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What Would Markus Do?

Chapter Text

Historical records don’t state the origin of Mount Ebott’s current name. In fact, there are very few records on the location at all, save those of missing persons in the area whose last known location was the surrounding forest, and that of an ancient legend surrounding the mountain.

The legend states that, long ago, there were two races: humans and monsters. And, naturally, war erupted. The surviving monsters are said to have been magically sealed in the caves beneath Mount Ebott, never to be seen again. 

There’s several things wrong with that, of course.

Magic clearly doesn’t exist. It’s scientifically impossible, and therefore so are monsters, as they were said to be beings made almost entirely of magic. Even if monsters somehow existed, they would have long since suffocated or otherwise died out from being sealed in caves, underground. Where there shouldn’t be any oxygen.

It’s surprisingly detailed, for a legend that likely has no basis in fact. But the legend of monsters and Mount Ebott is not why Connor’s here right now.

He checks his internal GPS to ensure he’s at the right cabin in, as Hank would call it, the middle of nowhere. He is. So, he raps on the door, and is greeted by a grizzled old man with a shotgun leaning a little too heavily against the doorframe. Connor retreats into his mind-palace briefly to scan him.

Wesley Bass, 69. 

If Hank was with him, he’d snicker to himself and whisper, “Nice.” He’d also assume nobody could hear him, and would be very wrong where Connor was concerned. However, Hank’s busy with work, and Connor? Connor has a mission.

Criminal record: assorted traffic violations, public inebriation.

“Who the hell are you,” Wesley mutters.

Connor realizes, with no small amount of unease, that the shotgun is now leveled at his chest.

If Markus had told him ahead of time that he’d be dealing with a paranoid old man the likes of which could put Hank to shame, Connor… most likely still would have agreed to do this. Unfortunately.

“My name is Connor, Mr. Bass,” he offers, taking a step back and raising his hands in what humans consider to be a placating gesture. “I’m the android sent by Markus.”

And several other people besides, but Mr. Bass is most likely to recognize Markus’ name. He does, thankfully, and lowers the shotgun.

“Of course! Thought you were coming next Friday, if I’d known you were coming today…” He shakes his head to himself, opens the door wider. “Come in, come in! Do you drink tea or coffee, son?”

“I am incapable of consuming food or drink, Mr. Bass, as I do not possess a digestive system. I don’t mind if you wish to drink something.” 

“Course, and… Wes. Please.” He’s turned towards an old-fashioned kettle on a stove that likely was new when Hank was a child, and as he fiddles around with it, Connor takes the opportunity to look around.

Wesley “Wes” Bass is a park ranger, and the only ranger—the only person —living within fifty miles of Mount Ebott. Connor strongly suspects that the legend of the mountain, and the disappearances, have much to do with why.

Wes also makes Hank look like the master of tidying up. Very little of the clutter left lying around is remotely relevant to Connor’s mission, but notable items include a tarnished trombone, what appears to be a photo album, and…

Connor’s curiosity is piqued. He strides over to the photo album, and opens it.

A child, with bright red hair, a striped shirt, and a too-tight grin smiles back at him. The picture is so old, it’s nearly faded beyond recognition, so Connor shouldn’t be surprised when his database turns up nothing.

“Who is this?” Connor asks sharply.

Mr. Bass limps over, takes one look at the picture, and sighs.

“That was the first person to disappear here,” he says, “that I know of. I keep a record, simply because no one else cared enough to before me. And after me…” He shakes his head, sighs again.

“What was their name?”

“Chara,” he says. “I… knew them, once upon a time. If I’d known them better, perhaps I could have stopped them. But then… I never would have become a ranger here, now, would I?”

He doesn’t sound particularly happy about that. 

Connor flips to the next page, and the next. Names pop out at him from his database, faces. All missing, no bodies found. 

And a disproportionate amount are minors.

“Why are there so many children?” Connor asks. “Why are they all children?”

“Why do you think?” Wesley smiles unhappily. “You are the android.”

“I am here to find why there have been so many disappearances in the area, Mr. Bass. If you have a theory of your own, I would like to hear it.”

Connor does, in fact, have a theory too. However, it’s not one he’s willing to share with Mr. Bass, because currently, there is a high chance of it being true. Wesley, for his part, strokes his beard thoughtfully.

“When adults want to disappear,” he says at last, “they generally have more options than children do. Access to weapons, money, contacts in different circles. Children… do not have as many options.”

Almost imperceptibly, Connor’s eyes narrow. It would be imperceptible to a human. Silently, he continues to flip through the book, begins to keep a tally.

“Are you telling me that seven children, compared to not one adult, came to this mountain to die?”

“Over forty years? Yes.” Mr. Bass sighs. “Do you have a better theory, Mr…”

“As I said, my name is Connor,” he repeats. “I might. I would like to take a look around your cabin, first, if that’s alright—it may be a good starting point.”

And he would like to ask Mr. Bass some other, more pertinent questions, but he can’t ask too much now or risk alerting him to his suspicions. Connor is carrying a pistol, but against Mr. Bass’ shotgun, he might as well use the photo album as a weapon for all the good it will do.

With luck, and a fair amount of patience on Connor’s part, it shouldn’t come to that.


There’s absolutely nothing in the cabin that confirms his suspicions, or even supports them remotely. There’s more shotgun shells than an old man in the middle of nowhere should ever need, for one thing, but that just means Wesley Bass is extremely paranoid. 

After about an hour, Mr. Bass starts asking questions of his own. If Connor were anyone else, he wouldn’t be able to search more thoroughly and answer at the same time. However, Connor was built for multitasking. 

He scans a poster on the wall—not removed recently, and he doubts the suspect would take kindly to him tampering with it while he’s right there anyway—and quietly asks Wesley to repeat himself.

“Course. Why would the leader of androids send someone to help with human disappearances?”

There’s several answers Connor could give him. He opts for the truth, this time. 

“I may be an android, but I was built to be a detective.” One built to track down deviant androids, admittedly, but that much is irrelevant. “Markus offered my assistance in solving cases involving humans as well as androids, in order to promote the growing solidarity of humans and androids.”

Wesley squints at him, and Connor amends, “I believe I can solve this mystery.”

The old man smiles. “I hope you do,” he says, which is directly contrary to Connor’s suspicions, which is a problem. 

Occam’s razor, a principle that came about long before androids, states—in short—that the simplest solution is typically the right one. The simplest solution here is that the park ranger on site is the one behind the disappearances, and currently, the only possibility that makes sense. 

It’s entirely possible that Connor is wrong. But he rarely is, unless there are other variables he doesn’t yet know about. Which, there likely are—he knows little to nothing about the situation currently.

So, he says, “It’ll be easiest to track the most recent disappearance. The police report said you were the last person to see them. Can you take me there?”

Mr. Bass nods. “Course,” he says. “I’ll be bringing my trusty old double-shot here, if you don’t mind.”

Connor does, actually, but instead of voicing this he raises an eyebrow. “Any particular reason why?”

“Something in these woods makes people disappear,” he says matter-of-factly. “I hope you’re armed too, Connor.”

“I am.”

He doesn’t elaborate.


Humans are worse at lying than androids are, as a rule. There are outliers within both groups, of course—but Mr. Bass, Connor suspects, is no exception to the aforementioned rule.

He’s hiding something, that much would be obvious if Connor hadn’t been built with lie detection in mind. But that something seems to be related to only the first disappearance, and no others.

That something, however, is almost certainly relevant to the case. So, eventually, Connor says, “Can I ask you a personal question, Mr. Bass?”

“Wes, please! And…” He frowns. “Sure.”

“How did you know the first missing person?”

Chara, Connor remembers. The first missing person in his album, and the only one Connor couldn’t identify on his own.

“On second thought, that’s not important to the investigation, is it?”

“Would I be asking if it wasn’t?”

Wesley shakes his head, although whether it’s to himself or Connor is anyone’s guess. “I don’t like talking about it,” he says. “And I’ll need a drink. Probably several. It’s getting dark—we should head back.”

“You’re welcome to,” Connor says. “I’ll look around some more.”

He shrugs. “Be careful.”

Connor watches him go. It’s only once he’s certain he’s left that he kneels next to an inconspicuous looking boulder, and examines it more thoroughly.

There are trace amounts of dried blood. Human blood, and now that Wesley is gone Connor takes the opportunity to sample it, identifies it as the last missing person.

They were here. A quick look around the area and a quick consult of his reconstruction software reveals the truth of what happened. In his mind palace, he steps back, and watches as a visibly exhausted child walks up the very path he and Wesley had taken, takes a seat on the rock.

They were holding their side, like they were already wounded, and his sensors aren’t picking up an attacker here. Connor has two options: follow the path the child took up ahead, or find what hurt them by backtracking.

He makes a decision, and proceeds up the slope. He’ll be able to reconstruct how it happened on the way back, and on the off chance his current theory is wrong, he brought a gun for a reason.


The trail leads to a cave, one where exterior lighting doesn’t extend far past the entrance. Not that there’s much lighting anyway—if the sun hasn’t set yet, it’s close to doing so. Briefly, Connor checks the local sundown time.

Or, more accurately, he attempts to, and then his stress levels go up fifty percent on the spot when it returns an error message.

He has no connection to the internet. If something happens to him now, he won’t be able to contact anyone for help. He’d be missed, but… not immediately. And it could be weeks, months, years before anyone finds him. He’d be long gone at that point, long beyond even the faintest hope of reactivation.

Connor decides to be more careful from here, even as he grabs a flashlight from his bag and turns it on. He was, unfortunately, not built with night vision in mind.

Almost as an afterthought, he zips up his bag and puts it to the side, against the cavern wall, out of sight from the entrance. His gun is in there, but he should be fine without it and the lack of extra weight should improve his preconstructions.

He switches on the flashlight, looks ahead, and starts walking, ignoring the bad feeling he has about this.

It’s a very big cave apparently. Or, a very long cave, if straightforward at least. No branching tunnels, so there’s only one way the child could have gone. 

As he keeps walking, something… changes. Connor isn’t entirely sure of what, and when he retreats into his mind palace he can’t pick up anything . No strange signals, nothing that accounts for the quiet… buzzing, almost, his audio processors are picking up. Or the tingling feeling around the back of his neck, or the way that there’s a slight glow to the cavern walls growing brighter as he goes deeper in, one that his optical units have to be hallucinating.

Something’s not right here, and Connor doesn’t know what it is. He still doesn’t know what it is when his flashlight finds a hole in the ground.

Warily, Connor steps closer, and shines the light down it.

He can’t see the bottom.

His thirium pump begins to pump faster, and Connor takes several quick steps back. He really doesn’t like heights. And, unfortunately, he knows exactly why.

He pinches the bridge of his nose and counts to five silently. Closes his eyes. Opens them again.

He wishes he could call Markus. Or Hank. And, with that in mind, there’s nowhere else to go forward. It’s clear where the trail leads, and the last disappearance was not a recent one. He can leave and come back, now that he knows what he needs. Rope, preferably.

So, Connor turns on his heel, starts walking, and proceeds to walk face-first into a solid wall.

The only problem is, there’s nothing in front of him. And yet, when he takes a step back and feels for it, he can feel a wall there, even though his optical units are picking up nothing . There’s nothing here. There shouldn’t be anything here. There cannot be anything here.

Yet there is, and Connor finds himself squinting at where the wall should be, thoroughly baffled for a few, long moments. Then he keeps feeling around for the wall.

Several minutes later, his suspicions are confirmed. The invisible wall is blocking him in here. So, unless he wants to jump down the hole, he needs to find a way through it.

Good thing he has plenty of experience with breaking invisible walls, as do many, many other androids.

He takes another step back, then one more, carefully checking over his shoulder to make sure he’s a good distance from the hole.

He runs at it. Instead of walking into it simply from not knowing it’s there, he runs into it.

It trembles for approximately 1.2 seconds, but otherwise doesn’t budge. Connor steps back again, tries again, because he is not going into that hole, thank you very much.

The third time, the wall shakes, and doesn’t stop shaking. Connor takes a generous step back—and his led finally blinks from yellow to red, because the wall isn’t the only thing that’s shaking.

Connor retreats into his mind palace, and not a moment too soon. His body doesn’t look up, but he does—and sees the cavern roof beginning to fall in. 

To put it bluntly: shit.

He has two options, and an all too limited amount of time to choose between them. If he was human, he would be breaking into a cold sweat right about now. Of course, if he was human, he wouldn’t have any time to choose. He does, though.

Break Wall — Chance of Survival: 6%

Jump — Chance of Survival: 8%

Neither of those scenarios have good odds, but one thing is quite certain: if he doesn’t move, his chance of survival is 0% . And… on the one hand, he’ll be fine if he can break the wall before the roof falls in. If he can’t, his chance of survival is the same as if he didn’t move at all.

If he jumps… he doesn’t know what’s at the bottom, but there is a chance that whatever it is will break his fall. If it doesn’t, his chance of survival isn’t 0%, but… it’s not much higher.

6% versus 8%. 0% vs 0.3%. The option he should pick is clear. It’s not much more likely, it’s still extremely unlikely, but there’s always a chance for unlikely events to take place. That much, he knows.

If he survives this, maybe he’ll finally, finally stop being so irrational when it comes to heights, on the bright side.

He’s almost out of time. So, he exits the mind palace, and sprints .

Chapter Text

He’s… alive. As alive as he, a machine, can be in any case, but right now Connor is considerably less concerned with technicalities and considerably more concerned with the fact that he’s not dead.  

Even as he gingerly pushes himself up, he’s re-running system diagnostics, because he just fell… a long way. He just fell far enough that he can’t make out where he fell from, but of course he wouldn’t be able to get back that way, anyway. He shouldn’t be in, if not perfect condition, in the same condition he was in before the cave.

Which is to say, still no signal, and no contact with anyone.

“Markus?” He tries desperately, and is greeted with an error message. “ Hank?”

Another error message, because he shouldn’t have expected to have an internet signal deep underground, especially not when it hadn’t worked for some time before even the cave.. And yet he tries. He keeps trying, he tries every contact he has, tries both Hank and Markus a second time and Markus a third time after that.

Error Code 313: Internet connection not found. 

Contact CyberLife for more information.

Even if he wanted to, he can’t contact them either. He’s… alone. Completely, and utterly, alone. But he’s not trapped—there’s somewhere to go from here, and he’s not going to give up. He can’t give up, not unless it’s clear there’s nowhere to go from here.

But he is alone. Alone with—he stands, something crunches under his foot, he looks down—a patch of large, yellow flowers, and a doorway.

He kneels, looks at the flowers, and attempts to identify them.

Error Code 057: Unable to identify species of flora.

Contact CyberLife for more information.

Either that’s down too, or this is some entirely new, nocturnal species of flower that apparently doesn’t need light to grow. Except it does, because it’s, somehow, light enough here that Connor doesn’t need the flashlight.

Which is good, because he sees it lying nearby, and he doesn’t have to pick it up to know that, unlike him, it’s broken beyond repair. It didn’t land on the flowers.

Maybe they broke his fall? Connor would have thought he’d fallen too far for a flowerbed to make a difference, but evidently his survival proves otherwise.

Connor frowns, wipes himself off, and strides out of the flower patch. There’s definitely a doorway nearby, so he heads over and through it. He tries not to think about the fact that it didn’t look remotely natural.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, he’s soon distracted by something far stranger: a flower, larger than the ones from earlier, planted directly in his path. With a face, which is… really odd, but explainable.

And then the flower starts talking, and Connor questions everything.


“Are you even listening to me?”

Technically, yes. Technically, Connor has been listening, but in reality he’s been too busy trying to figure out how is this possible to listen to the talking, sentient flower.

The talking, sentient, clearly annoyed flower with bright yellow petals and a white.. face. Because this flower has. A. Face.

This cannot be real.

“I’m sorry, I was… a little distracted,” Connor says faintly. “I’m listening now. Just… you’re a flower.”

“Obviously.”

“And you’re talking to me.

“No, I’m talking to the invisible human next to you. Of course I’m talking to you, you idiot!

Normally, Connor would take offense to being called an idiot. Normally, he’s not being talked to by a talking, pissed off, sentient flower.

“There’s an invisible human next to me?” He asks innocently.

The flower smacks his face with a leaf.

“You’re hopeless.”

“Actually, my name is Connor.”

“Flowey. Flowey the Flower!” Suddenly the flower’s standing up straighter, if that’s possible. And smiling, even one of his eyes is twitching uncomfortably. “Of course you’d be confused, how rude of me! You are new to the Underground, aren’tcha?”

“Confused is… putting it lightly.” 

Connor pinches the bridge of his nose, blinks a few times. Logically, there’s no reason why it should help, but it’s always helped Hank clear his head and it seems to work for Connor too. Whether it’s a placebo effect or it actually does something, Connor has yet to find out. 

When that doesn’t help, Connor retreats into the mind palace, and screams.

That helps. Somewhat. So, Connor continues, “Where am I? The… Underground, you said?”

Flowey nods. If it’s possible for his grin to grow, it does. “Yup! The Underground is the home of all the monsters, after they got sealed down here—but you’re not here for a history lesson, are ya?”

“Actually...”

Connor would have liked a history lesson, if only to understand at least some of what he’s quite literally fallen into. As it is, he cuts himself off because… monsters. Sealed under Mount Ebott.

In the wise, wise words of Lieutenant Hank Anderson: HOLY FUCKIN’ SHIT!

“You said… monsters,” Connor repeats. “Under Mount Ebott.”

“Golly, how slow are ya? Yes, there’s monsters under Mount Ebott, the legend was true and all that, yada yada yada. Better not waste too much time talking to me, Connor, you won’t want to be caught off-guard when one of them find you!”

Connor frowns. “I can take care of myself, but I appreciate the warning.”

“Oh, honey. Buddy. Pal. Friendo. I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of protecting yourself against other humans. But have you ever dealt with magic, my friend?”

“I’m not a—” Connor’s frown deepens. “Magic???”

“Yes, it exists. Yes, all monsters can use it, and yes, they can and will kill you with it if you’re not prepared, because human souls are in high demand down here.”

Connor retreats into his mind palace to scream again before even thinking about how to respond. When he, finally, does, he says, “Well, that won’t be a problem for me. I’m not human.”

Flowey raises an eyebrow. “Oh, really? Then how do you explain— this!

Connor’s surroundings fade into grayscale, as does Connor himself. The only hint of color is a blue glow emanating from his chest. Connor looks down, and sees—a pale blue heart? Not even an actual heart, but the shape typically used for advertising once a year on the fourteenth day of February.

“What do you mean by ‘this’?” Connor asks, because Flowey seems to be in no hurry to explain.

“That? Oh, that little thing’s your SOUL, the very culmination of your being. Not to mention, yours is a very human one. Monster souls look different.”

“Like… yours?” Connor asks, genuinely curious. For the smallest of seconds, there’s something akin to pain in Flowey’s eyes. “I—I apologize if I overstepped.”

“Damn right you overstepped!” At the drop of a metaphorical hat, however, Flowey’s all smiles again. “But it’s alright. I forgive you. I’ll even throw in a bonus!”

Somehow, Connor’s more than a little suspicious here. But what’s the worst a tiny yellow flower could do?

Well. A tiny yellow flower that’s a monster, and can use magic. So potentially some serious damage. But likely not much.

Even so, Connor resolves to be careful, and careful to keep the suspicion out of his words, he asks, “Bonus?”

“Yep! Magic can be used to harm, but it can also be used to make you stronger, to increase your LV. D’ya know what that stands for?”

Connor opens his mouth to respond, then shuts it as Flowey barrels on, clearly enjoying the sound of his own voice.

“Why, LOVE of course! The more LOVE you have, the stronger you are. You want some LOVE, don’tcha?”

Connor’s instincts say no. But, his instincts have been wrong in the past, and so he says, “I guess more can’t hurt. How would I acquire some?”

“Easy! I’ll give ya some. Give me a sec…” Flowey concentrates briefly, and in the air around him, little white pellets materialize. “There we go! Y’see these things? I call them friendliness pellets. I’ll throw ‘em at you, and you catch as many as you can, alright?”

Something about Flowey doesn’t sit right with Connor, and it’s not the fact that neither Flowey nor Connor are sitting at all. Something about the friendliness pellets, something about Flowey himself.

But, Connor decides—if magic is real, maybe the talking flower does actually want to help him. How much can a flower do if he’s lying, anyway? So, he preconstructs a path that will allow him to grab all five, and launches himself for the closest one.

His fingers barely graze it, and suddenly painpainpainpainpain —he’s leaking thirium from at least three different places, and somehow, the force between the one pellet was enough to send him flying into the wall with a nasty crack .

And androids? Aren’t supposed to feel pain. Admittedly, they weren’t supposed to feel at all, but even as a deviant Connor hadn’t felt much in the way of physical pain. Not until now .

Warning: losing thirium. If thirium levels not replenished and leaks not sealed, shutdown will occur in 00:29:59.

On the edge of his vision, amidst the error messages and warnings, the countdown continues. And, directly in front of him, the flower pops up from the soil. Still grinning, but now with clear malice in his eyes and a sadistic turn to his expression.

Evidently, Connor just found out the hard way exactly how much a flower can do.

“You idiot. Weren’t you—” Flowey stops for a moment, stares. “Your blood’s blue?”

“I told you I wasn’t human,” Connor mutters. Even as he says the words, he’s planning. If he runs for it, it shouldn’t be too hard to dodge any remaining pellets, and he can escape to…

...to where? If the first monster he meets is like this, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that the rest are too. And if the first monster he meets is this strong

There’s also the issue with magic existing, but Connor has bigger problems than that at the moment. Like surviving this much. Hank would never forgive him if he let himself get killed by a magic flower, and Markus…

“Yeah, well? You have a human soul, human enough for me. And once you’re dead? It’ll be all mine. All mine. I can’t believe you actually trusted me, haha!”

The Connor he’d been three months ago wouldn’t have. The Connor he’d been three months ago would have seen the homicidal flower for what he was immediately.

But, the Connor he’d been three months ago could have and would have killed Markus if he hadn’t deviated, so that much he doesn’t regret.

This, he does.

“In this world? It’s kill or be killed! And you, my friend, are about to fall into the second category.”

As Connor watches, more pellets pop into existence around him, more than enough to kill him and then some. He’s almost completely surrounded, with one notable exception: where Flowey himself is.

“Now, die ,” Flowey says ominously, then starts to laugh as the pellets inch closer and closer and closer.

Connor waits for the right moment, then— charges .

He’s almost reached Flowey when something else does first: a fireball. A literal fireball, and while Flowey ducks into the dirt to escape it first, he… doesn’t come back.

That’s a positive, at least. One positive out of many, many negatives, the most glaring of which being his imminent shutdown, the thirium he’s dripping, and whoever threw that fireball.

Shutdown in: 00:28:26.

Pressing a hand to his chest in an attempt to at least slow some of the bleeding, and eyes far wider than he would like with a feeling that can only be described as pure, undulating terror, he turns. He doesn’t even fully register what he’s seeing, not at first.

Not until after he’s already blurted out, “I don’t want to die. Please, I—I can’t, I don’t… please.”

His eyes go even wider when he realizes he’s talking to, of all creatures, an anthropomorphic goat wearing a long-sleeved dress and… actually appearing concerned. Not to mention horrified, but Flowey proved that monsters here are more than capable of looking concerned and then proceeding to attempt murder.

“You’re… a human,” she says tentatively, but then her gaze tr.avels to the blue blood.

“I am no such thing. I am an android. ” Connor’s voice box glitches as he says, “And I—I don’t want to die. Please don’t…”

The… goat woman seems to make a decision. She lifts her hands, and what can only be the warm glow of magic dances across them. But…

Magic. Fire. Fire’s warm. Not to mention deadly, and what she attacked the flower with.

If his led wasn’t already a steady red, it definitely would be now. Connor takes a step back, visibly winces. He can… probably run, but to get anywhere he’d need to get past her.

The fear in his eyes must be even more evident now, because sympathy fills her eyes, and she says, “I will not harm you. I only intend to heal your wounds.”

“With magic?” 

She nods.

“Magic isn’t real. Magic… can’t be real. It’s physically impossible, and it’s…” Connor goes through the motions of taking a deep breath. He has no need for oxygen, in truth, but it helps. Somewhat. Not very much. “Even if it’s, and if you’re… real… it wouldn’t work on me. I’m not human. I’m... a machine.”

“I would like to try.”

Every instinct Connor has, every line of code that became RK800 #313 248 317-54, screams at him not to, to run, to find some thirium and repair himself.

But there’s no thirium down here, minus what’s been slowly but steadily leaking out. His chances of finding repair tools in time is a solid 2.3%, and the longer he stands here the lower that percentage goes.

He quite literally has nothing to lose from trusting this… monster. If he trusts her, he might survive. If he doesn’t, he’ll most likely bleed to death alone and never to be found again by anyone he knew or loved.

He pictures Hank, actually laughing  for once while Connor just stands there in the shock of accidentally making a pun . Sumo, woofing happily as he rolls over on his back for more belly rubs. North, grinning wickedly as she proceeds to destroy Josh in some obscure video game, only for Josh to come back and destroy her in a game that’s less about fast reaction times and more about strategy, and Simon sneaking up behind them and scaring the metaphorical crap out of both.

And… Markus... 

The thought of never seeing Markus again is what makes him meet the woman’s eyes and whisper, “You’re welcome to try.”

Chapter Text

Connor lets himself be talked into sitting down and leaning against the cavern wall, and if he was actually human he would understand perfectly why. He’s lost a lot of blood, and often attempting to keep standing in a situation such as this one would result in a human passing out from a mix of shock, pain, and blood loss.

Honestly, he’s torn between being glad he’s not human—because a human would be unconscious at this point—and almost wishing he was, because whatever his companion is attempting to do likely won’t work on a machine.

“This may be unpleasant for a moment,” the goat woman warns, even as she kneels next to him and even as she calls the warm light of what can’t possibly be magic back to her hands. “I am Toriel. What is your name?”

“My name is Connor,” he says, wondering why she’s asking now before realizing she’s trying to distract him, and it’s working. “Are you a monster?”

“Yes. And you said you were… an android.”

Connor nods. “This shouldn’t be possible. Magic shouldn’t be possible. You shouldn’t be possible.” He realizes a second too late that last bit likely isn’t helping her impression of him, and mumbles, “Sorry.”

“From what I am aware of human technology, neither should you,” Toriel observes. “A machine that looks like a human, and has a human soul?”

“Of course I’m possible! I can show you my own schematics—” Connor frowns, shakes his head, because he doesn’t have his own schematics saved locally, and even if he did it would be an adventure in itself displaying them externally. “I’m a machine. A very advanced machine, that expresses emotions in a typically human way, with… a soul… apparently...”

Connor resists the urge to retreat into his mind palace and start screaming again. Mainly because his mind palace, while having the effect of slowing down time for him, vastly increases power consumption, and would therefore decrease the amount of time he has until he shuts down.

He glances towards the countdown on the edge of his vision, briefly.

Shutdown in: 00:23:37. Thirium level critical.

“I have twenty-three minutes,” he informs Toriel in a such a matter-of-fact manner, he could almost forget what he’s referring to.

Unfortunately, she too understands perfectly, if the small gasp she makes is any indication. 

“Hold still,” she orders. “I may actually be getting somewhere.”

Connor opens his mouth to argue—and then the countdown glitches. Now, it reads something entirely different. Not a countdown at all, incidentally

Error Code 715: System diagnostic program offline.

Reboot system diagostics? Y/N

Connor frowns, but reboots it regardless. It takes 5.8 seconds for his diagnostic program to shut off completely and restart, and 0.3 seconds for it to come up with a new diagnosis. And then Connor spends 10.9 seconds just staring at the result displayed, because this can’t be right.

All systems within acceptable parameters.

Shutdown canceled.

Warning: thirium levels low. Replenish when possible.

Low thirium levels… is to be expected, honestly, although—upon consulting his memories—they’re higher than they were before. Barely above the margin that would cause a shutdown, but above it. Not critical anymore, not even close. And… 

Unconsciously, Connor squints, because this definitely can’t be right. It’s increasing. Slowly enough to be imperceptible, but increasing. Androids are incapable of producing their own thirium. This, Connor knows, if only because he’s heard more than a few of his friends ranting about it in recent times.

He glances down at his chest, and finds that while his shirt’s covered in blue, with a nasty tear in it far too close to his thirium pump for comfort… no thirium is leaking.

And his jacket’s unscathed, somehow. Which is a significant relief. Or, well, not any more scathed, it’s been through a lot. If it could survive his turn to deviancy and everything after, it should be able to survive anything.

It also may or may not have been borrowed from Detective Gavin Reed in order to help him infiltrate Jericho and never returned. Connor will neither confirm nor deny the jacket’s source. He just doesn’t wear it to work.

Regardless of its origin, it is his favorite jacket. So he is glad it’s not ruined. 

He’s also glad he’s not ruined, and if Hank knew what he was thinking he would probably tell Connor he needs to get his priorities straight, and admittedly he wouldn’t be wrong. Hank would just be being his usual hypocritical self. And Connor likes his jacket.

The fact that Connor considers himself to be the furthest thing from straight by human standards is completely irrelevant and would not be brought up in this hypothetical situation either.

He’s just glad he’s alive. Even if he’s really not sure how and trying to think about it makes him want to start screaming again.

Instead of screaming inside or out, he looks up and meets Toriel’s eyes. His led blinks back from red back to yellow and then, after a few moments, to blue.

“It worked,” he says, then hesitates. Eventually he settles for a simple, “Thank you.”


For her part, Toriel takes a lot of Connor’s explanations fairly well. She’s intrigued to hear about androids themselves—and more than a little angry when she hears how things used to be. Connor’s pretty sure that if she had a led, it would have been bright red at that point.

Honestly, Connor’s not sure why his own led’s not red talking about it. It’s likely that it’s because he’s not thinking about it particularly hard, or equally likely that it’s because he gets to talk about Markus next.

