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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104. November

It's November.

Technically it's been November all day, but it's just now starting to sink in. October, Halloween, all the long hours working on that damn festival, it's finally over.

What you fail to remember, at this moment, is that Halloween is just the beginning.

Papyrus left with Undyne, and Deacon went home shortly after breakfast to grade some tests he'd been putting off. So when Toriel brings Frisk home, it's just you and Sans alone in the house. He's napping on the couch and you're folding laundry on the floor, mostly ignoring the soft sound of the television playing in the background. Frisk flings their arms around you from behind, kissing your offered cheek as you smile. (You made sure to change into a shirt with a collar before Frisk got home.)

"Hey sweetie," you say softly, cupping their cheek and kissing them back. "Did you have a good night?"

"Yeah," Frisk says simply, refusing to elaborate.

As they start to pull away you put your arm out to catch them, pulling them around to stand in front of you. You give them a now-practiced 'serious mom' face that you never could have managed just a few months ago. "How are you holding up?"

"I'm okay." They fidget with the sleeve of their sweater and rub their elbow.

"Your arm feel okay?" you ask, touching the arm in question.

Frisk nods. "Yeah. Grandma checked it last night and used her magic to make me feel better."

You raise your hand from their arm to their face, brushing hair from their eyes. "And how's Asriel?"

They look away, raising a hand to their chest. "Mostly okay."

You're not going to get anything worthwhile out of Frisk this way. With everything that happened last night you're not surprised that they're being a little cagey, not that it stops you from feeling frustrated about it. But if you push any more they're just going to pull away. You grab the piles of Frisk's laundry and stack them into the basket, handing it to them.

"Okay, why don't you go put your clothes away? Then come back downstairs and you can help me pick out what you want for dinner," you say, smiling.

Giving you a smile in return, you feel a little better as you watch Frisk hurry off towards the stairs. Toriel is waiting patiently in the foyer. As Frisk disappears from your sight she walks over to kneel beside you, tucking her skirt under her legs. Without speaking, she starts helping you fold what's left of your pile. If it were anyone else you'd be embarrassed, but this is just how she is. You've given up on polite refusal of her help.

Her presence is comforting. She has this motherly air about her, something that, months ago, intimidated you even as it soothed you. Now it's welcoming, like a warm embrace. Peaceful, even. You look over at her as she deftly folds one of Sans's t-shirts, and after a moment you lean to the side to rest your head against her arm.

Toriel sets the shirt in her lap and reaches to envelop your hand in hers. The two of you sit in silence for a moment, save for the soft voices coming from the television.

"Mom," you say, the word still feeling a little foreign on your tongue. You don't always call her that. It's times when you need her to take on that role for you that you use the title. Or sometimes, like last night and right now, when you think she needs to hear it. "How are you doing?"

She lets out a soft sigh, and you feel her body sag a little against you. "Better than last night. It is kind of you to ask, my child."

"And Asriel?"

"Having Frisk with him was a comfort, I know that much. But..." Toriel squeezes your hand. "He has been through so much. Sometimes I forget, choose to forget, and that is not fair to him. To answer your question, though, he is much better. Still a little shaken, perhaps, but he will be fine."

"You've been through a lot too," you say, sitting upright again so you can look her in the eye.

She looks tired, and you wonder if she got much sleep last night. It makes you feel guilty, considering how your own night went. You'd been so wrapped up in how upset Sans had been, and then the rings, and then, well, after the rings, that you'd just taken comfort in the fact that Frisk was with Toriel. It wouldn't have done anyone any good for you to sit around worrying, but part of you feels bad that you didn't.

Letting go of your hand and picking up the shirt in her lap, she resumes her folding. You watch her for a moment and decide to do the same. "I still cannot fully comprehend what happened to Asriel," she says, and though you can't tell her, you know that feeling so well. "But I know that he is back. Only, he is not the same child I remember. I am not certain if that is because my memories are flawed or because of his new Soul, but some part of me cannot stop mourning the child I lost."

You don't know what to say. Her words ring with an admission of guilt, and your heart aches for her. How horrible must she feel, to love the son she has now, but also yearn for the one she remembers? You wonder if Asgore feels the same way.

Biting your lip, you stare down at the shirt in your hands. "Getting him back isn't going to undo all the time you spent grieving for him."

She nods, and lets out a soft sigh. "Forgive me, I did not mean to speak of such sad things. I would much rather put it behind us." Straightening a stack of shirts, she straightens herself and clears her throat. "Frisk asked me about something curious this morning."

Glancing over at her, you see her doing her best to smile. You do the same. "Oh? And what was that?"

"Something about Thanksgiving? They asked me if we would be doing anything for the holiday," she says, frowning a little. "Though after Halloween, I admit that I have my reservations..."

"Oh! No, Thanksgiving is just a day most people spend at home with their families, having a big turkey dinner and taking a long weekend from work. It's nothing like Halloween," you say, smiling at the look of relief on her face.

"I think that perhaps we ought to go over a calendar and sort through all these human holidays," she says with a soft laugh.

"That's probably a good idea. Especially since this is the beginning of the holiday season..."

