Actions

Work Header

Sweater Siblings

Chapter Text

You wake up in the dark. You try to sit up, and wince hard. That had been quite a fall, hadn’t it? You patted the ground. It felt like bare dirt. No wonder you were in pain. You had nothing to break your fall, and that had been what? A hundred feet? Two hundred? It was a miracle you were alive, honestly. You hated miracles.

You roll over onto your back, and that produces a drawn out whine from you that you hadn’t even known you could produce. You won’t cry. Big kids don’t cry. You take a few heaving breaths before trying once again to sit up. Failure, and another screech. Maybe you should-

“It sounds like it came from over here.”

You freeze. You heard about the monsters trapped below the mountain, but you had figured you’d be dead anyway, so it wouldn’t matter. It mattered now.

Something… someone steps into the clearing. You can barely see them in the darkness. It was night when you fell, so there’s no light coming from the hole far above. Strangely, there seems to be a shimmery, translucent gray wall halfway up the hole. Curiouser and curiouser.

You can’t really make out their face or even their general appearance, but they approach you. You would scramble back if you could, but unfortunately, that was currently out of your skill set. Now they are standing directly above you. They kneel down.

“Oh! You’ve fallen down, haven’t you?” You can make out an extended hand in the darkness. “Here, get up!”

You are shakily pulled up to a standing position, wincing the whole while. They look as if you are waiting to say something. Perhaps to introduce yourself?

“I’m C-Chara.” You offer.

Even you can tell that they have broken out into a grin. “Chara, huh? That’s a nice name. Mine is Asriel.”

You nod. They seem nice. You aren’t quite as afraid, but you are still breathing heavily. Your thoughts are interrupted by the sound of large footsteps.

Two more people enter the room. They seem much, much bigger than the first. It’s still too dark to see much. One of them flicks their hand, and you almost scream when it lights on fire.

You almost scream louder when you see what all three look like. They are literally anthropomorphic goats. What is your life?

They seem to notice you are freaked out. You try to push yourself away from Asriel, who is propping you up, but only succeed in knocking yourself down, sending jolts of pain up your spine.

“H-hey! Stop! You’re hurt! You’re just going to make it worse!” Asriel attempts to pick you back up to your feet, but you bat him away. The two larger goat monsters step up next to him. The smaller of the two looks at the larger questioningly. The largest looks as if your appearance was something he had predicted long ago. It freaks you out.

“Asgore, what will we do now?” The smaller adult asks. It sounds like a female.

You don’t know what you will do yourself. At least you know one of the larger goat’s names. Asgore doesn’t move or say anything, just looks at you. You start to fidget. The lady steps away from Asgore and kneels next to you, a concerned expression dawning on her face. You hadn’t seen someone look at you like that before.

Her presence is comforting, strangely enough. You see that Asriel is crying, no doubt in response to the pushing and hitting. You kind of feel bad, but brush the feeling off. He deserves it for being a crybaby.

“Hello, young one. I am Toriel. I am going to heal you, alright?” Toriel holds out a paw.

You don’t particularly like being touched, but by your estimates, you have a broken leg and arm at least, if not a couple fractured ribs and a concussion. You know by now how to assess your injuries. Years of abuse taught you that.

You will have to allow physical contact. You reluctantly nod your head at the request. She places a warm paw on your side, and a green substance spreads through your skin. You can see it shine through your skin like a glow, watching it through a rip in your sweater. Must be magic. It’s warm, and feels like a steaming bath. Your muscles relax, and you can physically feel your bones knitting together.

It doesn’t take long before you feel as if you hadn’t fallen at all. You sit up, notably not wincing this time. You stretch your hands out, eyes wide. “Wow.”

Toriel laughs a little. You turn a little red. You sounded pathetic. You resign yourself to a life of silence and never speaking of your ‘wow’ again. You scurry to your feet. Asriel is still crying, obviously still hurt over your refusal of kindness. You don’t look at him. You aren’t good with mushy stuff.

Asgore takes you into the next room while his (...wife?) wife consoles Asriel. You fiddle with the tears in your sweater. It’s a shame, this was a good one. It reminded you of the flowers back on the surface. You refused to call that place home. You wouldn’t return. To be honest, you fully expected to be dead within the week. You were a burden. No one wanted you around.

“Young one,” Asgore’s voice booms, “I do not believe we have been properly introduced. I am Asgore. And you are?”

“Chara,” you wheeze. You aren’t really good with words. That’s why you used sign language most of the time. You doubted anyone knew it down here. The language must be so different.

The man smiles, and the smile looks like it could light up the earth itself. You didn’t know smiles could be so bright. You forced one onto your face, though it probably looked more like a grimace. Asgore offers you a paw.

“Come, Chara. We have much to do.”

You look back at the previous room. What about Asriel and Toriel? He seems to notice your glance and chuckles.

“They will be fine. Come, now.”

You reluctantly take the paw. Man, people were really touchy-feely here. You don’t really like it. Unfortunately, it seems he won’t let you proceed without grabbing his paw, so you do.

It’s warmer than expected. It also big, enveloping your whole hand. It’s kind of nic- NO. It is not nice. You shake the thought out of your head and walk with him.

“This is the Ruins. Most prefer to call it Home, though you may call it whatever you wish.”

You roll your eyes. You don’t need the exposition. If they are just going to kill you anyway, why are they even bothering with telling you this stuff?

The man sighs at your lack of response, but keeps moving. You hear the padding of feet behind you and see the others have caught up. Wonderful. You can feel more mushy-feely stuff coming.

Funnily enough, they don’t ask you to apologize to Asriel. They seemed like the type of parents to force random children to treat their spawn like royalty. You wouldn’t do that. Even if they turned out to be actual royalty, you wouldn’t apologize. He shouldn’t have held you.

The walk is long, mostly taking place in silence. Without your noticing, Toriel and Asgore seemed to have fallen in line at the front, leaving just you and Asriel together in the back. You have a feeling this was on purpose.

The kid (haha) looks at you.

“You’re a human,” they state.

“Uh, yeah.” It comes out more sarcastic than intended. Asriel shrinks back a little, but continues speaking to you, refusing to be deterred.

“What’s it like? The surface.”

You don’t know how to respond to that. You have a feeling that he wants to hear something positive, but you don’t have anything positive to tell him. You decide to be truthful.

“It’s full of humans. Polluting, murdering, greedy, slimy humans.” You look straight at him. “Never trust a human.”

He seems to be struggling with what to say next.

“But… you’re a human,” he argues pathetically.

You don’t bother responding before turning away and speeding up your pace a little so you two aren’t walking side by side. You figured your lack of response was enough to freak him out. You knew the assumption was correct when you heard faint sobbing. Toriel and Asgore didn’t seem to notice.

You arrive at a house in the strange purple area you’ve been walking through.

“Greaaat. We’re here.” You fold your arms. “Can I go home now?” You don’t know where home is, but you figured they’d kick you out to the surface.

The two larger monsters look at each other. They seem worried. Toriel looks back at you.

“Th-this is your home now.” She looks down, actually looking like she may cry. “You can never return to the surface.”

You freeze. “What?” You are actually glad you won’t have to go back there, but are still a little shocked.

“There is a barrier. Any may enter, but none may leave. I’m sorry. You will live here forever.”

Chapter Text

You aren’t sure how you feel about this. You hadn’t planned to go up to the Surface anyway, but you had at least thought that you had a choice in the matter. It was funny. Now that you knew you had no choice, you kinda wanted to go back up.

Toriel seems to sense your distress and hugs you. You gasp in shock and struggle out of her grip. You don’t like to be touched. She looks like she understands, at least. Asgore leans over you.

“Tonight, we will sleep here. This is an orphanage, but as all the children are out today, this will make a good place to stop and rest. Tomorrow, we will take you to the castle,” he informs you.

You aren’t in any position to disagree, so you nod your head. You didn’t like to talk, either. You wished they knew sign language, but with your luck, they probably didn’t.

By the end of the night they have found you pajamas.

“This used to be Asriel’s,” Toriel tells you, “but they look like they will fit you just fine.”

It’s green and yellow. And has footsies. It looks like it’s for three year olds. You want to refuse them, but then they might be so mad they’ll kick you out of the house, won’t they? It would serve you right for refusing a gift. You take the infernal clothing.

You have dinner in the pajamas. They insisted you change immediately, your previous clothing had been destroyed. You hadn’t been sure at first if you were going to be eating with them.

“Of course, my child. Why wouldn’t you?” Toriel had responded after you asked her. You recoiled at the pet name, but don’t say anything.

You fidget with your hands. “It’s just, you guys don’t even know me.”

“You still have to eat…” Toriel seems confused.

You wave it off, disregarding the whole thing, and she lets it go as well.

The food is amazing. You eat mashed potatoes, chicken, corn, and other savory items such as that. By the end, you’re stuffed. You didn’t know that much food existed in the entire world. They cooked a lot for one meal. You suppose they may have noticed how thin you were and were overcompensating. Then they send you to bed.

There was only one bed in the smaller bedroom. Asriel insisted you take it, and he will sleep on the ground in a blanket. You kinda feel bad, and you don’t know why. You aren’t supposed to have feelings. You thought that had been beaten out of you long ago.

You look down at him and scratch the back of your head.

“I suppose… if the ground is too uncomfortable... you could sleep in the bed with me?”

His face lights up.

“If you want to, I mean! You don’t have to! I just! Thought I’d offer!” You are breathing a little quicker and your face is flushed. You must look pathetic.

He jumps into your bed excitedly, and you begin to regret your offer.

Then again… he looks so relieved. You decide you’ll allow it. Then he hugs you and you push him back. He nearly falls off the bed. You press yourself against the wall and he stays where he is, on the edge of the bed. This’ll do. You close your eyes and try to sleep.

 

You wake up with a jolt. You were falling, falling. Dark, deep, falling, falling, dark, pain. You sit up and your eyes fly open. Asriel is on the floor, a symptom of sleeping on the edge of the bed. He wakes up around the same time as yourself, and winces, rubbing his head.

“S-sorry,” you mumble.

He holds his hands up in comfort. “No, it’s okay. At least I go to sort-of sleep on the bed.”

You pull the front of your pajamas up to your face to hide your embarrassment. You couldn’t do anything right. Asriel stands up.

“Breakfast?”

You nod your head and let him lead you back to the kitchen. Toriel and Asgore are already there. They seem to be talking about you.

“I just want her to go-“ Toriel seems to notice you. “O-oh! Hello, my children.” Again, you flinch at the pet-name, but continue to listen. “We made breakfast.” You thought about what you overheard. She wanted you to go where? Perhaps just away from her and her family in general? Serves you right for making her son cry.

You look to the table for breakfast. At dinner last night, you thought the large meal was just a fluke, but it seemed this was the kind of family that cooks enough for an army at every meal. There is more food on the table than the entire family could possibly eat in a whole week. The table creaks under and abundance of fruit, waffles, pancakes, etc. Asriel sits down and begins to take food. You didn’t want to sit down without being invited to eat, but it seemed like that was what you were supposed to do. You sit down hesitantly and take a spoonful of fruit.

“That’s all you’re gonna eat?” Asriel asks.

Under his scrutinous eye you take another spoonful and a waffle. That seems to satisfy him, at least. You are about to eat when you see a brown bottle at the corner of the table.

“What’s that?” You point at the bottle.

“Um… chocolate syrup?” Asriel seems confused that you don’t know what it is. You flush. You must seem like an idiot. You think you’ve heard adults talk about chocolate, and you are pretty sure your mother had some now and again, but you've never had any.

You take the bottle and squeeze a careful amount onto your finger to test it. You stick it in your mouth, and your eyes widen. It’s amazing! You immediately dump around half the bottle onto your waffle, then even more onto the fruit.

“Woah! Hang on there!” Asriel shouts. “That’s too much! You’re gonna be sick!”

Toriel seems to notice and comes over to take the bottle. Well, that was humiliating. Your breath quickens a little. You won’t cry. Big kids don’t cry. Your breath slows down again. You keep messing up. Toriel walks over and puts the bottle back. Asgore pats your head awkwardly.

You take a bite of the waffles. The chocolate completely overpowers them. You love it. You eat the whole plate of food and get seconds. This time, Toriel applies the chocolate, so you don’t get as much this time.

After breakfast, you all head to the capital. You wonder what it’s like there. You assume they’ll probably find someone to take care of you when you get there. You admit that you kind of like these people, but you think you would be too much of a hassle to take care of. They don’t need you screwing up their family.

On the way, you pass through three areas. You find that you like Snowdin, though it’s quite cold. Waterfall is nice, too, but the moldy smell reminds you too much of your old bedroom. Hotland is… hot. You hate the heat. You were wearing one of Asriel’s sweaters, and it wasn’t fun walking through that area with it on.

New Home was beautiful. The stone gray walls complimented the greenery. Tapestries lined the walls. You eventually arrived at what you assumed was their family home.

Toriel ushered you into the house. “This is where you will be staying, my child.” You long since gave up on reacting poorly to her name for you. Her statement, however, confuses you.

“Isn’t this your house? You w-want me to stay with you?”

“Yes, my child. Welcome home.”

You smile.

Chapter Text

Life with the Dreemurrs is amazing. It’s far better than life on the surface, anyway. You quickly discover that the family actually is royalty. You remember thinking that you wouldn’t treat Asriel specially even if his family was royal, and laugh. You had been spot on.

You are kept well fed, well clothed, clean, and entertained. You didn’t know if this was what family felt like. Asriel seemed to adore you, anyway. Their family home is nice and cool. It’s the perfect temperature, especially considering your affinity to sweaters. It is very… gray, however. That part’s a little strange. Well, everything has its drawbacks, and considering where you could be, it’s not a horrific downside.

The first thing that you notice is how clean everything is. In your house on the Surface, everything was caked in a thick layer of grime and dirt. Mold and mildew grew in dark corners of the house, mostly in your ‘bedroom’, but also in the bathroom and the kitchen. The Dreemurr’s did the dishes immediately after eating from them. Your old parents left them for weeks, sometimes months. That didn’t help with the mold problem. You got sick a lot, but you weren’t taken to the doctor. If you cried, you were beaten into silence. You supposed that may have contributed to your dislike of speaking. You wished that the Dreemurr’s knew sign language. They probably didn’t. That’s a human thing.

“Would you prefer roast beef or turkey sandwiches for lunch, my child?” Toriel snaps you out of your revery.

Without thinking, you sign [Roast beef].

“Alright,” she says, and begins making it.

You realize you never said it out loud. Hesitantly, you sign [You understand sign language?].

She signs back [Yes, of course.]

[Wow! How did you learn?] You ask. You thought they had been trapped for hundreds of years, there’s no way they could have learned before then.

[A book fell into the Underground. Life here gets boring after a while, so everyone in the family knows it, at least partially.]

[I don’t like talking much.] You pause, then decide to speak. “But for some reason I don’t mind as much here.”

“That’s good, my child!” You were beginning to grow used to being called that. “You can use sign language whenever you want. You may have to repeat some things around Asriel, however. He never really took interest in the subject. I suppose you using it will give him a reason to learn!”

You were glad. You had never talked so much in your life. It was weird to speak and not immediately feel the sharp sting of a slap on your face. Your vocal cords were beginning to become sore.

“My child, today we will be taking you to a doctor. He doesn’t know as much about humans as a doctor on the surface would, but he can perform a basic checkup.”

You were going to the doctor? Didn’t that cost money? You didn’t want to burden them. If they thought you were more trouble than you were worth they may kick you out, and you didn’t want that. Then again, they were royalty, so perhaps cost wasn’t an issue.

[Okay.] You sign, slightly confused. Toriel turns around happily and continues making lunch. It smells good. You hear the padding of feet behind you and turn to see Asriel hopping into the room.

“What’s for lunch, Mom?”

You tell him in Toriel’s place. [Roast beef sandwiches.]

“You speak sign language? Cool! I know the basics. What kind of sandwich are we having? I didn’t quite catch it.”

[Roast beef.] You sign slower this time, saying the words as you sign. Asriel makes a face.

“Mom? Can I have turkey instead? Roast beef gets stuck in my teeth and it’s hard to chew.”

Your face falls. You had chosen the roast beef. You supposed it was the wrong choice, then. Figures. You weren’t good for much except fucking up.

“I guess we can have turkey then…” You mutter.

“Nonsense, my child! You may have want you want. I will simply make a seperate meal for Asriel.” She musses your hair and you whine in complaint. You reach up to fix it. It’s growing a little long, it’s past your collarbones by now. You usually cut it to spite your parents. You were a girl, in both gender and sex, but liked your hair short,just above your shoulders. Your parents hated when you cut it. It was well worth the beatings to see the looks on their faces whenever you hacked it off with safety scissors.

After lunch, Toriel insisted that it was time to go to the doctor. You weren’t about to complain, you had never been to one before. For all you knew you had horrible incurable maladies and they would be rid of your burdenous self soon enough.

“They aren’t exactly doctors, more like scientists than anything, but it’s the best we have,” Toriel explains. You nod, then go back to the bedroom to get dressed.

You wear another one of Asriel’s sweaters. You still had yet to find anything that wasn’t green or yellow or a combination of the two. He seemed to only own sweaters. At least you liked sweaters.

The lab was in Hotland. Of course it was. And it was near the entrance, so you had to walk through the whole area to get there. You would be sure to request a heavy-duty wash for the sweater.

In contrast to the sweltering outdoors, the lab was heaven. Air conditioning truly was a gift. You were led into an elevator and then through a maze of hallways. It was kind of dimly lit down there, but it seemed clean enough.

You were brought into a small room containing three monsters. What appeared to be a lizard, and two… skeletons? How did that work? They didn’t have muscles to move their limbs, bare bones can’t move themselves. You chalk it up to magic.

The taller of the two skeletons walks up to you and extends a hand. You notice it has a wide hole in the middle and bite back a wince. That would be rude. You take the hand, feeling the noticeable hole, leaving your palm open to the air. That was a strange sensation.

“Doctor W.D. Gaster,” he introduces himself. He then gestures to the shorter skeleton. “Sans.” Sans gives a lazy wave, and the Doctor moves to the lizard. “Alphys.” She also gives a little wave.

He pauses, and you can tell he wants your name. “Chara,” you inform him, and he nods, already turning away towards the other two scientists.

You notice that Sans and Alphys both have big, plastic ‘INTERN’ badges over their chests. Made sense, they looked a little young. Although, you probably weren’t the best judge, seeing as you only fell down a couple days ago. They both wore a lab coat, but while Gaster and Alphys both seemed to be following some sort of dress code- black button down and khakis underneath- Sans was wearing a hoodie under. He had the hood drawn up on his skull. It looked a little strange paired with the lab coat. He did seem to be wearing the khakis, at least.

Gaster begins scribbling something on a paper, surveying you. You stand there awkwardly for a couple minutes. You pull your sweater sleeves down to hide your hands, which helps stave off your social anxiety. You don’t know why, but you felt the constant need to hide your hands when you were in a social setting. You rock back and forth on your toes until the scientist finishes writing.

The lizard pipes up.

“If y-you could ju-just sit on this examina-nation table here, we c-can begin,” She chirps. Her voice is a little squeaky, but not intolerable. She sounds like she could be your age, if not younger. She seems okay.

You walk over to the table. It’s smooth and cold and metal, and is covered with a waxy paper.

Gaster stands in the corner with a clipboard, and the others approach you. It seems he will merely be observing. You actually find you prefer it this way. Gaster is kind of scary, what with his scars on his face and holes in his hands. He also exudes an aura of… something. It feels familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

“alright right, kid. can you open your mouth?” Sans is holding a light up to you. You open your mouth, if only to object to being called a kid. His voice only confirmed what you thought. He seemed to be around your age! Besides the fact that you were thirteen and hardly a child anymore. At this point, there was no stopping Toriel from calling you that, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t stop it here before it became habit.

At least that’s what you meant to do. You opened your mouth to tell him off and he immediately jammed the light in. Oh, well. He peers around for a little, then signs something to the Doctor. You can’t quite make it out, as his back is turned. Something about ‘smoke inhalation’ you think.

[You can sign?] Your hands dart up before you can stop them.

[Yes. The Doctor and A-L-P-H-Y-S can as well. We learned so we can speak without the public knowing what we are saying.] He spells Alphys’ name out before teaching you her name sign so he doesn’t have to do it again. Her sign is literally the sign for anime, then a heart. Wow. He also teaches his own name sign, two taps on his teeth and then the sign for ketchup. What?

[Do you have one?] He seems intent on finding out.

You fidget a little. You had never made one. You think for a second, then bring two fingers to your right cheek and drag them in a smile motion to your left cheek. That’ll do.

He repeats the motion, and Alphys, watching, does as well.

[What about him?] You point to the Doctor.

[He prefers you just call him the doctor, unless you are me or my brother.] He grins. [He is my father, but I call him D-O-C anyway just to make him angry.] He spells out “Doc”, sign language wouldn’t allow for the shortened term. You suppose that their relation explains the resemblance.

“Less talking, more working,” the Doctor reminds them, and they continue the checkout. By the end, they have a full report. Your vision is excellent, and you seem to be in good health besides a vitamin D and C deficiency and minor smoke inhalation.

“how did you inhale all that smoke?” Sans asks, touching your throat lightly. “your throat is red raw.”

“My parents were cigarette smokers. They didn’t leave the house before lighting one up.”

He nods, pulling his hands away.

“well, luckily, we don’t have any of those down here. some packs have fallen in, but they were empty.”

[Good.] Maybe the smoke inhalation was another reason why your throat hurt if you spoke too long.

The Doctor stood up from the corner he was slouching in, signaling the end of the appointment.

Toriel was waiting for you on the top floor.

“How did it go, my child?”

“Good.”

You think about your old parents. You think about the beatings, the smoke, the malnutrition, the sickness, and the neglect. You think about the Dreemurrs and all the love they’ve shared. You think about your life in the future. You make your decision.

“Let’s go home, mom.”

Chapter Text

You are sitting in the kitchen watching Toriel cook. It’s very hypnotizing. The soft thunks of her knife slicing vegetables, the scrape as she moves them into a bowl, the rush of water coming out of the sink. It’s all very relaxing.

“Would you like to help, my child?”

You immediately perk up. [Sure!] You pause, and your hands fumble. [If you want me to.] Your old parents had never let you cook. They always got fast food. You had also always wanted to bake. The results of it always smelled so good.

“Of course you can help. Here,” she holds out a bowl and a whisk to you, and you take it from your seated position on the floor. “mix this for me.”

You put the whisk in hesitantly and begin mixing. Watching the ingredients blend together is cathartic, in a way. You don’t quite know why.

You hear Toriel sigh.

“I am very glad you are living here. I do not believe your previous parents treated you very well.”

You burst out laughing. That’s an understatement. She ignores the outburst.

“Asgore will be gardening in the throne room today. I would like you to accompany him. Asriel will go too. Tomorrow I will take you clothing shopping. You are probably tiring of wearing the same outfit every day. I try to get my son to install some variation in his wardrobe, but…” she sighs, “Obviously he refuses.”

You nod your head solemnly, continuing to mix the ingredients. You had been wearing the same green and yellow sweaters for almost a week now.

“Okay, Mom,” you reply quietly, and you can almost feel her smile. Her reaction had been brilliant when you called her that after the doctors appointment, so you had resolved to say it more often.

After around five minutes of your stirring she takes the bowl back and invites you to watch. As you watch, elbows prolong your head up on the counter, she asks you about yourself.

“If you do not mind, my child, how old are you?”

“Thirteen-ish,” you reply promptly.

“Asriel is twelve, so at least you two aren’t so far in age. Hmmm,” she pauses. “When is your birthday?”

You aren’t entirely sure. You shrug your shoulders.

“You do not know? I suppose we can celebrate it in a month or so, if it is alright with you.”

You don’t have anything against it, so you nod your head. Toriel hums her approval.

“I am beginning a knitting project soon. Do you think that is something you may be interested in?” She seems to want you to get a hobby. You wonder why.

[I suppose I could try it.] You respond after thinking for a moment.

Toriel nods, then finishes her preparations. She picks up the bowl and places it on a single hand, raising it high. What is she doing? Suddenly, her hand bursts into flames, and you jump back, crying out. She holds it for around ten seconds, then extinguishes the flames and lays the bowl down.

