School passed by fast enough. Alphys had still been hung up on trying to explain the particularities of the Human-Monster War that had very much been ancient history. She was always polite in her terminology, but perhaps a little too polite as she tried to inoffensively explain the very radical issues that might've otherwise fallen on deaf ears if not for the fact Kris had been there. As she did when she was uncomfortable then she often fell back onto topics she was supremely comfortable teaching.
Like last week's episode of WoofPaw's Drag Race and why it was INCOMPREHENSIBLE that Tricksy Mattel, who was a viral lipsync artist known on YouTube LOST two rounds of the lipsync competition and-
You felt a tap in your lap. It was a paper football sent from your three o'clock. You didn't even glance at Kris as you took your claws and opened it with one hand beneath the desk. You often used the same paper for a day of note passing, and this one had shown a more active day of it.
Nah I'm good, thanks by the way
Why don't we use the word 'butt' more in insults?
IDK it's too simple maybe
That's something a butt would say
You're stretching it
If teach actually gets onto the human anatomy lesson you would think otherwise
Those messages, among others, had been tossed back and forth. As far as school went it's how you communicated the most, Alphys having caught you on your phones more than enough. Though that being said, showing up on-time nowadays had actually given you the choice of seating: so in the back, away enough to play this game of message in the bottle.
You read what it had been this time.
Do you want to prank the Dance?
That had actually gotten a reaction out of you, turning over and seeing him surprised that you did look over, an eyebrow raised.
For most of Hometown, they had been the first Human many of you had seen. Towns up and down the state typically operated along majority-lines, that is, Humans with Humans and Monsters with Monsters.
For longest part of their life, they explained to you, they really did think that they were a Monster. You laughed at that when they first mentioned, but the look on their face, it read of truth. Deep down truth. You remembered vaguely of your kindergarten photos that Miss Toriel still kept in her own classroom: In it, a smaller Kris, and you for that matter, shoulder to shoulder during that one time in your life you had been the same height. They had been wearing a headband of some Halloween costume, giving them the spikes of some devil.
It was cute, in that oddly sad way.
They never fit in, but neither did you, to be fair.
You scribbled in your response with a half-dead pen, folding it up and sending it back his way.
Berdly had often tried to draw attention to this act, but most of the time you and Kris played dumb as either you ate the paper note whole before Alphys would ask for proof, or… Kris would eat the note.
Yeah… You weren't so sure if that was entirely kosher, but he had been a champ about that one time.
Opening up the sent message he had of course expected it.
They scribbled their response and fired it back as Alphys was explaining that drag queen politics had been DAMAGING to the movement as a whole and that not being able to OBJECTIVELY evaluate what was CLEARLY the WINNING ACT-
Alphys had been getting away with herself in one of her rare emotional moments that did garner the class's attention. Who amongst us didn't identify amongst the drag queens? Taking any attacks against them as personal attacks against oneself, victim, in solidarity, to most likely a heteronormative society.
I'm still thinking about it. But it has to be something that'll cancel it all. I really don't want to waste a night.
Reading Kris's note, it had struck you as special, coming from him. Usually his pranks had been without rhyme or reason, or, at least, a particular way for them to target whatever had been drawing their ire. There had been a more pragmatic reason behind this proposal, and you weren't so sure what that meant coming from them.
To be fair, you didn't want to waste a night either, but there was a situation that had been unique to you brewing on that night.
It was either go to the Sadie Hawkman dance and be annoyed with your peers all night, or, worse, go to your Mother's November Recital and be annoyed at stuck up adults and their kids who thought themselves deserving and worthy of dressing in stuffy suits and dresses and indulging in the self-affirming posh atmosphere. Why you had to go had been even worse: Dad had wanted you to go with him if you were free, and, well, Dad was Dad. You could never say no to him (without proper excuse).
Either way you were ending up in formal wear, and you just detested that outright.
"We should celebrate people who live and exist outside of their forms, and be not who they are told to be by people who would define what is and isn't normal. Identity is not something that should be chosen by other people, and if that identity is chosen, then the only right thing to do is to mock that identity. That is how drag operates; it is an all-inclusive satire which allows people who are having a hard time identifying themselves to have a little fun!"
Alphys was a good teacher sometimes, the class affirming with distant nods and muted agrees. It was fun to hear her actually speak on something she was comfortable with, not that you'd ever admit that a teacher was being tolerable. At least you didn't feel too bad with ignoring Alphys, it had been then once Mrs. Toriel's pleasure in trying to act out her own motherly fantasies with you during your younger years that perhaps made it so much easier to just hate teachers like you did. They had no place to dictate how people progressed through their lives, no place to fill in the gaps in your lives which-
Okay, okay. Yeah, you got it. You were a little messed up inside but who wasn't?
You two had weathered the rather insightful talk into drag queens that days, all the way up to the bell: 2:15 as usual. You had enjoyed the hour earlier you got between the jump in grades, you "high schoolers" had gotten some of that time back. It made actually going to school somewhat more tolerable. That being said you two weren't the first ones out of your seats when it rung, letting the class shuffle out in front of you as Alphys uncomfortably shuffled in her desk.
The sweet smell of gingerbread and expensive cotton had floated into your senses. You had known the scent well, in all your years in this town. It wasn't a necessarily a warning, or much of anything you knew, but it had meant that Noelle Holiday had been nearby. And she had been, sandwiched in the walkway between yours and Kris's desk. Distantly you could hear Berdly, in all of his high pitched nasally nerd voice, snicker as he left the classroom, taking a glance back. She always looked so sweetly at you, almost like Mrs. Toriel. With a smile, and a tilt of her head, she had greeted Kris with almost a curtsy. Kris had only returned it as she slacked back into their desk, waiting for who had been her obvious intended talk: You.
Her golden hair had floated in the light. This time of year the sun had been calling it quits earlier, and by that token, so were you.
Noelle had always been up and at them however, as much as it annoyed you. You had once told Kris that you hated quiet people. In truth you just hated everyone.
"H-Hey Susie." She croaked out, holding her own hands in front of her, not knowing what to do otherwise. Either that or it had been, as you had figured most of the time, akin to people keeping their hands out of biting distance of you.
Your longer bangs obscured your vision, you tilting your head one way to move them. "'Sup?"
This was where you had been the same old-same old. Kris had been the exception.
"I was just wondering if, uhm…" For being a daughter of a mayor, her speaking skills didn't seem that all up to snuff as you huffed once and that had seemed to spook her. "I was just wondering if you were doing anything after school today!" She said, hurried up, coaxed on by your presumed impatience.
As if you would hang out with her anyway, but… "Uh, why?"
Kris tilted their head your way, the slightest tilt of his eyebrow up behind Noelle.
"Oh, you know, I was just wondering if you had anything planned for the Sadie Hawkman's dance," she gathered herself up as if finding her own DETERMINATION. "And I know it's still a bit away, but I was going to go out and buy dresses and, ah- ah, ahhhhhhh-" She paused on the syllable in the same way one was caught with their pants down: unprepared. "It'd be nice if we could like, shop for dresses together."
