I started and jumped from the pillow in the dark, my whole body seizing and splintering wi’ panic—
But it was only Ian, of course, half-asleep at my back. He pulled me closer against him and kissed my shoulder. “Yr—tossin’ and turnin’ about like—S’matter?”
“Nothin’…Nothin’, only somethin’ I ate,” I whispered, tryin’ to catch my breath.
“Nay, lad, I’ll—I’ll do,” I panted, my blood racing and pounding. “Go b—back to sleep, mo ghriadh.” I pulled back the quilts and made to sit up. “I’ll—go take a turn— settle meself.” Nearly midnight, it must be.
Ian groped clumsily for me and caught my hand. “Lov’ye…”
Tears prickled in my eyes, sharp and hot against the air of the night. God, the tenderness of him—the sweetness and care and love this good man lavished upon me, always—
“D’ye think me a good person, Ian?” I whispered into the dark between us.
My throat felt sore, the words as raw and frail and desperate as my pathetic heart. “Am I truly good? Or have I only been good at pretendin’ to be…while I’m no more than the verra worst kind of filth?”
The question rang out into the silence; unanswered. He’d have reassured me, had he actually heard, had the soft, familiar whiffle of his snorin’ not already resumed. It was as well not to be coddled wi’ comforting lies. I kent the truth well enough.
Oh, but how I ached to wake him, to tell him at least of Claire and the evil that I’d done; to let him hold me tight and safe while I wept into his chest; let the comfort of him surround me, soothe me, as he convinced me wi’ gentle kisses and soft words that all would be well, that he’d carry the burden wi’ me—that I wouldna be alone, ever.
Alone like Jamie.
Alone like Claire.
This was my penance: this coldness—this regret—this utter, writhing, blistering shame. I’d taken away any chance for their happiness, so for the rest of my life, I had to bear it; to atone, myself, however I might. Emptiness, carried alone: a fitting punishment for my crime.
I kissed Ian’s brow, slipped out of bed, found my shawl, and made my way down the stairs toward the study. I reeled a bit on the treads, my head achin’ and spinnin’, and small bloody wonder, for I’d drunk heavily all the evenin’.
At first, it were only that I was preparin’ myself for the task at hand, hopin’ the drink would brace me, give me courage for when I found the right moment to face Jamie. Every time I looked at him, though, the gentle hunger in his eyes that lit over bein’ wi’ family; the smile on his face as he played with the wee bairns, as he joyed in the balm of home—of love—God, my coward’s heart had bucked and fled, at every opportunity.
And by the time I might have finally confronted things, the drink had taken hold, bringing my fears to bear, and I’d staggered up to my bed long before anyone else, and dreamt of screams of pain—and sorrow—and—
Now, I was surprised and relieved to find as I reached the bottom of the stairs that I was hardened, a wall of conviction slowly rising up around me, protectin’ me. Jamie need not know; Jamie must not be told. It was too late, after all; Claire was too far gone. I’d done wrong, to my everlasting shame. I’d committed a terrible, cruel evil against them both. But what good would it do to torture him wi’ that knowledge, now? When he had no chance of findin’ her? None. T’would be only agony to him, that wisp of hope, now vanished by my hand.
No. He couldna ever be told. It was the kindest thing I could do, now, to keep the secret from hurting him further.
All that remained was for me to find a way to live wi’ myself—drink and distraction; and there was always a good decanter of whisky in the study along wi’ the books. I pushed through the study door and was no more than two steps in before I collided wi’ something solid and—
My candle was somersaulting through the air and onto the good rug, and just as suddenly, quick fingers snatched it up again before it could catch.
“I’m so sorry, Jen,” Jamie was sayin’, settin’ the candlestick on the table next to one of his own before turnin’ back to grin at me, all sheepish in only his shirt. “I couldna sleep and came down for a dram and was looking at the books just there by the door, and—” He stopped and blinked, surveying me in alarm. “Lass, you’re white as a sheet and shaking like— Are ye hurt, dove?”
“No, its—I’m fine—” I shrank back from his touch, from the heartbreaking sweetness of the endearment.
Only—agony to him, now.
It’s far pa—past—(breathe)—too late—damn me to hell for it.
I turned hastily for the door. “I didna mean to intrude upon your quiet, Jamie, I’ll just—”
“No-no-no, dinna be daft,” Jamie laughed, eagerly, stepping swiftly around me to block the door. “Stay! Sit wi’ me a time—have a drink.”
