It was autumn now in the Overworld (and wasn't it funny that you always called it the Overworld now instead of something like…surface or just Earth. There wasn't just one layer anymore even if the Underworld was barely used) and it was becoming chilly enough to actually warrant wearing the jacket Sans gave you months ago. The monsters's village (now dubbed New-New Home by some of the more nostalgic monsters but officially it was just called Ebbott now in namesake to the mountain) had grown significantly since they had arrived. Their small town –numbering already in the low two-hundreds in terms of population- was growing rapidly. Apparently having magic made it very easy to build houses and having gold as a currency certainly sped things up with the neighboring cities when it came to getting supplies. You really shouldn't have been so surprised at how easily money talked.
There were stone-paved roads throughout Ebbott leading up to the entrance to the Underworld as well as to the main roads. The designs fascinated you because they weren't all square-cut like bricks or concrete roads. Instead they had a natural feel to them like the rocks had always been there but had been smoothed down by time and travel. You liked to run your fingers along the complex geometric shapes.
Ebbott was currently the only monster town nearby but that was because most of the monsters that no longer lived in Ebbott had moved on to other cities. They were in the cities closest to Ebbott, though, because most still worried about how humans would react to them. Media coverage had only started fairly recently and there were no laws in place protecting monsters. On top of that was the innate fear that humans held for monsters. Most of them were fairly scary looking or seemed to come straight out of a horror movie (even though almost all of them were friendly or at least didn't want to hurt anyone) so naturally there was some…panic.
Your cell phone number has already been given out to so many important people. Your head is still spinning from when you had been informed you were to meet with the leader of your country –along with Toriel and Asgore- and talk things out. Being an ambassador was hard work. It was no wonder that everything else had slipped away from your mind.
Sans's jacket really must be magic, you were certain, or perhaps it had some kind of anti-time-memory…magic or something on it. Whenever you wore it, you weren't plagued by nightmares. But whenever you took it off for the night you were almost guaranteed to dream of an alternate timeline. It wore on you. Usually if it bothered you too much Toriel or even Asgore was willing to allow you to crawl into bed with them. You hadn't told them of your nightmares but you could tell they knew. It's possible Sans may have hinted at it to them or, more likely, they understood you had a very trying experience and would need more time to recover from it.
But when you didn't feel like bothering them (you didn't like bothering people in general because you were used to handling things on your own. It was really only through encouragement from all of your friends –and the memories of them helping you during your battle(s) with Asriel- that you began to rely on them more. They never seemed to mind) you could go to Sans. He had slipped you the key to his and Papyrus's house the night after your confession to him.
"come over whenever, okay?" He had said. "door's always open. even when i don't forget to lock it." He'd had a cheeky grin on his face. "it's better than running off at night. there's enough trouble a'foot' without that added to it."
You made a small noise torn between amusement and disgust. You were starting to like his puns more (it helped that you constantly listened to them when living with Toriel. It made the annoying part of them bearable) but that one was particularly terrible. He shrugged unapologetically. "it's late."
You would go into the house at night (and by now your friends have figured out that you would most likely be at Pap and Sans's house if they couldn't find you in your bed so they didn't worry) and look around to see if anyone was awake. If they were you would spend time with them and if not you would go up to Sans's room and knock on the door. One time he had caught you quietly knocking on the door when he hadn't been in it and had let you in anyway. The room was, frankly a mess. Socks strewn about everywhere, a literal trash tornado (that, when you pulled out a scrap piece of paper from your pajama pockets, sucked up the paper into its whirlwind), and a mattress serving as the bed. You had never entered Sans's room back in Snowdin and you were kind of glad you didn't. That room had a longer time to get dirty.
"i wasn't expecting a roommate. so, uh, there's the bed." He made a vague motion to it before he himself tramped around the treadmill in the middle of the room (why was there a treadmill? He hated doing anything) and flopped down onto the mattress. He kicked off his slippers and you walked over to join him. It was comforting to curl up with him and sleep. But if the nightmare was particularly bad it was also nice to instead stay up with him.
There were things you had noticed about Sans that you were certain he would've never shown around you before your confession. For one thing you noticed that Sans actually didn't sleep very much at night. There were times he had left you in his room and had left only to come back sometime late in the morning –usually for breakfast because New Grillby's didn't open until the afternoon- looking tired and sometimes grouchy. It was hard to tell considering he was always smiling but you had come to get used to the subtle looks in his eyes. You also took cues from Papyrus who would always act a little more suffocating around Sans whenever he was particularly tired.
You had questioned Papyrus about it before. "NIGHTMARES? I DON'T THINK THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE." Papyrus said as you two were out shopping together one day. You had long since given up on trying to get him to lower his voice in public and often people would shoot him dirty looks but the locals that were getting used to him and knew him well enough (Papyrus had made it his goal to become friends with as many people as possible) had started to just shrug it off. Everyone had quirks, after all. It just meant you couldn't have a silent conversation with the skeleton. He was always too excited to lower his voice normally. "I THINK SANS IS WORKING ON SOMETHING EVERY NIGHT!"
