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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119. Taken for Granted

'Son'?

Deacon stops before the two steps leading up to his front door. As you come up alongside him, you steal a glance. His brows are knit together, the muscles in his jaw and neck are tense. He's toeing the line of downright glaring at Grant, but holding himself back. Grant just looks down at you from his spot on top of the steps, waiting.

This can't be... this man doesn't look a thing like Deacon. And he just told you that he doesn't have a family.

"I asked you not to call me that," Deacon says in a clipped tone. You reach to touch his side and his eyes flick over to you. He swallows.

"And this must be your friend, Hope," Grant says, nodding at you. He holds out a hand towards you.

You look at it, hesitating. Whoever this man is, Deacon is clearly upset that he showed up, and it's making you uncomfortable. You don't want to shake his hand, but you do anyway. Because to refuse would just add more tension to this already tense situation. His hand is bigger than yours, bigger than Deacon's, dry and rough. The handshake is brief and formal, and the second he lets you go you pull your hand away to touch Deacon's arm again. Your friend brushes your fingers with his, a gesture of reassurance or solidarity maybe, and Grant's eyes drop to the movement and back up again to your eyes. He hooks his thumb on the belt loop of his khakis, studying you for a moment.

"Nice to meet you. I've seen you on the news, of course. And Deacon's mentioned you," he says, turning his attention to the blonde again. "Well, are we going inside, or would you rather speak on the porch?"

"Should I go? If you have company..." You trail off, torn between wanting to remove yourself from all this and wanting to be here for your friend. If he needs you, you'll stay.

"No. He showed up uninvited, and we already had plans. You don't need to leave," he says firmly, as if daring Grant to object. He fishes into his pocket for his keys, jerking his head towards the door. "Come on."

He shoulders his way past Grant and you follow him inside, ignoring the anxious twist of your stomach as you do so. Oh, this is so uncomfortable. You're not even sure what you can do to help, but you know that he doesn't want you to go. So you won't. You'll stay here with Deacon.

Deacon shuts the door once Grant is inside, turning the lock and gesturing towards an overstuffed chair at an angle with the couch. You don't think you've ever seen your friend sit in it, the two of you always prefer the sofa. "Have a seat," he says to the older man. Then he looks over at you, where you're standing rigidly off to the side, doing your best to stay out of the way. "Can you help me in the kitchen for a second?"

Nodding, you head into the other room with Deacon trailing behind you. He immediately walks over to the sink and turns on the faucet, turning to face the doorway to the living room and gesturing you close. Rubbing his face with one hand, he lets out a quiet snarl and balls the other into a fist, cutting it through the air before dropping to his side. "Son of a bitch," he hisses, dragging his hand through his hair, tugging the strands before letting go.

A little taken aback by his anger, you reach for his hand but he pulls away, shaking his head. Then, after a second, he takes in a slow, deep breath and as he exhales some of the tension leaves his face. He takes the hand he rejected. You squeeze his fingers, rubbing your thumb over his knuckles. Your other questions about Grant can wait for a second. There's another that's more important. "Are you okay?"

"I'll be fine," he says, meeting your eyes. He looks a little calmer, but he's holding your hand a little tighter than is comfortable. "I was going to tell you, I just didn't expect him to just... show up." He grimaces. "I'm sorry, this must be confusing."

You nod, biting your lip. "He called you 'son'. I thought you said you didn't have any parents." 

"I know. I don't. He just... Ugh, calling Grant a dad is like calling a physicist a doctor. He's got the title but not the know-how, you know? ...He had no clue what to do with me. He still doesn't," he says, his voice laced with bitterness. With a sigh, he rubs the back of his neck with his free hand. "He adopted me when I was twelve. But that doesn't make him family. I was just a charity case. 'Someone with my potential shouldn't be left to rot in the system'." Deacon's frown deepens. "No, instead of swapping shitty homes every year or so I just got stuck in the same one. He never cared about me. Just who I might be."

