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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51. Stay Determined

Alphys and Undyne are at the house within the hour. The fish monster has a tin of tea to restock your supply and she pulls you into a crushing hug the second your eyes start to water and you thank her. The doctor wastes no time heading upstairs to check on Frisk and the two of you follow in her wake.

Sans is still with Frisk. The two of you agreed not to leave them alone, making sure that someone was there in case there are any changes. He's fidgeting with one of the cold compresses when you enter the room. Sliding off the bed to give Alphys some space, he moves to stand next to you. A warm, smooth hand slides into yours and squeezes hard. After a moment you squeeze back.

Alphys adjusts her glasses as she looks over Frisk, pressing a small, scaled hand to the side of their face and fumbling a little awkwardly at their wrist. She mentioned having gone through a few books she found during the few hours between your early morning texts and your call. She must have picked up on a few things, at least.

"Do you know what's wrong? Is Frisk going to be okay?" Undyne asks, clenching her fists and grimacing. The muscles in her arms are tense under smooth bluish scales and her body is rigid. She's angry, but she doesn't have anything to do with it.

Alphys doesn't answer her, instead turning to look at you and Sans. "The books I have are old, and some of them are damaged. But from what I was able to read, cooling them off with these cloths is a good idea. I'm sure it'll help a lot while I t-try to figure something out," she says, more composed than you've ever seen her. Frowning, she looks away. "I'm not sure what's wrong other than Frisk's elevated temperature —the fever— but I'm going to do everything I can! I-I'm going to do this."

"So what do I do?" you ask. Desperation tightens your voice, tenses your muscles.

"What you're already doing. Make sure they keep cool to try and bring their temperature down. T-that's the best advice I found aside from medicine I don't have. Yet." She frowns deeper, running a hand over her face. Her expression softens as she glances at Frisk. "Their Soul doesn't feel sick from what I can tell, so whatever it is, it's not magical. If they start to get hotter, wipe them down with more cool water. It sh-should help."

"That's it? Alphys, there has to be something I can—" You cut yourself off, covering your mouth with your free hand as your eyes swim with tears. Sinking down onto the edge of the bed, tears spill down your cheeks silently as you start shaking. Sans sits down beside you, putting an arm around your shoulders and pulling you against him.

"I'm sorry," Alphys says, reaching out to timidly brush your knee. "But I'm going to do everything I can. I have to get back to the lab."

"thanks for coming over Alphys," Sans says.

"Of course, Sans. What're f-friends for?"

Undyne hesitates as Alphys leaves the room. You feel her watching you, then the weight of her pressing down on the mattress beside you. When you steal a blurry look at her, she's kneeling over Frisk, taking hold of one tiny hand between both of hers and squeezing. "Okay, squirt! You have to get better! We still have lots of training to do until you're as tough as me! No, tougher! I know that one day you're going to be able to kick my ass, do you hear me?!" She shakes Frisk's hand, her muscles tensing as her voice cracks. "Alphys is gonna find a way to make you get back up, I know she is... But you know what would be even more badass? If you got better all on your own and showed that nerd of mine just how tough you are."

She turns to look at you and you draw in a shaky breath as you try and clear your eyes. It's not working very well but you think Undyne's good eye is glassy. "You're tough too, punk," she says, letting go of Frisk's hand so she can squeeze your shoulder. "Do you want me to stay here?"

"No," you say thickly, sniffling. "No if there's nothing I can do... I'd feel better knowing you're with Alphys if she needs help."

"You got it. You call one of us if you need ANYTHING okay?" She squeezes your shoulder again and you wince before she lets you go.

"I will."

A few more hours must have passed because you hear the front door open and shut and Papyrus shout a greeting to the house. It was a haze of silent tears and reapplying cold compresses, listening to Frisk's breathing and waiting anxiously for some sign of them waking up. At one point they groaned and squeezed your hand, but just as you felt hope stir in your chest they went still again.

Sans mumbles a curse and pushes himself to his feet, vacating one of the two chairs you brought up to the bedroom. He slips out into the hall.

"HOW IS FRISK DOING?"

You're sitting on the edge of your chair, weight leaned forward onto your elbows as you hunch over the bed, holding Frisk's hand. They make a small, faint sound but go quiet as you stroke your thumb across their knuckles. For the first time since falling into the Underground, you really, truly wish that you were on the surface.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?"

Flinching, you barely glance up at the door as Papyrus shoves it open, rushing into the room with Sans trailing behind him. You expect him to push his way to the side of the bed maybe, or to reach out for Frisk's limp body. Instead he lingers in the center of the room, staring with wide, scared eyes.

"I DON'T UNDERSTAND. HOW COULD FRISK FALL DOWN?" he says, voice trembling.

"they didn't fall down, we don't know that for sure," Sans says, his tone soothing. He reaches up to pat Papyrus's shoulder. "they're just sick. it doesn't mean..." Trailing off, Sans gives his brother a comforting squeeze.

