Red Light District
Chapter 15: We both know what’s gonna happen to me.
“That’s it, turn around dear, and stand up straight. I want to see how it looks from the back.”
There was a silent moment, except for the zip of fabric brushing on fabric as Sans fidgeted, where Muffet appeared to drink in the final stitch job.
He was decked out in the newest creation from the spiders that populated the walls of Red City, presumably family of Muffet’s and almost certainly the way in which most parts of the complex were ‘bugged.’ They were also, apparently, adept seamstresses and the reason Muffet never seemed to lack for perfectly fitting, bespoke outfits to dress Sans up in, despite his unusually small stature. Sans had a suspicion that Muffet had them recycle the thread from old outfits when she got bored of them.
Using Sans as a dress up doll had to be the number one reason next to whoring that Muffet had bought him, Sans thought as she circled around his still body and smoothed out the waist on his new coat jacket. Her fingers ran delicately through the faux fur on the collar, one fingertip brushing Sans’ face so incidentally and gently that it sent a little shiver of pleasure up his spine.
“I did say once, didn’t I, that you have a certain brand? This look really suits you, dearie. It’s quite cute.”
Just like how Sans had thought he could never get used to offering his body to strange monsters every night, this too had become a new level of hell he had grown disturbingly accustomed to. Some feeling came back, and he was able to find his gratitude that at least Papyrus was still doing well, that the human child was apparently under the protection of the king himself and didn’t seem in danger of a horrific end any time soon. And that awful, slimy weight to Sans’ used up soul became his new normal.
It seemed there was just no limit to how much a monster could endure.
As the beginnings of emotions came back, Sans was also able to be ashamed of himself for frightening Frisk, a mere child, with all the talk of offing himself. Despite having the king of all monsters at their side, they were still attached to Sans and his fate somehow, still visited him constantly, sometimes just to nudge into his side and allow him to comfort them like he’d never had to do for Papyrus. Sans felt a selfish assurance that at least they acted like they needed him as much as he was sure he’d grown to need them.
In spite of Sans’ doubts, the break after the slug actually did some good to pull him together. It helped that Muffet had taken to him like an especially spoiled pet.
Sans had been kept on a strict diet in Red City ever since the morning Muffet caught him eating nearly a dozen pancakes in one sitting. But suddenly, it seemed all her tough restrictions on him had been lifted, and without prompting she was bringing him probably every dessert Red City had on the cafeteria menu, and some clearly off-menu items that had been frosted and decorated with a little extra homemade love. She even brought him some fried foods that must have come from street vendors outside in New Home.
Muffet never did anything out of charity, but whether she was preparing to extort something from Sans or just bribing him for his affection, playing at easing whatever conscience she might have, Sans didn’t care. He didn’t have enough pride to refuse the gifts, and he didn’t have enough self worth to withhold his affection for her.
“Now, could you hand me that lovely little bow that Shyren gifted you? There, thank you, there’s a dear.”
She stooped close enough that Sans got a heady waft of her cookie dough perfume, and her thin fingers slipped over his neck to fasten the bow under the collar of his shirt. They slid forward to his clavicle, straightening the laced ends of the bow to hang over his chest.
“That does add such a nice touch.”
Muffet surprised him with a quick peck on the mouth that left his head spinning, a bare taste of warmth and wetness lingering on his teeth too long for how short the gesture had been.
Matching the fingers and thumbs of both hands into adjacent L-shapes, like the view of a camera, Muffet savored one last look at Sans in the suit before motioning him to take it off and fold it.
This time, though, she didn’t have another outfit ready to get him into next. She took each item of clothing from him one by one, until he found himself stripping down entirely in front of her. He didn’t have much in the way of shame around Muffet anymore, but Muffet putting on gloves as soon as he was bare did elicit a spark of fear from him.
Muffet led Sans to the bed in the room, indicating he should lay down and spread for her.
Sans hadn’t actually been fully awake and aware like this for Muffet to check on how everything had healed. Now he got all the way to laying down, and then he was trembling hard, his magic still unformed.
A cool hand stroked his head, another petting the crest of his ilium where another monster’s waist would be. Sans swallowed, opening his legs and letting the magic coalesce into his pussy.
“There’s a dear.”
Muffet must have coated her gloves in lube at some point, because the touch was cold and gel-like, fingers sliding into the opening of his pussy to ease it wider, Muffet’s head dipping to look in. She felt at him for only a moment before her hands were drawn away and her gloves coming off, but there was a rush to it that suggested she had been interrupted, rather than just having finished that quickly.
She was leaning over his face, wiping something wet, and- oh, he was crying.
“Oh, oh honey, it’s alright. We can stop. It’s okay.”
Sans choked on a lump in his throat, and suddenly piteous gasps were coming from him.
“I’m scared…I’m scared, Muffet…”
“I know dear. Shh.”
“I’m so scared…”
“There, dear, we’re done. We won’t keep going. It’s alright. I won’t make you.”
Muffet framed his face with four hands, petting it smoothly with one set of hands over the other, so he was always being touched.
“All you’ve been through. You’re so brave, honey.”
Sans had probably never felt less brave than while he was weeping wretched and naked under her as she did nothing more sinister than coddle his ridiculousness, but he could appreciate that she was considerate enough to lie.
It seemed like Sans’ life was being Muffet’s lapdog, now. Although maybe that wasn’t the right word for it, with its implications of servitude and running around. This was more literal: Sans spent most of his time either close in Muffet’s presence, or actually in her lap.
It wasn’t so bad. He didn’t have to go with her on her rounds of the complex, didn’t have to see anyone else’s face if he didn’t ask. Muffet’s company wasn’t bad either. Since dealing with how delicate Sans had been, she must have perfected her impression of warmth, because it had become indistinguishable from the real thing.
The methodical way she set up a bath for him tonight had the air of a ritual around it. Clothes folded on a dry bench. Muffet’s sleeves rolled to her elbows. The hint of aftercare already set up with a pillowy towel and lotions settled on top. It gave Sans the impression she intended to make this a part of their regular routine.
Sans wasn’t sure if it was better or worse that she lowered him into the bath herself, held like an infant, or an invalid. It did add to the atmosphere of helplessness, that Sans could do nothing but ride along the journey of his fate by carriage, incapable of changing course and therefore blameless. So he would go ahead and call it better this way.
A waft of thick aroma breathed up from the bath in a cloud as he was eased into the water, a slight shimmer and cloying density the only other hints that Muffet had added something to the bathwater. Sans idly lifted one hand above the surface, and sure enough a thin film twinkled over his bones as they peeked out in the air. He was probably going to sparkle for weeks after this.
Muffet poured a sweet-smelling soap into the bath after him, lathering up her hands in it before rubbing the foamy bubbles over his back. Sans couldn’t restrain a contented sigh as the lather was massaged into his shoulder blades with four of her thumbs. His eyes closed stupidly one at a time in pleasure. Sans was taken with a stray thought that it would almost be a waste if this wasn’t in preparation for sex, because he finally felt ready for it.
An odd pulling sensation distracted Sans from that line of thinking. Had the tub been unplugged somehow? The water level wasn’t draining.
There was a rip. It was like the sound of a piece of paper tearing, except how it must sound from the perspective of the ink on a typed page. It was huge and it was unfathomable, and it was happening right below Sans. It wasn’t physical, but he could sense it, could feel it like a chasm of unrelenting emptiness, calling in everything around it in a swirl of wrongness.
Sans smelt burning rubber. Time burnout? Well, Sans didn’t really have complaints if he was just being forced to experience this luxurious bath over and over again. He was about relaxed enough for that to be the case. It felt like he was sinking in the bath, smothering in it, feeling warmth all around him as he fell and bounced on a thick, wet mattress.
Or no. That was literally what was happening?
Sans shivered on the soaked sheets, dumbly trying to catch up to his existence.
He was in one of the private rooms for workers to entertain clients. He was sprawled on a large, cushy four poster bed. He was naked, Muffet and the bath were nowhere to be seen, and the squishy comforter was drenched in what smelled suspiciously like bath water.
Sans wasn’t high on pudding again, was he?
He barely dared to move. The curtains of the four poster were drawn all around him, and if experience taught him anything, a client was waiting right outside them, ready to make his life hell with some creatively sexual sadism.
He didn’t hear anything. With some trepidation, Sans crawled forward and delicately pulled back one of the curtains.
No one was in here.
An unused room? What was he doing here?
Then the lock clicked open, and the door was swinging out. Here it was. Before Sans could withdraw back into the curtained bed and wait for his fate to approach him like the coward he was, he saw the dangling light of Shyren’s head peeking into the room.
The rest of her followed, and when she caught sight of Sans, her face transformed in a way Sans couldn’t parse. He wasn’t sure anyone had ever looked at him like that.
She rushed forward suddenly, gathering him up in her arms and squeezing the life out of him like she wanted to take it for her own.
“Oh Sans, oh my god. I thought you were dead. I…I missed you so much.”
Sans heard a warbled intake of breath, a sob over him that sprinkled on the top of his skull as he was enveloped in her.
Then it was taken away, Shyren letting go of him and putting her hands up to either side of her face.
“I’m- sorry, you don’t like being touched like that, do you?”
Sans’ arms were already reaching out in a plea for her hold to return, his mouth a little open and his sockets a little wet, too. He didn’t think he’d ever wanted touch so badly. After everything, Shyren’s open show of affection was a physical declaration of something Sans couldn’t be without now that he’d tasted it.
With a look at Sans’ reaction, Shyren fell right back into clasping around him. They stayed attached interminably; time must have stopped along with whatever else was going awry with it, because Sans felt frozen in the moment by the smell of Shyren’s skin, the soft sigh of a few more broken sobs, the shifting of her fins on his back as she couldn’t seem to decide how to hold onto him.
Finally, she drew back from him, but she held onto his shoulders, her eyes puffy and watery.
