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.


206. Recollection

Things with Gaster are going well. He’s adjusting, mostly, to being back in the real world, though not without some difficulty. Whenever lost in thought or focused on a task he falls back into the habit of talking to that blaster, Plato, that isn’t there; asking it questions to sort through his own mind. His sleep cycle (and sense of time in general) is still disjointed to the point of nonexistence. More than once Sans has woken up in the middle of the night only to find his father poking around on the household laptop, or trying to cook breakfast for a family that wouldn’t be up for another four hours. Then there was the day that he had forgotten to sleep entirely, and it wasn’t until he’d nearly fallen asleep on the stairs that anyone realized what had happened. You’ve been trying to keep better tabs on his day-to-day since then.

Gaster’s little hiccups in time, those five-second delays in his responses or speaking too soon, haven’t improved. They still happen with concerning regularity. At least he hasn’t had another one of those melting episodes that you’d told Sans about. That side effect of whatever’s been going on with him worries Sans more than he’d like to admit. He’s still trying to adjust to having Gaster around, to even begin to think of him as his father, and the thought that he might get snatched away is too much for him to dwell on. Besides, Gaster doesn’t seem overly concerned about it, so maybe he shouldn’t be either.

Easier said than done, but he does his best.

Papyrus comes to visit almost daily, with and without Mettaton. He says that Mettaton is busy catching up with the goings-on at the hotel, but Sans thinks it’s a bit more than that. It wasn’t noticeable at first with how Gaster was, and still is, so attentive to Papyrus whenever he comes over. But their father barely acknowledges Mettaton’s presence. He’s not outwardly rude or dismissive but… Sans gets the feeling that Gaster doesn’t likeMettaton. And, well, maybe a few years ago Sans would have been more than happy to push him in that direction, but Papyrus and Mettaton have been married for a while now.

Sans sort of feels bad for Mettaton, and can’t really blame him for not wanting to come over. You don’t like it, though. You’d made a point, years ago, to make sure that the robot felt welcome in your home. You, who had every reason to hold a grudge for the rest of your life if you so chose. And Gaster is disrupting that.

You haven’t said anything to him about it, yet, but Sans knows you. You won’t let this continue forever.

With summer vacation rapidly coming to a close, you have to make time to get to school to help Leveretta set up her classroom for the new year. It’s for that reason that Sans takes Gaster with him to the lab today.

It’s not that you and Sans don’t trust him at home by himself, it’s just… you’re both worried about him. You know he doesn’t like being left alone.

He’s brought him before, introducing him to Alphys and explaining the situation (as best he could without bringing Frisk or Asriel into it). She’d been surprisingly receptive to the whole ordeal, and spoke with Gaster at length about the blueprints they’d been passing around trying to decipher.

Later, after they’d gone home for the day, she’d called Sans so that they could talk. About the accident. She tried to apologize for not trying harder, for not being there for him like she could have. (“Y-you’d lost your father! Maybe you didn’t remember, b-but… No wonder you were in so much pain.”) But he knew that no matter how hard she tried it wouldn’t have helped. (“you tried getting through that thick skull of mine for weeks,alphys. you did more than you needed to.”) He never would have let her in, and he told her that. She didn’t believe him, but she let it go anyway.

Alphys is already there when Sans and Gaster arrive, teleporting in after a series of quick jumps. Gaster presses a hand to the side of his head when they stop, catching himself on Sans’s shoulder as he lets out a soft, distressed noise. For a moment he’s worried that the teleportation did something to mess with his already questionable stability, and Sans turns towards him, reaching out to brace him. But then Gaster shakes his head, giving a weak, reassuring smile before collecting himself and pulling away.

“I’m fine,” Gaster says, resting a hand on his midsection. “It’s just been a while. It always did turn my stomach, even when you were a child.”

“you don’t have a stomach,” Sans says, studying his face for a moment to try and see if he’s hiding something. But if he is, he can’t tell. Gaster just looks… calm. Composed. That same, withdrawn and guarded way that he is when talking to Sans. Like he’s worried about acting overly familiar. At first he was grateful for that distance, but after watching him with Papyrus he’s not sure how he feels about it anymore. He forces a smile. “which means i guess you never had the stomach for it in the first place.”

