“I’m fine.” Frisk didn’t understand why Sans was getting that bent out of shape. A light cough, that was it.

“Home.” It was the only thing he kept saying.

“I’ve been down here plenty of times. I have to be down here for as long as possible,” Frisk told him. “I-”

“Been lucky. Luck’s running out, we need to get home so Toriel can look at you.” He wasn’t backing down. “The Underground is a plague full of the nastiest things around. Catch one and it can kill a human dead. Only reason you’re probably not dead is because you’ve got the energy from your guitar, but it’s not going to last.”

“T is here,” she reminded him.

“He’s got food up the wazoo. He’s at least protected in an environment Toriel tried to keep cleaner,” Sans remarked. “He’s fine. You are not. Surface. Now.”

I don’t want to. Wasted energy. It was Rainier’s life force. They would need more to get back. “One, I only saved one monster.”

“Live to fight another day. We’re going back. That’s that.”


Surface . . .

When Frisk reached the surface again and opened the door, it didn’t take long for her mom to come by. She had already not lived a long distance away, and with Frisk down for longer amounts of time, she knew her mother would be even more worried. “Had to come back.” A little bit of blood leaked out of her mouth. Her mother grabbed her faster than she could comprehend, probably half with magic, and took Frisk like she had the strength of a newborn. “Momma Toriel, I’m okay.”

“Versions of that statement are different,” Sans said just a short bit from behind her.

Frisk felt herself being put into a chair and immediately her mother set to work healing her.

“Bad idea, bad idea, bad idea,” her mother muttered constantly while she was healing Frisk. She could tell she was trying to hold back tears as well.

“I’m okay,” Frisk insisted, but her mother wouldn’t hear of it. “Momma Toriel. Mother. Please, I’m okay.”

“She is now,” Sans agreed. “She’s good, Tori. Probably just a little bit of a plaguey disease. No biggie. Guitar’s good protection.” Her mom didn’t answer him. “Tori?” She was still healing Frisk. “She’s good. The human’s good. You’re causing damage now.”

“She isn’t just any human,” Momma Toriel told him off, a little too harshly. “She’s more than a human. She’s my daughter.” She got up from the healing. “We’re fine. Go see Papyrus, Sans.”

Frisk watched Sans walking backwards to go out the door, like he was rewinding himself. He closed the door.

“It’s all happening.” Her mother fetched some gauze and a bandage. “I healed you a little overboard.”

Frisk knew that. She watched her mother wrap her leg with a wound bandage and some gauze. It happened. It happened when she was a child and got hurt, the emotions of her mother mixed with the healing, pushing too much power into it. She hadn’t done that since Frisk was a child. “Momma Toriel.”

“Rainier holds the cards, he always has. You’ve always had to play everything just right. You have to play in the Underground just right.” Her mother was sinking as she rubbed her eyes. “Frisk. I’m a terrible mother.”

What? “No, you’re not.”

“There’s not a mom alive that would train and teach their child to end up in these situations.” Toriel turned her back to fetch more gauze, which was overkill. “I’m worse than your father.”

This was no time for a blaming game. “I would have done it anyhow,” Frisk reminded her. She stood up. A little wound wasn’t going to stop her. She walked toward her mother. “It had my brother, as well as your kingdom. Even before you had the feelings of my mother? We both knew what we wanted. It was mutual.” Before she considered her mother. While she still called her Toriel. “I was so young, but I was so sure of what I wanted. You aren’t making me do this. You just gave me the guidance to do this.”

“I’m. Torn.” Her mother came to her, stroking her hair tenderly. “I’m halfway. I’m halfway ready to let you keep doing what you have to. And I’m halfway . . .”

Frisk watched flames fall behind her mother’s eyes. A dangerous flame. She can’t. “I need his life force, and you know what you’re thinking is wrong.”

“Right and wrong. Wrong and right.” She gritted her teeth. “Children, Asgore had no business killing. But I don’t think-”

“Don’t,” Frisk warned her, hugging her quickly. “Momma Toriel. No. Don’t sink like that.” She wasn’t worth an entire kingdom. She wasn’t worth T, forever trapped in there. Never. “I have to get my brother out. We can’t give up.” Then there was a knock on the door, and Undyne walked in.

She placed her spear gently on the ground, but standing up in her hand. “Queen Toriel.” She bowed to her. “I heard from Sans he thought you might need some help.”