“It’s so good to see you. Let’s…let’s get you into some clothes, out of this room…”
As Sans was wrapped up with a sheet around his shoulders and whisked willingly along down the hall, he thought of the other workers he knew, and he was overtaken by a sudden, embarrassing greed for more of this sappy treatment.
“Um. Where’s Cecil at right now…?”
Shyren stopped, and Sans nearly bowled over into her. She didn’t turn at first, only looking straight ahead.
“I haven’t seen Cecil for some time now.” Sans felt a constriction in his soul, and Shyren turning her head to show a face of fresh tears didn’t reassure him. She put a fin to her mouth, her voice shaking. “I’m actually…I’m very worried…”
They ended up holed up in Shyren’s room, which Sans had never visited before. It was a little more homey than Sans’, decorated with posters and show bills, and with a vanity in addition to the standard dresser. It looked so lived in, with a collection of cutesy makeup kits and perfumes in front of the framed oval mirror, clothes hanging over the chairs but still folded, and a dim, romantic lighting that suggested she’d purchased her own lamps and arranged them herself. The atmosphere made Sans feel oddly homesick for a place that was never his.
Shyren had calmed some, enough for her to start talking again at least.
“After you, well…I thought you had died…you were in a session that you never came out of. Muffet was guarded about the circumstances, but one of the workers on monitor said that you’d been…stabbed.”
Sans felt a phantom stinging where his abdomen would be, and he clutched pointlessly at the bottom of his shirt.
“It was…some time after that, when Cecil was with a client, and came out…” Shyren started wiping at her eyes. “…different, worse than before…but Muffet didn’t…let me see them…” Shyren’s face sunk into her fins. “I should have…it’s been so long, I should have done something…” Her shoulders gave a jerk. “I don’t even know if they’re still in the Red City complex…”
Sans reached out and tentatively set a hand on Shyren’s arm. He’d never seen her like this in the entire time he’d known her, and it was making his soul ache hard in his chest. He didn’t know how to deal with her grief at all, much less the new hole opening up inside himself at the thought of the little mouse being…gone.
“Is Frisk around?”
Sans didn’t know why he always thought of the human child when things seemed fucked beyond reason, but he reached for the idea of them like a lifesaver floating in a choppy sea.
Shyren, however, only looked confused, her head lifting from her cupped fins.
That couldn’t be right. Shyren had met Frisk, and it wasn’t like her at all to forget someone she’d seen so recently. Sans was about to delve into that new issue when the door to Shyren’s room was opened without a knock. Sans didn’t have to turn to know who it was, but he did anyway, obediently giving over his attention like he’d been trained.
Muffet didn’t look at all like she did when she’d been bathing him just a bit ago. Her face was somewhere below cold fury as she took him in with her many eyes.
Sans went solid stiff, terrified by the accusation in Muffet’s tone. Muffet entered the room with the ominous sweep of a death shroud.
“You were here all along? Where were you hiding?”
Sans had no idea how to answer her. Even if he knew, he was too paralyzed by fright to give her anything more than a tiny whimper.
“Do you have any idea what you cost me?”
Shyren’s arm came around Sans protectively, and he wanted to relinquish everything to her so badly, as unfair as it was. He wanted to sink back into her arms like a
Or was that what was literally happening?
Sans rubbed his hands over his face, wiping the bath water away to see Muffet staring at him from over the rim of the tub. Sans couldn’t restrain his quaking as he was faced with her this close, but she didn’t have any of the icy anger of a second ago. She only looked impossibly confused by something about Sans. Sans looked around himself for anything that could clue him in.
It was a perfectly normal bath, just as it was…before?
Muffet shook her head.
“Oh dear, I seem to have…spaced a bit.”
She smiled at Sans.
“Let’s get you dry and cozy, hm?”
Sans was too out of sorts to do anything but enthusiastically agree.
What was wrong with Sans.
The more he thought about the bath incident, the more he was sure it must have been a fall into another timeline. A timeline where Sans was dead, where something awful happened to Cecil. Time had been burning out so much lately, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. It had only been a matter of, well, ‘time’ until everything got tangled. Now things were falling apart. Was this what happened towards the end of a loop, right before things went back to the beginning, wherever that was? Sans supposed he wouldn’t remember anyway, if this was what happened each time.
For some reason, though, Sans couldn’t focus on contemplating a possible end times. His thoughts kept going back to Cecil. He hadn’t bothered to see them of his own volition since the slug. And they’d done so much for him. Right from his arrival, they’d looked after him, no matter how much of a dick he was. They’d done their best to help him in this wretched situation. They’d understood his suffering.
Oh god. Cecil didn’t want to be here.
They didn’t want to do this. How could Sans have just ignored that like it didn’t matter?
It was like the lock to a safe opened in Sans’ brain, and a flood of revelations overwhelmed him at once.
Sans may have been trapped by more than the brute strength of Muffet’s guards, but Cecil wasn’t, were they? It wasn’t like the king had any particular stake in Cecil’s captivity here. They’d told Sans themself, they were an orphan. They were all alone.
No family to disappoint.
Didn’t they say they were interested in the Royal Guard? Didn’t Sans have an obvious in as far as that was concerned? Far from having a reason to keep Cecil here, if there were potential for them to increase the strength of the monster army, King Asgore could only benefit from them getting out of here and training with Papyrus.
Sans bolted up from the bed he’d been wallowing on with more energy than he’d felt in a long while, wired with the idea that he could actually make something good happen. Sans had probably never been so motivated to do something so hopelessly naive, but he had to try. He had to talk to Cecil.
He wasn’t far out of the room before he was met with Muffet, like usual. He’d been staying in one of her personal rooms lately instead of his own. As shameful as it was, sleeping near her eased his nightmares considerably.
Sans let Muffet pet him peacefully for a moment before coming out with it.
“I wanna go see Cecil today.”
Muffet’s stroking hand paused. Her face fell into puzzlement. That was fair- he hadn’t really requested anything or even willingly ventured out of her presence since she’d made herself so available to him.
“They’re busy, dear. You can spend the day with me today.”
Suddenly that didn’t sound as generous as it had the past while. Muffet smiled and resumed petting him. Sans swallowed, already losing the confident air of his initial request.
“I…wanna see them when they’re done…?”
“Maybe, dear, we’ll see. I’m sure they’ll be tired.”
Sans felt chills floating up like dust motes, a familiar anxiety brewing in response to being shut down.
Was Sans wrong?
Was it both timelines where something terrible had happened to the little mouse?
Muffet’s behavior didn’t get any less suspicious. It seemed Sans’ isolation wasn’t a kindness to him after all- it was a convenience to Muffet for whatever reason, and she wasn’t easy about giving it up. Sans found himself followed wherever he tried to go, ‘encouraged’ not to go to more populated areas of the complex.
Finally after the third or fourth failed attempt to escape her watch, Sans took the possibly fatal option of challenging her directly. Or as challenging as he could still manage when he looked into her face, anyway.
“Muffet, I…I want to see Cecil. I want to see them, I’m not gonna…I’m not gonna stop asking until I see them.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Sans, you really have become spoiled. Let’s go, then; I’ll take you so you can stop pestering me.”
That wasn’t…quite the response Sans was expecting. He felt that building uneasiness again as Muffet led him down the hall, like he was going to arrive at an empty location and then be given some elaborate excuse why Cecil wasn’t there, why he couldn’t see them for the foreseeable future, why Sans and Muffet were headed out back to put a bag over Sans’ head and shoot him from behind instead.
But none of those things happened.
They arrived at the rec room, peering in from the door, and Cecil was right there on the other side of the room.
They were alive. They were surrounded by other workers, chatting and laughing. They looked healthy.
They looked kind of pissed to see him.
Muffet put two hands on Sans’ shoulder and arm, speaking softly to him with her head lowered to his level.
“Apparently they were just a bit peeved about you ignoring them for so long.” Muffet’s hands pat his arm consolingly. “It’s alright, dear, I’m sure they’ll forget about it and want to see you soon enough.”
Cecil didn’t look at them long before their attention returned to the other workers, playing the game of Monopoly they’d salvaged with pogs replacing the main pieces.
The bottom dropped out of Sans’ soul, sending him into a pit. For the first time since he’d voluntarily hidden himself away with Muffet, he felt truly alone.
Muffet’s face appeared above him as he woke, swimming into his vision and solidifying into his new world.
“Sans, dear, how would you like to go outside with me?”
By the time they were halfway down a stairwell that curled deep into the complex, Sans thought he might have run out of time to ask why Muffet lied about going ‘outside’ when they were as far as he figured it was possible to be from any exit he knew of. Before he knew it, though, Muffet was opening a door to a damp cavern with rocky walls, glittering with moss and algae as if they’d suddenly transported all the way back to Waterfall.
Muffet looked over Sans’ face and giggled.
“You know that Red City is in a restaurant district, yes? This is one of the old paths for collecting natural ingredients.”
She took a cone-shaped object out of a pocket with one hand, another hand swiping some of the glowing algae from the wall and scooping it into the top of the cone, providing them with a meager light as they progressed. With an unoccupied hand, she rubbed affectionately over Sans’ skull all the while she spoke, and Sans shamelessly pushed into the touch like a cat.
“Red City is the only building with access to these paths, so the food store’s all ours.” She smiled down at Sans. “There’s a reason dinner’s so nice here, you know.”
Sans hoped she didn’t mean what he thought about collecting natural ingredients, but the first hint of other growths on the walls, slimy and distinctly fungal, confirmed it. Sans had suspected for a long time that there was no actual meat on Red City’s cafeteria menu. That was common enough in the Underground, and Sans had no real objection to the taste of fungus, especially when it was dressed up to be practically indistinguishable from a juicy steak or mince. Sans was probably one of the least picky eaters there were.
