There was a emptiness that filled him as he rode next to his brother in the car. To be fair, it was a emptiness that filled not only himself but the others as well. It was a hard thing to avoid but they did their best to avoid the mistakes that had lead them to that point. Well, at least the others did. There was nothing that could have made him regret his decision upon bringing the child home from her failed suicide attempt. No, the only thing he regretted was not easing the others into it as elegantly as he could have. Perhaps it would have stopped things from ending as they did. His goal was to make sure the child knew she was loved, force her to see that she wasn't alone... Instead she found herself brought to tears and drowning in another kind of guilt and hurt he didn't believe the others would throw upon her. Now they reaped what they sowed and although his intentions were well he too found himself on the end of the fallout.
"Sans are you paying attention?!" Lazy eyes opened from the back of the car and the skeleton looked towards Undyne.
"No." The fish woman growled while Alphys did her best to soothe her growing ire. That, however, didn't stop Papyrus' own.
"THIS IS SERIOUS SANS! WE NEED TO THINK OF WAYS TO APPEASE THE HUMAN!" Sighing, Sans leaned further back against the seat.
"I would think that we all would have learnt already that when Frisk sets her mind to something there is little to nothing we can do to break her out of that state." The other three exchanged looks.
"THAT MAY BE TRUE... HOWEVER, IT HAS BEEN SO LONG SANS. WE ARE WORRIED. FRISK HAS CLOSED HERSELF OFF EVEN TO TORIEL." Sans couldn't help the mirth filled scoff that left him. Turning his eyes to Undyne pointedly, the skeleton responded in kind.
"Then perhaps some of us should have remembered that a child deserves to be comforted in such situations and not treated like a enemy of the state. Isn't that right, Undyne?" Her anger rose but it quickly fell into abashed guilt and shame. Alphys turned from her wife to the skeleton fidgeting.
"S-Sans thats n-not fair!" Closing his eyes, Sans leaned his head against the door and shrugged.
"Wake me up when we get there." He knew very well that despite the other's attempts to make it seem like this was a normal get together this was a call to action in order to get into the good graces of the child who had ostracized herself from them all.
Frisk hadn't spoken to him in six months.
But it wasn't just him; she hadn't spoken to anyone in six months. When she had awoke from her preemptive suicide she realized three things. She was alive, Sans had told the others everything (and she meant everything) and she was under house arrest until Toriel stated otherwise. She had tried at first to reason, get angry and even blame them but that wasn't her way. By the end of the first month she stopped speaking all together. All the pleading, scolding and bribing from her parents was useless and by the end of the second month she barely responded to them past a head gesture. And it killed him.
After rescuing her from her almost self-inflicted fate, Sans realized two things.
One, Frisk had planned this a long time ago. Killing oneself wasn't something that you could do at such a young age without time to process everything even if you didn't understand everything. It took time to go through the stages of grief, time to accept and find peace. And time was something Frisk had; every single reset was a moment to come to terms with her decision.
The second thing he realized quickly was that if Frisk had come to peace with this then she wasn't about to give up. Oh no, the little girl who ran on determination would try again and again until she took her own life and made sure she could never be brought back. And Sans wasn't sure he could always be there to stop her. Hell, he couldn't always be there to stop her when she killed Papyrus or when Chara possessed her… For a moment he had no idea what to do but it had dawned on him quickly that he could not do this alone… Not this time.
He didn't tell the others to spite her nor did he tell them because he wanted her in trouble. She was so determined to end her life that night and it scared him. Despite his ability to teleport he couldn't always be there to watch her. Yet she had to be and he needed to know that someone else could be by her when he couldn't. He needed to know that she was protected, that she would have someone to show her that she was loved. But telling them meant telling them everything. Absolutely, everything and more importantly… It meant telling Papyrus everything he had worked so hard to hide from him… It was something that made him stop in his tracks right outside the house back then. For a moment he found himself looking down at the little girl as he hesitated to continue. He ran over every scenario, every possible outcome but in the end he knew he had little choice. Either way, Papyrus would be alive but Frisk? He wasn't sure.
