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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154. Out Of My Hands

You're fidgeting with your phone the next evening, after Frisk goes to bed. Normally you'd set it on the table, ignored for the rest of the night as you spent time with your husband. Papyrus isn't due home for another hour or so, and for now the house is quiet. But you can't relax. Can't stop wondering what you should do. You and Sans talked to Frisk after Chris left, and the answer they gave you, while not surprising, left you in a difficult spot. You honestly thought they'd decide differently, but then again, when it came to the issue of their father, they'd had strong opinions from the beginning.

You just thought that, like you, they'd be willing to give him a chance. But why would they? He's no one to them except a guy who was never there. A guy that their mom never bothered to mention until they asked. Whatever lingering friendliness you might have for him doesn't matter to Frisk. And really, it shouldn't matter to you either. Chris shouldn't matter.

"keep frowning and your face is gonna stick like that," Sans says, snapping you out of your focus. "brooding's not gonna help anybody."

"It might," you say, pressing your phone face-down on your leg and looking over at your husband. He's searching your face, a mildly exasperated look forming a crease between his brows as he regards you. You sigh. "I was wondering if I should tell Chris about what Frisk said."

Sliding his arm around your shoulders, he pulls you up against him, nuzzling your temple. He makes a noncommittal noise and the low, steady sound of his Soul is comforting. You focus on it for a moment, like taking in a deep breath, and let it wash over you just long enough to gather your thoughts.

"Deacon thinks that I shouldn't call him. That I should leave him waiting like he did to me," you say, resting your head on his shoulder. 

He runs his fingers through your hair. "and what do you think?"

"I think Deacon is projecting his own issues onto Chris."

"yeah, but i mean, what do you think about what you should do?"

"Oh." You hesitate, trying to think of the best way to put into words how you feel. "I... I know that if our places were reversed, I'd want to know for sure one way or the other. And, I know that he didn't exactly extend that courtesy to me, but things were a lot different then. We're grown-ups now. Shouldn't we act like it?"

"maybe," he says, drawing the word out. He's coaxing you to say more, like he can tell that you're not telling him everything.

Closing your eyes, you turn to tuck your head against his neck. "It would be petty of me to not call him out of spite. I just... he was such an important part of my life and I can't not care about him at least a little." Sans makes a soft noise and you're not sure if it's annoyance or understanding. You can't see his face to help you decipher it. "Is that wrong?" you ask softly.

"you're a caring person. it's part of what i love about you," he says, but there's a measured tone to his voice. "but sometimes you worry too much about the feelings of people who don't matter. or shouldn't matter."

"But does it bother you that I don't hate Chris?" Your hand is on Sans's leg, your thumb rubbing against the smooth fabric of his shorts. He covers it with his own, threading your fingers together and squeezing.

"you couldn't even hate kim after she abused you for most of your life, why would i expect you to hate chris?"

"I don't know. I just thought maybe you'd want me to."

"i'm not sure what you're wanting me to say here, babe."

Letting out an agitated sigh, you pick up your head and look at Sans, trying to get a read on his neutral expression. His pupils aren't bright but they aren't dim either, frustratingly in-between. "You're not worried, or jealous?"

"why, do you want me to be?" he asks, and now he's got an amused gleam in his eye that makes you let out an annoyed huff.

"No! I just... you were jealous about Deacon even though nothing was happening, and now Chris shows up, a guy I was actually sleeping with at one point, the biological father of our child, and you're... fine?"

"the thing with deacon was... a lot more than just thinking you might be attracted to him. but we're married now, in a way that chris could never even comprehend. i know you and you know me down to our souls, and he couldn't come between that even if he wanted to." Sans gives you a warm smile, and you feel a little foolish for ever expecting any different. "and to be honest, he's kind of... pathetic."

You let out a soft, embarrassed laugh. "I swear he seemed a lot cooler when I was younger," you admit.