You saw the way the laugh flew up her throat before you heard it, coming out of her mouth like a trainwreck in slow motion. Her hand had flown to cover her eyes and forehead. That was her tic when laughing you knew. Your version of humor matched with yours, and so you had seen her laugh more than you ever had known her to. That or whenever you completely ate ass when keeping up with her.
Point being, you had seen Noelle be humiliated before it actually happened when Susie's laughs came. Big HAHAHAHAHs.
"Me?!" She had said in between it all. "In a dress?! Come on Noelle, who do you think I am?"
What did you think Susie was before the Dark World? Dyke, jerk, bully. It was this impression that remained for those people that hadn't been you. It was the version of her that had been hard around the edges, sharp and brutal. The one that kept people at arm's length for everyone's sake.
And yet you were proof, perhaps, plain as day, that there was more to Susie than what she had been known as for years.
You weren't as so secretive about your new found friendship as perhaps you would've liked, and sooner rather than later, the rest of the class had known that you, Kris, and Susie, had been hanging out. That you two were friends.
You had your suspicions regarding Noelle, on her feelings for Susie. She was always much too nice to be able to weather what Susie emanated for so long. This new development you had put on with her, it was a crack she was willing to peer into.
A monster stared back.
Noelle had held her hands back as Susie laughed, and she was hurt. You knew it. Noelle always wore her heart on her sweater's sleeve.
Not that you were any different, technically speaking.
Your hand had gently reached up, touching her shoulder, giving her a placating smile.
You didn't mind if she still wanted company, going to shop for dresses, offering yourself.
Noelle had only smiled meekly, but appreciatively, a tear that had barely been there in her eye wiped by her finger as she laughed. "Oh, no, no, it's fine. It's more of a girl thing, don't you think?"
You had politely reminded Noelle that you yourself hadn't been opposed to wearing skirts and dresses at some point; the much younger version of yourself contending with identity issues that went beyond gender identity. No, your particular question mark in life, with yourself, was whether or not you had been a monster. Everything else you had well in hand.
Noelle had remembered those days well enough. "Oh yeah, I didn't mean to assume. Sorry Kris."
You had only smiled at her back, removing your hand as Susie finished her laughing.
"Seriously Noelle, I ain't really that person to be, like, wearing dresses and shit." She caught your eye as she looked back at Noelle, your lips pursing with a raised eyebrow. "Not like I want to go to the dance anyway."
"Oh-oh okay." Noelle had dejected, looking down at her black shoes. "If you, uh, change your mind, the offer it still stands."
Noelle had walked off out of the classroom, Alphys nose deep in one of her graphic novels as you two loitered.
You never let your look cease with Susie as the door closed behind her. "…Dude, what?"
You didn't say anything, crossing your arms. She had emulated unconsciously as that proud, mean look on her face melted away into unease.
The way the light bounced off of their eyes in the Autumn light of the day, through the windows, the colors of the room forming and casting onto Kris, it painted their eyes a shade of red looking down on you. Your claws had dug into your sleeves as they didn't stop looking at you like that.
"She should've known better." You spat out, without your control. "And you know. You really think I'm that type to just go shopping for dresses? With Noelle of all people?"
That wasn't the point, Kris had finally said. Their voice had been soft, almost a whisper. With you two alone in that room your naturally acute hearing had picked it up, reading his lips.
She offered to do something nice, with you. Kris explained further, unfurling his arms as you did as well, hanging at your sides. How often did Kris look down on you, height wise? You sitting at your desk still with them standing, it was a rare occurrence, one that offered you a glimpse of their face from below, that itself rarer due to how long, how unkempt, their hair had been some days. Even if they didn't share the blood of Asriel, Kris had something of the young goat man's impression. A rounder face than most, but their jaw cut it into something, distinctly, boyish. Handsome maybe, by your account. Objectively speaking. Objectively. Nothing else. All of it had been backdropped by that hair of theirs, chestnut, warmer than the hot chocolate your shared this morning (Shit. That had actually happened). It grew long in the back as well, enough body to it to become either a pony-tail or mullet. You liked it better undone however. Easier to grab their hair that way. For whatever reason.
"Come on, let's head to the Co-Op."
Everything on their face spoke to an unkindness that only barely relented in a breath as he motioned to the door, and you had readily followed, Alphys squeaking as you glanced at her, walking out.
Noelle had darted around the corner when the two of you had come out together. You hoped she caught the look on your face.
You were many things. You weren't stupid.
"She likes me, huh?"
Kris had blankly looked up at you, eyebrow raised and then a shrug.
"Oh come on, don't act like you don't see the way she tries… why me though?"
The two of you had stopped by your lockers as you talked, both of yours near enough to each other, but on the opposite sides. Your bags were needed today, as they always were on days you went to the Co-Op, so you emptied them. Yours had made its home here in its disuse, an easy place for it to be picked up.
Your bag had been worn and barely holding together; the stitching done by Kris enough for days at a time, but not a long-term solution by any means.
It was a common theme that Kris surprised you. Their repertoire of skills ranging from legitimately fascinating to a little creepy, all of it, usually, done for the sake of mischief. Sewing by hand had been one of them. The depth of another person hadn't been your forte, not that it mattered much to you, but you weren't given a choice with Kris to be involved with them now. For what it was worth, they were very in-depth as a person.
They asked if you were, frankly, put off by the idea of a girl having a crush on you.
You had rolled the idea around in your head. "I mean, nah, it's pretty cool that girls think I'm hot too, but like, Noelle ain't really my type."
"I 'unno, dude. I know it ain't her, all proper and shit." Kris had shut their locker with their bag around their arm, their tongue poking the inside of their cheek, head tilted, still expecting something of you. They were good at talking like this, barely a word, and yet a statement said. It was pretty cool actually by your mark. "I mean it's not like it matters. I ain't even the dating type."
Everyone had a type though. Kris remarked to you, echoing the words of their brother. It was just matter of knowing what, and knowing yourself.
"Yeah? How did big bro figure himself out?"
It came easy to Asriel Dreemurr, you knew. The hypocrisy that Kris had run into seen in their eyes for a moment as they considered the question onto themselves.
He didn't want to be lonely, Kris said. The rest was easy after that.
You weren't quite sure what to do with that, the two of you, looking at each other across the sea that had been the hallway.
"Yeah, I get that." It came out of your mouth like an accident, and you had snapped your teeth with an audible click when it did. "I mean, uh, not that I am lonely, nowadays."
Then it happened, something you had seen more in the Dark, but Kris would occasionally relapse into now and again. They raised one hand, almost up to their forehead, and then had whipped it out, aimed at you like a gun. Like a gunshot Kris had given you a wink.
"Dude, don't even!" You had closed the distance aiming to put a good one into his arm, but he had side stepped you easy enough, seeing his feet square and take your arm over.
Beat the shit out of me later, they said, let's go.
The pressure of their finger tips on your arm, how smoothly they had slung their bag on their back, their imprint on your mind had been greater than you'd admit. Kris had been slick alright, and you were loath to admit you didn't enjoy it, leading you down the hall. You had naturally followed behind them, though you didn't make it far.
