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14 years before the De-Code

Dr Gaster was watching at his monitor, making calculations. He found out that existed a possibility to "de-code" things or people from the world he lived in into another, a different one. Interested, Dr Gaster decided to study that possibility a bit closer; he wanted to predict how would de-coding the entire Underground and its inhabitants look like. Gaster watched the 3D model representing the Underground getting depixelized into nothingness. The text on the side was describing it all, and Gaster could get that it was as if the world was getting absorbed by darkness. His magical hands were writing down the observations on his clipboard, as in a journal entry. 

Entry n°17

Dark, darker, yet darker. The shadows keeps growing. The shadows cutting deeper. Photon readings negative. This next experiment seems very, very interesting. 

Then, Gaster paused. That possibility truly was tempting. But… could he really do this? Could he doom all those innocent people to collective amnesia just so he could forge himself a new life? Was he capable to go so far? He'd already done so many bad things, hence why he was sort of "exiled". But could he cross the line? With a sigh, Dr Gaster pulled out of a drawer one of his old files regarding the 1-S and 2-P project. There was a picture of the two skeletons (a screen-shot of one the videos recorded by the hidden camera in the cell). Gaster looked at his former test subjects, asking himself the same question again. Could he really go that far, to make the De-Code reality?
"What do you two think?" - he said with a certain irony, looking at the picture.
His magical hands wrote down the question. 

