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Awake

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Asriel opened his eyes.

There was nothing. He could feel his paws touching the ground, and his ears brushing the tops of his shoulders; and, beneath him… flowers? Was he in the garden? He couldn’t be sure. Black was all that he saw.
He shivered, a chill running up his spine as memories swept through him. Just moments ago- minutes? Hours? It hadn’t been dark before- He had died. He was sure that he had died; but what about-

“Chara!”
“Chara, are you there? Are you okay? Where are you!?”
He desperately felt around in the darkness.

“Mommy! Daddy! Is anybody there!?”

“Someone… Someone help me!”

A breeze gently swept over his fur, cold silence worming it’s way into his soul.
He forced himself to stand, legs shaking, carefully extending his hands into nothingness. The cold metal of the throne greeted his paw pads. Slowly, he followed the direction in which the throne faced, his feet finding the ground more familiar with every step.

He made his way through the Last Corridor, and as he left, relief swept through him at the sight of light!
Dotted all over New Home were illuminated windows! It wasn’t much, but it was good; signs of people- signs of life. It didn’t make him as happy as he thought it would, but that was ok- at least he knew where he was.

He ran, mind spinning with question after question in his tiny little head, lights blurring in the corners of his vision. Through the basement of his house, and up the stairs, he went, stopping at the top of the staircase.
He inhaled… it smelled familiar, like Dad, but… different, a little; like moldy flowers and burnt pies. He reached over and turned on the lights, making a beeline for his bedroom door, raising his paw to knock, and slowly… deciding not to. Dread gnawed away at soul, anticipation spreading throughout him as he stood at his father’s door.

Asriel knocked.
Nothing.
He knocked louder.
Nothing.
He opened the door.

Asriel could barely make out the silhouette of his father sitting up in bed, facing him.
He approached the side of the bed, nudging Asgore’s shoulder.
“Dad?”
The king cleared his throat, his voice raspy from sleep. “What’s wrong, Asriel? Did you have a bad dream?”

“Um, no…” Asriel turned the desk lamp on. “Where’s Chara?”
“I couldn’t, uh… find them; Or Mom.”

As Asgore’s face was illuminated, his eyes went wide, expression quickly cycling through shock, confusion, panic, and arriving at tearful relief. “My son… it’s you. It’s really you...” He pulled Asriel into a tight hug, releasing in mere moments, perhaps realizing it was too tight.
“How… how in heaven’s name did you come back? What happened? Please… tell me everything.” He was trying his best to hold a reassuring smile while wiping his own tears.

Asriel’s expression fell as he remembered the searing pain he had been in moments ago. Uncomfortable, Asriel sat on the floor, legs crossed, so he could face his Dad.

“Well…” He looked down, images of Chara’s limp body flashing in his mind. He swore he could still feel their cold hands, and hear their desperate, pleading voice echoing through him. Swallowing back tears hard, he continued, recounting the entire tale from Chara’s death as best as he could.

“Then I woke up in the garden. And… that’s it.”

Asgore lifted Asriel up from the floor, into a crushing hug. He gasped for breath through his own sobs, shaking as if he was freezing, and holding his son like this was too wonderful to be real, and in a moment, he would wake up.
“Asriel… I love you. I love you so much. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so… so very sorry.”
“If me and your mother… if we’d been more careful, this never would have happened! No one should ever have to see the things that you’ve seen, much less… someone who is so very small.”
“It’s okay. Everything will be better now, my son…”

Asriel felt his father’s tears soaking through the shoulders of his sweater.

“You will never have to see something so horrible… never again. I will do anything… to see you happy again, to see you smile, to see you have hope. It will be hard, but… I believe in you, Asriel. I have dreamed day after day of holding you in my arms again… and my hope has come true.”

Asriel felt something strange in his chest, at his father’s words; he expected overwhelming warmth, relief, and a feeling of safety in his father’s arms. To feel whole, like he could rely on him for anything a child could ever ask for. He expected to be crying, himself… but instead.
He felt… nothing.
“What do you mean, day after day? I was holding Chara a few hours ago,” Was all he thought to say.
“Haha… ha.” The King chuckled, struggling to steady his voice. “You and Chara have been gone for… a long time. It was many years ago that you... passed on, in the garden. Much has happened...”

“How long?”

“Well… I guess now it must be…”
“a hundred years? Ninety?”

“Oh,” Asriel paused. He and Chara had been dead for ninety years? He remembered once, Chara telling him that humans barely lived eighty years… that sounded like a very long time.
Asriel nestled into his father’s arms.


Asriel sat in his chair, an enormous fluffy blanket wrapped around him, nervously eyeing Chara’s abandoned seat as Asgore made tea in the kitchen.
None of this felt right; It was off-putting. Chara died because they wanted him to break the barrier- he had failed, so… why was he back? Why did he get a second chance, and they didn’t? They certainly deserved it more than him, they had suffered for days for all of monsterkind, and here he was sitting at a dining table.
Was it a coincidence? An accident? Or… was it punishment?

Asgore sat in his comically-large chair, gently setting down a large mug of tea in front of his son, and taking a sip from his own.

The King’s gaze was gentle and warm.
Asriel struggled to meet it.

“D-Dad?”

“Yes?”

“When I came back without any SOULs… when I… didn’t do what Chara planned,” doubt filled his eyes as he looked to his father, “were you disappointed in me? Should I have-”

No,” Asgore was mortified, “of course not! Asriel… you’re eleven, I would never ask you to do something like that!” He looked heartbroken at the mere concept. “To take so many lives… is not an easy thing to do. That kind of responsibility… is an adult’s burden.”
He gave what Asriel guessed was supposed to be a reassuring smile, but it came out looking broken instead.

“I… don’t know how you’ve come back to us, but… I wouldn’t have it any other way. Things are not as perfect as they used to be, but… that’s alright. You are here, and you are alive, my son… that’s something to be thankful for.”

“Okay.” Asriel didn’t feel too sure, but he made himself smile anyway. It was kind of nice to be with Dad, and big gulps of warm tea always made him feel better.
There was only one more thing that bothered him.

“Where’s Mom?”

Asgore went still mid-sip, then decided to keep drinking.

“Why didn’t you wake her up or call her? Is she ok?”

Asgore set his mug down a bit roughly, and refused to meet his son’s gaze. “I- I’m sure she’s doing just fine…”

Asriel frowned, huffing in annoyance. “Just tell me the truth! It can’t be that bad.”

“She left.”

“What?”

“She… doesn’t live here anymore.”

“Why?”

“I…” he took a lengthy swig of tea, “it’s complicated,” he sighed.

That didn’t strike Asriel as very truthful at all, but he couldn’t press the issue, not after hearing that hopeless waver in his father’s voice, like the mere thought of Toriel had him choking down emotion.

They finished their tea in a tired, comfortable silence and went to bed. Asgore asked if Asriel wanted to sleep next to him, and he agreed without hesitation; he didn’t want to look at Chara’s empty bed.

He dreamt of gunshots and screams and the sound of Chara’s bloody coughs. It took one of Dad’s bear hugs to ground him back in reality.


Over the months that Asriel lived with his father, he became increasingly uneasy.

It was easy… at first.
They baked together and failed miserably, nearly setting fire to the kitchen and getting blisters on their paw pads.
They cleaned the entire house, but couldn’t work up the nerve to touch Mom or Chara’s rooms; not yet.
He was introduced to Asgore’s third adopted child- a teen named Undyne, meaning he technically had an older sister! She was fun, but a little exhausting, and stayed over at the house a few times.
One day, a monster discovered Asriel gardening in the throne room, and thus, Asgore was forced to announce that the prince had “mysteriously returned”. It was a sign, they said, that great change would soon be upon the Monster Kingdom; and that the Last Human would soon fall.

It was then that Asriel discovered, through the excited monsters, his Father’s Secret. The “complication” in his marriage, and the real reason that every monster adored him so. Seven coffins left in the dusty basement including Chara, atmosphere unnervingly still. All of them had been children when they were killed. How young could the youngest one have been? Five? Four?
The loving, gentle king inspired war cries throughout the crowd; chants of Determination, and demands for blood and death, for the sake of the Freedom that they all deserved.
He wasn’t sure if he could ever see his father the same way again.

Asriel found himself trying to justify it. For days, he did mental gymnastics trying to understand how his father could ever bring himself to do something like that, to kill humans that were so innocent and small and defenseless. How his sweet, cowardly father that couldn’t even handle squishing bugs could ever have been so angry and warmongering. Any of those kids could have been just like Chara- another child to love and protect and to display as a symbol of hope and harmony.

He couldn’t stop thinking about how those children had died; How lonely and scared they must have felt, just like when the humans had attacked him.
He expected it to make him cry. To make him mourn for the amazing people those children could have been.
But instead it left him with a hollow feeling in his chest. A sense that none of this was real, that it was just one long dream and soon enough he’d wake up and everyone would be alright and when people held him and loved him he would feel warm again.
A sense that he was supposed to be doing something else.


Undyne had invited him to her house today. According to Asgore she was “very independent”, which explained why she had her own house when she was barely even a teenager.
Her house was strange and colorful, just like her personality, he observed as she made tea uncharacteristically calmly.

“CATCH!”

Asriel caught the teacup in his paws, several drops of boiling hot tea splashing up on his nose.

“Whoahh!!!! I had no idea you were so talented!!”

He rubbed the stinging hot tea off his nose with his sleeve, giggling. “The Royal Family is trained in the art of reflexes!”

“Then why didn’t Asgore teach me!?!?”

“Alas…. Tis a sacred art, passed only from father to son…” He drawled sarcastically.

Undyne guffawed as she sat, half-placing half-dropping her own teacup on the table. “That’s totally not fair, dude.”
“Don’t let your tea get cold!!”

He took a sip. It burned his mouth and somehow still tasted bitter after three spoonfuls of sugar. There were no redeeming qualities to this tea, but he kept drinking anyway to make Undyne happy. She seemed satisfied with his forced smile.

“So…” Undyne went a bit tense. “I don’t wanna get sappy or anything, but…” She drummed on the table.
“I’m kinda worried about you.”

Asriel scrunched up his face in confusion.

“I know we only met a few months ago, but you’re killing me dude!!! I’ve seen you up at five AM! Asgore tells me you used to talk his ear off back in the day and now you act like he’s barely there!! What’s going on!?”

Asriel’s face scrunched harder, now in annoyance. He opened his mouth to speak, but Undyne continued.

“Look, it’s fine if it’s just between you and Asgore. Really! It is!! But you’re like my little brother, right? If there’s something I can do to help, tell me! If you ever need to talk about something… I’m here, y’know?”

Asriel thought of the pictures Asgore showed him that Undyne had drawn when she was little, of herself, older and stronger, killing humans with an oversized Royal Guard’s sword. He thought of the training dummy in her front yard, and how she insisted on seeing how good his fire magic was. He thought of the bloodthirsty chants in front of the castle, echoing so loudly through his head he could have drowned in it.

“I’m fine. I’m just… still getting used to how different everything is, I guess. I’ll get used to it.”

“If you say so,” Undyne shrugged, pulling out some human games she found in the Garbage Dump.

They played card games and board games with Vigor™ over snacks, and then he went home.
He went straight to bed- his own bed, as he had been soon after finding the basement. It was so dusty in here, and still hard to get used to Chara’s absence. Whether they were coughing blood through the night or staying up telling him weird stories they had always been there, one way or another, for years.
Laying in bed in complete darkness, alone, gave him time to think.

The longer that he spent here, the more that he felt out of place. Even when he had first woken up he felt off, but by now it was completely unbearable. Nobody here would understand how much that he missed Chara, not really; and even if they did, he wasn’t sure if he wanted Asgore’s sympathy at all, if he would have hunted down and killed Chara himself under the right circumstances. Undyne was even worse. He wasn’t close enough with anyone else to talk about something so personal… but…

What about Mom?

Chapter Text

Asriel got out of bed, searching his closet as quietly as he could. His and Chara’s favorite costumes were still in here… he grabbed the hooded, black cloak that Chara loved to use when they were being spooky, and he tossed it on his bed with one hand, closing the closet with the other.

He opened the door to the hallway carefully, looking both ways before making his way to the kitchen, grabbing some old crayons and blank paper from the drawers.

I’m sorry.
There are things I need to do. I will be fine, so don’t come looking for me please. Maybe I’ll visit sometime. Say hi to Undyne and Gerson for me too.
See you later.
Love, Asriel

Good enough. He put the note next to the sink where he knew Dad would see it, and spent a minute finishing half a sandwich from the fridge. He crept back to his room, put the cloak on, and made his bed before he set off.


I don’t belong here. Not anymore. Not right now. He thought, on the elevator ride down to the CORE. Dad will be fine, he has people that care about him.

He made his way through the CORE, and down to the hotel, filled with tired monsters about to visit their friends and relatives in New Home. He stopped in front of the fountain, pulling his hood down further over his face.

Royal Memorial Fountain
Built 201X

Asriel closed the doors behind him, humid air blowing in his face, the dirt warming his feet.

The elevators in Hotland seemed to work the same as they always did, so it wasn’t much of a journey, thank goodness; It was way past his bedtime, and the climate didn’t do any favors for his thick fur.
Once in front of the old lab, he made a beeline south. Relief washed over him at the sight of River Person.
“Tra la la. Ah… long time no see.”

Asriel tensed a little, but still stepped in.
“You won’t tell anyone… right?” He whispered.

Water lapped at the sides of the boat.
They hummed to themselves. “There’s nothing to tell. This is how things are supposed to be.”

If Asriel could see their face, he was sure they would be smiling. “Ok. Um… to Snowdin, please.”

