It had been a brief moment of distraction, but it was all it took. Maybe being able to LOAD any time he died had made him careless.
He and Frisk had been hunting for the red switch that would open the next door and he had spotted it and turned his back for one second to go pull it.
He had never seen what was lurking in the shadows.
But she had.
"Flowey, look out!" she screamed. He whirled around to confront his attacker, only to see a multitude of glowing white bullets flying at him from a horde of Loox that had leapt from the shadows.
Frisk had been already running towards him and jumped between him and the bullets, taking the full force of the attack as it tore through her stomach and chest.
"FRISK!" he screamed as she crumpled to the ground. The horde rushed towards her and Flowey fired his own round of bullets at them, dusting several. The rest fled, or maybe went to regroup, he didn't care right now. He had much more important things to care about.
His new friend, the only one he ever had besides Chara, the only one besides them that had even a spark of mercy left, was lying on the ground in a growing pool of blood. He rushed to her side. Her chest and stomach were so covered in blood that he could barely see the bullet holes. He knew they had probably severed arteries.
And the bullets hadn't missed her heart.
She was dying right in front of him. He poured healing magic into her, but it could only do so much. He wasn't experienced enough to heal internal injuries, to heal a heart that was full of bullet holes and too damn big for her own good.
"Flowey..." She coughed up blood. "...You okay?"
Him. She was DYING and she was worried about HIM. He fought back tears. It wouldn't help her to cry right now. "I'm fine, you idiot. You're the one who's hurt! Why'd you do that?"
She stared dumbly at her wounds when he said that she was hurt, not seeming to comprehend his question. She tried to raise her hand but couldn't even manage that small action. Her eyes closed as her damaged lungs struggled to take in any air. Every beat of her weakening heart pumped more of her lifeblood out of her body.
Blood. Blood everywhere, covering his vines and spraying on his petals as he fruitlessly tried to heal her.
"No...no..nononono...Don't you dare die on me, Frisk!" It was at this point that he remembered his power. He wanted to hit himself for letting the panic take over and not using it sooner and sparing her this pain. "It's going to be okay. I'm going to save you!" He reached deep inside himself to his power, trying to load.
He tried again. And again.
His friend still lay dying in front of him. Dying because she had saved his weak, worthless ass. And he couldn't even save her.
No! No! No!
He had more than enough Determination! He had someone to save! Why were his powers failing him now when he needed them most?!
He poured even more magic into her. But still her breathing slowed..slowed...stopped with a rattle.
He pressed his head to her chest, listening for a beat.
Her heart weakly stuttered to a stop.
"NO!" He pressed hard on her chest over and over, trying to restart it, trying to use his vines to pump her heart for her.
Again he failed, like he always did in saving those he cared for.
Her bright red soul began coming out of her body. He reached for it. At least this part of her he could save.
And the world reset around him.
It was cold. It was so cold.
And everything hurt. Her chest felt like an anvil had dropped on it. She gasped for air.
"No...no..nononono...Don't you dare die on me, Frisk!" The voice sounded like it was coming through water. It took her a minute to figure out who it was.
She tried to reach for him. To reassure him that she was okay, even though she knew she wasn't.
But she couldn't move.
Blessed numbness took over the agony. She relaxed and let herself drift into the darkness.
"It's going to be okay! I'm going to save you!" The voice was even further away now, but it made her fight again. She struggled to get to it.
But the darkness dragged her down.
"Frisk? Your name is Frisk, right? C'mon, open your eyes. You've got to stay determined. I know no one else has, but please you've got to hear me!"
Frisk opened her eyes. She still felt cold but the pain was gone. She was in a space that was nearly completely dark with only two bright orange glowing buttons making a dim light.
Frisk looked around for the owner of the voice. She swore she had heard it before, right after she had fallen and sometimes when confronting monsters, but she had thought then that she had hit her head really hard and was out of her mind. "Hello? Who are you? Where am I?"
"Oh, thank the stars you can hear me!" Someone stepped towards her, a translucent humanoid figure that glowed slightly with a reddish light. She couldn't quite make out their facial features, just a general shape. They were around her height with a slender build and looked like they had short hair.
"Are you an angel?" Frisk asked softly.
The figure paused in surprise and thought for a second before speaking. "...I can be if you want me to be."
"Am I dead? Are you taking me to the afterlife? Will Flowey be okay? What if..." Frisk babbled.
