I do not own Undertale. Toby Fox does.
Thanks to R. Moonstalker for editing.
Chapter published 6/12/17.
He watched his sister and his mom vanish into the snowstorm that frequented the Snowdin/Waterfall border. Then he glanced left at Sans, and cringed.
Asriel knew Sans. Knew the skeleton better than he knew himself. His first question would be...
"So... how does it even work? Any... " Sans held his hands out and made a little back and forth motion. "... rules on it?"
"It worked two different ways," he said. "I... I didn't come back as myself. You know how Alphys did some experiments on determination. She uh... kinda found the golden flower that had most of my dust, and injected it with enough determination to resurrect the dead." He looked away sheepishly. "And... that's when it started."
"Determination, huh?" Sans wondered. "I get it brought you back, but what's that got to do with the resets?"
"Everything," he explained, tracing a circle in the snow with a foot while making sure not to look at Sans. "For a long time I was a flower. Eventually I came across a power source. Enough to let me turn back into a monster. Enough to let me break the Barrier. It made my resets stronger, too. Before, I just had two reset spots; one fixed at when I woke up as a flower, and another I could make whenever."
"But then this power source changed that, I'm guessing?" Sans said. "You could make more than one secondary spot."
"That's about it. I kept the original one, at when I woke up, but whenever I reset back there my powers followed me, and I woke up in the garden as..." He brushed a paw along his striped shirt. "Myself."
Sans nodded again. "Right, right. So kiddo, what was the point of it anyway? Why not just... let time go on?"
He grimaced. "If you're looking for an excuse - "
"Naaaaaah," the skeleton interrupted. "Just a reason."
"Reason," Asriel muttered. "I was scared. I didn't - I don't have my soul, Sans. So if I ever die, and I mean die for real, then I..." He glanced at his hands. The fur seemed so thin. The rough pads so brittle. His breath started to come in heaving pants. "I... I..." His eyes flew wide as a yawning pit of horror opened in his stomach. "I'd... I'd..."
Sans was suddenly there. His bony phalanges found his back. "Hey hey, easy there kid," he shushed, looking at him with his sockets pulled up in concern. "Nobody's gonna hurt ya. So, you kept resetting because you didn't want to die?"
"At first," he admitted. "But like I said, I don't have my soul. Back when I was a flower, without the power I have now, I couldn't feel... love. Joy. I couldn't care about others. I kept telling myself I should, I kept telling myself that I couldn't hurt you, but..."
"... but who cares when you can take it all back," Sans finished. "And you can keep tellin' yourself it's wrong, but if you don't feel it you won't care?" Asriel nodded. "Yeesh, that's rough, buddy. I dunno how I'd take it if I just suddenly... stopped carin' 'bout Paps. So what about after you got this power source? And uh, care to explain how?"
"Right, right. When I got these powers... they're souls, Sans. Six human souls, plus the souls of every monster in the Underground. I..." His lips curled in shame. "I blanked them. Not on purpose!" he blurted, looking up at Sans with tears in his eyes. "My resets just kept taking away memory after memory until there was nothing left, and I didn't care because I didn't even remember what it felt like to care so whenever the souls started making me care I stopped it and I hurt everyone, I..." Asriel fell to his knees, his thoughts flashing back to his bloodier, dustier runs as his breaths came stronger and stronger. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it... I... ah, aaaaahh!" he wailed, his paws over his head.
A bony hand found his back. "Uh... hey, there there?" Sans shrugged. "Hey, kid. Kid, up you get." Sans's bony arms wrapped around Asriel's waist, and with his usual surprising strength Sans pulled Asriel onto his feet. "Take it easy. Ya've been through a lot."
"Why are you even trying?" Asriel hiccuped. "Don't I have a lot of LOVE?"
Sans shrugged. "Well sure, but no MURDER so I ain't that bothered. Hey, I've got my questions answered, I'm happy. But your sister said something about you... ending the resets?" Sans tilted his skull. "How exactly would that even work?"
A shot of cold, numbing fear passed through Asriel. Right, removing the resets. The thing he promised he'd do in exchange for Chara recreating the world he missed so terribly that the longing ate away at him like acid. "Oh, yeah." He hung his head, again. "I need to get to Alphys's lab."
Sans nodded. "Right. Hey, come over behind the house. I know a - "
" - shortcut, I know." He waved a paw. "I don't want to bother you, I'll teleport myself."
The skeleton eyed him curiously for a moment, then shrugged. "Suit yourself."
Everything went dark. A moment of panic shot through Asriel; had Chara destroyed the universe again?!
The world returned, and Sans was gone. He took a moment to relax, and teleported himself out of Snowdin and into Alphys's upper laboratory, right next to where Sans had arrived.
The skeleton glanced at him when he appeared. "Huh, you weren't kiddin', kid."
Alphys's lab was just like it always was. Bright, smelling of ramen, with all the various toys Asriel knew well. Much to his surprise, the doctor was here too. He would've thought she'd seen them and... run off, or something.
