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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184. Dark

The determination was buzzing in his bones, setting his teeth on edge, taking the low drone of his Soul and cranking the dial all the way to eleven. He’d never felt anything like this before, like his magic was waiting to spill over from inside of him. It’s just shy of too much, a hair away from overwhelming, bordering on taking over all his senses. It distracted him and honed him to hyper-awareness at the same time, his attention flitting from person to person as he and Dr. Gaster entered the test chamber where everyone was waiting for them.

And there, up against the wall where all focus would be drawn to it, was the machine.

The steady hum of it filled the air, just enough to be noticeable but not loud enough to drown out other sound, an inescapable undercurrent of noise. Large and rectangular, the machine was a metal booth with a singular panel fixed on the outside, flanked with buttons and switches to manipulate the controls. Sleek steel, polished and painted knobs and dials, this was the only time that it would ever look like this. (It’s broken now, singed and scraped, damaged and taken apart over and over through the years but never completely. Because it’s the only thing that can withstand the Resets and Sans can’t let that go. It’s still in his workshop and it will always be there, gathering dust and holding memories.)

Inside the machine, through the open door (it doesn’t have a door anymore, just twisted, pitted metal where the hinges look like they were ripped off) was darkness. A darkness too perfect, too dense and thick, too everything . It filled the space, and something about it made Sans think that it was trying to get out somehow.

Get a grip, he told himself, gritting his teeth and looking to his father. He’s talking to one of the four assistants gathered for what might well be their crowning achievement. Over the buzz of the machine, the atmosphere in the room was something bordering on triumphant. They believed they were doing what was best for the people of the Underground.

We’re here to break the Barrier. This is it.

“Everything is prepared whenever you’re ready to begin, Dr. Gaster,” one of the assistants said, clearly anxious to get started. Their fingers fidgeted in front of their chest, elbows sticking out on either side of them attached to arms that were too long to seem comfortable. “The machine is primed, the gate is locked. You just need to initiate the breach.”

His father beamed, his skeletal grin pulled wide as he took in the room, red pupils (the wrong color) falling on each and every person before resting on Sans. And he was too much of a coward, too mindful of his damn pride, to do anything but return that smile despite the voice in the back of his skull telling him that it was wrong. Telling him to stop all this before it was too late.

It was already too late.

“I know that all of you are well aware of what we’re doing here today,” Dr. Gaster said, his gaze leaving his son and once again sweeping over his gathered staff. “But for the sake of decorum” —laughter, high spirits, smiles all around— “and to remind ourselves of just what has brought us here today, and what we hope to achieve… This day may be our last day in the Underground. This time tomorrow we may very well be standing beneath the sun, all monsters may be freed because of our efforts here today.” He paused for effect. He’d always been such a good speaker with a captive audience, knew just what to say to make people believe in him. Trust him. Because he believed in himself and his capacity to make the Underground a better place for all of monsterkind. He wanted to give them the world, and it showed.

“But first we need to make history in another way. Those of you gathered here are the only ones who know that we’ve discovered the font from which all magic springs, and with this—” He gestured at the machine, splayed his long, delicate fingers with a flourish. “We will open a gateway between our world and that place. Our experiments may have started because of the study of fractured timelines some time in the future, but they led us somewhere far greater, to what may very well be the hope our people need. The one thing we need to tear down the Barrier.”

Murmurs of approval filled the room, companionable glances at one another, a friendly nudge between a short, scaly monster with a row of spikes trailing down its back and another with a huge, hanging head.

“And through this gateway we will bring the creature we found in that place. If my speculations and analysis is correct, it feeds on magic, and the Barrier should be quite a meal for it,” Dr. Gaster said, and the others laughed. But not Sans. It was all he could do to keep that grin on his face. He couldn’t let go of that feeling of dread, he couldn’t stop thinking about all the magic coursing through his body, making him feel too full. Like he was about to burst.

If the thing inside that place fed on magic, wouldn’t he be a tantalizing treat?

Wouldn’t they all be?

“Now, I suppose all that’s left for us is to begin.” His father rested a hand on his shoulder. It felt like the weight of the world. “Sans, would you like to do the honors?”

No. “all on me, huh?” he said, and his skull felt like it might crack from the strain of his smile. NO. “welp, guess i’ll get this show on the road.”

(He’s not sure he could bear the guilt, if he could remember it.)

Frisk remembers this feeling, waking up and not remembering why they feel so unsettled. It makes them think of Chara, and a young, small, frightened part of them half-expects to hear that voice in their head, telling them they just want to help.

How many hundreds of times had Chara ‘helped’ until the one time they finally meant it? The one time out of years’ worth of Resets where their help meant saving lives instead of ending them.

