* Eventual asexual romance between Charlie and Alastor.
I do something called 'One-Word One-Shots', meaning if you give me a word, I'll write a chapter about that word. Given how new Hazbin Hotel still is, most things in the story will be personal head-cannons, mixed with what I've seen in Vivziepop's videos as well as some of the live stream research I've done. But like I said, this will mostly be head-cannons.
Constructive criticism is welcome.
The New Normal
She hadn't heard from her parents since opening the Hotel. She called, and had left more messages than she could count. She knew her mom listened to her voicemails, and there had been a time where her mom occasionally called her back. However, it had been nearly a month since opening the Hotel, and not a word from either of them.
It had become horribly normal. Now she was simply leaving voicemails to her parents out of habit, not expecting a reply in return. They were more than likely busy. Their workload was normally heftier during the time around The Cleanse each year. They often supervised certain cleanup duties, observed who survived, and did interviews with local reporters and news stations to provide everyone in Hell an update.
She should've been upset that her parents seemed to just drop off the face of Hell without so much as a word. Instead, she felt only understanding, knowing how busy they must currently be. Their work didn't normally ease until a few solid weeks after The Cleanse, so she really had no grounds to be even remotely angry. In fact, she felt hopeful.
Charlie picked up her phone and dialed her mom's number, an enthusiastic smile spread over her face. "Hey, mom," she said. "I was watching the news yesterday and they advertised that you and dad would be on TV tomorrow to talk about the recent Cleanse." As she talked she paced her grand bedroom until stopping at the large stained glass window overlooking the Hotel's area of Pentagram City.
"And I was wondering…" She trailed off carefully, not wanting to sound overly eager or pushy. "Since it's about that, would you be able to talk about the Hotel? We, um…Well, we don't necessarily have any sinners checked in yet – I mean, we do have one, and he did show…sort-of progress?"
She shook her head rapidly, not wanting to get into talking about Angel's antics. It would only make her parents doubt her more. But in all honesty, they more than likely saw the turf war on the news, so... "Anyway, we have a pretty great staff here now. It's not just me and Vaggie anymore. Everyone that works here now is…"
Where to begin?
Her own girlfriend supports her, but clearly doubts her.
A porn star is getting a free place to stay.
An adorable but slightly creepy girl neurotically cleans.
A drunkard is only in it for the free alcohol that magically appears out of nowhere.
A chaotic ex-serial killer is the one who supplied the alcohol.
Oh, and said chaotic ex-serial killer became co-owner of the Hotel within a day. All for entertainment purposes.
She rubbed her forehead with her fingertips, unsure of how to continue. "Everyone that works here now…seems to be in it for the long haul." Yes, that wasn't a bad answer. "And I'm thankful to have their…support. So, could you please mention the Hotel during your interview? If only to let the public know that we're fully staffed." She sat on her bed with a sigh. "Who knows? Maybe that'd be enough of a motivation for sinners to-"
At that moment, there was a beep, and then the line disconnected, signaling that the voicemail box was probably full. Dropping her phone on the bed, she flopped backwards onto the comforter with an even heavier sigh.
Charlie knew that her parents wouldn't have picked up. She knew it would go straight to voicemail. What she did not know was how fast her confidence would dissipate.
She went into that phone message with enthusiasm and with a goal in mind. She accomplished said goal, but it ended with rapidly decreasing positivity at having to explain certain things. It's not that she didn't have faith in the Hotel and those that now worked alongside her. But explaining everyone's motivations in her head and then nearly saying them out loud drastically lowered her confidence in what she was trying to convey in her phone call.
Nevertheless, she gave a message to her parents. She hoped they got it and would relay it to the news station that would be interviewing them.
The interview, as with most royal big shots in Hell, was meant to be short and sweet so as not to waste anyone's time. Tom Trench was the one asking the professional yet cynical questions this year, as Katie Killjoy normally couldn't be bothered with royals.
"So, we've interviewed other lords of Hell this week," Tom continued on with a chuckle in his muffled voice. "They're all having a Hell of a time this year, pun intended. Tell us about how the recent Cleanse has affected you two. Have the turf wars been keeping you up night?"
With a graceful finger, the tall lady imperiously flicked some of her golden hair away from her face. "Not for a few weeks now," she answered neutrally. "Everything seems to have died down."
"There definitely were more of them this year," the equally elegant man sitting next to her added. "The angels must have left Hell thinking they did fine work this time around. Only to have given us even more of a headache than we anticipated."
