“it’s a beautiful day outside,” he says.
“birds are singing, flowers are blooming...”
“on days like these, kids like you...”
You die, and die, and die, die die die die--
You come back.
You’re strong. There’s hate in your bones, stained down deep like the dust matting your hair and dulling your knife-- but weapons don’t really matter, not when the ugly twisted bits tucked down deep in your soul like lost friends keep you sharper than sin. Sans may be strong too, but all you need is one hit, just one--
He just doesn’t give you the chance.
It’s infuriating. It’s exhilarating. You’ve grown to love the rush of power that comes with every single soul you take, but this...it’s a dance. It’s a challenge. With every hit he lands, even as you bleed, you can’t. stop. smiling. Sans could only ever wish to tell a joke as good as this.
When he finally, finally refuses to take his turn, keeping you bound in endless pacifism, you can only smile and smile and smile as you fold your legs underneath yourself and sit down to wait.
Oh, you don’t have to wait very long.
Sinking your knife into his bones is the final satisfying beat of a withered, dying heart, and
You stare, blank, as he rattles off some words you can’t seem to hear, his clothes staining red and (red and red and) spilling onto the floor. You can’t understand. Monsters don’t bleed. Only humans bleed. Monsters don’t bleed, they don’t--
Sans stumbles past you, out the door you came in through. He rasps under his breath,
“papyrus, you want anything?”
Your blood runs cold.
You go back.
You die, again. But this is a dance you’ve learned well, and even while all you see is red seeping through the corners of your vision it’s inevitable that you fall right back into the same old steps.
“just...” He spits blood, his words dragging themselves from his throat. “don’t say i didn’t warn you.”
All you see is red.
The next time you begin your dance, your legs start shaking hard enough that you stumble, and you don’t bother getting up.
“kids like you should be burning in hell.”
Monsters don’t bleed. They can’t. But the evidence is on your knife, on your hands, clogging your nose and your throat -- everywhere, everywhere -- pooling across the gold-tiled floor every time you look at it wrong.
“listen,” Sans tries. “friendship. it’s really great, right?” He closes an eye, holding a hand towards you in a gesture of peace. “let’s quit fighting.”
It’s a trick. You know that. You’d spared him, once, more out of curiosity than anything, and had felt an unexpected vicious thrill when he’d cut you down. But--
For a second. Just for a second, you want it so bad
Your knife clatters to the floor.
The faint look of surprise on his face is a perfect imitation of the way it was the first time.
“you’re sparing me?” he asks, disbelieving, and your fingers tremble in...something. You don’t know. You don’t know. “finally,” he breathes, almost to himself, and then, “buddy. pal. i know how hard it must be, to make that--”
“Stop,” you choke. He blinks, startled -- you broke the script, you aren’t supposed to break the script -- and you’re shaking, head to foot. Every death, every soul, every single choice you’ve made settles around your neck and pulls until you’re struggling to breathe and you fall to your knees, gasping. Sans could kill you now, easy. He doesn’t.
You don’t understand.
“Stop,” you say again, though you don’t know to who this time, and.
You go back.
You wake gasping.
Golden flower petals curl soft under your fingers, the distant memory of sunlight warming your face. It is so, so quiet.
Your LOVE is gone.
You claw at the flowers under your fingers and you sob. You don’t understand. You don’t understand anything. Echoes of mistakes from lives past constrict your heart every time you breathe, and, were they mistakes? You can’t tell anymore. A part of you so greatly want to cry yes while another wants to snarl and growl out no, no, they deserved it, endlessly, they must suffer--
When you’re finally composed enough to continue, Flowey is waiting for you.. “Really, Chara?” he asks. You can’t look at him. It hurts. Everything hurts. You shouldn’t be surprised that, when Toriel comes to your aid, you can’t look at her either.
You can’t take this.
Ignoring her cry of protest, you push past her, running towards the ruins. She hurries after you but you’re small and fast and know exactly where you need to go to hide; you wait, barely breathing as she rushes past, calling for you. You don’t move until she’s gone.