What did he mean by that? You frowned and tugged on the pocket of his jeans in order to get him to look at you.
"YOU DO NOT KNOW? WELL! SANS IS OBVIOUSLY WORKING ON FINISHING HIS DEGREE!" Papyrus looked proud as he put three jugs of milk (it's good for your bones!) into the cart. You walked next to him hanging onto the cart. There was only one other monster in the building besides the skeleton. Papyrus either didn't notice or didn't care about the amount of people swerving to get out of your cart's way. "IT'S GOOD! WHILE I, OF COURSE, AM FINE WITH BECOMING A ROYAL GUARD-" he was referring to being part of your "bodyguards" when you would need to visit the capital of your country, "-SANS HAS ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A DENTIST! I'M SO PROUD THAT HE'S CONTINUING WITH HIS STUDIES!" He made a loud sniffling noise and he wiped at his watering eyes. You found it strange how the white lights in his eyes would only appear when he was extremely emotional. Monsters were strange. "HE JOINED THE GUARD WITH ME BUT I, BEING THE GREAT BROTHER I AM, HAVE ALWAYS NOTICED THAT HE DOESN'T LIKE IT. HE DOESN'T EVEN DO HIS JOB RIGHT! ALWAYS SLACKING AND SELLING HOT DOGS!" Questionable hot dogs at that. And hot cats. "I STILL DON'T KNOW WHY HE QUIT HIS STUDIES THOUGH." Papyrus said contemplatively, taking a moment to actually think about it. "ONE DAY HE CAME HOME AND NEVER WENT TO SCHOOL AGAIN. HE JUST SAT ON THE COUCH AND STARED AT THE TV. WELL. I WASN'T HAVING THAT! SO HE BECAME A SENTRY WITH ME. AND WE MOVED TO SNOWDIN!"
That was an interesting bit of information. Instead of responding, you reached over to grab some mozzarella to place in the basket. You didn't believe that Sans was working on his degree. Where would he even be getting his degree? You weren't sure that there were any colleges nearby to get a degree at and Toriel was still trying to figure out how to get her own official teaching license so there weren't any schools nearby. (For that matter, were there any schools in the Underworld? You hadn't seen a whole lot of it but you did go to a couple different towns…) On top of all that, you knew from your dreams that Sans didn't tell Papyrus everything. Especially if it meant saving his brother heartache. He hadn't been able to admit to his brother about the deaths of all of their friends and their leaders.
You mentally winced at the thought and got back on topic while idly listening to Papyrus go on about what's happening with all his human friends. It helped that he liked to stop and chat with random people. It was good most people didn't honestly expect you to respond to most of what they say.
Sans didn't seem to ever talk about himself in general. He preferred to talk about his brother and how cool he thought he was. Sans was a clown and nothing hurts clowns, right? But the kindest people tended to be the ones who were the most hurt. You knew that personally.
It was only after you had checked out and paid for all of your food did you decide to bring it up with Papyrus. The two of you needed to walk out of town to catch a bus to Mt. Ebbott but it was a nice day so neither of you minded. "Papryus." You call quietly and he gasps in delight. He always is happy to hear your voice. Perhaps you should try talking more. You shift your bags on your arm and tilt you head back to look at him more. "Did Sans have a job before…the sentry job?" Not very elegant but your point got across.
"YES! WELL. NO. NOT REALLY." Papyrus had to deal with the weight of the three gallons of milk he carried. You worried about the bending of his bones that you could see. He at least didn't have skin to worry about when it came to pressure. "…" You frowned at your friend's silence and stared at him throughout the walk. He seemed to be struggling with his thoughts. Was whatever he knew a secret? You opened your mouth to tell Papyrus that he didn't need to betray his brother's trust when he suddenly burst out, "HE HAS MASTERED PRANKING! HE CAN DO IT ACROSS TIME AND SPACE! IT'S SO AGGRAVATING! HE JUST…HE WOULD SPEND HIS TIME BETWEEN STUDYING TO READ THESE GIANT BOOKS! AND THEN HE FOUND SHORTCUTS EVERYWHERE! AND SOON ENOUGH ALL SORTS OF SHANEGANS BEGAN TO OCCUR!" He raged. He had to stop to stomp his foot as he vented. "FIRST SOCKS EVERYWHERE! AND THEN DOGS! AND HE WOULD MOVE MY ACTION FIGURES! HE EVEN STARTED TO COPY MY WORDS JUST AS I SAID THEM! LIKE HE ALREADY KNEW!" He made a disgusted noise and huffed before the two of you continued your trek. "HIS HOBBIES ARE THE WORST! LIFE WOULD BE MUCH EASIER IF HE TOOK AFTER ME AND MY HOBBIES!"
