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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86. Be Safe

The kids are quieter than normal during dinner. Because they know what's coming after, Sans is certain. They were quietly doing their homework at the bar when he came home. Kept working on it until dinner was ready, and now they're slowly eating their food as if they can delay the inevitable.

Papyrus wolfs down his food, thanks you for making dinner like he always does, and excuses himself to his room. He's always been more observant than Sans gives him credit for sometimes, and lately has been better at giving his brother room to be a parent. ("IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU TAKING SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONCE. HOPEFULLY YOU TAKE CARE OF FRISK BETTER THAN YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET ROCK. WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU CHANGED ITS WATER?")

Shortly after Papyrus leaves, you get up from the table and pack up a plastic container of leftovers to take with you to Deacon's house. Then, with a kiss for Sans and a stern look at the kids, you head out the door. A tiny, irrational voice in the back of his mind wants to call you back and keep you home with him. It's the same voice that worries whenever you go to work in the morning without him, and whenever you're apart. Too many instances of you getting hurt when he wasn't around (or when you died, but he tries so hard not to think about that) has made him too wary, too... he hesitates to say paranoid. He knows he's being irrational and that's what makes the difference, right? He can shut those thoughts down and move past them. You've spent more time apart here on the surface than you ever did in the Underground, and he thinks he's getting better at it. Now that your humanity isn't a closely guarded secret from the rest of monsterkind.

Besides, he knows you have your phone. He felt for it in your pocket when you kissed him goodbye. You've made it a habit of checking in with him when you're away and he's thankful for that. It helps, even if he feels a little guilty that you feel like it's necessary. He never asked you to do it, you just started one day and haven't stopped.

Frisk and Asriel share a worried look and Sans leans back in his chair, raising a brow. "welp, now it's just the three of us. i shouldn't have to have this talk with you again, frisk," he says, and they look down at their dinner, avoiding his eyes.

"Asriel was hurt. If I can make it better, then shouldn't I do that?" Frisk grumbles, pushing at their food with a fork. Asriel fidgets with his ear, glancing over at Frisk and then back down at the table.

"kiddo you can't go around trying to fix everything. that's not how things normally go," Sans says, sighing. "i know your heart is in the right place, but—"

"But I'm not normal," they blurt out, looking up at Sans with wide, hurt eyes. "And neither is Asriel. You and Mom and Grandma and Grandpa should stop expecting us to be normal."

A little taken aback, Sans sits back up in his chair, leaning forward with his elbows on the table. "trust me, i know you two aren't. i know how that feels. i'm just saying that if you were, these little accidents would just be part of life. we deal with them and we move on. you have to let yourselves handle the consequences of your actions, because even though it may not feel like it, messing with time affects more than just you."

"But it's not like anyone remembers," they say petulantly, but Asriel gives them a worried look and it seems like Sans's words are at least getting through to someone.

"that doesn't mean it's ok," Sans snaps, frowning. Frisk's shoulders hunch and they glance away again. "it's not fair to your mom, to your uncle, to our friends. you're undoing parts of their lives and even if they don't know it, you're still doing that to them. you change things that aren't meant to be changed."

"You didn't complain when Chara and I changed things to bring Mom back!" Frisk blurts out, but Sans can see on their face they instantly regret saying the words. Asriel blanches, clutching his ear tight in his hand.

Sans feels something dark and angry settle in his bones and he fights to keep his voice even, gritting his teeth. "that's not the same," he bites out, and both the kids flinch.

"I'm sorry, I know it's not," Frisk says, cowed. "Dad I'm sorry. It's just not fair, having this cool power and not being able to use it."

"Frisk maybe you should just stop, like Sans says. I'm... I'm glad I don't have that power anymore," Asriel mumbles, glancing at Sans and then looking at his friend.

Rubbing his face with one hand, Sans forces out a frustrated sigh and wills himself to calm down. They're just kids, dammit. "kiddo, we don't know what all these loads might be doing to our timeline. there's too many variables we don't understand and can't control and i don't trust it. what if something goes wrong? what if you try to load and it resets instead? we don't know what it might be doing to you either."

Asriel flinches a little at that last bit, but whatever he might be thinking he doesn't say anything.

"asriel, i need you to help me and help frisk, do you understand? you remind them not to mess around with that stuff unless it's a real emergency," Sans says, eyeing them both as they watch him.

"I don't need Asriel babysitting me," Frisk mutters, frowning but only just.

"apparently that's not true, considering what you did today. somebody has to be there to tell you what you're doing is wrong, and i can't be with you as much as asriel is." Frisk hangs their head and Sans looks pointedly at Asriel. To the prince's credit he holds his gaze. "now can you help me help frisk?"

Asriel nods. "Yeah. I just want Frisk to be okay, too. Because like you said... we don't know what this might do."

"thanks. you're the only other one here who really knows what that power is like. we all know that was under a different set of circumstances, but it doesn't change that you used to do it too. now, is there anything either of you want to tell me?" he asks, raising a brow.

They hesitate, but he's not sure if it's because they're hiding something or they're just thinking. But after a moment Frisk shakes their head, and a few seconds later Asriel does the same. Sans waits a little bit longer, watching them carefully before giving up.

