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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173. What We Had Before

“no, no, i just wanted to check on you, see how you guys are doing,” Sans says, forcing casualness into his voice. But he’s sure that his voice is strained and you can tell, you’re just not drawing any attention to it. Because you can’t with the risk of people listening.

“We’re fine. I mean… Frisk’s been a little clingy since lunch, but we’ve just been here at the apartment. They wouldn’t even leave my side when they were on the phone with Asriel. Chris was going to teach them some guitar, keep them busy, but they changed their mind,” you say. There’s a hint of concern in your voice, just enough for him to pick up on but not enough to be obvious to the casual listener.

Deacon is watching him, perched on the arm of the couch as Sans paces a path back and forth in front of the television. He could have gone home first, called you in private, but he’s not sure that Papyrus wouldn’t have ambushed him as soon as he stepped foot inside and he just… this couldn’t wait. It had already been almost two hours since the Load and he just needed to know you were okay. Whatever had happened would have come and gone by now, so whatever it was, Frisk must have taken care of it. He just wishes he could ask what it was.

Besides, he doesn’t think that Deacon is going to let what happened earlier go so easily. And as much as Sans could just teleport home and ignore him, he knows that he’s worried about you too. He deserves to know that you and Frisk are fine, at least.

What you’ve told him doesn’t really let him know what might have happened to cause the Load. The only bit that stands out is Frisk not spending time with Chris. “how’s the whole situation with chris?” he asks, doing his best to keep his tone even.

You let out a soft sigh, which Sans isn’t sure how to take. It’s not sad, or frustrated, or happy… He’s overthinking things. He doesn’t have a choicebut to overthink things, because there’s only so much you can tell him. Between the Load and the two of you being kept away from him, it’s driving him nuts. When you start speaking, your voice is quieter than it was a moment ago. “It’s fine. I mean, it’s awkward sometimes. He’s trying to get to know Frisk, which is sweet of him. And it’s…” You sigh again. “I’m in the bathroom, I feel like I’m hiding. I wish this place had rooms. Um. You met Chris, he’s like a giant puppy. I just feel like I’m taking advantage of him, like I owe him something. And I don’t… Sans, I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I think he’s getting a little too comfortable with us being here. You’d think he’d want us gone.”

“well, for one, you don’t owe him anything. this is just a fraction of what he owes you for bailing on you and frisk,” Sans grumbles, and he catches sight of Deacon frowning a little as he rests his chin in his hand. At least when it comes to Chris, he and Deacon are in agreement. “two… what do you mean too comfortable?”

Another sigh. Oh, you don’t want to talk about this, but you feel like you have to. “He’s, um… It’s been almost a week and we’re sort of falling into a routine. It’s… It kind of reminds me of when Frisk and I first came to Snowdin,” you admit.

He doesn’t like that comparison. A lot had happened in that first week with you, and he can’t help the twinge of annoyance and, well, possessiveness that stirs in his ribcage. “not too much like it,” he mutters.

You let out a soft laugh, which is reassuring. “Sorry, that’s not really a good way to put it, is it hun? No, it’s just… you took us in and we didn’t know how long we were going to stay until we just… never left.”

“you’re not gonna be there forever,” he says, closing his eyes and covering his face with his hand.

“I know. I’m just worried that he’s going to be disappointed when we leave,” you say, and there’s a certain softness in your voice that makes him frown. You care about people too much. You let too many people in and it makes you too vulnerable. He doesn’t know how you manage.

“you’re not his anymore. you belong here at home,” he says, gritting his teeth. “he gave up his chance.”

“I know,” you say gently. Placatingly. If you were here you’d be comforting him properly, wrapping your arms around his neck and giving him that indulgent look like you think he’s being silly. He is being silly. “I think he knows too.”

“he better.”

“Sans.”

“babe.”

“I love you. Things are fine. He’s not doing anything wrong, I promise.”

It’s Sans’s turn to sigh. “i love you too. and i trust you. i don’t trust him, but i trust you.”