It was the texture. When you could tell you were eating a mushroom, that spongey, slick feeling, the brush of little compressed sheets like the folds of gray matter- it made Sans’ bones prickle unpleasantly just at the thought. Seeing Muffet scrape gooey threads from the walls into a woven basket for keeping didn’t exactly help.
He was going to go back to eating only breads and sweets for dinner every night, and he was going to get fat again, and she was going to be mad at him.
Sans’ foot slipped, and the ground gave underneath, breaking with a sickly series of wet snaps like a thick spiderweb pulling apart. He tumbled down a slant of earth, landing on his back on a cushy bedding of something he didn’t want to think too hard about.
He stayed there blinking in the dark for a moment, trying to come back to himself after the fall. A heady wall of odor blocked him, hitting him with the violence of a crashing vehicle. All he could process was the smell of death, and slime creeping between the joints of his fingers.
Sans trembled all over, trapped by his own senses until a dim light from up above lit up part of Muffet’s face, eyes shimmering small and far away at the top of the ditch.
“Dear? Are you alright?”
Something whimpering and wet bubbled out of Sans’ throat, but he moved his limbs to show to her, and perhaps prove to himself as well, that he at least wasn’t hurt.
“Okay, honey. It’s okay, I’ll get you up- oh, you’ve found the stinkhorns.”
That smell. Sans took another look around him with the aid of the soft lighting coming down the hole.
He was surrounded by some of the ugliest growths he’d ever laid eyes on, sweaty bulbs shooting toward the cave ceiling with dark caps that would have been humorously phallic if Sans had lived another life. As it was, the webby white veils that sprouted from the caps reminded him too much of things he’d actually had put inside him. They were like a visualization of what violation felt like, porous webs shifting under the light as if they were moving, reaching for someone to stick on.
Sans whimpered again, crawling shakily to the slanted wall of the ditch and trying to climb. His fingers dug into white slime, the deflated bodies of dead fungi that released a fresh waft of stink like rotting flesh. Sans gasped.
“No…no…please master…don’t…please let me out, I’ll be good…”
A voice above him was a little closer than before, a promise that this could end. Sans still couldn’t stop his shaking. His hands felt like they were slowly being swallowed by the slime, and it froze his whole body.
“Please don’t…punish me anymore, I’ve learned my…lesson, please, I can’t do this…”
“Oh…honey…” The kind voice was a few feet above him now, and his skull snapped up to see Muffet propelling down the hole with webbing. “You’re not being punished, dear, don’t cry. You just took a little fall, that’s all. It’s okay now.”
Sans yanked his hands out of the muck on the wall and swiped an arm over his sockets as he returned suddenly to unforgiving reality, horrified that he was standing there crying and begging because he’d fallen into a batch of smelly fucking dick mushrooms.
Except that the muck was still on his arms, and now it was clinging to his sockets.
Sans breathed in sharply, feeling like he was going to faint right there.
The rest of the world dimmed to a dull thrum of non-noise as he savagely scraped his eyes, attacking the sticky film. A maze of white overtook his vision, pulling him into a dizzy, circuitous map of flaps and folds like he was staring into sunbleached entrails. His line of sight swirled, terminating at a sea of grayish ooze.
“Wow. Didn’t expect to see you again. Or, well…ever.”
The world had shifted. Sans was on his back, but hard flooring was under him, and hands that were definitely not Muffet’s were on him. He could vaguely see the return of the artificial lighting of Red City through white, gluey webs, could feel the tail end of something like an engine revv as time fell apart on him again.
The fungal goo was still on his face, so that all had really happened. But where and when was he now? And who was touching him. The fingers were thin and hard, the voice wrong- at least wrong to hear it coming from someone who wasn’t-
The mess was swiped off his sockets with a clean sleeve, revealing Sans’ own face looking down at him.
The him over him put a hand to his chin. Sans wasn’t aware that was a gesture he did.
Sans scooted along the floor a bit, pushing himself up with his elbows, trying to think over everything that had just occurred.
“I…probably.” He eyed the smear of white gunk on his clone’s sleeve. “I think I might’ve gone through a wormhole in a fungus?”
“…are you sure you didn’t just get high.”
The clone offered a hand to help him up, and Sans didn’t see any reason not to take it.
“So…did you ever wonder if, you met yourself-”
“-if you could finish your own sentences?”
That answered that. Both of them looked each other over silently for another moment before snorting almost giddily.
“Weird. I kinda thought I’d hate myself more.”
The clone shrugged.
“Same. I guess that’s too much work.”
“Give it time, then.”
The other him shook his dirty sleeve, making a face at the grime clinging to it. He didn’t look at Sans as he spoke.
“Did you go back?”
The clone waved a hand, impatient for Sans to catch up.
“When Muffet caught me with Shyren, I felt a pull like a wormhole. But nothing happened to me. Was that you?”
Sans had to think about that for a second. This version of him had probably had a little more time with these thoughts.
“That’s when I appeared back in the bath…”
“In our regular timeline.” The clone gestured at the air. “This is the one where we’re dead. I stayed here, so we must have split.”
Split? One of him went back to normal, the other forced to stay behind, displaced in another time. Sans stared at himself.
“You mean, we just…like an amoeba?”
“Like an amoeba.”
Sans stood still with that information for a bit. For something like that to happen…if time fell apart again, or when it did…would he continue to split? And if he did, was there any telling whether he would be the consciousness that moved on…or stayed behind? Which one of him was the ‘real’ one? It was probably both, all of them, but…what was he personally going to experience?
The amoeba Sans waved his hand in front of Sans’ eyes, grabbing his attention back.
“There ain’t time for daydreaming, me. Shit got serious back here and…we’ve got work to do. Now at least I’ve got someone to spitball with.”
Sans didn’t have to reach far to think what he might be talking about.
The clone nodded.
“But, I found them…they were fine, they just…didn’t wanna see me.”
“Guess again, dumb fuck. This is a timeline where we died a while ago, remember?” The amoeba him broke eye contact. “Cecil had to take care of the…slug…instead of us.”
Sans took one step back involuntarily, then a few more before ice swallowed his body and numbed his extremities in abject horror.
“They…they had to…?”
He was grabbed by the shoulders, the clone shaking him once like he was waking someone.
“Yeah, I know, I get it, it’s horrible, but I’ve been through the denial stage already and it’s really annoying and time consuming, so can we just move on to fucking doing something?”
Sans heard him, but he still couldn’t feel his fingers. He looked down at them stupidly, like he could move them with his eyes.
“Um, yeah, let’s…do you have a plan, or…?”
“For fuck’s sake.”
Sans was released, and the clone walked toward the door. Sans was only starting to take in his surroundings- his own room in Red City, which he hadn’t been in in who knew how long.
“Grab some clothes and come with me. You smell fucking putrid.”
Sans stiffly went to the dresser and redressed on autopilot.
“I, uh. Wormhole in a fungus, remember? It uh. It wasn’t a first class flight.”
The clone tapped his foot, standing in the door jamb without any apparent thought to Sans’ modesty about changing while the door was open. Not that Sans had been shown dignity by anyone in Red City, he supposed.
“Whatever. I’ve got something to show you.”
Sans was hesitant to ask why his clone appeared to be taking him the way to the visitor’s hall, so he directed the conversation elsewhere first.
“So…have you found Cecil? In this timeline?”
The clone shook his head.
“I got the rest of the story from Shyren, a little from Muffet. She’s super pissed at me for not being dead, or something, so thanks for leaving me with that, by the way.”
Sans wasn’t really sure how to take that. He hadn’t gone through a hole in time on purpose, but it wasn’t like he could say he wouldn’t act as bitterly to being the one left behind. In fact, he could now definitively say that he would.
The visitor’s hall in sight, Sans now had some new questions about what he was looking at.
“Has anyone else…noticed the…?”
“The swiss cheese of spacetime holes in the wall? Not that anyone’s mentioned to me, no.”
Right over the bench that Sans always sat at to await visitors from the outside, there was a series of holes of varying sizes spread out like they were suspended in an invisible wall. Each of them blurred towards the edges, so it was impossible to tell how this reality and the holes coexisted. Some of them appeared to be interconnected, hollow worms of distortion linking them in ways that defied the eyes, a tangling of optical illusions impossible to trace. Sans was strangely reminded of a large hamster cage with plastic tubings.
The clone approached them, unconcerned.
“But then again, I’ve been doing my best to avoid everyone while I try to figure things out, and they seem just convinced enough that they imagined me coming back, so…”
That notion struck Sans with some confliction. As hard as it was for Sans to conceive of himself having any significant impact on others’ lives, he couldn’t get the image out of his head of Shyren’s face when she saw him here. And now his clone was playing some disappearing game, trying to trick her into thinking he was still dead.
He turned to Sans, holding a hand out.
“See your phone?”
That took Sans a moment. He reached into his pocket, almost surprised to feel his phone still there. It occurred to him suddenly to wonder if it still worked, after its trip through dimensions. He took it out to peer at it.
The clone snatched the phone out of Sans’ hands and unceremoniously tossed it into a wormhole.
Sans stood with his mouth hanging open, not quite caught up to what just happened. When he did catch up, he almost hit himself. The him standing in front of him, at least.
“Fucking asshole! What if I still needed that?”
The clone shrugged, and Sans’ anger was distracted by a whirring, jangling noise. The wormhole closest to the floor puckered, like a grotesque cartoon mouth, and spat out a phone. Sans’ phone.
Sans stooped to pick it up, straightening to see his clone holding out another.
“If you need it, take two.”
The second phone was pressed into his hand, so he had one phone in each. The amoeba him reached into his pockets and showed more phones, like he was fanning out cards for a magic trick.
“I’ve got five so far.”
Sans held up the second- or first? -phone in his hand.
“Where’d this one come from, the one the hole didn’t puke up?”
