Chapter 2

Red Light District

Chapter 2: It gets easier

Sans hadn’t actually taken his shirt off in a while, and now that he could see his own ribs and his soul, he noticed what the flower had been talking about. Once you knew what it looked like when a tracker was implanted in there, the weird discoloration was pretty obvious.

Sans was expected in the cafeteria for breakfast, but after he woke up he just stared at his soul for a while. He wasn’t sure if the tracker had been put in last night—which would mean someone had been in his room when he was asleep—or while he was with Onion. He had no idea how he could have slept through something being put in his soul. The thought of someone touching him while he was unaware and vulnerable made him queasy.

As if he weren’t always vulnerable. It wasn’t like he’d tried to do anything even before it was put in. He had a brief thought that made him sadder than he cared for, that Papyrus would have rather Sans had gone down fighting than let this be done to him. But so long as Sans didn’t do anything rash, Papyrus and his position in the royal guard were safe, so Sans tried not to dwell on it.

No, it really was the thought of someone coming into his room that bothered him the most. Seeing the camera was the fastest way to dispel any illusions of privacy or independence Sans might have had. Giving him his own room and then ignoring those boundaries somehow felt like a worse violation than Onion posing him like a toy and having him practice dirty-talking imaginary clients.

Sans got himself up and dressed in some of his new clothes. It would be a shame to play hooky for breakfast when there was a chance it would be the best part of the day.

In the hallway on the way to breakfast, Sans ran into Muffet. She was licking a pen and marking up something on a clipboard, and meanwhile other hands were busy touching up her hair and spreading butter and jam on a biscuit. She looked up and smiled at him, then did a double-take and stared at him in shock.

“Sans! Did you tie your tie like a shoelace?!”

Sans looked down at his tie, laced in the only knot he knew.

“…is that a trick question?”

“Appearances are important, you know. Come here.”

“Appearances for breakfast?” Sans mumbled. “It’s not like I’ve even worn one of these before.”

When he went up to her he was immediately assaulted by more hands than were strictly necessary twisting over each other to fix his tie. The mess of hands straightened themselves out elegantly and pulled away to reveal a perfect windsor.

“Everyone cries on the first day.”

Sans went stiff. He stared at her.

“You think I don’t know why monsters try to cover my cameras? Let me tell you, it’s not so they can jerk it, their parts are too sore. Ha!”

Sans was silent and Muffet regarded him with disarming kindness.

“And I could still hear you, dearie. Nothing happens around here that I don’t know about.” She leaned forward and rubbed Sans’ back. “It gets easier. Soon you’ll find that it’s not so bad.”

Sans was set to call it a day already. He wasn’t prepared to have his weakness shoved right out in the open this early in the morning. He stayed planted firmly in place, looking at the floor. Muffet was still rubbing his back, but gradually less soothingly and more mechanically.

“Well, go on, get something to eat.” She pushed him gently toward the cafeteria with three or four arms. “You’re all skin and bones. No, that joke doesn’t quite work. I tried. Eat plenty, dearie.”

Sans shuffled to the end of the hall.

“’put some meat on those bones,’” he muttered as he pushed open the cafeteria door.

The cafeteria was filled up with monsters, presumably the other workers. As Sans went through the doors, he gave the compulsive shudder he’d get right before he consciously noticed the presence of others right next to him.

The door was guarded on either side by some rather large monsters—Muffet’s security. Sans did his best to keep moving forward and not to crumple there in the doorway. He shivered again as he passed through their huge shadows.

San recognized the monster at the end of the line for food. It was the mouse monster he’d seen in the cage in Waterfall, back when Sans was with Onion the first time. Sans picked up a tray and got in line behind the mouse. He decided not to introduce himself. He couldn’t imagine a way to do that that wouldn’t be unspeakably awkward.

Sans didn’t have much appetite. He was sure the food looked fine, but the only things he could picture himself keeping down were some pudding cups labeled ‘ask first.’ Sans threw law and order out the window by grabbing one marked ‘Cecil’ for himself anyway.

