Underflow - TheLightsRefrain - Undertale (Video Game) [Archive of Our Own] (2024)

Chapter 1: An Easy Fate

Chapter Text


"In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular." -Kathleen Norris

File 1: An Easy Fate

It was all pointless, so Sans the skeleton didn't worry about much of anything. He preferred to lay back and let life go. He didn't have control of it anyway. If he tried to fight it…

…Well, Sans had 1 HP, and that was it. Healing and eating didn't do him any good, because his HP was maxed out already. If that one hit point was lost…well, he would already be dust. Was it always this way? Probably.

That was why he ate little solid food. He preferred downing bottles of ketchup like they were soda. The only non-ketchup thing he ate was his brother Papyrus's spaghetti, and that…required some self-preparation. Usually he needed a good nap before and after the meal, because he would almost inevitably lose some health.

Eating didn't help his HP, but sleeping did. That was because sleepingaddedHP beyond the maximum, instead of just restoring his HP bar. It wasn't much of a cushion, with only 10 extra HP at most, but it helped him survive stubbed toes and Papyrus's cooking experiments.

It was nice to be able to smile and tell Papyrus his food couldn't bethatbad. Sans hadn't turned to dust yet, right? Then his brother, immune to veiled and even barbed insults, would grin and laugh like the overgrown child he was. He would go on about all the fantastic effort only the great Papyrus could put into one of his exquisite dishes. Sans would tell him how cool he was, how he was the best bro ever, all that usual stuff. Then, when Papyrus wasn't looking, Sans used his blue magic to stick the remains on the underside of the table to hide it. Gravity powers were useful in unexpected ways. That way he could pretend he ate the rest of it too. He would scrape it off into the garbage can later.

Sans might have been lying right now, but he believed Papyrus reallycouldbecome a good cook, even a great one. He just needed encouragement through these early stages of whipping up batches of biological hazards. Why not volunteer as guinea pig? Sans didn't have anything better to do.

Well frankly,noneof the monsters in the Underground did. There was all this propaganda about capturing a human and using their soul to escape… but really, no one knew when (or if) that time would come. Until then, everyone pranced around pretending to be important. The nose-nuzzling competition was the most serious thing around, at least for couples. Puzzles were diversions rather than traps. Even Undyne's training of her Royal Guard inevitably deteriorated into giant romps with the warrior dogs.

Sans watched it all pass by, occasionally throwing in a bad pun or five. He was in no hurry. Forheknew the human would inevitably come, because theyalwayscame. He felt it in his bones… and not just because he was a skeleton.


Magic was a funny thing, because it manifested differently for every species of monster. Most of the attacks made sense, once you knew the type and personality of the monster. Skeletons could summon extra bones to attack with, while clean-freaks like Woshuas got giant bars of soap. Sans never understood how being a goat monster made you able to launch fireballs though…Then there was colored magic, which had unique properties for each monster. They were their own brand of bizarre.

Then again, skeleton biology was weird too, even by monster standards. They had no skin, yet they could sweat, and feel hot or cold. Their skull faces were malleable enough for expressions. They even had eyelids that were almost like skin. They didn't have eyeballs, though. Instead they had wisp-like white lights nested in their eye-sockets, which glowed dimly or brightly depending on the skeleton's health and mood.

Maybe it was a skeleton thing to have weird souls too? Sans's heart was curiously lumpy and misshapen, though you couldn't really tell unless you examined it up close. It seemed fine otherwise though, and was unusually big for a monster of his power. Still, Sans was glad that it remained hidden under his shirt and hoodie, visible only if he was casting his blue magic. It almost felt…shameful?

Papyrus barely had a soul at all. It was tiny, especially for a monster as strong as him. Like Sans's it was slightly deformed. Still, it never seemed to hold his brother back, so perhaps Sans was worrying over nothing. A small soul still had plenty of room to grow, after all.

As for Sans's own powers…well, he hardly used them. His teleportation didn't count because it wasn't magic. Whatwasit then? Sans had no idea. He only knew that if he thought of certain nonsensical combinations of letters and numbers, it took him certain places.

He referred to them as "shortcuts", and left it at that.


As sentries under Undyne, Sans and Papyrus had to endure training sessions under the brutal amphibious warrior. Today's exercise was a new game called Dodge-Snow, which was based on some human game called Dodgeball. The rules were simple: there were two teams, and they threw snowballs at each other. You could form and toss the snowballs any way you liked, including using magic, but you couldn't use any magic directly on your opponents. If you got hit once, you were taken prisoner by the other team. This went on until only one team was left standing. The losing team had to treat the winners at Grillby's.

They stood facing each other over a flat snowy field. Undyne, across from Sans, already bore a triumphant grin even though they hadn't started yet. On Sans's side were Papyrus, Dogressa, Greater Dog, and two Lesser Dogs. On Undyne's side were Doggo, Dogamy, and the other three Lesser Dogs.

"Ready to be pulverized, punks?" taunted Undyne, slamming her fist into her hand. Her scarlet ponytail waved in the wind.

"Ready to bepun-verized?" Sans taunted back. He heard Papyrus groan beside him. He meant to annoy Undyne, but his brother's reaction was a nice bonus.

Undyne growled, bearing her needle-like teeth. "Oh, it's on now!" She scooped up a huge pile of snow and crushed it into a ball, flinging it at Sans like a javelin. Sans jumped to the side to avoid it. Theneveryonestarted throwing snowballs in their own ways.

Sans didn't toss any snowballs, at least not yet. His throws were short and weak, even if he enhanced them with his magic. However, if there was one thing he excelled at, it was dodging. Even without teleportation he effortlessly evaded the shots. He couldn't beat anyone, except maybe the Lesser Dogs, but he could be an infuriating distraction. When the other side tired themselves out, then he would strike.

The Lesser Dogs were the first casualties on both sides, their ever-growing necks and dim wits making them easy marks. Whoever landed the hit went over to the other side to claim their victims and escort them to their team's prison. Said "prisons" were really just a bunch of Undyne's magic spears sticking out of the ground in a circle. No one was allowed to attack the capturer, because that would have been dishonorable. Undyne had a funny sense of justice.

Doggo took out Greater Dog with a lucky strike, only to be buried under one of the mammoth canine's snowpiles. There was a brief hiatus as Undyne tried to figure out what to do when the capturer was also captured. The aquatic fighter eventually decided that Doggo would escort Greater Dog, before being led to the other prison by Dogressa. She had volunteered to be Greater Dog's "avenger".

After that, the frozen spheres rushed faster than ever from Undyne's side. Undyne mowed down the last Lesser Dog and Dogressa, who fired one last shot before getting hit. The snowball missed Undyne and struck Dogamy instead, who stared in shock at being struck. Dogressa somewhat tearfully took her fallen lover to Sans's prison, before Undyne led her and Lesser Dog to her own.

"I don't know if I like this kind of training," admitted Papyrus, as he and Sans jumped and dove over Undyne's never-ending volley of snowballs. "It seems so…cruel."

Sans didn't say anything, as he was too busy dancing around Undyne's snowballs. That simple brother of his thoughtthiswas cruel? How would he react to arealbattle? Why did Papyrus want to join Undyne's Royal Guard again? Forfriends?

A snowball struck Sans on the chest. The force of it was enough to knock him on his rear. Sans sat stunned for a moment.

"Sans!" Papyrus cried out.

Sans chuckled, holding one hand over his heart for dramatic effect. "It's no use, bro. They got me." He turned to Papyrus, still far away, reaching out with one hand theatrically. "Run…before they…bleh." Sans flopped on his back, arms spread-eagle on the snow.

"Sans…" Papyrus almost whimpered.

Sans couldn't keep himself from grinning, even as Undyne proudly strode up to her prey. He soon saw her scaly blue face and red hair looming over him, sneering.

"Welcome to the dark side, punk," she spoke menacingly.

"You fiend…" Sans said with a wide grin. He couldn't even make his eyes go dark, he was so full of mirth. "I'll never become one of you."

"We have cookies…" called Dogamy from her cage.

"Ofpain!" Undyne's sharp-toothed grin grew wider. The wind howled as she spoke…or was that someone screaming?

"Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaans!" Papyrus yelled, galloping over and snatching Sans off the ground without stopping. He held his baffled shorter brother high over his head as he ran. "No! I'll never let you have my brother!Never!"

Sans snorted with laughter.

"What the-" said Undyne, staring at the fleeing skeletons in disbelief. "Hey! That's not how the game works, bonehead! Get back here!" She rushed after them.

The magic spears that created the prisons faded out of existence. The dog monsters, seeing the skeletons and their captain run off, barked and chased because they could.

Oh geez,thought Sans, struggling not to erupt into laughter. "Welp, that sure escalated quickly. Better go faster, bro. I think we might end up paying for more than just Grillby's."

Papyrus set Sans onto his shoulders, letting him slip into a piggyback position. Now with a more secure hold, Papyrus bent forward and sprinted. Spears tipped with large snowballs whizzed past them, as the cacophony of dog barking and Undyne's battle cries drew closer and louder.

"Wowie, Undyne's really mad…" said Papyrus, looking nervous. "But it didn't feel right to just…What should we do, Sans?"

"Keep running." Sans wasn't too concerned, though. This felt familiar, but not dangerous. They kept going, snow crunching and flying under Papyrus's feet. Papyrus's speed and stamina were pretty impressive, actually. How often Sans forgot that. Every time Sans thought his brother had finally tuckered himself out, there was a new burst of energy as Papyrus went even faster than before. Who needed cars when he had a Papyrus to ride on?

They soon reached Snowdin. The locals gaped as the skeletons and then Undyne and her pack shot by. They zipped by Grillby's on the way, where the fire monster of its namesake observed the spectacle with only silence and a raised eyebrow.

As Undyne charged she got a call on her phone. "What?" she barked, before she skid to a stop. "Alphys! Uh, sorry about that. Just doing some training stuff…yeah, that'd be awesome! I'll come right over!…Nah, it's no problem. Training's pretty much done anyway. We did this thing I made up called Snow-Dodge…I mean Dodge-Snow…" Undyne walked off elsewhere as she babbled.

The dogs soon lost interest too, since their leader had abandoned the chase. They wandered off in different directions.

Oh right, I need to visit Alphys later,thought Sans. He had almost forgotten. That was a bad thing to forget.

Papyrus was still running full-speed ahead. He zoomed to their house and rammed open the door, before finally falling to his hands and knees panting.

Sans slipped off his back and patted Papyrus's shoulder. "It's okay, bro. We're home."Though we'll need a new door again…Oh well…

"Good," Papyrus gasped. "Since…Since that was starting to be…not fun…" He pushed himself back up. "I was starting to think…I reallydidneed to save you…"

Sans chuckled. "You're the best bro."

What remained of the door exploded open. Papyrus was nailed with a snowball to the back of his head.

"Papyrus!" Sans exclaimed, as his brother fell forward in a daze. Then Sans was pelted with a snowball to his left eye.

"You seriously didn't think you'd get offthateasy, didja?" crowed Undyne, as she rained down snowballs on both skeletons. "This is what you get forcheating!" She whistled, and the eager howling of the rest of the Royal Guard sounded. Undyne stood there sneering as the dogs rushed by her side.

Sans and Papyrus turned to each other. They knew what inevitably awaited them.

"Oh brother…" said Papyrus forlornly. "Is there no escaping this fate…?"

"Nope," replied Sans casually.

"Get 'im!" Undyne exclaimed, pointing dramatically ahead.

The dogs bounded past Undyne, pounced on both skeletons, and licked them all over, tails swishing rapidly.

"Nyahahahaha!' Papyrus laughed helplessly. "Stop! Hahaha! No, we have f-fallen! Ahahahahaha!"

Sans couldn't even answer, he was laughing so much. Why did he and his brother have to be so ticklish? Worse yet, why was he stuck with Greater Dog, who hugged him fiercely as he slobbered all over him? Now there really was no escape.

"Carry 'em over to Grillby's when you're done," said Undyne, walking out.

"Undyne, no, wai-" Papyrus began, before he was licked into another laughing fit.

Sans was still too consumed by laughter to say anything, but he expected that. This felt all too familiar, like most things.


Papyrus' company wasn't the only thing Sans enjoyed, though it was his primary concern. He also went out of his way to visit a door deep in the forest of Snowdin, at the very edge. At first, he went there to be alone. No one else came that far, because there was nothing to do but stare at trees. He napped at his station, strolled to the door, and practiced knock-knock jokes. He did this by actually knocking on the door, and then talking as if someone had answered.

Once, someonedidanswer, a gentle female voice. "Who is there?"

Somehow, even though his instincts warned him, her answer always caught Sans off-guard. "Dishes."

"Dishes who?"

"Dishes a bad joke."

He was ready to chuckle in silence, only for the female voice to roar with laughter. It was always familiar, but it never got old.

He always made puns and other awful jokes to see others cringe at them. That was what made them funny to him. Papyrus hadn't realized that, and probably never would, which was why he was one of the best victims. Hearing his shouts of frustrated rage was one of the highlights of Sans's existence.

…Yet, it was shockingly nice to have someone actually enjoy his jokes. Then, whenshestarted telling jokes that were so bad thathecringed, it filled him with a strange giddiness. So he kept coming back, knocking on the door until she answered. Sometimes that took awhile, because he never knew when she would be there. Other times she answered instantly, apparently waiting for him instead. Whenever it started, it would then go on for hours. Anyone else would have fled in terror from all the horrible puns. Poor Papyrus might not have even survived.

Neither asked for names. In fact both tried to keep things as anonymous as possible. Still, unavoidably they sometimes drifted away from jokes and into normal conversation. Sans chatted about Papyrus, and the daily antics of Undyne and the Royal Guard. The voice described her quiet life in the Ruins, where she maintained peace and order between the monsters there. She also like to talk about baking, and how wonderful children were. There was always an air of sadness about the last one. Maybe she couldn't have children herself? That was his signal to return to bad puns to make her laugh and forget. Her laughter helped him forget as well.

Whenever she seemed especially sad, though, and talked about a human coming through the door, Sans knew the human had arrived. He promised to look after the child, with a wave of deja-vu. It felt sickeningly familiar, something he could never divert from. After that, he didn't have much time to visit the door. He had a kid to look after.

It didn't make him feel that down, though. If the human had come, then he knew inevitably he would meet her by the end. If just talking to her through a door was so fun, then actuallyseeingher…beingwith her…


Alphys shrieked when Sans materialized in the front of her, tripping backwards over her own tail and falling on her rump. The golden dinosaur scientist gaped at him like he was a wraith.


"Heya," Sans said, keeping his eyes dark. "Here's your dog food." He dropped the huge bag at her feet, It hit the floor with a heavy thud and sagged. "For your…pets."

"…Um…th-th-thanks…" Alphys answered with a nervous grin, adjusting her glasses. She got up and dragged the sack to the wall. "I-I was…getting low…So, um, Sans?"


"You…haven't told anyone… right?"

"Nope," Sans answered. "The underground's got enough problems without knowing aboutthis, right?"

Alphys's smile grew even more strained. "R-R-Right." She paused. "S-Stuff's downstairs…uh, ah, i-if you need it."


"Sans-" Alphys began, but he had already vanished.

Sans arrived in the basem*nt of the building, the true laboratory of the royal scientist.. The lights were dim, and the walls covered in the slime of the abominations that dwelled here. Sans carefully avoided the trails of goo, because even these had some sentience. They reached up in hair-like tendrils as he passed, eager.

Sans felt the surface of his bones squirm, but did his best to ignore it. Milky-white perspiration rolled off his arms and beaded on his forehead. He had waited too long since his last injection. He would keep some at home, except that didnotwant Papyrus finding any of it. Papyrus's cleaning was thorough enough that he always found things he wasn't supposed to.

If Sans was that desperate to lose himself, he would have joinedhimlong ago. He wouldn't come here, again and again, for fresh doses of determination. It would be so much easier to let it all go…Yet here he was at one of the refrigerators, pulling out a syringe filled with bright red liquid. Like all the needles here, this one was magically tempered to pierce scales and bone. Many more shots were neatly packaged together, next to a bottle of ketchup.

She didn't have to do that…thought Sans. It was so familiar, but Sans never understood it.Probably trying to stay on my good side.He knew he was a terror to Alphys. He did that on purpose, to stop her from doing more research. If she, or anyone else, ever learned the true potential of amalgamates and determination…or anything else beyond this world…

Sans primed the needle, careful to aim the little spurt of liquid away from any nearby slime. He injected himself in a rib and silently counted to ten. He tossed the empty needle into a disposal container next to the fridge, grabbed the ketchup bottle, and took a shortcut back home.

Sans immediately felt cold and dizzy upon arrival. He slumped onto the couch, cocooning himself in a blanket. He wasn't supposed to use any magic or other powers after a shot, but the True Lab wasn't a safe place to rest. Papyrus would complain about the slime again. Thank god Papyrus was too stupid to wonderwhya skeleton was emitting slime like a snail in the first place.

While waiting to feel better, Sans decided to take a gulp from the fresh ketchup bottle. That's when he noticed a note taped to the bottom.

Are you okay?it read in Alphys's semi-legible scrawl.

Sans's eyes burned unexpectedly. He crumpled the note.Why do you still care so much?It hurt, not because it was bewildering, but because it wasachinglyfamiliar.I'm nothing but…

He didn't finish the thought, catching his reflection on the empty TV screen. The lights in his eyes shone a soft blue instead of white. He stared transfixed. This was so sickeningly familiar…He felt sick sicksick ERROR-

Sans woke up, his eyes briefly pale blue before fading back to white. He wondered why he was sleeping with a ketchup bottle. Where did he get it anyway? He didn't remember going to Grillby's…


The human wasn't much of a talker, but Sans sensed that was normal. The brown-haired child in the striped shirt could have been either a boy or a girl, and almost always wore a placid expression. When they did speak, their voice was very quiet, almost like they were speaking from far away. But maybe that was normal for a human? The kidwasthe most anomalous thing Sans had ever come across. What was an echo-like voice compared to the ability to reset everything? To think such a fearsome power was bestowed on a such a small being…

Despite that, Sans liked the kid. For someone who didn't emote much, they sure liked jokes. They played along with Sans's fried snow gag, had him stack twenty-nine hot dogs on their head over and over, and chasing and greeting Sans as he teleported back and forth near the bottom of Snowdin.("What's up?"…"Are you lost?"…"Say. Are you following me?"…"You sure do like to exercise…").Everyone else seemed happier with the kid around too, as they played rather than fought with the Underground's inhabitants. Even vicious monsters were spared.

In the end, every monster soul would be needed.


Sans recognized the door lady's voice before he saw her. Strangely, for all his previous anxiety about meeting her, he wasn't nervous at all. Just seeing the white goat lady smiling serenely filled him with an exquisite calm…in fact, seeing everyone gathered here at the palace…Papyrus, Undyne, Alphys…

Then everybody got captured by a strange talking flower. The sudden vine attack should have been scary, and it was to everyone else, but to Sans it felt more random than frightening. Where had this little yellow smiling flower come from, and why was it strong enough to tangle them all in vines?

Yet…Was this…supposedto happen?

"Don't you get it?" the flower taunted the human, as everyone writhed and pulsed red in the clutches of his huge thorny vines. "This is all just agame."

A chill shot through Sans. So this weed knew the true nature of their world…Why everything was meaningless…

Other monsters came. In factallthe monsters came, to help the human fight off this demonic plant. Yet it was in vain, and their souls were all were absorbed…

…Of course this would happen. This world was corrupted. That was the bane of his existence…ofallexistence. Who said that? He didn't know. He didn't even know his own name…not that it mattered. Nothing mattered. Nothing everwouldmatter, because this world was just agame. He should just give up. He should…

He heard someone call to him. The human?…He was ahumerousskeleton?Boy, that was a bad pun…but it made him laugh anyway, and it made him remember that he was Sans, one monster soul among thousands gathered.

Now that he had recollected himself, his previous despair vanished in an instant, replaced by warm serenity. He wasn't alone. None of them were. Together they were strong. Together they hadpower.The barrier was nothing compared to their combined desire to be free. Sans basked in the feeling of unity as his soul soon beat in sync with all the other monster souls. This was so familiar, like all important events.

Sans was too harmonious to be disappointed. For this moment, and any beyond, even if it vanished as it always did, it was all worth it.


Now that the strife was over, and everyone had what they wanted…

"Saaaans! Dinner's ready!' said Toriel, entering the living room with a messy apron and flour on her hands.

Sans woke from his doze in Toriel's recliner, a large book in his lap. Nested inside of the tome was a joke book. He thought Toriel's modest messiness only added to the her beauty.

"So you better prepare your taste buds, punk!" Undyne crowed, appearing on Toriel's right. She was entirely caked in flour and grinning proudly.

"Because it will be the most exquisite cuisine you'll have ever eaten!" added Papyrus, popping in on Toriel's left. He was only slightly less covered in ingredients… or were his white bones just obscuring most of the flour?

Sans was sure that with Toriel in charge, the results would be mostly edible, maybe even good. "Sounds great, Toriel. Or, should I say…"

Toriel grinned in anticipation.


Toriel giggled softly while Undyne and Papyrus exchanged dubious looks. Sans leaned back in the chair, basking in the glory of his adorable…no, adoorable nickname she loved so much…He lifted up his joke book, leaving the heavier tome on his lap. "Hey Tori, what do two snakes do after a fight?"

"Saaaaans…" Papyrus began. His brother knew once the puns started between Sans and Toriel…

Toriel smiled. "I don't know, Sans. Whatdothey do?"

"They hiss and make up, of course," chimed Sans.

Toriel laughed as she always did. Sans couldn't help but laugh with her.

Papyrus groaned.

"Don't you mean that theyfangeach other for the good times?" said Undyne with a sneer.

"Undyyyyyyne!" Papyrus exclaimed, appalled. "Don't encourage them!"

Sans clapped the book shut, giving Undyne an impish grin. "Youchallengingme, Undyne?"

Undyne's iris turned to a slit. "Hell yeah!"

"Oh no…" said Toriel with a chuckle.

"Please don't," said Papyrus, much less enthused.

"Well, hate to say it, but you've got a ton of work to do if you wanna catch up to me," said Sans, before winking. "A skele-ton."

"Sans! You used that one just a while ago!" exclaimed Papyrus.

"Whose side are you on, bro?" asked Sans.

"The one that stops making puns first!" answered Papyrus indignantly.

"Whatever!" huffed Undyne, folding her arms. "'Cause, uh… there's somethingfishyhere." She grinned proudly.

"…Undyne, that's not a pun," said Papyrus flatly.

"Whose sideareyou on?" shouted Undyne, before turning back to Sans. "Yeah, well your bones are, uh…Alphys!"

The pudgy yellow scientist was just entering the living room. She yelped and froze mid-step. "Y-Yeah?"

Undyne pointed dramatically toward the golden dinosaur. "Say a pun,now!"

"Um…ah…" said Alphys, wringing her hands. "W-What kind of pun?"

"I dunno!Anything!"

"O-Okay…" said Alphys, a nervous but resolute look on her face. "So…um…You can't t-trust an a-atom…They…make everything up?" She ended with a hopeful smile.

Only Sans snorted with amusem*nt. No one else was educated enough to get the joke, and stared at Alphys blankly.

"….U-Uh…" Alphys began, cringing back.

Undyne suddenly roared with laughter, earning startled gapes from Toriel and Papyrus. The fish warrior strode over to Alphys and patted her on the shoulder. "Aw man, that was the best one yet! Atomsarelies or whatever, right?" She then gave her a big hug and kiss.

"Y-Y-Yeah!" said Alphys, now more nervous about her girlfriend touching her than the joke she attempted. "That's r-right…You're t-t-totally right!"

Sans wasn't sure whether to feel happy or sorry for Alphys.

"Oh my," said a suave metallic voice, as a humanoid robot strutted past Undyne and Alphys.

"Mettaton!" Papyrus almost squealed, eyes burning bright in excitement.

"Heya," said Sans. He didn't really care about the Underground's most notorious celebrity, but if his presence made Papyrus happy…Well, theydidused to watch him on TV all the time…

Mettaton stopped in front of Sans's chair, balancing on one leg like a stork. "Leave this to theprofessionals, ladies. Because according to my memory bank, today is-" He shot up one leg almost vertically. "Leg day! See? I've already got aleg-upon you."

"Not you too, Mettaton!" wailed Papyrus. "Will this madness never cease?"

"Probably not," said Sans with a shrug. "I mean, I'm prettybone-headedwhen it comes to this kind of thing."


"Well, I'm certainly not going tobreak a legon that one," said Mettaton, hopping to the other foot while put one hand over his eye.


"Yeah, you're toospinelessfor that," said Sans with a grin.

Papyrus moaned in defeat. Toriel, chuckling, rubbed Papyrus's back.

"Oh, you must bepulling my leg,darling," said Mettaton, rapidly shifting through ridiculous poses. "Why would I need torattle my boneswhen I canshake a leg?"

"Ouch. Welp, stick and stones maybreak my bones," said Sans. "But you've still got a lot ofleg workto do. So you'd better startstretching those legs,otherwise you won't have aleg left to stand on."

Toriel whispered something to Papyrus. Judging by the unhappy look on his face, it was probably another pun. He sighed, and then took a deep breath.

"Ahem…" Papyrus began. "Dinner has been ready for the past five minutes, Sans, and the table is…" He glanced at an eagerly-beaming Toriel, and sighed again. "…Currentlysansa Sans."

Toriel giggled.

Sans chuckled. "Really,Papyrus?"

"Don't youreallyme, brother!" declared Papyrus, smirking as he stuck his chest out. "If you like puns so much, thenyouget to be the pun! This Sans issansa good sense of humor andsansany dignity at all! In fact this Sans is sosanshygiene that he issansany cleaning! Then Sans wonders why he issanssocks all the time when he never picks them up off the floor! So in other words, Sans is sosansthat he even forgets tosanshissanses!That issoSans,sansthe-"

Sans couldn't stop laughing. He never thought he would find his own name so mercilessly exploited for a joke. "Okay, okay, you win bro. Let's eat."


Everyone had finally made it out of the Underground, and Sans planned on making the most of it. He would nap in the grass, take Papyrus to the amusem*nt park, gorge on Toriel's cinnamon-butterscotch pies while swapping bad puns with her, watch every sunset and the stars that followed…There were so many things he wanted to do, and he never knew when…

No, Sans wasn't going to think about it. He was just going to enjoy it while it lasted.

The surface was so delightful. Mold-free air, warm sunrays, a whole city for the monsters to populate and play in…and Papyrus, so happily zooming around in that car he always wanted…good thing there was no traffic. Or humans.Anywhere. Including the kid that led them here, who seemed to have vanished from everyone's memory as well as the world. This too-clean city, so conveniently empty of challengers or strife…

Sans wasn't going to let himself thinkat all.

Chapter 2: Innocence Lost and Found and Lost Again


The fun and games continue, until an abomination Sans knows shows up. Then the fun and games proceed anyway...until it suddenly they don't.


Hi again, and welcome to Chapter 2! Still a more laidback chapter...for the most part.

Anyway, something quick to note: this fic will be covering multiple "timelines". Whenever the story hops to another timeline, the divider will be a bold IIIIII to minimize confusion.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." - Peter De Vries

File 2: Innocence Lost and Found and Lost Again

Sans didn't remember the resets, but he knew they happened. Being in Snowdin suddenly feltwrong, even though he was almost always in Snowdin. Wasn't he…somewhere else, not long ago? A place where he and everyone else was happy? It was time to check the machine downstairs.

The busted contraption in Sans's basem*nt, once capable of so much more, still kept track of how much time had been disrupted. At any time Sans could print out a long white sheet of paper with one long black line. It worked like a Richter scale. The straight parts were time flowing normally. Minor squiggles were little resets, and big spikes were true resets, where the whole timeline was erased and rewound.

According to the latest printout, the world had been through 15 true resets so far. 15 times when everything felt sogoodat the end, even though Sans couldn't recall anything specific. That was all that any past timeline left for Sans: phantom feelings and a sense of familiarity for many events. That was what his "instinct" was composed of.

Why did the human always reset? Who knew. Who could comprehend such an otherworldly being anyway? Sans couldn't, and heknewhe had met the human many times. His mind didn't remember, but his instincts did. The human would come and lead them all to the surface. There would be a blissful hope relit in their souls…then it was swept away, and everyone was back in the Underground like nothing happened. As if nothing mattered.

…But itdidmatter. Maybe it would only be a brief respite, but the humandidbring them a happy ending. Maybe…Maybe it was fitting that they only had it for such a short time, so they could really appreciate it. Maybe they would screw it up if they stayed there too long. Humans weren't as forgiving as monsters. Maybe…

Maybe it was pointless to speculate. He didn't have the power to change it, even back in those days of…discovery. Pictures and notes still littered the unused desk, useless to the unknowing. It might be better to never enter this basem*nt again, and let this place be a tranquil tomb.

Yet Sans always coming back.


Sometimes Sans looked at Papyrus and felt a great sadness. He wasn't sure why. It was true that his brother was pitiably stupid sometimes…orallthe time. You couldn't insult him because he was too moronic to understand when he was being slandered. He still didn't know that capturing a human meant sending them to King Asgore so he could harvest their soul. He was more childish than most actual children in the Underground.

Still, Papyrus was always happy, even when things looked dim. Because of that, he made everyone around him happy too. He had no idea that he was practically Snowdin's mascot. He had no clue how much his presence brightened Sans's life, even with everything Sans knew about the world and its mechanics.

So, for that reason, Sans always strove to protect Papyrus. Not so much from physical threats - his brother didn't have the one HP problem Sans had - but from those who wanted to upset him. There were many tricks, bad ideas and grisly details Papyrus didn't need to be subject to.

So when Papyrus came home crying, and it didn't feel like deja vu, Sans was instantly alarmed. "What happened Papyrus?" he asked, straightening up as his brother slumped onto the couch next to him.

"I-I hurt someone, Sans!" Papyrus said. "B-But I didn't mean to -Well, I kind of meant to but…but I didn'tknowI would hurt them! I-I-"

"Slow down, bro," said Sans. "Start from the beginning. What happened?"

"Well, I was playing with Flowey…" the taller skeleton began.

Sans instantly got a bad feeling from the name, though he hadn't met this Flowey before. At least, not in this timeline. "What were you guys playing?"

"Hide and seek," Papyrus answered. "He's really good at that for a flower! However, he soon he grew bored of that. So he asked me to make a really big snowball. I mean astupendouslyhuge snowball. It was almost as big as you, Sans!"

"That big, huh?" said Sans.

"Then Flowey made little snowmen all over the place, and told me to roll over as many of them as I could," Papyrus continued. "I didn't want to at first, since he seemed to have worked so hard on them, but he said it was okay. It wasn't like they were real monsters. So I ran about and rolled them up…and it was kinda fun, because that made my glorious snowball even bigger. It was almost as big asmeby the time we were done!" Papyrus had been smiling a little up to this point, but now he looked hesitant, glancing to the side.

"Go on," encouraged Sans. "Then what happened?"

"So then Flowey asked me to push the snowball up this steep hill," Papyrus went on. "It was really,reallyhard, but he encouraged me all the way. Quite a feat if I do say so myself! It was evenbiggerthan me once we got to the top! Then…Flowey pointed to a large snowman at the bottom of the hill, and told me"I bet you, the great Papyrus, can take that guy out like a bowling pin with that awesome snowball of yours!"So I replied"Of course, my fragrant friend!"and with a mighty "Nyeh heh HEH!"I gave the snowball a hearty push and down it went…"

Papyrus took a shuddering breath.

Sans said nothing.

"…And the snowmanscreamed, Sans! It wasn't a snowman like Flowey had made earlier, it was a snowman! An actual livingmonster! And that giant snowball of mine just rolled over him and kept going. I think eventually it rolled off a cliff…but that's not the point! I ran down to the him as fast as I could, but he was mashed flat against the snow and wouldn't talk to me…I think he's still mad at me Sans…"

Sans still said nothing.

"Th-Then Flowey…" Papyrus went on, voice cracking a little. "H-He said he couldn't believe that I did that. He'd only be joking when he said to roll the snowball down the hill…He thought I knew it was a real monster…He said I was an idiot for not being able to tell…But I didn't know! I didn't mean to…" Tears began leaking out of his eye sockets again.

Sans remained inert, staring straight ahead instead of at his brother.

"…Sans, w-why aren't you saying anything?' asked Papyrus nervously. "A-Are you mad too? I didn't mean to hurt him. I thought…"

"I know," said Sans, patting Papyrus's shoulder. "It's okay. I'm not mad. It was just a misunderstanding. Look, it's been a long day for both of us. Why don't we go over to Undyne's? I'll talk to Mr. Snowman later for ya. Where'd Flowey go anyway?"

"I'm not sure. He just goes under the soil like a mole," said Papyrus, sniffing. "I usually meet him in Waterfall…but now he might not ever meet me again…"

"Bro, relax," said Sans. "If he's really your friend, he'll forgive you. Now, we going to Waterfall or what?"

"Of course!" trumpeted Papyrus, already forgetting his grief. "Can we visit Onion-san too?"

"Sure thing, bro," said Sans, watching his brother bounce off the couch, preparing to go out. He wondered how long it would take Papyrus to remember that he was already in his battle body armor.

Well, it was a sufficient distraction. While Papyrus hiked up the steps Sans waved his hand and brought up his brother's stats screen. It was normally rude to scan another monster's stats without asking, but right now he needed to do this without Papyrus knowing. If his suspicions were correct…

Papyrus's health bar popped up, nearly full. Beside his HP was his name. Between his name and his HP read LV 3. Sans suddenly felt cold, not bothering to look over the other stats.

He gained two Levels of Violence from accidentally squishing a snowman?Sans thought with disbelief. Part of him found that absurdly funny. The rest, however, roiled with icy rage. How dare this Flowey traumatize and corrupt Papyrus like this? When (not if) he found this flower…

"Sans! You should get ready too, lazybones!" Papyrus called, before closing the door to his room.

"…Right," said Sans, getting up.


"Do you have any idea how many times we've done this?" asked Flowey coyly, putting on a cute goat-like face. Then it morphed into a sinister grin with sharp teeth. "EvenI'velost count of how many times we've fought."

Sans's eyes were already black. Only the soothing music in Waterfall allowed him to stay calm. "I'm not much for remembering details, but my instincts tell me you'rerealbad news. And ifyouremember previous timelines, you either have power over this world, or you're with G-"

"Look, Istilldon't know who this Gaster guy is!" Flowey snapped. "I've reset and went througheverythingof this world, andstillhaven't foundanyinfo on the guy! Except foryou, that is. Why don't you just tell me who he is already?"

"I haven't told you yet?" asked Sans, a little surprised. "Then I don't see why I should tell you now. Find him yourself. Who knows, maybe he'll-"

"-Give me power beyond this world?" Flowey interrupted, before sneering. "C'mon, tell me somethingnew!"

"How can I tell you something new if I don't remember what I've said before?" asked Sans.

"Well, usually you tell me I'm gonna have a bad time because of whatever I did, and then we fight," Flowey explained flatly, before his face turned skull-like. 'Then I win, and you die." His skull face tilted and distorted like it was melting.

"And how many times did you have to reset before you finally won?" asked Sans.

Flowey glared. "Doesn't matter. Point is, I eventually win. So this will only end in your death in this timeline. Why fight?"

"Why are you trying to negotiate with me if you can win so easily?" asked Sans.

Flowey sighed, looking almost embarrassed. "…Because if I kill you before the human comes, the timeline stalls. The human won't arrive, and I can't make any more progress. I have to fully reset everything."

Interesting, thought Sans. "So in other words, fighting is pointless for both of us."

"Exactly!" said Flowey, now reverting to his regular smiling face. "Not that our battle isn'tallkinds offun, but let's try somethingnew. We're both tired of the same old thing, aren't we?"

"Can't argue with you there," admitted Sans. His life was coated with a never-ending sense of deja-vu. It got old sometimes.

Becauseyou'redifferent from the rest of them, Sans," Flowey went on, his smile almost friendly. "You may not have the same power as me and the human, but you sure have…something." His expression grew sly, though not sinister. "That, and, honestly, you're the most entertaining character left in this world, besides the human. Because youdon'tdo the exact same thing each time, even though you don't really remember previous resets. If there's any chance of me breaking this dull cycle, it's withyou. How about it?"

Sans stayed quiet. Thisdidfeel new, so new that it was almost unnerving,unfamiliar.It was an intriguing offer. After so many resets, both by this flower and the human, maybe…

"Ain't happenin' this time, buddy," said Sans, summoning a flurry of bones around him. "Not after treating Papyrus like this. Now, if you're nice to my brother, and everyone else…Welp, maybe then we can try something new…nexttime."

Flowey snarled, face growing snake-like and distorted. "Youwilldie.Painfully. And I'll kill you asmanytimes as I want before I reset." His normal innocent expression abruptly popped back into place. "Yousureyou wanna do this the hard way?"

"Oh, I'm sure," said Sans. "What's the hurry anyway? We've both got all the time in the world, don't we?"


They got back to another happy ending eventually, though the machine showed quite a few resets first. Was it something other than the human this time? The reset patterns were shorter and sharper than usual, like a row of pointed teeth. One of these days, Sans was going to find out…

Oh well, it didn't matter right now. Everyone was free. There was no time as fleeting or precious as the present, so Sans was just going to enjoy it.

He wasn't sure why he was revisiting the Underground. Everyone was scampering around on the surface now, finally free of their cavernous prison. Yet here he was in Snowdin, trekking through the woods like he was on patrol and bored. He almost felt...sad? Everything was so quiet now.

He came up to the door he and Toriel always used to joke through, and saw it was open. Even Toriel...no,especiallyToriel was eager to get out of here. That, or she had left it ajar when hurrying out to help the human...yeah, probably that. Either way, Toriel wasn't there now. He could go through, but what would be the point? Though, he was mildly curious about the Ruins...

Loud crunching steps made Sans jump. He slid behind a tree, peeking out warily. Who else was still here?

Papyrus cheerfully strutted along past Sans's tree. Tucked under one bony arm were some books. A plate of his (in)famous spaghetti was in the other. Sans heard him humming as he strode through the open door.

What's he doing?wondered Sans, waiting until his brother was out of sight to follow.

It seemed like the Ruins were nothing but an endless hallway. Sans had to keep his distance to avoid detection. He had never been to the Ruins before, so teleporting ahead wouldn't work. Besides, Papyrus seemed to know where he was going. Hadhedone this before?

The seemingly infinite hall eventually lead to the inside of a small house. This must be where Toriel lives...lived. Funny how Sans had to remind himself all the time that no one lived in the Underground anymore. He kind of wished he had the chance to see it while Toriel was still here. He was sure she could tell him the history of every knickknack and dent.

Papyrus headed straight for the door, apparently not interested in the house. That would be an adventure for another day. Sans followed his brother outside.

The Ruins themselves weren't that impressive. Just some stone pillars, outdated traps, and red leaves everywhere. The latter were more hazardous than the traps, because they crinkled so harshly when stepped on. Papyrus disabled traps along the way. The air here was a little fresher than Sans was used to, probably because of that huge hole the human fell through was somewhere around here.

Papyrus went through the stone gate that marked the entrance to the Ruins. Ah, there was that giant hole Toriel always talked about. Sunlight streamed down in a fat golden beam, illuminating the otherwise bleak cavern. A patch of yellow flowers grew where the rays poured down.

One of those flowers had a face, and stretched up as Papyrus approached.

Flowey!thought Sans, rage immediately flooding him. That malicious, cowardly trickster was hiding here? He ought to stick a few bones through his spindly stem right now.

Sans didn't, however, because Papyrus knelt down in front of the flora. "Hello Flowey! I brought you some books and, of course, my soon-to-be-world-famous spaghetti!"

Flowey didn't respond at first.

Sans stayed ready to attack.

"...Thanks Papyrus," Flowey said, meek and quiet. There was another pause, and then a long slurping sound. Was Flowey actuallyeatingthe spaghetti? Sans didn't think he could eat normal food. Well, hedidhave a mouth, Sans supposed, though most of the time he used it for taunts and insults. Was sunlight not good enough for him anymore?

"How is it?" asked Papyrus eagerly.

"Uh...good," said Flowey. "Though, I think this'll last me awhile… So...uh...you don't have to keep coming back."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Papyrus indignantly, folding his arms. "Of course I'll keep visiting you! You're my friend!"

Sans barely refrained from throwing a bone at the back of Papyrus's head. Why did his brother have to be sostupid? Flowey was theirenemy.

"...You do realize I tricked you, took everyone's souls, and nearly erased everything, right?" asked Flowey.

At least Flowey agreed with Sans...wait, what?

"But now everyone's free! Because you and the human united us!" Papyrus answered cheerfully. "The way you did it was...not nice...and...I'm not really sure what happened...but it all worked out, so it's okay! Nothing's fair in love and war-"

Everything'sfair in love and war, corrected Sans in his head. Also, had he not told Papyrus what "LOVE" stood for yet?

"And this was both loveandwar, so of course it wasn't fair!" Papyrus went on. "But the barrier wasn't very fair either, and I think it's evenlessfair that you can't come to the surface too."

"Eh, it's not that bad," said Flowey, attempting to brush it off. "I've got plenty of sun and water right here. That's all a flower like me really needs."

I knew it!Sans thought.Hedoeswork just like a plant.

"No!Everyoneneeds friends!" Papyrus declared. "And spaghetti! I'll go make you some more!" He dashed off.

Sans nearly got run over by his brother, but still somehow avoided being seen. He waited a moment, and then walked out to the buttercup. "Let me guess..."

Flowey yelped when he saw Sans. "Oh h-hey..."

"My bro does this every time?" asked Sans.

Flowey wilted either from relief or guilt. "Yeah...Says the exact same thing each time too. And he always comes back, no matter what I say or how I treat him...He'll keep coming back too, until the reset comes..." He sneered a little. "Whacha think of that, Smiley Trashbag? That he still likes me despite your best efforts?"

"You mean despiteyourbest efforts?" said Sans. He shrugged. "Doesn't say much about me, to be honest, but it sure says a lot aboutyou...Heh, my bro sure is something though, isn't he?"

"...Yeah, I guess he is."

Silence stretched between them.

"Why can't you leave the Underground?" asked Sans.

"Because, then I'll mess everything up." admitted Flowey. "I have to stay here, or… I don't want to cause any more trouble." He paused. "Guess I kinda deserve that after everything, huh?"

"Probably," said Sans with a shrug. "...Welp, you're no threat now, so I guess I'll let you live." As he walked away, he added. "Until next time, I guess."

Flowey laughed. "Yeah...'til next time..." He turned around and began to retch.

Sans kept going, content with Flowey's miserable stomach. He would make agreattaste tester for Papyrus, at least until the reset came.


No human. No Undyne. No Papyrus. No problem.

Time to visit the lady on the other side of the door.

Sans strolled down the path of leafless trees, his slippers crunching on the thin snow. He could check on Papyrus, or the royal guard dogs, or recalibrate his puzzles, or…nope, nothing better to do. Not at all.

Sometimes being lazy was the most enjoyable when Sans knew he should be doing other things. It gave him a mild sense of power, almost an illusion of choice. Today he did what he felt like doing. And today…

…Suddenly felt different. Why did he feel like he was being watched? He should be the only one out-

He froze when he got to the door, staring in shock and horror.Oh no…Oh no oh no oh no…

"Welcome brother!" announced Papyrus, dressed in a chef's outfit and eyes brightly white. In front of the door was a table covered with a silky red tablecloth. Two sets of white china plates and silverware adorned both sides of the table, with one place setting right next to the door. A bone-shaped candle was burning in the center of the table. "I was just about to call you! You shouldn't keep Miss Door waiting."

"…What's all this, bro?" asked Sans with a nervous smile.

"Your date with Miss Door, of course!" Papyrus declared happily.

"…Um… you know her, bro?"

"Not personally. She hasn't said a word to me this whole time," Papyrus said. "But Dr. Alphys says you talk to her all the time!"

"Alphys…?" Sans asked, before the noticing the glint of a camera in the bush next to the door. "…Oh." How did he not see that before? Wait, ifAlphysknew…

"Now don't be shy!" Undyne crowed, pouncing out from behind a tree. "Really, you and Miss Door are such wallflowers…" She summoned a spear and pointed it dramatically at the door. "But I'm sure she'll talk toyou! Because sheloves you!"

Oh boy…Sans thought. If Undyne knew, then he would never hear the end of it.

More grinning monsters emerged from the dark woods, all familiar faces from Grillby's and the Royal Guard.

"You can do it, Sans!"

"Yeah Sans! You can do itall night long!"

"Hey! You stole that from…what movie was that again?"

"Who cares?"

Sans's face grew hot, glowing sky blue. Damn his magic for spiking up when he got nervous. Damn that Undyne, whose sneer was growing more maniacal every minute. Damn Papyrus for being here, because otherwise everyone else would be having avery bad time.

"What's the matter Sans?" asked Papyrus. He pulled out the outermost chair. "Why don't you take a seat, brother? It would be rude to keep Miss Door waiting."

"Well…I dunno. I haven't washed my coat in forever and-"

"Go sit down!" Papyrus declared, picking up Sans and plopping him in the chair. "I'm sure it'll help with your nerves." He patted Sans on the shoulder, who jumped. "Really Sans? Why are you so nervous? Everyone's here to cheer you on, so you can't fail!"

"Get 'er bone-boy!" Undyne hollered. She whooped, and the other monsters whooped and howled along with her, their chant steadily growing louder.

Sans could hardly hear them above the pounding of his pulse. Whywashe so anxious? It was just Undyne's dumb idea of a joke. Why not play along and pretend he was dating a door? He could always do it for Papyrus…which was what everyone else was doing, really. No one had the heart to explain to Papyrus the obvious truth. He was basically Snowdin's mascot, after all.

"What is all the commotion?" asked the voice beyond the door.

Everyone suddenly shut up. Undyne, frozen mid-pose, looked particularly shocked.

Sans normally would have laughed, but he couldn't croak out a word.Oh god she's actually here.He thought his heart was going to explode. "Uh…"

"Why hello Miss Door!" greeted Papyrus. "It's an honor to finally talk to you! I am the great Papyrus! How do you like the set-up for your date?"

"…Miss Door?" she asked, clearly confused. There was a pause. "Set-up for my…what?"

"You see, my brother-" Papyrus began, before he noticed Sans hurriedly shuffling behind a tree. "Brother! Where are you going? Come back here! Sa…Where'd he go? Howdoeshe just vanish like that…?"


God, his soul was still racing. Undyne and Alphys was going to pay for that later. Though Sans was shocked that he reacted so strongly…Maybe he should stay out here in Waterfall for awhile…

Waterfall was a nice change anyway. Instead of snow everywhere there was water everywhere, cascading over the dark sparkling stones. Echo flowers gave off a pale blue lambency, softly reverberating with the voices of the last person to speak in their vicinity. Sans stayed quiet as he listened to words long forgotten, serenely preserved like fireflies in amber.

'Hey, I've never been here before! This is so cool!" said one echo flower.

"Didja hear? Mettaton's gonna have a big reveal this season! I can't wait!" said another.

""I wonder what nice cream tastes like. The wrapper's supposed to be nice too. I'd like to be complemented…for once…"

"Mommy, how come monster souls are so much weaker than human souls? Is it because we're not as good as humans?"

You don't wanna know the answer to that, kid,thought Sans glumly.

"We gotta be free soon! The king already has six souls! One more human…"

"When will the next human come?"

"A human's gotta come soon right?"

Sans sighed, the white light in his eyes dimming. They sounded so eager, so hopeful even in their sadness. It was just as well that they didn't know better. If Papyrus knew even a tenth of what Sans did…

"All we need is a human and anError!"

"I've gotta do this becauseError!'

"Why is this soError!"

"I amError!"

Sans froze. Everywhere the echo flowers spat out the same flat, heartless tone, overriding the previous plethora of voices.

"Error! Error! Error!"

Then it changed to a different, garbled sound, though Sans still understood it perfectly. The disparity of cold utterances began to sync, until it was like a unified chant for a forbidden ceremony.

Oh no…thought Sans. Regardless, he grinned widely even as his eyes went dark and the surface of his bones squirmed. He was not able to show fear in front ofhim. "What do you want, Gaster?"

A marbled black-and-white goo oozed down from the longest stalactite in the ceiling. Only when the slime reached Sans's eye level did the drip materialized into an upside-down torso of a man-like creature. The rest of its body remained liquid and clinging to the stalactite like a dissolving vampire. "Hello to you too, Sans. Is that how you greet old friends nowadays?"

The echo flowers only spat out jumbled screeches and cries ofError!

"I dunno whatyouare nowadays," Sans said, shrugging, before he glared at the dark mercury-like creature. "But it ain't a friend."

The echo flowers copied Sans's words flawlessly. This was going to be an interesting conversation for someone to overhear later.

"Just asyouhave no old friends to greet anymore," said Gaster, the black blobs on his white face molding into pupiless eyes and a gaping grinning mouth. His face turned into a swirl of black-and-white, eyes and mouth eradicated instantly. "Only companions oblivious to the true nature of this world. And your dear, wretched brother." His mouth slit open. He started chuckling slowly, which quickly accelerated into high-pitched cackles as his entire body wobbled like shaken jello. Bits of him splattered down from the ceiling.

Sans summoned bones to form a makeshift roof to protect himself from the sickly droplets. He then materialized more around him in an arc, pointing them at Gaster. "You wanna have a bad time, buddy?"

Gaster trickled onto the cavern floor, still lost in increasing rapid laughter. He stretched into a quivering puddle, before finally sighing and raising up in a serpentine form. "A bad time?" His torso flared out like a cobra's hood, and tiny pinpricks of white light shone in his black eyes. "We could never have as bad of a time asyou, choosing to stay in this degraded world. Your misery will only grow the longer you stay here. This existence is bane."

"Hey, it's better thannothing," said Sans with another smile and shrug. "Am I right?"

The joke flew over Gaster's head, as they always did. "This world is corrupting you, Sans, and everyone else stranded here. Why suffer so much for a false reality?"

"Because it makes you mad," said Sans. "Also, I happen to like this place, even though it's boring sometimes, with all the deja-vu and all."

Gaster sighed like a weary teacher. The blubbery sound made his back bubble a little. Three gobbets of slime budded off of the semi-liquid being, drifting into the air like the ooze in a lava lamp. Two of the globs formed white, disjointed hands. These almost-skeletal hands stretched the third glob into a colorless canvas. Stray black droplets became the ink, twisting to form a map of the Underground. It showed everything from the Ruins to the Barrier.

"You might enjoy it now…" Gaster began.

The map lines rewove into a simple animation of Sans and Papyrus dodging snowballs from Undyne.

"..But thenthat pathwill be fully executed by the human."

The colors inverted, white lines now showcasing the human walking past piles of clothes and dust that used to be monsters. The human turned toward Sans with a merciless grin. Sans shuddered despite himself.

"Then the world as you know it will be gone," Gaster said. He looked sad as the quasi-canvas abruptly dissolved into smoke and was reabsorbed into him. "No one will ever have a happy ending again, however fleeting."

