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Failsafe

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You woke up to the sounds of pots and pans crashing into each other. Scowling, you threw off the smelly hoodie Sans had given you and cracked your vertebrae.

Papyrus dropped all his cookware and hurried into the living room.

"SANS - OH, IT'S YOU. YOU'RE UP EARLY."

"'Pyrus, it's two in the morning. Whatever you're cooking you don't need to be that loud."

He furrowed his brow at you. "UNDYNE SAYS MAKING LOTS OF NOISE DURING COOKING INFUSES THE FOOD WITH PASSION."

You rubbed your face. "I've worked in more kitchens than I can count. The food always knows its creator's passion."

"HOW?"

"It just does. It kinda...sings? I thought I was crazy until I heard the spider donuts in the ruins singing." You fought off a yawn.

"WHY WON'T MY BROTHER ALLOW YOU TO COOK?"

"He's afraid I'm going to kill you."

"WHY?"
So he couldn't see your "sins."

"My older brother and his friends made a series of really bad decisions. I tried to help my brother and his friends do the right thing. They refused. They captured me. I knew too much, so they planned to torture me until I died. I couldn't run, I couldn't call for help...it was kill or be killed. I chose to kill."

"You're own brother hurt you?" He whispered. "Is that why you jumped in the hole?"

"Did Sans tell you that?"

"No, my flower friend said you -."

You backed up very slowly. "You're friends with Flowey?"

"Yes. I know he can be a bit rude -"

"FLOWEY TRIED TO KILL ME AND TAKE MY SOUL!"

"what's going on."

You glared at Sans, who was glowering at both of you from halfway down the stairs. "Are you friends with Flowey, too?"

"no. my bro isn't, either."

"He just called Flowey his 'flower friend' and Flowey told him I jumped into the ruins."

San's perma-grin widened. "paps is friends with everyone. he's that cool."

"He's cool, but I didn't jump."

"you probably hit your head, that's why you don't remember. you have to want to leave the surface...it's the only way to even see the entrance"

You refused to play along.

"I was camping with my fiancee, my best friend, and her fiance. We got drunk! I had to pee in the middle of the night and I fell in this godforsaken hole! I'm not suicidal! And I'm not a 'dirty brother-killer', either!"

You put your hands in your pockets, feeling the pouch of gold coins you'd collected from being nice, the latest haul being a reward for removing Gyftrot's cumbersome decorations. "I'm going to stay at the Inn for a while."

You grabbed Sans' hoodie and your backpack in case the Inn had a laundry service, then headed out the door into the still-sleeping town.

 

Chapter Text

The freezing air in your lungs and fluffy snow beneath your boots failed to calm your Soul. You slipped on the skeleton mask Papyrus had made you before entering the inn. The rabbit monster at front desk smiled as you entered, but his twitchy pink nose gave away his worry.

"Good morning, Drunk. How can I help you?"

You resisted the urge to roll your eyes. Sans and his passive-aggressive shit... "Good morning, Rex. Uh, I need a room from like, now until tomorrow night if you've got any space...maybe until the next week." You rubbed the back of your neck as the kindly rabbit checked for rooms.

"Oh dear, I'm so sorry. We are all booked up at the moment. King Asgore will be here in a few hours, along with Captain Undyne and the Hotland Royal Guards -"

"Wait, what? The King? Here? Why?"

His ears shot straight up in surprise. "Did you not hear? Yesterday, someone got a photograph of the giant human who knocked Doggo unconscious last week...sitting by the river north of town! Meaning they must have turned invisible and walked right through town!

"Oh geez, that's terrible...poor Doggo...but...is it possible the giant human...knows how to swim?"

It was self defense, anyway.

"Oh, don't worry about that! Captain Undyne is the strongest water elemental alive - no human could outswim her. But you should mention that to her when she arrives. The human might be desperate enough to try to swim away...anyway, Grillby has a spare room. He's probably up by now, I can -"

You shook your head. "It's okay, Sans has probably cooled off -"

Rex rolled his eyes. "Honestly dear, you lasted longer in that crypt than any of us thought. We were about to start a pool..."

