Chapter 1: Blueberry Waffles and Cinnamon Pancakes
The wind rustled through the trees with a gentle whisper, Chara No-Longer-A-Dreemuur combed their way through the forest around Mt. Ebott, straining their eyes into the dim glow of the summer evening. Crimson eyes just barely able to catch the near invisible roots and vines that would otherwise make them fall flat on their face and make their morale dip even further.
Their revival played through their head on repeat, the barrier broken once again by Asriel's power, that two-faced brat Frisk running through the happy ending scenario one more time, but before Chara could take the reins and punish them for their bullshit something else happened.
*Save Image As...
The words flashed through their head, they saw Frisk embrace Asriel again, in the very place Frisk and Chara had fallen down so long ago. And Asriel...
*“I think I was projecting a little”
*“Chara wasn't the greatest person.”
They'd known that, they'd never pretended to not know how terrible a person they were. Heck, they'd told Asriel multiple times that they weren't a good person, and probably a bad influence on him. He'd always laughed it off. Every. Single. Time.
Did he forget? Why was he acting like that was such a revelation? Was being Flowey really so traumatizing that he'd just latched onto a fake memory?
*“Frisk you're more like the friend I always wanted.”
If they'd still had blood at the time it would have ran cold. Their spectral hands had balled into fists and even though they knew Frisk was the only one who could hear them they wanted to shout at Asriel anyway. Frisk, the human that had saved and killed every person they met in the Underground. The biggest sociopath Chara had ever met.
Frisk saved everyone twice before where they were now; the first time being their second time in the underground, in the very first iteration they'd underestimated their own strength and killed Toriel, and then later gave in to Flowey's baiting and killed him too. They'd been in tears when Sans called them, they swore to Chara as they reset that it would never happen again. That this time they'd free everyone. They'd shown such remorse, they'd held up their pinky, they'd promised. And Chara believed them.
Like a naive baby, Chara believed them.
But then they kept going. They solved every problem, hugged every Monster, dated Papyrus, dined with Sans, Matchmade Undyne and Alphys, the first time had to be an accident. That was the only thing that had made sense at the time. That's what they told themselves. They hated humans, but Frisk was quickly becoming the newest darling of the underground, and Chara was bound to them. There had to be a reason why. They'd freed the Monsters and Chara rejoiced, they couldn't save Asriel and they mourned. Dad... Asgore suggested they take a walk around before they leave, but Frisk was too excited to see the sun again.
Chara thought that that was the end. LOVE thrummed under their reformed skin as they stumbled toward the outline of a road they'd walked down oh-so long ago. They still remembered the faces of the people that drove them to Mt. Ebott. The names, the actions, the scratchy lace of a choker tied around their neck.
“If you're cuter he won't hit you as hard”
They remembered when Frisk changed. Chara followed them through surface life, watching as the chipper grin of the ambassador of Monsters began to fade, there's a special breed of cruelty that ran through the blood of politicians and government men, and Frisk had to face it all head on.
And then they did the one thing Chara had hoped would never happen again.
And things went downhill from there
They didn't do anything too... horrible at first, they just picked the less nice things to say, and in the end refused to go back to matchmake Alphys and Undyne. Their LV was still at 1, and Chara wondered why they decided to go back at all.
And then they did it again
Chara hadn't known
They'll reset again, they're just confused
Why did they come back?
Did they come back just to do this? Was the world at peace really so boring?
Maybe this was why Chara was really brought back? They could feel the power swelling in what was left of their soul. They clenched their spectral fist and saw Frisk copy their motion.
Just because they understood didn't mean they had to like it. Honestly they just wanted it to be over with.
Just make it as painless for them as possible.
But they were so upset, so frustrated that they didn't know their own strength.
Chara didn't understand.
Asriel thought Frisk was them, and only now was he right. He'd begged for his life but they knew what Frisk would do. And if someone had to kill Asriel, they didn't want it to be the person who had killed his parents. So they took the choice away from Frisk. Truth be told they didn't erase the world. There were still Monsters in there after all, and why kill even more people when they'd already managed to get away from Frisk?
All they did was take their own revenge. And Chara's LV was high enough to overwrite Frisk's determination. When they killed them, they stayed dead, Frisk's soul persisted, but they couldn't access the buttons anymore. They couldn't load, they couldn't save, they couldn't reset.
The few that remained in the underground wouldn't be tormented by them any longer.
Finally Chara reached the road. Still upkept and neat; there was even a new sign beside them.
Mt. Ebott City, three miles. The closest city to the mountain, when Chara lived there it was called Warden, but they supposed time had left its mark and with the Monsters forgotten humans decided to rename their city something less... ominous. Chara wondered how much it had changed since they'd died. They didn't know how much further they could walk, if they'd collapse before they reached city limits, or get caught by someone, or die again.
Maybe it was taking Frisk's soul that had lead to their revival. They'd tried to come back as though they hadn't done anything wrong, Chara had watched them feel around the empty void that once held their options and claim themselves above consequences, of course Chara wanted to punish them. Frisk had been angry that Chara wouldn't let them forget what they'd done, so when they reset Chara could only barely contain their vitriol. Watching Frisk walk around as though they deserved this, as though they'd earned every hug, kind word, and mercy that they were given. They did this for a couple of times, Chara only being able to fully enact their vengeance once. Chara had taken over after they'd freed the Monsters, and when Frisk reset again Chara took a weird sort of pleasure in their frustration.
Flowey seemed to recognize some things in between resets, well okay, everyone did remember a little, but other than Chara themselves, Flowey seemed to remember the most. They'd thought that that meant he'd remember, that he'd be on their side. That Asriel would know this time that they'd never be Chara. Chara wasn't a good person; they had a temper, they were a pessimist, they always took things onto themselves and acted like they knew everything. But they cared about the Dreemuurs, they cared about Monsters, they would never even think of doing what both they and Flowey had watched. They were no Frisk.
Chara didn't understand why Frisk decided to go back to acting so nice. Maybe they decided they didn't like being incorporeal and that their wrath wasn't worth it? Why would someone go back to saving everyone after they'd killed everyone anyway? In all honesty that had been their biggest indicator of Frisk's psychopathy, the indication that they could treat everyone like their own personal playthings. Because they could reset whenever they so pleased, they could kill everyone and nobody would be any less grateful when they reset to have some fun again.
It was disgusting.
But in some small way, Chara thought they saw why Frisk did what they did; to finally save Asriel. Flowey didn't remember everything, but he did remember some. That made him a wild card. Frisk wanted him indebted so that he wouldn't squeal. That and it was the only ending they hadn't gotten yet.
A world where Asriel was saved too. A companion in a peace ending that they hadn't had before.
What a fucking creep. They'd almost been excited to take over Frisk's body when they'd started on that. An ending where they took over and they could tell Asriel everything, they'd tell Toriel, they'd tell everyone of the human that had emotionally manipulated them, killed and saved them all just because they could. Who wanted to be the Savior of prophecy so badly, that they made both interpretations come true. Save the world, destroy it, save it again.
They had been so excited to give Frisk what was coming to them that they hadn't paid much attention to their own state of being. When Frisk promised Asriel they had a plan Chara was ready, they were so ready they had barely noticed their vision beginning to go a bit blurry.
They wanted it so badly, they wanted justice. But it never came.
When their gaze sharpened again their chest hurt, which was odd because they didn't feel pain until they'd possessed Frisk's body, and they didn't remember that happening yet. And there was also a sort of numbness when they possessed the little psycho, like their fingers had all fallen asleep, and sure enough when Chara tapped their fingers together they could feel it easily. And then their world had gone dark.
Their legs ached, when they moved their arms they shook. But they kept moving. They knew they couldn't stop until they entered town or they collapsed, they would not give up. If Frisk gave them anything it was a high enough LV to make them determined beyond all else.