It wasn't often that Kris had been physical with you. Just by the particulars of yourselves, you often found yourself hauling them up or even carrying them across wider gaps or taller walls, such as this morning. Though there were moments. They were more perceptive at times, more patient in his moves. Times where you had thought a homemade… well out of lack of any other word, bomb, hadn't gone off in a dumpster had been more fun and less "OH SHIT I LOST MY EYE" by Kris simply barring their arm across your midsection as you moved in frustration to check, saving you a late-explosion in the face.
That same arm had come to your midsection now. This time a little more forceful than you had ever remembered as it actually forced you back.
At first those moves from them had been met by barks and shoves from you, but after a few expectant looks from him after injuries you didn't need to sustain, mistakes you could've avoided, you had done well to take some advice from them.
This was their most urgent as you stepped back.
It was when you saw the shadow of a very familiar teacher did you know when to act normal, slumping against one of the walls of lockers and going to your phone blankly as if you had been there all day.
She appeared like a ghost, for a woman so, comparatively, large, her footprints had been soft, like an angel's. Her voice had been calming, collected, caring. It was the voice of a mother, and a teacher. It was the voice of Kris's Mom.
She had kneeled down before him for a moment, taking his hands into her paws and running her pads over them.
"How was breakfast today? Was Julie happy to see you?"
Kris shrugged, giving a placating answer as Miss Toriel glanced over their shoulder and looked at you.
"It's-" She bounced around a few tones even in that one word alone, settling on something just short of surprise. "I'm glad you're still in school Susanne. I'm sure Agatha is happy about that."
Susanne. Such a prim and proper name. Like the name of your mother. The name you had now, the one that you preferred, it was what your father had used: Susie.
"Don't flatter me teach. Even I run outta things to do some days."
Miss Toriel had let go of her son's hands as she regarded you.
"Well, I suppose staying in school by any pretext is good enough…"
"Hey, if were up to me I'd be outta town in a heartbeat. Go have some fun elsewhere." You had promptly stood up, heading down the hall and ducking behind the corner, but as you passed you had caught this:
Toriel had given Kris a look; the sorta look that spoke to not wanting to have anything to do with you. "You're not hanging out with her, are you?" She said in hushed tones. Your hearing had been far better than you'd ever let on, and Kris barely had the suspicion. It was a shame they didn't talk much… or at least say things under their breath that you could use to your advantage later.
Why would I? Kris said, almost offended. A certain pang, deep inside you, it had rung out, though you squashed it soon enough, knowing he was lying.
"Ever since Asriel has gone off to college, well, I just worried that you would make the wrong type of friends without him."
Well Susie isn't the type to have friends at all, Kris explained to his mother.
"Fair enough. Just be careful around her. She's… nothing like her mother."
"And how are you doing, my child? Would you want to ride home with me?" It was what Kris had done before you. You never really saw them out about town, even though you knew they had been: sneaking around alleys and corners, scoping out the town and probably, just probably, seeking thrills the same as you. Why your paths had never crossed you didn't question.
Like all things, no one had a choice in what happened to them.
Kris had been quick to answer. Every good lie had the truth in it. They told her that they were going to the Co-Op to get some supplies for Alphys' project (you two still had no real idea what that was).
"You really are going above and beyond for class, are you my child? Perhaps Asriel coming home influencing you?" That was right. The big brother was home soon for break.
Perhaps, you heard Kris say. They weren't sure themselves.
Still all Miss Toriel had done was give a chuckle into her paw as she knelt down and wrapped Kris in a hug. It was love in public, the most natural kind of love: the one a mother had for their child, without condition. You ducked behind your corner, sparing you the sight, the indignation of seeing something you had barely known.
She had gone off quietly after that, avoiding your sight, you two waiting until you heard her car start up and go off appropriately. Kris had drawn themselves up after that, cycling a breath through.
They seemed pained, a weight on their shoulders that you had wanted to reach out and feel yourself.
Dad taught you something: his best, worst advice… Stay busy, stay distracted, and things won't seem so bad.
You gathered up yourself and the first thing that came to mind: "It's pretty neat being your dirty little secret."
Their closed their eyes in a chuckle as you emerged from the corner, walking to them. A huff came out of their nose.
As if you were their dirtiest secret, Kris joked back.
* What do you want out of this story?
. . .
* I think we already know…
. . .
* Just keep thinking about it.
Type. Type. Type… That word floated on your mind as you left the schools that day and went on the back trails to the next section of town.
She's, in all objective forms, attractive. We know this.
She hasn't the particular, clinical or planned density or firmness to her strength. All of it is molded onto her by pure necessity and her heritage as a dragon. Though there is something endearingly domestic about her that she couldn't escape: her hair is fluffy and voluminous, and more than once due to your upbringings you had beat back the urge to just run your fingers through it. When she does smile, it was genuinely genuine, all the rough corners and laugh lines of her face melting away and being used in joy instead of menace.
Yeah, her self-appraisal was correct at a baser observation of her features. She was hot.
You quash the thought from your head, but it remains, as it always had.
It was true, you didn't think of Susie often growing up, seeing her in the periphery of your vision and hoping not to be in her way, but going back, seeing her as she was: grown up from a little child with an attitude into the young woman she was today, it tracked.
If she had asked you the same question, of your "type", you probably would've responded just about the same.
But wasn't she your type? Don't lie to me I can see the damn drawing book with the dragon on it from where I'm sitting.
. . .
It spoke a little of Freud, honestly, that you saw little bits of Azzie in Susie: That same, strong form that hadn't been afraid to toss you around or take to bat for you, it was there. Not by family however, but because she had just found it worth it with you. That's what you hoped and probably known as true outright. Instead of going shopping for dresses, she was going out with you instead.
The path out to the Co-Op hadn't been a long one, about equidistant the length of Susie's home to the school, albeit in the opposite direction. The crunching of the leaves below your feet had let it known Fall had been in full swing.
A thought occurred to you.
"Yeah?" Susie had responded to the sound of her name from you. The question she was a little less prepared for. "Where would I go?"
Go have fun somewhere else.
You parroted her exact words and she was caught off guard by it. On one hand, you had figured it was just playing off of Mom. On the other hand…
"I 'unno man. Maybe move in with Dad in the town over, maybe head out to the big city or out west so I can go like, live with other dragons."
So, you didn't really know.
"I just want to get outta this town, man. You seen Burgerpants. I don't want to end up like him. Hell maybe I'll be one of those wanderers. Walk the Earth. I think the Dark World showed I can handle myself."
The future was always a scary prospect to you; as it was for Azzie, you remember. Though he had his support group, his friends who were in the same position as them.
You were alone.
Or, at least, had been.
At least Azzie had a plan for his future after much mulling about, he confided in you. You hadn't even thought about it yet.
Susie had met that same challenge head on apparently.
Wander the Earth huh? You knew how this conversation was going if it involved Royale with Cheeses and Gospel. Azzie and you watched that movie when you were a kid and no one was watching. Probably one of the many reasons that Mom had against Dad, raising you two.
"Why you giving me that look? Not like you got a better plan." She had scooped up a twig from the ground and promptly felt it bounce off your shoulder.
What if I do?