You tilted your head in a silent question. Action figure collecting? Sparring with Undyne? Training? Playing a xylophone hand-made out of bones? Watching NMTT shows?
"COOKING!" He boasted.
"Pie?" You asked.
"PIE? LIKE WHAT TORIEL MAKES? WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING I SAID, FRISK?" You reminded him of your "date" and how he had said Sans had tried to make a quiche with a "sugary substance". "AH….YES….THE SUGAR QUICHE…" He paused for a moment. "THAT WAS A PIE?! BUT WHY WOULD HE MAKE A PIE? I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT A PIE WAS!" You didn't bother to remind him that Toriel and Sans had recognized each other upon meeting. He had probably forgotten. Unlike you, he probably didn't get nighttime reminders of past events.
It seemed like you had gotten sidetracked from your question. Admittedly it had been answered but it had just left you with more questions. You had already figured out that Sans was clearly some kind of scientist…or at least he was very interested in the study of time. And probably space, if the quantum physics books inside of joke books inside of quantum physics books inside of joke books were anything to go by. Did he possibly work with Alphys on the Amalgamates? …Now that you thought about it, there had been a rather large skull-looking machine in there. Very much like the ones Sans had killed you with.
You decided it was time for a visit to Alphys.
"O-oh, hi Frisk!" Alphys greeted you as you entered her home. It was always strange to walk into the place because it seemed like a lab but it was most definitely a home. A piano, carpeted flooring, and a couch with a television and DVDs (the collection had been very much added to), and a kitchen and cute bathroom on the first floor, but the walls were metal, wires stuck out of random points in it, there was a balcony meant specifically for building machines on, and then there were the bedrooms (two of them because neither woman was ready to progress to bed sharing yet). It was an eclectic mixture of organic and metal. It reminded you of Full Metal Alchemist (which was Undyne's current favourite show. Alphys was…less interested but enthusiastic enough about the storyline).
You followed Alphys up onto her labalcony and sat on a stool nearby but out of her way. Her giant picture of an anime girl still hung over her work table. For a few moments Alphys put together a few parts and screwed something with a screwdriver before her hand started to shake some. Her face started to sweat. Even after living around others again and being friends with you just as long, she still got nervous. It was kind of cute. "Um…" She hesitated and she looked at you before her eyes darted away. "D….did you need….something?"
"Oh….." She waited but you didn't say anything. "W-what….well….er…what is it?" You fidgeted a little bit in your seat and glanced down at the stool. Your fingers idly began to pick at the fraying pleather on it. You flicked a little bit of fluff to the floor. "Is it….bad…?" Alphys asked seeing your nervousness. You nodded slowly. In truth you weren't too sure of this idea. You were determined to find out (you had actually managed to make a SAVE spot right outside of the ladies's home before you knocked) but Alphys already had a difficult enough time talking about her old job so if she had done any kind of experiments with Sans, she may be too reluctant to talk about them.
Alphys watched you for a few moments warily before her nerves started to calm. Apparently your own discomfort was making her feel a bit better. "…Frisk." You looked up at her and she approached you. You were almost as tall as her. You were still the smallest of your friends. "What's wrong?" She asked quietly, worried.
You took a breath. "Did Sans work with you in the past?"
Alphys's eyes widened and she stared at you. She floundered a bit, her mouth opening and closing, before she made a small squeak of a noise and backed away from you quickly. You stiffened in alarm and she turned around to look at the first floor. Her fingers found her mouth and she gnawed on her already-bitten claws. Her eyes darted around the room as if looking for someone. She then flailed her arms and murmured under her breath before she gripped the railing and taking a steadying breath. A change washed over her and you suddenly realized that this was probably the monster that had led the other monsters away from you during your –Chara's- rampage in various lives.
Alphys turned back to you. Her eyes were dark behind her glasses and there was a sorrow to her. "We don't talk about it." She told you. She approached you with burdened steps and grabbed your shoulders before staring you in the eye. "Frisk….why are you asking?"
This reaction scared you. Suddenly your reasoning seemed insignificant. You had just wanted to know more about Sans.
When you didn't respond she dropped her hands and turned back to the machine she was working on. She picked up her tools and then hesitated. Her voice was still serious as she spoke next, but her voice was a little more back to the one you knew best, "Why don't we…..just leave it? It's….it's not…not good to talk about." She refused to look at you.
You took it as your cue to leave.
You climbed down silently and Alphys didn't say good bye. You opened the front door and stepped out onto the cheerful door mat proclaiming "Welcome! Beware of girlfriend." You took a breath and straightened your jacket on your shoulders before lifting your head. From the corner of your eye you spotted someone and you jumped slightly to see Sans leaning casually against the wall. He had a small MTT lunchbox sitting next to him on the ground and he was grinning as he spotted you. His eyes were tense though.
