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Story As the Story Crumbles | Updated: March 25th

Sanity VirusTransformers Movie Verse AU
Megatron X Optimus Prime

Please be advised that this story does have:
Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Major Character Death



  • Beginning
    He leaned heavily on the balcony's railing, heaving a sigh. It had been a long day and the following were to only get longer. His dim blue optics drifted over the growing city with little more than weariness and defeat dancing in them. Try as they might, Cybertron would never be what it once was. Not in any of their lifetimes, nor in those of the next generations. He wasn't sure if he was content with how humble his race had become or sad that it had come to this. He shifted his stance, from forearm to elbow so he could bury his face into his hand. A hand stroked up from the base of his shoulder blade to nape of his neck, a thumb stroking the strained wires there. Optimus Prime pushed off the balcony's railing in favor of leaning into both the hand on his neck and the chest behind him.

    "You need to quit doing this to yourself, Beloved," a deep, rumbling voice spoke softly from behind him as an arm wrapped around his chest and a face pressed into his shoulder. Optimus reached up, placing a hand on Megatron's faceplate. "You'll run yourself into an early grave."

    Optimus gave a soft huff in amusement, relishing in the unconditional love he could feel surging over the abused sparkbond. They each had died once and had made it back before the other could truly lose their mind. The war had finally ended and all Cybertronians were now focused on repairing what had been thought to be unrepairable. A bite on his neck - hard enough to cause pain but gentle enough not to mark - brought Optimus from his thoughts and back to Megatron. He shifted enough to look into his sparkmate's optics, curious. His spark seized at the look in Megatron's red optics.

    Concern and worry both dominated the larger mech's unwavering gaze. Optimus found himself trying to slow his venting. He wasn't sure what had caused the reaction but he knew it hadn't been a good emotion. He gave a weak smile, returning his hand to Megatron's faceplate. "I am sorry, Megatron. It has just been a long day."

    Megatron kissed Optimus's temple, the kiss lingering for comfort being sought from both parties. When Megatron pulled away, he offered, "It has been for both of us. Let's go recharge."

    Megatron stepped back and to the side. He kept an arm around Optimus's waist as he led the red and blue mech back into their quarters. It was simplistic, small. Megatron remembered a time when he had wanted elegance, the largest place Cybertron had to offer, but, when the war had finally ended and the rebuilding of Cybertron had started, he had found the smaller quarters had been much more pleasurable. The greatest factor had been how much it had put both veteran mechs at ease. Sometimes it was hard to push aside war taught habits and paranoias.

    The berth was soft and warm. Optimus climbed in first, his systems already shutting down to rest. Megatron helped the sleepy mech settle before going around and climbing in on the other side. Optimus rolled over and pressed his faceplate over Megatron's spark chamber. Megatron wrapped his arms securely around Optimus, humming a tone that seemed to gently vibrate his entire being. It was something they had both discovered had helped a peaceful recharge after so long in war. Soon Optimus was in a deep recharge and Megatron finally gave in to the need to recharge as well.


    "The attacks are getting more frequent," Sideswipe commented, leaning heavily on the table covered in datapads and holocubs. "Do we even know where they're coming from?"

    Optimus sighed, rubbing at his optics as Ratchet replied, "No. From what we can tell, it's some kind of virus. There hasn't been enough time to analyze the compound fully to tell what the full effects are."

    Sunstreaker huffed, pushing off the wall. "I can tell you the effects, Doc. They turn good bots bad. Make them do things they would never do."

    "We don't know that for sure," Ratchet countered but Sunstreaker barked back, "I watched Arcee get her spark ripped out by her own sparkmate! I know for a fact that that would never happen! Their bond was too strong!"

    "And yet that only restates what little we already know!" Ratchet shouted back. "We need time to know the true effects of-"

    "Enough." Megatron stepped forward, glaring at the two mechs. Both silenced immediately, though Sunstreaker still glared at Ratchet. "Whether or not we know the true effects, we do know how it's being transferred."

    Ratchet nodded, meeting Megatron's gaze. "As of right now, it's only through fluid. Fresh fluid. Give it a few hours outside of a system and it dies. There's no telling if it'll go air born."

    Megatron nodded. "Then we work to contain the infected. Ironhide, work with Soundwave to set up teams and quadrants to patrol. Starscream, take your Trine and another and patrol the skies till the ground teams and quadrants have been set up. Then follow Soundwave and Ironhide's schedule as they need you."

    All mechs nodded their acknowledgement before leaving. Megatron looked over to Optimus and knew the other wasn't reading the data pad in his hand. He dismissed the rest with the flick of his wrist and waited for them to leave. As the door clicked shut, Megatron pulled the datapad out of Optimus's loose grip before engulfing Optimus in his arms. He more felt then heard the sigh that escaped from Optimus's vents as his frame relaxed. Megatron placed a chaste kiss on Optimus's temple, offering, "You could have stayed home today. I can hand this."

    Optimus shook his head. "I am losing many friends, both old and new. If I can aid in stopping this virus, then I will."

    Megatron stole a kiss before he pulled away. "I'm going to visit the building sites. Stay here and go through some of these. I want you to take it easy today. Nothing more strenuous than reading useless information."

    Optimus laughed weakly and Megatron took it. Kissing Optimus one last time, he left the room. Optimus sighed and picked up the datapad Megatron had pulled from his grip. He scrolled back to the top, intent on truly understanding what he had been reading but he had barely read the first line when he was interrupted.

    The screech was the only warning he got as the windows shattered. His head whipped around and he engaged his cannon without even thinking. A Cybertronian mass collided with his side and his hip caught the edge of the table, both of them sliding across the tabletop and over the other side. Datapads and holocubes scattered in every direction as the table tipped and collapsed overtop them. Optimus's left shoulder burned but he ignored it in favor of dealing with the attacking Cybertronian mass. Optimus managed to land a right hook to the side of the mech's face, giving him enough of an opening to kick the form off and take aim. The door burst open, drawing the assailant's attention away from Optimus for the millisecond it took to register what he was seeing.

    The Cybertronian was Soundwave, but he looked damaged, frozen in the middle of withering in pain. Limbs were twisted in painful directions and broken in others. Energon dripped from the wounds that grew with each movement. The worse part of it all was Soundwave's face.

    The mech never had much in the way for expressions but the way his face was distorted...Optimus had to look away before he purged his tanks. Even after all that he had seen, it was a gruesome sight.

    "Optimus!"

    Optimus cursed himself as Soundwave collided with him, slamming him into the floor again. Optimus was able to get an arm free to keep Soundwave from ripping into his throat with serrated teeth. A shadow covered them both and suddenly, Soundwave was crashing into the opposite wall.

    Megatron fired at Soundwave. It was a direct hit to the spark and Soundwave crumbled. Tension seemed to escape the room as Megatron lowered his cannon and turned to Optimus. "Are you-"

    Megatron was tackled by Soundwave and the sound was excruciating. Megatron was able to throw Soundwave off as his back hit the floor before the infected mech could scratch or bite him and promptly decapitated Soundwave. The frame crashed to the floor unceremoniously as Megatron straightened up. He retracted his blade and turned to Optimus, offering the mech a hand. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe came rushing in. Sunstreaker went directly to Soundwave and Sideswipe walked over as Megatron pulled Optimus to his feet.

    "Ironhide's in pretty bad shape," Sideswipe stated without prompt. Optimus gently gripped his burning shoulder. "He's in medical right now, getting cleaned and patched up by Ratchet. He said Soundwave just snapped and attacked him. Rachet said that Ironhide hadn't gotten infect."

    Megatron nodded, his gaze going to Optimus. He placed a hand on the small of Optimus's back, offering when dim blue optics looked up at him, "Let's get you to medic."

    Optimus nodded.


    "You're clear as well," Ratchet stated, reading the scanner in his hand. "The energon that had splattered you was merely surface exposure. Nothing to worry about."

    Optimus sighed, relief flooding his spark and mingling with the relief Megatron was feeling. Megatron slid off the medical berth. "How much longer till you have a way to counteract the virus."

    Ratchet shook his head. "Until I figure out what caused it, there's no telling on when I'll come up with a way to counteract it."

    "We will need to keep everyone on high alert," Optimus voiced. "We cannot allow this to become wide spread nor can we allow it to pull us apart."

    "Agreed." Megatron turned to Ratchet. "How long till Ironhide is ready for a debrief?"

    Ratchet shook his head. "Soundwave had done some serious damage. It was a miracle Ironhide was conscious when he was brought in and still clean of the virus."

    Megatron nodded. He turned to Optimus. The red and blue mech met his gaze with a tired one. Megatron cupped Optimus's faceplate. "I'll be back when things settle. Get some rest."

    Optimus nodded, accepting the kiss before watching Megatron leave. With a sigh, he settled back onto the medical berth, rolling onto his good shoulder. Ratchet walked over and stated, "If you need anything, just call."

    Optimus nodded, already halfway into recharge.

    He woke with a start, feeling as if he had only drifted into recharge. He sat up, wincing as his healing shoulder and hip protested to the movement but didn't hinder him. He looked around the dim medic bay trying to decipher what woke him. He turned his head to the door and saw that it was partially open and harsh whispers were emanating from the hallway. Sliding off the berth, he rubbed his sore shoulder briefly before dropping his hand to the side.

    The closer he got, the more he could make out and he recognized his sparkmate's voice long before the words made sense.

    "-ther time," Megatron was growling, sounding as if he was trying very hard to keep his voice down. "I won't repeat myself."

    "Well, that attitude will get you nowhere," Ratchet replied. Optimus reached out to pulled the door open as the medic commented, "You have to come back in the-"

    The door opened and Optimus stepped back. Ratchet jerked back at the sudden appearance of Optimus standing before him. He frowned. "You should be in a deep recharge."

    Optimus gave a half shrug, feeling like a youngling getting reprimanded. "I woke up."

    Megatron chuckled and Optimus looked at him, smiling gentle. But the smile faltered. Something was off with Megatron but he wasn't sure what. Megatron held out his hand to Optimus and Optimus took it as Megatron offered, "Let's go home."

    "Optimus should-"

    "We're going home," Megatron growled.

    Optimus frowned, retorting, "Megatron."

    Megatron looked at him and he seemed to calm instantly. He gave a tired smile. "Sorry, Beloved. It's just been a hard day."

    "Then you should be home."

    Megatron shook his head. "Not without you."

    Optimus looked to Ratchet, the question in his optics. Ratchet sighed, waving the pair off. "Fine. But Optimus is to rest. Nothing till past mid day."

    "Nothing till past mid day," Optimus agreed.

    Megatron jerked his hand gentle, urging Optimus to follow. Optimus fell into step beside Megatron. Megatron gave Optimus's hand a gentle squeeze and started on the path home. Optimus was pleasantly surprised when they continued walking. It had been a long time since he had walked home with Megatron. Most of the time, they were too exhausted to think of covering the distance by foot. The distance would tax his hip but it would be gentler than shifting forms. Optimus wondered if that was why they were walking.

    They reached their apartment half an hour later. Optimus was exhausted, limping, and already slipping in and out of recharge. Megatron had, somewhere along their walk, wrapped his arm around Optimus's waist to support him. The room lit up in a gentle glow when they entered. The pair was silent as Megatron led the way to the bedroom. He turned the lights on before taking Optimus over to the berth. Vents hissed as Optimus cringed from the pain in his hip. Megatron placed a gentle hand over the ache, catching Optimus's dim gaze. Optimus couldn't focus enough through the partial recharge to read the emotions flickering through Megatron's gaze. He reached out, cupping Megatron's cheek. Megatron leaned into it, covering Optimus's hand with his own.

    "No matter what happens, you know that I'll always love you?" Megatron asked, his voice soft.

    Optimus frowned, forcing himself out of his haze as best he could. He had little success. The fog of exhaustion was winning. "Of course. You would never do anything that states others."

    Megatron dropped his gaze to Optimus's spark and Optimus looked over the crouching mech, wondering where this had come from. He must have voiced his concern because Megatron breathed, "The virus is spreading."

    Optimus's hand clenched on Megatron's cheek subconsciously as Optimus tensed. Megatron looked up at him with sorrow filled optics. As a sense of foreboding settled in his spark, Optimus snapped, "We will get through this, Megatron. We have made it out alive from much worse."

    Megatron gave a faint smile as he captured a kiss. Optimus felt himself being pulled back into recharge as the kiss continued soft and gentle. Megatron broke the kiss and Optimus wasn't quite sure when the larger mech had laid him down. Megatron kissed over Optimus's spark, muttering, "Sleep well, my Beloved."

    Optimus gave the hand he still held a squeeze. It was a weak one but Megatron seemed to understand as he squeezed back gently. As Megatron's hand left his, Optimus fought the recharge urging him to sleep, watching as his sparkmate looked back in the doorway, before completely leaving.

    His recharge was restless. He became fully aware with a start, feeling completely worn and sore. He sat up stiffly, careful of his right shoulder and left hip as both complained. He froze.

    Something was off.

    He looked around, his optics taking in the still dark window, the closed door, and the empty berth beside him. It took him a moment to figure the time and yet he didn't trust that it was just before the sun rose. He shifted so his feet hung over the edge of the berth and waited for the strain to subside.

    He focused on the closed door, the sound of something breaking muffled by the solid door and good seal. Optimus stood up, favoring his right leg more than his left as he hobbled over to the door and opened it. Something flew at him and he ducked, automatically engaging his canon. He would have raised it too if he hadn't caught sight of Megatron first.

    The red optic mech was furious, trashing the sitting area in a rage. Most things were overturned, sliced into multiple pieces, and smashed underfoot. Optimus had to his cannon to disengage. It was a rage he hadn't seen since the war and it honestly scared the Prime. Taking the courage that most Autobots still remember him harboring, he stepped out into the chaos, ignoring the twinge in his hip and the fear in his spark.

    Megatron threw something at the far wall that shattered, peppering both their forms in debris. Optimus reached out, clasping a hand on Megatron's arm as he choked, "Megatron."

    The blade was at his throat before either of them could fully process it but the manic in Megatron's gaze had been there long enough for Optimus to see it. Recognition and guilt quickly overtook the manic, burying it as the blade disengaged.

    "Optimus," came the strangled apology. The red and blue mech found himself being engulfed by Megatron's arms and he wrapped his own arms around Megatron's slightly larger form, his face buried into Megatron's neck. "I'm so sorry, Beloved. I was-it's-I don't know what came over me."

    Optimus tightened his grip. "Have you slept, Megatron?"

    "I..."

    Optimus sighed, pulling back. "Is there anything you have to do first thing?"

    Megatron had already given in before he had even answered the question. It wasn't hard to see where this was going as he gave Optimus a gentle smile. "No. And I believe a decent recharge will help."

    Optimus accepted the kiss before pulling away and towards the bedroom. Megatron followed without a word, closing the door behind them both. They settled down to recharge but Optimus found recharging on his hip was much more painful than on his shoulder. Megatron didn't seem to mind that the positions had changed slightly. He still wrapped an arm around Optimus and fell into a deep recharge almost instantly. Optimus hadn't been sure if he could even make it into a deep enough recharge to rest fully. Still, he found himself waking without remembering when he had fallen asleep. The berth beside him was empty but still warm. He smiled gently and got up.

    His shoulder and hip were still sore but the strained joints were getting better. He walked without any trouble. He entered the sitting room and had to pause in the doorway as the fear from just a few hours ago gripped him again. His hand latched onto the doorframe and cracked the paint. The room was clean, spotless, and repaired. A spike of fear shot through Optimus as he wondered frantically if the previous night had occurred.

    Movement drew his attention elsewhere and he smiled gently to Megatron. The mech was leaning against a doorframe, arms crossed and smirking. Optimus released the doorframe with some difficulty and walked over. The fear was still there, still just as strong, even though he knew it was irrational. Megatron wouldn't hurt him, wouldn't harm him. He knew that in his spark. Megatron seemed to have known the turmoil in his spark and captured a chaste kiss briefly as the smirk fell. "I'm needed back at HQ. You're welcome to tag along but, if Ratchet gets wind you left this place, it'll be your own aft."

