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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150. An Outsider

You expect your week off from work to be relaxing, save for keeping Frisk out of trouble. But, seemingly overnight, the entire attitude of the public towards you and the monsters shifts. News sites that used to be neutral, or even positive take a sudden swing towards the negative or downright nasty. They bring up the incident with Asriel at Halloween as evidence of the danger of monsters, newscasters use your relationship with Sans as the butt of inappropriate jokes. Though you're the more popular topic of conversation, Deacon isn't spared from the public eye either. 

He's labeled as a pervert in the same breath as you're accused of being brainwashed. More than one 'expert' is brought in to suggest Stockholm syndrome from your time in the Underground. You feel sick as you try to explain to Sans what it means.

Your interview with Gloria, that horrible woman from the conference, is finally aired. It's picked apart as evidence of your skewed outlook, your unwavering and misguided alliance with the monsters. One news station even brings Gloria herself onto their show and she's positively glowing from the attention. It turns your stomach to see her feeding so shamelessly off of your ridicule. She questions why you didn't allow Frisk to speak towards the end of your interview, as if you were afraid Frisk might reveal something. Finally, at the end of the segment, she fixes the camera with a sympathetic look, beseeching you personally to leave Ebott and seek some kind of help. Sans has to take the TV remote away from you before you throw it across the room.

More than one outraged show host (most of them women; why is it always the women?) demands to know where Frisk's father is. Why he hasn't stepped in to 'protect' his child, or take them away. You can't imagine Chris ever coming back into your life, but the thought of it worries you. If he and his parents suddenly decided that they wanted Frisk... You try not to think about it. Chris's parents wouldn't ever tarnish their reputation with a connection to you or their son's illegitimate child. Would they?

You do your best to keep the news from Frisk, but you know that as soon as school starts back up again that rumors will spread. The kids, even little ones, talk. Because they listen to their parents and regurgitate it to each other.

If you had work, at least you could distract yourself. You and Deacon spend most of the afternoons throughout the week together, keeping each other occupied while Sans and Bo are at work. You watch movies, or go for walks, anything to stop you from thinking about it all. There's one day, in the middle of the week, where you go over to his house and he's not home. When you text him he doesn't answer until almost an hour later. You ask him where he is and he tells you he was meeting Grant for lunch past the Line. Pressing him for more details, worrying that the stress of what's happening is making him more vulnerable to Grant's influence, yields little results. 'It's complicated,' he tells you again, and you trust him enough to drop it.

Asgore counsels patience, says that he's trying to get to the bottom of this sudden shift in behavior. But Captain Prasad is just as baffled as he is, and his connections to humans of influence are minimal. Toriel offers you comfort as best she can. Undyne calls you when she finds out and rants and raves with you until you feel a little better, and you wish you could take her up on her offer of 'beating up all those stupid fucks'. Mettaton tries to rally together some support for you and Deacon from his human employees, but their voices are too quiet to be heard over the din of hate. There's just too much of it.

The worst part, the part that cuts the deepest, are the petitions. Hundreds of people banding together to make their voices heard to have Frisk taken away from you. Claiming you're an unfit mother, that Child Protective Services should be investigating your home. You're not sure which is worse: people accusing you of being mentally ill or just a terrible person. 

You tell yourself they're just voices. People screaming into the darkness wanting to be heard but unable to act. They don't have any power over you or your life and it makes them angry. But they do have power. You can't stop thinking about them, their barbed insults and cutting words. The thinly veiled disgust on television or the outright revulsion online. Threats of action against you to 'protect' Frisk. Threats of a baser... more violent nature to 'teach you a lesson' for choosing to be with a monster.

You can't sleep.

Your mind keeps trying to make sense of all this, wanting to know why. Why you? Why the sudden surge of outrage against you and the monsters? If you knew why then maybe there is something you could do, something you could say to try and make things right again.

It's two in the morning and you're sitting at the dining room table with the laptop in front of you. Your knees are pulled up to your chest, tucked under your nightgown as you ball yourself tight and scroll through the comments on yet another news article. All the hate and disgust directed at you and anyone who tries to defend you gathers like bile in the back of your throat. But you can't stop reading. Can't stop trying to pick it apart to find some semblance of a cause. You cling to the few comments trying to stand against the overwhelming majority, calling the others out on their hatred. You silently thank these people for speaking out in your favor.

You resist the urge to get embroiled in this mess yourself. To listen to what everyone has been telling you: to stay out of it and just wait. 

