Papyrus tiptoed down the stairs, careful not to wake anyone. Frisk, Alphys, and Undyne had come over to have a movie marathon and sleepover with him and Sans to celebrate the six month aniversary of the breaking of the barrier. Now Alphys and Undyne were sound asleep in the guest room while Frisk was crashed on the couch.
As he walked into the kitchen to make a nice bowl of oatmeal to help him sleep, he heard the sound of whimpering and crying coming from the living room. Abandoning his snack, he rushed out to check on Frisk.
As he came running into the room, he immediately saw that she was having a nightmare, her crying growing louder as she fought her blankets, throwing them off her and onto the ground.
He rushed to her side and gently placed a hand on her shoulder, careful not to scare her more as he knew from experience with Sans that a person startled awake from a nightmare might throw a punch or attack. He let his soul glow for her. "Frisk, it's okay. You're having a bad dream." he said gently in the soft voice he rarely used.
"No...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..." she sobbed, still not waking up.
"Frisk, you're safe. It's just a nightmare. Don't be sorry." he told her, stroking her hair to try to calm her. "It's okay. You're okay." Finally she woke with a gasp, looking around frantically.
"Hey, it's okay, human! The Great Papyrus is here and will protect you from whatever happened in your dream!" Papyrus told her, speaking more like he used to but staying at a softer volume. He sat next to her on the couch. She was still shaking a little and had tears in her eyes, which made him worry even more.
"I'm sorry I woke you, Papyrus." she said softly once she had calmed down enough to speak.
He took her hand in his. "Do not worry, my dear friend! I was already awake when I heard you. And even if I wasn't, I would not mind waking up for you. I am always here when you need me!" She smiled at this, but Papyrus knew her well enough to know something was still bothering her. "Do you want to talk about it? I've found that sometimes talking it out helps."
"I'm okay." she said very softly.
"Human, please don't lie." Papyrus told her softly. "I know you probably don't want to worry me and that you're trying to protect me like Sans does, but seeing you hurting makes me worry more. I know something's wrong, and as your friend, I want to help. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but please, don't hide."
She was quiet for a few minutes, and he could see tears pricking at her eyes. "You-You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you, and..and if you did, you'd hate me..."
"Frisk, I could never hate you." he told her.
"You might after what I tell you. I-I just want you to know how sorry I am...Do...Do you believe that time travel or alternate timelines are possible?"
Papyrus was confused, a faint flicker of something resounding in his head as he tried to process the strange question. He remembered how when he met Frisk, he could have sworn he had met her before, even though as far as he knew, that had been the first time he saw her. And he also remembered seeing some papers in Sans's room; a bunch of jargon about timelines and something called a "timeline anomaly." He hadn't been able to make heads or tails of it, and then Sans had come into the room and quickly taken it from him, saying that it was just some research and nothing he needed to worry about, and then refused to speak of it again. "I'm...not entirely sure, human. I know my brother believes it's possible since I saw some of his research once, but I don't know for sure if it is or is not. Anything is possible."
"What if...What if hypothetically, someone had these powers...and they could go back in time any time they died...and they died a lot...and they were so scared...and...and they couldn't take dying any more so they...they did something bad to some people who had killed them..and they ruined a friend's life and they felt terrible so they reset everything and made it right...and...and learned the people they had killed weren't so bad after all and they were able to finally solve it without fighting and...and help everyone...but the bad time still happened and they can't get it out of their head..."
Papyrus felt a sudden headache and several hazy images flashed past his eyes. He shook his head and looked to Frisk, who was looking down with tears in her eyes. "You're not really talking hypothetically, are you, Frisk?" he asked gently.
She shook her head quietly.
"Please tell me what happened."
"I was that person. I-I was so scared and I kept dying and I couldn't take it and I...I killed Undyne and Mettaton...I...I reset...I tried to fix it, but I still did it...I can't forget it..."