The King smoothed his hand over the white sleeve of his suit, a casual gesture that almost bordered on boredom. "But…" He continued. "The clean-up has been taken care of, all demons have returned to business as usual, and some have now even claimed new territory."
"All of those destroyed souls were a loss," the Queen shrugged. "But it has opened up new opportunities for the other residents."
"So, all in all," Tom quipped. "Coulda been worse!"
"Most definitely," the King nodded.
"Speaking of worse opportunities," Tom said, gas mask stretching as if to convey a smirk. "With the Cleanse now out of the way, how do you think your daughter's Hotel is doing?"
The King quirked his head slightly. "Our daughter."
"I imagine everyone's busy with all the aftermath," Tom continued. "I know I wouldn't have the time nor an ounce of energy to even stop in. Let alone consider."
The King and Queen exchanged odd glances. Not confused, not angry, not even slightly perturbed. Just odd.
"There seems to be a miscommunication here," the Queen said slowly, as if speaking to an amusing toddler. "We don't have a daughter."
For the first time during the interview, Tom Trench stalled. He wordlessly glanced back and forth between the royal highnesses, totally unsure of how to respond to that. And also not quite sure of the state of their sanity.
"Don't look at us like that, Trench," the King frowned. "You, as well as everyone else, know that nearly all demons are sterile. And, well, with me being a fallen angel…"
When the King didn't elaborate on that, Tom's eyebrow lifted, beyond confused about everything. Not even knowing where to start, he said, "And…that complicates things?"
Instead of responding directly to that, the King made a dismissive gesture. "I say it's about time we return to our duties," he said imperiously. "Don't you think, my darling?"
"I agree," she said as she straightened herself.
Tom found himself once again glancing so quickly between them that he felt like he was having a stroke. "…What just happened here," he asked, deadpanned.
The King stood up, and stared Trench right in the eyes, daring him to ask further. Tom was a very flippant individual. He often didn't care what came out of his mouth, and he often didn't care how casual it may sound. However, despite Killjoy abusing him over seemingly idiotic things, he wasn't stupid.
So, even though the interview took a turn that he in no way could've predicted, the smirk returned to his face. Oh, the ratings they would get from just these last few minutes alone…
Clearing his throat, Tom turned his attention to the camera. "Well, folks, that was our very own Queen Lilith and King Lucifer! What a regal and insightful interview that wa-"
His words were cut short as the television went black.
The remote slipped from her grasp, her whole body going numb and slack at the same time. Her hand stayed in the air, as if still grasping a remote, one that would rewind everything.
There were no words in her throat, though her jaw twitched. What she wanted to say, she had no idea. No fucking clue. No fucking idea how to even react.
Mechanically, and smoothly, she pushed away from her bed. She opened her door and let it slam carelessly closed as she set off down the hallway. She had no destination in mind, only determined to go deeper and deeper into the recesses of the Hotel, until she found places that not even Niffty had combed over yet. She wanted to get as far away from her bedroom, her cell phone, her TV, everything as much as possible.
Vaggie, and at some point even Angel, were looking for her to let her know dinner was ready. They concluded that she must've gone out, as there was absolutely no sign of her anywhere.
If they had looked harder, they would've noticed the droplets of sorrow that were now burning tiny holes in the floor of the doorway of Charlie's bedroom. They hadn't noticed these when they went looking for her, but somebody else had.
He had been passing by her bedroom by coincidence, and was about to knock on her door to let her know about dinner when he saw the tearstains that had scorched the carpet and wood.
He didn't pursue her. The ever-present smile on his face simply shifted into an elegant blend of that and an introspective scowl. And with that, he was on his way to the kitchen.
He had cooked tonight, as he did almost every night. Most of them, Charlie especially, nearly salivated over his cooking. With that thought in mind, before serving the broth in to the bowls, he lifted the lid off the pot. He waved his hand once over it.
The steam was hot before, but the intensity grew until it engulfed the whole kitchen with its savory aroma. Practically bursting through the walls, the scent weaved its way through the ducts and vents of the Hotel.
He began humming a tune as he took hold of a ladle. One after the other, in absolutely no rush, he poured a serving into each bowl for the Hotel's residents. With a snap of his fingers the bowls in front of him disappeared to reappear in the dining room.
Save for one.
He waved his hand over this particular bowl, making it so that it would remain nice and hot until eaten. It would also continue to do the job the pot had done, creating an enticing hunger-inducing scent that wafted through the entire building.
Well, not the entire building. The scent had a destination in mind. To find whoever was going to eat out of said bowl, and persuade them to join them for dinner.