You had two options at this point: Risk running through Waterfall and Hotland with a small army headed your way, or explain to Grillby what really happened with Doggo.

"Yeah, he's...he's been through a lot. I had no idea about the human. I just need to give him space, y'know? Will Grillby really -"

"Of course he'll let you stay! Go, everything's gonna be fine."

"Okay Rex, thanks. See you later."

You could see Grillby before you had even walked halfway there.

He knew, right?

He had to know.

You stomped right up to the seething fire elemental and pulled up your shirt slightly, showing the pink scar on your abdomen.

"Doggo threw knives at me. I didn't know to pet the dog monsters until Sans threw me against a tree with blue magic. Papyrus sensed his magic and brought me home to heal me. He's the only reason I didn't bleed to death, and Sans is lying to Papyrus about how the barrier in the Ruins really works."
Grillby's flames crackled, and he relaxed his posture. "I apologize...I did not know the whole truth. Come inside."

You stepped inside the bar and followed Grillby. You eyed the Fire Exit sign warily. "Is this magic..."
He chuckled softly, showing needle-like fangs. He opened the door and gestured for you to go ahead of him. "A joke, nothing more."

You stepped through to the back area of the bar, revealing a cozy brick three-bedroom apartment. You knew monsters didn't execute their own kind, but you didn't want the guy to lose his home and business for treason. "Grillby, I - I don't want you to get in trouble with the King..."

"Don't worry..."

You whirled at the soft voice coming from down the hall.

"Frisk?"

The only other human currently surviving in the Underground had "gone missing" from New Home a few months before your drunk ass fell down a giant hole. Upon hearing the tale of woe about the Royal children, you'd assumed King Asgore had locked them up in the basement or Hotland Laboratory until Papyrus showed you the camera system. They'd gone to visit Napstablook in Waterfall, on their way back to New Home they had walked into a wall and disappeared into thin air.

"I need your help." They said. "But first, let's eat."

 

Chapter Text

Grillby wasted no time fixing you both dinner while your clothes washed and dried. You also discovered he ate molten glass.

But no amount of good food and light conversation could explain what happened to Frisk, or why they needed your help. While you waited for your laundry to dry and repacked your backpack, you realized what was bugging you. "Frisk, you can walk through solid walls and turn invisible. Not sure why you need my help. I'm also a wanted criminal down here 'cause Sans is a spiteful, unhelpful piece of...dog doodoo."

The kid snorted. "I saw a door and the monster behind the door teleported me here. He needs your help to get out. I can see the door, but he can't leave without you."

You stopped packing. "Is there any possibility this monster is imprisoned behind an invisible door for a reason?"

"Yes...that's why Sans won't help me get him out." Frisk flopped on the sofa. "But I believe everyone can be a good person if they try. Besides, I...we...can't break the barrier unless everyone is able to leave."

"So this guy is a failsafe...okay, second question. How long have you been staying here with Grillby, and why didn't Grillby tell anyone you're safe?"

Frisk narrowed their eyes. "That's two questions."

"I would like answers."

"Two days, and Grillby trusts me."

You froze.

"I know it seemed like months outside the room. But it seemed like only a few hours passed while I was there! The monster said time doesn't exist there."

"Any idea how to get to this door?"

"Just tell me when you're ready and I'll say the magic words!"

"Do I need to click my heels three times and think of home, too?" You retorted. They gave you a confused look.

"You've never seen The Wizard of Oz?"

"Mommy only allowed static on the tv." Frisk said.

No wonder they've adjusted so well here...

"Alright, I'm ready."

They jumped off the sofa and grabbed your hand.

Everything faded to black.

Static and warbling echoed in your ringing ears.

Something slimy and serpentine held your limbs and head against cold metal.

Something warm and smooth brushed against your hair.

You struggled, your vision still obscured.

Frisk.

You had to save Frisk!

"Don't worry, my child is unharmed."

