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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144. Half-Truths

There's a pool of water in the center of the tarp stretched over Frisk and Asriel's clubhouse. It's been there since the snow melted, bowing the roof low over their heads. Browned and blackened leaves are rotting away beneath the surface, trapped beneath what used to be ice. The water has turned an unpleasant, cloudy shade of beige and it's starting to smell.

"Can't you, like, turn it all to steam with your magic?" Frisk asks, glancing over at Asriel. They're sitting together on top of the granite boulders, where it's warmer. The spring air is still a bit chilly, and the rocks are heated by the sun.

"It only works like that in video games, not in real life," Asriel says, hunching forward and resting his chin in his hand. "Even if it did, I'd probably melt the tarp."

"Well, until a year ago, I didn't even know magic was real." They lay back, folding their arms behind their head as they look up at the trees. The evergreens are still, well, the same as always, but the others are starting to grow fresh new leaves. Through the spindly branches they can see the pale blue sky, cloudless and clear. "And you don't do much magic, so how am I supposed to know?"

"I don't do much magic because I'm not supposed to mess around with it unsupervised until I'm older," he says, his voice going all quiet and thoughtful.

Frisk nudges him with their knee, making him look back at them. "You're starting to sound like your dad."

"There's worse people to sound like." A little crease forms between Asriel's eyes. "And maybe we both should be better about listening. Our parents know better than we do."

They let out a frustrated noise. "Maybe for you, but nobody knows what to expect from my magic. If it wasn't for Dad, I could mess with it all I wanted and Mom wouldn't even know."

Asriel turns around to look at them, kneeling on the rock beside them. His expression is serious, and Frisk glances away so they don't have to meet his eyes. His frustration is clear enough, echoed inside their Soul, they don't need to look at him to know it. "Frisk, when I had that power, it never did anything like that to me. I mean, I was just a Soulless flower, but when you passed out..." He trails off, that frustration replaced with fear. Frisk bites their lip, guilt twisting in their stomach. "Your Soul felt empty. Like you didn't have any magic left inside of you. The only time I've ever seen anything like that before was when... When Chara's Soul went gray. Right before they died for good."

"I don't wanna just pretend like I don't have this power," they say quietly, worrying their lip between their teeth. "It's mine and I should be able to use it to help people."

"Is it? Yours, I mean," he says, resting his hands on the rock in front of him and leaning over Frisk to try and catch their eye. "You didn't have it before Chara. And they were the one that knew how to use it."

They look at him, pushing up on their elbows and frowning. "You think this magic is Chara's? Then what about you? How did you get it?"

"I don't know," he admits, taking hold of Frisk's hand. He meets their gaze, holds it as his worry washes over them. Asriel is so emotional, sometimes it feels like being buffeted by the ocean. "I had Chara's Soul inside of me when we died. Maybe... whatever Alphys did with all that Determination did something. Maybe it isn't just Determination, but Chara."

"But you have Chara's Soul again."

"Not all of it."

They both fall silent, staring at each other. Frisk feels like they should know something more about this, like someone told them something about their magic. The thought that it isn't really theirs, that they... borrowed it or stole it, it rings true but that doesn't mean they have to like it. It shouldn't make it any less theirs to use. 

"I'm just scared you're going to get hurt again," Asriel whispers, leaning down to hug them.

"I'll be more careful. I'm trying to make Saves every hour, just in case, so I don't go back too far," Frisk says. They shift their weight onto one arm, using the other to hug Asriel back.

The sound of a stick breaking under someone's foot snaps them both to attention, letting each other go as they bolt upright to look for the source. After a few tense seconds where they're both watching the trees, crouched and ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble, they instantly relax at the familiar sight of blonde hair.

"Mr. Stuart?" Frisk calls out, giving Asriel a quick look. He looks just as confused, but his anxiousness is gone.

"Oh, good! You're here!" Mr. Stuart calls back, winding his way through the trees to reach their clubhouse. He raises a hand in greeting, peering up over the boulders. Dressed in jeans and a faded t-shirt, Frisk is still a little taken aback by the sight of their teacher's dark tattoo. They've seen it plenty of times by now, stolen glances at the ravens and lightning. But it's hard to mesh this version of your best friend, the one they see at home, with the teacher at school.

"Were you looking for us?" they ask, crossing their legs and sitting back down, watching him as he comes to a stop at the entrance of their clubhouse.

"How did you know where to find us?" Asriel adds.