    Optimus chuckled, accepting the chance to be playful. It aided in ignoring the fear. "I thought you liked my aft to be exclusive."

    The grin on Megatron's face shouldn't have scared him, shouldn't have reminded him of the times of war. He shouldn't have even made it to the other side of the room as quickly as he had while tripping over the furniture. None the less, he found him back crashing with the far wall as he tried desperately to stop the hyperventing and to disengage the cannon beamed to Megatron's spark. Fear and concern were clear on Megatron's expression as he moved forward slowly. He stopped at the end of Optimus's charged cannon and slowly forced it to lower. His expression never changed as he reached up with his other hand to cup Optimus's cheek.
 
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Random Event 1An Assortment of Writings
These were all from the first event I did. I no longer have access to what the event was originally labeled and am simply pulling from my tumblr archive. Every item title is the given prompt. Some are song, some are word or quote. A number had word limits whether it was a minimum or an exact.

Be advised:
Some are interlaced with fandoms.
Some can be spooky,
If you find one that needs to have any other sort of warning, please let me know. I have not reread these as I posted them as of the date on this post.


  • As the world dissolved around the group as the portal came down around them to take the ground away from beneath their feet, he closed his eyes. The inverting left him reeling and, for the briefest of moments, panic rushed through him. Not from his rapid decent possibly ending in a shattering smack against the ground several hundred feet now above his head, but from the oncoming battle he was dropping into. He snapped his eyes open and his companion that could fly came to intercept him as he remembered that he was not alone in this; the 16 others around him were there to support him and just as ready for this fight as he was.
 
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October 2016Monthly Writing Prompts
There is a 100 word minimum to complete the prompt and an alternative 1000 word minimum. I keep with the alternative word minimum.

Be advised:
Some are interlaced with fandoms.
Some can be spooky,
If you find one that needs to have any other sort of warning, please let me know. I have not reread these as I posted them as of the date on this post.


  • His breath curled before his face, visible in the cold fall air as he sighed. He watched it with tired eyes, body laden with more than just the pack on his back and the winter cloths keeping him warm. The sky above was barely turning from night to day without a cloud in the sky. Even the last few stars that he could see beyond the branches and remaining leaves seemed to wink goodbye at him as he turned his attention from the sky above.

    As the last of his breath dissipated, he turned enough to look back at his companions. Two were standing about, patiently waiting with packs fully packed. Two were near the fire pit adjusting something on the younger of two’s pack. Another stood up from where one of the tents had been, slinging their pack onto a shoulder as they stood. He met their gaze briefly before looking over the others once more.

    “Ready?” he called out cautiously.

    There was a collection of nodded affirmations but the one still working on the pack spoke up. “Two seconds.”

    He nodded in turn as the others started to move towards him.

    A wind rustled the changing leaves and bare branches above their head. He looked up, watching as leaves were gently pulled from their branches and sent dancing towards the trodden path below.

    “Alright, let’s go.”

    He looked down at the last duo to see them joining the others before he turned and started down the path. Silence hung around them, filled only with the sound of crunching leaves beneath their feet and the wind playing with the treetops. The silenced stayed for quite some time as the sun crept higher into the sky till, at last, sleep had released them completely and a few in the group found topics to expand upon. He stayed at the front of the group, not feeling the need to converse with any of them.

    It seemed that others had a different idea, though.

    “How long have we been out here?” a soft voice asked from his left. He glanced over, finding himself looking at the girl that had been packing near one of the tent sites.

    “I lost count,” he confessed, looking ahead again. “A couple of months, probably.”

    She fell silent beside him, the chatter behind them as soft as their conversation had been. They had learned not to be too loud.

    “Think we’ll come across more supplies soon?”

    The weight on his shoulders seemed to grow. “I hope so.”

    She slipped her arm around his, resting her head against his shoulder briefly as she sidled up against his side. “Me too.” She raised her head off his shoulder. She glanced back at the others, specifically to the one that had being aided with their pack. “You should talk to him.”

    He chuckled, looking down at her with a tired expression. “Why should I do that?” He glanced back. “He’s perfectly ok not knowing.”

    Her grip around his arm tightened as she glared at him. “But you’re not.” Her expression fell. “Please, Warrick. It would be nice to see something happy before this all ends.”

    He looked down at her but his own expression showed nothing more than exhaustion. “I can’t, Viera. Jaden does not need that.” He couldn’t help glancing back. “Not now.”

    He watched as Jaden laughed softly at something the older man walking beside him had said. He felt Viera slip from his arm before he looked at her. She was looking at him with a strange expression. He frowned. “What?”

    “Warrick, I–”

    The snap of a twig shot through the trees like a crack of thunder. The entire group froze, eyes wide and instantly turning to the surrounding trees. He reached out, slowly pressing Viera back towards the group that was huddling together on the center of the trail on the leaves. At first, there was nothing, and they stood packed together in the cold fall air for a long time without speaking.

    He was the first to see it.

    There, at the edge of his vision, a shape appeared: a mass of fog that vanished when he looked directly at it. He gave an involuntary shudder as he watched out the peripheral of his vision the creature getting closer, blipping in and out of existence and changing location as it got closer. At least, he hoped there was only one.

    They all jumped when the thing suddenly appeared before them, pressed up against the edge of the trail in the leaves. None of them made a sound as they all stared in horror at the mass pressing against an invisible barrier protecting them from the creature’s touch.

    It was a grayish white, like fog at the edge of morning. It had a shape that was ever changing, wisping away like fog does only for the main mass of fog to never change density. The thing’s eyes were like shaped onyx, black and shiny without really seeming like eyes.

    For what felt like an eternity it stared at them, reaching for them only to fail. Eventually, the thing moved on as if it had either grown bored or had gotten distracted. He wasn’t sure but he felt his companions relax around him.

    He knew better, could see the faint wisps of the other creatures now forming around them. The other creatures kept their distance, waiting.

    Viera tugged on his arm, gaining his attention. He looked away for only an instant but it was all that was needed.

    He woke with frost coating the fur of his hood. His breath was visible before his face in the freezing night air as he carefully pushed himself upright. He rubbed at his head, shaking away the lingering feeling that he was forgetting something.

    He was used to it.

    Pulling out a leather bound book, he opened to the bookmarked page and stared down at the list. Fifty-three names were scrawled there, all but five crossed out. He looked around.

    He was alone.
 
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November 2016Monthly Writing Prompts
There is a 100 word minimum to complete the prompt and an alternative 1000 word minimum. I keep with the alternative word minimum.

Be advised:
Some are interlaced with fandoms.
Some can be spooky,
If you find one that needs to have any other sort of warning, please let me know. I have not reread these as I posted them as of the date on this post.


  • They said that if you saw one, your life was forfeit. I never understood what they had meant by that, never connected the dots till I was older.

    I was told things had changed when I was only two. I don’t remember what had happened nor what life had been like before but I do remember the fear, and the confusion. I remember the quiet games and constant moving. I remember boarded up windows and gray skies and never being able to play outside. I never questioned it.

    I remember the older kids always having issues, the adults always getting into fights. I never understood what they were going through, why they had such an issue with it all. It was just how things were.

    That is, till the rainbows started to appear.

    I was 16 when the first one shot across the sky. I had learned from old books about weather phenomena so I knew, scientifically, what caused a rainbow: reflected, refracted, and dispersed white light in water droplets causes the visible spectrum to become visible. To be honest, I had always wanted to see one. But, then, I had always wanted to see the stars and feel the sun against my skin, but when the first rainbow cut across the sky and we were suddenly getting news that it was not a sign of hope, I pushed my hopes of ever seeing something beyond the gray sky to the back of my mind.

    They said that those that had seen the rainbow vanished. No one knows how or why or what even caused the rainbow to appear beneath the gray sky. There had been no rain, no sunlight to reflect within the water droplets, nothing. They’re also saying it wasn’t an isolated incident. With what primitive communication we have, we were getting world that a rainbow had appeared all over the planet at relatively the same time and those that had supposedly glimpsed the phenomenon vanished.

    Many were speculating that those that had seen the rainbows were dead.

    It wasn’t till I was 20 that I questioned this thought. We went four years without the odd rainbows appearing again. At least, in the areas we were traveling in. It seemed the rainbows followed us, though, as word reached us as areas we passed were losing populous. People were blaming the rainbows but no one was giving forth actual testament that rainbows had been appearing.

    Then, one night, something happened that had me disbelieving that thought completely.

    I had gone out. I couldn’t sleep and I was feeling restless. I felt we were staying in one place for too long and felt the urge to move on but I couldn’t leave my family. We were a unit made up of blood and choice. So, I snuck out. By the time you’re 7, you know sneaking out at all is a horrible idea. It’s drilled into you by the ripe age of 16 to never be out at night alone and by the time you were my age, you wouldn’t even give it a passing thought. It was just nature.

    But something was urging me outside and so I slipped out. I remember the adrenaline in my chest, stealing my breath as I took in the world that was supposed to be pitch black with night. Instead, it was illuminated by plants and animals that glowed. I could see as clearly in what we called night as I could in what we called day. It was magnificent. I had no idea that the plant life we barely saw in our travels could do such things at night.

    I wandered far in my awe, the need for sleep long forgotten. I eventually found myself in the top of a tree, looking towards the once gray sky. There, my eyes caught glimpses of starry night beyond brief breaks in the gray sky. It was then that the realization hit me that the gray sky we knew was only a layer of cloud. How odd that such a thing created such a gray atmosphere during the day and such a vibrant scene at night.

    It was addicting.

    After that point, there was hardly a night that I didn’t sneak out. I got really good at hiding my excursions. The only people that noticed the change in my demeanor because of it were my dad, my closest sister, and my best friend. My dad was the first one to notice. He noticed after the second night and cornered me. He didn’t know what I was doing but he could tell something had changed and he was worried. I assured him it was nothing more than just finally sleeping better, which wasn’t a lie. At that point, I had crashed after both outings and had, for once, slept without worry. That didn’t help my addition.

    My best friend and my closest sister cornered me two weeks later. I had gone out a total of ten times at this point. My sister had caught sight of me sneaking out twice and my best friend had noticed the change about a week in. My best friend had gone to my sister first before they came to me. They wanted to make sure I was going to be ok, that I was safe. I assured them but I couldn’t tell them why I went out. While I was willing to risk my own life to catch glimpses of the stars and see the beauty of the night, I was not willing to risk either of theirs.

    It had been futile to even attempt.

    A month and a half after they had cornered me, my sister and best friend somehow managed to follow me out without waking anyone or me noticing till we were already a decent pace away from where the others were resting. I had tried to urge them back but they could be as stubborn as me and so I showed them the wonders I had grown addicted to.

    My sister wasn’t fond of climbing the trees like my best friend and I were so there were several nights that my sister would settle in a clearing to watch the skies as my best friend and I settled in the canopy.

    It was up in those branches that my best friend kissed me. It was up in those trees that my best friend became my life partner. It was out in that night that the three of us made a pact to always keep an eye out for others itching to slink from the group and get away at night. The night could be just as dangerous as the gray day. There were still creatures and deadly plants and there were several nights we came back with injuries we had to hide.

    And still we heard tales of the rainbows.

    When I was 22, I had a falling out from my family. It had been a massive mistake on my part but what else was I suppose to do. My partner, my sister, and I had come across a child lost in the woods. We couldn’t just leave them out there. So, at the risk of everything, we brought the child with us and explained to the group how we had come across her and why we had come across her.

    We were kicked out.

    The group split nearly in half at that point. My dad came with me, as did my younger siblings and some of my older. Those too steeped in the old ways went on their way. Those that were open to what we had done stayed. In the end, we went from a comfortable group of nearly 60 to a group just barely over 20. My partner’s family had disowned them but my dad was there to state that my partner was already part of our family so it didn’t matter.

    We didn’t go out that night.

    I can’t remember when it shifted for us but we started traveling at night. We realized that we could travel farther and longer at night. We got used to the plant and animal life. We got complacent.

    My sister had taken the child in but my partner and I helped her raise the child. Malnourished and clearly abandoned, the three of us worked hard to make sure the child regained a healthy weight and proper clothing. Soon the child was playing with the others, keeping up and even surpassing them in some of their games. It was amazing.

    It should have been our first warning.

    It was as the night was drawing to a close five years later and my partner and I were sitting outside of our shelter as the others settled that we saw it.

    I don’t know how to describe it but it was definitely very similar to how it had been to see the stars for the first time.

    A magnificent rainbow arched across the sky as night turned to day. Full and vibrant, my partner and eye stared at it in awe as we clung to each other. It had been years since we had any communication with any others and yet the fear from years ago was still there. We watched it till it faded away and even then we sat there shaking, clinging to each other. But I found that I wasn’t shaking out of fear. As I looked into my partner’s eyes, I realized it was joy, just as it was in my partner’s eyes. That rainbow had filled us with a joy neither of us understood.

    We found a short while later that my sister and the child had seen it as well. It was shortly thereafter that the child divulged that it had been abandoned because it had seen a rainbow just like that one before. I looked from my sister to my partner and the same resolve was in their eyes as the resolve in my heart.

    I woke my dad and informed him what had happened. I told him the four of us were going to slip away while the others were asleep to see where these rainbows had come from. I could feel the urge in my bones. My dad had wrapped us all in tight hugs but somehow our commotion had woken the others. We told them what had happened and, to our immense surprise and relief, the group wanted to go with us. So, our path changed and the following night, we made our way towards the origin of the rainbows.

    It wasn’t till two weeks later that I had an epiphany. They had once said that if you see a rainbow, your life is forfeit. I never understood that till I watched the 15th rainbow I had ever seen cross the morning horizon. Seeing the rainbows filled you with immense joy and peace as well as an urge to follow them. It was hard to resist and that first morning on our trek had proven my instinct correct and the rest of our party had caught their first glimpse of a rainbow as the night turned to day.

    It was about three years later when we finally reached the place where the rainbows had been coming from. We had caught sight of it about a month back but now we were walking right up to the edge. I don’t know what this massive structure is, nor these people that are coming to greet us are, but I do know that, whatever those rainbows had been, they had been bringing us to a place of hope. The rainbows had brought us to a place we could settle and call home.

    If anyone finds this and this massive structure is no longer here, look for the rainbows. When you see one, you are forfeiting your life. You are forfeiting your life for a better one, for a safer one; for a life out from under the gray skies of planet Earth.
 
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Random Event 2An Assortment of Writings
These were all from an event I did. I no longer have access to what the event was originally labeled and am simply pulling from my tumblr archive. Every item title is the given prompt. They were either a blended genre or a word, all with word limits.


  • His grip on the flashlight increased as he tried to swallow. The hallway before them was dark and there was an ominous feeling even just looking. The group pressed close to his back.

    “Man, why are schools so creepy at night?” one of the boys near the back of the group whined.

    “I don’t like this,” the girl against his back muttered. He chanced a look at her as one of the boys standing with him flicked their own flashlight on. Her gaze was ahead even though she was almost completely hidden behind him.

    He offered her a soft smile. “This is the last hallway. We’ll get out of this just fine.”

    The boy that had turned on his flashlight hummed in affirmation. “There’s nothing to be frightened about.” The boy looked at him. The boy’s glasses hid whatever his eyes were giving away. He cursed the boy’s perfect poker face. “Do you want to take the lead, Andrew, or shall I?”

    “I’m take lead, Neal,” he replied, offering a soft smile. “After all, you’re words are pretty accurate. There’s nothing to be frightened about.”

    “Says the two fearless!” someone complained from the back of the group. Andrew didn’t bother to glance back as he took the first step forward. A hush fell over the group beyond a few whimpers here and there. Neal matched his pace and the group fell into step behind them. It was slow going. Andrew was growing concerned and a glance at Neal assured him Neal was thinking the same thing.

    “How likely is it that this hallway went untouched?” Andrew asked in a low voice. The girl that had been pressed up against his back had moved to his other arm, basically placing him between the girl and Neal.

    “Highly unlikely,” Neal commented, his hand tightening around the gun in his hand. “We’d best prepare for an ambush.”

