Determination Cubed: Chapter Ten
Posted July 22nd, 2019 by Gracithe1andonly
in wardly searching
chapter ten: lovable piles of goop
It had taken Sans exactly five minutes of working on his red book to realize that his seamless memory was not enough to restore the work he had done before Asriel reset the timeline. Rage bubbling up within him, he wordlessly picked up the red book and threw it against the wall, leaving it limply on the floor. Soon enough, he thought better of it, and took up the old threads, trying to retrace his steps.
While he frantically rewrote what he had lost, Alphys was also working alone on some mysterious project. She was being shady. There was no other word for it. The trust between them had been lost when the flower gave up on being good and a linear timeline. All that was left of it was a fond memory in Sans’s head, and that fondness made him less likely to call her out when she began to work on determination-related things again. Without Asriel around to remind her what, exactly, the cost might be of her experiments, she began to ignore the risk, and went deaf to Sans’s friendly warnings. The lack of trust meant that when she accepted patients who were in the early stages of Falling Down, she kept them all in the basement and didn’t bother explaining what was going on to Sans.
So it was sadly, but without much surprise, that Sans came in to work one June morning to behold a very large pile of barking goop.
“Hey,” he said softly, “Grandog? Is that…you? Or…Doge? Canina?”
There was only an odd, distorted bark in response, and then strange arrows that were reminiscent of spear-related attacks flew towards Sans. He made a fantastic leap-something he hadn’t done since play-fighting with Papyrus- and avoided all of them, to his immense relief. He’d never before been attacked in a way that he could avoid. He had, however, created his own attacks and practiced them regularly until fairly recently, and before he could think about it, he initiated his Gaster Blasters, just as he had been trained and trained himself to do. He kicked himself for it, watching helplessly as a beam flew at the hapless mush of what had once been the Senior Guard…
And it did no damage?
Sans was used to doing very little damage, when he attacked people at all. He had only ever sparred with Papyrus, and had only ever attacked two other people with his magic. The attacks had both failed, and the times he’d grazed Papyrus on accident hadn’t even slowed his brother down. Nonetheless, to do no damage at all was impossible.
This thing, this amalgamate, was like nothing else that had ever existed before.
“Sans!” shrieked Alphys as she entered abruptly and saw what was happening. She got between him and the amalgamate, waving her arms. “No, no! Go away, Dogs. I’ll…I’ll get you some chisps! And some treats!”
The dog made a horrible noise that was a mockery of a bark, and then began to leave, sloshing on the ground and leaving a trail of goop. The two scientists were alone in the entryway, staring at one another-one of them weary and guilty, the other exasperated and melancholy.
“I-” they both said at the same time, and instead of chuckling as they normally would at such a mishap, just stared at one another, wondering what to say.
“You first,” said Sans with a tone that demanded an explanation. Alphys shrunk from it, and passed off the torch of the conversation. “No, you.”
“Why didn’t you listen?” he found himself saying, “I told you that putting DT into people was a bad idea, and I don’t kid about stuff like that.”
“I-I’m sorry,” Alphys responded shakily.
“I understand that,” he said tersely, “why did you think it was a good idea to keep it all a secret?”
He regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. How many secrets was he keeping? Two huge ones, and countless little ones. He had no right to confront Alphys for doing the same thing he had done before and was doing as they spoke. Only adding to his guilt, Alphys’s eyes welled up, and she began to cry.
As Sans let her lean on his arm and cry into his lab coat, he scolded himself for even beginning to assume he knew what would have happened had she listened to him. There were other variables than just him and Alphys in this equation, and the other large one that had been present last time, Asriel, was no longer around to influence things. It wasn’t at all clear that this outcome was better than the other. Last time, there had been no amalgamates, only dead monsters. The only way this version of events was really worse, Sans decided, was that it was harder on Alphys, who was bound to blame herself.
Suddenly, as she began to calm down and rub at her eyes beneath her glasses, he noticed that her right lens was cracked. “Alphys? What happened to your glasses?”
“Oh,” she said numbly, “I wasn’t expecting…t-th-them…to be there when I went d-d-downstairs this morning, and I start-startled them.”
“Did they attack you?” Sans asked, not unduly alarmed.