She spun around from her chair, away from the screen, and jumped off. "Oh my God, Sans! And... Prince Asriel?!" She wrung her claws together nervously. "Sans, what the hel - heck is going on? And um, Prince Asriel how are you...?"
"Long story," Sans said. "Kiddo here says he needs to use your lab."
Alphys blinked. "Um, but um, give me a second, this is all so sudden!" The lizard monster took several deep breaths before scurrying over to the two of them. "What do you need, your Highness?"
This was it. "I need to use your DT Extractor."
If he didn't know what to look for, he would've missed the moment of chilling horror that flashed over Alphys's face. "My... what? I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about, your Highness."
He grimaced. "Alphys, I'm a time traveler. The bathroom door." He nudged his head towards it. "Leads to your lower laboratory, where you keep the amalgamates Reaper Bird - " Her eyes grew wider and wider with every word. " - Endogeny, Lemon Bread, So Cold, and three memoryheads. I know, Alphys."
Her mouth fell open. "Y-Y-You... oh God, oh God..."
Sans raised a brow. "Uh, Alph, what's he talkin' about? Somethin' happen with your DT experiment?"
"Nothing!" she shouted, stepping towards the skeleton and waving her hands. "Nothing, nothing! Prince Asriel I don't know where you've heard this kind of nonsense but..." Asriel fixed her with a look. Internally he wilted at manipulating her like this. Especially given how much Alphys beat herself up already. But he had to do this before he lost his nerve. And it wasn't like he knew how to use the DT Extractor; he'd always made sure to stay far away from it. "But..." He kept looking at her. "... but..." Her head fell. "You're right. I have one. Right this way," she muttered, trudging to her bathroom door with her tail dragging on the ground.
Asriel glanced at Sans, then followed after Alphys. The skeleton followed the two of them. The door opened, revealing the secret elevator behind it.
"W-W-Well, here it is," Alphys stammered, stepping to the control panel. "Sans, um... I mean Your Highness, um... Prince Asriel, you seem to know. But uh, Sans, you don't. Just... don't be too surprised by what you see, and don't bother telling me how horrible I am for making it because I already - !"
"Hey, Alph," he said, taking a bottle of ketchup out from inside his jacket. "Chill." He turned the bottle upside down and smacked the bottom, but nothing came from it. He shrugged and placed it back in his jacket, replacing it with a bottle of mustard to drink from.
"Alright, um, here we are," the doctor said, placing a shaking claw on the 'G' button. The elevator began to hum, and descended. Asriel stood in a corner, wringing his hands together. How many times had he hurt these two? Torn them apart, or needled them with insults perfected by trial and error? How many times had he made them watch their loved ones die in any number of ways? How many times had he tortured them, listened to their s-screams?
Oh God, he was going to be sick.
Thunk. Before he could throw up, the elevator reached the bottom and opened up, revealing the well lit corridors of Alphys's lab. Some mold clung to the corners and a foul smell drifted through the air.
"This way," Alphys muttered, stepping out to lead them through the corridors of her lab. Strangely enough, they didn't encounter any of the amalgamates. Were they hiding?
The reptilian monster kept her hands together nervously. Asriel kept his head down and arms limp. Sans, meanwhile, kept his skull on a pivot, taking in every detail of the lab. "Huh. Guess this place is still here."
Asriel glanced his way. "After Gaster vanished, you mean?"
Sans nodded. "Yeah. You know 'bout him?"
"You told me, one run," he explained.
The skeleton nodded sagely. "Ah."
Alphys looked over her shoulder. "I'm sorry but um... w-who's Gaster?"
"Nobody," Sans replied quickly.
She raised a scaly brow. "Well uh, anyway, it's right over here, Your Highness." She scurried to the side and Asriel walked ahead, stopping and turning to face the titanic DT Extractor. It was made of desaturated red metal, shaped like a skull with two gaping eyesockets, with a mouth like beetle mandibles. Two rings of tubes went around the bottom, and more tubes hung it from the ceiling, precariously over a black void.
A shot of raw, primal fear went through him. He gazed at the machine, and everything it represented. No more resets. No more second chances. No more trial and error to get someone to say and do the things he wanted them to. No more take backs. No more k-killing anyone on a whim just to see how they died. All the doors that would close, setting him on one path and no other.
But... those doors were closed, weren't they? If he ever fell back into his... old habits, Chara would always be there to stop him, to destroy and recreate the world.
And he didn't deserve those powers anyway.
Still, it chilled him. The magic he got from his souls was boundless, but one day he'd lose it, one way or another. And then, he would die. The resets could prevent that. The resets could save him.
But that was just it, wasn't it? They could save him. But they had ruined him.
He jumped when the machine powered up, and whipped his head around. While he'd been lost in thought, Alphys had gone over to a control panel on the far wall and activated the extractor. The sockets lit up with white light, and the jaws parted to reveal an orifice large enough for a jar holding a soul - or a young boss monster - to fit. "All set, Prince Asriel," she said. "What was it you wanted to drain of DT?"
"Me," he said resolutely, staring at the machine as it gently vibrated against its wires.
Alphys stopped to look at him. "Wait... um, run that by me again?"
