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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207. Anywhere Else

“maybe i can just pretend to be sick.”

Sans has his forehead cradled in his hand, not even bothering to look at you as you strip out of your pajamas to get ready to shower. That’s a clear enough sign that he’s at least halfway serious about this. He’s nothing if not enthusiastic in his appreciation for your body.

Balling up your clothes and tossing them into the hamper, you cross the cool tile floor to where he’s standing, leaning up against the counter. That gets his attention. You reach for his arms, catching your fingers on the space between his radius and ulna and rubbing up and down. He grimaces, the tight, sharp points of his pupils meeting your eyes before falling away with a ragged sigh.

“Alphys needs you at the lab,” you say gently, pressing in close against him, his bones warm against bare skin.

His arms slide around your waist, pulling you closer. One hand strays to the curve of your backside, which makes you wonder if he’s actually as frustrated as he looks. No, he probably is. The way he’s touching you is less out of passion and more out of comfort, of familiarity. He’s called you his touchstone before, and that’s what you are in this moment. He hugs you to him, fitting against him the way you always do, and some of the tension leaves his face.

“if anything it’ll be better for her if i’m not there,” he grumbles, meeting your eyes again. You lean down to kiss between his eyes and he nuzzles against you, making a noise that’s somehow a blend of annoyance and affection at the same time. “half the day is spent on trying to avoid gaster’s half-baked attempts at getting some kind of reaction out of me, and the other half is cleaning up whatever messes those attempts leave behind. if i’m not there then maybe those two can get some actual fucking work done.”

“It’s not really that bad,” you say, though part of you isn’t so sure. Maybe it is.

But Sans is breathing a sigh of concession, tipping his head to the side. “ok, fine. maybe like a quarter of the day is me actually doing something productive.”

“If you want, I can try to ask him to stay home with me,” you offer, a little half-hearted. “Maybe he can take a look at the machine, he’s been asking—”

Sans stiffens, just slightly. Barely enough for you to notice. “no. i still don’t want him in there, not without me,” he says, and there’s enough seriousness in his voice to leave you nodding in agreement. He relaxes. “as much as i’d like to avoid the problem… i know that shoving him off on you for the day isn’t gonna help. but i appreciate the offer, babe.”

“Well, if you change your mind, let me know,” you say, kissing him again, closer to his mouth this time. “I can come up with some excuse to keep him here. Between Frisk and I, I’m sure we can keep him busy.”

With a noncommittal sound deep in his chest, Sans shrugs his shoulders. “speaking of frisk. don’t they have magic class with morwenna today?”

“Oh, yeah, they do.” You pull away, ignoring Sans’s soft noise of protest as you glance at the shower. The big glass stall is starting to steam up, letting you know it’s hot. Your husband follows you as you climb inside. “Though I’m starting to wonder if it’s a waste of time. And Frisk’s just seemed more and more frustrated since they started. I don’t like seeing them like that.”

Sans keeps away from the spray, letting you hog the water as you soak your hair and rinse off. He doesn’t really need to shower, he just likes keeping you company. The feel of his hand on your hip while your back is turned catches you off-guard, but you stop yourself from jumping as he gives you a small squeeze. “i know, babe. i don’t like seeing them like that either. but morwenna seems confident she can get their magic working properly. they did it once already.”

“And they’ve spent the last month trying to replicate that one time,” you sigh, squeezing your eyes shut and rubbing your face. “They’re not happy. And soon they’re going to have school on top of it.”

“...do you want me to talk to them? see if they wanna stop going?”

You groan. “Do you honestly think they’re going to give up? When has Frisk given up on anything? Ever?”

Sans chuckles, and as you swipe the water away from your eyes you turn enough so you can give him a wry look. He’s just smiling at you. “you gotta point there,” he admits, and you roll your eyes.

“I guess we should just be glad that after the insanity of your father just popping in from another dimension, all we have to worry about is him trying to startle you into remembering him and Frisk still having trouble with their magic.”

“he’s getting really annoying, though,” Sans says, with an absurd enough level of gravitas that you can’t help but laugh.

“Well, after what happened with Morwenna before, I can’t imagine I’d be able to tempt him away from the lab by having to take Frisk to her.”

An hour later, when Gaster insists on joining you and bringing along Asriel as well, you realize just how wrong you were.

Morwenna isn’t thrilled with these new additions to their routine, Frisk can tell. She’s not very good at concealing the immediate look of frustration as her eyes dart from Gaster to Asriel, then finally to Frisk, not that Gaster seems to notice. But he doesn’t seem to notice a lot of things about the way people react to him, so they’re not surprised.

It doesn’t stop Frisk from wanting to crawl into a hole and just forget that this is even happening.

“Good morning,” she says in a clipped tone. “This is certainly… different.”

