushed wipe with his sleeve. "shit, that's a little embarrassing isn't it?" he says, forcing a new smile as he shrugs.

"...Sans."

"hey, no need to give me the 3rd degree."

"...Is everything alright?"

"i told you, i'm just keeping my promise to the universe. maybe now it'll stop trying to eat me alive," Sans mutters, the smile slipping away again as he heaves a sigh. His shoulders fall and he rests his weight on his arms, visibly deflating.

After a moment of hesitation, Grillby walks around the bar and sits next to Sans. He rests a hand gently on his shoulder, and waits.


Alphys is sitting on her ratty couch in a corner of the lab, watching anime with Undyne's legs across her lap. She's still trying to get used to this, being with her, well, her girlfriend. That itself is just weird. Girlfriend. And not just any girlfriend. Undyne. She has Undyne on the couch with her and they've been sitting here for the last hour just watching anime together.

Someone pinch her, is this really her life?

Even better, the two of them had only recently woken up from napping together upstairs, still recovering from their long night of helping Frisk. It was all worth it of course. Saving Frisk had bolstered her own confidence and it felt like she was repaying you for everything you've done for her. Not that that was the reason she did it! There's no way she would have let anything bad happen to Frisk if she had anything to say about it. She's just glad that her desperate idea of blending human medicine with healing magic had paid off.

She lets out a squeak as her phone starts to vibrate in her pocket. As she fishes it out with a sigh to settle herself, Undyne pauses the DVD and sits up. The fluid movement makes the muscles in the fish monster's stomach tense and through the skin-tight tank top Alphys can see the shift of muscle. It distracts her for a second, her eyes flicking up to Undyne's mouth before giving her girlfriend a nervous smile and answering the phone.

"H-hello?" Alphys says, forcing herself to look away and down at the floor so she can focus on talking.

"Hey Alphys. I hope I'm not bothering you," you say, sounding a little worried.

"Oh no, not at all!" she blurts out. Gosh, you're always so nice and considerate. "What's up?"

"Well, first I want to thank you again, so much. I don't know what we would have done without you, honestly."

"Please, it's o-okay! Of course I was going to help you!" Alphys says, feeling her face go a little red. Long, calloused fingers reach out to cup under her chin, turning her head to look at Undyne. She's smiling at her. The doctor feels the blush spread further across her face. "B-but you said that was the first thing?"

"Yeah, um... Sans and I were talking and I don't know if he said anything to you but Mettaton offered to let us stay at his hotel whenever we wanted? As like, an apology. Oh god I just realized, you don't even know." You let out a long sigh and Undyne's smile falters. She must be able to hear what you're saying. "Asgore came by the house today."

Undyne's hand falls away from Alphys's face and her eyebrows shoot up in alarm. "Are they all okay? I mean, they must be, but—!"

"Oh, is that Undyne?" you ask, giving a weak laugh. "Let her know we're all fine. He, uh, came by to visit because he heard one of the kids was out sick. Sans was able to get him to leave without seeing either of us, thankfully. But I admit, between what happened with Frisk and then Asgore... Sans and I decided that we could really use a weekend to relax. I don't exactly have his number, so—"

"Oh, he's actually here, i-if you want to talk to him," Alphys says, sitting up a little straighter so that she can see her small, makeshift kitchen. Mettaton is busy cooking, 'practicing' for his cooking show. He'd been making excuses like that a lot lately. Cooking meals for Alphys to get ready for a show, cleaning up her workshop slash bedroom so that he can get in the right 'mindspace' for an upcoming scene...

You make a sharp, agitated noise. "No. If that's okay, I'd rather not. Can you just give him the message?"

"Y-yeah, sure. Of course. When should I tell him you want to go?"

"Sans wants to go this weekend. It's a little soon after what happened with Frisk but... Alphys you wouldn't believe how quick Frisk is back to normal. I don't know what you did, but it's like they weren't even sick!"

Alphys can't help but smile, pleased at how happy you sound. Undyne's smiling again, nudging her shoulder proudly. "That's g-great!"

The fish monster reaches for the phone, pulling it out of Alphys's hand and pushing the button to put it on speaker. "Hey punk! Glad to hear the squirt's back to normal!"

You laugh, voice a little distorted by the phone. "Me too, Undyne. Believe me."

"So you guys are going to go on a date, huh? Like, a real date, not just going to Grillbys for once." Undyne throws her arm around Alphys's shoulder, leaning in close so they can both speak into the phone. Alphys bites the inside of her lip to keep from letting out a nervous giggle, her stomach doing flip flops.

"We went to Waterfall before. That was really nice," you say, a little defensive but laughing at the same time. "But yes, this will be a 'real' date."

"GOOD you guys deserve it!" Undyne pauses, then lets out a loud gasp. "Wait, what are you going to wear? You don't exactly have a big wardrobe there."

"Oh, I didn't really... I guess I'll have to find something at the shop."

Alphys lets out a startled squeak as Mettaton appears beside the couch, a large rectangle looming over them and wearing a chef's hat. He has a skillet in one hand, and whatever's inside is still sizzling. "Oh no, no, no darling! You will not be wearing any second-hand rags on this date! You let me handle this! When I'm done with you, you'll be absolutely ravishing!" He lets out a laugh, which cuts off abruptly. "I suppose I can find something for Sans as well. I don't want him to look bad on your arm."

Chapter Text

Today is the day. You're more nervous than you were expecting, spending the morning and early afternoon fretting over Frisk. Despite their repeated reassurances that they're fine —and they are, really— the idea of being away for the weekend has you anxious. Maybe you should call Alphys and just...

No. No, you agreed to this date and lord knows you need it. Besides, Frisk seems ready to get you out of the house. They keep asking when Alphys and Undyne are coming to take you back to the lab to get ready. They must be tired of your hovering.

Sans is nervous too, but you think that's more because Mettaton is involved. But after many reassurances that Undyne and Alphys will be with you the entire time, he finally relents and stops openly complaining. Though that doesn't stop him from frowning when he thinks you aren't looking. His complaints about the robot picking out clothing for him fall on deaf ears, however. You have to admit that you're curious about what Mettaton has in store for both of you. Maybe a little apprehensive as well. You've never really been one to dress up. Though, you've never had much of an opportunity to do so.

You're pacing in front of the couch, running through the mental checklist of the luggage you packed earlier. Shoes, socks, pants, shirts, underwear, extra bra (just in case), pajamas, toiletries... Did you pack your hairbrush? Wait, should you bring it with you to the lab? Mettaton said to pack everything the two of you needed for the weekend, but did that mean—

A loud knock and the muffled sound of familiar voices jolts you out of your head and Frisk leaps up from the sofa to answer the door. Alphys and Undyne step inside, bundled up in thick jackets and followed by Mettaton. He's in his humanoid 'EX' form today. Alphys must have finally fixed it. With a garment bag in one hand draped casually over his shoulder, he gives you a bright smile that makes you a little more apprehensive.

Sans is beside you before you notice, brushing your arm with his. "welp, looks like it's starting," he mutters.

Papyrus pokes his head out of the kitchen, brightening. "OH, WHO IS THIS NEW FRIEND ALPHYS?"

Alphys and Undyne are distracted talking to Frisk so it's Mettaton who ends up answering. The robot closes the distance between himself and the skeleton, sliding the garment bag off his shoulder and holding it up off the ground with one finger. His other hand taps Papyrus on the chest as he gives a playful laugh. "Oh sweetheart, it's me! Alphys finally fixed up my new body." Winking, he shifts his weight onto his other leg, quirking a hip to the side. "What do you think? Should I do a little turn so you can have a better look?"

Papyrus's cheeks have gone a dark shade of orange. "M-METTATON I HAD NO IDEA THAT WAS YOU! YOU, UM, LOOK SO DIFFERENT!"

"i'm gonna disassemble that calculator," Sans mutters.

Sensing danger, you walk over to Papyrus and Mettaton, pushing your way between them with a sweet smile. You hold your hand out for the garment bag. "Is that for Sans or for me?" you ask.

"Oh darling yours is back at the lab." He smiles at you but his expression quickly sours, his voice falling a little flat. "This is for Sans."

"OH, LET ME TAKE THAT THEN, METTATON. I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL BE HELPING MY BROTHER GET READY LATER SO I CAN GO PUT THAT UPSTAIRS!" Papyrus offers enthusiastically.

"Oh you really are the sweetest thing, aren't you? Well if you insist," Mettaton purrs. Actually purrs. You can feel Sans's glare from across the room. The robot passes the bag around you to where Papyrus is waiting and he hurries away.

Mettaton's visible eye —the iris is pink, the same bright shade as his boots and chestplate— flicks back to you and you can see the aperture that makes up his pupil narrow as he focuses on you. It's a little unsettling, how human yet not he is. He reaches out to touch your shoulder, about to say something when you flinch away with a wince. Freezing, he slowly pulls away and folds his hands over his midriff. His expression softens into something apologetic and a little sad.

There's a moment where the two of you just look at each other, your heart pounding from being startled, and then Mettaton turns away to go talk to Sans. "Did you pack everything like I asked?" he asks your boyfriend in a clipped tone.

"yep," Sans says, looking up at him with a tight smile.

"I'll be back later to get your things and make sure you're dressed properly." Mettaton rests his hands on his hips, looking down his perfectly sculpted nose at Sans.

"i know how to dress myself."

"Do you know how to tie a tie?"

"HEY, how about we get going, huh?" Undyne cuts in. You give her a relieved look, but she's got her eye fixed on Mettaton.

You go over to where Frisk is hanging from Undyne's flexed bicep. Smiling at them, you poke them in the ribs with both hands which makes them dissolve into giggles, dropping back down to the ground and clutching their sides. You wrap them up in a tight hug. "You be good for Papyrus okay?"

Frisk hugs you back, hands tugging on the back of your shirt. "Okay."

"I'll miss you. You gonna miss me?"

"...Maybe," they grumble into you stomach.

"Maybe?" you echo with feigned shock.

Frisk laughs. "Okay... yes."


You're sitting on top of Alphys's bed in a bathrobe with your legs tucked under you, some thick sweet-smelling product soaking in your shower-capped hair, and Undyne sitting cross legged in front of you with an array of makeup spread out in front of her. You wonder exactly what you did in life to bring you to this point: being given a makeover by two monsters and a robot. Wait, if Mettaton is actually a ghost, does he count as a monster too? Three monsters. Giving you a makeover. For your date with your boyfriend, the skeleton.

This is normal now. This is your life. You have to admit, you can't think of anywhere else you'd rather be than here with your friends. And Mettaton.

"I still think I should be taking care of her makeup," Mettaton says with what you imagine is a pout. You can't look at him to check because Undyne will yell at you. Again.

The fish monster takes hold of your chin and tilts your head to the side so that she can do something with a thick makeup brush along your cheekbone. You honestly have no idea. "You don't even have skin Mettaton, what do you know about doing makeup? NOTHING!" Undyne snaps, grimacing a few inches away from your face. You try not to focus on her long, sharp teeth. "Don't worry punk, we're gonna take care of you."

"Y-yeah, don't worry! I promise you're going to look great!" Alphys says at your side. Your hand is on her knee as she hunches over it with two bottles of nail polish. One is clear and the other is a shade of blue that reminds you of Sans. It's cold as she swipes the polish down the length of your nails.

Mettaton grumbles —a mix between his voice and a grinding sound somewhere in his chest— and flops down dramatically in a nearby chair. "Well, once you're finished, I can get back to work," he says petulantly.

"Who do you think painted that pretty face of his anyway?" Undyne mutters under her breath to you, tilting your head back a little. "That's right, Alphys. You know all those figures she's got on her desk?"

You make an affirmative noise in your throat, too afraid to speak and move your face.

"She painted all of those herself."

Alphys lets out an embarrassed laugh. "I'm not so great with, um, makeup though. But I like doing nails!"

You've seen Undyne's handiwork in person so you're confident with her abilities with makeup (though you can only guess that Mettaton was the one to supply the foundation in the correct shade of brown for your complexion). You think that's what she's working on now, smoothing out a powder to set the foundation. Makeup has never really been something you spent much time on, just the bare minimum to clean yourself up for work. Natural colors, nothing too bright. So when Undyne puts down the big powder brush to rifle through a few sets of eyeshadow, you balk a little at the colors.

Undyne catches your change in expression, raising a brow at you. "What's up?"

"Aren't some of these colors a little, uh, bright?" you ask, biting the inside of your lip. You don't like questioning her judgment, you trust her, but you can't help it. ("Wasting your money to paint yourself up like some harlot? Your reputation is already bad enough, what are you thinking? Wash that crap off your face and don't come out here again until you look decent.") Is your mother's voice ever going to go away?

"Oh, I think I'm going to stick with blacks and browns for the eyeshadow, something smoky," she says, setting a few compacts aside. Balling her hand into a fist she flexes, leaning back a little to look at you. "But you have to look fierce! Preparing for a date is like preparing for battle! This is your WAR face and you need to CONQUER him!"

Her enthusiasm is so literally in your face that you can't help but smile, looking away from her as you flush a little, pleased and a little embarrassed. "I mean, I already sort of have him, so... Um..." A small giggle escapes you. "Sorry. Right. You're right."

"YEAH!" she whoops, making Alphys jump. Thankfully she was just blowing on your nails to dry them. "Of course I am! Which is why you're going to let me take care of this and you can see once I'm done. And not a second before! Now close your eyes."

You look down at the makeup still laying on the bed, including several shades of very vibrant lipstick. A small thrill of rebellion stirs in your chest and you smile, pressing through your apprehension. You close your eyes and let Undyne work her magic.


There's a three-piece suit in that garment bag. A damn three-piece suit. He isn't sure what he was expecting, but Sans hadn't expected Mettaton to go this far. It's laid out on Papyrus's bed as he stands there, looking at it. Gray, black, and two shades of steely blue. Tucked away inside a little bag is a set of cufflinks and a tie pin in the shape of little dark red hearts. He isn't sure if Mettaton is trying to be funny or just a little heavy-handed, but Sans is reluctant to admit that he likes them. But he does.

The black slacks fit just right, even the length. Well, at least the bucket of bolts seems to know his way around clothing. As he slips the dark, steely blue shirt over his shoulders he can't help but wonder what Mettaton has picked out for you. It takes him a second to realize he should have put the shirt on first when he has to undo the button and fly so that he can pull his pants up over it. He grumbles a bit to himself as he does up the long row of buttons down his chest.

Knowing that Papyrus and Frisk are waiting impatiently out in the hall, he picks up the blue, black, gray, and burgundy striped tie and pulls it around his neck. "alright you two, come in," he calls out, holding the ends of the tie in each hand, hesitating.

He knows how to do this. He used to wear ties all the time. He fumbles with the tie for a moment, getting a little frustrated. Has he worn a tie since the accident? Shit, has it been that long?

Papyrus pulls his gloves off and tucks them over his collarbone, plucking Sans's hands away and taking over. "LET ME TAKE CARE OF THAT, BROTHER," he says, adjusting the length and knotting the fabric with deft motions. 

"thanks, pap," Sans mumbles as Papyrus smooths the tie down against his sternum. He flashes his brother a wide grin.

"YOU LOOK VERY HANDSOME ALREADY, SANS! OH, AND THERE'S MORE! QUICK, PUT ON THE VEST AND COAT!" he exclaims, hurrying over to the bed and picking up the remaining articles of clothing.

Chuckling, Sans shrugs into the black waistcoat with his brother's help, tucking the tie underneath as he buttons it up. He makes sure to fetch the tie pin before Frisk flops down on the bed and accidentally loses it. With the little red heart fastened in place, he slips on the gray blazer and tugs on the front of it, stretching his arms experimentally. So far so good. He pats against his sides and fumbles for a second but finds the pockets, sliding his hands inside. There, that's not too bad.

Shrugging, he looks up at Papyrus. His brother has sparkles in his eyes as he covers his mouth with both hands. "SANS YOU LOOK VERY NICE! I'M SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU DRESSED UP INSTEAD OF IN THOSE TRACK SHORTS AND SLIPPERS!"

Speaking of slippers, he looks down at his feet. Wriggling bare toes, he glances over at the bed to see Frisk holding a pair of socks and black, glossy dress shoes. "i dunno, i think i'd rather be wearing some comfy slippers than those," he says, giving the shoes a hesitant look.

"YOU CAN'T GO OUT IN SUCH A NICE SUIT AND THEN YOUR RATTY OLD SLIPPERS, SANS!" Papyrus objects loudly.

"i dunno, i just don't get their appheel," Sans says with a wide grin, giving Frisk a wink as they start giggling.

"I THINK THAT THEY SUIT YOU, BROTHER." Papyrus lets out a triumphant laugh at the pleased look on Sans's face. "NOW, LET ME GO FETCH AN ASSORTMENT OF APPROPRIATE DATING PRODUCTS FOR YOU! OH, AND DID YOU REMEMBER TO GET A GIFT? YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GIVE GIFTS ON DATES, DON'T FORGET!"

Papyrus is rushing out of the room before Sans can get a word in edgewise. There's no way in hell he's using any of those MTT Brand anythings for his date with you. Mettaton might have an eye for fashion, he'll give him that, but who knows what he puts in that stuff. Knowing that there's no point in delaying the inevitable, Sans puts on the socks and ties his shoes.

With one final brush of his hands down the front of his slacks, he looks up at Frisk and raises a brow, holding out his arms and turning a little from side to side. "well what do you think, kiddo? think your mom'll like it?"

"You look amazing!" Frisk exclaims, smiling from ear to ear and clapping their hands, full of so much enthusiasm that they wiggle a little on the edge of the bed.

Sans flushes a little bit, dropping his hands and shrugging. "ok, ok, i got it. no need to go overboard," he says, feeling a little embarrassed but happy.

 Frisk's smile relaxes a bit, but the kid is still beaming up at him, kicking their feet. "Dad...?"

"c'mon now, don't let pap hear that yet," Sans says gently, walking over to Frisk and giving them a weak punch to the shoulder.

"Have you talked to her? You said you were gonna talk to her!" Frisk says, frowning and puffing their cheeks.

"we're gonna talk, i promise." Sans chuckles. "keep making that face and it's gonna get stuck that way."

Papyrus hurries back into the room with an armful of assorted jars and bottles, and Sans knows he's going to have his work cut out for him in order to escape this unscathed.


Considering she's the only one with years of experience in the matter, Undyne is the one that styles your hair. The treatment they put in it earlier was at Mettaton's suggestion, but Undyne is the one that washes it out and dries your hair after the robot leaves to go attend to something. She still won't let you look in a mirror, even as she's pinning back the smooth, sweet-smelling waves of brown. They're pulled out of your face but fall down your back. You catch sight of a deep red, silk flower before she fixes it along the side of your head. That's your first hint of what else is to come.

Mettaton comes back by the time that Undyne finishes and he fetches a garment bag from Alphys's closet. Draping it over your arms, he ushers everyone out of the room so that you can get dressed. "Don't you dare look in a mirror, we want to see your reaction!" he orders, then hurries out.

Overcome with curiosity, you pull down the zipper to reveal your dress. On the hanger it's all gauzy, rich red chiffon from the high waist down. The top is pale with silver embroidery and matching red glass beads picked out into a vined, floral pattern. You're glad for the thick straps instead of leaving you strapless, but the plunging sweetheart neckline makes your stomach twist unpleasantly. You're supposed to wear this? It's beautiful but... this isn't something you'd ever choose for yourself.

But what would you choose for yourself, really? You never even got to go to prom in high school, you have no idea what kinds of dresses would look good on you. Besides, it's too late to do anything about it now.

You lay the dress out on the bed and notice a brand new set of lacy underwear in the same red color. How does Mettaton know your sizing, and where in the world did he find sexy underwear? You're not sure you want to know the answer to either question, and instead focus on changing. The underwear fits perfectly and so does the dress, though it takes you a moment to awkwardly step into it and hike it up over your shoulders. Fumbling a bit, you zip up the back as much as you can before calling the others back in.

Alphys gasps and Undyne's face breaks out into an enormous grin as she rushes forward to help you with your zipper. Mettaton lets out an exaggerated cry of joy that makes you flush with embarrassment, smoothing out the pleated, gauzy fabric at your waist. He pulls out another bag with a set of black boxes inside. "Just the finishing touches left," he says, grinning and handing the smaller one to you.

You open it and inside is a pair of silver dangle earrings with gray-blue crystals. You hook them into your ears and by the time you're done the robot is holding out a matching pendant. He holds it out for you, and a part of you is grateful that he doesn't offer to help. It saves you the trouble of declining. Clasped at the nape of your neck, the diamond-shaped pendant rests against your chest, right above your cleavage. And it's certainly more cleavage than you're used to showing with that neckline... You fight the urge to cover yourself, ignoring the nagging feeling in the back of your mind.

"Isn't this all a bit much?" you ask Mettaton, fidgeting with the necklace.

"For my hotel? Absolutely not, darling!" he says, sweeping black hair elegantly across his face.

"You look AWESOME!" Undyne says, giving you an enthusiastic flex and a huge smile.

"Y-you really do!" Alphys adds, and you think she looks a little sweaty.

"Alright darling, time for the big reveal! I'm dying to know what you think!" he says, opening up Alphys's closet to access the hidden, full-length mirror inside the door.

Taking a deep breath and expecting the worst, you walk up to Mettaton's side and look at yourelf in the mirror.

You have to remember not to touch your face as you fight the urge to cover your mouth and gasp. The dress is gorgeous. No, not just the dress. You. You've never looked so beautiful in your entire life and you have to take a moment to breathe so you don't cry and ruin the amazing makeup that your friend did for you. You don't even notice the way that Undyne and Alphys grin at each other, or the pleased look on Mettaton's face.

Why didn't you notice before that the dress is the exact shade of red as your Soul? Carefully, like you're afraid you might ruin it somehow, you trace your fingers along the high waist of the dress, enamored with the way it accentuates your curves. The neckline doesn't seem quite as shocking from the front rather than from above. Even your makeup, while it was intimidating when you couldn't see it is breathtaking now that you can. Is this even you? How had they taken the woman you saw in the mirror this morning and transformed you into this?

It's liberating. You feel polished and new and you have to force yourself to look away so that you can turn and smile at your friends. You try to speak, to thank them but for a moment you can't find the words. Alphys and Undyne give you warm, affectionate smiles, and Alphys even lets out an excited squeak before covering her mouth and blushing.

Mettaton takes a few steps back, looking you over and nodding to himself. When he catches you looking at him, me meets your eyes and smiles warmly. "Well darling, what do you think?"

"It's..." Beautiful. Wonderful. Better than you could have hoped for. "Mettaton, it's perfect. Thank you."

The robot claps his hands together in front of his mouth, pressing the sides of his fingers to his lips for a second as he struggles to keep his smile in check. Then, after a moment, he lowers them and says, "You're very welcome. I hope you like the burgundy, it matches your Soul perfectly, I think. Sans doesn't—" Mettaton cuts himself off, sighing. "Sans isn't going to know what hit him."

As if on cue, there's a sharp rap downstairs on the lab's door. Mettaton flashes you a bright smile. "Put your shoes on and come downstairs."

You feel giddy and beautiful, jittery and trembling as you pull on a pair of modest shoes. You thank the robot silently for getting you something almost practical, with thick, low heels. You're already taller than Sans, no need to make the gap in heights any wider, and you don't think you'd be able to walk in anything taller.

Then, with one last glance at Alphys and Undyne —they grin and Undyne gives you a thumbs-up— you head downstairs.

You see Sans before he sees you. He's talking to Mettaton, frowning a little while the robot gestures with his hands. He's wearing a suit and suddenly you don't feel overdressed at all. It's tailored to fit him perfectly, framing the set of his shoulders and painting a smooth, cut line down his body. You're a little warm just looking at him, and you feel the urge to slide your hands under his blazer. Even the familiar way he's got his hands shoved in his pockets is different. It feels confident instead of casual and you want to hook your arm through his and feel the smooth, trim fabric under your hands.

Then, with a gesture from Mettaton, he turns to look at you right as you step off the escalator. His eye sockets go wide and his jaw goes a little slack, dropping almost imperceptibly. The white lights of his eyes brighten as they sweep you from head to toe, and he pulls his hands out of his pockets in a reflexive motion to reach for you. After a moment he finds himself, grinning one of the brightest grins as he crosses the room to meet you. Reaching out to take your hand, he bends over it to press a toothy kiss to your knuckles. You blush, fighting the urge to laugh from the way your happiness is bubbling up inside you.

"you look beautiful," he says, looking up at you with something akin to awe.

"You clean up pretty good yourself, handsome," you say, and you can't help but notice that his shirt is the same color as your jewelry and nail polish. Upon further inspection you spot the little red —burgundy— heart fixed to his striped tie. Your hand finds the pendant resting against your chest. "Hey, look. We go together."

"of course we do. always."

Chapter Text

Mettaton's face is everywhere.

Not his new humanoid one, but the rectangular one. Little neon Mettatons flank the big 'MTT' sign out front, and there's even a fountain of him in the lobby (there's some water damage on the carpet but it looks old). As the host confirms your reservation and leads you and Sans to your table, you can't help but notice that the walls are dotted with stills from various Mettaton movies. The menus look like Mettaton. The tablecloths have Mettaton on them.

Sans glances up at you, the smile that's been affixed to his face since the lab fading just a little. "you okay, babe?" he asks you as you trail behind the host, your hand in the crook of Sans's arm and pressed close to his side.

"He... really likes looking at himself, doesn't he?" you ask, murmuring low enough so that only he can hear. You'd rather not have any of Mettaton's employees hear you.