He chuckles, leaning over to nuzzle your cheek. "guess i should be glad your tastes have improved." After a pause, he pulls back so he can look you in the eye again. "if it'll make you feel better, call the guy. i don't mind. if you were worried about upsetting me, don't. he's not gonna get under my skin."

Snorting, you make a face, doing your best to stifle your laughter. "I'm not going to dignify that with a response."

"your adorable snort was response enough, babe," he says with a self-satisfied grin.

Setting back into the couch and looking at your phone, you pull up your contacts and scroll down to the C's. He's not hard to find; it's not like you have a big list. Your eyes flick over to Sans's and he squeezes your hand again, giving you a small nod of encouragement.

Taking in a deep breath, you tap Chris's number and hold the phone to your ear. At first you think he's not going to answer. Maybe you'll be able to get away with a voicemail, but no, after four rings he picks up.

"Hel— shit! Fuck!" There's the sound of the phone clattering to the ground and muffled voices. You hold it away from your ear for a second, confused, as you hear a scrape on the other line and the sounds of jostling before Chris returns to the line, sounding a little out of breath. "Sorry, uh, hello?"

"Um, hey. It's Hope," you say, biting your lip. "Is this a bad time?"

"Oh! Just a— Eric knock it off! Hey—" He's cut off by the sound of a loud guitar riff. "Hey douchebag! Can't you knock it off for two goddamn seconds while I answer a call?"

"Maybe I should call back later," you say slowly, giving Sans a bemused look.

"No, Hope, hold on," Chris blurts out. "Let me just go outside— fuck off dude I'll be right back."

"Tell your baby momma that you're busy," says a faint voice in the background, one you think you recognize as Eric's. He'd always been a bit of an asshole, and after Chris left your school you'd stopped talking to him. To him, as far as you knew, you were just an accessory. You weren't Eric's friend, just someone he had to interact with when trying to hang out with Chris.

"Don't call her that," he says weakly, and the laughter in the background fades and there's the slam of a door shutting. "Sorry. I'm here now. What's up?"

"I... are you sure this is a good time?" you ask.

"It's fine," he says, with an enthusiasm you're afraid you're going to end up squashing. "I was just jamming with the guys. Uh, I do that a lot in my time off. Most of the band is still together, though we had to swap drummers a couple years ago. What is it with drummers?"

You hunch forward, trying not to smile. It feels strange, hearing him talk about band drama while sitting next to Sans. It's... awkward. Like you're straddling the line between these two very different stages of your life. "Is this your third one?"

Chris laughs, a forced sound that's a little strained. By nerves, you think. "Fourth. You weren't around when..." he trails off, and after a second he clears his throat. "I'm sorry, you probably don't give a shit about all this. Um, what's up? Did you...?"

"Yeah," you say, nodding though he can't see you. You wince. "I... Chris, I talked to them and..."

"Oh," he says, and he must be able to hear the apology in your voice. "I-I mean I wasn't expecting much. It's fine, I just thought—"

"I'm sorry."

"No! Please, it's fine," he says, almost yelling before he drops his voice. "Don't apologize. I can't blame them. Like, they've got you and your husband, it's fine. It's... Fuck, at least Eric will be thrilled. You wouldn't believe the shit he was... okay maybe you would."

"Yeah... Look, I can... I'll keep your number, and if Frisk changes their mind, I promise I'll let you know. They're only seven, and right now they're being really stubborn, especially about who their dad is," you say, because you feel like you owe him an explanation. You know you don't, but you can't help it. "All this stuff with the news..."

"I don't want to do anything to upset them. Or you. I... I understand. You didn't even need to bother to let me know so, thanks. For keeping me in the loop. It's probably more than I fucking deserve, let's be real," he says, letting out a heavy sigh. "You've been a lot cooler about all of this than I expected."

"What are you talking about?" you blurt out with an uneasy laugh. "I yelled at you, Sans made you cry, and I'm pretty sure my best friend threatened you more than once."

