"'and so, fluffy bunny said farewell to her new friends with the promise to meet again tomorrow. the end.'"
With an affectionate smile, Sans closed the children's book he'd been reading, leaning over to give his sleeping brother a gentle bump to the forehead with his teeth. "night, bro. love ya." After quietly replacing the book into its properly organized spot on the shelf, Sans turned back to the bed, lingering there.
The past few nights had been plagued with a string of horrific nightmares that he couldn't seem to quite remember, and yet could not seem to shake. And though Papyrus had noticed something was off, Sans had still insisted he was fine until his brother gave him space.
Not for the first time that evening, the shorter skeleton's eyes wandered to the bright red scarf that was carefully folded and laid on the table next to the small army of action figures. He didn't know why he kept looking, and he especially didn't understand why it was giving him throbs of uneasiness. There were plenty of happy memories behind it after all, not to mention it was one of his brother's favorite accessories which truly looked magnificent on him. But for some reason he was beginning to associate it with intense dread for Papyrus's well-being.
Before he could think rationally, he grabbed and clutched the fabric, feeling a pang in his sockets at the weight of it in his hands. Though it continued to trouble him, he carried the scarf with him to his own room, stashing it away where it could no longer be seen, giving a sigh of relief. Perhaps without the scarf, his brother would be safe from whatever was haunting him.
"Sans? …Sans! Saaaaans, WAKE UP!"
"mmnn… wh… 'm awake…"
Bursting into the room, Papyrus all but leaped to the edge of the bed, hands in fists against his hips. "You are CLEARLY NOT awake, brother! You're LYING HERE IN BED AFTER FOUR SOLID HOURS OF REST! Honestly, I don't know what to do with you."
"f-four…? pap, y'know older bros need twice 's much sleep as younger ones…"
"Normally, I allow your excessive sleeping habits, but I have a question of GREAT IMPORTANCE that COULD NOT WAIT for your dawdling schedule."
Sockets opening a crack, Sans blearily looked up - then gave a small start, seeing his fully outfitted brother - save for one essential accessory - giving him an incredibly pensive expression. He was pretty sure he already knew what the question was, pupils flicking down to the bare vertebrae of Papyrus' neck. "y-yeah, pap?"
"Have you seen my scarf? It was missing ever since I woke up, and I KNOW I had it laid out last night."
"your scarf, huh? nah, but maybe it had scarf things to do?"
"new necks to see, new roads to thread."
"maybe it was scared of heights. or maybe it's giving you the cold shoulder, 'cause y'know, it's not-"
"SANS! THAT'S ENOUGH!"
The younger skeleton gave the sleepier one an annoyed glare, though his countenance quickly softened. "Are you absolutely certain you haven't seen it?"
"pretty positive. i've been in bed ever since you went to sleep, bro."
"…I see." With that, Papyrus turned and walked out.
Sans didn't like to see his brother so peeved, but he was still feeling strangely better that his brother wasn't wearing the scarf. Closing his eyes again, Sans quickly returned to sleep.
Around an hour later, Papyrus returned to Sans' room, carefully pulling the covers off of his brother and scooping him up. The smaller skeleton sighed, but didn't quite wake as he shifted, cuddling closer within the familiar, protective arms. He still dozed as he was carried downstairs and right out of the front door, though he did softly flinch at the kiss of snowflakes on his face in the short trek from their house to the shed.
Only after being placed in a cushioned seat and feeling a tug on his arms did Sans begin to rouse with a groan. His sockets flew open, shock bringing him to full alertness as he found his brother pulling his arms from the sleeves of his jacket, and once that was discarded - neatly folded of course - his arms were gently yanked down behind the back of the chair, wrists being tied with nylon rope.
"wha-!? what the hell? pap, what are you doing to me?" Sans' pupils flicked rapidly about the room, taking in the fact that it wasn't as empty as it normally was. "why're we in the shed?" He tugged on his arms, now completely secured so he could barely move them.
Papyrus didn't answer for the moment, moving around to the front of Sans again and pulling out a bench with a pillow that had been carefully measured to match the height of the seat of the chair. Grabbing Sans' legs, he lifted and laid them atop the pillow, tying his ankles down as well and making sure the rope was tight around the legs of the bench.