“I might,” her mother said. “Ooh!” She looked toward Frisk expectantly. “Could we tell him that you would flat outright marry him if he gives us what we need?”

Frisk stared at her mom. “Then when everyone is free, murder him?”

“Normally against my code,” Undyne said as she approached Toriel. “However, I could make an exception. Would you like me to shine up my spear for the occasion?”

“Undyne, you aren’t helping.” Donald Rainier was not being fair. Right now, he was lower than scum. But? “He’s still human.”

“Yeah, but I can hit a pretty far distance,” Undyne insisted. “No problem.”

“Are they light enough for a long enough distance?” Frisk’s mother asked.

“Momma Toriel!” Frisk warned her.

“I know. I know, I know.” Her mother looked toward Undyne. “Killing is wrong. What he is doing is much worse-”

“He’s putting his life force into it, Mother-”

“Then let him be honorable and end it there! Why does he think he deserves you?” She held up her paws. “He is much too old. He is a bore, nothing exciting to you. His plans are terrible. His life dreams are incredibly droll for a monster, and honestly? I don’t like him. You deserve so much better.”

Frisk couldn’t back down. “I might have to get more power now. Sans told him not to put in much.”

“Rest, Frisk,” her mother insisted. “Another day.”

“Another day everyone is scared. Another day my brother hopefully lives without catching anything,” Frisk said softly. “Maybe I should give him my guitar. Just in case. It would ward off anything that might get to him.”

“Your brother does not know the ancient songs. There is nothing for him to do with it,” her mother said.

“I can get my second guitar. Start over. It’s not like I need it anymore,” Frisk reminded her. “I’ll still charge it, and he can have the protection my other one has now. It’s real stable.”

Her mother smiled at her. “You are so caring, Frisk. Okay. If it will let you relax, take it to your brother next time you go down.”

“Which is hopefully now.” Frisk started to head to the door. She heard a small mutter from her mother. Before she headed out the door, she heard something else she wasn’t supposed to hear.

“If Rainier touches my daughter at any time, after it’s all over, kill him.”

“Absolutely, Majesty.”

Frisk closed the door behind her. Rainier is even corrupting my own mother now. Damn him. She headed for the gaming machine again and saw Sans. “Checkup said fine.”

“Really?” Sans looked at her leg with Papyrus. “I like the new look. I hear wound covers are all the rage.”

“Frisk, that’s not good,” Papyrus said, bending down to look at the gauze. “How bad did it all go?”

“Momma Toriel just gets a little wrapped up in healing sometimes,” Frisk said. “She caused that. I’m fine. We can go.”

“Naw. We can’t,” Sans added. “Need a good four months of his life force to keep it going more than a turn, even with Papyrus’ help.”

“And I have really been helping,” Papyrus insisted. “It’s quite tedious, but I know it’s an important duty.”

“We got enough to get back, but not enough to come back,” Sans said, tapping the top of the panel.

Great. Same day favor. “Then. I guess I’ll be back.” She walked off slowly, toward her home to reach her cell.


Sans and Papyrus’ Home . . .

“A game of darts?” Papyrus asked. Sans didn’t hear him at first. He was busy looking out the window. “Sans?”

“What kind of monster chooses to do what he’s doing,” Sans said. “It’s wrong. Way too humaney for my taste. Can’t believe he’s still monster.”

Um? “What are you talking about?” Papyrus asked. “Did someone take your food when you weren’t looking again? Everyone’s hungry, not everything is quite worked out yet. King Asgore is here though? Just not quite as well managing as Queen Toriel had been, but she’s a little distracted with her human daughter.” Yet, everything he just said didn’t seem to pierce his brother’s skull at all. “Sans?” But just like that, his brother was gone.

Bother. Where did he take off to?


Closer to Frisk’s place . . .

 

There he is. Sans didn’t get in the way. He couldn’t do anything in the situation to help. He couldn’t even do anything afterward. Monsters getting out of that torturous place was on the line, as well as her brother. And afterward? Well, Undyne had that covered, or Tori. After the fire he saw in her eyes, it was hard to see how anything would go for sure.

Rainier showed up in a suit. He didn’t do that last time. Sans watched as Frisky’s door opened. She came out in a half dress. It covered her legs, but it had a split. Sequined. It also had a low front, even drawing his attention away from her usual pretty eyes to her front. Damn! She could be a bad ass whipping monsters butts Underground, and still pull off that hot of a dress?

