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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94. Photographs

Even though Mettaton seems to have coerced most of his employees into helping out with the festival, there's still plenty left for you and Deacon to do. Right now the two of you are puzzling over a layout for all the booths, vendors, and events. The janitor kicked you out of the school about an hour ago, so now you're sitting in Deacon's living room, both hunched over a crude map of the school grounds. You're chewing on the end of a pen as he starts tracing a large rectangle you think is supposed to be the stage for the costume contest.

Your phone chimes in your pocket and you check it as Deacon glances over at you. 'will u b home 4 food?'

You realize it's almost six-thirty already. Where did the time go? Sighing, you rest your chin in your hand and look at Deacon. "We need to finish this tonight, don't we?"

"Mettaton said he wanted to start getting things ready to put up this weekend. And to do that, he needs a layout," Deacon says, letting out a frustrated noise as he starts to furiously erase what he just drew. "This isn't going to work."

"And if we let him do it everything will be focused around him... I guess I'm not going home for dinner," you say. Looking back down at your phone, you bite your lip.

"You could always go home and then come back," he suggests with a shrug.

"If I go home I'll want to stay there." You shake you head. "Let's just get this over with."

You type out a quick response to Sans as your friend watches you, tapping the end of his pencil on the paper. 'Not tonight, we have to finish this stupid thing for MTT. I'm sorry, I love you. <3'

Deacon stands up as you pocket your phone, grumbling and stretching his arms over his head. "Speaking of dinner, let me cook for you. I can finally prove that I eat more than ramen."

"You cook for me? This I have to see," you say, smiling as you rub your eyes.

He picks up the school map and brings it with him into the kitchen as you follow behind. He sets the paper and pencil down on the kitchen table and pulls out your chair before heading to his walk-in pantry to collect ingredients. Watching him, you wonder what he's planning on making. Well, whatever it is, it involves orzo and vegetable oil. A quick stop at the fridge adds chicken thighs to the list, along with a bunch of fresh parsley. Pouring oil in a deep pan, he gets to work seasoning the thighs with a blend of spices from a container with a yellow cap.

Your phone chimes again. 'luv u 2. will tke kids 2 toris 4 food.'

'Okay hun. Have fun and say hi to her for me.'

'k.'

"I know that once we're done with all this it'll probably be worth it, but right now I kind of hate this damn festival," you say, setting your phone down and slumping down over the table. Burying your face in your arms, you let out a frustrated whine.

"Is Sans upset?" Deacon asks, glancing over his shoulder at you.

You pick your head up and rest your chin on your forearm, looking at him through some hair that broke free from your ponytail hours ago. "I don't think so. I dunno, this whole mess is just stressing me out. He's usually pretty short with his texts so I'm just being oversensitive."

"Well, if he wants to be mad at anyone he can blame me," he says, sidestepping to the sink to wash his hands. 

"He's not mad at you. I'm sure everything is fine," you mumble, sitting back up again to look down at the map.

Deacon doesn't answer. Instead he pulls a pair of tongs out of a drawer and starts placing the chicken into the pan. A satisfying sizzling sound fills the kitchen.

"Deacon," you say, raising a brow even though you know he can't see you.

"Hope," he answers, mimicking your tone.

"Do you think Sans is mad at you?"

He shrugs. "I'm just saying that if he's mad at anyone I guess it might as well be me. This was all my idea."

"Well don't worry. He's not mad at you. Besides, in a week this will all be over anyway," you say, for Deacon and partly for yourself. "Now, what are you making?"

Dinner is delicious, and you finally admit that yes clearly Deacon is eating more than ramen and premade, packaged food. He makes you say this out loud as well as apologize for assuming, which he graciously accepts with a laugh. Afterwards he confides that the dish was actually the most complicated thing he knows how to make, and please don't stop bringing him leftovers.

Reinvigorated by food, you and Deacon spend another half hour working on the layout for the festival. You're just about done when his phone rings. He checks it, makes a face, and excuses himself upstairs to take the call. You take a quick break to text Sans and let him know you're almost done. When you don't get a reply within a couple minutes, you get back to work on plotting out the last few booths and tables lining the main thoroughfare. Maybe he's just distracted.

After about fifteen minutes you've gotten everything labeled on the map, but Deacon isn't back yet. Chewing on your lip, you check the time and realize it's after eight and you really want to get home. It's already past Frisk's bedtime and you haven't seen them since Toriel took them home with her. You decide to go let Deacon know you're going to leave, taking the map with you to show him.

You haven't been upstairs since the day he moved in. The two bedrooms are up here and not much else. A hall closet is open and inside you can see a compact washer and dryer. A basket of laundry is sitting on top of the machines and it's not folded so you aren't sure if it's clean or dirty.

The master bedroom is open and dark so he must be in the other bedroom, the one you know he turned into an office. It's closed, and there's light peeking from under the door. Inside you can hear Deacon's voice, muffled.

"—haven't been avoiding you. Look I told you everything I know... Yes, exactly. It's been three weeks, I'm not sure what you were expecting." Deacon lets out a sigh as you raise your hand to knock. You really shouldn't be eavesdropping, but you hesitate. "I'm not going to jeopardize this because you're being impatient. Well considering the last time I fucking called you you brushed me off—"

You knock on the door, suddenly uncomfortable now that he's starting to get angry. You'd rather not listen anymore to his private conversation that you shouldn't have been listening to in the first place. "Deacon?"

"Come on in, Hope," he says, and as you open the door he's running his hand through his hair and turning his back to you. "Yes I told you I had company. I need to go, Grant. Yes, fine. Goodbye."