“Are you okay?”

No. He’s not okay. You’re not here with him, and tomorrow he’s supposed to help a group of mages free the governor from a goddamn hostage situation and he can’t even tell you. He can’t fucking tell you that he and Deacon might be putting themselves in danger, and that if things go badly… He doesn’t want to think about it, or the choices he might have to make. Choices that he’s sure you wouldn’t agree with.

“i’m ok,” he lies, and he thinks he does a pretty good job of it. “don’t worry about me, you just take care of yourself and frisk.”

“I’m going to worry about you,” you say, and he can hear the smile in your voice. “Because you’re a big numbskull and that’s what wives do. They worry about their husbands.”

He doesn’t even have to force the laugh. “i should let you go. i’m sure you wanna get out of the bathroom.”

“It’s literally just a tiny shower stall and a toilet. The only sink in this whole place is in the kitchenette,” you say, grumbling. “So yeah. I’ll talk to you again later, right?”

“yeah. of course you will. love you, babe.”

“Love you too, hun. Talk to you tonight.”

Sans listens to you hesitate, then end the call. He takes a second to gather himself before he slips his phone in his pocket, to look over at Deacon where he knows he’s waiting. He arches a brow as their eyes meet, an expectant look on his face.

“Well?” Deacon asks, picking his chin up out of his hand and sitting up a little straighter. “Are you satisfied? Sounds like they’re fine.”

“yeah, they’re fine,” he admits, frowning. “false alarm, i guess.”

“What alarm?” he demands, pushing up onto his feet and crossing the small living room. “There was no alarm. There was you standing there, perfectly content, and then the next second you looked like you’d seen a ghost and you were about to do the stupidest damn thing. What the hell happened?”

“nothing,” he says.

“That wasn’t nothing. That was a big something and you know what? I want to know what it was,” Deacon says, squaring his shoulders and crossing his arms over his chest. “For someone who’s so big on honesty, you sure are a damn hypocrite.”

“it’s none of your business,” he mutters, shaking his head and gritting his teeth. He could teleport away, or walk out the door. But he doesn’t. Sans feels rooted to the spot, because he… He needs to talk to Deacon. He needs to do something about this hostility before tomorrow.

They’re going to be facing down the enemy and he doesn’t want to do that at the side of someone who thinks he hates him.

“You know what was none of your business?” Deacon snaps, uncrossing his arms so he can drag his fingers through his hair. It leaves him looking disheveled and flustered. “All of this shit. The Literatum, the fact that I’m a mage. It wasn’t your secret to know. But you do. You know just about everything about me, and what do I have to show for it? Not a goddamn thing. I don’t even have your trust, do I?”

“i’m sorry.”

Deacon blinks, staring at him for a second. “What?”

“i’m sorry,” he says again, letting out a haggard breath and pulling his hands out of his pockets. “for assuming the worst and attacking you. for… for trying to convince the others not to trust you. i was an ass and you didn’t deserve it.”

There’s a pause where the two of them just look at one another. Waiting.

Then Deacon’s frowning again. “That’s all you have to say? You tried to keep Bo from me! Hope had to sneak around behind your back to bring her to my impromptu fucking trial in the middle of the night! If it wasn’t for those two, who knows what would have happened, no thanks to you. What did you want Asgore to do to me, exactly? Throw me out of Ebott? Keep me prisoner? Execute me? I want to know how you thought this situation was going to end, Sans.”

Sans shakes his head, guilt weighing heavy on his shoulders. He can’t quite meet Deacon’s eyes. “i don’t know.”

“You don’t know. You just…” He lets out a weak laugh, turning away from him. “You almost ruined everything I had here, and you…” Whirling back around, Deacon jabs a finger in Sans’s direction. “You’re a fucking asshole, Sans. And this dissonance thing sounds like a bullshit excuse. I thought we were friends. I thought we moved past all that shit from Halloween and we were friends.”