"hey bucko. thought i'd find you here." He greeted. You were starting to wonder how much he actually "thought" you'd find you here and how much he "knew" you would. With his head bent the way it was, his eyes glowed brighter in the shadows. You could see an edging of electric blue in one. Fear raced up your spine. "i have a bone to pick with you."
He turned and started to walk off between two of the houses and into the shadows of the trees. You followed him and after a couple of steps you forced your courage up and you joined him by his side. "you know what's rude, pal? tryin'a dig up someone's secrets." He shot you a look and you flinched and continued to look forward. Your heart was in your throat so you couldn't speak even if you wanted to. A cold sweat had broken out along your neck. You swallowed and tried to maintain your composure and hoped you didn't panic. He may not be exuding killing intent but that particular shade of blue scared you more than anything.
"i don't get it. you weren't this curious before. don't you know that old saying about the cat?" Of course you knew. Sans stepped in front of you and cut you off. His bit of height over you seemed suddenly as towering as Papyrus's and as angry as Asriel's. "look. just because we shared a moment. don't mean you can just stick your nose where it doesn't belong. Got it, bud?" You cowered, hunching into your jacket. The air around you was colder and in the late afternoon sun you were reminded of the hallway of Asgore's castle. You gripped the front of your jacket in an effort to hide your shaking hands. Your mouth was dry. You had seen him angry before –far too many times for your liking- but you hadn't ever expected to see it in this lifetime.
All of those past timelines seemed much more real.
Sans continued to glare you down. The edges of his grin had fallen some in his anger. You couldn't look at him anymore. You wanted to run away. "…..'m s-sorry." You whispered in an effort to placate him. You hadn't expected this when you had become curious. You had only wanted to know how Sans knew so much about timelines. It seemed you had stumbled across something dangerous.
Wasn't that just the story of your life?
It was a tense moment before you saw Sans's torso shift into a more relaxed position. He let out a hiss of air from between his teeth –tightly gritted if the sound of the grinding was anything to go by- before he slumped a bit. You still didn't dare to look at him. "kid." He said. The rock at the base of the tree was a much less menacing opponent. "Frisk." He tried again in a softer tone. You hesitantly looked at him through your bangs. His eyes had returned to normal which helped to significantly calm you. You were still very much cowed, though.
"….hey, what's with that look?" He asked gently. "don't tell me you're scared of me?"
You didn't dare respond.
Sans ran his hand over his face and tilted his head back covering his eyes. His mouth moved as he muttered something to himself and took a deep breath. "….yeah i get it." He told himself. He dropped his hand to his pocket (he was wearing some shorts and a turtleneck today. Shockingly enough his feet had socks on them in his slippers. He really did wear socks, apparently) and he pulled out his handkerchief to wipe at his skull. "come on, buddy." He motioned into the trees. "let's go talk in private. can't say this wasn't comin'."
You were starting to calm down but you still worried over his lack of puns. When he walked off, you followed after him. Between one blink and the next you were standing outside of his and Papyrus's house. There was a door you had never noticed before. Sans reached towards you (you didn't flinch. He seemed relieved by it) and pulled at the keychain you had hooked onto your pants. He unlatched it and flipped through the silly trinkets (gifts given to you by various monsters as thank yous. There were a number of copies. None of them had your name) until he dug out the key right next to his house key. You had never seen it before. With the key he unlocked the door and left the door open for you as he descended down a flight of stairs.
You glanced around you. Nobody seemed to have noticed anything. You looked back down into the darkness Sans had descended. Knowing that you and Sans were finally going to talk filled you with determination. You felt a SAVE form before you trailed after your friend, closing the door behind you. Neither of you spoke as you descended and you couldn't see anything. You trailed your hand along the wall but it was smooth. It smelled musty and cold down here. It reminded you of the Underworld.
"Sans?" You called.
"little futher, bucko." He replied. You fell silent and soon found your feet reaching level ground. You closed your eyes as suddenly light filled the room. It took a long time for your eyes to adjust and when they did you were kind of surprised. The room –or rather lab- you were in was rather small in comparison to other labs you had seen. Against the back wall was some blueprints and some drawers. A couch –it looked much newer than anything in the lab- was against the wall. It seemed well-used. Your eyes, however, were drawn to the hulking form of something under a large sheet. You stared at it for countless minutes before finally acknowledging Sans's presence. He was sitting on top of all of the drawers at the work counter, watching you and your reactions.
"….this is it." He motioned to the room around you both. "what your diggin' has uncovered."
You didn't respond. You knew there was much more to this conversation than what was being said. He tossed your keys towards you and you caught them before attaching them back to your pants. You considered questioning him about where the key to this room had come from and how he knew it was on your chain but there were bigger issues. You looked up at him and waited.
"no questions?" He asked lightly. His eyes were tense but his grin was back. It wasn't a happy one.
You glanced around you before looking back at him.