Static peppered the monster's voice...the way the monster referred to Frisk sounded parental rather than how older monsters referred to the younger ones. You remembered something about static. Frisk said something about -

"Yes, they are indeed my child. The only surviving one."

You tried to twist away from whatever was stroking your hair. In response, the slimy thing around your left ankle decided to crawl up your leg!

"Shh..."

"Dude, stop." The tentacle decided to go even higher. That mother -

"Aren't you a spicy one."

"Stop!" Your voice came out as a squeak. "I don't know you, I don't trust you, and I thought I could knock you on your ass like Doggo! Just because we need you out of this weird room to break the barrier..." Your breath hitched as the sound of little feet running towards you reached your ears.

"Wingding...you promised you wouldn't hurt them!"

"I'm not, little one." He made the mistake of looming over you, revealing a cracked, grinning mask wobbling on a gelatinous black blob. You could see the molten remains of a black lab coat and a grey turtleneck shifting within the blob.

"Frisk, RUN!"

Your voice didn't even sound human as you twisted against the tentacles holding you to the table. You managed to free your right arm. A white glow caught your eye - a tiny upside-down heart, streaked with black cracks. Black goo tried to hide it.

Gotcha.

He let out a shriek as you plunged through the goo and grabbed his soul. Your arm was streaked in red and the part that had plunged into him burned as if you'd shredded your flesh on barbed wire but you kept a grip on his soul. You really didn't care what happened to you as long as Frisk got out safe and this fucker couldn't hurt anyone.

Even if you had to dust him.

The black goo vanished, revealing a tiny grey room and Frisk. The poor kid flinched and curled into a little ball as you sat up.

"Frisk. Frisk...I'm here." You scooted over and knelt by them. "Um, I think he's - "

You made the mistake of looking at your arm. You could have sworn you heard someone sighing melodramatically as you passed out from the shock of seeing black streaks radiating outward from the raw, bloody hole carved in your palm.

 

Chapter Text

You woke up to smooth, warm digits gently manipulating the fingers on your right hand. You blinked, seeing -

Sunlight.

You looked around, spotting Papyrus wearing scrubs on one side of your hospital bed, Frisk curled up on the other and Sans napping in the chair.

"IT SEEMS HUMAN ONE-PUNCH HAS MADE A FULL RECOVERY!" Papyrus yelled, waking everyone up.

"My name is what now?" You murmured.

"eh, it fits better than 'drunk'." Sans said. Frisk frowned and signed, [why did you name them that in the first place?]

"they told the weed their name was 'drunk.'"

[Asriel was not a weed, Sans.]

The two bickered about Flowey, who was actually Prince Asriel, and Papyrus left to calm his rattled nerves (bones?) and get you some human food.

It finally dawned on you that you could understand Frisk's signing.

"Uh, Frisk?"

They turned to you and then signed for Papyrus to translate.

"I...I can understand ASL." You said, your heart rate beginning to quicken. "But I didn't before. I was taking classes but...but I wasn't fluent."

Frisk smiled. [It's a side-effect of Wingding's magic.]

"Oh." You took a breath. "So we're on the surface, right?"

"yep."

"Where's Wingding."

Frisk sighed. [Goat Dad pardoned him and gave him his job back. It was the only way he would willingly leave your body.]

You tested your right hand. It looked completely normal, but you would never forget what it had looked like in that room.

"How long."

"over a year." Sans said, his eye sockets flickering.

Papyrus came back with a tray full of human food. After you finished, he exchanged glances with Sans and took Frisk away.

"why didja tell the kid about the wizard of oz..." Sans drawled. "i didn't think i could hate a soundtrack more than mettaton's shit."

You stayed silent.

"heh, you're really determined."

"Just tell me what you can."