It just hurts. How do these people think it's okay to be so hateful towards you? What have you ever done to any of them? All you've wanted to do is just be happy with your family. But without you the monsters never would have reached the surface. You defended that choice to Gloria. And now the people rallying against the monsters are trying to take their anger out on you; the person who in their eyes is the source of all this.

This is all your fault.

"babe," Sans says, startling you from the doorway. You hug yourself tighter, guilt knotting in your stomach. The moment you look over at him, pale in the darkness of the house, you feel the resonation of his Soul under your skin. It's a small comfort, but not enough to soothe you. "i didn't realize we were swapping roles. isn't this usually the other way around?"

You rest your chin on your knees, watching him as he closes the distance between you. The lights in his eyes are dim as he searches your face, illuminated by the glow of the computer screen. He looks worried about you. "I couldn't sleep," you say, your voice a tired mumble.

He runs his fingers through your hair, cupping the back of your head as he leans down to nuzzle your temple when you don't tip your face back to let him kiss you. It's comforting, but part of you doesn't want to be comforted. You want to be angry, to cry and rage against the injustice of it. But most of you feels guilty. And tired.

Reaching across you, he closes out the internet browser, leaving the desktop showing. It's a collage of photos you edited together of your family and friends. Everyone you care about, all there on display. Happy. For a moment you just stare at it in silence.

"you're just hurting yourself, reading that stuff," Sans says, grabbing the back of your chair and pushing so that you're mostly turned to face him. "why are you doing it?"

You bury your face in your knees, shaking your head.

Sans takes gentle hold of you, making you look up at him. Your eyes are blurry from a mix of sleepiness and unshed tears. "I want to know what they're saying about me."

"but why? it's not gonna help you," he says, and you think he's trying to keep the frustration out of his voice. "hope, just... don't. leave it alone, there's nothing you can do."

"They want to take Frisk away from me," you say, blinking back tears as he strokes your cheek with his thumb.

"and you already know they can't do that."

"They think I'm crazy." Your voice cracks and you look towards the computer, throat feeling tight.

"and you know they're wrong."

"How can you be so calm about this?" you demand, scowling up at him, digging your fingers into your arms as you keep them wrapped tight around your legs.

"because getting worked up over it isn't gonna help you. i know you want me to be angry, and babe—" He fixes you with a hard look, tense and restrained. "i am. you know i am. but that's not what you need from me."

"And what do I need?" you snap, eyes narrowing. You can taste the bitterness on your tongue.

Sans's expression softens as he smooths his hand down your hair. "that's fine, you can take it out on me," he says gently, and you feel something in your chest fracture. 

What are you doing? A weak sob escapes your throat and your expression crumples, tipping your head into Sans's touch. "I hate this," you blurt out, squeezing your eyes shut as tears spill over down your cheeks. "I want to go back to Snowdin. Where there's no reporters, or people who hate us. We were happy before."

"you don't mean that," he says, and there's an odd tremor in his voice as his grip on you tightens. 

"It was easier. Things weren't so complicated," you say, shaking your head. "No one tried to tell us our relationship was wrong. We didn't have to worry all the time about what the government might do to us! Sometimes I wonder if we made the right choice, leaving the Underground. If we could go back—"

"no," he says sharply, startling you. Your eyes snap open and his pupils are almost completely gone, his mouth a tight grimace. "nothing is worth going back. and don't you ever let frisk hear you say that."

You blanch, taken aback. "I didn't mean... Sans, even if I wanted to do it all over again —which I don't!— with what we think we know, a Reset would kill Frisk."

"maybe," Sans says, shaking his head and letting out a ragged sigh. He looks shaken, and guilt gnaws at your insides. "just don't... don't give frisk any ideas. the kid means well but their sense of self-preservation needs some work."

There's a pause where you're not sure what to say. You feel raw and hurt, Sans is withdrawn. He strokes your cheek again, clenching his jaw.

"come to bed with me. just... don't think about that stuff and be with me. that's the only way you can fight back," he says, an edge of desperation to his voice. "come on."

You reach up for him and he relaxes, helping you to your feet. He's right. What a better way to show the people that would tear you apart that they can't hurt you than by being happy in spite of them?

As the week progresses the number of reports and articles starts to slow. But the responses to them are still full of he same vitriol. The petitions are discussed on the news but are otherwise ignored. Things, while still hostile, are still sort of 'normal'. When you go back to work on Monday the 28th you're able to fall back into the same old routine.