"you really got to learn to speak up, kid. i can't hear you over the sound of nothing." You still didn't speak. "good point. i hate being serious but honestly? things that i'm about to tell you aren't a joke." He hopped down off of the counter and motioned to the couch. "take a load off." You listened to him and sat on one side of the couch. It was plush and you sank into it an alarming amount. Sans grabbed a nearby stool and put it firmly down a little in front of you before sitting on it. He looked both uncomfortable and edgy. You didn't like him like this. You started to question if getting the answers you wanted were worth it.
Sans took a breath and finally met your eyes again. There was steel in those dark depths. The lights in his eyes were pinpricks compared to what they usually were. It was a sure sign that he was in a no-nonsense attitude. You'd only ever seen it if he had confronted you.
"Pap told me that you were askin' questions." He started. "'s how i found out you were snoopin'. told you about dentist school, yeah?" You nodded hesitantly. You knew that even though he was explaining himself, he was also scolding you. "i'm sure you figured it out already, but i don't actually want to be a dentist. never did. too much work. and you know how much i hate work." He was fiddling with his handkerchief in his hands again but he didn't stop looking you in the eye. "but science? quantum physics? i loved that stuff. it wasn't work if it was fun. couldn't stop reading it. 's when i met Dr. Gaster. know him?"
You didn't….and yet somehow you did. Only vaguely. Thinking of him made your head hurt.
"don't stress about it. most people can't remember 'im. you probably either spotted him or someone mentioned him to you in a past loop. maybe even me." He grinned a bit at you. "but i doubt that." You doubted it as well. It seemed like something you would remember. Or at least, you didn't think Sans would offhandedly mention this guy, whoever he was. "he was the head scientist before Alphys. she was his helper. she showed you the 'True Lab' right? you know the directions the experiments went, then."
You broke eye contact to flick at your zipper. It was warm enough down here that you considered opening it. You glanced back up at him through your bangs.
"nah, i didn't help with the determination experiments. i wasn't interested. At. All." You got the feeling that your question had vaguely offended him. But if he didn't help with those experiments, then what did he do with this Dr. Gaster? "i wasn't officially his apprentice. but. he and i worked together. for fun rather than because the king and queen wanted us to. we studied how time worked." He paused for a moment and then smiled ruefully. "i won't go into details. i don't think you'd understand anyway."
You shrugged. Probably not.
"thought so. the two of us –and sometimes Alphys- found ways to track the movement of time. see, monsters like us? don't have determination. if our soul shatters, we're dust. gone. we can't RESET. or SAVE. we wanted to, though. do you get what i'm sayin', pal?"
"i'm sayin' we wanted to be able to undo death. to time travel. that thing you do? we wanted to do it too." Sans allowed you a moment to absorb that. "so we built that machine you see over there." He motioned to the cloth covered machine. "i can't possibly explain the complexity of what it does to your simple mind. so i won't bother. point is, it failed." He stared over at the box looking a little lost. His voice was melancholy as he continued, "the doc, he….he wanted to test it. couldn't really use anything to test it though. so he used himself." The lights in Sans's eyes went out and he went silent for a while.
You could faintly hear the sounds of life out in the streets in the persistent silence. Nothing in this room made a sound other than your heart and your breathing.
"…you know what happened to him?" Sans asked you quietly. His eyes were still empty. You slowly shook your head. " e."
You stared at Sans with wide eyes. He turned to face you again and closed his eyes squeezing them against one thought momentarily before he opened them. The lights in his eyes were back but there was a wariness around the sockets that made your heart clench in sympathetic pain. You had also seen that face before in a much different scenario. Your hand itched to reach out to comfort him. You fisted your hands instead.
"it wasn't just him. everyone who knew him well was erased too. except the king and queen. i don't know if they remember him. i don't plan on asking. my bro? he knew i was working with Dr. Gaster. i'm lucky he wasn't erased. it's the thing i'm most thankful for….that he only forgot Dr. Gaster rather than disappear. i had to fill in the blanks in his memory with something. the only ones immune to any alterations were me 'n Alphys. we only found out later it was because of a specific something in the lab that we were spared."
He ran his handkerchief over his face and held it there for a moment. He was trembling. How long had he held this information to himself? This secret between him and Alphys? You dug your fingers into your pants and fisted the material there. It was the only thing stopping your nails from cutting into your skin.
"…we tried to get him back. figure out where he went. where all of them went. you know what we found? him. we found him somewhere in between time. that space between moments was where he existed. we couldn't help him." He paused to remove the handkerchief and look back at the machine. "…can you imagine it? being stuck between time. seeing your world but not being part of it? …." His teeth clenched tighter. "can you imagine seeing a world where you didn't exist? and seeing how nothing had changed? all of the work he did…all of his stuff….everything associated with him. gone. he was erased. and nothing was affected…nothing except the two who could remember."
