Actions

Work Header

Loving Every Bone in Your Body

Chapter Text

        Basically reader insert through Pre, during, and Post pacifist run.

        I’m putting everything I've ever wanted to read in reader-inserts in this one fic.

        I’m not joking.

        Reader with emotional, physical, and mental battles. Reader going through depression that “goes away” only to come back at bad times. Reader dying multiple times. Reader just needing a big fluffy hug from Tori SO. BAD. Strong language. Reader having punny humor. Reader going into the Underground with Frisk. They/Them Frisk. Reader messing up timelines sort of.  Sans. ….Ye-Sans. Fluster-puff Sans. SLOW burn. Reader using cheesy pickup lines that are equivalent to sans puns, but being SO oblivious to his coming-ons. FLUFF. A lot of Soul stuff. Soulfluff, soulmates, soulmusic, soulsoul-... True Pacifist run but Chara trying to mess up Frisk but them being too Determined to listen. Multiple resets. Reader bonding with Frisk. Reader bonding with everyone tbh. Monster’s integrating into society. The Above world not being as it’s all cracked up to be as the monsters want. Sans with nightmares. Reader with nightmares. Passive aggressive PTA Sans. Bullied Frisk. Scientific breakthroughs. Reader being a teacher at Torial’s school. Having the main cast being a cute fam with reader.  Plus much, muuuch more.

        (heart, wink, kissey face)


Arc 1 : The Main Game

        One minute, you were lazily relaxing on a fluffy blue cloud in a green sky, talking to a smiling red ceramic mug about why phones should be made of cabbage and mildly spicy tartar sauce, and the next you're staring at your real life quilt covered lap, looking at your hands in hazy wonder in the darkness of your real room.

        You were… awake now? You were still trying to clear your clouded mind, watching your hands curl and uncurl over and over. One second you were in a deep sleep, and then another second you're sitting bolt right in your bed. It was like you stood up too quickly and blood rushed to your head and you refused to sit down to recover.

        To ground yourself, you took in the navy blue walls around you, the large window that overlooked the trashy alley between you and the apartment complex, the curtains that were a dingy white and probably needed to be changed a long time ago, and the patterned quilt wrapped around you, made up of different colorful patches. There was the soft humming of the air condition, your heavy breathing, the ticking of the clock next to you, crickets outside, and the couple cars zooming down the main road that ran through town.

        Feeling a bit more awake, your eyes drifted to your bedside clock. You woke up long before your alarm set off.

        Which was new and weird.

        You were the type of person that could sleep for hours unhindered, why you needed said alarm to wake you up at a humane hour. Yet, here you were looking around your sunrise colored room, still a bit dazed from suddenly sitting up. Checking to make sure it was early morning and not late evening, you watch the sun slowly crawl up the sky behind a couple of dark clouds.
        What.. were you supposed to do? You didn’t feel tired enough to go back to sleep, but you had never been awake this early before. There wasn't anything to do. Normally, when you got up normally, you’d wake your younger sibling and then make breakfast for them, help them get ready for school and then chill out until your classes in the afternoon. Yet, today you and the kid were on break, and breakfast wouldn’t be for another - your head rolled to check the red digital clock again - 3 more hours.

        Maybe this was a good thing. You could get working on a project you had to get done by the end of your break.

        …

        Pfft. You might’ve done the crazy thing of waking up early, but you weren’t insane. You knew you should do your project but you were also pretty sure your name was Procrastinator. You went by your middle name with friends.

        ...4 am made you loopy and unfunny.

        You know what else is unfunny? The loud crash of metal from the kitchen echoing in your silent house. The sudden bang made you jump and almost fall right off of your bed if not for the heavy quilt wrapped around your body, keeping you safely in place.
        “What the hell…” You slowly stood, grabbing up your baseball bat from under your bed. It was stained in a couple areas, making it your 12th grade trophy from the time you took on a couple other high schoolers that were picking on your sibling after your baseball game, back when they were in Pre-K. Yeah, people sucked, and your trusty metal bat was proof.

        The banging happened a couple more times, snapping you out of reminiscing so you could slowly sneak your way out of your room.
        The house, like it should be at 4 in the morning, was almost pitch black if not for the purples and pinks that danced around from the slow sunrise. You would’ve taken a picture of the beautiful light if you weren’t scared that a robber, or worse, a confused drunkard, was in your kitchen.

        Slowly padding down the hall, bat at the ready over your shoulder, like you had done all throughout middle and high school, your ears were out for any more noises indicating who was raiding your place.

        “...F-..FuCK..!” You froze. Just as you had made it to the kitchen, your hand stilled on the doorknob at the familiar voice. You stiffened briefly before your shoulders sagged and the bat swung gently down to rest it’s head on the floor. “Sh-Shit…” The voice slurred again, immediately being followed by another bang. In response your body shook with a sigh. It just had to be a confused drunk idiot waltzing around so early in the morning. Honestly, now knowing who it was, you didn’t want to go confront them. You didn’t want to have anything to do with them, in fact.

        “Mmhn!” A body ran into your legs, making your eyes dart from the creaky kitchen door to a head of messy brown hair. You sighed again, kneeling down to be the 3rd graders height. You set your bat down so you could rest both of your hands on their shoulders.

        “Hey bud, what’re you doing up so early?” Your voice was gentle and quiet, hoping to not alert the woman in your kitchen that her kids were up.

        “I heard loud noises,” The kid signed with their tired hands. You could barely make them out in the dark light.

        “Don’t worry kid, it’s just mom making breakfast.” They pouted, sadly not tired enough to take your quick bs explanation.

        “It’s four in the morning.

        “She just really cares.” At that, you both snorted. Funny joke. “I’m going to put her to bed, but first, let’s get you there, ‘kay?” The kid’s lips quirked into a small smile as they nodded, reaching for your hand.

        “__-_______? Frisk?” You both froze, your own stomach churning in dread. Like deer in headlights, neither of you thought to run or scatter when the kitchen door opened and a women loomed over both of you.

        This lady, who was practically a stranger now, used to be who you called mom. She looked like you two enough, the same coloring at least, that anyone would think it was obvious, but you and Frisk couldn’t see it anymore. Her brown hair that usually fell below her shoulder was greying and frizzy, shooting off in all directions, trying to escape the bun at the top of her head. Her golden skin was now dull and covered in stains from food or drinks. Long ago she stopped caring for herself, and the smell that wafted from her was vomit inducing.  

        “Wh-” She hiccuped. “What’re you two do...doing out here?” The women tilted, having to use the doorway as support so she wouldn’t fall in her dizzy haze. You stood immediately, facing her off and nudging Frisk further behind you, not like they needed the reminder. Frisk had already scurried behind your leg, hugging it tightly in fear.

        “Not much. What about you? What’re you doing in the kitchen?” She glared down at you.

        “None of your damn business.” You rolled your eyes.

        “I mean, it sorta is. You woke me and Frisk up at 4 in the fu- freaking morning.” You slipped, almost cursing in front of Frisk. You tried your best to curb your language around them, even when you were pissed.

        The woman ruffled, looking like you had said something offensive instead of stating a fact.

        “Don’t talk to me like that!” She pointed a clawed finger at you, stumbling forward. You batted her hand away gently with an eye roll, unaffected. She was like this commonly enough, so you became numb to it.

        “Yeah, yeah.” You say softly, reaching out a hand to set on her shoulder. “Let’s get you to bed, okay?”

        “No-”

        “You need to sleep. You aren’t okay right now.”

        “Don’t-”

        “When you wake up I can make you food or something. You just-”

        “I said don’t talk to me like that!” She yelled once more before your head suddenly whipped to the side.

        You were stunned.

        The slap rang out a couple seconds later, like you were watching a video and the audio was delayed. Your cheek began stinging, slowly turning into a painful throb. You blink, not really sure how to act.

        She had never hit you before.

        Yeah, she was terrifying, angry, always loud and yelling, teetering on her own feet with a look like she could rip your throat out, but she had never hit you or Frisk. Never. That wasn't her role between her and him.

        “M-Mn!” You leg was hugged hard, being shaken back and forth by a trembling kid. They snapped you out of your stupor.

        Slowly, you looked back to your mom, who was sticking her nose in the air like a pompous asshole.

        “Ungrateful kid…” She murmured to herself before slamming the kitchen door, hiding away in the room for some damn reason you didn’t know of. Thankfully, you had taken anything sharp from the small cooking area years ago, because she always went there to hide when she was having her ‘moments’. Be it a drunk, drugged, sleepy, or anxiety ridden moment, she always hid away in the kitchen.

        Your attention was pulled down by Frisk when they tugged hard at your night shirt.

        “Are you okay?” You blink slowly before giving a nod that was immediately followed by another more reassuring one.

        “Yeah i’m… i’m okay… You?” Frisk just shrugged, still looking you over in worry. Not satisfied, Frisk took your hand and lead you down the rest of the hall and dragged you into their room.

        Sitting on Frisk’s bed, you watched as they ran off again, leaving you in the dim light.

        It would’ve been pitch black if not for the soft purple light that washed over everything. It was from a nightlight you had bought them for their birthday last year. You could see their wall of drawings across from the foot of the bed, most of them showed you and them, but a couple were of Frisk and their mom. Those drawings, were only in grey and black crayons, never as colorful as the ones with you in it. You knew it was on purpose.  

        Other than the drawing wall, the dresser filled with multiple hemmed striped onesies, and the book shelf, there wasn’t much else. Frisks room was small, much smaller than yours. Mostly because your room was where your dad used to stay before he abandoned both of you. You had immediately taken it over so Frisk could have their own room instead of sharing the small space with you. Also, because dad’s room had been across from moms and you didn’t want Frisk anywhere near her. Was it an excuse to have the large room to yourself? Honestly, no. You could care less what your room size, it wasn’t like you had a ton of stuff that needed a bigger room to hold it anyway. You were only living in it during the short times you weren’t spending at your college down the road.

        Something cold and wet brushed your hurt cheek and you hissed in pain.

        “Mm.” Frisk was sitting on your lap now, having climbed up so they could get close enough, a wet rag in their hand. You thought the slap was just going to make your cheek swollen, but when Frisk’s rag came back with red spots, you realized it wasn’t just a simple hit. The women's bony knuckles must’ve cut your cheek and busted your lip. The blood probably was the reason Frisk had been so freaked out. Who knew the withered hag had so much strength left in her. Had to be the alcohol.

        “I’m fine kiddo,” You smile gently at them, trying to ease their worry. It didn’t even hurt that much, more of a dull hum, you noted.

        Frisk didn’t sign to you, too preoccupied by gesturing to you to hold the rag to your cheek as they fished around in a first aid kit they found who knows where. They pulled out disinfectant and bandages, looking ready to overuse both. Yet, as you watched them, they skillfully used the disinfectant properly on a cotton swab, dabbing it where your skin broke, before sticking a large bandage on your cheek and a butterfly shaped one on your lip. You wanted to believe that they were taught this at school, but your heart sunk at the more realistic reason: they used this kit more than often enough on themselves. You wish it wouldn’t be weird for a college student to follow a 3rd grader around their classes, threatening any bullies or ignorant teachers if they tried to say something to the kid.

        “Do you feel better?” Frisk kissed your cheek before leaning back to look over their work. You smiled kindly at them, running a hand through their hair.

        “I feel perfect. Much better knowing I have the best doctor this town has ever seen.” The kid laughed, and then suddenly shot up, turning on you so you could see their hands fully.

        “Can I take your temperature?” You give Frisk a look, feeling like you know what they're about to say. You play along.

        “Sure, Why doc?”

        “Because you’re looking hot today.” The both of you stare the other down before you snort and Frisk falls into giggles.

        “That was a good one, i’ll give you that. Oh, Frisk,” You touch your cheek. “Do you have another band-aid?” The kids face falls.

        “Are you still hurt?” You tried hard to suppress your smile.

        “Well… It’s just, I think I scraped it again when I fell for you.” Frisk falls back, laughing. You join, happy that they learned well. You were so bad about your horrible pick up lines and crappy puns, and you were glad the kid picked up on your humor quite some time ago. You were so proud the kid was just as bad as you now.

        Shifting in your lap, they curl up against you after settling down.

        “Hey,” They signed slowly, holding their small golden hand up high enough that you could see it as you stroked their hair and set your cheek on their head.

        “Yeah?” Frisk’s hand hesitated, and it took a drawn out 10 minutes before the kid continued with their thought.

        “...Why don’t you live in the dorms at your school?” You hummed, acting like you didn’t already know the exact reason, like you weren’t making up a quick lie.

        “ ‘Cause my bed here is sooo much comfier, I don’t have to share my room with anyone, the schools in walking distance, and i get to see my favorite kid every morning.” Frisk nodded against your shoulder, but you knew they weren’t taking you seriously. They knew you better than to believe those things were the real reason you stayed in this horrible house.

        Frisk was sometimes too perceptive.

        Sunlight, real orange and yellow sunlight and not the odds sunrise colors, finally filled the room and you took it as queue for the miniature cuddle session to be over. Frisk, also thinking this, hopped off of your lap.

        “I’m hungry.” You nodded heavily, standing and popping your back with a much needed stretch.

        “Same. What you feeling up for?” Deciding to take the lead, just in case the lady was wandering the halls or was still in the kitchen.

        “Pancakes! Wait, Waffles!.... Eggs and bacon!” God, Frisk was too cute. They, still debating about what they wanted, reached up to ball their hand in the back of your night shirt, making you feel like a mama duck. You inched the door open, looking in all directions to make sure the lady wasn’t in the kitchen before you and Frisk slipped in.

        It was 5:52 a.m.

        You nudged them towards a seat at the island as you immediately went to the fridge to check exactly what you guys had, but you knew there wasn’t going to be much. That women didn’t have a job or money, and even if she did she wouldn’t be using it on the upkeep of the house, supplying food, or paying bills, she’d waste it all on bottles and cans of shitty beer. No, you were the one with three different jobs that you somehow squished in between classes, making the money to keep Frisk housed and belly full. Which reminded you, you needed to call your bosses up to confirm the end of your break date. Frisk had talked you into taking off of work to spend time with them, since neither of you had school for the week. Since you worked so much, and your bosses seemed to like you fair enough, it was going to be a paid time off, luckily.

        You shut the fridge with a sigh. In your hurry to finish up the last of your online class assignments so you could be completely free of school work, other than a single, easy, project, you had forgotten to hit the store yesterday. Meaning anything in the fridge was beers, curdled milk, and maybe some moldy somethings in the very back.

        “You know what? Who wants to eat breakfast anyway?” You shifted to the cabinets, pulling out a stash of sweets that you stowed away in shitty cereal boxes that you knew Frisk was to short to reach and your mom hated enough not to check.

        Frisk clapped, bouncing in their seat in excitement as you dumped out the goods on the counter.

        “Step one to having an amazing break, not eating real food.” Frisk laughed, scooping up a handful of cookies to start eating as you unwrapped one of your favorite candies.

        "Step two is eating out.” You snort.

        “Duh. We’ll go out to eat, just you and me, then we’ll hit a store on the way back.” They nodded, busying themselves with eating as you scarfed down a couple more pieces yourself before standing. “Imma go get the mail,” You say offhandedly, hurrying to the front door.

        Slipping on your black boots and wrapping your sweater tightly around you, you lean out into the cold fall air to open the mailbox stuck to the front of the house. You pulled out a couple envelopes and curled magazines before ducking back in with a shiver. Fall was pretty bad at the base of Mt. Ebott, which annoyed you to no end. Dad said it was going to be warm, since it was at the base and not actually on the mountain, but it still got quite cold. Back in Maryland, the weather never got this cold, even in winter.

        “Nn.” The common Frisk noise made you hurry back to the kitchen, looking the cookie crumb covered kid with a raised brow.

        “Hold it chief, where's the fire? I step out to get the mail and your already crumbling.” Frisk tried to keep a straight face, but was quickly succumbed to the same giggling fit you had found yourself in.

        You sat back on your stool next to the kid, shifting through the mail as Frisk finished up almost half of your sweet supply. You remind yourself to stock back up, and also keep an eyes on it since Frisk now knew where you kept it all. Maybe they weren’t tall enough, but Frisk was a smart cookie, pun intended, and they’d find some way to make it to the stash.

        Junk, Junk, Beauty Magazine, Science magazine, Coupons, News Magazine, Junk, Bills, Dad, More Bills, More jun-

        Wait. What? Dad?

        You pause, flipping back a couple letters to pull out the one labeled ‘Dad’. You frown at it, glancing to Frisk to make sure the kid wasn’t reading over your shoulder. Luckily, Frisk was too busy sorting the candy wrappers, matching them with their true pair.

        Using your nail, you sliced open the envelope and slipped out the folded parchment.

        ‘Dear _______,’ Your frown grew heavier. Why was the letter only addressed to you?

        Well, okay, with common sense you could gather why. Mom was too out of it to really handle herself, much less the simple task of mail reading, and Frisk was just a babe when Dad left you all (you weren’t even sure if the kid ever remembered having a dad. Depressingly, but briefly, you wondered if Frisk was bullied at school for not having a dad like the others). Of course he sent it to you, you were practically the adult of the house now with your mom out of order.

        Looking back to the letter, you sigh. It was short, but much longer than any letter you had even received from the bastard since he vanished.

        ‘Dear _______,
        I would like to inform you that my Will will be sent to you by my lawyer in a week’s time, along with an envelope of cash that I feel will compensate for my absence during your schooling and I hope you’ll use the cash towards it, if you’re still going through with college, that is. You should be in your last year, correct?
        I’m at a place that will help with my...Anger, far from you. I haven’t once lashed out at anyone since I left and I've been doing pretty well. I must mention that I will not be coming back, but i’m sure you have gathered that by now.
        Please tell that monster of a women I used to call a wife, and that you used to call a mother, if you even still live with the beast, that her parents have signed her side of their inheritance over to me and she’ll be receiving nothing.
        Since I know you are already thinking about it, I’ll settle your questions now. Nothing in my will states that it is for your sibling. Fisck, was it? I know that they are your sibling and that knowing you, you probably think of them practically as your own, but I still cannot consider them apart of my family. I am not stopping you from giving anything in my will to them, you can even give everything to that child, but inform them it is from you and not me. In fact, if they could be kept in the dark about me, if they don’t already know, that would be for the best.

        Sincerely, Your Father once’

        By the time you read the entire letter, you were trembling. In anger or from struggling to hold back tears, you weren’t quite sure. He had the damn nerve to think this letter was any where near okay! It was so… so cut off! Like he was writing a letter to a business acquaintance. That's exactly what this was, wasn’t it? Business.

        Frisk’s soft hand landed on your arm, rubbing it in worry. You tried to relax, for them, but you couldn’t get the swelling madness in your chest to go away. They noticed. Of course they noticed. They gave you furrowed brows, gesturing to the letter now crumpled in your fist.

        “It’s just… Bill's mom forgot to get payed. I’ll work it out, no worries.” You ruffled their head of hair, bringing a smile back to their face.

        “Wanna go play outside?” Frisk jumped up from their seat, already running off to grab warmer clothes than their pajamas. You stand, ready to follow, but the letter reminds you that you still have things to sort out.

        You meet the kid at the door. They have on a thin black turtleneck and black pants, pulling on their hemmed onesie over it all. The onesie was denim blue with two magenta stripes over the middle and on the sleeves. Frisk made you cut the pant legs half way, so that they ended at their knees instead of their ankles. Since then, the kid wore it over everything they had.

        Kneeling, you helped them zip up the hemmed onesie, along with pulling on their winter boots.

        “You go on out first, okay? I gotta make some calls about this, uh, bill… First.” I’ll be out there soon enough. Come in if you get cold though.” Frisk looked a little put out that you wouldn’t be joining them immediately, but nodded slowly. They took a long glance to the letter in your hand before jogging outside. You give a wave before shutting the door.

        You breath out, leaning heavily on the oaken door for support.

        You had a single week left. After your break ended, you only had a single week of classes and then you would graduate. Then, you could take Frisk and finally leave that hell hole. You could get a real job instead of your three that weren’t created to sustain a proper living. You could get them into a better school that wouldn’t be so ignorant and asinine about their special case, a warm home for them where they wouldn’t be scared to leave their room by themselves, where they didn’t need to fear any adults in their own house.

        You make your way back to your room so you can grab your cell phone and dial the number you weren’t even sure still worked.

        While the line rang, you walked to living room to take a seat on the couch.

        “Hello,” The deep voice almost made you jump.

        “Hey, this is-”

        “This is -------’s cell, since I didn’t pick up i’m most likely working, sleeping, or in a class. Call me at my home phone-” You hung up before your dad's voice mail could finish. There was no way you were going to leave a message, nor were you going to try his house. You didn’t want whoever was living with him to pick up and try speaking to you. Maybe he lived alone, or maybe he didn’t. If he lived alone, you still didn’t want to leave a message if he wasn’t there to pick up. If he lived with someone...A number of thoughts of him having a lover made you feel queasy and sick. It wasn’t like you ever wanted him to get back with your momster, but you didn’t feel right knowing he was with someone else. That he… moved on so easily from you. Did he… have a new family? Already? After four years could he…have a new ki-

        You shook your head sternly. You couldn’t think of it like that. He had hit you, hit your mom, threatened Frisk-

        But…

        Just something in you couldn’t bring you to hate him. Your dad became a depressed, abusive drunk after your mother became-...Became sick. But he was only different for the four years before Frisk was born and after. Before that… he was… he was a dad. A kind, lovable, funny, dad. In fact, you couldn’t hate him, or your mom. The thought that your dad was trying to be better and left so he couldn’t hurt you, the fact that when your mom was sober she went to AA meetings… the little things she did, and how your dad was before he snapped… you remembered it all so vividly.

        Sometimes you were to kind for your own good.

        You were snapped out of you thinking state by the sound of the front door opening.

        “I’m going out…” You mother said, seemingly more put together than she did earlier this morning. Glancing to the clock, which read 12:07 p.m., you see you’ve been sitting in a trance for much longer than you would’ve liked. A six hour trance.

        “Okay.” You say offhandedly as you stood, stretching and popping your bones. When anything about your parents came up, your mind wandered, arguing with itself between being mad with them or being forgiving. Sometimes, you’ve sat for days in your own world.

        “Where’s Frisk?” Your mom had said something before that question, but your siblings name brought you back.

        “What? Oh uh… They went outside to play a while ago.” Six hours ago.

        “...I don’t see them.” Your eyes flickered up to your mom’s look. Her eyebrows knitted and worry seeping into her wrinkled forehead, you realized she was sober.

        “You don’t… uh. They’re probably around back. I’ll get them in too warm them up real quick while you’re gone.” She nodded slowly.

        The woman searched your face, either wondering if she should ask what she did while drunk, or searching for forgiveness because she remembered. Whichever one it was, she decided to keep quiet.

        “‘Kay Buttercup,” The nickname stung. “I’ll be in town. I’m… Not sure when i’ll be back.” Her sudden smile hurt. “Save some dinner for me, okay?” Her giggle pained you, and when she turned, you almost called for her. When the door shut, your outstretched hand flinched back and you gulped, trying to pull your emotions together.

        When she was sober, she was so recognizable.

        ...

        Panic flooded you like a train slamming into your chest.

        Six hours ago.

        Six. Hours. Ago.

        SIX.

        Why was Frisk still outside!?

        You had never changed so quickly in your entire life. Which was something since you always, always had a quick, ever changing, schedule.

        You were outside only a few minute later, your eyes darting in every direction to spot the 3rd grader.

        They couldn’t have gotten far, you rationalized as the cold wind bit harshly at your cheeks and nose as you ran around the house.

        You did four laps before you were satisfied that Frisk was not there, letting you make your way towards the woods.

        You knew the kid enough to know that they would never go to the city by themselves. That wasn’t an option for them. You went on and on about how dangerous it was alone, and they had gone through enough at that shitty school to know to never trust anyone but you. It was sad, but with how the town was, it settled most worries about the kid getting kidnapped or something, or trusting any of those snot nosed weasels their parents called ‘children’.

        The only place you could think of Frisk wondering off to would be the woods on the mountain. Either they created a fun game that included the use of the forest, was making a surprise for you, decided to take a walk...or maybe-

        You stopped the scary thought before it could form.

        Frisk? Never.

        Mt. Ebott wasn’t a very steep mountain. Yes, near the peak it was, but the base was a gradual incline, and wasn’t actually too bad for beginner hikers or people just on strolls. Sometimes you and Frisk would wander around, see what you could find. Find nature-wise, that is.

        There was no animal life of Mt. Ebott.

        No deer roamed the grassy patches, no birds flocked the trees, and no human went on trips there. It was like… Honestly it was like even the animals knew about the legend and decided it would be safer to go live in another place. Like the animals were to scared of-
        You stopped the scary thought, again.

        Those were legends. They weren’t… real.

        The reason animals weren’t around was most likely because there was such a loud city just next to it, or maybe people had over hunted and the animals left a long time ago and never returned.

        It couldn’t be because of some legend about “monsters” being sealed away, about how people said you’d “disappear” if you climbed far enough.

        Frisk would never have the thought to disappear. Everyday you made it a goal to make sure they were okay. That they never had to face the reality of how shitty your family was. Nothing… Nothing could’ve made them suddenly want to run away! You two had plans for the break! You two… Frisk wouldn’t…

        You hadn’t… failed… had you?

Chapter Text

        You search the mountain until it turns night.

        Frisk and your Mom never came home.

        You search the mountain and your house until the night of the next day.

        Frisk and your Mom are still gone.

        You search the mountain, your house, and the entire city until the end of your break.

        Frisk is still missing, your mom was found, dead in a hotel overdosed, your dad's will and check arrived hidden under a stack of unpaid bills, and your project was never finished.

        You search the mountain, the entire city, and neighboring cities for the rest of the month.

        Frisk is still missing, you didn’t go to your mom's funeral, you lost the house, you were fired from all three jobs, and your college dropped you for not showing up for your final exams or remakes.

        You continue to search.

        So easily, you had lost everything you remotely cared about.

        You now sat on a fallen tree, staring at your worn boots, trying to mend a broken finger after going too high on the mountain and slipping. You didn’t have anything proper to splint it, but you were sure twigs and the fabric from your shirt would work for the meantime.

        In the afternoon light, a camp was set up next to you in the glow of a miniature campfire, your makeshift home in the cold while you continued to search for Frisk.

        The police never tried to hard to look for the lost 3rd grader. Every claim you made they brushed off as your mother finally snapping, losing Frisk somewhere in the city on purpose, before killing herself.

        You knew that wasn’t it… because you lost Frisk. You should’ve gone outside with them… but instead you sat thinking. You sat for 6 damn hours thinking, and during that time Frisk disappeared off of the face of the Earth and your mother decided it would be better without her.

        You still searched. Searched for Frisk, for answers, for a reason not to go against yourself. You were so… so close to losing it.

        Your dad was happier without you. Your mom was happier without you. Frisk was happier without you. Your boss’s, and your college was happier without you.

        You...You were happier without you.

        But you couldn’t think like that for long, because as soon as the depressing thoughts seeped in, your mind went to Frisk and once again you busied yourself with searching.

        You were determined to find them. You were determined… to stay kind. You knew as soon as you began to lose your kindness and start hating yourself or others, you’d fall apart.

        As you wrapped yourself up in the same quilt that used to lay in your room, your eyes fluttering shut and your conscious leaving, you wish you could restart that first day over.

        Just...once.

        Maybe then you could get rid of the hurt and guilt you wallowed in. The… bleakness that clouded your vision, the panic you felt when you thought about your future, the heart wrenching pain that stabbed at you whenever you let your mind wander too much, which led to degrading yourself. Fill the hole that seared itself into you and made you feel empty.

        Let you do something other than wander endlessly.


        One minute, you were lazily relaxing on a fluffy blue cloud in a green sky, talking to a smiling red ceramic mug about why phones should be made of cabbage and mildly spicy tartar sauce, and the next you're staring at your real life quilt covered lap, looking at your hands in hazy wonder in the darkness of your real room.

        You were… awake now? You were still trying to clear your clouded mind, watching your hands curl and uncurl over and over. One second you were in a deep sleep, and then another second you're sitting bolt right in your bed. It was like you stood up too quickly and blood rushed to your head and you refused to sit down to recover.

        To ground yourself, you took in the navy blue walls around you, the large window that overlooked the trashy alley between you and the apartment complex, the curtains that were a dingy white and probably needed to be changed a long time ago, and the patterned quilt wrapped around you, made up of different colorful patches. There was the soft humming of the air condition, your heavy breathing, the ticking of the clock next to you, crickets outside, and the couple cars zooming down the main road that ran through town.
        Feeling a bit more awake, your eyes drifted to your bedside clock. You woke up long before your alarm set off.

        Which was new and unsettling.

        You were the type of person that could sleep for hours unhindered, why you needed said alarm to wake you up at a humane hour. Yet, here you were looking around your sunrise colored room, still a bit dazed from suddenly sitting up. Checking to make sure it was early morning and not late evening, you watch the sun slowly crawl up the sky behind a couple of dark clouds.

        What.. was going on? You felt like your thought process had already happened. You were having major deja-vu, like you could almost hear what you were supposed to be thinking about- what you were supposed to be doing so early in the morning- instead of noticing how similar this was. ...That might be because it’s your own mind and you thinking out what your saying beforehand. But it still felt odd and wrong.

        Just as you're about to think of what you're supposed to do at 4 a.m., a hesitant knock bounces on your door.

        Untangling yourself from your quilt, and making sure you’re decent underneath, you slowly creep to the door.

        A tiny bit of you worried it was going to be either a robber, or worse, a confused drunkard -wow that was a familiar phrase. Had you thought of it before?-, was knocking on your door. You almost grab for your bat, hidden under your bed, but the knock happens again and you immediately realize who it is.

        “Fri-” Before the door is even completely open, before the name is out of your mouth, a small body crashes hard into yours. It shakes as it holds your waist for dear life. You move to laugh softly and bend down to ask what’s gotten into them so early in the morning-

        But you're crying.

        Fat tears are running down your cheeks and so much relief and happiness washes through you, your knees buckle from below. You fall into the child, holding them just as tightly, just as scared they’ll disappear.

        “Frisk,” You force out, shaking hard. Just like the waves of emotions rushing through you, waves of memories that shouldn’t be yours hit you.

        Waking up just like you had today. Your mother drunk in the kitchen, Frisk scared, you being hit. A silly breakfast, a letter from your dad. You let Frisk outside and you bubbled yourself up in thought long enough for your mother to become sober and decide to end her life, long enough for Frisk to decide to disappear. Days, weeks, an entire month of searching for them. Losing everything, letting it all slip through your fingers.

        … And then waking up the same way, but having a hazy remembrance.

        “Frisk what… what happened?” The kid is unable to respond, their hands tightly balled in the fabric of your over sized night shirt. Their answer is suddenly not as important as holding on.

        You pick up their still shaking body, their sobs muffled just barely on your shoulder, and leave your room. You walk past the kitchen, that you hear crashing in that can only be your mother, and instead make your way quickly to the living room.

        Pulling over a folded fluffy blanket, you bundle both you and Frisk up, curling in on them on the couch and holding them in the warmth.

        When they were ready to explain, they would tell you. For now, you needed to be there for the child.

        For an hour, you two sat. Your mother at some point walked in. She was obviously very drunk still, but any cursing on her tongue was swallowed when she saw your bundled form. With something familiar in her eyes, she turned away and headed to her room.

        Finally Frisk pulled themselves up, still sniffling and rubbing stray tears from their closed eyes. You set a hand on their cheek before moving it up and running it through their hair, a gesture that calmed them.

        “You… remember?” Their hand shakes and you almost can’t make out the signs.

        “I remember… a lot.” You confess slowly. “I remember today going a whole lot differently and I remember how the rest of this month played out.” You twirl a lock of their brown hair. “Frisk, what happened?”

        They go silent. Well, they stay silent, but their hands lower. It takes them more drawn out minutes to respond.

        “I have to go and save my friends.” Your brows furrowed as you sit straighter.

        “Friends?”

        “The monsters, in the underground.” Frisk pauses, searching your face, but you wait for them to continue. “I want… No i’m determined to help them escape! I fall down there, today, just after I go outside. I have to go back.

        They weren’t telling you something. That couldn’t be the entire story if they were trembling to the bone. Something had terrified them out of their mind. You would say the monsters but… Frisk said they were their friends. There was something else down there that scared them, something that made them almost look ready to sink into your hug instead of going back.

        But Frisk was always the determined, and stubborn, kid.

        “So the day you- well, today, you go to the mountain and end up in the Underground? And you go through there alone for an entire month while i’m up here? And-” You give a look. “Why are you so surprised I remember?” The kid purses their lips and ducks their head down in a small nod that ends with them hiding their face.

        “I.. Can’t really explain it, but no one remembers when I restart.

        “...Restart?”

        “I can start over if… if something happens to me. I’ve never been able to restart back here, before I fall in, though. I don’t know why that happened.” Frisk then hugs you again and you can tell that they are just as happy as you are to be together once more.

        Maybe your sibling reliance was a little unhealthy.

        ….Nah.

        You run your hand over the kids back.

        “So you leave for a month, and as soon as your back you want to leave again?” The kid doesn’t move. “...Do you plan to go without me?” They still make no move to sign. They were trying to put all the weight on themselves, too scared to ask you to come, because they didn’t want to drag you into it.

        For anyone else, you wouldn’t believe them. That the legend of Mt. Ebott was real, that monsters and magic existed. You would tell them that it was a bad dream, ignoring your own memory.

        But this was Frisk.

        Frisk would never lie to you. Frisk wouldn’t make up some story. Even- even with the slimmest chance this was a hoax, it was better to go along then chance the future to repeat. You remembered vividly the pain you felt losing the kid, and your mom and… and everything. It was a choice between the unknown, and the very painful and real known.

        For you? Nothing could be worse than the known. You had already lost Frisk once, why would you chance losing them again without even trying to stop it?

        “Before either of us do anything, we should eat.” You watched Frisk grin as they lifted their head. They remembered that breakfast today meant an unholy amount of candy from your stash.

        Instead of you leading them there, they all but dragged you, tripping over themselves and almost falling if not for your hand, to the kitchen, sitting themselves down at the island as you went to get the treats.

        “Hey,” You say as you reached into the cabinet for the dummy cereal boxes. “Whats a monster’s favorite snack food?” You pulled the boxes down and set them before Frisk with a grin. “Ghoul scout cookies.” You flipped the boxes over, expecting a rain of colorful candy to sweetly end your bad joke-

        But that’s not at all what happened.

        Sure, it was colorful, and it was related to candy, but it was not your stash- not how you left it, anyways.

        The colorful wrappers of your beloved candy haul fluttered to the table. Neither of you moved, both of you only able to stare at the remains. It took you a moment, actually, it took the box to fall from your slack grip, to snap back.

        “Wha… But… I thought everything was reset…?” You raise a brow to Frisk, who looks utterly confused and crestfallen.

        The answer hits you suddenly and you feel yourself deflate.

        “This is why mom was rooting around in the kitchen so early. Looking for snack food and she found my stuff…”

        “The first time around she heard us and came out but this time…” Frisk and you frowned heavily at each other at this conclusion. By habit, you turned to go check the fridge, as if it was magically restocked, but it was still empty. Along with all the number of cabinets you checked. You turn to Frisk.

        “If… we go out and eat, and shop, first, would it mess up.. I don’t know, a timeline or something?” Frisk blinks slowly, letting your words sink in before giving an educated shrug.

        “I don’t know. Every time I reset i’m still in the Underground, so nothing is too different.” You nodded, picking up what the kid was setting down. If they didn’t go into the Underground at the same time Frisk did the first time, you couldn’t be sure what could change. You had never been there, but Frisk seemed to have done multiple ‘resets’, meaning they knew more than you would.

        “Hey,” You, with one last ditch effort to find some food for the kid, check the freezer. Inside you almost cry at the sight at the breakfast hot pockets. You remember stuffing them in there when you had those long late night college studies and needed something in your stomach other than the dozen energy drinks. “Looky what I found.” Pulling the box out, and after showing it off to the excited Frisk, you empty the four onto a plate. Ripping the plastic off, you set them into the microwave.

        To match time, you decide to copy as much as you did the first time today happened. So, Maybe mom didn’t yell and hit you, but that took up about the same amount of time snuggling with Frisk this go around had. Breakfast time is now a check as well.

        “I’ll get the mail.” Frisk nodded, practically vibrating in their seat as they hopped around in front of the microwave.

        Tugging on your boots and sweater, you lean out of the doorway to reach into the mailbox. The wind racks through you, chilling you to the bone even when you immediately duck back into the warmth of your home.

        Taking your place next to Frisk, who now had the pockets of molten lava in front of them. The kid poked them once in a while, hissing when it hurt to even touch the outer layer. You rolled your eyes, grinning at the cutie.

        “Think those are hot?” Frisk nodded. “I don’t know. They can’t be as hot as you.” They snorted loudly, making you crack a large smile.

        It fell quickly though when you looked to the envelopes in your hands. Already knowing what letter was hidden inside, you decide to throw the whole bundle away. You weren’t up to reading what your dad had said again. Just seeing the letter peek at you at the bottom of the trash made your heart sink and your mind want to wander. Your brain was up to another 6 hours of sitting and thinking, but you couldn’t put Frisk or your Mom through that. You had to stay clear headed.

        “Mn.” Your (e/c) eyes went to Frisk, who had scarfed down three of the hot pockets as soon as they had cooled. “Wanna go play outside?” Before you could answer, just like last time, Frisk was already running off to change into their complete outfit. You took this time to officially get ready as well.

        Making it back to your room, you quickly pull out the bag you used for college. Turning it upside down on your bed you watch everything you needed for classes fall out and scatter. Quickly, you toss in a pair of shorts, and then a couple shirts. The sturdy jeans you were about to throw on could last you days. Plus, who only wears jeans once? On top of your clothes you threw any class snacks back in from the pile of discarded school supplies. A few cheez-itz packets and granola bars. The good bars chocked full of sweets that is. The rest was free space. Wasn’t like you were planning on staying for long.

        Maybe Frisk took a month, restarting multiple times below, but you were keen on saving their friends in a single week. You were going to go in and get out in the time of a week, no matter who got in your way. You weren’t super rehearsed in the ways of the Underground, since it had been a legend to you until today, but for all you know some monsters could be, well, monsters. You didn’t know if all monsters were hostile, if they all were but Frisk’s friends, or if they were all cuddly fluffy butts. Whichever one it was, you weren’t going to just walk in without some way to protect Frisk. Look, the monsters had to have been sealed up for some good reason, right? So, after changing into jeans and a thick long sleeve, you slipped on your backpack and pulled out your old metal baseball bat. It was a trophy you never left home without.

        …

        Okay well, you left it at home all the time since you started college. College baseball just wasn’t for you, not with how much you had to be there for Frisk and your mother. Plus, maybe you missed playing, but you had really messed up your shoulder at your last game at highschool and couldn’t play as well since. Your mini dream died there.

        You strut out of your room with the bat slipped into a pocket on your bag. Instead of immediately going back to the kitchen, you pause at your mother’s room.

        You… couldn’t just leave without saying something. In the original way today played out, your mom decided that the world would be better without her in it and took her life. Maybe eating your candy was a big enough switch to fix it, or maybe seeing you and Frisk snuggling was what helped, but you couldn’t be sure. You had to say something, something that maybe could change her mind.
        Your knuckles tap softly on her door.

        “Mom,” You pause. “I know you can hear me.” There was rustling, but the noises stopped just in front of the door. She was standing there, probably nursing the beginning of her turning sober for the day, wrapped in her giant quilt, just staring at the door knob. “Mom….Me and, and Frisk are going to go out. We’ll be gone for the rest of the week… and if worse comes to worst, for the rest of the month. We’re just going on a little… Vay’kay is all. We’ll be back, I promise.” You pause again, hoping it didn’t sound like a shitty excuse for you and Frisk running off. “I swear to you we’ll come back. Okay? So...Stay strong, and safe, while we’re gone. We… We love you so much mom. I-I know sometimes me and you don’t show it as much as we should towards each other but I love you, and I know you love me.” You wait longer this time for a reply, hoping she’ll give you… something. Just a noise or a ‘go away’, was enough. It meant she listened. Other than telling her how you felt there was nothing else you could do for her. If you suddenly barged into her room yelling about how much she was worth she’d knock you out cold. Plus, getting to your mom was different than others. Big speeches and rants weren’t her cups of tea. The little things, the small ‘i love you’s, and ‘good morning’, is what got her. Hopefully your mini speech was more on the small ‘i love you’ side than the preachy one.

        “I...Love you too.” The words, which you weren’t expecting, were quiet but warm. They surprised you so much you almost forgot you were supposed to be traveling to a legendary underground full of monsters that were supposed to be sealed in with magic. Almost When you snapped out of it, you could faintly hear your mom climbing into bed and Frisk making noises from the room over. You left with your heart swelling and a smile on your lips.

        Reaching the living room you find Frisk at the door, struggling with their boots. Kneeling in one swift step, you help pull their boots on, and then your own matching pair.

        “You ready, kid?” You ask as you stand back up. Frisk looked down at themselves, pat’s their pockets, and then looks up with a big grin.

        For a moment, it wavers.

        “What’s that for?” Frisk asked, pointing to the bat after signing.

        “For protection, if we need it.” Their frown makes you scramble for a better explanation, one that the kid would like. “M-More of..a.. A good luck charm! You saw me beat all those games with this bat, it’s good luck for me.” Frisk pouted, staying at the stained bat for a moment longer before nodding and smiling up at you. Reaching out, they silently ask for your hand, which you happily slip into theirs. Or, well, your hand consumed Frisk’s. Unsure if it was because you had big hands, or you had small ones and Frisk’s were tiny. Maybe you just had normal hands compared to a 3rd grader, you weren’t quite sure. It wasn’t like you spent time around others enough to see if you had large, medium, or small hands.

        “Follow the yellow brick road,” You say, stepping out into the cold with Frisk in tow, headed towards Mt. Ebott.

        “Yellow road?

        “...Remind me to buy us some classic movies when we get back.”

 

        It didn’t take long to find the giant ass hole in the mountain that Frisk fell into the first day. Seriously, you were surprised that the kid fell in “by accident”. It was pitch black, like a void sucking in all life. There was no way to miss it...Which sadly backed up the idea that Frisk had stumbled into it with purpose.

        “So… We… Do what now?” You wonder out loud, kicking in a rock by your foot into the pit, trying to use that old movie trick to see how deep the thing was.

        “We fall.” You give Frisk a look. “I’m serious.

        “I know. That’s what freaks me out. We literally just… just jump in? Did you get hurt from the fall?” Frisk shook their head, pulling on your hand towards the pit.

        You just now heard the rock clatter below.

        “Yeah. No. You know, why don’t we just get a rope or somet-” Your words are cut off as you suddenly feel the world tip.

        Except it’s not the world, but you. Looking up, you watch Frisk fall in just behind, smiling cheekily from having just pushed you themself.

        Your vision went black.

Chapter Text

        “Ugh…” The moment your consciousness came back to you, you were groaning in pain. For a while, you just laid there, not really feeling up to moving. It wasn’t like you were hurt, at least nothing broken to the extent of your knowledge, but your back was a bit sore. You guess that’s what you landed on, your bag and all.

        “Nn. Nn!” A noisy Frisk is what finally motivated you to try and sit up. Honestly, you rather lay there a bit more, but you knew if you didn’t get up now, Frisk had many tactics to make you. Jumping on your gut was one of many. You learned the hard way.

        Your eyes fluttered open, and you’re greeted with a bright light. Hissing and shutting them, you cover them quickly.

        “Mmmn!” You sigh, waving your hand in the direction of Frisk’s noises.

        “J-Just give me a second. Just- ow.” Looking down this time, you slowly open your (e/c) orbs. You’re greeted with a small bed of golden flowers that glitter in the bright light shining from above you. All around you was darkness, the only things you were able to make out were a couple of stone columns that loomed above with thick vines hanging low.

        Finally, you centered your attention on Frisk. The kid stood just next to you, looking at you with crossed arms. “What?” You were given no answer, and instead they turned and walked off.
        You scrambled up to follow. The kid must’ve gone through this enough that it no longer bothered them, if anything, it was probably more of a nuisance for them.

        You shifted your bag on your shoulder. Oh your- your back was really throbbing now. You kept fidgeting, trying to find a place to not stress it more. Maybe bringing the bat was a bad idea...especially since it was only hurting you and not being helpful. Lucky charm your ass.

        Frisk paused in the dark to turn and take up your hand, leading you through easily. You knew neither of you could see a thing, but there was another spot of light just up ahead. That must be where the kid was heading.

        It was a small patch of grass, and the light was more like a spot light. You were expecting someone to pop out and say something, start singing, but no one came. Just eerie silence.

        Almost...Eerie silence. In the distance, you heard soft thudding. Like...footsteps, but dulled down. Like whoever it was was wearing socks. Because of the light in front of you, you couldn’t make out anything beyond it.

        The noise grew closer.

        “Frisk, get behind me.” The kid looked to you, raising a brow, but didn’t say a thing as they instead moved forward. “Wha- Frisk! I just said-”

        “Hello my child. Oh, my, I mean, children.”

        You are met with a large, white, fluffy body. A… monster, you guess, with the nonhuman, animal-like, appearance. Was this a large… female goat? You weren’t sure, but the voice was very warm and feminine, and with how her ears hung you got the impression she was a goat, and not a cow.

        “Ah, do not be afraid my child,” As if the monster could sense your apprehension, she turned a kind smile solely to you. Her eyes flickered between the two of you before pausing and widening her smile. “I am Toriel, caretaker of the Ruins. I pass through here every day to see if anyone has fallen down. You are the first humans to come here in a long time. I will do my best to protect you during your time here.” The monster’s eyes lingered on Frisk, and something close to recognition flashed in her red eyes. Though, she seemed to brush it off and focus back on getting you to calm down.

        You were calm. You were very calm. Who wasn’t calm when a monster goat was staring down their younger sibling? It wasn’t like you were now standing in front of Frisk with a steady hand on your bat while keeping your eyes locked with the goat. What? No. Not you.

        “Come! I shall guide you through the catacombs.” Then, she turned, her purple tunic flapping a bit in her wake. You looked to where she disappeared in the darkness, and then down to Frisk.

        “Who’s that? Is she.. Safe?” The kid was staring longingly at where the monster disappeared and the look made you frown. Finally their eyes met yours.

        “That’s Goat-mom."

        “Goat mom?”

        “She takes care of me before I set out to see the rest of the Underground,” Frisk paused, noticing the hold you had on your bat. “Please don’t hurt her.” Immediately your grip went slack and you opted to hold the child’s hand instead.

        The pleading in their eyes hurt a little.

        Just a little ways forward through the darkness the two of you enter a large room. It’s brighter than before, but not by much. You were curious to how the room was lit, since you two were officially underground now. Though you were pleased you wouldn’t have to squint anymore.

        The mons-...Toriel is standing just there, looking at the two of you with a smile you could only associate with a mother's. Shes waiting patiently for the both of you, refusing to move until you two followed. She continued up some stairs that lead probably deeper into the Ruins, but you’re stopped by Frisk pulling on your interlocked hands.

        “Frisk?” You ask, glancing over your shoulder.

        In front of a pile of red leaves is Frisk… And in front of Frisk is something glowing a soft yellow. It’s throbbing, looking like a star. If stars were small and looked more like how kids drew them.

        “It’s a save.” Frisk signed, reaching out their other hand to tap it. You swore you heard a chime of music, and then Frisk was walking off like nothing had happened.

        “Wait, what? A save?” Yet, the kid was too busy following Toriel into the next room, pulling you just behind them. Resets, and now saves? This whole monster filled underground was sounding more like some video game than a legend.

        “Welcome to your new home, innocent ones.” Frisk flinched. “Allow me to educate you in the operation of the Ruins.” She gestured with a large… paw? Towards a couple of stone slabs on the ground next to her. Then, she walked over each one not on the lighter path, pressing it down with her weight, pulling the switch when she finished. “The Ruins are full of puzzles. Ancient fusions between diversions and door keys. One must solve them to move from room to room. Please adjust yourself to the sight of them.” Then with another happy smile, she gestured for you two to follow. She was just so...smiley. Like she was overflowing with happiness. You had never seen a mother so happy to see kids before, definitely not your own, at least.

        “Puzzles? Hey, if we’re talking puzzles, I think I can handle this.” Frisk rolled their eyes, but grinned at you as they tugged on your hand once more to follow. “Yeah, yeah.”
        The next room had a couple of switches you needed to flip. It wasn’t too hard. Actually, it was a gimme. The switches were all labeled in bright yellow paint with writing next to it signed by Toriel. Even the switch that you weren’t supposed to pull didn’t work, so it wasn’t like you or Frisk could get it wrong if you wanted to.

        “As a human,” Toriel began, Her paw somehow having found itself resting in the mid of your back to help Frisk get you moving. Apparently you were too slow for the duo. “Living in the Underground, monsters may attack you.”

        The sharp look you darted down to your sibling almost hurt your neck. Frisk never said that they were actually attacked. You gathered that, well, it was a giant underground cave with monsters crawling everywhere but.. When Frisk said they had friends you just… Well, seeing as how the kid wasn’t dead you just assumed it couldn’t have been bad. Having a monster warn you about other monsters was pretty bad in your book.

        “You will need to be prepared for this situation.” You gave Toriel a smirk as you pulled at your bat.

        “Don’t worry about us Toriel, I’ve come well prepared.” Her smiled faltered, but she immediately covered it up with a pat on your head.

        “No tall child,” You snorted. “There is no need for that. The process I’m speaking of is much simpler.” Raising a brow in question, you slide your bat back into place. No one liked your bat. Harsh crowd of two huh? “When you encounter a monster, you will enter a Fight.” Frisk nodded already slowly making their way to a manikin just next to the other door way. All of Toriel’s attention was trained on you, like you were the younger of the two humans. “While you are in a Fight, strike up a friendly conversation.”

        “A...Friendly conversation?”

        “Yes,” She said with almost excitement. “A friendly conversation! Stall for time. I will come to resolve the conflict. Practice talking to the dummy.” You purse your lips, stopping yourself from being that kid that says ‘you won't always be there’, and instead move over to Frisk, who had yet to step too close to the innocent looking dummy.

        “You scared of it?” Frisk looks up to you with a shake of their head, but you can see how nervous they are. The kids down right shaking in their boots. “Hey, bud, it’s not that spooky.” Still, they wouldn’t move forward. “Here, look,”

        “Nn!” Before you can even finish your joke to make the kid laugh, which was to have some silly conversation with the dummy, something in your chest burns when you take your first step. For a second, you’re able to brush it off, but then the next second it’s hotter. It doesn’t… hurt, but it’s not comfortable. It’s like someone had reached in and was trying to literally pull something out of your chest-

        Pop

        Something was pulled out of your chest.

        Before you floated something...green. Comically, it looked like a heart some kid would doodle, but decided to color it like grass instead of making it red. Looking at it you felt a bit… empty? Like you were missing something… It wasn’t yours, right? It couldn’t be-

        “Mn! Mmm!” You whip around, jumping at Frisk’s hands tugging hard at the hem of your shirt. Before the child is their own version of a floating heart, but theirs is a bright red. They’re looking worried, no longer scared of whatever they had been minutes before. “Are you okay?” They sign quickly, searching your face. You try to regain your composure back, for the kid, but you know they see right through you.

        “This is normal for you, isn’t it?”

        “Just take deep breaths. It’s weird at first, but it’ll feel better.” You decide not to comment about how your kid sibling was pep talking you about getting your-

        “What are these things anyway?”

        “They’re… Souls. Our Souls.” -about getting your soul ripped out from your body.

        “Are you okay my children?” Toriel is fluttering behind you two, looking beyond worried about how you reacted. Was it.... Different for Frisk? Was it easier for them the first time? For you it just felt… wrong. Like something was physically wrong with your chest and you needed your soul back. Now.

        “So..So our souls come out because… we entered a Fight, like Toriel said?” Frisk nodded before gesturing their small golden hand towards the dummy.

        “Now we act.

        “Right. Uh...Act.” You stared down the manikin, taking a deep breath. Toriel said to talk to the dummy, to practice “buying time”, but you could also use it for batting practice. You could attack the thing.

        ...But you think you're a bit too kind to do that. The dummy’s cute little button eyes make you open your mouth instead of grabbing a weapon.

        “Good morning… dummy. Nice to meet you. Did you eat recently? You look stuffed and happy.” Frisk snorts at your pun, covering their mouth to stifle giggles, but the dummy seemed unamused. Tough crowd. At Least Toriel seemed happy with you.

        “Ah, very good! You are very good.” She then walked out, a hop to her step.
        Your body shakes as you let out a rattled sigh, your soul sinking back into your chest. You suddenly have a...whole... feeling. You can’t quite explain it, but with your soul back you feel like a weight has been lifted off of you. Like you’re safe now.

        “How often will that happen?”

        “Often.

        “Awesome. Great. Alright. I guess let’s move on then.” Frisk was giggling at your huffy attitude, snickering their little butt off.

Stepping into another room, Toriel is standing there, waiting. She knew you two would eventually show up, not like there was any other way to go.

        “There is another puzzle in this room. I wonder if you can solve it?” You raise a brow to Frisk, who just literally waves it off. They must know something you don’t. Still, while following behind Toriel you try your best to figure out what puzzle she could be referring to. Just as you both come up onto a sign you're keen on reading, a figure jumps out of nowhere.

        “Frisk,” You say slowly, pushing the kid behind you so you stand before the… frog monster?  It had the head of a frog, but was much larger than one, and you swore you saw something blinking down below it’s legs.

        You reach for your bat but… you pause.

        “Hey,” You say slowly, giving a tentative wave. “I like your… eyes.” The compliment spilled from your lips before you could even think twice.

        The frog didn’t seem to understand what you said, but you swore you saw their cheeks go red. They look like they’re about to do something, but Toriel suddenly comes up behind the creature. Looming over it with her impressive height, the motherly glare even makes you quiver, the poor frog stood no chance and decided to flee.

        Finally, you get to read the sign.

        “The western room is the eastern room’s blueprint.” You say out loud, mostly so Frisk can hear because they’re a bit too short to see.  You move to go back to the room, but Frisk grabs your sleeve and tugs you over to follow Toriel. You sigh. The kid wouldn’t let you have any fun. You’re about to jokingly complain, but large spikes catch your eyes and you freeze.

        This is what the “blueprint” was for? Holy-

        “This is the puzzle, but…” Toriel hums gently to herself, looking you and Frisk over. “Here, take my hands for a moment.” You raise a brow at her outstretched fluffy mits. The kid, without even a seconds thought, stuffs their hand in the monster’s paw, smiling to themself all the while. You hesitate, but take her other one.

        Slowly and carefully she leads you through the maze. Experimentally, while she’s not looking, you poke one of the spikes. They weren’t sharp. They hardly would’ve hurt you or Frisk.

        “Puzzles seem a little too dangerous for now.” Toriel moved on.

        “Goat mom is… well…”

        “A mom.

        “Yeah.” You pat the kids head. “We’re not too used to that, huh?” Being inspired by Toriel, you take up Frisk’s hand again, not sure why you dropped it in the first place.

        You two walk into, what you hope to be, the last room. You liked puzzles and all, but you just wanted to get down to saving Frisk’s friends so you two could get out quick enough. Which reminds you, you never asked how either of your would get out from the hole, or how you two would save the monsters. That was… probably something very important you two needed to plan out.

        Welp.

        “You have done excellently thus far, my children. However...” Toriel’s smiled wilted. “I have a difficult request to ask of you…”

        “Sure, I guess, what is it?” You say, seeing as Frisk couldn’t for themselves. You were pretty sure Toriel didn’t know sign language.

        “I would like you two to walk to the end of the room by yourselves.” Tilting around the women, you looked down the long hall and shrug. It was barren, void of anything that could be remotely harmful. “Forgive me for this.”

        Then, Toriel was gone.

        Okay, well, she didn’t disappear. You watched her sprint down to the very end of the hall and duck behind a pillar. You pursed your lips, trying to not laugh.

        “Wow, Frisk… She just… poof! Vanished! What do you think we should do now that we’re all alone?”

        “I don’t know. I’m scared.

        “You’re right. It is scary…” You peeked down at the pillar, seeing Toriel peek out.

        Was this mean of you two?

        Eh.

        “You have to lead the way Frisk, Your big sister can’t handle this without you holding her hand.”

        “I’ll be brave for you!” You both giggled as you two leisurely strolled down the dim lighted hall. It was a nice walk.

        Reaching the end easily enough, Toriel steps out looking even happier than before.

        “Greetings, my children. Do not worry, I did not leave you.” She looked extra worriedly towards you. “I was merely behind this pillar the whole time.” Then, she patted both of your heads of hair. “Thank you for trusting me. However, there was an important reason for this exercise.” Toriel pauses. “To test your independence.”

        “Did I fail?” You ask a bit too seriously. She has to cover her mouth, trying her best not to laugh.

        “N-No, child, you did excellent.”

        “Then the test was for…?”

        “I must attend to some business, and you two must stay alone for a while. Please remain here. It’s dangerous to explore by yourself.” Then she taps her chin, probably trying to think of a way to keep you both entertained in an empty giant room. Suddenly she snaps her fingers. “I have an idea. I will give you a cell phone.”

        “Wait. What?” She smiles through your confusion.

        “If you have a need for anything, just call.”

        “Toriel. You’re.. Giving us a cellphone?” She nods, digging into a pocket on her tunic and pulling it out. It’s not as high tech as some of the ones you’ve seen in stores in the big cities, but you have to confess it’s better than the one you could afford with how work was going.

        “Of course. I want to make sure you can reach me if you ever need me.” She leans forward, placing a warm kiss to the top of your head, and then does the same to Frisk. The child freezes up. “Be good, alright?” You nod, waving her off.

        You take a moment to look over the phone, seeing what features it has before you chance a glance to Frisk. The kid is still stiff as a board.

        “Hey. Frisk?”

        No answer. Not even the lift of a finger.

        “It’s surprising she just handed us a phone, I know, but no need to disconnect.”

        Not even a laugh at your joke.

        “..Frisk?”

        “She’s never done that before.” You raise a brow when the kid finally signs to you.

        “Done… what? Give you a phone?”

        “Kiss me.

        “Oh.” You’re not sure how to take that. Was it… bad that something changed like that? You weren’t sure how these “Resets” worked, but if they worked like how they worked in video games, it meant that the same things would happen, in the same order, but now you had the knowledge of what or how to play it out. If the underground was reset but things were happening differently...

        Had you messed something up by coming with Frisk?

        “You ready?” You snap back when Frisk literally snaps. They sign when they have your attention.

        “..Ready? For what?”

        “To continue on. There are more puzzles up ahead.

        “Wait, but, didn’t Toriel say to wait for her?”

        “We’ll meet up with her later. It’s fine.” You purse your lips, but nod. The kid was the one with experience, even if they were oh so much younger than you.

        As soon as you step out of the room, the cellphone you had slipped into your pocket began going off.

        “Um Hello?” You say smartly as you give a glance to Frisk with a raised brow.

        “Hello, this is Toriel. You have not left the room, have you? There are a few puzzles ahead that I have yet to explain. It would be dangerous to try to solve them yourself.”
        “Oh, right. No we’ve just been hanging around by the pillar.”