When they'd woken up again they were alone. They were confused, but in a way excited, Frisk had done something to save Asriel, and whatever it was, their Soul was so linked to Frisk's that their consciousness had piggybacked off of it, and the pieces of their soul were brought back. Even better.
As they sat there in the buttercups, pastel green sweater with its yellow stripe, they ran over what they would say and do in their head. Striding their way across the underground, for hopefully the final time.
But there is a power in being the first to tell a story. No matter how many lies are in the story, the power of being first makes people assume that whoever told it was telling the truth. The real truth didn't work every time, and no matter if Chara was completely factual, the one who actually followed up what they said with what they did... Frisk was first. Frisk was just... more likable.
And they... did not want them anymore. The Dreemuurs that is. Asriel had looked like he was about to run toward them, but Frisk had grabbed his sleeve and shaken their head. And it was like that had been that.
Asriel didn't approach them, but he said that they could 'make it up' that if it wasn't too late for him it wouldn't be too late for them. Chara had figured it out right then, what had happened. But in a way they hadn't wanted to believe it. Toriel had approached them, but she was talking about much the same. Her heavy white paws on their shoulders. Chara felt like such a damn idiot.
They hadn't known at that point that their LOVE had carried over from the last time Frisk loaded them up, but Sans' pupils had vanished and his eternal smile turned brittle when he'd met their gaze. And then they'd understood.
While, okay, Chara would admit they didn't exactly take the knowledge that Frisk had most likely blamed them for everything with grace, they felt pretty damn justified in charging the little psycho and demanding they come clean about being a piece of shit and lying to everyone.
Though no matter their intentions, they never actually made it all the way to Frisk to grab them by the collar and demand the truth from them again. Undyne turned their soul green, Toriel grabbed Frisk and moved them behind her, Asriel shrunk away into his dad and... well that settled it.
A decision had been made. And they decided Chara wasn't wanted anymore. There wasn't even a point in saying what had really happened because they wouldn't believe them. Not if Chara's truth badmouthed the newest Darling of all Monsters. They had determination flowing from every pore, but they could take a hint.
They played calm until Undyne's green magic ran out, held their hands up in surrender and insisted they weren't going to fight anymore (Ignored Frisk's skeptical snort, the bastard...) and began to descend the cliff face. Any and all calls for them to wait falling on deaf ears.
What would be the point? Frisk had told their lies and everyone believed it. Everyone agreed. Even if it didn't sound quite so in character for Toriel and Asgore, neither would Asriel being Flowey, and he no doubt explained that to them too. In the end it was just a battle of word; theirs against Frisk's. Frisk got there first, and Chara had all the LOVE Frisk had earned foisted onto them. One glance at their LV 20 against Frisk's LV 1 was all the proof they would need.
Of course no one would believe them, no matter how right they were. It wasn't a lack of Determination that let them run, just an acceptance of the inevitable; a manipulator manipulates, and a scapegoat gets blamed. They could either accept that, and try to move on, or they could be the Demon forever.
At least if Frisk went off like that again, Sans was brutal enough to buy some time for Chara to inevitably make their way wherever they were.
But something in the way that Asriel and Frisk were talking to each other made Chara feel like that that wasn't going to happen. That Frisk's end goal hadn't been to kill boredom and get a new ending, but in fact to have a 'companion'.
And then there they were.
Ebott City loomed over them. What had once been a small village set to keep an eye on the Monsters hidden away had turned into a city of hustle and bustle. It wasn't exactly enormous, but it was certainly bigger, and certainly busier.
And finally, finally, Chara found a place to rest. A small metal bench, resting beside a bus stop. Chara shook out their pockets, and thankfully, with the stats Frisk lumped them with also came the G that they'd looted. They didn't know how much the price of bus fare had gone up, but if Chara wanted to disappear and find somewhere nice to curl up and wait for final death, it was the best option. So they pulled out a single G and turned it over in their hands, hoping if they were fast enough the driver wouldn't look too hard at the coins.
Maybe they really were too stubborn for their own good, because as they tried to calm their aching body on the uncomfortable bench, some part of them still refused to believe it. Why would their family believe Frisk over them? Why were they the one that deserved skepticism? Frisk might have gotten there first, but didn't they know Chara better? Was Asriel being driven slowly insane from a lack of the ability to feel love really so similar to their behavior? Chara would have never hurt a Monster in a million years. And just because they were willing to kill a few humans to set their people free didn't mean they were some kind of homicidal Basket Case. They were told they were the future, that they were the angel that would set everyone free. And now they were the demon.
Sure maybe they should have stuck around on that cliff and attempted a more coherent explanation, but it was pretty obvious to them what had happened. Frisk didn't just turn their family against them, they'd replaced Chara. And now that there was a 'Future of all Monsters 2.0' why would anyone want the outdated model? Chara didn't want to return to that, if it came to be that Monsters needed them again they'd return, yes. And they could stay places they didn't want to if they needed to, but if they weren't wanted... well, that was that. Who stayed in a place where they weren't wanted? Assholes is who. They didn't want to be back in the human world, but if it was the only place that would accept them back...
Well then they'd just have to fucking deal.
Their stomach growled, and their throat felt like it was closing up with how parched they were, and Chara could only hope to themselves that Sydney Park was still there. They'd slept in the tunnel slide for a week before they'd made their climb up the mountain, so they could just sleep there again for a bit until they came up with a plan. Hopefully that slide or something like it was still there, hopefully nothing weird had been installed there like security cameras or something.
Hopefully the park still had a water fountain.
And then the bus pulled up to the stop.
V Line Park Circuit
Chara heaved a small sigh and dumped a handful of G into the toll box. Thankfully the Driver just heard the clatter of coins and immediately opened up the trap door, the G falling through without inspection.
There had been a few things that Chara had concluded about humans after they'd stayed with the Dreemuurs, and taking public transit reminded them of every single one.
1) Humans were always happy to be willfully blind to possible inconveniences.
No one even bothered to look at Chara funny, a ten year old alone on a bus was nothing too strange anymore.
2) Humans showed intolerance and aggression toward anything they didn't understand.
Chara overheard a conversation held between the two people who sat in front of them about how whoever the country was at war with now deserved being bombed for being so 'uncivilized'
3) Humans were gross.
The smell explained enough. Then again, Chara likely reeked of dirt, sweat and exhaustion, so they were no better.
All the same Chara was pretty damn happy when they driver called out 'next stop: Sydney park!' and far too eagerly pulled the stop request chord.
Finally, finally, it was time to get off this godforsaken bus with these godforsaken humans. Finally the familiar colorful sign covered in wooden carved flowers caught their eye.
And thank any god who was listening, Sydney park looked the same. It had changed a bit, sure. The dim lampposts in the dark had been replaced with these LED sidewalk things, two foursquare courts and a basketball court were placed where the two volleyball courts had been, but the baseball diamond was still there. The swingset was made of different material, but it was still there, and best of all, the playground had the exact same layout. Though the dark green plastic had been replaced to look slick and chrome.
And the water fountain was still there, from which Chara greedily slurped up until the pain in their throat subsided and their stomach was tricked into thinking itself full.
The covered slide was perfect to block out most wind, leaving it pretty warm most nights, so Chara struggled out of their sweater and crumpled it into a ball to use for a makeshift pillow. It was uncomfortable, but it was warm, just as they remembered.
Of course, after they'd established a position that was relatively comfortable their thoughts began to drift. Because anything else would be too easy.
They weren't as sure as they thought they were... about how they felt about all of this.
They were angry yes, but mostly at Frisk. They were betrayed, but mostly at Asriel. Hurt, but only really at Toriel and Asgore. And for the others? Well... they didn't know. Disappointed maybe. But they weren't like Chara's supposed family, they didn't know Chara before all of this and they only knew Frisk when the kid was nice. Dissappointed but unsurprised.
And maybe a little scared, too; where could they go from here?
They had three options maximum right now.