"Slow down! Even angels can only answer one question at a time. First of all, yes, you're dead. But I'm not here to take you to the afterlife. You see, Frisk, this might sound crazy, but you have a power inside you, one my b-Flowey used to have. You can go back in time to before you died. See those buttons?"
Frisk turned to them and nodded, though there was a flicker of fear that this might be some kind of death hallucination that her mind had invented to comfort her.
"Good. Now hit "Continue." the angel told her.
Frisk hesitated. "Won't that mean I'll still be dead?"
"No, that'll make it so you LOAD, not reset. If you hit Reset you'll go all the way back to when you first fell. Continue will take you back to your last save star, which thankfully you've been touching." Angel told her.
"The gold things that restored my HP when I touched them?" Frisk asked.
Angel nodded. "Yes. Now, are you ready to go back? Flowey's waiting for you." They took her hand and gently squeezed it. "Thank you. For what you did. For saving him."
"He's my friend." Frisk said softly. She still couldn't make out Angel's facial features very well, but she could have sworn they smiled. "Angel? Before I leave, can I ask you something?"
"I'll stay with you when you go back. But yes, you can ask me anything."
"Are my parents in heaven? Are they happy?"
"Angel" froze for a second. Nice going, Chara. Why the hell did you masquerade as an angel of all things in an attempt to get her to not run from you screaming when you're probably an earthbound spirit and can't answer existential questions like that?! I should have known better to say "Ask me anything!" like a know-it-all! Now I've got an orphan girl with dead parents in front of me and I've got to say something to comfort her. Even if I'm not an actual angel, I'm still HER angel in her eyes, so I need to help her feel better. That is what an angel does after all...I think. they thought to themselves before smiling at Frisk. "I didn't see them directly and I don't know them personally, but I'm sure they're in heaven and happy." they told Frisk as truthfully as they could.
Frisk smiled softly, feeling a little better. "Thank you, Angel." She went to the wall and hit CONTINUE. The buttons fell away and the void she was in spun around her. She felt nothing under her feet. She was even more afraid than she had been when she died. What if she couldn't go back?
And then Angel gently took her hand and squeezed it. The fear faded away.
And Frisk smiled.
Frisk's feet hit solid ground. She fell on her butt and looked around, finding herself back in the ruins again. She gasped, feeling air rushing into her lungs again. Warmth returned to her body though she still had goosebumps from the remembered chill of death. There was no pain.
She ran her trembling hands over her chest and stomach.
No wounds. No blood.
She was alive.
Was it all a dream?
"Frisk!" A yellow blur launched itself at her and Frisk soon had her arms full of a very relieved yellow flower. He then got out of her arms, realizing what he was doing, and glared at her. He looked around for any monsters. Thankfully, there were none right now. "You idiot! Why the hell did you do that?!" he hissed, smacking her in the arm with a vine.
"Ow, that hurt!" She rubbed the stinging spot on her arm. After literally dying, she was surprised she could still notice superficial pain.
"Good! Now maybe you won't do that again! Wait. Do you even remember what I'm talking about?" Flowey now wasn't sure whether she was the one who had reset and come back or if his had been delayed somehow and she couldn't remember a thing. If she didn't, he'd have to make up some quick lie.
"I-I know it's going to sound crazy, but I died, didn't I?" she whispered, shaking. "It really happened, didn't it?"
"It did. And all because YOU had to be a moron and jump in front of me. You fucking died right in front of me, and I couldn't reset...How did you...Wait...Your soul...You must have more Determination than me. You are a red soul after all...Thank the stars we didn't cancel each other out or something..." He looked up to Frisk, realizing he was probably confusing her. She did indeed look confused and overwhelmed, but seemed to be trying to take it in stride. "Look, I know this is going to sound crazy..."
"After what just happened, I'm used to crazy."
"You now have the power to literally go back in time. I had it before you but it must have somehow transferred from me to you. You saw two buttons, right? Continue and Reset?"
Frisk nodded and was about to tell him about the angel she saw there too and how they had taught her what to do, but a voice beside her stopped her.
"Please...don't tell him about me. Not yet." Angel said softly. Frisk jolted and looked around. The entity was floating on her right side opposite Flowey, who was on her left.
Frisk glanced to Angel and Flowey looked to see what Frisk was looking at. He saw nothing after a careful check and thought Frisk was just looking out for danger.
"Nothing there, Frisk." Flowey reassured her, thinking Frisk was still scared from the attack that killed her. He couldn't blame her. He was terrified too.