"I have eight and a half HDT of excess determination," he explained, trying to remember how much Alphys had given him as a flower. "I need to lose it."
She blinked, then gasped. "You have HOW MUCH?! How is it you haven't melted yet?!"
"Human souls," he explained. "Their magical power lets me keep myself from melting. But on top of my seven souls worth of DT, I have another eight and a half extra, and I need to lose that." He looked her way. "Please?" he asked, creating a save file.
"Um..." She blinked. "Sure? Just, jump right in there when you're ready. Seven souls... wait - "
But before she could process what he'd said, Asriel leaped across the abyss and into the bottom of the DT Extractor's jaws. It expanded into his field of vision as he approached, dominating his sight. He floated himself up into the slot and called out, "Whenever you're ready!"
A beat passed.
The jaws beneath him closed, sealing him in the humming machine. Fear took hold of him again. He was going to lose his resets. He would lose the only thing that made the vast majority of his life worth living, the one compensation he got for his death, the one undeserved prize he'd gotten for failing his sister. He could still escape. Still vaporize the machine around him, still teleport out, still -
The darkness around him gave way to blazing light. He grunted and closed his eyes, shifting around in the small space he had. He opened them again, and saw streams of red liquid forming around his fur and clothes, flowing off and vanishing into the machinery around him. Asriel didn't... feel anything changing, but he knew it was. This was it. It was actually happening. He watched, breathless and stunned, as his determination was drained.
After a short minute, the machine opened and he hovered back to the floor. Sans and Alphys stared at him nervously. "... so? How do you feel?" she asked.
He flexed his fingers. How did he feel? Asriel felt... unsure. He felt weak. He felt uncommitted, like any endeavor he'd undertake he'd just give up halfway. He felt for his latest save file, just before he entered the machine...
Nothing. Not only could he not access the file, he couldn't even tell it was there. It wasn't there. Frisk wasn't just blocking his reset power. Asriel had lost it entirely.
The resets, the one thing that gave him comfort for the past eight hundred years... were gone.
He breathed out weakly and laughed, looking at the pads of his hands. "I feel..." He looked up at Alphys and smiled. "Free. No more resets."
Sans nodded, and approached to put a bony hand on his shoulder. "Hey kid, I really appreciate what you just did here. It's a tough call. But a good one. You did really well, and it can't have been easy."
Asriel nodded. "Right. Thanks, Sans." He stepped towards the doctor and sighed. "Doctor Alphys, I uh... still need your help." Chara said it'd be okay for him to keep the power of his many souls. But it wasn't okay! He couldn't just keep them in him. Even if they were empty husks of magic and emotion, it wasn't right.
The thought occurred to him maybe he should change back into Flowey. Deserved to lose love and hope and joy, to lose the ecstatic, rotting guilt in his chest. But no. He couldn't do that to Chara. Couldn't do that to Mom.
He didn't want to go back to being a flower, anyway. He didn't want to stop feeling awful over Frisk, to stop caring for his sister, to stop loving his parents. Alphys had never, ever been able to help him before. But maybe... maybe now...
Asriel had no impression she'd be able to figure out something that day. Or even that week. But he'd ask her, and she'd accept because she always felt like she needed to make things up to people. He'd have to make it clear to her she'd already done so much, just by bringing him back from the dead. And he'd have to... have to do so many things.
With Sans and Alphys both watching him in tense silence, he started to explain the entirety of his situation.
For a few minutes, Waterfall was eventless. They didn't encounter anyone besides a few Aarons and Woshuas that Mom was quick to send running with a glare. Chara kept a hand on Frisk's back, following behind her mother. As they walked, her thoughts wandered.
Would she know when Asriel lost his resets? How was he even planning to do so? How would they break the Barrier? Would they just walk up to it and destroy it, or would Father first give a speech to the people?
She was torn from her thoughts when they came to the wooden raft across the river. After a quick discussion, they decided that Mother would take the raft, Chara would float, and Frisk would use a raft that Chara swiftly conjured out of material she gave floating properties to. As the three of them made their way across, Chara glanced ahead. Her eyes widened.
There was the goner kid, and standing at her back was Doctor Gaster himself. The former looked exactly the same as before, with a checkerboard blouse, gray scales, and blank eyes. Gaster was similar too, but the humming, static texture he'd had before was gone, replaced by pure, solid bone and cloth. The two were busy talking about something, and Chara made sure not to hear them. She didn't want to eavesdrop.
As the three of them approached, Gaster and the kid stopped talking and stared at them. The skeleton put his hands in the pockets of his suit/robe and chuckled.
Chara landed as the others disembarked. "Well well well," Gaster said. "Child I..." He shook his skull and smiled, placing a hand to his cracked right eye. "I do not know how, but you two... did it! What happened?" he asked, kneeling before Chara.
"Ah hem, I'm sorry, but you are?" Toriel asked, crossing her arms.
Gaster stood and gave a sweeping bow. "My apologies, Your Highness. I am Doctor W.D. Gaster. This here is a good friend of mine..."
