Hey there! This story's been in the works for a long time. I actually started it last December, and now I'm posting it this December. This took a while for a variety of reasons, including other projects and medical issues. The main reason, however, was because I was rewriting things constantly. If notthing else, this story has taught me how to hardcore edit XD

Well, there's one thing you don't need to worry about: this story is actually completely written out. i''m still doing some work on the final chapters, but that should be mostly done by the time I get around to posting them. Updates are probably going to be erratic because it's Christmas time and I work in retail, so I'll be pretty busy. However, I'm going to aim for one or two chapters a week. The story's going to be about 8-10 chapters when it's done, so it probably won't be fully posted by the end of the year, but I hope to have all major editing done by then. I'm also juggling this with finishing my ancient Gilded Smile story, so there's also that.

Anyway, this is my first stab at the Undertale fandom, so this should be fun. It was cool writing for a new fandom after sticking ot old ones like Pokemon and Digimon for so long.

Oh yeah, this does fulfill an old prompt of the RANDOM forums: Use the phrase "Bane of your existence."

Okay, I think that covers it for now! Enjoy!

EDIT: Done some minor edits to the overall story, mostly correcting spelling errors I didn't catch due to poor eyesight at the time, and some minor plot details/errors. Nothing major has been changed.

Disclaimer: I don't own Undertale. This the Undertale AU 24374623874638764, obviously.

Underflow

"In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular." -Kathleen Norris

File 1: An Easy Fate

It was all pointless, so Sans the skeleton didn't worry about much of anything. He preferred to lay back and let life go. He didn't have control of it anyway. If he tried to fight it…

…Well, Sans had 1 HP, and that was it. Healing and eating didn't do him any good, because his HP was maxed out already. If that one hit point was lost…well, he would already be dust. Was it always this way? Probably.

That was why he ate little solid food. He preferred downing bottles of ketchup like they were soda. The only non-ketchup thing he ate was his brother Papyrus's spaghetti, and that…required some self-preparation. Usually he needed a good nap before and after the meal, because he would almost inevitably lose some health.

Eating didn't help his HP, but sleeping did. That was because sleeping added HP beyond the maximum, instead of just restoring his HP bar. It wasn't much of a cushion, with only 10 extra HP at most, but it helped him survive stubbed toes and Papyrus's cooking experiments.

It was nice to be able to smile and tell Papyrus his food couldn't be that bad. Sans hadn't turned to dust yet, right? Then his brother, immune to veiled and even barbed insults, would grin and laugh like the overgrown child he was. He would go on about all the fantastic effort only the great Papyrus could put into one of his exquisite dishes. Sans would tell him how cool he was, how he was the best bro ever, all that usual stuff. Then, when Papyrus wasn't looking, Sans used his blue magic to stick the remains on the underside of the table to hide it. Gravity powers were useful in unexpected ways. That way he could pretend he ate the rest of it too. He would scrape it off into the garbage can later.

Sans might have been lying right now, but he believed Papyrus really could become a good cook, even a great one. He just needed encouragement through these early stages of whipping up batches of biological hazards. Why not volunteer as guinea pig? Sans didn't have anything better to do.

Well frankly, none of the monsters in the Underground did. There was all this propaganda about capturing a human and using their soul to escape… but really, no one knew when (or if) that time would come. Until then, everyone pranced around pretending to be important. The nose-nuzzling competition was the most serious thing around, at least for couples. Puzzles were diversions rather than traps. Even Undyne's training of her Royal Guard inevitably deteriorated into giant romps with the warrior dogs.

Sans watched it all pass by, occasionally throwing in a bad pun or five. He was in no hurry. For he knew the human would inevitably come, because they always came. He felt it in his bones… and not just because he was a skeleton.

IIIIII

Magic was a funny thing, because it manifested differently for every species of monster. Most of the attacks made sense, once you knew the type and personality of the monster. Skeletons could summon extra bones to attack with, while clean-freaks like Woshuas got giant bars of soap. Sans never understood how being a goat monster made you able to launch fireballs though…Then there was colored magic, which had unique properties for each monster. They were their own brand of bizarre.