“It was still in my hand when I threw it. But it also wasn’t. We can bear witness to a quantum phenomenon on a macro scale, an object observable to the naked eye acting like a subatomic particle displaced by photons, and here you are busy calling me an asshole.”
Sans slipped the extra phone in his pocket, grumbling.
“You are an asshole. At least tell me what you’re doing first.”
The clone pointed into the hole he’d tossed the phone into.
“Alright, Mr. Picky, take a look at this.”
Peering through the hole, Sans could see another room. One of the private rooms? Whatever room it was, there was a gaping hole in its floor, inviting like a target. The clone took something else out of his own pocket- one of Muffet’s frosted pastries, the icing smeared from its unpackaged trip. The clone rolled the pastry in one hand, indicating the hole with his other hand.
“I call this one the Duplicator.”
He tossed the pastry in, making a hole-in-one with the alternate dimension hole in the floor of the other room. A moment later, the mouth-hole spat up a second pastry. The clone took a big bite of the pastry still in his hand.
Sans bent down to pick up the second one, and got his hand slapped away. The amoeba him picked that one up, and bit into it too, before stowing the first one. He spoke with a mouthful of crumbs.
The clone pointed to another hole, one towards the corner of the bench. He tossed the bitten pastry through it. Sans watched the mouth-hole expectantly, but nothing came out. The clone got his attention by waving the same bitten pastry in his hand, still there like it had never been thrown.
“All the holes work the same, but the Duplicator connects back to this dimension. That’s why you get two. The other holes still copy what you send through, they just don’t give it back.”
Sans peeked into the bench hole, spotting the tossed pastry sitting on a chair in an alternate dimension room. The clone took another bite of his second pastry.
“I’ve been trying to figure out if there’s a way to send something through without copying, like we got copied. If there is, then that’s the same as an exit.”
The partially eaten pastry was put back into the clone’s pocket, and an apple was taken out.
“Thing is, not everything does copy, but I don’t know why.”
He tossed the apple into the Duplicator, the apple went through the two holes to be spat back up in their dimension, and the clone showed both his hands with a wave. Both empty.
“So what’s the difference?”
Sans picked the apple up from the floor, polishing it on his shirt, but found he wasn’t as tempted to eat it. He just wanted one of those damn pastries. He deposited the apple in his own pocket, grumbling more. His fucking clone could probably make as many of the pastries as he wanted, but was still enough of a jackass to bite both and then put them away. If they made more, he’d probably just lick all of them.
Then something sparked in Sans’ brain. He took the apple back out to look at it.
“You didn’t want to eat this one.”
The clone’s face scrunched, and he put his hands over his pockets like a fucking child protecting his prize.
“Yeah, so? You go through the trouble of discovering interdimensional wormhole rooms yourself, then you can get your own damn snacks.”
“No, no, I mean the answer to your question. What the difference is.”
The clone froze.
He looked into the ‘Duplicator’ wormhole, then back at Sans.
“You’re talking about intent?”
“Are you telling me fucking intent magic works on time?”
“Well…why wouldn’t it? Intentions change the shape of the future all the…time.”
Both of them paused there. In a mirror action, they slowly pointed finger guns at each other, wearing identical stupid grins at the unintentional pun.
Sans rolled the apple in his hand.
“You said all the holes work the same?”
He threw the apple into the bench hole, and sure enough, he didn’t have a copy of the apple in his hand after he threw it. Only this time, without the return hole of the Duplicator, it didn’t come back into their dimension, either. It stayed in the other dimension, rolling to the leg of the chair the pastry still sat on.
What would happen if he took the apple back?
Sans reached in for it, but as soon as he did, a tugging sensation overwhelmed his whole body, and he was tumbling head first into a disorienting fall. He tucked in, trying to save the impact, and ended up rolling on the floor. He looked up in a daze, spotting his clone- through a blurry hole. The clone was frantically trying to peek in with his hands up, apparently wary to touch any part of the wormhole.
“Fuck, fuck, what the fuck were you thinking?!”
Sans sat himself up, trying to collect his thoughts.
“How many of me are back there?”
The clone stopped and looked around himself, stunned.
“Uh…just me, still.”
“I’m coming back.”
“What the fuck, what the fuck, no, what if-”
Sans ignored him, grabbing the apple from the floor and sticking his head into the wormhole. He was tugged again, landing indelicately on the other Sans. Of which there was still only one copy, apparently. The clone squawked indignantly, shoving him off.
“What the fuck!”
Sans brushed himself off as best he could. He held up the apple to look over it, then search around him. It was the only apple, and there wasn’t one visible through the wormhole to the other dimension anymore.
“So why isn’t there more than one of me again?”
The clone’s mouth stretched in a sneer.
“Maybe you didn’t want another you.”
“But it’s not like I intended to copy myself when I left here, either.”
The clone snapped his mouth shut, staring off to the side with a snort. Sans kept gazing at the surface of the apple, tracing the dents from its mistreatment without really seeing them.
“Intent isn’t just what you want, right? It’s…what you’re gonna do. I was gonna come back with the apple, but when I fell out of here the first time, when we were with Shyren…it was by surprise.”
He let the hand with the apple lower to the floor.
“Maybe surprise is a factor.”
He looked over his shoulder at the holes.
“This time, I went back the way I came. You think it’s possible we copied ‘cause the universe got confused what I was gonna do when I left…?”
“Pff.” The clone stood up, dusting his front as if Sans had soiled him by landing on him. “As if you matter that much.”
The clone’s mouth stayed open a little, then his expression softened into a snort of genuine amusement.
Sans put the apple in his pocket. He wasn’t going to eat it, anyway. He peeked into the hole he’d just adventured in, the pastry taunting him from the chair. Going in again would be so much trouble.
He should have taken the fucking pastry back instead.
“Any way you slice it…I think that means this is a good option.”
That declaration got Sans looking at his clone again, who was now peering into each hole one by one, careful not to get close.
“Good option for…Cecil?”
The clone didn’t return his gaze, concentrated on exploring the holes.
“Obviously. Once we find out where they are, we can send them through one of these.”
Sans got himself up off the floor to start looking through holes too, but he wasn’t as certain as amoeba-him seemed to be.
“There’re things that could go wrong…Cecil falling into an unexpected hole while time is still breaking down…finding a hole that’s a version of Red City where Cecil doesn’t have to worry about the slug…” Sans kept looking through holes even while voicing his doubts, not sure what he was looking for. “Cecil…copying if…” If in his heart, Sans wasn’t able to let them go. It would be all his fault they wouldn’t be able to truly escape, just because Sans was in their life and…cared about them…
“Hey dumbass! Check this out.”
Sans was almost grateful to be called out of his train of thought, though he was starting to get a little exhausted by his clone’s constant verbal abuse.
He suddenly thought back to the way he always talked to Cecil with a tight embarrassment and regret.
Amoeba was stretched out on the floor on his stomach, looking through a wormhole that was casting a bright light over his skull.
“Was that one there-?”
“This one’s new. Just opened up.”
Amoeba made a ‘hurry up’ gesture with one hand, not looking Sans’ way. Sans crouched to his knees, getting on the floor next to him to look through.
For a second, all Sans could see was nearly blinding light. Hoping he wasn’t damaging his sight beyond repair, he kept staring with his clone until his eyes adjusted enough to make out…sand. He could faintly hear lapping, something sparkling as it approached and receded in a cycle in the background. Sans’ memories took him to Waterfall, but…
Sans’ sockets were starting to ache with the effort of taking it in, but he didn’t want to even peek over at his clone to check his reaction, too afraid he wouldn’t be able to make out the scene again if he readjusted.
The clone bopped Sans on the shoulder, sounding excited for once.
“It’s the surface. The fucking surface. This is it.”
Sans felt the clone getting up from next to him, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away. He heard the clone pacing.
“We gotta- we gotta fucking hurry-”
Sans blinked, immediately feeling pain in his sockets. He should stop looking in the wormhole, but something was coming towards it. He answered absently.
“Yeah, duh, if this hole wasn’t here before, that means it could disappear- travel, whatever. We gotta find Cecil and get ‘em through.”
The dark shape moving towards the wormhole from the surface end was resolving in Sans’ vision as two shapes- two people walking right towards him. One of them was hobbling slightly with a cane to support them, the other person apparently following.
Sans felt an annoyed push of the clone’s shoe on his side.
“What’s the hold up?”
The people were close enough to identify, but Sans wasn’t sure if he was really seeing what he thought he was seeing.
Because there were two more fucking clones of him on the other side of the wormhole.
Why did Sans feel like this wasn’t the first time he’d seen himself with a cane?
Sans felt his amoeba getting back on the floor to look through, and they both simultaneously became the targets of Cane Sans’ cane-waving ire.
Amoeba pushed a little tighter into Sans’ side, and Sans experienced a sudden, inexplicable camaraderie with him.
The fourth clone, the one on the other side without the cane, had an eyepatch over one socket, and an expression like he was getting a fast one pulled over on him.
“What the fuck is-?”
The one with the cane stopped the eyepatch one from approaching by holding his cane out sideways at the level of the other’s chest.
“Hold on.” Then he looked straight into Sans’ eyes, pointing his cane at him like a threatening old man. “Don’t even think about it. Keep your mess over there.”
Sans froze, eyes flitting to the side to meet his amoeba’s and finding a mirror of the expression he felt on his own face. Whatever face he showed when he looked in the wormhole again probably only served to make him look more guilty. Amoeba spoke.
“Don’t think about…what?”
The other him shook his cane at them.
“Don’t toss your fucking problems into a wormhole, you massive idiot.”
Sans closed his mouth.
The one with the eyepatch was staring open-mouthed into the hole at Sans and his clone, pointing and talking to the one with the cane.
“But wait, isn’t that-?”
The one with the cane took the eyepatch one’s arm and got them walking again.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Sans scooted back from the wormhole, and his amoeba grabbed his arm.