"c'mon, pap, wh-what is this?" Giving his legs a testing tug as well, he looked up at Papyrus anxiously, sockets wide and questioning.
"This, brother…" Papyrus pulled on a chain cord and the object next to him lit up with an intense brightness aimed right at Sans' face, making the small skeleton wince and squint, "…is an attempt to gain your honesty."
"wh-what? wait a minute… is this an interrogation…? like in those cop dramas?"
Papyrus clasped his hands together, a wide, enthusiastic grin replacing the neutral scowl he'd worn only a moment before. "YES! Indeed, brother! And you're the interrogee!" The stern expression returned as he cleared his nonexistent throat, getting back into character. "I've always thought if I were to interrogate anyone, it would be a HUMAN THAT I WILL SOMEDAY CAPTURE! But for it to be my own bone and marrow?" He paused dramatically with a shake of his head. "But the Great Papyrus must strive to uphold peace and security in the Underground if I'm ever to be a Royal Guardsman, even if it means making sure my brother keeps on the right side of the law!"
The endearing playfulness that Papyrus exuded helped to ease his apprehension about the situation. "…uh-huh, and what crime have i committed?"
"A CRIME AGAINST FASHION!" Papyrus suddenly leaned down in Sans' face, indicating his neck. "You took my scarf, I know you did!"
"ghh-! a-and what makes you so sure about that…?"
Papyrus slowly stood back to his full height again. "Well, brother, perhaps I'm more observant than you believe me to be, for I noticed how often you were sneaking peeks at it yesterday. Almost as if you had some keen interest that would cause your fingers to get itchy and snatch it up in the night while I was sleeping, am I right?"
Sans jolted. Had he really been distracted by it that much that it was so obvious? Not that he was going to own up to his actions if he could help it. "heh, maybe I was a bit spacey yesterday, but that doesn't mean i took your scarf."
The younger skeleton began to meticulously remove his gloves. "Very well. This could have been easy for you, brother, but I'm afraid I must take drastic action to extract the truth from you." Reaching behind himself, Papyrus felt out something on a tray, a narrowed-eyed smirk appearing on his face when he grasped it, and he thrust the object forward. "Don't think that I don't know how to get you to confess, nyehehe!"
Sans surprised himself with a strangled vocalization of actual alarm at the sight of a soft white plume between his brother's fingers, acting as a symbol for what this interrogation would entail - and Sans was utterly and terribly sensitive. His position made a lot of sense now, and his toes curled tightly.
"ghhk-! p-pap, h-heh, c'mon, buddy-!"
"THAT'S RIGHT, SANS! I AM INDEED YOUR GREATEST BUDDY! You are truly lucky to have a brother such as myself to keep your toes in line."
Sans stared up blankly at Papyrus for a moment before his natural grin quivered and widened, a puff of amused breath escaping him before he burst into snickers. "pfft-! heheh! okay, heh, that one was pretty good."
"Oh, I'll tell you what's good. It's good that you like to laugh so much, brother, for soon you won't be able to stop!" Papyrus declared, lowering the feather close to the petite skeletal peds. "I'll give you ONE LAST CHANCE to tell me the truth. Will you take it?"
Sans recoiled as much as he could with a soft whine. "hnnnn, i… i didn't take the scarf. c-can't we just go back to the house an'- ghhkh~! aaha! naahaha, stop!" Jumping as the feather brushed down the bony sole of his right foot, Sans tugged harshly against his restraints, turning his head toward his shoulder.
"Nyehe, still as ticklish as ever, brother, mm?" Papyrus continued to softly stroke up and down with the occasional twirl, poking and flicking beneath the defensive toes. Gently grabbing hold and pulling them back, he began to slowly tease along the delicate areas that Sans could no longer block.
"aahaa! ahaha! kkh-! khh~heehee! o-oh no, hehee! dohon't-! eeehee!" Fingers tightly curled while his toes couldn't, Sans gave his head sporadic shakes, sockets squeezed shut.
Before he'd fully explored the area, Papyrus jumped to the left foot, prying the toes back and apart with careful nudges of his fingers, sliding and twisting the soft plume between each one.