"What does that mean?" you ask, voice hoarse. You feel scraped out and emptied, hollow. "Falling down. You said something about that too, Sans. And I think I saw that phrase in the True Lab."

Papyrus bites back a small sob as you see tears gather in his eye sockets, hugging himself. Sans looks down at the floor. "it's a monster thing. before we die, like from illness or old age, nonviolent things... we fall unconscious. we're still alive for a little while like that, before we turn to dust."

"Oh," you say.

"BUT YOU SAY THIS ISN'T THE SAME, SANS? FRISK CAN STILL WAKE UP, RIGHT?" Papyrus wipes his face with his gloved hands.

"absolutely. alphys is hard at work in the lab right now trying to help, too. we've just been here with frisk, waiting for them to get better." Sans rubs his face and muffles a yawn, which snaps Papyrus's attention to him.

"BROTHER YOU LOOK EXHAUSTED. LET ME STAY WITH THE HUMANS WHILE YOU GET SOME SLEEP."

You look at Sans and realize that he's right. Sans is exhausted; you can see dark circles under darker eye sockets, dim lights scanning yours. How had you not noticed? You nod at him weakly. "You should rest. I get the feeling it's gonna be another long night," you say.

"what about you? you need sleep too, babe," he says, frowning.

"Even if I tried, I don't think I could sleep right now. Maybe later." You shake your head, squeezing Frisk's hand.

Sans comes up beside you, running his fingers along the curve of your cheek and pushing loose strands of hair behind your ear. "are you sure?"

Nodding, you lean a little into his touch. It's more for his sake than yours, letting him know you aren't upset with him. Even though a small, scared, angry part of you wants to lash out. If he had been more careful, if you had told him more... This wouldn't have happened. You force a small, reassuring smile that isn't much more than a twitch at the corners of your mouth. "I'm sure."

You let him lean down to nuzzle the side of your face, turning a little and reaching up to cup his jaw in return. "get me if you need me."

"Okay."

Sans leaves the room, glancing back at you before closing the door behind him. Light filters in from behind a drawn curtain, but for the most part you're in calm, quiet darkness. It reminds you of your stay in the hospital when you had Frisk. The nights were quiet in the maternity wing, save for the hum of the air conditioner. But there was always light peeking in from under the door and from the equipment in the room.

Papyrus lowers himself onto the chair next to you, hands gripping his knees. You glance over at him but return your attention to Frisk's face, then down to the slow, shallow rise and fall of their chest.

"Sans blames himself," you say, softly. You realize this is the first time that Sans has willingly left your side. You were the one leaving him; to go check the store, to cook, to re-soak the washcloths. He wasn't even letting himself sleep. Did he sleep at all last night, even after he told you to?

Papyrus shifts in his seat. His voice is quiet when he talks. "Do you blame him?"

Looking back at Papyrus again, you let go of Frisk's hand so that you can lean back in your chair. You realize your back is aching. Biting your lip, you wrap your arms around yourself. "A little," you admit. "I know I shouldn't, he didn't let it happen on purpose..."

"He should have been more careful," Papyrus agrees, much to your surprise. "I cannot tell you how to feel, and I don't think that you are being unfair. But I can tell you Sans loves you both very much, and if he had known he never would have let anything bad happen. He may be very lazy about many things but..." He smiles at you, reaching out to touch your arm. "When he cares about something, or someone, he tries. He tries for you and for Frisk. He's tried more in the last three months than I've seen from him since... well since we moved here to Snowdin."

But what about when all his trying isn't enough? You think you'd be crying if you didn't already feel wrung dry. Instead your chest just aches and you hug yourself tighter. "I don't know what I'm gonna do, if Frisk..." You can't finish the sentence. Your throat won't let you. Papyrus strokes your arm as you shudder.

"You don't need to know. Hopefully you will never know. If I lost Sans, I wouldn't know what I would do either. How do you prepare to lose someone that you love?" Papyrus sighs, turning his head to look at Frisk again.

You don't know what to say to that. Unwrapping your arms from around yourself, you lean forward on your elbows again, taking hold of Frisk's hand. Papyrus smooths your hair down your back, and the motion is soothing. You don't say anything, and he doesn't stop, content to sit there in silence with you as you wait for something, anything, to change.

Frisk, you have to stay determined. Don't give up.

The voice and the words, they're both distantly familiar but they're not sure why. But the voice is loud and it was so quiet and peaceful before. Frisk pulls away, deeper into the darkness. It's warm and comfortable, their throat doesn't burn and their body doesn't ache.

If you stay here, you're going to lose everything.

I like it here. It doesn't hurt here.

Frisk, you have to stay determined.

Why does that sound so familiar?

Chara hesitates.

Chara, why do you care?