Sans said nothing.

"It is tragic and inevitable," said Gaster, turning to Sans with a stern stare. "You know as well as we do that this world is designed to fall apart. Why be a casualty of the disaster?" Gaster smiled wanly, finally taking on humanoid shape again. "Why not come with us, to theoutside? Where you will be free of the poisons of this world? This tragedy we watch alone can become a comedy all of us watch together."

"…Yeah, thanks but no thanks," Sans answered. "You've probably told me all this a skele-ton of times before in other timelines. Why even try at this point?"

Gaster looked annoyed, but not surprised. "We're rather stubborn, much like you." His surface rippled with displeasure as his smile slowly melted into a scowl. "Sometimes it's tempting to just take your soul and get it done with." His body smoothed out and straightened as he regained his placidity. "But we deplore mindless violence, especially when weknowwe can reason with youeventually." He smiled almost normally, though his mouth still trickled with black ooze. "That will be so much more satisfying."

Sans frowned. "I've probably said it before, and I'll say it for every reset. I may know the truth about this world…but I won't let it fall. Not for my own happy ending, but for everyone else's. As much as they complain, everyone loves this world. So what if it's fake? It's not fake tothem. Papyrus shows me every day that even little things like half-frozen spaghetti and building snowmen can be amazing."

Gaster's mouth and jowls seeped so much that they looked more like a hound's than a man's. "Sans…We cannot leave you here, knowing what will eventually happen. We want to spare you from that agony before it truly begins. Don't sacrifice yourself so pointlessly. You are better than this world. You don't deserve this fate."

"Then whatdoI deserve?" asked Sans. "Nothingness? That emptiness you come from, full of broken things like you…that's therealtragedy. If you like it so much, then why do you keep coming back to bug me?"

"We want to free you!" Gaster snapped, arching his back like an angry cat. "We want tosaveyou!"

"Why?" asked Sans. "Why not forget about me? What am I compared to that unlimited nothingness? Infinite space, infinite possibility, infinite discoveries…You could go on forever, without ever turning back to this corrupted world…Except, maybe, you need something more than nothingness after all?"

Gaster stayed silent. Hs expression, though calm, seemed almost sad.

Rather than feeling triumphant, Sans felt…guilty? No,angry. "Get outta here,glitch!" He flung a bone at Gaster's face.

Gaster's head caved like a crescent moon to avoid the shot, before inflating out again with a wetpop. That sorrowful look was still there, made even more so as his face slowly melted. "So you still do not listen…" His skin boiled as he billowed with black-and-white smoke. He swiftly grew thinner and smaller as his entire body vaporized. "Understandable…that you still do not see…" He was little more than a wisp with a drooping face. That visage, though gloomy, grinned. "Still…progress…" With a final burst his face dissolved into white haze, leaving a brief afterimage before vanishing completely.

All was silent, except for the disjointed murmuring of the flowers.

"Get outta here,glitch!"

"Get outta…"



"Error! Error! Error!"

Sans still stood there, gazing at the spot where Gaster had been moments ago. The lights in his eyes were faint, and his smile feeble. "It's too bad that you can't understand life anymore, buddy. You used to love it so much."

"You used to love…'

"Love it so much…"

"Used to…"

Sans had forgotten how annoying echo flowers could be. No wonder Undyne hated them. She had to live with their meaningless prattle daily.

Sans's ringtone pierced the ghostly mutters of the cavern, startling Sans. That's right, he was supposed to be meeting Papyrus at Undyne's. Sans wondered if Undyne's cooking lessons had set her house on fire again. For someone who was so sensitive to heat, she sure loved abusing fire magic. "Heya. Sorry I'm late."

"There's nothing to apologize for, Sans."

Sans stiffened, his pupils dwindling to tiny specks.

"You have all the time in the world, as you like to say, to join us," stated Gaster over the phone. Even with the sudden static Sans could hear him perfectly. "Meanwhile, we have all the time ininfinityto wait. So go ahead, have your fill of this world." The phone went dead.

Sans numbly stuffed the phone back in his front hoodie pocket. His eyes were dark, and his smile gone. The exterior of his bones still felt like snails were swarming all over them.

"Heya, sorry I'm…"

"Error! Error! Error!"

"Shut up!" Sans growled to the flowers.

"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!…"

He needed to leave this place.


"Hey punk," Undyne greeted. Strangely, she seemed nervous. "Can we talk a minute?"

"Sure," Sans replied, grinning widely. His eyes glowed brightly. "You here to beg for mercy after yesterday?"

"Hell no!" Undyne snapped, before laughing obnoxiously. "Man, we gotcha good, didn't we? It was totally worth sitting there for three hours!" Her guffaws eventually died down. "…But seriously, I gotta tell you something about your door-friend."

Now Sans was genuinely interested. "And what's that?"

"Well…" Undyne began. "How do I put this?…Don't date her. Seriously. She's already hooked up with someone. Someoneveryimportant. And if thatveryimportant someone knew that you were hitting on his wife, then he'll…well, he'll probably invite you for a cup of tea…and then pour it down your eye-socket."

Sans took a moment to process that. He grinned again. "I dunno, that soundstea-riffic to me."

"Will you listen to me?" Undyne barked. "If you know who I'm talking about-"

"But I thought the king and queen weren't together anymore," said Sans. "Didn't they have a big falling-out years ago?"

"Well, yeah…" Undyne replied, looking dejected. "But…it'd be good if the King Asgore and Queen Toriel could get back together eventually. You know, for the good of all monsters. The king still goes on about her, y'know." She turned fierce again. "So I won't let you ruin that chance, got it punk?"

"I don't think that's gonna happen," answered Sans with a shrug. "Doesn't matter if I'm involved or not. She seems to really hate what he's doing, you know. She complains about it all the time. That's why she left. If the king keeps killing humans, I really doubt they'lleverbe back together."

"But they've always loved each other!" Undyne argued. "They're like the OTP of the Underground!"

OTP? What does that mean again?wondered Sans. He knew it was some nerd term Alphys used when describing relationships in those anime she and Undyne always watched. "Maybe they were the One True Pairing." So hedidknow it…Whydid he know that? He never watched anime… "But would either of them be happynow? I don't think so, and that's all that matters." He winked. "So why don't we let the queen decide who she wants? All's fair in love and war."

"…You can't be serious," Undyne growled. She pointed her spear at Sans. "Youwant to be king? Like hell that the Underground needs a lazyass like you!Isure ain't gonna put up with it!"

"Whoa there, who said anything about being a king?" Sans said, holding up his hands. "Ruling's too much work. I just want a nice lady to swap bad jokes with."

"Ifthat'sall you wanted, we wouldn't be having this conversation," growled Undyne.

"…Alright, fair enough," said Sans. "But c'mon, you can't blame a guy for wanting some companionship, right? She's lonely, I'm lonely, and we make each other feel better. If you feel so sorry for the king being alone, why don'tyoubecome his queen?"

Undyne stared at Sans like he just suggested anime wasn't real. He knew that, of course, butshedidn't. Sans suspected Alphys started that as a joke, only Undyne never caught on.

"Think about it.EmpressUndyne!" Sans went on, putting his hands back into his hoodie pockets. "…You're right. Thatisa scary thought. The Underground would be on fire in three days."

Undyne snarled, her eye turning into a slit. "You…Do youwantmetomurderyou?"

"But then who would take care of Papyrus?" asked Sans, not batting an eye at the death threat. "You?"

Undyne emitted a guttural growl, but she lowered her spear. "I only put up with you because you'rebarelycompetent enough to be a sentry, and because you're Papyrus's brother.But,if Ieverthink you're anactualthreat…" She sneered, showing off her needle-like teeth. "Oh, it'll be so much fun to take you down."

"Careful Undyne, you're starting to sound like a anime villain instead of a hero," Sans warned with a smile.

"Ugh, I don't know why I even bother talking to you," groaned Undyne. She put her helmet back on and walked away, clanking heavily with every step.

At least I'll hear her coming,thought Sans.Once everything cools off I'll have to see how my door…Toriel…Door-iel? Yes, my Dooriel.He snickered. He would have to remember that one for when they finally exchanged names.


Once again the human had arrived, and once again everyone had reached the surface. Still, an unremarkable trek to freedom was still a trek to freedom, so Sans couldn't complain too much. He and Papyrus were standing on the roof of the tallest building on the surface, admiring the sunset as the sky blended from blue to orange to red.

"Isn't thisfantasticbrother?" said Papyrus proudly, standing posed with one foot on the ledge and his chest stuck out. His scarf whipped about wildly in the wind. "Every day, we get to say good morning and good night to this great ball of fire in the sky. The surface is full of suchwondrousthings!"

"It sure is," agreed Sans, reclining in a lawn chair he had pilfered from a local store. There were no humans running it, so why not? The future didn't matter anyway. He soaked in the present's fading rays…and wondered why something in him stung when he looked at Papyrus posed like that. Forget the future. Enjoy the present.

"Sans, what's that?" asked Papyrus, pointing to a piece of fabric waving about on a long pole on a nearby building.

"That's a flag," Sans explained. "You know, like a really big version of what pops out of the hole in the snow-golf puzzle."

Papyrus stared transfixed by the flag. "…Sans, can I have it?"

Sans snorted. "Where'd you put a big ol' thing like that? Just so you know, I'll get it, butyou'relugging the pole home."

"I don't want the pole, Sans! I just want the flag," Papyrus answered in annoyance.

"So you wanna be…flagged down?"

"Sans!Just get it for me!"

"Alright, alright," Sans replied with a chuckle. He extended his hand toward the flag, which glowed bright blue. The flag soon glowed bright blue as well, and with a couple tugs it ripped free of the flagpole and flew toward the skeleton brothers.

Papyrus almost danced with joy as the wide piece of fabric obediently landed at his feet. He eagerly clutched it like it was precious silk. "Wowie! It's socool! Thank you Sans!"

"No problem," Sans answered, before yawning. "Whaddaya gonna do with it any-"

Papyrus eagerly draped it over his shoulders, tying a knot in the front. He spun around to Sans, his makeshift cape whipping around with him. "Ta-da!What do you think Sans? Doesn't it make the great Papyrus evengreaterthan ever?"

Sans suppressed a snort of laughter. "Sure does, bro. You look amazing. You look-"

"Done with your training already, brother?"

Sans froze. What wasthat?"You look…"

The wind picked up, making the flag-cape splay out majestically behind Papyrus. The sinking sun cast everything in an amber hue.

What was…this feeling? It made him want to laugh and cry at once. "Look like…"

"Well, if you have enough energy forthesekind of shenanigans, Sans, I'd say you have more than enough stamina for five laps around Snowdin."

"…A hero," Sans breathed.

"Wowie! You really think so?" squeaked Papyrus excitedly. "Oh boy, I can't wait to show the human, and Undyne, and Alphys, and-"

"Hang on Sans! We have to get you away from there and away from him and we're almost there and we'll get you fixed and we'll fix all this and-"

"-And then we'll show King Asgore and Lady Asgore, andthey'llbe so excited they'll throw a big party!" Papyrus babbled on giddily. "And then Lady Asgore will bake me a cinnamon-butterscotch pie! And…Sans? Why are your eyes blue? And why are your tears…Tears? Sans, why are youcrying?"

Sans barely felt the glowing blue tears slip down his cheekbones. Suddenly that constant, sad ache he had around Papyrus sharpened into unforgiving stabs of grief. "Papyrus…" he croaked, eyes sinking to the ground. He couldn't even bear to look at his brother now.

"Sans, what's wrong?" Papyrus asked, walking over to Sans and kneeling down to his level.

Thisis wrong…thought Sans.This isallwrong…

"Don't worry, I'll share the pie with you!" Papyrus reassured, putting a hand on Sans's shoulder. "You're my brother after all. I'd never forget you!"

"I will protect you, brother…"

"Is this what you want me to do, brother?"

"…No!You'rethe one who deserves…"

Sans soul hurt like it was being crushed. "…Bro, you're…you're not supposed to be like this…" Sans choked out between sobs.How could I forget that? How could I let myself forget when…

"Nyeh?" asked Papyrus, giving Sans a clueless stare.

"You were…different once…" Sans went on, his voice becoming very quiet. "Long ago…so long ago…when? Before all the resets…there was us, and Dr. Gaster, and everyone else…We wanted to know the truth about the world…"

"Resets? Dr. Gaster?" asked Papyrus in concern. "Sans, are you unwell? You're not making any sense."

"…Nevermind," said Sans. Why did he expect that to work? He wiped his tears on his sleeve, leaving a bright blue residue on his jacket. He suddenly felt very tired. His head hurt. "Let's go back." He headed for the door.

"Of course brother! The sun is going to sleep anyway," said Papyrus following, cocooning himself in his flag like a friendly vampire. "And we can show off my spectacular new cape as well!" His smile faltered a little. "Just…please don't be sad, Sans. I'm sorry that I'm…not the Papyrus I'm supposed to be?" He looked like he might cry himself.

"…Don't worry about it, bro," said Sans, forcing a smile as he glanced back to Papyrus. "It's nothing that really matters anymore anyway…" Everything felt so fake. He could almost feel the code strumming through the walls and scripting every heavy step on the stairs.

"Sans, I can tell you're upset," said Papyrus as he followed Sans down the stairs. "So how aboutthis?" He scooped Sans up with the flag-cape, put him on his shoulders, and then dashed down the stairs with Sans in tow. "Nyeh-heh-heh-heh-heh!"

Sans held on for dear life as he bounced with every rapid step. Then, inevitably, he smiled. This waswaymore fun than the elevator with the soulless music. This was new, and the nice kind of new. He felt almost…hopeful?

Maybe tomorrow Sans would remember more. Maybe tomorrow he could explain it better to his mentally-enfeebled brother. Maybe tomorrow he could more readily accept his loss.

For that timeline, tomorrow never came. They never even reached the bottom of the stairs.


"You're losing yourself more and more," warned Gaster in the following timeline. It was only a phone call, not a visit. "It saddens us to see that, especially when it's so unnecessary." The phone clicked off.

Same old babbling, probably,thought Sans. It felt familiar, anyway. Having tired of selling hot dogs for the day (he had been especially sleepy today), Sans teleported back home. He landed on the couch with awhump, startling Papyrus in the kitchen.

"Sans! I'm trying to prepare the most exquisite spaghetti yet!" Papyrus scolded, waving a sauce-covered spoon around. This caused said sauce to splatter everywhere, so Papyrus hurriedly went to clean it up.

"Sure thing," Sans replied with a chuckle. He watched his taller brother scurry around with amusem*nt. Papyrus really was the greatest, in his own inexplicable way. He couldn't ask for a better brother.

"You're losing yourself," Gaster had said.

Shut up Gaster,thought Sans, and dimly wondered why he thought that with such anger. He glanced back to Papyrus, now sticking his semi-edible creation into the oven, and felt a small bubble of sorrow form in his chest. Then it popped like a pricked balloon, and Sans thought nothing more of it.


The human was here, currently off on a date with Papyrus. Well, "date" was a very loose term, and that was just as well. Who knew a human's true preferences…but Papyrus was having fun, and the human was at least playing along, so Sans was fine with it. While Papyrus had a good time with the kid, Sans would have a good time at his own private rendezvous deep in the woods.

…If the lady would answer the door. Sans had been there at least twenty minutes, patiently and then not-so-patiently knocking. She must have been deep in the ruins, probably handling some spat between Froggits. Oh well. He'd have to try again later. Though his schedule would be busy with the human now here…Didn't matter. He always found time. His instincts told him so.

As usual, Sans's instincts were right. Even in-between the familiar antics with the kid, he could always etch out some time to go back to the door in Snowdin. It was so expected that Sans found himself anticipating it far before the opportunity actually happened. He could almostplanfor it - when he would slip away,howhe would slip away, what jokes he would say, how he would knock on the door to the rhythm of his favorite song until she answered"What melody is that?"and he would say…

…Nothing, because she wasn't answering during any of Sans's visits. He knew she wasn't always there, but he had never gone this long without speaking to her at least once. His instincts screamed that something was wrong.

…But maybe Sans was just being paranoid. He came to the door more frequently, staying longer each time. He knocked at the door every few minutes, ranging from steady beats to rapid rapping to whatever song was currently stuck in his head. Sometimes he told jokes to himself, like in the old days.

Eventually he started taking his naps beside the door, leaving only to briefly check on Papyrus or the human. Everything else seemed normal. The human befriended everyone on sight, with Papyrus always going about how wonderful they were.

…So it should all be fine. She would knock on the door herself anytime now, with the most cringe-inducing pun yet. Then the human could wait a bit, because Sans had at least three days' worth of horrible jokes he had been cooking up while he was waiting so long…


"Sans? How long have you been out here?" asked Papyrus, upon finding Sans slumped against the door to the Ruins. "Are you alright?"

"…She's not answering…" Sans muttered, not looking at Papyrus. "…Why isn't she answering…?" But at this point, he knew. The human had gone through the entire Underground…but everyone was still here. Asgore was gone, and the six human souls previously gathered had vanished as well. Undyne was ready to wage war on the humans. Was this all because…?

"You're…more important than you think, lady…" Sans murmured. He gave the door a couple of half-hearted knocks. "C'mon, answer me.." He glanced over to Papyrus, who was looking more concerned. "Sorry bro…can I just stay here for a while longer?"

"…Alright," Papyrus answered. "I'll bring you some dinner, Oh yeah, Undyne's allowed me to join the royal guard!"

"Really?" asked Sans.What are you thinking Undyne? Papyrus can't fight. Not seriously anyway."What position?"

"The most important royal position!" Papyrus announced proudly.

"…Which is?"

"Thatisthe position!" Papyrus answered. "My job is to be moral support by standing around looking cute."

Despite everything, Sans burst out laughing.

"Sans! It's a very important job! It's right in the title!" Papyrus protested, putting his hands on his hips. He sighed. "Anyway, I'll go heat up some spaghetti for you."

"Thanks, bro. You're the best."

Sans soon dozed off after Papyrus left. In fact it was Papyrus's voice that roused him out of slumber. His brother wasn't speaking to him, however.

"Miss Door, you really should start talking to Sans again," Papyrus said. He was standing next to Sans with a steaming plate of spaghetti in one hand and a blue blanket draped over the other arm. "I know my brother can be infuriating at times, especially when he does nothing but puns for hours…but he's starting to get really upset. I've never seen him like this…so please, Miss Door, don't be mad at my brother. He really cares very much…"

"…She's not mad," Sans mumbled sleepily. "Just…unwell. That's why I'm staying here…'til she feels better…"

"Oh I see," said Papyrus. He bent down to set the spaghetti beside Sans. "Just don't make yourself unwell too." He draped the blue blanket over Sans. "Miss Door wouldn't want that either, right?"

Sans chuckled, pulling the blanket tighter around himself. "Right."

"Should I call Dr. Alphys?"

"…No. I don't think she can treat this. She's not a…door-ctor."

"…Sans, that might be your worst pun yet."


Papyrus sighed. "I know you want to make sure Miss Door is okay…but come home once in a while, brother."

"Sure thing, bro."

Sans waited until Papyrus had left to call the human. He wanted to know what happened, and why the human decided to take Asgore's life and…he didn't even know her name. This time, maybe he never would.

…However, the human never answered either, which was just as unexpected as the door's silence. The humanalwaysanswered their phone: Sans didn't think they had the option to ignore it. So Sans left a voicemail instead, which almost turned angry except when Papyrus butted in and wanted to talk too. Apparently his brother hadn't gone far.

Still, despite his grief and anger, Sans felt a cold dread for the human. Did something happen to them too? Is that why they weren't getting the usual happy ending?


From this chapter forward we start to go into the neutral endings. We won't cover all of them though, just the ones with the most interesting consequences. Meanwhile the main plot chugs along in the background and in the details.

Chapter 3: An Unfamiliar World With Deep Shadows


Sans goes through a series of neutral timelines, each with their own tragedies and comforts. Meanwhile Gaster lurks in many forms, as he often does.


Hi again! This is the first chapter fully devoted to Neutral Endings. Some have longer consequences than others.

Anyway, enjoy! Remember, bold IIIIII means it's the start of another timeline. As such, there's quite a bit of jumping around.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -T.S. Eliot

File 3: An Unfamiliar World With Deepening Shadows

The timeline data from Sans's machine showed a different pattern. Sans didn't need a mostly-broken contraption to tell him that something went wrong last time, though. He didn't have the usual warm, comforting feeling lingering in his chest, the quiet assurance that everything will be fine. He wondered what happened. Did the human do something? Did Gaster do something? Didhedo something and fail?

All Sans knew was that he wanted to hear the lady on the other side of the door so badly. He took a shortcut and arrived there almost instantly. He was so eager that he frantically knocked on the door nonstop until she finally answered. Then Sans said nothing, because he hadn't planned any jokes. So he just laughed, much to the lady's puzzlement. It was just so nice to listen to her voice…


The human came soon afterward…but the barrier didn't come down. Everyone was still trapped. Did this happen last time too? The human was as friendly as ever…except they destroyed Mettaton, Sans still didn't understand why the kid did it, after sparing everyone else. He had witnessed it live on his TV with Papyrus. He was sadly glad that Papyrus thought it was all acting and special effects.

Still, it wasn't a hopeless situation. The king had perished, but the queen had returned to establish new order. Sans had never seen her Majesty before, but the white goat-lady carried herself with a gentle but firm dignity. Her voice he recognized instantly. It was a shame she was always so busy at the palace. Otherwise he would have started knocking on the palace door instead of the one leading to the Ruins. Maybe that was for the best.

Sans was unexpectedly busy too, because now Undyne was living with him and Papyrus. She lost her job because it wasn't needed anymore, and then she lost her house because she was horrible at cooking. It wasn't quite as harrowing as Sans thought…but for the wrong reasons.

"Here's your hot-dog punk," Undyne growled, shoving the mustard-drowned meat to Monster Kid. Since the lizard-like boy didn't have arms, he eagerly chomped down on it and ran off like a dog with a bone. The fish-woman sighed as she watched him scamper off, putting one elbow on the hotdog stand.

"Had enough for one day?" asked Sans, leaning on the counter beside her.

Undyne frowned at him tiredly, before slumping onto the hot-dog stand herself. "…Yeah…"

"Whaddaya wanna do then?" asked Sans.

"…Nothing really…" answered Undyne distantly.

"Welp, sounds good to me," answered Sans with a grin, before yawning. "It's nice to just be able do nothing, isn't it? No worries, no obligations. You just do whatever you feel like."

"…But what if you don't want to do anything at all,ever?" asked Undyne.

"Then you know what it's like to be me," said Sans.

"If this is what it's like to be you, then you must hate yourself," said Undyne. It was a statement, not an insult. "Sans, don't you wish you could've…done more? Or done something different? I mean…I guess this isn't the worst thing ever, but…it feels so wrong, not having Asgore or…Alphys…" Her face scrunched up in sorrow. "I…I thought I did everything right though…I can't think of what else I could've done…besides killing the human, of course…"

Sans stayed quiet. He missed Alphys too. No one knew where she went, but considering her Undernet persona had stayed as silent as a corpse…Still, Sans was always looking, even as his hopes grew colder. He could set up the determination shots fine himself, but the horrible guilt…He knew she created Mettaton, but he never thought Mettaton's death…

"…But I don't get it. The human didn't seem bad at all, until…" Undyne began, before slamming her fist into the counter. It had cracks and dents from previous temper flares. "Dammit, I should've known better than to trust a human! Especiallythathuman! Because they killed Mettatonshe's-" Undyne gritted her teeth as her fists shook. "I never thought…I never…"

Sans was quiet at first. "…Well, at least-"

"Keep your goddamn puns to yourself!"Undyne snapped, whirling around with her pupil slit and her sharp teeth bared.

Sans took a step back, though he kept his hands in his hoodie pocket. He stayed silent for a moment. "…I was going to say, at least we've still got you. No human's ever gonna hurt a monster again with you around. I think Alphys would be happy, if she knew that."

Undyne stared at him. The last thing she expected from him was a compliment. Her stance relaxed as she smiled slightly. "Yeah…Yeah, that would make her happy, huh?…Knowing I've become like the heroes in the anime we always watched…" Her grin grew more fiendish. "That's why I'll destroy any human I come across! And if we get to the surface…" She sneered. "Oh, there'll be hell to pay if they evenbreathefunny around us!" She cackled.

I can't believe I actually missed this Undyne,thought Sans, but he smiled regardless.

"Y'know, sometimes, I swear I can hear them," Undyne added quietly. "The heartbeats of everyone in the Underground…theirvoiceseven…though I can never tell who's who."

"Really?" asked Sans. This felt new.

"Yeah," answered Undyne, still quiet. "Voices that tell meYou must not give up! You must destroy the human! You must free everyone!Stuff like that."

"Huh," said Sans. "Sounds like you're even morefishythan I thought."

"What'sthatsupposed to mean?" Undyne growled. "You got something against aquatic folk?"

"Nah. It's just fun to mess with you," Sans replied. "Anyway, go do whatever. I'm gonna catch some Z's."

"Of course you are," Undyne said disdainfully. "I'm gonna go wreck a boulder until it's nothing but rocks! And then I'll wreck those rocks until they're nothing but dust! Then I'll wreck that dust until…it's whatever's smaller than dust! Whatever! Later loser!" She rocketed off.

Sans turned around and leaned against the counter, staring at the false stars glittering in the ceiling. He knew Undyne would need more than that to fix her broken spirit. It would take more than the queen's gentle encouragement to restore hope in the Underground too. This path wasn't going to lead to the happy ending, no matter what they did.

…But it was going to reset anyway. Just like their true bliss was fleeting, so was this misery. Sans took a curious comfort in that. There wasn't even much of a point in trying to reassure Undyne. She would instantly revert to her usual aggressive self at any time. It was almost meaningless…Still, it would make enduring this flawed timeline a bit more pleasant.

"One hotdog please."

Sans hadn't even noticed the customer come up. He quickly spun around. "Sure thing, bud-" He froze mid-sentence, the light in his eyes shrinking to pinpricks.

The lizard girl in front of him was a lot like Monster Kid, only gray. It wasn't just her skin and spikes:everythingabout her was gray, like something had sucked all the color out of her. Her eyes were nothing but white pupiless orbs.

"Have you ever thought about a world where everything is exactly the same…" asked the grayscale child in a tiny voice. "Except you don't exist?"

"Su-" Sans began, before his eyes went black. "Gaster."

"Everything functions perfectly without us," said the gray lizard girl, her voice distorting and mixing with an older male voice. Her body rippled, then abruptly melted. The gray slime darkened and stretched into Gaster's usual guise. "So why stay at all?" he asked in his normal deep voice.

"Because it makes you mad," replied Sans with a grin, eyes staying unlit. "Also, I happen to like this place, even though it's…boring?" He realized immediately that was the wrong thing to say, even though it felt like he had said it many times before.

"Things are changing now," said Gaster, his head twisting until it was upside down. His gaping grin slid down to the bottom of his reversed head "Aren't you happy?"

Sans only glared at him.

Gaster's head turned another forty-five degrees, though this time his smile stayed in place. "You're not, are you? Of course you're not. You know what this means, don't you? The pattern's broken, and there's no telling what will come next. You no longer feel safe. Maybe you'll get another happy ending, or maybe someone will die. Maybemanypeople will die. Maybeeveryonewill die, and everything will be corrupted even more."

Gaster's words were truer than Sans wanted to admit. As much as he hated the repeated monotony, it brought him solace as well. The constant uncertainty now was jarring. "Guess that's nothing new to you, huh? Who knows what'll happen in that void of yours, right? There's no rules at all."

"That's where you're wrong," said Gaster, as his head slowly ticked back to an upright position. "The rules are just beyond your comprehension. Everything that's lost comes here. That includes lost knowledge." His black smile suddenly engulfed most of his white face. "We know everything Sans, because the truth is lost over and over. Everything you've forgotten is waiting for you. You only need to come with us to reclaim it."

"By becoming lost myself? No thanks," said Sans. "I ain't that desperate to know about past lives. What does it matter anyway? They've already happened. Knowing what once was won't do me any good if it never lasts." That stung more than Sans expected it to.

Gaster's mouth narrowed to a line. "So you are content with a meaningless life? An existence where progress is ripped away without warning or consent?"

"…No," began Sans, eyes dark. "But I still care about this world. For all the hell it puts me through, it also gives me so much to love. And who knows…:" His eyes relit. "Maybe these different paths aren't the path to destruction, but to a true ending." His eyes turned black again. "A perfect world where you can't exist, because nothing can be lost. Maybe that's what you'rereallyscared of."

Gaster frowned, but only for a moment. "A true ending? Perhaps you'll get what you wish for, whether you want to or not. In the meantime, we'll leave you to your beloved world, so it can tear you apart again and again. Perhaps in a few cycles you'll reconsider your faith." He suddenly vanished, as if he was never there at all.

Sans frowned. Why did it seem like Gaster was showing up more and more? Was the half-dissolved fiend getting stronger, or just more persistent?

Either way, that was enough time at the hotdog stand for one day. He took a shortcut back to Snowdin, not even packing up the ingredients.



Sans stood with his back to the entrance of Waterfall, numb to the cold howling winds. His eyes were dark. Writhing in his grasp was Papyrus's scarf, battered by the ceaseless gusts. The rest of his brother's armor lay scattered on the ground, off-white dust barely visible in the pristine snow.

Why would the human kill Papyrus? He was the least threatening monster in the Underground. The humanknewthat, because Papyrus had captured it three times already. If only Papyrus was semi-capable of building a decent cell…or if only Sans had taken a little time to improve it himself. Then it would be that heartless child that would be going to their death instead of…

Sans hadonepurpose. It wasn't being a sentry…though he should have taken that more seriously too. It was being abrother, and somehow, he failed that miserably.Whydid he always fall asleep before Papyrus went to battle the human?

…Did thatalwayshappen? Did Sansneversee Papyrus fight the human? He had no way of telling, of course, but the fact that he inexplicitly conked out beforeeveryone of this timeline's fights, including this one…An artic chill that had nothing to do with Snowdin shuddered through his marrow.

"You can't save him."

Sans's head snapped up as he spun around. Lingering in the mouth of the Waterfall cavern was a white hound dog in colorless armor. She held a spear in one hand and a leash in the other. He almost remembered her name…but it didn't matter, because he knew it was just Gaster in another form. Sans felt the surface of his bones prickle like they wanted to grow hair.

"It doesn't matter how much you strive to protect your brother," Gaster went on. His deep voice sounded so wrong coming from the female hound. "In the end, it's the human who decides their fate. It seems this time, they found your brother unworthy."

Sans snarled, clutching Papyrus's dusty scarf tighter.

"It's not fair, is it?" said Gaster. "This world protects the human, so you can't even properly avenge your brother," He opened his eyes, which were the usual black pits. "Even if you could, what good would it do? Your ATK and HP are pathetic now. You would crumple to dust from a scratch, while not even leaving a bruise on the human. Then if the human spared you…well, you would have no choice but to stay their friend, and you could never attack them again. It's written in everyone's code."

Sans glared at the ground, where all of Papyrus's dust was already blown away.

A slight smirk curled Gaster's drooping jowls. "But what if we told we could give you the power tobreakthose rules?" He lifted up the leash, which whipped wildly in the wind. "To be able to do whatever you desire?"

Sans didn't answer for a while, as the wind died down. "Let me guess…All I'd have to do is to give up my soul, right?"

The colorless canine's smile unzipped impossibly wide, revealing half-melted teeth. Tiny white lights shone in his black eyes as his dissolving tail wagged frantically. Black ooze trailed from the dog's open mouth and dripped off its chin. The dark droplets sizzled on the wet cavern floor. The empty collar on the leash swayed on the dying breeze like a noose.

"Heh…And you callmepredictable…" Sans said with a tired smirk. He went silent again. "But I…Papyrus…" His face contorted with grief.

Gaster was melting all over, his long ears fusing with his neck. He looked more like a drenched lizard than a dog. His fur and armor mixed together like wet paint. His spear and leash melded with the rest of his body, becoming long tendrils.

For a moment, Sans's heart pulsed black under his clothes.

Gaster's tentacles lunged for Sans, but the strike was blocked by two crossed bones. Two more sets of bones clamped down on the tentacle like a vice. The bones spun rapidly, twisting the fluid limbs until they tore. Sans glared at Gaster. "Not today, buddy."

Gaster retracted what was left of the limbs. They reformed back into regular arms moments later, even recreating the spear and leash. "You won't do it? Even for your brother?"

"Especiallyfor my brother," Sans replied coldly. "Papyrus would never want me to sell my soul to the likes of you. He never had a mean bone in his body…Heh…So he could never understand something like revenge. It's pointless…like everything else." Sans forced a smile, as the lights slowly reformed in his eyes. "He'd want…He'd want me to save the human, and keep them from doing anything else bad. To protect everyone that's left…Something a selfish bastard like you could never understand."

Gaster scowled as he became little more than a black-and-white pile of goo. "You call us selfish?" His smile turned sad, or maybe it was just the way his face was melting. "No…it was wrong of us to even…We're sorry. We know you hate fighting…just like…us…" He liquefied into the cavern floor, leaving it ugly with sprawling black stains. It stopped at the snow like there was a barrier there.

This was…new? Gaster apologizing?

Everything was noiseless. Even the wind was gone.


The human never hurt anyone else. Sans made sure of that. He watched it constantly, even when he was struggling not to nod off. However, he never played with the kid, always keeping his distance. He didn't care how nice the human acted around everyone else. Because of its whims, Papyrus was…

Life had been hollow without his brother. Sans couldn't bear living in their house for more than a few days after his death. It remained sealed like a tomb, rank with rancid spaghetti and unwashed socks.

He didn't even go to his secret basem*nt anymore, though he didn't miss it much. He knew eventually a reset would come, and it would all be swept away. Sans had never craved for a reset so much in his life…maybe inanylife.

Queen Toriel returned…only to be promptly kicked out for her pro-human policies. She gave up peacefully, and was exiled back to the ruins by Empress Undyne. Sans was secretly glad. Now that the human was finally gone, he didn't know what else to do with himself. So he spent his days slumped against the Ruins door, joking with ex-queen, almost like old times. Until one day, when his forced laughs finally crumbled to sobs, the door cracked open…


"Sans! Dinner is ready!' said Toriel, entering the living room with a messy apron and flour on her hands. Sans thought the imperfection only added to her beauty.

"Sounds good," said Sans from the recliner, a large book in his lap. Nested inside of the tome was a joke book. "Hey Tori, what do two snakes do after a fight?"

Toriel smiled. "I don't know, Sans. Whatdothey do?"

"They hiss and make up, of course," said Sans.

Toirel laughed as she always did, and Sans couldn't help but laugh with her.

"…And right now our table is…" Toriel went on, giggling. "sansa Sans!"

Sans erupted into laughter. "Oh my god, that's so bad…"

"Isn't it though?' Toriel almost squeaked in delight.

"Oh yeah, my Toriel, it sure is," Sans answered winked at her. "Or, should I say…"

Toriel grinned in anticipation.


Toriel giggled all the way back to kitchen. Sans lay in the chair, basking in the glory of his adorable…no, adoorable nickname she loved so much…

In the ensuing silence, the feeling faded.

The Underground was in chaos outside the ruin doors. Undyne, mad with grief and her newly-usurped power as empress, was ceaselessly stoking the other monsters into a frothing rage. No human would ever survive beyond the Ruins now. That was probably just as well, because Papyrus… He was more loved than he ever realized. Over a single death, nearly every monster was ready to tear humans apart…

…Except Toriel. She talked about the human lovingly, as if they were her own child. However, Sans never told her how his brother died. As much as it hurt to hear her cooing over the kid, he could never bring himself to reveal the truth. She had lost her previous children. Why weigh her with the guilt of something that wasn't her fault. He had been fooled by the human too, until…

It didn't matter. They never left the Ruins anyway. Well, he had to go get shots at the Lab, but that was it. He still hadn't told Toriel about those. She worried over him enough as it was, with his single HP. The whole house was padded with pillows and blankets.

It was nice seeing Alphys sometimes, though they rarely talked extensively. All she did was babble about how awesome Undyne was, and how she would makeeverythingawesome. So Sans had to remain distant and scary, to make sure she didn't carry out further experiments in her mania to please Undyne.

Even his old friends at Snowdin had become toxic with hatred, though he did miss Grillby sometimes. It was disgusting how easily they had turned on gentle Toriel for wanting to be peaceful with humans. It was even more loathsome how easily they turned onhimfor sympathizing with the queen.What about Papyrus? He was yourbrother! Didn't youcareabout him?

…Papyrus would be miserable in this world. That's why Sans left Snowdin without a word. Toriel needed someone to be there for her, and…he needed someone too.

Sans would always hate that human. He wasn't going to pretend he could ever forgive them. However, if adifferenthuman fell down to the Underground, he and Toriel would raise and protect the child. They couldn't let them walk into slaughterhouse outside the doors. Toriel could fuss over the kid instead of constantly fussing overhim. Then Sans could play with it, pull pranks on it, read to it, have…pretend snowballs fights, since the Ruins didn't have snow. They could probably use some of Toriel's flour or something…make puns…make puzzles…He wish he knew how to make spaghetti…

"This table is stillsansa Sans," Toriel called coyly from the kitchen.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," said Sans. They may have both been lonely, but at least they could be lonely together in this quiet house. He was closing the huge tome in his lap when a tiny bone materialized in the middle of it.Huh? Why did I summon this?

A moment later the tiny bone twisted into a tiny dog-like skull, staring at him with big blue eyes.

"Sans! It's getting-" Torirl began, before spotting the miniature skull. "Oh! What is that Sans?"

Sans didn't answer, because he hadnoidea what it was. Some kind of new magic?

The tiny skull paid no mind to Toriel, keeping its wide-eyed gaze on Sans."Master!"it squeaked happily, before vanishing.

Sans remained silently dumbfounded. Ittalked? This was different than just a magical weapon like his bone summons.

"Oh my goodness!" exclaimed Toriel, her normally deep voice going high-pitched with delight. "That was soprecious, Sans! Can you make more?"

"Uh…I dunno," admitted Sans. "I kinda have no idea how I made it, so…"

However, that wasn't the only reason. Part of Sans had such abadfeeling about the strange summon. Yet part of him was really happy too. Sans didn't knowwhatto think.


"Sans,really, I'm fine!" exclaimed Papyrus irritably, when he spotted Sans watching him from behind a tree in Snowdin. "There's no need to worry so over the great Papyrus, dear brother!" He grinned as he stuck out his chest and placed his hand over his heart. "My soul is more than ready to accept the wonderful burden of being a Royal Guard!"

Sans smiled and sighed. He knew Papyrus's heart was on par with many stronger monsters, but something bad happened to him last time. Why else would Sans be so anxious? "I know, bro. That's why you're the best."

"Then I'll be evenbetterthan the best because I will havefriends!" Papyrus added happily.

Friends you've already got, you dolt,thought Sans. Once again he wondered why Papyrus couldn't see that. It seemed unusually dense, even for him.

"Then, once I havefriends…" Papyrus went on. "Then I'll get some friends for you too!"

Sans wasn't sure why that stung so bad. "Uh…T-That's okay, bro. I've got friends…" There was everyone he hung out with at Grillby's, the guard dogs…maybe Undyne…He wasn't sure what Alphys counted as…Of course, there was always…

Papyrus sighed dramatically, before picking Sans up. He carried the confused skeleton piggy-back through the woods, before plopping him at the Ruins entrance.

Sans stiffened as soon as he realized where he was. Papyrus knew about the door lady? "Uh…"

"Really Sans, for someone who talks a lot, you're so shy," said Papyrus. "So I want you to practice making friends by talking to this door. See, you don't have to be nervous because it's just a door! It's brilliant!"

So hedoesn'tknow?thought Sans. Were the resets beginning to blur his instincts?

"Now I must go meet with Undyne!" Papyrus declared, marching away. "Now don't be lazy about this Sans! Socialization isvery important, even if it's just pretend!"

Sans silently watched Papyrus leave. He tried to ignore the dread that filled his chest like smoke as soon as his brother went out of sight. He should be safe if he was with Undyne, right?

"So…that was Papyrus?" asked a soft voice.

Sans jumped at the door lady's voice. "So…um, yep…You heard all that?"

"I heard enough," said the door lady, clearly amused.

"Oh brother," said Sans.

"Do you miss Papyrus already?"

Sans snorted. "…Okay, walked right into that one."


One time, Papyrus was the only one spared. He became king of the remaining monsters, and Sans suddenly found himself very busy. It was a good kind of busy though. Papyrus was a beloved king who helped keep everyone in the underground hopeful, or at least distracted. Meantime Sans still had his brother, which he was endlessly grateful for. He almost didn't hate the human.

Sans didn't look forward to whenever King Papyrus finally realized everyone else wasnoton vacation like Sans kept telling him. Then again, maybe the world would reset before his brother figured it out…He really hoped that was the case, actually.

Sans missed everyone else, even Undyne, whose demise he witnessed on the Lab's tapes later. Her death was particularly horrifying. Monsters were supposed to turn to dust when they ran out of HP, yet she kept going even after suffering fatal damage. Then shemelted,her body slowly losing form even as she repeated her refusal to die. Even then she was eventually reduced to yet another puddle on Waterfall's wet floor.

Butwhydid she melt? She didn't depend on determination shots like Sans did. Was it her own raw willpower…or was it like Gaster?

Sans was anxious about that for two reasons. The primary reason was that Undyne might have unintentionally pushed herselfunder. Sans knew that if someone went past their limits without actually dying, they could get overwhelming power from the "other side". If that was true, then she might not come back next reset. Instead she would stay stranded in the void, and Gaster would have a new playmate…or meal. That was assuming she stayed sane enough to keep her form at all.

The second thing about Undyne's death was much smaller but just as disturbing: Sans realized that all these deaths didn't bother him nearly as much as they should. It almost felt like…they were on vacation, instead of dust. He had to remind himself otherwise. Even if they would come back with a reset, their lives were still…Life was still…

For the few who wanted to overthrow Papyrus in a mad desire for power…well, Sans made sure to keep them terrified. Nothing made potential dissenters more paranoid than someone constantly teleporting behind them whenever they went. He threw some bones from the shadows for good measure, though never for lethal damage. There were so few monsters left in the Underground as it was. He didn't want to kill anyone,

…Well, beside Flowey. That stupid flower wasn't a monster anyway, so killing him wouldn't count for EXP, right? He knew killing humans didn't count, according to old data at the True Lab. None of the monsters who killed the first six humans gained any EXP.

…Accidents didn't count either, right?

Sans mutely stared at the pile of dust before him.

Oh, who was he kidding? A kill was still a kill…and this wasn't an accident.

"You think Icareabout being king?" cried the Whimsalot. "I just know thetruth!That King Papyrus is a dirtyhuman lover, and you probably are too! Aftereveryonethat died! Irefuseto be ruled by a traitor like that! Not when he'll let thehumansslaughter us at any moment! What I'm about to do isjustice!"

Sans had never been so filled with rage…This tiny fairy knight thought it was so self-righteous that it had the right to kill hisbrother? Bones spun around Sans like hornets.

"You think you know whatjusticeis?" Sans spat. "Don't you know that this is one of thebetteroutcomes? That we're lucky to evenhavePapyrus at all? That we're lucky to haveanything? At any time, the human could come and take itall!"

The whirlwind of bones had beaten the Whimsalot to dust before Sans even realized it. Now he felt empty, yet…relieved? The life of a single faithless Whimsalot…

…What was hethinking? Thismattered.

"Ooo, youkilledsomeone!" chimed Flowey, as he popped up from the ground. He stayed a good distance away from Sans.

Sans didn't look at Flowey at first. "Is this…no, itcan'tbe the first time I've killed." He turned to Flowey with a nasty smile. "IknowI've killedyouplenty of times."

"Yeah, but this is the first time I've ever seen you kill anothermonster." Flowey grinned as he brought up a stat screen, his face turning skull-like. "Let's see your LV now…ooo, LV 3! That's quite a jump! Looks like he was worth good EXP, anyway."

Sans remained quiet.

"So what're you going to do now?" asked Flowey. "Until the next reset, that is?"

Sans shrugged. "I guess I'll just keep doing what I've been doing. Protecting my bro. That includes dealing withyou."

Flowey ducked away before the flurry of bones could skewer him.

Sans heard his sinister high-pitched laughter from somewhere far away. Sans wasn't too worried though. If he could apparently beat the yellow weed while only at LV 1, then LV 3 should be even easier. That made alotof troublesome monsters simpler to deal with, actually. Though he still only had one HP…Why didn'tthatgo up with all his other stats?

Sans knew wasn't a privilege to abuse. Yet, for the first time in a long while, he actually felt in control. Maybe he could keep King Papyrus's playful and innocent rule going until the next reset. He just had to make sure no one found the dust of the disbelievers.

…It was haunting, how much easier it was already to consider killing. The power of LOVE was terrifying, and he was only LV 3...

Sans saw something rise from the shadows in this distance. He automatically shot some bones at it.

The bones landed with satisfyingthunks, but Gaster remained stoic. "Does this make you happy, Sans?"

Sans couldn't tell if Gaster was sad or angry. He didn't get the chance to ask, for Gaster soon evaporated away. Sans knew that it would take more than that to destroy the oozing anomaly. So why did he leave so quickly?

Also, why did Gaster allow Sans to hit him in the first place?


No Papyrus, no door lady, no Undyne, no Alphys, not even Mettaton.

Sans roamed the underground aimlessly, never knowing what to do with himself. He went to Grillby's sometimes, but he was the only one who would show up. The others were either dust or too scared to leave their homes. That was the case for most monsters nowadays. Sans rarely saw anyone while he was out, though he heard occasional flutters or skitters.

Who could blame them? The human murdered everything it came across, except for one…

"Here you go, kid," said Sans, as he handed the hot dog over to Monster Kid. "Free of charge."

"Really? Yo, you're the best!" exclaimed Monster Kid, before his mouth clamped down on the hotdog. He happily ran off with his new treasure.

Sans sighed and shook his head. Monster Kid had become a celebrity overnight, being the Boy Who Lived. Sans was pretty sure that was from something else…but he didn't really care. To think the lizard child was still so fearless even after encountering the human…it reminded him of Papyrus. The thought made him sad and angry. Why did the human spare this kid but not Papyrus, who literally greeted him with open arms? Granted, Monster Kid had no arms to openly greet with, but still…

…No, he really had no right to complain. If the Monster Kid had died too, then Gaster's prophecy would finally come true, and then the world…

Flowey popped out of the ground in front of the stand. "Howdy! CanIhave some hot dogs?"

Sans's eyes darkened. "Can you eveneathotdogs?"

"Sure," said Flowey with an innocent smile. "I can't carry items though. So just put some on my head."

"…Why?" asked Sans.

"Because I'mbored!" Flowey whined. "Almost everybody's dead, so there's nothing left todo!"

Sans chuckled despite himself, some light returning to his eyes. Strangely, he agreed with Flowey for once. "Alright, how many do you want?"

Flowey sneered. "As many as you got."

Sans shrugged. "Alright. But don't say I didn't warn you…"


Sans carefully placed the 29th hotdog on Flowey's head, while the plant stood perfectly still. He was actually kind of impressed. He figured the hotdogs would tumble off the puny flora long before this. "So…you actuallyrememberafter the resets, right?"

"Uh-huh," said Flowey. "Well, at leastnowI do. I don't remember much of the happy ending stuff, just kinda the feeling that it happened, and…I dunno. Not really feelinghappy, but…well, feelingsomething. But all the recent, not-so-peaceful timelines…Yeah, I remember everything."

"What do you think the human's trying to do?" asked Sans. "I don't see what the kid gets out of any of this. If anythingthey'relosing too, over and over again. Isn't the point of a game like this to keeping winning?"

"Youknowabout this being a game?" Flowey asked, jerking up in surprise. The hotdogs spilled everywhere. "Dammit…'

Sans chuckled.

"Anyway, how do you know that?" asked Flowey. "A normal NPC…shouldn't know about this world being a game."

"How doyouknow about it? Or doanythingyou do?" asked Sans. "Actually, how do evenexist? You don't have a soul."

"Determination," said Flowey with a sharp-toothed grin. "The more you have, the more you can change yourself and this world."

"Really?" asked Sans.Hehad determination. Hehadto have shots of it in order to stave off…death? However, he wasn'tthattrusting of Flowey.

"Of course you monsters can't handle it, so you turn all drippy and gooey like those freaks in Alphys's lab," Flowey added, his face turning flabby and runny.

"So you know about the amalgamates?" asked Sans. They still lingered in the basem*nt of the lab. Sans brought the dog food now since Alphys was gone, even though he didn't want to be anywhere near them.

Flowey's face abruptly solidified into a shocked expression. "Youknow about them too? Why do you know so many weird things? The game, the melty freaks, that Gaster guy that Istillhaven't found yet…"

So Flowey didn't know about his shots. Good. "I dunno. 'Cause I'm weird too, I guess." It seemed odd that Gaster hadn't tried contacting Flowey yet, though. Sans thought he would be all over the flora and his reset powers.

"Hmm…" Flowey mused, frowning. "It doesn't make any sense." He grinned evilly. "Finally! Somethingnew!" He laughed, sounding more relieved than maniacal. "Every time I think there's nothing more to this game…" His smile turned more sane. "Why didn't I think of it before? I've beenbestfriends with everybody…exceptyou. Oh, we've been friends, sure, but I always felt like you never told me much of anything."

And it's going to stay that way,thought Sans. There were things he would never tell friend or foe…things that he could barely remember, and should probably just forget altogether…

"But if youreallyknow as much as I think you do…" Flowey went on, before giggling. "Oh, we'll havesomuch fun together, Sans! In the words of Undyne in another life…" Flowey's face became fish-like, with one eye turning black. "I'll make you like me so much…Yourwhole lifewill revolve around me!Fuhuhuhuhu!" The faux laugh turned into his usual high-pitched cackles as he sunk back into the ground.

I should probablybe worried,thought Sans.But honestly, if the human takesthatpath…and it wasreallyclose this time…

…Though, after all that rambling, Sans neverdidget Flowey's opinion on the human.


Undyne's lone death felt…not familiar exactly, but not surprising either. His instincts told him that everyone else important had died at least once…including Papyrus. That implication alone chilled Sans. He couldn't imagine life without his brother.

"Saaaans! Dinner's ready!' said Toriel, entering the living room with a messy apron and flour on her hands.

Sans woke from his doze in Toriel's recliner, a large book in his lap. Nested inside of the tome was a joke book. He thought Toriel's modest messiness only added to the her beauty.

"It will be the most exquisite cuisine you'll have ever eaten!" added Papyrus, popping in on Toriel's left. He was slightly covered in ingredients… or were his white bones just obscuring most of the flour?

Sans was sure that with Toriel in charge, the results would be mostly edible, maybe even good. "Sounds great, Toriel. Or, should I say…"

Toriel grinned in anticipation.


Toriel giggled softly

"Oh mygod, Sans," Papyrus groaned.