Sans' squeaks morphed into a distressed squeal and he threw his skull back, squirming in place as his tugging became more frenzied against his left ankle. "aaiieeheeee-! oh gahaa-! eeheee! staahaap!" It never failed to surprise him how horrendously intense soft implements could be, able to trail smoothly over the hard surface of bone.
The sensation actually did stop, quite unexpectedly, and Sans peeked open a socket, only to see his brother taking a stride closer to his side. The taller skeleton set the feather horizontally across Sans' knees, grinning deviously at him.
"Now don't let that fall, or I'm going to bring out something you're really not going to like."
"nn, hnnh, o-okay…" Sans whimpered quietly, already starting to accept that he wasn't easily getting out of this. But he simply couldn't admit what he'd done. Not only was he uncertain he would be able to explain why, but any explanation he could give would only cause Papyrus to worry. Not to mention Sans still didn't want his brother to have it back.
Reaching up under Sans' shirt, Papyrus began to skitter and scratch his fingertips rapidly all over the small rib cage, making sure to swipe at the inner sides of the bones. "NYEHhehe, tickle tickle, brother! Try to keep still!"
Sans gasped sharply before belting out frenzied laughter, eyes wide in ticklish panic. "h-haaahh-! gaaahaaaahaaa-ggk! nnaahaaaaa! pahaaahaap! hahahaaaa!" Papyrus knew - he knew! - that Sans couldn't help rather wild reactions from hard tickling on his ribs as it was one of his more prominently sensitive places. Writhing furiously, Sans tried desperately not to thrash, keeping an eye on the feather as it jostled along with his legs. "staaaaaaahaaa-! staap! ahee cahaahaan't…!"
With a cheery snicker, Papyrus raked his clawed fingers a bit more forcefully, increasing the intensity of the gargalesis until Sans was desperately kicking against the restraints and cachinnating raucously. The feather's placement didn't last long, juggled about until it got knocked too far and fluttered to the floor. Pulling away, Papyrus gave a victorious "NYEHAH!" before bending down to pick it up and giving it a dexterous flick under Sans' jaw. "It looks like we're going to move on to the next phase, brother. However, if you just tell me what you did with my scarf, we'll forget all about it. What do you say?"
"khh!" Sans flinched and slumped back, panting heavily, ribs still panging with tingles from the rough treatment. "no more! nnhnn!"
"Hmm, not quite what I was looking for. Oh, well, I guess we'll just have to continue." Walking back to the tray, Papyrus placed the feather down and picked something else up that Sans didn't quite recognize at first until his brother's shadow fell over him, dimming the harsh light.
"hh… wh-what's that for…? thinkin' of joining a band?" Sans gave the padded drum mallet a critical eye, mainly perplexed what it would be used for.
"I should think not, brother. Your trombone is obnoxious enough, and I will not join in your incidental musical shenanigans!" He returned to Sans' side, hiking up the small skeleton's shirt until his ribs were fully exposed. "I do think I can work a pleasant tune out of you though, nyehe…"
Tensing as his torso was bared, Sans squashed the desire to point out that a pun about making him sing in this interrogative situation would be better suited. He really didn't need to provoke more of his brother's ire. "i… uh, what're you gonna… do with that?"
"So eager to find out?"
"well, not really, it's just… i'm pretty sure i'd rather not be hit…"
"Sans, do you really think I have any intent to hurt you?"
"n-no! no, i know ya don't…"
"Please don't worry Sans, for I AM A GOOD COP - er, GUARD! THERE ARE NO BAD GUARDS IN THIS INTERROGATION! I am on your side! I just don't want you to keep things bottled up, brother, especially if it's turning you into a scarf-snatcher."
So it really was all a game - a bit of an intrusive one, perhaps, but Sans hadn't exactly been discreet about shutting Papyrus out lately. He glanced aside, sockets starting to ache the slightest bit, and not from the brightness aimed at him. "o-oh… well… what's that for then…?" he repeated his original question, still not ready to talk.
Papyrus seemed to deflate just a little bit at Sans' continued unwillingness, but it was very short-lived as excitement to play with his brother more overtook him. "Oh, you'll see! Or rather feel, when I do THIS!" Gripping the mallet loosely in one hand, he struck with great precision and care, bouncing it once against one of the older skeleton's lower ribs, a short, low, 'tinking' sort of sound resounding from the contact.