“What the hell was that?!” You half-shout.

“Language, Chara.” Toriel scolds you. “That was fire magic.”

You don’t really like fire, and it probably shows in your face. Your breath is a little quicker, and you can feel that your face is pale. You can’t have a panic attack. Now here, not now. You force your breathing to slow. It hurts, but it works.

After you are calmed, you look into the bowl. The food looks and smells perfectly cooked! Fire magic does wonders, it seems.

“You are not… afraid fire, are you?” She asks tentatively.

You fidget with your hands, then nod your head.

“Well, have no fear. Fire magic will cause you no harm, as long as I will it not to. And I would never want it to harm you. Here,” she summons a small flame from her finger, and you step back. “It’s okay. It will not harm you. See,” she runs her finger through the flame. “Come, put your hand near. It is merely warm, not hot. You do not have to touch it if you do not wish to, but you should at least feel the temperature.”

You hesitantly move your hand near it, jerking it back occasionally before continuing to move it forward. You stop when it is hovering over the flame. She was right. It felt pleasantly warm. You move your finger into the flame, and gasp in shock. It feels like a warm bath. You take your hand out and she puts the flame out. You aren’t as afraid anymore.

 

After your meal, you were ready to go gardening. You hoped you wouldn’t ruin Asriel’s sweater too much. You tugged at your hair in annoyance. It was too long. You had searched the entire house futilely for a hair tie, but to no avail. You didn’t suppose a family of goats would have any need for hair bands. You would have to deal with the annoyance of loose hair. You would need to see if someone could give you a haircut soon. You would hate to be a burden, though.

“Hey, Chara!” Asriel was waiting outside the house for the walk to the throne room.

[Hello Asriel.] You use his name sign, three hearts haphazardly placed on your chest. [Where is Dad?]

[Oh, he is…] he pauses. “How do you sign ‘waiting in the garden?’”

You show him, and he signs,

[He is waiting in the garden.]

[Okay.] You take a step forward to signal that you are ready to go. Asriel quickly takes your side.

“Mom and Dad were thinking of announcing you to the public soon,” he tells you. “You’ll be an official part of the family!” He grins, and it’s infectious. Pretty soon you find yourself suppressing a smile as well.

“That’s good.” You won’t have to worry as much about being kicked out for being a burden. They’ll have made it official. You breath a small sigh of relief.

There’s an awkward silence. You are terrible at conversation.

“So… Mom wants to celebrate my birthday in a month,” you say randomly, scratching the back of your head.

“That’s great! Except… I don’t know what I would get you…”

“Um, well, that brown stuff I put on my food that one time was pretty good, if there’s more of that!”

“You mean chocolate? I can see if I can find you a chocolate bar. You wouldn’t want to just drink plain syrup,” he replies. Then he seems to come up with an idea. “What if I got you a bunch of different kinds? Then you could see what type you like the best!”

You nod your head enthusiastically. Anything to get more of that brown sugary goodness.

The gray hallways you two were walking down end abruptly, and you enter a golden hall. It’s quiet, and your footsteps echo down the long passage. Somehow, sunlight shines in from windows on the left wall. The room gives off an eery feeling, like the judgement before the slaughter. The atmosphere feels like a heavy weight on your shoulders. This place feels important, like something big is supposed to happen here.

Needless to say, you don’t like the room.

You can’t get out of there quick enough. The last few steps are quick little pats as you try to exit as fast as you can. For some reason, that room makes it feel like something is watching you from behind, boring holes in the back of your neck.

You turn the corner to exit the hall, and give a shiver. You realize you will have to walk back through to get back, and are glad that you will have Asgore with you and Asriel that time. You never want to go through alone. It makes you feel… anxious.

 

Asriel leads you to the throne room quickly, seeming to notice your distress. Asgore’s large frame takes up much of the garden. The yellow flowers clash perfectly with his long purple cape.

“Oh hello, Chara, Asriel. Come, sit.” He takes a deep breath. The throne room also had a strange golden light filtering through the windows. How did that work? Oh well.

“It’s a beautiful day outside. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming. On days like these, kids like you two… should be enjoying the day in the garden,” He smiles.

You sit down next to him with Asriel.

“What first?” You ask him.

“Well, what is your favorite flower?” He booms.

You think about your life on the surface, but it chokes you up, so you sign.

[In my bedroom I raised a golden flower. I kept it in my window, as far from the cigarette smoke as I could. Do you have any?]

“Well, we have some buttercups,” he offers, gesturing to some small yellow flowers.

They aren’t quite the same thing, but the color is fairly close. You remember picking your flower from a patch in the city park. You had dug it up carefully by the roots. You hadn’t known anything about gardening, but that was what the internet was for.

[Yes, that would work.] You would miss your flower- it was the best thing in your life on the surface- but this was your new life now. It was time to move on.

He directs you towards the buttercups. They are quite pretty. He shows you his care routine. Water, pat, magic. You aren’t quite sure how you will do the last one until he tells you to just do the first two.

“I’ll do the ‘magic’ part,” he says, grinning sheepishly.

The work is monotonous, but in a good way. It takes your mind off of thoughts of the surface. A couple of buttercup plants had yet to be put in the soil, so you plant all but one into the ground. When you reach the last one, you pick up it’s pot tentatively.

“Dad?” You call. He had accepted the name alongside Toriel. It had originally felt a little strange to call them by these familial terms, but it fit them. You got used to it quickly.

“Yes, Chara?”

“Can I keep this one in the bedroom? I kept one on the Surface, I think I can take good care of it!” You look down a little after you say it. You probably sounded too demanding.

“Of course, young one! I will acquire a heating lamp from the laboratory, as there is no natural light in New Home.”

You grin and hug the pot to your chest. Great!

“Also, I’m finished,” you inform him.

“Wonderful. Asriel is almost done as well. Would you like to assist him?”

You move over to where Asriel is planting sunflowers. What an ironic flower to plant, considering the location. You grab a pot and plant the flower, smiling at Asriel. He smiles back. He has a bit of dirt smudged in his fur, and you reach over to wipe it off.

“There you go,” you whisper. He laughs a little, then thumbs your nose.

“You too,” he holds up his thumb, revealing the dirt he just wiped from the bridge of your nose. Your cheeks feel warm.

You two finish with the sunflowers quickly. Asgore offers to accompany you both back to New Home and you gladly accept. His presence would help in that creepy hallway. You realize that you will have to walk through it any time you want to garden and frown. You hug your buttercup closer to your chest.

The second time through the hallway isn’t as bad as the first, but it’s still pretty terrible. You still can’t shake the feeling that something bad is meant to happen here. You feel… something crawl down your back.

You are very relieved to get home. Toriel seemed to be a mind reader. Sensing your previous discomfort, she gives you a larger slice of pie than the others, holding a finger to her lips as she did.

After dinner, she attempts to show you the ropes of knitting. It’s tricky, but surprisingly, you catch on pretty fast. You spend your evening like that, listening to Asgore’s deep, booming voice and Asriel’s smaller one in deep conversation. You feel warm, and fuzzy.

This was starting to feel like family.

Chapter Text

It had been two weeks since you fell. Toriel finally took you to get clothes around a week ago, and you were much happier for it. You were now the proud owner of three full outfits, though Toriel promised to get you more as time passed. You had gotten a blue button down and overalls for the first, a purple and lime-green striped T-shirt and jean shorts for the second, and a sweater to match Asriel’s as well as jeans for the third.

The sweater wasn’t quite the same. It had only a singular stripe instead of the multitude present on the boy’s sweaters, and also didn’t have a turtleneck. Turtlenecks always made you feel like you were suffocating slightly. You would always wear one thinking that maybe it would be fine that time, only to have yourself tugging at the fabric only an hour later.

The Dreemurrs had officially decided to tell the public of your arrival, and introduce you as family. After that, they would go on their monthly walk of the Underground. You hoped your arrival hadn’t postponed their trip, but if it had, it just showed how much of a nuisance you were. They probably only wanted you as their family out of pity. Better than nothing, you suppose.

So now you were standing on the edge of a balcony looking downwards towards the population. Secluded off to the side were employees of the King and their families. You catch a glimpse of Doctor Gaster, and look around him to see Sans and someone you haven’t seen before, another skeleton. He looks like he might be younger than Sans, but he is on the verge of growing taller than him. You were always good at guessing ages, it was just a weird talent you had.

Sans catches your eye and nods at you, turning towards his… brother? He looks deep in conversation with the boy. The little kid is animatedly jumping up and down and pointing upwards.

At you.

Oh. Well. You supposed that you were up here for people to see, but it was little weird to be pointed at. You quickly divert your attention from that particular family, and seek out Alphys. You quickly find her, also in the employee section, and take in her family. You see a larger male lizard, who appears to be her father, wearing a lab coat. Maybe that’s how someone who looks to be around twelve years old managed to get an internship at the royal laboratory. That’s probably how Sans got his, too, now that you thought about it.

Asgore clears his throat, and waits for the crowd’s talk to die down. He straightens his back, standing large to the crowd. He looks powerful, looking more kingly here than you have ever seen him. You don’t think it really hit you until now that he was the leader of all of these people.

“Howdy,” He begins, and you have to suppress a snort of laughter. All of the greeting you could have chosen for your kingly speech and you choose ‘howdy’? Jesus Christ. The crowd isn’t laughing, so you suppose the usage of this greeting must be commonplace.

“I have gathered you all today to inform you of an incredible occurrence. As those on my staff are already aware, a human fell, just two weeks ago.” he pauses to allow the crowd to process his statement.

The crowd bursts out in cheers and applause. You think you actually see a couple of them crying. Asgore waits for the crowd to quiet again.

“Over the two weeks they have lived with us, we have come to know her as a thoughtful, good person. We have decided to take her in as part of the family.” He again pauses, and the crowd doesn’t disappoint. More cheers and applause respond to his statement. You think about his words and flush a little. You weren’t either of those things. Humans were terrible people, and you were no exception. Here you were, burdening this beautiful family with your presence, when they could be on their own.

“Therefore, I now introduce to you,” Asgore takes a breath, and gently pats your back to push you in front of him. You stumble slightly, but stay on your feet. “Princess Chara Dreemurr.” He ends his introduction on a loud note, and holds his arms out widely. The crowd is immensely loud, louder than they had been this whole time. You give them a little wave, and you think they get a decibel louder. You think about what Asgore said, and falter slightly.

You were a princess?

You certainly didn’t feel like one. Toriel has suggested you wear the sweater you had gotten, to match Asriel, and you had buttercups adorning your hair. You probably looked more like a little kid than like royalty. Then again, Asriel was wearing the same, and he was the prince, so perhaps it didn’t matter.

The crowd doesn’t lessen its noise in the slightest when you stop waving, and the noise is starting to get to you. This is far more attention than you had ever had in your life, and now your anxiety was acting up. You pull your sweater sleeves down to hide your hands, and bring them up to fiddle with your hair. You wanted a haircut, but felt too nervous to ask for one. What if they thought that girls shouldn't have short hair, like your old parents did?

Asriel seems to notice your discomfort, and moves you stand closer to you. He discreetly wraps an arm around your back to comfort you, and you breath a little easier. You bring your arms back down to your side, though your hands are still hidden.

The crowd finally begins to quiet down, though you can still hear a squeaking cheer from the employee section. You look down to see the younger skeleton brother jumping around and kicking the air, running in circles around Sans. You roll your eyes and burst out laughing, and Asriel turns to see what you’re looking at. He starts laughing as well, until Toriel gives you two a sharp look and you immediately shut your mouth. You look down. Of course you messed up.

After what feels like hours, though realistically was probably only a few minutes, Asgore ushers you all back into New Home. From the corner of your eye, you can see the crowd draining away, back to wherever they came from. You supposed you would find out tomorrow. You were exhausted. Who knew being exhibited to an entire kingdom would be tiresome?

You and the Dreemurrs (though weren’t you a Dreemurr now?) have dinner quickly. You are all very tired. You are glad that Toriel ordered a second bed to be brought to the castle when you got your clothing. Sharing a bed with Asriel always led to him waking up on the ground. You aren’t sure, but you think you may be a sleep-kicker.

After dinner and pie, you are sent straight to bed. You pull the covers up tight over yourself.

“Goodnight Chara,” Asriel calls over in a singsong voice.

You pause, eyes tight in the fabric of the comforter, before taking a breath, and answering,

“Goodnight, Asriel.”

Chapter Text

They wake you up early the day after you were introduced to the public. Well, he wakes you up. And by wakes you up, you mean he jumps on your bed, falls on your stomach, and accidentally punches your face.

You shoot up the second Asriel lands on your stomach, which launches your face directly in the path of his oncoming fist.

“Owww..” you groan, rubbing your nose. “What the fuck, Asriel?”

He winces at the swear word, and hesitantly reaches forward to touch your nose, but you jerk back.

“S-sorry, Chara!” He whimpers, drawing back. God, he’s about to cry, you can tell. You roll your eyes. You’ve had worse.

“It’s alright, you big dope. Don’t cry. Big kids don’t cry,” you try to comfort him, but you feel that your tone is probably too firm. It just causes the tears to unleash themselves upon his face, and you groan in annoyance before flopping back down on the bed and pressing a pillow to your face. You can’t deal with other people’s emotions.

You hear sniffling, and peek out to see him wiping his face. You take the pillow fully off your face and sit up to place an arm around him.

“Look, I’m sorry, okay?” Your tone probably isn’t much better than it was before, but Asriel nods into the hug. You sigh in relief. At least he wouldn’t hate you forever, though you probably deserved it. What were you thinking, cussing around the cinnamon roll? He had probably never heard a cuss word before you came along.

“It’s f-fine,” he sniffles, “I just wanted to wake you up early to prepare for the family walk.”

Right. The walk of the Underground. You stood up from the bed and walked over to your closet, rummaging through the three outfits you currently owned. You had worn the sweater that matched Asriel’s yesterday, but it was probably still clean if you wanted to wear it again. Nah, you would have to walk through Hotland with it on if you wore it. You opted instead for the navy-blue button down and overalls. You also grabbed the pair of boots you had fallen down in. They were good for walking- you had climbed a mountain in them, and it wasn’t an easy mountain to climb.

You went into the bathroom on the opposite side of the hall from your room, and pulled on the clothes. It fit you just right, except at the ends of your sleeves, where you had requested they be made a little too long. Longer sleeves meant that you could hide your hands, a necessity.

Knock, knock.

You open the door and peek out, seeing Toriel behind the door.

“Greetings, my child. We have around an hour before the walk, and I was wondering,” she held up a pair of silver scissors, “if you wanted me to cut your hair? I have noticed that you do not seem to enjoy the length, and I am afraid it has only grown longer since you fell. I’m not the best at cutting hair, but-”

“Yes!” You can’t get the word out fast enough. You realize you cut her off, and correct yourself. You take a step back, and place your hands behind your back. “I mean, yes, please.”

Toriel laughs. “Good, good! She steps forward, gently nudging the bathroom door open, and steps into the room. She places a paw on your shoulder and steers you to the mirror, standing over you.

“How short do you want it?” She leans over you, scissors poised above your head.

“U-um, around here,” you reply, gesturing around half an inch above your shoulders.

She nods, and begins her work, not bothering to cover your clothing. You would have to clean it off, but you supposed it was worth it to get rid of the nuisance that was long hair.

She works slowly, but surely. You wonder if she’s done this before. You want to ask her, but opening your mouth would move your head at the angles she has you. You sign instead.

“Oh! Yes, I have,” she responds, “Asgore trains a small monster girl. She has the biggest head of fiery red hair, and it grows very fast. She doesn’t have any parents to cut it for her, so I do it!”

You almost nod in acknowledgement before catching yourself. The rest of the haircut proceeds silently, and she finishes within a couple minutes. She pulls the scissors away, and you gently turn your head, tossing your hair around. The cut isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than you could do yourself, and pulls the hair off from your collarbones. You grin.

“It’s perfect.”

Toriel smiles warmly, and musses your hair. You hear the padding of feet outside the bathroom door, and turn as it’s opened.

“Woah, Chara! What happened to your hair?” Asriel asks in amazement.

[I got it cut.] You roll your eyes as you say it.

“Be nice, Chara,” Toriel chastises you, but she’s still smiling.

You all head into the family room to wait for Asgore to be ready to go. He emerges from his room in around twenty minutes, and Toriel retrieves a picnic basket from the kitchen. You suppose the walk may take a while, it’s probably good that she’s bringing food for the trip.

And with that, you all depart the house. New Home, at the moment, is fairly quiet, so you attempt to enjoy the silence for the time being. Then the insufferably long elevator ride to the CORE. The CORE is unsettling, to say the least. It’s so big and confusing that it feels like someone could go missing there and no one would ever know. You are glad you have your family with you. The CORE is also fairly silent, a strange hollow wind sound being the only noise you can hear, along with some clanking and whirring noises. It’s remarkable that this structure can power the entire Underground so silently.

“Hey, Chara,” Asriel bounds up to you, breaking you out of your current thought, “will your hair ever grow back?”

You nod. [Yes, but then I will cut it again.]

He seems to understand, but his expression shows that he still finds it strange.

“Not many monsters have hair! I mean, aside from fur, like me and Mom and Dad. Undyne has hair, though. I can’t think of anyone else…”

“Who’s Undyne?” You ask. Maybe she was the monster kid Toriel had spoken about.

“Oh! She’s super tough! Dad’s training her to be Captain of the Royal Guard someday! By that time, I’ll be King!” So she was that kid.

You hadn’t considered the fact that Asriel would be King one day. Maybe you’d be his advisor, or something. You were technically part of the royal family. You snickered at the thought of Asriel in Asgore’s clothing. What a dweeb!

You smile. It seems that you are able to actually smile now, and it wouldn’t be a lie. You hadn’t had that on the Surface. You continue on through the CORE with your family at your side.

Chapter Text

The walk through Hotland was fairly uneventful. Once, a monster came up to Asgore and asked if he could help solve a puzzle with him- the man couldn’t figure it out, and this couldn’t get home- but otherwise nothing of note occurred. The lab, when you arrived there, was completely empty, and Toriel said that it was a monster holiday.

[What holiday?] You asked. No one had told you, not even Asriel.

“Today is the Anniversary of the Creation of the Barrier. It is not a happy holiday, but at least the people get time off of work. That is also why Hotland is so empty,” she seemed to enjoy explaining this to you.

You hadn’t known that you had fallen so close to the day the Barrier was created. It seemed connected. You mentally shrug your shoulders. It was probably just a coincidence.

You enter Waterfall soon after, grateful for the cool air, which hung thick and misty, wrapping around you like a cold blanket. It felt nice after Hotland. You hadn’t paid much attention to your surroundings on the walk from the Ruins to New Home. Now that you looked closer, you saw little blue flowers littering the sides of the pathway. You think you hear whispering.

“What's that?” You ask, paranoid.

Asriel laughs. “Those are the Echo Flowers, silly!”

“And those are…?” You look at him confused. You have never heard of them before.

“You’ve never seen an Echo Flower? But you walked through here when you fell! How did you not see them?” He shakes his head to the ground, sending his ears flopping. A snort of laughter escapes you at the sight. He doesn’t seem to notice. You gesture for him to explain the flowers.

“Echo Flowers repeat the last thing it hears, over and over,” he states.

[But they don’t have ears.] You look at him incredulously. He has to be making this up. [How does that work?]

He looks at you, takes a deep breath, and responds in one drawn out phrase,

“Mmmaaagiiic.” He holds his paws up and wiggles them for extra effect. You roll your eyes and release a huff of air, blowing your bangs up for a split second.

“Smartass,” you comment dryly.

Uh oh. You forgot the present company. Toriel whirls around from her position in front of you.

“Chara! No inappropriate language! Do you want to lose your dessert tonight?” Her tone is firm, but she’s not yelling at you, at least. Despite this, you can feel your anxiety amping up inside of you, and you quickly tug your shirt sleeves over your hands before you look down and reply,

“S-sorry, Mom! Sorry, sorry.” Now your face is even more flushed than it normally is. You couldn’t even apologize correctly! Your breathing is still too quick and your chest feels tight. You won’t cry, you don’t cry. Big kids don’t cry. You remind yourself that they already took you in as family to the public, so if they got rid of you like they rightfully should, the public would be angry. That was the one thing you had going for you- you were so antisocial that no one knew how horrible you really were.

Toriel seems to notice your sudden anxiety.

“It is… okay, my child. Just attempt to stop, will you not?”

You nod your head frantically and she turns back around to keep walking, concerned look pasted on her face.

You hear a triumphant scream from the next room in the caverns, and Asgore seems to perk up a little. You wonder why. You all enter the next cavern, only to see what appears to be a teenage girl with blue skin and long, red hair. Could this be Undyne? They had said earlier that she had red hair, and you hadn’t seen anybody else that even had hair in the first place, so it wasn’t a far stretch.

Asgore walks towards her, arms outstretched. The girl notices him and bounds towards him. She has some kind of pointy stick thing in her hand. You couldn’t remember what they were called. She came up from the hug, seemingly forgetting she was holding the weapon, before realizing and dissipating it into thin air and jumping into the hug.

“Dad!” She shouts. Dad? You had another sibling?

Asriel sees your confused expression and chuckles, whispering to you, “She’s not really his daughter. She just trains with him. She’s an orphan though, so she calls him ‘Dad’. I’ve always just gone with it.”

So this was Undyne, if she trained with Asgore. She looked to be a little older than you, maybe around fifteen or sixteen.

“What’re you doing around here, and is that,” she narrows her eyes at you, and squints, then gasps, “is thAT THE HUMAN?!” She’s jumping around now, freaking out. You feel… nervous. Asgore laughs, and places his hands out to calm her.

“Relax, Undyne. Yes, this is the human. Her name is ‘Chara’,” he introduces you. You wave shyly.

[Hi. Nice to meet you.] You aren’t sure if she knows sign language, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

“Ummm… why are you waving your hands like that? Is that- is that a secret handshake?! I wanna learn!” Now she’s jumping around again. Jeez.

“It’s sign language. It’s a way of talking,” you respond.

“So like a secret code? That’s so awesome!” She somehow starts jumping around even faster, and you cower in fear. Nothing will stop her.

You silently back into the next room, with Asriel and Toriel in tow. Asgore stays behind for a couple of seconds before reluctantly bidding her farewell and also inching out.

“She is strange,” you remark after you are safely out of her hearing range. These caverns are echoey. You also have to make sure there are none of those freaky flowers around.

Asriel laughs loudly, and you can hear it reverb throughout the room.

“She’s not normally like that. I think she’s wanted to see a human for a long time,” he smiles.

That quiets you for a while. After a time, you enter Snowdin. You are glad to have your long sleeves, but the material is silky and not particularly heat-conserving, so you end up shivering anyway. Toriel and Asgore tell you two that they are going to be conducting business with some kind of ice-throwing wolf, so you two can do whatever you want.

“Chara! Do you wanna have a snowball fight?” He seems to be excited. He’s bouncing on the balls of his feet. You are a little too cold to play right now, but you accept anyway. You can’t squash that smile.

He squeals in excitement, and grabs your hand, pulling you towards the town square. You yelp and stumble, not expecting to be yanked, but stay on your feet.

“Hey! Does anyone want to play?” He asks a group of kids. They look nervous and shy away from him. They were probably intimidated. He was the Prince, and you were a human. It might be a little scary to play with you two. Asriel turns to you.

“We might have to play on our own. Is that okay?” He seems a little downtrodden, so you place an arm around him.

“It’ll be fun,” you tell him, trying to stop your teeth from chattering. You feel a shiver run through you. Do it for Asriel, you tell yourself.

An hour later you are covered in snow and your nose is numb, but Asriel is laughing so gleefully that it makes up for the cold feeling.

“What about some hide-and-seek?” He offers. You nod reluctantly, even though you want to go inside and warm up.

“Yay!” He shouts. “You hide first!” He immediately turns towards the wall of a library (librarby? That’s how it’s spelled…) and begins to count. You aren’t sure how long he’ll be counting for, so you take a sprinting run towards the forest.

Where to go, where to go? You are whipping through the trees, weaving in and out of different rows. You leave the path, and start climbing a tree. You aren’t quite sure where you are, but Asriel will find you, and he knows the way around, right?