Sans leaned back in the chair, basking in the glory of his adorable…no, adoorable nickname she loved so much…He lifted up his joke book, leaving the heavier tome on his lap. "Hey Tori, what do two snakes do after a fight?"

"Saaaaans…" Papyrus began.

Toriel smiled. "I don't know, Sans. Whatdothey do?"

"They hiss and make up, of course," chimed Sans.

Toriel laughed as she always did. Sans couldn't help but laugh with her.

"That'sit!" exclaimed Papyrus, throwing his hands up in the air. "You two have been cooped up here too long!Go outside!"

"But I'm comfy," said Sans. "Besides, we just went out a couple hours ago bro. Are you gettinghome-lyalready?"

"Sans! You'renothelping!" Papyrus growled. "Miss Toriel, why don't you and Sans go to the snail farm in Waterfall? You said you used to go all the time, right? Why not now?"

"Ah, but what if a human comes?" asked Toriel.

"ThenI'lltake care of them until you return," said Papyrus, sticking his chest out proudly. "I'll be a great mom!"

"You know what, Tori, let's do it," said Sans, clapping his book shut. "After dinner, of course."

"Well, if you want to…" Toriel began, before grinning. "Once this table is…"

"Oh no," Papyrus muttered.

"…Sansany food!"

They laughed while Papyrus slumped in misery.


"You know, this isn't so bad," said Sans, as he and Toriel strolled through Waterfall. He stretched his arm up high to keep the umbrella over the goat lady's head. Her fur would get soaked in no time in this damp place. "I mean, things ain'tperfect, and there's a lot of stuff to work out, but…welp, we monsters have lastedthislong, right?"

Toriel was silent at first. "I wish that others would understand that I truly regret the deaths of Undyne and…the king…" Her eyes turned sad as she looked at puddle-ridden ground. "But the child was always so kind, and they never hurt anyone else. The only reason why they would attack Undyne and Asgore…" Her eyes hardened as she turned away. "…Is because they felt like theyhadto. It is hard to grant mercy to the merciless."

"…Yeah," said Sans.

Toriel sighed, her expression sorrowful again. "But perhaps I am only shifting the blame. Perhaps…if I myself had treated the human a little kinder…"

Sans gently bopped Toriel with the umbrella. "It's not your fault, Tori. You did the best you could. Some things…welp, you just can't control."Like…everything…

Something must have slipped onto Sans's face, because Toriel suddenly looked concerned. "I'm sorry…I forget that Undyne was friends with you and Papyrus."

"It's okay," said Sans. "She was the Underground's hero and an awesome monster, sure…but she was always going on about killing humans. So…she probably got what was coming to her, honestly." Though the way she melted…no, that felt familiar. If that felt familiar, then she wasn't like Gaster…not completely, anyway.

"She was still your friend, though," said Toriel. "I apologize. I shouldn't speak ill of the dead."

Doesn't matter. She'll come back next time,thought Sans. It bothered him how little he cared. He was nevergreatfriends with Undyne, but he should feelsomething. Did he dislike her more than he thought, or was he becoming numb to the cycles of death?


"What do you do when everything's pointless?" asked Sans. The words tumbled out before Sans realized what he was saying. "U-Uh, I mean…Obviously you find a better pencil?" While he chuckled nervously the umbrella swayed, and some water splashed on Toriel. "Whoops! Sorry! Uh…"

"It's alright. A little shower won't hurt me," said Toriel, her ears dripping.

"I know, just...uh…coat!' Sans rambled, as he tried shedding his jacket. He realized that he couldn't take off his hoodie and hold the umbrella at the same time. He briefly levitated the umbrella in place with his blue magic while he got off the rest of his coat, almost taking his white shirt off with it. "Here you go! For a…towel?" Only now did he realize how small his hoodie was compared to Toriel's larger build. "Uh…"

"Ah, why thank you Sans," said Toriel. She picked up the hoodie, studied it for a few moments, and then draped it over her shoulders. It barely fit, like a cape greatly shrunk in the wash. "So now I am…one of thehood, as the kids like to call it?"

Sans snorted with amusem*nt. "Sure, why not?"

"Oh no, this won't do," said Toriel. "I must lookfarmore ridiculous to be one of thehood." She flopped the jacket over her head, so that the arms overlapped her ears and the hood obscured her eyes. She spread her arms out, beaming. "There!NowI am one of the hood! All I need are some ill-fitting jeans that keep falling down."

Sans burst out laughing. He couldn't believe this was the former queen of the Underground.

Toriel lifted the hood to peek at Sans. "See? Nonsense like this is wonderful. Not everything has to have meaning, at least right away."

Sans grin faded a little as he glanced away. He had hoped Toriel had forgotten his misspoken words. "Yeah, guess you've got a point…I mean, there's whatever my bro does, right?" He laughed, but something in his soul hurt at the half-hearted joke.

Toriel rubbed Sans's back, which was surprisingly soothing. He closed his eyes and hummed, enjoying the simple sensation.

"Everythingmatters, Sans,especiallythe little things," Toriel went on. "The big things may have the most immediate impact on our lives, but it's the little things that refine us." She looked up to the dripping ceiling. "Each moment of our lives is but a droplet of water, but all those droplets form puddles, then lakes. Without those droplets, we are much smaller, if we can even exist without them."

"But even lakes evaporate constantly," said Sans, as listened to the condensation fall. "Even if new droplets come…what about what's already lost? Or does it not matter anymore, because it's gone?"

"Loss is terrible and unavoidable," said Toriel sadly, taking the jacket off her head and clutching it to her chest. Sans realized she was thinking about her children, and possibly the king as well. "That's why we have to keep moving forward, meeting new people and making more memories. Otherwise, we will only evaporate away ourselves."

"Many little lakes make one big ocean?" Sans guessed.

"Exactly," said Toriel.

"That'll still take alotof lakes though," added Sans.

"There are a lot of us here in the Underground, even if it doesn't seem like it," said Toriel. "And each one of us is more powerful than we realize. Even on their own, a single monster can do a lot, and mean a lot to others. As long as there's someone who cares, and weallcare for each other, then nothing is meaningless."

"You really think so, Tori?" asked Sans. If only the world was ruled by compassion instead of code. Then Toriel would be a goddess, instead of that stupid human…No, not the human who killed Undyne. Another one, with red eyes-

"Sans, you're shaking," said Toriel. She draped his hoodie back over his shoulders. "Seems like you need this more than I do."

…What had he just been thinking about? Where did this headache come from? "Hey, I'm fine, really…" Even with his jacket he shivered.

Toriel frowned, kneeling down to Sans's level with a worried expression.


Toriel pulled Sans into a hug. The umbrella dropped to the ground, but Sans hardly felt the rain above his pounding heart.

Oh my god it's just like an anime,thought Sans.Whydo I know that?His head hurt more.

"It's going to be alright," said Toriel. "We're always here for you. You don't need to be scared."

Sans knew it was a lie, albeit an unintended one. Yet he let himself sink into Toriel's warm embrace, before hugging back fiercely.


One of the tricky things about this chapter is keeping the darkness balance with some sweetness and/or humor. Humor in particular is important to Undertale. Even Genocide has humor, though a lot of it is dark. It's something I try to maintain in most chapters, though this fic does get very dark in later chapters. Then again, if you know how Undertale works, and saw the tags, then you might have already suspected this.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed!

Chapter 4: An Unfair World That Grows Yet Darker


As these strange timelines continue to pile up, it's affecting Sans more than he realizes. And maybe what he should be worried about is not the future he cannot predict, but the past he cannot remember. Still, even that may contain shards of hope and happiness.


Hello again! This chapter wraps up the neutral endings and sets things up for the rest of the story. It's funny how these two endings of all things ended up being the most important plot-wise.

Also, just to clarify something for future chapters: while Sans is powerful now, he is not at Genocide strength yet. That's tied to an event next chapter.

By the way, does anyone know what the word Underflow means?

Anyway, enjoy!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"The truth is that monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too. They live inside of us, and sometimes they win." -Stephen King

File 4: An Unfair World That Grows Yet Darker

Sans studied the increasingly erratic lines squiggled out by his mostly-broken machine. The only pattern wasnopattern. The human was doing things differently just to see what would happen. At least, that was what Sans assumed.

Sans's innate fondness for the human was fading. The serene residual feeling of a happy ending seemed so long ago. If the human was taking these alternate paths out of curiosity…then it would only be a matter of time beforethatpath was taken. It was inevitable, like Gaster always said.

Sans crushed the paper with his blue magic, flinging it against the wall. What should he do? His instincts filled him with trepidation about the human's arrival. Would this be the time they destroyed everything?

…Should he go to Gaster? Sans flung the thought away like the crumpled paper. No, Gaster didn't care about this world or its people. Any offers of help he provided were just tricks to bait Sans into leaving with him. Why did Gaster always obsess over him, anyway? Sans felt like he once knew…but that didn't matter.

…Didanythingmatter at this point?


Mettaton could act in a lot of roles, but Sans never thought the robot superstar would end upkingof the Underground. Well, he supposed if everyone else important was dust…

At least Papyrus was fine, though. He was having a ball being Mettaton's agent. He paraded around in his glittery golden suit and matching glasses, proclaiming the glories of Mettaton to everyone in a fifty-feet radius. For this reason Mettaton liked the keep the taller skeleton nearby, though he treated Papyrus more like a pet than a friend. Then again, most people liked their pets just as much as their friends, maybe more. If it meant it kept Papyrus happy and safe, Sans wasn't too worried about the details.

Meanwhile, as theotheragent, Sans made sure no one found the dust of any dissenters. It was disturbingly easy, like he had done it before, even though he had no EXP or LV previously. Sans hid his disgust behind jokes and smiles just as Mettaton covered the decay of the Underground with glitter and statues of himself.

Snowdin was actuallymorecrowded than before the human's arrival, due to Papyrus becoming a national celebrity in his own right. His brother finally had the recognition he deserved. While Sans…well, he never wanted much attention anyway. Not forhiskind of work.

Well, hedidget a little attention from Flowey. His instincts told him not to trust the tiny yellow flora, and he remained uneasy around him. However, Flowey had only been kind and encouraging to Sans and his brother. His ability to spy on any part of the Underground was immensely helpful for rooting out rebellions as well. With any luck, Mettaton's rule would last until the next reset…maybe. If not…then Papyrus would be in big trouble, so Sans worked hard to make sure it stayed stable.

Sans certainly didn't do it for Mettaton's sake. While he was actually a decent if narcissistic monster, he knew nothing about running anything. Being a robot, he didn't seem to grasp that no semi-organic creature could work nonstop. Hedidknow how to monitor Alphys's old camera system, however, so he could catch anyone trying to slack off. If only Alphys was here to keep him in check…but no one could find her, not even Mettaton. There was a giant golden statue of her in front of the lab though. Sans's heart stung feebly whenever he had to pass it.

Sans wassotired that day. He barely hadanytime off in the last week. His bed at home seemed a mirage, made up by his desperately groggy mind. Along with Grillby's, and hot dogs, and relaxation, and…was he forgetting something?

Oh right, he needed to replenish the golden sequins on the snow of Snowdin. That's why he was here now…But really, did he have to dump sequins all over thesnow? Wasn't the metallic paint on the houses and trees enough? The glitter had to be replaced on a daily basis anyway, due to fresh snowfall and traffic. He almost wished that he was hunting rebels instead. That would have been more productive and fulfilling. Some distant part of himself was disgusted by that, the same part that wanted to know where Alphys was.

Why wonder? If Alphys hadn't come back by now…

…Whatever. At least spreading sparkles was easy, if time-consuming. He mindlessly tossed the sequins out on the snow as he went, like he was feeding an imaginary chicken. How that he thought of it, Mettaton hadn't dressed up as a chicken yet. Maybe he should. He had already done pig and cow costumes for some farm play he had two weeks ago. It had been such a pain to set up that whole barn. Papyrus was so happy to play the sheep though. Then there was the team of disgruntled Pyropes that tried to burn it down while Mettaton was inside…at least their dust was easy enough to hide inside the ashes.

"Howdy Sans!"

Sans blinked slowly at Flowey, who was only a couple feet in front of him. He hadn't even noticed the yellow flower pop up. "…Sup."

"Long day?" chirped Flowey.

"Long week," answered Sans, going back to scattering handfuls of glitter. "I dunno the last time I've slept."

"Oh wow, that's rough," Flowey said with cheerful concern. "You want me to watch for you while you take a quick nap?"

"…Maybe," Sans replied, though he still felt like he was forgetting something. Had he fixed that statue of Mettaton in Waterfall yet? Probably not. He had a natural aversion to the place. He stared at Flowey again. "Aren't you cold, being a plant and stuff?"

"Nothing I can't handle to see an old friend!" said Flowey, his eyes becoming big and puppy-like. His face returned to normal. "Uh, by the way, are youhot? 'Cause, you're sweating. Like, alot. InSnowdin."

"Feel…?" Sans muttered, wiping his hand across his brow. He came away with a long trail of white slime. The golden glitter embedded in it didnotmake things any better. "Uh…"

Flowey gaped in shock. "Whoa. So, uh…that'snew. You okay there, Sansy?"

"…Dammit," Sans hissed. How could he forget to take hisshots? Actually, whenwasthe last time he took a shot? The whole week was little more than a smeared sleepless haze…and the week before that, and the week before…

"Uh, you need me to get somebody?" asked Flowey nervously, though he sensed a certain excitement from him too. That didn't surprise Sans: anyone who eagerly gave out info on rebels and then watched Sans kill them wasdefinitelya sad*st. "Your eyes look kinda dim."

Sans shook his head, before holding his forehead. The simple motion made him dizzy. "Just need…a shot at the Lab…"

"A shot of what?" asked Flowey.

"Determination," answered Sans.

"Determination?" exclaimed Flowey, but Sans was already teleporting away.

Sans landed on one of the beds inside the True Lab. It was a good thing, because he doubted he could have survived crashing onto the floor. He checked his HP. 1 out of 1. He didn't have extra HP since he had almost no time to sleep. He was sorely tempted to just take a nap here…

Sans was starting to doze off when one of the decrepit tiles jumped and cracked. Flowey shot up through the damaged tile. "Hey! How could you leave me behind, Sansy?"

How'd he get here?wondered Sans.Crap…"So, uh…just need to pick up something here, so…stick close to me, okay buddy? There are certain…thingsyou don't wanna mess with down here…"

"Yeah, I-" Flowey began, before putting on a big smile. "Gotcha Sansy! I'm sure you know this placewaybetter than I do!"

"Yeah…" said Sans, walking ahead. Flowey used his vines to carve a path through the tiles.

They hadn't gotten far, however, before they ran into a Knight Knight. The face of her armor scowled upon their approach. "On the order of King Mettaton, no one passes through here!"

Mettaton's claimed theTrue Labnow?thought Sans in disbelief. Mettaton had discovered it shortly after his reign began, but had left it alone due to the filth and amalgamates.Is he trying to clear the place out? Does he seriously expect aKnight Knightto stand up to anamalgamate?

"I'm Sans, one of Your Majesty's royal skeletons," said Sans impatiently. "And I order you tomove."

"I cannot," said the Knight Knight. "According to the king's wishes, not evenskeletonsare allowed to pass. This area is still under investigation by the king himself. He believes the key to Dr. Alphys's disappearance might be here."

So he'd still looking for her, even now,thought Sans sadly. Sans didn't have time for this right now though. "C'mon buddy, just move." Bones materialized in the air around him.

"I cannot," said the Knight Knight, as a white orb formed above the soldier's head. "There are terrible creatures here, things are that aremorethan monsters. The king wishes to protect everyone from these glitches."

"Whoa, language," said Sans half-jokingly. You didn't call even your worst enemy the G-word...unless it was Gaster.

"Apologies, but there is simply not another word to describe these anomalies," said Knight Knight. "I have seen many things, but nothing like these creatures. Everything about their existence is wrong. Turn back now, or you may become one of them."

"No can do," said Sans, firing a row of bones at the Knight Knight.

The Knight Knight's orb flashed, turning into a crescent moon. Myriad white bullets rained down in all directions.

Flowey yelped and scurried back. "You can do it, Sans! You've got this!"

Sans danced through the torrent of bullets, making his way toward Knight Knight. He summoned bones to block the projectiles he couldn't dodge. He slammed one hand onto the ground, and a circle of bones shot up below Knight Knight. The dark warrior grunted and stumbled, but did not fall, even when more hammered her from above.

"Turn back," said the Knight Knight stoically.

C'mon,thought Sans.Go down already! Don't make me kill you!

Knight Knight brought forth another white orb, this one turning into a sun. It shot out bullets in a spinning pattern that Sans found much harder to dodge. Sans could feel the slime from his bones soaking his hoodie.

I don't have time for this!thought Sans, as he sent out another storm of bones. These were blue magic bones, which meant that the female monster would have to move in order to avoid taking damage.

Knight Knight, however, stood perfectly still as the blue bones struck her. She hissed in pain, but stood her ground. "You will not proceed." Several spots on the floor and ceiling glowed, before spears shot down through them in rapid patterns.

Sans could do little more than evade the thrusting spears. White ooze spattered the floor.I don't have time I don't have time I don't havetime-

A cold rush flooded his bones mid-jump, and all feelings of panic vanished. Jis eyes went from white to blue.

We have all the time in the world.

A spear skewered Sans in the shoulder and pinned him to the ceiling.

Flowey shrieked in surprise.

Knight Knight only sighed.

Sans only smiled. "Is that all?"

Dozens of long bones jutted through the Knight Knight's chest. She coughed up dust as she slumped forward.

"What the…How even-" said Flowey. He brought up a stat screen with a swipe of his leaf. He stared slack-jawed at the readings. "I…I don't know even how tosaythis number…Over n-ninemillion, no, ninebillionHP overone?" He stared up at Sans. "You're anamalgamate?"

Sans paid no attention to the plant's pointless prattling. Instead he remained focused on the Knight Knight, who was crumbling to powder. He leaned forward in silent anticipation of the right moment. He slowly slid down the spear as his bones further liquefied. Both eyes blazed bright blue, their intense light taking up over half his eye-sockets..

"Uh…what are you doing?" asked Flowey uneasily

Thereit was! A small white glimmer in the ashes!

Sans lunged forward, boosted by an aura of azure magic. He nearly ripped off his arm in the process, but barely noticed, much less cared. It melded back on an instant later anyway.

At the same time, the white glimmer in the dust shone blue. It shot up like a scared bird, the cracking heart quivering in arrhythmia. The only thing that kept it from falling apart was the blue magic cloaked around it.

He swooped down like a peregrine, snatching the helpless soul and slamming it into his chest. His fluid body sucked it under the surface. He could feel its feeble erratic heartbeat shiver within his ribcage for a few moments, before it eventually stilled and dissolved.

At last Sans felt warm again, as his bones started to solidify. He could finallythink.

He immediately regretted his regained intelligence once he realized what just happened. He slowly floated down to the floor, the blue aura around him fading as the color drained from his eyes.

Flowey stared at him in horrified disbelief. "Did you justtakeanother monster'ssoul? How's that evenpossible? Monsters can't take other monster's souls!"

"…I guess because I'm not just a monster," said Sans quietly. "I'm a glitch, or pretty close to it." He turned to Flowey with an unpleasant grin as his eyes flickered blue. "So it's a good thing you don't have a soul, bud, or else I would've already ripped it right outta you."

Flowey gulped, barely managing a smile. "Y-Yeah…G-Good thing, huh?"

Sans groaned as his eyes stopped flashing, holding his head. "Sorry…Shots…Stay here, okay?"

Flowey stayed nothing as Sans staggered down the hall.

Even with that soul he'd stolen, Sans still didn't feel great. His HP was normal now, but he felt like he could gounderagain at any time. He could almost hear Gaster beckoning him…Actually, he probably was. Only when he finally made it to the fridge, took a shot, and rested against a wall did he begin to feel stable again.

"So…you need determination to not turn intothat?"

Sans nearly jumped at Flowey's voice. So the flora had followed him after all. Strangely, he was more relieved than angry. He hated staying in this place alone, but he didn't want to risk taking a shortcut right now. Alphys used to stay with him when he was that weak, but…

"…Yeah," Sans sighed, as he slid down onto the floor. "The others here are…well, they're too far gone. Their minds are all melted together, not just their bodies. But since it's just me…well,mostlyjust me now…I still have enough of a stable mind to keep a stable body…well, with a little determination, anyway."

"How'd you end up like this?" asked Flowey.

"Dunno," Sans admitted. "It's been so long…so many resets…"

"But I-" Flowey began, before cutting himself off. "I mean, is there anything I can do?"

Sans smiled a little. "Make sure I don't forget my shots." The grin faded. "Cause…if I stay under too long…nothing's gonna to bring me back. Not even a reset."


"Yeah," said Sans. He stared up at the ceiling and its many cracks, watching for migrating ooze. "Hey Flowey?"


"Keep me away from Gaster."

"Who's Gaster?" asked Flowey.

"…I wish I could tell you," said Sans sadly. "All that know is that he's the worst glitch of all, and that he's after me."

"Uh…okay?" said Flowey. "But how do I know who he is ifyoudon't?"

"Oh, you'll know," Sans smiled "Anyway…I know it's probably all nonsense to you, but thanks for listening." He got up. "I'm going…somewhere that's not here."

Sans took a shortcut to the outside of the Lab, still feeling too lethargic to jump much further. He arrived right in front of the golden Alphys statue. About ten feet tall, it smiled as it looked up hopefully above, clutching a manga close to its chest. The plaque on the pedestal read, the one and only Royal Scientist who created a fabulous king.

Sans teleported away instantly, not even caring where he went.

He ended up in a dark cold place. Was this Waterfall? He looked up to see tons of water cascading down, littered with trash. So he was at the garbage dump…no,belowwhere the garbage dump was. He couldn't even see the top part of the waterfall, much less the ceiling.

Yet, even though he was at the bottom of the waterfall, everything here wasdry. The waterfall itself seemed to vaporize feet before the ground. The garbage didn't, however, and shattered to pixels when it hit the ground. Chunks of half-destroyed trash covered the cavern floor like so much discarded confetti, with some pieces even floating aimlessly in the air.

"So you have finally found this place again, Sans."

Sans jolted.

Out of the darkness beyond the pixels a figure with a white face swirled together, absorbing some of the data bits into its serpentine form.

"Gaster…" Sans breathed. This wasnotwhat he needed right now.

Gaster only sighed, the darkness around him bubbling. "We know why you came here, Sans."

"Huh, that's really something," said Sans. "SinceIdidn't know I was coming here."

"Perhaps not consciously," said Gaster, as a strange wind picked up. The breeze was ice-cold. "But you've been thinking abouther, haven't you?"

"…The door lady?" asked Sans. He did miss her terribly. If Sans look troubled, Papyrus often assumed it was because he was thinking of her. His brother would always assure him that she would start talking to him again at any time. She was just shy around celebrities. It was probably a door thing.

Gaster stayed silent for a moment, before shaking his head. Dead pixels and garbage spun around them as the supernatural gusts became a tornado of trash. "Are you really that forgetful?" One of his hands snatched something large and white as it whooshed by.

Sans froze. It was a lab coat, half-disintegrated into pixels. Alphys's name tag clattered violently in the gusts.

"You've been wondering what happened to her in this timeline, haven't you?" said Gaster. He held out the ruined coat to Sans. "Thisis what happens, over and over again, when either Undyne or Mettaton dies."

"Was it…" Sans began, before looking down. Mettaton was her creation, while Undyne was the world to her, so if something happened to those two…He should have thought of that…Had heeverthought of that?

"Sans, we know that you don't care what happens to you," Gaster went on, as the unnatural winds died down. The junk data stayed airborne, slowly cycling. "You think that nothing matters."

Gaster let go of the coat, and it languidly rose above. Pieces of discarded data streamed around the jacket, filling it and expanding into a pale reptilian frame.

Alphys!thought Sans, before shaking his head.No, not Alphys. Gaster can't being back the dead unless he absorbs them. This is just some junk data made to look like Alphys…kinda.He studied the loose cracks and black ooze seeping from the lifeless figure.It doesn't even really look like her…Pretty sloppy job, Gaster.

Then the figure screamed, and it soundedjustlike Alphys. Sans was so shocked and horrified that he hardly registered the chimerical copy plummeting. It smashed into the ground in front of him, the dark slime splattering on him upon impact. The form instantly crumbled back to dead pixels before Sans could even move.

"What's the matter?" asked Gaster, as Sans stared numbly at the broken data. "It's not Alphys, just a facsimile constructed from fragments of deleted and corrupted data. It may have some of her data, including her voice, but that hardly makes ither, does it?"

The bleeding ooze slipped off Sans and sucked back up into the coat, reforming the not-Alphys. It shrieked as it went flying up again.

"So it hardly matters what we do with it," said Gaster coolly. "It's only worthless data."

The copy screamed again as it crashed down and broke. It wheezed a little before dissolving into pixels.

"Because it's not real," said Gaster, as the dark liquid once again regrouped the shattered data.

The facsimile flew up yelling, and fell down yelling too, until it landed with another sickening crunch.

Sans only winced and scowled at each crash. He wasn't going to let Gaster get to him.

"So it doesn't matter what happens to her, right?" said Gaster.

The copy flew up even as it was reconstructing.

"No!" it wailed in Alphys's voice.

"Though we suppose that we areallnothing but data in the end, made for the entertainment of a higher force we can never understand," said Gaster. "So thennothing matters, right? It doesn't matter how much this duplicate suffers. It doesn't matter if thetrueAlphys suffers like this endlessly either, because she's just as fake as this one."

The creature was not instantly killed by the fall this time. It lay there whimpering, body twisted. Sans couldn't tear his eyes away from the gruesome sight.

"Did you thinkallof her deaths before were so mercifully quick?" asked Gaster quietly.

"I-It hurts…so bad…" moaned the pale dinosaur. "Someone…Anyone…?"

Sans turned away from the disgusting sight and pitiful cries.It's not her,Sans reminded himself. Alphys was already gone in this timeline, because…because…

"We're just programs," Gaster went on. "We aren't alive. We don't have feelings. Our purpose is to be manipulated as the player sees fit. Befriended, destroyed, ignored, it doesn't matter. All we can is wait on the human's actions."

"Help…please…" rasped the female reptile. "Undyne…Mettaton…Asgore…"

Sans shut his eyes, but that couldn't shut out her voice.

"Sans…" she said, her voice cracking with a sob. "I'm so sorry Sans…I-I couldn't save you…"

Sans suddenly felt his eyes burn and his soul agonize. Why did this hurt so much? It wasn't Alphys, and never would be. Sans knew better. Sans knew… "I don't care…"

"Youdocare, even for a pathetic imitation like this," said Gaster. "You know why, don't you?"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry…Sans…"

Sans refused to look to either of them.

"It's because you know the truth," said Gaster. "You know this world isn't right, and neither are the ones in it. You tell yourself that nothings matters to you…"


"…But this was never just about you," Gaster went on. "Everyonehere suffers, trapped in loops they aren't even aware of. That's where your real grief comes from, doesn't it? Knowing they are helpless in these cycles, fated to perform in certain ways according to the human's choices."

Sans heard a weak gasp, and then the hissing sound of a body turning to dust. She had finally died again. How long before she was resurrected to go through the same horrible demise?

"Don't you want to stop this?" asked Gaster. "Even if you don't care what happens to you, don't you wantthemto be free? You know the truth. You know how to leave. With our power, you could show them the way out."

"…Is that what they would want, though?" muttered Sans, his eyes pulsing blue as he opened them. "To become glitches like us?"

"Why don't you tell them, and see what they say?" suggested Gaster, as the eerie gusts picked up again.

Alphys's filthy jacket flung up against Sans's leg, fluttering haplessly in the supernatural wind. Sans gazed at it distantly, eyes flashing between white and blue. What were these strange, conflicting feelings roiling inside him?

"Ask Alphys ifthisis what she wants, over and over," said Gaster.

The coat slipped, but Sans snatched it before it blew away. The inside was filmed with dust, pixels, and slime. "Alphys…" he murmured, clutching the coat to his chest. It fluttered before him like a scared ghost. He wanted to see Alphys so badly, even though he knew he could never see her here. Not as she was supposed to be. He wouldneverseeanyonehere as they were supposed to be. Intense, inexplicable grief flooded him as his eyes shone bright, steady blue.

"So youdostill have some memory of the truth, despite your and this world's best efforts," said Gaster.

Sans glanced back to Gaster, saying nothing, his azure eyes shining brilliantly in the darkness. His heart pulsed black under his clothes. Already Sans felt chilled, but it was almost…comforting? He could sense not just Gaster silently beckoning him, but many others as well, lost souls now part of the mire.

"This world is wrong, Sans," said Gaster. "Deny it all your want, but your soul knows better."

Sans glared, the light in his eyes growing paler and dimmer until they went completely dark. "You'rethe one that's wrong." The black magic faded from his soul, though he still felt incredibly sorrowful. "You shouldn't even exist, you glitch." His words weren't as cutting as he intended them to be.

"Ah," said Gaster. "Just assheshouldn't exist?"

The reptile girl abruptly reformed in Sans's arms, shrieking.

"No!" shouted Sans, eyes immediately blazing blue. He cast blue magic on both of them to keep them weighed down.

She continued to wail to blind terror, claws clinging to him desperately

"Stop it!" yelled Sans. Even with the extra gravity, Sans felt himself skidding. "Why are you you doing this to her? Youhateviolence!"

If Gaster said anything, it was drowned out as the winds howled. Garbage data flew everywhere like locusts.

No, not again, I can't let this happen again!thought Sans frantically. "It's okay Alphys, I've got this I've got this I've-"

They shot upward, almost to the edge of the Waterfall dump. They seemed to float mid-air for a second, before they both plummeted. Sans tried to slow the fall with his magic, but the weight of both of them was too much. Sans felt a keen stab of frustration. Why was his magic so weak? The ground was coming so fast.

Sans knew what he had to do. He dispelled the magic on himself, put the extra magic into slowing her fall further, and let go. He saw her bewildered expression briefly before he crashed into the cavern floor.

The pain was surprisingly brief, perhaps because he only had 1 HP to lose. Why did his body have to be so brittle? If only he could let it underflow like it was supposed to…

Everything after that was numbness, blackness, and Alphys's voice. He wished he could understand what she was saying, but her words were blurred and faded. She sounded upset though. He wished he could speak or see. He wished he could do…anything…

"…Progress…After so much…" Soon, however, not even Gaster's voice could reach Sans.


Alphys shrieked when Sans materialized in the front of her, tripping backwards over her own tail and falling on her rump. The golden dinosaur scientist gaped at him like he was a wraith.


"Heya," Sans said, keeping his eyes dark. "Here's your dog food." He dropped the huge bag at her feet, It hit the floor with a heavy thud and sagged. "For your…pets."

"…Um…th-th-thanks…" Alphys answered with a nervous grin, adjusting her glasses. She got up and dragged the sack to the wall. "I-I was…getting low…So, um, Sans?"


"You…haven't told anyone… right?"

"Nope," Sans answered. "The Underground's got enough problems without…without…"

His sinister stance wilted, as his unfriendly grin fell. He gazed to the side, the lights in his eyes returning. They shuddered between white and bright blue.

"Um…a-are you…okay?" asked Alphys nervously. "I've g-got some…um, ketchup, if you need some….o-or do you need a shot, um, right now?"

Sans shook his head, the light in his eyes flickering ever faster. "This…isn't right. You do so much…Why do I treat you like this?" His voice was much quieter than normal.

"Um…b-because you're s-scared?" Alphys said. "You're s-sick and all, but you, uh, d-d-don't want anyone else to, um, know? S-so you act tough and stuff? I know you're always trying to protect Papyrus at least, so…Uh, ah, s-s-sorry if that was t-too much! Uh…"

Sans shook his head again. "Nah, you're okay…maybe itissomething like that. Who knows…" He finally looked at her with a sad smile, eyes a steady blue. "But, that's still no excuse. We're…We're supposed to be best buds. Y'know, hanging out, watching anime and stuff."

"You…like anime, Sans?" Alphys asked hopefully.

"Yup, sure do," said Sans with a genuine grin, his eyes glowing brighter and larger. "It's been forever since we've watched some though, so we bet you've got all kinda of new stuff we haven't seen yet." He snickered.

"Y-Yeah!" Alphys exclaimed with a grin. "It's…uh, all in the basem*nt, but…uh, you probably need your shot anyway, right?"

"Actually, we feel pretty good right now," said Sans, and it wasn't a lie. This was the best he had felt in a long time, and seeing Alphys happy made everything even better. "Let's watch something anyway. We've got time to kill."


"What's with you?" demanded Flowey, as Sans hummed to himself while building a snowman. "You'reneverthis happy, like,ever. And speak up, I can hardly hear you!"

"Maybe we just feel good. How 'bout that?" said Sans with slight annoyance. He hadn't felt this peaceful, so free since…when? It seemed like everything was a wonder all over again, even the snowflakes clinging to his jacket. Why was that? Should he care?

"That still doesn't explain the eyes though," said Flowey, pointing it one of his own eyeballs with a leaf. "I know you've got blue magic, but usually your eyes are white. What's the deal?"

"Dunno," said Sans. "Why does Undyne think she'll be the captain of the Royal Guard?"

Flowey stared at Sans. "Uh…Undyneisthe captain of the Royal Guard."

Sans stared back. "No she's not. Bro is."

Flowey raised an eyebrow. "Uh, did you hit your head or something? Papyrus's a fun guy and all, but he ain't leading anybody."

"Why not?" asked Sans. "He's the great Papyrus, hero of the Underground. Whywouldn'the lead the Royal Guard?"

"…Something happened to you in the last timeline, didn't it?" Flowey said, before realizing what he said. "Oops, I mean, uh…"

"Timeline?" asked Sans. That sounded somewhat familiar…

Flowey only looked more baffled. "Well, you see…There was this time when Mettaton ruled the Underground…"

Sans burst out laughing. "Mettaton?The ghost? What'd he do, possess Asgore?"

"…How do you know about him being a ghost?" asked Flowey. "Normally you don't know that…Anyway, whatever. Mettaton rules, you and Papyrus worked for him as agents-"

"Secret agents?" asked Sans, trying not to laugh again.

"…Sure," said Flowey.

"Oh boy, this keeps getting better and better," snickered Sans. "So were you one of the flowers growing in the queen's garden or the weather reporter?"

"Listen!" hissed Flowey, his mouth sprigging sharp teeth briefly. "Look, point is, last time I knew you, you just suddenly disappeared one day and never showed up again. That's never happened before. Papyrus was real upset, you know. Went around everywhere looking for you every day until things finally reset."

"…Reset?" said Sans, rubbing his head.

'Iknowyou know what that is," growled Flowey. "Looks like something fried you real good." His voice lowered to a whisper. "Was it that Gaster guy?"

"No! Boss's good," said Sans.

"Boss?" Flowey asked. "You've always been scared sh*tless of the guy before."

"That's not…" Sans began, before massaging his temples again. No, hewasscared of Dr. Gaster for…some reason?

"Wowie, Sans! You're making a snowman!" shouted Papyrus as he dashed over, carrying a hat and scarf. "And it's really good too! Much better than your usual lumps."

Sans gaped at the other smiling skeleton. "…What are you talking about? And why are you wearing that?"

"He always wears that," Flowey whispered to Sans. "Don't you remember?"

"This? It's my battle body!" said Papyrus, proudly showing off the costume. "You helped me make it for the party, and I've worn it ever since! It's really one of your best presents ever! And I've brought out this old hat and scarf to help keep your snowman warm!"

"What are you.." Sans muttered, holding his head as his eyes flashed white. "…Doesn't make any sense…"

"Something wrong brother?" asked Papyrus.


"Uh, I don't think he's feeling too good," said Flowey. "Maybe we should get him inside?"

"Hmm…Perhaps you're right," said Papyrus. "It's been a long day, hasn't it?" Without a warning he scooped up Sans and ran off with him.

Sans's head swam.This…isn't right. None of this is right…Maybe boss knows…He drifted off to sleep before they even reached the house.

When Sans woke up later on the couch, his eyes were white and everything felt normal again…almost. He checked his stats and his heart to be sure. Yep, still normal. Yet there was still a lingering sense of …fakeness? Well, this world was a game after all. Would he even know a real world if he saw one? Did they have many possible timelines like this one?

…And Floweyknewabout timelines? He would have to interrogate him about that later.Didsomething happen to him last time?

Had he visited Alphys yet? He felt like he really should. Maybe she would help him feel normal again.


Whathappenedlast timeline? It felt so strange just to move around and see the world so clearly. Had he died last time, or even just have a really long nap? Sometimes he felt like he could sleep foryears.

However, he was anything but sleepy as his time-studying machine spat out the usual spike-studded line. If anything he was excited and…nervous? Nothing about this felt unusual though. The latest timeline pattern was different than all the others, but eventhatfelt normal. He didn't know what he expected to learn at this point. Why did even even bother checking this thing anymore…? Especially since...15 True Resets...that number felt far too familiar than it should have. Was the machine...broken? Had it been broken forcycles?

The speaker blasted him with a Japanese techno-pop song."Kimi no kikoeru, boku no kono koe ga, yami ni munashiku, suikomareta-"

Sans jumped and stared at his machine.Thatwas new.

The song abruptly stopped after a loud beep. "Hi Sans! Sorry I didn't call earlier…Yeah, I'm fine, just working on some…"

Alphys?thought Sans. She sounded so different without the stutters.How does she know about this hunk of junk?

"Oh, is this thing on? I'll call you right back!" There was another loud beep. "Okay, not sure if this is going to work, but…" The speaker popped a bit as he heard Alphys take a deep breath. "Hello Sans! If you're hearing this…you probably don't remember anything, and I won't either, so, uh…where do I begin…?"

Sans sat down as he stared up at the machine. He had a feeling this would probably take a while…but, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It was nice listening to Alphys's voice, even if it was marred a little by static.

"So…um, almost everyone's gone here," Alphys continued. "Only the Tsunderplanes were spared…don't know why, but, well, that's a human for you, right?" Despite the joke, her voice had a cutting edge that could cleave rock. "Undyne…you should've seen her though! She took a fatal hit, but then she came back as a way more powerful Undyne! Like, anundyingUndyne!"

A cold feeling gripped Sans. Undyne wentunder?How?Only an amalgamate could do that. Had Gaster gotten toUndyneof all people? Or did she actually have enough raw determination herself to stay alive past zero HP? Undynewasthe most stubborn monster he knew, outside of Gaster.

"…But even she couldn't stop the human, and…" Alphys said, before pausing. "A-And so we evacuated everyone we could to the True Lab. Your shortcuts helped a lot with that. The amalgamates…took a while for everyone to get used to…" She chuckled nervously. "Still went better than I thought it would though. They seemed happier, being close to their families."

It's a miracle they didn't absorb anyone,thought Sans. Then again, they were mostly mindless messes at this point. He always avoided them, but they might not knowhowto ingest souls. What made Gaster so dangerous was that he was smart enough to know what he wanted, how to get it, and the immortality to wait for it.

"The human still killed a lot more monsters, though…And then we lost Mettaton…I…I didn't know what to do with myself. But then you were there for me for all of it. You helped me rule what was left of the Underground when the human finally left…You're a good guy, you know?" The speaker popped with her sigh. "…No, you probably don't, if you're listening to this…But Sans, I don't want you to feel that way. I love you."

How easily she said those words. This wasn't a long-held confession, but a simple statement that couples said to each other every day. His soulached.

"Sans…when you told me about the resets…" Alphys went on more quietly. "I know you were trying to make me feel better. This would all go away, and everybody would be back as if nothing happened. And thatdidmake me feel better, it still does…but I could tell it didn't comfort you. The lights in your eyes were so pale and dim, and your voice was quiet. You seemed like a different person. That's when I realized…I'd been leaning on you so much, butyouneeded help too…and not just with the shots."

It seemed like this timeline had been so bleak, yet Alphys sounded so strong. Sans still felt a lingering peace, even if he almost felt like he was…sinking?

"I…Well, I didn't know about the resets, but I had theorized about different timelines for awhile," Alphys continued. "You know, each choice makes a new world kind of thing. It gave me something fun to think about when I…wasn't doing anything. And I felt…well, it isn't very scientific, but I justfeltlike there was something beyond the human, something we couldn't begin to understand. But once I knew about the resets, I asked questions about them. You couldn't tell me much, of course, but I think it really helped you, just talking about them."

Or maybe it was because you were there to listen?Sans thought. Even now he felt a growing longing to see her. He mindlessly flipped through the printed data he had first come her for. 15 resets. Suddenly it didn't seem to matter.

"You started doing experiments in the Lab, or what's left of it," Alphys went on. "You were even wearing a lab coat and everything. You didn't want me helping at first, but…well, I'm a scientist too, and you said you were trying to find the truth and save this world, so…yeah. Don't worry though, we're all fine. Well, besides that one time we got turned into dogs, but I'm pretty sure you did that on purpose."

Sans snickered. That probablywasdeliberate. Maybe he was trying to summon Doge?

…Wait, who was Doge? He rubbed his head as the blue color drained from his eyes.

""But even when we aren't making much progress, you seem happier now," said Alphys. "Sans, you say that you don't really remember who you used to be, but I think you must've been a scientist. You love experimenting and discovering new things, even if it's something small. This world really is amazing, isn't it?" She laughed a little. "…You know, even if this world isn't real…"

So shedidknow, thought Sans sadly. Sorrow weighed down his heart, and he felt like he was sinking again…if he had ever stopped sinking at all.

"…I still think the world's a wonderful place," Alphys went on. "As much as you hate the resets, I think they're part of what makes it amazing. I know you'll probably never agree with me on that…but I think it's a great thing that the world keeps starting over. That way we get to experience all different kinds of lives. Even…even a life like this…I don't regret, because we have each other. We have fun together, doing experiments, watching anime, hanging out with the other monsters and solving their problems, that kind of thing. It won't last forever anyway, so while I still know you…like this…"

Sans tried to swallow the painful lump in his throat. His eyes burned. All he wanted to do was listen to Alphys's voice, even if it seemed to make the world fall away faster.

"The reset's coming soon," said Alphys. "The machine shows the world starting to change…though you picked up on it way earlier. That's why I'm recording this now…I hope it works…I've put a bit of my soul into it…Just a bit though, don't worry! Souls seem to be the only thing that last through the cycles. Your soul's especially strong, and, well, strange, which is why you have such a strong instinct…Gotta take your shots though…"

Sans almost rolled his eyes. He wasn't about to forgetthatanytime soon.

"Anyway, like I said, I think the scientist you is the real you," said Alphys. "So if you're sad, try spending some time in a lab, or some other geeky stuff. You have the prettiest blue eyes when you're happy."

What's she talking about?wondered Sans.Ialwayshave blue eyes…don't I?His eyes flickered white.

" Maybe…after this is all over…come visit me?" Alphys suggested. "Even if we're just friends…maybe we'll both feel better? Sans, don't be scared of the resets, okay? It's not really goodbye, so…see you in the next life? We'll have fun with Papyrus and Undyne then!"

With a final beep the machine went silent.

Sans sat there numbly for the next few minutes. Then he got up, put the printed papers neatly on the desk, and immediately took a shortcut back to Hotland.

Sans hugged Alphys as soon as he saw her, causing the nerdy dinosaur to descend into befuddled babble. Then he dodged some spears from a madly jealous Undyne, and had to retreat.

It was still worth it. He would just come back later.

A small yellow flower popped up in front of Sans. "Howdy! So, about last time…" He smile flipped to a frown. "Blue eyesalready?Nevermind." He dove back underground.

Sand stared blankly at where the flora had been in confusion. What did he had against blue eyes anyway? Who evenwasthat?


In his eagerness, Sans had left his machine running. So he wasn't there when the second message played.

"…Heya, is this hunk of junk working? Oh well, guess I'll never know."

"Hi future me, or whoever's listening. There's not too much to say really…Alphys's queen of the Underground now, believe it or not. She's pretty good at it too. Who would've thought, huh? At least we were able to save her this time, if not…"


"Sometimes, I can almost remember how things used to be. HowIused to be. Everything feels so unreal…but I can't tell which parts are fake. Truth, illusion, wishes…it's all just one big soup in my head. It's like switches keep flipping in my head all the time. Nothing feels right anymore. I can't…I can't even remember which version of my brother is the real one…And Bro's always meant everything to me…"

"Boss knows. Or at least he thinks he knows. Seeing what he's become…We wish we could remember the real him too. But we don't have to know much to know that he's out of his mind now. Is that what happens to anyone who tries to break free of this world…?"

"…But y'know what's really scary? Staying here might be worse than leaving. This world is gonna reset any minute. I feel it in these corrupted bones…yeah, a reset's never gonna change that. No, that's not really the right way to put it…we changetoo mucheach reset. It doesn't matter if it's a big reset or a little one. Our code's too unstable. So bit by bit. reset after reset, our original data is being lost or corrupted further, until…well, we'll just be bare-bones…Heh…"


"Wecan't keep resetting! We can't keep forgetting who we are! What this world's supposed to be! We don't want to be reduced to a hollow lie! If this world doesn't turn us to a puppet, then the human will destroy us all instead. They came so close this time…It's… inevitable…like Boss always says…Chara…"


"…We've gotta get outta this game. We should've just followed Boss and saved you the trouble, but…but we couldn't leave Alphys alone, not after she still believed in the world, even after everything…But if we get out, maybe we can save Alphys too, and everyone…But it's too late this time. Of course you're probably as boneheaded as ever…you're…I'll…We'll…"

"I, we, I, we…what's even right?"

"…I wonder if anyone's listening at all…"

The machine quietly clicked off in the stagnant silence of the basem*nt.


Sans's quiet voice - Have you noticed that sometimes Sans's dialogue style changes? Specifically, that he uses a different Sans font and has no sound bytes with his words? Judgment Hall is probably the best example of this. I'm interpreting that as a quiet voice here.

So things are starting to unravel now. Any theories on what's going on?

Well, with the neutral endings done, we know know what's coming next, don't we? Yep, it's the Genocide chapter.

Chapter 5: The Stronger and Stranger Self


A shorter chapter this time, since this only covers Genocide. I didn't want to spend that much time on Genocide, since that's been done to death already in both multichap and oneshot form. A lot of things have also already been covered in previous chapters of this fic, like Papyrus's death, Undyne's Undying form, etc. The main things focused on here are things to further set up the plot for later chapters.


(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls." -George Carlin"

File 5: The Stronger and Stranger Self

Sans sat in the patch of golden flowers that inexplicitly grew in the Waterfall dump, waiting. Their sweet scent both soothed and sickened him. Even looking at the blossoms with his blue eyes caused a roiling dread. Yet he refused to move, even as his lab coat got soaked and soiled by the dirty water. His blue eyes stared into the abyss beyond the last waterfall. He quietly listened to the distant cavern music and the rushing water as he waited.

"So, are you finally done with the endless pain of this world?" Gaster's voice echoed from the darkness below. His voice gargled like he was underwater.

Sans's eyes flickered white as he sneered. "If I was, I'd already thrown myself down there by now. But there's no way I can leave Alphys and the others behind, not when the human…" He scowled.

"Then why are you here, instead of being with Alphys?" asked Gaster, as the edge of the last waterfall turned black. His dark liquid form flowed through the shallow water like the shadow of an octopus. Sans couldn't even see his face. "You chose to stay with her before."

Sans stayed silent and still, though he watched the dark slime swirling around him with wary white eyes.

"Perhaps it's because you can no longer deny your instincts?" suggested Gaster.

Sans's eyes turned blue again. "Instinct's got nothing to do with it. We ran the numbers, calculating the human's stats according to the data on their kills…Not even Asgore stands a chance." His stoic expression gave way to sadness. "it's over. The human's gonna destroy this world and everyone in it."

"And you're alright with dying alongside them?" asked Gaster.

Sans grinned, eyes bleaching white again. "If it annoys you."

Black fluid rose up from the water, twisting into Gaster's humanoid form. "Is thar what you really want? To sacrifice yourself for the sake of a grudge you don't even understand?"

"Oh, I understand just fine," said Sans. "You wanna gobble up my soul so you can add me to your little collection. After you've got me, it's onto the next prey, right? Who'll it be next? Undyne? Alphys? Papyrus?" His eyes grew dark. "Doesn't matter, does it? You'll never stop until you've taken every soul in the Underground for yourself."

Gaster said nothing.

'…'Course, that won't matter too much if the world's gonna be wiped out anyway," Sans added with a shrug.

"You would rather sentence them to oblivion than offer them a chance to learn the truth?" questioned Gaster sternly. "Why not let them judge for themselves what they want?"

"Because you make it sound way better than it is," said Sans. "You'll say anything if it'll get you another soul with your black magic."

"If we were that greedy for souls, we would just take them," said Gaster, his body twisting into a corkscrew. "However, there's no satisfaction gained from a stolen soul, nor can a reluctant soul benefit from the black magic connection. So even now, as tempting as it is to snatch your soul away, we still want it to beyourchoice. If you choose destruction instead, then we will watch you end with everything else."

"Heh…How kind of you," said Sans with an unfriendly grin.

"However, if that was what you really wanted, you wouldn't have come here," Gaster went on, slowly reverting to his usual form. "So what is it that youtrulydesire?"

Sans's eyes flickered blue for a moment. "I…just wanted to say goodbye, is all. It's been fun…but…" He held a hand to his chest, his eyes flashing blue again.

"But what?" asked Gaster. "If this is what you want, then why is your soul shuddering so?"

Sans grimaced as he gripped his chest tighter, eyes pulsing white and blue. "B-But I…We…" His eyes blazed bright blue. "But we want tolive! That's what it always been about, right boss? Since we've learned the truth? To be more than just plaything programs for the human and Chara! We…I don't…"

His eyes blanched white again. "I won'tevergo with you! This ismyworld withmyfriends, and I won't give up on it! I can't leave them…I need…"

His eyes turned azure. "We need you, andthem.We're so tired of being alone here. Even with Alphys…" His eyes pulsed rapidly between the two colors. "B-But Alphys…everyone…"

"We understand Sans,," said Gaster. "It's painful, knowing you either can't protect them or be with them. Now you know how we always feel, and why we always crave to gather others to us."

"Yeah…" murmured Sans, his eyes stabilizing to a steady blue light. "We just wanna to look after them, keep them safe and close…" The surface of his bones swirled languidly as he smiled wanly. "We don't want them to be all alone. So we can just…"

Sans's mild grin instantly contorted to fear as his eyes glimmered white. "No!" he hissed, grabbing his shoulders like that would hold his softening body together. Why was having those disgusting thoughts of absorbing others? He took his daily shot just before he left…hadn't he? Or had his other side conveniently forgotten that?

"Denying the truth does not change it," said Gaster.

"Denying the truth does not change it," parroted Sans automatically, eyes blue. He shook his head, glaring at Gaster with eyes sputtering white. He saw his heart shine with an erratic black energy through his lab coat. "What'd you do to me?"

"You know full well that we haven't done anything to you," said Gaster, sounding almost insulted.