"well i don't have anything else to say that wouldn't just be me repeating myself. asriel, go get your things and i'll take you home. frisk..." Sans grits his teeth, wondering what you might do if you were still home. "go to your room. no games tonight."

"But Dad!" Frisk whines, jaw dropping as their face scrunches.

"no buts! you know you're in trouble."

With a loud, agitated sound, they push away from the table and take their plate to the kitchen. Sans can hear the angry clatter of stoneware against the metal sink and he restrains himself from snapping at them. Let them be upset. It'll make two of them.

Deacon's house is two stories, tall and narrow like a townhouse. The original owners hadn't wanted anything too big, just enough space for their small family. It's perfect for a bachelor living on his own, you think. A big step up from wherever he was living before, judging by what you and the brothers moved inside yesterday. His car —Sylvie, you remember with a wry smile— is parked in the carport. It's already starting to get dark outside but it looks like Deacon left the porch light on for you. That was nice of him.

You texted him before leaving the house and as you walk up the steps to the front door it looks like he was waiting for you. The door swings open to reveal Deacon, dressed more comfortably in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. He catches you looking and gives you a crooked smile.

"Hope you don't mind that I changed into something a little more casual," he says, stepping aside to let you in. He takes another look outside as he starts to close the door. "Maybe I should have walked over to get you, since it's getting dark. I'll take you home when you leave."

"That's very chivalrous, but unnecessary," you say, handing him a plastic container of meatloaf, potatoes, and carrots. "Ebott has to be one of the safest places I've ever been. Have you had dinner?"

Deacon turns the dish over so he can see inside, and you see his expression brighten a little. "Technically yes, but I think I'm about to have seconds."

Laughing and flattered, you follow him through the quaint living room to the kitchen. He's made himself a little bit at home it looks like, though with everything already furnished when he moved in there isn't much to change. At least not in the span of a day. Deacon makes an exaggerated throat-clearing noise and dumps an empty package of noodles in the trash can. As he turns to put the leftovers in the microwave, you steal a peek into the garbage.

"Deacon how much ramen have you had in the last twenty-four hours?" you ask, trying not to sound like you're criticizing. But you are.

"In my defense I haven't managed to go to the store yet," he counters, not answering your question. He's watching the container spin on the turntable inside the microwave very intently. "I promise I'm not that stereotypical of a bachelor that all I eat is ramen." He finally casts you a quick glance. "I do like ramen, though," he admits.

You make a noncommittal noise, not sure you believe him. "Well if you ever want dinner, there are two mothers just down the road from you. You can always come to me or Tori if you need anything."

"You guys don't need to do that, really," he says, shifting his weight on his feet. "But, uh, that's kind of you. Thanks. Um, did you want something to drink? I have... well, water and coffee. Pick your poison."

"Coffee sounds good."

Deacon ignores the sound of the microwave beeping in favor of rummaging through his cabinets to find you a mug, some sugar, and oh wonderful... instant coffee. When you start laughing he gives you a curious look, filling the mug with water and exchanging it with his leftovers. Does he not own a kettle? You guess not.

"Sorry," you say, gesturing at the coffee. "I haven't had any of the instant stuff since getting back to the surface. It's all we had in the Underground and it was terrible. Granted, I think it was stale... or expired."

"Oh, well then not to worry. I only carry the finest, non-expired instant coffee here in chateau Stuart," he says, winking as you laugh. He puts the lid from the plastic container into the sink, making a pleased sound as a waft of steam rises up. "Oh man, this looks great. Thank you."

"You're welcome." You watch as he finds a fork in a drawer and starts to eat on his feet, waiting for your water to boil. "As good as it looks?" you ask after the first few bites.

"Mhm," he says in approval, nodding and chewing at the same time.

You shoo him aside as the microwave beeps again, deciding to prepare the coffee yourself. "So are you okay? After all that stuff with your Soul, I mean."

"Yeah, sure. I mean, yeah it was a little freaky but I guess that's pretty par for the course up here. Kids catching on fire, literal Souls. I'm sure there's still plenty of exciting things for me to learn tomorrow," he says, raising a brow at you. "Sorry, I know I called you over here to talk, it's just... We don't need to talk about the Soul thing. As long as I don't think about it too hard, all this stuff is almost starting to seem normal."

"Are you sure?" you ask as you start stirring the mixture of coffee and sugar. "I mean, I'm not an expert but if you have any questions I might at least be able to give you another human's perspective."

Deacon jerks his head towards the living room. "C'mon let's take this party to the couch. Much more comfortable." As you follow him out of the kitchen he keeps talking. "Oh, I hope I didn't upset your friend. Undyne. I know she seemed a little worried about everything."

"Oh, no way, I hope she didn't upset you!" you say, lowering yourself onto one end of the couch after Deacon flops down on the other. It's big and overstuffed and comfortable, upholstered with something like suede. "When we first met she tried to—" You catch yourself before saying 'she tried to kill me', taking a sip of your coffee. Still a bit too hot but already tastes better than you remember. "Well it was a rocky start. But she's just very..."

"Intense?" he offers.

"That's one way to put it."

