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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71. ACT Two: Preparations

"Y-you need to buy Hope a ring."

With a loud scrape of metal on metal, Sans misses the bolt he's trying to tighten. He looks over the two-foot wide metal pipe he's trying to fix onto one of the Core's turbines, narrowing his eye sockets. She doesn't even look at him, busy trying to sort through a rat's nest of wiring. Sweat dots her brow; the inner workings of the Core would be unbearably hot if they weren't a skeleton and a reptile.

"...what was that?" Sans asks, thinking for a moment that he must have misheard her. He slips the wrench into place, snug around the bolt as he turns it.

Alphys adjusts her glasses, sighing at the wires in her hands and glancing up at him for half a second before returning to her work. "You're engaged, right? Humans give r-rings when they propose," she says. "It's romantic! A t-tangible sign of your commitment and a signal to other humans that they're taken. Since they can't feel Souls the way we can."

He watches her pull a pair of wire-strippers out of the pocket of her lab coat and start snipping and reattaching. With one final turn of the wrench, Sans gives the pipe a shove and it holds fast. Hopefully they can get this extra turbine spinning again to help boost the energy to the surface. Mettaton has been complaining to Alphys about outages at his new hotel in Ebott's downtown, and normally Sans would just ignore him. But the overgrown calculator is right. The power has been a bit unstable as more and more buildings get hooked onto the grid. Trying to maintain power Underground for those monsters that chose to stay behind (or even moved back) as well as for their new city of Ebott on the surface is proving to be a bit more than the Core can handle. He and Alphys have been working on making improvements on the old design over the last few months to make it more efficient.

"she's never said anything about wanting a ring," Sans says, walking over to Alphys and setting the wrench into the toolbox beside her. She gives him another quick look but returns her attention to the snipped wires fanned out in her stubby fingers.

"Maybe she doesn't realize you don't know? Have you t-told her about monster weddings? Or how our proposals usually go?" She twists two ends of some wires between her fingers, fixing it together with some electrician tape.

"we haven't really talked about— alphys you're getting distracted. you're wrapping those wires all wrong," he grumbles, shifting closer but shoving his hands in the pockets of his lab coat to stop himself from reaching out and correcting her.

Alphys shoots him an annoyed look over her glasses. "I've been maintaining the Core for the past three years, I know what I'm doing," she sniffs. Then, realizing what she just said, she gives an awkward little cough and starts stripping another wire. "B-besides, now it just sounds like you're trying to change the subject."

"i'm trying to make sure you don't blow up half the core—"

"Were you always this d-dramatic? At worst the turbine just w-won't spin," she grumbles under her breath.

Sans catches himself before he says anything else, giving Alphys's handiwork another look. He feels himself falling into old habits with her, and it's... not good. He needs to get better at listening. "sorry. you're right, you've been doing this a lot longer than me. just cuz you're doing the wires different than me doesn't mean you're doing it wrong."

She gives him a surprised look, a pleased smile slowly easing its way onto her face. "It's n-nice to have you back. I'm glad you agreed when I asked."

Shrugging, Sans looks away, studying the blades of the turbine under the harsh lighting. The other turbines aren't too far away, filling the huge room with a steady whir of noise. But they've been at this for a few hours now, and the sound hardly registers to them anymore.

"it's important work, and you could use the help. would seem pretty rude of me to turn you down. and besides, it's not like i'm needed for sentry duty anymore," he says, rocking back on the heels of his thick-soled shoes. What he doesn't say is that it finally feels like working at the lab isn't pointless anymore. He wants to help. But he can't explain that to Alphys, not without telling her more that she needs to know. The others just wouldn't understand. "so how did you know that i proposed?"

Alphys lets out a little laugh. "You think that Hope never t-told me or Undyne in the four months since it happened? Sans you've been engaged longer than you ever dated," she says, smirking up at him from her seat on the floor. "We've been wondering when you guys were going to finally do s-something about it."

Sans clears his throat, trying to fight the pleased feeling rising to color his cheekbones. It doesn't really work. "it's, uh, sort of complicated," he says, and damn if that isn't an understatement. Not only had the proposal been on accident in the first place, but immediately after... well. Things hadn't gone very well. It was only when things started to get more permanent on the surface that he'd even dared to bring it up again. It seemed odd to try and ask you if you were still his fiancée when you were sharing a cot in a glorified tent. "did she tell you how it happened?"