Your fingers twitch. Confusion bubbles in your gut, agitation rising in your throat along with it; you need to do something, anything, you need to--
You hurl yourself at the first Froggit you come across. You tear it apart with everything you have; it only has time for one terrified croak before it’s dust in your hands, and you scream, and you scream, until your throat is raw. When Toriel finds you it’s with you shrieking, lunging for a Whimsun with scratches down your arms and face from attacks you couldn’t care to dodge. She intercepts, grabbing you around your middle, and even when you kick and hit her with your stick with all you have in an attempt to get her to let go she holds you fast. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. She needs to let you go, the monster is getting away, you can’t let it get away; you need LOVE like you need air--
She doesn’t let go. You cry (you never stopped) and scream (keep screaming) until you can’t anymore. Disgust with yourself, with everything, threatens to choke you. Toriel pets your hair.
“It is alright,” she says, her voice shaking, “child, it’s alright. I’m here.”
This isn’t what’s supposed to happen. This isn’t how this goes.
You go back.
Maybe, if you don’t open your eyes, refuse to move, nothing will have to change.
Ha, ha. Pathetic.
You turn over on the bed of flowers, burying your face in the soft petals, drinking in their scent. There’s a weight in your chest. You can feel it, pulling you down. Inviting you in. The taste of dirt lingers.
What’s wrong with you?
You’re not sure it matters. All you know is that, right now, you are so, so tired. Maybe you always have been.
When Toriel leaves you, the first thing you do is call her to say hello, and ask to call her Mom.
If someone were to ask you why, you wouldn’t be able to say.
It’s not just you, Mom.
Exiting the ruins with the stick still in your hands feels almost like absolution.
Everyone is a ghost to me.
Flowey isn’t there.
If anything, you suppose this should reassure you. Having to see him again so soon; you don’t know how you’d manage it, knowing what you’d planned to do...before. But.
It hurts, somewhere.
You have the feeling you’ll need to start getting used to that.
Curling up in the corner of the dark, vacant room before the beginning stretch of your real journey is all the consolation you allow yourself. The entire world shrinks to a few inches with your head between your knees. Breathe. You breathe.
Don’t let yourself cry.
Pathetic, you sneer at yourself, rubbing your eyes with a sleeve of your sweater, and you stand again to make your way.
The rough bark of the stick is nothing at all like the firm, smooth black of your knife’s handle. It’s a comfort.
Sans knows. That’s a comfort, too.
Neither of you say anything. Not outright, at least. You don’t need to.
He looks at you like a cornered animal.
You try not to think too much about which one of you is the one being cornered.
How did I miss this, you wonder as you cautiously step through the brothers’ house, glancing up at the door to Sans’ room every so often. Papyrus bounces eagerly as he waits for you to take your fill. How could I possibly miss this.
You leave with a new friend.
You leave the Underground with five more.
Saying goodbye to Asriel had been hard. It didn’t matter how much you may have wanted to save him; there was a certain way these things were supposed to go. Happy endings are always better left in stories.
Wrung out, stretched thin, exhausted; all these things describe you when you finally make it up to the Surface.
you’re the type of person who won’t EVER be happy.
But your friends are. They have their happy endings. They deserve them, too; each one of them has suffered so much heartache. More than they remember. You can smile, for them. You can be happy, for them. You can pretend as much as you need to if it would keep Mom and Papyrus and Undyne from worrying about you.
And it works.
It would just be so much easier, if Chara would leave you alone.
It gets all mixed up sometimes. The endings, in your head. It’s hard to keep track of what is what when there are so many little different outcomes packed into your half-dreamed memory. It probably shouldn’t surprise you. In the end, “probably shouldn’t” describes a lot of things about you.
You probably shouldn’t be in the kitchen, for example.
You never go in if you can help it. It’s not that you don’t enjoy cooking; you just don’t trust yourself around sharp things. It’s easy to think everything’s fine and under control until you slice open your finger on the razor edge of a knife.
(Undyne had been horrified, shrieking WHAT WERE YOU THINKING as she bolted for a towel to stop the bleeding. You couldn’t have said a word even if you wanted to. How were you supposed to tell your friend that you hadn’t been thinking, not really? That it was better you than her?)
You’re in the kitchen.
You don’t remember how you got here.
Panic rises in your throat as you glance around, wondering what you’ve done this time; it’s not new, losing bits and pieces of your day to find things broken, or worse. It terrifies you. That no one else seems to have noticed yet has been your only comfort. It’s hard enough to weather their concern over other, smaller things.