“What, are we just gonna take his word for it?”
“It’s still worth a try, ain’t it?”
A sound like a garbage disposal drew both their attention to the wormhole closing up, a shrinking puddle under the sun.
The clone slid in front of it, ducking his head behind where it had been, but it was completely gone.
“I…guess that’s that? It wouldn’t have stayed open long enough to even-”
“No, no, if it opened once, there’s still the chance of more connections like that…” The clone got up, brushing off his knees and immediately pacing in front of the other holes, peering in each. “Even if everything’s fucked with spacetime right now, there’s gotta be a way to take advantage of it…”
Sans shuffled a foot.
“I mean, I can kinda see where he’s coming from…if Cecil were just displaced in another timeline, even if it’s the surface…there’s no telling if that would really solve anything…it’s not necessarily a get out of jail free card.” He took out his phone, wondering again if he’d be able to make a call. It still turned on, at least. “I think we should call Papyrus…”
The clone swat the phone out of Sans’ hand, smashing it on the floor.
Sans stayed in place, holding his hand out for a moment as though a phone were still in it. The violence caught him so off guard, he wasn’t even able to summon anger.
“Are you stupid? Call Papyrus? Jesus.”
“I was thinking about it before I came here, and Cecil wanted to be in the Guard…the king doesn’t have a real reason to block Cecil…”
The clone huffed and tapped his foot.
“God, did it take being stuck in time to lose whatever part of my brain you are? You think King Asgore won’t know who told the Boss about Cecil? He’ll just figure it’s normal that Papyrus knows a random whore?”
“I know, but-”
“And Cecil is gonna be what, a master fighter from day one that King Asgore will just have to invest time in training?”
“…Cecil’s got some moves. They’ve gotten us out of trouble…and just cause they’re from here doesn’t mean the king would turn down extra manpower.”
The clone threw his hands up.
“Think about it! This place is career poison. Look at what happened to Lesser Dog. What happens if the king sees our brother sticking his nose in Red City’s business next?”
“Career- ? This is Cecil’s fucking life.”
Sans’ mouth fell open slightly. The clone was trembling, his hands balled into fists.
“You just don’t care what happens here because you’ll get to fuck off back to your timeline!”
“You don’t- you don’t care if this Papyrus dies, or if his life gets fucked up, cause you can just…just go back to the other one who’s still fine!”
Sans felt his own hands curl in tight, one snapping out to point at his clone.
“Don’t you fucking dare suggest I don’t care what happens to my brother. Here or anywhere, I’d never-”
Sans stopped, too mad to speak.
The same seemed to go for his clone, who’d developed an aura so dark, it hung around his neck like the shadow of a fur coat. Before the atmosphere devolved too dangerously, Sans decided to be bigger than himself and chalk it all up to high stress and too little actual rest.
“It’s…been a long fucking day. How about we call it a night for now? Take a thinking nap, at least.”
Amoeba’s demeanor melted noticeably. Sans supposed that no version of him could resist the suggestion of sleeping, no matter whether or not it was appropriate to the situation.
If they woke up and the face of the world had deteriorated into hideous pockmarks of misplaced time and space, he’d just have to deal with it then.
They’d set up camp in one of the private rooms for clients, the door propped open slightly with a chair wedged in the jamb, so it couldn’t lock. Sans didn’t know what they’d do if it closed somehow- the cameras in here were destroyed, probably Amoeba’s doing. It made Sans a little nauseous, but they were on the same floor that had the room where he’d had to see the slug. It made sense, though. Just like before, the whole level felt practically abandoned. It seemed the workers in B Section rarely had to entertain clients as large as the slug, so the roomier spaces were seldom necessary. Given the other workers Sans knew in his section- Loox and Cecil in particular- he was surprised it had never occurred to him that Muffet might have sorted the occupants of sections of Red City based on the workers’ size groupings.
At least this wasn’t the same room. Sans was sure of it. Even if they’d somehow managed to scrape away all the slime so there wasn’t a trace of that session, Sans could never forget the exact geographic location of that room; his eyesight fuzzed at the edges if he even took an extra step down the hallway where it waited.
His clone was crawling onto the gigantic room’s equally oversized bed, towards the center by the end with the pillows, and Sans wondered if the other planned to have the entire bed for himself out of spite and insist Sans take the floor.
Sans got himself up on the foot of the bed anyway, ready to kick his clone if he got stingy. Seeing him lie back on the other end, though, brought something else to mind that Sans hadn’t really expected. But he was fairly excessively stressed at the moment.
“Hey…would you maybe, wanna…?”
The clone’s head snapped up to look at him, examining his face.
“Are you seriously thinking about sex? Now? Christ criminy, pull it together.”
Sans choked back his words, suddenly physically mortified, his whole body trembling. He couldn’t even stand his own company. Not that that hadn’t been what Sans expected in the first place. How low had he sunk, that he was soliciting his fucking clone for comfort sex?
“I don’t…know what’s wrong with me…I don’t know how to stop…”
His clone did a double take at him, face crinkling in disgust.
“Jesus, why are you crying. Quit it.”
Sans wiped at his sockets with his sleeve, going for an edge of the comforter when that wasn’t stemming the flow. As he fought his emotions, his clone huffed and pulled covers over himself, turning onto his side.
Sans spent a little time hating himself deeply, wondering if maybe he’d only been made up of all the disgusting parts of himself when he split, when he heard a quiet sniffling come from his clone, too. Sans froze absolutely still, looking over to the now shivering lump of covers at the head of the bed.
“What’s…why are you…?”
The mound of covers curled up tighter.
“I’m…I’m fucking, I’m- scared. I’m scared.”
A block of ice formed in Sans’ soul, and he scrambled backward off the bed, clinging to the foot. His clone couldn’t really think…?
“You-! You’ve gotta know that I would never…!”
Watery, red-rimmed sockets peeked out from the blankets.
“Ugh. Don’t be gross.” He pulled the sheets up like a hood over his skull, shadowing over his eyes. “I don’t…I don’ wanna be stuck…here…”
Sans’ hands unclenched from the sheets. He slowly climbed back up, sitting on his legs.
“…what makes you think you’re not gonna be the one to leave me behind next time?”
The clone scoffed.
“We both know it ain’t gonna work like that. Either you disappear again…or we both get left behind.”
Sans looked down at the bed. He was surprised to find he was actually starting to feel sorry for the clone, and not just because it was him- there was something separate about this that made it different from the self pity he normally would have been kicking himself for. He even thought he might be able to forgive all the nastiness if it stemmed from that fear. The whole train of thought of whether he was really talking to himself, or if another monster had somehow been created, was too bizarre to keep track of, and Sans ended up just trying to soothe him like he might another person.
“This timeline ain’t so bad. People…missed us. Shyren was happy to see us- You.” Sans gave a short laugh. “And we’re dead here, so even if I do fuck off through time, that’ll be the last you’ll have to deal with another me-”
Sans stopped, one hand still up mid-gesture. He started to deflate.
“I…guess they’re not in this timeline…Shyren said, right? I know you’re gonna miss them…”
Amoeba scrunched the covers up in both fists, trembling again.
“But you know what it means. For them not to be here. Right?”
Sans let his hand drop, going quiet. His clone looked up at him, eyes sharp and wet.
“I know we’ve been trying not to think about it. It was just…hard not to, when I was stuck here, and realized they’re not here. No, that no one here even, even knows about them.”
The clone hunched over, gathering fabric like a security blanket.
“They’re a time traveler. The time traveler. The reason all this…” His shoulders shook. “They left it behind. This timeline’s…abandoned.”
Sans crawled forward without feeling his limbs. He didn’t feel in control as he settled at the head of the bed, even as he wrapped his arms around his clone and let him get the chest of his shirt wet as he hid his tears. He only knew that for now they were both floating lost in a mote in spacetime, and he didn’t know if it would ever end, and it was terrifying, and maybe he didn’t have to let it be the most horrible thing.
“…you sure you don’t wanna fuck?”
“You’re such a charmer.”
But Sans knew his clone was giving in, because he was giving in, afraid and tired and too in need of a physical distraction, something that felt good that could get him through this. Amoeba shifted so he was more comfortably aligned with Sans, and Sans felt a little pang that his clone had taken up the spot mostly underneath. Sans wanted to be covered by someone, even if it was just him.
“So which one of us is gonna…uh…”
His clone’s face scrunched up.
“Uck. You make a dick if you want one.”
Sans understood his clone’s distaste as soon as he thought of it that way.
“I don’t…wanna do that.”
“Guess we’re just gonna be creative, then.”
Sans formed his pussy, feeling the presence of his clone’s magic in about the same moment. He’d formed it out of purpose, not arousal, and he knew his clone had too, but the mere hint of willingness it proved caused a spike of a feeling deep in Sans’ body. Someone willing to do this with him. His magic tingled with warmth as he dipped his face down toward his clone’s skull. The closer he got, though, the more awkward he felt.
“Wh- we’re not that different, you probably know. Just…just do whatever to me.”
There was an unpleasant twist in Sans’ soul.
“Just don’t. Don’t go full tuna just ‘cause you’re the one on your back. At least…participate, or this is gonna be even weirder.”
“Jeez, I’ll ‘participate,’ just get us started! Maybe this’ll be less weird if you shut up and stop pointing out how weird it is.”
Sans grimaced, but he was obligingly silent as he dipped the rest of the way down to lick and nip at his clone’s neck. The other’s complaining immediately fell away, his chin tilting up to make more room and his pelvis even lifting some, involuntarily it seemed.
Sans felt simultaneously interested and embarrassed by the mirror image of him giving a show of pleasure. It made him feel confusingly self-conscious.
He felt a little less self-conscious when, as promised, his clone began to participate, pulling Sans’ hips down with both hands so his crotch was rubbing his clone’s stomach. The sensations finally pushed away enough of the pointless navel-gazing about the ethics of spacetime clones, and Sans was able to appreciate that another him did at least know things he liked, and it was kind of temptingly dirty to boot.