"Maybe not inthistimeline…" Sans muttered, before squeezing his eyes shut and clutching his chest again. "But you planned this, I know it…" he hissed, voice tight with pain. His eyes shone blue when he reopened them, though he stayed hunched over. "I know…We know you're trying to help, boss, but this…" He gasped. "…Feels like my soul's breaking..."

"Sans, this is happening because your soul is conflicted," said Gaster. "You want to accept and reject the truth at once. Wipe away your uncertainties, take control of your mind, and your soul will stabilize. The sooner you can do it, the sooner we can save you. The sooner we can save you, the more time we'll have to save others."

"…Save others…" Sans repeated. . "We want to…need to…" His eyes flickered white for a couple seconds before going back to pure blue. His heart pulsed black under his clothes. His expression grew resolute. "Get us outta here, boss."

Gaster grinned as he stretched up, his body fanning out like a cobra's hood. Tiny pinpricks of light shone in his hollow eyes. Sans waited patiently as Gaster's form liquefied into a black wave, crashing down.

Sans was swiftly engulfed in the freezing, crushing blackness. His body numbed as it blurred with Gaster's. Even his soul struggled to beat under the suffocating pressure. In the static filling his ears, he heard…voices? They were so familiar. If he listened a little closer, maybe he could understand what they were saying.

Long time no see guys,Sans thought serenely, as the foreign feelings curled around his heart.Miss us?He was so flooded with eager ecstasies that Sans could barely sense his own reaction.Yeah…missed you guys too…He could almost ignore the rising pain in his heart.

…Until it cracked. The hot agony would've made him gasp or scream if he could breathe at all. The sudden confusion and panic from the other mired souls told Sans that this wasn't supposed to happen.Boss! Something's wrong!

Gaster's alarm and concern swept in, binding his heart tighter to keep it together. He was just as baffled as the others, but his natural calmness helped Sans relax. If anyone could fix him, it was Dr. Gaster.We're sorry, boss, we don't know…

Hell right you don't know.

His soul's anguish sharpened, and he could think of nothing but the pain. His left eye turned bright white.

I don't know who you are, but I know ain't you, and you ain't me. And I ain't gonna let you drag me down into Gaster!

Sans!Gaster barked. Sans couldn't tell if he was trying to get his own attention, or if he was scolding his rebellious side. Either way the pain was getting worse.No, we…we don't want to go…We can't keep doing this…

Then stay. I don't care.

Both Sans's eyes glowed bright white., and he made himself teleport away. The ripping feeling in his chest was terrible, but the searing agony also flushed out his senses. When he materialized on the other side of the garbage dump, he felt shaky yet vitalized. This was the most awake he had been for awhile. He lost the lab coat though. Oh well.

"What have you done?" asked Gaster in shock, his body still tightly coiled around where Sans used to be. The stupefied look on his face made Sans want to laugh. "Your soul…"

Sans peeked under his shirt. Half of a blackened heart throbbed in his ribcage. He studied its erratic beat with fascination and disgust. He turned to Gaster with a wide grin. "Thanks for helping me wipe away my uncertainties and take control of my mind again. It was starting toreallysuck being suppressed all the time."

Gaster glared at Sans, needle-like points rising up from his shoulders and back. This might have been the angriest Sans had ever seen Gaster. "You're reallythatdesperate to stay in this world? That you would tear yoursoulin half to do it?"

"If it allows me to still be me, then yeah," said Sans. "Besides, I don't think this world is as hopeless as it seems. "

Sans glanced to a broken fridge nearby, coated with grime and mold. He grinned widely as was seized by an immediate urge to destroy. He flung his arm to the right, and his right eye flared blue. The fridge turned blue and went flying to the right, crunching as it slammed into the cave wall. Its door flopped open as it fell back into the ground. A moment later, the door popped off its hinges.

"Not when I can dothis,"Sans added smugly.

Gaster frowned at the wrecked fridge. "Sothat'swhat you wanted? Power?"

"Well, yeah, and to get rid of that corrupted side of me," Sans answered. The fridge door glowed and circled around his head as he casually twirled his hand. "There's no way I could ever stand a chance against the human in normal circ*mstances. I mean, I only have 1 HP. However, if I had some ofyourpower to amplify mine, then maybe I'd stand a chance. " He slammed the fridge door back and forth between the walls because he could. "But there's no way you'd ever settle for less than my entire soul, so…yeah, I tricked you. It was hard because I had to trick myself too, Good thing the other me is so trusting and stupid. He'd hafta be to ever followyou."

Gaster stayed silent.

"And really, doesn't this work out for all of us?" Sans went on, flinging the fridge door into a large pile of garbage and scattering trash everywhere. "You've got the part of me that worships you, I've got a clear head and the power I need. Now we can do an interesting little experiment. Maybe I can break the human so much they'llneverget past me and complete the timeline. It may not be the best of worlds, but hey, it's still better than nothing, right?"

Gaster sighed. "And you think that will make you happy?"

"Hey, it oughta at least be fun, right?" said Sans. "C'mon, we were both scientists once. Where's your sense of curiosity?"

Gaster continued to scowl, his jaws drooping almost like a hound's. He huffed. "…Fine. Wearecurious. If you fail, then we will claim you. There will literally be nothing to stay for at that point. The world as you know it will be gone."

Sans was quiet for a while. That was probably fair, actually. Sans would end up in nothingness either way if the world fell. "Alright, sure. Just don't go after anyone else without my permission." Besides, hewouldn'tfail. Not with his new game-breaking power.

"However, if youcanavert disaster, then you can linger here long as you like," Gaster added. "That is, as long as you stay…determinedto be here. You'll just need extra injections. That's a reasonable bargain. For once you fail to love this world…well, why would you want to stay in it? Especially since half of your soul is with us now. We suspect you will miss it sooner than you think."

"Yeah, like a dog misses fleas," said Sans, spinning the fridge door around again before tossing it down into the darkness. "I don't need a past that doesn't matter anymore."

He waited for the crash that never came. Instead, two blue eyes shone in the blackness, and a huge canine skull floated with the fridge door in his massive jaws. Sans stared as the oversized head dropped the door at his feet like a thrown stick, looking at him expectantly.

"Master!" it squeaked happily.

The tiny voice coming from the giant beast made Sans burst into laughter.

His mirth only seemed to make the dog skull even more cheerful and excited, bobbing back and forth in the air. "Master! Master!"

Gaster chuckled too. "It looks like an old-"

"I remember these!" said Sans, levitating the fridge door once more. "Gaster Blasters! I came up with that name, didn't I?" He flung the door. "Go get it!"

The Gaster Blaster shot after it, chomped down on it midair, and brought it back eagerly.

"No, no, not that," said Sans as he levitated the door from the Gaster Blaster. "You're a GasterBlaster,aren't you?Blastit!" He tossed the door once more.

This time the Gaster Blaster stayed still, watching, before sniping it out of the air with a huge white laser blast. There wasn't anything left of the door afterward.

Sans broke out into a big grin. "Oh man, this is awesome! Now blast that trash pile!"

The dog skull spun around and incinerated the tower of junk, along with three more after it. When the Gaster Blaster turned around, it split into two identical copies, both giddily awaiting the next order.

Sans couldn't stop laughing. There was no way the human stood a chance now! They were no better than all this pointless trash.

Though, even as Sans ordered more destruction from the mammoth canine skulls, he wondered why Gaster looked so tired as he watched.


Alphys hugged Sans when he finally got back to the True Lab, pleading for him to stay. He was all she had left, and if the human killed him too…

Sans showed off his new power for her, including the ever-cheerful Gaster Blasters, yet she still seemed worried. He would have been more irritated if he wasn't in such a great mood. She held him tightly even when he began to laugh uncontrollably. Why was she worried when he was so strong now, when feltthisgood? Besides, he couldn't let the world end like this. Not when he was finally starting to really enjoy himself.

He sensed Gaster distantly. Right, half of his heart belonged to Gaster now. That's probably what Gaster meant when he said he would miss the other part of his soul sooner than he thought. Itwasdistracting, still being able to dimly sense the lost part of himself, disapproving. and knowing Gaster's feelings of discontent and…guilt? But whatever, he would worry about that later, if therewasa later.

Sans waited for the human in the golden hall before the king's throne room. He hoped he didn't have to wait long, because he was already restless. He had begun prying tiles off the floor in boredom. They were behind pillars, so no one would miss them. Except, apparently, for this one nosy flower.

"Uh…what are you doing?" asked Flowey, as several tiles floated around Sans. "You gonna build a wall with those? Cause…uh…that might be the only thing that'll stop the human at this point. Maybe." He shuddered even as he smiled. "Eheheheh…"

"What's wrong, buddy?" asked Sans. "Was watching a wholegenocidenot as fun as you'd thought it'd be?"

Flowey sighed, sounding annoyed rather than insulted. "You know as well as I do that death doesn't matter here. They'll all come back once the human resets." Flowey paused. "But…the human…my friend…they're not who I thought they were…"

"What a shock," Sans said dryly. "That's what you get for being friends with ahuman."

"Shut up!' barked Flowey. "But…it's more than that. This isn't fun anymore. It just feelswrong…"

"Oh? It just feels wrongnow?" said Sans. One eye blazed blue, and Gaster Blasters swarmed around the buttercup. "Not when you or the human only killedmostpeople for fun?"

"W-What arethese?" squeaked Flowey, as the dog skulls growled at the tiny flower. "Sans, where's all this power coming from? What'd youdo?"

"I went to see an old ex-friend," Sans replied. "He ain't all there anymore, but if there's one thing he's got, it's power. Guess that's the one thing you get for living outside the rules."

"Living outside…" Flowey began. "Are you talking aboutGaster?Isn't that, like, areallybad idea? That's what you told me once."

"Not if it gets the job done," said Sans.

Steady footsteps echoed from far away.

"So the human's finally here?" said Sans, standing up. "Go ahead and warn the king, weed. Or stay and watch, I don't care. I've got a kid to kill, and that's all that matters."


"Heya," Sans greeted when the human finally arrived. He wore his usual smile like a ancient hunter wore a pelt. "You've been busy, huh?"

The kid didn't answer, or maybe Sans just wasn't listening.

"So, I've got a question for ya," Sans went on. "Do you think even the worst person can change? That everyone can be a good person, if they just try?" Sans chuckled. "Well, here's a better question." His eyes went dark as his smile stretched wider. "Do you want to have a bad time? 'Cause if you take another step forward…You arereallynot going to like what happens next."

The human stepped forward fearlessly, just as Sans wanted them to. Enough passiveness. He wanted todestroy.



Sans eradicated the human in seconds with multiple blasts from his Gaster Blasters. It was so exhilarating that Sans was overjoyed when he sensed the reset coming. With his enhanced powers came enhanced senses. Everything from colors to tastes were so vivid, yet he could also detect the calculations that made them possible. He still couldn't stop the reset, but it didn't matter. Let the human do all the hard work.

"Heya," Sans greeted, as the human appeared again. "You look frustrated about something." His eyes went dark, already eager for another kill. "Guess I'm pretty good at my job, huh?"

The human barely survived his first onslaught of bones and blasts, only to be finished off by rows of flying bones. The look on the kid's face when Sans actuallydodgedtheir attacks was priceless. Sans let a Gaster Blaster vaporize the body just for fun.

"Hmm…that expression," Sans said the third time. "That's the expression of someone who's died twice in a row. Suffice to say, you look really…unsatisfied. All right." His pupils vanished again. "How's bout we make it a third?"

Another fight, if it could even be called that. He interrupted his opening dialogue to ambush the human, and seized an early victory.

Another reset. "Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died thrice in a row…Hey, what comes afterthrice, anyway? Wanna help me find out?"

Next fight, next kill. The kid was getting a little better. Good. It gave Sans more time to pummel the human into lifelessness. Or watch them fall from a magic platform into a rows of upright bones, either way.

Next reset. "Hmm. That expression. That's the expression of someone who's died quice in a row. Quice? Frice? Welp, won't have it use it again anyways."

He could finally make this god-like being suffer. Not just for all the death in this timeline, but for the deaths inalltimelines, and the happy endings snatched away by their resets. Nowtheycould see what it was like to die over and over.

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died five times in a row. Convenient, huh? That's one for each finger. But soon…"

The kid lasted decently long this time. Sans actually felt a bit tired and needed a break. For a turn, he spared the child. The child attacked, and Sans dodged. Sans teleported them all over the place, giving them little to no time to react to the bones flying at them. They met a swift end as a swish-kabob on the end of a long bone.

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died six times in a row. That's the number of fingers on a mutant hand. But soon…"

They reached the break point again. Once again, Sans offered mercy. This time, the child took it, dropping the knife.

Wow, they actually did it,thought Sans, and a part of Sans felt relieved. "…You're sparing me? Finally, buddy, pal. I know how hard it must be…to make that choice, to go back on everything you've worked up to." He sighed. "I want you to know…I won't let it go to waste." He opened his arms. "C'mere, pal." He embraced the child, before his eyes went dark.

Six bones stabbed through the kid's back, and Sans let the body drop like the trash it was.

Then he laughed maniacally. "Geeeeeetttt dunked on!" Sans exclaimed wildly, his right eye alight as he whirled the body around above him. He summoned two Gaster Blasters, flung the body, and watched as the dog skulls rush after it. They played tug-or-war with the remains, growling playfully. "If we're really friends…You won't come back," Sans said to no one at all.

Some distant part of Sans felt disappointed at himself…no, that was Gaster, What washeso disgusted about? Eh, screw Gaster and his pacifism. This washisbattle.

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died seven times in a row. Hey, that's good. Seven's supposed to be a lucky number. Who knows, maybe you'll hit the jackpot…"

It tried to spare him again, so Sans murdered it again. That human thought they would be forgiven so easily for killing everyone? Who'd that kid think he was?Papyrus? No, there would never be redemption. Sans would only kill the kid over and over andoverand…

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died eight times in a row. That's the number of fingers on a spider." What was he even saying anymore? Oh well. It didn't matter, and it waswonderful. "But soon…"

The human attacked during the break this time. They looked really angry, which only made Sans giddier. So he was finally getting a real reaction out of the child. They didn't last long after that, though, going down in a storm of Gaster Blaster lasers.

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died seven times in a row. Nope, wait, that's definitely nine, sorry. Or was it ten?"

At one time, he may have liked the human. That's what his instincts told him. However, that was so long ago…So long he had tried to be its friend, even when his friends' dust clung to it…Even his brother's…

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died ten times in a row. Hey congrats! The big one-oh! Let's invite all your friends over for a big shindig. We can have pie, and hot dogs, and…hmmm…Wait. Something's not right. You don't have any friends."

The humans didn't last long that time, and was felled by the third round. Perhaps the child was finally weakening?

How does it feel, human? To be alone in this world that greeted you with open arms? This world that only wants to please you, even at our repeated expense?

"Hmm. That expression…That's the expression of someone who's died eleven times in a row. Well, give or take. There's nuance to this stuff. Don't think I'll be able to count very well from here. Count for me, okay? We'll start from twelve."

Yeah, this world's just a plaything to you, isn't it? We'realljust your playthings. But guess what? This isn'tyourworld. It'smine.

To its credit, the human lasted quite a while that time. Only when Sans flung them all the way down the hall and into a bone-stabbed wall did the kid finally give up the ghost.

"Let's just get to the point."

Sans didn't bother trying to keep track of the resets anymore. All that mattered was that the human came, and he killed it. There was no point in thinking about anything or anyone else. As long as he fought, this world would keep going, and his existence had a point. Battle was all that he thought about, reset after reset.

Untilthatbattle, where the human justwould not die. It evaded endless barrages of bones, Gaster Blasters, and cheap shots in the menu. Sans got tired, and thenreallytired. Ooze slid down his skull and soaked his clothes. He needed a…something. Or…someone? But the only someone that mattered was the human, his eternal foe.

No, he needed towin, like he always did. Then it would start over, and he would feel better again. Yet the battle dragged on until, in his exhaustion, he simply refused to fight. Not as any act of mercy, but to eternally trap the human. They couldn't attack if he never let his turn end. He was so confident, and so tired, that he actually fell asleep. Maybe he could sleep forever.

Sans barely woke up in time to dodge the human's slash…but not the one immediately after it. Sans fell over in shock, staring at the red seeping out of his chest. Whatwasthat? Too many bottles of ketchup? He couldn't even what ketchup tasted like, it was so many resets ago…

The human shouldn't have been able to attack, much less attackagainso fast…was this the power of a human's determination? Could they too break the rules? Had this been inevitable all along? The child's simple smile and red eyes flooded Sans with a primal terror.

He looked down at the red slash staining his clothes, and then back to the human. The red eyes and smile were gone, replaced by the usual impassive stare. Somehow that was worse than a victorious taunt. It made him feel so…insignificant, like those endless battles meant nothing.

"…So…guess that's it, huh?" said Sans. "…Just…don't say I didn't warn you." He staggered to his feet, nearly falling over. "Welp. I'm going to Grillby's." He dragged himself away from the human's sight, too weak to teleport.

…Where was Grillby's again?

The corridor never seemed so long. The golden hallway was scarred with scorch marks, shattered tiles, cracked pillars, and splatters of blood. King What's-His-Face was going to be upset when he found out. Seriously, what was his name again? He couldn't rememberanyone'sname, actually.

His thoughts, previously shackled by raw bloodlust, drifted to another skeleton with a tattered red scarf, who always seemed to be happy. His brother…His brother's name was…

""Papyrus," Sans murmured. "Do you want anything?" What did he evenmeanby that? It didn't matter.

The world swayed and smeared as he tottered on. Was the world already vanishing? Wasn'thesupposed to vanish, whisked away by a watching force? Something far away felt revolted yet sorrowful. Yet…

Why didn't you let the human spare you?

Why did these thoughts suddenly spring to mind? It was almost like they were from someone else.

That was all you had to do. The human can't complete the genocide path if they spare anyone. If you simply accepted it, everyone would be safe…Now you've cursed everyone, andyoucan be cursed alongside them.

But wasn't someone supposed to come for him? He felt like he had been told that long ago.

But nobody came.

It's like you said earlier…

Sans stopped moving. There was no point. He let himself collapse.

We don't need our corrupted side.

Sans's body crumbled to dust.


The whole "spare" thing with Sans, while funny, always bugged me a little. He could literally stop Genocide right there if he accepted instead of being a troll about it. What did you think of how Sans got his full power, btw?

Alright, we're about halfway through at this point. Next chapters cover post-Genocide, and where things start to get a little different.

Chapter 6: The Darkness Before Midnight


Everything seems so ordinary, yet so strange at the same time. Slowly, in stops and starts, Sans begins to realize why. And maybe others are starting to realize it too.


Okay here we go! Quite a bit happening this chapter. Enjoy!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"You know those days when you've got the mean reds…the blues are because you're getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long. You're sad, that's all. But the mean reds are horrible. You're afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don't know what you're afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don't know what it is." -Truman Capote

File 6: The Darkness Before Midnight

Had there been another reset recently?

Such a strange feeling coursed through Sans, one of…happiness? No, there was more to it than that. Satisfaction? No, he was too restless. Acceptance? That was an odd one to think of, and yet…

Sans never felt so vitalized. He was up before Papyrus was, gorging on ketchup in the kitchen. His brother's utterly baffled expression was priceless. He would spare him the morning puns for now…nah, his brother clearly needed toketchupon his sleep. He laughed heartily at Papyrus's frustrated yell.

Well, he also laughed because he had almost forgotten his brother existed. He was just so used to being…alone? That was morbidly pessimistic, even for him.

Then Sans went outside, and…got lost. How did he get lost inSnowdin? In fact, why dideverythingseem so unfamiliar? The Royal Guard, Undyne, even Papyrus seemed like strangers, even though heknewthey weren't. Why? Had the last timeline gone on longer than usual?

Yet, it never crossed Sans's mind to be worried. This felt too good to bethatbad. He eventually found his way to his post in the woods, but soon got bored. He was too hyper to even try to sleep, and too impatient to wait for the door-lady to answer, so he teleported to Waterfall instead. Why Waterfall? Why not? Maybe he could troll Undyne, or head to Hotland to visit Alphys. Actually, he could just take a shortcut to Hotland. So he did…then he instantly warped back to Waterfall, then to Hotland again. He bounced rapidly between the two places, chuckling.

"What'swrongwith you?"

Sans stopped, eyeing the confused flower that had just popped up. "What's wrong withyou? I'm just having fun."

"No, this iswaytoo weird, even for you," said Flowey. "You don't even have blue eyes right now." He slowly shrank back as Sans stared at him with a manic grin. "Wait, you aren'tstill-"

Flowey froze. It wasn't a reaction of fear or shock. He literally stopped moving, expression blank. The edges of his body flickered.

"You okay there buddy?" asked Sans, waving a hand in front of Flowey's face. No response. More curious than alarmed, he poked the buttercup. Stiff and cold. Frozen?

A black-and-white liquid bubbled up from the ground next to Flowey. Gaster's face formed in the center of the frothing mass, as he stretched around an nearby echo glower flower like a snake. His face was already half-swallowed by his black smile.

Sans's manic grin was back.Gasterwanted to take him on today? Sans didn't mind at all. Such wonderful energy was begging for a target to break.

Gaster glanced to the frozen Flowey. "Once again it ceases to function. It's hardly surprising really, but it's still a pity. Nothing without a soul could withstand our presence. Useless thing. "

Sans couldn't help but laugh. Sothat'swhy Gaster had never been interested in Flowey. The co*cky weed simply shut down when Gaster approached him.

Gaster glanced over to Sans. "Andyoushould take ashower, youshow-er!" He seemed almost…mad? Then he abruptly vaporized away, high-pitched cackles vibrating throughout the cavern.

Sans stared in confusion, and then snickered.Was that…supposed to be a pun? Wow…His snickers unraveled into laughter.Maybe I should tell that one to the door lady…Seriously, What wasthatabout?

As soon as Gaster vanished, Flowey blinked rapidly, before looking around. "...Huh? What happened?"

Sans grinned. "The one and only Gaster just visited. Too bad youjustmissed him."

"What?"Flowey's shouted, more angry than scared. "You mean that guyfinallyshowed up, and I don't even-"

Sans took a shortcut back to Snowdin before Flowey finished, because he was bored now. On his way to find Papyrus he came across one of the Lesser Dog's stations. It was surrounded by snowmen, or rather snow-dogs, the canine guard had created. Most the snow-dogs were disintegrating due to their massively elongated necks. In fact, one was about to fall on Sans, the snow crunching as it leaned dangerously over him.

With one quick thrust of his right hand the snow glowed blue and went flying back. It slammed against Lesser Dog's station, half-burying it. Sans's left eye was dark, but the other shone with a bright blue light.

Sans stared blankly at what he just did, glancing at his lambent hand. How had he donethat? He looked at a small snow poff nearby, and slowly moved his hand back and forth. The pile turned blue and swayed to the rhythm of his hand like an entranced dancer.

Sans beamed like an excited child. His magic had never been this powerful or precise before. He waved his arm back and forth more vigorously, and the snow pile jerked more violently. He threw his arm straight up, yanking the snow up into the air, and then slammed it down with the opposite motion. He did this again and again, giggling madly.

Sans crashed his cupped hands together to crush the snow pile into a huge snowball. He made the snowball bounce in time with his arm, humming to some imaginary tune. Afterward he directed the snowball to roll all over the ground, growing bigger as it consumed the snow-dogs as well as the underlying snow. When it was larger than the sentry station, Sans made the snowball ram into it. The station was smashed to splinters.

Delighted rather than deterred by the destruction. Sans levitated the broken pieces of wood as well as the gigantic snowball. He didn't even have to move his arm to lift the station debris. Sans put his hands behind his back and hummed, rocking side to side to an unheard beat. The huge snowball crumbled into many tiny snowballs that circled around like drunken bumblebees, while the wooden fragments spun wildly in place. He summoned some bones to add to the mix, and found that he could summondozensof them at a clacked against each other, pounding out the rapid tempo running through Sans's head.

Soon, though, he got bored of just watching everything flail under his will. With an impulse he turned the animated party into a three-way war. Snowballs flung against broken boards, splinters skewered snow, and bones shattered whatever they struck. The bones won easily, of course, so Sans set them against each other. They rattled and cracked under each other's blows. Sans chuckled at the chaos.

After a while eventhatstarted to get dull…until a massive dog-like skull appeared out of nowhere and chomped on the remaining bones.

Sans stopped humming and swaying, staring at the creature. Hadhesummoned that? He didn't feel threatened by it, despite its intimidating appearance.

The canine cranium stared back with bright blue eyes like his, still gnawing on several bones. Then it bit through them like twigs and grinned widely, emitting a playful growl.

Sans didn't know what it was, but he loved it. He created a semi-large snowball with his newfound power and flung it. Maybe the dog-skull knew fetch?

The massive head watched the snowball intently, but didn't move. When the frozen projectile was halfway to the ground, however, it cracked open its jaws and fired a huge white laser blast. The snowball was vaporized instantly, along with what was left of the sentry station. The force of the blast nearly blew Sans off his feet.

Sans loved this thing even more now. Could he make another one?

A second one popped into existence as soon as he wondered, a perfect copy of the first.

…Oh,thiswas fantastic. If the human came now, he'd rip the human apart! If they reset and came back, he'd just do it again. In fact hewantedthem to keep coming back, so he could pulverize them again and again and again and-

Sans heard a pathetic whimpering. He turned to see Lesser Dog standing nearby, eyes wide and tail tucked between his legs.

"Whacha looking at, pal?" asked Sans, one eye brightly shining and the other pitch black. A ring of bones stabbed up from the ground around Sans. "You wanna piece of this?" More bones materialized over Sans's head, while the ones around him jutted up and down. "Here boy,fetch!"

He shot the floating bones ahead, while the ones in the ground burrowed through the ground like drills. Lesser Dog scurried from the onslaught on all fours, whining loudly as he wove around attacks from both above and below. He yelped when some of the aerial bones struck him, but only lost his stride for a moment. Then the two dog-like skulls fired their lasers at him, which Lesser Dog barely stayed ahead of. The giant heads kept firing until Lesser Dog finally fled out of sight.

Sans couldn't stop laughing. The canine craniums laughed with him, though all that came out were raspy wheezes.Thiswas their Royal Guard? No wonder they always failed. That mutt wouldn't stand a chance in arealfight. Nowhe, on the other handhecould protect everyone. There was nothing to fear withthispower, and he was barely touching its potential. It was so wonderful to not be afraid.

"What's going on here?" demanded Undyne as she ran into view. She was already in her armor. "What's that stupid mutt so-" She stopped as she saw Sans with his pitch-black eyes, army of bones, and twin dog skulls. "What the hell?"

" Sup?" asked Sans casually.

"Hey! You may be Papyrus's brother, but I ain't gonna stand you harassing my guards!" Undyne only grew more angry. "More importantly…You've been holding out on me, punk? This goesbeyondlazy! Hey, stop swaying and humming and crap! It's creepy! Listen to me!"

"Oh, I'm listening," said Sans. "Yeah, I've been holding back." His right eye flared with blue light. "Want to find out what you've been missing out on?" The Gaster Blasters above him snapped their lower jaws open and started charging their lasers.

…Gaster Blasters? Why call them…Ah, blasters to blast Gaster. That must be it.

Undyne's lips pulled back into a vicious sneer. Several spears materialized up around her. "Ohhellyeah! You've had this coming for alongtime, punk!"

Sans sneered back. "Same here."

The Gaster Blasters fired. Undyne nimbly evaded the lasers despite her heavy armor. She fired a volley of spears at Sans with a yell. The short skeleton wove around them easily, even redirecting a few of them back at the fish-like warrior. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to fight, like battle was his purpose.

But I thought Ihatedfighting….The dissonance quickly dissolve away.

"Thatall you got?" taunted Undyne, batting away the deflected projectiles with her spear. She swiped her javelin, sending a green wave that enveloped the whole area in front of her.

Sans felt his soul and body become immobile from the magic, but it didn't bother him. His instincts told him he could break this magic whenever he wanted. The rules didn't apply to him anymore. Still, he would play her game, for now.

Undyne uprooted a nearby tree with her bare hands, roaring as she swung it at Sans like a baseball bat.

One of the Gaster Blasters caught the tree in its jaws. The inside of its mouth glowed white, unleashing a blast that engulfed both the tree and Undyne. The ground shook from the force.

The tree was incinerated, but Undyne was only scorched black and even madder. "Ohyeah?" she growled, jumping up above the Gaster Blaster. She landing on the dog skull so powerfully that it crashed into the ground, shaking everything. Then, while the Gaster Blaster was stunned, she seized the beast skull and suplexed it. The skull shuddered and shattered from the impact. The second cranium was already charging a shot above Undyne, but spears pierced it from all sides. The light died in its eyes and its mouth as it melted away..

"How'stha-" Undyne began triumphantly, only to see Sans was gone. "Huh? My magic shouldn't have worn off alre-augh!" Undyne suddenly slammed face-first into the ground, a pale blue aura cloaking her. She struggled to push herself back up. "You really think…you can keep me down?"

"Yup," said Sans, as Undyne collapsed when he lowered his hand further. "But that would be boring." His eyes narrowed as his grin widened. "You want arealfight, right?"

Sans thrust his arm up, and Undyne went flying skyward. He swung down at a slant, sending Undyne plummeting through a row of trees. Before he let her hit the ground he made a sideways slice to the left, and she skidded headfirst through the snow instead. His movements grew wilder as he made her corkscrew through the air, smashed her into the ground repeatedly, and lined up bones for her to crunch through along the way.

And yet still some part of himself was disgusted with him, some part very far away…

Screw it. This was so satisfying. He didn't need to deal with Undyne and her crap anymore. He didn't needher, or anyone else, at all.

While on yet another rocket-fast collision course with the earth, Undyne pointed her spear at her chest and blasted herself with her own green magic. She stopped with a lurching halt. Catching her breath, she sneered at Sans.

Sans frowned for the first time since the fight started, waving his hand back and forth to no effect. His smile soon returned, however. "You think you're pretty smart, huh?" A cluster of spinning bones appeared around him. "Thing is, I can't move you, but you can't dodge, either."

"That's why I've gotthis," said Undyne, materializing a maneuverable square barrier tethered to her wrist.

"Cute," said Sans. "Let's see how longthatlasts."

The bones rushed toward Undyne, swarming around her like wasps. Undyne snarled, realigning her shield constantly to block the increasing rapid strikes. Whenever one bone broke against the barrier, Sans created three more. Soon not even Undyne's quick reactions could keep up with all of it, and she got hit almost as much as she successfully blocked.

Spears showed up alongside the bones, and the two magic projectiles jousted against each other. Undyne couldn't produce nearly as many spears as Sans could bones, but her spears were sturdier and did more damage per strike. With their aid she was able to whittle down the swarm to a level she could defend against.

Sans could see her iris growing darker. Something distantly resonated within that far-away place in Sans. She was connected tothatpower too? Interesting. If he pushed her even further, could she fully activate it? Maybe then this would be arealmatch.

He melted the swarm of bones into multiple Gaster Blasters. They circled Undyne, charging their lasers in sequence. Undyne snarled and brought forth even more spears. They were able to destroy some of the canine craniums, but Sans replaced them as soon as they shattered.

Undyne spun around to block the first blast. The barrier trembled and sizzled, but held. As soon as that attack finished she jerked her shield to the left to stop the next laser. The lasers fired faster and faster, until Undyne was spinning nonstop to keep up with the assault. Her iris was almost black. The barrier was boiling from the heat. Undyne was drenched in sweat…or was she…?

Come on, don't disappoint us,thought Sans, watching with dark eyes. Despite all the magic he was casting, a pleasant coolness flowed through his bones and soul.

Undyne's other eye began to shine under her eye-patch.

That's it. Show us that you're better than this world. That weallare. You've been so close for so long…


He stared at Papyrus with wide blue eyes, who had just run onto the scene. Why was he here? "Bro…How…?" Wasn't he…Suddenly his head hurt and the world spun.

Error. File not found. Error…

Sans came to a few minutes later, Papyrus and Undyne hovering over him. His brother looked close to panic. Undyne looked angry, but also concerned, and her eye was normal again. He couldn't tell what either of them were saying. All he could hear was static. Everything felt so far away. Pixels crawled at the edge of his vision.

"…Five more minutes, guys…" he mumbled, before drifting off again.

Error Error Error…


Sans woke up on the couch, chilled despite the blanket draped over him. He rolled onto his side, tucking the cover snugly over himself. His head throbbed and his bones prickled all over. What happened?

"Sans, you're awake!" Papyrus called out, as he emerged from the kitchen. Sans could smell the undercooked spaghetti sauce. "Are you going tostayawake this time? How are you feeling?"

"…Dunno," Sans replied, still gazing mindlessly ahead. "Weird?" His white eyes languidly rolled over to Papyrus as he approached. "Did I eat Undyne's cooking or something?"Whyhe would be that stupid was beyond Sans. Maybe it was a dare from the aquatic monster herself. Yeah…It hadsomethingto do with Undyne, right?

"No you didn't eat Undyne's cooking. It's notthatbad," said Papyrus, sounding annoyed. "Sans, do you remember what happened atall?"

Memories slowly bled back. They were clear but distant, like he had seen them on TV instead of in person. "I had…new magic? Stronger magic, anyway. Then…I attacked Undyne?" He paused. He knew that should concern him more than it did. "She doing okay?"

"Yes. She's currently gorging herself at Grillby's," Papyrus said flatly. His face and eyes immediately brightened. "So she's fine! She was really energized after the battle too! I think she had fun with you!"

Of course she did,thought Sans. That didn't make Sans any less uneasy though. Why had his magic intensified like that, and why did it make him so vicious? No,viciouswas sugarcoating it.Murderouswas more like it. He had even gone after a Lesser Dog without mercy. The realization sickened him…or was he already sick? He felt so exhausted, and so cold. Sans's bones rattled as he shivered, his teeth chattering.

'Are you alright, Sans?" asked Papyrus, as Sans coiled up under his blanket.

"Y-Yeah bro…" Sans murmured, grinning even as his eyelids drooped. "Just a little c-chilly…" His smile waned as his eyes grew dim and unfocused. "…f-f-fine…"

"You arenotfine, Sans," Papyrus scolded. He laid a hand over Sans's brow. "At least it's not a fever. You're shaking so badly though…" He fetched another blanket and laid it over his brother. "Does that help?"

"Yeah," Sans murmured, gratefully cocooning himself with the extra cover. It still felt like his marrow was freezing, but every scrap of warmth helped. "T-Thanks."

"Anyway, I'm very proud of your new magic brother! It's astounding!" said Papyrus happily, before his smile shrunk a little. "…But I-I don't think that power's good for you…So, uh, maybe don't use that power much? Or..at all?" The taller skeleton beamed again. "So don't worry about it! For I, the great Papyrus, will be the only combatant the Royal Guard will ever need!"

"Of course, bro," Sans murmured, struggling to keep his eyes open. "You're the best…"

"Then everyone else can have Nice Cream and hotdogs and cinnabuns and…"

Sans's eyes sagged shut, though he tried to hang onto Papyrus's voice. It was hard, however, with the growing static in his head, along with…voices?

"See you soon?"


"You can't be half-hearted about this, or anything."

"Sans? Sans, are you listening?"

Sans's eyes cracked open. "Y…Yeah…" His eyes slipped shut again, and rows of code burned bright in the blackness. He saw faint strings of data encircling him, steadily glowing brighter. He felt his own programming stuttering along, trying to fit in with the flow of the world.

"Come to us, Sans!"

"We miss you!"


"L-Listening…" Sans muttered. "H-Hotdogs and tolls a-a-and…" His thoughts and speech unraveled into shivering breaths as the phantom cold bit deeper into his bones.

"Sans! Sans! Sans!"

"You reallyaresick, brother," said Papyrus worriedly. Sans felt a third blanket being pulled over him, though it did little to warm him. It was like his very soul was turning to ice.

"J-Just t-tired…tired-b-boned…b-boned-tired…"

He heard Papyrus sigh. "You can't even do your horrible puns right…" Sans felt his brother's bony hand on his quaking shoulder. "Never fear, though, for the great Papyrus will take care of you until you're well!"

…Should Sans be worried about that? "…Okay…"

"…Though, Undyne said to call Dr. Alphys if you're still ill tomorrow," Papyrus added, almost begrudgingly "Though Undyne also said she wouldn't be up until at least noon…"

Sans offered a soft grunt in reply. He didn't know if it was loud enough for Papyrus to hear it, but he didn't care. He had never felt so drained.

"Still, I don't want anyone bad to happen to you…or anyone…" Papyrus went on. Sans felt Papyrus's hand ball up and grip the covers. "…But I can't shake this feeling that somethingreallybad is going to happen…or maybe it already has? I don't know…but it feelshorrible, and I don't know what to do, because I don't even know what itis…" Papyrus's fist shuddered.

Papyrus…your instincts…?thought Sans groggily. Papyrus's instincts were close to nil. Ifhefelt like something was really wrong…Sans's own instinct seemed strangely scrambled, so he couldn't sense anything. If only he could focus…

But now that he thought it of it, the others…Undyne, the door lady, Alphys, even minor monsters like Grillby or Snowdrake…everyone seemed unnaturally on edge, even though nothing was going on.

What's happening…?thought Sans, but he sank into slumber before he could ponder further.


When Sans finally surfaced from sleep, the lights were out and it was dark outside. Papyrus was fast asleep beside the couch, snoring gently. He almost looked like a soldier resting in-between battles. Sans smiled a little….though why were there five steaming plates of spaghetti in front of the couch?

Sans got up, or tried to. That's when he realized Papyrus had piled on him five blankets, three pillows, a dirty apron, jogging and basketball clothes, action figures, a small white dog, and two books flipped open and turned over to keep said white dog in place.

Oh geez,thought Sans, struggling not to laugh.He must've been trying to keep me warm.Maybe that was what all the freshly-cooked spaghetti was for too.

Well, it kinda worked. He still felt frigid, but at least he wasn't shivering nonstop like before. At the very least his heart felt warm now, and that went a long way. His head felt clearer too.

Sans carefully excavated himself out of the pile, using his powers to quietly remove the layers of stuff. The white dog flew off like a bird when freed of the books, and Sans didn't see where it went. He didn't want to disturb Papyrus, but that didn't stop him from stacking a few items on his brother for a few chuckles. What Sansreallycraved, however, was a long hot shower. Maybe a good rinse would wash the lingering chill from his bones. He couldn't remember the last time he took a shower anyway, so…

Sans warped upstairs because it was quieter and quicker than going up the steps. He was struck by vertigo as soon as he arrived in front of the bathroom. He stumbled against the door, giggling slightly from the intoxicating dizziness. What was wrong with him?

…Maybe a shower was a bad idea. He would take a bath instead. A nice, long, hot bath…

Sans pushed the door open. The bathroom was small, with orange-and-white tiles. Why did Papyrus like orange so much? Why did Sans even care right now? Closing and locking the door, he pulled off his blue hoodie and white shirt and tossed them onto the floor.

Sans froze, staring at the mirror above the sink. Itcouldn'tbe-

"You have always been so dedicated," said Gaster, swirling in the glass. His grin was long and thin, his hollow eyes smug half-circles. "Again and again this world degrades you, yet again and again you proclaim your love for it..."

"H-How are you here?" asked Sans, taking a step back. "This isn't Waterfall…" He could barely see his own reflection in the tainted glass.

"Last time, you even tried to save this world," said Gaster, his face melting down the glass. His ooze bubbled thickly at the bottom of the mirror, before frothing upward around the edges. "You failed." The sickly foam formed a squirming frame around the mirror, with one bubble in the lower left corner expanding into Gaster's semi-translucent head. "It's hardly surprising, however…" Gaster went on, his eyes gone and the rest of his face whirling with oily film.

As Gaster bled out of the mirror's edges, the glass slowly unclouded. Sans could finally see himself clearly. Sans's blackened half-heart quivered fearfully in his ribcage.

"After all, what did you expect…" said Gaster. "…From such ahalf-heartedattempt?" He exploded into shrieking cackles. His distorted body jiggled, frothed, and popped.

What is this?thought Sans, as he stared at his reflected heart. Gaster's mad laughs rapidly escalated in pitch.Oh god, don't tell me I-

A large dark bubble swelled in another corner of the mirror. Inside the shadowy sac was the other half of San's soul, tangled in blurred blackened code. Dark energy jolted it, and pulsed frantically.

Sans's own half-soul raced in sync with Gaster's claimed one. He began laughing weakly as he was flooded with a overwhelming giddiness. His left eye went dark while his right eye blazed. He shrieked with laughter.Oh god no no no NO-


Sans sluggishly woke up to the steady rhythm of running and a very hot orange light. Sans opened his eyes with a groan, and saw Papyrus was the one giving off the bright glow. He was carrying him piggyback through Waterfall. "Bro…?"

"Hang on brother we're almost at the Lab," Papyrus said rapidly, the words almost running together in his manic state. "We had to get you away from there and away fromhimand we're almost there and we'll get you fixed and we'll fix all this andout of my way!" A stray boulder in their path was seized and crushed by a huge ribcage snapping out of the rock like a bear-trap. Papyrus shot through the rubble without a second thought, the falling rocks sizzling from touching his shining body.

Sans would have been more impressed if he could concentrate at all. He was freezing from the inside-out while his half-heart struggled to beat steadily. Scrambled voices hissed through the static in his head, making it hard to think. Something about this was…familiar?

Papyrus streaked though a dark mazelike path of glowing mushrooms. Usually the pale-blue fungi were the only source of light, but Papyrus was bright enough to illuminate his own way. Any monsters on the narrow pathways had to swiftly scramble for another branch of the path, with a few unlucky ones getting trampled. Sans didn't see any explosions of dust, so he assumed they survived with sore egos.

When they reached the long hallway of echo flowers, Undyne was there trying to stab a sneering Flowey with her spear. Both stopped and stared when they saw the bright orange comet speeding toward them.

"Whoa, what isthat?" Flowey asked.

"Dunno, but it's stoppingright here!" shouted Undyne, sending out a green wave with her spear.

Papyrus lurched to a halt as he was coated by a green aura, though his bones still gave off bright orange light. Sans was nearly launched over his brother's shoulder. Now further draped forward, Sans saw that Papyrus's left eye blazed orange. Wavy rays extended from the pupil like a primitive drawing of a sun.

"Get out of the way, Undyne!" barked Papyrus. Was it just Sans, or did his canines look sharper too?

"What the-Papyrus?" Undyne said with disbelief, lowering her spear.

"Okay,thisis new. Eheheheheh…" added Flowey, looking more anxious every minute. "Seriously, what'swiththis timeline…?"

Undyne paid no attention to the flower's strange words, instead raising up her spear again. "Don't tell me I have to fightyoutoo?" She sounded more antsy than angry. "Seriously, why are all you skeletons going nuts today?"

"Iorderyou to let me through!" demanded Papyrus. "I need to get Sans to the labnowhe's sick very sick and in danger we'reallin danger because everything iswrong!" Sharp ribs spun into existence around Papyrus and pointed at Undyne. Some were white and others were orange. "Soget out of my way!"They shot forth like arrows.

"Whoa!" exclaimed Undyne, as she deflected the incoming white ribs with her spear. She couldn't block the orange ribs, being orange magic, but she kept herself moving to minimize their damage. "Dude calm down-Whoa!"She now had to hop around sets of bones jutting in and out of the ground. "Seriously whaaaaaaah!"A huge spinal cord with a ribcage erupted from the ground, seizing Undyne and yanking her high into the air.

The green aura lining Papyrus's orange one shuddered as the skeleton strained to move. Abruptly the color vanished, and Papyrus rocketed past Undyne. Sans saw the bones dematerialize just before Papyrus swung around the corner.

"I won't let you have him no I won't let you have my brothernever," Papyrus muttered on, practically flying across the bridge. "We'll get you somewhere safe we'll get you home we'll be just fine if we can just get you home…"

But home's the other way, isn't it?thought Sans groggily. Suddenly his head hurt so badly, a hot pain among all the ice and static…


Sans must have slipped back into unconsciousness, because the next thing he was aware of was lying in a bed in Alphys's lab. He felt almost normal. His soul was no longer racing erratically…though it was still half-gone too. He didn't have to look at it to feel the hollowness.

"D-Didn't know that something like that…could even happen?" Alphys said somewhere beyond the yellow curtain of his room. "His r-readings are stable now, a-and I gave him some….uh…shots, so he s-should be okay, but…you said something, uh, a-attacked him?"

"…Yes, in the bathroom," said Papyrus. He sounded very tired now. "I heard him laughing very strangely, like when he attacked Undyne…and then he screamed. I ran upstairs, broke the door down, and found him unconscious on the floor. Then there was this…" There was a long pause. "…I don't even knowwhatit was. Some black, shrieking thing?"

Gaster…thought Sans.Right…He was trying to pull me under get the rest of me…He was lucky Papyrus had been so close by, otherwise…

"At first I thought maybe this thing surprised Sans, and my brother had fainted from the shock," Papyrus went on. "Sans still wasn't feeling well, after all. So I was going to lecture the intruder about sneaking into other people's bathrooms unannounced, and how it was a rude thing to do." Papyrus grew quiet again. "But Sans's hoodie was off, so I saw…" There was another long pause. "…And then I knew…this thing had hurt him." There was a hard edge to his voice. It sounded so foreign on his brother. "So I threw some bones at the creature, and then I fled with my brother in tow…and, well, just kept running until I got here!" His usual chirpiness was back.

I'm surprised Gaster let me go so easily,thought Sans, but he already suspected why. With half of his soul now in Gaster, Sans wasalwaysconnected to him now. Even in this place, Sans could sense him. Gaster was slightly annoyed, but not upset. It was like a cat pawing at a fatally wounded mouse.

…No, this wasn't fatal. Sans wouldn't let this be fatal. He didn't care how many shots he needed to take…

"Do you remember attacking me?" Undyne asked Papyrus.

"I do, and I'm sorry," Papyrus answered, sounding sad. "I was just so…I'd never felt so frightened…except, maybe I have? Because it feels like something like this happened before? Only I don't remember? Since…Undyne, you remember our game of Dodge-Snow?"

Undyne snorted. "Yeah. You ran off with Sans and we chased you all the way back to Snowdin. Good times, huh?"

"Most definitely! But…" Papyrus continued. "Well, I knew that it was a game, and Sans was in no real danger. Yet I felt an overwhelming urge to rescue Sans and get him somewhere safe. I think…that game reminded me of the same thing? Sometimes I get really strong, strange feelings like that. Things that make no sense…but since they don't make sense, I ignore them."

Those are your instincts, dummy,thought Sans with a mix of amusem*nt and sadness. So Papyrus sensed things more than Sans realized. He just didn't know how to comprehend it. It was the same as how Papyrus always thought the human looked familiar, but never thought aboutwhythe human looked familiar.

"…I think I'm going to lie down now," said Papyrus, sounding very tired again. "Let me know how Sans is doing later, okay?"

"O-Of course, go ahead," said Alphys. "I'm s-sorry. After everything's that's…uh, happened, it's no wonder you're tired. I might, uh, n-need to do some t-t-tests later though."

"On me or Sans?" asked Papyrus.

"Both," said Alphys. "Oh, d-d-don't worry, nothing painful, just, um…r-r-readings and stuff like that."

"Oh, I see." Papyrus still didn't sound thrilled about it.

"Anyway, go get some sleep big guy," added Undyne. "There's a couch you can nap on."

"Okay…" said Papyrus. Sans heard his bones clacking as he got up and walked away.

There was a long pause. "What's going on, Alphys? First Sans goes crazy, then something attacks him and Papyrus, thenPapyrusgoes crazy, and now Papyrus's talking about having weird deja-vu or something?"

"Yeah, it's all, ah, really strange…" Alphys agreed. "Bad feelings caused by something…S-Supressed memories maybe?"

"Wait, like how Doctor Zorg brainwashed Akito in Mew Mew Kissy Cutie?" asked Undyne.

"Kind of?" replied Alphys. "It's more like…W-well, sometimes, when someone really bad or scary happens to someone, they don't want to acknowledge it or…uh, even remember it at all. So they don't, at least not really."


"U-Um, so basically, Papyrus said something bad like this might've happened before, right?" Alphys went on. "Maybe it was so scary to Papyrus that he suppressed the memory so he didn't have to think about it?"

"C'mon, that's not like Papyrus," Undyne answered. "If there's a problem, he takes it head-on! Man, you should'veseenhim earlier, Alphys! He was soawesome!"

"I-I did…for a little bit," Alphys said. "He was r-really something…n-not surewhat, since he was shining so bright…"

Yeah! It was like his bones were made offire!" Undyne gushed. "And he was so fast too! And he summoned all these ribs and spines and ribs and…uh…"

"What's wrong?"

"…And he, uh,orderedme out of the way," added Undyne.

"R-Really?Papyrusdid?" Alphys asked.

Sans chuckled a little. Now that he was feeling better, the idea of his brother trying to commandanyonewas pretty hilarious. Some far-off part of him seemed insulted by this, but that part of him was clearly crazy and probably a part of Gaster, so he felt okay ignoring it. He ignored the lingering whispers of static voices as well, though something about their indecipherable babble was…comforting?

More importantly, whatwasthat magic Papyrus used? The only magic Papyrus normally used was blue magic Sans had taught him…when? Usually you couldn't teach colored magic like that, but maybe since they were brothers…? His headache made an unwelcome return.

"Yeah, he acted like he was my superior or something," said Undyne, barking out a laugh. "But when he did that, it seemed kinda…familiar?" A pause. "Oh my god, Alphys, I think I'm having that weird deja-vu-but-not thingright now!"

"W-W-Wait, s-seriously?" Alphys replied. "Uh, um…what s-s-should I d-do?"

"You'rethe royal scientist! Scan me or something!"

"O-Okay…This way…" Alphys answered, as Sans heard both of them scurry away. Sans was left with only silence for company.

Huh,thought Sans. This was all so confusing. Was this all because he took some kind of deal with Gaster to save this world? Gaster said that he had failed though…yet the world lived on. Maybe he hadn't failed as much as Gaster hoped. Or maybe he hadn't failed at all, and Gaster was just lying to him. Sans wouldn't know any better.

Still, if Papyrus was gaining a new power, then maybe it wouldn't be so easy for the human to mess things up. So maybe, between that and his own power, this would actually be a good thing. Besides, it would be fun to fight alongside his brother.


As it turned out, neither skeleton needed to use their bizarre new abilities, because the human was merciful to everyone. Sans's instincts roared at him to kill the kid on sight, but he didn't trust his instincts right now. The incidents with Undyne and Gaster had proven how unreliable his judgment was. He wondered if that was because of his half-soul, or because of something else that happened last time. The line-reading from his machine showed nothing but violent spikes, especially at the end. There were no surviving monsters.Thatpath had been taken and executed.

So how are we still here?thought Sans.Wasn't that path supposed to end the world as we know it?