“i’m sorry,” he says again, weaker this time.

“If you’re really sorry, then trust me like I’ve trusted you, and tell me what the fuck happened back there.” His glare fades into something desperate and exhausted. Like he’s tired of fighting.

Sans is tired of fighting too. He’s tired of the defensive barbs that he knows he deserves, the stinging comments that let him know that Deacon is still hurting from what he did. What he’s still doing. And right now, he really does think he can trust Deacon with this secret. He knows that you would, and that helps. If there’s anybody he should be able to count on to protect Frisk’s secret, it should be the guy who saved their life. The guy who outed himself and his allies to save his kid’s life and to help bring the two of you home.

Asgore said the dissonance was in part because their Souls are too similar. Maybe that should tell him what he needs to know.

“if i tell you this, it’s between us. no talking to your mage pals,” Sans says slowly, catching Deacon’s eye and holding it. “me, hope, frisk, and asriel are the only ones that know any of this. got it?”

“Frisk and Asriel?” he asks, confusion furrowing his brow.

“frisk and asriel are the key part of all this,” he says. “now, do you understand?”

Deacon doesn’t hesitate. He nods. “Yeah, okay. No telling Bo?”

“not even bo. i’m serious, i haven’t told papyrus, or asgore and toriel, or anyone else. i’m trusting you with this if you promise me that you’ll keep this secret,” he says, searching his face for any sign of doubt.

He doesn’t see any.

“I promise,” he says, curious and concerned. “So why did you think that something might have happened to Hope and Frisk?”

“because frisk can… manipulate time, and something happened to make them do it while we were talking to your mage pals.” He knows it’s not enough information, but this initial concept is what he needs Deacon to grasp first.

Deacon is, understandably, staring at him like he’s grown a second head. “Like… a few seconds? Morwenna can mess with time a little bit; speed herself up, and she says she can go back about five seconds. I wasn’t sure if Frisk was a mage, after the stuff that happened at the zoo and when we were camping, it was like their magic just plummeted for no reason. But if you’re saying they can— How could you tell? Frisk wasn’t anywhere near us, how do you know they did anything?”

“no, not a few seconds,” he says, bracing himself. “it was more like half an hour. and i—”

“No. Now you’re just making shit up,” Deacon blurts out, his mouth pressing into a hard line. “If you didn’t want to tell me the truth, you could have just said so. You don’t need to come up with this lie, which is just… What you’re saying is impossible.”

“i’m not making it up, i’m telling you the truth,” Sans says, frustrated. “those moments you remember with their magic were times that they loaded a save point. a, uh, fixed point in time that they can go back to.”

Stop, Sans. No one, let alone a seven-year-old, is capable of what you’re saying,” he snaps. He shakes his head, looking away. “There’s no magic, anywhere, that can accomplish that. No mage is that powerful.”

“frisk’s been able to do it since they fell into the underground. i don’t think it has anything to do with being a mage or not.”

Deacon looks angry now. He’s glaring, hand balled into a fist at his side. “Why are you trying to keep up with this lie?”

“i lived through three years of resets. three years of the same handful of days over and over again without knowing why, until i finally got to the point where i just stopped hoping that i’d ever see the end of the fucking week,” he growls, making Deacon flinch. “so instead of calling me a liar, how about you let me explain? you wanted to know, and i’m trying to tell you. so how about you give me some of that trust you insisted you have?”

“Fine. Whatever, go ahead,” he says, turning away from him to go take a seat on the couch. He fixes Sans with a dubious look as he crosses his arms over his chest.

Sitting down isn’t a bad idea, he thinks. Because this is going to take a bit of time. He pulls out his phone as he takes the other end of the couch, texting Papyrus to let him know that he’ll be a bit longer getting home. At least now if anything happens he has a way to get in touch with everyone.