At first it was just startling, not at all painful, but Sans quickly realized the reason for the strange choice of torture tool when his rib continued to resonate, tingling deeply and thoroughly for another couple of moments. "gh-hhn! hh! oh… oh no… pahaaaaap!" he whined at the mischievous glint in his brother's sockets.
After letting the realization sink in enough to build anticipation, Papyrus resumed his work, gingerly drumming at line of rib bones, experimenting with the pitches they made - the upper, smaller bones making higher notes than the longer lower ones.
Sans squirmed and gasped and whimpered as the sensation continued to build to unbearable levels, spreading to his sternum and spine through the incessant vibrations. "khhn-! hnn…! gh~hnn! aah! h-haa~ah! khh~ahaaaha! o-oh staahaars, p-plehease! ihit tickles, aahahaaa! oh, stahaaap! stahaappit! eeheeheee! naahaaahaaaa!" His fingers clenched and splayed as he rocked around, head thunking backward and sporting an enormous, helpless grin. "aahaheee cahahan't tahake it! aahahaaa!"
"NYEHheheh, I did warn you this would be worse, brother! But you can get it to stop at any time if you just tell me what I want to know," Papyrus coaxed, his grin widening as well as he deviously jigged the handle so that the mallet bounced around in the space between two parallel ribs. His free hand reached down to spider and scritch along his spine.
"gghyyaaaaaaaahaa! noho! nononono! ahahaahaa! pleasepleheease, ihit's soho bahaaaad!"
"That's still not what I'm looking for."
"kkghh-! mehercyyyyheehee! it tihickhles! it tickles!"
"Where's my scarf, brother?"
"aaaaaahaaa! i took it! it wahaaas mehee!"
The mallet was quickly pulled away, but the devastating tingles remained and Sans couldn't stop giggling, even as guilt and dread filled him, twisting about in his SOUL. "heheee…! ehee! haaaa… gh-hhnnh… nnhnn… i-i'm s-sorry…"
The taller skeleton took a long, relieved breath, putting a reassuring hand on his brother's shoulder. "There, there, Sans, it's all right, I'm not mad at you. I would very much like to know why, however. And of course where! The Great Papyrus has standards to uphold after all! And those standards include not venturing into town scarfless!"
As the lingering sensation slowly ebbed away, Sans attempted, but failed to hold his brother's gaze, pupils flicking to the floor. "…i don't w-wanna give it back. s-sorry bro."
"But, Sans-!" Papyrus suddenly looked quite crestfallen, voice tremoring in confusion. "You know I love that scarf! I don't understand why you would do this. Why would you lie about it?"
"dunno…" Sans mumbled evasively.
Hesitating for just a moment, Papyrus set his expression firmly. "I set out to get the truth out of you, and I will accept no less than THE WHOLE TRUTH!" Turning Sans' SOUL blue, he kept his brother virtually trapped by gravity while he untied, flipped and re-secured the smaller skeleton.
Sans didn't do much to protest the change, but his breaths quickened and he nervously tugged on his wrists, feeling even more vulnerable than before. Papyrus was quite familiar with his sweet spots and was particularly ecstatic about teasing Sans about them whenever the opportunity arose. As a result, Sans was wary about keeping his back to his brother.
He turned his head, anxiously watching as Papyrus returned to his tray of tools, looking them over before nodding in approval as he selected one.
Sans' sockets snapped a bit wider at the sight of an extremely silky looking scrub brush. "gh-hhnn-! oh no, please, pap, not that!" He pushed his shoulders back, shifting nervously on his knees, fingers curling at the mere thought of the thing touching him.
"Well, Sans, if you at least tell me where my scarf is, I'll SPARE you. Wouldn't you rather tell me?"
It took Sans a few moments to consider before he firmly shook his head, bracing himself.
"Very well, then…" Placing a hand on Sans' shoulder, Papyrus angled the bristles, slowly and gently sweeping them adjacent to his brother's spine, letting them glide in the grooves between his backbone and rib cage.