The rhythmic echos of the water through the tunnel were so soothing that he struggled to stay awake. He found himself wishing he was back in bed, fast asleep, but… he couldn’t handle waking up in that house one more time, not after learning what Asgore had done. Something was wrong with his Dad, and even worse, something was wrong with him, too.
Feeling nothing at all when he was looked at with unfiltered love and warmth felt like being shot through the chest; he would know, after all- he had felt that too.

He needed answers, and if anyone could give them, it would be Mom. No matter how badly anyone screwed up, she always seemed to be able to clean up the mess and make everything feel ok again.
No matter how different he was from before… no matter how broken… she would be able to fix him. She would be able to make him feel whole again, he knew it.
Otherwise… who else could?

The tunnel opened up to show the edges of Snowdin. Asriel could see his own breath in the air, and it made him smile; he’d always had a soft spot for this place.
He thanked River Person as he got out, enjoying the feeling of crisp air over his fur.

Even if Mom wasn’t in the Ruins like he thought… he could still sleep in his old bed, and it was nice to be back here.

Snowdin Town was much bigger than he remembered. The snow glittered beautifully in the low light- it brought back memories. It looked so warm and cozy inside that he seriously considered staying at the inn, but that would be pretty dumb after he had come this far.

Asriel pressed on.


He had been walking for a long time now. His surroundings were starting to get blurry, and his legs shook beneath him. He stumbled across a small bridge, and ahead of him… he knew this was the path to the ruins. Asriel tried to go faster, he was almost there!
A few steps later, he collapsed in the snow.

Involuntarily, he felt his eyes flutter shut.


The first thing Asriel noticed as he awoke was how soaking wet his clothes were, the second was the strange weight on his back. He groaned, wondering what time it was, as he tried to stand up.

A large blanket fell to his feet as he stood. Someone must have put this over him… what a very Monster thing to do.
He took it, wrapping it around himself as he made his way to the Ruins door, the forest towering ominously above him. He had no way of knowing, but he sure hoped it was at least morning now- he didn’t want to wake Mom up like he did Dad.

He reached out to open the Ruins door.
Asriel had a sinking feeling in his chest as he realized it was locked.
To keep Asgore out was one thing… but if this door was always locked then even Mom’s friends couldn’t visit her. Nobody could visit her. How long had she been gone? Was she all alone in there?
As Asriel’s thoughts spiraled, he knocked harder and harder until he was pounding as hard as he could.
“Hello? Can you hear me? Somebody? Anybody?” He raised his voice, right into the crack of the door.
He had to have been doing this for at least a few minutes. His paws were starting to hurt, and yet, he persisted. He couldn’t have come all this way for nothing; Scowling, he took in the deepest breath that he could.
“I want to see my mom!”

Just as he expected silence to envelop him, the sound of stone scraping against stone did instead.

There she was, right in front of him.
An expression of horror swept across the former queen’s face as she covered her mouth with both paws.

Asriel felt tears welling in his eyes as he lowered his hood.

She took the first step, slowly holding out her hand, as if the moment she touched him he would vanish.

The blanket fell as Asriel tackled her with a hug.

She kneeled to meet his height, and held him so tight he could barely breathe, but he didn’t care; the cold that had soaked him to his skin seemed to melt away in her arms.
He didn’t know how long they stayed like that, and didn’t care to keep track- at some point she let go, settling for holding his hands in her own instead.

“Asriel…” Her eyes glittered with emotion through a smile. “What has happened? Are you alright? Did you come from the castle?”

“Yeah,” Asriel sniffled. “I woke up in the garden. I was living with Dad, but…”

In his silence Toriel stood, letting go of one of his hands. “Your clothes are soaking wet, Asriel, you must be so cold. Let us go inside before you freeze out here. Is that alright?”

He nodded, grabbing the blanket and wiping his face with his sleeve as she led him in, closing the door behind them and relocking it.

Once they were in the house she lead him to his room. Based on her expression it seemed to cause her physical pain to do so, but she left him there to dry off while she went to make something in the kitchen (he must be starving after such a journey, she said).

Being in this room gave him a sort of sinking feeling in his stomach. Stuffed animals that weren’t his by the bed, and dusty toys from when he was much smaller in a bin in front. The first time he had slept in this bed he barely knew how to walk, and the last time that he had slept here… was the night before they moved out of the Ruins.
He could still remember how Chara beamed when they woke him up, yanking him, Mom, and Dad all out of bed so they could leave as soon as physically feasible.
That entire day they wouldn’t stop smiling, exploring every corner of the Underground that they could get away with along the way to the Barrier, cheering once they reached the castle, every single Monster cheering with them, joy and hope spreading like a wave across the crowd. There wasn’t an ounce of hesitation in their eyes as they turned to everyone, stood up straight, projecting their voice.
“You’re going to be free!”

Asriel had woken up to the sound of Chara crying that night. “Are you just really happy?” He had asked, surprised; Chara never cried. “Is that why you can’t sleep?”

“Monsters are better than humans,” Their voice was thick with tears. “It’s no wonder they imprisoned you here. You all love everyone and everything so much... even me.”
“Humans did all of this and you’re still never angry at me. You are so grateful for what you have, even if you have nothing at all,”
Their voice got quieter as they continued.
“Monsters deserve the surface. Humans do not deserve anything. You deserve… to have anything.”

He crawled out of his bed to sit on Chara’s, and wrap his arms around them. “I don’t really know what you mean, but…” Their tense shoulders seemed to relax, just a bit. “We couldn’t have done this without you, y’know? We’d still be in the Ruins if you hadn’t made us, hee hee… Monsters are kind of cowards. But... you’re really brave, Chara. You gave every Monster so much courage! Even me. Before we met I was so scared...
of everything. You showed me how fun the unexpected really is.”

They finally reciprocated the hug, perhaps a bit more tightly than they had to.

Asriel tried to ignore the emptiness in his chest as he searched the closet, even his baby clothes were still here. Of course Mom would have kept those.

He turned to examine the other side of the room, and stopped. Dusty shoes… ones that he had never seen before, paired in tidy rows.
Asriel counted with his fingers. Six pairs.
Of course… the children all fell where Chara had, and stayed with Mom, until…

I hope they didn’t all fall on purpose. He frowned, changing into one of his old sweaters- it was small and probably hadn’t been washed in decades, but at least it was dry.

This better not be as awkward as it was with Dad. He thought, as he closed the door to his room behind him, heading for the living room.


Asriel grabbed a random book from the bookcase and curled up in Mom’s chair in front of the fireplace, flicking through pages of insignificant history. Warmth soaked through his sweater and into his fur. The archaic handwriting on the thick pages blurred as he laid his head down on the armrest, pulling his knees up to his chest, and leaving the book open on the opposite armrest.
For a moment, he could pretend he was nine again.

Blue mud coated his fur so thickly he had to spit some out and wipe it off his eyes; Chara laughed so hard that they threw up. He hugged them and pushed them over until they were nearly just as dirty.
Mom scolded them when they got home, but Dad seemed to think it was hilarious, and eventually got Mom laughing too. Mom and Dad both helped hose them off and clean their clothes, and sent them off to take baths; Asriel’s took much longer.
When they were clean and dry, dinner was ready! They stuffed themselves until it hurt. Dad held he and Chara both like babies to his chest as he told them stories from long, long ago, when he had barely been older than them. The fireplace flickered in the distance, blurring with the running sink and the rumble of Dad’s voice in his chest. He opened his eyes later, faintly aware that Mom was carrying him to his room, she gave him a little kiss on the head, and he drifted back off the moment his back touched the bed.

“Asriel!”

His eyes snapped open.

“I suppose you could not sleep so soundly in the snow, but you really do need to eat you know.”

“Yeah,” Asriel lifted Mom’s reading blanket off him and messily folded it, laying it back over the top of the chair and going to sit in his seat at the dining table.

Snail pie. Of course, the signature ‘you’re a growing boy’ meal. He certainly wouldn’t complain though, he was starving. Over him vacuuming up his meal, Toriel seemed to become increasingly concerned.

“Asriel, you said that you were living with Asgore… why have you left? Did you…” She didn’t seem to want to finish that sentence.

He made his way through a mouthful of pie before he spoke. “Find out what he did while I was gone? Yeah.” He chuckled uncomfortably. Mom had a dead, bitter look in her eyes as she stared at the table.

“But that wasn’t the only reason,” He shifted in his seat. “I didn’t feel like I was supposed to be there. I don’t know. Nothing really feels right, I guess.”

“What do you mean?”

He pressed his mouth closed, hugging himself and sliding down in his chair. “Ever since I woke up… I’ve felt so weird. Like I’m sick, but I never feel any better.” He put his paws over his chest. “Maybe it sounds funny, but... where my SOUL should be, it just hurts instead. And it’s… cold,” Asriel turned to his mother, confusion and fear in his eyes. “I stayed with Dad so long and nothing changed, so I thought… you could help me feel better. You always made Chara feel better.”

Tears were in her eyes, and she looked so… angry? Asriel couldn’t tell, but she seemed to be feeling something, at least. She leaned her elbows on the table, holding her head in her hands. A wavering laugh tumbled out of her throat. “I suppose it is no surprise, considering…”

“Considering what?”

“Considering what you have… experienced. I do not think anyone could come out of that unscathed.”

“You mean dying?”

She tried to smile at him, but tears ran down her face. “Yes.”
“To see such violence… to see the ones that you love in pain… it is never easy. I have felt it. Asgore has felt it. Even Chara has felt it, in a different way.”
“Nothing feels the same after that. It is hard to feel fine.”
“But your surroundings will always change. Time passes. And one day, you realize that the pain has dulled; it will never disappear, but things are better, and you feel hopeful again, grateful for the most simple of things…”
She gazed at her long-dead son, warmth and love in her eyes, like she would walk through hell itself for his sake.
“I cannot promise it will happen tomorrow, nor the day after that. But no matter how unbearable it is right now… one day, it will be easier; not easy, perhaps… but easier.”

Asriel got the sudden feeling that she had given Chara a similar talk in the past, she spoke as if the words were familiar on her tongue. As much as he appreciated this sentiment of a better future he couldn’t convince himself it was true; he wasn’t sure how he felt about a future without Chara in it anyway.
“Okay. Thank you,” He smiled, just to be polite, and kept eating his pie.

“Of course. I will always be here for you, Asriel.”

He wasn’t sure how to respond to that.

Chapter Text

Asriel stayed for a long time; longer than he should have. It must have been nearly a year.

It was nice, at first.
She taught him how to bake until he could do it on his own, and according to her, he was pretty good at it.
She read to him before bed like when he was a baby, kissing him on the forehead every night with the fondest look in her eyes.
They went shopping and exploring deep in the Ruins, which had once been bustling with people, was now a ghost town- he had visited a lot of relatives and war veterans here when he was very little, nearly all of which were now dead, but it was still nostalgic.
She eagerly homeschooled him the entire time, it was hard to watch how much passion she put into it- into him.

Despite what Mom had promised, things didn’t get any better, no matter how much time they spent together. In fact, every day he awoke he felt worse and worse, an itch in his chest, like the world was trying to tell him you’re missing something very important.
You don’t feel a thing when your own mother embraces you. You can’t ignore that, no matter how much you want to.

The longer he stayed, the more strained and pathetic this all was. Nothing had changed since he had come here- not really. He wished and wished and hoped and dreamt as hard as he could, he prayed before he went to sleep, and still, he was hollow.
He loved his Mom so much before, it should have been the solution; the power of love always came through in books, right? Friends and family were supposed to give you power and make you feel better, right? It was part of being a Monster, and he couldn’t even do that right.

As he became infuriated with how futile this was - with how futile he was - he thought of Chara, and their determination to free monsters, even at the cost of themself. Was this how useless they had felt? Was this how disgusting they had felt?
Maybe he could have helped them back then, if only he had understood.
Maybe they could help him now, if only they were still here.
He stayed up some nights thinking about them, crying and crying until one night, the tears wouldn’t come anymore, and he wanted to ask them what it felt like to fall asleep and never wake up again.

 

His body felt heavy as he tried to get out of bed. The last month had blended together completely.
Asriel decided that he was going to leave tonight; to didn’t know where to, but he had to get out of here, he had to do something different or he was going to explode, and Mom didn’t deserve to see that.

He tried his best to act normal that day, smiling and going along with whatever Toriel wanted to do; It was exhausting. She seemed to notice his behavior but didn’t point it out. She read him an extra saccharine story before bedtime, one with a happy ending, kissing him on the forehead and tucking him in.
“I love you very much, Asriel.”

“I love you too.” He meant it… as much as he could.
He laid there, waiting. She was still up for hours. And finally, things went quiet.
He crept out of bed, restraining his agitation as much as he could while he searched the kitchen for the key to the Ruins Door. He groaned when he realized he couldn’t find it- of course Mom wouldn’t put it in such easy reach, she wasn’t that dumb.

Slowly, he opened the door to her bedroom, worming his way inside. Mom’s sleeping figure was still except for the rise and the fall of her chest. Asriel was careful as he looked over her desk, paging through her diary without really reading it- who knows where she could be hiding that key. He swallowed a sigh of irritation as he slid across the room to her dresser, opening the old drawers with the delicacy one might use when dismantling a bomb; one misstep and he would be dead. Asriel blindly shoved his hands around through piles of neatly folded clothes, periodically looking over at the bed, until he felt something far too strangely shaped to be a button. He retracted his arm from under heavy clothes, turning around the little thing in front of the mirror and feeling it with his paws, double-checking that yes, it was definitely a key, and a large one at that.
Satisfied, Asriel left the room, leaving the door only slightly ajar and immediately heading for the stairs. He didn’t hesitate to pick up the pace once in the basement, moving from a jog to a run, unlocking the Ruins Door with shaking hands; He couldn’t believe he’d gotten this far.