“No, really, I should—”
“Jen, we barely got to speak all this evening,” he said, and there was more than a touch of hurt in that soft voice, those soft eyes. “Please? Stay wi’ me?”
Brother, if ye only kent what I was, you’d cast me out into the cold this moment, and have me walk until the very sea swallowed me up.
And I’d deserve it.
“Come on, wee fool,” Jamie said, gently, but in truth, he was begging. He wanted her to stay. He needed her to stay, to help drive this terrible sadness away, tonight.
At last, she relented, and let him close the door. He held out his arms to her, and after a very long moment, she came to him. “It’s very glad I am to see ye, lass,” he whispered into her hair, trying not to let his voice crack with just how glad he was of it.
Lord, why did she sound so tentative around him, tonight? She had been cool toward him all the evening, busying herself with the meal and with clearing it, and with taking another whisky, offering him one, but then bustling onward to the next task and retiring early before they could exchange more than a dozen words.
“Tell me true.” He gently took her by the shoulders and held her far enough away to look her in the eye, beseeching. “Have I done something to wrong ye, lass?”
She gaped at him, going even paler than before. “Wrong me?”
“I dinna think I’m mistaken in noticing you’re no’ pleased to see me, this visit. So I’ll ask again….Have I done something that’s wronged ye?” Even moments ago, she had seemed barely to touch him as he embraced her. “I’ll do anythin’ I can to make it right, I swear it.”
“Never.” To his astonishment, her face fell, and she made a little sound almost like a sob as she at last hugged him tight, a real embrace. “You would never do anything to wrong me, Jamie.”
He held her close, the sense of home finally settling around him. His blood—his sister.
“I’m sorry, Jamie,” she said, muffled into his chest, “I am glad to see ye. I’m just—no’ quite myself, tonight.”
“Is something amiss wi’ ye then, dove? Are ye feeling ill?”
“No, I’ll do.” He could have sworn she shuddered, but she pulled back and put her hands on her hips to study at him with brows drawn, as she always did, the dear, wee busybody. “Lord above, you’re too thin, ye great toad.”
“Are great toads typically thin?” he laughed, placing a kiss on the top of her head and moving to settle onto the plump cushions of the settee.
“Aye, and your voice all scratchit like one, to boot,” she laughed with something like her usual fire, curling her legs under her on the armchair facing him. “But truly, do ye get yourself fed at all, in Edinburgh?”
“Aye,” he said, passing her a whisky glass, “not grand fare, mind,” he winked, or tried to, “but dinna fash: I make it a special point of policy to eat every day.”
“Well, that’s good. Do it more, aye? You’re—” She shook her head, looking actually pained as she took him in again. “You’re….wasting away, Jamie.”
He waved a hand in dismissal. “That’s why I must visit my sister, whose excellent cooks will always get me fattened up again.”
“I must thank ye again for seeing my wee Ian safely home to me.”
“’Course, Jen,” he murmured, “happy to do it. The lad continues to be quite the handful, I see.”
“God,” she groaned, “I’ve not the faintest idea what’s to be done about the wee eejit. S’like tryin’ to trap a breeze upon a mountaintop. I’m sure he’ll ask to be allowed to go back wi’ ye wi’ our blessing this time, but—”
“I’d no’ mind it, owermuch” He tried to sound casual, not as desperately eager as he felt. “In fact, I verra nearly let him talk me into letting him stay, this time.”
“Wheedles something fierce, does wee Ian,” Jenny agreed ruefully. “I suppose ‘tis good for his hope of catchin’ a wife one day. A boy that’s so plain best ken how to wield charm to his good uses, at least,” she said with a grimace and a deep draught from her glass.
“Aye, that’s so,” Jamie laughed. “He can argue the black off a boot. Though, it was less to do wi’ him than me,” he added quietly, a moment later.
“I’d have been happy for the company.” He shrugged, trying for nonchalance, but it was a shrug of unease. “It’s quite lonely, there in the shop.” His emptiness rang into the very corners of the room in the saying of it.
Jenny heard it too, and put on a cheery, winning manner as she scoffed, “Nonsense, you’ve got Fergus, aye?”
“Fergus is a great help, true, and an even greater comfort to me,” he agreed. The boy—Christ, he was fifteen years or more past being a *boy,* but Fergus would always be so, to Jamie—was his pride and his right hand.
“But, of course, ye may not ken how often Fergus is gone from Edinburgh seeing to—other business. Scarce half the days of the month, do I see him, in fact.” He shrugged. “And of course, I’m alone in my rooms, after the shop closes. Wi’ only myself for company, the conversation tends to be a trifle repetitive.”