You reach the top of the tree fairly quickly. You are built quite lightly, and used to climb trees all the time back on the surface. You look around, and your face pales when you see how far out into the forest you are. You can barely see Asriel down in the town below, and he isn’t even looking at the forest. He’ll never find you…

And you have no way of getting back. Even though you can see the way back from up here, as soon as you reach the ground you will be lost. You start climbing down the tree, hoping that maybe somehow you’ll remember the way back. Halfway down the tree, you place your foot tentatively on a tree branch, and when it doesn’t move, you put your full weight down on it.

That was a mistake. Crack. The branch makes a horrific cracking sound, and you try to leap back up to the branch you came from, but it’s too late. You are already falling.

You hid the ground with a soft thud. The height you fell from was pretty high, so it’s a good thing the ground was so packed with snow. As it is, the wind is knocked out of you, and you can’t get up. A gust of wind blows in between the trees, making your numb face even colder. You feel tears pricking your eyes. You hadn’t meant for this to happen. You just wanted to make Asriel happy! God, you were such a screw-up. You won’t cry, you don’t cry. Big kids don’t cry.

You start crying.

The sobbing starts quiet, but with it, you pour out all of your stress and anxiety and self hatred and god, why couldn’t you do anything right? Before long your cries pick up, and the snow absorbs some of the sound, but it’s still loud and you cringe. You need to stop crying. You are too old to cry.

Crunch, crunch.

Someone steps on the snow near you. You look up to see something blue, but your vision is too blurry from tears to make it out properly.

You force yourself to stop crying. It was bad enough to cry when you were alone, but now there was someone here, and you were humiliated.

You feel arms around you, and suddenly they pull firmly to pick you up. You feel yourself put over someone’s shoulder. They’re warm, and you instinctively hold tight to the source of it. Your eyes are a little clearer, and you can see that the person is wearing a blue hoodie. Unfortunately, you are slung over their back, so you can’t tell exactly who it is, but you can at least see their outfit. Blue sweater, black gym shorts, pink slippers. Strange outfit for how cold it is outside. You don’t know how they wear shorts in this weather.

They walk at a steady pace, holding you tightly to their shoulder so you don’t bounce. You look a little closer at the sweater. It has a ketchup stain on it? Hold on a second. This sweater kind of makes it look like the person carrying you is…

“Sans?”

Chapter Text

The skeleton took you straight back to a two-story house you had seen in Snowdin. His house? Probably. When you had questioned his name in the forest earlier, he had simply let out a hum of affirmation, but hadn’t said anything since. He had found you, but why was he there in the first place? He sets you down gently on the couch and stomps upstairs somewhere, you aren’t sure. You’re so cold, and it’s kind of hard to keep your eyes open. That isn’t a good sign.

He reenters with someone else. If you try hard to focus, you can make out that it looks like the little kid you saw near Sans when you were introduced to the public. They seem to be talking about something, but you can barely make it out. God, you were in terrible shape. You can hear fragments of phrases as you drift in and out of consciousness.

“papyrus…. human…. cold outside…. can you-“

You pass out after that last fragment for good, glad for the warm blackness that overtakes your consciousness. You hadn’t realized how cold you had been until you were in the warmth.

You wake up slowly after what feels like no time at all, but was probably hours in reality. There’s something warm and thick placed over you, and someone has their hands on your stomach, pressing gently. You think you feel something warm flowing into you, spreading throughout your body. It’s calming, and relaxes you back into sleepiness, but you force yourself to stay awake.

You open your eyes slowly, wincing at the brightness of the room. Your eyes focus on someone kneeling in front of you, as they yell,

“SANS! SHE’S WAKING UP!” And you hear someone pad over from another room. Your eyes finally finish focusing and you can see it’s the kid from earlier. Your vision is still pretty hazy, but you can make that out, at least.

“Who…?” Your tongue feels heavy in your mouth, and your speech is sluggish. You try to raise a hand to your head but someone’s hand flies up to stop you.

“don’t move, kid,” you hear Sans’s voice drawl out. “relax. we aren’t gonna hurt you.”

“Sans?” You see him nod quietly through the haze. Your eyes flick over to the younger skeleton kid. “Who?”

“oh, um. papyrus. this is papyrus,” he informs you.

“Brother? What is he…” You look down at your stomach, and Papyrus’s hands are still there. You try to sit up, and are greeted with a headache. You push through it and prop yourself up on the couch you are sitting on.

“yeah, he’s my bro,” he grins. “and, uh, he’s healing you.” He looks puzzled. “what else would he be doing?”

“I dunno…” You look back down at the hands on your stomach. “Almost done?” You look at Papyrus pointedly. You really don’t like being touched.

The kid nearly jumps when you address him. Why? Maybe because you were a human?

“YES! JUST A LITTLE MORE…” He squints his eye sockets as much as a skeleton can, seemingly concentrating. Your head throbs at his loud volume, but you don’t ask for him to quiet down.

After a few more minutes, he hums in satisfaction and takes his hands away, panting. That was probably pretty tiring, you suppose. He looks up at Sans, seemingly for praise, and he chuckles, patting his head.

“great job, pap. thank you. can you go play in your room so i can talk to the human?” Papyrus nods eagerly and sprints up the stairs you can vaguely see in the house.

Your head is clearer now, and your vision is nearly unobscured, so you think you can talk semi-coherently now.

“W-what exactly happened? I know I f-fell from a tree, but…” Your thought escapes you, but he seems to understand you nonetheless.

“you were nearly freezing to death, kid. you were blue.” He laughs.

“Why do you call me ‘kid’? You look even younger than I am.” You cross your arms over your chest huffily. He seems to consider this for a second.

“well, how old are you?”

“Thirteen, but I’m gonna be fourteen in like two weeks,” you respond flippantly.

“so, thirteen, then. well, i’m twelve,” he scratches the back of his head. “to be honest, it’s just a habit. i’ll stop if it makes you uncomfortable…”

“I mean, it doesn’t quite make me uncomfortable, but it is a little weird for a kid younger than me to call me ‘kid’.” It’s the truth. You normally didn’t mind much what you were called, as long as it wasn’t an explicit insult, so he could call you ‘kid’ if he wished to.

“well, then, kid. what were you doing out there, anyways?”

“Oh, um,” Your face flushed at the memory of your embarrassing trip to the woods. “I was playing hide-and-seek with Asriel, and I got the bright idea to hide in the forest. I decided to climb a tree when I realized I was lost, but then I fell, and… I guess the rest is history.” A thought pops into your mind. “W-what were you doing there?”

“well,” you think you see the faintest tinge of blue on his cheeks, “i was training.” He mumbles the last words under his breath, but you catch them anyway.

“Training? For what?” He has legitimately sparked your curiosity.

“nothing!” He clears his throat. “nothing.” His face flickers back to his usual lazy grin, but you aren’t fooled. You decide to drop the matter for now, at least.

“so, where are your parents? i mean, it’s pretty unsafe for you to go back out alone, considering the state your clothes are in.”

He’s right, your shirt is downright soaked. It wasn’t warm in the first place, made of a silky fabric, but now that it was wet it would be a death trap. You hoped Toriel had brought a change of clothes. In fact, where were they? Did they even know you were gone yet?

“How long have I been here?” You ask frantically. You really didn’t want to worry the King and Queen.

“probably around three hours or so… why?”

“My parents are going to kill me!” You half-groan. Almost as if on cue, you hear a hard knock on the door, and you scramble to a window next to the couch. Sure enough, all three Dreemurrs are gathered outside the door. It almost warms your heart.

Sans walks over to the door and opens it, acting moderately surprised.

“hey, wasn’t expecting you guys. i’ve got something of yours,” he gestures with his thumb towards you, and you flinch back into the couch. You were in so much trouble.

“Chara!” The whole family cries out in unison, sounding relieved. They rush over to where you are on the couch and you swing your legs onto the floor and sit up, wincing at the pain it causes your head, but are almost immediately knocked back down by a large fluffy mass that catapults itself onto you.

“Chara!” Asriel cries, literally. Tears are streaming down his face and wetting your shirt. At least this water was warm. “I’m so sorry! I turned back around and I looked for you but I couldn’t find you.” He wails into your shirt. “Where were you?” You push him off you gently.

“Oh, funny story,” you laugh nervously, “I kinda ran into the forest to hide. Then I got lost. I climbed a tree… and fell. I probably would have died if Sans hadn't have saved me.”

You see Toriel’s head whip around.

“Is it true? Did you save Chara?” She looks about ready to tackle the poor skeleton in a hug herself.

“yeah.” He is putting up a nonchalant exterior, but you can tell that he just wants to leave the room.

“Mom?” You call. Toriel turns back to you. “Do you have a spare change of clothes? Turns out this shirt isn’t so great for cold weather,” you tell her sheepishly.

She gasps, then looks closely at the fabric, slapping her forehead.

“Of course, my child. Oh, how did I not realize that the fabric was silk? I am very sorry. Here, I brought the t-shirt I bought you and the sweater you chose to match Asriel.”

You take the clothes gratefully and ask where the bathroom is. They direct you to a hall upstairs, all the way down the hallway, and you rush in to change.

By the time you’re done, you feel like a new person. You’re warm, and don’t feel nearly as woozy as before. The healing magic surely did its job. You would have to thank Papyrus. In fact, you wanted to do it right now.

You slowly opened a door at the top of the stairs where you could hear Papyrus’s (admittedly loud) voice as he played with his toys. You could hear the plastic clashing together, and he was making pew-pew noises. You grin a little, and wonder how many of the toys fell from the Surface.

You step into the room, footsteps muffled by the plush carpet.

“Hey, Papyrus,” you say gently.

“HI, HUMAN CHARA! I AM GLAD YOU ARE ALRIGHT!” He looks truly excited and pleased to see you up and about. It is certainly endearing to you.

“I just wanted to say thanks, for healing me.” You smile. “I probably would have gotten very hurt or even died if you hadn’t.”

“OF COURSE, HUMAN CHARA.” He looks back at his toys and continues smashing them together. He doesn’t seem like he has a long attention span. He soon drops them to ask a question.

“WHY WOULD YOU HAVE DIED? YOU DIDN'T SEEM HURT?” He must have never been around someone susceptible to the cold before.

“Well, I can’t be in the cold for long. My clothes were wet, so I could’ve gotten very sick. I think I may have had hypothermia, but you fixed that up real nicely.” You give him a thumbs-up, trying hard not to talk to him in a baby voice. After all, the sign on his wall proudly proclaimed that he was “Eleven Years Old and Proud”, and you would have been insulted at that age if you were spoken to like that. It was hard. He acted so much younger.

“OH. WELL I AM GLAD I HELPED YOU THEN.” He pauses, then runs towards you and tackles you in a hug. You give a small yelp as you crash to the floor, but hug him back. For some reason, this hug doesn’t trigger your ‘no touching’ reaction, so you enjoy the much needed physical contact for as long as he provides it.

You let go shortly before you feel like it would be awkward, and turn to leave. You are glad you met Papyrus. He was really sweet!

“Bye, Papyrus.”

“GOODBYE, HUMAN CHARA.” You close the door behind you and turn to step back downstairs but startle when you see Sans standing directly behind you. He is eyeing you, and you can’t help but feel like he is judging you intently. At least it feels like he approves of what he sees you doing.

“thanks for thanking my bro. you have no idea how much it means to him. it was nice to meet you.” He sounds genuinely appreciative. He holds out a hand. “put ‘er there.”

You hesitantly grab his hand, despite your ‘no touching’ reaction coming back full force, and are mildly surprised at the rather loud farting sound it produces. You give him a puzzled look as he breaks out in laughter, and you think you actually see some tears in his eyes as he laughs hysterically. He wipes them away before quipping,

“the old whoopie cushion in the hand trick. it’s always funny.”

You weren’t sure how true that was, but nevertheless you bid him goodbye and join your family by the door.

“Thanks Sans!” You call as you leave, and you see him waving as your family closes the door behind you.

You hadn’t realized how nice their family was. You wondered where Doctor Gaster was, though. He was their dad, right? That was a mystery for another day, you guess. For now, it was on to the Ruins.

Chapter Text

The Ruins were just as quiet as when you fell. It was nearly empty, as most monsters had moved out to the areas outside the big doors, aside from some lower-intelligence types. You weren’t quite sure how much a moldsmall could think, if it could think at all. Also, who named that thing? It’s literally a small piece of mold. Whoever did was really bad at naming things.

It wasn’t until now that you realized that the house in the Ruins was an exact copy of the one in New Home. Interesting. After you and the Dreemurrs reached the end of the cavern, you would come back to the small house and sleep there for the night, before going back to the castle.

Asriel wanted to play tag. After a stern warning from Asgore not to get lost again, he lets you two go play. The Ruins didn’t have a large forest to get lost in, at least.

“Catch me if you can!” Asriel shouted, taunting you. You run at full sprint towards him, knocking him over. You both burst out laughing, and you hold your stomach as you do. You get up without a second to spare and start running.

Asriel chases after you, But after you come across the large spike bed puzzle you had seen on the way through the Ruins after you fell, you stop. He quickly catches up to you, chest heaving as he tries to catch his breath. He pokes you in the side.

“Tag.” He isn’t running away, so you think the game is over. Good, your sweater was starting to become uncomfortably hot, due to your vigorous activity, so you pull it up over your head, exposing your striped t-shirt.

[How do we get across this?] You sign, having forgotten the path to get across safely. Asriel has to pause a second to consider your signs, though he has been improving a lot lately, then replies,

“Oh! It’s a pattern, follow me,” He starts walking across, and you stick closely behind him. Soon, you are both across. You realize you are nearly at the place where you fell. You look over to Asriel, who seems lost in thought. You nudge him gently, which causes him to jerk and look up at you.

[What is wrong?] You sign jerkily. You probably somehow made him sad.

That snaps him out of his revery. [Nothing! Nothing is wrong.] He laughs.

“Asriel…” you say softly.

“No, honestly, nothing is wrong. The opposite, actually. Um…” He doesn’t seem to want to spill, so you decide to bug him about it.

“C’mon, Azzy,” you start, but then immediately cut yourself off. You can feel your face heat up. Azzy? Were you insane? You just called him Azzy. You want your sweater back so you can pull it up to your face and never come back out. You instinctively reach to pull your sleeves over your hands before realizing that you're wearing a tshirt and that it would look very strange. Now you had none of your coping mechanisms. Great.

You look over hesitantly and almost jump back at the look on his face. His expression looks simultaneously incredulous at the babyish name and also delighted that you are familiar enough to have a pet name for him. His eyes are wide, and you can see the excitement radiating off of him.

“Azzy?” He asks excitedly, and you want to shrink in on yourself. Maybe you could shrivel up and die, right here, right now. That would be nice.

“LEAVEMEALONEPLEASEDON’TTEASEMEIWILLNEVERSAYITAGAINIPROMISE.” The words come out all in one burst and you wonder if he even understood what you were saying. You want to run away, but he’d catch you fairly quickly. You take a deep breath and steel yourself. “Just… tell me.”

“Okay! Well, I was thinking about how the last time I was here, I was an only ‘kid’,” he snickers a little at his pun, but continues with, “but then you fell! And it’s been a while, but it feels like my whole life has changed since then.”

Okay, that was adorable. Somehow, your face heats up even more and you stuff your hands into your shorts pockets, which you had changed into back at the Ruins house.

“C-cool,” you stutter out pathetically. You didn’t think you were worthy of his appreciation, but you accepted it. You both walk in silence until you reach the end of the cavern.

You walk into the spacious room. It’s colder than the rest of the area, and you can see straight up the hole where you fell, until some kind of glowing gray sheet stops your view, stretching across the opening.

“What’s that?” You point up at the obstruction.

“That’s the Barrier, duh.” He rolls his eyes.

“Well, how did I get through that?” You are genuinely dumbfounded.

“Anything can get through, but nothing can exit,” he informs you solemnly. Wow. That was intense. He moves over to give you a hug, and though you didn’t particularly want to be touched, you allowed him.

You move to the center of the room. It’s a dirt floor, and you can’t help but feel that it might look better with some of those golden flowers from the surface. It’s a little too empty right now.

This is where you fell. This is where your life changed forever. You remember how you made Asriel cry after you fell, and cringe internally. You had tried to make him afraid of you, but judging from the way he was clinging to you like a koala to its mother, you had failed miserably.

Alright, now he was squishing you. “Asriel, can you-“ you croak out, But he jumps off you, muttering,

“Sorry!” He said with a sheepish grin.

“It’s alright…” you assure him. You give him a pat on the head for good measure and are about to ask him if this would be a good spot to plant flowers when Toriel and Asgore enter.

“Oh! You made it here before us!” Asgore looks fairly cheerful, and his exclamation brings an eager smile to his wife’s face as well.

“I have food, we shall eat here,” Toriel grins, holding a picnic basket at her side. That must be where she kept your clothes. You hope your wet clothing didn’t harm any of the food.

You move to sit down before she stops you and lays out a blanket.

“So you won’t get dirty,” she explains. You look up at where you fell from again. With nothing to break your fall, how did you survive? Must be magic.

As you watch, she carefully extracts a multitude of vegetables, fruits, sandwiches, and even a butterscotch-cinnamon pie. Jeez, even when this family is on a picnic they overdo the food. At least they don’t waste anything- you will be eating leftovers from this picnic for a week.

The food is amazing as always, and as you eat, you think about what Asriel had said earlier, about his life changing permanently. You find yourself agreeing full-heartedly, and see that the thought manages to bring a smile to your face.

As soon as the picnic is done, they pack up and move to head out again. It seems that the Dreemurrs waste no time. You had wanted to stay a little longer, but you make no fuss and just begin walking back with them. At least you wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to New Home, you would get to stay in Home for the night.

All in all, the night goes around the same as always. You realize with a start that it’s been months since you’ve seen the sun, but that you somehow don’t miss it. You found yourself just wanting to stay down here, with your new family. With your luck, it won’t last. You never get anything you want. With your luck, you’d be killed in a wimpy way, like by a flower or something. You laugh at that. There’s no way a flower could kill you.

So as you lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the soft breathing of your new brother sharing the bed with you, you think you might finally be feeling something akin to happiness, for as long as life will let you have it.

Chapter Text

“Chara! Wake up!” You feel your brother shake you gently. “It’s time!”

You crack open your eyes a millimeter to see the excitable goat monster jumping up and down and grinning at you. You sit up, rubbing your eyes.

“Time,” you pause, yawning wide, then continue, “for what?” He looks at you unbelievably.

“Your birthday party, of course!” Now he’s jumping again.

“Oh… yeah,” you smile. You had forgotten that Mom had promised you a birthday party around now. They must have organized it without telling you. You wondered if it was just a family party, or if others were coming. You didn’t really know anyone other than Asriel, and maybe Undyne, but you had heard that some parents invite random people to their kid’s birthday parties. You hoped that that wasn’t the case.

You reluctantly pull open the warm sheets and step onto the wooden floor, stretching and popping your back. Asriel cringes.

“How do you do that?” He asks, wincing noticeably. You shrug your shoulders.

In a few minutes you are dressed in the green and yellow sweater you have to match Asriel’s and he is wearing his own. The only real differences between the two is that Asriel’s has thin stripes covering the whole sweater, and a turtleneck, while yours has no turtleneck and just one thick stripe. One stripe is far superior to any other number of stripes.

You plod into the living room to be greeted with a cacophony of noise. People are crowding you from all directions, talking to you, blowing those party horns in your face, blaring music. You want to cover your ears. You want to pull your sleeves over your hands. You want to run out of the room.

With all the noise, you can hardly tell who is around you. You see fur… bones… scales? You blindly acknowledge their presence and they back off. After the noise has died down you see that of course, your family is there, as well as Doctor Gaster, who is standing in the corner with Sans. Papyrus is here too, to your delight. If he had cheeks, you would squish them, he was so adorable! Alphys was here too, for some reason, as was Undyne, as predicted, though she seemed to be buddies with Papyrus. When the noise quieted down, (of which she was the main perpetrator) she slunk off to go hang out with Papyrus.

“Happy Birthday, Chara!” Toriel beams, standing in front of you. You feel something tighten in your chest. Despite the noise and the crowding, this was incredibly sweet. You hadn’t even known that it was happening today. You let your sleeves drift back up your arms and give your mom a hug. Despite your best efforts, you can feel tears seeping into her robe.

“Thanks, Mom.” At least the crying is silent. You discreetly wipe your face and grin up at her. “I’ve never had a birthday before.”

“Never?” She looks a little sad, but forces a smile. “Well, then this’ll have to make up for fourteen missed opportunities,” she joked, tweaking your nose. You playfully bat her paw away.

“What about me?” Your father booms. You nod at him and give him a hug as well, not quite reaching far above his hip, but he sweeps you up and gives you a proper hug, then sets you down gently.

You run over to Asriel, who seems to be unsuccessfully attempting to play with Undyne and Papyrus. It looks like they are letting him win every game, and you frown. Must be one of the only downsides to being the prince.

Maybe if you join, they’ll play fair? Or maybe it’ll get worse, seeing as you are the princess…

You decide to join in, if only temporarily.

 

A couple hours later, you are completely worn out. You learn two things. First, it seems that adding a second member of royalty into the play made it impossible to let anyone win, as it would entail choosing one person over another, so it turned the play section into actual fun.

Second, Undyne is way too competitive. Asriel seemed to be correct in the fact that she isn’t always the way she was when she met you, jumping around and all that. She was just incredibly competitive, instead. At least she was a good loser, when and if she lost, which rarely happened.

Papyrus was adorable as always, if a little immature for his age. He acted like he was around six or seven, rather than the eleven year old that he actually was. Oh well. He took an immediate liking to you after you agreed with his statement that he was “the Great Papyrus”, and followed you around everywhere.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUMAN CHARA!” He told you for the fifth time, clinging onto your leg even though he was almost taller than you when he stood up.

“Thank you?” It was starting to become a little aggravating at this point.

“OF COURSE HUMAN CHARA.” He is nearly screaming, so you gently pick him up from where he is sitting on your foot, and pat him in the head.

“You can stop now.” You inform him, and he flushes orange with embarrassment.

“YES, OKAY HUMAN CHARA.”

“It’s just Chara.” He pauses for a second, considering this.

“YES, OKAY JUST CHARA.” He looks like he thinks he got it correct.

“Nonono, just say ‘Chara’.”

“CHARA? OKAY. CHARA.”

Satisfied you turn towards your adopted sibling, who is beckoning you in his direction.

[Where to?] You sign. Papyrus notices, and to your surprise, begins signing as well.

[YES, WHERE TO?] He signs very wildly, giving off the sign language equivalent of yelling everything you say.

[You can sign?] You turn towards the skeleton, surprised.

[YES! SANS TEACHES ME ON WEEKENDS. DAD DOES TOO SOMETIMES.] That made sense. Seemed the only person in your friend circle who didn’t know was Undyne. Maybe you could give her some lessons. Not right now. She seemed pretty caught up in conversation with Asgore.

“We’re going to the garden! The flowers are mature, so I was hoping we could make flower crowns!”

Papyrus’s face lights up, and it looks as if he has an idea. He sprints over to the corner Sans is in, standing alone, quite awkwardly. He grabs Sans by the hoodie sleeve and drags him over.

“MY BROTHER WOULD LIKE A CROWN AS WELL.”

“bro, i never said-“

“MY BROTHER. WOULD LIKE. A CROWN. TOO.” He emphasizes the last word heavily. It’s kinda sweet.

So you all head to the garden to get flower crowns. On the way, you have to pass through the golden hall. This time, you observe the others to see if they look as uncomfortable as you. Papyrus and Asriel look fine. Sans, however looks ever so slightly put off by the room. You wonder why it seems like the room only affects you two. It makes you want to curl up on yourself, but also to run away at the same time.

Sans looks like a trapped animal. Forcing himself to keep trudging on. The room once again gives off the feeling that something bad is meant to happen here. You were probably just imagining it, but it seemed like Sans was affected too...

Then again, this could just all be in your head. That must be it.

You enter the throne room with a barely audible sigh of relief. All the different types of flowers are there, waiting. You can’t help but feel like the room would be even more beautiful with some of the golden flowers from the Surface, but sadly, none seemed to be present. You’d have to make due with your buttercups.

You all sit down in the garden and begin to choose your flowers. You decide to just use buttercups, and Asriel’s crown is a combination of the same flower as well as his sunflowers. Papyrus likes the crocuses and asters, and makes his crown out of them. After Sans hesitates to choose even one type, Papyrus begins the suggestions.

