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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183. Personal Space

Fatima’s world had been flipped on its head twice in her life.

The first time was when she was ten, and she and her twin brother Rashid had lost their parents. That was when Avery Fletcher had managed to get his hands on them, manipulated the system to have them relinquished into his care. Seven years of their lives were spent being shaped into tools, molded to fit into the well-oiled machine of Avery’s initiates.

The second time was when Morwenna, Deacon, Sans, and the other Literatum had freed them. Morwenna had taken them into her home, helped them remember that they were people, just kids, and got them back on their feet as best she could. They had a whole world of possibilities at their fingertips, and they hardly knew where to start trying to understand who they were.

But the ever-constant, unchanging variable that even Avery couldn’t touch, is the fact that her brother is the absolute worst (and best).

“Tell me you’re not naked,” Rashid says from behind her, and she isn’t even startled.

Fatima swivels her computer chair towards the sound of his voice, stopping when she catches sight of him. There’s a faint tinge of cyan where his shoulders are poking through the wall separating their bedrooms, and his eyes are squeezed shut as the top half of him hovers there.

“I’m not naked,” she mutters, rolling her eyes and resting her elbows on the armrests. “One day, Rashid, you’ll remember there’s a door to this room.”

His eyes snap open and he slips the rest of the way through the wall, magic ghosting off his skin for a second before fading away. She takes quick stock of him; the patchy stubble on his chin, the erratic tufts of dark brown hair, wrinkled flannel pants. This is probably the first time he’s left his bedroom today, and it’s to come bother her. Of course it is. “Doors are for the weak,” he says, leaning against the side of her dresser. She swivels back to face her laptop, making a disgruntled noise and hunching forward over the keyboard.

“What do you want?” she asks, returning her attention to her game. Fatima’s eyes flick down to the bottom left corner of her screen towards the chatbox, and realizes that she’s been getting messages while Rashid was distracting her. “Shit.”

Octacrit: hey, where did you need to go again?

Octacrit: you said you wanted to run one of the old raids for gear

Fatima quickly types in a reply.

Teema: Sorry, bro was distracting me. Karazhan. I think the quickest way to get there is to port to Blasted Lands.

Octacrit: are you busy? we can do this later

Teema: No, it’s fine! Just give me a second, I need to hop on a flight path.

“Who are you talking to?” Rashid asks, and she feels the back of her chair tip as he rests his weight on it.

Fatima’s face scrunches up in annoyance but guides her character towards the nearest flight master. “It’s none of your business. What do you want?” she demands, a twist of embarrassment coiling in her stomach, though she’s not sure why.

“Oh, Fatima are you really dragging him along on one of your stupid loot runs?” Rashid asks, leaning over her shoulder and squinting as he makes out the name of the one other person in her party. “Christ, you’ve got that big idiot wrapped around your finger.”

“He’s not an idiot,” she bristles, turning to shove him off the back of her chair. “And he’s not wrapped around my finger. He asked me what I was up to, I said I was going to run Kara, and he asked if I wanted any help. It was his idea.”

“You don’t need any help. It’s like, forty levels below you.”

Fatima is done rising to his bait. She knows that her brother won’t let this go unless she changes the subject. “You came in here for a reason?” she asks pointedly, her eyes on her laptop screen.

“Obviously to nag you about why you’re spending time with Chris,” he says, his face twisting with exaggerated disgust.

“You don’t need to be mean about him,” she says, suddenly defensive. “He’s a nice guy, you’ve said so yourself. He’s our friend. Besides, he’s only coming with me because Frisk and Asriel aren’t online for him to play with.”

“He’s nice, in that sad and pathetic sort of way.”

“What do you want, Rashid?”

There’s a pause where she knows he’s considering pushing her further. He’s weighing the irritation in her voice, the angle of her hunched shoulders, the too-hard clicks of her mouse and presses on the keyboard. However it all adds up, it’s enough to tip the scale in her favor.