"there's so much of it you just kinda stop seeing it after a while. it's sorta like a nasty smell; you just get used to it," he says, giving a weak chuckle. "does it bother you?"

You take another cursory glance around the room, more amused than unsettled. "No, not really. It's just so..."

"mettaton?"

You snort, nodding and hiding your face behind your hand as you try to muffle your laughter. The host glances back at you but doesn't say anything as you lean against Sans and take a steadying breath. "Yeah," you say, giggling. "God it's just so outrageous."

Arriving at your table, the host pulls out your chair with a manicured set of claws, pushing it in as you sit down. That's the first time anyone has ever done that for you and to be honest its a little awkward and you think you sit down a bit too soon. You end up having to scoot yourself a little closer, fidgeting with the gauzy layers of your skirt. Sans takes off his blazer (oh, you think that he might look even better in just the collared shirt and waistcoat, and are those heart-shaped cufflinks too?) and drapes it over the back of his chair, shooing the host away with a flick of his hand.

"Your server will be with you shortly," they say, giving you a nod and leaving you with your Mettaton-shaped menus.

Sans raises a brow and reaches out to take hold of a brass cube sitting on the table. There's a tealight candle inside and it —of course— also looks like a little Mettaton. He twists it a little from side to side, then lets go and sits back in his chair. "wanna make a bet on how many mettatons we find in our room later?"

It takes a moment for his words to register in your brain because you're staring. You want to tug at that knot in his tie and pull him over the table, or take hold of his waistcoat and start to undo the buttons. By the time your eyes flick back up to his face he's giving you a crooked smirk, and you think you see a hint of blue painted over his cheekbones. Your own face is starting to feel a bit hot, too. "That, uh, depends. How big is the room?"

Sans's smile widens, but if he notices your blush he doesn't say anything. "it's a full suite. sitting room, bedroom, bathroom."

"What are we betting on?" you ask. You lace your fingers together and rest your arms flat on the table, leaning forward a little. Sans's eyes flick down to your cleavage, lingering for a second before returning to your face.

"i get the feeling we both want the same thing," he murmurs, reaching up to trace his finger from the knot in his tie to the top of his vest. To the casual observer it might seem like he was just smoothing his tie, but no. That was definitely something suggestive.

You level your gaze at him, raising a brow and fighting the urge to find his leg under the table with your foot. Plenty of time for that. "Thirteen," you say.

Sans blinks. "huh?"

"Thirteen Mettatons." You smirk a little, pleased with yourself. "What do you think?"

"oh, uh..." He looks a little flustered as he glances down at his menu. "well, this is mettaton we're talking about. i'm gonna say twenty."

As you wait for your server, you decide to take a look at the menu as well. The moment you open it you're greeted with a quarter-page sized glossy photo of a steak in the shape of Mettaton's face. "I think I may have underestimated the strength of Mettaton's narcissism."

Laughing, Sans flips to the back to the drinks and desserts. "too late now. you've already guessed. he takes the ton in mettaton very literally i guess."

You turn the page. "Oh good, there's some food that isn't shaped like a rectangle."

"i don't care what it looks like, i'm getting the most expensive thing on the menu."

"Oh wow, Sansy is that you?"

Sansy? You and Sans look up from your menus as your server arrives. The first thing your brain comes up with is 'sheep'. Her thick, wooly hair is styled into a soft, fluffy bob that's shockingly pink. It matches her vibrant collared shirt and the little rings of wool around her wrists. She reminds you of a groomed poodle. The rest of her that you can see is trim, cream-colored fur that's especially fine on her face. Two big, watery blue eyes are fixed on Sans, flashing blunted teeth in a bright smile.

"oh, hey bo, long time no see," he says, giving her a friendly grin. 

You wonder how they know each other, then vaguely recall that he said something about doing comedy here at the resort before. It doesn't help the little annoyed feeling that's building in the back of your head.

"It sure has been a hot minute since I've seen you around here, and I almost didn't recognize you in those clothes! Aren't you handsome?" She reaches out to rest a hand on his shoulder, giggling before she lets him go. You fight the urge to grit your teeth. Bo turns to look at you, giving you the same sweet smile that she gave him. Maybe... maybe she's just friendly. You feel the little twinge of jealousy start to settle a bit.  "Never would have thought to see you back here. With a date no less! I haven't seen anyone like you around, honey, where are you and your family from?"

"she's from snowdin," he cuts in, answering for you. You're glad, because you hadn't even thought of coming up with any kind of backstory for yourself. No one ever really asked you anything about it back in Snowdin.

"Oh golly, isn't it cold for you there? I mean, you don't even have any fur to keep warm," Bo says, pretending to shiver. "I don't know how you stand it, I love being here by the Core. It's nice and warm."

Sans gives her a big smile. “are ewe saying that i should be cold in snowdin? i don't have any fur, you know.”

Bo giggles again, giving his shoulder a playful smack. Oh, there's that ugly feeling again. You look down at your menu so you don't have to see the way she's smiling at him. "You joker, not everyone is all warm bones like you!"

How does she know he's warm?

"i know, the cold just goes right through me." You can hear the wink in his voice. He's this way with everyone, but for some reason it's grating on you. "but it's sweet of you to worry about my girl, bo. but you don't need to, i make sure she stays nice and warm."

Oh. You blush, looking up in time to see Sans give you an affectionate smile. Bo titters behind a raised hand, beaming at you. "Aren't you two adorable!" she says, looking thrilled. "Now, now, I'm sorry to interrupt your date, let me get your drinks while you take a look at the menu." Bo pulls a small notepad and pencil out of her pocket, shifting closer to you with an expectant look.

"do you wanna split a bottle of wine?" Sans asks, looking at the drink list.

You feel Bo's big watery eyes on you and you fidget a little, an unsettled feeling stirring in your stomach that has nothing to do with Sans or Bo. "Um, no I think I'll just stick to water."

"Well you just tell me if you want anything different, honey," Bo says, shifting her hips and reaching out to touch your arm. She winks at you. "I can get you whatever you want."

You blush a little and you hear Sans chuckle. "i'll have water too, for now. we'll let you know if we want something else, bo. thanks."

"Sounds great, I'll be back."

"in the shake of a lamb's tail?" Sans winks at you and you smile.

"Now there's one I haven't heard in a while," Bo says, laughing. "Leave it to Sansy."

You wait for Bo to walk away before raising a manicured brow at Sans. "Sansy?" you ask.

Sans shrugs. "bo's like that with everyone."

"I noticed," you say, rubbing your arm and giving an embarrassed laugh.

"hey, you know you don't have to worry about the cost of any of this. get whatever you want. wine, mettaton-shaped steak, anything," he says, reaching across the table with his hand palm-up.

You slip your hand into his and he gives it a squeeze. Had you not mentioned this before? But, when would it have come up? "That's not why I didn't want wine. It, um... I can't stand the smell. Mom used to, well I guess she still does... She drinks wine. More than she should." You bite the inside of your lip and Sans squeezes your hand again. You look up at Sans, feeling suddenly selfish. "But you get whatever you want! I don't want you to worry about me, it's fine."

"babe, c'mon. i'm not gonna do anything that might make you uncomfortable. especially not if it has something to do with her." The way he grimaces and growls out the word makes you smile.

"Thanks," you say, a swell of affection pushing everything else you're feeling away. You're here, with Sans, on a fancy date. It's all that matters.

The tension leaves his face and he rubs his thumb across the back of your hand. "so," he says pointedly. "maybe we should figure out what we want to eat."


Dinner is amazing and Bo is the perfect amount of attentive yet absent as you make your way through an appetizer and the main course. About halfway through your Mettaton-shaped steak (there's something oddly satisfying about cutting him into little pieces, and you have to admit it's a damn good steak) you slip a foot out of one of your shoes so that you can snake your toes under the hem of Sans's trousers. He shifts his leg closer to you with only the barest hint of a smirk as he picks at his food. Turns out that the most expensive thing on the menu isn't necessarily the tastiest.

He doesn't make the same mistake with dessert. But before you realize it Bo is taking away your plates and you and Sans sit there and regard each other across the table.

"So, what now?" you ask him, folding up the napkin in your lap and setting it on the table in front of you.

Sans balls up his napkin and puts it beside his unused silverware. He glances over at the stage set in the corner of the restaurant where there's a trio of monsters playing some light music. There's also a small dance floor, where a handful of couples are swaying together. "um." He looks a little uncomfortable.

"I'd rather not worry about stepping on your feet," you admit, much to Sans's relief.

"we could go for a walk. the resort's pretty big. i dunno about you, but i'm happy just spending time alone with you. doesn't need to be anything fancy." Sans shrugs, but then gives you a hesitant look. "unless there's something you wanna do."

You're smiling —probably blushing a little— happy and most certainly loved. "That sounds perfect."

"ok. cool," he says, and he sounds so pleased that you can't help the way that your smile widens even more. You love seeing him this way. You love seeing him happy and knowing that it's because of you.

It swells inside your chest almost painfully, the affection and joy you feel as he gets up from his chair and shrugs his blazer back on before coming to offer you his hand. You let him help you to your feet. He crooks his arm for you to take it but instead you lace your fingers together and guide your joined hands into his pocket, leaning close to rest your other hand against his sleeve. "I love you," you murmur, soft and private, because it's the only way to alleviate this pressure in your chest. You need to tell him, need him to hear it and know it before you burst.

As the two of you start heading for the exit, wrapped on his arm, he looks up at you like you're the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. "i love you too. are you having a good time so far?"

"Of course. Can't wait to see what else you've got in store for me," you say, making a pleased sound.

Sans hesitates, but you're not sure why. He nods at the host as they hold the door open for you as you head into the main lobby of the hotel, but he makes a noise like he wants to say something but can't think of the words. That's strange. You're about to ask him if something's wrong when he starts to laugh. Really laugh. "i can't believe it," he says, shaking his head and laughing some more.

"What, what's so funny?" you ask, smiling and curious. 

"i'm sure i should have had a joke there, but..." He meets your eyes and another happy chuckle escapes him. His smile has taken over his eyes, and no matter how hard you look you can't see anything hidden behind that grin. "i can't think of anything. all i can think about is you."

Chapter Text

The resort is bigger than you realize. After some exploring past a few gift shops (bursting with Mettaton-themed merchandise) and a fast food place, down a winding hall and out a pair of stained glass doors (which unsurprisingly look like Mettaton) you find yourselves in a courtyard. It's dark, lit by a string of lampposts picked out along a curving path, winding through squat hedges and decorative trees. Scattered throughout the space are little flower beds, but you can't make out the colors of the blooms.

Squeezing your hand tucked in his pocket with his own, the two of you share a glance before starting a slow pace down the path. As far as you can tell the two of you are alone, quiet save for the humming of the lampposts. It's romantic and peaceful, the kind of scene you could only imagine from love stories and romantic movies. But now you're here, with Sans, and it's so surreal and so amazing you can't stop smiling. Neither can he.

Sans clears his throat and you glance over at him, his eyes like little stars in pools of black. "so," he says, studying your face for a moment before reaching up to brush some loose hair from your eyes. You lean down a little to make it easier, and he traces the curve of your cheek before dropping his hand. "it hasn't really come up, and it just sorta worked out this way, but uh... i dunno if you remember it's our three month anniversary. well, technically it's tomorrow, but close enough, right?"

"Wow, three months?" you say, letting out a wistful sigh. "Feels longer. Or shorter. It kinda feels like both at the same time, you know?"

Sans nods. "lot has happened in the past three months."

"I didn't even realize. I guess this trip was good timing then!" you say, grinning. "I'm surprised you remembered."

He looks away, out over the path ahead of you. It's enough of a shift in the lighting that you can't quite make out his expression. "i like keeping track of dates. you will too once you see how papyrus gets about his birthday," he says, in that tone that makes you feel like there's something more to what he's saying. Something you don't quite understand. But he looks back at you and smiles. "besides, i think it's a pretty important day to remember."

"Well, I suppose," you say, a little coy.

He squeezes your hand again, stroking your skin with his thumb. "there's, ah, actually a couple things i wanted to talk to you about," Sans says, sounding a little nervous. You think, in the yellow light from the lamps, that his cheekbones have colored. "i promised frisk that i would."

Your eyebrows raise, curious. Rubbing his arm through his sleeve with your unoccupied hand, you give him a warm, reassuring look. "I'm listening."

Sans sighs, reaching up to scratch the back of his skull. After a moment of fidgeting, he shoves his hand in his empty pocket. "when they were sick, the kiddo asked if they could call me 'dad'."

"Oh," you say, more than a little embarrassed at Frisk's boldness specifically after you asked them not to say anything. The two of you had already decided to leave that conversation for later, after all. "Sans, if it makes you uncomfortable, I can—"

He comes to a halt, pulling your joined hands out of his pocket and turning to face you. Holding your gaze with an intensity that wasn't there a moment ago, you realize that you're holding your breath. "i told them yes, so long as it's okay with you. i promised them i'd talk to you about it."

Something happy and confused and timid curls in your chest, resting right beneath your ribs. "Sans, I thought..." You swallow past a lump in your throat, a ball of giddiness you have to fight back down. Don't get ahead of yourself. "I thought you were more comfortable with someday," you say in a small voice.

"yeah, i thought i was too, until i almost lost both of you this week. again," he says, clenching his jaw for a moment before his face relaxes. "babe, you're..."

You watch him as he struggles with something you can't see, shifting forward to stand closer to him. Silently, you wait.

Sans lets out a slow breath, untangling your fingers so he can press your palm to his chest, covering your hand with his. "i've shared my home with you, my bed, my soul. and i've said this before, but... i'm more than happy to share my future with you too. it's all already yours, if you want it."

"Sans," you breathe, tears threatening in the corners of your eyes as you draw a shaky breath. "If you're saying what... what I think you're saying..." A small, frantic voice is screaming at you inside your head, repeating 'yes' over and over again. "It's... you just said it's only been three months."

"i haven't wanted to let you go since i realized that losing you might be the thing that finally tears me apart. maybe it's different with humans, but you felt what i felt when our souls touched. i don't need more time to figure out what i want. i want you. i want frisk, and i want us to be a real family." Sans cups your cheek, searching your face with bright, hopeful eyes.

Something within you breaks and you're nodding and throwing your arms around his neck, laughing and crying and so overwhelmed. "Yes," you whisper into the side of his face, pressing kisses along his cheek as he wraps you up in his arms. "I want that. I want you. Yes."

"you want me," he echoes, burying his face into the crook of your neck and taking a deep breath. 

"Of course I do," you say, giddy laughter breaking free as you rest your head against his. "You're mine."

"and you're mine," he says. You feel teeth against your neck and your fingers curl into the back of his jacket, making you gasp. "my soul is yours and yours is mine."

"I love you. I can't..." You're laughing again, pulling back so you can look at him through blurry eyes, taking hold of his shoulders. "I can't think of anything else to say. My mind just keeps saying 'yes' over and over again."

"then say it. i want to hear it," he says, cupping your face and pulling you back down to him, and you go because he wants you close and how can you ever deny him that?

You rest your forehead against his, circling his wrists with your fingers. You're so close that his face is blurred, the bright sparks of white that should just be two are instead a field of stars. He fills your sight and nothing else matters but him and you and this bright thing that the two of you have found together. "Yes, yes, yes..."

"i love you," he murmurs.

"I love you too," you say, your voice breaking a little and it makes you laugh. You keep laughing and you're smiling so wide it almost hurts.

"you're sure? you're sure you want this? this future, with me? you want me to be frisk's dad?" He punctuates his questions with tiny brushes of his fingers, delicate touches that make you shiver.

"Yes. Yes, Sans." You'll say it as many times as he needs to hear, so long as he finally believes you.

"you promise?"

"Yes. Is this what you want, too?"

"more than anything. i want this life. i want this future." His voice is thin and he's holding you tighter, closing his eyes. "i'd given up on hoping. i thought that this was all there is. and then you fell down here with frisk and you've made everything so different and wonderful."

"I never thought I'd ever have love like this. I thought this was stuff made up in the movies or in books." You tilt your face to kiss the corner of his mouth, rewarded with a pleased hum as he melts under your touch. "Everything in my life, everything was worth it to reach you."

Silence fills the space between you, and slowly, gently, you pull apart to look at each other. Not too far, though, because Sans drops his hands to your waist and takes hold of your hips, keeping your body pressed close to his. He's smiling and thankfully you didn't get any makeup all over his face and oh no... You dab at your still-wet eyes with the back of your hand, expecting a smudge of black but instead you only see the gleaming wetness of drying tears on your skin.

"Oh," you say, surprised.

He blinks. "what?"

You shake your head, giving a weak laugh. "I thought for certain I'd be a huge, smudgy mess," you say, tilting your head from side to side. "How do I look?"

"beautiful. perfect," he says, and when you meet his eyes there's that look of awe from earlier. It makes your heart flutter and your cheeks warm with pleasure.

"Leave it to Undyne to have waterproof makeup," you say, and now that you've said it you realize that makes pretty good sense. As a fish, it seems only logical that she'd want to make sure it wouldn't run.

"you'd still look beautiful even if it did get ruined."

"Now you're just trying to flatter me," you say, but despite your attempt at seriousness you're smiling.

Sans rubs his thumbs along the curve of your hips, giving you a firm squeeze for good measure. Your eyes flutter and you bite your lip, rocking forward a little as you take hold of the lapels of his blazer. His eyes flick down to your mouth and then back up to your eyes, bright and hungry. "well, i think it's working," he says, his voice canted so low that you can feel it hum through your body as you're pressed against him.

"Sans," you say, realization hitting you now that you're feeling more steady again, a bit calmer than a few minutes ago. "Sans oh my God you just proposed."

"i, uh," he stumbles, glancing away and back again, and even in the poor light he's definitely blushing. "yeah, i suppose i did. i hope you don't mind that i wasn't actually prepared for that to happen." He covers his face with one hand, groaning. "shit that just makes it sound bad! babe, i love you, and i want this, i just hadn't expected all this to happen today. i'm just so happy, and—"

"Hun. You're the one who confessed your love for me to Undyne. At least you proposed to me instead of, say, Alphys." You're grinning, and Sans gives you a look that you can only describe as scandalized. Laughing, you pepper his cheekbones with kisses. "Don't worry. There's plenty of time for worrying later. For now, I want to get you out of this suit."

Mollified at least a little, Sans's face relaxes into a familiar, hungry look. His eyes scan over the bare expanse of your chest, down to the dip of your dress's neckline, then back up to your eyes. "i'm listening."

Blushing but emboldened by the sheer joy of everything that just happened, you let go of his lapels to slide your hands beneath his blazer, dragging a path up to his shoulders and down again. You follow the path of your hands with your eyes, lingering over him before looking back up to his face. His gaze is heavy on you, thick with tension. It makes you feel powerful. "Well, maybe not completely out of it. Because, damn it looks good on you."

"we'll figure something out." There's a flash of blue and then before you realize it you feel him pressing against you, a stiff curve that wasn't there a second ago.

You stare at him, meeting his blue, glowing eye for a moment before you start laughing. "Oh my God I can't believe you conjured it just to do that."

"hey, i just wanted to get my point across."

"Point taken," you say, rolling your eyes.

"oh you will be taking it."

You let out a loud, undignified snort and Sans looks far too pleased with himself.

Chapter Text

"I have definitely underestimated Mettaton," you say, surveying your suite. Your room door opens up into a small sitting room through which you can see the bedroom and its massive bed —bigger than a king! Littering the two rooms (you can't even imagine the bathroom) are Mettatons.

Throw pillows, the lamps, even the pictures on the walls... You take another look at the bed and you're just happy that he isn't all over the crimson bedspread. But, if you overlook the sheer tackiness of having Mettaton quite literally all over the room, it's pretty nice. Actually, it's very nice. Even with your shoes on you can feel the plush, cream carpet and everything looks brand new.

You turn at the sound of Sans setting the heavy key to the room down on the coffee table, watching him straighten up and shrug off his blazer. He might be a skeleton, but he's built so broad (not to mention how thick his bones are compared to yours) that he manages to fill out that collared shirt in a way that has your pulse quickening. You watch his shoulders shift beneath two layers of fabric, staring as he throws the jacket over the back of an armchair. Caught where you're standing, entranced, you feel your cheeks start to burn when he turns to look at you.

Sans raises a brow, the corner of his mouth quirking up a little. "you were saying something about mettaton?" he asks, his voice canted low in a way that goes straight to the lowest parts of your belly.

Is it warm in here? You blink. "Uh, was I?" you say, stumbling over the words enough to make you blush even more.

Sans's smile widens, eyes bright as they give you an appreciative sweep from head to toe. After a lingering moment he turns his attention to his wrists, raising his hands as he starts pulling at his cufflinks. He jerks his chin towards the bedroom. "why don't you take off those shoes? go sit down. get comfortable."

You leave him in the sitting room, smoothing your skirts along the back of your thighs as you take a seat on the foot of the bed. Kicking your shoes off to the side, you fight the urge to tuck your knees up to your chest as a giddy rush of anticipation thrills through your nerves. Running bare toes through the thick carpet, you look up as Sans follows you into the bedroom. The cufflinks are gone and as he walks towards you he's rolling up his sleeves, watching you intently as you follow the motions of his hands with your eyes.

It's such a simple thing but damn if it doesn't make your mouth start to water. You swallow. From your seat on the bed he's taller than you and you have to look up at him. You've never felt like he was smaller than you, even though he's shorter. He's broad and sturdy and and he makes you feel safe, but right now you feel small in the best way possible.

"i want you to relax and let me take care of you," he says with an intensity that makes you melt.

"Okay," you breathe, reaching out to hook the fingers of one hand on the waist of his slacks.

He circles his hand gently but firmly around your wrist, pulling your hand away. He sets it down on the bed, then reaches up to your hair. You feel him pull out the long pins and the silk flower, tossing them aside as he focuses on loosening your long waves so that they fan out across your back. His fingers scrape across your scalp in a way that makes you hum, and he runs the strands through his hands as you tilt your head back.

You're putty in his hands as he smooths your hair out of your face, cupping your jaw with both hands as he pauses to just look at you. Biting your lip, you love the way his eyes flick down to the movement then back up. "don't worry about me. don't worry about anything. just enjoy yourself and let me handle everything. i need you to do this for me."

"Yes," you say. There's a tension in your chest that unwinds, and all at once you realize that it's been days since you felt like you could give away everything and just let yourself relax. Right here, right now, with Sans, there's nothing to worry about. It's easy to loosen your grip on it all when Sans is there to hold you up. "Yes please."

He traces the fingers of his left hand down the curve of your neck, following your shoulder before dropping to your breast. You tilt your head into Sans's other hand, exposing more of your throat as he lowers his head to trail little nipping bites down the line of your jaw. You turn enough to press open-mouthed kisses along his bony palm. His teeth graze down the side of your neck, making you shiver as he drags the edges against your skin. Sliding from your breast to your waist, the gauzy fabric is a weak barrier between the warm press of his fingers as he squeezes your hip. Then, with almost agonizing slowness, he opens his mouth and takes the flesh at the join of shoulder and neck between his teeth and bites. Your gasp bottoms out into a moan as he releases you only to shift and bite down again, holding you tight. Then he eases away, his soft, smooth tongue lapping at tender flesh.

Sans dips down to your collarbone so you tip your head back, leaning back on your hands to hold yourself upright. He alternates between teeth and tongue across your chest, pushing the necklace aside. As he makes his way to the other side of your neck he slips his hand around to the back of your dress to tug down the zipper. He helps you shrug the dress's straps down your arms, then lifts your hips with one hand so he can pull the dress off and away, a puddle of red and silver on the floor.

Sans pauses long enough to take off his shoes, and as he does so you reach up to start unbuttoning his waistcoat. He lets you ease it off of him, then gives you a throaty laugh as you take hold of the end of his tie and pull him down so you can pepper his face in wet kisses. Love swells in your chest and you ache for him between your legs as you stop kissing him so you can scrape your teeth along the length of his jaw. He shivers and pulls away, looking down at you with hooded eyes as he reaches up to tug on the knot of his tie. Your lips curve into a sultry smile as you watch him, wrapping your arms around his chest as he slips the loosened tie over his head and discards it.

He runs his hands from the sides of your breasts and down to your waist and up again, the smooth warmth of his bones familiar against your skin. He's smiling down at you, blue left eye bright as he runs the tip of his magic tongue along the edges of his teeth and the tips of his canines. You make a pleased hum deep in your chest in response.

"as pretty as this new underwear is, it seems uncomfortable. better take it off of you," he says, feeling his voice in your chest as he pinches the hooks of your bra to unclasp them. He's gotten better at that over the past few months, that's for certain.

You have to let him go in order for him to get rid of your bra and he takes the opportunity to slide you further onto the bed before slipping your panties down your legs. Then he follows you onto the bed, still mostly dressed as he settles in next to you. You roll on your side and tug at the collar of his shirt, unbuttoning the top two buttons so you can reach his neck with your lips. Sans groans and tilts his head to the side, drawing in a ragged breath as your tongue laps at the bumps and ridges of the vertebrae. Smiling, you're pleased with yourself as you elicit a soft moan when you graze bone with your teeth.

But then he's pushing you gently away, pinning you to the bed as he straddles you. You take a second to pull your hair out from under your back, fanning it beside your head as he watches, looking down at you as blue stains his cheekbones. Reaching up, you cup your hands under his then slide your fingers up his forearms, stopping when you reach his rolled-up sleeves. He pulls his arms away and takes hold of your hands, leaning forward to pin them on either side of you.

