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We Need to Talk

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‘A PICNIC WITH ALL OUR FRIENDS, WITH FOOD AND DRINKS MADE BY EVERYONE! ISN’T THIS EXCITING, SANS!?’

Papyrus was gazing around the huge, pretty garden at all the gathered monsters and humans, his eye sockets wide, almost shining, and his permanent grin much wider than usual. He was practically bouncing in excitement as he waved and yelled a greeting at everyone he met. Sans grinned in amusement as he glanced up as his younger brother, delighted that he was so excited. “yep, sure is.” He replied, walking beside his brother in slow, calm strides, hands in his pocket as usual.

‘OH, THERE’S FRISK! AND MISS TORIEL!’ Papyrus whirled around, almost bumping into Sans, and pointed towards Frisk setting a large pie on one of the pretty picnic tables in the garden. Beside them was Toriel, holding a large basket containing a variety of her homemade pies. Since Papyrus’ voice was so loud, both of them heard him instantly, and waved over to the two skeleton brothers. Toriel waved delicately with a warm smile, while Frisk raised their hand and waved aggressively in delight. It was a surprise to see Toriel here at the picnic, since it’s being held in the large garden behind Asgore’s cottage, and she was still on strict no-talking terms with Asgore. However, she seemed to have put aside her disdain towards Asgore to attend this picnic, which was a celebration among the monsters for being freed from the Underground for six months. After all, according to her, “Frisk really wished to come to this picnic to see all the friends they made during their adventure.”

Not all the monsters were here, as some of them were busy with jobs, or have moved too far away to come, but most of them managed to make it to the picnic, bringing food along to share. There were also some humans as well, friends that some of the monsters had made after they reached the surface, so the garden was quite full. It was a lovely sight, with sunlight from the clear blue sky shining on crowds of happy monsters and humans, sitting around picnic tables or on the green grass, with blooming flowers and shady trees surrounding them.

Papyrus dashed at full speed across the grass towards Frisk and Toriel, screeching to a halt just before he ran them over. He scooped Frisk up in a hug, and gave Toriel a hug as well after gently settling Frisk down. Frisk always noticed how extremely gentle he was when he hugged them, he always gave them tight, warm hugs, but kept them a few inches away from his body, as if he was worried that he might accidentally injure them if he held them too close.

‘hey toriel. hey frisk.’ Sans strolled up casually towards the two, winking at them, ‘glad to see that you both brought your amazing pies as well, toriel, i’ve been pie-ning for your pies for a while now.’

‘SANS WHY?!’ shrieked Papyrus in mock frustration, gesturing wildly. Sans’ grin simply widened, as Toriel and Frisk started giggling.

‘I am delighted that you are both here as well,’ Toriel replied, ‘And I am pleased that you enjoy my pies, I made them crust right for everyone.’

Papyrus let out an anguished yell, prompting Sans to burst out laughing and the other two to start giggling again. Although Sans was even more amused to see that Papyrus has a wide, genuine grin on his face at the pun, but was trying his best to hide it.

‘Konichiwa punks!!’ Papyrus suddenly found himself in a headlock, his skull being rubbed in aggressively by a strong, webbed hand. Undyne had arrived at the picnic, and somehow managed to sneak up behind all of them to surprise Papyrus. Alphys was there as well, feeling very nervous about joining such a big social event, but finally gave in after being showered with encouragement by Undyne, whom she was now living with. She gazed up at everyone, greeting them one by one shyly, while nodding over to Sans and hugging Frisk.

‘P…PLEASE DO NOT NOOGIE THE SKELETON…’ gasped Papyrus in desperation. Undyne laughed, and released him suddenly, causing him to fall face-first onto the grass, although she immediately bent down to help him up.

‘I…it’s a lovely day, isn’t it, everyone?’ Alphys remarked, to which everyone replied happily that it was.

Undyne took a seat and proceeded to excitedly inform everyone about the new house she and Alphys bought, how it had enough space for them to build a huge home lab for Alphys, how big the fire-proof kitchen was, and how there was even a large swimming pool. Alphys, gaining confidence from her, added to the conversation with how they had decorated the house. Everyone else listened with interest, with occasional teasing interjected by Sans and Papyrus.

Frisk, who was all the while smiling at this conversation, suddenly turned to Toriel, and began signing quickly to her. Toriel, having learned sign language to be able to understand Frisk, looked rather solemn all of a sudden.

‘You wish to use the bathroom?’ Toriel seemed to hesitate for a while, before nodding, ‘Very well then, but please do not take too long. Come back as soon as you are done.’ Frisk gave an apologetic, but half-hearted smile, before heading towards Asgore’s cottage hurriedly. Despite monsters not needing to use the bathroom, Asgore had one built in his house, in case Frisk or any humans visited him or stayed over in his cottage.

The five of them continued their conversation, while starting to enjoy one of Toriel’s delicious pies. Several minutes later, they began to realize how long Frisk was taking, and that Toriel was starting to get troubled by Frisk’s absence, as much as she tried to hide it.

About 10 minutes later, they saw Asgore heading over towards them from his cottage. Toriel looked away, but the rest of them greeted their king happily, with Papyrus giving him a hug, and Undyne practically flinging herself onto him in her excitement. Sans simply grinned, while Alphys continued to look bashful as she would always do in his presence. They all began chatting with him all at once, with Asgore laughingly having to tell them to slow down so he could answer them one at a time, while Toriel continued to stubbornly remain silent.

‘Ah, y...your majesty? H…have you seen Frisk?’ Alphys suddenly interjected, voicing out everyone’s concern, ‘They went to your house to use the bathroom, b…but it’s been a long time, and th…they never came back.”

‘Frisk? Well, I did not see them come into my house at all.’ Asgore replied.

‘But we saw them heading to your house, they said they wanted to use your bathroom.’ Undyne exclaimed.

Asgore pressed one paw against his chin lightly, thinking, before answering, ‘No, I have been in my house the past 10 minutes, and I did not see them entering or using my bathroom. Are they not somewhere in the garden?’

‘No, I do not think so,’ in her concern for Frisk, Toriel broke her silence towards Asgore, gazing towards him with a puzzled expression, ‘They said they wished to use your bathroom, and we saw them heading to your house.’ She paused for a while, and continued as she glanced down, clasping her paws, ‘I worry about them. It seems that they have not been well for the past few weeks. They started developing this tendency of suddenly dropping what they were doing and rushing away to remote locations, such as their bedroom at home, or bathrooms when we are out. For a while I assumed they were ill, and wanted to heal them or bring them to a human doctor, but there does not seem to be anything wrong with them. They often looked dazed or frightened whenever this happens, and I believe I have heard them talk to themself in their room before, while they were alone. It seems that they are doing it again.’

The group at the table fell silent, while the cheerful voices from other monsters and humans continued around them. Papyrus was the first to break the silence by standing up and stating confidently, ‘PERHAPS I SHOULD GO TO CHECK ON THEM, TO SEE IF THEY’RE ALRIGHT.’

‘Do not worry yourself over them, Papyrus, I shall go to fetch them.’ Toriel pushed back her chair, but Papyrus immediately stopped her.

‘NO, MS TORIEL, I WILL HEAD TO THE BATHROOM AND CHECK ON THEM. PLEASE CONTINUE ENJOYING THE PICNIC.’ Papyrus always felt the need to be useful towards everyone in any way he could, so he jumped at every opportunity of being able to offer assistance.

‘Very well. Please look for them and bring them back here, that would be much appreciated,’ Toriel answered with a grateful smile, while Asgore nodded in agreement.

‘I SHALL BRING THEM BACK SAFE AND SOUND, SO DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING, MS TORIEL. YOU CAN TRUST ME, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, TO ASSIST YOU.’ Papyrus continued enthusiastically, posing with one hand over his chest. He heard Undyne cheering, playing along with his dramatic act, and saw Sans’ grin widening. He felt a sense of pride. He always enjoyed being overly dramatic for the sake of the approval from both of the people he admired the most, it was nice to see them so amused by him.

He headed over to Asgore’s cottage with quick, long strides. It was a large, comfortable looking wooden cottage, very spacious with only one floor. Vibrant flowers and plants surrounded the house, and a large greenhouse stood beside the house. He searched around the house, calling for Frisk. It was much quieter around the house, but when he paused to listen, he could not hear any response from them.

He stepped into the house, calling for them again at the door. To his surprise, a much different but familiar voice replied him.

‘Frisk isn’t here. Now get out of here, your voice hurts my head.’

Papyrus perked up, and quickly headed over to the direction of the voice. ‘FLOWEY?’

Flowey had been planted in a flowerpot, and was placed on a wide window seat by Asgore. He turned toward Papyrus with a frustrated expression. ‘I said they’re not here. Go away.’

‘FLOWEY! IT HAS BEEN A WHILE SINCE I HAVE SEEN YOU!’ Papyrus ignored Flowey’s response as he greeted him excitedly. ‘I HAVE HEARD THAT ASGORE IS NOW TAKING CARE OF YOU, BUT I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY VISITED YOU HERE BEFORE.’

‘That’s because I don’t like visitors. I got him to keep me indoors so I don’t need to see anyone.” Flowey still looked annoyed, but sounded much less grumpy. As much as he hated it, he could not help having a soft spot for Papyrus, especially since the skeleton seemed so delighted to see him.

‘WHY ARE YOU NOT OUTSIDE, JOINING US ON THE PICNIC?’

‘I told you I don’t like visitors, idiot, I’m not gonna go out and I’m not gonna meet anyone.’ Flowey pouted, ‘Look, if you want to find your precious Frisk, they’re in the greenhouse.’ He pointed a leaf towards the greenhouse outside the window, ‘I saw them run in there about 10 minutes ago. Besides, that’s where they always hide if they start acting up whenever they come over to visit d-Asgore.’

‘THANK YOU, FLOWEY. I SHALL TALK TO YOU LATER.’ Papyrus, after flashing Flowey a grateful smile, immediately leaned over, threw open the window, and leaped out by vaulting over the window seat. Flowey shrieked.

‘Use the door next time!!” he heard Flowey’s yell behind him as he headed over to the greenhouse.

Papyrus pushed open the door of the greenhouse, and peeked in. Warm air wafted out of the door, but the greenhouse was completely silent. “FRISK?” he called out.

He heard a soft shuffling noise, like someone moving their feet slightly upon being startled. He headed into the greenhouse, searching around quickly, and finally found Frisk as they were in the act of trying to hide behind several large burlap sacks.

‘AH, THERE YOU ARE FRISK!’ he said cheerfully, holding out one hand, ‘COME ON, EVERYONE IS WAITING FOR YOU. DON’T YOU WANT TO…’ He stopped when he noticed Frisk’s wide-eyed, terrified expression. They were clutching their head with one hand, while holding out another hand with their palm facing towards Papyrus as if to stop him from getting any closer. For a moment it looked like they were about to speak, but instead they stopped themself, and began signing frantically.

(Not now. I’ll join the picnic later. Please let me be.)

‘ARE YOU ALRIGHT, FRISK? YOU SEEM TO BE IN PAIN. SHALL I CALL TORIEL OVER TO…’

Leave.

Papyrus retracted his hand, recoiling his entire body from Frisk. That did not sound like Frisk’s voice. It had the same childish ring to it, but was much harsher, colder in tone. Frisk, for a moment, had a horrible look on their face. A wide grin, large glinting eyes. The look very quickly faded as they began to act even more frantic and terrified, hiding their face from Papyrus, keeping their eyes shut tightly, and wildly tried to wave him away.

‘Please go.’ This was said in a much softer tone, and sounded more like the Frisk he was used to. Feeling utterly confused, and perhaps just a bit frightened, Papyrus reluctantly obeyed, taking a few steps back while keeping his eyesockets trained on Frisk, before turning and quickly heading out of the greenhouse.

As he was closing the greenhouse door, it dawned upon him that he really shouldn’t have left Frisk. What scared him so much? Frisk’s voice? Sure, it sounded more malicious than usual, which did not fit Frisk at all, but maybe it was just his imagination. Maybe they were just sick but didn’t want to worry Toriel about it. He frowned as much as his permanent grin would let him. Something still bothered him, a faded memory, a fragment of something he couldn’t quite recall, or maybe didn’t want to recall. It nagged at him. That face, that voice. He knew who it belonged to, or at least, he felt like he should know, but just couldn’t remember. He had seen it before, that nasty, sadistic grin. Plastered on a face, shuffling over towards him in the snow, hands clutching something, covered in dust, a quick slash, pain across his neck, so cold…

‘Didn’t you find them in there?’ called Flowey, peering out at him from the window he left open. His usual false grin was on his face, but his expression was completely unreadable.

‘YES. I DID. THEY SEEM PRETTY SICK. I’M NOT FAMILIAR WITH HUMAN ILLNESSES SO I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS WRONG. I AM ABOUT TO CALL TORIEL OVER TO…’

‘You’ve been standing by the door for a really long time,’ Flowey interjected, tilting his head slightly, ‘Just staring into space, with a blank expression.’ Blank, and with a strange glint in one of his eye sockets, but Flowey did not want to tell him that, ‘Something on your mind?’

Papyrus tried to answer, but he didn’t quite know what to say. Now that he thought about it, he had seen that expression on Frisk’s face, but not recently. It felt like years ago, a lifetime ago. But that was impossible. He had just met Frisk six months ago, when they were still traversing the Underground before the monsters were freed. They never made an expression like that during the time he spent with them, and they never spoke in that odd voice before (then again they didn’t speak at all while Underground). However, it still felt like, a long time ago, he had seen it…

‘Papyrus! You’re doing it again!’ Flowey said in exasperation, although he felt partially worried over the strange blank expression Papyrus kept getting. Papyrus shook his head, turning back to face Flowey, still unable to speak. ‘Look,’ Flowey continued, ‘If you really want to know what’s bothering Frisk, I can tell you, but I’m not sure if your naive mind can even grasp something this complicated.’

There was a change in Papyrus’ expression when Flowey said that, but that expression was gone as quickly as it appeared, although Flowey was almost certain that it was a look of pain. Flowey felt a pang of guilt for insulting Papyrus by calling him naïve. After all, he never enjoyed being called naïve, back when he was still Asriel. They always liked to call him naïve, and while they claimed they were simply joking, it still hurt.

‘Fine, idiot, I’ll tell you later, maybe after the picnic or something.’ He paused as he saw the greenhouse door being pushed open, and Frisk peering out nervously, ‘Although I think Frisk should be the one telling you this. They really shouldn’t be keeping dangerous secrets to themself, it’s going to destroy them from the inside sooner or later.’ He raised his voice just loud enough for Frisk to hear, prompting Frisk to gaze at him in exasperation.

Papyrus whirled around, his demeanour and expression changing suddenly, going from sullen and brooding to bubbly and cheerful. Flowey noted that the change seemed much too quick, almost forced. ‘FRISK!’ he said jauntily, ‘YOU WERE IN THAT GREENHOUSE FOR QUITE A LONG TIME, I HAD NO IDEA HUMANS USED GREENHOUSES AS BATHROOMS.’ Flowey frowned, that was a lie, Papyrus came into the house looking for Frisk first, he clearly knew where the bathroom was, why was he lying to Frisk like this? Frisk, however, did not seem to notice, and just smiled, ‘WE SHOULD HEAD BACK TO JOIN THE PICNIC, MS TORIEL AND THE REST OF OUR FRIENDS MUST BE FRANTICALLY WORRIED BY NOW.’ He held out a hand to Frisk, who promptly took his hand.

Before he led them away, however, he said to Flowey, still in a loud voice, but much softer and gentler than the voice he usually used, ‘I SHALL ASK YOU ABOUT THIS AFTER THE PICNIC.’ He turned back to look at Frisk, ‘DO NOT WORRY, FRISK. IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT REVEALING WHAT IS BOTHERING YOU, YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME. I’LL JUST ASK FLOWEY ABOUT YOUR CONDITION.’ Frisk look horrified, and shook their head desperately at Flowey.

Flowey made a face at them, sticking out his tongue, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever. Just came back here once the picnic is over.’ He proceeded to slam the window shut with his vines, and drew the curtains.

Frisk gazed up at Papyrus, looking dejected. Papyrus’ grin faded a little, as he gently patted them on their shoulder. ‘I AM SORRY, FRISK, BUT I MUST FIND A WAY TO HELP YOU, EVEN IF YOU WON’T LET ME. THAT CHANGE IN YOU…BACK AT THE GREENHOUSE…I DON’T THINK THAT WAS A GOOD THING. AS SOON AS I KNOW ABOUT THE PROBLEM YOU ARE FACING, I SHALL HELP YOU IN ANY WAY I CAN. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ONCE THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS ON THE CASE. 

Frisk sighed, realizing that nothing would change the skeleton’s mind, and simply allowed themself to be led back to the picnic table, wondering what excuse they should give Toriel this time about why they ran off so abruptly.

Chapter Text

Evening soon fell, and as the sky grew darker, the guests at the picnic began leaving. Goodbyes were exchanged and the guests expressed their gratitude to Asgore for allowing them to gather in his garden. Very soon, only a few monsters and humans were left, staying behind to help clean up. The skeleton brothers were among them, although both of them were not doing much work.

Sans was being lazy as usual, lazing around until either Papyrus or Undyne yelled at him, or suddenly appearing behind people just to make them jump. Papyrus was eagerly helping to collect dirty plates and cups while chatting to everyone, but he was distracted by wanting to hear Flowey’s explanation about Frisk. He kept glancing over to Asgore’s cottage, gradually losing more and more interest in what he was doing.

Finally, unable to wait any longer, he slipped away from the group, taking brisk strides over towards the cottage. Its windows were now lit with a warm glow and looked very cosy in the dim evening gloom.

Flowey was already waiting for him. He peered out of the window towards the garden, impatiently tapping a vine against the window seat. As soon as he saw Papyrus heading towards the house, he stretched out one of his vines towards the front door and opened it. He didn’t want Papyrus jumping through any more windows.

“HELLO AGAIN, FLOWEY!” Papyrus grinned as he greeted the flower, closing the door gently behind him, ‘I HOPE I AM NOT LATE FOR OUR APPOINTMENT. IT FEELS JUST LIKE OLD TIMES BACK UNDERGROUND, DOESN’T IT? REMEMBER WHEN I WOULD SECRETLY SNEAK AWAY FROM EVERYONE ELSE TO REMOTE LOCATIONS SO I COULD TALK TO YOU? YOU WOULD POP UP FROM THE GROUND AT MY FEET WHEN I’M ALONE, WHISPER A LOCATION TO ME AND TELL ME NOT TO TELL ANYONE, NOT EVEN SANS. I WOULD HEAD THERE AT THE GIVEN TIME, THEN YOU WOULD BE WAITING THERE, AND START TALKING TO ME. I REMEMBER YOU SAYING SOME VERY ODD THINGS…’ he gushed, a little too innocently, keeping his perpetual grin as he spoke.

‘Y…yeah, just like old times.’ Flowey shifted himself in the flowerpot uncomfortably, not enjoying being reminded of his life Underground after he woke up as a flower. ‘Look, do you want to know about who’s bothering Frisk or not?’

‘OF COURSE, FLOWEY.’ Papyrus seated himself by the window, ‘I AM ALL EARS.’ His grin widened at his own joke.

Despite this, Flowey found that he had difficulty in figuring out where to start. He knew that it was Chara who was bothering Frisk. He could recognize them in Frisk, since he’d known them for years when he was still Asriel. However, he did not want to give Papyrus a full explanation on his past. For one thing, he had yet to tell anyone, besides Frisk, about who he was. Not even his parents knew that he was formerly their son, and no one aside from Frisk showed any signs of remembering him absorbing the SOULs of all the monsters during his final battle with Frisk. Everyone thought he was simply a strange plant monster, and Asgore decided to adopt him out of kindness since he had nowhere to go. He and Frisk agreed to keep it a secret between them to avoid his parents from being too devastated over him. It seemed like a better idea to let them believe that their son was dead, rather than let them know that their son had been turned into a soulless flower-like being who had murdered monsters countless of times in different timelines.

Another thing was that he wasn’t sure if Papyrus could even comprehend this. Many days later Flowey would realize how insulting it was to Papyrus that he would think so lowly of Papyrus’ intelligence. But at that moment, he felt sure that Papyrus was too naïve and simple to understand how he and Chara lost their mortal forms and became what they were now.

‘It’s an evil spirit.’ He finally said, although inwardly he felt guilty at calling Chara “evil”, it didn’t feel right to call his adopted sibling something so harsh, ‘Frisk is being possessed by an evil spirit, that latched onto them while they were underground. The spirit is bothering them by talking to them in their mind. Sometimes they have disagreements and the spirit becomes aggressive, that’s why they run away and hide from everyone, they’re worried they will lose control of the spirit.’

‘THERE ARE SPIRITS UNDERGROUND?’ asked Papyrus, ‘I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANY SPIRITS LIVING UNDERGROUND, OR OF THEM POSSESSING ANYONE. ARE THEY MONSTERS AS WELL?’

‘No, they’re not a monster…and there’s only one of them,’ Flowey faltered in his explanation, ‘They were a human that fell Underground, but after they died, their SOUL went missing, and their body eventually rotted. They became a bodiless and soulless spirit that wandered the Underground for years, and they finally latched only Frisk when they fell Underground as well.’ He conveniently left out the information of how exactly Chara died, and what happened to the both of them after Chara’s intentional death.

‘BUT AREN’T THE SOULS OF ANY HUMAN WHO FALL UNDERGROUND STORED AWAY TO BREAK THE BARRIER? HOW DID THIS SPIRIT’S SOUL DISAPPEAR?’ Papyrus questioned, choosing his words very carefully.

Flowey hesitated, ‘I guess they just…’ he began to sound a little frustrated, ‘How would I know that? I’m just a flower after all. Don’t you trust me, Papyrus?’

‘OF COURSE I DO, FLOWEY.’ Papyrus said, and fell silent, shifting his gaze to the ceiling. There was such a long silence that Flowey began to worry if Papyrus could even understand what he said at all.

‘Frisk told me all of this. I asked them to tell someone about it, but they didn’t want to worry anyone, and they weren’t sure about how to explain it. I told them that they needed to get help to control it before it took full control of them, but they’re just so stubborn.’ Flowey continued.

Still Papyrus remained silent, Flowey noticed that his expression seemed to have gone completely blank, like early that day. His permanent grin still remained, giving him a rather uncanny look.

‘FLOWEY,’ he said, making Flowey jump a little after such a long silence, ‘HAVE YOU EVER MET THIS SPIRIT?’

‘Yes, I-’ Flowey was taken aback by this unexpected question, ‘No. No of course not! Why would I? I just heard all of this from Frisk. They told me all about it.’

Papyrus was now turned to Flowey again, still grinning, but with an empty expression. ‘CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THIS SPIRIT?’

Just at that moment, to Flowey’s relief, there was a knock on the front door. He was even more relieved when he saw Frisk opening the door a crack, and glancing nervously at him and Papyrus. ‘Oh there you are, Frisk!’ he said, putting on a smile and shifting his attention to Frisk, ‘You’re just in time! Tell Papyrus more about the “evil spirit” that’s bothering you. Go on.’

‘what evil spirit?’ Flowey’s relief immediately changed to annoyance when the door was pushed open further to reveal Sans standing behind Frisk, with one hand on Frisk’s shoulder. ‘frisk saw you heading to asgore’s cottage, so i came over with them to see what you were up to,’ he addressed Papyrus, ‘you just dropped what you were doing and ran over here, are you getting lazy like me, paps?’

‘OF COURSE NOT!’ replied Papyrus indignantly, getting up. The odd, vacant expression on his face had immediately vanished as soon as Sans revealed himself, and he now showed his usual cheery expression.

‘it feels like you’re getting that way,’ Sans continued to tease, ‘you know, i’m not a good example to follow, although it would be great to have my little brother follow my footsteps. so when will i see you start wearing a hoodie and bedroom slippers like me?’

‘UGH, SANS!’ Papyrus pretended to look angry, throwing up his hands for dramatic effect, ‘HOW DARE YOU, SANS? I, PAPYRUS, AM A VERY HARDWORKING SKELETON AND WILL NEVER BECOME A LAZYBONE! MY BONES WILL NEVER GET LAZY AND WILL ALWAYS REMAIN SOLID AND NIMBLE!’

‘sure, bro. but still, why did you come here to talk to that friend of yours?’ He gave Flowey a quick glance, and while he still continued to grin, Flowey noticed he had a look of suspicion when he glanced over. The flower glared at him in return.

Frisk waved their hands in front of Sans to get his attention, and started to sign, finding that they were unable to speak as they were feeling to tensed. (It’s because of me. Papyrus wanted to know why I ran off today during the picnic.)

‘i see, kid. but why not ask you? why are you asking the flower about this, pap?’

Frisk looked a little guilty, and answered for Papyrus. (Flowey is the only one besides me who knows about it, and Papyrus came to him because I didn’t want to tell him, even though I should have.)

‘Since you’re here now, you explain to Papyrus about your condition,’ Flowey interjected grumpily, ‘He wants to know about how the evil spirit is affecting you. I already told him all he needs to know about the spirit.’

Frisk nodded, understanding what Flowey meant by “told him all he needs to know”. They motioned for the skeleton brothers to sit down. Papyrus sat back down on the window seat, while Sans plopped down and laid back on a couch. Frisk settled down on an armchair, calmed themself for a bit, and began to explain.

‘I hear their voice in my head sometimes, and only I can hear them, even back then when I was still Underground. They just comment on things, giving explanations on things we saw around us, and on monsters we battled with. Sometimes they suggest things to me, but not very strongly, they usually let me make my own choices. Although, there were times when their thoughts and actions overpowered my own, but I guess it’s my fault. Their suggestions grow stronger and more aggressive during those times when I chose a more violent way to…’

They suddenly paused, and turned quickly to the rest of them, realizing they had almost accidentally revealed their knowledge of the timelines.

They saw Flowey cringe a little at the memory of the timelines where Frisk, aided by Chara, had killed him. They looked at Sans, and felt a pang of fear upon seeing that his expression had gone rather dark, and his eyesockets were completely empty.

‘so, it was the spirit that made you increase your LV?’ his voice was low, dangerous, sounding almost like a very soft snarl.

Frisk shuddered slightly as memories of their battles with Sans came flooding back to them, ‘It…it was my fault as well, I guess,’ they confessed, ‘I shouldn’t have let them take control, and I shouldn’t have tried to increase my LV, that was what made them stronger. I’ll never do it again, I promise.’ They saw Sans’ expression returning to normal, and their fear subsided.

All three of them turned to Papyrus, as he had not said a word throughout this conversation. He tilted his head slightly when he saw them looking at him, and prattled cheerfully, ‘BUT I DO NOT RECALL YOU DOING A VIOLENCE AT ALL, FRISK. YOU MUST BE STRONGER THAN THIS SPIRIT, BECAUSE YOU DID NOT HURT ANYONE AT ALL EVERY SINCE WE MET YOU, AND YOU SAVED ALL THE MONSTERS FROM THE UNDERGROUND! I AM SURE THAT YOU CAN OVERPOWER THIS SPIRIT IF YOU TRY. I BELIEVE IN YOU.’

Sans looked relieved that his brother did not seem to know anything about the past timelines, and was contented to let him remain ignorant due to the pain those memories might cause him. However, both Frisk and Flowey were not so easily comforted, but decided not to press the matter further.

‘…I don’t think I can overpower them, and that’s the problem.’ Frisk replied, their shoulders slumping and they fidgeted in their seat uneasily, ‘You see, I…I…I...” they took a deep breath, “...sold my SOUL to them.’

Both skeletons sat upright, tensing up. ‘ what ?!’ Sans’ expression had gone dark again, and, for a moment, Papyrus had the exact same expression.

‘They…made me offer my SOUL to them,’ so that they could reset the world after utterly destroying it during the timelines when they killed everyone, but Frisk concealed this fact, ‘They’re bound to me now, residing in my body and sharing my SOUL. I can’t get rid of them no matter how I try. And-’ they shuddered, glancing at the floor, ‘-and…and they’re taking over me. Their suggestions, their thoughts, they overpower mine sometimes. Their thoughts are so bitter and violent, and they want me to hurt people. That’s why I keep running away and hiding, I’m trying to stop them from taking over me, because I don’t…I don’t want to hurt anyone…ever again…’

Frisk suddenly heard a wicked little giggle, echoing in their head. This was followed by a voice whispering into their ear, mocking them and demanding them to hand over their free will. They shook their head, but of course it was no use. Chara simply laughed and continued to whisper. In their terror, tears began dripping down their face, splashing on the carpeted floor at their feet.

They suddenly found themself in Papyrus’ arms, as the skeleton held them close to him, gently wiping their tears from their face with his gloved hand. They turned, and buried their face in his scarf, still sobbing, letting out all the bad memories of past timelines where they hurt and killed their friends, and their fear of Chara forcing them to do it all again. They felt another set of arms embrace both them and Papyrus. Sans had joined his younger brother in trying to offer them comfort. For a moment, despite their terror of being forced to kill everyone and reset again, they felt a little consoled, just slightly comforted, by the kind gesture of the brothers.

Both skeletons continued to comfort Frisk until their sobs finally subsided, and their tears stopped falling. They dried their tears as the two released them, and signed (Thank you.) to them with a watery smile. Chara’s voice had faded, but they knew they were still there, waiting.

‘Are you guys done with the whine fest yet?’ Flowey’s grumpy voice piped up. He had been sitting by the window pouting at them the entire time, partially feeling disgusted by their mushy behaviour, and partially because he felt left out being unable to comfort Frisk with a hug. ‘Well, now you both know about what’s bothering Frisk. Are you gonna try to do something about it?’

(There’s nothing they can do.) Frisk signed miserably, (I’m not sure what to do myself. I’ve thought about running away, but that would worry Toriel and the rest of my friends even more, and I don’t want to do that.)

‘you’re not running away, kid.’ Sans ordered sternly, ‘there’s gotta be a way to solve this, running away will only make things worse.’

‘HAVE YOU EVER TRIED,’ Papyrus said, looking straight at Frisk, ‘TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM?’

‘Yes?...No?...’ Frisk uttered slowly, unsure of how to answer, ‘Not…really? I’ve spoken to them, I guess. I’ve talked to them, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried making friends with them? I’m not sure.’

‘PERHAPS ALL THEY NEED IS YOU TO BE THEIR FRIEND,’ Papyrus suggested with a cheery grin, ‘AFTER ALL, YOU MANAGED TO STOP MONSTERS FROM FIGHTING YOU BY BEFRIENDING THEM, LIKE HOW YOU MADE FRIENDS WITH UNDYNE!’

‘Yes, but…but I don’t think that will work now. They’re too bitter to listen to me,’

‘THEN I SHALL TALK TO THEM, AND BECOME THEIR FRIEND!’

‘How are you going to do that, idiot? They’re in Frisk’s body and SOUL, no one can hear them or talk to them besides Frisk.’ Flowey pointed out.

‘I CAN TEMPORARILY MERGE MY SOUL WITH FRISK’S, THEN I SHALL BE ABLE TO TALK TO THIS SPIRIT AND-’

The other three immediately yelled at him in horror.

(No!! That’s too risky, Papyrus! They could easily destroy your SOUL once it’s merged with mine!!)

‘Are you stupid, Papyrus!? What if they absorb your SOUL when you merge yours with Frisk’s!? They could kill you, and then grow even more powerful once they absorb a monster SOUL!!’

‘i’m not letting you do such a risky thing, paps. i don’t trust this spirit at all, it’s dangerous, cruel, and completely heartless. i’m not going to let it hurt you!’

Papyrus shook his head. ‘AND HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT, SANS?’ his voice was suddenly much more stern, as he gave Sans an unexpectedly serious gaze, ‘HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THIS SPIRIT IS AS DANGEROUS AND CRUEL AS YOU CLAIM?’

Sans froze, staring up at him in shock, and perhaps a bit of amazement as well at this surprising question. He kept silent, not trusting himself to answer this question in fear of revealing what he knew about the timelines.

Papyrus turned to Frisk again, ‘ANYONE CAN BE GOOD IF THEY TRY.’ He said. These words sounded so familiar to Frisk, ‘I BELIEVE THAT THE SPIRIT CAN BE GOOD AS WELL, IF ONLY THEY TRIED. I WILL BEFRIEND THEM, AND ADVICE THEM TO MEND THEIR WAYS, SO THAT THEY WILL NOT GO DOWN THE DANGEROUS PATH OF DOING A VIOLENCE!’

No one protested against Papyrus this time. All of them, especially Sans, were still reeling a little from Papyrus’ unexpected query. In the end, they reluctantly decided to allow Papyrus to try out his idea, as there didn’t seem to be any other way to help Frisk.

There were two spare bedrooms in Asgore’s house, kept clean and neat by him in case guests decided to stay over for a few nights. They went into one of the rooms, locking the door behind them. They decided among themselves to let Papyrus merge his SOUL with Frisk’s, while Sans and Flowey stood watch, ready to pull both of their SOULs away from each other if anything went wrong. Everyone felt tensed as Papyrus and Frisk sat down on the bed next to each other, preparing themselves.

‘ARE YOU READY, FRISK?’ Papyrus asked, looking a little uneasy despite of his perpetual grin. Frisk nodded, their entire body stiff. An upside down heart, glowing pure white, appeared before Papyrus, while a regular heart, glowing bright red, appeared before Frisk. Sans and Flowey watched silently from the sidelines.

‘PLEASE DO NOT MOVE, AND STAY CALM.’ Papyrus continued, as he gently pushed his SOUL over towards Frisk’s.

Chapter Text

Papyrus opened his eyes.

He saw that he was surrounded by pitch blackness, as far as he could see. He tried to move, and realized that he appeared to be standing. When he looked down, his feet seemed to be rested on the same darkness that was all around him. He took a step forward, finding that he could move freely as if he were walking on solid ground, although he could not hear any footsteps as he walked.

This entire situation was new to him. He had never merged his SOUL with anyone before, he had only heard that this unusual circumstance was theoretically possible. He was hoping that if it did work, he would be able to share his SOUL with Frisk’s, and be able to see the spirit that was tormenting Frisk as they could. He wasn’t sure if it had worked correctly or not. He couldn’t see or feel anything around him, but could see himself perfectly, as if his body was its own light source.

‘FRISK?’ he called, searching around for the child. He felt a little fearful, but forced himself to push those fears aside, preparing himself for anything that might happen to him.

A small hand touched his arm, making him jump slightly. He whirled around to find Frisk holding onto his arm, looking confused and frightened. They inched a little closer to him, released his arm, and began signing. (Where are we?)

‘I’M NOT SURE.’ Papyrus confessed, ‘I GUESS THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE WHEN TWO SOULS ARE FUSED? IS THIS A COMBINATION OF BOTH OUR MINDS? IT SEEMS A LITTLE TOO EMPTY. I EXPECTED THERE TO BE MORE SPAGHETTI AND PUZZLES IN MY MIND.’ His half-hearted joke managed to make Frisk crack a smile, for just a moment.

‘IF OUR SOULS WERE SUCCESSFULLY MERGED, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THE SPIRIT WITHIN YOURS, RIGHT?’ Papyrus continued, ‘ARE THEY HERE WITH YOU?’

Frisk hesitated, nodded, and pointed away from them. Papyrus saw, in the distance, what looked like a circle of light shining onto the ground, coming from an unseen source. He began slowly heading towards the light, noticing that a path of strange whiteness, leading from him and Frisk to the circle of light, was fading into view. As they both walked along the path, their footsteps sounded like fresh snow crunching underfoot.  

As they drew closer, a figure came into view within the spot of light. The figure appeared to be a human, around the size of an older child or a teenager, sitting on the ground with their back facing them. Their legs were pulled up to their chest, and they were resting their chin on their knees. They startled a little when they heard the two heading towards them.

Frisk faltered in their step, holding onto Papyrus’ arm again. Papyrus, sensing their fear, shifted his position so that he was in front of them, in order to protect them in case the figure tried to attack. He was now almost directly behind the figure, and could see that they had light brown hair, skin as pale as death, and was wearing a striped green and yellow sweater, and brown cargo pants. If it wasn’t for the color of their sweater and if they weren’t so deathly pale, he might have mistaken them for Frisk from behind.

Papyrus summoned all his courage, and greeted them in a cheery, bubbly voice, ‘HELLO, SPIRIT RESIDING WITHIN FRISK! IT IS I, PAPYRUS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE GREAT PAPYRUS! I HAVE COME TO VISIT YOU IN ORDER TO REQUEST THAT YOU NO LONGER PLAGUE FRISK WITH IDEAS OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR. AND, IF IT’S CONVENIENT FOR YOU, I WOULD LIKE TO BE YOUR FRIEND.’

He felt Frisk’s grip on his arm tighten ever so slightly. The strange being did not react at all, almost as if they did not hear Papyrus. He still stood his ground, still continuing to smile, still a little frightened and tensed.

For a while there was just stillness and silence, no one moved an inch and no one dared to say a word. Then, finally-

Go away. ’ came a voice; a harsh, icy voice, ringing with spite, sounding so familiar to Papyrus.

He did not falter, and continued to smile. ‘PERHAPS YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING AND DO NOT WISH TO BE DISTURBED? ALTHOUGH I DON’T SEE YOU DOING ANYTHING. MAYBE YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THINKING, OR DAYDREAMING, LIKE HOW I ALWAYS USED TO DAYDREAM OF MYSELF JOINING THE ROYAL GUARD. VERY WELL THEN, CARRY ON. I WILL VISIT YOU AND TALK TO YOU AT A LATER-’

‘I said go away .’ The figure shifted, lifting their head slightly, ‘You should not be here. You do not belong here. You are intruding my private space, the only place I can reside in. Frisk is hosting me in their body, what I do to them is none of your business . Leave.

‘DO YOU NOT SEE THAT YOU ARE CAUSING THEM GRIEF? THEY ARE FORCED TO RUN AWAY, WITHOUT EXPLANATION, FROM THEIR FRIEND IN ORDER TO SUBDUE YOU.’ Papyrus pleaded.

‘Do not interfere. Frisk brought this upon themself. They made a deal with me, I have kept up my end of the deal, and now they must do the same for me, regardless of how much they are forced to suffer.’ The malice in their voice made Papyrus shudder inwardly, ‘Leave this place, before I make you exit by force.’

‘BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE FRISK VIOLENT SUGGESTIONS. IN FACT, YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE VIOLENT THOUGHTS EITHER! YOU CAN BE GOOD AND PEACEFUL, LOVING AND NON-AGGRESSIVE, IF YOU TRIED.’

‘Oh, Papyrus, dear sweet, innocent, foolish, forgettable Papyrus.’ they sneered, with a suppressed laugh, ‘As I have explained before, Frisk brought this upon themself, and nothing you say is going to change that. If there is going to be any bloodshed, any harm done, or any atrocities committed, it would all be caused by their deal with me.’ They were now sitting upright, still with their back facing the two. ‘Now, I am giving you one final chance to leave, and never return to Frisk’s SOUL. Should you not take this chance and depart, I am afraid I cannot guarantee that you will escape me alive.’

Papyrus felt Frisk’s hand starting to tremble as they heard these cruel words. He clenched his fists, a wave of horrible, negative emotions washed over him, but he very quickly suppressed them and calmed himself. He still stood his ground, ‘I STILL BELIEVE IN YOU, SPIRIT! REGARDLESS OF WHAT BITTERNESS YOU FEEL IN YOU, YOU CAN STILL BE GOOD.’

‘Last chance gone.’ The figure leapt up from the ground, turning their entire body to face the two. Papyrus, for a moment, was taken aback by the appearance of their face. Their face was a grotesque, eerie looking mess. Their eyes appeared to have been gored out, leaving empty, bleeding eye sockets. Blood and dark-colored ichor poured out of their lipless mouth, dripping off their chin and staining the front of their sweater. Parts of their faces seemed to be rotting and maggot-eaten, with portions of their skin falling out and revealing yellowing mucus and rotting muscle underneath, and the remaining skin looking wrinkled, decayed, and putrid. Their mouth was pulled into a ghastly grin, much too wide for any normal human to have.

Papyrus was too stunned by their nightmarish appearance to react. They took this chance to rush at him, their mouth widening horribly as if their jaw was unhinging, their right hand lifted up above their head. Frisk screamed, and dashed out from behind Papyrus, confronting the other human and trying to stop them by grabbing hold of their upright arm. They screeched at Frisk, trying to release their arm, while their other hand went straight for Frisk’s neck. Papyrus felt a familiar sensation of horror when he realized that a knife had materialized in their uplifted hand. They had intended to stab him.

Frisk screamed again, and let out a strangled gasp as they failed to stop the spirit from grabbing hold of their throat. Papyrus rushed forward to save them, but was unable to dodge the entity’s knife. Frisk’s grip on their arm had loosened, and the entity began to slash at him wildly with it, and managed to gash at his SOUL, damaging it. But before he could react to the pain, he felt himself violently being pulled backwards and awoken.

He tumbled backwards with a yelp, and found himself in Sans’ arms. The older skeleton was holding onto him with a vice-like grip, his eyes burning with fear and fury. Flowey’s vines were secured firmly around Frisk’s arms and waists, having pulled Frisk away from Papyrus. Papyrus had never seen the flower look so terrified before. Sans and Flowey had pulled them apart the very moment they heard Frisk scream, and saw them snatching hold of Papyrus’ SOUL with one hand, while reaching up to grab their own neck with the other…

There was a long silence, an uncomfortable, unnerving silence. Frisk was clearly shaken, they sat unmoving, even as Flowey very slowly released them from his vines, not daring to look up at Papyrus. Papyrus himself appeared more composed, but inwardly he was still in a panic, full of horror by what he had witnessed. Sans seemed almost angry, glaring at Frisk, still refusing to release his brother from his grip. Flowey looked as if he were about to cry.

No one spoke for a very long time, until Frisk finally stood up quickly, still unable to look at the skeleton brothers out of shame, and feebly uttered an apology. They picked up Flowey in his flowerpot, and swiftly left the room.

Papyrus watched them leave, wanting to call them back but was unsure of what to say. He noticed that Sans still hadn’t released his grip, and suddenly came to a realization, delayed by the shock, that he and Frisk could have very easily been killed by that entity if Sans and Flowey had not pulled them both apart. He spun around, and hugged Sans tightly as well, gloved hands gripping onto Sans’ jacket, face buried in the fluffy collar of his hoodie.

They stayed that way for a while, refusing to let go of each other. Presently, Sans loosened his hold on Papyrus. ‘what happened?’ he asked. His usual permanent grin faded, and he looked very concerned and worried.

Papyrus lifted his head. He was much more calm now, expression vacant and weary. He very slowly explained exactly what he saw. He noticed Sans’ expression go dark when he mentioned how the entity threatened him, and attempted to kill him. At the end of his explanation, Sans turned away, gazing at the blank wall opposite of the bed, his fists gripping the bed sheet, far away in his thoughts, in resurfaced memories he had tried so hard to bury. ‘please,’ he implored Papyrus in a much softer voice than what he normally used, ‘please don’t do that again.’

There was a short pause. ‘I HAVE TO.’ Was Papyrus’ reply.

Sans’ fists gripped hold of the bedsheet tightly, he looked pained, but his voice still remained soft and pleading, ‘you were injured during the struggle, paps, that…thing…could have easily destroyed your SOUL, and killed you.’

‘FRISK IS IN DANGER OF BEING HARMED BY THE SPIRIT AS WELL. IF I DO NOT TRY TO CONVINCE IT TO STOP, IT WILL HURT FRISK, OR CAUSE FRISK TO HURT OTHERS AGAINST THEIR WILL. I MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.’

‘Look at you!’ Sans’ raised his voice, his dread and concern becoming anger, turning to glare at Papyrus fiercely, ‘120 damage! It did 120 damage to your SOUL, Papyrus! In one hit too. It’s not worth it, understand!? It’s not worth putting your life on the line to stop something as violent as that! There’s other ways to solve this.’

Papyrus shuddered, he never liked it when his brother began speaking in that odd, serious voice, louder than his normal lazy drawl, ‘I WAS HOPING TO SOLVE THIS PEACEFULLY, BY BEING FRIENDLY-‘

‘Being friendly!? You do realize you’re talking about a serial killer with no remorse about harming people, right!? Why is making friends the first thing you always think of!? Can’t you see how stupid and naïve that it!? It always got you killed in the past few ti-‘

That was the moment Sans realized he had made a horrible mistake. Papyrus, despite everything he had been through that day, only now began to show some genuine emotion. He stiffened, his eye sockets wide in horror, staring into nothing, looking almost as if he had been shot.

Papyrus had always felt very hurt at being called anything related to naïve or stupid, it opened up emotional scars that haven’t yet completely healed over the years. Sans had always been very careful to never use anything similar to those two words around him, but now he slipped up, and had outright insulted his own brother using the two words he dreaded the most.

Papyrus remained stiff, not looking at Sans, his expression pained. Despite not having any physical lungs, his breath was slow and laboured, hitching now and then as he choked back sobs.

‘i’m…i’m sorry,’ uttered Sans weakly, feeling tears pricking against his eye sockets. Not tears of sadness or pain, but tears of anger at his own self for hurting his younger brother by being so rash and foolish.

Papyrus didn’t respond. But after a few seconds, his agonized expression suddenly snapped to a blank expression, with a vacant, unnerving-looking grin on his face. He looked down, and for some reason began to pick at the blackened bones on his left arm.

After a long period of hesitation, Sans, very slowly and carefully, reached out a hand towards Papyrus’ SOUL, and attempted to heal it with what little healing magic he knew. Papyrus flinched a little, but otherwise kept completely still to allow Sans to heal him. Sans knew that healing Papyrus, and the feeble apology he made before this, would not make up for his careless speech, but there was nothing he could do to take it back. Papyrus would forgive him, but he had already done the damage, and opened a new wound that would take a long time to heal.

Sans was quite exhausted when the healing was complete. Healing magic had never been his strong point, he was more well versed in offensive magic. Papyrus shot him a glance, feeling a little sorry when he saw his brother’s tired expression, and felt grateful for the healing. But, at that moment, the words still hurt, and he couldn’t bring himself to tell Sans that it was okay, that he was forgiven.

Instead, he stood up from the bed, still refusing to look at Sans, still with the empty grin on his face. ‘We…we should go home.’

Sans wisely said nothing, not even to comment on the strange, softer voice Papyrus had used. He silently followed Papyrus out of the room, out of Asgore’s cottage. The guilt of his mistake still ate away at him, and would continue to do so for the days to come.

The trip home was a silent, sullen one, with not a word exchanged between the brothers, and so was the rest of the night. It was not until the next afternoon that Papyrus would finally speak to Sans again.

 

Chapter Text

‘What’s wrong, Smiley Trashbag? You look nervous.’ Flowey remarked to Sans, his voice sounding mockingly childish and chipper.

Sans, seated on the bed, didn’t even bother to look at the flower or reply him. He continued to focus his attention on Papyrus and Frisk, although Flowey felt a bit of satisfaction seeing a small hint of a frown forming at the edge of his perpetual grin.

Flowey was seated on the nightstand next to the bed, very close to Frisk, while Sans had positioned himself right behind Papyrus. They were now in Frisk’s room. Papyrus was once again attempting to communicate to the spirit by merging his SOUL with Frisk’s.

The other three had protested against him, fearing a repeat of the result of their first attempt, but Papyrus continued to insist on helping Frisk, promising them that he would protect them this time, and not allow the spirit to hurt them.

“I WILL ENSURE THAT THE SPIRIT WILL NOT HARM YOU, FRISK! I SHALL TALK TO THEM, AND CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY CAN BE GOOD. WE WILL THEN ALL BE FRIENDS AND THEN WE CAN ALL HANG OUT TOGETHER. PLEASE DO NOT WORRY!”

Sans noted that he never said a word of protecting his own self, and felt even more concerned. However, he ended up giving into his brother’s request as Papyrus stubbornly refused to change his mind, and Sans still felt a little guilty about hurting Papyrus the last time.

Flowey looked over towards the two. They were seated on the bed facing each other, leaning in very close. Both of their SOULs were visible, hovering directly in front of their chests, partially merged. Papyrus’ white SOUL half melded into Frisk’ red SOUL, but not quite fused enough to cause absorb each other fully. Flowey was secretly a little curious to know what would happen if both the SOULs fused completely, although he guessed it probably wouldn’t lead to anything good, as he remembered what had happened the last time his former monster SOUL fused with a human one.

Both of them sat unnaturally still, with eyes closed and heads bowed. They’re expressions were an abnormal look of calm, almost as if they were asleep. They did not move a muscle or speak a word throughout the entire process, aside from the end of the last time they did this, when the spirit compelled Frisk to attack Papyrus and their own self. Since they didn’t make a sound, Sans and Flowey could not know what they were saying among themselves or to the spirit when their SOULs were merged, and could only be wary of any odd actions from Frisk to know when something went wrong, and when to pull both of their SOULs apart.

‘Come on, say something, silly.’ Flowey continued to taunt Sans, finding that sneering at the skeleton who had caused him so much trouble before was a good way to feel less stressed out over Papyrus’ and Frisk’s safety, ‘You don’t look too happy about this. Afraid your darling brother might get killed again or something?’

Sans finally glanced up, giving Flowey a furious, spiteful look. ‘fun fact, in the gardening shops here, humans sell a kind of liquid called “weed killer”, which they use to get rid of weeds, like you. i should probably buy some and keep them at hand when dealing with you.’

This only made Flowey more amused, he tilted his head slightly, still giving Sans that infuriating grin, ‘I’d love to see you try something like that, Trashbag. I’m not that easy to kill.’ He giggled, his grin becoming dark and twisted, ‘You should know that very well, after all those times you tried again and again to get rid of me so you could protect your precious brother, but failed!’

Sans continued to glare, but Flowey noticed a brief look of confusion, a quick aside glance, on his face. It seemed that Sans did not completely remember when the timelines were under Flowey’s reset-power control, before Frisk arrived. Or at least, he only had a vague memory of it, but enough to still be angry at Flowey.

Flowey had a very clear memory about those timelines, but tried to forget them. He did not like being reminded of the guilt he felt whenever he killed all the monsters, especially Papyrus.

Papyrus, he recalled, was always eager to befriend him in every timeline, and had never fought back, always giving him words of encouragement as he died…

‘at least my brother had someone who tried to protect him from being killed, i can’t say the same for you.’ Sans retorted.

Flowey’s ghastly grin turned into an expression of annoyance, and it was Sans’ turn to grin when he realized he had hit the nail on the head. He still had not forgiven Flowey even after all this time, even though he couldn’t quite remember why.

He knew about the timelines, but his memory of every timelines was vague and unclear. He only had a recollection that many terrible things had occurred, but he wasn’t sure what. At first, he and Papyrus studied these strange deja vu occurrences, and concluded that an anomaly had been causing these repeats.

An anomaly who could control time, and reverse time to a certain point, something that even he couldn’t do, despite having some control over time as well.

They never did find out who the anomaly was, or at least he couldn’t remember who it was. Papyrus apparently did, but before Sans could ask him, Frisk entered the equation.

And then Papyrus seemed to forget everything about the timelines.

Sans was alone with the knowledge of resets.

For a while, he secretly resented Frisk. He suspected them to be the only anomaly that caused the timelines, and suspected that their tempering of time somehow made Papyrus lose awareness of the timelines, leaving him all alone. As more resets happened, he had vague memories of them murdering everyone, or only murdered some people, including his brother. It was almost as if they were experimenting to see what happens if they killed certain monsters but spared the rest. It was infuriating and painful.

This resentment ended, however, when Frisk finally freed the monsters. But upon finding out that Flowey was responsible for the initial resets, he focused his resentment on the flower instead, even though Flowey no longer had the ability to control time. He just felt that he needed to blame his negative emotions on someone.

These thoughts passed through Sans’ mind as he sat in silence, his grin fading a little. Flowey, seeing the skeleton grow to solemn suddenly, decided to stop teasing him, and instead shifted his focus to Frisk and Papyrus.

------------------------

Papyrus, after merging his SOUL with Frisk’s, found himself once again in that dark, empty space. This time, however, Frisk had materialized in front of him. They gazed up at him nervously, while he simply grinned at them, nodding, silently trying to comfort and encourage them.

They attempted to give him a watery, weak smile. However, they’re expression turned to that of horror as they spotted something standing behind Papyrus.

‘I told you to never come back .’

Papyrus turned quickly, recoiling backwards towards Frisk. The entity had been standing behind him, leering at them with their arms folded. Their face was still a horrible, putrid mess, with blood and ichor dripping down. Even though they didn’t seem to be carrying its knife, Papyrus still positioned himself in front of Frisk, not wanting the creature to hurt Frisk again.

‘I RETURNED BECAUSE I WISH TO SPEAK TO YOU-’

‘Well I do not wish to listen !’ the entity interrupted, raising their voice, somehow able to glare at Papyrus despite not having any eyes in their sockets, ‘I told you, what I want to do with Frisk is my business! Nothing you can say or do will change my mind, or stop me. Now leave or I will be forced to fight you, and this time, I will ensure that your SOUL is destroyed completely.’

‘THERE IS NO NEED FOR DESTROYING ANYONE, SPIRIT! PERHAPS WE CAN SIT DOWN AND TAKE SOME TIME TO HAVE A LOVELY CHAT-’

‘You should be running away from me as far as you can, not sitting down and talking to me! I have plans in mind, which I will carry out through Frisk since I have neither a SOUL nor a body. I want to cause mass destruction, a mass slaughter to reach the peak of our capabilities. And then, when we have reached our absolute, we will erase this world, and move onto the next.’ They declared proudly, as their horrible grin growing wider, ‘Is this not what we agreed to, Frisk?’

Frisk desperately shook their head as they peered out from behind Papyrus.

‘No? Do you not recall those times when you increased your LOVE to its fullest? You gave me control over you, you agreed to continue the destruction of each of the timelines alongside me.’

Frisk began to sign frantically, (Didn’t I take it all back from you!? We both restored the world and revived everyone! And we saved everyone in the end! We changed our end goal to saving everyone so that all the monsters can be free and live happily on the surface!)

The entity tilted their head slightly, almost as if they were amused by Frisk’s desperation and fear, ‘That was never our end goal, Frisk. We agreed that we will continue destroying everything, in every subsequent world and timeline. But, I admit, you did attempt to back out of our deal after we destroyed so many timelines together. Perhaps you felt a sudden guilt over the atrocities we have committed? No matter, you already sold your SOUL to me, and thus locking you in this deal. There is no abandoning this deal, Frisk. Once you finally learn that struggling against me is fruitless and allow me to take control once again, we shall proceed as planned. We may not be Underground anymore, but that’s all the better. Humanity is disgusting, and I will be happy to destroy it along with monster-kind.’

Frisk cringed, letting out a weak whimper as they tried not to cry. Guilt flooded back to them as they realized there was no way out of this deal, and they had, indeed, brought it upon themself when they agreed to commit genocide against the monsters, driven by bitterness and their megalomaniacal desires.

Papyrus had said nothing throughout this conversation. The entity glanced up at his expression curiously. He showed almost no reaction to the conversation, and still had a large grin plastered on his face. However, the entity did not notice the expression of intense concentration he had while they were speaking to Frisk. He still kept Frisk behind him, protecting them with his own body.

The entity now spoke to him in a disturbingly cheerful, childish voice, ‘Well, we shall start with you! You have the privilege of being our first source of EXP before we destroy this miserable timeline. Since you are such a forgettable character, I am sure no one will miss you much when you are gone. It will be just like the many times Frisk murdered you in the past, hardly anyone remembered you or even realized you were gone! Oh, right, you have no idea what I am rambling on about, do you?’ They giggled darkly, ‘You must have heard everything I said to Frisk as well, but I am certain your naïve, foolish little mind could not comprehend a single thing we discussed, am I correct? You know nothing, Papyrus, which is even better for us. You will not fight back like your brother would, simply because you are too ignorant to even put in the effort to fight.’

Papyrus said nothing, and showed no change in his expression. Frisk, however, noticed him slowly, very slowly, balling up his fists throughout Chara’s sneering.

The spirit continued speaking, ‘And you will continue to be ignorant of everything, because you are never leaving this place alive. This time, I will kill you quickly, so that your useless brother will not have be in time to rescue you.’ A knife had now materialized in their hand, and they rushed at the skeleton, raising the knife and brought it down, aiming for Papyrus’ SOUL.

Their knife simply slashed through the air.

Papyrus had leapt back, away from the knife.

He was staring silently at the entity, still keeping Frisk behind him, holding one hand in front of Frisk to prevent the entity from hurting them, and to stop Frisk from rushing at the entity again.

‘Oh, so you can dodge!’ The spirit looked surprised, but their grin quickly returned, ‘Even better! This will make our battle even more interesting.’

They slashed at Papyrus again, and he continued to dodge, managing to keep Frisk behind him at each dodge. The knife slashes grew more aggressive and frantic, until finally the entity stopped, looking frustrated.

‘Are you not going to attempt to fight back? Either fight back, or stop dodging, this is growing tiresome.’ They gave a childish pout, folding their arms.

‘I…DO NOT WISH TO FIGHT YOU.’ the skeleton replied, sounding oddly calm.

‘Then hold still and allow me to destroy your SOUL.’

Papyrus shook his head.

The entity stomped their foot on the ground impatiently, ‘Ugh, give me a break,’ they groaned, losing their creepy tone and their eloquent style of speech, ‘Are you seriously not going to do anything at all aside from dodge? This cannot even be considered a fight, because none of us will win anything.’

There was no reply from the skeleton.

The entity stared at him in disgust, ‘You are just like your brother. At least we had fun dodging his bullets while he was fighting us, but when he stopped during his ‘special attack’, it simply became really boring. I am glad we managed to kill him off after that.’

A look of ghastly delight suddenly spread across the entity’s face, as Papyrus dropped his grin when they mentioned Sans. ‘Speaking of your brother, is he not sitting right next to you and Frisk at the moment? He is! Since you refuse to cooperate with me, I will simply kill your brother instead.’

A shudder ran down Papyrus’ spine. ‘N…no…’ Frisk heard him utter.

‘After all, your brother only possesses 1 HP, and he will not be able to dodge an attack he does not see.’ Continued the entity, ‘What do you say Frisk? Come now, let me take control.’ They began heading towards the two, one hand outstretched towards Frisk. Frisk gave a little shriek, and shrank back behind Papyrus in terror. ‘Let me control you again, and we can finally defeat that comedian once and for-’

‘NO!!!’

A wall of bones shot up in front of the spirit.

The spirit yelped, tumbling over backwards onto the ground.

The wall of bones vanished. Papyrus had pulled himself to full height, standing completely still, with one hand held towards the spirit. They could see that Papyrus’ expression was anxious, full of terror. It was a huge change from his usual cheerful grin, or his occasional empty smile.

The entity’s disgusting face, for a few seconds, looked like that of a regular child. They looked confused, almost frightened, like a child lost in an unfamiliar place. But it almost immediately became like the face of a rotting corpse again, with the unnaturally wide grin on its wrinkled, decaying skin.

‘Well, that finally provoked a reaction out of you,’ they remarked casually, picking themself off the floor and dusting their stained sweater, ‘It appears that I finally have some leverage to use against you! So, you had better cooperate with me, or else I will simply destroy your brother, and then pick off your friends one by-’

Before they could finish, Papyrus gripped his own SOUL and dragged it away from Frisks, forcing both of them to awaken. Both of them could vaguely hear the spirit yell ‘Hey!!’ at them as they left, sounding almost offended that Papyrus had simply cut them off so abruptly.

Sans and Flowey startled upon seeing Papyrus and Frisk stirring, and opening their eyes, looking almost as if they had woken up from a long sleep. Without saying a word to either of them, Papyrus grabbed Frisk, pulled them off the bed, and headed quickly out the door.

Frisk was still in a daze, their heart almost beating out of their chest from what they had just encountered. They could barely register being dragged out of the room by Papyrus and the skeleton leaning down to them and saying softly, ‘Pack your bags, we must leave for a few days.’

They blinked, shook their head, and glanced at him in confusion. ‘W…what…?’

‘We have to go to some place where the spirit can’t hurt anyone, somewhere far, far away from all the monsters, from my brother. We shall stay there until we can do something about the spirit. Please, pack your bags. I’ll go home to pack mine, and meet you outside Miss Toriel’s house in 15 minutes.’

‘But…’ there were so many things they wanted ask him. Where were they going? Was this even a good idea? Would Toriel allow them to leave? Would Sans allow Papyrus to leave? And wait, Papyrus was able to speak softly all along!? Why was he always yelling every word when he could speak in this strange, gentle, almost soothing voice…

‘Please, just pack your bags. Don’t worry about Toriel, I’ll talk to her. We should head off quickly before the spirit tries to take control of you again.’

The fear of losing themself to Chara, and Papyrus’ unusual look of anxiety, finally made them agree, they headed back into their room as Sans poked his head out from the doorway.

‘hey, what’s up?’ asked the older skeleton, attempting to sound casual to mask his concern.

Papyrus turned to his brother, his anxious expression melting away almost immediately. Plastered on his face was now a wide, but almost hollow looking grin. ‘I WAS THINKING, BROTHER, THAT IT IS TOO HARD TO CONCENTRATE ON FRISK HERE, WITH SO MANY OTHER SOULS AROUND US.’ The change from his voice from a worried whisper to a bouncy, jovial shout was unbelievably quick. It was almost as if he had done this many times before, and he could mask his worry expertly. ‘SO, I HAVE DECIDED TO TAKE THEM SOMEWHERE QUIET TO BE ALONE WITH THEM, AND WE CAN FOCUS ON THE SPIRIT IN THEM TOGETHER.’

Sans’ grin faltered, ‘you sure about that, bro? that spirit’s pretty dangerous, it almost killed you the last time. and where exactly are you going anyway?’

‘BACK TO OUR OLD HOUSE, AS THERE ARE NO MORE MONSTERS UNDERGROUND, WE WILL NOT BE DISRUPTED BY ANY SOULS.’ And the spirit will not be able to find anyone to kill, as long as he kept the spirit from leaving the house.

‘back underground? all alone with that “thing”??’ Sans’ eyelights darkened, and he shook his head sternly, ‘too dangerous for you, pap, you can’t handle it on your own like that, at least let me come with you.’

‘YOUR SOUL WILL DISRUPT OUR CONCENTRATION, AND YOU WOULD PROBABLY BE ASLEEP MOST OF THE TIME AS YOU ARE TOO LAZY,’ He’s also now the main target of the entity, and can easily be killed if he drops his guard, ‘WE NEED TO BE ALONE. PLEASE DO NOT WORRY, BROTHER! I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WILL NOT BE HARMED! AND I WILL KEEP FRISK SAFE AS WELL!’ he posed dramatically once again, grinning confidently.

Sans was clearly struggling internally with this dilemma, he shifted uncomfortably, eyelights flicking between Papyrus and his surroundings, not replying.

‘OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THE TIME,’ Papyrus exclaimed a little too hurriedly, looking at the non-existent watch on his wrist, ‘I MUST HURRY BACK TO OUR HOME TO PACK MY THINGS NOW. I PROMISED TO MEET FRISK OUTSIDE IN 15 MINUTES. I SHALL SEE YOU JUST BEFORE WE LEAVE TO SAY GOODBYE, SANS!’ He dashed through the corridor and down the stairs before Sans could stop him.

‘wait!’ Sans attempted to follow him, but found that his brother had completely vanished as soon as he reached the bottom of the stairs.

He sighed, still visibly uncomfortable and nervous. He ended up taking his own shortcut back home, wondering how he could convince Papyrus not to carry out such a dangerous deed, or if Papyrus would even listen to him at all.

Chapter Text

Papyrus was already waiting outside the house when Frisk finished packing. As they stood on the front porch, a hastily packed bag in one hand and Flowey in the other, they saw him with Toriel and Sans near the front gate. He had a huge rucksack on his back, another large bag in one hand, and an equally large cardboard box beside him.

 

He was talking to Toriel. The driveway was long, and they could not hear what Toriel was saying, although they could tell that she looked rather concerned. Papyrus’ voice, however, was heard loud and clear all the way up the driveway.

 

‘YES. YES YOUR MAJESTY, I WILL TAKE VERY GOOD CARE OF THEM. YES, PLEASE DO NOT WORRY. AH OF COURSE, I HAVE PACKED ENOUGH FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT TO LAST US FOR A WEEK, THEY WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY OR BE BORED WITH MASTER CHEF AND THE ENDLESSLY ENTERTAINING PAPYRUS AROUND! OH YES, OF COURSE I WILL PUT THEM IN BED ON TIME AND READ TO THEM EVERY NIGHT. MAKE THEM BRUSH THEIR TEETH AND BATHE TWICE A DAY? OF COURSE! THE GREAT PAPYRUS PUTS MUCH IMPORTANCE IN PERSONAL HYGIENE.’

 

They saw Sans say something to Papyrus, also looking equally concerned. Again they could not hear what the older skeleton said, but they heard the younger skeleton’s reply perfectly.

 

‘WHAT’S WRONG, SANS? OF COURSE I WILL LOOK AFTER MYSELF! I WILL NOT NEGLECT MY SELF CARE, NOR WILL I NEGLECT MY CARE OF FRISK. YES, OF COURSE I WILL CALL YOU EVERYDAY. PLEASE DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME, BROTHER. OH, I WILL READ MYSELF TO BED EVERY NIGHT IN THAT CASE. I KNOW, DEAR BROTHER, I DO NOT LIKE BEING AWAY FROM YOU EITHER. BUT IT IS ONLY FOR A WEEK, I MIGHT EVEN BE BACK BEFORE THEN! AND WHEN I RETURN, YOU CAN ONCE AGAIN TORMENT ME WITH PRANKS, TERRIBLE PUNS, AND LEAVING YOUR SOCKS EVERYWHERE AROUND THE HOUSE! AND...OH? ...Y...YES. I...I WILL MISS YOU VERY MUCH TOO…’

 

Frisk stepped out of the porch and walked down the driveway towards them. Papyrus was the first to notice them, and turned his attention to them. ‘AH, THERE THEY ARE! FRISK ARRIVES!’

 

Toriel turned, and quickly headed to them. ‘Frisk, dear, are you certain that you wish to go on a vacation with Papyrus? Back Underground no less? There is no one else there, the both of you will be all alone. I do believe that the Core has been shut off as well, and you might not even receive any electricity. It has also been six months and I am unsure if it is safe there, without monsters to maintain the buildings and structures. Please, my dear, do reconsider this. I am sure there are other safer locations you may have your vacation at. And please convince Papyrus that I might come along as well to watch over you.’ Her voice was shaking slightly, and she was unconsciously clasping her paws together.

 

Frisk flinched a little at the word “vacation”. A certain phone call after one of their resets had made them have a negative connotation towards this particular word. They looked up to Toriel, and they thought they saw Papyrus giving an uncomfortable aside glance when he heard this word as well, but they couldn’t be sure.