    Andrew stopped to pull his gun from his back when there was a noise from up ahead. They all froze, listening intently. It happened again and Andrew pulled his gun around.

    The swarm came much quicker than he had anticipated. He let loose a barrage as he pushed the girl sideways, Neal bringing up his own gun and firing. A good number in the group screamed as those with weapons wielded them. It was utter mass chaos and Andrew shouted over the noise, “Back towards the stairs!”

    The group slowly gave up ground as Andrew, the girl, and Neal were cut off from the rest of them. Andrew threw a wild look at the group, catching an underclassman’s gaze. The boy looked to be freshman but his gaze was sharp, clear, and that was all Andrew needed. “Try two levels down! Book it if you can! The exits just at the other end of the hall!”

    The boy nodded and took control. The noise was becoming too much for Andrew to relay anything else.

    “Neal!”

    Andrew’s head snapped around, staring in horror as Neal went down. The girl next to Andrew moved to aid him but Andrew wrapped a numb arm around her, shooting two zombies in the face. “We can’t, Lily!” he shouted, his throat tight. “There’s too much!”

    “We can’t leave him!” she screamed, taking out five zombies in her fear and her anger.

    He couldn’t argue with that, didn’t want to argue with that. Swiftly turning her about, he quickly reloaded before he started to clear a path to Neal. It was slow going but they eventually got to the point where Neal had been. It was Lily that pointed at the classroom. They were able to clear the way and make it in. They barred the door shut and Andrew stepped towards the center of the room as Lily stayed pressed against the barred door.

    “Neal?” Andrew called, worry lacing his voice. There was a sound on the other side of the teacher’s desk and Andrew stepped carefully around it. “Neal!”

    Andrew came to Neal’s side, his hands instantly shooting out and checking the lanky teen over. Neal tried blocking his attempt but there was no real intent behind it. He did give a goodhearted glar1e at the burlier teen. “I’m fine, Andrew. It was just for show.”

    Andrew’s hands stilled, before he blinked down at his gun. It took a moment of staring before his brain registered he had a paint gun slung around his shoulder. He looked at the pistol that Neil was sporting and saw that it too was a paint gun. He suddenly burst out laughing, his entire body shaking. “Holy cow,” he breathed between laughs. He watched Neal chuckle right along with him, rubbing at some fake blood on his face.

    “What did you think?”

    Andrew nearly jumped out of his skin as Neal brought up the pistol out of reflex. Thankfully he wasn’t trigger happy as the class president for the sophomore class smiled down at them expectantly. She grinned, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Can we create a haunted house, or what?”

    There was a snort from Lily. Andrew looked to her to see her expression alive in a way that he hadn’t seen in a while. He looked down at Neal and saw the same look.

    “That was sure impressive, Robins,” Lily commented, walking over. She placed a heavy hand on Robins shoulder and brought her face close to the smaller girl’s, her expression blank and yet murderous at the same time. “Don’t do it again.”

    Robins just grinned. “Oh, so going to. I think we could make some real bank with this stuff.”

    “Just no more students as guinea pigs, Robins,” Neal commented, standing as he pressed his glasses higher up his nose.

    “Yeah,” Andrew added, beaming. “We don’t need more ghosts wandering the halls.”

    Robins gave a bark of a laugh as Lily shot him a glare. It was totally worth it as he saw Neal trying hard not to laugh out of the corner of his eye.
 
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December 2016Monthly Writing Prompts
There is a 100 word minimum to complete the prompt and an alternative 1000 word minimum. I keep with the alternative word minimum.

Be advised:
Some are interlaced with fandoms.
Some can be spooky,
If you find one that needs to have any other sort of warning, please let me know. I have not reread these as I posted them as of the date on this post.


  • The gravel crunched underneath as he sat down heavily. Groaning at the movement, he grabbed at the wound on his side, hissing at the pain it caused. He didn’t let up the pressure but he did relax, leaning his head back against the stone wall behind him.

    He chuckled weakly. “It’s funny,” he commented, eyes half lidded. “I always thought we would make it farther than this.”

    He closed his eyes as a breeze washed over him, pulling at his hair, at his face, as gently as it did the trees above him. He opened his eyes, taking in the glimpses of blue sky beyond. “Guess I was wrong.”

    His expression turned sad, mournful even, as he settled more into the wall. “But, hey, least we made it this far, right, brother?”

    He glanced over at the prone shape beside him in a worse condition than he was. There wasn’t much sign of life but he could tell that his brother was still there, still alive, if just barely.

    He turned his gaze skyward again.

    The wind rustled through the leaves again and he closed his eyes. The sound of the nature around them was soothing after such a hard trek, after such a hard moment in their life that he relished the peace.

    When he opened his eyes again, the sun was setting and the sky had gone from a vibrant blue to a darkening orange. He couldn’t bring himself to care.

    “I remember mom telling us about a legend,” he commented offhandedly, gaze still skyward. “The one about the phoenix and how it could be reborn after it burst into ashes. How life was just like the cycle of the phoenix. From the moment your born, it’s nothing but movement and information. Smoldering determination and white hot emotions. Life just throws everything it has at you to see if you’ll rise from the ashes or go down in a burning ball of misery.”

    A bird passed overhead, chirping happily. “I remember thinking I understood that legend when we had followed dad’s footsteps. Life was suddenly alight with passion. Every day was high paced, ending like a candle does when the sun went down. Then mom died and I believed I had come to understand the legend that much more. Suddenly the emotions were too much to bear. I couldn’t take it. I was so over stimulated by them all that I became numb. Numb until, suddenly, determination was lighting my way again. And suddenly the emotions I felt were burning hot and fueled my motivation. Our motivation.”

    The sun reached a point in its descent that rays of light cut through the trees, illuminating all the particles in the air and illustrating just where the leaves fell in the beams of light. He watched as the beams, one by one, faded as the sun continued to set.

    “I thought that the legend we were chasing had no similarities to the phoenix,” he confessed. “I saw no need to try and compare the two. A phoenix is a myth. There was no bird that could die in flames only to be reborn from the ashes. But then we saw things.” Memories flashed through his mind’s eye, things he wished he had never seen, never heard. But with those memories, those choices, had come people they cared about and who cared about them and his expression softened. He couldn’t bring himself to regret any of it. “We saw things that no human should have ever witnessed. We saw things that would have broken others, would have destroyed others. But they didn’t destroy us. Somehow, through all of this, we never turned to ash and stayed ash. We were reborn. Over and over again. We got back up, dusted ourselves off, and kept moving. We kept chasing a legend.”

    The sun’s last rays dissipated as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon. The first stars were already making their appearances through the leaves. “We kept moving, kept going. Kept trying. But no matter how far we got, how hard we ran, that legend remained out of reach, out of touch.”

    The pressure on his wound dissipated as his arm gave out. He paid it no mind as he closed his eyes, face still pointed skyward. “We discovered horrible truths about that legend and yet we still kept running after it, trying rid ourselves of the information with believing that, once we had captured it, we’d be fine.”

    He opened his eyes and a tear raced down his cheek, another going with it shortly thereafter. “I don’t think mom told us the full legend about the phoenix, brother. I think she was trying to protect us from the truth.”

    He closed his eyes again, another tear falling. “Of how the phoenix’s cycle eventually comes to an end, how it doesn’t last forever. That, once the phoenix has used up all of its energy to reform, it will turn to ashes and never rise again.”

    He found it much harder to open his eyes this time. The wind pulled at his wet cheeks, the air colder than it had been with the sun up. “I think she didn’t want us to go on living with the belief that, at some point, we would wear ourselves out and lose the ability to get back up again, to keep moving. That life loses its spark after living it for too long.”

    He chuckled weakly. “Funny how chasing one legend can lead to the understanding of another.”

    He closed his eyes with the intent of keeping them closed this time. He was so tired. “I’m sorry, Alphonse. I tried. I tried so hard to keep my promise to you and I’ve broken it.” The tears came faster but there were no sobs. Just breathless words. “I want to keep it but I don’t think I can get up after this one, brother. I don’t think we can bounce back after this.”

    “It’s alright, brother,” came the soft, weak voice from the form beside him. “I’m tired too.”

    He forced his eyes open one last time. He smiled, but it felt off. “Think we’ll see mom again?”

    “Yeah,” came the breathy reply. “Yeah, I do.”
 
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January 2017Monthly Writing Prompts
There is a 100 word minimum to complete the prompt and an alternative 1000 word minimum. I keep with the alternative word minimum.

Be advised:
Some are interlaced with fandoms.
Some can be spooky,
If you find one that needs to have any other sort of warning, please let me know. I have not reread these as I posted them as of the date on this post.


  • His leg gave out from under him and he hit the ground hard. He was glad that Tony was the only one there as embarrassment rushed through him, coloring his cheeks and driving him to push himself back up. Calloused hands redirected his motion into a sitting one and he grunted in disdain, grounding out, “I’m fine.”

    “Doesn’t matter,” the inventor retorted, hands moving over the prosthetic. “I want to check the limb.”

    Steve leaned back on his hands, letting out a huff of air. His frustration slowly faded as he watched Tony work with half lidded eyes. A soft wind kicked up and it drew Steve’s gaze away and up. Soft, white clouds slowly drift by as the wind curled around him and he briefly forgot his frustration as he watches the sky.

    Those same calloused hands that had created the prosthetic moved over the stump and across to the other limb. Steve looked down at Tony, bewildered. “What?”

    “Checking to make sure you didn’t break anything else.”

    Steve caught Tony’s wrist, finally gaining the man’s gaze. “I’m fine, Tony.”

    Tony gave him a rather dark, flat look. “Says the man that took a nasty fall while running at full till and can’t even tell that he’s lost a good amount of skin on either arm.”

    Astonished was the only word Steve could find that seemed to fit his own reaction. He pulled his hand back to turn his arm so he could see the underside. Sure enough the part of his forearm that had hit the pavement was scrapped and bleeding, his left even worse. Though, that made sense, seeing it was his left leg that had given out. The moment he registered the wounds, the stinging sensation hit him. His hands twitched and his face scrunched slightly, but he merely lowered his hands, looking to Tony sheepishly. “Got anything to tend these?”

    Tony’s rather dark, flat look was on him again and Steve couldn’t help the nervous grin that crossed his face. “Right. Billionaire and over prepared for just about everything.”

    Tony’s gaze dropped back to the prosthetic, fingers ghosting over the complexity of wires and metal in what Steve could only describe as a nervous tick. “The prosthetic is fine. You should be able to walk.“ The thinner man pushed himself upright before offering a hand to Steve. Steve took it and got up, keeping all his weight on his right leg as he did so. Once he was upright, he slowly added weight, letting out a sigh when the limb and prosthetic took the weight without trouble. Tony turned and stalked off, leaving Steve to catch up.

    Silence settled between them but it was tense. Steve found it hard not to fidget when he stopped in the kitchen at Tony’s directing. Tony disappeared briefly, returning with a first aid kit in hand as well as a tool kit.

    The hydrogen peroxide stung but Steve barely flinched, holding still as Tony poured the chemical over the wounds. The tap was already running cool water and it somehow felt better than the hydrogen peroxide till Tony started using soap and a cloth. Steve bit back a hiss, turning it into a sharp inhale, as he jerked back out of instinct when Tony did something that had actually hurt.

    "Sorry,” the man muttered, “but I have to get the debris out.”

    Steve game him a soft smile, offering, “I know, Tony. It’s ok.”

    The brown eyes he was hoping would flicker his direction never did and the smile fell.

    Once Steve was patched and cleared by Tony, they made their way into the sitting room. Steve settled on one of the couches as Tony went to the liquor cabinet. Steve watched him. It was after a moment when he asked, “Have you ever danced?”

    Tony gave him an owlish look, as if the genius’s brain had failed to properly process the question. “Of course,” Tony voiced skeptically. “Is this a trick question?”

    Steve leaned his head back against the couch. “I’ve never danced.”

    “Never?” That time it was skeptical without the trepidation and Steve couldn’t help the chuckle that rose from his chest. “I highly doubt a soldier like you would have never gone dancing before.”

    “Never,” Steve countered, enjoying this.

    “Not even to prom?”

    Steve snorted, looking at the inventor finding the slighter man leaning against the liquor cabinet with forgotten alcohol behind him. “I was a nerdy lanky kid back in high school.” He shrugged at the disbelief that filled Tony’s expression. “I didn’t hit my growth spurt till college and, really, it was the military that really gave me the body I have now.”

    “I would have taken you,” Tony blurted and Steve laughed. Tony blushed violently but he stood his ground. “I’m sure you would have been a great prom date.”

    Steve flashed him a smile. “Tony, I don’t dance and we grew up in an era where two boys going to prom just wasn’t how things went.”

    Tony pursed his lips before walking towards something behind Steve. Steve lulled his head about, keeping an eye on Tony but losing any real detail on what the man was doing with the odd angle. He didn’t overly mind. He was pretty certain whatever Tony was doing wasn’t going to kill him.

    Music filled the room and Steve’s insides went cold. Ok. Maybe he was wrong. He watched with an expression befitting a deer caught in the headlights Tony cross the room to stand before Steve, hand extended. “Dance with me,” Tony spoke, his voice firm.

    Steve blinked at him. “Tony,” he tried, speaking slowly, “I don’t dance.”

    Tony rolled his eyes. “So? I can teach you.”

    It was Steve’s turn to be skeptical. “Really. You teach me how to dance?” Steve’s chuckle was nothing more than a huff of air. “Tony, I have two left feet. Now more so than ever.”

    Tony nearly growled as he insisted, “Quit being stubborn and just take my hand, Rogers.”

    Steve couldn’t help but laugh. “Alright, alright,” he conceded, taking Tony’s hand. The man pulled him up. “But if I step on your toes, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    Again, Tony rolled his eyes, but this time there was amusement on his face as he pulled Steve a bit closer, positioning Steve’s other hand on his shoulder. “Duly noted.”

    They started out slow and Steve was really, really bad at it. He kept losing track of which foot was to go with which beat in which direction and, while Tony had such great form and was a wonderful lead, Steve found it hard to keep up. Running laps was becoming a lot more preferred over this.

    “Quit thinking so hard,” Tony ground out.

    “What do you expect me to do instead?” Steve asked, tripping slightly and accidentally stepping on Tony’s foot again. Steve winced, rushing a, “Sorry,” before Tony could even chastise him about saying sorry again. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

    Tony gave him a look and the sheepish grin was totally involuntary. Tony sighed and stopped them both. Steve blinked, mildly confused until Tony shifted before him, adjusting his form. Tony met his gaze again and this time it was just as calm and open as when they had started. “Don’t think about your feet,” Tony said. “Just move.”

    Tony took a step to the side. Steve faltered as he went with but he found that his foot went to the right spot without him having to place it there. Tony’s lips twitched. “When you react,” Tony stepped backwards and this time Steve didn’t resist and, again, his foot landed in the right spot, “you’re actually a lot better than you think you are.”

    Tony started a slow dance that had nothing to do with the music and slowly Steve became more and more relaxed in Tony’s guidance. Around the room they spun as Tony led the way. The mishaps became fewer and fewer as they started to chat and laugh and just enjoy the moment. But, just like every moment before, disaster of some sort struck and it turned out to be Steve backing into the coffee table that Tony somehow had spaced. Steve toppled backwards as Tony went with him and the table snapped beneath them. Winded but unharmed, Steve looked down at Tony. Out of instinct bread from the war, he had pulled Tony to his chest, wrapping his arms around the man’s head and shoulders to protect him. He eased his hold on the man, allowing Tony to look at them. There was silence for but a moment before they were both laughing.

    Tony moved away, sitting on his ankles. Steve propped himself up on his elbowed, grinning at the other. “You are a horrible lead. I am never gonna dance again. Not unless it’s in a ballroom or some sort of open space and you are teaching me how to lead.”

    Tony laughed. “Fair enough.”
 
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February 2017Monthly Writing Prompts
There is a 100 word minimum to complete the prompt and an alternative 1000 word minimum. I keep with the alternative word minimum.

Be advised:
Some are interlaced with fandoms.
Some can be spooky,
If you find one that needs to have any other sort of warning, please let me know. I have not reread these as I posted them as of the date on this post.