Then again, skeleton biology was weird too, even by monster standards. They had no skin, yet they could sweat, and feel hot or cold. Their skull faces were malleable enough for expressions. They even had eyelids that were almost like skin. They didn't have eyeballs, though. Instead they had wisp-like white lights nested in their eye-sockets, which glowed dimly or brightly depending on the skeleton's health and mood.

Maybe it was a skeleton thing to have weird souls too? Sans's heart was curiously lumpy and misshapen, though you couldn't really tell unless you examined it up close. It seemed fine otherwise though, and was unusually big for a monster of his power. Still, Sans was glad that it remained hidden under his shirt and hoodie, visible only if he was casting his blue magic. It almost felt…shameful?

Papyrus barely had a soul at all. It was tiny, especially for a monster as strong as him. Like Sans's it was slightly deformed. Still, it never seemed to hold his brother back, so perhaps Sans was worrying over nothing. A small soul still had plenty of room to grow, after all.

As for Sans's own powers…well, he hardly used them. His teleportation didn't count because it wasn't magic. What was it then? Sans had no idea. He only knew that if he thought of certain nonsensical combinations of letters and numbers, it took him certain places.

He referred to them as "shortcuts", and left it at that.

IIIIII

As sentries under Undyne, Sans and Papyrus had to endure training sessions under the brutal amphibious warrior. Today's exercise was a new game called Dodge-Snow, which was based on some human game called Dodgeball. The rules were simple: there were two teams, and they threw snowballs at each other. You could form and toss the snowballs any way you liked, including using magic, but you couldn't use any magic directly on your opponents. If you got hit once, you were taken prisoner by the other team. This went on until only one team was left standing. The losing team had to treat the winners at Grillby's.

They stood facing each other over a flat snowy field. Undyne, across from Sans, already bore a triumphant grin even though they hadn't started yet. On Sans's side were Papyrus, Dogressa, Greater Dog, and two Lesser Dogs. On Undyne's side were Doggo, Dogamy, and the other three Lesser Dogs.

"Ready to be pulverized, punks?" taunted Undyne, slamming her fist into her hand. Her scarlet ponytail waved in the wind.

"Ready to be pun-verized?" Sans taunted back. He heard Papyrus groan beside him. He meant to annoy Undyne, but his brother's reaction was a nice bonus.

Undyne growled, bearing her needle-like teeth. "Oh, it's on now!" She scooped up a huge pile of snow and crushed it into a ball, flinging it at Sans like a javelin. Sans jumped to the side to avoid it. Then everyone started throwing snowballs in their own ways.

Sans didn't toss any snowballs, at least not yet. His throws were short and weak, even if he enhanced them with his magic. However, if there was one thing he excelled at, it was dodging. Even without teleportation he effortlessly evaded the shots. He couldn't beat anyone, except maybe the Lesser Dogs, but he could be an infuriating distraction. When the other side tired themselves out, then he would strike.

The Lesser Dogs were the first casualties on both sides, their ever-growing necks and dim wits making them easy marks. Whoever landed the hit went over to the other side to claim their victims and escort them to their team's prison. Said "prisons" were really just a bunch of Undyne's magic spears sticking out of the ground in a circle. No one was allowed to attack the capturer, because that would have been dishonorable. Undyne had a funny sense of justice.

Doggo took out Greater Dog with a lucky strike, only to be buried under one of the mammoth canine's snowpiles. There was a brief hiatus as Undyne tried to figure out what to do when the capturer was also captured. The aquatic fighter eventually decided that Doggo would escort Greater Dog, before being led to the other prison by Dogressa. She had volunteered to be Greater Dog's "avenger".

After that, the frozen spheres rushed faster than ever from Undyne's side. Undyne mowed down the last Lesser Dog and Dogressa, who fired one last shot before getting hit. The snowball missed Undyne and struck Dogamy instead, who stared in shock at being struck. Dogressa somewhat tearfully took her fallen lover to Sans's prison, before Undyne led her and Lesser Dog to her own.

"I don't know if I like this kind of training," admitted Papyrus, as he and Sans jumped and dove over Undyne's never-ending volley of snowballs. "It seems so…cruel."

Sans didn't say anything, as he was too busy dancing around Undyne's snowballs. That simple brother of his thought this was cruel? How would he react to a real battle? Why did Papyrus want to join Undyne's Royal Guard again? For friends?

