There was always a calm, pleasant feeling to whenever he came to this place. Seeing the other versions of himself in this strange pocket of time was just the shift of scenery he needed to escape the repetitive, monotonous abyss that was his own universe. Not to say he didn’t love his home but it was nice to get out every once in awhile. Though, despite the enjoyment of different company and enlightening conversation that his doppelgangers provided here, he still prefered to have their voices drone on in the background instead of actually talking with them.
Star had been his given moniker by the alternates, while true they were all W.D Gaster, an early agreement amongst themselves deemed only the “original” to keep the name while a double was present. Star didn’t mind the name much, if at all. There was a limit to the social interactions that he participated in at home so not hearing his real name was a very common occurrence.
But yes, all and all he enjoyed this strange meeting hall. Seeing so many other sides of himself was a much needed humbling experience for the astronomer.
“Alone again, I see.” A crisp voice spoke from beside him. Gaster, the original Gaster, stood to his left, a barely visible smile on his face as tired eyes stared at the casual meeting of his copies “I would assume one that lives in the expansive realm of space on a lone asteroid would be eager to mingle with others.” Star smiled, tilting his head to look up at Gaster from his seated position.
“It’s more of a highly developed moon I would like to think.” Star had shared many a stories of his universe when he first arrived. His original apparently was fascinated by space, so when he heard that the monsters from Star’s universe had been sent to an off planet “underground” instead of actually underground Star was more than happy to share his knowledge. The two struck up a small conversation, Gaster nodding along as he rolled up his sleeves to his turtleneck and crossing his arms over his surprisingly broad chest.
“Ah, I almost forgot. We have two newcomers today.” Gaster commented suddenly “And they are probably the closest things to carbon copies that we have ever witnessed.” Star gave Gaster an interested look, following his gaze toward the two newest figures among the sea of familiar faces. They were about the same height though just the tiniest bit shorter than the “standard” Gaster. One had a single crack going down his right socket from the backside of his skull, while the other was quite riddled with cracks from each socket.
The one with a single crack had golden orange and sapphire blue eyes, his companion’s were a darker color. Much like maple and violet instead of the orange and blue. He couldn’t tell why but he felt...captivated.
“Have they been given monikers?” Star asked through his enrapture and Gaster chuckled behind him.
“Indeed. The gleeful one is River and the scowling one is Creek.” As he spoke a finger was pointed to each respective one and though Star acknowledged which one Gaster would be referring to as he spoke about each of them but in truth his freckled, purple eyes were trapped on River. If there was one thing that all of the Gaster’s had in common, it was that they were very rarely seen with a full smile on their faces. Smirks or the slightest upturn of their bony lips here and there, yes, but full blown, toothy grins were almost never seen.
And yet River wore probably the largest smile Star had ever seen.
“How odd, he appears almost…”
“Happy?” Gaster finished earning himself a nod from his double. The original explained a bit more of the back story for the two monsters, how their worlds were actually almost entirely identical except Creek’s was far more hostile than River’s. One of the most intriguing facts to Star was the fact that both were ferryman. It wasn’t a luxurious bit of information but the concept was one he just simply was not very familiar with.
Everything about these two variants seemed drastically different when compared to the others. Science and research were not at the forefront of their minds, if it was a driving force at all, as it were with many of the Gasters Star had encountered and when it came down to River he seemed to just...care. About everything. Star couldn’t hear their conversation with the red eyed Gaster but based off their body language it was clear that River was far more responsive to the conversation than Creek. In fact, Creek carried a veil of cynicism to him with menial interest in whatever was going on and River was the exact opposite.
It was such an odd development, yet despite Star knowing it was only a matter of time before it did actually happen, it was extremely refreshing to witness.
“Staring would often be considered rude, though it’s hard to not admire someone new.” a sing-songy voice chimed out “My name is River and what, my friend, will I be calling you?” Star jumped at River’s sudden appearance before him, golden orange and sapphire eyes staring with that strangely large smile while the hood that was once over his head now coiled around his bony neck.
Beside them Gaster chuckled, clearing his throat to bring the space dweller back down to their world.
“Of course, apologies. I am known as Star.” He rose from his seat with his hand extended in greeting. If he didn’t know it was impossible he would think that River’s smile grew at the sound of his name. The ferryman shook his hand with a new found enthusiasm, taking in Star’s appearance for the first time . His eyes fell on the shifting nebulas on the inside of his coat, the stars that glittered in and out of existence adding to his fascination as well.