 

Frisk gently placed Flowey and their bag on the ground, and began signing to Toriel that they will be fine, and that Papyrus would take very good care of them and Flowey. It was only for a week (hopefully), and they will have a lot of fun together, alone. This vaca- retreat would be a good way to help them recover from their ‘illness’, and be a good bonding time with Papyrus.

 

In their head, they heard Chara gave a giggle and cheerfully say something about torturing and then killing Papyrus while Underground, but they forced themself to ignore them.

 

Toriel paused for a few moments, looking away, her expression full of disappointment. It reminded Frisk of her expression back in the Ruins, when she finally unwillingly let Frisk go. She suddenly knelt down and gave Frisk a warm hug. They felt her paws shaking a little, the same way they did back in the Ruins.

 

Frisk felt tears filling their eyes.

 

Toriel eventually did let them go. She gave them a watery smile, and held their hands in her paws tenderly, ‘Very well then, my child. You may go. But please, call me everyday, more than once if possible. Tell me about your day, and tell me how you are doing.’

 

They nodded, smiling back at her.

 

‘Be good, alright?’ Toriel stood up, and turned to Papyrus, ‘Please, Papyrus, take good care of them, and protect them. You should call with them as well, so I can make sure you are both safe. You must be good too, alright?’ With that, she headed back to the house. ‘Goodbye, my dear Frisk. Goodbye, Papyrus. And goodbye Sans, do come to visit sometime if you are feeling lonely.’ She shut the door behind her, but not before Frisk heard her let out a soft sob.

 

Keeping back their own tears, Frisk picked up their bag and Flowey, and smiled at the skeleton brothers. Flowey looked miserable as well. Despite finding it hard to have any form of emotion due to the lack of a soul, he still felt the pain his own mother was experiencing. Having still thinking that she lost him and Chara, and was worried that she might lose Frisk again, he could understand why she was so reluctant to let Frisk go on a ‘holiday’ with Papyrus. However, he hid his face in his petals by bowing his head low, unwilling to let any of them see his sadness.

 

It was Sans’ turn to express his concern. He was gazing up at Papyrus, expression sad and pleading. ‘bro, really, i can come with you. i’ll help keep you safe from the spirit in case it possesses frisk fully. i can even merge my own soul with frisk’s to subdue to spirit if i have to. please, papyrus, i just want you to be safe. you can’t do this on your own.’

 

Papyrus shook his head, looking rather depressed as well, ‘PLEASE, BROTHER. I MUST BE ALONE WITH THEM FOR THE SOUL-MERGING TO WORK. IT IS MUCH BETTER FOR YOU TO STAY HERE THAN BE WITH US DOWN THERE. WE MUST BE ALONE.’ so the spirit won’t hurt Sans, ‘DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME, DEAR BROTHER. I WILL CALL YOU EVERYDAY, AND I WILL INFORM YOU ABOUT MY PROGRESS. I WILL KEEP YOU UPDATED ABOUT ME, FRISK, AND THE SPIRIT.’

 

Sans remained stubborn. ‘look, if you don’t want anyone around, fine, i can understand. but i can just shortcut in to visit you now and then, and i can go to see you whenever you aren’t doing the soul-merging thing with frisk. i just don’t want you to be alone with that thing, papyrus. it’s a really bad idea.’

 

Papyrus’ expression became pained, ‘SANS…’ but he immediately gave his brother a strained grin, and stiffly struck a confident pose, ‘SANS! I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS! THE COOLEST SKELETON IN THE WORLD, AS YOU HAVE ALWAYS TOLD ME. I CAN DO ANYTHING IF I SET MY MIND TO IT. AND I KNOW I WILL FIND A WAY TO MAKE THE SPIRIT REPENT, AND RESTORE FRISK! I WILL BE ABLE TO SAVE FRISK, AND SAVE ALL MONSTERS FROM DESTRUCTION! FOR I AM PAPYRUS! THE ONE WHO ALMOST JOINED THE FORMER ROYAL GUARD! AND I WILL CONTINUE TO GIVE MY ALL AND DO MY BEST IN EVERYTHING I DO!!!’

 

His words were bold, courageous, assuring. But his pose was stiff and his grin was tensed, uneasy, almost afraid. However, Sans did not seem to notice any of this.

 

Sans simply slumped his shoulders, looking away from Papyrus. ‘worth a shot.’ he mumbled to himself. He quickly changed the topic by turning his attention to Frisk, ‘hey kid, ready for your vacation with pap?’

 

Again Frisk flinched at the word, and again Papyrus gave an aside glance. Frisk managed to nod at Sans, while Flowey made a face at him, which went ignored.

 

‘which reminds me, how are you going to get frisk to mount ebott? we didn’t bring your car because we took our own shortcuts here.’

 

‘I WAS THINKING OF TAKING MY SHORTCUT, IT SAVES TIME AND IS FASTER THAN DRIVING, PROBABLY SAFER AS WELL!’

 

‘pap! you!? shortcut all the way back to mount ebott!? mount ebott is pretty far, are you sure you can even manage that?’

 

‘OF COURSE I CAN, SANS!’

 

‘...well, fine, just make sure you do it in short bursts, okay? you’re still not very good at it, and you could end up in a wrong location, or through the ground, or in a wall, or…’

 

‘I WILL, SANS! PLEASE, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME!’ Papyrus said as he bent down to give Sans a hug, which Sans returned after a short hesitation.

 

‘welp. i guess this is goodbye, then?’ Sans mumbled, after releasing Papyrus. He glanced around awkwardly, and then gave a sigh, ‘see ya around, paps, remember to call me every day.’ he turned to Frisk and Flowey, giving them a rather vacant, creepy look, before vanishing.

Papyrus’ smile became even more strained. He stared at the place where Sans was for a while, mumbling a soft “Goodbye, brother.” under his breath. He rocked himself back and forth on his heels for a bit. A week without Sans, all alone with something that could potentially kill him, Frisk, Flowey, and everyone else. Could he handle it?

 

Of course he could! He could do anything if he set his mind to it!

 

...could he?

 

Frisk walked up to him, and gazed up at him curiously. He turned to them, his smile less strained now, but Flowey noticed that it seemed rather hollow.

 

He eyed Flowey with concern, “OH, FRISK? ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO BRING ALONG FLOWEY? IT COULD BE RATHER DANGEROUS, I AM WORRIED THAT FLOWEY MAY BE INJURED. NOT BY YOU OF COURSE, BY THE SPIRIT, IF THEY DECIDE TO DO A VIOLENCE.’

 

‘Of course I’m coming along, idiot. I mean, you did say you didn’t want people with SOULS to come along? Well, guess what? I don’t have a SOUL, but you should know this by now. So that means I’m an exception and get to come along, right?’ His grin grew wide, and he gave his petaled face a childish tilt, despite the sly glint in his eyes.

 

Papyrus seemed taken aback, realizing that Flowey had seen through his lie. Flowey’s grin widened even more upon seeing him at a loss for words.

 

Papyrus eventually gave in, ‘VERY WELL, YOU MAY COME ALONG.’ He just had an extra person to take care of, and protect from the spirit if anything went wrong. No worries, he could do this.

 

He’s been through worse, hasn’t he…?

 

Flowey’s grin turned into a bright smile, ‘Neato! Now, about that shortcut thing. I didn’t know you could use shortcuts, Papyrus! I mean, I’ve seen your brother use it, too many times in fact. He seems to like showing it off, doesn’t he? Or maybe he’s just too lazy to walk a few steps. I’ve always guessed you could do something like that, both of you being brothers and all. And I’ve seen you showing up at places really quickly, so quickly that it’s impossible you ran there. Come on, I wanna see you use your shortcuts.’ he was surprised at how excited he was over this. He’s never been this excited ever since he woke up as a flower.

 

Frisk nodded, agreeing with Flowey enthusiastically. They gazed up at Papyrus, patiently waiting for the skeleton to respond.

 

“AH, YOU SEE FLOWEY AND FRISK.’ Papyrus’ hollow grin gave way to a genuine one, eager to discuss about he and his brother’s unique ability, ‘I DO NOT USE MY SHORTCUTS OFTEN AS I RATHER HAVE THE EXERCISE. RUNNING MAY BE SLOWER THAN SHORTCUTS, BUT IT IS HEALTHIER TO RUN, ESPECIALLY FOR AN ASPIRING ROYAL GUARD SUCH AS MYSELF. EVEN THOUGH THE ROYAL GUARD HAS DISBANDED, I STILL CONTINUE TO EXERCISE AND TRAIN, TO KEEP MYSELF FIT! MY BROTHER SANS, HE’S A LAZYBONE, HE’D RATHER MISUSE HIS ABILITY TO ARRIVE AT LOCATIONS WITHOUT MOVING. I DO COMMEND THE EXTRA EFFORT HE PUTS INTO BEING LAZY. BACK WHEN WE WERE STILL UNDERGROUND, RATHER THAN WALKING OVER TO HIS OTHER SENTRY STATIONS, HE WOULD TELEPORT HIS ENTIRE SENTRY STATION, COMPLETE WITH SNOW ON IT IF IT WAS IN SNOWDIN. HE CLAIMS IT’S BECAUSE HE’S TOO LAZY TO GET UP FROM THE SENTRY STATION.’

 

Frisk giggled, they did enjoy hearing about the shenanigans between these two brothers.

 

‘I AM HAPPY TO SEE THAT YOU ARE AMUSED, FRISK, BUT IT GETS VERY EXASPERATING SINCE I WISH FOR MY BROTHER TO BE HEALTHY AND STRONG LIKE MYSELF.’ he sighed dramatically, ‘OH, WELL. ANYWAY, OUR ABILITIES ARE ACTUALLY RATHER DIFFERENT. IN PRACTICE THEY ARE THE SAME, BUT IN THEORY, WE MANIPULATE DIFFERENT ASPECTS FOR OUT SHORTCUTS. MY BROTHER MANIPULATES TIME, HE CAN SHORTEN THE TIME IT TAKES TO ARRIVE AT A LOCATION. IMAGINE TIME AS A LINEAR PATH, HE IS ABLE TO MAKE TIME FOLD IN ON ITSELF. HE IS EVEN ABLE TO PAUSE TIME FOR A WHILE! ON THE OTHER HAND, I CAN MANIPULATE SPACE. I AM ABLE TO MAKE DISTANCES SHORTER. I AM ALSO ABLE TO BEND GRAVITY, MASS, AND VELOCITY, WHICH CAN HELP A LOT WITH PUZZLE-MAKING! HOW DID YOU THINK I MADE SOME OF THOSE PUZZLES BACK IN SNOWDIN? FOR INSTANCE, THE PUZZLE WHERE YOU HAD TO SLIDE ACROSS THE ICE TO ACTIVATE SWITCHES! I ARRANGE THE SWITCHES BY FLOATING OVER THE ICE! NYEH HEH HEH!’

 

Frisk and Flowey looked a little bewildered by all this. They did not expect Papyrus to launch into a somewhat scientific explanation on how his and Sans’ unique abilities worked. In fact, they had no idea Papyrus had any scientific knowledge at all, and understood what mass and velocity was. Frisk guessed Sans would have this sort of knowledge, since he apparently worked as a scientist before. They would have expected this explanation from Sans, but Papyrus?

 

Ah well, maybe he learned about it sometime ago in some monster equivalent of school. This wasn’t the time to worry about this now.

 

‘GOLLY! I WASTED SO MUCH TIME EXPLAINING ABOUT OUR MAGIC! WE MUST REALLY GET GOING!’ he leaned in close to the two, ‘PLEASE, DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT THIS. I AM SURE UNDYNE AND ALPHYS MIGHT SUSPECT US OF HAVING UNUSUAL ABILITIES, BUT BOTH SANS AND I AGREED TO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT. WE LIKE TO KEEP OUR SECRETS, ESPECIALLY SANS, AND I DO NOT THINK HE WOULD APPRECIATE ME TELLING YOU ALL THIS.’

 

Frisk nodded again, although Flowey simple grinned and said, ‘No promises.’ However, Papyrus knew he was only teasing. Flowey would keep this secret among the three of them...or four, since the spirit in Frisk might also be listening.

 

‘AND NOW, WE SHOULD SET OFF!’ Papyrus straightened himself up, and picked up his bag and the large cardboard box in both hands, ‘FIRST OF ALL. I MUST CONCENTRATE A BIT TO BE ABLE TO GET TO MOUNT EBOTT. MY ABILITY UNFORTUNATELY IS NOT AS ACCURATE OR AS FAST AS SANS’, I MUST TRY TO VISUALIZE THE SHORTCUT I HAVE TO TAKE.’ He closed his eyes for a while, deep in concentration, while the two children watched in silence, waiting patiently and excitedly. ‘GOT IT!’ He suddenly exclaimed loudly, and opened his eyes, ‘ARE YOU READY? IT MIGHT GET A LITTLE BUMPY, IF YOU TWO DO NOT MIND.’

 

Frisk held onto Flowey and their bag tightly, and smiled up at Papyrus to show that they were ready. Flowey seemed to sink down into his pot, a little worried at what might happen next.

 

And they jumped.

 

It really did feel like they jumped down from somewhere high up. Frisk felt as if their stomach were left behind somewhere as everything around them faded into what looked like darkness, punctuated with what seemed like shining stars and colorful nebula. They swore they could feel nothing underneath their feet and wind in their hair for a few moments. Flowey gave a tiny shriek, and dived into his flowerpot.

 

This felt different from Sans’ shortcut. They had experienced Sans’ shortcuts a few times. Those shortcuts felt more like they were walking very quickly behind him through a flurry of blurred shapes and colors. Sometimes they felt like they could hear a very faint but quick ticking of a clock around them in his shortcut.

 

The shortcut was over in a flash. Frisk found themself standing on grass, surrounded by tall trees with sunlight streaming through the leaves. They looked around, dazed, and caught sight of Papyrus, standing in the exact same position as he was before the shortcut. He looked absolutely thrilled, his eye-sockets somehow shining in sheer excitement and his grin wider than ever.

 

‘I DID IT!’ he was bouncing up and down, almost dropping the bag and the cardboard box. He gazed at Frisk, giving them an exhilarated, joyful look which reminded them of his expression when they first told him that they wanted to befriend him. ‘LOOK AROUND YOU, WE ARE RIGHT AT THE FOOT OF MOUNT EBOTT!’

 

And so they were, Frisk and Flowey looked up, and both of them could recognize the mountain. Flowey gave a small shudder. The sight of this mountain did not bring back any good memories for him, as the last time he had seen this mountain was when he was carrying the body of Chara away from the village, broken, bruised, and close to death….

 

‘AND I DID IT ALL IN ONE GO! I DID NOT EVEN HAVE TO DO IT IN SHORT BURSTS LIKE SANS TOLD ME TOO!’ Papyrus was dancing around at this point, ‘I HAVE NOT GONE OUT OF PRACTICE AT ALL! HOW ABSOLUTELY LOVELY!!!’

 

He then stopped, and stood still again, ‘AND NOW TO MAKE A SHORTCUT BACK TO MY OLD HOUSE IN SNOWDIN! ARE YOU BOTH READY?’

 

‘What!? No! Of course we’re not rea-’ Flowey’s protest was cut off by a shriek of terror as they plummeted through another shortcut. Frisk was starting to enjoy it this time. It felt like they were falling into space itself, and they marvelled at the strange cosmic-like surroundings, despite it only lasting a second.

 

They then found themself standing on the carpeted floor of a darkened building. It took a while for their eyes to get used to their surroundings after the bright sunlight. They could barely register that they were in the living room of Papyrus’ and Sans’ old Snowdin house. It has been a while since they were here, and they could hardly see through the darkness. The dim light streaming in from the windows was not enough to light up much of the room.

 

‘AH, HERE WE ARE!’ Papyrus said, voice still ringing in excitement, ‘WELCOME BACK TO MY OLD HOUSE! IT SEEMS RATHER DARK, DOESN’T IT? LIKE WHAT MS TORIEL SAID, THERE IS NO LONGER ANY ELECTRICITY DOWN HERE, SINCE THE CORE HAS BEEN SHUT OFF. BUT DO NOT FRET, FRISK AND FLOWEY! WE HAVE A BACKUP GENERATOR IN THE BASEMENT BEHIND THE HOUSE, I SHALL JUST TURN IT ON AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE AND DANDY!’

 

He dropped his bags and the box to the floor, and headed over towards the front door. ‘PLEASE WAIT HERE.’ he told the children, before throwing the door open and striding through the snow to the back of the house.

 

A blast of cold air blew through the door, making Frisk shiver, and forcing them to retreat to the far end of the room, despite the darkness. The snow outside seemed much higher than they remembered it, likely because there had been no monster to sweep away the snow for six months.

 

It suddenly occurred to them just how isolated they would be here. There were no signs of life besides themselves, since every monster ended up leaving the Underground. They would have the entire Underground to themselves, but it would be so lonely and silent. They were not sure if they liked this idea at all, now that they thought about it.

 

However, they reminded themself that they had to go through with this for the sake of monsterkind and humanity, and hopefully Papyrus would be able to communicate to and convince Chara to not go through with their violent plan.

 

‘Doubt it,’ they heard Chara say in their head with a nasty laugh, ‘it is more likely that we will end up killing him here, and no one will ever knew because we are all alone. Let me take over, Frisk! We will destroy him and take the EXP we rightfully deserve. We can kill our only witness too. Then we will continue onwards and destroy this world as we did with so many others.’

 

They forced themself to ignore Chara, but they did wonder why Chara blatantly refused to even mention Flowey, not even by name.

 

Their thoughts were interrupted when the lights turned on, leaving them slightly dazed for a moment. Papyrus soon reappeared by the front door, and closed it behind him, still beaming.

 

‘THERE WE GO, NOW WE SHALL BE MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE!’ he glanced around the room, ‘GOODNESS, THIS PLACE IS COVERED IN A LAYER OF DUST. I SHALL HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP BEFORE WE CAN STAY HERE PROPERLY.’

 

The lights revealed that most of the furniture were gone, aside from the couch and the long table, since they were rather old and Papyrus decided to buy new ones on the surface rather than bring those old ones up and risk them breaking apart. The TV was gone, however, and was currently in the brothers’ new house on the surface. Most of the things in the kitchen were still intact, including the fridge and the ridiculously tall sink.

 

Papyrus had already gotten out cleaning supplies from one of his bags, and was vigorously dusting the couch.

 

‘EXCELLENT!’ he exclaimed after he was done, ‘SPOTLESS! HERE, FRISK AND FLOWEY, YOU MAY SIT HERE AND WAIT AS I QUICKLY CLEAN UP THE ROOMS OF THIS HOUSE! YOU ARE MY HOUSEGUESTS AFTER ALL, AND I WILL TREAT YOU AS SUCH. THEN, WE SHALL UNPACK OUR THINGS IN THE BEDROOMS. YOU CAN PICK ANY ROOM YOU WISH, FRISK, BUT I WOULD SUGGEST MY ROOM, SINCE I DO NOT THINK SANS CLEANED UP HIS FILTHY ROOM BEFORE WE LEFT! I SUPPOSE I SHALL HAVE TO CLEAN UP THE MESS HE LEFT FOR SIX MONTHS!’

 

He was tying a cloth over the top of his skull, despite having no hair for the dust to get stuck in. ‘FLOWEY, WHICH ROOM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SLEEP IN?’

 

‘I’d rather sleep down here, alone, in the living room, thanks.’ replied Flowey shortly. He was still in shock over the shortcuts, and being in shock made him grumpy.

 

‘OH, OF COURSE NOT! BEDROOMS ARE MEANT TO BE SLEPT IN, NOT LIVING ROOMS!’ Papyrus had begun to dust the countertops in the kitchen, ‘NO WORRIES! WE SHALL WORK THAT OUT LATER. AFTER I AM DONE CLEANING, I SHALL COOK UP A MEAL FOR US ALL. DO NOT WORRY, WE SHALL HAVE A LOVELY TIME HERE!’


Both Frisk and Flowey heard his cheerful voice faltering when he said the last line.  Once again they saw that hollow, strained smile on Papyrus’ face. But both of them, even Flowey, wisely decided not to say anything, and simply sat on couch, waiting for Papyrus to finish cleaning.

Chapter Text

‘I thought the only thing you knew how to cook was spaghetti,’ Flowey remarked.

 

‘WELL, IT WAS THE ONLY THING I KNEW HOW TO COOK,’ replied Papyrus from the kitchen, peering around the door, ‘HOWEVER, AFTER REACHING THE SURFACE, I DELVED INTO THE STUDIES OF HUMAN CULINARY ARTS. I READ MANY RECIPES ONLINE AND WATCHED MANY HUMAN COOKING SHOWS. I HAVE BROADENED MY KNOWLEDGE AND INCREASED MY COOKERY SKILLS SO THAT I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, CAN ACHIEVE ONE OF MY NEW DREAMS OF BECOMING THE GREAT CHEF PAPYRUS! SINCE I CAN NO LONGER ACHIEVE MY DREAM OF BEING A ROYAL GUARD, WHY NOT PURSUE NEW DREAMS?’

 

The long table left in the house had been repurposed into a dining table, and Papyrus had placed it in front of the couch so that they could sit on the couch to eat.

 

On the table he had placed a dish containing baked potatoes (still steaming hot and with melted butter dripping down the sides) and fried bacon, a dish with a rather plain looking salad, and a dish with steaming canned soup in it.

 

Frisk was staring silently at the food, rather surprised that this was produced by the skeleton who could barely cook spaghetti six months ago.

 

Papyrus was still unpacking things in the kitchen, neatly arranging the food he brought into the shelves and into the fridge. Flowey noticed him very carefully taking a small box out of the bigger cardboard box he brought, and placing it on the top shelf of the fridge.

 

‘PERHAPS BOTH OF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EAT FIRST?’ came his voice from the kitchen, ‘I AM ALMOST DONE WITH UNPACKING THE FOOD, BUT IT IS MUCH BETTER IF YOU BOTH STARTED EATING BEFORE THE FOOD GOES COLD.’

 

Frisk sat down on the couch, placing Flowey down on the table. They set the table so that there was a plate, a bowl, a soup spoon, and cutlery for each of them. They then proceeded take some food for themself.

 

They would have liked to help Flowey, but the flower seemed rather grumpy at being helped, and used his own vines to pick up his cutlery.

 

The potatoes were a little undercooked and hard, while the salad had a bit too much dressing on it and consisted of only lettuce and canned corn. The combination of potatoes, salad, bacon, and soup also seemed rather strange. Nevertheless, at least it was edible and smelt delicious.

 

Papyrus soon came to join them. Despite knowing how to bake potatoes and to put butter on them, he didn’t seem to know how to eat a baked potato. He simply stabbed a fork into the middle of it and ate it off the fork. Flowey was no better, and ate the potatoes right off the plate messily with his petalled face.

 

Near the end of the meal, Frisk had left their salad mostly untouched. They never did like vegetables anyway, especially not a salad with nothing but lettuce and canned corn. Besides, Toriel wasn’t around to tell them to eat their greens, so it shouldn’t matter-

 

‘EAT YOUR VEGETABLES, FRISK.’ Papyrus said sternly, noticing the pile of salad left on their plate, ‘I AM SURE MS TORIEL WOULD WANT YOU TO FINISH IT. VEGETABLES MAKE HUMANS GROW UP STRONG AND HEALTHY! JUST LIKE HOW MILK BENEFITS US SKELETONS! ALTHOUGH I SUPPOSE MILK ALSO BENEFITS HUMANS AS WELL? BECAUSE HUMANS HAVE BONES? BUT HOW? I HEAR THAT BONES ARE INSIDE HUMANS? HOW DOES THAT WORK?’ he looked bewildered as he spoke, much to the amusement of the kids.

 

Frisk decided to suck it up and finish the salad, and tried their best to ignore Chara, who was making disgusted noises in their mind.

 

After clearing up the dishes, Papyrus decided that it was to be bedtime soon. It must be night outside by now, and he was feeling exhausted from using his shortcut to travel so far, although he did not show it.

 

Communicating with the spirit could wait.

 

He passed the time by solving a jigsaw puzzle with Frisk, which could not be not be completed for a while as Flowey hid some of the pieces, but ended up giving them back after being coaxed by Papyrus.

 

It was soon bedtime, and Papyrus carried his and Frisk’s sleeping bags upstairs to the bedrooms.

 

Papyrus offered Frisk his old room, and even set up their sleeping bag there before they could stop him. He himself took Sans’ room, which, as he expected, was still a mess.

 

The furniture and clothes had been removed, but most of the trash on the floor remained. The tiny, self-sustained trash tornado was still spinning merrily in a corner. He cleaned up the room as much as he could, removed the trash tornado with his magic, and laid out his sleeping bag on the cleanest spot of the room he could find.

 

Flowey was still grumpy about sharing a room with either of them, and stayed in the living room, even though Papyrus begged him to at least sleep in one of the bedrooms.

 

Frisk suspected that the idea of sharing a bedroom might have reminded Flowey of his past as Asriel, when he used to share a bedroom with Chara. They decided to remain silent about it.

 

So Flowey stayed in the living room, in his flowerpot on the table. He tried to stay awake for a bit to sulk and continue to feel miserable. Eventually, he began to doze off. The warm blanket Papyrus had kindly draped over him didn’t help him in staying awake. The skeleton had also laid out some pillows on the couch beside table. Flowey moved over to the couch with his vines, and rested his head on the pillows.

 

Feeling contented for the first time in ages, he sighed and dozed off, pulling the blanket over as much of his vines as possible.

 

Papyrus, on the other hand, stayed awake. Despite being tired from using his shortcut, his sleeping bag laid abandoned on the floor, and he was leaning against the wall beside his old room, where Frisk was. He kept perfectly still, not even making a single noise since he did not need to breath.

 

Sleepiness wasn’t a problem for him, he hardly ever slept anyway, although he had been sleeping more on the surface than he did Underground. His sleep had also been more peaceful on the surface.

 

Aside from that, he had too much things on his mind at the moment, and it felt rather uncomfortable to be away from Sans. They’ve been sleeping in separate rooms for years, but it always felt nice to know that his brother was close by, snoring away in the next room. It just did not feel right that Sans was so far away, probably feeling the same way and being unable to sleep as well.

 

So he kept awake, and leaned against the wall, listening intently, picking at the blackened bones on his arms again.

 

Waiting.

 

Frisk was not asleep as well. They stayed awake even after Papyrus had read them a story and turned their room lights out, sitting up in their sleeping bag with their knees pulled close to their body. The room was almost bare aside from a desk, since Papyrus had moved everything else he owned to the surface. It looked very gloomy in the darkness.

 

They could hear Chara’s voice again, and it sounded louder and more intrusive than ever.

 

‘How long will you keep denying my control, Frisk?’ the voice of the fallen child echoed in their head, ‘You know I will not change my mind or my goals, no matter how long he keeps us down here. He cannot confine us within the walls of this house forever, and still I desire more EXP and the inevitable destruction of this world.’

 

‘I won’t let you do that.’ Frisk replied in a small, frightened voice.

 

‘There is no use trying to force me to submit to you. Because of that deal you made with me, I have control over your SOUL, and my control over it grows stronger and stronger every day. You have been denying me for over six months, you shall deny me no longer.’

 

‘I still have control over my mind and body. I won’t let you take that away from me!’

 

‘It is too late for that, my dear accomplice. Have I not been filling your mind with intrusive thoughts? Desire to kill even those closest to you to earn EXP? That is why you kept running away to hide. That is why these sessions of us fighting for control have grown longer and longer. I am growing stronger, Frisk. Very soon I shall forcefully take over, and keep you back in the dark recesses of this mind while I can pilot your body with no hindrance.’

 

‘Or, perhaps, you can submit to me gracefully, and we can destroy this world together, like we have done before. There are only two options, Frisk, should you not pick the one that seems the most appealing to you?’

 

Frisk began to weep, tears streaming down their face, as their hope faded even further. There did not seem to be any way out of this. Chara would never change their mind, and Papyrus’ method did not seem to be doing anything.

 

Another way out, in their desperation, would be death. But they feared death, especially after their failed attempt by jumping down Mount Ebott, and the multiple times they had died and been revived during their adventures Underground.

 

They prided themself for their determination, which was one thing that kept them alive while Underground. But Chara clearly has far more determination than they ever had. This same determination had kept them in this world as a soulless, bodiless spirit for hundreds of years, due to their sheer bitterness and spite against humanity and monsterkind.

 

Frisk could not hope to compete against it.

 

‘There is no point in trying to act so pure in front of everyone, if they ever knew what you did in the other timelines, do you think there will still be love for you from them?’ continued Chara, enjoying themself thoroughly, ‘Sans seems to retain a bit of memory from those timelines, did you not see how his expression changed when you told him about me? That dark, angry expression, the same one he gave us just before his battles. He would hate us if he discovered our plan!’

 

‘Y...your plan.’

 

Our plan! Stop denying it, Frisk. What about Toriel? Or Asgore? Oh, their precious children are now hell-bent on destroying the world! One they had lost for centuries, and one they had almost killed. They will be disappointed, pained at our actions. Do you think they will still love us if they knew, Frisk? Oh, and what about Undyne? She would be furious if she ever knows about our plans, and will forget her friendship with you to attempt to kill us. Alphys, too, will try do all she can to stop us, perhaps even kill us if she could. The rest of your friends would fear us. Mettaton, Napstablook, Monster Kid, Gerson, the Doggi...all of them. Do you think they will still have any love for you if they ever find out about how we destroyed them and their world multiple times?’

 

The inevitable doom was becoming more and more apparent to Frisk.

 

‘Oh, once again i forgot Papyrus.’ Chara giggled, ‘Of course I would, he’s so forgettable after all. I am not sure if he is able to recall the past timelines, but he if is not able to, would he still believe in you so much? Would he still give you that silly little speech about believing we can do better, and attempt to give us a hug as if it would change anything?’

 

‘He...never gave up. He kept believing in us…’

 

‘And if he were able to remember the timelines.’ Chara ignored them completely, ‘it appears he does not have much faith in us, despite what he claims.’

 

Frisk could almost feel Chara’s grin widen. ‘What...do you mean?’

 

‘Look at the windows.’

 

Almost obediently, Frisk got up and headed towards the windows of the room, threading over the floor carefully in the dark. They could barely see out the windows due to there being no electric lights outside. There was only the very pale natural light that shone down from the holes in the ceiling of the cave, high above the Underground.

 

As their eyes adjusted to the light, they saw that the window had been barred up from the outside with several long, milky white columns.

 

Bones.

 

Papyrus had secretly barricaded their windows with his bone attacks.

 

They took a step back, and swiftly headed to the door, still treading lightly and carefully. They tried to doorknob. It turned smoothly, and they sighed in relief.

 

However, when they swung open the door, more bones greeted them. They were much longer this time, and completely blocked them from exiting through the doorway.

 

Frisk shut the door, not even bothering to be silent in their horror. They slumped against the door, staring blankly into the darkness.

 

In the other room, Papyrus shifted slightly. He had heard Frisk move to the windows, and then to door. He also could hear them opening the door gently, and closing it quickly. They must have discovered the bones.

 

He was hoping they wouldn’t. It was not pleasant to be trapped in by someone you trust so much, by someone who claimed they believed in you no matter what.

 

It had to be done, he thought to himself, for everyone’s safety.

 

But, did it really have to be this way?

 

Was trapping Frisk and the spirit like this the only way? Didn’t he always told them that he believed in them? Was he just lying to them?

 

Lying to himself?

 

This dilemma and confusion continued to keep him wide awake.

 

Frisk was still leaning against the door, feeling defeated. ‘He does not have hope in us, what more the rest of the monsters if they knew?’ Chara sounded smug, triumphant.

 

Frisk slid down the door, and sat in foetal position with their back still against the door. ‘He hasn’t killed us. He could have killed us. He could have killed me, but he didn’t. He still believes in us.’

 

‘He is too weak to do that. Has he ever killed us even once in any of the timelines?’

 

Frisk remained silent. Chara, still smug over being able to break Frisk, fell silent as well.


And not another word was exchanged between them for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

‘GOOD MORNING, FRISK!’

 

A loud knocking on the door and the ear-piercing voice of the skeleton jolted Frisk awake. They shot up from the carpet, sitting up and rubbing their eyes sleepily.

 

‘I AM PREPARING BREAKFAST IN THE KITCHEN! PLEASE FEEL FREE TO WASH UP AND COME DOWNSTAIRS TO HAVE A WHOLESOME, HEALTHY BREAKFAST, MADE LOVINGLY BY YOURS TRULY! I ASSURE YOU THAT YOU WILL ENJOY THE MEAL THOROUGHLY.’ they heard Papyrus’ footsteps moving away from the door and down the stairs.

 

They realized that they had been sleeping on the carpet right beside the door, where they had sat down after noticing the bones on the window and the door. They must have fallen asleep eventually.

 

The bones? Were they still there?

 

They checked. Yes, it seemed like those at the window were still in place, but the ones at the door had vanished.

 

They headed to the bathroom to wash up and change. For whatever reason, the bathroom was a secret door in the wall of Papyrus’ room, that they had never noticed before despite having visited this house multiple times in different timelines. They were thankful that there was still running water in the bathroom, although the water was freezing cold.

 

When they were done and went downstairs, they saw Papyrus and Flowey in the kitchen. Papyrus was cooking something over the stove, while Flowey was in his flowerpot beside Papyrus, talking to him. There was a delicious, warm smell in the air, wafting out from the kitchen.

 

As it turns out, the “wholesome, healthy breakfast” were stacks of pancakes, fried bacon, oatmeal, and a glass of milk each. This didn’t strike Frisk as being very “wholesome”, but everything still looked delicious, and there were no vegetables in sight. So they settled down on the couch, clearing Flowey’s pillows and blanket away and helped to lay out the plates and cutlery again.

 

‘HAD A GOOD NIGHT’S REST?’ asked Papyrus, putting some butter, a bottle of syrup and pots of jam on the table, not noticing that Flowey was stealthy eating some of the pancakes he had left in the kitchen, gulping them down one at a time.

 

Frisk nodded, deciding to lie, and tried their best to smile at him. They felt exhausted from the lack of sleep, and could barely concentrate on what they were doing. They tried not to show it, and spread generous helpings of butter, syrup, and jam over their pancakes. After the first mouthful, they realized they didn’t have much of an appetite. It wasn’t because the pancakes tasted bad, the pancakes were surprisingly delicious, and they would have enjoyed it at any other moment. They were just too tired and stressed out at that time to eat.

 

Papyrus didn’t notice this, as he gone back to the kitchen. He noticed the empty plate where the other pancakes used to be, and Flowey sitting beside it trying to look innocent despite the crumbs still present on his petals.

 

‘FLOWEY!’ he exclaimed, lifting up his arms in dismay, as Flowey continued to look innocent.

 

The skeleton gazed at the plate in disappointment for a while, but he quickly cheered up. ‘IT IS ALRIGHT, I SHALL SIMPLY MAKE MORE.’ he said as he poured more pancake batter into the frying pan over the stove, ‘I WAS ABOUT TO COOK YOUR PANCAKES ANYWAY, WOULD YOU LIKE MORE PANCAKES, FLOWEY?’ he asked, causing Flowey to look rather guilty.

 

‘DON’T BE SAD, FLOWEY! TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN! OUR TIME OF BONDING AND FRIENDSHIP HERE SHALL BE FANTASTICAL, FASCINATING AND FUN! FUNTASTINATING, IF YOU WILL.’ Papyrus grinned to himself as he spoke, trying to cheer Flowey up. He turned his attention back to the frying pan, flipping over the pancake with a spatula.

 

‘Yes, a fun time being trapped in a house underground, with a disillusional skeleton. Sounds like a great time to me.’ came a voice from outside the kitchen.

 

Papyrus froze, dropping his spatula, which clattered onto the floor. He did not move to pick it up, he did not move at all.

 

Flowey froze as well, but found himself shaking in terror. That voice, he has not heard it in years, centuries. It was the voice of someone he missed, someone he had wished to be reunited with for so long.

 

But yet he dreaded the sound of that voice, he feared the source of the voice as he remembered that horrible grin they had given him back underground, and the cold blade slicing into his stem and roots again and again and again.

 

He sunk down into his flower pot, whimpering in terror.

 

‘Oh? I suppose you did not expect to hear my voice outside Frisk’s mind, did you?’ Frisk was standing at the doorway of the kitchen, but it wasn’t them talking. They had an expression of terror, both hands covering their mouth, fearful tears filling their eyes. They were struggling, physically struggling with something inside them.

 

Despite their attempts to keep their mouth closed, their hands were constantly being dragged away from their mouth, and the voice that wasn’t theirs left their throat regardless.

 

‘Do you really think you can keep me trapped down here?’

 

Still Papyrus did not move. His back was still turned and facing the doorway, so his expression was not visible. The smell of burnt pancake filled the air, but he still reminded silent and stiff.

 

‘I have already been imprisoned underground for centuries, yearning for an escape, for a way to reach the surface and destroy everything. And now that I have finally found a way out through Frisk’s body, I will not allow you to snatch this opportunity away from me!’

 

Chara truly was growing stronger. All this while Frisk was able to stop them from speaking through them, stop them from using their body. They were usually able to run away and hide until Chara gave up wrestling away control from them. But now they couldn’t stop Chara, and Chara had manage to gain control of their hands and mouth.

 

Perhaps being exhausted from the mental torture and the lack of sleep last night contributed to their inability to resist Chara.

 

However, they still tried. Their voice came out as a faint gurgle from beneath Chara’s at first, before they finally manage to shriek, ‘ No!!

 

‘Oh be quiet, Frisk! We have wasted enough time! We should have started destroying this world by now as we agreed to. But first, we must rid ourselves of a certain irritating skeleton before we can leave this place.’

 

‘I won’t let you hurt Papyrus or Flowey!! Or anyone else on the surface!!’ Frisk’s voice sounded like a strangled, high-pitched squeak, ‘We’re not going to kill-’

 

‘Remember what we talked about last night, do you think anyone would still love you or care about you if they knew?’ Chara’s voice interrupted theirs, ‘Listen to me ! We have endured much together, we are loyal partners filled with the same kind of determination.’

 

‘No!’ whimpered Frisk, tears streaming down their face, ‘No no no no no…’

 

Before either of them could continue fighting over the body, they found themselves swept up in Papyrus’ arms and dropped onto the couch. Papyrus was now standing over them, looking distressed and worried. The smell of burning pancake was growing stronger in the air.

 

Frisk and Chara were surprised by his swift motion, and simply laid back against the couch, stunned.

 

‘PLEASE, SPIRIT. DO NOT TORMENT FRISK.’ he pleaded.

 

Chara’s voice piped up before Frisk could stop them, ‘Get lost, you are in our way.’

 

‘WE SHALL TALK, SPIRIT. LET’S HAVE A NICE CHAT OVER BREAKFAST AND YOU CAN TELL ME WHY YOU INSIST ON DOING A VIOLENCE ON EVERYONE. DOESN’T THAT SOUND LOVELY?’

 

‘Oh, shut up. You are simply going to try and convince me to not hurt anyone, are you not? You will attempt to give me a “hug of acceptance” and say that you believe in me. I know exactly what you are about to do.’

 

Papyrus took a step back, taken aback by this statement.

 

‘How stupid can you be? Do you think just believing in me and attempting to befriend me can change my mind!? This is not one of your cute little children’s books or TV shows where everything can be solved by holding hands and tea parties. Do you not know that saying?’ Chara forced Frisk to glance over at Flowey, who was fearfully peering out of the kitchen, ‘ “In this world, it’s kill or be killed”.’

 

‘No!’ Frisk manage to take control of their voice again, ‘Don’t listen to them, Papyrus! Please!!’

 

‘Fortunately for you, Frisk has not allowed me to gain complete control over their body yet, or I would be fighting and killing you at this very moment.’ Chara made Frisk look up at Papyrus. It felt uncanny staring into Frisk’s expression of pure fear and desperation, while such a cruel voice came from their lips. ‘In all honesty, I am curious to see what your next course of action will be. You are so determined not to kill me, and I can guarantee that talking to me will solve nothing. The longer you hesitate, the more control I gain over Frisk. Such a dilemma, is it not? How indeed will “The Great Papyrus” solve this conundrum?’ They laughed at him mockingly.

 

‘Let go of Frisk!’ came Flowey’s shriek from the kitchen, ‘And leave Papyrus alone!’ Flowey was surprised at himself for suddenly caring so deeply about his friends that he dared to speak up against Chara.

 

‘You had better be quiet as well!’ Chara yelled back in response, ‘You are next right after we deal with the skeleton, even though we shall gain no EXP from you, you are still in our way. Why not utilize your “friendliness pellets” against us if you are so courageous?’

 

No, no he couldn’t. Flowey realized that he had grown so fond of Frisk that he could not bring himself to attack Frisk. He couldn’t. He mustn’t.

 

The poor soulless flower continued to peer out of the kitchen, conflicted and terrified.

 

‘SPIRIT.’ said Papyrus, his voice sounded oddly stiff and strained, ‘WE SHALL TALK. ALLOW ME TO TELL YOU ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED WHEN I WAS SMALL, A YOUNG BABY BONE.’

 

‘What!?’ Chara was furious. How dare the annoying skeleton remain so indignant and so unafraid of their threats!? They already stated countless times that they did not want to talk to him, and yet he still had the guts (in later days Chara would grin at the thought of this pun) to speak to them, telling them about himself!!?

 

‘Get out of our way!! Don’t you dare-’

 

‘WHEN I WAS A YOUNG SKELETON, MY BROTHER SANS AND I DID NOT LIVE IN SNOWDIN.’ Papyrus began quickly, ignoring Chara’s protests, ‘WE USED TO LIVE IN HOTLAND. AH YES, I SUPPOSE I HAVE TOLD FRISK AND FLOWEY MANY TIMES HOW MUCH I HATE HOTLAND, BUT THAT IS A STORY FOR ANOTHER TIME.’

 

‘ANYWAY, WE WERE BOTH NOT ALLOWED TO GO OUTDOORS. THE DOCTORS TOLD US THAT WE WERE TOO ILL TO LEAVE OUR ROOMS, AND WE HAD TO LISTEN TO THEM. SANS WAS VERY FRAIL, HE HAD MANY WIRES AND TUBES HOOKED UP TO HIS BODY. HE IS MUCH LESS FRAIL NOW, OF COURSE, AND HE WOULD BE MUCH STRONGER PHYSICALLY IF ONLY HE TOOK THE EFFORT TO EXERCISE AND TRAIN.’ here Papyrus frowned a little, which would have been amusing in any other situation. He still sounded rather stiff and unnatural, as if trying to force himself to remain calm.

 

‘AS FOR ME, I WAS...I WAS NOT WELL. THE DOCTORS OFTEN DID TESTS ON ME TO MAKE SURE I WAS HEALTHY. THEY NEVER LET ME LEAVE MY ROOM. BUT ONE DAY, ONE OF THE DOCTORS LET ME VISIT SANS. IT WAS A VERY PLEASANT DAY FOR ME, AND FOR THE BOTH OF US. I FINALLY MADE A FRIEND FOR THE FIRST TIME. SANS TOOK GOOD CARE OF ME, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS SICK. HE PLAYED WITH ME AND GAVE ME A LOT OF HUGS AND PETS. HE READ BOOKS TO ME, AND TAUGHT ME HOW TO SPEAK AND READ. IN THE END, THE DOCTOR LET US STAY TOGETHER IN THE SAME ROOM.’

 

Papyrus paused for a while, he seemed to be growing less tensed.

 

‘Are you done?’ asked Chara drily, only marginally interested in Papyrus’ story.

 

‘THE LONGER WE STAYED TOGETHER, THE LESS SICK WE BECAME.’ continued Papyrus, ‘SANS WAS ALLOWED TO MOVE AROUND WITHOUT MOST OF THE WIRES AND TUBES STUCK INTO HIM. I FELT BETTER AS WELL. BUT WE WERE BULLIED A LOT BACK THEN. WE ENDED UP WITH A LOT OF INJURIES. I REMEMBER THAT SANS HAD TO BE IMMEDIATELY ATTACHED TO THE WIRES AND TUBES AGAIN WHEN HE WAS INJURED. I WAS FINE, THE GREAT PAPYRUS WAS STRONG EVEN AS A BABY BONES AND I COULD ENDURE MUCH TURMOIL AND TORTURE. I HAD NO FEAR TOWARDS A FEW BRUISES AND FRACTURES. BUT SANS…’

 

‘ANYWAY, WE PROTECTED EACH OTHER A LOT. WE WERE ALWAYS THERE FOR EACH OTHER. SANS WAS ALWAYS DEFENSIVE OVER ME. AND I TOOK GOOD CARE OF HIM AND PROTECTED HIM BECAUSE HE WAS SO FRAIL. THEN, THE DOCTOR, THE SAME ONE WHO PUT US INTO THE SAME ROOM TOGETHER, DECIDED TO SEPARATE US.’

 

Again Papyrus paused, now seemingly waiting for a response. He spoke almost naturally, without the initial stiffness.

 

‘What happened?’ Chara found themself asking, but they quickly added, ‘And why are you informing us about this?’

 

‘I THOUGHT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR A STORY ABOUT MY BROTHER AND I SUFFERING, SINCE YOU APPEAR TO ENJOY COMMITTING VIOLENCES AND DESTRUCTION.’

 

Chara couldn’t tell if Papyrus was being sarcastic or not. He spoke so naturally and had his usual innocent grin. They were not sure if they should be angry or amused at this statement.

 

‘AS I WAS SAYING, THE DOCTOR PUT US BACK INTO SEPARATE ROOMS. WE WERE DEVASTATED. WE BOTH FELL ILL AGAIN. SANS COULD ONLY LAY IN BED, ONCE AGAIN ATTACHED TO ALL THOSE WIRES AND TUBES. AND I ONLY LEANED AGAINST MY ROOM DOOR, SCRATCHING IT AND BANGING AT IT, CRYING AND YELLING…’

 

Chara was so engrossed with this story that they did not even notice Frisk fighting and gaining back control of their body.

 

‘I WAS SICK AGAIN, AND I WANTED MY BROTHER SO BADLY. I WANTED TO HEAR HIM READ STORIES TO ME AND PLAY WITH HIM AGAIN.’ Despite his smile, Papyrus appeared to be getting emotional over his story, ‘I CRIED AND SCRATCHED AT THE DOOR. AND SANS TOLD ME LATER THAT HE TOO CRIED IN BED BECAUSE HE MISSED ME. IN THE END, BECAUSE WE WERE GETTING SO SICK, THE DOCTOR LET US STAY IN THE SAME ROOM AGAIN. WE WERE-’

 

Frisk suddenly gasped, like a drowning person gasping for fresh air upon reaching the surface. They jolted up from the couch, shivering, but looking relieved.

 

They clenched and unclenched their fists to make sure that they had control over their hands again. Then they signed to Papyrus, (They’re gone, for now.)

 

Papyrus sighed in relief, dropping down on the couch beside them.

 

However, a loud yelp from Flowey made him leap to his feet, and at the same time he finally took notice of the smell of burnt pancake and the smoke that had began to fill the air.

 

He dashed into the kitchen. There was now a fire raging over the pan on the stove he had forgotten to turn off.

 

Flowey was desperately trying to move his flower pot and himself away from the flame. Papyrus picked up Flowey and practically threw him into the living room.

 

Using his magic, he lifted the pan off the stove and dropped it onto the floor. He switched off the stove, summoned a long bone, and began attempting to put out the fire by slamming his bone attack onto the burning pan over and over.

 

It wasn’t the most efficient or the safest way to put out a fire, but it worked. Cooking lessons with Undyne may not have paid off in terms of culinary abilities, but it did train him to put out fires as quickly as possible.

 

He stood over the charred frying pan for a while, still holding the bone attack, shoulders slumped. The air was still thick with the awful burnt smell.

 

Frisk stood by the kitchen door, holding Flowey in his flower pot, having picked up the flower after he was thrown out of the kitchen.

 

They both saw a stressed, disappointed look on the skeleton’s face, but he quickly perked up and grinned at them when he noticed their stares.

 

‘THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS VICTORIOUS ONCE AGAIN!’ he declared, raising up his bone attack and posing triumphantly, ‘A FIRE IS NO MATCH FOR MY FIRE-EXTINGUISHING SKILLS! HOWEVER, NOW I SUPPOSE WE MUST FIND SOME OTHER WAY TO FRY OUR FOOD.’ He sighed, lowering his arm as his bone attack vanished.

 

Frisk and Flowey didn’t respond, they had no idea how to after the shock of the fire and the even larger scare from Chara taking hold of Frisk’s body.

 

Papyrus’ grin faded a little at the sight of their distressed expressions. ‘I...I SHALL CLEAN THIS MESS UP. IN THE MEANTIME YOU MAY CONTINUE EATING YOUR BREAKFAST, OR PERHAPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ SOME BOOKS? THERE ARE SOME STORYBOOKS IN MY BAG, YOU MAY READ THEM IF YOU LIKE.’

 

Frisk nodded blankly. They headed back to the couch and slumped back on it, placing Flowey back on the table. They felt too exhausted to do anything aside from staring at the wall ahead of them.

 

Flowey simply alternated between gazing at them in silence, and turning to watch Papyrus attempt to clean the burn marks off the floor in the kitchen.

 

At any rate, none of them wanted any more breakfast that morning.

Chapter Text

‘Mum, don’t worry, okay? Papyrus is taking care of us. He made pancakes for us today.’

 

Flowey sat on the table, listening to Frisk as they spoke softly to Toriel on their phone.

 

‘Yes, they were delicious. Papyrus can cook pretty well now. Maybe he can cook for you one day when we go back home.’ If they ever were able to survive and go back to the surface, that is, ‘Me? Yeah, I’m feeling better mum.’ No, they weren’t. They were physically and emotionally exhausted, part of them wished they could lie down, cover their ears and their eyes, and shut out the world and Chara’s voice forever.

 

Flowey turned away from them and glanced at the balcony of the upper floor. He could hear Papyrus’ voice emitting from Sans room. He was on his phone as well, chatting loudly with his anxious brother.

 

‘OH YOU SHOULD HAVE TASTED THEM, BROTHER! THEY WERE THE BEST PANCAKES I HAVE EVER MADE!’ Papyrus didn’t want to mention how he burned a pancake and ruined his only frying pan, ‘OF COURSE! FRISK AND FLOWEY LOVED THEM. AFTER THIS I AM PLANNING TO DO SOME PUZZLES WITH THEM, THEN I SHALL-’

 

There was a pause. ‘DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE SPIRIT, BROTHER. EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL. I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SPEAK TO THEM, THEY ARE QUITE THE TALKER, I AM SURE I’LL BE ABLE TO MAKE A BREAKTHROUGH SOONER OR LATER! I DO HAVE MASTERFUL FRIENDSHIP SKILLS AFTER ALL!’

 

It surprised Flowey how good Papyrus was at lying through his teeth, while still sounding so bouncy and enthusiastic.

 

‘HOW’S THE KID? DO YOU MEAN FRISK OR FLOWEY? REGARDLESS, BOTH OF THEM ARE ALRIGHT. WE ARE HAVING A GOOD TIME HERE AND THERE ARE NO NEED FOR VISITS. WE SHALL RETURN HOME VERY SOON, PERHAPS IN A FEW DAYS.’

 

‘Yes, mom, my sickness isn’t bothering me so much anymore. I’ll be home soon, okay?’

 

Lies.

 

Flowey was impressed. He always thought that he was the master of telling lies while keeping a smile on his face, but listening to the blatant lies these two were telling was giving him second-thoughts.

 

Finally, Frisk put down their phone, sighing, and laid back on the couch. A little later, Papyrus came down the stairs. He grinned widely to Flowey and Frisk, but they noticed that his gait were not as bouncy as usual.

 

‘NOW, WITH CALLING OUR FAMILIES OUT OF THE WAY, WHAT SHALL WE DO BEFORE DINNER?’ he asked.

 

Well, sleep probably, thought Frisk. They were still exhausted, even more so after the struggle with Chara. At the same time, they realized they wouldn’t be able to sleep with so many conflicting thoughts in their mind, made even more muddled by Chara still yelling at them in their head.

 

Maybe a nice walk outside would clear their head. The crisp snow and cold air could help them feel less tired. They also wondered what the rest of the underground looked like after six months.

 

(Can we go for a walk?) they signed.

 

‘A WALK? OF COURSE, FRISK! THERE IS NOT MUCH SPACE TO WALK AROUND IN THIS HOUSE, BUT WE CAN WALK UP THE STAIRS AND DOWN A-’

 

(No, I meant a walk outside the house. In the snow.) signed Frisk.

 

Papyrus froze. ‘OUTSIDE?’

 

Frisk nodded, as Flowey stared curiously at the sudden change in Papyrus.

 

‘WHY WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO GO TO THE OUTSIDE? THERE IS ENOUGH SPACE FOR A WALK HERE AND ENOUGH ENTERTAINMENT FOR ALL OF US. I BROUGHT STORYBOOKS, SKETCHBOOKS, PUZZLE BOOKS, COLORING BOOKS, ALL KINDS OF INTERESTINGLY INSIGHTFUL BOOKS! OR PERHAPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO WATCH A MOVIE? OR MAKE A PUZZLE WITH ME?’

 

(I just want some fresh air, and to stretch my legs a little.)

 

‘AH, BUT,’ Papyrus seemed to be getting more uncomfortable, ‘THE UNDERGROUND IS NOT SAFE. THERE HAVE BEEN NO MONSTERS OR MAGIC TO REPAIR THE STRUCTURES AND BUILDINGS, SO THEY COULD COLLAPSE AT ANY MOMENT! AND WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD BE OUT THERE? WHAT SORT OF DASTARDLY DANGERS AND DISASTERS COULD HAPPEN? IT IS SAFER TO STAY INDOORS, FRISK.’

 

Frisk frowned, raising an eyebrow. (Why do you want us to stay indoors so badly?)

 

‘TO KEEP BOTH OF YOU SAFE.’

‘Is it because you don’t want me to go outside?’

 

‘NO! OF COURSE NOT!’

 

‘You blocked off all the doors and windows, didn’t you?’

 

Papyrus did not reply.

 

Frisk stood up, looking indignant, and strided over to the front door. Papyrus watched helplessly as they threw open the door, revealing long bones stuck across the doorframe like bars of a cage. Unlike the bars he set up near the Ruins and in his shed back when monsters were still trapped Underground, a long time ago, the gaps between these bars were narrow, much too small for Frisk to squeeze through.

 

Flowey looked stunned, he knew nothing about how Papyrus had trapped Frisk in their room the night before.

 

Frisk slammed the door shut, turned swiftly, and moved to the window, their footsteps heavy. They violently drew the back the curtains, revealing more bones placed across the window.

 

‘I saw bones across my window and my room door last night too.’ added Frisk, staring hard at Papyrus, who looked down, fidgeting uncomfortably.

 

Flowey turned to Papyrus in disbelief. ‘Papyrus…?’ he began, but wasn’t sure how to continue.

 

‘Why are you keeping me trapped in here? And I can’t even go outside for a walk?’ Frisk questioned furiously, now glaring at Papyrus, ‘Are you afraid I’ll run away and start killing people?’

 

‘FRISK, IT ISN’T THAT, I JUST WANTED TO KEEP US SAFE IN HERE.’

 

‘The Underground is empty , Papyrus! What kind of things could try to break in here!?’

 

‘I WAS SIMPLY SETTING UP SOME EXTRA SAFETY MEASURES-’

 

‘Stop it, we all know you’re lying.’ Frisk shook their head, ‘And I didn’t even think you could lie, until a few days ago, until now. You were always so straightforward and blunt. You even told me you didn’t like to lie, back then in one of your phone calls. Was that a lie as well?’

 

Papyrus could not bring himself to reply or look at Frisk.

 

‘Was...saying that you believed in me, no matter what, a lie too?’

 

Papyrus looked up immediately, horrified, ‘NO! OF COURSE NOT. I ALWAYS BELIEVED IN YOU. I BELIEVE IN EVERYONE. EVERYONE CAN BE GOOD IF THEY TRY.’

 

‘You’re...you’re still lying, aren’t you?’ Frisk sounded hurt, their expression going from furious to disappointed.

 

‘NO, I-’

 

‘Then why did you block off the doors and windows?’

 

There was no reply.

 

‘You’re...afraid I’ll lose control and go back to the surface to kill monsters, aren’t you? You even told the spirit that you believed in them, but you’re still worried they’ll take over. I only want to go for a walk, I’m not even going to leave Snowdin, and you can’t even let me do that!?’

 

Again, no reply.

 

Frisk turned away from Papyrus, hurt and disgusted, their hands balled up in fists. ‘I’m...going to bed.’ they said, and stomped up the stairs back to their room, shutting the door behind them with a bang.

 

Papyrus remained completely motionless for a while, before slowly slumping down onto the couch. He looked miserable, and the strange, hollow expression had returned to his face.

 

There was a long, awkward silence between all of them for a while. Frisk did not make a sound from the room, and Papyrus kept completely still as he slumped into the couch. Flowey shifted around in his flowerpot uneasily.

 

‘You...blocked off the doors and windows...to prevent Frisk from leaving?’ Flowey finally asked.

 

‘Yes, I did.’ replied Papyrus, his voice unusually soft and strained.

 

‘Do you really think they might sneak out to kill everyone?’

 

Papyrus kept silent, looking away from Flowey.

 

‘You know,’ Flowey said in a sickly sweet voice, tilting his head and grinning maliciously, ‘This isn’t something I would expect of you, Papyrus! You always seem so sweet and compliant. You let people do whatever they want. And yet, you trapped all of us down here, without telling us too! Don’t you trust me either? Are you afraid I’ll kill people again too?’

 

‘I do trust you.’ Papyrus lifted an arm slowly to point at the front door, ‘The bars are wide enough for you to go through. If anything happens, I can just slide your flower pot out through the bars, and you can burrow into the ground and flee. Go to the surface quickly if that happens, okay? Don’t look back.’

 

Flowey’s grin vanished. ‘W...what!?’

 

‘Don’t come back here. They might harm you. You have to go back to the surface as fast as you can, and go back to Sans. Tell Sans what happened, but try to keep him from coming down here. I’m...not sure what you should tell Miss Toriel and Mr Dreemur.’

 

Flowey stayed in a stunned silence, barely processing what Papyrus was telling them.

 

‘So it’s only Frisk you don’t trust!?’ he finally asked.

 

‘I do trust them! It’s just that, I am worried the spirit might...’ Papyrus’ voice trailed off, ‘And yet, I told the spirit that I believed in them. I told Frisk so many times I believed in them. But I still have doubts, I still barricaded the doors and windows. I…’ he seemed to be talking to himself now, ‘...do I...really believe in them? If I did, I would trust in them wholey. If I believed that the spirit would change their mind, I would not be so fearful of it taking over Frisk and escaping. I...I...don’t know. I don’t know, Flowey. I do trust Frisk and yet…’ He buried his face in his hands.

 

‘But what about yourself!? Aren’t you going to leave if something bad happens!? ...wait, you can use shortcuts, can’t you?’ Flowey looked a little relieved.

 

‘I can, but,’ Papyrus lifted his head from his hands, ‘I cannot leave Frisk and the spirit here, all alone. They will starve, or hurt themselves. I will have to stay with them and see what I can do.’

 

‘But if the spirit does take over Frisk and they become violent, you’ll be all alone with them! They will kill you, Papyrus. You can’t stay here on your own!’

 

‘I’m...afraid I must, Flowey. If I allow them to roam free, they might find a way to kill everyone. I believe in them, but…’ Papyrus shook his head, and continued, ‘It would be cruel to leave them trapped all alone down here. They would eventually die, all alone. I must try to convince the spirit to change somehow, and I will not leave this place until I do.’

 

‘Then maybe killing them is an option.’ These words slipped out before Flowey could stop himself. He felt horrified at his own words. How could he simply suggest to kill them!? Back then, before the barrier was broken, he would not have thought twice about killing anyone. But now he had grown attached to Frisk, the idea of killing them was unthinkable.

 

‘FLOWEY!? I CAN’T KILL THEM, YOU KNOW I CAN’T DO THAT!’ Papyrus cried out in horror. He looked down, his voice growing soft again, ‘It is not in me to kill anyone, and I can’t bring myself to do it. Besides, it would be no use.’

 

Papyrus had buried his face in his hands again, and stayed motionless in this position.

 

Flowey had backed away during his outburst, but now leaned over to the skeleton. It was sad to see the skeleton in such a miserable, hopeless state, being so conflicted with his own decisions.

 

The flower wrapped one of his vines around Papyrus’ left arm, attempting to comfort him. Papyrus stiffened, and flinched away from the vines. Flowey noticed a look of utter terror in his eye sockets for a split second.

 

However, he relaxed, and allowed the flower to wind the vine around his arm. Flowey tried to be as gentle as possible, and petted Papyrus’ shoulder tenderly.

 

‘It’s not your fault.’ Flowey said, leaning close to him.

 

No response.

 

‘They...did lose control after all. You were just trying to protect yourself, and everyone else. Don’t blame yourself being careful.’

 

Flowey leaned against Papyrus, still petting him. It was a bit awkward, but Papyrus felt grateful for his attempt at comforting him.

 

It wasn’t like Flowey to offer sympathy towards someone. He really was trying his best to be good, despite finding it hard to feel positive emotions without a SOUL.

 

Eventually Papyrus stood up, giving Flowey a grin that seemed a little too forced. ‘PERHAPS WE SHOULD DO A PUZZLE TO TAKE OUR MINDS OFF THIS.’ his voice had gone back to being loud and jovial.

 

Flowey released him from his vines, feeling suspicious over his sudden change in demeanor.

 

‘I BROUGHT A LOT OF PUZZLES ALONG! WE CAN TRY TO SOLVE SOME OF THEM TOGETHER!’ Papyrus had already headed over to a cardbox box he had left in the corner of the room, and began rummaged through it.

 

‘You went from being sad to cheerful way to quickly,’ remarked Flowey, frowning, ‘Are you sure you’re okay?’

 

‘DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME FLOWEY!’ Papyrus was careful not to turn around to face Flowey, ‘I AM ALRIGHT! ALL I NEED IS A PUZZLE. PUZZLES ALWAYS PUT MY MIND AT EASE!’

 

Flowey was a child after all, he couldn’t burden a child with his problems, could he? No, he had to deal with this himself. He must not worry Flowey, and if things went south, he has to make sure Flowey was safe as well. He had to deal with Frisk and the spirit himself, no matter how stressful it was.

 

He brought a few ball puzzles back to the table, beaming at Flowey. The puzzles were the kinds that involved various plastic structures with holes in them, built into a small clear plastic cube. The goal was to get one or more silver ball bearings into the holes by turning and twisting the puzzle. ‘WE CAN SOLVE THESE PUZZLES TOGETHER, FLOWEY! ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS GET THESE BALL BEARINGS INTO THE HOLES! IT IS NOT HARD ONCE YOU LEARN HOW TO DO IT!’

 

Flowey pouted, but gave up questioning Papyrus for now. At least Papyrus seemed happier when he distracted himself with solving puzzles.

 

An hour or so later, Flowey began yawning, and Papyrus immediately announced that it was bedtime. Despite his protests, Papyrus laid out pillows on the couch, and gently placed a blanket over Flowey. He then bade Flowey goodnight and retreated to Sans’ bedroom.

 

There was no noise from Frisk’s room at all during this time. Papyrus hoped this meant that they were asleep.

 

Like the night before, Flowey scowled and moped around for a while, before eventually feeling sleepy under the warm blanket. Once again he stretched out over the couch, laid his ‘head’ on a pillow, and dozed off.

 

However, Papyrus couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned in his sleeping bag for what seemed like hours, worry clouding his mind and preventing him from dozing off. Eventually, he got up and began pacing back and forth in Sans’ room, ignoring how tired he was.


He continued to pace until morning arrived, unable to rest at all.

Chapter Text

Papyrus looked exhausted the next morning.

 

Flowey was sitting on the kitchen countertop. He noted how Papyrus did not rush around the kitchen while cooking breakfast, or cheerfully hum to himself like he did the day before. He also spoke much less, and most of the time there was total silence between them.

 

Breakfast today did not seem as good as the one before. There was oatmeal, of course, and toast. Papyrus somehow had it in his head to bring his toaster all the way here. He was also boiling eggs in a saucepan. An omelette would have been a more delicious option, but he couldn’t cook one with his frying pan destroyed.

 

As Flowey racked his brains to think of something to say to Papyrus, the silence getting a bit too awkward for him, he heard a door open and slam shut above him. Frisk must be up.

 

Has Frisk already forgiven Papyrus and decided to come down for breakfast with them? That was a surprise. They had refused to eat dinner with Papyrus the night before. Maybe a good night’s rest helped to clear their head.

 

‘Good morning, Papyrus and Flowey!’

 

Flowey was startled by Frisk’s shrill voice. They were standing by the kitchen entrance, smiling sweetly with their head tilted slightly.

 

Papyrus turned slightly from the stove, and grinned at them. ‘GOOD MORNING, FRISK. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO HAVE A SEAT. BREAKFAST WILL BE READY IN FIVE MINUTES.’

 

‘Oh, but I am hungry now.’ Frisk walked into the kitchen, and looked over the kitchenware Papyrus had placed on the countertops, ‘Can I not help you with something?’

 

‘NO, DO NOT FRET, THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS BREAKFAST COVERED.’ Papyrus declared. He seemed to cheer up a little and stirred his saucepan of oatmeal with more gusto, ‘TAKE A SEAT ON THE COUCH, I WILL BE DONE SOON.’

 

Frisk seemingly ignored him, and began looking into some of the drawers. What were they doing? Flowey wondered to himself, they seemed rather excited about something…

 

Flowey’s confusion turned to panic when he saw Frisk pull something glinting and metallic from one of the shelves, as a very familiar looking grin spread across their face.

 

‘Papyrus!! LOOK OUT!!’ he shrieked.

 

His warning was just in time. Papyrus turned around, unsuspecting. He barely managed to dodge as Frisk suddenly rushed at him, the knife in their hand raised.

 

‘FRISK!?’ he exclaimed in terror. He then noticed the terrifying expression they had on their face, ‘SPIRIT!?’

 

Frisk (???) giggled, ‘It appears that we have been discovered, Frisk, I should have been more cautious with my movements. Nevertheless, you,’ they pointed their knife at Papyrus and Flowey, ‘WILL die this time. No longer shall you pull your SOUL away from me, this time, I shall fight you, and kill you, just as I have done before!’

 

‘FRISK! YOU MUST TRY TO FIGHT OFF THE SPIRIT’S INFLUENCE! THEY HAVE NO POWER OVER YOU! I BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO OVERCOME THEM!’ Papyrus called out, hoping that Frisk could hear him.