"I stumbled across this little hideaway before winter when I was exploring the woods behind the house," he says, running his fingers through his hair and hooking his other hand on the pocket of his jeans as he looks up at them. The boulders are as high as his shoulders. "Mind if I come up?"

The kids share a look. "Uh, sure," Frisk says. "Is everything okay?"

"Just the question I was meaning to ask you," Mr. Stuart says, glancing around for a way up the rocks and circling around behind them. He finds the right stepping stones and hoists himself up to settle down on the boulder next to theirs. "That's better. I didn't see you at school today, since it's Wednesday and all, and I wanted to make sure you were doing all right."

"I'm fine," they say, fidgeting with the ends of their sleeves. This is just weird. Yeah, he doesn't come to their class on Wednesdays, but why did that mean he had to come check on them? Couldn't he just ask you?

"Good, that's good. We'll have to try the zoo some other time," he says, giving them a smile. "Now, uh, did anything happen before you passed out, that you can remember?"

"...No?" Frisk glances over at Asriel again, who looks just as confused as they feel. "Everything just went dark."

"For no reason? You didn't push yourself too hard? Or maybe you weren't feeling good?" Mr. Stuart rests his hands on his knees, giving them a scrutinizing look.

"I, uh, felt a little dizzy after getting off the bus," Frisk lies, latching onto his last question.

"You said you were a little queasy too," Asriel chimes in, and Frisk nods.

Their teacher looks between the two of them, hesitating a little. They wonder if he's caught them in their lie, but if he did he doesn't say so. Instead he gives them a kind smile, shrugging his shoulders. "Well, I just wanted to check on you myself. We were all really worried about you, Frisk. And, uh, if you ever need to talk, I want you to know you can come to me. I'm here."

"Um, okay Mr. Stuart," they say. He's always been nice to them, even got them presents for Christmas and their birthday. Other teachers never did that, and well, he's not exactly just their teacher. Kids don't have their teacher over for dinner on a regular basis. He's more like Undyne now; family friend first, teacher second.

"You can call me Deacon, when we're not at school," he says, giving them an awkward grin. It falters a little. "Uh, if you want. Mr. Stuart is fine too, I don't want it to be weird or anything."

Frisk has the distinct impression that this is already weird. "Okay... um... Deacon," they say, his first name sounding weird in their own voice.

Deacon beams at them. "There you go! Besides, soon enough we're going to be on summer break. I'm sure it'll be a lot of fun. Has your mom—" He cuts himself off, eyes narrowing as he looks down beneath the kids. "Are those my chair cushions?"

It was so long ago Frisk had forgotten! The cushions they'd taken from Deacon's house when it was still vacant, and had tried to take back but then they got caught and had to Load. Guilt and dread drop into the pit of their stomach, and Frisk and Asriel look at one another, slack-jawed.

"We didn't—"

"It was before you—"

"—mean to take them from you!"

"—moved in, they weren't yours yet."

"Whoa, whoa, okay hold on!" Deacon says, holding up his hands and giving them an uneasy smile. Both the kids fall silent, waiting for the inevitable. "Keep them, it's fine! I don't really like them much anyway... Besides, I got rid of the rest of them months ago."

"...You're not mad?" Asriel mumbles, wide-eyed. "Are you going to tell our parents?"

"No, just... don't make a habit of taking stuff from vacant houses." He gives them an uneasy smile. "It'll be our secret."

It's Thursday, one day closer to the weekend, and unfortunately Deacon has to get through a pile of worksheets. He's sitting on Bo's couch, doing his best to focus as she cleans up the kitchen in preparation for cooking later. She had the day off so he came over directly from work, not even going home to change. Hunched over the coffee table with a pen in his hand, he pushes his glasses back up his nose as he struggles to decipher some particularly bad handwriting squeezed into too small of a space.

This is awful. He'd rather be keeping his girlfriend company, hell, helping even. Being here with her, but not actively spending time with her, is distracting and frustrating. But he's done it before. He can do it again, and once these are done he'll be able to give her his undivided attention for the rest of the evening. She's like the carrot dangling in front of his nose, keeping him motivated.

...But how is he supposed to care about the California gold rush when he can hear her humming to herself as she does dishes? 

Nope. No stray thoughts. Gold rush. Claim jumping. Sifting through dirt and rocks and mud for those stray flecks of something shining in the midst of dull earth and water. For something rare, and precious, and possibly life-changing.

