May 15, 2020: Earth
The Dreemurr family rejoiced that day, to find their son alive. Different perhaps, with a hard road to come, but, there was hope.
On the other side of town, however, things were not quite as cheerful.
Michael and William walked together down the sidewalk, heading into the suburbs. Undyne was dressed in her casual jeans and black tank top, and her yellow eye was narrowed in anger. She shook her head briefly to get a strand of hair that had escaped her ponytail out of her face.
"I can't tell if I'm more angry at Jacob, or those cowards at Overwatch and Reaper's Harvest," she griped, shoving her thumbs deep into her pockets and looking around to make sure they were still going the right way.
Michael's orange eyes sparked with anger. "You and me both," he growled.
"Let's just talk before we break anything," William muttered.
"Says the one who got kidnapped!"
"Don't remind me," the albino managed. "The only reason we're not attacking is because of his daughter, and even now, my patience is already frayed."
Michael blinked-surprised to see William actually about to lose his temper.
"He can talk, but he'd better be convincing," Undyne's eye flashed for a moment. "I've got more than enough on him to make sure he spends the rest of his life behind bars. And I bet you we'll have even more once your Mettaton… Neo… whatever. When he goes through the information."
"He better have already woven a good tale for us," William replied, while Michael raised his hands.
"I thought I was supposed to be the more ticked off of the two Humans here…It was always my job to be angry for you."
"Oh, I think I can manage just fine on my own for this one.
Quiet fell on the little group as Undyne led them through the busy city. It wasn't long before she stopped them before a small, yellow house with a well-maintained shingled roof. A white picket fence protected the yard, which was neatly kept. A single tree grew near the white front door, with a tire swing hanging off one of the thicker branches.
"Well, this is it." Undyne rolled her shoulders. "Let's see if he's home… or if he ran away when his bosses fell."
"If we're lucky, he'll get scared stiff," Michael grumbled.
William couldn't help a smile at that. "You just want it to be easy for your magic."
"Of course I do, what'd you expect?"
Undyne snorted and opened the picket gate, stepping through and letting the two men follow before closing it and striding to the door. She knocked sharply, then stood back and waited.
A few minutes passed, and just as Undyne was getting ready to knock again… or bust down the door, it opened. Jacob was on the other side, and he looked up to her with tired eyes.
He appeared to be an absolute mess, a far cry from the professional, if nervous man the two Humans had been introduced to. His thinning hair was dishevelled, his clothes were stained and crumpled and his eyes held huge bags under them. His face was worn and drawn, and he viewed Undyne with what seemed to be tired resignation.
Oddly, his gaze lit up a little as he spotted William, and he cleared his throat, before stepping aside, opening the door further.
"Would you care to come in?" he offered. "Though I am afraid I am something of a poor host at the moment."
"I think you know this isn't just a social call, Jacob," Undyne growled, narrowing her eye at him.
William folded his arms. "I rather not be led into another room until I know your side of the story…"
His bodyguard gave a nod. "You're lucky to be given the chance with everything that has happened."
Jacob inclined his head at them.
"Then… before we begin… you were able to get out of that place. Did you happen to see… or hear… anything about my daughter?" Fear and hope laced Jacob's tone, the expression in his eyes desperate.
"She's the reason you're even getting to tell a story," William replied. "She's alive, and currently in a hospital on my side being tended to. She's stable." Michael glanced to the albino. The red eyes were harsh, but he was keeping a mostly calm tone to his voice.
Jacob sagged in relief.
"Thank god for that," he murmured to himself. He looked back to William. "It may not mean much coming from me but… thank you for saving her."
"The explanation," Undyne reminded impatiently.
Jacob sighed, running a hand across his head.
"I was approached two years ago by an organization called Ad Infinitum," he began. "They claimed to have powerful backers and wished to use me as a go-between to negotiate support for G.R.E.E.N. At that time, our influence and funding was limited, and they seemed friendly enough, so I agreed to their terms.
"Things were going well, until the last few months. I received a visit from a businessman who revealed several documents and pieces of evidence that proved I had been working in secret with a criminal organization. While I had not known it, Ad Infinitum was a cover organization for Overwatch.
"Of course, the man had not come to help me. He was part of Overwatch, and threatened to blackmail me with the information if I didn't comply with them." Jacob closed his eyes wearily. "I… panicked and gave in to their demands."
"They threatened Jennifer?" Michael asked.
"Not at first," Jacob allowed. "And they only asked for minor things. Information, mostly. I believed they were trying to find weaknesses they could exploit within my corporation. It wasn't until very recently that they began to raise the stakes.