A snowball struck Sans on the chest. The force of it was enough to knock him on his rear. Sans sat stunned for a moment.

"Sans!" Papyrus cried out.

Sans chuckled, holding one hand over his heart for dramatic effect. "It's no use, bro. They got me." He turned to Papyrus, still far away, reaching out with one hand theatrically. "Run…before they…bleh." Sans flopped on his back, arms spread-eagle on the snow.

"Sans…" Papyrus almost whimpered.

Sans couldn't keep himself from grinning, even as Undyne proudly strode up to her prey. He soon saw her scaly blue face and red hair looming over him, sneering.

"Welcome to the dark side, punk," she spoke menacingly.

"You fiend…" Sans said with a wide grin. He couldn't even make his eyes go dark, he was so full of mirth. "I'll never become one of you."

"We have cookies…" called Dogamy from her cage.

"Of pain!" Undyne's sharp-toothed grin grew wider. The wind howled as she spoke…or was that someone screaming?

"Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaans!" Papyrus yelled, galloping over and snatching Sans off the ground without stopping. He held his baffled shorter brother high over his head as he ran. "No! I'll never let you have my brother! Never!"

Sans snorted with laughter.

"What the-" said Undyne, staring at the fleeing skeletons in disbelief. "Hey! That's not how the game works, bonehead! Get back here!" She rushed after them.

The magic spears that created the prisons faded out of existence. The dog monsters, seeing the skeletons and their captain run off, barked and chased because they could.

Oh geez, thought Sans, struggling not to erupt into laughter. "Welp, that sure escalated quickly. Better go faster, bro. I think we might end up paying for more than just Grillby's."

Papyrus set Sans onto his shoulders, letting him slip into a piggyback position. Now with a more secure hold, Papyrus bent forward and sprinted. Spears tipped with large snowballs whizzed past them, as the cacophony of dog barking and Undyne's battle cries drew closer and louder.

"Wowie, Undyne's really mad…" said Papyrus, looking nervous. "But it didn't feel right to just…What should we do, Sans?"

"Keep running." Sans wasn't too concerned, though. This felt familiar, but not dangerous. They kept going, snow crunching and flying under Papyrus's feet. Papyrus's speed and stamina were pretty impressive, actually. How often Sans forgot that. Every time Sans thought his brother had finally tuckered himself out, there was a new burst of energy as Papyrus went even faster than before. Who needed cars when he had a Papyrus to ride on?

They soon reached Snowdin. The locals gaped as the skeletons and then Undyne and her pack shot by. They zipped by Grillby's on the way, where the fire monster of its namesake observed the spectacle with only silence and a raised eyebrow.

As Undyne charged she got a call on her phone. "What?" she barked, before she skid to a stop. "Alphys! Uh, sorry about that. Just doing some training stuff…yeah, that'd be awesome! I'll come right over!…Nah, it's no problem. Training's pretty much done anyway. We did this thing I made up called Snow-Dodge…I mean Dodge-Snow…" Undyne walked off elsewhere as she babbled.

The dogs soon lost interest too, since their leader had abandoned the chase. They wandered off in different directions.

Oh right, I need to visit Alphys later, thought Sans. He had almost forgotten. That was a bad thing to forget.

Papyrus was still running full-speed ahead. He zoomed to their house and rammed open the door, before finally falling to his hands and knees panting.

Sans slipped off his back and patted Papyrus's shoulder. "It's okay, bro. We're home." Though we'll need a new door again…Oh well…

"Good," Papyrus gasped. "Since…Since that was starting to be…not fun…" He pushed himself back up. "I was starting to think…I really did need to save you…"

Sans chuckled. "You're the best bro."

What remained of the door exploded open. Papyrus was nailed with a snowball to the back of his head.

"Papyrus!" Sans exclaimed, as his brother fell forward in a daze. Then Sans was pelted with a snowball to his left eye.

"You seriously didn't think you'd get off that easy, didja?" crowed Undyne, as she rained down snowballs on both skeletons. "This is what you get for cheating!" She whistled, and the eager howling of the rest of the Royal Guard sounded. Undyne stood there sneering as the dogs rushed by her side.

Sans and Papyrus turned to each other. They knew what inevitably awaited them.

"Oh brother…" said Papyrus forlornly. "Is there no escaping this fate…?"

