Happy Thanksgiving, to American readers! Decided to get this up for yall before I go put myself in a food coma!
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The house was dark when I woke up.
I was confused, at first. I wasn’t in my tiny bedroom in my apartment with Catti. There was a TV on beside me, far enough away that my arm couldn’t reach, unlike my own room, and I was on a couch.
I groaned and held my head as I came to my senses. The fight. Arrest. Undyne’s house. Right.
My phone notification light was on, so I checked the messages.
“Hey punk! You were sleeping when I came back, but I wanted to tell you! It was a cat-person in a tree. Catty. Guess she said you’re her sister’s roommate. Thought you’d think that was funny!”
I snorted. I assumed it had something to do with Bratty, her neighbor. She was usually scaring her up trees.
“But anyway. Came back with some takeout. QC’s was serving breakfast still, so I got extras for you. They’re on the table.”
I checked with my phone light. Sure enough, there was a plate of pancakes, bacon, eggs, and sausage, with a fork and a napkin next to this.
How was this woman real? Literally no one had ever invited me over to their house when I was drunk, let me sleep on their couch while they were away, and then bring me food while I was sleeping!
“You can heat it up with the microwave in the kitchen. Just know it’s a little jank and sparks sometimes. Just unplug it and plug it back in and it should be okay. Anyway, my room is in the loft upstairs if you need anything! Have a good night! And please don’t try to leave until you feel better. I can give you a ride on my way to work in the morning.
I typed back a quick thank you and added, “I hope this isn’t annoying for you at all. You don’t gotta be…doing all this.” Then I sent it. Then unsent it. Then sent it again.
Fuck. Here my hungover ass was, making an ass out of myself.
But when wasn’t I?
I sighed, rubbed my eyes, and took the food to her kitchen, careful to walk quietly over her hardwood floors. I heard gentle snoring, and looked up. There were ladder-like stairs to my right, heading to a curtained room. I assumed this was the loft Undyne slept in.
As I tried to figure out how her microwave worked, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else lived in this small house. Did Undyne have a husband? No, she didn’t seem like the type. A wife? Was she gay? She seemed like she could be.
My thoughts were interrupted by the microwave sparking. I cursed–a bit too loudly–then I remembered her message.
I yanked the cord out.
The microwave sputtered, sighed, then stopped sparking.
I heard footsteps creak, and I froze. I didn’t like people sneaking up on me, and I thought Undyne was still asleep.
“I’m armed!” I called out to the hallway.
I was met with a yawn and a stretch. “I know, dumbass.”
“Did I wake you up?” I asked.
“Yeah. But it’s okay.” Undyne rubbed her eyes and looked at the microwave.
I plugged it back in.
It did nothing.
“UGH. Just lemme do it.”
I scooted out of the way, and Undyne punched it, right on top.
It came back to life. I had thirty seconds remaining on my food.
“There.” Satisfied, she stretched, then went over to her fridge.
I leaned against the counter. “I hope I’m not…being a bother. I mean, I’m not normally one to really care, but…” Ugh, I was rambling again. Why did she make me so nervous? Why was her house so warm? Sweating, I continued. “I didn’t expect you to be so nice.”
She dug out some leftovers of what looked like her own takeout, took my food out of the microwave, and slipped hers in. “Eat.”
I took a bite. QC’s was always good, but I started to feel the life come back to me, despite the throbbing in my head.
“Well,” she continued, “The way I see it, there’s a handful of things that could’ve happened. I could’ve arrested you, and you’d be in jail right now, puking with the rest of the drunks. Or, you could’ve gone home with no one but Catti to take care of you.” She put a hand on my shoulder, and I flinched, so she backed off immediately. “Sorry. Or, you could be under someone’s supervision, and maybe make a friend.”
My heart hammered in my ears. “Friend?”
“Yeah.” Her food dinged, and she gave it a test bite before taking it out. “And honestly? I’d like one, too.”
I frowned. “Please. You’ve gotta be popular.”
She emitted a sharp coughing sound, a bitter laugh. “I think I’m a bit much for this tiny town.”
“Same way as you.” Undyne suddenly seemed really fascinated with her breakfast food. “Like I said before, we’re a lot alike. People think I’m too brash and loud. This town seems to like…simple, y’know?” She took a mournful forkful of pancake.
“Then we should leave.”
“I wish it’d be that easy.” Undyne looked back up at me and gave me an apologetic smile. “I got really lucky with my job, but in a big city…”
“Yeah. Guess I’m kinda stuck here too.”
“How’ve you been managing?”
It was at that moment I realized, with horror, the first friend I was making since Kris was a cop. I couldn’t just tell her that I was selling weed and pills. And other things, when necessary.
“This and that,” I decided, giving her a halfhearted shrug.
“You’re a dealer.”
I froze. How did she know?
“I know, I know. How do I know, right?” She set her food on the counter and began to pace. “You forget that I analyze people for a living.” She smirked. “And the only difference between you and me? I didn’t get caught.”
And there it was. The criminal record, hanging over my head, keeping me from getting any job. Keeping me in the same cycle that my mother had before me, that her mother had before her, and so on. Truly, a foster family of nobodies.
“You used to…”
“And one point. I was still a kid, so it got wiped when I became of age. But believe it or not, I spent my fair share of time in juvie, too. I was…quite the wrecking ball of a kid, desperate for a way out. But when I moved out here, it wasn’t like the police force could really be picky. They overlooked my rough past and, liking my energy, trained me up. And here I am.”
We ate in silence for a bit. I had a hard time picturing Undyne as a juvenile delinquent, but then again, I guess everyone else around me grew up at some point, going off to college or having a bigger and brighter future somewhere that wasn’t here. My throat closed up.
“Y’know…I could train you, too.”
I choked on my sausage. “Train? Me?”
“Well, yeah. You’ve got a lot of insight to the criminal side of this town. You’re spunky, witty, and you’d be fun to share the road with. And…I think you really need help changing your path. I managed to be determined enough of a runaway to find my way, but…I realize some people need help.”
I chewed my bacon and didn’t say anything. My heart felt…strange. Strangled. An unusual ache I wasn’t used to.
“Why would you…help me?”
“Weren’t you listening? I already told you!” Undyne huffed. “Well, the proposal is there. Think about it tonight, okay? I can drop you off at home tomorrow or…if you wanna tag along with me, I can teach you stuff. If you’d like.”
“Oh, what the hell. Sure. I’d like to beat the shit outta bad guys. Or any guys, really.”
Undyne laughed and patted my head. “Me too, Susie. Me fucking too.” She put her plate in the sink and yawned. “Well…I figured it’d take more to convince you, but I’ll take it. I should get back to bed. See you in the morning!” With a salute, she headed back upstairs.
I finished my breakfast, almost more confused than before. As straightforward and trustworthy as Undyne seemed, I kept getting the sneaking suspicion that there was more to the story, an agenda.
But maybe that was just the trauma talking.
Either way, I’d take her friendship.
I sure could use one.