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Chara didn’t like being touched. But he found it hard to avoid what with Toriel’s motherly insistence on doing so whenever she felt the situation called for it. Like that time they came back drenched from Waterfall, having unintentionally spent the night in its rainiest region. She’d scooped them both up in a great towel, making a huge fuss about how they would catch cold and she’d been worried sick. She scrubbed Asriel’s fur until it stood up on end and Chara was laughing despite himself. That night she put them each to bed with a slice of pie and a glass of milk and pulled the covers up under his chin, giving him that trapped feeling he hated. But he endured it as best he could until she tried to remove the locket, claiming he’d choke in the middle of the night. “I won’t, I sleep on my back,” he insisted, and grasped it tightly in his fist. Something in his look seemed to unsettle her then and she drew back. Asgore stood in the doorway, watching quietly, and Asriel was staring from his own bed against the far wall. In that moment of silence they all seemed to remember he was still a stranger. And then it passed, like a fleeting cloud over the sun, and she kissed his forehead and told him she loved him and closed the door behind her.

In the tense silence that followed, Chara kicked off the covers and stared at the ceiling. Just when he thought Asriel must’ve fallen asleep, his quiet voice sounded in the darkness. “I’m glad you like it so much, Chara.”

It wasn’t the only close call. One morning while the two boys sat at breakfast, Chara heard Toriel complaining in the garden about the state of his shoes when they’d come home from the ruins the night before. “Dust! Absolutely covered in dust! What can he have been up to?” she'd said in Asgore’s general direction, but he was drinking his tea and pruning his flowers, and he never listened to anyone when he was doing that.

After that Chara made sure to wash off his shoes and clothes thoroughly in Waterfall by the statue whenever anything sticky happened. And sticky things often did happen when he wandered in places where spiders lurked. They frightened him greatly, and Chara didn’t like being frightened. He felt the giant, impassive statue understood and wouldn’t judge him while he tore them limb from limb, washing the traces away in the cold, clear water.

After a day like that, Chara would often lie down among the golden flowers of the garden, trying to forget. And Asgore would hum and ask him if he wanted some tea, and Chara always felt comfortable in his harmless, absent-minded presence.

In truth, none of them really saw him for what he was. And this both unnerved and relieved him. He wondered if they’d still treat him this way if they knew what he’d been doing. Maybe they only loved him because of the prophecy claiming he’d someday bridge the gap between humans and monsters. What a laugh that was. Humans didn’t have the capacity for harmony amongst themselves, let alone with another species. Sometimes he ranted about it to Asriel, about what he’d seen even children do to each other, about how it couldn’t compare to what the grown-ups did to you when no one was looking. Asriel would listen solemnly, neither agreeing nor second-guessing him. He seemed to understand far more than Chara admitted, yet always gave him the benefit of the doubt. Being with Asriel at once gave him comfort and shame, for he felt he deserved neither such trust nor such responsibility. And gradually, he began to resent it.

So he started doing little things, just to see if they’d notice. At first it wasn’t much, like leaving little piles of dust here and there. Then he started causing little arguments between the two adults that snowballed till they were sleeping in separate bedrooms. But they never said a word to you about these things, not even when you nearly poisoned Asgore to death with the flowers he spent so much time with, the flowers he talked about so much that you wished he’d just choke on them. The flowers you loved too. You’d just wanted to see what would happen, you said to himself over and over as you rocked back and forth, tears rolling down your cheeks while you laughed and laughed and laughed.

But no one uttered a word of blame. Even Asriel, who’d seen you do it, even Asriel claimed it was his fault as much as yours, that you both thought it would work instead of butter. And maybe that’s what gave you the idea for what you did next.

It was time you lived up to their dreams - or their nightmares - and got it over with. Some part of you thought you’d deserve it if things went awry, thought he’d deserve it for covering for you over and over, for believing you were someone you weren’t. You were tired of them always thinking the best of you, despite all evidence to the contrary, and you found yourself longing for those honest days back on the surface where everyone knew what you were, what you deserved, and gave it to you. You’d let them see what humanity was really like. And then they’d leave you alone.