  • There was laughter over the track of the movie and he was part of it, even as a part of him was kind of sad to miss this section of the movie. Jasper picked up on it instantly, meaning Edward was right behind him. Amber eyes were on him as a mischief smile graced that sculpted face. Adhara rolled his eyes. “What? I happen to like this part. Even if it is cheesy.” There was a collective, teasing, “ooooh” from the majority there and Adhara gave them all a flat look. “You cannot deny me the hopeless romantic notion of finding a partner in a long term friend here.”

    “I can see what’s happening,”
    “What?”


    “He does have a point,” Alice voiced, leaning against Jasper. “It is something many wish for.”

    “And they don’t have a clue.”
    “Who?”


    Edward pressed closer, whispering into Adhara’s ear, “Do you want me to tell Jessica to hold off on getting a date for prom or do you prefer Angela.”

    “They’ll fall in love and here’s the bottom line,”

    Adhara shoved him hard enough that the vampire rolled over the arm of the couch and crashed to the floor. The room roared with laughter as Adhara good-heartedly stuck out his tongue at the one on the floor. Edward gave him a cheeky grin in return.

    “Our trio’s down to two.”
    “Oh.”


    Adhara rubbed at his face, the movie loud enough downstairs that he knew exactly where they were at. The memories of fun times with the entire group assaulted him and he fortified his mental shields to keep Edward out. Thank the gods for small miracles.

    “The sweet caress of twilight,”

    He wanted to be down there with them all, if only to relive those moments. He felt Jasper’s ability wrap confidence and ease around him but he brushed it aside. But no matter how much he wanted to relive those memories, she was down there and he was having a hard enough time just sharing classes with her.

    “There’s magic everywhere,”

    She was the reason he was now alone in his doubts. He and Edward had bonded over their own doubts of ever finding love, of ever having a partner through life. They had settled into being two bachelors and that had been a decent compromise. It had even been great.

    “And with all this romantic atmosphere,”

    At least, until his cousin came to town, leaving him to be the only one doubting love was ever coming for him. After all, how could he find love with what he was?

    “Disaster’s in the air.”

    “I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

    “So many things to tell her,”

    Adhara was impressed he was able to not react to that news. He was also impressed that he hadn’t managed to collapse. It felt as if his entire body had shut down out of shock. How was he managing to stay standing, let alone appearing calm, was beyond him because he certainly didn’t feel calm about this. Though, he didn’t feel much of anything at the moment.

    “But how to make her see,”

    “Oh,” he offered but the flicker of emotion on Edward’s face told him it had sounded odd to him as well.

    “The truth about my past, impossible.”

    “I want you to be my best man.”

    “She’d turn away from me.”

    Adhara had to close his eyes to keep from showing just how much that hurt. When he opened them again, he offered a tight smile, and a tighter, “I can’t.”

    “He’s holding back, he’s hiding,”

    He hadn’t even noticed that he hadn’t thought of Forks in months till he had caught sight of a familiar head of hair in the crowd. He felt a body press closer to his side in the crowd and he leaned into his roommate even as he came to a stop.

    “But what, I can’t decide.”

    Amber eyes met sky blue and Adhara gave himself a moment to take in Edward through the crowd of Pearl Street Mall. It eased some part of him to see that the other appeared to be doing well without him.

    “Why won’t he be the king I know he is?”

    “Adhara?” his other roommate inquired. Adhara turned, ignoring Edward’s voice calling for him. He tried not to react physically to the pain that it caused. He shook his head, urging as they lost Edward in the crowd, “Ignore him.”

    “The king I see inside?”

    “I am not leaving until I know you are bandaged and not going to get jumped again!”

    “Can you feel the love tonight?”

    “And I want you out of my home! God damn it, Edward. You can’t just show up unannounced and expect to be welcomed with open arms!”

    “The peace the evening brings,”

    “And I’m not about to leave when neither of your roommates are here to protect you.” The insinuation left Adhara equal parts flabbergasted and enraged. He narrowed his eyes.

    “The world, for once, in perfect harmony,”

    “Don’t you dare insinuate things you have no business dealing with. They’re not here because I asked them to disappear for the night so that they would be out of danger.” His insinuation was of a different nature but he could see that it hit a nerve in the vamp before him. Good.

    “With all its living things.”

    “Seriously?”

    “Can you feel the love tonight?”

    The word was softly spoken, as if Edward had taken the care to pick it and say it. Adhara let the gentle smile show on his face, thumb running over the worn cover of his mother’s journal, the thing that had answered so many of his own questions that Edward was unknowingly repeating. “Seriously,” he parroted, looking at him. “Apparently, even though I had scent markers, it’s nothing like the Quileute pack’s imprinting. It’s one sided and doesn’t even create emotions. They’re just scent markers.”

    “You needn’t look too far.”

    Edward chuckled, the sound vibrating through him where their ribs were pressed against each other. Edward’s hand tightened comfortingly around Adhara’s. “No wonder you didn’t want to be my best man.”

    “Stealing through the night’s uncertainties,”

    Adhara shoved him off the balcony, grinning as he heard Edward laugh all the way down to the ground. He looked down at the vampire that had landed in a crouch, unharmed. Edward grinned up at him as he straightened and, if anyone asked when Adhara’s world had finally mended itself, he would always point to this moment and tell them that it was when he shoved Edward from the second story balcony.

    “Love is where they are.”

    But, in reality, it was when Edward returned to his side, settling on the edge of the balcony once more with their ribs pressing against each other and the vampire entangled their fingers once more. Cheesy, but it was something Adhara would cherish till his dying day.
 
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OthertaleUndertale AU
Sans Centered

Summary:

Undertale is nothing more than a dream; a dream that slowly becomes a nightmare as time passes. Unlike the game, our main character is Sans, Sans the Skeleton, and, sadly, he is our dreamer, living reset after excruciating reset in Undertale till, at last, he wakes. Mind filled with nothing but what he lived in Undertale, Sans struggles to regain the memories he had lost and return to the person that everyone remembers. Thing is, the world he has awoken to is nothing like Undertale.

Othertale is a two part story written when time permits and is unbalanced between the two parts. Undertale is the first half, Othertale the second, the two separated by where Sans is: Undertale, a dream becoming a nightmare, and Othertale, the reality forgotten. The majority of the story will occur in the Othertale portion.

Part 1: Undertale | Chapter 1 - Chapter 2
Part 2: Othertale | Chapter 3 - Chapter 8

Please be advised that this story does have:
Major Character Death
Graphic Depictions Of Violence


  • It felt like a miracle he was even waking up with how bad his head was pounding. He was pretty certain he was either stupid lucky he hadn’t cracked his skull on the floor or that someone had found him rather quickly after he had collapsed. He grumbled lowly to himself, shifting against the mattress. He had known he was going to pass out. Why did he have to fight it?

    He frowned. Weird. Why did it feel like he was on a mattress with no sheet?

    He pushed himself off the mattress enough to look even as every bone in his body complained at the action. Sure enough, he came face to face with the bare mattress he had been face down on.

    Something was wrong. He looked to the side, finding himself in his room, buddle of sheets and blankets at the foot of his bed looking like a boulder as usual. Except, this wasn’t his room nor – to his bewilderment – the room he expected to wake up in. But it was his room and there was no reason why he should be waking up anywhere else. The whole duality (or, in this case, triality) was really not helping the pounding in his head as it sent a wave of vertigo through him.

    He settled on the edge of the mattress as he attempted to will his headache away. The sound of footfall outside his room then the sudden pounding at his door did nothing to aid his attempt.

    “SANS! TIME TO GET UP!”

    Sans the Skeleton flinched, but smiled warmly at his brother’s voice even as a sense of wrong went through him. “Five more minutes, Pap,” he called out in return, his voice lulling the words about in a manner that spoke of sleepiness he wasn’t feeling.

    “YOU CALLED FOR FIVE MORE MINUTES TEN MINUTES AGO!” his brother countered. Sans chuckled. “TIME TO GET UP!”

    “That was so kind of you, Pap,” he replied, getting up. He regretted it instantly. His entire being throbbed painfully but he pushed it all aside as he grabbed whatever was closest and dressed. “You’re the best.”

    “OF COURSE I AM! NOW HURRY UP AND GET DOWN TO THE KITCHEN! WE HAVE A FULL DAY AHEAD OF US!!”

    Heavy footfall fading away was enough for him to clue where his brother was heading. He attempted to deny the sense of wrong that had come with the thought of his brother’s destination.

    He attempted to deny that the feeling had been associated with the jacket he had grabbed, blue with a fake fur lined hood that seemed to be too bright in color, as if it wasn’t even real.

    He tugged on a different shirt and cleaner shorts, though cleanliness was more relative in this case. When had he become such a slob?

    The scent coming from the kitchen was foreign and familiar as he stepped out of his room, closing his door securely behind him. The fresh wave of vertigo was accompanied by nausea and it took all he had to manage his way down the stairs.

    Every part of him was screaming WRONG and yet there was nothing wrong. Everything was as it should be. There was nothing out of place, nothing incorrect. But, no matter how hard he tried, he came to a stop at the kitchen door, gripping the doorframe for support as he tried to keep from shaking.

    Before him was his brother, back turned to him as the taller skeleton tended to something on the stove, battle body on like always. Sans found it equal parts easy and difficult to recall why the taller was wearing the strange attire that wasn’t strange at all.

    His headache pulsed painfully behind his left eye and he pressed the heel of a hand to the socket, willing the headache away.

    “BROTHER!! GOOD! TAKE A SEAT!! BREAKFAST SPAGETTI IS ALMOST READY!!!”

    “Aw, bro, you shouldn’t have,” Sans urged playfully, though there was no honesty to the emotion. It was like he was sprouting memorized lines and, as he settled into a chair, he found that this whole situation felt like an act in a play. It was a very strange analogy, one he wasn’t sure he knew the origin of.

    “NONSENSE!!!” Papyrus exclaimed and Sans was grateful the other was too busy focusing on cooking to have seen the flinch at the volume. “BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY! WE MUST BE NOURISHED TO BE ABLE TO BE PRODUCTIVE.”

    The smile came easily as he rested his chin on his palm. “Sure, bro. Whatever you say.”

    To say that he was startled when a plate of spaghetti was placed before him was an understatement. He had been expecting something else, something completely different to be placed before him but, when he tried to remember what he had been expecting, it slipped through his fingers like smoke.

    The scent of a specific cigarette assaulted him long enough for him to register it but not to pinpoint the memory it dredged up.

    He hid his shudder by grinning at his brother, commenting, “This looks great, Pap. Even better than your last batch.”

    Papyrus beamed at him and started talking about something in that loud voice of his but it was nothing more than background noise. What was wrong with him? Why was he suddenly experiencing all this? Papyrus always made spaghetti. Heck, he was pretty sure his bro didn’t know how to make anything else. But there had been that scent as well, whatever that scent had been. It had been brief, it had been so potent, like he should know what it had come from and should have remembered what it was but, just like the sudden expectation of a different kind of food for breakfast, he couldn’t figure out what it had been.

    He hadn’t realized he had been eating till he took another bite and the bitterness and the wrong washed over his senses. He swallowed the bite he had been consuming, shuddering at the taste and willing his body to retain it. He put his fork down and keyed in to the one sided conversation.

    “Hey, bro, shouldn’t we get going?” he interjected, bringing Papyrus’s train of thought to a halt.

    “YOU ARE RIGHT, BROTHER!” Papyrus exclaimed, jumping to his feet. Sans noticed that Papyrus hadn’t really touched his own place. Sans let that ease his smile bigger. “IF YOU ARE QUITE FINISHED, WE SHALL LEAVE RIGHT AWAY!!”

    Sans passed his plate to his brother.

    Stepping out of the house was probably worse than him stepping out of his room. Vertigo washed over him and the breakfast spaghetti nearly made an encore as he stumbled in the snow. He couldn’t breathe as his gaze snapped around, horror sinking in.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. It was all wrong! There was-this was all-No!! This was wrong! This was-

    “BROTHER?!” Sans jerked, finding his brother’s hands securely on his arms. Sans felt like screaming. “BROTHER, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?”

    “Yeah, bro,” he spoke, his words coming easily and the lie even easier. “Guess the sandman wasn’t quite done with me this morning.” Papyrus frowned at him and Sans grinned. “I honestly can’t ‘sand’ the guy.”

    Papyrus released him and Sans almost reach out towards him, fearing he would fall face first into the snow. Thankfully, he didn’t. “SANS!!! NOT THIS EARLY IN THE MORNING!!!!”

    “Don’t worry, Pap, I’m ‘morning’ that one too.”

    “UGH!!!” Papyrus stormed off in the direction of his puzzles and Sans trailed behind but it was weird. The sense of wrong hadn’t left and it was just getting stronger the longer they passed through town. There should be more homes, more people, different people, but Sans knew this had always been who had been here, that the buildings were as they had always been. The library with its misspelled sign, the path that led to the few houses north and the dog that chucked ice to keep the core cool, Grillby’s on the other side of the path. It was all as it should be but it was all wrong.

    He looked up and wished he hadn’t.

    Sans shoved the sudden claustrophobia away as his magic reacted, yanking at the world around him and depositing him behind Papyrus. He nearly stumbled face first into the snow as he suddenly appeared on his brother’s heel. This time actual panic rushed through him. Teleportation was a thing he did naturally but what he had just done was not what he normally did.

    His head pulsed painfully.

    He felt like screaming in frustration as his head pounded and just teleport back to his room and stay there. This was not right, not fair!! Why was he feeling like he was suddenly not right in his own bones? This…this was….it just….

    He came to a stop at the bridge as a sense of apathy settled over him. It was foreign but welcomed as he focused on his brother already halfway across the long bridge. He took a second, grounding himself in the sudden apathy.

    All the wrong fell away.

    When he opened his sockets, Papyrus was nearly cross the bridge. With no effort, he brushed the world around him with his magic and, as he took a step, he went from one end of the bridge to the other in the blink of an eye. Papyrus glanced back as his boots touched solid ground but Sans only gave him a lazy grin and continued to follow.

    The canine royal guards greeted them as they passed. Sans went with the motions, speaking words he didn’t even have to think about. When they reached the last puzzle – or the first, depending on the direction one traveled in – Sans looked to his brother, offering, “I’ll trek ahead and check on my post.”

    “DON’T DILLY DALLY, SANS!! WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO!!!”

    Sans chuckled and pulled at the world around him when Papyrus wasn’t looking. As used magic drifted away and dissipated, the apathy did as well. With his brother out of sight and being so far from another living soul, Sans found it hard to even keep the apathy in place.

    He was reacquainted with the breakfast spaghetti but, thankfully, it was through expelled magic rather than half digested food. He shuddered, his bones rattling at the force. He didn’t even want to know where that knowledge came from and hoped he forgot about it as he had everything else that morning.

    He frowned.

    No, he could remember that morning, but it was hard. He remembered that something at breakfast had startled him but he couldn’t remember what. He remembered that waking up that morning had been weird but he couldn’t…..couldn’t………

    He came to abruptly, finding himself slumped forward in a chair, head resting on the counter of the sentry station in a clearing with an interestingly shaped lamp. He rubbed his face as he sat up, frowning. Odd…he couldn’t remember making it to the sentry station let alone falling asleep at it. He looked around. Nope, nothing strange beyond the lamp. Pulling at the world, he stood at the edge of the clearing, barely making out an interesting structure farther down the path in the fog. It took nothing to take a shortcut closer and he found himself coming up on a ravine that had an old bridge crossing it, a massive wooden structure that looked more like rectangular arches than a gate. He chuckled, passing through the gate. Leave it to his brother to create the most interesting of things. He sporadically used shortcuts, only moving as far as he could see.

    It was probably the wisest thing he had ever done because he would have ended up teleporting into a door and he much preferred not being a permanent addition to the underground’s historic structure. He pressed a hand to the stone door, a smile tugging at his face. Exhaustion pulled at his bones again and Sans went easily with it this time, teleporting to a high branch in a nearby tree.

    He settled in to nap only for a low rumble of stone grating against stone to fill the quiet forest.