He ground down, his pussy rubbing gratifyingly hard over the other, the friction of his pants almost making him want to stay clothed through this. Although maybe, with his pussy bare against his clone’s shirt- the mere thought of that had a squirt of wetness soaking into the crotch already, and Sans rushed shucking his pants off to rub his pussy directly on the monster under him.
The wet lips prickled with the brush of fabric. Sans was suddenly lifted higher- his clone hadn’t had a single complaint about the shift away from his pleasure, fixing Sans with a stare that mixed heat and fascination, and rewarding him by arching into Sans’ grinding and increasing the pressure. A throb of intensity shot from Sans’ groin up his spine, and he was overtaken by a feeling like an urgent itch, making him lean forward for the optimal angle to rut his swelling pussy on the other monster.
He could feel the shirt getting stickier, hear his own voice making shameful little gasps and moans as he got closer, but most of what he focused on was the building pleasure, the rise to a break. When he closed his eyes, he found himself thinking about Madjick- that had been a while- and the peaceful darkness of being hypnotized, and being touched by shadowy figures that begged Sans to allow them to fuck him-
Sans closed his thighs hard around his clone’s waist, his orgasm hitting him in a crash that lit up his magic, his cunt throbbing and spent as it leaked more juices.
He couldn’t help peeking up at his clone’s face, even though he was afraid of the judgment he’d see. But the other’s eyes were glassy, his mouth hanging slightly open. Sans tried to imagine what it would feel like for the other to rut on him until he reached climax on top of him, clinging to him like a sex toy, and he couldn’t quite get a hold of the picture in his head. He did turn a little redder, though.
That left what Sans was going to do to return the favor. Sans considered his clone with uncertainty, rapidly trying to work out how he was going to do this. For a client, if he had to, he could make it work but, in the end he knew he wasn’t too crazy about the feeling of his own fingers. They didn’t have the satisfying padding and girth of a flesh monster’s hands, and at worst they could become painful.
There was something else he could do; something he wouldn’t have trusted any of his clients to do and certainly never would have suggested of his own volition, under any other circumstances.
“You, uh, you want me to do…your soul?”
It was almost a shock to see the surprise on Amoeba’s face. After all, if he was him, shouldn’t the same thing have occurred to him? The capacity for slight shifts in time and space to catch him off guard with unexpected sex proposals was truly boundless.
Even more surprising, given their enmity so far, was the clone going ahead and manifesting his soul in front of his chest without a word.
Sans reached out with careful fingers, delicately holding the construct and bringing it closer to his own chest. He watched as his clone panted under him, starting to look heated again from anticipation alone, eyeing Sans’ movements with a growing eagerness.
He was actually just going to sit through the whole thing without participating any more than absolutely necessary. He really was an asshole.
But, Sans supposed- even if the clone hated him, couldn’t stand him- he did trust Sans. With all he knew about Sans, it was easy for them to dislike each other, but it also meant he knew he didn’t have anything to worry about from him. Except maybe getting his pastries stolen.
Sans brought the soul to his mouth, pressing his tongue flat against it and winding it like a snake on its belly. The clone’s jaw dropped lower for a quiet moan, his pelvis twitching up at the air.
Everything about masturbating the soul was familiar except for being disconnected from the resulting feelings, seeing the effect they had on another monster. Sans rolled his fingers over the surface in a massaging motion, folding his tongue to tease a line up and down the center, and the other monster’s hips twisted like he was trying to free himself from Sans’ straddle over him. He wasn’t- he writhed harder as Sans’ touches grew more intense, but he didn’t once fight his position.
Sans pressed in with his thumbs in two circles on the surface of the soul, humming with his tongue pushing at it. The clone’s stomach arched up again, and Sans could feel his own fluids smearing his bare pussy, a bit cold now that the wetness had sat a while. Sans bent over his clone anyway, pressing hard back and lapping at the soul with alternating tickling flicks of his tongue and firm, flat thrusts.
The clone’s pelvis rose off the bed as high as it could go while battling Sans’ weight on top of him, and Sans felt it convulsing behind him, the clone’s knees pointing inward along with his toes. Out of his open mouth came uneven, gasping breaths of relief, probably as quiet as he could manage.
When Sans backed up off his stomach, he could see that the clone’s climax had wet through the crotch of his pants, the cloying smell of release the exact same as his own and almost comfortingly familiar. For some reason, Sans gave in to a sudden urge to reach his fingers between the other’s legs and nudge teasingly at the clothed pussy a few times.
The monster’s hips jolted again, and Sans could feel the actual hot contractions of the other’s orgasm as it was drawn out, more stickiness coating his fingers from an extra squirt of arousal. The clone looked like he was in ecstasy.
“Oh fuck…oh fuck…that felt good…that felt really good…”
The squeeze of his legs wouldn’t let Sans’ fingers go, not until the throbbing contractions lessened from their fervent intensity to only the occasional pulse of heat. Finally, he went limp, his legs landing slightly splayed back on the mattress as his breath slowed down.
Sans didn’t quite know what he should be feeling. Satisfied that he’d given someone some pleasure? Relaxed from his own practically masturbatory ride on the other? Disgusted with himself for being such a deviant that he had no compunction whatsoever with literally fucking his own likeness?
Sans was spared any conversation on the subject, negative or otherwise, by the sound of snoring already rising from his clone’s chest.
Sans’ father had died in an accident at the labs, not at home, so whatever time hiccups they were going through now, it was worth it to thwart fate. Gaster returned to their Hotland apartment and went upstairs, shadows following him from the dissonant kitchen lights. Sans couldn’t remember if he said a single word.
Yesterday swam into tomorrow through a sea of darkness, and Sans was in the kitchen again, madly cracking open charcoal pencils over a bowl and grinding what he could scrape of the insides. Papyrus stormed in, and Sans experienced a fleeting sting of fear that only sharpened his anger.
“Papyrus, I know you’re gonna be mad about your pencils, but I gotta do this. Listen, do you know where we kept the ice melt from Snowdin? I remembered it being under the sink, but it’s not-”
Papyrus didn’t answer. He stood in the middle of the shambles Sans had made of the kitchen as he’d torn it up for the ice melt, to no avail. Papyrus just looked around him slowly, almost dumbly, taking in the wreckage. Sans snapped his fingers impatiently.
“Papyrus! I need the ice melt! You gotta go get it as fast as you can.”
“It’s too late, Sans.”
Sans rounded on his brother.
“The fuck it’s too late! That’s why I need the fucking ice melt! I know you don’t get science stuff, but I need it right now!”
Papyrus moved slowly, far too slowly, so slowly it made Sans angry, and he looked in the bowl where Sans had ground a mess of charcoal and some incidental wood shavings.
“You’re not going to be able to feed this to him.”
Sans couldn’t stop the flow of hot tears of frustration. Papyrus was talking in that weird robot way of his, like he had no feelings, and he hadn’t cried once. Or maybe, it was that Sans had never seen him cry. After all, Sans never let Papyrus see him cry if he could help it. A line from a book Gaster used to read to both of them floated unbidden into Sans’ mind, ‘It is such a secret place, the land of tears.’
“Papyrus. Bro. I really, really need you to do this for me.”
Papyrus put his hands on Sans’ shoulders. They shifted awkwardly, the first step to an embrace that was never coming.
“Brother, you know it’s too late. You saw…he’s already dust.”
Sans snapped awake to the snores of his clone. His own chest had to jerk a few times to get breathing right as he tried to grasp what was left of his dream. A sense of forbidden knowledge, a buried darkness that inevitably crumbled under the red lights of the lamps. Sans must have been woken by the light when the covers slipped from his face.
Sans slid off the bed, grabbing his coat from the back of a chair and rifling through the pockets until he found the time-loop copy of his phone. He fiddled with it, passing it back and forth between his hands, glancing back at his sleeping double, before finally sneaking out into the hallway and dialing Papyrus’ number.
“Hey bro…yeah, I know, it’s been a while. Sorry. You were totally still awake, don’t even give me that. Listen. There’s…I need you to do something for me.”
Sans hadn’t had the chance to actually confirm his hunch about Cecil’s location before he told Papyrus where to meet him to extract them. It was too risky to check without giving away the plan, considering Sans’ guess was that in this timeline, Cecil was being treated like Sans was in his own timeline- given to the slug, and then isolated. That was why Sans was currently using every blind spot he was aware of to get to Muffet’s room.
Sans’ clone had been furious about the phone call, of course, but in the end it was all impotent anger. Neither of them wanted to find out what would happen if anyone knew there were two Sanses running around, so that meant the clone was obligated to hide out while Sans met with Papyrus to deal with the mess.
It hadn’t occurred to Sans until after he hung up that this Papyrus should have thought he was dead- should have known he was dead, rather. It appeared no one had bothered to tell him. If all his brother had to go on was radio silence this entire time, Sans was probably going to face getting his head chewed off as soon as their impromptu mission was over. Sans had a guilty moment of being overwhelmed by a grotesque desire, for Papyrus to be as surprised as Shyren, to have thought he was dead. To find out how Papyrus would have greeted him.
As Sans rounded the corner to their rendezvous spot, it wasn’t Papyrus waiting for him. It was too late for Sans to retreat out of sight as the world crashed and he took in the regal form of the king.
Asgore had his long robe draped over an arm, revealing the hard, mirrored armor beneath. Sans wasn’t sure if Asgore had entered Red City with this look in order to inspire more fear and awe in those who saw him, or to save his robe from imagined filth on the floors.
Asgore’s gaze fell on Sans with the sharp edge of an arrow straight to the soul, pinning Sans in place and freezing the whole hallway for a full second. Asgore gestured briefly with the arm entangled with the robe.
