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The Color of Mourning

Chapter Text

You don't know how Toriel would react, if she found out.


That only serves to make the guilt worse.


Luckily, your love of sweaters and constant feeling of being cold helps in hiding your little secret.


You aren't sure why you're doing what you're doing; all you know is that sometimes, a knife felt good in your hands.


That sometimes, Chara has come back - or at least, that's how it feels. That familar, oppressive feeling. And the constant realization of just how much of your life has gone wrong.


Even if all of your troubles back then had been seen through rose-colored glasses. Now, you know.


You sit in the bathtub, thinking. Suds rise around you and cover your body; only your legs stick out against the other side of the porcelain tub. If a toilet is a porcelain throne, is this a glass bed? You feel like you could fall asleep in it, sometimes, if it wasn't for the fact - and Toriel's persistent warnings against and fear of - you drowning in the bath water.


If you were honest, though, sometimes that thought appeals to you. You drape a damp arm over the edge of the tub and scrape a razor - the shaving kind - over the side of your wrist, at the turning point between veins and arm hair - until you draw a droplet of blood.


Red. The color of your Soul. The color of blood. Of mourning.

Part of you wants more. Wants to do something to stem the need to cry, but you stop at just the droplet.


No real pain this time; you are afraid of what might happen if you cut too vigorously and hurt yourself too badly. Especially when your skin is so thin and wet. You don't want to alarm Toriel; besides, it doesn't take much to abate the reincarnated Chara.


It started when you first realized that many of your 'friends' had originally set out to kill you. It seemed obvious, now, but you'd been ten at the time. You were young enough not to feel the danger, but old enough to know about consequences. Even when it hurt, you didn't think of dying; you felt invincible.


Since then, the others - Undyne, especially - became harder for you to be around. The fish-warrior's aggressive insistence that you were the best of friends had never really felt genuine, anyway, even if she had offered to beat up that one boy that broke your heart...


That was another thing; life after the barrier broke had been a complete failure. At least, for you. Everyone else that claimed they cared about you was happy; Alphys and Undyne were together, Toriel had her teaching job... Even Mettaton and Napstablook had reconciled and were making music together.


Everyone had gone to the surface. Achieved their dreams.


But you? You tried to be ambassador, for a while. But many of the humans didn't want to listen to a kid. Perhaps you shouldn't be so hard on your monster friends; the surface had been hard on them, too. They'd been relegated to certain areas of land, had restricted rights, etc, etc. Like the Native Americans, back in the day. Toriel had taken the helm of fighting for equality when it was clear that you yourself could not handle the task; you had been put back into a human school, though you had stayed with Toriel, having given up on finding your real parents.


It had been their abandonment of you that drove you to the top of Mt. Ebott that day. They had dropped you off at a park near the mountainside, told you they would be right back, and then disappeared. You waited for hours, with nobody around, until it got dark. You were hungry and tired and scared to be alone, and you remember crying, wailing for your Mummy and Daddy.


Maybe they'd gone up the mountain and disappeared, you told yourself. Maybe they were in danger and needed your help! You had picked up a nearby stick and raced off for the Mt. Ebott, desperate to save them, and then you fell down, and the rest was history.


You'd met many a monster along the way, and through all that time, you were desperate to be loved. That's why you refused to fight. That's why you flirted - something you'd picked up on during times when Mommy brought boys that weren't Daddy home - that's why you sought to fulfill their every need. All to be loved.


It didn't matter that the monsters had hurt you. Mummy and Daddy had hurt you too, sometimes, but they had always apologized after, so everything was ok, right?


And you'd figured, at the end of it all, that monsters were so much kinder than humans, and that it didn't matter your real parents didn't want you, because you had another family right there who had seen the sun and was eager to embrace you as you were. You would all turn over a new leaf, together.


Except it didn't turn out that way. Not completely.


You scratch a pimple on your face with one pruny finger. Puberty hadn't given you much except zits and a new-found sense of shame. Even six years after the barrier had been destroyed, you still looked like the ten year old that nearly broke her face falling down a mountainside.


People still mistook you for a boy, and that did wonders for your self esteem. Even when you tried to dress girly - grow your hair longer, put ribbons in your hair - but that only made it worse. The boys called you a fag and a monster freak. Even the boy you liked at the time. You were sure, at first, that he was only teasing you because he liked you; you were still in that awkward just-shy-of-preteen phase, and when you tried to flirt with him, the things you said got you into trouble.


The teacher told you that a young girl like you shouldn't know about the things you were talking about, then she chalked it up to you being raised by monsters.


You stopped talking in class soon after that.


Then at home.


You had always been a quiet child, so Toriel didn't say much about it.


It bothered you that no one noticed. That no one, not even your monster friends, seemed to care. They didn't need you anymore. Not now that they were free.


You stand and pull the plug on the bathtub, dry yourself off, and breathe a heavy breath. The small cut you'd made on the side of your wrist has stopped bleeding. You get dressed, then stand outside the bathroom door. You can hear Toriel humming, and you smell butterscotch cinnamon pie in the oven.


You prepare to face the world again. The smell of the pie fills you with determination.


You couldn't help but wonder, though. Could you face another day living this way, barely breathing in this harsh, human world?


It's kill or be killed, you'd been told. But what happens if the person you want to kill... is yourself?

Chapter Text

The kitchen is pleasantly small and clean. Toriel has always kept a clean house. The room you are in now is homey and familiar. Pleasantly furnished, but not too extravagent. Quaint, you might call it. The way she furnished the place, her perfectionism, her orderliness... It makes you think that she was never cut out for the royal life in the first place. All she has ever seemed to want is a family, and now she has one. Yet another dream that's come true for someone else...


Toriel lays a heavy hand on the kitchen table. Not banging it, exactly, but it carries enough force to get your attention.


"Frisk!" She cries, looking concerned. "Are you listening to me?"


You hadn't been; you'd been staring off into space, almost as though you had fallen asleep sitting up. "No, sorry - What was that, Mom?"


Her gaze softens a little when she hears you call her that. It has always warmed her heart and gotten you out of many a sticky situation. Toriel had been a loving mother, if not a bit overprotective and smothering. Not that you could complain, especially given the previous upbringing you'd had. Toriel definitely gave you lots of love, and that love is apparent by how she says her next sentence.


