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Song of the Soul

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Chapter 1 - Exposed

 

When you arrived at the L-shaped bar counter in the establishment, you found that there was no one currently there to serve you. Standing beside the bar for a moment, your eyes scanned over the vast selection of alcohol behind the sleek black bar. Shelved alphabetically by name, there was an array of both human and monster liquor on display. After waiting around for a few minutes, you nibbled on your bottom lip before deciding to relax a little. Taking a seat in one of the burgundy bar stools, you took the time to examine the bar you would be playing in.

The floor of the building was a beautiful light wood, helping to brighten up the place. Meanwhile, the walls were a rather dark burgundy that seemed to give off a bit of a warm atmosphere. While all the tables in the building matched the black color of the bar, the chairs were all the same burgundy color. There were a few booths pushed up against the wall that looked rather cozy. In fact, you were pretty sure that there was a rabbit-like monster taking a nap in one. Turning your attention to the lights hanging on the wall, you noticed that they were all simply candles surrounded by glass. It reminded you of something you would see in an old-timey establishment but you liked it. In the back right corner of the bar, there was a slightly raised stage with a lovely black upright piano. Though it was obviously a bit worn down, it was easy to see that it was well cared for and loved. If anything, the worn down look was from loving use of the instrument and not abuse of it.

Feeling a warm heat radiating from behind you, it took a moment before you glanced back towards the bar. Before you stood a monster made completely out of fire. Wearing a white dress shirt, the monster had on a black bow tie and vest which was buttoned up completely.  Along with this, he word black slacks and matching dress shoes. Glancing up to see the glasses on his face, you wondered just how his clothing wasn’t burning. Quickly realizing that you had been staring, you fluttered out, “You’re Grillby, right? I’m _____, the person you hired to play here tonight. Just thought I should introduce myself face-to-face before I start on the music. I figured you’d like to know that it was actually me before you saw some stranger messing around with your piano.”

Seeming to be the quite type, Grillby simply gave a small nod before holding out his hand towards you. Assuming that he wouldn’t offer his hand if it would harm you, a smile graced your face before your hand met his. Giving the monster’s hand a firm shake, you released his hand soon afterwards before hopping off of the bar stool. Making sure that you still had your bag, you gave the owner a small wave before walking over to the piano.

Placing your bag beside the piano, you knelt down to grab a few musical scores out of your bag before putting them on the piano. You doubted that you would actually be playing any of the songs you had written by yourself but it never hurt to have them just in case. After yanking a bottle of water out of the bag, you zipped it back up before putting the drink to the side. For a few minutes, you fiddled with the nearby microphone so that you would be able to use it if the need arose. Finding that everything was set up to your liking, you took a seat on the piano bench and cracked your knuckles.

For your first hour in the bar, you simply played songs that people would be familiar with. While there were a few classical tunes mixed in, most of what you performed were piano versions of modern day songs. It seemed as if the monsters were glad to have the music filling the bar and adding to the overall atmosphere. Everything seemed very lively and you were glad to be part of the night. Smiling to yourself, your fingers skillfully went through the final run of the song you were currently ending.

Taking a moment for yourself, you moved to pick up your water bottle only to find the plastic container empty. Frowning to yourself, you were about to stand up when you felt someone lightly tug the hem of your dress. A little confused, you looked over to your right to see a small child smiling up at you. The small child wore a blue sweater with two purple stripes running horizontally in the middle, yet they seemed a little bit swamped in the fabric. In fact, it was almost as if the sweater was just a size too big as the sleeves seemed to be covering up their hands. They wore blue jean shorts and a pair of brown leather boots to complete the outfit. Their straight brown hair ended at their chin in a rather cute bob cut and they had short bangs that ended just above their eyes. It looked like the child’s bangs could grow and cover up the child's beautiful brown eyes eyes any day now. In the child’s hands was a glass of water that they were extending towards you. You wondered just how this child was in the bar, certainly they couldn’t be older than ten.

“Is that for me, Sweetie?” you asked, raising an eyebrow at the young child. Almost instantly, the brunette grinned before nodding their head quickly. Giggling as the kid’s actions, you graciously took the glass from their hands before taking a gulp of the cool liquid. Placing the glass to the side, you ruffled the child’s hair before cooing, “You’re such a sweetheart that’s definitely after my own heart! In fact, I think you deserve a song of your own. What do you think, Sweetie? Wanna write a song with me?”

Hearing your words, the child before you was practically beaming as they jumped up and down with delight. Laughing as you watched the child, you felt your heart swell with admiration for the young child. They were certainly sweet and you silently applauded whoever had raised them because they had definitely done a stellar job. Once the child had calmed down slightly, they looked up at you expectantly.