        “Well then child, Be good, alright?”

        “Of course, Toriel.” Then, click, she hangs up. “Does she have this place tapped or something?” Frisk gave a confused look at your choice of words, walking away from you to a side room. “Means like… Has the place bugged.” You pause. “Full of cameras.” You heard a noise from the room, probably Frisk trying to show they heard and understood.

        “Ribbit, ribbit.” Just by the room Frisk went into stood another frog. Instead of jumping at you like the last time, it watching you with curiosity. You tilt your head in question as you give a wave.

        “Hello… there.”

        “Excuse me, human.” Oh wow. It can talk. “I have some advice for you about battling monsters.” It’s… still talking. “If you Act a certain way, or Fight until you almost defeat them… They might not want to battle you anymore. If a monster does not want to fight you, please… Use some Mercy, human.” It can talk a whole lot. Just… wow… You weren’t sure if you were more surprised that a giant frog was talking with such emotion, or because a monster was showing sentience. Was it bad of you to expect monsters to be more… monster? Like how scary stories would work and all.

        “Mn.” Frisk came running out of the side room, proudly holding out two candies in silky wrappers. You pulled you bag in front of you, letting the kid drop them in.

        “Pick up candy from some strangers?”

        “Yes. ...No. A bowl is set out, says you can take one.” You roll your eyes and smile as you set your backpack on your back.

        “But you took two kid.”

        “One for you, One for me.” They sign cheerfully, taking your hand and starting to pull you off again.

        Venturing from room to room, meeting monsters and solving puzzles, this ruin felt more like a theme park. Especially when you could flirt or compliment the monsters and they would respond in kind. None of them were mean. They were all just… sweet and kind. They might throw things at you and Frisk, but you could just easily dodge out of the way and then talk with them. Toriel was right, talking to these guys was just simpler.

        “Hello, this is Toriel.” You held the phone to your ear with your shoulder as you pushed at a rock in one of the rooms. “For no reason in particular… Which do you prefer? Cinnamon or Butterscotch?” You paused in rock pushing, Frisk quickly taking your place.

        “Cinnamon or Butterscotch huh?”

        “Wait. Do not tell me. Is it Cinnamon?” You blink slowly leading Frisk off into another room.

        “Cinnamon… I think Frisk prefers that. I’m more for Butterscotch.” Toriel laughs to herself.

        “I thought the short child would.” She took a sharp breath, and then spoke just above a whisper. “When humans fall down here, strangely...I… I often feel like I already know them. Truthfully, when I first saw Frisk, I felt… Like I was seeing an old friend for the first time. Strange, is it not?”

        “Yeah… Strange.”

        “Well, thank you for your selection.” Click.

        “Frisk, Toriel remembers you.” The kid whipped around and rose their hands sharply, but the phone rang again and you rose a finger. “One sec…”

        “Hello? This is Toriel.”

        “Hey again.”

        “You do not dislike cinnamon, and Frisk does not dislike butterscotch, correct? I know what your preference is, but… Would you turn up your nose if you found it on your plate?”

        “No. Either is fine.”

        “Right, right, I understand. Thank you for being patient, by the way.” click.

        “So she… remembers?” You shrug, Watching as Frisk struggles to push a different rock, in a different room. This rock could talk, and it was being pretty cheeky.

        “Not as much as me… but, enough that it’s like deja-vu. Has that happened before?”

        The sad look Frisk gives you sends a chill down your spine.

        “Yeah. It’ll happen to others later.” You hesitate to ask more.

        For a couple more rooms, neither of you speak. At least, you don’t to Frisk and they don’t sign towards you. Both of you conquer the puzzle rooms by one of you being the brain, and the other one talking to monsters. Surprisingly, Frisk’s sign language was understood by the all the monsters, so you let the kid handle them. Of course you kept an eye out, but not one of the monsters ever seemed to really want to fight Frisk, even if they were the ones to confront them.

        Coming up to another room, you two are met with a lone white figure. The… Ghost, you guess, is laying in a pile of those red leaves, right in the way. You didn’t want to be rude and walk through the guy, even though you were pretty sure you could.

        “Zzzzzzzz,” He was saying the letter Z. He was actually saying the letter over and over. “Zzzzzzz.” Was he trying to pretend to sleep? This was...oddly cute.

        “Hey, uhm, buddy, sorry to bother you…” You say slowly, crouching down to see if you could tap the guy's shoulder but, like you expected, your hand goes through him.

        Your chest explodes with heat and you stumble back as the ghost raises. As your green soul floats before you, pulsing to the beat of some distant jazz tune, the ghost looks about ready to cry at the sight.

        “Frisk?” You say, trying to catch sight of the kid. When you do, you spot them already past the ghost, walking into another room without you. They just totally ditched you.

        “S-Sorry…” The spirit says softly, wavering with emotion. You just shake your head and give a patient smile. The poor ghost looked like it was about to explode at any moment with tears.

        “It’s fine bud. Hey, whats a monsters favorite cookie?” The ghost flutters in his spot.

        “...Wh-What is..?”

        “Ghoul scout cookies.” Hey, you used it once in a different timeline on Frisk. It’s still a good joke.

        “Heh… Heh…” His mood seems to have improved. “Let me...try…” He then began crying, but his tears floated upwards. In awe, you watched them accumulate into a top hat. “I call it ‘Dapper Blook’...” he paused, gaging your reaction. “Do you like it….?”

        “I love it. It’s very fitting for you.”

        “Oh gee…” The ghost, if he was alive and had the ability to blush, he would be. “I usually come to the Ruins because there’s nobody around….” He says softly, his eyes darting all around him, too scared to meet your (e/c) ones. “But today I met somebody nice… Oh,” He said, his form beginning to disappear. “I’m rambling again. I’ll get out of your way...”

        Then he was gone, your soul safely back in you, and you were already jogging off to the room Frisk had slinked into during your… battle?

        “I bought something,” Frisk signs as soon as you enter, showing you two donuts and a jug.

        “You can’t run off like that.”

        “Napstablook wasn’t going to hurt you-

        “That’s not what I mean.” You snap a bit too quickly. “I don’t know this place. Maybe you do, but we’ve already seen that things can change from what you’re used too. Just,” You sigh, crouching down so you were the kids height. “Please don’t run off. I’m just worried about you is all…” The kid stayed silent, but nodded, leaning forward to hug you tightly. When you two parted, they signed sorry, and you signed sorry back. “With that out there-” You stopped as your cell rang again.

“Hello, this is Toriel.” You swallow the sharp response, ‘Of course, who else would be calling me’ and instead help Frisk load the small jug of ‘spider cider’ and the two ‘spider donuts’ into your bag. You’d ask about it later.

        “Hey Toriel,” You said.

        “I was just wondering if you two have any allergies, do you?”

        “Uh, what? Why?”

        “Why am I asking? No reason.. No reason at all.” Before you can answer, she hangs up again. You stare at the phone and then turn a look to Frisk.

        “She’s planning something.”

        “Definitely.

        The two of you continued on. Wiggling hips with moldsmals, trying to console Whimsuns, not bullying Eyewalkers, complimenting Froggits, Dining with Vegetoids, and dancing with Migosps. It wasn’t long till the puzzles were finished and you ended up at another Froggit who wanted to talk instead of fight. It stood to a side of a doorway that was letting in a cool breeze. You weren’t sure why it did.

        “Just between you and me,” The little guy said. “I saw Toriel come out of here just a little while ago. She was carrying some groceries. I didn’t ask what they were for… We’re all too intimidated to talk to her.”

        “In there?” You looked to the weirdly darker room. You went to walk in, but you notice Frisk is not following you. “Frisk, Wanna check where Tori went?” You jump. “I-I mean Toriel…” You didn’t know her well enough to give her a nickname. She’d probably not like it…

        “Mh-mn.” Frisk shook their head fast, refusing to take another step. You frowned, but shrugged.

        “Then stay there. I’ll be right back.” The kid just sits down by the froggit, twiddling their fingers. You just said for them to stay close, and you were already letting them by themself… Well. They were safe by the docile Froggit. You’d be right back anyway.
        Stepping in you are greeted with… an entire city!

        Stone buildings going on, and on, soft echoey chatter resonating from it all. It was… beautiful. The little walkway was more of a balcony of sorts. Looking around, you didn’t understand how Toriel had come from here…

        What’s this?

        Just to your side you see a small grey toy. Moving closer, you see it’s a… plastic knife. Something about it makes your stomach churn. You don’t like the sight of it, and you even take a step back away from it. Did… Frisk know this knife was here, or was the city just eerie to them? Either way, you turned around and left.

        “Let’s hurry and go.” Frisk just silently nodded, standing up from their place by the Froggit, who the kid then patted with a small smile, and followed.

        Walking through a large pile of red leaves the two of you meet a large black tree. It’s the first sign of plant life other than the copious amounts of vines and random leaves scattered around. The pile of red around it though suggest the it may be dying.

        “Oh dear, that took longer than I thought it would.” The voice sounds just somewhere behind the tree. Immediately, you know it’s Toriel.

        You cell rings, but before you can pick it up, goat mom has already made her way over with a worried look.

        “How did you get here, my children? Are you two hurt?” You two look at each other, and then simultaneously shrug towards Toriel. “Not a scratch… Impressive! But still… I should not have left you two alone for so long. It was irresponsible to try to surprise you like this.”

        “Surprise us?” Toriel jumped, looking embarrassed.

        “Err… Well, I suppose I cannot hide it any longer. Come, small and tall one!” She ushers you two to follow with a large wave of her fluffy paw. Frisk scurries after her, licking their lips. You take a bit more of a slower pace, taking in the design of the stone house set into the walling of the Ruins. You also pause to stop at another blinking save star. You tap it. Seeing such a cute, tidy house in the Ruins fills you with the feeling of Kindness.

        Stepping inside you're met with proper lighting, wooden floors, the smell of something sweet baking, and warmth. Frisk is hanging on Toriel’s hand, smiling brightly up at the flustered women.

        “‘Mom’?” You blink slowly, looking from Frisk to Toriel. “You spoke?”

        “Frisk can speak,” You say, gaining the woman's attention. “But they usually don’t. Just makes it special when they do, I guess.” That makes the women look even more embarrassed.

        “They… Called me mom.”

        “...Do you mind?” Toriel seemed confused at your question. You felt your own cheeks heat up. “I mean… If you mind we won’t.”

        “Well… I suppose...Would that make you two happy... To call me.. Mother?” Frisk nods, pulling at Toriel’s hand, making the women crack a smile. Her weary red eyes go to you, and you can’t help but smile too.

        “I think it would.”

        “Well then, call me whatever you like!” She then clapped her hands together. “Do you smell that? Surprise!” She throws her arms up. “It is a butterscotch-cinnamon pie. I thought we might celebrate your arrival. I want you two to have a nice time living here, so I will hold off on snail pie for tonight.”

        Two things she just said bothered you. First of all, Snails? Look, some people might be into Escargot, that's fine, but no one want’s an Escargot pie. The second thing that bothered you was how confident she was when she talked about you living there. You give a nervous look to Frisk, but the kid is too wrapped up in hugging Toriel’s leg to take notice.

        “Here, I have another surprise for you.” She began walking off, Frisk glued to her leg, so you followed quietly behind.

        The hall over was lit in a soft yellow color. A couple of doors were seen farther down, but Toriel stopped at the first one.

        “This is it… A room of your own. I hope you like it!” She was talking to Frisk, which became apparent when she rubbed the kids head, leaned down to kiss their head, and then turned to you. “I’m sorry my child, but I don’t have another bed for you…” Toriel looked so put out, and you felt bad. Like you were the one who didn’t have a bed to accommodate a guest.

        “That's completely fine! I can take the couch, or chair, or whatever you have in your living room.” She smiled brightly at that, nodding. She leaned down to you, kissing your head.
        “I’ll go out sometime tomorrow to see what i can find for you. For now you- Is something burning..? Um, make yourself at home!” Toriel cut herself off, running back where you all had just been. You blink in the direction, and then shrug as you usher Frisk into their new room.

        It was cute, painted in a dusty color that could work for anyone who ventured in. Frisk immediately went to jump on the bed as you looked around for yourself.

        There was an empty photo frame, which was pretty dusty, on the top of some shelving. Next to that was a child's drawing of a flower, along with a small chest that held… kids’ shoes in a whole bunch of sizes. You frowned at the sight, and decided to go over to the other chest you saw at the foot of the bed. There was a whole bunch of cool toys, for kids, but none of them looked like they would interest Frisk. You were a little bit weirded out that the room Frisk was given seemed to have already been made for a child. Maybe Toriel had her own once. You wonder where the kid is now, if this used to be their room.

        You look over to Frisk when you stopped hearing the springs of the bed creak. Raising a brow, you see the little kid had tuckered themself out, and was now curled in a little ball half way under the blanket. You laugh at the sight.

        “Night, Frisk,” You say softly, pulling the comforter up all the way to the kids shoulder, kissing their cheek. Tucking them in properly, you move over to shut of the light before sneaking out and gently shutting the door behind you.

        With the kid tucked in, you decide to check in on Toriel and her pie. Also, you needed to ask how to get home from here. She’d know.

        Walking out of the hallway, and out from the… parlor, whatever the room that has the front door is called, and over to where you heard the crackling of a fire.

        You find Toriel sitting in a large recliner, an old worn leather book in paw, and small reading glasses on the end of her nose. For a couple minutes, she doesn’t spot you, too absorbed in her book, so you’re able to looked over the many novels she has by the fireplace.

        “Oh, hello!” Toriel slides a red leaf between the pages and closes her book, directing her attention onto you. You feel a bit small under her gaze. “The pie has not cooled down yet. Perhaps you should take a nap.” You glance around the living room, seeing that it doubles as a dining room as well. You slowly shake your head, seeing that there was no couch for you to take for a nap, just the chair she was currently in. “Are you sure child? You may take my bed, it’s quite big.” The idea… is very tempting.

        “No I… I’d rather stay up and chat with you for a bit. Frisk is already sleeping.” She again looks a bit surprised at your words. Had none of the other humans been very kind to her? Or maybe, like Frisk said, they never stayed for long.

        “Um, I want you to know how glad I am to have someone here. Especially two someones.” Your heart swelled at her smile. “There are so many old books I want to share. I want to show you my favorite bug-hunting spot. I’ve also prepared a curriculum for both of your educations.”

        “Woah, really?” You pulling over a dining room chair. “I understand Frisk, they’re a 3rd grader after all, but… For me too?” Toriel nodded, looking proud.

        “You’re in college, correct? I have some old books you might want to look at on the shelving over there and in my room, i believe they should be at your level.” She paused, watching as your face lit up. You hadn’t had a mother, or a motherly figure, that took your education seriously before. “This may come as a surprise to you… But I have always wanted to be a teacher.” You gave her a look. “...Actually, perhaps that isn’t very surprising. Still. I am glad to have you both living here.”

        “We’re…” Your voice wavered, and you had to clear your throat. “We’re happy to be here, to have met you, Toriel.” The warm smile you two shared made your heart throb.

        Why was this motherly goat getting to you?

        “Oh, did you want something? What is it?” The question you came to her for died on your tongue.

        “..Nothing.”

        “Well, talk to me again if you need anything.” You nodded, slouching a bit in your chair as you watched her get back to her book. You sighed. “Child?” Toriel’s eyes flickered up to you and you jump. Was your sigh that loud?

        “Oh sorry-”

        “Do you want to hear about the book I am reading? It is called ‘72 uses for Snails’. How about it?” You smile.

        “Sure.”

        “Here is an exciting snail fact,” She said, flipping a couple pages back. “Did you know that snails… Sometimes flip their digestive systems as they mature? Interesting?” Your smile broadens.

        “That's really cool. You’ll have to let me read that sometime.”

        “Of course, my child.” Her happiness is contagious. “Bother me if you need anything.”

        “Alright. I think imma go take you up on that nap time in your room.”

        “Ah, then, it is the second door to your left down the hall.” You nod, but stop just before you leave the room.

        “Hey, mom?” The woman jumps at your choice of name, and it takes a moment for her to get the use of her dropped jaw back.

        “Y-Yes, my child?”

        “I think you’re a type of pie.” Her brows dip softly in question, making your cheeky grin light up. “A cutie pie!” Before she can answer, you’re waving bye as you make your way back through the quiet house.

        It was going to be hard on you when you asked this sweet monster how to leave.

        She was so happy to have you two. So happy to not be alone in the Ruins. Probably happy to have a kid filling that room again. Happy to teach someone. Happy to… have kids.

        Happy to have kids. Now that was something you never thought you’d hear. Never in your life had you met people ‘happy to have kids’. Your mom wasn’t happy to have kids when she was drunk, and she was drunk around 24 hours a day. Your dad sure wasn’t too happy to have kids, the reason he left was because there was a new addition. You’d never say that out loud though, he said it enough in his letters. To have someone, monster or not, generally want you there in her life for as long as she can imagine, pulled harshly at your heartstrings.

        Stepping into the room Toriel told you was hers, you see it’s about the same size as Frisk’s, maybe a bit bigger. It's bathed in a cool light, looking newly cleaned. You don’t want to be too nosy, but you can’t help but notice an open book on the womens desk with a red circle on the page. You peek over.

        “ ‘Why did the skeleton want a friend?’ …’Because she was feeling bonely.” You give a loud snort, laughing to yourself. Skimming the page you see that it's cluttered in even more punny jokes. Most of them seem to be about skeletons. You wonder what inspired the skelejokes.

        You think about going to check out the books Toriel mentioned would be in her bookshelf, but sleep tugs at your eyelids. You decide to instead curl up in the blue bed, which looked even bigger than a Queens sized one. It looks like you're a small ball in the middle of it.

        With one last thought about a Goat Mom and a smiling Frisk, you fall too sleep.

        You pray your day does not reset again. You couldn’t go through that.

Chapter Text

        You wake up with drool pooling on the mattress and your arm numb from having it pinned under you. You push yourself up, blinking tiredly, rubbing at your cheek to dry it. Hopefully Toriel wouldn’t notice…

        Sitting straight you stretch, popping a few bones in your back. Yawning, you swivel around on the huge bed and set your toes on the cold ground. Just as you're about to jump off, seeing as you were just a bit too short to fully set your feet on the ground, you pause when you smell something in the air. Butterscotch and cinnamon?

        In confusion you slowly slip off of the mattress and crouch down, staring at a plate of pie you almost just lept into. Toriel must of set it down here once the pie cooled down, turning off the lights while at it. Reaching out and picking the plate up, you could still feel the lingering warmth, meaning you hadn’t been napping for as long as you feared. Flipping the switch to light the room once more, you leave with a fork already digging in.

        You pad quietly down the hall in your socks- Toriel had also taken your shoes off and tucked you in properly while there to deliver the pie. When you reach the living room, half the pie already gone, you are met with a very adorable sight.

        Frisk is curled up in Toriel’s lap, wrapped in her fluffy arms, looking at the book she held in front of both of them. She was reading slowly, out loud, for the child, a smile on both of their faces. You set your half eaten plate on the table.

        Toriel was… good for Frisk. For you. You didn't want to interrupt them. In fact, the more you stayed in this home the more you wanted to stay. Yeah, maybe you didn’t know Toriel well, maybe she was a monster, but she was nothing like the monster you and Frisk lived with.

        If Frisk stayed with this women, they would finally have someone close to how a mother should be. You were too old to have what Toriel could provide… It was already too late for you to have a mother this good. Frisk though, the kid was just in 3rd grade. They could still grow up with that figure in their life and never have to think of what they went through. You’re mom couldn’t be how she was for you with Frisk. For you, that women was a mom. She cared for you, loved you, made you food and smiled widely when you showed her you crappy drawings. For Frisk… Not once did your mom act like that. Frisk was born into a broken family, and it was too late to fix it by the time the kid grew up enough to start remembering things.

        “Oh, my child, i’m happy you are here to join us.” Toriel beamed up at you, waving you over. “I’m reading the Snails book I mentioned to you, to Frisk. The child finds it just as interesting as we do.” Frisk nodded, agreeing with a goofy grin. It was either the facts, or the slimy pictures that piqued the kids interest.

        “How far are you two?”

        “Fact 23,” Frisk signed. Toriel watched the kids hands before frowning.

        “Please forgive me if this is rude, but what is it you do with your hands?” Frisk blinked to Toriel, and then to you. You step in, gaining Toriel’s attention. You’d have to be the one to explain this.

        “On the surface, if a kid can’t talk or can’t hear, they sign, what Frisk does with their hands. It’s… a whole other language. It so they can still communicate with us.” The more you spoke, the more Toriel’s eyes begin to shimmer.

        “Really?” She asked excitedly.

        “Yeah. Since Frisk grew up not talking, me and them learned sign language so we could still converse.”

        “A language for those you can’t hear or speak… What if a child is sightless?” You tilt your head, tapping your chin.

        “They can speak just fine. But, oh, that’d be… braille, i’m pretty sure.”

        “Braille?”

        “Our words and letters are transcribed into bump patterns. People who are blind can feel it and still read.” You weren’t an expert on these things, but since you were the one there for the mute Frisk, you kind of learned about the other disabilities of other kids. Though, being Blind, Deaf, or Mute wasn’t really a disability. You had met a number of people who lived like anyone else who had sight, could hear, or speak. Maybe you should describe it as an...obstacle?

        “The surface is so amazing…” Her eyes practically sparkled at the knew knowledge.

        “____, can you ask her?” Frisk’s moving hands caught the woman's eyes and she watched them intently. You frowned and opened your mouth, but shut it when Toriel looked to you in wonder.

        “Ask her what?” You sign back.

        “About...You know.” Of course you knew. No matter how much you adored Toriel, how much you believed she was going to be some kind of… miracle, you know you both couldn’t stay. It wasn’t right. You had college to finish. As soon as it was over you could raise Frisk instead. You raise the kid and send your mother to rehab and maybe finally get the courage to get into contact with your father. You had been there for the kid, and it was your responsibility to be with them till the end. You felt a bit guilty that you had thought minutes earlier Toriel could be both of your quick fixes for family life.

        “Toriel,” You say, stepping closer to set a hand on her paw. “How do we exit the Ruins?” The woman stared longingly into your eyes. Looking… almost as if you had hit her. Her mouth opened with a silent plea, and then it clicked shut.

        “...I have something to do. Stay here.” Then she picked up Frisk, setting the child down in her warm seat with her book. The two of you watched the women hurry off, disappearing somewhere into the parlor.

        “Sorry.” You ruffle the kids head of hair.

        “Sorry? For what? We’d have to leave eventually kid. Remember, we gotta go and save your friends.” Frisk nodded slowly, standing. They took one last glance to the book before pointing off to where the women left.

        “She’s gone down stairs. You go ahead, I’ll be there in a minute.” You nod slowly, wondering if you should protest at all. Yet, by the kids frown and glistening eyes you take it they want to be alone. Frisk… Was mature for their age. They grew up a bit too fast. Sometimes, like this morning, it was good for the kid to come running to you, but they rarely did it. Was it… Your fault?

        “If you need me, tell me.” You run a hand through Frisk’s hair, letting it sit there for a long moment before dropping it back to your side. “I’m your big sister for a reason.” Frisk sniffles and nods, but doesn’t sign anything else.

        With a deep breath, you turn and hurry off.

        By the front door you find your bag and boots. So you slip the shoes on and shoulder the bag before you decide to make your way down the eerily dark steps. You had noticed them before, but never really thought anything of it.

        Reaching the bottom, you’re greeted with a dark stony hallway, like how the Ruin was built, but with Toriel standing at the end of where the light from up stairs reached, her back facing you.

        “You wish to know how to return ‘home’, do you not?” Her voice echoed around you, and something about her tone sent a chill up your spine. “Ahead of us lies the end of the Ruins. A one-way exit to the rest of the Underground.” She paused. “I am going to destroy it.”

        ….

        Wait. What?

        “Toriel, you can’t-”

        “No one will ever be able to leave again. Now be a good child and go upstairs.”

        “Come on-” But she’s already fast walking further in. You sigh, wanting to go after her, but Frisk hasn’t showed up. Which… This got you thinking.

        Why did Frisk always look so heartbroken around Toriel? They played this part out so many times… Did something happen to goat mom? Did Frisk never see her again or… or something worse? What if… What if to stop Toriel from destroying the exit Frisk-

        The thought halted in your mind and you felt your blood run cold.

        Frisk would never do something like that. They were just a kid!

        ...But this kid was very mature for their age.

        You take a quick look over your shoulder before sprinting forward.

        Maybe you could change the outcome that has Frisk so scared.

        “Every human that falls down here meets the same fate.” Toriel had paused again farther down in the hall. “I have seen it again and again.” Her voice was lower now, duller. She sounded so put out. “They come. They leave. They die.”

        “They... die?”

        “You naive child… If you leave the Ruins, They… Asgore,” The name was spit out with venom. “Will kill you. I am only protecting you and your sibling, do you understand?” Her breath hiccuped at the end. “...Go to your room.” Then she was off again.

        You couldn’t turn back though.

        Turning back meant being stranded here forever. Turning back means never having the chance to fix anything. Turning back meant running from your problems. You couldn’t do that. If you hadn’t in the past, you couldn’t do it now.

        You moved forward.

        “Do not try to stop me. This is your final warning.” This time when Toriel walked forward, you followed just on her heal.

        Finally you two come up to a door and she stopped just before it, you only a little ways back. She wouldn’t face you still, and you could see her shaking a little.

        “You want to leave so badly?”

        “Toriel-”

        “Hmph. You are just like the others.” She kept cutting you off. “There is only one solution to this. Prove yourself… Prove to me you are strong enough to survive!” Just as you’re waiting for your chest to burn, she glances to you over her shoulder. Yet, it’s not at you, it's to someone behind you. “...Wait. ...Why are you looking at me like that? Like you have seen a ghost. Do you know something I do not? No… That is impossible.” Slowly, you point your own head in the direction and you see Frisk leaning on a wall behind you.

        “Frisk…” You say softly, but you can’t say anymore as your chest erupts in heat and a green glow showers your front.

        Toriel… Is blocking the way, her paws glowing red.

        You think about talking, but her stare pierces you and the words stick in your throat. Instead, her response is to raise her paws, letting actual fire balls float out of them. Then, their suddenly flying towards you. You scramble to duck and dodge, but a couple skim your skin.

        This isn’t a joke. Toriel is… Actually trying to burn you.

        Fear grips your heart.

        “Toriel-” You start, but you shake your head. Instead, you move to grab for your bat. You can show her your tough, and then she’ll let you and Frisk out.

        “Nn!” Frisk’s noise makes you jump.  

        Right… You promised Frisk you wouldn’t hurt the women.

        … Plus, you aren’t sure you could even strike her if you wanted to. It’s one thing attacking a couple guys who deserve it for beating on your sibling… but it’s another hitting a goat mom who’s just trying to protect you.

        What are you supposed to do?

        More fireballs fly by you, the pattern changing up every other attack, but you don’t move forward or away. A couple hit you, and they hurt.

        They burn. They sting and they light your clothes if you're not careful.

        “What are you doing?” She suddenly asks, anger lacing her words as she swings her arm, releasing a row of flames. You jump over them, spinning around a couple more. “Attack or run away!” You give the women a look. “What are you proving this way?” She throws more, but you see they’re slowing down. You duck under one, but  run into another.

        It.. doesn’t hurt as much now.

        “Stop it. Stop looking at me that way.” Toriel takes a deep breath, but you see her glare wavering. “Go away!”

        When you see her hand hesitate, that’s when you take out your bat. She eyes it, looking to you fully. She’s about to send out another attack, and you raise the bat,

        And you throw it to the side.

        The last bit of will to fight you disappears in her eyes and she looks so… wilted.

        “I… Know you want to go home…” She says softly, looking to the ground.

        When she does this, a white glow catches your eyes. Looking down as well, you see… two things floating in front of you. They pulse below your green soul, both begging for you to touch them. One reads "Kill", but the other one reads "Mercy". You don’t know what they are, but a gut feeling leads your hand to gently run its fingers over the "Mercy" button.

        “But please… go upstairs now.”

        Mercy

        “I promise I will take good care of both of you here.”

        Mercy

        “I know we do not have much, but…”

        Mercy

        “We can have a good life here.”

        Mercy

        “Why are you making this so difficult?”

        Mercy

        “Please, go upstairs.” The pain racing over her features makes you hesitate to hit the button again. The look almost makes you usher Frisk to return to their room, you right behind them. But...

        Mercy

        “...Ha..Haha… Pathetic, is it not? I cannot save even a single child.” Your heart pulled and you felt yourself choke up.

        ...Mercy

        “....No, I understand. You two would just be unhappy trapped down here. The Ruins are very small once you get used to them. It would not be right for either of you to grow up in a place like this.” She paused, trying to gain control of her wavering voice.

        Your hand was shaking over the button. You were happy to see it fade away.

        “My expectations… My Loneliness… My fear… For you, my children… I will put them aside.” As your soul sunk back into your chest… You still didn’t feel whole. “If you truly wish to leave the Ruins… I will not stop you. However, when you leave… Please do not come back.” You had to bite the inside of your cheek to not cry. “I hope you two understand.” Then, in one fell swoop, she scooped you into her arms. Frisk ran over, freely crying, burying themself into Toriel’s chest when she opened the hug up for the kid as well.

        The hug was everything you expected and more. Warm, motherly, comforting, fluffy, and a bit damp. But.... That was because all three of you were silently crying now.

        “Goodbye, my children.” She then released you two too soon. As she began walking off, Frisk hurriedly grabbed your attention and began signing. Getting the message, you took a deep breath in and-

        “We love you Mom!” You're yell echoed down the hall, and you heard yourself say those four words over and over again.

        Toriel’s footsteps freeze for a moment, and you’re sure you feel her gaze on your back, and then there's silence again. It’s quickly broken by both you and Frisk sniffling. Without words, you take up Frisk hand, squeezing it, and then leading them off through the door.

        The hallway beyond that is long, but the longer you two walk, the more it brightens up. To the point it’s almost as lit as Toriel’s house just before you walk through the archway at the end of that one.

        Then, It’s all pitch black except for another spot light and another patch of grass, just like the one you two found at the place you fell. And Again, this spotlight has no one or thing under it, so you lead the kid past it.

        You push the two heavy doors at the end open, and you are immediately greeted with coldness.

        “Frisk-” You start, but the kid is already pushing at the stone slab, helping close it behind you two.

        Outside is… Much different than how you expected it to be. You expected cave like walls and ceiling, more… underground trapped feelings, but instead you’re staring into a thick forest of real trees, and a walkway dug into the snow that coats everything your eyes can see.

        How did snow even get under here?

        The light was much better on your eyes, a lot like Toriel’s house, but more.. Natural. Natural how, you weren’t sure.

        You look down to Frisk, taking in the puffiness around their eyes and their red nose. You sigh softly, running a hand through your own hair.

        Man… That was a thing that just happened. You just fought, like an actual fight, with an old goat mom. She was now probably… crying, huh? Jeez, you, this, all of this just seemed awful.

        “Is this.. What got you so sad? Do we.. never get to see her again?” Frisk slowly looks up to you and give a half hearted shrug.

        “Depends. Sometimes it turns out good, sometimes it turns out bad.” You nod, crossing your arms to get more heat to your body. You both might be wearing warm clothes, but definitely not warm enough for a snowy forest.

        “Before we start off again, here,” You pass them your bag, and turn around. Crouching, you reach your hands behind you. “I’ll carry you on my back, my bag on your back.” You glance to Frisk, happy to see a smile begin splitting their cheeks. They loved when they were carried, always said they liked feeling taller.

        They climbed on without hesitation, your bag snug on their back. Hopefully, being squashed between you and a full bag would bring them extra warmth.

        “Then, let's carry on!” The kid laughed, pointing a finger forward in a way to say, ‘Onward!’.

        Your boots crunch in the snow for every step, your breath coming out in warm, visible, puffs in front of your face. The silence of the forest is.. Peaceful in a way. As if they knew what Frisk and you had just went through and were trying to be kind.

        “Nn-Mm.” The kid bounced on your back, their golden hand gesturing down to your feet. Looking, you see a tough looking branch in the middle of the path. You just about walked over it without taking notice.

        “You want it?” They nod. Crouching down, you try to lift it. You can manage it, but you know it’s way too much for the kids. Instead, you lay it back down and stand before Frisk slides off your back. “Let’s look for a different one. We could totally find a better walking stick.” You tilted your head just in time to catch Frisk’s pout, which makes you laugh at the sight. You continue forward, bouncing them up on your back, making them giggle and wrap their small arms around your neck. “Wanna hear a joke? What’s brown and sticky-”

        Snap

        You freeze in place.

        Slowly, very slowly, you look over your shoulder to see the heavy thick branch shattered. Your heart drops to the pit of your stomach and you immediately turn forward, quickening your pace. Someone or something had just broken it, and you wanted nothing to do with whatever did it.

        You feel someone following you both. For a second, you swear you even hear footsteps. Without stopping, you whip your head back to see if you can see anyone, but not a soul was there.

        Coming up to a weirdly built bridge with large posts across it, you feel a cold shiver run through you and suddenly, you can’t take another step forward. You inhale sharply when the hairs on your neck stand up and you know someone is behind you.

        “Human,” The voice is deep, making you shiver again. At this point you can’t tell if it’s because of the cold or not.  

        Frisk suddenly turns around on your back, jerking you slightly. You stumbled to fully turn round so the kid doesn’t fall off of you. You keep your eyes down, not really ready to face whoever owned the voice.

        A hand, a pearly white hand, is stuck into your view and nervously you take it.

        Two things happened immediately. First, you realized the hand was actually very bony. No, literally it was bones. Secondly, a loud fart noise reverberated through the quiet and your lips curled in as you tried not to laugh at it.

        “Heh, the old whoopee cushion in the hand trick…” The voice paused. “Wait a sec… Have you heard it before or something? You turned around before I said to...Weird…. Whatever. You’re a human, right?” At that, you finally rose your eyes.

        They didn’t move too far up.

        Two black sockets, with pinpricks of white, stared into you, a large smile that was a bit odd looking stretched over a knocked up skull. It was tilted in a tired way towards you. You blink slowly, guessing that the… Skeleton was about the height of Frisk. Maybe an inch taller.

        “I’m Sans. Sans the skeleton.” Your guess was right. Though, it was kind of obvious.

        His pinpricks looked you over, and his brow bone dipped in confusion. How he did that was beyond you. He said something under his breath, sounding like ‘you're new’, but it was just barely audible, you could be mistaken.

        “I’m ____, the human,” You say, then shift the kid on your back. “And this is Frisk, also a human.” The large smile on the skeleton’s face widens a bit at your dripping voice every time you said human. You both were as obviously human as he was a Skeleton. At least, in your opinion.

        “Nice to meet you both. I’m actually supposed to be on watch for humans right now.” You take a step back immediately. It was reflex since you had Frisk on you. “But,” He immediately followed up. “Y’know… I don’t really care about capturing anybody.”

        “Capturing humans?” You frowned heavily. That did not sound good. “That's a thing?”

        “Yeah,” He says. “Now my brother, Papyrus,” Sans… Papyrus… weren’t those fonts? “He’s a human-hunting fanatic.”

        “Awesome.” You spout dryly.

        “Hey, actually, I think that’s him over there.” Seeing Sans look off somewhere behind you, you whip around. “I have an idea. Go through this gate thingy.”

        “Oh! That’s what these poles were for? … I think they're a bit to spaced out.”

        “Yeah,” Sans says, shrugging at your side. “My bro made the bars too wide to stop anyone. Again.” You snort at the add on. The skeleton moves around you, waving his bony hand for you to follow behind. However, you don’t move.

        This guy was leading you straight to a human hunting skeleton. He just.. Wanted you to follow him? Really? You weren’t stupid. Or ballsy enough to risk Frisk.

        Sans stops on the other side of the bridge, turning to look to you, raising his brow bone.

        You need to ask how he does that.

        “Come on kid.” You purse your lips.

        “Look. If your brother really hunts humans-”

        “You’ll be fine.” He says, cutting in.

        “- I can’t risk Frisk.” You continue without skipping a beat. You nudged the kid a bit, looking to their half lidded eyes. Frisk looked ready to fall asleep.

        “.... You both will be fine.” He says again. He gave you a look, a reassuring one, you think.

        You’re about to protest again, and if he wouldn’t listen you’d bolt, but Frisk rose their hand into your sight.

        “It’s okay.” They sign. “Nothings going to happen.” When their hand drops, you sigh loudly.

        “Alright. Fine.” You trudge after Sans, who’s laughing to himself about something.

        “Quick,” He blurts when you three have come to a sort-of clearing with only a couple things in it. “Behind that conveniently-shaped lamp.” The lamp Sans gestures to is obviously for Frisk. So, you walk over and slide the kid off. Taking the bag from them, you decide to dart behind the wooden desk off to the side.

        Crouching down, so you don’t sit right in the snow, you lean your back up against the lower siding.

        ...

        Why was there Mustard, Ketchup, and Relish staked behind this station? You know what, you really don’t want to know. This obviously wasn’t a food stand of any sort. So whatever it was doing here was for a reason you were sure you’d find too weird. You didn’t need anything else weird right now.

        Peeking around, you can see Frisk, Sans, and someone suddenly run in.

        “Sup, bro?” Sans says leisurely, but the other skeleton, who looks almost the complete opposite of Sans, looks annoyed.

        “YOU KNOW WHAT ‘SUP’, BROTHER!” The loud voice makes you jump. How did that tall skeleton have the lungs for that voice when he didn’t even have lungs? “IT’S BEEN EIGHT DAYS AND YOU STILL HAVEN’T RECALIBRATED. YOUR. PUZZLES!” Jeez, more puzzles? You almost groan out loud. “YOU JUST HANG AROUND OUTSIDE YOUR STATION!” The tall skeleton animatedly waves to where you were hiding. You were surprised he hadn’t noticed- wait. He can completely see Frisk right now, right? He’s practically staring at the kid. They weren’t hidden from him at all!

        “WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?!”

        “Staring at this lamp.” Oh… no… “It’s really cool. Do you wanna look?” Was Sans… seriously trying to sell Frisk out right now?!

        “NO! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT! WHAT IF A HUMAN COMES THROUGH  HERE!? I WANT TO BE READY!” The skeleton is now stomping in place. He reminds you fondly of how Frisk would get if they threw a tantrum.

        They may act mature for their age, but they were still a kid, and still your younger sibling.

        “I WILL CAPTURE A HUMAN! THEN, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS…” Now he was posing, a makeshift orange cape on his back flaping a little in the imaginary wind. “WILL GET ALL THE THINGS I UTTERLY DESERVE.  RESPECT...RECOGNITION… I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD. PEOPLE WILL ASK TO, BE MY, ‘FRIEND?’ I WILL BATHE IN A SHOWER OF KISSES EVERY MORNING.” His rant was oddly cute.

        “Hmm,” Sans tap his chin with the tip of a bone, and briefly his eyes connect with your’s. You can’t tell if he’s smirking or if it's been the same smile that he’s had plastered to his face the whole time. “Maybe this lamp will help you.”

        “SANS! YOU ARE NOT HELPING! YOU LAZYBONES! ALL YOU DO IS SIT AND BOONDOGGLE!” You decide your new favorite word is boondoggle.

        But only if this Papyrus guys says it.

        “YOU GET LAZIER AND LAZIER EVERYDAY!”

        “Hey, take it easy. I’ve gotten a ton of work done today. A skeleton.” Both you and Frisk simultaneously snort and cover your mouths, trying to stifle all your laughter. Bad puns were your kryptonite.

        “SANS!”

        “Come on. You’re smiling.”

        “I AM AND I HATE IT! SIGH…” He said that out loud. What’s up with monsters saying ‘Z’s when they’re pretending to sleep, or actually saying ‘sigh’? “WHY DOES SOMEONE AS GREAT AS ME… HAVE TO DO SO MUCH JUST TO GET SOME RECOGNITION.”

        “Wow, sounds like you’re really working yourself… down to the bone.” You had to bite the inside of your cheek to stop any of your harsh giggles.

        “UGH! I WILL ATTEND TO MY PUZZLES… AS FOR YOUR WORK? PUT A LITTLE MORE, ‘BACKBONE’ INTO IT! NYEHHEHEHEHE!” The tall skeleton then scurried off.

        You wait for a moment, to make sure he really had left, and then when Sans says it’s okay for you two too come out, you let out all of your pent up laughter as you stand. You have to use the counter of the station you hid behind for support.

        “Oh- oh wow,” You make it over to Frisk, who has tears of laughter in their eyes. You were so happy they had your humor. “That was great!” Sans is grinning at the two of you, his hands stuffed deep in the pockets of his blue jacket.

        “You two oughta get going. He might come back, and if he does…” Sans winks. “You’ll have to sit through more of my hilarious jokes.” You give a nod. You go to hand Frisk your bag, but they hold up their hands.

        “Where’s your bat?” You blink slowly, and then, it hits you.

        "Oh no! Come on!” You click your tongue, running a hand through your hair in annoyance.

        “Uh, what?” Sans says, looking at the two of you in confusion. Mostly though, they were on Frisk’s hands.

        “My, ugh, bat. It’s this base ball bat that I practically treasured. I… lost it.” You then look to Frisk. “Never picked it back up. Dang… Do you think we needed it?” Frisk hums to themself, but then shrugs.

        “I don’t think so.”

        “Well, bah. Fine. Maybe she’ll take it for me.” Frisk nodded in agreeance.

        “Kids, what’s the holdup?” Sans looked between you two again. He was very lost in your exchange. “Look, there’s nothin to be afraid of. It’s just a dark cavern filled with skeletons and horrible monsters.” You rolled your eyes, but smiled as you shifted the bag into Frisk’s hold. Crouching down and letting them climb back onto you, you turn to Sans when you’re up at your full height.

        “Right. I think that’s the most reassuring thing i've heard in awhile.” You say. His grins widdens.

        “You’re welcome.” You give a nod, and then a wave when you can unhook your hand from Frisk’s ankle. Just as you turn to leave and continue through the snow, Sans deep voice echoes out again.

        “Hey, hate to bother ya,” You pause, looking over your shoulder. The skeleton is tapping his finger bones against his skull. “But can you do me a favor?”

        “Depends on the favor, really.”

        “I was thinking… My brother’s been kind of down lately… He’s never seen a human before. Specially not two of them, and seeing both of you might just make his day.” Then, seeing your hesitation he immediately plugs in, “Don’t worry, he’s not dangerous. Even if he tries to be.”

        Going face to face with a human hunting skeleton, whose brother swears he’s not dangerous. In any other situation, this would be a trap. The skeleton is obviously just trying to help his brother out by supplying the two humans for the guy to capture.

        ...But this wasn’t any other situation.

        “Alright. But you promise no funny business?” He grins and nods, putting a hand to his chest.

        “I swear on my soul.” You purse your lips, but nod. “Thanks a million. I’ll be up a ahead.” Just as he turns, something pops into your head.

        “Hey,” He stops, looking over his shoulder to you.

        “Yeah kid?”

        “You’re a real comic, sans. I found your jokes pretty humerus, tibia honest.” Then with that, you turn and walk off with a bounce in your step.

        Happening upon a save star, you tap it.

        The three amazing puns you just made fill you with Kindness.

Chapter Text

        “I spy with my little eye...something white.

        “...Is it snow?”

        “...yeah.” You both sigh as you hike the kid up farther on your back.

        It’s cold. Freezing. Painfully icy- you could definitely vouch for that one since you fell moments ago and bruised your hip pretty badly-, and it was way too chilly for Frisk. The kid was shivering against your back.

        During your journey through the snow in search of a town of some sort, you two had run into the skelebrothers multiple times.

        The first time, you found out the human hunting fanatic that was Sans’ brother, Papyrus, was like those villains you’d seen in cartoons growing up. They’d monologue too much, say too much, and give time for the good guys to escape.

        The second time this was only proven more accurate when you two were faced with Papyrus’s first puzzle. It was an electric maze that Frisk swore up and down that they could handle. The reason you weren’t doing the puzzle for the kid was because one, maybe you were a little too overprotective, and two, because Papyrus said only one of you could work on a puzzle at a time, and you two had to switch back and forth. Apparently it’s a puzzle rule made by the great Papyrus.

        Long story short, the guy must’ve walked in something because when he went through to give Frisk the controls, he made a path for them to walk through without a single problem.

        “Hey… Just wondering.” You suddenly say, looking to the kid that walked at your side. After the first puzzle, Frisk said that they’ll walk so they wouldn’t fall asleep. You were up for that, because you didn’t want the kid falling asleep being so cold… It freaked you out. “Those two wouldn’t happen to be apart of those friends we’re trying to save, would they?”

        “They are, how’d you know?” You shrug.

        “He wears a battle body, Frisk, anyone who looks that cool has to be your friend.”

        “I don't get it…” You laugh, patting their shoulder

        “Someone so friendly will befriend someone as friendly as you. It’s what friends do.”

        “..I think you said friends to many times.

        “Does it still sound like a word?”

        “Yeah-

        “Then I haven’t said it enough yet.” You grin as Frisk laughs.

        Coming up to another bridge, you notice a new face and a very colorful attire and stand.

        There’s a blue rabbit man standing to the side, look wilted with his ears hanging so low. He’s grumbling to himself in a put out manner. Then, he spots you two.

        “Oh!” His ears fly up and he’s just beaming. “Two customers! Hello! Would you like some Nice Cream?” You tilt your head in wonder, walking over to him. He gestures a fluffy paw over the cart, showing you the many flavors inside.

        “Can we get some?” Frisk signs in excitement. Making you snort.

        “Aren’t you cold enough?”

        “No. Not if it involves Nice Cream.” You laugh and turn to the rabbit who wasn’t even trying to keep up with Frisk fast hands.

        “It’s the frozen treat that warms your heart,” He says brightly. You’re not sure if it’s memorized, if he made it up on the spot, or if he just generally believes it. You liked it none the less.

        “You know… sure. Two Nice Creams please.” The man looks like he wants to jump over the moon as he shoves two pops before you. You go to fish around in your bag for money, gold pieces that Frisk collects whenever monsters try to Fight you guys, but the kid is already paying the man.

        “Here you go! Have a super-duper day!” His happiness is contagious, and you find yourself feeling bubbly as you walk off, ice- Nice cream in one hand, frisk in the other.

        “Isn’t it the two humans.” Mid lick, you’re stopped by a grinning Sans. Your brows dip in confusion. How had he gotten in front of you two? At the last puzzle you two were at, you left before him. You guys were on a one way path so…

        “Nm!” Frisk pulls at your hand. “Can I go play?” They point to a large snow ball off to the side. You’re about to give them a green light, but you notice something on their cheek and you snicker. Crouching down you lick your thumb and then rub it on the Nice Cream stain at the corner of their mouth.

        “Sure kid.” Frisk grinned, throwing their arms up before running off. You watch them roll the large snowball somewhere.

        “So,” You start, looking to the skeleton at your side. “How’d you get here?”

        “Would you believe it, I walked.” His grin is smug. You know it is.

        “Right, right. Duh.” Your voice dripped with sarcasm as you finished off the Nice Cream. It’s was actually pretty good. You’d have to see if there were any more places in the Underground that sold the stuff.

        “You look nice today.”

        …

        “What?” You looked to Sans in confusion. He holds your look before laughing and pointing to the Nice Cream stick. In a font you can only describe as ‘happy’, are the words Sans had just said to you. You blink slowly before a smile lights your face.

        “Aw. These are so cute!” You laugh as you wrap the stick in the wrapper, sliding it into a pocket of your bag. “I might get addicted to the stuff.”

        “That seems a bit too sweet for it’s own good.” You rolled your eyes, but couldn’t suppress your smile.

        “Ice one,” You say as Frisk comes running back up to you, snow and ice covering them. What in the world did they even do?

        Frisk stops in front of you and Sans. They look to the laughing Sans, and then to your cheeky smile. Their eyes light a bit, and then they reach their hands up to you. You, getting the idea, pick them up easily.

        “Alright, we’ll be heading off.” You dust the kid off as best as you can, but you can feel their whole body trembling. Maybe you shouldn’t have let them out of your sight…

        “Don’t slip up.” Oh, more ice puns?

        “Snow problem.” Frisk is laughing as you walk away, happy to get the last pun in, again.

        While walking this time, you keep a look-out for any short sprinting skeletons trying to get ahead of the humans just to confuse them.

        Frisk sneezes and you gulp. The kid… couldn’t be getting sick, could they? You pull them close to your body, trying to give them as much of your heat as you can. They couldn’t get sick now. You had no medicine on you, and you didn’t know if the Underground had any. Could monsters even get sick?

        “WHERE ARE THE HUMANS SANS?” Papyrus’s voice screams out from somewhere ahead of you.

        “DON'T KNOW? BUT YOU JUST SAID-” You can’t hear anyone reply, but it doesn’t surprise you. You had never met anyone who had such a voice as Papyrus. “UGH. FINE. JUST NO MORE OF YOUR DREADFUL PUNS.”  

        “You’re gonna be fine kid,” You say, mostly to yourself as you the kid pushes themself as close as they can to you. How did they survive this when they were by themselves? They had to have gotten this far pretty easily. You couldn’t imagine the kid trekking through snow in their thin clothes, walking everywhere and having no one to carry them or be their source of heat. Were you doing something wrong? Maybe there was something the kid did, or found when they were by themselves you hadn’t…. Or maybe because you were there, taking the lead, new outcomes were being produced.

        “AH! THERE THEY ARE!” Your head shoots up to see Sans and Papyrus- Sans!? How did he- but you were looking everywhere! There is no way the lazybone- “HUMANS! WELCOME! THIS PUZZLE WILL SURELY STUMP YOU, CREATED BY MY OWN-” Papyrus pauses, his eyes gliding down to a single sheet of paper that separated you and the skelebros. “SANS! WHERE’S THE PUZZLE!?”

        “It’s right there. On the ground.” Everyone’s eyes go to the sheet of paper. “Trust me. There’s no way they can get past this one.” You looked between the skeletons, who are both looking at you expectantly. Slowly, you walk over and pick the paper up. Looking over it, you see that it’s a ‘Monster Kidz’ word search. You grin when you see one of the ‘words’ you have to find is just the top row of random letters. You set the paper down and then showily step over it.

        “SANS! THAT DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!”

        “Whoops.” Sans then snaps his fingers. “I knew I should have used today's crossword instead.” Papyrus gasps, looking completely taken back.

        “WHAT!? CROSSWORD?! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT. IN MY OPINION… JUNIOR JUMBLE IS EASILY THE HARDEST.”

        “..What? Really, dude? That easy-peasy word scramble?” Sans shook his head. “That’s for baby bones.” Papyrus crossed his arms and looks away.

        “UN. BELIEVABLE.” Then, the whites in his eye sockets darted to you and he leaned down to get on level with your height. “HUMAN! SOLVE THIS DISPUTE!” You hummed in thought, shaking the kid a bit in your arms to keep them awake.

        “Jumble,” Frisk signed, giving you a smile. You nod.

        “I’m agreeing with the kid. We think the Junior Jumble is much harder.”

        “HA! HA! YES! HUMANS MUST BE VERY INTELLIGENT IF THEY ALSO FIND JUNIOR JUMBLE SO DIFFICULT! NYEH! HEH! HEH HEH!” Papyrus was then off again. You sighed, about to move on, by Sans stopped you.

        “Thanks for saying ‘Junior Jumble’ just to appease my brother.” You stick your tongue out.

        “I didn’t. Are we not allowed to think Junior Jumble is hard?” Sans just stared at you. For a long moment, he was just silent. The look he gave you made you burst with laughter.

        “S-Sorry,” You wipe at your eye, unable to hold back the laughs during Sans silence.

        “For a moment there I thought you really were stumped by those things.” At first you’re confused to why he exaggerated ‘stumped’, but when you glance down, you see his foot is on a small… stump. The groan that leaves you makes him laugh.

        When his laughter subsided, his eyes go to the child you’re cradling.

        “Whats up with the kid?” Sans takes a step closer, looking over Frisk.

        “They’re cold. We didn’t really dress for the weather.” You shrug. Sans hums, looking you and the kid over.

        “Well, Snowdin isn’t far from here-”

        “Snowdin?” The pun didn’t go over your head.

        “Yeah. A town.” He points off to where Papyrus ran off too.

        “Great. Okay. Then, we got this Frisk, almost there.” Frisk waves their hand at you, cuddling more into your body. You begin thinking that this kid isn’t sick, but just wants to take a nap. Honestly, you hope it’s just them wanting to take a break. Sans waves you two off.

        The way to the next puzzle Papyrus sets up is a bit harder.

        Someone hid a switch in this circle of trees, and not thinking to check under a pile of snow, it took you almost an hour to figure out how to get over the wall of spikes blocking your way. Even when you finally found the switch, you were jumped by two dogs, who were a couple you, quickly. found out. Frisk had to save you on that one. The kid rolled around in the snow, which you didn’t approve of with how sniffly they were, and then let the dogs re-sniff them. When they did, Frisk pet them and their minds were...expanded, they said. Apparently they thought Frisk was a puppy who pet dogs. Leaving that odd area, you came up to an easy button pressing puzzle that Frisk also solved. Afterwards though, they immediately asked to be carried on your back again. You felt like an Uber.

        “WHAT!?” You jumped at the sound of Papyrus. “HOW DID YOU AVOID MY TRAP!? AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY… IS THERE ANY LEFT FOR ME!?” It took you a second to realize that Papyrus was talking about the Spaghetti you two found a while back. Neither of you could eat it since it was frozen, and the special microwave supplied had no way to be plugged in. You both had to leave it behind. Though you two took that stop to eat snacks.

        “We.. uh, left it there.” You say slowly. Hopefully he isn’t mad. The letter was written like he was really confident you two would be ‘japed’ into being delayed. Technically, you two actually were.

        “REALLY!? WOWIE… YOU RESISTED THE FLAVOR OF MY HOME COOKED PASTA… JUST SO YOU COULD SHARE IT WITH ME!?” You nodded along. Who were you to tell the guy that his home made pasta was frozen and unedible. Definitely not you. “FRET NOT HUMANS! I, MASTER CHEF PAPYRUS… WILL MAKE YOU ALL THE PASTA YOU COULD EVER WANT! HEH HEH HEH NYEH!” Papyrus then walked over to you, set his hand on your back, and pushed you along.

        You couldn’t really not follow the guy to wherever he was leading you. The skeleton was strong, even without muscles. Plus, where he was heading was the only way to go, so you walked- more like jogged because of his obscenely long legs- at his side.

        “OH YES, HUMAN!” Papyrus stopped you both at the edge of another button pushing puzzle. Instead of looking at it, he looked to Frisk. “SANS INFORMED ME THAT THE LITTLE HUMAN IS COLD! WHICH IS WHY IT HAS BEEN TAKING YOU SO LONG TO ARRIVE.”

        “Oh, you’ve been waiting for us? Sorry!” Papyrus held up his gloved hands.

        “IT IS NO PROBLEM. WHILE I WAS WAITING, I WENT AND GRABBED YOU AND THE TINY HUMAN SOME THINGS TO PROTECT YOUR FRAGILE BODIES FROM THE COLD.” Papyrus then pulls out two wads of fabric from the top of his battle body chest plate and drops them into your arms. “ONE IS A COAT OF MINE FOR YOU, THE OTHER IS A COAT OF SANS FOR THE SMALL ONE.” Unfolding a yellow-orange colored ball, it unravels to fall into the snow, even when you are holding it up high. You guess this one was Papyrus’s. The other ball is an off blue color, looking a bit purple, being very fluffy and bulky and much shorter. This one was obviously Sans.

        “Papyrus this is…” You trail off as Frisk slides off of your back. You turn to them and hurriedly help them into Sans’ old bulky jacket. It’s almost too cute on Frisk. The kid’s head stuck out, their cheeks plump and pinchable, and their arms stick out to the sides because of how big the jacket was. You just wanted to squeeze them. “Thank you so much Papyrus! This is just what we needed.” You turned to him, giving a blinding smile. Papyrus’s jaw unhinged again, but you were too busy tying the ends of Papyrus’s jacket around your waist, so they wouldn’t drag on the ground behind you, too notice.

        “O-OF COURSE!” He recovered quickly. “I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, IS ALWAYS HELPFUL!” He then paused, and hurriedly gestured to the large scale puzzle to your side. “LIKE THIS PUZZLE. THE ANSWER HAS CHANGED BECAUSE I WAS TRYING TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE MY FACE. HAVE NO FEAR! THE GREAT PAPYRUS WILL-”

        “Done.

        “I think Frisk’s got it.” The bundle of coat waddled back over to you both, giving a toothy grin. They had gone off as soon as you got the jacket zipped up and had run through the buttons like they had it memorized. Honestly, they probably did.

        “W-WOWIE! YOU SOLVED IT! AND YOU DID IT ALL WITHOUT MY HELP… INCREDIBLE! I’M IMPRESSED! YOU MUST CARE ABOUT PUZZLES LIKE I DO! WELL, I’M SURE YOU’LL LOVE THE NEXT PUZZLE THEN! IT MIGHT EVEN BE TOO EASY FOR YOU!” The very excited Papyrus then patted Frisks head before moving on. You flipped frisk furry hood up to mess with them before also walking in the direction of Papyrus’s fading laughter.

        “The coats look good on you two.” Sans, like every time a puzzle was completed, was standing at the end of it.

        “You’re just complimenting your own jacket.” Sans shrugs.

        “Coat me.” You wave at him, turning to Frisk to make sure they're following you like an adorable duckling, but they pause just in front of Sans. The guy looks down on the kid and you see his smile twitch. “...You must be really good at puzzles, huh? I mean. It’s impossible for you to have seen this one before. Right?”

        “Frisk,” You blurt, getting both of their eyes on you. “We’re going.” Your tone was tense. You glance to Sans, but then look to Frisk whose hurrying back to your side. You can see Papyrus just up a head, and you no longer want the kid near Sans.

        That skeleton knew something. Something that you were positive was completely impossible.

        “HEY!” When you get to the bridge, Papyrus swivels away from a machine you had just spotted-

        ...How did Sans...Get there? You literally just…- You whip around to the spot he was just at, to see nothing but his footprint embedded in the snow. There were none of his leading away from the spot.

        “IT’S THE HUMANS! YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS PUZZLE! IT WAS MADE BY THE GREAT DR. ALPHYS! YOU SEE THESE TILES!? ONCE I THROW THIS SWITCH! THEY WILL BEGIN TO CHANGE COLOR!” Then, Papyrus proceeds to explain every. Single. Color and combination. It would be rude say you zoned out.

        But you totally did.

        There was no way you were going to keep track of these instructions when the man, skeleton, telling you them was yelling and speed talking.

        “DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

        “Y-Yes!” You jumped and nodded. The one puzzle that you had to do, and it was this monstrous thing? You couldn’t imagine there being even more, harder puzzles after this one…

        “GREAT! THEN THERE’S ONE LAST THING… THIS PUZZLE… IS ENTIRELY RANDOM!” Frisk gasped and then giggled. Papyrus looked happy to see the kid so ‘surprised’. “YES! WHEN I PULL THIS SWITCH, IT WILL MAKE A PUZZLE… THAT HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE. NOT EVEN I WILL KNOW THE SOLUTION! NYEH HEH HEH!” You commented in your head that he really had that evil laugh down. “GET READY…!” He flipped the large switched with grace, slamming it down very showily.

