Determination Cubed: of a fanclub that was really a great idea
Posted January 16th, 2018 by Gracithe1andonly
in wardly searching
Asriel was trying to stay attuned to Sans’s post-dinner nonlinear ranting as they rode the ferry to Hotland.
“Tra la la…” said the Riverperson suddenly, securing the flower’s attention even as Sans continued to speak, “apathy on the pathway today. How very uninteresting…or not.”
Something in those words made him feel an irrational fear, but not the sort of fear Asriel had had of death long ago. It was shallower, more fleeting, but more likely to overthrow than to sit deep in him.
“What do you mean?” he asked sharply, and Sans stopped in confusion, then noticed the Riverperson.
“Ah,” said the skeleton, shifting the flowerpot into his other arm. “Don’t question it.” Once they exited the dog-boat, however, Sans exhaled.
“The Riverperson speaks in riddles, but a lot of times they’re very relevant,” he explained. “Unhelpful, but relevant. Keep in mind what he said. It might make sense later.”
“Okay,” Asriel shrugged with his leaves, a motion he had made a lot lately upon discovering his largest leaves were proportionally similar to arms.
As the odd pair approached the lab door, an unfamiliar voice yelled, “Hey!”
Sans turned back. Asriel looked at the avian, icy monster appraisingly. He had seen this monster before, but never interacted with him, and didn’t know his name. Sans, thankfully, did.
“Heya, Mister Drake,” said the skeleton, approaching the bird at his customary saunter, “can I help ya?”
“Well, ah, ah was wondering if maybe you’d want tah…take my shift at the Resort tomorrah night?” the bird ruffled his snowflake-like feathers abashedly.
“Sure,” Sans said offhandedly, but his eyes had that intense calculating look Asriel remembered from watching him work on the red book, “but why, if you don’t mind me askin’?”
Mister Drake shifted again. “Well, it’s…mah wife. She’s sick. We’ll know soon if she’s falling or not…if she’s gonna get bettah this is the worst…but if she’s falling she’ll only get worse…this might be…the last time I can spend time with mah family…”
The calculation left Sans’s eyes, replaced by the same look he had fixed Asriel with that night outside the fountain, without the glowing blue eye. Compassion, Asriel noted with a twinge of something akin to jealousy. “’Course, Mister Drake. Anytime.”
The avian monster offered a watery smile before rustling off towards Waterfall, and Sans looked after him a long moment, then opened the lab door.
Alphys wasn’t upstairs where she usually was, so Sans took what Asriel had dubbed the Pointlessly Terrifying Elevator downstairs, the flowerpot and its occupant still in tow.
“Hey, Al, whatcha workin’ on?”
Alphys flipped out, quite literally. Her hands jerked into the air as if to proclaim her innocence, but as a result all the papers on her overloaded desk fell off and began wafting through the air willy-nilly. Sans snagged one as it drifted near him. It looked like meaningless equations to Asriel with scribbled notes, but Sans seemed to make perfect sense of it. His brow raised, and his pupils shrunk-his smile no longer looked pleasant, but testy.
“DT equals a malleable power, able to do what it is desired to do… key to barrier,” he read aloud, in a voice with less cheer than Asriel had ever heard from him.
Alphys adjusted her glasses, shifting uncomfortably. “I-it doesn’t really… I was just speculating…I just…”
Quietly, Sans picked up every paper off the floor and put them in a neat stack on the desk. After this was done, he thought for a time, then spoke in an almost chastising tone.
“I know what you’re going to say!” she snapped, “’It’s dangerous, just look at what happened to Asriel,’ but can’t you see it’s the key to breaking the Barrier!? Maybe Asriel can take a little more and can break the Barrier just by willing it, you know, since determination is nothing but the power to put what you will into reality-”
“What who wills?” Sans interrupted her, “and the fact that a flower was made into a living person by that stuff-what happens when you put it into a living person? Alphys, I don’t object to theory, you know I don’t. But you’re an engineer. You’re not comfortable unless you’ve got something real under your hands.”
“And you,” Alphys retorted, “aren’t comfortable unless all you have is theory! The second things get real you just want to ignore them!”
Sans’s pupils were barely discernible, and he was silent for a moment while they grew back to something like their ordinary size.
“Alphys,” he said slowly, very slowly, “the reason…for all of this…is to find a way…to break the Barrier…that doesn’t hurt anyone. And…if you put determination into people…” he inhaled, “they…will…be…hurt.”