Taking a small, shaky breath, you stuff your hands in your pockets and duck out of the kitchen before any accidents can happen.
Or you would, if there wasn’t a knife on the floor.
Your breath catches. Did you put that there? Did Undyne or Papyrus leave it out, or maybe Toriel dropped it? You make to step over it.
No. No, this is stupid. You can’t keep running like this. Carefully, stretching the tremors out of your fingers, you reach down and pick it up.
You laugh, quietly. Of course. Of course nothing happened. What were you expecting? The entire world to end the second your fingers met the handle? You’re starting to think your fears are getting the better of you.
Shaking your head, you turn to put the knife back in drawer.
It’s full of dust.
You slam the drawer shut.
There’s only silence for a good few moments as you stand, breathing heavily over the counter. You don’t look up.
“uh, sorry. didn’t mean to scare.” Sans let’s the silence resume for a minute when you don’t say anything. “what you got there?”
The knife. It’s still in your hands, you remember. Not answering him, you open another draw and shove it inside, not meeting his gaze when you turn back around to exit the kitchen again. He doesn’t comment on that not being where the knives go.
He doesn’t say anything at all.
Sans is careful as he steps into the room. He only straightens out of his slouch when he pulls a hand out of his pocket to open the drawer. He takes a breath. If his eyes go dark, at least there’s no one around to see it.
There’s only knives.
He quietly slides the drawer shut.
It’s not the nightmares that bother you. You thought they would; after everything, dreaming of people you’ve hurt and waking up in a cold sweat is supposed to happen, right?
Your sleep is dreamless, though. Dark. Empty.
It’s the waking that scares you.
It’s the same thing every time. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night, your room dark, and there’s always something. Something standing above you just where you can’t see. Quiet, always, and motionless, watching you, waiting for you to move. You never can.
Sometimes, just barely, you can see its knife.
You never really sleep much on nights like that.
Talking now is beyond you.
You used to talk a lot, back at the beginning. Chattering away with Toriel and Papyrus, and Alphys too when you first met. There was always something you wanted to say and a clear way to say it. You never thought about it much.
Time passed, though. Time that wore on you, weighed you down. No one has said anything to you outright, of course, but the way you avoid using your voice more and more hasn’t gone unnoticed. You always write things out now instead; Papyrus offered to teach you sign language to help compensate, but it’s slow going, and you get frustrated with it fast enough that your lessons usually turn into impromptu cooking sessions.
It’s not that you don’t try to talk. It’s not even that you don’t want to. It’s just that you’ll open your mouth, and there’s...
“Reset, Frisk,” something said, dragged unbidden from your throat not two nights after the barrier had finally broken, “and I’ll give you your words back.”
You bit your tongue, and you can still taste the blood in your mouth.
“Oh, sweetheart!” Mettaton waves at you from the top of a chandelier. How did he even get up there? You decide not to question it and wave back. “I thought I was the one to be fashionably late, but it appears I’ve been bested! You could have warned me, darling, we would have made a hell of a grand entrance together!”
Sorry, you sign, and are grateful when Toriel places a hand on your shoulder and takes over.
“Traffic bested both of us, I am afraid.” Toriel looks over the chandelier with a critical eye. You think she’s wondering where it even came from in the first place as much as you are. “But we’re here now, are we not?”
Your attention is drawn away by a “Yo!!!” from across the room, and a smile finds its way on your face when you see who it came from. Kid barrels at you through an open doorway. For once, you see it coming from miles away, and you dive forward to break Kid’s fall just before they trip on their shoelaces.
“Woah!” They’re huffing for breath as they grin at you. “Saved my skin again. Thanks, Frisk!”
Laughing, you move to help them up. You would warn them to be more careful, but it’s not like they can help it much when they, well. Don’t have any arms to tie their shoelaces with in the first place. At least their ever-present black eye looks more faded than usual.
“Dude, you should’ve gotten here like ten minutes ago!” They’re practically jogging in place in their excitement, stumble already forgotten. “Papyrus just got finished telling this awesome story about training for the Royal Guard and Undyne challenged him to an arm-wrestling match to demonstrate some of their old training maneuvers, and I’m pretty sure Alphys is gonna have to replace that table, and, uh, maybe some of the wall--”
“Oh, dear.” Toriel’s expression is one of concern, but it’s not entirely convincing when she’s trying to cover her smile with a hand. “Only that much? At least they are improving.”