The mouse swiped the pudding from his tray and put it on their own tray.

“That one’s not for you.”

The hell if he was going to be pushed around by the only monster here smaller than him. At least on the inside, he could establish that he was a monster none of the other workers should fuck with. He swiped the pudding back and crunched the cup in his eye socket—he was a skeleton and it was magic food, it would all go to the same place. It was going to smart like hell, but at least it looked cool.

Maybe. His eye stung and felt like it was going to start tearing up. It was possible that had been a stupid move. The others also weren’t looking particularly impressed. The mouse only stared at him, and a monster ahead of them in line snickered.

The mouse coughed. “Sorry, I guess I should have said…’you don’t want to eat that one yet’?”

Sans would feel even more astoundingly stupid asking why not, so he walked out of the cafeteria without a word and dumped his tray in the trash on the way. Pudding in the eye could hold him over all day, he didn’t give a fuck.

On his way down the hall, he felt the floor tilt. An earthquake? He caught himself from falling with a hand to the wall. No, maybe not an earthquake. The food hadn’t helped with his nausea, and the hallway deciding to shake things up wasn’t great either.

Heh. Shake things up.

The wall wasn’t there anymore, which was pretty rude. Sans tripped away from it in a sideways charleston.

“wheee”

Something caught him. The mouse monster was valiantly propping him up with what appeared to be all their strength. Sans snorted and leaned harder on them on purpose.

“i’m a dancing crab”

“You’re an asshole.”

Sans felt more hands grabbing him. Muffet relieved the mouse monster of Sans’ weight, and the two of them led him down the hall. Sans drooped sideways, which happened to put more weight back on the mouse.

“God, why do monsters always get so much fricking heavier when they’re sleepy or high?”

Muffet tugged at Sans again. They were leading him around the corner, back in the direction of his room.

Going back to bed already? Hell, that was just fine. If there was one thing Sans was really good at, it was sleeping. He’d wanted to go right back to bed when he woke up this morning anyway.

Sans should have been reacting more negatively to being dragged along like this, but something about it was very funny. Or it must have been, because he couldn’t stop giggling. He half-heard Muffet and the mouse talking about him as they opened the door to his room.

“—and crammed it right in his eye socket! I think he was trying to do that thing where you smash a can on your head? But with a pudding cup. In the eye.”

“I’m watching that on repeat later. I’m thinking of starting a security cam video series: ‘things Sans does, the end.’”

Fuck you, Muffet. And you, mouse twerp. And you, iridescent cannibalistic fish coming out of the wall, taking turns eating each other and barfing each other out.

Oh. Maybe something was wrong. No, Muffet probably forgot to get this room with the cannibalistic fish repellent. He’d be dealing with this all night, thanks a lot, Muffet.

Oh good. His bed.

“You gonna have anyone uh…help him with that?”

“Onion suggested that I don’t let anyone touch him for a bit longer. I’m going to take his word on it, I suppose…Woshua can clear some of that away, and we’ll hope he didn’t absorb too much already.”

“It’s just that he’s looking a little…kooky. He’s got that psychedelic rainbows look in his eyes. Whoa! Could you help me hold him down?”

Muffet’s face swam in Sans’ vision.

“Heh heh…you’ve got fish on you. Serves you right.”

“Okay, Sans.”

“It’s not like he ate it. What happens if it goes through your eye?”

“He’s a skeleton, Cecil. There are a few things I’m not clear on with how food works with him.”

Muffet kept pushing Sans’ hands down, although he wasn’t aware of reaching for her.

“There are too many fish.”

“I think he’s probably gonna have a strong reaction, is all I’m saying.”

“We’re a little past that, dearie. Watch over him until Woshua comes in. Call me if he breaks out in hives. Maybe he’s allergic.”

“There are too many goddamn fish!”

“You’re going to sleep the fish away, honey. Go to bed.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Goodnight.

***

Sans hadn’t expected to have any sex dreams while he was here. Some dreams with sex in them, probably—nightmare recaps of the day’s adventures. But not like. Honest to God sex dreams like he got when he was a horny teenager, that made him mutter and moan and thrust his hips at the empty air.