He cleaned his claw-like hands off on a rag as he continued to hum. He exited the kitchen, leaving the remaining bowl alone knowing full well that slight bit of voodoo had done its job. It was now simply a waiting game.
Despite how grandiose and alluringly haunting the Hotel was, there were plenty places that were as abysmal and normal as any other place. For example, a storage room.
The Hotel had been abandoned for many decades before Charlie found it and all but begged her parents to let her utilize it. There were plenty of empty places throughout due to lack of use, even though there were residents now.
The storage room in the west side of the Hotel was one of those places. This part of the Hotel was almost completely void of life. No rooms were being lived in, none of the studies and common areas were being maintained, and the storage rooms had nothing to store in them.
As of right now, it was perfect for Charlie.
She sat slumped in the very back. She had tucked herself in between two empty crates, and she was determined to stay there for a very long time. Determined to all but disappear. After all, she technically didn't even exist anyway.
Her nails dug sharply into her pant legs as he hugged herself impossibly tighter. She pressed her aching eyes to her knees with such force they almost went through the sockets. Even as she sobbed, even as her tears fizzled through her clothes, no sound came out of her mouth.
She had always worn her emotions on her sleeve, had always made it involuntarily obvious to others when she was distressed or other. Now? She didn't want anything to do with anyone. She didn't want company, she didn't want to be comforted, and – just like every single other demon Hell – she didn't want to be weak.
Whether she didn't want to appear weak to others or to herself, she wasn't sure. Either or, she hid herself away, silently, without disrupting anyone. She shivered at the realization of how easy it was to avoid them all like that, how easy it was to hide herself away. That's what her parents seemed to want anyway-
She put those thoughts to a halt by making an unearthly growling noise in the back of her throat, the first noise she'd made in hours. She let her head fall backwards, making an echo as it connected with a metal vent. The echo and soft breeze that trickled through the vent was hardly enough to distract her. She couldn't run away from or ignore what had just happened.
Her parents disowned her. On live TV. For everyone in Hell to see and hear. No one would come to the Hotel now.
She straightened up so fast her spine cracked. The amount of mental scolding she gave herself was downright extraordinary. That's what she was thinking about? That's what she was prioritizing?! This Hotel?!
She should be trying to contact her parents. To make amends with –
There was nothing to talk about. Nothing to make this right.
She should be contacting her parents to give them a piece of her mind like any other self-respecting demon! She should be stomping her way over to her parents' mansion and raining down Hell on them like the demon she was!
Her body only slackened, and she let her head fall back again. She stared up at the ceiling as more tears slipped. "I was never that good at being a demon anyway," she whispered to herself. She squeezed her eyes shut as another silent sob jolted her body. "I guess that's why my parents…" She trailed off with a bitter snort.
She let the tears fall, she let a couple sobs bubble up from her throat, she let her mind and body be taken over by a hopelessness and an invalidation she never thought was possible to feel. The only solace was the silence of this part of the Hotel, and the breeze from the vent.
For almost the entire duration she was there, the breeze coming in was the decaying, midnight air of the city. It didn't clear her head any, and it didn't provide adequate distraction, but it was a distraction nonetheless. Even more so when the air changed.
Instead of cool and light, it was now heavy and warm. Her stomach, which had been empty for hours now, growled stubbornly when the unmistakable scent of soup broth engulfed her. She took her arms from her legs to wrap them around her stomach, as if that would quell it.
She was missing dinnertime. Given Alastor's culinary talents, this quickly became one of her favorite times of the day. Knowing Alastor – and she's only known him for approximately two weeks now – the soup she could so clearly smell was more than likely delicious.
She refused to leave her hiding spot. She couldn't let any of them see her like this, knowing full well that they all probably watched the same news cast. She couldn't bear to face them.
She also couldn't bear to be cheered up or comforted.
Her friends provided kindness and comfort in their own…special ways.
With Angel, it was awkward silence.
With Husk, it was a bar and liquor to drink your worries.
With Niffty, it was rapid-fire well-meaning questions.
With Alastor, it was brutal honesty and a smile.
With Vaggie, it was vague conversation mixed with always-helpful advice.
She didn't want to be around any positivity, or anyone at all for that matter. All she wanted to do was wallow until it all passed. Including the aroma. Give it a bit, and that gorgeous smell would go away eventually.
Only…It didn't. It only continued to get stronger, until it practically flooded every one of her senses. It was so overwhelming that she quickly stood up and started to move away from the vent, as if that would help.