Holding your own hands out to them, you decided to act towards their child-like sense of wonder. After all, what child didn’t like to hear about magic? It wasn’t as if anyone would believe that you were actually using magic. Whenever you were about to listen into a child’s soul song, you always up-played it and made it seem as if you were a magician of some sort. It was always a treat to see how excited the little tikes would be and the parents always seemed to appreciate it.

“Alright, so place your hands in mind and close your eyes. I’m going to use my magical music abilities to write a song that’s meant specifically for you. Once I’m done, I’ll play it out loud and you can tell me if you like the masterpiece that we’ve created together,” you explained, patiently waiting for the child’s hands. Once the young brunette had rolled their sleeves up, they rested their hands in your upturned palms and squeezed their eyes shut. Closing your eyes soon after, you held the ten-year-old’s hands in your own and began to focus. It took a moment but once you had gotten yourself onto the same frequency as the child’s soul, you were in for a shock.

Almost instantly, it felt as if you had been smashed in the face with a handful of lyrics. Never before had a soul song ever been so forward with the words that went along to the music. For a moment, it had almost broken your concentration from the initial shock. Shaking your head, your eyebrows furrowed together as you deepened your concentration. The song seemed to be slower than any song you had ever heard from a child before, yet it was truly a heart-warming tune. It would definitely be easy to play on the piano, which was definitely a relief because you hadn’t brought any of your other instruments with you.

After a moment, you opened your eyes before releasing the child’s hands from your own. Noticing that you had let them go, the young child opened their own eyes and stared up at you in anticipation. Giving the child a wink, you whispered, “I think we’re about to create a lovely song, Sweetie. I’ll get ready to play this song for you to hear. Why don’t you go meet up with whoever you came with and tell them the news? I’m sure your friends would love to know that this next song is your song.”

Practically glowing at your words, the brunette child smiled and waved at you before turning on their heel and dashing off. Watching the child disappear into the crowd, you realized that you hadn’t even asked the kid for their name. Then again, the sweetheart hadn’t seemed very keen on talking. First Grillby and now the little kid. In your mind, you wondered if anyone was actually going to speak a word to you tonight. Shrugging to yourself, you took a moment to drink some more water before putting it back in its place.

Scanning the bar, you were able to spot the young child at a rather crowded booth. While you weren’t able to see who exactly surrounded the brunette child due to how crowded the bar was, you assumed that they were back with their family. Deciding that now was the best time to play the soul song of the young child, you held back a smile as you turned to the mic. Turning on the microphone, your voice finally echoed through the speakers for the first time that night, “Hello everyone, it’s your lovely pianist here! I hope everyone is having a great night. This next song is dedicated to the little sweetheart who brought me a glass of water with practically perfect timing. The two of us made this little tune together, so I certainly hope you enjoy it.”

Taking a deep breath, your fingers easily found the correct keys as you started to play the music that was practically engraved into your mind at that current moment. The young child’s soul song had been stronger than any you had ever heard before and it had certainly let a lasting impression in your head. Almost instantaneously, you found yourself unable to hold back the lyrics that seemed to echo within this soul song. Letting the words leave your mouth, a soft smile graced your lips without you realizing it.

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
'Til it was a battle cry
I'll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

As the song picked up a little bit, your eyes slipped shut as you continued onwards. The child’s soul song made you think of a long, grueling journey which ended with a happy ending. It reminded you of family and seemed to warm up your soul and if it were wrapped up in a hug. You wanted to convey these feelings for everyone in the bar. This song was one that everyone should hear. It was a lovely melody and you had never heard one quite like it. Then again, you were already aware that no two soul songs were alike.

Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye

As the soul song went into its instrumental moment, you put all your will into portraying all these emotions to the patrons of the bar. It was a song which spoke of never giving up in the face of adversity. Within the song, there was the tale of a young child who simply wished for everyone around them to believe in themselves and a brighter tomorrow. This was truly a selfless tune which showed just how much the little sweetheart cared for the ones around them. The brunette’s soul song was one that seemed to fill the room with determination and love.

Once the song began to reach its end, it started to slow down once more. Accompanying the music with your voice, you did your best to express all the emotions in the lyrics. While your singing was rather good, expressing feelings through lyrics had never been your strong suit. You could only hope that you were doing the song justice with the words you sang. Though it wasn’t the lyrics you were troubled over, you simply hoped that you had given the soul song the true beauty that it deserved.

Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
'Til they're before your eyes
You'll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You'll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye

Letting your voice rest with the end of the lyrics, you played the last few notes before letting your hands fall away from the piano. Grasping the glass of water by your side, you took a big gulp before putting it back down. As cheers and claps filled the air, your soft smile turned into a huge grin. You were proud that everyone had enjoyed the young child’s soul song, for it was definitely one that everyone could enjoy. In some cases, there were soul songs that would clash with the personalities of others. In cases such as those, not everyone could enjoy the song. It was rather similar to people not liking certain genres of music. Of course, the little sweetheart’s soul song had not run into that problem.