She brushed some her hair out of her eyes, actually considering the thought.
You arrived at your destination soon enough, the burn on your leg not hurting that much now, all things considered. Every once and a while she would take a glance at it, trying not to draw your attention of course, and quite frankly you were flattered.
"If the other toothpaste boy was around, I'm sure we could've saved you the trouble… Sorry, by the way, again."
It was nothing, really.
Hometown Co-Op. Half-charity, half-general store. Local produce had been brought here to be sold alongside donations from the towns around. It used to be a retail toy store, but online shopping had done away with the chain. In its skeleton, Hometown had taken it and made it something a little more personal.
The sliding doors had opened and the checkout lanes had been staffed by only two people that day, about a quarter of full, the help kiosk lazily serving as a kick stand for the manager that day, dozing off.
One of the cashiers had noticed you two walk in, the other browsing his phone lazily.
With a meek wave he had greeted you from half the store away, going back to his own phone browsing business as this familiar location was stepped in again by you. Aisles and aisles, coat racks and coat racks, going on for a rather sizable area without the uniformity of big box stores. Charming, telling the story of Hometown's yesterdays. Pants too big for people who had thinned down, wedding dresses of marriages failed, left overs from generations, lost of their sentimentality. The houses of Hometowns each had their representatives here.
There had been a water-filled spray bottle sitting on the glass window pane that covered the front of the store, offering a view out to the parking lot. It had been yours. Well, technically, yours. On it the faded sticker of "Flower King" had been barely hanging on it. Why it had been there was pretty obvious given the kiosk set up in the corner of the store, alive and well, if not a little dry.
You walked over promptly after grabbing the bottle, Susie following patiently, understanding.
Every week your father would drop off a few pots of flowers to be sold here. Normally you didn't too concern yourself with the care of your father's flowers, you had thrown enough away pre-emptively to spare Mom the grief. Though these were an exception. They were really the only ones sold from Asgore. He was too nice when present to let his precious flowery be sold.
The winter flower variety had been up, promising to survive the coming cold, the ceramic pots and vases they were offered with sitting pretty beneath a window for sunlight, put up on a display of milk crates with their prices listed beneath them. Half of it had been sold off already, but the rest remained, and seeing as the Co-Op had been awfully busy apparently, they had undertended.
Aiming at the whole affair, you let loose a covering mist, and for a moment, you had thought that they had thanked you for the water as the soil they were sown in darkened.
Azzie had been more in touch with Dad's flower business. Before he had left, he had usually done the runs to deliver them both here and to people's doors. Perhaps that had been another reason why he was so loved: Who wouldn't be happy with a friendly goat boy showing up to their door with flowers in hand? You had no such luck. Susie stirred behind you, reaching out, taking a head of one of the buds in claw gently. Its petals had been a purple, much like herself in a way, a darker shade than the scales which she wore. A bright yellow center had lain on its face.
"What was that?!" She had nearly ripped the flower's head clean off as she turned to you. When had you stopped recoiling at her defensive snaps? You had waved her down. It was the name of the flower that you had said, and she had dropped it all. "Oh."
Pansies. More specifically the Princess variety. Deep colors in the late autumn, when they bloomed. A little difficult to handle, but Dad had always had his green thumb.
Susie had played it all off, packing away her hands into her coat's pockets before staring off toward the thrift store part of the Co-Op, though not before taking one last intense stare at them.
Purple, and all of its variations, had been a rare color in nature you had known. Hometown had its fair share of sightseers seasonally, taking in the myriad of warm and homely colors that the local tree and fauna would bring, especially around now. Though of those colors, purple had been unknown. Unseen, perhaps.
You didn't dwell on it too much, Susie moving on through the aisles as soon as you were finished over the flowers.
Save for another older gentleman, you had the run of the store yourself, so, typically, that had meant that you had been very handsy with much of everything on those shelves. Old china, old paintings, home appliances from the 50s, rugs, old sports equipment, lawn equipment, furniture, clothes, tons of clothes, all of them had been there for you beneath the harsh fluorescent lighting. Always something new.
For the more dignified objects there had been actual shelves and aisles for them, a bare amount of organization due, racks holding up clothes and aisles for toys for example, but, if it had been odds and ends, they had gone over into the eponymous pit. Toward the back of the store there had been just rows of bins, sold by the pound, their contents free to looked through. Shoe missing another half, toasters of reputable workmanship, knockoff accessories and pots and pans, some of things that Hometown had seen fit to "donate" or, in the case of Mom, actually donate.
Today, and more often than not you knew Susie wouldn't admit, she relied on the former definition and people like Mom.
The wiseness of getting sheets from what was essentially a thrift store had been dubious at best, but Susie hadn't particularly cared. It was what her thick skin was for, after all.
There had been a place for what she was looking for:
Nestled with the distant past, in pastel colors and soft plastics. It made her sick just looking down that aisle as you found it, but it was no use.
Susie sucked in the spit in her mouth as she drew in her breath, slouching her shoulders as you both stared down that messy aisle. A tap at your elbow by her own.
"Hey, dude, think you could find it?"
Kris crossed their arms, hands over the sleeves of their sweater as they considered.
Yeah, they could. It wasn't that long ago that Miss Toriel had bought Asriel new sheets anyway with his homecoming so soon, and she had always been wise enough to keep sending things this way for the Co-Op. They had handled getting rid of much of Asgore's stuff when he was kicked out, and, indeed, most of it remained here. The amount of people who could fit Asgore's clothes in town had been pretty much non-existent.
Still she was thankful for the Co-Op for more gentile things. It's where she had gotten the stuff to tend to a Human, after all, when he was adopted. It took you a second to really think on that when Kris commented about it. A second for you to go 'oh' in your mind and remember that even the sweater they were wearing was Asriel's at some point.
"Dude, why don't you like, get your own style or something?"
They shrugged as you began to walk down the aisle, flanked by stools and highchairs of childhoods come and gone. It was easier this way, they muttered.
The memories of who they had all once been floated around. By some cruel twist, every parent in Hometown had pictures of all the other children in town, if only because the School had been like that with photography. A dotted curve of the development of the youth. Embarrassing at times, and yet, one of the very few points that all of the kids in Hometown shared. From Berdly to Noelle, to you and Kris; the thought that even Temmie and Jockington had something in common was both amusing and a little weird. It was the same with every generation in Hometown though. At town hall, the final, senior pictures of what now been the adults around Hometown had been mounted, joining the ranks of those even further back. Your generation had been coming up soon to commemorate such. You would be the adults soon, and as you stood by the donated diapers and bottles intended for the smaller children around town now, you couldn't help but feel a little unease as you tried to distract yourself, scanning for your goal, whatever it looked like.
It almost led you into Kris's back as they stood still, looking eye level.
"?" You made some guttural sound in the back of your throat, asking them what was up. Kris paused, spotting it, tugging on your sleeve as you turned to where they drew their gaze upon.
A quilted blanket, thick and heavy and large, monster sized. The design of stars had been stitched onto its dark, blue background.
He's going to school for Astronomy, Kris had said once, you two stepping in front of the folded affair, a price-tag having been attached to it. You nodded. It certainly was a picture of the night sky, you imagined when it was all laid out.