Option #1) Re-find the Dreemuurs with a clear head and try again to plead their case (unlikely, undesirable)
Option #2) Be found by a police officer or other authority figure, be labeled a 'Jane Doe' (bleh) when their birth name comes up as a missing persons case from decades ago and be at the mercy of the foster care system for seven years (too many humans, gross)
Option #3) keep hiding and hope no one finds them, survive until eventually disappearing on the streets (nihilistic)
Though there was a possible option #4 where they sleep for a bit and make a decision in the morning.
And frankly, after coming back to life only to lose their family and home in a day #4 sounded like the best option. Chara was tired.
They had a weird dream. Something that they weren't sure if they had fully made up or if it was some sort of repressed memory. They'd been shadowing Frisk again, but there were these strange red strings wrapped around Frisk's wrists, controlling them like a puppet.
Who knew, maybe it was their subconscious wanting to make sense of Frisk, absolve them of crimes under the implication that they were being controlled by someone else. And sure, if that were true Chara would have been way less hostile toward the kid, but that wasn't possible. Chara had been bound to Frisk. If someone else was calling the shots Chara would have known.
Why did no one come after them? Did they want someone to find them? Did the others want Chara to return of their own volition or did they collectively decide Chara wasn't worth it?
They didn't know.
“Come now Sherman, just because we're away from New York on Business doesn't mean we should be allowed to slack off on our exercise.”
Chara woke to an unknown voice, not an uncommon occurrence in homelessness, and with a practiced ease, moved to hide from whomever it was. Careful to be silent, they started to uncrumple their sweater and slipped it over their head. The soft green yarn of the sweater whicking away the cool morning air.
“I know Mister Peabody just...” A yawn “'s still pretty early.”
Chara planted their hands on the roof the slide and shimmied just a bit higher up into the tunnel. Just to be sure they wouldn't be found. They pressed the rubber of their shoes into the slide to anchor them. Just where these people were in relation to the slide, Chara couldn't see. The second one, 'Sherman' or whatever sounded like a child and Chara knew that people taking care of little kids were way more likely to call the cops or CPS or whatever on visibly homeless children with no parents to speak of.
Re: Option #2, gross. And Chara really didn't want someone else making the call for them.
They did their best to keep their breathing shallow.
Breathe through your mouth; your nose whistles.
“An early morning leads to a merry afternoon!” the grownup chirped.
“Can I climb up one of the slides first then? I'm still super tired.”
“Very well, but be quick! I really do think you'll enjoy the morning yoga plan I've plotted out and it would be a shame to cut it short!”
Chara's stomach jolted for a moment, there was two ways this could go down. Either the kid picks a different slide and Chara could stay hidden, or they'd pick Chara's slide, see a strange kid hiding in there and likely freak the hell out.
But thankfully, it seemed luck, for once, was on their side and Chara only felt the light tremble of this kid beginning to climb up the slide opposite of Chara's. They supposed it made sense, most people rather climb up open slides anyway, and grownups had a weird distaste for tunnel slides so if Chara just stayed put and stayed silent they'd never be found.
“Okay, coming back down!” They should never have let themselves relax. They should have been ready to bolt, or at least let go of the edges of the slide to let themselves fall at the littlest shake. Chara had only had enough time to turn their head to see the look of shock settle on the kid's face before he hit them and they both went down. Chara yelped and the kid responded in kind as they both barreled down the last half of the slide, shooting out onto the woodchips in a tangle of limbs and confusion.
Chara blinked blearily at the bright sky, the rolling clouds bright and the world spinning for a time as the other kid's weight leaned heavily onto them. Chara heard the kid breathing heavily at their shoulder, no doubt catching his breath as well, distantly they wondered how odd this must look to his guardian.
Now, normally, when a kid gets a mouthful of woodchips from a slide going wrong, the grownups will be there immediately, to make sure there was no blood or in general just that their kid was alright; but Chara had quite a few seconds to let their gaze stop spinning but nothing was quite happening. They were sure that it was just shock, while yes, a parents initiative is usually immediate, Chara decided not to judge the grownup too much, after all, whoever it was had expected their—near startlingly—red haired child to tumble out of the slide alone, still a little sleepy probably, but more awake than before.
Not to hear some yelps of pain and their kid to come tumbling out with a stranger they'd pinned into the woodchips.
Chara could give anyone moment of shock with those kinds of circumstances.
And sure enough—
“Sherman!” the boy bolted up from his place atop Chara at his name being called. His face was doing a startlingly good impression of his hair as he stared at them in shock. Chara heard the sound of feet kicking up the woodchips and they took then to sit up and get an eyeful of the grownup they'd have to run from to try and figure out how they could proceed from here.
That was when things went from odd to surreal.
Spending as long a time in the realm of Monsters as they had, Chara had seen many a strange creature, Fur Beasts of Snowdin, Living Fires in Hotland, and dozens of others. Monsters that resembled fish, lizards, rabbits, dogs, and bears, and many many stranger ones. But that was the thing, that was underground. Chara had never seen a Monster above ground, or rather, didn't know that there were Monster Clans that had avoided getting sealed away. And that was the only thing they could think to describe the creature rapidly approaching them.
He was a dog, a snowy white hue to his fur that made Chara think of the Dogs Greater and Lesser. He didn't wear full clothes like most of the dogs of Snowdin did, just a pair of thick rimmed glasses and a little red bow tie, but the resemblance was uncanny.
He looked about as surprised as they felt.
But thankfully, he was a little better at putting together his thoughts.
“Are either of you hurt?” Chara saw the kid shake his head in their peripheral vision.
“I'm okay Mister Peabody.” the Dog Monster turned to them and for a moment they almost didn't know what to say. Should they ask how his clan had been able to save themselves from exile, or ask if he was even a Monster at all? But after maybe a second too long of mulling it over they decided to just answer the question.
“I'm fine” they shrugged. “Just surprised.”
The Dog nodded to himself in assurance and Chara began to stumble to their feet. Sherman mirrored them and Chara realized that the both of them were staring. Waiting no doubt, for an explanation as to why they had been hiding in a slide.
Apparently they'd taken just a moment too long in getting their thoughts into questions of their own, because the dog—Mister Peabody—spoke again.
“If you don't mind me asking Miss, why were your hiding yourself in a slide at such an early hour?”
“I'm not a 'Miss'” Chara responded almost reflexively. At the lightly surprised expressions they were given Chara decided to double down, continuing before the dog had a chance to correct himself. “I'm not a girl or a boy, okay? It's not a big deal, don't make it a big deal.” Their eyes darted to the ground, but thankfully it seemed that a talking dog really was better than most humans because he responded in an easy tone all the same.
“Of course, my apologies young one, but in that case, what is your name, so we can avoid making the mistake again.”
“Back to my original question then, Chara...” He continued easily, as though silently calling out Chara's attempt at derailing—and wile sure while they hadn't been intending to derail that had been a bonus to their reflexive correction.
“Yeah uh...” they folded their arms and looked off to the side. “Well, I was playing—”
“Please don't waste a perfectly good lie on this.” the dog continued. Chara cringed.
Sure the dog already suspected, but Chara didn't get why he still wanted to hear it. Maybe to know that Chara was willing to admit their state to people? How sadistic.
They flushed a bit. “I was sleeping there, okay?”
Sherman's eyes widened, but Mister Peabody just hummed to himself.
“I see.” He responded, hand lifting up over his mouth. “And how long have you been sleeping here?”
Chara's arms tightened “Just last night.” He didn't ask how many times total Chara had slept in the park after all. And if the way his eyes flickered up at them meant what they thought it meant he'd noticed the unintentional loophole they'd slipped through as well.
“Well, as we were the ones who interrupted your sleep, please allow me to make it up to you and join us for breakfast.”