They lay in bed and listen to the sound of their own too-fast breathing, the thud of their heart as it finally starts to slow. Over a minute passes before they finally accept that the voice isn’t coming. Of course it isn’t; Chara is dead, no matter if their memory still haunts them six years later.

Besides, whatever it was they just dreamed about, they get the feeling it didn’t have anything to do with Chara. It didn’t even have anything to do with them.

Anxious and jittery, Frisk shoves their hair out of their face and turns towards the clock. It’s just after two in the morning, and though they wish they could, they know they can’t get back to sleep any time soon. The adrenaline is still too fresh, the nightmare hovers at the edges of their consciousness, enough to make them afraid but not near enough to let them know why. To make matters worse, this is the second night in a row.

It’s infuriating.

Throwing off the covers, Frisk swings their legs off the bed and to the floor. They groan and rub their face, scrubbing eyes that feel sore from too little sleep. They want to talk to someone, anyone, but they don’t want to wake you or Sans. Or Asriel, even though they’re sure he wouldn’t mind. But they don’t want to scare him in the middle of the night into thinking it’s an emergency.

So they do the next best thing; they sit down at their computer and turn on the monitor, wiggling the mouse to wake it up. The whir of the fans joins the whine of summer insects outside and the quiet drone of the air conditioning. Flickering to life, the monitor is blinding for a moment as Frisk adjusts to the light, wincing and narrowing their eyes.

The easiest place to check for people to talk to is in the game they all play together. Some of them are night owls, and might still be on. They load up the game and log in.

The familiar music is comforting and the ache in their eyes is starting to fade. They know they should be in bed, not messing around in World of Warcraft, but at the very least maybe they could do something productive while they can’t sleep. As they wait for it to load they run their fingers through their hair. It’s getting long, maybe too long. Not for the first time they wonder if they should cut it short to stop people from getting confused.

But they shouldn’t have to cut their hair just to stop people from asking stupid questions, from being nosy about things that aren’t any of their business. What does it matter if some people think it makes them look girly… Chris has long hair, and no one tells him he looks like a girl.

They toss it all back over their shoulder as the loading screen goes away, ignoring all that for now. They’re barely on for five seconds before a message pops up in the guild chat.

Octacrit: kid, shouldn’t you be asleep?

Octacrit: I mean, not that it’s my place to tell you to go to bed or anything

Octacrit: it’s just super late

Frisk taps their mouth with their knuckles, rubbing back and forth across their lips as they think of what to say. They understand why Chris is saying that stuff, but it’s still sort of… annoying.

Frisket: I was asleep. Had a bad dream.

Octacrit: oh

Octacrit: did you want to talk about it or something?

Frisk sighs, rubs their eyes.

Frisket: I can’t remember it, just feel sorta creeped out… =/

Frisket: Just need to distract myself for a bit until I get sleepy again.

Octacrit: no problem, I got you. well if you need to talk, I’ll be up for a while, ok?

Frisket: Ok. Thanks.

They got out of bed because they wanted to talk to someone, right? And Chris is right there, offering. Maybe they should—

The game makes a soft notification sound. There, in the chatlog, is a message telling them that Asriel logged on.

Octacrit: jesus, both of you? you guys really are weirdly in-sync sometimes, did you have a bad dream too?

‘Weirdly in-sync’ is one way to put it. They never did explain much to Chris, about their Souls or anything else. He’d found out about the mages (he was just too close to it all for that to stay secret) and he’d made the assumption on his own that what had happened that night with Jacobs, Frisk knowing about the future, was just mage stuff. It wasn’t so much a lie, and they never corrected him...

Ashhoof: Oh, Frisk, you’re up too?

Frisket: Yeah.

Asriel plays a tauren druid, and had insisted on going with an ‘appropriate’ name for his character. Unlike Frisk, Chris, and Rashid. (Rashid had named his rogue something rude enough to get flagged for a rename, and ended up with ‘Shidhead’ instead.) Fatima’s, while a play on her nickname, was still ‘in-character’ enough for Asriel’s taste.

Frisk gets a private message from Asriel, whispered outside of guild chat so Chris can’t see it.

/Ashhoof: What does he mean, bad dream? Did you have a nightmare too?

They swallow, a feeling of apprehension tightening in their chest.

/Frisket: ...Yeah, but I can’t remember it. What about you?

/Ashhoof: Same thing.

/Frisket: That’s… really creepy. It’s not like we dream the same stuff, like, ever.

God, at least they hope not. Their dreams have been sort of… uh… embarrassing. Where Asriel is concerned.

