As it turned out, the trip to the skeleton brothers' house had to be rescheduled to the next morning, as Frisk had accidentally fallen asleep on the way back to the mansion. They had left shortly after waking up, and had been promptly driven to Newer Home, the monsters' latest capital. Frisk didn't need to ask anyone to know that Asgore had named it.
It was a humble town, only average-sized by human standards, but the nature of its inhabitants meant that it definitely stood out. Its architecture was as diverse as the biomes of the underground, and "downtown vs not downtown" was the only distinction that Frisk had been able to draw from what they had seen. It looked as though each monster had been allowed to build their house however they wanted. The city was located very near the coast, presumably as a way to accommodate aquatic monsters.
Sans and Papyrus's house was located roughly in the center of town, and it appeared to be a larger, less snowy version of their old home. They now had a front lawn and a backyard, plus a driveway for Papyrus's car; his license plate read "GRT-PAP". A row of hedge bushes lined the front of the house, and the grass was neatly trimmed.
Once the car had parked in front of the house, Frisk and Flowey stepped outside, quickly saying goodbye to Burgerpants. He nodded at them, and then drove off down the street, leaving the two of them alone on the sidewalk.
Frisk was still a little nervous about seeing the skeletons again, but for the most part they were excited. After all, they were confident that they would be well-received by Papyrus, and Sans would be easy enough to convince. The only reason they were nervous at all was because Sans might decide to be scary at first. Nonetheless, they walked up to the brothers' front door, knocking on it without hesitation.
Almost immediately, Frisk could hear the sound of footsteps rapidly approaching. After several seconds, Papyrus came into view, and moments later he flung open the door. He wore a large red sweater and yellow shorts, with red and blue sneakers on his feet.
"Welcome to the home of The Great Papyrus, Monster Ambassador!" He proudly declared. "What can I do for-" he stopped, eyes widening when he realized who was in front of him.
Hello. Frisk signed.
Papyrus grabbed Frisk, hugging them tightly. "Frisk, you're alive! I'm so happy to see you again!"
I'm glad to see you too! Frisk signed once they were able to use their arms again.
"I thought I would never see you again." Papyrus admitted. "But now you're back, and you're a skeleton too! This is the greatest day of my life!"
The house's interior was decorated similarly to how their old home had been, much like the exterior. However, the differences between the two were much more notable once you stepped inside, particularly because it had many more rooms available. First there was a simple but spacious foyer, with a table, a mat to put your shoes on and a closet for people's coats. The bone portrait had been moved into this room, and each of the connecting rooms was labelled with a sign above the door written in Papyrus's font. From there, one could access the living room, the dining room or the kitchen.
Frisk peeked into the living room, which was occupied by a couch, several chairs, tables, and a large television with a video game console attached. Sans was seated in one of the armchairs, his eyes closed in relaxation, while Undyne was wide awake on the couch. Sans was wearing his usual hoodie and shorts, while Undyne wore a black t-shirt and jeans.
Undyne noticed Frisk immediately, but since she was only able to see a portion of their head, she did not immediately recognize them. "Hey, Papyrus, is this one of your cousins or something?"
"I don't think we have those." Sans said with a yawn, his eyes still closed.
"They aren't a relative, but they're still someone we know very well!" Papyrus picked Frisk up, carrying them into full view.
Undyne's squinted at the skeletal child. "Hey, they kind of look like..." Her eyes widened in realization, and she spluttered for several seconds instead of finishing her sentence.
Sans slightly opened one eye in curiosity, only for both to shoot open in shock once he saw who it was. "Frisk?!"
I'm the legendary fartmaster. Frisk signed, looking at Sans with a smile. Nervous though they were about his reaction to them, they couldn't help but be amused by the immature joke.
Undyne stared at them. "What the heck does that mean?"
Sans waved a hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it. It's just a little inside joke, which I guess is supposed to prove their identity to me."
"Does that mean you believe them?" Papyrus asked nervously.
Sans hesitated, then sighed. "Yeah, I do."
"Well, I need proof too!" Undyne leapt to her feet, pointing a finger at Frisk. "If you're really Frisk, then what did we make when we hung out at my house? I never told anyone that!"
"You told us that it caused your house to burn down." Papyrus said.
Undyne growled. "The point is, only Frisk would know the specific kind of food we made!"
Remembering how their hangout with Undyne had gone, Frisk actually laughed; it was a quiet and raspy noise, as they were completely unused to making vocal noise. As a human, their problem had been a lack of functional vocal cords - but since a skeleton clearly didn't use those to talk, that wasn't an issue for them anymore.
You made me tea, and then you tried to teach me how to cook pasta with vegetables. Frisk signed, still laughing as they did.
"Y-yeah, that's right. I guess it really is you, then...?"
