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Papyrus was awake, but it wasn't instant as usual.

It was slow and groggy, and he had a sort of tight feeling in his chest that was threatening to manifest itself through tears. He was in some kind of emotional agony, and he could distinctly remember stumbling down a golden hallway, Sans' voice gently calling him home.

He had died. He knew that much.

No. No, he hadn't just died. If only it were that simple. He hadn't just died; he had failed. The last chance to save the world, to stop the end, and he had failed.

He had failed so fast. Sans had died for him, and he had let him down.

Sans had died for him.

Papyrus let out a choked wail. Sans had died for him. Sans had died!

papyrus! pap, listen to me!

Sans was dead and now Papyrus was alone, alone forever-

it's all over now. you're safe, it's okay.

He would never see Sans again-...

it's all over, and you can wake up now. it's okay, c'mon, you're okay.

Sans...

"yeah? it's alright, come on, bro. it's over now, you're waking up, it's okay..."

"S-Sans...?"

"it's okay, i'm here, i'm here..."

Papyrus just whimpered a little as Sans helped him sit up a bit, guiding the taller skeleton to lean against his chest. For a long moment, Papyrus just relaxed in Sans' grip, listening to the quiet beat of his brother's Soul.

Sans-... Sans was alive. He was okay. He was right here.

But-... But Papyrus saw him die. He saw Sans die. And then he-...

And... And Papyrus remembered, seeing the human— in Waterfall, and then, falling-...

And before that, before that, standing in Snowdin, just as he had planned, and dodging, dodging until—...

And farther, farther back, again, farther, time after time, the same words, again, again, again, and falling, falling, his skull in the snow—...

And just like that, Papyrus could remember. He could remember. Time after time after time, the same thing, the human came, and he died. Time and time again.

It stretched so far back, so many times, dying, dying, dying, it got fuzzier and fuzzier, more times than he could count, so, so long—

"wow, must've really been some nightmare. you, uh, doin' alright there, pap?"

Papyrus realized his breaths were coming in sharp gasps, and his Soul was racing, and he was, he was shaking, and he couldn't stop, he should have been able to stop, he was the Great Papyrus, he could do anything, so why couldn't he control his own breathing—

"shhh, shhh, it's okay, calm down, it's okay. you're safe, it's okay, i'm here, it's okay, shhhh..."

He... he was okay. He was safe. Sans was there. He was okay.

Sans was hugging him tightly, rocking just a little bit, still murmuring comforts to Papyrus. Slowly, Papyrus got his breathing back under control, and his pulse soon followed.

"there ya go," Sans quietly encouraged. "that's better."

For a long moment, Papyrus tried to focus only on Sans' pulse. On slowing his own breathing, on staying calm, until his pulse matched Sans'.

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