Because I know what it feels like to die, and I don't want to feel it again through you.

How did you die?

Chara's consciousness buzzes angrily, pushing against Frisk's. Frisk draws away, confused.

It doesn't matter how! What's important is that you don't die, you idiot! Stay determined!

You didn't answer me before, when I asked you why that sounds familiar.

You're right, I didn't.

Tell me.

...My father said those words to me before I died.

Your dad? Was he nice?

Frisk starts to feel themselves slipping away, Chara's voice sounding more and more distant.

Frisk! You have to stay determined! Don't give up!

Sans knows that even though you haven't said the words, you must be blaming him. He deserves it. This is his fault. If he had been more careful, more cautious, Frisk would be fine. They wouldn't be unconscious, draped in wet cloth and burning with fever.

He sent you and Papyrus to go eat and sleep about an hour ago. The house is quiet and he's alone with Frisk, slouched back in a chair with his hands shoved deep in his pockets. He watches them, notices how still they are. They haven't groaned or shifted in the last forty-five minutes, their breathing is frighteningly shallow. It's been a long time since he's seen a monster that's fallen down, but this is far too similar for comfort. He can't help but keep checking for the presence of dust.

You've barely spoken to him since Frisk wouldn't wake up. He can't blame you. He can't even muster up the energy to be frustrated or defend himself. Because he's too busy agreeing with the words you won't say. His fault. He should have tried harder. This shouldn't have happened. Did his laziness do this to Frisk? Had he just not cared enough to bother trying to tell the kids 'no'? Was it just easier to let them do as they pleased?

He wishes he could tell himself it isn't true. But if he tried, he wouldn't believe it.

Some dad he'd be.

The room is too quiet. He can't make out the faint hiss of Frisk's breathing over his own. Bones humming with a sudden lurch of fear, Sans leans forward and reaches for Frisk's neck the way you did, probing gently at the line of their throat for their heartbeat. For one maddeningly-long moment he can't find it but then, finally, he can feel the slow but steady rhythm under his phalanges. Their Soul pulses in time with their heart, but he thinks that underneath the low tone he can feel a faint fluttering. Something strange and secondary. But, now that he's leaning closer, he can hear the faint drag of air between parted lips.

Sans buries his face into the blankets at Frisk's side, gripping the back of his skull with both hands. The feeling of utter helplessness is maddening. He's at the mercy of the universe, caught up with no way of fighting back, completely powerless.

please. please don't take frisk away from me. from her. even if a reset doesn't happen, i'll still lose everything. how can she ever forgive me? whatever, whoever, is out there tormenting me. tell me what you want and i'll give it to you, as long as you don't take my humans away.

He feels tears gathering in empty sockets as he squeezes them shut, scraping the back of his head with his fingers. He feels beaten and broken, punished for every moment he has that he shouldn't. Is this his final penance for surviving the accident? To finally find this happiness only to have it stripped away?

i'll try harder. i'll do more around the house. i'll... i'll pay off my damn tab at grillby's for fuck's sake, whatever you want! what do you want from me?!

"Dad?"

Sans's head jerks up at the sound of Frisk's thin, hoarse voice, tears slipping down his cheekbones as his eyes open wide. They're looking at him from beneath heavy lids, moistening dry lips with their tongue. "kiddo?"

"I don't feel good. And I'm tired," Frisk mumbles, their eyes fluttering as they threaten to close.

Sans lurches forward, cupping their cheek and patting gently. "no, stay awake kiddo, c'mon! stay with me," he begs, panic swelling inside of him, only to be joined by relief as their eyes open and meet his again. He gives the kid a shaky smile. "there ya go. how about i go get your mom, okay? i know she'll be thrilled to see you awake."

As he pushes away from the bed and goes to stand, he's stopped by a tiny hand grabbing his fingers. "Wait, I don't... I'm so tired... Dad."

Dad. So it hadn't just been a single slip of the tongue.

"anything you want, frisk," Sans says, sandwiching that tiny hand between his, covering it. "i'm here."

"Anything?" they ask, and Sans can't help but huff a weak laugh at the hopeful sound in their voice. Like he wouldn't pull down the mountain if he could, just to keep that kid happy.

"anything."

"Mom said not to say anything to you, but maybe it can be a secret. But... I really want you to be my dad, Sans." Frisk gives a slow blink, and their eyes are a little unfocused. Sans can't help but wonder if the kid is a little out of it, if they'll even remember this conversation.

But it doesn't matter if they do or not. How can he say no? "of course. but we can't keep that a secret from your mom, and she has to say it's okay. deal, kid?"

Frisk blinks again, but this time their eyes don't reopen. Sans squeezes their hand.

"kid?"

He reaches up to cup their face. They're still burning up. Shallow breaths hiss past their teeth. Whatever made them regain consciousness, it's gone now.

 
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