"I was approached by the same man as before. He promised me that I only had to do one more thing, and then I would be free from their influence. And," He nodded to Michael. "He subtly threatened my daughter should I fail to comply. That is why I brought her with me when I came to our first meeting."
"I thought it strange that you would bring her," William murmured, his red eyes dim. "But you wouldn't dare leave her unattended."
"No. I knew I was in over my head, but I had to hope they would keep their word. Since my wife died…" Jacob trailed off for a moment before continuing.
"Of course, they did not keep their promise. Jennifer disappeared from that same meeting where they had me turn you in. I did everything I could to try and find her. I would not have been successful, had I not met someone else who was on their trail."
"Wait-" Michael interrupted. "You did find her!?"
"Not… exactly. I found the place where she was kept. The man who worked with me had the information I lacked, and vice versa. Together we made it there and I had a chance to confront them directly." Jacob glanced down regretfully. "I was unsuccessful in doing anything worthwhile, however. They held all the cards, and I was forced to leave empty handed, knowing that if I said anything, they would kill her."
"You're lucky anyone found her at all," William stated quietly. "The rescuers certainly weren't looking for her."
"Who helped you?" Undyne questioned. Jacob shook his head in response.
"He would not tell me his name. And at the time, I was too desperate to press for details. He just told me to call him Vigil."
Undyne sucked in a breath at that.
Michael paused. "Wait…" He glanced to Undyne-clearly remembering the one who had pinned him to the wall.
"You helped Vigil find the Overwatch base?"
Jacob's brow furrowed at Undyne's question.
"You know him?"
"You could say that." Undyne snorted. "Sounds like you helped fix this mess as much as you caused it."
"Certainly helps get you out of that grave you dug yourself into," William replied.
"You asked for my story, and I have given it," Jacob said tiredly. "So long as Jennifer is safe, I accept whatever punishment you deem fitting. I betrayed your trust, and there is no real excuse for that."
William gave a long sigh as he closed his eyes, fingers tapping his arm. "I had the least amount of trouble…honestly, it's the children you should be apologizing to…but…" He opened his eyes, raising his head slightly.
"I suppose you'd want to see your daughter."
"If… if possible," Jacob admitted. "I know I am in no position to be asking for anything but…" he sighed. "If it is any consolation… I am sorry. I never intended for any of this to happen."
"That doesn't make you exempt from the consequences," Undyne warned.
William turned to the fish warrior. "Well, until interdimensional laws are formed, I doubt I technically have any standing with what happens to him. I'll let your side determine his punishment."
Michael thought for a moment. "You know...the hospital is full of magic wielding humans…"
William turned his gaze to him silently.
"Well, I'm saying we could keep him there without an issue. He gets to see his daughter, he's where we can keep tabs on him until stuff gets settled." Michael shrugged. "I dunno. We're not leaving him here, are we? I doubt any remains of Overwatch are going to be all that happy with him…I mean-just until the first little while, right? Until we're sure those guys aren't gonna just crawl out of the woodwork and..."
The guard made a gesture at the unprotected home.
"True…" the Red Eye allowed.
"William, you're the wronged party here." Undyne turned to the Human Leader. "Well, most of it, anyways. I can still bust his ass if need be, but... " she shrugged. "What do you think?"
"...I do feel that anyone who is casting judgment should be well aware of the situation at hand. As it stands, I rather let him slide and catch the actual members who put him up to this...and…" William sighed, a faint smile appearing.
Michael huffed. "Our Frisk would be sparing him before he got a word into his apology regardless."
"Alright then." The policewoman turned back to Jacob. "You heard them. No charges are gonna be pressed on you. I'm gonna send you a fine for the damage you've caused, but other than that, you're off the hook. But until we've got things sorted out here, I'm putting you in protective custody. We'll take you to the other side of the Rift so you can be with your daughter while we handle this mess."
Jacob bowed his head in gratitude.
"Thank you. You are too kind."
"Yeah, I get that a lot," Undyne grinned.
William chuckled. "Will be an exciting day when Michael works with your counterpart on a daily basis," he said as his bodyguard stepped forward, offering to help Jacob pack up anything he'd need.
May 15, 2020: Qurairu
Napstablook flew toward the city, ignoring anything that happened to be in their way. When their cousin had told them what had happened… they had beelined for the hospital.
"Oh no…" the ghost murmured softly. "Poor little girl…" A Human with Monster magic…
The ghost didn't know what would happen to the girl, but...they had to be there. Finding the hospital was simple enough once they got to the city, and after that, they flew in, hoping to find a familiar face so that they could get proper directions.