“It sounded like a real show,” Mettaton says, leaning back to place a hand on his forehead and pout at you all dramatically. He certainly looks impressive with his leg propped up in the air like that. “For a second I thought this whole place would come crumbling down!”
“Perhaps we should go join them,” Toriel suggests gently. “Before we miss out on much more.”
“I’ll keep watch for any more stragglers, beauties!” Mettaton lounges into another pose as you all head further into Alphys’ new lab. You think he’s enjoying himself.
“I am going to go mingle,” Toriel says, squeezing your shoulder again. Kid has already rushed past you; to find Papyrus again, undoubtedly. “Be sure to find me if you need anything, alright? I have my phone on me if you need to text.”
You nod, watching her wander off to stop by a monster whom she quickly greets and shakes hands with. Whatever they’re talking about, it looks like they know each other.
Alphys is the first to spot you when you step into the room where much of the festivities are underway. From how quickly she makes her way through the crowd of monsters to get to you, you’d almost think she was waiting for you.
“Frisk! I’m glad you could make it! I was starting to worry you w-wouldn’t get here in time...”
Of course I made it. The smile you give her is small, but hopefully reassuring. The party goes on for another couple of hours, doesn’t it?
“O-oh! Yes, of course, it was silly of me to worry.” Alphys turns away a little to readjust her glasses, laughing nervously. You wonder if she’d stayed out here with everyone else waiting for you, and feel a little bad about it. You know how much she dislikes large groups of people.
You tap on her shoulder to get her attention. You look nice tonight. Did you pick that out?
Alphys blushes, tugging a little at her dress when you point to it. “Undyne helped me pick it out, actually... I wore it back Underground, when Undyne and I got together, and I- I thought it would be a nice callback, you know? Considering...y-yeah.”
You blink. That’s right, she’d been wearing that dress on your, uh, “date”, hadn’t she? You can’t believe you forgot.
Scratch that. You can, actually.
“An- anyway, now that you’re here, I’m, uh, going to go find Undyne before--”
She’s interrupted by the sound of a crash from somewhere on the other side of the room. Both of you look over.
“Found her. Um, excuse me.”
You wander around for a bit after that, sticking mostly to the walls at the edge of the crowd. There’s a large refreshment table lined up along one wall. A lot of the food looks familiar, and your suspicions are confirmed when you find Muffet standing over by the chocolate spider fountain, surveying the party with a keen eye. Plural. Eyes.
“Help yourself to anything you like,” she greets. “No need to worry about paying this time, deary. The nerd has already compensated us for the catering costs, ahuhu~.”
You send up a silent prayer for Alphys’ wallet.
Not very hungry but wanting to give yourself something to do, you take a spider donut from the artfully arranged pile and sequester yourself off to a nearby corner. You recognize a lot of the people here, from your journey through the Underground, but most of them you’ve never talked to more than once or twice. Such a long time ago, too. There are still quite a few you don’t remember meeting, though, and you remind yourself that there was still so much of the Undergound you never saw. Forests, cities, entire lakes... You doubt Alphys’ old lab would’ve had enough room to host all the monsters who’ve decided to attend.
You look around the group of monsters, tucked safe and happy inside the laboratory walls. A Whimsun flies by to snatch up a mini spider pot pie before flying tearfully away. Turning your gaze upwards rewards you with the sight of hundreds of multicolored balloons floating up by the ceiling. Thinking about why they’re there makes your chest feel tight.
She did good. They’ve all done good.
“hi,” you hear whispered right next to your ear, and you nearly drop your half-eaten donut in surprise. Oops.
“oh no,” Napstablook says, tears beginning to well up in their eyes. “i’m sorry.... i didn’t mean to scare you..... i just wanted to say hi, since i saw you from inside the wall......”
The perks of being a wall ghost. You shake your head. It’s fine.
“oh, well, if you’re sure....” They look reassured when you nod. “anyway, i think your friends are looking for you... maybe you should check your phone?”
What? You slip your phone out of your pocket, nearly hissing in surprise when you see how many texts you’ve gotten. Looks like you left it on silent by accident. You look up to thank Napstablook for the message only to find they’re already gone. Hopefully you can find them again before you leave.