"Nope," replied Sans casually.

"Get 'im!" Undyne exclaimed, pointing dramatically ahead.

The dogs bounded past Undyne, pounced on both skeletons, and licked them all over, tails swishing rapidly.

"Nyahahahaha!' Papyrus laughed helplessly. "Stop! Hahaha! No, we have f-fallen! Ahahahahaha!"

Sans couldn't even answer, he was laughing so much. Why did he and his brother have to be so ticklish? Worse yet, why was he stuck with Greater Dog, who hugged him fiercely as he slobbered all over him? Now there really was no escape.

"Carry 'em over to Grillby's when you're done," said Undyne, walking out.

"Undyne, no, wai-" Papyrus began, before he was licked into another laughing fit.

Sans was still too consumed by laughter to say anything, but he expected that. This felt all too familiar, like most things.

IIIIII

Papyrus' company wasn't the only thing Sans enjoyed, though it was his primary concern. He also went out of his way to visit a door deep in the forest of Snowdin, at the very edge. At first, he went there to be alone. No one else came that far, because there was nothing to do but stare at trees. He napped at his station, strolled to the door, and practiced knock-knock jokes. He did this by actually knocking on the door, and then talking as if someone had answered.

Once, someone did answer, a gentle female voice. "Who is there?"

Somehow, even though his instincts warned him, her answer always caught Sans off-guard. "Dishes."

"Dishes who?"

"Dishes a bad joke."

He was ready to chuckle in silence, only for the female voice to roar with laughter. It was always familiar, but it never got old.

He always made puns and other awful jokes to see others cringe at them. That was what made them funny to him. Papyrus hadn't realized that, and probably never would, which was why he was one of the best victims. Hearing his shouts of frustrated rage was one of the highlights of Sans's existence.

…Yet, it was shockingly nice to have someone actually enjoy his jokes. Then, when she started telling jokes that were so bad that he cringed, it filled him with a strange giddiness. So he kept coming back, knocking on the door until she answered. Sometimes that took awhile, because he never knew when she would be there. Other times she answered instantly, apparently waiting for him instead. Whenever it started, it would then go on for hours. Anyone else would have fled in terror from all the horrible puns. Poor Papyrus might not have even survived.

Neither asked for names. In fact both tried to keep things as anonymous as possible. Still, unavoidably they sometimes drifted away from jokes and into normal conversation. Sans chatted about Papyrus, and the daily antics of Undyne and the Royal Guard. The voice described her quiet life in the Ruins, where she maintained peace and order between the monsters there. She also like to talk about baking, and how wonderful children were. There was always an air of sadness about the last one. Maybe she couldn't have children herself? That was his signal to return to bad puns to make her laugh and forget. Her laughter helped him forget as well.

Whenever she seemed especially sad, though, and talked about a human coming through the door, Sans knew the human had arrived. He promised to look after the child, with a wave of deja-vu. It felt sickeningly familiar, something he could never divert from. After that, he didn't have much time to visit the door. He had a kid to look after.

It didn't make him feel that down, though. If the human had come, then he knew inevitably he would meet her by the end. If just talking to her through a door was so fun, then actually seeing her…being with her…

IIIIII

Alphys shrieked when Sans materialized in the front of her, tripping backwards over her own tail and falling on her rump. The golden dinosaur scientist gaped at him like he was a wraith.

Good.

"Heya," Sans said, keeping his eyes dark. "Here's your dog food." He dropped the huge bag at her feet, It hit the floor with a heavy thud and sagged. "For your…pets."

"…Um…th-th-thanks…" Alphys answered with a nervous grin, adjusting her glasses. She got up and dragged the sack to the wall. "I-I was…getting low…So, um, Sans?"

"Yeah?"

"You…haven't told anyone… right?"

"Nope," Sans answered. "The underground's got enough problems without knowing about this, right?"

Alphys's smile grew even more strained. "R-R-Right." She paused. "S-Stuff's downstairs…uh, ah, i-if you need it."

"Thanks."

"Sans-" Alphys began, but he had already vanished.

Sans arrived in the basement of the building, the true laboratory of the royal scientist.. The lights were dim, and the walls covered in the slime of the abominations that dwelled here. Sans carefully avoided the trails of goo, because even these had some sentience. They reached up in hair-like tendrils as he passed, eager.