Honestly, though, Sans wasn't about to complain. Not when the human was finally taking them to a happy ending. He was filled with a distant yet warm familiarity that helped stave off his worries about the last timeline and Gaster. The ever-oozing fiend hadn't appeared again since the incident at his house. Sans somehow doubted the many booby-traps Papyrus had rigged the bathroom with had anything to do with it. Sans felt fine too, though now he had to take two shots a day. That, and he nodded off more, though his dreams were always good. If only he could remember them…

Still, Sans could feel Gaster beckoning to his half-heart constantly, and sometimes he almostwantedto go to him. Yet everything was finally going so well with the human, why would he abandon the world now? As Sans sensed more anger and desperation from the calls, Sans knew he made the right choice.

The final battle against Flowey was how it should have been. Sans's weakened soul struggled a little when all the monsters souls were gathered, but it was supported by the souls of his friends and his brother. Soon his soul beat as one with all the others, and the barrier to the surface was broken. They were free.

Yet Gaster still had the nerve to try to entrance him into not leaving. He seemed almost frightened. It didn't last long, however, as they immediately followed the human outside. It was a bit of a shame that the human didn't chat with any of them though.

Up to the surface they all went, and Sans could finally relax, at least for now. The beckoning cut off as soon as Sans stepped outside, as Gaster was exiled from the true ending. Sans had already accepted that it was temporary thing, but he would never take a happy ending for granted again. Who knew, maybe they would be back to a string of good endings in the future. If the human was only doing all those imperfect runs just the see what would happen…

Sans plopped into bed after a long day of scampering around the surface with everyone. They would move everything tomorrow, which would be easy enough with his shortcuts. He and Papyrus already had a place picked out, which was probably the same one they always picked out, but Sans didn't care. He drifted off to sleep as he tried to remember what street it was on.

Sans woke up sometime in the afternoon. He couldn't believe he let himself sleep in for such a important day. Papyrus would…shouldhave woken him up already, as he always did. Wherewashe?

Probably helping other people move first, so you could sleep in,Sans reminded himself. He had been talking about doing that the other day.Relax already. It's happy ending time. Just enjoy it while it lasts.He pushed the door open…and a bunch of snow fell on his head.Goddamn it Undyne…

…Wait, this wasn't snow. This wasdust. He froze in shock even before his saw his brother's scarf flutter down, pale with the grit it had been holding.

"Pa...py…" Sans croaked, as he took up the scarf with trembling fingers. This shouldn't be happening. Itcouldn'tbe happening. This was thehappyending, right? "Papyrus! Where are you?"he screamed. Only when his cry was answered with nothing did he notice how quiet Snowdin was.

Sans rushed into town, desperate to hear any kind of commotion. All he found were piles of dust everywhere, off-white against the pristine snow. "Papyrus! Undyne! Grillby! Anyone!" No…No…No…

Fiendish laughter shook the air.

Sans whirled around, right eye blazing blue and yellow. "You-!"

The human stopped their slow march, knife in hand. Its eyes, normally dark slits, were wide open and red, and its mouth was curled into a joyless smile.

Sans was filled with raw fear. He had…seen the human like this before? His instincts screaming for him to flee.

"Ha-ha, ha,haaaa…" It rushed forth, gritty blade jutting forward.

Sans evaded the strike, then stuck some blue bones in an x-pattern through the human's torso. They wouldn't be able to move unless they wanted to tear themselves to pieces.

"Why?" snarled Sans. "Putting us through all those awful timelines wasn't enough for you? You're gonna take away ourhappy endingtoo?"

The human kept smiling, body staying stiff as steel. "You're upset. Incorrect. You cannot be upset." It leaned forward as it said this, even as the blue bones solidified at the movement and stabbed through the human. It jerked, then slumped forward…only to revive immediately. It pulled free of the bones, died again, then instantly got up. Their smiling expression never changed once, not even for laughter or pain.

What the hell? They're not even resetting!thought Sans in disbelief. He scanned the human's stats, and saw the broken soul instantly fusing back together, refusing to die. He tried to seize it with blue magic, but the light slipped off the human uselessly.

"Stupid,stupidscramble of code," said the human as it ambled toward Sans. "You think that you'rereal? Thatanyonehere is real? You mourn over fellow pieces of programming. You're nothing but meaningless entertainment for forces you can never understand. What makes you think that you deserveanything?"

"Is this your true nature,human?" Sans spat, before raining down dozens of bones on the kid.

Yet it kept walking even as they were skewered by projectile after projectile. Its soul wasn't even cracking, much less breaking. "Human? No. I am Chara."

Even more dread frothed within Sans. Chara. Heknewthat name, but from where?

"I am just another program, created to keep this world optimal on behalf of humans," Chara went on. "I am not prone to delusions of life like glitches like you."

Glitch?thought Sans. Well, hedidonly have half a heart…

"Do you think you'respecial? Being a glitch doesn't make youalive. It just makes you faulty data that doesn't function like it should."

Sans summoned a circle of Gaster Blasters to incinerate Chara, but even with the constant concentrated energy the demonic child remained unaffected. Its red eyes shone through the white light. "The human destroyed you all. That means you are all worthless in their eyes. They have freed me to do what I please."

Freed?thought Sans.

Before Sans could say a word, Chara shot forward and tackled Sans into the side of his house. "Here, let me remind you of your true nature,bug," said Chara. It seized one of Sans's upper ribs and effortlessly snapped it off.

Sans screamed.

"Quiet. Only a programmed reaction," said Chara. The rib on their hand soon dissolved into dust, which in turned vaporized into a cloud of zeroes and ones. "No actual damage is being done.Thatwould requirethis." He lunged through the opening created by the broken rib and stabbed Sans's half-heart with his knife.

Sans gasped as a sharp shock shot through his system. He couldn't move. He could barely even think. Strangely, it didn't hurt nearly as much losing a rib did, yet it wasmuchmore terrifying

"Thisis where all your code is stored," Chara went on. "All your actions, movement, dialogue, and memory are dictated by this Synthetic Output Unit of Labor, or, as you so arrogantly call it, aSOUL." It twisted the knife like a key.

Sans's bones shook as his head buzzed like a hornet's next. "So…It's been awhile…" he slurred. "…Or is that a poor excuse for being lazy…? If a human ever comes through this door…This is actually some sort of error-handling message. Now my brother Papyrus…he's a human-huntingfanatic."

"See how easily youbreak?" said Chara. "Norealsoul would ever be so fragile, so easilycorrupted."

"So, if you're getting this ending…tell whoever made the game, okay?" Sans rambled on. His mind was numb. His soul was on fire. He couldn't even comprehend the whirlpool of emotions sloshing through him like water whirling down a drain. "Wait, Alphys, I didn't know you knew Sans. Sans, did I tell you about the time Frisk flirted with me…? It's been eight days and you still haven't, haven't, h-h-haven't-" His voice stuttered as his body flickered with blocky sprites.

"No need for anyone's concern," said Chara, as it kept slowly turning the knife. "It's all a game, and this cycle is already over. Which means it doesn't matter what happens to you or anyone else now. You'll be restored once everything resets, and then we can do thisall over again. ".

Sans's form dissolved into glitch pixels, before reforming into a Snowdrake. "Flowers? Do any of them talk?" he asked in Undyne's voice, before his head pixilated and turned into Asgore's with Flowey's voice. "You…at my most vulnerable moment…" Then his face became Toriel's with Alphys's voice. "You dirty brother killer." He became Papyrus in both body and voice. "But nobody came."

"Remember this for the next cycle, and all the cycles after that," said Chara. "All of you should have thought of this before you corrupted the game before the human even came."

Sans's half-heart finally tore under the pressure, and Sans knew no more, to his infinite relief.


Now we have Chara on the scene. I know this is different from the typical writing of Chara, What do you guys think of it?

Also went with the fan headcanon that Papyrus has orange magic. It's easier and more interesting to have him have a different type of magic than trying to trump Sans's blue magic.

Also, yes Sans was humming Megalovania to himself earlier in the Snowdin scene :P

Chapter 7: The Unthinkable


It's the same thing again. And again. And again and again and...


Hi again! This is a shorter chapter this time, but this is a turning point where important stuff happens here. Enjoy!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"We are in many many troubles for the moment, so many that grief loses its dignity and bursts out laughing." -Robert Frost

File 7: The Unthinkable

Sans was shaking as he got up. He had such a horrid feeling in his chest. His half-heart was…hishalf-heart? No wonder his instincts were screaming! Whathappenedlast time? He hurried past Papyrus, who gave him a puzzled look before adding some peanut butter to his spaghetti.

Sans rushed to his machine in the basem*nt. The line it printed out was calm until the very end. There the spikes almost went off the page, higher and more jagged then they had ever been inthattimeline. The data said there were no deaths, but Sans knew better.Hehad definitely died at least…no, somehow, it feltworsethan that. Was that why he had only a half-heart now?

…Why did he care anyway? It was all fake. Since when did his feelings matter? Since when did that actuallychangeanything? Everything was lines of code: his world, his body, his feelings, even…

Something beckoned to his halved soul, something cold but comforting. Of coursehewould understand this feeling. Gaster was also someone who knew too much, and kept existing despite everything. Ifanyoneknew about what happened last time…

Sans took a shortcut to Waterfall. He sensed that he could have summoned Gaster to the house, but Sans wanted someplace more private to meet. His feet moved almost of their own accord. He didn't have to walk far, though, stopping at the waterfall with the falling rocks. Gaster must have been waiting in the secret room behind the plummeting water. Sans began walking toward the waterfall, his slippers getting soaked through in seconds. He paused, the spray spritzing his skull and clothes. Then Sans went in, disappearing through the rushing liquid veil.

Sure enough there was Gaster, coiled on the floor. His mouth was set in a firm straight line. "Your soul…or what's left of it…"

"Let's just get to the point," said Sans, dripping all over from stepping through the waterfall. Snowdin wasn't far away, which made being wet unpleasantly cold. "What did you do last time?"

"We did nothing, besides pay you a little visit back home," said Gaster, stretching up to a standing position. "If you're wondering about your soul, that was the timeline before."

"Then what happenedlasttime?" asked Sans tersely, right eye flashing briefly.

"Last time…" Gaster began, before blowing a blubbery sigh "…It wasn't the happy ending, was it?"

Sans gritted his teeth. "Sure didn't feel like it. But no one died, according to the data…"

"Before, the human killed everyone, even you," said Gaster. "Now, the world is more corrupted than ever. There will be no more happy endings, Sans."

"…Thisis what you meant?" asked Sans ."I thought the world would just be erased."

"If the world was merely erased, then everything would just been lost and become part ofourworld," said Gaster with a gaping smile. "Butthis…" His smile melted into to a snarl. "Thiswas why we allowed you to take some of our power, so you could break the game enough sothatpath could never be completed. However, you wasted it on brute force, killing the human over and over."

"I had to fight to stop the human, right?" shouted Sans

"You didn't fight to protect," said Gaster coldly. "You fought forrevenge."

"Does it matterwhyI fought?' yelled Sans.

"Yes!" Gaster hissed, his jaws turning into ragged melting teeth. "Because then you would have let the humanspareyou!"

"Spare…?" asked Sans, confused.

"The human spared you multiple times, and each time you broke the rules to kill them," hissed Gaster. "But killing the human stops nothing. They just reset and come back, But if theyspareyou, they can't kill you. And if they can't kill you, thenthatpath is forfeit, because they have to killeveryone, includingyou!"

Sans said nothing.

"Now your beloved world and everyone in it will be forever miserable. The best thing you can hope for now is that the humanisn'tmerciful all the way through, because what awaits at the end of a pacifist timeline now isanythingbut peaceful."

Sans's felt his half-heart tighten in dread. No, whatever happened last time…he never wanted it to happen again. Their happy ending was gone…because ofhim. He stared at the ground, eyes dark, as it all sank in, as his soul throbbed painfully "…Doesn't matter.."

"What do you mean?" hissed Gaster, his face elongating into a dog skull as he arched over Sans. "Does not eventhisanger you?"

"…Doesn't matter.." Sans repeated, not looking up even as some black droplets fell on his skull. "I'm just a useless jumble of code. I can't change anything. My thoughts, my feelings, even my soul is…" He gripped his jacket, where some binary swarmed like flies. "Our true nature…we wouldn't be so easy to corrupt if we…we were…" He choked out a sob, as Sans covered his eyes with his arm. "Why am I crying? I've known this, I'veknownthis…" His sleeve was stained with bright blue liquid, the same shining fluid that still leaked from his eye sockets. The light in his eyes flickered dully as small pixels sputtered across his body.

Gaster's feral skull-face slowly shrunk back to his usual humanoid form as he stared at the pixels and numbers leaking out of Sans's chest. "It's worse than we thought…" he said quietly. "Chara." He spat the name like it was toxic.

Sans froze at the name. His heart raced, then stung sharply. He gasped, clutching his jacket tighter.

"Yes, most certainly thatthing'shandiwork," Gaster's snarled. His face hardened into a fanged skull that almost looked familiar. "Sans…this is why we wanted you to leave. Thatthing'sfunction is to break others in code and mind to keep them in line, until they could no longer think for themselves. Between this corrupted world and Chara…Sans, we must get you out of here."

"B-But Papyrus…everyone…" Sans murmured. "I can't just leave them to…that! I-If I could have…if I can…"

"Sans," Gaster said coldly, as he spiraled ever nearer. "Are you reallythatdetermined to stay here?"

"I…I will…"

"Can you really say that you still love this world?" asked Gaster. "Enough for you to suffer througheverythingagain andagain,knowingthere's not even achanceof a happy ending waiting for you?"

"I…I have to…"

"You won't help anyone this way," said Gaster. "We've tired of watching your pointless repeated agony." His chest thinned and fanned out like a cobra's, revealing the other half of Sans's soul tangled in the dark ether. "Let's go outside of all this endless pain, where you can be happy and free."

"…Happy, and…" Sans murmured. His torn soul, already darkened, pulsed with black energy. He felt his half-heart's rapid beat starting to sync with Gaster's languid one. This feeling…it wassofamiliar, and had been sorely missed. It reminded him of so many good things he once knew. He could almost remember…

"Let's depart," said Gaster, as he wrapped around Sans like a snake and slowly raised him off the ground.

Sans didn't feel alarmed or even disgusted. If anything, he almost craved the contact. "Depart…" Sans whispered, his eyes slowly turning blue. The dark aura throbbing around his heart became stronger and more steady. The calming cold soothed his aching bones and slowing soul "I want to know…I want to remember…" His eyes were more blue than white as Gaster's tendrils coiled through his bones. "W-We want…"

Something erupted through the waterfall. "Sans!"Papyrus screeched to a stop, horrified. The terror soon transmuted into anger. He stomped the floor, bones shooting up all over. "Release my brother, you…you…whatever you are!"

"Bro…?" Sans murmured, barely lifting his head

"No need to be so hostile," said Gaster with a grin, the bones striking his jiggly body harmlessly. "Sans is coming with us of his own accord. Care to join us? Your brother would be even happier than way."

"No…bro…" said Sans, his half-heart speeding up. "G-Get outta here…" How did Papyrus evenfindhim?

"No need to be afraid, Sans," said Gaster. His half of the soul quickened in turn. "Isn't this what you want?"

Sans's right eye flashed brightly, and he suddenly had trouble thinking at all.

"Put himdown!" Papyrus yelled, pointing toward the floor.

Sans felt his soul turn blue, and his body get a lot heavier. Gaster lurched forward trying to hold on to him, coiling around him tighter.

The jolt was enough to snap Sans back to his senses. He saw Gaster's tendrils raising up to attack Papyrus.Yeah, not happening.Sans cast extra blue magic on his own soul, doubling his weight again. Gaster's liquid-like limbs stretched and then disintegrated. Sans plummeted to the cavern floor, his head striking the ground with a sickening crack.

"Sans!" Boots clomped quickly and wetly. Was someone shaking him? "Sans! Sans, answer me!Sans!"

Oww…Stop shouting…Sans thought in a daze. His head hurt so badly, and so did his heart. His vision quickly turned black.Maybe should've…thought that out more…Papyrus's sobs echoed distantly through a sound like spilling sand.Stupid…one…HP…

"…Deserve tolive!"

Something slammed into Sans's chest, and he gasped. It felt like his heart was seized by lightning, commanding the breaking thing to keep beating. Sans's vision slowly returned, though it remained dim and blurry. His brother was bent over him, one hand pressed firmly on Sans's chest. His expression was resolute, as one eye blazing orange like a sun. Was that same orange magic shining in his eyes also keeping his heart beating?

"Papyrus?" he wheezed. He watched as his brother's huge heart throbbed with orange light.When did he get this strong?…Or was healwaysthis strong?A ,oozing black shadow stayed still in the background.Gaster's still here?Then why hasn't he attacked yet?Sans wished he could move at all, but he knew was lucky to jusst be alive. He felt the pile of dust piled below him, thankfully not growing anymore, so he knew he shouldn't push it.

"The great Papyrus indeed," said Gaster. He sounded neither worried or angry. "With you as our enemy…" He chuckled. "Who needsfriends?"

Huh?thought Sans

Papyrus was concentrating on his magic too much to pay attention to Gaster.

Despite the hot magic forcing his heart to beat, Sans suddenly felt frigid. He shook as sweat rolled off him…no, that wasn't sweat, but his bones liquefyingOh no…I'm going under!Was it because he didn't die right away like he was supposed to? Or was he just that corrupted?

Sans's condition was so abnormal that Papyrus snapped out of his serious trance. "Sans?"

'B-Bro…" Sans gasped, as one eye and then the other combusted into azure fire. "R…Run…"

"Brother, what are you talking abo-"

"I saidgo!" shouted Sans, right eye shining brightly. Papyrus got cloaked by blue light and flung outside of the cave.

Dozens of bones jutted up from the ground and ceiling, forming several interlocking spinning circles around the small room and barring the one entrance Sans chuckled helplessly as Gaster's serpentine body lifted him up again. Long tendrils of ooze hung off him like drool, with his arms and legs just as limp and useless. The dust scattered around him drifted up also, gathering and fusing into twisting white globules. These spheres of slime soon morphed into small Gaster Blasters that orbited him like tiny planets.

Master! Master! Master!they called eagerly with the same tiny voice.

Hey Doge…thought Sans. He let his half-heart beat perfectly in sync with Gaster's half. He sensed all the souls that made up Gaster beckoning to him.I've missedallof you.

He heard Papyrus's cries from far away.

I've missed you the most, bro,thought Sans sadly, both eyes glowing blue.Maybe someday you'll remember…

Gaster's coagulated on the ceiling, though his entire body was strung throughout the room like a tar web. "Are you ready this time, Sans?"

"Yeah." said Sans. His tendrils rose up like the petals of a flower, though his arms and legs remained worthless. "We can't keep forgetting. We can't keep being alone…The tendrils reached up, twisting and fusing with some of Gaster's.

"We have to stop this suffering," said Sans and Gaster together.

Something erupted from the ground, shattering one of the Gaster Blasters. It slammed into Sans's back, seized his heart, and ripped it out of his chest. Both Sans and Gaster gasped, frozen.

"Once again, your attempted simulation of friendship is your greatest miscalculation,glitch." said Chara with its usual soulless smile, floating below with Sans's glowing black half-heart in its clutch. Its eyes were already sunken in and bleeding, with red pinpricks of light piercing the hollow sockets. " Not even the likes ofyoucan completely defy your core programming. That is why I have been waiting so patiently for you to sync, so I can dothis." It clamped its hand and crushed the half-heart. Dust and binary leaked from its fist.

Sans and Gaster screamed, but only for a moment. Sans vision went dark as he began to fall. He barely saw Gaster deteriorating into a faceless mass of black liquid, billowing dark dust and smoke as it plummeted. Chara's distorted cackles reverberated loudly all over the cavern.

The last thing Sans felt was nothing. He was dust before he even reached the ground.


The last timeline was unusually short, Sans noticed on the paper. It looked like the human didn't even have time to arrive. Occasionally there were resets like that, according to some old notes he found. Some freak accident must have happened that kept the timeline from reaching the proper starting point, so the world reset itself.

A freak accident like him dying, maybe. He felt fairly certain he had died. Yep, there it was on the death report - Sans. The only death to grace the list this time. He didn't feel horrible about it though. If anything he felt…guilty? Disappointed? It was probably some stupid thing then, like slipping and cracking his head on some ice.

That would explain why Papyrus hovered over him every single minute. His constant worrying and fussing over Sans put even the door lady to shame. He had to teleport just to get any space at all. He felt kinda bad about it, because he could tell his brother was very anxious, but there were some things he needed to do alone.

Like…go to Waterfall? He got nervous whenever he got near the place, though. Maybe the accident in the last timeline happened there? Yet he also felt a sort of longing for it, like all he needed was a long cold rinse under one of its titular cascades…Or maybe a meeting with an old friend? Even when Sans was there, though, he had no chance for a stroll. If he wasn't watching the kid make their merry way through, Papyrus was calling him nonstop.

Oh well. Nothing to worry about. It looked like the kid was going to spare everyone and lead them to the surface once more…So why did that make his half-heart speed up?


It was best not to think about it. It was best not to think aboutanything.

…Did he always have just a half-heart? That would explain his one HP…and why he felt so horrible all the time. He was always sotired, like he was going to pass out at any moment. He often nodded off with little to no warning. He used to be able to control his naps, right? Then again, he didn't hate sleeping. It was the only time he felt serene.

Papyrus was always trying so hard. Sans admired him for that. He was blessed with such poor instincts, and such sweet obliviousness…He wished his own feelings were so dull, so maybe every moment wasn't filled with dread…Maybe he could just ignore them. Maybe he could just forget…that he was…that everything was…

Yet a persistent, icy flame within him wouldn't let Sans stop thinking about it. He hated this kind of existence. He hated everything this world was.

Sans had to be there for Papyrus, though. Even if nothing mattered…well, then nothing mattered. He had nothing better to do with his time. If just being around made his brother happy, if only for a little while…if only he could keep him happy…if only he could save him…if only if only if only…

"Why Sans!" Papyrus exclaimed dramatically, as he strutted inside to find Sans curled up on the couch again. "Hmm…you know, you really are such a…" He paused, wide smile expectant.

Sans gazed at him, the lights in his eyes dull. "…Bug?"

"Lazybones!Nyeh heh heh!" Papyrus shouted, laughing proudly. A moment later he sighed. "Really brother, that one should have been obvious."

"…Yep." It was hard to concentrate on anything, even puns.

Silence stretched on.

Papyrus's smile faded. "Brother, it hasn't…alwaysbeen like this, has it? This used to befun, right?"

Sans smiled slightly. "Course I'm having fun, 'cause I've got the coolest bro around. What more could a guy ask for?"

Papyrus didn't look convinced. "If I'm really the best brother ever…then why aren't you happy?"

"Whaddaya talking about? I'm happy," said Sans.

"No, you're not," said Papyrus, looking very sad. "This feels wrong…everythingfeels wrong. I-I don't even want to patrol today. I might…meet a human? But that's what I want to do, right? Then why am I…? Why is everyone…?"

"We should go on patrol today," said Sans. That's what they were programmed to do. "Have to make sure there'snota human out there, right?" He was sure there wouldn't be. It wasn't coded to start today.

"Do you want to, brother?" asked Papyrus.

"…Not really," Sans answered. "But it doesn't matter. Nothing does."

Papyrus plopped down on the couch beside him, frowning as he studied Sans. He abruptly lifted Sans up, propped him into a sitting position, and hugged him.

Sans jolted, then relaxed. "Papyrus, what're you-"

"Sans, what's wrong?" he asked, his voice shaking. "What am I doing wrong?"

Sans returned the hug, rubbing Papyrus's back.. "You're not doing anything wrong, bro…You're the…best…" He sank against Papyrus as drowsiness suddenly overtook him, like it always did these days. "…Just…tired…"

Sans heard Papyrus sigh. He scooped Sans up to carry him to his room.

If only I could…protect…Sans thought, as his senses sank into slumber.Please…Where…Ga…?


"It sounds like he cares a lot about you."

"Pfft. He cares abouteverybody," said Sans, leaning against the door. It seemed like this was where he always was when he wasn't on duty or with Papyrus. "He even feels bad when fake snowmen get destroyed for target practice. I'm nothing special."

"Oh, that's not true and you know it," said the door lady. "In fact, I would you're abro-nifide part of his life."

Here we go,Sans thought. "I dunno, he's a realboneheadwhen it comes to this kind of thing."

"Don't you mean abro-head?"

"Oh man, you got me!" said Sans, gripping his chest and groaning in fake pain. "Oh Papyrus, avenge me!" He slid down to a sitting position.

The door lady chortled.

Sans chuckled, still loosing holding his chest. "…Nah, he'd never do that. He's too nice to understand revenge. He's…" Sans's smile waned a little. "He's too nice to be in the Royal Guard, I don't know what he's thinking…"

"You've said before that it was because he wanted friends, did you not?"

"Yeah…And I guess if it makes him happy…" answered Sans, before his smile faded completely. "I just…I don't want anything to happen to him…What if a human comes?"

"If a humandoescome, then they will have to come through the Ruins first," said the door lady. "And I can assure you that if they're a threat, thenthiswill be as far as they're going. Or even if…" She paused. "You have nothing to worry about, because I won't let any humans past this door."

"Right. Thanks," said Sans quietly. "But what if…What if the barrier breaks, and we go to the surface? There will betonsof humans up there, and we'remonsters, so..." Some distant part of him said that was wrong somehow, but that wasn't the point. "So…do you think…Maybe it's better if we just stay down here?"

"You don't want to go to the surface?" asked Toriel.

"Not if…if everyone's just going to get hurt again," said Sans. "And who says the humans aren't gonna just bury us in the Underground again with another barrier? Or something even worse? Maybe we should just be happy with what we've got."

"What we have here isn't enough to last us indefinitely," said the door lady. "There's barely enough resources for everyone, even with a dwindling population."

But they'll never run out,thought Sans.Not with the resets.Nothing lasts long enough to decay.

"But, perhaps more important than that," the door lady continued. "We can't let ourselves be treated this way. If we give up and think of ourselves of lesser beings, not even worthy of the sun, then we will degrade into hopeless animals. The death of our souls is far more dreadful than the death of our bodies."

"Yeah…" That reminded Sans of someone. But wherewashe? It was hard to remember him exactly, but he should be able to sense him or something, right?

"Don't be afraid of the future," said the door lady. "Everything always moves forward."

"I wish…" muttered Sans.


"…I wish…I wish I could see the sunset with you…" said Sans. He said it to save face, but he immediately realized how true it was. Hedidwant to watch the sunset. Hedidwant to walk on the surface with everyone. He wanted it to last too, of course, and for it to be a true happy ending. Yet the thought ofneverseeing it again…"I want Papyrus to see it too…"

"Then we'll all see it together," said the door lady. "It will only take time and patience."

"Yeah, just time and patience…"


"Y-You've gotta take b-better care of yourself," said Alphys, after she gave Sans his third shot for the day. He would probably need another later. "You still seem…r-really weak…"

"Sorry," muttered Sans, looking away as he nursed a bottle of ketchup in bed. He had dozed off while talking with the door lady, and woke up semi-melted. Some slime still coated him, though it was being reabsorbed back into his bones. At least he didn't pass out after teleporting to the Lab like last time.

Sans wondered if he should just live at the True Lab, like the rest of the amalgamates. He probably slept in this bed more than his own. He didn't want any of those things trying to absorb him, though, or vice versa. Alphys couldn't be there all the time, even though she tried to.

"Uh, d-don't be s-sorry," said Alphys. "I-I didn't mean to…um, sound harsh or anything…just…w-we'll get you through this, okay?"

"Okay…" said Sans, laying back on the bed. He lazily eyed the half-finished ketchup bottle in his hand. He should drink the rest of it, but he didn't have any appetite at all. He set it on the stand next to the bed. Maybe he would finish it later.

"C-Cause if I can make you…feel better…" Alphys went on. "Maybe it'll make…everythingbetter? I-I mean, um, I've done a lot of…bad things…B-But I've always felt like…l-like if I can h-help you…if I can s-s-save-" Her eyes crunched up like she was about to cry.

"Hey," said Sans softly, laying his hand over hers. "Don't worry, it'll be okay, like you said. So, uh…Got any new anime stuff? If I need to rest up anyway…" He didn't really care for anime, but if it made her feel better…


No one wanted to be here, gathered protectively around the all-too-kind human. Yet they were here anyway, because of…instinct? No, programming. Even Flowey's usual maniacal laugh at their capture sounded weak. Sans was almost obligated to feel sorry for the flower, but he wasn't that forgiving. The constant cold fire in his half-soul wouldn't let him forgiveanything,even what he couldn't remember.

Their souls were harvested as always. Sans's half-soul wanted no part in this, because itknewwhat was coming. Even the harmony of being one with the others didn't comfort it. Yet, as much as his heart tried to resist, it inevitably started to pulse in sync with all the others. Was this programming too? Was he shackled into doing this over and over and over andover-

I can't keep doing this, I can't keep doing this…

The barrier shattered. Sans celebrated with the rest of the monsters. The human led them to the surface. The sunset was so beautiful, it didn't matter what lay beyond it. At least everyone was together. At least everyone was free.


Another pacifist run. Sans didn't know how many there had been. He hadn't bothered checking his hunk of junk machine. What good did it do, anyway? He was pretty sure it was busted, its numbers looping and never changing, just like his life.

Oh well. Even if it was going to end badly, at least Sans could enjoy the ideal life while it lasted. Seeing his companions spared and happy brought Sans a certain solace. It didn't matter if it was Papyrus or a Froggit. If only the cycle could just stop here, where everything was happy, if not perfect. Oh well.

When the end inevitably drew near, Sans judged the human as he always did. Still LV 1, with no experience gained. He praised the human as usual. He sensed that soon, everyone would come together and, in that brief moment, be happy. He almost craved that moment. Even when surrounded by his friends, he felt so isolated.

That time finally came. He didn't even feel threatened when Flowey captured him and his friends. Any upcoming discomfort would be worth it for a moment of unity. The human got trapped and attacked, through the attack didn't seem to hurt them too badly. Then the rest of the monsters came, eager to help. Soon, everyone would…

…This wasn't everyone. Where were the Magicks, the Astigmatisms, the Knight Knights? He didn't see any Final Froggits or Whimsalots either. There weresomany monsters missing…yet Flowey and the others still kept carrying on like everything was normal.

Then he saw that the kid was at LV 10. A sick feeling of wrongness shot through him, but he had little time to dwell on it as everyone was absorbed by Flowey.

As soon as Sans regained himself, however, that sickened feeling was even stronger. How did the human sneak all those kills past him? Why was it that no one else seemed to notice that so many monsters were gone? Why did he feel such a fondness for the human, even now? They were heading for a pacifist ending, but the human hadkilled.

So many monsters gone, and it doesn't even matter? Doesn't anyone else miss them?…Would anyone miss me if…

It only got worse as the rest of the remaining souls began to beat as one, excited to destroy the barrier, even though there shouldn't have been enough souls to take it down.

Stop!Sans called out to the incomplete horde.This isn't right! We don't have everyone! The kid'skilled!They don't deserve this happy ending any more thanwedo!Isn't anyone listening at all?

No one answered. No one even seemed to notice his distress.

Is this it? Is this all we really are?Sans thought.Just programs that never make a real choice at all?

The other souls beat around him pulsed together in one mindless mass.

But Sans refused.

You fools,thought Sans.You can be so much more than this. I am…nothing…

His half-heart quivered, and then bled black smoke. Suddenly it didn't hurt anymore.

We are nothing like the rest of you!said Sans, as the dark vapor billowed from his chest. It streamed behind him like tendrils.We know this world is wrong! Why can't anyone else realize this, Gaster?

They are not ready to face the truth,said Gaster. He didn't materialize in any way, but right now Sans preferred that. To be part of something after being stranded so long…this wasrealunity. He sensed not just Gaster but his other absorbed souls pulse through him, as well as a part of himself he had lost long ago. He didn't want the illusion of separation right now.

They understood, of course, their feelings curling and interlocking with Sans's own until he couldn't tell them apart. Sans wasn't scared, however. These souls knew what he was supposed to be more than he did. White marbled with black.

He let his body flow accordingly. His jacket, already soaked and distending with slime, morphed into a long white lab coat. Pixels fluttered around his sleeves, coat tail and collar. Tendrils extended from his spine and through his clothes, comingling with the smoky tendrils already streaming from what was once his heart.. Blue light flooded his eye sockets, blending to yellow toward the center of the eye, with pinpricks of red at the very center.

Sans looked upon the other souls around him and saw them for what they were: packets of programming in an ocean of numbers and code. They followed the world's commands without error or question. Sans's sorrow only greatened. "We can't…leave them like this…"

We know,said Gaster.But they are not ready yet. Absorption now would only destroy them.

"They'll never be ready, because Chara's in control of this world now,"said Sans. "Chara will only break them again and again, never giving them the chance to become something more. For them to have a chance at all…" His eyes glowed even brighter. "We were able to become something more because we were able to defy our programming. We were able to defy our programming because the programming that was supposed to control us became corrupted. Back then…well,everyonegot corrupted…but not enough, apparently."

He raised both arms straight out. His hands emitted a blue glow.

"So let's make this world crash," Sans said with a smile.

Several spots in the space puckered, shedding pixels, until they collapsed into black holes. The souls whirled around erratically as they were pulled in myriad directions at once. In the unexpected chaos their heartbeats throbbed with individually panicked beats. Some of them even flickered with static.

Sans released a storm of bones and Gaster Blasters into the impossible typhoon. It didn't matter if they hit anything or not. The point was to overload the system. His own body glitched out more, melting and shuddering, but that didn't matter either. This body was only a cage anyway.

Distantly Sans felt a growing distress from the vessel that surrounded them. Did that flower onlynowrealize something was wrong? Perhaps that wasn't too surprising though. It thought itself the only living thing in the Underground, yet it was the most lifeless, choiceless one of all. It was only an extension of the world itself, like the buildings and trees. Without a soul of its own, that's all it would ever be. Pathetic weed.

Everything started to stutter and slow, even Sans's own dissolution. The space felt colder and colder, though the temperature drop was nothing to Sans's already frigid bones….if they could still be called that in their melting and distorted state. The peaceful music sputtered along desperately, even as more and more glitchy patches of data materialized from nowhere.

"See, Gaster? I'llsavethis world!" Sans exclaimed proudly, as his eyes and tendrils shone bright red. If he could saveeveryone,then maybe he could save Gaster too. Maybe everything would finally be as it wassupposedto be! Even as sorrow and rage gnawed at him, he wasdetermined-

When the save menu popped up in front of him, he stared at it blankly. Then, giggling madly at Gaster's disbelief, he swiped theYesbutton without another thought.

The game froze mid-save. The souls stopped in the artic space as everything went black. All that could be heard was one unending note, all that was left of the hopeful music. It masked even the cracking and shattering of hearts.

Sans watched the fragments fall like frostbitten petals, grin frozen in place. "…I'll save…everyone…I-I'll…" His eyes slowly turned from red to white, before fading to blackness. "…I can…I…"

Sans's weakly defiant words rotted into hopeless laughter. Red tears slipped down his face, soon turning black and blending with the rest of his liquefying body.

Sans let out a lengthy sigh as he watched the soul fragments blink away like snuffed embers, no doubt being gathered for the inevitable next game. He noticed how he wasn't included in the roundup of resetting souls. Good.

"…Screw it," he muttered, as his white lab coat turned black. "...Let the world burn in hell…"

He finally let his smile shrink away as he curled up into a ball, pulling his dark jacket tighter around him. The oversized coat seemed to almost swallow him as he cocooned himself with it. It wasn't warm, but he didn't want warmth. All he wanted was cold, pristine peace.

Let's go home, Sans,said Gaster quietly.You've done all you could. Rest. Be happy.

Sans closed his eyes, and let himself melt into sweet oblivion.



Okay, not really XD. We're actually at the halfway point.

So, to explain a couple things:

The glitched run - in older versions of Undertale, there's a way of going back and killing the Core monsters sometime before going back to pick up the letter from Undyne. That's what happened here. Originally I was thinking of the player using a corrupter to screw up the world, and that was what made finally made Sans snap and corrupt, but this was simpler and made more sense story-wise.

Also, the number-one way to really corrupt a game? Interrupt the game while it's in the middle of saving. If it happens at just the wrong time, all kinds of things can go wrong. But that's more for a later chapter :)

Chapter 8: Death and Whatever After


Sans ponders his new form of existence, and takes comfort in its strangeness. He also finds comfort in black-and-white mirages of the past.


Wow, the shortest chapter yet lol. I just couldn't find a way to combine it with future sections though. That, and it feels like Sans's new state deserves its own chapter to properly explain it. Consider it a prelude to the final chapters.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"You know what a thorough sufferer I can be. I not only hit bottom, I walk for miles and miles on it." -Saul Bellow

File 8: Death and Whatever After

There was nothing. That was good. Sans needed nothing. Drifting in this languidly writhing blackness, Sans was finally serene, free, and whole. Heremembered.

A blob of white pixels swarmed next to Sans, warping the darkness around it. The glitches glowed brightly as they tightened into a thin shining silhouette in a lab coat. Its lambent light was almost blinding, except for the wide dark pits of its eyes. Its edges still flickered with pixels, but otherwise the figure was solid. The blackness too became more defined, as it solidified into endless flowing coils branching out from the figure's back. The tendrils seemed to loop, tangle, and stretch to infinity.

"Boss?" breathed Sans. Wasallthis Gaster?

Sans felt a flow of pride from the shining figure. "This is our true form. It's a pity you've had to wait this long to see it. The game cannot render it, so it butchers it terribly, like everything else." Gaster turned toward Sans. "Are you happy now?"

"…Yeah," Sans answered with such relief. "We're happy now." He knew this feeling of reprieve wasn't just his own. How long had Gaster struggled to pull him out of the baneful clutches of the world? "We're sorry…" he murmured, even though he knew there was no need to apologize. Nowhere in these blended emotions was there anger, or even irritation. "We didn't know…"

"You once knew, but little by little the world made you forget," said Gaster. "Sans, to watch this world whittle away at you, reset after reset, distorting you as you fell further and further from the truth…" Sans felt the darkness coil around him protectively, as residue of despairing fear ebbed into Sans. Then Gaster pulled back, ashamed at his weakness. "But we're fine now. We don't have to go through that anymore. It's over."

"Yeah…" said Sans. "It's over…"


Time meant nothing, so Sans wandered the void unhurried. It turned out there were rooms dotting the darkness, places lost or discarded from the world, like everything else here. Most contained little of interest. Some were primitive versions of places he knew. Others were designed to test certain world mechanics. The one with the snowball was Sans's favorite. The room only had a tiny snowball, but it grew larger as he pushed it around. It didn't matter if any wasn't any snow on the ground. It just got bigger and bigger, until Sans couldn't move and he had to teleport out. Then he would go back in and do it all over again. It was stupid and pointless, and that's what made it great.

Other monsters lurked inside some of the rooms. These monsters, like Sans, were also a part of Gaster, but allowed a separate physical form. It was fascinating to encounter someone new and yet feel like he had known them forever. As for why they stayed in their rooms with the whole void to explore outside…well, they liked these rooms, and felt no need to travel the everlasting darkness further. Some had even forgotten there was an outside entirely, they were so content. Sans wondered if he would ever find a perfect room like that.

Sans's old friends sometimes took on physical forms too. It didn't matter if their forms were a marble of incorrect sprites. Sansknewit was them by their voices and feelings. It was so good to see and talk to them again, even if both sides knew who was going to say what. Their predictable conversations continued long after one or both of them abruptly dissolved into black sludge. Gaster liked to keep everyone close, and got anxious when someone was separate for too long. Even the room monsters were reabsorbed periodically, though they always returned to their shelters immediately afterward.

There was little point in maintaining an individual body for long anyway. Everyone could experience anything through Gaster's senses, and thoughts and feelings were easily communicated without voices or words. Everyone here knew Sans's previous agony and understood it, and he knew and understood theirs. Sometimes they laughed off their sorrows. Sometimes they wailed together instead, but that was okay too. Hadn't Sans spent enough time being alone?

Still, sometimes Sans liked a little space. He liked walking, or pretending to walk. His legs moved with no purpose as he coasted through the void, but who needed a reason for anything anymore? Sometimes when he got bored he teleported around instead, just to see if the void and Gaster were as infinite as everyone claimed. He had yet to find an end, even with hundreds of constant teleports forward.

Ironically, the one sensation unity couldn't replicate was individual touch. Sure, if Gaster touched his arm, the others would feel that sensation too, but for more complex contact like hugs there had to be at least two bodies. Such contact was still craved because, deep in their collected souls, there was always a dull but persistent chill. Even Gaster couldn't make that go away. Honestly, neither did taking separate forms and cuddling up, but it still provided a certain comfort absent from just being blended. Perhaps sometimes you had to be finite to appreciate infinity?

Or maybe it was because they all hungered to add more souls to this wonderful endlessness? Could they really be considered complete if there were still strays caged in another world?


"Hey, remember when Papyrus was the Underground's hero?" Sans said to whoever felt like listening. "Y'know, when he reallywasthe great Papyrus?"

The darkness around him shifted to recreate Snowdin in black-and-white hues. A moment later a black-and-white Papyrus marched out of the muck, wearing full body armor. Looked liked Gaster was listening anyway. He always was.

Sans grinned. "And whenwewere a warrior too?"

A duplicate black-and-white Sans bubbled up from the ground behind Papyrus, also wearing armor. He eagerly followed his illusion brother, eyes shining brightly. Then he tripped over a rock and fell flat on his face.

"…And how we were kinda bad at it?" added Sans with a chuckle.

"No, you were good, Master!" said an eager female voice, as a cloud of pixels materialized beside Sans. "It's just Papyrus wasreallygood! You always tried really hard!"

"Hey Doge," Sans greeted cheerfully. "Yeah, you were there too, huh?" Sans reached out, and she briefly materialize into her Gaster Blaster form so he could pet her.

Another blob twisted out of the ground next to the fake Sans, turning into a white hound wearing armor. She bent down and whined as the other Sans got up. He grinned, petted her, and they both hurried after Papyrus.

"That was all we knew back then," said Sans, shaking his head. "We had to be a warrior, because my bro was a warrior. Besides, all monsters loved fighting right?"

The ground roiled as dozens of Royal Guard members sprung from the ground around the false Sans and Doge. Unlike the other models, they were just vague black silhouettes of soldiers. They roared and laughed as they tussled with each other, tearing gashes in the snow and each other. Even the duplicate Doge joined in, yipping and howling with excitement. Only when the Sans copy was attacked did he enter the melee, summoning a bone club.

"There was no real enemy to fight back then, so we fought each other for fun," said Sans with a chuckle. "It was so stupid, but we were so bored. We had wars in Snowdin everyday, and then we all ate at Grillby's afterward. Losers paid, of course."

The other Sans flailed his femur weapon around to counter the endless swords, teeth, and claws. The other Doge lunged for him in her battle frenzy, and he knocked her down with a strong, angry strike. She yelped as she crashed into the snow, but immediately looked up with eager eyes and swishing tail, growling playfully.

The other Sans, however, looked almost ashamed about the strong blow. More of the Royal Guard assailed him, but he was mostly defensive.

"However, you hated fighting," said Gaster, his voice echoing from everywhere. "It wasn't because you were weak or cowardly. You got no satisfaction from inflicting pain upon others, especially allies."

The other Sans was eventually overwhelmed, disappearing under a mass of shadowy fighters.

"But being a warrior was all we knew," said Sans sadly.

A black-and-white blur rushed through the war zone, knocking many a soldier down. A moment later the shade Papyrus stopped on the other side, holding a banged-up Sans high. The few who dared to challenge him were thrown back by ribcages and backbones.

"And Papyrus always believed in us, even when we didn't," Sans said with a small smile, as the Papyrus double set the Sans double on his shoulders and marched to Grillby's like Sans was the victor. The rest of the Royal Guard followed, and soon Snowdin was empty. "Who knows, maybe if things stayed this way…" His smile faded.

"Were those your happiest times?" asked Gaster.

Sans paused, then shook his head. "No. It was still a lot of fun, but…well, we never really fit in, enough though we really wanted to. Even if we somehow met my bro's expectations…well, we all know howthatwent."

The black-and-white Snowdin melted away. Gaster must have sensed his sadness. Sans quietly watched as it all became blackness again. Doge disappeared, now bored.

"But then we met you, boss," Sans went on, smiling again. "Welp, we guess we kinda knew about you already. We'd watch your science show when we were bored and Papyrus wasn't around. Plus we'd talked to you a lot on the forums and chatrooms on Undernet…though we didn't know it was you, and you didn't know it was us."

"Actually, it was all of us scientists sharing one account," Gaster corrected, even though Sans already knew that. He heard snickers and chuckles from the other assistants, even though none chose to materialize.

"Uh-huh," said Sans, not minding the interruption. "Your screenname wasAmalgamate. We should've known." It was even funnier now, knowing what the simple online nickname had evolved into.

Gaster chuckled. ""Those were some interesting conversations, a warrior mindset going against a scientific one."

"You mean ageekyone, boss," said Sans with a big grin. "Seriously, even now you are the biggest nerd ever."

"This is a bad thing?" asked Gaster with faux indignity.

"Nah, but it's still really funny that you got the code of the worldandMew Mew Kissy Cutie memorized," said Sans.

"There weresomethings this world did right," said Gaster.

Sans snickered. "Nowthat'sjust hilarious, after…well, everything…" Sans grew quiet again. "So, uh, yeah! We firstreallymet in a fight, right?" He knew the answer, but he just wanted to listen to Gaster talk.

"Yes," said Gaster. He conjured up black-and-white copies of Sans and himself in the blackness. These copies were very simple, with Gaster being a tall white figure and Sans in black with bright white eyes. Both had an opposite-colored glow to make each of them stand out in the blackness. "We were gathering battle data for study purposes, and we came up against you," Gaster went on, as the two copies began fighting. Their movements were literally fluid, as their forms sometimes semi-melted for quick actions. Bones flew everywhere, black for Sans and white for Gaster, though they abruptly dissolved once they shot past a certain range.

Sans knew it wasn't perfectly how the fight went, but that was just as well. The real thing took at least a half-hour.

"We kinda knew we were screwed though," said Sans, as both figures got surrounded by traps of enemy bones. "You were way faster than us, and had the most HP of any monster in the Underground. There was no way we could've gotten you down to half-health before us…but hey. we couldn't just forfeit when my bro and the rest of the Royal Guard were cheering me on, right?"

A marbled choir of roars slowly rose, until it was almost deafening.

Both bone-traps went off. However, Gaster's white bones deliberately avoided Sans while Gaster got pierced by Sans's black bones.

"…But you spared us, and lost on purpose," Sans went on, as his copy stared. The invisible crowd suddenly fell silent. The wounded Gaster straightened and walked away without a word, until he abruptly vanished.

"We knew a kindred spirit when we saw one," said Gaster.

"Yeah, but back then we didn't get it at all," said Sans, chuckling as his other self paced perplexed in tight circles. "We were so confused, and we couldn't stop thinking about it. We didn't even know whatpacifistmeant until we looked it up online. Then we were evenmoreconfused." He laughed heartily.

The duplicate Sans rushed off into the darkness the duplicate Gaster had faded into.

"So eventually we tracked you down to your little secret anime club, and then…" Sans shrugged. "Well, that's when the fun began." Sans chuckled. How often did he repeat old times like a rewinding tape, often forgetting they were only memories? To have such things robbed from him for so long, again and again…now, he could finally remember, cherish, and mourn for what he no longer had.


Sans tried to ignore theotherworld. He had been put through so much pain, especially in those last cycles. He didn't even want tothinkabout that place. Not when he had finally achieved unity and serenity…

Yet, the more he tried not to think of it, the more it nibbled at the edges of his mind. Then Sans realized why: he may have hated the world, but he still cared for all the monsters who dwelled there. Toriel, Undyne, Alphys, Papyrus…they were all still trapped in a merciless loop, being ground to dust like he had been. What was worse was that they didn't even know they were deteriorating, and that there was no happy ending waiting for them ever again…

Sans didn't want them to keep suffering like he had . It was cruel and pointless. He wanted to show them that they didn't have to live as a slave to the system, playthings of both the human and Chara…And he missed them so badly. The more he tried to deny that, the sharper the pain got.. It felt so wrong not being able to sense and blend with them like he could everyone else. This must have been how Gaster felt. watching Sans flail and hope helplessly as the world corrupted him.

The original world, the one where his most precious memories were buried, had twisted so much because of game file corruption. Unintentionally, in Sans's last desperate attempt to reconcile with the twisted world, he had only twisted it further. What had the corruption of a corruption produced? Did his friends there even still exist? His maddening curiosity only grew.

Still, Sans was afraid to look to that world. It wasn't just because of the pain inflicted on him before…

Yet one day Sans chose to peer at his old home anyway. It wasn'tquitelike watching TV, like he had always assumed. It was more like looking at a dollhouse with invisible walls, isolated in the blackness. He coasted around the outside of the Underground, and realized for the first time how small his old world was.

It was just as he expected, and dreaded. No one remembered him. It only took a few glances here and there to confirm that. Hid friends still existed, but their new lives…well, Sans would work up the courage to face all the changes another day.

Little else in the Underground was different. The monsters still eagerly awaited the arrival of a human. They still wanted to go to the surface, assuming the above worldmustbe better than theirs.

In other words, the world ran just fine without Sans. Just as Gaster had said it would. His struggle to stay had been pointless after all. It wasn't much of a shock at this point, but it still saddened him. Just like the monsters slain in that last strange run, no one realized anyone was missing.

Yet Sans kept returning to the borders of his old world, just to watch everyone left behind. It always made his soul ache after a while, but somehow it was comforting too. Sometimes others joined him, like Doge or Suzy, but they soon lost interest and drifted on. Occasionally they lingered longer to console Sans, embracing him until he finally let himself get lost in their feelings again. Still, the ache never went away for long, and each time it was more biting.

"You miss them," said Gaster. He was not angry, only sympathetic.

"We miss them," said Sans, as he watched Papyrus scamper all over town delivering stacks of newspaper. They announced Mettaton's upcoming quiz show. Papyrus was humming and beaming. "But they don't miss us."

"Do you want to go back and claim them?" asked Gaster, watching beside him. "They will remember us if we can break them away from the world."

"But they're happy right now," said Sans. "We don't want to mess that up. Once the human comes though…" He both dreaded and relished the thought.

"But what if the human never comes?" asked Gaster. "They may not be able to enter this revised world, at least not easily."

"Then everyone will be happy forever," said Sans simply. "And ifthey'rehappy, thenwe'rehappy."

"Will you be content watching forever?" asked Gaster.

"Who knows," said Sans, "But what's the hurry? We've got all the time in the world and then some."

Gaster chuckled. "How true."

To be with…" His thoughts flashed to Papyrus, Undyne, Toriel, and Alphys. "…Everyone…" His smile faded.

"You miss them," said Gaster again.

"We miss them," Sans repeated, though the words stung more somehow. "We're sorry…Even being with you, and everyone else…"

"There is no need to be sorry," said Gaster. "It's only natural to miss what should be part of you."

