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“Don’t overdo it on the snails,” Frisk says, and their voice is fond, teasing.

“I won’t,” says Toriel, her smile trembling. Her reading glasses rest on the bridge of her nose in preparation for their bedtime story – their very last bedtime story. Years prior, after hearing from Sans about his and Papyrus’s nightly ritual, Frisk had excitedly demanded to receive bedtime stories of their own from Toriel. She had been delighted to oblige, and had read to them nightly ever since.

“Don’t let Undyne forget your cooking lessons and start another house on fire.”

Toriel laughs a little at this. “You have my word.”

“Don’t ever stop sharing your jokes with everyone.” Frisk laughs softly. “They’re the best kind of bad there is.”

Toriel nods, another tear slipping down her cheek. To her surprise, Frisk suddenly beckons her down closer. Toriel bends down, tilting her ear toward them.

“But mostly… keep an eye on Sans, ok? He’s always trying so hard, even though he’d never admit it, to make sure everyone else is having a good time… He’s not good at taking care of himself. He never tells anyone when something is wrong, either. And he never does the kinds of things I know he really wants to do.” Frisk hesitates. “He’s just… afraid. Afraid to try.” Frisk looks up at Toriel. “But… I think he’ll be okay, eventually…”

Toriel squeezes Frisk’s hand tenderly. “I promise I will look out for him for as long as I shall live.”

Frisk smiles, squeezing her hand in return, weak though their grasp is. I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, my child,” she murmurs, willing her voice not to break on the words. She nuzzles Frisk’s cheek gently and then steps away from the bed.

Papyrus is the next to approach, and Frisk puts on their best approximation of a grin. “Aw, Papyrus… don’t cry.”

Papyrus has the biggest tears Frisk has ever seen gushing down his cheeks. Frisk still doesn’t understand how a skeleton has tear-ducts – but they don’t question it anymore, either. “I’M… NOT… CRYING… I AM SIMPLY… CLEANING MY EYESOCKETS…?!?”

Frisk laughs, touching the tall skeleton’s red glove. “So that’s how you get them to sparkle the way they do,” they tease gently.

Papyrus attempts to say something about this, but it comes out as a blubber and then a wail. “SANS SAYS… WE SHALL MEET AGAIN SOMEDAY… BUT THE GREAT PAPYRUS WILL MISS YOU BEFORE THEN…!!!” Frisk swallows a lump in their throat, and gestures to Papyrus for a hug. Despite his vehement nature, Papyrus has long-since learned how to be appropriately gentle with humans. He curls his spindly arms around Frisk and cries into their neck for a few moments.

“The waiting isn’t easy,” says Frisk, gently rubbing Papyrus’s shoulder blades, “but that’s why it’s a good thing you’re such a strong and brave skeleton, huh? Make sure Undyne doesn’t cry her eyeball out when I’m gone, okay?” There’s a vague sound of STRONG protest off in the corner, which makes Frisk smile again.

Papyrus steps back and gives Frisk a completely serious salute, which only comes off as completely comical. “Love you Pap,” they say.

“I LOVE YOU TOO, FRISK!!!” Papyrus then removes himself from the bedside, burying his face in his scarf and blowing his non-existent nose into it as Sans pats his thigh comfortingly.

Raspily muttering something that sounds suspiciously like “will NOT cry my eyeball out”, Undyne takes uncharacteristically hesitant steps to take her to Frisk’s side. Frisk winks at her playfully, and Undyne’s scowl soon melts into a lop-sided grin. “Undyne, don’t let Asgore forget his political commitments while he’s busy gardening—” an embarrassed coughing fit starts up off to one side “--and make sure Alphys doesn’t forget what the sun looks like, now that you guys can finally see it, ok?” (This elicits a tiny squeak and a “h-hey!”)

Undyne gives him a wide, fanged grin, putting her hands on her hips smugly. “Don’t worry, Frisk, I’ll take real good care of Alphy! We like beach dates, y’know? It’s so freakin’ hot in the summer that it reminds her of Hotland, and I get t’ swim all I want!”

Frisk laughs quietly. “You guys found the best of both worlds.

Undyne’s grin softens around the edges, and she reaches down to ruffle Frisk’s hair, her clawed hand firm but gentle. “And you brought two worlds together, Frisk. It’d never have happened without you.”

Frisk gives her a weak punch to the hip. “Wouldn’t have happened without you guys, either. All together, right?” Undyne’s composure seems to suddenly crumble again at the world ‘together,’, and she ducks her gaze for a moment. “Take care, Undyne. I love you.”

Undyne blushes a bright color under her scales, just like she always has at those three little words, but she manages to look back up at Frisk anyway. “Love ya too, punk.”

Alphys, Frisk encourages to continue being passionate about the things she loves just as she always has – but to never let Mew Mew Kissy Cutie get in the way of helping her friends when they need her.

Asgore, they give the task of watching over and protecting everyone – an absent-minded king he might be, but his fatherly tendencies are strong and warm, and his heart has grown fiercely strong in the years since they all shared in an adventure in the underground.

