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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163. These Cages Don't Need Bars

Sans still hasn't called you by the time you pull up in front of Chris's apartment. He's in the middle of a squat, dingy building, right in the center of the complex. His shiny BMW looks incredibly out of place. The asphalt of the parking lot is pitted and the painted lines marking spaces is worn off in spots and faded in others. As you get out of the car you can hear the traffic from the freeway, despite the cement wall meant to minimize the noise. The huge, beige wall looms over the apartments.

Jacobs doesn't get out of his jeep, which is a small mercy. He pulls up behind your car, catches your eye as you help Frisk out of the backseat, and gives you a nod while he waits. You grit your teeth and do your best to ignore him.

Frisk clutches your hand, keeping close to your side as you walk up the cracked sidewalk to Chris's door. They don't say anything; don't argue, don't ask you any questions, don't make any sound. It worries you more than if they were angry. When you glance down to check on them their eyes are hidden behind their bangs, but they sniffle and scrub their face with the sleeve of their jacket. 

"This is just for right now," you murmur, squeezing their hand. You might not have been able to lie to Papyrus and Mettaton, to say that everything was going to be okay when you had no way of knowing if that was true. But for Frisk, you can manage it. "This isn't going to be forever, and we'll be back with your dad soon."

"He promised that he wouldn't let them take us away," Frisk says. Their voice is hollow, emotionless, and it tears you up inside. Hasn't Frisk been through enough? Haven't you all been through enough?

"I know, baby. Give him and the others time. I'm sure they'll think of something," you say, willing yourself to believe it too. But your platitudes ring false, and you're not sure that Frisk is comforted. You're not sure that you are either. "Asgore won't let this go on for long, I'm sure of it."

They don't answer.

As you knock on the door you glance over your shoulder in time to see Jacobs pulling away. Well, now he knows where you'll be staying. He must have a reason for wanting to follow you, and you suspect this is part of it. A chill runs down your spine.

You already feel jittery from the adrenaline, anxious and hyper aware of your surroundings. So when the door opens with the loud crack of a too-snug fitting being forced apart, you can't help but jump a little. Chris is standing there, gray eyes darting from you down to Frisk, and for a second his mouth twitches into a half-smile and he goes to say something. But then he looks at you again and his smile disappears. Frisk's grip on you tightens and they duck behind your leg.

"I'm sorry," you mumble, and you're not even sure what you're sorry for. For showing up with barely any notice, for Frisk not wanting to be here at all, for being so miserably unhappy that even Chris can feel it. Because whatever Chris had planned for his Sunday evening, you can't imagine it included dealing with... this.

He tucks his hair behind his ear, some strands getting caught on the silver rings of his piercings. "It's fine. Come on in," he says, taking a step back and jerking his thumb over his shoulder. "It's, uh... It's small, but you're more than welcome for as long as you need."

Chris's apartment is... he wasn't kidding. It's a tiny studio, with a cramped kitchenette and only one door which you imagine leads to the bathroom. There's a tiny loft with a crawl space that's literally just big enough for a mattress without a frame, with a steep ladder that leads up to it. A small TV is set against one wall with a ratty old couch across from it, and there's a basket of folded laundry sitting on the floor. You don't see a dresser anywhere, is that where he keeps his clothes? Two guitars rest off to the side, next to an amp. At least it looks clean.

"Sorry," Chris mumbles, and you hear the sound of him forcing the door closed and the scrape of the deadbolt. "It's not much, but it beats sleeping on Eric's couch. That place was a fu— uh, a pigsty."

Frisk skirts around you, keeping your body between them and Chris as he shifts past you and into the center of the room. He looks at the two of you uncertainly, fiddling with the barbell through his eyebrow as uncomfortable silence fills the apartment. You're not sure what to say or do. You feel caught in limbo, waiting for Sans to call you so that the other shoe can finally drop. How is he going to react? You're certain that he shouldn't be alone for the news, but will he really try and lash out?

With their face buried in your side, you rest your hand on Frisk's head. At the very least you know that this needs to be dealt with. Right now, it's all you can do. "Sweetie, c'mon now," you murmur, carding your fingers through their hair (Chris's straight brown hair). 

"No," they mumble, muffled by you.

"Frisk—"

"I want my dad!" Frisk yells, jerking away from you and glaring up at you with tears slipping down their cheeks. "I don't want to be here! You said he didn't want us."

You raise a hand to your chest, clutching at your locket. "I don't want to be here either!" you blurt out, your voice thick as your vision blurs. "I want to be home, too. But they won't let us go home, so this is what we've got right now."

They turn away from you, standing in the corner by the front door and staring at the wall because they've got nowhere else to go. Shoulders shaking, they wrap their arms around themselves and sink into a crouch, huddled there as they cry. For a moment all you can do is stand there and stare, frustration and grief threatening to choke you. Then, as you tamp down your tears once again, determined not to let yourself break yet, you sit beside them, resting back against the door. Frisk flinches away when you rest a hand on their shoulder, but you don't let it deter you. You stroke their back, smoothing their hair, letting them know you're there. After a moment you glance up at Chris.