        Before you, you watch the many glowing tiles begin flickering. Faster, and faster, until you had to look away in fear you’d be sick.

        Click!

        You looked back… only to bite your bottom lip very hard so not to laugh out right. Papyrus stared long and hard before just silently walking away. The path was of pink blocks, which you vaguely remembering being free-for-alls, and on either side of the pink path was red squares, which were the no-for-alls. Frisk happily waddled across, and you think again how terribly cute they are in the coat.

        As you make your way across, you shoo Frisk to continue and wait for you. Once Frisk is out of hearing range, you turn a sharp look on Sans.

        “Look, I don’t know what you’re getting at, but whatever it is, leave Frisk out of it.” Sans raises a brow bone.

        “I don’t know-”

        “Don’t try that. The kid is scared enough as it is in a freezing place full of strangers. They don’t need a skeleton talking to them like their some crook.”

        Okay so, you were definitely being unfair. You knew Frisk was hiding something. You’ve been aware of that since the kid started acting weird at Toriel’s, You also weren’t stupid. The way Sans talked meant that he knew something about what the kid was hiding. Compared to him, you were severely out of the loop… But this was Frisk. Your family. There was something hostile about Sans when he looked at your sibling, and you didn’t like it. So yes, you were lying your ass off, covering for whatever Frisk had done, and you weren’t ashamed.

        Sans studied your face. Looking for something. Though, he didn’t seem to find it.

        “Sorry I… They just remind me someone.” You frown, and nod. “Hey…” He says slowly, testing the waters. “You know that spaghetti from earlier? It wasn’t too bad for my brother.”

        “...Really?”

        “Yeah. Since he started cooking lessons, he’s been improving a lot. I bet if he keeps it up, next year he’ll even make something edible.” That makes you crack a smile.

        “Now i’m even more excited to take Papyrus up on his promise.”

        “Oh, a promise?”

        “Yeah. He said he’s going to make me and Frisk as much spaghetti as we want. Hope he doesn't forghetti.” Sans makes an unruly snort, that makes you laugh.

        “I’m going to go catch up with Frisk,” You say, already turning to see if you can find the kid with your eyes alone. “See you soon Sans.”

        “Yeah, bye kid.. And, uh, Sorry about all of that.” You stare him down for a moment, but then smile kindly.

        “Thanks for apologizing.” You jog off.

        Okay, so maybe you felt a little bad about lying to the guy. He honestly didn’t seem like a bad person…. But Frisk came first.

        You follow Frisk’s small little foot prints.

        They went… much farther than you thought.

        You follow the boot prints past a dog in armor trying to building something, a teen antelope that is pretty rude, through an icy puzzle that you accidentally slid off of. Below it you found another set of prints, meaning Frisk had too fallen off at a point, but also two snow sculptures. One was of Papyrus, and it was pretty damn good, and the other was a pile of snow with red marker saying ‘Sans’. One could say they were.. Skulltures.

        …

        You follow Frisk’s footprints back up, correctly going through the ice puzzle this time, and then through a field of snow poffs. When you reach the end you find the kid under… a humongous dog in armor. Like nothing is weird, Frisk is scratching the dog's head, and the dog is just eating up the attention. Walking over, the kid notices your presence. So does the dog. It scrambles up, looming over you, and gives you large puppy eyes.

        You pet him, but then shoo him off. The dog doesn’t look like it took offense, and instead licks Frisk’s face before going off across the large bridge you and Frisk were aiming for. In the distance, you can can make out lights of, what you hope to be, Snowdin.

        “Right. Well. You ready kid?” You help the turtled kid to their feet.

        “When we go home, or get our own home… can we get a dog?

        “...Anything you want, Frisk.” The kid's innocent smile tugs at your heart, and they jog forward, taking the lead towards the bridge.

        When you both get home. When you finally have enough to get a new place, you swear you are going to give Frisk the life they deserve. You’re going to do it, no matter what.

        “Hey, slow down!” You jog to catch up, laughing when the kid tries to shake the overly long bridge to mess with you. It barely moves for them. When you reach them, being about more than half way, you grab them up in your arm, your free hand holding tightly onto the rope, and then shake. The bridge swings, and Frisk laughs in delight. They try to get out of your hold, but you refuse, and instead dig your hand into their side, ripping more laughter from them.

        “HUMANS!”

        “Ah!” Your yelp… was a bit louder than you would’ve liked it to be.

        Looking to where the bridge ended, you spot Papyrus standing in the way, Sans just at his side. At this point, you stopped questioning how the small skeleton got ahead of you.

        “THIS IS YOUR FINAL AND MOST DANGEROUS CHALLENGE! BEHOLD! THE GAUNTLET OF DEADLY TERROR!” To your utter confusion and… mild worry, a spear, a white dog hanging from a rope around its middle, and a spiked ball and chain lower from the sky. Below, another spear, a cannon and… is that a flame thrower?  raise. How the skeleton got those things rigged, you weren’t sure, but the idea he did it for you guys was a bit flattering. “WHEN I SAY THE WORD, IT WILL FULLY ACTIVATE! CANNONS WILL FIRE! SPIKES WILL SWING! BLADES WILL SLICE! EACH PART WILL SWING VIOLENTLY UP AND DOWN! ONLY THE TINIEST CHANCE OF VICTORY WILL REMAIN! ARE YOU READY!?” Okay so… this was now less impressive and more terrifying. What happened to the guys puzzle thing? “BECAUSE! I! AM! ABOUT! TO DO IT!”

        You take a tentative step back, waiting for the sharp and hot objects before you to start moving… but nothing.

        “Well?” Sans pipes up. “What’s the holdup?” Papyrus looks away from his brother, and even turns his back to you.

        “HOLDUP?! WHAT HOLDUP!? I’M… I’M ABOUT TO ACTIVATE IT NOW!” You brace yourself!

        ...Still nothing.

        “That, uh, doesn’t look very activated.” Sans inserts smartly.

        “WELL! THIS CHALLENGE… IT SEEMS… MAYBE..” Papyrus is scrambling for an excuse. At this point, you can see his looks linger longer on Frisk in your arms, who is staring intently at him. Was the human hunter scared he might hurt the humans? “MAYBE IT IS TOO EASY TO DEFEAT THE HUMANS WITH. YEAH! WE CAN’T USE THIS ONE! I AM A SKELETON WITH STANDARDS! MY PUZZLES ARE VERY FAIR, AND MY TRAPS ARE EXPERTLY COOKED! BUT THIS METHOD IS TOO DIRECT! NO CLASS AT ALL. AWAY IT GOES!” With relief, you watch the dangerous weapons slide away. You also watch the white dog break free of the rope and run off somewhere into town.

        Papyrus gives a sigh of relief that makes you smile. He immediately notices your look, however.

        “WHAT ARE YOU TWO LOOKING AT?!” For a second you swear you see his cheekbones go orange. “THIS WAS ANOTHER DECISIVE VICTORY FOR PAPYRUS!” The Skeleton then runs off, like always, to go probably set up another puzzle somewhere in your path. You wonder, and hope a little, that this guy will be trying to jape you with puzzles for most of your adventure. It’s… nice seeing the skelebrothers. Like a breath of fresh, none scary, air.

        Frisk grabs your hand and tugs on it, pulling you over the rest of the bridge and determinedly towards town. You give a wave to Sans, who’s snickering as he watches you being dragged past him.

        Entering the town, you are surprised by how… friendly it is. Everyone is smiling as they walk around and a lot of them wave and greet you and Frisk.

        “This is my favorite place,” Frisk signs, pulling you into the first building they come across. Entering, your body is immediately coated in warmth and you let of a sigh of relief.

        “Cold?” You look up, seeing a soft lavender rabbit. She's leaning on the edge of a counter, orange light spilling out from a couple candles behind her. She cracks a friendly grin and then gives a wave of her paw. “Hello, travellers. How can I help you two?” Frisk runs up to the counter, dropping some gold coins onto it. Then, the kid points to some things on the shelf behind the bunny. She takes a look at the money, to Frisk, and then to you and smiles even wider. “Well, alright kid.” She turns briefly, and then is setting a bag into the kids awaiting hands. Scooping up the money, she counts them before dropping them into a metal box.

        “Whatdya get Frisk?” Walking back over to you, they hold open the bag. A warm cinnamon scent wafts out and you feel your stomach rumble.

        “It’s my homemade recipe,” The women supplies for you. You grin up at her.

        “These smell amazing.”

        “I sure hope they do, or they wouldn’t be so much.” You both laugh. “Since you two are looking cold, I suggest heading to Grillby’s. It’s a bar just a couple buildings down. Don’t worry,” She says before you can say something about the kid with you. “There's food and non-alcoholic drinks for some younger ones.” She winks at Frisk, who winks back. Though, they look a bit lost to what you two were talking about.

        “Well, thanks.”

        “Welcome. See you around.” Taking Frisk’s hand, you two leave and begin walking through town.

        “This place is really nice,” You comment as you watch a couple monsters decorate a Christmas tree. “Very homely.”

        “Papyrus and Sans live here.

        “Oh? Where’s their house?” Frisk points to the side of you. You raise a brow and turn to meet the front door of a two story, large house. It’s the biggest one in the town as far as you’ve seen, also the oddest decorated. It’s the only place to have Christmas lights, a wreath, and a pirate flag at once. It even looks like they own a large shed next to it.

        “Hey, ____,” You tilt your head back to Frisk. “Can I go play while you go to Grillby’s?

        “I’m not going to go to the bar Fri-”

        “Pleeease? I wanna go play with Papyrus!” You purse your lips.

        “But… Isn’t he still trying to capture us?”

        “I'm going to go change his mind. We have to do this to progress, so i’ll do it, and you can go relax at the bar.

        “I don’t want to leave you alone though. I know you can handle yourself… but I just don’t feel right doing that.”

        “I promise I’ll be safe. Plus, you’ve been carrying me the entire time here. You’re tired, right?

        “...Maybe a little.” Frisk beamed, throwing their hands up.

        “So lemme go talk to Papyrus!” You sigh loudly. This kid…. You couldn’t say no when they gave those determined eyes.

        Plus… you did need a break.

        “Alright. But stay safe… And the moment you need anything come to me!” Frisk was already running off, waving to you over their shoulder. You sigh loudly, watching them until they disappear into a thick fog that had rolled in. You shake your head slowly, but turn away and make your way back to where you had spotted Grillby’s bar.

        From the outside, the place looked like one of the bars that had mostly regulars. Then again, in such a small place, you guess that was a given.

        With one more glance to where the kid ran off, you step in.

        It was like walking into a wall of heat. You knew, while walking through the few monsters sitting around, that you would be stripping this jacket as soon as you found a seat. Especially when the seat you wanted was at the bar, where you found the main source of the heat. It was a man on fire.

        No. Literally he was fire. The flames licked up high in the hair, constantly flickering and moving, his face and hands changing between different variations of yellow, red, and orange. You wondered why his suit or glasses weren’t burning or melting, but you choked it down to magic. If something could take your soul out of your body, then that same something can keep a fire man's suit from catching.

        Sitting, you slide your arms out of the sleeves and tie the two around your waist. The fire man took a double take in your direction, moving over from the customer he was chatting with to take your order.

        “Can I have… some fries and… some wate-” You pause, deciding it would be best not to ask the man made of fire to get water. “Or, uhm.. Maybe-”

        “I can get you water.”

        …..Oh….

        His voice. Wow. Okay. You had to stop staring at him before it looked more like a gawking rude human than a surprised flustered one. This guy's voice was so soft, and so low, it sent shivers through you. You wonder if your face was as red as he was naturally.

        “Th-Then… thank you, please.” He nodded, and then went into the back. As soon as he was gone you ran a hand through your hair and rested your forehead on your palm, your elbow on the counter. For a brief moment, you let yourself close your eyes.

        You had done a lot today. Was it still the first day? You weren’t sure. With moving so much, you weren’t sleepy, tired yeah, but not sleepy. You completely messed up your inner clock, specially when you can’t see the sun, or hear crickets to tell you it’s night. How did the monsters do it, going to bed and waking up on time? Maybe they slept through late night and early morning, but were awake for early night and late morning? Either way, the town was busy, and lively, so for them it might’ve been midday. Late afternoon at most. But you had left home at noon, and trekked through Ruins and a winter forest… It was probably night back on the surface.

        Thinking of the surface, you wonder how your mom is. You could picture her rolling around on the couch under a couple hundred blankets, trying to find a comfy spot. She’d have a couple empty bottles scattered around her, too tired to get up and get new ones, but there would be a single mug. Probably your favorite mug, full of her favorite steaming tea. The same tea you’d make for her when she was feeling sick. Since her kids left, she’s probably going through her unstable moods. One second she’d be crying for you two too return, the next cursing and screaming at you two for leaving. When you get home, there will probably be piles of broken glass from thrown bottles around. You could also imagine her going in and trashing Frisk’s drawing wall. She never liked those pictures…

        A plate is set before you, and the clink makes you finally open your eyes. The fire man is looking you over as he cleans a glass. He nods to your plate of food and you crack a small smile.

        “Thanks.” You say, and then your smile widens. “Has anyone ever told you you’re pretty hot? Smokin’, actually.” He pauses in his glass cleaning and then slowly shakes his head, immediately going back to it.

        “Another Sans,” He mumbles to himself before walking off to a customer.

        The fries were amazing, you think, as you stuff a couple into your mouth. Pretty perfect, but they were missing something… You look around the bar counter, trying to find ketchup, but there was not a bottle in sight. You pout a bit as you flag down the bartender. Luckily, it didn’t look like the bar was busy, so you weren’t bothering him too much.

        “Uhm do you have any Ketchup?” The flame man looks over the bar and then frowns heavily. He looks ready to speak, but then he notices something behind you.

        “...Ask him,” He says softly, almost not reaching your ear. You raise a brow.

        “Ask who-”

        “Sans!” The bar erupts into loud ‘hellos’ and other greetings. You turn to watch the short skeleton saulter in, waving languidly to anyone who spoke to him. When his eye sockets went to the bar, they found you and his grin stretched a bit.

        He took a stool next to you.

        “Heya,” He says, crossing his arms on the counter. He doesn’t even have to look to the bartender before a plate of fries is set before him. “Thanks Grillby.”

        So the flame man was Grillby, the owner of the bar? You note that and keep it in the back of your mind for later reference.

        “Hey Sans,” You pause, glancing to Grillby before looking straight at the skeleton. “Are you smuggling ketchup from the bar?”

        “...What?” Sans snorts. “Grillby set you on me?” He sends a glance to said man, but Grillby’s too busy cleaning glasses to notice. If he does, he ignores it.

        “No. ...Unless you really are stealing ketchup. Patrons need ketchup sans.” He looks to your plate of fries, scans the bar counter top, and then leans towards you.

        “Well, I have a special offer for ya kid,” You raise a brow.

        “Really?” He nods, opening his jacket.

        “A bottle of ketchup for a joke.” Inside of his coat is four whole bottles of ketchup. You try hard not to face-palm. No wonder Grillby immediately told you to ask Sans. The guy had made an underground ketchup smuggling business right under their noses.

        “Does the joke have to be any good? My fries are getting cold.” The skeleton shrugs, leaning back as he taps his finger bones on his arm bone, making soft little clicks you could hear over the bar mumbling.

        “Any joke will do.”

        “You gotta be rattling my bones. That’s pretty cheap for one bottle. You need to ketchup with the times man.”

        “Pfft-” The laughter he let out was the kind that shook his whole body. You had never met someone, other than Frisk, but you had tainted that kid a long time ago, that truly, and honestly, enjoyed your crappy humor as much as you did. The skeleton pulled out a bottle and set it between the two plates. With a smile, you used it. Giving yourself just enough, you slid it to Sans. Yet, just before he could grab it, you pulled it back.

        “Any joke will do,” You repeated his words.

        “Oh, is this how it’s going to be?”

        “A joke for a joke, sir.” He shook his skull, but his smile never left. Though, did his smile ever leave? You kinda wanted to see him frown. Then again… you think seeing Sans with anything but a smile would be pretty scary.

        “I’m getting pushed around trying to eat brunch. Wow.”

        “Brunch?” The bewildered look you give makes him dip a brow bone.

        “Yeah… What’re you eating?”

        “...A midnight snack.” Sans laughs, looking to your sad plate of fries and water.  “This must be what jet lag is like.”

        “What?” You shake your hand, trying to wave away your words as if they were tangible.

        “Nothing, never mind.”

        “Well, maybe you’ll feel better tomarrow.”

        “Oh that was bad.”

        “If yours didn’t have to be good-”

        “But they were.” Sans rolls his pin pricks, snatching the ketchup from your grip. You laugh at that, watching as he pats the bottom of the ketchup bottle and, ploop, about half the bottle empties onto his plate.

        “Fff-hahaha!” You tear up as you clutch your stomach, laughing obscenely loud.

        “It’s fine. I can handle this,” He says, using a fry more like a spoon for the ketchup. For a long while, you can’t catch your breath, watching him eat his plate like it was soup.

        “So, question,” You say when you finally gain control.

        “Mhmn?” His voice is muffled with another spoon full of ketchup. Some of it drips from the corner of his mouth, and you roll your eyes at the similarity of the situation from when you were with Frisk. You lean backwards, pulling a napkin from a dispenser, and then lean over to Sans to wipe at the smear. “Oh-” he swallows his mouthful. “Thanks mom.” You click your tongue, sending him a look.

        “You wouldn’t have to thank me if you didn’t eat like a babybones.”

        “You’re stealing everything I say.” He moves to eat more, but then pauses. “What did you want to ask?”

        “Oh.” You blink. “Who is older, you or Papyrus?” Sans hums, tapping his chin. “Oh come on.” He smirks.

        “I am.” You… feel like you should act more surprised than you do, but just something by how the two acted got you feeling the small one was the older one. “What about you?”

        “I’m definitely the younger one.”

        “I knew it,” He’s smirking again. He’s so cheeky.

        Sans slurps up the rest of the ketchup fry mess, and then flashes you a big red smile.

        “You look like a vampire.”

        “I won’t bite,” He says teasingly.

        “Actually. Sans. I’m pretty sure biting is in the definition of Vampire-” You pause, retrieving more napkins from the dispenser so Sans doesn’t try to clean his mouth with his sleeve. You could see the idea forming in his eyes and you couldn’t handle watching that. “Have you ever met a vampire?” The look he gives you makes you blush. “I’m serious!”

        “No, I have not met a vampire. Why?”

        “Well… You know… Just that monsters are down here so I thought Werewolves and Vampires could be here is all. I’ve already seen a ghost.”

        “Ghosts, Werewolves, sure. No bloodsuckers. Sorry to disappoint.” You roll your eyes, but freeze.

        “Wait. Werewolves?”

        “Yeah. One works just up the road chucking ice blocks.” You stare at him and you suddenly realize… He’s not joking.

        “Oh.. wow.” While you're busy thinking of all other monster possibilities, Sans hops off of his stool. He stretches and then pats the counter to get Grillby’s attention.

        “Put it all on my tab, Grillbz.” The flame man narrows his eyes, gesturing to your meal as well, and the skeleton nods. You snap out of it at that point and stand as well.

        “You don’t have to do that Sans-”

        “Now worries, i’m a bonefide gentleskele.”

        “Just putting it on your tab doesn’t make you a ‘gentleskele’,” Grillby butts in, making you quick to head your grin behind a hand as Sans just smiles.

        “I’ll head out first. Got work, you know.” You nod, waving him off. You watch his figure slowly leave, and then you take your stool again. You smile warmly at Grillby as he takes your finished plate, along with Sans’.

        You sip slowly at your water and decide to rest your eyes again.

        This time, you imagine Toriel.

        It was a while ago, had to be 5 hours at least, since you last saw her. You had only spent a couple hours with her as it was… but you still felt connected. Like you had known her much longer than you really did. Like she was your mother.

        Was it bad you were so hung up on your mom? You couldn’t go a day without your mind going back to your blood mom, or your honorary goat mom. Was this going to be a thing for you?

        Though, you’re sure it was called for. You met a monster who was only a little motherly towards you and you latched to her like a leech. You almost didn’t want to return to your actual mother because of Toriel. Were you craving your mom from the past so much that your were projecting your needs onto the first older women who showed any kindness?

        ...This was beginning to sound like you needed to talk to a professional about it.

        Your mind wandered back to Toriel. You could picture her curled up on comfy chair in front of the fire, holding Frisk and reading that snail book. You could picture her in the kitchen making pie, her smiling down at you, walking hand in hand with Frisk. You could still feel how warm her hug was, and you desperately wanted another one.

        You had tried calling her shortly after leaving the Ruins, but she wouldn’t pick up. You called again at the talking snowman you and Frisk agreed to help. Even after one of Papyrus’ puzzles you tried getting in touch…. But she wouldn’t answer. Maybe it was selfish trying to get her to talk to you when she said she couldn’t bare to see you. But you just… You couldn’t imagine not seeing her again. Frisk talked, signed, about it like you’d never see her, like Goat mom was going to be stuck in the Ruins forever, staying alone and craving for someone to keep her company. It hurt to think that you two just left her alone there. How many had just walked through the Ruins, acting like they would stay with her, and then up and leave like you and Frisk? If all those people did that, and then ended up dead like she said… You couldn’t bare to imagine how much pain she was in.

        You should’ve promised that you’d survive and come see her again.

        “Sans!” You jump, your eyes opening a bit too quickly and a bit too close to the bright light of Grillby. They teared up and you covered them, hissing in slight pain. “Sans you're back!”

        “Yeah. Hey,”

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

        “Nah, I haven’t had breakfast in at least half an hour. You must be thinking of brunch.” The bar erupts into laughter just as you gain sight again. You look to your side to see Sans and Frisk.

        “You’re back, and with a present I see.” Sans nods, looking a bit proud as he pats Frisk’s head.

        “Here, get comfy.” He gestured Frisk to the stool he had a couple minutes ago before he left. Frisk climbs into the seat and-

        Pbfbfht

        When had Sans planted a whoopee cushion?

        “Whoops, watch where you sit down. Sometimes weirdos put whoopee cushions on the seats.” You roll your eyes, reaching your hands out for the kid. Frisk climbs into your lap as Sans pockets the whoopee cushion and takes his seat. “Anyway, let’s order. Whaddya want…?” Frisk hums, tilting their head.

        “What’s there to eat?

        “Burgers and Fries.” You supply.

        “I want… a burger!” You grin.

        “The kids pretty hungry, they want a whole burger.” Sans nods, looking to Grillby.

        “Hey, that sounds pretty good. Grillby, we’ll have a triple-” Sans pauses and looks to you, but you shake your head. “A double order of burg.” You decided to not comment about how Sans was about to have another meal after just eating a huge plate of fry-ketchup salad. You watch Grillby go into the back room.

        Frisk leans back on you, looking up as you look down. You bump their forehead with yours, and they chuckle.

        “So, what do you think of my brother?”

        “He’s cool.” You open your mouth to translate-

        “Of course he’s cool.” Both you and Frisk look to Sans with wide eyes. “You’d be cool too if you wore that outfit every day.” The guy kept talking though, not seeming to see how befuddled you two were. “He’d only take that thing off if he absolutely had to. Oh well. At least he washes it… and by that I mean he wears it in the shower.” You open your mouth to question how Sans learned sign language in such a short time, or if he just assumed by Frisk’s smile that they thought Papyrus was cool, but Grillby comes back. “Here comes the grub. Want some ketchup?” Sans offers the bottle you had to buy earlier with a bad pun.

        “Nn-mh.” Frisk shakes their head.

        “More for me,” he winks, and then chugs the last quarter that remained after his accident, which now you think may not have been one, and your own small use. “Anyway,” Sans starts, “Cool or not, you have to agree Papyrus tries real hard.”

        Frisk picks up their burger and stuffs as much as they can in their mouth for the first bite. You hold back your instinct to smoosh the kids inflated cheeks.

        “Like how he keeps trying to be part of the royal guard. One day, he went to the house of the head of the royal guard and begged her to let him be in it. Of course, she shut the door on him because it was midnight, but the next day, she woke up and saw him still waiting there. Seeing his dedication, she decided to give him warrior training. It’s, uh, still a work in progress.”

        The way Sans spoke so highly and proudly of Papyrus sounded just like you  talking about Frisk. Just like how you doted on your sibling and always found them to be the most amazing person in the world, Sans did too about Paps. It was really nice. It was like you two were bonding over being the older kids, even if he was talking to Frisk and not you.

        You’re about to comment about how sweet it is, but a dark feeling engulfs you.

        “Oh yeah, I wanted to ask you both something.” The room suddenly feels colder, even though you're sitting quite close to Grillby. “Have you ever heard of a talking flower?” Immediately Frisk stiffens in your lap. You look to Frisk, and then to Sans and shake your head. “I’ll tell you, then.” His voice is growing lower, and he leans in so only you and Frisk can hear. “The echo flower. They’re all over the marsh. Say something to them, and they’ll repeat it over and over…”

        “That's sounds… interesting. What about it?” Sans pin pricks are searching your face. Again, they’re looking for something, but they don’t find it.

        “Well, Papyrus told me something interesting the other day. Sometimes, when no one else is around… A flower appears and whispers thing to him. Flattery….Advice...Encouragement...Predictions.” When San’s eyes go to Frisk, who is now trembling slightly, he finds whatever he’s looking for. “Weird, huh? Someone must be using an echo flower to play a trick on him. Keep an eye out, okay?” You nod, trying to smile even though the mood is so heavy.

        You have a feeling Frisk knows about this talking flower, that they know it’s not an echo flower. You also have a feeling that Sans thinks this too.

        “Thanks.”

        Then, just as quickly as the freaky mood settled in, it’s disappeared.

        “Welp, that was a long break. I can’t believe I let ya pull me away from work for that long, you’re just like your sister.” You gasp, leaning over to bat at his arm.

        “Don’t even try that!” Sans snickers and stands, turning his eyes onto Frisk.

        “By the way kid, I’m flat broke. Can you foot the bill? It’s just 10,000G.” With determination, Frisk nods. You roll your eyes.

        “You have not gathered that much money.” Frisk crosses their arms, still looking like they could pull out that much gold just because they really wanted too.

        “Just kidding, Grillby, put it on my tab.” The flame monster’s fire flickers a bit threateningly, but he nods. You guess that Sans tab was pretty hefty.

        Sans makes his way to the door, but then stops just before he leaves and turns back around.

        “By the way… I was going to say something, but I forgot.” And then the genius was gone.

        Frisk hops off of your lap, having finished the rest of their burger, and holds their greasy hand up to you. You grab another napkin, seeing the same want in their eyes to rub their hand off on their onesie like Sans’s want to rub the ketchup on his sleeve, and clean their hand. You stand yourself, give a stretch that pops some bones, and give a wave to Grillby.

        “Bye, Grillby, thanks for the amazing food.” He nodded, the fire crackles sounding a bit pleased. “Alright, let’s get going kid.” Frisk smiled happily and nodded, taking you hand with their clean one and leading you forward and out of the bar.

        While walking through town towards the thick fog, you decide to strike up a friendly conversation.

        “So, what did you and Papyrus do?”

        “Well, we went on a date.

        “Oh really? You went on a date with- wait, what!?”

Chapter Text

        Frisk quickly explains to you exactly what happened with them and Papyrus, clearing up any and all misunderstandings you had gained of the tall skeleton.

        You also learn of the properties of the food in the Underground.

        When you questioned why Frisk wasn’t hurt, because during the child's excited explanation of the fight they mentioned being beat up a little, the kid answers by holding up the bag of cinnabunnies they had bought.

        “That's just… really cool,” You compliment again, walking to the edge of the fog wall with Frisk at your side. “Food and monsters being made up of so much magic it’s just… cool!” The kid laughed at your goofy grin.

        Coming out of the fog, you are met with the distant sound of rushing water, and the light dimming just a bit. The new area has a lower ceiling than the snowy forest leading up to Snowdin, but it has more of a… chill feeling. Temperature wise, that is. Wasn’t freezing, but wasn’t quite warm. You decide the winter coats are now a bit too much.

        “Yo!” As you and Frisk walk into a smaller space that has a save star off by a station point with, lookie there, Sans, a yellow, small monster runs up to Frisk. “Dude, you ready?” You look between the two, but decide to ask later as you take Frisk’s coat off of them and walk over to where Sans was positioned.

        “Work, hmm?” The skeleton straightens a bit when he sees you, nodding with a shrug in your direction.

        “Yeah. Is it weird to see a guy have more than one job?”

        “Since it’s you…” You snort when Sans rolls his eyes. “Here. This place is much warmer than Snowdin. Tell Papyrus thanks for giving them to us.” Sans takes the bundles of coats, dropping them somewhere behind the counter.

        “Yeah, I will.”

        “And thank you too.” The skeleton looks a bit surprised.

        “What? For what?”

        “You’re the one who told Papyrus after you saw Frisk looking so cold. So, thank you.” For a moment, the guy doesn’t know what to do. You had sounded so sincere it just… surprised him. He finds himself nodding, and he stumbles over his words.

        “Right… Yeah. I… did that.” You snort, smiling widely. You’re about to turn away, but soft bones wrap around your wrist and stop you. Looking back over you see Sans comically laid over the counter, like you had tried pulling him out but stopped half way.

        “Sans?” You asked with a laugh.

        “Well, since you caught me lying down on the job,” He gestured halfheartedly to his position before wiggling a finger bone to beckon you closer. Without hesitation you leaned down a bit to hear him. “Look out for yourself around them, kid. Frisk can handle themselves fine.” You raise a brow in confusion at his serious look. “You’re lookin’ out for the little one so much you keep forgetting about yourself.”

        “And how do you know that?” He shrugs at your challenging voice, his bones slipping in their hold.

        "Just.. You remind me of someone.” He shrugs, pulling himself off the counter so he can sit comfortably back on his stool. The white pinpricks avoid you, and you take it the guy doesn’t want you questioning what he said.

        “Well, we’ll see you and Papyrus later, right? Your brother did promise Frisk and I Spaghetti after all.”

        “Oh. Right. Do you want his number-?”

        “Frisk was already a step ahead of you.” You then give the skeleton a mock look. “Also, keep your brother away from my kid. They’re cute and all, but I don’t find them dating-”

        “Woah, woah, dating?” You give a wicked smile, leaning forward.

        “Yep. The two of ‘em went on a date. Papyrus even gave the kid his number. I might be calling you brother-in-law soon enough.” Sans was again speechless, and you were loving it.

        A tug at your shirt pulls you away from the gaping Sans. With a smile and wave over your shoulder, you following the impatient Frisk off whenever they were leading you.

        Messing with the bag a bones was a little too much fun for you.

        “Hey, Frisk,” You begin. Hearing about the fight with Papyrus, and after fighting with Toriel, you wanted to know how many more friends of the kids you were supposed to fight. Also, you still needed to find out the exact way you two were supposed to not only get home, but save the monsters. You… didn’t even know what you were supposed to be saving them from.

        ...You really should’ve talked this over before agreeing to jump into a giant pit.

        The kid suddenly bolts, running into a bunch of tall.. Grass? It looked more like seaweed, and the stuff was way above your head. You frown, following them in. “Really, hide and seek?” You snicker, parting blades of the thick plant to try and spot a familiar brunette head. “I don’t think it’s time for-” An elbow juts into your stomach, cutting off your voice. You’re about to snap at Frisk, but an all too familiar voice rings out.

        “H…HI, UNDYNE! I’M HERE WITH MY DAILY REPORT… UHHH… REGARDING THOSE HUMANS I CALLED YOU ABOUT EARLIER…-” You hear a muffled voice respond to Papyrus, but because of the loud running water and the way the cavern echoed, you couldn’t make it out. “...HUH? DID I FIGHT THEM? Y-YES! OF COURSE I DID! ONE OF THEM, ANYWAY, BUT I FOUGHT THAT ONE VALIANTLY!” Again, the voice says something. “WHAT? CAPTURE THEM? W-W-WELL…NO. I TRIED VERY HARD, UNDYNE, BUT IN THE END… I FAILED.”

        It was freaky hearing the over confident Papyrus stutter and trip over his words.

        “WH-WHAT? YOU’RE GOING TO TAKE ONE OF THE HUMANS SOULS  YOURSELF.... BUT UNDYNE, YOU DON’T H-HAVE TO DESTROY THEM! YOU SEE… YOU SEE…” His voice fades away. “....I UNDERSTAND. I’LL HELP YOU IN ANY WAY I CAN.” Then, you hear the thumping of the skeleton’s boots as he leaves. You weren’t sure how to process what you just heard.

        You take a step to grab Frisk and get the hell out of there, but the clicking of metal stops you. You freeze in place, seeing just through a couple strands of the long seaweed grass a looming figure staring at where you and the kid hid.

        You didn’t move, or breathe again, until the figure disappeared.

        Exiting the grass, your heart is racing a mile a minute. It’s already so freaked out, when the yellow monster you had seen briefly before jumps out, it doesn’t affect you in the slightest.

        “Yo… did you see the way she was staring at you…?” The monster with yellow with spikes on the back of his head, reminds you of a dinosaur. The kid, you assume because of his height and the way he speaks, was jumping excitedly in front of Frisk, who was happily smiling back. “That...was AWESOME! I’m SOOOO jealous! What’d you do to get her attention…? Haha. C’mon! Let’s go watch her beat up some bad guys!” The kid sprinted forward and-

        He face plants, hard.

        “Are you okay?” You ask worriedly, but the little guy had already scrambled back up and run out of site.

        You feel queasy now as you two come up too another save star. You decide to tap this one as Frisk begins walking ahead.

        A feeling of dread hangs over you, but seeing Frisk so happy with that new monster kid fills you with Kindness.

        This was.. Normal for the kid. They knew about this. That should give you some encouragement… but it honestly didn’t. While this was new for you, the kid had gone through this way too many times by themselves. Of course it wouldn’t bother them anymore. It made you feel a bit sad as you walked slowly behind the child, who was working on puzzles with ease, having memorized all of them already.

        “Frisk?” The child set the last bridge flower in bridge and took a moment to watch the four in a row bloom before finally looking up to you with a smile. You hesitate. “...Frisk, how is it that you get home in the end?”

        The smile dropped.

        “...I haven’t gotten that far yet.

        They….

        “But with you i’m sure we will!” They delivered a warm smile and then turned, hoping over the flowers and jogging into the next room.

        They just lied to you.

        Frisk had never… lied to you before.

        “Nn!” They called from the other room, wondering why you weren't following. You, were wondering the same thing. Your legs stuck you to your spot, refusing to move until you fixed the whirlwind in your mind.

        Maybe you just…. Read them wrong. Yeah. It wasn’t like you were a psychologist. You could’ve mistaken fear for lying and guilt.

        …

        No, it was so obvious that just then was their first ever lie to you. You saw the struggle on their features and you immediately saw them frown when they turned away. They felt bad about it, but they still did it.

        Why did they have to lie about getting to the end? You assumed that they restarted if they got to the end but didn’t save everyone. Was that not the case, or did the kid think you wouldn't understand that? Either way, the fact that the kid lied really freaked you out. You had based opinions before solely on the fact that Frisk would never lie.

        But here they were, lying to your face.

        Your phone rang.

        “Mm?” Frisk padded back into the room, giving you a worried look. You just smiled, sliding the cellphone out and flipping it open, patting the kids head as they moved over and hugged your middle.

        “HELLO, THIS IS PAPYRUS!” You pull the phone a bit from your ear. His volume was as loud as if he was on speaker phone. At least the kid could hear the conversation too this way.

        “Hey Papyrus.” Wait. “How did you get this number?” You were sure Frisk wasn’t the one, because you always carried the phone and even you hadn’t checked the cell number yet. Another thing you added to your to do list.

        “HOW?” He let out a proud laugh. “IT WAS EASY! I JUST DIALED EVERY NUMBER SEQUENTIALLY UNTIL I GOT YOURS!” You snorted. Papyrus was just… too precious.

        “SO….” He cleared his non-existent throat. “WHAT ARE YOU AND THE SMALL HUMAN WEARING…?”

        “...What?”

        “I’M… ASKING FOR A FRIEND. SHE THOUGHT SHE SAW THE SMALL ONE WEARING A FADED RIBBON. IS THAT TRUE? ARE THEY WEARING A FADED RIBBON?” Your eyebrows knitted. Looking down to Frisk, who was still hugging your mind as they listened, met your eyes and pointed to something in their hair. Apparently, at some point they must’ve tried it in their brown locks because you hadn’t noticed it until then.

        “Frisk… Is wearing a faded ribbon.”

        “REALLY? GOT IT! WINK WINK! HAVE A NICE DAY.”

        “Wink wink?” Frisk made a face at Papyrus’s verbal winking, which got a laugh from you.

        “You agree that Papyrus is a precious bun, right?” Frisk nodded heavily. “Good.” You kneeled down, slowly untwisting the faded ribbon from their hair. “Then you know he means the best for us. I’m betting he was trying to warn us.” Pocketing the ribbon, you stand again.

        “He’s...Really sweet like that. Always… believing in me.” The pain and sadness that crossed Frisks face sent a chill down your back. You chose not to say anything as you picked up their hand and lead them to the next room.

        It was dark, all quiet but the soft lull of the water moving, with large glowing blue flowers the peppered the walkway. They were sparse, and every time Frisk would run up to one, you could hear a voice quietly speak of stars on the ceiling of the cave.

        “Are these the echo flowers Sans warned off?” Frisk hesitated, but nodded. Before you could step forward and try one, Frisk was pulling you off.

        “These have a story. We should go mess with them in the field.

        “There's a whole field?” The smile that lit your face made the kid grin as they nodded.

        The water grew louder when they two of you stepped onto a pale blue dock of sorts. What moved under and around you two, sounding like a soft waves of a lake. Cat tails clouded the water, not letting either of you see very far ahead. Even if they weren’t there, you were pretty sure you two still wouldn’t be able to see much with how dark the cavern had become.

        It reminded you of how much you were in the dark about what really happened for the month the kid was in the Underground without you. You had thought you’d stop bringing it up, but you just couldn’t help it. It was really starting to get you worried about what they went through.

        “Frisk,” You say as the two of you step onto a small wooden float. It sails across the span of water that blocked you two from the other side of the dock. “Are we going to talk about it?”

        “About what?” They sign innocently, keeping their eyes forward instead of on you.

        “Oh, nothing really,” You step off of the float when it meets the other side, helping the kid hop over. “Just that for a month you were trapped underground, alone, with strangers, some of them even attacking you.” The kid walks forward, trying to tune you out. “Something happened that, you know, made the monsters remember you after a reset…” This kid was a bit too determined to ignore you. “Frisk,” You say, but they still won’t look.

        You, in a last ditch effort, jog up in front of the kid and stop walking. They hit your front and whine in response to your sudden stop.

        “We can’t keep doing this.” You say slowly. “You’re going to have to tell me what’s going on.”

        “Mn-”

        “No!” You whip around, staring Frisk down. The kid didn’t flinch, no, they were too brave for that, too used to growing like you two had. Instead, they held your eyes, trying to stand taller than they really were.

        “I can’t,” They sign.

        “Yes. You can. Sign it out or- or write it down. I need something, Frisk!”

        Their hands go up again, but you don’t stop.

        “How come they all remember you and instead of being happy, because they’re your friends, you always look so hurt and-and sorry!?”

        You shouldn’t be yelling.

        “How come Sans seems to remember whatever happened in the resets and seems so threatened by it?! Why does he look so scared-”

        You need to stop.

        “And you lied to me! You have gotten to the end, right? Why would you lie to me about that? Do you not trust me!?”

        Stop, _____.

        “Why are you scared to talk to me? I’m your sister! I’ve been the one here for you since you were born! You can tell me what happened down here while you were gone. You have to tell me. It’s not like-”

        STOP.

        “Like you killed them!”

        The silence that answered let your worries explode. They flowed out like a busted dam and you had to turn your face away to quickly scrub away any of the angry leaked tears.

        You had started to… wonder. You’d like to say it was back when Frisk acted weird around Toriel, but it wasn’t. Maybe when Sans first acted freaked out by the kid, but it wasn’t then either. It wasn’t even when Sans warned you to look out for yourself while with the kid. You were so set on protecting them, helicoptering them like they were an infant, that you were blinded. You saw again when they lied so easily to you. You know something had been wrong, you knew Frisk, but...killing? Being so gung-ho on being peaceful, not even being okay with you carrying a weapon for protection- plus, Frisk was a third grader. Murderer never crossed your mind. No sane being would have murderer cross their mind when thinking of a third grader!

        The kid was stiff, eyes intently somewhere through your gut (it was where their eyes reached since they were so short). They shook like a leaf and the idea that you made them look like this, so fragile, so scared, you almost cried.

        Did you look as mad as mom when after a few drinks she'd start yelling?

        You reached for the kid, to bundle them in your arms and try to make everything okay like you’d always do-

        But they flinched away.

        “Frisk-” You reach again, but this time they turn and sprint. “FRISK!” You take a step to follow, but a whoosh of air stops you.

        Your heart stops as a sudden bright blue spear sinks into the wood in front of you, taking a couple stray hairs with it.

        “F o u n d  Y o u”

        You’re running before the guttural voice could say anything more, before anymore spears could be launched in your direction by the large suit of armor, and before you could lose sight of Frisk’s disappearing figure.

        Daunting music, like the instruments in it were yelling at you to run faster for every note they played, sung in the background. You didn’t know where it was coming from, but it was loud and in your ears.

        Glowing spears, that were taller than you by a good foot and thicker than your forearm, flew from where the daunting suit of armor ran on a higher level in the cavern, following your every step. Some nicked you, and you felt your soul lurch from in your chest. You shove your hand on it though, hoping to physically keep it in as you skidded around a spear that had stuck itself in your path.

        Then, as you jumped over a wood plank that had come undone in your path,  a certain spear landed in such away that you tripped over it, you tumbled and rolled right into another field of seaweed like grass. Immediately, you froze.

        The music faded, but the clanking of the footsteps only grew louder.

        For every step, your heart hiccuped.

        For every bump of metal, something pounded in your throat.

                You tried to cover you mouth, to stop your heavy breathing, but stifling it was almost impossible.

        The footsteps stopped just at your side and for that second you felt your heart stop.

        Yet, instead of grabbing you, they turn and walk off after a brief pause. Immediately, as soon as you couldn’t hear the metal moving, you’re scrambling out on the other side of the grass, heaving in large amounts of air, trying to calm your thumping heart.

        What was that!? Who was- why were- Doesn’t matter. You need to find Frisk. If that person was going to be looking for a human, especially one they thought they already had seen, you couldn’t risk letting the kid off by themselves.

        You sucked in as much air has you could get before weakly pulling yourself to your feet and moving into the next room.

        “Sans!” You blurt the skeletons name as soon as you see him, hurrying up to him and his telescope. He looks ready to say something funny, the telescope probably in on the joke, but when he sees your face he pauses.

        “You’re lookin’ a bit pale there bud.” You nodded, finally feeling some of the earlier fear wash off before Sans’s goofy smile.

        “As pale as you,” You push out. Sans nods. He got the joke, probably thought it was funny too, but worry seeped into his bones.

        “You okay?” He looks to your side and the air around him changes. “Where's the kid?”

        “They didn’t do anything!” You snap too harshly and immediately you deflate. “Sorry. I… They,” You pause, trying to catch your thoughts. “We fought, verbally,” You added, trying to ease the antsy Sans. “And they ran off. Then I was attacked and- And I lost them and now I don’t know where they are, and some crazy armor guy is after humans and Frisk is by themselves and-and-” The skeleton holds up his hand when you look about ready to hyperventilate. There's a shooshing sound that escapes his grin and your shoulders fall again, somehow soothed by the noise.

        “Hey, hey, hey, it’s okay. Look, the kid must’ve gone by while I was at Grillby’s. If that’s the case, there's only one road outta here, and it’s that way.” He pointed his finger bone, they were called phalanges you think you remember now, down a path you saw glow abnormally. “With those short legs of theirs, they couldn’t have gotten far.” You nod, setting a hand on your heart to try and make it calm again.

        It was going to be okay. Frisk, like Sans said, couldn’t have gotten far. You weren’t going to lose them again, it was going to be okay.

        It was going to be okay.

        “___?” You jump a bit, looking down to Sans, who had gone onto his tippy-bones to peer at your face with knitted brows. “You going to be okay goin’ off alone? I guess I can always lead you out of Waterfall, or at least until you see the kid again...” The idea this lazybones was offering to walk with you made you smile, but you shook your head.

        “You have important work, right?” You gesture to the telescope with a smirk. “Plus I... They’re my sibling and I was the one who scared them off, I have to be the one there for them.” Sans nods and shrugs, finding your words familiar.

        “Be safe, and make sure you find the kid.” He then pauses. “‘Cause Paps would be pretty sad, y’know.” He looks away from you and you can’t help but snort.

        “Right. Just Paps, huh?” The skeleton keeps his eyes away. “Well... thanks, Sans.” You lean down to the small guy and give him a brief, but strong, hug. You couldn’t really think of a way to convey how much his simple presence meant to you. In just a couple words he had calmed you down and quenched your fears like it was nothing, without even realizing what he had done himself.

        When you let go you pat his skull and then swivel on your heel heading towards the way he pointed.

        Immediately you are met with neon blue waters and glowing echo flowers scattered around. This probably wasn’t the field Frisk mentioned earlier, but it was pretty enough that you kept catching yourself slowing down to take it in.

        Your phone rang just when you sped up your walking again.

        “Hello?” You hoped that it would be Frisk using some monsters phone.

        “HELLO!” You swallow a sigh. “THIS IS PAPYRUS.” You didn’t get much of a chance to respond. Paps talked a mile a minute over the phone. “REMEMBER WHEN I ASKED ABOUT THE CLOTHES OF THE SMALL HUMAN?  WELL, THE FRIEND WHO WANTED TO KNOW… HER OPINION OF YOU BOTH IS VERY… MURDERY. WELL, WORRY NOT DEAR HUMAN! PAPYRUS WOULD NEVER BETRAY YOU OR FRISK! I AM NOT A CRUEL PERSON. I STRIVE TO BE COMFORTING AND PLEASANT. PAPYRUS! HE SMELLS LIKE THE MOON.”

        Wha- The moon?

        “SO, BECAUSE OF MY INHERENT GOODNESS… I TOLD HER FRISK WAS NOT WEARING A FADED RIBBON! EVEN THOUGH YOU TOLD ME THEY WERE. INSTEAD, I MADE SOMETHING UP! I TOLD HER THEY WERE WEARING… A VERY DARK BLUE AND PURPLE ONESIE!” You froze. “IT PAINED ME TO TELL SUCH A BOLDFACED LIE. I KNOW THEY WOULD NEVER EVER WEAR A ONESIE COLORED THAT WAY, BUT THEIR SAFETY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FASHION. DANG! I JUST WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE…”

        “Wait Papy-!” click.

        Your hand is shaking so much you almost drop the phone. Papyrus he- how did he not- that idi-! Your hand runs aggressively through your hair, pulling at it harshly, and cutting your mean train of thought off. In the dark of Waterfall, the light blue and magenta striped onesie would be dark blue and purple! He practically told this woman even more of a description than just a faded ribbon!

        You shot forward in a run, trying to catch up to wherever Frisk had ventured. You had to find them, soon. If you didn’t and something happened...If something happened…

        You brain went blank as you skidded around a corner, almost right off the edge and into the duly lit water. It was no longer glowing at this point, but calm and blue grey. For a moment, you swore you saw something yellow peek up out of the water, but you were already passing through the opposite doorway to really register it.

        What finally got your attention and made you pause was a lone stature under a spotlight. It must’ve been a crack that let in light from the surface, because it also let in drops of water. It could’ve been rain, but you weren’t sure. Whatever it was, it made you a bit sad seeing the wet stature look so gloomy in it’s forever hunched over form. Another thing that caught your attention was that the base of it was dry, like it was protecting something….

        In curiosity, you walked off from the statue and over to a bin of umbrella’s. Taking a dusty green one, you move back and prop it up on the art, shielding it from the rain.

        Immediately the hall is filled with soft music, emitting from a music box you see in the arms of the hunched form. You smile, staying there to listen to the soft melody before continuing on.

        Grabbing your own dusty green umbrella upon noticing that the later part of the hall has water dripping constantly, like rain, with cracks even large enough to come down like water falls.

        Walking through was like walking through the streets at night while it rained back home. The only difference was the lack of light from street lamps and the moon, along with the nosiness of an entire city, being replaced with the soft music of a drying statue and the glow of stones in the ceiling.

        At the end, you’re met with a tallish ledge. Of course, it was actually pretty short compared to you, but you weren’t sure you could get over with the umbrella in hand. Closing and placing it into another convenient bin, you heave yourself up and onto the ledge. Could Frisk have gotten over this by themselves..? Maybe you were going the wrong way…

        But there wasn’t another way, was there. Not to the extent of your knowledge at least. Plus, Sans said there was only one way.

        You trudge forward.

        This time you’re met with another floor of dusty blue wood. With every step you take it creaks underneath you, making you feel like it wasn’t completely solid.

        It’s, terrifyingly, quiet as you make your way across, trying to find the doorway to the next room.

        The longer you walk, the more you swear you hear the beginning of that song that had pounded in your ear when you ran from those spears. The louder the tune grows, the more scared you become. Soon, you’re running in the direction of the song.

        When you skid to the halt, the music has stopped. Luckily, or sadly, you don’t need to hear it to find where to go, because you can now see where it spawned from.

        The large beast in armor is towering in front of Frisk, who’s shaking in their boots at a dead end. As the suit takes a threatening step closer, you’re running again.

        You’ve run too much today.

        You dive for the kid just as you hear the all too familiar sound of spears crashing through wood. The kid looks stunned, but doesn’t hesitate to grab at you when you wrap your arms tightly around them.

        The reunion is short lived because you feel your heart drop to your gut as the sensation of falling overcomes you.

        Except it’s not just a feeling, because you really are falling into darkness with Frisk curled in your arms, you holding onto them and facing your back down so you can take the brunt force of the drop.

       ...

        You and Frisk… really shouldn’t fight.

Chapter Text

        You hope waking up in golden flower beds after falling from perilous heights won’t become a habit of yours. Especially if it involves being in pain every time.

        It took you a moment to regain full consciousness, taking you even longer to remember you could move. Sitting up, you’re met with a waterfall that crashes, surprisingly, gently into the pool you sat in the middle of. The golden flowers were growing under you, somehow. Looking closer they seemed to have created their own float by tightly weaving their roots together and growing in odd layers. It was as sturdy and just as unmoving as the wooden planks you stepped onto. You didn’t want to have to get in the water just yet since it probably came from the direction of Snowdin, and you weren’t ready to deal with hypothermia on top of all the rest of your worries.

        Were you… forgetting something?

        You glance around the area. There’s nothing around except for the floating bits of garbage and heaps of trash-

        Where was Frisk?

        You had almost forgotten you had finally found, and grabbed, the kid just before the fall. If you had them in your arms… why weren’t they with you?

        You feel panic begin to rise in you as you jump off of the dry wood to splash down into the thigh high water. You begin searching in the water, soaking your arms and chest as you try to scoop up anything out of your sight. The kid hadn’t drowned, had they!?

        “______!” The scratchy voice, that honestly sounded like sweet music to your ears, piped up from behind. Your heart swelled as you whipped around and grabbed the wet, but warm, bundle up in your arms.

        “Frisk!” You all but scream, hugging them as if they’re the only thing holding you together. Which was pretty true at the moment. “I-I thought-”

        “Its-...” They winced. “Okay,” They make out, hugging you tightly around your shoulders. They sound so strong, using their vocal strings that had grown rusty from the sparse use, but you could feel them shaking on the brink of tears.

        “I’m sorry-” You blurt, pulling away but keeping their dripping form in your arms. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you or-or pressured you like I did,” They shake their head. Now you really can see the tears forming at the corner of their eyes.

        “It’s my fault. You were right. You deserve to know because you’re my sister, but also because I dragged you into this. I want to tell you. I need to tell you. I’m just...scared…” You nod, curling an arm under their legs to hold them up so you could sooth them with running your free hand through their hair.

        “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me right now. In fact, you should wait until you’re ready, when we get home again.” They nodded slowly, sucking in a deep, shaky breath to help them hold back tears. Then, with a blinding smile, they shifted and pulled something from over their shoulders.

        It was your bag, it must’ve fallen off of you during the fall, and a... baseball bat?

        “Thanks kid but… what’s this?” They help you slip on the backpack without having to set them down, and then they present the chipped, wooden bat like they were holding a trophy. They looked so proud.

        “You left yours back at the Ruins, remember? I found this in a trash pile over there,” They waved their hand somewhere off to their side, in the direction of a lot of dripping debris. “I know you really liked that bat and…” They paused, looking down. Immediately you see it as a sign of guilt.

        “Hey, hey hey,” You say, dipping a hand under their chin to being their eyes up to meet yours. “It’s not your fault I decided to throw the thing down as a statement,” Their lips twitch up. “Plus, it was pretty old anyway. I was thinking about getting a new one and…” You trailed off as you cradled the kid closer to you in one arm, using the other to take the bat they held and give it an experimental swing.

        “You don’t have to use it,” They hurriedly sign when they see you eyeing the chipped bat critically. “Just saw it and thought you might want it. It was thrown away for a reason so-” Your face splits into a grin, surprising Frisk.

        “Not use it? This is awesome! I don’t know how anyone could throw this thing away…” You give it one more hearty swing before sliding it in the same place on your bag where your original bat used to occupy. You imagine the spot is happy being filled again.

        “Hey,” Frisk signs just after you turn and begin to shift through the deep water, careful with your footing as you make your way between the piles of rubbish. There was only one way for you to head, behind you being a dead end and on either side moist cave walls and colorful broken down plastic and metal.

        “Yeah?”

        “Up ahead is…” Their hands pause, you notice that they’re shaking, along with the rest of their body, and you curse that there was nothing to dry them with. You would sacrifice your shirt, but it was just a sopping wet. “There’s someone who’s going to attack you.

        “Who? Another one of your friends?” Frisk’s hands don’t move again, and they just frown. You raise a brow, confused at their confusion. Why would the kid question if the monster was their friend or not? Was it… something to do with what the kid wouldn’t tell you? Probably. You made sure not to ask about it this time.

        “Nn!” The kid wiggles in your arms, pointing out to a damaged cooler you almost walked right by. They try to drop from your grip, but you hold tight. The water was deep, coming up to your thighs, and you ponder if Frisk swam through here the first time. Anyway, you didn’t want the kid anymore wet that they were. Your eyes were still searching for a towel or blanket to dry them with as you step up to the floating cooler and open it.

        Inside you find two packets of astronaut food.

        “Oh my gosh! I remember these!” You say, holding the packets close so you can try and read the small font. “Whenever we went out, I used to force dad to-” You stop, catching your words too late. Frisk tilts their head, but you shake it off, the once happy feeling immediately leaving and letting a cold one sink in.

        You put the packets in your bag and continue forward.

        Quickly, you see an exit. You guess it’s an exit by it being the only way out of the waterfall pool. It ramped right out, looking dry and a little warm. The pitch back opening brought relief to your drenched form- something which, in any other context, wouldn’t.

        “Oh look, a dummy,” Commenting offhandedly, you gesture to you plush dummy that you walk by, just a couple feet from the exit. “Maybe it knows the dummy Toriel has-”

        The sudden, threatening music that engulfs you clogs the rest of your words in your throat. You hear the water splash behind you, and when you spin and look, the dummy is gone.

        “Hahahaha....” You whip back around to come face to face- face to.. Cloth? Face to possessed ghost eyed dummy? Either way, the floating dummy before you was no longer the dormant one you had just commented on. “It’s just like you to run away!” It’s ghostly eyes, which had appeared on it around the same time it because florescent orange, narrowed done onto you and Frisk.

        “It… is?” You ask weakly.

        “...Yes!” He, you suppose it’s a he by the male voice, yells back. “I am a ghost that lives inside a dummy. My cousin used to live inside a dummy, too. Until… You two came along!” You pull Frisk closer, disliking how the mouthless dummy was shouting. “When you both talked to them, they thought they were in for a nice chat… but the things you said…! Horrible. Shocking! UNBELIEVABLE! It spooked them right out of their dummy!”

        “Wait… so you really do know the dummy at Toriel’s?” Frisk pinches your arm, trying to get you back onto the dangerous situation at hand. You were still trying to process the idea of dummy cousins, though.

        “Humans!” You blink, pointing a finger you you and the kid. “I’ll scare your souls out of your bodies!” Quickly, without much thought, you push Frisk into a pile of garbage before hurrying back to the open area that the dummy confronted you in. He looks bewildered at your action, but it was too late for him to go back now. You think you hear Frisk call for you, but the all too familiar feeling of your soul being ripped out from it's home inside of you makes you shiver, and the world around you seems to black out and go void. Sadly, you had gotten somewhat used to it, but the emptiness and anxiety that it gave in return still shook you.

        The mad dummy blocks Frisk’s and your way.

        “Hey,” You decide to talk, before you unsheathe your new-old bat.

        …

        He doesn’t seem much for conversation. This annoys both of you.

        “Pitiful. Pitiful! PITIFUL!” You scoff, but your glare doesn’t last as your attention is dragged to the much smaller dummies that seems to pop up around you. You squeal as balls of… something come shooting towards you. Luckily, they’re somewhat easy to dodge.

        Then, with a stroke of genius, you slip your baseball bat and take a swing at one of the scribbles, which you’ve decided to call them.

        “Owww, you DUMMIES! Watch where you’re aiming your magic attacks! Don’t let her hit them!” You blink, and then give the mad dummy a look. Magic?

        He notices your eyes on him. He looks like he’s begun to sweat.

        “Hey! You! Forget I said anything about magic!” You snort, which seems to make him start going more red than orange. “I’ll defeat you and take your soul! And then that smaller human’s!”

        You narrow your eyes and send a couple more scribbles his way.

        Like you’d let this dummy anywhere near Frisk that easily.

        “I’ll use your soul to cross the barrier! A-And I'll stand in the window of a fancy store! Then everything I want will be mine!”

        “I thought you were fighting me because of your cousin?”

        “H-Huh? Yeah, I guess that’ll avenge them… What was their name again?”

        “Seriously?”

        “Whatever. Whatever! WHATEVER!”

        Mid side-step you momentarily forgot that you’re still in deep water, and stumble over your feet. A scribble plows into your exposed side and you crumble down into the pool. You gasp-

        Cold water rushes into your lungs.

        You scramble to your feet, quickly. You were still fighting, your soul still exposed to the mad dummy, but the violent coughing overtaking you, trying to get the water out of your system, couldn’t let you concentrate. Three more scribbles slam into you, almost making your knees buckle. You successfully dodged a couple, and even attempt a swing at one, but it’s no use. Another hits the back of your head and your vision, for a terrifying second, goes black. You flail, and somehow hit scribbles into the mad dummy. This, luckily, gives you time to feed air into your lungs and to regain your senses.