Present day

Florian had been arrested, after what he was brought to the police station. He acting completely agitated, so Ondine needed to ask the help of the Officer Doug, a muscularily built man, to help taking him to the cell. Noelle was brought to the police station too, so she could do her testimony. Alicia arrived there to provide her some medical attention. Noelle's hands really hurt. Alicia checked at first if there were no other injuries, then she proceeded to apply some ointment on the damaged skin of Noelle's hands. Noelle winced, as the contact did hurt. 
"S-sorry…" - Alicia said - "But it has to be done. Then, you'll obviously have to wear some gloves at work, to permit your skin heal properly. B-but why did you move your hands so much if the knots were so tight?" 
"I had to, I couldn't let that psycho kill me." - Noelle replied.
"Right... It was such a dumb q-question, huh..?" - Alicia said nervously.
"It's okay. I suppose we're all shocked by the events here." 
Alicia nodded and kept applying the ointment. Ondine approached the two at that moment and informed:
"When you'll be done, I'd like to hear your testimony, Miss Doe." - the seargent said.
"Alright…"
Ondine watched how Alicia treated the injured skin and after a moment, she commented with a playful smirk:
"The way you're rubbing her hands is so gentle, and your hands moves are so smooth and elegant. I wonder how this feels like." 
Alicia stopped and within seconds, her face became as red as a tomato. Noelle's eyes rounded, surprised to hear what she just heard. "Is the seargent flirting with Alicia…?" - she thought - "...And in my presence?? It's so awkward…" Alicia didn't dare to look at Ondine as she spluttered her answer.
"M-maybe… It's... it's just my j-job to be c-careful, hehe… B-but th-there are much more s-skillful d-doctors out th-there…" - she said, then took some bandages and proceeded to wrap them carefully around Noelle's hands and wrists.
Soon, Alicia was done with treating Noelle's hands, and so the victim could tell her story to the seargent. Once they were done with the testimony, Noelle exited the office to be met with a relieved Fran, who immediately wrapped her arms around her. 
"I'm so glad you're okay…" - Francesca breathed out - "I was so scared for you."
"I can imagine." - Noelle replied as she returned the hug.
Fran then pulled away and the two women exchanged a smile of relief. They walked long the corridor to reach the exit, but at that moment Sam and Piper entered the building and rushed towards Noelle. Apparently, they had been informed. Noelle didn't have the time to say anything as the twins hugged her tightly.
"Noelle, we were so scared when the police told us what happened!" - Piper exclaimed with an anxious expression - "Why are there bandages on your hands? What happened to them? Did Florian do this to you..?"
"Hey, hey, calm down." - Noelle rubbed Piper's arm in a calming manner - "I'm okay, see? My hands hurt because of trying to get free from the ropes, which I succeeded by the way. But it'll pass in a couple of days."
"Good..." - Piper breathed out then hugged Noelle again, even tighter this time.
"Uh, Noelle…" - Sam started hesitant - "Are you… angry with me? I mean, for our last talk?"
"What? No, of course I'm not angry." - Noelle reassured the boy - "Look, maybe I overreacted. I shouldn't have suggested you to give up on that story you love so much. I apologize for that."
Sam nodded, after what Noelle gently took his hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. Dr Gaster was standing a bit further in the corridor, watching how his children shared the moment with their mo-... with Noelle. He turned his gaze away for a moment and wondered when was the last time he and his children had hugged like that. "You two have grown so close to her…" - Gaster mused - "We used to be close too, once. Sam, Piper… What happened to us?" Gaster then got pulled out of his trance as Noelle walked up to him with the twins. 
"I won't steal them from you any longer." - Noelle said. 
"I see that despite your traumatizing experience, you didn't lose your common sense." - Gaster commented flatly - "Which means your cerebral functions are still intact."
"Haha, very funny." - Noelle replied as flatly - "Anyway, I'm going home now. So, good evening Dr Gaster, Sam, Piper."
The twins nodded to her with a smile. Noelle walked three steps away until stopping and turned around again.
"Dr Gaster?" 
"I thought you were leaving, Miss Doe." - Gaster remarked, raising an eyebrow. 
"Thank you." - Noelle said a bit awkwardly - "For bringing the kids here. I mean, you didn't have to, but you did."
"I didn't do this for you." - Dr Gaster said, his voice emotionless.
"Thank you anyway." 
Noelle gave him a very discrete smile, before turning around and leaving the police station building. Gaster stood there for a moment, not sure what to think. He didn't like when Noelle was doing… this. Just... why did she have to act like this? To give him shadows of kindness? (It wasn't a big surprise though, considering her "origins".) Sam and Piper were looking at Gaster curiously.
"Dad…? Are you okay there?" - Piper asked.
"Uh? Yes, just thinking. Okay, let's go back home now." - Gaster said.
He and the twins went out of the police station. Francesca had been meanwhile talking with Ondine and Paxton, who explained the story, reassured her that Noelle would be alright. Fran decided that she'd still encourage her friend to talk about the incident, so she would feel as good as she could inwardly. Ondine then returned to her tasks (she still had to prepare herself to interrogate a psychopath), and Fran said to Paxton:
"Well, I shall go home too now. See you around." 
She was about to go, but Paxton stopped her before she could even fully turn around.
"Wait..!" - he exclaimed a bit loudly, getting a curious look from Fran - "I... Now that the killer had been caught, I'll have more free time. And so I wondered if you and I could maybe have a good time together at a nice place…?" 
"Is it… like a date?" - Francesca asked. 
"Well… It's up to you! It doesn't have to be a date if you don't want it to be, because I'm a person with principles and I would never force you into a date if you didn't want to! So, it can be just a hang-out if you so prefer!" - Paxton said with his usual enthousiasm, but then his tone slightly lowered - "But whatever it is, I'd like to spend a good evening with you. But what do you think about my offer?" 
"I... uh..." 
Francesca suddenly felt nervous. "Oh no… A choice to make again… I don't like it, I cannot just give an answer straight away..!" Fran never felt at ease when it came to make important choices, and this choice wasn't an exception. True, she enjoyed Paxton's company, but what would happen next if she accepted that date/hang-out? 
"Uh... I don't know what to say..." - Fran muttered nervously.
"Look, you don't have to answer now, I just suggested." - Paxton tried to ease her - "But if you ever feel like spending an evening with the great guy I am, just let me know!"
With those words, he gave Fran his number written down on a small paper. Fran accepted it with a shy smile, with a nervous feeling. She then thought that she'd ask Noelle for an advice later. "Urgh… Why can't I just accept to go out with him like a normal person?" - Francesca asked herself - "I'm doomed to stay single…" 