"I was asking you what you wanted for your birthday, child. You still haven't told me yet."


Your birthday. Tomorrow, you remember, wincing at the thought. You would have preferred to forget your birthday, mostly because it would mean smiling for the camera and pretending. That was the hardest part. Always pretending for Toriel and Sans and Papyrus that you didn't want to shrivel up and die.


"Nothing," you say at last, shaking your head with a small, forced smile. "I don't really need anything from you, Toriel."


Toriel gives you a suspicious look. Normally, when you call her by her first name, that's you distancing yourself from a situation. Now, it appears like you're hiding something from her... "Very well, then. Then you would not have any qualms about a family get together with all of our friends? I know everyone has been dying to see you, especially Papyrus and Alphys. And you know Alphys - if she says something, you know it has to be bad."


You smile a little more, though it hurts to do so. "Really, Mom, it's ok... I'd rather..."


You don't want to have to explain why you want to be alone on your birthday. It's too complicated, and even you can see how odd and weird and loser-ish that is.


Toriel narrows her eyes at you. "Frisk Dreemurr, is this a teenage thing? Are you planning on running off with some boy or girl somewhere?"


"What? No! Of course not... You know I don't have any human friends..." You are impressed by Toriel's acceptance that you could possibly be a lesbian. You aren't, but it isn't like most people to be so open to that. Then again, Toriel isn't most people. She's a monster, and monster culture is a lot different than human culture.

"Who said they had to be a human, hmm?" She wriggles her furry eyebrows. "Don't you remember that time you flirted with me? And the date with Papyrus?"


You blush. "Mom! I was like, six."


"I'm just saying, sweetheart. You never talk about school or friends or crushes..."


"So what? School is boring, people suck, and love is fleeting. It's how life is."


Toriel sits up straighter, more concerned than ever. "I've never heard you talk like this, child. What's wrong? You never used to be like this..."


"I'm just saying it's not that big a deal. I don't pester you about whether or not you still fuck Asgore!"


"Do not use that tone with me, Frisk!"


You stand up from the dinner table, pie barely touched, glass of milk still still shining in the candlelight and the moonlight falling in through the open window. Toriel looks stunned. "And you wonder why I don't talk," you spit, hurrying up the stairs and into your room. You slam the door to drown out the fact that you can hear her voice calling you.
You flop on your bed and the next thing you know, you are sobbing into your sweater.


You hadn't meant to blow up like that. You feel as though you'd betrayed a secret, as though you had breached some line that should never have been crossed. Would Toriel hate you now, too? You wouldn't blame her if she did.


After all, you hate yourself, too.


You weep into your arms and pillow, and after fifteen minutes - you stare at the clock through your tears, and on occasion, your eyes will clear for you - Toriel still has not come to console you. That hurts. Perhaps she really is that angry with you? What have you done...? Suddenly, a frenzy comes over you. You ransack your room for something - anything - that's sharp. After ripping through your desk drawers, you find it. A stray paperclip. 

You unfold it to form a point.

And you cut. 

Your wrists. Your legs. Your toes. 

The pain, nothing more than sharp scratches, feels almost good with each slice. Blood wells up with each quick flick of the hand, and you are free. 

Your tears land in the cuts and it stings but it feels good. Sobbing gasps and snot protrude from your mouth and nose with your effort to keep yourself from crying. Not even that - but to keep from being too loud. 

You half hope Toriel will come in and see all this. 

See your hurt. 

Understand.

Care. 

But nobody comes.


When at last, your eyes dry and your fever has ended, you are covered in blood and too exhausted to face Toriel. You bandage your wounds, change your shirt - now also flecked with blood - you would tell Toriel later that it was just "spotting" - and fall into a bitter sleep. In your dreams, there is the laughing of single, maniacal flower, chanting in your ears: "I'll kill everyone you love."


Had you not done that already? In the past times when the loneliness was too much?

The following morning, you wake with a start. A sense of panic washes over you; for a moment, you think you're back there again -- back in the field of yellow flowers. But you made Toriel change your sheets from yellow to purple, so when moments like this happened - and they were happening more often now than you would like to admit - your fears would immediately be calmed.


Seven.


Seven years since you and the entire race of monsters went free. 


Six. Six that you've had to endure feeling this crushing, oppressive sense of helplessness. Part of you wanted to go back to those times when you were a kid. When you wore those foggy, flower-colored glasses and saw the world with the sense of innocence you now lacked.


You look at the clock.


It is 8 am. The sun shines through your white-curtained windows, illuminating the tea stain you'd managed to inflict upon one of them one evening, as you danced to Mettaton and Napstablook's latest album. Toriel hadn't been angry, but you were ashamed anyway.


Toriel. The thought of your goatmother and what happened last night hits you hard in the chest. Oh, gosh, no... What have you done?


You sit up and find a slice of pie, covered in plastic wrap, at the foot of your bed. The sight of it makes you tear up all over again.


You love your goatmom.

Chapter Text

You creep downstairs, your steps feather light.


You can hear the sound of clinking pots and pans in the sink. Toriel is doing the morning dishes. Your sleeves hang low over your shoulders and slip well past your wrists. You feel no need to wear a bra. Besides, you like the wolly warmth against your chest.


Toriel's ever-shedding fur, once spun and dyed, made wonderfully warm clothing. You do a grooming once a month, to keep the fur from clogging up the drains, and you help her spin and dye it into woolly yarn. She'll then crochet it, or sew it into hoodies or line pants with it to keep you - and the neighborhood poor - warm during the winter. You like helping her, then. It's a reminder that you can still do some good in the world.


How the woman manages to keep from overheating was a mystery to you; then again, she often uses fire magic, so you figure that she is impervious to the heat.


A bright stream of sun beams through the window. Toriel is wearing her favorite purple dress underneath a pink apron. One ear flicks back as she hears you approaching, though you stand well away from her, by the table. You grip the back of the chair you sat in the night before, guilt rising into your throat.


"Mom," you begin. "I..."


She turns, a bright smile on her face and a platter of cake in her hands. "Happy birthday, my child!" She says, coming toward you. The events of the night prior seem to have been forgotten.