The very last to approach is Sans.

“Hey, Sans,” Frisk says with a smile, though their voice has grown much weaker since they spoke to Toriel some minutes ago now.

“hey, buddy,” and though Sans’s grin is the same as ever, his tone is the softest Frisk as ever heard it. The skeleton tugs a nearby stool close to the bed and hoists himself onto it. “usually undyne’s absorbing water, not leaking it. that’s pretty impressive.” He winks at Frisk as Undyne grumbles. Frisk laughs, more of a whisper than a sound, and closes their eyes. They hold their hand out towards Sans, and after a short pause, Sans takes it.

“Sans,” Frisk says quietly. “It’s all going to be over, now.” If their eyes were still open, they’d have seen a remarkably startled expression on their friend’s face.

“what’s over, kid?” he asks hesitantly.

It never ceases to amuse them that Sans still calls them “kid” after all this time. “You don’t have to be afraid anymore,” they answer solemnly, and they can feel Sans’s grip on their hand tighten involuntarily. Their words are so quiet now that no one else in the room can hear. “The last piece of the anomaly is being put to rest. Flowey, Chara… they’re both gone… and now, I will be too.” Frisk finally opens their eyes again, and for a moment, Sans can see in their eyes how much it hurts them – has hurt them, all these years – to know the part they played in the events that took the joy out of Sans’s life.

“kid, that’s not – i haven’t still been worrying about that,” Sans tries in a light-hearted tone, but Frisk shakes their head immediately, though their head barely moves on the pillow.

“It’s okay, Sans. That’s not the kind of thing you can just get over…” They smile, and it’s a smile so bittersweet Sans feels his heart twist almost in half. “There are some things that just don’t go away. I know.” They squeeze his hand gently. “You’ve had to be brave about it for so long, so no one else had to worry…” Sans almost protests that he isn’t brave – that all he’s really done is run away from it all this time, that he avoids caring and trying so he doesn’t have to hurt. Almost. “But it’s going to be all right,” Frisk continues. “Everything will be okay now. That’s why…” They pause, and it’s clear it’s becoming more difficult for them to draw in enough air. “That’s why… I won’t make you promise anything… I think you’ve had enough of promises, haha… but that’s why… I’d really like it if you could let yourself do more, now… I remember the quantum physics books you kept… and Papyrus used to tell me how much you love sci-fi stuff… and that telescope you had… You can do all of those things now… no one is gonna take them away from you…”

Sans doesn’t even bother trying to stop the tears that roll out of his eyesockets. Now, now of all times, trying to pretend he doesn’t care would perhaps be the most foolish thing he could do. “aw, kid,” he says, and he bows his head against Frisk’s hand, still clasping it tightly. “promise or no promise, you know i can’t say no to you. so this time, i’ll make the promise myself – i promise i’ll give it all i got. You were right.. . as usual, heh. all this time, no matter how much i wanted to... couldn’t shake it. couldn’t shake thinkin’ it’d just be… gone, one day. back to the beginning.”

“It really is okay, Sans,” Frisk says, and their gentle, eternal understanding only makes Sans cry all the more. “I’m just sad I never got to see you do the things you loved most. But I like the idea of getting to watch you do it now, from up there…” They close their eyes again, and for the first time in all of the conversations, it’s now Frisk that’s crying. “I hope I can. I don’t want to go there before everyone else… I’m scared, Sans. I know I shouldn’t be, I know I’ll see you all again, and that everything is supposed to be good there… but I’m scared anyway…”

This time, Sans really does feel as though his heart has split in half. “i think you’re allowed to be scared of a big unknown like this,” he says at last. “and just think… you’ll be able to take good care of asriel now, eh? you were the one who said he was kinda a crybaby… he probably can’t wait to see you.”

Frisk laughs, a watery sound, and wipes their eyes with a trembling hand. “Yeah,” they say, sounding the faintest bit relieved. “Yeah, you’re right.” They squeeze his hand again, and look up at him tiredly. “Thanks, Sans. I love you.”

“i love you too, frisk,” Sans says back, and it’s the closest he’s gotten to outright sobbing in a very, very long time.

Frisk settles back into their pillow, seeming content at last. They turn towards Toriel now, though they do not release Sans’s hand from their grip.

“Hey, Mom… I think I’m ready for that bedtime story now.”

Toriel sits down in her favorite rocking chair beside them, and does her very best to keep the tremors from her voice as she reads.

When at last Frisk’s hand finally goes limp and slips out of Sans’s, everyone in the room falls silent for a long moment, waiting, hoping for one more breath from a chest that has ceased to rise and fall. Then heads bow and the crying begins in earnest, and Toriel buries her face in the back of Sans’s hoodie.

No one cries louder than Sans.

But he is resolved now.

His self-made promise to Frisk, and the thought of the kid who saved them all watching over him from somewhere up in the sky as the long-wandering skeleton finally decides to give living life a second chance, fills Sans with determination.