In the end, they didn't end up needing the directions. Before they had a chance to ask, they felt a soul pulsing with familiar magic. Looking up, towards where they felt the soul, they saw white, transparent legs sticking through the ceiling. They were thrashing about wildly, and the ghost could hear muffled screaming coming from above.
Instantly, the ghost shot through, pivoting as they surveyed the situation.
Doctors and nurses were panicking, running around and shouting at each other. Some of the machinery that had obviously been hooked into someone at some point was knocked over or discarded. In the middle of it all was the ghostly silhouette of a teenaged girl, shaking and crying in fear. Her eyes were screwed shut and her hands covered her ears, as if to block the noise.
The ghost panicked, rapidly putting the pieces together. If she just did this, then-without any further hesitation, the ghost drew her back up with their magic. "No, no no," they started. "You're okay, you're okay-" That was partially true, at least…
The girl whimpered and shuddered, refusing to open to her eyes. She curled tighter upon herself as she sobbed.
"Oh dear...oh no...umm…" The ghost turned. "Ex-excuse me...doctors? Nurses…..? Um…oh, um..." Now all the attention was on them. "Um...I...I can...maybe...um...handle um, this? ...I uh...could we please empty the room a little and maybe, um, oh, if it isn't a bother...keep it to a dull roar...I'll try to...calm her down...maybe, if that's okay?"
There was some confused and worried dissent among most of them, but an older lady, who had been trying to calm everyone down instead of participating in the panicking, started to shoo the Humans out.
"You won't be any use to the dear until you stop acting like chickens with their heads cut off," she reasoned to a larger man who was clearly uncomfortable with leaving the charge alone with the Monster. "Now get!"
Moments later, Napstablook was left alone with the shuddering girl in their hold.
"Shh, it's okay, it's okay," Napstablook murmured, keeping her close as they used their magic. "Um...Jennifer, is it?"
"I-I don't know w-what's hap-appening!" the girl wailed, taking her hands off her ears and wrapping them around her knees.
"Shh, shh, oh, I'm sorry," the ghost apologized. "This is confusing, and scary, I know but um...um…" This wasn't working. They had to-oh! Without much left to lose, Napstablook began to hum-attempting to see if they could get to their actual music. That always seemed to calm people down, so maybe…
The soft sounds seemed to help a little, Jennifer's cries weren't quite as loud and her shaking was slowing. She did not stop completely however, and her eyes were still shut.
The ghost drew out their music player, disconnecting their headphones, and turning it on, setting it on the bed. "There, there...you're okay...cry all you want, it's okay…"
The music slowly began to wash over the room. Gradually, the girl's whimpering cries died down until, at last, she fell silent and the only sound was Napstablook's music.
"There you go," the ghost soothed, keeping their voice even softer than usual. "You're okay...Jennifer…"
"Who… who are you?" the girl whimpered, finally opening her eyes and looking to the ghost in bewilderment.
Napstablook pulled back a little with a gentle smile. "Oh...I'm...I'm Napstablook. You...probably wouldn't know me." They paused. "Oh no, I'm sorry, this must be really weird…"
"Napstablook…" Jennifer's voice shook. "What… what's happening to me?"
"I...know a little...if...if you're okay with me telling-oh, oh no, maybe you shouldn't hear it from me-they said something about bringing your father...oh...oh dear, I don't...I'm not very good at this, am I?"
Jennifer gazed down at herself, beginning to tremble again as she stared at her body. The ghost surveyed the issue. "Um…" They gave a sound of thought. "I...think, maybe...possibly, I might...know how to um...not have you go through things?"
Jennifer looked up again.
"You do?" she asked, her voice quivering. "I… I'm scared…"
"Don't be afraid. I've...I've got you. You're not going anywhere-erm-unless you want to...uh...but...I'm a ghost Monster, I kinda...do this on a daily basis…"
There was a moment of silence, then…
"Am I a ghost?"
"Oh no-you're alive, you're not a ghost-ghost, just um...you may have...kind've, sort've, maybe...oh...oh no, how do I say this...oh no, I should've asked about that, oh no, I'm sorry…"
Jennifer glanced helplessly at the Monster, her colourless eyes starting to water again.
