Chapter 22. Awoken
Dust hovered throughout the air, gliding ever gentle to the stillness of the room. Darkness crawled in the corners as beams of marigold light poured in, creating a warm shower of colors illuminating the corridor. Vibrant tiles reflected the figures housed within, whom had all but destroyed the beautiful refuge in their personal wars. A calm after a storm.
Lying on the ground just beside a crumbling column laid two small children, their clothing ragged and dirtied from their conflicts. Both unconscious, one wore thin hand-me-down pajamas; attire only appropriate for night time. The other child laid underneath the first, wearing a very torn up knitted sweater; one that was once a periwinkle blue with two horizontal stripes, now faded from wear. Aside from their differentiating clothing, the two children bore the same face, like identical twins.
Several yards away from the sleeping pair sat an entirely different figure. A monster who had begun to stir before the others. The ivory creature rolled over on his back bone, attempting to rise. Moving proved to be a struggle, the hall echoing the crackling of his joints. The bulky skeleton breathed deeply through his teeth, only to exhale again with a soft sound.
"frisk..." The skeletal creature moaned, attempting to wake his friend. "kid… ya gotta wake up. ya gotta be okay..." Sans pushed himself, laboring to roll over once again. Successfully landing on the front of his ribs, he propped himself up with his ulnae so as to look at the distant pair, now in a position to crawl over to them. "frisk, wake up… please..."
Sans' words appeared to have worked. The innocent one he had pleaded to began to move slightly. Frisk squinted their chilled face tightly and then relaxed, inhaling loudly through their nose. A quiet mumble could be heard, if only faintly.
"frisk?" The monster in blue begged. He dragged his bony body closer, having the need to be at his friend's side. "you okay, bud?"
"Mm," The child uttered in assurance, making their way towards consciousness. "Nnns." Was all that escaped their dry lips. Frisk finally opened their eyes, and they turned over their fragile body. "...Sans?"
"kid?!" Sans exclaimed, relief filling his skull. "what happened back there?" He began his slew of questions early, crawling a little closer. He stopped, however, remembering the other child just beneath. Though they were not yet awake, Sans could not take the chance of coming near them in his crippling state.
Frisk sat up, aches and pains streaming all throughout their body. The child looked down beside them and hesitated before jolting back a bit, recalling the wicked actions of their doppelganger, still lying next to them.
"so..." The monster started up. "did you do it?" Sans paused, uncertainty lining his tone. "i'm honestly not sure what you did, but…" His voice fell to a whisper, keeping quiet as to not wake the enemy. "did you win? did you… finish the job?"
Frisk looked up at him, taking a long moment to comprehend what he had just asked. When it finally clicked, the child raised their shoulders and folded their arms, quite put off by Sans' suggestion. "I didn't kill Chara, if that's what you were hoping for." Frisk spat.
"chara…?" Sans accused. "what are you even saying right now?"
"Oh, sorry." Frisk said apologetically. "Chara is the soul that possessed my body and did bad things." The child in pajamas uttered rather quickly. "Well, this Frisk's body anyhow." They shook their head vigorously. "Long story. Never mind all that."
"what? never mind all-" Sans cut his sentence short in bitter frustration. "never mind all that?! kid, we don't play with soul business around here! that's kind of a really important detail." He gritted through his teeth, almost shouting.
"Please don't get mad," Frisk pleaded in a tone of remorse, one they often used with grownups that they were fearful of. "It's all over now." They insisted, placing a gentle hand atop the forehead of their twin. Frisk looked down upon their mirror image and smiled weakly, but they soon turned back up at the chubby skeleton. His teeth drooped, the corners of his mouth showing his great disbelief. "You should be smiling." Frisk stated at their friend, his eye sockets lowering. The child pushed him in the right direction. "Aren't you excited?" They beamed. "Aren't you happy?"
Sans gazed at his friend and their counterpart, one still on the ground unmoving, like Sleeping Beauty, if the sleeping one was a demon, he thought. He sighed very deeply, and pushed himself off the ground, resting on his knee caps. "pal, i'm afraid there aren't very many things in this world that can make me happy..." Sans finally muttered. "so… don't be-"
His words hung in the air having been cut off by the noise of a child's moans. The sound however, did not emit from the youth he was conversing with. The wicked human finally came to, their limbs struggling to gain momentum.
"Chara…?" The kind human whispered in a friendly voice. "Are you doing alright?"
"Mn." The waking child moaned. "Mnnnuh?" They continued unintelligibly. Finally opening their eyes, the child jolted up rather quickly, startled to be surrounded the way they were. "Ugh. What are you all staring at?!"
"Good morning, Chara." Frisk greeted with a smile, and yet a hint of nervousness could still be heard in their tone. "I'm glad to see you're awake."
The child in the blue shirt huffed furiously. "What kind of crap are you spouting now?" They hissed. "You're not my mother."
Frisk was taken aback, but pressed on despite their sibling's hostile behavior. "Mothers aren't the only people who love and care for others."
Chara stood up swiftly, pushing their twin aside. "I've had enough lectures from you."
Ignoring the reckless response, the innocent one followed their lead and got on their feet as well. "Are you leaving us, then?" Frisk said with a forced hint of sorrow. "We'll miss you."
"Bull." The dark child retorted. "I'm not leaving without… finishing the job." Chara stated, a smile finally forming on their face.
Frisk quickly turned around in a panic and placed both hands on their mirrors shoulders. "No, Chara, it's time to leave!" The child whispered a yell in desperation. "Please!"