Deacon hangs up the phone and shoves it back in his pocket, turning to look at you. His hair is distinctly ruffled, like he'd run his fingers through it multiple times and his brow is furrowed. "Sorry about that, I wasn't expecting to be long," Deacon says, shaking his head.

"Oh, no, it's okay," you say in a rush, trying to dissipate the awkward feeling in the air. "I just wanted to let you know that I was finished with this and needed to head out." You hold up the paper in your hand.

"Yeah, no problem. Let me check this out real quick."

His eyes flick to the map and he reaches for it. You give it to him and glance around the room as he looks over the layout. Deacon might not have changed much with the living room and dining room, but this space has changed a lot from what you remember. He set up his bookshelves in here, along with an old, battered desk. The twin bed that was in here already is shoved into a corner, the childish bedspread replaced with a worn quilt made with patches of varying shades of green, patterned fabric. Two frames above the desk catch your eye. One holds his college diploma, granted two years ago according to the calligraphy in the bottom corner. The second is a picture from his graduation. He's standing alone in his cap and gown, smiling at the camera on a green lawn outside. Other graduates and their families are milling around in the background.

But, don't these types of pictures usually have friends or family in them too?

"Looks good to me. I'll take care of giving it to Mettaton, you spend some time with your family tomorrow," Deacon says, coming to stand beside you as he sets the map down on his desk. He looks at you and then follows your eyes, chuckling. "You know they make you pay for your cap and gown in college? Had to buy the stupid thing so now it just takes up space in my closet."

"You could use it as a Halloween costume I guess. Is that your plan?" you ask, looking at him. He's still looking at the picture, studying it.

"Nah, I've got something much sexier planned. I'm sure I'll have to fight them off of me before Halloween is over," he says, winking at you.

You roll your eyes. "I'm sure. Well, I should head out." Hesitating, you give him a weak smile. "Is everything okay with whoever that was?"

Deacon's eyebrows raise and for a second he looks surprised you asked. "Huh? Oh, yeah, don't worry about that. Nothing I can't handle."

"Okay," you say, reaching out to touch his arm. He turns to face you, and you give him a quick hug. It's not nearly as awkward as the first time you hugged him, but he still seems a little hesitant about it. Like he knows you want to hug him, and he doesn't want to disappoint you. You pull away after a second and smile up at him. "I'll talk to you later, Deacon. Let me know if you need anything."

He rubs the back of his neck, giving you a crooked smile in return. "Will do. Good night, Hope."

When you get home you find Sans and Frisk in the living room, asleep on the couch. Frisk is curled into his chest, straight brown hair partially obscuring their face. Sans has his arms around them and his mouth is hanging open a little, emphasizing the dull points of his canines. Smiling, you pull out your phone to take a picture. As much as you wish you'd been home with them tonight, finding them here like this warms your heart. Here's your little family, the two people in the world you love most of all.

As you put your phone away, you notice the assortment of pictures spread out on the rug in front of the couch. Kneeling down, you pull them towards you and gather them into a small stack so you can look at them. They're from the Underground, as far as you can tell. Frisk's hair is shorter and they're wearing that old blue and purple sweater, grinning at the camera with ketchup on their face. It looks like they're in Grillby's.

The next one is in Waterfall, a close up shot of Sans and Frisk's faces. Sans is grinning and pointing at Frisk's eye, which is circled in bright red paint. Smiling, you wonder when he had the time to prank them with that telescope. You don't remember either of them telling you about this.

There's another one in Waterfall, with Frisk standing alongside a monster you recognize as Shyren. You never met her when you were in the Underground, but were introduced here on the surface. It looks like Frisk is singing with her. When did this happen?

The next is in Hotland. Frisk is standing in front of what looks like one of Sans's sentry stations, with a stack of hotdogs impossibly balanced on their head. Another hotdog is on its way to the top of the teetering pile, glowing blue with what you realize is Sans's magic. Did Frisk go to Hotland with Sans without you?

You flip to the next one. Frisk is standing outside the MTT Resort, looking disheveled in an old apron with dirt smudged on their face. They're looking up at the marquee, the lights glistening in their eyes. They look tired, and you think you spot cobwebs on their clothes. You don't remember any of this. This doesn't seem right, and you realize that there's something missing out of all these pictures.

You.

On a whim, you turn the picture over and realize why. In Sans's cramped, messy handwriting you can make out: '23rd reset. just left hotland.' You check the other pictures. '41st reset'. '19th reset'. One of them doesn't even say which Reset it is, it's just blank.

"hey babe."

You look up, and realize there are tears in your eyes. Sans must notice because he's carefully extricating himself from Frisk and eases himself off the couch to sit on the floor with you. Wiping your eyes, you shake your head and give a small embarrassed laugh as he puts his arm around your waist.

"I'm fine," you say, before he can ask.

"we were gonna show those to you together, i didn't mean for you to find 'em alone," he says, pulling you against him.

You glance over at Frisk to make sure they're still asleep before you rest your head on Sans's shoulder and whisper, "You had these in your machine?"

"yeah," he says, stroking your arm with his free hand. "frisk wanted you to see some of the good times we had. helped me remember too, that not everything about the resets was bad."

Your grip on the pictures tightens as you stare down at them. "But none of this actually happened."

Sans reaches out to take the pictures from your hands, setting them aside where you can't see them. "sure it did. frisk remembers. i remember."

"I don't know how you keep all of this straight. It's too much for me to wrap my head around," you say, closing your eyes and turning your face into the side of Sans's neck. He holds you tighter, resting his head against yours.

"it's easy. the timeline that matters is the one with you in it."

   
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