Three months before the De-Code

Frisk, Papyrus and their almost three years old daughter Noelle were having a walk in the forest of Snowdin. Even though it had been years that the barrier was broken, some monsters preferred to sometimes return to their old homes in the Underground for holidays. That was what Frisk, Papyrus and Sans did every year for the period of Giftmas. 
"So, what do you think, Papyrus?" - Frisk asked - "Should we celebrate Giftmas in the New Home, or at your and Sans' old house like the last year?" 
"WELL, AS MUCH AS I LOVE OUR OLD HOUSE, YOUR MOM PROBABLY WANTS US TO CELEBRATE ALONG WITH HER AND KING ASGORE!" - Papyrus remarked.
"That's true, my parents must feel lonely at holidays since you and I live together…" - Frisk mused - "I think we should celebrate with them this year, then. But only if you're okay with that." 
"WHY WOULDN'T IT BE OKAY? I'M OKAY WITH EVERYTHING THAT PLEASES YOU, HUMAN WIFE!" - Papyrus said as he wrapped his arm around Frisk - "IF YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE GIFTMAS AT NEW HOME, THEN WE'LL DO JUST THAT!"
"But you said you love your old house. I thought that having holidays there makes you happy." - Frisk said - "You shouldn't spoil me too much, Papyrus." 
"BUT SPOILING MY TWO FAVOURITE LADIES IS MY JOB!" - Papyrus protested as he took Noelle in his arms.
Noelle giggled a bit as her father lifted her, then she let her head rest on his chest, feeling tired. Papyrus gently rubbed his teeth against the top of Noelle's head, this being his way to "kiss". Frisk smiled at the sight. Papyrus always did everything to make her and their daughter happy. But Frisk couldn't help but feel guilty. It was because of the knowledge of what Papyrus went through in the True Lab that Frisk would sometimes feel like she should do more for him. 
"HUMAN WIFE, I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT!" - Papyrus pulled Frisk out of her thoughts - "YOU SHOULDN'T."  
"How did you guess…?" - Frisk asked.
"YOU WERE RUBBING MY RIGHT HAND." 
And he was right. Everytime Frisk had those thoughts, she'd squeeze or rub the hand on which the metal plate was drilled to. Most of the times, the gesture was unconscious. 
"Sorry. I couldn't help it." - Frisk said quietly. 
"FRISK... MY PAST IS MY PAST, YOU SHOULDN'T BURDEN YOURSELF WITH THE THOUGHTS ABOUT IT." - Papyrus said seriously - "YOU WANT ME TO BE HAPPY, BUT I AM WHEN YOU, NOELLE AND SANS ARE! SO, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE ME HAPPY, YOU MUST BE HAPPY AND LET ME MAKE YOU HAPPY!" 
"That's a lot of 'happy' in one phrase." - Frisk giggled - "Well, I'll try doing that, Papyrus."
"PLEASE DO! AND AS FOR THE GIFTMAS CELEBRATION, IT'S BETTER TO DO IT AT NEW HOME! AFTER ALL, SINCE NOELLE'S BIRTHDAY IS THE NEXT DAY, ASGORE AND TORIEL WILL SURELY APPRECIATE TO HAVE US AROUND!"
It was true, Noelle was born the day after Giftmas, so the family had two days of celebration. 
"Hey, I haven't thought about it that way. It's true it's more practical; mom and dad wouldn't need to walk all the way from New Home to Snowdin. Okay, you won. We'll celebrate at my parents' place." 
"NYEHEHE! I KNEW I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, WOULD CONVINCE YOU!" 
He managed to take a proud posture, even with his daughter sleeping in his arms. Frisk smiled, then stood on her tiptoes and kissed Papyrus on his teeth. The spouses then held each other's hands and proceeded to walk back home. The little family didn't notice that they have been observed the whole time. Hiding behind a tree, Gaster watched how they receded. The scientist had received the photo of Noelle from Papyrus a couple of days ago. So, for a strange reason, he wanted to see. Gaster saw how happy his former subject was with the human and his daughter. Gaster saw how affectionate Papyrus and Frisk seemed to be towards each other, and how much they loved their daughter. Gaster also noticed that Frisk and Noelle liked to wear the Delta Rune robes. The sight of all this filled his soul with a certain bitterness. This made him realize how much he lost due to his actions. He realized that everyone he knew moved on in their lives perfectly without him around. "They're perfectly happy without me…" - he thought as Papyrus, Frisk and Noelle progressively disappeared from his sight. Gaster realized that while they all moved on, he never would. His life was stuck. And there was nothing he could do about it now. "Wait… there is." He remembered the theory of the De-Code he had been working on before. It was his only chance. Composing himself, he rushed away, deciding that he'd start on working on his own De-Code right away. 