"Cotych," the goner kid said, stepping forward to Chara and Frisk. She looked at him and bowed her head. "Frisk I... I should apologize for my harsh words, last we met. I'd been so tired, so hopeless, for so long. But you did it, you and Chara." She smiled and her eyes softened. "You saved me. You gave me back my life. My existence. I am forever in your debts, both of you."
"Oh, please, you d-don't have to," Frisk stammered.
"No, I don't," she agreed, swaying her tailtip. "But I choose to. You do not fully understand the... the magnitude of what you have done for me."
"Frisk, Chara," Mother interjected, gesturing to Gaster and Cotych. "Do you know these two?"
"Sorta?" Frisk said.
"We do indeed," Chara said bashfully, her rosy cheeks blushing with tar. "Sans already implied that Frisk, Asriel and I have had an adventure of sorts, no? These two helped us tremendously. I, in turn, simply aided them with a problem of their own."
Gaster chuckled, his voice still the same gibberish that required months of study to understand. "You did quite a little more than 'aid us with a problem', young one." He glanced down at Cotych. "My friend, do you not think it is time you returned home? Your brother must be worried sick."
She smiled widely and gave her tail a little swish. "You're right, he must be. Will you check in with the other three?"
The skeleton nodded. "I shall indeed."
Cotych glanced at the three of them again. "Then I guess I'm off. Chara, Frisk. Again, thank you." Her voice cracked and she teared up a little, sniffling through her nostrils. "Y-You don't know what this means to me." Then she vanished, with hardly a trace. With her demonic senses, Chara felt the path she tore through spacetime, back to Snowdin.
"I must be off as well, Your Majesty," Gaster said with another bow. "If I am excused?"
Mother blinked. "Oh, why um... of course!" She laced her hands together and nodded lightly in his direction. "Doctor Gaster, you are excused." He smiled, and vanished. Then Mom turned to the two of them, gave a toothy smile, and wagged a finger. "You two!" She sighed, then knelt and wrapped Chara in a hug. "I am so proud of you. Helping them, however you did, clearly meant a lot to them. You've done good." The monster looked up at Frisk. "Both of you." She let go of Chara and stood. "Now, let us continue!" She frowned. "Strange language, though, that Doctor Gaster speaks. I wonder when I learned it..."
The rest of the trip through Waterfall went without incident. They met an aquatic monster by the name of Onionsan, and Chara took the moment to increase the depth of the water for him. Both she and Mother had to keep from crying as they passed the statue. The mad dummy ghost was easy to get by, but Chara once again took the opportunity to help her people by drastically raising his mannequin level, fully binding the ghost to their body.
Something tingled and twisted in her gut. So long ago, she'd tried to help people and did so much wrong because of it. But now, thanks to Frisk, she had a second chance. She could help them, could better their lives. The means were hers, she was... finally useful for something.
Cotych and Gaster weren't the only ones who owed him.
The heat of Hotland came. Toriel stopped before the laboratory and craned her neck back. "So many years," she whispered. "It has grown so much more magnificent since I was last here. I wonder, who is the royal scientist now?"
"A lizard monster named Alphys," Chara said. "Doctor Alphys." I helped Frisk murder her, she thought. "In any rate, I believe there is an elevator to the left?" she suggested, glancing in its direction.
Mother nodded. "Ah yes, L1! Come, children," she said, hurrying off. They passed two muscular royal guards on the way, a rabbit and a dragon. Neither of them said anything.
The three of them crowded in the elevator, and Chara hit R3. The elevator hummed, zipping up and to the right through the Underground. The doors opened and deposited them at the foot of the MTT Resort. As they climbed towards it, a few monsters stopped and stared. A green fire elemental girl, one of those plane monsters, and a hulking, bright red satanic monster. Mother wasn't as tense as she'd been, before; nobody had yet tried to start any trouble.
Inside the resort the air was classy, with a jazzy tune playing from hidden speakers. The statue of Mettaton in their memorial fountain sprayed a jet of water... out past the fountain to leave a puddle on the floor. At the very least, a nearby drain kept the puddle small.
"Hi there!" a crystalline monster said as they walked in. "Welcome to MTT Resor - "
Toriel glared at the statue, summoned a fireball in her right hand, then extended her arm to shoot it at the statue. With a blast of smoke and a wave of searing heat, it exploded into pebbles. The water spout's metal workings melted, causing them to drip their water into the fountain properly. She glanced around. "Is that going to be a problem? That I removed the defacement of my children's memorial fountain?"
The hotel workers and customers all vigorously shook their heads 'no'.
Chara smiled, and led Mother and Frisk to the elevator. They called it and, after a moment, it arrived. A black slime monster, a dragon, and a white manticore stepped out, then the three of them entered and hit the button for New Home.
The elevator ride took a while, and Frisk took the opportunity to slide in and hold her hand. She glanced at him, and he just batted his eyelashes suggestively. "Oh my God," she hissed to him, a smile breaking through despite her tone. "Do you ever stop?" she asked, heat rushing to her face.
He had the nerve to shrug and say nothing.
And Mom had the nerve to smile.