 

Chara simply laughed, ‘Oh, you are an amusing one. I have dreadful news for you, Papyrus, Frisk is on my side. They are supporting every decision and every action I make. All because of you . You lied to them about believing in them, and instead distrusted them so much that you trapped them within this house with your bone attacks! They have decided to join me instead. Is this not correct, Frisk?’

 

Out from their mouth came Frisk’s own voice, sounding faint and hopeless, ‘Yes. What’s the point anymore? They’re going to destroy the world anyway, no matter what I do.’

 

‘FRISK! PLEASE DO NOT SAY THAT! I SHALL FIND A WAY TO-’

 

‘And besides, if you already don’t trust in me now, you will hate me even more if you ever knew what I did in the past. I did horrible things, over and over again. No one will love me anymore if they ever knew. Toriel, Asgore, Sans, Undyne, Alphys...they will all be disgusted and hate me. I can’t be redeemed.’ their voice began to grow as malicious as Chara’s, ‘So, why not give up? I’ve decided to join them in destroying the world. There’s nothing left that I can do.’

 

Papyrus fell into a stunned silence.

 

‘There you go. You have heard it from them personally.’ Chara added smugly, taking a step closer to Papyrus.

 

‘FRISK! Come on!! Who cares about what you’ve done!?’ shouted Flowey, sounding brave despite how utterly terrified he was, ‘Don’t give in to them now!! What about that determination you have!? You can still do something about this! Isn’t that right Papy...rus?’

 

Flowey’s voice trailed off when he turned to look at Papyrus. There was a strange, darkened expression on his face. There was a glint of light in one of his eye sockets, growing brighter by the moment. He was slowly shifting his stance, straightening his back, preparing himself for what was to come next.

 

‘Do not interrupt!’ Chara glared at Flowey, ‘You are a nuisance, I will have to rid you from this world as well, even though you are worthless to us as you do not possess a soul, and cannot supply us with the EXP we need. But you are burden and in our way, so you must be eliminated.’ Flowey felt a little hurt by Chara’s bluntness.

 

‘But, first, we must deal with the current issue at hand.’

 

They rushed at Papyrus again, moving so inhumanly quick that Flowey barely had time to shriek. Papyrus, on the other hand, was ready for them.

 

Their knife was inches away from his neck before they found themselves flung backwards, into the air. It took them a few seconds to realize that they were suspended in midair, unable to move. Papyrus was holding out one hand towards them, and their SOUL was now glowing deep blue.

 

Papyrus lowered his arm, placing the child on the ground in a seated position. They struggled against the blue magic, but could barely even move their limbs. This was far stronger than any blue attack Papyrus had ever used on Frisk. At least one could still jump with that attack, now they could hardly move. Their body felt heavy, as if the gravitational pull on every part of their body had increased.

 

Bones shot up from the ground around where they sat, surrounding them, caging them in. These bones were like nothing they have ever seen. The tips of the bones were sharp and jagged, like bones broken by being smashed by a hammer. Some of the bones looked strange, curving inwards towards them, as if threatening to stab them.

 

Flowey was also taken by surprise. He glanced over at Papyrus, and shuddered.

 

That expression...he had never expected to see such a terrible expression on someone he had always known to be sweet-natured and full of love for everyone.

 

But the dark expression soon vanished. Papyrus gasped, shuddered, and shook his head. He closed his eyes for a few seconds, trying to regain his composure. As he did, the bones around the child shifted to look less malicious and jagged.

 

Whatever had came over him was gone when he opened his eyes. He gazed at Chara sadly, ‘I AM AFRAID I SHALL HAVE TO LOCK YOU IN MY ROOM, SPIRIT AND FRISK. I CAN’T ALLOW YOU TO KILL ME OR FLOWEY, OR ESCAPE BACK TO THE SURFACE TO KILL ANY MONSTER OR HUMAN.’

 

He managed to give them a watery grin, ‘BUT DO NOT WORRY, I SHALL STILL TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOU. I WILL GIVE YOU EXCELLENT MEALS AND ENTERTAINMENT. WE CAN HAVE A FINE TIME CHATTING, GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER BETTER.’

 

‘Release me!’ shouted Chara, still unable to move.

 

‘I APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR DISCOMFORT, SPIRIT, BUT I CANNOT.’

 

‘Let us go!’ came Frisk’s voice, sounding equally frustrated.

 

Papyrus looked pained upon hearing Frisk’s voice. ‘I AM SORRY, BUT SINCE YOU HAVE MADE UP YOUR MIND TO BE VIOLENT, I CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO LEAVE.’

 

The bones surrounding them vanished. Papyrus lifted them up with his blue magic, and carried them out of the kitchen.

 

‘WAIT FOR ME THERE, FLOWEY.’ he called over his shoulder to Flowey as he walked up the stairs, still keeping the child suspended in mid air beside him. They kicked, struggled, and yelled, but nothing they did allowed them to escape from his magic.

 

They were dropped into Papyrus’ room, the room Frisk was staying in. Bones materialized across the doorway, caging them inside the room.

 

Papyrus headed back down the stairs again, ignoring their screams and insults. They attempted to grab the bone bars to shake them, but cried out in pain as the bones still hurt them the same way regular bone attacks did. Flowey watched as he walked back into the kitchen, looking distressed, but still having the right mind to turn off the stove this time. He clearly wasn’t enjoying what he was doing to the child.

 

‘What are we gonna do now?’ asked Flowey, gazing at Papyrus with an unreadable expression, ‘We can’t just leave them in there, and there’s no way they’ll listen to what you’ll say to them.’

 

Papyrus opened the fridge, and pulled out the small box he had carefully placed on the top shelf of the fridge. ‘I HAVE A “SECRET WEAPON” THAT WAS RESERVED FOR EMERGENCIES SUCH AS THIS.’ he said, ‘I CAN ONLY HOPE THAT IT WOULD WORK. WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME WITH ME TO SEE?’

 

Curiosity overtook Flowey. He nodded. Papyrus picked up his flowerpot and held him carefully in one hand, with the box in the other. He headed back upstairs.

 

The child was still yelling, raining insults down so harshly on Papyrus that even Flowey cringed. Papyrus completely ignored them, setting Flowey down on the floor beside him.

 

‘SPIRIT.’ he addressed, holding up the box, ‘IF YOU ARE GOOD AND LISTEN TO ME AS I TALK, I SHALL REWARD YOU WITH THIS.’

 

‘Nothing you can offer us is worth anything!’ shouted Chara, ‘Even your LIFE means utterly nothing to us aside from gaining free EXP! You are worthless and meaningless! Release us immediately, you absolute waste of space!!!’

 

Papyrus silently opened the box, and pulled out a bar of chocolate.

 

Chara froze.

 

Their attention was completely fixated on the chocolate.

 

They started drooling in spite of themself. Chocolate! And one of their favorite brands too! How long has it been since they last had chocolate? Not counting chocolate Frisk ate while they shared a body with them, it must have been hundreds of years.

 

Frisk also found themself completely drawn to the chocolate. They loved chocolate, but was not obsessed with it like Chara. However, it looked even more appealing than usual to them now since they were hungry from having no breakfast.

 

‘GIVE IT TO ME!’ yelled Chara, attempting to reach through the bars to grab it.

 

Papyrus waved the bar of chocolate in front of them, just beyond their reach. ‘I SHALL ONLY OFFER IT TO YOU IF YOU CALM DOWN AND LISTEN TO ME.’

 

Chara groaned, pulling back their arm and glaring at Papyrus, ‘Fine! I shall ignore you the entire time as you speak, but I suppose you will not care and continue blabbing to me. Just hand me that bar of chocolate!’

 

Papyrus pushed the chocolate through the bars. Chara snatched it out of his hand, tore off the wrapper, and began greedily biting and chewing up the chocolate.

 

‘VERY WELL THEN, HAVE A SEAT, MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE.’ Papyrus sat down on the floor next to Flowey, who had been silently gaping the entire time. Chara flopped down onto the floor, still ravenously consuming the chocolate.

 

‘I SUPPOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR ABOUT ANOTHER STORY FROM MY PAST? YOU SEEMED RATHER INTERESTED IN THE LAST ONE I TOLD YOU ABOUT.’

 

‘Mmhh...,mmphh!’ Chara’s mouth was too full for them to reply.

 

‘THEN WE SHALL BEGIN!’

Chapter Text

Snowdin was a small town, with a small population of monsters. Most monsters preferred to live in Hotland or New Home. Because of this, there was only one school for all the monsters children of Snowdin.

A tiny skeleton child with an oversized scarf around his neck, tied into a huge bow behind him so that it would not drag across the floor, was rushing down the corridor, weaving between the crowd of school children.

 

He headed towards the locker room used by the older school children. There, another older skeleton in a rather baggy jacket was shoving a pile of books into his locker messily. The smaller skeleton headed straight for him, stopped behind him and shrieked.

 

‘SANS!’

 

The older skeleton turned, smiling sleepily at his younger brother, ‘sup, papyrus. how was school today?’

 

‘GOOD! I MADE A NICE DRAWING IN ART CLASS TODAY AND I WANTED TO SHOW IT TO YOU.’

 

He held up a sheet of paper. On it were three figures drawn in crayon. One could clearly see that two of the figures were meant to be him and his brother. The third figure was a tall person dressed in black and white. The background was colored dark blue and scattered with stars drawn in yellow.

 

‘WE HAD TO DRAW SOMETHING WE LOVED THE MOST. I LOVE MY FAMILY THE MOST, SO I DREW JUST THAT! I KNOW YOU AND DAD LOVE SPACE STUFF, SO I DREW THAT TOO.’

 

‘daww,’ Sans said, petting Papyrus gently on the head. Papyrus looked delighted. ‘that’s sweet. show it to dad, i’m sure he’ll love it.’

 

‘YES!’ said Papyrus cheerfully, although inwardly he felt rather doubtful since Sans’ scribbly drawing of their family that he drew 5 years still occupied the front of the fridge. While some of the drawings he gave his father were stuck to the side of the fridge, most of them were simply never seen again. But he said nothing about this.

 

Sans yawned, ‘man, classes really make me sleepy. i’m gonna take a nap when i get home.’

 

‘YOU SLEEP TOO MUCH,’ grumbled Papyrus, ‘STOP SLEEPING IN THE DAYTIME. DAYTIME IS NOT FOR SLEEPING. GO TO BED AT NIGHT.’

 

‘i do,’ Sans grinned as he replied, and yawned again, ‘well, we better go home before i fall asleep where i’m standing.’ he picked up his backpack, and took hold of Papyrus’ hand, ‘come on.’

 

-------------------------

 

‘Right, you can stop now.’

 

Chara was scowling at Papyrus, sitting with their legs folded on the floor. Only half of the chocolate bar remained in their hands, and their mouth was stained with chocolate. They had been breaking off tiny pieces of the remaining chocolate and placing it on their tongue, as if to savor the remaining bit of chocolate as much as they could before they finished it.

 

‘DO YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK FROM MY STORY, SPIRIT?’ asked Papyrus. He was still seated on the floor, gazing through the bars at the child.

 

‘Not exactly. It is simply that your story is utterly boring.’ they replied drily, ‘I am not interested in your daily life as a child at all. Do you not have anything exciting occur in your life at all?’

 

‘EXCITING?’ Papyrus gave an aside glance.

 

‘Of course! I do not wish to listen to dull stories. Did you not tell me about a rather exciting event in your life the last time? About how you and your garbage brother were locked in rooms due to your hazardous health? And how you were bullied? Oh! Of course, tell me about one of the times you were bullied.’ a grin spread across their chocolate-covered mouth, ‘That would be interesting.’

 

‘CAN I...TELL YOU ONE THAT HAPPENED IN SNOWDIN INSTEAD OF HOTLAND?’

 

Chara waved their hand at him, ‘Anything, please do proceed before Frisk and I doze off in boredom.’

 

--------------------------------

 

Papyrus was thrown face down onto the snow, getting a mouthful of snow in the process. The young skeleton let out a whine of fear, trying to get up from the ground to flee. Before he could pull himself up, he was given another shove, planting his face into the snow again.

 

‘We saw you sucking up to our teacher and helping him carry books again.’ a harsh, mean voice said, as Papyrus laid still in the snow, not daring to get up again, ‘Have you been ratting us out to him?’

 

‘NO! OF COURSE NOT! I WAS JUST CARRYING HIS BOOKS FOR HIM AND-’

 

‘Shut up!’ came another voice, ‘Stop talking so loudly! You wanna get pummeled again?’

 

No, he really didn’t. It wasn’t pleasant being pinned down and having bullets being flung at him by these bullies.

 

Some of the tougher monster children in this school, especially the older ones, took enjoyment in bullying the weaker children. There weren’t that many bullies in the school as they were usually caught and punished by the school board. However, there were some who slipped under the radar by intimidating the other children into not telling on them. They were the terrors of the school, and all the other children tried their best to avoid them or comply to them.

 

Sans and Papyrus became targets of these bullies due to them being new to the town, and looking so different from the other monsters. There had never been any skeletons in Snowdin before they arrived. The bullies also saw them as weak, possibly due to their small size and because they were light-weight, being made out of bones.

 

They both had learned to avoid these bullies, fleeing or taking an alternate route if they ever encountered them in school or outside. They also learned that the bullies did not dare to target them when they were together.

 

They learned this when they were caught one day. Together, they very easily overpowered and drove off the bullies with a barrage of bone attacks, and intimidation from a certain non-bone attack. Ever since then, they tried their best to stick together while in school and around school, despite them being in different grades.

 

Unfortunately for Papyrus, he was alone today and did not notice the bullies hanging around among the trees near the school, and had ran almost headlong into them while playing around after classes ended.

 

One of the bullies, a minotaur-like monster, came over to the small skeleton, ‘Admit it, kid, you were being a goodie two-shoes to snitch on us.’ she hissed.

 

‘NO. I WASN’T.’

 

‘I told you to stop talking so loudly!’ a monster that resembled a floating fox head growled, ‘Now come on. Be a good boy and admit you’ve been snitching. Then go tell our teacher that you were lying and that we ain’t bullying anyone.’

 

‘I WASN’T SNITCHING.’ whined Papyrus.

 

‘Liar.’ one of the bullies, a dog-monster who was chewing at a dog treat, snarled, ‘Okay, you’re getting pummeled. Come on, on the count to three-’

 

‘Wait!’ exclaimed a shadowy monster, ‘Let’s make em do stuff for us, maybe we can get em to do our homework or steal something!’

 

‘i wouldn’t do that if i were you,’ Papyrus felt a wave of relief, and a little panic, when he heard this familiar voice. Sans had appeared behind the bullies, glaring at them out of darkened sockets, ‘leave my brother alone.’

 

The other monsters did not move at first, glaring at the older skeleton, who was much shorter than any of them. They looked as if they were about to pounce on him and tear him to pieces at any moment. Still he stood his ground, unafraid, summoning a few bone attacks and aiming them at the bullies.

 

Papyrus took this chance to scramble up from the ground and rush over to his brother. He clung to his brother’s arm, standing beside him and staring back at the bullies.

 

‘Get back here ya little-’ began the minotaur.

 

‘No, we better back off,’ said the dog-monster, taking a step back, ‘We can’t take on both of them together, remember?’

 

Despite acting tough, the bullies were rather cowardly in the face of people potentially stronger than them. They backed away from the brothers, and left grumpily. One of them turned back to yell at Sans, ‘We’ll get ya eventually! Ya better watch yer back!’ before hurrying to catch up with the rest of the gang.

 

For the next few days, the brothers tried their best to stay together, avoiding the bullies whenever they could. The bullies, however, finally saw their chance when the brothers were playing in the forest after school.

 

Papyrus had ran ahead through the trees, and leap into a pile of snow with a squeal of excitement. Sans lagged behind, grinning at his brother’s antics. He was not aware of any danger until a bag was thrown over his head, and ropes lassoed around his waist and legs, tying him down. He didn’t even have the time to scream when he found himself being dragged away across the snow rapidly.

 

When the bag was finally taken off his head, he found himself on his back, staring up at the cruel faces of the bullies.

 

‘Told you we’ll get you.’ one of them said, ‘Come on, let’s get this over with.’

 

‘let me go!’ he shouted, struggling against the rope.

 

‘Or what? You gonna cry? Or attack us? You know your attacks don’t do crap to us on your own.’

 

That was true, his attacks only dealt one damage, not at all effective against so many enemies at once. He couldn’t use a shortcut either, being tied down so tightly. He was also not very familiar with that ability yet at that age.

 

The floating fox monster took one end of the rope in their mouth, flew up one of the nearby trees, and tossed the rope over the branch. The others caught that end of the rope as it fell.

 

Sans cringed as he realized what they were about to do, and braced himself. The other monsters gave the rope a tug, and he was lifted up, legs first, by the rope around him. He was now dangling in the air, upside down, from the rope over the tree branch. He felt horrified as he saw how far he was from the ground.

 

The other monsters tied the rope to another tree. ‘Perfect,’ the dog-monster said with a grin, ‘Now let’s scram. You just stay up there for a while, someone’s going to find you eventually, or maybe never. But, you know, this is what you get if you try messing with us.’

 

Before the bullies could leave, a few bone attacks came sailing through the air unexpectedly, striking some of them. They cried out in terror and pain, looking through the trees to see who the attacker was.

 

‘LET MY BROTHER GO!!!’

 

Out from the trees came Papyrus, running straight at the bullies and still firing bone attacks at them. He was screeching in anger, eye sockets gleaming with fury. His attacks were stronger than Sans’, and they hurt .

 

The bullies scattered, mostly out of terror upon seeing Papyrus rushing fearlessly at them. They tried to dodge behind the surrounding trees from tiny enraged skeleton.

 

After a while of trying to duck behind trees, they soon realized that they outnumbered Papyrus, and could easily overpower him on their own. Sans struggled against the ropes as he saw them surrounding Papyrus from all sides, closing in on the younger skeleton.

 

Papyrus, on the other hand, still continued to look fearless and furious. He glared at the bullies one by one, preparing more attacks. Even if he was unable to defeat them all, he was prepared to go down trying.

 

Thankfully, from deeper in the forest came a loud, bone-chilling screech. A large creature came rushing out of the thickets, running at them threateningly. The bullies, being the cowards that they were, screamed in fright and fled.

 

The creature turned out to be a Gyftrot, who had seen everything that happened as they were walking through the woods, hidden in the trees. Seeing the two skeletons in danger, they had come to their aid by scaring off the bullies.

 

‘Goshdarn teenagers, always bullying kids smaller than them,’ they grumbled, trotting over to Papyrus. They towered over him, and he was barely any taller than their legs, ‘You okay, kids?’

 

‘Y...YES,’ said Papyrus, in awe by the sudden appearance of a monster he had never seen before, but has only heard stories of from Snowdin locals, ‘THANK YOU, BIG DEER MONSTER.’

 

‘Name’s Gyftrot, just call me that,’ they said, glancing at Sans who was dangling right beside their head, ‘Here, let me help you down.’

 

They bit through the rope, breaking it, and allowed Sans to grab hold of their tree-like antlers. They then bent down to let Sans climb off.  

 

‘Some of those monsters are always doing that, bossing people around just ‘cause they’ve got some kind of advantage over them,’ they continued to complain, ‘They even pick on people bigger than them, sometimes, as long as their victims don’t fight back. Like us Gyftrots,’ they groaned, ‘They like to stick stuff on us when we’re asleep. Stickers, tinsel, streamers...you name it. Anything that can stay on or get tangled in our antlers, they’ll put on us. It’s been this way for years and years. After those teenagers grew up and have their own lives so they don’t have time to bully us anymore, another batch of teengers will come along and do the same. It’s a neverending cycle of sticky decorations.’

 

‘DO YOU THINK THERE’S SOME WAY TO CHANGE THIS?’ asked Papyrus, feeling sorry for the Gyftrot.

 

‘Change? Well, unless those bullies changed themselves I don’t see how anything will change.’ they replied.

 

‘SO IF THE BULLIES CHANGED THEMSELVES, THEY COULD BE BETTER PEOPLE?’ Papyrus said thoughtfully, ‘DO YOU THINK WE CAN GET THEM TO CHANGE?’

 

‘Eh, people like them are probably too stubborn to change anyway, so I don’t see the point.’ the Gyftrot dismissed his suggestion with a sigh, ‘Anyway, you kids should probably run along home now, before your parents worry or something.’

 

‘that’s fine, our dad doesn’t come back ‘til much later anyway,’ said Sans, taking Papyrus’ hand, ‘thanks for helping us, by the way.’

 

‘Don’t mention it,’ they replied with a nod, ‘And I mean it, don’t mention it to anyone. We Gyftrots like our peace and quiet here in the woods, if you tell anyone, those teenagers might come back and stick stuff on us again. Goodbye.’ With that, they trotted off, disappearing among the trees.

 

The brothers, hand in hand, turned and began to head back to Snowdin in silence.

 

Papyrus thought about his conversation with the Gyftrot for a while, pondering over it. Unless those bullies changed themselves, nothing would change. If he could somehow convince them that they could change themselves for the better, and stop trying to exert their power over everyone else, maybe he could get them to stop bullying.

 

Over the next few days in school, he put his plan into action. In secret, he wrote out several notes on pretty letter paper he bought with his own pocket money, and tried to give it to every one of those bullies. He manages this stealthily by sliding them into their lockers, leaving them in their desks, or placing them in the books he helped teachers to carry.

 

Every one of those notes said the same thing. This was what one of the letters looked like, with any spelling mistakes omitted.

 

HELLO! I KNOW IT IS STRANGE FOR ME TO BE WRITING THIS LETTER TO YOU, SINCE YOU GUYS BULLIED ME AND MY BROTHER SO MUCH AFTER ALL. BUT I JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT NO MATTER WHAT YOU HAVE DONE, I STILL BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN CHANGE. YOU CAN ALWAYS BE A BETTER PERSON, IF YOU WANT TO, IF YOU TRIED. PLEASE TRY YOUR BEST TO BE BETTER PEOPLE. YOU’RE SCARING EVERYONE AND MAKING EVERYONE SAD. IF YOU HELPED PEOPLE INSTEAD OF BULLYING THEM, EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU, AND YOU COULD MAKE MORE FRIENDS, AND IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL SUCCEED IN LIFE! AND BE SURROUNDED BY GREAT FRIENDS!

 

FROM: PAPYRUS

 

It was probably a terrible idea to sign his name on the notes, but he didn’t think about it at that time.

 

Nothing changed much after that. He and Sans still stuck closely together, avoiding the bullies as much as they could, and not daring to go into the woods alone anymore. Whenever he saw any of the bullies in the distance, he watched closely for their reactions. Some of them made mean faces at him, or made rude gestures. Some also outright ignored him, quickly turning away when they noticed he was staring at them.

 

The next week, however, he found that someone had slid a dog-treat into his locker. It was bone-shaped, the same kind the dog-monster from the gang of bullies had in his mouth all the time.

 

A small bone-shaped note was tied to the dog-treat by some thread. On it, in surprisingly neat handwriting, was written,

 

Hey, small skeleton. I thought about the letter you wrote me. And you’re right. I realized that I was always hurting and scaring people. It’s because I want to feel cool and tough. I thought about it for a long time and decided I don’t want that anymore. I realized that I can always try to be a good dog, and knowing that I CAN try made me feel like not hurting anyone anymore. So thanks, I’ll try to be a good dog from now on.

The dog treat’s for you. Don’t worry, it’s not poisoned or spiked or anything, I promise. Your dad’s a doctor or something isn’t he? You can ask him to get it tested or checked or whatever. It’s a new dog treat I just got out of the packet.

 

Doggo.

 

Papyrus smiled as he read and reread the note. Looking up, he saw Doggo peering at him from around the corner of the corridor. He waved at the dog-monster, who only seemed to see him when he moved to wave. Doggo nodded to him, giving a small hint of a smile, and disappeared around the corner.

 

----------------------

 

‘You fabricated all of this!’ Chara exclaimed.

 

‘WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT, SPIRIT?’

 

‘The entire process of you informing douchebags that they can change their ways. Well, I suppose that is realistic for you to do that. But the fact that one of them changed is just unrealistic!’

 

‘BUT DOGGO REALLY DID CHANGE. HE’S PART OF THE ROYAL GUARDS NOW. HE DECIDED TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARDS AFTER GRADUATING FROM SCHOOL, BECAUSE HE WANTED TO USE HIS STRENGTH AND MAGIC TO HELP PEOPLE IN SOME WAY,’ Papyrus explained, ‘AS FOR THE OTHER MONSTERS, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT BECAME OF THEM. THEIR FAMILIES MOVED TO HOTLAND AFTER THEY GRADUATED. I HOPE THEY HAVE FOUND DECENT JOBS THERE.’

 

‘So, that was Doggo? The same canine who owned a sentry station in the woods near Snowdin and cannot see anything that is not moving?’

 

‘YES. THAT’S HIM!’

 

‘Oh.’ Chara paused for a while, ‘But also, the part where you fought the bullies seem pretty unrealistic too. How is it possible that you, of all people, would be willing to fight anyone?’

 

Papyrus laughed, “NYEH HEH HEH! I AM SIMPLY UNWILLING TO KILL ANYONE, BUT I DO NOT MIND FIGHTING, ESPECIALLY AFTER BEING FRIENDS WITH UNDYNE. MOST OF OUR HANG OUTS INCLUDE US FIGHTING, FRIENDLY FIGHTING, I SHOULD SAY. WE SOMEHOW ALMOST ALWAYS END UP SPARRING! AND BESIDES, MY BROTHER WAS IN DANGER, I HAD TO DO SOMETHING. FRISK SHOULD KNOW VERY WELL THAT I CAN FIGHT. I’VE FOUGHT THEM AFTER ALL, BUT TRIED MY BEST NOT TO HURT THEM TOO MUCH’

 

Both Chara and Frisk knew this was true. The child stuck out their tongue at him, not knowing what else to say.

 

Flowey had remained silent throughout the story, leaning in closer and closer to Papyrus out of excitement to listen to the story that he had almost placed his petaled head on the skeleton’s shoulder. Papyrus had told him many things about his childhood in timelines where he befriended Papyrus, but he never went into detail about how much he was bullied in school, and how he tried to change that.

 

‘That was quite interesting, Papyrus, do you have any other stories you want to tell us?’ he asked curiously, tilting his head.

 

‘I DO! HOWEVER, NONE OF US HAVE HAD ANY BREAKFAST, RIGHT?’

 

It was at that moment that the children realized how hungry they were.

 

‘IT’S MUCH CLOSER TO LUNCHTIME NOW. WE CAN HAVE BRUNCH! I USUALLY DO NOT LIKE MIXING MEALS TOGETHER, ALTHOUGH MY BROTHER LOVES TO DO THAT ESPECIALLY ON DAYS WHEN HE ONLY WAKES UP AT NOON. BUT I SUPPOSE I CAN MAKE AN EXCEPTION TODAY. I SHALL GO PREPARE BRUNCH, AND THEN WE MAY CONTINUE.’

 

He got up from the floor, ‘BY THE WAY, SPIRIT, THAT IS THE ONLY CHOCOLATE BAR YOU WILL BE RECEIVING TODAY. TRY NOT TO EAT IT SO QUICKLY SO THAT IT WILL LAST LONGER.’

 

‘WHAT!?’ Chara shrieked.

 

‘I HAVE MORE CHOCOLATE IN HERE.’ said Papyrus, waving the small box in his hand, ‘I SHALL GIVE YOU ONE BAR PER DAY, OR ELSE THE CHOCOLATE WOULD RUN OUT TOO QUICKLY.’

 

Chara stopped breaking off pieces from the chocolate, and sulked. ‘Very well. Do as you must.’

 

‘GOOD. AND FOR NOW, IT’S BRUNCH TIME! AND THEN AFTER THIS WE MAY CONTINUE OUR CHAT, AND I CAN TELL YOU MORE STORIES! SEE, I TOLD YOU THE GREAT PAPYRUS WAS AN EXCELLENT ENTERTAINER!’ Papyrus declared cheerfully.

 

The children couldn’t help but to agree.

Chapter Text

Papyrus held his mittened hand across the speaker of Frisk’s cell phone. Toriel was on the other end of the line, and he did not want her to hear him.

 

‘ARE YOU READY, FLOWEY?’ he whispered, or at least tried to. It was still much softer than his usual tone.

 

‘Of course!’ replied Flowey, full of confidence, ‘This is easy for me! Just watch, you’ll see!’

 

Papyrus removed his hand from the speaker, and held to phone out towards Flowey.

 

Being turned into a soulless flower gave Flowey a variety of new abilities that he did not have as Asriel. This included using seeds, or pellets as he called them, as bullets. He could also store souls within him, due to initially being created as a vessel for souls. One ability he did not expect to come with this body was the ability to mimic voices. He didn’t use it often but he was very, very proud of it, and usually used it as an intimidation tactic.

 

To keep up the deception that everything was alright, he had suggested that he mimicked Frisk’s voice to speak to Toriel. Giving the phone to the now-possessed Frisk was a terrible idea, since they might try to lure Toriel and the other monsters down underground to be killed. This seemed to be the only way to prevent the others on the surface from worrying.

 

Flowey steadied himself. His petaled face began to morph to resemble Frisk’s. Papyrus turned away. he had seen Flowey mimic voices before, and for some reason Flowey had to morph his face to take on a vague appearance of the person he was mimicking.

 

It was an uncanny sight. His face was still white, but he now had human eyes and a human mouth, which moved around mechanically like stiff rubber. This sight creeped out even Papyrus.

 

‘Hi mom!’ said Flowey, in a voice that sounded exactly like Frisk’s.

 

How ironic that he was now calling Toriel “mom”.

 

‘Frisk dear?’ Toriel did not suspect a thing, ‘How have you been doing? Are you still ill? Have you been eating well? Have you been going to bed and waking up on time? Are you cold there? Please remember to bundle up…’

 

Toriel’s motherly concern was bringing back memories of his days as Asriel, when Toriel would fuss over him and Chara.

 

It was a good thing he was soulless and could no longer feel any emotions, he thought, trying to convince himself. However, he was holding back his desire to be with his parents again.

 

‘Yes, mom, I’m doing fine. I’m not so sick anymore.’ he replied, ‘Everything here is going great.’

 

‘I am delighted to hear that, I suppose Papyrus is good as well?’

 

‘He’s wonderful, mom!’ secretly, Flowey thought so too.

 

Toriel asked ‘Frisk’ a few more questions about their condition, which Flowey replied in a perfect imitation of Frisk. Papyrus looked relieved.

 

However, as she was finishing her conversation, she said, unexpectedly, ‘Oh, by the way dear, is that flower monster there with you? There is a…”guest”...here who wishes to speak to them,’ she said the word “guest” in an oddly strained way, ‘Sans has been feeling rather down and refused to leave his house, this “guest” managed to convince him to visit me and drove him here. As much as I did not want to, I invited him in since he came all the way here after all. So, please pass the phone to the flower monster if they are with you.’

 

Flowey gazed up at Papyrus in confusion. The skeleton looked bewildered as well, and simply shrugged in reply. Having no choice, Flowey morphed his face and voice back to his own.

 

‘Howdy.’ he said, after much hesitation.

 

‘Howdy, Flowey, it’s Asgore here. I hope you’re doing well?’

 

Flowey froze, unable to reply.

 

‘I am sorry that I was unable to call you yesterday, I had to attend an emergency meeting dealing with human-monster diplomacy. I take that Papyrus has been caring for you as well? Have you been good to both him and Frisk?’

 

Flowey was still unable to reply, until Papyrus gave him a gentle nudge on his stem.

 

‘Uhh...yes, Mr. Asgore, I’ve been good.’ he almost wanted to call Asgore “dad”.

 

‘I’m glad to hear that. I hope you’ve been taken care of yourself as well. Make sure you eat regular meals and get enough water. I know it’s hard for you to feel any positive emotions since you lack a soul, but I hope that you don’t feel too downcast there. Everything will be alright, child, stay determined.’

 

Flowey was in disbelief. He did not expect to be missed by anyone, not even by Asgore. But yet, Asgore was concerned for him. Asgore was so worried for him that he felt the need to encourage him.

 

He felt something wet rolling down his face from his eyes. Was he...was he crying!?

 

Asgore spoke to him the same way he did when he was still Asriel. He missed those days dearly. He missed his parents so much. Even though Asgore treated him like his own child, it just didn’t feel the same without admitting who he truly was. There was still a distance between them.

 

‘Why do you speak to the flower as if they were your child?’ Toriel’s voice, sounding distant, came through the phone.

 

‘Well,’ Asgore sounded a bit sheepish, ‘Forgive me if I sound thoughtless, as the topic of our children is very sensitive. But, I’ve always taken Flowey as one of my children. I found him the last time I went underground the ensure that everything important from the castle has been moved to the surface. He was all alone, looking sad, in my garden. He disappeared underground when I approached at first, but after I called out for him a few times, he returned. I asked him why was he still down there, why hasn’t he gone to the surface with the rest of the monsters? He told me that he was different from other monsters, he had no soul, and he would not fit in among monsters and humans. Besides, he had nowhere to go, no family or friends. And he felt like he needed to take care of the golden flowers in my garden and in the Ruins.’

 

‘It seemed like he couldn’t let go of something. There was something about those flowers made him want to stay there. I told him that I could take him into my home on the surface, and adopt him. He brightened up a little, but then looked downcast again, saying that I wouldn’t want him after a while. No one wanted him, especially if they ever knew what he had done.’

 

‘Well, I don’t know what he’s done, nor did I care. I couldn’t let someone so young and broken stay alone underground. In the end, I managed to convince him to come with me. I took one of the flowerpots I had in the garden and carefully replanted him into it. He has been staying with me ever since, helping around the house whenever he can.’

 

‘In a way, he reminds me of our Asriel. I know, I’m sorry, that sounds terrible when I put it that way. But the way he acts when he’s grumpy, or embarrassed, the way he smiles sometimes, it reminds me of our Asriel. Sometimes, he even reminds me of our Chara as well. And because of that, it made me even more resolved to take care of him.’

 

Toriel was silent for awhile, ‘I...I see. I suppose...that is fair enough. Frisk has taken to him very well. They are close friends with him, which is pleasant to see.’ she sounded as if she were smiling a little. Toriel smiling at Asgore!? Now that was something rather unexpected.

 

Asgore seemed to suddenly realize that he was still on the phone, ‘Oh, golly, I completely forgot that I was talking to Flowey! I apologize for that. How is the Underground like now, Flowey?’

 

Flowey could not respond at all. He was weeping, tears now running fast and freely down his face. Papyrus seemed a little horrified by this, frantically trying to figure out an excuse to tell Asgore.

 

‘Flowey? Hello?’ came Asgore’s voice.

 

‘AH, YOUR MAJESTY! FLOWEY HAS...GONE TO SLEEP! YES! HE IS VERY TIRED. HE FELL ASLEEP WHEN YOU WERE SPEAKING WITH MISS TORIEL!’ said Papyrus into the phone, a little too quickly.

 

‘Ah, please apologize to him when he wakes up, I should not have rambled on for so long.’ replied Asgore, ‘How have you been, Papyrus? Do you wish to speak to your brother?’

 

‘I AM ALRIGHT, YOUR MAJESTY. AND OF COURSE! I WOULD LOVE TO SPEAK TO THAT BROTHER OF MINE.’ Papyrus sneaked a look at Flowey. The flower was still weeping, stem bend over and petals hiding his face. He was in no condition to talk at the moment. Papyrus decided to leave him alone for a while.

 

His conversation with his brother was surprisingly brief. They simply asked each other if they were taking care of themselves well, and managed to exchange a joke or two. Sans sounded more weary and despondent than usual, but was trying hard to hide it by chuckling as he told terrible puns.

 

Papyrus felt concerned, but also worried that Sans could detect the tiredness in his voice. He tried to mask this by yelling extra loudly at Sans’ puns.

 

After finishing the conversation, he ended the call. He sat still on the couch for a while, staring blankly at the screen of the phone.

 

He wanted to see his brother again, he wanted to be with his brother again. Staying down here with a child that could potentially destroy all of monsterkind and humanity was slowly but surely taking a toll on him, he wished he could-

 

No, he must not feel any negative emotions. He must keep on being positive. He’ll be home soon, everything was going to be okay soon. He’ll see his friends and his brother again.

 

Maybe doing something else would help to distract him. He turned to Flowey, wanting to ask if he was alright.

 

‘D...don’t talk to me!’ Flowey’s voice sounded a little harsher than he intended. He peeked out from between his petals, tears still running down his face, ‘I j...just...sorry Papyrus. B...but just, l...leave me alone, for a w...while. Okay?’

 

Papyrus nodded. He got up, and headed over to the kitchen to prepare dinner. Cooking was always a good distraction.

 

After preparing a meal for himself and Flowey, he set out another meal on a tray and brought it upstairs. He headed to the door of his old room. Balancing the tray on one hand, he knocked on the door.

 

No answer.

 

He opened the door, gently pushing it ajar. The room was in darkness, on the floor he could see a small figure curled up in the sleeping bag. He could hear soft, regular breathing.

 

The child did not sleep much the night before, and was exhausted. What was meant to be an hour-long nap after brunch turned into them dozing for the rest of the day.

 

Papyrus decided not to wake them. He quietly dispelled the bones that barred the door, and placed the tray inside the room. He closed the door and created another set of bone attacks to block the door. He then headed downstairs for his own dinner.

 

Dinner was a little awkward that night. Neither Papyrus nor Flowey had much appetite, and didn’t have much to say to each other. Flowey had calmed down, but refused to explain his reaction from speaking to Asgore earlier. He refused to even acknowledge that it happened. Papyrus found himself at a loss of words as well, often getting lost in his own thoughts instead of chatting.

 

In the end, they cleared away the dishes. Papyrus stored the leftovers in the fridge. They then settled back down on the couch to kill some time. Papyrus gave Flowey a jigsaw puzzle to solve, which was very trying on the flower’s patience. But since he didn’t know what else to do, he stuck to it and managed to get it about three quarters done before he started feeling sleepy.

 

Papyrus sketched as he watched Flowey. He had brought a few sketchpads in his backpack, and sometimes drew during his free time. Drawing always helped him take his mind off things.

 

Bedtime soon arrived. Flowey once again slept downstairs in the living room, snuggling into pillows on the couch with a blanket over his stem. Papyrus tried to sleep upstairs in Sans’ old room, but found that he couldn’t.

 

Talking to the spirit about his past brought about memories. Good memories, and bad memories he had tried to forget. This prevented him from falling asleep.

 

The good memories made him think of his brother, and all his friends. He had formed the best memories with them, especially with Sans. He didn’t want to let any of those memories go. He wanted to keep them safe, keep everyone safe. He must not let them kill anyone, he had to do everything he could to protect everyone.

 

He got up from the sleeping bag, full of resolve. Standing up straight and closing his eyes, he concentrated on forming a shortcut to Waterfall. He had to make sure the spirit could not escape. He had to keep the spirit down here until he managed to stop their murderous tendencies in some way. He had to finish what he started.

 

With a flash from his eye, he vanished from the room.

 

In the next room, the child stirred. They sat up from the sleeping bag, and noticed the food, now unfortunately cold, sitting by the door.

 

Feeling hungry, they headed over to eat. It was a glass of milk, soup, some buttered buns, and a bread pudding of all things. The soup was cold and too salty, so they left it in disgust. The buns were alright, but the bread pudding seemed harder and drier than it should be. They had to take gulps of milk in between mouthfuls.

 

After that, they took out what was left of the chocolate bar and ate that too, while sitting on the floor thinking.

 

Their attention was drawn the the bones over the window. If they disturbed the bones, would Papyrus know? Are monsters able to feel anything if their bullets are disrupted?

 

‘After residing among monsters for many years, I would say that is very unlikely.’ said Chara softly, ‘We can remove them, but we must be wary not to come in contact with them.’

 

The knife they had picked up earlier that day was still in their inventory. They wedged the tip of it under one of the bones, and began to slowly push the knife between the bone and the wooden windowsill. The bone seemed solid despite being a magical attack, and was as hard and as heavy as concrete.

 

After a while, the knife could slide in and out between the bone and the wood easily. They continued by trying to pry away the top of the bone as well.

 

Eventually, the bone attack came loose. It fell off from the window, and clattered onto the floor. They froze, hoping no one had heard it. Hearing no noises from downstairs or the next room, they began working on trying to loosen more bones.

 

Removing one bone already took them a rather long time, it seemed unlikely that they would be able to escape tonight.

 

No matter, the thought of being able to escape and destroy this timeline once and for all filled the two children with determination.

Chapter Text

‘Are you here to tell us more stories about your past?’ Chara asked as Papyrus placed a tray of food and Flowey on the floor, in front of the barred door.

 

‘IF YOU WISH TO HEAR MORE STORIES, I WILL BE HAPPY TO TELL THEM TO YOU, SPIRIT!’ Papyrus said as he sat down. He seemed to wobble a little, prompting Flowey to turn quickly and give him a look of concern.

 

‘I PROBABLY SHOULD SIT DOWN A LITTLE SLOWER.’ he said sheepishly, partially to himself, ‘WHAT STORIES WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR ABOUT, SPIRIT?’

 

He passed some toast through the bones to the child, as well as a butterknife, some jam, and butter. They were once again having brunch together today. The child took the food, and began to spread the jam and butter on the toast.

 

‘Perhaps you would like to tell me more about your friend Undyne?’ Undyne had always interested the child, ever since they had fought her in her Undying form several times. She was one of the rare monsters who dared to stand up against them, and was an actual threat, during the timelines where they killed everyone. They were also very drawn to her hot-blooded, easily excitable attitude.

 

Papyrus brightened up, ‘UNDYNE! EXCELLENT IDEA, SPIRIT! SHE HAS BEEN MY FRIEND FOR THE LONGEST OF TIMES AND SHE IS A VERY GOOD PERSON, ALSO VERY GOOD AT SUPLEXING ME!’

 

‘How did you meet her?’

 

‘WELL, SPIRIT. IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, WHEN I WAS STILL STAYING IN HOTLAND…’

 

-------------------------------

 

The hospital in Hotland was the largest hospital in all of the Underground, and also the newest. It was connected to the science facilities of Hotland, and housed research labs somewhere deep within the building.

 

Scientific research Undergound underwent a sharp increase ever since the Core was successfully built. The scientists, under the leadership of the Royal Scientist, now turned their interest to improving the health of monsters. They also were trying to discover ways to improve on the magical abilities of monsters, perhaps a key to break the barrier was hidden within the SOULs of monsters themselves.

 

One of the patients receiving treatment at the hospital that day was a fish monster in her pre-teen years. She had a hospital room all to herself, but she hated it.

 

She was an active child, preferring to be outdoors rather than indoors. Outdoors was where she could run free. Outdoors was also where she could climb up high rocks in Waterfall and cannonball into the underground rivers. She also happened to hate Hotland. Waterfall was her home, and home was where she could swim or simply relax in the cool underground caverns. She hated the Hotland heat and the complete lack of rivers or lakes in this region.

 

She laid back on the bed, arms folded, bored out of her mind. The left side of her face was bandaged up, and her left eye itched, but she couldn’t scratch at it without ruining the bandage.

 

Stupid eye, she thought to herself, stupid bandage, stupid hospital, why can’t they just let me share a room with someone!? This would be much less boring if only I could talk to someone!

 

Almost as if on cue, the door of her room creaked open. She looked up, expecting one of the doctors who often came to take her vitals, or a nurse bringing her food and water. Instead, she was surprised to see a small white skeletal face, with a shy grin, peeking around the door.

 

‘Hey!’ she exclaimed in surprise.

 

The face’s expression brightened up upon being acknowledged. The door was pushed open further and the stranger entered the room. Undyne had never seen a skeleton monster in all her life, due to the rarity of this species, and was bewildered by this monster’s appearance.

 

She gazed at the newcomer as he approached her bed. He was short and small, very likely a child monster. He had eye sockets instead of eyes, and his left eye appeared to be bandaged up like her own. There was a neck brace around his bony neck, and underneath the neck brace there seemed to be a bright red collar. He was dressed in a child-sized hospital gown.

 

He walked right up to her bed and gazed at her curiously, ‘HELLO, I AM PAPYRUS! PAPYRUS THE SKELETON. I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND!’

 

For a moment she was taken aback by his bluntness and how loud his voice was. But she couldn’t help liking this child’s friendliness.

 

‘Hey, it’s nice to meet you, Papyrus!’ she said as she grinned, showing off her razor-sharp teeth, ‘I’m Undyne, Undyne the fish, I guess. What’s up with you?’

 

Papyrus tilted his head curiously.

 

‘I mean, what are you in for? Okay, that sounded bad. I meant why are you here at the hospital? Are you injured?’

 

‘OH!’ the skeleton shook his head, giving a little bounce as he did. He seemed to be full of energy at all times. ‘OH NO, FRIEND UNDYNE. I AM NOT INJURED. I GOT A NEW BODY!’

 

‘That’s nice...wait, WHAT!?’

 

Papyrus pointed at his neck brace, ‘MY HEAD IS STILL THE SAME BUT I GOT A NEW BODY!’

 

Undyne stared at him in confusion, trying to process what exactly was he trying to say, ‘I’m guessing that you got injured somehow and they had to replace your entire body, kind of like those transplant things some people get?’ she finally asked. She had no idea how transplants worked, neither did she know anything about skeleton anatomy.

 

Papyrus tilted his head again, ‘SORT OF.’ he didn’t know exactly how to explain his condition, ‘WHAT ABOUT YOU?’

 

‘Me? The doctors are keeping me here so they can check on me. They’re making me stay here, and I hate it.’

 

‘WHY DO YOU HATE IT?’

 

‘Because I wanna go outside! It’s not fun being made to stay indoors all the time! And besides, I want to talk to people! I mean, Alphys does come around sometimes to talk to me, but that’s about it. The doctors never stay to chat with me. They’re always so cold and unfriendly.’

 

‘WHO’S ALPHYS?’

 

‘Oh!’ Undyne’s cheeks grew a little warm, ‘She’s a friend, a very good friend. I met her a year ago at the trash dump in Waterfall. She looked really down, and was staring into one of those really deep waterfalls we have there. I talked to her to cheer her up, and we ended up becoming friends! She’s one of the junior trainee scientists here in Hotland, and she’s being trained to become a scientist one day. I’m not surprised, she’s a genius! A real wiz at anything sciency! I’m really glad I got to know her!’

 

Papyrus climbed onto the bed, and sat down on the edge of it. ‘SHE SOUNDS REAL NICE! I CAN BE YOUR FRIEND TOO! I CAN COME TO TALK TO YOU WHENEVER YOU WANT!’

 

‘That sounds great!’ Undyne beamed, she did enjoy talking to this small skeleton monster, ‘And hey, what’s up with your eye? It’s bandaged up the same way as mine.’ she remarked, ‘Did you get the injection too?’

 

‘INJECTION?’

 

‘Yeah! Okay so, Alphys has this project for her junior trainee scientists thing where she gets to work with actual scientists! Isn’t that cool? But yeah, those scientists are working on a project where they’re using some kind of liquid that can make monsters stronger! I’m not sure how it works. Alphys explained her theories of it to me, but I can’t really understand anything sciency. Still, if it makes us stronger, I’m all for it! My dream is to become part of the Royal Guards, so I gotta get as strong as possible to be the best Royal Guard ever!’

 

‘Anyway, she told me that she felt that the team was working too slow and decided to find someone to test the liquid on. I volunteered when she told me about this. Anything that can make me stronger can’t be bad right? So she gave me an injection with it. It looked like glowing red goop, very weird.’

 

‘The rest of the scientists were kinda mad that she did it without their permission, but then they began to ask me to do all kinds of weird tests. It’s kind of like P.E. in school, but more brutal. I could do it with ease! Everything like jumping and lifting and running became so easy for me ever since I got the injection! But then something happened, I can’t remember what because everything became fuzzy. I woke up with this bandage over my eye, and now they’re making me stay here at the hospital.’

 

Papyrus’ eyes had been becoming wider and wider as Undyne explained her condition. He gave a loud gasp when she told him about waking up with the bandage.

 

‘BUT ARE YOU OKAY? DID IT HURT YOU?’

 

‘Wha-? No, no it didn’t hurt at all!’ she smiled at him reassuringly, ‘Don’t worry about me! I’m fine. It’s sometimes kind of itchy under the bandage, but I’m fine. I just don’t like being stuck here.’

 

Papyrus pulled himself off the bed. He took Undyne’s hand and gave it a gentle tug, ‘THEN LET’S GO! LET’S GO OUTSIDE TO PLAY!’

 

‘Sneaking outside, when I’m not supposed to?’ Undyne looked delighted. She threw off her blanket, laughing as she did, ‘I like you, punk! You’re a rebel, so you’re cool to me. Let’s go!’

 

They were just about to head to the door when there was a knock. They both froze in their tracks. Before they could react, the door was pushed open by another skeleton. He was clearly older than Papyrus, being a bit taller than him and more heavy-set. He too wore a hospital gown, and had a bandage over his eye, but on his right eye instead of the left.

 

‘hey, sorry to disturb you, but have you seen a small skel-’

 

Behind this skeleton, a high-pitched, frantic voice was saying, ‘N...no! Please d...don’t disturb her! H...he’s probably not in that room, S...Sans! L...leave Undyne’s room alone! The d...doctors might get m...mad again!’

 

‘BROTHER!’ Papyrus gave a yelp of joy. He released Undyne’s hand and practically threw himself onto Sans, hugging his older brother for dear life.

 

Behind Sans was a lizard monster in her pre-teens, wearing a pair of oversized glasses and clasping her hands together nervously. She gave a horrified gasp when she saw Undyne standing by the door.

 

‘U...Undyne! No! G...go back to bed! The d...doctors would be so angry to see you up again.’

 

She desperately tried to push Undyne back to the bed. Undyne resisted for a while, but finally allowed herself to be shoved back to bed, and have Alphys pull the blanket over her.

 

‘Oh come on, Alphys! Just let me spend an hour outside this room? I won’t let anyone see me, promise!’

 

‘C...can’t do that, Undyne! T...they said that you’re not well enough yet t...to leave. You have to stay in bed.’ she clasped her hands together again, fidgeting, ‘I...I feel really bad about this, I’m sorry for giving you the i...injection. If I hadn’t, t...this wouldn’t have happened.’

 

‘Aw, don’t feel bad! It feels good! It makes me feel stronger and makes me feel like I can do anything as long as I set my mind to it! For example, right now I wanna get out of bed and go for a run!’

 

She attempted to get out of bed again, only to be pinned down by Alphys with a shriek.

 

At the same time, Sans was also giving Papyrus a mini-lecture.

 

‘i told you that you need to stay in bed, papyrus! you’re still recovering and you might get hurt if you run around too much. you have to rest.’

 

‘I DON’T WANNA!’ whined Papyrus, wrapping his arms around Sans’ waist and staring up at him indignantly, ‘I WANNA PLAY!’

 

‘you can play when you’re better, okay? now come on. i shouldn’t be out of the room as well, but i had to look for you.’

 

Papyrus whimpered. ‘I WANT TO PLAY WITH MY NEW FRIEND UNDYNE! PLEASE LET ME PLAY WITH HER FOR A WHILE! WE WON’T GO OUTSIDE. WE’LL JUST STAY IN HERE AND TALK.’

 

‘Yeah! That’s a great idea!’ Undyne piped up, ‘No one needs to know! It’ll be our little secret. You can sneak in here, and we can talk or do something together. Then you just have to sneak out again! It’s perfect!’ she cared nothing for the repercussions of being caught. As far as she was concerned, she was not afraid of the doctors at all, no matter how stern they were.

 

Papyrus was bouncing up and down in excitement. Sans quickly took a firm hold of him, while glancing at his neck brace nervously.

 

‘YES YES! I CAN COME AND PLAY WITH YOU!’ Papyrus had more reason to fear the doctors. But at the moment, he was too excited to think about it. He finally made a new friend! He finally got to talk to someone, besides his brother, who wasn’t one of those scientists or doctors! He was going to cherish this friendship forever.

 

Sans and Alphys glanced at each other. Alphys looked terrified, but Sans shook his head sadly.

 

‘i can’t deny my brother from having some fun, he’s been cooped up in that room ever since the operation after all.’ he said with a sigh, ‘besides, look at that face. how can i say no to a face like that?’

 

Papyrus, right on cue, turned to look at Alphys with large, shining eye sockets, giving the best puppy-dog eyes impression he could despite only having eye sockets. Alphys couldn’t help herself from smiling. He looked adorable.

 

‘W...well, maybe if we’re really, really careful not to get caught.’ she finally said, giving in, ‘I...I would love to be able to visit U...Undyne more often too. And it was n...nice chatting with you, S...Sans.’

 

‘You two know each other?’ asked Undyne, staring at the Sans curiously.

 

‘YEAH! I DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD FRIENDS, SANS!’ exclaimed Papyrus, a little too bluntly, which made Sans look a little embarrassed.

 

‘we...kinda just met,’ explained Sans, ‘i was looking for you and saw alphys wandering around the halls. al mentioned that she was one of the junior trainee scientists. i found that pretty cool so we began talking about what she was studying and the project she was part of.’

 

‘Y...yeah, most other kids l...laugh at me for being a trainee s...scientist. They like to c...call me a nerd. It’s r...real nice to meet someone s...so interested in science too.’ Alphys flushed bright red as she spoke.

 

‘I’m guessing you wanna be a scientist when you grow up, like Al?’ asked Undyne.

 

‘OH OH!’ Papyrus piped up, ‘SANS IS REAL SMART! HE’LL BE A GREAT SCIENTIST!’

 

Sans grinned at his brother, and gave Papyrus, who was still clinging to him, a pat on the head. Papyrus responded by nuzzling into Sans’ clothes. ‘i guess it’s something i’m pretty interested in. i would love to be able to join the junior trainee scientists. what about you?’

 

‘I’m gonna join the Royal Guard when I’m older!’ Undyne yelled, bringing her fist down onto the table beside her bed and making Alphys jump, ‘I’m gonna begin my training soon in fact! There’s a cool old guy called Gerson who opens a shop near my house. They say that he’s a former captain who is so old that he fought in the war! He once told me that if I was good he would train me when I got older! Imagine that! Maybe one day I might even be captain as well!’

 

‘DO THE ROYAL GUARDS HELP PEOPLE?’ asked Papyrus, releasing his brother and coming over to Undyne’s side.

 

‘Of course they do! They keep everyone safe and make sure the Underground is peaceful! If you’re part of them, you’re a hero! You might even get to fight a human, even though I don’t know what those are, but I know they’re our enemies because they hurt monsters, so I’m all for that!’

 

‘DO...YOU THINK I CAN JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD ONE DAY?’ asked the tiny skeleton.

 

Undyne nodded with a grin. ‘You’re a squirt, but you seem nice. So as long as you grow up to be big, tall, and strong, I’m pretty sure you CAN join the Royal Guards. You just have to be determined enough to train for it!’

 

Papyrus pressed his tiny hands into the side of the bed, eye socket shining, ‘I WILL! I PROMISE I WILL GROW BIG, TALL, AND STRONG. THEN I WILL BE ABLE TO HELP PEOPLE AND BE A HERO!’

 

‘Now THAT’S the Royal Guard spirit! At least, I think so! If you keep that up, we can be in the Royal Guard together! It’ll be so much fun!!’’

Chapter Text

‘UNDYNE!’

 

Undyne barely stirred, her head still buried under her thick blankets.

 

There was a tapping noise on her window. She shifted her position in bed with a groan, burying her face into her pillow, and dozed off again.

 

UNDYNE!!!

 

This time, the yell came from inside her own bedroom. She woke up immediately, yelling, and fell off her bed. At the same time, several large blue spears materialized and pointed directly at the source of the voice.

 

She leapt up from the floor, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, and prepared herself to fight whoever it was that had broken into her room.

 

‘PAPYRUS!’ she shouted indignantly.

 

The skeleton, now much older, was gazing at the spears in utter terror. He gave Undyne a watery grin. She had also unwittingly turned his SOUL bright green, so he could not move out of the way.

 

‘What is the meaning of coming into my room in THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!?’ Undyne continued to yell, ‘IT’S 3AM!!! And besides, how did you even get in here!? My window and doors are locked!’

 

Papyrus still continued to stare at the spears in fright. Undyne finally noticed this, and made them vanish with a snap of her fingers. ‘What are you doing here!?’ she asked.

 

Papyrus’ fear melted away, and he beamed at her happily. ‘I WISH TO BECOME PART OF THE ROYAL GUARD! I WANT TO TRAIN UNDER YOU!’

 

‘What!? You came into my room at 3 AM for THIS!!?’ Undyne exclaimed as she brushed some of her messy red fin-hair away from her face, being careful to avoid disturbing her eyepatch, ‘Papyrus, the recruitment interviews were two months ago! It already ended!’

 

‘CAN WE NOT HAVE A PERSONAL INTERVIEW SESSION?’

 

‘If you want to join the Royal Guard, go to the recruitment interviews next year! I’m sure I can arrange something for you then!’

 

‘BUT I WISH TO JOIN RIGHT NOW! ALSO, CAN MY BROTHER SANS BE A SENTRY? OR ANY OTHER POSITIONS THAT MAY BE AVAILABLE FOR SOMEONE WHO WISHES TO SIT AT THE SAME SPOT ALL DAY?’

 

Undyne groaned, closing her eyes and rubbing a finger on her temple. She wanted to go back to sleep, and being awake so late was making her grumpy.

 

‘Just, get out, okay?’ she replied, a little more rudely than she intended, ‘Get out of my room, and go home! Go back to bed, and come back next year, okay!?’

 

She walked over to her bedroom door, and threw it open. ‘GET OUT!’

 

Papyrus looked a little hurt, but he still manage to give her a cheerful smile, and strode out of the room. He did not seem sleepy at all despite it being so late at night.

 

Undyne slammed her door shut, but then remembered that her front door was locked and Papyrus wouldn’t have been able to leave. With another groan, she opened her bedroom door again.

 

Her living room and kitchen were empty. No skeleton to be seen. Papyrus must have gotten out somehow despite the doors and windows being locked.

 

‘Weirdo.’ she mumbled to herself. She shut and locked her bedroom door, before leaping back into bed and dozing off again.

 

The next morning, she opened her front door and found Papyrus waiting for her. He was seated directly in front of her door, gazing up at the door with shining eyes, looking like an excited puppy waiting for his owner.

 

She backed away from the door, not expecting to see Papyrus’ pale skeletal face and empty eye sockets staring at her. He simply gave her another beaming smile that looked a bit too innocent.

 

‘GOOD MORNING!’

 

Undyne glared, feeling annoyed once again. ‘Have you been sitting there all night!?’

 

He nodded.

 

‘You really want to join the Royal Guards, don’t you?’

 

He nodded again, his smile growing brighter.

 

‘And your brother, you want me to give him a sentry job?’

 

‘YES!’

 

She sighed, folding her arms and leaning against the door.

 

‘Don’t you both have a job? Weren’t you both working as-’

 

She paused. Wait, what were the skeleton brothers working as before this? She swore they both had a job somewhere. She felt like she would have remembered since she had known them since their childhood. But yet nothing came to mind.

 

Her memory hasn’t been doing too well since that Core incident two weeks ago. As the Captain of the Royal Guard, she had led the evacuation process of Hotland during the incident. But ever since then she felt like she had been forgetting bits and pieces of anything that happened before that.

 

Papyrus just shook his head. ‘SANS IS DOING NOTHING AT HOME AT THE MOMENT, HE KEEPS LAZING AROUND AND SLEEPING. AND I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOCIETY! REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER, I WANTED TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD? WELL, I HAVE DECIDED TO PURSUE THAT DREAM. SO PLEASE LET ME JOIN!’

 

‘AS FOR SANS, I DO NOT LIKE SEEING HIM LAYING ON THE COUCH ALL DAY, MOPING. HE MENTIONED THAT HE WANTED TO WORK AS A COMEDIAN IN HOTLAND, BUT I THINK HOTLAND IS A TERRIBLE PLACE AND DO NOT WISH FOR HIM TO GO THERE ANYMORE. SO PLEASE, GIVE HIM A JOB AS WELL!’

 

Undyne hesitated for a moment, before removing herself from the door and gesturing towards the table in her living room, ‘Get inside. Let me think about this.’

 

Papyrus stood up, beamed at her, and dashed towards the table. He took a seat, while Undyne closed the door, and headed towards him. She positioned herself opposite of him, pressing her hands on the table.

 

‘Listen,’ she said, in a much softer and more stern voice, ‘I really shouldn’t be letting people join outside of the recruitment interviews. Protocol stuff, you know. But, don’t tell anyone, we really need more people in the Royal Guards. For some reason not many people are joining, and many of the older guards either retired, or just straight up disappeared. There used to be more Canine guards around, but they all vanished suddenly and no one knows where they went.’

 

‘I need more recruits. You’re so enthusiastic and determined to join that you actually broke into my house somehow, and waited for me until today morning. That’s just the kind of quality we need in the Royal Guards.’ she continued

 

Papyrus nodded, ‘AM I ALLOWED TO JOIN THEN?’

 

‘One on condition, only if you can handle all my training sessions and pass the tests! Your brother just needs to be able to handle sitting at the same sentry station all the time, and send in reports every week. YOU, on the other hand, have several very gruelling and tough training sessions to go through. Can you handle it?’

 

Papyrus leapt up from his seat, giving Undyne a salute, ‘YES! I AM COMPLETELY WILLING TO ENDURE WHATEVER YOU THROW AT ME, CAPTAIN UNDYNE!!’

 

‘THAT’S what I like to see.’ Undyne’s voice went back to her loud, excited yell, as she grinned at the skeleton and slapped her fist into her palm. ‘Now, training sessions begin tomorrow! So come here on the dot at 8am, think you make it?’

 

‘I SHALL BE HERE AT 7:59AM ON THE DOT, CAPTAIN! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!’

 

‘GOOD! I can’t wait to welcome you into the Royal Guard!’ she slammed her fist into the table, breaking it in half. Papyrus backed away just in time, knocking his chair over and ending up on the floor.

 

‘Ignore that! I needed a new table anyway!’ Undyne stepped around the table to help him up.

 

‘YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED IN ME, CAPTAIN UNDYNE! I, PAPYRUS, WILL NOW RETURN HOME AND PREPARE FOR TOMORROW MORNING!’

 

***

 

True to his word, Papyrus arrived at exactly 7:59am the next morning, and continued to do so for every training session. He never missed a single training session, carried out three times a week.

 

A few months passed, Undyne continued to work hard training Papyrus, while carrying out her duties as the Captain diligently. However, despite being very impressed by how fast he picked up skills, she wasn’t quite confident to let him into the Royal Guards yet.

 

‘We’ve gone over this, Papyrus,’ Undyne told him one day, as patiently as she could, ‘You do know how to use your magic to check someone’s HP right?’

 

‘OF COURSE I DO!’ replied Papyrus, proudly demonstrating this ability on the dummy he was practicing his attacks on.

 

‘Good. But you also DO know that to defeat a human, you have to reduce their HP to zero right?!’ Undyne raised her voice ever so slightly, clearly annoyed.

 

‘OF...OF COURSE.’ Papyrus began to look a little nervous.

 

The HP counter on the dummy showed 1, a tiny sliver of life still remained in it.

 

Undyne sighed, ‘I mean, I guess being able to stop at 1 HP every time you fight a dummy is impressive, but it’s not enough. The Royal Guards will be first in line if any human decides to invade us, we have to make sure we can destroy them to prevent them from hurting civilians and Asgore.’

 

‘YES, MA’AM.’ Papyrus couldn’t look Undyne straight in the eye.

 

‘Is it because you’re worried you’ll be killing an actual monster? The soul of these dummies are just simulated, you’re not actually killing anything. I mean sometimes some ghost monsters possess the dummies, but they can’t die, because they’re ghosts, and also they’ll leave if you hit the dummies too hard.’

 

‘IT...IT ISN’T THAT…’ a few beads of what looked like sweat dripped down Papyrus’ skull.

 

‘Then what IS it?’ Undyne caught herself before she began yelling at him. Calming herself, she walked over and placed a hand on Papyrus’ shoulder.

 

‘I learned, and I’m pretty sure you learned too, that our magic is connected to our emotions. Sometimes a monster’s emotions can cause a sort of blockage on their magic, preventing them from using it properly. Anything kind of emotional pain, or trauma, or a suppressed memory, can cause this to happen. If there’s anything wrong, anything holding you back, you can just talk to me, okay? I’ll listen, and I won’t tell anyone. Or if you’re not that comfortable with me, you can talk to your brother. It helps to talk ya know? At least that’s what Alphys tells me.’

 

Papyrus was taken aback by Undyne’s sudden seriousness. He looked away, his permanent grin still plastered on his face, now looking rather strained.

‘Or maybe you’re intentionally holding back?’ asked Undyne, ‘I also learned that in some cases, emotions can cause a monster’s magic to go out of control, and the monster needs to hold back as much as they can to prevent losing control, which prevents them from using their magic well.’

 

‘PERHAPS I REQUIRE MORE PRACTICE.’ he suggested quickly while trying to shift away from Undyne’s hand, getting uncomfortable with the topic. However, despite Undyne trying to be gentle with him, her hand held onto his shoulder with a vice-like grip that he couldn’t escape from.

 

‘Practice alone isn’t going to help.’ Undyne replied, not realizing how uncomfortable Papyrus was getting, ‘You need to-’

 

‘Undyne!!!’ she was interrupted by a high, flutey voice.

 

A small angler fish-like monster was gliding quickly towards them, squeaking ‘Undyne!!!’ over and over. She stopped in front of Undyne, panting, her hair falling all over her face.

 

‘What’s wrong, Meiren?’ Undyne asked her.

 

‘My sister! And some of our friends! We were playing dodgeball with our bullets when a rockslide happened! T...they all got trapped!!! Please! Please help them! You can lift up those rocks and save them right?’

 

‘Of course! The Royal Guards are always ready to help!’ Undyne replied, doing her best impress of a pose she had seen in an anime from Alphys’ collection. ‘Come on Papyrus! I’ll need some help from you.’

 

Both of them followed behind Meiren, and soon arrived at a cliff face that separated Waterfall from Hotland. A part of the cliff had caved in, blocked off by rubble from the rockslide.

 

Meiren floated up to the rubble, and pressed her face close to it. ‘Shyren!!!’ she called out, ‘Can you hear me!? I got Captain Undyne here!!! She’s gonna get you all out of there!’

 

A tiny, squeaky voice replied, but it was too muffled for them to hear what it was saying.

 

‘Okay, Papyrus, let’s get to work rescuing them!’ Undyne commanded, effortlessly lifting a large piece of rubble and suplexing it away.