“I’m here to help you,” Rainier said, his gaze sailing down across Frisk’s body before floating back up. “You’re here to help me?”

“Date. Only,” Frisky insisted. “Momma Toriel, I’ll be out.” She closed the door. “My mother is staying with me now. She’s worried about me.” She stopped to glare at him. “She also wants to kill you with her bare hands but she’ll probably leave it to Undyne. Spears are better weapons to pierce from a long distance. Just to let you know.”

“I get closer to my limit every day,” Rainier said. “Do you have any idea how old I am?” He gestured to himself. “Loss of my life force, it has aged me so much on the outside. It shows how much time I have left.” He took Frisk’s hand. “Let’s go. I will have you back within two hours. Then, you can do what needs to be done again.”

They started to walk away.

“Oh, hang on.” Rainier pulled something out of his pocket. “Something I made for you.” He moved behind her. “Stay still.” Frisky stayed still as he put a necklace around her neck. “Custom designed, with rights included. The rights were almost the priciest part of it all.”

Frisky looked down at the necklace. ” . . . it’s nice.”

“It’s more than nice. I know you recognize that.” He took her hand. “You will warm up to me over time. Until then? I think the necklace fits. A princess on a princess.”

Frisky held the charm tightly in her hand. “My mother may have been queen, but I don’t live a princess filled life. And? I certainly don’t need rescued like the peach you roped around my neck.” Sans could tell she wanted to break it off. Whatever it had been. “Let’s get out of here and get this over with.”

“Yes, but remember?” Rainier said from her side.

“I know. Act like I want to be on a date,” Frisky said.

“Yes, and I know you are very good at acting,” Rainier said as he brought her to his car. “We’ll have a good time, as long as you act right.”

Sans watched the car. Twitchy. Ignore it. Don’t ignore it. Ignore it. Don’t ignore it. He couldn’t help. Frisky had it under control. I hardly get involved in things if it’s not super important. I did Tori a favor. I helped Papyrus. That was enough, right? I mean? Yet. He took a step back. The car was starting. Aw, fuck it.

He teleported to the top of the car. The least he could do was make sure Rainier’s idea of a good time turned into a bad time.


Inside the Car, an hour later.

If momma could see me now. Frisk had exactly what she wanted for her, right there. With one word, she could get the wealth and fame her momma always wanted for her. Would she have wanted it still for her, knowing Frisk didn’t want to be there? If Momma Toriel could see me too. Reduced down to a sweet, sexy, and sultry version of a man’s dream. Wearing what he wanted. Including a stupid Mario necklace of Princess Peach. She was no Princess Peach. She didn’t have or need a Mario, she was the one saving a kingdom! Wearing it irked her harder than anything else. It wasn’t a funny joke.

“Driver?” Rainier pushed his car’s intercom. “Are we still not at the restaurant?” The sound sizzled inside of it, slightly hurting his ear. “Ow.” He winced and turned it off. “Should have been there by now. Pardon, Frisk. This was the nicest I have that was durable enough to make it to your property tonight.”

Who cared what the car looked like? “You have one hour left. You wanted two,” Frisk said.

“Right.” Rainier looked out the window. “My driver seems to have taken several wrong turns?” He watched as the car stopped.

Frisk got out and looked around. There was nowhere to eat around there. No movie theatre. Not even a park to walk around. Rainier followed suit, also getting out.

“Okay, this makes no sense.” He moved to the front and knocked on the car door. “Hello? Why are we here? We aren’t supposed to be here?” He knocked again. “Hello?”

Frisk looked around again. It was completely suburban, just regular houses people lived in. Why am I here? Then. She couldn’t believe it. She stared at the road signs. Someone’s been catching up on old cartoons besides Papyrus. Ready for a joke anywhere, aren’t you? “Your driver must be some kind of comedian.”

“Why?” Rainier asked.

Frisk pointed at the sign. “From our position. We took a left on Albuquerque.” That wiley smartass. And just in case she didn’t catch the reference? They were also next to Coyote Road. Pure genius.

Rainier groaned. “Drivers. That joke wasn’t worth his job.” He moved to the other side. “The door is open, Frisk? Did you see anyone leave?”

“Not a single human soul.” Just one comedic monster soul probably. She still couldn’t believe he tagged along, but it had to be him. I guess, he was a little worried about me. Frisk could take care of her self. She proved that multiple times. But. She still felt something strange pull at her. A warmness. Kind of sweet. “Oh, Rainier? There seems to be a local pizza eatery at the end of the street. How about there?”