He's standing there, watching the two of you, his lips parted and his expression twisted into something helpless and desperate. Like he wants to do something to help, but he knows it's not his place. You catch his eye and shake your head. He closes his mouth and turns away, a pained look on his face.

It takes a couple minutes, but soon Frisk relents. They crawl, sniffling, into your lap, resting their head on your shoulder and draping their arms around your neck. Still running your fingers through their hair, you rock gently back and forth, holding them close. It reminds you of when they were smaller. When the worst problem could be solved by a hug and some soothing words. That feels so damn long ago now.

"I wanna go home," they whimper.

"Me too, sweetie," you say, and as you close your eyes, swallowing back the lump rising in your throat, your phone starts to ring.

Sans is sitting at the kitchen bar, doing his best to ignore his phone as he keeps Toriel company. She and Asriel came over about an hour ago, hoping to talk to you about Deacon, and she was never very good at sitting idle. So to keep herself occupied she's doing what she does best: making pies. His phone is sitting on the granite counter in front of him, the screen dark. You haven't texted him once since leaving the house, and he hasn't texted you.

You don't want to talk to him. You're angry, and beneath the layers of frustration he knows you have every reason to be. He'd reacted out of fear, kept reacting out of fear, and then when he'd slowly realized that Deacon wasn't a threat he'd soldiered on through sheer stubbornness. It's the dissonance, fucking with his head and setting him on edge. Now that he's been away from Deacon, away from that nagging feeling, it's easier to see that he should have listened. Normally he was so much more patient and clear-headed. He doesn't like how this thing between their Souls is affecting him.

But at least he has a name for that uneasiness. A clear explanation that's, to be perfectly honest, not Deacon's fault. You were right; they had been becoming friends, despite it. But that just made this whole thing worse, this deception. To put so much effort into trusting him, only to find out that he was a mage. A mage of all damn things. The one thing that monster kind had hoped they'd never have to deal with again. Now he has to reconcile these two Deacons in his mind. Your best friend, the man that was thrust unwillingly into his life six months ago, and this... mage spy. He admitted to spying. Maybe not for malicious reasons, but... The Deacon he thought he knew never existed.

...Besides, would Deacon ever be able to look at him the same again?

"Sans?"

He snaps to attention at the sound of Toriel's voice, and the frustrated look on her face tells him that he'd missed something. "sorry tori," he says, giving her a lazy grin. He raps on the side of his skull, making a hollow sound. "being a bit of an air head."

"You do not have to pretend for my sake, my friend," she says gently, giving him a sympathetic look. "I understand if you do not wish to speak of what is bothering you, though I can only assume that it is the obvious... But you do not have to smile if you are unhappy."

Sans looks back down at his phone, his smile slipping a little. "s'ok. just habit, i guess," he says. He hadn't wanted to talk about his fight with you, still doesn't want to. "i'm sure it'll be fine."

"It will be," she agrees with a reassuring smile. "She will forgive you."

He arches a brow. "how'd you know i was worried about hope?"

Toriel gives him an indulgent look, which just makes him feel... young. Young and naive. He supposes, compared to her, he is. "Because she is not here with you. I cannot imagine that you would be separate from her right now, with this revelation, unless she was still cross with you."

"hey, hope and i aren't always together," he says, a little too defensively.

She lets out a soft laugh. "I apologize, am I getting under your skin?"

That earns her a weak chuckle, which seems to please her. But as he's about to answer he hears the sound of the front door opening. Turning in his seat, he looks towards the foyer as Asriel appears from the living room. He looks expectant, then confused, which is odd.

"OH. UH. YOUR HIGHNESS!" Papyrus blurts out from out of sight, sounding nervous. That's odd too. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? NOT THAT YOU'RE UNWELCOME! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM ALWAYS HAPPY TO SEE YOU!"

Sans slides off his seat, making his way towards the front door. He's greeted by the sight of Papyrus and Mettaton crowded in front of the door, Asriel frowning at them as he cranes his head to try and look around them. And towards the back, still halfway on the front porch, is—

"what's deacon doing here?" he asks sharply, casting his brother an annoyed look. Then, after a pause, he looks back at Deacon, at the miserable look on his face, and all at once he feels dread start to prickle at the base of his neck. "where's... where's hope?"

There's a moment of silence as Papyrus looks down at the floor, wringing his hands. Even Mettaton looks upset, distraught over something.

Sans lets out a clipped, tense laugh, though it's the last thing he feels like doing. "look, i know she's mad at me. but did she really need to send you to come get me to apologize?" he says, staring at Deacon as he latches on to the first reasonable explanation that he can find. He scrabbles for it, clings to it tightly. His voice sounds too high. "is she... is she really that mad?"