Papyrus was about to ask what the heck she was talking about as Undyne was upstairs fast asleep and Mettaton was on tour, but then his head ached and images flashed through it. Images that hadn't happened in this time.
And he remembered.
He remembered meeting her for the true first time and how scared she had been, of him, of everything. She had been completely silent during their first battle, eyes wide with fear, rather than flirting with him like she had in what he now knew to be the second time she had met him. He had been gentle with her and eventually let her out of the fight, and they had hung out and become friends, and then she had left to go through Waterfall.
And then he had spoken to Undyne, who had wanted to take her soul both times. He had tried to both keep his friendship with Undyne and subtly help the human at the same time but it hadn't worked. He had tried to talk to Undyne, but her house was empty. She had already gone to fight the human.
And she hadn't returned.
Only a few days later, he and Sans had packed up to live with Toriel. The human had left, and Sans had told him Asgore, Undyne and Mettaton had went on vacation. It was the tone Sans always used when he couldn't tell Papyrus the truth. But Papyrus could always tell when Sans was lying, though he tried to believe it, both wanting to make his brother feel better and not wanting to believe the truth. He didn't want to believe Undyne was gone, or that he would never hear Mettaton's show again, or that his timid human friend had anything to do with it.
And then he had caught Sans talking on the phone and recognized the number. He had asked to talk too. He kept it cheerful.
Because he knew in his heart the human wasn't evil, just scared. And he still believed in her. She was good inside, he knew that from knowing her.
And then everything had...reset was the only word he had for it, not even an hour after he had spoken to her voicemail.
He hadn't even realized it happened. It had been like a bad dream that had disappeared quickly after he had woken up.
He had woken Sans, made breakfast, gone to his station like a normal day, the "dream" disappearing from his mind.
And he met her for the second first time.
She had smiled at him like an old friend and he could have sworn he knew her. He saw sadness in her eyes that she tried to hide. She wasn't afraid of him during their fight, like she knew he would never harm her. She flirted with him. He took her on a date this time, but he hadn't known her long enough for him to know if he liked her that way or not as his feelings for her hadn't changed and they agreed to just be friends.
Again he had let her leave alone; again he had told Undyne. Again Undyne had said she was going to take her soul, and Papyrus felt terrible that he hadn't been brave enough to directly stop her. So he tried to warn Frisk(which had again failed) and then gone to Undyne's house to talk to her.
Undyne had been gone at first, but this time she had returned, grumpy, overheated, and telling him she'd leave "the damn human" alone. He was excited, knowing that this was the first step to making Undyne and the human friends. He had called Frisk, and finally she had agreed to come hang out with Undyne. She had been scared, hiding behind him when he talked to Undyne. Undyne had been annoyed at the whole thing, but she also looked like she felt guilty, so Papyrus had felt safe enough to leave Frisk there, pretending he had to go to the bathroom and jumping out the window, knowing he'd be an awkward third wheel that they'd both talk to instead of talking to each other if he didn't. Undyne and the human had argued at first, but he knew what to do, bringing out Undyne's competitive spirit by challenging her to befriend the human. And it had worked. The two were laughing together by the time he had met them outside of Undyne's burning house, and Undyne said that the human was great, though kind of wimpy.
Later, they had watched Mettaton's show and Undyne had cheered on the human. Papyrus now had some hazy memories of the human dying and Undyne pulling Papyrus into her arms and shielding his view from the screen as she gaped in horror and he sobbed. But in the end, the human had fake battled Mettaton long enough for his power to drain, Mettaton's friend had called, convincing Mettaton to stay, and everything had been fine.
Undyne had given a letter to Frisk, Frisk had gotten Undyne and Alphys together, then gone to Alphys lab, then Flowey had come to find Papyrus to tell him Frisk was in terrible danger.
