Would That Make You Happy?

Frisk is your child, the result of a teen pregnancy, but they've always been told that you're their older sister. In an effort to get away from your own abusive mother, the two of you end up falling into the Underground, where Sans is startled by this abrupt change in what had become a predictable pattern of events. Maybe your presence is what is needed to stop the endless cycle of Resets.

After many struggles, both internal and external, you and your found family reach the surface, only to face even more difficulties from the society you weren't sure you'd ever see again. You meet new friends and encounter people from your past, though for good or ill, you're not sure. Sometimes it's difficult to tell kindness from cunning.

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205. A Lot To Think About

Deacon is running late. He was supposed to be at the Woodside community center a half hour ago, but he's only now pulling into the mostly-empty parking lot. A handful of familiar cars are huddled together near the front door. There's Grant's silver sedan, Morwenna's bright red Jeep, Vanessa's little black electric compact, and Howard's big white SUV. They all try to meet about once a month, just to catch up and share any important news, and here he is running late like an asshole. He'd even missed the one last month! But getting his classroom ready for school to start had taken a lot more time than he'd thought.

He ought to know this stuff by now. It's his fourth year in that room and he's long-since settled in. But he'd just lost track of time. Oh well, nothing he can do about that now.

Sylvie rumbles her way into the spot next to Howard's car. It's been two weeks now since they got back from their road trip and she'd handled it like a dream. Granted, she'd just been to the shop in preparation and has been fixed up quite a bit over the past few years, so that was only to be expected. Her engine is all but replaced at this point, and though she still hasn't gotten those rust spots fixed or a new coat of paint, Sylvie is in better running condition than she'd been since before he owned her.

He can't imagine ever giving her up for something like the hulking box of an SUV staring him right in the face, the vehicle of choice of the only parent of the original Literatum. That thing has seen countless days of sports practices, family trips, food spills, rides to school... It just screams, 'I have kids and all I do is drive them places!' Sylvie doesn't even have seatbelts in the back seat. How could he ever get a child in there? She's the car of a broke college kid in desperate need of anything that could get him to and from class, to give him that first little taste of independence from Grant. She's not the car for a family.

Shaking his head, Deacon shoves the unwanted thoughts away, refusing to dwell on that nonsense right now. His family is him and Bo, and Sylvie is perfect for just the two of them. With that thought in mind, he slams the door shut behind him and heads for the front of the community center at a hurried pace.

A soft chime announces his entrance through the automatic door, and as he passes the front desk he sees Oliver, the receptionist, talking with a blonde young woman. Deacon recognizes her. Valerie Bowman moved to Woodside about a year ago, one of the many transplants from other parts of the country (he can’t remember where, exactly). She’s pretty and she carries herself like someone who knows it. Oliver seems to know it too, judging by the way he’s looking up at her from his desk. It takes him a second to even notice Deacon enter and when he does his elbow slips off the edge where he was resting it and he has to catch himself before he falls out of his chair.

“Mr. Stuart! Uh, the others are—”

“Waiting for me, yeah,” Deacon answers, giving Oliver a rigid smile without stopping. “Thanks.”

Valerie turns to look at him, brushing hair out of her face as she catches his eye. It’s not subtle, the way she’s looking at him. Years ago he might even have been interested in seeing just where that rabbit hole might lead, though if he’s being honest Oliver is more his type. But even if he weren’t married, they’re both just… too young.

When did people in their early twenties start seeming young to him? God, he’s getting old.

“Deacon, did you have some time to talk after your little meeting?” Valerie asks him, batting her eyes.

He does his best not to sound annoyed when he shakes his head as he passes her. “Sorry Valerie. My wife and I have some plans for dinner and I can’t be late for that too,” he says, not quite lying, but hoping she’ll take the hint.

“Maybe some other time then,” she says, unperturbed.

Not bothering to answer, Deacon slips down a side hallway leading to where he knows the others are. His phone vibrates in his pocket and he ignores what must be a text message, certain that it’s one of them checking on where he is. There’s no point in replying because he’s just a few feet from the door, reaching out for the handle and rushing inside.

“Sorry, sorry, I know I’m late. I hope you guys didn’t do anything fun without me,” he says while he’s moving inside, before he even takes a moment to look at the room.