Leveretta pulls you aside to check on you, asks you about Deacon. When you tell her that other than some hurt feelings you're both fine, she seems relieved. She wastes no time in reminding you that she's your friend, and she's on your side. That all of Ebott is on your side. It's nice to hear.

Besides, you're all in this together. While some of the more pointed outrage is directed towards you in particular, it's monsters and those associated with them who the people truly hate.

"How's Bo?" you ask Deacon, looking at him as the two of you share lunch in the break room. You're both picking out of a large container of leftover meatloaf from the night before, set between you. "Is she still mad?"

"I think she's angrier than I am," he says, shaking his head. "The whole Wolf family is. You should have seen them last night; they're furious. Which is just what they want."

"Just what who wants?" you ask, confused.

Deacon's eyebrows shoot up beneath his hair as he looks at you, chewing. After a moment he responds. "These people. What would look better for their cause than a bunch of angry monsters? Prove them right, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah, you're right," you say with a sigh of resignation. "I guess we just have to hope that they wear themselves out. Get tired of shitting all over us."

"Now that's a mental image," he teases and you can't help but laugh.

"Gross."

"Hey, you said it not me," he says, smirking.

"No way, you made it literal."

"Yes, well... it just figures that this stuff is happening right before my birthday," he says with an offhanded air as if he hadn't just dropped a surprise right in your lap.

"Your birthday?" you ask, setting down your fork.

He blinks. "Yes?"

"When's your birthday?"

"Saturday. The second," he says, still looking confused.

"And you never told me... why?" you press, reaching over and shoving his arm.

"Oh!" he says looking embarrassed. "This is... this is one of those things I forget people actually want to know."

"We're doing something for your birthday. Just so you know," you say, nodding to yourself. "I'll talk to Bo. I know she normally works Saturdays but maybe she can swap shifts..."

"You don't need to do anything," he protests weakly, color creeping up the sides of his neck. Despite his words, he looks pleased.

"Oh hush. As if I wasn't going to do something for my best friend's birthday. As if Bo wouldn't want to celebrate with her boyfriend!" You pick up your fork again, pointing at him before returning to your meal. "What's your favorite kind of cake?"

"I... uh..." He hesitates.

"Deacon, oh my god, if you say you've never had cake before—"

"I've had cake before!" he blurts out, laughing. "Jesus, we had cake at Papyrus's birthday. And Frisk's. You've seen me eat cake."

"Please tell me those aren't the only times you've had cake," you press, and to your relief he shakes his head. "Okay, good."

"But would this be a bad time to mention I've never had a birthday party?" he asks, looking amused by the shock on your face.

"Oh that's just sad," you say.

He chuckles. "Okay, that's kind of a lie," he admits. "Grant may be an asshole, but he wasn't that much of an asshole. I mean, nothing fancy, no big party or anything, but I got a nice store bought cake and a few gifts. It's not like he just pretended I didn't have a birthday."

"Well thank god for that," you say sarcastically, arching a brow. "We're doing something for your birthday. No ifs, ands, or buts."

Deacon raises his hands in surrender.

Deacon comes to meet you in your classroom at the end of the day, after Frisk heads off with Asriel to go home with him. The two of you made plans to hang out after work.

As you're debating the possibility of either going to the hotel to bother Bo, or head down to Lakeside to take a walk and enjoy the spring weather, you almost don't notice the man standing outside the school, in the parking lot. He's not looking at the doors, where you're coming from, instead glancing down at his phone.

He's tall, taller than you and Deacon, and broad-shouldered. His pants are black and baggy, almost big enough to completely cover his shoes, and a faded skull is silk screened on the front of his t-shirt, which he's wearing over a long-sleeved shirt. His face is concealed by long, straight brown hair. Something familiar stirs in your chest as you start to slow your steps, brow furrowing as you struggle with this feeling of recognition. Who—

He looks up, pushing his hair out of his face and at first the piercings in his ears and in his eyebrow throw you off. You don't recognize this broad face with the familiar nose and the unfamiliar dark scruff below his lip and along his jaw.

But he knows you.

"Hope?" he says, in a voice that's a little deeper than you remember. And you do remember now. That hesitant smile is hard to forget.

You freeze, torn between sudden fear (what is he doing here?) and an old, old affection for someone you never thought you'd speak to again. "...Chris?"

   
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