Only…It didn't. It followed her. Her stomach was practically roaring by this point.
"Okay, fine," she snapped loudly at the empty room. Crossing her arms petulantly over her chest, she exited into the hallway, her eyes squinting at the sudden light after being in the dark for so long.
She had a destination now. This time, the kitchen. Grab some soup, and then take it back to the storage room. Get in, get out. Easy enough. Her goal was to stuff her face, get rid of the annoying clawing her stomach was giving her, and hell maybe even nap against the storage crates. Sleep off the rest of this horrible goddamn day. Perhaps she should even consider swiping from Husk's stash. What must it be like to drink until you can't feel anything?
Charlie shook her head quickly. Stealing? Drinking? Never before had she ever had the urge to even think of doing either. For one horribly bitter moment, she thought about how her parents would be proud of her.
"Not like that matters now," she brokenly whispered through clenched teeth.
By this point, her feet and nose betrayed her. She had been so distracted by her own thoughts, and had unwittingly let herself follow the savory scent all the way to the common area where they usually sat and ate meals.
"There you are," a voice suddenly spoke up, making Charlie jump as the realization of where she now was hit her. Vaggie set her bowl down and jumped out of her seat to take her hand. "We were wondering where you were," she said with a grin as she pulled Charlie to sit beside her. "What happened to you?"
Charlie had to work hard to clear her throat, as it felt like it was filled with gravel. "Oh, nowhere special," she shrugged halfheartedly. "Just a walk."
Vaggie shook her head as she stared down. "No, I mean your clothes. What happened to them?"
She didn't have to look at her pants to know that she was talking about the burn marks from her tears. "L-like I said," she stammered. "Just a walk. Um…Almost ran right into two other demons duking it out. They threw some fire around and well…" She gestured vaguely at her pants as she glanced apprehensively at everyone.
They all had eyes on her, but with only mild interest. Then, most of them shrugged and they all went back to eating. Alastor was the only one who hadn't looked at her, simply keeping his eyes on the book in his hand while he took sips of broth.
"You sure that's all," Vaggie asked, taking both of her hands and looking her in the eyes. She didn't miss anything, she knew something was wrong. Very wrong.
Charlie gave her a small smile and squeezed her hands before letting them go. "That's all," she lied, and Vaggie knew this. Charlie knew that Vaggie knew this. However, she let the matter drop…For now. Charlie knew this would come up again later, even if Vaggie wasn't a hundred percent sure what was going on.
Charlie didn't think anyone knew. As she glanced around again, she once again took note that no one was hounding her with questions, no one was bringing up or mocking about the news cast. Even Niffty wasn't being curious. Everyone was too engrossed in the food and the cozy silence.
No one except her had seen what her parents had said.
A short breath, almost a laugh, escaped her. Of course no one would. Nearly every demon in Hell had no interest in the news networks, especially when it came to royals giving speeches or being involved in interviews. No one gave two shits about such formalities. The only reason why people watched Charlie sing about the Hotel was because that cannibal cooking show had been cancelled, there was nothing else to watch, and everyone wanted something to laugh at.
Oh, she knew that at least some demons probably saw the interview with her parents. And she knew that those demons were most likely laughing it up. Her friends weren't, though, and she felt like she could breath. For now at least, she could pretend it never even happened.
Exhaling as calmly as possibly, she finally said, "So…Did you guys save enough for me?"
After taking a sip, Vaggie opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by a loud, echoing snapping of fingers. In a cloud of steam, a fresh bowl of piping soup appeared on the coffee table in front of Charlie.
Angel snorted. "Dramatic much, Al."
"Yeah," Vaggie grunted, waving her hand through the area in an effort swipe away the excess steam. "Real theatrical."
"Why, thank you, Vagatha, Angel," Alastor responded jovially, making Vaggie slap a hand to her forehead. Alastor set his book aside briefly to now fully look at Charlie. "There's plenty to go around. Even for seconds!"
"Ooh, hell yeah," Angel said as he sprang to his feet with a now empty bowl. "You read my mind." With that, he took off for the kitchen.
"Hey, will you get me some more, too," Vaggie called after him, only to receive no reply in return. With an exasperated groan, she stood up. "How much you wanna bet he did hear me, but he's ignoring me?"
Charlie gave her a short chuckle. Vaggie smiled at that, but it was short lived. She frowned as she glanced at Charlie's pants again.
"Really," Charlie tried again to put her at ease. "I'm fine."