Present day

It was the evening, Noelle was sitting in her bed and reading a book. Francesca suddenly entered the room, looking nervous. Noelle looked up at her friend and asked what was wrong. 
"Paxton called me on a date." - Fran said straight-forwardly.
"What? He did??" - Noelle asked in surprise - "That's wonderful! I knew there was a spark between you two!" 
"Don't get too excited, I didn't give him a concrete answer yet." 
"Uh?? But why not...? I thought you enjoyed to be around him."
"I do..! But you know me, I'm anxious everytime there's an important decision to make. I'm a bit scared, because… I don't know how things will change after I go on the date with Paxton!" - Francesca confessed.
"It's true that falling in love can be scary." - Noelle started, then she saw how Fran got embarrassed - "Don't deny it, you are in love with Paxton! So, as I said, it can be scary. But you won't be able to fully experience love if you don't give it a try."
"But he and I don't know each other for that long..." - Fran hesitated - "Alright, I might like Paxton… a lot. So, you really thing I should go on a date with him?"
"You definitely should." - Noelle said with a nod.
Francesca, after a short moment, took her cellphone and proceeded to dial Paxton's number. After a few moments, Paxton answered the call. Noelle could hear just one side of the conversation, but she quietly encouraged her friend.
"Hi, Paxton. It's Francesca." - Fran said with a nervous smile - "I uh… about  your offer to go out for an evening together… I think that I, uh… I'd like that too..!"
Fran then smiled widely, so Noelle could guess that it was because Paxton was having a very enthousiastic reaction.
"Tomorrow...? Yes, it works fine for me!" - Fran said - "Yes, good night to you too, Paxton. And see you tomorrow." 
As the phone conversation ended, Fran couldn't help but smile but then she saw how Noelle was staring at her with a satisfied smirk, which made her feel embarrassed.