Stone scraping against stone grated on his ears- the moment there was a decent opening he threw the key back into the hall and bolted into the snow.


Snowflakes raced past him, freezing air ruffling his fur. Asriel was in his pajamas, hungry, and tired, but at this point he didn’t care- he was out, he was free, and now he could... he stopped. What was he going to do? He turned to run into the forest, Mom was definitely awake by now, all he could hope was that the snow would pick up and make his tracks stand out a little less.

The sound of Toriel calling his name echoed in the distance and he picked up speed, tripping over himself and sinking a little into the deep snow. In his desperation, blinded, he fell.

Sharp stone ripped at the back of his footie pajamas as he plummeted, gulping down screams for help. The moment that he was beginning to accept his fate, solid ground hit his feet.

Shaking, he opened his eyes. Above him was a jagged, crumbling cliff face, and a few steps in front of him was a sheer drop- he couldn’t see the bottom.

Asriel sat criss-cross.

If he screamed and cried and didn’t stop Mom would find him one day. But he wondered… was that what he really wanted? ...Was that what she really needed?
The world is giving me a choice.

If he went back then nothing would change. Mom would dote on him even further, and tell him kind and loving things like that she would always love him, and always take care of him no matter what, no matter how he acted or felt; That wasn’t a lie, but… what if she was wrong to tell him that?

Everyone could give him all the love that they wanted, but he could never give it back. He was like a toy- cute and fun at first, but in the end, empty and silent. You can play with a doll, but it can never play with you.

Asriel peered over the edge, involuntarily smiling, eyes stinging with the threat of tears.

He wouldn’t have to face a future without Chara if he had no future at all.

He had betrayed his bestest friend, the only person that ever really understood him. He could have saved all of Monsterkind, but instead... his hesitation had brought nothing but grief and ruin. Chara had suffered for nothing. He didn’t deserve to be alive instead of them. He didn’t deserve to be loved after dooming his entire race.

There was no hope for Monsters. There was no hope for Mom and Dad. There was no hope for him. There was no hope. The last time he had hoped for real was minutes before he was slaughtered like an animal.

Asriel jumped.

He tried to think of how much easier this would be, to be dead.
He watched the ground get closer as he thought of his state; He already knew what it felt like to die, but if he was really as empty and sick and soulless - if that was even possible - as he felt, would it be different this time? What if instead of dusting he laid there broken forever?

Panic swept over him, his chest felt like it was on fire, he grasped at air for anything to hang onto.

“No!” He screamed.

“I don’t wanna die!”


Asriel woke up in the garden.

He bolted awake, as if it had been nothing but a dream.
It was just as dark as the first time.

He laid in the flowers and wept.

Chapter Text

Things became strange after he died for the first time.

His first thought was that this was hell, but that was quickly proven wrong when Asgore choked on his own tears like this hadn’t already happened. If this was exactly the same as before… was it some kind of magic? Asriel decided to play along, faking the same grief and shock that he had first expressed.

It could be a fluke. He had to find out if he could do it again.

Once Asgore had calmed down a little a few days later, Asriel made a trip to the royal library. He spent hour after frustrating hour skimming through books about Monster Magic until one of them mentioned the rare human ability to “SAVE and Reset”. Frantic, he picked a few credible-looking books and read up on the ability as much as he could before Asgore came to take him home- he decided it wasn’t necessary to rent them.

Asriel sat in bed thinking that night. If this was the same ability that powerful humans possessed on the surface, then was the garden his “save point”? Could he really come back whenever he wanted, as long as he died?

He left his room the second Asgore went to bed, sneaking to the kitchen to look for something useful. Metal glinted as he opened one of the drawers. He sorted through the knives, testing their sharpness by poking his fingers; He picked the one that hurt the most and set off, deciding on a whim to go through the throne room and up to The Barrier. He watched it for a couple of minutes, mesmerised as he laid his paw on it- it rippled like glutinous, magic water.

He snapped out of it, looking over the knife in his hands and placing the tip over where his SOUL would be. He didn’t want to have to do this, he didn’t want to hurt himself… but he had to know more.
Light and darkness rippling over him in waves, thinking of the future, Asriel plunged the knife into his chest.


For the third time, he felt petals underneath his paws.

Asriel couldn’t remember the last time he had been this excited. He continued his tests, transitioning from instantaneous deaths to ones that lowered his HP over time.
He tied sweaters full of rocks to his ankles and drowned himself in Waterfall.
He laid in a blizzard without any clothes on in Snowdin.
He ate as many mysterious plants as he could find- that death took at least a day.
Some of his ideas horrified him, but he was dead set on getting used to this pain, no matter how severe. If he was going to put this power to use, it was the only way.

No matter the method, he got that same feeling in his chest, a powerful heat, telling him to keep going. Instinctually he knew that he could choose to die forever, but as long as he wanted to keep going, without fail, he would wake up again. It was thrilling. That deep, gut-wrenching horror was the most that he had felt in a year. This pure catharticism made him realize just how angry he had been with himself staying with Dad and Mom. He had been so… passive, trying to draw and make pies and read books like a normal child, hoping that things would be just like how they used to be. Now he knew he wasn't normal. He had gone too far to be normal anymore.
Things could never be like they used to be.
It felt good to be active for once, even if the action was cutting himself to pieces; he wondered if this was how it made Chara feel, too.

He quickly lost track of how many times he had died, juicing that feeling of fear, pain, and then relief as much as he could.

It got boring after he’d jumped into Hotland’s lava for the thirteenth time.


Asriel nestled into the tent’s blankets. He tried to warm himself with fire magic, but no matter how hard he tried not even a spark would come.

The cold creeped under his skin. It felt like he had been lying here for years.

His stomach jumped at the sound of snow crunching outside, the barrier of silence breaking. Unease stirred inside him- he couldn’t remember how long it had been since he’d talked to someone.

Tensing, he forced open the door flap, eyes searching.

A child - probably about the same age as himself - walked up to the tent, wearing oversized winter clothes and a red scarf almost as long as he was.

“Hey! What’s your name!”

Asriel’s brows furrowed. Could he say his real name? Maybe someone this small wouldn’t recognize it.

“It’s… Asriel.”

“That’s a good name! But not as good as mine. I’m Papyrus!” He made a big smile.

“Nice to meet you,” Asriel stood up to his full height, straightening his clothes and stepping out of the tent. “Why are you in the middle of the woods at night?”

“What else would someone do at night?”

Asriel couldn’t hold back a grin. “Sleep, maybe?”

Papyrus blinked. “I don’t know how to do that.”

“Hee hee, me neither!”
“How old are you, Papyrus?”

“Twelve!” He seemed proud of this.

“Neat! I’m eleven.”
“So… do you wanna play or something?”

He looked inappropriately happy. “Yes!! Wowie, I’ve never played with anyone at night before!”

“I guess there aren’t many options, huh?”

He nodded profusely. “I don’t know why anybody would sleep every night! It’s so weird! Sometimes my brother even sleeps all day!

“Woah. That’s a lot.”

“I know right!!!”

Asriel laughed at his genuine anger.

The still surface of the snow glittered peacefully as they played, tossed into the air as they ran through it.

They played tag, hide and seek, and even his favorite- pretend! He was a king and Papyrus was his knight. It wasn’t as fun as it might be with more people, but to have someone to play with at all was… really nice. He hadn’t played with another kid since… well, since Chara.

After what must have been many hours of playing, Papyrus stopped, looking a little serious all of a sudden.
“Want to come to my house? There’s snacks! And it’s warm! And I promise my brother won’t mind!”

“A-Are you sure? I don’t wanna get in the-”

You won’t get in the way!! We have a sofa!” He looked kind of angry. Asriel didn’t understand why this random kid was being so nice to him, but he couldn’t deny he was really hungry and did really miss sleeping in a house.

“Well, ok…”

Papyrus jumped around a little, flapping his hands in excitement. “You’ll love it! Sans is weird, but he won’t say no to my friend, I know it!”

His friend, huh?
Asriel smiled.


He stayed with those two brothers for far longer than he could have ever anticipated.

Even if he was defective as a Monster, he had to admit that he got very attached. Sans was funny, accommodating, and gave him a confusingly genuine talk when he discovered the knife in Asriel’s backpack (for convenience! And occasional messing around when he was stressed), he insisted it was for self-defense emergencies, but Sans took it away anyway; Asriel didn’t protest, as he could certainly find other methods- it was a fun challenge.

Papyrus was… well, he almost became like a brother. Maybe they weren’t as close as he and Chara had been, but the longer they knew each other the closer they got. He was so understanding and gentle, and found a way to make life a little bit brighter every single day. He was so fun to be with that he had a real reason to stick around, for even longer than he had before. With Mom and Dad, he had an image to live up to, and they would notice if he was too different from beforel; but with these two, he could stand to be himself a little more. It was freeing.

They ate together, played together, and snuck outside together when they couldn’t sleep.
Papyrus called him his best friend, and it made him wish he had a SOUL to feel like it was melting in his chest every time he heard that, like he knew it should.

He watched Papyrus grow before his very eyes; Sans measured his height at least once every few months, and there was usually a difference; even if it was small, it gave Papyrus the proudest smile.
Asriel, on the other hand, didn’t grow an inch- Sans insisted that he must be a late bloomer, but Asriel suspected it was a little more than that.

The day that marked his presence for a year in this timeline passed. The following months began to blur together, and he and Papyrus began to grow apart. He stopped doing the homework Sans gave him and Papyrus most days. He could barely sleep anymore, he merely slipped in and out of consciousness- all he dreamt of was death; he missed it’s painful embrace, it’s finality, and the refreshing feeling afterward. He wanted to know what else was out there. He had to. He was deluding himself if he thought he could stay here and pretend to be happy forever. It wasn’t fair to let them love something like him for this long.

He promised Sans to do just a little bit of schoolwork tomorrow, and they all went to bed. Asriel laid in his new bed, staring at Papyrus’ back from across the room, which shifted ever so slightly as he slept. Asriel didn’t move. His chest felt like it was festering from the inside.

He found himself walking through the snow. He didn’t know where he was going.

One foot on the ground and the other on ice, he stomped until it broke to pieces. He stared at his warped reflection in the exposed water. He wanted to jump in, he wanted to feel the frigid water fill his body, he wanted to die, now-
But he couldn’t move. He imagined Papyrus’ face, crying, and Sans holding him. He couldn’t do that to them, he couldn’t do that to more people after what he already did to Mom and Dad, but he had to, but-

Asriel screamed and cried. He threw his fist against a tree as hard as he could, shaking and cradling his own paw in his arms, hiccuping on his own sobs.

He wanted to run when he felt a hand on his shoulder, but-

Papyrus held Asriel’s broken hand delicately in his own. Asriel knew he was speaking, he could see his mouth moving and he was crying, but all that he heard was static. Papyrus’ face crumpled and he-

“SAY SOMETHING!”

The static stopped.

“Why are you doing this? Did something happen? Can’t I help? I’ll do anything, so please, just tell me!” Papyrus looked down at Asriel, hands gripping his shoulders tightly.

“I…” Asriel couldn’t make eye contact.
“I know this sounds… creepy, but…” He inhaled.
“Papyrus, I have this… special power. When I die, I go back in time; to the same moment, every time I die.”

Papyrus flinched a little, releasing his hands, looking over Asriel’s face for confirmation, quickly dawning into horror.

“I-I havent done it in a long time! Not since I met you, obviously. But… I think…” Asriel tried and failed to swallow back tears.
“I think I should, you know, go.

Papyrus launched himself at Asriel, squeezing him into a hug, crying right next to his ear. “I don’t understand! Did I do something wrong? If I did, I’m sorry, I-”

“Papyrus.”

“Yes?”

“I don’t have a SOUL, Papyrus.”

“I don’t care.”

“...What?”

Papyrus was struggling to speak.
“I don’t care if you have no SOUL! You’re my best friend! You’re my family!” He held Asriel tighter.
“I.. I don’t want to imagine my life without you. I don’t want you to die. I don’t want you to be in pain, so please- If I can do anything to-”

Asriel pushed him away. Papyrus’ hands hovered in the air like it hurt to not be holding him.

“I need to tell you something, Papyrus.”

“...Yes?”

“It’s not your fault.”

Asriel jumped into the water.

Chapter Text

Asriel sat next to Chara’s grave.

He had already had his crying, screaming breakdown here last night; he didn’t know why he came back. Loneliness, perhaps? Asriel stared at the flowerbed. He wanted to know what they would have said, in this situation; maybe if he stared enough they’d come back to life. Maybe if he stayed here, still and quiet enough, sick on his own self-doubt, he’d hear their voice in his head one last time. He missed them.

He didn’t feel the need to blink as he watched the petals glitter in the slight drizzle from the surface. He had hurt so many people. Chara was dead for no reason. He broke Mom and Dad’s hearts for no reason. He made Sans and Papyrus sad for no reason- even if they didn’t remember, it still made his insides burn to think of the sound Papyrus had made before freezing water filled his ears.

If he’d made the right decision, everyone would be free right now- they would have been for years. If he wasn’t a coward, Papyrus could have grown up never knowing anything but the surface; he deserved that.

He grinded his teeth together.
Everything was his fault.


He played with mirrors in the dead of the night while Asgore slept. He could mould his face to his liking, like clay- it was tricky to get the hang of, but fun once you got more confident, kind of like drawing. It was much easier with his voice, if he was familiar enough with someone’s then imitations came out perfectly, like a recording, and he could warp it beyond anything recognizable.
He pushed his eyes onto his chin and willed his mouth to his forehead, making sounds in a shrill voice.

