Flowey slouched among the golden flowers of his best friend’s grave. He looked for all the world like a harmless, wilted plant that had been stepped on one too many times. Well, that wasn’t entirely false. His soulful counterpart had seemed determined to stay here and watch over Chara’s grave, and although this idea seemed silly and pointless to him now, he couldn’t bring himself to do anything else.
He found himself talking to the ground. Telling him not to reset. Telling him to leave things as they were. Flowey wasn’t even sure he wanted anyone to hear him. It appeared he was the same as ever, refusing to accept that no one was there, that Chara had been gone a long time. But he now lacked even the usual drive to return to his old form, to feel things again. He seemed to have even less emotion than before. And even if it might be temporary, he enjoyed the reprieve. This apathy wasn’t half bad. It was comfortable, even. Better than the deadly determination that drove him to always, always want more, unable to attain it. Well. He didn’t have that power anymore, he told the little grave. And he didn’t think he would reset even if he did. Not after everything that happened. “But, if you do end up erasing everything, you have to erase my memories, too.” He found he was a little excited at the thought, though some part of him dreaded it as well. “See you later, Chara,” he finished weakly.
In the silence that followed, he stared around at the dark walls of the cavern, the empty faces of his yellow companions, the lifeless mound of earth. And he shook himself. Who was he fooling? No one was there.
But he knew this wasn’t true before he turned.
“Don’t you have anything better to do, Frisk?” he sighed exasperatedly, and in quite a different tone than the one he’d used to say it all those weeks ago.
Frisk stood at the edge of the flowerbed, just close enough to be illuminated by the golden glow of the grave. His eyes were hidden in shadow beneath his hair, and his hands were clenched into little fists by his sides. For some reason, he wore the same striped shirt he’d worn throughout the entirety of his journey through the Underground. Did he think this would make Flowey nostalgic? Maybe he missed the good old days of getting his ass kicked. But, despite himself, Flowey wasn’t unhappy to see him. His old hunger for entertainment wasn’t entirely satiated, even now. “Did you come to tell me how much you forgive me and to offer me a hug?” he sing-songed cheerily, enjoying this tumble down the slippery slope of old habit. He spread his leaves as though inviting such comforts, but Frisk gave no indication he heard. He took a few steps into the flowerbed, and now Flowey could see there was no pity in his look. Only an intent concentration.
“So… you really are still here,” he said quietly.
“Where else should I be?” Flowey asked flippantly, but he knew what Frisk meant. Why was he still here?
“I came back to get you, if you were,” Frisk sighed at last, and he flopped to the ground. He looked tired. He must’ve walked the entire length of the Underground alone to get here.
“I thought I told you to remember me as I was,” Flowey intoned with feigned agony. “What have you done? You’ve shattered my only comfort in this world.”
Frisk only stared at him, and eventually Flowey subsided. This wouldn’t be any fun if the kid didn’t play along. “Hurry up and say what you wanna say,” he snapped. “You’re even more boring than the dead guy.”
“I did. I want you to come back with me.”
Flowey put a leaf to his eyes, facepalming as well as a flower could. “And do what, Frisk? Sit in a flowerpot on your windowsill?”
Frisk winced in a way that showed he had imagined just that. “I want to see if there’s a way to bring you back. Alphys - ”
Flowey held up a leaf for silence. “And what happens then? What happens after Alphys turns me into one of her melty amalgamates? Will you consider you’ve succeeded when I at least have a sweeter disposition?”
“No, I -”
“What about mommy? Does she even know you’re here?”
A pained expression fluttered across Frisk’s face.
“What are you going to tell her?” Flowey pressed. “About your new little friend? The one you’re experimenting on. What are you going to tell her if you fail?”
Frisk looked up at him, head tilted in surprise. “You’re still worried about how they’ll feel if you come back.”
Flowey retreated into himself. His stem shrank and his leaves grew longer, weaving around his face. For a moment it seemed as though he would disappear, right into the ground. Frisk scooted closer hurriedly. “Flowey!” he called after him. “If you really care so much, isn’t it worth a try?”
With a pop, Flowey reemerged, and now his eyes were like red pinpricks of light within large, dark voids. He looked down at the grass and spoke with surprising calm. “I told you to leave before because I couldn’t tolerate my own feelings, or theirs, if I went back. It’s true I have no such handicap now,” he cackled grimly, shaking his golden head. “But I can’t bring myself to want to become that person again, either. So much has changed.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Flowey looked up swiftly, grinning that spidery grin of his. “Stay determined!” he quipped in the harsh, layered voice reserved for moments such as these.
Frisk’s eyes flashed, and in a moment he had grabbed hold of Flowey’s stem. Vines shot out of the ground to curl around his hands, his arms, his neck. For a moment they froze, locked in a deadly embrace. Then suddenly, Flowey laughed. And it wasn’t his sinister, layered laugh. “Well,” he said, loosening his grip. “I don’t suppose I have anything to worry about from a tried and true pacifist such as yourself.” Frisk’s eyes had gone red, and he had a feeling he wouldn’t win if they kept going this way. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. His vines retracted into the ground until he stood alone again, just one small flower among many.
Frisk, for his part, drew back as well, looking a bit shaken despite himself.
“I guess I was wrong, when I said you weren’t anything like him,” Flowey said ruefully. Frisk grimaced, though he looked genuinely amused for a moment. Even when Flowey was attempting to say something nice, it came out like an insult.
They went silent for a moment, trying to adjust to the new intensity in the air. And then, as Flowey knew he would, Frisk came at him again. He didn’t look Flowey in the eye this time, and there was no challenge on his face, only a slight frown while he attempted to pull him up by the roots. Flowey didn’t react except to remain solidly in his place. This went on for a bit until Frisk sat back again, huffing. “You idiot. Do you really think,” said Flowey coldly, “That you’ll be able to pull me up if I don’t want to go?”
Frisk didn’t reply, only sat there catching his breath. After several minutes his breathing steadied, but still he sat there.
“If this is going to be a battle of determination,” Flowey said after a while, “I’m afraid you’ll lose. Between the two of us, you’re the only one with a sappy soul to hold you back.” But his words sounded hollow even to himself. And Frisk made no move to respond. Flowey watched him, mildly entertained. How long would this last, he wondered? Surely only as long as Frisk’s stomach allowed. He had nothing with him to eat, and anyone nearby who could’ve offered him something had long since vacated the Underground. Eventually he would have to give up. Flowey thought about reminding him of this, but seeing his reaction to something he surely already knew would be boring. And with this thought came an idea, a mere shadow of a doubt that wormed its way into Flowey’s otherwise unoccupied thoughts. It ate at him as the hours went by and Frisk sat before him, determined, unmoving. Flowey kept watching him. After all that had happened, he still couldn’t tell them apart. Not in his present state.
When next he spoke, he surprised even himself. “Do you think…” His voice was loud after hours of silence, and Frisk’s head snapped up swiftly at the sound. Had he fallen asleep? “Do you think you could still surprise me?”
Frisk frowned, looking back down into the grass. Flowey had expected him to jump at this opportunity, to take advantage of this momentary doubt and assure Flowey that he could, if only to get him to agree to his plan. But Frisk was genuinely considering the question. And Flowey found himself waiting for the answer in something like suspense.
At last Frisk looked up, and his eyes flashed crimson again. “Did he?”
Flowey’s face fell. Then Asriel smiled.