“WHAT ABOUT THESE?” He gestures to some bright orange flowers. Sans shakes his head.

“THESE?” Now he’s pointing to green flowers. Another shake of the head.

“THESE?” He’s showing Sans some small, blue flowers. You think they’re forget-me-nots. He sighs and nods his head. You think he gave up.

The creation of the crowns is methodical but calming. Your fingers deftly knot the flowers together, and by the end, you have a buttercup flower crown, which you place on your head proudly. You’d have to wash your hair later, but the crown is beautiful.

Papyrus, of course, looks absolutely adorable with the pink and purple flowers decorating his skull. Crocuses and asters… a combination you never would have thought of.

Asriel looks like a true prince in his crown. You hadn’t understood why your parents had put buttercups in your hair when they introduced you to the public, but you did now. It gave off a sense of regality, like he was someone to be respected.

Perhaps later in life, you will have royal duties. Perhaps you will live far from your family as an adult. Perhaps you will die long before then. But for now, you enjoy the warm (yet fake) sunlight pouring in from the windows, and enjoy your birthday with your friends.

Chapter Text

The rest of your day was just as amazing. It turns out that they had had several presents for you. Asriel gave you your assorted chocolates, as promised. You had found the milk chocolate to be your favorite, though the others weren’t bad. While the white chocolate wasn’t technically chocolate, it still tasted pretty good. The dark chocolate was a little bitter, but you found it good as well.

Sans gave you a block of cheddar cheese for some reason. You had had no idea why until he opened his mouth and began his endless cycle of hilarity.

“i’m sorry if this is a little cheesey, but you cheddar believe that i swissh you to have a nice birthday. i see that you’re aged and i hope that you think it’s grate. that’s all for now and have a gouda day.”

By the end, you are broken up into hysterics, as is Toriel. You can see that Sans is barely holding onto his calm demeanor, but as soon as you make eye contact, he busts out into laughter, holding his not-stomach.

Papyrus, Undyne, and Asriel, in contrast, look so unamused that they could compete with your old mother in a not-being-amused contest.

“SANS!” The volume of Papyrus’s scream could probably shatter windows. In fact, you think you hear them humming with vibration at the frequency of his voice. “DO NOT PESTER THE HUMAN WITH YOUR TERRIBLE PUNS ON HER BIRTHDAY! I KNOW YOU HAVE WORKED HARD TO KEEP THEM UNDER WRAPS BUT THIS IS GOING TOO FAR!” It’s hard to take him seriously with his squeaky voice. Maybe he’ll be more effective as he grows up.

By the sound of it, Sans has been trying to hide his puns around you, probably under Papyrus’s rule. You are glad he finally stopped. You had had no idea that he could unleash a storm of puns like that.

“I honestly don’t know what to say,” you laugh, wiping tears of laughter from your eyes and trying not to drop the enormous block of cheese he gave you. “How long did it take you to memorize that?”

He smirks as he responds, “none. i come up with my material on the spot. it takes a skeleton of work to get good enough to do that.”

You snicker a little at the pun, but thank Sans for the gift, hoisting the block of cheddar onto your hip. It’ll take you years to eat all of this. Well, unless you gave it to Asgore. Cheesy food was his weakness…

“Mom, could you-” She grabs the cheese before you can finish and walks into the kitchen to put it in storage.

“Thanks…” you call out after her. You look at Sans with a ridiculous look on your face. “All that for puns?” You had never heard him tell puns before, but you could tell that it was his calling.

“what can i say? i’m just too punny to pass up the oppuntunity.” Jesus Christ.

After that was said and done, your parents informed you that they also had gifts. Toriel gave you hers first.

“It’s a camera!” She grins. “It’s fairly old, but it is still in good shape! We’ve had this since before Asriel was born.” Wow. You take the old camera gratefully.

“Wow. Thanks, Mom!” Your mouth is agape. You didn’t deserve this, this carrier of memories. You had known them for barely two months, you hadn’t earned this sentimental gift.

You give her a hug, but Asgore draws your attention next. His hands hiding something behind his back, he looks down at you earnestly. When he has your full attention, he slowly withdraws his present from behind him. You gasp in shock, and feel the suggestion of tears in the corners of your eyes, but you push them down.

Sitting in his hands, was a potted golden flower. The golden flower. Well, most likely not the same one, but the same type.

“How- how did you?” You hadn’t thought that these grew Underground. He gives you a warm smile, and you can feel the joy radiating off of him.

“I found it growing in a patch in the Waterfall dump. Most probably, a seed fell from the Surface, and took root. I uprooted this one! Is it the right kind?”

You nod your head furiously, barely holding back the tears that threaten to spill over onto your cheeks. You take the pot from his hands, quickly. This flower had been how you had survived on the Surface. It was a little ridiculous, but it was always there for you, even when the smoke filled the house and the bruises covered your body.

“Thank you! Oh, thank you!” You probably sounded a little ridiculous, but clutching a pot and an old camera made you the happiest you had ever been. “Thank you both!” You hug them both the best you can, considering the fact that your arms are full, and scurry off to put them in your room, the golden flower sharing space with your buttercups under the heating lamp.

Asriel follows you in. “The party’s over, everyone is going home. Do y’wanna record a video on your new camera?”

You give him an evil grin. “Sure.” Your lips are curled back and your eyes are wide.

He visibly flinches back. “Jeez! That’s a scary face! Okay, that’s perfect!” You roll your eyes. Leave it to Asriel to find a face scary. He fiddles with the buttons on the camera, attempting to figure out how the ancient thing functioned. Finally, he figures it out, and holds it up towards your face.

“Okay, Chara, are you ready?” You nod eagerly. “Do your creepy face!” You give him the best slasher smile you can, curling back your lips in the same manner as before and widening your eyes. You overdo it, emphasizing it more than last time, since you will be on camera. Normally you hated being on camera, but this was fun!

Asriel jumps back and screams theatrically. You double over laughing, and he eventually joins you as well. Your laughter dies off after around half a minute of uproar, but then he suddenly develops a worried expression.

He turns the camera around the face him, squinting at the lense. What was wrong with the lense?

“Oh! Wait!” He looks slightly upset. “I had the lense cap on…” he offers it back, but you shake your head. You didn’t do repeat performances. “What!? You’re not gonna do it again…?” You shake your head resolutely. “Come on, quit tricking me!” He gives one last giggle before shutting the camera off.

“Well, at least we tried, Chara. We’ll do better next time.” You nod your head in agreement. You hope he warns you before he turns the camera on again. You didn’t like getting your picture taken or being in videos at the best of times.

He looks at you again with a grin on his face. “It’s still your birthday… wanna go see that cake Mom made?” He runs out of the room and you nod eagerly and run after him.

Oh hell yes. The cake is chocolate. Specifically, double fudge cake with a chocolate frosting and little yellow buttercream designs in the pattern of buttercups. You can hardly breathe. They did all this for you? You really don’t deserve any of this… the love, the attention, the gifts. It’s all too much, yet perfect at the same time.

For probably the thousandth time that day, you feel tears threatening to emerge from your eyes. You hold them back. It wouldn’t do well to cry with the present company. For one, he would start crying if you cried. For the second, it would be kinda hypocritical. You always told him not to cry, it wouldn’t be good for you to disobey your own advice.

[So, how do you like it?] He already has a mouthful of cake, and is signing instead of speaking. You also take a mouthful and raise your hands.

[It’s perfect.]

Chapter Text

Life continued on, as it does. Months pass, and you are happy. Asriel slips quickly from “friend” to “brother” to “best friend”. You wish your family could see the Surface. None of the monsters deserved this. If anything, it was humans that did.

It made you angry, sometimes, filled you with such rage you could barely think, barely feel. And in those moments, Asriel was there to help you. You would return and you two would go back to your normal lives.

Now it was Dad’s birthday. You had a small box all wrapped up in red ribbon, ready to hand to him the second he woke up. However, you and Asriel had another surprise you wanted to have ready by the time the King opened his eyes.

 

 

“Asriel, it says one cup of milk, not two.” You roll your eyes, reading from a recipe book.

“Oh! Sorry!” He quickly dumps the other cup back into the jug. “I’m just so excited! I bet he’s gonna be so surprised!”

“Well, duh, dingus. Who would expect two children to bake a pie completely unsupervised?” The fact that you were unsupervised made you a little uneasy, but you had assured Asriel that both of you could handle it.

You kick your legs, which are hanging off the counter you’re sitting on. “I just can’t believe that he’s four hundred eighty three! How can someone live that long?”

Asriel laughs. “He’s a boss monster, Chara. He’s immortal as long as he doesn’t have kids. When I was born, he started aging.”

“So he’s really old but really young at the same time?”

“Kinda, I guess?” He’s giggling as he stirs the filling. He has some on his nose.

You hop down from the counter and wipe the filling off with a towel. “Careful there, goat boy. Don’t get more filling on your face than you have in the bowl!”

“Awww, c’mon, Chara, give me some slack. It wasn’t that much…” He puts on a fake downtrodden face., and you playfully punch his arm.

“Azzy, you know better than to try that face on me! Now get to stirring!” You turn back to the book to read the next ingredient. “It says three buttercups… Huh. I didn’t know that was a pie ingredient.”

“Does it? Dad uses some in his tea, so it isn’t that much of a stretch, I guess. Well, we can go to the garden and pick some… I don’t want to ruin the one you have in your room,” he offers.

“Sure!” You reply, then both of you walk out of the house as quietly as you can, closing the door softly so the hinges don’t squeak. You don’t want to wake up your parents.

 

New Home is quiet at night. While it’s no darker than usual, a symptom of being underground, no one is roaming the halls, which are usually packed with people. It’s silent, and slightly eery. Your footsteps echo down the corridors.

You enter the golden room full of paranoia. The silence of New Home only served to exacerbate your feeling that something was watching you, just behind your back. The golden room is just as bright as before, only serving to prove that the light spilling in through the windows wasn’t really sunlight, but something stranger.

The room somehow feels more foreboding this time, like a warning. Turn back. Turn back.

You don’t turn back.

You scamper out of the hall in record time, half-jogging to the throne room. The buttercups are flourishing.

“So we just take three?” Asriel seems doubtful, for good reason. The blossoms are fairly small, you would think that just three wouldn’t be enough, but that’s what the recipe called for.

“That’s what the recipe said…” you reply. It’s a little sad to pluck your buttercups, they looked very healthy. At least it was only three. You whisper apologies to the flowers as you pluck them from their stems.

“Alright, let’s go back.” You stash the buttercups in your pocket and head out the door to the dreaded golden hall.

 

You sprinkle the buttercups evenly in the filling when you get back, careful not to crush the petals. It seems a little strange that a pie recipe would call for flowers, but you shrug it off. It was a monster recipe, those must be different than a human recipe.

“I think that’s it.” You finish. “Now to bake it. We should have enough time before he wakes up.” Asriel smiles, placing the pie in the oven. He didn’t have full control of his magic yet, so couldn’t instantaneously cook food like Mom could.

Half an hour passes, and the pie begins to smell good. You faintly detect a small smell that you hadn’t noticed from Mom’s pies before, but you must not have noticed it before. It smells faintly like chemicals, but it must just be preservatives from the canned butterscotch you’d put in… right?

 

The oven dings. You pray the loud noise didn’t wake your parents, but you and Asriel rush to the oven with mitts to pull it out. It smells good, just like it’s supposed to. Good. You had never been around Mom during the baking process before, you probably had just never noticed the smell before.

You hear loud footsteps in the hallway, and scramble to hide the cooling pie in the fridge. You dash to pick up your present from the couch and present it to your father.

“Oh!” He chuckles. “A gift? For me?” He puts on an air of having no idea why you would be presenting him with a gift, but takes it anyway.

He sits down on the overly large couch, and begins fiddling with the tied bow. After around five minutes of fumbling with the small bow, unable to untie it with his large paws, he finally gets a handhold and unties it.

He pulls the ribbon gently, tugging it open. After the ribbon is discarded on the ground like the trash it is, he opens the box, gasping at the sight of its contents. You had worked on it for months, since you had first learned to knit. A salmon colored sweater, with green text stitched on it, saying “Mr. Dad Guy”. You had come up with the phrase after accidentally calling him that when talking to Asriel. He had burst out into laughter, and you had been humiliated. It made for perfect sweater material.

He actually looks like he might cry. Oh, the big dope. You lean over and give him a hug, reluctantly. Despite your affection to your family, you still aren’t too keen on hugging. He returns the hug gratefully, and closes the box after withdrawing the sweater, slipping it on carefully over his horns to avoid ripping it.

He admires the sweater as he stands up. “Wow, this looks like you put a lot of effort into this!” He musses your hair. Why does everyone keep doing that? You straighten it back down. “Thank you, Chara!”

[You’re welcome.] You are beginning to feel awkward. Next person, please. Asriel steps up to replace you, and hands him a paper. It appears to have a macaroni flower on it. A lot less effort, but just as sentimental.

He thanks Asriel as well and the two of you give each other a look before sneaking out into the kitchen. The pie is cooled, and you grab it to take it out.

“We made this!” You hold it up proudly. Toriel looks slightly upset, but masks it to give way to Asgore’s reaction.

“You made that? Without us finding out? I’m impressed. And it smells great!” You give a sigh of relief that he isn’t angry. You have a feeling that Mom will have some words with you later, though.

He has the pie with dinner, sliced up into neat servings. You and Asriel refuse to have any, saying it was Asgore’s birthday present, and Toriel also abstains in solidarity. You can just barely see a little yellow petal peeking out from his slice and wonder why you never noticed flowers in your pie before.

 

He gets sick the next day.

Chapter Text

Asgore was sick, and the kingdom was in disarray. He was bedridden, barely conscious at most times and delirious anytime else. Toriel spent almost every day sitting by his side, coaxing him to eat. You were surprised at the lack of dirty looks being sent your way, though you felt like you deserved it. Of course you deserved it.

Asriel was crying again.

You sit by his side on the bed and give him a comforting hug. “C’mon, don’t cry!” A little hypocritical of you to say that, you had barely held back tears this whole time. They must think you to be heartless. “Big kids don’t cry. You’re a big kid, right?”

He nods through his tears. “C-Chara?”

“Yes?”

“D-do y-y-you-”

[Do you want to sign?] You move your hands fluidly, giving Asriel an understanding look.

[Yes.] He nods, before continuing, [Do you think it was the flowers?] He pauses. [I never noticed flowers in Mom’s pie before.]

You nod frantically. [I hadn’t either.] Stars, you felt so bad. You get an idea. You want to know what ingredient was supposed to be in the pie instead, so you rush to the kitchen to get the book.

You fling yourself back onto the bed with the recipe book, skimming through the pages until you find the pie. You smile faintly knowing it was Toriel who wrote the book. You wonder if anyone else in the Underground has a copy.

You find the recipe, and groan in dismay. Setting the book down to free your hands, you sign reluctantly. [It was three cups of butter, not buttercups.] Now you really want to cry. It was all your fault. You couldn’t do anything right. You were such a screw up, you should go throw yourself down a deeper hole, all you do is hurt his family and you should go die, and-

You feel warm arms encircling you and wet tears on your sweater. As you are snapped back to reality you realize your chest is heaving with your increased breath and your throat feels like it’s closed up. Your hands and face are tingly, like they fell asleep, but the feeling won’t go away. What the hell was wrong with you? You frantically start rubbing at your hands, mindlessly trying to push the feeling of pins and needles off of you. You start crying, frustrated by your inability to remove the feeling. Why was he hugging you? You were worthless. You were worse than worthless, you were… you were…

Ha… ha… ha…,” you are forcing yourself to smile through your tears. You know you shouldn’t be laughing right now, but once you start, you can’t stop. You double over laughing, but the tears are still streaming down your face. You can’t imagine how you look to him right now.

“C-Chara?” Asriel seems slightly afraid. “W-why are you laughing?”

“I don’t-” Another burst of laughter overtakes you. “I don’t know. I just-” You can’t stop laughing.

You can’t stop laughing.

You can’t stop crying.

You can’t

You just can’t

You

.

 

——————

 

Five days later, the King wakes from his fever. You were struck with laughter whenever someone mentioned your involvement in his illness, and it scared you. Weird coping mechanism, you supposed.

“Asriel, how did he get so sick from just three flowers? I mean, Mom told us yesterday that they were poisonous, but in large amounts, right? Just three, spread out over a whole pie shouldn’t have done anything, right?” You are already giggling nervously, though you try to suppress it. You must sound like you don’t care about what you did, like you are laughing at his misery. You feel like crying again, but you don’t cry, big kids don’t cry.

Asriel fidgets with his hands for a second before responding. “I think… I think it had something to do with the unexpectedness of the ordeal. Monster bodies process food immediately, turn it into energy like that,” he snaps his fingers, “so maybe, having a bunch of flowers interrupt that process, and poisonous flowers, at that…”

“He got sick,” you finish, bluntly. Asriel nods miserably. More giggling. You need to stop the laughter. So far, you’ve been able to keep it so that only Asriel is around when you laugh, but someday Mom or Dad could mention it, and you’d laugh, and they’d think you were a freak and-

“Chara.” Asriel’s voice is firm, distracting your thoughts. “Stop.” His voice is pleading now. Man, he’s gonna cry again. You wonder how he knew that you were beating yourself up again. The same way Mom always knew when Dad was doing it, you guess.

You hug your brother.

“Don’t cry, Azzy.” You use the nickname, knowing it will help him calm down. “Big kids don’t cry.” You repeat your mantra to him. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that keeps you together. Maybe it’ll help him, too.

The tears slow until they finally stop, but he’s still clinging to you. Hell, at this point, you’re clinging to him as well.

“Do you think Dad’s gonna be okay?” Your voice sounds weak, even to you.

“Yes.” Asriel sounds faintly determined, or at least like he’s trying to sound that way. Probably the second one.

You smile. “Good.”

 

Two days later, Asgore is back on his feet.

Asriel immediately barrels into him, knocking him right back off of them.

“Dad! You’re okay!” Aaaaand he’s crying. Again. You wonder how he hasn’t dried up yet. Asgore laughs weakly.

“Takes more than a couple flowers to knock me into dust.” That came out darker than was probably intended, but no one else seems to notice.

“I’m so sorry!” He’s sobbing into Dad’s pajamas. You agree with him wholeheartedly, but you always had trouble apologizing, especially when it was over something this big. You would cry, and you can’t cry.

You kneel down next to Asgore and hug him tightly, hoping he understands and accepts your silent apology. Please. You breathe a sigh of relief when he nods into the hug.

All is well.

 

For now, at least.

Chapter Text

“What’s this about?” You ask. A month or two after Asgore got better, you stand in front of a large tree in Snowdin while your parents visit Doctor Gaster. It almost reminds you of a Christmas tree.

“What d’you mean?” Asriel looks stunned. “It’s the Gyftmas tree, duh!”

“Don’t you mean Christmas?” You cock your head to the side slightly. Papyrus, who had been walking with you two, almost looks offended.

“OF COURSE NOT, CHARA! GYFTMAS IS A PROUD TRADITION AMONG THE MONSTERS! I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS ‘CHRISTMAS’ IS, BUT I ASSURE YOU THAT GYFTMAS IS FAR SUPERIOR,” Papyrus nearly screamed. You tried not to wince and cover your ears and responded.

“Oh, well, it’s a human religious holiday w-they celebrate around winter,” you inform them.

“WHAT’S ‘WINTER’?” Papyrus looks serious. Oh boy. He lives in a perpetually winter-y town, why doesn’t he know what winter is?

“It’s a season, on the Surface. It gets really cold and sometimes snowy, like it is here.” You realize that’s probably not enough to explain the concept of a season. “Now that I think about it, all of the areas here are like a season. The Ruins are Fall, Waterfall is Spring, Hotland is Summer…”

“IS SUMMER FULL OF LAVA AND TERRIBLE CONVEYOR PUZZLES?”

“...no.”

“WOWIE! IT SOUNDS GREAT!”

You scratch the back of your head nervously. “Erm… yeah.”

 

 

“Would you like to celebrate Christmas instead of Gyftmas?” Asgore asks you when you bring up the subject the next day.

“No!” You put a stop to that thinking immediately. “I just… wanted to explain some human traditions.”

He scratches his chin thoughtfully. “I have to say, this ‘Santa Claus” sounds very interesting! Maybe we can incorporate him into Gyftmas!”

“Sure? I mean, you don’t have to change your holiday just for me,” you suddenly feel embarrassed.

“Nonsense! If an idea is a good idea, I see no reason not to use it! Santa Claus will be introduced this year and that’s final!” He sounds more playful than firm. You wonder where he’s gonna get a Santa outfit, and how he will even know if it’s accurate. You decide to offer your services, but suddenly, you feel nervous.

[I can… draw a picture of his outfit if you need a reference,] you sign to him.

“That’s a great idea, Chara! I’ll get the supplies!” He looks so excited that he almost seems like a little kid. It’s kind of adorable.

 

You spend the good part of an hour doodling multiple angles of Santa Claus, to the best of your memory. You smirk as you add a couple details that Santa wasn’t supposed to have. Who says Santa can’t have yellow flowers in his hair? Who says he can’t have Christmas lights around his hat? While you have the opportunity to make adjustments, you should take advantage of it.

Asgore looks over your shoulder the whole time, making comments here and there. By the reactionary hums he produces, you aren’t sure that he believes that Santa wears yellow flowers, but you don’t think he’ll question it.

When you are finished and brandish the paper triumphantly in his face, he beams with excitement.

“Are there any other human traditions you would like to share?”

You tap your foot as you consider your traditions. “Hmmm… I mean, we can make flower wreaths and hang them on doors… a gift exchange is typical, but it seems like you already do that… gingerbread men? I don’t know if you’d be able to make those… we go caroling sometimes, but most of our music is religious, and I don’t think you even have that down here…”

“Religious? You mean like the prophecy?” He immediately shuts his mouth, gaining a ‘deer in headlights’ look. It looks like he said something he wasn’t supposed to. And besides that, he doesn’t seem to understand even the most basic of human information. You wonder how Asgore survived so long on the Surface before they were trapped without any knowledge of humans. They must have been pretty separated.

“What prophecy?” You ask curiously. He has genuinely piqued your interest. He seems to realize that he said something he shouldn’t’ve.

“N-nothing! It’s nothing.” Yeah. Real convincing. You decide to let it drop, you’ll pester Asriel about it later. Asgore takes the paper, informing you that he’ll put in an order for the suit as soon as possible, and leaves the room.

 

“Hey, Azzy,” you look up from your flowers, pausing the fingers that were busy threading a wreath for a moment, “what’s the prophecy?”

He gasps theatrically and falls backward. “It’s nothing! What prophecy?” He wipes sweat off his forehead. Man, these goats were comically bad at lying. You playfully bump into his arm.

“You’re such a bad liar, dude. Just tell me,” you plead.

He huffs, sighs, and gives in. “Okay, but I’m not supposed to tell you. The prophecy is about someone who’s supposed to free us all. It’s hard to explain.” He is making a terrible attempt to dodge the conversation. You continue to weave your wreath as you respond.

“I guess I’ll just go ask Mom…” you tease. There’s no way you’d actually ask her. She’s probably be worse than these two goofs.

“Ugh! Fine! ‘The Angel, the one who has seen the Surface. They will return, and the Underground will go empty’. Happy?” He seems quite upset. “We didn’t want to tell you. Mom said it would ‘put unneeded stress’ on you.” He’s crushing his flowers now, with all the frustration. You place a comforting hand on his arm.

“Hey, it’s not like I’m going anywhere, right?” You have no plans to return to the Surface. The humans would probably just kill them all, anyway. Asriel sniffles. He’s crying, again. You pull on a fake smile. “Hey, don’t cry! You crybaby!” You laugh, although you probably shouldn’t. He pulls a paw up to wipe his eyes.

“I’m not crying! I just… got dirt in my eyes!”

“Suuuuure. Well, while you get that ‘dirt’ out of your eye, I’m gonna go back home. I finished my wreath,” you loop a bow around your wreath as you speak, “and I’m gonna be the first to hang it!”

“Nuh uh! It’s gonna be me!” He scrambles to loop his flowers together, creating a knotted mess instead of a wreath. You just raise your eyebrow and exit the room.

