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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208. Adults and Children

After dropping the kids and Gaster off at the community center in Woodside, you head to school to meet Deacon. He’s still busy getting his classroom ready for next week, and with your work done helping Leveretta with hers, you don’t mind giving your best friend a hand.

He’s poised precariously on a student desk, one foot in the seat and the other on the desktop itself, smoothing a huge map up on the wall. Faint green light trails from his fingers as a tiny green disc floats beside him, upon which is resting a roll of tape. Resting his elbow against a corner of the map, the disc hovers closer and he picks up the tape, tearing off a bit.

You knock softly on the doorframe, smiling at him as he glances over his shoulder. You see his frown for a split second before it disappears, replaced with a bright, beaming grin as he spots you.

“That’s dangerous,” you say, pointing at the desk under his feet.

“Does this look level to you?” he asks, ignoring your warning. “I think it is.”

You scoot further into the room, centering yourself. Squinting for a second, you nod. “Looks fine. When did you get this one? It’s neat.”

“It’s more than neat.” Deacon dismisses the magic disc with a flick of his hand and tears off more tape to stick the map more securely, then shoves the roll in his jeans pocket. Smoothing his hand over the wide, glossy surface, he admires it for a second. From what you can tell, it’s a stylized map of Europe, but the borders are a lot different than normal and the countries— Well, it’s been a long time since the Ottoman Empire existed, you know that much. And with all the browns and the look of old parchment— “It’s Europe in 1800, but in Tolkien style. Just got it yesterday, and it’s awesome.”

“You’re such a nerd,” you say affectionately, laughing.

“Yep,” he says, lowering himself back down to the ground. “It’s part of my charm.”

“Is that how you won Bo over? Your unquenchable thirst for history and fantasy novels?” You cross the room, picking your way through rows of desks to follow him to a neat stack of posters waiting to be put up.

“You laugh now, but just you wait until I’m able to give her a grand tour of Italy,” he says, making a sweeping gesture towards the map. He sniffs, feigning offense. “And I don’t know if you’re invited anymore.”

Shoving his arm, his composure breaks and he laughs as you shoot him a dirty look. “Rude,” you say.

Deacon puts his arm around you, hugging you against his side. You relent and hug him back, trying to maintain your frown but failing. “Well, I don’t know when we’d be able to manage a trip to Europe anyway. So maybe by then you’ll be back in my good graces.”

You jab him in the ribs and he lets out an undignified noise as you extricate yourself from his grip. “So we’re putting up posters?”

“Ow. And yes.” He rubs his side, gesturing to the stack you’re both standing in front of. “It’s very exciting work.”

“Totally.”

There’s a pause, and when you glance over at Deacon there’s a small crease between his brows. He sighs and runs his hand through his hair, catching you looking at him.

“What’s got you so serious all of a sudden?” you ask, giving him a weak smile.

He grimaces, shaking his head and picking up a poster. You follow him as he crosses the room. Not looking at you, doing his best to busy himself with finding the right spot for it, you wait, quietly, until he finally heaves another sigh and glances at you, pressing against the wall with both hands. “I kinda wanted to talk to you. It’s, um…” Deacon looks away, grits his teeth, and looks back at you again. “Can I ask you something? Personal, probably not an easy question. You don’t have to answer if—”

“Of course you can,” you say, resting a hand on his arm. You search his face until he glances away again, fumbling for the tape in his pocket. With an easy familiarity you reach for it and pull it out, tearing off strips for him silently.

He takes them, then focuses on getting the poster in place as he speaks. “Did you… Um. Shit, did you ever… regret having Frisk? I mean, obviously you don’t now, but…” He trails off.