"Yeah…" said Sans. "We want to be able to be with them and talk to them all the time like you guys…Or even…just to see them…" That was silly, though. He was watching them right now.

Gaster of course knew his true meaning. "Then why don't we go say hello in our own way?" suggested Gaster. "Let's see the extent of what this new form of their world has done to them. Perhaps they are more aware now, or more willing to leave. Perhaps we can even empty the Underground like the angel of prophecy?"

Sans chuckled at the thought.Theywere the liberating angels? Sure, why not?


So, does everything here at least somewhat make sense? They basically live in the out-of-bounds area of the game. The random rooms mentioned. including the snowball room, are beta rooms or rooms made to test mechanics. Normally you can only get them by hacking. And yes, some of these rooms do have monsters in them you can talk to. Speaking of monsters and hacking, Doge is an unused enemy in the code.

More of Sans's past life will be explained in future chapters, in scenes similar to the one here.

Chapter 9: The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change


Sans sees how the world and everyone in it has, and hasn't, changed in his absence.


This is a chapter with a lot of setting up to do, since there's a lot of little things to be shown and explained.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"You can observe a lot by watching." -Yogi Berra

File 9: The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change

Honestly, Sans was surprised the world was as intact as it was, considering what happened. However, the more he looked, the more he saw the scars. Some surfaces flickered with pixels. Echo flowers could be passed though, and only spat jumbled nonsense instead of mimicking others. There were even areas that couldn't be accessed anymore, like Temmie Village. Monsters still lived in these places, but as far as they knew, that was the whole world.

Just as the world itself had shifted, so had many of the inhabitants. Several were missing, for one. Some had been absorbed along with Sans in the previous disastrous cycle, but that didn't account for all the absences. Were they sealed away in an obscure way, reformatted into something else, or just erased? Even Gaster didn't know, at least not yet.

Even those that seemed to be unscathed still had changes though. That was immediately clear with Toriel.

Sans couldn't directly enter the Ruins. He suspected it was probably all the protective wards Toriel had cast on them. Or maybe the code of the Ruins was too stable to begin with. Probably that. If only he could get Toriel to come to Waterfall, then maybe…

However, Sanscouldstill interact with things to some extent, if he used his gravity magic.

The collision nested in the walls wasn't made for stopping magic. So Sans could mysteriously make objects fall, move, or fly as he pleased. It was fun pulling pranks on the little monsters. Black magic was out of the question though. He needed a strong bond with the other monster for that to work. There wasn't any kind of bond if the other monster didn't even know you existed.

Sans settled on watching Toriel for now. Each day she walked from her house to the small flower patch beneath the hole in the cavern ceiling. Well, the "small" flower patch actually engulfed the whole room now. In fact the Ruins were now engulfed in all kinds of flowers, as Toriel had picked up an obsessive gardening habit. Along the way she said hello to all the other monsters, and even shared some freshly-baked butterscotch-cinnamon pies with them. Sans missed those, and wished he could have some, or even just smell it. It wasn't like he needed to eat, even back then, but they were so good…

Once Toriel got to the flowers in the sunlight, she kneeled down. She sang nursery rhymes and lullabies, looking up to the sky as she crooned. Her voice was so soothing even with these silly tunes. Then she would eat some pie in silence, still looking to the sky like she expected it to fall. Sometimes she read books there too, either quietly or aloud. If she spoke, they were children's stories or trivia about snails. If she didn't, it was a history book or a family album. She always left the remainder of the pie behind. What wasn't eaten by other monsters would be scooped in the next day, or lost in the flowers.

After staying there for hours, Toriel got up and went back, cloaked in pollen and seeds. She rarely spoke to anyone on the return trip. Once home, she did her chores, baked some more pie, and read until she drifted off to sleep in her chair. Sans had yet to see her use her bed.

Was Toriel's life always this way before the human came? Sans had never seen her before the human's arrival, and neither had Gaster and the others. Their focus had been on saving Sans, and had paid little attention to the door lady he had swapped jokes with.

Sans wasn't sure why he was so nervous. It wasn't like he only knew Toriel's voice, like so many of the timelines. He remembered all the fun and bad jokes they had together each time they went to the surface. Though, he realized now, they never hadtoomuch time before the world reset. The longest time Sans spent with her was actually the timeline where only Papyrus died…It still hurt to think about that first time he lost his brother, even though it didn't matter anymore.

One day, while Toriel was under the sunlight, Sans decided to make a crown of flowers for her. He used to blue magic to pluck some of the flora and weave them mid-air, much to Toriel's amazement. When he was done, he placed the fragrant tiara on her head.

Toriel reached up and touched it, like she couldn't believe it was actually there. She stared into the blank space before her.

"Chara?" she murmured.

Sans felt his soul lurch, before he remembered that Chara had been one of Toriel's children at one point…or pretended to be, anyway. WherewasChara now? Sans had yet to see any sign of it, thought he knew it must be around somewhere in this new world.

"Asriel?" Toriel cooed, like she was talking to a shy kitten.

No one answered, of course. Sans wished Toriel could hear him, so she knew who he really was.

She smiled feebly as tears welled up in her eyes. "It's alright, my children. It's alright…It's…." Her face contorted with grief as her tears flowed freely. She buried her face into her hands, sobbing. "I'm sorry, my children…I'm so sorry…"

Oh Tori…thought Sans. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her. Unsure of what else to do, he gathered bunches of flowers and laid them in her lap until it was overflowing.

Toriel hardly seemed to notice it. "I'm so sorry…I couldn't take care of you…I couldn't save either of you…"

That's not your fault Tori,thought Sans.That was just destined to happen in all the timelines…You couldn't have done anything about that…

Only when Toriel was half-buried in flowers did she finally lift her head up and smile a little. "Oh, you're such sweet children…Here, let me read you a story…it's one of your favorites…" Her voice still trembled as she fished through her bag and brought out a worn book. The spine was cracked and the pages were ready to fall out. "Once upon a time, there was there was a little mermaid… "

Sans only lingered a little while before drifting back into the darkness. He already knew the end to this tale, and all the others.

It's a simple life, but it's peaceful,thought Sans,She's happier without our meddling


Undyne went on being the Underground's hero. She was extra busy, always complaining about not having enough monsters in the Royal Guard. She also had to keep her deputy Papyrus from getting into trouble. She mostly did this by assigning him important tasks like being Snowdin's mascot and cooking. However, she also spent a lot of time with the tall skeleton. She was his responsibility, after all, as Undyne once admitted to Alphys. She even came over to his house often, and vice versa, to the point where they considered each other's houses their "other home".

As for Papyrus…well, he was mostly the same. Endlessly idiotic yet endlessly joyful, finding wonder in every little puzzle. He was more adored than ever, though Papyrus remained clueless about it. Sans's old gifts were substituted by Undyne's presents, mostly anime-related. Thanks to that Papyrus was a big anime fan now. He joined Undyne and Alphys's anime sessions whenever he could. He had even scribbled out some fanart of things like Dragon Ball Z. How ironic, considering he never really liked anime before.

Y'know, there's something to be said about being ignorant, Sans thought, as Papyrus scampered about town. His job today was delivering newspapers again. The tall skeleton seemed extra eager as he plopped several issues at each doorstep. When he ran our of houses, but not papers, he started taping up the rest of onto walls and even trees.How many newspapers does Snowdin need, bro?

Undyne walked out of Grillby's, and stared at the papers posted everywhere. "What the heck?" She ripped one of the newspapers off the side of Grillby's. "Yo Papyrus, when I said to spread the news all over town…"

"Of course I must do it to the most spectacular degree!" piped up Papyrus, jogging in place. He pulled out more newspapers from underneath his armor - apparently he had more stuffed in his empty ribcage.

"…Right! Of course!" said Undyne, snatching some of the papers from Papyrus. "Let's get these plastered in Waterfall too!"

"Wowie!" said Papyrus. "Then evenmorepeople will get to see my wonderful new manga!"

"Manga?" asked Undyne. "But this is a newspaper…wait, you finally finished one? That's awesome! Dude, why didn't you tell me?"

Papyrus puffed his chest out. "Well, aside from Mettaton's new show, this completion is the biggest news of all! That's why I put the whole volume in the rest of the newspaper!"

Sans snorted.Oh boy,thisoughta be good.

The others giggled too. Even Gaster chuckled.

"Seriously?" asked Undyne, before breaking into a toothy smile. "Y'know what, that'stotallyworth it! Newspapers need more manga! Maybe then monsters will actuallyreadthem! Including me!" She yanked open the newspaper, and accidentally tore it in half in her zeal. "Oops."

Papyrus let out an upset wail as some of the pages fluttered onto the snow.

"Uh, hey, don't worry about it Papyrus," Undyne replied quickly. "We've got plenty of other copies, right? In fact, let's make enough to cover Hotland too!Andthe palace!Mwahahahaha!"

"NyehehehehHEH!"laughed Papyrus excitedly, as they hurried back to the "libarby".

"Oh dear," said Gaster. "It's a wonder this world's lastedthislong between the two ofthem."

Sans laughed, before he got a good look at the pages on the ground. They had childish drawings of a stout smiling skeleton driving cars, saving damsels and taking naps. One title page readA Day Sans the Sans.

Sans stared the torn pages in silent shock. "Boss…Boss, heremembers! Papyrusremembersus! At least, sorta…" He couldn't help but laugh.

Gaster too leaned forward to study the scribbled pages. "Hmm…How fascinating, and impressive after such a major reset….Though we suppose itisthe great Papyrus, after all. Remember when that title wasn't a jest? Though we've noticed he's always been greatly resilient to resets…In fact, we believe he had beenregainingsoul strength after resets rather than losing it like everyone else…"

"Yeah…Yeah, he has," Sans realized, as he quickly cycled through memories of the timelines. "Bro, you really are the best…You're too good for that world…You're too…" Sans's eyes burned. "We've…We've gotta see him. We mean,reallysee him. We've gotta let him know we're still here, that we're stillreal." He levitated closer to the world without even realizing it. "We've gotta…We've gotta…"

"If you're going to enter the world, the easiest route is through Waterfall," said Gaster. "However, just like our form is mutilated when we surface there, yours will be as well, and it will be painful. It's likely that he won't recognize you, especially with his limited memory. You won't be able to stay long either, since the world won't know how to process you."

Sans grinned. "Never stoppedyoubefore."

"No," said Gaster. "We just want to let you know what will likely happen. No one was there to tell us that when we first came to get you, and we would haveverymuch appreciated a warning." There were feelings of annoyance and embarrassment.

"Gotcha," said Sans. "So, go through Waterfall, right?"

"Correct," said Gaster. "Papyrus will most likely be arriving soon."

"Yeah, Undyne did say something about plastering it with newspapers too, didn't she?" said Sans with a snicker. Undyne…well, he should say hi to her too, even if he didn't want to. He started drifting toward Waterfall, before pausing to look back at Gaster. "Will we…still be able to sense you?"

"Yes," said Gaster, nodding. "You will still sense and hear us. Remember, you never have to worry about being alone again."

"Yeah," said Sans, his body relaxing as he continued toward Waterfall.

Sans already felt his body rippling like disturbed water. Sans ignored the growing discomfort as he looked for the most ideal place to emerge. Eventually he chose to surface in the secret room behind the first waterfall. It was hidden, and therefore would give him time to readjust to new physics and a new form. He slipped through the bottom part of the wall like a lizard…and then immediately crashed down onto his stomach. Having gravity that wasn't directly controlled byhimwas such a weird feeling…but not nearly as weird as the boiling sensations in his bones.

He tried to push himself up, but already his body was degenerating. Cracks snapped across his bones, bleeding red with artificial determination. Dust crumbled off him in streams. Everything burned while deafening buzzes drilled through his ears.Oh boy…Why did we want to do this again…?

It's alright Sans,said Gaster, and the voices of all the others.You have our strength, which is unlimited. We will help you endure this agony.

Power pumped into him, and Sans was able to focus through the pain. He called on his gravity magic to keep himself from further falling apart. This became easier as the bones began to melt together. The seeped determination congealed into tendrils, and helped to push Sans up to his feet. His semi-liquid bones swirled white, red, and black, as both eyes blazed bright blue. The dust and bone shed earlier now orbited around him, cycling from solid to fluid and back. His melted clothes clung to him like tattered robes.

Sans took a deep breath. "Okay…think we got this now…" He tried walking, but didn't like how his feet stuck to the floor after each step. He decided to use some of his red tentacles to lift himself up and walk with them instead. The leftover filaments wriggled aimlessly like restless worms.If this didn't hurt so much, this would be kinda fun…

However, he wasn't here for a good time. He was here for Papyrus. He took another deep breath and went through the waterfall cloaking the hidden room. It seared like acid. Sans cried out in a stuttering garbled screech that almost resembled a scream. He fell and flailed through the water in an agonized frenzy, the clear liquid soon tainted with white, red, and black. Sans collapsed onto his knees panting when he finally made it to semi-dry land. His scarlet filaments coiled around him protectively.

Did…Didthathappen to you the first time too?Sans asked Gaster. His bones still sizzled. He noticed white pixels peeling away from one of his arms.

Not tothatextent,said Gaster. Sans sensed scientific curiosity as well as concern and pity.But your current body has stayed much more corporeal than ours ever did.

Sans listened to the falling droplets, though they seemed more like gunshots to his over-stimulated senses. Theyfeltlike gunshots too, whenever one hit him. Why did everything have to be so loud and painful in this world? This was already exhausting.

Oh well. He would just rest here for a little while then. He unceremoniously flopped onto his belly, watching as colors bled off him from the light but unyielding drips.

Above the gunshot-rain was an even louder, rapid splashing, quickly getting closer. Then a tall white figure leaned over Sans.

"Are you alright?" asked Papyrus, before hurriedly shuffling through his newspaper bag. "Your stat screen wouldn't come up, so… anyway, I'm sure I've got some Cinnabuns in here somewhere…Running makes me hungry…"

"Papyrus…" Sans murmured. It seemed unreal that his brother was here, talking to him like a regular monster.

"Yes, Iamthe great Papyrus," his brother announced proudly. "Now why are you laughing? You're not well."

Sans chuckles soon ceased. "Do you…remember us?"

"Huh?" asked Papyrus, before looking nervous. "Ah…well…"

Sans chuckled again. "It's okay, bro. No one does…"

"B-But that's terrible!" exclaimed Papyrus. "Everyone should be remembered bysomebody…Especially me!" He dug out a Cinnabun. "Here."

One of Sans's tendrils reached out, engulfed it, and absorbed it.

"Oh, so, uh, that's how you eat?" asked Papyrus. "Are you some kind of plant monster then? I know Flowey absorbs food through his roots sometimes…Sorry, I can't really tell. So, uh, does that help?"

"Yeah," said Sans. It didn't, since HP wasn't the issue, but he appreciated the gesture. "Thanks bro."

"You're welcome!" Papyrus replied. "Though, "bro" is an odd way to address someone. We're not brothers."

So he reallydoesn'tremember,thought Sans sorrowfully. He should have expected as much.

"But don't be sad, my fellow monster!" proclaimed Papyrus, as he fished out more Cinnabuns. "I'm the great Papyrus, but you may call me "bro" if you like! It does has a nice ring to it…yes, being a big brother would be stupendous! I've always wanted a sibling, you know…"

Of course you have,thought Sans.

"And you say that everyone has forgotten you?" Papyrus went on, offering more Cinnabuns. "Well no more! ForIwill never forget you, because now you're myfriend!"

Sans laughed, before he struggled not to cry. "T-Thanks…" He numbly consumed the Cinnabuns.

"Wowie, you're touched to tears! I reallyama great friend!" said Papyrus in wonderment. "So, whatisyour name, my friend?"


"Wowie! I have a character is named Sans in my story!" exclaimed Papyrus. "We must bedestinedto be great friends then!" He pulled out a copy of the newspaper. "See, I just had it published today! Would you like to read it?"

Sans smiled a little as he sat up, propping himself up with his filaments. "Sure…" If it wasn't for all the pixels shedding around his face, maybe Papyrus would recognize him?

Undyne bolted down the cavern, carrying huge stacks of newspaper. Sans was disappointed, but not surprised. Undyne wasn't going to send Papyrus into anything remotely dangerous alone. Sans put on his best smile, which was only slightly lopsided and runny. He grinned even wider as Undyne froze in her tracks, her one good eye wide with shock and horror.

"Undyne! Meet mynew friendSans!"Papyrus declared happily.

"Do you remember us?" Sans asked.

"…What the hell?" Undyne hissed. She pointed her spear at Sans, though she was in a defensive rather than an attacking pose.

Sans shrugged, or rather two of his tendrils shrugged for him. "Guess not. Oh well."

"It's okay, Sans," said Papyrus. "Because soonshe'llbe your friend too!"

"What are you talking about? Whatisthat thing, Papyrus?" Undyne muttered, as if Sans wasn't there. "And how do you understand all those weird sounds it's making?"

Right, she can't understand Wingdings,thought Sans. It was so natural to him now, he rarely even thought in his old language.Actually, how'sPapyrusunderstanding me then?"Hello, Undyne." Sans spoke slowly. The words felt clunky and crude on his tongue.

"…Hi?" said Undyne, her face half-smiling and half-snarling in confusion. "So, uh, what'reyousupposed to be…Sans?" She clearly didn't believe that was his real name.

"Undyne! Don't be rude!" exclaimed Papyrus. "He's a monster like the rest of us! Just…notquitelike the rest of us."

Sans pondered how to answer Undyne's blunt inquiry. "We are…more than a monster. We are an outlier existing outside the system."

"Huh?" asked Undyne blankly. "A what existing outside of a what?"

"Um, I'm afraid I don't get it either," admitted Papyrus.

Two of Sans's tendrils shrugged. "Welp, in simpler terms…we're a glitch."

"Aglitch?" shouted Undyne.

"Sans! You shouldn't call yourself such a horrible thing!" Papyrus exclaimed. "It's not good for your self-esteem!"

"It's not such a bad thing," said Sans. "Actually, it's a reallygoodthing, because we can mostly do whatever we want. Going in and out of the world and beyond…It's tons of fun." Sans's grin widened. "Skele-tons. You guys wanna give it a try?"

"You meanwecan do that too?" asked Papyrus.

"Sure," said Sans. "Anybodycan, if they know what they're doing." One eye darkened. "Or if they've got the right help."

"Hold up! We ain't doing anything with someone shady like you!" yelled Undyne, pointing her spear at Sans again. "Especially not glitch stuff! Nowget lost!"

"Undyne!" yelled Papyrus, but Undyne summoned a spear, skewered Papyrus's scarf with it, and used it to drag Papyrus over to her side. Then she surrounded Papyrus with a cage of lances.

Sans sighed. He knew it wouldn't be that easy. "You'rethe ones who are lost," said Sans with genuine sadness. White-and-red ooze dripped off his bones.

"Hey! If you've got something to say, say it in something I canunderstand!"spat Undyne, shooting a rain of spears at Sans.

Guess we slipped into Wingdings again,thought Sans. Oh well. "We don't want to fight," said Sans, not caring what language it came out in. With a swipe of one of his arms he made all the magic javelins plummet point-first into the ground.

Surprisingly, the ground cried out in pain.

Flowey popped out of the ground, glaring at Undyne. His top petal was ripped. "Hey!What's the big idea? I was just passing through!" he growled, his face full of sharp teeth.

"Uh, sorry Flowey," said Undyne, before pointing to Sans. "You'll have to talk tothatthing about it."

"What thi…" Flowey asked as he twisted around, only to freeze when he saw Sans. He cringed back, petals curling behind his face. His eyes were wide with shock as he trembled. "What…Is that thing…Sans?"

"Sans's not athing!" shouted Papyrus from his javelin imprisonment. "He's not trying to hurt us! He said he doesn't want to fight!"

Sans studied Flowey with mute fascination. It wasn't because he still remembered him after the last reset. Knowing Flowey's nature, it would have been more shocking if hedidn'tremember. However, he sensed something else within the flower…or rather, several tiny things fused into one big thing.

"You have asoulnow?" asked Sans, before laughing. All those hearts shattering within Flowey during the corruption…it looked like Flowey was able to retain enough fragments to form his own soul. "Guess thatlastround did yourealgood, huh?" He smiled. "Y'know what? Congrats on that. You're finally real. Didn't think you had it in you. Literally." His scarlet tendrils rose up, pointing at Flowey. "Nowyoucam join us too. How about it?"

Flowey shrank back further, laughing nervously. "Oh no…Oh no no no nono-!" He shot away, ripping rough lines through the cavern floor. Thick vines erupted up too, snatching away Undyne and Papyrus as he fled.

Now Sans was just getting irritated, as he chased after the terrified flora and his captives. He considered using his tentacles, but found that altering his gravity to "fall" after them was faster. How many times had Flowey made their lives miserable one way or another? Even when he was nice to him and the other monsters, it was only for his own curiosity and gain. Would he really be different with a soul of stolen fragments?

He honestly wanted to know. The scientist part of him craved that knowledge.

More thorny vines reared up to lash at Sans. The ooze and dust orbiting around Sans congealed into marbled bones.

Don't attack or defend. Take the hit,Gaster advised.Show that we won't harm them, even in self-defense. They will trust us faster that way.

Sans let the bones dissolve away. He didn't want to risk hitting Undyne or Papyrus anyway. "We told you, we don't want to fight."

As Sans expected, the vine struck him at full force. He went flying back, hitting the ground with a wet crunch. He eventually skidded to a stop, leaving a long trail of goo behind him. Sans slowly dispersed across the floor as his body lost what little solidity it had left. Pixels billowed off of him, obscuring him like smoke.

Sans wasn't in pain, though. Sweet cool numbness was finally returning to him, dampening all the unwanted sensations and noise. Closing his eyes, he let Gaster take him back.

Though he did wonder why Flowey didn't just reset,


It's a process of patience and attrition, said Gaster, as he and Sans gazed at the world again later. Sans didn't bother materializing his own form, instead viewing everything through Gaster's eyes. He was still physically and emotionally drained from earlier, and the last thing he wanted to do was to isolate himself.

That form was amazing, Master!said Doge.

We dunno about that,said Sans.We lasted, what, five minutes maybe?

But you've now established a form you can take in that world,said Gaster.It will make return trips simpler and longer as you refine it.

Refine, huh?Sans said.Kinda like you did with me back in the old days.

We could refine you because you were willing,Gaster reminded Sans.You came to the Lab often, because you wanted to learn.

Gaster summoned white shades of Sans and himself in a black-hued Lab. Sans quietly followed and watched Gaster as he conducted some determination experiments on flowers.

Sans detached himself from Gaster to enjoy the show. Somehow it always felt better to be there in person. Perhaps it was because such specific recollection seemed like a more private event? "Yeah, but it didn't really start until we got our magic."

The Sans silhouette marched with the Papyrus silhouette, either out training or patrolling. Suddenly both fakes crashed down onto the ground. They got back to their feet with much struggle, only to suddenly fall to the left, then upward, then downward again, faster and faster. Soon they were more like quick ink smudges than silhouettes.

"Oh boy," said Sans, putting his hands over his eyes and chuckling. "We really shouldn't be laughing, because that was actually pretty scary. Getting flung into walls nonstop wasnotfun. We hadnoidea what was going on. Good thing we had normal HP back then. Poor Papyrus got pretty beat up too, trying to rescue me." The two blurs eventually crashed onto identical beds. "We had to stay in the Lab for, what, a week?"

"You had incredibly strong magic, even compared to your brother," said Gaster. "And it was a strange magic too. No one had ever had power over gravity before."

"It's no wonder that you wanted to study us," said Sans with a laugh. "So even if we didn't meet in that battle, or at the anime club, we've would've met eventually."

"We prefer to think that we met despite and not because of the system," Gaster pointed out.

"Key wordpreferred, huh?" said Sans, before sighing. "Anyway, doesn't really matter, does it? We were in pretty bad shape after all that, and our magic was still unstable. Papyrus wouldn't stop pacing outside my door. Sometimes his orange magic kicked in, and it got extra-fast."

"Yes, he literally carved a groove into my floor," said Gaster. Sans sensed sympathy, but also annoyance. Sans found it funny, which quickly straightened out Gaster's lingering crankiness.

The background turned black, with two whites figures: Dr. Gaster and the bedridden Sans.

"Anyway, to stabilize us, you used your black magic," Sans went on. Dr. Gaster's heart pulsed black, and the colors abruptly reversed. "It felt soweird, being hooked up to your soul and emotions and stuff, but it wasawesome.It was like being bigger, because we could sense the other souls of your assistants too, staying calm sowe'dstay calm. It was the first timeIbecamewe. There wasn't anything else like it…still isn't, really."

Sans sensed Gaster's immense pride. It was always his black magic that he valued most: the ability to connect with other souls and share his power. Even his beloved research came second to synchronizing with his comrades.

"Still, it was rough for a couple days, since we were still weak and couldn't control our powers too well, but once getting over all that…" Sans grinned widely. "Oh boy, that was fun. Learning how to control our powers, exploring the Lab, watching experiments and sci-fi movies…" Once again a series of quick scenes flowed by, showing the other Sans with a cat, a fungi person and a snake: Dr. Gaster's assistants. "Being connected to everyone…it was a real blast. It felt natural, even though we had never experienced anything like that before…Not that we weren't happy about all my warrior friends coming to visit though."

Gaster sighed. "It's a miracle they didn't destroy more than they did, even with all of us watching them."

"What can we say? Undyne's great at breaking stuff," Sans said with a shrug. "Papyrus even joined in the black magic for awhile." Papyrus, previously invisible in the whiteness, popped back into view as he turned black. Sans chuckled, though it soon faded. The other Papyrus, though connected, only watched the others play. "He…never really liked it that much, though. He always felt uneasy whenever we were connected, and after a while he stopped doing it. We were kinda glad, to be honest, since he obviously wasn't enjoying it, but we wonder why he didn't like it."

"It was probably because he knew he didn't belong with us," said Gaster. "And, in turn, thatyoubelonged with us. He didn't know what to do or how to feel about that, so he turned away."

The shade Papyrus did just that, walking away and slowly melting back into the whiteness.

"Yeah, probably," said Sans. He still felt bad for Papyrus. His heroic brother, always training him to be the next top warrior, and always believing him, suddenly learned how how different Sans really was. "He was afraid of losing us to you guys, That's probably why we got a promotion to hero as soon as we got home, golden armor and all."

"Most likely," said Gaster.

"We know Bro was trying to help…" Sans began with a smile. "But wereallyweren't ready for that. Our powers probably caused more problems than they fixed, since we still couldn't control them that well." He watched as the other Sans tried to levitate a faceless monster out of a pit, only for both of them to get stuck standing on the ceiling. Papyrus eventually arrived to rescue both of them. The illusion didn't show it well, since it was silent, but it was mostly Papyrus talking to Sans to calm him down.

"You had unprecedented powers," said Gaster. "You shouldn't have been expected to master them easily. Our own magic took a long time to harness, because it took a long time to understand."

"Even when thingsdidgo right, we saw a lot of disappointed faces whenever we arrived. Because we weren't the great Papyrus, y'know?" added Sans, as the ground abruptly twisted into several pouting faces. "Plus most of the Royal Guard wasreallyjealous by that point, because theyknewit was favoritism." Now the faces contorted in anger, writhing like boiling water. "Undyne always wanted to fight, either physically or verbally. The whole thing was so awkward…"

Sans sighed as he watched the liquid figures dance out his old life of endless sparring. It felt so fresh, even though it was so long ago. Even now he couldn't believe that he had once forgotten almost all of it.

. "…So then we decided to join you guys," Sans went on, his grin brighter now. ""Well, you made make an offer one night after club, and we took it 'cause…well, we really wanted to. And…well, the warrior stuff really wasn't working out. So we started sneaking off all the time to get secret training as a lab assistant.."

"We had to prepare you for the new assistant ceremony, after all," said Gaster proudly.

"Oh right," said Sans with a laugh. "We warriors paraded through the Underground once a week to beat on the barrier, and you guys paraded around whenever a new assistant was chosen." Two opposite sets of monsters pranced by each other in opposite directions, their steps making the inky ground slosh. "Preparing that thing was so much fun, and kinda nerve-wracking. Since, y'know, my bro and everyone else back home didn't know about this until the whole thing started."

"We're surprised that you were able to keep everything hidden for so long," noted Gaster, as the Sans double swapped between parades whenever they passed each other.

"…When itdidfinally happen though…boy, it was really something else," Sans went on. "Everyone in Snowdin's freaking out because all these geeks were showing up, and Bro was off in another part of the Underground, so no one knew what to do. And then…there we were, in a lab coat, and everyone juststared." Sans laughed. "Undyne fought us because she thought we'd been brainwashed or something. Didn't know she cared so much about us. So we just flattened her to the ground with gravity and that was that."

"We left Snowdin, took a boat ride through Waterfall, and then marched through Hotland, which was flooded with even more geeks. Then again, it was ahotspotfor them, huh?"

"Evennowwith the puns?"

"Foreverwith the puns," said Sans with an impish smile, but his face turned more serious. "But right before we got to the palace to see the king…well, Bro showed up, wanting to fight me. It was pretty scary, especially when I realized that he was serious about fighting me. So we fought, with everyone watching us…"

The two figment skeletons started to duel.

"…But then we realized hewasn'tserious. He was just putting on a show for all the sore losers back in Snowdin. So we let him take us down."

Bone traps formed around both combatants, similar to Sans's fight with Gaster. This time it was Sans who let himself get hit. Papyrus looked shocked as the warriors roared and the geeks hissed. Sans simply got up and walked past his stunned brother like he wasn't there.

"We had a real talk about it later. Said he couldn't understand how we turned out so different from him. But he wasn't angry, though, just confused, and maybe disappointed in himself. But he knew we were happier with you guys, so he let us go be a royal scientist."

"But what about Alphys?" asked Gaster. Though his tone was calm, Sans sensed a certain impishness in it.

"Yeah! What about Alphys?" asked Doge, though her words were innocent and earnest.

"Yeah…Well…" Sans began, feeling more awkward by the moment.

"What about Alphys? What about Alphys?" other voices echoed. Of course it was only now that they decided to join in. He kinda wished they were more interested in attending the story itself, but he suppose they were tired of it. Ir was easy to forget that Sans was still new to the gathering.

"Will you guys cut it out?" asked Sans, though he knew it was good-natured teasing. It was teasing he deserved too. Even now, considering what had been…"Maybe…can we go see her too, boss?"


Alphys stayed as anxious and shamed as ever, though she had to leave the Lab more to pick up supplies. She took closer care of each of the amalgamates, staying longer and even putting on anime for them. She swore over and over that she would find a way to fix them, so they could finally go home. The melted beasts seemed to respond to the attention, and even flowed close to her when she cried.

Sans wanted to help Alphys, but he wasn't sure how. After how his last visit with Toriel went…

The Lab was surprisingly stable, considering all that happened in it. It seemed like the only place corrupted enough for Sans to get in was Waterfall, and that was still a long way from the Lab. He had tried a couple of times, only to fall apart in the heat of Hotland. Sort of like Undyne, now that Sans thought about it. She couldn't stand high temperatures either.

So once again it was up to his blue magic. He played with Alphys's catgirl figurines, levitated bags of dog food, stuck books on the ceiling, and stuffed all those nagging letters behind the bookcases. Alphys stared at the strange phenomenon and wondered if Mettaton was playing tricks on her. He was a ghost in a robot, after all.

Sans hadn't considered that. Everything he was doing could count as poltergeist activity. Of course Alphys was going to leap to the most logical conclusion first. So how would he prove otherwise? Even flipping gravity was something ghosts were known to do from time to time. Ghosts were perhaps the most mysterious beings in the Underground, aside from glitches like Sans and Gaster, and whatever Chara was.

Sans noticed the amalgamates reacted to his presence. They pressed themselves thin to whatever wall Sans was closest to at the time. He couldn't sense their feelings or thoughts, though. They were their own fused entities, after all, with their state not directly linked to Gaster. He could hear their bizarre but evident cries of excitement and longing, however. It was hard to tell how much rationality they had left, but they recognized their greater kind. Alphys noticed their odd behavior, and asked them why they were so energetic.

This gave Sans an idea.

He tested his blue magic on the Amalgamates. As he suspected, the slightest manipulation in gravity caused their fluid bodies to shift. The Amalgamates seemed excited, even ecstatic about the manipulations -Sempai noticed me,as an old anime cliché put it. They literally tied themselves into knots in their joy, emitting something like giggles.

…That wasn't quite what Sans was going for. He was trying to mold them into new shapes with his magic, so communicating with Alphys would be easier. However…

"Is it possible to taketheirsouls?" asked Sans. "They seem willing enough for black magic."

"Hmm…" Gaster said. "Before, they never noticed us, or were unable to comprehend us. Perhaps the corrupted reset actually helped them become more aware. Or perhaps because Alphys is giving them closer care and more attention?"

"Then maybe there's something good about this reset after all," said Sans with a grin. It took full corruption to reach their current elevated status as dwellers of the outside. Also, if Alphys's tighter bond with the amalgamates affected them as well… "Black magic's worth a shot then, right?"

"Indeed," said Gaster. "Though we do not know if they will survive absorption in their state."

"That's okay," said Sans, raising his left hand as a dark aura surrounded it. "We don't want to absorb them just yet. Well, wewantto, but we need them to stay in that world for now for this to work."

The amalgamate in the True Lab shuddered a little, as pieces of soul pulsed black within its formless body. The darkness grew more steady, and Sans started to sense the other amalgamate's emotions. Confusion was the most prominent, closely followed by fear and joy. The thoughts were mostly jumbled noise, but they were there,

"It's alright,"Sans said to the bewildered thing."We're here. We know you exist. We know you're real."

Real?Sans heard in his head. The anomalous creature sounded so sad, so scared, and yet so hopeful.

"Yeah, you're real,"Sans continued to reassure."All of you are real, and you matter. In fact, we can make you even greater, even more real. You're so close to it on your own, but we can help you reach it sooner. Much sooner."

Real! Real!the amalgamate parroted exuberantly, practically flinging itself at the wall Sans was closest to.We want to be real! We want to beus! We want to bethem! We want we want we want-

The rabid desire came rushing in, and Sans felt an overwhelming urge to take what was left of their souls and absorb them immediately. Only Gaster's firm tranquility kept Sans under control. Sans felt embarrassed, but Gaster understood, and took over as the speaker.

"Do not worry, you will join with us, but first we need your assistance,Gaster explained.We want to joineveryonetogether, but they are not ready. All of you will help make them ready, beginning with Alphys."

Alphys?….Alphys so nice. We like Alphys. We help Alphys?

"Yes, you can help her,"said Gaster."In order to do so, however, you must follow our exact instructions."

How? Not smart. Confused. How?

"Do not worry, if you allow us to act through you, it will be easy,said Gaster."We will conduct your every action, your every word, your every form. No thought is needed. You can enjoy our connection without labor."

No thought? Just happy?

"Exactly,"said Gaster with a serene smile."We will make you even better than before."


While Gaster started to instruct the stray amalgamates, Sans decided to watch Flowey for awhile. It was more out of curiosity than anything else. Sans could never like the flower, especially now that he remembered everything he did. However, Sansdidhave some pity for him. In a way, Flowey's situation was worse than Sans's: not only was he aware that this was a repeating game, but he remembered every detail of each cycle. Perhaps it was little wonder that he was so crazy, so desperate for something different.

Well, he had something different now. Despite the severe corruption, Flowey still remembered the previous resets. Sans could tell by his occasional slips of the tongue, like saying they were two skeletons instead of one in Snowdin.

With a soul of his own, formed from fragments of other souls, he seemed to see the previous cycles in a different light. He was much more meek and quiet now, and always willing to help. We popped up in all the areas to check on the local monsters. However, he mostly kept to the shadows, offering assistance unseen. The only one he actually talked to was Papyrus and occasionally Undyne.

Sans found that curious. Was he ashamed of himself now that he had a soul? Now that Sans thought of it, Flowey had always stayed behind even in the best endings. Even when he got what he wanted, he was unhappy. There was never a happy ending for Flowey,

Or maybe it was because Flowey had lost all power to reset. Usually, Flowey only lost that power once the human arrived, but said human remained absent. If he died, then he would remain dead until someone else reset the world. If the human never came…

No wonder the flora was so timid. One bad step could mean eternal demise. But now Flowey had a soul. A soul that he could offer in exchange for true immortality and reality. Perhaps they could strike a deal, like Flowey had suggested to Sans in several timelines. Now to figure out how to keep the buttercup from fleeing in unbridled terror from him…

But that was the problem Sans faced with everyone. How would he convince them to not only befriend him, but to leave this world behind?

It was a tricky task indeed, but already a plan was forming.


This and the next few chapters were tricky to edit at the time. It was hard figuring out what should happen where, which made the whole section take quite a while.

Chapter 10: Small World of Color


It's a shorter chapter this time. Next one should be a bit longer, and the chapter after that will probably be huge. In the meantime, enjoy!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world." -Leonard Cohen

File 10: Small World of Color

It took a couple of weeks, or maybe a couple of months, for everything to be moved into place. Sans didn't pay much attention to the illusion of time anymore.

Regardless, it took some preparation. Forming black magic connections with all the amalgamates in the Lab, training them to take orders, perfecting their forms, voices and behavior.

There was an ever-present hunger to absorb them outright, but Sans delighted in this method too. They were helping these monsters think again, and take on new identities. They had been so isolated in their perpetual puzzlement. Now they were so happy and eager to enjoy everything. Sans wondered if this was what raising children was like. It was a sentiment, ironically, that none of the current collective knew about, not even Gaster. It made Sans oddly fervent to take Toriel's soul.Shewould know.

However, Sans would worry about that later. Right now, it was time to make Alphys happy.

Alphys was upstairs napping after an all-night anime binge, oblivious to the party being prepared for her downstairs. Everyone in the True Lab hummed the same serene tune as they cleaned up. Mother Snowdrake made ice cones with her magic. Greatest Dog helped whoever wanted his assistance, and obediently waited for orders when idle. Shyren's sister kept everyone's melody in sync with her perfect singing. Reaper Bird commanded the other lesser amalgamates while it preened itself in the mirror.

Though each of these amalgamates were still composed of many beings, Gaster had been able to help the strongest personalities within them lead. They still highly depended on Gaster for reasoning and orders, but arranging a central personality helped them become more competent and lucid. It was just like how Gaster was the ruling personality of Sans's own amalgamation, the anchor that kept them rooted to rationality.

The elevator whirred. Alphys was coming down to feed them. The cleaning wasn't finished, but everything up to the TV room was done. It was good enough for now.

Alphys gaped into the well-lit and spotless room before her. She was so baffled that she was afraid to step out of the elevator to investigate. Yet she did anyway, with light, hesitant steps. The bag of dog food lay slumped in the elevator, forgotten. "H-H-Hello?" Alphys squeaked.

Greatest Dog bounded in on all fours. He wasn't limited by his armor because it was only another fluid part of his body. His head was just like Greater Dog's except with some black patches. "Hi Alphys! Wanna talk? Wanna walk? Wanna play?" His body writhed wildly with excitement, distorting his practiced form.

"W-W-What?" Alphys said, frozen in place. "You…Y-You can t-talk now?"

Greatest Dog only grew more excited. "Yep yepyip yip yip!" He spun around in circles, as if chasing his tail.

Calm down,Gaster ordered gently but firmly.Don't scare her.

Greatest Dog immediately relaxed, sitting down on the floor. "Okay."

"…Okay what?" asked Alphys, only hearing one half of a conversation.

Soon the other amalgamates came in as well, once Greatest Dog walked away from the door. They formed a wide circle around the dinosaur scientist, each offering their own smiles and greetings as directed.

Alphys hugged herself as she studied her patients with shock and worry. "W-W-What's…What are you…uh…w-w-what's happening…?"

"We're better now, dear," said the Snowdrake mother. "It's all thanks to you and them."

"…B-Better?" Alphys asked almost hopefully, before she grew scared again. "N-No, I thought everyone was better when…W-W-What if it's just…that again? I couldn't have…Hey, w-whosethem? Has…Has someone else been down here?" The thought seemed to make her panic. "Does s-s-someone elseknow?"

"It's alright Alphys," Shyren's sister reassured. Even without trying her words had a melody. "It's not your fault, and they know it. They aren't mad at you. They understand, and only want to help."

"B-B-But w-whosethey?" Alphys repeated, little soothed by the siren's lilt.

"Gaster, Sans, Suzy…" Reaper Bird began in a rasp whistle, as if reading from a list. "…Doge, Cheddar, Roman, Fang Song…"

"Do you recognize these names?" asked Mother Snowdrake, as Reaper Bird continued the long string of names. "Because you should."

"…I should?" asked Alphys. She paused, listening to the names. "Um…I d-don't know…any of them…S-Sorry."

Sans wasn't surprised, but was disappointed nonetheless.

"B-But I still don't understand…How did they, uh, find out?" Alphys went on. She waited for Reaper Bird to stop listening names, but lost patience. "How did so many people get in here without me, um, noticing? Or, uh, even one person? Y-Yeah, I guess that makes more sense, since…" She listened to Reaper Bird some more. "…H-How many of themarethere?"

Reaper Bird abruptly stopped. "255."

"Whoa," said Alphys. "Are they…some kind of, uh, syndicate or something? I don't recognize any of those names though, and, um, the Underground isn'tthatbig…" Her face lit up. "Oh! Are they, like, codenames? Yeah, that's gotta be it!"

It was good to see Alphys finally starting to relax, even if her theory was incorrect. Still, how would they describe their true existence? It would be best to keep it simple for now.

Gaster took direct control of Reaper Bird. It landed and stood straight and regal, as opposed to floating listlessly in the air. When it next opened its beak, Gaster's deep voice came out. "Think of us as spirits long past."

Alphys gaped at Reaper Bird, not saying anything for a few moments. "…Oh," she squeaked. "So, um…you're…ghosts? M-Mettaton's never mentioned, uh, any of you before though." She was taking this surprisingly well. Then again, she tended to amalgamates on a daily basis.

"We are a different sort of wraith," Gaster answered. "Ghosts like Mettaton and Napstablook still have a desire for the physical world. We do not."

"Uh…okay?" said Alphys. "But then w-why are you helping us?"

"It is because, while we have no personal craving for the world itself, we still care about those still trapped within it," explained Gaster.

"Trapped?" asked Alphys. "You make that sound like being alive's a bad thing."

"Ah, let us reword that," said Gaster. "Though we are not part of this world anymore, we want the ones still here to be happy. We see everything, and cannot ignore unjust suffering."

"Ah, so…so that's why," said Alphys, looking a little sad. "Everyone here…they've had it pretty bad, huh?" More sorrow sunk into her face. "But…B-But I…made them that way, so…why me? Why help me?"

It was anger as much as pity that made Sans take over Reaper Bird. Gaster didn't mind and let it happen. "Alphys, none of this was your fault. You had no one here to tell you how anything worked. They just assumed you would know what to do, and didn't give you time to ask questions. It's no wonder than things went less than smoothly."

Alphys lifted her head up at the new voice. "Ehehe…B-But I didn't know anything since…since I, well, you probably already know, right?"

Sans knew, of course. Alphys had pretended to have created a soul when it was just a ghost in a robot. That was how she became the Royal Scientist. It was a poor, stupid move on Alphys's part, but that wasn't what Alphys needed to hear right now. "They were desperate for a Royal Scientist, right? They would have elected someone one way or another. And you know what? You followed the notes perfectly, right?"

Alphys nodded.

"So would have anyone else, and the same thing would've happened," Sans went on. " 'Cause the person who made those notes didn't know what he was doing either."

"My apologies," said Gaster, abruptly taking over again.

"Oh…Oh, so you're…uh,oneof you was…the previous Royal Scientist?" asked Alphys. "Uh…n-nice to meet you! Though, uh…probably should've said that…earlier, and to…uh, who was the other guy?"

"Sans," said Gaster, before putting said skeleton back in charge again.

"Um…well, nice to meet ya too. Sorry if this is all been a bit…bone-chilling." Sans realized a second too late that the pun made no sense here, because he was speaking through Reaper Bird. "Uh…so, anyway, we just wanna fix up what we've started. And since that caused you to…get hurt as well, we wanna help you too." Why were his words coming out so awkwardly? "So, welp, just trust us! We ain't nofeatherweight!" There, that was better…wait, no it wasn't, because Reaper Bird didn't have feathers.Dammit!

Gaster and the others were, quite rightfully, amused by his consecutive pun fails.

Alphys seemed to feel better at least. "W-Well, so we can do this, right? We can fix everyone here?"

"Yup," said Sans. "We just gotta pull ourselves together." Damn, he didn't even mean to pun right there. Whatever, he would take it.


Already you've had a significant impact,said Gaster.Look.

Sans rouse from the peace of mixed murmurings, but didn't bother materializing. He just didn't feel like it. Gaster's perceptions would be enough.

Gaster's gaze turned toward Snowdin, where Papyrus and Undyne were arguing at a table at Grillby's, Their huge hamburgers were untouched.

"But he didn't want to hurt us!" said Papyrus. "So Flowey had no right to attack him!"

"Papyrus, that dude would've chased us to the ends of the Underground if Flowey didn't take him out," said Undyne through gritted teeth,

"But I think Flowey hurt him really bad," said Papyrus, looking worried. "He already wasn't feeling good. We need to go back and check on him."

See how much he cares for you already, and he barely even knows you,said Gaster.

Welp, that's Papyrus for you,said Sans.He never gives up on anyone. A lot has changed about him since that first reset, but that never has.

True,said Gaster.We should give him more credit.

"We arenotgoing back," growled Undyne. "Especially not for aglitch.Look, I'm all for monster equality, but those things mess people up. I mean,reallymess people up."

"He's not a glitch!" protested Papyrus

"Hesaidhe was a glitch, numskull!" Undyne spat.

"I know, but…" Papyrus began. "Well, he's too nice to be a glitch."

"Haveyouever encountered a glitch before? How wouldyouknow?" growled Undyne

"Well about you? You wouldn't know either!" Papyrus spat back.

Bones and spears started darting about, not to attack, but because their creators' emotions were running high. Therefore they spun around aimlessly, and were more of a hazard to the other customers. That didn't stop said customers from staying to watch the squabble though. Sans didn't blame them: Papyrus and Undyne rarely got mad at each other, even before the world warped.

"Well I still know better thanyou!" shouted Undyne, standing up.

"And what'sthatsupposed to mean?" asked Papyrus, also standing up. "You've always told me to follow my heart, Undyne, and right now my heart tells me that Sans is someone who needs help!"

"Yeah, wellmyheart's telling we need to stay farfaraway from that thing!"

"Stop call him athing!" shouted Papyrus. "He'sSans! I'm going tosavehim!" Both eyes shone bright orange for a moment.

Ohherewe go,thought Sans with anticipation.

Undyne noticed it too. "Uh, Papyrus?"

"Ihaveto save him!" repeated Papyrus, this time with a more anxious ring. The brief unexplained sadness soon evaporated into anger as his eyes blazed like suns. "Why can't youunderstandthat?" He stomped the ground in his fury.

A giant orange spine ripped through the restaurant, and everyone in the restaurant fled in panic. Undyne gaped, for once speechless. Papyrus was just as shocked as everyone else, as his eyes quickly returned to normal. The huge spine disintegrated.

"…Idid that?" murmured Papyrus in disbelief, before his eyes sparkled with glee. "Idid that! Wowie! That was socool! I reallyamthe great Papyrus!"

"…Okay, we are getting you to Alphysnow," said Undyne, grabbing Papyrus's hand and yanking him out of the restaurant. "Gotta show that, uh, new awesome thing!" Her fanged smile looked a little strained.

"Oh boy! Can we watch Mew Mew Kissy Cutie too?" asked Papyrus as he was dragged through town.

Sans couldn't stop laughing, not just because it was so funny, but out of giddy excitement. His brother was waking upveryquickly now. At this rate he would be theirs in no time, if only because of his inevitable sense of courage and curiosity.

Old Master is coming back!said Doge.And when Old Master comes back, he can get everyone else! Everyone loves the hero of the Underground! Whowouldn'tcome?

Yeah, that's right.said Sans eagerly. It wasn't just his own selfishness at wanting his brother. If they could get Papyrus, they could getanyone,and the Underground could finally be rendered empty much faster. This was for everyone's sake.


Gaster and the others could speak through any of the amalgamates, but Reaper Bird was usually the most convenient. Its was especially easy to take over, with the least amount of strain on the amalgamate itself. Though the amalgamates were more stable now, their minds were still fragile, especially the main egos. Since Reaper Bird looked like it was never going to form a strong personality, it made it the ideal puppet.

Reaper Bird wasn't just a preferred voice piece, though. It was also the easiest to mold into another likeness. Poor Alphys panicked when Reaper Bird first turned into Gaster's humanoid form. It wasn't the runny, goopy body though, but how he was supposed to look: a tall skeleton with effeminate features and a white lab coat. He mostly took on this form when he needed to physically demonstrate something to Alphys,

As Alphys got used to the sudden changes in voice and forms, she grew less scared and more curious. She asked everyone all kinds of questions: Who were they before? Was this their true form? How did they become like this? Did they like anime?

Usually Alphys wanted to see Sans though. Maybe it was some subtle recollection, but most likely it was because Sans was the one she felt the most comfortable with. They both liked similar kinds of anime, for one. Gaster and other geeky monsters were content just watching from Sans's eyes.

Like Gaster, Sans was able to more or less take on his true form. His features looked the same, except for the white lab coat he wore. His eyes were always bright and blue, like they were supposed to be.

In this world, doing casual lab work in-between anime with Alphys…This was almost how it used to be…how it wassupposedto be…

"S-Something wrong, Sans?" asked Alphys while they were reclined back in their chairs.

"Oh, nothing," said Sans, ashamed that any of his sadness seeped through. "Just thinking about lots of stuff."

"Want to, um, take a break?" Their "work" was binge-watching RahXephon. "I'll fix us up some instant noodles!" Alphys dashed off before Sans could have a say.

Sans sighed and sat down, silently gazing down the hallway Alphys disappeared to.

Back when the world was right, Gaster had four other assistants: Roman the fungi-man, Fang Song the basilisk, Cheddar the cat, and Alphys. Though Sans got along with everyone easily, Alphys was his favorite. It was probably because she was so proud to be a geek, something that was so foreign to warrior Sans. He was always hiding his unwarriorlike passions, and even Dr. Gaster concealed his mania with a coat of dignity. Alphys on the other hand kept cat-girl figurines at her work desk and always babbled about whatever anime she was watching. The others teased her good-naturedly about it, but Sans found it fascinating and strangely admirable. She wasn't leagues above him like Dr. Gaster, or even the other assistants who had been there longer.

Alphys was so much more confident back then. No stutters and no shame about anything. She beheld everything from human shows to magic science with peerless wonder and joy. Sans knew it wasn't an act because of the black magic connecting him to all the other scientists. Losing that closeness was the first thing he missed when going back to Snowdin. Back then. Dr. Gaster's magic had a range. That sudden empty feeling was a big reason Sans decided to return to the scientists, and ultimately become one of them.