You remember what he told you at Thanksgiving. How lonely his childhood was. How he'd never let himself get attached to anyone out of fear of rejection. And this Grant person adopted him, took him in, and... just kept that cycle going. It makes you angry, and you can't blame him for keeping this to himself. "Did he hurt you?" you ask gently.

Deacon balks a little, caught off-guard. After a second his expression shifts and he glances away. "No, nothing like what you went through. He just..." Shaking his head, he lets go of your hand and pushes away from the counter, still watching the doorway. He grits his teeth. "Grant didn't abuse me. He's not... he's not a bad person. He just wasn't a father."

"Neglect is a type of abuse, Deacon," you say, brow furrowing. You close the distance between the two of you again, catching his eye. "I saw your Soul. How scuffed it was. And you asked me why it looked like that." Resting your hand over your chest, you swallow. "What my mother did to me cracked mine. It's slowly healing, but it'll never be without scars. What those people did to you, what Grant did to you, it left marks on you, too."

He grabs at the front of his vest, over his heart, balling the fabric in his hand, eyes widening. Shaking his head, he turns away from you, back towards the sink. "No," he says, not looking at you for a moment before turning towards you again. He has this desperate, anguished look on his face. "Hope, I'm not a victim, I'm not—"

"I never said you were. Is that what you think I am?" you ask in a measured tone.

"No!" he hisses, wanting to raise his voice but needing to keep quiet. At this point Grant must know you're just talking about him, but he hasn't interrupted yet. "You're a survivor."

"So are you."

Taken aback, he blinks and then swallows hard. "He's already suspicious, I'm sure. We can't stay in here."

He's right. And the last thing you want to do is press the matter any further. He's reaching that point where he's close to pushing you away, like when you tried to press him about what happened with Grillby. But this is far more serious, too close to home. You need to drop it. "What do you want to do?"

"What can I do? I have to talk to him."

"You can ask him to leave," you suggest weakly.

He just lets out a humorless laugh. "Oh, I'm sure that would go over great."

Deacon shuts off the sink and leads you back into the living room. Grant is sitting in the chair by the couch like Deacon suggested, his ankle resting on his knee and his hands folded over his stomach. He arches a brow as the two of you come into view, and those cold, dark eyes follow you when you sit on the couch together.

"You could have at least brought me a drink to at least keep up this charade," Grant says, giving Deacon an amused smile. "And young lady, you can stop looking at me like that, I'm not going to bite."

Oh, you don't like him. More than you already did. But that frustration gets buried by feeling chastised and you fold your arms in your lap. You feel, inexplicably, like you've been sent to the principal's office. "How did you get here? Homes are off-limits to non-residents," you ask, sounding more timid than accusatory, like you wanted.

"You'll find that they make exceptions for family," he says, uncrossing and recrossing his legs, shifting in his seat.

Deacon bristles beside you. "Stop it. I told her you're not actually family," he says, his voice tight and restrained.

He holds up his hands in a helpless gesture, shrugging. "Very well, then. But it doesn't stop the fact that as far as the law and the government are concerned, I am allowed certain rights as a parent. That's how I was allowed here."

"You could have called me first. Let me know you were coming."

"I did call you. Yesterday," Grant says, setting his hands down on the armrests of the chair.

"Oh, when you were out with Bo?" you chime in, looking over at Deacon.

He flinches, grimacing, and you realize that you shouldn't have said anything. Damn it! Grant's eyes narrow a fraction and he sniffs. "So all that talk on the news is true. You are dating a monster."

Deacon doesn't say anything. He glowers at his knees. You wish you could go and take it back.

"Deacon," Grant says in a warning tone, a step away from a reprimand.

"Yes," he blurts out, looking up at the older man with a defiant expression. "Yes I am. Not that it's something you should be worrying about."