In the end, he bit the bullet and after putting the girl in her room, he did the deed. First he brought Papyrus aside and explained the situation to his brother the best he could. It was harder than he thought it would be but every single time he believed Papyrus would shun him—especially when he spoke of the genocide episodes—his brother just comforted him. Just told him he understood it was hard and that he would be there for him. Leave it to Papyrus to be there for him, to love him unconditionally… Looking back on it he wished he only told him, because it wasn't nearly as disastrous as telling the others.
Sans adored Toriel, really he did. She was one of his closest friends but honestly her ways of parenting were questionable at best. Parents didn't claim to love their children then try to burn them to a crisp to see if they could fend for themselves. And parents definitely didn't react to the news that their child tried to commit suicide by waiting until they woke up and unloading their emotional turmoil on to them. She questioned how the child could think about such a thing, how she could even be so selfish as to think that they would want her dead. She asked Frisk if she understood the pain she had from losing so many children already and asked her why she would want her to mourn another.
In her grief and rage, she question if the child was mentally sound and if she understood exactly what she was doing. What she had done... Sans didn't tell Toriel so that the woman could scold the child about her powers. He didn't tell her so that she could tear down the child further. He told her so that she could play her part as her mother and comfort the child so that she would feel love. Oh eventually, once Frisk was bawling her eyes out, the woman attempted to play the part he had wished her too. But by that time they both knew it was too little too late, especially when Frisk turned to him instead of her. Even though he had told them everything and opened the door to this verbal assault she still turned to him. It wasn't a surprise however, not when she wasn't the only one ragging on the child for her past actions.
Undyne's reaction wasn't a complete surprise. The fish woman didn't know how to deal with anything emotional in way other way than throwing spears at it so her screeching, while unwarranted, was something he took responsibility for. He should have known better than to allow her and Toriel in the same room and it seemed that Asgore agreed as he helped him separate the two in order to leave the crying child in peace. He should have stopped them before they went to her that morning, but the damage was done and honestly, he didn't believe at the time it would pan out that way. It was hard to believe that they would respond in kind—he didn't want the kid to get scolded and spoken to as if she was insane for her thoughts. (Even though he wasn't happy with them.)
She was just doing what she thought was right. What she thought would protect them all. Having her mother and 'bestie' speak to her as if she was merely a foolish selfish child… Well, he could see the hurt grow in her heart as they spoke. It wasn't until tears pricked at the normally strong child's eyes that they realized they were going too far but by the time they realized their error and attempted to make up for it the kid just shut down.
Frisk had tired herself out in his arms from her own tears. He didn't say anything to her, for he wasn't sorry he told them and he was sure there was very little he could say that would make what the two women said right. He settled instead for merely holding her and allowing her to fall asleep against him. Once she was completely out, he placed her down in her bed and he moved out of his usual apathetic state to confront the two women.
It was rare for him to show anger but this time he wasn’t going to allow them to get off with their actions scott free. The women couldn't even look him in his face as he spoke.
"She is indeed a child, Toriel, that's why she needed your love not a scolding. But instead you let her down and this isn’t the first time your selfishness and stubbornness has caused more harm than good." He recounted.
"You're inability to do anything but throw spears and scream at things is exactly why others refuse to engage with you, Undyne. How does it feel to know you made a child feel less than dirt?" He scowled.
Despite Papyrus' wishes, Sans didn't hesitate to cut the two women down with his own words. But it wasn't just his frustrations at them that broke through, but his frustrations at himself for not protecting the vulnerable state the child was already in. He did his best afterwards to make the child feel better when she woke up the next morning but once she truly realized he was responsible for it all he was pushed away. Now, he too, found himself on the opposite side of her wrath and he deserved it.
At least the others received so much of a head gesture though. Sans was lucky if the kid even looked at him and even if she did look at him, it wasn't as if it was pleasant by any means. Amusingly enough, the nine year old was still a pro at keeping up appearances. Even though she made sure not to directly interact with them, she allowed the media to paint a pretty picture of her. It wasn't easy for her to be the ambassador, the humans were ready to tear her bit from bit. But ever since the very first time she sat before the world leaders she made sure she spoke with confidence. Rather, as much confidence as a nine year old in the face of savage men could muster.