“Well? Where are they?”
Muffet’s tone was obsequious- gratuitously so, as she blocked the door to her quarters.
“Highness, surely you don’t have need of a common whore?”
Asgore waved a hand dismissively.
“I already turn a blind eye to your sweeping up the useless trash from alleys. You can fill the position easily enough here, but another soldier is a much more valuable area of need than satisfying your customers’ lust.”
Sans could swear he caught the king glance his way.
“Besides, from what I understand, they can get off to anything.”
Sans shrank down further into himself as he stood behind them. The king hadn’t registered the slightest surprise that Sans was alive, which suggested that he either hadn’t caught wind of his death in the first place, or it hadn’t affected his life at all, whether Sans decided to be alive or not. The indifference was decidedly more chilling than if Asgore had been pleased to hear Sans was dead.
Muffet kept up her efforts. This was probably the only time Sans had heard her sound anywhere close to desperate.
“They- the poor dear would be a hopeless fighter, your Majesty, have pity on them. They haven’t constructed a bullet in their life.”
“But they want to fight. That drive is the most important quality- the rest can be trained. We both know that the magic of intent can be a power to contend with.”
With that, Asgore indicated impatiently that the door was to be opened. Even Muffet didn’t dare try arguing further at a look like that. She unlocked the door with probably the straightest face she could manage. It was bizarre seeing evidence of her fighting what might have been actual emotion.
Cecil was curled up on the bed, one ear twitching up and giving away that they’d been listening carefully to the goings on beyond the door. There was a misty look on their face, an expression of pure disbelief like they were sure they were in a dream. They looked both more broken than Sans had ever seen them, and more full of hope than he thought he’d seen any monster in the Underground.
The king strode to the foot of the bed.
“Cecil. Do you intend to become a soldier of the monster army and do credit to monsterkind, in the name of the kingdom?”
Slowly, Cecil got up under their own power, slipping off the bed to wobble closer to the king. They managed to stand before him with an impressive level of dignity, only shaking a little.
“Yes, your Highness.”
Just like that, Asgore about-faced and began to leave the room, apparently expecting Cecil to simply follow him out. To freedom.
He did wait at the door, though, watching Cecil quietly as things seemed to sink in. To Sans’ shock, Cecil whipped over to look at him, fixing him with something messy and vulnerable that Sans wasn’t prepared to see or decode. Then in a flash, Cecil had launched toward him, gripping their arms around him tight like he was long-lost family.
Sans heard one haggard breath in his ear, and then Cecil’s bare whisper.
He was let go, Cecil’s fingers lingering on his arms as they drew their hands away. Their eyes and the tips of their whiskers glittered with a sprinkling of emotion.
Then they were turning, heading out the door, going past the king at his nod. Sans still had a hand partially out. How had they known?
Sans tremulously made his way to the exit too, but was halted by Asgore’s stare. Paralysis gripped Sans from his soul outward. What must the king think of Cecil thanking Sans of all people, when Asgore was the one actually freeing them?
“Your…highness, I wanted to…thank you for…” Sans’ eyes traveled around nervously as he tried to form words under the formidable shadow. “Even though it’s- this place, for taking them.”
One look at the king’s face and Sans knew he’d messed up. To thank the king for this, as if he were doing someone like Sans a favor. Asgore raised a brow, snout crinkled in distaste.
“Sans, I know this may come as a surprise, but I’m not fond of you.”
Sans startled. What did that have to do with it? Was Asgore saying that because he couldn’t go for ten minutes of seeing him without reminding him of that fact? Unless…Asgore thought Sans was trying to worm his way around to asking why Asgore would take Cecil out of here…but not him.
Sans looked at the floor, speaking in about as challenging a manner as he would ever dare in front of royalty.
“I was…aware, your Majesty.”
Asgore’s icy gaze cut right through Sans whether he looked or not. It was in every syllable he spoke.
“I mean that I don’t like your type. Your little brother, full of so much potential, nearly squandered because he had to take care of you for so long. He wasted years on your wallowing. Do you even realize what he went through, after your father died?”
Sans flinched, a recoil so hard it hit him in the past from the moment after Gaster’s death.
“…yes. Your Majesty.”
“I don’t think that you do. You know that it is the elder sibling’s duty to take charge? But not you. You allowed him to spoil you. You took advantage of your younger brother’s weakness, when he had his own life to live. He had to be a caretaker, because you couldn’t be bothered.”
Sans couldn’t move an inch, mortified that he might actually be brought to tears in front of the King. He shook with the effort of holding it back as he sensed Asgore leaning closer, his shadow falling darker on him.
“That. Is why you’re here, in the trash, where you belong.”
With that, Asgore swept away, the promise of Cecil’s salvaged future. The monster who believed in Papyrus and supported him through his dreams of glory and honor. Sans’ knees gave and he wept into open hands.
“What’s gonna happen to you, though? I mean, what are you gonna do?”
At the question, the clone only showed Sans a tired expression. The face of someone who just woke up and hadn’t experienced actual rest in a hundred years.
“We both know what’s gonna happen to me.”
They’d made it to the door to the food storage hallway, apparently not followed. There was no telling if there was actually such a thing as a ‘way back’ to Sans’ regular timeline, but it was worth a try. A disgusting, fungus-y try.
The clone had come to see Sans off, which struck Sans as unnecessary, and risky, and possibly sentimental. Sans supposed he would have done the same thing, but that didn’t really explain why.
Amoeba pat Sans on the shoulder, the kind of detached affection more along the lines of what he would expect from himself.
“Welp…seeya next time I look in the mirror, ugly.”
He turned and left down the hall, not waiting for Sans to disappear behind the door. Sans had an existential moment where he wondered if the fresh sting of loneliness was mutual.
Then Sans was through the door, back in the damp cavern tunneling out from Red City proper. The path gradually lit with bioluminescence. Sans shivered at the squelch of moss underfoot, wondering if he should be collecting light from the walls like Muffet had, but deliberated over it too long from reluctance to touch any of it. Eventually the path grew too dark, and just as Sans was struck with the thought that the rip in time could have moved, he heard snapping underneath him.
A cloud of déjà vu overtook him as he plunged down a hole, slime and mush propelling him along a steep slope of dewy earth. His fall was cushioned with a foul splat, his hands sinking into the muck just as they had before.
He was down here and it was pointless, there wasn’t a wormhole here anymore, and now Muffet didn’t even know where he was. No one knew where he was. He didn’t exist. He was dead, and it smelled like hell
“Honey. Honey, it’s okay.”
A hand touched Sans’ shoulder and rubbed down his back, and he didn’t even have the survival instinct left to be alarmed. He just looked over his shoulder to see Muffet there attempting to soothe him, and he threw himself into her arms, gasping and clinging for her embrace like he was starved.
She smothered him and told him he was a good boy, and he wanted so, so badly for her love to be real.
Sans had just one true drive when he came back- he had to make sure that this Cecil got out, too. Sans shakily pressed Papyrus’ number and raised his phone to his skull, having a brief, surreal moment to wonder if spacetime was fucked enough for phone calls to cross timelines. Who was to say he called the right brother?
Papyrus’ voice came through as an airy breath, uncertainty and a little wonder making it hardly sound like him at all. What had Sans done to him. How had he let things get so bad.
“Bro, sorry for calling late. I have- there’s something you gotta do for me.”
There was just a moment of silence on the other end that Sans was able to fill with every combination and permutation of an answer that was possible in the universe.
“Of course, brother. What do you need.”
The hall to the rec room felt so much longer than it used to be. Sans hoped he’d guessed Cecil’s schedule right, but at least there wasn’t the added terror of attempting to extract them from Muffet’s personal quarters this time. And if Cecil wasn’t in the rec room, it wouldn’t be quite as risky under these circumstances to wander the complex to look for them.
The challenging element was whether or not it would be the king himself meeting Sans again this time. Sans wasn’t sure he was capable of dealing with leading a displeased Asgore around Red City if Cecil wasn’t where he thought they were. Rather than getting numbed to the king’s venomous words, Sans felt weaker and weaker every time he had to encounter him.
As Sans passed a corridor connected up to the hall in a T-junction, Muffet stepped out from it and into his way.
“There you are, dear. Come along, there’s no time for you wandering off- we have things to do today.”
No sound came out of Sans’ mouth. He had to follow through, he had to do something for Cecil. He owed them so much.
As Muffet bent to pick Sans up, a treacherous little voice told Sans that someone was already on the way for Cecil, and Sans helping wasn’t terribly important at this point. He still felt like the absolute worst creature alive as Muffet scooped him toward her chest in a cradle of gentle arms, and he leaned meekly into her, surrendering immediately.
Muffet stroked him as she walked.
“So good. You’re such a good boy.”
Sans couldn’t restrain the sigh that got out of him. Muffet praising him had to be one of the best feelings in the world. Even when he was able to remind himself of what was really important, of all the things she’d done, those rare times he could break out of the haze of Red City, he didn’t think he would ever be able to get rid of that part again. There was nothing rational left of the piece of his heart Muffet owned, and it was probably more permanent than the gooey green fumes the slug had implanted in his soul.
Muffet used one of her unoccupied hands to open the door to a room- it must not be one of the private rooms for clients, because there was no lock mechanism. There was still a bed inside, and a monster standing by it.
A tall, smoky monster with no expression, who Sans had last seen looming above him while Sans was strapped to a table with his legs up in stirrups. Muffet didn’t close the door all the way as she stepped in with Sans in her arms, letting it bump against the frame and creak open a sliver behind them.
Sans practically crawled over Muffet’s shoulder before she got him back in front of her chest with four firm hands.
“No, no, don’t let him, please Muffet, please, I’ve been good please-”
Sans burst into loud, terrified sobs as he was placed in the bed and held down, the monster already reaching for him. Sans gripped at loose fabric from Muffet’s dress.
