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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77. Haunted

"I needed that power-up!"

"You can get the next one."

"Frisk, I'm going to end up dying now!"

"Well just be more careful, then."

You can hear the kids fighting in the living room all the way in the kitchen. Normally Asriel just sleeps in Frisk's room but you wonder if he's going to end up in the guest room after all this. When was the last time you washed those sheets?

Making yourself some tea to help get you through the last few hours of the evening, you stir in some milk and put the jug back in the fridge. For a moment you debate offering the kids some ice cream just to distract them from bickering. But do you really want to give them sugar right now? You think it'll just make things worse.

When you make your way back into the living room, Sans is trying his best to focus on the book in his hands but you can see he's having trouble by the tension in his jaw. He glances up at you as you approach, a pleading look in his eyes. As if you have the ability to diffuse the situation. You've been wracking your brain trying to come up with some way to do just that, but aside from sending Asriel home to his parents you can't think of anything. You're not even sure that separating them is the best thing to do. It might be good for a set of ordinary kids, but Asriel and Frisk are far from ordinary.

Setting your tea down on the end table to cool down for a little bit, you take a seat next to Sans. "If you want you can go upstairs, I'll stay down here to make sure they don't murder each other," you say softly, stroking his arm.

"tempting, but i'll stay here with you," he mutters, looking back down at the book and turning the page. He's been working his way through your collection of fantasy novels, having already finished up your meager selection of sci-fi. You'd always been more partial to magic and mythology, not that you ever thought you'd get caught up in the middle of it. "how can i complain to you about how wrong all the magic is in these books if i'm up there?"

Rolling your eyes, you give him a lopsided smirk. "In my —and humanity's— defense, we didn't realize that magic was real. Or at least, not in the right way."

Sans makes a noncommittal noise somewhere low in his chest, rumbling next to you. Well, he's back in the book zone, no point in trying to talk to him now.

"We're supposed to be working together!" Asriel says, hunching his shoulders. The fur on the back of his neck is standing on end, hackles raising like a dog's. "Stop going so far ahead without me, I'm going to—"

"Then just keep up! Ignore the bad guys and let me kill them," Frisk says, focused on the game and somehow oblivious to their friend's frustration.

Chewing the inside of your lip, you shift on the couch. "Maybe you two should—"

"AUGH! Frisk, I told you I was going to die!" Asriel shoves the controller away from him, letting it fall to the rug he and Frisk are sitting on. He crosses his arms tightly over his chest, glaring.

"And I told you not to fight any of the bad guys!"

"They were ganging up on me, I couldn't get away! If you had let me get that power up earlier—!"

"It's not my fault you died!"

Asriel bolts up to his feet, balling his hands into fists and baring his teeth down at Frisk. "You didn't help me! Quit being such an idiot!"

There's a beat of stunned silence and a chill runs down your spine. Then, you're up from the couch a moment after Sans, pushing your way in front of him and meeting his eyes. The sockets are dark, the lights so dim you can barely make them out, his mouth pulled tight into a grimace. You stare at each other for a moment, a crackle of blue dancing around the fingers of his raised left hand before he drops it to his side. He's scared, you feel it too because how could you not feel Flowey's presence just as much as he did? But as you hear Asriel start to cry, you know you made the right choice in stopping Sans.

Sans nods and draws in a steadying breath and you take that as your sign to check on Asriel. He's standing there with his hands wrapped around his ears, crying.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it!" he says, pleading. Shaking his head, he covers his eyes. "Please, I'm not... I'm not him anymore!"

The desperation in his voice makes your heart ache. You kneel on the ground and go to reach for Asriel to pull him into a hug, but Frisk beats you to it. They put one hand on his chest, over his Soul you think, and throw the other arm around his shoulders. Asriel lets go of his ears to take hold of Frisk, burying his face in their shoulder as he cries.

"You're not him," Frisk says, hugging him close. "You're Asriel, my best friend."

"I'm sorry," Asriel sobs. He clutches tight to the back of Frisk's shirt.

"I'm sorry, too." Frisk is sniffling, and you can feel most of the tension in the air start to lift. Whatever had the two of them at each other's throats finally broke.

"Asriel, sweetheart," you say softly, waiting for him to rest his chin on Frisk's shoulder, blinking up at you with wide, wet eyes. He's so timid, you reach out to stroke his head, running your fingers through the soft tufts of white fur. "You know that you can talk to us, right? If there's anything that's bothering you. We care about you. You've been through so much and you don't have to deal with it all on your own. You've got me, and you've got Frisk. And you've even got Sans."