“Not much choice.” Rainier closed the door as he got out his cell. “We will start walking to it. I need to call for a backup driver to get us out of-”

Frisk looked back and watched Rainier slip. She saw what he slipped on and smiled. “You okay?”

“What in the world did I slip on?” Rainier grabbed his butt, trying to soothe it as he looked at the ground. “A band concert ticket.”

A band named Snake Oil. Sans was good at using resources around him when he’d hardly been on the surface that long. Impressive. She helped him up, trying to look like a dutiful girlfriend for the literally two people walking down the sidewalk. “Here, Honey. Give me your hand? Are you okay? That looks like a terrible boo boo.”

“Um?” Her choice of words had confused him. Of course they did. Sweet talk mimicked that of comforting a pet. Her momma taught her that all those years ago. Men . . . were hurt pets. “I’m fine.”

Of course, she was supposed to dial it back to a five, but she cranked it to a ten. Hey, it had been a long while since momma’s lessons? Who could blame her?

“Okay. We’ll get a bandage on it when we get home, Sweetie.” Frisk turned and started to walk. “Stay near me so you stay safe. I don’t want you to fall again and hurt your itty bitty butt.” Frisk waved at the people that had been walking by. That was probably about the extent she could get away with messing with him. He was prepared for it too.

“Of course I can, Sugar.” Rainier held onto her hand. “I love staying next to you. You know? I remember your mother. She was quite sweet back then when I met her too.”

“I don’t want to talk about that time,” Frisk said. He knew she wouldn’t want to relive that night. “Remember I went up to your waist and was wanting punch next to her? Could you pick a more awkward time to talk about that with me than on a date?”

“I know that was a hard night,” Rainier apologized. “I just mean that part of her charm has stayed with you. Although, she was a little more subtle, your caring just now matched her so well.”

You can’t get on my good side. You met her once. “I need some pizza already.” As they walked, Rainier stroked her hand tenderly, which she just ignored. Then when they reached the sign? “It’s closed.”

“Shoot.” Rainier looked at his watch. “It closed ten minutes ago.” He looked back over toward the car down the end of the block. “Well, this didn’t turn out so well, but it’s okay.” He smiled at Frisk. “We can simply talk, have some champagne, and spend some time in the car for our date while we wait for my backup driver. He isn’t far, he’ll be here in ten minutes.”

“I don’t know if I trust your drivers after that joke,” Frisk told him. “I should stay sober, just in case I need to drive.”

“Nonsense. He was a new driver. He probably got tired of his job.” Rainier took her hand in his again and started to walk back. “I called on my most professional driver. He would never leave us stranded. Come. I know you must like champagne. Your mother did.”

“I am bigger into punch,” Frisk said. Alcohol and Rainier didn’t mix. “Straight punch.”

“I don’t have punch. You’ll like something I have,” Rainier insisted. As they reached the car, Frisk tucked herself back in as he closed her side door, rubbing against her accidentally. “Here.” He reached over to the side of his limousine and lifted the cover off of a small area that looked like it was perfect for the stem glasses of champagne. Only, they weren’t there. “Oh?” He closed it. “Well. That’s a problem.”

Not anymore. “Water is fine with me,” Frisk said. “Dear Don.”

“Well, I still have the water glasses, so we can just use those.” He reached for the two water glasses at the end of the stem placing champagne spots. “Here you go, Frisk.”

“Thanks, Don.” Frisk held her glass. Hopefully since Sans had gotten rid of the champagne glasses he also got rid of.

“There’s nothing here?”

The alcohol too. “That’s a shame, Don. I’m sorry our date isn’t turning out well.” She held her glass. “You have a small amount of water?”

“Yes, yes.” Disgruntled, but he poured them both water. “Next time, I assure this will not happen, Frisk. This isn’t showing you the time I wanted to at all.” He clinked water glasses with her.

“Don’t worry about it, Donny Boy. Everything will be just awesome next time.” Gag. Frisk drank her water. As far as first dates went, this one was going well for her. “Home’s a long distance away. I can’t hang out too long.”

“I know,” he muttered softly. “Frisk.” He set his water down and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “I know you are rebelling against the very idea of being with me because of my age.” He pulled out his phone and pulled up some data from the user page. “This area in the phone, it can’t be tampered with, without risking punishment by law enforcement. So, you know it’s not fake.” He held it out to her. “That’s the reason back then I probably didn’t fall so head over heels with her yet.”