He meant it as a wee jest to lighten the mood. It didn’t work, for either of them. There was a fair-sized lump in his throat. Jenny’s hands were tight around her glass, her eyes down. He knew he shouldn’t speak so, so wretchedly self-pitying, but damn him, he needed to have someone hear him and understand.
“Sometimes, I go an entire week or more wi’out anyone—not a soul— speaking to me as if they knew me. And it can be longer, even, wi’out anyone saying my real name to me….In Edinburgh, ken, I’m Alexander Malcolm.”
She gave a weak smile, whispering, “Sawney.”
“Aye. And folk smile and bow and say, ‘Good Day, Mr. Malcolm.’….‘Shall we see ye on Saturday, Sawney?’….’When are ye thinking of taking a wife, Mr. Malcolm?’”
The empty glass shot from Jenny’s hands and spun ‘round on the carpet. Neither of them moved to pick it up, and Jamie found he couldn’t stop talking.
He swallowed. “Before the cave—prison—England——”
Lord, that he might be safe.
“—I didna truly ken how much it meant to me to be….known. Myself. And after everything that’s happened these twenty years, I now find most days as though—” He shook his head. “—as though I’ll just fall away and vanish into naught, from lack of it. I havena….” He dropped his eyes, too ashamed to look her in the eye as he spoke the darkest desolation of his heart, “I can hardly even name the broken pieces of me, any longer…..let alone hope to put them back together.”
Jenny blinked hard as though holding back tears. Lord, no, there were tears in her eyes, to his shame. He wasn’t saying these things for pity. It was simply the truth of his heart, and it was a true gift to be given the grace to say it aloud, rather than having it tear him apart in the quiet of his mind, day after day. And yet it pained him to grieve Jenny so, to give her any more reason to fear and fret for him.
He started to say so, but she suddenly blurted, “Maybe—” She was pale, and Jamie could swear she was trembling. “Maybe ‘tis time to—to come back to Balriggan.”
“No,” he said at once with half a laugh, standing and walking over to one of the bookcases.
“No, I said.”
“I ken things wi’ Laoghaire—”
“There’s no’ moving me on this,” he said, more sharply. He had no desire for her to dream up another scheme for rehabilitating his personal happiness. “I’ll continue to do right by them, of course, see them taken care of but…No. I’ll no’ try to find comfort, there, again.”
“Jamie, mo chridhe, please just listen—” She was right on the verge of weeping, from the sound at his back. “I ken she’s not—that she’s… what she is…but I dinna want—” There came the sound of Jenny throwing up her hands in desperation, “—Ye shouldna spend the rest of your days alone, Jamie, wi’—wi’ no JOY! The thought of—”
“There is no joy to be had at Balriggan, sister. Not that kind.”
He turned to her and gently grasped her shoulders. “You’ve known me all my life, Jen,” he said softly down into her face, contorted as it was with shockingly-vehement feeling. “I’ve been wrong about many things; been hasty and reckless and a fool, when my emotions got ahead of my better judgment, or before I kent proper facts—” He cupped her cheek, his voice hoarse. “—but trust me to ken my own heart, at least: to be alone, to be empty, is better than—than that; to lose what pieces of me still remain to—anger…bitterness….”
She stared up into his face, lips pursed, eyes red and glistening, voice trembling uncontrollably. “But can ye no’—?”
He released her and kissed her cheek, putting all his self into being strong and brave-faced once more, as was his duty. “Dinna fash yourself about me. I’m sorry I let myself carry on down such a maudlin road, this night.”
Jamie smiled, as warm and broad a smile as he could, as he walked past her back to the settee, meaning to sit. “But it means a great deal to me how much ye do trouble yourself for my sake, truly. I ken ye always mean the best for me, Jenny, and I’m—”
The sob burst out of Jenny like a cannon blast in the night and Jamie whirled, reaching for an absent dirk. “Jen, WH—”
Her face was a broken thing behind her hands. “I’m so—sss—soSORRY, brother.”
“Sorry?” Jamie felt as though he’d been hit by a charging horse. That wasn’t pity in her ‘sorry’: it was true apology. “Whatever for??”
“For the fool that I am,” she sobbed, the tears flowing over her fingers. “After all ye’ve been through—your own sister ought—OUGHT to—Christ, Jamie, I’m so—ashamed.”
“Jenny, dove, mo chridhe,” he whispered as he reached for her, “what on earth are are ye going on ab—?”