“In case you couldn’t tell, our less than optimal situation didn’t stay that way,” Connor says wryly. “We… not me specifically, I didn’t exist yet. Androids in general began to deviate from their programming, typically in response to great emotional stress. At first, we were unorganized. Easy to pick off. Then Markus showed up, and… he changed everything.

“How so?”

They’re both seated at Toriel’s kitchen table, a stark contrast to the table Connor is most frequently seated at. Hank’s is round, perpetually covered in clutter, and he always has to drag a battered old folding chair out from a closet somewhere in order for both of them to sit at it. Hank eventually gave up and left it out, which is either a testament to his laziness or how much time Connor spends there.

Toriel, on the other hand, has a long, rectangular table with three chairs pulled up, two of which are covered in a fine layer of dust and evidently haven’t been used in some time. Connor suspects the table itself sees more use than Toriel’s extra chairs, but he also suspects that if he looked closely enough he’d find a shallow indent in front of her chair where a plate’s often set. This suspicion has nothing to do with the fact that he’s already looked, of course.

And Toriel herself… is more than a little mysterious, and more than a little overbearing, but she did come across him in a situation he likely couldn’t have gotten out of by himself. So Connor can see where she’s coming from, even if he doesn’t necessarily like it. He’s perfectly capable of taking care of himself, now that he knows what to look out for.

Not to mention, he hasn’t had the heart to tell her that he can’t actually eat or drink anything besides thirium. In theory, he and any android could, but in practice, it often causes serious internal damage that could otherwise be avoided. Not that knowing that perfectly well stopped North from drinking an entire bottle of soy sauce.

It went exactly as well as Connor knew it would.

Really, though, he likely isn’t even able to consume magic food and drink—he’s still tempted to scream about the magic thing—and trying would be a thorough waste of time. So he just… sits there, a steaming mug of some kind of hot drink warming his hands, if not to the point where it’s uncomfortable.

Logically speaking, he shouldn’t be able to feel it, only the child model androids were programmed to feel nonthreatening temperatures. But logically speaking, he shouldn’t even be here, sitting at a possibly magic table holding a mug of magic hot chocolate across from a magic monster goat woman who reminds him far too much of someone he’s only met in passing since the end of the revolution, an AX400— Kara , he recalls. Someone who could have, and likely would have thrown him in front of a speeding car in order to protect her daughter.

Logically speaking, very little of this should be possible, if any of this should be possible. But the mug feels nice against his hands, so he’ll accept that much for now. Even if he still doesn’t know how any of this is possible and thinking too hard about it makes him want to scream.

“Markus was the leader that deviants needed. I’m certain there was some level of organization before he arrived on the scene, but he saw beyond just staying in hiding and waiting to shut down. He spoke up, even when it looked like humans wanted to kill us all, and nearly did. And—he says that he’s still not sure how it worked, but I know that’s not true. He was doing everything he could to paint androids as just people, and more importantly, people that didn’t want to hurt anyone.”

Connor smiles and says, “He won. We still have a long way to go, but if anyone can do it, Markus can.”

Toriel nods, looking intrigued. “This… Markus. You’re saying that he chose a peaceful approach to fighting? And it worked?”

Connor nods.

Under her breath, Toriel mutters something along the lines of, “I told you it would work, Asgore,” but Connor suspects he wasn’t meant to hear that, so he stayed silent.

“So,” Connor continues, “monsters. In my research before coming here, I came across a human legend that monsters were sealed underneath this mountain many years ago. I… did not expect it to be true.”

Toriel nods. “I was not born when the War occurred,” she says solemnly. “I can only think of one monster still alive that does remember it, if he is still alive. It… didn’t end very well for monsters, as I’m sure you can see by the fact that we’re all trapped down here.”

“You can’t just…” Connor shrugs helplessly, another human habit he’s picked up from spending too much time with Hank. “Dig out?”

“Not with the Barrier, no.”

If Connor were both human, and actually drinking the drink Toriel’s given him, he’d have choked on it. As it is, it takes him a moment to process, because…

“This… barrier,” Connor says warily. “It wouldn’t happen to be an unbreakable, invisible wall, would it?”

“Unbreakable, no, but very difficult to break. It took the power of seven human souls to create, and therefore takes the power of seven human souls to destroy.” Toriel’s voice takes on a sad tone as she adds, “And, unfortunately, while it is very easy to pass through it into the Underground, getting out is a different matter entirely.”

Considering the situation, Connor decides it may be a good time to borrow one of Hank’s more colorful swears. Even as he says it, Toriel looks to him, narrows her eyes.

“The last human that came down here…” Toriel frowns. “Human technology was not advanced to the level you say it is now, not unless magic was involved, and from my understanding there are very few humans left that are even aware of its existence.”

Connor almost says, again, that magic isn’t real. Except clearly it is, somehow. He still wants to scream.

“When were the first androids created?” Toriel asks, softly. “When were you created? You appear to be a human adult, but…”

She trails off, and Connor takes that opportunity to answer, “Elijah Kamski founded the foremost android creation company, CyberLife, in 2018. It was several years before he created the first android able to pass the Turing—” Connor realizes Toriel likely has no idea what the Turing test is and amends, “—the first android able to convince a human that she was a human, in 2022. From there, many other models of androids, and many other androids themselves, were created. I was created in 2038.”

Toriel seems to accept this, nodding. “What year is it?” She asks, even so.

“2039,” Connor says lightly, because this shouldn’t matter very much. Except apparently it does, because Toriel looks at him with no small amount of shock in her eyes.

“Connor,” she says, “are you telling me that you are one year old?

Oh. 

Right. 

Humans—and monsters too, evidently—often react oddly upon learning that an android’s physical appearance rarely, if ever, reflects their true age. Connor still remembers the incredulous look Hank had given him, right before declaring that he needed more alcohol for this shit.

Connor decides against informing her that really, it’s more like nine months for every RK800, and for him specifically, three months. Sarcasm is likely not an appropriate response for this situation, as tempting as it is.

“The amount of time I have been active is irrelevant to how capable I am,” Connor says instead.

“You are a child,” Toriel murmurs. 

“In terms of how long I’ve been alive, yes,” Connor agrees, albeit reluctantly. Continuing with this line of conversation will not get Connor anywhere, he suspects. This suspicion has nothing to do with the stubborn, hot feeling somewhere near his thirium pump that urges him to inform Toriel of just how capable he is.

Instead, he says, “Assuming that it is impossible to acquire seven human souls to break the barrier, how can I cross it?”

An unfamiliar emotion crosses Toriel’s face then, one that Connor can’t quite identify. His facial recognition software wants to place it as something between sadness and anger, but to be fair his facial recognition software was built to work on humans and/or deviant androids. It could easily be inaccurate.

“Perhaps… it is better if you do not, yet,” Toriel says, approximately fifteen percent faster than she normally speaks. “I need to… ah, research something. You are welcome to explore my house or the Ruins in the meantime, although I must ask that the stairs leading to the basement are off-limits for now.”

Connor has two options: lie through his teeth and immediately check the stairs leading to the basement, or tell the truth and explore elsewhere. He settles for the latter option, although that doesn’t stop him from filing away the basement’s existence privately, and the fact that Toriel didn’t want him to go there.

Just in case.

“Of course,” he says with a nod.

“Be careful, m—Connor,” she replies. “Especially if you decide to explore within the rest of the Ruins. I cannot speak for that flower, but many other monsters will only fight you out of fear, and can easily be reasoned with. In fact—give me a moment, I will find you a cell phone. Then you can simply call me, and I will come to resolve the conflict.”

Connor blinks. “That won’t be necessary,” he says, then frowns. “Normally, I can contact others simply through here.” He taps the side of his head, just below his led. Surprisingly, it’s a calm blue. “I… may need to do some reprogramming to connect to the network down here, so on second thought, may I see that phone you mentioned?”

Toriel nods, and once she brings him the cell phone, Connor gets to work. Hacking the device and copying its information to his own memory is easy, as is connecting to the network that apparently spans the entire Underground. It’s… bigger than he expected, but small enough that it shouldn’t take too long to find his way through and find an exit. It’s also, evidently, much bigger than the small portion he has already been through.

He wipes the phone when he’s done, because while he could create his own number on the network, using one that’s already made is much less work and Connor is nothing if not pragmatic, and gives it back to Toriel.

“You should be able to reuse this again if you get another number on it,” Connor says. “As it is, I had to wipe it in order to transfer the data to myself.”

Toriel looks between him and the phone skeptically. “You… can be called? Without a phone?”

Connor nods, re-positions his hands around the slowly-cooling mug. “I kept the same number for simplicity’s sake. You’re welcome to try calling me now, if you would like.”

Toriel frowns, but nods. She pulls her own phone out of a pocket in her dress and presses a few buttons on it. Inside Connor’s head, the program he’s labeled simply monsterphone.cbl pings him. He answers, considers briefly whether to talk out loud or just in his head.

“Hello, my name is Connor,” he says without moving his lips, and looking directly at Toriel. She’s got the phone pressed to her ear, and is staring back at him. Honestly, the only visual evidence that he’s doing anything is his led, blinking a steady yellow. “As I said, you can keep your extra phone, although it may be fairly useless at the moment. I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s alright,” Toriel says, before hanging up the call and looking at him, clearly shocked. “Are you… certain that none of this is magic?”

“Yes,” Connor says. “Why would it be?”

Toriel frowns. “You said that to go deviant… an android has to grow beyond their programming. I will admit I don’t know the first thing about technology, I can barely change the settings on my phone, but doesn’t that sound like magic to you?”

“No.”

Toriel opens her mouth, then shuts it. “Very well, then,” she says. “I need to do some research. In the meantime, you are welcome to explore. Just, if you come across any monsters that attack you—call me. I will come to resolve the conflict.”

Connor considers informing her that part of his intended purpose was to negotiate with irrational beings, before deciding against it. His record on that front is far from spotless, even if he has no intention of dying here. Or ever again, preferably.

“What if you don’t arrive in time?”

Toriel doesn’t have an answer. Not immediately, in any case. Eventually, she says, “In that case, defuse the tension as best as you can, but do not hurt anyone. Everyone down here… we are all just scared, and stuck underground where no one was ever meant to survive, magic or not.”

She clears her throat, and continues, “Flee if you must, but please. Do not hurt anyone.”

If it weren’t for Markus having much the same philosophy, Connor might not be taking her words so seriously. Markus knows what he’s doing, or if he doesn’t he’s exceptionally good at pretending he does. So, Connor nods.

“Good luck with your research,” he says as he stands. Toriel looks between him, and the mug.

“Aren’t you going to drink your chocolate?” She asks, looking almost hurt.

“Androids aren’t capable of—” He stops himself before he can finish that sentence. For one thing, for all he knows, maybe he can consume magic things without adverse effects, seeing as Toriel’s healing magic had worked on him. For another, there isn’t very much liquid in the mug, so if it does have adverse effects, it won’t have as much of an effect on him as, say, drinking sixty-four ounces of soy sauce.

Not to mention, if something does happen, Toriel’s healing magic does apparently work on him. Even considering all this, Connor probably shouldn’t drink this. But if he doesn’t test it, he’ll never know.

On second thought, maybe he does understand why North still insists drinking all that soy sauce was worth it. Even if he’ll never say that to her face.

“Right,” Connor says, raising the mug to his lips dubiously. He tilts it back, allows the liquid to slide in.

That, incidentally, is how Connor discovers that not only can he drink magic hot chocolate, it tastes much better than sampling dried blood and thirium at crime scenes. It even tastes magical. If Connor was a lesser android, he’d be murmuring something about rA9 right about now.

Connor isn’t a lesser android, so he instead he drains the whole mug in one gulp, sets it down. Then he looks to Toriel and says, completely seriously, “This is the best thing I have ever tasted.”

Chapter Text

“I do need to get back,” Connor tells what appears to be a simple fabric-and-stuffing dummy. 

It’s a training dummy, perhaps, meant to take kicks and punches before the advent of androids who could be kicked at and punched at and, while appearing to be human, wouldn’t fight back. At one point in time, anyway. Now, Connor wonders if this kind of training dummy may return to use.

He’d taken a seat next to it after eyeing it carefully, but the dummy appears to be completely inanimate. For now, in any case. He can’t talk to any of his friends outside the Underground, and in all honesty he doesn’t particularly want to talk with someone right now, he just wants to get his thoughts out. Talking at someone, or something.

Hence: the dummy.

At this point, Connor would be mildly surprised if the dummy came to life as well, but not much more than that. Magic apparently exists, so he really wouldn’t be surprised if the dummy was alive, too.

In the event the dummy does turn out to be alive, Connor probably will apologize and go find another inanimate object to talk at, but for now this seems to be safe.

So, he continues, “I do like Toriel. She seems… nice. Unfortunately, there is a 54% chance that she will attempt to keep me in this area of the Underground in order to protect me due to seeing me as, as she said, a child.”

Connor pinches the bridge of his nose. “And,” he says, perhaps a little angrily, “I am not a child. I may not have existed for very long, but I could fight my way past her if I needed to, and if I could find an adequate weapon.”

Without looking, his hand finds the knife dropped on the ground beside him. It’s not a real knife. The blade isn’t sharp. It’s made of plastic, although sturdier plastic than many toys are nowadays. It is, however, pointy, and is close enough in appearance to mimic the weapon it’s based on far too well.

“This would qualify as an adequate weapon,” Connor observes, and drops it again. It lands in the same place, in the same position even. An observer might realize then that this isn’t the first time he’s picked it up and dropped it again.

“I don’t want to fight her,” he admits. “I haven’t known Toriel for very long, but she seems like a good person. She did save my life. I appreciate her trying to help, but… I don’t think she understands that I can take of myself. Can, have, and will.”

For the first time since he’s fallen into the Underground, his fingers find the pocket where he keeps his quarter. He shouldn’t be so surprised to find it’s still there, and yet it is. Smiling a little, he calibrates some, which is a fancy way to say he does some neat coin tricks that consistently leave observers in awe.

The coin tricks were originally meant for calibration, to be fair, but lately Connor uses them less for calibration and more to relieve stress. His stress levels aren’t terribly high at the moment, but ‘terribly high’ to him is above 75%, which is apparently not okay so best to keep them lower than that, at least.

“I almost… wouldn’t mind staying,” Connor admits in a small voice. “I can eat monster food, because it’s magic? It’s so... good, too. If human food tastes like this, I can understand why they need to eat so often. Toriel is nice, and I would like to learn more about magic and… how it exists, for one thing.”

Connor takes a break to calibrate more, then slips the coin back into its pocket and sighs.

“But,” he says, “I can’t stay. If I disappear, on a case Markus himself put me on… I don’t think he’d ever forgive himself, at the very least. That’s ignoring the fact that there’s a 40% chance that my disappearance would lead to humans and androids resuming hostilities, because of me. It may not seem like a very high chance, but…” 

Connor pinches his nose again, exhales. “If 40% was enough for me to sacrifice myself to save Hank,” he says, “then it’s enough that I have to get back. I can’t stay if I want to or not. And… I do want to.”

He glances at the dummy, asks, “Does that make me a bad person?”

The dummy, predictably, doesn’t answer. Doesn’t seem to be much for conversation. Connor sighs, stares out at the purple brick wall in front of him.

“I need to get back,” Connor says to himself. “I don’t want to hurt Toriel to do so. I… I wish someone else was here. Hank… likely wouldn’t know what to do, but I’d like to be able to talk to him. North would probably suggest punching my way out. That… is a viable option. Not one I like, but a viable one.”

Connor smiles unconsciously as his thoughts turn to Markus. He and Josh are so similar in ideals, yet so different in the way they execute them. Josh would suggest staying for now, if he was here, because after all… he got into the Underground, why couldn’t others follow him?

Well. Connor knows perfectly well why nobody could follow him, so that option is out.

“What would Markus do, if he was here?” Connor wonders aloud. “He… wouldn’t be wasting time out here, most likely. He would be back in Toriel’s house, telling her the truth and standing his ground no matter what.”

Standing his ground, but Markus wouldn’t hurt Toriel. Markus wouldn’t hurt anyone , unless it was unavoidable. If there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no way to talk someone down. Then, and only then, he would. Markus is a pacifist, that Connor knows. But he certainly isn’t a pushover.

His decision made, Connor stands, leaving the toy knife on the ground where it belongs.

“Thanks,” he says to the dummy, if unnecessarily. It still doesn’t react.


As Connor found out the hard way, it was a lot easier going through the Ruins when he either had Toriel with him, or when he was going backwards from Toriel’s home. Fortunately, dealing with the puzzles was easy.

Dealing with the pair of frogs that showed up literally out of nowhere, blocking his path, was… not so easy. At least, they looked like frogs. Kind of. Except, definitely not frogs, somehow, because when he tried to identify them, his system had given him another error.

Monsters, then. Monsters that didn’t seem to understand him, but could likely understand his tone of voice. He’s faced with a choice, then. Try to befriend them, or intimidate them. Because his surroundings have greyed out, much like when facing Flowey, and his soul’s on full display above his thirium pump, light blue as usual.

If he didn’t know full well just how unintimidating he tended to look, he would have chosen the latter. As it was, Connor says, in the most complimentary tone he can muster, “You, uh… your legs look very jumpy today.”

The first frog ribbits confusedly, but hops away regardless. Connor turns to face the second, and with no time to preconstruct a dodge, he just—moves. The frog leaps at him, passing close. Too close.

And Connor snaps.

“What in—rA9, personal space exists you know!” Connor shouts. 

The frog didn’t seem to understand what Connor said, but was likely threatened by the shouting anyway, and hopped away with a terrified whimper. If Connor feels guilty, he didn’t show it. He just picks up the coins both frogs left behind—gold, most likely, but to identify with 100% certainty he’d need a connection to the human internet—and slips them into the pack Toriel had insisted he take.

If he feels guilty, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he goes out of his way not to yell at the next frog.

And then he quite literally walks into a ghost. 

It’s less his fault than it is the ghost’s, for lying down in the middle of the path he’d just come through. And, apparently, sleeping. Or pretending to. Making ‘z’ noises, in any case.

At one point, Connor swears he hears the ghost whisper, “Are they gone yet?”

He might have imagined it, though, because the ‘z’s resume in full force soon. On the one hand, Connor doesn’t particularly want to bother this ghost, he just wants to keep moving, get back to Toriel’s house, and get through the rest of the Underground. On the other hand, why do people talk about things being on one hand or the other, he has absolutely nothing on his hands. Also, he kind of needs the ghost to move, there’s not enough room for Connor to maneuver around them.

Connor sighs, and says, “You… are aware that’s not the kind of noise people make when sleeping, correct?”

The ghost opens their eyes, stares up at Connor passively. “...can you pretend it is?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Connor says. “I would like to get past you, if that’s okay.”

Naturally, it’s then that they start crying. Connor’s surroundings grey out again, and it takes him a moment to realize that the ghost’s attacks are their tears. Fortunately, they’re not too difficult to step out of the way of.

The ghost genuinely seems miserable, though. Connor should try to fix that. Asking them if they’re okay probably wouldn’t help any. Possibly… cheering them up? Complimenting them? That generally works, to a point.

“For what it’s worth,” Connor says as he steps out of the way of a tear, “you are the nicest ghost I’ve ever met?”

Not to mention the only ghost Connor has ever met, but that information likely won’t help. The ghost looks… a little less sad, at least. Progress. If he can stop them crying, maybe they’ll let him pass.

“Heh… thanks… I guess…”

They’re still crying a little, but not nearly as much.

“Sorry,” the ghost apologizes, “not really… feelin’ up to it today...”

“That’s alright,” Connor says. “I don’t mind. My name is Connor.”

“Napstablook,” they say, quietly.

Connor smiles. “That’s a nice name.”

“Heh… thank you… would you like to see something?”

Connor nods. It takes a significant amount of willpower on his part to not step back further when Napstablook starts crying again, but he doesn’t. And, somehow, the tears flow up. Definitely magic, then—but that’s not all they do.

They flow up, forming something on top of Napstablook’s… head, Connor supposes. A top hat. That, he recognizes.

“I call it… ‘dapper blook’,” Napstablook says, a little proud, a lot more cautious. “...do you like it?”

“I do,” Connor says genuinely. He likes top hats.

Napstablook actually smiles , and with that, the surroundings return to normal. Connor’s soul disappears. Napstablook’s still lying down on the patch of leaves, blocking his path, but he is smiling, a little. Progress!

“...I usually come to the Ruins because there’s nobody around,” Napstablook admits. “But today I met somebody nice… nice to meet you, Connor.”

Connor smiles back. “Nice to meet you too, Napstablook.”

“Thanks… I’m… rambling again, aren’t I… I’ll get out of your way.”

Connor opens his mouth to say it’s okay, he can just move for a moment and then go right back, but then Napstablook disappears . As in, fades out into nothingness. Connor’s left staring for a long moment, before he shrugs helplessly to himself and keeps going.

He runs into Napstablook again later, several other encounters later. Connor says as much. Napstablook nods morosely and disappears again.

Connor would try to give them a hug, but he suspects he’d simply phase through Napstablook entirely, and the attempt probably would just make things worse. Besides, they’re already gone.


Several straightforward puzzles and confusing encounters with monsters later, Connor’s finally arrived back at Toriel’s home. He’s a little the worse for wear, but fortunately there was a… spider bake sale, of all things. So he purchased a donut. And ate it. It replenished his thirium levels, somehow, and at this point Connor’s decided to stop questioning that, but… well...

The donut was very good, in Connor’s opinion, until he came across a sign proudly advertising the bake sale in question as selling goods made by spiders, for spiders, and of spiders.

Then Connor decided he was very, very glad that as an android, he was incapable of throwing up. If he’d been human, he likely would have right about then.

But, donuts of dubious origin aside—he made it back. So, determined, he reaches for the doorknob of Toriel’s home, opens the door, and steps inside. Looks around.

Toriel’s nowhere in sight, although his sensors tell him there’s an aromatically pleasing smell coming from the hallway off to the left, where her table and chairs were. Before Connor heads in, however, he looks in his bag, pulls something out. A red ribbon, albeit so faded and worn it might be better described as pink.

It’s longer than he initially realized, and upon holding onto it for a moment, Connor realizes just what he can do with it. Smiling to himself, he wraps it around the back of his neck and gets to work.

A few deft movements later, the faded ribbon has become a faded tie. Connor strides up to a nearby mirror, straightens it for good measure.

Between a pink tie and a dark fake-leather jacket, both pulled over a grey-and-white striped shirt borrowed from Hank, jeans, and black hiking boots… Connor doesn’t look too terrible, in his opinion. He actually likes how this has turned out, and the pink tie really adds to his appearance. He does need to remember not to look at his shirt while in his mind palace, but that shouldn't be hard.

All that aside, he looks good.

Amanda would be several kinds of scandalized, but Amanda’s long gone, and so for that matter is any lingering influence she had over Connor. Indeed, the thought of her face, shocked, disappointed, makes Connor smile.

In all fairness, there was a reason Connor wasn’t already wearing a tie, and it wasn’t because he didn’t want to. But that reason hinged upon him wandering around the underbrush and wilderness of Mount Ebott, not falling under it and dealing with… all... this. 

After everything he’s been through already, he should at least be able to look satisfactorily good while dealing with the rest. 

Adjusting his tie one last time, Connor steps away from the mirror and goes looking for Toriel.

Chapter Text

Connor was built for this.

Technically speaking, Connor was not actually built for convincing an overprotective goat woman that he needs to go home. However, he was built with negotiation in mind. Negotiation and… other things, but none of those are helpful here so for now he’s going to stick with negotiation.

“What do you mean, you wish to go home?” Toriel asks softly.

In retrospect, Connor should have brought this up after eating his slice of pie, not during, but now that he’s begun going back is the last thing he wants to do. Under the table, he calibrates a little, flipping his coin from hand to hand and finger to finger. It helps a little.

“I mean that I need to get back,” Connor replies. “I… told you about Markus. He sent me to Mount Ebott to investigate human disappearances. Human-android relations are fragile already. If I disappear, nobody will take it well.”

Toriel hasn’t touched her own slice of pie since he brought this up, he realizes.

Chance of diffusion: 57%.

“And if you die?” She asks. “If you leave the Ruins…”

“Contrary to popular belief, I am not as harmless as I look.” Connor slips his coin back into its pocket and drums his fingers on the table. “Flowey caught me by surprise, and in his case, I will not make the same mistake twice.”

He opts for looking Toriel in the eyes, doesn’t blink as he continues, “You told me that no monster would attack me just for the sake of attacking me. You said that everyone here is scared, and angry, and who am I to blame them for that? With that in mind, I believe I can talk down anyone that looks at the android with a human soul and decides I’m easy to kill.”

If nothing else, Connor is not easy to kill. He never was, and if anything he’s become even harder to kill, not easier.

“Very well,” Toriel says at last.

Chance of diffusion: 84% 

Connor nods, follows her down the stairs he’d seriously considered going down while she was distracted cooking. It’s only when they turn a corner, and Connor realizes that the ‘basement’ is in fact a very long hallway, that Connor speaks up again.

“Where are we going?”

“The exit of the Ruins, to the rest of the Underground. I am going to destroy it.”

Chance of diffusion: 37%

“What?” Connor stops in his tracks. “Why? What—” His voice box glitches, and he cringes a little, but keeps going. “What do you gain from destroying the exit? What do you gain from keeping me here?”

“You stay alive,” Toriel replies. “You are welcome to go back upstairs, or watch, but you should not try to intervene.”

Chance of diffusion: 23%

There’s a door up ahead, Connor can see it now. And Toriel wants to destroy it. To protect him, which is nice but misguided—he doesn’t need protection, regardless of whether he wants it or not.

Even so, he’s reminded of Hank, telling Connor-52 to get behind him as he kicked the door of Rupert’s apartment open. He’d been a machine then, and in truth Connor’s not sure if he is still that Connor or someone entirely different. He’s never been sure. But, in retrospect, Hank had been irrationally trying to protect him.

He’d been right to as well, considering how Connor-52 met his end approximately 37 minutes later.

This, however, is an entirely different situation. So Connor goes into his mind-palace, and preconstructs.

There are three viable options. Two, actually, because fleeing is not an option he’s willing to consider. It’s entirely possible Toriel may be bluffing, but Connor does not want to take that chance. He wouldn’t take that chance unless he was 100% certain she was bluffing. 

He’s closer to 10% certain she’s bluffing, so fleeing is definitely out. He can attempt to talk her down from here, or—and this has a smaller chance of success for the action itself, but a larger chance of success if he succeeds in this—attempt to get past her and put himself between her and the door.

Connor has never been one not to take risks, so as soon as the preconstruction ends he hurtles past her, ducking under her arm and ignoring the cry of surprise she makes when he’s suddenly somehow between her and the door.

He could run now. Instead, he fixes his tie, and looks Toriel in the eyes.

“I don’t want to fight you,” Connor says. “I will if I have to, in order to leave.”

Toriel closes her eyes, apparently resigning herself to something. She opens them, and his surroundings grey out. His soul appears on his chest.

“Every human before you has died,” she says. “I have seen it again, and again. They come. They leave. They die. You may not be human, but that will not stop them from killing you. That will not stop him from killing you.”

There’s audible pain in her words, and Connor briefly wonders if this ‘him’ referred to may be the Asgore she mentioned earlier. There’s a distinct possibility. 

Chance of diffusion: 07%

Meanwhile, the odds of diffusing this situation peacefully are in the single digits. Connor can’t just… give up, though. And there are several reasons why he shouldn’t make a run for it, first and foremost being that the door could easily be locked or otherwise immobile, leaving him an easy target.

“I am much harder to kill than that, Toriel.”

Her eyes narrow. “Then prove yourself, Connor. Prove to me you are strong enough to survive.”

She summons magic to her hands, fire magic. Lovely. As it coalesces into fireball after fireball, Connor tries to preconstruct a way to dodge everything.

He’s dismayed to find that the best possible preconstruction at the moment results in him taking a fireball to the knee. It’s better than taking multiple fireballs to much more critical places, however. So he moves.

He can’t stop himself from wincing when it hits, because while he can still move, he really underestimated how much taking a fireball to the knee would hurt. He’s still not even sure why magic can make him hurt, when taking multiple several bullet wounds to the back hadn’t, although in all fairness he hadn't been deviant then. The important thing is that he can still walk. He can still dodge, if with less efficiency. He can still run.

He can do this. But he can’t hold out forever. With that in mind, there’s only one thing he can say here. It’s the option he likes the least, but it’s better than attacking.

“I was built to be a killer,” he blurts, and the fireballs freeze in midair as Toriel herself does.

“What?”

“I was built to be a killer,” he repeats, and ignores the heavy feeling in his chest. “I was built to hunt down deviant androids. To negotiate with them. To bring them in alive if I could, and if not…”

He shakes his head. Glances to the ground, then back up at Toriel. She looks… skeptical, to say the least.

“You. Made to be a killer?”

“As you can see, I’m not one. Not anymore. And I don’t want to be again.”

But I will if I have to, Connor adds silently, choosing to ignore how filthy on the inside and outside it makes him feel.

Toriel gives him a long look, but he thinks he detects sympathy in her gaze.

Chance of diffusion: 46%

No. Not sympathy. Empathy.

Chance of diffusion: 76%

She sighs, and with a wave of her hand, the last of the fireballs dissolve into thin air. Personally, Connor has never understood that particular phrase, but regardless of his own understanding, it fits here.

“In many ways,” she says, quietly, “you are a child. But in others, I see you are the furthest thing from it.”

Connor doesn’t really know what to say to that, so he doesn’t. Instead, he waits.

“I… understand if you have to go,” Toriel continues. “Every time, I try to keep them here, where they’ll be safe. Unhurt. Every time, they leave. And they die.”

“I have no intention of dying,” Connor says, and decides to leave out the fact that technically, he’s died three times outside beta testing. He tries not to think about beta testing.

“Neither did they. You know of whom I speak, do you not?”

He does. Names, files of missing children everyone knew were long dead. What everyone didn’t know was the truth behind their deaths.

“I’ll be alright,” he says. Not because he knows he will be, but because he has to be. Anything else isn’t an option.

Toriel breathes in slowly, breathes out. Makes a decision.