She lays the cake on the table. It's small with blue frosting and it has little pink stripes on the sides.


"When I first saw you, you were not much bigger than this cake!" She quips, laying her hands on your shoulders. "I wanted so much to protect you from everything... I still do. Maybe that is selfish if me, but..."


"Mom, please," you whimper, lip quivering.


"Even though this is not the Underground, perhaps I have smothered you too much. I should not have pressed you to talk about things that you did not want to talk about. And for that, I am sorry, my child."


You're crying again. You slam your still tiny body into her large and fluffy one, sobbing into her muumuu.


"There there, my child," Toriel soothes, patting your back with one enormous paw. "Do not cry! Today is your special day..."


The door slams open. "HUMAN!" Says a familiar, high-pitched voice. You pull yourself away from Toriel's embrace to see Papyrus shouldering his way inside. He puts his hands on his hips, striking his 'heroic' pose. "I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO BE SAD ON YOUR BIRTHDAY! OBSERVE!" He ducks an arm behind him and moves away from the doorway, into which Sans is stepping. Behind him are Undyne and Alphys. "ALL OF OUR WONDERFUL FRIENDS ARE HERE!"


"hey," Sans greets, an almost painful grin on his face. Seriously, you've never known the guy to frown. "what's got you feelin' so bonely?"


"SANS!" Papyrus cries, stomping one massively booted foot.


Toriel smiles at the joke, though she still looks concerned.


"Yeah, punk," Undyne agrees, striding in and poking your shoulder. The gesture is strong enough to make you take a step back, though you know from experience that this is as gentle as Undyne can get. She gives you a toothy, if not a bit worried, grin. "What's got you down?"


"I-is everything all right?" Alphys asks in her typical fashion. Even now, she is dressed in a lab coat, looking as though she were ready to work. She has her fingers up to her mouth in her common gesture of worry. Perhaps she used to bite her nails?


"Everything's fine," Toriel says at last, looking between them and you. "Frisk and I were just talking over a spat we had last night. But everything is all right now. You're ok, aren't you, Frisk?" She looks at you, as if to confirm some barely-withheld hope.


You nod, plastering a smile on your face. "Yeah, guys. I'm fine. Just a little embarrassed." You swipe a sleeve-covered hand through your hair, to keep it from your eyes. You've got pretty bad bedhead, and you can't help but wish no one in the room was looking at you. "I didn't know you were coming."


"OF COURSE WE'VE COME, FRISK! AFTER ALL, YOU ARE OUR FAVORITE HUMAN!" Papyrus gives you his best supportive smile.


"We wouldn't dare leave you alone on your birthday!" Undyne chirps, embracing you in a bone-crushing hug.


"Good... To... Know..." You gasp, flailing helpless limbs and fighting for breath.


"Uh, Undyne," Toriel says quickly, to get her to let you go. "Why don't you... come help me cook? I've got a long day of preparations ahead of me if I'm to prepare Frisk's birthday dinner."


"OH! A BIRTHDAY SURPRISE. I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL JOIN YOU IN YOUR EFFORTS TOWARD CULINARY PERFECTION AS WELL. YOU WILL NEED MY EXPERTISE!" He hurries to wash his hands in the bathroom as Undyne sets her sights on the dirty dishes in the sink. "FEAR NOT, HUMAN! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE BEST BIRTHDAY DINNER THAT COULD EVER BE HAD!"


You can't help but smile at his enthusiasm. A genuine smile, this time. There was something about Papyrus - by far one of the gentlest of the monsters you had come across, that always put you at ease. Maybe that was why you connected with him so well back then...


You both put on fronts because you hurt inside. You both wanted desperately to be loved...


"Alphys, would you mind covering the cake and putting it away, please?" As Toriel talks, you are so caught up in your thoughts that you almost miss the look between her and Alphys, which seems to say, 'If you watch my back, I'll watch yours.' By which, you assume to mean that they were singling out Undyne and Papyrus, and between them would work toward keeping the house in one piece. Alphys, understanding at once, gives the former queen a nod and does as she's asked.


"so. what about breakfast?" Sans questions. "have you eatten yet, kiddo?"


"No. If you couldn't tell, I just woke up..."


Sans gives you a kind smile. "well, if Toriel doesn't mind, maybe i can take you to grab a bite to eat? my treat."


"That's a wonderful idea, Sans!" Toriel responds, smiling gratefully to him. "Would you like that, Frisk?"


You nod. Air would be nice, after the isolation you felt in the house. Being alone would be nice. Or at least you would have less people to deal with. Sans was good company for someone like you; he slept so much you almost didn't have to keep up a conversation. He could sleep anywhere. It was almost like he was a narcoleptic.


When he wasn't asleep, though... That's what unnerved you. There was an otherworldly sense about him, like he knew things. Putting the thought aside, you ask to be excused and head up the stairs to get ready.


You rip a brush through your hair, brush your teeth, then go back downstairs where the others are waiting. Sans is leaning against the doorframe, arms in his pockets. Upon seeing you, he stands up straight.


Papyrus and Undyne are fighting over ingredients while Toriel and Alphys are trying to keep things civil. It looks like they are going to have their work cut out for them.
Sans gives you a welcoming smile. "you ready to go, kid?"


"Yup."


"Ok. Let's go." As you approach him he grabs your wrist in one bony hand. Your heart freezes mid-beat for a moment, then returns to normal. There's no way he'd be able to know about your cute, about what had driven you to the brink of insanity the night before. How could he?


He flashes the others the same grin and waves them goodbye. You do the same and they call farewells to you before returning to their argument.


Went back to how things were, as if they didn't even know you were gone.


Sans lets go of you once you are outside, and if he sees the relief in your face, he doesn't comment on it. "so," he begins, 'i can already tell this is going tibia good day."

You snort because it caught you off guard; not because you think it's funny, but Sans seems to take this as a an invitation to continue.


"i'm glad that even after all this time, you still find my jokes humerus."


"Oh, stop," you say as you walk. "You're horrible and you know it."


"heh, yeah, don't i know it..." he trails off, his tone suddenly serious, and you think that you have touched on something that should not have been approached. You are about to apologize when he looks at you and asks, "so, kid, where're we headed?"