Frisk looked at the dates. She blinked. He was only eight years older than her?

“I was fascinated with her, but I was fascinated with many women. I just found my spot in the world when I met her. At seventeen,” he said. “My appearance truly is just because of my loss of life force. I risked it all for what I wanted. A good life.” He touched Frisk’s chin and held it delicately. “And a good woman that can understand me.”

“I’m no one special,” she said. And it wasn’t the age she found unattractive. It was the manner in which he was trying to get her.

“But you are. Don’t you see? It’s not your mother’s influence, and it’s not that your the princess of the monsters.” He held her chin and stole a light kiss. “It’s that you understand monsters. You’re the only human who ever could. I? I don’t think I could handle being with a real monster. I’ve never grown up around them. And human women? Tell me, Frisk? How would you feel about me adding something extra to my pizza that humans wouldn’t consider food?”

“Momma Toriel likes snails on many things,” Frisk said. “I’m not so into it, but I can stand it if she’s proud of a dish.”

“I like cockroaches, they are crunchy.”

Frisk didn’t answer at first. “Everyone does their own thing. I won’t be eating pizza with you at that moment, but I don’t care. Top your food however you want.”

“You see? That’s why. All my oddities, I don’t have to worry about them with you.” He pulled her into his arms. “You are the only human in the world who could ever say that.”

Frisk just stayed still. “This date is over in half an hour. It takes longer to get home.”

“No problem, I’m sure my driver is back by now.” He let Frisk go. “I’ll, um, give a little extra for the time.” He held the intercom. “Are you ready?”

“Quite, Sir. I will have us to our destination in forty five minutes.”

“Great.” He held Frisk’s hand. “I told you about my age, and you are still so distant. You should think about it before casting judgment upon me though.”

Frisk glanced toward him. What was he talking about?

“You used me. Whether or not you want to admit it, you portrayed feelings toward me just to use me to provide you with a machine,” he said. “If I hadn’t known about the monsters, then how would you have gained more time? There would be no other way but to fake even stronger feelings. The difference between what I am doing, and what you were doing isn’t so different.”

“I was saving a kingdom, and a brother I love so dearly,” Frisk disagreed. “You are forcing a relationship. There is a big discrepancy between those two.”

“Discrepancy or not. You know in the end, it’s still the same thing. I just made it easier to take the path you still would have walked down.”

Bastard.

“I just . . . this is a sorry way to live,” he said softly. “Alone. I don’t want to be alone.” He looked at his hands. “Old or young. Short life or long life. No one wants to be alone. I could give you everything. Even the wedding of a century, if you just . . .”

Frisk looked out the window. “Is the driver going to leave yet?”


Back Home . . .

Frisk got out of the car door and walked to her door. Rainier tagged along behind her. He waited at her front door. Of course. A goodbye kiss. “Great time. Best time drinking water in a limousine. Thanks.” Half sarcastic, half sweet she hoped?

“Best time drinking water in a limousine for me too,” Rainier insisted. “I will see you again soon. Goodnight, Frisk.” He approached Frisk for the last kiss of the evening.

“Hey, it’s Rainandpour!”

But that was cut short as Sans slid between them, shaking his hand again. “Hey, you’re all smart and stuff, right? Come this way.” Sans started to yank him from Frisk’s door. “So, our King Asgore? He’s trying to solve this problem with our water. Ya see most of us are downright fifty percent mud after living down there so we’re having troubles keeping the . . .”

His voice faded away. Thanks. Subtle things, but it was nice. She really didn’t want to have to go through a kiss again. She went inside and closed her door. Her mother was right behind it in her chair. Clearly worried. “I’m home.”

“He’s fifteen minutes late dropping you off,” she noticed. “He shouldn’t get away with that. Next time, I am sending Undyne to watch over you from the shadows.”

“He’ll add in a little more for the time,” Frisk said. “Sans hauled him off to show him some kind of water thing?”

“An excuse. I asked him to do that,” her mother said. She followed Frisk to her room.

“Did you ask him to follow me too?”

“Follow you? No, he did that on his own. He only followed partway, to make sure Rainier didn’t get you even more stressed. Stress affects you in the Underground, Frisk. He wanted to help I suppose.”