Deacon pushes his sleeves back up his arms, past his elbows where they were slipping. Frowning down at the papers under his hand, he goes down a list of multiple choice questions, leaving checks and slashes. At least that part of the worksheet doesn't take too much focus. He doesn't notice the sound of the faucet turning off, or the tapping of hooves against tile and then hardwood until he hears her speak.

"Have I ever told you how sexy you look with your glasses on?" she says, and when he looks up at her she gives him a coy smile. Bo wipes her hands off on the front of her flowing, ruffled skirt, then comes up next to him and brushes his cheek. Her fingers are still damp and warm.

"Maybe once or twice," he answers, grinning as he leans into her touch. Oh, this isn't helping him focus. "Finish cleaning up?"

"Mhm." Leaning over, Deacon catches a glance right down the front of her v-neck shirt before she kisses him. "Everything is ready whenever you are."

"It's a little early for dinner," he mumbles as one of her hands finds the collar of his shirt, loosening his tie.

"It is," she agrees. She tugs, pulling him closer. He cups her cheek and lets out a soft groan. "I might have meant that I'm ready, whenever you are."

"I..." Deacon swallows. "I have papers to grade," he protests weakly.

"Oh, Mr. Stuart," she says, pulling away enough so she can catch his eye, pouting. "Is there anything I can do to get some... extra credit?"

"Oh my god," he says, deadpan. "Bo, please."

Grinning, she pushes him back against the couch, plucking the pen out of his hand and setting it down before crawling into his lap. Shit, he ought to stop her, to tell her to give him a little more time, but—

"I'm willing to do whatever you want to get a good grade," she teases, her skirt hiking up as she straddles him. She tugs his tie the rest of the way off, tossing it aside as she works on the top few buttons of his shirt.

"I feel like having a thing for teachers is something you should have been a little more forthcoming a-ah! about," he stutters as she grazes his ear with her teeth.

"Oh, are you going to put me in detention?"

"D-did you find 'naughty schoolgirl' porn online or something? Because, ah, this whole scenario is like, my worst nightmare," he admits, swallowing. She pulls back to look at him, that amused look on her face gone. "I'm sorry, it's just... I can't even joke around about getting with a student, it's—"

"Shh, baby it's fine," she says, pressing a finger to his mouth. Bo gives him a weak smile, blushing and looking embarrassed. "One of the girls at work was just teasing me about you being a teacher... You do look really sexy sitting here all dressed for work, grading papers..."

"Is that what does it for you?" he asks, relieved that she's not upset. He relaxes a little back against the couch. "Red pens and sweater vests?"

"And glasses—"

"Oh, of course. Can't forget those," he murmurs, cupping the back of her head and pulling her back down to kiss him. She melts against him, one hand on his now-exposed throat.

"I... Deacon." The seriousness in her tone makes him let her go, resting his hands on her thighs as she straightens back up again. Glancing away, it takes a moment before she meets his eyes. "Is this okay?"

He blinks. "Is what okay?"

"Me interrupting you. You were busy, and I just climbed onto your lap anyway," she says, looking apologetic.

"What? Of course it's okay," he blurts out with a weak laugh. "Bo, I was spending the whole time thinking about how much I'd rather be doing this right here."

"I just worry now that you're not telling me when something's bothering you."

Deacon has to resist the impulse to let out a frustrated sigh, or frown. Instead he just blinks. This again? "How could this bother me?"

"How am I supposed to know?" she asks, covering his hands with her own. "When you won't even tell me when you're bored with a show?"

He tries to remind himself of what you and Sans told him. That she's acting this way because she cares about him and his happiness. But seriously, what does his happiness matter compared to hers? He's used to not being put first (who was ever there to put him first, anyway?) so he doesn't mind prioritizing her wants. Her needs. Her everything

Why can't she be happy with him wanting her to be happy?

"Sorry, I'm sure you don't want to have this conversation again," she says, sighing and looking down between them. Bo tries to ease away, to get back onto her feet but he catches her, holds her close.

"I don't want to fight," he says, and there's a moment of silence between them that he's not sure how to take.

"Okay, then no fighting," she agrees, giving him a weak, lopsided smile. After a second her smile brightens. "I swapped shifts tomorrow with Tabby, so I'll be working breakfast and lunch. I'll be home before dinner, so you won't have to wait around for me to get off."

He returns her smile, relieved at the change in conversation. This is better. Things are better like this. "Sounds like a great way to start the weekend."

   
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