        “Hey guys!” The dummies that had been disappearing under the water and then popping up in different places to attack all shot up, looking to the dummy that had called them. “Dummies. Dummies! DUMMIES! Remember how I said NOT to let her hit those at me? Well… FAILURES!” All eyes of the many smaller dummies bug out of their heads. “YOU’RE FIRED! YOU’RE ALL BEING REPLACED!” They sink into the water, and for a split second, you feel relief of the battle finishing wash over you.

        It’s immediately denied as the sound of mechanical gears whirring to life echo around the room.

        “Now you’ll see my true power: relying on people that aren’t garbage! Dummy Bots! Magic missiles!” Five dummy’s, that shine as their metal reflect the water under then, slowly raise up in a neat row. You purse your lips and watch as their chest opens, firing out, from what the mad dummy said, missiles.

        They follow you when you leap out of the way, trying to dodge. You do another tight turn, but they all follow- actually, they don’t. After doing one circle around them, a red light, that had been beaming brightly and making the water and cave walls glow a sickening red, turn off and they fly off in whatever direction they were flying originally.

        “Dummy bots! Try again!” More spring up around you, and fire quicker than the ones before, but you’re able to slip around them, circle them, and have them somewhat aim at the mad dummy.

        You had gotten used to the cold water constricting your legs, and it had become a little bit easier for you to dash around.

        “Dummy bots! You’re awful?”

        “Or maybe i’m just too good!” You shout, beaming as you side step more missiles and twirl around them. As more dummy bots popped up and fired, you continued leaping around, spinning around them, a smile growing on your face. It felt like you were dancing, and with the upbeat music sounding from the Dummy, you had more bounce to your step.

        “Dummy bots! Final attack!” At this, it seems close chaos breaks loose. The regular dummies come flying at you out of nowhere, missiles are still seeking you out, and once those regular dummies hit you, it became a slippery slope as it caused to to fall into others.

        However, you make it out okay. As the scene settles, you take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh as you set you hands on your knees.

        “N-no way…” The mad dummy mumbles to himself, staring at you amongst the mess of dummies, stuffed and made of metal alike. “These guys are even worse than the other guys..! Who cares. Who cares! WHO CARES! I DON’T NEED FRIENDS!” You look up just in time to notice he had conjured a magical, floating, knife.. “I’VE GOT KNIVES!”

        Everything you had faced so far was, on some level, magical. From Flies, to fireballs, to magic missiles, when it hit you it hurt, but disappeared. You were pretty much positive a knife wasn’t going to be like that.

        He threw it, and you blink as the aim was so bad you didn’t even have to move out of the way.

        “I’m...Out of knives.” You sigh in relief. “BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER!” His dummy head had turned completely red as he begins flailing around in the air. “YOU CAN’T HURT ME AND I CAN’T HURT YOU! YOU’LL BE STUCK FIGHTING ME….” He suddenly freezes. “Forever. Forever! FOREVER!” You frown as he begins shaking again. He’s flying everywhere at this point, stuffing from him raining down like snow.

        That's when you notice something else began to come down.

        The mad dummy is hit with the big drips, and he flinches at every one.

        “Wh...What the heck is this!? Acid rain!?” He takes a long look at you, and then tilts his head away pompously. “Oh, forget it! I’m outta here!” He then sinks slowly under the water, his music finally muffled, and then entirely gone.

        “....Sorry…” The soft voice grabs you, and before you now floats a ghost-

        But, haven’t you seen this ghost somewhere before?

        “I interrupted you, didn’t i? As soon as I came over, your friend immediately left…” His airy voice wavered, like on the brink of tears. “Oh no...You guys looked like you were having fun… Oh no… I just wanted to say hi… Oh no….” He starts to fade.

        Your soul gently returns to your body and you feel whole again.

        Seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of the waterfall pool brings relief to you. Specially, the lack of music.

        “Well...I’m going to head home now…” The ghost says softly, watching the way you slipped your bat into your bag with a roll of your wrist. “Oh...Umm….feel free to “come with” if you want, but no pressure. I understand if you’re busy. It’s fine… No worries… Just thought i’d offer……”

        “Nabstablook!” You suddenly blurt, the name coming to you at the last possible second. The mid disappearing ghost came back into existence.

        “Y-yes…?”

        “Oh! Uh...It...It’s nice seeing you again!” The ghost freezes up, looking surprised beyond words. You’re sure of a ghost could blush, he’d be a tomato at the point.

        “Oh….Th-thank you….” Quickly, he floats away.

        You turn to where you had hidden Frisk, your body beginning to pant as it tried to pull air into your small lungs. The exhaustion from the battle was suddenly on you.

        “Are you okay?” Frisk signs, looking over you from the trash pile you had thrown them behind before the battle.

        “Fine, fine, fine.” You say between heavy breaths. It doesn't convince them, but it does for you- a little. Something about saying “fine” over and over bought fake hope in the words. You had to be fine for Frisk, so you would be. It was simple.

        “So, you choose kid. Go hang with Blooky or continue on?” Though you preferred to check up on the tearful ghost you, again, like the majority of the time, put the decision with the kid. It was their odd resetting ability that got you here with them, and you didn’t want to step in and ruin too much.

        “Ghost!” They sign, with no way to say Napstablook. Before you can wade over to Frisk, they’ve jumped into the cold water. You scoop them up with a huff. Once again they were a dripping mess.

        “You’re just asking to get sick, bud.” They snicker, balling up in your arms. Though they don’t sign it, you know that they’re freezing and trying to find warmth against you. However, you were not a good heat source as you were still covered in freshly sprayed water yourself. You cradle the child as you walk farther up, coming to a golden star sparkling before you, and Nabstablook hovering just beyond.

        “Hey...My house is up here...in case you want to see… or in case… you don’t…” The ghost takes the middle pathway while you move your eyes back down to the save star.

        After the fight, you feel a calming tranquility. The promise of visiting Nabstablook fills you with kindness.

Chapter Text

        You really liked Nabstablook. The shy, quiet little ghost had invited you and Frisk into his home, showed you his music he had made, tried to feed you ghost food, and even offered some ghost towels to dry both of you. Of course, neither you or Frisk could eat the food or use the towels, but the sentiment was still there, and you both appreciated it very much. Though you still had a shirt that stuck to you because of the water, and uncomfortable jeans on, you did feel refreshed. The weariness you were feeling after the battle with the mad dummy was washed away when Napstablook invited you to lay down with him and feel like trash (a family tradition he had explained).

        It was a nice change.

        You and Frisk had to say goodbye to Napstablook when you remembered that you both still had a quest to do. You both were trying to save the monsters in the underground quickly. You had jobs and college to keep up with to make sure Frisk could be cared for, and you also had a half sentient mother to watch over back on the surface. Though.. If you didn’t have to worry about anything like that, you would’ve basked in how beautiful, amazing, and different this place that the monsters called home. It was like… while you were there, you didn’t have to face your version of reality; like this place was a dream.

        “So Frisk,” You prompt after the two of you had been walking for a long while. You’re traveling through a dark, very dark, room that only had neon glowing trees and grass to help guide you. It was like following the stars, but in grass and flower form. “Do you know who the armored guy is, chasing us?” The kid hummed as they skipped in front of you. Then, as they touched one of the plants to relight your path, they turned around to nod and sign.

        “That’s-” They then freeze, their face contorting.

        “They’re…?”

        “U-n-d-y-n-e,” Frisk spells out.

        “Undyne?” They nod. “Wait...I’ve heard that before….”

        “Papyrus said it earlier,” You nod, recalling the eery memory of Papyrus “selling you out”. When his voice was quiet, and wavering, and not at all loud and happy like always. Though, later, he tried to save you and Frisk from the soldier’s wrath, the memory still made you shiver. You hoped you’d never hear Papyrus that quiet ever again.

        “Do they... Change? Because right now it doesn’t seem like the whole… pacifict thing is going to work on them.” The kid didn’t even flinch at your words, which surprised you. They had done so much to convince you in the beginning to not hurt any of the monsters, even if they were trying to take either of your souls. It was never like you were out to hurt them, but you were sure self defense was a thing, along with the fact that you wouldn’t let anyone- human or monster- mess with Frisk. Yet, you had stayed true to your promise with the kid. But...Shouldn’t they be upset you had even proposed the idea of backing out of it to get past this Undyne character?

        The path gets darker as you two walk, and soon the flower that Frisk had used to light the way had disappeared.

        Suddenly, you run into a wall.

        You stumble back, rubbing at your nose as your face flushed in embarrassment. You’re happy it was so dark that no one could’ve seen. However, you do hear Frisk snickering. You give them a look, but then notice something blue to your side. You raise a brow, and reach out, forging glaring at the amused kid.

        Your fingers brush across a soft blue petal, sparking it to glow brighter and show that it was one of those echo flowers you had seen in the fields earlier. You hold a finger up to Frisk, who was bathed in the bright light, and lean closer to listen in excitement.

        “..Behind….you…”

        Light fills the cavern and you whirl around, your heart in your throat as you’re faced with the looming suit of armor called Undyne. You try to spot a way out, but you and Frisk had walked right into a dead end, that this guy had taken full advantage of.

        You swing your bat out, pushing Frisk quickly behind you. You don’t think a measly bat could hold up to the flying blue spears Undyne threw, but you’d put up a hell of a fight.

        They take a threatening step forward.

        “Seven,” Echo’s out a muffled voice that is just as metallic as the clunky metal suit. “Seven human souls. With the power of seven human souls, our king… King Asgore Dreemurr… Will become a god. With that power, Asgore can finally shatter the barrier. He will finally take the surface back from humanity, and give them back the suffering and pain that we have endured.” They take another step, and you get ready for whatever is about to happen, your muscles tensing. “Understand, humans? This is your only chance at redemption. Give up your soul… Or i’ll tear if from one of your bodies.” The suit of armor then crouches for a split second, conjuring a blue spear in their hands, and then begins sprinting your way.

        In instinct, you shove Frisk out of the way, giving you no time to move yourself out of the way. Just as the idea of moving your bat to block begins to form, the seaweed covering the wall to your right ruffles and a yellow, armless, small monster pops out, stopping Undyne mid-step.

        “Undyne! I’ll help you fight!” The monster, who you remember seeing at the beginning of Waterfall, looks from the towering suit of armor, to Frisk, and then to you. The flicker in their eyes show that they recognize Frisk, but surprisingly they give you a look as if they know you too. Their eyes flicker between all three of you before it seems it dawns on them what situation they had just jumped into.

        "Yo! You did it!” Or... not. “You found your sister and Undyne is right in front of you! You got front row seats to the fight.” You purse your lips, looking from the monster kid to Frisk, who gives a silent sigh. “Wait.. Who’s she fighting?” The spear in the suit of armors hands dissipates and they replace it with the monster kids spike, pulling them off like a mother would by gripping their child's ear. “H-Hey! You aren’t gonna tell my parents about this, are you?” Then, they’re gone, and the tension floods out the room with them.

        “That was… interesting.” Frisk nods, giggling as they made grabby hands up at you. You smirk, picking them up and setting them on your shoulders as you begin to back track. Luckily, it seems the line of wall actually gave way to another path of glowing grass, and not just void like you had originally thought.

        You ignore the fearful thoughts about what Undyne had said that swam through you mind like a violent school of fish, and instead busy yourself with messing with Frisk and looking at the small patch of Echo flowers that crowd your walkway to another part of the labyrinth of Waterfall.

        Again you’re faced with more pale wooden bridges which seemed to be the theme of Waterfall, other than, of course, waterfalls and water in general, but this one seemed more stable; new. At least, the main path of it did. There was a very old, rickety part branching out to the right that had somewhat fallen and looked much too dangerous for anyone of any size to touch it. Even a fly would upset it.

        You’re about to get safely to the other side, onto solid ground, but a soft voice calls for you to stop and turn around.

        “Yo!” The monster kid is back, and Frisk makes a noise that tells you they want to put them down.

        As soon as your siblings is down on the bridge, the monster kids begins to come closer until he is standing just in front of Frisk.

        “Yo, I know i’m not supposed to be here, but… I wanna ask you something.” Frisk nods. “...Man, i’ve never had to ask anyone this before...Umm… Yo… You’re human, right? Your sister too?” He nervously laughs, looking from side to side, refusing to meet Frisk’s eyes.

        Your kid nods.

        “Man! I knew it! ….Well, I know it now, i mean…” He then pauses, down casting his eyes and kicking at something with his foot. His yellow cheeks were going a vermillion. “Undyne told me, uh, “stay away from those humans.” So, like, I guess that makes us enemies or something. But I kinda stink at that,” His eyebrows dip, and he looks almost on the brink of tears. And, as if it was Frisk about to cry, you have the inkling to go and hug the monster kid. Slowly, he meets Frisk eyes. “Yo, saying something mean... Please?”

        “No,” Frisk signs, along with shaking their head.

        “Yo, what? So...So I have to do it?” He then takes a deep breath. “Alright then… here it goes… Yo, I...I hate your guts.” He then frowns heavily and uses his sweatered shoulder to rub at something about to falling from his eye. “Man, I’m such a turd. I’m...I’m going to head home, now.” Slowly, he starts to back up, and Frisk takes a step forward to stop him. Their outstretched hand seems to be the breaking point, because the monster kid spins around and begins to sprint away-

        But his balance fails him, and he falls onto to the broken bridge. A loud snap echos out, and you see the whole structure begin to tremble.

        “Yo, w-w-wait! Help! I tripped!”

        Then, multiple things happen. At the same time you see Frisk begin to run forward, going to save their friend from falling, you watch Undyne appear on the other side of the bridge, looking ready to attack.

        “Frisk!” You call, also running forward. You don’t hesitate to drop to your knees and help Frisk pull up the kid.

        Once his feet touch safe, stable bridge, he looks between you two in awe, and then, takes a serious look as he runs around you and blocks Undyne.

        “Y….Y...Yo… Dude… If… If y-you wanna hurt my friends… You’re gonna have to get through me, first.” You slowly stand, wide eyed, looking between the suit of armor and the shaking tiny monster in front of you.

        Though you can’t see Undyne’s face, the way she begins to back away slowly makes it seem like she is just as surprised as you are; just as stunned. Once she’s out of sight, the monster kid turns around and smiles at you and Frisk, seemingly still shaken by falling and facing Undyne.

        “You, you two really saved my skin…” He then looks to Frisk and goes vermillion again. “Guess being enemies was just a nice thought...We’ll just have to be friends instead.”

        He blinks, looks around, and pales.

        “...Man, I should really go home… I bet my parents are worried sick about me!” Just as he begins to walk off, he stops again. “Later, dudes!” He calls with a big smile, waving his tail, and then sprints off. You stare for a long time before silently reaching down and picking up Frisk again.

        “You’ve made a lot of great friends, Frisk,” You say, continuing to the other side of the bridge. The kid happily bounces on your shoulders before reaching a hand down to sign in your field of vision.

        “You like them, right?” You laugh and nod.

        “Yeah. They’re pretty nice. In fact, all of the monster’s are. They’re.. Kind, once they get the fight in that they’ve been wanting against a human for so long.”

        Finally, after only a short distance of walking, you begin to realize that the once luke warm air of Waterfall that sometimes made you shiver was now causing sweat on the back of your neck. It was getting hotter and at the same time, darker. The large mountain of spiked rocks that stood before you cast a shadow because of the red light that poured out behind it. It seemed to be the entrance into another area, probably just as drastically different  from how Snowdin was to the surface or to Waterfall.

        Frisk had slipped down from your shoulders once again, and laced their tiny hand with yours, giving a determined look that set you on edge. Before you could enter, Frisk stopped you by pointing straight up. And, when you look, you spot the large suit of armor that had been following and attacking you two since you had entered Waterfall. She stood at the top of the mountain of rocks, over looking you and simultaneously the area beyond.

        “Seven,” Her voice booms, echoing in her helmet and around the cave. “Seven human souls, and King Asgore will become a god.” Slowly she turned around, her shadow looming over you. “Six. That’s how many we have collected thus far. Understand? Through your seventh and final soul, this world will be transformed. First, however, as is customary for those who make it this far...I shall tell you the tragic tale of our people. It all started, long ago…” She then pauses, the silence giving way to the loud thumping music that had chased you earlier in the caverns. The song has you pushing Frisk away, telling them to find a place to hide.

        “I can help!” They sign as you take your bat out. “She’s really strong, like Toriel and Papyrus!

        “I know you can, Frisk. Look, you handled Papyrus, so imma fight her.” You give Frisk face, and for a moment they just stare.

        “But ____, You only fight monsters… ” You furrow your brows in confusion at the child's soft words.

        “No, you know what?” Undyne’s voice has the kid darting through the entrance that you had pointed to and you focusing on the royal guard. “Screw it! Why should I tell you that story when you’re about to die!?” She then lets out a warrior's cry as she rips off her helmet and chucks it your way.

        You jump to the side with a surprised yelp.

        “You!” She points, her long red ponytail flying in the wind- wind that shouldn’t be there since you were underground. “You’re standing in the way of everybody’s hopes and dreams! Alphy’s history books made me think humans were cool… With their giant robots and flowery swordsmen….”

        ...You are positive that there were no “flowery swordsmen” or “giant robots” in the history books at any point in time.

        “But you? You’re just a coward!” You ruffle, standing up straighter as you gloward at the woman. “Hiding behind that kid so you could run away from me again! And let’s not forget your wimpy goody-two-shoes schtick! Oooh! I’m making such a difference by hugging random strangers!”

        “Oi!” You shout, actually getting annoyed by her childish cooing. You were doing the whole schtick because Frisk wanted you to! If it wasn’t for the kid you.. You don’t know how you would’ve reacted to monsters jumping out randomly to attack you.

        “You know what would be more valuable to everyone? If you were dead! That’s right human! Your continued existence is a crime! Your life is all that stands between us and our freedom!” She raises her fist high, cackling. “Right now, I can feel everyone’s hearts pounding together! Everyone’s been waiting their whole lives for this moment! But we’re not nervous at all. When everyone puts their hearts together, they can’t lose! Now, human! Let’s end this, right here, right now. I’ll show you how determined monsters can be! Step forward when you’re ready!”

        You’re annoyed, but just snort and turn to touch the save star at your side. Maybe she was a royal guard, and was determined to steal your soul, but Frisk had gotten past her before, so you’d have no trouble. Plus, so far, none of the monsters had been too bad. A few bruises and scrapes, but nothing you couldn’t handle.

        “That’s it, then. No more running away! Here I come!” With a whoop she jumps off, aiming a spear at your head. Your soul rips from your body, flying up to meet her halfway.

        You’re forced into a fight, the eye-patch wearing fish woman now standing tall before you.

        “Engarde!” She swipes at you, with a shit eating grin, but she then furrows her brow as she stares at your floating soul. Something about it makes Undyne’s eye twitch, and she holds her hand up.

        Blue floating spears conjure up around her, and then shoot off, aiming directly for you.

        However, with how fast they come, your smirk only widens. You raise your bat and take a home run worthy swing at one, which flings it back towards Undyne, and then bounce the others off as if you were baby bumping a pitch.

        She growls your way, and then conjures up even more spears, and they move even faster.

        But you were once your baseball’s team main hitter. You could follow the spears movement easily with your trained eyes, and easily deflected them.

        “Is that all?” You taunt, and her fins flare on either side of her head. “You’ve been hounding me and the kid since we first got to Waterfall, and when you posed up on the mountain I thought there would be a challenge!” She screams, throwing more spears.

        Multiple nick your arms and face, but none fully pierce your flesh. What really annoyed you were the golden spears that you flip around on you at the last second.

        “I don’t know how you’ve gotten this far,” Undyne says, narrowing her eye. “You should’ve given up when I sent Papyrus after you!” You dart around one of the spears, taking another swing at one to see how close you could get it to Undyne.

        It was close enough that she had to roll out of the way.

        “Frisk handled Pap.” You grin. “Did you really think spaghetti and puzzle loving Papyrus would be able to kill a kid? Specially one as sweet as Frisk?” Undyne frowns, but she doesn’t disagree. “Look, why don’t you just let us by? S’not like you can hit me anyway,” This time, taunting her was not the best idea.

        A shadow spears in an odd shape at your feet. Following it up, you’re faced was a bundle of spears that were so tightly put together that there were way more than what the shadow made it seem at first. Undyne gives a glaring smirk at your look. As she fires them, you take a single step back, in hesitation, before you hold your bat out to defend. Surprisingly, you get though the majority of them with being stabbed through. This didn’t include getting a deep enough slice on your leg that had your knee falter at the pain.  

        You spin around to bounce away a golden spear when you’re met with the, suddenly, hovering face of Undyne. You don’t know when she ran around you so quickly and so quietly. She’s grinning toothily, her eye wide in pride. For a moment, you wonder why she looks so happy, because you can just easily duck around her, but then… then you feel it.

        Pain. Hot, throbbing pain in your chest.

        Slowly, numbly, you look down to see a spear, clenched tightly in Undyne's gloved hands, skewered through your pulsing green soul, and your chest. You open your mouth, but nothing sounds- except for a sickening gurgle. You look up, meeting Undyne’s eye again.

        “I. Hit. You.” She hisses quietly. You throw your hands out, your bat dropping to the ground, and curl them into her suits cold metal. You strain to breathe, her spear having to have gone threw one of your lungs.

        You blink, trying to wet your bulging eyes, to make them stop burning.

        And, abruptly, you’re no longer staring down a grinning Undyne, but staring at the warm light of the save star.

        You slowly look up, spotting the woman still at the top of the mountain, waiting for you to walk up to her for the battle to begin.

        …

        She had just killed you.

        You had died.

        You still felt the spear through your chest, burning, the blood gushing, the lack of air- suffocation… But looking and feeling, there was no wound. No red.

        Yet, as you stare at the woman, fear doesn’t fill you, you don’t go numb because you’re scared of her, instead, your blood boils.

        You had felt worse than that damn spear in your chest, because what you had went through? You hadn’t died after.

        Something lights up in you. You don’t what it is, because you’ve never felt it before, but whatever it is, you liked it. It gave you adrenaline, but also a clear mind, and even a dash of confidence. You took a deep, calming breath.

        But ____, You only fight monsters...

        That...Was right. You had thought, at first, that promising Frisk, before you both fell into the Underground, to not fight any of the monsters was weird. But, this is how you had always fought, isn’t it? You had always beaten up the monsters that preyed on your sibling. But these monsters? Down here? They weren’t monsters. You had met, seen, talked to, and mauled monsters that were supposed to be human, and these so called “monsters”, here in the underground, weren’t that. Far from it. You had never branded a fist to someone who didn’t deserve it, so why would you now?

        “Listen up!” You yell out, swinging the bat up to point threateningly at Undyne. “Maybe you think everyone down here is hoping you murder another innocent lost child, but I don’t care what you, or any of them, want! I’m Determined to make it past you, and to show you Kindness. Because that’s how I fight! And nothing you swing at me will stop that! So get ready, because I don’t think you’re ready for this.”

        During your fight with Undyne just now, you had been so peeved at her for hunting Frisk and you for so long that you had been more worried about trying to annoy her and 1-up her, than you were about trying to get past her.

        “Come at me, tall human!”

        The wind is howling.

        The music of Undyne’s soul is pounding in your ears.

        You’re filled with newfound Kindness as you step forward to attempt fighting Undyne once more. Hopefully, you don’t die this time.

        But… You’re confident you won’t.

Chapter Text

        The first time you had thrown a punch was back when you were ten, a year older than Frisk was currently. Unlike Frisk, you hadn’t matured as far yet, and acted your age while Frisk seemed to act much, much older. At ten, a teen, maybe about fifteen or so, standing a couple feet above you, suddenly started to pick on you. To this day, you don’t remember what he started to yell at you about, either because it was something stupid enough to forget, or scarring enough you blocked it out. As soon as he laughed, about to turn away with his friends, you snapped. You barreled into his gut, threw him down, straddled his chest, and let loose on his face. You had been ten, but that didn’t mean your tiny anger fueled fists didn’t hurt him any less. His friend threw you off him and they all ran. You took the tooth you knocked out of his jaw as a trophy and put it in a special box on your dresser. You’re sure you still have it somewhere around the house…

        The second time you threw a punch was less of a mindless blur of anger, and more of a calculated fight. After your first fight you strayed from violence of any kind, but this fight… You couldn’t hide from this one.

        You were thirteen when Frisk was born, and when you first saw a monster.

        She was a big, red faced girl. Her arms were more muscular than any of the other kids. She was popular, knowing how to box, being able to throw the majority of the boys over her shoulders, tall and rectangular... She was so… different that the kids who were so used to one version of “female” were awestruck with her. To you, at first, she was amazing. The brunette had become your role model. Yet...After school one day, having to stay after to collect notes from your science teacher because you had been absent the day before, you stepped out to see your so called “role model” towering over a crying coffee colored girl. The scene looked to you like your idol was helping the girl up.

        When she kicked her, you realized, with a sickening feeling, the opposite.

        This person, who looked so amazing and was so strong, was bullying someone right before you. You called her out, and in fear of being caught, she ran. Of course, not before telling you to meet her after school the next day.

        The news of a fight spread quickly, and the day passed just so. When you trudged out to the back of the school, shaking in your shoes, something came over you when you saw the coffee colored girl. She stood among the crowd of cheering students and with a big gulp of air, she flashed her best smile your way. She had a bruise forming on her cheek, and one that went under the collar of her shirt, but the big smile that split her face made your heart warm. She looked...safe, happy, and about to cry.

        You… had made that happen.

        You had saved her from having to speak out against the school's popular. You had made sure she wouldn’t be hit again. You could feel the kindness from her across the ring of students, and it gave you the confidence you needed to turn and stare down your idol.

        You went home with your first broken nose and a black eye.. But a second trophy to add to your box, and a new feeling in your chest that encouraged you. When you looked down onto the newborn’s crib, you told them that you’d protect them, and make them smile like you had done with that student. Frisk, just born, couldn’t respond, and just made gurgly baby noises as they wrapped their pudgy tiny hand around your finger.

        That day, you promised to never let anyone make that smile disappear.

        But also, you promised that you’d only fight monsters, and never let anyone go unnoticed. You’d fight the odds, no matter how much they were against you, because you’d never, ever, let the kindness in your heart, that the thirteen year old student, unbeknowingly, gave you, disappear.

        So, as you stared down the fight-ready Undyne before you, loud music thundering in your ears along with your own heart beat, only one thing came to mind: how were you going to not fight her?

        Undyne wasn’t a monster. She had taken the monster kid out of trouble every time he found himself between you, Frisk, and her, and all the residents of the underground always praised her for being their hero.

        You were going to, for now, and for Frisk’s sake, ignore the fact that she had killed you and hunted you both down. If you let that slide, again only for now, she wasn’t someone who deserved to get their ass kicked.

        So, how were you going to beat her, without fighting?

        You felt a poke in your side and you jumped, surprised to see a free floating spear gently bumping into you. You blink, batting it away.

        “What’re you-” Undyne groans. “Take it!” You stare up at her, since she had yet to jump down from her pedestal. You can still make out the glare on her face, though.

        “But...I have a bat.” You hold up the weapon. She raises an unimpressed brow and then jumps down. You throw yourself back, bat at ready, but no music is matching the beat of your pounding heart nor can you see your green soul floating in front of you.

        “Come’ere!” She commands and immediately you hurry over to her. You were dreadfully confused at what was going on. This was so different compared to the first time you two fought.

        She snaps her fingers and the spear from before floats over to her. She snatches it from the air and then pushes it against your chest. You violently flinch, you breath stuttering out. You didn’t want a spear or Undyne near your chest any time soon.

        The woman then grabs your bat and throws it somewhere over her shoulder.

        “Hey! I need that!” She snorts, rolling her eyes.

        “You’ll only need it if you survive me.” She give a shark toothed smirk. “And that’s low chance. Plus I’m only giving you this spear to give you a fair chance. That bat looked like you fished it from the garbage.” You purse your lips and avoid her stare.

        You take the spear in your first, feeling it warm under your touch. It pulsates once, like a heart beating, and then it goes still and you take your place far from Undyne.

        “No funny business, right?” You ask, eyes still on the glowing blue spear in your hand. “Like, you’re not going to make this disappear or something mid-battle?”

        “Hah!” She barks, obviously mad that you’d ever propose such a thing. Her ear fins flapped violently. “Who do you think I am?!”

        “Someone trying to murder my little sibling and me.” You respond immediately. You sigh at your own words. You weren’t trying to annoy her, you remind yourself, you were trying to not fight her.

        Undyne holds her spear out and you match the stance.

        “En Garde!”

        You soul tugs at your chest, slipping out into view as music begins to fill your ears. Once again, when Undyne catches the sight of your floating heart, she grimaces.

        “You have to face danger head on or you won’t last a second against me!” She laughs as she swings her arm, creating more spears in the air that come flying at you.

        You’re thankful for the weapon in your hands, even though it was a bit harder to handle than the baseball bat. It was balanced, and quite powerful. Sometimes if you swung it in just the right way it would cause the other spears to bounce off just with the force of the air behind it. Other times you had to dodge a spear that slipped past because, in comparison, it was much thinner than the baseball bat.

        You roll out of the way of Undyne as she swings her weapon down on you, only getting a millisecond to throw your guard up as a couple of spears came flying.

        “I don’t want to fight you!” You yell over the music. It’s loud and feels like it’s echoing in your chest.

        “For years we’ve dreamed of a happy ending!” She doesn’t yell. Or, her voice is the usual loud volume and she doesn’t raise it. You can hear her perfectly fine, even though you also know the music is much louder than her. “And now sunlight is just within our reach!”

        She flashes a menacing smile as she thrusts her spear, aiming for your head, that you duck and spin out of the way of. You forgo making your own strike and instead make distance between you both.

        “I won’t let you snatch it away from us!”

        That’s when you notice that the flying spears have disappeared. Undyne was focusing on closing the space between the two of you instead of firing.

 

So, how were you going to beat her, without fighting?

 

        As soon as your own thoughts come back to you, you spin around Undyne’s spear and bolt.

        How were you so slow? Of course the only way to not fight someone was to not fight them.

        The pathway that you had sent Frisk across before the fight broke out was warming as you ran across it.

        “Don’t run from me!” A spear flies past your head and you soul lurches around you to face Undyne. You give her a sly grin as you fake lunging at her, which she moves to block, only for you to turn around and start sprinting away again. “H-HEY!”

        Continuing down the path you quickly notice a gigantic, scrolling sign on the cave wall to your left. You try to make out the large, blearily red moving letters as you ran, but it ended up give you a headache.

        “Come back here you little punk!” A metal glove catches the back of your shirt and you breath skips as the collar constricts your throat. You stumble back, too off balance to deflect that spear that flies and slices into your waist. You rip yourself from the grip only to hear your cellphone go off. She pauses and you both make awkward eye contact. She then sneers but waves for you to get it.

        You nervously laugh as you answer.

        “HEY! WHAT’S UP!?” You pull the phone a little ways from your ear.

        “P-Papyrus?” You ask, eyes ghosting back to the impatient, foot tapping, armed woman behind you.

        “I WAS JUST THINKING…” You hear the excitement bubbling in his voice. “YOU, ME, LITTLE HUMAN, AND UNDYNE SHOULD ALL HANG OUT SOMETIME!”

        “Oh, really?”

        “I THINK YOU WOULD MAKE GREAT PALS! LET’S MEET UP AT HER HOUSE LATER!”

        “Um, Papyrus I don’t think-”

        “I HAVE TO GO COOK NOW, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE I AM THE GREATEST CHEF! NYEHEHEH!” The phone clicks as the skeleton hangs up on you. You take your time putting the phone back into your bag. You then throw eyes to Undyne, who’s raising a brow in question. You smile, nod, and then start running again.

        The pathway under your feet, which had been blue or purple while in Waterfall was steadily shifting into bright oranges stones and dirt. The path brightens in front of you.

        As you pass through a wall of thick heat that immediately creates sweat on your brow, something clasps around your wrist and yanks, the spear goes flying from your hand.

        You shriek in pain as your body is flung to the ground. You hear the clattering of metal behind you as dust erupts around your face.

        Then, there is silence. You grimace, trying to pull yourself off of the dusty ground, but your wrist is still trapped in a painful hold.

        “Armor...so...hot…” You turn your head, making sure not to rub yourself too much into the ground so you don’t inhale the orange, fine dirt. “But I can’t….Give up…” Undyne is next to you, collapsed on the ground. It seemed that she had grabbed you and accidentally pulled you down with her when she fell. She wasn’t getting up or letting go, though.

        “Mhmn.” You turn your head, once more, finally spotting a familiar and heart melting sight. Your little Frisk is stand in front of you, leaning down as they held a paper cup full water out towards you. You laugh, reaching your untrapped hand up to wipe at the sweat and dirt caked on your face.

        “Hey Frisk,” You say quietly, trying to give them a winner's smile. They return it as they shift over to help uncurl Undyne’s bruising grip from your wrist. You then take the cup of water Frisk hands you.

        You hesitate just as it meets your lips.

        Your eyes find the fish out of water.

        You sigh as you crouch down and hold the cup out, tipping it with satisfaction.

        As soon as the water pours over the woman’s face her eyes start to pry themselves open. As she slowly comes to, you give a look to Frisk. The kid, understanding, comes closer to help you pull the armed clad woman to her feet. Blearily she looks around, then down to you and the cup in hand, and even further down to the always smiling Frisk. Silently, with a look of confusion, she turns and leaves.

        Frisk grabs your eyes with quick waves of their hands.

        “I’m glad you’re okay,” They sign. You smile even though you know, for a fact you really aren’t.

        “I’m happy that you are too. I told you I’d be fine.”

        You reach out to pet your siblings head but the movement of your dominant hand sends a bolt of painful electricity up your arm.

        Your wrist ripples in red-hot, burning pain when you shift it even the slightest bit. A ring of thick finger shaped bruises had already started to darken.

        You hide the pain with a forced smile and the quick switch of hands as you ruffle Frisks hair.

        Moving around the kid, you quickly find the glowing blue spear you had dropped earlier. Trying to pick the spear back up in that hand is fruitless, as it only causes more pain. You decide to wield it with your non-dominant hand, choosing to have some kind of defense, even a weak one, over nothing at all.

        For some reason, the food you ate from your bag would not help the pain. Though, it seemed to help the monsters you had fed in experiment, and it even helped Frisk, but for some reason it didn’t help you. It could be because you were not a monster that used magic, so the magic infused food, as Frisk explained all the way back in Snowdin, would not help you. Yet, how come it healed your very human little sibling?

        Either way, your dominant hand was out of commission.

        You wipe away the sweat beading down on your forehead with your arm, along with any dirt that was stuck, taking one last glance to where the red haired fish in suffocating armor had slipped away. Frisk was beaming, having not noticed your wound on your side or wrist yet, seeming content that you both had helped Undyne.

        You were still a bit annoyed. You’d never like to just trust someone after one meet up, and this “someone” had killed you, and heavily messed with Frisk. You had heard nothing good about her but from monsters that praised her for attacking human children, and Frisk, who had already gone through this whole story and had seen however Undyne had changed.

        So, unless Undyne comes out and saves Frisk’s life multiple times, and yours, and has a sense of humor, you were pretty set on never crossing her path ever again.

Chapter Text

        Though you both had been chased into the Hotlands by Undyne, you were quickly dragged back to Waterfall by Frisk, who refused to continue on until you talked it out with the fish.

        Was...Calling her “the fish” offensive?

        …

        You decided immediately to stop degrading the walking, breathing, talking, thinking, and overall sentient woman to just “the fish”.

        “I just fought her, and I use “fought” loosely because I ran away the whole time.” You say as Frisk tugs on your good hand, your bad one quickly moved out of the kids reach when they reached out. “I think I should give her some space, even if Papyrus is super excited about it.” The kid, of course, ignored you.

        Basically, you hadn’t even said a single word about the phone call, which you had honestly forgotten about. Frisk, though, knew about it because, you assume, Papy had called them back when they were doing all of...this by themselves.

        You, of all people, were always up to giving people chances. You were just like that, even if the person didn’t deserve it. Obviously, Undyne, who seemed to pride herself on being a royal guard who saved the monsters, which was by stealing you or Frisk’s soul, wasn’t some bad person. She meant well…. For the monsters, at least. You don’t know how’d she’d handle seeing you and Frisk immediately after the incident. Plus, what about how’d you feel seeing her after all that? You didn’t tell Frisk, but Undyne had killed you and hadn’t looked upset in the slightest! Yeah, you reloaded (somehow. You were still confused to how it happened), but it didn’t change that in some weird parallel she had taken your life- brutally.

        Wait, had Frisk noticed the reset?

        You glance to the kid in front of you. They hadn’t looked disturbed in the slightest nor were they overly worried, so maybe the reloads were only remembered by the one who did it? The whole “Reset”, “Save”, and “Reload” thing confused you to no end.

        “I don’t remember seeing her house in Waterfall.” You say glancing around the area. It was quiet, only the gentle sounds of water flowing under your feet sounded. Though it was more of a white noise than anything else.

        “It was next to Napstablook’s.” They sign just as you both pass the turn to go to said spirits house. See, there was no way for Frisk to sign the name “Napstablook”, and it was way too long to fingerspell, so they used the sign for ghost, except backwards, which reminded you almost of tears falling.

        Turning, you both come up to, well, multiple things. Firstly, you immediately spy Papyrus, who’s waving his arms crazily in the air to gain your attention. Next you see the giant fish house behind him. It was...literally painted as and in the shape of a fish. A very angry fish. Then, to the left of it all, was a single dummy. You eyed it wearily as Frisk continues to pull you forward.

        “OHO! THE HUMANS HAVE ARRIVED!” Papyrus shouts once you’re close. Too close. He could’ve used that sort of volume when you and Frisk were still in the Hotlands and you would’ve heard him quite clearly. “ARE YOU READY TO HANG OUT WITH UNDYNE? I HAVE A PLAN TO MAKE YOU THREE GREAT FRIENDS!” However, just before he is able to usher you both inside, Frisks stops him. “LITTLE HUMAN?” You watch as the kid takes Papyrus gloves hand and pulls him off to the side. You give the smiling kid a look as they turn their back to you so they can secretly sign to tall the Skeleton.

        You still don’t know how all the monsters in the underground conveniently knew sign language. And Specifically ASL.

        “OH!” Papy barks, after the two are done...chatting. He then turns large sockets your way with a grin much larger than before. They both hurry back to you by the door. You raise a curious brow, even though you know neither of them are going to spill what they had just discussed.

        “OKAY! STAND BEHIND ME!” Papyrus says, nudging Frisk behind him so he can face the door. Yet, before he knocks, he looks over his shoulder at the both of you. “PSST.” You give him a look. “MAKE SURE TO GIVE HER THIS!” He hands frisk a bone tied with a red ribbon. “SHE LOVES THESE!”

        “She can probably hear him through the door.” You mutter.

        “I’m surprised we can’t hear her through the door.

        Quickly the both of you smother your giggling as the front jaws- er, door, opens.

        “Hi, Papyrus!” You try not to be too obvious as you peek around the skeleton. “Ready for your extra-private, one-on-one training?”

        “YOU BET I AM! AND I BROUGHT FRIENDS!” He dips away, revealing you and Frisk. It also lets you fully take in Undyne.

        The woman is armorless and much smaller than her shiny outfit from before would let on. However, she was still quite thick. There was obvious muscle definition in her arms and her legs reminded you of the soccer players you argued with back in highschool over which team could use the field for practice. She was also taller than you, though not as tall as the seven foot skeleton.

        “Hi! I don’t think we’ve-” When her eyes leave Papyrus and find you and Frisk standing in front of her, her sweet voice abruptly cuts off.

        The glare is blood curdling.

        “Why don’t. You three. Come in?” Her voice is harsh and clipped. You and Frisk share a look before following her inside. You had a bad feeling about this visit…

        The house is surprisingly cozy. Instead of walls of armor or giant racks filled with sharpened weapons (something you’ve been imagining since Papyrus first mentioned Undyne’s home), it reminds you of well, you grandmothers. The floor is a pastel checker pattern of blue and yellow, the ways a tad darker blue with bubblegum pink dots. There were two carpets, both the same light mauve color, one by a window, the other under the dining table. This seemed like the main room, with the kitchen along the farthest wall and a piano off to the side. There was another door in the far back and you assumed this led to her bedroom.

        “HERE, UNDYNE. MY FRIEND BROUGHT A GIFT FOR YOU ON THEIR OWN!” Papyrus quickly waves for Frisk to trot up so they can hand the bone over. Undyne give it one look before taking it and walking to the kitchen drawers.

        “Thanks. I’ll, uh, put it with the others.” She say, sitting the bone in a literal pile of bow tied bones. Her favorite thing, huh, you muse. When she comes back over she props a webbed hand onto her hip. It was a bit odd to see her in such casual clothes, you think, after watching her chase you around while clad in thick armor. It’s just jeans, a black tank top, and red boots.

        “So are we ready to start?” She asks, looking more to Papyrus. Obviously they had arrangements before you and the kid were invited and you felt a bit bad barging in. Not like you could’ve helped it, though.

        “ACTUALLY,” Papyrus begins, dragging it out. “WHOOPSY DOOPSY! I JUST REMEMBERED!” You turn towards him, brow raised as her large hand comes to set of Frisk’s head. “I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM! YOU TWO HAVE FUN!”

        “Why’re you taking Frisk, then?” You ask, crossing your arms and sending your best impression of a mother’s heated stare. You vaguely think you must look like Toriel.

        “FRISK DOES TOO!” Then, with the finesse that only Papyrus could possess, he scoops the giggling Frisk up in his bony arms and literally jumps through the window.

        You can only muster a sigh and palm to your face.

        “So.” Looking up you’re met with a glare from the one eyed woman. “Why are you here? To rub your victory in my face? To humiliate me even further? Is that it!?” Undyne looked furious, and you felt like crawling into a hole.

        Actually, scratch that, you didn’t want to crawl and fall into any more weird holes.

        “No, I wouldn’t do that.” You say, trying to find the confidence and courage you had back when you were fighting her. Something about the warrior saying they lost, when all you did was run, didn’t seem fair. You mean, you definitely won in your damn book, but not in hers.

        “Then why are you here?” Then, before you can answer, her eyes go wide and she sneers. “Wait, I get it,”

        You don’t think she gets it.

        “You think that I’m gonna be friends with you, huh? Right?”

        Okay...maybe she kind of did.

        “I mean… yes?” You say, shrugging.

        “Really?” She barks out laughter. “How delightful! I accept! Let’s all frolic in the fields of friendship!” If you didn’t understand up to this point that her voice heavily dripped in crude sarcasm, her laughter abruptly cutting off “hinted” to it. She begins moving forward, using her height to her advantage as she looms over you. “Why would I ever be friends with you!?” She jabs a finger into you chest and your brow twitches. “If you weren’t my house guest, I’d beat you up right now! You’re the enemy of everyone’s hopes and dreams!” She pushes you. “I will never be your friend. Now get out of my house!”

        “Look,” You start, taking a step forward instead of back. “Why don’t you come out with me. That way we won’t have to worry about me being a house guest.”

        “Oho!”

        Just as she starts for you, you already making a grab for the spear of hers you still had, a sudden loud, very familiar, voice interrupts.

        “DANG! WHAT A SHAME…” Turning an unamused look to your side you spot, none other, than Papyrus. He’s ducking back into the window he’d jumped out of, sighing dramatically. “I THOUGHT UNDYNE COULD BE FRIENDS WITH YOU. BUT I GUESS...I OVERESTIMATED HER.” His eyes glide to Undyne. “SHE’S JUST NOT UP TO THE CHALLENGE.” He then looks down at something and then back up at you. “AND I GUESS YOU CAN’T KEEP PROMISES?” He then scurries off and you hear the familiar giggling of Frisk following him. You purse your lips, knowing the kid had told him to say that last bit.

        “Challenge!?” You jump at Undyne’s yell. “What! Papyrus! Wait a second…!”

        She runs to the window but the two trouble makers are long gone.

        “Darn it.” Then, slowly, she turns back around to face you with eyes burning. “He thinks I can’t be friends with you!?”

        She moves back across the room, right into your personal space once more. She’s laughing again.

        “What a joke! I could make friends with a wimpy loser like you any day! I’ll show him!” She then puts her hands on your chest, prodding you with her claws- er, nails. “Listen up, human. We’re not just going to be friends, we’re going to be...besties.” She hisses the word with so much excited contempt you shiver.

        Why had you let Frisk convince you to come here, again?

        “I’ll make you like me so much… You won’t be able to think of anyone else! It’s the perfect revenge!” You realize that Undyne might not be completely clear on the term “besties” and what that entails. Then again you’re pretty sure you’re not super clear on it means either. You didn’t have “besties” growing up.

        She smiles something sickeningly sweet.

        “Why don’t you have a seat?” You sigh, taking a long glance around the room before making your way to the single stool in view.

        You move to sit down but your side flairs up when you try to.

        “What’s that?” Her sudden question has you freezing up. Her footfalls are loud and intimidating as she stomps her way over to you. In a second your shirt is pulled up and you flinch, stumbling back.

        “What’re you-”

        “Why didn’t you heal yourself!?” Undyne angrily waves at the blood seeping through your shirt and the cut on your waist that was the source of the red. Now that she was prodding at it, the pain was back in full force. You remember getting it, Undyne being the cause, but the pain of your wrist must’ve outweighed it and you had forgotten.

        “I didn’t have anything to wrap it with.” Her look is dangerous.

        “Why didn’t you eat?”

        “It doesn’t work.” You frown, eyes leaving her burning stare. “The magic in the food doesn’t work the same way as it does with monsters…” When you look back up, Undyne is the one to avoid your eyes.

        Was she… feeling guilty?

        No way.

        “Stay here, can’t have my new bestie bleeding out.” She spins around, moving into the back door you had spotted earlier.

        When she returns, Undyne helps you sit at the dining table, sliding your bag off your shoulder to put at your feet. She also asks you to hold your shirt up. There was a bundle of bandages in her webbed hands, made out of cotton or some other kind of absorbent material.

        It’s eerily silent as she reaches around you a couple of times to pass the bandage strip between hands. You are trying to keep still as she works.

        When Undyne pulls back, looking over her work, she makes a ‘come hither’ motion with her hand.

        “Your wrist.” Your eyes go wide.

        “My- It’s fine it doesn’t-”

        “Oh shut it,” She rolls her eyes hard. She grabs your arm, making sure not to touch your wrist, and brings it into view. At the sight you can’t help but grimace.

        It wasn’t broken. You were sure because you could still move it. There was definitely something wrong with it though. It had turned a sickly yellow color, splotches of black and purple in the shape of sausages branding it. Even the slightest accent of blue veins creeped in and out of the wound like some horror film zombie bite makeup. Undyne pulls it, gently, closer to her and begins working once more.

        “Undyne,” You say once she’s done wrapping your wrist. It looked nice, professional even. In fact, better than most of the bandage wrapping you had gotten in the past. You were very familiar with having to get wounds wrapped by a doctor.

        She grunts with a raised brow, so you take that as your queue to continue.

        “Back when you cornered me and frisk, before the monster kid jumped out-” Guilt flashes over her features and she scratches the back of her head.

        “Sorry about that-”

        “No- well, I mean, thanks, but about what you said, about the seven souls and the barrier, what was that? Is that.. What’s really going on?” Undyne blinks, seemingly utterly dumbstruck that you were unaware of said “barrier” and “seven human souls”. She then takes a deep breath and rubs a hand down her face.

        “Look, I can’t be specific and technical like Alphys-”

        “Alphys?”

        “The royal scientist!” You decide to just nod along and not question the title of whoever Alphys was. “Do you even know the story about how the monsters got stuffed into the Underground?”

        “I.. I think. The whole war, right? Between humans and monsters. It’s a legend where i’m from.” Undyne snorts, rolling her eyes.

        “More like history! All of that really happened. But down here, there’s a way to solve it. The King promised us he would. He’s been working on it ever since we got trapped down here by you guys!” She pokes your forehead hard, but she’s grinning her shark like grin when she does, so you can’t help but stick your tongue out at her childishly. It gets a laugh.

        “So i’m guessing the way to solve it is seven human souls?” She nods, frowning. “And he has… six.” Again she nods. She stares intently at you, searching for something. “Is breaking the barrier that way the only way out of here?” She narrows her eye, and doesn’t nod. But you don’t need the confirmation. She found whatever she was looking for on your features, and she didn’t like it.

        “What would you like to drink?” She has the forced smile once again but your mind was already burying itself into your thoughts.

        Frisk never told you about this. They… hadn’t told you a lot of things. No mention of how the underground really worked, nothing about Asgore or the barrier, or souls. They also wouldn’t talk about the time they spent during the month they were gone before they reset to find you. Something was going on with the kid, and it was freaking you out. Frisk had never lied to you before, and now they were doing it every damn time you wanted answers.

        You wanted to know- you needed to. You wanted to know everything that was bothering them so you could take it all away. You wanted to be there for the kid, like you had been since their birth. It was your job. You, the older sister, the one who shielded them from their mother’s yelling, their father’s fists, from the reality of their broken family, from the violent bullies at school, from the shitty community of their neighborhood. You would take away all their pain and put it on your shoulders to carry, so why wouldn’t they just tell you?! You could handle it! You always had! Taking care of your mother, ignoring your father, suppressing memories, going to college, working three to four jobs, paying the bills, taking care of Frisk, being there for Frisk, putting Frisk first- you could handle being pacifistic to monsters who wanted to kill you both, protecting Frisk from harm, carrying them through snow and freezing water, hearing the truth about their resets, and you could handle opening a barrier.

        Yes. That’s it. You decided that if opening the barrier with a seventh soul was the only way to get Frisk home, the only way for them and their friends to escape, the only way to get Frisk to a real family that could love them fully, then you would be that seventh soul.

        “I think tea’ll be good,” You pipe up with a smile. Undyne doesn’t move for a second, and then smirks and stands up from her chair, hurrying over to the stove to start up the boiling water.

        The silence that follows is filled with Undyne truly mulling over something in her head as she critically looks you over, and you trying to calm your trembling hands as you tried to come with the terms of dying and giving up your soul for Frisk to be truly happy.

        The whistle of the pot brings relief to both of you. You move to stand, to help, but suddenly the table before you is broken by a large spear embedding into it’s center.

        You stare silently.

        It’s completely snapped in half.

        You slowly inch your stool away.

        “Uhm…” Undyne blinks slowly, eye flickering away from the slow turn of your head. “You’re hurt so just stay put.” You silently nod, watching as she pours the liquid and then walks over with a cerulean blue mug. “Here we are.” She goes to set it on the table, realizes it’s still in splinters, and then gingerly nestles it between your palms. “Careful, it’s hot.” Undyne then walks around to stand on the other side of the ‘table’.

        Wearily you stare into the brown liquid. For some reason, it’s still bubbling and boiling.

        “It’s not that hot!” Her hands slam on what’s left of her table. “Just drink it already!” You give her a dry look and make a show of taking a slurping sip. Immediately you pull it away though, feeling your tongue and lips burning.

        Other than your face melting, you really liked it.

        “It’s pretty good, right?” Her smile grows mockingly cheesy. “Nothing but the best for my absolutely precious friend!”

        You stare at her in mock horror.

        You can’t tell which is scarier. Undyne when she she stabbing you through with a spear, or being so sweet it’s venomous.

        “You know…” She begins slowly, eye not meeting yours. “It’s kind of strange you chose that tea.” You blink, tilting you head in question. “Golden flower tea…” Oh...Haven’t you heard something about a yellow flower before? “That’s Asgore’s favorite kind.”

        “Asgore...You mean the King?” She nods.

        “Actually, now that I think about it, you kind of remind me of him.” The giant smirk appears one more. “You’re both total weenies!”

        “I’m not a weenie.” You snap before you can help it and she laughs at you. She then shrugs.

        “Sort of.”

        Her eyes scan you, watching as you blow on your tea to cool it off. They find you wrist, along with the many other bruises or cuts visible. She wouldn’t know, but there were worse wounds hidden under your clothes. Undyne takes a shaky breath in before she looks down to her hands she’s fisted in her lap.

        “Y’know, I was a pretty hot headed kid.”

        “You?” You fake a gasp. “I don’t believe it.” You match her smirk from earlier.

        “Ha ha.” She dead pans. “I was. N’ once, to prove I was the strongest, I tried to fight Asgore. Emphasis on tried!” She snorted. Yet, the woman’s face was softening up as the memory was recalled. “I couldn’t land a single blow on him! And worse, the whole time, he refused to fight back! I was so humiliated… Afterwards, he apologized and said something goofy, like, “excuse me, do you want to know how to beat me?” I said yes, and from then on, he trained me. One day, during practice, I finally knocked him down. And I...I felt... bad. But he was beaming. I had never seen someone more proud to get their butt kicked! Anyway, long story short, he kept training me… And now I’m the head of the Royal Guard! So i’m the one who gets to train dorks to fight!” Her eye found it’s way to the window and her saucy smirk dwindled to a somewhat normal smile. “Like, uh, Papyrus.”

        You wanted to make some kind of comment, but the air around her felt...personal? You were afraid if you spoke you’d snap her out of her more personal, sentimental thoughts.

        “But to be honest...Urrgh. I don’t know if I can ever let Papyrus into the Royal Guard.” her head snaps up and she jabs a finger in your direction. “Don’t tell him I said that!” You wave your free hand in a surrendering manner. “He’s just… Well, I mean, it’s not that he’s weak. He’s actually pretty freaking tough! It’s just that… He’s too innocent and nice!” You can’t help but crack a smile. “I mean, look, he was supposed to capture you and the smaller human and he ended up being friends with you instead! I could never send him into battle! He’d get ripped into little smiling shreds. That’s part of why I started teaching him how to cook, you know? So...Maybe he can do something else with his life.”

        Then the woman jolts, suddenly becoming self aware of her own voice.

        “Oh, sorry, I was talking for so long.. You’re out of tea, aren’t you? I’ll get you some more.” She’s quick to leave your sight, probably finding the tea an excuse so you can’t comment on anything she just said.

        Undyne freezes in the middle of the room. She’s staring at the kettle, eyeing it with growing contempt.

        “Wait a second...Papyrus...his cooking lesson…” Her fists clench. “He was supposed to have that right now!” She screams, turning a wild look onto you. You purse your lips. “And if he’s not here to have it…” Her hand snaps out to point a sharp, threatening claw your way. “You’ll have to have it for him!” She then literally jumps onto the counter, runs across it, kicking all of the items off. Immediately, there is a mess.

        “We’re...cooking now?”

        “That’s right! Nothing had brought Papyrus and I closer than cooking! Which means that if I give you his lesson… We’ll become closer than you can even imagine! Afraid!? We’re going to be best friends!” She begins laughing maniacally and you take that as a queue to gently set you mug down. You don’t think you’re going to need it…

        She jumps off of the encounter and it only takes three of her large strides to get to you. With only one of her muscular arms she wraps it around your chest, picks you up, and takes the three large strides back to the counter where she sets you down. She strongly pats one of her hands onto your head of hair, forcibly turning your head towards her.

        “Let’s start with the sauce!” Undyne yanks open a draw and rips out tomatos and carrots and slams them onto the counter in front of you. She turns your head towards them. “Envision these vegetables as your greatest enemy! Pound them to dust with your fists!” You give her a look.

        “Shouldn’t I wash my hands first-”

        “Pound your enemies!” She screams louder.

        Almost on instinct, as if her voice started you fist, your hand flies out and you smashes a tomato. It’s insides fly up and splatter Undyne’s face. She pauses. Then she starts laughing crazily.

        “Yeah yeah! Our hearts are uniting against these healthy ingredients!” She then slams her arms down, pulling the majority in front of herself. “Now it’s my turn!” With a single blow of her fist her half explodes everywhere. You’re covered in red and orange. You can’t help but laugh.

        “Here,” You say. “I’ll scrape it into a bowl.” Undyne quickly tosses one into your arms as she hurries to the stove to get a boiling pot and a box of spaghetti. With your hands you scoop the sauce into the bowl. You’ve given up all the sanitary rules of cooking ingrained into you from childhood at this point. You just assume that only your two will eat this food, if it’s edible.

        You realise, as the bowl is filled with “sauce”, that you can hear, faintly, the music you had when you fought Undyne.

        “Come’ere punk!” Undyne says, a big happy grin on her face as she pulls you over. “Add the noodles!” She's staring, with big excited eyes, fists up by her face like a dad too into their kids soccer game- taking the event way too seriously.

        You open the box and you fiercely slam dunk the noodles, and their box, into the pot. Most of them break. Neither of you take the box back out. The sound of the noodles on metal quickly tells you Undyne didn’t put any water.

        “Yeah!!” She screams fist pumping. “I’m into it!”

        The music is much louder as she slaps a wooden spoon into your hand, forcing your fingers to closer around it.

        “Alright! Now it’s time to stir the pasta! As a general rule of thumb, the more you stir, the better it is!”

        “Really?” You ask, as if you’ve never actually cooked anything before.

        “Yeah!”  She shouts back. So, a little too happily, you smash the spool into the pot and begin stirring the dry, broken noodles as if your life depended on it. She starts hollering and cheering. Then, she stops and raises a webbed hand up towards the ceiling. “Let me do it!”

        You jump back as one of her blue spear materialize and begin stabbing and crushing the pot. You swallow when you see it deforms the sturdy metal.

        “That’s the stuff!” She looks too proud. “Alright, now for the final step: turn up the heat!” She grabs your hand and pushes it onto the correct dial. “Let the stove-top symbolize your passion! Let your hopes and dreams turn into fire!”

        Now, being way too into this “cooking lesson” you excitedly start turning the dial, watching Undyne for any sign for you to stop. You have an inkling she's going to do anything but stop you.

        The flames begin to flicker a tiny bit out of control.

        “Hotter!”

        They start licking up the sides of the crush metal.

        “Hotter, darnit!”

        The flames consume the pot and you can no longer see it.

        “HOTTER!”

        You have to step an arm's lengths away so the red fire doesn’t light your hair or clothes.

        Just as the music, the weird, loud music that only happened whenever you got into a fight, this powerful tune being specific to Undyne, peeked, Undyne hip-bumped you out of the way to snatch the dial. Just as you watch her forcibly snap it so far to the right that the fire touches the ceiling, you realize that you probably should’ve stopped her earlier.

        White light fills your vision as her song is interrupted by a loud BOOM.

        Heat envelops you, parts burning quite painfully against your skin as you throw your hands up a little too late to protect your face.

        You’re on your butt when you open your eyes.

        The kitchen- no the entire house- is engulfed in flames. Undyne is somehow still standing after the explosion, her entire front covered in black soot. She blinks slowly before turning a look down to you.

        “Huh. Man, no wonder Papyrus sucks at cooking.” There is a pause of silence as you stare, dumbfounded up at the woman, and then you’re laughing so hard your gut immediately begins to hurt.

        Undyne crouches down to you, a smile too wide on her face as you tried to smother your giggling.

        “So what’s next? Scrapbooking? Friendship bracelets?” You just start laughing harder and she, seeing even you weren’t taking her seriously, finally loses the over the top smile.

        “Undyne-” You try.