“Right.” He did know that, and he did. That was the perfect time to give her a comedic break. “I’ll be ready, bright and early. I need to bring two guitars. One for T, and one I’ll start to take.”

“Play some songs beforehand. It protects you long enough for you to get to me.”

“I know, Momma Toriel.” Frisk looked at her hands.

“Are you okay?” Her mother asked. “Did Rainier do something? You don’t look good, especially at what should have been, as he said, a simple first date.”

“Yeah. It’s just . . .” Frisk sat on her bed. “I manipulated him to get him to use the machine. He’s manipulating me to get a relationship. He . . .”

“It’s not the same thing,” her mother said, sitting on her bed too. “Your actions are noble. His are selfish and greedy.”

“He’s putting his life force into it,” Frisk said. “He’s only eight years older than me. He lives life how he wants to. I don’t . . . I don’t know what to say about it, about me, or about him.”

“I do.” Her mother took both her hands into her gentle paws. “When one of a pair cannot see past what the other does, then that is the end of the relationship. Whether friendly, or not. He crossed that line when he started this blackmail with you. Your intentions are honorable, his are not.”

“Would you still say that if I wasn’t your daughter, mother?” Frisk asked her. “Even if he doesn’t care about the kingdom, he’s giving his very life to be with me. Where would that place him?”

Her mother thought for a moment. “Well, Hon’? Let’s see. First of all, he isn’t putting his life on the line for a woman he loves. He is putting his life on the line to get the woman he loves. Although noble on the outside, the fact it’s not a persuasive way to reach his goal, it it forceful, leaves him in the wrong. A monster does not force another to love them. I would never have approved of such a joining.”

“Oh.” Frisk watched her move from the bed. “Would Asgore have?”

Her mother’s movements were stiff. Asgore wasn’t something she liked to talk about. Even when Frisk brought him back, she refused to see him, and demanded he stay at the very end of the town away from each of them. “Asgore might have seen it a different way,” she admitted. “Still, even he would not have agreed. He is using the basis of saving the Underground as collateral to attain you. That is not justifiable, no matter what else he says.”

Frisk watched her mother leave the room.

“No decent man would entrap anyone like that. Not one,” her mother said before closing the door.


Gaming Machine . . .

“You sure you gotta go?” Sans asked. “Rainandpour, you comin’ back soon again?”

“Not for a little while I think,” Ol’ Rainandpour said to him. “It’s Rainier by the way.”

“Aw, I keep forgetting. Your name sounds Rainy no matter what ya say,” Sans said. “Hey, Papyrus? We really shouldn’t let him go without having him sample some of your pasta.”

“I really need to go.” Rainier got back to his car. “I don’t know how to help with the water problem. I don’t fund any of this. Frisk’s group isn’t mine, we just have similar goals I believe.”

“Darn. Well, okay. See you later, Rainandpour.” Sans waved as the limousine took off. “Bye and good riddance.” He looked back at Papyrus. “Really, no pasta yet?”

“No pasta. Not enough heat to attempt it, or time today either,” Papyrus said. “I need to get some sleep before another big day tomorrow. I am getting better at getting a circadian rhythm on the surface now. You should come get some rest too.”

“Yeah. I will.” Sans headed toward his bed. It was still cold. They were leaving most of the power for monsters who needed to be warmer. Frisk would have to get in touch with her group soon if they were going to keep living comfortably.

“Sans?” Papyrus called to him from his bedroom door. “Where did you go before? You up and left on me.”

“Just. Watching that human,” Sans admitted. “I don’t want him to pull something. Frisk is close.”

“I don’t either, but clearly this human is grown and can take good care of herself,” Papyrus pointed out. “Sans? I got funny jibbery vibies coming from you when you came out with the human. And most of the time with Rainier, I felt a counter attacking sort of vibery thing.”

“She’s cool. He’s a dick.” Summed it up well. “Night, Papyrus.”

“You’re not starting to like the human, are you?”

Uh? “Kay? Maybe you missed it. To me, we met like a few days ago at most. She was this tiny little kiddo, standing yeah high.” He put his hand down to his waist. “Half scared of me too. Only a few days ago.”

“Yes, but you only knew her that way for less than a day,” Papyrus pointed out. “Meanwhile, now, she has grown to be what I consider to be . . . quite cool.”

“Yeah. Guess so.”