Papyrus's eye sockets start brimming with tears, and that makes Sans more scared than anything. He can only watch as his brother crosses the room, resting a hand on his shoulder. From the corner of his eye he sees Deacon slip out from behind Mettaton, tensing. Tensing for what? And why is his brother about to cry?

Where are you?

"THEY WOULDN'T LET THEM IN," Papyrus blurts out. "WHEN WE GOT TO THE CHECKPOINT THEY LET ME AND METTATON THROUGH BUT THEY TOLD HOPE THEY HAD TO LEAVE. SHE'S STUCK ON THE OTHER SIDE!"

Papyrus's grip on him tightens. He's aware of Mettaton and Deacon watching him, waiting for something. What are they waiting for?

"W-what do you mean they're stuck on the other side?" Asriel asks, his voice trembling. "Mom, what does that mean?"

He hears Toriel say something to her son, and then he starts to cry. He's crying, and he's angry, repeating something about a promise. "Frisk promised we'd always be together!" he wails, and Tori starts making soft shushing sounds and leads him back into the living room.

The others are still staring at him.

He realizes that the thing that they were waiting for, what they were watching for, is him. Sans looks up at Papyrus, and he feels...

Numb.

"i'll go get them," he says quietly, and Deacon takes a jerky step forward, raising his hands.

"You can't," Deacon says, and Sans gives him an odd look.

"of course i can. they can't stop me." His voice is flat. "it's a gate, not a barrier."

"If you teleport past the Line and bring them back, they'll know. They followed her and Frisk off the mountain, they're probably watching her. Anything any of you do right now can be used against you," he says, pleading with him. "You can't."

"...no," Sans says, shaking his head.

"There was nothing we could do," Mettaton says.

The three of them are talking to him, explaining what happened. He hears it, understands it, and the weight of realization bears down on his back, crushing the air from nonexistant lungs. They're trapped behind the Line, his wife and child separated from him. Just like last time. They don't need magic to cage us anymore.

"Sans," Deacon says, and it doesn't sound like it was the first time. Somewhere during their talk he'd stopped listening. What was the point? "Hope wanted you to call her after we told you."

"you... you already talked to her?" he asks. His hands are shaking. Why are his hands shaking?

The look Deacon's giving him is strange. He doesn't like it, like there's something on his face. Reaching up to rub his cheekbone, he's startled to realize he's crying. He wonders when that started.

"Yeah," Deacon says carefully, fidgeting with his bracelet. His muscles are tense, like he's still waiting for something. "She wanted to make sure you didn't do anything stupid. Don't make me have to stop you."

"why would i do anything?" he asks, and it hits him. All of it. It's crippling, the crushing weight of realizing that you're on the other side of this new Barrier. That he's lost both of you. He shudders, a soft, manic laugh escaping him. "i can't do anything. i might as well just give up, right?"

"SANS!" Papyrus exclaims, gripping both of his shoulders and forcing him to look at him. "NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO GIVE UP! YOUR FAMILY NEEDS YOU!"

"you heard him. i can't do anything."

"YOU—! YOU LAZYBONES! I'M NOT SURE YET WHAT WE CAN DO, BUT STANDING THERE AND NOT EVEN TRYING ISN'T HELPING!"

"what am i supposed to do?" He feels exhausted. Defeated. It feels as though he's spent a year fighting back against a universe determined to take the two of you away from him. And it had succeeded.

"You can help me," Deacon blurts out, catching Sans's eye. He clenches his jaw, realization on his face.

"why the hell would i want to do that?" Sans snaps, frowning.

"Oh, are you finally back to your senses?" he presses, arching a brow. "Good, because you were pretty damn useless there a second ago."

Sans bristles. "pal, if you think you can come in here and start talking to me like that—"

"Like what? Telling the truth instead of coddling you?" Deacon takes a step forward, and anger stirs in Sans's ribcage.

"my wife is trapped outside the line."

"My best friend is trapped outside the Line," he echoes.

"WHY ARE YOU TWO—" Papyrus starts, but Mettaton shushes him, pulling him aside. Good, get him out of the way so Sans can show this fucking mage just who he's dealing with.

"i just lost my family. i understand that you don't get what that's like—"

Deacon flinches, but he shakes it off. "Yes! You lost them both."

"you son of a bitch, what the hell—"

Your best friend is smiling. It's strange enough to give Sans pause, staring at him and trying to figure out why he's giving him that weird, satisfied smile.

"Do you still feel like giving up?" Deacon asks quietly.

Sans blinks. After a second he rubs his face with his sleeve, gritting his teeth. "son of a bitch," he says again, weaker this time.

"Right back at you. Sunk pretty low there with that jab about family," he counters, pressing his lips into a thin line. "Call your wife. Then we can talk about how we're going to fix this."

   
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