        “Who am I kidding? I really screwed this up, didn’t I?” You enjoyment dies at her defeated voice. “I can’t force you to like me, human.” She plops herself onto her butt in front of you, crossing her arms like a kid getting put into time out. “Some people just don’t get along each other. I understand if you feel that way about me. And if we can’t be friends...That’s okay. Because….If we’re not friends… It means I can destroy you without regret!” Your eyes go wide as she lurches towards you and your soul is painfully ripped from your chest.

        You don’t remember your soul ever hurting when it left you.

        You shimmy back, still on your butt. You whip around to grab something from you backpack, but remember too late that she had taken it off of you. Now, in the fiery and smoky haze, you couldn’t spot it.

        “I’ve been defeated… My house is in shambles… I even failed to befriend you. That’s it. I don’t care if you’re my guest anymore.” She stands up, bright blue, glowing spear appearing in her hands. You can’t move from your spot on the floor and an odd feeling of fear whelms up in your throat.

        When was the last time you saved?

        “One final rematch! All out on both sides! It’s the only way I can regain my lost pride! Now come on! Hit me with all you’ve got!”

        You go to push yourself up on your feet but, forgetting yourself, you push with your bad hand and crumble down again.

        “Hey…” You don’t give her your eyes and instead slowly get up to your feet.

        You were mad.

        You can’t really explain why. You were just upset. You had actually really enjoyed messing up her kitchen. In fact, it had been fun! It had been...been… Nice. You never cooked for fun. It was always to just feed Frisk or to tie over your mother. Today had reminded you of when you would teach Frisk back home. Of course, you actually knew how to cook but still. Had Undyne just faked being excited? She didn’t seem like she’d do that but now...Now she was holding a spear aimed towards you once again, as if nothing had happened. You hated it.

        You really did want to hit her.

        You pull your fist back, glaring.

        You then swing.

        ......

        “What. That’s the best you can manage?”

        Your knuckles gently bumped against her gut and you heavily frown down at your fist.

        “I know you can hit harder than that.” She hisses. You know that too. Of course you know that. Many people had learned that. “You...Just can’t muster any intent to hurt me, huh?” Your frown deepens and your fist clenches in on itself.

        All you can hear is her sigh and the sound of the fire burning around you two.

        “You know what?” She finally says. You tense, waiting for a spear handle to come colliding into you, but the only thing that happens is the loud noise of her letting her spear clatter to the ground. You stare and then slowly look up. “I don’t actually want to hurt you either.” You take your fist back, unsure what was happening.

        “At first, I hated your stupid saccharine schtick but… The way you hit me right now, it… It reminded me of someone I used to train with.”

        The king?

        “Now I know you aren’t just some wimpy loser. You’re a wimpy loser with a big heart!” You snort, shaking your head in amusement at her giant sharky grin. It dies quickly though as the thought goes back to her own words. “Just like him… Listen, human. It seems that you and Asgore are fated to fight.”

        You stiffen. You have a horrible feeling this speech is going to correlate with Toriel’s.

        “But knowing him… He probably doesn’t want to. Talk to him. I’m sure you can persuade him to let you go home.” She shrugs. “Eventually, some mean human will fall down here… And I’ll take their soul instead. That makes sense, right?” She laughs, bumping her fist roughly into your shoulder. “Oh, and if you do hurt Asgore…” You purse your lips. “I’ll take the human souls...Cross the barrier… And beat the hell out of you! That’s what friends are for, right?”

        You’re sure that if, after all of this, you do fight Asgore and hurt him, you’re sure that you would need a slap in the face to snap you back.

        “Right.” You relent, a little too happy at her choice of words.

        “Now let’s get the hell out this flaming house!” She wraps a hand around your hand and quickly pulls you out.

        You don’t forget to scoop your bag up on the way out the door, the flames seeming to follow right at your heels.

        Once the front door shuts behind you, another explosion shakes the ground and the fire erupts from the eyes of the fish shaped home. Poor fish.

        “Well that was fun, huh?” You snort, dusting the soot off of you. You knew you were probably only smearing it everywhere, but it made you feel better. “We’ll have to hang out again another time!” She scratches the back of her head. “But..uhh.. I guess somewhere else.” She laughs. “In the meantime, I guess I’ll go hang with Papyrus. So if you need me, drop by Snowdin, ok!? Oh and, just call Papyrus if you need help. Since we’re in the same spot, I’ll be able to talk too!” She picks up your bag, which you’d drop to brush yourself off, and holds it out to you. “Well, see ya later, pun-”

        She drops your bag and slaps your shoulders crazily hard. “Wait!”

        “I’m waiting!” You yelp back, grimacing when she squeezes your shoulders harder.

        “This is sudden, but can you deliver something for me?”

        “Sure.” You let slip, trying not to give away the pain of her grip. “What is it?”

        “Papyrus suggested that I ask you. But he told me when I still hated you, so…” She trails of with a sneer. Then she shrugs, finally letting go of your shoulders. “Anyway! uh...Here! Just take it!” She pulls a envelope from her back pocket, which was slightly burned, and shoves it into your bag at her feet. “Well, what are you waiting for!? Go deliver it! It’s...uh...Addressed to Dr. Alphys.” That was the scientist that she mentioned earlier, you think. Undyne's blue skin was turning a weird shade of purple and-

        Oh. Was...No way, was Undyne blushing?

        “Okay! See you!” Just before she sprints out of arms reach you fist a hand into her tanktop and stop her in her tracks. “What?!” She splutters, whipping around. Her entire face was purple now. Kind of looked like she was suffocating. Maybe...She was? Did she need water? Was that...stereotyping?

        “Wait wait wait, before you go, here!” You snatch the glowing spear from your backpack’s pocket, pushing it into her hands. “I wanted to return it.”

        “What? Didn’t think it was good enough?” Her tone is rough but you can see the humor bouncing in her eyes.

        “I just thought my friend would want her stuff that I borrowed back.” Undyne stiffens and then deflates, evaporating the weapon in her palms with a small smile.

        You were now totally weaponess. You’re sure that Frisk would love that when you told them. It's just...Now you felt empty and defenseless. But. Undyne was your...friend. And you were told that you were supposed to return things to your friends.

        Something sparks in her eyes then and her head snaps up.

        “Oh!!” Undyne moves over to the dummy you had spotted when you first arrived. She reaches behind it and-

        “My bat!” Your face is practically glowing as you giddily race over to her. She’s grinning triumphantly, holding the bat out like a trophy.

        “That’s right, punk! I scavenged your bat after, uh, we fought.” She then hands it to you, fish fins wiggling. “Just say it’s for returning my spear.” You thank her profusely, sliding the bat into its rightful place on your backpack. It looks good in it’s spot. Like a long lost friend finally coming home. The added weight to your back is comfortable and you can’t help but sigh in relief.

        “Thanks, Undyne.”

        “No problem! I gotta get going now!!” She turns and hurries away from her home. You watch after her and, as soon as you can’t see her flying red ponytail, a small save star materializes before you. You stare at the golden glowing star for a long, quiet moment, just taking everything in.

        You glance to the house and wonder if Undyne will ever get it back. You’re sure fire only lives there now.

        You touch the save point.

        You feel like you’ve done something nice by giving the fire a place to live.

Chapter Text

        If the giant neon sign flashing “Welcome to the Hotlands” didn’t hint to the new area, the lava pits below and the heat creating sweat on the mid of your back sure did.

        The cool temperatures of Waterfall were completely gone and you felt like you and Frisk had been teleported to a completely new biome once again. From freezing, to lukewarm and damp, to blazing hot. In your minds map it was such a short distance, though it didn’t feel short to your aching legs, it amazed you that so much was in a simple cavern under Mt. Ebott.

        “Her place is just up ahead.” Frisk signs once you look down to them. You smile and nod, taking notice that their once damp clothes had dried in the heat of Hot Lands. So had yours. You hope the sudden change from soggy from cold water to soggy from sweat wouldn’t spark a cold in either of you.

        “So...Alphys huh?” You say once you and the kid come face to face with an oddly white and large building. It stood out greatly compared to the red and oranges of the land surrounding it. “Undyne said she was the...Royal Scientist?”

        “She works for Asgore...I think?” Frisk signs, then snickers. It’s raspy and quiet. Something that, when you were growing up, bothered you, but now it was as normal as the habit of signing while you spoke.

        Coming upon the lab that the Alphys character supposedly worked - lived - in looked out of place. It was giant, much bigger than you were expecting. Though… You can’t say you’re that surprised by the size. She was a royal scientist after all. However the giant white and pristine building in midst of all the dark red and burning orange seemed like the building was cut and pasted into the area.

        You ignore the armored fellows blocking off the only other path that didn’t lead to the lab. If only because Frisk signed that you two would handle them later. And though if anyone else told you those words you’d find them hauntingly foreboding, you knew that Frisk probably meant you’d have a friendly chat to get them to move in the future.

        The lab doors open automatically when you and the kid get close. The black void twists something in your gut, a warning, but Frisk walks on in and you of course immediately follow.

        The inside is just as dark, making you reach blindly forward to grab Frisks shoulder to make sure they were still close. When your eyes adjust they immediately catch a glowing screen to your left. It wasn’t blinding, but it definitely cast a soft hue of blue across the scare objects around it. You notice a bit late that the sounds of the churning lava and the odd hollow emptiness had immediately disappeared to be replaced by mechanical whirling and metal sliding against metal. It was almost as if your ears had felt cupped while being outside and they had popped as soon as you entered.

        Frisk still marches happily forward, replacing their shoulder with their small hand to continue to drag you on, as if to reassure you nothing was going to happen in the dark room.

        Now in front of the glowing screen you realize it’s a live video feed of you and Frisk. The TV was split in two, one completely focused on your head, the other on your sibling’s. You glance around, wanting to know how the feed worked, but immediately give up to instead check on your appearance.

        Tired, disheveled, and slightly dead looking. All the worry and anxiety you had felt for Frisk over the months they had been missing before they restarted to retrieve you showed, even if they “never happened”. Purple bruises hung under your eyes, as if life had beaten you instead of worry and lack of sleep. You looked like you had just woken up from a sleepless coma with the way your hair looked and how your face had paled. Apart from the naturally caused “wounds”, you had a couple of real ones that shined. A bruise on your cheek bone, a couple of cuts that fled into your hairline, and when had you fallen into the dirt? Or...was that another bruise? As you licked your fingers and rubbed at the odd mark on your forehead, Frisk tugs at your free hand to pull you away. You follow, but still push at the dirt(?) stain on head.

        The light from the screen casted on a cluttered large desk next to it. You can make out stacks of books and scattered papers, maybe a computer hidden in the middle of it, but the details are lost on you. Frisk pulls you past it and then, abruptly, stops. If it wasn’t for the way their footsteps echoed in the lab you would’ve run into them. Instead you stopped too, waiting for whatever they were waiting for.

        That, or to give you some sort of sign - not ASL - of what they were thinking.

        The dark light wouldn’t let you two communicate. You felt bad, since just by the lights being lowered a little Frisk was rendered silent. It’s why they had you get them so many nightlights in their room back home. The dark scared them not because of what was in it, but because of how it stole Frisk’s “voice”.

        You hear another automatic door slide open and though it was dark the movement immediately catches your eyes and you pull Frisk back closer to your body. Just as your free hand goes up to grab at your bat, the lights turn on and you’re blinded.

        It takes you a second to flutter your lids and clear your vision, and when it does you’re faced with...an odd sight.

        Before you stands a startled and almost terrified looking...Dinosaur? Large lizard? Whatever they were, they briefly reminded you of a character on that old show Barney and you can’t help but feel your guard slip.

        “Oh.” They breathed finally. It was more of the vocalized end of a short gasp. “My god.” The nasally voice, which was obviously female at this point, squeaked. “I didn’t expect you guys to show up so soon!”

        You didn’t know reptiles could flush until her yellow face erupted with vermilion hues that crept down into the folds of her starched white lab coat.

        “I-I haven’t showered, I’m barely dressed, it’s all messy, and-” Her anxiety driven rambling comes to a halt when her eyes flicker up to meet yours. The vermilion turns sunset red and she shakily fixes her round glasses. “H-H-Hiya!” She blurts. “I’m D-Dr. Alphys. I’m Asgore’s royal scientist!”

        Then she adverts her eyes, hands lowering to her middle as she clicked her claws together. “B-b-but, ahhhh, I’m not one of the “bad guys”!” Her claws click faster. “Actually, since you two stepped out of the ruins, I’ve, um, been “observing” your journey through my console.” You assume she’s referring to the TV with your mug plastered across it. “Your fights...Your friendships...Your sibling bonding...Everything!” She seems to go a bit dreamy. “I was originally going to stop you, but… Watching someone on a screen really makes you root for them. S-so, ahhh, now I want to help you!”

        You’re hesitant to believe her, but her nervous stutters and trembling “ums” are quickly making you defenseless. There’s no way this was an act. No way.  She was literally shimmering with sweat by being in your presence. It could’ve all been some elaborate trap but… Seeing as so far not a single a soul in the Underground could really handle lying, or being anything but genuinely nice people, you had a bubble of hope that Alphys was the same.

        “Using my knowledge,” she continued, “I can easily guide you through Hotland! I know a way right to Asgore’s castle, no problem!” She looks confident, actually meeting your eyes for the second time since she turned on the lights. Asgore’s “castle” peaks your interest. You want to ask but since the woman was on a roll, her words actually coming out pretty smoothly now compared to when she first stared, you decide to wait until she’s gotten all of her thoughts out of her.

        “Well.” Her lips purse and her eyes flicker around. “Actually, umm, there’s just a tiny issue. First.”

        The way she looks down tells you immediately that this “tiny issue” was anything but. You had a little sibling. You knew the guilty look anywhere.

        “A long time ago, I made a robot named Mettaton. Originally, I built him to be an entertainment robot. Uh, you know, like a robotic TV star or something. Anyway, recently I decided to make him more useful. You know, just some small practical adjustments.”

        Your eyes narrow at the wording.

        “Like..as uh...Anti...Anti-human combat features?”

        This time you purse your lips and stare at her. She laughs nervously.

        “Of c-course, when I saw you coming, I immediately decided… I have to remove those features!”

        “That’d be nice.” You finally say. She startles at the sound of your voice and though she had gone back to her original color, she goes sunset red all over again.

        “Right! Yes!” She then deflates and crumbles in on herself. “Unfortunately, I may have made a teensy mistake while doing so… And now...um… Now he’s an unstoppable killing machine with a thirst for human blood?”

        Your palm connects with your face and drags up to pull at your hair.

        You note this is why you look so disgruntled.

        Alphys’s nervous laughter quickly tumbles down a flight of stairs and she wraps her arms around each other.

        “But, umm, hopefully we won’t run into him!”

        “I hope so too.” You say, brain already picking up speed as you tried to think up ways of defeating a human hungry robot.

        Robots didn’t have emotions, because they were wires and circuits, so it wasn’t like you could just chat it up like Frisk had you doing for just about everyone else. You’re also pretty sure a wooden, half broken bat that had chunks missing from spears, wouldn’t do much to metal. Specially to a robot that a royal scientist had made. You weren’t big on titles, but you’re pretty sure Alphys’s meant she was the best of the best. She wasn’t going to make some robot that could be destroyed by a couple good hits of a bat. Specially if it was reprogrammed to destroy a human that always carried a bat.

        You go to ask Alphys if there’s anything else you might need to know about the robot that's out to get you and your sibling…

        ...But there’s a rumble.

        It shakes the lab.

        There’s suddenly a distant, grinding metal noise that was quickly becoming louder.

        “Did you hear something?” Alphys slowly looks around, a hopefully oblivious look scrawled on her profusely sweating features. You swing your hurt arm in front of Frisk, pulling them back from the wall to your left, where the noise seemed to be headed.

        You could only assume the worst.

        The building shakes harder and you hope that it’s only an earthquake. Yet when you see Alphys’s face crumble and she herself start away from the wall you’d backed away from, your hope dashes.

        You were never a very hope-centered person anyway.

        “OH YESS-! Welcome, beauties...” The voice is metallic, crisp, and breaks through the wall before there’s a bright light of explosion.

        You throw yourself in front of Frisk, hissing in pain as your cut up side stretches. You feel a couple pieces of wall hit and then scatter across you back, along with Frisk’s small hands curling into the front of your shirt in obvious worry.

        The power goes out with a loud noise, like it was powering down. You squeeze Frisk in reassurance before standing, brandishing your bat, and turning one eighty. You can’t see, but you can hear something lumbering close.

        A spotlight flickers on. Your mind, sluggish from the noise of the explosion, doesn’t pause to wonder where the rectangular, one wheeled box got it’s light.

        Because that’s what was “standing” in front of you. A grey box shaped robot with a grid of lights flashing on the upper half, and knobs and dials littering the bottom. It was only upright by a single wheel under it. The object had two hands that extended from it’s body with bending pipe-like extensions. One of the mitts held a microphone.

        “To today’s quiz show!!” It shouted, the panel of lights flickering with a bright boxy “M”.

        Strobes descend and a colorful light show dances across the lab. A fake audience applauds from a speaker on the robots left, upbeat “show” music playing from the one on the right. Even a giant glowing panel with the words “Game Show” written in stereotypical “70’s” font lowers from somewhere above your head.

        This was actually..kind of cool? Your mouth goes against your instincts, that were screaming flight or fight, and stretches into a smile.

        “Oh boy!” The robot hisses, a fake tune of programmed excitement playing in his voice. “I can already tell it’s gonna be a great show! Everyone give a big hand for our wonderful contestants!”

        Rainbow confetti rains down. Your eyes are stolen from the robot to watch the pieces fall onto Frisk’s head.

        “Never played before, gorgeous?” You’re not sure who he’s referring to. “No problem! It’s simple! There’s only one rule! Answer correctly…” The song picks up and sounds extra cheerful and exciting. “Or you die!” You flinch, head whipping back around to eye the metal box. You raise your bat in defense just as the robots song engulfs your ears and a painful tug alerts you your soul is being dragged into battle.

        Mettaton… Attacks?

        “Is this...a fight?” You asks breathlessly as the bot titters before you, next to a nervous Alphys. Frisk goes to your side, hand coming up to cover yours that gripped tightly at your bat.

        “Let’s start with an easy one!” The robot pulls out a sheet of paper from nowhere and clears his non-existent throat. “What’s the prize for answering correctly?”

        He snaps his fingers and the strobe lights from earlier shift to concentrate their light in front of you. Letter choices appear and you squint. There’s a timer there too, but Frisk was already tugging at your bat to point it to the fourth option. A crowd cheers in your ear and party poppers go off.

        “Right! Sounds like you get it!”

        “I really don’t!” You say, nerves on edge as you wait for something to come flying at your floating green heart. The little thing sat on the end of your bat that Frisk was helping you direct. Being in a game show right after dealing with fast flying spears was anything but a breath of fresh air.

        Wait… Your soul wasn’t looking too good. You hadn’t noticed until now, until it sat a foot away from you, but your green heart looked...Cracked? It looked as beaten up as you felt. White lines splattered across it’s pulsing form, the edges crumbling a bit as if someone had grabbed it and picked at it’s side. The red one next to it, the one you had learned a while ago was Frisk’s, was cheerfully bobbing next to your recumbent one, not a speck of harm denting it’s body.

        You’re glad.

        “Here’s your terrific prize!” The answer choices fizzle out to be replaced by new ones. “What’s the king’s full name?” Your eyes quickly snap over all the option and you feel a small puff of laughter almost escape.

        There was “Lord Fluffybuns”, “Fuzzy Pushover”, “Asgore Dreemurr”, and “Dr. Friendship”. You don’t needs Frisk’s direction to swivel the bat down to option “C”. You kind of hoped to find out the king’s name was truly “lord fluffybuns”. You file the name away for later when you face the king.

        The robot congratulates you again and you breathe in, finally settling down. This… wasn’t too hard. You could do this.

        “Enough about you. Let’s talk about me! What are robots made of?”

        Frisk immediately moves you towards option B, “Metal and Magic”. It’s the only one that mentioned “metal”, so it made the most sense, you reason.

        “Too easy for you, huh??” Mettaton coos before immediately moving on. He takes a large breath - you’re positive for show since he was a robot - and then…

        “Two trains, train A and train B, simultaneously departs station A and station B. Station A and station B are 252.5 miles apart from each other. Train B is moving at 124.7mph towards station B, and train B is moving at 253.5mph towards station A. If both trains departed at 10:00am and it is now 10:00, how much longer until both trains pass each other?”

        Of course.

        Of course the murderous robot was going to lead with easy questions and then drop this problem with only thirty seconds to solve it. You had already forgotten any and all information that was given in the verbal recount and now you just looked to Frisk, who was frozen with confusion.

        Nervously you glance to Alphys, the scientist and robot’s creator.

        Flitting her eyes to Mettaton she slowly moves her hands. She creates the letter “D” with her fingers. You’re surprised by how she does it, but quickly point your heart towards the option. You mentally note to teach her how to fingerspell in ASL some point in the future as a sign of gratitude. Hopefully, since she was a scientist and all, she’d enjoy the new knowledge.

        This time when Mettaton congratulates you, you hear honest disbelief and annoyance sliding under his robotic tone. It unnerves you how human that sound is.

        “Don’t “count” on your victory… How many flies are in this jar?”

        You try not to enjoy the pun too much.

        You enjoy it a lot.

        Alphys bends her fingers to awkwardly make an “A”.

        “You’re so lucky today!” The way he emphasizes the word “lucky” makes you think he doesn’t think it’s only your good-karma coming back to help you. “Let’s play a memory game. What monster is this?”

        The lights shift to show a fourth of a face that reminds you of a frog. You snort, wondering why the question was suddenly jumping back to be easy. Just when you move your bat to point your fragile soul to letter “A”, “Froggit”, do you notice that Alphys, for some reason, was making the letter “D”.

        “Wrong!”

        You scream when the electricity hits you.

        It only lasts for a second or two, but in those brief moments you felt the sharp metallic heat run through every single vein in your entire body.

        Your mind goes blank and your mouth feels numb when the pain stops. It doesn’t really stop, just doesn’t feel like your blood’s boiling anymore.

        You taste bile rising in the back of your throat.

        Frisk makes a raspy noise, clawing at your shirt so that you’ll look at them so that they can sign. When you do, their face shows a mixture of fear and worry and you notice your soul pulse and then break a bit more out of the corner of your eye.

        “Are you okay?” They quickly ask after forcing their grip away from you so they could sign. They didn’t appear to want to let go.

        “Yeah.” You dumbly say, not able to form full thoughts just yet.

        “Crying’s against the rules!” Mettaton speaks up, holding his paper higher to queue that he was moving on.

        You’re just glad it wasn’t electrocution. You’re also glad that you were struck, rather than both you and Frisk. You worry that the next one you get wrong will result in Frisk getting zapped, though.

        “Would you smooch a ghost?” The robot asked.

        All answer said “Heck yeah”.

        The timer was counting up.

        Alphys just narrowed her eyes at Mettaton for a beat before looking to you and mouthing “are you okay”. Which you replied with a slow nod and exasperated smile, before pointing to a random letter.

        The rest of the game continues for a handful of questions. Every time, no matter what your gut was telling you, you checked with Alphys before choosing. You had to be extra careful, not knowing if your sibling would be targeted.

        When a question pops up about some simulator game called “Mew Mew Kissy Cutie”, Alphys bursts with excitement and vocally starts explaining her answer. Her excited ramble quietly ceases when she realizes her mistake.

        “Alphys, Alphys, Alphys… You aren’t helping our contestant, are you?” The voice is condescending and the woman tries to quickly shake her head, smiling guilty. “Ooooooh! You should have told me!” The robotic tune is coated with dripping venom. “I’ll ask a question… You’ll be sure to know the answer to!” The robot then whirls around to you. You’re sure if he had a face his smile would’ve been overly sugary and dangerous. “Who, contestant, does Dr. Alphys have a crush on?”

        Oh.

        Low blow.

        There were four options set in front of you. The timer doesn’t even drop from the maximum thirty before Frisk forcefully, and mildly violently, smashes your bat, which was still in your hand, towards option “A”, “Undyne”.

        “See, Alphys?” The scientist blushes so hard you can no longer see a spot of yellow on her. Her hands go up to try and hide herself. “I told you it was obvious. Even the humans figured it out.”

        “Really?” You can’t help but ask. If Undyne had never mentioned Alphys in the first place, you wouldn’t have ever thought the two had met.

        “Yes.” Sighed Mettaton. “She scrawls her name in the margins of her notes. She names programming variables after her. She even writes stories of them together… Sharing a domestic life.” Then the bot laughs. “Probability of crush: 101 percent. Margin of error: One percent.” The robot teases through his snickering.

        Actually teases.

        You’re starting to wonder if there's a man hidden in the metal box.

        ...Or the quiz show was actually right about robots in the Underground being built out of magic and metal. Maybe he was… sentient.

        That did little to ease your nerves, but it did help to quench your curious mind. Now you needed about a hundred other questions answered and your head would finally be clear.

        “Well, well, well. With Dr. Alphys helping you… The show has no dramatic tension! We can’t go on like this! But. But! This was just the pilot episode! Next up, more drama! More romance! More bloodshed! Until next time, Darlings!”

        The robots emits a loud buzzing noise as it sinks to the floor, pulling in the wheels and it’s two arms. The noise gets louder until it squeaks and turns into the sound of an airplane taking off. Mettaton lifts up, jet firing off from under him, and literally flies into the ceiling. You jump back, pulling Frisk with you out of the way of the debris that comes falling down.

        There’s a moment of awkward silence.

        “Well that was certainly something.” Alphys says. You give her a look, but can’t fault her for the description. Mettaton was certainly...something. Frisk scurries away from your arms, then, deciding to go off towards the robot shaped hole in the lab. You, instead, head over to Alphys, stepping over chunks of ceiling as you go.

        “Dr. Alphys,” You begin slowly, but she flinches and quickly waves her hands around.

        “J-J-Just Alphys!” She all but squeaks. You slowly nod.

        “Right. Then, Alphys, about that last question-”

        “He wasn’t s-supposed to ask that one.” She interrupts again with a hurried answer.

        “Sorry.” You say, not sure how else to respond. “That he asked that. It’s not that obvious, you know.”

        “....It’s not?” She asks quietly, but hopefully. You smile and shake your head.

        “It’s not.” Then, a thought hits you. “Do you think I could get your phone number?... Alphys? Hey, Alphys?”

        The woman stopped breathing; for a moment you think she’s actually passed out standing up. Frisk comes padding back over to wave their hand comically in front of the scientists face.

        “My….Phone number….” She finally says, so quiet that you lean in a bit to see if you can catch anything else.

        “Yeah!” Grinning, you beam down at her. “Then, you know, if we need help or run into Mettaton again, we can call you!” It made sense, after all. She was a scientist and the creator of the metal and magic Mettaton. She was a genius in your book and you’d feel better if she was only a call away.

        Gingerly, you slide the backpack off your shoulders. The wound on your side hisses when you displace the weight on your shoulder but you suck in a breath in hopes to not make a noise. Frisk is quick to dive their little hands into the bag, fishing around for the old phone Toriel had given you both.

        When it’s pulled out, Alphys’s face drops.

        “Wh… Where’d you get that phone?!” It’s the loudest thing Alphys had said to you yet. “It’s ancient! It doesn’t even have texting.”

        You glance down at the grey box. You had noticed, when Toriel had first handed it to you and Frisk in the ruins, that it was old. You didn’t really have a phone back home, seeing as how you could barely pay the bills for the house, but you had seen commercials and other other people around your college campus with far superior versions. But, like back then, you didn’t really see a need.

        “W-wait a second, please!” She swipes the old block of phone from Frisk’s hands and scurries off to her desk. Less than a minute later she's handing you another block, but it’s lit up with new lights and has a sleek touch screen. “It can do texting, items, it’s got a key chain… I even signed you up for the underground’s no.1 social network!” She says that last bit more to you. “Now,” She glance between you and your siblings. “We’re officially friends!” She giggles excitedly.

        The happy laugh quickly dies though and her expression becomes tight. She glances nervous between you and Frisk and then bites her bottom lip.

        “Frisk?” Alphys suddenly says, twiddling her small...fingers. “I-I think an annoying dog was let l-loose in my lab-” The small child perks up, looking a bit too excited for your taste. “C-could you track it down for me?” The child jerks their head in a nod and then scrambles to run towards one of the escalator type stairs. You watch the child and then send Alphys a confused look.

        “Is there something you want to talk about doc- A-Alphys?” You stumble through your words nervously. Alphys gives a small, strained smile of something close to reassurance.

        “Y-You know about your...Your soul, right?” You blink, glancing down to your chest as if you’d be able to see the green blurb floating.

        “Uh, kinda?” You reply honestly. “I know it comes out when I’m in a...fight. It’s also a different color than Frisk’s.” You palm the back of your neck, going a little red at how little you actually knew. Usually you’re pretty on top of getting information about things you didn’t understand. Since coming to the underground, though, you’d grown used to just accepting the oddities that came, sometimes literally, jumping out at you. Now standing in front of a scientist (doctor?) you felt a little silly.

        “Y-yes.” Alphys says, looking more worried than before. She starts sweating as she hurries to her desk to push her oversized rolling chair back to you. She pulls at your arm until you sit down on the cushion seat. “I-it also shows how much a monster- or human i-in your case, is hurt.” She pulls out a notepad from her lab coat and begins scribbling something down.

        “How hurt?” You echo, your hand snapping up to twist in your shirt in from of your heart. “What do you mean?”

        “Ha-have you eaten a-any of the food here?”

        “What? Yeah I-”

        “B-but nothing was healed, right?”

        “Hold on-”

        “Of course it wouldn’t.” She happily scribbles more and you frown. Whatever she was saying, or now muttering under her breath, made no sense to you. However, having the scientist walk around you, eyeing your chest as if she could see your soul, made you nervous. Something was wrong. Something with you was wrong.

        You wish that when thinking that you were a bit more surprised.

        Your soul lurches out of you chest and you flinch at the pain. You don’t remember your soul hurting when a fight started, but the feeling was weird, crawling around your chest and then even deeper, and left you shaking.

        Looking around for whoever was trying to fight you, you only see a shifty eyed Alphys.

        “S-sorry!” She blurts. “It was the only way to see…” She trails off when he eyes flicker to your heart. You’re about to say it’s fine but your eyes also see your heart-soul and your heart, your real one (this was getting confusing), skips a violent beat.

        Your little soul was practically being held together by a thread. The poor thing hung lower than your chest height and was continuously trembling. The once whole “heart” shaped soul was now crumbling. Green dust floated around it like a planet rings, some chunks sprinkled in. It pulsed slowly, the green lights like a slow, dying, heartbeat.

        You definitely don’t remember it looking like this.

        “This is…” Alphys says slowly, sounding calm, for once. “Horrible!” She screams, throwing her hands up. You watch as she beings panicking, her pacing speeding up to the point it almost looks like she’s running. “N-Not good...N-Not good!”

        Slipping out of the rolling chair, you reach for your soul. It immediately swerves, avoiding your palm. You frown at it.

        “Y-You shou-shouldn’t be standing!” Alphys says, scooping up your outstretched hand to goad you back to your seat. “How are you st-standing?” She mutters under her breath, eyes racking over you as she nudges you back into the chair.

        “Alphys-” You gently press your hands into the small woman’s shoulder, stilling her fidgeting form. “Alphys. Tell me what’s wrong.”

        Alphys takes a deep breath.

        “You’re dying.”

        ...Oh.

        “W-w-well not really. N-Not like you’re cur-currently progressing towards de-death.” She stumbled over her words. She pushes at her glass as her cheeks turn red. “So-Souls show a rep-representa-tation of da-damage our bo-bodies have taken. Wou-wounds from Ma-Magic can o-only be healed by M-Magic. Tha-That's why our food i-is la-laced with it.”

        Okay that make sense. However, you’re pretty sure you definitely ate while in the underground, and had definitely been hurt by magic, so why weren’t you being healed?

        Before you can get the sentence out, Alphys scrambles towards her desk and starts violently throwing around pages of paper.

        “I-I have a hy-hypothesis to why you aren’t be-being healed… I’ve never had an ac-actual human to test my the-theory on so… But you al-already proven over half of it correct!” She beams at you as she hurries back over with a stack of pages amassed with scrawled handwriting in black and blue ink.

        “Human’s are primarily-built differently than m-m-monsters when it comes to ho-holding magic.” She thumbs through the stack and then pulls out a piece that show a diagram of a monster and a human. Arrows are pointing to different places, specifically describing the use of color. There was only one color used, it was blue, showing monsters completely filled with it, while the human was empty, but had it on the outside of them, like a second skin.

        “M-Monsters are made u-up of Magic.” She points to the first diagram. “That’s wh-why when we dig-digest magic, it heals us fr-from the inside o-out.” Then she moves her claw to the human. “Si-Since humans don’t naturally ha-have magic i-inside, f-food doesn’t help. Th-they need to be im-impacted from the ou-outside.”

        “That makes sense.” You say, then a second later you frown. “I don't like the word “impacted”, though. Like… How? In what way?” Alphys gives you a look before neatly (by neatly you must mean haphazardly) setting her stack of papers on the ground.

        Your soul, like it did towards you, moves sluggishly away from Alpyhs's reaching hands. However, its reaction pulls at something from Alphys and you're surprised to see a familiar glow of yellow from her chest. The yellow is warm, and inviting, and you can physically feel your body relax at the feeling of it. The feeling also washes over you soul. The green glow turns olive and you watch, and feel, as the floating pieces around it are pulled back together. Slowly your soul is whole. Even the white cracks seal themselves.

        You're astonished to also feel whole.

        What you had thought to be emotional turmoil over the past day (or two (or more you still weren't sure on how long you'd been underground)) weighing physically on you, had actually been the pain your soul had been in. You feel revived. You feel more than okay. The burn in your side and the pain in your wrist have vanished, only leaving the ghost of a feeling. In wonder you push a hand under your shirt, under your bandages, and feel the skin underneath.

        Gone. Your wounds inflicted by magic spears and fireballs have disappeared. The sudden relief moves you.

        Alphys returns your soul to you. Or rather your soul realizes she never meant any harm and wasn't trying to fight it so it returns to wherever it metaphorically lived in your chest.

        “Thank you.” You finally manage to say, amazement and appreciation still engulfing you. You try to convey your happiness to Alphys by smiling but it doesn’t capture it all and she turns away in embarrassment before you’re sure she can fully understand.

        “N-No problem!” She squeaks. Frisk grabs your attention, physically, making a noise when they notice you’re no longer covered in wounds and bruises. You turn fully towards them, sliding out of your seat so that they can get the full view. They hum in appreciation, reaching their small hands up and you pick them up without any hesitation. The development makes them extremely happy.

        It’s then that Alphys begins to awkwardly glance between you and Frisk. Whatever nerve she’d gathered from helping you began shattering as Frisk lovingly hugged your head. She must’ve felt like she was encroaching on a moment between you and the kid. When you go to reassure her your gratitude, she starts back peddling.

        “I-I have to go to the bathroom!” You frown as she runs backwards and behind a sliding door to the right of the large hole in her wall. You watch her yellow feet under the door tap before you glance to Frisk.

        “Let’s go.” They sign before returning their hands to your shoulders. You bounce them, smiling, and then take one last look around the lab before heading towards the opposite end.

        The door’s metal gears chug as they roll the door open, allowing you two back out into the heat. It hits you like a wall and you frown at the sweat that immediately starts on your temple. The air also smells burnt, something you’d forgotten about in the filtered air in Alphys’s laboratory.

        Frisk pulls from your arms and you set them down, glad because it already felt cooler not having them pressed against your face.

        “I’m glad you’re okay.” They sign, their happy smiling wavering. You realize all at once they they definitely, most definitely, had noticed how hurt you were. They had been worried and, most likely, scared for you. You quickly kneel and pull them tightly into your arms.

        “I’m glad I’m okay, too.”

        And there it was, the reason why you had still been walking even though you were still wounded. You knew the answer, but had opted out of telling Alphys. It wasn’t very scientific and you weren’t sure if she’d believe you or not. That reason you hadn’t buckled under the wounds was because of Frisk.

        You were determined to always stay with Frisk and protect them, no matter what. Even after being so severely hurt, you wouldn’t let that take you from the kid.

Chapter Text

        With the help of Alphys, and Frisk’s genuine knack for puzzle solving, the two of you quite easily make it through the many reactivated puzzles.

        You weren’t too big on the steam vents that had enough power to not only blow your much smaller and lighter sibling, but also your much larger and older self along with them. Whatever heat the “Core” was releasing, it was something you didn't want to ride or breathe in.

        Running into Mettaton periodically was also something you weren’t keen about. His weird stage-like dramatic personality was growing on you, as you were a bit excited to see what show he was going to parody next. The only problem was all the trying to kill you and your sibling. There was something about his programmed personality that seemed all too...real. Alive. He couldn’t just be a robot, right? Something about watching him try so dramatically to kill your sibling, along with the extreme fascination Frisk had for him, you were sure there was more than met the eye.

        When you mentioned your idea to Frisk, they gave you a giant smile before running ahead, refusing to answer you. Though, you guess their reaction was enough to tell you that Mettaton was another one of Frisk’s many monster friends.

        Mentioning monster friends, you two wound up stumbling upon Sans once more. You noticed, walking up to his stall, that it had snow covering the roof. As Frisk talked to him you wound up getting distracted, playing with the snow above your head. By the time you turned to your sibling, you noticed Sans had started stacking hot dogs on the kids head.

        When you asked him why he thought it’d be a good idea, he had shrugged and just gestured to the look Frisk was giving him. The kid looked way too determined for their own good.

        Other than the monster or two coming to say hi, and Mettaton trying to kill you two, you did eventually run into the two armored suits you had noticed outside of Alphys’s lab. Like you had predicted they hadn’t been any actual issue. In fact, the kid had somehow convinced one of them to confess their feeling for the other.

        You still didn’t understand how everyone understood Frisk’s sign language. It did make you happy, though. This was probably the most people Frisk had ever been able to talk to in all of their life. Few people in your town above ground knew sign language. There was you, a teacher specially hired for Frisk at their school, and an old next door neighbor who had a deaf grandchild who didn’t speak. Even your mom hadn’t gone through the “trouble” of learning ASL. Frisk was isolated. They were ostracized for their lack of normal communication, being uncomfortable being labeled a girl or a boy, and their living situation. Kids mocked Frisk for only having a mom, who was known by the PTA to very rarely be sober, and a sister who was infamous for her childhood. Frisk was bullied. Even without them telling you, you knew. You couldn't do much, as marching into Frisk's elementary school to fight kids would probably be frowned upon. But here, in an underground massive cave system filled to the brim with magically sealed away monsters, Frisk had found a place that understood them. Both them and what they were signing.

        The more you explored, even through traps set by a human killing robot, the more you came to realize why saving every single monster in the underground was so important to Frisk. Why they became so attached to Toriel so quickly. Why they wanted to visit two walking skeletons at every and all points during your adventure. Though it was such a short time Frisk had known everyone, they were already a hundred, a thousand, more times caring and accepting than any single person back home. Frisk had never had this.

        Honestly, you hadn't either.

        It's an elevator ride that startles you out of your thoughts. You had noticed Frisk was pretty excited about the floor your two just stopped at. Which, for you, meant pulling out your bat to get ready for another large fight.

        Any time Frisk was excited, it usually came to you having to fight. Or… not fight? A peaceful fight. Either way, you put up your guard as Frisk left the safe confinement of the elevator to step onto a… Rug?

        The floor was much darker than the others you had ventured through in Hotland, no light from the lava reaching you. It was also cooler, as for once you didn't feel like you were being cooked alive. You follow Frisk, searching for a sign to tell you who you were about to meet.

        As you walk it gets darker, and darker.

        And yet darker.

        Frisk starts slowing down, their face scrunching up in confusion.

        Something’s wrong.

        They move to your side, curling their small hands into your shirt, pulling themselves closer to you. You feel one of their hands let go, to quickly tell you something.

        “This isn't right.” They say. It's so dark now you can't see even the bat you held in your hands. “I don't remember this.

        “This doesn't even feel right.” You mutter, trying to keep quiet-

        Wait, what? You look to Frisk and frown when you can't really make out more than their head shape. You swore you had just had Frisk sign to you. You knew what they said or… had you imagined it? They definitely had signed to you just now…

        A light blinds you and you flinch at the brightness. Frisk had their phone out that you had gotten from Alphys clutched in their hands, shining it to light your pathway. For once during the trip through Hotland you were happy Frisk had the thing. They'd had their face buried in it since the beginning, signing to you all of Alphys's and Papyrus's status updates and whatever texts they had with Sans.

        “Are you sure you're not forgetting this place?” You ask softly, eyes following the light Frisk started to shine around them. Instead of a walkway suspended, like all the rest, this one had walls. Walls that were very close and confining. They were a colorless grey and at some point while you two were walking the carpet had turned into a pitch black floor that made your footsteps sound like footfalls.

        Frisk shifts the light to try and sign to you, but immediately gives up and hands the phone over.

        “We should have found Muffet by now.” They say once you've turned the phone onto them. In the fluorescent light they look terrified. You hope part of it is just because of the weird lighting casting odd shadows and not because Frisk was actually that scared. Just to be safe, you pull them close to you, letting them hug your hips as you held the light in front of you and your bat at the ready.

        Ever since you started this adventure with Frisk, they had known every outcome. They knew what to expect, how to solve traps and puzzles, and what to say to people to get the best results. At first it was eery, because it proved how many times the kid had been through this underground, how many times they reset or… Or died.

        Just thinking about it made you sick.

        To have something happen that they hadn't stumbled across was a very, very slim chance.

        Or maybe by appearing you've changed something. Every possible route Frisk took to escape the underground had never involved you until now.

        The air grows cold enough that when you breathe in it burns. The darkness around the light has grown unnatural and even the phone screen had stopped cutting through it like it had just seconds ago. You two could only see maybe an inch in front of the phone.

        Something moves. Or maybe it's a breath, or a breeze from the cold. Either way you jerk to your right, scanning for whatever it could've been. Frisk whimpers, but with your hands full you can't hug them to your side. Something has caught in your throat too and any verbal reassurance is lost.

        A noise this time. Like static. It groans from in front of you, coming from something you couldn't hope, or really want, to see in the darkness.

        Your soul moves in your chest. You can feel it. It was being tugged, coerced to come out. It stayed in the confinement of your body but bumped around, jostling your ribs and your throat in an odd tingling not-quite-physical feeling.

        Frisk suddenly pulls at your shirt, making you pause. You freeze up, waiting to see if you could figure out what made them stop.

        The static is louder. Had been growing louder as you walked. It was only when you stopped did you realize it wasn't just white noise, but music. An odd jumbled piece of song that, for some reason, reminded you of the music you had heard when you fought Undyne. They weren't similar in any way, shape, or form, but… Something about it told you that it wasn't from any radio or phone.

        Then there's light.

        Light from the lava far below starts filtering into your vision, the odd darkness ebbs away from you and Frisk and you walk into an open walled walkway. The familiar sight of Hotland structure doesn't do anything to make you feel better.

        Looking over your shoulder, searching for the reason for the unnerving event, you’re met by a long open-walled landing. There’s no grey walls. No black fog. No music.

        Nothing.

        You look to Frisk and any doubt you had about experiencing… Whatever that was was washed away by the panic and unsettling, blatant fear on the kids face. They stared at the ground, hand trembling where it still loosely clung to the edge of your shirt.

        You pulled them closer, sheathing your bat so you can scoop the child up into your arms. You hold them tightly, trying to imbue them with your own bravado, hoping they’ll take it as real courage.

 

        Muffet was cute. Extremely cute, young, and a savvy entrepreneur. There was also something about all of her spider pets- er, friends? Business partners? That you found kind of endearing.

        Well you did until Frisk pointed out a few had stuck to you out of adoration.

        You believe the power and restraint it took to not immediately flail is the strongest you'll ever be ever again.

        You're also glad that Frisk had bought Muffet's spider branded food back in the Ruins. You had questioned why Frisk was so intent on throwing money at a spider web and why they were so keen on eating a donut spiders had given them.

        The bigger issue at hand was that someone had spread lies about you and Frisk. Or really payed Muffet to get your soul. Her description that she saw them “change in the shadows” unnerved you, especially after the incident right before you met her. Though, you had an inkling that the person who wanted your soul and had paid Muffet was most likely Mettaton. You weren't sure how her description matched up just yet, but you had a gut feeling that those earlier shadows had nothing to do with Muffet. Especially since Frisk didn't remember them.

        Muffet ended up giving you both her business website and her more personal information. Which, after a minute, you realized was just her updating her status to tell everyone about her business.

        “And this is why I don't kill spiders.” They signed as you finally entered a place with walls. You stop to look at a poster hanging up, recognizing a certain grey robot.

        “No, you're just too nice to literally everything. You wouldn't even hurt a fly.” You reply, laughing. Frisk grows quiet at your side. “Look at this.” You say, tapping a finger on Mettaton wearing a dress. “Star crossed lovers? I kinda wanna see who Mettaton would let perform with him. Maybe he's doing both roles himself.” You grin. You could easily imagine the grey box switching between leading roles because he didn't think anyone else would do it right. Plus, it'd definitely be entertaining. A true show.

        “Probably someone pretty, like Mettaton.” You raise a brow. You hadn't really considered the literal box of hardware “pretty”, but if you thought about it, you could. Polished metal and flashing light, what's not to love? You laugh and pat Frisk's head of hair.

        “Probably.”

        The wall dips back to form an elaborately painted backdrop of a night sky over a dark town. It's a stage prop, obviously, but it was extremely beautiful. You stared at it as you walked, looking up to find stars hung by cords, casting a cool glow.

        It doesn't click until you see the column of vine covered stone at the end of the room do you realize you're on set. Specifically a star-crossed-lover set for none of than-

        “Oh, that human… Could it be? My one true love?”

        Mettaton.

        The robot peeked over the edge and then quickly made his way down the stairs of the tower. As he went, you noticed the dress he wore was absolutely stunning. Layers of silk with a final dusting of gems on the baby blue exterior, making it shine under the light of the hung star lights. He makes his way over to you and you nervously shift your weight between your feet. You knew because he was here, that a camera was somewhere, filming.

        You look to Frisk hoping they'll take one for the team, but you notice they're not at your side. In fact, there nowhere to be seen. You quickly look around, but find them off to the side, laughing their little ass off. You give them a look, but you're interrupted by Mettaton picking up your hands with his white gloved ones.

        This couldn't get worse.

        But then he starts singing.

        And then he starts dancing.

        Oh, but not alone, of course not. He starts totting you around in a sorry excuse of a waltz, pushing you and pulling you along with him. If he had feet and not a wheel, you would've definitely stepped on them multiple times. You feel awkward and uncomfortable and can't even look him in the eyes to convey it because he doesn't have any.

        He dips you and you feel like crawling into a hole. Partly because of how embarrassed you were, but also because by the end of the song he started going a little weird with the lyrics. A dungeon? Dying a lot?

        “So sad.” He says, his song over as he rights you and holds your shoulders at arm's length. “So sad that you are going to the dungeon.” He then rolls away from you. “Well, tootles!”

        There's a screech and suddenly there's not a floor under you anymore.

        Luckily it's not a far drop, so not too much damage, but the hip you landed on screams at you as you pull yourself to your feet.

        Mettaton flies down through the hole you fell through, and it shuts above him. You glare, immediately on edge without your sibling in eyesight.

        “Oh no! Whatever shall I do? My love has been cast away into the dungeon...” The mock in his voice grates a bit at your nerves, but watching his dress poof up around him because of his jet soothes you. “A dungeon with a puzzle so dastardly, my paramour will surely perish.”

        Ahead of you is a one way conveyor belt to a grid of flashing colors. It looked… Oddly familiar to that puzzle Papyrus had used on you and Frisk back in Snowdin.

        “O, Heavens have mercy! The horrible colored tile maze… Each colored tile has its own sadistic function.” You purse your lips, wondering if you were going to listen this time or ignore it like you had last time.

You start for the conveyor belt.

        “Oh, you remembered this puzzle from almost a hundred rooms ago?” He asks, amused as you freeze up. “Then I won't bother and waste your time.” He laughs and you pull out your bat. “You have so little time. See, if you don't finish this puzzle in less than thirty seconds-” You make a noise at the short time limit. You jumped when you hear gas and then fire being lit, turning you spot a row of flames behind you. “-you'll be incinerated by these jets of fire!” he starts laughing maniacally and you have a sinking feeling of dread.

        His laughter dies as Mettaton realizes he's still supposed to be playing a roll of a heart broken lover.

        “My poor love!” He says, sniffling. “I'm so filled with grief, I can't stop laughing! Good luck, Darling!”

        You sprint over the conveyor belt, ignoring the digital timer that dropped from the ceiling. It was counting down for the fans of his show at home to see, not you.

        You knew pink were fine, and that red seemed to be impassible. The blue also was literally a mini pool of water. There was a clash of fruit smells, along with the smell of live burning electricity from the yellow blocks. By the time you put together the puzzle was most definitely unsolvable, the timer goes off. It's only then you realize he might've been singing while you scrambled towards the hypothetical exit.

        The tiles go grey and you hesitantly move to the middle, facing Mettaton's hovering form.

        “Oh, I'm so sorry! It looks like you're out of time.” The fire roars from the jets, a row on either side of you chugs closer and you audibly swallow.

        You could feel the intense heat lick at your arms.

        “Here comes the flames, Darling!”

        You whip back around, watching as they grow closer to you. Your arms start burning but you still try to push your bat against the metal that held the jets. Almost immediately you give that up, as the fire burns your forearm and your wooden bat starts smoking.

        Being stabbed through with a spear was bad enough, but being burned alive? Even knowing you could reset you never wanted to feel that.

        You curl into yourself and shut your eyes tight, waiting to feel the burning feeling to increase.

        ...

        …?

        You open your eyes back up and look at Mettaton. You then look to your right and left and see the jets of fire have paused. If you moved even a centimeter you worried either your clothes or your hair would catch on fire.

Mettaton coughs awkwardly.

        A phone rings and you flinch. You had forgotten you had taken it from Frisk earlier. As gently and carefully as you can, you maneuver the phone out of the side pocket and hit speaker.

        “Watch out! I'll save you!” It was Alphys. “I'm hacking into the firewall right now!” She'd been avoiding calling you and Frisk after she realized how easily Frisk figured everything out. You'd felt a little bad and reminded Frisk to text her updates and to update your status so she wasn't left out. Hearing her sparked a dash of hopeful relief.

        The jets flicker and then die.

        You almost cry at the prospect of not dying. You uncurl yourself, examining your red arms. You had a couple of burns (one which looked and most definitely felt severe) and your bat had burnt. It hadn't caught on fire or anything, but it definitely had a charred scar at the end of it.

        “Oh no! How could this happen?” Mettaton dramatically asks the audience. “Foiled again by the brilliant doctor Alphys!” You raise a brow at that comment.

        “That's right!” She said through your phone that you clutched in your shaking hand. “Come on Mettaton, give up already. You'll never be able to defeat us… Not as long as we work together!” Something was wrong. “Your puzzle’s over… Now go home and leave us alone!” Why wasn't Alphys stuttering? Why did this sound so much like… a script? Your stomach did a flip and you pull your hurt arms closer to you, feeling uneasy.

        “Puzzle? Over? Alphys, darling, what are you talking about?  Did you forget what the green tiles do? They make a sound, then you have to fight a monster.” He pauses dramatically. “Well, darling, that monster is me!”

        As the bot comes rushing towards you, your recently-healed soul appears in front of you, as if it was trying to shield you from his attack.

        You wield your semi-burnt bat and his robotic music fills your ears.

        Your phone rings again and you frown at it, not knowing when you or Alphys had hung up. Being a little preoccupied with trying to figure out if denting a robot would upset Frisk or not, you ignored the ringing.

        “That's your phone,” Mettaton says, as if you couldn't see it flashing in your palm. “You should get that.” It was in the hand of the arm that you were currently dubbing as out-of-commission because of the searing burn on it. You glance between his unmoving form, patiently waiting for you to answer, and the screen that flashed the name Alphys.

        Betrayal gnaws at the back of your mind as you answer.

        “H-hey, this seems bad, b-but don't worry! There's one last thing I installed on your phone. Y-you see that yellow button?” You nod. Either she saw it on TV or she was still watching you with her hidden cameras. She continues. “Press it!”

        As soon as your thumb hits the button, you feel your soul pulse. It's resonating with Mettaton, you can almost see something tangible consume your green soul. Ever so slowly it turns in the air until its upside down.

        And then it's yellow.

        You feel a sense of Justice fill you.

        A justice to not only please the audience you know is watching you, but to put Mettaton and Alphys in their place, knowing that they were working together.

        You raise your hand, somehow already knowing what to do, and aim towards Mettaton. Your soul follows your hand precisely, your fingers acting like cross hares. Interrupting Alphys's explanation on how to use your changed soul, you fire at Mettaton. Somewhere in the back of your mind, in the same place that had explained exactly how to use the yellowed soul, you knew you hadn't actually done any damage.

        “Oh! Ack! How can this be? You're stronger than I thought, excetera.”

        You blinked and your soul was back in your body, the music and Mettaton gone, and your phone was ringing.

        Of course Alphys is the one calling you.

        “L-Looks like you beat him! You d-did a really great job out there.” You stare at the phone in your hand.

        Did she think she was good at lying? That Mettaton was, with his half-assed acting just then? Or did she just think you were that gullible or stupid because of how kind you were? The want to call her out, or to hang up, was incredibly strong.

        “All thanks to you.” You say, instead, lifting your arm to assess your burn fully now that you weren't in harm's way.

        “What?” She sounds surprised. “Oh, no, I mean… Y-You were the one doing everything cool! I just wrote some silly programs for your phone.”

        You pull a bandage from your bag. You've used it several times, the last for the magical burns from Toriel. You’re glad you kept it and that the burns from Tori had been blisters that hadn't popped so the bandage was pretty clean and dry. You sandwich the phone between your shoulder and ear as you gingerly wrap the new wound on your forearm. It was already blistering and looking like your skin was trying to boil off. The bandage hurt, but it was better to cover it then let it get infected.

        “... Um, h-hey, this might sound strange, but…can I tell you something?” Her words cut off as you stifle a hiss of pain by biting the the inside of your cheek. You make a noise for her to continue. “B-before I met you I… I d-didn't really like myself very much.”

        You freeze. Her words strike something familiar inside of you.

        “For a long ti-time I felt like a total screw-up. L-like I couldn't do a-anything without… Without ending up letting everyone down…”

        A memory of a smaller you watching your parents fight appears behind your eyes and you can't move as the memory eats at your vision. It was a smaller you that thought you were the problem and that’s why your parents fought. You had let them down and so your mother decided to have another kid, a kid that they would raise to replace you.

        A smaller you who got into trouble at school and let your parents and teachers down over and over again. A smaller you that, for a period of time, couldn't look at your own reflection because it'd make you sick.

        A smaller you that hoped you wouldn't let Frisk down like you had everyone else; who craved to protect them and be a part of Frisk’s life as if it could redeem you.

        A smaller you that was desperately Kind.

        “B-but! Guiding you has made me feel a lot better about myself… So… Thanks for letting me help you.”

        You swallow and taste bile in the back of your throat.

        “Uhh, anyway, we’re almost to the Core. It’s just past MTT Resort. Come on! Let’s finish this!” She hangs up, and you listen to the static of the phone before lowering it and sliding it into your bags pocket.

        With a deep breath, you refocus yourself, reminding yourself that you needed to go find Frisk.

        Leaving the room with the deactivated puzzle, you climb red rocks stairs to come upon the two guys in their suits of armor, holding hands as they ate nice cream. Just next to them was the blue bunny from the snowy outskirts of Snowdin, with his same nice cream cart. You aren’t too surprised to see Frisk in front of him, them signing to him and and him happily nodding in return.

         “Frisk.” You call. The two of them look over to you. As the rabbit smiles, ears raising high as he waves, Frisk immediately makes an upset noise.

        “What happened to your arms?” They ask quickly as you approach. The nice cream man notices too, because he frowns, his ears wilting.

        “Burned them a little.” You say nonchalantly. “No big deal. It’s just showbiz.” Frisk grunted as you laughed. You then look to the nice cream man. “Any nice cream?” He blinks and then shakes his head.

        “Sorry, those two bought all my stock.” He gestures to the pair of armor clad soldiers. You shrug, having asked more out of sake for conversation than a want for anything cold. Frisk grabs your hand, waving their other pudgy one towards the nice cream man as a signal of their decision to depart. You smile and wave at the rabbit too as you follow Frisk’s lead.

        A large building sits before you further along the path. It’s soft, warm light glowing from the glass double doors and large windows makes the area seem dark in comparison. If you hadn’t just been wandering around lava pits, you would’ve almost been fooled into thinking you were walking outside on a cool, dark night.

        Frisk pulls harder on your arm, getting your attention to fall from the building front to the certain someone standing lazily next to it. He leaned his large body against a large set of planters, hollow eyes closed as if he was enjoying an imaginary breeze.

        As if he hears Frisk and your silent footsteps getting closer to him, his eyes open and the white pinpricks center on the two of you. His forever smile widens at the sight.

        “Hey.” He says shortly, voice rumbling out from under where the edge of his jacket covered part of his mouth. He met Frisk’s eyes and then had to tilt his head up to meet yours. He straightened up a bit.

        “Hey Sans.” You say, smiling. “What’re you doing here?” You gesture to “MTT Resort”.

        “About to head to dinner.” He states matter of fact-ly. “Heard you’re going through here to the Core.”

        “Yeah. Still heading towards the castle.” He nods and then jerks his skull to the side.

        “How about grabbing some dinner with me first, you two?” You smile, feeling your stomach tighten at the idea of a real meal. You tilt your head down to Frisk.

        “You hungry?” They nod quickly, both hands tugging on yours excitedly.

        “Calm down kid, or you’ll pull your sisters arm out of it’s socket.” Sans says, puffing out a few laughs before turning towards the alley next to the Resort.

        “Um…” You begin, slowly following as Frisk leads you. Sans, hearing your confusion, stops and turns a grin your way.

        “It’s a shortcut.”

        The three of you walk into the dark and, less than a second later, you’re walking into a softly lit dining room.

        There's murmurs from monsters all around, all sitting with one another and enjoying their own company. Not a soul notices you three walking in from a doorless wall, nor do they seem to notice anything but the ones that they're with. They’re all in their own worlds. Sans pulls a chair haphazardly out as he passes, as if he decided at the last second not to sit in it. Instead he goes to the opposite side. You sit down in the chair he yanked out, immediately picking Frisk up to sit them in your lap.

        “Well, here we are.” He says, looking between you and Frisk, who was wrapped up in your arms. “So. Your journey’s almost over, huh?”

        “Here you go.” You look up to see a monster set two plates down in front of you and frisk, and a bowl in front of Sans. You stifle your laughter when you see it’s just a bowl of red sauce. Frisk immediately picks up their burger, stuffing their face before you can get them to sign thank you to Sans, for ordering.

        “Thank you.” You say, giving Frisk a look. They release one hand to sign and then immediately grab their burger again.

        “Kid’s got a big appetite.” Sans says. “That was supposed to be yours.” The other plate had a comically small kid-sized burger on it and you roll your eyes. You don’t stop Frisk though, even when they sign sorry.

        “Not that hungry anyway.” You say, your stomach immediately gnawing at itself in protest. Sans picks up a spoon and sticks it in his bowl.

