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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197. Consequences

“You should have worn sunscreen,” you say, doing your best not to sound smug. Deacon just shoots you a weak, disgruntled look, tenderly rubbing aloe onto his arms as you stand with him in your bathroom upstairs.

“Well I didn’t think we were going to be outside for three hours,” he grumbles, stretching to try and reach his shoulders. He winces and you take pity on him, scooping the aloe gel out of his hand and doing it for him. His skin is too hot and you’re sure he’s uncomfortable. Relaxing under your touch, he catches your eye in the mirror and gives you a small, burnt-faced smile. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” you say. “But honestly, this happens every time. You need to be more careful.”

“It’s just a sunburn, it’ll heal. In the meantime I just feel like you could fry an egg on my shoulders.”

That makes you snort, shaking your head with a wry grin. “At the risk of sounding like an old lady—”

“Never,” he interjects, giving you a charming smile. Faintly embarrassed and a bit flattered, you roll your eyes and bite your lip.

“—you need to take better care of yourself!” You jab him in the ribs with your knuckles, careful not to jostle anything that’s sunburnt. He lets out a muffled yelp. “You’re thirty years old—”

“Don’t remind me.” He pulls a face.

“—and you should be more responsible,” you finish, reaching for the aloe again so you can get his other shoulder.

“Hope, it’s just a sunburn,” he says, protesting weakly.

“Two words.” You hold up two fingers.

He groans. “Hope.”

“Skin—”

“You don’t have to—”

“— cancer. I’m just saying. Don’t make me talk to Bo about it, because I will,” you threaten, and he groans again, louder this time. “Don’t give me that, you have people who love you and want you to stay healthy for as long as possible.”

“I give up, I give up!” he says, throwing his hands up in surrender. “Turn off the mom guilt, message received.”

 Someone has to mother you sometimes,” you sigh, meeting his eyes and cocking your head to the side for just a moment before carefully rubbing the aloe into his skin. Then, sensing what might be an opportunity, you attempt to change the subject. “Speaking of parenting… Have you—”

“Whoa, whoa, okay, is this really the most important thing we could be talking about?” he blurts out, his eyebrows shooting up as he gives you the look of a deer caught in the headlights. “Also, give a guy a break, I can only take so much guilt in one sitting.”

Taken aback, you give him a bewildered look. “What? No, I was just going to say something about…” You were going to say something snide about Grant, but you don’t think that’s going to improve his mood any. “What did you think I was saying?”

He blinks, swallowing and breaking eye contact. “Nothing. Forget it.”

“Deacon,” you say gently, and you realize what he must have thought. He’s been so jumpy over the subject of parenthood and children… You didn’t realize it was this bad, though.

His expression crumples, giving you a desperate, anxious look. “...Can we not do this now? Please?”

The pitiful tone in his voice is enough to make you relent instantly, softening. “Sorry,” you say.

Deacon’s jaw tenses. His eyes drop down to the sink. “It’s fine.”

For a moment you’re not sure if you should say anything else or just drop it entirely, but you feel as though you’ve held back too much. You know from experience that more often than not, when it comes to things like this, Deacon needs that extra push. But you also know that he’s right, that this isn’t the time. “Okay,” you say carefully. “But you know you can talk to me. About anything. I know I usually tell you that you should talk to Bo, but that doesn’t mean I’m not here.”

He nods, turning around to face you. His expression is a bit guarded for your liking and his smile seems forced. You know him better than that and you’re sure he knows it, but he’s putting up that front anyway. “I know,” he says. “But uh, I think we should probably go wake Gaster and let him know we’re going to have company?”

He’s right. That’s the reason you came inside in the first place.

It turns out that Gaster is already awake. You find him in the kitchen, looking lost as he eyes the fridge dubiously and wrings his hands. He catches you out of the corner of his eye when you and Deacon enter the room, jumping as a panicked look ripples across his face before abruptly vanishing as he recognizes you. You could have sworn there was a brief flash of red, a flare of magic, but if there was it was only for a fraction of a moment.

“Oh, Hope,” he says, hiding his fleeting fear behind a bright smile. “I was just looking for something to eat, I didn’t want to disturb you so I—” His attention shifts and his eyes widen. “Oh! Deacon, you’re here rather, ah, early, isn’t it? And you’re a bit… redder than I remember.”

Deacon’s brow furrows. “It’s a sunburn. It happens.”

“Gaster, it’s not early,” you say, concern slipping into your voice. That seems to be a common thing now, you feeling concerned about him. “It’s the middle of the afternoon. You were asleep for about six hours.”

“I see…” Gaster’s head tips to the side, his attention shifting inward as he ponders over something. Then, after a moment, he spreads his hands in a helpless gesture and chuckles softly. “I suppose that would explain why I feel so famished! My dear if you could be so kind—”

“Of course,” you say quickly, giving him a reassuring smile as you break away from Deacon’s side to help Gaster find something to eat.