Not soon enough, the elevator emerged and they stepped out into New Home. They stopped by the hallway and looked down the main city. It was loaded to the gills with monsters of varying shapes and sizes, going about their days with smiles on their faces. Not one of them looked up to see the three of them. Not that Chara could blame them. They had their own lives to deal with, struggling to survive in the crowded Underground. But not for much longer.
The road to the house was spent in tense silence. They arrived at the door and Mother stepped forward to open it, then hesitated. Toriel gnawed on her lower lip with her fangs. "Is everything alright?" Chara asked, stepping forward while still holding hands with Frisk.
"I... yes," Toriel said, adjusting her robes. "It is just... I have not seen Asgore in a very long time. I have... so many things to say to him. I do not know how I would... even begin!"
"Opening the door would be a good start," she suggested. "Just know that nothing ill will come of it, Mother. I promise."
"Ill will come of what?" another voice asked. They all spun around - a jolt of terror passed through Frisk's soul - to see Asriel there. He looked... different. Chara couldn't quite place it.
The young boss monster stepped forward. "Is it about Dad?" he asked quietly.
Mom nodded. "It is. He has done so... so much. He has murdered six people, Asriel!" she exclaimed. "I cannot simply forgive that just because the two of you are safe and sound!"
"I've done worse," Asriel said. "I've done so much worse, when I was still... confused. Mom, I know your last memory of him is with him angry, but... he calmed down. It eats at him every hour." His voice softened. "He cries himself to sleep every night, dreading the arrival of the next human. Please, you at least owe him a chance."
Mom whined quietly, but relented at Asriel's pouting look. "Oh... very well, my child. For yours and Chara's sakes, I shall try." With a swift motion she spun around, opened the door, and barged in.
Chara glanced at her brother. "Good job," she muttered, impressed.
He sighed. "I'm not proud of it but... I can get them back together. I know what to say. I mean if it's..." He looked into her eyes. "If it's alright with you? I know it's pretty manipulative."
She shook her head, glancing back at Frisk who looked pale as a sheet. "It's fine. If we can help them, we kinda have to. Also, did you... ?"
Her brother nodded queasily. "I did. I lost the excess DT." He looked at Frisk. "The resets are all yours now, Frisk. I couldn't get them back if I tried."
She and Frisk shared a look. She wondered what he was thinking, now that he was in control of the power that had tormented him for so long. "I'm just... going to go inside with Miss Toriel," he said, pulling away from her and heading inside. "See you soon, Chara." He ran into New Home.
Once he was gone, Chara stepped towards Asriel and inspected him. Now she saw what was different; his DT number had gone down. By over half. Well below Frisk's. She stepped closer and surprised him with a hug. "Hey," she whispered into one of his floppy, fuzzy goat ears. "I'm proud of you, Rei. I know it can't have been easy to go through with this."
"It was pretty scary," he admitted into her ear. A pause, and he sagged against her. "Chara I, I think I've destroyed something beautiful."
Not letting go, she asked, "What do you mean?"
"Whenever I don't interfere much, Frisk always does very well in the Underground. Provided he can reset out of death, or I do it for him, he always makes the same good friends. Sans, Papyrus, the guard captain Undyne, and Alphys. Most every time, he's adopted by Mom and Dad. They're all such good friends, he helps them with all their problems and insecurities and I just..." He sagged against her. "... I destroyed that. And now I can't even take it back."
"Hey, hey." She rubbed his back. "It'll be alright, Rei." She pulled away and held his shoulders, staring right into his eyes. "We'll just have to help them ourselves, won't we?"
He nodded. "Right, right." He looked behind her. "Um... for starters we uh, should probably go after Mom."
"Right." With that, the two of them walked into New Home.
It was just as it'd been when she and Frisk had passed through not long ago. Well, 'not long'. Over a year for her. Grayscale walls and floors. Brilliant golden flowers stacked in pots atop shelves. She sensed Frisk and Mother had gone downstairs. The padlock was still in place, so they must've just gone over or under.
Chara warped past it to the staircase, and Asriel followed suit a moment later. They silently walked through the path behind their home, to the throne room. Nervous energy knotted inside her gut. What would Dad be like? She and Frisk hadn't gotten to see much of him in the short time before killing him. Had he really changed as much as Mom claimed? Or was Asriel right, in that he was torn up every day over what he was doing? How would he react to seeing them? Would he even want to see her, the child who led him down this path?
The two of them entered the judgement hall, where Frisk had died over a thousand times to Napstablook's wrath. Lights poured through the windows and cast long shadows upon them, the only sound the tapping of their feet on the marble tiles.
Then, they were at the entrance to the throne room. Mother and Frisk were there, staring through the doorway nervously. She could see Dad inside, watering the flowers with his back to them.
Mother sighed. "Chara, Asriel, are you ready?" she whispered
"I guess," he whispered back.
"I am," she said resolutely, striding up to her mother's side.
Frisk looked at the three of them nervously. "I'm just... gonna wait out here, if it's okay."
She smiled at him. "We won't be long, I hope."
Chara, Asriel, and Toriel walked inside. The sweet scent of floral pollen wafted into her nose. Chara cleared her throat.