Sans felt the surface of his bones squirm, but did his best to ignore it. Milky-white perspiration rolled off his arms and beaded on his forehead. He had waited too long since his last injection. He would keep some at home, except that did not want Papyrus finding any of it. Papyrus's cleaning was thorough enough that he always found things he wasn't supposed to.

If Sans was that desperate to lose himself, he would have joined him long ago. He wouldn't come here, again and again, for fresh doses of determination. It would be so much easier to let it all go…Yet here he was at one of the refrigerators, pulling out a syringe filled with bright red liquid. Like all the needles here, this one was magically tempered to pierce scales and bone. Many more shots were neatly packaged together, next to a bottle of ketchup.

She didn't have to do that…thought Sans. It was so familiar, but Sans never understood it. Probably trying to stay on my good side. He knew he was a terror to Alphys. He did that on purpose, to stop her from doing more research. If she, or anyone else, ever learned the true potential of amalgamates and determination…or anything else beyond this world…

Sans primed the needle, careful to aim the little spurt of liquid away from any nearby slime. He injected himself in a rib and silently counted to ten. He tossed the empty needle into a disposal container next to the fridge, grabbed the ketchup bottle, and took a shortcut back home.

Sans immediately felt cold and dizzy upon arrival. He slumped onto the couch, cocooning himself in a blanket. He wasn't supposed to use any magic or other powers after a shot, but the True Lab wasn't a safe place to rest. Papyrus would complain about the slime again. Thank god Papyrus was too stupid to wonder why a skeleton was emitting slime like a snail in the first place.

While waiting to feel better, Sans decided to take a gulp from the fresh ketchup bottle. That's when he noticed a note taped to the bottom.

Are you okay? it read in Alphys's semi-legible scrawl.

Sans's eyes burned unexpectedly. He crumpled the note. Why do you still care so much? It hurt, not because it was bewildering, but because it was achingly familiar. I'm nothing but…

He didn't finish the thought, catching his reflection on the empty TV screen. The lights in his eyes shone a soft blue instead of white. He stared transfixed. This was so sickeningly familiar…He felt sick sick sick ERROR-

Sans woke up, his eyes briefly pale blue before fading back to white. He wondered why he was sleeping with a ketchup bottle. Where did he get it anyway? He didn't remember going to Grillby's…

IIIIII

The human wasn't much of a talker, but Sans sensed that was normal. The brown-haired child in the striped shirt could have been either a boy or a girl, and almost always wore a placid expression. When they did speak, their voice was very quiet, almost like they were speaking from far away. But maybe that was normal for a human? The kid was the most anomalous thing Sans had ever come across. What was an echo-like voice compared to the ability to reset everything? To think such a fearsome power was bestowed on a such a small being…

Despite that, Sans liked the kid. For someone who didn't emote much, they sure liked jokes. They played along with Sans's fried snow gag, had him stack twenty-nine hot dogs on their head over and over, and chasing and greeting Sans as he teleported back and forth near the bottom of Snowdin. ("What's up?"…"Are you lost?"…"Say. Are you following me?"…"You sure do like to exercise…"). Everyone else seemed happier with the kid around too, as they played rather than fought with the Underground's inhabitants. Even vicious monsters were spared.

In the end, every monster soul would be needed.

IIIIII

Sans recognized the door lady's voice before he saw her. Strangely, for all his previous anxiety about meeting her, he wasn't nervous at all. Just seeing the white goat lady smiling serenely filled him with an exquisite calm…in fact, seeing everyone gathered here at the palace…Papyrus, Undyne, Alphys…

Then everybody got captured by a strange talking flower. The sudden vine attack should have been scary, and it was to everyone else, but to Sans it felt more random than frightening. Where had this little yellow smiling flower come from, and why was it strong enough to tangle them all in vines?

Yet…Was this…supposed to happen?

"Don't you get it?" the flower taunted the human, as everyone writhed and pulsed red in the clutches of his huge thorny vines. "This is all just a game."

