You were fourteen when you had Frisk. Too young. You're twenty now, and sometimes the c-section scar still itches.
You were afraid to become a mother. How could you be a good one, when your only example was so bad? Recovery from the surgery was harder than you thought it would be, but your mother was there to take care of Frisk at least. You were worried about the idea of breastfeeding, but you were never given the chance to even try. Your mother was selfish, you realized later, by insisting she be the one to feed your child. To 'let you rest' she said.
She stole your baby from you, and in your fear and self-doubt, you let her. You wondered many times if she loved Frisk more than you. Maybe, you hoped, it would mean she would take better care of them than she had of you.
She insisted that Frisk call her 'Mama'. When your baby looked at you, eyes wide with anticipation, you told them you were their sister. When Frisk grinned and babbled out 'Sissa' you hated yourself. Your mother smiled at you.
You finished school right before Frisk started. You began working right out of high school, at your mother's insistence. You needed to start helping to support the family. The only times she acted like Frisk was yours instead of hers was when it came to money. You owed her your paychecks for all the work she had done raising your child.
You didn't dare argue. When Frisk was out of the house, she had no problems hitting you.
You came home from work (a local restaurant, the owner knew your mom and took pity on you) late that night. The night everything changed. Your mother was drunk —God it had been so long, you had hoped maybe, just maybe, it had stopped— and Frisk was crying. They had their back to the living room wall, clutching their cheek and staring up at your mother with saucer-wide eyes.
She turned on you, a bottle of wine sloshing in her hand. "Oh good, you deal with them. I'm sick of this shit," she snarled, glaring at you and then leaving the room.
This had never happened before. She never hurt Frisk, never. Frisk just looked up at you with tears welling in their eyes as you rushed to their side.
You reached out and grabbed their shoulders, suddenly afraid. For both of you. "What did you do?" you hissed.
Frisk's mouth opened and shut, no sound coming out as they stared at you with fear instead of relief. "N-nothing!" they finally stammered out.
"You can't make her angry, Frisk. She'll just hurt you, please you have to be good." You had to make them understand, to protect them. You were so afraid, it was easier to be good, to be quiet, than to try and fight back.
And Frisk had always been strong willed. You had always worried it would get them in trouble, and now it was. You needed to squash it down, for Frisk's sake. They needed to be weak.
What... what was that? Something like... deja vu? No, that couldn't have happened.
Frisk was still standing by the wall and you were still in the entryway. They watched you, uncertain about what you were going to do. Seeing the fear in Frisk's eyes, the way they looked at you for help...
It filled you with determination.
You scooped them up, hugging them tight to your chest. Frisk whimpered in your arms, squeezing you as hard as they could. How could you have let this happen? You knew what she was capable of, you should have taken Frisk away from here as soon as you turned eighteen. But you had been afraid. You hadn't been determined enough to make things right.
That was going to change. Now.
"I'm sorry," Frisk mumbled into your shirt, sniffling. "I think it's my fault."
"No," you told them, voice sterner than you expected. "Don't you ever think that. She's wrong. She's always been wrong. It's not your fault."
You felt the hard edges of the car keys squeezed in your fist. That was when you knew, it needed to happen now, while you had the nerve. While your anger was giving you more courage than sense.
"Get your sweater and put on your shoes, sweetie. Be quick," you told them, ruffling their hair and pressing a quick kiss to their forehead.
Frisk looked up at you, confused, as you let them go. "Where are we going?"
Right now you needed to go anywhere but here. Somewhere your mother wouldn't expect you to go while you figured out a plan. You said the first thing that popped into your mind. "Mt. Ebott."
You wake with the echo of what you think might be a laugh ringing in your ears. Eyes blinking slowly open, you can see the shaft of light filtering down from above. Your vision is ringed in yellow. You try to remember what happened. You recall spending the night sleeping in the car with Frisk, and then deciding to take a morning hike up the mountain. You tripped, and—
Gasping, you jerk upright. You realize you're in a bed of yellow flowers. But, where's Frisk? Sitting up so suddenly makes your head throb with pain, and you press your hand to your temple. You twist around, searching as you shift onto your knees, and a short distance away you catch sight of that familiar blue and purple sweater. Frisk has their back to you, hunched over a patch of bare grass outside the bed of flowers. There's some kind of red glow on the other side of them.
As the red glow fades, you see that Frisk is talking to someone. They're tall —taller than you— and... is that... fur? She —they must be a she, you decide— has long floppy ears and tiny horns, reminding you of a goat. You push yourself to your feet and the creature looks up from Frisk, her big bright eyes going wide at the sight of you.
"Oh my goodness," she says in a soft, sweet voice. It's her voice more than anything that puts you at ease. "My child, you didn't say there was someone with you."
Frisk turns to you with a wide grin on their face. It's the most you've seen them smile since before last night, you realize. "That's my Sissa," they say. Even though they could say 'sister' properly for years now, the nickname had stuck.
You know that if you want to, you can tell them the truth. But somehow, right now, it doesn't feel right. Don't the two of you have bigger things to worry about? Like figuring out where the heck you are? And who this goat-lady is?
"I see," the goat-lady says, smiling at you. "I am Toriel, the caretaker of these Ruins. Do not be afraid, I will take care of you both."
At least Toriel gave you her cell phone number before leaving the two of you to wait for her. Your own phone connected to some sort of network down here in the Underground. You can't call anyone on the surface, but you can reach her. Frisk commandeered your phone immediately after that.
They are also incredibly impatient, refusing to wait for Toriel to come back. Despite your weak protests, Frisk starts making their way through rooms of puzzles with you trailing behind. Occasionally you stop to make conversation with a passing monster —they're monsters, how is that possible? It's then that you realize what that red glow around Frisk had been. Something about the monsters draws it out of them, a glowing red heart that they say is their Soul.
The concept horrifies you, and you try to tell Frisk to leave the monsters alone, but they just smile up at you like you're the child. You have to admit, the monsters seem happier after they've talked to Frisk. Frisk perks up too, casting grins over their shoulder back at you. You shake your head but let the matter drop.
Frisk pulls your phone out of their pocket, dialing the only number you have that works. The phone is on speaker as it rings. Frisk is smiling.
"Hello, this is Toriel," she says, with the patience of a saint. This is probably the fifth time Frisk has called her already.
"It's me, Frisk!" they say, grinning. Toriel gives a sweet laugh in reply before Frisk keeps talking. "I just... I just wanted to let you know me and Sissa are still okay... Mom."
It feels as though someone has reached into your chest and is squeezing your heart. It shouldn't hurt you, since Frisk has never called you their mother, and has no way of knowing. But it does.
"Huh? Did you just call me... 'Mom'?" Toriel asks, her voice quiet. "Well... I suppose... Would that make you happy? To call me... 'Mother'?"
Frisk looks shy all of a sudden, kicking at the stone beneath their feet with their old, ratty sneakers. They touch their cheek, where there's a faint bruise as the only reminder of what your mother did to them. "Yes," they mumble.
"Well then, call me whatever you like!"
Would that make you happy? To call me... 'Mother'? You wonder if it would make Frisk happy to know the truth. But...
...you aren't determined enough to try.