The wicked one attempted to walk forward, but was thoroughly blocked by their sibling. Though they could have easily overpowered their enemy, Chara did not need to. While Frisk held them back, Chara only needed to move their head a little to the side so as to make eye contact with Sans. "That's right, comedian. I'm leaving!" They shouted so as the skeleton would not miss it.
"Chara, don't!" Frisk begged, trying with all their might to push them towards the exit. "Chara, just go! You've won!"
The wicked and dirtied face fell more sinister as it pressed on relentlessly. "I'm leaving for good and I'm never coming back!" The invasive words filled the corridor, and the cruel message slowly sank into the ivory monster sitting just a few feet away. "I'm never resetting the timeline. You'll live down here lost and alone! And you're never going to see your stupid brother ever again!"
Frisk pushed their doppelganger away as hard as they could manage. Stumbling away from the force, Chara regained their balance, slouching. Frisk whispered very quietly, stuttering. "Just go." The child sniffed.
The wicked one reached up with their dirty sleeve and wiped the edge of their mouth, which had a bit of saliva dripping from its corners, and they too sniffed deeply through their nose. Chara looked down at their two enemies and let a moment of silence pass. "Damn right, I won."
With that, the evil child in the striped shirt turned around on their heel and moved onward towards the exit. A subtle laugh could be heard alongside the echos of their rough footsteps, and after a mere few moments, all hints regarding the megalomaniac's existence faded away into nothing.
Frisk shook like a leaf and cupped their mouth, trying desperately to hold it all in. "I'm s-so sorry, Sans," The innocent one whimpered. They squinted their eyes tightly, keeping the tears in. "I didn't mean for this to happen, I..."
The child finally looked down towards their friend, whose image bore a disturbing sight. His eye sockets were empty, cold and stony. He sat on the floor completely paralyzed, and yet his whole skeleton quivered sharply, rattling his bones. Still alive, but dead inside.
Dropping to their knees, Frisk mustered the strength to crawl over to their friend, who surely was in need of his own. The child in pajamas wrapped their tiny arms around Sans in an attempt to comfort him. "I'm so sorry..." Frisk's voice cracked horribly, finally breaking down. "The other Frisk told me this would work… that we would win this way… I really thought it would, but if I had known..." The small one's voice fell numb and mumbling. "If I had just known… It's all my fault, I'm so, so sorry..."
After a minute of indistinct blubbering, the child felt something on their arm. Sans had reached up with his bony hands and held his friend in return. Frisk embraced their friend tighter, though his eyes were just as incapacitated. "it's no one's fault, kid."
The golden corridor lay still, its burning windows losing light. The polished tiles below were smudged with the air's heated moisture and grey dust of dark origins. Mighty pillars that once stood tall and proud were torn apart, their bases in shambles. A hall with so much thought and care now laid to waste after a monster's cruel destruction.
Amidst the center of the vast hall, their frail bodies huddled close together in a worn out embrace. Frisk's tiny body had several cuts, and their skin was badly bruised all over, though some of the purple and blue marks were not recent. The innocent one clenched tightly to their friend, who did not have nearly as many scars, but almost seemed in far worse condition despite it all. He held tightly to his small friend in a protective gesture, but deep down, it was not the child who needed it.
The two held one another for what felt like an eternity. Aching from his quivers, Sans' rattling finally subsided. The two had their rest, their anxious breathing quieted down, and they were almost ready to fall asleep.
A slow, sharp inhale. Sans finally rose up his skull, drifting away from the child's warm shoulder. He looked down on it in dismay, regretting ever leaving it. "hey," He whispered in a deep voice, the sound so low that no one could hear it, except for the one whose ear was just an inch away.
Frisk cautiously pulled themselves away so as to look up at their friend's face; A sight that they feared to witness more than anything else in the world. The skeleton's teeth were straight and vague; not smiling, nor frowning. His eye sockets were pitch black; no white specs or fiery glows could be found. The vacant pits in his ivory skull would never be the same.
The child's cheeks had signs of dried up tears, but in that moment, a fresh flood came streaming down. "S-Sans…?" Frisk attempted the words. "I can't express… how sorry I am..." The child huffed, their breathing uneven once more. Sans shook his head, but his friend did not listen. "I can see… I can see how much pain you're in… because of me." Sniffling sharply, the child forced themselves to continue. "I, I can't comprehend it, but I see it, it-it's there! I can see what the other Frisk was warning me about, it… it hurts! It hurts so much, Sans. How do you do it? How can you stand to live this way?"
Sans was off put by such a seemingly mature question. "oh, kid." He uttered, gently patting the top if Frisk's head. "heh. you took the words right outta my mouth." Bowing his cranium, he thought of ways to properly answer his friend's question. "pal... there's no real answer to that..." He dropped his arm in bitter defeat. "there is no living with the pain a person feels every day. it doesn't really work. not for me, anyhow." He raised his skull once again, but his eye sockets still bore no light. "but you just gotta think about… the people who love you. the people who make you smile, or the people who smile because of you."
Closing his eye sockets, a vivid image flashed within his mind. Another skeleton, one whose smile washed away all fear and doubt. A grin that will be gone, now and forever, but never so much as forgotten.
"Sans…?" The little human nudged, wondering if their friend had fallen asleep.
Sans looked back down at the child. "heh. just remember those people, those smiling faces." Tilting his face, Sans turned to look out the stained glass window, where through the misty air and trees, he could see a little bird who had just landed on a skinny branch. "do it for them. ya gotta live for them."