"I know," Asriel says in a quiet voice, relaxing his grip on Frisk so he can wipe his eyes.

You wonder if you should press more, try to get Asriel to open up to you. Maybe he's afraid to talk to his parents. But he doesn't say any more and he looks so sodden and pathetic that you can't bring yourself to make him feel even worse. With a weak smile, you stroke both their heads and then give them soft pats on their shoulders.

"Why don't the two of you go get ready for bed? It's been a long, stressful day and I'm sure you're both tired," you say.

Surely seeing this as their chance to escape having to talk to you about what just happened, Frisk takes Asriel's hand and leads them upstairs. You watch them go, feeling a little... excluded. You realize that you'll never understand the bond between those two, or ever be able to compare. You wonder, not for the first time, how much their bond might be hurting them, just as much as it helps.

Sans watches the kids climb up the stairs, passing the ever-growing collection of family photos decorating the stairwell. Seven months worth, and then some. There's a few pictures that survived his and Papyrus's childhoods, not to mention a few from yours and Frisk's. He itches to call Frisk and Asriel back where he can keep an eye on them, but he resists. It's hard to let them go.

He almost let his own shock and fear get the better of him. That's not like him, not at all. If you hadn't been there to catch him, he's not sure what he might have done. Something stupid, probably. But hearing those words come out of Asriel's mouth had been like the other shoe dropping, proof that all of this on the surface, even with its challenges, was all too good to be true. It was like being in the Underground, trapped and powerless... But no. He was just overreacting. He's still overreacting. It takes him a second to realize that you're watching him as he stares at the empty stairwell, too wrapped up in his own head to see that he's worrying you.

"He's not Flowey," you say, and he's not sure if you're talking to him or yourself. Or both.

"i know," he says, lowering himself back onto the edge of the couch.

You're still on the floor so you crawl back over to him, sitting cross-legged and resting your chin on his knee. "I don't think it was Chara either. I... I watched them die, that Soul lost all its color," you say, wrapping your arms around his legs as you look up at him.

He hadn't even considered that. He was so caught up in the idea of Flowey, the person Asriel was at his absolute worst, that he didn't even stop to think that the prince has the fragments of Chara, fucking Chara, as their base. You don't understand the implications of that, who Chara really is. The kid that took over Frisk's body and killed so many people, including his brother, over and over again. They might have helped Frisk unlock their memories (memories they themselves had locked away in the first place, according to Frisk) and Load to save you. Helped you and Frisk stand against Asriel and thus shatter the Barrier, but that didn't make up for everything else. Not to him. Chara was the true root of all his worst nightmares, and that isn't something he can just forgive. But he can't explain any of that to you without delving into things he and Frisk agreed not to tell you. You saw Chara and Asriel as broken, hurting children, and he's not sure that anything he might be able to say will change that. He's not sure he wants to.

But if Asriel has Chara's Soul, what was left behind after they chose to help all of you, he can't imagine it's affecting the prince's behavior. At least, not in the way he's afraid of. 

Sighing, he shakes his head. "no, like you said, chara's gone for good." Thankfully, he thinks to himself.

"Sans," you say carefully, like you're worried you're going to upset him. He looks down at you and runs his hand through your hair, eliciting a fleeting smile as you lean into his touch. "Sans, I think that it was just Asriel. Asriel under a lot of pressure, and very upset, but just him. You can't keep expecting the worst from him, it's not fair."

You say that like he's worrying because he wants to. Like he can just decide that everything is fine. He knows you're right, but it's just not that simple. It's easier to just agree though. With a small nod, he sighs and slouches against the back of the couch. "i know, babe," he says.

You climb up onto the couch beside him and he lifts his arm so you can tuck yourself in against his side. It feels good, to have your head on his shoulder, needing to be close to him just like he needs to be close to you. It's a little thing, but it calms and comforts him. He relaxes, just a little, and wraps his arms around you.

"You had me worried there for a minute," you admit. "It's been a while since I've seen you like that."

"i wasn't gonna let anything happen to you or frisk, no matter what," he says.

"Don't say that," you say, pulling back to look at him, your brow furrowed. "Don't talk like Asriel is an enemy. He's Frisk's best friend, family even."