He looked towards the movement in the corners of his vision, and Asgore’s screams pervaded the air. Asriel hadn’t noticed him opening the door.


He played among other children with the face of a dog monster; the placement of the eyes weren't right and the teeth were too sharp, but nobody brought it up. It wasn’t safe to look like himself when an adult could see him- Sans was the only one that never reported him.

Baring this new face, he introduced himself to Asgore as a lost child with no memory of who he was, including his own name. Asgore treated him gently and politely, and fed him baked scraps that were probably meant to be pies. When he still claimed to not remember his name after weeks, Asgore affectionately deemed him “Puppy.”
It was hard to forget.


Bored of playing innocent and cute with Dad, “Puppy” decided to play with puzzles in Hotland by himself.

Exploring the cliffs and the shadows, on an isolated little island among the lava, he found a figure he didn’t recognize. Rocks crumbed below him as he jumped and climbed, he stood behind them, watching as they silently gazed below, failing to notice him.

“...Howdy.”

She shrieked, feet shuffling in the gravel as she turned, slipping-

Puppy grabbed her hands, pulling her towards him and away from the edge.

She landed on her bottom, eyes wide, shaking, clutching at her chest.

Finally, she looked up at him, an unreadable mix of emotions in her eyes.
“Wh-Who are you?” She wheezed.

“Call me Puppy!” He grinned at her.
“I’ve never seen you before. What’s your name?”

“I-It’s…”
“Alphys.” She looked away.

Puppy felt like he’d heard that name before, but he couldn’t place it. He sat criss-cross in front of her, interested.

“What were you doing out here? It’s pretty late, and it’s dangerous out here, ha ha. If it weren’t for me, you would’ve-”

“I know.”
“I mean- uhh- I just! Couldn’t sleep!” She laughed, hugging herself, her fake smile faltering.

“Yeah. Me neither.”

“B-... D-Don’t you, have parents or something?”

“No.”

“...Oh.

The bubbling lava was the only sound, for a few moments.

“W-Would company, make you feel better, maybe? L-Like, uh-” She looked like she wanted to phase out of existence right then and there.

“Yeah.”

She looked up, confused. “R-Really?”

Puppy nodded. “Where do you live?”

She stared for a moment, bewildered.
“Um. I’m... uh, the Royal Scientist, so-”

“Really?? But you’re so young!”

“I-I guess? Asgore was, a little impatient. He hired me r-right after I, um, graduated.”

“Woah! You must be super smart!”

Alphys didn’t look like she agreed.


The lab was much different than he remembered it. The previous owner had kept it practically spotless, and this was, well… a dump, frankly, even if Alphys was currently skidding across the floor in her effort to clean it up. At first, he was surprised by how embarrassed she was, considering that he was still technically eleven, and she must have only been a few years older- it wasn’t like she knew he was royalty. The more he explored, it was made clear that she didn’t leave the lab frequently. Mom would have lost it if she saw the state of this place.

He opened the fridge. It was stuffed full with blocks of still-wrapped ramen noodles. Next to the fridge was, strangely enough, a giant, half-empty bag of dog food.

“Do you have a kid or something?”

“Huh? Um-” Adjusting her glasses, Alphys looked over from cleaning her desk, and immediately paled. “N-N-No, I, I did- I went-”
“I had! A date! Y-Yeah, I had a date with! A dog monster! Recently!” She was visibly sweating. “S-So I bought dog food… for… them...”

“Oh. Cool.” He silently hoped that she had better clothes than that dirt-smeared lab coat she was wearing now- but then again, formal clothes weren’t usually comfortable, so he wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t.


Curious and with no better ideas, he ended up living with her for a few months.

She brought in a soggy couch from the dump so she didn’t have to pay for his room at the Hotel.
They stayed up until unholy hours watching various cartoons on a tv much more advanced than he had ever seen before he died, and she shared her ramen, soda, chips, and ice cream with him while they did- she even got him chocolate a few times.
She rattled on to him about theoretical relationships between characters, fanfiction ideas, and concepts for gadgets. Sometimes she tried to explain code malfunctions to him, and every single time she’d stop in the middle of the explanation as she registered what was wrong and went to fix it.
He found his backpack reorganized once, even his knife was in a different pocket. She never said anything about it; he appreciated that.
He often ended up cleaning up after her, but he didn’t really mind, it gave him something to do; And... she reminded him of a few different people at once.

He heard her muttering to herself on the computer sometimes while he was half-asleep.
She got letters once every week but never opened them.
She disappeared into the bathroom for at least an hour once every day, and when he finally confronted her she (with a wavering voice) told him she was experimenting with human food, that it was very gross, and he wouldn’t want to know about it. Considering that he already knew way more than he wanted to about humans and their “bathrooms” (thanks, Chara), he had no qualms in putting his ear up to the door when she retreated into it the next day.

Churning mechanical noises… They got fainter and fainter, until they stopped entirely.

Now he finally had a way to find out what was really going on.

He snuck onto her computer that night, trying to track down the controls for the door. Conveniently, there was a file labelled “bathroom”. He opened it, and, not understanding all of this technical gibberish, resorted to keysmashing in it.

He rushed to the door at the sound of it opening and closing in succession.

He could hear Alphys running down the escalator; she turned towards her computer, then towards the door. By the light of the computer screen he saw her eyes go wide.

“Wh-What are you doing!?” She shouted over the sound of the malfunctioning door. “I can fix this, Puppy! Y-You should go back to sleep!”

He didn’t answer. She took a step forward.

The sound stopped- the door was open-
Puppy sprinted inside; Alphys ran after him.

“YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO GO IN TH-”

He smashed random buttons-

“P-Please come back!” She tried to reach into the elevator, quickly retracting her arm as it started moving. “Please!!

It was a long ride down.

The doors opened to darkness. As he stepped out, the lights turned on automatically, and the elevator was sent back up.

His footsteps echoed through the silent hallway, and on the wall… he stepped towards it, touched the screen, and text appeared.

The last one in the hallway stood out to him.

I've done it. Using the blueprints, I've extracted it from the human SOULs. I believe this is what gives their SOULs the strength to persist after death. The will to keep living... The resolve to change fate. Let's call this power... "Determination."

He tightened his hands into fists. She was describing his power. Was this the secret she was keeping? Did she know something about him?
He ran at the sound of elevator doors opening.

Footsteps echoed from behind him. Three doors stood before him- he chose the door on the right.

nothing is happening. i don't know what to do. i'll just keep injecting everything with "determination." i want this to work.

one of the bodies opened its eyes.

A room filled with beds, fake plants, and an empty dog food bowl in the corner. He didn’t hear footsteps anymore- Alphys probably went through a different door.
Nonetheless, he felt like something was watching him. The air in this room sent a crawling feeling up his back.

Another screen on the far wall…

Everyone that had fallen down... ... has woken up. They're all walking around and talking like nothing is wrong. I thought they were goners...?

Dying people… alive again, just like him. Could Determination really do that? But he had already been turned to dust… surely it was different… right?

He stood there for a moment, the air was thick. It was so quiet. His eyes stung. He tore his feet from the floor and entered the door on his far right.

There were jars on the counter. Jars full of dust, and syringes and cups and clipboards, and machines he didn’t understand the function of…

And on the screens…

If Determination can bring back a monster that’s falling down… could a SOUL be brought back from the dust? Every monster that ever fell down… if I could bring them back, families would never be wiped out from grief again.

experiments on what’s left of the prince’s dust are a failure. it doesn't seem to be any different from the control cases. whatever. it’s a hassle to work with dust anyway. if anyone knew i did this with remains for nothing, they’d never forgive me. maybe if i try one of the human bodies, i’ll get results…

Alphys was standing in the entrance, breathing heavily.
“Puppy, I d-don’t know why you came down here but, p-please don’t tell the king about this place, I’ll-
“Wh-...Why are you… crying?”

Wordlessly, he stepped over to one of the mirrors on the wall, feeling his face relax. His muzzle shortened, his eyes reshaped, and…

He turned to Alphys, looking her in the eye.

She inhaled, taking a step back. Alphys blinked, like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, but she didn’t look away.

“It was you,” Asriel finally spoke.
“All this time... hahahaha…”
You did this to me,” He took a step towards her as he spoke, and she quickly began backing away. “You made me hollow.

“I’m sorry- I’m so sorry-”

“For what? FOR WHAT?

“I don’t know!”

Laughter spilled from his throat. “Exactly… exactly! You don’t know! Nobody, nobody knows what this is like-”
“Do you know how many times I’ve died? Do you know how many times I’ve killed myself? Haha! Because I don’t!

Alphys was crying now, apologizing under her breath on a never-ending loop.
“Why won’t you tell me? Aren’t you the one that did this? Don’t you know how to make me better? Tell me something… anything…”

Alphys was crying harder and shaking her head, falling back against one of the beds.

“THEN WHY DID YOU DO THIS? DO YOU LIKE SEEING ME SUFFER, IS THAT IT? IS THIS FUN TO YOU?” Asriel leered over her, sobbing.

“It’s not, it’s not! I-I just-”

He grabbed her wrists, looking at her in the face.

“WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?”

She shook uncontrollably, flinching as white dripped from his face onto hers.

“I-I-It was an accident, your highness!” She tried to smile, as if it would make him feel better. “You, c-c-came back… w-without a SOUL... right?”

His grip tightened, and he stared harder.

She yelped. “I-I w-wasn’t trying to-” She swallowed. “T-To do that!”
“I-I… I just wanted to m-make the king happy...”
“I thought i-if I brought his son back… h-he’d trust me...”

Asriel released her wrists and stepped back, looking at the floor.
Every drop from his melting face made a resounding wet, sticky sound; it echoed throughout the room rhymically, like a broken tap.

“...So you can’t bring my SOUL back?”

“I…”
“M-Maybe I could make you a new one, b-but… SOULs can’t be m-made from scratch, so I’d… have to t-take a SOUL from another monster.”
“A-And I, don’t know how to do that yet. S-So I’d need some time...”

Drip drip.
“Okay.”
“Thanks anyway.”

He started to walk away. Just when he was almost out of earshot…

“W-Wait!”

Asriel stopped, but didn’t turn around.

“W-What… What's it like…” She mumbled.
Alphys spoke up. “...What’s it like to die?”

Drip.
“It’s scary. It hurts a lot; And once you’re gone… there’s nothing after. There’s no afterlife… just… nothing.”
“That’s how it should have stayed.”

Asriel left.

Chapter Text

So his resurrection hadn’t been some kind of divine retribution after all… but simply the desperate mistake of a woman who wanted to be appreciated. He could understand that. But… to realize that there wasn’t some complicated destiny behind it after all… made him feel worse about all of this.

Asriel thought he was meant to come back- he didn’t know for certain why, but he was convinced he would’ve found his purpose eventually. And now this? She made him go through all of this just to make Asgore feel more comfortable about his choices? A second chance at life was a nice idea of course, but one without a SOUL… it was a despicable reality; it was a half-life. Chara had sacrificed everything for everyone, for Monsterkind, for him- they had given everyone so much hope and he, the coward that had betrayed them, was the one brought back to make people happy?
It was no wonder he didn’t have a SOUL- he stole that hope away from his entire race.

Even one of the other humans would have been a better choice- they hadn’t even had the option to live, after all.
He didn’t deserve to be alive, not one bit. All he did was disappoint people. All that he did was take and take and take for himself.

He hated this. He was the worst kind of person. Even Alphys deserved better than him- at least she was trying to make things better instead of sitting there and doing nothing. He was a freak. He was sick.

He had to make up for it

 

Somehow.


He started by talking to Mom. As frustrated as her nurturing made him… he could still remember what it was like to feel warm when she hugged him, when she cooked for him, when she read to him… and the look in her eyes whenever she saw him.
He asked her many questions, repeating them when she was silent, until she had vented all of her troubles, all of her anger, all of her grief to him… and when she spoke of Chara, who Asgore used to be, and the compassionate past far behind both of them, he cried right along with her, curled in her lap and protected by her arms, enveloped in the ghost of security and calm. He became the vessel of her emotion, drowning in it, feeling like he was breathing for the first time in a long time- but it was a farce, for the fresh air was only a fleeting breeze, and he was left empty once again.

It tempted him, like the flash of memory when recalling a dream. He could never truly grasp it, no matter how desperately he tried.

It left him evermore aware of the growing void inside of him. Sharp, cold, and hungry; nothing was ever enough. No matter how much that other people gave him… their love, their secrets, their hatred… he wanted more.
Always more.

He was still so selfish.

He devoured and he devoured.
Asgore cried to him.
Sans cried to him.
Even Papyrus, the ever-selfless, gave in eventually.

He went to everyone he had ever known, and then even strangers, to hear them spill their SOULs out to him. He could just barely taste emotions he may never feel again; unfiltered love for their friends and family, genuine hope and incentive for a better future at the end of their strings of anxieties, and bottomless compassion towards every single monster that had ever lived.

For days, he cried; finally giving himself time to mourn what he had once been, and what he could never achieve again.
Happiness. Confidence. Innocence.

Utter hollowness rang in his chest, the reminder of what had once been loud now silent as the dead, but never able to rid himself of the memory.

He plunged into the freezing desolation of himself, submerging; sinking.

That’s who he would be now.

The helper.
The vessel.

Everyone’s best friend.

Puppy.


5:13 PM, Saturday.

Toriel was making Quiche for dinner.

He scribbled over the absent doodles he’d been making and headed to the kitchen.

Puppy looked at the clock as it turned to 5:14. Toriel hummed to herself as she dried her hands, he followed as she headed back over to the oven and-

She gasped as she slid, her body flung forward, and Puppy grabbed the back of her robes, using his foot to drag the towel she’d dropped over the splatter of oil.

