Remedy

Chapter 8: Recovery

No more second chances. This run needed to be perfect.

I made my way through the ruins and proved my worth in battle against Toriel. I hugged her goodbye and told her I loved her. Watching her go always hurt. It would have been easy to try and reassure her of my survival, but I couldn't risk it. I almost wished I'd tried it in another timeline to see if it would have helped. But I couldn't think like that. There was only this timeline now, and I had all of monster kind to save.

I opened the door that led out of the ruins and I felt Sans stalking me. I made my way slowly to the gate and waited as his footsteps crunched in the snow. My heart beat fast, just as it had the first time. I was afraid this time too, but for a far different reason. When I turned around and shook his hand, I met his eyes…

And he didn't recognize me.

I was an expert at reading his expressions by now, from the minute shifts in his eyes to the quirk of his mouth. There were always the subtle hints that we'd done this before, that he knew what was going on. But there was no spark of recognition in his eyes this time, no hint of familiarity, or even déjà vu. My eyes stung, and I looked down before I could say something I would regret.

Sans faltered on his introduction, and he shifted uncomfortably. Then he was back to his usual lines, and I followed along dutifully.

I'd expected this.

It still hurt.

The rest of the Underground went by in a bit of a blur. I went on a date with Papyrus while Sans hid in his room. Later, Sans offered to take me to Grillbys. I declined. He offered to take me to Mettaton's resort. I declined again. I felt the distance growing between us. I also noticed something akin to suspicion in his words. I half-hoped that he would ask so that I had a reason to confess.

But he never did.

Sometimes I still looked for the save points. I couldn't see them even if they were still there. A few times I reached for them out of habit only to look around in confusion when my fingers met nothing. It was another reminder of the cost of failure.

No more second chances.

It almost felt like my first time through the Underground, where I was frightened and dreaded every new confrontation. But I made it. With all of my practice, it was almost easy. I met Sans in the Judgement Hall, and I watched his eyes. He was surprised and pleased by my kindness and love. He was happy to let me face Asgore, even if he didn't know the outcome. He knew I would find a way.

I looked down.

Before Sans could vanish, I ran forward and hugged him. He seemed surprised, so I closed my eyes and pretended for a moment that he was my Sans, the Sans who gave up the surface to let me live, the Sans who went into the void and faced down Gaster to try and heal my sickness, the Sans who sat with me under the golden sunlight and freed me from my pain.

This Sans patted my back awkwardly, and the illusion was broken. I stepped away and didn't look at him as I went to meet my fate.

He said nothing as he watched me go.

And so I broke the barrier. I agreed to become the ambassador. I agreed to live with Toriel. Everyone went their separate ways, and I breathed a sigh. They were all alive. They were all happy. They were all free. I could help bring peace. And that would be the end.

So why didn't this feel like the happy ending I'd been hoping for?

Two months later, things were going well. I'd lived these months several times, so I knew all of the diplomats. I was able to charm them easily, giving them confident reassurances that peace between humans and monsters was not only possible, but desirable for everyone involved.

It was a late summer night, and I was lying on the hillside where Sans had laid me to rest. It wasn't healthy for me to cling to the past like this, but I just couldn't seem to let it go. A pulse of magic and displaced air made me look up. That was odd. Sans didn't usually come here. He'd been completely occupied in his lab for the last few weeks and we didn't really talk much anyway. But sometimes I would ask Papyrus about his brother, and the taller skeleton would offer up hours worth of information with the barest prompting. Those two always loved to gossip about each other.

Sans plopped down on the grass beside me and closed his eyes. He looked relaxed and content, but I could sense an undercurrent of tension in his slouching frame. It might have been my imagination, but this was the exact same pose he used when speaking to me at my grave. I didn't want to hope. It was silly to even suggest—

"so, you didn't get sick this time," said Sans, cracking one eye open to peer at me. "I guess that means we're in the clear for resets, right?"

I bolted upright and gaped at him.

I opened my mouth to say something, anything.

And then I gaped at him some more.

"H-How?" I stuttered at last. "Gaster said…and you…and I…how?"

Sans huffed a sigh.

"Gaster, huh?" he asked. "I should have guessed. is he the one who told you to stay away from me? I could say I was surprised, but then I'd be lying."

"Well…yeah," I said, still confused. "But Sans…how? Why didn't you talk to me before now? I was so sure that you didn't remember."