Stars… That's all that there was to the Dark World, you remembered, looking up and seeing not the sky, but the star filled sky of a blackness beyond your imagination.
Wordlessly, Kris reached out, holding their hand to the sheets, balling their hands onto it as if holding onto something slipping from their grasp. They stepped forward, floating, almost like a ghost as for a moment they had dipped their head, their face down into the sheets laying into it. For a moment you knew; they were remembering their brother.
Of all the things you knew of Kris; the definite facts of their being and life and person, one stood out above all: They loved Asriel.
They missed their brother.
It's good, they said first, half muffled by the sheet and then not, lifting their face from it, the memory scent of a childhood imprinted.
"Good what?" One of your hands had landed on the sheets as if feeling for what Kris saw, subconsciously.
They turned to you, a smile on their face you had never seen before, shown to you, for you.
They were happy that you, of all people, were getting his sheets. It meant they remained with someone who mattered to them.
They smell like apples: Kris. A smell of something sharp, and sweet. Fruit you really didn't get enough of these days. It was a nice smell, one that had kept resonating from them like the scent of an animal. This was their nature. You craved it.
Moments, seconds, hours, days, years. You couldn't tell the difference as you two stood there, hands too close, but maybe too far away, the feeling blurred as Kris's smile faded and their eyes were wide, trying to process what they had said themself. Their hand had twitched on the sheets and you held your breath, but nothing came of it, not as they jerked away and looked away, taking a step back.
You had gathered the sheets up, throwing the roll of it over your shoulder, Kris looking at the left-behinds of growing up.
They had been staring over your shoulder.
"You alright, dude?" You let out.
They only pointed at your bag, hanging on one strap now as it snapped. You going to pick up the blanket had been enough to break the threading this time around.
The only reason why it hadn't dropped was the tension on your other arm, but it was no matter, Kris had come over, taking your bag, and you releasing it as it fell into their arms. They had motioned over to follow, and you did, over to appliances. There was a table and outlet setup for people to test the donated items before buying and Kris had been more than willing to abuse the goodwill of the place as a sewing machine had been scooped up off the shelf and placed down, a chair pulled up. All they needed was-
Kris had taken off again and you followed at a brisk pace, going over to linen and fabrics, donated by what you assumed to be some actual sewing shop getting rid of stock.
The spindles had been on a rack next to more delicate displays: Suits, dresses, polite looking pajamas and formal wear.
You recognized some of Asgore's own suits.
In his flower shop there had been a photo of his wedding day flowers above the counter: the white suit that he had worn in it as he carried Miss Toriel remained here now, and you only caught Kris taking another glance at it. Memories from before their time.
More common had been the smaller varieties, the shrunken down tuxedos and dresses meant for children and kids.
"Isn't it fucked up?" You spoke more looking up at the ceiling as Kris combed through thread. They tilted their head still, letting you know they were listening. "That like, at such a young age they put kids in these dresses and little suits like big adults and stuff? It feels like, I dunno, fake."
You tried to forget every day that you had once been a cutesy little girl, overalls and a bow in your hair, but like all things, nothing ever stays buried. You felt compelled to share why you had said that, not hearing Kris go through the sparse inventory.
"When I was a kid, my Ma, she had a bunch of these little dresses she put me into whenever I had to go to a performance with her. I never liked it. I'd be crying through the entire thing and she would have to take me outside and something- I mean, serves her right, but it just didn't sit right with me, or Dad, I guess, that I had to look all proper and polite and stuff when I didn't want to be."
What did you want to be then? Kris had asked, holding some thicker thread in their hand then the last time they did this.
"Me, when I was young. It wasn't really about what they wanted to be, but like, the choice itself, you know? I wanted that choice.
But how do you know what choices to make?
It didn't matter. It really didn't matter. "That's not the point."
Kris had taken that same glance over and you both looked at these wastes: what was the likely-hood that these expensive looking articles had been worn more than once? More than a handful of times before they were tossed away?
Kris said something then, catching you blankly.
It took a moment or two to process those words, that very idea, that-
"I'm telling you man, it ain't me."
You didn't lash out, strangely, even to you. Didn't raise your voice or your hand, just sincerely responded to the notion that Kris thought you'd look good formal; you'd look good dressed up.
You caught their gaze, and they caught yours. You were both looking at each other in a different way, gauging, guessing, wondering questions.
You broke off first, looking back at the formal wear.
"That thing you do, when you're looking at puzzles. It's what you're doing now."
Looking like what?
"You're looking at me! You know, looking!"
My eyes do that, they said.
"No idiot, just that wondering look. Why are you doing that?"
They had taken a moment, their mouth open for but a moment, but shutting. Nothing, they responded.
"Uh huh, thought so."
And again, you locked eyes, both with utterly serious faces about you two.
You don't know why a warm breath had come up to be stuck in your throat, a grin on the edge of your mouth, but you two didn't last five more seconds in that mini-staring contest before breaking into a giggle about how stupid you two sounded.
Why you were good at sewing was that you weren't exactly too enthused to explain to Mom that you had ruined your brother's clothes in some way or another. They, like all things of his, were remnant, memories, reminders of Asriel. He hadn't even been gone that long, but with the way that Mom treated some particular things of them, such as his clothes, still going through the process of cleaning them every week despite their lack of use, it was a ritual. One that you had been sure not to mess with, and if you did, righted immediately.
That green and light-yellow sweater, it had been Azzie's favorite. He had many, so you more often than not wore one over a black shirt in the cooler months. You adjust the collar and feel the threading from one such touch up.
You had been more than happy to patch up some of Susie's clothes, here, like this, she currently lounging in a reclining chair she had dragged over and throwing a baseball into the air, playing catch with herself.
The store had been pretty dead, and you two had been regulars. The staff on hand hadn't need worry about you two obviously using it to your own ends.
This wasn't even the first time you needed to patch up her bag.
There's therapy in it though, wouldn't you agree? Of seeing that needle come in and out of the flesh of the bag strap, constantly. In and out, piercing, effortlessly as you carve a red line. In this act, there is creation.
It wasn't much of a difficult job, all things considered, you taking a spare denim patch and welding the bag and its strap together again by the grace of threading.
You two sat in comfortable silence, in peace, which was an odd thing. Her proximity to you had been as comfortable as any deep, dark, insightful conversation you imagined what close friendships had actually been like. You weren't so concerned about her nowadays, if at all. Sure, in the Dark you had worried about having a "former" "villain" tailing you, and indeed you hadn't been entirely convinced about her at all up until she had taken a stand for you, but she had proved herself. To you? Of course. To herself? There was evidence to that. Point being you weren't worried about an axe being stuck in your back.
You liked having her around.
"What're your hopes and dreams?" Susie had asked, having stopped tossing her ball and instead just leaning back, looking up that tall ceiling.
It took you a few seconds to process that, the drone of the needle and thread pistoning tuning yourself out.
What are your hopes and dreams?
Do you have any?
Or are you just floating?
What do you two think?
You hear a piano in your mind, of something you're good at, undisputedly.