He stares at you so intensely that you think he's about to say something, but instead he lowers his head to your breast, circling the nipple with his tongue and then swiping across, making you gasp and arch your back. Taking it gently between his teeth, he tugs just enough not to hurt as he swirls the tip of his tongue in a rough circle that has you squirming. Flushed and desperate, you rock your hips under him, letting out a weak cry as he moves to your other breast. You give a weak press against his hands but he's still holding you in place, taking his time. It's driving you crazy.

"Sans, please," you whine, shifting under him.

"ok, babe. i've got you," he murmurs against your skin, letting go of your hands so that he can scoot down towards your hips. He leans back, dragging his fingers down your sides as he goes, making you squirm more as he watches you with a satisfied look on his face.

You and Sans make a practiced shift, you pulling your legs out from between his as he settles between yours, cupping your thighs and humming. Resting down on his chest, he has one of your legs over his shoulder, holding it there and leaning his head against it as he looks up at you. The fingers of his other hand find your folds, teasing around your entrance in slow, languid circles until you let out another whine. Then, you let out a low moan as he slides inside of you.

He curls his fingers, stroking you as you squeeze your eyes shut and gasp. The hand on your leg lets go and reaches up to cup your breast, circling your nipple with his thumb to spike your pleasure even higher. You twist to the side to make it easier for him to reach. Bucking your hips, you're desperate for his tongue on your clit but he's not doing it. You take hold of the arm at your breast with one hand, your other sliding down to take care of yourself, but before you can reach something warm and smooth circles both your wrists and presses them above your head. Startled and more than a little aroused, you crane your neck to look and find yourself restrained by bands of glowing, blue magic.

Sans is giving you a smug grin as you look down at him, curling his fingers inside of you as he nips at your inner thigh. You can't help the soft groan that escapes you as you press down against his hand. "i told you to let me take care of you," he says, and you can feel his breath against your skin.

"I feel like you've been holding out on me," you say, letting your head fall back against the bed. "How come you've never done anything like this before?"

"my hands were busy," he says, followed by a low chuckle.

You're about to retort when you feel his tongue press against you and slowly drag over your clit, and any words you might have spoken die on your lips as you moan. Already wound so tight by the time he circles the bundle of nerves, you know it won't take much longer for you to reach your peak. He alternates between slow, wide strokes and focused flicks of his tongue. No longer curling his fingers, he withdraws and thrusts back inside of you in time with his thumb on your nipple. Soon enough you're letting out a ragged moan and arching your back, Sans's hand pulling away from your breast to grip hard at your side, focusing his ministrations to draw out your orgasm before backing off to ease you through it as long as possible.

Trembling as you slowly start to relax, you expect to find the magic around your wrists gone but it's not. You flex your fingers and look down at Sans as his tongue slides back behind his teeth and he pushes himself up onto his knees, grinning down at you. You smile back, laughing weakly at the pleased look in his face. He always looks so happy and satisfied with himself when he gets you to come. It's adorable.

"that's the look i love," he says, humming as he starts to undo the buttons on his shirt. You try to sit up and help but you're still held down by his magic. His blue eye darts up to your wrists and back down to your face, smile widening a little.

"Oh yeah?" you say, too fuzzy to think of anything better.

"yeah," he agrees, tugging his shirt out from his pants and shrugging it off. His fingers get to work on his belt. "definitely one of my favorites."

"And what are your other favorites?" You shift your hips back and forth, running your toes up and down the sides of his feet. Part of you is so contented that you could probably doze off if he let you... but you don't want him to let you. You're watching him pull the belt free from his trousers.

"hmm... probably that little embarrassed look you make right after you snort. i've been fond of that since before i ever saw what you look like after i get you to come for me," he murmurs, waggling an eyebrow at you. You giggle. "and that one right there. when i make you laugh."

"I love you," you say, nudging his hips with your knees.

"i love you too, babe," he says, pushing his pants down past his pelvis before leaning down to nip at your thighs. You sigh as he grabs your legs, pressing in closer to bite down before letting go. You have the distinct impression you're going to be covered in marks in the morning, but you're finding it difficult to care.

With a little bit of difficulty he gets his trousers past his knees while kneeling and reaches around behind him to yank them off, followed by his socks. As he turns back around to face you his left eye flares brighter for a moment and his cock manifests from his pelvis. The two of you have spent a lot of time perfecting the shape and size of it over the past three months, and you think that it's just about perfect. Different positions tend to do better with slight alterations, but he's learning to anticipate that too. In the early days it was a bit... plain. Like he knew the sort of general shape but none of the details. But why would he? He hadn't needed one before. This is something he made for you, to please you. Sure he gets pleasure from it too, since —as he explained it— it's basically an extension of his magic and his Soul. But he doesn't need it. You've learned firsthand how to get him to come without anything but your two bodies and careful attention to his lower spine.

If he let you go you might show him how much you've learned, but he seems to have other intentions. Not that you mind too much.

"comfortable?" he asks, glancing up at your hands before he bends over you to nip at the soft skin of your stomach, trailing weak bites towards your side and up to your ribs.

Circling your legs around his back, you hook your knees on the wings of his pelvis, pulling him closer to you. "Worried about me?"

"just making sure. don't be afraid to tell me if there's something you don't like," he says, tilting his head up to look at your face even as his tongue flicks over your nipple. You squirm, sucking in a breath.

"I know. I will," you say, tugging him closer again and bucking your hips.

He lets out a low chuckle, finally settling into position over you. Rocking his hips a little, he brushes against your folds and watches your face as you frown down at him.

"I thought you said you were going to take care of me, not tease me," you whine.

"sorry, babe. sometimes i can't help it," he says, nuzzling into the crook of your neck and giving you a few shallow bites. He follows with a slow swipe of his tongue, then reaches down with one hand to take hold of your hip.

Slowly, carefully, he eases inside of you, filling you up as he breathes out a moan next to your ear. Your head presses back into the mattress, biting your lip and then gasping as his fingers dig into your side, lifting you up so he can angle deeper. He pulls back, all the way to the tip before thrusting back in, making you cry out as he hits your already-sensitive inner walls. You try to reach for him but you can't, a small desperate sound escaping you.

He groans your name and you feel your hands go free as he begins a steady rhythm, bent forward over you with one hand twisted into the bedspread next to you. You reach up to circle him, hooking your fingers between his ribs. You hold yourself against him, hard bones against soft flesh. Lowering his head next to yours, he turns into your cheek before you press open-mouthed kisses along his cheekbone and jaw.

He's close. You can tell by the ragged way he's breathing and how his fingers are tensing even tighter on your hip. He thrusts once, twice more and then he moans and goes still, shuddering. You let your fingers relax, stroking his sides as he slowly starts to unravel. After a moment he lets go of your side and you unwrap yourself from his hips, letting him collapse onto the bed beside you.

You turn to look at him, smiling as he blinks hard to bring back the little white lights in his eyes. He lets out a heavy, satisfied sigh, meeting your gaze with a bleary smile.

"this whole weekend. this trip. this was a good idea," he says, reaching out with a shaky hand to cup your cheek.

You cover his hand, nodding. "Definitely."

"you know what would make this all even better?" he asks, eyes twinkling with mischief.

You laugh at the look on his face, smiling. "What?"

"overpriced room service."

Chapter Text

"Okay, is a set of slippers one or two?" You bend over to pick up the pair of rectangular, Mettaton-shaped slippers, then turn around to face Sans where he's sitting on the bed. His eyes are stuck on your hips, and you realize that he must have gotten an eyeful of your ass when you leaned over, his dress shirt not quite long enough to cover you or the red, lacy underwear. Smirking, you clear your throat. "Hun?"

Sans blinks, looking up at your face. "huh?"

You hold up the aforementioned slippers, chuckling. "One or two? It's a pair."

"uh, two," Sans decides, shrugging.

You purse your lips. "Okay, but you said the curtains was just one, and there's two panels."

"then the curtains are two," he says. He goes back to picking at a large, ornate slice of chocolate cake with a Mettaton-stamped fork. ("That wasn't in the room when we got here, that one doesn't count.")

"Well I guess it doesn't matter. We were both wrong. There's at least twenty-five of them so far and I haven't made it through the bathroom yet." You sigh and shake your head, dropping the slippers down on the floor.

"c'mon, we got all this food—"

"You. You got all this food."

"i got all this food for both of us, come and have some," Sans says, jabbing his fork at the myriad of desserts sitting on the bedspread. About four plates in addition to the one in his hand; one of everything off the restaurant's menu.

"No, I'm determined to see how many I can find," you grumble, ducking into the bathroom. You're greeted by two Mettaton-patterned towels, and two robes with little Mettatons scattered over the fabric. You let out a loud groan. "Oh my God."

"okay, i think that's enough," Sans says from your side, and you start laughing as he ducks down to wrap his arms around your thighs.

With a cry of surprise, he lifts you off your feet and you grab hold of his shoulders to hold your self steady. "Sans!" you yelp, giggling down at him as he carries you back into the bedroom.

"what can i say, i always wanted to sweep you off your feet," he says, grinning up at you with an amused expression. With his hand planted on one butt cheek, he gives you an appreciative squeeze before setting you back down on the ground beside the bed. "now, stop scouring the room and have some cake. or pie. or whatever that other thing is. with the weird filling you said is made of some kind of cheese."

"The cannolis," you say, shaking your head.

"sure. that one."

You give him a lopsided smile, brushing one of his cheekbones with your hand and kissing the other before giving in and crawling onto the bed. Propping yourself up with some pillows, you decide that the cannolis do sound good and grab one of them off the plate. Instead of following you, Sans goes over to the suitcase that was here waiting for you when you arrived. Mettaton brought it up and left it so that neither of you had to worry about it while on your date. As you pick pastry crumbs off your cleavage (very sexy), Sans fishes out a pair of gray sweatpants and tugs them on.

"you know," Sans says as he takes the spot next to you, squashing a pillow behind his back. He picks up the plate with the half-eaten cake and settles in comfortably with his leg against yours. "if you're gonna make a habit of wearing my dress shirts like that after we go somewhere fancy... i might have to find some reasons to dress up more often."

"Well, I can think of something that you need to wear a suit for. Well, a tux really." You pause, licking sweetened ricotta filling off your fingers. Nervous all of a sudden, you glance over at Sans as he watches you. "I mean, unless monster, um, weddings are different."

"sort of. depends on the monsters," Sans says, shrugging. "can't say i've been to any human weddings though. seen 'em in movies."

"I know you said you weren't exactly planning on proposing. Maybe we should..." You trail off, pulling your knees up to your chest and wrapping your arms around your legs. "I dunno... take a step back I guess."

"is that what you want?" he asks, and you feel his hand on the side of your face as he pushes your hair over your shoulder.

You tilt your head to look at him and his thumb brushes the corner of your eye, making you smile. "I just don't want you to feel pressured. I don't want to pressure you."

"is that what frisk's dad told you? that he felt pressured?" Sans says, an edge to his voice even as his expression is warm. His hand on your cheek is tender and affectionate.

You shrug, resting your chin on your knee. "Yeah, basically."

"hey, look at me. come here." He tugs on your arm gently, unwrapping you from the tight ball you wound yourself into. He sets his plate aside so he can pull you to him and rest back into the pillows. With a hand under your chin, he tilts your head up to meet his eyes. "if i feel pressured, i'll talk to you about it. we'll find a solution and we'll move forward. together. i'm not gonna just run away. look, i don't make the choice to commit to anybody casually, and i committed to you a long time ago, even if there weren't any fancy words spelling it out. so don't think i'm gonna give up on us just cuz things get a little uncomfortable, which right now they're not. ok?"

"Okay," you mumble and he lets you go after giving you a tight squeeze. You're a little flushed, a fluttering feeling making your chest feel light as you smile at him. How does he know the perfect things to say?

"anything else bothering you that i can reassure you of?" he asks, grinning.

You bite your lip, settling into the pillows at his side as you glance at the cake next to him. Watching your face, he picks up the plate and fills his fork, holding it out for you. Leaning forward, you let him feed you, giving him a shy smile as you pull away. He follows the path of your tongue as you lick chocolate icing off your lips.

"Um... there is actually one thing," you admit, shaking your head as he offers you another bite. He eats it instead, scraping it off with his teeth. He gives you a curious look. "Usually people talk about like... plans for the future before making these kinds of commitments. Things like... kids?"

Sans blinks. "what about kids?"

You sigh, running a hand through your hair and tugging it out from behind your back. "Like if we want to have any. Or any more in my case." Your eyes flick up to his face, his expression is blank. "If that's even possible."

"it's not. your biology and my magic don't really mix the right way. not for a kid at least," he says, winking. His smile seems a little forced as his attempt at a lewd joke falls flat.

"And are you okay with that? With the fact that I can't give you a child of your own?" Something uncomfortable twists in the pit of your stomach. Maybe this is the thing he didn't think about, the thing that might make him second-guess this decision. Kids are really important to people, and when those hopes don't line up—

"you already did. i have frisk now."

"Oh," you say, startled and smiling. The twisting in your stomach fades and is replaced by a swell of affection in your chest, so full it makes you tear up a little. You give a small laugh, blotting your eyes with the ends of Sans's sleeves, embarrassed. "Sans, that's... Thank you. Really. I never thought that Frisk would ever get a dad as great as you."

He reaches out to take your hand, threading your fingers together and giving you a tender look. "i dunno about great, but i admit i never really thought about kids." Sans gives a weak shrug. "i didn't think i'd have the chance to have a family, other than papyrus."

"Why not?" you ask, searching his face as you squeeze his hand.

His eyes are on your joined hands, watching his thumb trace over your skin. A small furrow forms between his brows before it smooths away, then he looks up at you. "never thought i'd meet anyone who'd wanna put up with my hilarious jokes, i guess," he says, giving you a grin.

There's something he's not telling you hiding behind that smile, but you don't push. Things are too nice right now for you to want to spoil them. Instead you lean in close as Sans fills up his fork with chocolate cake, and let him feed you another bite.


Refreshed from a nice hot shower, you take a moment to survey the marks left on your neck and shoulders last night. You trace the bruises with your fingers, smiling to yourself as you stretch from side to side. He definitely did a number on you, but damn if it wasn't worth every last mark. You feel claimed, wanted and desired. The familiar ache in your thighs has nothing to do with the bruises there from his teeth and fingers.

You blow dry your hair enough that it's not dripping anymore, too impatient to finish all the way. Your hair is so thick it always takes forever. Then, wrapped up in a towel, you head out to the bedroom. It's already noon but Sans is still asleep. He has your pillow locked in a vice grip and he's curled up near the side of the bed where you were before getting up. Despite the absolutely enormous bed the two of you slept right next to each other, starting out cuddled together before you drifted apart to get more comfortable, but still touching.

Passing the bed, you head to your shared suitcase and get dressed. Your normal clothes are less glamorous than your dress from last night, but it's nice to be back to normal. At the very least, it's a lot more comfortable in jeans and sneakers instead of chiffon and heels.

"Sans," you murmur, rocking his shoulder gently. He doesn't budge. "Hun."

Nothing.

You stroke up and down his arm for a moment until he finally blinks his eyes open, looking up at you and squinting. "hrmm?" he grumbles, crushing the pillow tighter to his chest.

"It's noon, I'm gonna go get something to eat. Do you want anything?" you ask, smiling.

"where are you going?" he asks. The lights in his eyes get a little brighter as he wakes up a bit more, but they're still dim and a little blurry at the edges.

"Just downstairs. There was a burger place in the lobby, I think." You reach up to stroke his brow and he closes his eyes again, burrowing back down into the pillows and blankets.

"don't worry about it. i'll get room service later or something. don't forget the room key."

"I got it, hun."

"and take your phone."

"Already in my pocket."

"ok. i love you."

"I love you too. Get some more sleep."

He gives you a sleepy grumble of agreement that has you chuckling as you give him a quick kiss on the crown of his skull. Then, snatching up the room key from the coffee table, you head out of the room by yourself.

The lobby is quiet when you reach it, save for the monster at the check in counter and a few more waiting by the elevator into the city. You pass them in silence, heading into the fast food restaurant emblazoned with a MTT logo and a picture of a burger.

It's empty except for a single employee behind the counter. He's leaning against it with one hand, taking a lazy drag from his cigarette. The sound of the door makes him jump, and the shift from bored to panicky happens in less than a second. The catlike monster's hand slips on the edge of the counter and he almost doesn't keep his balance, stumbling a little as he drops the cigarette to the floor and snubs it out with a foot.

Plastering a smile onto his face, he manages to blurt out, "Welcome to MTT-Brand Burger Emporium, home of the Glamburger. Sparkle up your day."

"Uh, hello," you say, looking up at the menu in an attempt at letting the employee regain his composure. You fight the urge to cringe from second hand embarrassment, wishing you could go out and come back in again and do it all over again. "Sorry about that."

He makes a little squeak in the back of his throat, like he wants to say something but decides against it. You look at him again, standing rigid behind the register, and notice his nametag. 'Burgerpants' huh? That's... different. "How can I help you?"

Studying the menu again, you're a little put off by the picture of a bright purple burger and, oh God, are those sequins? You're fairly certain that edible sequins just don't exist. The sandwich looks normal enough, even if it is shaped like a sword. "I'll have a, uh, legendary hero I guess," you say.

"Coming right up, little buddy," he says turning to a prep station with a look of relief.

Realizing you didn't think to bring any money, you clear your throat to get his attention again. He glances over his shoulder as he grabs what looks like a sword-shaped baguette. "Do you have a way of charging the bill to my room?"

"Sure thing. What the number and the name the reservation is under?" he asks, starting work on the sandwich.

"Uh," you mutter, pulling the key out of your pocket to check the tag. "404. It might be under 'Sans' but Mettaton is the one that made the reservation so I'm not sure."

Burgerpants freezes, his shoulders going rigid before he turns slowly to face you, a look of horror on his face. "Y-you're friends with Mettaton? You're not gonna tell him you caught me slacking off are you?" he asks, his voice a hissing whisper as he glances around like he's looking for someone watching him.

Your eyes widen in surprise, taken aback. "Oh, no! Look, it's okay, calm down. Mettaton just owed us a favor. It's a long story. Please, he's... definitely not someone I'd call a friend," you say, shaking your head and grimacing.

His relief is palpable, his entire body going limp as his face goes slack. Shit is this guy high strung. "Oh good. Look, lemme tell you, you do not want to work for that guy. He's..." Burgerpants starts trembling, shaking his head and turning back to work on your hero. "He's the worst boss I've ever had. I'd quit if I thought I could do anything else. I wanted to be an actor! But now I'm nineteen and I've wasted my whole life and all I have is this horrible job. When I said I wanted to work with Mettaton this isn't what I meant." He turns to look at you, pointing with a leaf of lettuce. "Take it from me, buddy. Be careful what you wish for."

"I'll keep that in mind," you tell him solemnly, wondering how this guy got so jaded at nineteen, just a year younger than you. You think you blame Mettaton.

A moment later he has your sandwich all wrapped up for you and he's punching your reservation information into the computerized register. "You have a good one on my behalf, okay little buddy? Since I'm stuck here." Burgerpants gives a half-hysterical laugh that cuts off abruptly, then his mouth curls into a wide smile.

A little creeped out, you just nod and take your food. "Sure thing. I'll do my best." Then you make a quick exit.

You pause outside the door, taking in a deep breath as you shake your head to yourself. That was... just strange. Pausing to check your phone, you don't have any new messages so you decide to try and find that little courtyard from earlier. You think it'll be nice to eat outside (well, outside by comparison) with the trees and flowers instead of trying not to wake Sans. Besides, he can use the sleep after all the work he did last night. With a self-satisfied smile, you head down the hall you know leads to the courtyard.

The stained glass doors swing open as you approach them, and you're pleasantly surprised to see Bo coming in. She's dressed in her waitress uniform, flicking through a cell phone before glancing up and spotting you. Her face breaks out into a bright smile. "Oh my gosh, imagine bumping into you again! How are you? Where's Sans?" she asks, bouncing a little on her toes.

You can't help but smile back, her giddiness infectious. "He's upstairs, still sleeping. I just wanted to get some lunch," you say, gesturing with your sandwich.

She covers her mouth with a hand, giggling. "Oh I bet he's tired," she says, winking at you. You barely have time to blush before she's gasping and looking at her phone again. "Sorry to gossip and run but I have to get back to work. It was great seeing you again, honey!"

And with that Bo runs off after giving you a rushed and awkward, shoulder-squeezing hug. You watch her turn the corner before heading out into the courtyard, chuckling to yourself. This place sure is filled with some... interesting people.

The courtyard is pretty much the same as it was at night, just brighter. The lampposts are off and crystals far overhead illuminate the Underground with pale light that you can almost mistake for sunlight. With no one else in sight, you take a spot on a nearby bench, right next to a bed of red flowers. You take a moment to just relax into the seat, sighing before you look at the sandwich in your lap.

Your sock feels a little tight around your ankle all of a sudden, so you set the hero down on the bench beside you and lean down to tug on the leg of your jeans. The pressure is uncomfortable. What you don't expect to find is a thin, bright green vine curling right above your shoe.

"Howdy!"

Chapter Text

There's a golden flower smiling up at you.

Startled, you jerk back and leap to your feet with a yelp, trying to yank your foot away. But the vine tightens around you and you realize you're stuck. The flower just gives you a placid look, something like amusement on its face.

"Whoa there, pal! I didn't mean to scare you!" he says in a sweet, childlike voice. He tilts his head. "I'm Flowey. Flowey the Flower!"

You force what you hope is a friendly smile in return, pressing a hand to your chest as you take in a steadying breath. Your heart is pounding beneath your palm. "Hi, Flowey. Um, do you think you can let me go?" You give your leg an experimental tug, but the vine doesn't budge.

There's a tickling feeling on your other ankle and your jerk your leg away, crying out in surprise. A second vine that had been trying to wrap itself around your leg without you noticing twitches on the ground. Then, like a coiled snake, it lashes out and wraps itself around your knee, circling up your thigh to lock you in place. Fear and confusion overwhelms your senses, urging you to try and flee but you're stuck.

"I don't think so," Flowey says. His grin widens into something sinister, the golden petals circling his face rippling and swelling like a bird fluffing its feathers. He seems pleased with himself, and panic prickles down your spine.

You open your mouth to cry out for help but your scream cuts out as another vine snaps around your throat from behind, yanking your head back. The pressure on your neck is painful and you suck in a ragged breath, coughing as you feel the tendril tighten. You try to pry at it with your fingers, and you hear Flowey laugh. The sound is familiar somehow, and you realize, with a hollow drop in the pit of your stomach, that you've heard this laugh before. Right as you woke up in that bed of golden flowers back in the Ruins. But what does that mean? What's going on?

"Why?" you rasp, forcing yourself to breathe past the tightness circling your throat, digging at the vines with blunted nails.

"'Why?'" he echoes back at you, giving you an incredulous look. "Don't give me that innocent act, I'm a master at it. You've been screwing up everything with this timeline, and you know what? It's time to start over."

"W-what?" you say, coughing as tears flood your vision from the horrible pain as you struggle to breathe. Your head is pounding and you're starting to see spots.

"You think you and 'Frisk'," Flowey raises his leaves like he's making quotes in the air, like he's trying to imply something about your child, "can just settle down with those dumb skeletons and act like everything is fine? I'm not done with them. And if I have to kill you to get them to Reset so we can try again, then that's what I'm going to do! I'm not going to let you stand in my way anymore."

You don't know what he's talking about. There's a tugging sensation in your chest and you try to cup your hands around your Soul to hide it but it's no use. It slips right through your fingers and hovers there, cracked and vulnerable between you and Flowey. Your lungs are burning and you let out a desperate, choked sound. "Reset? I don't— please I don't understand! I didn't do anything."

The vines around your throat loosen just enough for you to suck in a deep breath, coughing again as Flowey stares up at you with a blank expression, eyes narrowed. Then as you still try to wriggle your fingers between your throat and the tendrils choking you, your wrists are yanked away and bound fast to your sides. The flower sways a little from side to side, an amused smile on his face.

"Did he really never tell you? Oh wow, that's rich. He gave you all those mushy lines about spending your 'future' together but he hasn't even told you what's really going on? That's..." Flowey laughs, baring pointed teeth. "That's pretty cruel. I'm almost impressed."

Something cold stirs in your chest, writhing beneath your ribs and tensing. "Tell me what?"

"'Frisk' has been messing around with time. Repeating their little adventure down here over and over. Oh, no one else seems to remember but me and that idiot skeleton, but... I would have thought he'd tell you. Especially since he 'cares' about you so much." Flowey twitches the tips of his leaves again, mocking. "They've been doing this for, oh, probably a couple years at this point. It's hard to keep track when you're living the same few days over and over again. And everything happens almost the same way each time, give or take a few deaths. But then you showed up. I'm not even sure why. What did get you to act different this time?" His expression is honestly curious, staring up at you and swaying a little on his stem.

"That doesn't even make sense!" you snap, trying to jerk forward angrily but the vines tense again, making you gasp. "You're lying! Sans wouldn't hide something like that from me!"

"Oh? Are you telling me you don't remember all the times that you didn't even come here? All the times that 'Frisk' must have left you behind? Not even a little? I mean, sometimes the others around here, they seem like they remember stuff. Sometimes." Flowey's grin sends a chill up your spine. "Are you sure you're supposed to be down here in the Underground?"

When you were staying at Toriel's house, you felt like Frisk had left you. That you'd waited for them to come back, and they never did. When you came home from work and found Frisk and your mother, hadn't there been a moment where you remembered reacting differently? Instead of comforting Frisk and leaving, you had made things worse instead? Was that... were those moments real? Did you really do that to Frisk?

You feel sick to your stomach.