"I dunno. I was just following you."


"you should know by now that that's never a good idea. what's say we head to that restaurant on east finland street?"


"Sans, that's halfway across this city..."


"so? they have the best ketchup."


You sigh, unable to help a smile. "Ok. Whatever you say, boss."


"unless you wanna go someplace else. after all, it is your birthday." He elbows you in the chest. It hurts; your muscle is sensitive and his elbows are well... bony. He sees you wince and clutch your side. He winks at you and gives you a knowing grin. "sorry, kid. didn't mean ta rib ya."


You can't help but chuckle.


"hey, a real laugh. haven't heard one of those from you in a while."


Oh, no. Is he gonna be concerned now, too? You don't think you can stand another in-your-face moment with someone who 'cares'. Whenever someone tries to help, it feels way too invasive, and you just shrivel up and stand there, mute.


But he doesn't say anything. Instead, just shrugs and says, "welp. looks like we're headed for the bus stop. you ready, kid?"


"Wouldn't it be faster if we used one of your shortcuts?" You ask. You had fully expected him to grab your hand and appearify you both there...


He shrugs. "too lazy."


You sigh, but there's a smile in it. "Ok."


You make your way to the bus stop and stand there, hands in your pockets, spacing out. Then you look at Sans. He's staring at you.


"What?" You ask, giving him a shaky smile. "You got a bone to pick with me, Sansy?"


He chuckles in response and shakes his head. After a few minutes, the bus rumbles up and comes to a stop in front of you. You both get on and Sans pays your fare. You slink down into the seat near the window - the best, for many reasons. Not only is the scenery for your grasping, but you have an excuse not to look at Sans's face as you talk.


An advantage which you make use of immediately, because as soon as Sans sits down and the bus pulls away, you hear the voice.


"Dude," a guy from the seat behind you whispers, soft enough for only you, Sans and the person next to the voice's owner can hear. "Did you see that fucking skeleton?"


"Freaky," the girl next to him agrees.


Oh, no. You feel yourself stiffen up. These two... They're among the worst at school. The lynchpins of your humiliation. Some of the most popular in class. It hurts that they're talking about Sans like that. You know he can hear them, but he just crosses his legs and ignores them, tapping his sneakers with one thin finger bone. How can he not react? He's looking at you, though. You try to hide your fear through an apologetic smile, but his grin never wavers.


You wish that they would pick on you instead. You feel as though you can handle it better. Anyone but Sans....


"Speaking of freaks, isn't that the monster slut with him?" The girl, Sonja, continues with a snicker.


Yes, there we go. Back to normal. Their words cut deep, but anyone but Sans...


"Think they're...?" Marcus, the boy, asks.


"Ew, no! How would that even work?" Sonja cackles.


Sans is looking at you. You give him your best poker face, but there's no hiding it now. This is what your life is like. You try to smile, but you can feel your lips shaking.


You never wanted anyone to see this...


Sonja continues, "How disgusting would that be? Imagine if, like, they cum dust instead of fluid?"


"Ew!" He hisses. "I wouldn't want that all over me..."


The mention of dust makes your heart stop.


Them, picking on Sans, and your past transgressions.... fill you with determination.


Before Sans can react, you turn in your seat and kneel on it, peering over the edge at them. Marcus, your former crush, has long brown hair and a lip piercing now. His girlfriend, Sonja, is a blue-eyed redhead.


"C-cut it out," you stutter, your heart pounding in your chest. This is the only time you've ever stood up to them. The only time you've ever fought back. You see, in your peripheral vision, Sans turn in his seat. A bead of sweat has formed on your cheek. "S-say what you want about me," you continue, throat closing up. "But don't you ever make fun of Sans."


Marcus' face lights up and his lips turn into a wicked smirk. "Oh, pretty boy. Nice to see you again. I didn't know they let scum like you walk the streets."


"I'm not a boy," is all you can say. You are determined to stand up to them, but you are losing your nerve to talk back to them. Fighting, in any sense, has never been your strong suit.


"Really?" The smile grows sinister. His eyes flick around. You have the full attention of the nearby passengers now. Some of them look horrified. Marcus looks as though he wants an audience. "Coulda fooled me. If you're a girl, let's see what you got under there..."


Before you can react he's sliding his hand over your chest.


You scream.


There's a flash of blue light in the edges of your vision, and you find yourself in a dark alleyway with Marcus and Sonja. Between you, gripping Marcus's wrist like a vice, is Sans.


The place is lit only by his flaming cyan eye.

Chapter Text

You cannot move.


Just the wisp of color protruding from behind Sans's head is enough to make you nauseous.


"W-what the hell, man?!" Marcus squeaks, trying to pull his hand away from Sans's grip. He fails, miserably. The skeleton is much stronger than he looks... You know from experience.


"L-let him go!" Sonja cries from further down the alley. She is rooted to the spot, too, and she looks just as horrified as her boyfriend does.
You can hear the anger in Sans's voice. It makes you quake in your boots. Anger turns his voice sinister. Deeper. "so, buddy. where. the hell. do you get off. touching frisk. without. my. consent?"


Marcus doesn't speak, just pulls harder and whimpers.


"you see, frisk is one of the few people i hold dear in life... and you touching her doesn't sit very well with me." He looks at you, and somehow, through all the horrible memories, his anger now is a bit comforting. He's... protecting you. "now, if it had been me you were taunting, i wouldn't have cared. you've got your right to an opinion, you dirty fucking racist," he adds in a low hiss. "but, after seeing what you just did, i can't afford not to care anymore."


No... Not that line... Not again.... It hurts.


It hurts so much.


"S-stop..." You murmur. Sans doesn't seem to hear you. His eye just glows brighter. Sonja takes a tentative step forward.


"lemme ask you somethin'," Sans growls. "do you think you think someone like you should be allowed to be so heartless?"


"Dude, man - let go!" Marcus begs, trembling in his grasp.


Sans closes his eyes for a moment. "all right. lemme ask you a better question." His grin turns wicked and his eye glows twice as bright. "do you wanna have a bad time?"


You almost throw up.