It was at least more creative than his old sex dreams. His eye was being tenderly licked, then something was pushed in, and hot jizz was coming inside it. And it felt far better than that had any right to. The warm tongue was back, lapping up the mess with careful attention to detail. Sans took in a sharp breath and bucked his hips.

Then someone was pressing sensually at his soul, and a warm spray gushed inside it.

Sans woke up to Woshua gently spraying its hose into his soul, a warm wet washcloth draped over the tube of the hose. The washcloth had some food stains on it, like it had just been used.

“Wh—Woshua, what the fucking hell?!”

Woshua backed up and fell off the bed. It wasn’t able to raise its hands in surrender, exactly, but Sans got the impression of contrition from its manner. He sort of appreciated that the little janitor was considerate enough to be afraid of him, given that Sans wasn’t any kind of threat in here.

“Just cleaning! Woshua was only cleaning.”

“Why are you cleaning me while I’m sleeping, Woshua?”

“Oh…I always did. You usually sleep all the way through it. You are a very heavy sleeper.”

“Yeah I…I’m starting to realize that.”

The janitor looked like something was bothering it. Woshua eyed Sans’ soul and came as close to looking Sans in the eye as it came to looking anyone in the eye.

“Do you want Woshua to finish cleaning?”

Sans was about to tell Woshua where it could stick its stupid compulsions when he was struck with the memory of the talking flower pulling its vine out of his soul in utter disgust, shaking off the slime that stuck to it. Sans had never wanted so badly to feel clean. He was comfortable literally eating food out of the garbage, and he’d never felt so dirty in his life as he did in the past several weeks.

Woshua’s hose hadn’t hurt, at least.

“Yeah, sure, whatever.”

Woshua climbed back up and plugged his hose back in. Now that he was awake, Sans felt extremely awkward about the stimulating feeling the cleaning magic induced. But he felt like ages of slime were being cleared out of him. It was about as heavenly as he expected anything to feel ever again. He was half-aware of gripping the covers with tight fists.

“Oh…did you want to make love?”

Sans nearly fell off the bed. The janitor was looking down at Sans’ crotch. Then Sans realized he had unconsciously formed a pussy when he’d started getting aroused, and it was emanating a soft glow through his pants. Sans stuffed his hands between his legs and crossed his knees.

“NO. UM. No, I…don’t. Woshua.”

“All right. Woshua has finished cleaning. Good night. Or…good morning.” Woshua waddled out of the room.

***

The feeling hadn’t dissipated and it had been an hour. Sans couldn’t fall back asleep. His whole body was hot. The cunt refused to dispel no matter how hard he tried to relax it.

He testingly reached a hand down to his crotch, maybe with some idea of stroking something, but he couldn’t bring himself to touch anything. He curled up in a shivering ball. Maybe he should’ve taken Woshua up on his proposition.

***

Fingers lightly touched Sans on the shoulder. Sans kept his eyes shut tight. If he couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see him, that was the way it worked. Muffet’s musical tones cut through his wretched, lust-filled haze.

“Do you want me to touch you, Sans?”

Yes. Oh god yes.

“no.”

The fingers drew away from him.

“Yes…no. No, don’t come near me.”

Sans heard a shuffling and felt the bed depress. Muffet must have sat down on the far end from where he was curled up, because he didn’t feel body heat.

“Just what the fuck was that mess.”

“It’s supposed to be much more mild than all that. And the correct dose doesn’t cause…hallucinations? I suppose it is rather potent magic. Usually monsters take only a spoonful.”

Why do you put it out in entire cups.”

“Why do you eat food that’s not yours, ‘Cecil’?”

Sans shut his mouth.

“You’ve been out for a few hours. You missed being shown around, so go to Cecil tomorrow and get them to take you. Tonight you’re going to Lounge B.”

Sans curled up tighter.

“No one’s going to touch you. They’re just looking. You and some of the other workers will be serving drinks and socializing.”