“Got an email from school, enrollment for the fall semester is open. Are you gonna register?” Rashid leans against the back of her chair again, poking her between her shoulderblades, which she ignores.

They’ve been taking online courses slowly over the past couple years, after they completed their GEDs. They’d missed all of middle school and high school locked away in Avery’s mansion-slash-compound, and while they were taught most of the basic concepts —even tools needed to have a certain intelligence to perform their tasks fully— there were areas they were sorely lacking in. Things like literature and history were deemed ‘non-essential’ past the rudimentary basics.

Deacon had spent a lot of time the first year tutoring the two of them in history himself, rather than leave them to their own devices with the online coursework Morwenna set up for them. Rashid resented it at first, but grew more comfortable with Deacon as time went on. Fatima was enraptured with his passion for the subject from the start.

“I’m thinking about taking a semester off,” she says, shrugging. She taps her spacebar with a metronome-like series of clicks as she makes her character in the game jump while running.

There’s a moment where she thinks she almost has him fooled, but he lets out a soft ‘tch!’ of annoyance. “No you’re not. Deacon would be pissed.”

Her eyes narrow slightly, which he can’t see from behind her. He’d caught her lie, but not for a reason she’d intended. “What does Deacon have to do with it?” she asks, doing her best to sound casual.

“Because you have the biggest crush in the universe on him, which is still gross by the way,” he says, poking her between her shoulderblades again. It’s a faint, annoying almost-pain as he jabs her spine. “He’s eight years older than us.”

“Seven and a half,” she says too-quickly. She’s thought about this before, and seven and a half sounds a lot less than eight. Fatima presses forward before Rashid can tease her about her very specific answer. “And that’s less than a ten year gap, therefore acceptable. We agreed.”

The weight on the back of her chair lifts as he stops leaning on it. “No, you decided that on your own. Also, he’s married.”

“If you’re going to call me out on anything, it should be that, dipshit,” she points out, trying to ignore the heat on her face. Fatima has known for a long time that her crush was silly and wholly misguided, but she can’t help it. He’s just so damn cute. And nice, and patient, and of course kind. Who wouldn’t have a bit of a crush on someone like that? “And you’re right, I’m not taking a semester off, I already registered.” Fatima picks up the open spiral-bound notebook sitting on the desk beside her, shoving it into her brother’s chest without looking. “Wrote it all down there.”

Rashid takes hold of the notebook and shoves her hand away from him. “Bitch.”

Her mouth twitches. “Asshole.”

There’s the rustle of paper as Fatima runs circles around the entrance of Karazhan, waiting for Chris to meet her. She could start clearing, but it doesn’t feel polite. Quickly checking her map to see where he is, she’s a little taken aback when she doesn’t immediately find him.

Teema: Crit, are you lost?

Octacrit: ...maybe

Octacrit: sorry Teemz, I’m headed your way now

“How is a children’s lit course in the three hundreds?” Rashid asks, and when she glances back at him he’s sitting cross-legged on her bed. He stretches his arms over his head and flops backwards to sprawl out, arching his back with a groan.

“You could sign up and find out,” she retorts, huffing out her nose. “You might learn something about what childhood was supposed to be like.”

“Pass.”

“It’s not just reading YA books, it’s studying the underlying themes and—”

 Pass. 

“Fine. Don’t take it.”

They’re settling in to bicker, getting into the rhythm of it right when there’s a soft knock on the door. Fatima looks up from her computer.

“Come in!” she calls out, knowing that it can only be one person. They still live with her, after all.

A familiar orange-haired head pokes into the room, a scattering of brown freckles painted across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. “Fatima, have you seen—” Morwenna’s eyes flick towards the direction of the bed. “Oh, of course. Well, I wanted to remind you two that I’ve got training with Frisk tomorrow, so I need you to keep an eye out for Asriel.”

“Are you sure they’re a mage?” Rashid drawls, his tone a little too high-and-mighty for Fatima’s taste. “It’s been a month and still nothing from the kid.”