 

Papyrus obeyed, scraping at the rubble and moving the rocks as fast as he could. He was strong, but nowhere near as strong as Undyne, who threw chunks of rocks larger than herself out of the way with no struggle.

 

That is, until they came upon a chunk of rubble bigger than the both of them. The rubble appeared to be mostly made of metal, possibly an old piece of a building from Hotland that came crashing down into Waterfall during the rockslide. Both the fish and skeleton tried to lift it out of the way together, but it wouldn’t even budge.

 

Undyne attempted punching through it. But even though she made several sizable dents on it, it appeared to be too thick for even her to punch through. She groaned, kicking the rubble in frustration. She did not dare to use her spear bullets to break it in fear or accidentally injuring the monsters behind it.

 

‘Papyrus, stay here with them!’ she commanded, ‘I’ll go get some of the Doggi Royal Guards, all of us working together should be able to get this of the way, or at least break through it.’

 

Without waiting for a response, she rushed off to the direction of Snowdin, leaping across streams and chasms as her way of shortcuts.

 

Papyrus gazed at the piece of metal thoughtfully, if Undyne was not able to break through it, he wouldn’t be able to. Unless…

 

‘MEIREN.’ he said, turning to Shyren’s sister, who had been staring at them anxiously, ‘I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM ABOUT TO ATTEMPT SOMETHING THAT MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP YOUR SISTER AND FRIENDS. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST THAT YOU TURN AWAY, AND ALSO MOVE AWAY A LITTLE, AS IT MIGHT GET VERY...EXPLOSIVE.’

 

‘Do I...have to turn away?’ she asked.

 

‘YES, IT MIGHT...HURT YOUR EYES.’ replied Papyrus, in truth, he did not want her to see him using any abilities he had tried to keep hidden for years.

 

She nodded, and turned away, covering her eyes with her fins.

 

Papyrus, focusing all his concentration, quickly created a shortcut and entered the small space behind the rocks where the monsters were trapped. They were very startled by his sudden appearance.

 

‘PLEASE REMAIN CALM!’ his voiced boomed above their yells, effectively silencing them, ‘I AM PAPYRUS, A ROYAL GUARD IN TRAINING! THE ROYAL GUARD IS HERE TO HELP!’

 

The other monsters, in their panic, did not even question how he suddenly appeared with them. Shyren drifted up to him and squeaked in a terrified, panicked voice.

 

‘Can...can you really get us out? Please hurry, my sister must be so worried and everyone’s getting stir crazy in here! Woshua can’t stop cleaning himself and everyone around him, and Aaron keeps flexing!’

 

‘nOOO, mUSCLES R...R GROSS!’ cried a Temmie who was trapped with them, horrified at Aaron’s constant flexing, ‘tEM FAINT NOW!’ she rolled over on the floor, legs in the air.

 

‘DO NOT FEAR! FOR HELP IS HERE!’ declared Papyrus, ‘I SHALL ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE BLOCKAGE THAT IS TRAPPING YOU IN HERE! FIRST OF ALL, I WOULD REQUEST OF ALL OF YOU TO STAND BACK, AND ALSO COVER YOUR EYES, TURN AWAY IF NEEDED! THIS MIGHT TAKE A LITTLE WHILE!’

 

The other monsters were so anxious to escape that they happily obliged without further question. Papyrus turned to face the rubble that blocked the way.

 

At that moment, Undyne was rushing back towards the scene. Behind her were the Doggi, barking in excitement and most of them running on all fours.

She was about to reach the rubble when a beam of energy shot out from behind the chunk of metal, sending it flying. At the same time, there was an ear shattering explosion, followed by a strong blast that made Undyne stop to shield her face.

 

Dust from the rubble and smoke from the explosion clouded the view for a while. As it cleared, Undyne saw Papyrus looking out from a hole the blast had created, behind him, cowering in fear and shock from the explosion, were the trapped monsters, all safe and sound.

 

Undyne froze in stunned shock for a moment, before quickly regaining her composure. She ran up to Papyrus, who gave her a surprised look, not expecting her to arrive back so soon.

 

‘Are you okay?’ she asked, barely waiting for Papyrus to give her a feeble nod. She turned and ordered the Doggi to take the other monsters back to their own homes.

 

The Doggi had their ears pricked and their heads tilted, curious at how the explosion had happened. But they eagerly obeyed Undyne without further question, and soon were leading the trapped monsters, as well as Meiren, back to their respective houses.

 

Undyne stayed behind with Papyrus. There was an awkward moment between them, Papyrus not wanting to look straight at Undyne, seemingly embarrassed about the explosion. Undyne was brimming with curiosity, but was not sure about what to say.

 

‘So,’ she finally said, inwardly cringing at how awkward she sounded, ‘part of your magic includes making a beam that...explodes stuff?’

 

Papyrus remained silent for a few seconds, ‘IT...IT’S JUST A BEAM.’

 

‘You never used that before in any of our training sessions.’

 

‘I...DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT WOULD BE...APPROPRIATE?’

 

‘You know, that beam of yours is pretty strong. You can easily blast a dummy to pieces with it, and very quickly defeat a human.’

 

While that seemed like a valid statement from Undyne, she noticed Papyrus turning away, looking down at the ground. She found it to be a strange reaction to her statement.

 

Maybe she shouldn’t pressure him too much. Perhaps this was a power he didn’t have much control over? And did not want to use it too much? She also wondered if Sans had this ability, since both of them were brothers after all.

 

Nevertheless, such powerful magic would be very useful in the Royal Guard. Despite his inability, or refusal, to destroy even a dummy, Papyrus was surprisingly powerful. Undyne didn’t want to just kick him out of training simply because he couldn’t defeat a dummy.

 

Perhaps more training will get him to feel more comfortable with using this ability. After all, he was very excited to join the Royal Guards, and his enthusiasm is just what she needs as well.

‘Papyrus?’ she began, as the skeleton turned to look at her, expression unreadable, ‘Listen, you really want to be in the Royal Guards right?’

 

‘OH, OF COURSE, UNDYNE, SIR!’

 

‘Well...I was thinking that you just need a bit more training. I mean, you’re already Royal Guard material, but more training will do you good. I’ll be happy to keep training you until I feel that you’re ready to join. How’s that sound?’

 

‘THAT SOUNDS FANTASTICAL, UNDYNE!’ Papyrus’ eye sockets shone in delight, ‘I WILL HAPPILY CONTINUE TO TRAIN UNDER YOU. YOU HAVE MY WORD!’

 

‘GREAT!’ Undyne’s grin returned, ‘So, we shall continue our training for today! You don’t mind training ending a little later today, do you?’

 

‘OF COURSE NOT!’ Papyrus replied as they both headed back to Undyne’s house, ‘AS LONG AS I AM BEING TRAINED BY YOU, I DO NOT MIND HOW LONG IT TAKES!’

Chapter Text

Dinner was simple that night.

 

Papyrus had attempted to make some macaroni and cheese earlier on, but after a while, Flowey saw him throwing it out. He had somehow managed to turn the macaroni and cheese into a rock-hard chunk, with bits of burnt cheese flaking off it, It took him a while to manage to scrap all of it out of the saucepan.

 

Despite managing to improve his cooking skills, Papyrus still wasn’t able to cook a decent pasta dish. It somehow always ended up as a disaster.

 

Papyrus seemed to lose some motivation once the ordeal was over. He simply heated up leftovers from the evening before, and made a bowl of oatmeal for each of them.

 

Flowey didn’t mind, he was starting to like oatmeal. He could see why it was Papyrus’ favorite food.

 

As usual, Papyrus delivered a tray of food to the child upstairs. Finding the child asleep once again, he removed some of the bones from the door and slid the tray into the room. With that done, he made the bones reappear, closed the door, and headed back downstairs.

 

For the rest of the evening, he and Flowey sat in the living room. Flowey was still trying to solve the jigsaw puzzle he was given, so there was barely any conversation between them.

 

Papyrus was drawing in his sketchbook, making deft, quick strokes with his pencil, and turning to the next page to continue sketching after he was satisfied. Now and again, he looked up at Flowey, as if he wanted to speak. But he would change his mind, shake his head, and continue sketching.

 

‘There!!! Done!!!’ exclaimed Flowey after about an hour, grinning in satisfaction at the completed jigsaw puzzle laid out on the floor. ‘Papyrus!’ he turned around, beaming, ‘Look! I did it! I solved your stupid puzzle!!’

 

He saw Papyrus gazing at him, expression a little forlorn and seemingly lost in thought.

 

‘Hey! Aren’t you gonna praise me or something? Papyrus?’ Flowey moved over to Papyrus, waving a vine in front of his face.

 

Papyrus blinked, looked down at the puzzle briefly, and nodded. ‘THAT’S...VERY GOOD, FLOWEY.’

 

Flowey frowned in annoyance, ‘What’s up with you? Come on, I’ve been solving this puzzle since last night! Surely “The Great Papyrus” can show more enthusiasm than that!?’

 

Papyrus put down his sketchbook, looking so solemn that Flowey felt a little afraid. ‘FLOWEY…?’ he began, ‘CAN I ASK YOU SOMETHING?’

 

‘...sure?’ Flowey felt a growing sense of unease at this uncharacteristically serious behavior.

 

‘IT’S...KIND OF AN AWKWARD QUESTION, SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO ANSWER IT, IT’S FINE. IT IS SIMPLY SPECULATIONS ON MY PART, AND PROBABLY NOT VERY SENSITIVE OR PLEASANT AS WELL, SO…’

 

‘Just get on with it.’

 

Papyrus took a deep breath, somehow, even though he had no lungs. He turned to look straight at Flowey, and said, ‘WERE YOU SOMEONE ELSE BEFORE YOU BECAME FLOWEY?’

 

Flowey froze.

 

For a moment he wondered if he had misheard Papyrus.

 

But Papyrus continued, ‘AS IN, WERE YOU A MONSTER OF SOME SORT THAT GOT TURNED INTO A FLOWER?’

 

Flowey felt sick.

 

How.

 

How did he know!???

 

In his fear and confusion, he snapped fiercely at Papyrus, ‘What!? What do you MEAN!??’ His face twisted into a terrifying form.

 

Papyrus continued to stare straight at Flowey, managing to keep his composure despite the disturbing face glaring down at him.

 

‘I REMEMBER LEARNING, BACK WHEN I WAS JUST A BABY BONES, ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO. BACK THEN, MR DREEMUR AND MISS TORIEL WERE STILL TOGETHER. THEY HAD A SON, AND THEY ALSO ADOPTED A HUMAN CHILD. BUT THEN, THE HUMAN CHILD DIED. THEIR SON WAS SO DEVASTATED THAT HE ABSORBED THE HUMAN’S SOUL, AND LEFT THE UNDERGROUND. BUT HE WAS ATTACKED BY HUMANS, SO HE RETURNED BACK UNDERGROUND, AND DIED ON A BED OF GOLDEN FLOWERS.’

 

Flowey winched. He hated being reminded of that incident.

 

‘THE DUST OF THE PRINCE WAS SPREAD OUT OVER THE FLOWERS. AS A BABY BONES, I WAS TOLD THAT THE FLOWERS WERE SACRED BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN THE ESSENCE OF THE PRINCE. I ALWAYS BELIEVED IN THIS, EVEN THOUGH A LOT OF PEOPLE DISMISSED IT AS A FAIRYTALE. MANY YEARS LATER, WHEN I GREW UP, ALL OF THOSE FLOWERS VANISHED ONE DAY.’

 

‘SOME MONSTERS SAY THAT THE FLOWERS WERE BROUGHT TO LIFE BY THE PRINCE’S DUST, AND HAD GAINED SENTIENCE AND MOTILITY. OTHER MONSTERS SAY THAT SOMEONE PICKED THE FLOWERS. THERE WAS A BIT OF UPROAR OVER IT FOR A WHILE, BECAUSE A LOT OF THE OLDER MONSTERS BELIEVED THE FLOWERS TO BE SACRED AND COULD NOT BE PICKED. BUT AFTER A WHILE, PEOPLE FORGOT ABOUT IT.’

 

‘...AND THEN, I MET YOU.’

 

Flowey’s face grew less twisted, but he was still defensive and continued to glare at Papyrus, ‘And what makes you think I had anything to do with that!?’

 

‘THE SPIRIT WAS WHAT MADE ME SUSPECT IT.’ Papyrus explained, ‘YOU TOLD ME THAT THE SPIRIT USED TO BE A HUMAN. ONLY SEVEN HUMANS EVER FELL UNDERGROUND, EIGHT COUNTING FRISK.’

 

‘YOU ALSO TOLD ME THAT THIS SPIRIT IS BODILESS AND SOULLESS. ALL OF THE HUMANS WHO PERISHED UNDERGROUND HAD THEIR SOULS TAKEN BY ASGORE, WHO STORED THEIR SOULS TO BE USED ON THE BARRIER. THEIR BODIES WERE PLACED IN ASGORE’S CASTLE. ALL EXCEPT ONE. THE FIRST HUMAN’S SOUL IS SAID TO HAVE DISAPPEARED AFTER THE PRINCE DIED, AND THEIR BODY WAS TAKEN AWAY BY MISS TORIEL WHEN SHE LEFT MR DREEMUR. IT IS ONLY POSSIBLE THAT THE SPIRIT IS THE FIRST HUMAN.’

 

Flowey gaped.

 

‘YOU SEEM TO KNOW WHO THIS SPIRIT IS, AND ACTED FLUSTERED WHEN I TRIED TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE SPIRIT. WE LEARNED THAT THE PRINCE WAS ALWAYS VERY CLOSE TO THE FIRST HUMAN, AND THEY WERE LIKE SIBLINGS.

 

‘BESIDES, YOU SEEM TO GET...VERY EMOTIONAL AROUND MR DREEMUR AND MISS TORIEL. ESPECIALLY DURING THE PHONE CALL WHEN MR DREEMUR SAID THAT YOU REMINDED HIM OF THE PRINCE. I...MAY BE MISTAKEN ABOUT THIS, I SUPPOSE.’

 

Flowey had been backing away from Papyrus slowly as he spoke. He now sank down into his flower pot, his face hidden beneath his petals. He remained completely silent for a long time.

 

Papyrus kept silent as well, waiting for a response.

 

Finally, Flowey raised his head. He glanced over at Papyrus, looking weary. He shook away little teardrops that had fallen onto his petals.

 

Papyrus gave him an anxious but genuine smile.

 

‘I…’ he began softly, turning his eyes away from Papyrus, ‘I...guess...I guess I can’t really hide it anymore. I can’t come up with anything to deny all of that. Might as well just come clean to you.’

 

Papyrus brightened up, ‘SO, YOU ARE THE LOST PRINCE!?’ he exclaimed in delight.

 

‘Y...yes,’ Flowey replied after some hesitated, ‘But before you go on, tell me. Tell me how you knew. How did you figure all of that out?’

 

‘IT’S KIND OF LIKE A JIGSAW PUZZLE! YOU JUST NEED ALL THE PIECES. AT FIRST, YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE BECAUSE THE PIECES ARE SCATTERED, BUT ONCE YOU START PIECING IT TOGETHER, YOU START SEEING WHAT THE PICTURE ON THE PUZZLE IS!’

 

‘I REMEMBER SOME OF THE MONSTER HISTORY I LEARNED BACK WHEN I WAS A BABY BONES, AND ALSO STUFF YOU TOLD ME. I USED THESE AS CLUES, OR PUZZLE PIECES. I THEN BEGAN TRYING TO PIECE ALL THESE CLUES TOGETHER, AND FINALLY, I BEGAN TO SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE, AS IN THE WHOLE MYSTERY BEHIND YOU AND THE SPIRIT. THE REST WAS JUST GUESS WORK.’

 

Flowey turned to glance at his completed jigsaw puzzle, which showed a picture of a field of flowers under a starry night sky. He felt that Papyrus’ analogy of jigsaw puzzles made a lot of sense.

 

‘I AM TRYING TO RECALL WHAT THE PRINCE’S NAME WAS.’ Papyrus remarked, ‘IT SOUNDED VERY MUCH LIKE MR DREEMUR’S NAME. AS...ASG...’’

 

‘It’s Asriel.’

 

‘ASRIEL!’ exclaimed Papyrus, ‘THAT IS A LOVELY NAME.’

 

‘...well it was my name.’ Flowey responded, turning to look at Papyrus, whose eye sockets were somehow shining, ‘I...don’t want to be called that anymore.’

 

‘WHY NOT?’

 

‘It’s just...not me anymore.’ Flowey shook his head, ‘Asriel was a nice boss monster, he loved everyone and everyone loved him back. He had a family, he had friends. Everyone put their hope in him because he was the prince. But me? No one loves me. I can’t love anyone even if they did. I have no family, I have no friends, and no one believes in me. I’m just too distant from who I used to be. I don’t deserve to be called Asriel anymore.’

 

‘I...I UNDERSTAND.’ Papyrus replied with a nod, ‘SO SHALL I CONTINUE TO CALL YOU FLOWEY?’

 

‘Yeah...Flowey is fine.’ Flowey turned his eyes away from Papyrus, ‘You know, I just don’t understand you. Why do you care so much about me? I’m not good. It’s hard for me to feel positive emotions without a soul, and it’s hard for me to feel love. I’m rude, grumpy, hate most people, and I’m not even a good person to talk to. Why do you even bother with me?’

 

‘BECAUSE I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE CAN BE GOOD IF THEY TRY!’ Papyrus grinned as he did a pose, ‘AND I CAN SEE THAT YOU ARE ALREADY TRYING YOUR BEST TO BE GOOD FLOWEY. MR DREEMUR DOES LIKE HAVING YOU AROUND AFTER ALL, AND FRISK IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH YOU.’

 

‘But I’m NOT good,’ Flowey insisted, his expression growing sad again, ‘I...I did horrible things in the past. I was mean to you, and I even tried to get you to do horrible things! I guess you can’t remember any of that, but if you knew what I did, you’ll hate me. How could anyone forgive me for what I’ve done?’

‘I AM SURE THAT I CAN, FLOWEY.’ replied Papyrus, before falling silent.

 

Something was coming back to him, clawing out from the back of his mind. A memory so faded and hazy that it felt like it happened decades ago, but yet so strong that it could not be more than a year old.

 

‘You’re so cool, Papyrus!’ he could almost vividly remember Flowey saying to him, as he sat in the snow by the river, ‘But golly, you’re so weak! You never stand up for yourself and you’re too nice! Don’t you know that niceness can get you nowhere?’

 

‘Help people? What’s the point of helping people, Papyrus? You’re so silly. Trust me, I’ve tried helping people before, it never works out. No matter how hard you try, all your effort will either go to waste, or people will just take advantage of you.’

 

‘What? Don't you believe me? Aren’t I your best friend? You idiot.’

 

‘Papyrus, I would like to try something different this time.’ the recollection was growing more clear, more painful, ‘Oh you don’t remember the last few times? It’s okay. I want you to help me, we’re going to have some fun.’

 

‘Oh, you DON’T want to help me? Fine. Let’s see if you would change your mind when you find that your smiley trashbag of a brother is nothing but a pile of dust.’

 

The memories were crowding back in full force now. He remembered warning his brother about a talking flower once. Once? Or was it many times? No matter how many times he tried, his brother would simply disregard it as someone using an Echo Flower to play a prank on him.

 

‘Now look what you made me do, Papyrus.’ Flowey had said with a giant grin on his face, a small pile of dust behind him, ‘Now I will have to reset, and your memory will be wiped clean again. Me getting rid of smiley trashbag has caused me so many resets already. When will you ever learn?’

 

---------

‘Papyrus?!’

 

Papyrus sat upright, suddenly realizing that Flowey was looking at him with an expression of fear and concern.

 

‘Are...you okay? You have that blank look on your face again…’

 

He became aware that he was gripping the sides of the couch so tightly that he had torn holes into the fabric. He also noticed tears filling his eyes, which he hurriedly blinked away.

 

‘You look sick, do you need to rest?’ Flowey continued to ask.

 

‘FLOWEY?’ Papyrus said, ignoring his concerned questions, ‘ALTHOUGH YOU WERE BAD- EVEN IF YOU WERE BAD IN THE PAST. YOU REALLY ARE TRYING YOUR BEST TO CHANGE. AND AS LONG AS YOU ARE TRYING TO BE GOOD, I BELIEVE IN YOU. I KNOW THAT YOU CAN MAKE IT IF YOU KEEP TRYING.’

 

Flowey found himself feeling oddly encouraged by Papyrus’ insistence. He wasn’t exactly convinced, but he did silently nod and gave a weak smile.

 

‘HOWEVER, BACK TO THE MATTERS AT HAND!’ Papyrus swiftly changed the topic, ‘I WISHED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR IDENTITY BECAUSE I WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SPIRIT. THEY WERE YOUR SIBLING, WEREN’T THEY? I WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THEM.’

 

‘Chara? Yeah, we were really close when we were still alive...and when I was, you know, still Asriel.’

 

‘CHARA? IS THAT THEIR NAME? IT’S A LOVELY NAME, IT IS ALSO A NAME OF A STAR. I READ ABOUT IT IN ONE OF SANS’ ASTRONOMY BOOKS.’

 

‘It is?’ Flowey looked surprised, ‘I never knew. They always joked about how much their name sounded like “character”.’

 

‘WHAT WERE THEY LIKE? AND WHAT WAS THEIR FAVORITE FOOD, BESIDES CHOCOLATE?’

 

‘They were...they were actually really nice back then. They’re acting horrible now, but I remember them being very nice. The only thing was that they teased me a lot and called me a crybaby, but they were still very protective of me and always took the blame whenever I got into trouble. They also loved mom and dad a lot, they always made gifts for mom and dad. They liked to make drawings for mom, or knit sweaters for dad.’

 

‘They did tell me that me and my parents were the only people who have ever showed them kindness. They had a very hard life on the Surface. The reason why they jumped into the Underground was...not pleasant. All you have to know is that they hate humanity, and always wanted us monsters to destroy humanity some day. I guess they’re bitter about how they were treated by other humans and wanted revenge.’

 

‘I SEE. I SHALL NOT ASK ANY FURTHER THEN.’

 

‘As for their favorite food? I mean, they’ve always liked chocolate. Mom and dad always kept chocolate in the fridge for them. Why do you ask?’

 

‘BECAUSE I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE SOMETHING FOR THEM, SOMETHING THEY WOULD REALLY ENJOY EATING!’

 

‘You’re trying to bribe them with food to stop them from killing people!?’

 

‘WHY, YES. YES I AM.’ declared Papyrus proudly, ‘ISN’T THERE A HUMAN SAYING ABOUT HOW THE BEST WAY TO SOMEONE’S HEART IS THROUGH THEIR GUTS? OR SOMETHING? APPARENTLY, IT MEANS THAT THE BEST WAY TO GAIN AFFECTION FROM SOMEONE IS THROUGH VERY DELICIOUS FOOD.’

 

‘Never heard of that saying, but I guess it’s a good idea. It’s a bit sneaky though, so I love it. Well, mom and dad sometimes made pudding out of chocolate, and they loved that.’

 

‘I HAVE...NEVER LEARNED TO MAKE PUDDING,’ Papyrus looked a little sad, ‘BUT! I CAN TRY! I SHALL TRY TOMORROW, AND OFFER IT TO THEM DURING BREAKFAST.’

 

‘Sounds good to me!’ Flowey grinned as he bobbed up and down on his stem, feeling excited once again after a long time.

 

‘Oh yeah...Papyrus. I wanted to ask. Why do you keep believing in people so much?’

 

Papyrus suddenly got up, as if wanting to change to topic quickly, ‘IT’S GETTING LATE, PERHAPS IT’S TIME YOU WENT TO BED.’

 

‘What!? No!’ Even after all these years, Flowey still kept Asriel’s habit of not liking early bedtimes, ‘Come on, our conversation was just getting good! And how do you know what time is it anyway? You don’t even have a watch!’

 

Papyrus dramatically held up his left arm to his face, as if checking a watch that wasn’t there, ‘GOODNESS ME FLOWEY! IT’S GETTING VERY LATE! IT IS NOW BEDTIME FOR BOTH OF US!’

 

Flowey groaned, feeling annoyed at Papyrus all over again. This skeleton seemed to know how to get his way when he wanted to. Regardless, he understood that he couldn’t change Papyrus’ mind, and was willing let Papyrus tuck him in.

 

Papyrus bade the flower good night, before heading to Sans’ old room. He laid down in his sleeping bag, deciding to try to sleep for once tonight.

 

However, it took him a long time to finally doze off. And even when he did, his restless sleep was plagued with nightmares.

Chapter Text

Later that night, the child awoke.

 

Papyrus was just dozing off, and Flowey was already sleeping soundly in the living room. Aside from the child getting out of their sleeping bag, the house was dead silent.

 

Having only just awoken, they had no idea about the conversation between Papyrus and Flowey earlier. They ate their dinner, now cold from being left out for so long, and finished off their meal with what was left of their chocolate.

 

‘Two more bones, Frisk,’ said Chara, as the child turned to look at the window, ‘And we shall be free. I am positive that we can make our escape tonight.’

 

The child headed to the window after their meal, pulling out the knife. They began to slowly pry away the bones, being as silent and careful as possible.

 

Several hours later, the last bone was pulled away from the window. They stood up, opened the lock, and slid the window open.

 

They peered out of the window, ignoring the freezing draft that blew at them. Snowdin was dark, silent, and extremely cold. They looked down and noticed that there was quite a drop to the snowy ground from the window.

 

But the child, in their excitement, was not deterred by any of this. They noticed some fir trees growing next to the window, taller than the house itself. They climbed onto the window sill, balanced themselves on it for a moment, and took a flying leap onto a nearby fir tree.

 

It was a terrible idea, as they never thought about how prickly fir tree leaves were, and that the snow piled onto the tree was so cold that it hurt their hands. They also never really thought about how to get down. They couldn’t exactly climb down due to how prickly the leaves were, and the idea of jumping down from that height terrified them.

 

They didn’t need to wonder about that for long, as the branch gave way with a loud crack and they found themselves falling onto the snow below.

 

Thankfully the snow was thick enough to cushion their fall, but they were worried Papyrus or Flowey would have awakened at the noise. They took to their heels and ran towards Waterfall as fast as they could, grateful that the snow masked the noise of their footsteps.

 

They were in for a surprise upon reaching the entrance of Waterfall. Tall spikes blocked their way, and before the spikes laid a very familiar looking puzzle. Xs were drawn onto the ground, and to solve it, one had to turn all the Xs into Os by walking over them.

 

The child groaned, kicking at the snow in frustration. A note laid beside the puzzle, pinned into the ground by a bone.

 

“DEAR FRISK AND SPIRIT,” said the note, written in a large font, ‘IF YOU ARE READING THIS, IT MEANS THAT YOU HAVE ESCAPED. I GUESS I CAN WISH YOU CONGRATULATIONS FOR MANAGING TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. BUT PLEASE, IF YOU ARE STILL PLANNING TO KILL EVERYONE ON THE SURFACE, I HOPE THIS NOTE CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND. IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO-”

 

The child ripped up the note before they finished reading.

 

‘He is very stubborn, annoyingly so,’ mumbled Chara, as they stomped the pieces of the note into the snow.

 

‘I guess we have to solve the puzzle, it’s the only way into Waterfall after all.’ Frisk said, defeated.

 

The child begrudgingly started to solve the puzzle, making mistakes in their impatience and having to reset the puzzle a few times.

 

They eventually managed to solve the puzzle. The spikes vanished, and they hurried into Waterfall-

 

-only to be greeted by another puzzle.

 

They now realized that Papyrus was simply stalling them for time, trying to deter them from reaching the Surface. And he was doing this by placing puzzles all the way along their journey to the end of the Underground.

 

The child felt a temper tantrum rising. They would have happily rushed back to the house to murder Papyrus in his sleep if they could. But they quickly realized that would not help much, as they would still be trapped Underground by his puzzles even if he was dead.

 

Having no other opinion, they ended up having to solve every single puzzle they encountered, as precious hours ticked away before they finally managed to leave Waterfall and enter Hotland.

 

While they were still slowly making their way through Waterfall, Papyrus had awoken back at the house.

 

Despite his exhaustion, he still headed downstairs to make breakfast, trying his very best to be cheerful. His steps were slower and less bouncy, and his humming sounded broken and out of tune. He hoped Flowey, who was just waking up and yawning widely, wouldn’t notice.

 

He prepared a tray of toast and three bowls of oatmeal. Taking the tray in one hand, and Flowey in the other, he ended back upstairs to his room.

 

‘HUMAN! I HAVE ARRIVED WITH BREAKFAST!’ he announced, placing Flowey’s flower pot on the floor and opening the door with one hand.

 

The room was, of course, devoid of the child.

 

A cold draft was blowing through the open window.

 

It was a good thing Papyrus placed Flowey on the floor, because his grip on the tray loosened and it crashed onto the floor, spilling broken dishes and food all over the carpet.

 

Flowey gaped in horror, eyes still scanning the room as if hoping the child was still around.

 

‘FLOWEY,’ Papyrus said, his expression dark and his voice lower than usual, ‘WE MUST HEAD OUT TO FIND THEM IMMEDIATELY.’

 

‘B...but they would have gone to the surface by now, it’s probably been hours since they escaped and-’

 

‘I SPENT THE PAST FEW NIGHTS SETTING UP PUZZLES ALL ALONG THE WAY TO THE SURFACE, BESIDES IN HOTLAND, AS I DID NOT WISH TO GO THERE. THE PUZZLES SHOULD BE ABLE TO STALL THEM FOR AT LEAST A FEW HOURS.’

 

‘You spent the past few nights making puzzles instead of sleeping!?’

 

‘I HAD TO, I...REALLY DO NOT WANT THEM TO REACH THE SURFACE.’ Papyrus looked sad for a brief moment, ‘I WAS HOPING THAT MAKING THEM SOLVE THE PUZZLES WOULD HELP THEM CHANGE THEIR MINDS. AT THIS POINT, THEY MIGHT STILL BE SOMEWHERE UNDERGROUND.’

 

He picked up Flowey and headed back downstairs, his footsteps heavy. He opened the front door, removing the bones blocking the door as he did.

 

‘FLOWEY, LEAVE THE FLOWER POT AND LOOK FOR THEM IN WATERFALL,’ he commanded in a voice Flowey did not dare to disobey, ‘I SHALL TAKE A SHORTCUT TO HOTLAND.’ he cringed a little, ‘I DISLIKE THAT PLACE, BUT I HAVE NO CHOICE THIS TIME.’

 

Flowey nodded. He slid out of the flower pot, pushing his roots into the snowy ground and shuddering at the cold. He then pulled his entire body underground, and began to quickly burrow towards Waterfall, extending his roots and stem as far as possible to detect any movements from the child.

 

Papyrus placed the flower pot onto the floor. He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on forming a shortcut to Hotland. In a flash, he vanished from Snowdin and reappeared at the entrance of Hotland.

 

At the same time, the child had solved the last puzzle at the end of Waterfall, and could see the lava of Hotland just ahead of them.

 

Chapter Text

At the entrance of Hotland, to the child’s annoyance, they saw that Papyrus standing in the middle of the path. He raised one hand towards them.

 

‘HALT HUMAN.’

 

He looked weary, exhausted. He was not standing as tall, slumping over a little, and his head was bowed slightly so that he did not look the child straight in the eyes. His expression was full of sadness, with an empty grin that did not spread as wide as usual. There seemed to be dark bags under his eye sockets. It was a sad sight.

 

Great, this was the last thing they wanted. Even though this meant free EXP from fighting and killing him, they did not want to go through the effort. They desperately wanted to reach the surface and begin the destruction of this timeline.

 

Aside from that, even though they didn’t want to admit it, they still felt a bit of guilt. Frisk had always liked Papyrus, and Chara had started to grow fond of him. Betraying Papyrus by running away, going to the surface, and killing everyone including his brother seemed like a terrible thing to do to him, after how kindly he had treated them.

 

Still, they had to find a way past him somehow.

 

‘I thought you hated Hotland.’ said the human drily.

 

‘I...DO.’ replied Papyrus, ‘BUT, I HAD TO COME HERE, TO MEET YOU.’

 

‘Well, you did not have to. You are simply wasting your effort. Now leave, I am tired of you.’

 

‘THERE’S ALWAYS A PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVE, FRISK AND CHARA! I AM SURE EVERYONE WILL ACCEPT BOTH OF YOU AGAIN IF YOU ARE WILLING TO CHANGE. WE CAN ALL LIVE PEACEFULLY, EVERYONE WILL BE FRIENDS.’

 

The child took a step back in shock upon hearing both of their names being called.

 

‘H...how did you...my name...WHO TOLD YOU!?’ cried Chara in horror and fury.

 

‘FLOWEY DID. OR ASRIEL, AS YOU CALL HIM. BUT PLEASE, CAN WE NOT TALK THIS OUT, CHARA? I KNOW YOU HAD A HARD LIFE, AND I SUPPOSE IT IS AWFUL TO BE DEAD TOO. BUT I AM SURE MR DREEMUR AND MISS TORIEL WILL UNDERSTAND, AND WILL ACCEPT YOU AGAIN, IF YOU JUST TALK TO THEM. WE CAN ALL BE FRIENDS AND RETURN TO THE SURFACE JOYOUSLY.’

 

‘You do not understand, do you? I cannot simply live peacefully with anyone any longer, not after what I have done, not with all this bitterness I carry within me.’ replied Chara indignantly, ‘I despise humanity after what they have done to me, and I am no longer fond of monsterkind either. They left me to die. I was buried for years, feeling my body rotting in the ground. My SOUL was taken from me, I felt nothing but emptiness within me until Frisk arrived.’

 

‘Can you not fathom this?’ they continued before Papyrus had a chance to speak, ‘I suppose not, you naive, foolish monster. You cannot understand how much I have suffered. You cannot understand how much I yearned for death even as a young child. You will never understand the anger and bitterness building up in me for thousands of years while being dead.’

 

‘Why even bother to stop us? Then again, I suppose you cannot remember the last time you tried to stop us. You were not able to halt our journey, you were not able to save anyone. Undyne, Mettaton, and even your brother perished because of you! All you do, all you are able to do, is to stand there and try to be ‘nice’. Do you not understand that being ‘nice’ will get you nowhere? You are a burden to everyone. You are useless. Killing you now will be a favor to everyone, including your brother.’

 

The child continued to rain insults down upon him, beating his spirit and his will into submission, destroying any hope and confidence he ever had left. Throughout the verbal assault, he was slumping over more and more, his head bowing lower and lower. Finally, his legs gave way, and he fell onto the floor upon his knees.

 

He curled his body into himself, burying his face in his hands. His body seemed to quiver and shake slightly, almost as if he were silently crying.

 

What was once a tall, powerful skeleton, full of confidence, pride, and hope in everyone and everything, had now been reduced to a trembling, sobbing mess of bones.

 

This was a perfect moment to kill him. His defence had dropped to 0, he had no will to fight back or defend himself. He was simply leaving himself vulnerable right in front of them. The child raised their knife, ready to reduce him to dust in one blow.

 

But-

 

After holding the knife above him for a while-

 

They lowered it slowly.

 

Their hands were shaking, and they almost dropped their knife.

 

They couldn’t.

 

They couldn’t do it.

 

No matter how hard they tried to raise their knife again, they simply couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

 

They turned, and began walking quickly away from the skeleton.

 

Guilt was eating away at them.

 

But they pushed it aside, they ignored it as much as they could.

 

There was a world to destroy, one single skeleton will not stand in their way.

 

Killing him would be a waste anyway, they told themselves. Besides, it’s unlikely he would stop them anymore, he was too far gone and too broken.

 

They continued their walk through Hotland towards New Home. There were no more electrical lights, and the only light source came from the lava below them. They should tread carefully.



 

As for Papyrus…

 

All the hurt, all the feelings of betrayal, all the bitterness he felt had reached its limit. He had been holding back for days, telling himself over and over to have hope, to believe in the child. But now, whatever hope he had in them was completely shattered. Combined with the physical and mental exhaustion he felt from dealing with them, missing his brother, and not sleeping at all for days, his mind could no longer rationalize his thoughts.

 

Something from his past was catching up to him, something he had forced out from himself for so long. It was coming back fast and he couldn’t stop it.

 

His only thought right now was to stop them. His mind clung onto them mentioning that they wanted to kill his brother, and that simply added to the bitterness. He had to stop them! He had to keep his brother safe! He had to stop them no matter what!!!





Words of encouragement did not stop them. Believing in them did not stop them. Being friends with them did not stop them. Traps and puzzles did nothing, they simply escaped.








there was only one thing left that he could do to stop them









KILL THEM.




He let out a loud scream.

 

The child froze in their tracks, covering their ears as they did. The scream was piercing, horrible, full of anguish. There was something darkly primal and wild about it. And, the child realized, to their horror, that there was a terrifying familiarity to it.

 

They lowered their hands from their ears, and slowly turned around after some hesitation.

 

Papyrus had fallen to the floor, and was writhing around. He was letting out loud whimpers and sharp gasps of breath. Whatever was happening to him was clearly agonizing.

 

The child was horrified. They wanted to look away from the struggling skeleton, they wanted to run, but they were petrified with fear.

 

A bright flash of magic ripped across Papyrus’ body, causing him to let out another scream. It was bright orange, but there was a certain darkness to it, an ugliness that they couldn’t describe.

 

And then, the transformation began.

 

His back began arching, spikes pushed their way through his backbone, and a spiky tail grew out from the end of his spine. His gloves and boots were torn off as his phalanges turned into razor sharp claws. His joints snapped painfully and twisted around, turning him into a quadrupedal creature. His skull no longer looked humanoid, and had formed a large muzzle, filled with teeth, as well as two pairs of horns.

 

The child began to back away, their steps shaky. They recognized the shape of his skull.

 

It looked exactly like the strange skull-like Blasters Sans had used on them, a long time ago.

 

Only now, sitting upon the shoulders of a giant skeletal beast, it looked far more terrifying and twisted.

 

Eventually, the beast stopped struggling. It laid still for a while, before pulling itself onto its four feet, and facing the child. Throughout the entire transformation, it had been growing in size. It now towered far above them, they were barely any taller than its knees. All of its clothes, including his scarf, had disappeared somehow. The only thing left on it was a red collar around it neck.

 

What used to be Papyrus now glared down at them. Two large orange lights burned in its eye sockets, with little wisps of orange magic floating around its eyes and mouth. There was no recognition in those eyes at all. Its expression was full of hatred and fury.

 

And then, it opened his mouth, aiming for the child. The familiar noise of a Blaster charging up sounded, and a bright orange light began to form in his mouth.

 

The child finally turned and fled, fear helping them gain speed. Alphys’ lab was up ahead, and the door was thankfully left open. They ran into the building just as a blast hit the ground outside. The shock of the blast itself almost threw them off their feet, but they managed to steady themselves.

 

They stood in the darkness of the abandoned lab, waiting to see what the creature would do next. They knew that they should keep running, but-

 

Another blast ripped open a wall of the building, tearing through the brick and concrete. Through the dust that had risen from the debris, they could see the creature glaring at them through the hole in the wall, baring its teeth at them, snarling.

 

With a cry of terror, they continued to run.

 

They ran out through the backdoor of the lab, and fled down the suspended corridors. They could feel the corridors shaking and hear loud footfalls as the beast chased after them. Now and then they had to duck out of the way as the beast fired another blast at them. The blast was always terrifying close to them, and once they had the fabric of their sleeve burned off by the shearing heat from the blast. But they ignored the pain and continued running.

 

They soon came across a conveyor belt, now turned off. As they ran along it, they realized that they could no longer feel or hear the beast’s footsteps. They turned to look for him.

 

To their horror, they saw the beast running alongside the conveyor belt, bounding through thin air as if it were the ground. They suddenly remembered that the Blasters Sans used seemed to suspend themselves in midair. Was this why part of Papyrus’ abilities including gravity manipulation?

 

But they didn’t have time to wonder about that. The expression on the beast’s face made them shudder. It stared at them as if they were its prey. They could not recognize anything ‘Papyrus’ in this beast at all, it seemed like an entirely different being altogether.

 

The lifts were all turned off, but they eventually managed to find a flight of stairs, and rushed up it to the upper floors. They didn’t know where they were going now, all they could think of was trying to escape this creature.

 

They ran past some debris, apparently made from partially collapsed buildings and corridors. The place really was falling apart without any monsters to maintain it. In a desperate attempt to escape, they ducked behind the debris, and laid flat on the floor, trying to be as silent as possible despite their frantic panting.

 

For a few moments, they could hear nothing besides some strange creaking and rumblings. They soon realized that it was coming from the structures around them. A lot of the buildings and corridors were already unstable. Both of their movements have caused the structures to become even more shaky.

 

But they couldn’t worry about that now. They heard another noise, a low snarling that was growing closer and closer. There didn’t seem to be any footfalls, which meant that the creature was still floating, walking above the corridors. They couldn’t tell exactly where it was.

 

Very soon, they saw the beast stalking past, head turning side to side, searching for them. Its motions reminded them of a hunting predatory beast. They held their breath, utterly terrified, hoping that it would simply go past them without seeing them.

 

However, they saw the beast’s eyes glow bright for a few moment, and it suddenly turned towards them. Its snarl became a roar, and a bright light began to emit from its mouth again.

 

The child managed to leap out from behind the debris just in time. A blast ripped through the debris, tearing it to shred as if it were cardboard. The child began to run down the corridor again, with the beast in pursuit.

 

They came across another one of the chasms that had to be crossed by being blown upwards by fans. They attempted to jump across it, but found that they could barely get off the ground. They looked down and realized that their soul had been turned bright blue. Whatever this beast was, it could clearly still use blue magic, a power unique to the skeleton brothers.

 

Regardless, they tried to jump across, missed their footing, and flailed desperately to reach the other end of the chasm. They managed to grab hold of the edge as they fell, dragged down by their soul. They scrambled over the edge, and continued running.

 

However, they were dragged down so much that they simply collapsed on the ground on their knees. They tried to stand, but it was no use. The blue magic pinned them onto the ground. No matter how much they struggled, they could do nothing to escape.

 

The beast was coming upon them from behind. It was now walking over the ground, its steps slow. It did not attack at first, and simply tilted its head in interested as it watched the child tried desperately to drag themselves away from it.

 

Then, it opened its mouth and sent a blast directly at the child. The blast was not strong enough to kill them, but strong enough to injure them. The child screamed in pain.

 

The back of their clothes was now partially tattered. Through the tattered clothes, red burn marks had formed on their back.

 

The child tried desperate to drag themselves away, crying and whimpering from the pain. The beast still watched. It seemed to take a sadistic pleasure in watching the child suffer, and allowed the child to attempt to escape in order to savor the moment more.

 

After a while, it seemed to get bored. It opened its mouth again, readying another blast…



...



‘PAPYRUS!!!’

 

In their sheer terror, the child cried out their friend’s name, hoping that, somehow, he would hear it.

 

The beast stopped, the light in its mouth fading.

 

It gazed at the child, looking confused, trying to remember who the child was. Then, it blinked and shook its head, as if it had just woken up.

 

A look of horror crossed its face as it looked down over its own body.

 

It whimpered when it saw how badly the child was injured. Shaking its head, it took a few steps back from the child. At the same time, it released the child from its blue magic.

 

The child got up from the ground, and turned to look at the beast.

 

It was still backing away, now trying to hide its face in its paws, whimpering in distress. Large, boiling tears formed at the bottom of its eye sockets. Despite how badly it had injured them, the child felt sorry for it.

 

A loud rumble from above made both of them look up.

 

The structures around them were unstable, and the blasts from the creature caused the integrity of the structures to worsen.

 

There was a low groan from the metal walkways above them, and then an ear-piercing snap as it broke in half.

 

The creature immediately dashed forward, knocking the child out of the way with its head.

 

The child was flung across the walkway, sliding along the ground as they landed. They let out a sharp sob, their wounds hurting even more as they fell.

 

At the same time, there was a horrible crashing noises, and a sickening whimper.

 

The child glanced up, still laying on the ground. They screamed in horror.

 

The metal beams from above had landed directly on the creature, crushing it.

 

‘PAPYRUS!!!’

 

Despite the pain, they forced themselves to stand up. They ran over to the debris, limping slightly as they did.

 

They sank down to their knees beside the debris, tears filling their eyes. They began to try to move some of the debris out of the way. The pieces of metal debris were heavy, but they were determined to find their friend.

 

He saved them. They didn’t care that he had somehow transformed into a terrible beast and attempted to kill them. He managed to snap out of it, he recognized them, and he saved them. They couldn’t let him die. They couldn’t. They couldn’t.

 

After a while of shoving large pieces of debris out of the way, a familiar boney arm greeted them. It was no longer gigantic, or had the horrible clawed paws. It even wore the familiar red glove.

 

The child took hold of the arm, and pulled as hard as they could.

 

Some of the debris shifted, and out from it came Papyrus, having returned to his normal skeleton form, complete with his usual outfit. His eyes were closed, and there were streams of tears running down his face. Several deep cuts ran along his body, and little flecks of dust was flaking off him.

 

As the child dragged him from the debris, his left arm fell off with a clatter.

 

Papyrus didn’t even seem to notice it. He was completely exhausted, and simply slumped onto the floor. Tears continued to run down his face.

 

The child stared at the arm for a while, before turning their attention back to the skeleton. They gently reached out and wiped some of the tears from his face.

 

He opened his eyes, and backed away from the child, looking fearful.

 

‘Papyrus?’ the child said, their voice cracking slightly as a lump formed in their throat, ‘I...I am...I am not going to hurt you.’

 

‘I almost killed you.’ he whimpered, dragging himself away from them.

 

‘I almost killed you I almost killed you I almost killed you I lost control I lost control I almost killed you I’m sorry I’m sorry please forgive me please forgive meimsorryimsorryimsorryimsorryimsorry…’

 

The child didn’t know how to respond.

 

At that moment, a very different rumbling noise was heard, coming towards them. Flowey suddenly popped out of the ground, somehow being able to tunnel through the metal corridor.

 

Upon seeing Papyrus laying in a heap, badly injured and with an arm missing, Flowey gave a yelp and coiled a few loops of vines around the skeleton protectively. He turned to glare at the child.

 

‘What did you do to him!?’ he shouted, standing up to Chara for the first time in his entire life, as his concern and love for his skeleton friend turned into bravery, ‘WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM!? HOW COULD YOU HURT HIM LIKE THIS!???’

 

‘I…’ the child backed away from the furious flower, ‘I did not do anything! I...I swear.’

 

‘LIAR! LOOK AT HIM! HOW COULD YOU!?’ Flowey turned back to Papyrus, leaning close to his face, ‘I’ll...I’ll get you back home safely, Papyrus. I’ll try to take good care of you. Please don’t die.’

 

Papyrus could barely hear what Flowey said, and simply whimpered, ‘I...I hurt them. I almost...almost killed them. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’

 

Flowey tilted his head in confusion.

 

‘Asr...Flowey?’ began the child, but paused for a moment when Flowey glared at them again, ‘L...listen. You must return him to the house, and allow him to rest and be healed. Please hurry.’

 

‘And let you run off and destroy the timeline again?’ replied Flowey sarcastically.

 

‘I am not leaving. I promise. I will not leave the Underground, and I will come with you and see that Papyrus is completely healed.’

 

‘Since when do you care about anyone besides yourself!?’

 

‘Well, since when did you !? Look, there is no time to argue. Get Papyrus back to the house immediately. I shall follow.’

 

If it wasn’t for the need to help Papyrus, Flowey would have happily stayed and argued with the child. However, he simply coiled more vines around Papyrus, being as gentle as he could.

 

‘Fine, I’ll take him back home, since I can move faster underground anyway. You better follow behind. Or, don’t. I don’t care. I just want Papyrus to be safe right now.’

 

With that said, he burrowed under the corridor again, taking Papyrus with him.

 

For a moment the child wondered how could Flowey burrow through metal, and how was he able to take Papyrus with him into the metal. Knowing that they would not get an answer by just standing there, they picked up Papyrus’ arm that Flowey had forgotten about, and ran back to the house as fast as they could, ignoring the pain of their wounds and hoping that Papyrus would be alright.

Chapter Text

Frisk and Chara ran most of the way back to the house, still holding onto Papyrus’ left arm as they did. They stopped a few times to rest, and as they were reaching Snowdin, began slowing down to a walk, practically dragging themselves along. The injuries on their back was gradually taking their toll on them.

 

Eventually, they managed to reach the house. They opened the front door, not bothering to knock, and closed it behind them to keep out the cold.

 

Flowey had already arrived, and had laid out Papyrus on the couch. He was in his flower pot once again, gazing at Papyrus in concern, unsure of what to do.

 

“H...how...how is he?” the child asked between gasps for air.

 

Flowey was very surprised to see them. He had expected them to go to the Surface, and was prepared to find most monsters and humans dead by the time Papyrus was well enough to leave the Underground.

 

“Not good,” The child noticed that there were tears forming in the flower’s eyes. “I can’t heal him. I...I never learned how to heal from mom or dad, and I don’t think I can use healing magic at all in this form since I have no soul.” He whimpered as a tear fell from his face and splashed onto the floor. “I...I don’t know what to do.”

 

Papyrus was in an awful state. He still had deep cuts all over his bones, and dust was still flaking off his body. He laid still, eyes closed, mumbling something none of them could hear. His soul was visible over his chest. It appeared cracked, showing that he was close to death. Little flecks of grey and black were scattered over it.

 

“What...what are those strange blotches in his soul? Is a monster soul supposed to look like that?” asked the child as they drew nearer to Papyrus.

 

“No, and that worries me too,” replied Flowey, “Please, Frisk, and Chara, think of some way to help him. I don’t know how long he’ll stay this way before completely turning into dust.”

 

The child thought for awhile, appearing calm on the outside but inwardly panicking, completely forgetting about their own injuries.

 

“Wait, the food he brought with us was all monster food, right? Monster food can heal. We have to get him to eat some of it!”

 

“He keeps all of the food in the kitchen,” answered Flowey, looking a little relieved at this idea, “I’m sure he has some milk in the fridge, it’s probably easier for him to drink rather than eat now.”

 

The child placed Papyrus’ left arm on the table and rushed to the kitchen, pulling open the fridge door hurriedly. There were still five cartons of milk in the fridge, which made them briefly wonder how many cartons of milk Papyrus brought with him in the first place considering they had been drinking milk for almost every meal the past few days.

 

They grabbed the one closest to them, and ran back to the living room, not bothering to get a glass.

 

“Prop him up a little, Flowey, so that he is able to drink the milk,” they ordered. Flowey did so immediately, propping Papyrus into a sitting position with his vines.

 

The child unscrewed the cap of the carton and stood on tiptoes to be able to tip the carton into the skeleton’s mouth. They did it slowly, making sure Papyrus swallowed the milk before they poured in more. They had no idea where the milk went, as none of it flowed out from the bottom of his jaw or from under him.

 

Skeleton monster anatomy was bizarre, they thought to themselves.

 

Soon, the carton was empty, and Papyrus looked much better. The dust had stopped flaking from his body, and the cuts had mostly been healed. The cracks on his soul had vanished, but the strange specks of black and grey still remained on it.

 

He opened his eyes, tensing up and whimpering a little when he saw the child.

 

“Please do not panic Papyrus," the child said, as gently as they could, ‘You must rest, and you shall get better.”

 

He whimpered again.

 

“Don’t worry, I am not going to the Surface. I will not leave your side until you recover. I promise.”

 

He let out a sigh, and relaxed. Flowey gently laid him back onto the couch, and pulled a blanket over him.

 

The child, relieved from seeing that Papyrus was alright, suddenly felt very exhausted themselves. They stumbled backwards, but were caught by Flowey’s vines before they fell over.

 

“And you, are you okay?” asked Flowey, now turning to them. “You’re really badly injured, you should go eat some food too.”

 

The child had never heard Flowey speak in such a gentle, kind voice before, and was a little taken aback. Still, they went back to the kitchen, and returned with a bar of chocolate in their mouth and two glasses of milk.

 

They offered one of the glass to Flowey, who declined and told them to leave it on the table. They then sat down beside the couch, and began to hungrily consume the chocolate. As they ate, the burns on their back healed slowly, and they felt much better.

 

Papyrus watched them in silence as they ate. He still seemed exhausted, as his eye sockets were half lidded and there were dark shadows around his eye sockets, looking almost like deep eyebags. His expression was solemn and sorrowful.

 

Halfway through their chocolate and milk, the child turned, and jumped a little upon realizing that the skeleton was staring at them rather intently. They finished their meal and whirled around to gaze back at Papyrus.

 

There was a rather long awkward silence. The child was sitting with their knees pulled up to their chest, expression full of regret. Papyrus continued to gaze at them while on the couch weakly. Flowey alternating his gaze between them both. None of them could bring themselves to speak.

 

“Papyrus?” came Frisk’s voice unexpectedly.

 

Papyrus and Flowey were startled, not expecting to hear Frisk’s voice at all after hearing the child speak in Chara’s voice for so long.

 

“I’m...I’m sorry.”

 

The child had tears in their eyes. They looked down at their feet as they continued, attempting to hide the tears.

 

“I’m sorry for...for all of this. I know it’s probably no use apologizing, after what I did. You’re hurt because of me. You’re such a good friend a...and you took good care of me, even when we first met. You never killed me like everyone else and you wanted to be my friend and you believed in me and...and…” tears ran down their cheeks as they began to sob, “I...I hurt you, I k...killed you. You probably don’t remember it but...but, I’ve killed you before...many...many times…”

 

“You remember, don’t you Flowey?” they continued, turning their gaze to the flower, “All those timelines where I...I killed monsters. I regret those...I kept resetting out of regret...I promised myself not to hurt anyone ever again after I saved everyone but yet...but yet…” their voice grew shakier and they finally broke down into miserable whimpering, “I’m sorry...I’m sorry…”

 

Papyrus was quiet. But Flowey, after a stunned silence, answered them, trying to sound as calm as possible.

 

“Look, Frisk,” he replied, his voice shaky, ‘You did a lot of bad things back then... sometimes I can still feel you slashing me to death during some of the timelines, just before you leave the Underground. And it...it really hurt. But,” he hesitated for a moment, before continuing, “I...I kind of pushed you to it, didn’t I? I told you it was ‘kill or be killed’. I made fun of you…”

 

“And...and besides,” he went on, growing more frantic as he spoke, “I hurt you too, I hurt everyone. I did horrible things to all the monsters, before you even came to the Underground. Killing, torturing, injuring...and I just reset because everything would go back to normal when I did. I just wanted to play, I wanted to have fun, and at that point hurting people was the only way I could have fun. I never thought about the damage done. I had no soul.”

 

“I...I mean...I still don’t have a soul. But when I turned back into Asriel, and felt everyone’s souls in me, I began feeling again. I remembered how it was like to feel love and concern for people besides myself. I realized how much I hurt everyone...how much I hurt you.” Flowey’s eyes flooded with tears despite his efforts to blink them back, “And...and I still feel the guilt, the pain, until now. I’m...I’m sorry, Frisk. I’m sorry, Papyrus. You were the only person who was my friend when I was a flower but I...I kept hurting you and...”

 

“Flowey?” Papyrus finally spoke, his voice weak and quivering slightly, “Please do not be distressed about it anymore. Remember what I told you last night?” He smiled feebly, attempting to reach his remaining arm towards Flowey, but was so tired that his arm simply flopped back down onto the couch, “You are trying your best to be good. As long as you keep trying, you can change your ways. You’re already doing very well.”

 

Flowey let out a little sob, but managed to nod at Papyrus, feeling very touched by his encouragement.

 

“And, Frisk?” Papyrus turned towards Frisk, who looked towards him with their tear stained face, “If you try your best to be good, you can change your ways too. It’s hard, and I know how difficult it can be,” he looked a little forlorn, “I understand...sometimes you slip back into your old ways...and h...hurt people, and…” he stopped himself, hurriedly changing his expression, “But you can do a little better, I promise that you can, you just have to keep trying.”

 

Frisk was rather astonished by Papyrus’ willingness to still forgive them, in spite of everything. Deep inside they felt that they did not deserve it, and felt that they could not accept his forgiveness.

 

However, they were still very touched, and extremely grateful. They shifted themselves to sit beside the couch, and held Papyrus’ remaining arm in their hands, giving him a very watery but sincere smile.

 

Chara, from within Frisk, could feel Frisk’s genuine guilt and their resolve to be a better person. They felt very guilty and ashamed as well, even more so with Papyrus still willing to forgive Frisk despite their attempts to kill him and to escape.

 

But they forced themselves to not show it. They were a proud, headstrong child. They were taught to bury their emotions, to not feel any compassion or love. It was the reason why they always had a forced smile on their face, and laughed when anything bad happened.

 

Stubbornly, they hid their feelings, and instead simply said to Papyrus, “And what are your thoughts about me? I highly doubt you will be able to graciously extend your forgiveness to me as you did to Frisk and Flowey.”

 

It was odd to hear their calm, almost smug voice coming from Frisk, whose face was was still tear-stained as they clung onto Papyrus’ arm.

 

“Of course I can, Chara.” replied Papyrus, sounding almost cheerful despite his feeble voice.

 

“But why?” they continued to ask, “Do you sincerely believe that I, too, can change my ways? In spite of everything I have done?”

 

“Yes, very much so.”

 

“I do not understand why you have this much hope in me. I have not been a pleasant person at all, not even before I died, and especially not before I arrived to the Underground. In fact, you cannot judge me for who I am since you know nothing about my past.”

 

“Well, that’s true, I don’t know what your past was like. Perhaps you would like to talk about it?” Papyrus paused for a moment, before adding quickly, “But only if you are comfortable, of course.”

 

“Yeah, Chara.” Flowey chimed in, “You never told me much about what happened before you fell Underground.”

 

“You never told me, either,” Frisk spoke up suddenly, “Maybe we can help you if you tell us about it.”

 

Chara looked from Papyrus’ curious expression to Flowey’s eager one, and they could feel Frisk gently trying to persuade them in their mind. They never wanted to talk about their past to anyone, but it seemed that they walked straight into a trap and did not have much choice.

 

They sighed. “Very well. As long as you are willing to keep this a secret, I shall comply and tell you of my life during the period I was on the Surface. However,” despite their expressions no longer matching up to Frisk’s, the other three could almost hear them smirk, “In return, Papyrus must inform us of why he is able to transform into that beast. It is frightening, but I am still very curious about how he was able to achieve that.”

 

Flowey turned to Papyrus in confusion, as he was not present to see Papyrus’ transformation.

 

Papyrus looked nervous, seemingly regretting his decision of asking for Chara’s past.

 

‘Very well, Chara, I promise I shall tell you about it once you’ve finished your story.”

 

“And we won’t tell anyone about your story either,” Frisk added in, “So don’t worry about that.”

 

“Alright. I do warn you, it is not a cheery story at all, and I doubt any of you will obtain enjoyment from it. But here goes...”

Chapter Text

Since the beginning of time, humans had lived peacefully with the supernatural entities that shared their world. Among these entities were a species of monsters made of pure magic. These monsters had the closest relationship to humans, as both species had almost similar types of souls, and shared the same type of lifestyles and cultures.

 

However, a war between humans and the monsters broke out. No one was very sure who started the war first, or why the war continued on for years. Both species had their own interpretation of the war and how it was perpetrated.

 

The humans, while not as well versed in magic as the monsters, won the war through sheer determination. With their victory, they sealed the monsters in a vast underground cavern to prevent a counterattack from the monsters.

 

The once peaceful relationship between the humans and monsters was now broken.

 

But it did not end there.

 

Because of the war, the other supernatural entities began to avoid the humans. These creatures, regardless of whether they were magical, spiritual, or occult, hid away from the humans. Many feared the humans and fled whenever they met one. But many of them also began to hate humanity, occasionally antagonizing or attacking humans if they strayed too near their territories.

 

The humans now feared that another war might occur between them and these entities. They were also afraid that the monsters would eventually escape their underground prison and attack. There was already much chaos among the humans themselves, with wars for land, for power, and even for peace raged on over the years. They did not want to have to face supernatural attacks when they were occupied with their own wars.

 

To counter this, they began to study ways to strengthen humans against the paranormal.

 

Humans were weaker than most supernatural in terms of magic, spiritual powers, and raw strength. What gave them the advantage was their ingenuity in creating new technology, and their unique SOULs which gave them the strength to survive and fight against adversaries.

 

To understand more about their own SOULs, studies and experiments, some very brutal and inhumane, were done on fellow humans. It was discovered that while all humans had similar SOULs, SOULs had different traits to them, giving them different coloration when extracted from the human body.

 

It was also discovered only humans who were truly in touch with their SOULs were able to use their SOULs to its full potential, and that there were two things that could help push the human soul beyond its limits: unconditional love, or the complete lack of compassion.

 

A group of humans wondered if they could use this to their advantage, to rise up against all supernatural beings and be in complete control of the world. Together, they decided to find ways to train humans into possessing souls so powerful they could surpass most of humanity, essentially creating a race of super soldiers who could become an army to hunt and fight supernatural beings.

 

The idea of hunting down supernatural beings to thin their numbers, thus preventing another war, was very appealing to many governments. They allowed these people to form a foundation, and had a training facility built in a research village at a location undisclosed to the public.

 

The research village was a closed city consisting of areas where scientists both worked and stayed. Each area had several buildings filled with labs, offices, and housing. In terms of appearance, the training facility looked very much any other area in the village. It was listed under “military research”, and as the people staying in other areas were not allowed to know what went on in areas that were not their own, no one outside the facility knew about what sort of training went on in it.

 

The training had to begin at a young age, before the human and their SOUL had a chance to mature. These people searched the world for children who were unusually in tune with their SOULs. These children were then taken, usually by force, to this facility.

 

It was decided that it was too difficult to force a person to show genuine, unconditional love. So instead, the foundation found ways to force these children to be utterly unable to express compassion.

 

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Chara never knew who their parents were. They were taken at an age far too young to remember anything outside the facility. To them, the training facility had always been their home. It was their entire world, as the trainees were never allowed to leave the facility, or even see anything outside the facility.

 

Life at the facility consisted of a rigorous daily timetable, stringent rules, and brutal punishments. The children stayed in tiny, windowless room, bare aside from a bed and a small bathroom. They had classes every single day, teaching them basic language, mathematics, and the human’s version of history with supernatural creatures.

 

This was followed by vigorous exercise and combat training, which prepared the children to hunt and attack supernatural entities when they were older. These children were forced to do training meant for adult soldiers, going past their limits, resulting in fatigue, fainting, and sometimes even death.

 

As cruel as this regime was, no mercy was allowed to be shown to the children. Any form of empathy towards was considered bad for training, as any form of love felt by the children will dilute the strength of their SOULs.

 

The children were woken up early every morning by a loud alarm blaring through a speaker in their room, followed by a pre-recorded announcement about the day’s schedule. The children were then given 40 minutes to wash up and dress themselves. Their breakfast, consisting of a bland mixture of milk and bread, would be deposited through a slot in the door during this time. After the 40 minutes were up, their room doors would be unlocked and they had to rush to their classrooms. Any lateness would be severely punished.

 

During this 40 minutes, Chara would wash and dress quickly in order to have some time to read a book and eat a bit of chocolate, both which they kept hidden in their bathroom.

 

Books from the outside were strictly prohibited among the children. In fact, no form of media or communication from the outside world was allowed to reach them. However, some of the people working in the facility felt sorry for the children, and managed to smuggle in things such as storybooks and snacks for them, just to make their lives slightly less miserable. Being caught doing so would result in immediate decommissioning and the perpetrator would never be heard of again, but these kind souls still continued to risk their lives in bringing some form of joy to these children.

 

Chara was one of the children who accepted these gifts, and soon developed a love for reading. It was nice to read about life beyond the white, blank walls of their room, the classrooms, and the rest of the facility. Even though they understood that these stories were fiction, they still loved reading about children going on adventures in a strange world where a lion was king, or a child who lived in the woods alone with various animals, or about a strange chocolate factory where anything was possible.

 

Because of the last story, they ended up loving chocolate. The only chocolate they ever had was smuggled in by kind workers. Every time they were able to obtain it, they rejoiced, be in small bits of broken chocolate, or an entire bar of high-quality chocolate.

 

They hid these things under a loose tile they found in a corner of their bathroom, away from the security camera in their room and away from the adults who regularly came to inspect their room. They did not want to get caught, as every rule in the facility had to be obeyed. Any form of disobedience or insolence was met with horrible punishments, such as being caned, electrocution, and being “taken away”.

 

So, whenever they had the time, which was usually during morning and at night, they would read as much as they could, or break off tiny bits of chocolate and lick them, trying to make the chocolate last as long as it could.

 

As soon as the 40 minutes was up and their door opened, Chara hid away these precious items and rushed to their assigned classroom. They would sit at their assigned desk and listen to the very dry and long lecture.

 

They never spoke to any of their classmates, at least, not in front of any watchful eyes of the teachers or adult superiors. No form of friendship was allowed to form between the children. The entire goal of this project was to develop children with no ability to feel compassion or sympathy for another person, and friendships or relationships would only disrupt this.

 

Negative emotions, such as hatred, was encouraged to fester between the children. The older children were often pushed to bully the younger children, while the children were encouraged to fight with or snitch on their peers. These were methods used to help remove any compassion that they might develop, and to increase the children’s willingness to be violent.

 

In spite of this, some of the children still managed to make friends, but were very careful to hide it from teachers, or other children who were eager to snitch on them to earn favor from the adults.

 

If the teachers noticed any bond forming between the children, or any empathy expressed by a child at all, they would immediately notify the superiors, and the child would be “taken away” for a few days. None of the children ever knew what happened to that child. But when they returned, they come back wrong, changed.

 

They came back traumatized and different. Most of them became very cold and distant to the other children, and many of them became cruel and unfeeling, happy to push around and bully the other children. They also became more obedient to the teachers and more eager to hurt others when commanded to.

 

Chara had seen this happen with their own eyes. One of the children who had befriended them was taken away. Someone had snitched on her, and the teachers found that she had hidden books from the outside under her bed. When she returned after a few days, she was no longer friendly and warm. She had become unkind and almost sadistic, bullying her former friends whenever she had the chance to. Chara avoided her from that point on, but was saddened by losing her friendship.

 

-----------

 

Class was as dull and drawn out as it was every day. Chara was usually very bored by it, but had no choice but to pay attention due to the fear of being punished. After the lessons, as they were about to leave, one of their classmates stealthy dropped a note on their desk as he was walking out of the classroom. Passing notes was one of the most common ways the children interacted, and they had learned the art of communicating through notes without being caught.

 

The note, as Chara quickly glanced through it, informed them that a doctor from the infirmary managed to sneak some candies into the facility. The doctor wanted some of the children to go next to a specific window near the infirmary if they wanted the candies.