He wishes he had your blind faith in the kid, he really does. He tries to pull you back against him, wishing you would just let this go, but you resist. You sit there, tensed against him and frowning. "i'm not saying he's an enemy, babe. i just... got spooked, alright? i saw the look on your face, you were just as worried as i was."

"But I wasn't getting ready to attack anyone," you hiss, low like you're afraid someone is going to hear you. Your eyes dart to the still-empty stairwell.

Sans sighs, biting back sharp words in favor of trying to placate you. There's no winning here, for either of you. All he can do is try to cut this off before it gets worse. "you're right, and i'm glad you stopped me," he says, because it's true. He almost acted without thinking and that scares him a little. "i'm sorry."

You look a little taken aback, like you were expecting more of an argument from him. But at the same time you seem relieved; he knows you hate confrontation, even though you had no problem standing up to those monsters at Grillby's earlier. When it comes to standing up for the kids, you've got just as much determination as Frisk. It's part of what he loves about you.

After a moment of studying his face, you let him pull you back down to his shoulder, stroking your back. It's only after a few minutes of silence pass that you bolt upright with an exclamation of, "My tea!"

It's been an hour since the fight, teeth have been brushed and goodnights have been said to you and Sans. Tucked under the covers, Frisk and Asriel lay in bed facing each other, a hand over the other's heart. Their eyes are shining from the moonlight filtering in through the window and they're looking at each other, silent.

Frisk doesn't need to speak to know how scared and sorry Asriel still feels. They can feel it echoed in their chest, their own regret mingling with his and growing bigger, filling more of the space in their heads. Covering his hand with their free one, they give Asriel a weak smile in an attempt to be reassuring. It's not strong enough to pass through their connection, though. Only the most powerful feelings can do that.

They know he's been like this since the conference, and then it got worse at Grillby's, but they're not sure why. All they know is that they've been feeling his frustration and anxiousness all day, which only made their own worse when they snapped at you. And maybe, because they were mad too, they just made Asriel feel worse at the same time. Frisk doesn't like that, the thought of making anything harder on him. They're almost certain that Asriel feels the same way about them, now that they're thinking about it.

"This is hard," Asriel whispers, blinking and rubbing his eyes. "The Soul stuff, I mean."

"I was just thinking that," Frisk whispers back.

"I kinda thought so."

"Yeah."

"...Frisk?"

"Yeah?"

Asriel fidgets a little, pinching Frisk's pajamas between his fingers. His hand is warm against their chest and they squeeze it. "The rest of this stuff is hard too. Being a prince again, trying to be there for my parents... I'm not sure I want to do it. I don't think I should." His face scrunches up, staring at his hand on Frisk's chest instead of looking them in the eye. "I remember what I did when I had power before. I'm not sure I should get any more. I made a lot of bad choices."

"That wasn't your fault. Flowey wasn't really you, you were... you were hollow, and now you're not any more," Frisk says stubbornly. They've had this argument a hundred times now, and they hope that one day Asriel will finally listen. But they know that this isn't it, even as they say the words.

"I'll stop blaming myself for what Flowey did if you stop blaming yourself for what Chara did," Asriel says, blowing air out his nose.

Biting their lip, Frisk doesn't say anything.

"Your mom keeps asking me to talk to her, but she's never going to understand all the horrible things we've done."

"I don't want her to," they say, frowning.

"Yeah..." Asriel shifts a little, trying to get more comfortable.

"You could talk to Sans though. He understands." Frisk pulls their hand away as Asriel rolls onto his back with a sigh, breaking their contact.

"Maybe," he says begrudgingly, though Frisk is sure he won't do it. Not unless he was desperate. "But I think he's just as messed up as we are."

Frisk shifts onto their back too, staring up at the shadows on the ceiling. Silence fills the room, save for the distant sound of wind rustling through the trees outside. They feel calm again, they both do. After a few minutes of listening to each other's breathing, Frisk feels Asriel's hand seek theirs out under the covers. They lace their fingers together and don't notice that they're breathing in sync.

"I heard some of the monsters talking bad about my dad at Grillby's," Asriel whispers to the ceiling. "They think he's keeping things like this on purpose. Because he's afraid. But he's not. They're lying about him."

"Maybe they're the ones that're afraid."

"I think they're just angry."

"Lots of people get angry when they're scared. Mom does. You did." Frisk glances over at Asriel right as he turns to look at them. Their eyes meet.

"Your mom does too?"

Frisk nods, giving Asriel a conspiratorial grin. "You should have heard her cuss at Mettaton..."

   
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