He knew she wanted nothing more than to leave and go to her room, to pretend she had succeeded that night when he had stopped her. But her strength stopped her from linger upon it in the face of the other humans. During the meetings, Sans stood behind her chair to one side while Papyrus stood to the other presenting themselves as her guards, so to speak. They didn't sign up for the job at first but it soon became clear that the others just would not do. Asgore and Toriel would try to baby her making her lose credibility, Alphys was…Alphys. And Undyne would try to fight someone the moment they upset her.
With that, only himself and Papyrus remained to take the roles. To his brother's credit, he did a good job at playing the fierce silent protector despite his relatively goofy demeanor. Papyrus was naïve, not stupid. He knew very well what was at stake… The others stood to the side lines. watching in anticipation as the gathering began and Frisk was called to attention. At first, they had expected her to hesitate but as she stood up the little girl's eyes lit up with determination and she opened her mouth to say her piece.
There was something about the child that made you listen when she put on the demeanor necessary for the leaders. She demanded attention. For every option that was presented to her, every situation of war the humans could come up with, she did her best to dissuade and force the men to see the error of their ways. Didn't matter that he had heard her pacifist speeches before, it still caught his attention; it still distracted him. There was something about the kid that made you pay attention; that made you want to listen and absorb every word she spoke. It was hard to explain. It reminded him of the first time Toby heard the sounds of his whoopee cushion in action.
The dog stopped and for a brief second and took in the new sound, memorizing it. That was the closest he could get to explain why they listened so carefully. It was just so…foreign for the little girl to speak in such a way. But when she did, he realized she was more charismatic than he originally believed. She knew what to say, when to say but then again when one lived through multiple timelines of surviving based off of pure mercy, it was hard not to hold a sliver tongue. By the end of the meeting she had done her best to ease irrational fears; she had an answer for most things and things she didn't have an answer for she by passed to the best of her ability. The humans needed to understand that they weren't going away. Monsters weren't going to murder people. They weren't going to conquer the world, they just wanted to be.
Things weren't perfect, he wasn't saying that at all. Some of the leaders were still resistant to change, some were just plan resistant to their existence. Nevertheless, an outright war was something they didn't have to worry about and that was enough to rejoice. But whereas the others agreed that the meeting was a sound success, he was hesitant. It was only one meeting after all. Although a child who could take on Undyne without a weapon and win was a child to be reckoned with, a little girl could only do so much against men of power in one meeting. Yet across some faces, he could see amusement which lead to patience for the child ambassador and that patience for her was the closest tie to allegiance he could pin point.
However, unlike the others, he wasn't surprised when Frisk went right back to despondency the moment they were out of the media's eye. Toriel and Asgore did their best in an attempt to pry the child out of her silence. Toriel apologized for her reaction (for perhaps the hundredth time), hugged her and even baked a pie just for her. But besides a few head gestures and staring she didn't give them the time of day. Asgore had assured everyone that time would heal the strife between them and Frisk but…That was during the third month. Today marked six months and one day.
Toriel and Asgore still tried their hardest but she was stubborn, as always. They tended to enjoy the media now more than they did when they first arrived. If there were cameras around, Frisk would smile. If there were people nearby she would do her best to charm them so that the media could show the world that this innocent little girl was the champion of these beast the humans thought where evil. But if she was with them alone? It was almost as if she was attempting to silently will away their presence and quite frankly he was tired of it. He knew this was his fault but nothing would come from it if everyone continued to play this game of keep away.
"SANS WE'RE HERE!!" The skeleton opened his eyes and moved to get out of the car. He walked behind the others at a leisurely pace and watched as the ex monarchy opened the door and allowed them in. "WE ARE HERE YOUR MAJESTY AND WE HAVE BROUGHT THE SNACKS THAT YOU HAVE REQUESTED! PERHAPS THIS WILL BRING THE HUMAN OUT FROM HER ROOM!" Toriel smiled softly.