"You didn't have to give me a chance at all. And... I'm glad you've got people watching out for you. I wish you'd had people like that sooner."

"...Thanks Chris," you say gently. "You're... You're still a good guy. And I'm glad you got away from your parents."

He clears his throat. "Yeah. Thanks. Ah, look, I should get back inside before Eric comes looking for me—"

"Yeah! Go, go ahead. I just wanted to let you know what happened."

"Yeah. Thanks again for that. I'll uh..." For a second you think he's going to say 'talk to you later' but he doesn't. "Goodbye, Hope."

"Bye, Chris," you say, and there's only a second between you speaking and him hanging up. You can't help but feel a sense of finality, and wonder, briefly, if you'll ever talk to him again.

You suppose that's up to Frisk.

Asgore spends most of his evenings during the week alone. He expects Wednesday to be much of the same: dinner and tea by himself as he keeps an eye on the news and whatever these humans have in store for his people this time. Because is that not how it has been since the Barrier fell? Just more and more of how the humans have decided to restrict, control, and limit him and his people?

It has been this way since the war. Since before he was king. Why should he have expected this time to be any different? He wonders, sometimes, if that is part of why he never tried to find a way to free them for so long. Because even if they returned to the surface, who was to say that things would be better or safer? Maybe the only way for his people to survive was beneath the earth, hidden away and forgotten by the world. He thought that, with how much time had passed, that things would be different.

And oh, they are certainly different, but the hearts of humans are still at their core fundamentally the same as before. With exceptions —there are always exceptions— to be sure, but the human race is, without a doubt, a fearful one.

He supposes it was always a matter of time before the general opinion of them turned sour. But he cannot let himself lose hope. Would that not counteract what he has been trying to show his people for so long?

It is starting to get dark outside when there is a knock at his front door.

Who might that be? He has not received any calls, or requests to meet in private that he can recall. Did he forget something? Ah, probably not. He had always had an open door policy with his people, that they might come to him with whatever problems that might arise. It could be anyone, here for his counsel.

The human soldiers at his door are not here for counsel.

He recognizes Captain Prasad. She is a short yet commanding woman, black hair pulled into a tight bun beneath her hat. Asgore has spoken with her on many occasions, regarding matters with the Line and as a liaison between himself and higher government officials. He has a great degree of respect for her and her morals, despite what she and the men and women under her command have been assigned to do. Dressed in fatigues, she looks a little out of place beside the man with her.

He is a head taller than her, clad in what Asgore thinks he has heard referred to as a dress uniform. Perhaps if he was a smaller monster he might feel threatened by this man, but standing there in his doorway, looking down at the two of them, he is only cautious. Whatever the matter is, Captain Prasad looks upset, which bodes ill.

"Captain," Asgore says, inclining his head to the woman. His grip on the doorknob tenses out of sight. "How might I help you this evening? It is not often that you pay a visit to my home."

"King Asgore," she says, and the tightness of her smile only worries him further. What is this all about? "I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm afraid this couldn't wait. Can we come inside?"

"May I ask who 'we' is?" he asks, glancing over at the man at her side and back again.

The man appears to dislike the question, his lip curling even as he remains silent. Prasad clears her throat. "This is Captain Jacobs. He and his men will be replacing my company."

"What?" Asgore blurts out, eyes widening. "When was this decided?"

She opens her mouth to speak but Jacobs raises his hand, giving her a look of disdain. "That information is not yours to have. We are not at liberty to say."

Prasad's expression sours. "We're here so that I can introduce the two of you," she says, pursing her lips. But there is something... worrying in her eyes. A warning? "So that the... transition is a smooth one." It sounds as though she is echoing someone else's voice, her sincerity ringing false.

"Then by all means, please come inside," Asgore says, taking a step back to allow them inside.

As they step over the threshold they remove their hats. Prasad folds hers up like he has seen her do numerous times, slipping it into her pocket. Jacobs, by comparison, is stiff and formal. He rolls the brim of his between his fingers, taking sharp, calculating looks around the house. 