"Oh? A visitor?" Asgore rumbled. "Hold on one second..." He knelt and placed his watering can down. He spun around. "Howdy, how can I - " He cut himself off, a breath caught in his throat. "Char - Tori - Asrie - ah, oh! Oof!"
Asriel ran at him and collided with his shirt, wrapping his arms around his father. "Dad I'm so sorry, it's all my fault I didn't want to fight back but I still went there and I hurt everyone so badly and I - " He cut himself off by burying his snout in Asgore's chest.
Asgore ran a hand down Asriel's back, staring off into the distance. "There there," he muttered, like he hadn't entirely processed what was happening. "It's alright. It's alright."
She stepped forward, her hands laced together. "Greetings, Father. I..." Her words caught in her throat and her voice cracked. He was here, just like she remembered. Just as old as he was when she died. "I imagine this comes as quite a shock to you?" she asked with a nervous smile. "Rest assured, this is real. The wonders of magic, and all. But there are some things we need to discuss," she explained, glancing at her mother.
He let go of Asriel and stood. "Yes. Ahem. Yes! My children, Tori - "
She cut him off sharply. "Don't call me that, Dreemurr."
His face fell. "Right. That is only fair. But, Chara, what is it we need do?"
"We need to end the war," she explained.
Asgore's expression crumbled painfully. "I know," he rumbled. "I know, but I cannot. This is the only way. We need seven souls for the Barrier." Toriel tensed. "Once one more human falls... and the people have been dreaming of the surface for so long, and you and I know that humanity will not suffer our presence. They never did."
"Things changed, Father," she assured. "We don't need one more soul." She drew her knife and briefly let crimson light flow across the blade, making Mom and Dad's eyes widen in shock. "I can break the Barrier. Rei can too," she explained, gesturing to him. He sheepishly fidgeted. "And... there's another human here, Frisk." She saw - in multiple ways - as the magic drained from her father's face. "He's the one who brought me back. He tells me that... humanity has changed. That we can make peace with them." Her expression turned dangerous and her knife lit up red again, harsh nines sliding across its surface. "And if they don't, then believe me when I say I'm more than strong enough to force them to play nice."
"Chara!" Mom chided.
She extinguished her knife and winced. "Sorry."
Dad breathed out harshly, glancing across the three of them. "I... I see. Everyone this is... so much. Do you mind if we go to the house and discuss this over tea?"
Mom started to open her mouth, but she and Asriel both said 'Yes' before she could object. She closed her mouth with a huff.
They started to make their way out of the throne room, and she caught her dad muttering to himself. "I... I need to find Undyne and Alphys. Armor, I need to get my armor too, no not that, the robes..."
A day passed. Frisk slept in her old bed in New Home. Not like she needed it.
Her parents hashed out details long into the night. She and Asriel spoke up now and then, but it was all politics. She didn't understand it. Maybe Asriel did, given his age, but he stayed out of it.
The next day came, and they gathered in the room by the Barrier. Father and Mother stood next to each other. A small golden crown rested between Toriel's horns, and Asgore wore his ceremonial Delta Rune robes, rather than his wartime armor. Though she didn't look comfortable next to him, she didn't say anything.
Asriel stood next to, and behind, Dad. Meanwhile she was next to Frisk, holding his hand, flat up against the Barrier as it hummed and shimmered behind them. It felt so fragile, up against her back. Not at all how dominating and impassible it'd felt back when she was a human.
With a motion of his foot, Asgore pushed down on a pressure plate. Seven tiles slid back across the dirt, and from them rose seven containers the size of herself. In six of them were each a single, shimmering heart. Chara felt a lance of horror go through Frisk.
Toriel looked at them and placed her hands to her mouth. "The... it's... it's them..."
"They are not awake," he mumbled, not daring to look at her. "The vessels are designed to ensure that." Stomping boots sounded up from the tunnel that led back to the Underground. "Ah, I think that's her."
Her? Who did Asgore mean?
Chara's question was answered in a moment as a towering monster, clad in armor as black as pitch, stomped in. She recognized her as the guard who'd crossed paths with Frisk in Snowdin, using spears and soul magic alike to root him in place. She didn't have her shark helmet on, though. Now Chara could see she was a fish monster, with giant yellow fangs, a single slit yellow eye with an eyepatch over the other, and a red ponytail. "Hey Asgore, what's the big - " The monster stopped and took in the scene. Chara watched as her one good eye slid over Mom and Dad, over Asriel, then to her and Frisk.
Then the eye went wide.
"ASGORE, LOOK OUT!" A magical spear formed in her grasp, pale blue with a white outline of magic around it, and she hurled it at Frisk.
Everyone else flinched, but to Chara's reaction speeds, the spear may as well have been in slow motion. She drew her knife, warped next to the spear, and sliced it right beneath the jagged head. The magic comprising the spear vanished into nothingness.
"Undyne!" Asgore exclaimed, rushing next to the guard after dispelling Toriel's fireballs. "Do not do that! We are here on ceremony."