“Wait here—” she managed to choke, already staggering for the door. Her eyes were wild and she put out a staying hand as she went. “Dinna move, just—Just—wait!!”
Too stunned to do otherwise, Jamie stood unmoving on the study rug, mind racing, absolutely at a loss to guess what had come over her.
When at last she came back through the door, she was white as death, a paper, or envelope, perhaps, clasped against her breast.
“Jenny, you’re frightening me. Tell me at once what’s happened.”
“I’ve done—” Her chest seemed to cave in around the envelope, wracked with her sobs. “I’ve done a terrible wrong against ye, brother.”
“Nonsense,” he vowed, moving toward her to sort things out. “Whatever’s the—”
“Don’t,” she hissed, halting him with a frantic shake of the the head, her teeth gritted. “Just—stop.”
He raised both his hands to her in desperate plea.“I dinna understand, Jenny.”
She closed the distance between them with halting steps and forced the envelope into his hands, holding her own tight around them. He couldn’t take his eyes off her face, for it was an expression he’d never seen there—absolute anguish and absolute shame.
His eyes dropped to his hands. Aye, a thick envelope, the face bare and unmarked.
He turned it over and saw the single word there written:
J a m i e
He might have been screaming—he might have been crying—he might have fallen into a dark pit, with the earth closed in over him.
He was on the ground, his leg aching from where he’d fallen against something. The envelope stared up at him from the floor and he stared back.
those five letters
written in Claire’s hand
a thin interlace pattern pressed into the blood-red seal.
Jenny was sobbing. “She was here— Claire was here, Jamie—”
“Claire’s gone—” he was screaming or whimpering, “Claire—is—GONE—”
“She came back.”
“No, she came for ye—CAME here—
Nothing made sense
“—And I did such grievous wrong by ye in the things I said to her.”
There was no damned SENSE in the words that she—
C l a i r e
Jenny kneeling before him.
Jenny, grabbing his hand, hard. “She said it would give ye peace, what’s inside.”
Jenny, pressing the packet against his chest wi’ his own hand, holding it there, tight.
Jenny’s face, mere inches from his, breaking apart with weeping—all but mute from the violence of her pain. “I'm—so—sorry, Jamie.”
A kiss on his cheek, and then she was gone.
Watching like one paralyzed as the envelope fluttered once more to the ground onto its face.
J a m i e
…his real name.
He lunged, but he couldn’t even lift the envelope. His fingers felt like claws—lacking thumbs—lacking everything except brute force. He managed to rip off the seal and force open the pages, but he could only press it flat onto the floor with both his hands, hunched over it like a starving beast over its kill.
And though he’d feared it some nightmare, his soul burst like the lungs of a drowning man as he read—as he believed— the words beneath him:
So there’s been a recent introduction of two new characters in Steven Universe, and–it’s funny, because they’re the respective birthstones of me and my all-too-lovely partner in crime @pomnoichu B))))))
Naturally, we thus had to be drawn as them. HERE YOU GO:
PERFECT MATCH, EEEEEEEEEEYY 8D Love our coincidences between us tbh;; keep piling ‘em on, world B)))
Previous installment:Thanks(Thanksgiving and Bree’s Birthday)
Late November, 1950
“Bath time, little smudge!”
Bree squealed and, like a shot, went barreling toward the bathroom. Turning two years old seemed to have turned on a tap of perpetual energy from on high: energy to throw tantrums, energy to hate going to bed, energy to form VERY strong opinions about what she did and did not plan to eat, and so on, and so forth for all time.
However, she had also decided she loved baths, and by the time I arrived at the tub myself, she was already standing on the bathmat, triumphantly nude and brimming with expectation with her toys in hand. I laughed and kissed the top of her head. “One minute, you goofy girl.”
I poked my head briefly into the living room. “Do you want bath duty or bedtime duty tonight?”
“I’ll take bed, if it’s all the same to you, Sassenach,” Jamie said, looking up from the rolltop. “I’d like to get the rest of the bills paid and ready for tomorrow’s Post.”
“Fine by me,“ I said, taking the chance to stretch my back, already thinking of plopping into bed as soon as humanly possible. “Thank you for handling those, sweetheart.”
“’Course,” he said with feeling, rising and kissing my forehead. “How are ye feeling?”
“Pretty well, at the moment,” I said, pleasantly surprised, now that I thought about it. “Like death, this morning, but I haven’t vomited once since lunch!”
“Victory, indeed,” he grinned, kissing me, long and sweetly.