You answered you didn't really know. It was best not to think about things like that, you explained. Only disappointment would follow otherwise.
"Sheesh, nothin'? Your parents pushing you to anything?"
You and Azzie spoke a language of innuendo and phrasing. You picked up on things implicitly, which was why you asked right back at her.
"A bit." She sighed. "Guess."
You really didn't have to.
"Yeah. She wanted me to be a musician, or a singer, something like that." She adjusted her purple coat, glancing at the fact she did wear a band-tee right now: Paramonster. You knew a few songs; Azzie was a fan.
Cause God it just feels so good,
It just feels soooo good.
I watched his wildest dreams come true,
Not one of them involving you,
Just watch my wildest dreams come true.
You remember Susie singing earlier that day, there was certain clarity, a certain vibrato she usually covered up in her gruff speaking voice. It was an intentional thing on her part you must've imagined.
You cut the thread, the backpack strap reattached, and Susie had known, you hearing her walk over as slid the backpack out from the machine. Giving it an experimental tug, you felt it hold taut. Success.
"Fixed?" She asked, you turned over to affirm.
Hanging over your shoulder your face had been met with an eye-full of her hanging chest.
You had done well enough, if you had to think about Susie's PURE OBJECTIVE factors of attraction in more abstract terms. Who were you to objectify people in shape and size?
That being said shape and size were more than evident for a brief cognizant second down the view of her shirt as your head had jerked away a little too abruptly.
Not too abruptly to also notice Susie also pull away for a moment. In the metal reflection of the sewing machine you had seen her head turn away for a moment, staring off.
You pulled up neckline as best you could, lamenting that you were the type of girl to forgo bras.
My bad, you heard them whisper out as they continued the sewing.
A different you, the one before you had fallen into the Dark, might've actually scarred his face for taking a glance. Though you knew different, and you didn't want to do that to Kris. It was an accident.
"Ah, ain't nothin'." You said softly back, putting it behind you. "Perv."
A twitch of his eye and you knew they had been annoyed enough at the accusation; still they took it in stride as they looked up at you and snapped their teeth at you in jest.
You stared down again at him from a better angle, focusing on their hands. Their hands had been nimble, accurate; years of tinkering defining its articulations. They'd been busy lately by your mark, you noticed pricks, scars, bandages. You were baggy clothes generally, not much skin showing, so you hadn't particularly known what Kris's touch upon yours had felt like. You didn't think about it at all until now. You didn't think about what it would've felt like for those hands to run up and down your scales feeling the taut flesh and the scar tissue of it.
You needed to get off that thought, so why not pick theirs?
"Hey, so what have you got mulling about in that head of yours?"
They made a guttural sound in their throat, asking what, specifically.
"The dance. You said you wanted to prank it."
Oh. That single sound left their mouth with a hint of pleasure. They walked you through it as he had folded Azzie's blanket into your bag, stuffing it full.
All in all, it was going to be one of the last times everyone was going to be together, around, witness to the same thing at once. It was an opportunity like nothing else, and Kris wanted to end things with a bang.
"Sick." You had smiled so wide you could feel the air on your teeth. "But like, more specifically."
All Kris had done was ball their hand into a fist before opening it up, like a star. They were thinking about it, exactly. They'll tell you when they've got something more concrete. They paused however, handing your backpack back to you.
You really not going to be there? They asked.
It was a shame, then, you wouldn't have been there to see it.
"Why would I?" You said, taking back your bag and slinging it over your shoulder with the same slack that caused it to be like this in the first place.
Kris poked the inside of their cheek with their tongue, shifting their longer bangs as if rattling around their mind to form a thought: They said it would just be worth it if someone who appreciated their artform was there, first hand.
All you could do was just rumble in your throat. It was the only response you could muster.
You two had both checked your phones, but just a glance outside had shown off the darkening day, about an hour off from sundown outright. The hours always seemed shorter when you hung out together, but it was alright, there was always tomorrow.
Thumbing out a crumpled bill from your wallet you had seen Kris do their usual schtick. You didn't want to tease them too much about it, but they had the funds for the extras in life. An allowance, odd-jobs and favors from their brother; Kris was never of want, at least, physically. Must've been nice. You saw them go through every nook and cranny in the dark world, opening every chest, sure that every find was something that would've helped them through. Resourceful as they were, you weren't surprised they took care of themselves so neatly.
It was why he always handled the ridesharing calls.
You two had walked outside soon enough, waiting on the curb as the autumnal sky above gave its water colored aura onto Hometown.
It was nice, you admitted, just like, seeing, sharing, this type of stuff with Kris. It was simple, clean, uncomplicated. Just how you liked it. You told them, or rather, threatened them, that you hated the quiet ones, but that was just more of a show than anything: an excuse. Most people in your life talked at you, scolding you, telling you what to do, what to choose, what to feel.
Kris made no move like that. They simply just let you be.
A simple tan sedan, typical grandma coloring, had pulled up into the empty parking lot, coming to a stop in front the two of you: the only souls for miles it felt like.
Your driver had rolled down his windows:
"Hey kid… and other kid."
You knew this guy. Or at least, kinda you did. He owned an establishment that bore his name down the street from home.
A squat Skeleton man that always smelled of ketchup and wore his slippers everywhere around town. He kept one eye closed, leaving a single blue pupil staring out at you two like a single lit flame from a Bunsen burner.
"Hey you're that dude who bought out Grillby's!" Susie had recognized.
In his seated slouch he had shrugged, both hands off the wheel as the car went on. "That what I do? I dunno, kid, all I do nowadays is just run ridesharing for some little extra bits… Now get in, I've got tons of other rides to go do."
You had severely doubted it as you and Kris shared a skeptical look. To verify again Kris had taken to their phone, but yeah, this was the guy: Sans.
"To Flower King, right?" Asgore's shop.
Kris had confirmed, already going for the back. You weren't really a backseat kinda person, so you had motioned to shotgun. "Go ahead." There was this laidback grin on his white teeth, as if he had been leaning back himself in his seat. If he hadn't been driving he might've kicked up his legs on the dash, though this was as chill a job as anything you imagined. Maybe, you thought, you'd end up as a cabbie if nothing else worked out. Clambering in the car, thankfully, was your sized, though as you sat down the seats were a bit more cushier than you were-
A long, drawn out fart had rung out from just underneath you. Wet and loud, it had been enough to almost convince you that you just shit yourself, but you hadn't. Kris had been frozen in the back, half-way still adjusting as he also thought the same thing, eyes wide, only to realize what it had been. The trademark of one of the earliest pranks known to modern kid kind:
Sans had been chortling in his deep voice.
"Hehehe, old whoopie cushion trick."
You had sprang up in the car, almost bending your neck as you slipped the offending object from beneath your ass, swiping it into the leg space and-
Your arms had gone to his puffy hoodie, claws drawn.
"You think you're funny-?!"
Pandemonium as Kris had almost thrown himself from behind the seat onto you, but instead just got a grip on you instead as one hand held Sans, pushing him back against his door, the other reeling back for a punch.
The pair of stones on this literal pile of bones!