 

********

"alright...so that room was a pretty recent failsafe. i got in a fight with wingding, threw him into the void and broke the machine we used to access the void. wingding managed to connect the void to human technology and escape. problem is, he couldn't exist for very long outside the void because of the barrier. so he finds this lonely human scientist trying to solve some really tough problem to help humans, he convinces her he can help but he needs a safe place to sleep to recover his magic." Sans shudders. "she lets him sleep on the couch, which breaks the barrier's effect on him. anyway, she forgets all about him but then nine months later frisk comes into the world. and she finds out she's not alone. hundreds of women, all scientists, none of them knew they were pregnant until they went into labor. one of victims has a mage sister, who tells the mage council, and...well, everyone except frisk and frisk's mom dies in a tragic accident and wingding gets sealed to that room for what they hoped was all eternity. he could still speak to frisk's mom through static channels but because she wasn't a mage, the magic eventually drove her insane. The mages finally found them, frisk's mom died protecting frisk. she told frisk to jump down the hole and look for a gray door.

*******

A heavy silence fell.

You sipped some water, absentmindedly rubbing the back of your hand.

"That explains why he hates humans so much." You finally managed to say.

"he doesn't hate humans." Sans eyelights went out again. "just mages."

"Do humans know what the mages did?"

Sans chuckled. "nah, they're all locked up underground."

You figured that was more than they deserved. What Wingding did was wrong on so many levels but you knew even the worst monster would do what the mages did.

And it was all for...quarantine. You looked at your hand, finally realizing what looked so off about it.

"I don't blame Lindsey for getting sick of Wingdingdong." You muttered.

Sans snorted. "you dodged a bullet. literally."

"what?"

"asshat was a mage, anyway."

The world seemed to stop.

Was.

"the humans never figured out wingding was possessing you. mages knew so obviously you and the kid were targets. thing is, human weapons can't do jack shit to monsters and mages officially don't exist. so officially lindsey tried to kill you and paps out of jealousy." Sans had a total shit-eating grin on his face. "my brother is so cool."

You couldn't imagine Papyrus killing anyone even in self-defence, so obviously you - or Wingding - had killed Lindsey.

You would have killed in self-defence, but how far had Wingding gone to torment Lindsey before death?

But...when did you develop a relationship with Papyrus serious enough to convince billions of humans Lindsey had tried to kill you and Papyrus out of jealousy? Papyrus was cool, yes, but he had too much honor to enable cheating.

You weren't a cheater, meaning 'you' must have broken up with Lindsey first.

Were you a meat puppet the entire time?

Did you have to do anything to...earn...your freedom?

Is that why you can't remember anything?

Oh god I hope Wingding doesn't have some weird incest thing with Papyrus...

Or Sans.

Sans had fallen asleep and you were about to nod off when Papyrus knocked. Sans kept right on sleeping. Or maybe he was pretending. You couldn't tell.

"HUMAN ONE-PUNCH?" Papyrus said from behind the closed door. "ERR...WINGDING HAS SOMETHING TO TELL YOU. HE INSISTS IT CAN'T WAIT."

"Yeah, well I've got something to tell him first." You retorted. Maybe it was a good thing Sans was asleep...

You heard whispers from behind the door.

"ALRIGHT, BUT NO NAME CALLING, SWEARING, OR UNDERHANDED ATTACK PATTERNS ALLOWED."

You eyed Sans, who was dozing.

"'Pyrus, I can't speak to your brother in a civil manner right now."

"I HAVE -"

"He's not allowed in this room or anywhere near me."

"WHAT IF YOU WERE ALLOWED TO CALL NAMES, SWEAR, AND USE UNDERHANDED ATTACK PATTERNS?"

You rubbed your aching chest. "'Pyrus that's not -"

"YOU'RE STILL ANGRY WITH HIM, AREN'T YOU."

"Papyrus Herculaneum Aster - " you intoned - fucking hell, what was wrong with your voice?!

Sans shot upright and off the chair like someone had poked his tailbone, his right eye socket glowing cyan.

"Sans what the fuck -" You hissed. He settled back in his chair, his bones rattling.

"don' you ever talk to paps like that. ever again. you hear me?" He hissed back.

"ARE YOU ARGUING WITH SANS NOW?" Papyrus said.