Your thoughts must be written all over your face because Flowey starts cackling, his face twisting into a menacing, sick and delighted smile. "You see? You're not even supposed to be here," Flowey says, sneering. "And Sans never even told you. That's rich. But that smiley trashbag would latch onto you, wouldn't he? I mean, he must get bored with the same things over and over again, and then you came along. So is it really you that he cares about or just that you're something new? Well, it doesn't really matter. I guess we'll never find out, now will we?"

You don't even have time for his words to sink in before a pair of thin, thorny vines lash out and wrap themselves around the the two curves of your Soul, slipping between the cracks. Sharp, stabbing heat lances through your chest, wrenching a sob of pain from your throat even as Flowey's grip around it tightens. Your Soul feels like it's being pulled apart, you can barely breathe, and the squeezing on your arms and legs is almost too much to bear.

"Don't worry. You won't stay dead for long, I'm sure. The second that kid finds out you're dead they'll Reset. Or, you know what, maybe they won't! Who knows? You're a variable I haven't encountered before, but either way, you're an obstacle that I'm going to remove." Flowey is laughing again, and a ring of white seeds or pellets circle your Soul.

"Y o u." A dark, low and dangerous voice fills the air in the courtyard, and you're not sure if you should be relieved or more frightened. But it's hard to feel anything as dark spots start to swim in your vision.

Flowey's laugh halts suddenly, his eyes going wide. "Not now!" he cries, but then all at once the vines holding you up are gone, and Flowey is vanishing into the soil beneath him. A split second too late, a trio of sharp-edged bones plunge into the ground in front of you as you collapse to your knees.

Hunching forward, you cough and suck in air as you press a hand to your throat, aching even though the pressure is finally gone. You gag and fight back the urge to vomit, forcing yourself to breathe in steady and slow even as you start trembling. You almost died. You had almost lost consciousness and it felt like your Soul was about to be ripped in two. Your encounters with Undyne and Mettaton pale in comparison to this. Everything hurts.

Your other hand flies to your chest as your Soul slips back inside, filling you up but you feel wounded. Vulnerable and weak. Curling over yourself, you grab a fistful of your shirt, squeezing your eyes shut and rocking back and forth.

"babe." Sans's voice is at your ear and you feel his hands on your shoulders trying to pull you to him. "you're okay, i've got you."

You let out a sob, curling in on yourself further as Sans tucks his head next to yours. No, don't... You have to fight the urge to pull away, torn up inside by the possibility that he's been hiding all this from you, ever since you met.

"you're safe. i'm here," he murmurs. "come on i'll take us back to our room."

There's a familiar lurch in your stomach as he slips you both through reality. Left, forgotten on the bench, is your sandwich.


"if i had thought there was anyone here who might wanna hurt you, i never would've let you go by yourself," Sans says, helping you sit back against a mound of pillows on the bed. He's dressed in his normal clothes, but the sight of that familiar blue jacket isn't any comfort. It's like some kind of spell has been broken. The romance of your weekend alone feels far away.

"How did you find me?" you ask him, because you can't bring yourself to ask him what's really bothering you. Not yet. It hurts too much. Everything hurts so much. Tears well up in your eyes again as he looks at you, and you see the guilt etched into the lines of his face. Part of you doesn't care, and that scares you.

"i ran into bo. i came downstairs to find you cuz i thought you were gonna come right back. she said she saw you." Sans shakes his head, gritting his teeth and running his hand down your arm with a tenderness that just makes you want to weep. "it was lucky. if i ever see that fucking flower again i'm gonna tear his petals off and rip him to shreds."

You swallow and it aches, making you whimper despite yourself. It wipes the angry look off of Sans's face and replaces it with something frightened and anxious as the tiny lights in his eyes drop to your neck. "I don't understand," you choke out, pressing a hand to your chest. You're still shaking. "Nothing makes any sense."

"what doesn't make sense?" he asks, voice quiet.

"Everything he said. I can't..." you shake your head, then try to blink your tears from your eyes. "Do you know him?"

Sans looks away, his eyes darkening. You reach to take hold of his hand, squeezing hard to keep his attention. "sort of," he admits. "i've seen him before, a long time ago." He trails off, looking down at your hand.

You wait for him to speak, anger building inside your chest. "Talk to me!" you finally snap, making Sans jump and his eyes dart up to yours. "Stop being so damn vague all the time and just tell me what's really going on, Sans!" You're crying in earnest now, frustration and betrayal cutting deep. "What did Flowey mean by 'Resets'? What did he mean that Frisk has been doing something to time, and that you remember it all when almost nobody else can?"

He stares at you in disbelief, and his expression alone is enough to confirm his guilt. "babe..."

"Please tell me he was lying," you beg him. Your grip on his hand is so tight it's just hurting yourself. "Tell me that you haven't been lying to me this whole time, Sans. Tell me that I didn't really push Frisk away into coming to the Underground without me over and over again."

"i never lied to you," he says softly, hanging his head. "...and i can't start now."

"No," you breathe, covering your mouth with your other hand. "This is too... God dammit." You look away from him as your shoulders start to shake, refusing to release your hold on him. "But you hid this from me. You hid everything. You and Frisk both have. Is that what you talk about when I'm not around? How to keep all this some big secret from me?"

"the kid doesn't remember. every time, it's like the first time all over again," he says, his voice weary and resigned. You think that, maybe, now he'll finally be honest. At least he's not trying to fight you.

"So it's just you, then. You've been keeping this secret. Why didn't you tell me?" You turn to look at him again, anger bubbling back to the surface.

"i hoped you'd never have to know. that there wouldn't be any more resets now that you were here." Sans strokes the back of your hand with his thumb, but he's trembling. "this is the longest one of these timelines has lasted," he mumbles.

"And I've never been down here before? Ever? Frisk's been alone?" you swallow past a lump in your throat, trying to ignore the pain.

"it's always just been frisk. until this time," he says, nodding weakly.

"I want to go home."

His eyes widen, darting back to your neck and up to your face again. "babe you're injured, and not just your body. you need to eat something, get some rest. we've got another night here and i promise i'll keep you safe. just—"

"Sans I want to go home to my child!" you snap, yanking your hand free from his and balling it into a fist.

Stunned, Sans just looks at you for a moment like you slapped him across the face. Then, crumpling with what you can only describe as guilt, he nods his head. "whatever you want, babe."

Chapter Text

Papyrus and Frisk are both expecting you when you get home. Sans called ahead to let them know, and they're both waiting in the living room when you go inside. The taller skeleton gasps at the sight of you, no doubt you look like hell and you can only imagine what your neck must look like. You hadn't bothered looking in a mirror. He moves to wrap you up in a hug but Sans cuts him off and for that you're grateful. Everything hurts and a pair of hard, bony arms is the last thing you want pressing into your myriad of bruises.

"HUMAN, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?" Papyrus says, eye sockets wide.

"Mom, are you okay?" Frisk asks in a small voice, carefully slipping their hand into yours and giving a weak squeeze you can barely feel.

"I'll be okay, sweetie," you say, your voice a little hushed because your throat is still aching.

You look down at them and give them what you hope is a reassuring smile, but all that's spinning through your head is 'time travel'. Something that sounds like the plot of a movie or book, caught in a loop repeating over and over —and according to Flowey and Sans— because of Frisk. Your child, at the center of it all. You don't understand. You're not sure you can.

"pap, i need you to go to hotland, get some more of that medicine that alphys made for frisk. it's got healing magic in it so it'll help with her injuries," Sans says, and God his deflecting just makes you want to scream. But you let him have this with Papyrus. He had to beg you while you were still in the hotel not to tell his brother, and he was so desperate you just relented.

"I..." Papyrus looks uncertain, his eyes darting from you to Sans and then back again. Then, he nods. "I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, CAN DO THAT! HUMAN, SOON YOU'LL BE FEELING MUCH BETTER, I PROMISE!"

"Thanks Papyrus," you say, giving him a watery smile as he reaches out to carefully pat you on the shoulder. Then he rushes out the door, in true Papyrus fashion. At least you can count on him to be nearly transparent.

As soon as the door closes Sans has his phone out of his pocket, heading for the kitchen. You watch him from the entryway as he pulls open the fridge, digging through the contents. Oh, right, he wants you to eat. Your stomach twists, hungry to the point of discomfort but you're so anxious and upset that you feel nauseated. But, you know you should eat something. It'll make the throbbing ache in your chest —your Soul— go away.

"undyne— no the date was good, listen— undyne please!" Sans snaps, and you feel Frisk's hand tighten on yours. You're not used to hearing him raise his voice either. "we're home, i can't go into details right now but i need you to stall papyrus. i just sent him to alphys to get more of that medicine she used on frisk. no, frisk is fine... i just said i can't go into details right now, just please do this for me, okay? i need him out of the house for a little while... ok. ok thanks. if anyone can keep him busy it's you. yeah. everyone's ok. i will. ok."

He hangs up his phone and pulls out a plastic container of spaghetti, shoving it into the microwave. You and Frisk make your way into the kitchen. Frisk pulls a chair right up beside yours and the two of you sit down. You can tell that they want to be sitting in your lap but they're afraid to hurt you. You wrap your arm around their shoulders and pull them close, ignoring the dull ache throughout your body.

"What happened?" Frisk asks, looking between the two of you with wide, worried eyes.

"flowey," Sans says, resting his hands on the counter and hunching forward, his back to the two of you.

You feel Frisk go rigid against you. "...What?"

"babe, are you sure you wanna do this with frisk here?" he asks you, glancing over his shoulder.

"This involves both of us. Frisk needs to know what's going on," you say, pulling them closer.

The microwave beeps and he pulls the container out, getting a fork and giving the spaghetti a stir before sliding it across the table to you. You look up at him, studying his closed-off expression and you're torn between calling it all off or crying. But you can't do either. All you can do is wait. You look down at your food, stomach growling despite yourself so you decide to just eat.

"ok then," Sans sighs, running a hand over his skull. He looks at the chair across from you but then seems to decide to stay standing, shoving his hands in his pockets. "you know flowey, don't you frisk? you've met him before?"

"...When we first landed in the Underground. He tried to hurt me," Frisk says.

"Baby why didn't you tell me?" you ask, trying to keep the accusation out of your voice. But everything is so raw inside of you, it's difficult.

"I didn't want you to worry," Frisk mumbles, tucking their face into your side. You don't say anything, just going back to eating.

"frisk, you've been down here before. probably hundreds of times by now. you fall, by yourself, make your way through the underground, and usually you leave. but for some reason, at the end, or even sometimes in the middle, you reset. you start time back over from right before you fall. i've tried asking you before but you never remember. i'm sure you don't remember any of these things, even now." Sans's eyes flick between the two of you, but mostly linger on Frisk.

Frisk doesn't say anything.

"you've met all of us before. you've made friends with me and papyrus, alphys and undyne. hell, you've been there to see undyne's house burn down god knows how many times. you've gone on that silly date with papyrus..." He looks at you and he trails off, the weak, reminiscent smile slipping away as quickly as it came. "it's how i knew mettaton was gonna try to hurt you guys, babe. he's tried to take frisk's soul before. so has undyne. so will asgore. frisk, do you remember anything? anything at all?"

You expect Frisk to say no. Maybe there's still a chance that this outrageous scenario isn't true. But Frisk bites their lip, pressing the knuckles of their hand to their mouth. "...Sometimes," they say, in a small voice. "Sometimes I know things are gonna turn out okay. Or it feels like something is supposed to happen, but then it doesn't." They wince a little, turning their head as though something loud startled them but there's nothing there.

Sans nods, like he's expecting this. You're reeling, but you force yourself to keep eating. At the very least, some of the hollow feeling in your stomach and Soul is starting to fade. "but this time is different. because your mom is here with you."

Frisk nods. "I... think so."

Sans's expression turns pained, looking down at the ground before back up to meet your eyes. There's something desperate there. "i didn't tell you because i thought that this would all finally be over. that because you're here frisk wouldn't have a reason to reset anymore. how was i supposed to explain that time was resetting over and over again and that i don't understand why frisk is doing it? frisk doesn't even remember, why would you believe me?"

"You could have tried. Sans, I... I trust you," you murmur, but even with Frisk agreeing that they've noticed things, it's still hard for you to believe. Monsters and magic are one thing but time travel? You shake your head. "I don't know. I don't know what to believe anymore."

"believe that i thought i was doing the right thing," he begs, taking a step closer to the table. "i didn't— i don't want to hurt you. how could knowing this do anything but hurt you? i live with the fear of everything resetting every day and it kills me. that's the reason being with you scares the shit outta me, babe. because when i say that i'm afraid i'm gonna lose you and i won't have a way to stop it, it's because i know it might happen. i could lose you and you'd..." He chokes up for a moment, shaking his head and taking in a steadying breath. "you'd never even remember me."

The weight of the realization is heavy in your chest. This is why. This is why he needs you there when he wakes up in the morning. Why he keeps looking through all those photos of you on his phone. Why he clings so tightly sometimes and why he was so scared when you found him crying in the kitchen months ago. And you told him that you weren't going anywhere... how hollow your reassurances must have sounded to him. You don't notice how quiet Frisk is, how still they are. You're caught between wanting to get up and comfort Sans and the lingering sting of his deception.

"Were you ever going to tell me the truth?" you ask, even though you're sure you know the answer. And it hurts.

Sans hangs his head, pressing a hand to his forehead and turning away, just a little. "no. if nothing ever changed... no. i would have just left it all alone. hoped for the best."

"You were just going to keep hiding behind these half-truths? Forever? When I asked you about your nightmares, you'd just keep this up?" Your chest feels tight, anger and bitterness writhing behind your ribs, making you feel sick. You push the half-eaten spaghetti away, sated enough for now.

Sans nods and you bite the inside of your lip as your eyes swim with tears.

Flowey's words come unbidden to the back of your mind. They spill out before you can even think. "Do you even love me? Or is it just because I'm the one unique thing that's happened after all this time?"

His head jerks up and his eyes widen, startled. "i love you. you know i love you. you felt it in my soul, you have to know that."

You do. You remember. You remember all of that love and happiness, and how underneath there was that pain and fear and sadness that he wouldn't let you see or feel. Biting your lip, you nod. You can't deny that. But it makes this hurt so much more.

"How do you know? How do you remember when no one else does?" you ask. Frisk's head lifts up.

Sans's expression darkens and his hands go back into his pockets. He glances away and back to you. But his vision is distant, like he's looking through you. "there was an accident. at the lab. we were running an experiment, studying timelines—"

"The lab?" you blurt out, your free hand balling into a fist. "You used to work at the lab? Alphys's lab?"

Sans nods. "yeah, we... we worked together a few years ago. um, real years not, repeated years. if that makes sense."

"So when you said you only knew her from your station in Hotland, you lied." With a frustrated sigh you shake your head. How much do you really know about Sans? How much is he hiding from you? "Fine. Whatever. There was an accident."

He hesitates, then continues. "we lost a lot of people that day. including someone... close to me. i don't..." He shakes his head, gritting his teeth. "i was the only one that survived."

"What happened?" you press.

Sans shakes his head again, frowning. "an accident. something i think i could have prevented but i don't..."

"And this accident lets you remember, what, the different timelines?"

He nods, but the furrow in his brow is still there. "i just wake up here at home, no matter what was happening before. and i remember," he says in a clipped tone.

"But how did you survive the accident? What happened to you?"

"i just woke up."

"Don't keep hiding things now. Why can't you just tell me the truth, Sans?" you snap, making Frisk flinch.

"because i can't remember!" he snaps back, startling you.

Your surprise quickly twists into more anger, snowballing the tension in the air. "You can remember all these repeated timelines but you can't remember the one thing that makes it all possible?" you ask, sharper than you intend.

"i barely remember anything from before the accident," he retorts, echoing your frustration back at you. "i don't remember who it was that i lost at the lab but i feel like i should! i barely remember my own mother and i can't remember my father at all! you want to know why i never tell you about my childhood? it's because it's a patchwork quilt with half the patches ripped out. i can remember things with papyrus because he's still here. but other things? i lost them." You can only stare, taken aback as he shakes his head and gives you a humorless smile. "you know what's funny? i used to wear a tie for work at the lab. every damn day. and then i try to get dressed up for our date and i'm just standing there, holding it in my hands, staring. and i know i should know how to do it. but my hands just, won't work right."

What can you even say to all that? You just shake your head, guilt settling inside you. There's too much to wrap your mind around, too much to try and absorb. Your anger is dulled but the pain isn't. You feel like you barely know Sans. You know his heart and how he feels for you, but... you barely knew anything about him and now it's all laid bare at your feet and you don't know what to do with it. Silence fills the room.

You told him everything. You've always trusted him with all of the awful things that happened with your mother, the reasons you're the person you are. But Sans didn't do that with you. You opened up while he stayed locked up tight, giving you just enough scraps to keep you from looking for more. 

"Mom," Frisk murmurs, pulling away from your side to look up at you. "Are you okay?"

You shake your head again, wiping your eyes and face with both hands as you pull in a shaky breath. "I should be asking you that question, sweetie. How are you doing? This must be a lot for you to understand."

They shrug, looking away. You find yourself envying their childish acceptance. "I dunno. I mean, I don't know how I did those things before." Frisk looks over at Sans, their mouth set into a stern line. Something about their expression is so much older than them, and it's a little startling. "But I'm not gonna do it again. I promise."

Sans nods, all of his frustration seeping out of him and leaving him looking wrung out. "i appreciate it, kiddo."

You push up from the table, Frisk and Sans both turning to look at you. "I'm going to take a shower," you say, because right now you just need to get away from this. You need to think. You're feeling too much and you need to sort your way through it, and you don't know how long it's going to take. 

"babe, can you talk to me, please?" he asks, and the pain in his voice makes your heart ache.

"Sans for right now, just... please leave me alone."

Chapter Text

Things had been perfect, just for a little while. Yes, maybe what had ended up being a proposal had been a little rushed in hindsight, but Sans was just being honest. He loves you, and wants to spend his future with you and Frisk.

Now he's not so sure that's going to happen. And he can't even entirely blame Flowey.

Flowey.

Seeing those vines wrapped around you —around your Soul— had awakened something furious and frightening inside of him. It also reminded him of something he had forgotten. He has stacks of notebooks tucked away inside the remnants of an old machine, hidden in the back of the house. They're full of notes about the Resets and the timelines, things he was trying to keep track of until he finally just... gave up. But there's two stacks that he doesn't remember writing. Back then, before Frisk, he didn't know who had been manipulating time. He'd had suspicions, and there were mentions of a golden flower. In the last one, in the final entries before he somehow forgot, it seemed like he'd been onto something. Getting closer to figuring out just what was going on.

And then it all ended. He didn't even realize he'd forgotten until the Resets started again and he'd come up with the same idea to start keeping notes in the only physical place free from these manipulations in time. That's when he found out it had happened before, just without the kid. But that flower was nowhere to be seen, so he assumed that maybe it had vanished.

He suspected that the flower was behind the Resets, or that he was involved somehow. Now Sans knows for certain. Flowey is the thing that started all of this, the threat he'd nearly forgotten existed. That's a mistake he won't be making again. Whatever the flower wants, he'd decided to make you a target, and Sans isn't gonna let him get away with it.

Even if... God it kills him to even think it, but even if you decide you can't forgive him for his lies, he'll keep you and Frisk safe as best he can. He loves you, both of you, too much to just leave you at the mercy of the Underground. For Flowey or Asgore or any other number of things to find you.

He always expected to lose you, but he never thought it would be his fault.

"Dad?"

Sans realizes that he's staring at the entryway, stuck there in the middle of the kitchen unable to look away from the last place he saw you. Frisk is tugging at the side of his jacket, looking up at him with wide brown eyes. He looks down at them, searching the kid's face and finding more sympathy than he expects.

"yeah, kiddo?" he asks, giving a weak shrug. He feels exhausted all of a sudden, even though he just woke up a couple hours ago. He just wants to go to sleep. Maybe it would get rid of this horrible, hollow feeling in his Soul.

"How long have I been doing this? Resetting time?" Frisk's brow furrows, giving them a serious expression that Sans thinks doesn't suit them. They look better when they're smiling.

"a couple years, i think. two, maybe three. i sorta stopped keeping track after a while." Sans sighs, shaking his head.

"So... does that mean that I'm actually eight?" That frown of concentration is still on their face and despite everything Sans can't help but laugh.

"heh. nah it doesn't work quite like that. maybe you're a little older up here," he says, tapping the side of his skull, "but you're still a little kid down here." Sans reaches out to poke Frisk square in the chest, making the serious look melt off the kid's face.

Frisk lets out a weak laugh, but after a moment they sober again. "Are you and mom gonna be okay?"

He's wondering the same thing. "i hope so. but i dunno. she's... really mad at me and i can't say that i blame her all that much."

"But you love each other," they protest, yanking on Sans's jacket.

He nods. "yeah. but it's not always that simple."

Frisk falls silent, mulling this over. "...I'm sorry I can't remember. If I could, then maybe I could help make Mom understand."

"it wouldn't have made me lying to her any better. don't worry about it too much, it's not your fault," Sans says, resting his hand on top of their head.

Pushing Sans's arm out of the way, Frisk reaches up with both hands, the universal signal for a hug. Something inside of him, the thing keeping him from falling apart, starts to fracture. He wraps Frisk up in a tight embrace, kneeling as they throw their arms around his neck. Part of him wants to hold onto that numb feeling, the way he distanced himself from the pain. But he can't, it's slipping through his fingers just like he feels you pulling away from him and it kills him. Frisk squeezes him so tight, as hard as the kid's little arms can manage and Sans starts shaking, willing himself not to cry in front of them.

"I'm gonna help. I promise I'm gonna help and make things better, Dad," Frisk says, and it's just enough to push Sans over the edge.

Hugging Frisk close to his chest, Sans squeezes his eyes shut as tears threaten to spill down his cheekbones. "i'm just scared i'm gonna lose her. to this, or a reset..."

"I'll never Reset again. I'll make sure."


You wish you didn't know the truth. It would be so much easier to go back to how things were before, when you were happy and things were almost perfect. You feel adrift, tossed into open waters with nothing to hold onto. Let Sans have his lies if only it meant the two of you could be happy again...

But that wouldn't be right, would it? It wouldn't be fair to you, or to him. The thought of him reliving the same few days over and over again tears you apart, the realization of just how scared he must be sits like an iron weight in your stomach. He's been through so much, and you don't want to make that worse. You love him, so much that it hurts sometimes. It certainly hurts right now.

You just need... something. Time. Space to think. You have it right now, here in the shower but you can't stay in here forever. Hot water runs down your back, soothing some of the aches from your muscles but your throat still burns. It hurts to swallow and you're sore all over.

Sans isn't the person you thought he was. In retrospect it all makes sense; the half-truths, the deflecting, the reasons he avoided talking about his past. You should have urged more, tried to get him to talk to you instead of being afraid of pushing him away. Maybe if you had been more insistent, he would have opened up to you on his own instead of thrown in your face by a damn flower. Instead of the lazy sentry with a hot dog business on the side you thought you knew, you're left with an ex-scientist, traumatized by an accident he doesn't remember and haunted by the memories of repeated timelines.

How had it not driven him crazy?

That quantum physics book in the living room and the odd scraps of paper with what you think are formulas balled up in his pockets suddenly make a lot more sense. God, too many things just make a lot more sense. You try to tell yourself that this is still the same Sans that you love, just more. All of these extra pieces have been fitted into empty spaces you hadn't even noticed, and in a way you understand his behavior so much better.

Besides, would you really have believed him if he had told you the truth? If he came to you and told you that your six year-old could manipulate time itself, would you really have listened? You'd like to think you would have but...

And what about Frisk? Had something happened to them down here for them to get this power? Had they always had it and you just never knew? They said that they don't remember, not really, but did some part of them remember all the times —oh God, hundreds of times— that you drove them away? You cover your face with your hands and let out a choked sob, imagining Frisk coming down here into the Underground alone. Had Sans taken care of them? He'd seemed familiar with Frisk even at the start, but you had assumed that was just his friendly nature. But in reality, he knew. No wonder he'd asked you if things had been rough for Frisk at home, back when you told him about your mother. He'd wanted to know why they were here.

And how do you fit into all this? It had been the memory of the previous timelines that had triggered your change in behavior, you know that now. Some kind of fortunate deja vu. Flowey said you were ruining everything, how, by making it so that Frisk had no reason to Reset? Because they were happy? 

You realize that you've somehow accepted everything that Sans told you about the timelines. A part of you still trusts him, though you can't help but wonder what else he might possibly be hiding from you. So far it seems like it just has to do with these Resets and manipulations of time, but is that where he draws the line? He said he's never outright lied to you and you desperately want to believe that.

The water is starting to run cold and you're not sure how long you've been in here. You shut it off and step out of the shower, not even bothering to grab your towel as you stand in front of the mirror. You need to finally do this. To let yourself look. Rubbing at the fogged up glass, you push dripping hair out of your face to survey your bruises. Layered over the marks left on your neck by Sans's teeth are distinct, angry, purpling lines circling your throat. There's more of them around your forearms, even your legs where Flowey held you rooted to the ground. Had it been less than twelve hours since you had looked at your bruises from Sans with such fondness? The flower had taken them and turned them ugly, twisted them into something cruel. You hate him for it.

When you finally get out of the bathroom Papyrus is back. Sans is the one to take care of injecting you with the blend of medicine and healing magic. He's careful as he touches you, his eyes searching your face for some hint of your thoughts but you can't think of anything to say to him. Realizing that his familiarity with needles must have come from his time working the lab —something else he hid from you— sours whatever affection you were feeling for the tender way he's treating you.

