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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160. Getting Some Answers

You're standing in Asgore's guest bedroom, the king to your left, Sans to your right, and Undyne behind you, all facing the bed where Deacon and Bo are sitting. He looks exhausted and in pain, leaning against his girlfriend as she supports him, one hand combing through the back of his hair. She alternates between watching Deacon's face, concern shaping a furrow in her brow, and looking up at Asgore with something like defiance in her eyes. The looks she casts at Sans are nothing short of angry. You can't blame her. A large part of you feels the same way.

When Sans told you what happened, he was expecting you to share his outrage. His sense of betrayal. You were shocked, yes, but Sans was reducing him to a single aspect —mage— and disregarding everything else he knew about Deacon. Everything you knew about Deacon. You couldn't, wouldn't, throw it all away over this. Not without an explanation. And that look on his face —the fear, the absolute desperation— when he saw you, and the breaking point when he realized you hadn't given up on him; that was proof enough for you. That whatever he had to say for himself, you could accept it. 

The thing that stings is that he told Bo the truth and not you.

Oh, you know you're being petty, and selfish, and maybe a little bit jealous. You'd been there for him, through so much! Why couldn't he trust you with this too?

Your thoughts must be plain on your face because Deacon is watching you. "I wanted to tell you," he says, regret in his voice. "But I... I couldn't. I was still worried about Sans. I wanted to tell you both together. I thought..." He lets out a weak, humorless laugh. "I thought we could use this camping trip to get to know each other better. I guess that was true."

Sans makes a low sound deep in his chest, something between a scoff and a grunt of acknowledgment. You love him, you do, but part of you just wants to shake him right now. For being so stubborn, for scaring the kids...

Toriel called you, after Sans took her to the campsite to take his place. They didn't want to disturb all the kids in the middle of the night, or let them know that anything was wrong. But he'd left Frisk and Asriel, scared and worried that he'd done something to Deacon. While waiting for Deacon to regain consciousness, you talked to Frisk, reassured them that he was okay. They told you, over and over again, that he'd protected them. That he didn't do anything wrong.

It's still the middle of the night. You hope that with Toriel there they're getting some sleep.

"I was going to tell you," Deacon says, firmer this time.

"So tell me now," you say, crossing your arms over your chest, hugging yourself.

He nods, glances at each of your faces, and looks at you as he starts to speak. "I'm... I'm from a group of mages, called the Literatum. I was sent here to observe and learn, to help us try and reclaim a lot of the knowledge that was lost over the generations. Things about Souls and magic. It was... easiest for me because I have a degree in teaching. And I was curious, so I asked to do it."

"You came to SPY on us?" Undyne interjects, making you jump.

"...Sort of, yes," he admits, swallowing. "Not to do anything bad, they just... There's so much we don't know, about our history, or monsters. I didn't even believe the stories when I was told as a kid, that you guys were real. I thought it was just... I don't know, more old mages trying to make us into more than we are." He frowns, shaking his head and looking down at his hands in his lap. "I've only met like ten other mages. Most of them all talk. They spend so much damn time just keeping ourselves secret and trying to find others so they can pass down the knowledge they do have even though they won't use it for anything..."

There's a moment of bitter silence where Deacon grits his teeth.

"The Literatum aren't a threat," he says, looking up at Asgore. "They just wanted to know more about magic. And they didn't want anyone —human or monster— to find out about us. The whole secrecy thing is really important to them, but I just... I don't fucking care any more. This double life bullshit is crap, and it's gotten to the point where it feels like dealing with Grant and the others is the fake."

"Grant's a mage?" you ask, and suddenly it feels like an important piece of the puzzle has slipped into place. "That's why he adopted you. When you said he saw your potential, it was your magic. And why... Oh my god, that's why you said the situation was complicated, and what he said about Bo..."

Deacon is nodding, glancing over at his girlfriend. He takes her hand in his. "He didn't want any of you clouding my judgment," he says, sighing. "Questioning my... loyalty. Hm, guess he was right about that after all."

"Why would your loyalty be put into question?" Asgore asks, the soft rumble of his voice filling the room. "If your people are not a threat to mine, why would you have to choose a side?"

"Because they're cowards and don't want to get caught in the middle if—" he cuts himself off, grimacing in pain as he gingerly touches his chest. "There's another sect of mages that call themselves the Vigilum. They're like... old families, Illuminati, cult, 'power is everything', paranoid assholes. All the stuff that's been going on in the news?" Deacon looks at you again, his expression hard and serious. "We're almost certain that's them. Most of them aren't even mages, but they can trace their ancestry back to one and they abuse their connections. They're probably pissed that you guys basically outed to the world that there's magic, and they're worried that one day they're going to get found out."

"What, and your people AREN'T?" Undyne cuts in, and you can hear the skepticism in her voice.