Flowey had for once looked scared. He had called Frisk Chara, and told Papyrus he needed to get everyone together to save "Chara" before she died. Papyrus had been quick to listen to his flowery friend's advice, calling everyone and making an army of his own to get to the castle and save their friend. They had got there in time to stop the fight, Asgore had quickly backed down, and then Flowey had come in, attacked them and Frisk, Papyrus blearily remembered blocking the attacks going towards his friend...
And then he had woken with the others, Frisk, who he now knew the name of lying unconscious nearby, and after a few minutes waking up much to his relief. The barrier had broken and they were free thanks to his human friend.
And that's how they got to where they are now.
Papyrus snapped out of his flashback to see Frisk crying in front of him.
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." she sobbed. "I was so scared and they kept killing me and it hurt, it hurt so much, and I...I just wanted it to stop and I...I..."
He pulled her into a tight hug. "I know. I know. I remember now." he whispered to her. "I'm so sorry, Frisk..."
"What?" she asked in shock. "Papyrus, why are you apologizing? I-I killed people...I hurt you and the people you love...I'm nothing more than a..."
"Scared person who was trying to defend yourself." he told her, gently placing a finger on her mouth to stop her. "And I was your friend, I should have protected you! If I had, that entire first timeline might not have happened. I, the Great Papyrus, could have prevented it! I should have made sure those fights never happened and kept all three of you safe!"
"Papyrus, it's not your fault...It wouldn't have been fair to make you choose between me and Undyne and have you risk losing your best friend and your job." Frisk told him though her tears. "I should have..."
"It was my duty as your friend to protect you and do the right thing. I knew what I should have done, and I didn't, Frisk." Papyrus whispered, looking sadder than Frisk had seen him in his whole life.
Frisk hugged him tight. "But you did. Papyrus, you're the reason I reset the timeline. You're my friend, one of the best I ever had and...and I couldn't just leave things the way they were, because I knew you believed I could be better. You believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. And you helped me become friends with Undyne, and you saved my life at the castle by getting everyone. You blocked Flowey's attacks even though he was draining you...You saved my life in more ways than one. I want you to know that. Everything...Everything now was all because of you."
"Human, no matter what happened in the past, you were the one who chose to go back and free us. You ARE a good person, even if you don't think so, I promise." he reassured her.
Frisk looked down. "I can't stop seeing it, Papyrus. What I did to Undyne...what I did to Mettaton...It was awful, and I can't take it back, even though I turned back time. It's still stuck with me...what I did...what I became...And I think Sans remembers; he sometimes looks at me like I'm an atomic bomb about to blow up when he thinks I'm not looking...He probably hates me...And I understand why after what I did...And...And...I still have the power even if I never want to use it again...I just want it out of me...I just want it gone..."
"Frisk...shh...It's okay...My brother's secretive but he's very nice and understanding. And he doesn't hate you; you're like his little sister, he told me that. Just tell him what you told me if he doesn't know already and he can help you. And Mettaton and Undyne are alive and safe. We can call Mettaton if you want, and Undyne's right upstairs if you want me to take you up there to show you she's okay..."
"Undyne's right here!" a voice said.
Both Frisk and Papyrus nearly jumped out of their skin at the sound of Undyne's voice. The fish monster was standing at the top of the stairs. She headed down looking angry but also sad. Though they hadn't noticed her, she had been there the whole time, her finely tuned Royal Guard hearing having caught the sound of Frisk crying in her sleep.
Frisk flinched. "H-How much did you hear?"
"Enough to know exactly why I've been having recurring nightmares about killing my damn bestie who happens to have time traveling powers somehow and about dying myself! In other words, everything!" Undyne growled and Papyrus held Frisk closer as the human girl flinched away, even though he knew Undyne well enough to know Undyne's anger was at herself, not Frisk. "I remember everything now! All the fucking dreams I wanted to forget were real! And Alphys' were as well!"
"I'm sorry." Frisk whispered.
"Did you kill anyone before me? Did you do something to deserve me murdering you at least seven times?!"
"Undyne..." Papyrus started as he started to move between them.