Gaster smiles, folding his hands in front of him. “Good morning! I was thinking that perhaps something ‘different’ might just be what Frisk needs. If you don’t mind the intrusion.”

Morwenna looks very much like she does mind. “Well, I suppose that’s for Frisk to decide,” she says, looking at them pointedly. “What would you like?”

Feeling rather put on the spot, Frisk’s eyebrows shoot up beneath their bangs as they look from Morwenna, over to Gaster’s self-satisfied expression, and finally to Asriel. He’s standing next to them, away from Gaster, fidgeting with his ear and giving Frisk a look that says, ‘Don’t ask me, I just got dragged along for this.’ But they know that they want him here, and in order to make that happen…

“I want them to stay,” Frisk says, their eyes still on Asriel. He smiles and glances away, but they can feel that flutter of happiness that hums through their linked Souls, just strong enough for them to sense. They turn to Morwenna. Her expression is unchanged, but they can’t help but feel like they’re disappointing her when they say, “I don’t know if what we’ve been doing is doing any good… And, uh, it wouldn’t hurt to try something else?”

“Trying something else is what put you and Asriel both in an extremely dangerous situation,” she says, fixing them with a stern look. Guilt and frustration rise up in equal measure but they tamp the feelings down, keeping their mouth shut. But she relents, resting her hands on her hips with a sigh. “But. I’d rather you feel like you’re allowed to explore other avenues to see what works with experienced, adult supervision rather than on your own. Again.”

Frisk and Asriel glance at each other, heads hanging but also glad. Glad that she’s willing to work with them. Gaster claps his hands together, looking pleased.

“Excellent! Well, shall we get started?”

“Go ahead,” Morwenna says, gesturing with one hand. “I’m curious to see what you have in mind that’s so different from what I’ve already been doing.”

That sweeps away whatever relief Frisk had been feeling, cringing at the discomfort now filling the room. But, of course, Gaster doesn’t notice. He turns to Asriel, stepping forward a beckoning him to follow. Asriel, uncertain, looks from Gaster, to Frisk, and back to him again. Then, with a nudge from Frisk, he walks up to him, a wary look on his face. Morwenna crosses her arms over her chest and just watches, unimpressed and impatient.

“Now, Asriel, I think that you are the key to this mystery of Frisk’s magic,” he says, gesturing to the two of them. “Your Souls are connected, and for humans, that is the source of their magic. We monsters” —he does a sweeping motion over his body with one hand— “are magic given form. It isus. And they” —he gives a flick of his wrist towards Morwenna before tapping the center of his chest— “draw it from here. But the two of you are different. Unique. Asriel, is using your magic any different than how it was before you came back?”

Asriel’s brow furrows, not in frustration but in thought. A hand raises unconsciously to his chest. “I didn’t get to use it much, before, but… No? No, it’s still the same.”

“So your magic doesn’t come from your human Soul. It still comes from every bit of you.”

He nods.

“Excellent,” Gaster says, looking satisfied. He turns to Frisk, waving them over. Curious, they go to stand beside Asriel. “Now, Frisk, you’ve been trying to use magic like a human. Like an ordinary mage. Instead, I want you to use it like a monster. Focus on your connection to Asriel’s Soul, and Asriel, if you could oblige me in using your magic for a moment?”

Hesitating, Asriel raises his hands. But nothing happens. “...What do you want me to do?”

“Anything. A few fireballs should suffice.”

As Asriel does as he’s asked, Frisk tries to focus. They close their eyes. He’s close enough that they can feel the heat of the fire across their skin, light and shadow dancing beneath their eyelids as the flames move beside them. But they don’t feel… anything like magic. They feel his curiosity and his uncertainty and that little bit of hope that this will help. But they don’t feel the thrill of magic, that power, his control of it. All they can feel is Asriel.

Then the heat is gone, and when Frisk opens their eyes Gaster is watching them expectantly. “Well? What did you feel?”

Frisk thinks about lying. Of telling Gaster what they think he wants to hear. “Nothing,” they admit, looking at the ground. “Just the normal stuff.”

“Exactly!” Gaster says, loudly and suddenly enough to make them jump. “For us it’s an instinct, a part of who we are—”

“Frisk isn’t a monster,” Morwenna interrupts, circling around him to stand at their side. “Frisk is a mage. And for mages, it requires practice and discipline, not instinct.”

“Frisk is neither,” he says, brow furrowing. “Or both. And insisting on only treating them as a mage is doing you both a disservice.”

“So instead of offering them any guidance, you’re just telling them to just do it, because it should be instinct? How is that helping them?” she demands, giving him an incredulous look.

“Morwenna,” Gaster says carefully. He looks annoyed, but his voice is even. “Perhaps you can let us try this method before your pessimism rubs off on the children?”