"I mean, the Literatum are worried about that too, but they wouldn't..." Deacon's eyes flick up to Undyne's, then back down to yours. "During Spring Break, when you couldn't get a hold of me? I said I was at lunch with Grant. Well, that was only partially true. I was meeting with Grant and the others. I was trying to convince them that we need to do something about what's been going on. But they don't want to get involved."

Asgore clears his throat. "Would your people be willing to speak with me?"

"I... probably."

"you can't be serious," Sans blurts out with a look of disbelief. "dealing with more mages?"

"Asgore we all know the stories, it's too dangerous," Undyne says.

"Deacon, how would you say your magical ability compares to other mages? Are you considered average by your peers?" Asgore asks, ignoring the others.

Deacon blinks. "My healing isn't very good, but I've been told my shields are on the strong side. Um, so I guess above average?"

"And you exhausted yourself with just a sphere and a basic shield? Over the course of about ten minutes?"

He's frowning now. "I also stopped a rock slide. What are you getting at?"

"You are significantly weaker than your forebears. A green mage during the war could create a shield wide enough to protect a hundred men," he says, and you watch as Deacon's jaw drops in shock.

"That would... I can do maybe five, for like ten seconds," he breathes.

"And you are dying out. Nearly a quarter of the human population were mages then, and now..." Asgore sighs, and he looks... relieved. "You are a fading echo of what you once were. You must understand, hearing the news that mages still exist, it made us think that your people might be capable of another Barrier. We had taken relief in thinking that magic had left humanity. But it seems that our fear was mostly misplaced."

"and we're just supposed to believe these two mage groups exist? just based on your word," Sans says, stepping forward so that he can look around you to face Asgore. "and you want to, what, meet with them? asgore, you're playing right into what could just be a trap."

Frustration twists in your chest, but Bo is faster than you. She's glaring at him, baring her teeth. "He's not lying! Deacon wouldn't hurt anyone."

Sans frowns. "fine. then how do you know that they're not tricking you? using you to get to us. you don't seem to like your dad very much but you're asking us to trust him and his people."

"He's not my dad," Deacon snaps, jaw tensing. "And I've known Grant since I was twelve. Long before any of us ever thought monsters would ever reach the surface. How would they know to lie to me about their intentions this whole time? Look, I might have my problems with the Literatum, but they're not bad people. The Vigilum are who you need to worry about."

Sans is shaking his head. "i don't like this. look, every time i'm around deacon i just feel... like there's something wrong. i ignored it and now... was it his magic?" He looks up at Asgore, wide-eyed and anxious, a note of desperation in his voice. "if it's just his magic then fine but it's— why do i feel this way?"

He sounds so distraught. It smooths away some of your frustration, just enough for you to catch his eye and brush his arm with your hand. He searches your face, then frees his hand from his pocket so he can take yours, and the relief there in his expression is enough to make you feel guilty.

"Hmm," Asgore begins, looking from Sans to Deacon. Deacon is just sitting there, confused as he watches Sans. "It sounds as though your Souls are dissonant."

"are you—?" Sans cuts himself off, gritting his teeth. "are you kidding me? he's a human."

"What are you talking about?" Deacon says, echoing your own thoughts.

"He is a mage and as such his Soul is more like that of a monster. Magic flows through him, and even though he cannot sense them as we do, it is possible for a mage Soul and monster Soul to become dissonant," Asgore says, which isn't helping you very much if you're being honest. But Sans seems to understand. "Unfortunately, since human Souls are stronger than ours, the dissonance is... much sharper."

"so you're telling me... that not only are we dissonant, but he can't even tell?" Sans asks, his voice almost a growl.

"What can't I tell?" Deacon asks, looking between Asgore and Sans.

"Your Souls are too similar to be complementary. They... clash. A dissonance between monsters might surface as a rivalry, or just a general dislike, likely without a logical reason," Asgore says, sighing. "This is a step more than that, but since you cannot feel Souls as we can, Sans is the only one that it affects."

"But... you two were getting along! Everything was fine, until..." you trail off, looking at the ground, and then at Sans. He looks resigned. "You overcame this..."

"Well this is fucking perfect," Deacon breathes, bitterness in every syllable. "No wonder you hate me, our damn Souls won't even play nice."

"i don't hate you," Sans blurts out, looking up at Deacon. Your friend is taken aback, his lips parting like he wants to say something, but he doesn't. "shit, i... fuck, i don't know anymore..."

There's a moment of silence, where no one seems sure of what to say. All the anger from earlier seems to have dissipated into uncertainty.

"So what do we do now?" Undyne asks, quiet.

You look to Asgore, same as everyone else. He watches all of you, mulling this over as he strokes his beard. Then, after a moment, he sighs. "For now, I think it is best if you all go home. Bo, perhaps you should take Deacon with you."

"I was already planning on it," she says sharply.