Suddenly, there's a glow around Marcus. A green glow, and from him protrudes a heart. His Soul. Sonja, too, has a Soul seeping from her chest; it's yellow.


They're entering an Encounter.


"Sans, no!" You blurt, whole body shaking. Your own soul is showing through your sweater. You're too close to the battle, and Sans's magic is so strong... "D....don't hurt them!"


He looks at you and smiles. It's comforting, somehow, even though his eye still glows with rage. "don't worry, kiddo," he says with a wink. "these two aren't worth the effort. now then, if you're gonna cop a feel a somebody..." He continues, bringing Marcus's hand closer until he's touching the thin fabric of Sans's shirt. Marcus shudders, and you know that he is feeling the hard, strong bone beneath the fabric. You know from experience, from all the - rather uncomfortable - hugs he's given you over the years. You were surprised at first, too, but you can't imagine what it's like to feel that for the first time when... Sans's smile is manic. He's enjoying this. "why not me?"


He moves his own hand forward, lined in blue, and grazes it against Marcus's chest. "how do you like it?"


"Y-you're crazy!" Marcus screams. But even as he says it, you can see his Soul turning blue.


Your heart drops into your bowels.


With a flick of Sans's finger, Marcus flies across the alley and slams into the side of a dumpster. He coughs, then hits the ground. No physical marks, though his face clearly slaps the pavement, but that is what you expected. Your body never got hurt when you were hit. Just your soul. Your life force.


Marcus gets to his feet and pulls something out of his pocket. It flicks open with a sickening click.


A pocket knife.


You dry heave.


No. No. No no no no no no no no....


"Please stop," you plead, but Marcus looks determined. Eyes focused on Sans.


"M-Marcus, no," Sonja agrees.


"Just stay back, babe. I'll take care'a this clown."


"clown, huh?" Sans's bone-brow raises at the term. "buddy, when i'm done with you, you won't be laughin'."


Marcus rushes down the alley and you fall to your knees.


Sans. If he died, you would never forgive yourself...


"swing, batta batta!" Sans taunts, dodging a sloppy swipe. "a swing and a miss!" He hooks his fingers into Marcus's jacket and hurls him back. Marcus stumbles, then finds his feet. Sans lifts his arm. Marcus lifts a few feet into the air, too.


Sans moves his arm to the left, right, up down. With every direction, the boy slams into something new. Walls, trashcans, cement, box piles.


You are too scared to move, but some sick part of you likes seeing it, after all the torture... But you know it's wrong to feel that way. The very thought makes you feel ill.


Finally, Sans lets the kid drop to the ground and you watch him pull himself upright, gasping. He holds the knife in his shaky hands. You can see he is starting to hyperventilate.


"Th... The fuck are you, man?!" He cries.


Sans shrugs. "name's sans. i'd say it's nice to meet you, but you're a horrible example of humanity."


"Fuck you!"


Sans winks and raises his hands in a carefree gesture, like when he tells a particularly bad joke. "bone zone's closed, sorry."


"You think you're a big man, don't you?!"


"no, i think i'm sans."


Marcus takes another swing. Sans catches his wrist again, eye blazing.


"but since you're such a big kid, you better be ready for big consequences." He looks over at Sonja, then, who hasn't moved since her hesitant step earlier. "you. scram."


Seeing her chance, Sonja runs to the entrance of the alleyway. As she passes, Sans grabs at her shirt sleeve. She nearly jumps out of her skin. Marcus is lifted into the air again so he can't try anything funny. The horrible blue eye is turned on Sonja.


Sans's other eye is blank. "D O N ' T E V E R M A K E F U N O F F R I S K A G A I N." He says, voice carrying a sudden, chilling hollowness. "G O T I T, K I D?"


Sonja can't seem to form a reply. He lets her go anyway, and she runs screaming down the road to nowhere.


Sans drops Marcus, socks him in the gut, and as he's falling down, grabs the knife and tosses it aside, into the street. He looks down at the boy, eye still ablaze.


"Sans, please stop," you beg. "That's enough... Can't you see he's had enough?" The words turn into a squeak. Sans grabs Marcus by the chin and twists his face in your direction.


You feel the tears on your lashes as you and your former crush make eye contact for the first time in years. You're still quivering. But for the first time in a long time, you are on his level. You haven't been his height since you were kids.


"listen to her, pleading for you. does that sound like trash to you?" Sans's voice is harsh. "no. you're the trash. you don't deserve her mercy, or mine. don't you ever forget that. and if you ever touch frisk again.... Y O U ' L L B E D E A D W H E R E Y O U S T A N D." 

He pauses a moment to let that sink in. "now get lost."


Then, all at once, he lets him go. The glow disappears. Sans backs away from the kid and Marcus gets up and runs off. Then the skeleton turns to you.


He doesn't say anything for a while. Just looks at you, curled up on the ground.


He kneels down and lays a hand on your head. You wince because of the memories, then crawl into his lap, like you used to when you were a kid.


"Sans..." You whimper. Tears slip from your eyelids without your consent and your arms loop around his neck. This is the first time in a long time you've let anyone comfort you. But it doesn't feel like comfort, right now. "I thought you were going to...."


"i know kid. i know... i'm sorry you had to see that."


It wouldn't be so bad... if you hadn't seen it before.


"i'm really sorry, kiddo. i made you cry on your birthday..."


"It's ok," you say, wiping your eyes. You wanted to add, "I'm used to it," but you don't. Instead, you just look at him.


"but hey," he says with a wink. "at least you won't get your bones rattled anymore, right?"


"Not be them, at least," you respond, pulling yourself to your feet. He stands with you.


"do kids do that to you a lot? tease you, i mean."


You just nod.


"that badly?"


You nod again, unable to look at his face.


"geez, kid. why didn't you tell anyone?"


"It wasn't worth the trouble... If anyone found out, y.... You know the others. Undyne would break their necks, and Toriel would make a mess with the school system and the parents and Papyrus.... I dunno about Papyrus, but... I just... I didn't want anyone to get hurt."


"and they weren't. still, you coulda told me."

 

"I didn't think...."


"didn't think what?"


Something in his tone makes you look at him. The light in his eyes is wide and patient. Gentle, even.