“I—”

“Let me just try it,” Frisk blurts out, silencing the room as Morwenna opens her mouth to argue. She catches herself, cheeks ruddy with irritation as she casts Gaster a nasty look.

He ignores her, focusing on Frisk with eager anticipation. “Good. Now, try not to force it. Instead of trying to grasp your magic, embrace it. Let it become just another part of you.”

Frisk has no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but they try anyway. They take a deep breath, and try to, well, not do anything. That bright, hard point of magic deep in their chest sits there, inert, and Frisk just… tries not to think about it. Which doesn’t work.

They can feel Asriel’s nerves buzzing under their skin, against their ribs. They try to silently reassure him, but they can barely reassure themselves. It’s distracting, and nothing is happening, and as the frustration wells up deep in the pit of their stomach—

“Try to remember how Asriel felt. How natural and normal it was for him,” Gaster says, shattering their concentration on trying not to concentrate. What are they even doing? “Try to replicate that.”

“I am,” they grumble, closing their eyes.

But they’re not Asriel. Magic for him is like breathing. Magic for them is like… drowning. Like fighting for the surface and trying to tread water. But all they can manage is huge, desperate gulps; Loading with huge expenditures of magic instead of normal, even breaths.

“It’s not working,” Frisk blurts out, pushing their hair out of their face as they shake their head, opening their eyes to stare at the floor. They feel Asriel’s hand on their shoulder, but for the moment it feels like a burden. His success feels like their failure.

“This was only your first try,” Gaster says, unperturbed. “Take a moment, and we can try again.”

“This is a waste of time,” Morwenna says, turning towards Frisk. The look she gives them isn’t angry, but apologetic. “We can try some other things now that Asriel is here, maybe I was wrong to exclude him, but—”

“Before you dismiss my theory so casually,” Gaster says, spreading his hands, “I would like to have a bit more time to disprove my idea. As a man of science, repetition is crucial to a good experiment—”

“Frisk isn’t an experiment,” she blurts out, whirling around to face him.

“This whole ordeal is an experiment. We have no idea what will work. Morwenna, you’re a brilliant woman, but—”

“You—!” She catches herself, balling one hand into a fist. “Come here. I need to talk to you.”

“We’re already talking,” Gaster says, confused as he watches her storm past him. After a moment he follows after her, over to the other side of the room.

This is unbearable. Frisk turns their back to them, facing the door, letting out a ragged sigh and squeezing their eyes shut. Why is this so hard? Why is everything so hard?! Training was already going to be bad, but Gaster being here just made it worse, and… Why did he even need to be here anyway? If he wanted to try something different so bad, why did it have to be in front of Morwenna?

They don’t even realize their fingers are clenched into a tight ball until they feel Asriel try to ease them apart. When they open their eyes to look at him, startled, he’s there at their side, hovering close, searching their face with two big green eyes and doing his damndest to hold their hand. After a second they let him, threading their fingers together.

“I’m sorry,” Asriel says quietly, and now that they’re looking at him, loosening the tight hold they had on their Soul, they can feel his regret.

“For what?” they mutter, rubbing their face with the back of their free hand.

He shrugs. “Everything. This sucks.”

Their mouth twitches, almost into a smile. “Tell me about it.”

There’s a pause where Frisk can almost make out what Gaster and Morwenna are saying to each other, but whatever it is it doesn’t sound very good. They catch ‘insufferable’ and ‘arrogant’ from Morwenna and ‘stubborn’ and ‘close-minded’ from Gaster. Cringing, they look at each other.

“We should get out of here,” Asriel says, tugging on their hand.

There’s a moment where Frisk brightens at the thought of just leaving, which is quickly squashed under the weight of the repercussions. “We can’t just leave.”

Asriel tugs harder, taking a step towards the door. “Sure we can. The door’s right there.”

Frisk lets out a weak laugh, glancing over their shoulder. The two adults aren’t even looking their way, too caught up in their argument. “What’s gotten into you?” they ask, arching a brow at him.

He shrugs. “You. You must be rubbing off on me.” That tug on their hand is getting more insistent.

“Where are we going?” Frisk asks, relenting, letting themselves be pulled along behind him.

Beaming, Asriel cracks open the door and they slip out silently. “Wherever is going to make you happier than here.”

“How are we going to get home?”

“We can just take the bus.”

Later, long after the Busperson stops in Mountainside and two familiar children depart to head for home, they glance up at the long mirror over their head, at the passengers in their care. They know things about each and every one of them, they know each face.

They know that, just like one time before, one of these people isn’t going to make it home. That something terrible is going to happen.

They try to warn them as best they can, but they know it won’t be enough.

After all, their family has a very strict policy. On schedules, on magic…

And telling the future is against the rules.

   
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