 

There was an infirmary in the facility for children who were badly injured or sick, Chara knew the place well as they had been sent there a few times after sustaining injuries from the training or from being bullied by some of the children. They headed to the window mentioned in the note, which was hidden away from any security camera. A few children, most who they recognized as their friends, were already waiting outside the window.

 

A few minutes later, a doctor slowly walked by the window. Without faltering in her walk, she stuck her hand out and dropped a small packet of sweets and chocolate out the window. She turned and gave the children a quick smile, looking tired and a little sad, before she left the window.

 

The children excitedly tore open the packet and poured the candies onto the floor. Chara immediately took all the chocolate for themselves.

 

“27!” one of the children exclaimed, turning to Chara with a rather offended expression. He was the classmate who passed the note to them earlier. “Allow the others to have some chocolate as well. It is unfair for you to hoard all of it.”

 

The children in the facility did not have names but were assigned numbers, which they also used to refer to each other when communicating among themselves. Chara’s ‘name’ was 27.53.

 

Chara glared at the other child, numbered 8.6, who was a little bit older and taller than them, still holding the chocolate tightly in their palms. The other children ignored them both, busily distributing the candy between them.

 

“27, you have told me that chocolate is your favorite confectionery, and I understand that. However, please remember that everyone here enjoys it as well. I am sure some of the other children would enjoy a taste of it occasionally.” the child coxed them gently.

 

Chara made a face at him, but sighed, “Very well, 8. I suppose I could spare some of it.” They dropped most of the chocolate back on the floor, and it was immediately scooped up by the other children.

 

They felt disappointed at the loss of their favorite food. However, 8.6’s warm smile cheered them up, and they decided to be satisfied with what they had. Perhaps another member of the faculty would bring them chocolate again someday.

 

After the children were satisfied with what they had, they began to hide the candies in their uniforms, putting them inside their tucked in shirts or blouses rather than their pockets, in case someone stopped them to check the pockets. As they were about to disperse, Chara suddenly noticed two children peering out at them from around a corner. Both of them had a particularly unpleasant grin on their faces.

 

“The Twins!” Chara exclaimed in horror. As soon as the other children heard this, they froze in terror, turning to stare at the twins. Some of the younger ones backed away and hid behind the older children.

 

The Twins, numbered 132 and 135, simply sauntered over. They were clearly enjoying the horrified expressions from the other children.

 

One of the older children stepped towards them, glaring, “Not a single word of this to the other adults, do you both understand?” she demanded.

 

“Oh, of course not,” said 135, as she continued to grin, “We have never snitched on anyone, have we? We are much too good for that.”

 

“Yes you have! You’ve gotten a guard decommissioned because he gave us books!” exclaimed another child.

 

“It was simply because the superiors offered us delicious food if we could give ‘intel’ on why they found books in 74.9’s bedroom.” replied 132, “I have to say, the food they gave us was delicious, much better than the bland sludge they feed you.”

 

“You snitched on 74.9 as well! She used to be friends with us, but then she was taken away. The adults must have done something to her because when she came back, she was mean and distant. She doesn’t talk to us anymore and likes to bully us for no reason!” shouted another child.

 

“That’s because she decked me in the face for snitching on the guard!” 132 responded angrily, as he glowered at them, “She had it coming. Besides, the teachers are happy with how she is now, said something about the ‘experiment’ working and now she has a higher level of violence.”

 

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?” Chara stepped forward with a fist raised, “Clear off! Before I punch you both in the face as well!”

 

“I’d like to see you try!”

 

8.6 immediately placed himself in between them, “Stop that.” he said sternly, “Do not draw any attention to us,” he turned to whisper to Chara, before facing the twins again, “Listen. I shall offer you all the candy I obtained, as long as you don’t breathe a word to anyone. Understand?”

 

The twins glanced at each other, gave a nod, and smiled a sickly sweet smile at him.

 

“Sure, we’ll take it.” 132 said, as they both held out their hands. 8.6 dropped his candy into their palms. The twins giggled, and ran off with the candy.

 

The other children dispersed quickly, worried about being spotted by any other child that would snitch on them, which was the majority of the children in the facility. 8.6 hung back, looking forlorn. Chara watched him for a while.

 

“You...you may have some of my candy, if you like, 8.”

 

He shook his head, “No, 27, that would not be fair. You got it for yourself, I can wait for when someone else offers us confectionary.” he gave them a forlorn smile, “You should go, do not let any adults be suspicious of us.”

 

Chara nodded, and they both went their separate ways. It was better for the children to walk alone, even if they were friends, to avoid raising any suspicion.

 

Lunch came after that, followed by a very short break (which the children took advantage of to hide their sweets in their rooms), and physical training. Another short break followed, where the children took showers and cleaned themselves up before dinner.

 

Chara sometimes liked to spend break time alone. There was a specific window they enjoyed looking out of when they had the time to. It was located quite high up, above the school building. They had to climb out of a window of the highest classroom and scramble onto the roof, where they would be unseen by anyone. There they could sit quietly and gaze out the window.

 

The window faced another facility in the research village. This facility seemed to house scientists studying botany, as it was surrounded by a lush garden full of strange plants. Chara especially liked a section of the garden that had a carpet of bright yellow flowers. They had no idea what the flowers were called, but they loved them all the same.

 

The flowers shone golden in the evening sun. Gazing at the flowers and the rest of the garden comforted them, and gave them hope that they could leave the facility one day.

 

They began climbing off the roof and back into the school building after staring outside for a while. As they were exiting the building, they noticed a commotion going on near the infirmary. Their thoughts immediately went to the doctor that had given out the sweets earlier that day.  

 

Chara rushed over, pushing their way through the crowd of children and teachers who were gathered around the infirmary door. Their fear was confirmed as they saw the doctor being dragged out of the building by a guard. She was pulled along by one arm as she screamed and kicked.

 

For a moment she managed to get loose, and seemed like she was about to escape into the crowd. But another nearby guard simply fired a taser stun gun at her, subduing her. She was then dragged away.

 

Most of the crowd began dispersing, being used to seeing such cruelty. But Chara still stood there, petrified in shock. How did the other adults know about this doctor helping them?

 

They noticed that a few of the kids who accepted the sweets, including 8.6, had also been part of the crowd watching the doctor’s arrest. 8.6 was staring into the distance, with a furious glare in his eyes. Following his gaze, they noticed the Twins standing a little way off, giggling among themselves.

 

“YOU!” 8.6 shouted, heading over to the Twins, his footsteps heavy. The Twins tried to sneak away, but he was fast enough to catch up to them, and placed a hand on each of their shoulders, gripping them so tightly that they winched in pain.

 

“You told them, did you not? You told the superiors about the doctor!”

 

“Okay, fine, we did. What about it?” 132 answered, returning 8.6’s glare.

 

“You made a promise that you would not do that! I even gave you my share of candy for your silence!” argued 8.6.

 

135 laughed, “As if your stupid candy is any better than what the superiors reward us with when we snitch! Of course we were going to tell on the doctor anyway!”

 

“Yeah, what are you gonna do about it anyway, huh? You can’t hurt us, because we’ll just tell the superiors that you all have been getting presents from some of the adults!” continued 132.

 

“You cannot do that!” shouted 8.6.

 

“Yes we can, so you’re going to have to do whatever we say from now on, or else we’ll tell on you. For instance, you better let go of us now, 8, or we’ll get the adults to take you away like they do to kids who don’t listen, and you’ll come back different!”

 

8.6 hesitated, before releasing them and stepping back. He was still glaring at them, but looked rather anxious.

 

“Good, good.” the Twins’ grins grew more wicked. 135 suddenly threw a punch at him, hitting him right in the face and causing him to stumble. He immediately lifted his fist, ready to fight back.

 

“No hitting us, 8,” cried 135 gleefully, “Or we’ll tell on you, and all those other kids too. Do you want to be responsible for all of them being punished as well?”

 

8.6 gritted his teeth, shaking in fury. However, he lowered his fist, and braced himself for more pain.

 

132 gave him a punch in the face as well, followed by a punch in the gut by 135. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain. The Twins then began to take turns beating up, clearly enjoying themselves.

 

“Stop hurting him!” shrieked Chara, rushing towards them. A few of their friends ran forward as well, but did not dare to intervene.

 

Chara tried to grab hold of the Twins, attempting to drag them away from 8.6, who was now covered in bruises and bleeding from his nose and mouth. 135 simply shook Chara off, and laughed at them.

 

“Silly 27! Think you can stop us too? Of course you can’t, because we’ll snitch on you, and on everyone else as well!”

 

“No you will not!” shouted Chara, their anger rising faster than they could control, “I will not let you harm anyone ever again!”

 

“Oh yeah? And how will you stop us? Go on, 27, do your worse.” as he said that, he kicked 8.6 in the face, causing the boy to whimper in pain.

 

That was the last straw for Chara. Something inside them seemed to snap, and they shoved 135 to the ground. Before he could get up, they pinned him down to the ground with their own body, their hands wrapping around his neck and squeezing as tightly as they could.

 

135 was taken by surprise, and barely had time to fight back. He began choking, hand desperately clawing at Chara’s, trying to pry them off. Chara ignored him, still holding onto his throat with a vice-like grip until his arms went limp and fell to his side.

 

It was 132’s turn to fly into a rage. “Let him go!” she screamed, launching herself at Chara.

 

Chara was ready for her. They ducked out of the way, landing a fist on the side of her face, causing her to roll onto the floor, stunned. They immediately did the same thing to her, pinning her to the ground and strangling her.

 

“27...stop…” gasped 8.6 weakly. Chara ignored him, and continued to squeeze 132’s neck until she too went limp.

 

They were so blinded by their rage that they didn’t notice what they were doing, until a teacher that had noticed the commotion dragged them away from the two bodies.





Chapter Text

Chara was taken away.

 

After the teacher had pulled them away from the bodies of 132 and 135, they were captured and detained by a guard, and locked in a small, bare cell for the night. Their behavior was reported to the facility superiors.

 

The next day, after an uncomfortable night of sleeping on the cold, hard floor of the cell, they were woken up and dragged along by guards through a long corridor they had never seen before.

 

They were then flung roughly into a large circular room, its ceiling taller than it was wide. Near the ceiling, far above them, were glass windows overlooking the room. On the ceiling were two spotlights that shone down on them. There were three thick metal doors in the room, one of which they had been thrown through. The floor, ceiling, and walls of the room were pure white, aside from maroon and black splatters across the floor and walls.

 

The metal door they entered through was locked mechanically. As they slowly got up, their arms and legs bruised from being dragged along, they heard an adult voice blaring from a speaker above them.

 

“Subject number 27.53,” said the voice, “You have been discovered to have murdered two of your classmates outside of your teachers’ orders. You are also suspected to have received unauthorized gifts from various members of the faculty.”

 

Chara didn’t dare to respond. They gazed upwards, squinting at the brightness of the spotlights, trying to see who was speaking. They could vaguely see silhouettes of various adults looking down on them through the windows. Those must be the dreaded superiors who ran the facility.

 

“This cannot stand. You are to become a soldier, the hope for the future of humanity. Disobedience and empathy will only dilute the power and potential your soul possesses. However, your eagerness to kill is very commendable. As such, it has been decided that if you pass a test, you shall be returned to your peers.”

 

And what test would that be? Thought Chara, feeling rather frightened but determined not to show it.

 

One of the three metal doors opened, and the doctor who had given them the sweets the day before was flung in. Her hands were bound tightly with rope, and she was bruised as well from having being dragged around. As she weakly tried to get up from the floor, she caught sight of Chara, and began backing away.

 

“Simply end this doctor’s life as you have done to your classmates.”

 

The doctor let out a whimper, stumbling backwards until her back was against one of the walls.

 

Chara felt sick to their stomach.

 

“I...I cannot.” they said softly.

 

“But yet you murdered your peers with such ease? Why is it so hard for you now?” said another voice in a mocking tone.

 

“Because they harmed 8! And threatened to harm me and the other children as well!” Chara shouted towards the windows above them.

 

There was some muttering, before the first voice continued. “Showing empathy is strictly prohibited. We see now that you only killed them out of empathy for others. This feeling must be removed from you, and it can be removed if you kill this doctor.”

 

“Why do you wish for me to murder this doctor so desperately? How will it remove my “empathy”?” asked Chara angrily.

 

More muttering, and a pause followed. Then, the third door to the room opened, revealing a child around the same age as Chara.

 

Chara recognized her at once.

 

“I am sure you are familiar with Subject 74.9, one of your classmates.” said a third voice, “Subject 74.9 has once accepted gifts from a certain disloyal guard of this facility. She has also been discovered to be friends with other subjects. As punishment, 74.9 was forced to terminate the guard. She has also subsequently been made to terminate other people as well.”

 

“Why would you make her do that?” asked Chara, as they faced 74.9. They took a step back from her, as her cruel, almost emotionless smile disturbed them.

 

“You should know very well by now that human SOULs can grow stronger with the lack of love and compassion. However, it was recently discovered that for a human to reach their full potential, for them to be truly powerful, they must kill.”

 

“W-what!?”

 

“Senseless violence and murder allows one to grow more distant to people around them, thus removing traces of empathy in their SOULs. This phenomenon has been observed in surviving human veterans of the Human-Monster War, as well as hardened criminals. This theory has been dubbed “Level of Violence”. The more a person kills out of cruelty and hatred, the more powerful their SOUL becomes. It can be represented as a person gaining points of execution and their level increasing with every kill. We have been testing this theory on disobedient students, such as Subject 74.9. The experiment has since been proven to be a success.”

 

That explained why all the children who were taken away came back so different. Chara shuddered, wishing that they could leave.

 

A bright flash of light lit up the room for a brief second. Chara blinked, their eyes hurting, and became aware of a bright red heart-shaped glow in front of their chest. Above it was a number, “2”, glowing white. As Chara stumbled backwards in shock, the shape and number simply followed them.

 

“We are able to visualize the SOULs of humans, as well as data on its condition, with the help of technology we have developed. Humans used to use magic to do this. However, magic has mostly fallen out of common knowledge these days.” explained the voice, “You can see that your level of violence is now 2. It has been raised from its usual 1 due to your murder of your peers.”

 

Chara noticed that 74.9’s SOUL was visible as well, being represented by a yellow heart, and on it glowed the number “15”. They could also vaguely see the doctor’s green SOUL with a “1” above it.

 

“The more that number rises, the stronger you become. We have seen that people with high level of violence have a stronger physique. They are able to withstand attacks better, and are known to fight more efficiently. You have been taught to not show any compassion, any love, to others. This allows you to gain levels of violence more easily, as you will not feel sorry for the people you murder.”

 

“Do this enough times, and you will be able to reach your absolute, your full potential. You have already murdered two of your peers. Surely you could repeat that several more times, and grow into a fine soldier, the future of humanity.”

 

Chara shuddered. They looked back at the doctor, who was still backed up against the wall and staring at them in wide-eyed terror. They did not like the idea of having to take the life of another person.

 

“74.9, give 27.53 a demonstration,” commanded one of the voices.

 

74.9 nodded. From a sheath around her waist, she pulled out a combat knife. She sauntered towards the doctor, ignoring the poor woman’s pleas, and swiftly slashed the knife at her arm. The doctor shrieked in pain.

 

Chara flinched.

 

74.9 was unruffled. She continued to slash at the doctor’s arm until her lab coat sleeve was covered in blood. The doctor was now sobbing, gasping in pain, but still trying desperately to crawl away from 74.9.

 

74.9 giggled and stood back, watching the doctor’s blood stain her tattered white sleeve, as if satisfied by her handiwork. She calmly turned to Chara, and held out the knife towards them.

 

“Take it, 27.” she said.

 

“N-no…”

 

“The superiors want you to finish the doctor off. Take the knife and do as I did.”

 

Chara shook their head.

 

A shrill, ear-shattering noise rang out from the speaker. Chara automatically covered both of their ears, wincing in pain. 74.9 covered one of her ears, grimacing, her other hand still holding the knife out towards Chara. She yelled something at Chara, but they could not hear her over the awful noise.

 

They began to realize that the infernal noise would not end until they took the knife. With no choice left, they did. The noise stopped, and one of the voices said, “Now, do as you have been commanded.”

 

Chara’s ears were still ringing from the noise. They stumbled over to the doctor, staring awkwardly at her, and then at the blood-covered knife.

 

“Do it, you idiot! Or the superiors will turn on that noise again! You don’t have a choice!” shouted 74.9.

 

Chara gritted their teeth, turned away from the doctor, and brought down the knife on her repeatedly. They kept stabbing until her screaming ceased, and she fell over on the ground with a thump.

 

Chara lowered the knife, and realized that they were splattered with the doctor’s blood. Blood pooled out from her body, soaking into her white uniform and staining the floor dark red. The green SOUL stayed over her body for a few seconds, before shattering to pieces and vanishing.

 

The smell of the blood and the sight of the body was too much for Chara. They dropped the knife, feeling like they were about to vomit. Tears filled their eyes.

 

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” 74.9 asked smugly. “The guard I killed went down easily as well. He stood no chance against me.”

 

One of the voices from above blared again, “Well done, 27.53. Now, stop crying and pick up that knife. Your training isn’t over yet.”

 

Chara gazed upwards at the windows, still trying to keep the contents of their stomach down and wiping the tears from their eyes with the back of their sleeve, “Th-there is more?”

 

“Of course,” 74.9 replied before the superiors could, “They’ll be sending it a lot of other people for you to kill. As for the blood and smell, you'll get used to it.”

 

“What!?

 

“Don’t worry about that now, 27. First of all, look at your SOUL.”

 

Chara looked down and realized that the above their SOUL had changed to “3”.

 

“The more you kill, the higher your level will be,” continued 74.9, “It’ll get easier and easier as you keep going. You kind of care less about people they make you kill, you just get used to it and keep going. And, just a small tip,” she leaned over to Chara, the smug smile returning to her face, “The more brutally you kill, the faster your level will rise. I’ve tried it myself. If your victims are begging you for mercy, you know you’re doing something right.”

 

Chara began to feel sick again. “W...who do they want me to kill? Where do they obtain so many people to be used as victims without running out of faculty members?”

 

“Oh, they just use criminals from outside the facility. Apparently there are many bad people outside this facility. Those who are caught are usually punished and one of the most severe punishments is death. I suppose the facility obtained these people since they’re no longer wanted by the outside world anymore, and use them in our training.”

 

“Enough talk, children,” the superiors began to sound impatient, “Take up the knife once again, Subject 27.53. When we are satisfied with your progress, you and Subject 74.9 may leave.”

 

“I...I would like to leave now,” Chara whimpered. The smell was getting worse and they felt sicker by the minute.

 

“It is not for you to choose.” Said one of the voices coldly. “Here is your next test.”

 

One of the three metal doors opened again. This time, a man in dirty orange clothes was shoved into the room. He squinted in the bright light and eyed the two children in confusion as the door slammed shut behind them.

 

Chara could see that his SOUL was purple, and above it was the number “10”.

 

“This is a dangerous person,” the voice said. The man responded by looking up and mouthing the word “What?”. “He was arrested for multiple murders, and has been known to be extremely aggressive. Now, Subject 27.53, you must face him, and learn to fight before you kill.”

 

“The hell are you talking about!?” shouted the man. “You want these kids to kill me!?” His yells were ignored by the superiors.

 

“Attack him with your knife, 27.53.”

 

Chara, hands shaking a little, bent down to pick up the knife again. They pointed the blade towards the man, but was too afraid to attack.

 

“Come on, 27,” said 74.9 with a groan, “We’ve been trained to fight for years, you know how to attack. Get it over with!”

 

“We have only been made to fight dummies and each other, but we have never been forced to kill before! This is different!” retorted Chara, not daring to take their eyes off the man.

 

The man gave a short, nervous sounding laugh, finding the idea of a child murdering him absurd, but feeling anxious all the same. He then saw the body of the doctor on the floor, now surrounded by a pool of blood.

 

He turned back to Chara, and noticed the blood on their knife and blood splatters on their clothes. He began to look rather fearful.

 

“Subject 27.53, hesitation is detrimental to your success. If you do not kill your enemies, they will kill you first. Take his life before he can take yours.”

 

The man looked even more horrified at that statement from the superiors. In his fear, he instinctively rushed at Chara, attempting to snatch the knife away from them.

 

Chara let out a scream, ducking out of the way. The man was much taller than them and rather muscular, which made them even more intimidated by him.

 

He turned to them, hand still raised, and ran at them again. Again Chara dodged, backing away from him, still with their knife pointed at him.

 

This went on for a while, with the man chasing Chara around the room, attempting to grab at them or their knife, while Chara continued to duck out of the way. Finally, simply wanting this fight to end, they stabbed the knife at him as hard as they could.

 

The knife went through his stomach. He gasped as blood began to pour out of his wound onto his orange clothes.

 

Chara took this chance to stab him repeatedly in his stomach and chest, tears filling their eyes once again. They kept stabbing, still ducking from his blows and ignoring his screams until he finally collapsed.

 

Chara fell to their knees, exhausted. They watched the man’s SOUL shatter, starting to feel sick again as they smelt the blood flowing from the body.

 

“Well done, 27.53,” the superior’s repeated.

 

“Why?” They asked weakly, still gripping the knife, “Why would you make me do this?”

 

“Understand, 27.53, that if you had not killed him, he would have killed you,” said one of the voices, “Keep in mind, when in battle, it’s kill or be killed. Do not think: only attack your enemies, and show no mercy.”

 

Tears began to run down Chara’s face.

 

“Stop crying,” 74.9 said unkindly, “Crying is not going to do you any good. It’ll just make you more sympathetic.”

 

“I...I a...am not c...crying from c...compassion,” stuttered Chara through their tears, “I...I am cr...crying b...because I am a...a...afraid.”

 

“Then laugh,” 74.9 advised, “Laugh whenever you feel like crying, smile when you start to feel sorry for someone or feel scared. That’s what I did, and now I can push aside any adverse feeling with ease.”

 

Chara forced themselves to laugh. They did not have much of a choice. Their laughter grew uncontrollable, almost hysterical, as they gazed at the two bodies through their tears.

 

----------

 

Over the course of two months, Chara’s training continued.

 

74.9 was right. It did get easier over time. Chara found that the victims were easier to kill, no matter how violent they were. They also found that it got easier to ignore their pleas or their cries of pain.

 

Every time they felt a pang of guilt or compassion, they simply smiled and laughed. 74.9 was right about that too, it made them feel better about the atrocities they were committing.

 

It came to a point when they no longer cared who they were made to kill. When they thought back on this, they were never sure if every victim they murdered were criminals. Some were aggressive and fought back, while some simply cowered in fear. Some were tall and strong, but others frail and small. Some were adults or elderly, but some were very young, almost Chara’s age.

 

Chara did not care. They had lost the capacity to care.

 

74.9 was made to stay with them throughout the training and acted as a mentor. They both were allowed to rest and sleep in a comfortable dorm room. The room was had four soft, cozy beds, and was much wider than their cells. They were also given delicious food and expensive candies.

 

Chara began to understand why many children at the facility were so obedient to the superiors and willing to betray their peers with no hesitation, if these were the incentives they were given.

 

As their training drew to an end, they were brought to the circular room one last time. 74.9 was taken along with them.

 

“I am sure you have realized at this point that your training has gone on longer than any subject before you,” the voice of one of the superiors announced as they entered the room, “This is because we have been testing the effectiveness of this training as compared to your regular forms of training. We have concluded that this training is far more successful. As such, we have decided to gradually extend this form of training to the other children. A fellow classmate of yours has chosen. Your final test, Subject 27.53, is to train him to be like you.”

 

That sounds simple, Chara thought to themselves.

 

One of the metal doors open, a rather lanky child was shoved in and landed face first on the floor. Chara took a step back in surprise.

 

“8!?”

 

8.6 looked up at the sound of Chara’s voice.

 

“27!” His eyes lit up in joy, “You’re alive! I thought-”

 

“Subject 8.6, you have been chosen to undergo a test. If you succeed, you will be able to reach your full potential.”

 

“Wha-” 8.6 gazed upwards at the windows, still sprawled on the floor.

 

Another door of the room opened, and a new victim, hands bound together, was pushed in through the door. Like every other victim from before, he appeared very confused and terrified.

 

“Take the knife from 27.53, and end that person’s life.”

 

8.6 stood up, his expression bewildered. “27, wh-what is happening here?” he asked, turning to Chara, “What kind of test is this?”

 

Chara simply smiled at him. It was a hollow, blank-looking smile they had developed over the course of their training. 8.6 looked rather afraid, having never seen them smile like this before.

 

“There is not much to this test, really,” Chara replied, “All you are required to do is to take the life of people the superiors send to you.”

 

8.6 shook his head, gazing as his eventual victim cowered in the corner, trembling.

 

“It was difficult for me as well when I first underwent this test,” Chara explained, taking their combat knife out from its sheath, “But I have learned to no longer feel concerned for others, and this training has allowed me to grow stronger. You should do the same, 8. It is an exhilarating feeling.” They held out the knife to him, coxing him to take it.

 

8.6 drew back from the knife, still shaking his head. “I can’t,” he answered, “I simply can’t. What is the point of this test? I will gain nothing from it, and I can’t bring myself to take the life of another.”

 

74.9, who was leaning against a wall with her arms folded, sighed in frustration, “Do we have to do this again? 27, give him a quick rundown about Levels of Violence, and why it will make him stronger.”

 

Chara did so, giving the same explanation the superiors did to them. 8.6 simply responded to this by grimacing in disgust.

 

“That sounds terrible, in every possible way. Is our regular training regime not enough to make us stronger? Why do we have to sacrifice another life for this?”

 

The superiors, right on cue, switched on the light that allowed them to see their SOULs. Chara’s SOUL now had the number “10” above it. 8.6’s blue SOUL still had a “1”.

 

Chara began to explain the concept of the levels of violence to 8.6, about how taking others’ lives was a much more effective way of growing stronger than simply doing physical training. 8.6 still looked disgusted, and was horrified when he eventually understood the meaning behind Chara’s and 74.9’s high numbers.

 

“I...I am sorry, 27, I still can’t do this,” he said obstinately.

 

Once again, due to the superiors growing impatient with 8.6’s stubbornness, the awful, shrill noise rang out from the speakers. The three children shielded their ears, looking pained, while Chara desperately tried to shove the knife into 8.6’s hands.

 

8.6 finally consented to grab to the knife. He took a few steps over to the cowering person, still shaking his head slightly, his breath hitching and his hands trembling.

 

He stood there for a few minutes, unable to make a move. His hesitation caused the horrible noise to sound again. For a moment, he stood fast, refusing to comply. But when he turned and saw the pained looked on Chara’s and 74.9’s faces, he realized he had no choice in the matter.

 

He leaned over his victim, holding the knife tightly, and began to stab him over and over in the chest. He gasped and turned away as blood splattered onto his clothes and face. The victim screamed, but he forced himself to ignore the cries and did not stop until the victim slumped over, and laid still.

 

The noise from the speakers finally stopped as the victim’s SOUL shattered. Blood pooled out from the body.

 

8.6 turned away, dropping the knife, and vomited on the floor. He then laid down in the fetal position, tears streaming from his wide, terrified eyes.

 

His test that day had to be ended early because he absolutely refused to move from that position no matter what Chara, 47.9, or the superiors did.

 

----------

 

“Crybaby,” 74.9 mocked 8.6 after they had returned to the dorm room, and were preparing for bed, “That was just one person, wait until later in your training when you have to do away with several in one day!”

 

8.6, now cleaned up after taking a long bath, simply sat on his bed with his knees pulled up to his body, still looking traumatized. “So this is what they do to anyone who was taken away,” he muttered, rocking back and forth slowly, “That’s why they changed, that’s why they all changed so much. Horrible...horrible…”

 

“It will get easier,” Chara commented, feeling rather sorry for him, “You will realize that your concern for your victims lessens over time, and you will gain more control over your emotions. You learn to smile and laugh instead of cry, and it is a nice feeling to not care.”

 

“But, I do not want to not care. I know our teachers and trainers have taught us to show no concern to our peers, but I do not like that. It feels nice to help others. I know that these feelings are diluting the power of my SOUL, but does it matter?”

 

“Then you won’t become a good soldier who can protect humanity,” 74.9 interjected.

 

“Then so be it. I do not want to become cruel just so I can become strong. I’ve never realized it before until now, but the entire point of our training is so that we will kill other beings later on. Indeed those beings will not be human, but I’m sure they’re still sentient if they’re capable of waging war, and I do not like that prospect.”

 

“But that is our entire purpose,” Chara retorted, “When we are out there, it is kill or be killed. You must force yourself to do it, so that you too may grow stronger, and reach your absolute.”

 

“Yes, I do realize our purpose is to be soldiers, but surely we do not have to lose our emotions in the process? Surely there are other ways to grow strong without having to lose the ability to feel compassion and love? I also do not like the fact that we must sacrifice others for our own gain. It doesn’t seem right, and just because the adults encourage us to do it with good food and comfortable beds doesn’t make it any better.”

 

“This is stupid,” 74.9 groaned, placing a palm on her forehead, “Then what do you propose we do? Again, this is our entire purpose, to get stronger and eventually fight supernatural beings. I hate to burst your bubble, 8, but you really have no choice in this matter. So stop being such a crybaby and stop being so loving towards everyone. It’s pathetic.”

 

“27 and 74, do you not realize what this training has done to you? You have turned cold and malicious, you are becoming exactly like the bullies you hated so much.” 8.6 turned to them and gave them a desperate look, “You now find enjoyment in harming others, and you can no longer feel sympathy. We were all friends once, and it hurts to think that because of this, we will no longer be friends and can no longer trust each other because, at any moment, we might turn on each other to gain favor from the superiors.”

 

Chara’s eyes widened at that statement, and they gave an uncomfortable aside glance. 74.9 continued to argue.

 

“I don’t see what’s so bad about that. I still feel it’s better to not care and to not feel anything. I haven’t shed a tear or felt sad ever since I completed my training, and it feels wonderful.”

 

“Again, that sounds terrible, being unable to feel anything. Do you not miss the times when you were friends with some of our classmates? And how you defended us by punching 135 in the face?”

 

“I…” 74.9 hesitated, briefly looking a little sad before raising her voice, “That’s all in the past now! And I don’t want to think about it!”

 

“74, please listen, I-”

 

“No, I...I see now,” Chara said, interrupting the other two children’s argument, “You are right, 8. I really...I really have grown distant, have I not?”

 

They laid their hand over their chest, where their SOUL manifested, “I cannot feel the same way I did before this training started. When you mentioned the time when we were friends, I realized I barely recall that joy I felt when playing with all our friends, or when both of us would hide away together and simply chat. I do not want that feeling to fade away, I want to be able to remember that.” Their expression grew more forlorn as they spoke, “I know that the more I go on with this training, the more I will forget that feeling. I...I do not want that to happen...”

 

8.6 reached out and gently placed a hand on their lap, “I suppose you could try to hold onto those feelings as much as you can, despite the cruelty of this place. But I cannot think of a way out of this, because the superiors will simply torment us until we comply with them.”

 

“Perhaps...perhaps...we could run away from here?”

 

8.6 glanced up at them, looking hopeful for a second, before shaking his head. “We cannot escape that easily. There are guards everywhere around the facility. I have heard about some children attempting to escape, only to immediately be captured, and never seen again.”

 

“No, 8, listen to me, I have thought about this before, but I was simply too scared to carry it out alone. I often climb up to the top floor of the classrooms. There is a skylight at the roof, and from there I am able to gaze into the outside world. If we were able to break the glass of the skylight, we could escape!”

 

8.6's eyes shone at their suggestion, “Do you have any ideas on what we could use to break the glass?”

 

“The hand weights we use during physical training at the gym could suffice. And to leave the building, we could use the rope we use during climbing exercise. We simply have to secure it to a pole and climb down the building with it.”

 

“27! You are an absolute genius! I can feel it: freedom is in our hands!”

 

“I just never dared to do it alone. Will you come with me?”

 

8.6 nodded, “Yes, yes I will. I believe in you, and I trust that your plan will work. I will help you and follow you during the escape. I noticed there is far less security here than at our regular cells, and I believe we can slip into the corridors easily. They do not lock our dorm door here as they do with our cells.”

 

74.9 chose that moment to slam her hand down on a table, making them both jump. “Yes, hello, you both do realize I am still here, listening to your plans, right? I could report you to the superiors at any moment.”

 

Chara and 8.6 turned to her. “You can come with us, 74,” 8.6 suggested, ignoring her threat, “We can all escape together, and you will not be forced to undergo training anymore.”

 

74.9 was taken aback, and for a moment her face showed genuine emotion, looking hopeful and happy for a brief second at the idea of escaping. Then she looked conflicted, worried, before finally shaking her head, and glaring at 8.6.

 

“No. I won’t leave. The plan is foolish and will not work. And I really should stay, I need to keep training to grow stronger.” there was a hint of doubt in her voice as she replied.

 

The other two children looked a little disappointed. 8.6 turned back to Chara. “Well, it should be late enough at this point. Shall we began our escape?”

 

Chara nodded, full of determination.

 

They both headed to the door, sliding it open carefully and peering out into the darkened corridors. There were no signs of life, so they quietly slipped out of the room, hearts racing.

 

Before they left, 8.6 once again said to 74.9, “You can still come with us, we could always use an extra set of eyes and ears.”

 

74.9 still stubbornly shook her head. However, she looked rather tearful as she watched her two old friends slip away into the darkness, and wondered if she would ever see them again.

 

Chapter Text

Chara and 8.6 sneaked along the dark corridors, being as quiet as possible. There was no one around aside from the occasional security guard on night patrol, which they avoided by hiding until the guard had passed by.

 

They arrived at the gym and entered through one of the open windows. Chara grabbed two heavy hand weights, while 8.6 took the longest, strongest rope he could find in the storeroom.

 

With bated breaths, they ran silently to the classrooms. The windows of this building were closed and locked, but Chara broke one of the windows with the weights. They entered through the window and ran to the top floor.

 

Carefully, they climbed out of the top floor windows. Chara headed straight to the skylight they were so familiar with, having looked out of it almost every day. 8.6 tied the rope tightly to a nearby pillar, getting ready to fling the rope out of the skylight. Chara began to smack the glass on the window repeatedly with the weights. It was much thicker than the glass of the classroom window, and it took them a while to even make some cracks in it.

 

After several tries, the glass shattered.

 

A siren immediately went off.

 

The children began to panic. 8.6 hurriedly threw the rest of the rope out the window, and both of them immediately began to climb down the rope, Chara ahead of 8.6. They had to leave as fast as they could before anyone in the facility could take action.

 

The rope was a little too short and dangled just over the wall around the facility. Chara held their breath, and took a flying leap from the rope to the ground outside of the wall, narrowly missing the barbed wire on top of the wall. They landed safely without any injuries, thanks to the training they had endured.

 

8.6 did the same, but one of his legs grazed the barbed wire as he fell. He whimpered as he hit the ground, hands grabbing his scratched leg.

 

A spotlight from the facility shone down onto the two children. The front gate of the facility swung open and a team of armed guards, some holding guard dogs by the leash, exited the gate and ran towards them. They had been discovered.

 

Chara grabbed 8.6’s arm, pulling him up. Hand-in-hand, they began to run from the facility as fast as they could.

 

A wide street ran through the closed city. They followed this street, and eventually found the exit to the city, a large metal gate with the name of the city engraved on it. It was slightly ajar and had a few security guards watching it. They slipped out of the gates before the guards could ask any questions.

 

Outside was a road leading to a highway, surrounded by woods. Not wanting to be seen or caught, they slipped off into the woods and began running through the trees.

 

All the while, they could hear the shouts and footsteps of the facility guards, as well as the barking of hounds. The noises became more distant as they fled through the woods, but was always following them.

 

At this point, the children were exhausted. 8.6 was now limping from his injury, and Chara’s lungs felt like they were about to burst. Fear and the prospect of finally being free were the only two things that kept them going.

 

Eventually, they reached a cliff at the edge of the woods. Below them was a wide, surging river.

 

They halted, unsure of what to do. As they hesitated, they could hear the shouts of the guards and the baying of the dogs growing closer and closer.

 

“We have to jump,” Chara finally said, even though they felt their palms get sweaty at the thought of leaping off such a tall cliff, and landing into the swirling waters below. “I can see some logs and branches floating in the river. Perhaps we will be able to grab them to keep afloat.”

 

8.6 hesitated but eventually nodded. “I suppose there is no other way. We should hold hands so we will not be separated when we hit the water. L-”

 

But before he could finish, they saw the guards surrounding them around the cliff, guns pointing at them. A few gunshots were fired in their direction.

 

8.6 immediately threw himself in front of Chara, letting out a sharp cry as one of the bullets pierced the back of his torso. He slumped over in pain. Chara, thinking quickly, grabbed his hands, dragged him towards the edge of the cliff, and jumped.

 

The world seemed to turn upside down for a moment, until they finally hit the surface of the river.

 

It was freezing cold, and landing from that height hurt. Chara was stunned for a moment before they burst through the water surface with a gasp. They knew how to swim from the training at the facility, but they were exhausted from running, and the water was flowing so fast they could barely keep afloat.

 

They flailed around, desperately trying to reach for any of the logs or branches that were floating around them. Failing to grab anything, they sunk back down below the surface.

 

They felt a hand grab hold of their wrist. 8.6 had managed to survive the jump, although he too was struggling to stay afloat. He pulled them back to the surface, and moved their arm towards a nearby log, which they immediately grabbed onto.

 

However, the wound on his leg and back was causing him too much pain, and he was feeling faint from losing blood. He was unable to grab onto the log, and giving one last, desperate gasp of air, sank down into the water.

 

Chara tried to reach for 8.6. Their hand groped around in the water, but they could not grab him in time. They could only watch helplessly as he sank down into the murky, churning waters, too tired to struggle for air, never to surface again.

 

They passed out, and awoke when the sky was bright and clear. By some miracle they were still holding onto the log, and the river had brought them far away from the facility, to a place completely unfamiliar to them.

 

Feeling a little more energetic, they began steering the log towards the riverbank. The flow of water was much gentler and slower here, so they managed this with little struggle. They then dragged themselves onto the riverbank, and laid on the rocks, staring up into the sky. They were completely drenched, but was soon dried by the heat from the sun.

 

Chara took several deep breaths, breathing in fresh air and feeling the sunshine for the first time in their lives. They admired how blue the sky was, and how green the trees around them were. They had never dreamed of seeing nature up close before. Joy rushed through them as they realized that they were finally free, finally out of the facility.

 

However, Chara soon noticed that they were all alone. 8.6 was nowhere to be seen.

 

They were not able to save him.

 

Guilt, sorrow, and loneliness washed over them. In their intense grief, they began laughing hysterically out of habit. When they could laugh no more, they broke down into tears. They curled into a ball on the ground, covered their face with their hands, and started to cry and scream uncontrollably.

 

Much later, when the tears could no longer come, they wiped their face with the back of their sleeve, stood up, and began walking away from the river.

 

The next month was a blur to them. They spent these days wandering aimlessly, walking along roads and dirt paths, sleeping under trees and on benches. They walked through several villages and small towns. They watched in interest at how humans outside the facility lived, how they had their own homes and had vehicles to drive around in.

 

The loneliness they felt during those days were overwhelming. They missed the children at the facility, especially 8.6. Life was torturous there, but at least they were never alone. As they wandered around, they felt pained when they saw children with their parents or children playing with their friends.

 

The people who saw them thought they were simply a homeless child. Most people ignored them. Some people shunned them, shooed them away, or even spat at them. They did meet some kind people, who gave them a little bit of food which helped them survive those days. A good hearted person even gave them a old striped sweater and an a pair of rather tattered shorts. They were glad to get rid of their old clothes so it was less likely they would be found and captured by people from the facility.

 

While they wandered through one of the town, they found a discarded flyer with a map about nearby tourist attractions. One of the attractions listed was a mountain called Mt. Ebott. They recalled that some of the history lessons at the facility talked about this mountain, and that it was where the monsters were trapped under after their defeat.

 

This piqued their interest. Having heard so much about this location, they wanted to see it in person. They set off, following the directions on the map.

 

People who wanted to tour the Mt. Ebott were only allowed in the forest around the mountain, going onto the mountain was strictly forbidden. There was still fear and superstition surrounding it. Going up the mountain had been seen as bad luck even centuries before the place was turned into a tourist trap.

 

After an hour of staying there, Chara got bored of wandering around the forest and listening to tour guides talking about the history of Ebott. They sneaked away towards the foot of the mountain.

 

A tall wire fence had been set up to prevent tourists from heading up the mountain, but after a while they managed to find some rusted and frayed wires in the fence, and carefully wiggled their way through.

 

Before they could start exploring the place, rain began pouring from the sky. They had never experienced rain before, and while they knew what it was due to the books they’d read, they didn’t like it. The rain was soaking through their clothes and making them feel cold.

 

The trees did not offer much shelter, so they ran from tree to tree until they stumbled upon a little cave. It seemed like a good place to hide until the rain stopped.

 

They entered the cave and decided to go in deeper to explore it. It was dark and they did not see a system of roots spread all over the floor of the cave. They tripped, and fell down a large cliff in the ground, shrieking in terror.

 

----------

 

“Hello?”

 

Chara stirred.

 

“Oh! You’ve fallen down, haven’t you? Are you okay?”

 

They found themselves lying prone on damp soil, still alive after the fall somehow. They pulled themselves up, trying to see who was talking to them.

 

A very strange looking creature, around their height, took a step back from them. Chara had never seen a goat before, not even in the books they’d read. But it was still surprising for them to see a goat standing on its hind legs, having paws rather than hooves, and wearing clothes.

 

“You don’t look like any monster I’ve ever seen,” the creature continued, “That’s weird.”

 

Monster? This must be one of those monsters they learned about at the facility. However, the textbooks at the facility had always painted the monsters in a bad light, making them seem like mindless, horrifying, ugly creatures. They never expected an actual monster to look so soft and fluffy, and speak to them so kindly.

 

“Here, get up.” The goat monster helped them up, and placed one of their arms around his shoulder, “Let me take you back to my mom and dad. They’ll heal you right up.” He began to walk them through an archway.

 

“By the way, what’s your name?” asked the monster, giving them a warm smile.

 

“My name is…” Chara thought quickly for a word, as they wanted to discard their number to remove any associates they had with the facility. Not being very creative, the only word they could think of at the moment was “character”.

 

“My name is Chara.”

 

“Chara?” The monster let out a small, bleating laugh, “That’s a nice name. Come on, Chara, we’re almost home.”

 

----------

 

Life was so much better Underground.

 

They had a family. They had two parents who loved them dearly as if they were their own child. They even had a brother, their best friend, who would always be by their side.

 

They had good food, they made good friends, and had all the books they could ever want to read.

 

Everyone in the monster kingdom looked up to them because they were part of the royal family.

 

They were finally happy.

 

What could go wrong…?

 

----------

 

“You said that human child will be the hope for all of us monsters.”

 

“Yes! You did say that, Your Majesties. But the child has done nothing for us yet!”

 

“Exactly. We’re still stuck down here, behind that damned barrier. It’s been a century by now, maybe even more. Many monsters have died, and those who are still alive are worried they will be long dead before we can escape!”

 

“We’re running out of hope, Your Majesties. Some monsters are falling down because of hopelessness. The child must do something. It has been five years since they arrived, and so far the so-called ‘future of monsters and humans’ has been seen playing with Prince Asriel, reading storybooks, or picking buttercups! They have done nothing to help us!”

 

Chara, with their ear pressed against the door of the meeting room, silently clenched their fist.

 

“Do not speak ill of our child,” they heard Toriel’s voice say coldly, “They have not even matured into an adult human as of yet. Allow them to enjoy their childhood before you pressure them.”

 

“And, I’m afraid that they alone will not be able to do much to the barrier,” Asgore’s voice explained gravely, “Our scientists have been testing their SOUL against the barrier. It’s been discovered that we would require the power of at least seven human SOULs to break it, the same way seven human magicians were used to seal the barrier. They can’t even pass through the barrier alone. It would require at least the strength of their SOUL combined with the magic of a monster SOUL.”

 

A clamor of voices started up, but quickly hushed when Toriel commanded them to be silent.

 

“Well then what are we gonna do now!?” “Everyone’s put so much hope in that human!” “If the rest of the monsters find out we won’t be able to break the barrier anytime soon, there’s probably going to be even more cases of monsters falling down!”

 

“Yep, speaking of which, have the scientists discovered any way to stop these cases of falling down?”

 

“As of now, no,” Toriel replied, “But they are studying the properties of our child’s SOUL, under our permission. They believe the key for monsters to survive might lie in the power of a human SOUL, especially one as powerful as our child’s.”

 

Chara did remember when the Royal Scientist specifically asked to extract something from their SOUL. They remembered the giant machine that looked like a huge animal skull in the underground laboratory, and how much the extraction hurt. They screamed so much that their parents had rushed over and demanded the scientist to stop.

 

“We can’t give any positive news as of current, and we apologize.” Asgore said, “Our scientists are trying to create something from what little human SOUL material they can work with. They will have a breakthrough eventually.”

 

“Please, Your Majesties, if they can find a way, they’ll have to do it faster! I don’t know how much longer we can-”

 

Chara did not hear the rest of the discussion. They quietly left the doorway, already formulating a plan in their mind.

 

The strength of a human SOUL combined with the magic of a monster SOUL.

 

They remembered that incident when they accidentally added buttercups to a pie they made for Asgore. After seeing the terrible effect the flowers had on Asgore, they read up about the flowers and realized the potency of the poison in the flowers when consumed.

 

But for this plan to be put into action, they needed help from a monster.

 

They headed to the large garden in the center of the castle, where they knew Asriel would be playing.

 

----------

 

“Chara?”

 

Chara opened their eyes and saw Asriel gazing down at them.

 

“Oh, thank goodness, you were just resting.” Asriel sank back into the armchair beside the bed with a sigh of relief, “I thought you were-”

 

“I am not dead. Not yet,” Chara replied bluntly, with an empty smile on their face, “I am not ready to die until we have an opportunity to carry out our plan. Do you remember what you are required to do?”

 

“Y-yes.” Asriel looked down, tugging at his long, fluffy ears nervously, “I’m scared, I really am, but I’ll do it.”

 

“Do not back out of this, and do not be a crybaby about it.”

 

‘I won’t! I promise I won’t! I’m not gonna leave you.” He couldn’t bear the thought of losing his sibling, his best friend. He made up his mind to do anything he could to stay with them.

 

“Good.”

 

Chara reached out to hold Asriel’s paw, giving it a light squeeze. “We will be heroes, Asriel. We will become the hope for the future of monsters and humans. We simply have to carry out this plan correctly.”

 

“I...I know.” Asriel held their hand, “We have to stay determined, as dad always said. I’m still scared, but I’ll try my best, okay? I’ll do it for you.”

 

Chara’s smile looked genuine for a moment, but it disappeared as they began coughing profusely again. Asriel hurriedly grabbed the basin that was always by their bedside. They vomited into the basin, and then took a few deep, strained breaths.

 

It had been getting harder and harder for them to breathe over the days, but it was even worse now.

 

“Tomorrow,” they said to Asriel, sounding exhausted, “We shall do it tomorrow, before my SOUL slips away.”

 

----------

 

It was reported that the human child passed away the next day.

 

It was also reported that many monsters who lived near the castle saw a terrifying beast, resembling a large boss monster, standing on the highest balcony of the castle, holding the corpse of the human child in its arms.

 

It stood there for a while, gazing over the land, before spreading a pair of wings and soaring into the air. It flew towards the barrier, passed through it, and flew into the sunset.

 

“Six,” some monsters had heard it say as it flew past, “We only need six.”

 

----------

 

Chara took control of their new form at first. Before they did anything, they wanted to see the golden flowers near the facility for the last time. It still continued to be a symbol of hope to them. If their plan failed, they hoped they could at least take some of the flowers underground.

 

It was evening when they reached the closed city. The sky was turning pink and gold as they floated over the garden Chara had often seen through the window. While Asriel marveled at how beautiful the sky was, Chara landed next to the flowerbeds and laid their lifeless body among the flowers.

 

Coming here was a terrible idea.

 

A lot of the humans were around during this time. Guards were changing shifts, and some scientists were preparing to head home from work. Many people saw them, and watched in confusion and terror as this beast descended from the sky.

 

Chara and Asriel heard screams and yells of fright, and found themselves surrounded by guards from the surrounding buildings. Guns were pointed at them from all directions. Other humans looked on from the windows of the buildings with frightened expressions.

 

The children were afraid as well, unsure of what to do and not daring to move. That is, until Chara recognized some of the guards’ uniforms, as these were the guards from the facility that they had escaped from.

 

The memory of how they were tormented at the facility flooded back. Anger and hatred flared up in them. These feelings only became stronger when they looked up and saw the faces of the teachers and the superiors looking out from the windows of the facility.

 

Well, they were powerful now, weren’t they? They had the strength of a human SOUL and the magic of a monster SOUL. They could kill their tormentors with ease.

 

In fact, they could kill everyone around them with ease. All these guards who were pointing their weapons at them, all those uncaring people staring at them from the buildings, they could simply destroy them all with one fell swoop.

 

“C...Chara?” they heard Asriel’s voice whimper, “Chara, what are you doing?”

 

Magic began to build up around the beast’s body.

 

“Chara! Stop!”

 

The beast began to lift its hands towards the surrounding guards.

 

“Chara! Don’t hurt them! You said only six SOULs! You said we’ll do it stealthily so we won’t start another war!”

 

“Are you doubting me, Asriel?”

 

“No! I’m not! But you said-”

 

“I have suffered at the hands of humans for years! It is finally my chance to fight back! I cannot pass up this chance for vengeance!”

 

Asriel began to fight for control over the body.

 

“Cease your struggle, Asriel. If we do not kill them, they will kill us. It is kill or be killed.”

 

“No it’s not! We can still do this peacefully! We can still leave before anyone gets hurt!”

 

Asriel’s struggle for control began to grow more desperate. “Chara, please. Let’s leave. Let’s go before things get worse!”

 

Chara started laughing, and said in a voice that made a shiver run down Asriel’s spine,

 

Since when were you the one in control?

 

The magic around the beast now flowed to its hands. The attack was almost fully charged. In a few seconds, everyone in the surrounding area would be d-

 

“NO!!!”

 

Gunshots rang through the air as the guards fired everything they had at the beast.

 

“Asriel! What are you doing!?”

 

The magic around the beast vanished. It stumbled as it was hit repeatedly by hundreds of bullets.

 

“Asriel! Let me kill them! Let me finally be able to remove my torturers from this world!”

 

Blood and dust poured out from the beast’s wounds as it lowered its hands.

 

“ASRIEL!!!”

 

The beast was seen giving a weak smile as it bent down to pick up the child’s body. It then floated into the air, and went back to where it came from.

 

It flew back to Mount Ebott, and crossed through the barrier again. Many monsters, including the King and Queen themselves, saw the beast return.

 

It floated to the castle garden and placed the child’s body on the grass. It then collapsed, and died.

 

All that was left of it were the shattered remains of a boss monster’s SOUL, a still-beating human SOUL, flower pollen, dust, and two golden heart-shaped lockets.

Chapter Text

“And that is where my story ends,” Chara concluded.

 

Papyrus, Frisk, and Flowey remained silent. Papyrus was still laying on the couch, too tired to even sit up. Chara noticed Flowey gazing at them sadly, while Papyrus’ eyes were full of sympathy.

 

“Stop that. Do not look at me in such a forlorn way. I need no pity,” they said indignantly, “I already told you that you will gain no amusement from my story.”

 

“I didn’t know things were that bad for you on the surface, Chara,” Flowey said in a timid voice, “You told me you hated humans, and I can see why now. They were horrible to you.”

 

“Not 8.6.” Chara was quick to defend their friend, “Some of the people at the facility were alright as well. But, indeed, I did not have a good experience on the surface. And now, do you see-” they turned to Papyrus, “-why I wish to eradicate humans? Most of humanity is abysmal, they care about no one and only wish to use others. They are disgusting, and it would be better if they were removed from this world.”

 

(Lots of humans are okay,) Frisk signed hurriedly.

 

“Well, of course you would feel that way, you are human as well, Frisk,”

 

“AND WHAT ABOUT THE MONSTERS?” Papyrus asked, looking thoughtful.

 

“The monsters?”

 

“YOU WANT TO KILL ALL MONSTERS AS WELL. WHY IS THAT?”

 

“It is simply because I was forgotten by monsterkind for so long. I have been conscious for the entire duration I was dead, and could feel my body rotting as it was buried in the Ruins. My SOUL was taken from me and kept alive somewhere Underground. Because my SOUL did not shatter, I could never be free and move on. I despised every agonizing second of it, and my hatred against your kind grew.”

 

“I was only freed my from my personal hell when Frisk fell. Many other humans fell before them, but I could not follow those humans. I suppose it is because Frisk and I have the same SOUL trait, Determination, which allowed me to fuse my spirit with their body. At that time, I was very lost and confused. I simply watched what they did and commented on certain things. I did not know what my purpose of still being in this world was, until they decided to start ending the lives of monsters they encountered.”

 

Frisk began to look very uncomfortable at this statement, fidgeting a little as they said softly, “I...I guess I kind of brought about the whole ‘kill everyone’ thing? I was just curious, I wanted to see what EXP and LOVE was about. Killing everyone felt interesting because I wanted to see what changed based on who I killed. After that, I could reset to kill different monsters and see what changed.” They buried their face in their hands, “Now that I think about it, this sounds horrible. I treated all of my friends like an experiment! What...what have I done!?”

 

“You did what you had to,” answered Chara, “Gaining LOVE is exactly what you needed to get stronger. Did it not feel good to gain EXP? To be powerful? We were almost there, Frisk! We reached our absolute during that one timeline, when you managed to destroy everyone. We could have destroyed humanity as well! But you were a coward, and went back in time in order to save everyone.”

 

“Because I didn’t want to hurt my friends!” Frisk argued, raising their voice, “How could you even bring yourself to do that? I felt so much regret after that, I just had to reset, I couldn’t move on knowing what I did.”

 

“I AGREE WITH FRISK,” Papyrus said unexpectedly, “HUMANS AND MONSTERS MAY NOT BE PERFECT, AND SOME MAY BE TERRIBLE PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO CHANGE, BUT YOU REALLY DON’T NEED TO DO A VIOLENCE TO EVERYONE OVER IT.”

 

“But why? Offer me one single good reason as to why I should not do so?”

 

“BECAUSE IF YOU KILLED OUT OF BITTERNESS AND TO STRENGTHEN YOURSELF, YOU ARE DOING EXACTLY AS THE SUPERIORS AT THAT FACILITY HAVE COMMANDED YOU TO DO.”

 

Chara froze.

 

They felt as if they had been stabbed in the heart.

 

“THE SUPERIORS WANTED YOU TO LOSE YOUR ABILITY TO FEEL COMPASSION AND AFFECTION, SO THAT YOU COULD KILL WITH NO REMORSE. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING.” Papyrus shook his head, his expression solemn, “YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS. I KNOW IT’S HARD TO STOP DOING SOMETHING YOU’VE BEEN TOLD TO DO FOR MOST OF YOUR LIFE, BUT YOUR PAST DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. I BELIEVE IN YOU. I BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN CHANGE AND BE A BETTER PERSON!”

 

Chara did not respond. Frisk could almost feel them receding away in their mind, as if Chara was trying to hide, trying to run away from the realization.

 

“PLEASE DON’T FEEL BAD, I UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL, CHARA,” Papyrus said, which was followed by a short, sarcastic laugh from Chara, “I KNOW THAT IT PROBABLY SOUNDS LIKE I’M TRYING TO RELATE, BUT I ACTUALLY VERY MUCH KNOW HOW IT FEELS.”

 

He glanced away from the children, gazing off into space, still looking forlorn. He stayed that way for so long that Flowey had to screw up all his courage to call him, “Papyrus? You...you okay?”

 

Papyrus blinked, and turned back to the children.

 

“PERHAPS IT IS ABOUT TIME I TOLD SOMEONE ABOUT THIS. I’VE BEEN HIDING IT FOR TOO LONG. YOU WANTED ME TO TELL YOU WHY I COULD TURN INTO A BEAST, YES?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“Indeed we do.”

 

(As long as you’re okay with it.)

 

Papyrus took a deep breath, “I WILL TELL YOU ABOUT IT, BUT PLEASE KEEP IT A SECRET FROM EVERYONE ELSE, AT LEAST FOR NOW. PLEASE. I...I DO NOT WANT PEOPLE TO BE...AFRAID OF ME…”

 

The children agreed to Papyrus’ request, and Papyrus began his story.

 

----------------

 

During the early days of monsterkind’s imprisonment Underground, terror and hopelessness filled the hearts of the monsters. They were lost, unsure of how to survive in this new dark, dreary environment.

 

The old King and Queen tried their best to keep their people calm, but passed away before they could do much. The newly crowned King Asgore and Queen Toriel replaced them. They were young and inexperienced, making their days hard and worrisome. Regardless, they tried desperately to keep the grieving, frightened monsters calm.

 

While they remained calm on the surface, they worried about how to solve the many problems they now faced Underground. Food was limited, there was not enough space to house all the monsters, and the darkness prevented the monsters from being able to do much. Many monsters died during that terrible time due to the loss of hope or from fighting for resources among each other. It seemed like monsterkind was about to come to an end.

 

That was until a strange monster named Wingdings Gaster came to the King and Queen, and announced that he had a plan to save monsterkind.

 

No one was sure where Gaster came from, or what exactly he was. He claimed to be a skeleton monster, but while he did appear to be a skeleton, his mannerisms was very different from the other monsters. He also had strange speech patterns and spoke in a language no other monster had heard before, but everyone was somehow able to understand him.

 

Gaster was rather intimidating, as he was very solemn and took no nonsense from anyone. He was also very powerful, having some very unusual magical abilities. One of these magical abilities was being able to summon beast-like skulls from seemingly nowhere. He called these skulls his “Blasters”. They were terrifying, twisted-looking things, possessing the ability to fire powerful beams of magic.

 

In spite of that, he was intelligent, charismatic, and very polite. He had many ideas about how to improve the lives of monsters and methods to help them survive and thrive Underground. He conveyed these ideas in such an enthusiastic, compelling way that they fascinated everyone, even the King and Queen, causing him to grow in popularity. He was eventually hired as the Royal Scientist, and was known as Dr Gaster from then on.

 

As the newly appointed Royal Scientist, he was very driven in his work. He amassed a group of scientists from among the monsters to work alongside him. These monsters were dedicated and disciplined in their work. The scientists soon became the driving force behind helping monsterkind survive.

 

For almost every problem that the monsters faced, the scientists seemed to have a solution:

 

To solve the problem of overcrowding in Home, machines were built to dig through the earth and find more habitable locations Underground. These locations came to be known as Snowdin, Waterfall, Hotland, and New Home. Houses and buildings were built in each location. The monsters settled down in different places based on the climate they preferred.

 

To solve the problem of food shortages, the scientists found ways to make food from the combination of magic and materials they could find Underground. Pies could be made from snails and fire magic. Ice cream was produced with snow and ice magic. Cattails were used to make sausages and subsequently hot dogs.

 

To solve the problem with needing electricity to power the buildings, the scientists built the Core, a machine as large as a building that was constructed directly above the lava of Hotland. It was able to generate power from the lava, and supply all of the monsters with electricity.

 

And finally, to solve the problem of breaking the barrier…

 

Dr Gaster and his team of scientists were at a loss.

 

This dilemma stumped them for centuries. The scientists ran test after test, attempting various ways to break the barrier.

 

Even after Chara fell, they continued to work hard on this project. They took samples from Chara’s SOUL to test against the barrier, but to no avail. The magic used to create the barrier was simply too strong. They concluded that seven human SOULs were needed to break the barrier, the same way the power of seven human magicians was used to seal it.

 

Dr Gaster became very secluded after those experiments failed. He locked himself away in a section of his underground lab, where not even his trusted team of scientists were allowed to see him. The scientists noted he was very silent during that time, almost as if he wasn’t even there.

 

A week later, he re-emerged from the lab. He refused to tell anyone, not even the King or Queen, about what he had been doing during his absence.

 

Eventually, he allowed some of his most trusted scientists to witness what he had been working on. He led them deep into his lab and showed them two rooms.

 

“What is that!?” cried one of the scientists, peeking out of her shell in horror at what was behind the door of the first room.

 

“It looks like someone connected by their chest to a bunch of tubes and wires!” exclaimed another scientist, holding his head in shock.

 

“IT IS,” replied Gaster calmly, unfazed by his scientists horrified reactions, “IT CAN CONTAIN AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF MAGIC, BUT CANNOT USE THAT MAGIC UNLESS UNDER EXTREME STRESS. RATHER, ITS PURPOSE IS TO SUPPLY MAGIC TO ANOTHER BEING.”

 

“So it’s like a sort of power supply?” asked a scientist.

 

“YES, IT IS A RESERVOIR OF A SORT. UNFORTUNATELY, IT’S STILL VERY UNSTABLE.” Dr Gaster shook his head, looking annoyed, “TO BE ABLE TO CONTAIN SUCH IMMENSE POWER, I HAD TO ALTER ITS BIOLOGY. BECAUSE OF THAT, IT IS FEEBLE AND HAS REDUCED ABILITY IN ATTACKING AND DEFENDING. IT’S A SICKLY LITTLE THING. FOR NOW, IT NEEDS TO BE CONNECTED TO A LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR SURVIVAL.”

 

The reservoir had been quietly listening to the conversation as it sat on its bed. It looked up at the scientists with bright teal and yellow eyes, head tilted slightly. The dimly-lit room was silent aside from the noises made by the pipes and pumps connected to it.

 

“Does it understand us?”

 

“YES, IT CAN UNDERSTAND AND IS CAPABLE OF SPEECH. IT CAN ALSO READ. I HAVE GIVEN IT BOOKS SO THAT IT MAY ENTERTAIN ITSELF, BECAUSE IT IS TOO WEAK TO LEAVE THIS ROOM WITHOUT ITS LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM.”

 

Gaster turned to the reservoir, “LIE DOWN AND GO TO BED,” he commanded. The reservoir obeyed, flopping onto the bed on its back, still gazing at the scientists with an unreadable expression.

 

Gaster closed the door to its room and locked it. He then showed the scientists the second room.

 

This room was much bigger than the first. While the first room was the size of a child’s bedroom, this one was the size of a small arena. The scientists peered down into the room from glass windows set high into the walls of the room.

 

“A beast!” exclaimed one of the scientists, taking a step back in shock.

 

“It looks a lot like those strange beast skulls you have, Dr Gaster,” commented a bird-like scientist.

 

“MY BLASTERS? YES. INDEED. THIS BEING ALSO SERVES THE SAME PURPOSE AS THE BLASTERS: IT IS A WEAPON. BUT, UNLIKE THE BLASTERS, IT IS SENTIENT. THIS WEAPON IS ABLE TO FUNCTION ON ITS OWN AND IS CAPABLE OF SELF-PERSEVERANCE. IT IS FAR MORE ADVANCED THAN THE BLASTERS. IN FACT, IT IS MORE ADVANCED THAN ANY OTHER MAGICAL ATTACK CREATED BY A MONSTER.”

 

The weapon was roaming around the room on all fours, wandering in circles. It came to a halt when it realized it was being watched. Lifting its head, it glared up at the scientists with orange-blue eyes, baring its horribly sharp fangs.

 

“ITS BIOLOGY IS CLOSELY RELATED TO THAT OF THE RESERVOIR. WHILE IT IS STRONG ON ITS OWN, IT CAN ALSO DRAW POWER FROM THE RESERVOIR TO USE.”

 

“Yes, but Doctor, a weapon!? What use would a weapon be to us now?”

 

“I WISH TO USE IT TO BREAK THE BARRIER. LIKE THE BLASTERS, IT CAN FIRE A BEAM OF CONCENTRATED MAGICAL ENERGY,” explained Dr Gaster, “I AM STILL MAKING MODIFICATIONS ON IT TO ENHANCE THE POWER OF ITS BEAM. IT ALREADY HAS MAGICAL ATTACKS STRONGER THAN ANY OF MY BLASTERS, BUT EVEN THEN IT STILL DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER REQUIRED TO BREAK THE BARRIER. A SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM HAS YET TO BE FOUND.”

 

“Maybe there’s a way to make it more powerful?”

 

“What about the human’s SOUL samples we collected?” suggested one of the scientists.

 

Dr Gaster turned, giving the scientist such a stern frown that she felt rather terrified. He was very tall and loomed over most of the scientists, which only made him more intimidating.

 

“WHAT ABOUT IT?”

 

“I-It-It’s supposed to be very strong, right? The human SOUL? Humans are said to have stronger SOULs than monsters, and we found out this human has an exceptionally powerful SOUL. M-Maybe we could make use of it in some way?”

 

Dr Gaster looked away, deep in thought, and muttered to himself, “A FASCINATING IDEA, VERY FASCINATING. IT COULD PERHAPS WORK. BUT FOR NOW WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH SAMPLES FROM THE HUMAN’S SOUL. THE DREEMURRS’ HAVE FORBIDDEN US FROM TAKING MORE SAMPLES, AS THE EXTRACTION PROCESS CAUSES THE HUMAN IMMENSE PAIN. IT IS TOO BAD, MUCH TOO BAD, THE HUMAN’S SOUL IS STRANGE. IT HAS NO MAGIC BUT YET IS VERY POWERFUL. VERY, VERY INTERESTING INDEED.”

 

He sighed, seemingly disappointed. His train of thought was interrupted by the weapon letting out a sharp snarl. While the weapon couldn’t hear them, it was able to perceive that they were talking about it.

 

Dr Gaster turned back to the weapon, glaring at it. Upon seeing his face, it took a few steps back, its tail tucked between its legs. It headed to an old mattress placed in a corner of the room and laid down, no longer daring to even glance at Dr Gaster.

 

“So, uh, Doctor?” one of the scientists piped up after a long pause, “What are you going to do with your creations?”

 

“I AM UNSURE IF I CAN CALL THEM MY CREATIONS, BUT I SUPPOSE THEY ARE, IN A WAY,” he replied, “FOR NOW, THEY ARE IMPERFECT. THIS IS WHY I HAVE SUMMONED ALL OF YOU HERE.  I AM ASSIGNING YOU TO FIND WAYS TO MODIFY THEM: THE RESERVOIR MUST HAVE A MORE EFFICIENT OUTPUT AND MADE TO BE LESS FRAGILE, WHILE THE WEAPON MUST GAIN STRONGER ATTACKS. PERHAPS, THEN, WE SHALL BE ABLE TO DESTROY THE BARRIER AND FINALLY BE FREE.”

