Note: This story is a go! Unfortunately, there are no gender-neutral titles for a parent. I decided that in the monster world, the 'Mom' is the person who carried the child in their soul and the 'Dad' is the other magic donor. So, Frisk is Mommy, but this doesn't necessarily correspond to their gender. They still use the they/them pronouns. It was a tough choice, but somehow 'Spawn parent' just doesn't have the same ring to it.
"I'm home!" I called out, shouldering the door open while trying not to drop the five bags I was carrying. Who needed multiple trips to get all of the groceries in? Not this person right here. I dropped the bags onto the kitchen counter and started to unload them.
"HUMAN!" Papyrus shouted from the other room. "YOU ARE JUST IN TIME TO WITNESS THE GREAT PAPYRUS FIND THE LOCATION OF A VERY TINY, VERY SNEAKY SKELETON! I CAN FEEL HIS INEVITABLE DISCOVERY 'IN MY BONES'! NYEHEHEH."
I snagged a small bag of cookies and ambled into the living room where Papyrus was poised over the armchair with one finger at his teeth to shush me. I rolled my eyes and smiled, tiptoeing obligingly to stand next to him. Hide and seek was one of Roman's favorite games, and he was surprisingly good for being only two years old.
Finding him wasn't much of a challenge for me, as I could feel his soul dancing with mirth and excitement right behind the chair. But Sans and I always made a show of taking a long time to search for him before finally pouncing when the moment was right. Judging by the state of the living room, Papyrus has been led on a long and merry chase.
"AND NOW FOR THE MOMENT OF TRUTH!" Papyrus said, pulling a purple blanket from behind the chair. "I HAVE FOUND YOU! NYEHEHEH…EH?"
I could feel the problem immediately.
Roman was no longer behind the chair.
He was across the room, hiding behind the curtains.
"BUT-BUT I WAS…" Papyrus stammered, uncertain. He couldn't feel Roman's soul as I could, so it must have been doubly confusing for him. I was pretty shocked myself. Roman was barely a toddler. He shouldn't be able to teleport yet.
I tried to swallow my worry as I patted Papyrus's shoulder.
"It's alright, Papyrus," I said. "Let me use my special attack to find my little man, or should I say my little 'Roam-man'."
Papyrus groaned and I heard a quiet giggle from behind the curtain. The fabric jostled, and I kept an eye on it to see if I could sense the magical buildup for another teleport.
"YOU'RE AS BAD AS SANS," he complained, and I laughed.
"You're still smiling," I reminded him.
"I KNOW AND I HATE IT," said Papyrus.
My son was going to wind up with the 'pun'-iest sense of humor. Wow, I really was getting as bad as my husband. We would all embarrass Roman to tears when he was older. I grinned at the thought as I held up the bag of cookies. Now for my special attack.
"Well, if I don't find him soon, I'll just have to eat all of these mini-mega-chocotastic cookies by myself," I said, shaking the bag so that the tell-tale sound of cookie-goodness could be heard.
With a gasp, Roman burst from behind the curtain, wide eyes zeroing in on the tasty treat with the surety of a homing missile.
"Cukies!" he shouted gleefully, running over to my side and reaching up pleadingly.
I felt my smile falter when I saw the blazing red light in his eye sockets. Roman's eyes were normally white pin-pricks just like Sans's, but now they were lit up with powerful magic. With Determination.
I forced the smile back into place, though it must have looked strained, because Roman's expression became confused and a little worried. He stopped reaching and gave me his best 'innocent look' just in case I was angry with him.
"Now, what are you supposed to say when you want something?" I asked, banishing my thoughts and focusing on my son instead, surreptitiously checking him for any signs of melting or injury caused by early use of magic. There were none. But the second he went down for a nap, I was calling Sans.
"Pweas!" Roman said excitedly, previous worries forgotten. "Pweas! Cukies pweas! Cukies pweas!"
"Now there's my polite little gentleman," I said, opening the bag and handing him a cookie.
"Two, pweas," he said, eyeing the bag hopefully for a second treat. "Pweas, Mommy."
"Did you put your toys away?" I asked. Roman looked around, shame-faced at the toys scattered all over the living room. "No? Well, if you put all of your toys in the toy box, you can have another cookie."
"Okay, Mommy!" said Roman, and he toddled off to gather up his things. Papyrus was standing behind me, looking uncertain.
"HUMAN, A PRIVATE WORD?" he asked. I nodded and followed him into the relative privacy of the den, not that it would make much difference with Papyrus's volume. "HOW LONG HAS ROMAN BEEN USING MAGIC?"
"This is the first I've seen it," I said, my gaze straying back to the door as Roman tripped over his own feet and face-planted into the carpet. He looked up at me, and I smiled at him encouragingly. He stood up and dusted himself off before getting back to his toy-gathering. "And Sans would have mentioned it if he'd seen anything. No, this is new."
The magic itself wasn't the only problem. He was using red magic. Determination. Determination was what had melted the amalgamates, and I didn't want to think about how little it would take to hurt my son.