“I’ll be a good boy, I’ll be really good, I’ll do whatever you want, no, no…”
The monster called Sans’ soul forward, and Sans hiccoughed, wretched fear spilling over into a litany of more pleas.
“Not my soul, don’t let him, not again, don’t let him…ha-a-ave my- soul, no, mercy-!”
At that, the monster’s features crinkled up, an odd smear on an otherwise indistinct face.
“Ugh. As if I’d want to have your soul now.”
Sans flinched as the monster eyed the green spots with distaste. Sans should have felt only relief, but the attitude crushed in on him, like he was trapped in the smothering walls of an air duct. He caught himself wondering for a disgusting moment what Gaster might have thought of the whole predicament, and if he’d had the same old-fashioned type of ideas. Sans liked to think he hadn’t been brought up that way, but it was hard to stay immune when everyone treated it like their job to tell him how filthy he was.
Muffet held him down a little harder, and Sans let go of her to lie back.
“That’s it, there we go. Be good, dear.”
She pet his face while the doctor ran a gloved finger over a spot on the soul. Sans felt the pinch of a needle he wouldn’t let himself look at, instead staring up into Muffet’s face as it began to swim a little in his vision. The sedative injected directly into his soul worked fast enough to paralyze him, but not enough to take him down immediately.
As a result, he wasn’t spared the feeling of Muffet moving away from him, or the doctor stepping to a spot between his legs eerily reminiscent of their last session together. It gazed down at him with that same cold, detached expression, gloved hands touching Sans’ legs and running smoothly up under his shorts then back down to his knees. Sans only managed a dull mumble in protest that could have easily been misheard as a sound of pleasure.
Sans may have imagined it in the moment he lost consciousness, but for a second while the monster’s fingers stroked the inner side of Sans’ thighs, its face seemed to change to a small, gloating smirk.
Sans woke up in the same bed, groggy and naked except for a hospital smock. He whimpered, but no one else appeared to be in the dark room at the moment.
An attempt at stretching felt awkward. His legs were asleep below the knee, so he only managed to stretch by pushing out his thighs, the rest of his legs nudging the covers into a scrunched pile. He was able to bend his knees up by pulling from his thighs, too, but his lower legs continued to drag with no feeling connected to them.
A thin band of light fell over him from the door. Muffet peeked into the room, the rest of her following as she strode to his bedside and sat herself on the edge by his waist. She swiveled her body and tucked her legs like she was sitting side saddle, stroking Sans’ side.
“Feeling alright, dear? You were such a good boy for it.”
Some of the fogginess of the drug cleared, but the numbness stayed. Sans felt with his hands down his legs until he brushed uneven scarring under both knees, and then it clicked. He didn’t answer Muffet, but she didn’t get angry. She kept petting him.
“It’s been very nice, getting to spend so much time with you. I promised myself I wouldn’t be sad, but…”
Muffet tilted her head, and her eyes had a slight, sparkling shimmer to them. The soft smile that broke the expression made her teeth look somehow less sharp, the effect like a beam of sunshine breaking through a shower. It was beautiful. She wiped the back of a hand delicately under one eye.
“I suppose there was no helping- you weren’t here for long, but you know, you do have a way of brightening the place. I’m really going to miss your humor.”
Sans was completely mute, every faculty that could have made him react or speak come to a grinding halt. Muffet took him into her arms, raising his torso so he was sitting up. He supposed that was as tall as he was ever going to be again. Muffet pressed his head over her shoulder, squeezing him in a warm embrace.
“I’m so proud of you.”
It must have been shock. Right after the operation, everything but the brief window of cognizance the first time he woke up was a blur. That was the only reason Sans could give himself for why he silently let himself be carried, didn’t try to bargain or even beg as he was transported across the streets of New Home and into a rundown multi-level apartment. He was vaguely able to interpret greasy walls, but they kept transforming into a rocky cavern smothered in oozy fungi.
He had a foggy notion of being taken down somewhere, maybe a lower level of this house dug indelicately out of a hill in a bid for more space in the crowded capital city, or maybe it was a pit of stinkhorns leaking spidery veils that mocked the new commitment his used soul entailed. The space certainly smelled bad enough for that.
He didn’t fight as he was fitted with a collar that tethered him to the floor, his arms secured behind his back. He wasn’t even sure if it was Muffet doing this anymore. Who was this binding his wrists? When had they switched?
He couldn’t stand up, and now with his wrists tied he couldn’t crawl, so the tether must have been for atmosphere alone. The monster tying him up bent to undo Sans’ pants and pull them down, tossing them aside. It left his shirt on, unbuttoned and exposing his rib cage and the glow of his soul he wasn’t able to dispel in his dull but growing distress. The monster looked him in the face and pat his cheek once, a mockery of consoling.
Oh. That was moldbygg. It had transformed into him- weird- but he recognized something in its face anyway. Maybe it was the slimy grin, one that sent a chill through him from the bizarre way it greeted him with his own twisted features.
The monster left, and Sans was alone.
A draught blew from what looked like an entryway door not far in front of Sans, even though he remembered being brought down. He supposed the apartment being embedded in a hill meant there was more than one ground floor. In a place like the Underground, with its many identical rocky corridors, that probably made this entrance more well hidden than an actual basement.
A slippery noise made Sans freeze at every joint.
Something was sliding down the stairs.
He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready for this. He was struck by the ridiculous urge to hide, even as the tether made itself known with the way it rattled from his trembling.
The slow mass descended as if gravity were the only force moving it, a slimy cadaver inching towards him, menacing him with the inevitability of rot and the end.
Not even the sensation of sympathetic parts of Sans’ own soul approaching from within its body could override the dead way it looked at him as it loomed. If he could at all understand its view of him as a piece of sex, a fuck toy, anything, then Sans could feel like he was at least that, rather than somehow less than that.
It paused over him.
If he didn’t say it, the slug would make him say it. Sans clamped his mouth down, of all things, suddenly afraid that he would make a fool of himself crying mid-speech. There was a thrum in his soul, and preset words started pouring out before he caught up to them.
“I’ll be good. You own me, master.”
Halfway in, Sans could feel that he actually meant it.
“I deserve to be used. I deserve to…be…raped…”
He did deserve this. Didn’t a fate like this suit a monster who was so cowardly, he would rather crawl on his belly begging than withstand any pain? Who didn’t choose to simply die with honor when he still had the chance? There was nothing strong or honorable about surviving.
That didn’t make it any easier for his body to accept as the slug’s tail pushed into his middle, tipping him onto his back in front of it. It parted his legs by squirming its rolling body on top of him, and he could already feel its dick coming out, taking up the space on Sans that would be another monster’s stomach, pressing onto his spine and ribs. Sans shook with the force of a sob.
He kept repeating that over and over, and this time the slug didn’t force Sans’ mind to come around on the rape. Instead, Sans felt a twinge from the slug’s soul, its satisfaction at doing this to Sans against his will.
It made sense for it to switch things up from now on. After all, if it didn’t want to get bored of Sans, it would have to keep the experience fresh and new each time.
“We’re back here again. I ran out of time again. How could I keep running out of time? ”
The human child was standing in front of him. Sans didn’t have it in him to figure out a way to cover himself, not that it would have helped much. The collar and tether told enough of a degrading story even if he managed to get himself cleaned up somehow. The slug’s slime and its…finish were still all over his midsection, and the unbuttoned shirt remained the only clothing it allowed him. He was disgusting and he didn’t deserve to be in the child’s presence at all, but he selfishly didn’t want them to leave him.
The scene was so familiar, like it was from a recurring dream. A dark room, warm red eyes, a knife, the promise of salvation. Now that they were here at the slug’s apartment, the part of Sans’ soul that was still his- some experience from a past life- insisted to him that his suffering would come to an end soon.
They took a step forward.
“This is where I first met you. The real first time. Do you even remember anymore? When you asked me to…save you.”
They put a hand over their mouth, rendered speechless by an overpowering emotion that blazed in their eyes. Sans was about to open his mouth to plead that same favor again, that he was sure he’d asked before, like a fixed script. Suddenly, though, the child was ranting.
“It didn’t work when I only tried to save you. It didn’t work when I tried to save everyone. Is there a magic number I have to pick?”
They stamped a foot, tears blooming in their eyes.
“We got to the…surface, once. Without you. But I…” They hiccuped. “I didn’t want it…I couldn’t stop…thinking about, what if I’d done something a…just a little differently? And then I’d still have…”
The human hid their face partly with one hand, wiping at a continuous flow.
“Why. Are you. The one. I can’t…wh-when I…changed b-…because of…you?”
They took a moment to collect themself. Taking a deep breath, they rubbed their face raw before continuing, even though the tears started silently again.
“I know that you. That you want to make me…promise again. That you know that I’m a…time traveler, and. That this is the deadline you set.”
They flexed the hand gripping the hilt of the knife.
“You made me promise, made me swear not to go past this point. Not to…abandon you here. And I. Guess I…know…what that really means now…”
Their whole body shook from the strength of some inner turmoil, mouth curling down in the pitiful pout of a helpless child.
“Please forgive me. Please, please forgive me. I…”
The knife hit the floor with a clatter that echoed backward through time and space.
“I’m sorry. I can’t do it again. I can’t do it ever again.”
Frisk had their arms around him, their chin pressed over his shoulder as they cried, and Sans suddenly wanted his bound hands free for no other reason than to stroke the child’s back. Frisk spoke into the side of his skull.
“I love you, Sans. I can’t kill you this time.”
There was a brush on his cheek as they pulled away, hurrying to the exit.
“I won’t abandon you. I’m here with you until it’s really the end…no matter what.”
As they left, Sans was struck with how strangely the words clung to the air, like it was the first time he’d heard something unfamiliar. For once, the way the same door creaked with the same Underground current of their departure gave it the heavy aura of a ghost of the future instead of the past.