Sans stood up and went over to the machine before ripping the cloth off. He flung it to the floor and the two of you stared at the machine. It was taller than the both of you combined. It took up the whole side of the wall and looked incredibly old compared to the other portions of the room you had seen. The metal on it was dark with age with interspersed parts of new metal. Sans touched it softly.
"…i've been tryin'ta fix it. see, it busted after his test. all of the data he had made on it? disappeared with him. and i didn't memorize it. i tried to reverse-engineer this thing but i can't. need to get it running instead." His bony fingers trailed across a large indent in the metal. There were scorch marks on it too. Now that you really looked at it, it appeared half-destroyed. "….i gave up a lot. tryin' 'n failin'll do that to a monster. kept throwin' in the towel and then pickin' it back up again…." He stuffed his hands into his shorts pockets. "….Pap kept encouraging me." Sans said as he tore his eyes away from his memories and looked at you. "no, not actually in this. but his words…his every day actions….his optimism….it motivated me, y'know?" His grin looked a little more honest this time. "he's so cool, amirite?"
"yeah." He looked back at the machine one final time before he leaned over to grab the sheet and threw it back onto the machine. He took his time adjusting it to sit right and cover everything. You unzipped your jacket. When he finished he joined you on the couch. "it was during this time of trial and error that the prince and his sibling died. the first human."
You stiffened. Sans eyed you. You shook your head and motioned for him to continue. You would get your turn. "you know the story of what happened next? the anger, the want of revenge, the knock knock jokes, etc.?" You nodded. "i figured. you've probably cycled through enough to get the full story." You were certain you were the only one who actually had the full story. "i won't bother then. you know this part: this is where you came in." You sat up a little more and turned on the couch to tuck your knees up to your chest and lean against the arm of the couch. Between the large jacket and the plush couch you felt you were being swallowed. From the amused curve of Sans's eyes, you probably looked it too. You were relieved to see him lightening up some.
"well during that time i was still researching. keeping track of time in between meetings with you. but see….i didn't think to look for a while. and by the time i did? the timeline was all messed up. it had jumped forwards, backwards, stopped, and started. until suddenly everything ended. rattled me to the bone because i hadn't noticed. how could i, after all? so i started working on something. can't tell you when i started. i came down here one day to this." He leaned down and picked up the NMTT lunchbox he'd had outside of Alphys's house. You hadn't seen him bring it with him. "notice something strange about it?" He handed it to you.
It felt like a normal metal lunchbox. You tapped on it and fiddled with the handle. You moved it around searching for any anomalies. You found none. The only thing to do would be to open it and see what was inside. You glanced once at Sans for permission before you flipped the latch and pulled the lid back. You weren't sure what you were expecting, but it hadn't been the torn pieces of notebook paper.
You reached inside and pulled out a couple sheets. They were covered with strange gliphs. Some of which looked like hands and others that just looked like diamonds. Other symbols you didn't have names for. You placed them aside and dug through the sheets of paper. Other than the paper you discovered a photograph and –you froze- what looked to be a torn piece of Papyrus's scarf from his costume. You swallowed at the sight of it. You could smell the dust on it and it chilled you. You hastily redirected your attention to the photograph. You were puzzled by it and you showed it to Sans in question.
"you're right…that is the same photo in my room. why's it down here?" He asked. You shrugged. "because it's not the same one that's in my room. this," he took the photo from your hand and turned it around to show you, "is proof that we got out. in a different timeline. and it's also proof that you destroyed that." You stared at the photograph as a cold sweat broke out on your neck. "any guess as to why you'd do something like that, buddy?" Sans asked lightly.
You wracked your brain for an answer. You had dreamt of so many of your RESETS and SAVES so surely a reason must be in there? Usually, though, you dreamt of the actual adventure through the Underworld rather than what happened after you had gotten back out. Your memory was strangely blank of everything that happened during that time. Perhaps it had blended together too much with your memories of this time?
You couldn't answer him. You gave a small helpless shrug and shook your head.
"…" He searched you for a moment before he put everything back in the lunchbox and closed it. "that's a shame. i was hoping you'd have an answer. see, kiddo, this box is immune to time. everything in it? stays in it. i have a drawer in here like it. made them of the same stuff that saved me 'n Alphys from being erased. these notes? notes i started saving for myself when i noticed the time problem. helped me learn where all the shortcuts are and when a certain human child decided to take it upon themselves to successfully ruin monsters's lives everywhere with their decisions." You flinched. "….or save them." He amended, watching you. "but….but. there's nothing in here from after we got out. doesn't seem like me not to do that. maybe i had the crazy idea that things would be fine. i grew out of it after a while. see, i tried to fight back against all this rewinding and such. i tried to tell everyone about how a human would come through and possibly kill them. sometimes they believed me. sometimes they didn't. but see, when you RESET everything it didn't matter. all the progress you made? the progress we all made? gone."