"Papyrus, it's okay." Frisk said softly, moving out from behind Papyrus and accepting whatever Undyne had in store for her. "I-I didn't kill anyone before...before you. I'm sorry, Undyne...I'm sorry..." Tears streamed down her face.
"Will you quit it with the damn sorry and guilt and crap?! Hasn't it even occurred to you that I could have done something different, like I don't know, NOT tried to murder an innocent teenage girl?! I would have killed me too if I had been you! In fact, I would have done something worse! I was a total asshole! And I didn't even apologize for it, even after we became friends!" Undyne yelled. Against her will, tears began forming in her eyes. Then all her rage seemed to drain out of her and she slumped down. "I'm sorry, Frisk." Both Frisk and Papyrus moved to her side.
"You're not angry at me? Even after what I did?" Frisk asked in shock. "You don't hate me?"
"Geez, punk, what's broken, your memory or your ears? I tried to kill you first! I actually did kill you and I didn't even bother to listen to Papyrus when he tried to tell me you were good. And Papyrus, you better stop feeling guilty too, because even if you had tried harder, I probably still wouldn't have listened because I'm a stubborn dick." She sighed. "Frisk, I wanted to free us, and I wanted to protect Asgore from having to do it, so I told myself you were evil and didn't deserve to live even though the truth was you were innocent and you did, well do, deserve to live. I fucked up. Maybe you did too, but you wouldn't have if I hadn't started the whole damn thing in the first place. And I don't know what exactly happened with Mettaton, but if the same thing that I sort of remember happening to you when Papyrus and I were watching TV happened before, I don't blame you. And look, we're both alive right now, see? I'm sitting right here talking to you and that would be pretty hard to do if I was dead, so stop feeling guilty about killing me when I'm alive, okay? Granted if you turn back time again and kill me again or anyone else, I will come back as a ghost and kick your ass, but you're not going to do that, are you?"
Frisk shook her head violently. "No. I'm happy here in this time with you guys. Maybe we didn't get off on the right foot, but Undyne, once we did become friends, you were a great bestie and always there for me. And Papyrus, you were always awesome. So if I can help it at all, I will never reset again, but...but I don't know what these powers will do if I die on the surface. I've gone to the Underground every day to save, but I don't know how well it's going to work or what's going to happen when my life is supposed to naturally end...It really freaks me out."
"I have almost no clue what you're talking about, but tell Alphys. She believes in alternate timelines and universes and stuff so maybe she can find a way to get rid of it if you..." She then looked down. "Actually, let me break it to Alphys. She's been having the dreams too and I want to make sure she doesn't find a way to twist the blame onto herself."
Tears filled Frisk's eyes yet again. "I'm sorry...It-I never meant...I mean...I'm sorry. I was just..."
"Terrified out of your freaking mind? Trying to not die?" Undyne cut her off. "Frisk, it's not like you were some sadistic nutcase. You didn't even do anything I wouldn't have done in your place. Like I told you earlier, I probably would have done a lot worse. Heck, the only one I think would have made it through without doing it is Paps The Extreme Pacifist right there. Look, I don't like what happened. I don't like that Alphys is having nightmares about this, and dying certainly wasn't fun, but all of that is as much if not more on me than it was on you. And you made up for it. You came back and you fixed it. I'm alive, Mettaton's alive, I get to date the best girl in the world, and we're on the surface because you decided to give us a second chance even after the shit we put you through." She placed her hands on Frisk's shoulders. "Look at what you gave us." She pulled Frisk gently towards the porch and Papyrus followed. They stepped into the cool night air and Undyne looked to the inky black sky with its millions of stars.
Frisk looked up to the sky as well, drinking in the beauty. She felt two hands take hers, Papyrus's warm bony one, and Undyne's cool scaly one.
It would take her a long time to completely stop feeling guilty, but with the forgiveness and acceptance of her friends, she could feel the hurt start to heal.
She had the love of her friends and family.
And it filled her with determination.