Two of the messages are from Toriel, asking you where you are. There’s two from Papyrus, one of them saying he has a surprise for you, the other saying not to tell anyone because “IT’S A SURPRISE!” The most recent ones are from Alphys; you skim over them before responding to her.
is everything ok?
Barely a few seconds pass before you get a response. Yikes.
everything’s fine lol!! ^.^ are you still in the main room?
You’re about to text back a confirmation when you’re stopped short by another message.
actually it doesn’t matter just go down the main hall second door on the left, i need to show you something OK?
Well, alright. One thumbs-up emoji later you’re exiting the room. The transition from the loud clamor of the party to the quiet hallway is almost jarring; there’s only the sound of your footsteps on the linoleum floor, echoing against the walls. You wonder what it is Alphys wants to show you.
Main hall, second door on the left. You pause for a moment before you open it.
All you see is a shuffling movement before the lights are suddenly flipped on. There’s...
Everyone is there.
This room is smaller than the one you just left, but that hasn’t stopped your friends from piling themselves in. Papyrus, Undyne, Alphys, Sans, Mettaton, Blooky, Asgore, Kid; they’re all grinning at you around a table loaded up with cake and...pie? Are those presents?
Toriel approaches you where you’re still standing in your confusion.
“Come, my child.” She takes your hand, meeting little resistance as she leads you further into the room. “It is a good surprise, don’t you think?”
“You wouldn’t BELIEVE how hard it was to not say anything!” Undyne pounds on a nearby table with her fist. It groans in protest, but thankfully there’s nothing on it if it breaks. “I was sure you’d end up finding out. Especially since Papyrus kept dropping hints!”
Wait, really? You look over to Papyrus, who’s posing with a hand on his chest. “HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO RESIST? A PUZZLE IS ONLY GOOD IF THERE IS A WAY TO SOLVE IT! AND I MAKE THE GREATEST PUZZLES!!”
“It was a puzzle?” Asgore asks mildly. “I thought it was a party.”
“either way...” sans shrugs, grin on his face. “looks like nobody spilled the bones.”
Toriel snorts a laugh at the same time that Papyrus groans. Using the momentary pause in the conversation while you can, you tap Toriel’s wrist. She looks down at you with a smile still on her face.
I don’t understand. You look around at them all, who’ve stopped to see what you have to say. What is this?
“WHY, IT’S A PARTY! A SURPRISE PARTY. ARRANGED BY YOURS TRULY, AMONG OTHERS.” Papyrus pauses in his explanation. “OH! DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT A SURPRISE PARTY IS? WORRY NOT! I WILL EXPLAIN IT TO YOU. YOU SEE, A SURPRISE PARTY IS--”
He stops when you wave your hand to get his attention, shaking your head. I know what a surprise party is. I just don’t understand.
Mettaton tilts his head at you from where he’s half-sitting on a table. There’s a party hat on his head; you’re not entirely sure how he’s getting it to stay in place. “It’s for you, Frisk. A celebration!”
“It is true that there is already a party ongoing to celebrate the year anniversary of the barrier breaking.” Asgore’s voice is deep and rumbling, and you turn to him. “But we all realized there was still something missing. Someone who we still needed to thank.”
“Yeah!” Kid beams at you. “Someone who deserved a party more than anyone!”
“Frisk.” Toriel kneels down to match your height. She envelopes your hands in hers, warm and gentle as the smile on her face. “It was a year ago that you fell into the Underground. A year ago that you accomplished the unthinkable and freed us all. Even then, you went above and beyond what was asked of you in your duties as Ambassador, continuing to help us when nobody would have blamed you if you had decided otherwise. Is that not deserving of our thanks?”
Unable to find the strength to remove your hands from hers, you just stare at her for a long moment. Her smiles becomes concerned as the silence grows. She’s interrupted from saying something when Papyrus coughs.
“THE CORRECT ANSWER IS YES!” He pauses. “THANKS AND ALSO A PARTY.”
The all look so...expectant. Expectant and happy, smiling, waiting for you to say something. How long have they been planning this? Since Asgore suggested a commemorative party to celebrate the destruction of the barrier? Before then, even?