But he's trying. And much to your frustration so is Frisk. They keep trying to force you together and eventually, after dinner they loudly suggest to Papyrus that they should go upstairs to play. But you're just not ready yet. You don't know what to say. The most you can do is sit beside him on the couch and when he rests his hand timidly on your leg you don't pull away. You cover it with your own and Sans makes a small sound like he's letting out a sigh, a little bit of tension leaving his shoulders. It's not much, but... it's something.

After a few hours the medicine seems to have done its job. Most of the pain is gone and as you get ready for bed and check yourself in the bathroom the bruises are almost completely faded. You'd be more impressed if you weren't so exhausted. You make a mental note to tell Alphys the next time you talk to her.

Frisk and Papyrus are still awake when you stop to knock on the doorframe. But right as you raise your knuckles to tap on the wood you catch yourself. Sans is sitting beside the bed with a book in his hands, feet propped up on the mattress as Frisk and Papyrus lay there with the comforter up to their chins. Some nights he reads them both a bedtime story, and apparently this is one of those nights. You linger there in the door, leaning against it as you watch them. So far none of them have noticed you. Sans is focused on the book and the other two are too focused on Sans and the story.

For a moment you can almost forget everything that happened. This is just a normal night, the sound of Sans reading aloud is familiar and comforting. Any other time you would go to sit on the edge of the bed and stroke Frisk's hair while you and Sans stole glances at each other, patiently waiting for your chance to retreat to your bedroom. It's while you're caught up in this thought that he looks up from his book to see you standing in the doorway and gives you a small, timid smile. Your mouth gives a small twitch in response but soon you're looking away.

Frisk notices your exchange, turning towards the door. "Mom you should come and listen to the story too."

You shake your head. "Actually I wanted to ask you to come sleep with me tonight, sweetie. I'd really appreciate it."

Don't look at Sans, you tell yourself.

"With you and Da—" Frisk's eyes flicker over to Sans, for just a fraction of a second. Your heart gives an uncomfortable lurch. "—Sans?"

"No, downstairs on the couch. I could really use some company," you say, ignoring the two sets of eye sockets you feel staring at you.

Frisk hesitates, looking like they want to refuse. Chewing on their lip, they watch you for a moment before nodding. "Yeah, okay Mom."

"I'll be downstairs whenever your story is done," you say, and then careful not to look at Sans or Papyrus, you walk away.


You wake up in the middle of the night, alone on the couch. Your hand gropes for the small body you know is supposed to be with you but you only feel the couch cushions. Maybe they went back upstairs to sleep with Papyrus, or went to the bathroom. As you start to sit up to look blearily around you, your hand crinkles against a sheet of paper. It's too dark to read so, with a sudden thrill of dread, you grope blindly for your phone and turn it on so you can use it as a flashlight.

Mom,

I'm going to make sure that I can't ever Reset again. I don't know what made me do it before, but I'm scared I might do it without meaning to. So I'm going to see King Asgore

No. No no no.

so that he can use my Soul to open the Barrier. Then you and Dad and the other monsters can go to the surface and Dad won't have to be scared any more. Please don't be sad.

I love you,

Frisk

Your shoes aren't laced and you're still tugging on your jacket as you run out the front door.

Chapter Text

How could Frisk decide to do this? How could they possibly think that this was the right thing to do?

You're running through Snowdin in the middle of the night, past Grillby's dark windows and the silence of a sleeping town. All you can hear is the crunch of snow beneath your sneakers and the pounding of your heart in your ears. Adrenaline sings through your veins, lending you speed fueled by fear as you take the familiar path to the small dock where you hope the Riverperson is waiting.

To your relief the little boat is there, along with the cloaked and hooded figure that turns their head at your approach. You skid to a halt, almost slipping in the snow near the riverbank. That black hood just watches you, curious as you throw your leg over to climb inside.

"Did you take Frisk anywhere?" you ask, trying to catch your breath after your sprint through Snowdin. A little voice in the back of your mind tells you that you ought to be in better shape.

"Hotland," the Riverperson answers, tilting their head to the side. "Is that where you wish to go?"

"Yes, yes!" you say, lowering yourself to sit down. You don't even try to hide the frustration in your voice. "Why didn't you stop them! They shouldn't be going anywhere alone in the middle of the night!" 

"It's not my place to question," they answer placidly. Then as they turn away from you, the boat seems to rise up out of the water. "But if you are in a hurry, I can do my best to accommodate you."

You let out a yelp as the boat darts forward, almost knocking you off your seat as you grab at the wooden board to steady yourself. Cold wind tears through your hair and, once you're sure you're not going to go tumbling, you wrap your arms around yourself and hunch forward to try and stay warm. Looking up at the Riverperson's back, you clear your throat. "How long ago did you take them to Hotland?" you ask, trying not to sound too demanding. You don't do a very good job of it.

"About twenty minutes ago, I'd say."

Shit. "Do you know the quickest way to get to the King from Hotland?" You're starting to tremble, from the cold or adrenaline (or both) you're not sure. You bounce your heel, then realize you still haven't tied your shoes. You lean over to do so.

"There's an elevator by the Royal Scientist's lab, oh wait you know Doctor Alphys don't you? Anyway, you take that elevator up to the MTT Resort—" You resist the urge to tell them you know this part. "—and then if you pass through and head to the Core, there's another elevator that leads right to the castle! It's very convenient, I was just telling Frisk about it. You see the King just loves visitors..."

Twenty minutes behind, how are you going to catch up to them in time? Reaching into your pocket you pull out your phone and flick it on. Opening your address book, you call the first person on your list that might pick up. Alphys's phone rings a few times but then goes to voicemail. Gritting your teeth you hang up and try Undyne, wondering if she might be at the lab with her. You get the same result.

Your hands are shaking and your chest is tight, adrenaline making the muscles in your legs spasm. You need to be moving, to be doing something. You flick through your phone again, desperate. As you scroll up from Undyne's name you come across a number that you haven't looked at in months, though you think Frisk has tried calling her a few times and left her messages.

Toriel.

You dial the number and raise your phone to your ear, cupping your hand over the mic to protect it from the wind. It rings, and rings, until finally, it goes to voicemail. You listen to Toriel's polite message until it clicks over to let you record. You don't know what you're doing. You're scared and panicked and... "Toriel," you say, your voice thick as you squeeze your eyes shut to fight back tears. "Toriel, I... God I could really use a mother right now. Frisk ran away, they're headed for Asgore. They mean to give him their Soul to break the Barrier and... I'm terrified. I'm trying to follow them now but I'm afraid I'm not gonna make it in time."

You swallow past the lump in your throat, hunching forward over your knees as your shoulders start to shake. "He's who you were trying to protect us from, isn't he? We never should have left..." A small sob escapes you, and you take in a shuddering breath as you press the sleeve of your jacket across your eyes. "I should have asked Sans for help. I shouldn't have left by myself. I'm... I'm gonna call him."

Hanging up, you pull your phone away from your ear and lift your head, fumbling a little as you page over for the shortcut you have for Sans on your home screen. It's got a tiny thumbnail picture of him, making this silly winking grin at you. He took the picture himself, ages ago, just for you to use on your phone. He'd made you do something similar for him, too. Just thinking about it makes your heart ache. As you press the icon with your thumb your screen goes dark, trying to bring up the call display. It hangs there for a second, and then you hear a loud beep you recognize as the battery warning. Your phone goes dark.

"No!" you snap at it, pressing the power button. A red image of an empty battery flickers to life for a few seconds before vanishing. It's dead.

You fight the urge to fling the thing into the river, instead shoving it back into your pocket. 

("You're not old enough to care for Frisk properly anyway. It's for the best, if they think I'm their mother. You're just not cut out for this.") She was right. You're just not good enough. If you were good enough then Frisk wouldn't be out there about to sacrifice themselves like this. They'd trust you to make things right, to take care of them. Instead they'd left you behind, just like they had in all those other aborted timelines. Maybe it's fate. Maybe Frisk is always meant to leave you.

No. You're not going to let that happen. You're going to find them and bring them home before they have the chance. This time you're going to keep them safe, no matter what.

You're determined.


Sans's eye flares bright as he jolts awake and something in the room drops to the floor with a muffled bang. He thinks it might have been the lamp (he's broken it in his sleep more times than he can count, through the timelines). But he hasn't had a nightmare bad enough to cause a flareup like that since... since you started sleeping in the same bed with him. With a shaky breath Sans gropes blindly at your side of the bed, reaching for you.

"babe, are you okay?" he mumbles, afraid that he must have scared you. There's a moment where he wonders how you're not already awake, and then his hand finds the empty space beside him.

Jerking upright, his bones hum with fear until his fingers close around something familiar. One of your shirts. Then he remembers. He brought one of your shirts to bed with him just in case of this exact situation; the disorienting feeling of waking up alone. Sans draws in a steadying breath, balling up the shirt in his fist as he hunches forward and rests his head in his free hand. Shit.

He's so used to you being here with him, helping him settle back down from the bad nightmares. Even after the ones that didn't wake you, he took solace in you just sleeping beside him. Jittery and anxious, he pushes himself out of bed, suddenly desperate to at least look at you just to know you're still here.

Only, when he looks down into the living room, you're not.

The couch is empty.

Did you leave? Had you finally had enough? He thought that things would be okay. You'd held his hand and, even though they were weak, you'd returned a few of his smiles. You still hadn't talked to him but he didn't want to force you into a conversation you weren't ready for. But this? He hadn't expected this.

You're gone. He's lost you.

He should have fought harder. Gritting his teeth, Sans goes back into his room to grab his phone and his jacket. Maybe you were just down at the inn. You couldn't have gone far in the middle of the night. He tries to call you but it goes right to voicemail. The phone gets shoved in his pocket as he hurries down the stairs.

As he crosses the living room, he hears the crinkle of paper under his foot. The sound makes him stop and, slowly, he bends over to scoop up the note.

That's when Sans realizes what Frisk meant when they said they'd make sure things never Reset. And now he knows where you must have gone. He doesn't bother with the front door, and starts on the first of many teleports to get him across the Underground.


Frisk.

Asgore's house is almost an exact replica of Toriel's. Frisk finds the first key to the basement in the kitchen, beside a note written in tidy block letters. The second is down the hall, on a table between two of the bedroom doors. They ignore it for now, going into the first bedroom.

Frisk please, listen to me.

There's two twin beds, children's drawings on the walls, and a bin of old, dusty toys. Frisk feels Chara flinch in the back of their mind, but they're still anxiously flitting around just beneath the surface, watching. They cross the room, looking down at the faded bedspread, the stale smell of disuse filling their nose. There's a scuffed, golden heart-shaped locket sitting in front of the pillow. Frisk reaches out to pick it up, running the thick chain through their fingers.

Leave that alone and listen to me!

They slip the necklace over their head and then tuck it under their sweater. The metal is cold against their skin. With a sudden feeling of deja vu, Frisk reaches carefully under the pillow and isn't surprised to feel the handle of a knife under their fingers. Pulling it out, they glance over the dull and scratched blade, but decide to leave it behind.

You don't have to do this. What about the people who care about you? Are you really okay with disappointing them like this?

Frisk hesitates as they pick up the second key from the hall, weighing the heavy metal in their hand.

I thought you said that no one really cared about me? That I can't trust anybody?

That's not... Getting yourself killed isn't the answer, you idiot!

It's the only way to break the Barrier. Asgore needs one more Soul and he can have mine. That way I can't ever Reset again either.

The basement, too, is almost identical to Toriel's. It doesn't take them long to make their way through. Soon, they find themselves in a beautiful golden hallway, lit by ornate stained glass windows. Huge pillars flank either side, rising up far overhead to an arched ceiling. Hesitating at the entrance, Frisk takes a moment to let another swell of deja vu pass before continuing to the other end. At the halfway point their skin prickles with goosebumps, but they make it through unimpeded.

If you keep doing this no one is going to come help you! Nobody will come!

Frisk is close now. They're certain of it. They're deep within the castle now, and through a massive door they spot a grassy room filled with dappled light and golden flowers. Standing in the center with his back to them, is Asgore. Curving horns sweep back over his head, adding at least an extra foot to his already towering presence. For a moment, Frisk feels a little waver of doubt.

Frisk please! He doesn't want to hurt you, but he will if you let him! Just go back home!

No. They're determined to see this through. Frisk steps into the throne room, feet shifting from stone to grass with a soft rustling sound. Asgore perks up, raising his head and straightening to even greater heights.

"Oh? Is someone there? Just a moment, I have almost finished watering these flowers. Even though it is late, I find it relaxing," he says in a low, soothing voice. He brings his arm through an arcing path and Frisk can hear the sound of water hitting petals and leaves. Then, he bends down to set down the watering can. "Here we are!"

The huge monster turns, a bright smile on his white-furred face. "Howdy! How can I..." His voice fades, large eyes going wide with shock. He takes a step backwards, knocking over the watering can with one paw-like foot. "Oh."

Frisk bites the inside of their lip, unsure of what to say. They expected Asgore to be... they're not sure. Not happy but... Not so stricken. Chara writhes in the back of their head, letting out a pained cry.

Asgore looks away for a moment, then back again, his expression settling into something sad. "I so badly want to say, 'Would you like a cup of tea?' But..."

"I'm not here to fight," Frisk says, taking a step forward and planting their hand on their chest. "I want you to take my Soul, so that you can break the Barrier!"

The king can only stare, hooking his fingers in the clasp of his cloak. "Child, are you... you cannot be..." Asgore shakes his head, sighing. "I suppose that makes things simple, then. If you... are certain."

Frisk, don't do this!

"I am," Frisk says. They take a few more steps into the throne room, careful not to crush any of the golden flowers. "I just want everyone to be happy, on the surface. I want to help."

He gives Frisk a sad, kind smile. "You are very brave, for one so small." Asgore frees his left hand from beneath his cloak, holding it out. A huge, red trident materializes in his hand, reminding Frisk, briefly, of Undyne. "I wish... Well, I am afraid that my own wishes are irrelevant. I just want to say that... I am sorry."

The king takes a careful step forward, raising his trident in one hand as he looks down at Frisk with what can only be described as grief. Then, as he's poised to strike—

"Stop!"

You shove your way past Frisk, thrusting yourself bodily between your child and Asgore's trident. The king stares down at you, frozen, as Frisk feels rooted to the floor. How—?

She came.

Chapter Text

In this moment, staring up at Asgore with your arms flung out to the sides to protect Frisk, you don't feel any fear. Fierce love swells inside of you, filling you up and making you more than you were before. An absolute certainty of what you're doing gives you courage. You'll never let anyone hurt Frisk, so long as you're alive to stop it.

There's a pause where you and Asgore just regard each other, and then he lowers his weapon back down to his side. But it remains there in his hand. You know that this isn't over.

Your chest is heaving as you fight to catch your breath, legs aching and heart hammering in your ears. "Take mine!" you yell at him, buoyed by adrenaline. You press your hand to your chest, fingers splayed over the front of your jacket. "If you need a Soul, then take mine. You know what it's like to lose a child. Please don't make me go through that too, take my Soul instead."

The king's eyes widen, paling under his white fur. He glances down to your side, where you can feel Frisk's fingers grasping at your clothes.

"Mom, no! I'm doing this for you! I just want you and Dad to be happy," they protest, giving you a sharp tug.

"This would never make me happy! Frisk, I'm your mother, I'm the one that's supposed to take care of you not the other way around," you snap, turning enough to look down at them. Your vision blurs, and you realize that your eyes are swimming with tears.

When you look back to Asgore, he's watching you with sorrow etched into the lines of his face. "I know the wish of wanting to take your child's place so that they might live. If that is what you want, then I will respect your choice."

"Mom!" Frisk says, and though it hurts you to do so, you refuse to look at them. They come around to your front and ball their fists in your jacket, shaking you.

"What I want is for you to stop this," you murmur, and slowly you start to feel the icy trickle of fear run down your spine. Your hands are trembling as you rest them on Frisk's shoulders. They release your jacket and instead fling their arms around your middle, repeating 'no' over and over into your stomach.

"I cannot let you go. My people have been waiting for this, and now it is out of my hands," Asgore says softly, hanging his head as his huge fingers tighten around the shaft of the trident. "My course is set."

You nod, biting your lip as you blink back tears. "Are you going to hurt people, when you get to the surface?" 

"No, I never wanted..." Asgore's face falls. You didn't realize he could look any sadder, but he does. "No, that is not true. When the pain was fresh and the dust and blood of my children was still clinging to my fur I wanted vengeance. I wanted to pay back that loss a hundred times over. The humans had taken so much from us. We had lost hope. But now... I just want to prevent my people from plunging further into despair. I want them to see the sun that only a few of us remember."

You think about Sans. Oh God, he never wanted to lose you in order to see the surface, but if it means saving Frisk you'll do anything. You hope he understands.

"It's cruel, what humans have done to your people," you say.

Asgore can only nod.

You bring your hand back up to your chest, and suddenly doubt creeps into the corners of your mind. You remember how Undyne and Mettaton both reacted when they first saw your Soul. "I don't..." Your words catch in your throat. You have to swallow before you can continue. "I don't know if my Soul is good enough. I don't know if it'll be strong enough for what you need."

"What do you mean, little one?" Asgore asks, his brow furrowing.

"It's cracked. Down the center. Please, it's yours if you can use it," you say. You swipe bitterly at the tears that spill down your cheeks.

"A damaged Soul does not equal a weak one," he says, his frown smoothing away into a small, comforting smile. At another time, you might feel more reassured. You shouldn't be happy that this means he can still kill you. "You are so strong, to be here. Both of you. I only wish that things did not need to end this way."

"Then please, do this while I'm still strong. I don't..." You bite back a sob, wrapping your arms around Frisk and hugging them to you. "Waiting isn't making this any easier."

"I understand," he says solemnly, bowing his head.

"Frisk..." you murmur, pressing a kiss to the top of their head. "I love you. And you have so many people who love you and will take care of you."

"Mom, please," Frisk begs, tears streaming down their face as they squeeze you as tight as they can.

You let them go, reaching around yourself to pry away their fingers as they plead with you to stop. Then, taking hold of their shoulders, you push them away with a stern look. "Be good, Frisk. Promise me."

Frisk wipes at their face with their sleeves, shaking their head. "I won't! Not if you're not here!"

"Frisk," you say gently. "Please."

"It's supposed to be me!" Frisk shouts, glaring at you through their tears.

"Never. I'll never let it be you. I love you." You have to stay strong. You have to do this, for them.

They bury their face in their hands. "I love you too," they choke out, shuddering. "I promise."

You look at Asgore, and he's watching the two of you with tears in his eyes. With a feeling of detached numbness, you almost wish you could comfort him, the way he comforted you. You thought he would be more frightening in person. "Please, do it before I lose my courage," you say, dropping your hands to your sides.

"Human..." he says, grief marring the kindness in his eyes. "It was nice to meet you. Goodbye."

You don't feel the faint tug of your Soul in your chest until the last second. As the crimson trident pulls back, the world seems to narrow down to those three points, coming towards you shockingly fast and impossibly slow at the same time.

It hurts, more than you thought it would. The pain is sharp and sudden, your heart lurches and shudders. You cough, and you taste blood in your mouth. Your fingers curl around the shaft of the trident, and you feel a large hand as your palm slides down the smooth, humming surface.

"hope!"

Sans?

"hope, no!" His voice is a ragged cry, desperate and pained.

The trident pulls back and out of you, and you feel like you're drowning. You can't breathe, and your heart gives a weak flutter in your chest. Knees buckling, you feel a pair of arms wrap around you and catch you before you fall. Darkness creeps into the corners of your vision and you're faintly aware of being lowered to the ground.

"no, babe, no," Sans begs, and you can barely make him out above you.

You open your mouth to speak but you can't breathe. I'm sorry.

Darkness takes you.


Sans watches the light leave your eyes. Shaking, he pushes your hair away from your face and cups your cheek. You can't be... no you can't. "hope, don't do this to me!" he begs, dragging his hand down the side of your face to fumble at your throat.

He tries to find your pulse, the way you showed him when Frisk was sick. If he can find your heartbeat then maybe there's still time. Maybe he can take you to Alphys and... He can't find it. Blood is soaking through your clothes and he can feel the dampness under his fingers as he presses against your chest.

A rich red glow bathes over you and for a moment Sans thinks it's more blood but no, it's your Soul. It's hovering there, cracked above your body. Before Sans can even react, a large, white hand reaches out to cup it and pull it away. Asgore looks down at Sans, cradling your Soul close to his chest and stepping away. He's wracked with sorrow, and all Sans can do is stare.

Anger swells up inside of him, bright and furious at the sight of your Soul in Asgore's hands. His magic swirls, electric in his left socket as it licks up the side of his skull. "give her soul to me," Sans says, his hands tightening on your body. "you have no right to it, she swore it to me!"

Asgore shakes his head, cupping the cracked heart a little tighter in his hand. "Sans, I cannot do that. With this Soul we can finally go free, you know this."

He doesn't care. None of that matters. How can it matter if you're gone? "don't make me fight you, asgore. give her back to me," Sans says, his voice deepening as his eyes narrow. Tears spill down his cheekbones unchecked, from anger and grief in equal measure.  The magic in the air starts to thicken, prickling over his bones.

"You would make her sacrifice mean nothing, if you do this," the king says, but the sadness in his voice just makes Sans angrier.

"I  s a i d,  g i v e  H o p e  b a c k  t o  m e..."

Sans raises his left hand, stained red and glowing brightly with blue magic. He feels them begin to coalesce behind him, the massive skulls pulled from the space between. His blasters, the last resort he's only ever used against Frisk at their worst. He's desperate. Asgore finally seems to realize just how desperate as his eyes widen in shock at the sight of them.

Humming fills the air as the blasters' mouths open wide, light gathering between huge, curving fangs.

"Sans, please," Asgore tries again, gritting his teeth and widening his stance, raising his free hand as a ring of floating fire forms a halo around him. "Know that I do not wish to do this. We are so close."

It doesn't matter. He just knows that he needs your Soul, he needs it because it's all that's left of you. He'll take it inside himself, keep you with him in the only way that he can. What do the consequences matter?

He can't lose you now. Not after everything.

"I'll make this right."

Sans's head jerks to the side at the sound of Frisk's voice, forgetting until now that the kid has been here the whole time. Their eyes meet, and through their tears they look at each other, and sudden realization shocks Sans to his very core.

"wait!"


Sans wakes up in his bed back in Snowdin.

Chapter Text

Frisk stares, their face blank, as Sans cradles your body in his arms and begs you not to leave him. Tears roll down their cheeks but they feel numb, sleeve-covered hands pressed over their mouth. This wasn't supposed to happen. You weren't supposed to be here.

Frisk. Listen.

They twitch a little at the sudden intrusion in their mind, somehow forgetting Chara's presence. They're close, closer to the surface of their consciousness than they've ever been before. It's almost as if they can feel their breath tickling their ear. Goosebumps raise on the back of their neck.

I can help you, if you let me.

Sans is yelling at Asgore. Frisk takes a step backwards as Chara flinches, reacting to the crackle of magic permeating the air.

No. Whenever you want to help you just want to hurt people.

Frisk can feel a child's hand on their own, small fingers ghosting across their skin. They jerk their hand away but when they look down there's nothing there.

Let me help. I want to help her. I know that you want to bring her back. I can feel you reaching back, but you don't have to do it that way. I know something better. But you have to trust me.

I don't trust you. You're not a nice person, Chara.

There's a beat of silence within their mind as a shudder of fear runs through Frisk and the person in their mind. Sans is calling forth his blasters, and Frisk feels a wave of deja vu. Something from the past timelines? Something they ought to remember?

Then, that hand is at theirs again, fingers wrapping around their palm with a gentle pressure.

You don't have to be a nice person to do the right thing. I'm going to help you, idiot, whether you like it or not.

Chara pushes inside of their mind, and then the floodgates rush open.

"I'll make this right," Chara says with Frisk's voice.

Then everything ends.


Frisk is standing at the beginning of that golden hallway, and Chara feels quiet and distant in the back of their mind. They reach up to feel their cheeks and find them dry. They grope around their neck to feel the thick chain of the golden locket resting against their chest.

They Loaded a Save. They know exactly what Chara did, and they know how they did it. Echoes of memories are bouncing inside Frisk's skull and, wincing, they press a hand to their forehead. For a moment it's too much, too much all at once but it settles into the background. They'll have time to sift through everything later.

You did this. You kept all my memories from me.

Chara stays silent, but the waver of guilt is enough to know that they're right. They're hiding in the back of their mind, and Frisk can almost see a child in green and yellow curled into a ball, if they close their eyes and focus hard enough. 

Why?

Nothing. Just silence and guilt. They stay there for a few minutes, with Frisk regarding Chara, waiting for them to speak. Eventually, they do.

It's fine if you hate me. It's probably for the best if you do, after everything I've done to you.

Dust-coated fingers. The feel of a knife in their hands. Golden light shot through with blue magic. Pain. Death.

Why?

Why did I do it? Or why is it fine if you hate me?

Both.

Chara doesn't answer. They press their face into their knees and cover the back of their head with their hands. Their image starts to wash out inside Frisk's mind, growing fuzzier until it hurts to try and focus on them.

Frisk opens their eyes, taking in a deep breath to calm their nerves. Then, lifting their head, they look down the hall through shafts of warm, dappled light.

Sans is standing there with his hands in his pockets, staring. Sweat is dotting the side of his skull and the pinpricks of light in his eye sockets are so dim they're hardly there at all. His mouth clenches into a tight grimace. His cheekbones are wet and he's trembling.

"what did you do, kid?" Sans asks, squaring his stance as Frisk meets his eyes. His voice is rough, either from tears or anger they're not sure. Maybe both.

"I Loaded a Save. I undid what happened, without Resetting," Frisk says. Their own voice somehow rings a little hollow, like they're reciting lines they've memorized somewhere.