The Angel, huh? Seems you have work to do.

Chapter Text

You stir the Gyftmas pie filling under Toriel’s watchful eye. You guess you understand, you nearly killed her husband not long ago. Asriel had politely declined the opportunity to help make the pie, probably afraid to mess up again, but you loved baking too much to give up. Maybe this would demonstrate that you would never make that mistake again. Maybe she’d finally trust you again.

It’s not like you hadn’t noticed her intense gaze the past few weeks. Between nearly freezing to death in Snowdin, and then poisoning Asgore, it would be understandable if she never trusted you to be alone again. And now it seemed that you were never alone in a room. Asriel was always with you, and when you visited your friends in Snowdin, she always managed to get someone to tag alongside you two. She seemed perpetually suspicious, despite her outward forgiveness. You didn’t blame her, after all, you would be far more hostile if you were in her position.

Three cups of butter are carefully added to the filling. You know that you have it correct this time, but you can’t help but shudder slightly.

The pie is in the oven.

The pie is baking.

There’s no chemical smell this time. You should have realized that something was wrong last time, but you had been so sure of yourself. Toriel’s eyes bore into the back of your neck. You gained Asgore’s forgiveness, but Toriel seemed to still desire your redemption.

The pie is finished. You wonder why Toriel didn’t offer her fire magic services to bake the pie.

The pie is cooling in the refrigerator.

Toriel’s frown melts off her face when the pie is placed into the fridge. She walks over to you and ruffles your hair affectionately, finally smiling down at you.

“You did well, my child. I can see that your lesson was learned. As for Asriel,” she pauses, considering his absence. “I think he learned his lesson in his own way.”

You quickly nod your agreement, eager to be in her good graces again. You hadn’t known what family was before you fell, and now that you did, and it had been taken, you had missed it terribly.

She smiles at you again, and pats your head twice. “Run along, now. I think Sans and Papyrus are on their way.”

“Papyrus? And Sans? Why?”

“I suppose I forgot to tell you!” She giggles. “Their father is working late at the laboratory tonight, so they will not have any family to celebrate Gyftmas with. I offered an invitation!” She seems mildly excited. You hope your pie is good, now that you know that it isn’t just family eating it. You know for a fact that there are no flowers, but the traumatic memories give you anxiety towards it anyway.

Knock, knock.

You run to the front door and peer through the window, although you are already fairly certain of who is there. You unlock the latch and swing open the large door.

“Uh, hi,” you lazily drawl, not sure what you are supposed to say.

“i’m pretty sure that proper protocol is to say ‘who’s there’,” the short skeleton behind the door quips, somehow winking. How these skeletons produced facial expressions was beyond you.

“SANS! I HEAR ENOUGH OF THIS AT HOME WITHOUT YOU PESTERING THE HU-CHARA WITH THIS! MUST YOU DO THIS WHENEVER YOU VISIT SOMEONE?” Papyrus seems slightly enraged at Sans’ audacity to crack a joke.

“i dunno, i think she adoored that one,” he responds, now pointing finger guns like a cliche.

“SANS!”

“what? you can’t handle my jokes?” At this, Papyrus storms inside the house and immediately heads for the bedroom with all your toys. It seems he couldn’t handle the jokes, after all.

Sans turns towards you, still pointing those infernal finger guns. He’s so short that it’s actually hilarious.

“i hope our friendship doesn’t hinge on my ability to stay pun-free, because punless i’m allowed to do this, i won’t stick around long.”

You simply huff and turn to follow Papyrus into the bedroom, trying to hold back laughter. You wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

 

“What’cha doin’ in here?” You ask as you walk into the bedroom.

“ASRIEL IS SHOWING ME A PUZZLE HE MADE!” Papyrus eagerly responds, looking at Asriel’s paper jigsaw puzzle. He had painstakingly cut out pieces from a nondescript piece of paper a week or so ago, to give to Dad as an apology for nearly killing him. Somehow, it had worked, but he had refused to keep it, stating that for all the hard work he put into it, Asriel should keep the puzzle. It was pretty, though you had had to convince him to stay away from the golden-flower pattern he had originally wanted to draw on it. That probably would not have been taken well, considering the reason why Dad was sick in the first place.

Papyrus is doing fairly well on the puzzle, unsurprisingly. He seemed to really love them. You kneel down next to him to help him sort the pieces. He looks at you inquisitively.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” You pause your hands for a second, trying to collect your thoughts into a reasonable explanation.

“I’m… sorting them. Edge pieces go here,” you point to a small pile of pieces, “corner pieces here,” you gesture to another small pile, “and all others go here! Then we can sort by color, if you want.”

“BUT… WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?”

“I- hmm. Well, it provides organization so you can find pieces you need quicker!”

“Also,” Asriel interrupts, “it’s way more fun that way!” He smirks slightly, but you don’t hold it against him.

You keep sorting the pieces while Papyrus and Asriel put the puzzle together. He actually made a fairly decent and complicated puzzle. There are probably a couple hundred pieces. He spent a long time on this thing.

Sans comes in after around fifteen or so minutes.

“just sayin hi to the king and queen. would be a royal shame if i didn’t.”

Papyrus screeches. “IS NO WHERE SAFE FROM YOUR TERRIBLE PUNS?” He covers the sides of the puzzle for some reason. “NOT IN FRONT OF THE PUZZLE!” You realize he was trying to do the equivalent of covering its ears and burst out laughing.

It turns out that your laughter is contagious and soon the entire room is laughing.

“so papyrus does have a sense of humor,” Sans chokes out amid the laughter, doubled over.

“I HAVE ALWAYS HAD AN EXCELLENT SENSE OF HUMOR, BROTHER! I SIMPLY DO NOT ENJOY YOUR TERRIBLE PUNS! AND, BESIDES, IT WAS CHARA’S PRETTY LAUGH THAT INSTIGATED MY OWN LAUGHTER!” He shouts obstinately. He thinks your laugh is pretty?

“ok, sure,” he responds, though he doesn’t quite sound like he believes it. He comes over to the puzzle and looks down at it. “cool puzzle? did goat boy over here make it?”

Asriel perks up slightly. “Yes! Is it good?”

“yeah, it’s pretty nice, though it’s kind of puzzling how a kid like you managed to make this…” You all ignore Papyrus’s huff of derision.

“I’ve had a lot of practice! I’ve been making puzzles since I was little!” He seems slightly abash, with all the attention placed on him.

The puzzle is about half done already, thanks to Papyrus’s skill, so you pick up your knitting needles to knit while they work on the jigsaw. You wonder what you’ll make. You eye Papyrus’s scarf. It looks very warm, if old and a little torn. Maybe you could make your own.

You grab some red yarn and begin.

Chapter Text

“A gardening knife? Thanks, Mom!” You animatedly exclaim as you open your gift. It seemed she trusted you again, at least.

“You are very welcome, my child,” she responds, smiling warmly.

You weigh the blade carefully in your hand. You would take good care of this. You place it gently back in the box. When you had attempted to discard your first gift box, you had been surrounded by mixed confusion and slight offense. Apparently you were supposed to keep the box, as it was just as much a part of the present as the gift itself. It seemed like it might clutter your room, but you think that you have a place to put it.

You place it to the side and let your brother have a turn. He picks up a box with two tags on it. What?

“There’s a tag for you, and a tag for me? Are we supposed to open this together?” Asriel looks at your Dad, the giver of the gift, who nods excitedly. You crawl over and take one end of the ribbon while Asriel takes the other, and you both pull gently to unravel the ribbon, then lift the lid of the box. There are two silken drawstring bags inside the box. They’re kind of small for the large size of the box, but that might have been to throw you off track. You take the bag labeled “Chara”, and Asriel takes his counterpart.

You tug at the drawstring and reach in to pull out a delicate golden locket. But… is something wrong with it? It’s upside down. What would normally be a heart shape is now upside down and attached at the bottom. Strange. You look over to Asriel’s and see that his is normal. You really don’t want to point out the obvious error, these looked expensive, but this would bug you forever.

“Is it supposed to be upside down?” You ask tentatively. Asgore simply laughs deeply, and is joined in by everyone else in the room, notably without Papyrus. Glad for the fact that at least one person isn’t laughing at your questions, you immediately hide behind Papyrus.

“Thank you for not laughing, you are my favorite now,” you half-joke.

“NYEH HEH HEH! NO WORRIES, CHARA! I WOULD NEVER BETRAY YOU! I DON’T KNOW LOTS OF THINGS! LIKE HOW TO WORK A NUCLEAR REACTOR OR HOW TO TIE MY SHOES!” He seems very proud of his velcro sneakers, at least. And he knew what a nuclear reactor was. You don’t even really know what a nuclear reactor is.

“All jokes aside, Papyrus dear,” Toriel begins, not seeming to understand that he wasn’t joking, “I am not surprised that Chara does not understand.” She peeks around behind Papyrus and looks you in the eye. “Yours is ‘upside down’ because that is the way a monster SOUL looks! Human SOULs are in the typical ‘heart’ shape, whereas its monster counterpart is simply turned on its head! In fact,” she giggles a little, “to many monsters, the traditional ‘heart’ shape is upside down!” That’s funny!

“So mine is upside down because of Asriel? And his is right-side-up because of me?” You get it now. Toriel nods, standing up and offering a hand to you. You take it, and she pulls you to your feet. You walk over to Asriel and sit down. He’s trying to pry his locket open, to no avail. Asgore reaches out to stop him before he damages it.

“It only opens when you touch them together,” he informs Asriel.

After a quite ‘oh’ from both of you, you touch your lockets together and they produce an audible ‘click’ before opening. A melodic song pours out of both of them, perfectly harmonizing with each other. On one side, there’s an engraving in a flowing script reading ‘best friends forever’. You feel kind of ashamed for calling Papyrus your favorite now, but you also kind of want to cry. Big kids don’t cry, big kids don’t cry.

“what’s it say?” Sans head pops up over your shoulder and you yelp. Clutching your chest and breathing a little heavier, you give him your worst scowl. Despite your lack of response, he reads the inscription anyway and somehow whistles in appreciation. “i guess he’s your soul friend now, huh?” While you didn’t like the insinuation that you had no other friends, you had to snicker a little at the joke. Papyrus gives a sigh of indignation, but you can tell he liked it anyway.

You are never ever going to take this necklace off.

“Thank you soooo much!” Asriel is practically bouncing off the walls. You think if you speak you might cry, so you sign.

[Yes, thank you!] You are grinning ear to ear. You hope you don’t look too insane. You lightly touch your new necklace and smile. Your best friend. You hadn’t realized that you cared about Asriel so much, but waves of sisterly affection were crashing over you, and you wanted to hug him until his head popped off. Well, maybe not quite that much.

“MY TURN MY TURN!” Papyrus jumps up and down, waving his arm around.

“Alright, Papyrus dear, settle down,” Toriel smiles, handing him a box. “I’m afraid your father did not have time to shop for a present for you, so I made one for you! I hope you like it!”

“I’M SURE I WILL!” He jumps one last time before taking the gift and pulling the ribbon, careful not to tear it. He reaches in and pulls something out.

“WOWIE!” He shouts exuberantly, “IT’S GREAT! HOW DID YOU KNOW I NEEDED ONE OF THESE?” He’s holding a blue and yellow striped sweater up to his chest.

“Well, I know how fast you are growing, and I thought you may need a sweater that you can grow into some. It may be a little too big right now, but as you grow it will fit better!” Toriel looked immensely pleased that he liked his gift. Papyrus was growing rather quickly. When you met him, he was maybe half an inch shorter than Sans, but nowadays he was nearly a foot taller. Sans seemed rather put off by it, actually. You had a similar experience. At your birthday, he had been barely your height, but now he towered over you. Dang, you needed to grow.

“Why do monster kids wear stripes anyways?” You suck on your sweater sleeve to stave off the anxiety of asking a question that will surely be laughed at. Instead of the usual response by Toriel, Sans speaks up, surprisingly.

“it’s tradition. monsters come in all shapes and sizes so it marks the ones that aren’t grown up yet. a small adult monster could be indistinguishable from a kid monster without them.” Made sense. But wait. Sans doesn’t wear stripes? He’s a kid. You point this out to him.

“eh. i’m pretty much an adult anyway.” It’s true enough, he’s pretty mature for his age. He knows all kinds of sciency stuff that you never even heard of. You won’t give up, though.

“You’re younger than me.”

“yeah but i have a job.” It was times like these where his childish side stuck out from his adult-like facade. It was nice to see that even Sans could crack.

“Still a kid though,” you remark, sucking on your sleeve even harder. Toriel notices and playfully bats your hand away but you bring it back up when she stops looking. Clearly fed up, he unzips his sweater slightly and brings out a chain with some kind of pendant attached to it.

“that’s what this is for.” It’s a smooth ovular pendant that appears to be made out of some metal. Across its surface are blue and white stripes. “neat, huh? it’s for stubborn kids, like me, who refuse to wear stripes but still need to be able to be identified as a child.” He says ‘child’ very mockingly and you can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t consider himself to be one. It would be impolite to ask.

Papyrus pulled the sweater partially over his head while you were arguing with Sans and is now stuck. You reach over and tug lightly to try and get it all the way on him. Seems making it a turtleneck was a bad idea. Skeletons just have too many bones for it to catch on. With a tug you yank it over his head and he topples backwards, you landing on top accidentally. Your eyes lock and you take a second to process what happened before your face turns red. Bright. Red. At least, more than it usually is.

You should get up.

You should.

Why aren’t you getting up?

“UHM. CHARA? AS MUCH AS I AM ENJOYING THE IMPROMPTU HUG, I WOULD VERY MUCH ENJOY IT MORE IF I COULD AT LEAST SIT UP WHILE WE DO IT.” You hadn’t even realized that you were hugging him. Now that you were snapped back to reality you realized that you were clinging to him. Welp. Time to go throw yourself in a hole. Not like that worked the first time. You remember the first hug with Papyrus back when Sans rescued you from freezing to death. You remembered how it didn’t set off your normal ‘don’t touch me’ reaction, and how weird it was. You guess your subconscious just wanted more of the hugging action.

You sit up.

“S-Sorry! Sorry!” You look at the floor quickly and scramble off his lap, frantically looking around to see if anyone noticed the transpired events, then breathe a sigh of relief. Sans and Asriel are passionately debating whether or not striped clothing should be required, and Mom and Dad were nose nuzzling, as they always were. It was part cute, part disgusting. At least no one noticed the awkwardness. That is, no one except Papyrus.

“THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME FIX MY SWEATER! AND FOR THE UNSCHEDULED HUG!” At least he’s completely oblivious. You have that going for you.

“Oh… yeah! Um. You’re welcome?” Man you were bad at this. He seems to be waiting for something.

“Do you want something?”

“YES?? I THOUGHT I WAS SITTING UP SO WE COULD HUG IN THE IDEAL POSITION?” He spreads his arms wide, and you think your face probably resembles a fresh tomato, plucked right from the stem.

“O-o-okay.” You tentatively reach out for a hug and are surprised when he pulls you in quickly and nearly crushes you. “P-Papyrus? Not so tight, please!” He relaxes slightly.

“I APOLOGIZE, HUMAN! UNDYNE TOLD ME THAT IF YOUR OPPONENT’S FACE DOES NOT TURN BLUE, YOU ARE NOT HUGGING CORRECTLY!” There were multiple things wrong with that statement. First off, who calls a hugging partner their ‘opponent’? And second off, Undyne teaches him how to hug people? (And he called you ‘human’ again but that was less important.)

“Yes, well, humans have to do this thing called ‘breathing’.” You laugh. Now that you thought about it, Sans and Papyrus seemed to breathe also. You wondered how that worked.

“CHARA! YOUR FACE HAS RETURNED TO NORMAL! IT WAS SO RED BEFORE! ARE HUMANS SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?”

“Sometimes,” you respond quietly. It didn’t seem as awkward now. Hugging Papyrus was as natural as breathing, it seemed. The sweater was soft and warm, and he was bigger than you, which just made the hug better. You didn’t really want to let go, for some reason.

You hear someone clear their throat behind you, and you spring away from Papyrus. Turns out to be Sans. Goddamn it.

“honestly, i saved your life once and i didn’t get a single hug. makes me feel kinda bonely.” You don’t really want to hug him. Papyrus’s hugs look way more comfortable. Oh well. Sans did save your life, after all. You give him a short hug, with which he seems satisfied, and take back your spot next to Asriel.

The rest of the night goes fairly normally. Sans receives a telescope, but you don't know what he will even be able to look at with it down here. You have Gyftmas dinner, and your pie tastes good, tastes normal to your utmost relief. You bid Sans and Papyrus goodbye sometime after dinner, sneaking in one last hug from Papyrus. You feel like a whole new world of hugging has opened up for you. You spend an hour or so knitting your new red scarf, and then you sleep, dreaming good dreams.

Tomorrow is another day.

Chapter Text

It was two weeks into a new year, and Undyne had come over for sparring lessons with your Dad. After being bruised and beaten, she decided to stay for a while instead of going back to her orphanage in the Ruins, so Asriel showed her another puzzle he had created. You were walking to your room to play with them when you felt the ground rumble.

The room shakes and the lights flicker slightly. What was happening? The door to the bedroom opens and Asriel and Undyne come out, looking equally confused.

You try to walk over to them, but the ground shakes again and you fall over. The lights blink off, and you can’t see.

“Guys?” You feel around the room, and slam into someone.

“Hey, get off me!” Oh, it’s Undyne. You scramble off. “What the hell is going on?”

You hear someone sniffle. Goddamn it, Asriel.

“Stop crying, you crybaby! We need to find Mom and Dad!” You reach around for him and find his hand, pulling him up. The lights flicker on for a second before turning off again, and you catch a glimpse of his tear stained face. You keep holding his hand so as to not lose him in the dark, and you find and grab Undyne’s as well.

She tries to yank her hand out of your grip but you hold on tighter, hissing, “We’re gonna get lost if we don’t stay together!” She takes the hint and stops struggling.

The floor quakes again, sending vibrations through your legs and nearly making you lose balance once more, but you hold firm, squeezing the hands you are holding. You need to find your parents.

“Mom? Dad?” You call out, and you can just barely hear voices echoing from the corridors outside the house, so you carefully make your way through the darkness and out the front door.

Asriel has joined you in calling for your parents, as has Undyne, strangely. Hearing her call them her mother and father was slightly off putting before you remembered that she had called Asgore ‘Dad’ when you first met her and you stop worrying about it.

It’s just as dark in these hallways, unsurprisingly. There’s no sunlight to make up for the lights that would normally brighten these corridors, so you are left blind and fumbling around like an idiot.

You hear Asriel squeak out another call to your parents, and you can hear them call back, a little closer this time. Emboldened by this, you start running, nearly toppling the two monsters you are holding on to. Luckily, these hallways are largely empty.

You hear large footsteps also scurrying in your direction. The ground quakes again, but it’s much less violent than before, and not enough to knock you three over.

“Mom? Dad?” You call out one more time, and they don’t have time to respond before you collide with them, knocking everyone over.

You land on your father’s chest, Undyne sprawled on top of your back. Her claws dig into you at the surprise of the fall, and you shriek. That stung.

“Mom! Dad!” You hear Asriel cry out, and you feel just as relieved. As long as they were here, you were safe. Everything was okay now.

Or not. The ground quakes once more, and you think you hear a picture frame drop from the wall and shatter. You hope that wasn’t important.

“What’s going on?” You cry out, frustrated. You dig your fingers into your sweater as you shakily stand up, desperate to have contact with something real.

The lights flicker again. You can see that your knee is bleeding, but that’s not an issue for the time being.

“It’s something to do with the Core,” Asgore booms, his voice echoing down the long, dark hallways. “We aren’t sure yet.” You can hear him muttering under his breath worriedly and feel Toriel move closer to him in response.

You wonder what’s going on. You hope Sans and Alphys are alright. You hope everyone is evacuated, but know that it would be difficult. There are tons of people working at the Core.

You shake your head. No, the Core was short staffed. It had always been short staffed. You didn’t even have a Royal Scientist. You hope Alphys gets the position, though you don’t know if she’d be suited for it with her nervousness. The feeling of forgetting something permeates your thoughts, until Toriel breaks your concentration.

“Why didn’t you children stay in the house?” She scolds you three.

You start to sign due to your nervousness before remembering that it is too dark for anyone to see it. Ah, screw it. You’ll let someone else explain.

As Asriel frantically explains your terror, frequently interrupted by Undyne denying ever being afraid, you finally make it back to the house. After around fifteen minutes, your parents get the backup power working and the lights inside the house turn on, to your relief.

While Asriel regales your mother with the story of how you all found them (though it actually wasn’t all the interesting), and your father tries to figure out what was happening with the Core, you were left with Undyne.

“Do you think the people in the Core are alright?” You awkwardly shuffle your feet. You know Sans works there, and you can’t even imagine what it would be like for Papyrus to lose his brother. He already had no father or mother, it would be terrible to have absolutely no family.

You wonder how they managed to afford the house they live in without an adult taking care of the finances. Suddenly, a sharp pain runs through your forehead, like you were straining yourself too hard. You feel like you are forgetting something. Maybe you could go to the doctor to see what was up.

But you didn’t have a doctor.

Wait, yes you did. It was Doctor Alphys, it had always been Doctor Alphys. Why did you doubt it even for a second? Another pang runs through your head, but you ignore it. Maybe your parents should hire more people to staff the Core. It was strange, they were normally very strict about having enough people to man certain areas, but there had never been more than fifty or so people working the Core.

“I hope so! And if they aren’t, the Underground will have no power until you guys get more people on it!” She is also rubbing her head, like it’s paining her. Weird.

You continue to talk with Undyne until someone bursts through the front door, panting and heaving.

“Alphys?” You run over to her. “Are you alright?” Now Undyne and Asriel are talking. They don’t seem to notice your visitor.

She looks up at you with wild eyes. “H-he’s gone! O-oh god!” She frantically paces the floor. You reach a hand out to stop her.

“Wait a second. Start over. Who’s gone?” There’s a hint of panic in your voice, but you try to stamp it down. You need to stay calm or you’ll just work her up.

“Doctor Gaster!” The sound of that strange name sends more pains through your head. Who’s that? You can’t remember ever hearing that name in your life.

“Who?” You ask sincerely. At this question, Alphys gasps and you can see the beginnings of tears pricking the sides of her eyes. She backs up slowly, then turns around and runs out the door and back down the corridor.

Huh. You had just asked a simple question. You couldn’t help it if you didn’t know who he was. You waited for her to come back and explain everything.

BUt nOBodY cAME

Chapter Text

“What happened to you?” You ask Sans, probably a little too rudely. He looks like a wreck. He somehow has shadows under his eyes, and he won’t stop shuffling around, pacing back and forth. He almost looks more miserable than usual. Well, maybe more than almost.

“ ‘s nothin’, kid.” He sits down on his couch next to Papyrus and curls up into a little ball. Papyrus awkwardly pats his head in comfort.

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM. HE CAME HOME AFTER THAT POWER OUTAGE AND HE WAS JUST LIKE THIS.” He pulls Sans’ head into his lap and rubs his skull soothingly.

“i told you, it’s nothin’.” His voice is small. You can barely hear him. You had enough of this. You fling yourself over and slam your hands onto the coffee table.

“Okay, bonehead! I’ve had enough of you moping around for no reason! You need to either tell us what’s wrong or get your head out of your metaphorical ass and back to reality!” Probably a little too harsh, but you don’t take it back. He doesn’t respond, just curls up a little more. You hope your parents didn’t hear you cuss from the kitchen. You also hope Sans doesn’t realize that because you are in his house that he can just kick you out.

“it’s nothing that you’d understand,” He says after a moment, and that just makes you angrier. He doesn’t seem like he’s gonna crack, and it infuriates you that he can do that, that he can just hide everything away. You think your face turns red in your anger, because Papyrus just looks up at you and pulls you down next to Sans, also running his fingers over your scalp. Well. If your face wasn’t red before, it definitely was now. You weren’t a child! You feel like you could stand up right now and stomp your feet and storm away.

But.