Toriel breathed a sigh of relief as he let go and she regained her footing, leaning against the wall. She looked tired.

“Thank you, child. If it were not for you, I would have…”

Puppy looked over at the oven, and remembered the sound of her cracking her head he’d heard from the living room last time.

“I know,” He smiled.


Puppy finally started living with the brothers again. It was much easier to look Papyrus in the eye as a different person; it still hurt a little bit of course, but it was a dull, distant pain- it didn’t make him want to scream anymore.

He cleaned up for them, went shopping for them, helped Papyrus with his schoolwork, and even cooked sometimes even though all he knew how to make right now was pie.

One day, a little over a month in, Papyrus didn’t come home. He and Sans looked everywhere. They found disturbed snow on the edge of a cliff, and… a pile of dust among his clothes at the bottom.

Puppy left immediately, leaving Sans with the pile of dust. The sounds that he heard in the distance after made him feel sick.

He went home, took out his notebook and wrote the date, time, and what he’d done over the past couple days including today, and recited it out loud until it stuck.
He was about to head out of town, but… something caught his eye.
Right outside the shop/inn, a yellow glimmer that he’d never seen before. He’d been here too many times, how could he not have noticed that?

He reached out, and…

EMPTY LV 0 0:00

--

Save Return

Warmth enveloped the hand that he’d touched it with, and spread throughout his body.
He double-tapped the Save option.

Asriel LV 1 938:44:26

Snowdin Town

Save Return

A chime echoed through the night.

He jumped off the bridge.

Enveloped by blackness, he realized that something was different. He had never had his body in this blackness before. And in front of him… his “SAVE”, and below that, two buttons glowed.

Continue Reset

He stepped forward, and pressed Continue.

Puppy inhaled cold air and grinned, jumping around. If this meant what he thought it did, then…!
Beaming, he took out his knife.

The second he was back, he smacked the Reset button.


Flower petals tickled his pawpads. He smiled so much that it hurt his face as he moulded it to his liking, double checking in the mirror at Asgore’s house to make sure he got it right. He stole some paper and crayons and relogged what he’d had in his notepad, repeating it out loud as he wrote.

Shoving the paper in his pocket, he ran. Out of the house, through the Hall, through elevators, and to River Person.
Several yellow sparkles had passed him on the way- they must be all over the whole Underground now!

River Person didn’t say anything on the ride to Snowdin today. He couldn’t be certain since he’d never seen their face, but they seemed almost… solemn?
Whatever, it must be his imagination. If anything, Monsters should be rejoicing- he was invincible like this! He wouldn’t have to go all the way back anymore. He could try over, and over, and over… no matter what it was.

Every mistake could be undone!

Nobody would stay dead for long.
Nobody would dislike him for long.

He would never be a coward again.
He would never be useless again.

Everything would be perfect.


Sans looked at him in a strange way when they met, this time.

He went out every night before bedtime to SAVE, even if he came back inside coated with a layer of snow.

The date was tomorrow.
Puppy stayed up late playing old human video games with Sans just like before; he was familiar with this game already, but pretended he wasn’t so it wouldn’t go by any faster. Sans got stuck at the same spot he had before, and Puppy audibly stifled a laugh as he watched him go the wrong way.
Sans looked at him for longer than he had to, like he had something to say, but soon went back to the game.

Puppy blinked sleep away at the sound of the front door closing just a bit too loudly. He sat up, looking over at Sans who had long since melted into the couch cushions, the little video game system probably lost somewhere among the blankets. He looked like he’d be out for a long while, just like last time.
Good.

He observed the clock as he rose, pretending to be a ghost for a brief moment (it was much easier to wake Sans than you’d think).
It was a quarter until eleven- he hated to be up this early when he wasn’t forced to, but it seemed necessary; once he went outside in the cold morning to SAVE, he doubted he’d be able to fall back asleep anyway.

His heart raced as he closed the door behind him, mind racing just the same as the snow crunched softly beneath his paws.

Warmth enveloped him for the…. 40th time? 50th? He smiled to himself as the cold morning breeze chilled him.
It was so much easier this way.


He convinced the Shopkeeper to let him borrow her Cell Phone, so long as he was gentle and made her some pie later to make up for it. She even gave him a spare jacket of hers once she noticed him shivering.

Puppy hugged himself in the oversized down jacket, pulling the hood up and rubbing his cold nose with the sleeves.

Eventually, he did stumble upon Papyrus playing with a giant rusty sword on that same cliff he’d been found at the bottom of. Unfortunately, Papyrus noticed him immediately.

“Puppy!!!” He beamed, trying to run to him while carrying the sword and promptly face-planting into the snow.

Puppy smiled through a sigh, checking the phone as he walked over to him. Noon... he needed to remember how to get here a little faster.

“Where’d you even find that thing?” Puppy yawned.

“I found it in the woods! By that big door! It was under a whole lot of snow!”

“Neat! Can I hold it?”

“Yeah!!” He struggled to lift it, but managed to shove the handle into Puppy’s hands.

Puppy audibly inhaled as it was passed to him- he could lift it a bit himself, but for Papyrus it must be harder considering it was probably thrice his weight.

He passed the sword back to Papyrus and laid down underneath a pine tree nearby, insisting that he didn’t want to play. He snooped through the phone, occasionally glancing up at Papyrus swinging- or perhaps more like being swung around by- the sword, yelling and grunting, clearly trying to look mighty but tripping over his own feet instead.

After about twenty minutes of this Papyrus approached him, kneeling in front of the tree and asking whose phone that was, whose coat that was, why he didn’t want to play, if he was sleepy or feeling sick, if he wanted to play something he could play without getting up, etc.

Puppy decided that this wouldn’t work and launched himself off the cliff, Papyrus’ dismayed cries cutting off, white blurring to black and back to white as he loaded his SAVE.

He stayed out of sight this time, hiding in a thicket as far as he could while still able to faintly see his figure.
He could barely even hear his voice from here. His only company now was the crunch of the snow when he shifted, the feeling of wood against his paw pads, and the wind through the trees.

He found himself putting the phone down, and watching Papyrus.

Watching him play alone like this… he was clearly trying to look cool before, trying to impress him… some people act so differently when they think no one is watching.
Puppy wished he could get closer without being noticed. He wished he could see the faces he made, caught up in his own games…

The wind brought an echo of Papyrus’ happy shouts to his ears, and he grinned.

The air went still as Papyrus’ figure stumbled, and disappeared from view.
He wrote down the time and repeated it until it was burned into his memory.

Puppy found where Papyrus had fallen.

He felt dust enter his lungs before he hit the ground.


Finally, all these hours of waiting and observing had paid off. Papyrus was hanging over the cliff, held only by Puppy clutching the end of the scarf, his boots desperately slipping through the snow. Puppy tugged on the scarf, wrapped his spare arm around Papyrus’ torso and carefully pulled him away from the edge.

Papyrus immediately tried to look over the edge again- Puppy took his hand and yanked him back with more force than he meant to.

“But, the sword-!”

“Who cares about the sword! You could be dead!

Papyrus looked like he was going to cry.

“I… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled.” Puppy took Papyrus’s hands in his own. “Just please be more careful, ok? It would make Sans and me very very sad if you got hurt, Papyrus.”

Guilt flickered across his face, and he threw his arms around Puppy, burying his face in his coat.
Puppy went still. He remembered the tingle of dust and cold air in his nostrils, and the horrible choked noises Sans had made the first time. His stomach churned, his eyes stung.

He hugged Papyrus tightly.


Sans looked up groggily from the couch as the door closed.

Papyrus let go of Puppy’s hand and began hauling the sword up to his room, insisting more than once that he could do it himself, despite the fact that he had to sit down at the top of the stairs for a minute.

Sans was currently attempting to free himself from his cocoon of blankets- the game system fell on the carpet in the process.

Puppy could feel a stare on his back as he took off the coat, hung it up, and wrote himself a note to return it to the Shopkeeper tomorrow. As he came out of the kitchen, folding the note and putting it in his pocket, Sans had finally untangled himself, and they met eyes.

“...Something happened, didn’t it?”

“I guess you could say that. Papyrus got a little enthusiastic with that sword.”

Sans had an indecipherable look on his face.

Puppy sighed, shoving his hands into his pants pockets. “He was playing by a cliff and he slipped; I helped him up, though.”

“So you weren’t playing with him?”

“No, why?”

“Then how’d you help him?”

“Well…”
“... I was taking a walk nearby!”

“At exactly the right time?”

“Yeah!”

Sans sighed, head in his hands. “Kid, sit down,” He patted the empty spot next to him.

Groaning, Puppy complied, falling backwards onto the couch with a plop. Sans couldn’t be mad at him, right? He’d saved his brother’s life, after all.

Puppy stared in a random direction, looking towards his friend when he realized it had been silent this whole time.

Finally, Sans spoke up.
“I know something’s up with you.”
“Maybe this sounds kinda weird, but… sometimes you act like you already know what’s gonna happen. it just your attitude? Is it a coincidence? Or, is it…”

Puppy couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m surprised this is the first time you’ve brought it up, Sans. You’re pretty smart, you know that?”

“It’s true, then.”

“Yep,” Puppy kicked his legs, mind drifting in the silent interlude.

“...Why’d you bring Papyrus home early?” His voice was empty and tired.

“Well…” Puppy stretched. “Do you want the truth?”

Sans grunted in confirmation.

“Papyrus is supposed to be dead.”

Sans went still, looking away. Maybe he imagined it, but he swore he saw Sans shaking for a second.

Puppy continued. “He was supposed to die when he fell off that cliff. The first time that it happened, we went looking for him, and-”

Stop.” Sans’ voice cracked.

“Oh,” Puppy blinked. “Ok.”
“Sorry.” He didn’t know what he was apologizing for, but it seemed like the polite thing to do.
“Do you want to play more of that game?”

“No.” Sans was barely audible.

“Ok,” Puppy got up, heading to the kitchen and wondering what he’d done to make him so upset- Papyrus was just fine, after all.

“Wait.”

Puppy turned around, quirking a brow.

“Why did you save Papyrus?”

“Because he’s my friend,” Puppy answered quickly, unconsciously bouncing on his heels. “You are, too.”

Sans blinked, as if he’d expected something else.
“... Ok.”

Puppy smiled, and went to find snacks.

Chapter Text

Days passed.

Weeks passed.

Months passed.

He grew closer to his many friends. It didn’t take long before it felt like he’d known them forever- and everything about them, too; he could list off Alphys’ top ten chip flavors in a couple of minutes if anyone asked.

He cooked until he could make a pie without even using a recipe. He got science lessons from Alphys until he could actually read a little bit of the weird books Sans had lying around. He recorded events in his notebook so frequently his handwriting improved bit by bit, as the events became more and more complex.

He drew things for people, learned to sew, read library books every night before bed…

Puppy had slowly gone from shopping for people and cleaning their houses to acting as a therapist, helping people through their various types of relationships, and eventually even started introducing some of them to each other.

Papyrus and Undyne made friends so fast that the excitement was contagious. He seemed to look up to her a lot, for her ambition and determination… it reminded Puppy a little bit of him and Chara.

Sans and Asgore got along a lot better than he had expected. Sans melted into the chair as they had tea together, clearly relaxed by the atmosphere- Asgore laughed at Sans’ jokes more genuinely than he’d heard him laugh in a long time.

Watching so many different kinds of people bounce off of each other was fascinating to watch. Sometimes he was so enveloped by what was happening that he forgot he was there, as if he was simply an observer, invisible to everyone; This messed with events he set up more than once.
Undyne once got genuinely angry with him for listening in on a serious, private conversation between her and Asgore, and he’d taken out his knife then and there- he’d never forget the sequence of different expressions she made before everything went black.

He got caught so many times he was forced to find a shortcut; That time he’d started melting on Alphys when he found her real lab came to mind. He spent time with the Amalgamates, observing them, befriending them, and learning from them. At first, the unpredictability put him on edge… but slowly, he realized that they were the closest he had to someone understanding his situation, even if they couldn’t communicate very well… they must know what it’s like to have normal life sucked away like someone slowly peeling off a band-aid. It was calming to sit next to them, every breath echoing off the damp walls… the way that they shifted, bodies dribbling all over the floor, voices from several monsters overlapping…
It was like looking in a mirror.

As he learned to move like them, It soon became instinctual to slip behind a piece of furniture or underneath a door, as if he were nothing more than a very hyperactive puddle wearing clothes. It made it a lot easier to stay a spectator.


“It’s been awhile. How’s the lab been treating ya?”

“Fine- I mean- um, good! It’s good. It’s… nice to see you again.”

“You alright?”

“Yeah! …um… l-listen, Sans, I…”

“Yeah?”

A few too many seconds of silence.

“... Never mind, um, d-did you want a snack, or something?”

“Nah I’m fine, just wanted to see how things were going.”
A pause. Was Sans looking for something?
“Text me if ya need anything. Later.”

He could hear Alphys’ ragged breathing the moment the lab door closed.


Puppy had stayed with everyone for at least a year or two, individually or otherwise, to see how they grew. He had seen so many different monsters interact with each other- sometimes he pushed them together and watched, and sometimes he forced himself into the conversation to see if anything changed. For a while, he’d give people anything they wanted, even if they never told him themselves that they wanted it- but that usually backfired unless he was subtle about it.

He learned as many new skills as he could, and solved as many problems as possible. It was a shock to find a tape he’d never watched, or a book he’d never read, or a fact about someone he’d never heard before- it was so exciting.

He started to go through people’s possessions, reading their little reminder notes, their diaries, finding drawings they’d done as little kid; he asked Papyrus for the story behind every single object in his entire house, he read every conversation on Alphys’ phone and computer he could access and all of her social media posts, he started eating foods he knew he hated just to mix it up.