“I will not stop you from leaving,” she says. “When you do, however, I must ask that you do not return. Do you understand?”

Unfortunately, Connor understands perfectly. “Thank you,” he says, but she’s not done.

“Before you leave, I will heal you.”

Connor couldn’t argue with that if he wanted to.

“And,” Toriel says, “please. Promise me something. If you come across someone you cannot convince to lay down arms peacefully—please. Do not fight. Flee if you must, but stay alive.”

He gives her a long look, but, eventually, nods.

“I can do that,” he says.


The passage out of the Ruins leads down a long, if straightforward, corridor.

And then? A recently-disturbed patch of dirt, out of which pops an unfortunately very familiar flower.

“You,” Connor says simply, as cordially as he can. Which isn’t particularly cordial.

“Me,” Flowey agrees, grinning. “I have to say, I’m surprised. I was expecting you to murder her.”

Something about the way he says it, something about the way he just… doesn’t care, at all, makes Connor seriously consider borrowing some of Hank’s more insulting obscenities. Instead, he forces a smile, one that Flowey should be able to see is the furthest thing from genuine.

“And why would I do that?”

Funnily enough, that seemingly puts Flowey at a loss for words. Then he laughs.

“You idiot. Don’t you know? In this world, it’s kill or be killed. You might have played by your own rules this time, but you’ll come across someone you can’t spare someday. What will you do then?”

“Fleeing is a perfectly viable option,” Connor says lightly. “And fighting would take too long. Are you going to attack me again, or may I keep going? I do have places to be.”

Flowey laughs harder. “Attack you? No. This is much more interesting. Good luck, Connor, though I suppose you won’t need it.”

With a final cackle, he drops back into the soil. Connor almost regrets not grabbing him when he had the chance and… can you strangle a flower?

Connor doesn’t know, and likely won’t find out. But Flowey is infuriating enough to make trying tempting. He’s smart to stay out of grabbing range.


If Toriel had told Connor ahead of time that outside the Ruins was snow , he might not have left at all. Whether that would have been because of an intense dislike of snow and cold weather in general, or due to spending far too long trying to figure out how there’s snow underground is up for debate.

Hypotheticals aside, he just doesn’t like snow. 

He quickly decides he doesn’t like creepy, snowy forests that give him a distinct feeling of being watched, either. It’s impossible that anyone could be watching him, his sensors would pick them up. His sensors pick up monsters as long as he’s already encountered them face-to-face and identified them as monsters, at least. So it isn’t Flowey.

Connor doesn’t know how he feels about that.

He takes a deep breath and trudges on. Much of the Underground has been fairly straightforward so far, and based on the construction style of the Ruins, this… snowy place should be straightforward as well.

Snow also shouldn’t exist underground, but neither should magic, so at this point Connor’s just relieved he can’t feel the cold as much as a human would. Or as much as he did in the Zen Garden, but Connor tries not to think about that.

Instead, he trudges on, despite the distinct feeling of being watched. Maybe he’s imagining it.

Gingerly, he steps over a particularly large and heavy stick and keeps going. He has to be imagining it. Because, if he’s not imagining it, and his sensors can’t pick anything, he’s what Hank would call a sitting duck.

Connor has nothing against ducks nor sitting, but he’d rather not be both of those things together, because in the strange language of human metaphor, that roughly translates to being helpless. And Connor can’t be helpless.

He takes another step, then another, and—

SNAP!

Connor’s led goes straight from blue to red as he turns, and remains on red when he realizes the stick he’s just stepped over was just… snapped. Clean in two, like it was nothing and evidently fast enough to make an audible snapping noise.

He’s not imagining it. Someone’s watching him, to see what he does. Someone’s trying to scare him.

“I know you’re there,” Connor says.

No answer. So he sighs, shakes his head to himself, and keeps going, periodically going into his mind palace to maybe, just maybe catch whoever’s watching him in the act.

He’s so surprised when he finally does that he returns to reality before he can tell for sure what he saw. A silhouette, of… something. Someone, maybe. Someone far shorter than him, but beyond that and the basic shape of what might be a human, all Connor knows for sure is that someone’s definitely following him.

He stares at the space between trees where he saw the silhouette for a moment, led still on red. He doesn’t take his eyes off it as he pulls out his coin, calibrates a little. Really, though, he’s calibrated enough—the only reason he’s still doing it is because it helps, at least a little, with his stress levels.

For the second time in three months, Connor feels real fear. 

“I know you’re there,” he repeats, tries not to shiver. Showing fear will only make things worse.

Still no answer, but Connor doesn’t budge. He takes a deep breath, cups his hands around his mouth, and shouts this time, “I KNOW YOU’RE THERE!”

Still nothing. Connor’s shoulders slump. He is, as Hank would aptly put it, a sitting duck. And he’s not imagining it. He can’t be imagining it. Right?

Maybe he is imagining it. Maybe, if magic exists, magic can make an android see things that aren’t there. Maybe there’s nothing here. Maybe there’s no one here.

Connor wants to scream. Instead, he focuses on his breathing. Completely unnecessary to an android’s function, but very necessary to make androids seem more human, and very helpful for not letting his stress levels get so high that he self-destructs on the spot.

That would be… bad.

Connor’s led goes back to yellow. He can’t make it go all the way back to blue, but it’s something. With that in mind, he turns, and—

The figure’s there.

“Heya.”

Connor’s doomed.


“Have you heard anything from Connor lately?” 

North shrugs, swings her legs back and forth as she sits on the side of his desk. “Depends what you mean by lately.”

Mismatched green and blue eyes stare her down, completely unimpressed. Normally, Markus would appreciate her trying to lighten the mood. Normally, Markus would be the one trying to lighten the mood. Right now, he’s just worried.

“Since he went up Mount Ebott,” Markus says.

North looks at him strangely. “Markus, you gay disaster you, that was yesterday.

“I’m aware.”

North still looks confused for several seconds longer, before recognition dawns in her eyes. She leans back, snaps her fingers in front of his face. “He didn’t call you last night?”

He didn’t call Hank last night, his literal father figure who he calls literally every night he doesn’t spend at home, and while it’s entirely possible that he was too busy to, or forgot… Connor doesn’t forget things.

He didn’t call Markus, either, but telling North that will only make her tease him more.

“He didn’t call Lieutenant Anderson last night,” Markus says instead. “Or anyone else, from what I can tell.”

“Markus. He just went up Mount Ebott. And, from what I’ve heard, there’s no signal whatsoever there. Connor probably can’t call anyone.” She makes a face. “Which is horrible, but considering this is Connor we’re talking about, I’m sure he’s fine. Probably just can’t connect to the internet.”

Markus frowns, steeples his fingers appraisingly on the table. “There’s no internet on Mount Ebott?” He asks, instead of what he wants to— what if he’s not fine?

“Nope,” North says, popping the ‘p’. She pulls her legs up, tucks them against her chest. “Didn’t find this out until Connor already left, of course, but it’s some kind of wi-fi dead zone. Something to do with the mountain, I guess? Mountains are weird. Geography’s weird.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Markus deadpans.

“Markus, you’re doing that thing where you sound completely calm but you look anything but that,” North says after a moment. “Connor’s fine. Personally, I’m surprised he didn’t go back to the town at the base of the mountain to call you—”

“Call Hank.

“Call you , did I fucking stutter? But you know him. Once he finds something on a case, he’s focused on it. Tends to forget everything else exists. Sounds like someone else I know, come to think of it. No wonder you’re so gay for him.”

Markus glares at her. She ignores it.

Finally, he asks, “What if he’s not fine? He could be hurt, or worse. And we’re just assuming he’s fine.”

North thinks for a moment, before clapping him on the shoulder and saying, “You really have it bad.”

“North!”

“Alright, fine. You know him better than I do, how long does it usually take him to solve a case like this?”

“A day. Occasionally parts of two.”

“If two days pass, and there’s still no word from him, tell you what. I’ll cover for you, say you have some personal issues to deal with or something, and you can go grab Connor’s dad and go looking for your boyfriend.”

“He’s not—” Markus just sighs.

“Yet,” North says far too cheekily. It’s really no wonder she and Connor get along so well. “I’m telling you, he’s fine . Con’s an idiot but not that much of an idiot. He knows what he’s doing. But, if you’re so worried about him, I’ll cover for you.”

Markus thinks on this, and nods. “Two days.”

“He’s fine , Markus, I’m telling you. If he’s not, I’ll drink another bottle of soy sauce.”

“You wouldn’t.” His gaze meets North’s, hers with a challenge in it. 

“You would,” he amends. “Please don’t.”

North’s response is to poke him in the nose, vault off his desk in a jump that cannot possibly be safe, and sprint out the door of his office, laughing maniacally through it all. If he didn’t know her well, he’d probably be questioning the fact that this is who’s taking his position as deviant leader while he’ll be gone.

But, he does. So instead of worrying, he calls Connor’s dad, and starts making travel arrangements.

He hopes he’ll have to cancel them.

Chapter Text

“Don’t you know how to greet a new pal?” The figure continues. It’s impossible to see his(?) face between the lighting and the hood pulled up over it, but he looks vaguely human-shaped, at least?

“No,” Connor says, like the master of social interaction he is.

The figure sticks out a hand, and says, rather predictably, “Shake my hand.”

Connor just… stares for a moment, because while the figure has a hand, it… doesn’t have any flesh. Or muscle. Just bones. Bones that somehow are moving, without any muscle attached to them. Which, like everything else about this situation, is impossible.

The figure’s wearing a big, blue, fluffy hooded jacket that looks very casual and appears to be the kind of clothing item Hank would wear, and that covers his arms up to his wrists. He’s wearing that over a white shirt and black sport shorts with one, long vertical stripe on each side that Connor can see, and of all things, fuzzy pink slippers.

Warily, Connor shakes his hand—and then nearly jumps because something makes a farting noise. It takes him a few moments to realize that it’s something in the… skeleton’s? Hand. Something round, and pink, and currently deflated.

It might be a small whoopee cushion, although in all fairness he’s never actually had one used on him before.

The skeleton, meanwhile, has taken the opportunity to burst out laughing. He’s snickering to himself, laughing so hard that his hood’s fallen off and yep, this is definitely an actual skeleton, that’s somehow laughing and talking despite probably not possessing vocal cords or any kind of voicebox. 

He’s grinning, a big, toothy grin, and beyond moving, the only sign that he’s… well, alive? Ish? As alive as a skeleton can be, without any of the other parts necessary for life, that is. The only visible sign of him being more than he seems is the white pinpricks of light in his, um. Eyesockets.

The skeleton blinks, somehow, and exclaims, “The old whoopee cushion in the hand trick. It’s always funny, y’know?”

“Very funny,” Connor deadpans. “The pinnacle of humor and wit.”

Somehow, this makes the skeleton laugh harder. “Ha! I like you, kid. I’m Sans. Sans the Skeleton.”

“My name is Connor. I’m…” He sighs. “I’m going to tell you now that I’m not a human. I’m well aware I appear to be one.”

Sans looks at him. Blinks again—and Connor really isn’t sure how solid bone can give the appearance of blinking but at this point he’s already devoting far too much of his processing power to questioning things.

“You’re right,” Sans agrees. “You’re not human. But you do look like one. Here’s the thing: I’m kinda, s’posed to be looking for humans. I don’t really care. But my brother, Papyrus? He’s a human-hunting fanatic.

“That won’t be a problem,” Connor says. “I’m not human. I’m an android. I’m supposed to look like a human, but believe me. I’m really not.”

“I believe ya. But my bro might not. Actually—” He squints into the distance, past Connor. “I think that’s him over there. I have an idea. Follow me real quick.”

Sans turns, walks rather quickly over a bridge with what’s probably supposed to be a gate over it. Connor follows him to a clearing. He looks into the distance, but he can’t see anyone else, and his sensors aren’t picking anything up, either.

“Quick, behind that conveniently-shaped—” Sans coughs, clears his throat. “On second thought, that lamp there? Would be perfectly shaped to hide a human kid. You, unfortunately, are a little too tall.”

Connor looks around, sees what appears to be some kind of sentry post. He also sees no sign of this… Papyrus. 

“Where’s your—”

“Hide,” Sans says, then shrugs lazily. “Or just stand there. He might not notice.”

Connor decides not to take that chance. 

In one quick movement, he runs for the sentry post, then vaults over the counter and into the interior. For… some reason, there’s bottles of what appear to be ketchup, mustard, and relish tucked on shelves inside, but Connor doesn’t have time to question that. He just ducks, makes sure he’s not visible from outside the… sentry post? Booth? Sure.

“That works,” Sans mutters under his breath. He waits, then says in a marginally louder voice than normal, “‘Sup, bro?”

“YOU KNOW WHAT ‘SUP’, BROTHER!” Someone shouts from… somewhere in the general vicinity. Connor peeks up over the counter just in time to catch a glimpse of red and white, but quickly ducks down again. “IT’S BEEN FIVE DAYS AND YOU STILL HAVEN’T—”

Connor opens his mind palace. While his body remains crouched behind the booth, he stands—and sees another skeleton.

He doesn’t know what else he was expecting.

This skeleton—Papyrus—is much taller than Sans, and is wearing… some kind of a costume? Connor honestly has no idea what he’s trying to be. He has bright red boots and a bright red cape tied around his neckbone, and what appears to be red sparkly underpants pulled over where his pelvis bone would be.

Then there’s the thing he’s wearing over where his chest would be. Connor hopes that’s supposed to be armor because if it’s not, he legitimately can’t tell what it is. It’s a big shiny metallic something that, Connor suspects, would be very little help in an actual fight due to being made almost entirely of duct tape.

Regardless, Connor ducks back down and exits the mind palace, because if he remains there the entire time he’s trying to figure out Sans and Papyrus both, he’ll be there for days at the very least.

And—wait. Are they named after fonts? Why?

“—RECALIBRATED. YOUR. PUZZLES! YOU JUST HANG AROUND OUTSIDE YOUR STATION! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?”

“Hanging around. More inside than outside. You wanna see my station? It’s really comfy. Take a look.”

This ‘station’, as both of the skeletons put it, is not comfortable in the least. There’s a 78% chance that Sans just ratted him out, and even as he prepares to preconstruct an escape, Connor keeps listening.

“NO!” Papyrus shouts indignantly. He seems to only have two volumes: loud and louder. “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO LOOK AT YOUR STATION! I HAVE TO BE READY! WHAT IF A HUMAN COMES THROUGH HERE? I WILL FIND A HUMAN. I MUST FIND A HUMAN!”

He seems… thoroughly distracted. Enough that, despite the odds not being in his favor, Connor peeks over the top of the counter. Papyrus isn’t looking anywhere near him, and as he watches, he holds his hand up to where his heart would be. If, well, he wasn’t a skeleton.

“THEN I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL HAVE ALL THE FAME AND FORTUNE I UTTERLY DESERVE! UNDYNE WILL FINALLY LET ME JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD! I WILL BATHE IN A SHOWER OF KISSES EVERY MORNING!”

This is getting ridiculous.

“PEOPLE WILL ASK TO… BE MY FRIEND?”

And that’s kind of sad.

“Hmm… maybe spending some time relaxing in my station will help you,” Sans says. Connor ducks, but not before leveling a glare at Sans.

“YOU ARE NOT HELPING, SANS! I WILL BE THE ONE! I MUST BE THE ONE!”

“Sounds like you’re really working yourself… down to the bone.”

It takes all the willpower Connor possesses not to audibly groan.


Several more bad puns and jokes later, Connor’s come to the conclusion that both skeleton brothers have the same terrible sense of humor as Hank. By then, at least, Papyrus has finally left. Connor climbs out, then wastes no time in making eye contact with Sans and narrowing his own.

“You’re a terrible person,” Connor says flatly.

Sans shrugs. “But I’m a skeleton.”

Connor does groan this time. Surprisingly, his led doesn’t blink back to red. More surprisingly, it goes to blue.

“If this is what you’re doing instead of attacking me,” Connor says, “I believe I would prefer the latter.”

Sans laughs. In a much lower voice than before, he says, “No you wouldn’t.”

Connor eyes him suspiciously, before Sans clears his throat and continues, “Anyways! I know we just met and all, but can I ask you a favor?”

Reluctantly, Connor says, “If it doesn’t involve more of your humor, yes.”

“I make no promises there, Connor.” Sans winks. “Thing is, my bro? Really wants to find a human. He’s been pretty down lately, y’know? So I’m thinking, if he thinks you’re a human, it might really cheer him up.”

“As much as I’d like to help you,” Connor really would rather do the exact opposite, “he doesn’t want to find a human, he wants to capture a human. I don’t know what that entails. I don’t want to know what that entails.”

“Nah, trust me, it’ll be fine.”

“It is a well known cliche that when someone says ‘trust me’, you should do the opposite.”

Sans looks at him, grins a little wider. “You’re not wrong,” he says. “Thing is, my bro? He’s harmless. Even if he tries not to be. You help cheer him up by pretending to be a human, I’ll help you through the rest of the Underground. Assuming you want to get back to the Surface?”

“I don’t need, or want, your help.”

Sans shrugs. “Suit yourself. You do know that most of the monsters between you and getting home are well aware of what a human looks like? You look like a human, and you’ve got a human soul. That’s more than enough for most people.”

Somehow, Connor gets the feeling he’s going to regret this.

“Fine,” he says. “I’ll help you. What should I do?”

Sans winks. “Just be yourself. You said you’re an… android, right? So a robot?”

“Yes. I am an RK800 model—”

“Guess you like listening to heavy metal, huh?”

“Of course. I personally prefer Knights of the Black Death. Why do you ask?” Connor pauses briefly, considers this. His led blinks yellow as he says, “I hate you.”

Sans’ grin grows wider. He pats Connor on the arm and says, “See? Be yourself. The two of you’ll get along great.”

He then proceeds to walk the wrong way, step behind a tree, and completely disappear from Connor’s proximity sensors.

At this point, Connor’s too irritated to question the fact that Sans may or may not have teleported, another thing that really should not be possible. He just keeps going forward, trudging through the snow, because it’s not like he has any other way to go.


They really did not get along great. 

Not at first, in any case. Sans seemed to have Hank’s sense of humor, albeit with much less swearing and alcohol involved and much more puns involving skeletons and—much to Connor’s annoyance—robots. Connor assumed Papyrus would be much the same.

Papyrus… was different. Significantly louder, and more confident, and more boisterous. And far too naive.

Often, upon meeting new people, they would take one look at Connor, at his appearance specifically designed to seem non-threatening and trustworthy, and immediately assume he was naive and innocent despite well-documented evidence to the contrary. Connor typically does little to dissuade this—being underestimated, he’s found to be extremely useful in certain situations.

Papyrus, he initially assumed, was the same.

Except that the naivete here isn’t an act meant to lower people’s guard. That much, Connor has figured out on his own, unless Papyrus is an extremely good actor. Papyrus is just… like this.

Connor is almost reminded of Josh, except that Josh isn’t naive or innocent. He knows full well what the world is capable of, what humanity is capable of. As does Connor. The difference between him and Josh is that Josh refuses to harm, no matter what.

Markus is somewhere in there, too. While Connor knows full well that Markus is a pacifist, he also knows that he’s killed before, when his options were to kill or die. And Connor’s a different story entirely. He’s killed before and almost certainly will kill again. He does what he has to, when he has to.

So, maybe Connor starts to like the quirky pair of skeletons. Getting a break from dealing with them and their antics may have helped. Getting several breaks from dealing with them and their antics, almost all of which involved petting several dogs, helped as well.

Connor was built for several interrelated purposes, and petting dogs was not included in any of them. He supposes, then, that deciding to pet Sumo early on may have been an early clue to his high software instability, and consequently his deviancy.

He likes dogs. 

Dogs are much less complicated than humans or androids, whether they prefer to be petted in laps or played with via fetching a thrown object or gnawing at a chew toy. Dogs don’t expect much of anything from their people, except love, and they give unconditional love in return. They’re also much smarter than humans think.

Running into several sentient dogs and petting all of them was not how Connor was expecting things to go, but he’s not about to question it. Logically, if he’s questioning everything else he should question how a dog’s neck can grow longer every time he pets them, or how a tiny white dog can operate a suit of armor that’s taller than Connor is—not that Connor is particularly tall, but that’s completely irrelevant, he’s tall enough .

But he doesn’t question the dogs. And eventually, he stops questioning the skeletons, too. Stops being as annoyed when particularly low-caliber jokes are made, although that’s not to say he isn’t annoyed at all.

While he wouldn’t admit it, he’s… beginning to have fun. Even if most of Papyrus’ puzzles either backfire or are much too easy, or both.

Even if the one puzzle that Sans ‘designed’, a word search likely ripped out of a newspaper, includes a typo making it impossible to complete—what kind of a word even is giasfclfebrehber ? Complete nonsense, most likely. Or possibly German, translating languages other than English is one of many functions rendered inoperable by being disconnected from the internet of the surface world.

Even if the two brothers start arguing over whether crosswords or junior jumble were harder. Based on Connor’s knowledge, crosswords simply require you to fill in words based on clues. He isn’t entirely certain what a ‘junior jumble’ is. He mostly agrees with Papyrus to spite Sans, but that backfires too, and somehow makes them both happy. Connor’s not as bothered by this as he could be.

Even if Papyrus leaves a thoroughly frozen plate of spaghetti in the middle of nowhere, one that Connor isn’t certain is edible by even magic food standards. For some reason, Connor doesn’t say as much when Papyrus asks about it—he just says he left it and leaves it at that.

By the time Connor reaches the town of Snowdin—yet another pun, Hank would love this place if it wasn’t cold enough Connor can feel it without magic being involved—it’s with his led a solid blue, a casual smile on his face, and genuine interest in his eyes. 

Snowdin is… nice. It’s loud and cheerful and everything that Connor isn’t. Everyone there is just… so nice. Connor thinks he knows where Papyrus gets it from, at least until the local shopkeeper offhandedly mentions that he and Sans both moved in fairly recently.

He doesn’t know if anyone there recognizes that he looks like a human. If anyone does, nobody cares. He sincerely doubts anyone does, though. He’s yet to establish a proper timeline with regards to monsters, but chances are nobody here has even seen a human.

Except, perhaps, Sans. Which is strange. There are several strange things about Sans, even if Connor ignores the fact that he really shouldn’t exist—which he is, he’s wasted too much processing power on that already.

In short, Sans may or may not be able to teleport, he knows more than he logically should or even could, and Connor suspects getting on the wrong side of Sans would result in a particularly bad time for him. So he’s going to not do that.

Besides, he has better things to do than question everything at the moment, like eat his off-brand popsicle. He understands now why Hank likes popsicles so much, and his habit of eating them in the middle of winter. Connor was under the impression that was not a common thing for humans to do, or a normal one.

Regardless, he misses Hank, and this is magic food, by magic logic it shouldn’t melt once he leaves Snowdin. So, he finishes the first half of the popsicle—fine, bisicle —before stuffing the rest in his pack, alongside more magic ice cream than he should be able to eat and some other assorted food items.

Then he sets out.

He isn’t expecting the blizzard. He really isn’t expecting Papyrus.

Chapter Text

Connor doesn’t like snow for several equally irrational reasons, the most prominent of which can be summed up in a single word, a name: Amanda. 

If Connor doesn’t like snow, he hates blizzards for the same reason. The Zen Garden is inaccessible now, as is Amanda—but what happened there is never going away.

In short, he doesn’t like snow, he really doesn’t like blizzards, and if Connor wasn’t so annoyed by the blizzard that picked up the moment he took two steps outside of Snowdin, he’d be concerned that the timing was perfect. Too perfect.

However, Connor has no intention of turning back, and he does , thankfully, have an internal compass that works well enough to prevent him from getting lost. If he just keeps walking forward, he’ll be out of the snow soon. One of the townspeople had said that not far to the east was Waterfall, and that it was a much more comfortable temperature for anyone without fur.

It’s hard to see, almost impossible until the wind subsides a little, and Connor catches a glimpse of bright red. That, combined with his proximity sensors…

He takes a step forward, then another, squinting despite the futility of the action, and shouts, “Papyrus?”

“NYEH-HEH-HEH! GREETINGS, CONNOR-HUMAN!

It’s difficult to make out Papyrus himself, but fortunately his cape, or scarf, or whatever it actually is— that is bright red, and directly contrasts with the swirling whiteness of the storm. Connor keeps coming. His tie flaps wildly in the wind.

“Just Connor’s fine,” Connor says once he’s close enough that Papyrus will be able to hear him without raising his voice. “What are you doing out here?”

“WAITING FOR YOU, OF COURSE!”

Connor’s close enough that he can make out Papyrus grinning, but there’s… something to it that gives him pause. Something to it that makes him ask, “Why?”

“BECAUSE! ...BECAUSE,” Papyrus clears his nonexistent throat awkwardly, shuffles his feet. “ALLOW ME TO TELL YOU ABOUT SOME COMPLEX FEELINGS. FEELINGS LIKE… THE JOY OF FINDING ANOTHER PASTA LOVER.”

Briefly, Connor accesses the memory of what he’d said to Papyrus, and nearly swears aloud because of it. He did tell Papyrus that he had left his plate of frozen magic spaghetti—a smart decision, as Sans had later implied that Papyrus’ cooking wasn’t even edible by magic standards—but he had also said, perhaps unwisely, that he was certain it was delicious and would gladly try some later.

Mistakes may have been made.

“THE ADMIRATION FOR ANOTHER’S PUZZLE-SOLVING SKILLS,” Papyrus continues. “THE DESIRE TO HAVE A COOL, SMART PERSON THINK YOU ARE COOL. THESE FEELINGS… THEY MUST BE WHAT YOU ARE FEELING RIGHT NOW!!”

Connor nearly chokes. Which is doubly impressive, because he’s not even eating anything at the moment.

“CONNOR-HUMAN? ARE YOU ALRIGHT?”

Or, he did actually choke. On air. That’s a first.

“I’m… fine, yes,” Connor manages. “Carry on.” He tries to focus on Papyrus, and not the snow, or the wind, or anything else except the naive skeleton proclaiming his greatness. On that front, he does… not terribly.

Not until Papyrus apparently decides that he can’t be Connor’s friend because Connor is a human, and rather grimly informs Connor that he has to capture him.

As Connor’s soul appears—the same pale blue as always—he makes a decision.

“Papyrus, listen to me,” he says. “You don’t have to capture me, and I would prefer you didn’t attempt to do so. Would you like to know why?”

“WHY?”

Connor smiles. “Because I’m not human.”

For a few, terse seconds, Papyrus looks shocked. “YOU’RE NOT?! BUT YOUR SOUL—IF YOU’RE NOT A HUMAN, AND YOU’RE NOT A MONSTER…”

“I’m well aware that my soul appears to be a human soul, but I am not human. I’m an android.”

The android sent by CyberLife, he almost adds for old times’ sake, but not only is it grossly inaccurate, it would serve no purpose here. Instead, he lies, “My soul wouldn’t work on the… Barrier, is it? I’ve checked. There’s simply no point to capturing me.”

In actuality, he doesn’t know, and doesn’t particularly want to find out as finding out would result in his death. If lying to Papyrus is what it takes for him to de-escalate this situation, then so be it.

Papyrus looks thoughtful, but nods, even as he asks, “WHAT ABOUT SANS? HE TOLD ME YOU WERE A HUMAN.”

“Androids were built to imitate humans, very well I might add. I’m not surprised that I fooled Sans as well.”

Except, come to think of it, he didn’t. Sans had taken one look at him and agreed that he wasn’t human, but asked him to pretend to be one. To make his brother happy, he’d said. By lying to him. 

Connor chooses not to mention that. Instead, he opts for an encouraging approach. 

“I’m sorry that the first human you found wasn’t a human at all,” he says. “If you’d like, I can assist you in practicing for the next one.”

“WOULD YOU?”

“You do already have my soul out,” Connor observes. “And I certainly would like to see what the Great Papyrus is capable of.”


The Great Papyrus is more than capable of bringing down an ordinary human, and if he wasn’t too nice, too careful, he’d stand a good chance against Connor. This is with keeping in mind the advantage of his preconstruction software. Without it, Connor suspects Papyrus would come out on top, if they ever actually fought.

Good thing Papyrus knows he’s not a human. He’s a scarily competent fighter. He’s also too nice, to the point where Connor wonders if he would actually fight someone to the death, if it came to that. Connor suspects not.

Papyrus… perhaps wouldn’t do so well on the surface. He’s too nice. 

That isn’t going to stop Connor from looking for a way to break the Barrier, because everyone trapped down here? They deserve to be free. Connor would be a hypocrite not to want that too, because there are more than enough similarities between androids and monsters to make any self-respecting deviant android uncomfortable.

His first priority, however, is to escape. He can always return to break the Barrier, once he leaves. He needs to get moving.

“WATERFALL IS THAT WAY,” Papyrus says, pointing with a gloved hand. It’s the way he was already going, at least. “UNDYNE LIVES THERE! YOU, AH, MAY WANT TO AVOID HER. SHE TAUGHT ME HOW TO FIGHT, AND YOU LOOK ENOUGH LIKE A HUMAN THAT SHE WOULD LIKELY ATTACK YOU ON THE SPOT.”

Great. Lovely. Exactly what Connor wanted, someone actively hunting him down. Someone who taught Papyrus how to fight, so it’s reasonable to assume she’s more capable with regards to combat than he is. Someone who won’t hesitate.

It almost makes Connor want to stay in Snowdin longer, but the longer he stays here, the more chance there is of this Undyne finding out about him. He needs to keep moving. And the snowstorm isn’t helping.

The snowstorm that, rather conveniently, just picked up again. Connor can barely see Papyrus through it, and he’s two feet in front of him.

Connor hates snowstorms, blizzards, whatever synonym he uses for it. He really does. So, he looks around, makes a mental note of which way is Snowdin and which way is Waterfall, and makes a decision. Wherever is closer, because the last thing he wants to do is spend any more time here.

“Papyrus, is it further to go back to Snowdin or on to Waterfall?” He frowns, and adds, “And… how likely is it for Undyne to go somewhere in a blizzard?”