“I mean, she can really beat up bad guys. From talking to Queen Toriel, I got the scoop on all of her training. It’s insane! She has had sufficient hero training.”

“Yeah,” Sans admitted. “Watched her flip a dagger around her fingers. Without any kind of hole or anything.”

“She knows the gravity, the balance, the weapons, the study of everything,” Papyrus said. “Not to mention, she has a guitar and you’ve spoke more than once about how good she sounds with it with you. Is there anything she can’t do?”

“Tell a joke,” Sans chuckled. “She can’t tell jokes, she is terrible.”

“Oh, Sans.” Papyrus groaned. “Leave that to be what matters to you most of all. I still think she is a very worthwhile human to befriend. Goodnight, Brother.”

“Yeah. Night.” Sans watched him walk off as he climbed into his own bed. “Can’t tell a joke to save her life.” He lied down on the bed, but heard something faint up ahead. Frisk was on her guitar again. But damn, does her soul shine.


Rainer’s Limousine . . .

Rainier got on the phone. Frisk hadn’t done anything wrong, but he knew someone must have interfered on the date. He didn’t think anyone would interfere in something so trivial already in the pursuit of freedom for the monsters. But? He didn’t want it to happen again. “Jason? It’s Donald Rainier. I have something I’d like to discuss with you.”


The Next Morning . . .

Frisk wanted to go earlier, but her mother warned her not to. She would still be tired, and end up sleeping Underground anyhow if she left. Sans was also tired since he followed her last night. Now, the machine was filled again. Frisk was healthy. She knew where she needed to go, and they were going to be right there when they first came into the ruins.

She readied herself with two guitars. Before she left, she wanted to arm her brother with one.

“Well, I got the backpack, so I guess no worries.” Sans came into the game machine, already ready to go. “Almost done. Get some rest? Not dying anymore?”

In more than one way. “I’m fine,” Frisk insisted. “Thanks, Sans. For taking over the car.”

“Papyrus was watching something Tori had called best episodes of some kind of cartoons. That joke kept reappearing, I couldn’t help myself,” he chuckled. “Almost wanted to leave a picture of a screw and a ball connected to the antennae. Barely resisted.”

“Well. Thanks,” she said again. “Rainier is . . . stressful and strange.”

“Putting it mildly, yeah,” Sans said. “Less stress, better you can handle slaughtering all the innocents were getting today. Yay.”

Not again. Sans and his weird humor. So hard to describe.


Underground . . .

First stop was Frisk’s brother, T. She explained briefly about her guitar and how keeping it would help keep him more protected. Why she hadn’t thought of that before, she didn’t know. Probably too much stress in front of her. Her guitar wasn’t going to completely annihilate the threat, but it lessened it, or at least the effects. She played a song while she was there like her mother asked her to do, to make sure the new one had some Underground magic flowing through it too. While she did that, Sans joined in again.

Did he also know the power he was placing in his trombone with his songs? Or did he only know they helped relieve stress and granted more protection?

After that brief visit, she moved onward. She wouldn’t waste any extra time. Sans took her straight back to the beginning again. She moved toward the lever that didn’t work. “Your turn?”

“You betcha Frisky.” He grabbed the lever and yanked it. “Hm. Nothin’.”

Wait. How could that be? “Why would that monster lie to you?” Frisk asked.

“I don’t think he did.” Sans flipped the lever back down. “Alphys keeps cameras all over the Underground. She’s the one in charge of emergencies. If she saw me being the one helping you before, she might have changed the way it could open. It happened yesterday. Plenty of time.”

“Damn it!” No. Frisk put her hand to the wall. Now what? “How do we get in?”

“Figure out what Alphys did. Knowing her, a combination.” Sans flipped it up, then down quick, then up slower. “Something weird like that. Not real complicated. Usually a four to five combo of an action I bet.”

More time to waste. No, I won’t give up. I have to make this. Frisk moved the lever along with the words she said. “Down slow, up slow, Down slow, up fast.” Nothing. “Down slow, up slow, down fast, up fast.” Nothing. “Down slow, up fast, down fast, up fast.” Nothing. “Down slow . . .”

Three hours later . . .

Frisk tried to keep it up. Down fast, up slow, down fast, down slow, up fast.

“This isn’t working. We need to try something else,” Sans said as he lied on the ground. “This huntin’ for the right combo isn’t working. Alphys took out all the stops. We’re going to have to find a different way to crack this code.”