    He sat up, his gaze automatically locking onto the door set into the wall. He watched as a tiny human stepped out. Oh, he knew the figure wasn’t a monster. It was very obvious the tiny person was not a monster.

    He slipped from his branch and the world bent and stretched around him as he teleported so that he landed on the tough-looking branch the kid – it had to be a kid – had walked around. Spend magic dissipated quickly and the surprise the sound seemed to cause in the human was amusing. He fell back a ways before shifting the world around him and returning to a few paces behind the kid. The kid stopped at the bridge and Sans slowly strolled up behind them.

    He came to a stop just outside of arm’s reach, anticipation racing through him like adrenaline. An amused smirk pulled at his smile. “Human,” he states plainly, slowly. “Don’t you know how to greet a new pal? Turn around and shake my hand.”

    The words came easily and tasted familiar but that was nothing new. The kid turned around slowly. He reached out, offering his hand to this human that had been labeled a danger by Asgore long before the human had ever fallen.

    The kid took his hand.

    The whoopee cushion deflated between their palms and Sans’s smile broke into a grin. “Heheh. The old whoopee cushion in the hand trick. It’s ALWAYS funny.” The kid gave a confused giggle as Sans tucked his hand back into his pocket. “Anyways, you’re a human, right? That’s hilarious. I’m Sans. Sans the Skeleton. I’m actually supposed to be on watch for humans right now. But…y’know…” Sans shrugged, “I don’t really care about capturing anybody. Now my brother, Papyrus, he’s a human-hunting FANATIC.” Motion over the kid's head drew Sans's attention briefly and his face lit up. He’d know that silhouette anywhere, even from this distance through the light fog. “Hey, actually, I think that’s him over there.” He focused back on the kid, catching the tail end of their rotation to see what he was looking at. “I have an idea.” The kid looked back at him. “Go through this gate thingy.” The kid glanced at the gate, worry marring their expression. Sans nodded. “Yeah, go right through. My bro made the bars too wide to stop anyone.”

    It was a breath, a moment that allowed Sans to watch as the kid’s worry turned into determination, before the kid turned right around and walked through the massive structure’s posts. Sans kept pace with them, following them through to the other side and then some. Surprisingly enough, the oddly-shaped lamp that had always been next to his station was suddenly conveniently-shaped and very useful, especially with his brother heading their way. “Quick, behind that conveniently-shaped lamp.”

    The kid gave him a hesitant smile before they hurried to hide behind the lamp. Just in time, too. Papyrus came striding in like he always did, with a purpose and an air of confidence. It made Sans’s smile turn endearing. “Sup, bro?”

    “YOU KNOW WHAT “SUP,” BROTHER!” Papyrus snapped, his voice still at its loudest volume. “IT’S BEEN EIGHT DAYS AND YOU STILL HAVEN’T RECALIBRATED. YOUR. PUZZLES! YOU JUST HANG AROUND OUTSIDE YOUR STATION! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?!?”

    “Staring at this lamp,” Sans easily supplied, gesturing lazily at the lamp the kid had hid behind. “It’s really cool. Do you wanna look?”

    “NO!! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!!” Papyrus shouted, stomping his foot. “WHAT IF A HUMAN COMES THROUGH HERE!?! I WANT TO BE READY!!! I WILL BE THE ONE! I MUST BE THE ONE! I WILL CAPTURE A HUMAN!” Papyrus shifted his stance, a hand on his hip, a hand on his chest, and somehow his cape billowing dramatically behind him. Sans snorted on a laugh. His brother was the best. “THEN, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL GET ALL THE THINGS I UTTERLY DESERVE! RESPECT…RECOGNITION…I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD! PEOPLE WILL ASK, TO, BE MY, “FRIEND?” I WILL BATHE IN A SHOWER OF KISSES EVERY MORNING.”

    “Hmm,” Sans offered, “maybe this lamp will help you.”

    “SANS!! YOU ARE NOT HELPING!!” Papyrus stomped his foot. “YOU LAZYBONES!! ALL YOU DO IS SIT AND BOONDOGGLE! YOU GET LAZIER AND LAZIER EVERY DAY!!!”

    Sans shrugged, a mischievous half grin on his face. “Hey, take it easy. I’ve gotten a ton of work done today.” He winked. “A skele-ton.”

    Papyrus bristled. “SANS!!!”

    “Come on. You’re smiling.”

    “I AM AND I HATE IT!” Papyrus admitted. He sighed. “WHY DOES SOMEONE AS GREAT AS ME HAVE TO DO SO MUCH JUST TO GET SOME RECOGNITION…”

    Sans could not help himself. He felt his grin grow as he commented, “Wow, sounds like you’re really working yourself…down to the bone.”

    Papyrus threw his hands up. “UGH!!! I WILL ATTEND TO MY PUZZLES. AS FOR YOUR WORK? PUT A LITTLE MORE, BACKBONE INTO IT!!!! NYEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE!!!”

    Sans chuckled right along with his brother, so proud. Papyrus made his exit with that laugh and Sans’s chuckles died with the taller skeleton’s exit. He waited, watching Papyrus turn around briefly and give a final, “Heh!” before fully leaving. Once he was sure his brother was fully gone, he shifted his weight and his head to look at the lamp. “Ok, you can come out now.”

    The kid wandered out from behind the lamp, cautious but clearly happy. The kid walked right up to him without a worry and Sans chuckled. “You oughta get going. He might come back. And if he does,” Sans winked, “you’ll have to sit through more of my hilarious jokes.” The kid smiled at that, but said kid didn’t look like they were planning on leaving any time soon. Sans’s smile fell a bit. “What’s the holdup?” The kid returned their attention to him, inadvertently showing their worry to him. He kicked his smile back up, offering honestly, “Look, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” He winked, trying to get the kid to lighten up as an idea started to form in the back of his mind. “It’s just a dark cavern filled with skeletons and horrible monsters.” The kid’s face twisted up in conflict and Sans couldn’t help but arch an eye ridge at them. “Well?”

    The kid looked up at him and nodded, determination on their face. With a wave goodbye, the kid was off, and Sans gave a huff of a laugh. The kid was definitely something else. Which could mean…

    “Actually, hey,” he called out. The kid stopped, turning to look at him with a curious expression. “Hate to bother ya, but can you do me a favor? I was thinking, my brother’s been kind of down lately. He’s never seen a human before, and seeing you might just make his day. Don’t worry, he’s not dangerous,” Sans quickly informed the human, already seeing the worry reach into the human’s expression again, “even if he tries to be.”

    There’s a pause before the human nodded in agreement. Sans felt a part of his soul ease at that. “Thanks a million. I’ll be up ahead.”

    Sans waved goodbye and headed back to the bridge only to pull at the world and step up behind Papyrus.

    “Hey, bro,” Sans called out, gaining his brother’s attention.

    “SANS!” Papyrus commented, partially annoyed. “WHY ARE YOU NOT AT YOUR POST?”

    Sans shrugged, smiling. “Aw, come on, bro. Our conversation conveniently reminded me you never finished your tale from earlier. The one about Undyne.”

    “HONESTLY?” Sans nodded. Papyrus’s face lit up. “SO, AS I WAS SAYING ABOUT UNDYNE–”

    Movement from the path leading to the sentry station drew Papyrus’s attention, cutting his renewed story off. Sans watched Papyrus, already knowing who was approaching. The kid’s footfall was pretty unique. Sans looked to the kid when Papyrus looked back at him and looked to Papyrus when his brother returned his gaze to the human. They did this probably eight or nine times till they were spinning around, coming to a stop facing the human. Sans was trying very hard not to fall over as the world kept spinning. The fact that he was trying not to laugh wasn’t helping. Papyrus quickly spun Sans around the other way, rushing in what was as close to a stage whisper as Papyrus got, “SANS!! OH MY GOD!! IS THAT…A HUMAN!?!?!??!?!”

    They turned back around and Sans, out of habit, couldn’t help but mess with his brother. “Uhhhh...Actually, I think that’s a rock.”

    Papyrus deflated. “OH.”

    Sans was quick to bring the wind back into Papyrus’s sails, though, asking, “Hey, what’s that in front of the rock?”

    Papyrus lit up again, and Sans was very happy to see Papyrus so excited. “OH MY GOD!!!” Papyrus turned to Sans again and questioned in his not-so stage whisper, “IS…IS THAT A HUMAN?”

    “Yes,” Sans supplied in a stage whisper.

    “OH MY GOD!!! SANS! I FINALLY DID IT!! UNDYNE WILL-I’M GONNA-I’LL BE SO…POPULAR!!! POPULAR!!! POPULAR!!!” Papyrus paused before clearing his throat. Sans chuckled. Papyrus ignored him. “HUMAN! YOU SHALL NOT PASS THIS AREA! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL STOP YOU!!! I WILL THEN CAPTURE YOU! YOU WILL BE DELIVERED TO THE CAPITAL! THEN…THEN!!!” Papyrus hesitated. “I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S NEXT.” Sans snorted as Papyrus didn’t let that little detail stop him. “IN ANY CASE! CONTINUE. ONLY IF YOU DARE!!! NYEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH!!!”

    Laughing, Papyrus hurried on ahead. Sans stayed put and watched his brother race off before turning to the human. “Well, that went well. Don’t sweat it, kid.” He winked. “I’ll keep an eye socket out for ya.”

    With his last tidbit to the human, Sans turned and followed after his brother till he was out of sight of the human. A surge of magic and Sans was a good distance behind the human, out of sight but close enough to watch. He followed the human, watching as a Snowdrake came and started a fight. Sans found his smile slipping when the battle was started, watching as the controls and HP bar popped up for the human. Again, the sense of wrong washed through him but he ignored it for the most part. During the whole fight, the human never pressed FIGHT. Instead, they made bad ice puns and laughed at the Snowdrake’s jokes. Whatever worry Sans had about the human being dangerous was laid to rest. With a smile returning to his face, Sans warped the world around him.

    Time seemed to vanish. Sans tailed the kid like he had promised, though he didn’t try overly hard to constantly keep the kid in his line of sight; seemed a bit much and way too much effort. He did keep with his brother for the most part till the kid left Snowdin. After that, it turned out the kid didn’t need him and Sans backed off, manning his stations or hanging with Papyrus. There were only two times that he met up with the kid purposely. One was when he gave the kid his warning at the too fancy of a restaurant.

    The second time was when he Judged the kid.

    Thankfully, thankfully, he didn’t have to act. The kid was dust free, EXP untouched, and he let the kid be. He teleported away, finding himself shaking, bones rattling. He wrapped his arms around his torso, not understanding the sudden reaction to whatever was going on. He hadn’t reacted like this to anything else.

    He jumped when his phone rang and he fumbled at it. He let out a sigh, catching the familiar sight of his brother’s name. Pressing answer, he held the device to the side of his skull and dutifully answered. “Sup, bro.”

    “SANS!!! GET TO THE CASTLE AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!! WE HAVE TO AID THE HUMAN!!!”

    Sans smiled already hearing his brother’s footfall as the lanky skeleton ran towards him. “Huh. You don’t say. Guess it’s a good thing I’m already at the castle.”

    Sans watched as Papyrus skidded to a stop not far from where Sans was out of direct view. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT THE CASTLE?!” Papyrus asked, staring incredulously at the device in his hand.

    Sans stepped out of his spot as he pocketed his phone, shrugging, “Thought I’d catch the sights. It’s a beautiful day today.”

    Papyrus stormed right up to him and grabbed him by the arm, dragging him along. “YOU CAN TELL ME ABOUT IT ON THE WAY. WE DO NOT WANT TO BE LATE AIDING THE HUMAN!!”

    Sans couldn’t help the grin on his face as his brother released him in order to storm the room ahead. Sans followed, catching his brother’s words only due to his brother’s natural volume of loud.

    “HEY! NOBODY FIGHT ANYONE! IF ANYONE FIGHTS ANYONE….THEN I’LL!!! BE FORCED!!! TO ASK UNDYNE FOR HELP!!!”

    Sans chuckled, shaking his head. That was his brother for ya. Other things were said but he missed them as he slid into the room and greeted familiar and not so familiar faces. “Hey guys. What’s up?”

    The one face he couldn’t put his finger on spoke up, though it wasn’t overly loud and almost sounded like she had said, “That voice!” The goat monster approached, happily greeting, “Hello, I think we may know each other?”

    That alone made the first statement make a whole lot more sense as Sans grinned at her. “Oh hey…I recognize your voice, too.”

    “I am Toriel,” she offered. “So nice to meet you.”

    He couldn’t help but wink at her. “The name’s Sans, and, uh, same.”

    “Oh! Wait, then…” she turned her attention to Papyrus and Sans’s expression became fond. “This must be your brother, Papyrus! Greetings, Papyrus! It is so nice to finally meet you. Your brother has told me so much about you.”

    “WOWIE…I CAN’T BELIEVE ASGORE’S CLONE KNOWS WHO I AM!!! THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!”

    Sans chuckled. Only the Great Papyrus. Toriel spoke up again. “Hey, Papyrus…what does a skeleton tile his roof with?”

    Sans had to swallow a laugh as Papyrus’s sockets narrowed. “HMMM…” the lankier skeleton voiced as he thought. “SNOW-PROOF ROOF TILES???”

    “No, silly!” Toriel quickly replied. “A skeleton tiles his room with…shin-gles!!!”

    Sans shared a grin with Toriel as Papyrus nearly lost his shit. “I CHANGED MY MIND!!! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!”

    From there it just went from funny to hilariously awkward as Mettaton appeared out of nowhere somewhere in all the chatter and encouraged Alphys and Undyne to kiss. Toriel’s reaction was probably his favorite, rushing to be between them and stop it, all in the name of not doing it in front of the kid.

    Toriel, ever the warmhearted, turned her attention back onto the human child. “My child, it seems as if you must stay here for a while.” Sans forced the smile on his face to remain. Oh yeah. They had needed the human’s soul to pass through the barrier. “But looking at all the great friends you have made, I think….I think you will be happy here.”

    The kid beamed at her, at all of them, but Sans couldn’t help the disappointment that wafted through him. He tensed, gaze quickly flicking towards the side. He thought he had seen a mass in the shadows but it seemed he was seeing things as Alphys spoke up. “H-hey, that reminds me. Papyrus…you called everyone here, right? Well, besides, uh, her. Uh, anyway…if I got here before you, how did you know how to call everybody?”

    Sans honestly hadn’t thought about that and glanced at his brother. “LET’S JUST SAY…A TINY FLOWER HELPED ME.”

    It was like his magic turned to ice around his bones but the sudden apprehension seemed unwarranted. Alphys’s reaction, though, only made the apprehension grow.

    “A tiny…flower?” she asked, her voice quaking.

    San felt every fiber of his being stand on end at that but he was unable to move as a large vine came through and smacked them all before smaller ones wrapped around each of them and tussled them up, feet off the ground. Pain rippled through him but it wasn’t enough to truly distract him from the conversation. A yellow flower popped up between them and the kid, said flower actually speaking. The kid was suddenly trapped and assaulted by bullets from the flower. Sans watched as the kid’s health fell down to one measly point before there was suddenly interference. And that interference came from Toriel herself.

    “Do not be afraid, my child,” she spoke, her voice calm as the pain that had been running through them all stopped with the flower’s confusion. “No matter what happens, we will always be there to protect you!”

    His brother and Undyne were next to step up to the plate. “THAT’S RIGHT, HUMAN! YOU CAN WIN!! JUST DO WHAT I WOULD DO: BELIEVE IN YOU!!!”

    “Hey! Human!” Undyne called out with a toothy grin. “If you got past ME, you can do ANYTHING! So don’t worry! We’re with you all the way!”

    “Huh? You haven’t beaten this guy yet?” Sans asked easily, the words flowing without him even needing to think about it. “Come on, this weirdo’s got nothin’ on you.”

    Others stepped up magically and Alphys spoke up, “Technically, it’s impossible for you to beat him…b-but…somehow, I know you can do it!!”

    Sans wasn’t quite sure how supportive that was.

    “Human,” Asgore added, “for the future of humans and monsters…! You have to stay determined…!”