But it’s kind of nice. He’s running his fingers through your hair, and it should by all means be snagging in the joints, but it’s not. You guess it’s a good thing you washed your hair yesterday. The tips of his fingers scrape against your scalp and it sends chills down your spine. Slowly but surely, your fast, angry breaths even out. You could fall asleep like this. It should be uncomfortable here, the guy was literally all bone, but somehow (probably magic to be honest) it was comfortable.

“Sans?” You call out quietly, now that you’re calmed down.

“hmm?”

“Sorry.” You pause. “For pushing you, that is.” You can feel Papyrus’s judgmental gaze. “And for telling you to get your head out of your nonexistent ass.” Papyrus huffs again, stilling his fingers. “Aaand for disregarding your emotions,” you finish with a grumble, that seems to placate both Papyrus and Sans. Papyrus continues to pet your hair.

“ ‘s alright. it’s just... he’s gone.” That’s the same thing Alphys said.

Who’s gone?” What had Alphys said? Doctor... Doctor... you feel like you should know this, but the name slips out of your mind as if it were made of fine sand, as if it were never there.
“you wouldn’t remember him anyway.” You sit up for a second, Papyrus’s phalanges falling to brush against your back instead, and look over at Sans. His eye sockets are completely dark. He looks so... broken. You feel shivers crawl down your back. He now looks every bit the twelve year old he is. Both of the brothers act so old for their age. Sometimes, you even forget who is older. But now, all of his emotional blockades are broken down, just for a second, and you think you can see what he is feeling.

He is feeling sorrow. Frustration.

Anger.

Loneliness.

Anxiety.

Despair.

 

Depression.

You look at Papyrus, worried. You’ve never seen Sans not cheerful, swaggering around with that stupid grin of his. You wonder if it’s ever been a true smile. You wonder if this is what he’s always been like, inside. It’s sad to think about.
You take a breath and let it out slowly, attempting to dispel your temper before it even starts to build.

“It’s okay. It’s just, Alphys said the same thing, and I can’t help but feel like something is being kept from me.” It is pretty obvious.

“HE WON’T TELL ME EITHER,” Papyrus comments. Wow, that was new. He normally told his brother everything.

“you wouldn’t believe me if i did.” He sounds so fatalistic that it breaks your heart, even if you aren’t exactly best friends with the skeleton.

“Try me,” you respond. You just want him to stop acting so sad all the time. He sits up off of Papyrus’s lap and looks directly at you. Papyrus listens intently, not wanting to miss anything.

“doctor gaster,” he states simply, and you try to formulate a response, but you can’t remember the name, even though he just said it. It was like water, rushing through your mind and gone in an instant.

“Sorry, Doctor who?”

“doctor gaster.” It’s frustrating, you can never remember the name, even though he just said it. He notices your frustrated expression, and looks at Papyrus’s equally upset face, and sighs. “yeah, that pretty much happens to everyone. don’ worry ‘bout it, kid.”

You have to worry about it, it’s in your nature. But you don’t think you’ll get anything more out of him. You stand up to head to the kitchen where the rest of your family is, saying goodbye to Sans and Papyrus on their green couch. Sans lays his head back down in Papyrus’s lap, skull once again softly stroked. You enter the kitchen to see controlled chaos.

“Why does this child have nothing but dry spaghetti noodles and dinosaur oatmeal?! I cannot cook a filling meal with this!” Toriel is furiously digging through cabinets, trying desperately to find a non-noodle, non-dinosaur food, but to no avail. She clings the boxes out as she looks through them, obviously upset.

Asriel is sitting on the counter, kicking his legs, talking to your father, who is stooped over picking up the many boxes of noodles that were discarded on the floor. The combined voices in the room build up to a cacophony of sound. How did you not hear this from the living room? There’s no door separating the two rooms... Just one of the many mysteries surrounding these skeletons. Where did they come from? Who were their parents? How did two children come to own a house? How did a child (Sans) get an internship at the lab? All good questions, none of which you suspected would be answered any time soon.
Your mom finally sighs and admits defeat when the cabinets are emptied.

“Are there any restaurants or some substitute in the area?” She looks completely miserable at ceding her defeat, but before she can get the last word out, Sans is in the kitchen, right next to you.

“Gah!” You yelp, jumping away from him. You hadn’t seen him enter, how was he suddenly right next to you?

“i thought i heard someone say restaurant,” He smugly states. “i happen to know that grillby’s is the best place to go around here.” He pauses, eyes darting from side to side, before admitting, “well, more like the only place to go.”

Papyrus comes bolting into the room, screaming at the top of his lungs. It’s mildly terrifying. A skeleton around half a foot taller than you, running towards you and screaming. Just mildly terrifying.

“WE ARE NOT GOING TO THAT DOMAIN OF GREASE! I SWEAR TO-”

“Bye~...” You respond, waving at him as you and your family exit the house. He groans in frustration and follows.

When you arrive, you glance at the menu. Ooh, they have chocolate milkshakes! You think you’ll enjoy this.

Chapter Text

“Ugh. I can’t believe Mom and Dad are making me dress up for this stupid thing.” You pull the stretchy fabric of a dress you were trying on away from your chest for a second, before snapping it back into place in annoyance. Ouch. That stung.

“I know, Chara, but it’s just one night! It’ll be fun! Dancing, talking, spending time with those you care about…” Asriel seems positively overjoyed to be fitted into a fancy princely suit. It’s very ornate, with yellow flower designs embroidered on the chest, the shoulders, elbows. The fabric itself is black, so the gold thread stands out well. You wonder if the thread is somehow made of real gold. Stars knew they had plenty gold down here to go around.

“But it’s a grown up party! No one I know will be there!” You stomp your foot childishly and immediately regret it. You didn’t need him thinking you were immature. You were, though. You just hid it well.

Asriel sighs, and holds up an outfit to your clothed frame before clicking his tongue in dissatisfaction and putting it back.

“Sans will be there. So will Alphys and Undyne. That’s pretty much everyone you know,” he teases, and it’s true. It’s unfair that Papyrus has to stay home, but all the others are employees of the royal family. Even though Undyne is technically still training, your father had managed to squeeze in a quick title of “Official Battle Protégée of the Royal Crown”, which was basically just a way of saying “freaking newbie but you’re basically family so I have to find a way to invite you”.

You wonder why you are so bitter about this. You like Undyne. You suppose you are just having anxiety from the upcoming social event.

“This dress is not doing it for me.” It’s pink, of all colors, and tightly beaded at the chest before flowing like water to your knees. It’s not you at all. You direct your brother out of the changing room, and pick up one of the other outfits in the thankfully small pile of options you had. Luckily, not all of them were dresses. You needed something to cover your arms, your hands, something nice. You have to admit that dresses aren’t really your thing, though you could see why some people liked them.

“What is this event again?” You had already had it explained to you twice, but you wanted to hear it from Asriel. It was adorable to listen to him speak, he was like a living marshmallow!

“Uhm, well. It’s a thing we do twice a year. Traditionally, it was meant to celebrate the day when everyone in the Underground came together to form a self-sustaining garden, so we’d always have food to eat!”

You finish putting on your next outfit. It’s a long, thick tunic that reaches your ankles. It’s a little heavy, to be honest. Now that you are decent, you allow Asriel back in the room. He steps in cautiously, and you come to a realization.

“So why do we celebrate it twice?” To be fair, this was your first time celebrating it, you had fallen down here around a month after the second celebration of the year. But this was a new year, around two months in, and you had to go to a fancy party to celebrate self-sustaining gardens.

“Oh, well,” his face turns the slightest bit pink. “When Dad officialized the holiday, he couldn’t remember if it was February 8th or June 10th… he just decided to celebrate both so that he would know he had it covered.” He attempts to cover his embarrassment with a rushed smile, but it just ends up making him even more adorable. You reach over and pinch his cheeks, hard.

“Ow! Chara!” He rubs his cheek and does his best to look scandalized, but you can tell he finds this just as hilarious as you.

You pull on a long winter cloak over your tunic. It has a nice big hood that you can hide your face in, and you could probably wrap it around your hands if when you get nervous.

The party was in February, in Snowdin. You wanted to be warm. You didn’t need a repeat of the Hide-and-Seek incident.

“Wow, Char! You look great!” The outfit is pretty nice. The long cloak is a dark navy blue, and is speckled with a constellation pattern. The tunic is simple, a dark green. You didn’t quite know how to judge your own appearance very well, though.

“I dunno… it’s missing something,” you say with a devious grin. You know he’s going to sneak it in, you might as well wear it also. You reach over to your pile of normal clothes and grab your locket, clasping it around your neck.

You stand tall in front of the mirror. You look almost regal?

Pfft. No. You could never look regal.

But you had felt naked without the necklace. Asriel touches his necklace to yours, and the clasp opens, allowing the tinkling music to pour out of the locket. It’s really nice, and you can’t help but be reminded of Asriel every time you hear it.

The engraving on the inside of the locket is reassuring, like a promise. Best friends forever. Forever. Forever. The mantra repeats like a heartbeat in your mind. Forever.

You hope it’s the truth.

The newly added picture fits the necklace well. Poor Asriel had just wanted a nice photo with you… now he had bunny ears, courtesy of you, on top of his regular goat ears. His grin stretches from goat ear to goat ear, and you can’t help but feel bad that your smiles never reach the same level of exuberance. It’s enough to make you feel awful at times, but you couldn’t seem to smile very large without it looking creepy.

 

Asriel reaches over you and places something on your head.

“I know you won’t want to wear this, but it’s a formal occasion. You gotta!” He steps back to get a look at your full ensemble. Long cloak with hood, long tunic, shoes, locket, and… tiara?

There is now a dainty silver tiara placed on your head. By the looks of it, it was crafted just for you. Yellow and green stones shimmer together to form a variety of golden flower shapes. It’s gorgeous.

You didn’t deserve this.

It fully hits you that you are royalty. What will your life be like when you are older? Asriel will be King, but where will that leave you? Advisor? What duties do Princesses do? You were honestly not cut out for this role at all.

You take a deep breath and decide to just say something random, to bring the attention away from your new accessory.

“So! Sans! Um… he’s acting weird, right?! And, um. Alphys?” Now you were acting weird.

“Yeah! He’s acting really strange! Did you know that he quit his scientist job?”

“What? Then why is he going to the party?”

“I dunno. I think he has another job. Something about judging, or whatever.”

“Huh.” You’ll have to ask him about it when you see him at the party.

You decide to get the outfit you are currently wearing. It’s nice, and warm, and gave plenty of coverage for your social anxiety.

“Go ahead and keep the outfit on. The party’s going in like three hours,” Asriel says, tugging on the tall neck of his suit. It’s not a tuxedo, but it looks pretty nice. It’s made of the same heavy material your cloak is made of and you can’t even imagine how warm it must feel if you have fur.

As you check out, you continue your unsolicited talk of Sans.

“So what do Mom and Dad think about Sans’ new behavior?”

“They’re pretty worried. At least, that’s what I overheard.” He makes a frustrated face. “They never talk to us about anything!”

“That ‘judging’ job must pay a lot to keep that house of theirs. Why’d he give it to a little kid, anyway?”

“Hey! He turned thirteen last week! He’s my age, don’t call us little kids!” His ears droop, and you can’t resist reaching out and bopping him on the nose. He snorts, irritated. “I dunno why they’d give him a job. He must have something special.”

You laugh at that. Sans, the lazy, joking, lump of total apathy, having special abilities past the normal range of most monsters? Please.

You step out of the shop with Asriel, immediately shrinking in on yourself when you see the crowded streets. The City of New Home was very densely populated, and the crowds that it had made you quite antsy. If it weren’t for the inherently good nature of monsters, you’d be fearing for your life whenever you passed an alleyway, or walked the streets at night. But you actually didn’t think that monsters committed crimes. They were just that good. So much better than humanity.

The streets were clean, drugs were nonexistent, murder was literally unheard of in most areas…

Compared to monsters, humanity really was utter garbage.

It would be so much better if humans were the ones stuck down here, in this musty, moldy pit. These monsters, these good, pure monsters, deserved to see the sun, and the stars, and the sky.

You just had to figure out how to get them there.

You’d start research sometime after this social event. For now, you needed to focus on not vomiting when you were inevitably put in the spotlight.

You take Asriel’s hand, and head home.

Chapter Text

The atmosphere at the party at Sans and Papyrus’s house is somewhat sophisticated, surprisingly. The lights were dimmed, and everyone was dressed fairly nicely.

“Why are we doing this here?” You whisper to Asriel, leaning over to him.

“This is the only place big enough in Snowdin,” he whispers back. One of the downsides of living Underground, you guess. It was nice of them to offer their house, though.

Your outfit was comfortable, to your delight. The main problem you had had with dressing up was how uncomfortable most fancy clothes were, but these were soft, and nice.

Poor Papyrus. He was stuck in his room, not allowed to come out to the party even though it was taking place in his own house. You kinda wish you got to be in a separate room, it was so crowded in here. There was barely any space between people, and you had to practically knock someone over to move around the room. At least you weren’t in your own home, it was even smaller than this.

Maybe you’d visit him partway through. You couldn’t stay up there the whole party, unfortunately. You were the princess, you couldn’t afford to be absent.

You tiara slips slightly, and you accidentally bump Asriel with your elbow when you reach up to correct it. You sigh. At least no one was talking to you, besides Asriel.

As if struck by bad luck, you are immediately approached by Undyne.

“Hey punks! Enjoying the party?!” She doesn’t wait for your response, not that you were planning on giving one, before continuing, eyes lighting up with excitement, “Asgore says he’s gonna make me Captain of the Royal Guard in a year or so!! I’ll finally be an adult, so I can stop being seen as a trainee and actually get some respect!” She’s almost unbearably loud, and you shrink into the couch some. And now she’s flexing her muscles. Aaand now her fancy dress shirt is ripped. She falters for a second, before ripping the sleeves all the way off, shrugging her shoulders. You remember why you don’t hang out with her that much.

“Anyway, so, as I was saying-”, she begins, before she’s cut off by a large turtle monster picking her up and dragging her away, all while she’s still talking. Who was that?

Well. Now that you didn’t have obnoxious shenanigans to distract you, the fullness of the room was starting to send anxiety up your spine. You itched to have some personal space. The room on the couch was pressed body-to-body, and you felt like you might explode if you didn’t get some air. Maybe you could go up and visit Papyrus? No, you needed outside air. You’d probably just annoy him anyway.

A bunny monster approaches you two, immediately engaging Asriel in conversation about some cartoon show. She was an adult, how did she know about that? Regardless, you take the distraction and struggle to stand up from the couch. With some effort, you wriggle through the group of people and make it to the front door, forcing it open, even as it pushed people aside. As you step out, your cloak is accidentally torn from your shoulders by the feet of people surrounding you, but it’s too late to go back and pick it up.

You stumble outside, nearly falling into the snow as the door slams shut behind you, pressed closed with the weight of the crowded living room. You immediately shiver, cursing yourself that your cloak had fallen off as you struggled to get out.

Damn, it’s cold. Another shudder runs through your body, but it’s so much better out here than in there. In there, you were the Princess. You had a duty to be proper. But out here… you were Chara. You breath in the crisp, cold air. It’s a little musty, as everything was down here, but it’s better than the hot air you had been breathing inside. You shiver again.

“better come inside or your parents might scold you,” a voice says behind you, and you nearly jump five feet into the air. You whirl around, coming face to face with Sans. Of course.

How had he gotten out here so quietly? You would’ve heard the door opening, you were sure of it. He was just… here.

You look down at your feet. “Snow problem, I guess.” You sigh. “I just needed some fresh air.”

He laughs a little at that. “Too bad we don’t have much of that down here,” he pauses, as if formulating a joke. “We’re fresh out.” You try to suppress of snort of laughter but fail, miserably.

You sit down on the first porch step, staring idly at the cavern ceiling. It was times like these that you missed the stars, but even with their absence, you liked it better down here than on the Surface. In your trance, you hardly notice him sit down next to you.

“your brother is havin’ a good time in there,” he tentatively tells you, his voice somewhat small. You nearly forget that he’s younger than you, he acts so mature. “you sure you don’t wanna go back in?” You shake your head, shivering again.

“oh!” He pulls something out from behind his back. “i nearly forgot. you dropped this,” He hands you your cloak, and you take it gratefully, draping it over your shoulders. Much better.

It’s very quiet tonight. You feel content to just sit here, with or without Sans present. Especially since you were warm now. After a few minutes silence, he stands up, offering his hand.

“look, i gotta go back inside now,” he says, expectantly.

[So go,] you sign, with cold fingers.

“i’m not leaving you out here,” he responds, shaking his head. “not happening.”

You bury yourself into your cloak further, and he lets out a long sigh. He sounds like he’s… giving in?

“look. you don’t have to go back to the party. you just have to go inside.” You open your mouth to respond that the party was inside, but he cuts you off. “i’ll bring you to papyrus’s room. he needs the company, anyway.” You pause, considering, before reluctantly nodding. You just hope you don’t annoy him.

You take Sans’ hand. “How are we gonna get there? Too many people,” you question. He grins smugly.

“let’s just say, i have a shortcut.” A shortcut to a bedroom? He pulls you up from your seated position, and you go to walk towards the door, but he immediately pulls you in the opposite direction, walking down the street.

“Sans, I don’t-” you begin, but whatever you were trying to say dies in your mouth when you are suddenly in Papyrus’s room. What? What?! There hadn’t even been a transition. It was just ‘snowdin street’ one second and then immediately ‘Papyrus’s room’ the next. You couldn’t even process what just happened.

“Sans? Wha…” he just gives you a smirk and opens the door back into the upstairs hallway. The room is immediately filled with sounds of the party. You can distinctly hear Dad’s voice carrying over all the rest.

“i’ll tell your family where you are, and not to bug you,” he swears, and closes the door with a click. You stand there for a second, trying desperately to process what just happened.

“CHARA?” Papyrus’s loud voice snaps you out of your train of thought. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?”

“Oh, just…” you briefly consider telling him the truth, that the party had given you anxiety and you just couldn’t handle it. But, Papyrus was normally a social butterfly. He would probably think less of you if he knew how easily you melted under the stress of social interaction.

“Just… wanted to visit the greatest skeleton in the Underground, of course!” You suppose it wasn’t a full lie. You had entertained the thought of visiting him while you were downstairs, after all.

“OH! GREAT!!” He pauses, before correcting himself, even louder than before, “I MEAN, OF COURSE YOU DID! I AM VERY MARVELOUS, AFTER ALL!! NYEH HEH HEH!!” You giggle a little. He was adorable. In the puppy sort of way, of course. Of course. Um. Hmmm.

 

 

 

“SO… DID YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING OR WERE YOU JUST PLANNING ON STARING AT ME ALL NIGHT? NOT THAT I BLAME YOU, OF COURSE.”

“Oh! No, I was hoping we could…” you scramble for ideas desperately, “... work on puzzles?” His eyes light up more than they already were, and he gasps theatrically.

“OF COURSE!!” He immediately scrambles around his room to find a puzzle, before emerging with a five-hundred piece puzzle from his closet. “IT’S MISSING A COUPLE PIECES, BUT IT’S STILL GREAT! I FOUND IT IN THE DUMP! DID YOU EVER SEE THIS PUZZLE WHEN YOU WERE ON THE SURFACE?”

You take a close look at the puzzle. It’s decorated with flowery bunnies and foxes. You shake your head.

“GOOD! SO YOU WON’T KNOW THE SOLUTION!” He cackles maniacally, and you take a small step backwards. He opens the lid, and begins sorting the pieces. You smile, very softly. You had taught him that.

You spend the night building puzzles with him until the party ends and your parents come collect you to go home.

Chapter Text

Now that the party was over, you needed to figure out how you were gonna get everyone out of here. You had the perfect goat to interrogate.

 

“I swear, I don’t know anything!” Asriel shrieked as you twisted his ear. You knew he was lying. No one nervously sweats if they’re telling the truth.

“If you tell me, I’ll give you my snails for a month~” you croon. Not that that would be much of a loss for you. Even though you had developed a reluctant tolerance to the slimy things, they were far from your favorite food.

Asriel gulps. He really wants it. You twist his ear a little harder (though still fairly playfully, you didn’t want to actually hurt the poor guy), and you can physically see him break.

“Okay, okay! It has to do with SOULs,” he admits sheepishly.

“Souls? Those are just myths.” You know that your parents had mentioned something about human and monsters souls at Gyftmas, but you had thought that it was just some religious belief. You glance down at your locket. Could they actually exist?

“No, not souls. SOULs,” he unhelpfully explains.

“Okay, you just said the same word twice.”

He shakes his head. “No. SOUL, the acronym! Sectional OccUpance of Life. I know, it’s kinda cheesy.” He grins. “They worked really hard for that one. I think the past royal scientist must’ve gone through every thesaurus book down here to come up with it.” He suddenly frowns, crinkling his forehead as he concentrates. “Hey, who was the last royal scientist? There must’ve been one…”

“When I fell, the position was already empty,” you respond, shrugging your shoulders. “I don’t think there was ever one while I was down here.” Something in your mind twitches, just barely under your subconscious, telling you that you were wrong. You ignored it.

You clear your head, shaking it back and forth. “Anyway! So what is a SOUL?”

“It’s just what I said! It’s basically the culmination of your being! Everything that you know, everything that you are… condensed into one tiny heart form.” He gets a far-away look in his eyes, like he’s daydreaming.

“So this necklace,” you say, gesturing down to your locket, “is an actual representation of a SOUL?”

“Yeah!” He bounces slightly, you can tell he’s excited. “A monster SOUL, anyway! Human SOULs are like this,” he says, holding up his own necklace. You are glad to see that he’s wearing it. It had come to be something that helps ground you when you had anxiety. Just having it on while you were at the party had kept you from having a full-blown attack, you had only felt mildly anxious. You had realized this fact after the party had concluded, when you looked back on how crowded it had been and was wondering what had kept you from freaking out.

“Wanna see mine?” He asks you. You aren’t sure. SOULs sound intimate.

“Isn’t it… private?”

“No, no. You can see it if you want! Just don’t touch!”

“Why not?” You ask, and he develops a small blush. You regret asking. You are glad that he doesn’t answer that particular question, you aren’t sure that you want to know the answer.

He presses both hands to his chest and closes his eyes, as if concentrating. Slowly, he brings both hands away, cupping a small, white, upside-down heart. It glows softly. You peer down at it, remembering to keep your hands away from its softly shining surface. It’s beautiful.

“Wow,” you breathe. He smiles, as if pleased that you like it.

“Someone once told me I’m a Kindness SOUL! I… can’t remember who, though…” he briefly develops that worried look again, but it disappeared as quickly as it came.

“How can you tell?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. I know that human SOULs are easier to tell, though! They shine all sorts of colors! Mine is just white.” He frowns theatrically and you frantically suppress a laugh. “I think it’s just barely one color or another, but it’s too subtle to tell. Kindness would be green on a human!”

“Cool! I wonder what my SOUL color is?” You aren’t sure that you want to know. You aren’t sure if you want to expose the very culmination of your being.

“You can take it out and look! I know what some of the colors mean, but not all of them,” he admits sheepishly, rubbing the side of his head.

You cock your head to the side, asking a silent question. How? He moves his hands like he’s removing his SOUL again, and you copy it as best as you can. Nothing happens.

“Maybe… maybe humans can’t do it…” You reluctantly conclude.

“Nonsense! It’s you, you can control it if you want to! You need to feel it. Reach deep down and take hold, with your mind.”

You close your eyes.

You picture your memories.

You picture your hopes.

Your dreams.

Your existence.

You wrap it all up, press it together, so it couldn’t possibly escape. You reach down…

And mentally take hold of a small heart shaped object inside of your chest. You gasp as you grab it, nearly losing hold. You grip it tighter, and mentally maneuver it outside of your chest. To your satisfaction, you begin to see the beginnings of a bright light peeking out of your chest.

You pull harder, and it completely tugs free of your physical form. It’s beautiful, you think, and that may be narcissistic of you, but it’s true.

“You’re red,” your brother says in awe, and you don’t know what it means, but it sounds like a good thing.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” he breathes. “I know what this one means.” He pauses, swallowing. “You’re determined.”

“Why is that so special?” You cup the small heart carefully in your hands, a strange urge to protect it overtaking your body. It hits you that this heart, this thing in your hands, is everything you were, are, and ever will be. It is you. And you are it.