Meantime, at Sancho and Paxton's flat, Sancho was pulled out of his slumber as he heard his brother shout.
"I'm going on a date with Francesca!!!" 
"What... really?" - Sancho's eyes roundened - "You mean, with Francesca Underwood?" 
"Of course! Is there another Francesca you know?" - Paxton pointed out.
"Right... So, you two are like together now?" - Sancho asked with a forming smile.
"Not really, I told Francesca it was up to her if it'll be a date or not." - Paxton explained.
"Don't worry, bro. I'm pretty sure she likes you too." 
Sancho was sure that she did, because of their life before the De-Code. He hoped that everything would go well and that things would start to go back into its right places. 
~~~~~~
The next day, Fran spent some time to figure out what she'd wear. She didn't want to wear something too simple, but nothing too "provocative" either. Noelle remarked that Paxton already saw her bleeding and in an hospital gown, so she didn't need to worry how she'd look like. But Fran still wanted to make a minimal effort. Then, she remembered about an outfit that felt perfect for her situation. But she left it in her old room of her parent's house, so she had to go there to collect it. And so, Francesca went to her parents' house, where she was warmly greeted by them. She saw that Gaster was there too, probably to discuss some business with her father. Francesca soon found what she was looking for in her room. She put the outfit in a paper bag and went down the stairs. She and her parents chatted a little. 
"So, you came here just to get some clothes?" - Anderson asked his daughter - "I thought you had plenty of them at your place."
"Yes, but none of those felt right." - Fran replied without thinking, but then regretted it.
"Oh, are those clothes for a date perhaps?" - Taylor asked. 
"Uh... maybe?" - Francesca replied awkwardly. 
Gaster, who was reading some papers a bit further, raised his head almost unnoticeably. A date? Would it be with…?
"It's with that policeman, right?" - Taylor asked with a growing smile - "Don't tell me, I know it's with him!"
"...Yes, I'm going out with Paxton this evening." - Fran admitted shyly.
"My girl's really a grown up now!" - Taylor clasped her hands together. 
"Be careful, though. Don't get involved in some nasty business at your first date!" - Anderson advised his daughter seriously. 
"Dad…" - Fran sighed.
Gaster didn't feel well as he heard the little family talk on the couch. "No... If Francesca and Paxton go on a date, they'll grow even closer and it might trigger something within them, which is dangerous for me." Soon, Anderson and Taylor went to the kitchen to make some tea for their daughter and for Gaster. As Francesca was sitting alone in the couch, she heard Gaster speak up from where he was, still sitting at the table, his face in papers. 
"So, you and Paxton are going on a date? It could've been expected, considering he sort of saved you." 
"Y-yes, probably." - Fran replied - "But I'm not going out with Paxton just because he saved me, it's because we enjoy each other's company."  
"I don't doubt that." - Gaster remarked - "But do you think it's a good idea, though?" 
"I don't see why not...?" 
"Paxton is a policeman. This means he works for the town, you surely know that." 
"But what does it have to do with us?" - Fran frowned.
"Your father is mayor of the town. Now, ask yourself: what will happen if your romance goes wrong? Paxton could lose his position at the police, and you'd have to feel guilty about it." 
"You don't think my father would revoke Paxton because of that, do you...? He's better than that."
"He can be overprotective. Not as much as your mother, but still." - Gaster pointed out - "He'd go far when it comes to his child."
"He's my father, but he's also a mayor. He'd have to do the fair thing." - Fran said.
"True, I'm probably just overthinking it." - Gaster used a lighter tone - "Far from me to teach you how to live, you're an adult woman."
"R-right." - Fran replied. 
At that moment, Taylor and Anderson returned with the tea. 
~~~~~~
Fran looked at herself in the mirror. She was wearing a dress-like blue sweater, with a pink belt at her waist, black leggings and dark brown long boots. 
"The outfit's nice and you look great." - Noelle complimented her friend.
"Thanks... What will you be doing tonight? It's not good for you to stay alone after… what happened." - Fran said with concern.
"Yeah, the thought of it makes me shiver." - Noelle admitted - "But it's not as if I have a choice but to spend a lone evening."
"I think you should go see Nathan." - Fran advised - "He's pretty lonely, so if you go see him it'll do good for both of you. Oh, and ask him to make you listen for a relaxation track he mixed. You'll feel much better after that."
"Okay, if you say so." 
At that moment the doorbell rang. It was Paxton who came for Fran so they could go to their date/hang-out. Noelle wished them to have a good evening, after what the "couple" left the building. Francesca wasn't much surprised to see that Paxton's car was a bright red one, it fit the man's personnality. When Paxton started the car, Fran couldn't help but remark:
"It's nice to see you without your uniform for once." 
"That's because we meet in much nicer circumstances tonight!" - Paxton stated the obvious, but with usually enthousiastic tone - "You look so neat! A good choice of clothing is the way to show that you care."
"P-probably..." - Fran replied shyly - "So, where are you taking us?" 
"You'll see, it's a wonderful place I love a lot!" - Paxton said - "I've been there only a couple of times, with my brother and the seargent Ondine. Unfortunately, Ondine's way too loud for that place and Sancho, he… is probably too silent. He fell asleep and missed most of the fun."
"How is your brother doing, by the way?"
"He finally found a job, and he's doing the night guard at the moment we speak. I just hope he won't fall asleep and mess up."