    Suddenly the room was filling with all sorts of monsters, all of them encouraging the kid, and, for the briefest of moments, Sans believed that they actually had a chance of getting out of this. But then the flower called them all stupid, claiming their souls as pain rushed through Sans and the world turned white.

    Somewhere, somehow, the barrier was destroyed.

    He blinked, finding himself face down on a sheetless mattress. Panic flooded him as he bolted upright. What?! No! They had made it out. They had to have made it out! The kid had destroyed the barrier; they had all seen the light at the end of the cave.

    Right?

    He warped the world around him, pulling at it in desperation even as he couldn’t sort out the memories in his head. It had to have been real. He just accidentally teleported back home. Right?!

    He hit the ground on his side, a tangled mess as he shifted an arm to push himself up enough to look at where the exit was.

    The barrier was still there.

    A sob shook him as his hand met resistance against the barrier. He covered his mouth, eye lights gone tears gathered in his sockets. He crumpled to the floor as he tried to muffle the emotions rolling through him.

    This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t fair! He could not dream a dream like that only to wake up!

    Magic exploded from him and the sudden unleash of magic combined with him drowning in emotions startled him enough that no damage was caused to the surrounding architecture. He shuddered, huddling against the barrier as he stared towards the only entrance into the space.

    But nobody came.

    He pulled at the world around him and returned to his bedroom. There was a dull thud as he missed the mattress and landed on the floor instead. He rubbed his sore shoulder as he moved to the mattress. Teleporting while emotionally compromised was not the wisest thing to do. It left him drained and more exhausted than he already was.

    A dream.

    He flopped forward onto the mattress, knees still on the floor by his bed. That it had been so real, so absolute; for him to wake up from it hurt the most. That kind of hope was dangerous. And to lose it…

    He rubbed his face into the mattress, grateful as parts of the dream faded from his mind.

    The sudden pounding at his door made him jump.

    “SANS! TIME TO GET UP!”

    Sans stared at the door in shock. “Five more minutes, Pap,” he called out in return, his voice lulling the words about in a manner that spoke of sleepiness he wasn’t feeling.

    “YOU CALLED FOR FIVE MORE MINUTES TEN MINUTES AGO!” his brother countered. The chuckle that left him was almost involuntary. “TIME TO GET UP!”

    “That was so kind of you, Pap,” he replied, getting up. The smile in his words didn’t show on his face. He grabbed whatever was closest and dressed. “You’re the best.”

    “OF COURSE I AM! NOW HURRY UP AND GET DOWN TO THE KITCHEN! WE HAVE A FULL DAY AHEAD OF US!!”

    Heavy footfall fading away was enough for him to clue where his brother was heading. He stilled as he frowned down at the blue jacket in his hand. He couldn’t help but feel as if something was missing at the same time he was experiencing a very odd sense of déjà vu. Deciding to worry about it later, he tugged on a different shirt and cleaner shorts, though cleanliness was more relative in this case. When had he become such a slob?

    The scent coming from the kitchen wafted to him as he stepped out of his room, closing his door securely behind him. As he made his way to the kitchen, the déjà vu didn’t leave, nor the feeling that something was really missing.

    He stopped on the threshold of the kitchen, taking in his brother’s back as the taller skeleton tended to something on the stove. He frowned. Was that the only thing his brother wore now?

    His frown deepened. Surely it wasn’t.

    But even as he tried to rack his brain for something else his brother wore, nothing came to mind

    “BROTHER!! GOOD! TAKE A SEAT!! BREAKFAST SPAGETTI IS ALMOST READY!!!”

    “Aw, bro, you shouldn’t have,” Sans urged playfully, though there was no honesty to the emotion. It was like he was sprouting lines and that thought alone stopped him in his tracks. Hadn’t he used that analogy recently, regardless of its oddity?

    “NONSENSE!!!” Papyrus exclaimed and Sans was grateful the other was too busy focusing on cooking to notice Sans’s sudden mental distraction. “BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY! WE MUST BE NOURISHED TO BE ABLE TO BE PRODUCTIVE.”

    The smile came easily as he rested his chin on his palm. “Sure, bro. Whatever you say.”

    The plate of spaghetti was placed before him with ease and Sans poked at it with his fork. He frowned, almost expecting a scent to touch him but none came. He grinned at his brother, commenting, “This looks great, Pap. Even better than your last batch.”

    Papyrus beamed at him and started talking about something in that loud voice of his but it was nothing more than background noise in his head. Something was missing. Even with it being early in the day he could tell something was off but, no matter how hard he thought about it, nothing came to mind. Just the really weird dream he had last night. He vehemently ignored the dream’s ending. No need to dredge that back up.

    He hadn’t realized he had been eating till he took another bite and the bitterness washed over his senses. He swallowed the bite he had been consuming, shuddering at the taste. He put his fork down and keyed in to the one sided conversation.

    “Hey, bro, shouldn’t we get going?” he interjected, bringing Papyrus’s train of thought to a halt.

    “YOU ARE RIGHT, BROTHER!” Papyrus exclaimed, jumping to his feet. Sans noticed that Papyrus hadn’t really touched his own place. Sans let that ease his smile bigger. “IF YOU ARE QUITE FINISHED, WE SHALL LEAVE RIGHT AWAY!!”

    Sans passed his plate to his brother.

    Stepping out of the house only made him feel hollow and the flicker of a faint memory of vertigo made him tense automatically. It was faint but there was a phantom sense of wrong that settled in his soul as he turned to follow his brother. The sensation of his brother’s hands securely on his harms made him shudder.

    “BROTHER, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?”

    Sans blinked, looking up at Papyrus. He hadn’t realized he had come to a stop in the snow. “Yeah, bro,” he spoke, his words coming easily and the lie even easier. “Guess the sandman wasn’t quite done with me this morning.” Papyrus frowned at him and Sans grinned. “I honestly can’t ‘sand’ the guy.”

    Papyrus threw his hands up. “SANS!!! NOT THIS EARLY IN THE MORNING!!!!”

    Sans’s grin grew. “Don’t worry, Pap, I’m ‘morning’ that one too.”

    “UGH!!!” Papyrus stormed off in the direction of his puzzles and Sans trailed behind him with a soft smile belaying his amusement and fondness. He glanced about, once more getting the phantom sensation of wrong but this one was much fainter than the last time and he easily pushed it away. There was nothing wrong. His dream just messed with him was all.

    Sans pulled at the world around him, stepping up to his brother’s heel. He stumbled slightly, frowning. Odd. Why had that felt unnatural, like he was doing it wrong? He looked at his hand out of nothing better to frown at. He turned his hand over, racking his brain for anything that could shed a light on this sudden revelation but, as he went searching for information, horror started to settle into his bones. There were massive gaps in not only what he should know about the world around him, but in his memories as well. He had vague impressions of some things but, when he tried to think what he had done in the last few days, all that came back was his dream.

    He came to a stop at the bridge as a sense of apathy settled over him, accompanied by déjà vu. It was foreign but welcomed as it stilled the oncoming panic attack. Even if breathing wasn’t a thing they needed to do to live, he took a deep, calming breath, grounding himself in the present so as not to tempt another panic attack. He focused back on his brother, spotting the lanky skeleton nearly cross the bridge. With no effort, he brushed the world around him with his magic and, as he took a step, he went from one end of the bridge to the other in the blink of an eye. Papyrus glanced back as his boots touched solid ground but the spent magic had already dissipated and Sans gave him a lazy grin as he continued to follow along. The apathy slowly seeped from him but the panic didn’t return, much to Sans’s relief.

    The canine royal guards greeted them as they passed. Sans greeted them with words that came easily. When they reached the last puzzle – or the first, depending on the direction one traveled in – Sans looked to his brother, offering, “I’ll trek ahead and check on my post.”

    “DON’T DILLY DALLY, SANS!! WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO!!!”

    Sans chuckled and pulled at the world around him when Papyrus wasn’t looking. As used magic drifted away and dissipated, he let out a sigh and started to trudge down the path. He paused at his station as the strange sense of waking suddenly without knowing how he had gotten there. With a shrug, he continued on passed the oddly shaped lamp. He pulled at the world in increments but found that the walk was rather pleasant.

    An interesting structure was barely peaking out of the fog further down the path. Sans’s peaked curiosity was enough to take a shortcut closer and he found himself standing beside a ravine that had an old bridge crossing it, a massive wooden structure that looked more like rectangular arches than a gate. He chuckled fondly as he passed underneath. Leave it to his brother to create the most interesting things. How could he have forgotten such a masterpiece done by his brother?

    He found himself face to face with a stone door and exhaustion pulled at his bones as he pressed a hand to the structure. Looking about curiously, he picked a high branch and teleported to it, settling down with his back against the trunk and eye sockets sliding shut.

    A low rumble of stone grating against stone filled the quiet forest. His gaze automatically drifted to the door set into the wall as his brain worked to wake up from his nap. He watched as a tiny human stepped out. Oh, he knew the figure wasn’t a monster. It was very obvious the tiny person was not a monster. But something about the human nagged at him, like he should know who they were.

    He slipped from his branch. The world pulled around him, bending and stretching as he teleported so that he landed on the tough-looking branch the kid – it had to be a kid – had walked around as spend magic dissipated quickly; the surprise it seemed to cause in the human was amusing. He fell back a ways before shifting the world around him and returning to a few paces behind the kid. The kid stopped at the bridge and Sans slowly strolled up behind them.

    He came to a stop just outside of arm’s reach, anticipation racing through him like adrenaline. An amused smirk pulled at his smile. “Human,” he states plainly, slowly. “Don’t you know how to greet a new pal? Turn around and shake my hand.”

    The words came easily and tasted familiar. The kid turned around slowly and he shuddered as déjà vu raced through his bones. He reached out, offering his hand to this human that had been labeled a danger by Asgore long before the human had ever fallen.

    The kid took his hand.

    The whoopee cushion deflated between their palms and Sans’s smile broke into a grin. “Heheh. The old whoopee cushion in the hand trick. It’s ALWAYS funny.” The kid gave a confused giggle as Sans tucked his hand back into his pocket. “Anyways, you’re a human, right? That’s hilarious.” He ignored the déjà vu as the words just tumbled from his mouth. “I’m Sans. Sans the Skeleton. I’m actually supposed to be on watch for humans right now. But…y’know…” Sans shrugged, “I don’t really care about capturing anybody. Now my brother, Papyrus, he’s a human-hunting FANATIC.” Motion over the kid's head drew Sans's attention briefly and his face lit up. He’d know that silhouette anywhere. “Hey, actually, I think that’s him over there.” He focused back on the kid, catching the tail end of their rotation to see what he was looking at. “I have an idea.” The kid looked back at him. “Go through this gate thingy.” The kid glanced at the gate, worry marring their expression. Sans nodded. “Yeah, go right through. My bro made the bars too wide to stop anyone.”

    It was a breath, a moment that allowed Sans to watch as the kid’s worry turned into determination, before the kid turned right around and walked through the massive structure’s posts. Sans kept pace with them, following them through to the other side and then some. Surprisingly enough, the oddly-shaped lamp that was always next to his station was suddenly conveniently-shaped and very useful, especially with his brother heading their way. “Quick, behind that conveniently-shaped lamp.”

    The kid gave him a smile, trusting his word, and hurried to hide behind the lamp. Just in time, too. Papyrus came striding in like he always did, with a purpose and an air of confidence. It made Sans’s smile turn endearing. “Sup, bro?”

    “YOU KNOW WHAT “SUP,” BROTHER!” Papyrus snapped, his voice at its loudest volume as it always seemed to be in. “IT’S BEEN EIGHT DAYS AND YOU STILL HAVEN’T RECALIBRATED. YOUR. PUZZLES! YOU JUST HANG AROUND OUTSIDE YOUR STATION! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?!?”

    “Staring at this lamp,” Sans easily supplied, gesturing lazily at the lamp the kid had hid behind. “It’s really cool. Do you wanna look?”

    “NO!! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!!” Papyrus shouted, stomping his foot. “WHAT IF A HUMAN COMES THROUGH HERE!?! I WANT TO BE READY!!! I WILL BE THE ONE! I MUST BE THE ONE! I WILL CAPTURE A HUMAN!” Papyrus shifted his stance, a hand on his hip, a hand on his chest, and somehow his cape billowing dramatically behind him. Sans snorted on a laugh. His brother was the best. “THEN, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL GET ALL THE THINGS I UTTERLY DESERVE! RESPECT…RECOGNITION…I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD! PEOPLE WILL ASK, TO, BE MY, “FRIEND?” I WILL BATHE IN A SHOWER OF KISSES EVERY MORNING.”

    “Hmm,” Sans offered, “maybe this lamp will help you.”

    “SANS!! YOU ARE NOT HELPING!!” Papyrus stomped his foot. “YOU LAZYBONES!! ALL YOU DO IS SIT AND BOONDOGGLE! YOU GET LAZIER AND LAZIER EVERY DAY!!!”

    Sans shrugged, a mischievous half grin on his face. “Hey, take it easy. I’ve gotten a ton of work done today.” He winked. “A skele-ton.”

    Papyrus bristled. “SANS!!!”

    “Come on. You’re smiling.”

    “I AM AND I HATE IT!” Papyrus admitted. He sighed. “WHY DOES SOMEONE AS GREAT AS ME HAVE TO DO SO MUCH JUST TO GET SOME RECOGNITION…”

    Sans could not help himself. He felt his grin grow as he commented, “Wow, sounds like you’re really working yourself…down to the bone.”

    Papyrus threw his hands up. “UGH!!! I WILL ATTEND TO MY PUZZLES. AS FOR YOUR WORK? PUT A LITTLE MORE, BACKBONE INTO IT!!!! NYEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE!!!”

    Sans chuckled right along with his brother, so proud. Papyrus made his exit with that laugh and Sans’s chuckles died with the taller skeleton’s exit. He waited, watching Papyrus turn around briefly and give a final, “Heh!” before fully leaving. Once he was sure his brother was fully gone, he shifted his weight and his head to look at the lamp. “Ok, you can come out now.”

    The kid came out from behind the lamp and walked right up to him, grinning. Sans chuckled. “You oughta get going. He might come back. And if he does,” Sans winked, “you’ll have to sit through more of my hilarious jokes.” The kid beamed and the words flowed freely from Sans. “What’s the holdup? Look, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” He winked. “It’s just a dark cavern filled with skeletons and horrible monsters.” The kid giggled and Sans couldn’t help but arch an eye ridge at them. “Well?”

    The kid looked up at him and nodded, determination and glee on their face. With a wave goodbye, the kid was off, and Sans gave a huff of a laugh. The kid was definitely something else.

    “Actually, hey,” he called out without prompting. The kid stopped, turning to look at him with an almost expectant expression. “Hate to bother ya, but can you do me a favor? I was thinking, my brother’s been kind of down lately. He’s never seen a human before, and seeing you might just make his day. Don’t worry, he’s not dangerous, even if he tries to be.”

    The human quickly nodded in agreement, giving Sans a thumbs up. Sans shifted his weight lazily. “Thanks a million. I’ll be up ahead.”

    Sans waved goodbye and headed back to the bridge only to pull at the world and step up behind Papyrus.

    “Hey, bro,” Sans called out, gaining his brother’s attention.

    “SANS!” Papyrus commented, partially annoyed. “WHY ARE YOU NOT AT YOUR POST?”

    Sans shrugged, smiling. “Aw, come on, bro. Our conversation conveniently reminded me you never finished your tale from earlier. The one about Undyne.”

    “HONESTLY?” Sans nodded. Papyrus’s face lit up. “SO, AS I WAS SAYING ABOUT UNDYNE–”

    Movement from the path leading to the sentry station drew Papyrus’s attention, cutting his story off. Sans watched Papyrus, already knowing who was approaching. The kid’s footfall was pretty unique. Sans looked to the kid when Papyrus looked back at him and looked to Papyrus when his brother returned his gaze to the human. They did this probably eight or nine times till they were spinning around, coming to a stop facing the human. Sans was trying very hard not to fall over as the world kept spinning. The fact that he was trying not to laugh wasn’t helping. Papyrus quickly spun Sans around the other way, rushing in what was as close to a stage whisper as Papyrus got, “SANS!! OH MY GOD!! IS THAT…A HUMAN!?!?!??!?!”