Sans tells Deacon everything that he told you. That he and Frisk and Asriel are the only ones that remember the manipulations in time, about the accident that he still can’t remember but knows is the cause of his own persistent memory. In order to explain about the new limitations on Frisk’s power, his and Asriel’s theory that splitting their Soul from Chara’s is the root of the problem, he has to tell Deacon everything. Well, not everything. Not the truth about the bad timelines. He won’t tell him anything that you don’t know yourself. But he has to try and explain that there was a second Soul within Frisk’s body, and that they gave it to Asriel to bring him back from being Flowey.

To Deacon’s credit, he doesn’t interrupt. He just sits there and listens, his look of suspicion slipping into stunned disbelief and then finally to something like awe. To finally know the full extent of what you and Sans and Frisk have been through, to understand the bond between Frisk and Asriel…

By the time he’s done, Deacon doesn’t look like he thinks he’s lying anymore.

“Holy shit,” Deacon breathes, once Sans falls silent.

“yeah. that’s one way to put it,” he agrees.

“You didn’t need to ask me to keep it a secret, there’s no way that anyone would believe me,” he says, resting his forehead in his hand as he leans forward over his knees. “That’s… I’m not sure believe it. I mean, I do, but then I try to sit here and wrap my brain around it…”

“i get it.”

“Frisk can turn back time,” he says flatly, staring at the floor.

“yep.”

“And Hope doesn’t remember any of it either?”

“nope.”

“What must that be like as a parent?”

Sans can’t help it. He starts to laugh, because what else can he do? “that’s the thing that stands out to you?”

“Well that and a whole number of other things. Like, can we talk about Asriel being an evil flower for like, five seconds? Because that is some of the weirdest shit I’ve heard since coming to this damn mountain.”

“knock yourself out,” Sans says, and despite the fact that he just told Deacon about some of the worst things he’s been through in his life, he’s smiling. Because he’s also told him some of the best, and the end of that long story of what happened in the Underground is intrinsically linked to you . “but do you have anything to drink? my throat’s a little dry.”

Deacon opens his mouth to speak, halfway through a gesture towards the kitchen before he rolls his eyes. “You don’t have a throat,” he counters.

“doesn’t mean i can’t get thirsty,” he says, pushing off the couch and to his feet. “you can ask me your questions in the kitchen, can’t you buddy?”

“Oh, so I’m ‘buddy’ again, now?” he asks. Sans isn’t sure if the hint of bitterness he hears in Deacon’s voice is in his head, or maybe just out of reflex, but he refuses to rise to it either way. At least for now, he still feels like he deserves it.

“sure, if you wanna be,” Sans says, sufficiently casual.

They regard each other for a moment, and as silence settles over them Sans realizes he’s not sure how Deacon is going to respond. He’s also not sure how he feels about that. But the seconds pass and something in the human’s expression softens before he finally gives a curt nod.

“Yeah,” Deacon says, running his hand through his hair and looking off to the side. But despite the forced casualness that echoes his own, there’s a smile he’s trying to hide as he refuses to meet Sans’s eyes. “I want things to go back to how they were before the whole mage thing. I want us to be friends again.”

“i don’t think it’s ever gonna go back to how things were before then. but i don’t think that’s a bad thing,” he says, and now Deacon is looking at him, confusion plain on his face. “it’s a hell of a lot more complicated, but with all these secrets out of the way… i think it’ll be better. we’ll be better friends.”

“Maybe we can talk Hope into making us our own friendship bracelets,” Deacon teases, and that’s when Sans knows that things are going to be okay.

“you keep that up and you can keep your questions to yourself,” he retorts.

Deacon just laughs.

Once Frisk is asleep in the loft bed you manage to slip away and back down the ladder to the rest of the apartment. When you told Sans that they were being clingy, that was a bit of an understatement. They insisted that you go to bed with them, and there wasn’t much you could do to argue without starting a fight. So you decided to pick your battles and just do as they asked.

At least until they were unconscious.