He seemed surprised, half lidding both his eyes as he tried to shrug beneath your grip. Kris had known the pressure all so intimately himself, you imagined, which was why he had done what he did. Not that it mattered, you were about to put another hole in his head. "Woah woah woah hey! All you gotta do is just give me one-star on the app, sheesh."
Kris's hand on your shoulder, the way their thumb ran circles onto your scales, the pressure of it, it had only helped their words:
Let it go.
"You're new." Sans glared at you, both eyes open, albeit furrowed, digging into you. The face on his skull writ with a thousand emotions and then one: Smugness.
You wanted to bite it off his face. "What was that?!"
"Nothing, nothing… Just ain't never seen you on my rides before. Besides, can't fault a guy for trying to spice up this job. I sit in my car all day."
You had bared your fangs, snarling, but Kris's hand had only held you deeper.
"If you weren't our ride home you'd be ground up, you hear? Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Hey, just someone who doesn't want to have a bad time."
He hadn't even adjusted his hoodie as he sat himself back down, putting his car out of park and driving off and away.
The car itself was plain and it smelled of the restaurant, a beater car, secondhand. If only you had a car your life would've been so much awesomer, but nobody ever gets what they want. Especially not you, still somewhat huffing out of your nose and looking away, out the window as Kris finally released his touch and settled back in himself. Seatbelts on. Like a nerd.
It wouldn't be a long car ride at least, ten minutes or so, maybe, depending in Officer Undyne hadn't been up to her judicial hijinks again as far as traffic was concerned. Still those ten minutes were filled with attempted jokes, conversation, none which either of you were entertaining.
"Real quiet today, aren't you two?"
"Ain't in the mood." You answered harshly in a sigh, looking blankly out of the car as Kris swiped through his phone absentmindedly.
"What? Seems so unlike you."
"You don't know me, Bones." You snapped back at him.
"I know your Mom though…"
"Yeah?" You turned back over and Kris perked up. You hoped they would go for the wheel if you threw a punch.
"Yeah. I play the trombone with her all the time." It would've been liable to get another rise out of you, but before you opened your mouth you did consider this: Your Mom was in an orchestra. Sans seemed well enough that had gotten no further response out of anyone as you all pulled up in front of Flower King, Kris thanking Sans with a tip and a rather fake rating. It was a shame your usual uber driver hadn't been around. Worst thing he ever did was play his own mixtape of hip-hop covers.
Before Kris had left the car fully though, Sans had something to say:
"Hey, kid, how come you ain't never stop by and play with my brother like I asked?"
There was a bite to Kris's answer you had never heard from them be-
* You put a crank number in my phone asshole.
There it was.
That feeling from the Dark.
Words spilled out of you, but they weren't the ones you chose. You felt it though. It was always within you.
It's easy to let someone take control, isn't it?
Sans' eye had glowered for a second, letting Kris exit.
"Kids these days." And he drove off, his tailwind almost knocking the both of you off your footing. You stumbled yourself, but Susie had been there, her grip around a shoulder of yours as her purple coat fluttered.
Too much at once. I understand. I'll step back. You've got this.
You had thought you heard this sound before in the Dark, but you could never confirm. What you, today, had thought was Sans' car's motor had instead been the rumbling from within Susie's chest, only directed out at the back of said car as it rounded the corner.
"I'll snap you in half next time!" She yelled out in a roar. An honest roar like dragons were known to.
You had long since steadied but Susie's grip on your arms hadn't gone away until he had been long and far enough away. Though she hadn't done it on purpose, you being still as it happened. Enough moments had passed that all there was had been silence, her thumbs drifting across where they held unconsciously before you made the tiniest of shuffles. Like broken clamps she had let go, stepping back.
"Oh, ah." She gave you space. "You good, dude?"
Usually are, you responded.
"Still, calling our driver an asshole like that? Color me surprised."
He wasn't that bad, you thought. No one who had the gall to booby trap their seats like that must not be that bad. Susie had looked like she disagreed vehemently, but then again you had doubted she had been the subject of many pranks in her life.
You had sniffed the air, smelling the familiar scent of Dad, of flowers, of her after a day, biding time to find an answer.
You finally explained that Sans just rubbed you the wrong way today.
"You and me both." Susie took another glance over before settling on you.
You saw her eyes again. Golden. Softer as she took you in.
It had been a pretty normal day, all things considered. Those were good days you both had agreed.
"We should do breakfast more often, you know? It was nice."
A moment, between you two. Her hair blows gently in the wind of Hometown.
You look at Kris, and their hair gently ebbs a bit, messily. One of their hands reaches up, running it through their fingers as they consider, their other hand ghosting over where you had grabbed them seconds earlier. You see blue eyes shine, a smile on their face beam.
They nod, slowly, but then resolutely.
Yeah, yeah, they say. They'd like that.
You two were masters of the Irish goodbye; as in going off without any proper goodbye, even casually. Though there was something to it today, standing before each other, as if there needed to be something.
Azzie had taught you this. This should be good enough.
Your right hand had opened up as if going for an wide handshake, and, naturally, Susie had imitated as your two hands met at finger length, then you curled inward however, and she, on impulse, did as well.
A little painful given her claws, but it was alright.
You had dapped her up on the first go, and there was a little squint in one eye, albeit one that read of humor with the sly grin on her face.
What? You got a better idea?
"Again." She had initiated it again, and you followed, instead you had found each other's palms, thumbs finding each other in a hug of their own as your hands closed around each other. You didn't anticipate being pulled in and up however, she using her strength to bring you chest to chest with her, her other hand halfway wrapping around your back. You could only return it as you felt your fist bump against the muscles of her back, gone taut.
You had been dropped down on the ground soon after, a self-amused look on her face. "That's my Pa's way. A bit better, don't you think?"
Your own smile was all she needed as an answer.
In fact, she had gotten a riposte from her demonstration with the way you were suddenly covered with a massive combination of fur and body that you had known your whole life, lifting you up from the ground as you went limp for your own safety.
Kris wrapped their hands as much as he could across the barrel of Asgore's chest. You had forgotten how absolutely massive Asgore had been at times, hanging out with his son. You were already big by monster standards, but Asgore had been king in that regard around town.
He had smothered his child in love and you didn't know to be sick or wondered that this had been what it looked like with your own Dad when he was around you.
Kris had been put down after a good half-minute hug, his legs swaying before being settled, a fair amount of static electricity being built up after the rub.
"How're you doing? Oh! Is this your date to the Sadie Hawkman's dance?!"
Asgore had seized your hand before you or Kris could respond. "I know it might seem early, but Kris is a smart one, I'll tell ya'. He knows that getting your bouquet early is the way to go-! Come in! Come in! I can't believe it's that time! Oh I remember when Asriel brought his date to the prom over to the house and, well, I'll tell you what it brought so much happiness to me and Tori to see him all spiff and dressed up and-"
He was excited, that much you knew, his loud, country tones drowning out any attempt from you two to interject but Kris had stopped outright.
Let the old man have his moment. At least for a bit.
"Eh, consider this a favor."