It was true, at that same time, Sancho was doing the rounds at the powerhouse. But his true goal was to find any curious place, which would permit him to prove Noelle that the De-Code was real and blow up Gaster's cover. Sancho was alone and he had the entire night to find anything substantial. He walked up to a broom closet and thought that it was probably the best place to hide something important, because barely anyone would go there. He opened the door and after a first check, the closet seemed pretty normal. But then, Sancho noticed that one spot on the floor felt different. It creaked ever so slightly. Sancho knelt down on his knees and studied the floor. After a moment, he concluded that there was a layer on the floor to hide a secret passage. All he had to do was to get rid of that layer. "Pretty simple, really." Sancho stood up and went looking for some tools.

Paxton and Francesca arrived at their destination. Fran looked up at Paxton curiously.
"A karaoke bar?" 
"Yes, I love this place due to its good ambience!"
"You must have a good voice. But I'm not sure my voice is fit to sing…" - Fran said.  
"Don't worry about that, you can do anything if you just believe in yourself!" - Paxton reassured her as the two sat down at a table - "I'm sure you'll do great if you try! But if it makes you too much uncomfortable, I won't force you…"
"I might try… but after you only." - Francesca said with a shy smile.
The two ordered their drinks and chatted for a while. They talked about different topics, about what they liked or disliked. Fran listened with interest when Paxton was telling about his dream to become an Investigator and how hard he always worked to reach his goal. But Fran also figured that Paxton chose to become a policeman for noble reasons. "He is a passionate man with a big heart." - she thought to herself. After a moment, Paxton decided that it was time for him to display to Fran his beautiful singing voice. He chose the song "All I want for Christmas is you". From the very first notes, Francesca couldn't help but stare at him in awe, amazed by his voice. When he spoke, he tended to be a bit loud, but ironically his singing voice sounded smooth. And the song choice made her slightly blush, because she couldn't help but think about it as a hidden message. But she quickly chase that thought away, and focused on Paxton's voice. His singing voice expressed all his personality traits: passion, enthousiasm, dedication, pride, and a certain innocence… "All of these traits make a so perfect mix." - Fran mused - "Paxton is a unique man." Soon, the song ended and Fran applauded with a smile of wonder on her face.
"You have a wonderful singing voice, Paxton." - Fran compliemented him with honesty.
"Such a genuine compliment!" - Paxton said with a slight blush - "Now your turn! I'd like to hear your singing voice."
"A-alright... But my voice isn't as good as yours." - Francesca warned as she stood up.
"Worry not, Francesca! You'll do great! If you don't believe in yourself, so believe in me who believes in you!" - Paxton encouraged her.
His encouragement for some reason made Fran feel more confident and filled her with… determination? Paxton made Francesca feel stronger, he made her want to be worthy his time. There was also a feeling of familiarity when she was around him and it was enough to put her more at ease. 