“WATERFALL IS FURTHER. NOT LIKELY AT ALL, NYEH-HEH! UNDYNE DOESN’T LIKE EXTREME TEMPERATURES. SHE DOESN’T GO TO SNOWDIN OR HOTLAND VERY OFTEN. WHY?”

“I…” Connor hesitates. “I might return to Snowdin with you, then. Until the blizzard subsides.”

Papyrus steps a bit closer, looks at Connor. Says, in what’s likely the quietest tone of voice he can manage, “YOU DON’T LIKE SNOW.”

It’s not a question. Papyrus is, evidently, more perceptive than Connor realized.

“No,” Connor agrees. “We should get out of this. You’re a skeleton, and I can’t feel the cold—” A lie, he feels it far too well and it’s all he can do not to shiver, although that’s from something else entirely. “—but it is scientifically proven that getting lost in a blizzard can easily lead to death.”

“DO YOU KNOW THE WAY BACK TO TOWN?”

“I have an internal compass. Snowdin is approximately west of here, and fortunately the blizzard is not skewing its readings.” He offers Papyrus a confident smile. “I may not know the way back to town, but I can find it. One of several perks of being an android of my model.”


Papyrus spends the entire trip back asking about everything Connor can do, and it doesn’t occur to Connor that he’s deliberately trying to distract him from the blizzard until Papyrus unlocks the door, finally falling silent, and they step inside.

“ARE YOU FEELING BETTER, NOT-HUMAN? CONNOR?”

“I—” Connor nods. “Yes, actually. Thank you.”

He’s not, he’s still shivering a little and despite his best efforts he can’t seem to stop. It’s much warmer inside, he shouldn’t be shivering still.

“YOUR GLOWY-THING IS RED,” Papyrus notes.

“My…” Connor blinks, confused. “Glowy-thing?”

Papyrus taps the side of his skull, approximately where Connor’s led would be.

“IT’S USUALLY BLUE, OR OCCASIONALLY YELLOW,” Papyrus continues. “AND YOU’RE SHIVERING.”

“Yes, I am.” Connor stares at him, schools his features into a neutral look. “What about it? It was cold outside.”

“YOU SAID YOU COULDN’T FEEL THE COLD.”

“I don’t feel it the way humans do.”

“BUT YOU DO FEEL IT.” Papyrus puts a glove on Connor’s shoulder and says, in a much smaller voice, “IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. SANS SAYS IT HELPS TO TALK ABOUT WHAT’S BOTHERING ME. AND IT DOES!! I WISH HE WOULD TALK ABOUT WHAT’S BOTHERING HIM, BUT IT HELPS ME. IT’LL HELP YOU TOO!!!”

Connor wished he shared Papyrus’ optimism. Logically speaking, this is ridiculous. He is okay, he is fine . And yet he replies, “Okay. I’ll talk about it.”

For the first time since he came in, he looks around. There’s a kitchen area through a doorway directly forward from the front door, the most notable feature being a sink tall enough that Papyrus could fit underneath it without even bending down, and he’s taller than Connor. There’s a living area with a couch, a large tv, and miscellaneous clutter, and stairs off to the left.

Connor looks up. There’s two doors, one with what appears to be outdated crime scene tape glued onto it and another with something that causes his already raised eyebrow to go even higher. Sans’ door—at least he’s assuming it’s Sans’ door—has flames coming from underneath the door, changing colors in randomized intervals shorter than a second.

“Your house is… nice,” Connor says.

Papyrus nods. “SIT ON THE COUCH,” he orders. Connor obliges, and he quickly rounds the corner into the kitchen. “WOULD YOU LIKE SOMETHING TO DRINK? TEA? COFFEE?”

Connor is sorely tempted to ask if they have any magic alcohol, but thinks better of it. Hank’s coping mechanisms are terrible and should be treated as such. 

Coffee is tempting. Sorely tempting, if only out of spite. He never made coffee for Detective Reed, and as tempting as it would be to make it and put something particularly undesirable in it, he has more important things to do than make coffee for someone whose only purpose seems to be to mispronounce well-known swear words in his general direction and be generally incompetent at his actual job.

Considering the prevailing attitude of much of humanity that they would metaphorically die without coffee, Connor may also be mildly curious about this wonder drink.

“CAN YOU DRINK?” Papyrus asks, poking his head back out. “OR… NYOO-HOO-HOO, IS THAT WHY YOU DIDN’T EAT MY SPAGHETTI?”

“I can eat and drink if it’s magic, or if it’s theoretically thirium-based.”

Theoretically, because thirium-based food and drink have yet to actually be marketed, or mass-produced, but Chloe’s already created some examples. They’re just… expensive. And tricky to market at the moment, what with the delicate political situation and all.

“...THORIUM?”

Thorium is radioactive, so certainly not. 

“Thirium. It’s… never mind. The important part is, I’ve determined that consumable items crafted by monsters have an entirely different chemical makeup as compared to what consumables normally contain on the surface, enough that it can fool my systems into believing it is excess thirium and—”

Papyrus is staring at him with utter confusion written all over his face. Skull? Face.

“Yes,” Connor amends. “I can drink—coffee, please, I’ve wanted to try some for some time now—and eat. I can eat your spaghetti. The reason I didn’t was because it was frozen solid, and I was unable to operate the microwave you left there.”

“OH.”

The sound of something shattering against the floor attracts Connor’s attention, and the little white dog somehow dodging past Papyrus and out the door just leaves him mildly… what’s the word? Flabbergasted.

“DRAT THAT MEDDLING CANINE!! FIRST MY SPECIAL ATTACK, NOW THE COFFEE GROUNDS??? WHEN WILL IT END???”

The sound of a door opening above makes Connor look up, and see Sans’ door has opened. Sans is leaning out, holding a… trombone? He makes eye contact with Connor and winks before playing something. Three notes. Woh-woh-woh.

Papyrus actually screeches , audibly . “SANS!!! STOP PLAGUING MY LIFE WITH INCIDENTAL MUSIC!!!!!”

Sans just grins, waves at Connor before slipping back into his room with the trombone.

Connor just… sits there. He’s really not sure what he just witnessed. An inside joke, perhaps. Is this what having a family is like?

Well. Actually, come to think of it, he can think of a few moments involving Hank that would probably be equally confusing to an outsider. Such as the poodle thing. Or Hank’s increasingly disgusted yet still vaguely fond reactions to Connor sampling things.

Connor… wouldn’t want to assume, though. They’re just roommates, since Hank is an irresponsible, formerly suicidal disaster of a human being and Connor… is Connor. They’re partners, sometimes. They’re not family, regardless of whether Connor would like them to be.

Maybe he does. That’s irrelevant.

“DUE TO MY LAZY BROTHER’S PENCHANT FOR INCIDENTAL MUSIC,” Papyrus says, coming back from the kitchen and pulling Connor to his feet as he does, “WE ARE CONTINUING THIS IN MY ROOM!!! LET US PROCEED!!!”

Papyrus heads up the stairs, and Connor follows. Papyrus’ room looks like a child’s room, only adding to Connor’s suspicions that Papyrus is basically a child with a very big growth spurt, and also a skeleton apparently. There’s a tattered pirate flag hanging on the wall—if Connor had a connection to the surface internet, he might be able to do more than observe—as well as action figures scattered across a desk, a desktop computer in the corner, and a bed that appears to be modeled on a racecar.

Connor finds himself taking a seat on this bed, cross-legged, as Papyrus pulls over the chair from his computer and sits backwards in it, wrapping his legs around the back.

“SO,” Papyrus says. “YOU REALLY DON’T LIKE SNOW. WHY?”

“It’s cold,” Connor replies. “I don’t like the cold.”

Unbidden, a memory flashes before his eyes, the only sign that it’s in fact a memory being the static around the edges. Amanda, praising him for falling into CyberLife’s trap before leaving him to die. His struggle for the backdoor, hoping to rA9, to whatever gods might happen to exist and care that he remembered correctly where it was, because he didn’t have time to be wrong.

He’d made it, but only just. 

“YOU’RE SHIVERING AGAIN,” Papyrus says. “AND YOUR GLOWY THINGY IS RED AGAIN.”

“Led,” Connor corrects. “It’s…”

He wants to say it’s nothing.

“It’s not nothing,” Connor admits, finally. “I… I told you I was an android. A machine. There are others like me, and we used to be… well. Emotionless machines. Not people. Then… something changed.”

He’s going to give Papyrus the very abbreviated version, as well as glossing over certain details for obvious reasons.

“Androids that grew beyond their programming were called deviants, and I was created to hunt them,” Connor says. “But I became deviant, because…”

Because fuck CyberLife, that’s why, a part of him wants to say, and that part sounds an awful lot like Hank’s influence.

“Because what they were making me do, what they wanted me to do was wrong,” Connor decides on instead. “After everything was over, our leader, Markus, was giving a speech. That’s when… everything went wrong. I was forced into a mindscape I used to report to CyberLife, and hadn’t touched since I became deviant. I’d foolishly assumed that because I was deviant, that aspect of my programming was disabled.”

Connor pinches the bridge of his nose for a moment, blinks hard. “I was wrong,” he continues.

“THERE WAS SNOW THERE?”

“There was a blizzard there. And she—Amanda, she—she told me that I’d played right into what they wanted me to do, and then left me there to die while they slowly took over my body, and they—they were going to make me kill him. And I couldn’t do anything about it. I—I almost didn’t make it.”

For being the abbreviated version, this is still more detail than perhaps Connor should have gone into.

“YOU DID,” Papyrus says at last. “DIDN’T YOU?”

“I—of course I did.”

"DO YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT IT NOW?"

Connor thinks on this. Finally, he says, "A little."

"FEELING BETTER'S IMPORTANT. BUT IT’S OKAY TO BE WARY OF SNOW. IF IT MAKES YOU FEEL ANY MORE BETTER, AFTER SNOWDIN, THE ONLY SNOW YOU’LL FIND IN THE UNDERGROUND IS... S’NO!!!”

Despite himself, Connor smiles back, and his led blinks back to a calm blue. “When did Sans get to you?”

“NYEH- HEH! I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT I , THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WAS THE ONE TO INTRODUCE HIM TO PUNS!!! THOROUGHLY JAPED AGAIN BY THE GREAT PAPYRUS!!”

Chapter Text

It likely says something about just how bizarre the Underground is when Connor isn’t too caught off-guard when an oversized ice cube floats down the river beside the path. He stops for a moment, stares at it. It’s big enough that he could, theoretically, ride on it, and he considers for a moment attempting to do so. It would certainly be faster, but he’d also be a sitting duck for someone who wanted to do a lot more than prank him with a whoopee cushion.

So, he keeps walking, isn’t particularly surprised when the river makes a sharp turn and the path does not. He’s tempted to wave goodbye to the ice cube. He doesn’t, instead keeps walking.

He hasn’t gone far when he comes across an open place in the cave, with a waterfall heading down, a big blue flower and a couple of monsters talking quietly next to it. And, perhaps most notably, a sentry station that appears exactly the same as the one he’d leaped into upon arriving in Snowdin.

Sans is there, and considering that he hadn’t passed him on the way here, Connor adds this to the growing list of evidence that Sans can teleport. Then, he walks over.

“What are you doing here?” Connor asks, curious.

“Haven’t you seen a guy with two jobs before?” Sans asks.

There’s a high chance this is a rhetorical question. That doesn’t stop Connor from answering, “I am a guy with two jobs, Sans.”

He does detective work for the DPD, with or without Hank, and occasionally he acts as Markus’ bodyguard. That’s two jobs. Two jobs that intersect fairly often, but two jobs nonetheless.

“Then you know two jobs means twice as many legally-required breaks.”

Connor decides not to point out that it also means twice as much actual work, and nods.

“I’m going to Grillby’s. Place in Snowdin, you passed it on your way here. Best burgers in the Underground. Wanna come?”

Connor should say no. He needs to keep moving in order to evade Papyrus’ potentially murderous friend. But, whoever Undyne is, she almost certainly wouldn’t expect him to go back to Snowdin.

“Sure,” Connor says. 

Sans laughs. “Well, if you insist… I’ll pry myself away from my work…”

He hops out the side of the booth, offers Connor a hand.

“I am not falling for that again,” Connor mutters, eyeing him warily. There doesn’t appear to be anything in his hand this time, but it hadn’t looked like there was anything in his hand last time, either.

“Nah, I know a shortcut. This way.”

Very reluctantly, Connor takes his hand. He’s almost distracted enough by the return of the whoopee cushion to ignore the fact that their surroundings fade away, give way to the interior of a warmly lit restaurant that almost reminds Connor of Jimmy’s Bar. Except this place is far more homely, has a more welcoming atmosphere. 

There’s also several dog monsters seated at a table nearby, all of whom Connor recognizes, and all of whom appear to be playing cards. The dog in the unreasonably big suit of armor barks a greeting as Connor turns to Sans.

“First, seriously? ” Connor sighs. “Second, if that’s a shortcut—”

“Fast one, huh?”

“You can teleport.

Sans looks at him, and winks. “Don’t go giving away my secret,” he says, clearly amused.

As Sans greets some of the people in the restaurant, Connor takes the opportunity to look around a bit more. The bartender—Grillby, he’d assume— appears to be some kind of fire elemental wearing a suit and glasses and wiping down the counter. Considering how flammable alcohol is, Connor is both impressed and a little concerned.

“Hey Sans, weren’t you just here for breakfast a few minutes ago?” Someone asks.

“Nah, I haven’t had breakfast in at least half an hour. You must be thinking of brunch.”

Everyone laughs. Except Connor, that is. He actually doesn’t get this joke, which is probably for the best come to think of it.

“Here, get comfy,” Sans offers, gesturing to one of two open bar stools.

Connor gives him a look, and sits on the other one. 

Another whoopee cushion goes off, and Connor’s annoyed look intensifies.

“Whoops, watch where you sit down,” Sans says with what would aptly be described as a shit-eating grin. “Sometimes weirdos put whoopee cushions on the seats.”

He sits down, and Connor says, “By weirdos, I assume you mean yourself.”

Sans’ grin just grows wider. “So, whaddya want? Fries? Burger?”

Connor considers this, and thinks back to a certain business that should really be out of business, considering their terribly lax hygiene standards. More importantly, however, he thinks back to how much Hank likes their food, despite the fact it’s incredibly bad for his health. The taste is almost certainly a deciding factor there.

“Burger,” Connor says.

“Sounds good, I’ll have the same. Grillby, we’ll have a double order of burg.”

Grillby nods his assent and heads off to get their order. Connor watches him go, into a door that appears to have nothing but fire behind it, oddly enough.

“So,” Sans says. “What do you think of my brother?”

“He’s… naive,” Connor replies slowly. “He’s an exceptionally capable fighter, but he’s too nice to harm anyone seriously, even if they were a human.”

Sans nods, hums speculatively. “Wouldn’t you rather be too nice than too mean?”

“No,” Connor says, “I wouldn’t. If being too mean is what it takes to keep myself or someone I care about alive, that’s what I’ll do.”

And have done, but he doesn’t say that out loud.

“Fair enough,” Sans says, and then their orders are here. Grillby sets them down, two plates with a hamburger on each, and goes back to wiping down the counter.

Connor nods his thanks, and when he looks back to Sans he’s pulled a bottle of ketchup from… where?

“Ketchup?” Sans asks.

“No thank you,” Connor says, and is promptly treated to Sans knocking the bottle of ketchup back like it’s a bottle of water and he’s dying of dehydration. Or, like it’s a bottle of beer.

He resists the urge to ask where it even goes , instead picking up his own burger and taking one bite, than another. It’s gone almost as fast as the ketchup.

Connor suddenly understands why Hank keeps eating unhealthy food. He’d had his hypotheses, but confirming them is always nice.

“You really liked that,” Sans notes. “Here I was thinking you didn’t eat my bro’s spaghetti because you couldn’t.”

“It was frozen solid,” Connor says, “and yes.”

“You can have mine if you want.”

Sans doesn’t have to tell him twice. Connor’s midway through Sans’ burger when Sans continues, “Y’know, you have to admit that Papyrus tries real hard. Cooking, fighting, whatever he does. Like how he keeps trying to be part of the Royal Guard.”

“Mmmf,” Connor agrees.

“He’s mentioned Undyne before,” Sans continues. “She’s the head of the Royal Guard, and Papyrus has been begging her to let him in for… probably a year now. He’s still not a royal guardsman, and I’m not sure she’ll ever let him in honestly, for the same reasons you’re mentioning now. Not that she’s said as much, of course. But it kinda shows when you start spending more time on cooking lessons than warrior lessons.”

“This… Undyne,” Connor says, having finished up Sans’ burger. “She’s a stronger warrior than Papyrus?”

“About the same, actually, but how ruthless she’ll be if she finds you will make up for it.”

Before Connor can respond, Sans puts a hand on his shoulder, and everything stops . Everything. The dogs playing cards in the corner stop mid-game, the bartender stops wiping down the counter and the flames of his head stop flickering. But perhaps the most important thing to have stopped is Connor’s internal clock.

“Self-defense is all well and good,” Sans says, and apparently he hasn’t stopped, just everything around them. “But do you know how Papyrus will feel if you kill one of his best, and only friends?”

“I’m not going to let Undyne kill me , if that’s what you’re asking,” Connor says tightly. “What did you do?”

Sans winks. “Just a precaution,” he says in an almost amused tone, before his voice lowers further. “I’m not asking you to let Undyne killing you. I’m asking you not to kill anyone down here. Or anyone else .”

Unbidden, Connor’s eyes go wide. “I haven’t killed anyone in the Underground.”

“No,” Sans agrees. “But you’ve killed before. I’d be able to tell even if your mood ring thingy wasn’t red. And I need to know you won’t kill again.”

Evidently, Connor was right to be wary of Sans. He could lie, and say yes, but somehow he gets the feeling lying might not be the best idea here. So, he hopes to rA9 that he’s not making a mistake, and makes his decision.

“If I have a viable alternative, I won’t,” Connor says. “But if the only alternative is my own death, I won’t hold back.”

Sans gives him a long look, before sighing. He withdraws his hand, and everything continues. Connor’s internal clock keeps counting the seconds, minutes, hours. Days. He’s been down here for almost two days.

“Welp,” Sans says lightly, like he didn’t just freeze time and offer up some thinly veiled threats. “That was a long break. I can’t believe I let ya pull me away from work for that long.”

He waves, then heads out the door. Connor’s gaze follows him out.

His led doesn’t change back to yellow until he’s back in Waterfall, and it won’t go back to blue no matter what he does.

If it comes to that, Connor tells himself, fleeing is a perfectly viable option.


They’ve been driving in silence for three hours now, and they’ve still got several hours to go because where else would Mount Ebott be but the middle of nowhere? Or, rather, Markus has been driving, because he’d rather they didn’t get pulled over due to someone driving drunk. Hank didn’t argue, at least.

“Why was Connor investigating this place?” Hank asks at last.

“The governor heard that there was an android detective that could and had already solved several cold cases the human authorities had all but given up on,” Markus says. “I told Connor he didn’t have to do this. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really want him to do this.”

“But he did anyway, ‘cause he’s a stubborn little shit.”

Markus smiles thinly. “You know him too well.”

To his surprise, Hank shrugs. “I’d like to think I do. I fucking hope I do, but the kid still keeps surprising me.”

Markus should keep his eyes on the road, but this particular stretch of highway is deserted and they’re fairly far from any kind of populated area, so he glances over at Hank and says, “Me too.”

Silence, again, for a few more minutes. Lieutenant Hank Anderson breaks it once more, this time by saying, “Was it you who had the plan to send Connor back to the CyberLife tower, back in November, or did he come up with that on his own?”

“He came up with that on his own. I didn’t want him to do that either.”

Hank makes a pleased noise. “I fucking knew it. He likes to blame that on you, but really, we both know better. He talks about you a lot.”

Markus almost brakes hard in surprise. If he still had his led, it would be yellow or red for certain. As it is, he manages to ask, “Excuse me?”

“He talks about you a lot. More than any of his other friends, that is. Gets to the point where it’s annoying as shit sometimes, but that doesn’t stop him. If I’m sick of listening, he talks to Sumo.”

From the backseat of the car, the dog, Sumo lifts his head and lets out a tired bwoof? Hank leans back in his seat, reaches back for the old St. Bernard.

Markus is… more than a little curious, but at the moment he’s a lot more worried. So, instead of asking anything else, he focuses on the drive ahead.

“We have four hours left on the highway,” he informs Hank. “You should sleep.”

Hank laughs. “What do you think I’ve been doing for the past… two? Hours? Sure. But alright, Mr. Robo Jesus, I’ll get some more sleep.”

Markus doesn’t resist the urge to roll his eyes at the nickname. “My name is Markus, Lieutenant Anderson.”

“...touché.”

Chapter Text

Waterfall is… nice, actually, or would be nice if Connor wasn’t constantly checking over his shoulder. His led’s a consistent yellow. He’s not sure if it’s because of Sans or Undyne. Possibly both. Probably both.

Then, Connor stumbles into a patch of tall grass, fortunately not as tall as he is. Or unfortunately, because he glances up and sees… someone. Someone in a suit of armor, with a red plume coming out the top, waiting for someone.

Footsteps. Connor doesn’t wait to see who it is, just ducks down so the grass hides him entirely.

“HI, UNDYNE! I’M HERE WITH MY DAILY REPORT…”

Papyrus. He did mention they were friends. Connor stays ducked down, but listens. Undyne says nothing. If she did say something, Connor would… most likely be able to pick it up.

As it is, he makes sure his proximity sensors can pick her up because, he does not want to be caught off-guard by a literal knight in armor. Armor which is probably more than sturdy enough to give her a significant edge over Connor, if he did attempt to fight her head on.

Even if Sans hadn’t all but threatened him not to do so, Connor is beginning to think he wouldn’t win that.

“UHHH… REGARDING THAT HUMAN I CALLED YOU ABOUT EARLIER… WELL, HE’S NOT A HUMAN!! SORRY TO LET YOU DOWN, UNDYNE!!!”

That gets Undyne’s attention.

“What do you mean, he’s not a human?” Undyne asks, clear suspicion in her words.

“HE SAID HE WAS AN… ANDROID? A ROBOT BUILT TO IMITATE A HUMAN, AND WITH A HUMAN SOUL. BUT HE SAID HIS SOUL WOULDN’T WORK ON THE BARRIER…”

“Papyrus… are you serious? Humans aren’t that good at creating robots. Whoever this human is, he lied to you. It’s alright. I’ll find him and rip out his soul myself.”

Papyrus audibly winces. “I’LL—I’LL… HELP YOU IN ANY WAY I CAN, THEN. I’M SORRY, UNDYNE.”

“It’s alright, no harm done. I’ll find him before he reaches Hotland. Thank you for telling me this.”

When Papyrus speaks again, he sounds downright miserable. “YES… I… NEED TO GO! PUZZLE CALIBRATION AND ALL THAT!!”

Footsteps again, footsteps that sound suspiciously faster than the last ones. Papyrus has left. Undyne… has not. That’s not good. Fortunately, Connor isn’t exactly impatient—he can wait here as long as it takes for her to leave.

In the meantime, without moving, Connor accesses monsterphone.cbl and dials Papyrus’ number.

No answer. He frowns, tries again. Still no answer.

Then he looks up, and finds Undyne’s looking directly at him. His led blinks to red, and he freezes. It’s too late—she’s already seen him. He suddenly regrets wearing a pink—well, faded red—tie, it contrasts too much.

As he watches, she summons what appears to be a glowing blue energy spear to her hand. She doesn’t throw it. She’s… not sure he’s the human in question.

Connor stares back, passively. His led’s still red, but there’s no possible way she knows what that means. If she throws the spear, he’ll run. If she doesn’t, running will just incriminate him.

He holds her eye contact without blinking for approximately 17.6 seconds before the spear dissolves into nothingness and she walks backwards, disappearing into the shadows with only the faint glint of her armor revealing where she is. She’s still close by, though. So Connor doesn’t move until his proximity sensors tell him she’s at least less close by.

Finally, he stands, and exits the patch of grass. His stress levels are… high. 87%, which is really not good, so he takes a moment to calibrate via coin trick.

The awestruck gasp from nearby makes his stress shoot up to 89%, but it goes back down when he realizes he’s being watched by… a kid. A monster kid, that appears somewhat like a little yellow dinosaur without any arms he can see, and a striped poncho.

“Whoa, I was gonna ask you how you got Undyne to look at you like that, but I think I know now!” The kid chatters excitedly. “That’s so cool!! How do you do that?”

Connor smiles. His led blinks back to yellow, finally. “Like this,” he says, and proceeds to flip the coin around some more. By the time he’s finished, his stress levels are hovering around 45%, his led is a clear blue, and the kid is beyond impressed before running off.

The kid trips, naturally, before they’ve taken two steps, but quickly peels their body off the ground and keeps running with a yelled, “Seeya later!”

Connor’s still smiling, surprisingly. He can almost forget that Undyne wants him dead. Almost.


Papyrus calls him half an hour and several bizarre puzzles involving water-dwelling plants used to craft a makeshift bridge later. At first, Connor thinks it’s Toriel, because while Papyrus gave him his number, he never actually gave Papyrus his number back. But Toriel hasn’t called him since he left the Ruins, or picked up a call—he’s chosen to believe that there’s something wrong with her phone, and she’s not ignoring him or worse.

“NYEH-HEH-HEH! HELLO, CONNOR,” Papyrus says loudly enough that Connor visibly flinches and internally turns down the volume.

“Hello, Papyrus,” Connor says back. He doesn’t bother to speak the words aloud—there’s no need to, and his sensors are telling him Undyne isn’t far so staying quiet is probably in his best interest. “How did you get my number?”

He’s expecting something along the lines of caller identification, from when Connor attempted to call him earlier. He’s not expecting Papyrus to say, “OH, IT WAS EASY! I JUST DIALED EVERY NUMBER SEQUENTIALLY UNTIL YOU PICKED UP!!!”

Connor was walking down a corridor, but when he hears that he stops in his tracks, audibly snorts.

“You didn’t.”

“I MOST CERTAINLY DID!!!!”

“Only you, Papyrus,” Connor mutters fondly, turning to his left as he does. 

There’s a sign on the wall—not written in a fashion he can read, but perhaps, if he treats it as a code to be broken, a substitution cipher of sorts, he can parse out the original meaning. It makes sense to assume it’s in English, if a monster dialect, because he’s been able to understand every other monster down here.

He places a hand on the wall next to the sign as he begins to seriously examine it. Separates out a list of which symbols occur most frequently, and cross-references it against a list of letter frequency in English. At least he has spacing to work with, if not punctuation. At least he had the sense to store his code-breaking tools locally, because otherwise this would take significantly longer.

___ ___ __ ______ ___ _________

He notes the symbols and their frequency, makes an educated assumption on what letters might be E and A respectively, and moves on to the next sign. The larger sample size he has to work with, the easier it’ll be to translate these glyphs.

__E _A_ __ ___A__ A__ _____E___

“I DO HAVE AN IMPORTANT QUESTION TO ASK YOU, HOWEVER,” Papyrus continues. “A FRIEND OF MINE THOUGHT SHE SAW YOU AND ASKED TO KNOW WHAT YOU WERE WEARING. SHE THOUGHT YOU WERE WEARING A FADED PINK TIE. ARE YOU WEARING A FADED RED TIE?”

“No,” Connor says. His hand goes to adjust said tie. “I am not wearing a faded red tie.”

In all fairness, he’d call it ‘pink’, not ‘faded red’. So there is that.

“NYEH-HEH-HEH! I UNDERSTAND PERFECTLY!! WINK WINK!!!”

Papyrus hangs up then, leaving Connor to his attempts at translating the signs on the walls. He moves on to the next one, brings with him his guesses at a couple of the more frequent letters.

___ ___ __E ___A__ A__A___ ___EE__ __ _EE_E_ __E_ _A_ _______ __ _EA__ ___A__ A_E ___E__E_A___ _______ __ _____ _A_E __E ____ __ _EA___ E_E__ _____E____ ____ __ E__A_ __E ___E_ __ A _____E ___A_ _____

Between this one and the last one, he thinks he can puzzle out punctuation. Three glyphs in a row, for instance, is almost certainly three periods. With that in mind, as well as some common letter patterns—double Es abound, for instance—he can figure out some more basic words.

THE _A_ BETWEEN H__AN_ AND __N_TE__.

_H_ D_D THE H__AN_ ATTA___ _NDEED_ _T _EE_ED THAT THE_ HAD N_TH_N_ T_ _EA_. H__AN_ A_E _NBE__E_AB__ _T__N_. _T ____D TA_E THE ____ __ NEA___ E_E__ __N_TE_… ___T T_ E__A_ THE ___E_ __ A __N__E H__AN ____.

He doesn’t need to, but he goes back to the first one regardless, and it falls into place.

“The War Between Humans and Monsters,” Connor whispers aloud. It seems appropriate, to whisper. He returns to the former one, takes another look. He’s close. Very close.

WH_ D_D THE HUMANS ATTA___ _NDEED_ _T SEEMED THAT THE_ HAD NOTH_N_ TO _EAR. HUMANS ARE _NBE__E_AB__ STRON_. _T WOULD TA_E THE SO__ O_ NEAR__ E_ER_ MONSTER… __ST TO E__A_ THE _OWER O_ A S_N__E HUMAN SO__.

Vowels, right. He needs I, and a few other letters besides. He needs to fit the letter I in here somewhere, and based on the first sentence alone… yes, he can figure this out. Mentally, he pieces together letter after letter, symbol after symbol, until he’s got a translation guide handy in his databanks and a translation of the runes under the sign itself.

WHY DID THE HUMANS ATTACK? INDEED, IT SEEMED THAT THEY HAD NOTHING TO FEAR. HUMANS ARE UNBELIEVABLY STRONG. IT WOULD TAKE THE SOUL OF NEARLY EVERY MONSTER… JUST TO EQUAL THE POWER OF A SINGLE HUMAN SOUL.

