The sun was brighter than they remembered.
One week had passed since Asriel had broken the barrier. Monsters had spent most of it celebrating, going outside, many for the first time, marveling at the world around them.
The King - accompanied by Frisk and the taller, weirder skeleton - had since made contact with the government of the nearby city. Not the small town they’d remembered. Small and miserable and cruel. It was better off gone.
Frisk had been staying with Asgore and Toriel in New Home, in the meantime, but the others they’d befriended had been a constant regardless. Everyone was too excited to stay in one place. Well, barring the shorter, more intimidating skeleton.
There were times they were almost certain he could see them. But it was probably more intuition that anything. And yet...he could do things other monsters couldn’t, would it really be so far fetched to believe he could see a ghost?
Staying in their old room brought back many memories. Some good, most bad. And after hearing their brother’s musings to Frisk about their own morality...well, they’d since refrained from visiting that ‘flower’ with their living companion.
Those days were always lonely. Frisk liked spending time with him, despite his protests, so they’d be gone for hours. And exploring the old house only served to depress them further.
So, they waited. In the bedroom. They supposed they could always explore elsewhere, but the entire Underground was in a joyous upheaval, and they just honestly didn’t have the energy. Determination was a funny thing.
They’d already been alone for several hours when the voice of their mother filled the hall outside the door. Then, another. Louder. So loud, in fact, they could hear him clearly.
“THEN I WILL AWAIT THEIR RETURN! THANK YOU, SANS’ DOOR FRIEND!”
The door creaked open in time to allow the goat monster’s soft chuckle to echo into the small room. The brash skeleton following shortly. He closed the door mindfully, strolling into the room and choosing to sit on the bed across from their own.
He glanced around mildly, crossing his legs at the ankle and pulling his knees to his chest. Truly, the monster could’ve been fifteen or thirty. A genuine enigma. But at least he was amusing from time to-
“THANK YOU FOR GUIDING FRISK. YOU HELPED BREAK THE BARRIER, TOO!”
His eyes fell directly on them, there was no chance it was coincidence. But how...?
“IT MUST BE VERY DIFFICULT TO HAVE NO ONE ELSE TO TALK TO. WHICH IS WHY I’VE DECIDED TO OFFER YOU MY FANTASTIC AND SUPER COOL FRIENDSHIP, AS WELL!!”
Their face was frozen in disbelief, staring back at the wide smile beaming at them.
“You...you can see me?”
Folding his legs down, he puffed his chest out proudly, “NYES! BUT AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, FRISK WANTS YOU TO BE A SECRET! SO I PROMISE NOT TO TELL ANYONE!!”
“You can hear me...” placing a hand to their temple, they tried to focus through the shock, “you could hear me the whole time?”
A sheepish disposition possessed the monster as he tapped his mittened pointer fingers together.
“YES...BUT IT DIDN’T SEEM LIKE ANYONE BESIDES THE HUMAN FRISK COULD, SO I FIGURED IT WAS...FOR THE BEST NOT TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT!”
Confidence returning, his smile was at full force yet again, “SANS NEVER BELIEVES ME ABOUT THIS SORT OF THING ANYWAY!”
Sitting back on their free hand, they watched the rug. Somehow, they’d missed something crucial. Papyrus could see them, and not Sans...perhaps there was more to his ridiculous behaviors than originally thought.
“You’ve seen others like me?”
Smile faltering, his expression wasn’t dissimilar to the one he wore when they’d been captured by Flowey. But only for an instant.
“SORT OF...? NOT...NOT REALLY.” It was gone again, replaced by his usual broad smile, “IT CERTAINLY IS QUITE EXCITING TO MEET TWO HUMANS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!”
A strained laugh escaped them. It was almost inconceivable. Yet here they were.
“Do you know...who I am?”
Smiling impossibly brighter, he pointed a finger to the ceiling, “A DEAD HUMAN!”
Watching him incredulously, there was almost relief to be found in that answer. They were getting back to more familiar territory.
“Well, you’re not incorrect.”
He seemed pleased with himself as he clasped his hands together over his lap, watching them with unreadable eyes. Actually, maybe it made sense it was him.
“I meant my name.” The words seemed slower as they actually fell into the air. Anonymity would work in their favor, what if he knew of them? Would he change his mind about keeping their secret? Why would they...
“RIGHT, OF COURSE! WHO ARE YOU?
They could lie. Make up a name. Even if he didn’t know who they were it was still a risk, should their name come up elsewhere.
“My name is Chara.”
Chest taut, the name was almost drawn out of them. After so many years, so many resets, they’d almost forgotten. It felt more like thinking out loud than talking. It felt...good.
“CHARA? EXCELLENT! CONGRATULATIONS, CHARA, YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SOMETHING MARVELOUS TODAY! BECOMING MY FRIEND!!”
In an unexpected burst of motion, the skeleton hopped off his claimed mattress and scurried to theirs, sitting beside them with as much excitement as you’d expect from a puppy.
“WOWIE!! TWO NEW HUMAN FRIENDS!!! THIS ALMOST MAKES UP FOR NOT GETTING INTO THE ROYAL GUARD!”
A patronizing smile worked its way on to their face as they shifted sideways, looking over the odd monster. While he was amusing, to a degree, he was almost exhausting just to be around.
Narrowing their eyes, they scanned his face, but no flicker of anything telling revealed itself. His eye sockets were dark, almost vacant behind his cheerful facade.
Perhaps this timeline wouldn’t be so boring after all.
Without warning, his grin faltered as he glanced back over his shoulder, only to return with his focus on them.
“FRISK IS ALMOST BACK! BUT WE SHOULD HANG OUT AGAIN SOON!! I CAN SHOW YOU THE PLACES IN WATERFALL THAT YOU MISSED BEFORE!” Back on his feet in an instant, they floated up to speak at eye level.
They’d probably already seen wherever he was talking about on a previous run, but regardless, “Alright. I suppose a change of scenery would be...nice.”
It was astounding that he could smile so exaggeratively without cracking his own skull. However, he confused them once more by holding his arms out on either side of them, like an invitation. A memory flittered across their mind at the familiarity of the scene.
“I KNOW YOU CAN’T FEEL IT, SO JUST PRETEND I’M HUGGING YOU!”
A pang struck them, salt in a wound. Clenching their hands, they attempted a teasing smirk, but their furrowed brows gave way the vague guilt toying at their soul.
The sound of Toriel’s voice shortly preceded the footsteps headed for the room. Papyrus blinked one last acknowledgement to them before hurrying back to the other bed and focusing on the door.
The sun was brighter than they remembered.
Maybe, a lot of things were different than they remembered.