At the powerhouse, Sancho managed to remove the part of the floor layer that was above a door that led to a secret floor. It was obvously locked, but Sancho already had the key. He took the keys the twins gave him and one of them fit. There were stairs which Sancho didn't waste the time to go down. It led to another locked door. A second key unlocked it without any issue. Sancho entered the room and as he looked around, he thought: "Finally…! This is it, this is where Noelle can save us!" There was a computer with other equipement, but the entire system could be turned on by inserting a third special key. "Only Noelle can do this." - Sancho noted - "I'll have to tell her soon… And then, we'll finally be free." Soon, they would be free from the illusion. Sancho realized he couldn't stay down here for too long, since he'd have to conceal the hole he made before anyone returned. 
~~~~~~
It was late when Paxton and Francesca returned to the building she lived in. On all their way back, Paxton reassured her she performed well. Fran giggled and half-joked:
"Come on, admit that I suck. My voice's too quiet." 
"Just a little quiet, but it sounded sweet!" - Paxton said - "You're just not used to sing, but if you keep practicing, you'll sound even better each time! But I liked your singing, because it sounded so… like you."
The two were standing near the front door of the building now. Fran felt flattered by what Paxton just said. She wasn't sure what to reply, but it wasn't a problem because her friend had something else to say. 
"Francesca... I know, I told you it's up to you if that was a hang-out or a date. But I cannot help now to think that... I'd like it to be a date. Because you're a nice person to be around with, and… when I'm with you, it feels so natural and familiar." - Paxton confessed - "When we first talked in the hospital, I thought that I know you. Of course, back then I didn't know you. I know that I know you, but I also know that I don't know you. Or rather, I know that I know you, even if I don't know you… You know?" 
"I think I know..." - Francesca replied.
They didn't even realize that they were holding each other's hands. Then, Paxton slowly leaned to Fran for a kiss. Fran's heart missed a beat, she wanted this too so much. Their lips almost thouched… 
"What will happen if your romance goes wrong?" 
Francesca gasped as Gaster's earlier question reasoned in her head, and she backed up, pushing on Paxton's chest to make him stop. Paxton was clearly surprised by this reaction.
"D-don't...!" - Fran shook her head - "It's better if we don't... Tonight was just a hang-out between friends."
"But... it seemed that you wanted the kiss too." - Paxton remarked - "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, it's not you Paxton. It's me." - Fran said sadly - "I'm just not... You and I just won't work out. It'll be better for both of us if we remain good friends."
"Why do you think so?"
"Because... because I'll never reach your greatness, Paxton. And someday, I'll just hurt you. You'll have to bear the consequences and I'll have to live knowing that it's my fault. That's why it's better if you and I don't date." - Francesca said with a sad smile.
"But you won't hurt me, I think you're great too!" - Paxton protested, but Fran shook her head in response - "But I suppose… if I offered you the possibility this evening to not be a date, I cannot just retrieve my words now. If you don't want us to be the way I wanted us to be, I'll respect that."
"I'm really sorry, Paxton..."
"No, it's alright Fran. As long as you're happy in your life, even if it's without me… I'll be happy for you too." - Paxton smiled at Fran, but sadness could clearly be seen in his eyes.
Francesca nodded and then disappeared behind the door of the building. Paxton stood there for a long minute before sitting in his car and driving away. A bit further down the street, Gaster had been observing the scene from his own car. He had seen the almost-kiss and how Fran stopped Paxton before this could happen. In less than a moment, Gaster had tensed and relaxed. "They parted ways without kissing… Francesca did hear my words then." - Gaster thought - "They will not remember, everything's in control." Dr Gaster then started his car to go back home, after what he suddenly winced. His right hand hurt.

Francesca returned to her apartement and was immediately greeted by Noelle. The latter seemed to be in a good mood.
"Oh, Fran! You were right about Nathan's tapes, I could empty my mind and I relaxed so well that I almost saw stars! How was your date? Tell me everything!"
"There's nothing to tell..." - Francesca fell on the couch with a devastated expression - "I friendzoned him."
"What..? Why did you do that? I thought you liked him..." - Noelle asked with a confused and slightly shocked expression.
"Please, Noelle.... I really don't want to talk about it." - Fran said as her eyes filled with tears.
Noelle, even though not understanding what was going on, sat down next to her friend and hugged her in a comforting manner. 
The song choice for Paxton is due to the cover made by "Man of the Internet", who also did "Undertale the Musical". So, there's a cover of "All I want for Christmas is you" with Papyrus' voice. If you don't already know them, you should check those guys. 

This is another chapter for my AU of "Handplates", based on a tv series called "Once Upon A Time". 
First chapter: Handplates AU: Once Upon A Handplate - pilot
Previous chapter: Once Upon A Hanplate: about flowers and souls
-------------------
So... yeah. Now that Halloween's over, let's get some (bitter)sweetness! That was a long chapter! I was planning it for a while and I'm so glad I could finally write it. There were many things to explain there! The reason why Fran decided to follow Gaster's "advice" instead of her own heart, is her subconscious need to make her husband happy and fear that she's not enough for him. (The flashback explains it.) 
And so, you see that Francesca's choices anxiety wasn't a one-time thing when it came to move from her parental house. It's an issue she has since the De-Code. 

Btw, I had made a drawing related to the flashback months ago. You can see it here: fav.me/dco30nv
We almost reached the resolution of this arc! (Yeah, there could be another arc after the De-Code.) It'll be over in two or three more chapters. 

"Hanplates" belongs to :iconzarla:
"Undertale" belongs to Toby Fox.
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