She snickers. "Uh yeah, of course."

"well then you know i didn't exactly plan it out in advance," he says, sighing. "so we agreed to wait a little while to make things official. give us time to adjust to all this up here, together."

With a hum of approval, Alphys bobs her head up and down, smoothing a few frayed wires with her fingernails. "I-it has been a busy few months."

"besides, you know we can't get married right now. we aren't even allowed off the mountain yet, you think an interspecies marriage is gonna fly?" Sans grits his teeth, shaking his head.

"Maybe not yet but you know that Asgore is doing his best to make things better. These things don't happen overnight. The humans have been really a-accommodating, all things considered..." Sighing, Alphys tears a bit of tape between her teeth, her tail giving a nervous sweep across the floor. "It's not perfect, but... things could be worse."

"yeah, i guess. if you wanna get technical," he says, nudging her tail away from his foot.

His phone starts to buzz in his pocket, and he realizes that it must be getting close to dinnertime. It's easy to lose track of time in the Underground, now that he's grown more accustomed to the sun. Your picture fills the center of the screen, letting him know that you're calling. It's a new one, one from the surface. He dragged you out of bed early one morning to watch the sunrise with him on the balcony of your new home, looking out over the budding town of Ebott and the old, flourishing human cities in the foothills and beyond. Even further in the distance, out on the horizon, was the barest glimmer that you said was the ocean. In the picture you're leaning forward against the railing, your hair catching the light like it did that first morning on the surface. You're giving him a wry, embarrassed smile.

He answers the phone.

You smile when Sans picks up on the fourth ring. Sometimes he gets so caught up in his work at the Core that it takes a few calls for him to answer. Propping the phone up against your ear with your shoulder, you continue peeling a small pile of potatoes on the counter in front of you.

"hey babe. that time already?" he asks, as has become habit these past few weeks.

"Yep. Just getting started. Pap is on his way to pick you up," you say. Sans still hasn't bothered to learn how to drive, and hasn't shown any interest in getting his own car. But Papyrus loves the excuse to use his brand new, shiny red convertible and you suspect that's part of the reason Sans has been putting it off. With the Line still keeping all the monsters on the mountain, there's only so much driving any of them can do. "Don't forget, Tori and Asgore are coming over for dinner tonight."

"i remember. they wanted to talk about that conference coming up, right?" He sounds distracted, and you can hear Alphys muffled in the background. "yeah, night alphys. i'll see you tomorrow."

"No, you won't, because the conference is tomorrow," you tell him, sighing.

"sorry, no i won't. yeah. okay, later." There's a pause where you can hear the steady drone of the Core start to get quieter as he walks away from whatever machinery he was working on today. "hope, you still there?"

"Yeah, hun. I'm here." You carry handfuls of potato peels over to the trashcan, stepping on a little paddle to open the lid. Chef's knife in hand, you start chopping. "You have a good day?"

"yeah, the usual. we're trying to get one of the defunct turbines spinning again, been a little slow going. but it should give the power to the city a nice boost once we're done," he says, and you can practically hear the shrug in his voice.

"The lights flickered at the school like four times today. It's real distracting for the kids. They make such a big deal out of it. One of them let out this obnoxious screech when it happened and scared Asriel almost out of his skin. He made the most pathetic bleating sound, I felt so bad. Uh, anyway," you say, realizing that you're rambling a little. "I mean, I guess it's better than the blackouts we were having."

"i know. hey do you need us to stop at the store on the way home?"

"No, I don't think so." You hear a polite knock on the front door, and then the sound of it opening. "Oh, hun they're here, I've gotta go. I love you."

"love you too. see you in a bit."

You hang up your phone and slide it into the back pocket of your jeans, glancing over your shoulder as Toriel comes into the kitchen. She has a few bags clutched in her hands, along with a pie balanced carefully on the pads of her fingers. You hurry over to help her, plucking the dessert from her hand and putting it into the fridge.