Sans placed the lunchbox back on the ground and nudged it with his slippered foot. It scraped painfully loud against the tiled flooring. "so eventually i just decided to go with the flow. i stopped fighting it. wasn't worth it when i was the only one who remembered…or at least, remembered more than the others. can you understand how that feels?" There was pain in eyes again. You already knew his next words, "knowing that one day, without any warning…it's all going to be reset?"
"i gave up trying to go back a long time ago."
"just give up. i did."
Your eyes were stinging.
"…that look on your face. i've given you that spiel before…haven't i?" You sniffed once and nodded. The lights faded from his eyes again. You hesitated before you reached out towards him. He didn't move. You paused just a moment before your fingers touched his cheekbone and then continued forward to cup it. The lights flashed back on in surprise and he stared at you.
"I promised." You said softly. Your thumb tapped his cheekbone to remind him. The knowledge of everything you have learned thus far made your hands tremble. You were certain he could feel it.
Sans closed his eyes and sighed before ever-so-slightly leaning into your palm. He seemed to be reveling in the warmth of your sweaty palms. "…yeah. i know, kid. i remember, which means you've kept your promise so far."
"I don't…" You swallowed against your dry mouth and tried again, "I think…I think I know why I may have RESET….even after getting out with….with everyone."
He opened his eyes and straightened. "yeah?"
You nodded slowly. You supposed that now it was your turn to explain. You were reluctant to, but you couldn't bear this burden alone anymore. You needed to talk to someone about it. So you started from the beginning and told him everything you remembered. You told him about the variances in the timelines that you knew of.
You told him about Toriel and how kind to you she always was. About the room she had given you and the caring phone calls she had made to you when she went shopping. How if you died in the Ruins before she got back, she would somehow remember if you preferred cinnamon or butterscotch (and how she would mix the two anyway). You confided the look of pure horror on her face when, while you were fighting her to prove your strength, she would kill you. And the betrayal and sorrow on her face if you struck her down when she decided to SPARE you. The cruelty of it and of the warnings she gave you on other occasions. The small proud smile that was burned into your mind that you felt like you didn't deserve even now.
Your voice started to choke up some.
How no matter what timeline it was Papyrus always believed you could be good. How in some of those timelines you had failed him. You told him about the times where you had killed everyone except for the two skeleton brothers and the phone call Papyrus made to you after you had gotten out.
The terrifying image of Undyne the Undying appeared in your mind and you explained how she came about. You recalled all the times you killed Undyne and the times you hadn't. How the Underworld had been changed with her still alive and what your friends had told you over the phone.
You always received a phone call, you explained, if you made it out of the Underworld.
You told him about how Alphys would act if you killed Mettaton. How depressed she really was and confided in him that when she had given you passage into the True Lab there had been a chance she would kill herself. And you also told him how sometimes….sometimes she did. You were glad that she was still alive today.
Tears clogged your voice and began to soak your cheeks. You hastily wiped them away and continued, but they were persistent.
You could quote back to him every variance of his speeches to you in Asgore's hallway. You began to describe to him the look of sorrow and anger on his own face if you had killed Papyrus. And especially when you had killed everyone. You had to stop temporarily to cover your face and sob. Your throat was raw but you had to keep going. The echo of every one of your friends's last words rang in your ears but Sans's last words calling out for his brother and how casual he sounded in the end ripped your heart to shreds.
When you had gathered yourself up again, you explained to Sans your fear of him. The fear that persisted even after everything you've been through with him. You would say something along the lines of "You'd be surprised how much being killed by someone would make you terrified of them" but knew it was tasteless.
"i get it." Sans told you and you knew that he really did get it. You didn't need to explain yourself further.
You moved on to Asgore and how many times he had killed you. How you were certain that Asgore did retain some level of knowledge of alternate timelines and SAVES. Or at least, was aware of the possibility of them. He had never seemed surprised when you told him he had killed you many times before; only sorrowful. How he never really wanted to fight you. You told him about the times you had killed the king in one stroke and how he didn't even realize you were human.
You stopped and took a deep breath. Sans didn't say anything while he waited for you to continue. Your body was shaking and you wished that he would hug you and comfort you but you weren't sure it would be appropriate. Why would Sans want to hug someone as terrible as you? You curled up more.
"Sans…." Your voice was hoarse from talking for so long. You wished that you had a cup of water. "Sans….do you know who Chara is?"
Sans looked like he had the answer, but the paused to reconsider his thoughts. "….they were Toriel and Asgore's kid. The human."
You nodded. "The fallen child." Your voice wasn't much more than a whisper but in the thick silence of the laboratory he could easily hear you.
"what about them?"
So you confessed the truth of Chara. How evil of a child they really were. About their relationship with Asriel. You told him about your fight with Asriel and how you had tried to SAVE him after you had SAVED the others. You told him the truth that Asriel had told you. And about the creation of Flowey…Flowey who was still trapped down in the Underworld. Flowey who had in past lives your powers to RESET and to SAVE. You cried as you admitted that no matter how many times you RESET you could never SAVE Asriel.