Alphys sighed shakily, her anger all but gone, replaced by her usual nervousness. “B-but we d-don’t know if- we don’t have the research-we don’t know th-that.”
“The risk, it’s just too much. Asriel-sorry to cite you as an example, bud-proves that.”
Asriel barely twitched at being directly addressed, too engrossed in his own thoughts. Determination made him how he was. Red was the color of determination and the color of Chara’s soul, and every human had determination. Seven souls broke the Barrier. Why was Sans so sure determination would hurt? What does hurt mean? When you hurt someone, you deprive them of something they had, maybe comfort, or security, or sanity. Determination hurt Asriel, oh yes-it deprived him of the part of him that could hurt. The more you hurt others, the less you will hurt yourself, his father said once. And that was why gaining LOVE was so deadly.
Alphys sighed. “S-sans. You’re right. And I know it. F-for some reason…I hate it when you’re right, but. Y-you only want-you see-you just want to keep us all safe, don’t you.”
It was hardly a question. Something strange and a little sad came into Sans’s eyes, but he nodded a small nod.
The Royal Scientist smiled a smile with a tinge of heaviness in it and adjusted her glasses. “Then what choice do I have but to listen to you?”
She put the notes for researching determination into the cubby where discontinued or finished experiments went. Asriel caught Sans staring at it in happy disbelief three times before they went back upstairs so Asriel could sleep and Sans and Alphys could go home.
“Why the heck do I need to do this?” Asriel murmured in rebellion yet again. He was accustomed to weekends being the day he didn’t have to deal with people, and this “fanclub” idea sounded absolutely idiotic. It also involved being dragged to the coldest and cruelest region of the Underground-Snowdin.
“Because my bro thinks it’s a good idea, and frankly, I agree,” Sans answered, trudging through the snow.
“What makes you think it’s a good idea? No offense to your brother, but he doesn’t seem to be the most socially savvy.” Asriel knew he was whining but didn’t much care.
Sans stopped and thought for a moment, then fixed Asriel with penetrating eyes. “Well, for one, this is gonna help you feel like you shouldn’t make like human money and change for the worse.”
“I doubt I can change,” Asriel snarked, “I’ll be stuck like this, as a wimpy flower, forever.”
“Maybe, but I doubt that’s what you really be-leaf, if you catch my drift,” Sans veritably smirked as he kicked a snowdrift, and Asriel took the bait.
“You already used that one earlier today good golly Sans!”
“What, do you object to a repeat?”
“Well, yeah, that’s kind of the point-”
“What, do you object to a repeat?”
“Sans, shut up!”
“What, do you object to a repeat?”
A new but familiar voice cut in. “Well, I’ll have to agree with Flowey on this one. Stop it, Sans!”
Asriel looked up to see Papyrus approaching with a party hat on his head and two in his hands. They seemed to be made of old toilet paper rolls and bits of paper all glued together, but they were remarkably in the cone shape they were meant to be.
Sans accepted one, murmuring, “Wow, I can see the point of these,” at which Papyrus and Asriel met each other’s eyes, Papyrus exasperatedly, and Asriel irritated but feigning exasperation.
“How do you survive with my brother all day?” Papyrus asked seriously, and Asriel looked at the tall skeleton, unsure of what to say. He certainly wasn’t doing anything to invite or reject Sans’s company, it was just given to him, and Asriel hadn’t questioned how difficult it was, or if he should try to seek solitude.
“It’s okay, take your time,” Papyrus said gaily, and a twinge of irrepressible animalistic irritation sprung up in Asriel.
“Sure, whatever,” he snarked, “but I hope you’re not going to make me wear that hat!” He then proceeded to describe the hat with adjectives that would have made his mother wash his mouth with soap.
“Such language!” scolded Papyrus, unfazed, “and the hat is an absolute necessity!”
“Well, you can take that necessity,” Asriel scowled, “and-”
“Hang on, sailor,” Sans cut in, “bro, can I have a quick word with the peeved weed here?”
Papyrus nodded, and Sans walked out of earshot. Asriel was expecting a long lecture on manners and their worth, but instead the short scientist only said, “Asriel, take my brother seriously for just five minutes, it’ll be worth your time.”
“Well, okay,” Asriel muttered, “but he’s an idiot.”
“No, he’s not,” Sans said vehemently, then sighed, “but idiot or no idiot, you know what he’s not? Boring.”
Asriel’s brow shot up. “Golly, you’re right.”
“Let’s go,” Sans invited, and they followed Papyrus into the bright house.
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