You look to the presents on the table. The cake, and...the pie. The cards. They did this for you. But they don’t know. They don’t know what you did. The day you really first fell into the Underground, when you slaughtered every single one of them for the crime of being in your way. They don’t know how much you enjoyed it.
Your stomach lurches. There’s bile in your throat, tears stinging in your eyes, but you bite down on them both. It’d be awful to thank them for their kindness with a breakdown. When you take in a shuddering breath, you just hope they mistake it for a good sort of overwhelmed gesture. You remove your hands from Toriel’s hold.
Thank you... For once, you’re grateful for not being able to talk. It means they can’t hear the way your voice would shake. It really means a lot. Taking another breath, you give them all a smile as you mentally sweep every negative feeling you can reach aside. It’s a party, right? Nobody likes a crybaby.
That wasn’t you.
Nobody likes a crybaby, Frisk.
The smile on your face refuses to go away, only falling as short as a grimace as you feel yourself starting to hyperventilate. No- no, not here, not now. Anywhere but here. Any time but now.
You take a step back towards the door. You can’t look at their faces.
I need to go, you sign.
You turn, and run.
Shaking as you are, you only manage a couple of feet into the hallway before you trip. Momentum has you sliding across the linoleum floor, landing you in front of one of the other doors in the hall, and you practically lunge for the handle. It’s unlocked and flies open under your weight; you stumble into the room, gasping.
It’s empty. One of the rooms Alphys hasn’t found a use for, yet. That’s good.
Your hands are shaking hard enough that it takes you four tries to turn the lock on the door. The second it does, you lean your weight against it, letting yourself slide to the ground.
Stop it, you think, burying your face in your knees. Stop it. Leave them alone. Leave them alone, please.
“M-make me,” you choke out. But it’s not you. It was never you, was it? Your shaking intensifies and you bite your lip, hoping the pain will drive them back.
(It never does.)
Minutes pass. You’re not sure how many. Your focus is mainly spent on trying to keep yourself together -- trying not to fall apart. Because you would ruin everything here, wouldn’t you? You’d manage to hang on just long enough, only to fail yet again, only to-- no, no, stop, that isn’t you.
There’s the sound of shuffling from across the room. You freeze. You don’t look up.
“figured i’d try not to scare you this time. i think it worked.”
More shuffling noises, getting closer. The sound of slippers on tile.
“you’re probably wondering how i got in here, huh? well. it’s amazing how many shortcuts one place can have. i try not to use the ones that lead behind locked doors, for obvious reasons, but... hey. figured i’d make an exception.”
If he’s waiting for you to say something, he’s going to wait a long, long time.
“...look.” Sans sighs. “i know these things can be pretty overwhelming. especially when it comes to big shindigs like this.” he pauses. “aw, shindigs-- i wasn’t even trying for that one, i gotta remember that. anyway. just know it wasn’t our intention to upset you, alright frisk? and hey, if it helps any, i’ve got some--”
“Piss off, fontfuck.”
Sans pauses. You can practically hear him trying to take in what you just said. What they just said, but, at this point, what’s the difference? You move from biting your lip to biting your tongue again, your face growing hot.
“...heh.” He chuckles. “can’t say i’ve ever heard that one before. and i mean that. nice one, kid.” You hear him move closer. There’s the soft rustling of cloth as he bends, and you stiffen as he places his hand on your shoulder. “why don’t we go somewhere a little nicer for you to clear your head?”
You can’t stop yourself from looking up this time.
It’s Sans. He’s kneeling just inches in front of you, and the look of surprise on his face changes just so when your eyes meet.
It’s enough to make your control slip degrees.
The grin spreads uninhibited across your face. “Chug bleach so at least you’ll clean the floor next time you bleed.”
He takes his hand back.
Smart of him.
You/they rise, shakily, and where before Sans had been just in front of you, he’s halfway across the room. His eyes are dark, and you/they just smile, and smile, and smile...
“so that’s how it is, huh?” he says quietly.
“Yup,” you say, and in one smooth movement you have the door unlocked and slamming shut again behind you as you run out. Sans doesn’t even have time to stop you.
You run right into Asgore.
“Careful, little one,” he says, steadying you with hands on your shoulders before you can fall back. His voice is thick with concern; a stolen comfort. “Are you alright?”