It took little time for River to begin asking question after question about Star and his home. It was far too common for Star to get agitated with pestering questions and constant flowing words of seemingly no end, but with each question River asked Star felt more intrigued and inclined to continue answering.
“How would one travel if not with a ferry?” he asked with great contemplation “ I thought at first a leap but that seems much too great a feat.” Star chuckled at the question, interested in seeing the happy-go-lucky Gaster’s expression when he answered.
“Actually the adult monsters have been able to jump from our moon to nearby asteroids.” Star watched with a hidden smile keeping his attention forward while he spoke “When we were first banished that was the primary way to retrieve supplies from wreckages and such.” Heterochromatic eyes grew comically large the more the space denizen spoke of his home and its history. The feats the feats they accomplished over the years such as expansion and development. They were ever drifting yet the barrier the human usually used only seemed to be around their own planet, not the monsters.
They never had to return to the humans even if they gathered the souls to break it, and to River that was the best alternative. To never return to those that had done them harm was a prefered form of freedom to the ferryman and though the knowledge did captivate him greatly, the screaming of Creek had forced him out of the immersive conversation just in time to get shoved into Star.
“We’ve been here far too long, River! Did you plan to stay forever?” Growled Creek, his own heterochromatic eyes flaring slightly “We have responsibilities to attend, monster that must be ferried! There are consequences that this world carries!” While Star narrowed his eyes at the rudeness of the alternate, he could not deny the truth is his statement. Unlike many others River and Creek held a present function in their world, not just fluttering into existence whenever they found a weak spot in the veil.
They weren’t just anomalies.
Star sighed, straightening Rive out so he wasn’t forced against him, “While I disagree with how he went about it, Creek is right.” Both Gasters glared at each other, Star looking slightly down at the still barely noticeable shorter Creek. River turned sad eyes on Star. It was clear that he did not want to actually return to his home, that he was far more content just staying with Star and talking as they had been but there were responsibilities. Duties. His job might not seem important to him but it was important to the monsters of his home.
Creek’s eyes flared again and Star couldn’t help but roll his own. Magic couldn’t be manifested here and it seemed the irritated ferryman didn’t know that. The block was mainly for safety since not all of the Gasters, such as the one before him, could control their tempers but it had its negatives as well. Like keeping Star from summoning a demonstration of heavenly bodies to show River.
It was his one true wish, to see the stars as they truly were not as the glimmering rocks within the caves of his home. It was the only question that he repeated while talking with the space dweller and it was the only one that he could not honestly fulfil.
Suddenly River spoke out, “I would wish to visit your home!” Star looked a bit shocked while Creek just scoffed. The cheery ferryman reassured that he would not be in the way that all he simply wished to do was to see the “underground” that Star called home. The enthusiasm earned him a smile and a nod, a deal that the next time they met that River would be taken to his universe.
A large grin and the light dusting over his cheeks were enough for Star to feel that the offer was positively received, the lack of fuss as River crossed through the rift to his home another positive indicator. Once both rifts were gone, Gaster walked over to Star with a hand clamped gently over his shoulder, the same smile from earlier over his face.
“Well, at least one of the newcomers seemed to enjoy himself.” The original commented with an easy going huff.
Star barely responded to the words, his eyes lingering where River just was. Gaster didn’t mind it much, the silence was something they were all very accustom to and this was a good, uplifting silence. There was no doubt of the ideas floating in Star’s head now. He was totally enraptured with this version and to Gaster it was the best development he had seen since the discovery of this strange meeting hall.
Days had passed before Star saw River again. Both had their own duties that needed to be addressed, River’s far more taxing that Stars, but they still kept them away from meeting hall. Even once the space dweller did finally step through and see River, everything around them seemed to just crack.
Gone was the cheery, full-fledged smile of the ferryman instead replaced with a deep frown and half lidded eyes that remained downcast and sullen. There was no trace of the normal shine behind them as when they first met and even their dual colors laid almost faded in his sockets.
“River? Is everything alright?” Star asked as he quickly approached him. He had seen this kind of look before, on himself and others. It was never normally a good thing. River brought his head up, locking with the deep purple eyes before dropping his head again and sighing.
Disappointment was practically surrounding him while he spoke, “I...fear I have wasted your time.” His voice was quiet almost silent compared to their first meeting. “We share much in common but it seems I can not cross the threshold. I am not affected as you and the others are.” It was in that tone; that stale, dead tone, that Star fully connected River as a Gaster. His entire personality had crumbled, a facade he likely played so monsters would not connect him with whatever his past held under lock and key.