“Don’t be such an ass,” Fatima snaps. After shooting her twin a glare, she looks up at Morwenna. “Frisk is working hard, aren’t they?”

Something strange flits across Morwenna’s face, nearly imperceptible, but Fatima sees it. She’d always been the observant one, the one to pick up on the subtle shifts in Avery’s behavior that warned them of some kind of new ‘lesson’. It taught her when to be on her toes, when to tell Rashid to watch his mouth to avoid being punished. Those habits hadn’t gone away, no matter how long they’d been with Morwenna. In the beginning it helped her realize that she really did have their best intentions at heart, that they didn’t have to live in fear anymore. Now she just can’t turn that heightened awareness off.

She wishes she knew what that look meant. If she could borrow some purple magic, just for a few minutes… Well, whatever it is going on with Morwenna and Frisk, she’d tell them if it was any of their business. Not that it stops her from being curious.

“Of course they’re working hard. It’s just more tricky for some people than others, that’s all,” Morwenna says carefully. “And they’re still young.”

“We had to start learning at ten,” Rashid grumbles.

“Well, that’s not how we do things,” she says.

“Isn’t twelve still really young for you guys? Us guys? Whatever,” he says, sighing. “Deacon said he got taught early and he was fourteen when he started.”

Oh, she hadn’t thought of that before. Why start Frisk so soon?

“Frisk is a special case,” Morwenna says in a clipped tone. “And I’m reminding you again that I need you to keep an eye out for Asriel. I don’t want him interfering.”

“I’ll see if he wants to do something in-game during that time. Keep him busy,” Fatima says, glancing over at her brother. “You can run some dungeons with us?”

He sighs. “Yeah, I guess. Though I don’t see the big deal. Why can’t he be there?”

“He’s a distraction,” Morwenna says, and Fatima isn’t sure she’s being entirely truthful. But what other explanation could there be? “And Frisk needs to focus. So thank you for helping, you two.”

“Yeah, sure,” Rashid says.

“Of course,” Fatima answers, because how could she ever say no to the woman who’d taken them in? How ungrateful would they have to be to nothelp her?

Bo is quiet when they get home. Contemplative.

Deacon doesn’t like it.

They’d spent the middle of the day with you and your family watching Alphys and Undyne’s kids, and everyone but him was just head over heels for those babies. Yeah, they’re cute —and he’s happy for Alphys and Undyne!— but he just… didn’t know what to do with them. Sometimes Bo would pass him one of the kids if she needed a free hand to take care of something, even though there were three other more willing people in the room, and he’d just sit there and go all stiff and have baby advice he’d heard in movies start repeating over and over in his head. Mind his head, make sure to support her neck, don’t drop him. He’s pretty sure that neck stuff stopped applying once they could hold their heads up on their own, but it’s one of those things that just gets hammered into your brain whenever you see people passing newborns. And while he was sure to do his best not to drop them, they sure put forth a valiant effort to squirm out of his arms, like they knew he wanted nothing to do with them.

Well, that’s… that’s not strictly true. It’s not that he didn’t want anything to do with them, it’s just that he was afraid of doing something wrong. He had three grown adults watching him, all of which have more baby experience than he does (you a mother yourself, Bo having been around countless baby cousins, and Sans… well, Sans was just a natural somehow) and he could just feel the —undoubtedly well-intended— scrutiny from all of you. Even Frisk was better at it than he was.

He’d just screw something up. And it’s not that he’s worried about the kids, right? Or what Bo would think of him for doing something wrong. That’s… that’s not it. It’s that he doesn’t want to piss off the fish-monster that could easily break him in half.

That’s a normal thing to be scared of. (Well, his idea of ‘normal’ is relative.)

After Alphys and Undyne got back you insisted that he and Bo go back to your house for dinner, and it was easier to have a conversation without the babies around distracting everyone. Which, admittedly, was getting really annoying. Every time one of the twins would do something cute, someone would have to point it out no matter who was in the middle of talking. Yes, he just spent the last month with his wife twenty-four seven, and he was having fun spending time with his friends, but it still bothered him when he’d have to sit there and repeat Bo’s name to get her attention.