"Ceremony?! That's a human right there!" she raged. "Two of them! You've got the souls out and everything so why aren't we..." Undyne looked over to her and Frisk again. "... we..." She looked at Toriel, then at Asriel. Her good eye went wide. "Holy shit, what the hell?! Prince Asriel! Princess Chara! What! How! You two were dead!"
Chara shrugged. "We got better." She gestured to Frisk with her head. "Frisk here is the one to thank for bringing me back in the first place."
Undyne's face went through a hilarious cycle of expressions. She settled on a grim face. "Well, that's touching and all, but we still need one more soul - "
"Actually Undyne," Asgore interjected. "We may not need any souls at all. Chara and Asriel here have assured me that their resurrection gave them the powers they needed to destroy the Barrier on their own."
Undyne went through another series of faces. "But..." She pointed at Frisk. "But the humans need to... it's..." She sighed. "Ah, forget it," Undyne growled, stomping over to Asgore's side. "Who're we waiting for?" she groused.
'I don't think she's happy with this,' she thought to Frisk.
He raised an eyebrow at her. 'You don't say?'
"I sent out a call to Alphys and Sans - "
She rubbed the back of her head. "Right, right. Sorry."
Asgore nodded, but it was Toriel who spoke up. "A great portion of New Home's population has been invited as well. Just... as many people as we can fit in this chamber, really." Mom grinned. "It is a special day, after all."
Sure enough, more and more people started to pour in. Alphys and Sans, who'd brought Papyrus. Some city monsters from the capitol she didn't recognize, crowding along the edges and muttering to themselves. Gerson came too, much older and hunched than she remembered. Gaster entered silently with the three gray monsters of Hotland following him, though she noticed the feline one wasn't holding a head anymore. Cotych, the gray reptile kid, came too. She brought another monster with her. He was similar to her in structure, but his eyes were normal and his scales a vivid yellow. Instead of a checkerboard blouse, he wore a striped shirt.
The brother she'd mentioned, perhaps?
Mettaton came in his box form, and she felt Frisk's grip on her hand tighten. More monsters came and came, filling up the space while leaving half of it free for them to stand. Sans and Papyrus stood behind Dad, while Undyne and Alphys took up spots behind Mom. She slid away from Frisk over to her brother. He was busy staring at the yellow human soul.
"So," she said. "Which one of us is actually going to, you know?" She juggled her hands. "Break it?"
"You should," he sighed. "I've broken it a lot of times before. Golly, if this is the last time the Barrier will ever shatter, then you should be the one, Chara."
She nodded. "Very well, brother." She returned to Frisk.
Once there were enough monsters in the chamber, Father began to give his speech. He warmed up the crowd, explaining the miracle of her and her brother's return. Chara took a deep breath to calm herself. The enormity of it began to dawn on her. They were going to break the Barrier. Monsterkind would be free, after so many years in the dark. She would go with her family, onto this new world full of kind, futuristic humans.
Murmurs rolled through the crowd in wave after wave as Dad touched on what would be happening, such as the dissolving of the Royal Guard. Finally, Dad took a step back and gestured to Chara. "My dear Chara, would you come here and say a few words?"
Her eyes went wide and her limbs cold. Then Frisk patted her on the back. "Hey, you can do this."
Chara relaxed and let go of his hand. She walked forward, standing before the massive crowd of monsters. Her parents stood behind her on either side. What could she possibly say to them? What words? What were they expecting?
"I made a mistake," she said at last, silencing the few people speaking. "I made a mistake, and so many people have paid the price. My brother died. My parents separated. The people of the time despaired. Six humans died. Five monsters were removed from existence itself. And that is just what I know of. Freedom remained so far out of reach because I died early, rather than die old and let my soul linger here patiently." She sighed. "So much has gone wrong, because of me. And it is only by great fortune that I stand here today, not of my own skill." Chara sagged. "In my time, the people of the Underground looked to myself and Asriel and claimed me to be the future of humans and monsters. That if I could get along with Asriel so well, surely there was hope for peace.
"And in a way... that is true. Frisk, the new human behind me. He is the one who brought me back to life. He is the one who saved Asriel from himself. Revived me. Empowered me. Your impending freedoms are thanks to him, and him alone," she explained, sending more whispers through the crowd. Chara sagged. "So much has changed in my absence. Humans have changed. Monsters have changed. People have died. There's nothing I can do to change those things." She grinned widely and drew her knife, and the sunlight streaming through the Barrier glinted off its metallic edge. "But there's one thing I can do. People of the Underground, are you ready for the Barrier to be destroyed?" she demanded.
Cheers responded to her. They were cheering for her. They were supporting her. She had to remember that.
Behind her, Father walked to the soul jars and, one by one, unscrewed their tops. Chara turned around to watch the souls as they drifted up from their containers, waved through the air, and faded like mist.
She could sense everyone holding their breath.
Chara approached the Barrier, knife in her left hand. Once she was close she reached out her free hand and stroked it along its surface. It was cool and smooth, like glass. It changed from white to dark gray to light gray to black underneath her hands, humming with the immense soul power within. This was it. The cause of all her people's suffering. The cause of their isolation, their crowding, their every woe and pain. She had given her life to bring it down. And what would lay past it? She could check it with her demonic vision, sure, but how much had it changed since Asriel walked through? How much erosion and industrialization?