“Socializing.”

“Flirting, dear. Do your best.”

Sans felt her get up from the bed.

“Wear the outfit I laid out for you. I tied the tie, so all you need to do is slip it over your head and tighten it.” Sans heard her muffle a giggle behind a hand. Fuck you, Muffet.

The door shut. Not caring enough to check if that meant she was gone or closed in the room with him, Sans reached down between his legs. He’d been changed back into his old shorts. Apparently those were his pajamas now.

He came closer to touching himself, but a phantom wriggling, the ghost of a pungent smell, made him pull his hand back sharply and use it instead to stifle the noises coming out of his mouth. He bit down on his hand.

An indeterminable amount of time later, his cunt finally dispelled, and Sans gave a single sob of relief. He uncurled slowly and rolled off the bed. He dressed himself in a daze, purposefully not thinking too hard about anything. He pulled the tie over his head as he opened the door.

Woshua was waiting right outside. Sans fell back.

“Miss Muffet said you were sweaty. Woshua is supposed to clean you again before you get dressed.”

“OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE.”

***

Sans was almost uncomfortable with how good he smelled. He wasn’t sure how anyone got hold of the smells of flowers and things that didn’t even grow in the Underground. It was something summery that didn’t suit him at all. Maybe jasmine, not that he would know.

He’d tried tightening the tie like Muffet said, but he couldn’t get it to feel right. He didn’t like how tight it could fit around his small, bony neck, but when he loosened it, he was sure it looked wrong. Now the knot was probably not even the shape it was supposed to be. He nervously teased at it as he turned the corner toward the lounge, entering the red lit hallways meant for guests.

He paused with the ruined knot held out from his neck like a noose, an appropriate enough response for what met him around the corner. A bunny monster was waving at him from the end of the next hall.

“There you are, my dear.”

Clarence the bunny, a theatrical sadist with a job as Asgore’s Royal Inquisitor, which honestly explained a great deal—given that “inquisitor” was just a fancy word for a torturer who tortured in fancy ways for fancy reasons. Clarence wasn’t widely known or talked about, and Sans had only learned after his encounters with him that this was because those who fell into his clutches rarely survived to tell the tale. Sans was one of the few. How that weird talking flower knew the bunny was beyond him.

Sans knew he should be having a totally different reaction to seeing his former torturer. But it seemed that meeting a familiar face in here, someone who was both smiling at him and presumably not planning on fucking him, was enough to trigger the part of Sans that felt like he was greeting an old friend. Oh well, it wasn’t like his standards were particularly high before. Sans let himself keep walking up to him.

“What are you…doing here? You’re not—”

“Oh you know, enjoying the décor. Admiring the structural integrity of the architecture. Sampling the complimentary water-with-lemon-slice apéritif. Everything one visits a brothel for.”

Sans stood there with his face stuck in a stiff half-smile. He wasn’t sure how to deal with Clarence in a context where the bunny wasn’t shocking him into submission. Clarence strode up to Sans and bent closer to his level.

“I’m just checking in on you.” He straightened Sans’ tie and re-tied it. “You’re certainly looking smart.”

Clarence continued fiddling unnecessarily with the tie for a moment before laying his arms out straight over Sans’ shoulders, his hands dangling in the air. He sighed. “I know I haven’t done a very good job of concealing that I’m just the teensiest bit enamored of you.”

“Um. Sure, Clarence.”

“And of course I can’t help but feel I need to take responsibility, given that I deflowered you.”

What.

A memory came back to Sans.

“I’ve never. Never been tortured before.”

“Well, that was exceedingly obvious, my dear.”

Maybe Sans was truly sick in the head now, but Clarence’s definition of virginity struck him as more comical than horrific. By the bunny’s standards, it was practically cute.

Clarence stepped around Sans to stand behind him. “As my first act of responsibility: a word to the wise.” He planted his chin on Sans’ shoulder and tilted Sans’ chin so his line of sight was raised to the ceiling. There was a barely perceptible reflection of a lens that Sans wouldn’t have spotted if he hadn’t been made to look. “Smile for the cameras.”

