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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170. Not Alone

Asgore has spent much of the last few days with Toriel and Asriel. Where once his presence would be... not unwelcome but certainly not encouraged, now it seems to him as though his wife is glad for his company. He is hesitant to place that merit upon himself, however. He is certain that it is largely due to the steadily growing pressure of having the Line once again closed to them. It is the gradual squeeze of their cage bringing them closer together. He resents it even as he is glad for the time with his family.

The days are filled with attempts at negotiations with Captain Jacobs or his subordinates, which are as fruitless as they are frustrating. He misses Captain Prasad and her curt, often harsh honesty. At least he always knew where he stood with her. But this Jacobs… he cannot fathom the depths of his duplicity.

The evenings, however, are a source of small joys. Dinner with his wife and son. Careful, cautious words with Toriel as he gingerly tests where he stands with her. Some nights are easier than others; she does not have the walls quite so high around her heart. His hopes of winning her back, of regaining her trust, are small and fragile. Shattered and rebuilt many times over the last year. But he cannot bring himself to give up. Not completely. She will always have a place in his Soul.

This Friday night, almost a week since the Line was closed once more, Asgore feels somber and withdrawn. He does his best to keep a positive face in front of Asriel, to make sure that his son does not slip into hopelessness. Being separated from Frisk is especially hard on him, which is worrying. Losing Chara had made him do the unspeakable. Taking their Soul, crossing the Barrier… that choice had been made out of heartbreak. What would Asriel be capable of if he lost Frisk too?

He and Toriel have spoken on that topic only once, and as with other things where Asriel is concerned, she refuses to dwell on it. She could barely even speak of their adopted child.

But, this night, Asgore’s fears do not lie with his son or his wife. They rest firmly in the iron grip of the military, clenched in Captain Jacobs’s fist. Toriel can tell that something is bothering him. It always surprises him, how attentive she is to his moods despite their separation, but he supposes that after hundreds of years spent together, their time apart could not diminish her knowledge of him. She watches him over dinner, plies him with tea whenever his cup empties, encourages Asriel to sit with him after they finish eating.

Asriel splits his attention between his father and his cell phone, sending messages to Frisk no doubt. He does not mind; if that is what it takes to keep his son from doing something rash, he will tolerate it. He understands the importance of keeping that line of communication open to them.

Toriel acquiesces to his silent request to take his son to his room at bedtime, does not intrude when he sits down to read to him and tucks him in. He realizes, all at once, how much bigger Asriel is than he was just a year ago. His birthday is coming up soon (he hopes, silently, that you and Frisk will have returned to them in time for it) and he will be eight. Or… he is not certain how all of this works exactly. He knows that Asriel spent some time as a Soulless flower, and he had been —no, he must not skirt around it— dead for so long…

No, in this regard he will agree with his wife: that does not matter. Asriel is here now, hale and hearty, and it is simpler to think of his age in terms of his time properly alive.

He will be eight soon.

“Dad?” Asriel asks, and he realizes that he was staring, lost in his thoughts as he strokes his son’s head.

Asgore forces a smile, leaning down to press a kiss to his brow and nuzzle his cheek. “Forgive me,” he says. “I was just thinking of how much you have grown. Soon you will be a fine young man.”

Asriel’s snout scrunches, looking embarrassed. “Daaad…”

Chuckling, he pushes back up to his feet. “Get some sleep, little one. Who knows what tomorrow may bring for us.”

“Do you think it’ll be something good?” he asks, his voice soft and hesitant. It pains him to hear his son so afraid to hope.

“We will just have to see,” he says. “Goodnight Asriel.”

He mumbles his goodnights and rolls over onto his side as Asgore shuts off the light and closes the door behind him. He wishes he could promise his son a better tomorrow.

Toriel is waiting for him when he returns to the living room, sitting on the oversized couch instead of her normal spot in the rocking chair. She gestures to the place next to her, following him with her eyes as he obeys her silent command. Concern furrows her brow, her fingers twist in her lap, and worry radiates from her very core. The hum of her Soul strengthens at his presence, and the normally muted tone of their harmony seems to swell just a little as he reaches for her and she takes his hand.

“You are worried,” she says, searching his face. “More worried than you have been these last few days. What has changed, Asgore?”

“I spoke with Captain Jacobs.”

“You have spoken with Jacobs every day for almost a week,” she reminds him, her fingers curling around his palm.

“I do not think they intend to reopen the Line soon,” he says, hanging his head. His hair falls in front of his face, shielding his eyes. “Not unless I submit to certain requests.”

“...Like what?” Her voice is just above a whisper, traced with fear. She has her suspicions, and he thinks that she is most likely correct.

“You do realize that asking is merely a courtesy? All it takes is enough shift in opinion for them to give the order to lock this entire place down and start doing things by force. It would make things easier on everyone if you just accepted the inevitable.”

Asgore closes his eyes, letting out a weary sigh as he tries to banish Jacobs’s predatory smile from his mind. “What they have wanted from the start: monsters as weapons in their military. Captain Prasad was kind enough to help me delay the interest, to speak to her superiors on our behalf. I had hoped that the entire matter had been settled. But this Jacobs, he is coming at this with his teeth bared.”