Gaster’s expression brightens immediately, laughing. It’s not a great joke. Hell, it’s barely even a good one, but his dad seems to like it and that was the point. So, mission accomplished.

There’s a brief point, where Sans’s smile isn’t quite so forced, where something almost like fondness creeps inside his ribcage and Gaster rests his hand on his shoulder. Not for balance or anything else, but just because he wants to. And Sans feels a little… proud of making his father laugh. It’s a familiar sort of feeling, like he’s done this before, hundreds of times, and—

“Oh, you b-brought Doctor Gaster with you!” Alphys shuffles up towards them, already dressed in her lab coat with a folder clutched in one hand and tucked under her arm. She adjusts her glasses with the other, looking between the two of them with a shaky smile.

Gaster’s hand falls away from his shoulder and Sans steps away from him, closing the distance between himself and Alphys. He takes a quick glance at the folder, but he can’t see anything written on it just yet. “yeah, hope’s busy today, so…” He trails off with a shrug.

“I’m sorry,” Gaster says, folding his hands over his middle. “If that’s a problem I can—”

“No, not at all!” Alphys blurts out, stepping around Sans to peer excitedly up at Gaster. Her tail swishes across the ground, then goes still. “I was actually hoping to go over some things with you the next time you were here. I’ve been having some unexpected complications with…”

As she goes off into detail, Gaster leaning in a little closer, giving her his undivided attention, Sans can’t help but feel a little annoyed. Trying not to dwell on being so abruptly swept aside, he goes to fetch his lab coat from a nearby peg. He hesitates for a second, then grabs a second one, the one that Gaster used the last time he was here. It’s old, a little dingy, clearly left behind years ago and never thrown away. There’s a place that looks like it once held a nametag but wherever it is it’s long gone. It’s the only one that fits him, but it fits him perfectly. Like it was made for him. It probably was.

“Are you going to be coming more often?” Alphys asks Gaster, glancing over at Sans as he approaches with the coats.

“Ah.” Gaster’s eyes dart over to Sans, looking uncertain. Sans holds out his coat and he takes it, fumbling a little as he shoves his long arms through the sleeves. He clears his throat. “I’m not certain. I wouldn’t be adverse to the idea, though I’m still… adjusting. Perhaps, er, that is to say…”

Sans decides to rescue him from his floundering, knowing full well that he’s only avoiding an answer so as to not step on his son’s toes. “we should get him a badge, just in case. gaster and i can talk about it later.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea!” Alphys says, bobbing her head up and down in agreement as she heads towards one of the computers. “And there’s no p-pressure, Doctor Gaster, it’s just nice having another person here who sort of knows how all this works… I’ve been doing what I can to improve on your designs —Sans and I both have!— but it’s, uh… I mean…”

“It’s a very intricate system, and very convoluted,” Gaster says reassuringly, giving her a kind smile. “You’ve done exceptionally well, considering that without a means to decipher the schematics left behind, you essentially had to reverse-engineer much of the system to find a way to include your additions.”

Alphys is blushing, pleased and embarrassed at the attention. She distracts herself with the computer. “Really, it wasn’t… I-I mean, I was just building off of the amazing work you’d left behind, I’m sure it’s sloppy compared to what you c-could have done.”

“Nonsense,” he says, smoothing down the front of his lab coat, standing a little straighter, holding his head a little higher. He’s more confident here, talking to Alphys, and Sans can only imagine this is a glimpse at the man he was before. The Royal Scientist, the man who’d created the Core. “Don’t discredit yourself, Alphys. You’ve done amazing things. I always suspected that you’d do well, and you proved me right.”

Alphys is starting to sweat a little, growing more uncomfortable and less flattered as Gaster speaks. “I-I’m not sure I’d call what I’ve done amazing…”

“You created a new body for your friend.”