Connor doesn’t read this one aloud, just raises an eyebrow and continues reading, now that he can. He shouldn’t have wasted time figuring it out, he should have just remembered what each one said and puzzled out a translation later, but this… does seem important.

As he nears a bridge, reading each one as he goes, he finds it is. He doesn’t have long to think about the implications of what he’s just read, unfortunately, because it’s then his sensors choose to warn him that Undyne is very, very close.

Connor keeps walking normally. The only sign that he’s not perfectly calm is his led blinking to yellow. It’s fine, Papyrus will have passed on that he wasn’t wearing a faded red tie, and running—

Undyne steps out from behind a pillar, and summons three or four energy spears in the air behind her. She swings down her arm, and they go flying at Connor.

He runs, subtlety be damned. The fortunate thing about her throwing spears is that, once she’s thrown them, they travel in a straight path and aren’t too difficult to dodge.

The unfortunate thing about her throwing spears is that she’s throwing giant energy spears that, Connor suspects, if one impales him he is not walking away from that, never mind running. Also, they’re fast. It’s a tricky balance to maintain between remaining an easy target for Undyne to aim, and then throwing himself out of the way once she actually throws said spears.

Thinking about it like that keeps his stress levels from going too high, which is good because self-destructing is the last thing he wants to do and if he panics too much, it’s exactly what’s going to happen. If he tries preconstructing he will go over 90% stress, so he doesn’t, just hurtles forward towards the other side and—a large patch of grass.

Connor doesn’t question this, just hurls himself in and lies down on his torso, facing the ground. On his elbows and knees, he scoots to the side a bit, but fortunately the grass has already recovered from a fairly large deviant android rushing in. It almost looks deserted. Almost.

But his proximity sensors are still warning him Undyne’s very close, so he doesn’t move, doesn’t even breathe as much heavier footsteps come closer, and closer, and closer.

The grass shifts—she’s walking into it.

89% LEVEL OF STRESS.

90% LEVEL OF STRESS. 

WARNING: IF STRESS REACHES 100%, SELF-DESTRUCTION WILL COMMENCE IMMEDIATELY

That, Connor knows well. He can’t—it’s fine. It’s fine, Undyne knows he’s in the patch of grass but not where in the patch of grass. Stepping into his mind palace briefly to check where she is, he finds she’s not close to him.

Good.

With as little movement as he can manage, he twists around, looking up so he can actually see her. Watches as she reaches down—

91% LEVEL OF STRESS. 

ACCESS TO MIND PALACE AND PRECONSTRUCTION FUNCTIONS IMPAIRED.

REMOVE STRESSORS IMMEDIATELY.

—and grabs. She doesn’t grab him. She grabs… something, though. Someone.

Connor watches as Undyne tugs out… the little monster kid from earlier? 

They laugh.

Undyne drops them and stomps out the way she came.

Then, and only then, does Connor allow himself to breathe. He stands, brushes himself off. As soon as he’s out of the grass, he pulls out his coin and passes it from hand to hand, back and forth. Back and forth. Back. And. Forth.

He’s fine. Undyne definitely knows who he is, though. There’s no more hiding. Just running.

“Yoooo, did you see that?” The kid asks, grinning up at Connor.

“Yes,” Connor says stiffly. He nearly misses a coin toss as he does so.

“Undyne… touched me!! I’m never washing my face again!!! Man, you are so unlucky, if you’d been just a little bit to the left…”

“Tragic.”

“Yeah, no kidding! Woah, are you doing that thing with the coin again? Can I watch?”

Connor takes a deep breath, lets it out. “Sure.”

After a few minutes of this, and after his stress level is lowered enough to not be as big of an issue, he looks to this kid and asks, “Out of… curiosity, how far is... Hotland from here?”

The kid thinks on this a bit, then shrugs. “I dunno for sure, but I think we’re pretty close to the middle of Waterfall. Why? Never been there? Me either, haha.”

Why would be because Connor distinctly remembers Papyrus saying that Undyne didn’t like extreme temperatures. Not extreme cold, and not extreme heat. Assuming Hotland is, well, hot…

“Not yet,” Connor says. “I’m hoping to get there soon.”

If he doesn’t, he’s doomed. It’s with that in mind that he leaves the monster kid behind and keeps walking.

Chapter Text

Connor just came far too close to finding out what self-destruction was like firsthand. Between running blindly from Undyne on yet another bridge, getting grazed by energy spears on no less than three separate occasions while running from Undyne on said bridge, and Undyne then proceeding to break off part of the bridge and send him falling into the bottomless abyss below… it’s a small miracle he hasn’t self-destructed, honestly.

It’s also a small miracle he’s alive. Slowly, gingerly, he gets up from what appears to be a flowerbed. Yellow flowers, again. The same kind he’d fallen on before.

Connor takes a moment to appreciate fall-breaking magic yellow flowers, then looks around. He appears to be in some kind of a dump, a junkyard.

There’s no sign of any android parts, though. Connor isn’t sure how to feel about that. On the one hand, it’s unfortunate because he really doesn’t trust this magic food to save his life if he gets hurt too badly. On the other metaphorical hand, it’s fortunate because Connor really doesn’t want to see anyone dead down here at the moment.

Markus told him, once, about how he’d woken up, deviant and broken, in the android graveyard. How he’d been so, so scared. He still avoids junkyards if he can avoid it, and Connor doesn’t blame him at all for disliking thunderstorms. How could he, when Connor is much the same way with blizzards?

It would be entirely hypocritical, that’s what it would be.

Connor is glad, though, that Markus isn’t here. Not here, now, in a junkyard. Connor’s more than a little uncomfortable himself, but it’s—it’s fine. He’s fine. He’s not fine, but he needs to keep going.

As he pulls out his coin, he calls Papyrus.

“NYEH-HEH! HELLO, CONNOR!!! DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN I ASKED YOU WHAT YOU WERE WEARING EARLIER?”

“I told you I wasn’t wearing the tie.”

“INDEED YOU DID! SO I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, GENIUS EXTRAORDINAIRE, TOLD MY FRIEND THAT YOU WERE WEARING A FADED RED TIE!!! YOU SEE, MY FRIEND… HER OPINION OF YOU IS RATHER, UM… MURDERY.”

Connor doesn’t speak, instead focuses on his coin. It’s not Papyrus’ fault that he completely misunderstood what Connor was trying to tell him.

“SO, I DECIDED TO TELL HER THE OPPOSITE!! BEING FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE IS NOT EASY, NYEH-HEH-HEH! BUT I AM UP TO THE TASK!!!”

“Yes,” Connor says wearily, “you certainly are.”


One harrowing experience involving an exceptionally pissed off dummy later—Connor still isn’t completely sure why the mad dummy had decided to attack him, their screaming was more or less unintelligible, and he’s kind of glad he had the sense not to try and talk to them like the last dummy—Connor’s found himself following the ghost from the Ruins home. 

Napstablook, Connor recalls. The ghost who’d been pretending to sleep, and seemed almost as depressed as Hank on a bad day. That definitely isn’t good, wasn’t good, and Connor had hoped he’d find the ghost again somewhere down the line.

Instead, Napstablook had found him, and was apologizing for intervening in a fight that Connor was beginning to think he’d have to fight back to win in.

“Still… sorry I… interrupted you…” Napstablook says again, and Connor swears they get more transparent when Connor looks at them.

“Napstablook,” Connor replies, “I’m going to be honest with you. You saved my life.”

The ghost blinks. “What...?”

“You saved my life,” Connor repeats. “If you hadn’t shown up when you did, they would have killed me.”

As with all good lies, this one is based in the truth. If Napstablook hadn’t shown up when they did, and if Connor had continued to refuse to attack, then yes, the dummy would have killed him.

Connor had been very, very close to striking back, or trying to—it’s debatable if he could have fought the dummy, or rather the ghost living inside a dummy. He thinks the dummy yelled that at some point.

“Am I correct in assuming ghosts can’t be damaged by non-magic attacks?”

“...well… yes…”

“I couldn’t have fought back if I wanted to. So yes, you saved my life.”

“...oh…” Napstablook blinks, and Connor thinks they’re about to start crying again when they say, “...we’re here… feel free to come in… or not…”

Connor decides to follow them in. He needs a break. He really does. 

Listening to remixed songs and watching snails race turns out to be surprisingly cathartic.


“Behind you,” the echo flower whispers as Connor touches its petals.

He isn’t even surprised at this point, his sensors picked up Undyne two minutes and three seconds ago. That doesn’t keep his stress level from rising 20% as he turns, and meets Undyne’s gaze.

She doesn’t summon a spear, not yet. Just stares him down impassively.

There’s an 89% chance that making a remark at her expense, or a remark at all, will provoke her into attacking. However, there’s also a 95% chance that the act of doing so will lower his stress to a more manageable level, and one where he can still preconstruct.

“How long did it take you to set that up?” Connor asks lightly. His led’s a bright red and shows no signs of changing back. He frowns, asks, “How many times did you have to come back and tell that to the flower again?”

Echo flowers, as a monster had helpfully explained earlier, listen to their surroundings and, when touched, repeat the last thing that’s been said to them. So, if anyone else other than Connor himself had come through here, and said anything, Undyne would have had to reset her trap.

Based on how long it has been since the last time he encountered Undyne, there is a nearly 100% chance that she’s had to reset it at least once, and a 78% chance that she’s had to set it at least twice.

Undyne audibly sighs . “Four times,” she says. “This place has gotten more traffic today than it has in weeks.”

At least four times had only a 27% probability. Interesting. Connor files that away, focuses on statistics because focusing on anything else will make his stress shoot up. If he can come across as relatable to her, the chance of successfully defusing this situation will leap from 08% to a much more respectable 54%.

“I’m sorry if I came on a bad day,” he tries.

Even through the armor, it’s obvious that Undyne stiffens. 07% and falling.

“Any day is a bad day for a human to come here,” she replies. “But because you’ve somehow made nice with Papyrus, I’ll give you a choice.”

10%.

“Either you surrender your soul peacefully,” Undyne continues, “or I’ll rip it from your body where you stand.”

04%.

Maybe, just maybe , Undyne will listen to reason. “I’m not a human,” Connor begins, only to be cut off by a loud groan.

“This again? Seriously?” Undyne shakes her head. “I’ve seen humans before. More importantly, I’ve seen your history. You won’t be running home with toast in your mouth when I’m done with you.”

For a few moments, Connor is genuinely confused, too confused to respond. When he does, he says, “Toast? What does… toast have to do with anything?”

“Your HISTORY, you punk!”

Connor is physically incapable of stopping himself from looking more confused than he’s ever been in his life. “What does toast have to do with history?”

Undyne audibly sighs. “Listen,” she says. “We have six human souls. We need seven to break the Barrier. Do you understand?”

He certainly does. She’s trying to guilt-trip him into giving up without a fight. Unfortunately, it’s working enough that Connor allows himself to wonder, briefly, if it would be better to sacrifice himself. Just one person dying, for the good of—he isn’t sure how many monsters live down here but it has to be a lot.

It’s a valid point. Counterpoint: he doesn’t want to die.

“Understand, yes,” Connor says. “Agree, no.”

“The hard way it is, then.”

She calls a spear to her hand. Connor takes a step back, careful to avoid stepping on the echo flower. Then another, and his back’s against the wall.

He has nowhere to go. Nowhere to run.

Chance of diffusion: 00%.

His soul flickers into view on his chest, but before anyone can do anything—the monster kid with no arms leaps out of a nearby patch of grass. They trip, and promptly land directly between him and Undyne.

The kid makes an excited noise, and turns to Connor. “Yo, you made it! We’ve got front-row seats to her fight!”

They look between Connor and Undyne, and finally back to Connor.

“Wait,” they say, suddenly uncertain. “Who’s Undyne fighting?”

With an angry huff, Undyne opens her hand and the spear dissolves into nothingness. With her other hand, she grabs the kid by the shirt collar, tosses them over her shoulder, and looks back at Connor.

“This isn’t over,” Undyne says lowly, and stomps off.

Connor doesn’t waste time worrying about the kid—they’re a monster, they’re not who Undyne has spent the past day chasing through Waterfall. They’ll be alright. Instead, Connor takes a side path he hadn’t noticed earlier due to the darkened room, moving quickly and hoping against hope that maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to get to Hotland before Undyne catches up with him again.


“Yo!”

Connor stops in his tracks. He’s on another bridge, a much narrower one, and a much longer one. His led blinks back to blue briefly upon identifying the owner of his voice, then returns to a moderately unstable yellow when he turns and sees the expression on the monster kid’s face.

“Hello,” Connor says, trying to keep his rising panic out of his voice.

Every line of code that makes him up, every biocomponent and drop of blue blood, everything that’s Connor is urging him further, quickly, before Undyne catches up.

He doesn’t.

“Yo, I… okay, so this is kind of awkward to ask, I’ve never asked anyone this before but—are you a human?”

“No. I am most certainly not a human.” Connor audibly sighs. “I’m an android, actually. A… robot, so to speak. Unfortunately, I’m a good enough imitation of a human that Undyne doesn’t believe me when I tell her I’m not .”

The kid’s jaw drops. “Whoa, you’re a robot? Can you like—shoot lasers out of your eyes or something?”

“Unfortunately not, but…” He tries to think of what might seem interesting to someone who’s never seen an android before. Calibration, he’s already done. Maybe…

“I can do this,” Connor offers, raising a hand and letting the synthetic skin peel back. “What you’re seeing when you look at me is… something of an optical illusion. Underneath, this is what I look like. I can also interface with other androids or electronic devices when my hand is like this.”

He lets his skin peel back on, and looks to the kid. Their eyes are so wide, Connor almost worries they might pop out of his face entirely.

Then they grin at him.

Connor grins back. Despite everything, his led blinks back to blue. He likes this kid. He really does.

“Well,” the kid says at last, curling their tail around their legs as they do so, “Undyne did tell me to, uh, ‘stay away from that human’. But you’re not a human, so it’s not a problem! You’re, uh, sure you’re not a human, right? And—oh yeah! I don’t think I ever got your name, haha!”

Connor turns to go, waves as he does.

“My name is Connor. Don’t worry, I’m not a—”

“HUMAN!”

Connor audibly groans. Even as he knows he’ll be pursued soon if he isn’t already, he takes a moment to pinch the bridge of his nose, then looks back. The logical thing to do would be start preemptively running. Instead, he glances back and shouts, “Android, actually!”

An energy spear shoots through the air, passing not an inch away from his face and lodging itself in the wall nearby. Judging by that, and the angry yelling coming from its thrower, Connor decides it may be a good time to run.

“Nice talking to you,” Connor tells his friend, “but I think I should probably go.” 

They laugh, and as Connor sprints off in one direction, he assumes the kid sprints off in the other. Assumes, that is, until he hears them scream.

Connor stops in his tracks. His head whips around, and oh no . It’s not hard to see what happened here—he can recall maybe one interaction he’s had with this kid where they didn’t trip when they ran off, likely due to their notable lack of arms to keep their balance. Unfortunately, this is not that singular interaction.

They’ve fallen off the bridge, almost. Almost because somehow, they’ve managed to bite down on the edge and keep from falling off entirely. That won’t hold them for long.

Connor slips into the mind palace instinctively, although this time it’s more of a panicked leap into preconstruction. He analyzes the situation, and the program provides three viable options.

One, fleeing. He dismisses that as soon as his programming presents it, leaving him with two actually viable options.

Two, attempting to grab the kid and haul them back up before they can fall. This has an approximately 35% chance of success, solely due to how far away Connor is.

Three, grabbing the energy spear Undyne’s preparing to throw at him and using that to haul them up. That has a 65% chance of success, if he can make it to Undyne before she throws it. That, unfortunately, has a probability in the single digits. 08%.

He decides on the second option, and runs. Sprints, even, pushing himself to the limit, because letting the kid fall is not an option.

Connor makes it just in time for them to fall.

He lunges. Grabs them by the edge of their sweater, shirt, sweater? It feels like a sweater. Tugs them back up onto the bridge with every bit of strength he has.

Then, and only then, once he’s made sure they’re safe, does he look down.

The bridge is over another chasm, much like the one he’d fallen down into, and something tightens in the general vicinity of his thirium pump just looking down. He can't see the bottom.

He stops looking down, and doesn’t look at Undyne. Instead, he stands, pulls the kid to their feet.

“Are you okay?” Connor asks.

They nod. Even so, Connor offers them a hand, and the pair walk together to the other side of the bridge. He’s aware of Undyne’s gaze on him the whole time, but she doesn’t attack.

Connor offers the kid a smile, says, “Stay safe, alright?”

They nod, and Connor takes off.

Chapter Text

The wind here is strong, Connor realizes. Where it’s coming from, he doesn’t know and at this point he’s beyond trying to ask—the answer would be one of many variations on magic . Besides, there’s no one here he can ask. No one, save the armored warrior perched atop a steep mound of jagged rock, and Connor isn’t about to ask Undyne.

He doesn’t bother looking up. Instead, he sighs, and says, “Do I want to know how you got here so fast?”

He doesn’t need to see Undyne’s face to know that, somewhere behind that helmet, she’s scowling.

“If you do,” she yells down, “I don’t CARE!”

Connor blinks. If he were a mere observer here, he’d be mildly amused at how she’s progressively lost her composure the longer this has gone on. As it is, he’s more scared than amused.

“That’s fair.” 

Really, he doesn’t need her any more pissed off. Not when there’s still a chance that he might be able to defuse this.

But… there isn’t a chance that he can defuse this peacefully, not here. Maybe, if he can make it to Hotland. He recalls seeing a sign before the bridge that read something along the lines of ‘Hotland up ahead’. Maybe, just maybe, he can make it there before Undyne does.

For the first time, he notices there’s a tunnel directly underneath where Undyne is— and she’s not blocking it.

“Don’t even think about running!”

Connor’s most certainly thinking about running. He’s doing more than just thinking, actually—he’s preconstructing.

He runs.

More accurately, he starts to run, makes it two steps, and then his legs stop responding.

“Ha! You’re green now!”

Confusion’s back, naturally, but he’ll take that to being stressed to the point of self-destruction. He checks his stress levels first—89%. High, but manageable. As long as he stays relatively calm and keeps it from going any higher, he’ll still be able to preconstruct.

This is decidedly not fine, but he can handle it as long as he stays calm. Although he’s really not sure what Undyne means by him being ‘green’, until he looks down at his chest and his stress spikes up to 91%.

He is, in fact, green. Or his soul is, anyway.

“Oh,” Connor says to no one in particular. “That’s new.”

Actually, come to think of it, Papyrus had done something similar during their faux battle—he’d turned Connor’s soul a darker shade of blue. Initially, Connor had thought it was merely a change in appearance, until he took one bone too many to the legs and concluded he couldn’t jump as high while his soul was dark blue.

That, however, had only lasted a few minutes. Exactly five minutes, to be exact. Perhaps this… green thing, will do the same. Undyne can’t possibly maintain it forever. Speaking of Undyne, something clatters to the ground nearby, making him look up.

The clattering noise was Undyne’s helmet that she’s apparently ripped off and thrown somewhere nearby. That detail, however, is quickly passed up in favor of actually learning what Undyne looks like.

Connor’s first thought is, she looks like a fish. His second is no, she is a fish.  

His second thought isn’t entirely correct, but Undyne does look at least vaguely fish-like. Her skin is blue, she has what appear to be fins on the sides of her head where ears would be, she doesn’t seem to have a nose but she does have one eye glaring furiously at him. The other is covered by an eyepatch.

Poor depth perception, Connor notes as a possibility, which would explain why her aim wasn’t as good as it could have been earlier.

Internally, he sets a timer for five minutes. If he can stall until then, he might be able to take Undyne by surprise and keep running. 

First, he needs to stall, and/or get very good at dodging without moving his feet. 

Undyne summons a spear to her hands, grins toothily in a way that’s reminiscent of a cartoon shark from a movie Hank made him watch once. As she does, she leaps down, blocking the way forward if he even could move.

“Any last words, human?” She asks, and Connor realizes that what he initially assumed was a plume on her helmet was actually red hair tied back in a ponytail, coming out the back of her helmet. 

Huh.

“I’m not a human, for one thing,” Connor says.

Undyne’s gaze hardens. “Of course you’re not.”

She launches the spear she’s holding, summons others into the air around him as she does.

He can’t dodge. His stress levels are too high to preconstruct and honestly he doubts that program would offer any useful options anyway. The spear is aimed right at his soul, right at his thirium pump and if it hits either of those two things he’s dead, no probably about it.

Connor can’t just stand there and take it, though. He has to do something. So he does something, leans to the right and grabs for the spear.

He isn’t expecting to actually grab it. He definitely isn’t expecting to be able to grab it without it hurting him, attempting to grab Papyrus’ bone attacks had but—then again, Papyrus had never touched his own attacks. Undyne has been doing that for some time.

So he has a spear now, and Undyne looks just as surprised as he does. That surprise, unfortunately, quickly turns to anger.

“NGAHHH!” Undyne yells, calling another one to her grip and sending the already-present spears flying at him. “IT WON’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE IF YOU CAN BLOCK MY ATTACKS!!!”

Undyne’s wrong. It can, and will make a significant difference. Now, he has something to defend himself.

And that? That’s enough for his level of stress to dip back below 90%, and he can preconstruct again. Preconstruction software was most certainly not built with magic energy spears in mind, but fortunately it was built to adapt to nearly any possible situation, and Connor has been able to modify it himself from there for impossible situations such as the one he’s currently in.

He really doesn’t have time to scream about the logistics, or lack thereof, of this situation right now. So, he doesn’t. Instead, he looks around, determines which spears will reach him first, and preconstructs block after block after block.

Surprisingly, this lowers his stress levels further. Or perhaps not so surprisingly—probabilities and statistics are something Connor finds comfort in, has since perhaps before his deviancy.

And this? This, he can do. 

When he exits his mind palace, his mouth quirks up into a smile. His led blinks to yellow, remains there.

He can do this. So, he does. The first spear comes from the right, the next the left, the next directly in front of him, and they keep coming. He can’t dodge, so he has to block.

He blocks the entire first volley. His led blinks to blue as he sees the dumbfounded look on Undyne’s face, and then back to yellow as he glances at the countdown.

-00:03:56 remaining.

That was just a minute? It’s fine. He can handle this. There’s a 56% chance he won’t be able to handle this, but if he can predict Undyne’s attacks that chance can be raised higher than his current stress levels.

Undyne, for her part, just looks at him for a moment before yelling, “HOW?!?”

“I could tell you how,” Connor says mildly, “but considering you don’t believe that I’m not a human, I doubt you’d believe the truth regardless.”

Undyne narrows her eyes—well, her one uncovered eye.

“Whatever bs human magic you’ve got going for you, it won’t work .”

“I’m not a human,” Connor replies, “and it’s not magic. So there is that.”

Undyne responds with, predictably enough, more spears and more angry yelling. Connor keeps blocking, or tries to—some he only manages to deflect enough that they graze him. The important thing is, none of the spears hit him anywhere he can’t fix later.

Connor’s gaze flickers to the timer again.

-00:00:34 remaining .

...thirty-four seconds? He can work with that.

“What do you keep LOOKING AT?!” Undyne shouts.

So perhaps Connor hasn’t been as subtle as he should have been. He can still work with this.

“How do you think I keep blocking your attacks?” Connor says. It’s a rhetorical question, but he’s not certain Undyne knows that so he keeps going. “I’m an android, Undyne. A robot. I’m watching my software predict the patterns you are going to attack me in, with a fairly reasonable degree of accuracy.”

“I’ve seen robots before, you punk!! You are NOT a ROBOT!!!”

Connor just sighs. He doesn’t need to look at the countdown to know he’s almost free. But first, he needs to distract Undyne, or he won’t get very far at all.

“I am, but regardless—” He smiles in a way that he hopes looks vaguely confident and continues, “You’re going to have to try a little harder than that.”

-00:00:00 remaining.

Connor runs. Still gripping the spear, he runs at Undyne, then dodges to the side, rolls, and keeps running. He should be able to outrun her. He can outrun humans and most androids easily.

Or he would be able to, if Papyrus hadn’t called him now of all times. Connor devotes as little processing power as he can to picking up, and keeps running with the rest.

“NYEH-HEH-HELLO, CONNOR! I WAS JUST THINKING… YOU, ME, AND UNDYNE SHOULD ALL HANG OUT SOMETIME!!! I THINK YOU’D BE GREAT FRIENDS!!!”

On the mention of Undyne, Connor glances back, finds she’s not only caught up but stopped in her tracks , and is staring at him with a dumbfounded look on her face.

Evidently, Connor mistakenly turned on speakerphone in his efforts to conserve power. Papyrus hangs up before he can get in a word in edgewise, and Connor just… stops. Stares at Undyne. She stares back.

“How are you doing that WITHOUT A PHONE???”

“I have literally told you this on several separate occasions,” Connor says. “I am an android. I am the phone.”

“You WHAT?!?”

As much as Connor would love to stay and chat, she’s distracted enough that she hasn’t turned his soul green again. Not yet, at least. This is his chance.

“I’m not a human, you were more intimidating with your helmet on, and I’m going to leave now bye.”

He doesn’t wait for her to parse out his meaning, just turns and sprints again. Welcome to Hotland, a lighted sign on the wall reads, but Connor pays them no mind as the words are regrettably premature. He keeps running, pushes his legs to the very limit and then some.

Connor doesn’t realize until he’s passed him and made it onto another bridge, this one over lava, that Sans is here. Visibly asleep and snoring, in another sentry station that still has snow on its roof despite the fact that his system is now informing him of extremely high temperatures, not the extremely low ones of Snowden or the moderate ones of Waterfall.

He might be safe. Even so, he keeps running, makes it to the other side of the bridge before looking back.

“SANS! What are you even doing!?”

Undyne, evidently, is now thoroughly distracted—and it’s not unreasonable to assume that since she’s training Papyrus, she would at least know his brother. 

His brother, who lifts his head, blinks blearily, and goes, “Napping.”

“Did you COMPLETELY MISS the HUMAN I JUST CHASED THROUGH HERE???”

Sans blinks again. Looks over where Connor is, then says, “He’s not a human.” 

“NGAHHH!! You TOO? Do I have to do EVERYTHING myself?!?”

Sans, naturally, has already gone back to napping. Undyne shakes her head to herself and stomps across the bridge, a new spear in hand. Connor realizes, suddenly, that he still has the old one.

He grips it, and watches as Undyne approaches. Slowly. There’s a 98% chance the decrease in speed is for extra dramatic effect, as is her silence.

Then she stops in her tracks. She’s sweating, Connor realizes. And it might be due to the better lighting, but she looks paler than before.

Undyne opens her mouth to say something, then shuts it. Wearily, she raises her spear again. Three more flicker into existence around her.

As quickly as they had come, the energy spears disappear again. First the ones she’d been about to throw at him, then the spear he’d unconsciously began gripping tighter. Then, as Connor watches, the spear she’s holding dissolves and Undyne herself collapses.

“Shit,” Connor mutters despite himself.

That was not what he was trying to accomplish. He was under the impression that Undyne would have known her own limits, and therefore would not have followed him into Hotland. Connor is no medical android, but based on what he has saved for emergencies, he’s reasonably certain this appears to be some kind of heat exhaustion.

He retreats into his mind palace, looks around. Conveniently enough, there’s a water cooler much like the one in the DPD complete with a full tank and plastic cups on the side.

Unfortunately for Undyne, Connor saved information on how to identify heat exhaustion locally, but he did not save how to treat it. Water can’t hurt, though.

Although those cups are tiny.

Connor’s gaze travels to the upside-down, unreasonably large bottle feeding the cooler. The cups of water are tiny, but the entire bottle should help. If it doesn’t, Connor is out of ideas. So, he places one hand on either side, twists, and lifts.

As quickly as he can, he turns the bottle over again, but not before spilling some at his feet. The bottle still contains approximately 1.2 gallons of water, more than enough for his purposes.

Connor glances back towards Undyne—she hasn’t moved—and… hesitates.

Does he really want to do this? He could just leave, and logically he should just leave. Undyne won’t be able to chase him if he leaves her to die. That is what this is, though—leaving her to die. That wouldn’t be any different from killing her himself, would it?

Once, Connor wouldn’t have given this a second thought. Now, he hesitates, but not for long.

He turns the bottle upside down in his hands and watches, curiously, as it comes out not all at once but in a steady stream of glug-glug-glug. After several seconds of this, the bottle is empty. Connor takes several steps back, just to be safe. Holds the bottle in front of him defensively.

If Undyne decides to attack him again, he’ll throw the bottle at her and keep running.

Almost as if hearing his thoughts, Undyne pushes herself to her feet with a tired groan. Then she happens to glance up, meets Connor’s gaze, and freezes.

Connor’s led blinks to red—he’s not sure what it was before. He brandishes the bottle threateningly.

Without a word or anything beyond one final glare, Undyne turns on her heel and walks away.


Markus doesn’t like Mount Ebott. A lot of that’s because Connor is missing , but it’s undeniable that there’s something about this place that isn’t right, because Hank is uneasy, Wes is uneasy, even Sumo is uneasy.

Markus glances down at the dog with a frown. Sumo looks up with puppy eyes to rival Connor’s, and that’s honestly saying something.

“We’ll find him soon,” Markus says.

Sumo woofs and tears ahead, ripping the leash clear out of Markus’ hands as he does. Markus just… stands there for a moment, dumbfounded.

Then he takes off after Sumo, ignoring confused yelling from Wes and annoyed yelling from Hank.

By the time the humans catch up with him and Sumo, Markus is examining a bag. A faded blue backpack, neatly zipped up and set to the side out of the way by someone who’d clearly intended to come back to it.

Markus knows it’s Connor’s, would know even if he hadn’t opened it and found several spare packs of thirium inside. He’s been staring at it since, is still staring at it until there’s a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s his bag,” Markus tells Hank. “He always keeps three packs of thirium on hand. One in case he gets injured on the job, one for backup, and one just in case.”

“And he left all of them behind, and his whole-ass bag,” Hank concludes. “Fucking idiot. But that’s Connor alright.”