/Ashhoof: Right.

Octacrit: well, uh, don’t stay up too long ok?

Octacrit: this is me, trying to be the responsible adult

Frisket: lol

Frisket: Ok, I’ll try.

Ashhoof: We won’t be on long.

/Frisket: He just doesn’t want to get in trouble with mom and dad.

/Ashhoof: He’s trying a little too hard.

/Frisket: So you had a weird dream too? That you can’t remember?

/Ashhoof: Yeah. It felt like… something bad happened.

/Frisket: Yeah… It happened to me last night too.

/Ashhoof: Ok, now it’s just getting even weirder. I had the same thing.

/Frisket: Why didn’t you tell me? You stayed the night and everything, we could have talked about it.

/Ashhoof: You didn’t talk to ME about it either. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time.

/Frisket: ...Yeah, true…

There’s a soft knock on the door and Frisk jumps.

“kiddo, you up?” Sans’s voice is quiet, just loud enough to be heard through the door.

Frisket: Dad is up, gtg.

They type the message in quickly and exit the game, but don’t bother turning off the monitor. It’s too late now anyway, they’ve already been caught. “Yeah,” they say. “You can come in.”

Sans pokes his head in first, the lights in his eyes small and focused as he finds them there sitting at the computer. He’s just wearing a pair of boxers, the light of the screen catching on the paleness of his ribs. Somehow, in a way that just doesn’t make sense yet is familiar at the same time, there are shadowed circles under his eye sockets. He looks tired.

“you oughta be in bed,” he says, but his reprimand is weak. He closes the door behind him and comes to stand next to the desk.

“Shouldn’t you?” Frisk asks, and Sans gives them a wry grin and a shrug in return. “Had a nightmare, couldn’t go back to sleep.”

He studies them for a second, that smile fading as he rubs his fingers over the vertebrae in his neck. “what about?” he asks carefully.

He knows something. Or thinks he does. Frisk isn’t sure if it’s reassuring or just worries them even more. “I can’t remember.”

A furrow forms between Sans’s brows, but he doesn’t say anything.

“...Asriel was woken up by the same thing. A nightmare he can’t remember,” they say, pressing their hand to their mouth again, cupping their chin. “We both had the same thing happen last night too.”

“that doesn’t make any sense,” Sans says, shaking his head and frowning.

“Maybe it’s just something to do with our bond,” Frisk says, trying to rationalize it because they don’t want Sans to worry. He worries too much as it is, even though he shouldn’t have to. “It’s never happened before, but maybe it’s something new.”

He’s shaking his head still, even before they finished speaking. “can’t be that. doesn’t explain why it’s happening to me too.”

Frisk stares at him for a second, unsure if they heard him correctly. “But…”

“dunno.” Sans sighs, and all of a sudden he looks even more tired, more weary. He walks over to the edge of Frisk’s bed and sits down. “there’s only one thing the three of us have in common.”

They have to think about it before it clicks in their head. “Remembering the Resets and Loads?”

“bingo.”

Frisk’s mouth gapes open, fear making goosebumps stand up on their forearms. “But I’m not… I’m not doing anything, I promise!”

“c’mere, kiddo,” Sans says, beckoning them over. They hesitate for a moment before doing as he says, going to sit beside him. He wraps his arm around their shoulders, which is a lot different now than it used to be. He has to reach up now. Sans used to seem so big before, so powerful. And he still is, but… they miss the days when it was so much easier for Sans to make them feel like everything would be okay. “i don’t think you’re doing anything. i dunno what’s going on, but i don’t blame you.”

“What should we do?”

He mulls this over for a second, rubbing Frisk’s arm with his thumb as he stares at the window. Then he lets out a haggard sigh, ruffling Frisk’s hair and earning himself a sound of protest as they reach up to try and fix it. “go back to bed. they’re just dreams, and unless something changes there’s not much we can do,” he says, pushing back up to his feet. “just lemme know if anything does, and if it happens again. asriel too.”

Frisk wants to argue, to try and come up with a plan. But Sans is right, what could they possibly do about weird dreams? “Okay…”

“ok,” he echoes back, and points Frisk towards the head of their bed. “now get some sleep, and i’ll try to do the same.”

“Fine,” they grumble, crawling back under the covers.

“g’night frisk. i’m sure everything will be fine,” he says, but his tone rings a little false. Like he’s trying to placate them.

“Night Dad.”

Sans shuts off the computer monitor on his way out the door, plunging the room back into darkness. Something about the moment where everything is pitch, when their eyes aren’t adjusted to the absence of light, feels eerily familiar. They wish they knew why.

 
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