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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167. Radio Silence

"if you'd already decided you needed to finally do something about all this shit, then why did you even let this argument happen?" Sans fixes Morwenna with a hard look, his grin rigid.

But she isn't paying attention to him. Her focus is on Grant. His frown deepens before he speaks. "The Vigilum are always going to be meddling in something. It's not our responsibility—"

"Coward," Deacon snaps, ignoring the sharp exhale from Morwenna as she glances at him.

"You're being too emotional, son," he counters. "And call me whatever you like, I'm being practical."

"'Practical'? To let the monsters be antagonized, pushed to the breaking point and caged just so that you don't have to dirty your damn hands?" He balls his hand into a fist, and Sans wonders if he's going to try and punch him again. "You'll be just as guilty of whatever the Vigilum decide to do. We can make the difference, but you'd rather sit back and just let it happen. Choosing not to act is just as bad as if you were doing this yourself."

"I know you feel guilty about what happened to that little boy—"

"Don't—"

"But trying to champion this fool's cause won't change what's been done." Grant lets out an impatient sigh as Morwenna places a restraining hand on Deacon's shoulder.

"Don't fucking talk to me about that kid." Deacon is shaking, from rage or grief he's not sure. Maybe both. "This has nothing to do with him. This is about helping the monsters."

Grant clenches his jaw, jabbing a finger in Deacon's direction. "The last time the Literatum got directly involved with the Vigilum we lost good people. Right now our priority needs to be finding new mages and preserving what we have, not risking our lives."

"Coward!" Deacon snaps again. "What's the point in preserving anything if we won't fucking use it to make things better?"

"There are no heroes like in those books of yours. This isn't fantasy. This is real life, and good and evil doesn't exist."

Sans has seen enough. "shit, you were right deacon. you guys aren't the mages we needed to be worried about. this is just sad."

"Quién es este pedazo de mierda arrogante?" Maria mutters, drumming her nails on the table beside her. He isn't sure what she said, but he gets the feeling it wasn't very polite.

That's fine. He's not feeling particularly polite either.

"Excuse me?" Morwenna asks, arching a brow and crossing her arms over her chest.

"you're the leader, right?" Sans asks, holding her gaze. "do you normally let your people duke it out during your super secret mage meetings? or is this just for my benefit?"

Deacon winces, tearing his attention away from Grant. "Sans, you're not helping."

"i think we established that nobody really feels like helping," he continues, looking at Grant. The big human gives him an unimpressed look, which seems to just be his resting expression. What is this guy's problem, anyway? "my wife and kid are stuck out here because of all this mage bullshit. you may not think it's your problem, that it's not personal enough for you to get involved, but it's personal to me. and it's personal to deacon. the only reason i even bothered to come here —to risk getting caught— is because of my family. so if none of you feel like helping? just come out and say it so we can stop wasting everyone's time. you can tell us what you know and we'll figure something out ourselves."

"I already said that we should do something to help," Morwenna says, pressing her lips into a thin line. As Sans gets a good look at her, at the serious look on her face, he can see the fine lines at the corners of her eyes and around her mouth. She's older than he first thought, maybe close to Grant's age.

Grant makes a noise of disapproval. "Mors, maybe you don't remember the last time we went toe to toe with the Vigilum, but—"

"Don't you call me that," Morwenna snaps, eyes flashing as she whirls on him. "And I remember. You'd do well to stop bringing up the past to try and fight your battles for you. This behavior is beneath you, Bailey."

"They almost killed you," Grant says, gentler this time.

"Well they didn't," she says icily. "And you've made your opinion clear, I'd like to hear from Min and Mendez."

Maria Mendez glances from Morwenna to Deacon, putting her cell phone down and granting them her full attention. "I say we help. I don't know what's gotten into you since you went to Ebott," she says, eyes fixed on Deacon. "But you're right, enough sitting on our hands. What's the point in having magic if we never use it?"

Morwenna nods, then glances over at Howard. "Min? What about you?"

"You said that this Jacobs guy is in with the Vigilum. What do we know? What information do we actually have?" he asks, shifting to lean back against the wall again. 

"Edward Jacobs is a non-magical member of the Vigilum, from a prominent family within their ranks," she says. As she starts to speak, Grant turns and goes to sit down on the couch. With a healthy distance between them, Deacon shifts into a more comfortable stance at Sans's side. He feels a little bit of that old camaraderie, standing here with him in a sort of unified front. "Ingram couldn't be here, but she's working hard on gathering more information. Unfortunately, all we know right now is that we're certain that Jacobs is part of the Vigilum, and we have to assume that he's following their orders."

"But the National Guard answers to the governor. He wouldn't be able to do anything without Governor Williams's express permission," Howard says, rubbing his chin.

"Right. Which means that he might be getting bribed. Ingram is trying to figure out the exact situation, because that's going to determine what we can do."

"So for now we wait," he says.

"For now we wait," Morwenna echoes back.

"fuck waiting," Sans blurts out, grinding his teeth. "i can't just leave hope and frisk out here. deacon, we came here to get them some help."

