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Papyrus sat up in bed, instantly awake.

But—

But how?! Why?

He-... he hadn't died-...

He hadn't died, so why had everything gone back again? Why was he waking up here, now, in his bed, at 2:00 AM when he had fallen asleep in the kitchen with Sans in his lap, later in the afternoon? He hadn't died!

Maybe-... maybe him dying wasn't one of the necessary criteria for the cycle to restart?

Papyrus shuddered at the thought that something else caused it. Though, to be fair, the thought that anything, even his death, could cause something like this to happen kind of made him shudder.

Regardless, here he was again, back at the beginning. He knew he hadn't died- he would have woken up for that- and yet he was here again.

...So yes, his death was apparently not a factor in this.

For a long while, Papyrus sat in bed, brooding. So... what was it? Why did this happen? What kept the cycle cycling?

...He didn't know. And thinking about it, about all those times he- and Sans, too- must have died needlessly was kind of giving him a tight feeling in his chest.

Eventually, he decided perhaps he should go check on Sans. So he got out of bed, and walked over to the door.

But when Papyrus reaches for the doorknob, he hesitated. It was dark out there, in the hallway...

Then he just shook his head, letting out a small, sheepish laugh. A fear of the dark seemed a little trivial, now, in light of this great and awful circle Papyrus had discovered himself trapped in. So he opened the door and proceeded calmly down the hall to Sans' room.

When he opened the door to Sans' room, he found his brother lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling. When Sans heard the door open, he sat up to look at Papyrus. "...pap? what are you doing here?"

"I- I don't know, I just-..." Papyrus realized what he was about to say, and remembered why he couldn't say that to Sans. So he quickly adjusted his expression to one much more akin to that which belonged on the face of the Great Papyrus, and said, "I just had a strange feeling, and my brotherly instinct told me to come check on you! And I'm glad I did! No wonder you're always dozing off in the middle of the day, you're not getting any proper sleep!"

Sans blinked a little, then he closed his eyes with a small laugh. "heh. yeah, you're probably right."

Papyrus blew out a sigh and walked over to sit down on Sans' mattress. "...Did you have another nightmare?"

Sans sat up a little, meeting Papyrus's eyes. He seemed hesitant. "...yeah."

"I wish you would tell me what your nightmares were about. I think it would help."

"...mmmnhh."

Papyrus let out another sigh. "You should try to sleep."

"yeah." Slowly, sans sat up, then flipped over in the opposite direction to settle halfway on Papyrus's lap. Papyrus responded with a sigh, this time one of compliance, and he pulled Sans up all the way into his lap, wrapping his brother in a hug. Sans let out a small, appreciative murmur, and snuggled against Papyrus's chest.

For a long moment, Papyrus just sat there, holding his brother.

The way they were sitting, it was almost the exact same position as yesterday—

Not yesterday, Papyrus told himself, last today.

...

How many times, he wondered...

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