Soon enough, you had gone back to playing songs that already existed. It was a nice way to relax and recharge after playing the soul song of someone. If you played several soul songs back to back, you would get drained rather quickly. You had figured that out the hard way when you were younger. When you were 21, you had played four soul songs back to back before passing out from how much energy it had seemingly drained from you. Though you weren’t sure why it had drained you so much, you hadn’t attempted to do such a thing ever since. Like the smart person you were, you took breaks between soul songs to let yourself rest. While sometimes the breaks would just be normal songs, they were sometimes actual food breaks. Both worked for what you needed, so it didn’t really matter which you did.

It wasn’t long before the brunette child had come back to your side. In fact, it had only been about fifteen minutes since you had played the young one’s soul song. Before you could react, the little child leapt into your arms and hugged you tightly. Feeling rather special due to the hug, you ruffled the child’s hair once more before teasing, “I guess that means that you enjoyed the masterpiece we made together. I told you that you’d like it. In fact, I think it suited you perfectly.”

After a minute or two, the child slipped out of your grasp before staring up at you. Holding up their pointer finger as a sign for you to wait a moment, the brunette child soon turned around and weaved their way back into the crowd. Not long after they had left, you could spot the young child heading your way with a rather stout skeleton monster trailing behind them. Dragging the monster along, it seemed that the brunette was determined to get the monster to meet you. While the child and monster were busy with getting back to you, you took a moment to examine the monster.

The skeleton was taller than the young child by a foot, yet you had a feeling that you would be taller than the skeleton if you stood up. With a lazy dimpled smile plastered on his face, it was obviously that he was rather relaxed. In fact, with the way the boney monster was portraying himself, it seemed as if he considered Grillby’s to be a second home. Though his large eyes were half-closed, his glowing white pupils were focused on the brunette child as they dragged him along. Donning a blue hoodie with white fur lining the hood, it was easy to see the white t-shirt underneath since he hadn't bothered to zip the jacket. Though the black basketball shorts with white stripes on the sides seemed ridiculous, it was the pink slippers on his feet which made nearly snort.

After a lot of tugging, the kid had finally gotten the skeleton monster to follow them over to you. Looking at the two, you smiled before giving the monster a small nod of acknowledgement. Turning your gaze back to the brunette, you chirped, “You know, I never did get your name, Sweetheart. Usually you’re supposed to know the name of a person before you meet their friends. Then again, I guess I really didn’t introduce myself to you either.”

“their name is frisk. the kiddo is mute, so don’t take it to heart that they never told you. i know i didn’t,” the skeleton monster joked, catching your attention quite easily. Glancing over at him, you raised an eyebrow as you waited for the monster to continue. Seeming to catch on, the stout monster was quick to state, “my name is sans and that’s certainly no fibula. the little tater tot here wanted me to meet their ‘super cool new friend’ so i thought that i may as well follow them before they got too sternum with me.”

Unable to hold back any longer, you laughed at the rather lame skeleton puns before shaking your head. Once you had calmed down a bit, you rolled your eyes and smiled at the skeleton, “Nice to meet you, I’m _____. It’s not every day that I meet someone with the ability to pull puns out of thin air. You must be rather good at it.”

“you’re right. in fact, you could say that i’m rather sansational when it comes to the art of puns,” the jacket-clad monster responded, earning another round of laughter from you. Before you could continue the conversation, a tug on your dress directed your attention back to Frisk. Staring at them for a moment, you raised an eyebrow as they signed something out. Since you weren’t really able to understand what was being said, you felt a little awkward. However, it seemed that Sans understood the child perfectly fine, “c’mon kiddo, don’t bug the lady over something like that.”

Hearing Sans’ words, Frisk seemed to huff before rolling their eyes. Once they realized that you couldn’t understand them, the child got rather creative. At first, they pointed at the piano before pointing at you and Sans at the same time. To finish up, the child pretended to play the piano before grinning up at you. Processing everything that you had seen, you slowly questioned, “You want me to do the same thing I did for you, but with Sans?”

Glad that you had caught on so fast, Frisk clapped their hands together before giving a big nod. Letting out a sigh, Sans noogied the little child before rolling his eye lights. Looking up to stare at you, he stated, “don’t worry about listening to what the kiddo is asking. by the end of the night, they’re probably gonna want you to play a song for everyone in their family. anyway, you’re not really paid to deal with this little fart’s wishes.”

“Oh no! It’s honestly fine with me. If you’re alright with it, I’ll gladly play a song meant just for you. It’s quite fun to do and it really lets me see just how diverse I can be with music. It’s really not a problem at all,” you said with a smile, doing your best to hide how nervous you were. You really wanted to play the soul song of another monster since your first time had been rather long ago. While Sans seemed unsure at first, he ultimately gave in after some persistent nagging from Frisk. After explaining what to do the same exact way you had done for the brunette child, you held your hands out.