        “You two must really want to go home.” He suddenly says. You pause mid bite of your burger. “It’s been about a day and you’re more than halfway across the Underground already.”

        A day? A whole day since you’ve been down here? You had assumed it’d been a while, having fallen asleep at Toriel’s and all, but… It felt much longer because of how many new bruises, scars and cuts you’d gotten (and even healed) in only around twenty-four hours. In all honesty you’d been put through the ringer both physically and mentally and as soon as you got home you were planning to not move for a long while. Now that Sans was saying it’d been a day you felt exhaustion creeping up on you. You’d been able to push it back with all of the crazy events, one of which was literally you dying, but now sitting in the warm and dimly lit room your eyelids drooped.

        “Hey, I know the feeling buddo.” Sans says and you force your eyes all the way open to focus on the skeleton across from you. “Wanting to go home…” He trailed off. You had assumed Papyrus and him had always lived in Snowdin. Hadn’t they?

        Did he just call you “buddo”?

        “Though, maybe sometimes it’s better to take what’s given to you.” He noisy slurps his bowl of ketchup, making Frisk almost choke on their food.

        “What’dya mean by that?” You ask, patting Frisk’s back at the same time you pull their glass of water closer so that they can reach it.

        “Dunno.” He shrugs. “Down here you’ve already got food, drink, friends…” His pinpricks are solely on you, now. “Is what you have to do… really worth it?” Your face sours and he nervously glances away. “Ah, forget it.” He amends quickly, meeting your eyes again. “I’m rootin’ for ya, kid.” He then looks down to Frisk, giving the child all of his attention as you lean back. “Hey, let me tell you a story.”

        You’re glad Frisk took your food, because you don’t know if you could stomach anything anymore.

        You’d been thinking about this for a while and something had recently clicked for you… The Underground was good for Frisk. It had everything home didn’t. People who understood and accepted them, a safe environment, loving friends and even a loving mother. It seemed that the only reason why Frisk had wanted to leave the Underground beforehand was because they had missed you. Now that you were here too… Was there a reason to go home?

        Sure. You had school… but you already put Frisk before that on a normal basis. You had your mother too, and guilt gnawed at your kind soul at the idea of never returning to her, but… Would you ignore that feeling for Frisk’s future?

        Of course you would.

        Frisk came first, always.

        You would bring this up later to the kid. You remembered they had said “save all the monsters”. Now thinking about the monsters safe and sweet home, what were they needing to be saved from?

        “So, naturally, I respond: ‘dishes’.” You tune back in to the story Sans was recounting for Frisk. “ ‘Dishes who?’, she asked and I said, ‘dishes a very bad joke’.” Frisk laughs and you snort, rolling your eyes. “Then she just howls with laughter, like it’s the best joke she’s ever heard in a hundred years. So I keep ‘em coming, and she keeps laughing. She’s the best audience I've ever had.” You wish you hadn’t tuned out the first half of the story, because you wanna know who Sans was talking about. “Then, after a dozen of ‘em, she knocks and says…’knock knock!’, I say, whos there?, ‘old lady!’, old lady who?, ‘Oh! I did not know you could yodel!’.”

        Frisk almost chokes on their water and both you and Sans laugh at their reaction to the joke.

        “Wow.” Sans says, back to his story as you gave Frisk all three of the set out cloth napkins. “Needless to say, this woman was extremely good. We kept telling each other jokes for hours. Eventually I had to leave. Papyrus gets kind of cranky without his bedtime story, but she told me to come by again, and so I did.” He crosses his large puffy sleeves on the table. “Then I did again. And again. It’s a thing now, telling bad jokes through the door.” He chuckles. “It rules.” He trails off then, eyes going between the two of you. You raise a brow, nodding for him to continue.

        “Sans?”

        “One day,” He abruptly begins again. “I noticed she wasn’t laughing very much. I asked her what was up. Then she told me something strange. ‘If a human ever comes through this door… Could you please, please promise something? Watch over them, and protect them, will you not?’.”

        With a jolt you realize he’s been talking about Toriel.

        “Now, I hate making promises and this woman, I don’t even know her name.” His eyes meet yours. “But someone who sincerely likes bad jokes… Has an integrity you can’t say no to. Do you get what I’m saying? You know what would have happened if she hadn’t said anything?” Frisk stiffens and you instinctively hug them tighter. Your brows furrow as you look between the two of them.

        Something chills the air and…. Where did the white pricks in Sans’s eyes go?

        “You’d be dead where you stand.”

        “Sit.” You say instantly, without thinking, and the white pricks pop back.

        “What?”

        “We’re sitting.” You say and any malice he had that’d been there a second ago vanished. However, yours multiples tenfold. Here Sans was again, threatening you- threatening Frisk. He seems to notice your sneer over the kids head.

        “Lighten up, bucko.” Sans says, giving a forced laugh that proved your glare was making him slightly nervous. At the very least uncomfortable. “I’m just joking with you two.”

        Did he just call you “bucko”?

        “Plus, haven’t I done a great job protecting the kid?” He gestures to Frisk's unscathed form. However, Frisk immediately pulls your arm up above their head, showing the skeleton your bandages.

        “I don’t count.” You say, laughing, pulling your arm from Frisk grasps. Their brow furrows and they pout.

        “You came out of the door with me.” They protest. You make a face.

        “Where’d you get that?” Sans suddenly asks and you give him a look. You’re surprised to see his brow bones have pushed together in mild upset. In fact, his pinpricks start scanning you, as if looking for other wounds.

        “I was a guest on Mettaton’s show.”

        Sans’s face sours even more.

        “Papy loves that guy. I didn’t know that getting filleted was a complimentary gift if you got casted.” Though he jokes, his tone hasn’t returned to it’s normal light tone and his eyes haven’t moved from your arm.

        “I need to go to the bathroom.” Frisk signs, raising their tiny hands into your view. You nod and scoot the chair back. Before you can get up with them, they wave for you to stay seated. “I know where it is!

        “Frisk-” But they’re already speed-walking off, heading into a side door that was still in the restaurant. You sigh but scoot back in, looking to Sans.

        “Bathroom.” You tell him.

        “Heard.” Sans replies and you frown at his word choice. “Sorry.” He says and you purse your lips.

        “For what? Your bad sense of humor?” He shifts in his seat. “Look, I don't get what's up with you and my sibling, but you need to lay off.”

        “Kid-”

        “Don't.” You snap. “What if I went around threatening Papyrus? ” Sans goes so still, so quiet, so suddenly, you pause briefly. His reaction is unnerving, how the lights in his sockets die at even the thought. Good. Maybe he'd stop messing with Frisk. “You're scaring them,” You stress, lowering your voice after you hear how loud and heated you'd gotten. “They've been through a lot, okay? I can only protect them from so much. I don't need you, someone who they genuinely consider a friend, messing with them like that. They're nine.”

        Sans nods slowly and you sigh, hoping it'll actually be the end of it. You watch as he sits straighter and his smile dims.

        “The kids hasn’t died this time around.”

        “Wh- of course they haven’t.” You snort. “You saw them walking just now, right?”

        “But you did.” You freeze, going silent. “Once, right?”

        For a quiet, long, drawn out minute you two simply stare at each other.

        “What?” Your voice is quiet and sounds broken. You don't hear it over the noise of the dining room.

        “Was it to protect the kid?” He asks and you can't find yourself able to answer.

        How did Sans know? You'd reset, started a new life at the shining star. Even Undyne, your killer, hadn't remembered. You were sure even Frisk wasn't aware of it. But he could tell? And how he said it… You'd been right that on Frisk's other runs they had…

        “Yes.” You answer. “In a roundabout way.” You pick up Frisk's water glass just to squeeze it between your hands. The coolness doesn't do anything to calm your racing heart.

        Sans sighs, but his smile returns to normal.

        “Guess I haven't been showing off my skills that well.” He slouched back into his chair. “Didn't think I needed to keep my eye on you.”

        “You don't…” You shook your head, refusing to finish his punch line for him. “I have enough backbone for the both of us, I don't need you babysitting me.”

        The good mood Sans was trying to salvage had died. Whatever budding friendship you two had started back at Grillby's was quickly dying.

        Something was going on between Sans and Frisk, something much bigger than just a skeleton being a bully to a nine year old. All if jibes were specific. They were aimed towards whatever happened with Frisk before they brought you underground. Sans knew something that you didn't, about your sibling, and it bugged you to no end.

        Sans understood what it was like being an older sibling. A part of you genuinely wanted to believe Sans was better than what he was showing you in those small moments with Frisk. In fact, most of his interactions with the kid and you were A+. But then something… Would happen, and then he'd cross a line. It was confusing. You were missing something, something important.

        You're sure neither of them would explain it to you if you asked.

        “Take care of yourself, kid.” Sans says and you jump when you realize you got lost in your thoughts again. He stands up, having to hop off of his chair because of how short he was. He starts walking towards the back wall you three had come from. You also stand.

        “Sans…”

        “‘Cause someone really cares about you.”

        “Mn!” You spin around finding Frisk just behind you. Their eyes stay on you for only a second before looking around you. You turn back around to see Sans had vanished.

        “Where did Sans go?” Frisk signs to you. You shake your head, shrugging. They don’t look too surprised at Sans disappearance. “You okay?

        “What?” You ask, confused. “Yeah, why?”

        “You look like you’re going to cry.” They sign, looking worried. Laughing, you pick them up into your arms, bouncing them.

        “Maybe ‘cause someone stole my food.” You tease. “Now, come on, we’re pretty close, right?” The child smiles and nods. Setting them back down, they rush ahead of you, signing something fleeting about exploring the resort. You didn’t get to see the other half as they ran out the restaurant doors.

        You breathe in, trying to stop your eyes from stinging, swallowing, willing the ball in your throat to leave.

        Sans was right. Frisk really did care about you.

        So it was your job to make sure they had a future worth how amazing they were.

        Either you gave up your life above ground and stayed underground with Frisk, or you gave up your soul to return Frisk and the monsters to the surface.

        …. You never were someone who could be selfish.

        There was only one real option.

        Imagining Frisk’s smile, you take a deep breath and find a bounce has added itself to your step.

        The time to prove how Kind you really were was nearing and something about that filled you with Determination.

Chapter Text

☹⚐💧❄

✞☜☼✡ ☹⚐💧❄

✡⚐🕆 👎⚐ ☠⚐❄ 👌☜☹⚐☠☝ ☟☜☼☜📪 👍☟✋☹👎

👌🕆❄ ✡⚐🕆 😐☠⚐🕈 ❄☟✌❄

👎⚐☠🕯❄ ✡⚐🕆✍

👌🕆❄ ✡⚐🕆 ✌☼☜ ✋☠❄☜☼☜💧❄✋☠☝

✞☜☼✡

✞☜☼✡

✋☠❄☜☼☜💧❄✋☠☝.

✌ 💧⚐🕆☹ ☹✋😐☜ ✡⚐🕆☼💧 👎⚐☜💧 ☠⚐❄ ☹✌💧❄ ☹⚐☠☝

☟⚐🕈 ☞✌☼ 🕈✋☹☹ ✡⚐🕆 ☝⚐

✋ 🕈⚐☠👎☜☼

✌ ✞☜☼✡ ✋☠❄☜☼☜💧❄✋☠☝ ☜✠🏱☜☼✋💣☜☠❄ ✋☠👎☜☜👎

Chapter Text

        Apparently you were famous.

        Being in a couple of Mettaton's recent shows really brought awareness to the fact two humans were in the Underground. If you had thought the rumors were quickly spread before, now it was like a wildfire. Monsters more than ever came up to you and Frisk, not even to fight, but just to say hi. A few had even asked for autographs.

        Frisk seemed pretty used to the sweet attention of the nervous fans, but their excitement quickly ran out when some of them started focusing on you more. Or, rather, how they started treating you.

        Apparently doing that awkward dance number with Mettaton was a big deal. Some monsters were very, very focused on that moment. It got you a hodgepodge of reactions, some of jealousy and some of… interest? Could you call it that? Either way you were stopped multiple times as monsters blushed and gave you flowers or chocolates and some very, very interesting attempts at flirting. It came to the point little Frisk decided that they needed to become your mini bodyguard.

        It was so adorable and sweet you didn't have the heart to tell them that your glaring and beaten bat at your side was the thing that hurried the fans along.

        When you stepped out of the restaurant a monster, that was perhaps a pointing hand on a body, immediately pulled you both aside. After fangirling, much to your confusion, she offered one of the hotel rooms to both you and Frisk for only fifty gold. You knew for a fact you’d heard monsters from earlier complaining about how the rooms were two-hundred gold.

        You had never said ‘Yes’ so quickly or so loudly before in your life.

        The room was grand. You ended up almost immediately throwing you things to the side and throwing yourself onto the bed. (Of course only after you checked to make sure the room locked properly.) As soon as you hit the giant bed’s giant comforter, and after you felt Frisk curl up beside you, you fell asleep.

        You're not sure how long you slept, but you felt extremely well rested. It was the same feeling you felt when you'd slept in the Ruins at Toriel's.

        Did that make it, technically, day two of you two wandering around? You had no bearing of time and you would honestly believe anyone if they told you it'd been a week since you arrived.

        Frisk woke up long before you did. You found that out by the depleted bag of money and of the newly restocked snack pile. They didn't even try to apologize as they packed your bag for you and presented your trusty bat.

        At least the gold in the Underground wasn't the same kind of money that you had on the surface. If the snacks didn't have healing properties for Frisk, you would’ve been a bit more upset that they used all the money on junk food.

        You two checked out or, really, just walked out and gave the front desk monster a thumbs up before skirting around the crowd of fans as quietly as possible. You couldn’t tell if they were the same ones from before you fell asleep or a whole new group that’d heard that you were at the hotel. Either way, Frisk led the way to the back of the lobby, out of the line of sight of the groupies.

        Though you knew Frisk had done multiple runs through the Underground throughout their history of resets, you wondered how on Earth they had gotten to the Core. The Core sounded like the heart of the Underground. A volatile area that would most likely be highly guarded to make sure no hooligans came in and accidentally broke something. How Frisk was able to get past the assumed security was beyond you.

        They stopped in front of a set of double doors. You sucked in a breath, waiting for them to start explaining the plan.

        They point up.

        You look up and read the glowing sign.

        Oh.

        You push open the doors to the Core and frown at the easy access.

        The hotel flooring turns into the wood of a stage, leading off into a pulsating blue barrage of hot metal pipes and gears. The whole mass in front of you seemed to pulsate with whatever was running through it. The white noise of quaint people behind you dies into the fuzz of steam, buzzing of electrical bits, and metal grinding. The stage wood falls away to flat pipes.

        “Is… this the core? I thought it was more of a… solid object.” You say slowly, slipping your bat from its place.

        “It’s more of a structure.” Frisk signs, letting you take the lead. “It powers up the under ground.

        Something moves in the corner of your eyes and you jerk your head forward to see figures in the middle of your path. They back further into the Core but you stop Frisk from following.

        You flinch when your phone rings. You crouch down, eyes still forward, letting Frisk fish the phone out.

        “Huh? Who are they?” Alphys’s questioning voice does little to calm you. You side eye Frisk cradling the phone. “N-Nobody else is s-supposed to be here… Oh well! We can’t worry about that now!” Frisk frowns as they lower the phone after the scientist hangs up.

        They look at you but you avoid their eyes to instead head forward.

        You… weren’t sure how to feel about Alphys anymore. You had mixed feelings jumbled up, all fighting for your attention. You tried to ignore them to focus on the most important, protecting Frisk, but your mind kept wandering. It kept getting held up at the fact that Alphys was lying to you both.

        Or, misleading you two, at the very least.

        She had created Mettaton as a human-killing robot. She said that she didn’t want to hurt you and Frisk anymore and had really helped getting away from Mettaton once he started hunting you both. Yet… She definitely was working with him. You don’t think the entire time though. Things definitely changed when you were almost burned alive. Maybe Mettaton thought it’d bring more attention and action if you kept kicking. Either way, Alphys was using you two.

        You felt like a pawn. It was one thing if Mettaton (your current enemy until Frisk found a way to befriend him) was using you for views on his TV show. Sure, whatever. It’s a whole entire other thing for Alphys, someone you put your trust in, someone you let yourself partially rely on to protect Frisk during these puzzles, turn on you.

        Her telling you that helping you and Frisk made her feel better was… Well it was information that catered to your kind side. You understood where she came from. You wanted to find a moment to talk to her. Yet, the older sister part of you felt betrayed and you had this anxious chill up your spine that Alphys’s selfishness was going to put Frisk in danger.

        You two stop at a fork in the metal road with an elevator splitting it. Alphys calls again and you make a face.

        “Just stay on the phone,” You say before she can start. “It’ll be easier.”

        “O-oh! Um… alright…. A-Are you ready? This is it! Take the elevator up to the top of the Core!”

        Frisk hops forward, reaching up high so they could press the buttons. However, the lights flicker and there's a clicking noise and then nothing. For a split second Frisk looks confused and then they notice you watching and they smile nervously. You raise a brow.

        “Elevator’s out.” You announce.

        “What? The elevator should be working… W-well then! Go to the right and keep heading up.”

        Walking around Frisk, you head over. You hold them back as you open the door, peeking inside to make sure the figures from earlier weren't waiting to jump you two. Once you're sure the coast is clear you usher Frisk inside.

        The door snaps shut too quickly behind you and you notice immediately this isn't a normal corridor. In fact, it's not a hall at all, but a dead end.

        "Alright! Now just keep heading forward!"

        You hear fire roaring, rather than see it. You creep closer to see there's an immediate drop into a void-like pit. Exposed pipes spouted flames that looked more like blow torches.

        "Only problem with that is there's no forward bit." If it wasn't fire down there lighting it up, no doubt anyone being careless could've dropped right in.

        "What?" Alphys's voice came out weaker. You glance over your shoulder to Frisk, who was at the door. They opened it for you when you ventured back. "That pit isn't on my map."

        "You'll have to lead us down the left side." Frisk nods along with your words.

        "No big deal!"

        A part of you thinks that she must've grabbed the wrong script from Mettaton.

        Frisk skips past the elevator and waits by the next doors button until you're ready. With a nod you two move in sync. Checking to make sure that it's an actual hallway this time, you slip in and hold it open for Frisk. They seem to be having a little too much fun with your high alert mode and do a roll to get past the automatic door. When they pop up they look all ways and give you a serious nod. You snort and watch as they continue to act like an infiltrating secret spy.

        "Okay!" Frisk jumps at Alphys's loud voice in the silent hallway and you smother another laugh. "You two should be able to get through here without any trouble."

        "No guards?" You ask as Frisk rolls again into a kneeling position, putting their hand to their imaginary ear piece even though they held the phone.

        "No, it's all clear until--Frisk!"

        You'd seen the shadowy figure coming at the same time Alphys had on her camera. Your soul jumped out of your chest, lurching forward as if an extension of your outstretched hand towards Frisk.

        The kid jumps back away from the flying monster, a glowing magic laced creature you had never seen before, just missing a flying cross aimed at them.

        Frisk was always good at dodging.

        You brandish your bat, hitting back any crosses that got too close to you or the kid, letting Frisk handle calming the monster down.

        You're relieved when the monster, a Madjick Frisk spelled out for you, bid you two Farwell with a small apology.

        It's only when Frisk and your hearts returned to your respective chests did Alphys speak again.

        "Th-that was close…" She murmurs. Then, more to herself, "Why are there so many m-monsters here?" You pick up the discarded phone, which Frisk has dropped during the fight. "I mean… N-no worries! W-W-we've just got to keep heading forward…!"

        She goes silent.

        You share a look with Frisk. They hesitate to answer but end up shrugging and hurrying ahead.

        "Stay close." You say, more so to make you feel better rather than to remind Frisk. They had already slowed down before you said it.

        The next room had a glass laid bridge over another steep drop into the Core abyss, something that was becoming a pattern that you didn't like. It was being blocked off, however, by a single blue laser and your stomach rolls.

        Throughout most of Mettaton's puzzles there had been the orange move-through lasers and the blue don't-even-think-about-it lasers. You despised them mostly because the blues never thought you were still enough and you were never fast enough for the oranges. You could already taste pennies in your mouth looking at it.

        "Looks like you can't proceed until you hit that switch on the wall." You look over, having almost missed the red toggle. "But more lazers will activate when you do. Umm…" You hear the keys of a keyboard. "It looks like they'll come in this order. Orange, Orange, Blue. G-Got? Move until the last one."

        "Alright." You steel yourself, knowing you're probably going to get shocked. "Ready Frisk?"

        They shake their head.

        "Don't move until the last one."

        "What?" Frisk holds their hands up, cutting you off.

        "Shhh. The pattern is the opposite. It's blue, blue, orange."

        Instead of verbally answering you take to signing as well, your eyes narrowing onto the phone Frisk had balanced on their shoulder.

        "Did she switch it on purpose?" You try to sign faster than usual, knowing she had cameras on you and Frisk. You were pretty sure Alphys couldn't sign, or she would've used it earlier during your first game with Mettaton. However, you'd seen literally every monster in the Underground talk to Frisk and respond to their signing so far, so you weren’t risking it.

        “No!” The kid gives you a hard look. You knew Alphys was one of their future friends and all, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t trick them and then be befriended. “Mettaton switched everything around on her.

        Well, that confirmed your suspicion that they were working together. You sigh, deciding that you rather focus on getting through the Core than on the confusing game the scientist and her creation were playing with you two.

        "Blue, blue, orange." You repeat back to Frisk. After they nod and get ready you hit the button and hold your breath.

        Frisk was right.

        There's a gasp on the phone.

        "Oh my god. Are you guys okay? I… I'm sorry… I-I gave you the wrong order."

        "The Core's rooms can be moved around." Frisk says as Alphys's shaky voice dies. You nod slowly, stopping at the next door.

        "So Hogwarts moving stairs, but room version. Got it."

        "Everything's going to be fine." Alphys continued. You could tell her earlier flame of confidence was quickly being put out. "L-Let's just keep heading to the right."

        It's quiet in the next room. More so than the others. You still keep Frisk a step behind you as you cross. You halt at a fork in the path and glance back to Frisk and the phone.

        "A crossroads…" Alphys mumbles. She must've stopped looking at the map she'd mentioned earlier because she uhms her way through a moment or two before ushering you both to the right.

        You're tempted to head left but Frisk seemed determined to follow every one of Alphys's commands. Even if you assumed Frisk knew when she'd be wrong.

        The right path had another bridge over a metal casum and even more lasers.

        "M-more lasers… I-I won't mess around this time. I'll just deactivate them and let you two through." There's some mouse clicking and keyboard typing and then… a whimper? "Th-they're not… Turning off?" There's quicker typing in response. "I-I can't turn them off… "

        You watch the lasers bounce back and forth in front of you, already trying to figure out how you were going to go about the puzzle.

        "It's-It's okay! I-I-I-I have this under control!"

        You have a feeling she doesn't.

        "I'm going to turn off the power for that whole node! Then you can walk across."

        Almost immediately the room loses light. Your bat flies to the ready just as you feel Frisk's hand curl in you clothes. You glance around, not liking how dark it was with a pit so close. The kid uses the phone screen to guide you both forward towards the bridge.

        "I've decided the Core is my least favorite place." You say out loud. Your lips pinch when you hear the way your voice endlessly echos around.

        "It's not the most fun."

        "Really not-"

        You pause, your head snapping down to Frisk at your side. They were only lit up by whatever the excess light from the phone ghosted on. You could only really make out some of their face. Definitely not their hands if they'd sign at you. Especially since their hands were full of the phone.

        So how had you known what they'd just said?

        Did you imagine it?

        This had happened earlier… were they signing out of the corner of your eye and you were reading it without really noticing?

        "Wait!"

        Your shoes squeak when you stop, heart racing at Alphys's sudden yell.

        "What-"

        A blue laser pierces your chest.

        The rooms light flicker back on after the lasers had reactivated.

        Almost twenty blue lasers proceeded the one going through you, completely blocking off the bridge. You don't dare turn your head to see how many are behind you.

        "Alphys." You hiss out, hoping she's already working to fix this.

        "Th-the power… It turned itself back on!" Her teeth click. "D-Damn it… This isn't supposed to… I'm going to turn the power off again. When I do, move a little and then stop. Y-you won't get hurt that way."

        "Got it."

        When the power goes off you immediately scoop Frisk into your arms and haul ass. It only takes two other power shut offs to get across to the other side.

        "See! I-I got everything under control. I've got everything… under control. We're fine."

        You can tell she's turned that into a mantra and she was saying it more to herself than to you and Frisk.

        "We're fine." It startles Alphys. "We didn't get hurt." Your reassurance only gets a small hum of understanding. Frisk pouts but waves for you to keep going.

        There's a three way split next and you run a hand over your eyes.

        "Alright! You two should-..." Alphys pauses and you glance to make sure she hadn't accidentally hung up. "You should… I don't know? This doesn't look like my map at all."

        "No guesses?" You ask slowly.

        "No I… I don't I… I'm sorry I-"

        "Alphys?"

        "I have to go."

        "Hey, wait!" But the phone clicks off. You sigh, dragging a hand through your hair. As much as you were on the fence with your trust in Alphys, you couldn't deny that you two wouldn't have gotten this far without her. In fact, it would’ve been near impossible.

        A small yellow star glows to life before you and Frisk happily sweeps their hands through it. They look more determined to pass through the Core. When they give you that look you take a deep breath.

        “Is Alphys okay?” You ask gingerly. Frisk stares and then glances away. A sure sign Alphys was anything but okay. You glanced around the new area. It was a humid kind of hot that burned with the smell of ozone. “How much further until we get to the other side of here?”

        “Just up this path is the final show… Then the king.

        Their hands shook and they pulled their tiny fists to their chest so you wouldn’t notice.

        The final show… The last fight with Mettaton. So just a small walk and then you’d face the robot and then the King. Asgore. The supposed final fight. The one thing that Frisk never mentioned, but the battle all of monsterkind warned you about.

        However, you find your eyes glancing behind you.

        You wanted to go check on Alphys.

        “Let’s keep going.” You say, powering forward. Frisk falls into step, eyes shining as you two move.

        In the matter of minutes the two of you push your way through the maze of Core rooms. You realize this is the first time Frisk has ever let you take the lead when handling the Monsters. It wasn’t that you were some barbarian swinging your bat around, at least not now, after being in the Underground for so long. Without really thinking about it you compliment, talk down, and encourage the monsters that get in your way until they’re smiling messes behind you.

        You see the light of another shining star. It glimmers at the end of your path, reflecting against the shiny elevator door. It's slightly different than the one you saw earlier. Fancier.

        The door closer to you, that you had almost missed, was more of an arch draped with bright red theater curtains. There were gems and shiny cloth weighing it down. You knew that part would lead to Mettaton.

        You brush your fingers through the dust of the star. Your eyes catch the elevator again. In it you see your ragged form, and behind you Frisk's small face.

        The realization of how close to the end  you were hits your heart hard.

        You shakily breathe in.

        The sight of your final destination scares you, but seeing your sibling reminds you to stay Kind.

        "Frisk, I want you to stay out here for Mettaton's fight." You say, looking back at the star in front of you. You sigh. "Mettaton has been the only monster to relentlessly go after us. We've gotten hurt the most by him. Just stay here and…" You happened to glance at the elevator door again but freeze up when you don't see Frisk's reflection.

        You snap around, their name on the tip of your tongue as you catch the back of their head darting into Mettaton's room.

        "Frisk!"

        A hidden door slams shut, the thud echoing through the Core.

        "Frisk!" You call again, fists bruisingly smashing against the metal door. They don't answer, or if they did their unused voice wasn't loud enough for you to hear through the metal.

        There's a pop from the other side and then a muffled tune of music you'd started to connect with the presence of Mettaton. You hit the door again but give that up, knowing you weren't strong enough to get through.

        You had to get in there.

        Sure, you let Frisk fight Papyrus by themselves in the very beginning. It was only because you had seen no threat in the coat-sharing skeleton. Frisk had returned unscathed but after dying to Undyne you refused to let them near another big fight by themselves. Not without you there to protect them.

        Why had Frisk run off? Again?

        Especially to a fight?

        Were they upset you'd asked then to stay?

        Instead of fuming you step back and glance around the sealed door.

        Quickly you backtrack, keeping a hand on the wall that you could feel the music pounding on.

        There had to be another way in.

        You glance over your shoulder as you go, up and back like you'd be able to see the camera you knew Alphys had on you.

        "Alphys!" You yell out, hoping that whatever she was doing she's hear you, or sees you, knowing you'd need help.

        Helping you get to Frisk was probably the fastest way for her to redeem herself after her obvious betrayal.

        But nothing.

        The music dies and you blanche. You put both your hands to the wall, praying you'd feel or hear the thrum of the music. The music that meant Mettaton was fighting.

        Frisk couldn't have possibly talked a robot into being their friend so quickly. As much as you believed in their determination to befriend everyone, it'd take more than a few words to get a popularity obsessed bot to take a bow.

        If it had stopped within ten minutes then Frisk-

        A low voice yells- moans- "Oh Yeah", before a new mix of music sings even louder than before.

        You sigh in relief.

        Clicking next to you makes you jump and you dart to the side to avoid whatever it is.

        You watch a panel form in the wall by your head before popping open, the gate swinging and hitting the wall with a crack. You narrow your eyes but inspect it immediately.

        It was a hole, or rather maybe a vent. It glowed an unnatural blue, like there was something swimming in the walls.

        You hear another bout of music blare.

        You pull yourself into the vent, squirming until you can get your legs up and under you. Without pause, hoping Alphys was the one who opened it up, you crawl.

        For the most part you follow Mettaton's tune. It bounces around your head as you move, luckily not throwing you off enough that you get lost.

        Or you're pretty sure you're not lost.

        Just as worry starts gnawing in your gut you hear a voice.

        "Darling is a model, now, hm?"

        You crawl faster, seeing a vent ahead you strobing with pinks and oranges.

        You press your face against the grate, peering into the room you'd found.

        Everything's hard to make out amongst the artificial fog and the flashing lights that nearly blind you. It's much darker than the glowing vent you were in. It was also much louder than you thought it was going to be.

        On top of the rave music playing there was a steady chiming that, once your eyes adjusted, you saw came from a screen that read "audience". Every time the screen's number went up, the chime chirped out.

        Frisk spun into view suddenly, their yellowed soul firing off into the fog. Immediately you push at the grate, trying to pop it off the wall.

        "A determined contestant!" Came the man's voice again.

        A hot pink heeled boot suddenly cuts through the fog like a knife, almost taking Frisk's head with it. You shouted for them, but they couldn't hear you over the music. Instead they jumped-no, twirled--out of the way. The leg continued forward, bringing its partner, and then the rest of its body, through the dense fog and into view.

        You...were not expecting what stood before your vent.

        You had never seen this man before in your life. Why he was fighting Frisk now instead of Mettaton made no sense. He brushed his black hair behind his ear, his one visable eye shining as they darted back to Frisk's new spot.

        The man jutted his hip out, pointed a healed toe, placed his pink gloves hand on his front hip bones and then licked his teeth as he smiled.

        You felt your face grow warm.

        The TV screen chimed viciously as the viewer count jumped.

        Shots from Frisk's soul splatter against the wall next to you. The man grunts, being hit, and you watch in mild horror as his arms drop off his body.

        One rolls over to you and you mumble a "thank God" under your breath to see wires and cords coming out rather than blood and bones.

        However...if this was a robot arm…

        "Mettaton?" You whisper, watching as the two dance around each other. Literally dance, as Mettaton struts his legs and Frisk spins and jumps to avoid incoming attacks. It's… Oddly beautiful.

        It'd be more beautiful if Mettaton would stop firing at your kid.

        You decide you need to stop gawking and start moving.

        You scoot back in your limited space and take to slamming your shoulder into the grate. After a few hits it blows off and you go tumbling out after it. Your chin hits the ground and you almost bite your tongue clean off.

        "Perfect timing!" You look up, finding the armless robot making his way towards you. Your soul lurches. You roll over, popping up onto your feet just as your green soul is pulled from your chest.

        The new Mettaton towered over you. Easily six foot, maybe even seven. He smiled beautifully down at you.

        "I was wondering where you went darling. I can't have a finale without both of the special guests present!"

        Even his laughter was near perfect. You felt your face warm again. He pauses, seeming to notice the change in your face to your embarrassment, and looks ready to comment on it.

        But Frisk leaps between you two, firing at Mettaton who blocked the shot, to grab your hand. They very quickly run you out of range.

        "Frisk-"

        They turn around and give you the meanest look you've ever seen them give. Your heart nearly concaves at the sight of it.

        "You were supposed to stay away." They sign hurriedly. You're both aware of Mettaton's clicking of heels behind you, hidden by the lights and smoke.

        "Not with you in here!" You retaliate. Their face goes soft, but falls further into a pout.

        "I don't want you to get hurt again-" Their signing is interrupted by a leg that cuts the stifled air between you two. Mettaton falls into a graceful split before spinning around and up into a flip that aims for your jugular.

        A yellow bullet hits Mettaton's leg, pushing it out of its course.

        He moved to the beat of the pounding music in your ears, spinning and sliding around Frisk’s shots and, once you stopped gawking, your bat swings.

        You realized a little too late that Frisk and him were dancing around each other as they fought. Frisk would do a pose after a round of Mettaton’s attacks and the audience would lose it.

        You bounced to the beat, something you did without meaning to. You could feel the base reverberating in your ribcage, thrumming through every part of you- the bobbing was forced more so than chosen. Anytime Frisk slid to the side to allow you to block one of Mettaton's shots, you made a point to stick your tongue out or smirk, egging on the handsome bot. The monsters watching seemed to love it when you'd boast he couldn't hit you and you'd go unscathed.

        You didn't always dodge his shots or legs in time, though. Your bruised ribs sang out to that. Frisk tried to put themselves between you and Mettaton more throughout the fight. You danced around each other, trying to put yourselves first. It turned more into an act in the audience’s eyes than a struggle between the two of you. Mettaton didn’t even seem to pick up on it, as he followed along as if it was a dance number.

        It clicked all too late that Frisk really was your sibling--really had learned from you and copied you. To a T. To the point that the ugly habit of self sacrificing was rearing its head in them instead of just you.

        Terrified at that prospect, you spin around Frisk and land a devastating blow to Mettaton’s hip. Noting to apologize to him afterwards, you swing with your infamous strength from before you swore not to fight. You needed this fight over before Frisk started diving in front of you like the president’s secret service.

        Sparks fly and his legs pop off with the hissing of steam. You pause, waiting to see if Mettaton had anything else up his sleeve.

        The man looks past you and Frisk though, his eyes sparkling somehow even more when he sees the viewer count.

        "Oh! Look at these ratings!" The music you feel pulsing in your body dims. It shifts into a new tune, a softer sweeter song. It’s still has the unnatural pulse inside of you, though. "This is the most viewers I've ever had!" Your soul nears your chest, like it's ready to end the fight, but doesn't fully disappear.

        Mettaton shudders. Immediate worry fills you at the sight. You look to Frisk. They've already moved to help hold up Mettaton so his limbless body doesn't fall over as he talks.

        "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." Though his voice purrs like it always did, you hear it shake and a soft noise of strain at the end of his words. Like a pipe just not connecting correctly and creating an air leak.

        Mettaton's chest panel pops open, revealing a phone. Not a moment later does it ring. Mettaton looks to Frisk, but the kid's staring you down so you sheath your bat and weakly walk over. Crouching, and also gently wrapping an arm around Mettaton's heavy and cold back, you pick the phone up. You put it on speaker.

        "Hi!" Mettaton calls, winking to a camera you still can't see. "You're on TV. What do you have to say on this… Our very last show?"

        There's a near whimper and then a pause of silence.

        "Oh…." It's soft and watery and almost immediately you recognize it. ".. Hi… Mettaton…" Almost immediately his plastered smile starts to crack. ".. I.. uh.. Really liked watching your show…. My life is pretty boring…. But….. Seeing you on the screen… brought excitement to my life…. Vicariously…"

        Mettaton's smile had disappeared. In its place was a twisted grimace.

        "I can't tell… but I guess this is the last episode…? … I'll miss you… Mettaton…."

        There's a small gasp.

        "Oh….. I didn't mean to talk for this long…. Oh……"

        "No, wait! Wait Blo-"

        The phone clicks and goes silent.

        "He hung up." You mumble.

        Mettaton looks like he's about to cry. He tries to smile through it.

        "I'll take another caller!" He announces. You hang up the phone and immediately it rings.

        "Mettaton! Your show made us so happy!"

        And again.

        "Mettaton I don't know what I'll watch without you."

        And again.

        "Mettaton, there's a Mettaton-shaped hole in my Mettaton-shaped heart."

        You go again but the phone cuts off mid ring and you retract your hand just in time to avoid it being pinched by the panel shutting.

        He opens his mouth but then shuts it. For a moment, the first moment you'd ever seen, he was lost for words.

        "Ah… everyone…thank you so much." The pompous, announcer voice he boasted had dropped to a soft, quiet one. One that you hardly recognized.

        His magenta eyes drift between you and Frisk.

        "Darlings… Perhaps… It might be better if I stay here for a while." He smiles weakly. "Humans already have stars and idols. But monsters… They only have me. If I left… The underground would lose its spark. I’d leave an aching void that can never be filled. So….” He takes a rattling breath that sounds like sparking electricity. “I think I’ll have to delay my big debut. Besides. You’ve proven to be very strong... Perhaps… Even strong enough to get past Asgore.” His eyes flicker over to you. He holds you gaze as he speaks. “I’m sure you’ll be able to protect humanity.” Gently, he gestures to Frisk. His thick eyelashed eyes flutter shut and he gives a deprecating smile. “It’s all for the best, anyway. The truth is, this form’s energy consumption is… Inefficient.”

        There's a noise of an old computer starting a shut down and you realize it’s from Mettaton. His body gets heavier and you shift on your cramping legs to hold up more of his weight.

        “In a few moments, I’ll run out of battery power and, well…” Frisk makes a noise and Mettaton cracks his eyes open to give Frisk a kind look. “I’ll be alright. Knock ‘em dead, Darlings.” He fixes that kind look, which took a determined warmth, on to the cameras. “And everyone… Thank you. You’ve been a great audience!”

        Your soul gently sinks back into your chest, the music cutting off abruptly.

        The eerie silence filling the room makes you shiver.

        “Mettaton?” You ask gently. You move so you can see his face and swallow when you notice the way he’s gone limp. “Mettaton?” You ask again, laying him on the ground. You hover over him, gently patting his cheek.

The door to the room activates with a ring before sliding open. Frisk stands up.

        “I...I managed to open the lock! Are you two…” You glance over your shoulder to watch Alphys scurry in. She’s focused on Frisk, who signs that everyone’s fine. When she notices your hunched form over Mettaton she gasps.

        “Alphys…” You mumble, voice breaking.

        “Oh my god.” She’s kneeling across from you in seconds. “M-Mettaton! Mettaton are you…” Her fear melts into a tired sigh of relief. “Thank God, it’s just the batteries.”

        You stare.

        Batteries?

        ….

        You’d forgotten Mettaton was a robot for a moment there.

        His emotions were so real and his face-

        Well, actually. It was real. Maybe before you thought this was all programmed but now… You knew that couldn’t be right. Not after witnessing him nearly cry talking to Napstablook. Mettaton was just as real as you or Alphys or Frisk.

        Alphys leans closer to Mettaton, her hands shaking and her breathing becoming chaotic.

        “Mettaton, if you were gone, I would have… I would have…” She notices you watching her and she tries to hide the rising panic. “I m-mean, h-hey, it’s n-no problem, you know?” She avoids your stare. “He’s just a robot, if you messed it up, I c-could always… J-just build another…” She trails of, dryly swallowing. “Wh-Why don’t you two go on ahead?”

        As much as you wanted to stay and tell her that she didn’t have to hide how much she cared for Mettaton, you notice Frisk out of the corner of your eye. They’re waving for you to follow them, looking as determined as ever. You trusted them to know what’s best.

        “We’ll be just up ahead.” You say softly to Alphys, assuming she needed some space. She gives a weak smile as you get up.

        A door had opened across the way, behind where Mettaton laid. Frisk bobbed on through. You would’ve assumed they were as carefree as always, but you noticed the way their hands fisted into the sides of their onesie.

        In the new hallway you slow your pace almost to a halt, hoping Alphys would join like she said she would.

        Sure enough not even a minute passed before you here the padding of her feet and the ruffling of her lab coat. You turn to face her, which surprises her as she back up further from you.

        “S...Sorry about that! L-let’s k-keep going!”

        “You heard her.” You call to Frisk, who was the same large distance in front of you as Alphys was behind.

        You three walk in echoey quiet for a near ten seconds.

        “S-So you’re about to meet Asgore, h-huh?” You stop again at her words and she squeaks. You frown at the reaction.

        “His place is the only place left after this, isn’t it?” You ask, more to Frisk than to Alphys. The kid stops too, even further ahead and turns around briefly to give you a thumbs up. Alphys nods tentatively.

        “You must be… Y-you two must be… Pr...Pretty excited about all that, huh?” You’re picking up on the fear and hesitation in her soft voice. You once again turn fully around to face her.

        “Alphys?

        “You’ll f-f-finally… You’ll finally get to go home!”

        “Hey, Alphys, are you okay?” You try. However, whatever funk she’s gotten into hasn’t been shaken off. Her eyes don’t meet yours and you pick up on the same spiraling of thoughts you’re all too used to.

        A ding behind you makes both of you jump. Spinning around, you see Frisk has found the elevator at the end of the corridor. You make out their nervous look and assume they’d accidentally hit the button.

        “W-wait!” Alphys shouts, making you turn again. “I mean, um...I-I was just going to… um… Say goodbye, and… … …” You raise a brow.

        “And?” You pry gently. “You have something you need to tell us?”

        She gasps and then her facade of a smile crumbles immediately. “I-I…. I can’t take this anymore.”

        You hear Frisk slowly coming closer as Alphys curls in on herself.

        “I lied to you.” You nod slowly, assuming that she’s going to explain she’d been in cahoots with Mettaton.

        “About what?” You prod, keeping your voice soft.

        “A…” She turns tear filled eyes to you. “A human soul isn’t strong enough to cross the barrier alone.”

        Your heart stops.

        “It takes at least a human soul… and a monster soul.”

        “...What?” You ask, breathless. You feel the pulse of your heart in your veins and the sound of it in your ears. That and your breathing takes over your hearing as you barely hear Alphys’s next words.

        “If you two want to go home… You’ll have to take his soul. You’ll have to kill Asgore… … I’m sorry.”

        She sprints off.

        You stare after her, reeling in your thoughts.

        A part of you. A small, small determined part of you hoped that when you found out about the need of seven souls… You hoped that maybe you could be the seventh that was needed that stayed alive. That you could break it but join Frisk and the others on the surface.

        The larger part of you had accepted that you’d give it up if it meant Frisk could continue on.

        However… A monster soul… Would Asgore have to die either way so his soul could be the other part of the key?

        Having already known your soul alone wasn't going to be enough after your talk with Undyne, you didn’t feel that Alphys had lied to you. At least, about this. However, she looked like she’d been tearing herself up over it.

        “Frisk.” You say, still staring down the hallway. “I want to check on Alphys before we go to Asgore.” When you do look at them, they’re practically beaming up at you.

        “I’m glad you don’t not like her.” They sign and you snort. “You looked upset with her earlier.

        “I was. Am?” You shift your backpack. “But I’m not as upset as I was and… I’m not upset about all… this.” You physically gesture to the conversion you just had. “I’m upset about other stuff. But making sure she’s okay comes first.” Frisk nods excitedly and grabs your hand as they take the lead towards the way you two just came from.

        Hopefully Asgore can wait just a little longer for the arrival of the two humans.

Chapter Text

        Though you’d been less than a couple minutes behind, Alphys and Mettaton's powered down body were nowhere to be found.

        You suspected some magic shenanigans. However, when you bumped into a few monsters at the hotel, they mentioned seeing Alphys and Mettaton leaving. Their cooperation was short lived as their excitement over meeting the two human took over.

        When the two of you get a good distance from the resort, carefully making your way back to Alphys's lab, your phone rings.

        You pull it out from the depths of your bag. Frisk makes grabby hands up at you so you slide the pack off your shoulders and hand it to them as you answer.

        "It's-"

        "Hey!" You flinch at Undyne's excited scream. "Me and Paps saw you and the kid on TV!"

        "You watched?" You ask slightly surprised. For some reason you couldn't imagine Undyne sitting still and watching TV.

        "Well , I wasn't planning on it til Papyrus said that you two were gonna be on. He loves that Mettaton guy." She laughs but then goes quiet and clears her voice. She does it a couple more exaggerated times.

        "Undyne?"

        She mumbles something.

        "Uh...What?"

        "The letter!" You jump at the shout. She makes a weak sound and then coughs. "I was, uh, wondering if you passed the letter on to Alphys, while you were with her."

        You blink.

        "Th-the letter…" You send a nervous glance to Frisk, who had a cinna-bun half way in their mouth. The kids immediately starts digging into the pack. "Well, no-"

        "Oh..."

        "Not yet!" You hastily correct. "We're, uh, heading back to the lab now, to give it to her."

        "Oh yeah?" Undyne laughs heartily. "See, I knew I could trust you two not to forget." Thankfully Undyne can't see your sweaty face and nervous glances to Frisk.

        "What're friends for?" You remark, hiding your relief when Frisk produces the letter with triumph. "We'll anyway we're almost there so talk to you later!"

        Hanging up you scoop your bag up and onto your back.

        "Well, I guess now we have multiple reasons to go visit Alphys." Frisk nods happily, waving the letter back and forth as if it was a flag. “C’mon kid.” You nudge them along, staying by their side, slowly continuing on.

        There was something sweet to backtracking through the Hotlands. The first go around it felt a lot more time sensitive to quickly get through as fast as possible. That and every other half hour of puzzles Mettaton would appear to dish out his death wish on you two. You were jumping over lava pits and avoiding well disguised bombs. You were so focused on the venture over to keep Frisk safe from the cliffs that led to molten lava-... actually you think it’d be molten magma since you were still under Mt.Ebott- that you never really looked around.

        It was nice to take a small breather and walk at your own pace with an excited little Frisk leading the way.

        You remind yourself that you need to live up the moments like this as much as possible. You wouldn’t have these chances for much longer.

        You see the lab near miles before you reach it. It was a silver shining beacon that admittedly hurt your eyes a little the longer you looked at it. This was the second time seeing it, and the monstrous size and the way it did not seem to be really apart of Hotland still surprised you. For some reason it made you think of a Twilight Zone episode.

        As you turn onto the final path, you notice a figure already in front of the Lab’s doors. You stop Frisk to watch.

        It’s a Froggit. It hops back and forth a couple times before lowering its head and retreating. When it sees you and Frisk, it’s frowns and jumps a bit and they make their way over to you.

        “Ribbit.” It chirps plainly. Having encountered a few Froggit’s in the ruins and in Snowdin, you weren’t too surprised this one, like the others, didn’t talk to you.

        Frisk makes a noise and nods and you cast a suspicious glance between the two of them.

        “Bye!” Frisk waves the little Froggit along before turning to you.

        “What… was that?” You ask, crossing your arms. The kid tucks the letter under their chin to free up their hands.

        “They said they tried to get into the Lab but the doors were locked.”

        “...You… Understood it?” You asked, even more confused. You don’t remember Frisk having a back and forth conversation with the earlier Froggits. “But it just ribbit’d.”

        “You didn’t hear them?” They ask, now looking confused themselves. “Are you sure?”

        “I’m pretty sure I’d know if a Froggit was talking.” You say, then, hearing your own tone, back peddle. “I mean, have you been able to talk to the other Froggit’s?” Frisk nods. “How?”

        “I...Listen?” You make a face. “All the monsters are like that. If they can’t talk out loud they talk, uh, inside?” Frisk then makes a few half gestures, going back and forth between how to explain. “It’s in my head, kinda, but others can hear it too? I’m… not sure. I guess that's why they understand me.” Frisk shrugs then, showing you one of their closed eyed smiles before hugging Undyne’s letter close to their chest. They run off, bob of brown hair swaying as they hurry to the Lab. You stare after them.

        You’d come across multiple monsters who didn’t verbally speak. There wasn’t always a way for them to convey what they were trying to say to you. Frisk always talked to them as if they knew exactly what the monster was saying and you had thought it was just the kid not wanting to exclude them. Frisk was always like that. Especially when they were so used to that sort of thing happening to them if others didn’t know how to sign. However, being told that they were conversing with the monsters… You don’t know. It seemed everyone talked to everyone in the Underground, even when some didn’t have voices or spoke English. It did kind of explain why every monster understood Frisk even when none of them knew how to sign.

        But why couldn’t you hear them? You were there with Frisk anytime they’d encounter a Froggit. You had not once head one of them speak. Did Frisk have one of these “inside voices” if the monsters understood them?

        You add on another reason to why you and Frisk need to see Alphys. You definitely wanted to talk to her about whatever Frisk was talking about. It seemed there was a lot more to the whole soul thing than just it glowing and showing you how hurt you are. You assumed there was, but you’re too hyper focused on Frisk and crossing the Underground to really branch off to any other subject.

        You come up to Frisk’s side. Immediately you notice the doors haven’t sensed the presence of you two. When the Froggit was denied access you hopped Alphys would see you on her cameras and just let you in. That didn’t seem to be the case.

        “Should we just slide the letter in?” Frisk asks, crouching down and looking up at you.

        “We… could? I wanna check up on her though.” Frisk stands back up and knocks on the door before you can. No one answers. You press your ear up to the door, but the metal is too thick for you to hear anything, if she is making noise. You think back to how the Froggit had been ignored by Alphys. “Actually, slide it under, it might get her attention.” Frisk crouches again, jamming the letter roughly under the thin crack of the doors. You almost stop them, wanting to point out that the letter was important, but it’s already in before you can act. Frisk gives another knock for extra emphasis.

        You here a door inside slide open. Frisk presses their ear to the door, bouncing in place. You had thought earlier the door was thick, but now you realize it had just been quiet because Alphys wasn’t in that main room you saw. You can hear the padding of her feet and them abruptly stop. You hope it’s because she’s seen the letter.

        “O-oh n-no, is that another letter…? I don’t want to open it...” Her voice comes out extremely muffled, especially because it’s layered with a heaviness that only comes from crying. You wince when you hear her sniffle. “C-Can’t I just slide it back out…?”

        “She doesn’t sound okay.” You sign down to Frisk. If you talked now you’d definitely scare Alphys. It was pretty rude to eavesdrop, but you had a feeling she wouldn’t open the door for you two just yet.

        “She’s been crying…” Frisk notes, fingers moving slow. You can tell that hearing the wetness in her voice upsets them a lot.

        “N… No… I can’t keep doing this.” Alphys continues. “I’ll read this one.” You hear rustling, and then a grunt. “I-It’s shut k-kind of strongly, isn’t it? Wait a second...”

        You realize it’s kind of weird how much Alphys talks to herself.

        Also, how on earth had Undyne “strongly” sealed a letter?

        There a long period of silence then, which has you and Frisk exchanging looks. You’re about to knock again, wondering if Alphys had left, when the door buzzes. It’s slides open and you flinch at the sudden appearance of Alphys. Frisk nearly falls back, would’ve too if you hadn’t put your hand on them to steady them.

        “Hey, if this is a joke, it’s-” Alphys’s eyes drift up from her feet and the tightly gripped letter in her hands to meet your wide eyes.

        You stare.

        “Oh my god?” She squeaks out. “Did you write this letter?” Her yellow scales turn a vibrant shade of vermilion and she quickly looks between you and Frisk. “It wasn’t signed, so, I had no idea who could have…”

        Of course Undyne didn’t sign it.

        “Alphys,” You begin, but her eyes land on you and, you think, she decides you were the one who wrote whatever was in the letter.

        “That’s adorable!” You feel your own cheeks going red at her near shout. “And I h-had no idea you, um, wrote or thought that way! E-Especially about me…” She bashfully avoids your embarrassed face, as your quickly realizing what Undyne wrote about.

        You need to clear this up.

        “Alphys,” You start again. “Actually, the letter was, well,”

        “It’s surprising.” She interjects. You can tell she’s not meaning too, as her blush starts to travel down into the collar of her lab coat. “After all the gross stuff I did… I don’t really deserve to be forgiven. Much less… This? And so passionately, too.”

        Damn. Now you don’t know what to say. She’s beating herself up over the whole thing with Mettaton. At first it really upset you and definitely pissed you off but now, after it’s over and no one was really hurt (you were but that doesn’t bother you too much), especially with how apologetic she is, you don’t feel that same spike of anger. In fact, you’re more worried about Alphys tearing herself down about it than anything. Especially when she literally ran away after telling you how to really take down the barrier. Luckily(?) you already planned to give Asgore the final soul he needed, so there really was no issue there. ...But you probably shouldn’t explain it that way to Alphys when you talk to her.

        Alphys takes your hands in hers, the letter dropped.

        “You know what, okay! I’ll do it!” She seems to realize that she’d held your hands and goes red all over again, dropping them in semi-panic. Cute. “I-It’s, um, the least I can do… to make it up to you! Y-yeah! Let’s go on a date!”

        Oh.

        Oh.

        Undyne was going to kill you.

        You open your mouth a couple times, but the words just don’t form. Alphys looks so absolutely ecstatic at the idea of going on a date with you. She said it was a way of making it all up to you and you have had plenty of platonic dates in the past (mostly with Frisk, going to their favorite diner when school was stressing them out). But...

        “Come in and, um, make yourself comfortable? I have to go get dressed!” She pulls you and the kid inside. Once again, it feels like your ears are cupped by hands as you step into the lab. The AC feels nice on your hot face.

Frisk laughs. When you send them a look they laugh harder.

        “Oh!” Alphys spins around and you stiffen. “Are you going t-to wear….that?” She comes back over and appraises your outfit with a persed frown. You feel your face grow even hotter.

        You were still wearing exactly what you’d fallen down in, minus the sweater that was stuffed in the bag on your back. Black scoffed boots that were more grey and white from damage, a long sleeved shirt that you’d rolled the sleeves up on with burned ends and spear holes, and ripped jeans that were definitely not ripped when you left the house. It was a sight, certainly, but since you were fighting for your life you never really thought of your apparel.

        “She looks good in purple.” Frisk quickly signs out of the corner of your eye. Your head snaps down towards them.

        “I-I have a purple dress!” Alphys bursts, soundly even more excited than before.

        “Th-Thats not really-” You try, barely getting your voice loud enough before Alphys turns big eyes onto you and your plea dies on your tongue. Something about her looking so absolutely happy at the idea of dressing you up was a little too much and you definitely think your face is literally steaming at this point. “Do you have shorts I can wear underneath at least?” You ask, giving up any idea of fighting this. Alphys squeaks, fangirling, before she waves her hands at you to tell you to wait. She runs off through a door.

        It takes about an hour for you three to finally get out of the door. Mostly because Frisk also wanted to get dressed up like you, but all of Alphys's clothes were much too large for the nine-year old. With a few hair ties and clips, found via the bottom of your bag and in random pockets, you’re able to make a dress out of your sweater. You also had to use a hair tie or two on your own dress, after realizing Alphys had her clothes custom hemmed to her body type. Luckily the brown shorts were too small for her so with the belt from your jeans they fit pretty well. You also readily admitted that the dress Alphys now wore was beautiful on her. However, when you and Frisk both showered her with compliments she nearly exploded, so in the time being you were holding off.

        You’re outside the lab when Alphys stops and turns to you, nervously rubbing her hands together.

        “Alright, Alphys,” You start, smiling. “Where do you want to go-”

        “W-wait!” Her hands go flying. “Actually, we still can’t start the date yet!” You blink and glance around.

        “Why not?”

        “Umm, I’ve gotta give you items to raise your affection statistic, first! That’ll increase the chance of a successful outcome to the date! Right…?”

        “Oh, Alphys, that’s not really necessary.” You wave your hands around, as if you could tangibly wave away the idea. “I don’t need any gifts or anything!”

        “N-No worries! I’m prepared! I-I’ve been stockpiling gifts in anticipation for a date like this!” She turns slightly as she digs into a pocket of her polka-dotted dress. She presents a jar. “Some metal armor polish!” She looks at your dress and goes orange. “Okay um, maybe you can’t use that… but!” She returns the polish and pulls out a second jar. “I also brought some waterproof cream for your scales! Your, uh…. Scales…” You purse your lips to not laugh as she pulls something else out. “Uh… well…  what about this magical spear repair kit that I… um… Hey, let’s forget about the items! Let’s just start the date!”

        Oh no.

        She’s cute.

        You turn your head away to try and smother your giggling. It was beyond adorable how much Alphys and Undyne obviously liked each other. It was pretty endearing. Especially now when you realize Undyne had asked the little scientist out.

        You realize Alphys has started to nervously sweat, her eyes flickering from you to about anything else around you. You grin and decide to take the lead.

        “Alphys,” You start and she jumps. “Why don’t we go somewhere?” You hold your hand out to her. “We can walk and talk on the way, yeah?” She stares fixedly on your palm. You patiently wait for her to register that you mean you want to hold her hand. When it does click she reached out her shaking paw and you hold it gently.

        “Th-th-that’s a great idea! I know the perfect place too! The garbage dump!” This time you can’t hide your laughing.

        “I love that. The big one in Waterfell, right?” You ask, bumping gently into her. Frisk comes up on your other side, taking your other free hand in both of theirs.

 

        You’re surprised when Alphys just goes straight into the thigh high water, which was more like upper tail level water for her. She wades in, her dress floating up around her as if she was a spotted water lily. She smiles over at you and waves at you to follow. In your stunned moment Frisk slips their hold off of you to jump in. The splash of lukewarm water brings you back and you blush, glad Alphys didn’t notice your ogling.

        There’s a patch of floating wood with the familiar buttercup patch. It seems since the last time you were here, wooden palettes had floated down and been caught on the roots of the floating flowers. Alphys tries to push herself up onto the dry “land”, so you quickly move up behind her and help her up.

        “Th-thanks.” She mumbles, fixing her glasses.

        You also pick Frisk up to get them onto the flowers, before finally getting on yourself.

        Alphys stands up, taking a deep breath as she observes the mass piles of trash around you two. They look even higher.

        You decide to stay seated, however, scooting until you’re in the pile of flowers. Frisk sprawls out for a moment, face first into the buttercups, before popping up onto their feet to take an interest in the trash. You shield your face this time from the splash of water when they jump in.

        “This is where Undyne and I come all the time…” Alphys says as she takes a seat next to you. You fold your arms on your knees. You and her both watch Frisk try and climb one of the smaller piles. “We find all sorts of great stuff here.”

        “I bet. It’s really nice.” You shut your eyes briefly, listening to the white noise of the waterfall and feeling the chilly breeze wafting from Snowdin. “It’s like a cute little corner just for you two.” You crack an eye open to watch Alphys make a little goofy smile at the idea.

        “Y-Yeah…” Her grin turns sour, through. “Oh no.” You sit up a little.

        “What’s wrong?”

        “I c-can’t let her see me on a date with you!”