There’s no immediate answer as they all turn to look at him, scattered throughout the small lounge, holding brightly colored paper plates and eating cake. Something like guilt crosses over most of their faces. Fatima and Rashid (who must have come with Morwenna) share a glance and look away, Grant rolls his eyes and keeps eating, Howard cringes and takes a few steps towards him as Deacon freezes in the doorway. That’s when he notices the streamers and balloons, the cheesy party-store banner taped to the wall with ‘Happy Birthday!’ written in big, puffy, rainbow letters.

“Hey man, we weren’t sure if you were coming or not,” Howard says to him, looking uncomfortable. “I tried to text you.”

“I think I just got it,” Deacon mutters, covering his eyes with one hand and groaning. “Goddamn it, I completely forgot—”

“It’s fine, you were out of town—”

“—it’s your birthday. I didn’t even—”

“Deacon,” Howard says firmly, clapping a hand on his shoulder and shaking him gently. “Chill. It’s no big deal.”

Still feeling very much like a jackass, Deacon lets out a ragged breath and lowers his hand, giving Howard an apologetic smile. He grips his shoulder, mirroring Howard’s hold on him, and gives him a squeeze. “Happy birthday, Howard. You’re forty now, how does it feel to be over the hill?”

“That’s not what’s making me feel old, it’s the fact that both the girls are going to be in high school this year,” he breathes, sagging a little and looking suddenly overwhelmed at the prospect.

“Shit, I remember when Theresa was still pregnant with Sophie,” Deacon says, feeling a bit daunted himself. “And now Evelyn is going to be a freshman…”

Howard gives him a stiff, commiserating pat. “You realize that you were Evie’s age when I first met you.”

“Shut the hell up,” he blurts out, grimacing. “Oh, and what a way to meet. You show up and I almost kill myself. Great times.”

Howard’s expression sobers, letting him go. “You know I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been keeping an eye on the girls…”

“But they’re not… are they?”

He shakes his head. “No. No magic,” he says, shrugging. In an undertone he adds, “I’m not sure if I should be glad or not.”

Deacon just blinks. He’d never give his magic up, no matter how much trouble it had caused him over the years. It was a part of him, it made him special, and the idea that Howard wouldn’t want his daughters to be a part of that… Well, at least if he had a child with Bo he knows they’d be magical. They’d be a monster, after all.

Howard must see his confusion because he lets out an awkward laugh. “That’s probably the parental protectiveness talking,” he admits. “I’m sure you’ll understand someday.”

That makes Deacon bristle, though he keeps it to himself. What is it about parents that just makes them assume everyone else wants to join that club?

“C’mon, let’s get you some cake,” Howard says, taking his arm and steering him towards the table.

Deacon pointedly ignores Grant as he passes him, and gives Morwenna a small smile of acknowledgement. The twins are on her other side, huddled around the chips and dip on the far corner of the table, but Fatima gives him a quick wave before returning her attention to her phone. That’s strange, normally she’s more friendly with him than that…

He doesn’t have time to dwell on that as Maria steps into his view, giving him a chastising look. “About time you showed up,” she says to him, crossing her arms over his chest. She has to look up at him, but she might as well be looking down.

“What she means to say,” Vanessa says smoothly, sliding up alongside her girlfriend and circling her shoulders with both arms. Maria’s eyes dart towards her and the momentary distraction seems to gutter out most of her heat. “Is that we were worried about you. It’s not like you to be late. We thought maybe something happened to Sylvie.”

“No way, this was just me losing track of time,” he says, glancing between the two of them as he holds up his hands in mock surrender. “Entirely my fault, Sylvie is doing great. The road trip was wonderful.”

“I’m still shocked you take that rust bucket out like that,” Maria says, rolling her eyes. “You can afford to get a decent car you know.”

He claps a hand to his chest, shoving down his building irritation and covering it with mock offense. “Who needs a decent car when I’ve got a greatcar. How’s that glorified go-kart holding up? The battery lasts what, two hours?”

They bicker about cars for a little while as Howard shoves a plate into his hands and he idly eats his slice of birthday cake. Eventually, after defending her vehicle of choice (“We hardly leave Ebott and from end-to-end is only a forty minute drive! And the battery lasts, four hours, thank you.”), Vanessa steers the conversation towards more friendly conversation. Namely work.