The effect was immediate and intense, and Sans jumped and jolted as much as the ropes would allow, an embarrassingly shrill shriek escaping him. "aaiiieeeheee-aaahaaa! pleeheeeheeeeee-! naaahahaaa, oho gaaahaaaa-!" The brush paused but still stayed against his back and Sans shivered violently with a whiny squeak - until it started up again, eliciting another harrowed, screechy squeal. Tears welled and dripped from his sockets, adding an irritating additional tingle to his cheeks and jaw where they slid. "n-nomore, aahaaaa…! ahaa, i t-t-took it 'cahause ahee don't wanna see you die!" he wailed out with a sob.
The brush halted again, but this time pulled away entirely. "Nyeh? Sans…?"
Sans panted and gasped, hiccuping softly as he trembled and blinked, unsure of where his outburst had come from.
"…Sans?" Papyrus tried again, walking around to the back of the chair to face his brother. "What do you mean by that?"
"i… i'm not really sure… th-that's just how i feel," he admitted, almost as confused as Papyrus. Was that really the reason?
Papyrus gently mopped at Sans' tears, carefully lowering and smoothing out his shirt. "Oh, Sans…" Leaning down, he hugged his arms around him, rubbing at his back.
The firmer touch stirred up the lingering tingles, which made Sans quiver with a sharp intake of breath, but he leaned into his brother's affection all the same, sniffling with shaking shoulders as he cried.
"It's all right, Sans, I'm right here, I'm not going to die. And DEFINITELY NOT BY SCARF! That would just be embarrassing for someone as great as me, nyehe. There are NO lethal traps of fatality hidden within its folds, I can assure you, brother!"
Sans began to quake, chuckles mixing with sobs, stress finally starting to drain away from him. "h-heh… hhf, i know i-it doesn't m-make a lotta sense… hmnn, hh, i think it h-has somethin' t' do with all these, hh, nightmares i've had recently… i-i'm sorry, pap. i shouldn't'a taken your scarf, it was a pretty boneheaded thing of me t' do."
"It's all right, Sans, I forgive you. If you really feel that way though, I suppose I can forego wearing it…"
"mmn, n-nah, it was selfish of me to try to take it from you over some dumb dreams. i have so many good memories about the scarf, it should be able to make a few more, huh? it's in the bottom of my drawer in my room."
After giving Sans a squeeze and withdrawing, Papyrus suddenly lit up with a grin. "Oh, that gives me an idea! Don't go anywhere!" He tapped Sans playfully just above his nasal cavity before dashing off.
"khh-! very funny!" Sans called out, toying with the idea of teleporting out of his bonds while his brother was gone, ultimately deciding to stay put.
A few minutes later, Papyrus returned with his scarf in his hands, beaming as he approached his brother, turning off the interrogative lamp along the way. "You trust me, don't you, Sans?"
"course i do, bro," Sans assured, looking up at him curiously.
"Nyehehe, good. It's going to all be okay, brother!" He slipped the scarf over Sans' eyes, tying it securely though not too tightly.
"w-woah, what're you doing now?"
"You said you'd like to associate my scarf with pleasant memories, so we should make some right now!" Papyrus answered, giving Sans a reassuring rub on the shoulder. Positioning himself behind Sans again, he began to lightly trail his fingers down along his backbone.
Sans shuddered with a surprised squeak, though his demeanor quickly calmed as he fidgeted at the light, pleasanter tickling. "hehee! mhm~! hmhm~mm… a-ah~hmm."
"You like that, Sans?"
"mm, h-hehe, i-it's nice~…" he responded rather shyly, always a little flustered to admit his outright enjoyment.
"Good, are you feeling any better?"
Sans nodded in bliss, letting out a long, trembling sigh. "mhm~hmm… yeah, thanks pap. hmhmm~… i, uh, guess I kinda needed all that, h-heh."
"Of course, brother! And please don't hesitate to talk to me if something is troubling you, Sans. I love you and I'll always do my VERY BEST to help you through any anxiety you may have!"
"h-hm~mm… would that mean no more interrogations…?"
"Nyehehe, well, I'm sure I can always find a reason to interrogate you, brother."
A small chuckle bubbled out of the small skeleton and his smile slightly grew. "i think i'd be okay with that."