A chill shot through Sans. So this weed knew the true nature of their world…Why everything was meaningless…

Other monsters came. In fact all the monsters came, to help the human fight off this demonic plant. Yet it was in vain, and their souls were all were absorbed…

…Of course this would happen. This world was corrupted. That was the bane of his existence…of all existence. Who said that? He didn't know. He didn't even know his own name…not that it mattered. Nothing mattered. Nothing ever would matter, because this world was just a game. He should just give up. He should…

He heard someone call to him. The human?…He was a humerous skeleton? Boy, that was a bad pun…but it made him laugh anyway, and it made him remember that he was Sans, one monster soul among thousands gathered.

Now that he had recollected himself, his previous despair vanished in an instant, replaced by warm serenity. He wasn't alone. None of them were. Together they were strong. Together they had power. The barrier was nothing compared to their combined desire to be free. Sans basked in the feeling of unity as his soul soon beat in sync with all the other monster souls. This was so familiar, like all important events.

Sans was too harmonious to be disappointed. For this moment, and any beyond, even if it vanished as it always did, it was all worth it.

IIIIII

Now that the strife was over, and everyone had what they wanted…

"Saaaans! Dinner's ready!' said Toriel, entering the living room with a messy apron and flour on her hands.

Sans woke from his doze in Toriel's recliner, a large book in his lap. Nested inside of the tome was a joke book. He thought Toriel's modest messiness only added to the her beauty.

"So you better prepare your taste buds, punk!" Undyne crowed, appearing on Toriel's right. She was entirely caked in flour and grinning proudly.

"Because it will be the most exquisite cuisine you'll have ever eaten!" added Papyrus, popping in on Toriel's left. He was only slightly less covered in ingredients… or were his white bones just obscuring most of the flour?

Sans was sure that with Toriel in charge, the results would be mostly edible, maybe even good. "Sounds great, Toriel. Or, should I say…"

Toriel grinned in anticipation.

"Dooriel."

Toriel giggled softly while Undyne and Papyrus exchanged dubious looks. Sans leaned back in the chair, basking in the glory of his adorable…no, adoorable nickname she loved so much…He lifted up his joke book, leaving the heavier tome on his lap. "Hey Tori, what do two snakes do after a fight?"

"Saaaaans…" Papyrus began. His brother knew once the puns started between Sans and Toriel…

Toriel smiled. "I don't know, Sans. What do they do?"

"They hiss and make up, of course," chimed Sans.

Toriel laughed as she always did. Sans couldn't help but laugh with her.

Papyrus groaned.

"Don't you mean that they fang each other for the good times?" said Undyne with a sneer.

"Undyyyyyyne!" Papyrus exclaimed, appalled. "Don't encourage them!"

Sans clapped the book shut, giving Undyne an impish grin. "You challenging me, Undyne?"

Undyne's iris turned to a slit. "Hell yeah!"

"Oh no…" said Toriel with a chuckle.

"Please don't," said Papyrus, much less enthused.

"Well, hate to say it, but you've got a ton of work to do if you wanna catch up to me," said Sans, before winking. "A skele-ton."

"Sans! You used that one just a while ago!" exclaimed Papyrus.

"Whose side are you on, bro?" asked Sans.

"The one that stops making puns first!" answered Papyrus indignantly.

"Whatever!" huffed Undyne, folding her arms. "'Cause, uh… there's something fishy here." She grinned proudly.

"…Undyne, that's not a pun," said Papyrus flatly.

"Whose side are you on?" shouted Undyne, before turning back to Sans. "Yeah, well your bones are, uh… Alphys!"

The pudgy yellow scientist was just entering the living room. She yelped and froze mid-step. "Y-Yeah?"

Undyne pointed dramatically toward the golden dinosaur. "Say a pun, now!"

"Um…ah…" said Alphys, wringing her hands. "W-What kind of pun?"

"I dunno! Anything!"

"O-Okay…" said Alphys, a nervous but resolute look on her face. "So…um…You can't t-trust an a-atom…They…make everything up?" She ended with a hopeful smile.

Only Sans snorted with amusement. No one else was educated enough to get the joke, and stared at Alphys blankly.

"….U-Uh…" Alphys began, cringing back.

Undyne suddenly roared with laughter, earning startled gapes from Toriel and Papyrus. The fish warrior strode over to Alphys and patted her on the shoulder. "Aw man, that was the best one yet! Atoms are lies or whatever, right?" She then gave her a big hug and kiss.