So the lighting scheme didn’t only disguise unsightly stains. Without the tell-tale red lights, the cameras were hardly visible at all. Sans had thought that maybe the cameras were only in the living quarters, but it looked like surveillance was a little more extensive than that here.

Sans wasn’t sure why he expected Clarence to answer his question—maybe it was because the bunny had spoken his last line in a conspiratorial whisper. Sans couldn’t help but follow suit.

“Are there blind spots? Is there a way to avoid being on camera?”

“Most of the corners are blind if you’re flush against the wall. But you’ll find you’ll want the opposite, actually. I would recommend staying in sight of the cameras as much as possible.”

“Why’s that?”

“So Muffet can protect you.”

Clarence straightened up and walked back in front of Sans, then brushed the shoulders of Sans’ suit and smoothed them out. He set his arms akimbo and looked Sans up and down.

“Yes, close enough for government work, and I know a thing or two about that. Do call if you ever need me, my dear. Muffet has my number. I’ll be here for you in less than a heart beat.”

Oh yes. Sans would be sure to call as soon as he needed to be stabbed right in the soul.

The bunny gave a fond wave goodbye and started to strut out of the hall. Before he went around the corner, though, he halted.

“Oh, that’s right.”

This was it. He’d remembered that he was the worst, and he was going to shock Sans just for fun, maybe take something unpleasant out of his coat and stick it in Sans’ soul. Something you could never expect, like a toothbrush or a balloon. Ooh, a balloon would probably be pretty bad. Sans braced himself. Clarence looked over his shoulder.

“Cave canem.”

“Right. Uh, you too. What the fuck does that mean?”

“’Beware of dog,’ you delightfully uncultured swine. I gather they have some grudge with you, and seeing as tonight isn’t a private affair, you can afford to keep your distance.”

“I thought that was your thing. Bad things happening to me. What do you care?”

Clarence wrinkled his nose.

“They’re gross. I despise gross monsters getting what they want.” He looked as though he’d only just thought of something. “And your well-being. Yes. Looking out for you, of course. Best of luck.”

And with that he left.

The dogs were here. Sans leaned against the wall. He looked up at the reflection of the camera, apparently no longer capturing footage of him from this angle. Could he stay here in the blind spot all night?

“Sans! Come along, over here.”

Muffet was at the door to the lounge, opening it up from the inside. Sans shuffled resignedly over to her. When he reached her, she fixed his tie again.

“Not a hanover, dear, a windsor.”

Sans considered revealing that Clarence had tied it wrong, but decided against it.

Muffet’s hands fixed more imperfections with his clothes as she spoke. It seemed Sans hadn’t put a single thing on right, down to the minute folds. Or having too many arms just made you compulsively touchy.

“Now, they’re not allowed to touch you. We’re just showing off your cute little face, isn’t that right?”

Muffet held Sans’ cheeks in two hands while her other hands kept working. With his face trapped looking her in the eye, Sans didn’t bother schooling his expression. He looked miserably up at her.

“Ooh, there really is something about how tiny you are. So darling.”

Muffet fixed a small pin to Sans’ lapel. It was a tuna sushi.

“…the hell is this?”

“Don’t worry about it, dearie.”

Muffet stepped behind him and pushed him forward.

“Grab a tray of drinks from the bar and take it to the table number written on it.”

Sans stepped forward shakily.

“Hold it with only one hand!”

Lounge B, presumably named because it was one of several in the complex, was a plush, open room lined with soft booths. There was a bar right in the middle with a wall going up to the ceiling, blocking the view of the other side of the lounge. Sans went behind the counter to look for his tray.

The room was full and busy, all the booths taken and workers either hanging around them or bustling about with trays. Sans recognized most of the workers as the ones he’d seen in the cafeteria. He supposed there was a regular group he’d see in this part of Red City.