"What exactly did you think we'd be able to do?" Morwenna asks, giving him a curious look.

"something. with your fancy latin name i thought you'd be more... shit, more anything." He makes a vague gesture around the room, at the gathered mages. "this isn't a... a cabal of mages. this is just a handful of humans. you've got the schoolteacher, the cop, the coach, the... businesswoman?"

"Secretary," Maria supplies, looking at her phone again. "Secretary that's going to be late getting back from lunch if I don't leave soon."

"I'll save you the trouble of guessing what Grant is. He's a social worker," Deacon mutters.

"you're kidding? that sounds like the punchline to a shitty joke."

Deacon shakes his head, and Grant rolls his eyes from his spot on the couch. "Are you finished?" Grant asks.

Sans lets out a sigh, disappointment sitting heavy on his shoulders. "the word 'mage' used to mean something to us. i guess we should be glad that this pathetic show is all you could muster. how something like the barrier was ever within your power is beyond me."

"Hey," Deacon warns, frowning. But before he can continue Morwenna clears her throat.

"That's a fair assessment," she says evenly, ignoring the perturbed looks on the other mages' faces. "The Literatum used to be a respectable organization. But there's been fewer and fewer mages, and right now, this is all we've got. We want to help you get your family back, to stop what the Vigilum are planning. But we can't charge in blindly. We don't even know where to charge. We have our suspicions, but we can't reveal ourselves too soon or we don't stand a chance."

It makes sense. Sans hates it, but it makes damn good sense. He just thought... he hoped that this trip to meet these people would give him a sense of direction. Something to hold onto and plan for. Not more 'wait and see'. Frowning, he shoves his hands back into his pockets.

"As soon as we know more, we'll get in touch with Deacon. Arrange another meeting," she says, stern but... kind. He can tell she's sorry she can't offer more.

Sans grunts in acknowledgment, but doesn't say anything.

"Thanks, Morwenna," Deacon says, running his hand through his hair.

She smiles at him, the first real smile he's seen on her face this whole time. "For what it's worth, I appreciate this new passion you've found. It's good to see you standing up for yourself and what you believe in."

Deacon flushes a little, ducking his head. "Uh, thanks," he says again. "I didn't think you would. Grant said that you guys were... disappointed in me. Because of my, ah, relationships."

"We had our concerns, which you must admit weren't unfounded," she says, raising an eyebrow. He cringes a little, glancing down at the floor. "Do all the monsters know, now?"

As Deacon explains to Morwenna what happened, Sans hears movement behind him. He turns to look back at Howard, who raises a hand to beckon him over. For a second he hesitates, but walks over to stand beside him.

"need something, pal?" he asks.

Howard Min is just a little shorter than Deacon, but roughly the same sort of build. He assumes, at least, under all that bulk of the police uniform. He's been pretty quiet this whole time, mostly just interjecting to ask questions, and never once did he raise his voice or put much emotion into his words. They regard each other for a moment, and Howard gives a small nod. 

"You said your wife and kid are out here in the city?" he asks.

Sans nods. "yeah, they're staying with someone. why?"

"With all this radio silence, must be hard not to be able to tell her what's really going on," he says, straightening his uniform. "If you want, I can take a message to her for you."

A small flutter of hope beats in his ribcage, only to get squashed back down. "i dunno the address."

His mouth twists into a half-hearted grin. "I'm a cop. Who's she staying with? I'm sure I can find them."

"oh, right. uh, his name is chris. christopher osborne, i think she said." He feels that dangerous optimism again.

"Hmm. Got anything else to help me narrow it down? Chris is a pretty common name."

"he's... twenty-two? white."

"He drives a black beemer," Deacon interjects, glancing over his shoulder. "And looks like a tool."

Howard chuckles, pointing at Deacon. "Thanks, man." He returns his attention to Sans. "That should be good enough. Anything in particular you want me to tell her?"

There's so much he wants to tell you. To tell Frisk. And he doesn't want Howard to ask him any questions. He mulls this over for a second. "can you give her a letter? is that ok?"

"Sure. I think I can manage that."

Chris gives you the spare key to his apartment before he leaves around nine to go to work. There's an awkward moment where he mentions never having anyone to give the other key to, and then he hurries out the door before it can sink in just how pathetic that is.

Frisk should be in school today. You should be in school today. You're sure that Toriel let Leveretta know where you and Frisk are, but you can't imagine that the kids won't be worried. And Asriel... Poor Asriel must be just as miserable as Frisk is. They whine about not being able to go home, not being able to go to school, not having any clean clothes, not wanting to take a shower in Chris's cramped bathroom... It's enough to drive you crazy.

You call Sans around midmorning, to check in with him.

Finally, as you're getting dressed to head out and do some shopping, you've had enough. They're sitting on the floor, pretending like they don't know how to tie their shoes, when you kneel on the floor in front of them, grab their laces, and fix them with a hard look.

"You need to stop this right now," you say, in that 'mom voice' you've perfected over the last year. "We have been through worse than this, and all this whining you're doing? You never did anything like this in the Underground. You're too tough, smart, and clever to be acting like a spoiled brat. Do you understand me?"