Star felt it likely that River actually was a scientist at one point, perhaps even a fighter in the war at one point in time who chose the life of a ferryman with an affinity for rhymes somewhere down the road as a means to escape his demons.
Still, it didn’t change the fact that River was a Gaster, universal travel through the void should be possible if by that fact alone. A rippled tear formed in suspension, a hand raised to River to lead him through to his home only for the portal to discharge and slam closed as soon as the ferryman’s hands touched it. Star couldn’t believe his eyes.
“That...that shouldn’t be possible.” River was right, he couldn’t cross through to different universes. For whatever reason, the void had no hold in him.
“Thank you for your efforts nonetheless.” The ferryman didn’t look back as he turned on his heels and walked away. Star stood dumbfounded for a moment, unsure of how to actually approach the situation. He didn’t know River’s backstory. He had no way of knowing why he wasn’t affected or how to change it.
And he was so heartbroken about not being able to see the stars…
If only Star...could..
A deep sigh echoed from his throat as the realization came embarrassingly late to him. It didn’t matter that River was limited to only this time pocket and his universe, Star was able to traverse all of them. He called out to his counterpart just as he crossed through the rift to his world, forcing Star to take a few longer than usual strides to slip in before the tear shimmered closed.
The ground beneath him was soft and wet, each step he took leaving behind a slight squishing noise. River was a good many steps ahead of him but Star caught up fairly easily and stepped onto his boat before the doppel could push off from the shore. The shift in weight made River spin around quickly, eyes widening at the oddly smoky appearance that Star’s body had taken in his universe. A bony finger was placed over Star’s mouth, the universal sign for silence, and a hood was pushed over his skull to hide the features of his body.
River got no time to question the monster as two more jumped onto the deck. “Sorry, sorry River! We know you were trying to leave!” one panted out lightly with a sneer at the other. He turned to the taller of the two, shouting that he apologize for delaying River and his customer which lead to a simple “my bad” before they sat down. While the shorter didn’t feel the apology was genuine, the placating hand from Star was enough to calm down him down.
Star stared at the two for a moment, he knew every universe had a pair but the sheer role reversal of River’s universe always left him a bit baffled. Still like all other versions they argued about meaningless things until the boat drifted up to their snowy dock and they were able to hop off with a smile and wave to the uncharacteristically silent ferryman.
No matter, the next few words that would be leaving Star’s mouth were sure to bring him back to his natural jubilation. As the boat moved away from the dock and drifted off along the long body of water, Star couldn’t help but smile.
“Are you ready to see the stars?” he asked. River cocked his head in confusion. They had been through this had they not? There was no way for him to see Star’s world, the heavenly bodies locked away from him. But as he voiced his disbelief Star chuckled, leaning down to drag his hand over the surface of the water. He could feel the other’s eyes watching each and every one of his movements intently, truly curious as to see what trick Star was going to pull out of his sleeve.
The outlander focused his magic to the surface of the water as it shifted from its vibrant blue to a deep, abyss like purple. Slowly tiny, twinkling lights began to fill the dark blanket and River could not pull away his eyes. He watched with complete childish amusement as the magic swelled along the side of the boat, a large misshapen skull forming with its jaws set wide. There was a strong pull as the construct charged its magic in the form of a deep purple vortex in the back of its mouth, sucking in water from the river until a simple signal from Star commanded the skull to point its maw upward and release the captured water.
The blanket that was once over the water’s surface was now suspended in the air around them. Stars twinkled into the flowing veil, the faint discoloration of a nebula forming while an array of meteors shot through the scene. Star rose his hand and pulled the shower from the veil, directing them around himself and then River.
“Oh, my...I don’t. This is…” He couldn’t do much more than mutter. A hand rose to touch the nebula before him, stars exploding out as the tip of his phalange connected with the veil and falling all around them. Star could feel the early dread be swept away from the skeleton and he smiled at the bright shimmer in the ferryman’s eyes. The veil expanded out again, more drifting heavenly bodies flowing into view.
“Well, is it everything you eve-!”
The ferryman crashed into Star, teetering the boat due to the sudden shift of weight. Both bodies toppled to the deck surface and the stars around only shined brighter. River’s arms held onto Star’s smokey form tightly, only releasing long enough to touch another star and yet again expand the bodies within the veil.
“This is more than I could ever hope for.” River hummed softly “Thank you, Star. For all of this and so much more.” The hug had taken Star a moment to adjust to but he didn’t hate the action in the slightest. There was no response that was needed, no words could truly encompass the emotions from the duo right now. Instead, Star just leaned back against the end of the boat with the other cuddled against him, watching the river of stars float around them in comforting silence.