“Hey, Gaster,” Deacon says as you start looking for leftovers in the fridge. His tone is much more polite than he was with him yesterday; you’d talked to him enough about your worries about Sans’s father to smooth away most of Deacon’s suspicions. “If you’re, you know, feeling up to it… I’ve got someone I want you to talk to. About the Anathema. There’s some questions I want to ask too, and I thought she should be here.”

There’s a moment’s hesitation before Gaster replies, though from desynchronization with time or just anxiety you’re not sure. He doesn’t soundunsettled when he speaks. “I can’t blame you for wanting to know more, we didn’t get to discuss the Anathema in any great detail last night. Other matters were certainly more pressing,” Gaster says. “I will do my best to tell you what I know. Who is coming over?”

You find some leftover soup but decide against that. He’d had enough trouble with a fork and knife last night, and you think you’ll leave the spoons for later. It turns out that not eating for over a decade required some time to recover from, in terms of hand-eye coordination. Maybe a sandwich would be best. Grabbing what you need, you turn back towards the kitchen island in time to see Gaster’s curious expression and the wary but well-meaning look on Deacon’s face. He’s doing his best to be sincere, not turning on the typical ‘Deacon charm’ or treating him like a threat to himself or to you. You can tell he’s still not quite sure how to handle your father-in-law.

“Her name is Morwenna. She’s—”

“Oh, the leader of your order of mages!” Gaster says, sounding delighted. “That’s an excellent idea, I’ll be happy to speak with her.”

“How did you— No, nevermind,” Deacon says, grimacing and shaking his head. “I figured it out. But you should probably, like, not act like you know things you shouldn’t? At least around other people. Hope—” He turns to you, dragging his fingers through his hair. “We’re going to need to come up with some kind of story. We can’t tell everyone what Frisk and Asriel did, but people are going to have questions. People’s dads just don’t normally pop up out of nowhere. Especially ones that nobody knows even exist.”

“Yeah,” you mutter, frowning down at the sandwich you’re making. “We’ll figure something out. But we can tell Morwenna the truth, she knows about all of… everything anyway.”

“Right.”

“I wonder what she’s going to think of all this.”

“They did what?”

Morwenna gapes at you as you and Deacon explain as best you can what happened when Frisk and Asriel tore the hole in reality that freed Gaster. You haven’t even been able to get to the part with the Anathema yet, arguably the part most concerning to her and the Literatum. Gaster is standing at the far end of the couch, off by himself. Morwenna is sitting on the loveseat, and you and Deacon are on the couch. All of you are leaning forward, intent on the conversation, and no one in the room seems comfortable.

She’d accepted Gaster’s presence in the room well enough; she’d shaken his hand, given him a quick once-over with only the slightest hint of confusion before stowing away her questions to allow you to explain. At least until you’d reached the matter with the kids.

“No, that’s just not possible,” she says, softly and mostly to herself. Leaning forward and resting her elbows on her legs, Morwenna cradles her head in her hands as she stares at the floor. “Red magic just isn’t capable of that kind of…” Her brow furrows as she trails off and she looks up to meet your gaze. “I understand that Frisk’s abilities are unusual, but this is insanity.”

“‘Unusual’?” you echo back, arching a brow and snorting a laugh. “Morwenna, they Reset multiple days, over and over again for what amounted to years. There was another child living inside of them, they split that doubled Soul with Asriel, if you think that’s just ‘unusual’ then I think we need to compare our units of measurement. Because considering the fact that Sans and I both owe our lives to Frisk’s abilities, I’m not surprised that Gaster does as well. And this thing, here, this bit you’re refusing to accept? This isn’t even half of it. This isn’t what we wanted you to know about.”

“How could it not be?” she blurts out, spreading her hands helplessly. “You allowed me to teach your child —to try at least— and this is… Hope, thisis just even more reason to keep Frisk and Asriel separated for their training, if this—”

“They were sharing their Souls, they’re not going to do it again,” you protest, taken aback by her vehemence.

“It can’t be worth the risk. Who knows what kinds of long-term ramifications it could have on— on time and space or…” Morwenna trails off, rubbing roughly at her eyes. “Red magic, normal red magic, doesn’t tear or damage the… whatever it is that keeps our world separate from that place.”

Deacon is suspiciously quiet, his arms crossed over his chest as his eyes flick between the two of you. You look at him for support, to back you up and try to reassure her that the kids aren’t a danger. But he remains silent. He isn’t speaking on Morwenna’s behalf either but… you get the feeling he might share some of her concern.

You’re not sure how to feel about that.

“Frisk doesn’t have ‘normal’ red magic,” Gaster says, spreading his hands as he speaks gently. “Trying to apply your concept of ‘normal’ to that child is inherently flawed from the start. To be quite honest, your very perspective of ‘normal’ red magic is anecdotal at best and compared to your ancestors woefully… hm, forgive the harshness of the word, but frankly pathetic. Surely the king has told you as much.”