You didn't think your problems were worth his time. You didn't think he'd care... But you can't say that to his face. You look away, but he seems to understand. That's just the thing with Sans. Something that makes you love him and fear him at the same time.


He always knows.


"come on, frisk. we're pals," he says, and his voice is a little higher, as though your assumptions hurt him to the core. "you know that, right?"


"Of course."


"so the next time something like this happens, please. do us both a favor and tell me."


"Ok," you mumble. He puts an arm around your shoulder.


"still hungry?"


"Kinda."

He smiles at you. "then come on, kid. let's get some grub. i know a shortcut."


"You don't have to do this, you know..."


"what are you talking about, kid? 'course i have to treat ya, after i all i just put you through..."


"No, I mean... You don't.... Have to protect me. I can..."


Sans just looks at you. Like he knows.


He always knows.


"yes i do, kid. i do, and you know it."


He pulls you closer and you lay your head on his shoulder. Then he pulls you into the light. 

 

 

Chapter Text

The rest of the day goes by smoothly. First you go out to breakfast - you have the best french toast of your life and Sans, well, he just downs your extra syrup. You get a few odd looks from some customers, but they don't bother you as much. As Sans put it, if they thought that a skeleton sharing a meal with an Asian girl was strange or wrong, that was their opinion, and they were dirty racists for having it.
Afterwards, he takes you back to his and Papyrus's place for games and peace and quiet.
It's nice.
Without Papyrus there, and just the two of you... He gives you the space you need while still being in your company. There if you need him. The silence is comfortable. He understands. Which you need. And you are so, so grateful.
Still, the events of the morning stir in your mind, as well as the rest of the memories. You are in the presence of someone dangerous, and you know it. You know he is stronger than you, and that is a little intimidating. But still, when you talk, he is so kind... It's like the person that could so easily kill you never existed.
Yet you know better. It makes you want to escape, to run away from him, but then he smiles at you and you know you can't.
You wonder if he remembers. For the most part, you think you're the only one that knows these things. About the timelines and the pain and the resets. It seems as though everyone had some inkling of the past; deja vu, mostly. But that was about it. No one knew the things you'd done in that timeline. In that universe. In another dimension, there is still a you that took pleasure in killing people. The thought that you still are that person... The thought that you had the power to rip everything you've ever loved to shreds...
"you ok, kid?" Sans asks. He's asked you this several times now, every few minutes, when you get too quiet.
"I'm fine, Sans. How many times do I have to keep telling you?"
"'til i believe it."
"Ouch."
"what's eatin' ya?"
If he knows, then he would understand. If he doesn't.... Will he think you're crazy? You decide not to risk it. "Nothing. Just tired. And... Before. That really... got to me."
"i know." He says it so matter-of-factly it almost sounds like an insult. He drops the subject. "we should head back, huh?" It's then you notice that the first tinges of night have darkened the daylight. How have you been out for so long? The day didn't feel like more than a few minutes...
"Yeah. Do you know a shortcut?"
He winks at you. "absolutely."
In a moment you are back home, sitting at the kitchen table.
Surprisingly, the kitchen isn't in too bad of a shape. There are a few spear-sized holds in the cabinets and bone-shaped dents in the stove and refrigerator, but the house is intact. Inwardly, you breathe a sight of relief.
"Oh, you're back," Toriel exclaims, a smile coming to her face. The others, upon seeing you, react in kind.
"Hey, punk!" Undyne chirps as Alphys waves hello.
"HUMAN!" Papyrus cries as he leans down to embrace you. "YOU ARE JUST IN TIME TO TASTE THE DELECTABLE CREATIONS I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAVE CREATED. WITH THE HELP OF UNDYNE AND ALPHYS AND TORIEL, OF COURSE," he adds, a little begrudgingly.
"Ha!" Undyne laughs, holding a large bowl in front of her. "You know I did most of the work, Papyrus! I win our cooking contest. Admit it, you're second best this time!"
"Cooking contest?" You ask, a little afraid of the answer.
"Yes," Toriel explains, looking exhausted. "The two of them decided to have a battle over whom could cook the most food the most... passionately. We just finished cleaning up before you came back."
"S-so," Alphys begins. It's now you notice that she has red stains on her lab coat. Most likely pasta sauce. "H-how was the day you two had?"
You don't know how to react. Should you tell them what happened? They'll be furious...
Sans shrugs. "eh. you know us; we took it slow. ate some good food, played some games. you know, the usual."
You breathe a slow sigh of relief, glad that he did not tell them the truth. It's decided, then. No one but the two of you will know what happened...
"Frisk, your knees!" Toriel exclaims. You look down. There are flecks of blood on the kneecaps of your jeans.
Crap.
It must have been from when you collapsed against the pavement, when Sans was having his way with Marcus... Neither of you had noticed.
"relax, tor. the kid tripped on the way to my place. no big deal."
"That's a relief, at least." She seems comforted, somehow, though it's a simple case of scraped knees. Ever the mother, miss Toriel. "All the same, I believe now is a good time for dinner! You must all be starving after such a long day..."
"I'm so hungry I could eat Papyrus!" Undyne says with a huge grin.
Papyrus seems perturbed. "UNDYNE... I DO NOT THINK EATING ME WOULD BE VERY GOOD FOR YOU... ALTHOUGH I AM FULL OF CALCIUM..."
"Relax, you big oaf!" She slaps him on the shoulder and takes a seat at the table. He looks confused, but plays along and sits down. Alphys sits by Undyne and Toriel by you.
"Happy birthday, Frisk," Toriel whispers, wrapping her arms around you.
Suddenly, you feel extremely uncomfortable. Too many eyes. Too many expectations. You see Undyne and Papyrus looking at you with happy faces. Looking at you like they expect something out of you.
And Sans.
Watching.
Always watching.
It's like he's testing you.
Toriel feels you stiffen up. "Frisk, are you all right?"
"W-what's wrong, Frisk?" Alphys asks, and the others join in, increasingly louder and more frantic when you don't respond. Toriel even shakes you a little, desperate to get you to talk.
Part of you wants to speak just to get them to shut up. Part of you just wants to run away, go back into your room, and drown into a dreamless sleep.
Instead, all you hear is Frisk can you hear me and HUMAN PLEASE TALK TO ME and speak up, punk.
What the hell do they want you to tell them? That you're fine? That you're just tired, that you can stand going through another day feeling like this?
Somehow, suddenly, you feel like you could explode. You can't hide this anymore. If you try.... You're afraid of what will happen.
There's only one thing that can help you hold it in.
And it's sitting in your desk after its last introduction to your skin.
You have to get out of here.
But the voices. The voices. They're practically yelling now - HUMAN SAY SOMETHING and what the hell and p-please say something and I'm worried, my child and Sans's eyes, just observing.
"Shut up!" You cry, and it surprises you just as much as them. Tears come to your eyes yet again. So many tears in such little time. So much blood spilt... It was pathetic. "You wanna know what's wrong with me?!"
Chara has returned full force. You can't control what you're saying anymore. You bolt out of your seat, finding the faces of everyone in the room. Tears stream down your face as you hear what you say next.
"You're what's wrong with me! All of you!"
"M...my child, I don't understand..."
"Mother, smothering me. All you care about is your own lonliness. Ever since Asgore and your son... You project everything on me, and you know it!" She looks stricken by your words, and Undyne's face turns red.
"Hey, you little punk -!"
You give her a sick grin. "And you, Undyne. Don't get me started! Time and time again you've tried to kill me without any remorse. Hell, it's like you relish it. You don't really care about me at all, do you? The only reason you tolerated me in the first place is because of Papyrus - WHO, by the way," you turn to him, "is the most clueless bag of bones I've ever met!"
He looks hurt, as well, and doesn't know how to respond, other than by saying your name. You don't let him get much further.
"You're the one that set Undyne on me, remember? No wonder you never made it into the Royal Guard. You're too thick-witted."
It takes a moment or you to notice that Papyrus is actually crying. Orange tears stream down his bony cheeks. You turn to your next victim, Alphys. "And you." You spit. Your voice carries more venom than it deserves to. "You're not even worth my time. You know what you've done."
At that - not only having been witness to the berating of her friends, but to be dismissed as irrelevant afterward - Alphys bursts into a fit of tears. It hurt but the cruelty almost felt good. Your stomach is in knots and you're shaking again.
You almost feel like...
How you did...
Back then. When...
Your gaze falls on Sans. He has his arms crossed, and he does not look pleased.
"i hope you're happy, kid." Is all he says.
And that's enough to break you. Your own tears overflowing, you dash upstairs and slam the door.
This time, you don't even make it to the bed before you're bawling.
Curling into a ball, you feel the ceiling closing in on you.
With your ear against the floorboards, you can hear their conversation.
"I don't know what to do anymore," Toriel says. Her voice quavers with pain. "I feel like I'm losing her..."
"S-s-s-she's right, though," Alphys wails. "I s-s-s-should never have tried to be in the spotlight... I should never have tried to help those monsters, or Asriel..."
"S-shut up, Alphys," Undyne replies, and you can imagine her hugging the scientist with the most painful of looks on her face. "She's wrong, you're wrong, you've done great things..."
Dr. Alphys continues to cry and you can hear Papyrus joining in. "SANS, AM I REALLY THAT THICK-SKULLED?" He asks. "I CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE PUT MY FRIEND IN DANGER, RIGHT? RIGHT?!"
You can't hear Sans's reply, but you bet it's comforting.
Undyne sounds frustrated. "She's right about me, though... I... It's not like I'm PROUD of who I used to be... Beating people up without a second thought... So eager to kill someone just because they were human... I..."
"Y-y-you were only doing what y-y-you thought was right," Alphys answers so low it's hard to hear her. "I-it's not you fault..."
It hurts. It hurts so much...
To go through all that and end up like this.
Hurting the people that you loved most.
You reach into your drawer and pull out the bent paper clip. Silently, you wish you had never been born. You lie back on the floor, and within seconds, the carpet is absorbing droplets of blood.
Blood. Red.
The color of your Soul.
The color of despair.