Asgore gestures towards the living room. "If you would like to take a seat—"

"This won't take long," Jacobs says dismissively.

Prasad bristles. "Captain Jacobs, you are speaking with what amounts to a foreign dignitary—"

"With all due respect, Captain Prasad, that hasn't been officially recognized or sanctioned," he cuts in, arching a brow. "I believe that right now they're still considered... refugees for all intents and purposes."

"With all due respect," Prasad echoes back with venom, "that shouldn't stop you from behaving with a little decorum."

A thin smile toys around Jacobs's mouth, but he does not answer, though Asgore has the impression that there is much he would like to say. The cold sting of dread in the pit of his stomach is familiar and unwelcome.

"Well then, King Asgore," Jacobs says, folding his hands behind his back and looking up at him with a cool confidence that he finds disquieting. Prasad's hands twitch at the man's tone. "Effective tomorrow you will come to me with any concerns you or your people may have. The changing of the guard should be hardly noticeable, no rules or regulations are changing." His smile is one of a cat playing with a mouse, and all Asgore can do is counter with kindness and civility. "So long as everyone has been following the rules, I'm sure there won't be any problems. Captain Prasad and her men are needed elsewhere, so I trust you'll forgive their removal."

"Of course. I am certain that things will continue as peacefully as they have thus far," Asgore says carefully, offering Jacobs a polite smile. His attention shifts to Prasad. "Though I am sorry to see you go, Captain."

The corners of her mouth twitch, and she gives a curt nod. "We're all sorry to leave, I can tell you that much," she says, turning to face Jacobs. "Now unless there's something else you'd like to say, I'd like a moment alone to speak with the king."

Jacobs's eyes narrow for just a moment, regarding her. "How irregular."

"That's not your place to decide," she says firmly, clenching her hands behind her back. "Until midnight tonight I am in command of this post, and you would do well to remember that, Captain."

He raises his hands in a gesture of concession. "Of course. Though I'm sure that our superiors will be interested to hear that you make a habit of speaking with 'the king' in private."

"Tell them what you like," she snaps, and her show of anger just makes Jacobs smile. "There's only so much else they can do to me at this point."

Prasad and Jacobs share a tense moment of silence before the man gives a nod and tugs his cap back into place. "I'll just be outside then. Try not to take too long, there's still lots of work left for tonight."

She does not say anything, just waits and watches as he lets himself outside. The moment the door closes she turns to Asgore, her frustration and distress plain upon her face. "I only found out a few hours ago," she says, low and fast. "Jacobs showed up at housing and starting strutting around like he owned the place. I would have called but I couldn't get away from him."

"Do you know why your government saw fit to do this? To you and your men?" he asks, doing his best to try and squash down his fear. He suspects this has less to do with them and more with him. "Has there been more talk of them trying to pressure me into allowing monsters to enlist?"

"I haven't heard a damn thing," she says, gritting her teeth and running her fingernails over her scalp. "The only strange thing I heard was that... Now this is just a rumor, but Governor Williams has been acting strange. One person, I don't know them that well so I'm not sure how much I trust their opinion, said he seemed almost paranoid. But it doesn't make any sense."

"People behave foolishly when they are afraid," he says solemnly, and she nods.

"Yeah, but it's just... it's sudden. I don't like it." Shaking her head, she lets out a ragged sigh and cranes her head to look up at him. "I don't know what else to say but... do whatever you can to keep the peace. Make sure people are following the rules. I know we've been a little lax on you guys, but I don't think that Jacobs and his company are going to give you that courtesy."

"I suspect you are right," he says with a weary smile. "Though, if I remember correctly, you and your men were of a mind as Captain Jacobs at first."

"Yeah, but..." Her expression is apologetic. Pained, even. "I don't think you can count on them warming up to you like we did. At least not any time soon. Just... please be careful."

"The last thing I or my people want is to upset this peace that we have found. You have my word."

   
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