Sans chuckled and I could tell that he was amused at my reaction.

"I didn't," he said. "at least, not at first. but I have ways of loading memories across timelines that even he doesn't know about. after I saw your face at the gate, I guessed that something was wrong. then in the Judgement Hall, I knew for certain. it took a while, but I found all of my old memories…and a few things I wasn't expecting, things I'd forgotten and didn't even know to look for. but yeah, I remember everything now."

I stared down at him.

He remembered.

And then I threw my arms around him and started to cry. I told him everything Gaster had said in the lab. I told him about the healing and about the four monsters who had sacrificed their lives to make me whole again. I told him about listening to him at my grave and trying so hard to make this timeline a better place for everyone. I wasn't sure how much he could understand when I was blubbering incoherently at some points, but he listened patiently and didn't interrupt. He just put his arms around me waited while I talked.

"I didn't want you to be in pain because of me," I said at last. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Sans hummed, eyes closed again. We sat in silence as my breathing evened. I was just beginning to think he'd fallen into another nap when he spoke.

"when I was seven years old, my mom died," he said. I looked at him, surprised. Never, in all our loops together, had he ever spoken about his past or his family. "dad was very…detached about it. he said that time would heal our wounds and make us forget. we'd move on with our lives, and things would get better. I resented him a bit for saying that because…I didn't want to forget. I didn't want to forget the way she tucked me in at night. I didn't want to forget the stories she told me when we sat by the fire. I didn't want to forget the time she shared her last cookie with me, and how she broke it in half and gave me the piece with the most frosting." He fell silent for a moment. "I didn't want to forget then. and I don't want to forget now. there are some things worse than the pain of losing someone."

Like the emptiness of being alone. I knew that feeling. I shivered and Sans squeezed me gently until I calmed down.

"I'm sorry," I said, relief making me smile and look at him with wet eyes. "I missed you."

Sans chuckled.

"it's okay," he said. "but kid? Do. Not. Ever. Do. That. Again."

Even his scary voice couldn't make me stop grinning. I hugged him even more tightly. He wheezed a laugh, and only that was enough for me to loosen up a bit. I still didn't let him go, though. I was half-afraid that he would vanish the moment I pulled away. No point in risking it.

Not when everything was so perfect.

After all, this was the happy ending I always wanted….

I felt something tug at my soul, and for a moment I thought that Sans was using his blue magic. Then I was pulled back, violently ripped out of Sans's arms and plunged into the blackness of the void. The last thing I saw was Sans's startled face and his hand reaching up.

I was dragged through the darkness. Confusion bled to anger when I saw the lab rising up out of the void. Soon I was in the room with the instruments, facing the back of Doctor Gaster. He was staring up at the screen, watching the empty hillside where Sans and I had been lying moments ago. When I'd met him twice before, I'd been terrified. This time I was furious.

I hit the ground hard, but was on my feet in an instant.

"What are you doing?" I shouted. "Can't you just leave us alone? We're happy! Why are you doing this to us?"

Some distant part of me, the part that wasn't seeing red from anger, was urging me to stall. Sans was not on the hillside anymore. He was likely on his way. I didn't know if he could stand up to Gaster, but together we could try.

"I do what I must," said Gaster, and the flatness of his voice was enough to make me tremble, but not enough to make me stand down. "You foolish child. What you have done cannot be undone."

"Can't you accept the choice he's made?" I asked. "Even if you want what is best for him, he has chosen to keep his memories. He doesn't want to forget, and I'm never going to help you do that to him again. Do you understand?"

"I understand, and I accept the choice he has made," said Gaster heavily, startling me out of my tirade. "I may not agree with it, but I can accept it. There is only one thing left for me to do."

He pulled out my soul, and I prepared for the worst. I had only 20 HP and no food items or even any armor to protect me. But I would not roll over and die for him, not after everything I'd been through. I would fight for my life, because it was the only one I had left.

"Take care of him, Child."

And then Gaster dissolved into dust. I stared in confusion as his dust and magic began to fuse with my soul. What was going on? Then the memories began. I saw Gaster, whole and undamaged, learning in school, teaching, researching, raising a pair of baby skeletons.

And then…

Gaster stood in the Core, rerouting power, coolant, and magic. He needed to stabilize the output or the whole lab would be absorbed into the time anomaly. Perhaps the whole Underground. His lab assistants were working with him, running their own instruments with practiced precision

The Stability Reader crept slowly downward, teetering on the edge of red. They still had time. They still had time, damn it! Just a little more, and everyone could go home to their families tonight. Just a little more, and they would have families to go home to.