"Nah, she's fine. We'll have to hang out again with less, ah, sparring in the future," he says with a chuckle. "Hey, so speaking about Souls, can I ask you what color yours is? Unless that's personal, I hope that wasn't rude. Your fiancé seemed a little upset about that earlier."

"Oh, yeah, that was my fault," you say, cringing a little with lingering embarrassment. You shake your head. "Don't worry about that. But, uh, mine is sort of a burgundy color."

"Well with our powers combined we're Christmas," Deacon says, making you laugh. "How about Sans?"

"Oh, monster Souls don't have colors. They also don't, um, pull free like ours do? The way he explained it to me is that Souls are magic, right, and their whole bodies are made of magic. I don't really understand it, but monster Souls are white," you say, sipping at your coffee.

He seems to mull that over for a little bit, looking down at the dish in his hands. Pulling his legs up on the couch, he sits cross-legged and leans a little closer to you, frowning. "Wait, so how do you know they're white if their Souls don't leave their bodies?"

You blink, caught off-guard. Shit, how did you slip up like that? Well you can't tell him the truth, that entire mess with Asriel and the monster Souls is just... too much. "Sans told me," you lie, clearing your throat.

Deacon nods, leaning back again. If he noticed anything he doesn't give any sign.

"So, what brought you up here to Ebott?" you ask in return, trying to change the subject and honestly curious.

"Curiosity, at first. I mean, who wouldn't be curious about all of this," he says, gesturing with his fork. "But you wouldn't believe how tough it is for newer teachers to get a job. Schools are very political and seniority is everything. So far it doesn't seem that bad up here at least."

"That's good," you say. "I mean, good that it's not bad up here, not good that you had a hard time before now."

"Heh, I know don't worry," he says, giving you a reassuring smile. "How's the coffee? Just as bad as you're expecting?"

"Better, actually. I mean, it's no fresh ground coffee, but it's drinkable."

"Will you think less of me if I admit I can't tell the difference?" he asks, smirking. Deacon leans against the back of the couch, sitting facing you and resting his arm along the top of it before running his hand through his hair.

You feel your cheeks warm a little, looking down at the mug in your hands and clearing your throat. Trying to think of a smart comeback, you find yourself falling short for some reason. "No, not really," you answer lamely.

Deacon gives a small shrug. "So, since we're asking questions. You and Sans." You give him a dubious look, expecting the worst. "How did you guys hit it off? Girl falls down hole, girl meets skeleton boy, seems a little cliché. I've heard that one a thousand times."

You snort, glad you weren't drinking at the time. Covering your mouth, you give Deacon a playful glare as he chuckles at you. "Well if you must know. He and Papyrus took care of Frisk and I after we fell. Well, uh, after Toriel. We lived with them for almost the entire three months we were down there."

"Living together before marriage? Scandalous," he says with a mock gasp. "Well that raises another burning question. What's the Underground like?"

"It was actually really beautiful in places," you say, leaning back against the couch. You tap on the lip of the mug with your fingernail, thinking. "I lived in a village called Snowdin. It was always winter, snow all over the trees— yes trees underground I know. And snow. Um and then there's Waterfall, which was probably my favorite. There was this spot where everything was dark but the water glowed. And these mushrooms too, this really pretty blue shade." Smiling, you look up at the ceiling and gesture with your hand, fingers splayed wide. "And up in the top of the cave were these crystals in all sorts of colors, almost like stars. That's what lit the Underground, these magic crystals. They even operated on a night and day cycle somehow."

"I'd love to see it all one day. I know it's strictly off-limits, even to the military. Toriel told me as much," Deacon says, leaning back to put his empty dish on the end table behind him. "That's a lot of diversity for a glorified cave under a mountain."

"I guess that's what happens with magic. The entire time I was down there that was the only explanation I could think of, but I'm not exactly a scientist."

"Well they were trapped underground by humans. Um, mages I think they said? What if they did something to the mountain when the Barrier was put up? That might explain it," he says, shrugging and giving you a curious look.

Your face scrunches up with distaste. "No way. They locked an entire species underground after all they did was defend themselves. Why would they bother trying to make things better for the monsters?"

Deacon puts his hands up in mock surrender, eyebrows raising. "It was just a random observation. But I mean, if they wanted to get rid of the monsters, then why didn't they just kill them? Why lock them up and put up a complicated magic prison?"

"I dunno Deacon, you're the history teacher. Why do humans do anything?" you say, sighing.

"Fear, usually." Deacon rubs the back of his neck, shaking his head. "But there's always those people that stand apart, you know? I mean look at you, you and Frisk have adapted just fine. I hope that this time around it's different but you can't help but wonder: would the monsters be safer in the Underground than up here?"

"Maybe, but you heard Sans. They were surviving down there but they weren't thriving. You don't..." You grimace, tucking some hair behind your ear. "They were doing the best they could but despite the challenges, they're happier up here. Don't you think everyone should be free to live on the surface?"

"Don't get me wrong, I do! I wouldn't be living here if I wasn't okay with monsters," he says, giving you an apologetic look. "But between you and me, as humans... I worry about their safety. Don't you?"

"Every day."

   
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