“Is that why they have us trapped here? To try and force your hand?” Toriel asks, leaning in closer, keeping her voice canted low. It would not do well to have Asriel overhear them.

Nodding, he raises his head and meets her eyes again. “His thinly veiled ultimatum was clear enough, Tori. Either I convince some of us to submit to their authority, or they will be conscripted against their will. And I fear that if it comes to that, there will be violence.”

“Can they do this? Can things go so wrong so quickly?” She shakes her head, her question clearly rhetorical. He allows her the time to gather her thoughts, to collect herself. He had always valued her guidance and counsel, leaned on her for generations (until she was gone). The look on her face is a familiar one, the clear sign of her mind turning this new puzzle over and over. “What did you tell him?”

“That I needed time to consider, to speak with those I thought might be more willing…” He bares his teeth in a weak, futile show of defiance. “A blatant lie, but necessary for the time being.”

“Of course,” she says, and her agreement is reassuring.

“They have us pinned ,” he snaps, low and angry. “Trapped against this wall just like before. They give us a choice as if we have one, knowing full well that as long as they have us stuck right here that they can take whatever they wish. He is laying the freedom of my people at my feet and asking me to crush it beneath my heel in the name of peace and protection! Instead of a cage they offer a leash and collar.”

“We cannot fight back.”

“I know,” he says, and the look he gives her is pleading. “But I cannot stall them forever.”

Toriel catches his cheek, her gaze firm and stubborn. “Now you listen to me, Asgore Dreemurr. Do not give in. Do not falter. You are the king of all monsters, and you need to remember that your people look to you for their strength.”

“I am so weary of this fight, Tori,” he says, leaning a little into her touch. “I am alone in the midst of enemies that were once allies.”

“You are not alone,” she says, firm yet tender in the same breath. Then she leans in close, still cupping his face in her hand as she kisses his cheek. It is enough to send a wild thrill of hope through his chest, but he quickly restrains it. Now is not the time to wish for her back, to try and turn his head to kiss her properly and risk sending her running away again. If this is ever to happen, if she is ever to return to him, it will be on her terms. He knows this. He accepts it. He does not deserve her after what he has done, but he will always be waiting. She lets out a soft sigh and pulls back, dropping her hand away and folding it in her lap. The look she gives him is conflicted. “I… I am not…”

“I know,” he says quickly, hiding his disappointment behind a careful smile. “But I am glad to know that you are by my side. As an ally.”

Toriel nods, looking down at her hand in his. “We have not always been in agreement. Which is an understatement of the highest degree,” she says, giving him a small squeeze. “But I know that everything you have done has always been what you thought was best for our people. I trust your intentions, if not always your methods. I will not…” She hesitates, clenching her jaw before meeting his eyes again. “I will not abandon you again. I will tell you when you are wrong, I will stand up to you. But I will not run.”

He wants to kiss her. He wants to kiss her so badly that it makes him ache, but he cannot. It would ruin this hard-won peace between them and that would hurt worse than not kissing her. So instead Asgore just nods, looking anywhere but at her face in case she can see his thoughts plain in his eyes. He would not be surprised if she could. “That means more than I think you know,” he says, his voice rough with suppressed emotion.

“Stay determined, for your people,” she says. “Stall them as long as you can. Because I believe that our friends are up to more than they are letting on. I cannot imagine that Sans is staying idle while Hope and Frisk are kept from us.”

“He should not be taking it upon himself to act,” he says, grumbling. “But I am certain you are right, as unwise as his course of action may be.”

“He is young and in love. It is not his place to be wise. That is for old people like us,” she says, and they both let out weak laughs.

Feeling reassured, Asgore lets out a weary sigh and glances up at the clock. “Well, perhaps it would be wise to go home. It is getting late, and I am afraid I am merely intruding on your hospitality at this point.”

As he goes to stand, to free his hand from hers, she holds him tighter, keeping him on the couch. When he looks at her, surprised, she looks once again conflicted. Frowning, he thinks, at herself. “It is Friday. Asriel and I do not have school in the morning, so you should stay. Could stay,” she corrects, glancing away and letting him go. “Asriel would be happy to see you here when he wakes up. The guest room is yours to use.”

He swallows, watching her as her expression falters. “Are you certain?” he asks.

Toriel makes a face, giving him an almost annoyed look. “No. But I do not think that our family should be parted with our future so uncertain, do you?”

His smile is tender as he studies her face, and after a moment her features soften and he could swear that a tinge of pink spreads under her pristine fur.

“Do not give me that look, Dreemurr, or I will offer you little more than the couch,” she says, sniffing and raising her snout in the air.

Asgore laughs, and he catches the hint of a smile on her face. “Forgive me. I would like very much to be with the two of you as long as I am welcome.”

“You can make breakfast in the morning, by means of an apology.”

The future is uncertain, just how long he can delay what might be the inevitable he does not know… But for now he will take comfort in sharing this space with his family. Because who knows what the days to come will hold for them.

   
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