The readout slipped down, crossing to red, and a chill swept through his bones.

Prevention was now impossible. Their only hope was containment. He couldn't save the lab, but he could still save the Underground.

"Evacuate now!" Gaster shouted. "Everyone leave while you can!"

"You can't hold the containment by yourself!" Sans shouted back. The others nodded if they deigned to answer at all. None of them moved from their posts. Gaster felt equal parts pride and horror. He didn't want to be responsible for the deaths of five people. Not them. Not Sans.

The Core was reaching critical mass. He had no time. He couldn't save them.

The Vault.

It would be shielded. Would it be enough? Perhaps. It was his only hope. His magic was straining to hold the power in check. He could spare only a tiny fraction. Just enough to save one person. One.

He grasped Sans's soul in blue magic and threw him through the door to the Vault, slamming the smaller skeleton against the far wall. Sans cried out.

"No!" he shouted. "Stop."

Gaster slammed the door shut, one word echoing out before the Vault was sealed completely.

"DAD!"

And then it was over. The Core reached critical mass. And then the lab was gone.

I was on the ground, gasping at the force of the memory. There were other snippets too, things from my first visit to the lab.

"This human will only hurt you, Sans," said Gaster.

"No," said Sans, and his eye burned. "You do not understand. This one is not like the other humans. Frisk is different."

"That is what makes them so dangerous. Go home, Sans. Go back to your brother. I will ensure that the human can no longer interfere with the timeline."

"No."

And I saw myself as I appeared only moments ago, filled with life and righteous anger while feeling Gaster's deep sadness and regret.

"You were…just trying to protect your son," I said aloud.

I felt a familiar wave of magic wash over me and looked up to see Sans standing in the door with his eye blazing bright and furious. He saw me kneeling on the ground and teleported to my side.

"what happened?" he asked tightly.

I held up my soul, now glowing with a faint white sheen.

"He made me immortal," I said. That wasn't all he'd done. From his fading memories, I could see a few dozen advantages ranging from higher HP to magical resistance to immunity from diseases. "He didn't want you to watch me die again."

The anger in Sans was snuffed out like a candle, and he sagged wearily.

"he could have just asked like a normal person," said Sans irritably. "no, that would have been too easy…"

"You didn't tell me he was your father," I said, only half accusing. This seemed like highly relevant information, in my opinion. Sans huffed.

"when you fall into the void, people forget things about you," he said. "I only remembered when I went looking for my old memories. heh. you know, he was the type of person who always demanded that everyone call him 'Doctor' while in the lab. it was a case of 'I spent seven years getting this degree and twelve years doing research. I invented my own branch of science! So you're going to call me Doctor, damn it!" I spent six months calling him Doctor Dadster until he threatened to make me an unpaid intern."

I chuckled at that, but it was a weak sound.

"I didn't realize, this whole time he was just trying to save you," I said. "I was so angry at him because I didn't understand."

"dad and I didn't see eye-socket to eye-socket on a lot of things," said Sans. "what it meant to save people was one of them. but he had a good heart, and he loved Pap and me. that doesn't mean he wasn't a pain in the pubis sometimes, but…I always knew how much he cared."

I felt warmth growing in my soul. Yeah, Doctor Gaster did care. He'd given his life to save his eldest son from an eternity of pain. There was nothing left for him in the void, and all he wanted was to bring happiness to his family. Sans and Papyrus.

He wanted me to be happy too.

"Sans?" I asked. Sans hummed to let me know he was listening. "Can we go home now?"

"sure, kid," he said, pulling me to my feet. "let's go. Tori's probably getting worried about you."

I felt Sans's magic wrap around my body and soul. It was warm and familiar and reassuring. We teleported out of the emptiness of the void. Away from the darkness and loneliness. Away from fear and death and the past. And we went back to reality, back to the night and stars, back to a world filled with peace and happiness and life.

Back to our perfect, happy ending.

The End

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Note: Woohoo! Done. Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed. Your reviews are the fuel for my writing, and this story would not have been written without you. I hope you have enjoyed Remedy! Thank you and good night.

Note 2: The sequel for this story is now posted. It is called Small Font and includes a Sans/Frisk pairing as well as OC babies.