Sans spent a little longer than he needed futzing around the bar so he could take in some details about the room. He was fairly sure he’d spotted all the cameras on this side of the room. When other workers passed closer by, he saw that they also had pins on their chests, but none of them had the same pin as him. One worker stopped in front of him on the other side of the counter.

“How long are you gonna take over here? There’s only one tray left. You were late.”

Sans looked over to the now fairly obvious tray with a bottle and several glasses on it, sitting alone and a few feet from where he was acting out his sham of a search.

“Uh. Yeah. Be right over.”

The monster gave an annoyed huff and didn’t leave.

“They’re getting impatient, and you’ve left the rest of us to deal with their table. There’s a reason that tray always gets picked last. Hurry up.”

Sans took up the tray with both hands, then remembered what Muffet said. He balanced it on one, and it wobbled. What the fuck were you supposed to do with your other hand?

“Come on!”

“Leave me the fuck alone, asshole! Who made you king of the whores?”

At Sans’ outburst, one of the glasses slipped off his tray and smashed on the floor. The monster glared daggers at him. Sans shrugged.

“…whelp, guess I gotta sweep this up—”

The monster slammed a new glass on Sans’ tray and shoved him away.

“Lucky me, I get to clean up after you. Just go!”

Sans went around the bar to the other side of the room where the table number matched the number on his tray. His tray wobbled again, and he caught it with both hands to stop everything from sliding off it.

Dogs. All the dogs were at his table. Well, now he knew where they went on weekends.

Sans kept holding the tray with both hands like a kid in a school lunchroom, and he made himself walk forward. The dogs were all looking at him.

Sans rested the tray on the table. He stood there hunched over it, not looking up. Lesser Dog got up from his seat and stood behind him.

“Hey Sansy, aren’t you going to serve us?”

Sans picked up the bottle and tipped it over the first glass.

“So you finally finished puppy school. Learn anything good?”

Sans couldn’t get any words out, but he wasn’t sure he would have forced himself to respond even if he could. He continued pouring the drinks. Lesser Dog leaned over him and eyed the pin on his chest.

“Heh. Figures.”

What the fuck did the sushi mean.

“Man, you reek. Pretty perfume can’t hide the stink of fear, am I right?”

Sans felt Lesser Dog sniff his neck.

“Oops. It’s okay, that’ll be mine.”

Sans had missed pouring a large portion of the drink into one of the glasses, and liquid slopped over onto the tray and the table.

“Sit.”

Lesser Dog gestured to the seat he’d vacated. Dogamy scooted further into the booth. Sans hesitantly slid into the booth, and Lesser Dog sat after him, closing him in.

“That’s a good doggy.”

The dogs grabbed their drinks and kept talking and laughing with each other, unperturbed by the sticky spill of alcohol. Dogamy was to Sans’ right and Dogaressa sat across from him next to Doggo. Lesser Dog was to Sans’ left, so where was—

Something warm and wet touched Sans’ ankle. He nearly leapt up onto the table. Greater Dog had somehow fit himself under the table entirely, and he gave Sans’ leg another lick seemingly just to confirm that was what he’d felt. All the dogs erupted in great barking laughs. Sans couldn’t move his leg away. He just sat stiffly gripping the edge of the seat, shuddering and whimpering.

“Aw, are you gonna cry? Go on, we’re all friends here.”

“Have a drink with us. You can drink from mine, it’s mostly spit now.”

Lesser Dog leaned down to whisper to Sans.

“You know, you can pull your pants down and let Greater Dog give you a freebie right here. Maybe getting eaten out will finally loosen you up.”

“Heyyy, handsomes. Need some more to drink already?”

“Shyren! What are you doing over here, gorgeous? Aren’t you the entertainment tonight?”

A tall, seahorse-like monster was leaning over the table, setting out more shot glasses with her fins.

“Didn’t you hear that awful CD start up? You really think that’s me? I’m on break, and I thought I’d visit my favorite customers.”

“I bet you say that to all the dogs.”

Sans heard a quiet “psst” from above him. He looked up to see Cecil the mouse, entire small body bent over the top of the booth and reaching their hands out. Sans took the hands and was pulled up and over. Dogamy looked up.