"Y-Y-Yeah!" said Alphys, now more nervous about her girlfriend touching her than the joke she attempted. "That's r-right…You're t-t-totally right!"

Sans wasn't sure whether to feel happy or sorry for Alphys.

"Oh my," said a suave metallic voice, as a humanoid robot strutted past Undyne and Alphys.

"Mettaton!" Papyrus almost squealed, eyes burning bright in excitement.

"Heya," said Sans. He didn't really care about the Underground's most notorious celebrity, but if his presence made Papyrus happy…Well, they did used to watch him on TV all the time…

Mettaton stopped in front of Sans's chair, balancing on one leg like a stork. "Leave this to the professionals, ladies. Because according to my memory bank, today is-" He shot up one leg almost vertically. "Leg day! See? I've already got a leg-up on you."

"Not you too, Mettaton!" wailed Papyrus. "Will this madness never cease?"

"Probably not," said Sans with a shrug. "I mean, I'm pretty bone-headed when it comes to this kind of thing."

"Sans!"

"Well, I'm certainly not going to break a leg on that one," said Mettaton, hopping to the other foot while put one hand over his eye.

"Mettaton!"

"Yeah, you're too spineless for that," said Sans with a grin.

Papyrus moaned in defeat. Toriel, chuckling, rubbed Papyrus's back.

"Oh, you must be pulling my leg, darling," said Mettaton, rapidly shifting through ridiculous poses. "Why would I need to rattle my bones when I can shake a leg?"

"Ouch. Welp, stick and stones may break my bones," said Sans. "But you've still got a lot of leg work to do. So you'd better start stretching those legs, otherwise you won't have a leg left to stand on."

Toriel whispered something to Papyrus. Judging by the unhappy look on his face, it was probably another pun. He sighed, and then took a deep breath.

"Ahem…" Papyrus began. "Dinner has been ready for the past five minutes, Sans, and the table is…" He glanced at an eagerly-beaming Toriel, and sighed again. "…Currently sans a Sans."

Toriel giggled.

Sans chuckled. "Really, Papyrus?"

"Don't you really me, brother!" declared Papyrus, smirking as he stuck his chest out. "If you like puns so much, then you get to be the pun! This Sans is sans a good sense of humor and sans any dignity at all! In fact this Sans is so sans hygiene that he is sans any cleaning! Then Sans wonders why he is sans socks all the time when he never picks them up off the floor! So in other words, Sans is so sans that he even forgets to sans his sanses! That is so Sans, sans the-"

Sans couldn't stop laughing. He never thought he would find his own name so mercilessly exploited for a joke. "Okay, okay, you win bro. Let's eat."

IIIIII

Everyone had finally made it out of the Underground, and Sans planned on making the most of it. He would nap in the grass, take Papyrus to the amusement park, gorge on Toriel's cinnamon-butterscotch pies while swapping bad puns with her, watch every sunset and the stars that followed…There were so many things he wanted to do, and he never knew when…

No, Sans wasn't going to think about it. He was just going to enjoy it while it lasted.

The surface was so delightful. Mold-free air, warm sunrays, a whole city for the monsters to populate and play in…and Papyrus, so happily zooming around in that car he always wanted…good thing there was no traffic. Or humans. Anywhere. Including the kid that led them here, who seemed to have vanished from everyone's memory as well as the world. This too-clean city, so conveniently empty of challengers or strife…

Sans wasn't going to let himself think at all.

IIIIII

As mentioned, this story was a pain to edit ,and this chapter was no exception. It took me awhile to figure out what should be in Chapter 1, and what should be in Chapter 2. Hopefully everything still makes sense after all the shuffling around. Let me know if it doesn't.

Now for some theory/nerdy stuff:

Papyrus's Sans puns: Sans can also mean "without", such as "I want a hamburger sans the pickles."

Sans getting shots of determination - When you call Papyrus next to the snail farm, he says "These snails are just like my brother. Round, slow...and constantly emitting slime?" When called back, he adds "Emitting slime...that's just what brothers do." This also gets referenced again during a call with Papyrus and undyne in Hotland. It's so weird even for Undertale. But what if Papyrus was actually seeing Sans melting like an amalgamate? Considering his depression and apathy, among other things, maybe he needs artificial determination just to keep going. What do you guys think?

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed and will come back for future chapters!