"I SEE," said Papyrus. "HUMAN, IT WOULD BE BEST IF YOU SPOKE WITH HIM. I FEAR THAT HE MAY HAVE USED IT SEVERAL TIMES ALREADY, BUT I THOUGHT HE WAS JUST SLIPPING AWAY WHEN I TURNED MY BACK. IT IS VERY DANGEROUS FOR AN UNTRAINED CHILD TO USE MAGIC UNSUPERVISED."
That was a bit of an understatement, especially with already-dangerous magic like teleportation. That in itself was a high-level ability with a chance of tearing the user apart if they weren't focused enough. But if he had used it several times already, how had he learned it? Could he really have picked it up just by observing Sans? My son was clever. I'd known this since he started running at seven months, spoke his first full sentence at eight months, and read his first picture book at nine months. Sans tracked his development carefully, though Roman was prone to regressing to a more childish state when he was excited, like at the sight of sweets. It hadn't even occurred to me that his mind and body weren't the only things developing too quickly.
"I'll talk with Sans, and we'll see what we can do," I said. "There are magical suppressants that might be safer. I don't think Roman will understand why his magic is dangerous. And even if he's a good kid, he will try something when he thinks we're not looking."
Roman was already showing an inclination toward jokes and pranks, like hiding my car keys to stop me from going to work or sneaking vegetables from his plate to Sans's when he thought his father was busy with the crossword. It would probably only take the blink of an eye before Roman was back to using magic if I forbade it.
"I SEE," said Papyrus. "I KNOW YOU WILL MAKE SURE THAT HE IS SAFE. DO YOU WANT ME TO STAY WITH YOU UNTIL SANS RETURNS HOME?"
I considered it.
"No, that's alright," I said. "You go home, Papyrus. And thank you for watching him. I'm going to call Sans now."
Papyrus left, and I went to check on Roman in the living room. He had already fallen asleep on the couch. A quick look around the room showed that all of the toys had been put away. Well, even if he shared his father's tendency to fall asleep while doing chores, at least he finished his first. He really was a good kid. I picked him up and carried him to his room and then headed back downstairs to call my husband.
Before I even hung up the phone, Sans was walking through the door to give me a hug and a kiss. He could feel the nervousness in my soul and soothed it with his own, though I could feel an echo of fear within him too. He was holding a scanner in one hand and a necklace in the other. The scanner was to detect how much magic and Determination Roman had, and the necklace was for suppressing the power if necessary.
At this point I was pretty sure it would be necessary.
Roman was not happy to be woken up, but he was quickly bribed with the cookie he'd earned for cleaning as well as the promise of an extra one if he sat still for his tests. Roman cheerfully munched on his cookies while Sans ran the scanner near his soul. I watched over Sans's shoulder, and I felt a wave of fear at those Determination levels. Roman possessed enough Determination to melt a normal monster, but the power was apparently stable in his body. Could it be because he was a hybrid? Would it grow stronger as he got older? How could we stop it?
Sans remained calm, his soul still soothing mine. Roman was watching me carefully, and I knew he could feel my fear too.
"Dunt be afwaid, Mommy," he said suddenly. "I dunt want you to be afwaid. I'll pwotet you, Mommy."
My heart melted and I leaned over to give him a hug. Protect. He was two years old and already offering to protect me. Papyrus used the word often when referring to his job as a Royal Guardsman, and Roman always looked up to him. I guess he took the proclamations to heart.
"I know you will," I said. "You know what you can do to protect me? It's a very special thing, and only you can do it."
Roman shook his head, his eyes wide and earnest and willing to do whatever I needed him to so that I wouldn't be afraid anymore.
He was getting more like his father every day.
"No, wat?" he asked.
I took the necklace from Sans. It was a golden four pointed star that looked like a save point. There were tiny runes carved into the edge. It would suppress his excess magical energy and Determination. I didn't like the idea of deliberately crippling my own child, but it would help keep him safe from his own rapid development.
"I want you to wear this," I said, holding up the necklace. His eyes brightened at the sight of it. He took the chain from me and slipped it over his head. His eyes began to droop at once. "Roman, I need you to listen. Do not ever take this necklace off. Do you understand? Never."
"Yes, Mommy," he yawned. "I wove you, Mommy. I wove you, Daddy."
"We love you too," I said, leaning over to kiss his skull. He yawned again, and his eyes slid closed. Sans reached up to catch him as he fell sideways.
"I'm sweepy," he said, his voice thick and exhausted.
I looked at Sans. His eyes were blank, and his soul was strangely unreadable. I took a steadying breath.
"I know," I said. "Why don't you go back to your nap?"
He was already asleep. I moved him under his covers and tucked him in securely before following Sans out of the room. Sans was rubbing the back of his head.
"he'll only get stronger," he said quietly. "even now, the necklace isn't enough to shut away his powers completely. he'll still be able to use magic, but at a much safer level. no more teleporting at least. but soon he'll reach a point where the Determination will poison his bones if he removes the necklace. if that happens…"
"He won't take the necklace off," I said with confidence I didn't feel. "We'll…we'll keep an eye on him and explain it when he's older. He's a smart kid. He'll understand."
Sans nodded and pulled me into a hug. Only then did I feel the terror in his soul beneath his calm façade.
"He'll be okay," I said, rubbing Sans's back and tracing the bumps of his spine. "He'll be okay. He'll be okay."
I wished that I could believe that.
To be continued...