He drew flowers for Toriel with decades old crayons. Smiling, he showed her, and she gave him the same compliment she had the last twelve times. “I HATE YOU! WHY ARE YOU SO BORING!? DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, ANYTHING, I’LL-”

Toriel backed away, covering her mouth.

He felt his stomach drop as they met eyes.

She lowered her hands as he went still, mouth hanging open as if she were about to say something.

He ran away.

Deep into the Ruins.

Why did he feel like this? It had been so long… and she wouldn’t remember this anyway, so why? Why couldn’t he forget that sad look in her eyes? Why was he like this? How could he do that?

Was it right, what he was doing? All this time, these were people he spent time with, these were his friends and his family- how could he have forgotten that? The people that were so unflinchingly kind to him no matter what, and he was treating them like toys, like entertainment. He didn’t realize how tense he’d been, hanging on the edge of every word, every expression… he had almost hit her, just to see what she’d do- how could he even think of doing something like that?

It didn’t matter if they didn’t remember, and even though he couldn’t love them anymore... this… couldn’t be right. This wasn’t what he wanted, right? He wasn’t supposed to make this all about him, he was trying to make other people happy, wasn’t he?

He was trying to prevent mistakes, not to make even more. He had to do better… Chara wouldn’t want this.


No matter how comfortable everyone’s lives were, no matter how many amazing friends they were surrounded by, no matter how much encouragement he offered, everyone was still trapped underground.

He spent the equivalent of weeks debating with Asgore, both as Puppy and as Asriel. Asgore could easily take one of the human SOULs, go up to the surface, and take the SOUL of an old human that was dying anyway. Puppy would do it himself if he had the monster SOUL necessary.

No matter what, Asgore would not relent; Humans would be too afraid to reasonably negotiate, he insisted it could easily spark another war, and monsters wouldn’t survive this time. It was better to simply wait it out, he said- once the last human fell, the barrier would be broken and they could approach the humans as peacefully as possible.

Puppy, frankly, thought this was stupid. Not all humans were so senseless- Chara had proven that; there was always the chance that someone brave and smart was in charge. Puppy even told Asgore about his power to reset, and Asgore still insisted it was too risky.

Puppy resorted to trying to find where the SOULs were hidden himself, and when that failed, tried to trick Asgore into showing them to him. Still nothing.

Who knows when the next human would fall? It could be anywhere from several years to a century away.

Maybe it really was hopeless trying to make everyone happy; it wasn’t like they stayed happy for long anyway. Life was just a long series of problems that he tried so hard to fix.
Maybe life was supposed to be like that, and this whole thing was a pointless endeavor.
It wasn’t like Alphys knew he’d end up like this, and Chara had been dead for almost 100 years- was any of them even left? He missed them, of course, but… if they weren’t there to see it at all, would they care if he did some bad things? He was disgusted with himself for reasoning through it like that, but… he wondered.


Puppy kept going just as he had before. Solving the problems of his friends, watching them smile at him and instinctually smiling back. He found every alternative to every interaction he could think of, making gifts for people and telling them it was from someone they liked (or hated), and observing the butterfly effect that followed.

He was ruder than he had been before. Sometimes he took things that didn’t belong to him, or spoke far more bluntly than he needed to.
He even played pranks once in a while- nothing that would cause permanent harm of course, but it was fun to see how differently one reacted to being fooled compared to another.

It reminded him of playing with Chara, and the rush as they ran from angry adults, giggling amongst themselves at the successful scheme.
The only difference is that warm feeling of companionship never came, only a twisted and empty imitation of it

Chara.

He couldn’t stop wondering about them. They were the only one he didn’t understand extensively, now.

Papyrus cried at one of the pranks he pulled, and there was a sickening jump of fascination in his stomach at the unexpected reaction.

Almost magnetically, the feeling of horror drew him towards the Ruins. Toriel comforted him as she always did, and he was left feeling like he truly didn’t deserve it anymore.

He found himself at Chara’s grave, for the first time in a long time.

He sat atop the flowers, picking one and twiddling it between his fingers.

“What do you think of me now, Chara? I wish you could tell me. I wish I could hear your voice again. I wish I could see your face again. I wish I could hold you again.”

He thought of their laugh, and wanted to scream. Everything hurt so badly he wanted to turn himself inside out.

What if they could hear him down there but they just couldn’t speak? What if they were still alive? What if they-

His hands uprooted flowers, hurling dirt and roots behind him. What if they couldn’t breathe? What if they were awake under there all this time?

He hit something solid.

He dug faster.

Chara’s skull poked out of the dirt.
Asriel held it.

Warmth poured down his face from the fur on his chin. Drops of him landed on their skeleton.

He laid atop their bones, choking on himself as he seeped into the dirt.
This was the closest he could ever be to them anymore. He would never see them again. He could never talk with them again. This was all that was left. There was nothing left. They weren’t left. They were gone. Chara was dead. Chara was gone. They were never coming back. Chara would never come back. Chara couldn’t come back.

Asriel wrapped himself around their remains, and he cried.


Asriel laid in the royal garden.

He would never have a SOUL again- he had waited to see what Alphys could do, and she accomplished nothing useful… not soon enough, at least.

He couldn’t break the barrier either.
He couldn’t bring Chara back.
He couldn’t keep everyone happy, not forever.
He couldn’t make everything perfect after all.

No one would come and magically save him from all of this.

And he didn’t want to die.

So…

What was left?

Asriel opened his eyes.

What would happen if he hurt someone?

What would happen if he killed someone?


Clean, cold air filled his lungs, replacing the stifling heat of Hotland.

The lab doors closed behind him.

Silence. Darkness. Where was she?

The “bathroom” door opened, and the lights turned on.

Alphys blinked at him, no recognition in her eyes.

“Howdy! Sorry to barge in, I’m…”
“... um… well…”

Puppy couldn’t make himself smile anymore. He fidgeted with his paws, staring at the floor.
How could he even do this? Where was he supposed to start? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. He didn’t have to do this. It wasn’t like she did it on purpose.

“Uh! ...A-are you okay??”

Alphys was standing right in front of him. They met eyes.

She looked so nervous, she could barely keep looking at him for more than a few seconds.

“I know what you did,” It poured out, involuntary.

“Wh- What are you t-t-talking about!” Alphys took a step back, giggling uncomfortably, clearly trying to disguise panic.

Asriel stepped closer, letting his face form into a more familiar shape, reaching for the handle tucked into his waistband.

She almost fell backwards, clutching her chest, blinking as if it could make him disappear.

He shoved her over, climbing on top of her, one hand clutching her throat and the other clenching his kitchen knife.

She struggled under his hold, gasping, pushing her hand under him, trying to reach the phone in her pocket.

He was shaking. He couldn’t help it. She wasn’t even apologizing this time, she just wanted to live. That desperation in her eyes… maybe he should…

She got her phone. She was dialing, shrieking at the top of her lungs, telling him to stop.

He jammed his knife into her side. He did it again. “I’m sorry,” He didn’t stop, he couldn’t stop.

She turned to dust beneath him.

How long ago had she stopped screaming? How long ago had she stopped moving?

Asriel looked down at himself. Dust covered him. He dropped the knife- it landed softly on her coat.

He inhaled sharply, eyes burning- her remains shot down his windpipe, he turned away, coughing, choking, tears wetting his dirty fur.

He was going to be sick. He scrambled for the knife, slipping all over her, ramming it through his throat.


He woke up screaming.
He shrieked, he bawled, melting and crying all over the flowers.

Even once his voice was guttural he hyperventilated, hiccuping, gasping, gagging as if something was still violating his insides.

He scratched at his throat as if tearing it open would solve this, his own claws cutting through the skin underneath his fur.

Asriel swallowed tears, then swallowed air.

The stinging of his wounds gave him pause, and slowly, he could breathe again.

His paws gripped at the flowerbed in the darkness, pulling petals and ripping leaves.

He laid on his side. He didn’t want to move anymore.

He couldn’t hurt anyone anymore if he was dead, and he deserved it; But he knew he could never make himself do it, not for one final time. Not if he could never come back.

Not when there were still new things to see.

Even if they were horrible, disgusting things.

They were all he had left.

Chapter Text

He had gone in too far too fast.
He still wanted to cry, thinking about what he’d done, but the idea of going back to what he used to be like now sounded like a living hell; he could never pretend to be happy without a SOUL again, and he refused to- he had already seen everybody at their happiest, and they would never remember anything, so…
Was there a point in trying to be nice anymore? Should there be a point? He had never needed one before, but that was when he could be happy, too.

Asriel wondered how long it would be before he could kill again. Not killing was the whole reason he got into this mess, wasn’t it? Even if the humans in that village were terrible people… he couldn’t stand the idea of causing them pain, there was always the chance that they could become better people, right? Alphys, too- she wasn’t the reason for all of this, she was never the reason, she had been striving for freedom just like everyone else. He couldn’t forget her screaming, and her visceral need to survive.

He was too tired to have another breakdown. God, he hated himself. He looked at his paws, flexing them. Did anyone truly deserve to be hurt? How far did someone need to go before they were unforgivable, and had to be punished for their sins?

He had been raised under the morals of love and nurturing, and to treat everyone like a friend no matter what. Every monster was your family when you were supposed to become king. No monster had treated him the same way, though, they treated him like he was strange and unpleasant and didn’t belong there. Asgore especially had always preached love and forgiveness and peace… what a hypocrite; he wondered if he still believed those things, and whether he thought child murder was forgivable.

Was Asgore all that different from the humans in the first place?
He remembered Chara yelling at him through their shared mind; He remembered their feelings of overwhelming wrath and desire to see them all suffer. What had those humans done to Chara? They had never talked about it in detail, but… they had expressed to him how much they hated being human, because in their experience, all humans were rotten and disgusting.
He was curious; they probably had a very good reason to feel that way, and it had been his childish naivete that had torn them both apart.

And… it had felt kind of nice to take out his frustration on someone else, especially the one that made him like this in the first place- the longer that he dedicated his time to making other people happy the more it irritated him that he could never feel the same way. All that work that he’d gone to, all those years he spent listening to them, encouraging them, caring about them… and it meant nothing, nothing at all; it wouldn’t matter, and it wouldn’t last, that was just how life in the Underground worked and he hated it.

This same conflict had gripped him over and over and over. He was supposed to be a good person, doing good things.
He didn’t want to get in trouble for doing bad things. He didn’t want to be vilified for his mistakes, but the reason he was like this was a mistake in itself. He was a mistake… and who was judging? If someone, some kind of god was watching him, they would have stepped in long ago, wouldn’t they? Before all of these bad things happened, including the things that he had done himself. Why let him kill? Why let Alphys revive him? Why let Chara kill themselves? Why let Chara get so miserable? Heck, why let monsters be sealed underground at all?
If he was the only one making choices anymore...
He was the closest thing to a god the Underground had.


He decided to seek out Toriel, and beheld her motherly breakdown; he had memorized every single breath and little movement, he must have witnessed this hundreds of times.

Toriel set the food down on the table and sat.

“You know, I don’t have a SOUL anymore.”

“Pardon?” She set down her fork, a sudden caution washing over her face.

“I’m SOULless! I can’t feel love anymore. And I have this power where I can go back in time if I die.”

She suddenly looked confident this was a cruel prank, manipulating her with her own grief.

He kept going. “I’ve met you so many times that I’ve lost count, Mom. I know more about you now than I ever did while I was alive.”

She scanned his face for a way to confirm his identity, trying to process all of this. “Are you not alive?”

“I am. But I’m not a monster anymore without a SOUL. I can do this,” He shaped his face into her own. “See?” he spoke in her voice.

She jumped up from her chair, backing away a couple of steps, then taking one forward, frowning, stance defensive. “Are you my son?”

Asriel felt something stir in his chest at the stern unfamiliar look- it was typical to be treated like a stranger as Puppy, but to glimpse his own mother staring at him like that when using his real name was…
“...Yes,” He spoke in his own voice, with his own face. “I got made fun of at school, so you hired tutors instead. When I was little I loved eating your makeup and I chewed on all my sweaters. Me and Chara drew all over the walls with crayons more than once, and we used to eat all the pie together before you or Dad could have any,” his voice began to waver, “and it made you so mad.”

Toriel softened the longer than he spoke, and once he was done, she crouched next to his seat.
“What has happened to you? How long has it been like this?”

Laughter bubbled from his throat, far louder and harder than he meant it to. “I don’t know,” his hands trembled. “It’s been so long… too long… decades.
“I know everyone in the entire Underground. I know everything about all of them… almost.”
“I’m not supposed to be alive, I know that, I know I shouldn’t, but-” his voice cracked. “I don’t wanna die. Not… not for real,” He looked right at her.
“Don’t you think I’m a coward, mommy? Aren’t I pathetic?” She was already hugging him before he closed his mouth. He felt warmth from her face- she must be crying.

“Nobody deserves this, Asriel,” Her voice shook, “You deserve happiness, and love, and life. You died so young, Asriel… so young.”
She sniffled loudly, right in his ear. “If you truly are able to ‘go back’... if you do not do it again, could you not have a normal life? A better life, at the very least. I will take care of you- I always will, even if things are not quite what they once were.”

She smelled like home, and comfort, and safety. He could feel her warm, soft, smiling face against the side of his own.

“I killed someone yesterday.”

She went stiff.

“There’s a new royal scientist, and I killed her.”

She backed away, and looked at him with what he could only describe as betrayal. He felt nothing.
“She’s alive right now, but she wasn’t before I ‘went back’. I killed her with a knife, just to see what would happen. I can still remember what it felt like to have dust on my face.”