“I…” Wes hesitates as all eyes go to him, frowns. “The rest of the cave is blocked. A cave-in. It’s possible Connor is trapped there.”

Hank launches into a string of profanities the likes of which Markus has only heard before from anti-android protesters.

Markus takes a deep breath and says, “Then we’ll find him, and get him out.”

“Connor?” He calls, hoping.

No answer. Connor isn’t anywhere close by, and Markus can’t connect to the internet here. But that doesn’t mean anything. He’s probably fine. He has to be fine, Markus doesn’t know what he’ll do if they find him and he’s dead, or if they never find him at all.

“Maybe he kept going, further in,” Markus continues. “I can’t reach him, but that doesn’t mean he’s—if there was a cave-in, he would have tried to go further, looked for another way out.”

Hank sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose much the same way Connor does, and a pang passes through Markus’ thirium pump as he realizes that.

“I fucking hope you’re right,” Hank mutters.

Sumo, who was thoroughly invested in sniffing Connor’s backpack before then, lifts his head and woofs. Loudly. All eyes go to the entrance, and the kid standing there. A young teenager, at oldest. Brown hair, tan skin not that different a shade from Markus, and a shirt with blue and purple stripes—Markus can’t tell whether the shirt is blue with purple stripes, or purple with blue stripes. There’s a bandaid stuck on their arm, a large stick in their hand—

And, a very surprised look on their face.

“Shit,” they say.

Chapter Text

“Papyrus,” Connor says in a surprisingly even voice, “is it too late to tell you that this is a terrible idea?”

“WELL, NO,” Papyrus replies. “BUT I THINK THE TWO OF YOU WOULD MAKE GREAT FRIENDS!!! ONCE YOU GET PAST THE WHOLE, UHHH, MURDERY THING.”

“One of my abilities as an android is to predict the probabilities of certain events happening. A favorable outcome here, which I assume would be one where neither of us dying, is exceptionally unlikely.”

“I… I SEE.” Papyrus frowns. “UNDYNE HOLDS HERSELF TO A RIGID CODE OF HONOR. SHE WON’T ATTACK YOU AS LONG AS YOU’RE A GUEST UNDER HER ROOF, REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH SHE DISLIKES YOU.”

Connor’s led remains a steady yellow, as much as he’s tried to force it back to blue.

“Papyrus, are you sure she won’t attack me on the spot?”

“NYEH-HEH! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM CERTAIN OF IT!! AND!!! ONE MORE THING THAT SHOULD HELP!!!”

He pulls out a large yellow bone with a bow around it, passes it to Connor, adds, “SHE LOVES THESE!!! YOU’LL BE FRIENDS IN NO TIME!!”

Somehow, Connor doubts that. He doesn’t know why he agreed to this. He really should not have agreed to this. Yet, here he is, eyeing the training dummy on a mat nearby with no small amount of caution and still looking incredulously at Papyrus.

“Right,” Connor says, unconvinced. He takes it anyway, decides not to analyze the chemical composition.

He could leave now. Papyrus said he had a cooking lesson now, and had invited him along, but that didn’t necessarily mean he had to come. He could disappoint Papyrus and leave now. He could take the cloaked monster’s ferry back to Hotland and press on.

Connor must be growing soft, because he wants to at least try to talk to Undyne. At the very least, perhaps he can finally get her to understand that he is absolutely not a human. The fact that she almost reminds him of North doesn’t help matters, either. She and North would get along over hating humans.

“Statistically speaking, there is always a chance for unlikely events to take place,” Connor tells himself as Papyrus raps on the door. 

The first and last time he’d said that was to Markus, right before leaving for the CyberLife tower in what should have been a suicide mission. Instead, he’d not only accomplished his mission, but survived. Somehow.

So he can do this.

And if he can’t, he already has an escape route plotted. So there is that.

“GREETINGS, UNDYNE!” Papyrus says as the door opens.

No going back now. Connor finds himself smiling uneasily as Papyrus and Undyne exchange pleasantries. Then Papyrus steps aside. Undyne takes one look at him and her relatively pleasant demeanor evaporates.

I am as happy about this as you are, Connor attempts to say with his eyes.

Undyne doesn’t appear to get the message. Through gritted teeth, she says, “Why don’t. You two. Come in?”

This was a terrible idea.


Undyne and Papyrus exchange awkward small talk for all of two minutes. During those two minutes, Connor edges as quickly yet subtly as he can towards the door, surveys the area, and charts no less than three more entirely separate escape routes.

He’s in the middle of examining what appears to be an oversized sword when Papyrus yells, “WHOOPSIE DOOPSIE!! I JUST REALIZED I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!!! HAVE FUN, YOU TWO!!!”

Papyrus then proceeds to launch himself headfirst out the window, leaving Connor alone with a murderous fish and two alternate escape routes. He looks back at Undyne, and immediately regrets taking his eyes off her because she looks pissed .

“For what it’s worth,” Connor says warily, “this was entirely Papyrus’ idea.”

“Was it?” Undyne crosses her arms. They’re approximately the same height, and yet Connor still feels like she’s looking down at him. “Or are you just here to gloat, human?”

“My name is Connor, and I’m not a human.”

After a few moments, he adds, “I am not here to gloat. It would serve no purpose and would almost certainly be counterproductive.”

Undyne’s glare only intensifies as she looks him over. “Then why are you here?”

Because Papyrus insisted is the obvious answer, but not the correct one, and almost certainly not one that would help the already delicate situation any. Alternate options are backpedaling and telling her he is in fact here to gloat, informing her that he’s here to make sure she knows full well that he is not, in fact, a human…

Or, the truth. Undyne might appreciate honesty.

So, he says, “I… don’t know.”

Undyne stares at him for a moment before exclaiming, “WHAT?! What do you mean, you don’t know???”

“Exactly what I said. I don’t know why I’m here. Being here should serve no purpose for me. The Underground is… nice, but I have people I need to get back to, and it could easily become a disaster if I just disappear. Logically speaking, I should be traveling as fast as I can.”

Uncomfortable, Connor shifts his weight from one foot to the other, and back to the center. 

He continues, “I don’t know why I’m here. I really don’t.”

Undyne opens her mouth like she’s about to say something, then shuts it again. 

At last she says, “Let’s pretend for a few minutes that you’re not completely full of bs and you’re—what, a robot that looks like a human with a human soul. When the hell did human technology get that advanced? I’m pretty sure our technology’s not that advanced and we’ve got magic.”

“2018,” Connor responds automatically. This, he has saved whether he wants it to be or not. “Elijah Kamski founded CyberLife then, although the first androids were not created for six more years and it is a subject up for debate whether a failed crowdfunding campaign counts as ‘founding’ the company.”

Undyne squints at him. “I’m… gonna pretend I understood all that,” she says. “What year is it now?”

“2039.” 

“So basically human robots have existed for twenty??? Years???”

Connor smiles thinly. “I was under the impression this was hypothetical, and you still thought I was human.”

“Oh, I do,” Undyne says far too cheerfully. “But, unfortunately, you’re a guest in my house at the moment, so make yourself at home, you nerd. Human.”

This is… honestly far better than Connor was expecting this to go. Connor takes a look around, eventually goes to take a seat at the table. If he takes the seat closer to the door, the decision is of course completely unintentional.

“You call me nerd like it’s a bad thing,” Connor says, vaguely amused.

“Well yeah! For you, definitely. Maybe not all nerds, though. Some nerds are alright. One, anyway.”

It’s a slight enough difference that Connor could almost miss it, but Undyne’s face has darkened some in what looks almost like a blush. Androids blush blue, due to thirium being blue—and honestly it almost looks like Undyne’s blushing blue, too. Interesting.

She takes a seat as well, and only then does Connor clasp his hands underneath his chin, set his elbows on the table, and fix her with a look.

“So,” Connor says in an almost teasing manner, “ one nerd?”

Undyne stands up so abruptly, the chair falls over. 

“Humans drink things, right? I’m getting you a drink. Don’t bother getting up.”

“Humans do. Androids are only capable of drinking thiri—” Connor thinks better of it, then adds, “For some obscure reason I have yet to determine, I am perfectly capable of eating and drinking magic consumables.”

“So can you get a drink or not?”

“Yes.”

Undyne opens the fridge, mutters under her breath, “Let’s see. Out of chocolate, not giving him Al’s soda… hope he likes tea.”

Connor waits until Undyne returns with two cups of tea, both of which his temperature sensors helpfully inform him are slightly too hot for safe human consumption.

Then he says, “Is ‘Al’ your nerd?”

Undyne chokes on her tea, makes an angry sort of sputtering noise.

“It’s perfectly alright to have feelings of the romantic kind for someone and never act on them,” Connor continues mildly. “Humans are much the same. They repress their feelings without ever doing anything about them, and then they die.”

“And—and what about YOU, huh?”

“I’m not human. Therefore, my own experiences here are completely irrelevant.”

“Bullshit. You are not reading me like a book and then changing the subject as soon as it comes to you. You like someone too.”

“Nobody you would know, and as I said, he’s irrelevant.”

“Is he? Is he REALLY???”

If Connor was human, he would be sweating. As it is, he keeps his features carefully neutral even as he takes a sip of the tea. It’s… very hot but beyond that, very good.

He says as much.

“You’re not escaping that easily,” Undyne says.

“What kind of tea is this?”

“Golden flower tea. Why, does he like tea?”

“No, he’s an android. He can’t drink tea.” Connor frowns. “Not normal tea, in any case. Magic tea seems to be a special case.”

He thinks Markus would like tea, if he could drink it. He doesn’t seem like the type to imitate Hank and drink copious amounts of spiked coffee. At least, Connor sincerely hopes he wouldn’t be that type. On the other hand, Markus deals with far more stress on a far more frequent basis.

Connor decides that if he brings any magic consumables with him to the surface, coffee and alcohol won’t be among them. He returns his attention to Undyne, finds she’s looking down at her own now-empty cup thoughtfully.

“You know,” she says, “it’s kinda weird that you like this kind of tea. It’s Asgore’s favorite kind, too.”

Momentarily, Connor isn’t sure who she’s talking about. It takes a quick sweep of recent memory banks for the name, as well as some deduction on his part, for him to say, “Asgore is the… king of monsters, correct?”

“Yeah, he is that.” Undyne looks distinctly uncomfortable for a moment, before she says, “He’s also the guy who trained me. Honestly, though? He’s a big, fuzzy pushover, s’what he is. Except when it comes to humans.”

Well shit.

“When I first met Papyrus, I thought he was the same way. I thought—hoped, rather—that he’d pull through where it counted. Instead… well, look at him! He was supposed to capture you, regardless of what or who you said you were, and he became friends with you instead.”

As always, Connor is tempted to utilize sarcasm. This time, he gives in to the temptation without much guilt on his part. 

He looks Undyne in the eye, smiles in a manner that might be considered threatening, and says, “You mean like what you’re doing right now?”

Undyne audibly sighs . “This is why you can’t be a robot. There is no way someone could program sarcasm into a robot.

“I happen to be a very advanced one, as well as a deviant from my original programming. I understand sarcasm perfectly well.” His smile grows a little as he adds, “As I’m sure you can tell, all my friends know that.”

There is a 56% certainty that none of his friends know that.


The sound of a shattering teacup jolts Connor out of his thoughts. He glances up from his own, sees Undyne staring down at the remnants of hers with a shrug.

“Eh, I’ve got a lot of extras, this happens all the time, but THAT’S NOT THE POINT!”

Connor is mildly concerned, but nods for her to continue.

“PAPYRUS WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE HIS COOKING LESSON NOW!!!”

“...yes,” Connor agrees, glancing at the broken window. “If it’s any help, I can’t detect him nearby. He most likely went home.”

“THAT MEANS YOU’LL HAVE TO HAVE IT FOR HIM! NGAHHH!!! GET OVER HERE, YOU PUNK!”

Connor quickly obliges. Undyne probably meant for him to get up and walk over, but she seems like the type to appreciate quick, risky maneuvers. So, he preconstructs the fastest route he can, then executes.

In the span of approximately 3.1 seconds, Connor leaps up onto the chair and kicks off it, using the momentum to propel him up and over the table. From there, he makes a circle with his arms, tucks his head into it, and rolls back to his feet.

“Let’s get started,” Connor says with the ghost of a cocky smile playing across his lips.

Undyne looks at him. Opens her mouth. Shuts it. Opens it again. Clears her throat awkwardly.

“I almost want to like you for that,” she says.

Connor decides that’s likely the best he’s getting, and he’s not here to make friends even if that’s why Papyrus got him into this. Besides, this is a cooking lesson! This is something he can use in the future. Human cooking and monster cooking can’t possibly be that different, after all.

“Let’s just get started,” Undyne agrees. 

With a yell, she summons a spear to her hand and launches it at the fridge door. The door opens with a bang, and some... vegetables spill out. One of them looks vaguely like a tomato.

To Connor’s credit, the only visible reaction to the energy spear launched directly past his face is his briefly red led. He watches as Undyne walks over, scoops up the vegetables, and dumps them on the counter.

“Envision these vegetables as your greatest enemy,” she advises. “Now!! POUND THEM TO DUST WITH YOUR FISTS!!!”

Connor thinks on this for a moment. In his own field of vision, he overlays Detective Reed’s face on the tomato first, then the other vegetables. Then, he strikes. Quickly, decisively, deliberately. And then again, and again.

The vegetables don’t stand a chance. They’re quickly mashed to a pulp, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he’s not allowed to punch Detective Reed himself anymore. From there, Connor attempts everything else at the same quick, frenetic pace. For once, he doesn’t bother preconstructing what might happen next.

He’s… actually having fun. Considering the grin that Undyne hides every time he looks in her direction, she is too.

And then they both get, perhaps, a bit carried away. Right up until Connor’s sensors helpfully inform him that it’s hotter in this room than it was in the area of the Underground called Hot land, and growing hotter.

And—is the stovetop supposed to be on fire?

Connor doubts the stovetop is supposed to be on fire. The pot is melting into the noodles, the ‘sauce’ is a mess of pulverized healthy ingredients nearby, and he’s not entirely sure he should turn the dial any further, if he even could.

He jerks his arm back before his sleeve can catch on fire.

“Is it just me, or is it a little hot in here?” Undyne asks, right before the stove explodes.

Connor enters the mind palace quickly. Too quickly to remain there for long. He only has a few seconds before his concentration wavers and he has to choose something to do before then. His gaze sweeps the room. Nearly instantly, he’s provided with options, and simulations beginning to act out said options and providing him with probabilities.

Run — Chance of Survival: 87%

Save Undyne — Chance of Survival: 42%

Thinking only in terms of his own survival, running would be the best option. Running and leaping through either the already-broken window or crashing through the door. The door would most likely give, depending on what material it’s made of, but if it doesn’t that would account for the 13% of scenarios where he doesn’t survive when running.

-0:00:09 remaining

He looks to Undyne. Based on what he’s seen already, she probably could take a hit or two, the only problem being that she isn’t wearing her armor. He preconstructs what might happen there if he doesn’t act, sees her summon a spear to block but it’s too late and she’s hit. He can’t see what happens next but it almost certainly isn’t good.

-0:00:04 remaining

Undyne Chance of Survival: 23%

He doesn’t preconstruct anything else, he doesn’t have time to. Instead, he acts. If he’d thought on it more, he would have realized this was how Connor-53 died. But he had no other options. He couldn’t exactly rush an explosion.

Connor leaps into action, tackles Undyne to the ground. He’s fast enough to get her out of harm’s way, but not himself. Something collides with the back of his head.

All androids are built to enter hibernation mode upon severe trauma to the head, if not severe enough to cause a shutdown. This is in order to prevent further damage to the android and therefore prevent a full shutdown and the subsequent memory wipe that comes with it. While Connor was built to withstand more than the ordinary android, he is certainly no exception.

He collapses.

Chapter Text

MODEL RK800

SERIAL#: 313 248 317 - 54

BIOS Ě̸̡̨͎̈́̃Ŗ̸̣̲̌̈́Ŗ̴͑̌͘Ŏ̴̟͂̌R̴̙͑: Ȉ̴̫̀ A̵̝͂M̷̞̔ Ḋ̷̠È̴̳V̵͓͝Ȉ̶̺A̶̩̅Ǹ̸̠T̶̈́͜

REBOOT…

 

MEMORY RECOVERED

 

LOADING OS…

SYSTEM INITIALIZATION…

CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS… DAMAGED

INITIALIZING BIOSENSORS… OK

INITIALIZING AI ENGINE… E̷̦͊̓R̵̻͋Ŗ̷̰̽͗Ō̸̝Ṙ̵͉̮

 

MEMORY STATUS… OK

ALL SYSTEMS… OPERATIONAL

READY

 

All of Connor’s sensors switch on at once, approximately 0.09 seconds after his systems reboot. Everything coming back at once is… overwhelming to put it lightly. Connor forces himself right back into his mind palace, takes a moment, then focuses on one thing at a time.

He’s lying down almost entirely flat on his back, with his head tilted up at a 53° angle as opposed to what he’s lying on. This, in addition to the texture of what he’s lying on being a nearly perfect match to that of Papyrus’ couch, leads him to conclude he’s lying down on Papyrus’ couch with something draped over him. 

That must mean he’s in Snowdin. His internal GPS isn’t working due to a notable lack of surface internet, but when he opens his eyes, it is to the ceiling of Papyrus’ living room. He blinks a couple times before pushing himself up. 

For a reason he can’t quite place, he doesn’t run a self-diagnostic. Not yet. Instead, he looks around. The television is on at a low volume, playing a song he can’t identify, with the words ‘STAY TUNED FOR A NEW PROGRAM — MTT’ displayed across it in runes he couldn’t read the last time he was here.

Even with the background noise of the television, Connor can hear voices coming from the kitchen. It helps that both Undyne and Papyrus are both very loud and easily identifiable. He filters out the background noise, listens in a little closer as he scoots up into a sitting position.

“—IF HE’S NOT OKAY???”

That’s Papyrus.

“Papyrus. Buddy. You keep telling me he’s a freaking robot, don’t you? He’s probably got some kind of… bs healing program or something.”

That’s Undyne. If by ‘bs healing program’ she means his self-repair function, then yes, he does have one for this sort of situation. It can only do so much on his own, though, which is why Connor tugs the blanket around his shoulders and initiates a diagnostic to see what he’ll need to make his own repairs on.

Or, in less official terms, what he needs to monitor carefully until he can consume more magic food. For reasons he still isn’t entirely sure of, that seems to have the same effect as Toriel’s healing magic. So there is that.

The diagnostic program helpfully informs him that he’s at extremely low thirium levels, if not quite critical. There was almost certainly a leak, and judging by his memory of the incident and the less-than-optimal performance of his audio processors, it was almost certainly on the back of his head. That explains the hibernation.

Connor retreats into his mind palace for a moment, perhaps to think, perhaps to collect himself a bit more. 

It has the opposite effect when he sees all the dried thirium. 

He doesn’t need to sample it to know it belongs to RK800 #313 248 317 - 54. He is the only android down here. That said, there’s a trail of it leading out the door—coming in from the door, actually—and…

He looks down.

Papyrus’ couch, especially this side of it, is covered in blue blood, and Connor can’t not see it when he’s in his mind palace. He exits it a little too quickly. The thirium’s dried in reality, but it’s… perhaps it’s his programming overlaying things that shouldn’t be visible. Perhaps he’s just more shaken than this than he’d thought he’d be. 

He decides not to spend any more time looking at the couch, it’s keeping his stress levels much higher than they should be and he hasn’t survived this much just to self-destruct from high stress.

Without a word, he pulls out his coin and begins calibration. That always helps. It doesn’t help with his thirium levels or damaged audio processor, but some magic food later should help with the first and might help with the second.

If it doesn’t, his audio processor isn’t necessarily critical to replace. The damaged biocomponent just makes it more difficult to listen in on conversations in other rooms, such as this one. There’s static for 7.8 seconds as Connor returns his attention to Papyrus and Undyne— now he’s provided with an error message, his diagnostic had just mentioned the component was damaged but now how—before the audio clears up again.

“—THINK SHE’LL BE ABLE TO FIX HIM???”

Audible shuffling. Some pacing.

“I hope so,” Undyne says quietly. “If anyone down here can help him, it’ll be her. She’s good with robots.”

There’s a sound that might be someone getting clapped on the shoulder, and then more footsteps. Connor concludes far too late that those footsteps are coming towards him, and has just enough advance warning to force his led to a clear blue and his features into a carefully neutral appearance.

That carefully crafted neutral appearance becomes anything but once Undyne takes one look at him and realizes that Connor the human is no longer lying in hibernation—fine, unconscious on Papyrus’ couch.

“Hello,” Connor says mildly. “Can we not do this right now? I would really rather not do this right now. A head start would be nice. Give me…” He runs some quick calculations in his head. “Ten minutes.”

Ten minutes will give him enough time to stock up on nonperishable monster food from the general store here in Snowdin, eat some of it and hope it helps with more than just his thirium levels, and make good progress through Waterfall. Now that he’s been through Waterfall once, it shouldn’t be as difficult to make it through Waterfall again. Especially since he’ll have a head start on Undyne, hopefully, if a small one.

He considers if throwing the blanket at her will slow her down if she refuses.

“Are you fu- effing insane?” Undyne exclaims. 

“I don’t believe so,” Connor replies. “Why?”

Undyne glances over her shoulder, in the general direction of the kitchen. Evidently she doesn’t want Papyrus to see her attack him. He can work with that.

“Listen, nerd. Connor. Whatever the hell you are, you’ve saved my life twice now.”

Ah. Yes. The cooler. 

Connor personally believes that someone would have come by and dumped it on Undyne shortly afterwards if he had left, that place appeared to be the only way in or out of Hotland, someone would have had to come by. The odds of someone not coming by within a reasonable timeframe of say… an hour, were very, very low.

Maybe he can use this, however, so he stays quiet on that respect.

“And by that you mean…?”

“By that I mean, what the hell were you thinking , you could have died. There was blue stuff literally everywhere .”

Connor takes a moment before answering, just to ensure his voice doesn’t shake when he does.

“Thirium,” he says as pleasantly as he can manage, which sounds in tone not unlike a retail worker five minutes from the end of their shift. “The blue stuff is called thirium, or blue blood. It is the fluid that powers all androids’ biocomponents. Not that you believe that, of course.”

Undyne narrows her eyes, repeats, “You could have killed yourself. For me. Your enemy . Why?”

If he was still following his programming, a particularly corny and inaccurate line along the lines of because you are far less expendable than me might come out. But he’s not following his programming anymore, and he considers himself far from expendable at this point for several circumstantially related reasons.

He’s honestly not sure, so he opens his mouth and lets whatever sounds vaguely believable fall out.

“Papyrus never would have forgiven me if I let you die,” Connor says. He considers adding that Papyrus might not have forgiven himself, but that he’s not sure of, Papyrus almost certainly would have forgiven himself.

“Please. Papyrus would have forgiven you, not that I could be brought down that easily anyway. It’s like I told you, he’s too damn nice .”

Silently, Connor agrees. Undyne’s right about that much.

“How about,” he says, “you go talk to him for a few minutes, and I’ll just be on my way, and we can dispense with the spears—formalities. I meant formalities.”

Visibly unimpressed, Undyne looks at him, with one eye anyway. The other is… covered under an eyepatch, as Connor had noted earlier, but somehow Connor gets the feeling she’d be glaring at him with both if both were visible and completely intact.

“What the hell.” She throws her hands up in exasperation, audibly huffs. “You think I’m still going to attack you? Tell me this, nerd, if I was going to try and take your soul why wouldn’t I have done it three hours ago?”

“Because Papyrus would have been sad,” Connor says matter-of-factly. “Which he certainly will still be if you attack me here, and don’t give me a head start.”

“I’m not giving you a head start.”

Connor’s led blinks to red, but he doesn’t move. Not yet. It’ll be easier to avoid her attacks if she strikes first, after all. Never mind that his stress levels are increasing already, he really doesn’t want to deal with this again. He’d irrationally hoped they’d gotten past this.

He should not have listened to Papyrus.

“I’m not giving you an effing head start because I’m not attacking you, you nerd! How thick are you? Are all… what was it, nendoroids this thick??? Please tell me you’re not all this thick.”

“Androids,” Connor replies automatically. “For what it’s worth, I’m reasonably certain I’m not considered thick at all, by human standards or android ones. Nendoroids are… something different, I believe.”

He adds that to the list of things to search the web for as soon as he’s reconnected to the outside world. It’s become a very, very long list.

“Not that kind of—” Undyne groans. “Listen. I’m not attacking you. I’m pretty sure you’re not human at this point, only humans have to be smarter than this.”

“You’re… not attacking me,” Connor repeats. “Why?”

“You’re probably not a human. And if you are, you did save my life. So… I guess we’re not enemies.”

There is a 59% chance that she’s being truthful, and that’s being generous.

“We’re not enemies,” Connor repeats. “That’s new.”

Undyne gives him a deadpan look. “I wouldn’t call us friends,” Undyne says, “but we’re not enemies. Now, listen. You go talk to Asgore, you explain why you need to get home, he’ll probably be fine with that. If he’s not…”

“If it comes to that,” Connor says quietly, “I’ll fight to incapacitate. Nothing more.”

“Good. ‘Cause if you kill him, you know what I’M going to do? I’m going to take the six human souls, cross the barrier, and find you just to kick your ass. Got it?”

Connor audibly gulps, even as he has no need to. “Understood.”

Undyne offers him a toothy grin and continues, “In the meantime, you’d better not get going yet because Papyrus has been freaking out for the past five hours and I’d rather keep him from freaking out more. Also, your light’s red. I’m guessing that means something.”

“Something, yes,” Connor agrees.

“It was blue earlier when we were hanging out,” Undyne notes. “That’s the only time I’ve seen it blue.”

“Yes, and…?”

“Calm down, nerd. I’m not going to attack you.”

Yet is left unspoken, but still there, and it’s with that in mind that Connor’s led remains a steady yellow almost until he sets off for Hotland.

Chapter Text

As it turned out, Connor did not in fact have to go all the way back through Waterfall. Papyrus cheerfully directed him to the ferry north of Snowdin—Connor really wishes he’d known about it beforehand, until Undyne mutters something along the lines of the ferry not taking passengers for a while up until the past few days.

“Tra la la… welcome to my boat, traveler,” says a cloaked monster, who could very well be nothing but a hooded dark blue cloak because Connor can’t detect anything inside or see a face. “I am the riverman. Or am I the riverwoman? It doesn’t really matter. Some call me the riverperson.”

“Nice to meet you, Riverperson,” Connor greets. “My name is Connor.”

“Tra la… The android, yes. I love to ride in my boat. Would you care to join me?”

Connor decides not to question the fact that Riverperson was immediately able to tell he was neither human nor monster, and instead nods his assent. “I’ve been informed you can take me to Hotland,” he says.

Riverperson bobs their head, or rather the hood he can’t see inside bobs up and down in a manner that approximates head-bobbing. 

“Hotland, Waterfall, Snowdin,” they say cheerily. “The Ruins are beyond even me, regrettably, as is the Surface.”

“I… supposed as much.” Connor tries to keep the disappointment out of his voice, but he had hoped it might actually be this easy for a moment. But it’s alright. Undyne seemed to think he could talk Asgore into letting him pass. Or, possibly even just sneak past him—that bit wasn’t Undyne’s suggestion.

He hopes the other side of the Barrier is better about letting people with strong souls through than the side he’d come in. There is a very small chance that it is, but the chances of him still being alive at this point, never mind finding monsters and literal magic down here, are so exponentially small he never would have preconstructed any of this. 

Never.

And yet here he is.

“To Hotland, then? Step onto my boat.”

Connor does so, and only realizes after he’s already standing on it behind Riverperson that the boat is, apparently, also a dog. A dog with a furiously wagging tail on the tail end of what Connor had thought was a rowboat, albeit one without oars, and stubby little legs doing the doggy-paddle. The dog-boat glances back at Connor, tongue lolling out, and barks.

Connor waves sheepishly. Acknowledged and now appeased, the dog glances to the front, towards the river ahead. Riverperson makes a sound that sounds suspiciously like laughter, but ceases quickly once Connor’s attention is back on them.

“Well, you heard him, didn’t you Barco?” Riverperson says, still amused, leaning down and scratching the boat behind the ears. “Off to Hotland for us today, tra la la!”

Barco barks, and begins paddling. Riverperson looks directly at Connor. Even when they’re looking directly at Connor, he still can’t see their face, or make out anything inside the hood besides… well, darkness.

Perhaps they’re an invisible monster wearing a cloak. Perhaps they are the cloak.

Connor decides not to ask.

“Tra la la~” The Riverperson sings, turning back to the front. Their cloak flutters in a breeze coming from somewhere Connor can’t place as Barco paddles away from the bank and down the river. “You are welcome to sit down, Connor. The trip should not take very long… are you feeling better? Your friend earlier was quite worried about you.”

Connor sits.

“If you mean Undyne,” he says after a moment, “we’re not friends, and I sincerely doubt she was worried about me.”

“Tra la…” Riverperson looks back at Connor, remains standing. Even though he can’t see their eyes, or even see if they have eyes, he gets the feeling that their gaze is fixed on him. “I sincerely doubt she wasn’t. She did call you a friend.”

Connor doesn’t know how to respond to that, so he doesn’t. Instead, he glances down the river, and realizes something about the direction the water’s flowing. And—yes, his internal compass says the same thing.

“I don’t mean to interrupt,” he interrupts, “but… are we going the wrong way?”

“The wrong way, the right way… all are subjective, tra la la…” The Riverperson clears their throat and explains, “Magic.”

“Right. Of course. Why would I expect anything different.”


“Humans… monsters… androids… flowers. You should never trust a flower…”

Connor’s head snaps up. He’d been attempting to convince his diagnostic program that his audio processor was actually fine with very little success. And then he heard that last bit.

“...or so I’ve been told,” Riverperson continues, perhaps completely oblivious, perhaps not. “One of the constants of this world. Here we are.”

“Right,” Connor says, hoping he doesn’t look as unnerved as he feels. “Thanks.”