Frisk just stares at you, wide-eyed, as you yank their shoelaces just shy of too-tight. Then, as you hold their gaze, they bite their lip and give you a small nod. "Yes, Mom."

"Yes, what?"

"I'm sorry. I'm not helping, am I?" they ask in a small voice.

You let out a soft sigh, forcing yourself to give them a smile. "No, you're not. I know you're upset, we both are, and I need you on my side. Sweetie, we're all we've got right now."

"I know..." They lean forward and get to work tying their other shoe without the feigned ignorance they were doing before. You push yourself to your feet as they finish.

"Okay. Then lets go shopping."

It's a little jarring, shopping on a budget again. You realize just how spoiled you were, having access to all that money after the monster gold was converted into cash. The trip itself is unremarkable, and no one even seems to recognize you. It takes you a couple hours to pick up clothes for three days, as well as groceries for what you hope will last about a week. It takes you longer than normal because you have to check all the prices, and try to think of meals you can make with the cash on hand.

When all is said and done you only have about twenty dollars left. If you stay much longer than a week, Chris is going to have to pay for food.

Frisk is in a better mood the rest of the day. You find an old video game system tucked away in a box beside the television, back from when you and Chris were in high school, you think, and get it set up for them. They make a face when they see the jagged, low resolution graphics, but after a few minutes they start to enjoy themselves. You're cooking dinner when Chris gets home at six-thirty.

Glancing over your shoulder while you sauté some chicken and potatoes, Chris's eyes seem to light up at the sight of you. You feel a little embarrassed as he grins. "Oh man," he blurts out, shoving the door closed with his foot. "Oh man, that smells amazing."

You laugh, turning back to the stove and shrugging your shoulders. "It's nothing."

"It's not. Thanks for cooking!" he says. As you're about to answer, he starts talking again. "Oh nice, you found my old games. Are you... uh, you having fun?"

You expect silence as his only response. But, it seems, you can still be surprised. "Yeah. I mean, it's not as cool as my games back home, but this is okay."

When you turn to look at the two of them, Chris looks beside himself with happiness. He crouches down beside Frisk where they're sitting on the floor, tucking his hair behind his ear so he can glance over at them. "Oh for sure. Like, these games are older than you are. But I used to spend hours playing this, so if you get stuck or anything, just lemme know, okay?"

Frisk seems to consider this for a moment, then looks over at him. Seeing them right next to each other, it makes all those features that they share stand out even more. They really take after him, and it makes something in your chest feel uncomfortably tight. Sans is their father, there's no denying that. But Chris... Chris is still part of them.

Frisk bites their lip, then unfolds their legs and shifts onto their knees. They bring up a map screen in the game, and point at something. "I can't figure out how to get there. I don't have any keys and the door is locked."

With an eagerness that's bordering on overzealousness, Chris lets himself fall back into a sitting position and starts to unlace his shoes. "Okay, let me see where you've already gone..."

They spend the time while you're finishing up dinner focused on the game, and when you're done you bring them plates and join them on the floor. They pause it, but don't shut it off. You guess they'll be playing more of it after you eat. You're just glad that they're finally getting along.

Mid-bite, Chris makes a muffled noise of exclamation, shoving his hand into his pocket and pulling something out as he tries to swallow. "Almost forgot! Here," he says, holding it out to you.

It's a small, black cylinder decorated with pink skulls and crossbones, attached by the base to a carabiner clip. You recognize some kind of nozzle at the top. He waves it at you when you don't immediately take it.

"I mentioned that you were staying with me to this girl at work, Ruth. She told me to give you this. It's mace spray," he says, looking pleased with himself. "The, uh, decorations were already there. I swear that wasn't me."

You finally reach out and take it from him, turning it over in your hand. In tiny print, on the side, is instructions. "What's this for?"

"You said you didn't feel safe. I figured it might help," he says, his expression dimming a little. 

"Oh," you say, gripping the spray a little tighter. You give him a small smile. "I... thanks, Chris. That was... really thoughtful of you."

His smile widens a little and he nods. After a second, as he glances down at his food with a thoughtful look on his face. "Oh, so, I was checking the news at work. They briefly mentioned Ebott, about the Line closing. It's weird, because they didn't spend much time on it. Just said that there was some kind of quarantine? Which, from what you told me, sounds like a lie. And they didn't even mention you at all. You'd think after all the time they spent ragging on you that they'd want to report on you being 'free' or whatever."

Chris starts eating again, and doesn't notice the way you're staring at your plate, frowning. It is strange. Why would they go out of their way to just ignore you? Were they waiting? Well, as far as you know, no one outside of the military and the citizens of Ebott know what happened to you, so you suppose the normal reporters wouldn't know. But if the Vigilum were behind the surge of negative press, and probably behind the situation at the Line —not that Chris knows anything about the Vigilum or mages...

But if they'd been so adamant about smearing your name in the news before, then why are they being so quiet now?

   
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