Not unless it’s down here. “You think the answer is down in her secret lab?” Frisk asked.

“Nah. I think if it’s anywhere, it’s up on the surface again,” Sans said. “Maybe Asgore knows it. He’s not Tori’s favorite, and she isn’t even wanting you near him, but I could ask him.”

No! “I can keep trying. I’m fine.” Frisk continued. “I defeated all the puzzles here before.”

“Those puzzles were supposed to delay humans,” Sans reminded her. “This puzzle is keeping the monsters alive. Alphys isn’t going to make it easy. I thought maybe she thought I flipped my lid. That would mean I wouldn’t try so hard to figure out that combo, but she didn’t take it easy. I bet it’s at least a ten combo of something. There might even be pauses in the middle somewhere to make it more uncommon.”

Not up, I can’t go up. 

“Once we get in, you should be able to really start doing some damage,” Sans said. “But.”

Another date. What would he want for that date? He wasn’t going to be letting a ‘driver’ be a problem, and he wasn’t going to take it so easy on her. Maybe I can reason with him. He’s emotional about being alone. Maybe if I just listen, he’ll stop pushing. Maybe in a perfect world. Or maybe he’ll want her on that next date. Stop, Frisk. This isn’t healthy. Not after one date, and it was barely a date. He’d get his date.

“I swear I’ll figure it out.” Sans voice entered her thoughts. She turned around to see him. “We gotta break that code, and we don’t even know how long it’s counting these actions. We have to go up, and get the answers from Asgore about what he thinks. If he doesn’t know, I will crack the code myself but this testing over and over isn’t cutting it. It’s wasting time. It’s killing Rainier, and it’s bringing you closer to him with each of his last breaths.”

He had a way with words.

“Proper date, it’s what he wants,” Sans said. “Guy doesn’t just want to get with ya, he wants you permanently. He’s a greedy human, but I can see the monster in him too.”

“Really? You read him?”

“Like a book.”

“Is there a way out of this deal with him?”

“Nope, he’s confident he’ll die and he’s taking anything he can of you with him. And since you can’t take possessions when your dead? Well. You get the hint.”

” . . . a proper date.”

“Since I messed up the last one, yeah. Gave you more time,” Sans said. “After that, he’s already down, what? Two years nine months . ..  another six months . . . three years three months and you haven’t saved more than one monster yet.”

“That isn’t too awful bad,” Frisk said trying to make herself feel better.

“Yeah, if you don’t count how much of his life he already didn’t waste with these game creations,” Sans pointed out. “And you know what? I’m not helping am I?” He took a step back. “I’ll shut up now. We need to go to the surface. Get a date. Try and get another six months of his life at least. It might give us two trips with the bit of life force we still have in the machine.” He held his finger up. “A single date.”

After that, things would get harder. “I want to stay down. Permanently after that,” Frisk insisted. “Once we don’t need the surface’s help.”

“If you catch something-”

“Then it’s on me to save the day before I die,” Frisk said. “I don’t want to go out the other way. Not unless I absolutely have to.”

” . . . kay. It’s your life,” Sans said. “What if you die and you didn’t save your brother though? You got another human capable of this, or are you just gonna leave him in here?”

” . . .”

“Yep. Death ain’t always easy. Let’s get back up, get the combo, and we’re done.”


A distance on the other side.

 

Alphys stayed behind her computer, watching. Every time the human or Sans tried a combination, she countered it. It was hard work. They’d been going at it for three hours. She was it though, she was the defense against them herself. Without Papyrus, the sentry Sans had just gone nuts. He was actually helping the human now.

She left nothing to chance, she left everything hooked up on the other side to be sure to observe. She couldn’t hear what they said, but she could see the human and Sans wanted in to finish off the rest of them. It would never happen. Too many were gone now. Including. Undyne. Please give me your strength to help keep them out of here. 

It wasn’t the nicest part of the mountain. There was a reason they chose the other side to build upon and not the other. It was only a backup. It did offer some extra space, but it was just endless normal weather. No snow and no lava. Only the residents of Waterfall would be comfortable there. To everyone else, they would either be too cold or too hot. Yet, there was no choice.

And they would build again. And sooner or later, that human would die out there, some miserable death because there was no food. Even the little food and supplies it had were now gone, taken away. It would starve. For good.

She just had to wait them out. And Sans? I hope the insanity dulled your wits, Sans. He was the only one who could break through, if he figured out what she’d been doing.