    They turned back around and Sans, out of habit, couldn’t help but mess with his brother. “Uhhhh...Actually, I think that’s a rock.”

    Papyrus deflated. “OH.”

    Sans was quick to bring the wind back into Papyrus’s sails, though, asking, “Hey, what’s that in front of the rock?”

    Papyrus lit up again, and Sans was very happy to see Papyrus so excited. “OH MY GOD!!!” Papyrus turned to Sans again and questioned in his not-so stage whisper, “IS…IS THAT A HUMAN?”

    “Yes,” Sans supplied in a stage whisper.

    “OH MY GOD!!! SANS! I FINALLY DID IT!! UNDYNE WILL-I’M GONNA-I’LL BE SO…POPULAR!!! POPULAR!!! POPULAR!!!” Papyrus paused before clearing his throat. Sans chuckled. Papyrus ignored him. “HUMAN! YOU SHALL NOT PASS THIS AREA! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL STOP YOU!!! I WILL THEN CAPTURE YOU! YOU WILL BE DELIVERED TO THE CAPITAL! THEN…THEN!!!” Papyrus hesitated. “I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S NEXT.” Sans snorted as Papyrus didn’t let that little detail stop him. “IN ANY CASE! CONTINUE. ONLY IF YOU DARE!!! NYEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH!!!”

    Laughing, Papyrus hurried on ahead. Sans stayed put and watched his brother race off before turning to the human. “Well, that went well. Don’t sweat it, kid.” He winked. “I’ll keep an eyesocket out for ya.”

    With his last tidbit to the human, Sans turned and followed after his brother till he was out of sight of the human. A surge of magic and Sans was a good distance behind the human, out of sight but close enough to watch. He followed the human, watching as a Snowdrake came and started a fight. He watched as the battle started, the controls popping up for the human. During the whole fight, the human never pressed FIGHT. Instead, they made bad ice puns and laughed at the Snowdrake’s jokes. Whatever concern Sans may have had about the human’s wellbeing was laid to rest. Sans warped the world around him.

    Time seemed to vanish. Sans kept with his brother for the most part till the kid left Snowdin. It was fun watching his brother’s reaction to the human. After that, Sans sporadically tailed the kid, manning his stations or hanging with Papyrus if he lost the kid for a bit. He found it was easiest to just be at his stations. There were only two times that he went out of his way to be with the kid. One was when he gave the kid his warning at the too fancy of a restaurant.

    The second time was when he Judged the kid.

    Unsurprisingly, he didn’t have to act. The kid was dust free, EXP untouched, and he grinned at the kid, oddly proud. He teleported away, feeling mildly odd. Strange. Why did it feel like something was missing?

    His phone rang and he pulled it out, catching his brother’s name. Pressing answer, he held the device to the side of his skull and dutifully answered. “Sup, bro.”

    “SANS!!! GET TO THE CASTLE AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!! WE HAVE TO AID THE HUMAN!!!”

    Sans smiled already hearing his brother’s footfall as the lanky skeleton ran towards him. “Huh. You don’t say. Guess it’s a good thing I’m already at the castle.”

    Sans watched as Papyrus skidded to a stop not far from where Sans was out of direct view. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT THE CASTLE?!” Papyrus asked, staring incredulously at the device in his hand.

    Sans stepped out of his spot as he pocketed his phone, shrugging, “Thought I’d catch the sights. It’s a beautiful day today.”

    Papyrus stormed right up to him and grabbed him by the arm, dragging him along. “YOU CAN TELL ME ABOUT IT ON THE WAY. WE DO NOT WANT TO BE LATE AIDING THE HUMAN!!”

    Sans couldn’t help the grin on his face as his brother released him in order to storm the room ahead. Sans followed, catching his brother’s words only due to his brother’s natural volume of loud.

    “HEY! NOBODY FIGHT ANYONE! IF ANYONE FIGHTS ANYONE….THEN I’LL!!! BE FORCED!!! TO ASK UNDYNE FOR HELP!!!”

    Sans chuckled, shaking his head. That was his brother for ya. Other things were said but he missed them as he slid into the room and greeted familiar and not so familiar faces. “Hey guys. What’s up?”

    The one face he couldn’t put his finger on spoke up, though it wasn’t overly loud and almost sounded like she had said, “That voice!” The goat monster approached, happily greeting, “Hello, I think we may know each other?”

    That alone made the first statement make a whole lot more sense as Sans grinned at her. “Oh hey…I recognize your voice, too.”

    “I am Toriel,” she offered. “So nice to meet you.”

    He couldn’t help but wink at her. “The name’s Sans, and, uh, same.”

    “Oh! Wait, then…” she turned her attention to Papyrus and Sans’s expression became fond. “This must be your brother, Papyrus! Greetings, Papyrus! It is so nice to finally meet you. Your brother has told me so much about you.”

    “WOWIE…I CAN’T BELIEVE ASGORE’S CLONE KNOWS WHO I AM!!! THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!”

    Sans chuckled. Only the Great Papyrus. Toriel spoke up again. “Hey, Papyrus…what does a skeleton tile his roof with?”

    Sans had to swallow a laugh, anticipation rolling through him, as Papyrus’s sockets narrowed. “HMMM…” the lankier skeleton voiced as he thought. “SNOW-PROOF ROOF TILES???”

    “No, silly!” Toriel quickly replied. “A skeleton tiles his room with…shin-gles!!!”

    Sans shared a grin with Toriel as Papyrus nearly lost his shit. “I CHANGED MY MIND!!! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!”

    From there it just went from funny to hilariously awkward as Mettaton appeared out of nowhere somewhere in all the chatter and encouraged Alphys and Undyne to kiss. Toriel’s reaction was probably his favorite, rushing to be between them and stop it, all in the name of not doing it in front of the kid.

    Toriel, ever the warmhearted, turned her attention back onto the human child. “My child, it seems as if you must stay here for a while.” Sans found it surprisingly easy to keep the smile on his face. Oh yeah. They had needed the human’s soul to break through the barrier. “But looking at all the great friends you have made, I think….I think you will be happy here.”

    The kid beamed at her, at all of them and Sans merely gave a grin back. He tensed, suddenly on guard as Alphys spoke up. “H-hey, that reminds me. Papyrus…you called everyone here, right? Well, besides, uh, her. Uh, anyway…if I got here before you, how did you know how to call everybody?”

    Sans glanced at his brother, trying really hard not to reach out like he wanted to. What in the world was causing him to suddenly be expecting an attack? “LET’S JUST SAY…A TINY FLOWER HELPED ME.”

    It was like his magic turned to ice around his bones but the sudden dread seemed unwarranted. Alphys’s reaction, though, only made the dread grow.

    “A tiny…flower?” she asked, her voice quaking.

    San felt every fiber of his being stand on end at that but he was unable to move as a large vine came through and smacked them all before smaller ones wrapped around each of them and tussled them up, feet off the ground. Pain rippled through him but it wasn’t enough to truly distract him from the conversation. A yellow flower popped up between them and the kid, said flower actually speaking. The kid was suddenly trapped and assaulted by bullets from the flower. Sans watched as the kid’s health fell down to one measly point before there was suddenly interference. And that interference came from Toriel herself.

    “Do not be afraid, my child,” she spoke, her voice calm as the pain that had been running through them all stopped with the flower’s confusion. “No matter what happens, we will always be there to protect you!”

    His brother and Undyne were next to step up to the plate. “THAT’S RIGHT, HUMAN! YOU CAN WIN!! JUST DO WHAT I WOULD DO: BELIEVE IN YOU!!!”

    “Hey! Human!” Undyne called out with a toothy grin. “If you got past ME, you can do ANYTHING! So don’t worry! We’re with you all the way!”

    “Huh? You haven’t beaten this guy yet?” Sans asked, the words flowing without a thought to them. “Come on, this weirdo’s got nothin’ on you.”

    Others stepped up magically and Alphys spoke up, “Technically, it’s impossible for you to beat him…b-but…somehow, I know you can do it!!”

    Sans was tempted to roll his eyes good naturedly at her not very supportive comment.

    “Human,” Asgore added, “for the future of humans and monsters…! You have to stay determined…!”

    Suddenly the room was filling with all sorts of monsters, all of them encouraging the kid, and, for the briefest of moments, Hope warred against the dread still grasping at Sans’s soul. A part of him knew it was pointless to Hope. Things were only going to get worse instead of better. Sure enough, the flower called them all stupid, claiming their souls as pain rushed through Sans and the world turned white.

    Somewhere, somehow, the barrier was destroyed.

    Sans let out a groan, startled yet somehow not surprised to find himself face down on a sheetless mattress. The familiar panic flooded his system but he pushed it down as he shoved at the mattress, gaze snapping around the room. This was all too familiar to be a coincident. His supposed “dream” was too crisp for it to be a mere “dream”, especially now that he could distinctly recall waking up the same way from a very similar “dream” already.

    He frowned and pulled at the world around him. He staggered on his sock covered feet, not quite awake enough to handle the sudden change in position mid shortcut, but at least he didn’t end up on his face.

    The barrier was still there.

    Grief washed through him but this time no sobs ripped themselves from his chest as he took in the barrier. His knees gave out as he touched it, the grief he was feeling almost nothing compared to the phantom grief he could feel echoing it. He looked about but there seemed to be no evidence to what Sans had been experiencing. Feeling exhausted, Sans teleported back to his room.

    He rummaged through the belongings in his room, looking for anything that could be of use. He found a small notebook buried underneath a mound of clothing and he sneered at the mess. When had he become such a slob? He flipped through the pages. All but the first few were blank and what covered the first pages looked to be complicated notes. He frowned down at the equations scrawled across the paper. It looked like high level math and there were notes scrawled in the margins and the rest of the page around any math that appeared. From what he gathered, it looked like some sort of science. Most likely theoretical but he wasn’t sure how much of that was just him pulling answers out of thin air. Maybe if there was a workspace of some kind-

    Sudden pounding at his door made him jump.

    “SANS! TIME TO GET UP!”

    Sans blinked at the door. “Five more minutes, Pap,” he called out, his voice lulling the words about in a manner that spoke of sleepiness he wasn’t feeling.

    “YOU CALLED FOR FIVE MORE MINUTES TEN MINUTES AGO!” his brother countered. The chuckle that left him was involuntary. “TIME TO GET UP!”

    “That was so kind of you, Pap,” he replied. The smile in his words didn’t show on his face as he dressed. “You’re the best.”

    “OF COURSE I AM! NOW HURRY UP AND GET DOWN TO THE KITCHEN! WE HAVE A FULL DAY AHEAD OF US!!”

    Heavy footfall fading away informed him his brother wasn’t hovering. He stilled as he frowned down at the blue jacket in his hand. Déjà vu was probably the closest thing he could put towards what he was feeling but it wasn’t quite right. The “dream” wasn’t fading and seemed to only increase his remembrance of the previous “dream”. He needed time to write all this down. Shoving the notebook into a pocket of the blue jacket, he frowned at the shorts he was about to tug on. Cleanliness was certainly a relative term in the case of his clothing.

    The scent coming from the kitchen wafted to him as he stepped out of his room, closing his door securely behind him out of apparent habit.

    He stopped on the threshold of the kitchen as if anticipating something, but, seeing as he remembered his “dreams” and that these “dreams” were too much like the present, the only thing he was anticipating were his brother’s words.

    He briefly noted his brother’s attire, the same outfit he had seen at least twice now.

    “BROTHER!! GOOD! TAKE A SEAT!! BREAKFAST SPAGETTI IS ALMOST READY!!!”

    “Aw, bro, you shouldn’t have.” The words were playful and urging but they lacked any real thought to them. He hadn’t even been able to recall his response till the words had left him. He was starting to question his own sanity, even as he could have parroted Papyrus’s next words.

    “NONSENSE!!!” Papyrus exclaimed. “BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY! WE MUST BE NOURISHED TO BE ABLE TO BE PRODUCTIVE.”

    The smile came easily as he rested his chin on his palm. “Sure, bro. Whatever you say.”

    The plate of spaghetti was placed before him with ease and Sans poked at it with his fork. Yep, same as last time. It even looked the same. He mentally groaned. This was weird. He grinned at his brother nonetheless and commented, “This looks great, Pap. Even better than your last batch.”

    Papyrus beamed at him and started talking about something in that loud voice of his but it was nothing more than background noise in his head. He discretely touched the notebook in his pocket, wondering if what he had in mind would even work. If he kept “waking up”, would that mean that what he wrote would be erased? Or was he in some sort of temporal loop and the notebook would be dragged along with him?

    He shuddered, grateful when it seemed Papyrus hadn’t noticed. If he was in a temporal loop and what he was experiencing was a sort of resetting, he needed to figure out why it was resetting to him waking up face down in a sheetless mattress.

    He also needed to figure out when he became such the scientist but that was a low priority. If the notebook was anything to go by, he’s had some dealings in science for quite some time, meaning he may have a workspace. He just had to find it.

    He hadn’t realized he had been eating till he took another bite and the familiar bitterness washed over his senses. It somehow seemed less revolting than the last time. He swallowed the bite he had been consuming, still shuddering at the taste. He put his fork down and keyed in to the one sided conversation.

    “Hey, bro, shouldn’t we get going?” he interjected, bringing Papyrus’s train of thought to a halt.

    “YOU ARE RIGHT, BROTHER!” Papyrus exclaimed, jumping to his feet. Sans noted that Papyrus hadn’t really touched his own place. His smile grew bigger on its own. “IF YOU ARE QUITE FINISHED, WE SHALL LEAVE RIGHT AWAY!!”

    Sans passed his plate to his brother.

    Stepping out of the house, Sans took the moment to look towards the underground’s ceiling. There was still a sense of claustrophobia scraping at his soul but this was the first time in two resets he had looked up so he may just be getting used to the ceiling seeming closer than normal.

    “BROTHER, ARE YOU ARLIGHT?”

    Sans blinked, looking up at Papyrus. “Yeah, bro,” he spoke, his words coming easily and the lie even easier. “Guess the sandman wasn’t quite done with me this morning.” Papyrus frowned at him and Sans grinned. “I honestly can’t ‘sand’ the guy.”

    Papyrus threw his hands up. “SANS!!! NOT THIS EARLY IN THE MORNING!!!!”

    Sans’s grin grew. “Don’t worry, Pap, I’m ‘morning’ that one too.”

    “UGH!!!” Papyrus stormed off in the direction of his puzzles and Sans trailed behind him with a soft smile belaying his amusement and fondness. Despite it all, his brother’s reactions were a familiarity he hoped would never change, even if the jokes were the same, horrible taste.

    He came to a stop at the bridge as mild weariness pulled at him. Aw, so that would explain the apathy last run. Apparently, he didn’t have much stamina and, while he hadn’t used as much magic as the last run, physical action seemed to be just as draining as emotional turmoil. Great. Another thing to add to his list of things to keep in mind. He focused back on his brother, spotting the lanky skeleton almost at the other end of the bridge. With no effort, he brushed the world around him with his magic and, as he took a step, he went from one end of the bridge to the other in the blink of an eye. Papyrus glanced back as his boots touched solid ground but the spent magic had already dissipated and Sans gave him a lazy grin as he continued to follow along. The weariness didn’t leave and, while Sans had every intent of spending what little time he had before the human showed up – if his growing suspicion that this was a temporal loop was true – he may end up napping without his own consent.

    The canine royal guards greeted them as they passed. Sans greeted them with words that came easily. When they reached the last puzzle – or the first, depending on the direction one traveled in – Sans looked to his brother, offering, “I’ll trek ahead and check on my post.”

    “DON’T DILLY DALLY, SANS!! WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO!!!”

    Sans chuckled and pulled at the world around him when Papyrus wasn’t looking. As used magic drifted away and dissipated, a stronger wave of weariness rushed his bones. He leaned heavily on his station, taking the moment to collect himself and push through the very strong urge to sleep. He had things to do and very little time to do it in.