Deacon sucks in a sharp breath as silence settles over the room. He raises a hand to the back of his neck and ducks his head, and you find yourself at a loss for words and, to be honest, incredibly uncomfortable with the sudden tension in the air. Gaster must be somehow oblivious to it because he’s still looking at Morwenna with that same kind, patient expression, and Morwenna…

Shit. Morwenna looks livid.

“I have been teaching mages for decades, this is your second goddamn day on the surface with even the chance to observe human magic first hand,” she says, just shy of a growl. Pushing up to her feet, she squares her shoulders as she takes a step closer to Gaster, fixing him with an unimpressed glare. “Don’t think you can lecture me. Monsters don’t even have red magic.”

Oh no. Gaster doesn’t immediately respond, but his eyes narrow as the lights in his sockets shrink and sharpen. You’ve been married to Sans long enough to know that’s not typically a good sign. “Normally you would be right,” he says slowly, splaying his fingers with a fluid motion. “However, once again your scope is too narrow, as far as ‘normal’ is concerned. You see, an excess of determination is what kept me alive when I was pulled into the Font by a creature called the Anathema. One notable side effect is that my Soul and my magic were permanently altered, so I’m afraid you are very, very wrong.”

Gaster’s eyes flick from white to red, vaporous trails of his magic rising from his fingers. But it only lasts long enough for him to make his —arguably dramatic— point.

“So you could say that if anyone is familiar with what shouldn’t be possible with red magic, it’s myself,” he finishes, snapping his hands closed as his magic dissipates all at once. “And I would appreciate it if… if… if… if...”

The frustration is gone from his expression, replaced at once with confusion as he raises a hand to the side of his head and steadies himself with the other, groping for the arm of the couch beside him. As you watch, braced to rush up from your seat at the first sign of trouble, his face —no, his whole body— starts to… to sag. Like he’s starting to run at the edges, like paint that hasn’t quite dried.

“Gaster—” you start, pushing yourself to your feet as fear starts to prickle up your spine, but Morwenna beats you to him.

There’s a blur of red and she’s bracing his arms, holding him steady as her magic flares bright where she’s touching him. When she comes back into focus she’s grimacing, baring her teeth as she lets out a soft grunt of effort. “Okay, okay, for crying out loud you made your damn point,” she snaps. “You don’t have to fucking de-sync with the flow of time to show off that you’ve got red stones.”

“Do you think he even has—”

“Deacon! Now isn’t the time!” you hiss as you pass him on your way to Gaster and Morwenna.

Gaster has a tight hold on her arms, bowed forward, steadying himself on her as she keeps him upright. But from what you can tell he looks more solid again. “How… how could you tell?” Gaster asks, drawing in a shaky breath while somehow managing to sound surprised. “How could you tell that’s what was happening?”

The look on her face is bordering on smug as she helps him over towards the free space on the couch. “My red magic isn’t borrowed,” she says, easing Gaster down then pulling away so she can fix him with a stern look. “I can tell when it’s being used and yours…” Her expression softens into something close to pity. “Gaster, your red magic is a damn trainwreck.”

“That is… unfortunately a rather apt comparison,” he admits, turning his head away from her and pressing a hand to his forehead. The white lights in his eyes are dim but they’re there, and he looks like he’s fine at least… “But I manage. Things could be much, much worse.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Deacon asks, glancing from Gaster to Morwenna and back again. “That wasn’t just a small hitch like before, that was…”

“I’m fine,” Gaster insists, reminding you strongly of your husband. The brave face, the resistance to concern, the need to collect himself in front of the three of you. It’s frustrating and understandable all at the same time.

Morwenna doesn’t say anything, but you see the frown tugging on her mouth, the creases on her forehead that bunch her freckles together. You wonder what she’s seeing that you’re not. “You said there was more that you wanted to tell me. Deacon, you said you had questions. Why don’t we focus on that instead?”

Deacon looks at you, arching a brow in silent question. You take in the room, the sound of Gaster’s gradually steadying breaths, the way he’s sitting a little straighter and regaining that air of quiet dignity. Maybe it would be best to not dwell on his episode, you get the feeling it would just embarrass him. You give a little nod to Deacon.

“The Anathema,” Deacon starts, looking up at Morwenna as he leans forward to rest his arms on his knees. “It’s this creature that lives in the Font. It sounds like it’s always been there and we just never—”

“Oh, it hasn’t always been there,” Gaster interrupts, catching you off-guard. He says it matter-of-factly, like he expects you to know already. “The Font is timeless, but the Anathema formed later. Around the same time that the Barrier went up, to be more exact.”

You and Deacon are staring at him, waiting for him to elaborate while Morwenna is trying to mask her confusion. Gaster looks between the three of you, blinking owlishly, when finally he realizes that you’re all focused on him.

“I’m sorry, perhaps I should have been more plain. The Anathema is constructed from the Souls of the seven mages who created the Barrier.”

   
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