Of course, she wasn't convinced, shaking her head with a deep frown as she followed Angel to the kitchen.
"So, how is it?"
Charlie jumped at the sudden exuberant voice. Without her noticing, Alastor was now sitting right next to her, where Vaggie had been. "Um, what," she asked lamely.
"The soup," he pointed to the bowl. "Is to your liking?"
"Oh, right," she replied equally lamely. She brought the bowl to her lips, the intention to take an experimental sip. By the time she took the bowl away, it was already half empty. "Oh, my god," she hummed, grinning at him. "This is amazing!" She greedily brought the bowl back to her mouth.
"Not my best work, mind," he shrugged casually, brushing his finger along the rim of his bowl. "I do prefer stews over simple soup-"
"No, seriously, Al," she said quickly. She knew he wasn't truly being humble, that he was just making conversation, but she still felt very much compelled to compliment. "This is great!" She swallowed that last of it, disappointed that she could now see the bottom.
"Glad you enjoy it!" With another snap of his fingers, the bowl filled once more, much to her delight. He leaned back against the couch.
"Hey," Husk hollered from his side of the room, waving his empty bowl in the air. "Why don'tcha do that trick with me?"
"Or with me," Angel griped as he came back in, with a full bowl that was practically overflowing. "You telling me I had to walk all the way to the kitchen when you coulda just done that?" When he plopped down onto his seat, some of the soup dripped onto the carpet.
"Hey, watch out," Niffty suddenly snapped. "I just dry-cleaned! You need to clean that up! Oh, I'm sorry, that was loud of me!"
Angel rolled his eyes slightly. "Yeah, yeah, just keep eating, kid…Hang on, how did you even get your little hands on dry-cleaning equipment? Since when does Hell have something like that?"
Niffty only smirked and chuckled slightly at that before going back to eating. But she still eyed the now-stained carpet with malice.
"Uh, excuse me," Vaggie asked scathingly as she returned.
Alastor's smirk widened as Vaggie stared him down. She felt threatened that he was in the spot she previously was, right next to Charlie, so close he was nearly brushing against her. This only amused Alastor. It was far too easy to bait her, and far too fun.
"If you frown any further, smoke may come out of your ears," he quipped shamelessly. He stood up and pointed at her face. "What did I say about smiling, hmm?"
"Oh, just fuck off and move." She pushed past him, nearly knocking herself over in the process as she squeezed her way around the coffee table to take her place next to Charlie again.
"Vaggie," Charlie started to scold her.
"No, it's quite alright, Charlie," he assured politely. "Husk and I wanted seconds anyway, remember?"
And that was how they all spent the next hour or so, grabbing second helpings from the kitchen and riffing off each other. A normal night.
Charlie observed everyone in silence, feeling far too drained to contribute, but definitely not feeling the need to leave and shut herself away. That was good, she had to keep reminding herself. That was better. And when Angel brought out some popcorn from the kitchen and started flicking some at the others at random intervals, it even got a chuckle from her. It then got a big laugh from everyone when Husk dramatically flipped out on him.
The only point when she felt the need to leave was to go get more soup and come back. She picked up her empty bowl and made to move. She shouldn't have been surprised when another snapped resounded and the bowl filled again.
She chuckled, almost nervously, but mostly in good humor. "Please tell me you can't read minds now, Al."
"Most certainly not," he laughed. "The jumbled and needlessly overwhelming thoughts of others hardly interest me. No! Your face said it all. It was quite obvious."
She was about to remark that he wasn't even looking at her when she was about to get up, but then a cluster of popcorn hit him smack dab on the side of his face.
"Ehh, that was for the little busy body, but whatever," Angel snickered, nodding at Niffty who was practically fuming at the mess he was making.
Charlie covered her laugh with her hand, though everyone definitely heard her. Vaggie stared cautiously at Alastor, readying herself in case she needed to intervene. To her surprise, Alastor merely rolled his eyes, flicked some kernels off his shoulder, and picked up his book.
Charlie couldn't help it; She looked around at everyone for the umpteenth time. This time, it was with a calm, content air that she didn't think she would ever feel again.
Vaggie was staring silent threats at Alastor. Angel was intent on annoying everyone. Niffty was about ready to explode. Husk was picking popcorn out of a beer bottle. Alastor was politely ignoring everyone's antics while silently getting a rise out of Vaggie.
Charlie's always been social. A family person.
Her smile didn't quite reach her ears, but it was a genuine, content smile all the same.
This was an interesting family to have.
This was the new normal.