Chara knew that was just a convenient excuse, talking dog or human when a problem comes into their life they have to solve it. For humans it was never really out of compassion, but more out of superstitious belief of good deeds or to be seen as good. Monsters acted almost exclusively out of compassion, people like Toriel and Papyrus were proof enough of that. But if a Monster grew up in human society... would kindness be performative for him as well? Was this an opportunity to grill Chara on their pathetic life until the cops arrived from whenever he'd called them? Did he just want to help? Was Chara doing it again by treating a Monster like a human without deserving it?
They had just decided to play the defensive and insist that they were fine when their stomach gave protest at their decision and groaned loudly, like something out of a bad pulp fiction novel, and groaned loudly, forcing them to remember how long it had been since they'd eaten.
Years actually, if you counted how long they were a ghost it had been years. Actually, Chara hadn't eaten any real food since before they got sick, hadn't they? They didn't want to risk diluting the effects of the buttercups when they'd eaten them and had turned down dinner that day.
They swallowed hard and the bitter taste of Buttercups pricked the back of their tongue.
Mister Peabody grinned at Chara, and the boy looked like he was trying valiantly not to chuckle at Chara's noisy stomach.
They could probably out hide a bunch of adults. Especially if the Police force was no doubt focused on the Monsters that no doubt had made their way to Ebott City while Chara had slept.
So Chara stuffed their hands into their pockets and huffed out a quick 'Fine' and pointedly ignored the self pleased grin the dog and human shared with each other.
The dog—Mister Peabody, and the redhead—Sherman, weren't native to Ebott City, that much was obvious. And Chara was several decades out from up to date. So they were all about equally clueless when it came to a good place to have breakfast.
Chara's legs ached from their trek down the mountain the previous night but both dog and child seemed perfectly content in walking, So they bit their cheek and willed their knees to keep from buckling underneath them.
“Chara what would you like to eat on this fine morning?” Mister Peabody glanced at them and their gut turned at the reminder of how long it had been since they had eaten human food. They'd spent so long eating foods that went straight to their Soul, they didn't even remember what the last human food they'd eaten was.
“Uh...” they thought for a moment. “Waffles?” They liked Monster Waffles. Toriel always made them with cinnamon, and they preferred cinnamon. Hopefully human waffles didn't taste too much different. Mister Peabody nodded to himself and eventually the three of them stopped before one off those 'retro on purpose' looking diners.
Fera's written in neon above the door.
The hostess was a lady with a beehive and Chara wondered if it had come back into style or if she was just that committed to the aesthetic. She smiled, a little confused, and for a moment Chara wondered if she was about to tell them that they didn't allow 'pets' or something, but Mister Peabody stepped forward and asked for a table for three, and she escorted them to a table by the window without comment.
Chara dispassionately gazed down at the menu, wondering idly just when the dog would politely excuse himself to call CPS. If they got waffles would they even be able to enjoy them? Sherman rocked back and forth in his seat, eyes supposedly glued to the menu; however when Chara would look up and across the table to the both of them they could see his gaze darting back down. If Mister Peabody was staring, he was at the very least better at concealing it. Chara couldn't catch him at all, whenever they glanced over he was scanning the menu, Chatting idly to fill the silence. Talking at them (and Chara was sure it was for them as Sherman likely knew about it already) about how he had certain dietary restrictions due to his canine biology.
Chara wasn't an idiot, they knew what he was doing. Toriel used to do the same when she tried to glean Chara's story out of them. Tell the child a little about yourself, ramble to take them off guard, and inevitably get the kid comfortable enough so that when you want to ask questions they'd be more likely to answer.
So Chara blocked it out and focused on the difference between Cinnabon Waffles with Cream Cheese sauce versus Strawberry sauce. Or Maybe the chocolate chip waffles with the blueberries? Oooh... They hadn't had blueberries in so long! And Chocolate was always a win.
“—But I suppose that might just be the Foster Father inside me speaking. I'm sure your parents must be worried sick as well!” Honestly Chara had no idea what he was talking about that lead him to that.
They'd stopped paying attention around the 'have to be careful with fruit cups because grapes are the devil' area. All the same it took them a solid few moments of thinking about just what he'd said before they sighed.
Chara shrugged. “Wouldn't know,” they supplied simply. What would be better? Being an Orphan or a Runaway?
They thought back on Frisk's smug blank face and decided on Orphan.
“They were perfectly content in giving me up, I doubt they'd be overly concerned.”
Well that quieted him down.
They didn't bother looking up, and opted instead to tap on the cinnabon waffles and the chocolate blueberry waffles with their two fingers, debating back and forth between if they wanted cinnamon or chocolate more.
“I see... well then whoever is currently looking out for your wellbeing must be concerned.” The easy tone to Mister Peabody's voice hadn't faltered, and glancing up they confirmed in fact that he was rather good at schooling his doggy face into a polite neutrality.
Thankfully the waitress took then to appear. She took their orders, French toast and a fruitcup with no grapes for Peabody, Cinnabon pancakes for Sherman, and Chara settled on the chocolate blueberry waffles. Unfortunately that also meant Chara's menu and only place to hide was gone.
“I haven't been with a family for years.” At least that was the truth, they chose then to stare out the window, better than nothing.
“Nobody?” Sherman leaned over into Chara's periphery and they bit back a sigh, so much for him being a little too confused to talk much.
“Nope.” They answered.
Peabody paused for a moment, chewing this new information over before responding,“Earlier you told me that last night was your first sleeping in the slide, but how long have you been on your own?”
Chara made a wiggly hand gesture. “Long enough.”
“Aren't you like.. My age?” Sherman asked, Chara wasn't even directly looking at him and they could practically see the stars appearing in his eyes. “Are you like a crazy survivalist kid? Livin' off of berries from the mountain and squirrels and stuff?”
Chara couldn't help the small snort that came out of them at the idea.
“Nah, for awhile I was a incorporeal entity bound to a sociopath that can go back in time and has a penchant for murdering people.” They smiled wryly, turning to look back at the two of them, the truth was oftentimes stranger than fiction, and if they introduced their reality as a joke then they wouldn't be pried at for the truth.
In truth Chara had expected a laugh out of Sherman, maybe even a wry grin out of Peabody. But if anything their truth was treated as just that for a moment. Boy and dog stared at them with the duel shocked expressions they'd expected out of either of them earlier. They pinched their lips to the side as the two of them seemed to come to a conclusion at the same time.
Albeit not the same conclusion.
“While it's... very impressive, that you've kept your sense of humor about your circumstances you may want to stick to the truth, Chara.”
“Was it scary?”
The Waitress took then to deliver their drinks to the table. Chara smiled at the waitress, thankful for a new item to hide themselves behind, and immediately unwrapped the straw to plop into their grapefruit juice.
“It was more sad than scary.” They responded, After all, in for a penny in for a pound. “I watched them solve everyone's issues, and then reset the world to kill them instead. I was basically a ghost and I couldn't do anything until the very end.”
“What did you do?” Sherman took a sip from his cup, orange juice rocking back and forth with his quick movements.
Chara looked down at their cup, the orange-ish pink liquid sloshing around as they spun their straw.
“Sherman be rational,” Peabody started, “Clearly they're simply pulling your leg. Why would someone duplicate temporal displacement technology simply to commit horrendous acts?”
“Well it wasn't easy.” Chara took a sip of their juice, the semi bitter taste making their tongue tingle a bit, and finally chasing away the cloying taste of buttercups in the back of their throat. “I don't get it either really, people kept talking about Magic and Determination and stuff.” they waved a hand.
Thankfully now the both of them looked skeptical. There was no more convincing lie than an outlandish truth after all.
“Magic?” Sherman echoed them. “You really are messing with us aren't ya?” He jutted his lip out in what Chara could only call a pout and folded his arms. “I thought we were friends now, Chara!”
Chara shrugged. “Well have you guys heard about the Monsters in Mt. Ebott? They use Magic. Actually they're the ones I was staying with.” Peabody actually let out a small chuckle at that, like things had only now crossed the line into being so bizarre it was funny.