"and how did you just so happen to know how to do that all of a sudden? i thought you didn't remember what you've been doing?" Sans is stiff as he watches them, tensing even more as Frisk takes a few careful steps towards the skeleton.

"I..." Frisk looks down at their hands, tugging them out of their sleeves. They press their knuckles against their lips as they think of what to say, and something about the gesture seems to make Sans relax a little. "I remember now." They look up to the towering pillars and the stained glass. "This hall... you've killed me here before, haven't you?"

Sans flinches, eyes narrowing before he gives a slow blink. Then, he nods. "yeah, kiddo."

"How many times?" Frisk frowns, thumbing through the memories in their head. They can remember, but it feels distant and... separate. Like remembering a movie they watched, or a book. It's someone else's story that they know by heart. "It all sort of... mixes together in my head."

"it's happened a lot more than i'd like to think about," Sans mutters, sighing and looking down at the tiles underfoot. He rubs the surface with the toe of his slipper, and Frisk can't help but wonder what he's seeing there. What part of their past is he remembering?

Probably nothing good.

"...It wasn't me. It was... someone else. They've been here in my mind this whole time, and sometimes..." Frisk winces, shaking their head and shoving the memories back.

Sans is watching them again, something sad etched into the lines of his face. "i sort of had a feeling. but i'm still sorry."

"Don't be. You stopped them from getting what they wanted." Frisk gives them a bright smile, remembering happier times. Eating at Grillby's, timelines' worth of bad jokes. A tower of hotdogs twenty-nine high because thirty was just too much. "Dad... you helped me here too, didn't you? You've always been there, watching out for me. No matter what."

"yeah, i have." Sans seems to come back to himself a little, the lights in his eyes brightening and he takes a few steps to close the distance beween the two of them. He rests a hand on Frisk's shoulder, the barest hint of a smile curving the corners of his mouth. "hey. how about we find your mom and we go home?"

Frisk's smile wavers, suddenly anxious. They glance at the doorway behind them. "I don't want to tell Mom about the bad times. She won't understand why you... why you had to do what you did."

He squeezes their shoulder, but it feels more like an involuntary spasm of his hand. "i think that's probably for the best."


You're in Asgore's house, running down the steps to the basement when there's a sudden lurch in your chest and it feels like you can't breathe. Stumbling but catching yourself on the small landing between the two flights of steps, you lean against the wall and suck in a deep breath. Your fingers press against your sternum, the echo of a sharp pain slowly beginning to fade. What was that? A strange sensation of deja vu overwhelms you for a moment and it feels like something's wrong.

But the more you focus on the feeling the further and further away it gets until you're not sure why you've stopped running. The ache in your chest is gone, your lungs are clear as you catch your breath. That was strange but... you have to keep going. You don't have time to stop.

You feel that odd, familiar feeling again as you make your way to the basement but you think it's just because the house is identical to Toriel's. Distantly, you wonder at the connection there but it's the last thing you have time to worry about.

There's a curving path on the exterior of the castle before you find yourself at another doorway, but you don't stop to wonder where it might lead. Forward is the only direction you can see. Forward to Frisk. You dart inside and you're greeted by two rows of huge pillars like the ones you saw back in the Ruins. The golden light pouring down over the ornate tiles reminds you of the bed of flowers you landed in. But the most important thing about the hall, the thing that makes your heart leap into your throat even as cry of joy breaks loose past your lips is the pair standing in the very middle.

Sans is standing in Frisk's way, his hand on their shoulder as they talk. Your outburst makes Frisk turn and as the two of them look at you both of their faces break out into huge smiles that bring tears to your eyes. You don't stop running, not until you wrap Frisk up in a huge hug clutching them tight to your chest.

"Mom!" Frisk exclaims, and though you expect them to be upset with you they sound so happy.

Another set of arms wrap around the both of you and you release your grip on Frisk with one hand so that you can hug Sans too, crying as you're enveloped in the two people who mean the most of you. In this moment the lies don't matter. None of it matters because you're just so glad that Frisk is okay and Sans is here. "You found them," you say, tucking your head down into his shoulder as one of his hands cradles your head. "I can't believe it. Thank you. Sans, thank you."

He's shaking, and you're pulled out of your all-encompassing relief at the sound of Sans letting out a choked sob into your shoulder. His grip on you is so tight it's almost painful, and something about this makes that feeling of being unable to breathe come back again. "hope, why didn't you ask me for help?"

"I tried to call you but my phone died," you say. But that can't be the reason he's upset. There's something more. Something you don't understand. "Sans, what's going on? How did you know we were gone? Did... Did something strange happen? I feel... odd."

You feel Sans draw in a deep breath, shaking his head into the crook of your neck.

"Dad," Frisk murmurs, and from within the tight knot of your bodies they manage to reach his arm and take hold of his jacket. "Dad you're crushing us."

The tight hold he has on you goes slack, and he takes hold of your face in both his hands. He stares up at you, disbelief and happiness warring for control as the lights scan over your features before returning to your eyes. With one arm still tight around Frisk —you're afraid to let them go— your free hand cups his jaw. He leans into your touch, letting out a shaky sigh.

"you... i..." Sans shakes his head, wiping his face on his sleeve without letting you go. "shit, just... gimme a second. i'm just so happy you're ok."

You feel a lurch in the pit of your stomach. "Am I not supposed to be?" You try to look at Frisk but you can't, not with the way Sans has you between his hands. "Hun did something happen?"

"yeah. yeah, something happened. babe..." He meets your eyes again, looking at you with an expression so solemn you're almost wishing you didn't ask. "hope. you... asgore killed you."

Your chest hurts. "No, I haven't even seen him yet," you protest, hand fisting in the shoulder of Frisk's sweater.

"frisk did something. went back a little bit instead of all the way," Sans says, and the desperate sound in his voice scares you. "you protected them. made sure that asgore took your soul instead of theirs."

You start to tremble, and you know that he's not lying. Why would he lie about this? Frisk's grip tightens on you, burying their face into your stomach. It's familiar. Too familiar but because you feel like you should be remembering something.

"But you're okay now," Frisk mumbles. "I wanna go home."

Staring at Sans, he slowly lets you go, his hands brushing against your skin like you're something fragile. You don't know how to feel about this. Everything about this day has been so much. Too much. He takes hold of your hand and you grip it tight like a lifeline.

"are you okay, babe? i know it must be a lot to take in," he says.

"You just told me I died, Sans. I don't know how I'm supposed to be," you mutter, shaking your head.

"Is someone there?"

The new voice is deep and rich, filling the hall and making you jump. Sans whirls around, still clutching your hand as Asgore ducks through the doorway and freezes mid-step at the sight of you. There's a beat of silence as you all regard each other. You wonder for a moment why Sans doesn't teleport you away but you realize that even if you did it would be too late. Asgore knows Sans. He'd know where to find you.

"shit," Sans breathes, and you can't help but silently agree.

"Oh," Asgore says, shifting on his feet as the initial shock wears away. "This is... unexpected."

Chapter Text

Asgore killed you.

Sans's hand spasms and clutches yours tighter as he puts himself bodily between you and the king. Frisk tenses against you, refusing to let you go. You realize that both of these people that you love, and who love you, watched you die. You can feel the hairs on your arms stand on end as magic prickles across your skin. Sans's entire body has gone rigid.

Asgore's eyes flick from you, to Frisk, and then back again, then finally settling on Sans. His expression slowly shifts from shock to something apologetic, tucking his chin against his chest and hunching his shoulders. "Good evening, Sans," he says, his friendly tone ringing false in your ears.

"asgore," Sans answers, reaching behind him to pass your hand from left to right. He shifts just a little, to cover you better. It would have been easier to just let go and take hold of you again, but... it's as though he isn't willing to break that contact, not even for a moment. "i think this might count as 'good morning' if you wanna get picky."

"Hmm, I suppose you are right," he says, the corners of his mouth twitching but not quite managing a smile.

The two of them stare at each other for a moment, tension thick in the air. You have to fight the urge to squirm, it's almost unbearable.

"i guess i did promise that we'd come visit you once the kid was feeling better." The forced levity in his voice makes you cringe. Asgore looks at you and you duck down a little without thinking. Even the king's partial attempt at a smile is gone now.

"I see. So this is the mother and child that you spoke of?"

All of this careful avoiding is about to drive you mad. Your fingers tighten on Sans's hand and he squeezes back. You're not sure if it's meant to be reassuring, but if it is it's not doing the job. Your chest feels tight and there's a part of you that feels sad, though you're not sure why. If Asgore really wanted to kill you, wouldn't he be acting different?

"yeah. and i gotta tell you, if you think you're laying a hand on either one of them, lemme give you some advice." The magic in the air thickens, and even from behind him you think you catch the glow of blue. "don't."

Asgore raises his head, his shoulders shifting back and suddenly the king seems bigger. Your eyes follow the curve of his horns and a little, panicked voice in your head tells you you shouldn't be here in this place. But even as the king's arms tense at his sides, there's still that deep sadness in his eyes. Eyes that are older than his face. You're reminded of just how old he really is, and you feel dwarfed by his presence. In size and age you're just a child in comparison. Tiny and... insignificant. What are you to him against the weight of his people? Of their freedom?

Is this why you were able to offer your Soul up to him before? Why you didn't try to fight if it meant Frisk was safe?

"Sans, this is bigger than you or myself alone. We only need one more Soul and then everyone can go free." He raises a hand and gestures towards you. "There are two here."

"yeah, two people. if i wanted to i could take them away from here before you could even think about trying to stop us, but i thought that you might take a second to listen. because i don't wanna have to try and hide them from you. it's not the ideal future i have for my family."

Asgore hesitates, his eyes widening just enough for you to notice. "...Family," he says, and it's not a question. It's a fact.

For the first time you start to feel a little bit of hope that maybe, just maybe this might turn out okay. Sans shifts a little on his feet and you think he feels it too.

"yeah, asgore," Sans says. "family."

There's a beat of silence and then you hear the soft hiss of feet against tile. A sharp intake of breath comes from behind you and before you can even turn to look a fireball shoots over your head to smack Asgore square in the chest. The king stumbles back, taken by surprise as Toriel storms past the three of you. You can only stare, dumbfounded as she fixes him with a withering glare.

"Dreemurr, you miserable creature," she snaps at him, raising her hands as fire fills the space above her palms. Glancing over her shoulder, she takes the three of you in. "Do not be afraid, my children. I realized that I could not allow you to do this alone any longer, so I am here."

"Toriel, you... you got my message," you blurt out, leaning out from behind Sans to get a better look at her.

She gives you a quick, kind smile, nodding. "Yes, my child. I simply could not allow any further loss of life, is that not what I have been trying to prevent all along?" Toriel turns back to Asgore, meeting his gaze as he stares at her with something akin to awe. Now that you look at the two of them together, you realize how similar they look. "This includes Asgore, as terrible as he might be. He deserves mercy, too."

The magic in the air around Sans starts to ebb. He rubs his thumb across your hand, a small comforting gesture. "i was only going to do what i had to," Sans mutters. "because, well, aren't you the lady who wanted them to be safe?"

The flames flicker and die in Toriel's hands and she shifts her stance enough to give Sans a proper look. Her large eyes are wide in surprise. "Oh my, your voice! You are my friend from the door, are you not?"

Sans doesn't get a chance to answer. Asgore takes a step close to her and she catches his movement out of the corner of her eye, drawing her attention back to him. He's smiling. "Tori. You came back!"

"Do not 'Tori' me, Dreemurr! You pathetic whelp," she snaps with a viciousness so unlike her it's jarring.

"HEY! NOBODY FIGHT ANYONE!"

You whirl around at the sound of Papyrus's voice filling the hall and can't believe your eyes. Papyrus and Undyne are there, followed shortly after by a very out of breath Alphys.

"IF ANYONE FIGHTS ANYONE... THEN I'LL BE FORCED TO ASK UNDYNE FOR HELP!" Papyrus finishes, gesturing dramatically as he strides up to stand beside his brother.

"Papyrus, you know you're tough enough not to need my help!" Undyne takes up the spot on Sans's other side, glancing over her shoulder back at you. She gives you a toothy smile. "Sorry Alphys and I missed your calls, but we're here now!"

"Y-yeah! Papyrus came to get us and we all came together," Alphys says, standing beside you and giving you a wobbly smile.

Toriel looks delighted at their arrival, giving them all a friendly smile. "Oh goodness, my children are these all your friends? Hello, I am Toriel."

"PSST. SANS. DID THE KING SHAVE? AND... CLONE HIMSELF?" Papyrus asks in a stage-whisper, looking at his brother.

The sudden and absurd release of tension has you and Sans laughing, and even Frisk is relaxing their grip on you. "nah bro," Sans says, giving Papyrus a wide grin. "i'm pretty sure that's the queen."

Undyne lets out a startled noise. "Wait, Asgore, this is your EX?" she blurts out, looking from one furred monster to the other. "Jeez. That's rough, buddy."

Asgore regards all of you with a look of bewilderment. You can only imagine how confused he must be. With the sudden return of his wife (which, by the way, you're still trying to take in) and the realization that his own captain of the Royal Guard is helping defend you from him, you can only imagine what he must be feeling. But you get the impression that he's relieved. He looks... happier than he ought to at being so opposed.

"It... would appear that I will not be gaining the final Soul we need to break the Barrier today," he says slowly, and you swear he's trying not to smile.

Toriel's face twists back into a disgusted grimace, shooting him a look that could curdle milk. "If you truly wished to free our kind, you could have gone through the Barrier after you had one Soul, taken six Souls from the humans, then come back and freed everyone peacefully. But instead you made everyone live in despair, because you would rather wait here, meekly hoping another human never comes."

Asgore's face falls, chastised. "Tori... You are right. I am a miserable creature."

"Wait a second," you say, and suddenly everyone's eyes are on you. Even Frisk is pulling away, taking hold of your hand. You swallow past a nervous lump in your throat. "Um, why can't you do that to get the last Soul?"

"...what do you mean, babe?" Sans asks, turning to look at you better. "you don't want asgore to just go kill someone, do you?"

"What? No, I mean..." you give Sans a frustrated look. "Humans die all the time. You'd probably have your choice of Souls just by going to the hospital."

The monsters all stare at you. Just as you're starting to think that maybe you said something wrong that you just don't understand, Sans's mouth twitches into a smile. "i dunno about the rest of you, but... that sounds worth a shot to me."

"Wait, you mean that the humans might just GIVE us a Soul?" Undyne blurts out.

Alphys clears her throat. "I-it would be worth a try!"

"WOWIE! YOU MEAN WE MIGHT ACTUALLY GET TO THE SURFACE?"

"That sounds like a wonderful idea," Asgore says, and he's smiling again. "But, who would go to get the last Soul?"


Sans is standing there looking at the six Souls, sweat dotting the side of his skull. Hands shoved deep in his pockets, he glances over at you and then back at the glass cylinders, then up at the hazy, pulsing surface of the Barrier. It's smooth and oily, like the surface of a bubble blocking a tunnel through the side of the mountain. You can feel the hum of magic fill the space here, and you wonder if it's even stronger to the others. They all look uncomfortable, though from the magic or what's about to happen, you're not sure.

"does it really matter which one i pick?" Sans asks, glancing over at Asgore.

Asgore shakes his head. "The colors reflect the... people they once were. But any of them will get you through the Barrier."

"Children," Toriel whispers, and her expression is solemn. She's been staring at the softly glowing Souls since Asgore raised them from where they were stored beneath the ground. "They were just children."

People spoke of kids going missing on Mt. Ebott. Now you realize the full scope of where they went. Why no one ever saw them again. They're right here, waiting. You feel a chill run down your spine and you can't help but squeeze Frisk's hand tighter in your own. Frisk had almost been the seventh. For a little while, before they turned back time, you were the seventh.

Papyrus leans in close to Undyne. "WHAT DOES THE QUEEN MEAN?"

Undyne looks away, shaking her head. You wonder if she's thinking about the implications of what she almost did to you and Frisk. The tiny flick of her eye up to yours makes you think she is.

"T-there was that theory that the colors have to do with different, uh, attributes. Like p-patience, and justice, or um kindness," Alphys adds in a small voice.

"which one's justice, do you think?" Sans asks.

"The yellow one, m-maybe," she whispers.

"sounds good to me."

"Sans," you say, and he looks up at you. The lights in his eyes are small. He's nervous. "...Are you sure this is a good idea. I don't... Why you?"

He gives you what you guess is meant to be a reassuring smile. "i know it's heart to think about, but i'm the skeleton for the job. asgore'd be too obvious. if we only wanna send a soul monster out there, you know my shortcuts'll come in handy."

"Is this really the time to be making puns?" you ask, frowning.

"no time like the present. and what can i say, it's just a gift of mine." He's smiling wider now, watching you to see if you respond.

Your mouth twitches involuntarily but you let out a frustrated sigh. Shaking your head, you fix him with a worried look. "Sans I don't like this."

Fishing his hand out of his pocket, he reaches out and takes your hand. "i'll be careful. i'm not gonna let anything happen to me, not after what i just went through. you're never gonna know what that feels like."

You let him tug you down so that he can nuzzle the side of your face. Kissing his cheekbone, you squeeze his fingers tight between yours. "Frisk could just... go back, right? If something goes wrong?" you murmur, low enough that the others can't hear.

"i don't like counting on those loads. i still don't understand how that shit works, to be honest." Sans pulls away, looking at Frisk. "don't do any loading unless you have to, okay kiddo? emergencies only."

Frisk bites the inside of their lip, but nods. "Okay. Be safe, Dad. Promise."

Dad. You're still getting used to the sound of that. Sans winks. "'course. i promise."

"Asgore, I mean... Your majesty," you say, turning to where the king is standing on the other side of the Soul containers. "Once Sans gets back, you're sure he'll be able to just... release the Souls. He'll be back to normal."

"He should be able to, yes," Asgore says, after a moment of hesitation.

"...I don't like 'should'. Hun are you sure?" you ask, looking at Sans again.

"if it means that you and frisk stay safe and everyone goes free? yeah i'm sure," he says, grinning. "not having to worry about anyone trying to take your souls any more? getting to the surface? you said there was so much you wanna show me."

You don't say anything. All you can do is steal another kiss, this time on his mouth. "I love you, Sans."

"i love you too, hope," he says, giving your hand one last squeeze before letting you go.

"You better come back safe."

"hopefully." He winks.

You and Frisk take a step back, and all eyes are on Sans as he approaches the container with the glowing, yellow Soul. He stares at it, hesitating, as nervous sweat once again gathers at his temple. With a steadying breath, he reaches out and touches the glass.

It shatters. All of the cylinders shatter and thorny vines coil tight around the Souls, yanking them away and out of sight. There's a moment of stunned silence.

Thick, massive vines bigger than tree trunks erupt from the ground, red thorns glistening against green. None of you even have time to react. Quicker than should be possible thinner tendrils coil around all the monsters, pinning their arms to their sides and lifting them off the ground and into the air. Only you and Frisk are free, cowering in the middle of a a nest of jutting spikes.

Flowey pops out of the ground at your feet, baring his fangs in a menacing smile. "You idiots."

Chapter Text

"No!" Frisk shouts, yanking their hand free from yours and taking a step towards Flowey. The flower just laughs as you dart out to grab their shoulders, pulling them back against you. "You're not supposed to be here this time! This time is different!"

You look up around you at the monsters held suspended in the air. Some, like Undyne and Asgore are struggling. Alphys looks terrified, her eyes fixed on Undyne. Papyrus is saying something to Sans but his brother doesn't seem to hear him. Sans watching you and Frisk, his sockets dark and unreadable.

Flowey gives a little shake of his leaves, swaying on his stem. The massive vines swell and rise higher around you, closing you in even further. You have nowhere to go, no way to run, and everyone you care about is caught in this trap.

"So you remember now, do you? It must have something to do with that little trick you pulled earlier." Flowey's smile turns sweet, hiding his fangs. "And you're right, things are different this time! Instead of just the human Souls, I'll have all of your friends' Souls too!" He giggles, sneering. "And you know what the best part is? It's all your fault. It's all because you made them love you. Without that, they wouldn't have come here. Just one word to Papyrus that you were in danger and he couldn't run fast enough to go get Undyne and Alphys."

"We're going to get out of this, Alphys!" Undyne shouts, struggling to flex her arms and try to rip through the vines. But she's held fast. "Don't panic!"

"SANS, I DON'T UNDERSTAND. IS THIS MY FAULT?" Papyrus is shaking his head, hands clenching and unclenching uselessly at his sides.

Flowey's face twists into a thin smile, eyes glittering with malice. "They don't even realize how pointless their fighting is. Because with all of these Souls, I'll finally achieve my true form."

"Why are you doing this?" Frisk demands, trying to step forward again but you hold them back. "Why won't you just leave me alone?"

The flower fixes them with an impatient look. "Don't you get it? This is all just a game. We've been playing it over and over again, but if you leave the Underground satisfied you'll 'win' and you'll never come back. You won't be here to play with me anymore! What would I do then?"

"This isn't a game! These are people's lives!" you snap.

"You're really good at messing up the way things happen around here, aren't you?" Flowey glares at you, petals bristling. "You made friends, played house, and had the nerve to just sit around and stop playing the game. I may not have been able to kill you before, but that doesn't matter. Because now, thanks to you, I have all these Souls. I wonder how strong I'll be with two more?"

A ring of white pellets forms a halo around the two of you, and you feel the familiar tug of your Soul free itself from your chest. The brighter, purer red of Frisk's Soul is there too and you fight the urge to hide it somehow. There's no denying Flowey's intentions as he starts to laugh. "I'll kill you a million times if I have to! You're never going to leave this place happy!"

Your grip on Frisk tightens, one arm circling their chest in some futile effort to protect them. But the pellets are coming from all sides, there's no way to stop their approach. Flowey cackles even louder over the frustrated cries of your friends, but then, just as you're squeezing your eyes shut in the face of the inevitable, the laughing cuts off abruptly. Hot air buffets your face.

"What?" Flowey says.

You open your eyes to find yourself surrounded by a messy tangle of magic. Fire and bones and spears, shades of blue and orange and green all twisted together to form a barrier around you and Frisk.

"we've got you," Sans says and you look up to see him giving you a strained smile, the familiar ring of blue flickering in his eye.

"Do not be afraid, my children," Toriel says. "No matter what happens, we will always be there to protect you!"

Another ring of pellets forms, this time trying to come at you from above but the web of magic shifts to absorb the blow. Flowey is glaring, the thorns all around you growing and sharpening.

"THAT'S RIGHT, HUMANS!" Papyrus shouts, anxious sweat dotting the side of his skull despite his enthusiasm. "YOU CAN WIN! JUST DO WHAT I WOULD DO! BELIEVE IN YOU!"

"How can we win?" you cry out, shaking. "You've always... you've always saved me..."

"Hey, Hope! If you were able to stand your ground against ME, you can take out this overgrown weed!" Undyne says, giving you a big, pointy smile. "And don't worry! We're still with you all the way!"

"frisk, you've had everyone here to protect you this time, even your mom, but you remember before. you fought all your battles yourself, don't forget how tough you are!" Sans says, smiling wider.

There's another barrage of pellets and Flowey is writhing in anger. Again his attacks are deflected away, and you feel something stir in your chest. Frisk lets out a cheer and pumps their fist in a way that they must have picked up from Undyne.

"I know it seems impossible, b-but I know you can do it!" Alphys says.

"Human," Asgore's voice fills air, and you catch Flowey cringing at the sound. "For the future of humans and monsters, you have to stay determined!"

Flowey lets out an impotent cry of rage, shaking his leaves as he glares up at the two of you through your messy shield of magic. "No! Unbelievable! This can't be happening! You... You...!" His expression makes a sudden, startling shift into a maniacal grin, splitting his face so wide that you take a step backwards. "I can't believe you're all so stupid! You can't stop me! All of your Souls are mine!"

Flowey's horrible laughter fills the air as your friends all cry out in pain. The vines twist and writhe all around you, tightening around their bodies as a harsh, bright light starts to fill the room. It's blinding in intensity and you have to squeeze your eyes shut, leaning over Frisk to try and shield them from whatever might be coming. You feel their hands grip your arm and they cry out in pain.

Your chest feels too light. Something inside you shudders and shivers and for a moment you think you might faint. You feel like something is trying to pull you apart through your Soul.

Even through your eyelids everything is just too bright.

Then you're plunged into darkness.


Silence.

Where once you were warm from the magical fire that helped protect you, now you're... nothing. You're not hot or cold, just there. But Frisk's hands are warm on your skin and you know that they're here with you. You can hear their breathing, now that it feels like your senses are slowly returning to you. Straightening your back but not letting go of your child, you blink and look around.

Blackness. Nothing. You can see Frisk as though lit somehow though there's no source of discernible light. They blink up at you, equally confused. There's a floor beneath you —you can feel it under your feet— but you can't see it. Or, you can, but it's the exact same color as everything else around you. There's no shadows to give it any sense of dimension.

Frisk gasps and you look up. There's a child standing there in the darkness with you. A monster child in a green and yellow striped sweater, facing away. White fur covers his head and his long ears that remind you of Toriel and Asgore. His small hands move just a little, curling and uncurling his fingers like he's not used to the movement. He turns his head from side to side, slowly as he rocks forward onto his padded toes and back down to his heels. 

The child's shoulders shudder as he lets out a humorless, relieved laugh. "Finally," he breathes in a voice you've never heard before. It's soft and sweet and for a moment you forget the danger because he's just a child and where did he come from? You unwrap your arm from around Frisk and step out from behind them so you're side-by-side. "I was so tired of being a flower."