Frisk nodded. I'm happy to see you again.
Undyne rushed over and grabbed Frisk out of Papyrus's arms, hugging them tightly. "I knew you couldn't be gone for real! Don't ever leave us like that again, or I'll beat you up!"
Sans walked over to Frisk and Undyne, tears beginning to form in his eye sockets. "I really missed you, kid."
Papyrus was already crying outright, hugging Undyne and Frisk. "Even death is powerless before our unbreakable bonds of friendship!"
Flowey coughed. "Uh, hi. I'm here too."
Almost immediately, everyone turned to face Flowey. Sans looked nervous and Undyne looked confused, but Papyrus just looked happy. Somehow, he had managed to stop crying instantly.
"Hi, Flowey! What are you doing here with Frisk?" Papyrus asked him.
He turned to face Papyrus, smiling brightly. "I was next to their grave when they crawled out of it. I didn't want them to go off on their own, so I decided to come with them!"
"So you're the one who's been taking care of Frisk while they were traveling here?" Undyne asked, squinting at Flowey.
We took care of each other, actually. Frisk signed.
"Wowie! You two must be really good friends!" Papyrus exclaimed.
Sans shrugged. "Well, I guess we have nothing to worry about now that Frisk is with us."
"That's right! If anyone wants to mess with you, they'll have to get through me!" Undyne yelled.
Seeing all of their friends so happy to see them, Frisk felt a strong sense of relief wash over them. Despite their fears, each of their friends had accepted them very quickly - all it took was a little bit of evidence, which Frisk was happy to provide. Maybe adjusting to this new form wouldn't be as hard as they thought it would be.
Undyne finally set Frisk down on the floor, looking at them in concern. "I'm really happy to see you, kid, don't get me wrong - but how the heck did this happen?"
I don't know. Frisk admitted. I just woke up under the dirt. I looked like this, and I couldn't feel my determination anymore.
Papyrus gasped. "So you're a monster now, like us?"
Frisk nodded. I don't know how, but I am.
Undyne crossed her arms. "I have no idea how this is possible, but we need more information. I'm gonna call Alphys and ask her to come over here."
"You should call Asgore and Toriel too! They would surely love to see Frisk again!" Papyrus suggested.
"Oh boy, here we go." Flowey muttered.
Rather than calling all three of their remaining friends at once, Undyne had decided to contact Alphys first, informing her of the situation in full. The lizard scientist had promised to gather her equipment immediately and arrive as soon as she could. Meanwhile, Asgore and Toriel were simply asked to visit at dinner, in order to discuss an unspecified important topic. Both of them had politely agreed, apparently suspecting nothing about what they were going to encounter.
The scientist had started her short drive to the house within half an hour, during which Frisk was fed a "Sanswich" - a sandwich made by Sans - at the insistence of their concerned friends. Papyrus had apologized for being unable to provide them with spaghetti, explaining that pasta was already their dinner plan.
"Don't worry, Papyrus is actually good at cooking now." Sans assured Frisk. "Toriel gave him proper lessons almost immediately."
Papyrus glared at Sans. "I've always been a master chef! The queen merely helped me expand my vast skills to even greater levels of vastness!"
"She's pretty great at it, actually." Undyne rubbed the back of her neck. "Her style is totally boring, but the food tastes really good."
It was then that Alphys announced her arrival with a quick series of nervous taps on the door, which were immediately answered by Papyrus. She was wearing a pink Mew Mew Kissy Cutie t-shirt, plus a pair of blue jeans. She was also carrying a large bag, which Frisk assumed was full of cool science devices.
Flowey looked away, avoiding any sort of eye contact with the scientist. Alphys did the same, focusing instead on everyone else in the room.
"H-hi, everyone!" Alphys greeted them with a wave, hurrying into the living room and immediately hugging Frisk.
Frisk was briefly surprised, but they happily hugged her back. Hello, Alphys! They signed once she had let go.
"S-so, you're really, uh, F-Frisk?" Alphys asked, looking them over with a nervous smile.
Frisk nodded. I don't know if Undyne told you this, but I'm a monster now. I can't feel any determination.
Alphys sat down, looking down thoughtfully. "There's no way a normal human could survive as just a skeleton, but the idea of a human turning into a monster is just as improbable. I'll have to use a CHECK machine to see what's really going on."
Alphys set her bag down and reached into it, pulling out what looked like a stethoscope attached to a rectangular box. Upon being turned on, a display lit up that listed various stats, including DT. Alphys held the "stethoscope" up to Frisk's chest for several seconds, and numbers began to appear on the machine.
MONSTER - FRISK
Alphys gasped. "Oh my gosh, there really is none at all! And it's reading you as a monster for sure..."
"Humans don't just turn into monsters out of nowhere. Something had to have caused this." Undyne pointed out.