She fidgets with her claws. “Yeah, to t-trick Asgore…”

“You became the Royal Scientist after me.”

“B-because of a lie!”

Sans gives Gaster a confused look. How can he not see how uncomfortable she is? “gaster…” he says, trying to gently get his attention.

But Gaster is too focused, too caught up in his train of thought to notice either of them. “And then there was your work with determination. I have a huge amount of respect for what you tried to accomplish to free our people from the Underground, even if—”

“L-look, Doctor Gaster,” she says, turning around now to face him, pale beneath her yellow scales. “I made a m-mistake. I made so many mistakes when I was d-down in that place. The Amalgamates are h-happy, sort of, but I shouldn’t have… I guess it turned out okay, in the end? But I was toying with p-people’s lives and that’s not… Don’t respect me for what I’m m-most ashamed of.”

“My dear, you were only doing what you thought was best,” he says, spreading his hands. “And we’d run tests with determination before—”

“I didn’t know that, then! I thought I w-was doing something totally new and d-dangerous and…” She shakes her head, pushing up her glasses and pinching the bridge of her nose as she stares at the floor. When she speaks again her words come in an angry rush. “And your tests were on healthy subjects. You were smart and did things the right way, with control groups and disclosure; you told them what you were doing! We were all behind you, you had the support of everyone and I was skulking down there by myself with no one to hold me accountable except my— Why are you looking at me like that?”

Gaster is staring at her, wide-eyed (well, as wide as he can get them, the one socket still droops no matter what he does) and mouth parted. Sans takes a step forward, just as confused in his sudden change of mood, squinting and studying his father’s face when it hits him. She—

“You remembered,” Gaster says, clutching at the front of his turtleneck, fingers trembling and voice thin. “You remembered the experiments, you remembered something from before — Sans.” He turns to Sans, a wild, desperate look in his eyes that catches him off-guard. Grasping, clinging to his shoulders, Gaster holds him tightly, bending down so that they’re eye-to-eye. “Sans, do you remember? Do you remember anything? Anything at all.”

He tries. He really does, and after a moment of silence, of Gaster leaning uncomfortably close and his fingers digging into his bones even through his lab coat and his shirt so hard that it hurts, he sees the moment that he’s been quiet too long. The moment that the spark of hope dies in his father’s eyes. Despite the thrill of discomfort, the worry and even the bit of fear, Sans feels like the world’s biggest asshole. That he can’t even remember his own dad. That he can’t even bring himself to lie just so that Gaster didn’t have to feel this moment snatched away from him.

“i’m sorry,” Sans says, and he means it.

Gaster stares at him a moment longer, like it might make some difference, and then, trembling, he lets Sans go and pulls away. He rubs his temple with one hand, looking off to the side, anywhere but at the two people watching him, lost for words. “It’s quite all right, it’s not your fault. Perhaps it’s mine, for involving you with the machine in the first place, for how the accident affected you,” he says, his voice flat. He has his emotions under lock and key now, buried deep, deep beneath the surface. Gaster still doesn’t look at anyone. “Alphys. How much do you remember?”

Alphys jumps at the sound of her name, her eyes darting to meet Sans’s. She wrings her hands. “W-well, I… I’m not sure it just s-sort of… Came out? I  mean… I sort of r-remember those experiments, a little? But I don’t… That’s it.”

He nods, once, dragging his fingers across his forehead. “Perhaps there are triggers, ways to… unlock your memories of me. I’ll have to think about this, take matters into consideration…” Gaster mutters to himself, his voice lowering to the point of inaudibility.

“gaster…” Sans says, unsure of what to say but knowing, deep down, that he can’t just stay quiet.

Gaster looks up at the sound of his voice, meeting his eyes, and a tight, rigid smile pulls at his mouth. “We’ll figure this out. Both of us. Together. Just like before. You were my best assistant and I know with the two of us, we’ll… We’ll fix your memories. And your brother’s. You’ll rememberme.”

“yeah,” Sans says, because what else can he say? He’s afraid of what disagreeing might do. “yeah, we’ll figure it out.”

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