Chara took another sip of their juice, lips pinching as they fought the urge to reflexively grin. It was all well and good in their head to have the truth not be taken seriously so that they could keep their identity a secret once the Monsters became public... in what, a few hours? It was something else entirely to watch someone—and probably a descendant of a Dog Monster Clan too no less!—laugh at the very idea of the Monsters and Magic that made their story complete.
“Believe what you want, it's the truth.” They stated simply, before taking another sip of the juice. Now they chose to prop their chin up with their elbow and hand, eyes drifting back to the window. “I mean I could tell you some sob story that's way more in line with what you'd expect but that's only the first....” they pantomimed counting on their fingers “third or so, of the story.”
“Perhaps you should all the same.” Peabody answered easily, Sherman was still pouting in their periphery.
“Not exactly a child friendly story.”
“You're like, my age!” Sherman reiterated.
“And yet...” Chara let the smile slip out then, willing it to take on a crooked, wolfish appearance. They wondered briefly how the heck Flowey was able to contort his face so easily before their thoughts began to drift to Asriel and his parents and their smile turned into their standard 'grin through the pain' expression.
Asriel always called it their 'creepy' face; how their eyes would widen, their lips would stretch enough for only a little of their teeth to slip through, according to him it was just off putting. They didn't really get it. “That's just the way it is.” They summarized.
Sherman's pout dropped, and even Peabody looked a touch concerned. Maybe Asriel wasn't as far off about their reflexive grin being creepy than they thought. Chara adjusted their hand to cover their mouth, eyes still wide but darting down to their juice. The grin was still in place, but if you can't see it then it's less creepy right?
“Magic it is then.” Peabody finally stated after a moment's pause. “If that's what it needs to be.” They focused on him after he spoke and the strange, steady look Peabody was watching Chara with was... well it was uncomfortable.
Their pinched grin didn't fade, if anything it grew in reflection of their bafflement. 'what it needs to be'? The hell kind of answer was that?
“You still don't believe me.” They wagered a guess. Sherman was still looking at them with only thinly concealed unease, and Peabody 'casually' took a light sip from his own drink.
“I believe that you believe in it.”
Why did grownups always talk like that?
“Wait, Mister Peabody I'm confused.” Sherman turned to raise a brow at his companion and Chara could already feel the corners of their mouth relax at no longer being put in the spotlight.
“I'll explain later Sherman.” Peabody waved his confusion off and Chara glanced into the diner, willing their waitress to come up with their food faster. No dice.
Their elbow was starting to ache so they switched arms to rest their chin on.
“Anyway, why does all that even matter, if you wanna go call CPS or the police or like... I dunno, a psych ward to come pick me up you can just do it.” They noticed the both of them flinch at the mention of calling the authorities. “I'm not gonna run, I just wanna know if I'll be able to finish my waffles.”
There was a silence then, and Chara fixed their gaze as far into the diner as they could see, already silently preparing themselves for the inevitability of a half finished Chocolate Chip Blueberry waffle left to cool as they were dragged away.
They were lying of course, when they said they wouldn't run, but they had to treat the whole matter very blasé if they wanted to keep their cool.
They'd done it before while staring down Frisk and they could do it again.
“Chara... I can assure you I have no intentions of contacting the authorities.” Peabody finally said, from the corner of their eye Chara could see him press a paw down insistently as near Chara's space on the table as his arms could reach without it being uncomfortable.
Chara turned to face the two of them then, the question of why on the tip of their tongue.
But then, of course, the waitress returned, three plates all smelling of Breakfast in her arms. Because they never come when you want them to, but always arrive when you need to be the one to talk. Anything else would be too easy.
Of course the smell of blueberries and chocolate did drown out the aggravation for a moment, Chara's stomach gave a pained moan and they could feel their mouth begin to water as the plate was placed before them. Damn those waffles smelled good.
They dug in basically the second they could. Throwing maybe not enough syrup on their waffles simply out of urge to be done faster so they could eat.
It was only after they took the first bite that they were intimately reminded at just how strange human food felt after they got used to Monster food. Monster food practically evaporated after it was bitten down onto, going directly into a person's soul. It almost felt, for a second, that Chara would have to re-teach their body to chew and swallow, but their tongue, thankfully, obeyed their will.
They had to go slower than they wanted, but they could still do it.
But the taste was absolutely heavenly on their tongue and they still hummed in delight as the warm chocolate of the chips and the thick sweet syrup chased away any lingering bitterness from the back of their throat.
They popped a couple of blueberries into their mouth and honestly, for a moment they were surprised at the taste and texture. They really had forgotten what berries tasted like didn't they?
They put off the rest of their waffle in order to scarf down the rest of the blueberries, pointedly ignoring the amused chuckle Peabody sent their way as he nibbled on his own breakfast materials.
They remembered the taste of chocolate, they liked chocolate a lot but they remembered it, and they didn't want to ever forget what Blueberries tasted like again. Produce didn't exactly grow easily in the mountain, and Blueberries needed a lot of sunlight.
They closed their eyes and took a deep breath, letting the particular flavor set in before they dug back into their waffles. The sugary taste of the syrup and the chocolate almost cloying in comparison to the fresh taste of the blueberries.
They'd barely begun to dig back in when their thought process was broken up by Sherman making a distressed sort of humming noise.
“Is there something the matter, Sherman?”
Chara took another sip of their juice just barely glancing up to get a peek at the two of them. Sherman's fork was dangling from his mouth, looking unsure if he should love or hate what he'd just taken his first bites into.
“This is just... way more cinnamon then I expected. Kinda tastes like glue ya know?”
Chara's brow furrowed, their gaze back on their waffle.
“Well I suppose that's what you deserve for picking a plate you already knew would be full to the brim with sugar.”
Sherman laughed at Peabody's response.
“Yeah but like, they shoulda been smaller! These are huge!”
“We can trade.” Chara spoke before they could even think too hard about it. “He can't eat chocolate” Chara nodded in Mister Peabody's direction “But can you?”
Sherman's expression morphed into surprise, He glanced down at Chara's Waffles, with what looked like suspicion.
“But you really wanted waffles.”
“I like pancakes too.” They looked down at their own plate. “But I already ate all the blueberries.”
Even they weren't quite sure why they offered. But they lifted their plate to hand off to Sherman as he pushed the mostly uneaten pancakes in their direction and they still felt a little satisfaction in it.
Sherman was a human, and humans were the worst, but he was raised by a talking dog so Chara guessed he was okay.
He was right, there was enough cinnamon to make it taste like glue.
They just poured more syrup on top and watched the thin swirls as the cream cheese sauce mixed with the maple syrup in some unholy monstrosity of sweetness.
It was more palatable at least. Though they could feel both dog and boy's eyes on them now. They cut another wedge of pancake and looked up at the two of them, trying their best to school their face into careful neutrality.
Of course granted they were ten it probably didn't work.
Sherman had already demolished a solid amount of the remaining waffle, And he was smiling at them again. Their apparent 'betrayal' over their backstory gone and forgotten entirely.
Peabody however was looking at them with an expression they couldn't quite put a word to, but they could at least place.
It reminded them of their first few memories of Toriel, hazy with concussion and dizzy as she'd told them they could stay in the castle as long as they needed to.
It reminded them of Asgore when they'd asked what the two of them wanted Chara to do to make themselves useful.
It made Chara uncomfortable so they turned their eyes back to their newly acquired pancakes instead.
And for the next while it was just that, Chara determinedly keeping their eyes on their steadily dwindling pancakes, trying to think ahead on what their next step should be if Peabody really wasn't going to call Child Services on them.
“Turn off the Jukebox! Hey Fera, History's bein' made!”
What broke the strange silence wasn't actually either side of their little stand-off, but the shouting of a patron at the counter in the Diner, when Chara turned to face the man—simple reflex to identify a threat, an annoyingly human trait—their eye was drawn to the television the man was watching in the corner of the diner.