Sans shrugged. "Frisk is special. If all humans could do what they do, Asgore probably wouldn't have been able to collect any souls."
Frisk looked away for several seconds, then turned back towards their friends. You guys...buried me, so you must have found my body. Did you find anything there that would be helpful to know now?
"Well, when we found you, your soul was gone - but your body was still alive at first." Alphys explained tentatively.
Frisk's pupils widened in their sockets. I was still alive, without a soul?
Sans nodded. "At first, yeah. I guess there was still enough determination left over to keep it going."
"T-this shouldn't be possible!" Alphys exclaimed. "I mean, o-obviously it's really happening, b-but by all accounts it shouldn't be!"
Hey, I'm here now. That's all that really matters, right? Frisk signed hopefully.
Alphys nodded, laughing nervously. She didn't seem to be calming down at all. "O-of course it's good that you're back, it's absolutely amazing, but the scientific implications of this are huge! H-humans and monsters are supposed to be fundamentally different, b-but if a human can turn into a monster, then that can't possibly be true! It changes everything, a-and we don't even know how it happened!"
Undyne rushed over to Alphys, pulling her into what seemed to be a hug. The lizard monster squeaked in surprise, but before she could react, Undyne suplexed her with a loud yell.
"Don't worry about any of that, Alphys! We can figure out the rest of this nerd stuff later!" Undyne shouted.
"O-okay, okay! S-sorry, I got really carried away there!" Alphys apologized frantically, dusting off her clothes as she got to her feet.
Frisk shook their head. I don't mind. Are you okay?
"I'm used to it." Alphys shrugged.
Undyne grinned. "When someone's really freaking out, the best way to calm them down is by suplexing them! They can't possibly keep worrying about their problems after that."
"Why didn't you suplex Frisk, too?" Papyrus asked her.
Undyne rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly. "Um...I thought maybe they were really fragile, because they were dead for a while, and I didn't want to hurt them."
Frisk giggled. After everything else that happened to me, I probably would have survived. All the same, though, I appreciate not getting suplexed.
"That's pretty reasonable. I'm a fan of not getting suplexed myself." Sans said.
Papyrus stomped his feet. "Sans! Your HP is too low for it, so you don't count!"
Sans shrugged. "Well, you're not wrong - but don't you think maybe suplexing children is a bit too intense?"
"That was, uh...that was the other reason." Undyne admitted.
Flowey snickered. "Someday, when you're older, you can get suplexed too, Frisk."
Unsurprisingly, Frisk was not particularly looking forward to it.
Eventually, everyone heard another set of knocks at the door. This time they were loud, firm and steady, suggesting that the hand belonged to someone very big.
Papyrus got up and ran over to the door, swinging it open enthusiastically. The front door was not directly visible from the living room, but the voices of Asgore and Toriel could be clearly heard.
"Frisk, it's them..." Flowey whispered nervously.
You'll be okay. Frisk signed, gently patting Flowey's stem afterwards.
The King and Queen entered into the living room, both of them looking very anxious. They did their best to hide it for the sake of politeness, but it was obvious that they were feeling impatient about something - probably Frisk.
Feeling sorry for their adoptive parental figures, Frisk got up and greeted them immediately. They were already here, so it was best not to keep them waiting any longer than necessary. Everyone else had accepted Frisk's return; now all they had to do was hope that the king and queen would believe them as well.
Flowey continued to be evasive, staring in the complete opposite direction of his parents. Frisk felt sorry for him, but decided to leave him alone; there would be time to resolve that problem later.
Hi, mom. They signed, looking up at Toriel nervously.
The moment they saw Frisk, Asgore and Toriel froze, their eyes widening. Toriel let out a gasp, and Frisk could already see tears beginning to form in her eyes.
For several moments, they just stood there, like they were having trouble processing the fact that this was really happening - or maybe they were mentally trying to convince themselves that it was. Toriel broke the silence first, running up to Frisk with a wail and kneeling down into a hug.
"Oh, Frisk my child, I have missed you so dearly!" She cried.
Frisk giggled, hugging Toriel in lieu of any signing. They knew it was possible for them to talk now, technically speaking, but it was still completely new to them, so they preferred not to attempt it.
"I thought that I would never see you again. This is almost unbelievable." Toriel said.
Sans walked up to the two of them. "Almost? What made it believeable? You reacted pretty much right away, Tori."
She laughed, wiping away her tears and looking at him. "I recognized their demeanour, I suppose. There is something unmistakably special about Frisk."
Am I really that special? Frisk signed, backing off just enough for them to be able to use their hands.
"Of course you are, my child!" Toriel assured them. "After everything that you have done for us, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind about that."
"Don't worry, though! If you don't feel like you can believe in yourself, then I will just believe in you for you!" Papyrus assured them happily.