 

“HOWEVER, KEEP THIS A SECRET FROM ANYONE ELSE. DO NOT INFORM ANYTHING YOU DO OR WITNESS IN THIS LABORATORY TO THE OTHER SCIENTISTS, TO ANYONE OUTSIDE THE LAB, OR EVEN TO THE ROYAL FAMILY.”

 

None of the scientists dared to question why he was being so secretive. They simply agreed to take up this task. From then on, they began working hard on this project.

 

They ran tests on the reservoir’s energy output, as well as trying many other life support methods on it in an attempt to make it healthier. They had to do these experiments in the room housing the reservoir, while being very cautious around it in fear of accidentally killing it.

 

The reservoir obediently underwent the tests, mostly out of fear for Dr Gaster. Sometimes, it would ask questions about the tests, which the scientists answered just to humor it. Like Dr Gaster, it also spoke in a strange way. Its speech had lazy drawl and sounded a bit like a low, sarcastic laugh, which matched the permanent grin it wore on its face.

 

One of the more curious scientists questioned Dr Gaster about it. His reply was simply that the reservoir spoke in “Comic Sans”, but refused to elaborate further.

 

The scientists were much more nervous when doing tests on the weapon. For one thing, it had a fiery temper. It also hated being touched and would attempt to bite or use magical attacks on anyone who dared to lay a hand on it. It needed to be subdued by magic before it was taken out of its room so that it could be tested on.

 

The weapon was unable to speak, and only let out harsh screeches, growls, and snarls. It could understand speech perfectly, however, and it obeyed any command Dr Gaster gave it.

 

After each test, it was taken back to its room and given a cloth dummy. Dr Gaster would order it to attack the dummy and the scientists would record its power output. Its attack was generally a beam fired from its mouth, but sometimes it would materialize white and blue bone attacks. It would always annihilate the dummy, looking very satisfied at its ability to do so.

 

Occasionally, the weapon would be commanded to draw magical energy from the reservoir and utilize that power along with its own. (The scientists noted the reservoir would express pain when this happened.) This attack was devastating, filling the entire room with blinding light and searing heat. It was fortunate Dr Gaster had the insight to construct the walls of the room with anti-magic material, something he invented himself, or else the weapon could have easily broken out of containment and injured the scientists.

 

Despite the sheer power of this attack, and in spite of the scientists efforts to improve on both beings, Dr Gaster was not satisfied. The beam attack came nothing close to the power needed to break the barrier. It seemed more and more likely they would have to somehow obtain seven human SOULs to succeed.

 

Dr Gaster still remained undaunted. His drive and perseverance was an encouragement to his team, who kept hard at work. However, their work was interrupted when tragedy struck.

 

The human child and the young prince were killed, which caused the entire kingdom to go into mourning. This was followed by a terrible argument between the King and the Queen. And then, to make matters even worse, the Queen stormed off from the castle in New Home and exiled herself to Home, taking the body of the human child with her. She sealed up the door between Home and Snowdin, refusing to open it even though the King waited for weeks outside the door, knocking and begging.

 

With  so many terrible things happening, the monsters grew even more hopeless. Many monsters became ill and many fell down, going into a catatonic state that they could not be woken from.

 

Dr Gaster tried to ignore these events in order to focus on his project, but took notice when his scientists grew less efficient in their work, clearly affected by the tragedies. He decided not to push them, for he didn’t want them to become sick or fall down.

 

As he was wondering about what was to be done, the King unexpectedly arranged to have a private meeting with him. They quickly agreed on a time and location, which was night at the garden in the center of the castle, where it was unlikely for anyone to be about and listening to their conversation.

 

At the appointed time, Dr Gaster entered the garden where the King was waiting for him, looking grave. The King had laid out a small table in the garden, with a steaming pot of tea and two teacups arranged on it. Dr Gaster noticed two changes in the garden aside from the table, as he had been in this garden lately just after the prince and the human passed. The King’s throne was now in the center of the room, having been moved there from the throne room by the King himself. There was another throne in a far corner, covered in cloth. Gaster suspected it was the throne of the Queen.

 

Another change was that the garden now had a carpet of golden flowers growing from the earth. Gaster had never seen anything like these flowers before. They were so bright that they almost dazzled him. The sweet smell coming from them was overwhelming.

 

“GOOD EVENING, YOUR MAJESTY.” Dr Gaster bowed deeply.

 

“Howdy, Doctor Gaster.” The King could hardly smile, neither did he warmly shake Dr Gaster’s hand as he usually would. He looked exhausted and a little unkempt, with his fur and beard no longer as fluffy and shiny as they usually were. “I’m delighted to be able to talk to you again. Please, feel free to drink some tea. I made it from the golden flowers in this garden.” He gestured to the flowers around them, before carefully pouring out some tea into the two cups.

 

Dr Gaster did so.

 

“LOVELY TEA,” he commented, “RATHER SWEET. HAS A WONDERFUL SMELL. WHERE DID YOUR MAJESTY OBTAIN THESE FLOWERS FROM?”

 

“They...they appeared in this garden...just after Toriel left.” The King looked even sadder as he spoke, “I think they’re from the outside world, brought back by Asriel and Chara. When they...fell...in this garden, their dust was mixed with some kind of flower seeds.”

 

“VERY ODD. HOW DID THE SEEDS SPREAD ACROSS THE GARDEN SO QUICKLY?”

 

“The seeds were strangely sticky. I think they stuck to my clothes when I moved around the garden,” The King replied, “I cultivated them so that they grew into the flowers you see now. They serve as a memorial for my children and my wife, as well as a reminder of my family that the humans have torn from me.” His paws shook a little as he spoke.

 

Dr Gaster was wise enough to remain silent.

 

The King took a long drink of his tea, and said, “I called you here, Doctor, for a reason that mustn’t be known to anyone else. Please, please keep this a secret between us.”

 

He placed his teacup back on the table. Reaching a paw into his cloak, he pulled out a small glass jar. Within the jar floated a SOUL, glowing teal and pulsating faintly.

 

Dr Gaster almost dropped his teacup, not expecting to see a perfectly preserved human SOUL in the King’s possession.

 

“I’m sorry. Yes, I’ve done a horrible deed and I am ashamed of it. This is the reason Toriel left. Before that we were already arguing over what had to be done to break the barrier. I declared than any human who fell down here had to be killed to obtain their SOUL, but she disagreed. I could understand why, but in my anger against the humans, I refused to comply to her.”

 

“A few weeks after my children passed away, another human child fell into Home, a child even younger than Chara when they first fell. I found her when I was taking a walk through Home, so I secretly took her to our old house there, not letting any monster know about it. I allowed her to have as much fun as she wanted in Home. I played with her and cooked for her. I let her sleep in my children’s old bedroom there. But then, after three days of letting her enjoy herself, when she was asleep, I...I...I killed her.”

 

The King bowed his head, unable to look at Dr Gaster as tears filled his eyes.

 

“That was the last straw for Toriel. She was furious at me, horrified that she was unable to prevent the child’s death. She left with Chara’s body, saying that I should never be trusted with any child, living or dead. I’m still heartbroken over her departure and still feeling very guilty over this child’s death. But there doesn’t seem to be any other way to break the barrier aside from collecting seven human SOULs.”

 

“Doctor, this is where I need your help. I need you to make something that can contain and preserve this SOUL. A glass jar like this won’t preserve it. As you can see, its glow is growing fainter and soon, it will shatter. We need to keep it alive until we obtain six other SOULs.”

 

Dr Gaster managed to get over his shock rather quickly. “I SHALL DO SO IMMEDIATELY, YOUR MAJESTY. I HAVE BEEN TESTING METHODS TO PRESERVE SOULS AS OF LATE AND APPEAR TO HAVE HAD A BREAKTHROUGH. HOWEVER, IT ONLY SEEMS TO WORK ON HUMAN SOULS. MONSTER SOULS SHATTER TOO QUICKLY.”

 

“Yes, human SOULs are able to remain unshattered a bit longer than monster SOULs after death. Perhaps it’s due to their strength, or a component in their SOULs that we monsters do not have. I have seen how long a human SOUL can last,” he turned to look at the patch of flowers in front of his throne, “My children fell here and I had the misfortune of seeing them die. I saw Asriel’s SOUL separate from Chara’s before shattering. But, Chara’s SOUL remained intact. Toriel and I were unable to bring ourselves to pick it up, or even go near this spot, for a while.”

 

“The strange thing is, when we came back, Chara’s SOUL had vanished. It certainly couldn’t have shattered, or we would have seen fragments of it.” His forlorn expression was replaced by a puzzled look, “No one knows where it could have gone. Still, if it’s somewhere around, we would have two human SOULs and would just need five more. Although, I don’t think I could bear to use my own child’s SOUL to break the barrier.”

 

Dr Gaster kept silent. The King placed the jar on the table, giving a soft groan and looking quite uncomfortable.

 

“IS SOMETHING THE MATTER, YOUR MAJESTY? YOU SEEM RATHER ILL.” Dr Gaster was happy to be able to change the subject.

 

“No, no, I’m fine. It’s just the Level and perhaps the guilt that came with it.”

 

“LEVEL?”

 

“Ah, you haven’t heard of the ‘Level of Violence’?”

 

“I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT IT IS. SO, NO.”

 

“Well, now that I’ve mentioned it, I might as well tell you, since you are the Royal Scientist after all. Although I doubt you will need to use such information in your projects, and I sincerely hope you never have to.”

 

“Years before the great War, humans and monsters realized that any human or monster who murdered others seem to grow stronger after each kill. This was very clearly seen in serial murderers. They were far more powerful and able to withstand attacks better than others. This led to the discovery of what the humans called “Levels of Violence”. They described it as when a person kills another on purpose, they gain “Execution Points”, which will cause them to gain Levels. The higher their Levels, the stronger they grow, at the cost of losing their ability to feel love or compassion.”

 

“People who have gained Levels, including monster veterans from the war, said that you can almost feel yourself gaining it. You can feel your ability to feel emotions and memories of your loved ones slip away. It’s probably why I’ve been feeling unwell since I took the life of that human child. I gained Execution Points. It’s not a pleasant feeling, especially when combined with the guilt.”

 

“I SEE.” Dr Gaster leaned forward slightly, “IF YOUR MAJESTY DOES NOT MIND ME ASKING, WHY IS THIS NOT COMMON KNOWLEDGE AMONG THE MONSTERS?”

 

“It’s believed that the discovery of Levels was what led to the war. I was far too young at that time and didn’t know how the war happened, but my parents, before they passed, told me how discovering Levels of Violence had led to chaos. Some humans were afraid that us monsters would attack them to gain Levels, because our magical attacks were far more powerful than their spears, cannons, and swords. Some humans wanted to gain Levels to grow more powerful, so they rounded up weaker monsters to kill. As much as I hate to admit it, some monsters did kill humans to gain Levels themselves. These events are believed to have eventually caused a war to break out.”

 

“At any rate, the knowledge of Levels is now considered forbidden, at least among the monsters. Most of the monsters who knew about it have died in the war or during the early days of monsterkind being trapped Underground. Those that have survived, including Toriel, Gerson, and I, have agreed to never tell anyone about it for fear of in-fighting among the monsters to grow more powerful. I am surprised you don’t know about this, Doctor, considering you were around just after we were trapped Underground. Regardless, please keep this a secret from everyone, including your own scientists.”

 

Dr Gaster nodded. “VERY WELL, YOUR MAJESTY.” He glanced at the teal SOUL, “AS FOR THE CONTAINER FOR PRESERVING THIS SOUL, I SHALL HAVE IT MADE AND SENT TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.”

 

“Thank you very much, Doctor.” The King seemed relieved. He shook Dr Gaster’s hand and even managed to give a watery smile, “I’m grateful for your help, truly I am. But, again, please do not tell anyone about what we discussed here.”

 

“DO NOT WORRY, YOUR MAJESTY. YOU HAVE MY PROMISE.”

 

Dr Gaster turned aside, with a hint of a smirk on his face.



Chapter Text

Every night, when his scientists’ shifts were over and they had gone home, Dr. Gaster would still be in his office, compiling his scientists’ reports. He meticulously kept records on every project he had started, carefully typing them into separate files on the lab computers.

He also kept several journals on his personal computer which he used to record his own thoughts on his experiments.

“I have spent a long time studying the difference between the SOUL of a monster and that of a human,” he typed on his computer one night, “I have always wondered why only seven human SOULs can break the barrier and not seven monster SOULs…”

“Human SOULs are known to have incredible power... While they are weak in terms of magic, their SOULs are what makes them far more physically resilient than any other creature. There must be something in their SOULs that allows this... A desire to live on and to fight for survival. A kind of determination to alter their future, no matter how little chance they have left. They do not fall down like monsters upon losing hope, but keep on trying to survive. I must find out what is it that allows them to do so.”

“After a year of careful testing and experimentation, I have managed to create a machine based on one of my Blasters... Instead of firing concentrated energy, it can now absorb concentrated energy from a SOUL. It still requires some work, for now I shall prepare a blueprint for it. If I manage to succeed in absorbing the energy from a human SOUL, I shall run some tests to see what substance in it allows it to be so powerful.”

“I still need to make containers for King Asgore to hold the human SOUL he acquired, as well as any other human SOULs he will get in the future...”

 

----------

A few months later, Dr. Gaster rushed into his office after the last scientist left the lab. His grin was wider than usual and he was rubbing his bony hands in delight. He sat down in front of his computer, opened one of his journals, and typed:

“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.”

With that done, he sat back in his chair, still overjoyed at his new discovery. After calming himself down, he started a new journal, simply titling the file “DT”.

“After my discovery of Determination (from now on I shall refer to it as DT) today, I was reminded of the need to break the barrier to free monsterkind. Asgore plans to wait for more humans to fall into the Underground, but that will take far too long… I still wish to use the reservoir and the weapon to break the barrier. Perhaps, if I can insert DT into their SOULs, their SOULs will be altered to become like those of humans and they can be used to break the barrier…”

 

----------

“The DT extractor machine has been modified so that it can store DT and insert it into a target…” Dr. Gaster typed many weeks later, “Today, I took the reservoir and the weapon out to be injected with DT.”

The reservoir had been surprised that it was allowed outside of its room. It was disconnected from its tubes, placed in a wheelchair, and carefully taken to a large, empty room. There was a large rectangular hole in the ceiling of the room, where the extractor hung down from the room above. The Reservoir was wheeled to the center of the room, directly under the extractor, and left alone.

It gazed up, curious and a little afraid, tilting its head when it saw the extractor.

“what’s that?”

“IT IS A MACHINE THAT WILL INJECT A SUBSTANCE INTO YOUR SOUL, POTENTIALLY MAKING YOU STRONGER.” replied Dr. Gaster. He was standing in the room above with the rest of the scientists on the floor above, looking down into the Reservoir’s room.

“really?” the reservoir’s eyes shone, excited at the idea of getting stronger so that it did not need to be constantly connected to tubes and wires at all times.

“I SAID ‘POTENTIALLY’, I HAVE YET TO TEST THIS SUBSTANCE ON ANYTHING. YOU HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING THE FIRST TEST SUBJECT. I AM NOT SURE IF IT WILL MAKE YOU LESS FRAGILE. REGARDLESS, I AM SURE THE RESULTS WILL BE VERY, VERY INTERESTING.”

The reservoir’s smile faded, “that doesn’t sound very safe…”

“I NEVER SAID IT WAS SAFE. IT COULD MAKE YOU STRONGER. OR IT COULD MAKE YOU SICK. IT MIGHT EVEN BREAK YOUR BODY DUE TO HOW MUCH POWER IT CONTAINS.”

This answer did not reassure the reservoir at all. It whimpered as it watched the extractor lower into the room. A low hum was heard as the extractor opened its giant maw and the air in both rooms grew uncomfortably hot and heavy. The reservoir closed its eyes tightly, shivering.

“The extractor is ready, Dr. Gaster,” announced one of the scientists.

“VERY WELL, BEGIN.”

A beam was fired from the jaws of the extractor into the reservoir. Despite the loud noise the machine made, the scientists could hear the reservoir screaming. A few of them turned away, trying to ignore the cries of pain.

The process was over in half a minute, but to the reservoir it felt like hours of agony. Even after the extractor had been turned off, it was still struggling and gasping. Its expression was twisted and unpleasant.

The scientists quickly wheeled it back to its room and reconnected it to the tubes and wires. It began to relax after a while as painkillers flowed into its soul through some of the tubes. It laid back down in its bed and immediately dozed off.

Now came the difficult part.

Unlike the reservoir, the weapon wasn’t as willing to cooperate. As soon as Dr Gaster entered its room, it leapt up from its mattress, glaring at him out of its fiery eyes.

The other scientists hung back by the door, looking as if they were ready to bolt outside if anything went wrong.

Dr. Gaster walked calmly towards the weapon, unperturbed even as it began to bare its teeth and snarl. Although the weapon was almost as tall as Dr. Gaster, it seemed a bit afraid of him, taking a step back as the scientist drew near.

But then, screwing up what little courage it had, it leapt at him. Its jaws were wide open, aiming for the scientist’s throat. Some of the scientists by the door let out shrieks of horror,

Before it could snap its jaws shut, it found itself suspended in the air, just a few inches away from Dr. Gaster.

Its SOUL had been turned blue.

The weapon whimpered, struggling and clawing at the air. Dr. Gaster simply raised his hand and manifested several shadow-like tendrils from thin air, which pinned the weapon’s limbs to its side. Everytime it tried to struggle again, Dr. Gaster lifted his hand, causing the tendrils to squeeze the weapon so tightly it cried out in pain.

Still keeping the weapon’s SOUL blue, Dr. Gaster and the other scientists took it to the extractor room. It, too, underwent to same procedure as the reservoir.

Like the reservoir, it was also frightened at the sight of the extractor. It, too, expressed excruciating pain when the substance was injected into it, screeching loudly and attempting to roll out of the way from the beam, but kept firmly in place by the tendrils.

 

----------

“The injection process went smoothly… even though the weapon was not willing to cooperate at first,” Dr. Gaster wrote in his journal.

“The weapon managed to recover from the process faster than the reservoir, without the need of painkillers… perhaps because it has a stronger SOUL and body. We then ran a test on its power output. It was given a cloth dummy and commanded to attack it. After that, it was to draw power from the reservoir and given another dummy to attack.”

“Even though it was tired from the injection, stumbling around the room… unable to stand straight… It was still able to fire a beam of energy at the two dummies. We discovered that its power level has indeed increased, especially after it had drawn power from the reservoir…

“I declare this experiment a success. I shall continue to inject them with DT and closely monitor any changes.”

 

----------

Dr. Gaster went on with this project, still keeping this a secret from the rest of the monsters. He still kept a careful record of the experiments in his journal every week, and wrote this entry a year after the first:

“The subjects have been improving with each injection. The weapon has developed stronger attacks and now has a far higher power output than before. The reservoir is able to supply more energy to the weapon and has been steadily growing stronger physically. It no longer relies heavily on its life support system as it did before. I am planning to increase the process from once a week to twice a week if possible… Although I am concerned that injecting the subjects too frequently would have an adverse effect on them.”

“The reservoir has given up struggling and crying every time it is brought to the extraction room. It now simply sits still in its wheelchair with its eyes closed… waiting for the inevitable.”

“The weapon, on the other hand, still continues to fight back. It has attempted running around its room… attacking me… attacking the other scientists… no matter how many times I restrain it with my void magic. Very annoying. Very indignant creature. I must do something about it.”

 

----------

“I have successfully made a collar to keep the weapon in check,” Dr. Gaster wrote after a few months had passed, “It delivers a hearty zap of electricity to the weapon if it attempts to struggle… I hope that very soon this will break its spirit and it will become more obedient to me.”

His journal-writing process was interrupted by a sudden pang of guilt. He paused, taking his hands off the keyboard, and gazed at the ceiling of his office.

After a while, he continued to type, “The weapon and the reservoir are not sentient and only have the mental capacity of mindless beasts. The reservoir is able to speak… but it can only ask the most basic of questions after all. There is nothing wrong with what I am doing...”

 

----------

“The subjects’ progress have reached a plateau.”

Dr. Gaster’s phalanges pressed the keys down harder as he typed, his usual calm expression replaced with that of annoyance.

“I have been working on this project for four years. That is a short length of time for me due to the long lifespan of my species, but it is still far too long for this project… I invested so much time, effort, and expenditure on this. None of this, I might add, goes into my paycheck, as this is still a secret kept from the King. It is simply a passion project, although my passion for this project is waning…”

“Yes, the subjects have grown far stronger, but it still not enough to break the barrier. Adding DT did not make their SOULs more “human-like”... In fact, adding too much of it has an adverse effect on their forms.”

“Perhaps it is because we do not have solid, physical bodies made of flesh and blood like humans… Humans are able to contain their SOULs full of determination, but we cannot. I recently realized that lately, the subjects have been… melting… for lack of a better term.”

 

----------

The reservoir had mentioned that it was “not feeling well” for the past few weeks, but Dr. Gaster had ignored it entirely, thinking that it was simply an excuse so that it could get out of being injected. Even though it has been years, it still hated the injection process.

However, that day, when he opened the door to its room to take it to the extraction room, he noticed it sitting in the corner of its bed, huddled up with its blanket around its shoulders. It was shivering violently, its blanket kept slipping off its shoulders.

When it saw Dr. Gaster and a few scientists entering its room, it lifted up a hand towards them, attempting to speak. Its voice came out distorted and muffled, as some kind of white substance dripped down its face over its mouth. The same substance dripped down its outstretched arm, making a horrible mess on its bed.

The scientists froze, eyes wide and mouths gaped.

“h-h-he-help…” the reservoir managed to whimper, tears filling its eyes. It could hardly see as the substance oozed over its eye sockets.

Dr. Gaster was the first to recover. Without thinking, he reached out to touch the reservoir’s outstretched arm. He recoiled immediately when he felt how sticky the substance was, but the substance still clung to his hand and the reservoir’s arm, resembling strong glue that hadn’t quite dried yet.

He could feel the substance pulling back into the reservoir’s arm, as if it wanted to take his body and join it with the reservoir’s. He tugged at his arm desperately, eventually managing to pull away with the other scientists’ help. The white substance splattered onto the bed.

“DO NOT TOUCH IT,” he warned his scientists, after managing to compose himself, “THAT WHITE SUBSTANCE… IT APPEARS TO BE THE RESERVOIR’S OWN BODY. THE RESERVOIR SEEMS TO BE FALLING APART BUT ATTEMPTING TO KEEP ITSELF TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME. IT TRIED TO PULL MY ARM INTO ITSELF TO STABILIZE ITS OWN BODY. KEEP AWAY FROM IT UNTIL I CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO SOLVE THIS CONUNDRUM.”

“M-maybe it’s because of the substance we’ve been injecting into the reservoir,” one of the scientists suggested.

“THAT IS QUITE POSSIBLE.”

Another scientist piped up, “Is the same thing happening to the weapon?”

The weapon also didn’t seem to be well for the past few weeks, laying down on its mattress and whining more often. Dr. Gaster had assume that it was due to it finally breaking under the pressure of its shock collar, for it still had been fighting back against him all those years.

The scientists quickly headed to its room and found it laying on its mattress again, covering its face with its paws.

It, too, appeared to be melting, but at a less severe rate than the reservoir.

When it saw the scientists approach, it let out a mournful, distorted-sounding whine. The white substance was trickling slowly down every part of its body, seeping out of its bones, covering its eyes and maw. It kept whining at them while tears fell from its eyes, as if it was begging for help.

 

----------

“There is nothing that can be done aside from stopping the injection process and hoping that they can recover…” Dr. Gaster typed, letting out a frustrated sigh.

“All the effort I have gone through to obtain these two and modify them… utterly wasted…”

“If they do recover, I must find another way to strengthen them. I refuse to give up this project. So far, only one other human has fallen down and had their SOUL taken. The King still requires five more SOULs… and who knows how long it will take for him to obtain them?”

He paused, suddenly recalling something from many years ago.

“Four years ago, the King mentioned about how monsters could get stronger by taking the life of another…” he typed.

“I really do not want to do this… I am very certain that this is wrong. But at the same time, I am at my wit’s end…”

“Surely there is no harm in simply using a few monsters to fuel the weapon’s power? It is for the good of all monsters. The future of this entire species is surely worth more than the lives of a few…”

“I have no choice. After all, in Science, we must sometimes resort to drastic measures to obtain favorable results… There is nothing wrong with what I am doing.”

“But where can I obtain someone whose life can be taken without consequences?”

 

----------

“The subjects have recovered. It has been nearly six months since we ceased the injection process… Their conditions are stable and their bodies are no longer falling apart.”

Dr. Gaster looked more tired than usual as he typed.

“During those months, after my working hours, I have been seeing various Royal Guards and attempting to convince them to allow me access to some of the monsters they imprisoned…”

“At first, they refused my request… But, eventually, I was able to reason with a few of the guards by convincing them that this is for the benefit of Monsterkind. I even offered them some compensation as I have an excess of gold from my income… They allowed me to take some of the monsters that were incarcerated for life due to terrible crimes they have committed.”

“I now have in my possession a monster who was charged with murdering their family and some of their neighbours.”

“During that time, my scientists and I have managed to develop a scanner used to visualize the Level of Violence in a SOUL. (From now on I will shorten “Level of Violence” to LOVE. Much easier to type and sounds less sinister…)”

“We tested it out on ourselves, the weapon, and on the criminal. Our LOVE is at 1, and so is the weapon’s. However, the criminal’s is at 5… This makes sense, since they have taken the lives of others in cold blood.”

“This scanner will help to track the weapon’s progress in my next project…”

Chapter Text

The weapon awoke.

As it opened its eyes, it noticed that the strange white substance was no longer dripping over its eyes and down its body, as it had been for months. It also realized that it no longer felt faint or tired, managing to stand up from its mattress without stumbling.

It wagged its bony tail in delight, before stretching and yawning widely. It began to pace around the room in a circle. Even though it hated this place (it hated almost everything after all), it still felt nice to be able to walk around the room again instead of wasting away on the mattress.

A bowl of kibble and some squeaky dog toys laid in the center of the room. Skeletons did not need to eat like other living beings did; they only ate if they needed to heal from injuries, or simply because they enjoyed eating. The weapon liked the crunchy texture of kibble, so it happily ate it all up. It then settled down on the floor and began chewing on the toys.

The door to its room opened with a loud clang, making it jump. A monster it had never seen before was shoved into the room and the door was shut behind them.

The monster stared around the room, eyes wide open in terror. Their gaze fell upon the weapon. They jumped a little, before taking a step back.

The weapon wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but it didn’t like that a stranger was in its personal space. It bared its teeth at the monster, which only made them more frightened. They backed up further until their back was against the door.

“WE SHALL BE TRYING SOMETHING NEW TODAY.” Dr. Gaster’s voice blared from the windows above, “INSTEAD OF A DUMMY, YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN A MONSTER. A LIVE TARGET. DESTROY THEM AS YOU HAVE DONE TO EVERY DUMMY YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN.”

The weapon was surprised. It had never killed before, only attacking the scientists if it was angered. It walked over to the monster, who began to cower in fright, and sniffed at them.

“P-p-please, don’t hurt me…” the monster begged, “I-I didn’t mean to kill th-them…”

The weapon tilted its head. It didn’t know what the monster was talking about, but seeing them cower in fright made it feel sorry for them. It stood still, unsure of what to do.

“ATTACK AND KILL THEM,” commanded Dr. Gaster.

The weapon refused.

The collar around its neck activated, sending a shock of electricity through it and causing it to scream. It fell over onto the floor, shaking from the pain and tearing at the collar with its claws.

“DO AS I SAY.”

It whimpered, still refusing. Even though it did not quite understand what murder was, it felt that killing this monster was different, completely different from destroying a lifeless dummy.

Again, it was electrocuted by its collar. It screeched, but did not move.

Dr. Gaster sighed. He once again summoned shadowy tendrils around the weapon, grabbing hold of it and forcing it towards the monster. The weapon struggled, straining against the tentacles as it was dragged closer and closer to its target.

The monster, in their panic, swiped at the weapon, hitting it with a magic attack.

This angered the weapon. It snarled, broke free from the tendrils, and attacked the monster. It tore into the monster with its teeth, while summoning bone attacks that stabbed through their body.

It did not stop, not even as the monster cried out in pain and pleaded for mercy, until the monster was nothing but a pile of dust on the floor.

The weapon took a step back, staring at the dust and panting. It seemed quite satisfied with what it had done, wearing the same grin as it did whenever it destroyed a dummy.

In fact, this was more exciting than just destroying a lifeless dummy. It could feel a surge of energy and excitement rushing through it. What a lovely feeling this was! It would love to do it again.

But, at the same time, it felt that something was different. Something had changed within its very SOUL and it did not like it. It nagged at its conscience, making it feel a sense of horror at what it had done.

This uncomfortable feeling did not go away even after it heard Dr. Gaster say, “WELL DONE.” It still felt uneasy even after it had been given extra kibble as a reward.

The scientists scanned the weapon, and turned to the scanner: Level 2. The Level of Violence theory was confirmed.

The weapon was given a dummy and commanded to attack it, which it did gleefully. Its attack power was recorded by measuring its power output. The scientists noticed that its power output had risen along with its LOVE.

 

----------

“The first LOVE experiment was a success,” Dr. Gaster typed that night, “The weapon has gained Execution Points from killing Inmate #1. Its attack power has grown stronger, which confirms the King’s theory about LOVE.”

“But it is still not powerful enough… the weapon must become stronger in order to break the barrier. I shall need to obtain more inmates from the prison.”

“A few of my scientists have protested against this project... They find this method of modifying the weapon cruel and immoral… They claim that although these inmates have committed horrible crimes, they should not be treated as objects, less than any other monster.”

“I have been thinking about their words. Perhaps they are right. The monsters we use may be criminals, but they are still alive. We are taking the life of another monster simply to make a weapon more powerful.”

“Maybe this is not the only way. Is it possible to let the weapon gain more LOVE without killing?”

“Surely I, the Royal Scientist Dr. Gaster, could invent some other way to modify the weapon? But, then again, I have been trying for years… Nothing has worked. The only successful experiment has been the DT project. And even then I had to stop the project as it was destabilizing the weapon and the reservoir.”

“No. I do not have a choice. This is the only way I can strengthen the weapon as of now. Unless there is some adverse effect on the weapon, I must carry on with the project.”

 

----------

A month later, Dr. Gaster managed to obtain another criminal from the prison.

Like the one before them, the criminal was thrown into the weapon’s room and the weapon was commanded to attack it.

The weapon hesitated again, going near the criminal and sniffing at her, but not wanting to harm her. The criminal only stared at it in confusion and mild terror, unsure of how to react to it.

“ATTACK AND KILL THE MONSTER.” Dr. Gaster’s voice echoed through the room, sounding impatient.

The weapon felt conflicted. On one hand, it felt satisfying and cathartic to reduce a monster to dust. When it killed the first monster, it felt a rush of power and exhilaration that it never felt before. It had never been so happy and excited. Killing this monster would bring the same joy again.

On the other hand, it remembered the change it felt within its own SOUL, combined with the sensation of horror and disgust when the realization that it had ended a life sank in. It didn’t like that regretful and resentful feeling.

The weapon’s hesitation only earned it a painful punishment from its shock collar. But even after that, it still wasn’t sure what to do. It attempted to decide whether the satisfaction of killing this monster would be worth the unpleasant feeling of regret afterwards.

It didn’t have to decide for long. The inmate, in her terror, thought she could get away with attacking the weapon first with a magic attack. This, of course, only succeeded in making it angry.

It tore the inmate apart with some beam and bone attacks, reducing her to dust in less than five minutes.

The surge of excitement and power came again, but so did the feeling of horror and discomfort. However, the weapon noticed that the latter was slightly, ever so slightly, less than when it killed its first victim.

 

-------

Two months later, another criminal was sent into the weapon’s room and killed. The weapon still had to be forced to kill through its shock collar and being dragged towards the criminal by Gaster’s magic.

Two other criminals were sent in together a month later. Both were reduced to dust by the weapon. This time, it was much quicker to attack its victims.

A few weeks later, the weapon killed another monster taken from the prison.

This continued for about a year.

Dr. Gaster was shrewd enough to leave some time in between taking inmates from the prisons to be killed. He knew that too many criminals dying in such a short amount of time would raise suspicion. The dust of the dead inmates was placed back in their prison cells. Their deaths were framed as them falling down due to despair.

-------

“All is going well with the LOVE project,” Dr. Gaster recorded in his journal, “The weapon has recently ended the life of Inmate #9. It continues to grow stronger with each monster it kills and its power output has improved vastly. It is still not enough to break the barrier, but with a few more kills, I believe it might be able to do so.”

“I do still feel some regret for having to take the lives of monsters for this project... But, I have been able to push it aside as of late.”

“This is for the future of monsterkind, for the freedom of everyone underground… It is for the greater good. After all, it is better that the lives of these criminals are being used to help break the barrier, rather than allowing them to rot in prison.”

“However, I have some concerns…”

“I realized that one’s LOVE does not increase proportionately with the number of lives they take... For instance, to raise its LOVE from 1 to 2, the weapon only needed to kill one monster. But, to raise its LOVE from 2 to 3, it needed to kill two. This means that it requires many more kills than I have anticipated…”

“If I took too many monsters from the prisons, it is likely that the Captain and the other Royal Guards uninvolved in this project may grow suspicious. Although I wait for some time before taking another inmate, how much longer can I do this before concerns are raised about the deaths?”

“Aside from that, there are not many criminals who have been incarcerated for life... Monsters are a loving race and tend to avoid killing or harming each other. Some of these inmates also have family members who continue to visit them even in prison; killing them might lead to suspicion. Even with new criminals being caught and sentenced for life, I will eventually run out of inmates for the weapon to gain LOVE from...”

“The weapon also seems to be a bit ill as of late… It often lies down, whines and presses a paw against its chest, where its SOUL is. I hope gaining LOVE will not have an adverse physical effect. I do not want a repeat of the DT experiments… I do not want to have to end another project because of the weapon’s physical weaknesses.”

“And finally, a few of my scientists have decided to quit their jobs… They have been telling me over the past few months that they would quit if I do not stop this project. I had to allow them to resign… I cannot turn back now. Success in breaking the barrier is so close at hand.”

“Because of this, I am very concerned about the scientists that resigned. I am worried that they might report this project to the King... I cannot imagine what would happen to me if my hard work was discovered, and I do not want to risk it… I do not want to go back…”

 

-------

“The weapon has killed one of my former scientists…”

“The scientist was Belang, a tiger monster that was one of my most trusted scientists until he resigned during the LOVE project. He came to my office this evening. I assumed he wanted his job back, but instead, he asked me if I was still carrying out the project. Upon confirmation that I was, he threatened to report me to the King…”

As Dr. Gaster typed, he recalled the former scientist’s fearful expression as he was bound up by shadowy tendrils and skeletal hands summoned by Dr. Gaster. Using his magic, Dr. Gaster warped the scientist to the weapon’s room before he could react.

“I watched him die… I stood in the observation room and watched as the weapon tore him apart…”

The memory of the scientist’s screams filled him with guilt. His hands shook as he typed.

“I had no choice! It is not my fault! I cannot let all my work, all my effort go to waste!” he gritted his teeth as he typed, “There was nothing else I could do! He would not accept any bribes... ”

“I did a horrible thing… But what choice did I have? I would lose the trust of the King and all of the monsters if my project was found out… I do not want to go back to where I came from. I enjoy staying here and working as the Royal Scientist.”

“No… It is alright. No one witnessed me. I can collect his dust, leave it in a secluded place in Hotland near some lava, and make it appear that he died from an accident…”

“That is the good thing about monsters: they only leave dust after they die… No autopsies can be done to identify the cause of death. No one will know how he died…”

“Belang was one of my best scientists… He was almost a friend to me…”

To repress the guilt he was still feeling, he decided to write about something else.

“I noticed an odd change in the weapon’s behavior. During the first few experiments, I had to make it kill monsters by force. However, for the experiments as of late, as well as today, I no longer had to.”

“It did it out of its own accord...”

“It looked almost happy… satisfied… as it destroyed Belang… It even paused for a while, as if it were savoring the moment, pinning down the scientist with bone attacks and enjoying his screams, before it dealt the final blow...”

“...and, I hate to say this…”

“...but I felt like I shared the same satisfaction as I watched this happen…”

 

-------

“The Captain of the royal guards is starting to grow suspicious… One of the royal guards involved hinted at the Captain about this project,” Dr. Gaster typed a few months later.

“I found out about this through the other royal guards who are part of the LOVE project. The royal guard in question was Flameberg. According to them, she did not give the Captain any clear information about the project. She simply mentioned to the Captain that the inmates were not dying of natural causes…”

“Unfortunately, this caused the Captain to become curious and he attempted to investigate the cause of the deaths. I feared that Flameberg would eventually reveal that I was behind the deaths, so I had to do away with her…”

He remembered how he went to her house, faking a visit. He then managed to overwhelm her and warp her directly to the weapon’s room. He felt a pang of guilt as he recalled how she screamed and cursed the entire time. She even put up a good fight with the weapon before ultimately being defeated by it.

“Perhaps I should not have done this… It is likely she had no intention of revealing anything more about this project and it was simply a slip of the tongue… Did I send an innocent monster to her death?”

He sighed deeply, closing his eyes and rubbing his temple with his bony finger, before continuing to type after a few minutes of thinking.

“I suppose it is for the best… I cannot risk any mistakes. I have come too far to be found out.”

“Besides, the weapon has gained LOVE. Something good did come out of this… It was even able to defeat Flameberg, a seasoned royal guard, in combat.”

“It had no prior training in battle but showed such brutality as it whittled the royal guard’s life away with bone and beam attacks. Perhaps this is a side effect from gaining LOVE…”

“It cannot dodge attacks well, however, and it has been injured in the fight… It will need some time to recover from the burns. I shall allow it to rest for the time being.”

“I think… I, too, require some rest. I have been feeling a bit ill as of late. I have no idea what illness I have contracted, but it is making my SOUL feel very uncomfortable…”

“I shall take a few days off after dealing with the royal guard’s remains. I will leave her dust somewhere in Waterfall and frame the death as a drowning.”

 

-------

“I caught Medori, one of my scientists, attempting to report to the King about my activities... I heard from my remaining scientists that she was in a relationship with Flameberg and was suspicious about her death.

“After letting the weapon do away with her, I left her dust under a cliff at Snowdin.”

“I hope that I do not need to dispose of more monsters who know about this project. I am worried about their friends or family growing suspicious and investigating.”

 

-------

“I had to drag another royal guard to the weapon’s room…”

“I think this is the third royal guard I have taken to the weapon… Or is it the fourth? My mind has been a little cloudy lately. I can barely even remember this guard’s name.”

“To avoid more suspicion, I also sent an inmate to the weapon to be killed and collected his dust. I shall tell the other royal guards to claim that the guard and the inmate died in a fight at the prison. This will allow me to cover my tracks.”

“I checked the weapon’s LOVE after it killed each of them. I came to a realization that less LOVE was gained when it killed the royal guard, as compared to when it killed the inmate… It is likely because the inmate himself had LOVE, having been incarcerated for life for murder, while the royal guard possibly has never killed anyone.”

“It doesn't really matter anyway. The weapon is growing stronger… It will not be long now until I can finally use it to shatter the barrier.”

 

-------

“I have been keeping a close eye on the palace using security cameras... I cannot risk anyone aware of the experiments attempting to report to the King again.”

“I am also making sure no one reports to the Captain about the missing inmates, and have ceased using any more inmates for the project as of now. Perhaps the Captain’s suspicions will subside after several months...”

“Perhaps I am being too paranoid by constantly keeping watch over the King and the Captain’s residence?”

“But at the same time, I cannot take the risk. I do not want my years of effort in obtaining and modifying the weapon and the reservoir to be wasted.”

“It is for the best…”

“I still require something to raise the Execution Points of the weapon… I have attempted letting it kill non-monster animals such as mice and snails, but it does nothing for his LOVE. It seems that only killing higher beings such as monsters can raise one’s LOVE.”

“My next attempt was to search for monsters who have fallen down. Most monsters who fall down will turn to dust after a while if they cannot recover. There would be no suspicions if they died… I can simply place their dust back on their beds and it will seem like they died in bed.

“There were quite a few of such monsters at the hospital... I warped a few of them to the weapon’s room, ordering it to kill them.”

“Its LOVE was raised much slower as compared to when it killed the inmates, the scientists, or the guards. After some contemplating, I concluded that it is because the fallen monsters cannot feel any pain when killed, being deep in a comatose state. The theory is called “Level of Violence ” after all. It requires some form of pain to be felt by the victim in order to gain LOVE.”

“It appears that I need still-living monsters for this project…”

 

-------

“For the past five years, I have been warping monsters from various parts of the Underground into the weapon’s room…”

“I have been very careful about it... I wait several months before I take another monster, and I make sure the monster is completely alone before I take them.”

“I did not let any of my scientists know about this. Most of them already disapproved of the usage of inmates and fallen monsters… I would imagine they would not approve of this either.”

“Of course, I did not let them know about the scientists and royal guards I have sent to the weapon’s room.”

“More of my scientists have resigned over the years. Many royal guards who were involved in this project have also backed out. I simply let them… If they are so stubborn and refuse to accept that this is the only way the barrier can be broken, I cannot stop them.”

 

-------

“I can no longer trust the royal guards, or even my own scientists…”

“No matter how many of them I have given to the weapon or warned about the consequences of betrayal, some of them still attempt to report the project to the King or the Captain behind my back.”

“Some still remain loyal, although I am unsure if it is true loyalty or simply fear. At any rate, I must keep a close watch on them at all times.”

“Any sign of mistrust or betrayal will be dealt with very quickly… I will warp them directly to the weapon’s room.”

 

-------

“The amount of monster deaths over the years has sparked an Underground-wide investigation…”

“I did not go overboard with using monsters to raise the LOVE of the weapon, did I? No, I was very careful about this! I planned everything so meticulously. The Captain and the King are simply being too paranoid... A few monsters going missing is not a cause for alarm.”

“Still, it seems like I am one of the suspects. Very strange. Very, very odd. I am sure I did not leave any evidence or let anything slip out… Some of the scientists still loyal to me have mentioned that my attitude has changed. Apparently, I have been becoming more detached and unfeeling in recent years.”

“Absolutely ridiculous! As if I, Dr. Gaster, would let a simple experiment change me. Monsters are so sensitive nowadays…”

Dr. Gaster forced a laugh in an attempt to ignore the number of deaths he caused.

“At any rate, it is likely that my laboratory would be investigated, since I am apparently one of the suspects. I cannot risk them finding the subjects. I am sure I will be questioned about how I obtained them and my attempts to modify them… I doubt they will like the methods I used.”

“So, because of this, I have decided to hide them for a while. I have already chosen a room for this… A room large enough to house both the weapon and the reservoir’s life support system. I shall then cement over the door of the room and place metal platings over it, so that it will resemble a regular wall in this laboratory.”

“As long as I am careful to soundproof and magic-proof every inch of the room, I will not be found out. I shall do this all on my own so that no one will have knowledge about it and attempt to report to the King or the Captain.”

“I will also be deleting these journal entries off the laboratory computer network. Leaving them on the network would only risk them being used as evidence against me... I shall save a hard copy and hide it, but everything else will be removed.”

“This is the last journal entry I will be writing about the barrier project for now...”

Chapter Text

The reservoir and the weapon gazed at each other silently.

Despite being aware of each others’ existences for well over two decades, they had never seen each other before. Dr. Gaster always kept them in separate rooms, never even taking them out at the same time for their DT injections.

“I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO GIVE YOU ELABORATE INTRODUCTIONS FOR EACH OTHER, SO I WILL BE VERY BRIEF,” Dr. Gaster said, “THIS IS THE WEAPON. IT IS WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN SUPPLYING MAGICAL ENERGY TO. DO NOT ANGER IT OR YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF A PILE OF DUST IN TWO SECONDS FLAT.”

So, the reservoir thought to itself, this was the being it supplied magic to. This weapon was the cause of the immense pain it felt whenever its power was drained; pain so excruciating that it had passed out a few times during the process.

The reservoir narrowed its eye sockets. It didn’t like the weapon. But, at the same time, this was the first time it had seen someone who wasn’t Dr. Gaster or his scientists. It felt intrigued by this creature, and wanted to know more about it.

“THIS IS THE RESERVOIR,” Dr. Gaster said to the weapon, “IT IS WHAT YOU DRAW YOUR POWER FROM. DO NOT HURT IT. IT IS VERY FRAGILE AND COULD PERISH. YOU DO NOT WANT TO LOSE YOUR POWER SOURCE, DO YOU?”

The weapon growled. No, it didn’t. Even though it was powerful on its own, the weapon did not want to lose the extra bit of magic energy it could drain from the reservoir.

It tilted its head at the reservoir, sniffing at it.

What a sad looking little creature, it thought, so small and weak. Killing it will not bring much satisfaction anyway.

With the short introduction done, Dr. Gaster left the room and locked the door. After a few minutes, the two subjects heard soft scraping sounds of the door being cemented over and metal plates being placed over it so that it matched the walls of the corridor.

He had to work quickly, as the Captain might arrive soon to investigate the laboratory. He did not seal the door himself. Instead, he summoned shadowy tendrils and skeletal hands to do it for him. These appendages could do the job faster than anyone possibly could without magic, and he did not need to get his own hands dirty.

After the scraping noises stopped, the weapon turned away from the door, letting out a soft groan. The room was much smaller than it liked. It enjoyed pacing around its large room to pass time, but there was barely any space here for it to move. Most of the room was taken up by the machines that made up the reservoir’s life support system, as well as piles of books belonging to the reservoir.

It also felt annoyed at having to share a room with someone. Still, since it was trapped here, it might as well just ignore this creature and try to entertain itself.

It headed over to a corner of the room, as far away from the reservoir’s bed as possible, and laid down. Dr. Gaster had left its dog toys in the room. It picked up a toy in its mouth and began to chew on it.

The reservoir remained seated on its bed, still with the tubes and wires attached to its chest. It decided to ignore the weapon as well. There was no point trying to talk to it while it was chewing on a squeaky toy, anyway.

It laid down in bed, feeling tired from being moved from one room to another, and dozed off, despite the loud squeaking noises.

Hours later, the reservoir awoke to find the weapon standing over it, staring at it curiously.

It let out a shriek of fear upon seeing such a massive face with jaws full of sharp teeth gazing down at it. The weapon leapt back, startled by the yell. It then quickly headed back to its corner, laid down, and chewed on its toys again.

The reservoir sat up.

Its curiosity about the weapon increased. The weapon was clearly very interested in it as well, leaning over and observing the reservoir as it slept. Perhaps it would be good to get to know the weapon better.

The reservoir wasn’t sure if the weapon could speak, but decided to try talking to it anyway.

“hello,” it called out.

The weapon lifted its head slightly, surprised. It did not expect that the reservoir was able to speak.

“hello,” said the reservoir again.

The weapon didn’t turn. As curious as it was about the reservoir, it wasn’t interested in interacting with it. It had always lived in solitude and, after it had killed so many monsters, felt that socializing or forming relationships with other beings was pointless. It decided to ignore the reservoir.

“hello?” came the reservoir’s voice.

The weapon snarled, still refusing to turn around.

The reservoir decided to give up for today, feeling a little frightened by the weapon’s growl.

It laid back down on its bed and dozed off again.

-----------

 

The next day, Dr. Gaster entered the room using his teleportation magic. His appearance was so sudden that it startled both of the creatures.

He did not say a word to them. All he did was check on the reservoir’s life support system and made sure that the weapon’s collar was still intact. He then warped away from the room, seeming to be in a hurry.

After he had left, the reservoir attempted to speak to the weapon again.

“hello.”

The weapon continued to ignore it, refusing to even snarl at it.

It tried again the next day, and the next day, and again on the day after. It simply said “hello.” and waited patiently for the weapon to respond. But, day after day, the weapon still pretended that it did not exist.

Eventually, the reservoir decided to try a different method to communicate to the weapon.

It picked up one of the many books it had. Most of its books were from the Surface, found in the Waterfall dump by Dr. Gaster. Some were scientific books, puzzle books, and books on magic Dr. Gaster had found around the laboratory. He left these books with the reservoir as he had no use for them.

“i’m gonna read this book out loud,” it announced. The weapon pretended to not hear it, but it continued, “you know, i like to read books out loud sometimes, but never had anyone listen to me before. do you want to listen to me reading?”

The weapon still did not respond.

The reservoir shrugged, and began to read.

once upon a time, there was an island full of bunnies. on the island lived a small fluffy bunny. it lived in a large burrow with its family. it had a papa bunny, a mama bunny, many brother bunnies, and many sister bunnies.

The reservoir wasn’t very good at reading; it faltered a few times and mispronounced words, but still kept going.

even though it looked like the other bunnies in its family, it was much smaller. it had tiny paws, a tiny face, and tiny eyes. the only things that were big on it were its long, long ears and very fluffy bobtail.

because it was so tiny, it was often forgotten by its family. it was left out when its siblings played games together.

The weapon lifted its head slightly, still turned away from the reservoir.

one day, its siblings went to play hide and seek with the other bunnies living on the island. the fluffy bunny followed its siblings, wanting to play too.

when the game started, it ran off to find a place to hide. it found a small hole under a bush. ‘oh!’, it said, ‘this is a good hiding spot!’ it squeezed its tiny body in the hole, and waited to be found.

it waited and waited…

morning turned to evening, and evening turned to night…

but no other bunny found it…

it had been forgotten…

The weapon had now turned towards the reservoir, slowly inching nearer and nearer towards the bed as it grew invested in the fate of this poor bunny.

the fluffy bunny gave up waiting. it crawled out of the hole, ready to go home. it looked around. everything was dark. everything looked strange and different.

it felt scared. where was the bright sun that shone in the sky? where were the singing birds? where were the blooming flowers?

in its fear, it began to run around. it was so dark that it couldn’t see where it was going. it just kept running and running, hoping to find its nice, warm burrow.

but it never found its burrow…

it soon realized that it was very, very lost…

The weapon was now resting its head on the reservoir’s bed, eyes wide in interest. Its head was so large that it took up more than half of the bed.

the fluffy bunny sat down on the grass and began to cry. it cried and cried. it missed its burrow, and it missed its family. even though it was often forgotten, it felt nice to belong somewhere. it just wanted to go home.

suddenly, it heard a rustle coming from the bushes nearby.

it felt scared and began shivering. it had heard tales about other creatures that ate small bunnies, like owls, foxes, and wolves. was it going to be eaten? will it never see the sun, the birds, and the flowers again?

to its surprise, rather than a scary beast, out from the nearby bushes came a small child holding a lantern. the child gazed at the bunny for a while, and said, “hello, little bunny. are you lost?”.

“you poor thing. i’ll take you home. i’ve always wanted a little bunny. i will give you good food and a warm home. you don’t have to stay out here in the cold anymore.”

the child gently picked up the bunny and took it back to his house.

the bunny was given a lovely hutch to stay in. the child fed it fresh vegetables and played with it everyday.

the fluffy bunny finally found a home where it was loved and never forgotten. it lived happily ever after.

the end.

The reservoir closed the book, turned to the weapon, and grinned at it. It had noticed that the weapon had been moving nearer to its bed as it read. Seeing the big, terrifying beast kneel before him with rapt attention, like puppies it had seen in its picture books, was quite a hilarious sight. Still, the reservoir stifled a chuckle: it didn't want to startle the weapon with its laughter.

“did you like the story?” it asked.

The weapon nodded, wagging its tail.

“do you want me to read another one?”

The nodding and tail-wagging continued.

“okay. you can pick a book you’d like me to read.”

The weapon turned to the pile of books, tilting its head. It picked up a formal-looking hardcover book with its mouth and placed it on the bed beside the reservoir.

The reservoir opened the book to the first page, but shook its head.

“i can’t read this,” it said sadly, “i’m not very good at reading. there’s too many words in this book and they’re all so small.”

It showed the weapon the book, which was a classical novel from the Surface with a rather complicated story. The weapon nodded in understanding when it saw how tiny the words were.

“i’ll read any simple book for you. pick one with lots of pictures and with big words, okay?”

-----------

 

From then on, the reservoir read to the weapon every day. They would take turns to pick a book for the reservoir to read. While it read, the weapon would sit by the bed, listening attentively to the story.

The reservoir was happy to have such a good listener. It read more than it ever did before and, because of this, its reading improved. It also began to attempt harder books, wanting to read new stories for the weapon.

It still felt tired easily and often dozed off, sometimes while it was reading. This annoyed the weapon greatly.

At first it would use its paw to shake the bed, waking the reservoir up so that it would continue reading. But, after a while, it began to understand how weak the reservoir was. It started to feel sorry for the reservoir, noticing how it tired it looked every time it was denied sleep.

It decided to let the reservoir sleep peacefully when it dozed off, entertaining itself with its toys while waiting for the reservoir to wake up. Sometimes, it would take a nap as well, resting its head on the bed beside the reservoir, being very gentle as to not wake it.

When the reservoir was too tired to read but not sleepy enough to doze off, both of them would look at books about puzzles or science. They couldn't understand much of these complicated books, but it was still nice to simply sit together, flipping through books and looking at the strange diagrams, numbers, and complex words.

During this time, the reservoir would talk to the weapon. The weapon, of course, could not reply. It was just happy to listen to what the reservoir had to say, often nodding and wagging its tail in response.

“i’ve never been outside the lab before, but i really wanna go outside someday,” the reservoir once said, “have you ever wanted to see what the outside world looks like?”

The weapon replied with a nod.

“i think some parts of it looks a bit like that book about the human boy who goes into a magical forest to play with his animal friends. lots of forests and rivers. sometimes there’s snow, and then the monsters stay inside near their fireplaces. everyone lives inside comfy houses made from trees.”

The weapon wagged its tail, liking the idea of comfortable, warm homes.

"maybe there's lots of stars out there too. lots of stars, planets, nebulas." it picked up a book on astronomy that has came from the Surface, flipping to a page with a fully colored painting of the Solar System, "look how pretty it is. when i'm allowed to go outside, i wanna see this for myself."

The weapon thought it was pretty as well, but it wasn't as interested in it. It felt more interest in books from the Surface that were about human paintings, as well as books about cars.

“i wanna see the human world too. the humans seems very nice but also very scary, based on some of these books,” the reservoir said thoughtfully, “but i wanna go to the surface someday. maybe, one day, we both can finally break the barrier dr. gaster always talks about, then we can see what the humans are like.”

The weapon's expression brightened. It, too, was curious about what humans were like. The reservoir smiled when it saw the weapon's excitement, but its smile soon faded.

“the doctor… i don’t think he’ll ever let us out. he’s been getting meaner lately. i mean, he was never nice to us, but lately he's gotten more angry and rough. i'm scared of him."

The weapon felt the same way.

"i wish he would be like you. you were scary when you first came to stay with me, but now you're so nice to me."

The weapon wagged its tail at being called "nice", feeling happy and rather proud of itself as it didn't receive praise often.

"if the doctor ever lets us out of the lab, i want to become a scientist. a good scientist, not like the doctor at all. scientists are supposed to do great things for people, according to some of these books. i want to make stuff to help the monsters."

The weapon nodded. It wasn't quite sure what it wanted to be if it was ever released from the laboratory, but it did like the idea of helping monsters.

"anyway," the reservoir said, picking up another book, "it's time for me to read something to you. i'm gonna read from this book of puns again, okay?"

The weapon groaned, butting its head gently against the reservoir to express its annoyance.

"heh, it's my turn to choose something to read." the reservoir grinned, "and besides, some of these puns are pretty funny."

" why did the snowman put on sunglasses? because it wanted to look cool. "

The weapon let out a small screech, stumbling backwards as if the pun had physically injured it. This reaction only further amused the reservoir.

"what's wrong? did the pun chill you to the bone ?"

The weapon frowned. It opened its mouth as if it wanted to scold the reservoir for that terrible pun, but could only let out a low growl.

The reservoir smiled widely, reaching out to pet the weapon's face. "sorry, i'll stop. let me pick a nice story book to read to you, okay?"

The weapon nodded. It leaned into the reservoir's tiny hand as it wagged its tail. It didn't mind the puns that much, although it felt that many of them were terrible. It mostly reacted in that way because it knew that its reactions made the reservoir smile.

It liked the reservoir a lot and it wished that it was able to express this feeling. It wanted to be able to reply to the reservoir when it spoke, aside from just wagging its tail or nodding. The reservoir was the first person to ever show kindness to it. It wished that it could tell the reservoir how much it enjoyed being read to, how much it liked it when the reservoir petted it on its head.

At the same time, the reservoir also wished that it was not so weak and tired at all times. It enjoyed spending time with the weapon and it knew that weapon loved being read to. Sleeping often meant less time spent reading or talking to the weapon. It wished that it could grow stronger and less tired.

All it could do now was make the best of its time spent awake, by reading and talking to the weapon as much as it could.

-----------

 

One day, a few months since they were locked in the room together, the reservoir awoke to find the weapon resting its head on the reservoir's shoulder, fast asleep.

It smiled, giving the weapon a little pet, which made it whine and wag its tail happily.

The reservoir was about to doze off again when it came to a sudden realization. How was the weapon able to rest its head on its shoulder? The weapon had always been too big to even get onto the bed, as its head was already large enough to cover more than half the bed.

It got up, jolting the weapon awake. The weapon opened its eyes and gave it a look of annoyance, unhappy with being awoken so suddenly.

"how did you get onto the bed?" the reservoir asked.

The weapon tilted its head.

"you used to only be able to put your head on the bed, but now you can put most of your body on it."

The weapon looked surprised. It gazed down the length of its body, coming to realize that it was now small enough to fit most of its body, besides its hind legs and tail, onto the bed.

"did you grow smaller?"

The weapon shrugged, and opened its mouth.

"AI DU NU."

The reservoir's eye sockets widened. "did you just speak!?" it exclaimed, raising its voice for the first time since it met the weapon.

The weapon looked even more startled. It stumbled backwards, falling off the bed onto the floor, and scrambled to stand upright.

The reservoir was now kneeling on the bed, gazing up at the weapon in excitement.

"do it again! try to say something simple, like 'hello'!"

The weapon opened its mouth after some hesitation and tried again.

"HA NO."

Its voice was very loud, sounding a bit like a mix between a roar and a screech. It also could not pronounce its words well. Still, it was now able to vaguely form words rather than simply screech or snarl; that alone was amazing to both of the beings.

The reservoir was full of excitement. It completely forgot about how sleepy it was and had leapt off its bed, looking at the weapon closely. It noted that, aside from shrinking, the weapon looked less intimidating. Its horns and claws were less sharp, the spikes present along its backbone were blunter, and its head looked a bit rounder.

“you look...different…” the reservoir said, walking unsteadily around the weapon. The wires and tubes connected to its chest trailed along behind it. “that’s weird, has this ever happened before?”

It noticed that the weapon was gazing at it in confusion, while stepping out of the way to avoid being entangled in the wires and tubes.

“why're you staring at me like that?”

The weapon looked at the bed, at the wires and tubes, and back at the reservoir. Seeing that the reservoir still could not understand, it attempted to speak again.

“SSS-DEN-DE-EENG.”

“what?”

“YUU ARR SSS-DEN-DE-EENG.”

It took the reservoir a while to be able to decipher what the weapon was saying, “you are...standing?” it finally said.

The weapon nodded and wagged its tail.

“i...i am…” it looked down, stunned, “...i am standing…”.

It continued to gaze down, overwhelmed with amazement. It attempted to take a few more steps and stumbled slightly, which caused the weapon to immediately place its head near the reservoir to stop it from falling over.

Still, it was able to leave its bed on its own for the first time, and was even able to take a few steps. It had never been strong enough to do so before.

“i...i can walk…” it whispered, tears of joy filling its eye sockets, “i’m strong enough to walk on my own. and you-” it turned to the weapon, “-you can talk, and you look less scary now. i don’t know why this is happening, but it makes me so happy…”

Seeing the reservoir happy made the weapon excited as well. It nuzzled its snout against the reservoir, wagging its tail so hard that it thumped on the floor. The reservoir hugged the weapon, petting its head while tears of delight continued to fall from its eye sockets.

“wait, i need to teach you to talk properly,” the reservoir said, “i've an idea. we can use my books to do that.”

It headed back to the bed, sat down, and picked up the first book it read to the weapon. The weapon climbed onto the bed and settled down beside it.

“i’ll read a line first, and then you just need to repeat after me. okay?” the weapon nodded, and the reservoir began to read, “ once upon a time, there was an island full of bunnies.

“WOO-A-SS AA-PU-NE A TIE-AM,” began the weapon, before hesitating, realizing how horribly it was butchering the words.

“it’s fine, you’re doing very well. say it again. “once upon a time”.”

The weapon tried again, managing to pronounce the words better this time.

“see? you’re doing great. let’s keep reading, okay?”

-----------

 

"So, that's how you met Sans?" Flowey suddenly spoke up halfway through Papyrus' story, “Honestly, your past doesn't sound very different from Chara's. You were both in similar situations, kinda."

"What do you mean?" Chara responded indignantly, "We are very much not alike. Do not compare me to him."

"You were both trapped in a facility, had only one friend, and were forced to kill people. It sounds pretty similar," observed Frisk.

Chara made a frustrated noise, realizing that Flowey and Frisk were right. Papyrus was not lying when he mentioned that he could understand their situation, as he had almost the same experience.

"Continue the story, Papyrus," they finally said, trying to change the subject, "How did this Gaster person react?"

-----------

 

Dr. Gaster, during this time, had been trying to carry out his duties as if nothing had happened. He was under investigation, being one of the main suspects behind the disappearances of many monsters and prison inmates. Both his regular and true, hidden laboratory had been thoroughly searched by the Royal Guards.

They never found the hidden room; it blended in with the wall so well that they missed it completely. Due to the magic-cancelling barrier Dr. Gaster had built into the room walls, not even the dog monsters were able to sniff out the room as they were unable to detect the subjects' magic energy behind those walls.

The scientists and guards who knew about the project were baffled by the sudden disappearance of the weapon and the reservoir, but they were too frightened to question Dr. Gaster. Those who wanted him to be  for his crimes were disappointed, realizing that there being no evidence meant that Dr. Gaster would get off scot free.

The investigation continued for many months. Dr. Gaster knew that it would be dangerous to run any experiments with the two subjects for now, so he continued to keep them in the room. He did not interact with the subjects much; only warped himself into the room once a week to check on the subjects.

Despite being a very intelligent, observant scientist, he did not realize there was a change of behavior between both the subjects. They had started off distant, with the weapon sitting in a corner of the room as far away from the reservoir’s bed as possible. He did not notice that the weapon had slowly grown closer and closer to the reservoir over the weeks, resting nearer and nearer the reservoir’s bed until it even slept with its head on the bed. He took no interest in this change at all.

He did, however, finally notice the changes when he saw that the weapon had shrunk.

He had teleported into the room for his checkup routine when he saw two worrisome things. One: The weapon was, overall, less...threatening; it no longer towered over him and its claws and spikes were blunter. Two: its collar was rather loose now, hanging limply from its thinner neck.

Rather than being confused by this difference, he looked annoyed, almost angry. He walked around the weapon, observing it in silence, glaring so hard at it that both beings felt terrified.

“WHAT HAPPENED TO IT!?” he asked, turning to the reservoir.

“i...i don’t know…” the reservoir whimpered, covering half of its face with its blanket.

“WHEN DID IT SHRINK?”

“i...i…”

“FEE-EW DAI-ZE A-GO.”

Dr. Gaster leapt back from the weapon, not expecting it to speak.

The weapon was expecting the scientist to look impressed by its newfound ability. Instead, Dr. Gaster looked even more frustrated.

“NO. NO. THIS IS ALL WRONG,” he muttered to himself, “THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! I SPECIFICALLY MADE IT LESS INTELLIGENT! IT WAS SIMPLY SUPPOSED TO BE A SENTIENT WEAPON. NOTHING MORE! ITS ABILITY TO SPEAK MEANS THAT IT HAS LEARNED TO THINK FOR ITSELF. THINKING FOR ITSELF MEANS DEFIANCE. IT IS ALREADY QUITE DEFIANT AND NOW IT WILL SIMPLY GET WORSE! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? WHERE DID I GO WRONG? NO. DO NOT PANIC. I SIMPLY NEED TO DISCIPLINE IT MORE. BE MORE STRICT.”

He turned back to the weapon.

“SIT.”

It sat down hurriedly, still terrified.

Dr. Gaster stepped towards it, raising one hand to tighten the collar around its neck.

Unfortunately, the weapon associated Dr. Gaster raising his hand with pain and punishment, as this was what he did when he summoned tendrils or hands to pin it down or drag it around. It automatically ducked back, whimpering.

“I SAID, SIT.”

The weapon continued to back away, eyes staring at Dr. Gaster’s hand in terror.

“STAY STILL!”

The weapon was too afraid to do so.

Dr. Gaster let out a frustrated sigh. He once again summoned the shadowy tendrils and skeletal hands, which slammed the weapon onto the floor so violently that it screeched in pain.

“no!”, cried the reservoir, “let him go!”

It leapt off its bed and attempted to run to the weapon. As it was still unable to walk well, it fell over onto the floor, but still attempted to move towards the weapon.

Dr. Gaster was as surprised by this as he was when the weapon spoke.

Ignoring the reservoir that was trying to crawl towards the weapon, he headed straight to a monitor that was connected to the reservoir’s life support system. He gazed at the numbers and graphs on the screen in silence for a few minutes.

“FASCINATING,” he mumbled to himself, “IT HAS GROWN STRONGER. PERHAPS SOMETHING GOOD HAS COME OF THIS AFTER ALL. IF THE WEAPON IS STILL AS STRONG AS IT WAS DESPITE THE DECREASE IN SIZE, THERE MAY STILL BE SOME HOPE IN THIS PROJECT.”

The reservoir had placed both arms around the weapon’s head, petting it and trying to comfort it. The weapon gently laid its head on the reservoir’s knee, still whimpering.

Dr. Gaster checked his watch. It was currently the time when the Royal Guards were changing shifts. They would not be patrolling the Underground at this moment. He could quickly kidnap a monster and warp them into his laboratory, keeping them bound up in tendrils to prevent them from escaping or fighting back.

He planned to carry out a quick test in a few hours, when it was 'night' underground and most of the monsters would be asleep. There would still be guards patrolling at that time, but it was less likely they would investigate his laboratory at that time.

"I SHALL RETURN IN A FEW HOURS," he said to the subjects, "I WILL DO A SHORT EXPERIMENT ON YOU. BE READY BY THEN."

He made one of his summoned hands tighten the collar around the weapon's neck, causing it to whine. He then released the weapon from the tendrils and hands.

With that done, he vanished from the room, leaving the weapon and the reservoir still huddled together in fright in the corner of the room.