You can’t find your voice for a moment. You don’t take long to appreciate the irony. You’re too busy screaming in his face. “Let me go!” With that, you push him forcefully enough that he stumbles -- or maybe he just wasn’t expecting it. Either way, he falls into the opposing wall hard, and even though it’s not enough to actually break it or him, the following thump is loud.
You whirl around. Toriel is there, standing just outside the second door on the left. You can see Undyne behind her.
“Frisk,” she says, glancing between you and Asgore and taking a step forward. “What--”
“Stop calling me that!” You swipe a hand to the side and she stops, shock clear on her face. Your smile has turned ugly; more a sneer than anything. There’s something rising in your gut you couldn’t name, making your blood burn, making your face hot. Or maybe you could, but you just don’t want to. “That’s not-- that’s not my name! It’s Chara! Don’t you remember me?!”
For a long moment, there’s only the sound of your breathing, labored and harsh. The look on Toriel’s face turns from startlement to horror to something...small. Sad.
“I am sorry,” she says quietly. “I did not mean to make you cry.”
“I’m not crying,” you snarl, but you are, aren’t you? The heat that’s been building behind your eyes is spilling over your face, a pathetic testament to just how broken you are. How low you’ve fallen. All thanks to them. You hear movement behind you, and you look over your shoulder to see Asgore rising. Hurry, back against the wall. Not cornered; just waiting. Keeping both of them in your sights.
The looks on their faces... It’s pity. Hurt. Sorrow. It’s...
“Stop looking at me like that!” You clench your fists, wishing desperately for your knife. “Stop it! I’ll kill you! I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again!” It doesn’t come out half as threatening as you wanted it to be, for all that you’re screaming at the top of your lungs. Asgore and Toriel share a look. It hurts, somewhere, and you pound your fist against the wall to get their attention. That’ll come back to bite you, later. You don’t care.
“Do you think this is how it’s supposed to go? You should be dead! All of you!” Looking past the two Boss Monsters gets you the confused looks of everyone else just behind them; Alphys, Papyrus, Undyne-- Sans is nowhere to be seen. Typical. But he’s just one missing among an otherwise full audience, and you grin; let’s see Frisk SAVEing the aftermath of this situation.
“Don’t you know?” You look between each of them, smiling, smiling. “I killed you all because Frisk asked me to. All those years spent waiting for someone strong enough to come along-- they called for me. They welcomed me with open arms, and in the end it only took one hit for me to cut you down.” You point to Toriel. You scowl when your hand shakes, but recover your smile quickly as you clutch it back to your chest. “Not even sweet little Papyrus was safe for all he tried to get through to them!”
There’s a quiet, confused nyeh? from behind the two large monsters in front of you. You ignore it.
“Undyne, Muffet, Mettaton-- we wiped clean the entire mountain of monsters by the time we got up to the last corridor. They had fun.” Your grin turns stilted. “But in the end, it was just some sick sense of perverted sentimentality that made them reset.”
“Oh no,” Alphys gasps. You can’t see her, but you turn your head to face where her voice came from anyway.
“Oh, yes!” Your tone is sickly sweet, patronizing. “Our little scientist has finally figured it out! Yes. Frisk has...DETERMINATION.” You turn back to Toriel and Asgore just in time to see their expressions shift to horrified understanding. It’s less satisfying than you thought. You push past it. “More DET than I ever had. They reset the timeline. And they lied.” The smile on your face fixes itself into a rictus. “What sick sort of person kills someone and then tries to be their friend? Huh? Lying to your faces, pretending to be someone they’re not? What type of monster waits this long to reset? Because they will!” You laugh. You can’t seem to make yourself stop. “Now that you all know, after how long they’ve worked to keep it from you, they don’t have a choice!
“So reset, Frisk! Bring us all back to the beginning! Run away! It’s what you’re good at, isn’t it?!” Your voice echos your own desperation back at you in full. Endless reverb. You sound like a child. “What are you waiting for?! RESET!”
So that’s how it is. You laugh, and you laugh, until you’re wheezing for breath. No one else speaks.
“Just remember,” you breathe. You don’t know if anyone else can hear you. You don’t know who you’re talking to. You don’t really care. “You made me do this.”
Fist raised, you lunge.
“Some say the world will end in fire,” Toriel says.