It's Wednesday. Hump day, a tiny voice in the back of your mind says, reminding you of the two years you spent waitressing. Not that any of your coworkers called it that, it's not like a restaurant has a middle of the work week. No, it was the customers, the ones dressed in business casual and joking about ordering cocktails on their lunch breaks.

None of your coworkers now call it that either. It's just not a term in the monster vocabulary, you guess.

But apparently it's in Deacon's.

'Hump day! Meet me in the parking lot, I want to blow this popsicle stand for lunch.'

You give Leveretta a small wave as you trail after the kids flooding out of the classroom, headed for lunch themselves. The monster's long, hare ears swivel in your direction as she waves back. Things have been pretty normal at school, despite the incident on Halloween. You've caught some of the teachers talking about it, but they discuss it like any other rumor or interesting story that gets passed around this place. Though, you guess that when it comes down to it, all it was was some teenagers being jerks. 

You find Deacon outside, leaning against his car with an autumn breeze ruffling through his hair. He's so photogenic it's disgusting. You can't help but laugh as he glances over at you and raises his hand in greeting.

"What?" he asks you as you approach, pulling down his sunglasses to peer at you over the top of the frames.

You shake your head, grinning. "Just you, standing there like you're so cool."

"I am cool," he says, winking and pushing his glasses back up. He pats the roof of his car, making a hollow metallic sound. "How can I not be cool with Sylvie here?"

"Deacon I hate to break it to you, but I think that car is older than both of us combined," you say, laughing. "I can drive us, where are we going?"

"She's aged beautifully, how dare you imply otherwise. And no way, you've been resisting Sylvie's charms for too long, I insist that I drive." He opens the passenger side door for you, making an exaggerated sweeping motion with his arm to steer you inside. "And, uh, I still don't know the area that well so wherever you want to go."

Of course you've been resisting riding in Sylvie —the car, when did you start thinking about her, it, by name? The old thing looks like a rolling deathtrap. With a quick glance inside, you can only be thankful that he put covers over the seats so you won't be sitting on forty-plus years of whatever might have happened in this car. You open your mouth to protest again, but with one look at the earnest expression on Deacon's face you know you can't do it. With a sigh of resignation, you watch his face light up as you take a seat.

"Watch your fingers and toes, I have to slam the door to keep it shut," he says, making you rethink your decision. Once he sees that your extremities are safely inside, he flings the door shut with a loud bang that makes you jump, wincing. Oh no, this was a terrible idea. You can't help ducking your head and raising your hand over your face, heart pounding as your nerves light up in anticipation. For a split second you wait for raised voices that never come.

"Sorry, I know that was loud," Deacon says, his voice muffled by the car. "Everything okay?"

Balling your hands into fists, you shove them into your lap, willing yourself to give him a weak smile. "Yeah, sorry I'm fine."

You take a deep, steadying breath as he circles around to the driver's side, already feeling your pulse start to slow as he climbs inside. You're fine, no one is slamming any doors out of anger. As Deacon pulls his keys out of his pocket you take in your surroundings. The roof liner is missing, leaving you staring up at bare metal. The seats are so worn down you can feel the individual springs behind your back even through the cover. As the engine rumbles to life he reaches over to fiddle with a much newer stereo system that doesn't match the worn interior at all.

"So, where would you like to go?" he asks, left foot seeking out the clutch as, with practiced motions, he shifts the car into gear. You're rolling slowly out of the parking space as he glances over at you.

"Um, have you been to Grillby's yet?" you ask, because really, where else is there?

"What, you mean the bar down the street? I was thinking someplace downtown." There's only a handful of cars in the parking lot, but he follows the marked lanes anyway as he heads to the main road. The monsters can get special permits to drive, but not many of them have taken advantage of it. They're used to walking —or flying, in rare cases.

"I mean, if you want to—"

"No, no, if you want to do Grillby's that's fine with me. I've just never been there before. Is the food good?"

"Okay forget the food, why didn't you tell me about the hot bartender? Uh, no pun intended," Deacon says, stopping in his tracks. You have to push him inside so you can close the door.

"Trust me, I've heard them all. And so has Grillby, ad nauseam." You lead the way to a pair of stools at the bar, the usual ones you and Sans take when the two of you are alone. You sit in Sans's normal seat, pointing Deacon to yours. "They're old friends from the Underground."

Grillby comes to greet you, surprising you by reaching out for your hand where it's resting on the counter. His hands are hot but not unbearably so, and softer than you'd imagined. He adjusts his glasses, sliding his fingers under your palm and bringing —oh he's looking at your ring!— it closer to his face. Smiling, you wait for him to finish studying it. Looking up and returning your smile, his face brightens for a moment in a show of happiness. Then, he pats the back of your hand and lets you go.

"Did Sans tell you?" you ask him, looking down at your hand and back up again.

He nods.

"I think he's told more people than I have. He's so proud of himself, it's adorable," you say, eliciting a soft, crackly laugh from the fire elemental.

Grillby gives Deacon a questioning look, and as you look at your friend you realize he's staring. You tap him on the shoulder, making him jump. "Huh? Oh! Hi, I'm Deacon," he says, holding out his hand and turning on that winning smile.