Napstablook took a deep breath, steeling themself. "You're going to be okay," they stated firmly, keeping her gaze. "You might have to...um, adjust to a few things...because...um…" The ghost sighed. "You were...given shots...and...they...they held magic...that's...what's letting you do...all of this...sorry…"
"I don't… understand…"
"...I'm sorry, I'm not...so sure of everything myself...I...um...the point is-it's like mine, so I can...I can help you...that's why I came…"
"Am I… going to be like this forever?"
"Transparent...no. Magic wise...I'm no...doctor...or scientist, so...it'll be better to ask my cousin, or someone else…or anyone else for that matter."
"Okay…" Jennifer took in a deep breath and rubbed at her face, then turned her attention back to the little ghost. "What… what do I have to do?"
"For me, physicality is...something you briefly think about when changing it. We want you to not go through things, so...focus on something...sturdy. Like a tree...or rock...or...whatever you want, if you don't like those…"
Jennifer frowned in concentration, trying to steady herself. The ghost could tell that, while she'd been soothed, she was still very frightened, and her concentration was slipping.
"I like sunny days," Napstablook murmured. "Especially in the forests around our kingdom. The trees there are large...rooted firmly, grounded in the mountain's soil. The wind may rustle their branches...but they're not going anywhere. They're solid, sturdy…firm."
"S-solid…" Jennifer mumbled. "Firm…"
"Mmm-hmm," they confirmed. "Trees belong on the ground…" They kept her soul in their gentle hold, carefully lowering her closer to the bed as they watched, keeping everything in check.
Minutes ticked by, and Jennifer shook her head in frustration and fear.
"It's not working…"
"It's okay, you're new to this," Napstablook replied. "I didn't get it for a really long time...and I was born with that kind of magic…"
"But… but what if I-" she was cut off as her form suddenly shimmered. A moment later, she fell on the bed, bouncing slightly. Shocked hazel eyes met the ghost's gaze. She had become Human again.
"Oh...oh, you did it!" Napstablook exclaimed, whirling in a circle with a wide smile. "Sorry for the drop, I wasn't prepared for the shift, but you did it very well, good job, Jennifer!"
"I… I don't even know what I did," Jennifer mumbled, looking down at her hands and slowly wiggling her fingers.
"That's okay," the ghost assured as they settled down on the edge of the bed. "...how do you feel?"
"I feel… more like me…" Jennifer didn't move her head. "It was… weird before…"
"Oh, I guess I can understand...it's the opposite for me."
The girl turned her gaze to them.
"Wait… you can… be like this too?"
The ghost bobbed their form. "I can be a bit more physical...I just don't tend to do it, it's tiring…"
"Oh…" She smiled for the first time since Napstablook had gotten here. "Thanks for helping me…"
"It's the least I could do," the ghost started. "Oh...no need to…" They became rather faint, nearly vanishing all together.
"No," Jennifer insisted softly. "You… I needed someone. I couldn't have… done it without you. I…" She suddenly stopped, as if realizing something. Then she let out a quiet groan and buried her head in her hands.
"Oh...oh no-" The ghost fully materialized and came closer. "What's wrong, Jennifer?"
"I… I thought this was all a dream…" she moaned.
"...oh no, I'm sorry...I'm not...oh...um…"
Jennifer hugged her knees, her long brown hair hiding her face. She mumbled something incoherently.
"Oh...oh no, what's wrong? Maybe I can...oh no, I'm sorry, maybe not me, I'd just mess it up...oh no…"
"I… I kissed Mettaton…"
"Oh….ohhhhhhh…oh dear….I think he'd be flattered, at least…?"
There was no sound from Jennifer save a whimpering moan.
"Um...well, is there...um...anything you'd want him...to um...not do with um...that incident?"
"Ever say anything ever?" came the muffled response.
"Oh, I doubt he would tell, but I'll let him know…"
Jennifer went quiet, then looked to the ghost.
"You… know Mettaton?"
"Oh...I'm...I'm his cousin…"
Jennifer slowly fell back, landing on the bed with a soft thud. She stared up intently at the ceiling in silence.
"Oh...oh no, are you okay?" The ghost slowly hovered closer in concern.
She groaned and buried her face.
"This is so embarrassing..."
"Oh, oh no, don't be, it's okay...we won't...say anything, oh no, I'm sorry…"
A moment later, the door opened to reveal a few of the doctors, and Jacob who hurried in to take his place by Jennifer's bed. He reached out and clasped one of her hands with his own.
"Jennifer! Oh, I am so, so sorry…"
Napstablook instantly floated away, fading out of sight as they put themselves in a corner, not wanting to interrupt, and yet...not wanting to leave the girl unattended.
Jennifer turned, managing a weak smile at Jacob.