"Oh, thank you my child. I am afraid I must be carrying more than I ought to," she says as you come back to her to take some of the bags and set them on the counter. It takes both arms to lift what she was able to carry with just one.

"Tori you know you don't have to bring all this food every time you and Asgore come over. You're always feeding us," you say, feeling a little embarrassed. You know she's just going to wave you away, but you feel obligated to tell her anyway.

"Nonsense. It is my pleasure," she says, giving you a warm smile. "Besides, you are always feeding Asriel as well, it is the least I can do to make it up to you."

And Frisk is always over at her place too, but she never lets you bring over any groceries to make up for it. You decide to just drop it for now. You've had so many different versions of this polite back and forth you know it's pointless. Sensing your silent acceptance, Toriel just gives you an approving, motherly look and gets to work putting everything away. She knows your spacious kitchen like the back of her hand, wasting no time. Working together, the counters are soon cleared up and you get back to preparing dinner. She busies herself with your kettle and collection of novelty teacups Asgore keeps giving you and your family.

"Where's Asgore?" you ask, glancing over at her to gauge her reaction. Things between them have still been a little strained, and some days are worse than others.

Her expression remains placid as she shifts to the side to reach where you keep the tea. "He is running late, finishing up preparations for the conference tomorrow," she says, sighing. A small furrow forms between her brows. "Some days I think that he is working himself too much. I understand that this event with the humans is very important, but we cannot have him spreading himself too thin. Our people rely on him too much."

"Have you talked to him about it? That you're worried about him?" She colors a little under her pristine white fur at that, giving you a chastising look. You look back down at what you're doing, avoiding her eyes. "I'm just saying that if he'd listen to anybody, it's you."

"I will not use his lingering affection for me against him," she says, and you can feel her frown.

You swallow. "I'm not saying manipulate him. I'm just saying that he respects you."

Toriel doesn't respond. She skirts around you to fetch the kettle before it starts to whistle, and pours water into two teacups. One for each of you. After a moment, she lets out a small sigh. "Perhaps, after the conference tomorrow, I will speak with him. It is only... there are so many things our people still need from the human government, my child." Her shoulders sag and you wish there was something you could do to help. Even though you know it's not your fault in the least, you feel an odd sense of responsibility for the behavior of your fellow humans. The monsters didn't quite realize just what they were getting themselves into by coming to the surface. She shakes her head, giving you a forced smile that doesn't reach her eyes. "Forgive me, I am only concerned about tomorrow. I fear it is weighing heavy on my mind."

You give her a small, comforting smile in return. "Trust me, you're not the only one. It's gonna be a big day for all of us. But the army is doing its best to protect us. They did all those background checks, Asgore said. And it's not like just anybody off the street is getting let over the Line."

"The surface was not nearly so... complicated the last time we were here," she says with a wry twist of her mouth. "But it is good that we are finally encouraging visitors. It will do us little good to remain hidden away. How is that any different than when we were in the Underground?"

You open your mouth to answer but she cuts you off with a soft laugh.

"Aside from the obvious. I know you were about to say something about the sun," she teases, her smile finally becoming more genuine.

You chuckle. "Absolutely not. I was gonna say something about the moon."

She shakes her head at you, giving you an affectionate look. It's nice, spending time with her like this. You and the others have fallen into this almost ordinary life together on the surface, and it's more than you could have expected months ago. This beautiful, brand new house that you share with Frisk, Sans, and Papyrus is more than big enough for all of you. The ceilings on the first floor are even vaulted to accommodate Toriel and Asgore's regular visits. Some days, the days when you don't see any of the soldiers or feel the constraints placed on your friends and family... it almost feels normal.

"It has been more difficult than I expected, I admit," Toriel says, giving her tea an absentminded stir. "But I would not give up any of this. Especially now that we have Asriel back. I never thought, even when he was a baby, that he would be able to grow up under the light of the sun."

You think she's going to start reminiscing, as she usually does when she gets that distant look in her eye. But after a brief moment of hesitation, she glances around the kitchen like something's missing. She cocks her head to the side, listening to the peaceful silence of the house, and that's when it dawns on you.

"Where are Asriel and Frisk?" she asks.

   
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