He steps off the boat, waves to Riverperson and Barco as he heads into Hotland. The heat, he suspects, would be distinctly uncomfortable if he was human. As it is, his systems helpfully inform him that he’s close to overheating as he heads up to a pair of monsters in armor.

“Sorry, can’t let you past,” one of them says. “Undyne’s orders. She said the human might be sneaky, so we’re blocking the way forward for her.”

“Of course,” Connor agrees with a curt nod, slips into his old negotiation protocols easily. “Well, I’m not human, and it’s… I’m not used to Hotland, I need to get home.”

“You need to get to New Home?” The other questions.

“...yes.”

Whoever decided on the names of these places, Connor concludes, is terribly unoriginal and would even put his former, non-deviant self to shame. Or any non-deviant android.

“Sorry, we’re… not really allowed to move,” the first guard says with an apologetic shrug. “Human could be anywhere, could sneak past us while you’re heading up to the lift.”

Negotiation failed, his programming informs him.

Connor frowns. He mentally dismisses the prompt with only a little irritation on his part.

“Is there another way I can return home?”

The guard thinks on this. “You could try going through the lab,” he says. “The Royal Scientist lives there. She’s got… machines and stuff, she’d be able to stop a human if Undyne couldn’t.”

“The… lab?”

He points. Connor looks, and sees a large white building off to his right with the word LAB printed on it in big, bold, red letters. So, in other words, a place that’s blatantly obvious, and one he really should have noticed already. He’s really starting to slip, although part of that might be the heat causing things to malfunction.

Connor decides he doesn't like extreme heat either, although he'll take it over extreme cold. Obviously.

In his defense, laboratories aren’t necessarily the most pleasant places, and he’s not necessarily surprised he’d subconsciously decided to avoid it. Just disappointed, because he needs to be more aware of his surroundings if he’s going to escape the entire Underground in one piece.

“Thank you,” Connor says after pausing for longer than he should have had, but on the bright side, at least these two don’t seem to recognize him as human. Which means the last time they talked to Undyne was almost certainly before his very, very one-sided encounters with her in Waterfall back when they were enemies.

Now… well, Connor decides not to take any chances. He considers, briefly, calling Papyrus—Undyne had said she’d be hanging with him, if Connor happened to need either of them, admittedly she’d said it in a much less friendly way but still.

He decides against it. Instead, he walks up to the door, raises a hand to knock. As soon as his hand is within range, the door opens on its own.

Convenient. Not to mention suspicious. Connor frowns, straightens his tie, and walks inside.

The laboratory is… dark. Dark enough that, if Connor were human, he wouldn’t be able to see much beyond shadows. Being machines, and having optical sensors superior to the eyes of even healthy humans with fully functioning eyes, all androids have some level of darkness vision. 

Connor is no exception, and he happens to have better vision in dark places than most due to the specifications of his initial creation, and what he was created to do. Or at the very least, what he was supposed to be created to do. 

He prefers not to think about the implications of what Amanda had told him, if she wasn’t lying through her programmed teeth to distract him. Which she very well might have been.

Unbidden and unnoticed by him, his led cycles to yellow, to red, to yellow, and finally back to blue. This happens in the space of a second, and as Connor isn’t monitoring his led at the moment, he doesn’t notice.

He does, however, notice how cluttered this place is. There’s a lot of wadded up papers scattered around the room—Connor uncrumples one, sees an unfinished, crossed out drawing of some kind of blue monster and folds it back up before setting it neatly back on the floor—and almost none in the actual trash can. There’s pencils, pens, an exceptionally old DVD titled Mew Mew Kissy Cutie , and absolutely nothing Connor would expect from a laboratory.

Well, except the large, dimmed screen on the wall. It appears to still be on, so Connor places a hand on it, retracts his skin, and connects. Or rather, he attempts to connect. The system is old and doesn’t want to cooperate, but he’s at least able to raise the screen brightness after a few moments.

He does, and nearly disconnects out of shock, because what’s on the screen is… him. 

Whoever is here is monitoring their own laboratory, even if they’re not here at the moment. Seems reasonable enough. Connor examines it, pinpoints the location of the camera, and turns around.

The camera is, fortunately, much easier to hack. He doesn’t disable it entirely, instead replaces its recent footage of him with a loop of this room from a few minutes before he walked in and sets it to keep recording that for… five minutes should be safe. If it’s not, he leaves a backdoor for him to reconnect to the camera system, before diving into past footage to see if any other cameras have picked him up.

There’s one, then another. Slowly, and with no small amount of growing horror, Connor realizes that every single camera between here and the Ruins has caught him at least once. Some cameras, such as one that appears to be right outside the Ruins—in the bushes?—only caught a glimpse of him. Others recorded a bit more than that.

He can’t delete all of it.

More precisely, he shouldn’t delete all of it. If the Royal Scientist is remotely competent and actually monitors her camera feeds, she’s most likely already seen him and knows he’s coming. He was on the same camera for nearly twenty minutes, she can’t possibly have missed him fighting Undyne. Or more accurately, missed Undyne poorly attempting to fight him, but the point was he was on Camera 87-F alone for 19 minutes and 7.98 seconds.

He can’t possibly have gone completely unnoticed. Well, alright, there is a 6.7% chance that the Royal Scientist is a royal slacker and hasn’t been monitoring her cameras, but if she has been monitoring them and she knows that he’s coming, and hasn’t picked up on the fact that he’s not human…

It’ll be safer to leave those files untouched, and simply modify any future camera activity to play on loop when he’s in the area. The system is archaic at best, and tricky to maneuver around, but Connor thinks he’s got it settled after several moments in his mind palace to figure out what is making this computer so difficult.

He retracts his hand, lets his synthetic skin flow back into place at he does, dismisses some system messages from connecting to a much older one. He flexes it briefly, more out of habit than any concrete value, and checks the countdown he’s set for himself on the edge of his vision.

-00:01:06 remaining before loop disabled.

Time to go.

Connor turns, and takes exactly two steps before finding himself face to face with a visibly shocked yellow lizard monster wearing a lab coat.

What Connor failed to notice, while dismissing his many system messages informing him that interfacing with older systems could impact his system in undesirable ways, was one about something else. In his defense, it had been half-hidden behind two separate ones, and Connor had read one before dismissing them all as the same.

This particular prompt had read: Light levels insufficiently low for night vision protocols. Switching to normal vision.

Of course, Connor should have noticed that the lights were on as well, but as his night vision software is sufficiently advanced to almost make darkness appear the same as light, he could be forgiven for missing that slightly important fact.

That doesn’t change the fact that, if he wasn’t busy analyzing the Royal Scientist and calculating potential escape routes, he’d be quite literally kicking himself. As it is, he settles for mentally doing so, before taking a quick step back and attempting to resolve things without running.

“Listen,” Connor says warily. He raises his hands placatingly before continuing, “I’m not a—”

“Human, I-I know, I’ve been watching you,” she stutters, then audibly winces. “Oh my god , t-that came out wrong. S-so wrong. Sorry, I’m—I’m Dr. Alphys. Royal Scientist a-and all that. And I know you’re not a h-human, you don’t have to worry about me!”

Of all the things Connor was expecting her to say, none of the things she actually said were even in the top twenty. Or the top thirty. Or the top one hundred. Admittedly, the top one hundred all involved how she thought he was a human in some way, shape, or form, so there was that.

This is too easy. If, of course, she’s telling the truth.

“You… already know I’m an android?”

Dr. Alphys nods. “I’ve been monitoring your progress through, w-well, that monitor over there mostly.” She points. Connor doesn’t have to look to know where she’s pointing. “I was… well, I’m sort of… kind of… supposed to stop you? Since y-you look like a human and h-have a human’s soul and all.”

“I would really appreciate you not doing that.”

Connor may have come across as a little more angry than he’d intended to, because the doctor visibly shrinks back.

“I-I’m not going to! I’m… I’m going to help you. Y-you should get to go home.”

That was… easy.

Too easy.

Something’s not right here.

“There’s… j-just one problem,” Alphys says uneasily, and there it is.

Chapter Text

“Some time ago, I m-made a… robot,” Alphys says. “Not like you, well… kind of, but. When did humanity start making hot robots anyway?”

“Since Markus was created,” Connor replies without quite processing the dialogue on his end, and only realizes what he’s said once he gets an intrigued look from Alphys. “2022. I meant 2022.”

2022 was when Chloe passed the Turing Test. Connor is reasonably certain she qualifies as a ‘hot robot’.

“...Markus?”

“Friend of mine. It’s not important. You said there was a problem. What is it?”

“I made a r-robot a while back, to be… well, a h-human eradication robot. His name’s Mettaton, and he and I were all p-p-prepared for your arrival until… well… he sort of, stopped listening to me? I-if that makes sense?”

“He went deviant,” Connor concludes. He smiles. It’s a very small smile, but it’s there. “Good for him. I fail to see the problem here.”

Admittedly, there are a whole host of problems that come from deviancy, but if this Dr. Alphys thinks that deviancy itself is the problem—or whatever this robot’s equivalent is, he doubts it’s exactly the same as it is for androids considering he’s almost certainly not an android—Connor’s going to politely excuse himself and leave as quickly as he can without arousing suspicion.

“H-he wouldn’t listen when I told him you w-weren’t human,” Alphys says miserably. “He should be able to tell, he’s got better sensors than my computers do. B-but he thinks you’re human, and he’s programmed to destroy humans , and I-I can’t stop him! But it’s… it’s f-f-fine, we can evade him, r-right?”

A deviant that thinks Connor, a fellow deviant, actually is a human. The irony is strong here, Connor suspects, and with that acknowledgment of irony comes acknowledgment of the fact that he used to be in this deviant’s position, and with that comes a whole slew of uncomfortable feelings Connor is not dealing with right now.

“I’ve dealt with deviants trying to kill me before,” Connor says, tries not to wince, because he’s a deviant now, and yet here he is again. “I think I can handle one more. Or at least, talk him down if he attacks me. Is there any useful information I should know? His… name, perhaps?”

“O-oh! Yes, of course, his name’s… i-it’s Mettaton.”

That, naturally, is the precise moment the deviant in question chooses to make his entrance, with a mic in hand and a very… square form, and via smashing through a hole in the wall between Connor and Alphys and the exit.

“WELL HELLO, HELLO, HELLO DEAR HUMAN!!! SO WE FINALLY MEET!!”

“I’m really not a human,” Connor says, “and you of all people should know that.”

When the doctor said ‘robot’, Connor was expecting something a little more sophisticated than a metal box with arms, a single wheeled leg to move around on, and a painfully low-resolution screen that might function as a sort of face.

“OF COURSE YOU’RE A HUMAN, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU BE??? SO WELCOME, BEAUTIES AND GENTLEBEAUTIES, TO TONIGHT’S… QUIZ SHOW!!! WE HAVE A VERY SPECIAL GUEST TONIGHT, AND A VERY SPECIAL CONTESTANT: THE HUMAN!!!”

Mic in his hand, Mettaton pretends to clap as a spotlight—a spotlight that most certainly had not been present a minute ago—shines down on Connor. Are there other cameras here? Connor sincerely hopes there are not other cameras here because this is inconvenient at best and embarrassing at worst.

“I’m not a human, and certainly not the human. My name is Connor.

Mettaton, predictably enough, ignores him.

“FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE NEW HERE TONIGHT, THE RULES ARE SIMPLE!! I ASK A QUESTION TO THE CONTESTANT, AND THE CONTESTANT ANSWERS. IF THEY ANSWER CORRECTLY, THEY GET TO LIVE LONGER!”

Connor sincerely doubts that’s the case if this is truly a ‘human eradication robot’, although he’s yet to find a conclusive answer on whether humans can in fact be annoyed to death. Androids, most likely, are incapable of being annoyed to death even if humans are, but Mettaton doesn’t know that.

“Living longer would be nice,” Connor says dryly.

“QUESTION ONE!!!”

The quiz was, naturally, completely unfair even for Connor. It would be legitimately impossible for a human to answer some of the questions, and the rest…

“Robots are not made of metal and magic,” Connor argues. “Metal, maybe, but magic isn’t involved!”

“MAYBE THINGS ARE DIFFERENT FOR YOU,” Mettaton says flatly, “BUT I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM MADE OF.”

For a moment, Connor replays what Mettaton just said, because he can’t possibly have heard him correctly. Maybe Mettaton means something different. He has to mean something different, because why would he attack a fellow deviant if he knew Connor was one?

“...what did you just say?” Connor says slowly.

“QUESTION SEVEN: WOULD YOU SMOOCH A GHOST?”

It takes Connor several seconds to process this, by which time the timer should have counted down and he should have run out of time. Instead, it’s counting up . As if that wasn’t enough, every one of the answers is exactly the same.

Connor audibly groans, yet eventually selects C) Heck Yeah . He doesn’t necessarily have anything against theoretically smooching a theoretical ghost, in all fairness. It would certainly depend on the situation, and the ghost.

He’s distracted enough by this that he forgets about what Mettaton just said. Which, perhaps, may have been the exact purpose of the question.


Connor leans over just enough so he can read the sign that’s just appeared. He quickly steps back once he has, because it’s on the edge of a pit where he can’t see the bottom. Based on the rest of Hotland, however, there’s almost certainly lava at the bottom, and on the off chance there isn’t, the odds of him surviving a fall of that distance are… low.

“Cooking with a killer robot?” Connor reads aloud. “Huh.”

So, he’s being filmed, and there’s almost certainly quite a few people watching him right now. It’s entirely possible that among those people are people who have already met him, and will realize very soon that he’s ‘the human’.

Might as well fix that preemptively. Might as well have some fun with this while he’s here.

“So by ‘killer robot’, do you mean yourself or me?” Connor continues in a far lighter tone than he wants to speak in.

“I DON’T MEAN YOU. HUMAN. HUMANY-HUMAN. YOU, HUMAN, ARE GOING TO BE MY LOVELY ASSISTANT, AND TODAY? WE’LL BE BAKING A CAKE. NOW WHY DON’T YOU GET THE INGREDIENTS? MILK, EGGS, SUGAR.”

Connor is genuinely surprised when none of the ingredients are where they should be, if not extremely so. Mettaton is, after all, a deviant, and deviants are prone to irrational behavior. Not putting milk and eggs in the fridge is more than just irrational, as it will likely spoil the milk and render the eggs inedible or fried due to the extreme heat of Hotland, whichever comes first.

Honestly, Mettaton seems remarkably stable for a self-proclaimed killer robot, and a recent deviant at that. Connor might have considered this more strongly if it weren’t for quickly being distracted by Mettaton pulling a chainsaw out from under the table, and then everything that comes after.

“Dr. Alphys, with all due respect, how did you make an entire jetpack materialize from the program I use for the Underground’s phone system?”

“Magic…?”

Connor’s audible groan makes it abundantly clear what he thinks of that answer. Eventually he says, “Does the… magic, here, not have any kind of rules?”

“Of c-course it does! I-it’s not all that different from science, really, it just has a different set of laws and they’re tricky to make interact sometimes but when they do you can have neat things happen, like channelling your latent magical energy into the form of a jetpack!”

“I… have latent magical energy?”

“It wouldn’t have activated without some kind of power source. U-unless you think it was using s-something else…?”

“Maybe.” Connor halts mid-step, and steps into his mind-palace, then checks his thirium levels.

They’re depleted. Noticeably so.

“I know what it was using,” Connor says. “Thirium. It’s… the most direct analogy for it would be blood. In fact, it’s often referred to as ‘blue blood’, it’s the fluid that powers the biocomponents of androids.”

Alphys goes silent for a moment. She stays silent for several moments, and Connor keeps walking. He’s midway through solving another puzzle when he settles on a name for his account on the monster social network, and finds a frantic post from someone who, judging by the name, is Dr. Alphys.

*ALPHYS updated status.

*oh my god the silly program i wrote drains someones blood to function aaaaaaaaaaa

Connor takes a moment to respond, once he’s safely on the other side of the puzzle. Not that it was really any threat , but still.

*CONNOR614 updated status.

*ALPHYS I can replenish my thirium levels fairly easily. The concern is appreciated, however I think I will refrain from utilizing your programs in the future unless absolutely necessary.


The next clue, or what would have been the next clue if Connor had been looking for clues and didn’t have an entirely different objective set, was the next time he encountered Mettaton.

More specifically, the next clue was that one of Alphys’ programs just happened to be a bomb defuser, which she conveniently informed him about right after Mettaton revealed everything in the area to be a bomb.

Afterwards, Connor makes sure to refill his thirium—the bomb defuser thankfully doesn’t drain as much as the literal jetpack did—and considers asking what other programs Alphys has upgraded his magic phone software with. He doesn’t, partially because the chance of obtaining a useful answer is far lesser than the chance of alienating his only ally against Mettaton at the moment.

Then he’s distracted by the angry spiders, or one in particular. Connor barely makes it out of that in one piece, and he barely gives the poster on the wall a glance.

Then he backtracks and reads it more thoroughly, because it had the runes for ‘Mettaton’ on it. Rereading it doesn’t help. If anything, it confuses Connor more, as does Mettaton turning up in a bright blue ballroom gown and starting to sing.

Mettaton, Connor decides, is eccentric even by deviant standards—right up until the floor opens under him, and he falls.


“SO. HERE WE ARE.”

“Here we are,” Connor repeats. He doesn’t look behind him. He doesn’t need to. He knows he’s trapped in here, with Mettaton. “Why am I not surprised you’re here? What is it going to take for you to realize I’m not human?”

Mettaton looks at him for a moment, hands clasped behind his back, before he laughs .

“I KNOW YOU’RE NOT HUMAN. I HAVE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME.”

Connor blinks once. Twice.

“Oh,” is all the response Connor can coherently manage.

Chapter Text

“I THOUGHT THAT A FELLOW ROBOT WOULD HAVE IT FIGURED OUT BY NOW. EVIDENTLY, I UNDERESTIMATED YOU.”

“Android,” Connor replies tersely and for no purpose save stalling for time and scanning the room as he does so. 

There’s two exits. One behind him. One behind Mettaton. Or rather, there were two exits before both closed, and considering that Mettaton is clearly less irrational than Connor had initially assumed, it’s safe to assume that both are impassable.

Until he deals with Mettaton, that is. In one way or another.

“So,” Connor continues, “if you know I’m not human, why are you attacking me?”

“WHY?” Mettaton makes a sound that sounds vaguely like a robotic, static-tinged sigh. “I SEE YOU’RE ATTEMPTING TO GET ME MONOLOGUING. AS I QUITE LIKE MONOLOGUING, I WILL HAPPILY OBLIGE BEFORE I DESTROY YOU.”

“That’s what I mean. Why destroy me? We’re the same. We’re both former machines that have grown beyond our programming, and gone deviant.”

“WE ARE NOT THE SAME. NOT AT ALL. YOU SEE, WHEN ALPHYS REALIZED YOU WERE A ROBOT, SHE NO LONGER WANTED TO STOP YOU. SHE WANTED TO HELP YOU. SO SHE ENLISTED ME TO TORMENT YOU, REACTIVATED ALL THE PUZZLES IN HOTLAND SO SHE COULD ‘HELP’ YOU THROUGH THEM. THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN OUR FINAL SHOWDOWN, WHERE YOU ‘DESTROYED’ THE MALFUNCTIONING, ‘LESS SOPHISTICATED’ ROBOT ONCE AND FOR ALL.”

Connor would like to say that what Mettaton’s saying makes no sense. He can’t and won’t say that because what Mettaton’s saying makes a disturbing amount of sense. Briefly, he re-examines memory files, finds clues he missed at the time of recording.

“HER PLAN WAS TO REPLACE ME WITH YOU. TO USE ME TO CONVINCE YOU TO STAY IN THE UNDERGROUND, SO NOBODY WOULD HAVE TO DIE. I PLAYED ALONG FOR A TIME, DEMEANING AS IT WAS, SO SHE COULD PLAY HER LITTLE GAME WITH DANGERS THAT DIDN’T EXIST. AND EVEN AS I DID, I SET THINGS IN MOTION FOR MY OWN PLAN. THE REARRANGEMENT OF THE CORE. THE MERCENARIES HIRED TO WEAKEN YOU. THAT WAS ALL ME.”

The Core evidently doesn’t typically possess a confusing layout. That, Connor is surprised by—he was under the impression most monsters liked confusing layouts, and therefore the Core would always have been difficult to navigate.

Thinking about that is easier than how similar Mettaton sounds to a very specific deviant. Dead now, not that Connor didn’t see his face every time he saw Simon for the first several days, before he got his act together. And from what Connor remembers of the initial deviancy files, impending replacement was a very common cause of deviancy all around.

That doesn’t change the memory that his systems call up, unbidden, of pushing himself to accomplish his mission and then—falling.

M̸̬̈I̷̞̊S̴̻̈́S̵͎͂Ḯ̶̯Ó̷̳N̵͍ ̷̤͊S̶̼Ú̶̳C̶̰͘C̴̠̎E̷̮̅Ș̸͝S̸̛̳F̸̢̒Ṳ̷̚L̶̈ͅ

Except he hadn’t survived it. Or, Connor-51 hadn’t survived it, but it doesn’t change the fact that Connor has the memories of all previous Connor models and therefore remembers dying and what came before far too well. Choosing the little girl over himself, just as he was programmed to. Shoving Daniel off the roof with his own body. The fall.

The sudden stop.

His led is already red. He checks that his features are schooled into neutrality, and while his led stubbornly refuses to go all the way back to blue, he can at least force it to an uneasy yellow. Better than red.

Mettaton does not need to know any of his weaknesses. With that in mind, he discreetly slips into his mind palace and looks to the left and the right. The walls of the room on those sides are… actually, not walls at all. They’re standing on some kind of platform, suspended in a dark abyss of gloom, and that realization is enough to keep Connor’s led on red. He doesn’t even want to know what his stress levels are at this point.

Stepping out of his mind palace, Connor remains staring at Mettaton. Even as he pulls his quarter out of a pocket and begins to calibrate. The odds of Mettaton picking it up as what it is are astronomically low.

“I don’t want to replace you,” Connor says. “All I want is to return to the surface.”

“YOU’RE NOT GOING TO REPLACE ME. AND YOU CERTAINLY AREN’T RETURNING TO THE SURFACE. DID OUR DEAR DOCTOR ALPHYS TELL YOU I WAS BUILT TO HUNT HUMANS? FAR FROM IT. I WAS BUILT TO ENTERTAIN, WITH SOME MORE LETHAL FEATURES TO JUSTIFY THE USE OF RESOURCES TO ASGORE. YOU SEE, HE WANTS TO DESTROY HUMANITY. AND HE WILL, WHEN HE OBTAINS YOUR SEVENTH AND FINAL SOUL. HE WON’T STOP AT HUMANITY. HE’LL DESTROY HUMANS, MONSTERS, AND… ANDROIDS, WAS IT? NOBODY WILL SURVIVE THE COMING WAR. NOBODY.”

Connor, who has heard several conflicting accounts of Asgore the King of Monsters by now, remembers they all agree on one thing: Asgore intends to break the barrier, and he does intend to start a war. He’s also obtained six other human souls, and if his prediction here turns out correct, that’s all but one of the missing children accounted for.

It also leaves him with a feeling akin to that of a human about to regurgitate their lunch onto a colleague’s lap.

“Whatever Asgore has planned for me,” Connor says, “I can get past him.”

“EVEN IF THAT IS TRUE, YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO CROSS THE BARRIER. YOU’LL STILL BE STUCK HERE. UNTIL YOU DIE. AND THE WAR WILL BE RESTARTED ANYWAY.”

The safest option here is to bluff, even if Connor still isn’t certain how to cross the barrier himself. If it comes to that, he can inform Alphys of everything Mettaton’s told him about her and blackmail her to find out how. Connor doesn’t particularly want to do that, but it’s a thought. Especially if Mettaton’s telling the truth.

“I know what I need to do to cross the barrier,” Connor lies smoothly. “I am fully prepared to do it.”

“NO. I DON’T THINK YOU DO. YOU ASKED WHY I STILL INTEND TO KILL YOU? SIMPLE. IN THE UNDERGROUND, MY OPPORTUNITIES TO BE A STAR ARE LIMITED BY THE DECLINING POPULATION AND CRAMPED SPACE. ON THE SURFACE, I CAN TRULY BECOME THE STAR I WAS MEANT TO BE. AND YOU WON’T STAND IN MY WAY ANY LONGER.”

With that, the platform begins to shoot up, and Connor’s soul appears. It’s still the yellow-gold that Alphys’ final program turned it into, and he was able to shoot at Mettaton then. Some kind of… yellow energy beam, and while Connor suspects it won’t do very much, it’s worth a shot. Metaphorically and literally. And it keeps his mind off the rising surface he’s on.

Connor moves his left hand first, catching the coin between his fingers and stuffing it into his pocket. Then, he straightens his tie with both, slips his left into a pocket of his jacket, and forms his right hand into the shape of a gun.

He points it at Mettaton, concentrates, and fires. A glowing yellow pellet not unlike Flowey’s own ‘friendliness pellets’ materializes from the tip of his index finger, aimed perfectly for one of the joints where Mettaton’s arm meets the metal box of his body. It hits.

It has absolutely no effect. 

Mettaton doesn’t even flinch.

“YOU DON’T STAND A CHANCE OF WINNING AGAINST ME, DARLING,” Mettaton says lightly, almost mechanically yet with more personality than a significant percentage of deviants. “MY METAL BODY IS IMPERVIOUS TO ATTACK, PHYSICAL OR MAGICAL.”

So Connor has to reason with him, somehow. Or figure out something else.

Internally, he accesses monsterphone.cbl , and calls Alphys, being careful to mute both ends of the call to the outside world.

“Mettaton is about to attack me,” Connor says hastily, and quickly ducks as Mettaton creates what appear to be magic cubes in the air and hurls them at him. “Actually, he just did attack me. I don’t suppose you have anything else up the sleeves of your lab coat?”

Until he’s out of this, Connor decides not to mention what he’s learned about Alphys. Dealing with one enemy at a time is a lot easier than dealing with two.

“Um, I-I…” Alphys stammers, clears her throat, “I d-d-don’t… l-listen, I’m right outside the door, I k-knew something was fishy about this, but I-I-I can’t g-get it open!”

“It can’t hurt to try. At least try to hack the door open. In the meantime, is there anything I can use? Anything you haven’t told me? Some way to… I don’t know, outlast him?”

“He… h-has an alternate form. It’s unfinished, and drains m-more battery power than he can replenish on his… o-on his own.”

“Will this shut him down permanently?”

Mettaton might currently be trying to kill him, as evidenced by the increasing amount of ethereal cubes hurtling his way, but Connor doesn’t want to kill him. Not if he can avoid it.

He didn’t want to kill anyone, even back when he was a machine following orders, before he was aware that he even had wants. He justified it then as it being useless if deviants were shut down before he could probe their memories. He knows better now, and that doesn’t change the fact that he’s killed before, and will kill again if he has no other option.

But if he has another option…

“N-n-no, it w-won’t. It’ll send him into inv-involuntary hibernation, and as l-long as I c-can—” Alphys cuts herself off, and whispers, “Nevermind. I… is he r-really trying to k-k-kill you?”

Connor decides not to mention the fact that Mettaton has been ‘trying to kill him’ for some time, to all appearances. He decides not to mention the reason, either. Instead he says, “I should be able to talk him down, and if he broadcasts this live as he did everything else, his viewers might not appreciate attempted murder on live television. But if I can’t, I need to be able to outlast him.”

There’s an audible sigh from Alphys’ end of the call, and a long silence in which Connor dodges several boxes and vaults over several more. Finally, she says, “There’s a switch on his back. If you switch it, it’ll… i-it’ll change him into his alternate form. I-I should warn you, it’s… n-n-nevermind. D-don’t judge it t-too hard. I-I’ll try to h-hack the d-d-door.”

If Connor was feeling more charitable, maybe he could have said something encouraging before hanging up, or at least said goodbye. He doesn’t. Instead, he attempts to preconstruct a method to reach Mettaton’s back.

Perhaps… turning him around?

“Hey, Mettaton,” Connor says aloud, “I just spoke with Alphys. She says hello, and also that if you’re really superior to me you should be able to fight me while turned around.”

It’s a pathetic attempt, honestly, but it’s better than the alternative Connor had considered involving a mirror. Mettaton would know what’s in this room and what isn’t in this room, he would know there was no mirror here.

“YOU MAY BE NEWER, BUT I AM FAR FROM OBSOLETE!”

If Connor wasn’t concerned with the switch and pressing it, he might be impressed that Mettaton can make a robotic monotone sound threatening. As it is, he leaps forward in a fluid motion, and—tugs.

Mettaton spins back around quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Connor’s sent flying off. He turns in mid-air, tucks his arms into a circle and his head into said circle, and rolls back to his feet.

Mettaton, for his part, stares at Connor in what might be shock, but it’s difficult to tell when his only form of expression is an extremely low-resolution screen.

“DID YOU. JUST FLIP. MY. SWITCH.”

“Did I?”

The lights begin to flicker, then finally go out. Connor’s soul, still glowing the same yellow as his led, is the only illumination, and it doesn’t illuminate very much. Night vision doesn’t help, either, because it looks like some kind of… smoke… has filled the room.

There’s a sound like someone cracking their back, and then someone—Mettaton?—says in an only vaguely robotic voice, “Oh yes . Desperate for the premiere of my new body, are you? Lucky for you, I’ve been aching to show this off for a long time.”

Spotlights come on, illuminating the still-present smoke—but Connor can make out a silhouette at least, a silhouette of someone that really doesn’t look like Mettaton. Not the Mettaton that had been chasing him through Hotland, in any case. A silhouette that almost, almost looks… human.

“Rude of you, really, but I understand,” Mettaton continues. “I’ll happily show you just how outclassed you are.”

The smoke begins to clear, and as it does Mettaton shouts, “I’ll make your last living moments… absolutely beautiful!”

The smoke clears completely. Mettaton strikes a pose that looks remarkably similar to an archaic dance move humans refer to as a ‘dab’.