"He can't see me. I've tried to help him before. He doesn't know I'm here." Angel explained. "You're the only person who can see and hear me, so unless that changes...It might be best if you keep me a secret." Frisk looked to them like she was about to ask why but Angel gave her a pleading look. "I'll explain more later. It's going to look odd if you're having a onesided conversation with nothing. Right now, Flowey's waiting for a response."
Frisk finally gave a slight nod and looked to Flowey, who was giving her a weird look.
"You okay?" he asked her.
"Sorry. I must have spaced out a bit. Thought I saw someone." Frisk said truthfully, knowing Angel wanted to be kept secret, but she didn't want to lie to Flowey either.
"It's okay. No one's there." Flowey reassured her, double checking again to make sure. "Look, I know it's scary and I know you're upset. I've been where you are before. But if we're going to get through the Ruins without this crap happening again, we need to focus. I'll explain this all to you as we go. And one more thing...whether you can reset or not...Don't you dare jump in front of me like that again." He glared at her but couldn't quite hide the fear and sadness in his eyes. He tried to follow his own advice to her and keep the memories of her lying there bloody and dying out of his head so he could focus and make sure that didn't happen again.
"I'm sorry I scared you, Flowey. You're my friend and I didn't want you to get killed...I didn't want to lose someone I cared for again..." she said softly, tears in her eyes.
"Hey...Hey...Don't cry here. You don't want other monsters to see you cry, moron. They'll take it as a sign of weakness and attack, trust me. Look, we'll discuss this in a safe place...if we can find one." he told her, his voice softer than before. He then pulled himself out of the ground and wrapped himself around her arm. "Now I'm right here with you so you don't do anything stupid. He hoisted himself so his head was resting on his shoulder so he could whisper in her ear. "Now that you have this power, I'm going to teach you how to use it properly. Now listen closely, because again, I don't want you deciding to do something dumb again." he whispered. "If you die again, just hit Continue. Don't hit Reset unless you absolutely have to unless you want to go back to the very beginning, and no, I don't think it's going to get you out of the Underground. Trust me, I've tried. Over and over until I gave myself a headache. If my theory on resets is correct, you'll go back to when you gained the power. Far as I know, you can't go back any further. Again, I've tried."
"How'd you get that power?"
"I don't know how exactly, I just know when, and that's a story for another time." Flowey looked away as he said this. Frisk frowned in worry, but didn't press, which he was relieved about. He quickly moved on. "And another thing. You can LOAD without dying. Use them sparingly because I don't know exactly how many loads you might have, but if an emergency happens and you need to load, just..."
Flowey continued to explain LOADS and resets in a whisper as they moved to the next room, the room where Frisk had died. Frisk flinched at the memory...the pain...the cold...the darkness... She tried to block it out, focusing on checking for enemies.
Flowey knew exactly where to look. In fact, he didn't think he'd ever forget, and he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice with a life other than his on the line. He fired a widespread arc of bullets into the shadows, causing the Loox horde to scatter. A few went after Frisk, but she leaped out of the way and also wounded one with the knife she always carried with her, making sure to incapacitate, not kill. No longer seeing free EXP and being cowards, the Loox fled, much to Frisk and Flowey's relief.
Still Flowey stayed wrapped around Frisk's arm, telling himself it was just so he could keep an eye on her(and also to reassure himself that his friend was safe and alive, though he'd angrily deny it if anyone accused him of being that soft). He watched every square inch of the room for danger as Frisk pulled the switch and the door to the next room creaked open. He and Frisk made their way cautiously further, knowing that there would be even more danger up ahead.
Chara floated beside them, giving them a sad look when Frisk was facing the other way. Their soul twinged in guilt.
They were no angel, regardless of what Frisk thought(even if they wanted to be).
Not after their not so well thought out plan had gotten Asriel killed and turned the Underground into what it was now. Not after they had failed to save the other six children that had fallen.
Not when they hated all monsters besides Flowey and maybe Toriel with a burning passion after the brutal ways they had seen the children die. The ways they had seen Flowey die.
Angels didn't hate.
But they did love.
And Chara loved Flowey. Loved Frisk too for how the human had helped and cared for their little brother.
They weren't powerful like an angel probably was. They were incorporeal and could only do so much.
But they would protect and guide Frisk and Flowey the best they could. They would help them get out of this hellhole. They wouldn't fail their brother again, nor the gentle human girl that had shown Flowey the first kindness he had had since he had become a flower.
Everyone else could go rot for all they cared.
But they would make sure Flowey and Frisk got the freedom and happiness they deserved.