It had been turned onto some news channel that Chara couldn't place, a blonde woman with fake looking cheekbones spoke somberly, 'breaking news' in big bold text over her head. While Chara couldn't quite read the subtitles from their angle it didn't take a long time before a paunchy elderly woman—Fera herself more likely than not—turned up the Volume.
“-lead by a large goat creature who claims to be their king, and of all things, a small child suspected to be missing persons case, ten year old Frisk Stevenson. These so-called 'Monsters' claim that they only wish for peace and to live in harmony among us, but the validity of that statement remains to be seen. And while currently their movements are being restricted to the outskirts of the Mountain and nearby lake until further notice, citizens are instructed to remain calm and not engage. It seems as though the world has gotten just a bit stranger than we thought.”
Chara's grip on their fork tightened. The poorly cut metal dug into their skin and they could feel their face growing cold as the color no doubt drained from it.
Their grin returned, their wicked, creepy, evil grin curved onto their cheeks as their eyes began to sting. Their stomach rolled in sudden nausea and for a moment the whole world got far too bright, far too loud, and just simply, far too much.
Because they knew this would happen.
They knew one day they'd have to take a peek at a newspaper or a newsfeed and see it.
But seeing Asriel on one of Asgore's shoulders, and Frisk on the other, looking for all the world that they belonged there, that they deserved the place of honor on the shoulder of the King of Monsters...
That they deserved to hold Asriel's hand like how they did, and that they deserved to smile so carefree....
That it was just desserts that Asriel looked happy too. That Asgore and Toriel were only a mote less enthusiastic, something that no doubt was simply worry for the future and not worry for their former child...
Chara's hand hurt. Their knuckles must have been turning white with how tightly they'd been gripping their fork, but they couldn't let it go, their body wouldn't relax couldn't relax.
“...So Magic you said?” Peabody's voice drifted over them like a thick fog. Chara heard it, and could parse out the words to create meaning, but they couldn't respond, they couldn't look away. The news had taken a break to advertise some shoe but Chara was frozen in place.
The image wouldn't leave their head. It was just repeating, over and over and over.
And a horrible, terrible humor.
“They still decided to be the Ambassador didn't they? The little prick was the Ambassador last time, and that was why they went back to kill everyone in the first place. They've learned nothing. They don't care about the Dreemuurs, they don't care about Monsters, they were just bored.” They were able to turn their body towards the two finally.
Chara's grin hurt. Peabody had his hand on Sherman's shoulder, as though ready to pull him back if Chara became dangerous. And honestly? They felt a little dangerous. They could feel the LV pulsing under their skin. If they wanted to right now they could hurl the fork in their grip and embed it in one of their skulls without even giving the other time to react.
And it was the certainty that they would be able to pull it off that made them break their creed.
Crying was for babies.
They knew that.
But they always were a bit of a hypocrite.
“It's hilarious isn't it? They saved an entire race of people, killed everyone, and then saved them again just because they were bored. And they have the gall the fucking nerve to call me the demon!”
Maybe they'd had a little too much excitement that day, but they could feel people looking at them beyond the two before them.
Were they shouting? They couldn't tell but they must have been making some sort of scene. Their breath was hitching, they felt their voice creak as they got dangerously close to sobbing, and a stream of reflexive giggles slipped from their mouth, trying in vain to cover up their torment by Laughing it off.
They probably sounded even more crazy, didn't they?
“It's fucking hilarious.” They felt the energy drain out of them then, releasing the fork in their grip and letting it clatter heavily against the table.
Their gaze darted back down to what was left of their pancakes. Tears stung the corners of their eyes, it had literally been years since they last cried and they weren't sure if it felt cathartic or shameful. Their breaths were patchy and uneven, threatening hyperventilation if they didn't let themselves sob. They bit those noisy, weak sounds things back though, they were already being a complete dip by crying in front of strangers after having a goddamn meltdown in a public space. They couldn't completely break down.
They scrubbed fitfully at their eyes, their soft sweater a soothing texture against their face.
There was some rustling noise from across the table. Chara couldn't make out any particular noises over the thrum of their heart in their ears.
But then they felt their booth creak a little as someone crawled into the space between Chara and the window.
Head darting to the side, ready to shout and swear and hit and do everything in their power to be left alone to their pathetic blubbering, they honestly didn't know what they expected.
They only got a quick glance at Sherman, biting his lower lip—and showing off a rather impressive overbite while he was at it—and staring at them oddly. They began to scowl, about to snarl out that they weren't a goddamn baby, but they couldn't find their voice in time. He was just faster than them.
Sherman wrapped his bony arms around Chara's equally scrawny shoulders and pulled them into what seemed to be as tight of a hug as he could manage. Chara grit their teeth and struggled against him for a moment, wiggling their shoulders and trying halfheartedly to shake free.
“Stop it.” their voice came out weaker than they expected. “Knock it off I'm not a damn toddler.”
“Ya gotta stop swearing, you're gonna grow mushrooms on your tongue.” He responded from his place, resting his head on Chara's shoulder.
Their hands were still shaking, their breath still hiccuping with sobs, but the confusion over such a phrase startled them out of their hysteria. They finally wrenched themselves from Sherman's arms and scrubbed at their eyes.
“What are you going on about?”
“That's what Señora Kahlo said about swearing. When kids swear they grow mushrooms on their tongues.” Sherman's face was still serious, but his lips were pinched in that way where you were trying to keep yourself from cracking up.
Chara felt their own face relax. The remaining tightness from their pained smile finally fading.
“Like the painter?”
They hadn't seen much art before they'd climbed the mountain, but they recognized the name, Toriel had a book about her paintings that Chara had paged through once on a whim.
They winced almost as quickly as the memory sprung forth, their face tightening again, ready to contort into a defensive grin. But now that they were... just a hair calmer, they placed their sleeve over their mouth instead, biting down on the soft fabric.
The taste of old sweat and dirt smeared the sugary aftertaste of the pancakes.
They yanked their sleeve away and spluttered, turning their head away from Sherman as to not accidentally spit on him, and scrubbed their tongue with the back of their hand.
But their hand tasted like dirt too, just with more salt and less sweat.
Stubborn to the end Chara just turned back around in their seat and cut the remaining sliver on pancake in half and aggressively took a bite.
The tension, was thankfully broken. While they still didn't have the guts to look around at the other diner patrons in the bubble of their little table, the danger had passed. Chara took a few deep breaths through their nose as they chewed, and they could feel their eyes beginning to dry.
Sherman was covering his own mouth with his hand from the corner of Chara's eye, and now he was the one who was trying not to laugh.
“Yeah, your sweater's really gross smelling.” he finally choked out.
“Makes sense,” they mumbled after swallowing. “I was buried in it.” They plucked at the collar and winced when they felt the grainy residue from their once beloved Golden flowers' seed sprouts all over the area.
“Perhaps, we can be of some assistance.” Peabody took then to speak up again. Chara wasn't sure if it was because he was convinced Chara wasn't a threat, or perhaps because whatever this 'help' was was his plan all along.
“You already helped.” Chara pushed the near empty plate forward a little to emphasize.
“I'd hardly call a single breakfast proper assistance for a child who is... I assume, planning to live on the streets.”
“I thought you said you weren't gonna call CPS on me.” They tried to not make it sound like an accusation, but it came out like it anyway, goddamn.
“And I still have no plans to, and if your story holds water it seems like it wouldn't do much good.”
“It really wouldn't, I've been legally considered dead by now, more likely than not.”
“Exactly. But please understand Chara, you're not...” he seemed to struggle to say it for a moment. “A ghost.. anymore. You don't just have hunger and injury to worry about, exhaustion can go past sleep, and none of that matters if you're beginning your journey filthy and freezing.
“We're going to be in town for the next few days, and I insist that you let the two of us assist you in preparing yourself for the Odyssey ahead of you; whatever that turns out to be.”