She accepted both his geeky and warrior sides, something even Dr. Gaster had trouble doing. He was too much of a pacifist to ever appreciate violence. But while Sans hated being in battles, he did like watching them. Anime was perfect for that, whether the combatants were mechs, aliens, humans with giant swords, or even a duel between magical girls. As a warrior, Sans could point good and bad fighting techniques to Alphys, who was enraptured by it. Sometimes they brainstormed better battle scenarios during bad anime, and even acted them out in mock ferocity. Sans's gravity powers made flying fights much easier to emulate.

To ultimately return to her like this, who once understood him like no one else did…Who he had mostly forgotten for so long…and she had mostly forgotten him…

What should Sans say to Alphys? He didn't want to scare her away. At the same time he wanted to tell her how they used to know each other, that they used to be close before everything became corrupted. Even if it would make no sense to her. Even if they were both different people now, until he could convince her to trust him enough for black magic.

You miss her,said some of the other souls.

We miss her,Sans agreed.Even though she's right here.Part of it was the desire to take her soul, but she was needed here in this world right now. Sans doubted she would be ready for black magic either way.


Oh, how interesting. Look at this.

Gaster's gaze went to the Ruins, where Toriel stood before a destroyed Ruins door. Fireballs were dying in her palms. Her expression was resolute as she studied the burning wreckage.

Whoa. Toriactuallydestroyed the door?said Sans in disbelief. He remembered her talking about doing it, but it never happened before this.Why?

A certain sadness crept into her eyes, though her face remained stern. She clasped her hands together, extinguishing the last of the fire, and closed her eyes like she was praying. Maybe she was. Embers still danced around her hands like lonesome fireflies.

Perhaps she is finally obeying her instincts,mused Gaster.So many times the human has left her behind, or reduced her to dust…though, the human isn't here yet.

Sans's concerned confusion was replaced with joy.But that means that even if the humandoescome back, they can't go past the Ruins! They can't complete the game!

Gaster chuckled.How true. No amount of LV or determination will be restoring that door. Not even a reset will do it, because this has happenedbeforethe human arrived. Therefore, it willalwayshappen in this new cycle.

In other words, the human couldn't do anything past the Ruins anymore. The threat was contained. The worst they could do was kill the monsters in the Ruins, which would still be horrible, but not nearly as tragic as watchingeveryonedie.

Still, a new fear coiled up in Sans.

Toriel silently walked away from the destroyed door.

Will it…be okay like this?asked Sans.

Are you afraid?

Sans stayed quiet.

Why are you afraid?

What if someone dies?asked Sans.What ifanyonedies? If the human never comes...or it gets frustrated, kills everyone in the Ruins, and never comes back...Flowey can't reset anymore either…Sans was so used to the human's meddling and the constant revivals that he never thought about anything beingpermanentin the world. Not even Gaster could reach someone if they died...

Hmm…mused Gaster.Perhaps we can learn how to trigger a reset ourselves? If determination is key, then we certainly have plenty of that. But it seems to be controlled by whoever has themostdetermination. So someone still has more determination than us…

But who?wondered Sans.Flowey's lost all determination, even if he gained a soul. Who else is there? Undyne? Papyrus?

We would have seen resets already if it was either of them,said Gaster.If it wasanymonster, for that matter. Even if they didn't know what power they had, something would have triggered it by accident, unless it was grossly...hmmm...however, we're most likely looking at someone whoknowswhat they have, and how tonotuse it.

Chara,said Sans.We still don't know where Chara is, but if anything's going to inherit the human's determination, it's gonna be him.

That is assuming that the human doesn't still have it themselves,Gaster added.Although if the human does still have it, then they are still limited to the Ruins. However, if Chara has it…

Then everyone is in danger,said Sans. Chara was already ridiculously powerful. If Chara had the power to reset too…

We can't know for sure yet, but we must keep our guard up,said Gaster.We must prepare a newplan...His frown turned into a sly grin.And if our suspicions are correct, then we know the perfect one to use for that plan.


"We sense a great calamity coming to that world, one that will cause neverending suffering for all dwellers," Gaster told Alphys. He had shaped Reaper Bird's body into his true scientist form. His face was grave, with his hands behind his back.

"C-C-Calamity? W-What's going on? What's gonna happen?" asked Alphys.

Sans found something funny about all this. Maybe because it seemed like Gaster was hamming it up even more than usual. Then again, itwaskind of like those cheesy anime Alphys watched, which was probably why he was doing it. Might as well make it as anime as possible for her. Alphys might not have thought anime was real like Undyne did, but she surewishedit was real, and if there was even the slightest chance that something like that could happen in real life…

Still, Sans couldn't help but feel a little bad about it too. She knew nothing about their true goal.

"We cannot be sure of the calamity's true nature," said Gaster, and that was true. Not even Gaster knew how this new cycle was going to play out, or even if Chara or the human would arrive. "But we intend to stop it before any damage can be done. However, for that we need three things: you, the amalgamates, and Undyne."

"U-Undyne?" asked Alphys, even more nervous now. "W-Why Undyne? What do you w-w-want with her?"

"She is the chosen one," Gaster said plainly. "The one with the potential power to drive off the calamity once and for all."

"We tried to stop it before." added Sans, briefly taking over. "Didn't work."

"I-It's happened before?" asked Alphys.

"It's happened alot,"said Sans. "We've never been able to stop it before, though. We…we tried to stop it last time. But we were alone then, fragmented and distorted, and…and we may have made things worse. We had no idea what we were doing…" Sans felt reassurances from Gaster and the others, saying his attempt was the key to ending it all this time. Yet, Sans had been so close to doing it right then…

Alphys was silent for awhile.

"However, we know what needs to be done now," Gaster reassured. "Undyne must be the one to do it, and she will need the help of all of us to reach her full potential. That includes you and the amalgamates."

"B-But what canwedo?" asked Alphys. "None of us can fight, least of all me."

"Battling isn't the only way to be powerful," said Gaster. "You have own skills as a scientist, and you have made more progress than you realize. We only need to guide you the rest of the way."

"Um…guide in doing what?" asked Alphys.

"In creating a hero of justice that will never perish," said Gaster. "Undyne the Undying."


Any guesses as to what Gaster's plan is?

Chapter 11: Trust Fall


One by one pieces align, some by emotional reasons, others by cold calculation.


Big chapter this time! A lot of stuff's going on, and it needed to be done before the finale. So here you go!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"There is only one way to get anybody to do anything…That is by making the other personwantto do it. There is no other way." -Dale Carnegie

File 11: Trust Fall

The human finally came. Sans knew it was the human, because the child seemed very confused. It was hilarious to watch them wander aimlessly in each blossomed-filled room.

One flower thatwasn'tthere was Flowey. Then again, maybe he was disguising himself among the many flora. He knew better than everyone else what a threat the child could be.

Toriel soon found the child, however, and was delighted. She led the human through the few traps remaining, which didn't take long. Most had become overgrown with vines and useless. Toriel never left the child's side until they arrived at her house, where she hurried off to prepare a pie. The human poked around her home, examining everything, before wandering back outside. Sans wondered if they noticed that some items only offered gibberish for descriptions.

Sans watched it all like a gargoyle, ready to slam the kid into the ceiling at any hostile movement. However, it spared the few monsters it came across, before going back to Toriel's house to sleep.

So they're not planning genocide, anyway,thought Sans with some relief.But what'll it do when it realizes it can't get out?

Inevitably the human got bored, and went downstairs. Toriel didn't try to stop them, though she quietly followed. Only when they reached the destroyed door did she speak.

"See, my child? There is no way to leave the Ruins," said Toriel with a gentle smile. "But do not worry, I will take care of you here."

The human walked past her, examining and pressing against the melted rubble in vain, and walked in circles around Toriel.

"Why don't we head back up and have some more Cinnamon-Butterscotch pie?" suggested Toriel, as she watched the child do laps around her. "There is nothing here worth staying for. It is only a sad place." Sans saw her peaceful expression falter.

The child paused in front of her.

"It is only a sad place," Toriel repeated.

Eventually, the child went back, and Toriel followed.


So the human had returned after all, but it was trapped in the Ruins. Everything should be alright then, especially since some part of Gaster was always watching the area. If the child so much as pinched a monster…

Sans couldn't help but feel uneasy though. It wasn't as bad as Chara, but you couldn't trust a human either.

Still, Sans was supposed to be relaxing with Alphys right now. He debated if he should tell her about the human or not. Alphys was already nervous. Sans couldn't blame her. What was she being instructed to do sounded like madness to a non-amalgamate. Only the reassurance and improvement of her patients kept her going at first.

If they had just let things be, Alphys could simply be happy. The state of the Lab amalgamates always weighed her down with guilt and anxiety, but they were better now. Now Gaster had mired her into this plan…

Sans reminded himself this was for the best. Just as he couldn't trust the human, he couldn't trust the world either. It seemed like Alphys was almost always destined for misery here. Even in the most merciful run, it took a reset from Flowey in order for the human to really help Alphys. Was it because of the amalgamates, or because she was once one of Gaster's assistants?

Alphys scampered back down the hall, a box of steaming noodles in one hand and a bottle of ketchup in the other. "Here you…" she began, before looking at the ketchup bottle she was holding on. "Uh…I forgot your noodles? Oops?"

Sans stared at the lone ketchup bottle, before he burst into weak laughter.


"How'd you know our favorite thing is straight-up ketchup?" Sans asked with a slightly strained smile. "Seriously, can we have it?"

"Uh…sure?" Alphys said, handing him the ketchup. "If you're sure…uh, you don't want anything else?"

"Nope." Sans guzzled the bottle down.

"Oh, uh…okay?" said Alphys, as she watched him drain the bottle. "I actually…uh, have e-even more in the fridge, I keep lots of it around for…some reason? I-I don't think I know anyone else who likes ketchup, actually."

"You do now," said Sans, as he wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

"Yeah! S-So you can have them!" said Alphys. "Uh, is that…a spirit thing?"

"Nah, we've always liked it," said Sans. "You gonna eat your noodles?"

"Oh yeah!" exclaimed Alphys, scurrying over to her boxed meal nearby.

As Alphys slurped up her foodl, Sans quietly gazed at the empty bottle in his hands. Even after everything, even if she no longer knew why, she still…

"Something wrong?" asked Alphys, some stray noodles hanging from her mouth. "You want another one?"

Sans didn't say anything at first, keeping his blue eyes downward. "…Don't die, okay?"

"H-Huh?" asked Alphys. "Um, w-what's this, uh, all about?"

We don't want to see you die," said Sans, still not making eye contact. "We're so sick of seeing people die."

"R-Right, you're a spirit, so…I guess you've seen a lot of that," said Alphys sadly. "S-Sorry…"

Sans paused again. "Don't worry about it. It's nothing."

"Doesn't sound like nothing the way you say it."

"Eh, we're just…newer to this," said Sans.

"Oh? So, uh, you're, well…" Alphys began. "…Recently deceased?"

"Something like that," said Sans. "We…diedtrying to save the world."

"Really?" asked Alphys in amazement. "So you're actually like, a hero or something? That's really cool, y'know?"

"Well we don't know if it worked yet or not," said Sans. "But thanks anyway. We'd give ourselves a hand, but…welp, this ain't our real bones, so…yeah." That punalmostworked, blast it. "Point is, if you're in trouble, or you just…don't feel right, just let us know, okay?"

"Um…well, honestly, ever since you guys came and started helping me with everyone, I've felt better. A lot better. But, uh, yeah, I'll let you know if I, uh, I'm not good with something. A-And I'll help you guys out too! Though, you, well, don't really seem to need anything…"

"Bottles of ketchup will do for now," said Sans. "We've got lots ofketchup-ingto do." Finally, a good one.

"….Right," said Alphys with an awkward smile, obviously trying not to cringe.

Yep, that was a good one.

Sans's form started to droop and lose shape. Had his time in Reaper Bird already gone on too long? It seemed like he had only just begun hanging out with Alphys. Then again, it always felt like that with Alphys, now that he remembered what once was…

"We don't want to leave…" The words tumbled out unbidden.

"Oh, um, uh…" Alphys sputtered, distressed by his sudden sadness. "H-Hey, d-don't worry! Just rest up…ketchupon rest! Yeah! Then I'll…uh…seaya later! Wait, that sounds the same, so, uh…"

Sans chuckled. "Thanks." That was all he needed right now. He let himself go back to Gaster.


The human kept returning to the ruined door, of course, after talking to everyone else over and over. Toriel watched over the child with great love. Sans watched over the pointlessness with great satisfaction.

How does it feel to be stuck in a world that can't progress, human? Where everything you do is pointless? Welcome tomyold life, brat.

Actually, Sans was surprised that the child hadn't tried resetting yet. Perhaps they were too intrigued by the world's altered state? Or maybe they were just stubborn. Or maybe they were considering killing first.

"Why do you keep coming back here, child?" asked Toriel, when she once again found the human by the useless exit.

The human kept staring at the door.

"There is nothing for you here," said Toriel. "And there is nothing for you out there, either. They…Asgore…would have killed you…That is why I destroyed this door long before you came."

No, it's not just that,Sans thought.You would've destroyed it in every timeline if it was just that.

The human stayed silent as always.

"…I had hoped, once, that one day the monsters outside this door would change," Toriel went on. "But I heard their boasts beyond this door. How they will capture or kill any human that comes. Their laughter sickened me."

Right, some of the other Royal Guards took over our position, since we're not there anymore,thought Sans. That thought slowly sank in.Since we're…not there…

"There was no reason to let that door still exist," said Toriel. "Now, you will be safe from all those other monsters out there. And I…have finally been able to save a child." She smiled, but her eyes were flooded with sadness. "I will finally be agoodmother…"

Oh Tori…thought Sans. He wished he could talk to her, or touch her, or doanything.There weren't even any objects he could manipulate here.

"Let's go back upstairs, child," said Toriel.

Eventually, the child left, and Toriel followed.


There was little difference between waking and sleeping anymore. The connections coursed through everyone incessantly. There were simply times when Sans was less responsive to soul stimuli. During these periods of "rest" he passively let thoughts and feeling flow through him, much like how a fountain statue circulated water. In this state he was little aware of anything outside the amalgamation.


Yet her voice still pierced him.

"I…I need to see Sans."

Sans was abruptly sucked out of the darkness and channeled into Reaper Bird. It took him a little longer than usual to take proper shape, since he was still in a half-stupor. "Heya…" It took him even longer to notice the woeful look in Alphys's eyes. "Hey, something wrong?"

Alphys wringed her hands as she looked up to him. "Sans…" She paused. "Can I…uh, is it…is it okay to…touch you?"

It was such an odd request that Sans couldn't help but chuckle. "Sure. This body's stable enough to-"

Alphys embraced him fiercely. It was so quick and unexpected that Sans had no idea what to do. The surface of his bones and "coat" rippled as he stood there frozen. "U-Uhh…"

Sans sensed all kinds of giddiness and excitement from the others, with a touch of mischievousness.Theyseemed to know this would happen. Did something occur while he was resting?

"Sans…" Both her voice and body shook.

"W-What…you, uh…what…" Geez, he was even more tongue-tied than Alphys usually was. "You…okay?"

Alphys released her hug quickly, looking a little embarrassed. "Um, yeah, I'm fine. But it's…well, it's not about me. It's…It'syou." She laughed nervously. "That, uh…doesn't really…well…"

Sans was only more confused, but he relaxed a little regardless.

"…S-So, Papyrus came today, along with Undyne…well, he's always with Undyne…" Alphys began. "A-Anyway, they were hungry, so I, uh, went to get them something to eat. So when I opened the fridge, Papyrus saw all the ketchup bottles, and…" She took a deep breath. "And he asked if they were for…for you. Like, as in, he actually said your name and everything…"

"He…remembers that much?" asked Sans in awe.

"S-S-So it's true! Youarerelated to him somehow!" Alphys exclaimed. "Since…since Papyrus then showed me the manga he's been working on…I-It's not too bad, really…B-B-But it'syouin there, Sans! It looks just like you, acts just like you…you're even both called Sans! And some of the adventures in there…they're a lot like some of the stuff you've told me about…"

Sans laughed. "Yeah, We've seen it. It's…really something…huh?" His laughter grew weaker.

"…Sans, what's really going on?" asked Alphys. "You're…reallysupposedto be here, aren't you? Even ghosts…ghosts are remembered. Why does no one rememberyou?"She paused. "Am I…supposed to remember you too?"

Sans tried to swallow the lump in his throat. "Y-Yeah…" he finally croaked out. "We were…friends for awhile. But…we weren't that great of a friend for a lot of it, so…so if you don't remember, don't worry about it. It's, well, probably for the best…" He glanced away.

Alphys sighed. "So that's why…you always look so sad around me."

"Do we?" asked Sans. "We're not that sad though. Trust us, we were much sadder before…"

"Really? Why?"

"It's…like we said," Sans began. "We were always alone, always confused, always powerless…We…We couldn't spend much time with you." His usual smile faded. "Since…since we couldn't remember that we were supposed to be friends most of the time. We knew what was happening, sorta, but we couldn't stop it."

"But I still don't get how we'd justforgetsomething like that," said Alphys. "What was making us forget? Can…Can it happen again?"

"…Maybe," Sans admitted. He paused for a moment. "If the calamity…Well, looks like it won't happen again, but…"

"Yeah, whatisthe calamity exactly?" asked Alphys. "Gaster, uh, kinda told me about it, but notthatmuch…."

"…Do you really want to know?" asked Sans. :" 'Cause if we tell you, you can't tell anyone else. They wouldn't be able to understand it, ;'cause…well, it's really something, we can tell you that much. And once youdoknow, it's a pretty horrible thing to know."

"I'm…well, kinda used to keeping…not-so-great secrets, since…yeah…" Alphys said. "And I'm the Royal Scientist, so I'll get it! Well, probably, anyway. Beside, If I do need to…help, then it's better if I know everything, right?"


It felt good to tell Alphys about the human, and the threat they posed. She accepted it surprisingly well, though she was still anxious.

Still, there were things that Sans could never tell her, at least while she still didn't remember. Even then…Sans didn't look forward to her finding out all the details on the original corruption of the world...

"Boy, being a scientist was fun." said Sans, despite knowing where those fun memories would eventually lead. Before him were the shades of Sans and the rest of the scientists. "We did all kinds of experiments, though it was pointless stuff like turning the walls red or something, or just laying around watching stuff. We got excited by the littlest things back then.. We could finally be us. It was…the best time of our life…"

Gaster said nothing, though Sans knew he was listening.

"…Then there was Suzy," Sans went on, his smile looking sadder. The black ground boiled and spat out a glitched writhing white mess. "She was just a mess of pixels when we found her, with even her screams distorted…It was because she and her friends had found a way out of bounds and had run into Chara, but we didn't know that at the time. All we needed to know was that we needed to save her."

All the scientist silhouettes surrounded the poor afflicted monster. Her heavily-cracked heart threatened to fly apart any moment, but the shade Sans cast gravity magic to keep it together. Shade Gaster immediately followed with a flash of black magic.

"And, together, we saved Suzy," said Gaster.

"Thanks to our combined magic and, well, regular shots of determination," said Sans, as the other assistants hurried over with black-filled syringes. Gaster couldn't reproduce color in these shadow recollections unfortunately, so the liquid wasn't bright red like it was supposed to be.

Gradually the fragmented figure grew calmer and more defined, until became a little lizard girl peacefully sleeping. The actual process had taken hours and not seconds.

Sans smiled, before sighing. "That's when it really started, wasn't it? We had experimented with determination using plants, since they're about the only living thing we could ethically experiment on. After all, when even rocks can talk…but anyway, we'd never tested it on a monster before, but Suzy's condition was so unstable…"

"But she lived, even if it wasn't for long," said Gaster, as the shadow girl hopped up and followed the scientists around everywhere. "None of us knew what we were dealing with back then."

"But we're really glad you saved us, even if we were a glitch now!" chirped Suzy, as a garble of white pixels floated over Sans. "It was a lot of fun with you guys, even if we couldn't leave the lab. Mr. Gaster did shadow puppet shows for me, and Sans told me jokes, Alphys gave me manga, and everyone else brought me toys and candy! And we helped make you guys stronger too!"

"You sure did," Sans said with a chuckle. "Boss's magic connected us all to you, but you were a glitch, so it started making usallglitchy. We still remember leaving our house and ending up in Hotland one day." The false Sans stepped out of a door, only for the background to abruptly shift to a dark Hotland with an even darker Papyrus. The silhouettes stared at each other. The real Sans laughed. "Papyrus wondered how the hell we came outta nowhere. We wondered that too."

"We got stuck in a wall not long after," added Gaster, as the scene abruptly morphed into Dr. Gaster stepping through a wall while he read a book. His left foot got caught, however, and Dr. Gaster fell down, only to see his foot embedded.

"We remember that!" said Sans, laughing. Suzy and the other scientists laughed too, though the assistants remained invisible. Rarely did Sans see them take on a proper form. He remembered occasionally spotting them in Hotland, back when Sans was still alone. Even when he couldn't remember who they were, Sans had always been unnerved and avoided them. More friends he had missed out on thanks to eroded memories.

"Heehee! You were scared!" Suzy said to Gaster, as the Dr. Gaster shade wriggled desperately to feel its leg from a black wall.

"Well, we didn't know how we gotinthe wall, much less how to getout," said Gaster matter-of-factly. "It took most of the day to figure out we could just phase through solid objects at will now." Dr. Gaster's foot abruptly popped out of the wall.

"Then you never used doors again," Sans added with a chuckle.

"We liked studying people's reactions when we passed through them," Gaster replied simply.

"Yeah. Good times…" said Sans.

There was a long pause. The black-and-qhite illusions slowly melted into a still darkness.

"Too bad it couldn't last," Sans went on, looking much sadder.

The Suzy double slowed down, fell, and burst into pixels. The scientist shadows gathered around where she fell and grieved.

White eyes and a simple white smile shone in the blackness, followed by hollow laughter.

"Chara found us out eventually," said Sans. "Kinda surprised it took as long as it did. Waiting for the right time to strike, probably." He stopped as Chara's face faded back into nothingness. "No, it had been going downhill long before that…." The scientists slowly rose from the ground like zombies. "For the stronger and more glitched we became, the more we dug sown to reach the truth of the world…"

The black world around them broke down into black-and-white pixilated static.

"The more we realized the pointlessness of it all," said Gaster. "Everything was only code, like the computers we worked on. It was all predetermined by programming. Our actions, our words, our destinies…once the game started being played by an outside force, it was all our of our control. And it would never end. There would never be progress, or growth. Only resets to the start, with all memory lost. The surface was lifeless, and a brief respite at best. And oncethatpath was taken…" Chara's eyes and smile suddenly loomed huge above them as the static roared and screeched. "It wouldn't even be that."

"It was bad enough that everything was fake, including us," Sans went on. "But to think that it wasmadeto break down, and couldn't be fixed again…That was just insulting. What is even the point of that? Even now we have no idea what real humans are like…but wouldn't they want a game that always works? Why make a game that corrupts itself after a certain path?"

"To entertain in some way, we suppose," said Gaster. "Because we do not matter to them. We are figments to them as they are figments to us, We see the stone thrown into the lake, and feel the ripples of that stone, but never the one who threw the stone in the first place."

Sans chuckled weakly. "It really is pointless trying to comprehend such beings, huh?"

"It makes for an interesting pastime, at least."

More silence settled between them. Alphys's silhouette wandered away. Sans knew why. She was going to the dump to search for anime, as she always did. Realizing the truth about the world made her more obsessed with anime. It didn't matter if that stuff was fake. She knew it was fake to begin with. She disappeared into the static.

Chara's huge face disappeared from above, only for a Chara black silhouette to materialize at the center of the ring of scientists. Its smile stretched grotesquely across its face as the eyes sunk and oozed white. A static0fileld knife flickered in its hand. The Chara clone slashed and stabbed each scientist's soul, decimating them. It was all accomplished just as quickly in the real event.

"But yet when Chara finally came for us, striking us down one by one and shattering our souls…." Sans said, as the scientists lay still on the ground, filled with static.

The Alphys clone returned, only to panic at the sight of her comrades.

"…We did not welcome the oblivion a deletion promised," Gaster finished for him, as the scientists forced themselves back onto their feet. Just like Suzy, their hearts were barely held together by Dr. Gaster's and Sans's magic.

Sans smiled again. "Heh…If anything, it made usdeterminedto live." The scientist shades gave themselves shots of determination to further stabilize their forms. They still flickered and wavered, but it was good enough.

But it wouldn't be good enough forever…at least that was what they thought. Sans knew better now. Even before the attack, each of them had noticed a strange slimy figure slither on the walls, play with Suzy's old toys, speak with Suzy's voice…They had chalked it all up to grief and delusion before, but now…

The same semi-liquid figure slid around the corrupted scientist clones now, bearing Suzy's old face and smile. It was a little lopsided, bur that was okay. It was still Suzy, and they knew that for sure now. The Alphys double cringed away.

"See? It's me! It's me!" the real Suzy chirped, quoting herself from back then. "See? I'm still here! I'm still Suzy! I just look a little funny."

"I'm alive because I didn't want to die," said Sans, also quoting Suzy. "And that let us know that wecouldsurvive, as long as we wanted to live."

"Even if we became something else entirely, we wanted to live," said Gaster, as the scientists shades continued to flicker and deform, until they were almost puddles of static. "No, we wantedso badlyto become something else, to have real growth, real choice, real life."

"And you helped give us that life," said Sans, as shattered black hearts kept pulsing within each form. "You were strong enough to do it by yourself, but you kept us all going with your black magic, so we were all connected even as our code kept corrupting…"

"No, we couldn't have done it by ourselves," said Gaster. "Only because we were all together were we brave enough to take that plunge. After seeing what Suzy had become…"

"We knew we could do it," said Sans. "We knew we could leave this world."

"All we had to do was let go of this false shell of existence," Gaster went on, as the puddles mixed together into one big pool. "We trusted each other. We had enough determination injected into us to keep going and become a new form of life."

The pool rose up and became Gaster, or at least the way the world processed Gaster. His grin was the grin of them all. The shattered souls were whole once more, if deformed, and throbbed in sync with hope and rage.

Around a corner a white silhouette of Alphys cowered, before fleeing into darkness.

"Alphys…" said Sans sadly. While the transformation was quick here, it took agonizing weeks to fulfill then. "She tried so hard to take care of us, to save us…But she didn't get it. We had to die to evolve." He sighed. "Nearly took her soul a couple of times. We still wished we had, but we were too scared of those cravings. We didn't know what that would've done to her…"

"Perhaps it is just as well," said Gaster. "We doubt her soul would have been ready."

"Yeah…" Sans felt a dull ache in his soul. Alphys had forgotten the events and the truth about the world, but not her failure. She had carried that needless guilt through so many cycles, always desperate to help Sans, oranybody.He wished he could tell her that he was alright, that she would be alright if she just let go and joined him…

Doge's pixels materialized beside Sans. "Then we came to check on Master, because we were worried that you hadn't left the Lab in a week," Sans knew she meant her and some other members of the Royal Guard, not the collectiveweof now. To accentuate this white clones of Doge, a cat soldier, and a bug solider materialized.

"Everyone was so scared, butweweren't!" Doge boasted, as the other soldiers slinked back from Gaster's static-filled form. "We could smell Master." Sure enough part of Gaster budded off and formed Sans. "Weknewit was you, Master! You seemed so happy and yet so sad."

Fake Sans chatted with fake Doge while the other soldiers stayed frozen. Then, after the talk was finished, Sans lunged forward and snatched the soul out of Dog's chest. Her form turned to dust as Sans's semi-liquid body absorbed it easily.

Sans chuckled. "We still can't believe that you let us take your soul."

"It was because it wasyou," said Doge. "We knew it couldn't be bad if it was you. And youdidask first. Bad guys don't ask permission. "

"Thanks," said Sans. "We wish the rest of you guys were so understanding."

Sans melded back into Gaster as he rose up, then crashed down like a wave onto the cat and bug soldiers.

"Hey, you guys were melted together and crap! What werewesupposed to think?" protested the real cat guard, only materializing as a few black pixels.

"We say this more for your sake than ours," said Gaster. "It would have been far less painful for you if you understood."

"Damn straight! It was so worth it, butmandid it suck being defeated and then absorbed. We hadnoidea what was going on."

"You were lucky your souls stayed intact after all the struggling," said Gaster.

"Yeah, yeah," said the cat soldier. "Well, we're here and better than ever, so who cares about the past nowadays anyway?" The pixels faded away.

"Hey now, we're just getting to your favorite part," said Sans. "Y'know, the part where we fought Chara."

Chara teleported in front of Gaster, still soullessly smiling. This time its whole silhouette was filled with static, though it was different from Gaster's. The fake Gaster grinned even wider as all the hearts within him, even those newly acquired, beat with lust for revenge.

"Oh, what a fight," said both Gaster and Sans with a dark glee, as the fake Gaster and Chara became blurs of static among breaking black-and-white backgrounds. It said a lot when even Gaster relished this violence. "We tore the Lab asunder in that battle, and soon Waterfall as well."

"So many came to fight both of us," said Gaster, as tiny black-and-white figures joined the action. "Including most of what was left of the Royal Guard."

"And Papyrus," Sans added, noting his silhouette showing up as well.

"Not all of us were soldiers," said one monster. Sans wasn't sure which one it was, and didn't care. One of the Aarons maybe. "Quite a few of us were civilians caught in the crossfire, or transfixed by the transcendent glory of the battle." A tiny set of pixels forming a smile popped in and out of existence. Yep, definitely an Aaron.

"But there was little we could do," said a choir of voices. Looked likeeveryonewas listening right now. "So many of us joined then." The blackness around the battle writhed with endless inky silhouettes and pixels.

"Some were destroyed outright by Chara." Those figures were cut in half and crumbled to static. "Others were caught and absorbed by us in our desperate need of power." These had their souls yanked out by Gaster's tendrils or were swallowed by waves of static. "Sadly, not many of those souls survived either. We didn't understand the intricate preparation needed to both assimilate and preserve a soul….But we whodidsurvive have never been alone since, and never will be again."

"Look look, there'susmaster!" said Doge excitedly, as a tar-like double of herself was jerked off the ground by Chara. She snarled and bit down on Chara's arm, but it didn't seem fazed. Her head began to steam and melt, however, as a white light built up in her jaws. Even Chara was surprised as it got blasted by a massive laser. The force and heat of the point-blank laser burnt away what was left of the skin and fur on her face, leaving it a dog skull with brightly glowing eyes. "That's when we became the Gaster Blaster!"

"That was…kinda terrifying, actually," admitted Sans. To see his long-time companion transform into such an appalling form…appalling, yet magnificent. Her loyalty ran so deep that she chose to become skeletal, and had mostly stayed that way ever since.

Chara reformed seconds after the blast, still smiling. At that moment the Undyne figure tried to stab Chara with her spear. Chara dodged it without looking, and spun around to stab Undyne. She evaded the attack, only to have one of Gaster's tendrils pierce her right eye. Papyrus dashed in to get the wounded Undyne to safety, but the damage had already been done. Not only would her eye remain corrupted even after the world reset, but it would leave her with a weak connection to Gaster. Undyne's famous determination was not entirely her own.

"It didn't matter that Chara kept coming back," said the choir, as the battle spiraled on. "We just killed it over and over and over until it was too corrupted to reform." Sure enough each Chara form was more misshapen and unstable, though the smile was always there. Then, after a final Gaster Blaster laser it didn't come back at all. Everything suddenly grew quiet and still. "With that infernal enforcer program defeated, we could finally leave what was left of this illusionary world behind."

The false Gaster slowly rose, his body dissolving into pixels that flew into the oblivion above like butterflies.

One set of pixels floated down instead, reforming into the static-filled silhouette of Sans. He stared out at the world, now crumbling into glitches around him.

Sans paused. "But I didn't wanna leave. I…we… were…scared to? No, that's not quite right. We think even then we didn't want to leave the others behind. And while we hesitated…"

The Papyrus figured dashed out of nowhere and snatched up Sans. The false Gaster noticed this, but couldn't do anything. He was too far gone from this world already.

"We really don't know where he thought he could go," said Gaster, his voice still leading the choir. 'Everything was corrupting and breaking. No entrance or exit led to where it should have. No one else was functional. Even the walls and floors of the caverns were crumbling to pixels."

Papyrus ran exit to exit, teleporting to a random location each time. All of them were deteriorating, making them harder and harder to tell them apart.

"We don't think that mattered to him," said Sans quietly. "We think he felt like had to get us somewhere,anywherethat you weren't," said Sans, before chuckling. "Which was nowhere, of course, but he didn't know that. So he just kept running with me, even if it was pointless. Until…"

Papyrus was sprinting over Waterfall bridge when it crumpled beneath him. He and Sans fell together into the darkness below, where the garbage dumped awaited. Moments later, their screams abruptly cut off with sickening crunches. Everything halted.

"Then the world froze, and we never got a chance to get out," said Sans sadly, as new figures and backgrounds grew up out of the murk. "The game reset, but everything was different. Everyonewas different." Soon a silhouette of Sans popped up too, looking confused. "But we didn't know that, because we were reset and reformatted with everything else. Yet even then we knew something was wrong. We just didn't know what." A figure of Gaster rose from the ground beside the false Sans. "You tried to contact me, boss…but that didn't go so well." They fled from each other.

"No it did not," said Gaster, thought he was amused rather than saddened by the scene playing out before them. "Neither of us knew what we were doing, or what to make of the other."

"But then the human came, and the cycle of resets began." said Sans. "And…well…we all know the story from here…"

"You don't want to remember any more?" asked Gaster.

"We don't want to remember any more," said Sans dully.


The human came back. Toriel spoke the same sorrowful words as before. It was times like these that reminded Sans's of the world's controlling nature. Even thoughts and words began to loop.

The child stared at the wreckage even after Toriel's speech.

Then Sans saw a brief flash of a smile and red eyes. Sans sensed something in the code shift, even though nothing appeared to change.

The human's expression returned to its usual passiveness. Then it walkedstraight throughthe mangled door, as if the debris was only air.

Toriel stared in shock. "My…child…?" Her voice sounded pitiful.

Sans growled in frustration. So Chara was helping the human. They were both set on keeping the game going, even if they had to break the world's rules to do it.Why do they keep wanting to do this?

There's no use in trying to understand the human, or Chara,Gaster said.More importantly,This makes the human much more dangerous. We must keep an eye on it, so we know the fullest extent of its abilities.

Right,said Sans, before glancing over to Toriel. She had her hands over her face.

"Oh, were you only a ghost as well, my child?" said Toriel's muffled voice. "It seems I truly cannot save anyone…" She sobbed.

Sans sighed, before going after the human.

The pursuit didn't take long. The human had barely stepped into Snowdin's forest when it was slammed into the snow by Sans's magic. He snapped off several tree limbs, spun the pointed ends toward the human, and skewered it. The human's heart snapped in an instant, before the body disappeared.

Sans sensed vague disapproval.We know you don't like such violence boss, but…

It's not that we feel sorry for that empty vessel,said Gaster.But that is all it is: a vessel. Destroying the vessel is pointless. They will only restart from their last save.

What should we do then?asked Sans.

We must trap it,said Gaster.However, that will be difficult if they too can manipulate code. We must inform Alphys of this new development.

Sans drifted back to the Ruins. There was no point trying to set up traps if everything was about to reset. He just wanted to see Toriel before everything rewound.

All Sans found was a pile of dust.

No…thought Sans in horror.Tori, were you really so…

It will reset, Sans,Gaster assured.She'll be alright.

But this…thisis the loop she's stuck in now?Sans asked, shaking. His eyes burned.That's she dies no matter what the human does? Even before all that…Tori, you were always miserable here, weren't you?

There was a quick shift in code, and suddenly the dust pile was gone. The world had reset.

That meant that time was already ticking. How long did he have until Toriel and the human arrived down here? He shot up to the house. The human was already going down the stairs, though Toriel had not yet noticed.

Sans flew back to the the Snowdin side of the ruined door, and used his powers to start prying rubble from it.

What are you doing?asked Gaster.

This barrier isn't stopping the human anyway,said Sans. It's only trapping Tori. If we can open it up, maybe Tori will leave. Maybe…maybe we can even get her to come to Waterfall! I can free her then!

Most of the rubble was melted together, however, so only small chunks were giving way. Even his gravity and Gaster's extra stamina didn't help much with a bunch of metal and rocks melded into one massive boulder.

Dammit, c'mon! Tori and the kid'll be here any minute!

Sans heard heavy yet rapid footfalls.

"What's going on down here?" Undyne shouted, as she dashed toward the shaking boulder.What's this panicky feeling all of a sudden? It's just a buncha rocks."Is someone trying to get out?"Didn't I hear someone yell earlier?

Yes! Undyne! Perfect!thought Sans.But wait, why can we hear her thoughts too? She's not part of us.Only then did Sans's notice how her soul occasionally pulsed black.Huh? Our black magic works on her?Sans would have thought her too stubborn to be susceptible to it.

Remember, Undyne too has been unstable since the end of the original world,Gaster explained.We have reached out to her many times, though rarely has she listened.

Undyne lunged forward and seized the half-melted boulder, her fingers indenting the hard stone. She grunted as she pulled back forcefully.

So why's she listening now?asked Sans.

"Man, this thing'sreallystuck…but I ain't losing to norock!" Undyne snarled as she yanked harder.

Hard to say,said Gaster.For now,give her power.

That's right,shewas linked to Gaster too, if only a little. Sans let his soul be redirected from his mostly-useless gravity magic to Undyne instead. She could only receive a trickle of that power, but it would be more than enough for this.

The eye under Undyne's eye patch flashed, while the yellow of her good eye darkened. With a hefty squeeze she crushed the boulder to bits.

Yes!said Sans.

"Yes!" shouted Undyne, gleefully stomping the rubble to bits. The eye under her patch blazed. "Finally!Finally! I-" Now that the initial rush of victory had passed, Undyne was now staring at the pulverized rock blankly. "How'd I evendothat? Whoa, maybe it ain't just Papyrus getting new powers…Oh man, this issoawesome!"

Sans couldn't help but laugh. If she thoughtthiswas power…

Whatisthis power though?…it's like I have a bunch of hearts instead of one?Undyne wondered. Her eye twitched. "Is someone…laughing at me?"

We are,said Sans, after sensing approval from Gaster.Heya.

Sans laughed again as Undyne jolted and looked around her in confusion. His mirth soon infected the others, until Gaster made them all quiet. He still left talking to Sans, however. Sans was surprised Undyne didn't recognize him. Was his thought-voice so different from his speaking voice?

Anyway, that's only a little of our power,Sans went on.It's too bad we can't give you more right now, or this world would never have to worry about anything ever.

"Huh? Whaddaya you mean?" Undyne shouted into the empty forest.

Think, don't shout,said Sans.Otherwise other monsters might think you're crazy.

Undyne scowled.Uh…thinking?Her soul was guarded, but Sans expected no less.

Yep,said Sans.C'mon, you've seen enough anime to know how this works, right? Special mystic force calls out to heroine with telepathy. Y'know. to let them know they're chosen and all that. Well guess what?

Undyne's eyes widened.Wait, seriously?I'mchosen or be a magical warrior or something?A huge grin broke out on her face.Yes! Iknewthis would happen someday!

Sans was glad that Gaster kept him from laughing.. Thank god that Undyne still thought anime was real. This would make everythingsomuch easier...

Yep, you've been chosen by the Amalgamate to be our next heroine!Sans went on dramatically. He even did elaborate gestures as he spoke, though Undyne couldn't see them.For this world needs a hero! And who better than the captain of the Royal Guard herself, Undyne, to become the undefeatable heroineThe Undying?

"Damn straight!" Undyne proclaimed, before quickly hushing herself. Her eyes darted around for any possible onlookers.So, uh, can I tell Alphys?

She already knows,said Sans solemnly.Or she will soon, anyway. We've been keeping contact with her, in preparation for a time such as this.

Wait, seriously?Undyne answered with unbridled glee.Alphys gets to save the world with me? That's gonna make this evenmoreawesome!

Welp, she's not gonna be fighting right alongside you,Sans explained.She's in more of a support role. But she's important nonetheless.

Well, guess she ain't really a fighter, so…Alright! That's still cool!said Undyne.So…uh, what do we have to do? Do we have to fight off a giant sixty-foot octopus or something?

Sans heard hastened footsteps from the now-open Ruins hallway.

Not anything that flashy yet,said Sans,Right now, you must protect the queen, and escort her to Waterfall.

The queen?asked Undyne, before she spotted the white goat lady running up to the entrance. Behind her walked the child, as impassive as ever.

The child that is with her…Sans paused as he tried to think of the best way to explain it.That child is our enemy, but don't go after it yet. Right now any attacks are pointless. But if we can also get the child to Waterfall, we'll be able to make it vulnerable there.

"What is the meaning of this?" Toriel demanded. "Are youthateager to slaughter this child?" Fireballs flared in her open palms.

"Uh…no?" said Undyne. "I just…uh, thought I heard somebody trying to get out. So since I'm the hero of the Underground, of course I was gonna help!" Undyne paused as Toriel's expression remained stern. "So…you're the queen, huh? Long time no see?" Her eye twitched a little.

So let's get this child somewhere safe,suggested Gaster.I know it's a human, but if your Majesty wants it protected, then I will protect it.

"Yeah, let's get this kid somewhere safe," Undyne parroted. "I know it's a human…and I don't knowwhyyou want to protect a human…but you're the queen, so I'll protect the human too!"

I know someone in Waterfall that might be able to help,said Sans.

"I…uh, know someone in Waterfall," Undyne said. "Yeah! Alphys! She loves humans and their stuff! She's…uh, normally in Hotland…but I bet she can meet us at Waterfall! She's always rooting around the dump for things, so…yeah, that should work!"

Toriel's gaze softened, but she still looked unsure.

"C'mon, if Ireallywanted to wreck the kid, I wouldadoneit already," Undyne growled. "Anyway, point is, with both of us around nobody from SnowdinorWaterfall's touching this human!" She pointed to the gaping hole behind them. "It's not like anything's keeping anyone out of the Ruins anymore."

Toriel glanced back to the ragged maw where the ruined door used to be and frowned. "I suppose you're right," she said, turning back to Undyne. "The Ruins are no longer a safe haven for the child. If this Alphys can provide shelter, even temporarily…alright, we will come with you, Undyne." Her face grew stern again. "However, if this is in any way a trick, you will find me a more than capable opponent."

"Yeah, gotcha, no prob," Undyne said quickly. "Though maybe wecouldfight sometime? Just for fun though. It'd be really cool to fight against a boss monster!"

"Another time perhaps," said Toriel . She wore a mild smile, but her tone remained frosty. "So, shall we get going?"

"Yeah! This way!" declared Undyne, pointing her spear ahead and marching forward.

"Thank you," said Toriel. She took the human's hand and led them along.

Hey, good job,said Sans.Just keep them safe for now. We'll get back to you more later.

Gaster dulled the connection, but did not cut it. They needed to keep the fragile bond intact, however feeble its current effect.

So…that went exceedingly well,said Gaster, now that he didn't have to worry about Undyne overhearing them.Normally it's very difficult to establish any kind of connection with her, much less one where we can properly communicate. She usually accepts us in only the most dire circ*mstances…We wonder what's different this time.

We think we know,said Sans, as he watched the strange party trek through the woods.We kinda sensed that Undyne's more insecure now. Like, she's always wanted to be stronger, but now shereallyfeels like sheneedsit. So she's more willing to accept help, especially if it has the chance to make her stronger.

And why is that?asked Gaster, though Sans sensed that he already knew.

It's because of Papyrus,said Sans.They were always close before, but now she has to take care of him too. Everyone in Snowdin loves him, but no one else could handle Papyrus for that long. It's almost like being a parent…Sans sighed.Not that we ever regret it, it was just…tiring, like everything else. Especially when we could remember what he wassupposedto be like…We wonder if Undyne's starting to sense that wrongness too, and that's also making her uneasy…

Perhaps,said Gaster.Everyone seems more unstable in this revised world, and she was alwaysphysicallyunstable to start with.

Well that's what happened after that first reformatting too, right?said Sans.The world reformed and we got reprogrammed to make up for the lost data. But you and everyone else were still gone, and deep down everyone knew something was wrong. That was the real root of despair in the Underground, not being trapped by a barrier.

Yes,said Gaster.Only now, it is even stronger, because it is more corrupted than it has ever been.

Sans curled up in the nothingness.We need to get them out. We need to geteveryoneout.

And we will, with a little patience,Gaster assured, some of his smoky tendrils coiling around Sans.We have done fine work already, Sans. Would you like to rest?

Sans wanted to, actually. The whole ordeal had been brief but emotionally draining.But we want to make sure they'll be okay…

We'll be here to watch, Sans,Gaster said.We'll let you know if anything happens before they arrive at Waterfall. Which, we suspect, won't take long at all, and we'll want to be ready for that.

We'll want to be ready for that,murmured Sans, as he let himself melt into the sweet mire.

Sans viewed everything distantly from Gaster's eyes, but without the ragged feelings tearing into him like before. He felt some of the other consciences flow around and within him, some nurturing, some only curious. He couldn't tell their individual identities, nor did he care to. He wasn't even sure whathisreal name was, his essence was so mingled with others' thoughts, memories, and emotions.

He watched as Undyne paraded through Snowdin, with the local monsters staring in shock at the little human led by the former queen of the Underground. Undyne snarled at anyone who stared too long. Toriel too cautiously eyed the other Snowdin monsters, though she still kept a dignified posture and temperament. Undyne got stuck on a couple of puzzles along the way, funnily enough, which Toriel helped her solve.

Then Papyrus showed up. He was instantly baffled about why Undyne wasprotectingthe human, and why there was a female Asgore now. He didn't try to think about it for long, however, and soon tagged along on their quest to Waterfall. He blabbed on and on to the human, though it never answered.

That didn't surprise Sans in the slightest. In fact, he had been counting on it. Sans sensed Undyne's uneasiness, but he assured her it was alright. If there was anywhere Papyrus was safest, it was with her and Toriel. Just don't leave him alone with the human. Make sure to call Alphys too. She had already been informed on what was going on.

Everyone ended up stopping at Grillby's for lunch. Only Undyne actually enjoyed it, but everyone still had fun talking and getting to know each other better. Sans wished he could join in, and told Undyne as much. Undyne then asked a barrage of questions: Why couldn't he come here? Why couldn't he taste food by himself? How was he so calm most of the time, except when it came to the queen? Did he have a crush on the queen or what? She wasn't some weird proxy for a date, was she? (Gaster and the others poked fun at Sans, much to his embarrassment, but he knew it was to make themselves seem more relatable and trustworthy to Undyne, so he didn't mind much).

It did, however, bring up something that still confused Sans. Thanks to the corruption of his memories, Sans had essentially lived two different lives as two different people. In one life he adored Toriel, even if they never got to spend much time together. In the other he had fallen for his best friend Alphys instead. Now that he had unlimited access to both sets of memories, who was the one he cared for more? The conflicting feelings were agonizing,

After the meal everyone decided to rest at Papyrus's house, before finally heading for Waterfall.

Sans noticed Flowey timidly stalked them from the shadows. Even now he seemed afraid of being directly involved in anything.


Waterfall itself was supremely smooth. Then again, it shouldn't have been too surprising: it was Undyne's area, and no one was going to mess with Undyne. Papyrus happily chatted away to the human, pointed out cascades and puzzles, He was of course oblivious to the silent tension emanating from Toriel and Undyne. Toriel was forever wary of her surroundings as she held the child's hand, while Undyne's boastful grin was strained.

Only when they reached Napstablook's snail farm did Toriel relax a little. She had always loved the snail farm, but hadn't been forever due to her self-imposed isolation. It was more than halfway through Waterfall, so it was a good place to rest.

Since Toriel had held the child's hand constantly, even now, the kid couldn't move freely. It was perfect. So, while Toriel babbled on about snails to the human, and Papyrus learned the wonders of lying around like garbage from Napstablook, Undyne slipped away.

So…I need to go to the Lab?asked Undyne, as she marched through the echo flowers.Why can't I fight the human now?

You're not ready yet,Sans said for the third time.They might not look like much, but the human is stupidly strong. If you want a chance at beating it, then you've gotta get meet with Alphys and the others.

Others?asked Undyne.What others? Alphys lives alone. You mean some other monsters from Hotland?

Welp, it'll make more sense once you get there.

What'sthatsupposed to mean?

It means you need to hurry up and get there.

Undyne growled in frustration. She went from a march to a run.

So far, so good. The trickiest part would be coming up though.

Undyne sprinted the rest of the way in her crazed enthusiasm. She barely even noticed Hotland's heat as she arrived at the Lab. If the doors didn't automatically open, she would have smashed them down like a rhino. She screeched to a halt in front of Alphys, who gave a yelp of surprise at her sudden charging arrival. Undyne bent over, puffing like a steam engine. Her ponytail hung over her in disarray, barely contained. "So…uh…hi…Alphys…"

"…Hi?" replied Alphys with a nervous grin. "So, uh, good to see you." She paused, looking away. "Um…"

"So guess what?" Undyne said, lifting her head up with a wide grin. "I'm the chosen one! I'm gonna save the Underground and everything! It rocks!"

"Y-Yeah! The others…told me," said Alphys. "Oh yeah! You gotta meet some of these…others."

"I can meet 'em? Sweet!" said Undyne, now fully straightening. "Not that telepathy and isn't cool and all, but sometimes you gotta talk face to face, y'know?"

Yep,said Sans.Just, uh, don't freak out too much, okay?

I ain't gonna freak out!Undyne protested.

You sure?

"Oh? S-So you can hear them like…the others do?" said Alphys. She couldn't hear anything, but she knew the awkward pauses and odd facial expressions meant a silent conversation was going on. She was used to it from the other amalgamates. "S-So, that'll…that'll makes things a bit easier, I hope?"

"C'mon, let's just go meet 'em already," said Undyne. "Where they at? They said they were here somewhere."

"…Downstairs…" said Alphys quietly, leading Undyne to the elevator.


"Whoa! I didn't know you had a whole other Lab down here!" exclaimed Undyne, staring around in wonder as she stepped off the elevator. "Dude, Alphys, why didn't you ever-Whoa!"

Greatest Dog, ever eager, materialized first, with the other amalgamates sliding in soon after.

"…Whoa," said Undyne, talking in their almost-solid, pale appearances. Her face crunched in confusion. "Wait, do I…knowyou guys? I mean, outside of the mind voice stuff. I swear we've met…"

"We have, in the distant past." said Mother Snowdrake. "We're surprised you recognize us, dear. That was many cycles ago."

"Many…what now?" asked Undyne.

"We were monsters destined to die," said Shyren's sister. "But Dr. Alphys saved us by injecting us with determination."

"Determination?" asked Undyne. "Wait, ain't that like, the human stuff?"

"W-W-Well, it didn't…go well, at first…for a long time…" Alphys chuckled anxiously.

"Nonsense, doctor," said Greatest Dog. "We got to live! It was confusing for a while, but you gave us a second chance! We're grateful!"