There's a pause, and something you don't understand seems to pass between them. You ball your hands into fists against your stomach, resisting the urge to hunch forward and hug yourself. This tension is nearly unbearable. You just wish Grant would leave. Seeing Deacon like this makes your stomach twist into knots.

"Are you certain that's wise?" Grant says carefully, and you get the feeling that you're missing something. Neither of them are looking at you. But, you suppose, you really are the outsider here.

"Why wouldn't it be wise?" Deacon retorts, arching a brow and leaning back against the couch. He glances at you and back at Grant.

Grant's jaw tenses and he hesitates, sitting up a little straighter and lacing his fingers together. "You may be setting yourself up for disappointment. This situation with the monsters is tenuous at best."

Frowning, you resist the urge to argue that point. Besides, it seems Deacon is on the same page. "No it's not," he says. "The Line is opening in a week. If anything, things are moving forward better than expected."

"So I heard on the news. Along with every other person who might feel less than enthusiastic about this change," he says, looking over at you. He catches your eye and you're afraid to look away. "I hope you aren't planning on leaving until you have a better idea of what it's going to be like out there."

"My family has been stuck on Ebott for five months. What do you think is going to happen? People aren't just going to attack us on the streets," you say, incredulous.

Grant just watches you with that cold, unreadable expression as you feel your confidence eke away. Cowed, you glance down at the coffee table. "I'm just expressing my concern. Deacon, surely you understand. I worry about you."

Deacon lets out a small, annoyed sound, but doesn't protest.

"Perhaps it would be for the best if you put your plans on hold—"

"No," Deacon says.

Grant blinks, heavy brow furrowing. "Excuse me?"

"I said no. Hope and I are taking her family and friends across the Line. They've been behind this second barrier for too long, and fear of the unknown isn't going to stop us." He holds Grant's eye, jaw tensing. Your chest tightens, caught between being glad and anxious.

"...I see," Grant says slowly, studying the two of you. His expression softens to something like regret. "Well, for everyone's sakes, I hope my concerns are unfounded."

Deacon relaxes a little next to you, and you let out a breath you didn't realize you were holding. "Yeah, me too," he says.

There's an awkward moment of silence where no one seems sure of what to say. Your friend rubs the back of his neck and you chew on the inside of your lip while Grant observes in silence. This is just so... uncomfortable. Finally, as the moment drags out, Deacon lets out a frustrated sound and turns to you. He looks annoyed, and like he regrets what he's about to say.

"I ought to talk to him alone, maybe... you should head home," Deacon murmurs, biting back a wince.

You search his face, wondering if he's going to be okay. Well, he's dealt with Grant longer than he's ever known you. Surely he has his way of handling this. After a second you nod and stand, looking over at the older man. He just watches you, a polite smile curving his mouth.

"It was a pleasure to meet you," he says, not getting up from his seat.

"You too," you say, doing your best to be polite. You think you see his mouth twitch.

Deacon rises to his feet and walks you to the door, stepping outside for a minute. The second you're alone you reach for him and you hug each other tightly, wishing you could lend him some strength. "Tell me if you need anything. Anything. I can... I dunno, get Sans to teleport him away or something," you blurt out, muffled by his shoulder.

He lets out a humorless laugh, resting his chin on you. "I'm sorry you had to deal with all that. He's an ass. And I'm sorry you had to have all that sprung on you, I meant to tell you, honestly."

"Deacon it's fine, don't worry about it," you say, giving him one last squeeze before pulling away to look at him. "But I'm serious, tell me if you need me."

"I can handle it... but thank you."

He gives you a weak smile, and it's all you can do to just watch him go back inside without you, to deal with that man.

A few hours later, when your family is home and you're wrapped up in Sans's arms, telling him everything that happened, you get a text. 'Grant is gone. Everything went fine. Really. I mean it.'

As you look at it, wondering if he's being honest, Deacon sends another.

'I promise. Best friends.' 

He says it like a question, not a statement. A need for affirmation.

'Best friends.' You reply, ignoring the ache in your chest.

   
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