This child is Flowey? What the hell is going on?

He turns around to face you, blinking large green eyes as he focuses all his attention on Frisk. He doesn't even glance at you. "Howdy! Chara, are you there? It's me, your best friend."

"Asriel," Frisk whispers, eyes going wide as their hand flies up to their neck, clutching something through their sweater. It's then that you spot the glint of a gold chain, and you wonder where it came from.

"Asriel? Asgore's son—?" A bright flash of light blinds you, cutting you off as you cover your eyes and let out a surprised yelp.

When you can see again Asriel is still standing in front of you, but he's different. He's taller, bigger. Horns have sprouted from his head and though you see some of Asgore and Toriel in him he's nothing like them. He makes a chill run down your spine. Eyes the color of pitch stare down at Frisk as he bares his teeth in a wicked smile.

"Once I defeat you, I'll regain total control of the timeline," Asriel says, rising slowly off the ground. He hangs there in the air, looking down at both of you, raising his hands as magical fire fills his palms. It shifts colors, refusing to settle on any single hue as it swirls between his fingers. "For a while I wanted to destroy everything, but... I'd rather just Reset it all."

Frisk snatches up your hand and drags you to the side just in time to dodge a hail of tiny fireballs. The all-too-familiar red glow of both your Souls fills the space around you in response to Asriel's assault. You remember what Sans said to Frisk, that they've been through fights with monsters before. Their speed is incredible, reflexes faster than you could ever imagine. Are you just holding them back? After hundreds of timelines of practice, how can you ever keep up?

Asriel laughs, materializing a pair of sabers from the air around him. The darkness is starting to shift, twisting and surrounding you with ever-changing color. "I'm going to undo all the work you've done. All the friendships you've made. You won't remember anything. None of you will, not even Sans. I've done it to him before, and I'll do it again."

He lunges forward and lashes out at you with both swords, eyes flashing in the glow of the light all around you. You manage to stumble backwards just in time to avoid the conjured blade, but a flurry of small sparks travel in the wake of it and they pepper you across the chest. They burn, a sharp pain like staring into the sun and you cry out and bring your hand up to feel for wounds that aren't there. The magic went straight for your Soul.

"Mom!" Frisk yelps, whirling around to check on you.

"I'm fine," you say, gritting your teeth.

"Asriel, stop!" Frisk shouts at him, tugging at the chain around their neck. Their fingers close around something glittering as they whirl around to face down the hovering monster.

"You can't stop me, Chara! I'm going to Reset and we're going to do this all over again," he snarls, twirling one of the blades in his hand before giving a half-hearted slash for emphasis. "And the best part about all this is that you'll do it. You won't remember and we'll get to do this again and again!"

A halo of stars, bright facets of light, forms around Asriel in a pattern that reminds you of Flowey's pellets. Frisk yanks on your hand and you follow them to the side but the stars follow you, too fast to get out of the way. You wonder how many of these attacks you can take before you—

It happens so fast you almost can't comprehend it. Someone steps out of Frisk. For a moment they're like a blurry afterimage but the colors are all wrong. Instead of blue and purple they're green and yellow, pale skin, auburn hair. In the light of your Souls their eyes seem red. They dart between you and the stars and fling their arms out wide, taking the full brunt of the attack.

They stagger back as Asriel stares, wide-eyed at this new child. A new Soul adds its light to the space around the three of you, red like Frisk's but... It's cracked like yours but so much worse. It's split almost entirely down the middle with fractures branching into both halves. Entire chips are missing and you don't know how the Soul is even staying together at all. And what were they doing inside of Frisk?

"Chara!" Asriel cries out, his face breaking out into a huge smile. "I knew you were here, I knew it!"

"Asriel, you idiot, this is all your fault!" the child shouts, balling their hands into fists.

Asriel's smile falters, the sabers fading back into nothingness as his arms go slack. "...What? I... I've been calling for you. I've missed you!"

"If you had listened to me in the first place we wouldn't be here like this! You... you betrayed me! You betrayed our plan and we died for nothing!"

Frisk is standing beside you and all the two of you can do is watch. You're faintly aware that your three red Souls have started pulsing in the same rhythm.

Asriel shakes his head, balling his hands into fists. "No, we... I didn't want to hurt those people..."

"So now it's okay? What happened to the stupid crybaby I remember?" Chara says, shaking their head and making a derisive noise.

Staring, the monster's expression is blank as he struggles with something to say. You don't understand what's going on. Is this child, Chara, the human that Asgore and Toriel adopted? The child that died with Asriel?

He bares his fangs, snarling down at Chara. "I started seeing the world the way you always said it was. I listened to you and now you don't want me to?"

"You didn't listen soon enough! It's too late now!" Chara snaps.

"It's not too late! I'll show you! I'll purge this timeline and next time you'll see," Asriel snarls.

His body starts to warp in front of you, and you're blinded by a bright flash of light before everything is plunged back into darkness.

Chapter Text

You can't move. You're not sure why, there's nothing you can see or feel restraining you but... your body isn't listening. All you can do is watch as the shifting, colored light from before coalesces into a pair of massive wings. Asriel's body is twisted into something horrible, a monstrous head perched atop black, pointed shoulders. He flexes his fingers (each nearly as long as you are tall) like he's testing them before looking down at the three of you.

"This is my true power," he says, his voice resonating through the blackness all around you. "I'm going to kill you, as many times as it takes to strip the determination from your Soul so I can Reset it all. And this is where you're going to die, here where no one will ever remember you."

"Asriel, stop being such a selfish crybaby! How many times are we going to keep doing this over and over again?!" Whatever's holding you in place doesn't seem to be affecting Chara. They put themselves between the two of you and Asriel, squaring their shoulders and staring up at the creature with the prince's face. "How many timelines are we going to fight each other?"

Asriel lets out a howl of rage, lunging forward and digging his hands into the blackness on either side of your group. Wings pulsing with every color flare out at his sides, filling your vision as he bares enormous fangs. "You have no idea what this is like! To live without a Soul! I tried so many things but nothing ever worked!"

"Then tell me! Stop sitting there feeling sorry for yourself." Chara brings one hand under their Soul, the other balling into a fist. "Because I might understand better than you think."

Growling, he digs his fingers deeper into the ground before shoving himself away, raising his hands as swarms of multicolored fireballs swirl between his fingers. His black eyes narrow down at the three of you. "No! NO!"

You try to cry out but you can't even open your mouth. All you can manage is a strangled yelp as Chara takes the brunt of Asriel's assault. The bright red of their Soul starts to dim, and they cross their arms over their chest as they heave out a shuddering breath. The glass-like fragments tremble, fighting to hold their heart shape as the color loses some of its intensity, paling.

Frisk shudders beside you, eyes wide as their hand twitches in your grip. "I can't..." Their voice is tight, forced from between their lips. "I can't reach my Save. I can't Load back."

Asriel snarls and repeats his attack, peppering the three of you with magic. Chara still takes the worst of it but you and Frisk are hit too, the bright, searing pain making your Soul shudder. You have no idea how much more of this you can take. Pain is lancing through your body, radiating from your chest and you still can't move. You're caught there, at the mercy of this creature looming over you. The color of Chara's Soul is even paler, more pink than red. They're trembling, sinking down to one knee.

Frisk takes a few shuddering steps, pulling their hand free from yours and going to Chara's side. With great difficulty, they reach out and thread their fingers through Chara's, squeezing and giving the other child a bright smile. "I need your help. You can feel them, can't you? Help me reach them."

They look at Frisk, bright red eyes meeting brown as their pained grimace smooths away. With a look of pure determination, Chara gives them a sharp nod. Together, they raised their joined hands and something white begins to glow from the pulsing heart in Asriel's chest.

Asriel stares down at the light, then lifts his head to glare at the two children. He pounds his fists into the ground hard enough that you can feel it resonate through your body. "What are you doing? Stop this!" he shouts, baring his teeth.

The light gets brighter and suddenly you can move again. You step forward to rest your hands on Frisk and Chara's shoulders, the latter child flinching at the touch. They give you a sharp glance, something strange in their eyes as they look from your face down to your Soul. Then they return their attention to Asriel.

"Mom and Dad first," Chara snaps, a crease forming between their eyes.

"I want my dad," Frisk argues back, frowning.

"I'm not asking." They jerk their joined hands a little and you have squint and turn your head as the light increases in intensity.

You're not sure what's going on but something about the space around you seems to shift. Your grip on the two children tightens and you feel Chara try to shrug away but you hold fast. As the light starts to fade enough for you to risk a glance, you realize that Asriel is nowhere to be seen. Instead, in his place, are two familiar figures.

Toriel and Asgore are standing there, faces obscured by something like fog. The white mist swirls and twists, curling in on itself and refusing to dissipate. Frisk drops Chara's hand and runs to Toriel, reaching out to take her hand. You can't hear what they're saying. Chara tries to stand but their knees wobble and they collapse back to the ground, letting out a frustrated growl.

You squeeze their shoulder and their eyes dart up to look at you. They can only meet your gaze for a second before looking away, one hand going to their Soul reflexively as if to hide it from view. You reach down and wrap your arm around their middle to pull them to their feet. "Let me help you," you say, and you're surprised to see that their eyes are a little glassy. "I'm not sure what's going on, but it seems like you and Frisk know something."

"We need to get Asriel to listen," Chara mutters, shaking their head. They seem to resent your assistance, but aren't saying anything as the two of you approach Asgore. "But he's hiding behind your friends. We need to save them first, to get through to him."

"What were you doing inside of Frisk?" you ask. "Are you the reason they can alter time?"

Chara chews the inside of their lip and it reminds you so strongly of Frisk that you take a quick glance at where your child is speaking with Toriel. She's turning away from them, bowing her obscured head and clutching her hands to her chest.

"I was surviving. And yes," they say petulantly.

If you had more time you'd say something about their tone. But Asgore is looming over the two of you, hanging his head as his hands ball into fists at his sides. Chara stares up at him, looking more worried about facing him than they were of Asriel. They push your hand away and step forward, legs wobbling a little.

"Asgore," Chara says in a weak voice, hesitating. "...Dad it's me, Chara."

"Chara is dead," he says in a low, mournful voice. "Asriel is dead. My beloved has left me. I once had a family full of love, and all that remains is a bed of golden flowers where my children sowed the seeds with their blood and ashes. Do not tell me that you are my child."

Your heart aches at the deep, ancient sorrow in his voice. Chara's hands are shaking as they start to reach out to touch his hand but then recoil, shaking their head. "I am dead. But that doesn't mean I'm not... You always told me that I was welcome! That you would take care of me like I was yours too!"

"I am alone. I have been alone for so long," Asgore murmurs, rocking his head from side to side. "I cannot afford to care for you, child. We only need one more Soul. Forgive me for what I must do for my people."

Asgore raises his left hand and Chara takes a shaky step back. You're not sure how you know he's reaching for some kind of weapon but somewhere deep inside you know that he is. Darting forward, you cover his hand with your own, grasping at his huge fingers. Asgore stills at your touch.

"We're going to save everyone without killing," you tell him, staring up at him through the mist covering his face. "You don't have to hurt anyone ever again, Asgore."

His hand tenses but he doesn't move. You glance back at Chara but they're walking away to stand by themselves, their back towards you and Frisk both. Their shoulders are shaking.

You turn back to Asgore and you think you catch a glimpse of his eyes for just a moment. "We have a plan, remember? A way to get the last Soul so then the Barrier can be broken. I need you to remember." You squeeze his fingers. After a long moment of silence, he brings his other hand to cover yours.

When you look up at him the mist is gone and he's smiling at you. "I remember. You and your child are the future of humans and monsters."

With a sigh of relief, you smile up at him. "That's right. But I think there's someone who wants to see you."

Asgore follows your hand as you point, and you can tell the moment he sees Chara. His eyes go wide and his hands fall away from yours. "Chara?"

They turn and you can see the trail of tears wetting their cheeks, staring in disbelief. "Dad?" There's another cry of joy and you look for the sound to see Toriel cover her mouth with both hands. Chara seeks her out too, eyes sweeping over her almost hungrily. "...Mom?"

Both of them start to go for Chara but before they can make it their bodies start to fade. They turn to something like smoke that swirls together to form solid, pearlescent white hearts, upended in the air with their points facing upwards. They hang there for a moment before vanishing. Chara turns away again, sinking down to their knees and burying their face in their hands.

You start to go to them but Frisk comes to meet you, taking hold of your hand. "We have to help the others," Frisk says, and there's a pulse in their Soul that echoes in yours. You can feel it, resonating between the two of you. "Help me reach out for Dad."

"What do I do?" you ask, squeezing their fingers between your own.

"Um..." Frisk mumbles, biting their lip. They reach out towards the blackness with their free hand, splaying out their fingers and wiggling them. "You just... reach out. With your Soul."

"I'll do my best, sweetie," you say, because you don't know what they mean.

Bringing you free hand to your chest, you close your eyes but before you can even try to do anything Frisk lets out a gasp. Your eyes fly back open and instead of Sans you're greeted with Papyrus, all by himself. His face his obscured just like Asgore and Toriel's were.

"I MUST CAPTURE A HUMAN!" he exclaims, taking a quick step towards the two of you as he rests a hand on his hip, pointing at you with the other. "BECAUSE THEN... THEN I'LL FINALLY..." His voice wavers, his hand dropping to his side. "THEN I'LL FINALLY BE IN THE ROYAL GUARD, AND MAYBE SANS WON'T HAVE TO WORRY SO MUCH."

"Papyrus," you breathe, and the way his voice is shaking tears at your heart.

"AND I'LL BE POPULAR, AND HAVE FRIENDS. BECAUSE I WANT SANS TO KNOW THAT I'M HAPPY. AND MAYBE, IT'LL MAKE HIM HAPPIER TOO." Papyrus puffs out his chest again, and you can see the tail end of his scarf give a weak flutter, even here in this place. "SO I MUST CAPTURE YOU!"

"You already have friends!" Frisk exclaims, giving the skeleton a bright smile. "And family! We never got the chance to tell you, but Sans agreed to be my dad, which means you're my uncle now!"

Papyrus flinches away, shaking his head. "BUT I HAVEN'T... I NEED TO CAPTURE YOU! IT'S THE ONLY WAY... THE ONLY WAY I CAN PROVE TO SANS THAT I'M NOT... THAT I'M NOT A BURDEN. THAT HE DOESN'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT ME."

"Papyrus, your brother loves you. He's going to worry about you no matter what," you tell him, swallowing past a lump in your throat. How can he think of himself that way? How can he even consider for a moment that Sans thinks like that? "Because that's what you do with family. You worry and you care so much that it hurts. And you worry about him too, don't you? Do you think that he's a burden?"

He hesitates and some of the fog starts to lift away. "...NO. NO, I..."

You cut him off with a fierce hug, flinging your arms up around his neck to pull him down to you. He wraps you and Frisk up and squeezes you tight. "Papyrus, you know that we love you, right?"

"I... YES!" You steal a glance and you can see that the fog is gone. He's grinning. "YES OF COURSE, HUMAN!" he says, and right now his odd nickname for you just feels wrong.

"I told you before, to call me Hope," you tell him, hugging him tighter. You know that in a moment he's going to vanish just like Toriel and Asgore did.

"HOPE. I ALSO LOVE BOTH OF YOU! PLATONICALLY, OF COURSE," he adds as an afterthought.

"Of course," you agree, laughing a little as you give him one last squeeze. The second you pull away his body starts to wisp off into the air, before solidifying into a white heart and then vanishing.

Frisk takes hold of your hand, and you feel that odd pulsing in your Soul again. You look down at them and meet their eyes, a stubbornness there that you're so affectionately familiar with. They raise an eyebrow in silent question and you can't help but laugh. It's so much like something Sans would do that you think they must have picked it up from him. You give them a nod.

"There's still the others, right?" you ask.

They nod back. "We have to save all our friends."

"What about... your dad?" The title feels a little strange on your tongue but Frisk's eyes brighten at the sound of it. You'll need to get used to this.

Frisk looks back out into the darkness and their eyes go distant. Seeing something that isn't there, or feeling for something. "I can't reach him yet. He's there but... The others are in the way."

"Then let's help them," you say, squeezing their hand.

Frisk nods again.

You blink and Undyne and Alphys are standing in front of you. Undyne clenches her hands into fists and you can catch the flash of teeth even through the mist obscuring her face. Alphys cringes away, wringing her hands in front of her.

"Humans! I'll kill you to free us all!" Undyne snarls, widening her stance. "You're our real enemy!"

"We're not, Undyne, we're your friends!" you snap at her, lashing out like you did when you were starting to know her. Back when things were still difficult between you. You have to show her that fighting spirit she seemed to admire. "Are you telling me you don't remember all the time we spent together? The times you fought for me?"

"Undyne, do you remember the time you taught me how to play piano?" Frisk chimes in. "And then you and Papyrus burned the house down?"

She hesitates, arms tensing but waiting. Alphys trembles at her side, shaking her head.

"You... y-you all hate me, don't you?" Alphys mumbles. "I have to keep lying... if they learn the t-truth everyone will hate me."

"Alphys, you made mistakes but you've taken responsibility for them. We know that you tried to do the right thing," you tell her, watching Undyne as she flinches a little.

"I just wanted to impress Asgore. E-everything is my fault. All I do is h-hurt people," she says, covering her face with her hands.

"The amalgamates are happy and back with their families. They'd be dead if not for you." You watch as Alphys's shaking starts to ebb, her hands pulling tentatively away from where her eyes are hidden behind the fog.

"We care about you Alphys! We like you," Frisk says, smiling.

Alphys is silent, hesitating at Undyne's side. They're both standing there, waiting for something.

You look from one to the other, giving Frisk's hand a squeeze to steady yourself. "Both of you are our friends. Undyne you helped me when I argued with Sans, and were there for me when I was scared. You showed me how to be stronger when all I could think about was how weak I was. Alphys, without you I don't know if Frisk would have come back from that fever. Your brilliance saved their life. I am so grateful to know and be close to both of you."

The fog lifts from both of them at the same time, leaving them blinking at you in unison.

Undyne flushes purple, glancing away. "Oh come on, I didn't do all that. You've always been strong, you punk," she says, but you can tell she's secretly pleased.

Alphys is blushing too, hiding behind her hands. "I-I only did what I could. It's the least I could do after all the s-support you've given me too!"

They turn at the sound of each other's voices and Undyne scoops Alphys up in her arms, grinning. Their relief is palpable and you can't help but smile as Alphys gives a nervous giggle. As they check on each other to make sure they're okay, their edges start to blur and they too fade away until there's nothing but two white Souls hovering there, resonating together, before they vanish.

"Can you feel him?" Frisk asks you, their voice a soft murmur.

You close your eyes, raising your free hand to cup underneath where your Soul is hovering. You can feel that familiar prickle of his magic, his Soul, across your skin. The way his voice makes your whole body hum, the warm feeling of love that swells in your chest when he's looking at you or when he's spending time with Frisk. It's intimate and warm and tender, and everything is undeniably him it's like he's standing there with you.

Then you open your eyes, and he is.

Chapter Text

Sans is standing there in front of you, his face hidden behind the twisting fog. Hands shoved into his pockets and shoulders hunched, he looks like an enormous weight is pressing down upon him and he's sagging under the pressure. Frisk lets go of your hand and you go to him, reaching out to wrap your hands around his arm. He doesn't even seem to register your presence.

Now that you're touching him you can feel that he's trembling. "Sans, we're here for you," you say gently.

"it doesn't matter. none of this matters," he says, his voice ringing hollow. Emotionless. None of that warmth or even sadness.

"Of course it matters," you tell him, squeezing his arm as if you can get through to him with your touch. He doesn't react. "Everything we've been through, everything that we've built together, it all matters."

"why are you even trying? it's so much easier to just give up. it can't hurt you if you don't care. if you don't have anything it can't get taken away." He's shaking more now and his voice is cracking. You feel tears gather in your eyes and you fight the urge to wrap him up in your arms and hug him close. "just give up. i did."

"That's not true!" Frisk says, taking hold of his other arm and tugging sharply. "You were always there for me! You... helped me. No matter what, you made sure that... that things would be okay. And sometimes it was hard, really hard, but you did it."

"i could have done more. maybe if i did more, things wouldn't be so bad. if i had worked hard enough to stop the accident, people wouldn't have died. it's not enough. it's never enough," Sans says, and you can hear it in his voice that something inside him breaks. He's crying. "no matter what i do i'm always gonna lose them. i hold on as tight as i can and they slip through my fingers. happiness is temporary."

You're crying, too. Tugging on his arm, he doesn't fight you as you free his hand and wrap both of yours around his. His fingers twitch against your skin. "Happiness is important because it's temporary. You can't be afraid to be happy just because it might be gone someday. You need it to get you through the bad times." You pull his hand up to cup your cheek, holding it against your face. "Stop blaming yourself, Sans. None of this is your fault. You can't bear the weight of this forever."

"it's mine to bear. no one can understand how this feels. no one understands what it's been like, living this over and over again, remembering things no one else can. i can remember all of these timelines but i've forgotten so much. who am i anymore?" His fingers curl against your skin, pressing so hard it hurts but you refuse to let him go.

"You're the man I love. You're the person who despite everything telling you that you shouldn't, let yourself love me back. Even though you were so scared of losing us, you chose to accept me and Frisk as your family," you say, voice cracking. Trembling, it feels like a hand has reached into your chest and squeezed. It aches. "Don't let this undo all the work you've done. Let us help you. You don't have to be alone."

"i am alone. one day it's all going to be reset and you'll be gone. you'll never remember i even existed. i never should have let myself love you," he says, trying to pull his hand away.

You don't let him. You hold him fast but God his words sting, like a slap to the face. Blinking through your tears, frustration starts to bubble beneath the surface. "If you lose us right now it really is going to be your own damn fault! You're letting this happen. If you pull away from me you're just making your own worst fears come true. Fight this! Fight this and come back!"

"i can't..." he says but you can see through the gaps in the mist obscuring his face. For a moment your eyes meet and a surge of hope fills you. "b-babe it's too much."

He's almost there, he's so close that you can almost taste it but he needs something else. Something more than words. Your Soul lets out a bright pulse of red and you remember. When you couldn't bring yourself to believe that he loved you he showed you the truth. Linked his body, his magic, to your Soul and bared enough of himself for you to understand.

"I've got you," you tell him, and bring his hand down to where your cracked Soul is still hovering in front of your chest.

You have to reach out to steady yourself on Sans's chest because he's right; it's too much. His grief and fear, sadness and self-loathing threatens to drag you down and swallow you whole. The last time you had only felt a fraction of how deep this went. The full scope of it, the reality of just how helpless Sans must feel hits you square in the chest, knocking the air out of your lungs. You flounder under it all and he shudders, trying to pull away but you hold on tight. You can't let this stop you. You have to show him that you're here. Distantly, you're aware of Frisk grabbing at the side of your jacket, holding onto both of you as they watch with wide eyes.

"I'm here too," Frisk says, and you can feel a small surge of something swell inside of you, timed with a flare of red from their bright and radiant Soul.

It's enough. Just enough to remember yourself and focus on why you're doing this. That you love him and that you know it hurts. You might not be able to fix it but he doesn't have to feel this alone, because you're here. You'll always be here because this isn't like the other timelines. Frisk remembers and they promised and things are going to be different. They have to be because you're a family and nothing is going to take that away. Not with the three of you holding on tight to this future together.

"It's okay to be scared, and afraid, and worried," you tell him, fisting your hand in the front of his jacket, your grip like iron on his hand at your Soul. You can feel his hand in yours and at the same time feel the pressure of your fingers on his bones. The lines between the two of you are blurred and you squeeze your eyes shut because you're seeing through two sets of eyes at once. "Maybe that will never go away but I'm here. Whenever it's bad I'll be here. You're not alone because I've got you."

The coiling, writhing darkness inside of Sans's Soul recedes all at once, and you know the fog has lifted from his face. It's like being able to breathe again without realizing that you were even drowning. The relief is so sudden and welcome that you let out a sob, releasing Sans's hand. The connection between your Souls is gone and you take a moment to steady yourself before opening your eyes to look at him.

He's smiling through his tears, searching your face as you smile back at him, flinging your arms around his neck and hugging him as tight as you can. Frisk lets out a cry of joy and you feel them latch onto the two of you. Sans has an arm around you and another around Frisk, holding you both.

"you got me," he says, and you tuck your face in against his jaw, unwilling to let go.

"I'm gonna see you again soon, okay?" you tell him, knowing what's coming.

"what are you talking about?" he asks, his hand clutching tight to the back of your jacket.

He's starting to lose his substance. You pull away so that you can look at him, holding his gaze as his edges start to blur. "I love you."

Sans opens his mouth to reply but he's faded, gone, a lone white Soul hovering in front of you for just a moment before it vanishes. Taking in a shuddering breath, you wipe at your cheeks to dry your tears. You and Frisk are alone in the darkness.

No, that's not true. You turn, remembering Chara. They're watching you with an expression that's unreadable, eyes flicking between you and Frisk. Frisk lets you go, walking over to where the other child is standing, waiting for you. You follow.

Chara is cupping their Soul in their hands. It's not shivering anymore, but the color hasn't come back. It's still pinkish, the color of blood diluted in water. "He's waiting," they say. "It's time to save Asriel."

You feel the space around you shift and Asriel is there, staring down at the three of you with his teeth bared. He looks confused, one hand raised to shield the bright light pouring out of his chest. Chara pushes their way in front of you and you try to catch their shoulder to stop them but they shake you off, glaring back at you.

"W-what are you doing?" Asriel cries out, and there's a waver of uncertainty in his voice. He sounds raw and exposed, more like the child he should be. "W-what...?"