"Thank you, Papyrus. It is good to see you all I am glad you all have come." Undyne flexed her muscles and grinned.
"Once we get the games started that little punk will definitely come down! If not I'll-"
"You'll what Undyne? Man handle a little girl on the end of your spear until she complies?" Once more, the ex-captain of the guard glared at the shorter skeleton for his scathing comments. He, however, paid it no mind. "Sup, Tori." The woman smiled at him.
"Hello, Sans. We're just finishing up with the rest of the cooking. Feel free to make yourselves at home." Sans followed behind the others but just as he was going to make his way towards the couch a hand on his shoulder stopped him. "Sans, may I have a word...?" It was his instinct to immediately say no. He knew very well how this conversation was going to go and he knew he wanted no part of it. Yet, his resolve fell just a bit when he looked at her face.
"Sure, Tori." The woman smiled and lead the skeleton to the kitchen before making a mug of hot chocolate for them both. The skeleton took a seat at the table and merely waited for her to speak. He was hardly surprised at her words.
"I know... I am in no position to ask this from you especially when I am responsible for putting us all in this situation." If he had one, he would have raised a eyebrow at her words."But I am at my wits end... I don't know what to do or how to get Frisk to speak to us. I don't know what I can do in order to show her how sorry I am for how poorly I handled everything. Today I tried to tell her about this gathering and how we all wanted to spend time with her but she barely gave me a response. She merely nodded and moved to her room."
The skeleton took a sip of his mug and cocked his head.
"Seems about right. Its how she's been for six months, Toriel. Did you expect it to magically change?" Toriel shook her head.
"No but Sans despite what we may deserve for our reactions, I don't want her to turn her heart from us." Looking down, the woman stared into her mug.
"Because in my own, I feel as if that is what happened with Chara..." There was a pause of unease that passed between them but towards the end, Sans rolled his eyes.
"What a pain. Here you were scolding Frisk about being selfish but you must truly be her mother if the fruit doesn't fall to far from the tree." He rose up before the woman could retort and looked at her with a unamused grin. "I was already going to talk to her today, Toriel. You don't need to play at my heart strings in a attempt to get me too." Once again, he stopped her from speaking. "But its high time we all keep in mind who the adults are in this situation and start acting like it. I won't always be there to fix the rift made between us all." The woman smiled sadly.
"I know... Thank you, Sans." The skeleton waved the woman off.
"Sure thing, Tori. Just have a bottle of ketchup waiting for me." Something told him he was going to need it.
Despite what the woman wanted however, Sans didn't bother to speak to the child during the entire day. Frisk made sparse appearances only coming down to get food, get a few drinks and return back to her room. She kept her frosty disposition towards them only seeming to let up naturally towards Papyrus. Even then, she didn't speak aloud. The other's tired to push a interaction between themselves and her but she would shut it down immediately making it known that she wanted nothing to do with them. Although he found it more than amusing to see her act that way towards Undyne, it was a behavior that needed to end.
It would do him no good to confront her when everyone was awake, though. There was no intention that night to drive back to their respective homes. With enough rooms to house them all for the night, the skeleton waited for everyone to settle down for the night before getting out of his own bed. He found himself walking towards her room in the dead of night knowing the kid was awake, knowing that there was nothing to stop them from speaking one on one. He doubted though that the child would dare speak but he was hopeful he would get her to say something even if it was something he didn't want to hear.
Opening the door, he spotted the smaller form of the girl sitting on the window edge enjoying the night breeze. The sight hit a little too close to home for him and, without consent, his magic wrapped around her and brought her back inside. Once she was standing on her feet, she stared him down keeping her face blank even though he could feel her rage at his intrusion. Sans wasn't afraid of this child but the face she gave off reminded him of a less peaceful timeline. Still, it wasn't the time to reflect on such things was it? Sighing, he spoke up.