You try not to laugh as Grillby just stands there, looking at his hand. "He moved in about a month ago, next door to us. Uh... did Sans mention him to you?"

Nodding, he takes hold of Deacon's hand and gives him a polite shake. The bartender gives him a scrutinizing look, not letting go for a moment. Then, without a word, he releases Deacon and looks at you.

"The usual for me," you say, recognizing the questioning expression.

"Uh, what's your usual?" Deacon asks you, and you're amused to see his ears turning pink.

"Burger and fries. Coke to drink."

"I'll have the same thing. Do you make the food yourself?" he asks, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the bar.

Grillby nods, smoothing down the front of his vest.

That winning smile is back on Deacon's face. "I can't wait to try it."

You have to resist the urge to hide behind your hands, even as Grillby lets off a tiny shower of sparks and walks off to the kitchen. Waiting until the fire elemental is through the door, you give your friend an agonized look. "What was that?"

"What was what?" he asks innocently.

"Didn't you just get Burgerpants's number like, on Saturday? Which, by the way, Burgerpants?" you counter, beyond bewildered.

"First off, he seems like a very nice —if not a little strange— guy. Clearly someone thinks so because, secondly, it seems like someone beat me to him. I called him yesterday and he turned me down because he started seeing someone," Deacon says with a wry smile. Well, he certainly doesn't seem heartbroken over it. "Do you know him?"

You hope that the someone who scooped Burgerpants up was the Nice Cream guy. He'd seemed a little upset when Deacon was flirting with him, so maybe that had given him the motivation to finally make his intentions clear. Maybe you should stop by the MTT Resort and ask Bo about it sometime...

"We've met," you say, pursing your lips. "And Burgerpants aside, now you're making eyes at Grillby?"

"I make eyes at everyone. I'm making eyes at you right now," he says, batting his lashes playfully.

Barking out a laugh, you shove his arm and he rocks away from you, grinning. "Fine, do whatever you want. After that fiasco with Muffet I'm sure you're in need of a good lay."

Deacon lets out a soft gasp. "How vulgar. Listen to you, aren't you somebody's mother?"

"You know very well that I'm not some innocent little flower," you retort, rolling your eyes.

"Yes, please, do tell me more," he says. He grins and leans towards you. "One of these days I'm going to find out exactly how that whole thing works, with him being a skeleton."

You arch a brow. "Why are you so curious? Should I be worried? Maybe Sans was wrong about which one of us you were really after. Clearly you're trying to figure out if you can bone Sans."

Deacon's face twists into a look of horror, pulling away from you as you laugh at him. "No thank you, you can keep him and your little secrets all to yourself," he says, shaking his head vehemently.

Grillby returns just in time to see Deacon shaking his head while you try to stifle your giggles. Your friend tries to catch his eye again but he wanders off towards the other end of the bar, much to Deacon's disappointment. The two of your start eating, which lifts his spirits back up as he tastes the food.

You share an amiable silence until, your burger finished, you start picking at your pile of fries.

"So we're getting Thanksgiving off now," you say conversationally.

He balks, eyebrows shooting up. "Wait, we weren't getting Thanksgiving off?"

"Yeah, Tori didn't know any better. We actually went over all the holidays on Sunday so she could adjust the school calendar to be like the outside districts," you say, nodding to yourself. "We're doing dinner at her house. You should come."

Deacon hesitates.

"Unless you have other plans," you add with a casual shrug.

Taking a deliberate drink of his soda, he looks down at his food for a second before meeting your eyes again. "Who's 'we'?"

You smile. "Uh, the four of us, Tori, Asgore, and Asriel. I bet Undyne and Alphys too. Maybe Mettaton? He doesn't eat but who knows."

"That's like, ten people," he says, looking a little uncomfortable.

"So what's one more? Come on, agree you'll come," you urge, poking his arm with a fry.

"Hope, I don't know... They're your friends..." He trails off, rubbing his neck.

"Undyne thinks you're like the coolest human ever, after me of course," you say, smiling. "She's always bugging you about showing her more aikido. And Alphys has borrowed how many books from you now? Oh, and let's not forget that if Tori found out you were sitting at home alone, she'll throw a fit."

He sighs but doesn't say anything. You think he's starting to come around.

"Deacon, if I know you're home alone on Thanksgiving, I'm gonna throw a fit," you say gently. "It's just dinner. I'm making the turkey."

Deacon's expression finally cracks into a smile, letting out a soft laugh. "Okay, fine. Just because of the turkey."

"Good. Because it's pretty awesome, if I say so myself."

Grillby comes back around to gather up your plates and you realize that you ought to head back to work anyway. Your break is over soon. As you start to slide off the barstool you realize that Deacon isn't following you. Instead he's leaning forward to talk to the bartender some more.

"So, what time do you get off?" Deacon asks him, grinning.

Grillby stops, looks at him, and in a soft, serious voice replies, "Why don't you come back here at four and we'll find out?"

Covering your mouth and turning away to keep from gasping out loud, you watch as, with a bounce in his step, Deacon heads to the door and waits for you to follow him.

   
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