You know this isn’t about Frisk. It’s obvious. But it takes you a moment to think of how you want to answer the question, how best to frame it. Deacon shifts uncomfortably, and as he’s about to speak again, to backpedal, you clear your throat and he goes quiet. “There were moments where I thought things would be a lot easier if I hadn’t had them,” you say slowly, fidgeting with the roll in your hands. “Having a kid… not every moment is going to be great, Deacon. There were times that I… God, times I was furious with them. And times when they were just a baby where I sat there and looked at this helpless little person and thought… ‘I can’t do this. It’s too much.’ And I guess… I guess that’s part of why I let my mother take that from me, but it’s… Sorry, I guess I’m rambling, but the moments where I did wish that I could go back and do things differently… Those moments were short. I was unhappy and things were hard, and I knew better.

“Because one moment I’d be desperate and overwhelmed and angry, and I’d just wish I could be by myself again and have what little freedom I had before. And then… maybe after they fell asleep, or when they laughed, or when they did this smile, like they hadn’t just pushed me up against my limit. I’d look at them and none of that bad stuff mattered anymore. All I knew was that I’d do anything for them, and I loved them.”

You rub at your eyes, clearing your throat as you realize you’re on the brink of tears. Deacon is quiet, watching you, his expression unreadable.

“Sorry,” you mumble, shrugging your shoulders. “I guess that was a bit more than what you were asking.”

“No, it’s… okay,” he says quietly, staring at the poster. It’s absurd, really, to have a print of a painting of the founding fathers staring down at the two of you as you’re talking. “Frisk is really lucky. You’re a really great mom, Hope.”

“I learned what not to do,” you say simply, tearing off more bits of tape. He looks at you when he hears the ripping sound, taking the strips as you offer them. “I had a great example of what not to do… So, do you want to tell me what brought this up?”

He gives you a half-hearted smile. “Bo and I had a talk. It’s, um… I’m taking some time to think about how I feel about having a kid. Bo has made herself pretty clear about what she wants, and she’s doing her best not to put too much pressure on me about it… But I need to make up my mind. I mean, I’m thirty now, I don’t… I don’t want to have a kid when I’m pushing forty, you know? And we need… Bo needs to know what’s going to happen with our family. And I don’t blame her. So I just need to… figure it out. What I want.”

“And you’re afraid you’re going to regret it, if you have a baby,” you say, meeting his eyes.

Deacon nods. “It’s a big decision. I mean… I’m not trying to… don’t take this the wrong way, but it would almost be easier if she got pregnant on accident. She’d be happy and I’d… do what I needed to do. But making the conscious choice to… to do something that could ruin my life—! This would be all on me. I could have this kid that I resented and I’d have only myself to blame. And I just don’t want to be this bitter person because of it.”

“I understand where you’re coming from.” You lean against his arm, tipping your head to the side to rest on his shoulder. “It’s not easy. And there’s no right answer.”

“I don’t want my kid to go through what I went through. I never want them to feel like someone doesn’t want them,” he whispers, covering his eyes with his hand.

“Deacon. If I know you as well as I think I do, I know that you’d never do that,” you say, wrapping your arms around his middle. He lays his arm on top of yours, squeezing your hand. “And you have to remember that you’re not going to be doing this alone. Bo will be there right beside you, and you’ll support each other like you always have. And you’ve got me and Sans, and everyone. The fact that you’re worried about being a good parent? That’s the sign of one. You already care.”

Deacon turns in your hold, folding you up in a tight hug. He takes in a deep breath, holds it, and you feel it tickle your neck as he slowly exhales. His back is tense. “Okay,” he says.

“Okay?”

“Okay,” he says again, firmer this time. “Sorry, I don’t really have much else. I… I believe you? But there’s still a lot. To think about, and… I’ll keep all that in mind. I promise.”

“You can always talk to me,” you say, giving him a reassuring squeeze.

“I know. And as always I’ll abuse that privilege.”

“I love you. And I just want you to be happy, Deacon.”

“I love you too,” he says, kissing your temple before pulling back. His cheeks and ears are a little pink as he glances away, clearing his throat and looking pointedly at the poster. George Washington looks back at him with something close to a moody scowl. “I think it’s crooked.”