Undyne gave Frisk a thumbs-up. "You'll do great, kid! I bet you've got some really cool magic in store now that you're a monster!"
Asgore tutted. "One thing at a time, Undyne. Why, we don't even know where Frisk will be staying yet."
Toriel nodded. "Yes, thank you, Asgore. That needs to be sorted out before the night is over. My child, do you have any parents that you still wish to return to?"
Frisk shook their head. No. Even before this happened, I didn't have anywhere to go. You guys are my family.
Toriel gasped quietly, then beamed at Frisk' words. "Well, in that case, one of us will have to take up the responsibility of being Frisk's guardian! Of course, I would be happy to take care of them myself, but it is only fair that we open the floor to anyone else who might be interested."
Frisk was briefly alarmed by this new possibility, but nobody else seemed eager to contest Toriel's claim. Asgore was the only person in the room besides her who would know how to care for a child, and he looked distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of raising such a suggestion to his ex-wife. His hesitation was probably for the best, considering the cause of their breakup.
"Honestly, you and Asgore are the only ones here who were ever qualified to take care of kids." Sans said, echoing Frisk's thoughts.
"Frisk did originally live with you, as well. It only seems natural that they should do so once again." Asgore murmured.
Toriel nodded decisively, as if this was the outcome she had expected from the start. "Very well, then. I will act as Frisk's caretaker."
Flowey doesn't have anywhere to stay, either. Can they come too? Frisk asked, gesturing to the plant around their neck.
Toriel blinked. "Well, if you are sure that it is a good idea, then I suppose Flowey can join you if he wants to."
Flowey sighed. "Fine. I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a place to stay. If I agree to this, though, can I please have something to move around in? Living in a flowerpot sounds really unappealing, but I can't spend all my time wrapped around Frisk's neck either."
Alphys raised her hand, sweating nervously as she looked at Flowey with a guilty expression. "I-I, um, I could build you something. Like, a mechanical flower pot, w-with wheels or something. I-if you want me to, I mean."
Flowey smiled sweetly. "Sure thing, doc! We'd better talk about it, though, to make sure it's just right!"
Alphys gulped. "Y-yep, sure thing, F-Flowey."
Frisk caught a devious glint in Flowey's eyes. They suspected that he had some very particular ideas in mind for his personal vehicle. Considering what she had done for Mettaton, they had no doubt that Alphys would be able to satisfy Flowey's wild imagination - within the limits of safety, of course.
Asgore coughed. "Now that everyone's living arrangements have been settled, perhaps we could all sit down and have something to eat?"
Papyrus jumped up and posed dramatically. "That's right! I have been cooking my special, new-and-improved spaghetti, and I suspect it is almost ready! The timer should be going off any moment now! When it does, we will have a feast!"
Sans chuckled. "I can't wait, bro."
Despite Frisk's reservations, the spaghetti turned out to be very, very good. Even Flowey had enjoyed it, although he later claimed in private that it was only because his mom was such a good teacher.
Being brave wasn't easy.
Some people thought that bravery just meant being fearless and cool. Before his adventure, he was one of those people - that he would admit. But who could really blame a kid for something like that? It's only natural that he acted like that! Adults who still think those sorts of things don't have an excuse; whatever happens to make some adults so smart and cool really ought to just happen to all of them.
As he had learned, though, not all adults were smart and cool. They could make very big mistakes, and then other people would have to pay for them. Having been one of those people, he'd been forced to learn the true meaning of bravery. As it turned out, though, real bravery just meant doing what you think is right even when you're scared. The fear is normal - it's fighting through the fear that makes you a brave person.
That had been a relief. Now every time he felt scared of something, he didn't have to worry if he wasn't being strong enough. Sure, he'd still hide it on the outside, but being able to feel it on the inside was so much easier than trying to shut it away.
This new world was scary. He was sure many people were probably scared of humans and monsters living together, but for him it was mostly the crowds that were scary. He was brave, so he ran straight through until he came out at the other side of town. He didn't try to fight people, even when he wanted to, because he knew that they could gang up on him pretty easily. He'd done it before, when he hanging out with his friends while he was very small.
It wasn't just scary, though. More than that, it made him angry. All of that trouble getting up here, so that monsters could fight humanity all over again - but now that they'd actually done it, everything was peaceful? If they were just going to end up making friends, then what was the point of all that time spent hating humans? Why did they kill six of them first, only to treat the seventh like a new best friend?
Well, it didn't matter. He wasn't going to fight all of the monsters who had been responsible for hurting him. After all, he was no agent of justice; that was someone else's job. There was just one monster he wanted to fight: the one who had started it all. He needed someone to take his anger out on, and that guy was the perfect target.
If anyone else tried to get in his way, he'd just beat them up too.