Chapter 2: Chinese leftovers and Spinach salad
Chara finally gets a fucking bath the poor kid
Chara's sweater feels so much nicer now that it's been through the washer.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
To tell the truth, not including the Mettaton's attempt at simulating human culture, Chara had never actually been in a hotel before. Especially not when they were still living in Warden, so it was hard to not be even a little intimidated by the tall building looming over the three of them. Sherman and Peabody had no problems with it—which was to be expected since apparently they were staying here. It was just a little too big to see without bending their back and looking straight up, which was way too dizzying for their particular sense of balance.
And the inside of the place was just... wow... It wasn't one of those fancy immaculate hotels that you see on TV—all polished marble and velvet couches—but it was still spotless and decorated and even though Chara had at one point literally lived with a King and Queen, was far too fancy to feel comfortable in.
They tugged self consciously on their sleeves, rubbing the grimy fabric between their fingers as they silently trailed behind their... captors? Benefactors? It had been pretty obvious that the help that had been offered to them wasn't optional, but it's not like they were being kidnapped or something.
Peabody and Sherman moved with ease among the rich humans, Chara wondered why it was so easy for them. Obviously they were just used to it sure, but why was it so easy for them but not for Chara? They were just doing their best not to leave a trail of dirt behind themselves as they were led to the nearby elevator. And also doing their best to avoid the pointed looks of disgust that were being shot in their direction. Beleaguered maids dreading cleaning up the floors, other hotel patrons who were wondering why two other guests had brought in such a filthy child; humans judging without caring to know the full story.
Chara bit the inside of their cheek and folded their arms tightly as the elevator doors shut.
They may as well have some of their own questions answered then.
“So how did you figure out human language? You didn't think Monsters were real until the report came in, so you're not a Monster, but the Dog Clan are the only dogs who can talk that I can think of.” And even then only a couple of the dogs in the Dog Clan would talk.
“Hm?” Peabody looked back at them, and for a moment Chara was worried that they'd insulted him somehow, but he smiled slightly at their curiosity and tilted his head to the side.
“Well, I was always inclined toward curiosity and investigation, it was a challenge at first due to the fact that I had no teachers, but I was a tenacious pup.”
“Cool,” That wasn't really an answer, but like, it was whatever. It hardly mattered anyway, they'd just be here for a couple of hours to—no doubt—just do some general hygiene stuff to ease Peabody's 'parent senses' or whatever. They at least didn't have to go to the bathroom yet, granted they hadn't had any food that passed through their system for decades.
Ugh... human food was so gross.
So what would that entail anyway? Maybe bathing since they were still pretty filthy, but that would be a moot point if they went back into filthy clothes. Would they be asked upon to have their clothes thrown into the wash? What was 'helping' in this strange dog's book?
Before they could voice any more questions the elevator came to rest on the top floor. Chara gulped as the two of them strode into the hallway. For a moment they were tempted to hit the 'close door' button and run while they still had the chance.
But now that they were fully aware of the filth covering their body—the dirt, sweat, long dried blood, and left over shells of flower seeds completely littering their body—they really didn't want to
So they stepped out and numbly followed the two of them through clunky, winding hallways, until they reached a particular door.
Chara gripped their sleeves a little harder when the door opened. It was exactly what they expected. All fancy décor and a perfectly cleaned set of rooms—as in plural rooms! Who had more than one room and a bathroom in a hotel room?!—and their legs stiffened up beneath them.
They couldn't do this.
They couldn't intrude like this on others.
They weren't someone people wanted.
Their birth family didn't want them, the Dreemuurs were more than happy to replace them, They shouldn't drag another group of people into this just because they felt bad for them.
“Come on Chara! You look like a dust bunny in the doorway!” Sherman chirped, already flopped onto the large couch in the living area. “How long have you been in the Mountain? What kinda cartoons do you think you missed?”
“Now Sherman, best not to overwhelm them; they probably need some time to adjust before you throw them headfirst into your stories. Besides, they probably want nothing more than to wash up right now.” Peabody strode into the hotel suite with purpose, but still looked far more at ease than anything Chara could muster, even on their best day.
They grit their teeth and, with only a little reluctance, passed the threshold.
“Yeah, a bath would be good.” They'd catch up on all the cartoons they'd missed later, but now that they were aware of how dirty and sweaty and gross they were it was hard to not think about.
“Perhaps a shower would benefit you a touch more so.” Peabody looked them up and down, brows furrowed and Chara couldn't help but fidget a bit self consciously. “After all, after a certain point in a bath you'd just be sitting in your own dirty water.”
Oooohhh good point.
“Yeah that might be better.”
Peabody grinned and nodded to them. He waved in a 'follow me' type way and Chara was led quickly to the (frankly insultingly large) bathroom.
“The unused towels are right there on the bar adjacent to the sink, and Sherman!” He called toward the door.
“They can borrow my Pjs!” Sherman shouted back.
“I'll have Sherman set his pajamas out beside the door. Put your clothes in the hamper right there and we'll see what can be done to salvage them.”
This was already making them uncomfortable. All this planning in relation to them and what will be done... it didn't feel right. These people owed them nothing. They weren't family, they didn't know eachother, Peabody wasn't even a Monster!
Why where they just....
They felt something press itself against their shoulder, and realized, belatedly, it was Peabody's paw.
“I know it may not sound like much coming from a relative stranger, but please do let yourself be taken care of for even a short time, Chara. You're far too young to be expected to go through what you've claimed to on your own.”
They darted their gaze over to the shower, an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomach. At least they didn't feel like they were gonna puke or something, it didn't help but it was better than nothing.
The Shower was all glass and tile, weird. Not even a novelty curtain or anything. Like something out of one of those catalogues she would always stare at wistfully before bemoaning her wasted life.
Bemoaning how Chara had ruined everything.
“Uh... Yeah...” Their lips curled upward, not as wickedly as their stress smile, but Peabody looked surprisingly concerned when they looked back at him. He retracted his paw and gave them that strange, steady look again before turning and heading for the door.
“I trust you know how to navigate the knobs, so the hotel soaps are yours for use!”
The door shut behind him with a click, and Chara let their grin drop. They took a tentative glance at themselves in the mirror and winced when they noted the long stripe of dirt across their nose, the smudges of plant matter along the edges of their sweater, and the ruffled, greasy look to their hair.
They hoped the hotel soap was enough to get rid of that.
It felt weird, putting their clothes in a strange hamper, in a strange bathroom, everything familiar for them long ago and far away.
They hesitated to remove their locket. The golden chain an easy weight, muscle memory and a comforting chill. When they glanced at themselves in the mirror, the golden heart hanging over their collarbone, it was almost nothing had changed.
That Toriel, Asgore, and Asriel were waiting on the other side of the door; Asriel flicking through channels on the TV, amazed at more to watch than Mettaton's various shows, Toriel hemming and hawwing over the tiny kitchenette and wondering how she was supposed to cook with these conditions, and Asgore standing on the balcony, hands on the railing and just letting the outside world wash over him.
And Chara was getting cleaned up because their revival was less clean than Asriel's had been.
But it wasn't.
Maybe in a different part of Ebott City that was happening anyway, but it wasn't Chara that would be washing up with the Dreemuurs on the other side of the door.
It would be that...
Their hand balled into a fist at the thought. Were they so insignificant to the Dreemuurs that they were so quick to replace them? They didn't exactly do this for attention, but the fact that no one had gone after them, that they were now entirely reliant on the kindness of strangers...
It still hurt.
They took a deep breath, and before they could talk themselves out of it, removed the locket and rested it on the sink.
Their legs still hurt from all the walking recently, so they sat in the shower, using the removable head to direct the water. They had to use up all the shampoo and conditioner in the tiny hotel bottles, and three fourths of the little soap bar, but eventually the water started running clean again and their skin had turned a flushed pink.