"How long you plan to keep this up kid…?" She said nothing. "You're pissed at me fine but don't take it out on everyone else. Don't you think you've made them pay enough?" Still silence. Reaching up, he rubbed the back of his vertebrae as he tried to find his words. "I didn't tell them to hurt you kid. I told them because I don't want you to do anything reckless. I told them because I wanted you to know that they wouldn't have been happy without you. But you're here giving them the five finger brush off and they aren't any happier. You made your point but know I will never regret saving you. You're trying to distance yourself so by some miracle we'll let you do your thing. But I got news for you kid—its not going to happen. We're not going to let you die." He wasn't going to let her die.
Children were fickle things. Sometimes, they seemed to be a endless pool of untouched innocent wisdom unable to be deterred from the actions they sought to accomplish. And other times, they were slaves to pent up emotions unable to control them as they moved to explode within. Normally, Frisk rarely allowed her emotions to get the best of her but this time she couldn't help it. The creature of her ire stood before her and although she did her best to empty herself, she couldn't help it. She just couldn't. Stomping her foot down, she began to snap and despite the mental maturity she retained due to the resets, the tantrum won out in the end.
"I hate you. I hate you more than Chara." She didn't. "I hate you more than I've hated anyone in my life." She really didn't. "You took the one chance I had to make sure things would never reset away!" He made sure she would have many more chances to succeed in this life again. He wouldn't let her throw her life away. He had to keep telling himself that in face of the vicious words the little girl threw at him. It didn't feel good having the kid tell him these things but he knew that if she didn't get them out they would get worse. So he did what he did best and allowed his grin and laid back shrug to stroke the inner flames further.
"Shit happens kid." She released a short scream of frustration.
"Screw you! I hate you! You ruined everything!" He did his best to stop the grimace from showing on his face as he taunted her once more.
"Oh really? And what are you going to do about it?" He knew exactly what she was going to do about it. Six months ago it may have been but the lesson he learned that day stuck—Frisk was a child. She was a child who had been holding her breath in retaliation for six months and now, she was going to breathe.
Overcome by grief and rage, the little girl launched herself at the skeleton punching at him with her tiny fist. And he let her. It didn't hurt him really, he knew Frisk herself was as much of a threat as a lady bug. Not to mention, the fact that her attacks weakened gradually until she was a sobbing mess. That hurt him more than any physical attack could. Yet it was exactly the reaction he was waiting for. Without a word, he scooped the child up and sat down on the bed with her in his lap. She didn't fight him; no her walls had been broken down and now nothing remained but tears and tiredness. Leaning his back against the wall he looked down at her gently as a boney hand ran through her hair. For a while, there was nothing but silence and the sounds of her crying but when the tears finally stopped she raised her hands and wiped her face with a slight tremble.
"I hate you."
She looked up with tired eyes and he locked on to them as she spoke on. "Why'd you do it…? Why did you tell them...?" Now it was his turn to pause and after a moment he shrugged.
"I made a promise." Looking up with a tear stained face, Frisk frowned as he removed his hoodie and wrapped it around her. She looked at him in absolute confusion as he continued on. "Someone told me to be happy." Her expression turned into one of shock if not horror as she realized it was her own words but before she could retort—and six months to late—he pulled his hood down over her face in payback as he brought her back against him. "But you know, the little snot who told me that forgot one thing. What makes someone happy isn't something we can decide. Happiness cannot be force. Happiness just is kid. It just is… So I had the decision to either let you do your thing or be selfish and keep my promise." She pushed up the hood just a bit allowing her to catch him winking at her. "I decided being selfish and happy in the long run was worth it." For a bit, she merely stared at him as silence overcame them and after a bit she finally, truly relaxed against him even going so far as to hug him as she did.
"I don't hate you…" His grin widened just a bit and he rested his head on top of hers as she slowly opened herself again.
"I know, kid."
"You're not awful."
"You didn't ruin everything…"
The next bout of silence was peaceful and after that emotionally draining episode the skeleton found himself quickly slipping into sleep.
"…Did you just call me a 'little snot'?"
"…Go to sleep kid."