“Monsters can’t get determined,” he explains, slowly pressing his own SOUL back into his chest, done showing it off. “It’s a human-only trait.” He stops, considering something. “Except… except Undyne, for some reason.”

“Undyne? Why her?”

He shrugs his shoulders. “We dunno. She’s just different.” He grins. “It’s part of the reason Dad chose to train her to be Captain. He knows she can do it.” That was interesting. You bet she could be really strong if put under the right kind of pressure. More than she already was, that is.

Your SOUL shines softly, almost powerfully, persistently, as if reminding you that you have a job to do, people to save. You get back on topic.

“So how will this help us get out of here?”

His ears droop slightly. “It won’t. We need the strength of seven human SOULs to break the barrier. And monster SOULs are so much weaker... every single monster SOUL combined is only the strength of a single human SOUL,” he admits quietly, with a sad tone to his voice.

“... you sure there’s no other way?”

“I’m actually not sure. There are some boring history plaques in Waterfall, maybe we can go visit tomorrow!” He actually sounds mildly excited for the trip. You nod in confirmation. “Hey, are you gonna put your SOUL away?” You glance back down at the softly glowing red heart in your hands, filling them with warmth. You slowly bring it back up to your chest, gently pressing it in. The warmth flows throughout you, from your chest all the way to the tips of your toes, leaving you content. Now that it was back, you didn’t understand how you had withstood a single second without it.

Well, then. You may not be able to free the monsters the ‘normal’ way…

 

But you were one step closer.

Chapter Text

“Asriel! Chara!” Undyne runs up to you, feet splashing water onto your jeans. “Why are you in Waterfall?”

“Why are you in Waterfall?” Asriel counters, crossing his arms. “Shouldn’t you be in the orphanage at the Ruins?”

Undyne opens her mouth in mock offense. “No need to get so uppity, dude. I’m not gonna tattle,” she teases.

“You didn’t answer his question,” you meekly pipe up from behind Asriel. Undyne looks briefly guilty, but quickly moves her face into a more confident form.

“I, uhm. I just like Waterfall? It’s like, the perfect temperature, and it’s not all dry like the Ruins are.” She waves a webbed hand in front of your faces. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m kinda a fish-type monster.”

Before you can stop yourself, you blurt out, “Something about that seems kinda fishy.” You immediately clap a hand over your mouth. Sans was rubbing off on you. Undyne scowls at your joke, but Asriel is laughing pretty hard, so you think your joke was a net plus.

“Well, it’s the truth,” she flippantly replies after a moment passes. She crosses her own arms and blows a lock of hair out of her eyes.

You three stand awkwardly for a couple minutes before Undyne finally pipes up, breaking the silence.

“So I’m on my way to visit Gerson, you wanna come?” Undyne is doing her weird bouncing thing again. Asriel nods hesitantly, but you are just left feeling confused.

“Who’s that?” You ask, feeling pretty stupid.
“You remember that old turtle guy at the Garden Day party?” Asriel asks you, and you nod. He was the one that spared you two from Undyne. “Well, that’s him!”

Undyne begins to lead you two down the corridor, bouncing with excitement the whole way. She acts way too young to be seventeen, right? Before much time passes, she has you in front of what appears to be a shop door, inlaid with a silver Delta Rune. When you had interrogated Asriel, he had explained the significance of the symbol to you. You could fully appreciate the reason why it was stamped all over the Underground. It was a symbol of hope.

Undyne reaches out a blue fist and raps persistently on the door, hard. You’re slightly worried that she’ll knock it right off of its hinges, but the door swings open on the fourth knock, when the frame of the door begins to shake. Seems that Gerson has developed reflexes for Undyne’s knocking. You wonder how often she comes here.

“Gerson! Hey!” She jumps on the poor guy, tackling him to the ground. You are more than a little concerned for the old guy’s health, he had been hobbling around on a cane, after all, but he seems very lively, so you suppose it’s fine.

He carefully stands up after a minute or two of roughhousing and musses Undyne’s hair. She scowls and fixes it, having to redo the whole ponytail. You understand her pain, everyone seems to muss your hair.

“So what’re you doin’ here, youngin’s?” It seems he has the appropriate ‘old man’ dialect.

“Well, I was comin’ to visit you, and I ran into these two on the way!” Undyne excitedly shouts, picking you both up as she says it. You kick your feet wildly in the air to fight it, but it doesn’t work.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you two,” the old turtle croaks. He seems to recognize who you are, what you are, but he doesn’t say anything. One of his eyes seems to be glued shut. You wonder what happened to him. You wonder if he was alive during the War.

“Wait a second,” Undyne scowls at you. “I answered your question, but you never answered mine . Why did you come to Waterfall?”
You sweat nervously under her intense gaze. Her yellow eyes really were quite piercing, weren’t they?

“Undyne, don’t torture the poor kids,” Gerson pleads her, but you respond to her anyway.
“W-we just wanted to see the cool glowing water? And the flow-flowers?” She scrutinizes you for another moment before accepting your obvious lie.

“Undyne?” Asriel pipes up from her other arm, “Could you put us down now?” Undyne at least has the courtesy to look slightly embarrassed before placing you two back onto the ground.

“Well, I won’t keep you waiting!” She shouts. “I’ll stay here, you two go be nerds somewhere else, I guess.” You open your mouth to protest that you just got here, but Asriel claps a paw over it and drags you out the door.

After being dragged out, you take the paw off your mouth, stumbling slightly. “What was that for?” You ask, crossing your arms.

“Look, do you wanna know about SOULs or not?” He's more jokingly stating this than acting upset at you, so you nod. “C’mon, then,” he says, leading the way down a corridor.

Waterfall is nice, you note to yourself. It’s cool, and the glowing blue of both the water and the flowers is mildly soothing. The sound of rushing water helps to put your mind at ease. It’s weird to think that this is Undyne’s favorite area, what with her... exuberant personality.

It’s not long before he stops you in front of some sort of series of plaques. You study it, slightly horrified by its contents.

“Seven human SOULs, you told me that... but you didn’t tell me you could absorb me like some kinda sponge!”

He laughs. “Yeah, sorry! I mean, if it makes you feel better, you can technically absorb my SOUL, too. But... it’s harder,” he smiles awkwardly. It kind of does make you feel a little better.

You keep reading the plaques. One thing in particular sticks out to you, stays in your mind.
“You-” You take a sharp breath. “You can leave.” Your heart is beating a little faster, whether from fear of the realization of what you would have to do, or relief that you would finally stop being a burden, you aren’t exactly sure.

Asriel looks sharply at you. “What do you mean? No I can’t.”

You nod. “Yes, you can,” you reply, pointing at the line you are reading. “A human SOUL and a monster SOUL.” You can’t believe the Dreemurrs passed up an opportunity like this. After all, your life on the Surface had taught you that it was kill or be killed.

“But we don’t have any human SOULs!” He responds indignantly. You smile sadly.

“Yes.” you look him directly in the eye. He seems to realize what you are getting at, confused look morphing into one of horror. You take a shaky, rattling breath, steeling yourself as you begin to lay out your hastily constructed plan.

 

“Yes, you do.”

Chapter Text

Asriel refuses to speak with you about the subject of SOULs for a good long while after your trip to Waterfall. It made sense, the poor kid was scared witless of you dying. But he had to understand, you could get them out. So that’s why, two months later, when you are ambushed with a camera, you force the subject back onto him.

“Howdy, Chara!” He exclaims, jumping out from behind a corner in the hallway. “Smile for the camera!” Maybe if you play along, he’ll talk to you about SOULs again? Nevertheless, you smile, trying to keep all creepiness out of it. Asriel barks out a laugh. “This time I got you!?I left the cap on,” Asriel pauses dramatically, “on purpose Now you’re smiling for noooo reason!” He bursts out into a fit of giggles, doubling over slightly, and you can’t help but let out a couple snickers yourself.

[Asriel,] you sign, after the laughs have died down. You don’t want the camera to pick your voice up. [Do you remember? When Dad got sick?] You look down at the floor.

“What?” He seems confused, and you can’t blame him. That really came out of nowhere. “Oh, yeah, I remember.” He says it like you are ridiculous for thinking he would forget it, and you guess you are. “When we tried to make butterscotch pie for Dad, right?” You nod in confirmation. “The recipe asked for cups of butter. But we accidentally put buttercups in instead!” At the reminder of your mistake, you can’t help but let out the ghost of a laugh. Great, seems that tick is still here...

“Yeah!” He suddenly exclaims again. “Those flowers got him really sick...” his face drops, and his voice becomes more solemn. “I felt so bad. We made Mom really upset... I should have laughed it off, like you did,” he declares, and you cringe. You must sound so heartless when you do that. You don’t mean to, and the fact that Asriel thought that it was healthy was concerning. He looks back up at you. “Um, anyway, where are you going with this?”

[Turn off the camera.] you sign, with heavy hands.

“Huh? Turn off the camera? Okay.” He fumbles with the button for a second before the red recording light turns off and you can speak freely.

“Asriel,” you begin, in a soft, low voice, “we need to talk about my plan.” He immediately recoils, and you have to stop him from leaving the room.

“No!” He shouts, and you can already see the beginnings of tears pricking the sides of his eyes.
“I won’t let you sacrifice your SOUL for us! No way!”

“You don’t even know what I want to do,” you groan, but you know it’s unreasonable. He wouldn’t like the plan anyway. Asriel stays quiet, and you assume this means that he is conceding defeat. He sits on the bed.

“One human SOUL and one monster SOUL, right?” He reluctantly nods, and you continue. “And there isn’t a way to extract a SOUL from someone who is alive, right?” He nods again, frowning. “So, I eat the buttercups-”

“No!” He jumps up, cutting you off. “No way, Chara! Dad was in so much pain! You can’t!”

You hesitate, taking a breath, before continuing, disregarding his outburst. “So, I eat the buttercups, get sick...” you intentionally leave out the word ‘die’. That would probably freak him out more than he already is. “And you take my SOUL and go to the Surface! Then you get six more SOULs and break the Barrier! It’s the only way, Azzy!”

You suppose it would also work with Asriel’s SOUL, but you wouldn’t let that happen in a million years. He’s too good, too kind, for that kind of fate. You, however... you were perfect for this. You were human, so you were evil by default. Any species that could trap the monsters Underground had to be evil.

Asriel is frantically shaking his head, too stunned to get the words out. The tears have started rolling down his cheeks, gaining speed before dropping to the ground. For a second, you just want to call the whole thing off, declare that you were ‘joking’, and forget that any of this happened. Before the thought can gain any traction, you reach up and grip your locket, warming the cool metal with your hands. You had to do this. For your family. For the monsters.

“Asriel,” you whisper. “Please.” You start to choke up, and can feel your own tears starting to form. Before you can blink them away, one is released, rolling down your cheek. Asriel notices, blinking at the tear with a surprised look on his face. You’ve never cried in front of him before. Maybe it’ll be enough to convince him.

“If I-” your voice stutters to a stop, and you take a second to wipe the tear off of your face. “If I don’t do this... I will never forgive myself, do you understand?” You kneel down in front of him, taking his paws in your hands. “Never. You have to understand, I-” You take a deep, stuttering breath, preparing yourself for what you are about to say. You don’t think you’ve ever said this before. “I love you all, so much. You deserve to see the sun, and the stars, and the moon. And the sky. Oh, Azzy, you’re gonna love the sky!” You look directly in his eyes. “You deserve the sky more than any human does. More than me.”

Finally, Asriel speaks. “Chara... you deserve the sky also.” He shifts on the bed, accidentally bumping the camera. You hope it didn’t turn on, but you don’t want to ruin the moment by checking it. You are so close to convincing him, not that you were manipulating him at all. You meant every word that you said.

“I... I don’t like this idea, Chara,” he admits. The tears are pouring down his face now, he looks like he could drown in them. You are too choked up at this point to speak, so you remove your hands from his grasp and sign to him that he should probably stop crying if he wants to be able to speak. You try to be as polite as possible.

“Wh... what? N-no, I’m not,” he frantically wipes the tears off his face, sniffling. “... big kids don’t cry,” he states, and you flinch. That was your motto, the one you repeat to yourself over and over, and to Asriel as well. You aren’t so sure that it’s true now, hearing it from him. You’ve damaged him emotionally, stunted his ability to cry. Of course you did, you mess everything up.

[You’ve trusted me for so long,] you sign. [Please don’t doubt me now. They’ll call us heroes, Asriel! Monsters will remember us for hundreds of years!]

He struggles to pull a happier look on his face. “Yeah, you’re right!” He tries to sound brave, like he wants to follow through with your plan, but you can tell that it’s all a facade. You can see the doubting look on his face, and your own face falls.

[So you do doubt me.]

“N-no! I’d never doubt you, Chara! ...Never!”

[You’re- We’re gonna be so strong, Asriel!]

“Y...yeah! We’ll be strong! We’ll free everyone.” He hesitates, like he greatly regrets what he’s about to say. “I’ll go get the flowers,” he finishes, in a croaky voice, like he’s about to cry again.

You look over to the camera, noticing the red recording light flashing. You lunge over to hit the button to turn it off. You don’t need it picking up any more sound. Asriel reluctantly drags himself up off of the bed, and trudges over to the door, and you are left alone with your thoughts.
_______
When Asriel returns, his eyes are red and so is the area around his nose, so you know he’s cried while he was gone. He kept his end of the deal, however. He’s grasping two full handfuls of the flowers.

“There were a lot,” he admits, voice betraying his sadness. “They’ve kinda overtaken all the other flowers.”

You look at the flowers, willing yourself to shakily reach out and grab the flowers from his hands. When his hands are empty, you can see that they are bright red, like the flowers have burned them. Great. These would feel absolutely wonderful in your inner organs. Not.

“Why do we have to use the flowers?” Asriel hesitantly asks you, obviously afraid you’ll yell at him. “Dad looked like he was in a lot of pain when he got sick... we could try another way?” He asks hopefully, but you shake your head.

“It has to look like an accident,” you tell him. “If they know I did it on purpose they’ll know what you are gonna do, and try to stop you.” He looks like he doesn’t agree, but doesn’t say anything. You spend a couple minutes just staring at the flowers, trying to force yourself to do something. Finally, you get the bravery to speak up.

“C-can I get milk or something? Or chocolate?” You ask, trying to extend the time in which you will be pain-free. “To help it go down easier,” you explain.

Asriel nods, and hurries out of the room. After an undetermined amount of time passes, he returns with a glass of chocolate milk. Bless this goat. You take the cold glass in your hands thankfully, and brace yourself for what is about to come.

You look at the flowers in your hands, forcing your unwilling fingers to bring them up to your mouth. You nearly gag at the bitter smell overwhelming your senses, but push a blossom into your mouth anyways. You recoil and nearly spit it out, but manage to keep it in your mouth. This tastes awful, you think to yourself.

You chew the flower, a chemical-tasting liquid seeping out of the petals and burning your tongue as you do, then force your rebelling throat to swallow it. One down, approximately fifty more to go. You take a small sip of the milk, pacing it out so you don’t run out halfway through.

You don’t chew the next blossom, swallowing it quickly. The sticky seeds catch at your throat for a second, and you have to swallow again to clear your airway. Your mouth burns, and your throat is unpleasantly sore. Your stomach is already starting to roll and quake, as if begging you to stop. You weren’t meant to eat these.

But eat them, you shall.

Asriel watches in horror as you stuff five more blossoms into your mouth and wash it down with more milk, which helps to mask the flavor, if only barely. You think your throat is beginning to swell, and your lips are lightly tingling, as if you had just eaten some sour candy.

Your stomach sends out a sharp pang, and you have to sit on the bed or risk falling on the ground. At your sudden movement, Asriel lets out a small surprised sound, rushing to your side. As he frets over you, not daring to try to stop you, you cram the rest of your first handful into your mouth, filling your mouth completely. This hurts. This hurts so bad. Why had you wanted to do this? You needed to stop.

You put more flowers in your mouth, chasing it with chocolate milk.

You need to stop you need to stop. White spots dance in your vision, and your mouth is officially numb. You force even more flowers down your aching throat. Every part of you is screaming for you to stop. This is unnatural.

Youneedtostopyouneedtostopyouneedtostop At this point, you would probably die even if you stopped. There is no turning back. You just need to make sure that you can’t come back from this.

You finish the flowers.

You greedily gulp down the rest of your milk, not quite getting rid of the acrid taste in your mouth, before collapsing on the bed, utterly exhausted.
You can barely breathe, your throat is so swollen. You can barely see . Your stomach sends sharp pains into your chest at random intervals, and you can already feel blisters forming around your mouth and on your hands. This hurts. It’s hard to believe that just half an hour ago you were painless, able to jump, and run, and play. You had been healthy. And now... now you were dying. You have a feeling this won’t be a quick death, either.

You can already feel your forehead becoming uncomfortably warm, and your face and chest burn from the poison contained in the flower petals. You have a feeling that when the petals pass through your digestive system, you will have a bad time.

This is was what you put Dad through.

 

You deserve this.

 

 

 

 

 

You deserve death.

Chapter Text

It hurts.

 

It hurts to move.

 

It hurts to breathe.

 

It hurts to eat.

 

Everything hurts.

 

To be fair, your parents were trying very hard to make you better. It wouldn’t work. Mom and Dad spent almost all day, every day, by your side, hands on your stomach, sending green healing magic coursing through you. When Dad was doing his duties, Mom worked even harder to make up for his absence. You felt like even more of a burden. Figures.

Even when you were dying you were more of a harm than a help.

You were dying.

Of course you were, that was the plan all along, right?

 

“Chara?” Asriel asks during one of the rare moments when the room was empty. “Are you- are you in a lot of pain?”

You nearly laugh, but the effort of laughing shoots pain through your body, and you bite back a wince. This isn’t even the full brunt of the pain. It would only get worse. You actually needed to eat more flowers to make up for the healing magic coursing through your system. Already, your parent’s skill was making you feel better. You needed to fix that.

“Yes, but it is getting better,” you finally reply, in a tone that implies that ‘getting better’ was not what you wanted. “I need… I need more flowers,” you admit reluctantly. “I’m healing.” Asriel looks solemn, like he wants to refuse. You know that deep down, he wants you to be better. Why wouldn’t he? Your eyelids begin to grow heavy. When did you get tired?

“I’ll get you more after bedtime,” he reluctantly states, and you sleepily nod that you heard him before beginning to slip into dreamless slumber. Dying sure was exhausting.

As you drift off, you hear the door open again and Toriel reenter, once again placing her paws on your sensitive stomach. If you thought you were in pain now, you were in for a hell of a time when the blossoms began to blister your internal organs. You needed more flowers.

You eat three more handfuls in the middle of the night, courtesy of Asriel.

 

A month passes, like this. Eating flowers only to have your progress thwarted by healing magic. You keep increasing the dosage, however, and you make a little more progress each time. Inching closer and closer to death. Clawing towards the endless abyss.

Your mouth is bleeding. Your stomach burns like a wildfire. You think the blistering has started. Your fever skyrockets into the hundreds, sending you into delirium, before healing magic returns you to reality. You find that you rather enjoy delirium and the temporary relief from pain it brings you. Even in your sleep, pain manages to seep through.

Seep. Interesting choice of words.

Seep. Like the chemical liquid released when you crush a petal.

Seep. Like your blood into the soft comforter on your bed.

Seep was kind of a funny word. If you say it enough, it begins to sound like it isn’t real, like the word is made up. You liked doing that to words. Words like ‘dishes’. Crib. Soccer. Seep.

Seep.

Seep seep.

Seepseepseep.

Seep.

 

You eat more flowers.

 

“Chara!” You hear your father call you from your sleep. “You have visitors! Your mother and I are being called to Snowdin, and these two will continue to heal you while we are out.” He seems hesitant to leave, knowing that Toriel will not be here to heal you in his absence, but eventually trudges out, opening to the door to reveal Sans and Papyrus.

You didn’t want them to see you like this. You distract yourself with your word game.

Skeleton sounded funny if you said it in your head enough.

Skeleton.

Skel. E. Ton.

Skeeeeleeetooon.

Skeleton. Weird word.

A voice snaps you out of your daze.

“CHARA? CAN YOU HEAR ME?” Bony hands are placed on your stomach, sending a new variety of green healing magic through you. It seems less powerful than your parents’, thankfully. You feel the most powerful magic from Papyrus, but you can also barely make out a small trickle from Sans.

“Y-yeah, I can hear you,” you cough out. That cough sends you spiraling into a series of hacking coughs that make your head spin and ache. You pull your hand away from your mouth to see it covered in blood. You wipe it off on a towel placed next to your bed for this very purpose.

“IF YOU DON’T MIND ME ASKING… WHY ARE YOU SO SICK? DID YOU GET STUCK IN THE COLD AGAIN?” Bless this poor skeleton. Back when you had fallen from the tree in Snowdin you had told him that cold could get humans sick or kill them. That seemed like an eternity ago. In reality, it was nearly a year ago, but even that was a long time.

You let out a weak chuckle, wincing at the pain it sends into your head. “No, no, Papyrus. I’m just sick,” you say. “These things randomly happen to humans sometimes. This is nothing but bad luck,” you lie.

Papyrus stays silent, pressing his hands a little further into your stomach. You begin to drift off again, but in the haze of sleepiness you think you hear Sans scoff in disbelief. That isn’t good. You would need to convince him. Later… later…

You fall asleep again.

When you wake up, the healing magic pressing into your stomach is just the trickle of Sans’ magic alone. Papyrus must be out of the room. You wonder what he’s doing. If there was one thing you regretted, it was that your sickness stopped you from freely traversing the house yourself.

You keep your eyes closed, trying to keep your breaths long and deep to fool him into thinking you were still sleeping. You feel his hands twitch slightly.

“i know you’re awake,” he states plainly, and you open your eyes, conceding defeat.

“How?” You whisper, unwilling to speak, lest it trigger another bloody coughing fit.

“before you started faking, your breath had already started to get faster, kid.” Your eyes are barely open, but you think he rolls his eyelights.

“Well, sorry, I guess,” you say in a hushed voice, before closing your eyes again. It took too much effort to keep them open. A couple minutes pass, before Sans says something that sends a chill down your spine.

“so why are you doing this?”

“D-doing what?” You say, trying to sound incredulous. “Getting sick? Sorry that I can’t control my own illness,” you sarcastically state, trying to mask your nervousness.

“just stop. you aren’t fooling me. i can spot lies before they are even said, something about your face gives you away every time. so i’ll ask again. why are you doing this?”

“I’m not doing anything,” you growl, beginning another round of coughs. After the blood was dealt with, you focus your gaze on him. He looks disbelieving.

“you know,” he whispers, “i can keep a secret, if you need me to. i won’t tell your parents.”

“Yeah, right,” you groan, rolling your own eyes. Your stomach sends sharp pains shooting through your body, and you crunch up, forcing Sans’ hands off of you while you ride out the pain. After the pain has subsided, he gently replaces his hands.

“chara.” He says, looking directly at you. “i promise.” He promises? From what you’ve heard, Sans never promises anything.

You break.

“F-fine, I’m doing this on purpose,” you admit nervously. Not that he didn’t already know that.

“why?” He says, but then stops you from responding. “no. i get it. the prince must have taught you about SOULs,” he scoffs. “you’re killing yourself to free us.” His gaze softens a little.

You nod clumsily, closing your eyes again.

“you know that this won’t solve anything, right? if you kill more humans, it’ll just start another war.”

“You don’t know that.”

“kid,” he demands, tone growing firm. You force your eyes open, only to see that his sockets are completely dark. Your breathing hitches in your windpipe, and you can feel your throat closing up. For someone younger than you, he sure could be terrifying when he wanted to be.

D O Y O U W A N T Y O U R F A M I L Y T O D I E ??” You flinch back in your bed, letting out at small shriek at the immense pain it brings you.

“They won’t die!” You whisper-scream. “They’ll have my SOUL!” His eyelights return, gaze dropping to the floor.

“you really have no idea,” He glumly states. “you have no idea.”

“They’ll be better off without me, anyway!”

Sans takes his hands off your stomach and looks you square in the face.

“they will mourn you until the day you fade from history,” he states, then choppily stands up, and leaves the room.

For the first time in a month, you are alone with your thoughts.

 

______

 

In another month, you are unable to eat.