“Yes, but, b-bu-but, Sans, they didn’t mean to hurt me, I know that, I know it, I know,” she said desperately.
Admiring Alphys’s very large kind streak, Sans replied, “I know, I get it, okay. But if you’re hurt, you’re hurt. And you look exhausted, Al.”
He realized as he said it that she really was in terrible shape-not just her glasses, but all of her. Sans was going to suggest she go home and sleep, but then realized that she lived alone, and that right now being alone would not help her.
“Hey, Al,” he said, “Wanna come over to my house?”
“What?” she murmured. “Why?”
“You need rest. We both do. I know a shortcut home,” he said, taking her hand and leading her through the nearest doorway.
Papyrus welcomed them both with enthusiasm, then picked up on how weary they were and treated them to hot noodles before tucking Alphys in tenderly on the couch and passing his healing magic over her as though she had been crashing at their house regularly for years. Sans took a quick nap himself-that dodging act had taken quite a bit out of him. In a stunning turn of events, he woke up first that afternoon, and procured paper from Papyrus’s room and began scribbling down possible ways the situation could turn out. Alphys eventually awoke and began discussing what to do next, and by that evening they had decided to continue caring for the amalgamates as patients, though Sans didn’t manage to convince her to follow through on her promise and send them home.
It hadn’t helped at all. Not one bit.
Flowey hung limply on the shelf in his mother’s house, hoping she wouldn’t be home from Chara’s grave any time soon. She had often asked him seriously if he wanted to see the place, adding in a more lighthearted tone that plenty of “his kinsmen” grew there. He had declined every time. There was nothing to be gained by thinking about his sister. Remembering her passion wouldn’t return his own.
As time had passed in the Ruins, Flowey had found himself more and more bored. At first, he had tried to keep himself occupied with books, toys, and puzzles, but had given up after about a month. Toriel had spent a week trying to persuade him to return to his old entertainments, but after seven books, several bouncy balls, and one puzzle box had been destroyed, she had finally gotten the hint and stopped asking. Two months of repetitive and unhelpful conversation had followed. Flowey was itching to disturb the peace, but the method of disturbance he had fixated on was over the line, even for him.
Or was it?
He wavered, wondering if there was any sort of justification for what he was considering, then asking himself whether there was one for what he had done already. In a meandering way, he went from considering the action to assuming he would do it. He hopped out of his flowerpot and slunk out into the Ruins.
That poor wandering Whimsun he had almost scared to death had continually tried to approach him and apologize, but always ducked out of it at the last moment. Toriel had encouraged him to dictate a letter to her that she would then pass along, but he had refused. Whimsun’s poor fortune continued-she was the first monster he met that day, and the first he killed. She was not the last.
For the first time, he had the experience of gaining Levels of Violence. He was already soulless-it couldn’t hurt him by dulling his nonexistent sensibilities, so its only effect was to make him even more powerful than he already was.
Toriel found him two hours later underneath the tree in the courtyard of her house.
“I spoke to Froggit,” she said in a frosty tone of voice, “He saw you kill several monsters.”
“Oh,” said Flowey, “I didn’t know there were any witnesses.”
“Asriel,” she said in that horrible calm voice that conveyed more of her displeasure than shouting ever could, “How could you ever do this? You were the one to convince Chara not to push around the little monsters, you were the one to convince Doctor Gaster that she meant no harm! This is not you. What happened to you, my son?”
Flowey wondered if it was worth trying to explain to his mother how Chara had tried to convince him to kill those humans, how he had refused, how they had died, how he had woken up and been befriended by and eventually betrayed that trashbag of a skeleton, Sans.
Eh, he decided. Too much time and effort.
So instead, he just said, “I’m not Asriel anymore. Asriel is dead. I’m Flowey. And this world doesn’t mean a thing to me. Even you don’t mean a thing to me. Look,” he said with false cheer, “I’ll prove it.”
And he threw his bullets at his mother. She fell, his high Level of Violence making him more than capable of taking her down in one turn. Her soul shattered, and he looked dispassionately at her dust.
What was he doing? He wondered, unsure if this was really the best option.
Well, he could always try something else.
Flowey reached for his power over time, found it easily, and RESET.
See more stories by Tía Snow