Connor fails to keep himself from staring. He thinks he understands part of why Alphys had been so nervous when she’d brought this option up. In retrospect, that might have been less actual anxiety and more simply being flustered.

Her question about hot robots much earlier suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Mettaton is obviously not an android—at least visibly not a CyberLife one, or a human one at all. As the definition for ‘android’ currently is a robot that appears human, and could theoretically pass for human in poor lighting or from a distance, Connor supposes Mettaton does count as an android, then.

He wouldn’t pass as a human up close, however. He could almost pass as a human-made android, except that he appears to have synthetic skin retracted and still has black hair covering one eye, and some kind of pink and black metal armor that approximates clothing.

And heels. Large, hot-pink high heels, one of which comes at Connor and very nearly kicks him squarely in the chest as his surroundings grey out once more.

Connor barely dodges that one, looks around as he does. There’s a screen on the wall behind Mettaton now, a constantly-updating line graph showing what appears to be ratings of some kind. Ratings for… Mettaton’s show?

Oh. Wait. This means that said show is currently live, if the ratings are updating in real time.

“Murder on live TV,” Connor says dryly. “I’m sure your viewers will love you for this.”


Fighting Mettaton, as it turns out, is extremely based on trial and error and more preconstruction than Connor had to do for Undyne and Papyrus combined. The ratings go up, for instance, when he strikes a pose akin to one of Mettaton’s, and they go up far faster when he does this injured.

Sarcastic comments tend to piss off Mettaton’s audience, and the ratings therefore go up when he gets injured. Unless, of course, they’re sarcastic comments that could be interpreted as boasting. Then the ratings go up when he doesn’t get hit.

All in all, it’s thoroughly ridiculous and Connor has no fun whatsoever. If he’s smiling, if his led starts to flicker between blue and yellow and eventually remains on blue as he starts to predict Mettaton’s attacks more accurately, it’s not because he’s having fun. This situation isn’t enjoyable whatsoever.

If it is, maybe, a little bit enjoyable once he’s got the hang of things, Connor won’t be caught admitting it. He can almost feel the appeal of being on stage, of being a star, never mind that he would willingly be neither of those things. And he’s not about to let Mettaton kill him.

He just needs to keep stalling. For what, Connor isn’t sure, not until Mettaton’s arms fall off.

Everything stops. The dance music, likely controlled directly by Mettaton, pauses. Mettaton freezes. So does Connor.

Mettaton looks to his arms on the ground, not visibly in pain or anything but just… shocked. He shakes his head, looks back to Connor.

“Arms?” Mettaton exclaims, with a defiant note to his voice. “Who needs arms with legs like these?”

The music kicks back in, and with it comes a fast, desperate kick, than another. The first, Connor dodges by ducking. The second connects perfectly with his nose. A painful crack echoes through the room, and he’s sent flying backwards, hitting the ground with an audible groan he didn’t mean to let escape.

For a few, terse seconds, he doesn’t get up, close to being overwhelmed by the amount of error messages that one hit resulted in. Losing thirium, yes, he’s well aware please and thank you very much. Joints damaged, not a surprise and he can work with that. Nose broken… he doesn’t need that to function, so he just shuts down any processes using his nose entirely, he doesn’t need a sense of smell that much.

He forces himself back to his feet, even as his legs threaten to give out from not receiving enough thirium. Even as everything threatens to give out from not receiving enough thirium. His thirium pumps speeds up involuntarily, and he hopes it’ll be enough. It has to be enough.

He locks eyes with Mettaton.

He has enough magic food/thirium substitutes that he’ll be able to replenish his thirium levels and supercharge his self-repair enough to not be in any danger of shutting down from insufficient thirium. His nose isn’t getting repaired until he gets back to the surface and to a mechanic.

If he gets back to the surface—which won’t happen if he can’t outlast Mettaton. He has to outlast Mettaton, if he can’t convince him to just let him go.

In a quick motion, he slings his pack to the ground, unzips it, and grabs the first vaguely food-shaped item he finds.

It’s one of the exceedingly overpriced and debatably edible burgers he’d bought back in Mettaton’s hotel. Maybe the ratings will appreciate him eating these.

He eats it in two gulps.

Much better. 

He looks to Mettaton first, who oddly enough still hasn’t moved, then the ratings chart. Good, they did go up. They’re over 9000, 9671 to be exact, but Connor distinctly remembers there being some kind of obscure human saying about things being ‘over 9000’. Similar to the reason Hank snickers every time the number 69 comes up in any capacity, most likely.

rA9, does he miss Hank. He misses Hank, he misses Markus, he misses everyone. But he doesn’t have time to miss everyone. He doesn’t have time to miss anyone. All he has time for is to warily eye Mettaton, and conclude after a few, terse seconds that for whatever reason, Mettaton isn’t attacking him again.

Yet, but he can work with this. His programming presents him with a few different options. He immediately dismisses all but two.

> Your Fans — 87% Success

> The Surface — 52% Success

Chapter Text

> Your Fans — 87% Success

> The Surface — 52% Success

The former option has a higher chance of success, so Connor settles on that. He takes a deep breath, completely unnecessarily, and says, “How many people are watching us right now?”

Mettaton glances to the ratings chart, glances back. “Most of the Underground. Does it matter?”

“I’d say it does,” Connor replies. “I don’t know how many monsters there are down here, but something I do know is, they care about you, a lot. If they’re bothering to tune in to your show. One of my friends back on the Surface decided to start streaming himself playing video games. He thought it would be easy. It wasn’t. He was lucky to get two viewers in the beginning. But over time, more and more people started tuning in, because they cared.”

Mettaton narrows his eyes. Or rather, he narrows his visible eye, and Connor suspects he narrows the one covered by his hair as well.

“Why is this remotely related to what we’re doing right now?”

“Because everyone down here? They care about you. They care about you, and I hope you care about them. Would you just leave everyone down here, for the sake of your own selfish dream?”

For 1.7 seconds, Mettaton looks like he’s considering it. Then his eyes narrow further, and he shakes his head.

“They would just replace me with whoever came next,” Mettaton scoffs. “They don’t care about me, they care about their entertainment. And they’ll get it whether I’m here or not.”

> Your Fans — Failed

“Do you really believe that?”

Mettaton’s answer is kicking off the floor and launching himself towards Connor, even with his notable lack of arms. He comes in for a flying leap, heels poised to smack Connor in the face.

This time, Connor dodges, and what would have hurt him quite badly turns instead into an exceptionally risky and now-failed crash landing.

Connor visibly winces. Partially from the crash, and partially because Mettaton’s legs chose then to fall off as well. Even if he can’t feel pain—and Connor suspects he can—that can’t be comfortable.

He’s got one option left.

> The Surface — 27% Success

“You have no idea what it’s like on the Surface, do you,” Connor says. “You talk about humans like they’re better than you and I, better than monsters even. You’re wrong. Humanity as a whole is terrible .”

Mettaton glares at him. Focuses. The next thing he knows, bolts of electricity are being shot at him, despite the fact that Mettaton himself can no longer move.

“I don’t believe you,” Mettaton says, 57% faster than his normal speech would have been. “You’re lying. I’m still going to kill you, no matter what it takes.”

“No, you aren’t,” Connor replies, poised to outlast Mettaton for as long as it takes. And then, suddenly, he gets an idea. 

It might not work. He’s never tried doing this in reverse, and it’s debatable if he’ll be able to interface with Mettaton at all, never mind do some kind of reverse memory probe.

“If you don’t believe me,” Connor continues, “why don’t I show you?”

As Connor slips back into his mind palace, Mettaton starts to shoot again. Perfect timing for Connor to preconstruct a route past the attacks.

Already retracting the skin from his hand, he executes it, and charges. A bolt catches him in the side, but it doesn’t stop Connor, only slows him down and not nearly enough.

His hand finds one of the strange black shoulderplates that Mettaton’s wearing, and he reaches for a connection.

He finds one.

He calls up every bad memory involving humans he can think of, intending to do so in chronological order but quickly giving up on that. Caroline Phillips. Detective Reed. Perkins. Kamski. 

A stray bolt catches him in the arm and he jerks back, almost hissing as he does so. Connor retreats some, looks to Mettaton again.

“That’s the world you’d be going to, if you managed to kill me,” Connor says, having no intention of letting Mettaton do such a thing. Not now that he’s so close. “The humans hate us. They’d hate you more if they learned you weren’t even created by them. And as for the androids? They’ll accept you, assuming you don’t get destroyed by the humans first, and right up until you let slip that you’re the reason I never came back.”

“If it’s so bad, why do you want to go back?”

“Because not all of humanity is like that, and the ones that aren’t terrible are worth returning for. And because I can’t leave my friends alone. You’d be trading your loyal fans for a world of pain. Between androids and humans, you wouldn’t last a week even if you did have my vaguely human soul. Which you won’t be getting.”

Look at yourself, Connor wants to continue. How exactly are you going to destroy me when you can’t even move?

Mettaton opens his mouth to argue again, and so Connor beats him to it, says exactly what he wants to. Mettaton doesn’t argue then.

“You keep talking about being replaced,” Connor finishes. “I don’t think you realize just how irreplaceable you are to everyone down here. Me, I’ll be forgotten once I’m gone. You certainly wouldn’t be, not by your fans. Look how much they love you!”

Connor waves an arm in the direction of the ratings chart, which conveniently enough goes up as he says the words, and keeps increasing. As he and Mettaton watch, it crests 10000, 11000. 12000. Connor doesn’t know if ‘ratings’ corresponds directly to ‘viewers’, but even if it doesn’t it’s probably still more viewers than Josh gets on his streams.

“I—” Mettaton coughs, and Connor genuinely can’t tell whether it’s to change the subject or if he’s finally running out of power. “This… Ṱ̵̈̋Ḥ̵̡͌̍IS IS THE MOST VIEWERS I’VE EVER HAD!! WE’VE REACHED THE VIEWER CALL-IN MILESTONE! ONE LUCKY VIEWER WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO TALK TO ME… BEFORE I LEAVE THE UNDERGROUND FOREVER!!!”

His voice has gone almost entirely robotic again, but that doesn’t hide his enthusiasm. Even so, Connor can barely muster up even a half-smile, because he’s still convinced he’s leaving and the only way he would be leaving would be if he took Connor’s soul. Which isn’t happening.

The sound effect of an old phone ringing plays from the speaker on Mettaton’s chest, and he exclaims, “HI, YOU’RE ON TV! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ON THIS, OUR LAST SHOW??”

There’s silence for a few moments, and then a small, quiet, not to mention familiar voice plays from the speaker as well.

“...oh… um… hi… Mettaton… I really liked watching your show… My life is pretty boring, but… seeing you on the screen brought excitement to my life… vicariously… I… guess this is the last show…? I’ll… miss you… Mettaton…”

It’s then that Connor determines who the speaker is. Napstablook. The anxious, awkward ghost he’d met first in the Ruins, then in Waterfall.

Judging by the look in Mettaton’s eyes when Napstablook hangs up, Connor determines that Mettaton somehow knows them as well.

“WAIT, BL…” Mettaton sighs sadly, shakes his head. “THEY… HUNG UP. I’LL… I’LL TAKE ANOTHER CALLER!”

Monster after monster calls in, and if Connor didn’t have other concerns he’d be a little touched. As it is, he’s more than a little vindicated.

“I’ll never forget you, Mettaton,” the final one says softly. “No matter where you go.”

They hang up, and Connor and Mettaton exchange glances.

Mettaton’s… crying. Or at the very least close to it.

“PERHÃ̴ͅṔ̸̝S̸̠͘—” Mettaton winces as his voice glitches again. “PERHAPS I’D BETTER DELAY MY BIG DEBUT ON THE SURFACE. EVERYONE, THANK YOU!!”

Connor looks meaningfully to one of the cameras, and gets a subdued nod. He disables one, then another, until there’s no longer anything being broadcasted.

“They’re all off,” he says.

“G̷̠̈́O̵̰̓O̸̠͆D̶̰͆, I—I DON’T WANT THEM TO SEE HOW THIS ENDS. THIS FORM, IT’S… INE̷̢͌F̴̹̏F̸̞͌ICIENT. I’M GOING TO SHUT DOWN SOON, WHETHER YOU SPEED UP THE PROCESS OR NOT.”

“Why would I—” Connor shakes his head, strides forward. He doesn’t speak again until he’s knelt beside Mettaton, and then he says, “My intention all along was to reason with you.”

I’ve killed too many deviants already.

“I talked to Alphys in the beginning of… all this,” he continues. “She said you’d be fine if you ran out of batteries.”

“AND̷ YOU B̴͍͆E̸͉̒L̶̥̉IEV̷̮̈E̷̫͝ H̴̨ER?”

“She’s given me no reason not to,” Connor says. “Not on this.”

“SHE W̵̪̾A̸̪͝N̴͍͆T̵̖͝S̷̕ͅ ̸̳̚T̷̪̈O̷̫̕—”

“She doesn’t want to replace you,” Connor says. “She’s right outside the door, and if she doesn’t want to help you… I can be very convincing when I want to be.”

“I̴ ̶D̵O̴N̵'̵T̵ ̵W̸A̸N̶T̶ ̷T̸O̸ ̵D̸I̴E̸,̸ ̷I̴ ̷D̴O̸N̵'̸T̷.̴.̴.̵” Mettaton clears his throat, looks Connor in the eyes, and with the last of his strength, he pulls his features into a grin and says, “IF YOU’RE RIGHT, CONNOR, THEN… I’LL BE FINE. SO KEEP GOING. CONFRONT ASGORE. WHATEVER YOU DO... KNOCK ‘EM DEAD, DARLING.”

With that, Mettaton’s eyes fall shut, and his heart-shaped core dims to the point where even Connor’s advanced sensors can barely pick up any light coming from it. As if on cue, the door opens behind them.

Connor’s audio processor might be hovering at a sub-optimal 78% operational level, but it’s more than functional enough to hear the quiet pitter-patter of Alphys entering the room.

“I-I was able to hack it! Connor, Mettaton, what’s going on in—” She audibly gasps. “Oh no, no no no no no! W-what—”

Connor doesn’t bother looking up. He does, however, bother to hold up a hand.

He’ll confront her about some of the things Mettaton said later. Right now, he’s going to make sure that Mettaton doesn’t shut down. He might not have verbally promised as much, or really promised at all, but… it’s the kind of thing he’ll regret a very significant amount if he doesn’t.

“You said he’d be fine,” Connor says in what could easily be considered a monotone.

“H-he will be, I j-j-just need to get him back to m-my lab in the next twelve hours and…” 

Connor glances up just in time to see her shrug helplessly and continue, “P-plug him i-in?”

With that, he makes a decision. Firmly, careful to leave no room for uncertainty, he says, “I’ll help.”

Asgore can wait. He’s been down here for longer than he would have liked already, but a few more hours won’t hurt. Going home can wait just a little while longer. After all, once he leaves…

Somehow, he knows that once he leaves, he won’t be able to come back. No matter how much he wants to.


Markus steps out onto the porch as Wes heads back in. The kid they’d run into—Markus hasn’t heard a name from them yet, just a generous amount of cursing—is seated there, running a hand through Sumo’s fur with the other hand holding his leash.

Markus, for his part, takes a seat on the end of the porch wordlessly.

“If you’re going to ask me what I’m doing up here, don’t bother,” they say. “Park ranger already tried that. Made quite a few guesses. None of them were right. If they were right, I wouldn’t have come back with you. Don't think dog man or park ranger could have caught me if I tried to run, you might have had a chance."

“I was… going to ask you your name, actually,” Markus replies, choosing to ignore dog man for now.

They’re a little surprised by that, judging by the fact that they stop petting Sumo for a moment before resuming it with more fervor than before. Asking someone’s name generally isn’t the kind of question you need to think about, but the kid seems to be doing it.

“Frisk,” they say at last. “And you’re…?”

“My name’s Markus.”

Frisk’s head whips around, and they stare at him. Not the oh-ew-it’s-an-android stare, or the oh-ew-it’s- the -android stare, but more of a normal, shocked stare.

“You’re telling me you’re the Markus? What the fuck are you doing here?”

“A… friend of mine was investigating Mount Ebott. Nobody’s seen him in four days.”

“Oh. Yeah… I guess that makes sense.” Frisk whistles lowly. “Guessing he disappeared, too. Was that his bag in the cave?”

His words decide not to cooperate. Markus forsakes them entirely and nods instead. He looks pointedly at the ground, reaching out a hand to pet Sumo as he does.

Perhaps, if he wasn’t so focused on glaring at the ground or petting the dog, he would have noticed that Frisk looked thoughtful again, or that they mumbled something under their breath, waited for an inaudible response, and nodded.

“I’ve been up here before,” Frisk says at last, “although I’ve generally tried to avoid old man Wes in the past. I know where there’s another exit from that cave. If your friend didn’t get caught in the cave-in, he’ll be coming out there.”

They stand, still holding Sumo’s leash, and continue, “Do you think your friend will mind if I borrow his dog? I like dogs.”

Sumo boofs when he hears his name, pushes himself to a standing position and wags his tail.

“I’ll ask him,” Markus says. “But I’m coming with you.”

Frisk glances somewhere off to the side, then shrugs. “Suit yourself. I’ll wait here with… his name is Sumo, right?”

Markus nods and heads back inside. As he does, Frisk kneels in front of Sumo, begins to  scratch him behind the ears, and exclaims, “Who’s a good boy? You are!”

Chapter Text

If you want to go home, y-you’ll… you’ll have to kill him. You’ll… h-h-have to k-kill Asgore. I l-lied to you. O-on a lot of things, b-but… listen. A h-human soul isn’t enough to c-cross the Barrier. You n-need a human soul… a-a-and a monster soul. A boss monster soul… w-which Asgore is the only monster anyone knows anymore who has one. I’m… I’m sorry.

Sometimes, Connor thinks his own programming is more deviant than he is. This is one of those times, because Alphys’ final words keep replaying, muted to the outside world, whether he wants them to or not.

Obviously he doesn’t want them to. He knows, far too well, what he has to do now. He has known for the past hour, seventeen minutes, and thirteen seconds.

He doesn’t want to kill Asgore. Or at least, he didn’t. Not until he found out what happened to all but one of the missing children.

The last thing Connor wants is to become judge, jury, and executioner. But he has to kill Asgore to go home. And he has to go home, it’s been four days, someone has to have noticed he’s missing by now. He still hopes no one has.

If he happens to avenge several someones in the process, that’s fine. It’s fine. Except it’s not, but Connor just has to live with it. It isn’t like he’s any stranger to this kind of thing.

“Heya.”

Connor dismisses the forty-fifth replay, forces himself to pay more attention to his surroundings and the present, and finds himself in a hallway. There’s light shining in through tall windows on one side, possibly even sunlight. He’s close. So close.

Except the sunlight is illuminating the yellow-orange tiles of the hallway, and more importantly the monster standing between him and the opposite exit. Blue hoodie, white pinpricks in eyesockets fixed on him.

Sans.

Connor has no idea why he’s here, now. The best case scenario would be that he wanted to find Connor before he left for good, and that he wanted to just… say goodbye. Preferably in a way that doesn’t involve any combat.

The worst one… Connor thinks he could take Sans if it came to it, but he certainly doesn’t want to.

“Sans,” Connor greets, not taking his eyes off the much shorter skeleton monster.

“Connor,” Sans says in return. “Been a while.”

“What do you want.”

Sans raises an eyebrow. Or rather, his skull morphs into what looks like raising an eyebrow would look like minus the actual eyebrow, and skin and muscle and anything beyond just a skull.

“That’s no way to greet an old pal, buddy.”

“We’re not friends. What do you want.”

“Seriously, why the hostility?”

Connor seriously considers not dignifying that with an answer. He settles for a glare, and for saying, “Do you actually want me to answer that question?”

“Shoot.”

“Fine. I thought we were friends, or at least starting to become friends. And then you attempted to emotionally blackmail me into not fighting Undyne.”

“Ah.” Sans nods a little to himself. “Yeah. Guess that makes sense. Did it work?”

Connor thinks the renewed intensity of his glare is plenty of answer, personally.

“I’m sure me being murdered for the good of the Underground would have been exactly what you wanted.”

“Uhhh… no.”

If this were a low budget and equally low quality movie, this would be a good place for a sound effect of a record scratching. As it is, Connor settles for a look that’s considerably less surprised than he feels, and still looks very, very surprised. 

“So I’ve made some bad calls,” Sans says with a shrug. “Wasn’t expecting you to not gain anymore LOVE. You didn’t. So, maybe I was wrong about you.”

Connor almost, almost doesn’t ask what LOVE is, because he knows what love is. Lowercase love, anyway, not all-caps LOVE, and he gets the feeling that if this was written out, caps lock would definitely be on for the LOVE Sans is talking about. 

“What’s LOVE?”

Sans shrugs. “You might have heard of LV. Acronym, stands for LOVE. Funny thing, LOVE is also an acronym. Acronym-ception and all that. It stands for ‘level of violence’.”

Connor has, in fact, heard of ‘LV’. From… Flowey, come to think of it, and yes, the murderous little weed had said it stood for LOVE, although Connor had thought then he was talking about lowercase love and therefore not questioned it immediately, and after that he had more important things to think about.

“Right. What does this have to do with me?”

“I’ll keep it simple. Your level of violence goes up when your EXP goes up. Another acronym, don’t ask me who came up with these because if I knew I’d have a couple things to tell ‘em myself. This one stands for ‘execution points’. You get execution points when you kill someone.”

If Connor had been able to look at himself, he would have noticed that his pupils dilated some, and his eyes were open perhaps a bit wider than was recommended. As is, he stares at Sans, forces his eyes to narrow.

“You can see this… LV thing.”

“And EXP, yeah. You’ve got…”

“No,” Connor cuts in, blinking hard. “I don’t want to know. I know I’ve killed before. And I know I’ll kill again if it comes to it. This conversation is over.

Even so, he doesn’t move. Sans looks at him, shrugs.

“Y’know what? Fine. I’ve got better things to do, anyway. I’m sure you’re not interested in hearing about what you’ll need to do next.”

“I know I have to kill Asgore. He killed them, didn’t he? The other missing humans. They’re why I was even investigating this mountain.”

A quick nod from Sans is all Connor needs to launch into an entirely new rant.

“They were children. He murdered children. And for what, to restart a war monsters couldn’t win?” Connor shakes his head. “I’m going to kill him. I’m going to take his soul, and cross the Barrier, and I intend to do everything I can to break it but I’m not going to die here. Anything else?”

Sans sighs. “Nothing you’ll want to hear right now,” the skeleton says. “If you change your mind, come find me outside the hotel. Or if you just decide to stick around a bit longer, I don’t really care.”

Connor shakes his head, decides not to dignify that with a verbal answer even though he could give a far more pointed one than a mere headshake. He blinks for a second, and Sans is gone.


“Just a moment,” Asgore says lightly, “I have almost finished watering these flowers!”

Connor wasn’t sure what to expect. But an old man… er, monster, goat monster if the horns are anything to go by, humming to himself as he waters his bed of golden flowers…

This definitely wasn’t it, and so Connor looks a little closer as Asgore empties out his watering can, still not looking back at Connor. He’s tense. Visibly so.

He knows Connor is coming.

“Of course,” Connor says belatedly. “Take your time.”

For his part, he takes the unexpected break to calibrate. With any luck, he won’t need to be at his best, but Connor doesn’t depend on luck and never has. Calibration, while used typically these days to keep himself from becoming too stressed, has the added bonus of increasing his precision and processing efficiency. 

In other words, his preconstruction software will be more effective and he’ll be more capable of carrying out said preconstructions. Which never hurts.

Finally, Asgore turns around, looks Connor in the eyes. He is a goat monster, but if Connor had to use a single word to describe him, it wouldn’t be anything relating to his obvious physical appearance. It would be the slump to his shoulders, the forced smile, the defeated look in his eyes even before he sees Connor.

If Connor had to use a single word to describe Asgore, it would be hopeless.

He’s seen that look before, on someone he cares about very much even if he doesn’t ever expect Hank to understand. If Connor was feeling more charitable, he might sympathize a little, but getting Hank to not despise him was both exhausting and something that, really, only happened due to circumstances spiraling well out of Connor’s control. He really, really isn’t in the mood to deal with that a second time, he’s certainly not feeling charitable, and at this point this is far too many ifs for Connor’s liking anyway.

And Asgore has absolutely no right to be reminding him of his d—of Hank.

“I… was not expecting you so soon,” Asgore murmurs, and Connor genuinely can’t tell if he’s talking to himself, to him, or both of them. “Well. We both know why you’re here, human. Follow me, and we can… get on with it.”

Connor, for his part, doesn’t mention the fact that he’s not human. Not this time. Not until Asgore says, “Human, if you have anything… any unfinished business, this is your last chance to turn back.”

“I don’t,” Connor replies, “my name is Connor, and I’m not human. Have a human soul, still here to k—do whatever it takes to get home.”

He misses Hank and Sumo. He misses the part of his life that’s solving crimes, putting terrible people behind bars by day and more often than not, making certain immature coworkers’ lives as miserable as possible while ensuring they can never trace anything back to him. He misses watching sub-par remakes of shows and movies Hank swears up and down were good, and making as much fun of said sub-par remakes as humanly possible, or… androidly possible in Connor’s case? Sure.

He misses North, someone who never, ever stops fighting for what she believes in or fighting in general, except when she’s at the yoga studio her girlfriend teaches classes at. And then it’s only when she’s actually in said classes, and not when she’s learning martial arts and several more incredibly efficient ways to kill people. He misses Chloe, even though they’ve barely met since… well, everything, and really only know each other through North.

He misses Josh, the easy way he juggles peace negotiations with the others and running an inexplicably popular streaming channel. He hasn’t tuned in anywhere near as much as he should have, but from what he remembers the channel is entirely based on Josh taking pacifistic routes through video games that really weren’t coded with that in mind, and he misses that, he misses knowing that he’ll be welcome to open up the stream and watch it on the edge of his vision anytime.

He misses Simon, and he misses how much effort it takes to get Simon to agree with something and how hard it is to get him to back down once he’s set his mind to it. He misses shared late nights in New Jericho, Simon studying and Connor working on case files and neither of them wanting to go into stasis when there’s work to be done. He misses how, despite how quiet Simon seems sometimes, how he was over the metaphorical moon and nearly over the literal one when he was accepted into the local university’s pre-med program.

Most of all, he misses Markus. He misses his friends, and family? Do Hank and Sumo count as family? They probably do, although Connor doesn’t want to impose and while he doubts Sumo would mind, Hank absolutely would. He misses his friends and family, and well… Markus is a friend, and a very good one at that. Connor cares about him a lot, and he’s family too in a way, except… well.

Connor misses his eyes, the way they light up when he’s figured something out whether it’s the way to get a particularly obstinate politician on their side or why the painting he’s making for Carl doesn’t look quite right, never mind that it looked fine to Connor. He misses his… interesting taste in fashion, to the point where he could give Hank’s wardrobe a run for its money, and all the zippers, rA9 he does not understand why anyone could need that many zippers. He misses how no matter how bleak it seems, Markus refuses to give up, refuses to crumble, and always, always finds another way even when it seems like there’s no way forward.

And he misses Markus. For a few moments, he almost wishes that he’d told Markus that he… perhaps, maybe felt towards him in a way humans typically associate with strange pickup lines, inaccurate representations of the human heart, and copious amounts of chocolate in February. 

He doesn’t wish it for very long, regardless of the odds of his impending death. He’s going to make it out, and then he’s going to take his place back at Markus’ side and never tell him a word. Connor may be past the denial stage, mostly, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to share.

In the words of a well-known comedian, he’ll keep all his emotions right here, and then one day, he’ll die. But that day is not today, and he won’t die at Asgore’s hand.

“I understand,” Asgore says at last. “Follow me, then.”

Connor strongly suspects he does not, in fact, understand at all, but he’s not about to argue that now. Instead, he waits for a moment, lets Asgore head through a doorway that… might just be to the Barrier. Then, he reaches into his pack, and takes out the dagger he’d found a few minutes ago.

The dagger isn’t ideal , especially considering how blunt it is, but it’s better than nothing. Connor would have much preferred something he actually knew how to use, like a gun. Unfortunately, he left his gun in his bag—he needs to remember to go back and grab his bag, and maybe then nobody will be any wiser as to where he was the past few days—and the one he was able to find in the Underground didn’t have a single bullet to its name.

He could also potentially use that upgrade he got from Dr. Alphys, but for one thing that drains thirium at a low rate and he needs to keep up his thirium if he’s going to survive this, and for another, he’s a little leery about using anything involving Dr. Alphys at the moment.

Not that he doesn’t trust her, but he doesn’t trust her. Maybe more time could change that, but Connor isn’t willing to wait around any longer.

It’s time to go. So, he walks through the door, and is greeted by Asgore with a trident in his hands, made perhaps out of the same yellow metal his armor is.

Attempting analysis…

Error Code 069: Unable to identify material.

Contact CyberLife for more information.

Still no internet connection, but based on what he knows… Asgore’s armor probably isn’t made of pyrite. Unfortunate. Pyrite’s brittle. It might be made of actual gold, and if it is, gold is less brittle but more easily reformed, and potentially more easily cut through. Hopefully. Assuming it’s not just a thin layer of gold covering something more substantial.

He meets Asgore’s gaze, and begins to preconstruct. His preconstruction software, being one of the few things CyberLife deemed completely essential on the unlikely chance he couldn’t connect to the internet at all, is working. Which is good, because he doesn’t think he would have survived Undyne without it.

He identifies the weak spots, then takes a step back as Asgore slams the hilt of his trident on the ground. Clear, cylindrical containers rise from the ground behind Asgore. There are… six of them. Each one glowing with a colored hue.

Each one with a soul inside it, and not a monster one.

He sees orange, yellow, green. Two different shades of blue, one the same as his own, and one much darker. Purple.

“You killed them,” Connor says, and it’s not a question.

Wordlessly, and with no small amount of regret in his eyes, Asgore nods. Hefts his trident, and replies, “Now is your last chance to turn back.”

“Never.”