    Pulling at the world around him once more, he landed on a high branch and settled down with his back against the trunk. He didn’t even get a chance to touch the notebook as sleep overtook him.

    A low rumble of stone grating against stone filled the quiet forest. His gaze automatically drifted to the door set into the wall as his brain worked to wake up from his inconvenient nap. He watched as the human stepped out. Despite having a hunch that he was in a temporal loop, he could not remember the kid’s name or their face.

    He slipped from his branch. The world shifted around him, bending and stretching as he teleported so that he landed on the tough-looking branch the kid had walked around as spend magic dissipated quickly; the surprise it seemed to entice – whether out of anticipation or true surprise – was still amusing. He fell back a ways before shifting the world around him and returning to a few paces behind the kid. The kid stopped at the bridge and Sans slowly strolled up behind them.

    He came to a stop just outside of arm’s reach, anticipation racing through him like adrenaline. An amused smirk pulled at his smile. “Human,” he states plainly, slowly. “Don’t you know how to greet a new pal? Turn around and shake my hand.”

    The words came easily. The kid turned around slowly but it was clear that the kid wanted to just whip around and take his hand. He reached out, offering his hand to this human that had been labeled a danger by Asgore long before the human had ever fallen.

    The kid took his hand.

    The whoopee cushion deflated between their palms and Sans’s smile broke into a grin. “Heheh. The old whoopee cushion in the hand trick. It’s ALWAYS funny.” The kid gave a happy little giggle as Sans tucked his hand back into his pocket. “Anyways, you’re a human, right? That’s hilarious. I’m Sans. Sans the Skeleton. I’m actually supposed to be on watch for humans right now. But…y’know…” Sans shrugged, “I don’t really care about capturing anybody. Now my brother, Papyrus, he’s a human-hunting FANATIC.” Motion over the kid's head drew Sans's attention briefly and his face lit up. He’d know that silhouette anywhere and would always be glad to see it. “Hey, actually, I think that’s him over there.” He focused back on the kid, catching the tail end of their rotation to see what he was looking at. “I have an idea.” The kid looked back at him. “Go through this gate thingy.” The kid glanced at the gate, at ease. Sans nodded. “Yeah, go right through. My bro made the bars too wide to stop anyone.”

    The kid turned right around and walked through the massive structure’s posts. Sans kept pace with them, following them through to the other side and then some. The conveniently-shaped lamp was still by his station, awaiting to be useful. “Quick, behind that conveniently-shaped lamp.”

    The kid gave him a smile and hurried to hide behind the lamp. Just in time, too. Papyrus came striding in like he always did, with a purpose and an air of confidence. It made Sans’s smile turn endearing. “Sup, bro?”

    “YOU KNOW WHAT “SUP,” BROTHER!” Papyrus snapped, his voice at its loudest volume as it always seemed to be in. “IT’S BEEN EIGHT DAYS AND YOU STILL HAVEN’T RECALIBRATED. YOUR. PUZZLES! YOU JUST HANG AROUND OUTSIDE YOUR STATION! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?!?”

    “Staring at this lamp,” Sans easily supplied, gesturing lazily at the lamp the kid had hid behind. He caught the soft sound of giggles. “It’s really cool. Do you wanna look?”

    “NO!! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!!” Papyrus shouted, stomping his foot. “WHAT IF A HUMAN COMES THROUGH HERE!?! I WANT TO BE READY!!! I WILL BE THE ONE! I MUST BE THE ONE! I WILL CAPTURE A HUMAN!” Papyrus shifted his stance, a hand on his hip, a hand on his chest, and somehow his cape billowing dramatically behind him. Sans snorted on a laugh. His brother was the best. “THEN, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL GET ALL THE THINGS I UTTERLY DESERVE! RESPECT…RECOGNITION…I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD! PEOPLE WILL ASK, TO, BE MY, “FRIEND?” I WILL BATHE IN A SHOWER OF KISSES EVERY MORNING.”

    “Hmm,” Sans offered, “maybe this lamp will help you.”

    “SANS!! YOU ARE NOT HELPING!!” Papyrus stomped his foot. “YOU LAZYBONES!! ALL YOU DO IS SIT AND BOONDOGGLE! YOU GET LAZIER AND LAZIER EVERY DAY!!!”

    Sans shrugged, a mischievous half grin on his face. “Hey, take it easy. I’ve gotten a ton of work done today.” He winked. “A skele-ton.”

    Papyrus bristled as another soft round of giggles came from behind the lamp. “SANS!!!”

    “Come on. You’re smiling.”

    “I AM AND I HATE IT!” Papyrus admitted. He sighed. “WHY DOES SOMEONE AS GREAT AS ME HAVE TO DO SO MUCH JUST TO GET SOME RECOGNITION…”

    Sans could not help himself. He felt his grin grow as he commented, “Wow, sounds like you’re really working yourself…down to the bone.”

    Papyrus threw his hands up. “UGH!!! I WILL ATTEND TO MY PUZZLES. AS FOR YOUR WORK? PUT A LITTLE MORE, BACKBONE INTO IT!!!! NYEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE!!!”

    Sans chuckled right along with his brother, so proud. Papyrus made his exit with that laugh and Sans’s chuckles died with the taller skeleton’s exit. He waited, watching Papyrus turn around briefly and give a final, “Heh!” before fully leaving. Once he was sure his brother was fully gone, he shifted his weight and his head to look at the lamp, spotting the kid peaking out at him. “Ok, you can come out now.”

    The kid came bounding out from behind the lamp and right up to him, grinning. Sans chuckled. “You oughta get going. He might come back. And if he does,” Sans winked, “you’ll have to sit through more of my hilarious jokes.” The kid beamed and the words flowed freely from Sans. “What’s the holdup? Look, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” He winked. “It’s just a dark cavern filled with skeletons and horrible monsters.” The kid giggled and Sans couldn’t help but arch an eye ridge at them. “Well?”

    The kid looked up at him and nodded, determination and glee on their face. With a wave goodbye, the kid was off, and Sans gave a huff of a laugh. The kid was definitely something else.

    “Actually, hey,” he called out without prompting. The kid stopped, turning to look at him with an almost expectant expression. “Hate to bother ya, but can you do me a favor? I was thinking, my brother’s been kind of down lately. He’s never seen a human before, and seeing you might just make his day. Don’t worry, he’s not dangerous, even if he tries to be.”

    The human quickly nodded in agreement, giving Sans a thumbs up. Sans shifted his weight lazily. “Thanks a million. I’ll be up ahead.”

    Sans waved goodbye and headed back to the bridge only to pull at the world and step up behind Papyrus.

    “Hey, bro,” Sans called out, gaining his brother’s attention.

    “SANS!” Papyrus commented, partially annoyed. “WHY ARE YOU NOT AT YOUR POST?”

    Sans shrugged, smiling. “Aw, come on, bro. Our conversation conveniently reminded me you never finished your tale from earlier. The one about Undyne.”

    “HONESTLY?” Sans nodded. Papyrus’s face lit up. “SO, AS I WAS SAYING ABOUT UNDYNE–”

    Movement from the path leading to the sentry station drew Papyrus’s attention, cutting his story off. Sans watched Papyrus as the kid approached. Sans looked to the kid when Papyrus looked back at him and looked to Papyrus when his brother returned his gaze to the human. They did this probably eight or nine times till they were spinning around, coming to a stop facing the human. Sans was trying very hard not to fall over as the world kept spinning. The fact that he was trying not to laugh wasn’t helping. Papyrus quickly spun Sans around the other way, rushing in what was as close to a stage whisper as Papyrus got, “SANS!! OH MY GOD!! IS THAT…A HUMAN!?!?!??!?!”

    They turned back around and Sans, out of habit, couldn’t help but mess with his brother. “Uhhhh...Actually, I think that’s a rock.”

    Papyrus deflated. “OH.”

    Sans was quick to bring the wind back into Papyrus’s sails, asking, “Hey, what’s that in front of the rock?”

    Papyrus lit up again, and Sans was very happy to see Papyrus so excited. “OH MY GOD!!!” Papyrus turned to Sans again and questioned in his not-so stage whisper, “IS…IS THAT A HUMAN?”

    “Yes,” Sans returned.

    “OH MY GOD!!! SANS! I FINALLY DID IT!! UNDYNE WILL-I’M GONNA-I’LL BE SO…POPULAR!!! POPULAR!!! POPULAR!!!” Papyrus paused before clearing his throat. Sans chuckled. Papyrus ignored him. “HUMAN! YOU SHALL NOT PASS THIS AREA! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL STOP YOU!!! I WILL THEN CAPTURE YOU! YOU WILL BE DELIVERED TO THE CAPITAL! THEN…THEN!!!” Papyrus hesitated. “I’M NOT SURE WHAT’S NEXT.” Sans snorted as Papyrus didn’t let that little detail stop him. “IN ANY CASE! CONTINUE. ONLY IF YOU DARE!!! NYEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH!!!”

    Laughing, Papyrus hurried on ahead. Sans stayed put and watched his brother run off before turning to the human. “Well, that went well. Don’t sweat it, kid.” He winked. “I’ll keep an eyesocket out for ya.”

    With his last tidbit to the human, Sans turned and followed after his brother till he was out of sight of the human. A surge of magic and Sans was a good distance behind the human, out of sight but close enough to watch. He followed the human, watching as a Snowdrake came and started a fight. He watched as the battle started, the controls popping up for the human. During the whole fight, the human never pressed FIGHT. Instead, they made bad ice puns and laughed at the Snowdrake’s jokes. Whatever concern Sans may have had about the human’s wellbeing was laid to rest. Sans warped the world around him.

    Time seemed to vanish. Sans kept with his brother for the most part till the kid left Snowdin. It was fun watching his brother’s reaction to the human. After that, Sans sporadically tailed the kid, manning his stations or hanging with Papyrus if he lost the kid for a bit. He found it was easiest to just be at his stations. There were only two times that he went out of his way to be with the kid. One was when he gave the kid his warning at the too fancy of a restaurant.

    The second time was when he Judged the kid.

    Unsurprisingly, he didn’t have to act. The kid was dust free, EXP untouched, and he grinned at the kid, oddly proud. He teleported away, feeling mildly odd. Strange. Why did it feel like something was missing?

    His phone rang and he pulled it out, catching his brother’s name. Pressing answer, he held the device to the side of his skull and dutifully answered. “Sup, bro.”

    “SANS!!! GET TO THE CASTLE AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!! WE HAVE TO AID THE HUMAN!!!”

    Sans smiled, already hearing his brother’s footfall as the lanky skeleton ran towards him. “Huh. You don’t say. Guess it’s a good thing I’m already at the castle.”

    Sans watched as Papyrus skidded to a stop not far from where Sans was out of direct view. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT THE CASTLE?!” Papyrus asked, staring incredulously at the device in his hand.

    Sans stepped out of his spot as he pocketed his phone, shrugging, “Thought I’d catch the sights. It’s a beautiful day today.”

    Papyrus stormed right up to him and grabbed him by the arm, dragging him along. “YOU CAN TELL ME ABOUT IT ON THE WAY. WE DO NOT WANT TO BE LATE AIDING THE HUMAN!!”

    Sans couldn’t help the grin on his face as his brother released him in order to storm the room ahead. Sans followed, catching his brother’s words only due to his brother’s natural volume of loud.

    “HEY! NOBODY FIGHT ANYONE! IF ANYONE FIGHTS ANYONE….THEN I’LL!!! BE FORCED!!! TO ASK UNDYNE FOR HELP!!!”

    Sans chuckled, shaking his head. That was his brother for ya. Other things were said but he missed them as he slid into the room and greeted familiar and not so familiar faces. “Hey guys. What’s up?”

    The one face he couldn’t put his finger on spoke up, though it wasn’t overly loud and almost sounded like she had said, “That voice!” The goat monster approached, happily greeting, “Hello, I think we may know each other?”

    That alone made the first statement make a whole lot more sense as Sans grinned at her. “Oh hey…I recognize your voice, too.”

    “I am Toriel,” she offered. “So nice to meet you.”

    He couldn’t help but wink at her. “The name’s Sans, and, uh, same.”

    “Oh! Wait, then…” she turned her attention to Papyrus and Sans’s expression became fond. “This must be your brother, Papyrus! Greetings, Papyrus! It is so nice to finally meet you. Your brother has told me so much about you.”

    “WOWIE…I CAN’T BELIEVE ASGORE’S CLONE KNOWS WHO I AM!!! THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!”

    Sans chuckled. Only the Great Papyrus. Toriel spoke up again. “Hey, Papyrus…what does a skeleton tile his roof with?”

    Sans had to swallow a laugh, anticipation rolling through him, as Papyrus’s sockets narrowed. “HMMM…” the lankier skeleton voiced as he thought. “SNOW-PROOF ROOF TILES???”

    “No, silly!” Toriel quickly replied. “A skeleton tiles his room with…shin-gles!!!”

    Sans shared a grin with Toriel as Papyrus nearly lost his shit. “I CHANGED MY MIND!!! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!”

    From there it just went from funny to hilariously awkward as Mettaton appeared out of nowhere somewhere in all the chatter and encouraged Alphys and Undyne to kiss. Toriel’s reaction was probably his favorite, rushing to be between them and stop it, all in the name of not doing it in front of the kid.

    Toriel, ever the warmhearted, turned her attention back onto the human child. “My child, it seems as if you must stay here for a while.” Sans found it surprisingly easy to keep the smile on his face. Oh yeah. They had needed the human’s soul to break through the barrier. “But looking at all the great friends you have made, I think….I think you will be happy here.”

    The kid beamed at her, at all of them and Sans merely gave a grin back. He tensed, suddenly on guard as Alphys spoke up. “H-hey, that reminds me. Papyrus…you called everyone here, right? Well, besides, uh, her. Uh, anyway…if I got here before you, how did you know how to call everybody?”

    Sans glanced at his brother, trying really hard not to reach out like he wanted to. What in the world was causing him to suddenly be expecting an attack? “LET’S JUST SAY…A TINY FLOWER HELPED ME.”

    It was like his magic turned to ice around his bones but the sudden dread seemed unwarranted. Alphys’s reaction, though, only made the dread grow.

    “A tiny…flower?” she asked, her voice quaking.

    San felt every fiber of his being stand on end at that but he was unable to move as a large vine came through and smacked them all before smaller ones wrapped around each of them and tussled them up, feet off the ground. Pain rippled through him but it wasn’t enough to truly distract him from the conversation. A yellow flower popped up between them and the kid, said flower actually speaking. The kid was then trapped and assaulted by bullets from the flower. Sans watched as the kid’s health fell down to one measly point before there was suddenly interference. And that interference came from Toriel herself.

    “Do not be afraid, my child,” she spoke, her voice calm as the pain that had been running through them all stopped with the flower’s confusion. “No matter what happens, we will always be there to protect you!”

    His brother and Undyne were next to step up to the plate. “THAT’S RIGHT, HUMAN! YOU CAN WIN!! JUST DO WHAT I WOULD DO: BELIEVE IN YOU!!!”

    “Hey! Human!” Undyne called out with a toothy grin. “If you got past ME, you can do ANYTHING! So don’t worry! We’re with you all the way!”

    “Huh? You haven’t beaten this guy yet?” Sans asked, the words flowing without a thought to them. “Come on, this weirdo’s got nothin’ on you.”

    Others stepped up magically and Alphys spoke up, “Technically, it’s impossible for you to beat him…b-but…somehow, I know you can do it!!”

    Sans was tempted to roll his eyes good naturedly at her not very supportive comment.

    “Human,” Asgore added, “for the future of humans and monsters…! You have to stay determined…!”

    Suddenly the room was filling with all sorts of monsters, all of them encouraging the kid, and, for the briefest of moments, Hope warred against the dread still grasping at Sans’s soul. A part of him knew it was pointless to Hope. Things were only going to get worse instead of better. Sure enough, the flower called them all stupid, claiming their souls as pain rushed through Sans and the world turned white.

    Somewhere, somehow, the barrier was destroyed.

    Sans wanted to tear the mattress beneath him to shreds.