Chapter Text

You have to reset.


You have to.


Going back is the only way to fix the hellhole you've created. Maybe you can do something useful again. Do good. Make everyone forget.


Your body quivers. Squirms with the consequences of what you're about to do.


You can feel your sins crawling on your back. They weigh on your neck. Are you really about to take away everyone's perfect future? All for your own ego?


What will they think, when they realize.... what you have to do?


That the only way you know how to go back... is to die? You never could figure it out any other way...


Will they blame themselves?


You have to make sure that's not the case.


Wrist still bleeding, you fish a pad of sticky notes and a pen from your desk. In a quick hand, to keep the blood from dripping onto it, you write:


"I'm sorry. I am so, so, so sorry. Please don't blame yourselves. It's not your fault. I'm doing this because I have to. It's the only way to be happy. I love you all more than life itself. Please believe me... I'll be back soon. - Frisk"


You rip it off and stick it to your desk.


You can hear the murmur of voices downstairs, but you can't hear what's being said.


Now, the question of what to use....


You sneak into the bathroom and open up the pill cabinet. Your sleeping pills. You'd had them for a while now, ever since your grades started slipping and Toriel took you to the doctor. Your dreams.... Well, the nightmares, really, kept you from sleeping sometimes. You hadn't taken them for a while, since you felt as though you were getting better. You fill a cup Toriel always keeps at your bedside with tap water, then return to your bedroom and lock it.


Your heart pounds and you want to scream. Setting the cup down, you pop open the bottle. Gulp. Pour the rest of the pills into your hand.


Twenty. Would that do the trick?


Probably.


Your body is small, so it won't take long.....


You're shaking so much the pills - little more than white tick tacs, really - can barely stay in your palm.


Shivering, you prepare to swallow the first dose.


There's a hand on your shoulder. "kiddo -"


You scream and whip around, facing Sans so fast the pills scatter into the air and hit the floor, almost as though they were rain drops being flicked from your hand. On instinct, you drag your sleeve down in attempt to hide the cuts.


"S-Sans..."


He just looks at you, then at the pill bottle. He rips if from your hands. "your sleeping pills... were you about to take them all?!"


"S-Sans, no... I..."