“It’s fine,” you say, and you humor him as he takes a step back and then pulls the poster down to try again.

Deacon fills the silence with talk about the lessons he has planned, which things he’s most looking forward to teaching this year’s batch of students (Frisk and Asriel included). You don’t try to steer things back to talk of kids, knowing that the conversation has run its course. You’re glad that this is finally happening, that Bo decided to talk to him about what’s been bothering her for months at this point. It’s hard for Deacon, and you hope you made it a little easier, but they couldn’t keep avoiding this forever.

You can only trust that you said the right things. That you were honest and it was what Deacon needed to hear.

Two posters and a history lesson later, your phone starts to ring. Wondering if maybe you lost track of time and that you need to pick up Frisk, you’re surprised to see not Frisk’s name on the caller ID, but Morwenna.

You answer the call. “Hello?”

“Hope, has Frisk called you at all?” she asks, skipping the pleasantries. She sounds worried, which is enough to immediately put you on the defensive.

“No, what’s going on? They’re supposed to be with you,” you say, looking at Deacon as he circles around to catch your eye. He’s frowning, setting down the poster in his hands as he leans in a little closer to try and overhear your conversation.

“Frisk and Asriel left while Gaster and I were… discussing how to handle their training,” she says, and you can hear the frustration in her voice. But it’s nothing compared to what you’re feeling right now. “I tried to call them but they’re not answering me.”

“Discussing or fighting?” you demand. Deacon touches your arm and you cover his hand with yours.

“We tried to look for them but we didn’t have any luck. I was hoping that maybe they’d called you to pick them up.”

“No, they didn’t— I’ll head back to the house. I’m going to call them and I’ll let you know. Just—” You squeeze your eyes shut, restraining the anger and worry forming a leaden ball in your chest. “Just bring Gaster home. Can you do that at least?”

Your tone is harsher than you’d like, despite your best effort, but if Morwenna takes any offense she’s smart enough not to show it. “Of course. Hope, I’m sorry—”

“I’m sure they’re fine,” you say, cutting her off. “They wander off all the time, and Ebott’s a safe place. I’ll call you back.”

“Alright,” she says, and you hang up.

“They left? Just walked out?” Deacon asks, giving you a bewildered look.

You nod, pulling up Frisk’s number and starting a call. It’s ringing. “I shouldn’t have taken Gaster with us. I knew those two don’t get along. It’s— Frisk! Sweetie, is everything okay?”

“Yeah, Mom, we’re fine,” Frisk says, and you sag with relief. They’re fine. You knew they would be, but… Hearing your child just up and vanished always reminds you of the worst times. Of the hundreds of timelines they ran away. Of the night the Barrier fell. “...Did Morwenna call you?”

“Yes, she did,” you say, forcing sternness into your tone. It doesn’t last long. “Were they fighting again?”

“Yeah,” they mumble. Then after a breath they speak in a rush. “Mom, it was just super uncomfortable, and Asriel and I wanted to leave, and they weren’t paying attention to us anyway—”

“It’s fine,” you say. “What are you doing now?”

“We’re, um, just headed to the park.”

“Do you need me to come get you?”

“Do you want us to come home?”

You hesitate. “No, I think I need to have a talk with Morwenna and Gaster… Do you still have some money for lunch?”

“Asriel, do you— Yeah, we’re fine.”

“Okay. Just stick together, let me know if you need me. Just be back home before dinner, alright?”

“Okay.”

“I love you, you’re not in trouble.”

Frisk laughs, sounding relieved. You honestly can’t blame them. “Love you too, Mom.”

They hang up and you pocket your phone, letting out a haggard sigh as you and Deacon look at one another.

“It’s always fun when the elderly act like children,” Deacon says.

You cover your mouth as a loud snort escapes you, breaking the tension. “They’re not elderly.”

“Do you want me to come with you?”

“No… I think I need to handle this myself.”

   
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