"And Deacon, I expect you to get in touch with your superiors and let them know that I wish to speak with them regarding this... situation," he says, and Deacon nods. "For the moment, you will have to oblige me in not going to work until I am more familiar with this turn of events."

"But I—" he starts to protest, then withers. "Yeah. Okay... Are you... Are you going to tell everyone about me?"

"No. I think that for now it is best if we keep this between those of us who already know. I do not want to worry my people unnecessarily," he says, and you can see the relief on Deacon's face.

If Sans has any protests about Asgore's plan, he keeps them to himself. You look at your husband, and his expression is enigmatic. Frustrated perhaps, and a little sullen, but you think that he's focused inward, on this 'dissonance' thing that Asgore just dumped in his lap. 

"So you're going to try and talk to Deacon's mages about the... bad mages?" Undyne asks, stifling a yawn.

Asgore nods. "Yes. See if there is anything that can be done about what is happening in the news. See if there is any link between that and the recent change in our soldiers..."

As Bo throws her legs off the side of the bed, scooting off and turning to help Deacon, Undyne and Asgore turn to leave the room. This is your chance, you think, to ask some questions you didn't want to raise in front of the others.

"Bo, can I... I want to talk to Deacon alone for a second, if that's okay," you ask gently, and that seems to get Sans's attention.

"what, why?" he asks, gripping your hand tighter.

Bo gives you a questioning look, then glances at Deacon.

"It's about Frisk," you say, and realization dawns on his face.

"Oh. Yeah, I... Bo can you give me a few minutes?" he says, leaning back to sit on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry."

She looks between you and Deacon, then glances at Sans. "All right," she says, cupping his cheek and leaning in to kiss him. "Not for long, okay? This... this whole thing really scared me. This could have gone so much worse, baby."

Deacon lets out a weak, exhausted laugh. "Tell me about it. Hey," he says, catching her hand as she starts to pull away. "I love you. You have no idea how much it means to me that you're here."

"I love you too. And get used to it, I'm not letting you go without a hell of a fight," she says, and for a second you think they might kiss again, with that fierce look in her eye. But they don't. She brushes his cheek with her thumb, then lets him go to tug on Sans's sleeve. "Come on."

"what?" Sans says, not budging.

"She said alone. And I have a few words for you," she says, fixing him with a stern look.

Sans looks at you, and when you don't say anything, he lets himself be led out of the room. Bo shuts the door behind her.

"I thought maybe Frisk was a mage," Deacon says, before you can even ask. He gives you a lopsided smile in response to the surprise on your face. "You wanted to know why I followed them into the forest, right? Or at least, now you can tell Sans. I'm sure he was wondering."

That wasn't exactly what you were going to ask, but that's the sort of answer you were looking for. Could Frisk's ability to Load and Reset be linked to them being a mage? "What made you think they might be?" you ask. Sans thought he might be able to sense Loads, and you wonder if that's true.

"There was this weird moment in the middle of the day. We were all just standing around, and all of a sudden I felt Frisk's magic just plummet. For no reason. I, uh, can't sense Souls the same way monsters can, but I can feel a person's magic. At the zoo? It was the same thing. I think they passed out because of their magic getting drained but I don't know how." Deacon sighs, reaching up to rub his neck as he searches your face. "But, I get the feeling you know something about this already?"

You search his face, then give a short nod.

"There's something odd between Frisk and Asriel, isn't there? I don't get it, but I can feel something's off."

You nod again. "It's..."

"Complicated? Yeah, I think that's the word of the day," Deacon says, and the two of you share a long, quiet look. His wry smile fades, replaced with something sad. "Hope, I'm sorry."

You shake your head, doing your best to ignore the tears stinging in the corners of your eyes. "Sans shouldn't have attacked you," you say.

"It would have been nice. But he was scared and angry. I'm sure putting him in a bubble didn't help," he says and that smile tries to make a reappearance, but it's gone after a moment. "I don't think he's going to forgive me."

"I don't want to talk about that," you mutter, closing the distance between the two of you and reaching for him. Carefully, you wrap him up in a hug, doing your best not to hurt him. "I just want everything to be okay."

"Yeah," he says softly, burying his face in your shoulder. "Me too..."

"So that burn scar, I get the feeling it wasn't a grease fire."

"No."

"What was it?"

"Grant. We were training, and he caught me in the back. Then I got to practice healing myself," he says, holding you tighter as you tense.

"That bastard," you snap.

"Hey," he says, the gentleness of his voice distracting you from your redirected anger. "Thank you, for believing in me. And for telling Bo where I was. Without the two of you... I don't know what might have happened."

"I dunno either. But we don't have to worry about it. And maybe, with Asgore and your, uh... Literatum?" He nods against you and you continue. "Maybe with them working together they can do something about the other mages."

"Maybe," he says, but he doesn't sound very convinced.

   
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