"No, but apparently I'm not supposed to say your full name! Just like I wasn't supposed to tell you I didn't jump in the ruins, or how humans didn't NEED TO BE SUICIDAL TO SEE THE HOLE, or -"

You heard a guitar riff emanating from Sans' ribcage, only for it to stop as he shot off the chair...as if someone had poked his tailbone again. He growled and teleported out of the room.

"HUMAN ONE-PUNCH...WINGDING ALSO WANTS TO APOLOGIZE."

You eyed the empty chair. "Is he actually sorry?"

"YES, HE ACTUALLY IS SORRY! HE FEELS GUILT, SHAME, AND REMORSE FOR NOT JUST POSSESSING YOU, BUT ALSO FOR HIS MANY CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY."

You knew Papyrus could stand outside the door indefinitely..."Fine. But I still don't want to be in the same room as him without someone else there." You looked both ways. "Ever."

"THAT IS COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE!"

You braced yourself. Your worst nightware was going to walk through that door and -

Papyrus approached, his massive gloved hands holding Wingdings like one would hold a newborn kitten.

Because Wingdings had shrunk to the size of a newborn kitten.

Wingdings sighed as Papyrus sat gently on the foot of your bed, then placed Wingdings beside him.

[I'm sorry.]

And he really, truly meant he was sorry for something...you just weren't quite sure what.

You still didn't want to stay with him unsupervised.

Even if he could pass for the Pillsbury Doughboy's shadow, you knew just how dangerous he could be.

"I...I accept your apology."

He tottered over, a dark purple tint flashing across his chubby cheeks as he stumbled. You didn't know whether to help him or let him learn to walk in his new form.

"Is this urgent matter that couldn't wait related to you uh...being really small?"

He sighed melodramatically. [Cipher fonts such as myself are the actual inspiration for human nightmare myths. I am attempting to appear cute, rather than nightmarish.]

"Why. Why would you do that..."

[The mages are trapped beneath the mountain yet their ideology still persists through social media. I believe much of the underlying hardware and software involved in this type of technology is actually repurposed ancient monster technology.]

"THAT IS WHY THE DELTA KINGDOM STILL NEEDS YOUR HELP, HUMAN ONE-PUNCH." Papyrus said, his browbone furrowed as he rubbed at his own sternum. "FRISK IS A CHILD, AND EVEN IF THEY WERE GROWN THEY MIGHT STILL SET OFF ANTI-MONSTER DEVICES SINCE WINGDING IS THEIR BIOLOGICAL PARENT. YOU ARE THE ONLY OTHER HUMAN WE CAN TRUST ON THIS VITAL MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT."

He looked good in scrubs.

Handsome, really.

You glanced at Wingding, who was looking back and forth between you two and smirking.

"You got something to say, Squishy?"

"OH, WINGDING IS JUST JEALOUS." Papyrus said, as Wingding sighed and threw up his tiny hands.

"What..."

"NYEH-HEH-HEH...WE ARE SOULMATES." Papyrus said, blushing. "I WAS GOING TO TELL YOU AFTER THINGS CALMED DOWN. BUT YOU ARE MY EQUAL IN GREATNESS, SO I CAN'T HIDE FROM YOUR AMAZING SOUL-SEARCHING ABILITIES. IT WOULD BE LIKE DECEIVING MYSELF. WHICH IS NOW IMPOSSIBLE NOW THAT I'M NO LONGER UNDER THE MAGES' INFLUENCE..." Papyrus grinned even wider, and it was like Death himself was smiling at you. "I'M EVEN GREATER THAN WHEN WE FIRST MET! NYEH!" He stood up and posed, his scarf flowing behind him.

You remembered being scared of Sans. You remembered being absolutely fucking terrified of Wingding.

You thought you would never fear The Great Papyrus. He was a cinnamon roll. A sweetheart who could do no wrong. Too pure for this world.

But you didn't really know Papyrus, did you?

"People who are truly great don't feel the need to go around talking about their greatness." You retorted. "And I don't remember anything! So I don't actually know you."

"WAIT, YOU STILL DON'T REMEMBER?"

"No, I -"

Papyrus shoved you on the bed, his hand on your sternum.

You blacked out from the pain...