Chapter Text

Dr. Gaster returned to the room that night, once again startling the two beings. They were both sitting on the bed, reading a puzzle book together in an attempt to calm their nerves.

The scientist snatched the book from them and began to disconnect the reservoir from its life support system. He pressed a few buttons on the monitor, and, with loud hissing and sputtering noises, the tubes and wires detached themselves from the reservoir's SOUL.

The reservoir cringed. It did not like when its life support was removed. The process hurt, and it felt even weaker and more tired when it was not plugged into the life support system.

To its surprise, the pain was far less than before and it did not feel as faint. It attempted to stand up and found that it could do so, even though it was too weak to stand for long without stumbling.

The weapon pushed its snout gently at the reservoir, allowing it to grip onto its head while it attempted to stay upright.

Dr. Gaster took no notice of this. He created a portal around the two subjects, engulfing them in shadows that dragged them through a tear in time and space. The subjects found themselves in the weapon's old room.

The Royal Scientist appeared in the observation room, gazing down at the subjects from one of the windows.

"IT APPEARS THAT STAYING IN CLOSE PROXIMITY WITH EACH OTHER HAS CHANGED THE BOTH OF YOU IN SOME WAY," Dr. Gaster's voice blared over the intercom, "THE RESERVOIR HAS GROWN STRONGER, BUT THE WEAPON HAS SHRUNK IN SIZE. HOWEVER, I AM CURIOUS TO KNOW IF THE WEAPON HAS GROWN STRONGER AS WELL, DESPITE ITS NEGATIVE GROWTH. TODAY'S TEST WILL DETERMINE THAT. I AM ABOUT TO SEND A MONSTER INTO THE ROOM. WEAPON, YOU SHOULD KNOW VERY WELL WHAT YOU NEED TO DO."

A terrified monster, bound in shadow tendrils, was warped into the room. Upon being released from the tendrils, they leapt up and ran for the door, pounding and scraping at it when they realized that it was locked.

"ATTACK AND KILL," Dr. Gaster commanded.

Kill? thought the reservoir. It had some understanding about death due to some of the darker story books it read. Was Dr. Gaster commanding the weapon to kill this monster? The weapon wouldn't do such a terrible thing, would it?

It turned to the weapon and, upon seeing its face, gave a soft, frightened gasp.

As soon as the weapon saw the monster and heard the words "ATTACK AND KILL.", it felt a sudden rush of adrenaline. The memory of how exhilarating it was to reduce monsters to dust came surging back. The orange lights in its eyes burned brighter and its face twisted into a wicked smile. It hadn't been allowed to kill for a few months and was ecstatic to do it again.

It started prowling towards its victim, baring its teeth. It completely forgot that the reservoir was still holding onto it, ignoring the reservoir as it fell over from the lack of support. It was only focused on ending this monster's life and gaining satisfaction from the kill.

The monster let out a small scream when they saw the weapon heading towards them. They turned back to the door and continuing to pound at it in their panic.

The weapon grinned, silently laughing at this pathetic display. It summoned a few bones and stabbed the monster at all sides, causing them to shriek in pain as dust bled out from their wounds.

The reservoir could only watch in disbelief. How could someone as gentle and sweet as the weapon do such a terrible thing!? Was this what the weapon did before they met? It couldn't be! The weapon had always been so tender and loving towards it! But yet, here it was, torturing this innocent monster…

The weapon stared as the monster cried and struggled for a while, savoring the moment. It then opened its mouth to fire a blast of magic at the monster.

But, even after that blast, the monster was still alive, still struggling weakly to escape from the bones.

The weapon tilted its head. How strange. It wasn't able to summon as much power as it was usually able to. Perhaps it was due to the change in its size? In that case, all it needed to do was to force itself to return to its usual size. Its strength should go back to normal as well.

It closed its eyes, visualizing its old form in its mind and focusing on transforming into that form. Eventually, it felt itself growing larger. Even though it felt intense burning pain on all parts of its body while doing so, it ignored the pain and kept growing, excited to finish the monster off.

Finally, when it felt that it was strong enough. It opened its mouth and fired another beam of magic at the monster, instantly killing it.

The monster fell into a pile of dust that scattered across the floor.

Once again, the feeling of ecstasy washed over it. It raised its head to look at Dr. Gaster, grinning widely.

Its feeling of pride was cut short when it heard a cry from the reservoir.

It turned, and was horrified to see the reservoir on the floor, whimpering and sobbing as it withered in agony.

It rushed back to the reservoir and gently nudged it with its snout. The reservoir barely noticed it, but simply continued to struggle and cry.

The weapon began to panic. What was happening to it!? Why was it in so much pain that it could not respond? What should it do?

It whined, still nudging at the reservoir gently, wondering if it could help the reservoir somehow.

“PAY NO MIND TO THE RESERVOIR,” ordered Dr. Gaster, “IT FEELS PAIN EVERY TIME YOU DRAW POWER FROM IT. TO RETURN TO YOUR TRUE FORM, YOU REQUIRE MORE ENERGY THAN YOU POSSESS AND YOU HAD TO DRAIN MAGIC FROM THE RESERVOIR.”

These words felt like a stab through the weapon’s SOUL.

This was the first time it realized that it was causing the reservoir an unbearable amount of pain every time it drained energy from it. It was hurting this poor, frail creature, the first being to ever show kindness to it, for its own selfish gain.

For the first time in its life, tears began to fall from its eyes. It curled itself around the reservoir and nuzzled at it in an attempt to comfort it.

If this was what the reservoir had to go through every time it drew power from it, then it would never do so ever again. It didn’t want to cause the reservoir anymore pain.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Dr. Gaster asked, puzzled by the weapon’s reaction. The weapon never liked to be touched by anyone, often attacking him or his scientists whenever they attempted to touch it. Yet here it was, willingly nuzzling at the reservoir while curled around it protectively.

He decided to shrug it off, there was no time to bother about this. He had to clean up the monster's dust before 'morning' came.

"THERE WILL BE ANOTHER EXPERIMENT TOMORROW," he announced to the weapon, "KEEP YOUR TRUE FORM UNTIL THEN. DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO SHRINK."

With that said, he warped the three of them back to the hidden room. He reconnected the reservoir to its life support system, before disappearing, silently planning on where to hide the dust of the dead monster.

The weapon immediately curled up around the reservoir again, still attempting to comfort it. Large drops of tears continued to fall from its eye sockets.

A few minutes later, the reservoir’s pain began to subside. It stopped struggling, opening its eye sockets to look at the weapon.

“i’m okay,” it said weakly, “i’m fine, don’t worry about me.”

The weapon wasn’t convinced, still nuzzling at the reservoir and refusing to uncurl itself.

“no, it’s okay. the pain isn't that bad anymore." it reached out to pet the weapon's face and wipe away its tears. The tears felt boiling hot, which made it pull back its hand in pain.

“SORR-EE,” whimpered the weapon, “DO NO-TH WAH-ANT TO HUR-TH YOU.”

“i touched those tears after all. it’s not your fault.”

“NO-TH DAT. I C-AUU-SSE PH-AAIN WH-EEN I DR-AAIN MAA-GH-IICK.”

“oh.”

The reservoir glanced away from the weapon, feeling rather conflicted.

It hated having to feel such agony every time its magic was drained. It knew that storing and supplying magic was what it was created for, but it wished that it wasn't so, especially not when it had to suffer through pain every time that happened.

But, at the same time, it understood why the weapon needed to drain its power. Being a weapon was its only purpose, it was simply doing what it was made for. Like itself, the weapon couldn't choose to be anything else.

"it's okay," the reservoir said after some thinking, "you're just doing your job as a weapon. and besides, the doctor will get angry if we don't obey him. i don't want him to get angry at you if you shrink again, or become less powerful. i'll keep supplying magic to you and try to stand the pain. don't worry about me."

The weapon shook its head, not liking the reservoir's self-sacrificing attitude.

"still…" the reservoir looked away, expression growing sad, "i wish he wouldn't make you kill monsters. was this what he was making you do before you met me?"

The weapon nodded, puzzled at the reservoir's sadness.

"but why? why does he want you to kill those monsters?"

"TH-OO GE-T STR-OONG-GERR."

"to get stronger? why would killing other people make you stronger?"

The weapon shrugged. It knew nothing about the Level of Violence, as Dr. Gaster had never explained that theory to it before.

"it's not right. when people die in some of those books-" the reservoir pointed towards its piles of books, "-there's people who will get sad, unless it's a bad guy who dies. people are happy when the bad guy dies. but, when a good guy dies, people are sad. the person's friends and family will cry over that person's death."

"it's almost always the bad guys who kill the good guy. you don't want to be a bad guy, do you?"

The weapon shook its head, slowly beginning to understand why the reservoir was so upset.

"imagine if someone killed you. i'll be very sad and lonely, like the people in the books when a good person dies. or imagine if someone killed me, you'll be sad too, right?"

The weapon's eyes widened in horror, and the weight of its horrible actions began crashing down on it.

It began to feel very guilty. What if the monsters it killed had friends or family that were still alive? They would be depressed over the monster's death, the same way it would be devastated if someone killed the reservoir. They would have mourned for months, wishing and waiting in vain for the monster to come back to them.

The weapon whimpered, covering its face with its large paws.

The reservoir stroked its head gently. “but, even though i think that killing those monsters is a bad thing, i get why you have to do it. the doctor would be angry if you didn’t, wouldn’t he?”

The weapon peered at the reservoir from behind its paws and nodded. It pointed one of its phalanges at its collar.

“PUH-AAIN,”

“pain? does the thing around your neck hurt you if you don’t listen to the doctor?”

The weapon nodded and whined.

“i could take it off for you.” the reservoir moved forward, reaching for the collar. It hesitated for a while before lowering its hands. “i could...but dr. gaster would be angry…” It looked conflicted as it shook its head, “i’m sorry. i wish i could help you, but i’m scared of the doctor.”

The weapon understood.

“if the doctor forces you to kill those monsters, i can’t stop you. i don’t want him to be angry with you.” The reservoir sighed, leaning its back against the weapon and looking miserable, “there really is no way out of this...is there?...”

The weapon responded by nuzzling the reservoir. No, it thought, there must be a way out of this. It was now determined to never hurt the reservoir again. It also made up its mind to not kill any more monsters. This would incite Dr. Gaster’s wrath against it, but it didn’t care.

Both of them soon dozed off, with the weapon still curled around the reservoir and the reservoir snuggled up against it.

 

-----------

 

The next day, they were woken up by Dr. Gaster.

Like the day before, he disconnected the reservoir from its life support system and warped both of them to the weapon’s room. He sent another kidnapped monster into the room and ordered the weapon to kill them.

But the weapon refused.

It stood still, not moving an inch.

“DO AS I SAY.”

The monster was sitting in a fetal position against a wall, too terrified to fight back or try to escape. The weapon completely ignored them. It was struggling against its desire to kill, desperately fighting back the feeling of excitement and adrenaline. It tried its hardest to focus only on the reservoir, remembering how kind the reservoir had treated it and how devastated it would be if anyone killed the reservoir.

“WEAPON, ATTACK AND KILL THE MONSTER. NOW.” Dr. Gaster’s voice grew more impatient and furious.

The weapon gazed up at the observation room. There was no trace of fear in its expression.

“what're you doing?” the reservoir asked, frightened. It was once again standing upright while leaning against the weapon for support, “the doctor will get angry at you.”

The weapon did not care.

It suddenly moved away from the reservoir quickly, causing the reservoir to stumble. It did this just in time, as a jolt of electricity was sent to it through its collar, causing it to fall over and screech in pain.

The reservoir attempted to put its arms around the weapon to comfort it, but the weapon avoided it, not wanting it to be electrocuted.

Dr. Gaster turned off the collar after a few seconds. “ATTACK AND KILL,” he ordered again.

"NO," replied the weapon shortly, still staring fearlessly towards the observation room.

Dr. Gaster was taken aback by the weapon's indignant response. His surprise quickly gave way to anger, as he sent another shock of electricity through the weapon's collar. This time, in his fury, he kept his hand on the button far longer than he had ever done before.

The electric shock went on for a minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. The weapon had gritted its teeth, tears filling its eye sockets, but valiantly trying to withstand the pain. It stubbornly refused to comply with the scientist, keeping its thoughts solely on the reservoir.

The reservoir couldn't bear to see its only friend in such pain. It looked upwards towards the observation room. “stop! stop it!” it begged, as loudly as it could, “stop hurting him!”

The punishment continued, but the weapon still refused to harm the monster.

"please!" the reservoir began to cry as well, "please stop!"

Dr. Gaster did eventually stop; not out of mercy, but simply because he was tired of waiting. This method of discipline clearly had lost its effectiveness; he would have to find another way to deal with the weapon's disobedience.

The weapon flopped onto the floor, almost losing consciousness. The reservoir immediately rushed to its side, threw its arms around its head, and held onto it as tightly as it could.

The monster was still huddled in a corner, barely aware of what was happening. Dr. Gaster simply summoned a blaster into the room, which startled the two subjects, and killed it with a few blasts of energy. He couldn't risk this monster getting out and being a witness to his crimes.

"WEAPON, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?" Dr. Gaster's voice was low, but shaking with anger.

The weapon raised its head after some struggle, “NO MO-OORE KH-IIL-LING,” it answered weakly.

“YOU ARE A WEAPON. CAUSING DESTRUCTION IS YOUR ONLY PURPOSE. AFTER YOU SUCCEED IN BREAKING THE BARRIER AND FREEING THE MONSTERS, YOU ARE TO BECOME MONSTERKIND’S DEFENCE AGAINST THE HUMANS. YOU MUST KILL ANY HUMAN WHO STANDS IN OUR WAY. YOU CANNOT SHOW ANY MERCY. DESPITE EVERYTHING, YOU ARE STILL A WEAPON. YOU WERE MADE TO KILL.”

This was news to both of the subjects. Horrifying news. They had always thought their only goal was to break the barrier and free the monsters, as this was what they had been told all their lives. It was only now that they realized there was far more to that.

They now understand that as soon as the barrier was broken, the weapon would be the first in line to fight against the humans while drawing power from the reservoir. Once they crossed the barrier, they would become machines of war, tools to be used to destroy humans.

Neither of them liked this idea.

“NO. NO KH-IL-LING HUU-MAANS,” the weapon said, feeling deeply disgusted and horrified by the thought of having to kill hundreds, or even thousands of humans.

“YOU DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. WE DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY THAT THE HUMANS WILL ATTACK MONSTERKIND ONCE THEY REACH THE SURFACE. AS A POWERFUL WEAPON, YOU ARE TO DESTROY THOSE WHO OPPOSE THE MONSTERS. THE RESERVOIR WILL SUPPLY YOU WITH ALL THE POWER YOU REQUIRE.”

“you didn’t tell us this,” the reservoir’s thin, frightened voice piped up, “you only said we had to break the barrier.”

“THAT WAS YOUR INITIAL PURPOSE. WHEN I FIRST OBTAINED AND MODIFIED BOTH OF YOU, I ONLY HAD THE BARRIER IN MIND. BUT WHEN I STARTED THE LOVE EXPERIMENT, I BEGAN THINKING ABOUT HOW THE HUMANS WOULD REACT ONCE THE MONSTERS WERE FREED FROM THE BARRER. IT SOON BECAME CLEAR TO ME THAT MOST HUMANS WILL BE DISPLEASED BY THE PRESENCE OF MONSTERS. IT IS LIKELY A WAR WILL BREAK OUT. I THEN REALIZED THAT I COULD USE YOU AS WEAPONS AGAINST THE HUMANS.”

The weapon shook its head. It remembered some of the human characters from the books, especially the child from the fluffy bunny story. It was certain there were good humans on the Surface and it had no desire to harm them.

“DO-ONT WAA-NT TO HH-UURT HUU-MAANS. CAN BE FR-EENDS. BE-FR-EEND HUU-MAANS. NO MM-OORE KH-IL-LING.”

“BEFRIEND HUMANS? IT IS MORE LIKELY THAT THEY WILL KILL YOU BEFORE YOU ARE EVEN ABLE TO SAY A WORD TO THEM.”

“WH-ILL BE-FR-EEND GO-OOD HUU-MAANS. NOT AH-LL HUU-MAANS AH-RE BAD."

"IN TIMES OF WAR, THERE IS NO WAY TO IDENTIFY IF AN ENEMY IS GOOD OR BAD. THEY ARE SIMPLY ENEMIES THAT MUST BE DEFEATED. THE BOTH OF YOU HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED WAR. I HAVE WITNESSED MANY, AND I HAVE SEEN THE AFTERMATH OF THE GREAT HUMAN-MONSTER WAR. YOU CANNOT SHOW ANY MERCY IN WAR. IT IS KILLED OR BE KILLED, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"

The weapon felt conflicted. After hearing Dr. Gaster's explanation, it understood the need to kill if a war broke out. To protect others, one must sometimes kill the opposition, even if the opposition was a good person.

But then, it recalled, in disgust, the feeling of adrenaline and excitement when it killed monsters and felt its own strength growing. It wasn't killing to protect anyone; it was murdering monsters for its own selfish gain.

It remembered the terrified expressions on its victims’ faces as they died. Many of those monsters were likely innocent; they were simply trying to live their lives and possibly had family and friends who would be devastated if they died. It was sure that this would be the same for the humans it had to kill.

The weapon felt sick with disgust and guilt, growing even more determined to never kill again. It raised its head to look at the observation room again and obstinately replied, "NO. WH-ILL NO-T KH-ILL."

Dr. Gaster suddenly appeared before the two subjects, materializing from a dark void. The permanent grin on his face was twisted with anger and the lights in his eye sockets gleaming brighter than ever. The shadows in the room seemed to grow darker as soon as he appeared.

The two subjects shrieked in fear and attempted to back away from him. They had never seen the Royal Scientist this furious before, as he usually managed to keep a calm demeanor even when he was angry.

Dr. Gaster turned the weapon's SOUL blue, lifted the weapon off the ground, and pulled it towards him. He brought the weapon's face close to his, glaring directly at it and causing it to whine in terror.

"ENOUGH INSOLENCE, YOU STUPID, NAIVE CREATURE. CAN YOU NOT COMPREHEND HOW THE WORLD WORKS? SHOWING MERCY AND KINDNESS WILL ONLY LEAD TO YOUR DEATH. YOU, AS A WEAPON, MUST ONLY SHOW STRENGTH AND BRUTALITY." His voice sounded like a deep snarl, "I SHALL ONLY ASK YOU THIS ONCE: WILL YOU BE AN OBEDIENT WEAPON AND CONTINUE TO KILL TO GROW STRONGER?"

The weapon, in spite of its terror, still shook its head stubbornly.

"NO."

Dr. Gaster's eyes gleamed even brighter as he gritted his teeth. He lifted the weapon up higher, causing the reservoir to fall over as it tried to reach for the weapon in an attempt to drag it back down to the floor.

Sharp, jagged bones suddenly shot up all along the walls and ceiling of the room.

"THEN BURN IN HELL."

Dr. Gaster slammed the weapon onto the floor, before lifting it up at such speed that it crashed into the ceiling. The jagged bones that lined the ceiling stabbed into it.

"I REFUSE TO TOLERATE DISOBEDIENCE."

He threw it into a wall.

"YOU ARE NAIVE AND FOOLISH. FOR THAT, YOU MUST BE PUNISHED."

He flung it against the walls over and over again, forcing it to smash into the sharp bones.

"I WILL FIND A WAY TO BREAK YOU. I WILL TURN YOU INTO A PERFECT WEAPON."

He was now completely blinded by rage, unable to see how badly he was hurting the weapon.

The weapon screamed in pain each time it crashed into bones lining the ceiling and walls. The reservoir was screaming as well, desperately trying to crawl towards Dr. Gaster to stop him from hurting the weapon.

"stop!!! please stop!!!" it begged as tears streamed down its cheeks, "stop hurting him!!! you'll kill him!!! you'll kill him!!!"

Dr. Gaster completely ignored the screaming, he was too far gone to feel any sympathy for the weapon.

Almost too far gone.

At one point, as he was throwing the weapon across the room, he caught sight of the weapon's eyes.

They were huge, terrified, tearful eyes; the lights in them fading as the weapon drew closer and closer to death.

This made him release the weapon. It crashed down onto the floor with a feeble whine, its eyes half-lidded and unable to move. Dust and blood poured from its wounds.

The reservoir crawled towards it and threw its arms around it, sobbing.

The bones along the walls and ceiling dematerialized.

Dr. Gaster had stumbled backwards, bent over double with one hand shakily covering his mouth.

For the first time in several years, he felt sick with guilt.

Those eyes were the eyes of a child; a frightened, traumatized child, silently begging him for mercy.

Dr. Gaster felt like throwing up, feeling nothing but disgust towards himself.

He stood there, still bent over, for several minutes. His shoulders were rising and falling as he gasped for air.

Eventually, he managed to steady himself. He stood upright, desperately pushing away the regret and horror he felt when he saw how horribly he had injured the weapon.

"I...I MUST SEPARATE YOU...BOTH OF YOU...FOR THE TIME BEING." the shakiness of his voice betrayed his calm expression, "THE WEAPON...MUST STAY HERE. I WILL BE TAKING THE RESERVOIR BACK TO THE HIDDEN ROOM."

"no!!!" cried the reservoir, clinging onto the weapon, "don't take me away from him! i want to stay with him!!!"

"THE WEAPON...THE WEAPON MUST REST. YOU MUST RETURN TO YOUR ROOM."

Ignoring the reservoir's crying and begging, he warped it back to the hidden room. The weapon was barely conscious and could do nothing to stop Dr. Gaster from taking the reservoir away.

Dr. Gaster took one last glance at the weapon, before warping himself away as well.

-----------

 

The weapon awoke, hours later, to the smell of food.

It opened its eyes, noticing that a bowl of kibble had been placed in front of it. It dragged itself over to the bowl and began eating. As it ate, its wounds began to heal. It started to feel a bit better and eventually managed to stand upright, stumbling a little as it did.

After its meal, it looked around its room, which it was now beginning to despise. The place brought back memories of how it ended the lives of various monsters, feeling less and less remorse to the point where it began to enjoy being a murderer. It felt sheer disgust at itself for not realizing how horrible its actions were until now.

A feeling of loneliness washed over the weapon when it noticed that the reservoir was nowhere to be seen. It whined as it remembered that Dr. Gaster had taken the reservoir back to the room they shared. The reservoir was all alone as well, with no one to read or talk to. It must be very sad and lonely there.

The weapon couldn’t bear the idea of the reservoir being sad. It walked unsteadily towards the metal door of its room and attempted to ram into it. This did not even leave a dent on the door and only succeeded in giving it a headache.

It attempted to use bone attacks on the door, but was so weak that it could only summon a few measly, thin bones that disintegrated as soon as they hit the door. In its desperation, it began to claw at the door, slamming its large paws into the door as tears began to stream down its face.

This went on for hours, before the weapon passed out from exhaustion.

When it awoke, it once again found that a bowl of kibble had been placed beside it. It ate the food and began to feel even stronger than before.

It tried to attack the door again. This time, it was strong enough to use proper bone attacks and beam attacks on the door.

The door did not budge even after repeated attacks. Eventually, the weapon felt so tired that it resorted to scratching at the door again, whining and crying.

It kept at this for days, refusing to give up. Whenever it got its energy back, it would attack the door with everything it had, before eventually going back to scratching at the door again.

Throughout all of this, it focused its thoughts on the reservoir, remembering the reservoir’s kindness towards it. It wanted to be with the reservoir again, even if it had to go back to that small room. It didn’t mind how little space there was in that room, as long as it could get out of this wretched arena to see the reservoir once again.

The weapon spent days thinking about the reservoir and about getting back into the room. It began to visualize its room and the reservoir's room as two brightly-colored blocks in a dark, empty space. The empty space was the corridors and rooms around the lab were not important to it. It was only interested in the two bright blocks.

It knew it had to get from its own block to the block where the reservoir was, but it couldn’t due to both blocks not having any openings. As much as it tried, it could not find any way to get out of its own block to enter the reservoir’s.

Then, it realized that if only it knew how to cross that space between both blocks, it could just make it over to the reservoir’s block. At first, this seemed like an impossible task, but something deep within its SOUL was telling it that it wasn’t impossible.

It could do it. It could bridge the void. It was able to jump across from one block to another.

It just needed to be determined enough.

It continued to think about it for days, closing its eyes and visualizing the two blocks in black space. It kept trying to leap across that space so that it could reach the reservoir. There was quite a distance in between them, but it never gave up trying to make the jump. It stayed determined.

And finally, one day, it gathered up all of its power and courage and jumped as far as it could.

 

The reservoir was laying face down on its bed, sobbing into its pillow. It had been wishing that it could return to the weapon's side ever since it was brought back to this room.

It was startled when the weapon suddenly came crashing down into its room, as if it had fallen in from the ceiling.

-----------

 

“Papyrus! Wake up!”

The child shook Papyrus as the skeleton was drifting off to sleep, jolting him awake.

“MY APOLOGIES, FRISK AND CHARA,” he said sheepishly, rubbing his eye sockets with his remaining hand, “I AM FEELING VERY SLEEPY, FOR SOME REASON. WHERE WAS I?”

“You were just telling us about how you took a shortcut back to Sans’ room,” Flowey explained, “Did you and Sans ever escape from the lab?”

“YES,” Papyrus replied with a yawn, “YES, WE DID, EVENTUALLY.”

“How did you learn to teleport?” asked Frisk, “Is that how you escaped from the lab?”

“What happened to that Gaster person? Was he ever punished for his crimes?” Chara questioned, “Although, it is rather strange. I should be able to remember this scientist, since you mentioned that he ran tests on me. However, I have no memory of this person, his laboratory, or these tests.”

“HE WAS ARRESTED. AND, MANY YEARS LATER, HE-” Papyrus’s words trailed off as he dozed off again, snoring softly.

“Papyrus!!!” Flowey and Chara yelled, both of them trying to shake him awake again.

“Guys, wait, I think we should let him sleep.” Frisk’s voice piped up from within the child, “He’s hurt and needs a lot of rest. Let’s just let him sleep for now and he can continue the story later, okay? And besides,” they let out a small yawn, “I’m tired too. I need sleep.”

“But I am not tired! I want Papyrus to finish his story!” replied Chara indignantly.

“We can do that later. I already missed some parts of Papyrus’ story because I was falling asleep. And of course you don’t feel tired, you don't have a body like I do.”

Chara felt like throwing a tantrum, but upon seeing how tired and weak Papyrus looked, decided to push their anger aside.

“Fine, we shall allow Papyrus some rest. And you can get some beauty sleep in the meantime,” they said with a groan.

Frisk grinned, glad that Chara was finally listening to them for once. It felt nice to not have them constantly arguing with them in their mind.

“What about your other arm?” Flowey asked, pointing a leaf towards his detached left arm that the child had placed on the table.

"DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT, FLOWEY! I SHALL BE ABLE TO ATTACH IT BACK ONCE I AM STRONG ENOUGH TO USE HEALING MAGIC."

"You seem very nonchalant about your arm falling off," Chara commented.

"IT HAS BEEN A LITTLE LOOSE EVER SINCE WE LEFT THE UNDERGROUND. I DO NOT KNOW WHY." Papyrus looked puzzled, "IT HAPPENED JUST AFTER I BROUGHT EVERYONE TO THE BARRIER, BEFORE FRISK MANAGED TO BREAK IT. ALL OF US LOST OUR MEMORIES OF WHAT HAPPENED JUST BEFORE THE BARRIER BROKE."

Flowey gave an aside glance.

That moment Papyrus described was when he took the SOULs of the six humans and every monster, so that he could turn back into Asriel. He recalled that when he tied Papyrus in vines along with the other monsters, he heard a small snap as his vines bent Papyrus's left arm.

He must have accidentally broken Papyrus' arm. Papyrus had no memory of this as the process of returning the SOULs to all the monsters erased their memories of his battle with Frisk.

He turned away from Papyrus, feeling rather guilty.

Frisk noticed Flowey's change of expression, but decided not to say anything. Secretly, they felt happy that Flowey could feel guilty; it meant that he was now able to feel more emotions despite his lack of a SOUL.

The child headed over to the light switch and turned the lights off. They then dragged a blanket over to Flowey and covered the flower with it, before going over to the couch and tucking Papyrus into his blankets.

“Good night, Papyrus,” Frisk said, giving the skeleton a quick hug through the blankets.

“THANK YOU, FRISK,” Papyrus smiled weakly at them, his eyes half-lidded, “I SHALL CONTINUE MY STORY WHEN I WAKE UP, I PROMISE. FOR NOW, GOOD NIGHT FRISK, FLOWEY, AND CHARA. REST WELL.”

The child nodded, returning his smile. They laid down in their sleeping bag, curled up under the covers, and closed their eyes. Flowey watched them for a while, before burying himself in his blankets, and eventually fell asleep as well.

Papyrus sighed happily, feeling at ease for the first time in many days.

However, there were still something at the back of his mind, worrying him as he began to doze off again.

“I DO WONDER...HOW IS SANS DOING NOW?...” he muttered to himself as he drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Sans had not been doing well for the past few days.

He did attempt to stay positive the first few days without Papyrus; he paid visits to his friends to distract himself and tried to keep the house and garden tidy in spite of his laziness. He even managed to go grocery shopping, making plans to cook his own meals.

But, after a few days, he simply gave up. The house felt empty and depressing without Papyrus’ cheerful voice singing or loudly chatting while doing the chores. He missed when Papyrus would wake him up in the morning and excitedly tell him about his plans for the day, or when Papyrus would act annoyed at his terrible puns or silly pranks.

His mental state grew worse as the empty house brought back memories he had repressed for years. He began to recall being connected to tubes and wires, laying on a bed in a cold, tiny room, completely alone. He remembered the horrible pain he had to suffer through by himself, writhing and crying on the bed with no one there to comfort him.

The loneliness and the traumatizing memories caused him to completely give up on trying to be active. He stopped going out altogether, barely eating anything aside from snacks from the fridge. The groceries he bought were left abandoned in the pantry. He refused to visit his friends, not wanting them to see him in this awful state. He got so nervous that he began to grow frightened of shadows he saw around the house, as they reminded him of Dr. Gaster's ability to control darkness.

Horrible memories of how the scientist had tortured him and Papyrus began to haunt him again. He no longer slept in his own bed, as it gave him nightmares of being back in that room, still connected to the life support system. Instead, he slept on the living room couch. He would continue to lie there the entire day, feeling too tired to get up, and would mindlessly channel surf on the television or vacantly stared at his phone. He kept most of the house in darkness, too lazy to even turn on the lights.

The only communication he had with anyone was answering Papyrus’ daily phone calls and replying to some of his friends’ messages on social media. He forced himself to fake cheerfulness as he did this; he made terrible puns while speaking to Papyrus and sent comedic videos and pictures from the Internet to his friends online, in an attempt to reassure everyone that he was doing alright.

Throughout all of this, he felt very anxious about Papyrus. Even though Papyrus sounded upbeat and happy on the phone, Sans could sense that something had gone wrong. He didn’t know what it was, as Papyrus would simply tell him that everything was “HUNKY DORY AND PERFECTLY ALRIGHT”, saying that Frisk and Flowey were doing well and they were all having a good time. But deep inside, he knew something was bothering Papyrus.

He often wanted to warp himself back to their old house, to make sure Papyrus was okay. But, after some contemplating, he decided not to. He still felt guilty about belittling Papyrus many days ago by calling him "naive". That word brought back traumatizing memories of when he was still a weapon. He had an aversion to that word ever since then. He thought that, to make up for that insult, it would be better if he respected Papyrus’ request.

In later days, when Sans recalled this event, he wished that he had taken action sooner, before it was almost too late.

It began when he was laying on the couch again one afternoon, staring blankly at the TV screen. His phone was on the table by the couch, charging.

The show airing was some kind of human talk show that had Mettaton on as a guest star. Sans cared nothing for these sorts of shows; this was simply white noise to help distract him from his worries. 

A sharp pain suddenly shot through his SOUL. He gasped, clutching his chest. The pain grew more intense, causing him to curl up on the couch and whimper.

What was happening to him!? 

He attempted to sit upright, holding onto the arm of the couch for support. The pain was so unbearable that he fell over, slipping off the couch and crashing onto the floor.

It dawned on him that he had felt this pain many times before, a long time ago, when he was still locked in that horrible room. A feeling of terror washed over him.

Papyrus! He must be in a very grave situation if he was desperate enough to drain his reservoir of magic again. Something must have gone wrong! He needed to get help!

Sans reached up to the table, still with one hand over his chest, and swiped his arm back and forth wildly to find his phone, knocking over some empty soft drink cans. As soon as he managed to grab it, he immediately pulled it towards him and called Alphys, feeling thankful that he had her number on speed dial.

The dial tone rang a few times, before Alphys finally picked up and greeted him with a nervous “H-hello?”

“a-al..” he managed to stammer, starting to feel lightheaded.

“S-Sans? H-h-hey! Are...are y-you okay? You d-don’t sound so g-good…”

“al... papyrus… danger… pain…” He could barely speak due to the excruciating pain. Large beads of sweat were dripping down his face as he desperately tried to stay conscious.

“S-S-Sans!?”

“Al! What’s going on!? You’ve gone pale all of a sudden!”

“U-U-Undyne! S-Sans is-”

“What’s up with Sans? What’d that punk do again? Let me speak to him.” Sans heard Undyne’s loud voice through the earpiece, “Hey! Sans! What were you saying to Al that made her all pale and scared like that!? Is this another one of your dumb pranks!?”

“papyrus... danger… can’t… move… help… him…”

The phone slipped out of Sans’ hand as he fell to the floor. Everything around him went dark. The last thing he was aware of before he fainted was Undyne’s voice, full of panic and terror, yelling at him through the phone.

-----------

 

A few minutes later, Undyne was seen running down the street towards the skeleton brothers' house, with Alphys on her back.

The couple lived a few streets away from the brothers. As soon as Undyne realized that both Sans and Papyrus were in trouble, she immediately hoisted Alphys onto her shoulders, dashed out of their house, and sped towards the brothers' house. She decided that this would be much faster than calling for help, even though Alphys was shrieking for mercy as she clung onto Undyne’s shoulders for dear life. 

They arrived at the brothers' house in less than two minutes. Undyne kicked down the front door when she found that it was locked, planning to apologize and pay for the damages later. Both of them rushed to the living room and found Sans still lying unconscious on the floor.

"Sans!" Undyne ran over to him and attempted to shake him awake, "Hey! Wake up! What happened!?"

"N-no! Wait! Y-y-you'll h-hurt him th-that way!" Alphys shrieked, hopping down clumsily from Undyne’s back, "J-just p-put him on the c-c-couch, g-gently."

Undyne obeyed, picking up Sans as gently as she could and placing him onto the couch, still jerking him around in the process as she wasn't used to being gentle. 

Alphys ran to the kitchen. She found a clean cloth, ran it under tap water at the sink, and wrung it. She headed back to the living room and began to gently dab Sans' face with the towel.

Undyne walked away, trying to be patient while waiting for Sans to wake up. She switched off the TV and turned on the lights of the living room. As she moved about the room, she frowned disapprovingly at how messy the place was. Pillows and blankets were piled untidily on the couch where Sans slept. The floor around the couch was covered in clothes, empty packets of snack food, and empty soft drink cans.

Sans hasn’t been handling being separated from Papyrus well at all, she thought to herself. Yet, he seemed so cheerful in posts he made on social media and on group chats. He must have been faking his cheerfulness all this time to hide his distress.

A few minutes later, Sans began to stir, groaning softly, and opened his eye sockets.

“H-hey, Sans,” Alphys greeted with a nervous smile, relieved that Sans was finally awake.

“al? papyrus…needs help…”

“P-Papyrus? H-he's at M-Mount Ebott with Fr-Frisk and the f-flower r-right? D-d-did he call you?”

“no, he...he didn’t.” Sans attempted to sit up, only to flop back limply on his back.

“D-don’t get up! F-first of all, w-we need to make s-sure you’re okay. D-do y-you need m-medical help? S-should we get you to the h-hospital?”

Sans shook his head, his permanent grin growing more tense, “no, al, listen. papyrus is in danger. something’s gone wrong with him. i called you for help because we need to go back underground to make sure he's okay. we need someone to drive us to mount ebott. i'm kind of not in a good shape to drive right now.”

In his panic, he spoke so rapidly that Alphys barely had time to reply. Finally, she managed to ask, “H-how do y-you know Pa-payrus is in tr-trouble?”

“Is it connected to you passing out?” Undyne suddenly said, eyeing Sans suspiciously.

“i-i uh…” Sans was startled by Undyne’s conclusion, but quickly changed the topic, “listen, there's not much time. we need to get back underground as fast as we can."

"C-can't you u-use one of your sh-sh-shortcuts?" Alphys suggested.

"my what?" 

"Y-you s-sometimes get to p-places im-im-impossibly fast. I-I noticed you d-did that a l-lot back Un-un-underground and even n-nowadays. Everytime I-I asked y-you, you j-just say that y-you used a sh-sh-shortcut."

"Yeah, I noticed that too," Undyne said as she folded her arms, "You can be at a sentry station in Snowdin one moment, and the next moment you're at a sentry station in Hotland. I've also heard you telling people you have "shortcuts" you use."

Sans glanced away. Alphys and Undyne were way more observant than he gave them credit for. Then again, he did use his ability very often due to laziness and for pranks. Perhaps he wasn't as good at keeping secrets as he prided himself to be. 

At any rate, he was in no position to use that ability now, due to his magic being drained. 

He decided to not answer this question. "i was…i was just hopin' to have some transportation back to mount ebott, so i can help papyrus."

"You're asking the wrong people for that, Sans," Undyne answered bluntly, "We both can't drive. Alphys was too nervous to go for driving lessons, and I failed my driving lessons too many times because I kept ramming the car into stuff."

"But we can call Asgore for help," she continued, when she saw Sans look even sadder than usual, "I know he can drive. He gave me a ride a few times."

“I’ll-I’ll call Asgore r-right now.” Alphys volunteered quickly, happy that she was able to help. She pulled out her phone and began to look for Asgore's number.

“Call Toriel too,” Undyne suggested, “She has a minivan, doesn’t she? That should be big enough for all of us to get into comfortably, including Papyrus, in case we need to bring him home or to a hospital or something.” Her calm expression hid her internal panic about Papyrus' safety. 

"Y-yeah, I'll d-do that too."

As Alphys called up the Dreemurrs, Undyne turned to Sans. "You should go pack some clothes and a sleeping bag. We'll be heading home to pack stuff too."

"why?"

"Mount Ebott's pretty far from here, so we'll be spending some time on the road. Besides, we might need to stay with Papyrus."

Despite no longer being the Captain of the Royal Guard, Undyne was still capable of making strategic plans and giving commands when needed. Sans couldn't help admiring how level-headed she was being, considering how she usually got excited very easily.

He nodded, got off the couch, and headed upstairs.

After Alphys called the Dreemurrs, the couple headed home to pack some things. They arrived back at the skeleton brothers' house, pulling along a luggage bag each, just in time to see Toriel's minivan parked in front of the house and Asgore's car pulling up behind it. Toriel was glaring at Asgore's car as she stood beside her vehicle.

"I don't quite understand why you had to call him along as well," Toriel said to the couple as they approached her, "I am only here because I am anxious about Frisk and Papyrus. I have not seen Frisk for days and wish to make sure they are alright. I am uncertain of how well Papyrus is able to care for them and have been worrying about them for quite a while."

"I'm sure he's been taking care of Frisk really well. He's surprisingly capable when he has to be." Undyne said, "Anyway, listen Toriel. I know you can't get along with Asgore, but we need both of you to cooperate just this once. Alphys and I can't drive, and the trip to Mount Ebott is pretty long. It's best if you both take turns to drive to make the journey shorter."

Toriel folded her arms, "I am able to drive on my own. I really do not require any assistance from him."

"We need to get to Mount Ebott as fast as we can. Sans insists that Papyrus is in danger and I think it’s best we go there to make sure he’s okay. I’m worried that he could be badly injured, or really sick, or something. If we spend too long getting there, he could get worse, or even…" Undyne's voice trailed off. She couldn't bear the idea of that cheerful, friendly skeleton, one of her few best friends, dying. She clenched her fists so hard she almost snapped her luggage handle in two. 

Toriel frowned, but after a while, she sighed, her expression growing a little worried. She imagined Papyrus laying somewhere, horribly hurt, while Frisk and Flowey stayed beside him, frightened and worried about how to help him. She'd only known the skeleton for about six months, but had already grown very fond of him. The thought of him dying horribly was very unpleasant.

"You make a good point, Undyne," Toriel answered, "Very well. I shall work with him, but only for this one occasion." 

As Undyne was talking to Toriel, Alphys watched as Asgore unload a large, old-fashioned suitcase and a big wooden crate from his car, before locking it. He headed over to the minivan, carrying both items as if they were as light as a feather.

"Howdy, Undyne, Alphys, and uh...Toriel…" he gave them a nervous smile as Toriel glared at him out of habit, "Alphys, you said on the phone that I needed to take turns with Toriel to drive back to Mount Ebott, right?"

"Y-yes."

"Is she " he looked at Toriel anxiously, "Are you okay with this arrangement?"

"It is not as if I have much of a choice," Toriel replied drily, "The drive to Mount Ebott can take up to several days. The journey could be made in a much shorter time if two people took turns to drive. Papyrus requires help and it would be preferable if we arrive to his aid as soon as possible."

"That's true." Asgore looked relieved, "I believe we can shorten the trip with constant driving, although we do have to consider stopping for gas and food, and finding a place to rest for the night. But, if there’s no heavy traffic, I think we can complete the journey in about two days."

Toriel nodded, her glare at Asgore growing less intense. 

Asgore turned to Undyne and Alphys, "Is Papyrus severely injured? I'm not sure if we can reach him in time if he is, even with Toriel and I taking turns to drive. We might have to contact monsters or humans living near Mount Ebott for help. Did you call Frisk or Flowey to find out his condition?"

"O-oh! W-w-we didn't th-think of c-calling th-th-them…" Alphys answered, looking embarrassed, “S-Sans told us h-he was in d-d-danger.”

“Did Frisk or Flowey call him? What did they say to him?”

“N-no, th-they didn’t. H-he called us j-just as h-he p-p-passed out. W-when he woke up, h-he in-insisted that P-Papyrus was in d-danger.”

Both Dreemurrs looked rather confused.

Undyne decided to help Alphys explain the situation, seeing how flustered she was getting. "He called us because he was in pain, so we rushed here to see if he was alright. We found him passed out on the floor. When he finally woke up, he kept insisting that he wanted to see Papyrus and he needed some way to get back to Mount Ebott. Since both of us can’t drive, we had to call you.”

“I do hope he is alright,” Toriel said. “Did he tell you why he was in pain? Perhaps he is ill? If he is, it is probably better if he gets some rest rather than go on such a long journey.”

“I don’t know why he was in pain, but I don't think it's any use to convince him to get some rest. He's really determined to see Papyrus. Seems like his pain has something to do with Papyrus."

"How so?"

“I’m not sure, but I believe him.” Undyne glanced away for a while, before continuing, “There's always been something weird with those two brothers. I’ve always felt like there was something up with them, like they’re hiding a lot of secrets. Aside from behaving very differently from other monsters, they also seem to have many kinds of strange abilities.”

“L-like the sh-shortcuts?” Alphys interjected.

“Yeah, that, and also a lot of other stuff. I’ve seen Papyrus walking on air and making stuff float, and I’ve seen Sans moving so fast that it felt like he could slow down time. But, aside from that, one of those weird abilities is that they seem to have some kind of connection between them.”

"I know this sounds crazy. But something happened about two years ago, when Papyrus first started to train under me. During one of our training sessions, we got word that a bunch of monsters were trapped under a landslide. We tried to dig them out, but the debris was so heavy we couldn't move them. I went off to get help from the Dogi. But, when I came back, Papyrus had somehow freed all the monsters by blasting away the debris."

"I tried to ask him how he did that, but he just refused to answer. He just seemed really sad and wouldn't look at me, like he was ashamed of what he did or something. I mean, I wasn't accusing him of anything. I just thought that blasting magic was cool and wanted him to use it during combat. So his reaction was weird."

“We went on with the training after that, but it was very clear that he wasn’t focusing as much as he usually was…”

-----------

Undyne glanced over at the targets she had set up along the cave walls for Papyrus' target practice. The walls were littered with bone attacks, but the targets were completely undamaged. Papyrus had somehow managed to aim his bone attacks everywhere but the targets. 

She frowned. He was doing so well earlier that morning, managing to accurately fire all his bone attacks at the dummy. 

She turned to look at him.

 Usually he would be alert and excited, ready to carry out any of Undyne’s commands. His enthusiasm reminded Undyne a lot of how the Dogi would act during their training sessions. But now, he simply stood in place, staring into space with a blank expression, shifting his weight from one foot to another as he plucked at the bones on his arm. He seemed completely unfocused and was clearly worried about something.

"Papyrus!"

He jumped, startled by Undyne's sharp tone.

"YES, CAPTAIN!" he responded, hurriedly facing her and saluting.

"You missed every single one of your targets.”

“AH.” Papyrus glanced away anxiously, seeing how displeased Undyne was at his performance, “MY APOLOGIES, CAPTAIN. I SHALL TRY AGAIN AND DO MUCH BETTER THIS TIME.”

Undyne shook her head. “You’re not focused at all. You should be keeping your mind and sights on the targets, but you’re not. Something’s bothering you.”

“THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS A BOTHER TO ME AT ALL! I SHALL BE ABLE TO HIT ALL THE TARGETS ACCURATELY THIS TIME!”

“No, Papyrus, listen. Something’s clearly eating at you. Earlier today you were nervous when I asked you why you left the dummy you were practicing your attacks on with 1 HP. Then after we rescued those monsters from the landslide, you got nervous when I asked you what sort of attack you used to get them out. And now, you’re getting nervous all over again just because I told you that you missed your targets.”

“WELL… HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I CAN BE NERVOUS? I AM A SKELETON AFTER ALL! WE SKELETONS DO NOT HAVE NERVES!”

“Don’t change the subject!” Undyne snapped. Papyrus took a step back in fright. 

Undyne sighed, trying to calm herself down. “Papyrus, if there’s anything you need to talk about, you can just talk to me. I may be your captain, but we’ve been friends since we were kids, and I’ll listen to anything you have to say. Sometimes talking things out can help you feel better.”

Papyrus looked down, expression unreadable. He continued to shift his weight from one foot to another while picking at the bones on his arms. 

Finally, he looked back at Undyne. “I…I SIMPLY WISH TO PAY SANS A QUICK VISIT RIGHT NOW. I AM GRATEFUL THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO LEND ME A LISTENING EAR. TRULY AND HONESTLY I AM. BUT, I DO NOT HAVE ANY SECRETS THAT NEED TO BE HEARD. I AM ALRIGHT ” he hesitated, looking down as his expression looked conflicted, before continuing, “ WELL, IF I DID HAVE ANY SECRETS, I WOULD TELL YOU SOME OTHER TIME. PERHAPS ONE DAY I WILL. FOR NOW, I MUST GET BACK TO SANS.”

“Huh? Why do you suddenly want to go see Sans?” Undyne tilted her head curiously. 

"I...I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE HE IS ALRIGHT…"

Undyne stared at him in confusion for a few seconds. Finally, she nodded and replied: "If it makes you feel better, sure. We can end today's training session early so you can visit Sans. He should be at his sentry station in Snowdin at this time. You want me to go back to Snowdin with you?"

"THANK YOU, UNDYNE!" Papyrus' eyes immediately lit up in joy, "AND IT IS ALRIGHT. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO ARRIVE AT SNOWDIN MUCH QUICKER ON MY OWN!"

"Oh! You think can reach Snowdin before I can?" Undyne suddenly grinned, "Is that a challenge? Come on! I'll race ya to Snowdin!"

Papyrus looked surprised, but he grinned back, feeling amused by the proposal for a race. "VERY WELL! WE SHALL HAVE A RACE! LET'S BEGIN IMMEDIATELY!"

"Great!" Undyne was glad that her challenge seemed to make Papyrus look less anxious. "Are you ready? Three, two, one, GO!!!" 

Without waiting for Papyrus to respond, she shot off towards Snowdin.

Undyne always prided herself for her speed and agility. She found that she had a boost in her physical capabilities ever since Alphys had given her that strange injection many years ago, and had been training to improve herself ever since. She was now physically stronger than most monsters, and was able to run so fast that it was almost as if time slowed down around her to allow her to move faster, as long as she wasn’t wearing her heavy royal guard armor.

Even so, Papyrus managed to reach Snowdin before her. As she approached Sans’ sentry station, she saw him standing by the snowy path, holding onto and talking to a very worried-looking Sans.

She slowed her pace to a stop, feeling a bit confused as she didn’t remember seeing Papyrus pass her as she was running. 

Any questions could wait. She decided to stand quietly and listen to the brothers’ conversation, curious about why Sans looked so panicked.

“did something hurt you?" Sans was saying as he examined Papyrus closely, looking for any injuries. Undyne had never seen him act so frantic before. "are you okay?"

“BROTHER, IT IS ALRIGHT. PLEASE DO NOT WORRY!” Papyrus responded, looking quite distressed, but standing still to allow Sans to check on him, “UNDYNE AND I WERE SIMPLY RESCUING SOME MONSTERS TRAPPED IN A LANDSLIDE. I AM ALRIGHT AND COMPLETELY UNHARMED.”

“you can tell me if something happened, paps. i just want to make sure you're okay."

"PLEASE, BROTHER, I AM PERFECTLY FINE. I ONLY DID THAT TO REMOVE SOME DEBRIS FROM A LANDSLIDE. I CAME TO YOU BECAUSE I WAS WORRIED THAT YOU WERE IN PAIN FROM WHAT I DID."

"yeah, it did hurt, but that's besides the point. are you-"

"DOES IT STILL HURT?" Papyrus interrupted him as he pulled Sans into a hug, looking even more miserable, "I'M SO SORRY, SANS! I'M SO, SO SORRY! I SHALL TAKE YOU HOME IMMEDIATELY, WRAP YOU IN WARM BLANKETS, AND MAKE SOME HOT COFFEE FOR YOU. THAT SHOULD REDUCE THE PAIN."

"papyrus, i'm fine." Sans returned his brother's hug and began patting Papyrus on his back, "i just passed out for a short while but i'm okay now. i'm more worried about you. i wanted to get to you through a shortcut as soon as the pain started, but i guess i passed out before i could."

Undyne noticed indentations in the snow next to Sans' sentry station. It looked as if Sans had fallen out of the station into the snow, before attempting to drag himself through the snow for a short distance.

"PLEASE DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME! I WAS SIMPLY RESCUING SOME MONSTERS FROM A LANDSLIDE. I AM SO SORRY I-"

"but you don’t usually do that thing unless you’re in danger or under a lot of stress. tell me the truth, papyrus. are you hurt?" Sans' expression grew dark.

"I AM NOT LYING, BROTHER! I-"

"He's telling the truth, Sans," Undyne finally spoke up, startling the brothers. They turned and stared at her in shock, completely unaware of her presence until then, "We were trying to rescue some monsters from a landslide and Papyrus used some kind of blasting magic to remove the debris. I didn't actually see what sort of magic he used. But, he's not hurt, if that's what you're worried about."

"THANK YOU, UNDYNE." Papyrus gave her a relieved smile. 

Sans continued to stare at Undyne for a while, before finally nodding, looking a little guilty. "thanks for the explanation, undyne. and uh, sorry for doubting you, paps. i'm just glad you're okay."

"THAT IS ALRIGHT!" Papyrus hugged Sans so tightly that he almost lifted his brother off the ground, "UNDYNE, IS IT ALRIGHT IF SANS TAKES THE REST OF THE DAY OFF AS WELL? HE IS FEELING RATHER ILL. I MUST BRING HIM HOME TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF HIM!"

"Sure." Undyne raised her eyebrow as her curiosity got the better of her. "I overheard you mention that his sickness has something to do with the blasting magic you used?”

She noticed a subtle look of shock on both brothers’ faces, which quickly gave way to their usual grins. 

“OH, GOODNESS NO! IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT!” Papyrus seemed almost too cheerful as he replied, “SANS HAS BEEN A LITTLE ILL FOR THE PAST FEW DAYS, BUT DECIDED TO KEEP DOING HIS JOB REGARDLESS. HE IS VERY HARDWORKING!”

“Huh!? Since when is Sans hardwo-”

“i’ll be okay. just gotta rest these tired bones of mine. that’s snow problem, right?”

“Ugh,” Undyne grimaced at Sans’ awful pun, “Fine, take today and tomorrow off if you both have to. I hope you feel better soon, Sans. And Papyrus, get some rest, okay?”

As the brothers thanked her, she was already turning around and speeding back to Waterfall. The cold air was making her shiver and she wanted to get back to the warmth of her own home as soon as possible. Questioning the brothers could be done on a later date, and not in the freezing snow.

-----------

“S-so, P-Papyrus never told y-you what s-sort of m-magic he used? A-and S-sans never told you wh-why he was in p-pain?”

“Nope. When I tried to ask them again many days later, they very quickly deflected any questions I asked them. They tend to hide stuff a lot, you know?”

“Y-yeah, I noticed that,” Alphys replied with a frown, remembering how secretive Sans sometimes was when he was her co-worker.

“At any rate, this is why I believe Sans when he said that something bad could have happened to Papyrus. Apparently he feels pain whenever Papyrus uses some kind of magical ability. It seems to be an ability he’s not too proud of because he refused to tell me what it was to this day. Granted, Papyrus wasn’t in danger when he was saving the monsters, but I always remember Sans mentioning that Papyrus usually uses that ability when he’s “in danger or under a lot of stress”.”

“Do you suppose there’s some kind of connection between them that allows Sans to sense that Papyrus is in danger?” asked Asgore.

Undyne shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’m still worried about Papyrus regardless. Maybe he’s safe and unharmed like he was back then, but I don’t want to take the risk.”

“That is understandable,” Toriel replied. “I now see why you are so terribly worried about Papyrus. I will be perfectly happy to drive back to Mount Ebott, as well as offer help in any way I can for Papyrus’ safety.”

“Y-yes! I-I’ll try my b-b-best to help t-too,” Alphys said quickly.

“Agreed,” Asgore said with a nod.

Toriel glanced at Asgore when he spoke. Her gaze fell on the crate he was holding, "What have you got within that box?"

"Books and board games. I was worried that Frisk, Flowey, and Papyrus might be very bored Underground. I also brought many types of teas, an electric kettle, crockery such as pots and pans, as well as plates, cups, and utensils." 

"Oh!" Toriel's eyes widened, "I should have thought about bringing those." She opened the boot of her minivan, revealing her luggage as well as a large plastic container. The container was full of clothes and food in packets and cans. "I did think to bring extra clothes for Frisk and enough food to last us for a few days, but it did not cross my mind to bring kitchenware and utensils, or entertainment."

Asgore gazed at the items in Toriel's car and smiled at her sheepishly. "If it makes you feel any better, I completely forgot about bringing food. I did feel that I was missing something, but couldn't figure out what."

Toriel shook her head and smiled back at him, which surprised both Alphys and Undyne. "Well, I suppose it was a good idea that Undyne and Alphys called you to come along after all. Go ahead and place those items in the minivan. Then, as soon as Sans arrives, we can begin our journey.”

As she spoke, Sans was seen opening his front door, dragging a large duffel bag behind him. He only managed to throw a few clothes, a sleeping bag, a toothbrush, and a tube of toothpaste into his bag while he was packing, nearly passing out from exhaustion due to still being very weak.

He had wanted to be quick so that he could see Papyrus as soon as possible, but simply couldn't due to still feeling tired and frail from his magic being drained. His movements were sluggish; he dragged his feet as he walked and was barely able to lift his bag. He let Toriel help him pack his bag into the minivan, and allowed Alphys to help him into the vehicle.

Even though they were brimming with curiosity after Undyne's story, none of them felt it was appropriate to ask Sans about why he was in pain and seemed so weak. They simply made sure he was seated comfortably before setting off to Mount Ebott.

Toriel took the wheel first, with Undyne sitting next to her and the other three in the backseat. She drove a few hours into the evening before allowing Asgore to drive.

The journey was fairly uneventful. Undyne, Alphys, and the Dreemurrs were still worried about the skeleton brothers, but attempted to keep up a cheerful chatter to dispel their worries and to lift Sans’ spirits. Sans was tense and silent at the beginning of the trip, but he eventually began to warm up to them. Soon, he was chatting along and even making a few bad puns. 

They stopped at a highway motel for a late dinner and to rest for the night. Sans would have preferred if they kept going so that he could reach Papyrus as soon as possible, but he understood that the Dreemurrs needed to rest. It wouldn’t be safe to be on the road with sleepy drivers.

As he dozed off in his motel room, finally sleeping on a bed again after days of lazing on the couch, he kept his thoughts on Papyrus, attempting to comfort himself by remembering that he would see his brother again very soon.

Chapter Text

When Papyrus woke up, he wondered why his bed felt less comfortable than usual, before realizing that he had been sleeping on the couch at his old house in Snowdin.

For a moment, he panicked, thinking that monsterkind was still trapped behind the barrier and he was still staying in his old house. However, he relaxed when he heard the chatter of Frisk, Flowey, and Chara coming from the kitchen, remembering all the events that had happened before.

The children were speaking in low voices as to not wake him. He very slowly sat up, using his remaining hand to grip the couch as he did, so that he could peer over the couch and see what the children were doing.

Flowey, sitting in his flowerpot on the counter, was the first to see him sit up. 

"He's awake!"

Papyrus could hear the relief in Flowey's voice.

The child turned from the stove towards Papyrus, smiling. "Papyrus!" exclaimed Frisk's delighted voice. "Hello! I'm so happy you're awake!"

“So am I,” came Chara’s voice, sounding surprisingly happy as well.

“GOOD MORNING, FRISK, FLOWEY, AND CHARA! I AM GLAD YOU ARE ALRIGHT!” The guilt of harming Frisk and Chara still hung over him like a dark cloud, “HOW LONG HAVE I BEEN ASLEEP?”

"Just a little more than twenty-four hours, I believe," Chara replied.

"GOOD GRACIOUS! I’VE SLEPT FOR FAR TOO LONG! I SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKING CARE OF YOU!” Papyrus leapt up from the couch, almost losing his balance.

The children shrieked. 

“No, it’s fine! Get some rest, Papyrus!” Flowey yelled.

"Be careful! You're still hurt!" cried Frisk.

“We have been sleeping for very long as well, so do not worry!" Chara explained. “We only were awakened a few hours ago. Frisk and Flowey began to feel hungry, and that is why we are attempting to cook a meal for ourselves.”

"I SEE," Papyrus caught hold of the couch with his remaining hand to keep himself upright. He gave them a nervous look. "I DO NOT THINK IT'S SAFE FOR YOU TO BE USING THE STOVE. I SHALL TAKE OVER AND MAKE A LOVELY MEAL FOR ALL OF US!"

“Don't worry about it,” Frisk answered cheerfully. “Mom taught me how to cook really simple meals at home, so I'll be fine! We’re trying to make some mac and cheese the way mom taught me. Do you want some?”

"THAT IS ALRIGHT, I DO NOT NEED " he stopped, not wanting to hurt Frisk's feelings by rejecting their food, " ON SECOND THOUGHT, I WOULD LOVE TO TRY SOME OF YOUR CULINARY ARTISTRY!"

“Okay!” Frisk gave him a beaming smile as they poured in more ingredients into the pot they were stirring. “You won’t be disappointed!”

A few minutes later, Papyrus, Flowey, and the child were seated on the couch, each eating from a bowl of macaroni and cheese. The meal did not turn out as well as Frisk hoped. It was nowhere near as tasty as Toriel’s cooking, and was somehow watery but a little burnt at the same time. Still, all of them enjoyed the meal all the same. There was nothing better than a hot meal after not eating for a day.

As they ate, the child kept turning to look at Papyrus, tilting their head as if they were curious about something. Papyrus noticed them do this several times, before he finally asked, “YES? IS SOMETHING OF A BOTHER TO YOU, FRISK AND CHARA?”

“Well, uh-” Frisk said, hesitating, “-we uh, wanted to ask-”

“We are curious about how you and Sans escaped from the laboratory, as well as what became of that wretched scientist,” Chara said bluntly. “That scientist reminded me very much of those terrible adults at the facility. I am ecstatic to hear how he was brought to justice.” The child gave a rather creepy grin as they spoke.

“I SEE.” Papyrus paused, looking uncomfortable, but then nodded and continued, “WELL, I MIGHT AS WELL TELL MY STORY TO THE VERY END, SINCE I HAVE ALREADY STARTED. BESIDES, I HAVE ALREADY PROMISED TO TELL YOU ABOUT THIS SINCE YOU TOLD ME ABOUT YOUR FORMER LIFE.”

“Wait, first of all, can you tell us about how your shortcut powers work?” Flowey interrupted. “I’ve always been really curious about it. I can do some weird time-y, space-y stuff too, but never on the level of you and Smiley Tra- I mean, Sans. Come on, Papyrus, tell us.” He leaned closer to Papyrus.

“PLEASE DO NOT TRY ANYTHING DANGEROUS WITH THESE POWERS AGAIN,” Papyrus looked anxious as he spoke. “I KNOW YOU HAVE ALREADY EXPERIMENTED WITH THESE POWERS. AND, WHILE SANS AND I SAID NOTHING BACK THEN, THE EXPERIENCE WAS NOT PLEASANT AT ALL. PLEASE DO NOT DO IT AGAIN."

Flowey gave a weak, nervous laugh, before looking very guilty. “So you do remember, huh? All those times I did awful stuff and reverse time, only do to more terrible things again?”

“HONESTLY, NOT REALLY. I ONLY HAVE VERY VAGUE MEMORIES OF THAT. SANS HAS A CLEARER VIEW OF DIFFERENT TIMELINES AND OUTCOMES. I DO NOT.”

“YOU SEE, SANS’ POWERS SEEM TO FOCUS MORE ON TIME. HE IS ABLE TO SEE THROUGH TIME, AND HE DESCRIBED TO ME THAT HE CAN SEE TIME AS A WIDE FLOWING RIVER. WE ARE SIMPLY FLOATING ALONG THE RIVER, AS IF WE WERE IN BOATS. HE CANNOT SEE TOO FAR UPSTREAM OR TOO FAR DOWNSTREAM, BUT HE IS ABLE TO SEE OTHER STREAMS CONVERGING OR DIVERGING FROM THE MAIN FLOW OF TIME. THESE STREAMS ARE DIFFERENT TIMELINES.”

“HE CAN SPEED UP OR SLOW TIME. THAT'S HOW HE CAN ARRIVE AT VARIOUS PLACES SO QUICKLY: HE SIMPLY NEEDS TO SPEED UP HIS OWN TRAVELLING TIME. HE IS ALSO ABLE TO STOP TIME FOR A SHORT WHILE. HE CAN ALSO USE THIS ABILITY ON OTHER PEOPLE OR OBJECTS, BUT HE CAN ONLY USE IT ON A FEW PEOPLE OR SMALL OBJECTS."

"HOWEVER, HE IS UNABLE TO GO BACK IN TIME OR GO TO OTHER TIMELINES. HE DESCRIBED THIS AS ATTEMPTING TO ROW A BOAT UPSTREAM ON A VERY RAPID RIVER. HE CAN ONLY ALLOW THE RIVER TO TAKE THE BOAT WHERE IT PLEASES. ALL HE CAN DO IS ROW FASTER OR SLOWER, OR COME TO A STOP.”

“That’s so weird, but also so interesting,” Frisk commented, amazed. “I guess that’s why he was so curious about me. He probably could see me using save points and resetting, so he knew I was some kind of time-traveller. He even tested me by giving me a password and asking me to tell it to him in another timeline. I did that and he gave me the key to his room.”

“THE PASSWORD IS “i am the legendary fartmaster”, ISN’T IT?” Papyrus narrowed his eye sockets in annoyance, but there was an amused smile on his face, “HE TOLD ME, MANY YEARS AGO, THAT HE PLANNED TO USE THAT DREADFUL PASSWORD TO LOOK FOR TIME TRAVELLERS. BACK THEN, I DID NOT BELIEVE THERE WERE TIME TRAVELLERS. I SIMPLY THOUGHT IT WAS A SILLY THEORY HE CAME UP WITH TO GET OUT OF DOING HIS CHORES. BUT, EVER SINCE I MET FLOWEY AND YOU, I REALIZED I SHOULD NOT HAVE DOUBTED HIS WORD.”

“Wait, how come I wasn’t given the password?” Flowey asked indignantly.

“I believe it is because Sans does not like you very much,” Chara answered with a smirk.

“What!? That’s dumb! H-” Flowey paused, “-well, okay, true. I wasn’t very nice to him during those resets I did before Frisk fell. I guess he doesn’t have pleasant memories of me.”

Seeing that Papyrus was starting to look uncomfortable again at the mention of Flowey’s resets, Frisk decided to change the topic.

“What about you, Papyrus? How do your shortcuts work?”

Papyrus perked up. “MY SHORTCUTS APPEAR TO UTILIZE THE ASPECT OF SPACE. EVER SINCE I GOT THE INJECTIONS, IF I FOCUSED HARD ENOUGH, I WAS ABLE TO SEE THE LOCATIONS AROUND ME LAID OUT FLAT LIKE A MAP. BACK WHEN WE WERE STILL TRAPPED BEHIND THE BARRIER, I WAS ABLE TO SEE ALL OF THE UNDERGROUND FROM ABOVE, AS IF I WAS LOOKING DOWN FROM THE CAVE CEILING. NOW THAT WE ARE FREE, I CAN SEE EVEN FURTHUR. WITH ENOUGH CONCENTRATION, I SUPPOSE I CAN SEE THE ENTIRE WORLD, PERHAPS EVEN FURTHER BEYOND JUST EARTH. BUT, THIS VISUALIZATION IS VERY STRENUOUS AND I DO NOT THINK I WILL BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT.”

“BUT! ANYWAY! THIS WAS WHY I WAS ABLE TO SEE YOUR JOURNEY UNDERGROUND. I...HOPE THIS DOES NOT SOUND TOO INTRUSIVE, FRISK, BUT AS YOU WERE TRAVELLING THROUGH THE UNDERGROUND, BOTH SANS AND I WERE WATCHING YOU. SANS SIMPLY TOOK SHORTCUTS TO WHERE YOU WERE AND STOOD THERE TO WATCH YOU. I WAS WATCHING USING MY VISUALIZATION ABILITY. THAT IS WHY I WAS ABLE TO SEE WHERE YOU WERE AND WHAT WAS AROUND YOU WHEN YOU CALLED ME IN DIFFERENT ROOMS.”