Chris is sitting on the floor with his back against the couch, plucking at his guitar in the dim glow of the television. He glances up at you as your feet hit the floor, giving you a weak smile as you stretch your legs across the sofa, facing him. “They finally asleep?” he asks quietly, arching a brow. The light from the TV catches on his piercing, making it shine.

“Yeah,” you sigh. “I dunno what got into them today.”

He lays the guitar across his lap, leaning back to rest his arms on the seat of the couch. His forearm brushes up against your calf, but neither of you move away. “Do you think…” He clears his throat. “Did I do something wrong? Like, one second they were all pumped to learn some guitar, and then the next they wouldn’t even talk to me.”

“They’re still…” You want to say ‘adjusting’ but they shouldn’t have to adjust. This isn’t your new life, this isn’t your new home . This is just temporary. “This is all still really weird for them, Chris. And kids Frisk’s age, they can be kind of moody.”

“Oh,” he says softly, picking at the couch cushion under his hand. He looks away from you, his expression distant for a moment. “I guess I really don’t know jack shit about kids their age. Or just… kids in general.”

“You haven’t really had much reason to learn.”

You’re not sure that was the right thing to say, because he frowns and pushes his hair out of his eyes. Most of it just falls back where it was a second ago. You watch the tiny, minute shifts in his face, a clear sign of some internal debate. Seconds pass in heavy silence before he finds his voice again. “I should have,” he mutters, then looks at you. He looks apprehensive, uncertain. You feel a little anxious about what he has to say. “Can I ask you something? About us?”

You swallow. “I… Chris, I don’t—”

“Please,” he says, and that pleading look is one you have a hard time refusing.

“Okay,” you sigh, resting your cheek in your hand as you cross your arm over your chest.

“If I…” He trails off, hesitates, then frowns and pushes forward. “If I had come back, before you and Frisk disappeared, could we have had this? I know that this is all just temporary, I’m not that much of an idiot, but I feel like…” Chris winces, looking down at where his arm is still resting next to your leg. Then he meets your eyes again. “I feel like this is something we could have had. For real.”

“This isn’t a good idea,” you say slowly, drawing your legs under you and sitting up straighter. “You can’t sit there and play the what-if game with our past, because no matter what it’s already done.”

“I know,” he groans, shifting on the floor to turn and face you. “But you’re just so… you’re so cool and grown up and watching you with Frisk… I can’t help but feel like I missed out on having this awesome family.”

“This person that I am right now?” you say, clutching the locket around your neck. The locket with the picture of your real family inside. “I’m only her because I fell into the Underground. Because I finally took it upon myself to get out of that house, on my own strength, and become a better person. When we were together, I always hoped that you’d rescue me from my mother. It wasn’t until I had no one left that I realized I could rescue myself. So maybe, if you had come back, we might have had something. I can’t deny that. But I wouldn’t be me.”

“Oh,” he says, and while he looks a little disappointed, you think there’s some understanding there too.

Hesitating for a moment, you relax your grip on yourself, holding out a hand to him. Chris looks at it, then up at your face, then takes it in his own. His fingers are calloused, his hand is wider and bigger than yours and still a little familiar. You squeeze him and give him a weak smile. “I’m sorry that I can’t be who you want me to be, Chris. I’m sorry that your parents took so many of your choices away from you. But I’m not sorry about the life I have now, and my husband that I love and our family. I wouldn’t go back to change anything, and you need to let those what-ifs go or they’re going to just hold you back.”

I’m sorry,” he says, looking down at his knees. “I didn’t want to make things uncomfortable. I wouldn’t ever do anything to pressure you, or try to make things more than they are—”

“I know you wouldn’t.”

“I guess I just… needed to know,” he finishes with a sigh.

“Do you feel any better?” you ask gently, tilting your head to the side.

Chris rests his head on his arm, against the couch. He gives you a pathetic look and a weak smile. “Not really.”

“You’ll be okay, butthead,” you tell him, squeezing his hand again. “Things won’t ever be like how they used to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t figure out something new.”

   
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