“we haven’t even been on the first date yet and you’re already holding my hands. how forward of you!” Sans joked, placing his skeletal hands in your own. Rolling your eyes, you simply closed your eyes and began to focus. After a much longer period of searching, you were finally able to find Sans’ soul frequency. For someone who was obviously a funny guy, a jolt of surprise ran through you when such a haunting song seemed to flow into your ears. Listening to the tune for a few moments, you soon opened your eyes and released the skeleton’s hands.

“You’re sure that this is alright with you? I know Frisk was a little pushy with you about letting me do this,” you whispered, meeting Sans’ eye lights for a moment. Raising a brow bone - which was something you were definitely going to ask about later - the monster simply gave a nod before grabbing Frisk’s hand in his own. Pausing for a moment, you returned his nod before mumbling, “As long as you’re alright with it.”

Once Frisk and Sans had returned to the rest of their group, you sat down at your piano in silence. Taking a shaky breath, you tried to calm your nerves as you prepared yourself to play the song. After a minute and several sips of water, you decided to stop stalling the matter. If you kept the two waiting, they would certainly grow concerned with your action. Moving to the microphone, you hummed out, “This song is dedicated to monster that a certain little sweetheart introduced me to. I hope you enjoy your song.”

Beginning the song, a haunting and slow melody left your piano as you played the tune you had heard. While the song in the skeleton’s soul had gone much faster than what you were playing, you felt as if the lyrics that had come with it suited this slower pace much better. As the music swam through the bar, you felt as if you had been dropped into a hopeless situation. Soon enough, the lyrics slipped past your lips as you closed your eyes. Seeming to sway with the music, you easily sank into the emotion behind it all. The emotion behind every word was raw and full of pain. You felt as if you had been stabbed in the back by a friend that you had trusted with your life and your soul seemed to ache.

Listen and hear a song the birds are singing
Sit down a while and watch the flowers blooming
A pleasant breeze flows by leaving a trail of dust
This is your fault, right?

Standing in the corridor
Who thought we’d be here like this together?
On a gorgeous day like this, I ask

What is it that you want?

I believe there was a time
Where we could be pals and things were better
Eating bad food, enjoying laughs
Can we go back to that?

Continuing to push the song forward, you found yourself fighting back tears that were trying to form. As the song continued, it seemed as if you were trying to beg for things to go back to the way they were. This song was a single wish placed within a song. It was a wish for a friendship to be reformed and problems to be resolved. The emotions behind the tune were betrayal and sadness. You felt as if you had lost everything that ever mattered to you all due to a single person who you had considered a friend.

If you’re in there listening, kid,
Just reset the timeline and
Let’s please forget all of this

Even after what you did he believed in you
’til the end.

Looking at your face right now
That expression tells me I can’t
Afford not to care anymore

Turn this path around, wipe your dirty hands clean.
Give up!

Please don’t come back
If you’re my friend

Please...

Pushing the song to its end, you felt as if your entire being was being dragged down into a pit of never ending despair. There seemed to be no way of winning whatever adversity you were seemingly facing. No matter how hard you tried, you would lose. Since that was the case, shouldn’t you just give up? While you certainly wanted to, you knew that you wouldn’t give up. However, you weren’t fighting for yourself anymore. No, you were fighting for all the people you had seemingly lost.

Listen and hear a song the birds are singing
Sit down a while and watch the flowers blooming
A pleasant breeze flows by leaving a trail of – (dust)
How could you have done this?

Is there still
A glimmer of hope?
Will you choose
To do the right thing?

Please now, bud
If you’re there
Have a change of heart

Listen and hear a song the birds are singing
Sit down a while and watch the flowers blooming
What a nice day...

With the song complete, you opened your eyes only to realize that your tears must have escaped you at some point. In fact, it seemed as if the song had brought everyone to tears. If there was one thing about soul songs, it was that they were filled with the emotions of the person they belonged to. Due to that, people listening to the song had the possibility of experiencing the emotions that were portrayed in the song.

Wiping your face dry with the heels of your hands, you took a quick gulp of water before moving back to the microphone. Voice a little hoarse, you whispered, “Sorry about the sad song everyone. Wasn’t it beautiful in its own bittersweet way though? Now then, before I take my first 30-minute break for the night, let me play a few happier songs to lighten up the mood.”

Sinking back into the joyous melodies of current pop songs played on piano, you were unaware of the two sets of eyes that seemed glued to your form. While a set of brown eyes belonging to Frisk seemed filled with disbelief and regret, the sharp eye lights of Sans were filled with curiosity and distress. However, both sets of eyes were overflowing with grief and sadness.

Unknown to you, that was when you had started the hands of fate. After all, you had just exposed the one event that two beings had been trying their best to forget.