"did you ever get to see the stars?"
The older turtle blinked, and he craned his neck over from a pile of gold to blink again. The young skeleton blinked his eyelights back at him, his hands gripping the countertop. Many had heard the old stories about his former days. Gerson: The Hammer of Justice. One of the finest warriors of the war. But most normally asked about his fighting days or how many humans he beat. Not many asked about the surface through him.
His claws shifted to rest on the counter, and he nods, "That I did. Though it was quite a ways back, champ..." Gerson chuckled, leaning on the counter now, "Now what got that on your mind today?"
The skeleton shifted his eyelights away, and his grip tightened, glancing away from the turtle, "just...just got curious is all uhm..." He put a bag of gold pieces on the counter, "t-the usual today is fine..."
Another rasping laugh as he took the bag, passing over another behind the counter. His claws clicked over the pieces while the skeleton checked over the groceries. "...Thing you gotta realize, kid, is that the sky is vaster then these here caves."
Looking up, the child seemed almost transfixed by these words, nodding as he came in closer. Gerson grinned back. He waved out a hand, a piece of gold tucked between each claw, "You could look up at the sky and for miles and miles, you see nothing but stars up there. It's endless...With these caverns, you reach a limit at some point. No matter how high you look." He tucked the gold away, and for a moment his own gaze drifted to the roof of the shop. A rough breath came out, "Someday, I hope a youngin' like you gets to see it. Appreciate it more then I did."
He turns back, and winks, "But don't listen to an old man like me. You run along now, Sans. Your brother's waiting, ain't he?"
As though shaken from a daze, the skeleton nodded, turning and heading quickly out the shop, bag of crabapples and sea tea in his hands. That was one of the first times Sans had lingered in the store. And it wouldn't be the last.
Gerson had met few kids so enraptured with the surface as little Sans was. He knew only little about him. His father was some sort of scientist. He had a younger brother, who sometimes came with him (the cutest little skeleton he'd seen beyond Sans! Even if he did have an awful habit of running and yelling, as most youngin's were want to do.) And he was very weak. Even things like school roughhousing had the potential to be fatal. Most of his knowledge, it seemed, had been either home taught or self-taught.
Either way, he was one of the brightest boys Gerson had met. Of course, it had taken even longer for him to show it-so shy to speak until just the right moment of the story when a torrent would come flooding out. It was one of the few times the boy seemed to show much excitement for anything. And it only grew more and more frequent with every visit. In less then a year, he must have stopped by at least once a day to check in and hear another story of the surface world.
Gerson had his own ways of showing appreciation of course. Within the coming years, a tradition was born. Small notches on the front of his shop, field trips to the human dump for new books or items to sell, afternoons spent helping him in the shop when the air became humid and everyone ached for a cool drink or a bite of apple.
It was almost funny how long it took before Gerson finally asked. "Son? Why do you want to know about the surface so badly?" Gerson knew of few kids who cared much about the surface, and with good reason: their parents had lost hope. They had lived in the Underground all of their lives at that point. Some of them may never know what fresh air smelled like, or how it felt to have saltwater on your scales, or the rain pouring down your back. It was a sad fact, but it was better then the alternative...
Sans must have been a teenager by then, the red glasses on his face tilting for a moment before he adjusted the tape, setting aside the crabapples he'd been working hard to clean, "well...guess you could call it a feeling."
"A feeling eh?" He scratched his wrinkled chin, "We all got a feeling like that, I'd say. What with that old prophecy and all, wah-hah-hah!" He squints, "You gotta know by now that's just a legend, right son?"
"yeah, i know all about that." His hand went to his vertebrae, and when he looked back, something in his eyelights almost semed to glimmer back at Gerson, "but it doesn't have to do with that story. something in me just...i think i'll get to see it someday. even if it's only once." He glanced anxiously away, "that must sound weird of course. i mean not much i can do to get us there, right?"
The turtle put a hand on his shoulder, "You can do more then you'd think, Sans. I know you got the stuff in you to make it happen."
Sans chuckled, and his cheekbones seemed to heat, sweat coming off his skull, "aw, gramps..."
"Hey now, wouldn't be so embarassed if I wasn't right! Wah-hah-hah!" Gerson patted his shoulder, "I bet outta all folks, it'd be a kid like you who helped get us out." He winked, "I'd bet my own soul on it, that's for sure."
The skeleton just grinned, as he always did, but his gaze shifted away from the sudden attention. "thanks..."
"Don't thank me! You just start thinking up some ways, son!" Gerson said with a laugh, "If you wanna make that feeling of yours come true that is, eh?"
"yeah..." Sans said with a nod. Gerson could already see the gears turning in his head as he went back to polishing apples till they gleamed against the crystal light.
And best be sure, he was the first to celebrate when Sans showed him his acceptance letter.