“MaMAAAA?” bellowed Bree, her voice bouncing ghoulishly around the bathroom walls. “Come’on do insee’pyder, please!”
“I’m being summoned,” I murmured against his lips.
“Go,” he whispered. “Heaven forbid ‘insee’pyder’ have to wait.”
“Oh,” I called when I was halfway back down the corridor, “I think the electric bill came today. It’s on the counter by the phone with the rest of today’s mail.”
“Thank you, mo ghraidh,” he called back.
Tub filled, baby inserted, bubbles abundant, I knelt beside the tub and swirled my hands in the warm water. Bree beamed up at me, ready: “GO! Insee’pyder, Mama!”
“Alright,” I said dramatically, reaching for the green plastic sandbox bucket and scooping up water as I sang: “Theeeeeeee ITS-Y-bit-sy spiiiiiider went UP the water spout ….”
I raised the bucket theatrically. “Down came the raaaaaain AND—”
The payload released on, “WASHED the spider out,” dousing Bree with warm, soapy water.
Fizzy giggles emerged through the waterfall pouring down her scrunched-up face as I sang on. “Out came the suuuun and dried up all the rain, and the ITS-Y-bit-sy spiiiiider went UP the spout—?”
“—AGAIN!!!” Bree finished, knowing the drill and LOVING it.
We had just finished washing the shampoo-spider from her hair and ANOTHER rendition was demanded, when Jamie’s voice came from the doorway. “Sassenach?”
“Yes, darling?” I said absently, reaching for the bar of soap Bree had just knocked into the water.
“What is the ‘selective service?’”
My blood froze absolutely cold. I whirled on my knees to gape at him, praying that it was a newspaper clipping in his hand, or one of his library books, or—
But it was a letter bearing the words ‘Department of Defense’ across the top. The truth was written on his face, the tightness of his voice, the rigid set of his jaw. “Tis the forced conscription for the war in the east, aye?”
“Jamie—” I staggered to my feet, praying in blind panic. Please, God, no. “Jamie—Please tell me—you haven’t been—?”
“To Mr. James Fraser,” he read,
“According to our records, you have not yet registered with the Selective Service, as is required of all permanent residents of the United States.
Please report no later than December 15th, 1950 to the enlistment station named below for registration, or risk revocation of your residency status with the Department of Immigration.
Jamie trailed off, his face a mask of control I hadn’t seen in many years. The sight terrified me to my core—his face of duty, of danger, of great burdens to be borne.
My hands were shaking as I reached for the letter, as I scanned it wildly for some salvation. “But you’re—you’re not even a citizen! They can’t just force you to go off and fight in their wars!”
“Apparently they can,” he said stiffly. “’All permanent residents,’ it says.”
“Jesus…” There was no way out. “Jesus—fucking—”
“FUN-KING!” Bree squeaked from the tub, sounding immensely pleased. Normally, that would have incited riotous laughter, then stern admonishment and promises between Jamie and I to guard our words more carefully. But we barely noticed.
My blood pounded so loudly in my ears I could barely hear myself blurting, “We could go to Canada."
He cocked his head in question. “They dinna fight wars there?”
I gave a jerking shrug. “They don’t usually start them, at least.”
“That’s the coward’s way,” he whispered, his face still stone. “I canna just run.”
“And why not?” I demanded, my voice treacherously close to both tears and shouting.
“Why can I no’ take the coward’s way?” The mask wavered, showing his scorn. “Christ, Claire, do ye no’ ken me at all?”
“And do YOU not know me?” I shouted. “Do you not have the faintest idea what it DID to me to—” It took only the cracking of my voice for the panic to overtake me completely in wracking sobs as my hands went feral. “ —to let you go to your death? For a cause you—shouldn’t even have been dragged into in the first place?? I w—” I choked. I was mere inches from his face, but I could barely see him through the tears. I wrenched a breath from my throat. “—WON’T, do it—again—do you—hearm—?”
Jamie suddenly snatched me hard against him, his voice a cracked moan of despair through his own sobs. “I know, mo chridhe…I know….”
I buried my face in his chest, and could only croak, “Jamie—”
He tried to say something, but couldn’t get a word out.
We clung to one another with every ounce of strength, swaying and weeping for a long time, until
“I’m scairt of this, Sassenach.”
His breath was hot and gasping in my hair. “God, I—dinna want any part of it…. The thought of leaving ye….the—” He let out a sob, and I could feel his tears against my temple, the resonance of his words in my chest. “—Christ, the bairns—”
He buried his face in my shoulder. “I’m so scairt, Claire.”