        “Okay, but I don’t think she’s-” Your head snaps to the side as you hear the sound of water sloshing. It wasn’t natural and it definitely wasn’t Frisk, who was currently a royal of the trash pile. You slowly get to your feet, wondering if it was an encroaching monster. Instead, Alphys squeaks and scurries up to her feet.

        “Oh no, here she comes!” Instead of questioning how Alphys can tell Undyne’s water wading noises from anyone else's, you usher her to the closest trash pile and nudge her behind one of the large trash bins out of sight.

        “Hey! Kid! There you are!” You turn, finding Undyne turning the bend and aggressively wading her way over to you. Moving away from Alphys’s hiding spot, you go to the wood panel closest to the water edge.

        Almost immediately you notice Undyne isn’t in her Royal Guard uniform. She had her crimson bangs out and her ponytail is much looser, along with the fact that she was wearing a black studded leather jacket and jeans. The six foot woman easily steps onto the wood planks to get herself out of the water.

        “I, uh, realized, if you deliver that thing, it might be a bad idea…” You use all the kindness in your body to stop yourself from running a hand down your face. “So I’m gonna do it! Give it to me!” Now her change of clothes made sense.

        “I don’t have it. I already delivered it.” You say, rubbing your neck.

        “Shit, really?” She bites her thumb nail. “Have you seen her since at least? She wasn’t home.” You avoid looking at the shaking garbage pile next to you.

        “Nope.” You pop the p out of nervousness. “Maybe, uh, she went looking for you in Snowdin?” You prompt and Undyne lights up.

        “Of course!” She leaps back into the water and you flinch at the spray. “Thanks kid!” she says, waving over her shoulder. She’s not even halfway before she suddenly turns around and throws a thumbs up your way. “By the way, the dress suits you!”

        Your face burns as she disappears into the distance. As soon as she’s gone, Alphys peaks out and then slowly wades out. You offer your hand to her to get her back up.

        “Oh my god…” She finally mumbles and you run your hand through your hair.

        “Look, Alphys I’m…” You pause, trying to find a way to apologize about not telling her about who really wrote the latter. She stops you, though, putting her small hands up.

        “I’m sorry.” She says instead and you stare.

        “What?” You ask, not sure why she’s apologizing.

        “I-I agreed to this date but… It’s, well, a little obvious, right?” She slowly gains a blush to her cheeks, but her stuttering starts to disappear. “I… I really like her. Undyne. I mean, more than I like other people! I’m sorry.” As soon as she admits her crush out loud, her stuttering returns tenfold. “I j-just figured, y-you know… I-It’d be f-fun to go on like, a cute, kind of… pretend date with you? T-To make you feel better?”

        There’s a pause of silence. Her in mild horror and you in complete confusion. It appears Alphys hadn’t put two and two together. She still didn’t realize Undyne had already confessed to her in the letter.

        “Well, it sounds even worse when I put it like that.” She squeaks. “I’m sorry. I messed up again.” She threads her hands together and it’s only now that you really notice how red and puffy her eyes are. The frames of her glasses hide it pretty well, but they stand out against her blushing. “Undyne’s the person I. Um… Really want to go on a date with.” She sighs and sits down in the flowers, curling her legs up and leaning on her knees. She looked completely worn out. “But, I mean… She’s way out of my league.” She flinches at her own words and looks up to you. “N-Not that you aren’t, um, cool! B-but… Undyne…”

        You sit down next to her, bumping shoulders.

        “But Undyne’s really cool.” You say and Alphys nods fast.

        “She’s so confident… And strong… And funny…” Her small smile wilts. “And I’m just a nobody. A fraud. I’m the royal scientist, but… All I’ve ever done is hurt people. I’ve told her so many lies, she thinks I’m…” She finally meets your eyes and there’s tears in them. “She think I’m a lot cooler than I actually am. If she gets close to me, she’ll… She’ll find out the truth about me… What should I do?” It’s a sentence that ends quiet.

        “Tell her the truth.” You say almost immediately.

        “But if I tell her that, she’ll hate me! Isn’t it better this way? To live a lie where both people are happy rather than the truth where neither of us are?” You shake your head and then lean gently on her side. She curls up more on herself. “They say ‘be yourself’, but I don’t really like who ‘myself’ is. I-”

        “I like you.” It slips out, cutting her off. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

        However, it doesn’t look like she’s going to continue, as she’s gaping at you now in shock.

        “There’s no way she’ll hate you.” You state confidently instead. “You… Said a lot about yourself that I don’t really agree with, Alphys.” She stiffens a bit at that admission but you continue. “I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit. You’re a brilliant scientist. Anyone who can build such an amazing robot is extremely cool in my book. Plus, you were really cool when you helped me and Frisk.”

        “But I…” She starts and you shake your head.

        “I know.” You say. “I know about what really happened. But that doesn’t change much.” You also curl your legs up and look over to Frisk, who was digging through the trash like any normal nine-year old. “The kid thinks you’re really cool too. They were so excited to meet you. And, before you say it, neither of us were disappointed when we did.”

        “I don’t deserve this…” Alphys mumbles, sniffling. You gently reach an arm around her shoulders and pull her into a side hug.

        “Undyne’s badass, but I don’t think she’s out of your league at all. I think when you tell her the truth, it'll be fine. I’m positive she likes you, for you, not for whatever lie you made up.”  Alphys takes her glasses off to rub at her eyes.

        “I…” she sighs. “Every day I’m scared… Scared what will happen if people learn the truth on their own. They’ll all get hurt because of me… But how can I tell Undyne the tr...truth? I d-don’t have the confidence… I’m going to mess it up! How can I practice?” You cock your head to the side, resting it on the top of hers for a quiet moment. You squeeze her gently, feeling she needed a good hug.

        “You could practice with me.” You say, moving off her so you can look at her face and see what she’s thinking.

        The float rocks and you watch Frisk pull their soaked form onto the wood, absolutely beaming at the both of you.

        “Roleplay!” The sign quickly and Alphys splutters.

        “R-Roleplay?” Then, she snorts and covers her mouth. “That actually sounds kind of fun!” When you stand up you offer a hand to Alphys, pulling her up with you. She fixes her dress at the same time you repoof your ass, dusty off a buttercup petal or two.

        “Alright. I’ll be Undyne then.” You slip one of the hairbands bunching your dress off and use it to tie up your hair as best you can to match Undyne’s usual slicked back hairdo. You then strike a pose as if you had half the confidence Undyne had. Alphys snorts again. Frisk jumps up and down, waving about so the two of you will look at them.

“Then I’ll be my sister!” They announce. Then they… are they pretending to swing a baseball bat?

“R-Right…” Alphys says. She clears her throat then. She looks you dead in the eye. “H-Hi Undyne… H-how are you doing today?”

        “Hey Alphys!” You say, trying to simultaneously roughen up your voice and sound cooler. “I’m doing fine.” Alphys definitely finds your impression horrible, as she can’t stop giggling. You definitely come off more pirate than Undyne.

        “Glad to hear it!” Her laughter dies slowly and he smile wavers. “Uhhh, so I’d like to, um, talk to you about something.”

        “You can do it.” Frisk signs, posing like some comic super hero. “I believe in you!”

        “What’s up, Alphys?” You ask, trying to stay serious but failing as you watch Frisk pretend to be you.

        “Umm, you see… I… I… I… I h-haven’t been exactly truthful w-w-with you… Y… you see, I… I…” She looks about ready to pass out.

        “Hey, Alphys, It’s okay if you need to stop.” But, instead, it seems to fire her up more and she wildly shakes her head.

        “Oh! Forget it! Undyne! I-I want to tell you how I feel!” From your side you hear the water churning again. You glance over only to blanch when you see none other than Undyne making her way over.

        “Uh, Alphys,” You try, not wanting her to embarrass herself, but she seems too far gone.

        “Y-You’re so brave, Undyne, a-and s-strong a-and nice. Y-you always listen t-to me when I t-talk about n-n-nerdy stuff. Y-you always d-d-do your best to m-make me f-f-feel special...L-like t-telling me that y-you’ll b-beat up anyone that g-gets in my way… Undyne!” She screams the others name.

        You stare at Undyne who’s wide eyed and beyond confused. She looks between you and the very loud rambling Alphys.

        “I can’t take this any longer! I’m madly in love with you! Hold me, Undyne! Hold me!”

        You cover you face with your hands.

        “What did you just say?” Undyne finally speaks up. Alphys shrill scream cracks, turning to cringe filled silence. Slowly, she turns her head towards you, who’s peeking through their fingers, and looks just beyond to see Undyne.

        “U-Undyne!” Alphys squeaks in such a high pitch you wonder if the dog guards in Snowdin heard her. “I...Was...Just…” You can practically see the smoke coming from her face.

        “Hey, woah, wait a second!” Undyne climbs onto the pile of wood and Alphys backs up. “Your outfit’s really cute! You’re both dressed up in cute clothes. What’s the occasion?” Undyne looks between the two of you a couple times, since neither of you can really think of an explanation. Eventually, her big smile starts to die. “Wait…” For your own safety you start taking small steps away from the guard. “Are you two… On a date?”

        “Uhhh…” Alphys looks at your head shaking. “Yes!”

        Oh no.

        Undyne’s neck makes a pop as she snaps it to look down at you.

        “Really?” Undyne asks slowly. You lower your arms to signal surrender.

        “I mean, uhhh no!” Alphys quickly corrects, but then she looks at you again. “I mean, we were… I mean, actually we were only romantically roleplaying as you!”

        “What?”

        You cover your face again. You can feel your ears burning.

        “I mean!” Alphys is scrambling. At that moment you wanted to jump into the waterfall. “I mean… Undyne I… I’ve been lying to you!”

        You groan and crouch down, wanting to disappear. You feel Frisk pat your back.

        “What?” You feel bad for Undyne, who’s sounding more and more bewildered. “About what?”

        You peak through your fingers to watch Alphys.

        “About… Well… Everything!” She creeps closer to Undyne. “I told you that seaweed was like… scientifically important. Really, I just… I just use it to make ice cream.” She takes another step. “And those human history books I keep reading… Those are just dorky comic books!” And another. “And the history movies… those are just, uh, anime! They aren’t real!” And another. “And that time I told you I was busy with work on the phone… I was just eating frozen yogurt in my pajamas! That time I-”

        “Alphys.” Undyne sets her hands on Alphys's shoulders. You lower your hands so you can see the fond smile the guards is giving the scientist.

        “I… I just wanted to impress you!” She admits. “I just wanted you to think I was smart and cool. That I wasn’t some… nerdy loser.”

        “Alphys.” Undyne repeats again, this time raising her hands to cup Alphys’s face. She gently pets her head, as if she was pulling back hair.

        “Undyne I… I really think you’re neat, ok…?” Undyne kneels, hugging Alphys close and you can’t help the smile that bubbles up on your lips. As much as it had started as a garbage fire, it definitely turned out-

        Undyne picks up Alphys.

        Undyne, with a grunt and a spin, fucking slings Alphys through the air.

        She lands in a trash pile with a crash and a musical ditty probably from some old toy.

        You stare in complete horror.

        “Alphys!” Undyne shouts towards the trash pile. “I… Think you’re neat, too, I guess. But, you’ve gotta realize...Most of what you said really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care if you’re watching kid cartoons or reading history books. To me, all of that stuff is just nerdy crap! What I like about you is that you’re passionate! You’re analytical! It doesn’t matter what it is! You care about it! 100-percent! At maximum power!.... So, you don’t have to lie to me. I don’t want you to have to lie to anyone anymore. Alphys, I want to help you become happy with who you are! And I know just the training you need to do that!”

        There’s rustling from the garbage pile and you turn, still gawking in mild horror, so see the sheen of Alphys’s glasses poke up.

        “Y-You’re going to… t-train me?” Undyne laughs at that and then-

        The trash pile shakes, the water sloshes and becomes rougher. You put one hand to the wood to balance yourself, the other going out to wrap around Frisk.

        “NYEH HEH HEH!” A figure from nowhere, maybe from the cave ceiling itself, drops. It lands in the water, creating a massive wave that soaks everything in the area, including the four of you. The looming being slowly stands to its full height and you nearly scream at the sight of a booty shorts wearing Papyrus.

        “Nah, I’m gonna get Papyrus to do it.

        “GET THOSE BONES SHAKING!” He’s jogging in place, arms pumping as if he's not in water. Though, you guess to him, who’s even taller than Undyne, it really was more ankle deep than thigh deep like it was for you. “IT’S TIME TO JOG 100 LAPS, HOOTING ABOUT HOW GREAT WE ARE!” He then pauses briefly, turning to you and Frisk. “GREETINGS SMALL AND LARGE HUMANS! WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN? IT’LL MAKE YOU FEEL ALMOST AS GREAT AS I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS!”

        “U-Um… I’m good. Already worked out… today.” The skeleton nods, approving.

        “AH, OF COURSE! I WOULD EXPECT NOTHING LEFT FROM THE LARGE HUMAN!” You don’t know what that means but you decide to take it as you’ve met his high expectations.

        Undyne looks to Alphys’s hiding spot. Or, where she threw her. “Ready? I’m about to start the timer.”

        “U-Undyne,” Alphys basically pleads. However, she stops, takes a deep breath, and then stands up- why… is she in a trash can? “I’ll do my best!”

        “NYEH HEH! FORWARD, ALPHYS!” Papyrus picks up Alphys, trashcan and all, and takes off at a disturbingly fast pace. You stare after them, smothering the perturbed look that crossed your face.

        As soon as Papyrus’s voice finally dies away, Undyne whips around to you. You flinch, wondering if she was upset that you had gone on a date with Alphys after all.

        Instead, she looks panicked.

        “Oh my god!” She screams, running a webbed hand through her hair, tugging at her ponytail. “She was kidding, right!?” She takes a heavy step your way. You pull yourself up to your feet, your legs upset you’d stayed crouched for so long. “Those cartoons… those comics. Those are still real, right?” She looks practically crazed. “Anime’s real, right!?”

        In the background, you start hearing the faint upbeat song that haunted you throughout Waterfell the first time you went through. The same song you died to.

        “Animes super real!” You blurt.

        “Ha!” Undyne barks as you deflate. “I knew it! Gigantic swords! Magical princesses! Here I come!”

        Your friends are... Extremely weird.

        … Oh.

        Your friends…?

        “Uhh, thanks for taking care of Alphys.” You look up and Undyne’s smiling, seeming to have come back down from wherever the hell she’d just been. “I didn’t get to say what I wanted to, but… Things seem like they’re going to get better for her.” She punches your arm. “Well, I gotta go catch up with them! Later!” She punches your arm again, gives Frisk’s head a single pat, and then launches into the water to run after them.

        “I knew they could do it.” Frisk signs and you cast them a look.

        “You still pretending to be me?” They give a grin and you snort. “You make me sound like some cheesy cartoon hero.”

        “Well… you always encourage me. And you are like a hero!” They beam at you and you try not to get too extremely happy.

        “Let’s head back to Alphys’s so I can return her dress. I don’t want to mess it up.”

        Just as you squat to slip yourself safely into the water, your eyes catch the bright buttercups and you can’t help yourself. You reach over and pick two, handing one to Frisk and then tuck the other behind your ear. Frisk thanks you and then slides the flower into the front of their makeshift sweater dress.

        Climbing into the water, you reach out and pull Frisk into your arms. You make your way back through the watery cavern, Frisk humming an unknown tune brokenly into your ear, their little feet kick back and forth against your sides.

        When you get near the entrance, where you vividly remember fighting a mad dummy, your phone rings. This time you had socked it away in a closer pocket on the outside of your bag, so you’re able to reach it fairly easily.

        “Hello?”

        “IF IT ISN’T MY GOOD FRIEND, WHO TRUSTS ME.” That’s probably the sketchiest first sentence anyone has ever said to you. “THIS IS PAPYRUS. YOUR ALSO MUTUAL FRIEND. ALPHYS AND I FINISHED OUR TRAINING EARLY… VERY EARLY. SO I SENT HER HOME. VERY HOME. UH… NOW I FEEL STRONGLY, AND FOR NO APPARENT REASON, THAT YOU SHOULD ALSO GO… THERE. TO HER. LAB… HOUSE. I HAVE ONLY GOOD FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.” He coughs. “GOOD LUCK!” He hands up before you can say anything.

        “So.” You mumble, putting the phone away. Frisk wiggles from your grasp when you come to the one of the glowing stars. They run their hands through it, like always. You take that moment to gather your dress up and wring water out of it. It stopped just above your knees, which was just long enough to get a good amount of it wet.

        “I wonder what happened.” They sign. They watch you for a moment and then copy you and wring water from their (your) sweater.

        “I would’ve thought she got tired but… I don’t know. Something about how Papyrus felt the need to call makes me worry a little.”

        “You always worry.”

        “My worry’s never been misplaced, though.” You retaliate. Then you reach out for their hand. “Come on, let’s go make sure our friend’s okay.”

        Frisk fixes the flower on their front before taking your hand.

Chapter Text

        Unlike when you arrived at the Lab earlier, the doors slide open as soon as you come close. You peak in, trying to spot Alphys before you just wander into her home, but you can’t catch sight of her.

        “Alphys?” You call out, hesitantly stepping inside. The doors snap shut behind you. Frisk rushes ahead while you take your time to look around. Though nothing looks out of the ordinary, it definitely feels different than when you were trying on dresses.

        “Mn.” Frisks picks something up from the floor and then brandishes it towards you. You take a couple of looks around before hurrying over.

        “Is that a letter?”

        “Alphys signed it.” Frisk signs. Instead of reading it themselves they hand it to you. It’s hard to make out because of her handwriting, but you try your best.

        “ “Hey. Thanks for your help back there. You guys… Your support really means a lot to me. But… As difficult as it is to say this… You guys alone can’t magically make my own problems go away. I want to be a better person. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. And for that to happen, I have to be able to face my own mistakes. I’m going to start doing that now. I want to be clear. This isn’t anyone else's problem but mine. But if you don’t ever hear from me again… If you want to know ‘the truth’. Enter the door north of this note. You all at least deserve to know what I did.” ” You scan the letter over a second time before looking up to face the open doorway mentioned. It’s pitch black compared to her lit up space. You notice it’s the door you originally thought was a bathroom.

        “Is Alphys okay?” Frisk asks. For some reason it’s only then that you realize their modifying the sign for scientist to make Alphys’s personalized name.

        “I don’t know.” You answer honestly. You tuck the note into your bag. “Whatever’s going on… It starts in there.” You feel Frisk hug your side, knotting their hands in the skirt of your dress. Their reaction leaves a bad taste in your mouth. “Are you sure you want to come with me?” You ask gently, hugging them to your hip. “I can drop you off at Paps and Sans's and I can go alone.”

        “No I…” They shake their head. “I’m worried about Alphys. And I have you so it’ll be okay.

        “Alright kid.” You ruffle their hair and then push forward.

        The doorway leads to a small elevator, like the ones you’d used around the rest of Hotland. There’s a down-arrow button, nothing else. However, you don’t get a chance to even press it, as the doors shut immediately and the elevator starts moving. That was… weird and unsettling.

        The lights start to flicker and you swallow nervously.

        There's a bump and you feel the elevator violently shift. Frisk whimpers and practically crawls into your arms.

        The normal tremor of the elevator escalates to a metal grinding shake.

        The lights go out, then they start flashing red.

        “Warning! Warning!” The robotic voice nearly screams at you, shrill and echoing in the small space. “Elevator losing power!”

        Frisk buries their face in your hair.

        “Em tether stability lost! Altitude dropping!”

        You feel the pit of your stomach rise up into you chest, as if you were on a roller coaster sheer drop. You slide down to the floor as you feel weightlessness.

        All you can think about is holding Frisk.

        You black out.

 

        When you gain consciousness you go for about a minute or two trying to muster up enough strength to peel your eyes open, but eventually realize they are open, it’s just pitch black. Your head throbs with pain and a crash-induced headache. You numbly reach around you, the first real thought being to find your sibling.

        The doors of the elevator open with a soft chime directly in front of your sideways form. You’re laying in the middle of the elevator. A silhouette is in the middle of the dim light spilling in. You know it’s Frisk, you’d recognize their shadow anywhere. However, there's…. Something wrong.

        They look over their shoulder.

        Who is that?

        They slowly raise their hand into the light, the shadow cascading across your face. You see the glint of their red eye.

        “Are you okay?

        You blink.

        Frisk turns fully around and kneels at your side. You hum in acknowledgement, slowly pulling yourself up. You do a brief injury check, glad you can only find forming bruises instead of broken bones.

        “Are you okay?” You ask, finally finding your voice. They nod, but you can see the pursed frown on their face. You can tell they were scared. You pull them close, kissing their forehead. You clamber to your feet. “Stay close.” You insist. Frisk nods, but then moves to the side of the elevator and grabs… Your bag? It must’ve come off you in the fall. You re-equip your bag.

        Stepping out of the elevator sends a chill of fear through you.

        It appears to be set at the end of a very dark hallway. None of the lights are on, but your eyes seemed to have adjusted to it. There’s a smell of something unmistakably old, like mildew or chipped plaster. That, and the dust seemed to have been reawakened by the crash of the elevator, as it was a cloud in the air, making it harder to breathe.

        Your boots click on the tiles of the hall.

        The silence is nearly unbearable.

        There was always some kind of background white noise wherever you went, but down here there was nothing. There was such a void of noise that the lack of it was almost tangibly enclosing on you. Though the hall was wide, you start to feel a sense of claustrophobia creeping into your chest.

        You don’t notice the panel on the wall until it makes a noise and scares the shit out of you. It lights up, the green text casting an unnerving glow across your face. The words glitch about, flickering in and out of focus. You read it out loud for the kid.

        “ “Entry number one. This is it… Time to do what the King has asked me to do. I will create the power to free us all. I will unleash the power of the soul.” ” As soon as you finish, you jump as a panel a few feet down the wall pops alive. You slowly creep towards it.

        “ “Entry number two. The barrier is locked by soul power… Unfortunately, this power cannot be recreated artificially. Soul power can only be derived from what was once living. So, to create more, we will have to use what we have now… The souls of monsters.” ”

        Your heart drops. A bad feels crawls across your skin in the form of goosebumps. Another panel comes alive next to you.

        “ “Entry number three. But extracting a soul from a living monster would require incredible power… Besides being impractical, doing so would instantly destroy the soul’s host. And, unlike the persistent souls of humans… The souls of most monsters disappear immediately upon death. If only I could make a monsters soul last-” ”

        Something cracks down the hall and you jump, pushing Frisk behind you. You hold your breath, straining your ears to listen out for whatever you just heard. You count to ten before you shakily let out your breath and slowly move to the next panel.

        You felt eyes on your back as you read.

        “ “Entry number five. I’ve done it. Using the blueprints, I’ve extracted it from the human souls. I believe this is what gives their souls the strength to persist after death… The will to keep living… The resolve to change fate. Let’s call this power "determination”.” ”

        The screen buzzes and then pops. Its shuts down and you blink a couple times to readjust your eyes to the darkness.

        You feel sick.

        The corridor takes a sharp turn then, becoming so tiny that you have to walk with Frisk directly behind you instead of at your side. They refuse to let go of your skirt and you can’t blame them. This place is terrifying.

        You come to an open room. It’s bathed partly in a soft dim yellow light. Seeing the star in the midst of the scary, perhaps abandoned part of the lab, is an act of Kindness.

        Another panel comes to life across the room. You make a face at it and instead move to the vending machine, peering inside. It looks to only be stockpiled with a single type of chip. You wonder how long it’s been sitting here.

        There’s a large door in the middle of the room, but it looks as broken down and unpowered as just about everything else you’ve seen. The panel is smaller than the ones you were reading earlier. It’s more of a name plate, reading “Power Room”, referring to the large bulky doors.

        You suddenly step on something crinkly. Looking down, you realize it’s a note that you would’ve completely missed. You bring it up to the green glow of the panel, but because of the handwriting and the darkness you can only make out a few words. “Elevator”, “lost power”, and “enter the center door”.

        Frisk taps your leg to get your attention.

        “The right side is closed off. There’s no power in the door.” You nod, looking around.

        “I guess it’s to the left.”

        It’s at this point that the suffocating silence dies into a soft white noise. You’re not sure where it’s coming from, or why you couldn’t hear it earlier. It’s a thrum of something. Machine, maybe. It echoes down the new hallway that you can only see a couple of feet down before the darkness becomes too much.

        Frisk stops at another panel and patiently waits for you to read.

        “ “Entry number six. Asgore asked everyone outside the city for the monsters that had “fallen down.” Their bodies came in today. They’re still comatose… and soon, they’ll all turn into dust. But what happens if I inject “determination” into them? If their souls persist after they perish, then… Freedom might be closer than we all thought.” ” You back up from the panel and swallow.

        What the hell did Alphys do?

        You push through the darkness, feeling the temperature suddenly take a drastic drop. You wished you were in something less revealing. You didn’t mind dresses too much but being in such unnerving place… At least Frisk had your sweater on top of their onesie.

        The next room now is just as dark, but there's a type of… fog? Smoke? You’re not exactly sure what it is, but it creates movement in the dark as you walk. It almost stops you from noticing the metal beds.

        Almost.

        They look more like operating tables, set up in the room too close together. The room has a metallic scent that you can practically taste on your tongue.

        Frisk nudges you towards the wall, following the glowing light of another screen. You follow but your eyes don’t stop flickering around you.

        “ “Number nine.” ” You say.

        “We must’ve missed some.” Frisk signs. You had to get them to sign it twice, as you could barely see their hands.

        “That, or they’re not all hanging up in order.” You pull Frisk close. “ “Things aren’t going well. None of the bodies have turned into dust, so I can’t get the souls. I told the families that I would give them the dust back for the funerals. People are starting to ask me what’s happening. What do I do?” ”

        “I don’t like this place.” Frisk says before they press their face against your hip. You nod. You look around again and take a shaky breath.

        You felt like someone was watching you. You couldn’t shake the feeling. Now with the smoke tricking you into thinking there was something moving--

        You needed to find Alphys and get the hell out of this place.

        At the end of the room are a row of sinks, along with two large bookcases, and the way forward. However, you’re drawn to the files.

        You trace your fingers over the few book spines and over the pages of the tightly packed away files. Your hand comes back coated in dust and you make a face. None of the books you pull out have titles and when you open them they’re written in a language you don’t know. You try to slide some of the files out, but they’ve been packed together for so long you think the paper has glued itself together.

        You turn to the sinks, deciding to wash your hands. With the smell of mildew lingering in the air, you didn’t want to write off the idea of mold. OR worse magic mold.

        The first two faucets turn, but nothing comes out. When you try the third the faucet it shudders.

        Frisk hugs you tighter and your brows knit.

        “Frisk what’s-”

        The faucet shudders again but this time, something does come out. It’s not water, though. It falls out like a string of white, thickly clotted honey. Once the string hits the sink it suddenly expands. You quickly back away. The… thing slowly pulls itself onto the rim of the sink and then pulls itself out.

        And your soul is ripped from your chest.

        You feel physically sick at the… thing you’re looking at.

        What is it?

        It’s a ball of a withering mass that beats like a weak heart. The multiple mouths on it open and close in silent screams.

        Maybe it is screaming.

        Frisk whimpers, hiding behind you. You snap out of your horror to numbly reach for your bat. When you pull it out, it knocks against one of your other pockets and your phone comes tumbling.

        The screen lights up the room and blinds you. For a moment you think you accidentally attacked your phone and it called for help, because you can hear someone talking, but the more you listen… It’s a mass of voices through the receiver.

        Frisk swipes the phone, hugging it closely to them as they move back behind you.

        “Come join the fun.”

        It spoke.

        The wheezing form on the ground, that was gasping for multiple breaths all at the same time from it’s many mouths, spoke.

        “No.” You say. It’s a pathetic answer. Your mind was racing and you couldn’t think of anything else. Nothing else would come out.

        Your green soul shook.

        You wanted to help this creature. But you were too terrified and rooted in spot to move near it.

        “Oh well.” It’s a different voice, a different mouth that speaks to you.

        Then it fades with the thick fog in the room.

        Your soul returns uneasily.

        Frisk tentatively moves around you, glances back and forth, and then reaches into the sink the… monster(?) came from. They present a small red key to you.

        “There’s a keyhole over there.” Frisk looks you over, makes a face, and then turns the phone on to use as a flashlight. They light up the small room to show you and you nod numbly.

        You let them do it.

        There's a noise of something activating. Having done a number of puzzles in the Underground you assume the right side has been powered up and is now unlocked. When Frisk returns to you they scoop up your hand and squeeze it gently.

        You take a deep breath.

 

        This first thing you find down the right side are more digital notes. You think it’s an odd way to keep track of such a horrible sounding experiment by mounting the evidence on walls.

        “ “Entry twelve. Nothing is happening I don’t know what to do. I’ll just keep injecting everything with “determination” . I want this to work.” ”

        Frisk lights up the end of the hallway with the phone light. You hadn’t pulled it out earlier since your eyes had adjusted, letting you see more things around you than with a light that cut through everything. However, Frisk looked to feel calmer with it in their hands.

        “ “Entry thirteen. One of the bodies opened its eyes.” ”

        The next room is just… beds. Maybe twenty beds all spread out. Bed sheets tucked in and pillows fluffed as if someone was about to walk in and use them.

        The absence of life is nearly palpable.

        Seeing the empty beds fills you with sorrow.

        Frisk walks ahead of you. You watch them visit every bed, either searching for something or… thinking about what happened.

        Or maybe that was just you.

        You couldn’t look at the beds for much longer. Ideas of victims of this “Falling Down” reminded you of when you’d read about victims of great sicknesses, like plagues. You thought about what horrors those monsters must’ve faced, being laid out in these beds. Perhaps they were in a comatose, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t still feel. You’d heard of coma patients being sentient but unable to move or work their bodies. Laying there as a scientist, one they’d probably known, heard about, injected them with some kind of… you don’t know what “determination” could mean. You knew the word, but not in any relevance to an actual substance. Whatever it is, this all was, it went wrong.

        Something bad happened.

        But you guess that part was obvious.

        “ “Entry number fourteen. Everyone that had fallen down… Has woken up. They’re all walking around and talking like nothing is wrong. I thought they were goners…?” ”

        You wonder if you should be reading these out loud anymore.

        You wonder if Frisk has gone through this place before, all by themselves.

        You wonder where Frisk is.

        “Frisk?” You call when you realize they haven’t returned back to your side. You turn around, expecting to see the light of the phone…

        But there’s only darkness.

        “Frisk!” You yell out, fear immediately choking off your voice.

        You go to run, but stop when you see there’s two different ways they could’ve gone. Since you don’t recall seeing them enter the door closer to you out of the corner of your eye while reading, you dart towards the one farther away.

        It’s a greenhouse. Or, really just a room with tables and tables of plants.

        More specifically buttercups.

        “Frisk?”

        The flowers line the wall, tightly clustered together, multiple outgrowing their pots. It’s more of a mass of plant life than just simple flowers, as the roots have joined together in some places and they’ve practically grown on top one another.

        You wonder how they’ve surveyed in the dark for so long.

        Something moves out of the corner of your eye and when you turn your head you scream at the sight of a person close enough to touch you.

        You reflexively swing your bat and flinch when glass explodes out at impact.

        It had been a mirror.

        You saw your own reflection.

        It wasn’t a mirror now, just a rough concrete wall with jagged piece of glass hanging around. You were covered in fine mirror shards, along with the floor.

        You heave an uneven breath, barely able to suck oxygen into your lungs.

        You’re shaking.

        The next panel on the wall you come to, you don’t read out loud.

        

Entry number seven. We’ll need a vessel to wield the monster souls when the time comes. After all, a monster cannot absorb the souls of other monsters. Just as a human cannot absorb a human soul… So then… What about something that’s neither human nor monster?

        

        You decidedly hate the mirrors. For some reason they’re peppered along the wall, spaced out oddly from one another. You avoid looking into them, knowing your eyes will play a trick on you and make you see something that isn’t there.

        For instance, you keep thinking you see one of the golden flowers behind you, instead of on the tables.

        

Entry number ten. Experiments on the vessel are a failure. It doesn't seem to be any different from the control cases. Whatever. They’re a hassle to work with anyway. The seeds just stick to you and won’t let go…

        

        “Frisk!” You call again.

        Your starting to get the feeling you’ve gone the wrong way.

        When you come up to a row of the large mirrors, covering up a large section of the wall, you see another doorway. Maybe the kid went through there?

        You can’t help but look into the mirror. It’s practically impossible not too. It’s only a glance, but you freeze up when you see something. You look again to see that, yes,

there really is something behind you.

        You spin around, your soul flying out mid turn. You brandish your bat towards the large bird monster(?).

        It’s a tall, thin creature. It looms over you, single large, bulging eye staring through you, neck bent at a broken angle as it’s spine pushes against the high ceiling.

        When it opens it’s beak an unnatural, blood curdling scream bursts out. You cover your ears.

        Voice’s layered on voice’s wail.

        Fear.

       Confusion.

        Pain.

        Your soul is bombarded with emotions that aren’t yours, vague feelings of sense memories you don’t have.

        The monster doesn’t stop screaming, but you hear it talking to you. A voice that isn’t coming through in your ears but… into your soul.

        You hear it’s “inside” voice.

        “Why?”

        “I wanna go home!”

        “Help me.”

        Tears that aren’t yours fill your eyes.

        Maybe they are yours.

        Your green soul starts trembling.

        “I’m sorry.” It spills from your lips. “I’m so sorry. I can’t help you.”

        Tears fall. Your soul starts glowing, the green reflecting in the mirrors and lighting up the entire room.

        “I’m so sorry.” You repeat, unable to say anything else. The bird doesn’t attack you, just like the other monster you encountered. Instead it shuts it’s beak, it’s screams ceasing. It stares and then slowly leans closer. When it blinks it’s eyelashes touch your nose.

        “It’s warm.”

        “Someone understands.”

        “This feels nice.”

        When it leans away your shaking soul returns to your chest. When the room goes dark and your eye readjust, the creature is gone.

        You can still feel your soul, as if it’s just on the surface. Usually when it returned it’d just… become apart of you again. Now, you were hyper aware of the feel of it. It pulsed with a nervous energy. Something was wrong.

        But you guess that part was obvious.

        After checking the last room, a tiny place with a tiny keyhole for a blue key, you race back to the room of beds and take the only path left. It’s split from there. You go right.

        Almost immediately you hit a dead end.

        There's a large wall of churning fans, all on high speed. They seem to be exhaust fans, sucking in as much of the fog you’d seen earlier into them. The only thing in there is another panel.

        

Entry number eleven. Now that Mettaton’s made it big, he never talks to me anymore… Except to ask when I’m going to finish his body. But I’m afraid if I finish his body, he won’t need me anymore… Then we’ll never be friends ever again. … Not to mention, every time I try to work on it, I just get really sweaty…

        

        At least that solidified that Alphys was the one writing all of these notes. Not like you had anyone else in mind that could.

        You leave and head down the other hallway.

        

Entry number fifteen. Seems like this research was a dead end… But at least we got a happy ending out of it…? I sent the souls and the vessel back to Asgore and I called all of the families and told them everyone’s alive. I’ll send everyone back tomorrow. :)

        

“Frisk! Where’d you run off to kid!?”

        

Entry number Sixteen. no No NO NO NO NO NO.

        

        There’s another room that branches off, but all you can make out at the end of it is a single bathtub with it’s curtain pushed to the side. You ignore it.

        The next room you come across is absolutely humongous. Some sort of… oversized piece of machine hangs in the middle over a chasm. It looks like giant shears with industrial tubing holding it up. The room’s dark, though, darker than the other ones so far probably because of just how big the space was. Instead of trying to navigate around the hole, you go to a door on your right.

        “Frisk!”

        A wave of relief washes over you, for a moment it even washes away your fears of the secret lab.

        Frisk is sitting in front of a large boxy TV. It’s bright light fills the entire room and Frisk’s shadow stretches across the floor. There are shelves of VHS tapes on either side, and another one of those panels and keyholes. You ignore both to get closer.

        “Frisk.” You try again, but they don’t respond or even seem to hear you. You look to see what they’re watching.

        The TV shows a hand recorded video. Someone’s shakily filming a patch of yellow flowers. When they finally pull the camera up, you’re shown a small human child sitting on a bench with more potted flowers. They’re staring off into space, zoning out.

        “Howdy, Chara!” The kid jumps, making a noise of surprise. He looks to be maybe eleven, with big red eyes and red cheeks. He frowns at whoever is filming, tucking a strand of his chestnut brown hair behind his ear. It goes to about his shoulders in a slightly disheveled mess.

        “Asriel, what’re you doing?” he asks.

        “Smile for the camera!” The boy makes a confused look and then gives a small smile.

        “Ha, this time I got you!” Asriel says. “I left the cap on… on purpose! Now you’re smiling for noooo reason!” Chara stares for a moment before curling in on himself as he laughs. “H-Hey, what’s so funny?”

        “The caps not even on.” Chara says. Asriel turns the camera around, checking for himself. You see a small goat child, who looks almost exactly like Toriel. They frown at the camera.

        “Oh. Darn it.” The camera lowers and all you can see is the under of a furry chin. He looks at where Chara was. “I almost got you…”

        “Hey, As, do you remember the time Dad got sick?” Chara asks. Asirel cocks his head to the side, but eventually nods.

        “Yeah, I remember. When we tried to make butterscotch pie for Dad, right? The recipe asked for two cups of butter… But we accidentally put in buttercups instead. Those flowers got him really sick.” He frowns and looks down at the camera. “I felt so bad. We made Mom really upset. I should have laughed it off, like you did…”

        You hear something gritty being grinded off screen and then the pat of two feet hitting the ground. Asriel looks back up to Chara. He makes a confused face.

        “Um, Chara? Where are you going with that? Why’d you ask about-”

        “Hey, turn of the camera As.”

        “What? Oh…” He looks back down and then, with a smile, the screen goes black.

        You stand in silence as the tape pops out of the VHS.

        “Frisk…” You say quietly. Finally they turn around. They have tears running down their face, but they have no expression. They pull themselves up to their feet and then slowly walk over to you, burying their face into your gut and hugging you as tightly as they can. Not knowing what you just watched or why the video sits so badly with you, you kneel down so you can give them a proper big sister hug.

        “Sis.” They mumble, barely audible. They pull back, scrubbing their small fists against their eyes. They then sign, “Don’t worry, it’s not my tears.

        As they sign, you hear a small voice saying what their signing.

        “Whose are they?’ You find yourself asking. Frisk looks at their feet for a long time.

        “Chara’s.” They spell out.

        Chara, the one from the tape you two just watched? You had a feeling… they didn’t just mean that they were simply being empathetic. Unless… something happened to that little boy that Frisk knew about?

        “Can you keep going?” You ask gently, softly cupping their cheek and wiping any remaining tears away. They nod, sniffling. “Please don’t leave my side.”

        “Sorry. I…” Their brow furrows. “I didn’t realize I ran off.” They looked more confused at their confession.

        You take their hand in your free one, preferring to keep your bat at the ready just in case any of the monsters did decide to attack you. You check the screen on the wall before you leave.

        

Entry number four. I’ve been researching humans to see if I can find any info about their souls. I ended up snooping around the castle… And found these weird tapes. I don’t feel like Asgore’s watched them… I don’t think he should after the incident involving his kids.

        

        You leave the TV room and pick up Frisk as you take the small walkway around the shear-machine. On the other side has a small name plate. Apparently the large contraption was called a “DT Extraction Machine”. It was just as inactive as pretty much everything else.

        A cold breeze blows at your dress. You set down Frisk as you turn towards the way it’s coming from.

        It’s like walking through a wall of ice. You miss your jeans even more as you step into a room full of freezers. It’s as if you were in Snowdin. The rest of the lab was pretty warm considering it was in Hotland. You guess this was why you were seeing fog earlier.

        

Entry number nineteen. The families keep calling me to ask when everyone is coming home. What am I supposed to say? I don’t even answer the phone anymore.

        

        You watch Frisk out of the corner of your eye as you check Alphys’s entries. They’re opening the freezers and checking out whatever is inside of them. They pull out things they think are interesting and show you before going for something else. Most of the items so far look like samples of whatever research Alphys was doing. Vials of black, grey, and white goo. One or two of them were red.

        

Entry number twenty. Asgore left me five messages today. Four about everyone being angry. One about this cute teacup he found that looks like me. Thanks Asgore.

        

        You swear you see one of the fridges shake. When you mention it to Frisk, they open it and tell you it’s empty before moving onto the next one. It unnerves you.

        

Entry number twenty-one. I spend all of my time at the garbage dump now. It’s my element.

        

        “Find anything?” Frisk asks and you shake your head as the entry blinks off.

        “All the entries are just about…” You slowly turn around. “Just about what Alphys used to do.”

        “...Wait, can you hear me now?” They ask and you smile.

        “The whole “inside” voice or whatever is nice.” You comment.

        You really did need to ask Alphys later what the actual cause was for being able to hear the not-so real voices. Though, Frisk calling them “inside” voices was cute. You’re glad that whatever this whole thing was, was something you were now apart of. Frisk being able to “talk” to you, even with it being dark like it was now, or when they were not in your line of sight, was extremely nice. Probably made them feel a lot better too, especially while you two were down here.

        Frisk goes to last fridge as you pass them, peeking into another doorway. You decidedly didn’t like that there weren’t any doors. Just open passages that anyone could wander through while your back was turned.

        “The door’s stuck…

        “Huh?” You turn, watching the kid put all their weight into tugging at the handle. You start to laugh but it fades when you notice something strange…

        Was the fridge… melting?

        “Frisk, get back!” You grab the back of their sweater, hauling them to your side and even further away.

        The fridge condenses to form another one of those monsters, your green soul and Frisk’s red soul coming out to great them.

        “Your soul.” Frisk signs, looking to the quivering mess of your heart. You’d look too, but you can’t take your eyes away from the monster before you.

        “It’s so cold.” She whispers. You think she whispers it, but her voice cracks and sounds like multiple tones on top of one another. And though it’s a quiet sentence, you hear her right in your ears as if the monster was a lot closer than she really was.

        She was melting. Not like she was a monster made of some kind of slime no she--...

        You recognized this monster.

        A... A Snowdrake, you think. You had met one outside of Snowdin.

        That Snowdrake didn’t ooze.

        This one… God you think she’s melting. Her herself, her very body falling apart, unable to hold itself together. She whines at you, but doesn’t move, as if entranced by your soul.

        “Small…” She says. Streams of her own snowy flesh dripping from her eyes like streams of tears.

        “Sis?” Frisk nudges you but, once again, you’re frozen in place.

        Scared.

        Grief.

        Hopelessness.

        Loss.

        Failure.

        Her emotions hit you, pushing through you and washing you with sorrow. Once again a sadness that isn’t yours brings fat tears to your eyes and your vision blurs.  You have enough sense to put your bat in front of Frisk, guarding them with what coherent fragments of you are left, but the rest of you is gone.

        Your green soul starts glowing, slowly floating closer to the melting Snowdrake.

        “He’s okay.” The words tumble out of you. You’re not sure what you’re saying. They're not entirely yours. “They’re okay. They remember.”

        The Snowdrake shivers, part of her body sliding off and splatting on the ground.

        “Snowy….” She whispers. The half melted smile that tugs at her beak placates your upset soul. The green light blankets her. “Thank...You…” She laughs. “...It’s so warm…”

        As soon as she disappears you turn and puke.

        Your knees give out and crack against the tiles as you fall. Your arms bracing yourself over your mess. Even in the cold room a wave of heat washes through you in the worst way, sending you through another round of vomiting.

        “I’ve never-” Frisk starts, but goes silent. Instead they scoop something off of the floor where the Snowdrake had been. They leave your line of vision, too, but before you can call for them you puke again.

        You feel like curling up and never moving again.

        You get up though, thinking of Frisk.

        For Frisk

        Frisk comes back to you, palpable worry coating their face.

        “Are you sick?” They ask, reaching up, waving for you to lean closer. You entertain them and do so, letting them put the back of their small hand to your sweaty forehead, checking for a fever.

        “No. I’m not.” You wonder if your soul is, though, since the kid doesn’t seem to be having the same reaction to the monsters as you are.

        “We’re almost there. I just have to put this blue key away.” They say, taking your hand and leading you forward. It seems they’re fear has been replaced with worry for your well being.

 

        Frisk meets you back at the first main door you had come upon. They had refused to have you walking with them to the blue keyhole. Apparently you looked a lot worse than you felt.

        You did feel pretty damn bad. At first it was just emotionally, but as you stood there, waiting for the kid, the mental turmoil turned physical.

        Thankfully you were about to go see a doctor who’d probably know what the hell was wrong with you.

        Inside is another elevator. You assume this is the one Alphys took. It appears to have lost power like yours, but this one hadn’t fallen. There's a second door to the thing, however, leading off into a long hallway.

        All the panels hanging up that hold Alphys’s entries are powered off.

        Frisk is adamant about holding your hand and leading, as if they’re worried you’re going to pass out on them.

        At this point you might.

        The hall opens up to a large looming room, a brightly lit console at the end of it with pipes and wires from the ceiling leading down to it. Like a big arrow. It seems like a main power hub, as it has labels for various rooms you encountered while wandering.  You lean over it, scanning the words for “elevator”. Frisk makes a noise, grabbing your eyes, pointing to one of the switches. You flip it for them.

        You glance around. You don’t hear any powering-up noises, but you guess that doesn’t always happen.

        “Maybe… there’s another level that Alphys went to?” You say, rubbing your neck. You didn’t see any other doors you hadn’t checked on this floor. Alphys had to be somewhere down here…

        There's groaning behind you.

        Whipping around you curse at the pulsing forms of the monsters. You recognized some, they must’ve followed you after your fight. They drag themselves across the tiles, tumbling over themselves to pull their massive forms out of the small doorway. They clot the exit, slowly filling up the room.

        There were so many… Luckily, your soul hadn’t left you yet and you hold your chest as if you can keep it in. So far every fight has let you feel what they feel. You could barely handle one at a time. If all of them tried to fight you at once--

        You’re scared.

        “Hey! Stop!” The sea of gooey monsters part, all turning around towards Alphys. She looks absolutely tiny compared to the hulking, quivering forms.

        “I got you guys some food, okay!?” Alphys throws bags in her arms to the ground behind her. As fast as they can with their cumbersome bodies, they all start dragging themselves back.

        Alphys walks past them as they eat at the back of the room.

        “Sorry about that…” Alphys says, scratching her cheek as she faces you again. “They get kind of sassy when they don’t get fed on time. I think they smelled the food you had in your bag, and…” She waves her hands. “Anyway! The power went out, and I’ve been trying to turn it back on! But it seems like you two were one step ahead of me. This… Was probably just a big inconvenience for you…”

        You stare at her for a long time and then sit yourself down. Her and Frisk give you looks. You wave for her to go on. You don’t want to interrupt, but you definitely were going to pass out if you stayed standing any longer. Alphys nervously taps her claws together.

        “B-but I appreciate that you came here to back me up! As I said, I was afraid I might...Not come back… But that’s not because of these guys or anything! I was just worried I would be too afraid… To tell the truth… That I might run away, or do something… Cowardly.”

        “Alphys, I’m just glad you’re okay.” You say, leaning back against the console. “That note really worried us.”

        “Are you okay?” Frisk asks.

        “I-I’m fine!” She blurts. “Really!”

        “Then…” You chew at your lip, glancing at Frisk out of the corner of your eye. “Alphys what… happened? Down here? To those monsters?”

        “...I.. Uh.. I suppose I owe you guys an explanation.” She purses her lips. “I haven't.. Told the truth in a long time…”

        “Pretend it’s like… Roleplay.” She snorts, her frown wavering into a small smile. She takes a breath.

        “As you probably know, Asgore asked me to study the nature of souls. During my research, I isolated a power I called “determination.” I injected it into dying monsters so their souls would last after death. But the experiment failed. You see, unlike humans’, monsters’ bodies don’t have enough physical matter to take those concentrations of “determination.” Their bodies started to melt, and lost what physicality they had. Pretty soon, all of the test subjects had melted together into… Those. Seeing them like this, I knew… I couldn’t tell their families about it. I couldn’t tell anyone about it. No matter how much everyone was asking me. And I was too afraid to do any more work, knowing… everything I’d done so far had been such a horrific failure …”

        She looks you in the eyes and gives a sad smile.

        “But now, I’ve changed my mind about all this. I’m going to tell everyone what I’ve done… It’s going to be hard, being honest… Believing in myself… I’m sure there will be times where I’ll struggle. I’m sure there will be times where I screw up again. But knowing, deep down, that I have friends to fall back on, I know it’ll be a lot easier to stand on my own. Thank you.”

        The monsters, finished with their meals, slink closer to Alphys’s back. She turns towards them with open arms.

        “Come on, guys. It’s time for everyone to go home.” The monsters slowly drag themselves away, but Alphys stops. “Hey, can you guys help me? I don’t think they’ll all fit at a time. I’ll n-need you guys to watch them as I…” She trails off.

        “Yeah sure. Hold on.” You brace an arm on the console and, with Frisk’s help, you get yourself to your feet. Your body feels heavy, like lead.

        You were so tired.

        Alphys calls you name.

        “Yeah?” You look up. She stares at you.

        You glance around.

        “Alphys? Whats--”

        “Oh my god!” Her hands fly to her cheeks. “Y-Y-You shouldn’t be down her with them! O-Oh my god I-I totally forgot!”

        “You’re confusing me even more now…”

        “Your soul! It’s green!” She blurts. She runs up to you and, like the last time she was worried about your health, she dances around you in a frantic panic.

        “Y-Yeah… Um…” You swallow “Does that have anything to do with why I could… feel their emotions or anything?”

        “Really?” Frisk asks, looking a little too excited.

        “Oh my god.” Alphys looks ready to pass out. “This is so unprofessional of me.. You must be feeling horrible! I-I’ll heal you and explain everything o-once we’re back in my lab. F-First I need your help Frisk to get everyone to my lab.” Frisk takes a couple glances between you and Alphys before nodding. They pass you the phone. The two run off, leaving you in the empty console room.

        Great. Another thing going wrong because of something specific to you.

        Once again, you’re not that surprised.

        You stand around for a couple minutes, more like ten-ish you think, before deciding to start heading back down the hallway. You seemed unaffected as long as the monster didn’t fight you. Plus they’d had a meal so, per Alphys, they should be fine.

        There’s a chime and you look up to see the panels along the hallway have been turned back on. Maybe… they were apart of the elevator power line?

        

Entry number eight. I’ve chosen a candidate. I haven’t told Asgore yet, because I want to surprise him with it… in the center of his garden, there’s something special. The first golden flower, that grew before all the others. The flower from the outside world. It appeared just before the queen left. I wonder… What happens when something without a soul gains the will to live?

        

        A golden flower? It seems the only flowers ever talked about or seen by you are the golden ones.

        Like the room full of golden flowers, where you thought you saw one behind you.

        Or that VHS tape that talked about Asgore getting sick off of buttercup, i.e, a golden flower.

        Or the multiple times Sans brought up a yellow flower that would appear, talking or listening.

        Or the yellow flowers that keep breaking your fall from perilous heights.

        …

        

Entry number eighteen. The flower’s gone.

        

        A giggle.

        You spin around, eyes darting around the back end of the hall.

        You swore you just heard a kid laugh.

        ...Maybe it was Frisk in the elevator…?

        You feel someone watching you as you approach the last flickering screen.

        

Entry number seventeen. 👎✌☼😐📪👎✌☼😐☜☼📪✡☜❄ 👎✌☼😐☜☼. ❄☟☜ 👎✌☼😐☠☜💧💧 😐☜☜🏱💧 ☝☼⚐🕈✋☠☝. ❄☟☜ 💧☟✌👎⚐🕈💧 👍🕆❄❄✋☠☝ 👎☜☜🏱☜☼. 🏱☟⚐❄⚐☠ ☼☜✌👎✋☠☝💧 ☠☜☝✌❄✋✞☜. ❄☟✋💧 ☠☜✠❄ ☜✠🏱☜☼✋💣☜☠❄ 💧☜☜💣💧... ✞☜☼✡📪 ✞☜☼✡📪 ✋☠❄☜☼☜💧❄✋☠☝. ... 🕈☟✌❄ 👎⚐ ✡⚐🕆 ❄🕈⚐ ❄☟✋☠😐✍

        

        You make a face. Why would Alphys use… is this even a real font? Maybe it’s a code? You’re not sure. However, seeing the little faces and hands calms your nerves. You take a deep breath and move on to the elevator.

        The doors play a ditty as they open for you. You look around. You guess Frisk and Alphys got everyone up already.

        Your phone rings and you jump. You quickly pull it from where you stashed it away after Frisk returned it. You assume it's them or Alphys.

        “Hello-”

        “Chara... Are you there?”

        It’s a voice you’ve never heard before- wait… actually… for some reason you recognize it.

        “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? But you’ve done well. Thanks to you, everything has fallen into place. Chara… see you soon.”

        “Wait who-”

        The elevator doors slam closed and you stumble as it starts quickly moving. You check the phone, seeing whoever that was has hung up.

        That voice…

        Wasn’t it… That kid from that VHS you caught Frisk watching? What was his name again?

        Oh.... 

        Asriel.

Chapter Text

        This… Isn't Alphys's lab.

        You're not sure where you are, actually. Other than… it kind of looks like the ruins? If the ruins were painted white and gray and had no color or life. 

        You turn around after checking that, yes, the elevator you had stepped out of was indeed still blocked off. As soon as your body was out of it, thick, massive vines had burst from the ground and wrapped over the doors. You had tried to pull the thorny vegetation off, but they were as sturdy as tree trunks. 

        There's only one way to go, so you slowly follow the path. You find yourself holding your breath in anticipation, beyond a little confused as to why an elevator going up brought you to the color-drained ruins.

        At the end of the hall you come across an open wall. Fierce wind blows past you as you stare into a distance you didn't know existed.

        Before you is the city skyline. You never really thought about how big the monster race was. Never was faced with it while going around the back roads to get to Asgore and the barrier faster. But now, standing at the ledge, listening to the murmur of hundreds, thousands, of lives below you… it tugs at your soul. So many trapped. So many wanting to go to the surface. So many just wanting to see a blue sky, or the stars, or a sunrise, or the green of the grass, or fresh air, all the things you take for granted.

        There's banging. It's soft and it takes a while for the noise to draw yours eyes from the glowing sight. When you do look, you find another elevator with more vines clogging it. 

        You hear your name being shouted through the door. It's not a voice though--it's a soul calling you.

        Its Frisk.

        "Frisk, bud…" They stop hitting the door.

        "Let me in! I-I can't get through." You press your hands to the cold metal.

        "I can't. There's these vines blocking it all off."

        "That's not supposed to happen… stay there, I'm going to get someone-

        "It's okay Frisk." You chew at your lip. You would've liked to do this while you could’ve looked them in the eyes, but it's now or never you guess… "This is for the best."

        "What…? I don't… You're not going to fight Asgore alone!" You can feel their rising panic. It's like their inside voice. Now that you're semi used to it you realize you're not really… hearing anything, but it's more where you feel Frisk's soul and you just… know what they're saying. 

        "You're right. I'm not going to fight Asgore."

        There's a pregnant pause.

        You hear a sob.

        "No…" It's soft, broken. 

        "Everything's going to be okay Frisk. Shhh, sh sh, don't cry…" You try to keep your voice clear but your eyes burn and there's a ball in your throat. "This is for the best, right? Think about how amazing it'll be living with all the monsters on the surface-" 

        Frisk sobs your name and your tears drip to your chin.

        "Once the barriers broken, Toriel will come find you. She'll take care of you."

        "Please, don't, please…

        "You'll have a mom who cares and loves you like you deserve and friends who'll take care of you and-" 

        "I want you!" It's a watery yell that reverberates through your soul. You slide down to your knees.

        "Frisk, I… I love you so, so, so much." You breathe shakily, pressing your forehead into the cool metal. "I love you more than anything. I always have. You mean… so much to me. I want you to be happy, and loved and…" You trail off, not trusting your voice. You were trying to stay strong. To hold it together. Now that it was actually happening, now that you were leaving Frisk… 

        You couldn't even hug or see them one last time.

        Frisk says your name.

        Speaks it.

        Out loud.

        Their voice is wrecked. Beyond how it's raspy self usually is. It sounds… Broken, despondent. They shake through another sob and sniffle loudly.

        "Don't go." They continue. They struggle forming the words. "I love you. Your… all I need."

        A choked sob escapes you and you slap a hand over your mouth. You squeeze your eyes shut, trying to stop crying. 

        You can't.

        "Please."

        You stand up.

        You knew, deep down, you weren't enough for Frisk. Hell, not even deep down, you thought about this everyday. You gave your all for Frisk but…. It wasn't really enough. You knew it wasn't because all of your strength and courage, all of it was a bravado you held up for the kid. You found strength in Frisk.

        The kid didn't need you, you needed them.

        They need a parent. They need someone they could rely on and learn from. You tripped through every day of your life, being far from a role model. Since it was only ever you and the kid, you forced yourself to be enough.

        But now there was Toriel. 

        Toriel, who loved Frisk more in a couple hours than your drunk mother ever did throughout Frisk's nine years. 

        There was a better option. There was a parent. There was someone who could do more and be more for Frisk. 

        They might not realize it now but… They'll see. 

        This is… it’s for the best. 

        For you or for them… at this point it seems best for both of you.

        “Frisk.” They don’t stop pleading for you to stay put. “The happiest day of my life… Was when you were born.” With that you suck in a breath and take off.

        You ignore the sound of their crying.

        Even as you run, trying to outrun the guilt, it follows you.

        You can hear their crying soul as clearly as if you were standing next to them turning a blind eye.

 

        When color explodes in your vision, you stop. You sniffle loudly, scrubbing at your eyes and trying to calm yourself down. You were about to meet a King after all and offer your soul to him. You didn’t want him to think you regretted your decision or you were being put up to it.

        The color that made you slow from a sprint to a halt is yellow. Well, more like gold.

        It’s a golden hall, much different than the bleak area you were just in. There are floor to ceiling pillars of solid gold lining the walls, glistening in the light streaming in through the large stained glass windows. The light was… Well, it looked like sunlight. Were you close enough to the barrier that you were actually getting some sun? It was actually immensely beautiful. The place shined and glowed so much that you almost walked right past the save star.

        Almost.

        When you wave your hands through it’s intangible body, a warmth floods your chest and you’re reminded of a small memory.

        Standing in front of Frisk’s crib. Mom and dad are fighting in another room. If they weren’t you wouldn’t have been allowed so close to the baby alone. But you were there, peaking over the side, staring at the small little baby. It was then that it seemed everything else disappeared. It was then that you promised yourself you’d take care of this tiny child as long as you were alive. 

        The memory reminds you of why you always strive to show Kindness.

        You sniffle obscenely loud.

        Your boots tap on the marble orange and yellow checked floor. It reminds you of medieval movies of the long halls with a throne at the end of them. You assume past the next archway will be the throne room.

        You wonder if these random thoughts will be good enough to distract yourself while you watch your soul be ripped from your chest.

        You can still hear Frisk’s crying.

        There’s a bell. It rings. And rings. And rings. Was it counting out the hours? You look up and around, like it was going to reveal itself. You don’t remember hearing a bell throughout the Underground… Maybe it was only for the castle?