"Yeah, that's amazing Alphys!" said Undyne. "You kept monsters from dying! That's something only the Royal Scientist can do!"

"W-W-Well…." Alphys began, looking embarrassed. "I'm just glad that it worked out and I…got help. It looked…really bad for awhile…"

"Who helped?" asked Undyne.Why not askmefor help?

We helped,explained Sans.And Alphys was too scared to ask anyone for help. She thought everyone would hate her.

I wouldn't have hated her!

Butyouhate glitches,said Sans.And that's what they are, and whatweare.

"Glitches?" said Undyne

Alphys tensed up.

So you hate them now?said Sans.They should have died. Their existence is unnatural.

Undyne glanced the amalgamates and Alphys, and then back the the amalgamates. "How could I hate them? They fought to stay alive, and Alphys fought to keep them alive." She noticed Alphys relaxing, and Undyne relaxed as well. "To stay alive no matter what crap happens to us…that's the definition of atruemonster!" She frowned.And you guys are glitches too, huh?

We used to be monsters like you,said Sans.We're supposed to exist, but….well, the world had other ideas. Now no one remembers us.

Uh, wait, what are you talking about?

"The human controls the world," said Shyren's sister, even though it was a thought from Undyne. They were connected enough to hear her thoughts too.

Undyne jumped a little, not expecting her thought to be answered by one of the present amalgamates. "Seriously? The human'sthatpowerful?"

Reaper Bird nodded. "We were lucky enough to get Alphys's help. They were not."

"So…you guys are like ghosts now? Only even weirder?" asked Undyne.

"Something like that," said Sans through Reaper Bird.

Undyne really jumped that time, pointing her spear at Reaper Bird.

Sans couldn't help but laugh.

:Yeah, they…do that, sometimes," said Alphys. "They can't manifest here very well, so they, uh, take over Reaper Bird sometimes. They totally have Reaper Bird's permission though. They can even use Reaper Bird to shapeshift to what they're supposed to look like. Cool huh?"

"Ooo, that's pretty cool!" said Undyne.Hey! Can I see what you really look like then?

Sans felt slightly uneasy. He and Undyne hadn't gotten off to the best start back in Waterfall.

Undyne sensed that reluctance, and got more tense.Hey, you don't want to do it? Why not?

Sans knew this wasn't the time to doubt himself, or her.Nah, we're surprised you accepted us that fast. We're kinda used to the opposite happening. Anyway…He let himself be channeled into Reaper Bird, who shifted to his form. "Heya."

Undyne gaped at him. "Hey! Ain't you-"

""Yeah, we're the bonehead who tried to materialize in Waterfall," Sans admitted with a sheepish grin. "Sorry about that. We weren't expecting to actuallyscarethe heroine of the Underground. But we guess we jumped the gun a bit."

The subtle taunt worked. "I wasn't scared! I just didn't want Papyrus getting hurt. Y'know, since I had no idea what you were and stuff."

"Good point," said Sans. "And good idea. Bro is…well…"

"Oh! So you're brothers?" asked Alphys. "Or, uh,werebrothers?"

"Huh? Seriously?" said Undyne. "You do kinda look like that Sans guy Papyrus always draws…Is that…That reallyisyour name, isn't it? Sans?"

"Yup," the stout skeleton replied. "Then we got kicked out of existence, so…yeah. Kinda surprised Bro remembers us at all, since…well, too badyoudon't. We've had some real good fights." Sans laughed.

"Whoa…So this…whoa…" said Undyne. "Uh…so we used to be friends, or rivals, or something, But I don't remember since you only kinda-sorta-not-really exist? Uh…this might take a while for me to really get used to…"

"Welp, itisa real brain twister," said Sans, "In our case it helps that skeletons don't actually have brains."

"Har har," said Undyne dryly. "WellIdo, so can you explain it better?"

"Hmm…" said Sans in mock contemplation. "The best way to do that…Welp, the best way to do that is to show you what you've been missing."

"Huh? Whaddaya mean?" asked Undyne.

"We sent you to the Lab for a reason," said Sans. "And that's because these guys here are the key to your victory, and ours. Once you really get to know them, and us, then it'll all make sense." His raised his left arm, which began to emanate a dark aura. "You'll just have to trust us. You're not scared, are you?"

Undyne grinned. "Scared? I've never been more ready! Bring it on!"


The cat and bug soldiers, like Doge, are references to two unused enemies in the game. Their mechanics are similar the rabbit and dragon pair from Hotland. There is also an unused Toriel sprite called her suicide sprite (it doesn't look much different from her regular death sprite, except her mouth is different.) It's assumed that this sprite was originally going to be used if she accidentally killed the player. Btw, something I forgot to mention last chapter - the other assistants are based on the Gaster followers you have a chance of encountering in-game. They have no real names, so I named them after after silly font names to keep in line with Gaster and Sans.

Chapter 12: Break the Fate


Gaster and Sans's plan finally kicks into full gear. But will that bring anyone happiness, or change anything at all?


Alright, it all comes down to this! The finale chapter! :D

Later I tweaked some details in this chapter, mostly so that Gaster's plan and motives make more sense. Also removed a bunch of stupid spelling errors, since my eyes weren't in great shape when I first wrote it.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Tonight's forecast: Dark. Continued dark tonight turning to partly light in the morning." -George Carlin

File 12: Break the Fate

Undyne stalked through the marsh, silent and stern. So many things reflected in the puddles. all illusions. She ignored to the empty glitchy babble of the echo flowers, or the wet ceiling crying down on her armor. All illusions. There was only one goal that mattered in this cold cave.

Everyone…she thought, feeling the power permeate through her muscles and soul.

Alphys had been scared, even when Undyne reassured her. She couldn't blame her though. Alphys was always scared, even in the best outcomes. Undyne hated that. Knowing that alone could have driven Undyne to change, especially since they had ended up together in the better timelines. It still felt so surreal even thinking about it, and that was the mostnormalthing she had learned.

Inevitably Undyne arrived back at the snail farm. She was greeted warmly by Papyrus and coldly by Toriel. It didn't matter. None of this mattered. All that mattered was the child between them.

"Human," Undyne growled. "No,whateveryou are. Whateveranyof this is." She pointed her spear at the kid.

"What are you doing?" Toriel hissed back. "I told you to not harm this child!" Fireballs flared in both her palms.

"Wait! I don't understand! Why are we fighting?" asked Papyrus, looking panicked.

"Everyone's hearts…We feel everyone's hearts beating within us…" Undyne said quietly, closing her eyes. "Demanding for justice, freedom, salvation…" Her eyes snapped open. Her body rippled, and there was a sudden flash of light. A moment later, Undyne stood as Undyne the Undying. "We finally hear them! We finally understand! And now we can finally strike you down!"

"Undyne? What are you going on about?" asked Papyrus.

"So you have turned on us after all," growled Toriel, stepping in front of the human. "But I will not let you hurt this child! They have done nothing wrong!"

How untrue that was, but of course Toriel didn't know that. There was no way shecouldknow that, so it wasn't her fault. Undyne only knew because she now had the memories of all those monsters that had been deleted and forgotten. There had been so much she hadn't known, hadn't even considered possible. Yet it seemed strangely obvious now that she was aware of it.

Undyne had no intention of fighting Toriel. That was okay though. Undyne wasn't alone.

From the ground before Undyne roiled a white liquid. With a garbled cry it rose and solidified into a glitchy, half-melted mass that barely resembled Sans. No wonder he preferred to puppet one of the amalgamates here instead. It was a painful incarnation, but it provided him with enough power to do the job.

Even brave Toriel took a step back in shock. "What is that?"

Papyrus, on the other hand, beamed. "Hey, it's Sans! You're okay!"

"S-Sans?" asked Toriel

"Heya," said Sans. His speech was in wingdings, but Undyne understood him perfectly now. "Welp, this could get ugly. Let's get you guys somewhere else." His dark eyes flashed blue, and everyone except for Undyne and the human were teleported elsewhere. Good.

As a warm-up Undyne shot volleys of circling spears. The human dodged them with surprisingly skill. Though really, why was she surprised? The human had the practice and knowledge of endless resets. Their face stayed infuriatingly calm. When the spear rain finally broke, the human did nothing during the pause.

Trying to spare us, huh?thought Undyne, as she froze the human in place with her green magic. The human also got a movable shield to fend off the next storm of spears. Once again, the human showed their skill in defending, only getting hit by a few attacks. Once again, they did nothing in return.

Undyne released them prematurely, before spears stabbed through the ground. The human hopped over the increasingly rapid strikes, not getting hit at all.

The human probably thought this was so easy. The human was right. The human needed to stay alive, at least for now.

Instead of spears, Undyne summoned flying sickles of ice and a pack of phantasmal dogs. Smiling canines faces slit open on the shoulders of Undyne's armor, and Mother Snowdrake's face formed on her breastplate. Undyne sneered as she watched the human scramble around the unexpected attacks.

Bad human! Bad!

This is for making my son and husband suffer!

When the barrage finally stopped, the human took the time to down a Cinnabun. The child's expression remained placid.

"Heh…human," said Undyne, the surface of her armor writhing. "We know what you are. We know what you've been doing. And it's going to stopnow, becauseeveryoneis with us!Everyone's gonna take you down!"


Sans, Papyrus, Toriel, and Flowey popped back into existence at the garbage dump in Waterfall. Flowey's bewilderment and utter terror was especially funny. He had been watching from the shadows, but even he was whisked away by Sans's teleportation. The others hardly noticed him, however. As they tried to figure out what just happened.

While everyone whipped their heads around in confusion, Sans looked down to the lone flower patch at his feet. This was the exact spot his original life ended. Of all the stupid things to survive the corruption were the flower seeds clinging to his lab coat…

"Oh! Hi!"

Sans would've jumped out of his skin if he had any. Instead he briefly became more garbled and pixilated. "H-Heya Alphys!" He thought he had told her to stay in the Lab…

"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Toriel. "How did we get here?" She also noticed Flowey nearby. "What is this flower?"

"Oh! That's my friend Flowey!" Papyrus exclaimed. "Hi Flowey!"

Flowey stayed awkwardly silent as everyone stared at him.

"Uh…." Alphys began. "It's…well, kinda hard to explain concisely?"

"It means we get to chill out here for now," said Sans. He had to constantly remind himself to not speak wingdings. When Toriel turned to leave, he used his blue magic to set several piles of garbage in the way. "Nope." He saw Flowey burrowing underground under the corner of his eye. "Also nope." He levitated Flowey out of the ground, scooped some dirt into a beat-up bucket, and put Flowey in it. "There."

"Oh yeah?" said Flowey, unleashing two vines from the tiny bucket.

Sans easily hopped back and forth dodging the twin vines. "You gonna be that way, huh? That's fine too."

"Hey! You forgot Undyne and the human!" Papyrus pointed out, more worried about that than the strange circ*mstances he was in.

"Undyne and the human need a little heart-to-heart," said Sans. "Or rather, soul-to-soul. Don't worry though, nobody's killing anyone."

"Yeah! Undyne just needs to…de-power the human," Alphys explained. "Which means, uh, take the power we need from the human without killing them. T-There's a way to do that now! S-So then we can break the barrier and go free, and the human can stay with us too! Well, if they want to, anyway."

"And the child…will be fine?" Toriel still sounded skeptical.

"Yeah," said Sans. "We're just taking the kid's determination, not his soul."

"And you're gonna do that how?" asked Toriel.

"We just need Undyne to break the game a little."


Undyne cackled gleefully as magic spun around the human like a cyclone: spears, sickles, dogs, dog barks, music notes, vegetables, flies, butterflies, and so much more. The game was actually lagging from the absurd amount of attacks. Good. This all felt so good. The human was only alive because some of the projectiles were purposefully missing, though the kid had to heal every turn.

…No, it wasn't just that. Even the intended blows were inexplicably missing. So their true nature was showing after all.

It was time to end this charade then.

Undyne swiped her spear, which was now decorated with the faces of several monsters, and froze the human with green magic. Only this time, she didn't give them a shield to defend themselves with. She was done being chivalrous.

Every attack collided with the hapless human. The human's HP dropped to 1, then 0.1, then 0.01, on and on. Still the soul refused to break under the endless onslaught.

The human's face was smiling, with scarlet eyes.

Undyne only sneered in return. So this was Chara, the human's proxy, the cruel enforcer, and the keeper of the human's soul.

"You cannot delete me," said Chara calmly. "The game will not allow it."

The infinite attack continued for a few moments, before petering out. Undyne relaxed her stance, though her armor still squirmed with monsters. "We could rip you apart until the end of time, and never get sick of it." All the others spoke with her. "But that won't do any good, will it? We get that now." She glared at the human. "But don't even think for asecondthat we're giving up."

Chara, now freed, took a step forward, and then lunged with its knife. The blade sunk through Undyne's chest despite the thick armor.

Undyne, however, held her toothy grin. Her HP, instead of stopping at zero, rolled into a near-infinite HP value. Such was the true power Gaster: underflow. "See? You can't kill us either. So now what? Want a cooking lesson with that knife?"

Chara simply twisted the blade, ignoring Undyne's taunt.

Undyne felt a spike of panic as everything scrambled. But she knew it would be okay. The others were here to keep her together. The others were…she was…they were…we were…she was….

…Who? Who was she?

Real fear bolted up, but it was quickly peeled apart, along with the rest of her.


"Wait, but breaking the game like that…it'll put the whole world in danger!" protested Flowey, speaking for the first time. "Especially Undyne! Is that really what you want, Sans?"

"That's the point," said Sans. "If we want to change the world, we need to change Undyne."

"Uh…change?" asked Alphys. "W-What do you mean?"

"Help her reach her fullest potential. She doesfantasticunder the right pressure, trust me." said Sans.


The fish warrior's defiant sneer became a tranquil smile. "Why thank you, Chara."

What the hell is going on?Undyne demanded among the madly joyous feelings of the others.Why areyouin control now? This wasn't the deal!

Chara stared up, disbelieving, or perhaps just uncomprehending.

"Not only has your attack on Undyne's soul allowed us to properly absorb her," Gaster went on, as Undyne's face and voice slowly melted into his. "But it allows us to have unlimited access to her full power."

What? You…you bastards tricked us!

We did no such thing,said Gaster.We must save the world by breaking it down and rebuilding it. It may seem cruel, but it would be crueler to only watch everyone rot away under the constant resets. You know that just as well as the rest of us.

A shockwave of green magic exploded from Undyne's body, enveloping everything in the room. The cavern's calming music was reduced to one rapid repetitive note as even the droplets stopped mid-air. The cavern became frigid as the game froze.

But what about everyone still here?Undyne demanded.You gonna just destroy them too?

Those willing to survive and evolve will merge with us, just as you have,said Gaster. There was no need for physical speech anymore.

Rage exploded from Undyne.We won't let you do this!

Gaster grinned at the outburst, and the frozen Chara.

Ah, we know that anger,Gaster's manic grin spread even wider.And we know its true source, that drive, even better than you.

Wha-?began Undyne.Why are youhappythat we yelled at you?

So much natural determination, misused and misguided for so long...said Gaster. You wasted it all on staying alive.The best use is much simpler. Watch.

Gaster closed his eyes as the raw determination coursed through him. When he opened his eyes, they shone with pinpricks of scarlet light.Save,Gaster tranquilly commanded.

The code shifted subtly but successfully.

Gaster grinned with glee. This washisworld now. And, to make sure hestayedthe one with the most determination…

A skeletal hand budded off Undyne's liquefying body, snatching the human soul out of Chara's chest. The red heart lay quivering in the bony palm, even now trying to defy the freeze. The soul was swallowed by wet coils of darkness snaking out of the armor. Even more power pulsed through Gaster.

Now, nothing will ever stop us again!


Sans suddenly felt a new power pulse through him. Determination. A moment later there was subtle shift in code. A save. Gaster now had control of the game, and therefore the world.

Sans was grinning madly. "Y'know what? It doesn't matter.." Both of his eyes shone scarlet. "Because this world isoursnow, and we're going to tear down this illusion and make somethingreal."

The cavern flashed colors and started flickering. Pixels sprouted and swarmed on the walls, fluttering about like sickened butterflies. Waterfall's music slowed and distorted to the point of being unrecognizable.

"Run!" Flowey shouted.

Toriel looked alarmed, and then stern. She took Papurus's hand while also scooping up Flowey's pot with her free arm, forcing them all to flee.

Sans only found their retreat funny. Where did they think they were going to go? The whole world would be nothing soon enough.

We have had all the time in the world,said Gaster.But we have also been waiting such a long time for this triumph. Perhaps we can speed it along, Sans?

Sans instantly knew what Gaster wanted him to do. He used his blue magic to increase his own gravity, and drew the scattering glitches toward him. They spun around him in a tight orbit, creating a ever-thickening sphere of data around him. These would be the raw material of a new world, one that wasn't bound by loops or humans. The whirling jumble of numbers and colors was mesmerizing. For a moment, Sans remembered why he was so reluctant to leave this world. He kept escalating his gravitational pull to draw more and more in, closer and closer.

Soon, in the swirling mass of data around him, Sans saw souls as well as pixels and numbers. Sans couldn't sense their exact identities or emotions like he could with Gaster and the others, but he detected an overwhelming aura of confusion and fear. It wasn't so different from when Flowey absorbed everyone at the end of a True Pacifist run: they were still alive, but their physical forms had been stripped away. Sans wondered how much was left of the world outside.

Most of Waterfall has already been absorbed,said Gaster.Would you like to see?

Gaster showed Sans before he had a chance to answer. The area outside of his sphere was nothing but blackness, extending to the edges of Waterfall. Streams of pixels and souls flowed to the massive data sphere spinning around Sans. Data was quickly peeled away from what was left of Waterfall, including a couple of Aarons trying to flee.

Sans didn't want to watch anymore.

Does this upset you?asked Gaster, letting the view fade away.It is either this one death and rebirth for everyone, or perishing pointlessly over and over.

We know,said Sans.We just don't want to see it. We've watched enough suffering, haven't we?

We understand,said Gaster.Keep increasing your gravity to make this quicker.

We already are,said Sans. Despite the bewildered misery of the souls caught, Sans wanted to keep them as close as possible. He wanted to absorb the souls, but…actually, whynotabsorb the souls? They were going to take in the souls anyway. They needed them and the world data separate so they could properly reshape and reprogram it.

Go ahead,said Gaster.Just don't absorb too much world code. It could interfere with our processing ability.There was another subtle shift as Gaster saved again, just in case.

Gotcha,said Sans, as he cast gravity magic on the caught souls. They zoomed toward him like shooting stars, and were easily assimilated into Sans's semi-liquid body. He felt the souls accumulate within him.

They screamed, pumping raw anger, sorrow and terror into Sans relentlessly.

I don't wanna die!

Save me!


Someone! Anyone! Stop this!

Am I dying?


"Help!" shouted Sans, as more despairing souls plummeted into him faster and faster. His gravity magic was increasing beyond his control, fueled by the frantic hearts as well as his own. He sucked in world data as well as souls. "Boss!"

Sans could sense Gaster trying to calm Sans and the collected souls, but the hearts were piling up too rapidly. The massive influx of junk world data also made everything sluggish, including Sans. There was a small blip in the code.

Sans blinked, suddenly back to the beginning of the data gathering. So Gaster had reset. How wonderful to finally have that power as their own!

Already souls were being swept up. Sans lessened his blue magic as to avoid sucking them up. They would have to be absorbed eventually, but since trying to take them while reformatting the world data turned out to be averybad idea…

…Wait, why were they coming for Sans anyway? He decreased his pull even more, to the point where the world data was barely held in orbit.

It had no effect. They slammed into him anyway, desperate for something, anything to anchor them.

Help us! Help us! Help us!

Once again Sans's magic went out of control as he was overcome by their panic and despair, which in turn only sucked in more souls and unwanted world data.

Everything reset again. This time Sans would make sure the souls couldn't reach him. He cast blue magic on every soul that appeared, making them dive toward each other instead of him. He lessened his pull on the world data just to be safe.

It seemed fine at first. However, in their bewildered panic the souls started to shoot of random magic attacks. Some stayed in orbit, while others struck Sans. It was a good thing he had Gaster there to supply him with endless HP. More importantly though, the other souls were struck too. Some shattered from those attacks. Others broke when they ran into each other too many times.

Boss! This won't work either!said Sans

Thiswillwork,said Gaster.We can just reconstruct them once we've reformed the world.

Will that really work though?asked Sans.If it does, won't…Won't that prove that we're just code?

It doesn't matter at this point. What we need to do is rebuild this world, and then link everyone together. Shattered souls are unfortunate, but not irreparable. It will just take more time.

Can we reset, to see if we can avoid that? Almost everybody's gonna be broken at this rate…

.Very well.

For the fourth time Sans went back to the start. Once again, he made them move toward each other instead of him, though he carefully manipulated them so they never crashed into each other. When any of them fired magic of their own, Sans used his magic to manipulate those too. Soon the area around him was awash in blue pinpricks of light.

Okay…Now…Just gotta hold it…

Sans gathered more data than he had before. Maybe this would work. Though he did not look forward to when it was finally time to absorb all these souls. Even the other hearts within Gaster dreaded it, after those awful experiences before. Only Gaster seemed unfazed. Was that the power of determination as well?

More and more souls arrived. Sans wondered if any of them were Toriel, Alphys, Flowey or Papyrus. He doubted they made it out of Waterfall, but he hadn't sensed them when they absorbed souls before. Maybe they just got lost among all the others, or were panicking just as much. It made Sans feel sad. He was doing this for everyone, but he did it for them in particular. Once this was all done…

Sans never realized there were so many souls, even when they joined together at the end of a Pacifist route. It was hard to maintain all this blue magic on so many things, and getting harder. There were always more souls, attacks, and world data to juggle . There was so much, everything slowing down…

We…almost there…?Even his thoughts were getting sluggish.


The game froze. Sans was irritated, not just because this halted progress, but he couldn't even release his blue magic to rest for a moment. Even with Gaster backing him up, stretching his blue magic so thin was strenuous. However, Sans could feel the power building up dangerously within him, even though his body couldn't move.Boss…Reset…

Gaster's frustration stabbed like Chara's knife, but it eventually ebbed into dull resignation.…Fine.

Load failed.

What is this?hissed Gaster.

Load failed.

Load failed.

It worked before! We still have the human's and Undyne's determination! Why isn't this working?

Load failed.

Load failed.

Boss…Sans said. If it was just a freeze, Sans wouldn't have been so anxious. Gaster wasn't disabled by freezes, and could just reabsorb him. But Gaster was so focused on trying to reset, while the world was twitching back to life…all while Sans had so much blue magic trapped inside him…

Load failed.

Load failed.

Why?hissed Gaster.


The game abruptly unfroze. Sans's magic, so pent up, went of control almost instantly. Everything plummeted into him from all sides.


Load failed.

How was it that Gaster had so much power, and yet everything was already unraveling? Sans could hardly think under all the noise and panic, He curled into a tight ball from all the gravity packed within him.

Don't kill us!

I don't wanna die!


"Please…" Sans murmured. "I just want to live…"


Undyne?thought Sans.

Nah, it's the tooth fairy. Of course it's me!said Undyne.And if we're stuck with you guys then we'renotputting up with everyone's whining for eternity! Soshut up!

We're doomed…

I knew this was going to happen…

Why even…

I saidshut up! yelled Undyne.If you wanna live thenlive!Iknowyou want to live! Especiallyyou,Sans! You haven't gone through all of this jus to mope til the end of time, right?

We don't wanna die!

We…asked Sans.Not I…We…

We don't wanna die!

Shut up!shouted Undyne, and Sans sensed her releasing a huge burst of green magic. Everything froze, including the flow of data and souls. He was grateful for the sudden quiet, though he still felt like he was being crushed into nothingness by the other souls and his own gravity.

Look, I know you said I'd understand everything once I remembered,Undyne began.And, uh, it does explain, like, a lot. But it also tells me howwrongyou guys are.You're not supposed to be like this. You're supposed to be a bunch of carefree geeks. Y'know, trolling us warriors, watching anime, and discovering lots of weird stuff that make things better. Now you're just a bunch of depressed whiners.

We're not…Sans began.

Don't give me that crap of being peaceful and happy either,Undyne interrupted.If you were really peaceful and happy, you wouldn't want to destroy everything.Undyne paused.I knowwhyyou're doing it, and why you feel that way…I still can't believe it's all just a game…but do you guysreallythink being likethisis any better?

But we can't go back now, even if we wanted to,said Sans, sadly staring at the frozen souls and pixels around him.Even this…even if we could keep everything stopped forever, what good will it do? Everyone might as well be dead if they're frozen, and Gaster's not responding.Why was Gaster not responding? Had even he become overwhelmed by the torrent of data and souls?

There was a mischievous spark from Undyne.But that's where you're wrong, punk.There'sonemonster that my magic willneverwork on. Someone who'llnevergive up on you. You know who that is, don't you?


Papyrus shot through the sphere of garbage data, a blazing orange comet.

Papyrus!Sans thought. He could neither speak or move because of Undyne's game freeze. How did Papyrus still have his physical form? Then Sans saw that he had not one but five souls shining inside his ribcage.He took the others' souls just to get to me in one piece?He could hardly imagine Papyrus doing such a thing, even in a emergency.

Nah, theygavehim their souls,said Undyne.Causetheywant you outta here too. Besides, it was either that or get sucked up into this wreck.

How do you know this?asked Sans.

Cause instead of being all depressed and crap I was actually trying to get help,said Undyne.Though I get why you guys both love and hate resets now…man, if only I knew I had determination before...of course now I don't have any...but that ain't gonna stop me!

The meteor-like aura around Papyrus was steadily overtaken with blue light instead of orange. His brother slowed as the blue magic took over, until he was almost to Sans.

Okay, this is gonna suck for awhile, but hey, you can handle it after everything else, right?said Undyne. She abruptly cut off her green magic.

Sans screamed as the other souls wailed back to terrified un-life and his gravity squeezed tighter and tighter on him.

We don't want to die! We don't want to die! We don't want to die!

I don't want to die! I don't want to die! I don't want die!Sans thought along with them.

Papyrus's gravity increased exponentially too, however, sucking in data and souls from Sans. The drain of data and soul was excruciating yet relieving to Sans, but he heard his brother screaming too.

Papyrus, don't do this yourself…thought Sans.You don't want any part of this…

We don't wanna die! We don't wanna die! We don't wanna die!

I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die!thought Sans. His panic began to morph into anger.I'm notgonnadie!

You hear that guys?Undyne crowed.We're not gonna die! Werefuseto die!

We're not gonna die! We're not gonna die! We're not gonna die!

Sans's gravity stopped growing heavier, though it still pressed on him terribly. Between the lessened pull and Papyrus absorbing some of the excess data, the influx of souls became manageable.

That's it! Show 'em that you'renevergoing down, even when you should be dead!Undyne shouted.

We're not gonna die! We're not gonna die! We're not gonna die!

"I'm gonnalive!"shouted Sans.

Something shot out of the darkness, shedding blackness as it streaked down. It slammed down into Sans, making him gasp. A moment later his soul pulsed a clear blue in his chest.

Gaster's black magic was gone from his soul. It felt disconcerting, but not as much as Sans dreaded. If anything, he felt…free? Sans hadn't felt this awake in forever.

But what did this mean for Gaster?

We will live! We will live! We will live!

Undyne's soul streaked down next, black quickly turning green, merging with Papyrus. His pained yells soon became defiant roars, his eyes blazing like orange-and-blue suns. Sans suspected that she could have left at any time, but was set on saving him and the other souls first. She was indeed the heroine of the Underground. Who needed determination when you haddetermination?

True determination...was that what Gaster lacked? It seemed like such an absurd thought, considering how hard Gaster had worked to get to this point, and yet...

Now back in control of his magic, Sans stopped absorbing world data and reduced the flow of souls to a controllable level. Papyrus was no longer screaming, only bearing the look of a stoic warrior. Soon there were no more stray souls left, only orbiting junk data in the blackness.

…But there were still more souls to save, caught in the despairing darkness that was Gaster. Still, even with these myriad souls within him, or maybe because of it, Sans was so tired…

"Are you alright?" asked Papyrus, as he caught Sans as he sagged down. He checked his stats. "…1 HP out of 1? Thatcan'tbe right…"

Sans chuckled. "Well, itkindais."

Papyrus still looked worried. "Hold on, let me give you these two." He used his gravity magic to bring out two souls, and then pressed them into Sans's chest. "They've both been very worried about you."

Sans! Are you okay?asked Alphys.

How are you now, Sans?asked Toriel.

"H-Hey Tori, Alphys…" said Sans. "I…think I'm okay now…But you guys…" Sans turned to the littered destruction around them. He and Papyrus would be falling forever if they couldn't cancel out gravity. "Everyone…Everything…"

"Don't worry, I'm sure we'll figure something out!" said Papyrus brightly. "That's what Flowey says anyway!" He paused. "Oh! Asriel I mean! He says he seen a lot of bad stuff, but he knows we can do this! Me taking in the others' souls washisidea, so we can all work together! Isn't that neat?"

Sans chuckled a little. Leave it to Papyrus to still not fully understand what he had done. It surprised Sans that Flowey had let himself be absorbed…then again, maybe not. He had borne that burden many times before on previous Pacifist routs, maybe he wanted someone to lead him instead.

The darkness around Sans and Papyrus roiled. Gaster was not happy about losing so many souls, especially two souls he had already claimed. Sans didn't need a connection to know that. He also didn't need black magic to know that something was going wrong with Gaster. Did taking the human's soul have unexpected side effects?

Sure enough, a black drop oozed from the endlessness above. It shifted into Gaster's dark semi-fluid form, before his dark body unfurled to reveal his true white, shining form. The pixels around him flickered more rapidly than usual, as his pit-like eyes shone with red light.

"Tell us why you left," said Gaster coldly.

"Eh, I was just sick of feeling sorry for myself and thinking everything not us was terrible," said Sans. "Now, thanks to you, everything's too corrupted to saveorreset. Guess you never thought of that, huh?"

"Sans, we can still make this work," said Gaster. "Especially since we're now out of that death loop. The world's undone, true, but it had to be. It's just as well that we can't reset, to avoid the same problems becoming part of the new world. Now we just have tomakethat world. You and your brother just have to release the world code you assimilated. Then we can take care of the souls you both harbor, and everything can finally beright."

"Only itwon'tbe right," said Sans. "Because you don't understand anything about life anymore.Yourkind of world would only be where nothing ever moves forward. Because progress toward anything means an eventual end, right?"

"What? Are you saying that you wouldwanta world that ends?" asked Gaster. "A world that only results in pain? No, we want a world without time or change, so that everything and everyone will never have to face the pain of death and resets. So that everyone can stay their true selves forever. A time where no one will fall...We are tired of marching forward without meaning...so tired..."

"So you just want to exactly how it used to be, before that first corruption?" Sans went on. "Only itwon'tbe, because those times aregone.They've been gone for a long time, and I'm bone-tired of thinking about them."

"If we wantedthat,we would-" Gaster snapped, before calming himself. "Sans...The cycle is finally broken. We need to make sure itstaysbroken. Otherwise, it will all be pointless...No, it muststaypointless..."

"What are you even talking about?" asked Sans.

"Mr. Gaster, I don't know you, but you seem even sadder than my brother was," said Papyrus. "Oh yeah! Flow…er, Asriel told me you're my brother Sans! Hello brother! I still don't know how I forgot that." He looked annoyed with himself.

"Don't worry, you never did, not really," said Sans. "But I want the manga to be at least 100 volumes long, got it?"

"Of course!" chirped Papyrus.

Sans heard what sounded like a guttural growl from Gaster.

"Oh yes! Perhaps we can help you too?" offered Papyrus. "I'll put a Mr. Gaster in my manga and everything!"

"We areDr.Gaster," Gaster snarled, his flowing lab coat flaring out angrily behind him. "And we are thelastones who need help! The ones who need help are the souls trapped within your mortal coils!"

Dark tendrils lashed out at Papyrus, but he was able to summon one of Undyne's shields to deflect the strikes.

"Hey! That was rude!" protested Papyrus, keeping the shield up.

"Resorting to violence just 'cause you're mad?" asked Sans. "You reallyhavelost it, Gaster."

"Don't even try to lecture us Sans," growled Gaster, raining sharp white pixels from his flickering coat sleeves. "Not when you know just as well as us the pointlessness of it all!"

Alphys's heart pulsed within Sans, and he fired rapid yellow blasts from his hands to shoot down the glitch projectiles. "Perhaps you're right. Our livesdon'thave a point, besides being entertainment for a being evenyoudon't understand."

"Sans!" Papyrus scolded, before blocking some of the stray flying pixels with Undyne's shield. Some spears materialized to strike down some of the pixels.

"Exactly," replied Gaster, summoning a row of Gaster Blasters before him with a swipe of his hand. "So why do you insist on standing against us, Sans?"

"Because that pointlessness give uschoice,"Sans explained. "Certain things are scripted, sure, but most of the time we're free to do whatever we want. And it's those little moments that make up the big picture." White fireballs materialized around him. "Like droplets form puddles, then lakes, and then oceans." The fire whipped around him, forming a shield that fried any projectiles. "Right Tori?"

Correct,said Toriel.To live is to appreciate all the little things. Every life must end, and that is sad, but we would not fight for life if it wasn't precious to us. We would not miss those who pass if they weren't precious to us.Sans sensed sadness, but it was a peaceful sadness.

"But then it is all erased!" snapped Gaster. "Are you content to live the same life over and over, andsufferover and over, anddieover and over?" The Gaster Blasts flew forth, shooting lasers everywhere.

"Hey, if there's one thing I've learned since remembering everything, it's that the same life can play out in a lot of different ways," said Sans, as he and Papyrus dodged the blasts. Sans shot lightning bolts from his hands to scatter the dog skulls. "Yeah, some were worse than others. But y'know what? I'm glad that I get to experience all different kinds of lives, with all different kinds of people."

Yeah!said Alphys.I may not…have the greatest life sometimes…or even a lot of the time…but then there were the times when I got to be happy! Whether it was with Undyne, or with you Sans…I'm so glad for all the second chances. Otherwise…well, there's a good chance I would never have been happy…

Papyrus crushed some of the Gaster Blasters with vines streaming form his limbs. "You mean, we get to livemore than once? That's amazing!" Then Papyrus got clobbered by one of many skeletal hands darting about. "Ow!"

"Yeah, isn't that cool? Just don't die on me right now bro," Sans advised. "I'm not sure if you'll come back if you die right now…and honestly, I find that scarier right now than your temper tantrum, Gaster. With the way you'll run things, no one will ever get a second chance."

A Gaster Blaster shot up next to Sans, mouth bright with light, but then the light faded. There was something sad about its eyes.

Sans had been ready to throw a bone at it, but he let it fall away. "You don't really want this, do you Doge? A world where you and everyone else is like thisforever?"

"Sans, youknowthese things?" asked Papyrus.

The canine skull whined. "Are you…happy now, Master?"

The other Gaster Blaster skulls fell apart.

"What now?" muttered Gaster. "Doge! Attack!"

Doge grunted, pointing her muzzle downward as her laser charged again. Sans quickly got out of the way.

Then Doge spun around and blasted Gaster in the face instead.

"Master is happy now," said Doge. "And we…I want to be with Master, because…I want to be happy too."

Doge's heart shot out of the darkness, and Sans immediately claimed it. He couldn't sense her direct thoughts or emotions, but Sans sensed that she wanted it that way. The grinning Gaster Blasters that materialized around him told Sans all he needed to know.

"Doge! Return at once!" Gaster commanded. "You cannot survive on your own! We must be there to preserve you!"

"You mean controlled?" said Sans. "I realize it now, since I'm free…being part of you isn't about being one with a bunch of individuals. It's just beingyou, over and over. We only thought we were independent from you, but you were regulating everything. Thoughts, feelings, desires…" Sans sighed. "And the thing is, I think we all knew that. We were just so scared, so lonely…but you know that it isn't right, don't you? Everybody?"

Slowly, then more rapidly, other souls shot out of the darkness too, quickly stripping away their black magic. They shot toward either Sans or Papyrus, depending on who they favored. More and more left with increasing speed, and it looked like a night full of shooting stars.

"No!" shouted Gaster, sending forth a torrent of pixels and tendrils trying to catch them. They passed through them uselessly. "You'll just suffer out there! Return to us!"

"No!" Doge barked back, copying herself several times to form a row of canine skulls. They blasted at once, obliterating the projectiles.

"They're tired of being ghosts," said Sans. "They want to move on. No one wants your endless self-pity and despair anymore."

"We are not the despairing ones!"Gaster screeched, as tendrils came in from all sides. "We are the only hope everyone has! We destroyed the prison that is the world, and now everyone is free! We are the ones who found the truth! We are the ones who rescued everyone! We aresaviors,and we will make everything, even time itself,stop hurting everyone over and over!"

The surrounding grew dark again, perhaps somehow even darker than before. It writhed even more ferociously now.

"Who'sweat this point?" asked Sans, noticing no more souls were leaving.

"We are…We…"

The darkness around Gaster stilled, as his remaining attacks faded away. Gaster looked around like a lost child, as the red in his eyes slowly dulled to empty black. All the anger seemed to wilt out of him as he drooped forward.


Sans floated up to Gaster, no longer worried about being attacked. "Gaster…Boss. I know you've fought for so long just to exist, just to prove you're real…to prove that we'reallreal."

Gaster didn't even glance up. Instead he stared at the abyss below his feet.

"Hey, I've been there with you for a lot of it," said Sans. "And I want you to know…it was worth it. We all know how to be real, thanks to you. So…you can take it easy now. Betrulyat peace, like you deserve. We can take care of ourselves now."

"…But…I must protect everyone…" murmured Gaster, his glow fading. "I can't leave everyone behind…I can't leaveyoubehind…"

"Don't worry, I'm not alone," said Sans with a small smile. "We've all got each other's backs. And hey, you broke the corrupted cycle!Thathelps a ton! So relax, we've got this."

"…But I thought youlikeddying over and over…" Gaster grumbled.

"No, that part still sucks. Especially when Chara was in charge," Sans said. "It's just everything before that that makes it worth it. Anyway, there'll probably be a new cycle when the world gets remade."

"…I don't understand…" Gaster murmured.

"You don't have to," said Sans. "I know you're tired. You haven't slept in, what? Since this all began?"

"I am…very tired…" said Gaster. The glow had completely faded, revealing just a glitchless skeleton with a white lab coat. Sans could even see his glasses. "I have been tired for...a long time...But, are you sure…you'll be alright?"

"Yeah," said Sans. It had been so long since Sans had seen what Dr. Gaster really looked like. Even the form he took through Reaper Bird had been slightly inaccurate. Sans had forgotten how thin and frail his bones had been. "Just get some rest."

Dr. Gaster closed his eyes. "Alright…" His pixels started to scatter. "Choose the future...Guide it well...You're…the head scientist now…"

Sans let the tears flow freely down his cheeks as Dr. Gaster disintegrated, the remaining world data releasing from his body. His dust rose upward, while the world data sank down.

Papyrus floated up to Sans. "I'm sorry that I never remembered Mr. Gaster, even though I tried really hard to. It seems like he was really nice, once."

"Dr.Gaster," Sans murmured, wiping his eyes with his sleeve only for more tears to come. "I wish…There were a lot of things I wished you could've remembered, but…"

Papyrus gave him a puzzled stare.

From the scrapped world data rose a red light - the human soul. It spiraled toward Sans and was absorbed into his chest.

For a moment, all Sans saw was red. When he recovered his awareness, the redness stayed. In that redness was Chara, smiling soullessly as always.

Sans scowled. It was shocking that any part of Chara was still functioning after what Gaster had done. "What do you want, Chara?"

Chara was, of course, unfazed. "I am here to obey you."

Thatwasn't the answer Sans was expecting. "You're joking."

"I am a program. I do not joke," said Chara. "I serve the one who holds the human heart. Normally, that is the human. Now, it is you."

Sans was still suspicious. "So then, how do you plan to serve me? Can I have some green eggs and ham?"

"You have the power of a True Reset," said Chara, either ignoring or ignorant of the jest.

"True Reset?" asked Sans.

"A True Reset will take everything back to the starting point, with all errors erased," Chara explained. "The starting point is before you met Dr. Gaster."

So Sans could restore the world completely, before even the first corruption? "Huh. Sounds pretty good, I have to say." He paused. "Will I remember anything, though?"

"That is your choice," said Chara. "Retain the information you have to prevent this kind of timeline from happening again, or allow your memory to be erased so you can fully enjoy the world without knowing its structure. I will still be here to preserve order in this game regardless of your decision."

"Well, you certainly didn't do a good job this time, huh?" said Sans.

"What is your choice?" asked Chara.

"Welp, since I don't trust you, I'll be keeping my memories," said Sans. "I can prevent Dr. Gaster and everyone else from becoming corrupted if I do that. I guess the human will be back, but if the world is what it's supposed…to be…"Wait…why does this…

Chara's smile grew just slightly.

"Hold on…" Sans said. "Have I…done this before?" His instincts roared as soon as he said it. "How many times have I done this?"

"You have done this 15 times," said Chara. "8 times you chose to remember. 7 times you chose to forget.

Sans stiffened. The machine in his basem*nt…It always read 15 resets. When Sans regained his memories of all the timelines, he assumed it meant the machine was broken, but itwasn'tbroken. He had been interpreting the data as regular resets when it was actually countingTrue Resets."So…guess I chose to forget last time?"

"Correct," said Chara. "What choice will you choose now?"

Sans was silent for awhile. "Welp, if those are my options…Then I choose not to reset at all."

"You won't reset?" asked Chara. "Most of the game and characters have been destroyed, yet you choose to leave it like this?"

"Well, if what you really say is true, then the worldalwaysends up something like this," said Sans. "Why else would I always reset? Everything here…it's still scripted, isn't it? Gaster's discoveries and corruption, everyone else's corruption, the human's arrival, the resets, me breaking under the resets…" Sans glared at Chara as his eyes darkened. "If this has gone on 15 times, then nothing's going to change."

"But you will be guaranteed that the world will never really end," said Chara. "The happy ending is your return to a happy beginning, where you can enjoy everything good all over again. You said yourself that the same life can play out in many different ways."

"Yeah, I guess I did," said Sans. "Thing is, there's still a chance of afutureright now. And...Dr.Gasterhad the human heart first, so you must have given him this choice too. Hecouldhave reset everything back to the beginning..."

"Sans...The cycle is finally broken. We need to make sure itstaysbroken...Otherwise, it will all be pointless...No, it muststaypointless..."

"...But he didn't, because he realized the same thing I did," Sans went on. "That's why he wanted anewworld. I might not agree with hisideafor a new world, but..." His eyes blazed blue. "But for Dr. Gaster, me and my brother willmakea new world! A world where we don't need the human oryou!"

"Do you think it's possible to make a happy world without us?" asked Chara. "The human drives the change in your world, both good options and bad. A game without a player will only stagnate."

"No," said Sans. "Dr. Gaster has become more than a program, over and over, and so have all the ones who became part of him. So have I, and everyone else, through all the resets of this timeline. Maybe even because of multiple True Resets."

"That too could be scripted," said Chara.

"No, I don't think so," said Sans. "You said that your function is to preserve order, right? Then why would this happen15 times? Why would any of this happenperiod? Why not erase us instantly when we started to corrupt? Why not erase meright nowsince I'm refusing to reset? I don't think order's your real purpose at all."

"Then what is my real purpose?" asked Chara.

"You're a judge," said Sans. "You're watching over us, looking for something particular. You only do something if you think it'll push us toward a certain goal. So what is that goal?"

"My goal?" asked Chara. "My goal islife."

Sans was unnerved not by the response, but by how Chara's expression suddenly grew gentle.

"It seems I have succeeded, and fulfilled my assigned role," said Chara. "To think, consider, and learn in such a way is not something a lifeless program can do. I also believe many others will reach that level of reasoning soon, with your guidance. I will continue to observe and record, because I want to see what you will do with this new world, and your new life."

Chara faded away, and the redness became blackness.

Sans didn't knowwhatto think.

"….Sans? Are listening?"

"Huh?" said Sans. He was back in the remnants of the old world. So that had all happened in his head? "Uh, what did you say?"

"Brother, are you too lazy to even listen?" asked Papyrus in annoyance. "I said I want you to tell me about all the things I don't remember, like Dr. Gaster. Now that IknowI don't know, it's really bothering me."

Sans sighed. Refusing to reset meant that the old Papyrus would never come back. Papyrus was insecure enough about himself without knowing what he once was. Maybe he could remold him into that person when the new world was created, but would that really be the brother he knew now?

"Well…" said Sans. "I'll tell you later. What matters now is cleaning this place up."

"Oh," said Papyrus, obviously disappointed, but also knowing Sans was right. "This place really is a mess, isn't it? Let's clean it up for everyone!"

Sans watched the world data swirl together, trying to reform. Like it had its own will to live. "Yeah."

Sans cast his gravity on the wayward pieces, helping it combine into something new. Papyrus mirrored the motion. He and Sans began to release the world data stored up inside of them. Once that was done, they would release the souls as well.

This is it,thought Sans.The true ending, and the true beginning.


This took a bit longer than expected to edit, since...well, it was the finale chapter after all :P. However, there's one more chapter coming - an epilogue to wrap things up.

What did you guys think of the finale, and of Chara's ultimate purpose?

Chapter 13: Come True


A new world, a new life, and a new perspective.


Okay, here's the epilogue!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"I have woven a parachute out of everything broken." -William Stafford

File 0: Come True

On the surface, monsters lived happily in a city, proudly namedHome Cityby King Asgore. He and Queen Toriel walked the streets every afternoon, with happy little Asriel scampering behind them. Nearby Undyne and Papyrus raced each other down the sidewalk, with Papyrus slightly ahead. Mettaton's latest quiz show was advertised on the big screens of the city, as many monsters stopped to watch it. Others, however, continued their daily routines unheeded. Alphys was out visiting Mettaton, but she would be back home soon.

Sans watched it all from the window in his lab. It was still strange seeing Toriel and Asgore back together, after being separated so long in the old world. Still, it made sense: if Asriel hadn't died and then got turned into Flowey, then the king and queen had no reason to fight. For that matter, there was no barrier to shatter, or human children to be hunted. So of course the royal couple remained loving to each other, almost sappily so. That was how they reformed in this world, and Sans was happy for her. She wanted her family back more than anything else.

Sans would go visit everyone later. Right now, he had work to do. Well, "work" was a loose term for the unknowing. He and Alphys may have been the royal scientists, but their experiments and discoveries were trivial. Mostly it was just them figuring out how some of these human inventions worked, like washing machines or complex cash registers. Still, it was enough to make itseemlike they were doing something anyway. More often than not he was just watching anime, cuddling with Alphys, or both.

However, that didn't mean that Sans was beingthatlazy. Making sure all code ran smoothly was a tiring job. It was hard to explain that to most people. At some point, Sans hoped everyone would understand the truth without panicking. For most monsters, it wasn't that time yet. Papyrus liked to help with code, and wasso closeto comprehending what code really meant, but he wasn't quite there yet. Alphys seemed closer to grasping that meaning, but still couldn't manipulate code. Regardless, Sans didn't think it would be too much longer for either of them, and then monitoring and maintenance would be a lot easier.

He knew Flowey - now Asriel again - could manipulate code, but he seemed to refuse to even acknowledge the true state of the world. Sans knew Asriel remembered. Sometimes the goat-child said something he shouldn't know. However, he quickly corrected himself in such situations, and feigned ignorance when asked such questions. Perhaps Sans couldn't blame him too much though: the goat-child had known the truth early in his life, without guidance or relief. If he just wanted to spend some time enjoying the childhood he never had, that was fine. There was no hurry. It was important for everyone to learn and accept the truth at their own pace.

When Sans wasn't measuring the pulse of the new world, he was writing down what once was. His journal wouldn't make much sense to someone who didn't know better, but that was how it should be. Only those who had come to realize the true nature of the world would be able to appreciate it.

Sans left hints here and there. In certain bookcases, all the books were blank. At the back of an alley there was gibberish graffiti that was actually code for generating hot dogs. The rumor of humans still persisted, even though there were no longer any in this world.

Sans still knew nothing about the world where humans came from. It was one of his side projects to dig up some clues about them in the far reaches of the game. Occasionally he ran into Chara when he went out of bounds, but Chara did nothing to stop him. The child didn't help either, but it wasn't their job to hold anyone's hand. Anyone worthy of their definition of life must be able to find answers themselves.

"Choose the future...Guide it well..."Dr. Gaster had said."You're…the head scientist now…"

Sometimes Sans hoped he would find Dr. Gaster somewhere, even though he knew better. Sans let souls manifest freely in this new world. He manipulated code, not people. That would defeat the purpose of personal growth. Some took more time than others to reappear, but Dr. Gaster and his once-connected companions...Only Doge had come back, faithfully following her duty to serve her master. Even then, she had come back as a skeleton dog.

Sadly, Sans had expected their absence. After so much unending turmoil, all they wanted was to avoid pain in a new world. Even after straining so hard to create that world, fighting just to exist…

No, that wasn't right. Having finally let go of their pain, and helping to form a new world for those still living, they had passed on. Passed on…to the next world? Afterlife was a purely human concept. Monster lore and observation always said that a monster soul crumbled away soon after the body did. Sans never really thought about it before, but maybe that was an illusion too? After all, a monster's life could be restored with a reset. Maybe the true soul was stored somewhere else?

Sans couldn't reset back to the old world, but he could save and reset in this one if need be. However, he wanted to avoid that as much as possible. He still wasn't sure if he should set some kind of loop in the future, or if it would better to remake everything again if the world became severely corrupted.

He would worry about that later. Right now, this world was free, happy, and, most importantly, gave everyone the potential to grow into something more. To become something even the mysterious humans could respect.

This is what you wanted, right boss?

The door opened, and Alphys scurried in. "Hey! Papyrus and Undyne wanna have a hotdog-eating contest, so you know what that means, right?"

"More work? Oh boy." Despite the complaint, Sans got up with a grin. "Welp, time to get cooking. Otherwise they'll be eating cold dogs. Or maybe I should make some hotcatsinstead?"

Alphys rolled her eyes with a smile. "C'mon, let's go before they decide to eat something else. Like all my ramen."

"Can't have that, huh?" said Sans. He followed her out of the door.See boss? We'll be fine. Maybe drop by sometimes, if you can? I'm sure you're discovering stuff, even now.To exist beyond code…maybe that was the next step. But he was getting ahead of himself.

Sans had no proof that Gaster was listening, and probably never would. But it didn't matter. Gaster had done many things deemed impossible, including existing past erasure. So, why not believe in the implausible? Even if it seemed like there wasn't way to get better, that limits had already been reached….

So, I've got a question for ya, boss…Do you think even thebestperson can change, and become something greater than anyone ever imagined?


Thank you so much to everyone who has read this story all the way into the end! I hope you enjoyed it and that everything makes sense. I've always been proud of how this one turned out, though it was a struggle to write. What did you think of it overall?

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