“Hey!”

Cecil stuck their tongue out and gave him the middle finger. “Yeah? Take him from me.”

The dog snorted.

“Thought so. No freebies, y’mangy cheapskates.”

Cecil hopped down from the back of the booth and led Sans away. As they left, Sans heard one of the dogs saying ‘Shyren, why you gotta play us like that?’ and the seahorse monster giving a delicate giggle. The mouse drove the two of them through the crowd, leading Sans by the hand.

“Come on, I’ve got a table for you.”

When they were a bit further away, the mouse stopped and turned to Sans. They took a handkerchief out and wiped all over Sans’ face.

“That’s better. All good? You’re all good. Let’s go.”

Before they went further, a monster stepped in front of them. It had devil horns and a cape, draped over it in such a way that it was hard to distinguish if its face was its face or a mask. It made it look like some kind of Halloween scarecrow.

“Oh my, how are we doing here?”

The monster bent over and straightened Sans’ suit jacket out, a finger lingering on the pin on his lapel. Cecil swatted the monster’s hand away.

“No touching.”

The devil horned monster released the jacket immediately.

“I’m terribly sorry. You seemed distressed, was all.” He leaned over Sans. A sympathetic voice came out of the mask or whatever it was. “Are you all right?”

Cecil huffed. “He’s fine.”

Cecil took Sans by the arm and pulled him away. Sans saw the scarecrow monster remain in the same place behind them for a moment, looking after them. Then it glided off somewhere.

Sans was taken to a booth in a dark corner, conspicuously occupied by only one monster—an old crocodile with small spectacles balanced at the end of his snout. Most of the booths were packed with customers chatting, but this customer was by himself, quietly nursing a drink.

Cecil pushed Sans up to the seat opposite the crocodile.

“I gotta go. He likes whiskey, sometimes Old Fashioneds. Keep his glass full.”

The mouse scurried off.

Sans tried to collect himself, but too much had happened at once. He gripped the edge of the table for support, shaking hard. He wasn’t sure if the next sound out of his mouth would be words or screaming.

The crocodile alternated between sipping the last of his drink and giving Sans a considering look.

“I like a good war story. Do you like a good war story?”

Sans stared at him. He nodded.

“Oh wonderful. I was a field medic back in the war with the humans, you see. Pour me another glass, would you mind terribly..?”

Sans looked over at the tray left on the table. There was a half-full bottle of whiskey on it. The crocodiles’ empty glass had an orange rind and a cherry still sitting at the bottom.

“Uh…did you want another…Old Fashioned?”

“You don’t know how to make an Old Fashioned, do you.”

“No.”

“There’s no need to go back to that nasty bar, little one, I’ll take the whiskey neat.”

The crocodile held out his glass and Sans poured whiskey into it. The crocodile didn’t comment as Sans’ hands shook and spilled a bit of the expensive drink on the table. He sat back with his full glass and let out a papery sigh that sounded like books being flipped through.

“I served under Asgore back when we merely called him a general. King, my scaly ass. Do pardon me. People say times are hard now, but most of them weren’t around for the carnage then. And we think other monsters are bad! Humans, let me tell you. You have very nice eyes, has anyone ever told you that? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you.

“But really, one of my favorite stories was a day that wasn’t so bad. I’d never seen a monster try to pass off chewed licorice and paprika as a wound before, and I haven’t seen it since. He was trying for some medal of honor, wanted me to lie for him, but I suspected he hadn’t even seen one battle. A lot of monsters hid out in the caves as we were pushed back in those final fights, hadn’t ever seen a human. So this fellow, he kept shouting: ‘A human! A human gored me!’ I asked how the human did it, and he said: ‘with its tusks, obviously!’ Oh, you have a lovely laugh, do keep that up, my ego could use it. So the funny thing is, that soldier ended up being promoted. Pour me another, will you?”

When Cecil came back around to their booth, both the crocodile and Sans were fast asleep in their seats.

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