"This isn't you, Asriel," Chara says, shaking their head and fixing him with a stubborn look. "This isn't the person that saved me after I fell. Who held me up as you took me to meet your parents. This isn't my friend! My... my brother! My brother's a huge crybaby, that never wanted to hurt anyone."

The light in Asriel's chest flares red and his eyes widen. He recoils, shaking his head. "What did you do? What is this feeling...?" His huge, black eyes well with tears. "What's happening to me?"

"We're trying to save you, Asriel! Let us help you," Frisk says, resting a hand on Chara's shoulder. They flinch but don't pull away.

"No. No! I don't need anyone!" Asriel howls, wrenching his hands away from his chest as multicolored flames spring to life in his palm.

He lashes out, a barrage of magic that strikes uselessly at the ground around you. Except for what hits Chara head on. You reach out for their other shoulder, helping Frisk steady them but they jerk away again, snarling as they take a step forward. You should stop them, do something to help but... You can't. All you can do is watch numbly as this broken child stands against their equally broken sibling.

Chara walks towards Asriel, trembling as they hold the fragments of their even-paler Soul between their hands. "You don't need to do this. You don't need to be like this anymore. You don't need to be angry like me."

"Stop it! Get away from me!" he sobs, tears streaming down his cheeks. More fire from his hands streaks towards Chara but this time none of them find their target. "Do you hear me?! I'll... I'll tear you apart!"

Asriel digs his huge claws into the darkness on either side of Chara but they keep approaching, staring up at him. They reach out with one hand to rest it on his arm, fingers trailing up it as they walk closer. He flinches away, dragging backwards away from the touch as the rage drains from his face.

"Chara, don't you see why I'm doing this? Why I keep fighting to keep you here?" Asriel hangs his head, covering the light coming from his chest. Trying to hide it. "I'm doing it because you're special, Chara. You're... you're the only one who understands me, now. You're the only one who's any fun to play with anymore."

Fire flickers over his hands but falls feebly to the ground, raining down like tears. You realize that you're crying. The sheer hopelessness and pain in Asriel's voice cuts you deep, straight to bone. No child should feel this way. No children should ever have to go through what Asriel and Chara have been through.

That huge head tilts back up, black eyes peering through tears to watch Chara as they keep moving forward. "No, that's not just it. I... I... I'm doing this because I care about you, Chara! I care about you more than anybody else!" He shudders and lets out a gut-wrenching sob, tossing his head violently from side to side. "I'm not ready for this to end. I'm not ready for you to leave me again. I won't... I won't let you!"

"Asriel!" Chara calls out, spreading their hands out to either side of them, baring their shattered Soul. "Don't do this!"

"So, please... stop fighting me... Just listen for one... I'm not... I'm not an idiot!" Asriel begs, covering his face with his hands and dragging down his snout. Pulsing light starts to gather in his palms, bright and swirling with color like his wings. "Please just let me win!"

The light pours from his hands in a concentrated beam, it's path set down a line that should consume all three of you. You seize hold of Frisk's hand and pull them to your side, but the magic never comes. Instead, it stops at Chara. They're taking the full force of it by themselves, and you cry out in dismay. How can they possibly withstand it?

The magic swells as Asriel roars, the sharp sound of the beam and his cry mingling together and filling the air around you, deafening you. "STOP IT! JUST GIVE UP!"

All at once the magic is gone. Silence overtakes you so suddenly you wonder if you really have gone deaf but you hear Frisk's sharp intake of breath next to you. Chara is still standing, shuddering with deep, heaving breaths as Asriel slumps to the ground. Laying there, his head on the floor, his arms are starting to blur at the edges. His body is fading as he cries.

"Chara," he says, his voice thick and weak. "I'm so alone, Chara... I'm so afraid..."

Darkness is creeping in closer, swallowing the light from the wings you can barely see anymore. The space is narrowing down to just you and the three children, Asriel's head towering over you, even as he's collapsed on the ground. You don't know what to do, or even say, but you don't think there's anything you can do. You're a just a spectator to their despair.

Chara reaches him and rests their hands on his muzzle, pressing their face into his fur. "I'm here."

"I..." Asriel whispers, and a soft, bright white glow emanates from what's left of him. He shrinks and shifts and when the light is gone, all that's left behind is that small, scared child clad in a green and yellow sweater. "I'm so sorry."

Chara's legs give out beneath them, collapsing to their knees. You and Frisk rush forward to steady them, and they're so weak they can't even muster up the strength to shrug away or even look at you. Their hands lay useless in their lap.

The color has drained from their Soul, all that's left is gray. The color of ashes.

Chapter Text

You kneel next to Chara, wrapping one arm around their shoulders as they slump to the side, leaning against you. Their breaths are shallow but they're still alive... But, is that even right? This child has been inside of Frisk, clinging to whatever it is they are now. Is it possible to die twice? What's happening to them?

"Chara! No!" Asriel cries out, wide-eyed and staring. He's frozen in place, his arms still raised to wipe his face.

"You're... you're pretty tough with all those Souls," Chara says, letting out a weak laugh. "Even if... you're still a big crybaby."

The prince whimpers, tugging on his long ears. He takes a small step forward but seems afraid to get any closer. "Chara, I didn't... I didn't mean for this to happen!"

They let out an exhausted sigh and they feel even heavier against you. Dead weight, you think with an ache in your chest. Your Soul gives a small pulse of red and Chara's shudders in response but it isn't glowing. The shattered gray heart reminds you of a lightbulb that's burned out. It twitches in Frisk's direction but Chara makes a frustrated grunt of effort and it stays in place.

"Don't be so stupid," Chara says. "I was already going to fade. I'm all out of Determination and anger and with those gone, there isn't that much left of me, is there?"

"This is all my fault!" Asriel says, shaking his head while holding onto his ears and crying.

"It's not your fault. None of this would have happened if I hadn't..." They trail off, hands balling into weak fists. "I'm... I'm sorry, Asriel. I did this to us."

"I could have told you no. I could have stopped you," he says.

"You always tried so hard to make me happy. You always gave in, to whatever I wanted. I'm sorry for that too, for taking advantage of you." Chara groans, shuddering. "You deserved to be happy, too."

Fresh tears well up in your eyes and you wrap your other arm around Chara's body and pull them into your lap. They go rigid at your touch, grumbling in protest but they don't have the strength to fight. "I should have done something. You shouldn't have been the one to protect us, I should have protected both of you," you say, fighting back a sob. "You're all just children."

"You should hate me. Don't... don't feel sorry for me, I don't deserve it," Chara says, shaking their head against your shoulder. "Besides, you already helped me."

"I'm sorry I can't do more," you say, and you mean it. You don't understand what Chara has done, to Frisk or Asriel or why you should hate them. But they're a child. How can you hate a child? Hugging Chara closer, you're surprised to feel their arms slip around your waist and hug you back.

They're trembling, crying silently into your shoulder. "Thank you," they whisper. "It was nice to meet you in person."

Chara's body is becoming lighter. You relax your hold on them in time to watch their edges blur, crumbling away like dust as they let out one final, long sigh. There's nothing left of them but the colorless remnant of their Soul. It hangs there for a moment, but instead of shattering all the way, or disappearing, it floats back over to Frisk and slips inside their Soul. Back where it came from. The vibrant red starts to shift, gray veining the surface like marble.

Frisk's hands are shaking as they cup their hands beneath their Soul, tears slipping down their cheeks as they look at you. Sniffling, they give you a weak attempt at a smile. "I should be happy that they're gone. But I didn't think it would happen like this," they say. You reach out to pull them too you but Frisk shies away, shaking their head. "There's still more to do. We're not done."

You turn to Asriel, where he's sniffling and rubbing at his face. The white fur on his cheeks is wet and mussed. You try to stand but your legs shake and you fall back down, weak and exhausted. Frisk goes to Asriel in your stead, reaching out and taking hold of his hand. Startled, his watery green eyes open wide and he stares at them, chin wobbling.

"Frisk, I did such terrible things to you, when I was a flower. To everyone," he says, a pleading note to his voice as he tries to explain. "I couldn't feel love anymore, I don't... I don't have a Soul of my own. It's been so long since I've felt this way."

Frisk squeezes his hand and Asriel manages a weak smile. Nodding, Frisk encourages him to continue.

With his free hand, the prince covers his chest, right over his heart. "With all these Souls inside me, I have my own compassion back. But, I can feel everyone else's too. Everyone cares about each other so much, and... they care about you too, Frisk." Asriel looks over their shoulder at you. "And you, um..." His face scrunches up, cocking his head like he's trying to hear something. You can see it dawn on him when his expression relaxes into a small smile. "Hope. That's... that's funny, isn't it? That's a really nice name." Wiping his face, he turns his attention back to Frisk. "I wish I could tell you just how much everyone cares about you, but... I think you kinda know already. They've had so many chances to show you."

"We care about them too. We just want everyone to be safe again," Frisk says.

"I'm sorry," Asriel says again, and for a moment you feel a lurch of fear in your stomach. That he's apologizing because he can't bring everyone back. "I understand if you can't forgive me. I wouldn't blame you for hating me. I acted so strange and horrible. But there's no excuse for what I've done."

It was easy to hate Flowey. He had been a monster in the truest sense of the word, cruel and manipulative, reveling in the pain of you, Frisk, and your friends. But Asriel is different. Maybe it's the Souls inside of him, the return of his capacity to love. But you can't see them as the same person. They're not the same person. This is a hurt child, desperate for help.

"I forgive you," Frisk says, without even thinking. "I forgive you and Chara."

"W-what?" Asriel gives a nervous laugh, looking away. He sniffs loudly, rubbing his snout. "Frisk, come on. You're gonna make me cry again. But, even if you do forgive me... I can't keep these Souls. I owe it to everyone to return them."

A guilty swell of happiness rises up inside of you, knowing that Sans and the others are going to be okay. That Asriel can let them go. "But what happens to you?" you ask him.

He looks up at you, giving you a wistful smile. "It doesn't matter. There's something I have to do first. Everyone's hearts inside of me, they're all beating as one, and they all want one thing. To finally shatter the Barrier."

Asriel tugs his hand free from Frisk's and closes his eyes. The blackness all around you shifts until suddenly you're at the Barrier. You're right there in front of it, and with a quick glance over your shoulder you can see the shattered remnants of the Soul containers. Your friends are nowhere to be seen. When you look back at Asriel he's rising up into the air, arms outstretched. Light pours from his chest, white shot through with the colors of the human Souls inside of him. It swirls, so bright that you have to shield your eyes and you can feel the rush of air all around you. Tension is building, thick and heavy until all at once it snaps, and that uncomfortable press of the Barrier's magic is lifted. Then, everything goes still and quiet.

Lowering your hands, you watch as Asriel sinks back down to the ground, wobbling a little before steadying himself. He glances behind him at the unobscured path out of the mountain, smiling to himself and then at Frisk. "I... I did it! Now everyone..." His smile falters, looking down at the ground. "Everyone can go free. But I... I need to go. It'll be better if the others don't see me. I can't keep maintaining this form without the Souls. I'll... go back to being a flower again. So, maybe it's best if you just forget about me, ok?"

"No," Frisk tells him stubbornly, reaching out and wrapping Asriel up in a fierce hug. "Because together, Chara and I can still save you."

"W-what? Frisk, Chara's gone, there's nothing they can—"

Letting him go, Frisk takes a step backwards with a huge grin on their face. They bring their hands around their Soul, looking down at it and curling their fingers. "Chara wanted to save you, more than anything. They might not have been a very nice person, and for... a long time they were angry. But deep down, I know they cared about you, Asriel," Frisk says, their face scrunching into a look of concentration. Their arms are trembling as they're trying to pull. The marbling of gray on the red surface starts to shift, pulling to the left.

You force yourself to your feet, your muscles spasming in protest but you manage. "Frisk, what are you doing?" you ask them, worry tightening your voice. They don't acknowledge your hand on their shoulder as you squeeze, fighting the urge to pull their arms down. "What are you doing to your Soul?"

With a gasp, Frisk's hands pull apart and instead of just one Soul between their hands, now there's two. Two, solid Souls. The one on the right, the one you can only assume is Frisk's, is that same familiar red. Only now, there's a gray streak slashed across the center, like a scar. The other is what was left of Chara's, but all the cracks and chips are filled in with bright crimson, leaving it whole again. They pulse together and your own Soul beats in response, filled with awe.

Asriel can only stare, dumbfounded at the two Souls, then past them to where Frisk is grinning at him. Frisk laughs. "Go on. Take it," they say, somehow nudging the gray and red Soul towards him.

"Frisk, how did you...?" Asriel reaches out timidly for the Soul but hesitates, mouth hanging open.

"I dunno. I just knew I had... more than I should. So I'm giving it to you. It's what Chara would want," they say.

Gently, Asriel's hands close around the Soul, like he's handling something precious. Tears well up in his eyes and he starts to cry, clutching it close to his chest but not letting it go.

"Asriel," you say, reaching out to touch his arm.

"Sorry," he mumbles through his tears, looking up at you. "I just... thought it might still feel like them but... They're gone. Chara's really gone."

Lowering yourself back down to your knees, you put your arm around his shoulders and pull him close, your own tears slipping silently down your cheeks. Frisk scoots in close to you and you put your other arm around them too, hugging them both as tight as you can. Asriel presses the mended Soul into his chest and shudders, drawing in a deep breath. As if sensing that this is all finally, finally, over, your and Frisk's Souls disappear too. All the tension, all the fear, all the grief, it washes away as you feel whole again and then everything goes dark.


"hope, c'mon babe, wake up. we're not doing this again."

Your eyes flutter open, groaning as you reach for the bony hand pressing uncomfortably on your throat. Sans lets out a sigh of relief as he wraps his arms around your chest, lifting you partway off the ground in a crushing hug. Grabbing at his jacket, you bury your face into the fluff of his hood, taking in a deep breath. That familiar, musky smell grounds you, lets you know that everything is okay. You're not sure where you are but...

It all comes rushing back. Your eyes snap open and you scramble into a sitting position, leaning back enough so that you can try to look around. "Where's Frisk, and Asriel?" you ask him, craning your neck.

Sans pulls away so that you can see, studying your face as he reaches out to push some wild strands of hair out of your face. He sits back on his heels, squashing his slippers as he stays there on the ground with you. "everyone's fine, though they don't really remember what happened," he says, trailing his hand down your cheek and then taking hold of your hand.

Toriel is holding her son on her hip, stroking his face and running her fingers down the length of his ear, smiling brighter than you've ever seen her. Asgore hovers nearby, and as he steps closer she looks at him, not even hesitating to hand Asriel to him. He cradles him close to his chest, laughing with shining eyes when Asriel hooks his arm around one of his horns to pull himself up to Asgore's shoulder. Toriel watches them both fondly, wiping tears from her eyes.

Frisk is sitting on Undyne's shoulders, flexing their arms and laughing. She tries to make a grab for Papyrus's legs and he shies away, trying to wave her off but finally going to duck behind Alphys for cover. Alphys lets out an alarmed squeak and tries to twist around and look at him but Undyne snatches her up and lifts her off her feet, laughing. 

You let out a weak chuckle. "Looks like you're the only one worried about me," you say, returning your attention to Sans.

He hasn't taken his eyes off you. The white lights in his eye sockets are taking you in, hungry for every last detail. You can tell he's trying to calm himself down, hiding as best he can behind a smile. "everyone said you were fine, that you just needed a little more time to recover than the kids cuz your soul's a little more fragile."

"I don't think anyone has a Soul tougher than Frisk's. And, now..." You frown, thinking. "Have you seen Asriel's Soul? Or can you sense it?"

Sans tears his eyes away from you to look over at the Dreemurrs, a small frown settling between his brows. "frisk sorta told me what they did. cobbling a soul together from a broken one and sheer determination... that's something. but it feels fine. whatever they did, it's working. i think i'm more surprised that flowey turned out to be the king's dead kid."

"Yeah," you murmur, leaning forward to rest your head on Sans's shoulder. He puts his arm around you, hugging you close as you watch the others. "You said that the others don't really remember, but... what about you?"

Sans gives a weak shrug. "not really. i mean, i remember flowey, which is more than can be said for the others. and then i remember your voice, calling out to me. did you..." He sighs. "forget it. i'd rather worry about the here and now. and the fact that somehow you guys broke the barrier."

You jerk back with the realization, staring up at him. "Has no one gone outside yet? Why are you all just sitting here when you can finally go out and see the surface?"

He laughs, his expression so full of love and affection that you feel yourself start to blush. "because we were waiting for you."

Chapter Text

You don't realize just how much you missed the surface until it's staring you in the face, bearing down on your skin, and shining down on you from the sky. Ebott's forest spreads out beneath you from the ledge you and the others are perched on, faintly lit by the pre-dawn light. The sky is still inky, the crescent moon hanging low in the sky and the brightest stars are still shining. The moist air of the summer morning makes you feel sticky but it's so welcome you don't even mind.

Even the air is crisper, fresher than in the Underground. The smell of earth and trees fills your lungs as you take in another deep breath, staring up at the sky. The hum of insects feels louder than you remember.

"THE STARS SEEM SO SMALL! BUT THERE ARE SO MANY!" Papyrus exclaims, breaking the silence and making you jump.

"There's actually even more than this," you say, glancing over Sans's head to look at where his brother is standing beside him. "You can't see them all because the sun is going to be coming up soon."

"WOWIE, YOU MEAN WE GET TO SEE THE SUN SOON?" He's still staring up at the sky, transfixed.

You chuckle, and Sans's arm tightens around your middle, pulling you closer to his side. Papyrus falls silent again and you glance over to where Asriel and his parents are gathered together, speaking in soft voices and looking up at the stars. What must it be like for them, to see the surface again after hundreds of years? And on top of that, to have their son back and be able to show all of this to him. You pull Frisk against you with one arm wrapped around their shoulders, feeling them tilt their head back to rest against your stomach.

"i'm not sure what i imagined it'd be like," Sans murmurs. Turning to look at him, you're happy to see him smiling. "but so far, so good."

With a weak laugh, you lean over to kiss his cheekbone. "Just wait until the sun comes up," you say.

"It needs to hurry up!" Undyne snaps, pacing impatiently. "This is taking too long!"

"I-it shouldn't be too much longer. Look the sky is already starting to get b-brighter," Alphys says, pointing to where, yes, the darkness is starting to bleed away on the horizon.

"So what do we do now, Mom?" Frisk asks, tipping their head back to look at you.

You open your mouth to answer but Toriel turns to look at the two of you, glancing from Frisk to you with a startled look on her face. You catch her eye, then give her a sheepish smile. "Oh. Um, yeah. I'm actually Frisk's mom, not their sister," you explain, glancing away and then back again. "Though, at the time, Frisk didn't know either. I... don't know if that makes it any better, actually."

Toriel just gives you a warm smile, looking down at Asriel and stroking his ears. She meets your eyes again. "I am sure you had your reasons, my child. So long as you both are happy."

"But, if you're okay with it... Maybe you can be Frisk's grandmother instead?" Suddenly embarrassed, you chew the inside of your lip and look back up at the stars.

Nudging her son over to Asgore, she walks up to you and Frisk, holding her arms out. Meeting her eyes again, she's smiling brightly. "That would make me very happy, my child, to include you both in my family."

Sans lets you go and you and Frisk are wrapped up in Toriel's embrace. She's warm and soft, bowing her head over you and for a moment you feel a little like a child again. Protected and cherished by someone who cares about you. She reminds you of better times, back when your own mother used to smile.

"Thank you both, so much, for everything," she whispers, giving you one last, tight squeeze before she eases away. She looks at Sans, something mischievous sparkling in her eye. "Please continue to keep them safe and loved, as you have been. I am glad that my advice helped."

Turning to Sans and raising a brow, you're surprised to see his cheekbones darken as he scratches the back of his skull. "yeah, thanks tori."

Toriel makes a pleased sound, glancing over at Asgore. He's watching all of you, one hand resting on Asriel's shoulder. When he notices that you're looking, he clears his throat. "There will be much work to be done in the future on behalf of both humans and monsters," he says. "I would extend to you and Frisk the opportunity to serve as our ambassadors. But I will understand if you decide to refuse."

You blink, glancing over at Sans. He just gives you an equally confused look back, shrugging his shoulders. So much for that. Frisk looks from you to Asgore, waiting. Biting your lip as your mind turns the idea over, after a moment you have to shake your head. "I don't think that we'd be very good ambassadors, your majesty. I don't know the first thing about politics, or anything like that. And I don't think that the government would listen to me, to be honest."

Toriel hesitates, frowning. "Why is that?"

"I'm too young. Not to mention that I became a mother at fourteen, it just doesn't look good on a resume," you say, giving her a wry smile. "And to be honest, I'm just not cut out for it. I'd be in way over my head. Not that I won't help out!"

Asgore chuckles, nodding. "I understand. Do not fret over it any further."

Toriel turns her frown on Asgore. "You should not have put her on the spot like that, expecting so much from them. They have been through enough," she says sharply.

Asgore shies away, looking out over the trees instead of meeting her stern look. He doesn't notice the confused look that passes over Asriel's face. "Of course, Tori."

She gives an agitated sigh but doesn't correct him, and you wonder if it's because of the way that Asriel is watching them. You hope that the two of them can come to some kind of agreement, for their son's sake, at least. She walks back over to join her family, leaning down as Asriel tugs on the front of her robes to say something. They're too quiet for you to hear, so you turn to give them some privacy.

"Mom, you didn't answer my question," Frisk says.

What do you do now? Monsters are on the surface and you can't imagine that's going to go perfectly. You've seen enough movies to know the worst possible outcome and now that you're here, facing the reality of it, it's making you nervous. You're struggling for some kind of answer when Sans wraps his arm back around your waist and hugs you close. With his other hand, he ruffles Frisk's hair, receiving a frustrated grumble in response as they comb their fingers through it and try not to smile.

"right now, kiddo, we're gonna watch the sunrise. we've got plenty of time to worry about what comes after," Sans says, and there's a certain weight to his words. 'After'. How long has he been waiting for an after?

Putting an arm around his shoulders, you lean against Sans and look out over the forest. The sky is starting to turn orange, chasing away the stars. You've seen hundreds of sunrises, more than you can count and you hardly paid them any attention. So when the sun starts to peek over the horizon, you don't bother to watch. You watch Sans instead. The way the lights in his eyes get brighter, the way his jaw goes a little slack. You watch the light paint across his face and you engrave this moment in your memory. The first time you see him in the sunlight.

His grip on you tightens but he can't tear his eyes away, transfixed. You're smiling and all of this, everything that's happened, feels so worth it. To bring him here where he can see the sun. You cup his jaw with your free hand and press another kiss to his cheek. "What do you think of the view?" you ask him, remembering your first date on another ledge, overlooking Snowdin's forest.

Sans's mouth twitches. You can almost see the realization on his face as he begins to turn to look at you. "very beautiful. the forest— oh." The white lights in his eyes search your face, follow the waves of your hair. He reaches out to run his hand through it before cupping your cheek, his smile going tender. "oh, hope. you're even more beautiful in the sunlight. look at you."

Blushing and happy, you give an embarrassed laugh, turning your head away. "Hun, come on," you mumble.

"i'm serious. babe, c'mon don't turn away," he says, laughing now too as he pulls your face back towards him.

Frisk lets out an exaggerated gagging noise and you give them a weak glare as they walk over to go stand with Papyrus instead. Rolling your eyes, you and Sans share a lingering, affectionate look.

"we're on the surface," he murmurs, turning to nuzzle into your cheek.

You press a trio of kisses to his jaw, giving a long, contented sigh. "Yeah, we are."


After an exhausting night with very little sleep for all of you, you end up napping in the midday sun, warm and content. Because heaven knows you'll need your rest for the coming days.

It's two days before a park ranger stumbles upon you and your little group. Another two before some men from the military hike out to meet with Asgore and Toriel (and you, at their insistence). They're nervous at the sight of the king and queen but you think that being there yourself really does help. How can they bear not to be braver than a young woman and a six year-old?

Things are tense for a few weeks. The government sets up a perimeter around the mountain and the surrounding forest, refusing to let any of the monsters leave the area. There's talk of putting up some kind of permanent wall or fence but Asgore manages to convince them not to. They compromise on an armed patrol instead. The monsters are willing enough to cooperate, much to your relief. A checkpoint is set up on the only road leading in and out.

Magic, old-fashioned brute strength, and (to your surprise) help from some of the soldiers gets the rough beginnings of a settlement started on the surface. Many monsters opt to stay in the Underground until things are more stable, not that you blame them. Alphys regularly travels back and forth with Undyne to check on the lab and the Core, and there's talk of running energy from the Core up to the surface.

For the most part, there isn't much that you can do. During the days you help with construction where you can, or sit in on Asgore and Toriel's meetings with the government. You don't really understand everything that's going on, but there seems to be talks of giving the monsters the already sectioned-off part of the forest as some kind of gesture of goodwill. You suspect it's also to keep them from scattering into the nearby cities. There's no talk of removing the checkpoint.

It's not until the military sets up a small signal tower that your cellphone reconnects to the surface network. The moment it happens your phone lets out an overwhelming series of chirps and chimes, nearly four months of notification backlog. You barely know where to start. There's text messages from old coworkers wondering where you are, a slew of emails (most of them are spam), and a handful of voicemails. 

There's five voicemails from your mother. You wait until you have a moment alone with Sans to go through them. He sits with you on the cot you've been sharing, one arm around your shoulders as you swallow past the lump in your throat and enter the password for your mailbox. The first three are of her screaming at you. You delete them as quick as you can but you can tell she blames you for runni