Vanessa and Maria have both been working for Asgore, with Vanessa’s purple magic and both of their office experience coming in handy. They mostly work downtown, though on occasion they’ve had to travel with the king to meet with government officials. Vanessa’s ability to read thoughts and intentions is particularly handy in dealing with politicians. But even with her help, she is annoyed to report that she and Asgore still haven’t had any headway with getting the travel restrictions lifted for monsters. She can’t even say with any optimism that they might make any progress in the near future.

It’s frustrating and disheartening, but not at all surprising. That doesn’t mean he’s looking forward to telling Bo the news, either.

As that conversation starts to sour Deacon excuses himself to go pick at the vegetable plate that’s been left mostly untouched (except for the cherry tomatoes, why did those always end up disappearing?). It’s as everyone is milling around him, enjoying their small talk, that he thinks to check his phone.

Taking a moment to pull it out of his pocket, he sees the text from Howard, but there’s also one more, from Bo. He pulls it open, curious.

‘I’ll be home for dinner, finally got some help picking up those extra shifts. Things getting back to normal. See you when you get home. <3’

Deacon smiles and pockets his phone. ‘Normal’. Normal is good. He could use a good dose of normal after all the strangeness of the past two weeks with Gaster and learning about the Anathema and…

The sobering thought makes him take another glance around the room, at everyone just at ease and celebrating Howard’s birthday. These aren’t the faces of people who knew about any of that. He’d thought that maybe Morwenna would use this meeting to fill everyone in, but he supposes he was wrong.

He’s not sure how he feels about having yet another secret from the rest of the Literatum.

Bo is waiting for him when he gets home. She’s sitting on the couch in front of the TV, slurping lo mein noodles out of a takeout container with a pair of chopsticks. The plastic and paper bag combo is sitting on the coffee table, with another set of chopsticks waiting for him. Bo’s face crinkles into a smile at the sight of him, and that tension that had been building in his chest all day finally seems to relax.

She’s perfect, and the swell of love that fills him as he hears and feels her Soul call out for his leaves him momentarily speechless as he just takes her in. Something about the ratty sweatpants that used to be his (until she commandeered them), the soft glow of the television in the mostly-dark room, the smell of cheap Chinese food… it just makes her all the more beautiful, and feels like home.

Dumping the contents of his pockets on the table by the door and kicking off his shoes, he goes to the couch. Instead of sitting next to her, he kneels on the ground in front of her and wraps his arms around her middle. He listens to her soft sigh, setting down her food and hugging his shoulders. One hand drifts up and down his back as he closes his eyes and relaxes into her hold.

“Baby, is everything okay?” she asks him, fingers combing through the back of his hair.

I just wanted you to hold me, he thinks but is too embarrassed to say. “Yeah. You just looked so comfy, I wanted to hug you.”

Bo laughs, kissing the top of his head. “Well, whenever you’re done there’s some beef and broccoli waiting for you. And I saved you some dumplings.”

“You’re the best wife.”

“I ordered crab rangoons but I ate them all.”

“I still love you.”

“Well I’m glad our marriage is stronger than rangoons.”

“I mean, not by much, but—”

With an indignant sound, Bo gives a half-hearted yank on a bit of hair, then quickly dissolves into laughter.

“I love you more than Chinese food,” Deacon says, leaning back enough so he can meet her eyes but not letting her go.

She cups his cheek, a warm, affectionate smile spreading across her face. Leaning down, she kisses him, pulling away at the last moment before he can pull her closer and deepen it. When Bo looks at him again there’s something hesitant in her expression, something nervous. But most of all there’s so much love there, right on the surface. He can see it and he can feel it, through the warm, rich tone of her Soul.

“Deacon…” she says, searching his face. “I want us to have a baby.”

All that warmth and contentment seems to fall out of the bottom of his stomach, too quick and too sudden for him to try and disguise it. Bo can tell, of course she can, and her body tenses when he leans back to sit on his heels. She grabs his hands as he tries to pull them away, holding them against her thighs.

“Bo,” he says weakly, but trails off as he’s not sure of what to say. It’s hard to look at the disappointment on her face, the way she’s trying to hide it from him but can’t quite manage.