        “So you finally made it.” You flinch, shoes squeaking as you stop. You look around but you don’t see anyone in front or behind you.

        But you know this voice.

        “The end of your journey is at hand. In a few moments, you will meet the king. Together…” You hear ruffling in front of you. Out from one of the golden pillars slinks out Sans, still in his blue hoodie and house slippers. “You will determine the future of this world.” He isn’t looking at you as he slowly walks forward. He’s staring out the large blinding windows. “That’s then. Now, you will be judged.”

        He looks near holy bathed in the white light, his bones glowing like he's surrounded by a halo. His white pin pricks lazily roll over to you. His smile is, like always, embedded in his face, but it’s not… it’s not really smiling. There’s something about it that seems lifeless. It doesn’t reach his sockets. 

        “You will be judged for your every action. You will be judged for every EXP you’ve earned.” 

        You weakly clear your throat.

        “Uh… EXP? Isn't that… from video games?” Sans stares at you. You wonder if you killed the mood.

        “It’s an acronym.” He says. “It stands for “execution points”.” Oh wow okay that… sounds a lot more serious than “experience points” like you usually heard it explained as. “A way of quantifyin’ the pain you have inflicted on others. When you kill someone, your EXP increases. When you have enough EXP, your LOVE increases.” 

        You open your mouth.

        He cuts you off.

        “LOVE, too, is an acronym. It stands for “Level of Violence”. A way of measurin’ someone’s capacity to hurt. The more you kill, the easier it becomes to distance yourself. The more you distance yourself, the less you will hurt. The more easily you bring yourself to hurt others.” He closes his eyes and breathes through his nose. You can hear it from where you stand.

        When he opens them, his smiles rises too and becomes a real one.

        “... But you. You never gained any LOVE.” He shrugs. “‘Course that doesn’t mean you’re completely innocent or naive. Just that you kept a certain tenderness in your heart. No matter the struggles of hardship you faced… You strived to do the right thing. You refused to hurt anyone. Even when you ran away, you did it with a smile. You never gained LOVE, but you gained love. Does that make sense? Ha. Maybe not.”

        You take a deep breath. You’re pretty sure that if this is Sans’s real job, being the judge of Judgement Hall or whatever, that he probably says something like this to all the kids that walked through. It makes you wonder how many times Frisk has been through here.

        How many times Sans didn’t let them pass.

        However… 

        It also makes you really think of the hardships you faced. Of the fights you had. Of the monsters you met and spared. It makes you think of the wounds you received but also of the people who healed you and took care of you. 

        Your journey through the Underground, through Home, flashes before your eyes like a movie being projected.

        “Now… You’re about to face the greatest challenge of your entire journey. Your actions here… Will determine the fate of the entire world. If your refuse to fight… Asgore will take your soul and breach the surface. But if you kill Asgore and go home… monsters will remain trapped underground. What will you do?”

        “Sans.” You say, hands curling into your dress. “What would you do?” He stares for a moment and then looks back out the window.

        “Well, if I were you, I would have thrown in the towel by now. But you didn’t get this far by givin’ up on the people you care about. You went through all of that just for that little kid of yours, right? You… have somethin’ called “Kindness”. So as long as you hold on… so as long as you do what’s in your heart… I believe you can do the right thing.”

        “Thank you, Sans…” He looks you over. You know he can see the redness around your eyes and the shake to your hunched shoulders. 

        He steps aside.

        “Alright. We’re all countin’ on you, kid. Good luck.” 

        You take a deep breath.

        You only get a few steps past Sans before you have to stop again. You don’t know why but… You can tell Sans has something else to say.

        For a moment there's just the sounds of birds outside.

        “Where is Frisk?” He asks finally.

        “...Anywhere but here.” You whisper. 

        You look up to the looming archway in front of you. It’s like a beacon signifying your death; like walking into the white light oh-so willingly. Through there, that was it. But… As you were resigned to your eventual fate, there was still something bothering you. Something stopping you from “passing on” through the archway. You don’t know if you want answers, but you do know you need to get them off your chest.

        “I know.” You say instead, louder. You turn around, finding Sans was already facing you. “I know about Frisk.” 

        “What about the kid?” He asks, trying to play it off. You shake your head.

        “I know about their ability to restart.” The white dots leave San’s eyes. “About them being able to come back alive in a past point in time if they die. I’ve known from the very beginning.”

        “...Can you restart?” You blink.

        You’d never really thought about that.

        “I… Don’t know.” You answer truthfully. “I’ve only come back to life after Undyne killed me that one time.” Swallowing, you change direction. “There’s a lot of things I want to ask. Why you’re the only one besides me and Frisk that remember reloads or restarts. Why you antagonized Frisk. Why Frisk seemed so guilty all the time …. But I feel like if you answer me… Truthfully, I feel like something’ll change. I don’t want that to change the last image I have of Frisk; of the underground.” 

        Whatever reply Sans seemed to be getting ready to say very noticeably dies on his teeth. His sockets grow a bit wide and then they narrow.

        “ “Last image”? … What’re you plannin’?” You don’t immediately answer. Which, like for Undyne, seems to be an even better explanation. You hear his breath hiss on exhale. “What about the kid?”

        Wow that question physically hurt you.

        Like a knife to your soul.

        Straight to the point. You didn't expect anything less from someone who also had a younger sibling that meant the world to them, though. 

        “I-I… There’s a monster that I trust who said she’d take care of Frisk as if they were her own. Plus I… This way Asgore can get the last soul he needs, no one has to get hurt, and all of you can get to the surface and Frisk can go home.”

        “You…” He stops, closing his eyes, running a hand over his skull. It makes a pleasant clicking noise. “I’m assumin’ you haven’t told anyone else.”

        “Nope.” You pop the p. “I just said goodbye to Frisk… They haven’t stopped crying.” You whisper the end of that sentence.

        “Papyrus won’t be too happy either.” Sans mumbles. He then looks at you a little harder. “Why are you tellin’ me? I could try and stop you.” That gets a small laugh from you.

        “Try to stop me from freeing the monsters? Well, you can try, but it’ll definitely be a workout for you.” You give him a knowing smile. “Definitely a lot of moving and running. Very strenuous.”

        “Sounds… Like a lot of work.” He mockingly sighs and you grin. “But at least tell me… Why’re you just givin’ it to him. Every kid that walked through here, even Frisk, fought for their souls. The monsters are just a bunch of strangers to you. You didn’t know about us till you were dragged here by Frisk. Why lay down and die for us? Don’t you have any ‘determination’ to live?”

        At that, you go silent. Not because you don’t have an answer, but because the answer was very… personal. It was a vulnerable topic for you. It was probably the biggest but more guarded part of your life. 

        But you were about to end your life so why did it matter?

        Sans didn’t seem- no, he definitely wasn’t the type of monster to go around running his mouth. Either you trusted him a lot, or you were so ready to talk to someone other than yourself about this that you were fooling yourself into trusting him.

        Either worked for you.

        “I have never been more loved, in my entire life, than these couple of days in the Underground.” You haven’t even really started and you already felt your throat start to burn. “My family, my parents, on the surface… They're not nice. They're not good people.” It’s a truth that your kind soul has never allowed you to say before. “I spent most of my life protecting Frisk from them. In the first few hours down here I met a monster who was more than a mother mine ever was or wanted to be. She took care of me and the kid and… and loved us. The monsters down here are kinder and more loving than any human I've ever met. Frisk has never… They’ve never known what a real family is supposed to be like. They’ve only had me and I’m far from a role model. They need someone better than me. They need a real family. If… If dying and freeing the monsters means giving Frisk the family they deserve, then I’ll die a million times.”

        As valiant as that sounded, the idea of it makes your knees a little weak. 

        It was one thing declaring this in front of Frisk, who you were used to showing a confident facade, and another declaring it in front of Sans, who you didn't need to prove anything to. Your well hidden fear was slipping through the cracks.

        You avoid looking at Sans, feeling embarrassment paint your cheeks. You turn back around. 

        "Promise me something?" 

        "I'm bad at keepin' promises, kid."

        "I know. Then, instead of a promise, can you do me a favor?" 

        It takes him a while to say ".... Sure."

        "Will you keep a socket out for Frisk? They get bonely on their own." You cast a giant smile and a wave over your shoulder as you start hurrying out. "Bye Sans! I'm really happy I got to call you a friend. Tell Paps bye for me too. I’m a little upsetti I never did get to taste his spaghetti!" 

        You exit the judgment hall.

        You stubbornly ignore the overwhelming sadness you feel.

        There's another long grey corridor. This time it's extremely obvious it's a near copy of what the ruins look like.

        You guess the ruins were what the monsters built first when they first got here. Then, the further in they ventured, the better they got at building. 

        You have a vague feeling Toriel taught you this at some point. 

        You see sunlight shining in through the next door, the smell of something sweet wafting out and meeting you halfway. 

        It’s the smell of buttercups, you think.

        It is buttercups. Hundreds of them growing like a wonderlandish carpet across the floor of a massive room. The room is just as beautiful and yellow as the judgment hall. Bathed in warm natural light, the large beautifully made stained glass windows loom yards over your head. 

        There's a giant throne with a purple velvet cushioning just ahead, nestled in the flowers like it was made to be presented with them growing up its legs and over its arms. You wonder what kind of beast could fit in such a seat.

        It was all breathtaking. You had never seen such a beautiful place before in your life. 

        After your eyes and nose have calmed down from being bombarded with something so amazing, your ears pick up a gutterly low humming. You had thought Sans's and Grillby's voices were low, but they had nothing on this voice. 

        You step further in, slowly. You try to avoid stepping on the flowers even with how near impossible it is with how closely knit together they are. As you go, part of the room you couldn't see from the entry way is revealed and you stop dead in your tracks. 

        The King was taller than Toriel.

        His horned form seems to blot out an entire stained window from your perspective. 

        You had thought Toriel was the tallest monster in the Underground. After all, the woman had easily been eight feet tall. Even Papyrus was a good foot shorter than that. 

        But the king… he was slightly hunched over but he was easily taller than Toriel. Nine feet? Ten? It got to the point that he was so tall you couldn't create an accurate guesstimate in your head. He was just… very tall. On top of that he was also very wide. Just a solid mass that was every way shape and form larger than you. It didn't help that his back was facing you and he wore a violet satin cape, blocking him all out as just one solid object. 

        His humming cuts off and you flinch violently at that. He slowly straightens up, somehow getting even taller.

        “Oh…” He rumbles. You feel it in your very soul. “Is someone there?”

        No.

        No one’s here.

        You shrink in on yourself. 

        It was only now that you remembered how fearful Toriel was of you meeting the King. Begged you not to go face him. He had killed all of her other children. She described him as merciless and bloodthirsty. He had killed kids, after all. But hearing Undyne talk about him had quelled your fears almost immediately. Even Mettaton had referred to him as “fluffybuns”. But, now standing in front of his hulking form, hearing his voice, you remind yourself that you’re the enemy. The last soul, the last thing stopping him from freeing his people. You’re not a resident, or his royal guard captain he took care of, he had no reason to be kind to you. 

        You were resigned to dying, but you kind of hoped it wasn’t going to be painful.

        “Just a moment Sans, I have almost finished watering these flowers.”

        You watch his back as you hear water being poured. You should probably say something. Like, how you’re not Sans but a human, the human, but you can’t find your voice.

        “...There we go.” He sets down a watering can to the side of him and then turns around. “Howdy Sans, how can I--” The warm smile on his face falls immediately as soon as his red eyes fall onto you.

        They’re not ones of anger, or disgust, or ones that make you feel like you’re about to be attacked. They're ones that make your soul wilt.

        He looks absolutely terrified of you.

        “Oh.” He says, as if his good day had just been utterly crushed. He swallows nervously and looks away, unable to meet you eyes. Wringing his giant paws together, he struggles to find his words.

        “Howdy.” You say, quietly. He smiles, but it’s a woeful one.

        “...I so badly want to say, “would you like a cup of tea?” but... you know how it is.” He heaves a sigh and then slowly starts walking to one of the large windows. His cape gently drags across the flowers, creating a small wake behind him. He looks out the window, taking a hand up to his golden beard. 

        “Nice day today, huh?” He’s trying really hard… to be nice? No. He’s trying hard to avoid the inevitable… But why? “Birds are singing, flowers are blooming… Perfect weather for a game of catch.”

        “Never played catch.” You say before you think better of yourself. The King looks at you as his shock is taken over by a heavy frown.

        Growing up, that was an honorary tradition for a dad to do with his kids. Before Frisk was born, your dad was busy with pretending everything was perfect. After Frisk was born, you were busy avoiding anything he threw at you. And now you didn’t have a dad, as far as either of you were concerned.

        “That is… Is that not something played on the surface?” He asks and you give a sloppy shrug.

        “It is, just… uhm… Never had anyone to play with.” You shake your head, throwing off your anxiety. “I! Actually would like… A cup of tea.”

        Asgore stares.

        “Oh! P-please, your Majesty?”

        You feel like you choking as he continues to stare at you in silence.

        “Really?” He finally mutters. You nod vigorously. 

        “I… want to talk.”

        He looks extremely happy all of a sudden.

        “Of course!” He’s much faster to move, now. He goes to behind the throne and picks up a small tea table, which already had a teapot, sugar bowl, and two cups and saucers on it. He’d… already set it up and everything. Why did he hide it…?

        Did none of the kids before ever sit down with him?

        He smiles warmly at you, clapping his hands together and ushering you closer. He looks so relieved.

        “Sit child, have as much tea as you wish.” He takes the tiny tea pot into his oversized paws and pours you both a cup. “Oh!” He reaches around the throne again and pulls out a chair for a child. It could fit in his palm. He chuckled heartily as he set it down and waves for you to sit. He takes his throne. 

        Neither of you have the heart to mention the chairs smallness. You squat down into it and take your cup. Before tasting it you add a couple sugar cubes .

        “What kind of tea is this?” You ask as you blow and take a sip. It’s sweet, thanks to the sugar, but there's a natural sweetness too that reminds you of home baked goods.

        “Buttercup tea! Would you be surprised I make it all myself?” He laughs, downing his small teacup in one gulp. 

        “It’s very good. It’s been a while since I’ve had tea.”

        When Asgore sets it down he folds his hands in his lap. 

        “I must ask.” You lower your cup. “It was reported that there were two humans, who had fallen. The other… Where are they now?”

        Everyone was asking, huh?

        “You only need one more soul.” You set your own cup down, finding yourself fiddling with the saucer edge. “The other human is my sibling. I don’t want them to get hurt. They’re just a kid.” 

        Asgore glances away. There’s the same somber feeling to him like when you first stepped into the room.

        “You say that as if…” He trails off.

        “Asgore, I’m giving you my soul.” His crown near falls off with how quickly he looks at you. “No fighting. I just… I want the barrier to be broken.” You try your best to smile. You don’t think it looks all that convincing.

        “But… I do not understand…”

        You feel your soul flutter. It beats against something. Not your ribs, or your skin, it’s not that physical of a feeling. But it pushes at a thin layer of something that feels like a second skin. You knew it wanted out. It, just like you, wanted to show your kindness to the king. 

        You’ve never done this before, at least outside of battle, but you don’t think it can be that hard. Maybe.

        You will your soul to come forward, to appear. It takes a quiet moment, a moment where your thoughts are definitely too loud, but eventually your small heart slowly floats out.

        Your soul bobs gently in front of you. Asgore stares at it in obvious shock.

        "I met another with a soul like this." He says quietly. "They were the only other one to have tea with me…May I?" You flinch as he gestures to your heart. You can’t take your eyes off of it. You manage to nod.

        With a gentleness you weren’t expecting, he cups your soul in his hands and slowly pulls it further from you. Your breathing quickens. 

        “While walking through New Home, did any of the monsters… talk to you?” 

        “I, um, I was kinda brought here through a shortcut, of sorts. Why?” 

        His eyes reflect the green glow of your soul.

        “I believe you deserve an explanation before you do this.” He lets go and your heart floats back to you. You suck in a shaky breath. He clears his throat, threading his fingers together and leaning on the arm of his throne. 

        You almost say out loud a joke about “story time”.

        You hold it back.

        “A… Very long time ago, a human fell into the Ruins. The first human. They were injured, and my-... My son was the one to find them.” His eyes pinch and you can practically feel the pain he’s in. “He brought them to our house and over time, me and… the Queen took the human in as our own. It seemed the entire Underground was filled with hope.” He breathes, his voice shaking. “And then one day… The child became very ill…And they passed away.”

        Sorrow. Immense sorrow. It was so thick, so powerful, hot tears immediately sprung to your eyes.

        With your soul out… You really are feeling his emotions.

        “My son, Asriel, beyond himself with the loss of his sibling… absorbed the child’s soul. He transformed into a being with incredible power. With the child’s soul, Asriel crossed through the barrier with their body in his arms, and traveled to the child’s old village. However… Either because they thought Asriel had killed the child, or they were just afraid, they attacked. Though he had the power to fight back, to protect himself, he did not…. When he came back, he collapsed… … His dust coated my garden. The kingdom fell into despair. The humans had, again, taken everything from the monsters.”

        He stares at your soul. He reaches out for it again, taking it into his paws. The green glistens in his wet eyes. You hadn’t noticed he’d been crying, as his fur had soaked it up.

        Then again, you were near sobbing and you had barely noticed. 

        “I made a new law, after that.” He doesn’t physically touch your soul. He cups the air round it. “Every human who falls down here must be killed. With enough souls, I could shatter the barrier forever… Wage war on humanity and exact revenge for the monsters imprisonment and the murder of my children..”

        ...What?

        “War?” You whisper. The sadness washing through you suddenly changes. The overflowing feeling is tainted suddenly by anger. An anger fueled by grief and regret. Anger that is just as soaked in misery as every other feeling that comes to you from Asgore.

        “It is the only way to make sure that monsters are never harmed and pursuited by humans again.” 

        His look has gone cold, far different from the warm, dare you say, fatherly smiling he’d been giving you earlier. Instead he slowly heaves himself up to his feet, soul still being whisked away with his hands. 

        Giving him your soul… meant war? Giving him your soul meant the monsters, the kind monsters in the underground that didn’t want to fight you after you simply complimented them, were going to kill off humans? 

        Why has no one mentioned this to you?

        Did they just assume you knew?

        But… you didn’t- you couldn’t-... You can’t wrap your mind around this. Frisk pleaded for you to free everyone. To save their friends. You were under the impression that it was just that. But now you were trapped between saving the people who you’ve come to deeply care about, and billions of humans. 

        Would the monsters stand a chance?

        Did you want them to?

        Was this a matter of humans versus monsters or a matter of stopping Asgore?

        Was the only way to win this, to free them like Frisk was so determined to do, to kill the king?

        You slowly look over to Asgore.

        He stands in the middle of the yellow flowers, bathed in light, his eyes still casting green from staring at your pulsing soul.

        He smiles.

        You close your eyes and focus on the emotional tether you have to him, pushing your rising panic to the back of your throat.

        Misery and loneliness

        Happiness that it is all going to end soon.

        ...Hesitation.

        “With this, I will finally be able to up hold my promise to my people.” Asgore murmurs, letting out a small sigh. 

        You can’t kill him. You couldn’t kill anyone. Killing was never a part of this journey, or any journey involving you. You weren’t a killer, couldn’t be, wouldn’t be. The monsters seemed used to it, expected it. It was brought up over and over but that was unimaginable to you. Sure you had the ability to hit someone a bit, but you never aimed to maim or break anything. Mostly just to scare off. That was before the Underground, too. That was back when you were solely protecting Frisk.

        Killing someone…

        It made you feel sick. It made your soul hurt.

        Even without it inside of you, even as you could feel it- a part of you in Asgore’s hands- the thought of killing made it physically hurt you. You felt it in your soul and in your actual being.

        How were you supposed to move forward?

        Your soul was in Asgore’s hands.

        Your soul hurts.

        You didn’t want to fight him.

        You didn’t want a war.

        You didn’t want to be the cause of death by not killing Asgore.

        “Child?”

        But what could you do? What were you supposed to do?

        All your options led to death.

        You were going to kill someone.

        No this- this couldn’t- you wouldn’t- how can it end like this?

        It feels like your soul is breaking.

        After sparing everyone, saving everyone, loving everyone, how was this how it ended?

        “Child, your soul! It is… What is happening to it?”

        You couldn’t.

        “Child!”

        .

        .

        .

        .

        .

        Your soul ripped itself apart.


        You're alive.

        Your hand is in the save star and you're staring at a golden pillar.

        You reloaded. 

        … You died. Again. 

        But this time… It wasn’t from an attack. Your soul had…

        ...

        You turn and start making your way back down the hall. Sans, like last time, starts speaking before he reveals himself. 

        "So, you finally made it. The end of your journey is at hand. In a few moments, you will meet the king. Together…” He steps out. "You will determine the future of this world. That's then. Now… You will be judged."

        "Sans." Your voice is barely above a whisper. You can’t bring yourself to say it louder. He continues, though, completely ignoring you. 

        “You will be judged for your every action. You will be judged for every EXP you’ve earned.” He pauses, then. Eye lights flickering over you. You hold yourself and bow your head. “...It’s an acronym. It stands for “execution points”. A way of quantifying the pain you have inflicted on others.” He stops again. “Kid, are you doin’ alright?”

        “You’re not going to finish your speech?” He shrugs stuffing his hands into his pockets. 

        “Didn’t say I wasn’t. You just look like you’re gonna hurl.”

        You do feel sick. Your stomach rolls back and forth. It can’t be a side effect from reloading, so it must be from how you died.

        “Don’t puke your guts up, I don’t have the stomach for it.” He chuckles weakly at his joke. Your own sudden puff of laughter makes your nausea worse.

         “Sans, do you remember past resets, or do you only get a feeling that they’ve happened?” 

        “Now that's a question.” He avoids your eyes. When he scratches his skull, you make note of the pleasant sound it makes. Again. For a moment you think he’s going to ignore you. He looks pretty intent on avoiding the question. However, he suddenly sighs and steps to the side.

        “I remember, for the most part. Wasn’t always like that.” He shrugs. He finally meets your wild eyes. His smile is dead. 

        “...I saw Asgore.” You grip your arms tighter. “Why didn’t anyone tell me he planned to start a war?”

        “Oh… that.” 

        “Yeah, “oh that”.” You bite back. “By the time I realized that, he already had my soul and I-” You shiver. “I think I-... I think I killed myself.”

        “Woah, wait, what? Kid, what’re you talkin’ about?” You step towards him, a coldness swallows you as he raises his hands up in defense. You can see yourself walking towards the skeleton, like you’re not in your own body.

        “Sans my soul imploded! It just- it just turned inside out! My soul killed itself and-!” 

        Bony hands hit your shoulders and you are immediately grounded. You breathe and you're back in your body, staring into Sans sockets, watching blue sweat beading down his forehead.

        “Slow down kid, you’re not even breathin’ anymore.” That reminds you to take another breath. You steady yourself, trying to ignore your own cold sweat enveloping you and the discomfort of having died a second time. “Try that again, but slower.”

        Your mouth feels dry. “I had tea with Asgore. While we were sitting I took out my soul to offer it to him. He started talking about the first human that fell and why he was collecting souls, and then talked about eradicating all humans. I panicked. Or, my soul panicked? It started hurting and then I… died.” 

        Sans sweats more. You watch it and it suddenly hits you that Sans is literally sweating. Not only is that physically impossible, but it’s also blue. 

        “That doesn’t really…” He trails off, his eyes lowering to your chest, as if he can see through you to your soul. He clicks his teeth then, coming to an understanding that he doesn’t share with you.

        “Sans, I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do. I can’t kill Asgore, but I can’t let him onto the surface if he’s going to wage war. That’d be the death of an egregious amount of humans and monsters alike.” Sans looks unsettled by your confession. To the point that his smile… actually disappears.

        Not just the feeling of it not being a smile anymore, but his teeth are covered up as his face bone, that you thought was solid, stretches down as if it was malleable like skin. He closes his mouth and you openly gawk. He doesn't seem to notice though.

        “Well, if I were you, I would have thrown in the towel by now…” His hands come off your shoulders. You’d nearly forgotten they were still there. “But you didn’t get this far by giving up on the people you care about.”

        “Sans, you’ve already-” He puts his hands up in another surrendering motion, sending a half hearted, lopsided grin at you. 

        “Like I said before, you have somethin’ called “Kindness”. So as long as you hold on… so as long as you do what’s in your heart, I believe you can do the right thing.”

        “But what I want is no one dying because of me.” You feel like you sound like a petulant kid at this point, repeating yourself. At the same time, as soon as you start feeling agitated, Sans's calming presence cools you back down. Even if he was talking in circles.

        “That’s what I’m sayin’.” Sans seems happy with your repeated confession and upset with the idea of killing. “Think about your options like you’ve thought through everythin’ else. Think of it with the goal of “kindness” in mind.”

        Think of it with the goal of Kindness in mind? Think of it like your other decisions… How had you handled every other monster? Well… You talked to them. You talked to Asgore though, even forgoing the fight, but that led to the revelation of the two options that ended your soul. Pushing that out of your mind before the anxiety of it could reach you again, you step further back to the first monster you met.

        When you fought Toriel, you weren’t able to talk her out of her decision. She had seen too many kids leave and never return. There was no way you could shake her iron will with just a couple words. The only way you got through to her was…

        “Oh.” You say, feeling a rush of confidence. “I… totally forgot about those! Thanks, Sans!” He laughs as you walk past him.

        “No problem kid. Can’t wait to see you on the surface.” You pause in your walk and turn back around to give him an odd look.

        “I… What?” 

        There’s an awkward silence.

        “There’s no way that I’m getting out of this alive, Sans.” His smile slowly disappears again. It still unnerves you. “But… I think I know a way to convince him to not start a war and to just peacefully take my soul.” You go to turn but stop again. “The favor still stands, by the way!” And then you’re off.

        You don’t stop running until you hit the room of buttercups. Asgore stands to the side, just like before, watering. Seeing him a second time, the intimidation has lessened considerably.

        “Oh…” He rumbles. You feel it in your very soul. “Is someone there? Just a moment Sans, I have almost finished watering these flowers.” You patiently wait for him. You don’t want to rush anything. “...There we go.” He sets down a watering can to the side of him and then turns around. “Howdy Sans, how can I--” He freezes up, just like before, his fatherly smile wilting into something painful. “Already?” He asks quietly. “...I so badly want to say, “would you like a cup of tea?”, but... you know how it is.” He heaves a sigh and then slowly starts walking to one of the large windows. His cape gently drags across the flowers, creating a small wake behind him. He looks out the window, taking a hand up to his golden beard.  “Nice day today, huh?” He’s trying really hard to avoid the inevitable. You take it as more proof of his hesitation to go rampaging on the surface. If anything, the only thing holding up his revenge are the souls he’s already taken that haunt him. “Birds are singing, flowers are blooming… Perfect weather for a game of catch.”

        “Never played catch.” You say, again. “Never had a dad to play with.” Asgore stares at you for a long time and a smiled sweetened with sadness appears.

        “If this was another life and if we did not have our current aspirations, I would have loved to teach you.”

        The new words strike a chord with you.

        “Are you ready?” He asks and you nod. He holds out a large paw of his, beckoning for you to take it. Gingerly you cross the room and place yours in his. You immediately think of Toriel.

        As he leads you to a back doorway, you glance over your shoulder and spot the forgotten table of tea. You’re now also one of the kids who never sat down to talk with him.

        There’s a large spotlight of sunlight coming through a hole in the ground above your head. You know the barrier is there, somewhere in the distance. You wonder if any of the kids were unlucky enough to fall from there, right into the paws of the king.

        “How tense.” Asgore smiles over his shoulder. “Just think of it like… a visit to the dentist.” He squeezes your hand to comfort you. 

        You wonder, when the fight begins, if he’ll tell you to say the alphabet backwards to distract yourself from the pain. 

        A little further and he again looks back at you. “Are you ready? If you are not, I understand.” He glances away. “I am not ready either.”

        “It’ll be okay.” You find yourself saying. You squeeze his hand this time, to reassure him.

        The room is… nothing. It's a pulsing magical dark blankness that surrounds you. Behind Asgore is a far off exit, a cave entrance maybe. He steps to the side to block it from view. His hand finally slips from yours and you feel the safety you had momentarily disappear with it.

        “This is the barrier. This is what keeps us all trapped underground.” He won’t face you. “If… If by chance you have any unfinished business… Please do what you must.”

        You glance over your shoulder. 

        You can still hear Frisk crying in the back of your mind.

        “I’m ready.” You say, taking your bat out. 

        “... … I see… This is it, then.” He turns around and smiles so softly down at you. You hear an electrical buzzing noise and then, from the ground before you, seven glass encased cylinders arise. In six of them you see floating heart shaped souls. One of them is a green color just a bit darker than your own. The world fades around you and your soul tumbles out to face the King.

        The orchestral crash of power-hungry instruments beats through your ears, revving your heart.

        A strange light fills the pulsing room.

        Twilight is shining through the barrier.

        It seems your journey is finally over.

        You imagine your hands covered in dust and an impending war tearing across the surface… 

        You’re filled with the need to show Kindness.

        “Human…” A strange breeze floats in and dramatically blows at his cape. 

        Asgore with a speed that was terrifying, darts to the side and, from hidden beneath his cape, swings out a massive trident. It was somehow even taller than him and the razor sharp edges shine.

        You take a deep breath.

        You remind yourself you have a plan. That it’ll be okay.

        Like in Toriel’s fight, you cast your hands out in front of you and, like you had hoped, two floating… buttons(?) appear before you. You had nearly forgotten about the odd phenomenon, as you had never had a use for them other than your battle with Toriel. Frisk had explained it as them and you had talked to the monsters and solved everything that way, so you had no use for the two options. 

        “Kill” and “Mercy” float in front of you. 

        If Asgore’s years of resentment couldn’t be talked through, then you could just use the “Mercy” button to show him how much you, as a human, didn’t want bloodshed… or dust-shed.

        “It was nice to meet you…” His eyes glimmer under his golden head of head. You notice them… Looking at the buttons on either side of you. “Goodbye.”

        He swings his trident out. You yelp, diving to the side to just miss an edge of it.

        You hear something shatter.

        Asgore stands back in front of you, seeming to wait for you to get to your feet. Ever so slowly, you turn to where you just were.

        Fragments of the “Mercy” button lay on the ground. You nearly stop breathing at the sight. They, and the “Kill” button left, flicker before completely disappearing.

        Fire lights up around the room, surrounding you. They burn fiercely, casting unnerving shadows on the ground and across the King’s face. 

        This…

        Well shit.

        Your whole plan to fight Asgore revolved around the “Mercy” you remembered.

        You had walked into this room with a death wish, but yet if you messed up your soul would self destruct, or worse, Asgore’s mind wouldn’t be changed. You couldn’t give him your soul and break the barrier until you were positive he wouldn’t hurt anyone.

        You can’t talk to him.

        You can’t show him your intent of “Mercy”.

        You can’t just hand him over your soul, like you planned.

        And you couldn’t run, because then nothing would happen.

        But if you fought him… To the point he had no fight left… Would the Mercy button return? Would he listen to you then or…?

        You look at the king again. You feel your emotions bubbling up as you stare at his face. He’s trying to block it all out.

        “I’m sorry.” He says.

        The first fireballs that appear and launch at you are easily dodged. The hail storms of fire almost catch you.

        When he combines the two you find yourself out of breath and scorched.

        “Asgore!” You try, already knowing he won’t listen or respond. He answers by swinging his trident at you. You throw your bat up and they bounce violently against each other. You hear the wooden crack and         you recoil.

You couldn’t block a full on hit like that again.

        It seems your bat is nearly useless in this fight. It was already beaten up from all your fights throughout the Underground.

        As you souls pulses to the song blaring in your ears, you start to feel Asgore’s emotions bleed into your own.

        Finality.

        You dive under a wave of fire, bouncing back to your feet only to get the butt of the trident into your gut, knocking you back down.

        Sorrow.

        You roll out of the way of the prongs. You crawl from a spout of fire. When you stand you’re running from a tunnel of heat. He won’t let up.

        Grief.

        He swings again and you’re just too slow getting out of its path. You hiss as it goes through your arm and right back out. You don’t have time to inspect the wound, if you stop for a second, you’ll be lit up.

        Remorse.

        Your bat, though it can’t stand up to any of Asgore’s trident attacks, or any of the larger flames, does manage to bounce the smaller ones back. Asgore only grunts when he’s hit. Every time you hear it, your soul beats faster.

        “I do not want to fight any more.”

        You nearly trip over your own feet.

        “I want my family back.”

        You turn, volleying a shower of fireballs back towards the king. You keep the momentum by spinning through it. You, will all your strength, send your bat hurtling towards Asgore, straight into his soul.

        There’s a flash of light. You throw your arms up, expecting fire, but when it dies you don’t feel any heat. Peeking over, you see Asgore down on one knee. The blaring music dims until it's just a background hum.

        “You are strong.” He says. “Nearly half of my health…” He trails off, eyes on the ground. His trident lays next to him, his open hand pressed against it. He doesn’t look like he wants to pick it up. 

        You pant, out of breath. You’re tired, already. He ran you around like a cat chasing a laser pointer. He could easily finish this fight but…

        “When will this end…?”

        “Asgore…”

        You should tell him now. Tell him that you want to give him your soul. That he doesn’t have to fight anymore. That he never has to fight. You should be telling him that you’ll die for the monsters to live out on the surface peacefully.

        You should be talking, but nothing comes out.

        As you stare at the flames surrounding you and see the grieving face of the king, as you thought about Frisk and their crying echoing in your head, you think about what you’re doing.

        What you’re really doing.

        You’re here… to show the King kindness by… By what? Finding a way to die? Finding a way to just give everything up? Rushing as quickly as possible to lob Frisk back up home without you?

        Fight him until he has no will to fight anymore humans…

        Death of the King, death of you, and the death of humanity. Your thoughts kept cycling over and over until your soul had literally torn itself up because of it.

        What if you stopped thinking about everything in terms of finale?

        What if you didn’t have to die?

        “I want my family back.”

        You did too.

        You thought of the promise you gave Toriel, who lived alone in the Ruins, only thinking about the children she’s let leave to their inevitable deaths. You thought of Undyne, who was waiting for a rematch. Of Papyrus who was adamant about cooking spaghetti for you and Frisk. You thought of what you told Sans, in the Judgement hall, about feeling loved for the first time in so many years.

        You think about how fatherly Asgore was to you, not wanting you to get scared, mere seconds before you faced him.

        No… In reality, you wanted to be selfish. Especially now after you’ve met the monsters.

        If all the possibilities you could think of that ended with you dying were hitting dead ends, what if you thought about it from…  a “Kinder” point of view?

        You remembered your talk with Sans. You remembered the fall of his face when he realized you still planned to give everything up for the kid. You remembered how Undyne had looked just as afflicted when she found it out while befriending you.

        And here Asgore was, looking down at you with a face that made your heart break. Pinched with tears in his eyes.

        He hated this.

        He was a father, after all.

        A father who had loved his children and had lost everything. A father who had cared for not only his family but for his people and wanted the best for them. 

        You had never felt that from your own father.

        When you had first decided to give up your life for Frisk to be with this conglomeration of a monster family, you didn’t have anything to live for but Frisk. And Frisk, you had decided, needed the monsters more than you.

        You didn’t have a life. Your life was lead by giving all of your love and strength to your sibling, using yourself as a meat shield to block your mother, and trying to ignore how much happier your dad was without you. Your life was working yourself sick to make ends meet for a house too big for three people and a woman who’d drink it all away. It was you desperately giving any ounce left to drag yourself to school in hopes of making a better life for you and Frisk somewhere down the road. Your town was small, bleak, and closed minded and it reminded you every day of why you weren’t good enough. 

        But the Underground was different. The people were different. It was a whole other world that cared and loved with their entire souls. Though you had tried so hard to avoid getting close the amount of friendly battles you had with random passerby and the amount of monsters you had accidentally befriended because of it, the people who knew your name and for some reason cared, astounded you.

        The fact that someone was sitting in their armchair, thinking of you and praying you were alive.

        The fact that someone was training and getting themselves excited about seeing and fighting you again.

        The fact that someone was humming in the kitchen, making you spaghetti and waiting for you to come visit.

        The fact that someone was waiting for you in a hall, thinking up puns and waiting for you to return for the kid, because they believed in you

        The fact that someone was gushing and talking a mile a minute about how you understood and accepted them and were proud to be called a friend of yours.

        If you died now… They would be sad, right? It was hard for you to wrap your mind entirely around that. If it was anyone else you would doubt that they cared, but a big part of you really believed that if you died now, it wouldn’t be just Frisk crying.

        That alone brought tears to your eyes.

        You had to think “Kinder”.

        If you let Asgore kill you, it’d be another number to his list. It’d be another child for him to mourn. Another set of eyes that would haunt him. 

        You slowly pick up your beaten bat, which had rolled away from Asgore and back to you. It used to be just covered in marks from protecting Frisk. Then, marks from fighting for their friends. Now, it had splotches of memories from fighting for your friends. Fighting for the idea of everything eventually being okay. Fighting for the hope of a new chapter.

        “I’m sorry.” You say, bouncing his earlier apology back to him. He flinches slightly at that. He knows you’re not going to back down.

        “I can’t let you beat me.” He says slowly, tensing. You nod, your soul quivering before you.

        “I can’t die here.” You say. You voice breaks. “But I can’t kill you either.”

        The king opens his mouth, but the words die on his tongue as the green light from your soul burns brighter.

        It grows brighter, and brighter, and yet brighter, until he’s shielding his eyes and squinting against it.

        “I won’t lose here. I-I can’t kill you, but I can’t give up.” You look into Asgore’s eyes. “I won’t give this up.”

        The shards of the “Mercy” button flicker back into reality. They slowly rise from the floor in front of you. The green light envelopes them and they paste themselves back together.

        The “Mercy” button is shown Kindness .

        “I understand.” The green light coats the whole room like a warm blanket. A feeling of comfort and safety wraps around you and, by Asgore’s face, you know he can feel it too. “I know how you feel Asgore. Like you have to fight, to protect the ones you care about, because you made a promise a long, long time ago. You feel like you have to uphold that promise even, if in the end, it means you’re hurt or… or worse. It doesn’t have to be like that… You don’t have to break your promise, but you don’t have to be hurt by it.” You wave your bat through the Mercy button.

         “They’ll understand.”

        “You can free the monsters, but you don’t have to carry the burden of your pain alone!”

        “You don’t have to hurt anyone.”

        “If we work together, I’m sure we can break the barrier!”

        “You can have your family back.”

        “Me and Frisk… We’ll stay as long as it takes!”

        “Child….” Asgore bows his head low, his hair nearly touching the ground. He’s shaking. Slowly, ever so slowly, he pulls his body up until he regains his footing. You notice he’s left his trident on the ground. When his eyes meet yours, they glisten with rivers of tears.

        “I do not want to hurt anyone. I just wanted everyone to have hope...But… I cannot take this any longer. I just want to see my wife. I just want to see my child. Please… Little one… This war has gone on long enough. You have the power… Take my soul, and-”

        You wave your bat through “Mercy”.

        “I won’t leave without Frisk.” You say. “Like I said, we’ll find a way to break the barrier without hurting anyone. … Let us stay here until then.”

        “After everything I have done to hurt you…” He smiles in wonder. “You would rather stay down here and suffer… Than live happily on the surface?”

        You shrug, blushing. “It’s not “suffering”. I’m with Frisk and all of you guys. We’d be happier down here, together.”

        You swallow the small piece of guilt you feel for not giving up your life for the monsters. You promise you’ll think about it later. You think it’d be best to regroup with the kid before you go off throwing your soul into Asgore’s hands. Specially after your.. revelations.

        “Human…” Asgore’s smile picks up further until it’s bright enough to almost cut through the light of your soul. “I promise you… For as long as you and your sibling remain here… My wife and I will take care of you two as best we can.” Your mouth goes dry and your heart starts to ache. “We can sit in the living room, telling stories...Eating butterscotch pie…” Butterscotch pie? Didn’t Toriel make something like that for you? “We could be like… Like a family…” 

        “I-” You begin, your voice choked, but a flicker of light stops you and draws both of your attentions.

        To the side of Asgore a fire ball has appeared. Asgore’s fire had long since been put out because of your “kindness”. You also knew it wasn’t his, because not only did he look just as confused by it, it also burned a deep red unlike his daffodil yellow flames.

        It suddenly shoots at him, you yell his name as it nears.

        It… slaps him across the face? 

        “What a miserable creature, torturing such a poor, innocent, youth… Do not be afraid, my child.”

        You whip around so fast your soul lags behind. 

        In the archway of where you had entered the barrier room stood… Stood someone you were beginning to think you wouldn’t see for a very long time.

        “It is I, Toriel, your friend and guardian.”

        A fresh wave of hot tears burn your eyes as you stare at a kindly smiling Toriel. Nestled at her side is a small Frisk who, once they see you standing, rips themselves off of the woman and sprint to you. They jump into your arms and you catch them. You hold them tightly as if they’re holding you together. Toriel seems to be trying to remain civilized but when you meet her eyes a second time she runs over to you. She wraps both you and Frisk in a tight, warm hug. 

        “At first, I thought I would let you make your journey alone… But I could not stop worrying about you both. Your adventure must have been so treacherous… and ultimately, it would burden you with a horrible choice.” She pulls away. You pull Frisk closer until you have a good hold on them. Toriel runs her paws over your face, wiping away your tears. “To leave this place, you would have to take the life of another person. You would have to defeat Asgore. However… I realized… I cannot allow that. It is not right to sacrifice someone simply to let someone leave. Is that not what I have been trying to prevent this whole time?” She holds your face. “So, for now, let us suspend this battle. As terrible as Asgore is… He deserves mercy, too.”

        Toriel sniffles quietly, smiling as she wipes some more tears from your flushed cheeks. She then steps back again, which leads to Frisk slipping from your hold and stubbornly holding your hand and Toriel’s. You ruffle their head of hair and then pull them into another side hug.

        With your soul still out, you project to Frisk, “I love you”.

        Their soul responds, “I love you too”.

        Asgore cautiously steps towards the three of you. He looks hesitant, but you smile reassuringly at him. He gives a small smile to you but his eyes refocus onto Toriel

        “Tori… You came back…!” His smile dies as Toriel stiffens behind you.

        “Do not “Tori” me, Dreemurr!” Oh. “You pathetic whelp.” Oh shit. She places a hand on your shoulder. You guess she’s still in “protect” mode. “If you really wanted to free our kind, you could have gone through the barrier after you got one soul… take six souls from the humans, then come back and freed everyone peacefully. But instead, you made everyone live in despair, because you would rather wait here, meekly hoping another human never comes.” 

        You glance between Toriel and Asgore. It’s obvious that they know each other more than just passing gossip. Like a lot more. Asgore, the king, practically shrinks in on himself.

        “Toriel... You are right… I am a miserable creature…” His saddened look lights up the tiniest bit, though. “But, do you think we can at least be friends again?” Toriel sighs and crosses her arms.

        “No, Asgore.” You think Asgore’s crying again, but you can’t tell. 

        There’s a belligerent scream behind you. You would recognize it anywhere.

        “Asgore! Human! Nobody fight each other! Everyone’s gonna make friends, or else I’ll…!” Undyne runs into the barrier room, fists up and magic crackling along her arms. She stumbles to a halt though, eyes darting between a sulking Asgore and a Toriel standing protectively in front of you and Frisk. “Uh….”

        “Hello! I am Toriel.” Toriel’s back into mom mode as she approaches Undyne. “Are you one of the human’s friends?” Undyne looks intimidated.

        “Uh, yeah...? Nice to meet you!” She side steps quickly until she’s at Asgore’s side. Then, sounding like stage whisper, she asks, “Hey Asgore, is that your ex?” Asgore solemnly nods. “Jeez. That’s rough, buddy.” She pats his back and-

        Wait… ex!? Toriel… and Asgore... Oh my god they were married? Toriel’s the queen!? The one that left him? ...Holy shit.

        You… you’re not sure how you feel about that. You did feel a lot of similarities between them when they handled you. Even their magic was similar. You didn’t want to assume they were connected in anyway just because they were both large goats, because you felt that was specie-ist. But, well, here you are, with two goat parents.

        “H-hey! Nobody hurt each other!” There’s pattering on the ground and you look back to see Alphys determinedly making her way over to you all. She takes a breather and when she finally really looks, she purses her lips and starts to sweat.

        “Hello! I am Toriel.” You bite the inside of your cheek, trying not to laugh. 

        “U-u-u-uh hi!” She looks directly at you and mouths, “There’s two of them?”. You glance from her to Toriel and Asgore. You give Alphys a funny look but she’s already distracted by Undyne. 

        If Toriel left Asgore when the first fallen human died, but Alphys, the royal scientist, didn’t recognize her…?

        The rattling of bones stops your confused thoughts. 

        Papyrus comes power walking into the room. You can’t help but laugh when you notice he has a bundle of Sans under his arm like a sack of potatoes.

        “HEY! NOBODY FIGHT ANYONE! IF ANYONE FIGHTS ANYONE…! THEN I’LL BE FORCED! TO ASK UNDYNE FOR HELP!” Sans slides out of his brothers hold and just sinks to the floor. You try so very hard to smother your laughing. 

        “Hello!” Toriel greets. You think she’s having a grand ol’ time finally meeting the other monsters.

        “OH! HELLO, YOUR MAJESTY!” Oh! So wait, Papyrus recognizes Toriel, but Alphys doesn't? Papyrus puts a mit up to his face and does a very loud stage whisper towards you and Frisk. “PSST! HEY, HUMAN… DID ASGORE SHAVE…?” He glances to Asgore. “AND… CLONE HIMSELF?” Okay nevermind.

        Sans finally stands up. He makes a show of dusting off literally nothing from his blue jacket. 

        “Hey guys… What’s up?” You give him a look, but can’t hide your grin when he winks at you.

        “That voice…!” You look over just in time to catch Toriel move around Papyrus and face Sans. “I think we may… Know each other?” You look back and forth between them.

        “Oh hey… I recognize your voice, too.”

        “So nice to finally meet you.” 

        “The name’s Sans.” He winks up at Toriel. The height difference was astounding. “And, uh, same.”

        “Oh! Wait, then…!” Toriel turns around, smiling brightly at Papyrus. “This must be your brother, Papyrus! Greetings, Papyrus! It is so nice to finally meet you! Your brother has told me so much about you.”

        “WOWIE! I CAN’T BELIEVE ASGORE’S CLONE KNOWS WHO I AM! THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” You snort.

        “Hey, Papyrus…” Toriel begins. “What does a skeleton tile his roof with?”

        “HMM? SNOW-PROOF ROOF TILES?”

        “No, silly! A skeleton tiles his roof with shin-gles!” Papyrus looks like he’s about to keel over as Sans and Toriel start losing it.

        “I CHANGED MY MIND! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!”

        “Come on Papyrus,” You nudge his arm bone. “Don’t let them get under your skin.”

        “YOU’RE RIGHT! THANK YOU HU-” His sentence chokes off as Sans and Toriel crumble in laughter. Papyrus looks at you in mild horror as you wink and send him finger guns. He screams.

        “Come on, Asgore! It’s gonna be ok! There are plenty of fish in the sea ” Undyne’s hush pep talk isn’t as quiet as you think she thinks it is. You look over only to find Undyne and Alphys holding hands, puckering their lips at each other. Toriel gently pulls Frisk to her and covers their eyes before you can get the chance.

        A hand ghosts around your shoulders and you look up to see a smug looking Mettaton. You don’t know how he’d managed to be so quiet entering the room. He pulls you to his chest, just muffling his chuckling.

        “Y-yeah, Asgore! Undyne’s totally right about that fish thing! S-Sometimes you’ve just got to, uh… S-stop going after furry boss monsters and, uh...J-Just get to know a really cute fish…?... It’s a metaphor.” Undyne laughs, pulling the scientist a little closer.

        “Well… I think it’s a good analogy.”

        “Oh my god!” Mettaton couldn’t keep quiet, squeezing you as he wiggles his free arm out towards the two women. “Will you two just smooch already!? The audience is dying for some romance action!”

        “Hey, shut up!” Undyne shouts back, shooting a glare over Alphys’s head. “Man, the nerve of that guy!” She says, as if she hadn’t kept the same volume and Mettaton wasn’t still standing next to you.

        “She doesn’t understand the emotions of a crowd.” Mettaton snaps, sighing dramatically. 

        “Like a fish out of water.” You say at the same time Toriel physically puts herself between Alphys and Undyne so they won’t kiss. 

        “Oh,” Mettaton practically purrs. “So you’re funny.” You blink up at him, stunned. You’re not sure how to answer him and instead nod and shrug at the same time in confusion. 

        “Uhh, right! S-sorry, I got a little carried away there.” Alphys mumbles. Toriel giggles and gently pats Alphys’s head.

        “That is quite alright.” She turns to you, then. Mettaton struts over to aisle up next to Alphys and Papyrus. 

        It seems they all turn to you and Frisk.

        “My children, it seems as if you must stay here for a while.” Frisk takes your hand. Toriel’s smile grows larger and she looks around the room at the group of monsters that have gathered. “But looking at all the great friends you have made… I think you both will be happy here.”

        You look down to Frisk and they look up at you. The heart that has weighed so heavy in your chest begins to lighten as they smile at you. You kneel down in front of them, taking both of their hands.

        “Frisk, all I want is for you to be happy.” You say quietly. You’re sure some of the monsters, if not all of them, can hear you. However, you talk directly to your kid. “I promised I’d get you home and I’d save your friends and… I’m not breaking that. But… it may be a bit until that happens. Are you okay with-” They wiggle their hands out of your loose hold.

        “I want to be with you!” They sign instantly and you heart squeezes. “No matter where. As long as we’re together.” You breath in, ignoring the tug of happy tears, and pull the child into your arms.

        “Always, Frisk.” You say. “Sorry.” You say even quieter. They shake their head against your shoulder and kiss your forehead when they pull back. 

        You look back to the monsters, to your friends… To your family. They smile back at you.

        There are a lot of loose ends left untied on the surface. There’s a crumbling life that still waits for you there and it still haunts the backburner of your mind. However at the moment, in the present, you can’t bring yourself to think about it. In fact… You won’t. Not now. Not when you’re so happy, surrounded by people that you love and love you. 

        Another time you’ll focus on the past.

        For right now, you stand and face your new future.

        Your new life. A happy family. You don’t think you’ve been so excited to see what your future has in store for you. You’ve never been so happy to go home, to bed, and wake up the next day. 

        “H-hey, uh, that reminds me.” Alphys turns to Papyrus, wringing her hands together. As she does, Toriel opens her arms up to you and Frisk and the child runs to hug her. “Papyrus… You called everyone, e-except her, here, right?” She gestures to Toriel.

        “You did, Papyrus?” You ask, wide eyed. You’d assumed it’d been Frisk. That, or everyone had appeared with their own agenda.

        “H-How did you know how to call everybody?” Papyrus scratches his jawbone with a red mit. You can tell he’s putting up a comedic air of mystery for effect as he hums.

        “LET’S JUST SAY…” He “nyeh heh”s … smugly? You think? “A TINY FLOWER HELPED ME.”

        “A tiny…flower…?” Alphys’s voice warbles, shaking as she starts to sweat profusely. You also see Frisk stiffen, eyes going wide. Even the lights in Sans’s skull go out.

        Something clicks for you.

        “A yellow flower.” You mumble. “Alphys, wait, a flower-”

        The ground rumbles.

        A vine - you notice it too late- bursts from the ground, whipping out and towards the people around you. 

        You hear multiples yells as the vine’s multiply. They whip wildly around, as if alive, weaving around everyone. 

        Undyne screams, spears flickering to life, but they’re put out like a flame as a vine ties her arms and lifts her.

        In a blink of an eye everyone’s off the ground, knotted by vines.

        You’re the only one standing untouched.

        Words don’t come to your mind as you stare at your friends. They look in pain, their souls emerging and flickering in and out.

        The ground in front of you gives way. You expect another vine, but instead a small buttercup pulls itself up.

        ...It has a face.

        “You idiots.” It says, voice high pitched and scratchy. It turns it’s petaled head around to view your mass of friends. It’s eyes lingering on Frisk’s shivering form. “While you guys were having your little pow-wow…” It’s face morphs, mouth stretching unnaturally and growing larger, uncannily human teeth filling it and eyes going dead. “I took the humans souls!” It turns a sharp smile to you. “And now, not only are those under my power… But all of your friends’ souls are gonna be mine, too!”

        “Who are you!?” You shout, pulling your bat up. The flower frowns, red eyes narrowing into slits.

        “Did Frisk not…” It trails off and then shoots a glare at Frisk before smiling all too sweetly at you. “I’m Flowey, Flowey the flower!” It’s giggling echoes and makes you involuntarily shiver. “I helped the kid.” It announces. You look to Frisk for confirmation but they don’t seem to be following. You don’t blame them as the magic around the vines spasms again. “I helped them when they weren’t the kid, too. I was supposed to meet him here, but, he’ll come out to me eventually. Since you came here, I haven’t seen him once.” Flowey’s smile twists. 

        “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” You say, pushing your soul forward to goad out the flowers, hoping to start a conversation.

        Flowey’s soul doesn’t show.

        “You know what the best part is?” Flowey coos. You shake your head. “This is all your fault.”

        “I-What? No!” Flowey laughs at your panic.

        “It’s all because you made them love you.” You grip your beaten bat in two hands. “All the time you spent listening to them… Encouraging them… Caring about them… Without that, they wouldn’t have come here.”

        If you had given up your soul, they wouldn’t be strangled by vines right now.

        “And now, with their souls and the humans’ together… I will achieve my real form!”

        “Why’re you doing this?” You ask, the light of your green soul dying. The green is being overpowered by the darkness of the room. The shadows creep in, as if all coming from and through Flowey. The flower sneers at you.

        “Why? Don’t you get it? This is all just a game.” For some reason that wording makes the image of a bright computer screen in the dark of a room flash behind your eyelids. It’s gone before you can really absorb it. “If you two leave the underground satisfied, you’ll “win” the game. If you “win”, you two won’t want to “play” with me anymore.  And what would I do then? But this game between us - between me, Frisk, and him, will never end. I’ll hold victory in front of you, just within you reach… And then tear it away just before you grasp it.”

        Flowey’s face starts to break apart.

        “Over, and over, and over…”

        It’s maniacal laughter echoes in your ears.

        “Listen, if you do defeat me, I’ll give you your “happy ending”. I’ll bring your friends back. I’ll destroy the barrier. Everyone will finally be satisfied.” It laughs louder. “But that’ll never happen!” 

        It’s a flower.

        You should swing your bat.

        It’s hurting your friends, killing them…

        But you can’t move as the flower’s hollow eyes bare through you. 

        “But you… Frisk, no, He brought you from the surface to “play” with me. I’ll keep you here no matter what!”

        Vines burst from the ground, they wrap around your arms before you can react.

        You yell, the thorns digging in your skin and tugging at your limbs. They squeeze and your bat falls from your hand.

        You stumble as it forcefully wraps around your calves, keeping you in place even as you viciously struggle against them. The thickest one wraps around your throat and you gasp. The magic Flowey uses to keep your friends strung up and in pain shoots dimly through the vines around you, but not as strongly. Your breathing quickens and your heart hammers against your rib cage.

        A circle of seeds appear around your unmovable soul.

        Flowey grows taller, like a weeping sunflower, and looms over you. It whispers in your ear, mouth sharp and eyes full of twisted mirth.

        “Even if it means killing you one million times.”

        The seeds fly into your soul and you bite the inside of your cheek, refusing to yell at the pain. The green heart bruises. Crumbles when it’s hit over and over again.

        As the seeds come for a third time, you know your soul won’t hold up to the attack.

        You look to Frisk.

        … ...But the seeds don’t hit.

        “What?” Flowey snaps. You hear a broken, soft laugh and your eyes are drawn to Toriel. She smiles through the pain she’s in and looks up at you

        “Do not be afraid my child...No matter what happens, we’ll always be there to protect you.” Her weakened flames flicker to life, not only burning at the vines around your ankle, but also to help bounce the seeds away from you.

        Flowey barks a laugh, turning around his limp form to sneer at your friends. 

        More seeds are summoned, but this time a small spear and a bone appear to deflect them.

        “THAT’S RIGHT, HUMAN! YOU CAN WIN!” You pull at the vines, ignoring the feel of them cutting into your flesh. “JUST DO WHAT I WOULD DO...BELIEVE IN YOU!”

        You soul starts to glow again.

        “Hey! Human! If you got past me, you can do anything! So don’t worry! We’re with you all the way!” Undyne manages a giant grin.

        “Shut up!” Flowey hisses. Another waves of magic shoots through your friends.

        You pull and your leg snaps free. You try to dig your heel into the vine on your other leg, to kick it free. Flowey notices, but seems to ignore you for the most part as he focuses on sending seeds at your soul. You turn a blind eye to it, trusting your friends to guard you.

        “Huh?” You hear Sans chuckle weakly over your head. You kick the vine again and it splinters and falls off. “You haven’t beaten this guy yet? Come on, this weirdo's got nothin’ on you.”

        Your soul burns brighter. You throw your weight forward, trying to wrench your way free. 

        Rows of lightning bolts and fire burst out, dusting the seeds away. 

        “Technically, it’s impossible for you to beat him…” You send a quick look to Alphys. “B-but… somehow, I know you can do it!”

        “Come on darling!” Mettaton calls, grunting. “You’re a star now after being on my show, no time to dawdle around, your fans are waiting!”

        “Human,” Asgore begins as you rip one of your arms free, yelling at the pain of the thrown tearing through your skin. “For the future of humans and monsters…! You have to stay determined…!”

        You hear pounding footsteps behind you.

        You hear the murmur of voices that you had thought was white noise suddenly get louder.

        Voices, that are calling for the human to be spared.

        Voices, that yell for you to be strong.

        You dig your fingers into the vine around your neck, loosening it just a bit to be able to look over your shoulder.

        Hundreds of monsters have gathered. They can’t get close, not enough to step into the battle as Flowey had used it's vines to barricade you all inside. However, you can hear their shouting. You can see them over the top as they boost each other higher to wave at you.

        You don’t get why they’re here. You don’t understand why so many are here cheering for you.

        Their kind words, their reassurance, their love for you, make your soul burn brighter. It’s fallen pieces slowly paste themselves back together.

        Your soul is filled with Kindness.

        “No!” Flowey barks again. You look back to see the flower has shrunken in on itself. It looks around at the people and frowns. “Unbelievable! This can’t be happening…! You… you…!”

        His upset suddenly takes a one-eighty. His demonic smile returns as he darts close to you again, petals brushing against your cheeks.

        “I can’t believe you’re all so stupid.” The rooms suddenly burns with a bright white light, drowning your vision.

        You hear monsters behind you start to scream.

        “All of your souls are mine!” 

        There's a feeling of suction against your soul. A wind whips up, blowing around and pulling everything in towards the laughing flower. The screaming becomes louder, your vision blurs, the white light smolders and--

        Then there’s nothing.

        No wind.

        No light.

        No room.

        No monsters.

        Just you, standing free of vines.

        And in front of you a small, white-furred child with their back to you.