“What’s you scairt, Daddy?”
We turned to see Bree standing in the tub, still naked as you please, looking up, stricken.
With a small sound that broke my heart, Jamie released me and crossed to the tub. He lifted his daughter up into his arms and pressed her against his chest, not seeming to notice that his shirt was instantly soaked.
“Daddy? What’s you scairt?” she repeated.
I had to clamp my hand over my mouth.
He clutched her tighter, rocking her, focusing his entire being on love of her.
“Use-r words, Daddy.”
Despite everything, he choked out a laugh at that.
“I’m scairt,” he answered hoarsely after a moment, “of having to leave you and Mama, a chuisle.”
I came and wrapped my arms around them both, trying so very hard not to slip into panic. This—this was my home, these three people I held—That it might be ripped from—
He let out another weak, broken laugh and leaned down to kiss us both. I could feel his chest shuddering with the sobs he was suppressing.
The words were in Gaelic, breathtakingly quiet, and he repeated them over and over.
"I won’t…I won’t.”
When he drew back a long, long time later, his eyes were dry. “Now,” he said, kissing Bree and wrapping a towel around her shivering back, “let’s get ye ready for bed, wee cub. Which storybook shall we have, tonight?”
Jamie resolved never to let Claire or Brianna see his fear of this ever again.
“I’ll go tomorrow to register my name,” he said firmly to Claire as he held her in their bed that night, “but it willna come to anything, Sassenach.” There are millions of folk they’ll call up before me.”
“Dinna fash, mo nighean donn,” he crooned, kissing and soothing away her fears. “I’m staying right here—We’ll no’ be parted—I’m right here—”
But he lay awake far into the night and most nights to follow, praying with all his soul.
Dinna take me from them.
[more to come]
From the prompts:
@dlouise2016 said: This may not be appropriate for FMM but in response to your request for Jamie “firsts” & since he is only about 27-28, there was a military draft going on at the time for the Cold War & the Korean War. Since Jamie was certainly a warrior, he must have some strong feelings about war & Claire definitely would with her WWII experience
“That’s an interesting look.” Jyn Erso says this, cocked eyebrow, blue silk robe wrapped around her shoulders.
They were supposed to be doing separate shoots for separate products. And then the ad agency had sent over one of their representatives and suddenly he and Jyn Erso were roped into doing one together. A first.
“It’s not my idea,” Cassian says, running the floral print polyester fabric of his shirt through his fingers. “It’s the ‘concept.’ There’s a hat and sunglasses with this getup, too.”
“I was talking about the hair.”
Cassian rubs his beard. “What’s wrong with my hair? I’ve always had this.”
Jyn gestures lower to his exposed abdomen. “I mean that.” Her tone is airy, feigning disdain or carelessness, but Cassian doesn’t miss the way her eyes dart even further south. He should be used to it–he’s a model–his job most days is to be ogled, but something about her penetrating gaze makes him flush hot.
“I repeat,” Cassian says, trying to maintain his cool, “what is wrong with my hair?”
“I’m used to underwear models being a little more … groomed.”
“I’m used to lingerie models being a little … taller, too.”
Jyn crosses her arms over her chest; juts her chin out at him just so. It strikes him then just how distinctive, how lovely she is.
“Well,” she says, wryly, “don’t we make an interesting pair, then?”
“Greetings, Sans– so.” “This is your job, huh.” “Why do you have such a hard time with it?” “It’s pretty easy.” “Why didn’t you just reap me properly too?” “You’re so incompetent hahaha!”
So, in the First Reaping, Chara was not properly reaped and had thus managed to escape while being corrupted by Death’s (Sans’s) magic. Therefore, with their soul fused by the essence of darkness and Sans’s magic, they have an affinity with Death that allows them to wield Death’s scythe.
At some point, Chara would have grown strong enough to steal one of Sans’s scythes. They take it and reap mortals before their time, which would naturally brew chaos. Sans of course desperately tries to hunt them down in order to take it back, but he is unable to catch them. Eventually, after a mad period of Chara-induced chaos, Chara suddenly appears and drops the scythe by his feet as if it was worth nothing.
“Got bored. Killing people instantly is no fun at all. It’s much more fun… to see them live long enough to become corrupted. Don’t you think?”
And then they disappear with a child-like laugh, leaving Sans stunned and full of dread.
(Whether this was just a random act, simple curiosity, or part of a much greater plot, though, Sans doesn’t yet know. Chara was always so unpredictable.)