“Okay,” she whispers, looking down at their hands. “That’s not… that’s not how I wanted to bring this up. But we’ve been dancing around this for months, and I don’t know if you’ve been humoring me with ‘maybe’s or what, but—”

Deacon winces. “No, Bo, I—”

“I just want to know if it’s going to happen,” she blurts out, pleading with him with those big blue eyes, looking up through her lashes. “I didn’t marry you because I wanted to have children with you. I didn’t even know it was possible for us when I fell in love with you. But I did know, when we got married, that there was every chance you wouldn’t want children. This isn’t an ultimatum, I’m not going anywhere. I will never leave you.” She lets go of one of his hands to hold the side of his face, to make sure that he’s looking at her. Her touch is gentle but firm. “I just want to know. I want to know what to count on our lives being like. Because right now, I just… I just feel like I’m stuck waiting on a maybe.”

Deacon is still scared out of his mind, caught like a deer in the headlights and wanting very much to not be talking about this, but. But. Hearing that no matter his choice, she’ll still be here, she’ll still love him… That gives him more comfort than it probably should. Shouldn’t he have known that already? Had he really expected that she would do that to him? A small part of him is ashamed to admit that, yes, he had expected that. He thought that if he didn’t give in to what she wanted that she would leave. But that’s the old Deacon’s way of thinking, and he’s been trying hard for years to move on from that compulsive need to appease the people in his life. That he was allowed to put himself first.

But this isn’t about putting himself first. He needs to think about what is best for both of them. This is something that would affect the rest of their lives, and Bo… Bo had always wanted to be a mother. Could he bear taking that opportunity away from her? An opportunity that by all rights they were fucking lucky to have in the first place?

“Deacon,” she says quietly, her expression turning sad. “Baby, talk to me.”

He shakes his head, looking down at her legs, opening and closing his mouth as he fights for the words to say. “I just… Bo, I…” With a pained sound, he presses his forehead to her knees, turning the hand still in her grasp so he can squeeze her fingers. Anxious, overwhelmed and frightened tears sting the corners of his eyes. “I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.”

There’s a long moment of silence that sits like an iron weight in his gut, where he wishes she would say something. After a little while he feels her free hand in his hair, and he tips his head towards her touch. “Can you think about it, please?” she says, voice soft enough to almost be a whisper. “Or talk to me? Or anyone, just… I can’t know what you’re worried about if you don’t tell me.”

He lets out a humorless laugh, muffled by her legs as he refuses to move. “I’m scared that I’m going to agree to this, and that I’m going to end up regretting it. That I won’t be able to cope with how much it’s going to change our lives, how it’s going to change us. And I’m a selfish asshole who doesn’t want to share you, not even with our own kid. I don’t think I’m ready, Bo.”

“No one is ever really ready,” she says gently. “Ask Undyne and Alphys, or Hope, or—”

“I don’t think Hope counts,” he mutters, and Bo huffs a tiny chuckle. He hesitates, and in a tiny voice he says, “What if I fuck it up? What if… What if that part of my parents that made them run makes me want to run too? What if—”

Bo cuts him off with a shushing sound, her hold on him tightening, and he realizes that he’s shaking. “You’d never do that. Deacon, you’re a good man, and if you choose to you’ll be an amazing father. I know you will.”

“I wish I had your confidence,” he says bitterly. “I just don’t want you to resent me if I say no.”

Bo hesitates, letting out a long, slow breath. “I won’t say that I won’t be disappointed. But Deacon, I don’t want you to agree just for me. I want you to want this too. You are more important to me than any child we might have. Because if we do have a baby, they’re not going to be with us forever. One day they’re going to move out and all we’ll have left is each other. I chose you, and I’ll keep choosing you.”

Deacon pushes back up to his knees, wrapping her in a tight embrace and pulling her close. He takes in a deep breath to steady himself, to get his bearings and try to stop shaking. Even after a long day, she still smells faintly of vanilla and strawberries, and it’s enough to make his heart give a lurch in his chest. “I love you,” he manages to say. “I’m sorry I keep making you wait for me.”

“I love you too. And you should know by now that I’ll always wait. Just think about it, and let me know what you decide.”

   
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