She paused. Everyone behind her waited with baited breath.
Chara drew her knife over her head and clasped it with both hands. With a scream, she drove it into the Barrier, sinking it halfway in. For a long moment she kept her weapon in. Then...
Exactly like glass, she thought.
Ruptures and cracks spider-webbed out from where she kept her blade. They expanded outward until they vanished out of sight. Then a larger crack, the shape of a lightning bolt, went down the middle. With a glorious slam and a rush of air, the Barrier slid open while crumbling at the edges.
She'd destroyed it.
It took her a moment to realize that the ongoing noise wasn't the Barrier's destruction echoing in the chambers. It was instead the cheering of the monsters behind her. Mom approached her from behind and ruffled her hair.
A simple arch stood on the other end of the Barrier. Beyond it, Chara could see shafts of sunlight streaming in from an open blue sky. She started walking. She was dimly aware of others walking as well.
She found herself on a ledge, high above the ground. Shoots of greenery grew from cracks around her. To her right was a path that wound down the mountain. In the distance was another mountain with a sharp and snowy peak. Grassy plains extended to the horizon, wrapping around what appeared to be a castle. No, wait. It wasn't a castle. Too metallic, too blocky. They were buildings, a collection of buildings so tall as to scrape the sky.
It was blue, with a few wisps of white dotting it. Distant birds flocked across the sky, and a gentle breeze blew her hair around behind her. Above her was the Sun, pouring down its light upon them. Her Sun, not some alien star. Her world, not some alien planet.
Mom came and stood to her right. Across her was her brother, and then Father. Frisk arrived and stood next to Dad, his arms crossed and a satisfied smile on his face. Sans, Alphys, Papyrus, and Undyne followed. Behind them was Gaster and Mettaton, more and more monsters by the second.
"Wow," Alphys whispered. "It's amazing. So much better than on screen."
"Yes, it is," Gaster chittered. "Is it not?"
Undyne turned her head back at the skeleton. "Hey, mind speaking English?" she teased. Gaster created pupil-lights in his sockets, then rolled them.
"Hey Sans!" Papyrus asked. "What's that tall pointy thingy over there?"
"Oh that? Eh, it's a mountain."
"A mountain, eh?" Papyrus wondered, rubbing his jaw with a glove.
"It's just as I remembered," Mom reminisced. "Chara, thank you for this."
"It wasn't me," she reminded her. "I just went through the motions. It's Frisk you should thank."
Mom blinked. "Oh. Tee hee. Well then thank you, Frisk."
He shrugged. "It's okay, Miss Toriel."
"We can make peace," her Father sighed. Then he raised his voice. "Ahem. Everyone, this is the beginning of a new era. An era of peace between humans and monsters, from now until forever more."
That seemed to get Papyrus's attention. "Right you are, your Majesty! And if I can't be a member of the Royal Guard, I'll just have to use my talents to be the best Royal Ambassador to the humans!" Wait, what? "I'll see you all later. I'm off to start my shift!" Then, like an idiot, the skeleton began running along the path to the human city.
"I have some concerns," Chara remarked as Papyrus's friends followed after him.
Frisk chuckled. "I should probably get going, too. It's a long way back to Ebott Village, after all. And, I mean." He rubbed the back of his neck, grinning awkwardly. "Last anyone knows, I went climbing the mountain. Wouldn't want folks worried something happened to me. I'll see you around!" But before he started to walk, Frisk pointed two fingers at Chara and clicked his tongue. "See you later, gorgeous."
Her eyes went wide. Then they went hollow. Chara covered her face with her hands and screamed incoherently while Frisk smugly sauntered down the path. Finally she composed herself and lowered her hands. "I am going to kill him," she growled, remembering to reform her eyes.
Mom and Dad both laughed quietly. Even Asriel had the nerve to crack a smile. Eventually, Dad spoke again. "We should probably get going. We have a lot to do, especially if Papyrus..." He trailed off.
"Indeed we do," Mom said coldly.
"Mom," Asriel said. "Do you hate Dad?"
All four of them cringed. "Asriel, my child. Hate is a... strong word," she said, glancing down at him. "You must understand, your father has done horrible things." Said father looked away guiltily, frowning. "They are not the kind that are easy to forget."
"I've done worse things," he whispered. "Much worse. You don't know about them, but I did."
She sighed. "Oh Asriel, you keep saying that but that's not true." But Chara and Asriel both knew that it was.
"So... does this mean we're not going to be a family again?" her brother wondered morosely.
Chara winced. Low blow.
"I... I did not say that, my child." Mom looked at Dad. "It just... may take a while."
Asriel nodded. "I understand. We should probably go," he said, turning down the road.
"Right, we should indeed."
"Well gosh, everyone else is already going..."
The three boss monsters started down the road, Chara staring at them. Chara looked up at the Sun, then down at the spiraling road. She found where Frisk was, hopping across rocks to make his way down. She looked back at her family, and followed them into the world.
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