(“What are you reading, my child?”
You hold up the book in your hands, and she beams.
“Oh, poetry! From the Surface. Which is your favorite?)
“Some say in ice,” she says. “From what--” Her voice cracks. She wavers. “From what I’ve...”
“...From what I’ve tasted of desire...” Asgore’s voice is quiet as he takes it up. “I hold with those who favor fire.”
(“What will you have me read tonight, children?”
“It’s Chara’s turn to pick,” Asriel says, tucked under his blankets. Asgore laughs.
“So it is! Chara?”
Reaching under your bed, you take the book, holding it out to him. The book opens right where you want it. Asgore settles in his chair.
“Let’s see here... Ah! Here we are.”)
“Stop it,” you grit out. “What-- what are you doing?”
Toriel takes a breath. “But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of-- of hate--”
“To know that for destruction, ice...” Asgore places a hand on Toriel’s shoulder. “Is also great, and... would suffice.”
(“Do you really think the world will be destroyed like that, Chara?”
Asriel kicks his feet over the ledge, staring out at the capital. You’re struck with how easy it would be to push him.
“That one day everything will just...end?”)
“Stop,” you choke. You’re crying again. “Please.”
“Chara,” Toriel says, and she catches you as you fall.
You’re sobbing. Great, ugly heaves. You haven’t cried like this in decades; you haven’t felt like this in decades. Making up for lost time, you suppose, burning you from the inside out. Turning you hollow.
One great hand rubs circles into your back, a smaller one petting your hair.
You must look like a mess, all huddled together on the floor like you are.
“Child,” Toriel says, “we never forgot you. How could we ever forget you?”
“Your mother and I missed you dearly.” Asgore is very, very quiet. “...We still do.”
“M-mom.” The word burns like acid on your tongue. Bittersweet. “Dad, I- it was my fault, everything, I told you I was bad. I’m a- I’m a demon. I ruined everything--”
“Chara,” Asgore interrupts, not unkindly. “We have all made mistakes. Some...more than others. That does not make you a demon.”
“The f-fire,” you hiccup. The tears won’t stop. “The ice, it- it’s me, swallowing everything up. I’m so t-tired. I haven’t felt, I- I haven’t felt for so long, I don’t know what to do--”
“It is alright, child.” A hand cups your cheek, and you find your face being tilted upwards. Toriel is smiling at you. She’s crying. Does she know she’s crying? “I do not know what do either. But we will figure it out together.”
Sobbing again, you hold onto them with everything you have, and you promise yourself you’ll never let go.
(“...Well. Even if it does... I’ll always be there for you, until the very end. Okay?”)
Sans walks back into the hallway not knowing exactly what to expect. Seeing everyone standing around looking decisively whole is definitely a plus, though. Even if they do look pretty confused and/or disturbed.
Better than dead.
He looks down where the King and Queen are all huddled up with the kid, who is markedly not-stabby and signing to them with half-dried tears on their face. He only catches a part of a name before he turns away. As long as everyone’s still alive, it’s none of his business.
“so,” he says to no one in particular. “what’d i miss?”
Papyrus wipes a tear from his eye. “I DON’T KNOW, BUT I AM HAVING FEELINGS ABOUT IT.”
Sans pats his brother’s arm. “there there, bro. happens to the best of us.”
It’s morning out.
There are probably worse things to worry about than a good night’s sleep. Maybe it shouldn’t trouble you. After a year’s worth of trouble, though...
You look at your hands. Your fingers. Your skin, your nails, your hair; despite everything that’s happened, they’re yours again. It hadn’t been a sure thing for a minute there.
Despite everything... well. Either way, it’s only ever been you, hasn’t it?
Toriel is waiting for you in the dining room, your breakfast already prepared. She smiles where she sits at her usual spot. “Morning, dear. Sleep well?”
Morning, Mom. Yawning, you pull out your chair. You have to pause a moment to take this feeling in. Sitting here, listening to the birdsong, feeling the warmth of the sun through the window.
It takes a second of working your tongue in your mouth. Feeling out the word. When you quietly whisper “Fine,” it comes with surprising ease. Not “easy”, though, not yet. Getting there.
Taking up your silverware in your hands, you and your mom trade a smile. Somewhere else in the house, a phone rings.
It’s a brand new day.