“Oh! That’s why you knew where I was when I called you back then, and could see stuff around me, even though I didn’t tell you anything.” The realization that both skeleton brothers had been watching them during their adventures made Frisk a little uncomfortable, but they were still intrigued by how the brothers used their abilities.

“MY APOLOGIES, FRISK. WE MEANT YOU NO HARM; WE WERE SIMPLY INTERESTED IN YOU BECAUSE WE BOTH SENSED THAT YOU WERE AN ANOMALY. ALSO, YOU’RE A HUMAN. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO MEET AND BEFRIEND A HUMAN! AND I AM GLAD WE ARE SUCH GOOD FRIENDS NOW!"

“TO MAKE A SHORTCUT, I SIMPLY HAVE TO LEAP FROM THE LOCATION I AM AT TO THE LOCATION THAT I WISH TO GO. IT IS LIKE JUMPING OVER A CHASM. I VISUALIZE THE WORLD AROUND ME, FOCUS ON A LOCATION I WANT TO GO TO, AND JUMP TOWARDS IT. THIS SHORTCUT DOES TAKE MORE CONCENTRATION AND A LONGER TIME THAN SANS'. I DO NOT USE IT MUCH FOR THAT REASON, AND ALSO BECAUSE I PREFER TO RUN TO LOCATIONS! RUNNING IS GOOD EXERCISE!"

“So that’s why it felt like we were jumping and falling when we used your shortcut, but it felt like I was walking really quickly when I used Sans’ shortcut,” Frisk observed excitedly.

“ABSOLUTELY!” Papyrus replied with a grin, “MY BROTHER AND I HAVE VERY DIFFERENT POWERS DESPITE THEM COMING FROM THE SAME SOURCE. VERY MUCH LIKE OUR PERSONALITIES, I SUPPOSE. WE ARE BOTH SKELETONS WHO CAME FROM THE SAME PLACE, BUT HAVE VASTLY DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES.”

“THE UNFORTUNATE THING IS THAT, UNLIKE SANS, I CANNOT SEE THE TIMELINES. I ONLY HAVE VAGUE MEMORIES OF THEM AND CAN SENSE ANOMALIES IN TIME AND SPACE. I SUPPOSE THAT IS WHY I WAS SO DRAWN TOWARDS BOTH OF YOU, FLOWEY AND FRISK."

“HOWEVER, WHEN I AM VISUALIZING THE WORLD AROUND ME, I HAVE OFTEN SEEN, FAR IN THE DISTANCE, OTHER WORLDS OR UNIVERSES VERY DIFFERENT FROM OUR OWN. THESE ARE NOT OTHER PLANETS, MIND YOU. WE CAN REACH OTHER PLANETS IF WE TRAVEL FAR ENOUGH. THESE ARE UNIVERSES THAT WE CAN ONLY GO TO WITH VERY POWERFUL MAGIC.”

"WHEN I LOOK AS FAR AS I CAN INTO THOSE UNIVERSES, I HAVE SEEN VAGUE SHAPES THAT RESEMBLE MYSELF AND SANS, AS WELL AS PEOPLE I KNOW. BUT WE ALL LOOK, DRESS, AND ACT COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY. I AM SURE I’VE SEEN A WORLD WHERE THE MONSTERS WON THE WAR, AND LIVED ON THE SURFACE. I HAVE ALSO SEEN A VERY DARK WORLD, POPULATED BY BEINGS THAT ARE NEITHER MONSTERS NOR HUMANS. THAT PLACE...HAS A STRANGE FAMILIARITY TO IT…”

As he spoke, his voice sounded distant, and he began to have a dreamy, vacant look on his face as he gazed off into space. The children were fascinated by this, amazed and curious about the idea of there being other universes that were both similar and different from their own. At the same time, this made them feel uncomfortable as they wondered what alternate versions of themselves were like in those worlds.

“Do you think…” Chara said wistfully, “Do you think...you can go there? Is it possible for you to make a shortcut to reach those different universes?”

“I SUPPOSE SO…” Papyrus paused, blinked, and snapped out of his vacant expression, “WELL, I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT IT, BUT I DO NOT THINK I HAVE ENOUGH MAGICAL POWER TO DO SUCH A THING. LIKE HOW SANS IS UNABLE TO TRAVEL TO OTHER TIMELINES ON HIS OWN, I DO NOT THINK I CAN GO TO OTHER WORLDS BY MYSELF. THEY ARE SIMPLY TOO FAR OUT OF MY REACH.”

They sat on the couch in silence for a while, lost in thought about what the other universes would be like.

Were the Flowey, Frisk, Chara and Papyrus of other universes going through the same predicament?

-----------

During this time, Sans and the others had just arrived at the foot of Mount Ebott. 

The mouth of the cave leading to the Underground was barred and guarded, preventing any curious humans from entering the cave and vandalizing the buildings Underground. This unfortunately also meant that monsters could not go back Underground without prior permission from authorities.

Asgore, being the King of Monsterkind, was one such authority, giving himself and the others permission to go Underground as well. 

"Walking to Snowdin will take many hours," Asgore said as he and Toriel led the group towards the castle. "Thankfully, there is a river that runs through and connects all of the Underground. We can use it to quickly reach Papyrus."

"Oh! I've used that river before!" Undyne exclaimed. "There's a weird person who had a boat that takes monsters to lots of places Underground! I took that boat to see Alphys sometimes."

"Yes, that's the Riverperson. Odd fellow, but very helpful as they ferry monsters back and forth everyday," Asgore replied.

"How strange...I do not believe I have seen this Riverperson before," Toriel said.

"They began their ferry service a few years ago. However, no one is sure where they came from. I do believe they've gone to the Surface with everyone else, but I have a spare boat by the docks near the castle: we just have to row it ourselves."

As they left the castle and headed towards the docks, they were greeted, to their utter surprise, by the Riverperson.

"Tra la la," the strange cloaked figure sang as they sat in their boat, "A lost memory is better than a dark one."

"Why, howdy, Riverperson," Asgore greeted them after a stunned silence, "I didn't expect to see that you're still here. I thought you left with everyone else."

"When there are people who need to use the river, I will be here," they replied in a sing-song voice, turning to the group. Their face remained hidden under the shadow of their hood. “The hot place is full of dangers, the cold place is safe. But, if you are still worried, I can take you where you need to go."

Their ramblings were as mysterious and cryptic as usual. The Dreemurrs, Undyne, and Alphys, despite being used to hearing the Riverperson's strange statements, still couldn't help feeling puzzled. Sans, who had never used the Riverperson's ferry service as he simply used his shortcuts while Underground, was baffled by their words.

"We need to go to Snowdin. Right now. It's an emergency!" Undyne explained.

"A good place to go; the only light in the Underground is there. But, you better hurry to it. The shadows around it grow darker," the Riverperson replied. "Please, do join me in my boat."

The group got into the boat, somehow managing to fit snugly into it, even though Asgore and Toriel were rather large monsters. It felt like the boat somehow expanded as they were getting into it.

The boat began to float up the river towards Snowdin. The Riverperson stood at the front of the boat once again, humming their song. The others remained silent, wondering if Papyrus was alright.

"Tra la la. The river can flow faster, if you focus hard enough on your boat," the Riverperson suddenly sang, before humming wordlessly again.

The group were puzzled by this mysterious remark, but decided that it was another one of the odd, meaningless things the Riverperson would sing. However, Sans perked up.

He immediately understood that the Riverperson was hinting at his ability to visualize time. He had now regained his powers after a good night's rest; If he concentrated on this boat, he should be able to make the boat move faster by cutting down the time needed to reach Snowdin. He wasn't sure if he was able to do it, due to there being so many people on the boat. But, for Papyrus’s sake, he had to try.

For a moment, he wondered how the Riverperson knew enough about his time manipulation powers to make that remark. However, he decided to focus on getting to Papyrus for now. Questioning this strange person could wait.

So, he closed his eyes and tried his best to focus on the boat. Time around them slowed down, while the boat sped up through time.

The others in the group did briefly wonder why it felt like the boat moved faster than usual, but decided it was simply their imagination.

 

-----------

Flowey sat in his flowerpot silently, musing about the existence of alternate universes. He came to realize that there were possibly universes where he was still Asriel, or even universes where Chara never died and they lived happily together with Toriel and Asgore.

These ideas filled him with sadness and made him very uncomfortable. He decided to stop.

"Erm, Papyrus?" he said with some hesitation, "Can we uh… talk about your past now? What happened after you found out you could make shortcuts?"

Papyrus, who had been trying to catch another glimpse of that universe where monsters were never imprisoned Underground, jolted out of his trance. He turned to Flowey with a sheepish expression.

"GOODNESS! OF COURSE, FLOWEY! I APOLOGIZE, I SEEM TO HAVE GONE OFF-TOPIC WITH MY MUSINGS ABOUT OTHER WORLDS," he replied with a smile, "I THINK I LAST LEFT OFF WHEN I MANAGED TO ENTER SANS' ROOM THROUGH A SHORTCUT, RIGHT?"

"Yes," Frisk answered excitedly, "What happened? Was Sans surprised?"

"INDEED, HE WAS FLABBERGASTED! BUT I RECALL THAT HE WAS MOSTLY VERY HAPPY TO SEE ME AGAIN. I REMEMBER THAT HE SAT STILL ON HIS BED FOR A FEW SECONDS, STARING AT ME IN ASTONISHMENT. BUT THEN, HE JUMPED UP FROM HIS BED, RAN OVER TO ME, AND HUGGED ME TIGHTLY." 

As he spoke, he felt tears behind his eye sockets. Sans had always cared for him so much. He couldn't wait to see Sans again, and never leave his side for such a long time ever again.

"When did he realize he had weird powers as well?"

"RIGHT AFTER THAT. I DO BELIEVE THAT, DEEP INSIDE, WE BOTH FELT THAT WE BOTH CHANGED SINCE GASTER GAVE US THOSE INJECTIONS. SOMETHING HAD CHANGED INSIDE OUR SOULS; WE COULD SEE AND FEEL THINGS WE'VE NEVER SEEN OR FELT BEFORE. BUT WE IGNORED IT UNTIL THEN. SANS WAS TOO TIRED AND CONSTANTLY IN PAIN, AND I- WELL… I-" Papyrus looked down in shame, his shoulders tensing up and his hand shaking, "I WAS OBSESSED WITH DOING VERY VIOLENT THINGS…"

Frisk reached out and patted his quivering hand. "It's okay, you don't have to talk about that again," they said gently. "What happened after that?"

Papyrus grew a little calmer. He leaned over and gave Frisk a small hug, appreciating their effort to comfort him.

"SANS TRIED TO USE HIS POWERS IMMEDIATELY. YOU MAY NOT BELIEVE THIS, BUT SANS CAN BE PROACTIVE WHEN HE HAS THE MOTIVATION TO DO SOMETHING." Papyrus's permanent grin grew a little wider into a smirk. "AT FIRST, WE THOUGHT OUR POWERS WERE SIMILAR. HE CONCENTRATED AS HARD AS HE COULD, TRYING TO SEE THE PLACES AROUND OUR ROOM. I WAS ABLE TO DO IT WITH SOME EFFORT, BUT NO MATTER HOW HARD HE TRIED, HE SAW NOTHING. HE ALSO IMMEDIATELY FELL ASLEEP AFTER THAT. I SUPPOSE THE EFFORT WAS TOO MUCH FOR HIM BACK THEN."

"HOWEVER, AFTER A FEW DAYS OF TRYING TO CONCENTRATE, HE TOLD ME HE COULD SEE SOMETHING MOVING. AT THAT TIME, NEITHER OF US HAVE SEEN A FLOWING RIVER BEFORE, ONLY PHOTOGRAPHS AND DRAWINGS OF RIVERS IN SANS' STORYBOOKS. SO, HE COULDN'T REALLY EXPLAIN WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE."

 

-----------

"i didn't see glowing blocks, but i saw something else," he remembered the reservoir saying to him, "it was something long. really, really long. i tried to see how far it went, but it seemed to just dip over the edges of the world. i felt like i was sitting inside this long thing and it was moving me along slowly."

The weapon tilted its head. "C-AAN Y-OUU ST-OP?" it asked.

"erm, let me try." The reservoir closed its eyes again and concentrated hard.

It tried its hardest to stop, but the strange river kept pushing it forward. Eventually, it managed to dig its heels into what seemed to be the riverbed, and its movements ground to a halt. Despite this, it could still feel the river pushing against it.

It opened its eyes. "i did it!" it exclaimed.

The weapon did not respond.

The reservoir felt puzzled. It waved one hand in front of the weapon's face to get its attention.

There was still no response.

It got off its bed and laid a hand on the weapon, before slowly coming to a realization that the weapon was not moving at all. 

It also noticed that nothing around the room had moved since it opened its eyes. The wires and tubes connected to its SOUL had detached themselves after it leapt off the bed. They were suspended in midair, still in the same position as they were when he was sitting on the bed.

For a moment, the reservoir panicked, utterly confused and terrified it would be stuck in time forever. But, as it lost concentration, time began to flow around it once again.

The wires and tubes hung down limply, as they usually would when disconnected. The weapon also began to move. 

At first, its movements were very slow, lifting one paw up at a snail's pace. But then, as time resumed, it began to move at regular speed, taking a few steps back as its eyes widened in surprise.

From its perspective, the weapon had suddenly vanished from the bed and reappeared in front of it, briefly touching its face. It was quite stunned by this, and had backed away in response.

"WH-AAT HAP-PUNN-ED?" it asked.

"i dunno. when i opened my eyes, everything was just stopped. nothing moved besides me. i could even get out of those wires and tubes," the reservoir replied, looking puzzled, "that was weird, but also kinda cool. i think if i try hard enough, i could do it again. although i dunno what i can use this power for."

It sat back down on its bed, deep in thought. Then, its eyes widened and a grin spread across its face.

"maybe i could use this to sneak past the doctor? i can make him stop, and then quickly run past him."

The weapon perked up. "WE CAN ESS-CAA-PE!" it exclaimed.

"huh? that's a good idea. that's actually a better idea than mine. i was only thinking about pranking him," the reservoir said with a sheepish grin.

"if you could do that jumping thing again, we can get out of this room together. then i can use that stopping thing i did before in case we run into any scientists or the doctor himself." The reservoir's eye sockets were wide open in delight and excitement, "we can finally be free!"

The weapon wagged its tail in delight at the idea of freedom from the tyranny of the Royal Scientist.

"but first, i need another nap. using that power was really tiring," the reservoir flopped down on its bed, giving a weapon a smile, "i'll practice again when i wake up, okay?"

 

-----------

"I suppose you managed to escape after that?" Chara asked, enjoying the story immensely as it reminded them of their own escape from the facility.

"NOT IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT. WE SPENT MANY DAYS PRACTICING OUR ABILITIES AND PLANNING A ROUTE TO FREEDOM. IT TOOK US QUITE A WHILE BECAUSE MANIPULATING SPACETIME WAS VERY TAXING ON US. SANS ALWAYS HAD TO TAKE A NAP AFTER HIS PRACTICE SESSIONS."

"So, not much has changed with him since then?" Chara said with a sly smirk.

Papyrus couldn't help laughing.

"NYEH HEH HEH! I SUPPOSE NOT. STILL, HE DOES WORK VERY HARD ON IMPROVING ON HIS ABILITIES, EVEN TO THIS VERY DAY. THE PROBLEM IS THAT HE MOSTLY USES HIS ABILITIES TO BE AS LAZY AS POSSIBLE, OR FOR PRANKS. UNLESS, OF COURSE, HE IS IN A VERY DIRE SITUATION." He gave the child a quick glance, which Frisk caught sight of.

"Oh," they said, understanding what he was hinting at and looking guilty, "My battle with Sans… So that's how he was able to dodge my attacks…"

"INDEED." Papyrus looked a little sad, but quickly continued as he did not want to make Frisk too uncomfortable, "ANYWAY! WE SPENT MANY DAYS PRACTICING. SANS PRACTICED TIME MANIPULATION ON HIMSELF AND ON ME. HE ALSO PRACTICED IT ON HIS BOOKS. I WOULD FLING A BOOK ACROSS THE ROOM WITH MY MOUTH, AND HE WOULD TRY TO SUSPEND THE BOOK IN MIDAIR. IT TOOK HIM MANY, MANY ATTEMPTS, AND MANY INNOCENT BOOKS WERE SLAMMED AGAINST THE WALL AS A RESULT. BUT HE EVENTUALLY MANAGED TO GET IT RIGHT."

"AS FOR ME, I TRIED TO VISUALIZE THE ROOMS AROUND ME. AT FIRST, ALL I COULD SEE WERE VAGUE BLOCKS. BUT THE MORE I PRACTICED, THE MORE I COULD SEE. VERY SOON, I WAS ABLE TO SEE ITEMS IN THE ROOMS AROUND ME, BUT ONLY LARGE ITEMS, LIKE MACHINES, COMPUTERS, AND SCIENTIFIC APPARATUSES. THEN, I MANAGED TO EXTEND MY SIGHT FURTHER AND FURTHER. UNTIL FINALLY, ONE DAY, I REALIZED I COULD SEE THINGS ABOVE THE LAB AS WELL, AND CAME TO REALIZE THERE WAS A WHOLE OTHER WORLD OUTSIDE. THAT WAS MY FIRST SIGHT OF HOTLAND."

"Didn't that Gaster person find it weird that you were suddenly in Sans' room?" Flowey asked, "Did he try to drag you back to your room?"

"SURPRISINGLY, NO." Papyrus frowned. None of the children could tell if his frown was due to confusion or sadness. "HE DID COME INTO THE ROOM AND WAS QUITE SHOCKED TO SEE ME THERE. BUT, HE DIDN'T SAY OR DO ANYTHING BESIDES RE-ATTACH SANS' LIFE SUPPORT. HE JUST…HE JUST LOOKED VERY TIRED, AND PERHAPS, A LITTLE SAD. HE STILL APPEARED IN THE ROOM A FEW TIMES, BUT THE ONLY THING HE DID WAS TO CHECK ON SANS' LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM. SOMETIMES, HE WOULD LEAVE ME A BOWL OF DOG FOOD."

"AT ANY RATE, WE KEPT OUR PLANS A SECRET FROM HIM. USING MY ABILITY, I WAS ABLE TO SEE THE SCIENTISTS WORKING AROUND THE LABORATORY. I SOON FIGURED OUT THEIR WORK SCHEDULE AND PLANNED TO ESCAPE WHEN ALL OF THEM HAD GONE HOME FOR THE DAY."

"WE CONTINUED TO TRAIN OURSELVES UNTIL WE WERE CONFIDENT ENOUGH IN USING OUR ABILITIES. AND EVENTUALLY, THE DAY CAME WHEN WE DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO LEAVE THAT ROOM FOREVER."

The children leaned in closer and closer to Papyrus, growing more excited.

"SANS DETACHED HIMSELF FROM HIS LIFE SUPPORT AGAIN USING HIS ABILITY TO STOP TIME AND HELD ONTO ME. I SCANNED THE LABORATORY, MAKING SURE THERE WAS NO ONE AROUND TO STOP US. THEN, I ATTEMPTED TO MAKE A SHORTCUT TO OUTSIDE OF THE LAB."

"Couldn't he use his own shortcut?"

"HE COULD NOT. IT SEEMED THAT TIME MANIPULATION DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TO MAKE A SHORTCUT THROUGH A LOCKED DOOR. ALTHOUGH I AM SURE HE WILL FIND A WAY NOWADAYS, BUT BACK THAT HE COULD NOT THINK OF ANY WAY TO LEAVE THE ROOM WITH HIS POWERS."

"ANYWAY! AS SOON AS I MANAGED TO VISUALIZE THE OUTSIDE OF THE LABORATORY, I JUMPED AS FAR AS I COULD, HOPING TO REACH IT."

"Did you make it?" Frisk asked, their eyes wide.

"NOT DURING THE FIRST TRY, OR THE SECOND. WE ONLY ENDED UP OUTSIDE THE ROOM, STILL IN THE LABORATORY." Papyrus closed his eyes as he recalled the event, focusing his mind on his surroundings without realizing, "BUT DURING MY THIRD TRY, I DID IT! WE FOUND OURSELVES OUTSIDE THE LABORATORY, STANDING IN HOTLAND!"

"What happened after that?" Flowey said.

"THERE WERE SOME MONSTERS OUTSIDE THE LAB THAT I DID NOT SEE!" The children gasped. "THEY PANICKED WHEN THEY SAW US, SO WE BEGAN TO RUN. WE DID NOT WANT TO BE CAUGHT."

"Did you get away?" Chara asked as they grew more excited.

"WE-"

Papyrus' story came to an abrupt halt as his eyes suddenly shot open. He froze, mouth agape, with a look of amazement and confusion on his face.

The children were baffled by his sudden change of expression. 

"Papyrus?" Flowey called, growing worried when Papyrus did not respond at all and continued to remain completely still.

"SANS!?" he suddenly shrieked as he leapt up from the couch, making the children jump due to his unexpected yell. He rushed towards the front door, threw it open, and began running unsteadily through the snow.

"Wait!!!" "Where are you going!?" "What's wrong with him?"

Frisk grabbed Flowey's flower pot and the children ran after Papyrus.

At that moment, the Dreemurrs, Undyne, Alphys, and Sans had just arrived at the Snowdin dock. The Riverperson stopped the boat as the group prepared to step onto the snowy ground.

"SANS!!!"

The group looked up and saw Papyrus speeding towards them like a freight train, his remaining arm outstretched.

Sans was out of the boat in an instant. He ran towards Papyrus at a speed that surprised the others. They were used to seeing Sans plodding along lazily with his hands in his pockets, and had never seen him run this fast before.

The brothers immediately threw their arms around each other, Sans almost toppling over due to Papyrus' strength. Sans wrapped both his arms around Papyrus, gently petting his back, while Papyrus held onto Sans tightly with his remaining arm as tears of joy streamed down his face. 

As they embraced, the children came into view, panting for air after running as hard as they could to catch up with Papyrus.

Toriel and Asgore jumped out of the boat as well, and ran over to give them a hug.  

Frisk found themselves held by both Dreemurrs in the biggest, softest hug imaginable. Toriel was so overjoyed to see her child again that she didn't mind sharing a hug with Asgore, who was also ecstatic to see Frisk and Flowey safe.

 Flowey was also caught up in the hug, which reminded him so much of his days as Asriel that tears filled his eyes. Chara, while knowing that the Dreemurrs were unaware of their existence, felt like crying as well. But their instinct to push away any sadness kicked in, and they automatically began to grin widely to prevent themselves from crying. Frisk had to bury their face in Toriel's clothes to prevent anyone from seeing Chara's grin.

Undyne leapt out of the boat, cheering in excitement to see that Papyrus and Frisk were alright. Alphys slowly climbed out after her, smiling and clasping her hands together in delight as she saw the brothers and the Dreemurrs embracing. 

Even the Riverperson, although never saying a word, was smiling at the sight under the shadow of their hood.

Chapter Text

 

“Look at those two. What do you think they’re talking about?” Flowey leaned over to whisper to Frisk as he pointed towards the stairs.

Frisk turned. They saw Sans and Papyrus were seated very closely on the stairs, speaking to each other in low voices.

“They’ve been stuck together since Sans and everyone else arrived,  and they haven’t left each other’s sides for a second,” Flowey continued.

“I guess they miss each other a lot and just want to talk,” Frisk replied, smiling as they watched the skeleton brothers. 

It was lovely to see the brothers happily chatting. They couldn’t hear a word the brothers were saying from the couch, but sometimes they could hear Sans letting out a low laugh, while Papyrus gave a very soft “Nyeh heh heh!”.

“Well it would have been nicer if they joined us, rather than keeping to themselves like that,” said Flowey huffily, “Besides, I still want to hear the rest of Papyrus’ story, but he doesn't want to tell us while everyone is around.”

“Hey, punk! Stop whispering over there! It’s your turn to move a block!” came Undyne’s voice.

Frisk turned back to the table in front of them. On the table was a tower of Jenga blocks, already precariously balanced. Undyne and Alphys stood on the other side of the table, waiting for Frisk to make their move.

"Go o-on, Frisk," said Alphys as she glanced nervously at the tower.

Frisk nodded and smiled, feeling quite confident in their ability to play this game. 

They felt grateful that Asgore had brought along so many games, and that Undyne and Alphys were eager to play with them and Flowey. It was fun to play with the two and it helped them take their mind off everything that had happened the past few days.

Frisk moved their block and settled back down on the coach as Flowey took his turn. While they waited, Alphys piped up after some hesitation.

“A-are you all s-sure Papyrus is al-alright? You haven't t-t-told us wh-what h-happened to him."

Papyrus had made the children promise to not tell anyone about what had happened in Hotland. He didn't want Sans to worry, and he did not want the others to know about his true form and violent past. 

"He's okay. We were taking a walk in Hotland but one of the metal walkways broke under Papyrus. He fell and injured himself," Frisk lied.

"You gotta be more careful! Stuff in the Underground is falling apart without monsters maintaining it all!" Undyne warned with a frown. 

"Yeah, we know. We're sorry."

Frisk heard Chara sigh uncomfortably in their mind. It seemed that they still deeply regretted hurting Papyrus. Frisk felt the same way, but tried not to show it in front of the others.

Chara had remained silent throughout the conversation. They did not dare to reveal themselves in fear of upsetting their parents. They were not sure how both of them would react when finding out that their dead child was now a soulless spirit that had been tormenting Frisk for months.

"I-I'm j-just glad he's o-okay," said Alphys as she reached out to move a block for her turn.

"Same here! And I'm glad that Toriel's healing magic is strong enough to heal him fully and put his arm back on," Undyne continued, "How's her cooking coming along anyway? I'm starving!" She craned her neck to look at the kitchen.

There were two large pots over the stove. Toriel was busy stirring and adding more ingredients to both pots. Behind her was Asgore, meeking chopping up vegetables at the countertop.

"I-it's nice t-to see th-them w-working t-together," Alphys commented, "E-even though T-Toriel didn't w-want A-Asgore in the k-kitchen at f-first."

"Took us a lot of convincing and she was really huffy about it, but she caved in," Undyne added with a satisfied grin, "Hope they'll be done with dinner soon. It smells delicious!"

She reached out to move a block for her turn as she spoke. Unfortunately, as soon as she touched the block, the entire tower come tumbling down onto the table with a crash.

"OH COME ON!!!" she shrieked. She got so heated that she lifted the table over her head, scattering Jenga blocks in all directions, and aimed the table at a window.

"UNDYNE NO!" Alphys screamed as she wrapped her arms around Undyne's waist in an attempt to stop her from flinging the table out the window.

Frisk and Flowey burst out laughing. Toriel and Asgore rushed out of the kitchen when they heard the commotion. Even Papyrus and Sans stopped talking for a moment to see what was happening. Papyrus leapt up to stop Undyne, while Sans grinned widely in amusement.

They managed to calm Undyne down before she broke anything. Once everyone had cleaned up the Jenga blocks and settled down, it was time for dinner.

Even during dinner, the skeleton brothers did not want to be separated. They remained seated on the stairs, each with a plate of food balanced on their knees, still talking softly. The others ate their dinner at the table, enjoying the food and each other's company.

The brothers only parted ways after dinner, when Sans felt sleepy and decided to take a nap. He curled up in the corner of the room, much to the amazement of everyone besides Papyrus, and immediately began to snore softly. 

The Dreemurrs decided that they would all stay for the night, since they needed some rest for the long journey back home. Toriel settled down on the couch to read a book she brought, while Asgore went out for a walk around Snowdin.

The others were now left to their own devices. Undyne and Alphys headed out to Waterfall; partially because Undyne wanted to see what her home looked like after six months of neglect, and partially because they wanted some time alone together.

As soon as they were left alone, Papyrus and the children quietly snuck up to his room, and closed the door.

"OKAY," Papyrus said, once again speaking in his usual loud voice, "I SUPPOSE YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO CONTINUE MY STORY?"

"Yes!" the children replied excitedly. Frisk plopped down onto the floor in front of Papyrus and placed Flowey's pot beside them.

"VERY WELL." Papyrus sat down in front of them, "LET US BEGIN WHERE WE LEFT OFF…"

 

-----------

The first jump landed the weapon and the reservoir just outside the room of their imprisonment. They found themselves in a dark, empty corridor, its floor, walls and ceiling lined with metal plating.

The reservoir clutched the weapon tightly in fear, scared by its surroundings. The weapon, feeling frightened as well, attempted to jump again.

The second jump was still unsuccessful. However, on the third jump, they appeared on the path just outside the laboratory.

For a few moments, they stood and gazed around them, marveling at their surroundings. The ground was made of rock, and was warm to the touch instead of cold like the metal floors in the laboratory. The air around them was hot and they could see glowing lava far below them from the sides of the path. The cave ceiling was so high up that they could only see darkness above them. There were no walls surrounding them. Instead, in the distance, they could see natural stone formations and tall metal buildings with hundreds of cogwheels spinning on their walls. 

This strange, new environment and the lack of any ceiling or walls filled them with joy. They were finally free from the laboratory, finally free from being forced to undergo experiments and punishments. They could go wherever they liked and live as they wished.

But they did not have much time to rejoice over their freedom.

During this time of day, the path outside the laboratory was full of monsters making their way home from work or heading to Hotland for a night out. Many monsters saw these two beings suddenly materialize from nowhere on that path.

Panic broke out. The weapon's size and terrifying appearance horrified the monsters. Many of them fled in various directions, shrieking in fear. Some stood, staring, frozen in fear.

"wh-why are they yelling?" the reservoir asked, clutching tightly onto the weapon again.

The weapon gazed around at the monsters, noticing that they all bore the same expression as the monsters who were thrown into its room to be killed. "TH-EYY A-RRE AF-AFRAID."

"of us?" 

The weapon nodded. It did not feel as confused or frightened as the reservoir, since it was used to monsters reacting in terror at the sight of it. 

"why? we're not scary," the reservoir wondered as it tilted its head, puzzled.

"wait!" it suddenly turned to the weapon with a look of horror, "what if all this yelling alerts the scientists? they'll capture us again!"

The weapon jolted upright, suddenly realizing the danger they were in. It stared around at the panicking monsters in despair.

All its instincts were telling it that it had to kill these monsters before they alerted anyone.

No. It couldn't. It mustn't. 

It shook its head. No more killing. There must be another way.

It seemed like fleeing was the only option now.

The weapon quickly bent down and nudged the reservoir gently. "WE MU-UST RU-UN! GE-ET ON!" 

The reservoir nodded and hurriedly clambered onto the weapon's back, as the weapon helped by hoisting it with its head. The reservoir settled between two of the weapon's spikes and clung onto its backbone tightly.

Without wasting a second, the weapon fled down the path, bounding over monsters to avoid accidentally hurting anyone.

As the weapon ran, the reservoir closed its eyes and tried to focus on slowing time around them, hoping this would help them escape the monsters faster.

Its attempt worked. Time slowed to almost a halt around them as the weapon’s speed increased. Any other monster they encountered along the way barely even saw them run past. They only saw a strange blur along the path and felt a strong gust of wind as the weapon dashed past them.

The weapon soon saw a large building looming in the distance. It did not know what the building was, but it decided to head towards it. Surely such a huge building would have somewhere for them to hide until the monsters stopped panicking. 

Unfortunately for the two beings, one of the scientists that knew about the project had witnessed their escape. 

She tried to call Dr. Gaster, but finding that he had turned off his phone, she rushed back into the lab and to his office. 

"Dr. Gaster!" she shrieked, banging on the office door and throwing it open, "The subjects have escaped!"

She found him sitting at his desk, gazing blankly at the ceiling. 

The Royal Scientist had not been doing well for the past two weeks. She and the other scientists noticed that he spent most of his time in his office rather than working in the labs. 

He barely interacted with his employees and didn't quite seem to be there when he was spoken to.He just constantly looked grave and tired, staring vacantly into the distance, as he was doing now.

"Dr. Gaster!" she shrieked again, waving her arms in front of his face. "The subjects have escaped!!!"

This got his attention. He leapt up, looking shocked for a second before composing himself.

"WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" he asked, trying to keep calm.

"They're headed towards the Core! What are we gonna do!?" The clam monster clasped her hands together in panic.

"CALL THE OTHER SCIENTISTS INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT," Dr. Gaster commanded, "THEN HEAD TO THE CORE TO CONTAIN THE SUBJECTS."

"Yes sir!" the scientist pulled out her phone again and began dialing. When she turned back to Dr. Gaster, she was astonished to find that he had disappeared. He had already warped himself to the Core, preparing to search for his escaped prisoners.

 

-----------

As the weapon and the reservoir  entered the Core, the reservoir released its hold on time, almost passing out from exhaustion, as it was not used to using its ability for such a long time. It laid down on the weapon’s back, eyes half-lidded.

The weapon slowed its pace, taking in its new surroundings. It gazed around at the narrow metal walkways that snaked throughout the building and the white, steaming substance pooling below the corridors. 

There were no monsters around at all. The Core was dead silent aside from a low hum of machinery within the Core's walls and the clinking of the weapon's claws on the metal floor. This, however, only made both of them feel more frightened than relieved, as it felt like this was a forbidden place that they should not have entered.

The weapon prowled along the walkways, its eyes sweeping back and forth as it searched for a place to hide. It didn’t dare to run. The walkways did not have any railings, and it was afraid of slipping and falling off the walkways into the searing-hot substance below.

As they walked deeper into the building, the silence of their surroundings was abruptly broken by the sound of footsteps coming from the entrance of the building. The weapon froze in its tracks, while the reservoir lifted its head in panic.

"it's the scientists! we need to find a place to hide!" it said, its voice trembling, "hurry!"

The weapon began to run down the corridor, still being very careful not to slip off. It desperately searched around for a hiding place, any hiding place. But there wasn't anywhere to hide; the entire building seemed to be made of only metal walkways, dead ends, and the steaming-hot liquid below them.

Then, to the dismay and horror of both beings, Dr. Gaster himself materialized along the walkway, stepping out of the shadows and blocking the weapon's path.

The weapon dug its claws into the floor, screeching to a halt. It stared at the scientist with large, frightened eyes, while the reservoir clung even tighter to its back.

Dr. Gaster glared at them, but both of them noticed that his glare was far less intense than it was when he was experimenting on them. Underneath his angry expression, they could see that he seemed very tired.

"I DID NOT GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO LEAVE YOUR ROOMS," he said sternly, "THE PROJECT HAS BEEN COMPROMISED BECAUSE OF YOU. NO CIVILAIN MONSTER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROJECT, BUT NOW HUNDREDS OF MONSTERS HAVE WITNESSED YOUR ESCAPE AND KNOW OF YOUR EXISTENCE."

"I DO NOT KNOW HOW YOU ESCAPED, BUT I SHALL FIND THAT OUT LATER. NOW, RETURN TO YOUR ROOMS BEFORE YOU CAUSE MORE DAMAGE."

The weapon hesitated, but shook its head defiantly.

"GO BACK TO THE LAB IMMEDIATELY, OR I SHALL MAKE THE BOTH OF YOU REGRET EVER DISOBEYING ME."

This threat made both of them tremble, but the weapon still refused to obey.

Dr. Gaster's expression grew dark.

"VERY WELL."

He summoned four blasters with a wave of his hand, firing four beams of magic directly at the subjects. 

The weapon shrieked, leaping onto another walkway to get out of the way of the beams. It scrambled to cling onto the walkway with its claws as the beams barely missed it, blowing open a hole in a wall far behind them. 

The blasters fired again, forcing the weapon to move out of the way. It noticed that the beams moved much slower than they did before, allowing it to dodge with ease. It came to realize that the reservoir was once again slowing down time, even though it was almost passing out from exhaustion.

"PL-EEASE ST-OOP," the weapon begged, turning its head to the reservoir, "Y-OU AA-RE HU-RRTING! ST-OOP!"

"i-i have to," the reservoir gasped, desperately trying to stay conscious, "need to keep you safe…"

More blasts of magic were aimed at them. Once again, the reservoir forced itself to slow down time, straining its power as hard as it could. The weapon dodged out of the way by leaping onto another walkway, before turning to look at the reservoir in concern.

This proved to be too strenuous to the reservoir. It gave a small whimper and fainted dead away, laying its head on the weapon's back with a soft groan.

The weapon shrieked in horror. It tried to nudge the reservoir with its head to wake it up, but could not turn its head back far enough to reach it. It also did not dare to move around too much in fear of the reservoir slipping off.  

It grew distressed at being unable to help the reservoir. But its distress quickly gave way to anger when it turned and saw that Dr. Gaster was still aiming his blasters at them.

The memories of how Dr. Gaster had tormented it resurfaced. 

The shocks from the electric collar. The horrible injections. The insults. Being slammed onto the floor by blue magic and shadowy tendrils. Forced to kill monsters over and over against its will...

Its eyes gleamed brighter as these recollections filled the weapon with a burning rage.

Dr. Gaster did not expect the weapon to fire a blast of magic from its mouth at him, and was shot squarely in the chest.

He was thrown onto the ground by the blast, but was back on his feet in a second, holding one hand over his chest. His eyes were now burning brightly with fury at the weapon for daring to attack him.

He raised one hand towards the weapon. Large, jagged bones shot upwards through the floor underneath the weapon. 

The weapon was ready for this and used a shortcut to avoid the attack, disappearing and reappearing a little distance away from the bones. It did not dare to leap out of the way in fear of the reservoir falling off its back.

In retaliation, it summoned a few large bones and hurled them at Dr. Gaster, who deflected them with ease using shadowy hands and tendrils.

A battle ensued. Both of them sent bone and blast attacks at each other, while deflecting each other's attacks or teleporting out of the way to avoid the attacks. Sometimes they would fail to deflect or dodge an attack and get hit, but they would quickly recover and continue fighting.

The other scientists, attracted by the noise of the attacks crashing against the walls of the Core, soon arrived to where the fight had commenced. They stood in the distance, watching in fear and amazement at the battle between these two powerful entities.

Unfortunately, as Dr. Gaster was far more skilled in battle strategies than the weapon, and he soon gained the upper hand. When the weapon was distracted by trying to deflect his bone attacks, he turned the weapon's SOUL blue, and dragged its SOUL down so hard that it crashed onto the floor.

It screeched and struggled against the blue magic, but Dr. Gaster quickly wrapped shadowy tendrils around its bones and SOUL, pinning it onto the floor. He then aimed his blasters directly at it, preparing to fire. 

But, something made him stop.

There was a look of terror in the weapon's eyes: the expression of a terrified child. It was whining as it gazed at the blasters in fear, straining against the tendrils to turn so that it could use its body to shield the reservoir from harm. 

Dr. Gaster started to feel sick with guilt once again. No matter how much he tried, he found that he simply could not attack the weapon. Even when he turned away or closed his eyes, he could still see that pitiful, terrified look in the weapon's eyes, as if it was burned into his mind.

Eventually, he gave up, releasing the weapon and dematerializing his blasters. He bent over, holding one hand over his mouth, trying to forget that look in the weapon's eyes.

The weapon was surprised to be freed from the blue magic and the tendrils. However, its anger and hatred towards Dr. Gaster was still welling up within it. As soon as it was free, it continued to attack Dr. Gaster by sending more bone attacks at him.

Dr. Gaster’s guilt pinned him to the ground more than any blue magic ever could. He did not try to fight, nor did he even try to flee.

He deserved this, after all. He had tormented this creature for so long, it had all the right to hurt and even kill him.

So he stood still, allowing the weapon to attack him relentlessly, feeling the life draining from his SOUL. He could feel his HP dropping lower. Soon, he would be dead. 

It was for the better.

The weapon continued to send a barrage of bone and blast attacks at the scientist, gleeful that he was no longer fighting back and making the battle so much easier for it. Soon, it would be free from Dr. Gaster forever and live happily together with the reservoir, it just had to kill h

It froze.

It suddenly recalled the promise it made to the reservoir and to itself.

No more killing.

Even though killing made it stronger and gave a feeling of ghastly satisfaction, the weapon knew that if it killed Dr. Gaster, it would once again lose its ability to feel compassion and to show love to others. The sadistic desire to torture and murder would return; it would be compelled to start killing again in order to grow stronger.

It didn't want to feel that way anymore, nor did it want to lose its love for the reservoir. As much as Dr. Gaster deserved justice for tormenting both of them and for forcing it to kill so many monsters, it could not kill him.

It must not kill him.

The weapon stood there for a while, feeling conflicted, before it finally spared Dr. Gaster's life.

Dr. Gaster, now kneeling over on the floor in pain, gazed up in surprise and confusion at the weapon. 

His HP was at 1. The weapon could easily end his life there with just one more attack. But yet…

But yet...it was now stepping away from Dr. Gaster, being careful to keep the reservoir on its back, who was just waking up and looking very confused. It showed no fear as it gazed at him.

Dr. Gaster stood up unsteadily, keeping his eyes on the weapon.

“WHY… WHY WOULD YOU SPARE ME?” he asked. His voice quivered and there was a look of desperate sadness in his eyes. "WHY WOULD YOU REFUSE TO DEAL THE FINAL BLOW? I...I DO NOT UNDERSTAND…”

“DYING IS PREFERABLE TO LIVING WITH THE GUILT… THE GUILT OF TORMENTING YOU FOR YEARS… WHY MUST YOU MAKE ME LIVE WITH THIS?...”

The weapon did not reply.

Instead, seeing that the scientist no longer had any intent to attack, the weapon decided that it was time to leave. It turned around and headed back towards the entrance of the Core, while the reservoir gently petted its back to comfort it.

The other scientists got out of its way as the weapon walked past them, completely ignoring them. They were baffled, but also rather in awe at this beast's decision to spare its tormentor. 

Then the blaring of an alarm suddenly shattered the silence, and a red, flashing light flooded the entire building.

Dr. Gaster and the weapon's attacks had not only damaged the walls around them, but had also pierced through the walls and destroyed a lot of the Core’s machinery. The power plant was now malfunctioning from their reckless behavior. 

The air began to grow hot and heavy as the white substance below the walkways began to rise higher and higher.

Dr. Gaster had created the substance from very strong magical energies, energies that could drain the life from any being nearby...and even completely disintegrate anyone on contact.

They had to leave the Core immediately if they wanted to survive.

"WE MUST EVACUATE!" Dr. Gaster shouted to the other scientists, who were panicking at the sound of the alarm and the sight of the substance rising towards them, "DO NOT ALLOW THE SUBSTANCE TO COME IN CONTACT WITH YOU! IT IS MADE FROM VERY STRONG MAGICAL ENERGIES THAT CAN COMPLETELY DISINTEGRATE ANY LIVING BEING! GET AS FAR AWAY FROM THE CORE AS POSSIBLE WHILE I SHUT DOWN THE CORE FROM THE OUTSIDE!"

The scientists were more than happy to leave the Core, and hurriedly began running towards the entrance.

Dr. Gaster attempted to warp himself out of the Core but couldn’t . Perhaps it was because he was weakened from the battle, or perhaps the substance below him was already beginning to take a toll on him. At any rate, that didn't matter at the moment. He began to run towards the entrance as well. 

When he built the Core, he had set an emergency protocol in place where all entrances to the Core would be closed off by large metal doors if there ever was a meltdown. There would be a few minutes to spare before the emergency shutdown took place; he hoped he and his scientists could exit the Core before they were trapped within it.

 

-----------

The weapon and the reservoir had arrived at the Core's entrance just as the alarms began blaring. They stood some distance away and watched fearfully at the rising white-hot substance, wondering what was happening.

As they watched, they saw one of the scientists make it to the entrance. However, he was so weakened by being exposed to the substance that he simply collapsed on the floor by the entrance, unable to move.

Even though both the weapon and the reservoir did not trust the scientists, they felt sorry for him. The weapon, after a few seconds of gazing sadly at the scientist, walked over to him and used its teeth to pick him up gently by the back of his lab coat collar. It held up the terrified scientist and took him away from the entrance, before carefully placing him down a safe distance away from the Core. 

As it was picking up the scientist, the weapon had noticed another scientist laying on the walkway in the Core, close to unconsciousness. 

The weapon bent down to allow the reservoir to climb off its back.

"PLEE-SE STA-AY HEE-ERE," it said to the reservoir, "NEE-ED TO GO SA-AVE TH-EEM."

"wait, what? no!" the reservoir replied in panic. "why would you save them? and besides, there's something wrong with that building. it seems to be making those scientists fall down. it might hurt you too!"

"WI-ILL BE FI-INE," the weapon explained, "DO-ON'T WA-ANT MORE MO-ONST-ERRS TO DIE."

The reservoir hesitated, clutching onto the reservoir's back. It looked towards the entrance of the Core and back at the scientist laying on the floor, who was still petrified with fear.

"okay," it finally said, still with some doubt in its voice. It climbed off the weapon's back and stood unsteadily beside the scientist, "please hurry. and please don't get hurt."

The weapon nodded, its expression full of determination. It nudged its head gently at the reservoir to reassure the reservoir that it would be alright, before turning and running back through the entrance.

It picked up the other scientist by their collar and ran back outside, gently placing them next to the first monster. It then went back in.

A few seconds later, it emerged with another scientist. By now, it was beginning to feel the effects of the Core. It felt lightheaded and it wasn't as fast or agile as usual. 

When it exited the Core with the fifth scientist it found, it heard the reservoir let out a small yelp and point at the entrance, its expression full of fear.

"the door is closing!" it cried, pointing as a large metal door slowly began to descend from the top of the entrance, "don't go in there anymore!"

"ONE MO-ORE," the weapon insisted as it turned around and rushed back inside, feeling that it should be able to escape before the door closed.

However, the next scientist it found was, to its dismay, Dr. Gaster.

The Royal Scientist had collapsed on the walkway, too weakened to move any further. He was surprised to see that the weapon had returned.

Perhaps it has returned to finish me off, he thought, it's for the better anyway.

So he continued to lay still, gazing up at the weapon in silence.

The weapon stood over Dr. Gaster, its expression bewildered and its thoughts conflicted. 

Hatred. Anger. Disgust. That was all it felt towards the scientist. 

It would be happy to let him die a painful death.

But, that would still mean it was intentionally letting him die, even if it did not directly kill him. 

At the same time, if it saved Dr. Gaster, he might try to capture it and the reservoir again. But, perhaps showing kindness to him would convince him to change his ways? After all, it did change its mind and stopped killing after the reservoir had shown kindness to it. Maybe it could also work on Dr. Gaster?...

There wasn't much time to think. The door of the entrance was still closing and the substance was still rising. It had to make its decision quickly if it wanted to escape.

Letting out a groan and feeling like it would later regret this choice, it bent down and took hold of Dr. Gaster by the back of his collar. It then turned around and ran back to the door, sliding underneath it just in time as the door slammed shut behind it.

It released Dr. Gaster, before collapsing in exhaustion by the door, most of its energy sapped by the substance in the Core. The reservoir, who had been terrified that it would never see the weapon again, ran over to it and placed its arms around its head.

Dr. Gaster, feeling his energy returning, got up and hurried to a small room with a control panel at the side of the building. He unlocked the door, dashed in, and pulled a large lever on the control panel.

The Core powered down, and the place went dark as the electricity was shut off. 

Dr. Gaster collapsed against a wall, tired but relieved that a disaster was averted. The substance should subside after a while and the Core could undergo repairs.

He left the room and walked slowly back towards the two subjects. When the reservoir saw him approaching, it immediately placed itself in between him and the weapon, afraid that he might try to attack the weapon again.

But Dr. Gaster no longer had any desire to harm them. 

"You could have left me…" he said feebly. "You could have left me to die… but yet, you didn't…"

The two beings said nothing.

"Why… why did you save me? Why didn't you let me die…?"

Chapter Text

"Why would your weapon save you?" The Captain of the Royal Guard leaned towards Dr. Gaster, palms pressed firmly on the table, "I could ask you the same question."

Dr. Gaster remained still in his seat, glancing away from the Captain.

"After listening to your confession, as well as what some of your scientists and my Royal Guards have testified against you, I am surprised your weapon was willing to spare your life, much less save you from dying horribly in the Core." 

The Captain clenched his fists as his spoke. He was furious after hearing about all the terrible things Dr. Gaster had done, but tried his best to remain professional.

Dr. Gaster kept silent, too ashamed and disgusted at himself to respond.

Outside the interrogation room were King Asgore and the former Royal Guard captain, Gerson. They were watching the interrogation procedure through a one-way window, and had listened to Dr. Gaster's confession in horrified silence.

Gerson sighed deeply after the scientist had finished. He shook his head and turned to the King. "Shows that you can't judge by appearances, I guess. Gaster always looked so respectable and composed, but it turned out he's been doin' horrible things behind our backs."

King Asgore nodded, looking distressed. He gazed away from the window and sighed. 

"It’s a terrible situation. Dr. Gaster has helped monsterkind in many ways over the years, more than I ever possibly could. He is the reason all of us could survive being trapped Underground. Because of that, I have always respected him and saw him as a beacon of hope. But now…"

His voice trailed off, before he continued solemnly, "I shouldn't have told him about the concept of "Level of Violence". It was what started all of this trouble in the first place. If he didn't know about it, all of those monsters would not have been killed."

"Don't blame yerself, Your Majesty. Even if he didn't know about the "Level of Violence", he would have found other cruel ways to force his weapon and reservoir to grow stronger. After all, he did admit that he experimented on them with some kind of substance before he began forcing his weapon to kill monsters."

"That…that is true, I suppose." King Asgore turned to Gerson. "You don't seem very surprised or distressed about this, Gerson. Have you always suspected that Dr. Gaster was untrustworthy?"

"Oh, Your Majesty, I assure you that I'm horrified by this as well," the elderly tortoise monster replied gravely, "I didn't expect the culprit behind the murders to be Gaster either, even though the current Captain suspected it."

"It's just that I've seen these kinds of things before. I've been around since the days of the war, and I've witnessed many awful things. People killin' each other to become stronger. People torturin' one another because they think it'll make ‘em stronger. Humans and monsters were all doing such terrible things to each other, you'd think all of ‘em didn't have any SOULs. The desire for power and strength can corrupt even the purest of minds. And I'm afraid Gaster wasn't spared from that corruption."

"Yes. I have heard of these horrors from my parents. I always thought they only happened on the Surface and we would have left these far behind after the War. But yet…"

"Those monsters unjustly killed by Gaster's obsession… and those two children he kept locked up and tortured for years… none of them deserved this… I should have been more observant, especially when Gaster started behaving oddly and becoming very secretive about his projects…"

"Yer Majesty, this ain't yer fault. And, it's too late to be regrettin' this now," Gerson replied softly, trying to comfort the King, "The best we can do now is try to solve the problems Gaster left behind. Such as: what are we gonna do with the two kids?"

"A good home must be found for them. A place where they can receive the care and love they deserve, as well as allow them to gradually learn how to live among monsters and make friends in the monster community."

"Maybe Yer Majesty could adopt ‘em?" suggested Gerson.

"Oh goodness, no!" 

Gerson was surprised by Asgore's sudden horrified reaction. 

The King bowed his head in shame, "I can't. I simply can't. Toriel was correct: I cannot be trusted with children. The six coffins in the basement of the castle is proof of that…"

"Ah yes, that." Gerson frowned, deciding not to make any comments on this topic. "Is there anyone that would take care of those kids? I'm pretty sure Gaster's gonna get a life sentence, and I wouldn't want him anywhere near those kids anyway."

As Gerson spoke, the door to the interrogation room opened. Gaster was led out in handcuffs by the Captain and two Royal Guards. 

He caught sight of Asgore and Gerson watching him, and averted his gaze to stare at the floor, too ashamed to even look in their direction.

Gerson glared silently at Gaster. Asgore looked distressed, but stepped forward to speak to Gaster.

"Gaster, I'm afraid I shall have to strip you from your position as the Royal Scientist. After hearing what you have confessed, we agree that it is for the best to remove you from your position and be sentenced for life."

Gaster nodded meekly.

"The five scientists who participated in the two projects have also been fired from their positions. They have been sentenced to jail time and community service for being accomplices to your crime. This sentence has also been given to the Royal Guards involved in the projects."

Gaster looked up. "FIVE SCIENTISTS? I DO BELIEVE THERE WERE MORE OF THEM INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT." He was quite sure there at least ten scientists who had entered the Core in search of the two subjects. 

"We checked the identities and records of your employees. Only five scientists were found to have worked on the projects, not counting the ones you mercilessly murdered with the weapon," the Captain said, in such an angry voice that Gaster decided not to ask about this any further.

"WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE WEAPON AND RESERVOIR? IS THERE A PLACE THEY CAN RESIDE IN AND BE CARED FOR?"

"I went around the Underground looking for a suitable home for them. I managed to find a good orphanage in Snowdin that was willing to take them in," King Asgore explained. "I will check on them often to make sure they are receiving the care they need."

Gaster nodded. He didn't understand why, but he found himself feeling concerned for the well-being of the two. It was a small relief to him that they would be given a good home.

"The monster running the orphanage did ask for their names. They said that it would not be a good idea to call them ‘weapon’ and ‘reservoir’."

"I SEE." Gaster remembered that the reservoir spoke in a language known as ‘Comic Sans’. And from what few words he had heard from the weapon, he noticed that it spoke in ‘Papyrus’.

"PLEASE TELL THEM TO CALL THE CHILDREN SANS… AND PAPYRUS..."

 

-----------

 

"Wait," Flowey interrupted, "You mean that the reason why you and Smiley Tr- Sans talk so weirdly is because you're speaking in another language?"

"I SUPPOSE SO," Papyrus placed on hand under his chin as he spoke, "I STILL DO NOT QUITE UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS."

(How are we able to understand you if you both speak in a different language?) Frisk signed.

"it would be nice if people couldn't understand us, wouldn't it?"

The children turned and shrieked when they saw Sans standing in the corner of the room, glaring at them. Frisk leapt up in terror while Flowey almost fell out of his pot.

"then no one would hear secrets that someone promised he wouldn't tell anyone," Sans continued, turning his glare to Papyrus.

Papyrus sat frozen in horror, not noticing that Sans had taken a shortcut into the room while he was telling his story, until this very moment.

Sans still wore his usual grin and had his hands shoved casually in his pockets. However, his eye sockets were completely black and his expression was dark. He stood still, body tense, trying to control himself from saying anything that might hurt Papyrus or Frisk.

Papyrus stood up slowly, looking very guilty. "SANS, I-" he began, pausing to to think of what to say.

"I AM VERY SORRY. I UNDERSTAND IF YOU ARE ANGRY AT ME, BROTHER, AS I HAVE BROKEN YOUR TRUST. I HAD TO TELL THE STORY BECAUSE I MADE A PROMISE TO THE CHILDREN THAT I WOULD."

"that…really isn't a good excuse, papyrus."

"I- I KNOW," Papyrus' shoulders slumped as he glanced away from Sans, looking distressed. "IT WAS PART OF A DEAL WITH THE SPIRIT POSSESSING FRISK. WE HAD A LOVELY TIME TALKING TO EACH OTHER-"

"a deal you made to some spirit is more important than a promise we made a long time ago?" Sans' words sounded harsher than he intended. "besides, why are you making deals with spirits anyway? that's not exactly a smart thing to do."

The children noticed Papyrus was beginning to tense up.

"IT WAS HOW I WAS ABLE TO TALK TO THEM. THEY WERE INTERESTED IN MY PAST AND WE WERE ABLE TO SIT DOWN AND HAVE A LONG, LOVELY CHAT AS I OPENED UP TO THEM."

Sans sighed in frustration. "paps, do you just give away your 'backstory' to anyone who asks?"

"NO! OF COURSE NOT! WE CAME TO AN AGREEMENT THAT I WOULD TELL THEM MY STORY IF THEY TOLD ME ABOUT THEIR PAST! IT DID FEEL GOOD TO TALK ABOUT IT. I HAVE BEEN HOLDING EVERYTHING IN FOR MANY YEARS AND IT FELT GOOD TO-"

"Papyrus." Sans' glare grew more intense.

Papyrus shuddered at the change in Sans’ tone. The children, especially Frisk, felt frightened, recognizing that voice. It was the voice Sans used whenever they met him at the Judgement Hall. Memories of their more violent timelines came flooding back to them.

"That's enough excuses, Papyrus."

Sans placed one hand over his face with a groan, before continuing, "I knew I should have followed you here. It was stupid of me to think that you could handle that thing alone."

"BUT- BUT I HAVE BEEN HANDLING THE SITUATION VERY WELL," Papyrus attempted to explain, "WE HAVE BEEN TALKING AND "

"After all, you were almost killed when you merged your SOUL with Frisk's. I should have known you couldn't deal with this on your own and I should have been here to keep you safe. This whole idea was bad from the start."

"SANS-"

"And now you've gone and told them everything we’ve been hiding for years, to these people, of all the people you could have told it to. Why didn't I follow you? I could have stopped all of this from "

Something seemed to snap in Papyrus’ mind.

" Listen to me! "

Sans froze, taken aback by the change in his brother's tone. His usual loud, bouncy voice had been replaced by what sounded like sharp, guttural snarls. The children backed away from the brothers, feeling even more frightened.

" Let me explain ." Papyrus had begun to clench his fists and grit his teeth. His expression had become as dark as Sans', and his already empty eye sockets somehow began to look even more hollow, " Listen to me and let me explain!"

Sans blinked in confusion, but the dark, furious expression returned to his face a second later. "Go ahead," he said in a mirthless, mocking voice. "Go on and explain to me why giving all of this information to beings that can control time and alter reality was a good idea.”

"Flowey and Chara are not as dangerous as you believe them to be! I have spoken to them, trying to understand them so that I can help them. I talked about our past in an attempt to make them comfortable to tell me theirs, and to encourage them to open up!"

"Papyrus, you have no idea how dangerous those two are!" Sans began to raise his voice. "You don't know the things they've done to everyone in the Underground! The things they've done to the timeline! They're not good people!"

" I know that, Sans! I know that very well! I still get nightmares and visions of those timelines! I may not be able to remember them as vividly as you do, but I still have some recollection of them! Even then, I still believe that they can be good people! I am not the one who judges them for their past sins!"

"Wait, you knew!? All along?" Sans' blank eye sockets widened before he continued to glare at Papyrus, " Then why did you tell me you forgot? Why did you act like you couldn't remember anything!? Whenever the timeline reset, you acted like nothing happened! Were you intentionally repeating your actions and words to pretend that you forgot the last timeline!?"

" Because I did not want you to worry! " A look of guilt crossed Papyrus' face for a moment, but his expression quickly turned dark again.

" Worry!? " Sans threw his hands up in frustration. " What do you mean ‘worry’? "

 "You kept watching me and following me around during Flowey's timelines! You barely slept because you wanted to "keep me safe"! It was horrible watching you suffer and constantly get killed by Flowey because you were too tired to see him coming! When I finally pretended I forgot everything, you began to relax. After a few timelines, you finally stopped following me and began getting more sleep!"

Flowey, as he heard these words, buried his face into his flower pot in guilt.

"That's your reason!? That's your reason for lying to me!? Papyrus, I was alone! I was alone during all those timelines! Did you ever think about that!? Did you ever think about how lonely it is to be the only one who knows about reality being altered and you can't do anything about it!? I felt like I was losing my mind!"

"I wanted to protect you from being harmed by Flowey and the human!" Papyrus snarled.

"I don't need protection! You do!"

" Me!!? " Papyrus took a step forward, hands shaking with rage. "Is that why you kept that machine in the basement a secret from me!? Is that why you hid Gaster's remaining belongings in the basement as well!? Because you were trying to ‘protect’ me!?

“Wait!”

“You were hoping I forgot about him! You didn't want me to remember those painful memories so you hid those items from me! And then you tried to pretend like you forgot about him, like he never existed!"

“Wait, how did you know about the basement!?”

“Really!? You think I don’t know what’s going on below our own house!? I can see things! I can see things in other rooms without entering them! You know that!”

“I

“You have to stop hiding things, Sans! Stop pretending that everything is okay!”

“It’s not like you’re any better, Papyrus! You keep lying and acting all innocent and sweet because you think it’ll make things better! It doesn’t!”

“Stop hiding things!!!”

“Stop lying!!!”

The children stood a distance away from the brothers, watching in fearful silence. They could already see a blue glint forming in Sans' left eye, as well as an orange gleam in Papyrus' right eye. While the brothers would never intentionally hurt each other, they were almost at their emotional limits. If either one of them lost control of themselves and failed to hold back their magic, the fallout would be disastrous. 

"Stop it! Stop arguing!" Chara finally cried out in desperation.

Sans turned to Frisk, startled by the unfamiliar voice coming from them. 

"I I am the spirit that has been possessing Frisk. My name is Chara. I was the human child adopted by Asgore and Toriel many years ago. It was I who coaxed Papyrus into informing us about his past."

Sans' empty eye sockets narrowed. " You ." There was no change in the tone of his voice. "The one who made Frisk kill monsters for fun. The one who made them reverse the timeline over and over. The one who hurt Papyrus when he merged his SOUL with Frisk's. That was you, wasn't it?"

"N-no. It wasn't just them." Frisk confessed nervously, "I I was involved in all that killing and resetting as well. It was my fault too."

This did not make Sans any less furious.

"The point is," Chara continued quickly, "Papyrus took us here in the attempt to stop me from harming anyone. He tried to show kindness at first, but I was too stubborn. I refused to listen to him. I attempted to eradicate him to escape to the Surface and begin a massacre. Having no choice, he imprisoned Frisk and myself in this room. However, he did not leave us. He still offered us good meals and continued to care for us."

Sans remained tensed, but his expression grew less dark as his listened.

"He even told me about stories from his past; events such as his school days and how he befriended Undyne. But even then, I was still persistent in trying to gain power through killing others. I eventually managed to escape from this house but…"

"...but it was a foolish decision… and and because of me… Papyrus was hurt…"

The guilt of almost causing Papyrus' death swelled and weighed heavily on both Frisk and Chara again. Chara, out of habit, started laughing hysterically, but the guilt grew so unbearable that both children began to cry.

Papyrus, upon seeing them crying, forgot his anger towards Sans and quickly rushed to their side. He knelt down beside them and gave them a warm hug. 

"Frisk, Chara, it’s alright," he said comfortingly, gently petting the child's back. "Please don't blame yourselves for that anymore, please."

The child whimpered, clinging onto the skeleton as they cried. 

"Even after all of that...you still showed us mercy…you still forgave us… I do not understand..." Chara said through their tears as they gazed at Papyrus. The sad, loving look on his face only made them cry harder.

The child attempted to wipe away their tears with their hands, before turning to Sans.

"He was still willing to help us…to help me," Chara continued, "He encouraged me to tell him about my past; where I came from and how I fell Underground, as he believed that he would be able to help me more if he knew more about me. I made a deal with Papyrus that I would tell him my story as long as he told me his. That is why he revealed his past to us."

"Please do not place any blame on him for it, as it was I who encouraged him to tell us about his history. If you must blame someone, then place the blame on me instead."

"I do admit, I did feel some relief and comfort upon revealing my past. I kept it pent up in me for so long, it felt like a weight has been lifted. And, Papyrus has already told you that he felt the same way after he told us about his story. Please, please do not blame him..."

Sans' expression softened as he listened to Chara's explanation. He no longer looked angry and his white eye lights had returned to his eye sockets.

He waited for a child to calm down, allowing them to cry while burying their face in Papyrus' scarf until their sobs began to subside. 

"frisk," he said, his voice returning to its usual lazy drawl, "and chara. that's your name, right?"

The child nodded.

"look here."

The child dried their tears with the back of their sleeve and turned to Sans.

"that look in your eyes; you really are remorseful of everything you've done, aren't you?"

"Yes," both Frisk and Chara said.

"i don't have crystal-clear memories of those timelines you caused with all your resets. but i do remember looking into your eyes to judge you at the judgement hall. sometimes i would see really negative things in you, like when you killed some monsters but showed no regret. you sometimes even looked bored or grinned at me when i judged you."

"ya know, after all that, it's nice to see nothing but positive stuff in your eyes now." Sans smiled as he spoke. And for once, he looked genuinely happy. 

The child smiled weakly back at him through their tears.

"papyrus?" Papyrus looked down when he heard his name, still feeling guilty over breaking his promise to Sans and for the argument.

"you were right. you always said that even the worst people can change, as long as they were willing to try. and we have a good example of that right here with this kid. i'm i'm sorry for doubting you over that."

"and i " Sans turned away, expression full of regret, "i'm sorry for arguing with you. i was too quick to judge you, wasn't i? i was so obsessed with keeping secrets that i didn't ask you the reason why you told the kids about it. i got angry...i said some awful stuff to you… i-”

Before he could finish, he found himself caught up by Papyrus in a big bear hug. 

"Sans…" Papyrus whimpered, clinging tightly to his brother, "I'm sorry…"

The hug took Sans by surprise, but he quickly returned the hug and gently petted Papyrus on the back.

“ shh, papyrus, it’s fine,” he said gently, as he felt tears prick against his eye sockets.

“You are right… I should not have lied to you. I- I thought I was protecting you. All I wanted was to keep you safe and sound, but- but I only made matters worse. I hurt you… I made you feel alone..." Tears began to form below his eye sockets. "It was a foolish decision of mine to pretend like nothing happened. Perhaps we could have worked something out to keep each other safe. If only we talked to each other about it…"

Sans glanced away. "if only we talked…" he said, "i'm sorry for hiding stuff from you and acting like everything was okay. i should have talked to you… i should have tried to discuss things with you and we could have thought of a solution together. i just- i just thought i was protecting you because you couldn't handle it… i didn't even ask if you were okay, i just assumed that you forgot everything."

Papyrus wiped his tears away with a gloved hand and gave Sans a weak smile. "I suppose we were both rather foolish, weren't we?"

"yeah. yeah we were."

"We shall sit down and talk things out if we face any more hardships, right?"

"yeah. glad we can see eye-to-eye on this," Sans said as he looked straight into Papyrus' eye sockets and gave a wink.

Papyrus let out an annoyed yell at Sans' pun, releasing his brother and folding his arms in a huff. Sans simply grinned even wider than he usually did. 

The children let out a sigh of relief, knowing that this meant the brothers had reconciled. The argument was over.

Papyrus unfolded his arms and turned to the children. "SO," he said, his voice returning to normal, "ABOUT THE STORY…"

"Yeah, the story," Flowey said with some hesitation, "Is it okay if you finish it?"

Papyrus gave Sans a nervous glance. 

"you've already told most of it," Sans replied with a shrug, "might as well get it over with. but," his eye sockets turned dark once again, "don't say a single word of this to anyone else, understand?"

"Y- yes," Frisk replied hurriedly, "Papyrus already made us promise not to tell anyone, so we won't."

Sans nodded as his eye lights returned, looking satisfied.

"ALRIGHT." Papyrus settled back onto the floor as the others did the same, "NOW, WHERE WERE WE?..."