He had never seen Toriel make that face.

“Why?” She murmured, from across the room.

He felt a smile creeping up his cheeks, the first genuine one in a very long time.
“It was the only thing I had never done before. There’s nowhere else to go. I can’t stop- maybe I don't even want to stop, haha.”
“If I stop now, I’ll never know what it’s like. I have to know what it’s like.”
“Trying to live a normal life now would be hopeless after the things that I’ve seen. ”

She was sniffling again, hints of hurt pulling at her brows.

“It’s okay. I already know I’ll never be the same- nothing will ever be the same. And you won’t remember anything once I’m gone. I’ll be the same memory of your dead son I always was.” Maybe it was always supposed to be like this. Seeing her gape at him with complete horror, hearing her weep in that disoriented way… that glint of panic in her eyes when she realized if he was telling the truth then any moment now, she would never know this had happened, and she couldn’t stop him.
It was so far from anything he had ever seen before, not knowing what would come next… it was exciting- he could do whatever he wanted right now, and no matter what, it would never be familiar.

He had never felt anything this strongly, not since he’d been empty.

Suddenly, with a choked sound, she spoke. “You must be lying. This cannot be real. Surely, you must be a nightmare,” She pinched the back of her hand; nothing happened.

She watched him with a look of desperation in her eyes. He couldn’t stop smiling.

Stop looking at me like that.” The authority in her voice fizzled out in the middle of the sentence.

Asriel lurched forward in his seat.
“Make me.”

A flash of hot light, and a tingling sensation; he blinked.
He was in the blackness.

Amazing.
No one else had ever killed him before.


To be in such unknown territory, to tread the uncharted… to not know what laid ahead.... he should have done this a long time ago. Who cared if he was only doing it for himself? And if they did, he could just erase their memory of it.

Who should his next target be? Toriel? No, not yet.
Alphys? No, too soon.
Asgore? He was strong, but… if he fought him looking like this…
Anticipation washed over him.


He woke Asgore in the middle of the night, just like the first time.

“I had a bad dream, daddy.”

Wordlessly, Asgore picked him up and set him onto his lap, holding him and rocking; the bed creaked slightly, in rhythm of his movements. He felt the knife tucked into his waistband scraping against his own leg.

Asriel didn’t know what to say. In all the resets, this had never happened before… Dad used to do this when he was really little, before he had even met Chara…
He had nightmares a lot at that age, and when he went into the living room, Asgore was usually there, no matter how late at night it was. He remembered being rocked to sleep in front of the fire, kicking in his little footie pajamas, Dad’s soft voice rumbling in his chest as he told a bedtime story.
No matter how frantic and loud he was, Dad could always calm him down. It was like magic.

He was so soft and warm… it would take a lot of strength to escape from his arms…
He’d do what he wanted to later… he didn’t want to move just yet.


Asriel woke up in his own bed. Asgore must have carried him there, just like he always used to. The knife was still in his waistband.

Asgore was having tea at the dinner table; he went to pour another cup, and when he came back, set an additional one down in front of Asriel. Golden flower tea… Chara had always loved this kind.

Asgore smiled at him. Asriel frowned.

“I came here to kill you,” He couldn’t manage to sound threatening.

“I know,” Asgore still hadn’t stopped smiling.

“How?”

“The look in your eyes,” He sipped, “I’ve seen it so many times before...”
“I will not stop you if you still want to. I don’t want to fight you.”

Asriel was stunned. He thought he could get him to break emotionally, like Toriel had, but here he was, sipping tea and offering to stay still and be murdered. Could it be a trick? No, Asgore had never been good at lying.

“Why? Do you like, want to die?”

Asgore said nothing, but the look he gave him was knowing. Too knowing.

Asriel sighed- looks like they had something in common. They both drank in silence for a few minutes.

“I have missed you, my son.” Asgore spoke up first.
“Things are… different now, I can tell, but… if you ever need someone to talk to, if I can ever help, even the smallest little bit… please, don’t hesitate to come see me. Even if you have killed me before, I will not mind.”

Asriel couldn’t help but laugh.

“What is it?”

“You’ve told me that before.”

“Ah… still. I will always be here, no matter what it is you’d like to talk about.”

Asriel drank the last of his tea, setting down the cup on it’s side, watching the couple of drops that remained run down onto the table. “I still want to kill you.”

“I thought so. Would you like to go to the garden first? The air is much fresher there.”

“Sure, old man.”


Asriel rode on the top of his head, holding onto his horns and leaning against them. He could hear birds from the Surface, and the sun warmed his fur. Asgore lowered himself next to the throne, and he climbed down, leaning back in it. The sun made him feel sleepy so early in the morning.

“If it’s alright to ask, have you ever killed anyone before?” Asgore had started watering the flowers.

“Only once,” Asriel opened just one of his eyes, “It was Alphys.”

“Really? Why’s that?”

“She’s the reason I’m ‘different’ now. SOUL experiments and all that,” he yawned.

Asgore blinked, quickly looking away with tense shoulders. “Ah...”
“I’m the one who asked her to experiment, you know.” There was a gentle patter as the water hit the petals.

“Yeah, but not on me. Said she did it to make you happy, and that was her decision to mess with dust.”

“What happened to the other monsters?”

“Do you really wanna know?”

Asgore looked at him, opened his mouth, then closed it, looking away. For a moment, the world was nothing but singing birds, the sound of a breeze, and Asgore’s guilt-filled eyes.
“Perhaps we should get to the matter at hand.”
“Will the flowers die when I’m gone? Does it work like that? Well… maybe it doesn’t really matter.”

“Nothing really matters anymore,” Asriel smiled, got up, took out the knife and wiped a few smudges away with his sweater.

“Should I just stand here?”

“Yeah, you aren’t wearing your armor anyway.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Are you ready?”

“I’m ready.”

He stabbed him in the gut, doubt creeping in the back of his mind- no, hesitating wasn’t necessary anymore; he threw his arm back and kept stabbing, forcing himself to put strength into it. A tingle went up his spine at the sight of open wounds.

Asgore failed to stifle a wheeze, so he looked up at his face; he was gritting his teeth and his brows were scrunched up, but he was smiling reassuringly, like it would make this easier for him. Funny.

Asriel climbed up him and punctured his chest twice, twisting the knife hard. Asgore winced, inhaling sharply, and fell to his knees, causing Asriel to slip, back hitting the ground.

“Sorry,” Asgore spoke with strain, reaching to help his son up but quickly realizing he couldn’t manage that.

Asriel dusted himself off, raising the knife in preparation for another strike, “It was nice to have tea with you again.” It was a strange feeling to see the king of all monsters kneeling in front of a dead prince.

There was relief in his eyes. He smiled. “...Goodbye.”

“See you later.”

He lost himself in the rush of it all, barely noticing as labored breathing turned to silence, lunging forward at nothing and losing his balance. He fell into the pile of dust, quickly covering his nose and mouth as it flew into the air around him. He breathed heavily through the fabric of his sweater.

Something caught in his throat. That doubt was disappearing, like he’d done something right. It spread throughout his body, fresh like a glass of water. He felt proud, but… that feeling… it only made him more thirsty.

So this was what it was like.

He wanted to feel it more.

Asriel SAVED.

Chapter Text

Asriel tried to stay still and plan out what to do next, but he couldn't sit still. He decided to have some fun.
He threw everything in Asgore’s home all over the floor, throwing bedding everywhere, tearing apart Asgore’s diary, and getting behind the bookshelves and closets and pushing them over. He threw pots until they shattered, ripping the petals and stems into little pieces with his teeth and claws, grabbing handfuls of dirt and throwing it all over the walls and the carpets. He took a frying pan from the kitchen and smashed all the lights and the picture frames. He banged the dining chairs against the table and the walls over and over until everything was cracked and he was very tired.

He ripped away loose bits of the chairs and table and shoved them into the oven with his balled-up bedsheets and all the shreds of paper he could find. The oven door wouldn't shut all the way, but it didn’t matter. Just as he was turning on the oven, he realized he could hear footsteps and rubble shifting.

His first instinct was to grab his knife; Instead he sat on the floor, dusting his sweater off and twisting his body so his splintered, glass-stuck limbs were fully visible.

Undyne’s figure filled the archway. Her expression was indescribable as she scanned him. He put on the best scared face he could manage, fake tears filling his eyes.

“...Asriel?” She slowly reached out a hand, coming closer.

Crap, he forgot about his face. Struggling not to break the act, he shrank downward, pressing his back against the cabinets. “Wh-who are you!?”

Quickly, she took a step back, swallowing and forcing a smile despite the uncertainty in her eyes. “It’s ok, little guy, I’m a friend. I won’t hurt you.”
She leaned down a little, putting her hands on her thighs, trying to reach his eye level. “Are you ok? What happened?”

“I…” Asriel couldn’t come up with anything that made sense on the spot, he dropped the frantic look but tried his best to still look innocent. “Why did you come here?”

“Huh? Well… I tried calling Asgore last night but he didn’t answer me. I tried again this morning, and he STILL didn’t answer, so.“
“I dunno, he usually calls in the morning, and I… had a bad feeling.”
“And now his house looks worse than the dump, ha ha! He’s ok, right?”

She was sweating, still forcing a smile, and her eyes were filled with confusion and anxiety. He wanted to laugh.

He felt her eyes drift to the dust, clearly visible on black pants. Her expression dropped. Damn it. Her mouth open, eyes still locked to the dust, he ran- she stuck a hand out to stop him, and he melted around it, skidding on the dirty floor as he turned to run out and SAVE.

She chased him, standing in the doorway, watching as he reached out and tapped the air. “HEY! What’s with you?? Why won’t you talk to me? WHERE is Asgore and why do you look like his dead son???”

“Because I am his dead son.” He couldn’t hold back his smile anymore.

“What!? He’s been dead for like a hundred years! Is this some kind of elaborate prank!? Because it definitely isn’t funny!”

“I think it’s pretty funny.”

Magic formed into a spear in Undyne’s hand; she directed it at him.

“Tell me where Asgore is. Now.”

He hadn’t had a weapon pointed at him since he was shot to death. He stared at her blankly, smile slowly splitting his face open once he processed her words. He remembered all the gossip he’d heard about Asgore and Undyne, and how the king seemed at ease around her, like he finally had a child of his own again.

Asriel gestured to the dust on his pants.

The spear whizzed by his ear, cracking the ground next to him.

“Prove it. Show me where he died.”

He blinked. From all people, he’d expected impulsive violence from her, but he complied, shrugging and leading her to the throne room, both of them silent the whole walk there.

He SAVED right outside the entrance, but she ran in before he did, falling to her knees in front of his dust scattered amongst the flowers. Asriel wondered if that’s what Asgore had done in front of his dust.

Taking out his knife, he walked up behind her, raising it above his head.

Undyne turned and grabbed his wrist as the knife made contact, barely breaking skin. Tears were streaming down her face, teeth bared like a beast, and he was reminded that she was only a teenager.

“Did you do this?”
Asriel realized his mouth was hanging open, he closed it, trying to think of something to say, but couldn’t come up with anything sufficiently dramatic.
“Yeah. I killed him.”

A spear- he moved just in time for it to tear right through his sweater and nothing else.

”Why?” She was sobbing hysterically, fingers gripping the flowerbed through her desperate gasps for breath. “Why would you do that to someone like HIM?” She was trying to say more, but it just turned into agonized screaming.

If he tried to attack her now she’d probably rip him to shreds, he didn’t know that much about fighting, maybe he should let her so he can try again?

“Because I felt like it.”

She looked up so fast he thought her neck might snap. Her eyes glittered with fury like little fires in her head.

“Killed him, I mean. I killed him because I wanted to know what it felt like. And you know what? It felt pretty good.”

A shower of spears.

LOAD.

Undyne cried all over again. She looked so lonely and small from here.
That’s right… Asgore was all she really had in the beginning, wasn’t it? No other friends… no other family… just the king, and he’d torn that away from her.
He knew what it was like to be lonely. It felt good to make other people feel even a sliver of the pain he’d felt.

“Asgore let me kill him, you know.”

She whipped her head around, brows angry, eyes vulnerable, brushing the hair away from her eyes, trying to control her tears and failing miserably.

“He told me he wanted to die. I saw no reason to deny him that wish.”

“Why should I believe you? You’re a murderer!”

“Yeah... I guess I am. Huh.”
“... Look. None of this really matters anyway. The Underground was already hopeless and stained with the blood of innocent little children, everyone is gonna die down here sad and alone in the dark; and even if they don’t? Even if they get to the surface? The humans will kill us all anyway. Mind as well go with a little dignity left, right?”

“Asgore deserved better than to be slaughtered by a little shitstain like you.”

“Woah! Dear old Dad wouldn’t appreciate that kind of language over his remains. And you know he wouldn’t want us fighting either, no matter how much you hate me!”

She grit her teeth at the realization that he was right, tightening her hands into fists as she gazed over the dusty petals.
“Why are you doing this? If you’re telling the truth, and he did want to die… you’re not… that’s not something you can just do.

“Why not?”

She rose to her feet, pointing in his face, hands shaking. “He’s the king! We’re gonna have to find a new ruler all because of you! You’re a monster too! Don’t you care, at all?” Undyne hiccuped like a little kid, struggling to wipe her eyes.

Asriel just smiled.

“You’re like, ten! I can’t just kill you! You look like you need serious therapy!”

“You could kill me with a couple flicks of your wrist. Why don’t you? I know that you want to.”

Undyne put a hand to her forehead, sighing. “Because you can do better. Everyone can be good, even someone like you.

He didn’t expect that kind of self-control from someone like her. She must have learned this from Asgore, it’s the kind of thing he would say; Funny, that she was still praising him.
“I’d have to try, though.”