You two entered the flower shop, instantly bathed in earthen smell and flowery delight. It smelt a bit of what you imagined flower valleys out west smelled like, of all that girly, naturesque glamour that you were so against. Your stomach grumbled by it: every time you entered this place you got a snack out of it, but you beat it down. Like deja-vu you had saw the expanded selection of flowers that had been teased at the Co-Op, covering the walls with such a splendid affair that it overwhelmed your senses.
"Now I know it's a bit early, but please, just tell me what you're thinking for you two." Asgore had flown behind his counter and got his notepad out, a folder full of bouquets he could make. "You would help me out if I knew what you were gonna wear! Kris!" He almost jumped across the divider to grab his son's shoulder. "If it's gonna be what Asriel wore then I just have the greatest carnation for you! And you, Miss…."
"Susie, right! Sorry you've been around a bit I should've known your name by now, heck! You're going with my son of course I should know!" Before Susie could interject Asgore had been flipping through his picture book. "I have something that would fit just right with you and your scales, I-"
You saw a flash of gold before Kris spoke up.
Kris explained it as casually, as gently, as they could to their father. You weren't their date to the problem. You could only back him up as you pocketed your hands and looked away.
"I'm pretty sure I ain't even goin' to that rat race anyway. Not willingly, of course."
A flash of dejection came over Asgore's face, and for brief second you had wondered if those were the best words to use.
"Hm." He tried to put back on a well meaning face, but there was sorrow in it altogether, looking to his son. "Oh, Kris, I'm sorry. I just get all excited about prom season when it comes around. Your Mother and I, we were King and Queen of the prom you know?"
Kris nodded. They did know.
"I remember it like yesterday, I spent so long working on a promposal: I had to plan it weeks in advance, planting out flowers so they'd bloom at just the right time, spelling out the message I used to ask her." You wondered if Asgore did all this reminiscing healthily, and you had recognized how taut Kris's mouth had gone, nodding along. Asgore looked at you, and you remembered that of all the fight you had in you, it could've been swept away by the look of a father. "I'm so, so sorry I assumed, it must be embarrassing and, uh, say I can give you some flowers, my treat."
Tempting, tempting, but you knew better. Kris told you better. The old man needed to pay rent, not give out handouts. "Oh, no, I'm fine… I should go now, actually." Your hand had reached out from your pocket, holding Kris's shoulder. Didn't know why you did that, but you did; felt right. "I'll see ya tomorrow Kris, alright?"
They nodded, and you were off.
You had seen her pass off through Flower King's windows, off toward her side of town.
"I think… I think I know her father, now that I think about it." Dad had finally said after she left eyesight.
You looked at him with a hint of intrigue, eyebrow raised. "Same divorce lawyer, I think. He was going over alimony payments so we bumped shoulders, back in the day."
"I'm glad you're making friends Kris, Toriel was so worried about you, I hear, after Asriel left. She thought you were going to be lonely and everything, but, hey, seems like she was wrong… She's nice, right?"
Nice wasn't the right word, but she was your friend regardless.
"I see. Truthfully I thought she was one of Asriel's friends… Man, Asriel left so fast for college, I didn't even have time to say goodbye! Can you believe that?"
Your Dad wasn't without friends. Even without the rather bitter divorce the town loved him; he was Asgore still, after all, all that friendliness and jovial being that everyone had been glad to be around, it still applied, though you knew why he talked the way he did to you:
Who else could he talk with his family about then, well, his family? Otherwise it was bottled up, building up pressure inside of him. You realized this after the Dark. How happy he was to see you, how I took you there to see your father after, apparently, not being around for him often. Don't tell me I never did anything good for you. At least you kept up the effort. All that goodwill at least bought you the stones to interject as he went on about Asriel, about what felt like a former, family life.
Dinner was soon, and you know how Mom got, you said to him.
"Oh, oh of course. Don't let me keep you Kris!"
For his efforts you had only stepped asides the counter and opened your arms, steeling yourself for the fluffiest hug you had ever known in your life.
"I love you, Kris."
You loved him too.
You loved your whole family.
Dinner was a blur, returning home to Mom usually, entertaining her as she spoke of class today with the young kids as you silently sat at the table and let her speak. Eventually dinner, as it had recently, moved to the living room so you two could've watched TV while you ate your, tonight, a casserole of tater tots , green beans and ground beef. It was one of your favorite meals, and Mom was in a good mood, though you could barely keep up as you decided to finish early, cleaning your plate. You look at your knife, your actual knife, that you had used for the meal. It'd be a bit weird to bring it up to the bedroom, wouldn't it? You had put whatever thought you had away as you made your way to your room.
"Should I expect you to go out to breakfast tomorrow again?" Mom had made a good point at least, you half-way up the stairs.
Maybe, you answered, and you could only here her give a somewhat annoyed huff. "Sleep well, my child."
As if you could as you opened the door to your room and closed it behind you.
Your eyes are red to me, boring right through the cage.
What was that back there? With Sans?
"I'm not doing anything you wouldn't."
A pause, wondering, then defiance. DETERMINATION. You told me to stay out.
"No you didn't. And you can't tell me to do that. That's not your choice. Not now."
You told me you don't remember ever having the option.
"I made it long ago."
"Someone very, very much like you."
But not me.
"…You know I'm not too sure about that Kris."
The worst ones are the ones we make for ourselves; you know that? But don't you worry. I've gone that long without playing a part again, you'll be fine. I'm just taking a seat back and reading.
The second Azzie returned home, you warned, with a huff in your chest, a bite with your teeth, he was going to deal with you.
"Looking forward to it."
Me and you, we had our spats like this from time to time. Though it's been a while since we've been together. Not that I like it any more than you do. Though there are times when even I have to chime in. I have to. To be fair you're kinda a mess without me.
You had laid your back against your bed, staring up at the ceiling trying to ignore what I was saying. A familiar ceiling.
I'm impressed that even with what just happened between us, you're thinking about-
"Sans is right, you know." I said. The only time in life I'd ever agree with him. "She's new."
The hell did I mean, you asked.
"I've been at this for so, so long. She is new. Ain't much to say about it. I'm not gonna do anything between you and her, if that's what you're worried about."
Your expectations, your loneliness, your fear… They're different now, aren't they? With her around?
You agreed, quietly, trying to remember the Dark World again in your mind, to disassociate and go back there.
You had steeled yourself already with that little joke earlier today, asking her to the dance so dramatically. Though it remained, you could say it, or something like it. She deserved it.
"Cross my heart. I'm not here to mess with your life… that way, that is."
What am I then?
"Another medium. You're helping me. I'll help you."
. . .
"I was your best friend, once."
No, I wasn't.
"I have a story I can tell you. It's not a bad one."
Shut up, you told me, you wanted to go to bed.
We'll have a long time to kick this around.
You unfurl your sheets. Mom isn't anywhere in the house, you can't hear any of her violin, so you had been all clear to replace your sheets on your bed and throw yourself into them, which you promptly did, letting the comforter of the Asriel Dreemurr find a new home with you.
The sheets were softer than yours, higher thread count, better washed and taken care of…
There was something else however, something you had buried your face in trying to identify.
You close your eyes as you ball a handful of it in grip and really took a whiff.
Apples. It smelled like apples.