That was the only reason you could think of as to why you would RESET the timeline after freeing everyone.
You began to weep.
"Frisk…" Sans whispered and you felt his hands touch your arms to begin to draw you in. You went willingly and allowed him to pull up into his lap. You cherished the touch and buried your face into his shirt. He ran his hand up and down your spine comfortingly. "…it's…it's not your fault about Asriel. …he had died long before you had fallen into Underworld. you can't SAVE him. he doesn't have a soul anymore."
"I know." You hiccupped. "I know but…but I…." But you were friends with him. And he was so lonely.
"yeah." Sans pat your head soothingly.
"F-Flowey…" you began again. You had to finish this final piece of information. "Flowey summoned Chara….their soul….i-in me."
Sans froze. "….what?"
You explained Chara. You, as Frisk, never wanted to hurt anyone. You don't like hurting people. The thought always made you cringe. If there was a peaceful solution, you wanted to take it. Even if you died many times in the process of figuring it out. But Chara was different. Chara hated humans…but they also hated monsters. You didn't know why. You just knew that they did. They loved the feeling of overpowering someone. LV and EXP were like candy to them.
It was all a game to them.
And when you had met Flowey, he had said Chara's name and somehow their soul persisted. It clung to you and filled you. You weren't sure how to explain it other than them being a "voice in your head". The voice had prayed on your fears of the monsters. Convinced you that they were lying and that you needed to defend yourself. And when they actually attacked you, you knew the voice whispering to you was real. And so you defended yourself. But the more EXP you gained and every LV you went up, Chara's voice became stronger. Killing disturbed you less. Chara was curious as to what would happen if they slaughtered all of the monsters. The boundary between "you" and "them" blurred and you were suddenly curious too.
After all it was just a game.
And by the time you had reached Sans, you no longer felt in control.
You confessed how much that scared you. You never realized how much control Chara had over your body and actions until after the wake up calls with Sans and realizing the horrors you had committed. But Chara never cared and you were no longer strong enough to stop them. Asgore and Flowey hadn't stood a chance.
You still had the power to RESET. With what little power you had left, you had always RESET before Chara could snuff you out. But the temptation –Chara- was always there. Always whispering in the back of your mind. And you confessed that you succumbed to it far too many times because when you RESET you usually forgot most of your previous timelines.
You finally finished.
Sans still held onto you but his body was stiff and you were uncomfortable. You had a feeling you wouldn't be able to speak again if you wanted to. Your story had worn you out and left you thirsty.
"…that, uh….that was…" Sans swallowed, "a pretty dark tale, buddy."
You hid your face in his shoulder and gripped his shirt in apology.
"is Chara….does Chara still…?"
You shook your head. Chara hadn't spoken in your head since you had faced Asriel. The temptation to fight was nonexistent by then. You had only fought because of necessity and not because you wanted to kill. Chara and their lust for LV was nothing in comparison to the love your friends had given you.
Sans wrapped his arms around you and finally hugged you tightly. You did the same and relief filled you. The burden on your shoulders had lifted. Sans –the one person in the entirety of the world who had every right to hate you- had accepted you with all of your faults. All of your baggage. You would sob with relief if you weren't already so emotionally fatigued.
"do you still want to RESET and try to save Asriel?"
"I won't." You rasped. You really needed a drink.
The two of you stayed like that with all of the words burnt out of you. You had never expected to hear that punny Sans would have such a dark history. Or the extent of his negative feelings towards you. You didn't think that he would ever fully forgive you. And though it hurt, you accepted it. You couldn't forgive yourself for all of the times you had succumbed to the whispers plaguing your heart and distorting your mind. After all in those timelines you couldn't see how sweet everyone truly was. Or if you did, you hadn't cared. Because in those cases, curiosity had killed all the other cats around you.
You hadn't realized you had started to doze until your stomach growled loudly and startled you awake with a jerk. Your start woke Sans as well from where he had been apparently snoozing on you. You looked around in confusion as you began to hear a buzzing noise. Groggily Sans's hand crept into his pocket and brought out his phone. He squinted at it for a few moments before dropping his arm like it was heavy.
You rubbed your face. It felt puffy and hot –not doubt from crying- and you wanted nothing more than a shower. Or actually judging by the fact your insides were eating themselves it would be a good idea to eat first.
"come on, Frisk. Toriel just texted me. said you weren't answering your phone." Sans sat up and you slipped off of his lap and stood up. Your legs were a little numb but Sans caught your arm when they buckled. "careful now; can't have you falling for me." He winked at you.
You were relieved things were back to normal and smiled exhaustedly.
"let's head to New Grillbz's. your treat." You looked at him. "just kidding."