Is this what their lives would be like if they had a kid? Would he immediately slip to second-best in her eyes?

He feels selfish for thinking it, but he’s not… He’s not sure he’s ready to share her.

She’s standing at the foot of the stairs, looking up at the last five years told in pictures, and Deacon’s afraid to ask her what she’s thinking about. Instead of seeing the two of them, happy and together, and a family of two, is she just seeing what’s missing?

There’s nothing missing, damn it!

“I think we’re going to be running out of space soon,” Bo says, glancing over her shoulder. She pushes soft, pink hair out of her eyes, and one of her long ears gives a small twitch as she brushes it.

His stomach lurches. Space? No, the house is perfect for the two of them, they don’t need anything bigger. Is she trying to suggest they move? Why? For more bedrooms? He’s had the house next door to you for almost six years, he’s not going to move! “W-what?”

She blinks, then jerks a thumb at the stairwell. “The pictures. They’re getting a little cramped.”

“Oh!” he blurts out, suddenly relieved. “Uh, yeah I guess so. We’ll have to make more room for pictures from next year’s trip.”

Bo laughs, tipping her head to the side. “We just got home and you’re already thinking of the next one?”

“Sure, why not? Have to start planning early,” he says, finding his feet and crossing the room to stand beside her. Slipping his arms around her waist, he pulls her up against him.

She slips her arms around his neck and gives him a brief, chaste kiss, more comfortable than anything. “We’re still not allowed to go where I reallywant to,” she says, sighing.

“Maybe in the next year—”

“You said that last year,” she mutters, hugging herself close and resting her head on his shoulder. “I’m getting tired of putting things off on the hope that it finally changes.”

“What are you putting off?” he says, and realizes too late what she means.

“Leaving the country will be a lot trickier if we have kids.”

If. At least she didn’t say when.

“Doing any kind of trip will be trickier if we have kids,” he says, rubbing his hand up and down her back. He’s glad she can’t see his face. ‘If’ is easy to dance around. They’ve talked about kids before, in passing, before they got married. She knows it’s not a priority to him, that he’s not sure he even wants any. She married him knowing that.

She goes quiet, and he takes her silence as an opportunity to change the subject. “We’ve got lots of time to decide on trips and stuff” —god he can’t even say ‘or kids’, just stuff — “so why don’t we finish unpacking, get some laundry started? Having half our wardrobes stuffed in suitcases is getting old.”

“Laundry?” she whines, nuzzling under his chin. “Baby it’s late, we can do laundry tomorrow. I’ve still got two days before they’re expecting me back at the restaurant.”

“Well, then what would you rather do?” he asks, cupping the side of her face with his hand and brushing his fingers along the length of her ear the way he knows she likes.

She shivers, letting out a pleased hum. It falls into the same pitch of the smooth, warm sound of her Soul (that’s one thing that still amazes him each time he stops to think about it, that being married to her means he can feel her Soul) like a low note played on a violin. Something inside of him answers, his own clear pitch in harmony with her. It’s a reassurance, a reminder that they belong together. That they are together.

“You,” she says, and her breath is hot on his neck as she presses slow kisses against his throat.

“I dunno, I really had my heart set on laundry—”

“Mr. Stuart, you cut that out,” she growls, and her lips are replaced with teeth.

His chuckle is low and warm, affection bubbling up and smoothing away his worries. He doesn’t need to think of all that right now. They have all the time in the world to think about their future. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Stuart, is something bothering you?”

“Yes, my horrible husband,” she says, pulling away to fix him with a frustrated look.

Deacon knows he’s smiling, can feel the way his expression softens when he looks at her. Her frown smooths away, and he strokes her cheek and kisses her between her eyes. “I love you,” he says, because he just needs to say it. He needs her to hear it, and he needs to hear her say it back.

“I love you too.”

   
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