“What?”

“Even if everyone can be good, they have to want to first.”

She tensed, as if visibly restraining herself from throttling him.
“... Doesn’t everyone want to be a good person, deep down?”

“That doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve already been a good person.”

“What the hell does that even mean??

“I’m sick of being nice. The only thing you can do to help me is let me kill you.”

Her lip curled, taking a step back like he was infected with something.
“I… I can’t do that. I have a future, so do y-”

“Then you can’t help me.”
He spoke as he removed the knife from his waistband, yawning as he directed it at himself.

Undyne lurched forward, grabbing his wrist, dragging them both down, the knife tearing at his stomach as he hit the flowerbed. Undyne got up, pulling him by the wrist she was still holding, pressing the knife further into the flowerbed with her foot, panic quickly melting to dread when she saw his shredded sweater.

“Why would you... “ Her gaze lingered on the wound, fins drooping as she looked him in the eye, lowering him to the ground.
“Why didn’t you try to attack me first?”

“I’ve seen you fight. It would be a waste of my time.”

“When have you seen me fight? I’ve never met you before, man!!”

“I have no reason to explain this to you. Can I have my knife back?”

“So you can kill yourself?? No!

“Ugh. Please?” He grimaced, making grabby hands in the vague direction of her feet.

“Saying it more than once doesn’t help!”

“Why do you even care if I kill myself? I like, killed your dad.”

“Isn’t he your dad too??”

“Yeah. And?”

“You killed your dad!” She gestured frantically.

“What’s your point?”

At this point Undyne just dragged her hands down her face, groaning in a way that was, in Asriel’s opinion, more dramatic than necessary.

“Look,” Asriel crossed his arms, sighing. “You’re confused, right? Why the king’s dead son came back and killed him? Well,”

Undyne was scowling, but there was a glint of curiosity in her eyes.

“I was revived by an immoral science experiment, I have no SOUL, and when I kill myself I go back in time! When I go back the king won’t be dead anymore, yaaay! Will you give me the knife back now?” He held out his paw.

“I told you, no, I can’t becau-”

“Because that’s what Dear Old Daddy says, uh-huh? Yeah? Am I right?”

Undyne’s fists shook.
His insides jolted with a joyful anticipation. He wanted to laugh and cry all at once; He swallowed.

She looked down at him with restraint, visibly locking away every layer of grief and impulsive rage one by one as her eyes slowly softened and she closed her lips over her teeth.

“Kill me.”

Undyne’s expression shattered with the silence. “What?

“Don’t act stupid, you heard what I said. If you won’t let me kill myself, you do it.”

“No-”

Undyne made a choking sound as he grabbed her by the neck with arms longer than her entire body.
“DO IT, YOU FUCKING COWARD.”

Tears welled up in her eyes as she grabbed and pulled. He wrapped them around tighter, cackles ripping through him as she gasped for air.
“I’ve heard enough. Kill me now, or you die right here.”

Nothing.

“You know…" A hand wrapped back around to his face, stroking his chin in thought. "If you’re dead… nobody will be left to protect-”

Magic ripped through his head as the last syllable left him. He grinned with what remained of his mouth.
“Good job.”

Her disgusted, desperate gagging was the last thing he heard.

Chapter Text

Asriel didn’t understand what a name meant anymore. Who was Asriel Dreemurr? Who was Puppy? Abstractions felt more accurate. Liar; killer; demon.
God.

He wondered if his entire life had led up to this. Formless, faceless...
Immortal.

It felt inevitable.

How had he ever been a person before all of this? What was he like? How had he spoken? Polite, rude, loud, quiet… he tried to imagine it.
Nothing fit. Nothing stuck.
The more he reset, the more he forgot. The more he accomplished, the more he lost.
Did he even look like this, at the beginning? It felt… wrong; Off-kilter. No matter how many times he tried, he couldn’t line things up; Perpetually uneven.
He sounded like Chara right now. He wondered if there was any of them left in him. He hoped so. He missed them.
He missed them.
They would understand this. They would understand him. They’re so smart, they would understand everything.

He wanted them back.

It wasn’t fair, why couldn’t he have them with him? Who cared about punishment anymore? Chara was all he wanted now; He could never get bored of them. He didn’t care if it was selfish. Nobody was there to care about his atonement anymore, only puppets, flat sheets of paper masquerading as his friends and family. There was never anyone else in control, nobody else watching.
The only god here was him.

He didn’t have parents. He didn’t have friends. He didn’t have family.
Nobody existed. Nobody else.
Chara needed to be real again, alive again, here again, holding his hand and laughing with him.

If Chara was here, everything would be perfect. He would have fun again. They would be gods, together. They would destroy everything over and over again, in this horrible world that did horrible things to them. In this prison that only existed to contain their power.

He wanted to hug them again. He wanted to curl up in the garden past their bedtime and watch them breathe while they slept. To hear their warm heart beat in the cold silence.

It wasn’t fair.
They deserved better than to be dead.
He deserved better than to be feeling like this.

He wondered if he let himself die if he could see Chara again.
No… not when he wasn’t sure.
If he worked hard enough in this life, he could see them again, he could bring them back, he could make them smile again.
One day.
He would do it.


He practiced with Undyne like he had a few times before. She was the best fighter in the underground that wasn’t old and crusty, if anyone could make him feel powerful, it was her!
Over and over. Over and over. Swipe after swipe, stab after stab, he HATED having to act normal for her. That look of sympathy she gave him when he acted all cute made him long for the day he could snap her fucking neck.

He almost got her once; that look of shock and dread at his enthusiasm bored a smile into his face. If hard work let him surprise Undyne? He could do... anything. He could get rid of ANYBODY that he wanted! He couldn’t stop thinking about it. Anyone in the entire Underground, dead with a few flicks of his wrist. It made him so happy that he wanted to scream.

Everyone would get predictable once he’d seen them fighting for their life a million times.
All that he needed was practice. Time and DETERMINATION.
He had plenty of those.


He had to break the monotony once in a while so he didn’t completely lose control of himself.

Sitting around with the skeletons, he thought back to that time he had strangled Undyne so she’d kill him. How far could his morphing powers go, he wondered- he could squeeze a neck, sure, but...

He looked over at Sans. Sans had been looking after him for a while now… seemed like he was finally dozing off…

He snaked his arm to the other side of the room and reached for Sans’ wrist.
He pulled as hard as he could.

Sans screamed.

Asriel swore he saw Sans’ arm pulled from it’s socket, but he couldn’t be sure, because he’d been obliterated by a blast of magic before he could blink.
He’d only been killed by Sans a few times before. It felt… Amazing. Something he’d felt that few times before. Something that FRESH.
Sans yelling and crying was even better. Working Sans up like that was hard, but when he did? It was the most satisfying thing.

He wanted to hear it again. He wanted more.

He made friends with Papyrus again, like he always did. Papyrus looked up to the Royal Guard so much, so when he offered to “fight” with him, he was ecstatic.
An easy way to test his power.

Papyrus found Asriel’s flexibility fun and cool upon discovery, which made things even easier than they already were, which was already pretty easy.
Playing humans and monsters slowly got more intense, until Papyrus was starting to look… uncomfortable.

Asriel dragged Papyrus through the snow by one of his feet, giggling his butt off.
Papyrus’ polite requests that he stop soon turned into crying, and he was trying to get Asriel’s hand off his ankle.
Asriel’s other hand grabbed his wrist and yanked it away.

That was when he realized.

He stopped, creeping in slower this time, moving Papyrus’ fingers with his own. He moulded it along Papyrus’ palm and his knuckles, until amorphous white substance covered Papyrus’ entire hand.
He willed Papyrus to wiggle his fingers.
It worked. He smiled.

Papyrus was saying something to him, but he didn’t care enough to pay attention.

Asriel started to cover Papyrus’ arm, it sounded like he was telling him to stop again, like he was crying again.
Ooze went over Papyrus’ T-shirt, gluing his clothes to his bones. He secured Papyrus’ other arm, then a leg. He was getting louder, and trying harder to move, but it didn’t matter anymore.
Once he got the other leg, he looked Papyrus in the face, and the expression was beautiful; something right in between desperate hope that someone would help him and acceptance of his own incapability to escape.

Asriel enveloped his neck, watching the tears go down Papyrus’ cheeks as he covered his jaw and then filled his mouth.

He would never forget the expression as he was about to cover his eyes.

Complete silence as he covered his forehead, he basked in it for a moment, this feeling was soothing.

The second that the top of his skull was gone, he heard a cry, and everything went black.

The reset room. Weird.
He’d died. It stung in a way he had never felt before, and he was left fascinated.
It wasn’t Sans’ magic, then, so it must have been… Papyrus himself. It had obliterated him even worse than Sans’ had.
Amazing.

Something new.

Chapter Text

Fighting Papyrus was one of the best things he had done in a while. In and out of his life, off and on, life and death. Papyrus didn’t like to hurt people; It made it so much better.

Guilt stung at the corners of Papyrus’ mouth as Asriel cried louder and louder.
“You’re so mean! I asked you nicely a-and you still won’t do it!”

“I-I don’t want to! You’re my friend!”

“No you aren’t. If you were really my friend then you’d do it!”

“I don’t want to hurt you…”

“I won’t stop crying until you do it!”

“But why? Why would you want that? I don’t want you to be-”

“Shut. Up.”

“But-”

“If you don’t do it right now I’ll break your ribcage from the inside.”

The dawning horror on his face was delicious. His shoulders sunk, his hands were even shaking.
“I-” Tears rimmed his eye-sockets, “I won’t-”

He hadn’t started fighting back until both of his legs were broken, his arms were twisted behind his back, and he was scream-crying; Ridiculous. They were essentially the same age and all he did was snivel like a baby and ask why they couldn’t be friends. He didn’t used to be like this, did he? Ew.

He smashed Toriel’s head against the wall until she was mangled and dusty. He looked down at the torn pile of dirty clothes and felt nothing.

He was starting to get tired of this. Could he get tired of this? It was the ultimate rebellion, the ultimate defilement of the person he was supposed to be, and even that was getting stale. Murder was gettng stale. He was ridiculous. This was ridiculous. The only reason he was still alive was because he was afraid, he was biding time, waiting for something to make it easier not to die.

It was the same thing over and over, like rewinding a tape and playing it again from the beginning, until it was nothing but static. Boredom. Screams. Euphoria. Regret. Boredom.
Only the most twisted and complex scenarios excited him anymore, and even those were drained dry soon enough. He’d seen everyone cry, he’d seen everyone scream, he’d heard everyone beg for mercy.

Combat was too easy now. He knew Undyne’s techniques inside and out.

Dying was boring. Living was boring. Peace was boring. Fighting was boring. Existing was boring.

Too bad he couldn’t do more with this. Introduce new characters like the Underground was a storybook he wrote, clay to mold to his liking, then he’d be having so much fun he’d never even think about stupid things like this.
Power was the solution, huh? Of course it was. All that he was and he still couldn’t do as much as he wanted. Typical.
It was never enough.


“Why do you keep doing this.”
Something Asriel had heard many times, but never from Sans.

“Bored,” Asriel smiled down at him.

“Still, huh. After all this… Wow.”
Sans put his head in his hands.
“It’s, uh, been a pretty long time, hasn’t it? Why don’t you just… give up.”

“Still things to do. Still things I haven’t heard. Haven’t heard you say any of this before.”

“Do you… need to see all of it? Wouldn’t it be easier to just let go?”

“I don’t need to. But I can.”

“... Huh.”

Silence.

“How many times d’ya think it’s been? Come on. Guess.”

“Nah.”

“Do it.”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Don’t feel like it.”

Ugh.
Well, he’d change his mind eventually.

Asriel bashed his own head against the doorknob until he was dead.
RESET.

The same morning began again.
He didn’t actually know how many times it had been. But that didn’t really matter.

Sans looked at Asriel with disappointment in his eyes.


Asriel quickly discovered just how layered Sans really was. No matter how long and hard he peeled there was eventually another leak. It wasn’t fun, but it was challenging, and that was enough for him. It was something.

He was a lot more accepting of “possession” than Papyrus was, that’s for sure. He knew how to cooperate… which meant they had a lot of fun adventures together- fun for Asriel, anyway.

He had a breaking point, though, which was fascinating to watch; Finally pissed him off enough that he started fighting back for real, with actual effort put in, and it was a sight to behold. Amazing, and far more infuriating and exhausting than anything else in his entire infinite life.

It must have been years equivalent of on and off battle before he beat Sans fair and square.
It was depressing when even fighting Sans was child’s play.
Just another thing blending into the everything.

Asgore still never fought him no matter what form Asriel took or how much taunting he did. Whether he somehow knew who he really was or was just wimpy and sad and stupid, he never figured out.
He never did figure out how to get to those human SOULs; the only thing left, the road to more power, protected by the King to his hundreds of graves; The one who could never stand up for himself, the coward, keeping him trapped down here with the rest of the dirt. It was stupid.

Maybe Sans was right… for once.
He was… getting tired of all this.
These places.
These people.
Everything.

It felt good to have everyone within his grasp, their fates beneath the push of a button- and he didn’t wanna die, but…
Keeping a straight face while seeing the same things over and over again just to get to something new felt like it was killing him anyway. Rotting him from the inside.
Maybe he’d get a chance to do something different for once if he just… stopped for a while. Another human could fall, he could take their SOUL, bring Chara back, and he could make everything up to them by finishing what they started. They’d both be gods.
That would be nice.

He’d taken the lowest blows imaginable to Asgore and he still wouldn’t tell his secrets.
The second permanent failure he’d experienced.

He’d lean back in his seat and experience permanence again.

After all…
He didn’t have anything better to do.