His eyes travel around the room, at all the scattered doses of sleeping pills, and his bone-brows furrow. "frisk..."


"Really! I..." You swipe at your hair with the dripping wrist without thinking.


His gaze focuses on the blood.


He grabs your wrist. Rips back your sleeve. His hands shake as he sees the damage you've done to yourself. He takes hold of the other and does the same, follows the lines with his bony fingers. You pull to get out of his reach.


"Sans, let go -!"


Then you see it. The glow in his left eye.

With a flash of blue light, you find yourself back in a familiar golden room. Looking at your blood soaked hands. A skeleton boy stares you down from across the hall, blue eye wide and blazing.


The irony makes you dry heave.


"so, you like pain, huh kid?" He spits, hand glowing blue as well.


Oh, fuck.


In a second you're slammed against a wall. Then against a pillar. Then tossed to the floor. You struggle to stand, legs and hands shaking. The blood on your wrist and hands is smeared against your palm from the motion. Your body aches and you can barely breathe.


"Sans..."


You're flying again. BAM! Ceiling. BAM! Floor.


Your body wraps around pillars and curls in on itself. If your bones could break, they would.


Every one of them feels 100% crushed.


"Sans," you weep, tears spilling from your eyes at the pain. Why is he doing this? Why is he so angry...? It's just you, this time! No one else... You didn't want to hurt anyone else...


"you like this, kid?!" He snaps, advancing on you. You cringe and duck away from him.


"Please, stop..."


"stop? but i thought you wanted to hurt yourself. do you not like it when I do it?"


"Please..." You're blubbering now. His shadow falls over you. "It hurts..."


"and cutting yourself earlier didn't hurt you? the way you tried to kill yourself didn't hurt me?"


"You don't understand, Sans!" As you look up at him, you know that even if you tried to fight back, you could never beat him.


You never could beat him.


He killed you again and again and again in this same hallway a lifetime ago, when the little voice, Chara, made you kill everyone you loved.


You'd only gone back that time because you needed to escape. Needed to vent something. The situation had become too much and you felt like you could punch something.


That desire became lethal. It summoned Chara's soul. It wasn't you... but it was, all the same.


"You don't get it... it makes me feel..." You can barely see him through tears. "It makes me feel better..."


He slams you against the wall, voice cracking when he hears you cry out. "buddy, you don't think i'd do the same if i had skin?"


What? Looking up, you see for the first time that he's crying, too.


"Sans..."


"please, kid... don't do this to us. to me. to yourself. i'm serious... d-don't.... don't leave us alone. i swear... i - i'm here for you. i know what it feels like... i... i was there when you..."


"What?"


"when you killed everyone.... papyrus, toriel.... hell, you almost killed me."


"Then why don't you want me dead?! That's even more reason for me to -"


"but you weren't you. i could feel it. you were suffering... and i don't want you to suffer now. not like i do."


"Sans..."


He gets down on his knees and hugs you. "please, kid. promise me. promise you won't hurt yourself anymore. promise me you'll come talk to me. and i promise i'll help you no matter what. we can make this better. i can talk to the others for you. they'll understand. they won't be angry at you or hurt. you'll see..."


"Sans..."


"promise me, kid."


"Ok."


"ok, what?"

"Ok. I promise."


He hugs you tighter. "come on. let's go home."


There's another flash and you're sitting on the floor of your bedroom. Crying in Sans's arms. You hug him close. Feel the bones.


There's a knock on the door. "Sans, Frisk? Is everything ok in there?" The doorknob rattles, but your door is still locked. Sans gets up and opens it. "Is everything all right?"


"yeah, tori. we were just talkin'."


"Frisk, are you crying...? And - oh, my, your pills!"


"I'm sorry, I'm sorry...." You weep, curling up into a ball and wishing you could disappear.


"she was trying to take one and i scared her by coming in. sorry, kid."


"We're all very worried about you, Frisk..." She steps on the paperclip, looks down at it, then at you. "Frisk..."


"you might wanna give her some space, tor."


"Sans, what's going on?"


"tor-"


"Frisk, have you been...?" She looks horrified and sad. You can't meet her face. Her eyes fill up with tears.


"tori, come talk to me downstairs. i can tell you everything there. that ok with you, frisk?"


You don't move for a minute, then slowly nod. The jig is up. Mom knows... There isn't much you can do now.


"ok, kiddo. are you ok to be alone right now, or do you want someone with you?"


You shake your head. "I'm ok."


"gotcha."


He leads Toriel downstairs, and again is the murmur of voices. You don't want to hear what they're saying. They seem pretty upset, though...


After a few minutes, they calm down, and it's Sans's voice, specifically, that you can hear, most likely explaining how you feel, and what he wants them to do about it.


You hear footsteps. One after the other, they all file into your room. Undyne is first, then Toriel, then Alphys, then Papyrus and finally Sans. Undyne lifts you up and sits on your bed, carrying you bridal-style. The others crowd around her, sitting with you.


Cuddling with you on the bed.


Keeping you warm.


Keeping you safe.


Not letting you be alone.


"I'm sorry," you whimper, tearing up. "I'm so, so sorry..."


Alphys picks up the note you wrote, and, reading it, hugs you tighter, as if she understands. She crushes it with clawed fingers.


"We gotcha, punk." Undyne murmurs, gripping you harder, like it's a competition. "We're gonna cherish you so hard, you'll feel better in no time."


You let out a choking laugh, then sigh.


There's something you have to do.


"Can I... show you?" You ask gently.


"Show us... what, my child?" Toriel asks, though you know she knows what you're talking about.


"The cuts."


"Frisk, I don't think -"


"I need to," you reply. "I have to do it for myself... No more hiding."


There's a moment of silence, then you see Toriel nod.


"Very well, Frisk. If that's what you need."


Undyne and Alphys let you go and you get to your feet, backing away from the bed.


You close your eyes. You can feel the eyes watching you, you can feel their warmth. The pain in your back from being slammed into wall after wall.


You can feel the familiar ache in your bones. The itch in your skin.


You can feel their support, flowing to you from across the room.


You can feel the wool of Toriel's fur in your sweater. It's suddenly too much for you.


You take a deep breath...


And roll up your sleeves.