Aside from the blossoms you force into your stomach, that is. You eat them daily, and you can feel that you are finally gaining traction against the healing magic coursing through your system. Maybe if you damage yourself enough, you will be irreparable.

You are so tired.

“Chara?” Your mother asks you one day, “Are you sure that you have no idea what is wrong with you?”

“No,” you sleepily reply. “I just… I juuuust…,” But then you fall into unconsciousness, spiraling into the dark.

Small snippets of sound slip through the daze. You think you hear the beep of a camera.

“Chara...Can you hear me?” Your mother’s voice breaks through the black, and you want to respond, but you can’t. You try to force your body to move, and you think you manage a twitch. “We want you to wake up!”

“...Chara,” you hear the baritone voice of your father, soothing your headache. “You have to stay determined! You can’t give up!” He sighs. “You are the future of humans and monsters…”

The voices swirl around you, passing through you, mixing together to form a soup of words and phrases and feelings and you just want it to stop, stop!

Some time later, you hear your brother’s voice, alone for a change.

“Psst,” he hisses, grabbing your attention once again, “Chara… please… wake up… I don’t like this plan anymore. I- I… No, I said… I said I’d never doubt you. Six, right? We just have to get six… and we’ll do it together, right?” He asks, hopefully. You want to nod, to say ‘yes’, anything to confirm his question, but you just slip further into your daze.

You wake up two weeks later.

 

Good. That meant you were closer to your goal.

 

“Chara! You are awake!” Toriel exclaims, happily surprised. She nudges Asgore, who had been staring off into nowhere. They were both healing you, but at this point, you don’t think it’s doing much.

“I am very glad that you are awake, little one,” your father says softly, running his hand through your sticky hair, sticky from sweat and blood and probably some vomit. He doesn’t seem to mind. “We were beginning to worry that you wouldn’t wake up at all.”

You want to laugh, but luckily, you aren’t strong enough to. You wanted to die already, this tug and pull was boring. It was funny, you wanted so desperately to die, but the healing magic just kept tugging you back. You think that at this rate, though, it won’t be able to keep up with your chronic consumption of flowers. You are lucky that you chose a notoriously fast-spreading flower, or the garden would be bare by now. Asriel tells you that the flowers are like a hydra. You pick one and two more grow in its place. He says that they’ve nearly killed all of the other flowers. Just like they’re killing you, you note.

You open your mouth to let out some kind of witty remark, but are somewhat shocked to find yourself completely unable to speak. Your voice is simply gone. You suppose that it isn’t that much of a surprise, you were shoving an extremely poisonous plant down your throat every second you could. You try to move your hands instead, but are mildly distressed when you can’t do that, either. Your hands feel like they are being held down by heavy weights, clinging to the bed like two strong magnets.

If your parents notice your plight, they don’t say anything. You suppose you shouldn’t complain. You wanted to die, and when you died, you wouldn’t be able to talk either, right?

Dying hurt so much more than you expected.

It was worth it.

And you deserve the pain, anyway.

 

 

You fall asleep for a month and a half.

 

You finally open your eyes on the first of September. It’s been four whole months since you got sick. You were sure that the healing magic was the only thing keeping you going at this point.

“Woah! Chara!” You hear Asriel shout. “You’re awake! You’ve been out for a while, like almost two whole months!” He sounds disbelieving. He immediately runs out of the room to get your parents, who are soon by your side, brushing your hair out of your eyes and speaking in hushed, lowered voices.

“We were thinking to celebrate your birthday early this year,” your father says, “since…” the end of the phrase goes unsaid, but you know what it is. ‘Since you are dying’. But he can’t say that. Or it could’ve been ‘since you can’t stay awake long enough and you may be asleep on your actual birthday’.

Whatever the end was, he doesn’t say it, and you don’t ask. Since you can’t leave your room, they bring the party to you, bringing in balloons and streamers.

You attempt to speak, and with some water, you barely manage to get some words out. At least you could do that much, last time you hadn’t been able to communicate at all.

“A-are Sans and Pap-Pa-Papyrus coming?” You ask, remembering last year’s party. Toriel and Asgore exchange a look.

“We haven’t asked them,” Toriel explains gently, before rushing to continue, “but we can, if that is what you would like!” She looks like she doesn’t actually want to invite them, but you suppose that it would be hard to deny a request from your dying child.

You nod softly. You barely even feel any pain anymore, which you think is more of a bad sign than a good one. You were still coughing up blood, and you still threw up from time to time, so the fact that you were numb to most of the pain couldn’t be good. That is, if you wanted to live, it wouldn’t be good. For the plan, it was marvelous.

 

_____

 

Your party is rather depressing, to say the least. Not that you expected it not to be. At some point during the event, you realized that you had never shown Papyrus the clone of his scarf that you had knit, and ask Asriel to take it out for you. You don’t think you’ve ever seen Papyrus so overjoyed in his life. He had an admirer, or so he thought. More of admiration of his scarf, if anything. You realize that you are dying, and you won’t be able to wear it due to your fever. You are dying.

 

You let him keep the scarf.

 

There’s no cake. It would be unfair to have one, since the birthday girl in question (you) can’t really eat it. You receive gifts, but you aren’t exactly sure what the purpose of giving them would be. You won’t be alive long enough to enjoy them. It’s simply wishful thinking. Except for two of the presents. Two were something, something useful.

When all others have left the room, Papyrus gives you the first of the only two useful gifts. He wraps you up in the biggest hug he can manage, which, considering the fact that he is half a foot taller than you when standing, is fairly big. When you question his motive, he simply states,

“YOU LIKE MY HUGS. AND YOU ARE… SICK.” You’ve said it once, and you’ll say it again. Bless. This. Skeleton. You also notice how he dances around the subject of your impending death, but don’t say anything.

Somehow, the hug is warm, and despite your fever, you find it nice. You think you feel something wet, akin to tears, drip onto your sweater, but when he finally pulls away, his face is dry. Then again, the hug had gone on for much too long, they may have dried.

 

The next gift was from your brother.

When the party is over and cleaned up, and everyone is sleeping in their respective homes, you ask Asriel a question.

“Azzy?” You wheeze, and he’s at your side in an instant. He grabs your hand and leans in close. “When I- when I die... can you… can you promise me something?”

“Anything, Chara,” He says, and you think he’s already crying.

“Will you t-take me to the bed of gol-golden flowers in my town when I’m gone?”

He nods, and you struggle to lift and hand to his face. His cheeks are wet with tears. “Yes, of course. B-but, what’d you mean ‘when I’m gone’? We’ll be together the whole time, right?” He asks, desperately seeking reassurance. You let out a long breath that might have been a laugh and nod, feeling your stiff neck struggle against the movement every step of the way.

“Thank you, Asriel,” you say, letting your hand drop. You are so tired. Asriel doesn’t leave your side. You are exhausted. Maybe you should just sleep. Your eyelids are heavy. Your breath is shallow. Your heart rate is slowed. You haven’t eaten in almost a week, aside from nutritional drinks and the ever present flowers. You are in pain, despite the mild numbing.

And you are tired.

So, so tired.

 

You fall asleep, with your brother by your side.

 

And you never wake up.

Chapter Text

It’s dark.

Dark.

Darker, yet darker.

But you aren’t conscious, not really. You aren’t conscious enough to even observe the fact that it is dark. You simply float in a blissful daze. You feel nothing. You think nothing. Nothing could move you. Nothing.

Nothing.

There are words floating in the darkness.

R E S E T

C O N T I N U E

You don’t want to do that. You feel an urge to choose something, but you have a niggling feeling that you had something to do. Something you had to wait for. You can’t remember. You can hardly think. If you were alive, you would compare this to a drugged out daze, a cloud that blocks all complex function. But you weren’t alive.

 

In the world of the living, your brother sobs over your lifeless body, cold and stiff. He’s been sitting there for three hours. He knows that he needs to go to the Surface soon, or risk his parents waking up, but he finds it difficult to get the motivation to move.

Until your SOUL, motivated by the presence of a monster with the power to absorb it finally moves. It gently floats out of your chest, a brilliant red jewel containing everything that you were. Everything that you will never be again.

His sobbing slows to a stop as he notices your SOUL. Eyes widening, he accepts the job he has been given, and reaches out to your SOUL.

For a minute, he simply cups it in his paws, looking at the gleaming surface. How did things get this way? He sits there, helpless.

Then, by some instinct, he closes his hands around it, brings it up to his chest, and gently presses it in. Power immediately surges through his body, changing his form by force. Asriel grows tall, taller than even his own father, horns sprouting from his head, black marks appearing on his face to signify the presence of a human SOUL.

 

You wake up.

Asriel!” You cry in his mind, sensation exploding into vibrant color, smells, sounds, sights. How could you miss this, when you hadn’t even known that it was missing? Yet, you found yourself experiencing immense relief.

“C-chara?” He exclaims, and you trill happily. You were alive. Well, no. Not really. But you were in a body that didn’t hurt, that never coughed up blood and was able to eat things other than those infernal flowers. You were gonna force Asriel to eat so much pie after this. Or chocolate. Or both!

It wasn’t quite the same as having your own body, but it would do. And you were sure that Asriel would never kick you out if he could help it. You weren’t really sure how this stuff worked.

Asriel! I’m here! It worked!” If you had a body, you’d be jumping up and down right now. Maybe you could ask Asriel to jump for you…

“Oh my god! Chara!” He says out loud, and you giggle. He must sound ridiculous to someone who didn’t know that you were in here.

I can hear you when you think, you know,” you say, smiling. How did that work? You didn’t have a face to smile with, but you could feel the sensation of your muscles moving and stretching to form one. You almost felt like you were in a movie theater, where Asriel’s eyes were the screens that you saw out of. Except, there were no seats, just a black, endless abyss, and you couldn’t see your body if you looked down. You mentally try to wave some form of a hand in front of your face, doubling back when you don’t see a thing. This would take some getting used to.

“Oh!” He says out loud again. Then he concentrates, thinking, “Like this?” You nod your invisible head, and are surprised when it seems like he knows that you nodded.

Can you tell what I’m doing? Like nodding?”

“Yeah.” He hums thoughtfully, and you frantically wave a hand in front of your face again, laughing when the sudden movement makes him jump. “Weird…” He says out loud.

He turns his attention to your old body. You frown. You didn’t think you’d miss it, but looking at it filled you with a sense of loss, a dull ache that made you feel like you were trapped. That was you, and you weren’t there. Looking at your own face, at your own hair… you missed your body. You supposed that was natural.

It was like looking at a list of ‘never’s.

Toriel will never cut your hair again.

You will never wear that sweater again.

You will never be able to run or jump of your own accord again.

You would never be recognized as the person you used to be. If anyone saw you, they’d see Asriel, not you.

You would never get a hug from Papyrus again.

You would never grow older, seeing your own body change and grow. You were Asriel now, kind of. It was hard to parse together.

Asriel reaches out to pick up your body.

Or tries to.

 

Only one arm moves, the other lying lamely at his side.

“Agh! What the heck?” He screams, and you frantically shush him. You don’t want to wake your parents.

Maybe…,” you try to move his arm. It responds easily. Interesting. It seems that you shared control of this body. Some of those ‘never’s were gone now, at least.

Woah! Chara!” He thinks. “You can move me!” He seems mildly upset about this, actually, but is squashing that part to make you feel better. He knows that you deserve to be able to do something, and-

Wait.

You could understand what he was thinking? Not just what he said when he was talking to you, but his actual thoughts. Well, maybe not his thoughts, but more like his intent. He intended to make you feel better, so that is what you could understand. You could get used to this. You wondered if he could understand you in return.

Let’s move together, to pick up my body,” you say, and Asriel nods in confirmation. You move the right arm as Asriel moves the left, and together, you pick up your own dead body.

This was weird. Like really, really weird. Your head lies limp in Asriel’s arms. Asriel was shaking, deeply perturbed. You didn’t blame him. You wonder where exactly your SOUL is now. Would Asriel’s SOUL have absorbed it, or was it just hanging right next to it?

Blood drips out of your body’s mouth and smears on Asriel’s sweater. Oh jeez. You heft your body up a little higher, gasping when you notice your locket peek out from under your sweater, popping free and hanging towards the ground.

Your locket.

Your locket.

Asriel? Can you-” The rest of what you were about to say is interrupted when Asriel quickly unclasped the necklace from your neck and attaches it around his own. Both necklaces hang on Asriel’s chest, occasionally bumping into each other with a metallic ping. You hope that they don’t pop open, the clasp is magically altered to only open when they touch.

You would be in awe at the symbolic gesture, but you didn’t have time for this. You had a job to do. You mentally poke Asriel to get moving, and he takes control of one foot whilst you take the other, walking out the bedroom door like it was the most natural thing in the world. This should be more difficult, this shared ownership, but it comes as easily to you as breathing does. Probably as a result of being able to sense his intentions, but that was just a guess.

Together, you walk out of your home, down the silent, gray corridors. This was peaceful. Part of you was excited, you hadn’t been out of that bedroom for four months. Being cooped up in there hadn’t been great for your mental health…

You enter the golden hallway. You feel just as uncomfortable here in Asriel’s body as you do in your own. The unexplained feeling that something was meant to happen here stayed with you. You weren’t sure that Asriel even felt it. No matter. You exit the hallway as quickly as you entered, still carrying around your own corpse.

The throne room was as overrun by buttercups as Asriel had said. It was very strange how quickly the flowers had spread. You couldn’t make out any other kinds of flowers, besides the ones already wilting. These flowers really were killers.

Asriel nudges you past the large door behind your father’s throne, a place you haven’t been before. This must be where the Barrier is. After passing through a couple of randomly empty chambers, you reach it.

It’s terrifying.

It’s actual appearance isn’t what makes it so scary. It’s just a large, glowing wall, slowly alternating from black to gray to white, then back again. It almost reminds you of something… you can’t quite put your finger on it until you remember when you fell. You had seen a gray wall like this when you looked up at the hole, hadn’t you?

What makes it so scary is the aura it gives off. You have a feeling that it encircles the entire mountain, living, humming within the walls. No one could dig out. No one could even try. It isn’t even malevolent, not really. It’s just there. A strong, immovable force. That was fine. You weren’t trying to move it.

Together, you and Asriel, one human SOUL and one monster SOUL…

Together, you slip through.

The first step feels like stepping into a cold shower. The part of Asriel that you control shudders, but honestly, so does the part that Asriel controls. You pause a second, before continuing to push through. It feels like breaking through jello, if the jello didn’t want you to be passing through it. You felt like a rule breaker, like a cheater.

You emerge on the other side, body in tow.

It’s nighttime on the Surface. Good to know that the Underground’s time syncs up with the time up above. It would’ve been maddening to return, knowing that the time of day it was down there didn’t match up with how it actually was.

The stars twinkle and shine, and you hear a small gasp from Asriel. You mentally beat yourself. You had forgotten that he had never seen the stars before. Now that you were seeing them again, you didn’t know how you had ever lived without them. Humans really took this stuff for granted, it seemed.

You were on a cliff face overlooking the sea. Far away, you can make out a beach, forest, and even a small city. It was beautiful.

Asriel doesn’t want to leave, you can sense. He wants to stay for a while longer. You accept his wish, and together, you sit at the edge of the cliff, watching the stars.

You had time.

 

You had more than enough time.

Chapter Text

You wouldn’t have minded sitting there, looking at the stars forever, but you had a job to do. So that’s why when the sun had risen and you and Asriel were relaxed, you mentally judged him to stand up, and pick up your body. Your body had begun to stiffen, the onset of rigor mortis already setting in. You could tell that it made Asriel nauseous, but he doesn’t say anything.

The forest is tranquil, orange light from the sunrise gently reflecting off of leaves shining from morning dew and making beautiful colors. If you weren’t stuck inside a prepubescent goat and carrying your own body, this would be a joyous moment. You were back on the Surface. It wasn’t home, but it was nice.

I’ll… I’ll lead the way to my town,” you tell him reluctantly, and you feel him nod, newly grown horns scraping the leaves above you.

You give him directions as he slowly picks his way through the forest, unused to annoyances like insects or tree roots. You pitied him, but were at the same time excited that he got to try this stuff. And soon, everyone would get to see this! You could hardly wait! You didn’t know if it would hurt your family more to think you were dead forever or to know that you were alive within Asriel, though… you probably couldn’t talk to them.

After a couple painstaking hours of helping Asriel through the forest, you can finally see the edges of civilization. Asriel’s eyes widen in excitement. You can feel the buzz of his thoughts running through his head, but you don’t bother mentally reaching out to grab one. It was an invasion of privacy, anyway.

As he walks to the edge of town, you think back to when you were stuck in the weird dark place. At the time, you hadn’t had conscious thought, but now you could remember everything crystal clear. It was all so… empty. Was that death? It slightly scared you.

And what was with those words? Continue? Reset? This wasn’t some video game, where you could go to your last save point. It wasn’t even a good fanfiction of a video game, though you were sure that your story would make for excellent writing. The words had disappeared as soon as Asriel absorbed your SOUL, not that you would have used them anyway. You had a job to do.

When he reaches town, he pauses, asking a silent question that you immediately understand through your weird intent-reading powers. Where are the flowers? You mentally nudge him in the direction of the center of town, praying to a god that you don’t believe in that no humans find him. What you wanted to do was find a hospital, somewhere where people die all the time, and take some SOULs there. If someone attacked you, though, you suppose that their SOUL would be just as useful. You weren’t going to let any human hurt Asriel.

He steps carefully and quietly through the streets. The town hasn’t changed much in the two years you’ve been gone. The streetlights are still busted due to the gang kids that sling rocks at it, and occasionally shoot them. You didn’t know how those kids got guns, you (luckily) never got close enough to ask. The streets were still in heavy need of repair, and the only cars you could see were junkets parked outside of apartment buildings. Home sweet home, you think sarcastically, and you think Asriel hears you.

Is it always like this?” He asks you, and you nod. Asriel sighs. “I guess even the Surface has its ugly parts,” he decides, and you couldn’t agree with him more.

The town is strangely quiet, although considering the fact that it’s dawn, maybe it isn’t so unusual. Without interruption, you reach the center of the square.

To find an armed militia.

Great.

You don’t know why your town even kept a militia. You know they have the right to, under the constitution, but it’s 201X, they don’t need one! You wonder why they’re here. Maybe they’re just training? You and Asriel stay ducked in an alleyway, trying to silently observe the situation. The part of Asriel that you control jumps when a loud voice begins shouting.

“We know you’re there, MONSTER. Come out now, and maybe we won’t kill you.” Shit. How did they know, you look around at the house windows. Several of them have little people peeking out from behind curtains. You had thought that those windows were empty, but you guess they weren’t. Did someone rat you out? Is that why the streets were so empty?

Maybe Sans was right after all. You would just get your family killed. Maybe you could convince Asriel to just leave your body here and go back?

Asriel-” You begin, but he’s already walking forward, still holding your body. “No! Asriel, don’t! They’ll kill us! At least put my body down!” Asriel refuses vehemently, the afterimage of your own determination coursing through his nonexistent veins.

I promised you,” he says simply, and it’s all you can do not to curse at him, so mentally wail on him and insult him so maybe he’ll turn around and you can be safe and warm and eat pie and

He moves into the center of the square, gently placing your body into the flowers as the barrel of several dozen guns are trained on him from the other side of the clearing. The yellow flowers push up around your body, creating a cushion that supports you evenly. It looks almost serene.

Then all hell breaks loose.

“Wait. Is that… a child?” One of the men pipes up, sounding disgusted. How could he tell that Asriel was a child? The man looks frantically around at his fellow militia members, calling frantically. “This monster killed a child!” Oh. He was talking about you. Stupid fucking humans. Stupid fucking humans sticking their fucking noses where they don’t belong.

Asriel stands there like a deer in headlights, frantically gulping air, mouth opening and closing as he struggles to find something to say. You feel a burning sensation in the corners of his eyes, and a small twinge of annoyance hits you.

C’mon, Azzy. Let’s just go.” Asriel doesn’t respond. “ASRIEL!” You shout, snapping him out of his daze.

He begins to turn away to leave, but is stopped when a loud bang sounds through the air. Through your connection, you can feel a sharp pain radiate through Asriel’s side. The fuckers shot him. The pain is probably far more intense for Asriel, but it was still pretty painful for you.

Asriel crumples on the ground, but almost immediately struggles to stand back up again.

Asriel! Fight them!” You had the power, and there were far more than seven people here. Just this group alone was more than enough to break the Barrier.

No! I won’t!” He insists vehemently, and you can only stand there helpless as he moves what limbs he can, dragging himself towards your body.

What are you doing? They’ll kill you!” You try to force control of his limbs, but some block exists there, preventing you from moving them. You weren’t moving the ones that were in your control, so Asriel was physically pulling himself along the ground. That probably wasn’t helping.

You help him stand up, again demanding him to fight the humans.

Can’t you see? They’re worth nothing! Nothing, compared to you!”

Everyone is worth something, Chara.”

Not humans!

Asriel is silent for a moment, quietly walking towards your body as gunshots ring through the air. You can feel most of them hit their target, your brother, but he doesn’t even react.

You are,” he says, simply. You want to scream. You’re going to scream.

He kneels over your body and picks it back up. You can see the sticky seeds of your favorite flower clinging to your clothing. There’s blood in the flowerbed.

What are you doing?! You are going to die, Asriel!” You can feel his thoughts, and recoil in horror when a ‘so be it’ crosses his mind. “You don’t… you don’t care?” Your mind fills with fury. “Was this all for nothing?! Did I DIE for nothing?!” Asriel flinches, but turns away, walking back towards the forest as bullets continue to riddle holes in his back.

When one hits the back of his knee, he staggers slightly, but manages to stay upright, clutching your body to his chest. You once again try to wrest control of his body from him, to force him to fight, but it’s no luck. You can only exist, forced to sit and watch as your brother is filled with bullets, but continues to stagger on. Maybe if he hadn’t grabbed your body, he’d have gotten less injured, but he took the time to retrieve you.

You felt guilty.

You had caused all of this. You had been happy, why had you fucked it up? You could have lived with your family, away from this scourge of humanity, but you just had to kill yourself.

By the time he reaches the edge of the forest, the humans chasing you two have fallen away, and Asriel takes shelter in the woods. Now that the adrenaline (or some monster equivalent) has stopped flowing, you can really feel the pain of his wounds. The pain is probably tenfold for him.

He staggers through the forest, powering through the roots and bugs that had previously been annoyances. Your determination courses through him. You could feel his intent clear as day. Have to get home have to get home have to get home.

You realize that Asriel is probably dying.

The rest of your time on the Surface is spent in a daze, too in shock from the realization to really process anything. The last thing you see of the Surface is a flash of a blue sky before you pass through that cold shower that was the Barrier and are back home.

Your mind was buzzing. Your plan had failed. You hadn’t even considered the possibility. Your plan had failed and Asriel was going to die.

Your brother was going to die.

And it was all your fault.

Asriel makes his way through those stupidly empty corridors before finally collapsing in the throne room. As you look out through Asriel’s eyes at the buttercups surrounding you, you realize that this was probably Asriel’s attempt at keeping his promise as best as he could. Yellow flowers… they weren’t the same, but they would do for a final resting spot.

And it seemed like it would be Asriel’s as well.

Asriel’s breathing begins to slow, and his small struggling movements begin to become sluggish. Asriel is dying. Oh god. Sans was right. Sans was right.

Asriel was dying because of you.

You think one of the bullets had made its way into Asriel’s chest, because his breath is oddly staggered, like something was hampering it. You could hardly feel any of his pain, and that filled you with frustration. This had been your plan, you should be the one in agony right now, feeling the pain of his death. You deserved this far more than he did.

Oh god.

Oh god.

Asriel was dying.

Asriel’s weight fully slumps onto the ground, all pretenses of struggling finally stopping. He was beginning to succumb to his injuries.

You wonder where your parents are.

“Asriel… why didn’t you kill them?”

His response comes across, clear as day.

We shouldn’t hurt anyone. They… they were just trying to avenge you… they thought I had killed you.

They didn’t even LIKE me when I was up there! They just wanted to hurt you because you’re a monster!

But I wasn’t going to hurt them.

You… you idiot,” you cry, not very venomously. You couldn’t bring yourself to fully yell at the poor guy. “Don’t you know? In this world… it’s kill or be killed.

 

And that is the last thing you say before Asriel collapses into dust.