Finally, hair dried just barely past the point of dripping and looking not unlike a drowned rat, they wrapped their body in a towel long enough to go around them three times and wide enough to go down to their shins when held under their armpits.
About that time there was a short knock to the door.
“Chara!” It was Sherman.
“Mister Peabody had to leave for a business meeting, but I've got stuff for ya to wear.”
“Okay.” They opened the door, and sure enough Sherman was standing there with a small lump of clothes in his arms. The formerly mentioned pajamas they were sure.
“Thanks.” They hoped at least this time their smile looked sincere. Though it wasn't like Sherman saw it. His cheeks were doing another particularly valiant impression of his hair and he was very studiously staring at the ceiling.
Chara remembered just a beat too late that while Asriel wouldn't care if they were wandering the house wrapped up in a towel, another human might find the matter different.
“No problem!” His voice was maybe too brittle, so Chara spared him a bit of embarrassment and closed the door.
If these were the type of pajamas Sherman wore normally Chara was deeply envious of the funds he had behind him because these things were so warm and fluffy just to the touch they didn't actually know if they could stomach putting them on.
But after a moment of thought they slid on the absurdly soft shirt with superheroes they didn't recognize on, and the equally soft pajama pants covered in cartoon sound effects.
They glanced at themselves in the mirror quickly and noted that they looked a little less like a drowned rat, but even more that they didn't belong here.
Chara only hesitated for a moment before taking the locket back. They didn't put it back around their neck though. They weren't sure how they felt about returning it there, so they opted to just wrap it around their wrist a couple of times.
Sherman was back in the main room when Chara exited, he was cross legged on the overstuffed couch and while his cheeks were still a bit pink, the embarrassment from before was nowhere to be found as he waved them over to him.
“Hey! How long have you been under the mountain? Did you get to see the Voyagers?”
Chara didn't know who they were and they told Sherman as such. He gasped like it was a great affront and scooted to the side, patting the spot beside him for Chara to sit.
Lacking anything better to do Chara obliged.
“Okay, so they're like the Avengers, but they're also kinda like the Incredibles and the Pilgrims of the Journey to the West, and they started out more as a criticism of superhero oversaturation but they got way less parody and way more pastiche around season—“
“What's his game?”
“Huh?” He seemed genuinely surprised.
“Peabody, what's he playing at? Does he just take in random street kids into his own damn place of living and let them stay alone with his kid on a regular basis? Am I just a special case? Did he only decide to do this stuff because of the Monsters?”
He looked honestly baffled for a moment, but before he could speak—probably to deny that he knew—Chara cut him off.
“And don't say that you don't know because you're a kid or whatever. You're my age; We're more observant than people give us credit for. You've been watching this whole thing, and you've said sweet FA about it beyond reactions. If anyone knows what he's playing at it's you.”
Sherman's brow furrowed, his lips pinched into a thin line before he hit the pause button on what Chara could only assume was a DVD of some movie they didn't know.
“You're pretty observant too.” He said quietly, eyes darting down to the coffee table before the both of them.
“It's what happens.”
“What do you mean?”
Sherman shot them a 'duh' sort of look before elaborating.
“Mister Peabody's a scientist. He's all about Cause and Effect and finding the answers and stuff. You basically told him magic is real, and, like, ghosts, and time travel without a time machine. And then the real world immediately slapped him in the face and said you were telling the truth.
“It's like that uh... that movie about the world being a computer...” He looked like he was struggling to remember the name and Chara wished they could help.
“Probably after my time.”
“Yeah probably.” He hummed, thinking for a moment before rephrasing. “It's like... there's science, and science is real and stuff, it can be tested, it can be proven, and magic doesn't have a place in science. And all the stuff you told us about is like, everything that doesn't have a place in science. But Monsters use magic. And Monsters are real, which means Magic is real. You're the only person who can claim the ghosts and time travel without a time machine or something, so he wants to find out what's the truth and if it can be tested or if he can only take you for your word.”
“So he wants me to stick around for... academic purposes?”
“Maybe. Mister Peabody does a lot of stuff that confuses me so I might be like, super wrong.”
Well, that was a lot to think on.
“Anyway, you wanna try out the Voyagers? Like, every TV branch is going nuts about the Monsters, and you probably don't wanna be reminded of all that stuff right?”
Chara pulled their knees up to their chest, wrapping their arms around them and heading the light jostle of the locket bounce on their wrist.
It wasn't long after Peabody and Sherman had taken them in that they sent Chara away again. Peabody was true to his word on simply wanting to help Chara, and when they were waved off from the needlessly fancy hotel it was with a big warm parka and padded pants strapped to the bottom of a camping backpack full of food that won't go bad, some soap and shampoo for when they found a source of water, and a fluffy sleeping bag strapped to the top. It had cost quite a bit, and it made Chara nervous to accept, but eventually they gave in and now they were on their way.
They vanished into the tree line with a wave goodbye to the kind strangers they'd known for just a little bit, and set off back toward the mountain. The monsters had all cleared out by now, as it had been about a week. There likely weren't any left beyond a scant few Moldsmal whom didn't know any better.
They didn't have anywhere to go, and after all the CORE was self sustaining at this point; all they'd have to do is make a little slide for the ice conveyor belt and they'd be good on power for the next while.
Until it broke at least; but by then, hopefully the monsters will have run off somewhere far away. Asriel was always asking them if they'd seen the sea way back when, so it wouldn't be out there to say they'd go for somewhere along the coast.
While last time the pace was grueling—the desperation to get far away the only thing fueling them—now the walk was quick, it felt as though they'd only crossed a few trees before they'd reached the base of the mountain.
They took a deep breath and adjusted the straps on their backpack before they began to climb.
Chara had only barely gotten off the ground level of the cliffside before they tripped. Thankfully they'd fallen forward so they didn't fall down the mountain, but when they sat up to dust themselves off they realized that what had tripped them was a knot of flower roots encompassing their foot.
“Dammit.” Well that sucked, how were they supposed to climb back to the entrance of the mountain with their leg stuck to the ground?
“Language.” Before Chara could even get their knife out to cut themselves loose they heard a voice. A very familiar voice.
They turned to try and face Toriel, and the second they made eye contact with her the colors faded from their immediate vicinity.
Chara's Soul glew red as the BATTLE screen lit up before them.
[TORIEL blocks the way!]
What was happening?
“Why are you here?”
Toriel hesitated for a moment before responding. Her voice didn't shake but Chara saw their fist trembling.
“You've changed Chara. You have hurt far too many people. And though the evidence has been erased, I trust my child. ”
And then the fire was upon them.
Chara startled awake. They weren't in pain or panic, but their heart was thumping loudly in their chest.
In their defense, the slide had never exactly been the most comfortable place, even back before it was made from that weird chrome-plastic material. So Chara didn't feel too pathetic about falling asleep within a single episode of Voyagers. Sure they had slept through the whole night, but they'd also been wound like a spring, ready to wake up and run, so it hadn't been entirely as restful as the bout of adrenaline and paranoia had made them feel.
At least the dream that they'd been subject to was something that felt... obvious. It was nothing that they hadn't expected to haunt them eventually.
When they woke up again they were alone on the couch, but rustling from the kitchenette to their left implied Sherman was rummaging around in the cabinets somewhere they couldn't see.
That was good, it game them time to ruminate.
Their benefactors—they still weren't sure just what they'd personally categorize the human and dog as, but until someone tried to full out keep them from leaving they'd use the term—were keeping them around for academic purposes. Which... you know, if Chara was a hyper intelligent dog—and not a dog Monster—who had just had a pretty big pillar of what they understood of the world knocked down, they probably would want to do the same thing.
And well, at least they could trust the concept of academic study. It was simple, but reasonable. When people said they were doing something good just to do it, or because they 'deserve it' or whatever, that was what had them skeptical, but if they were here because a scientist wanted answers? That, that they could understand.
It made sense, scientists want answers and Chara was Peabody's only lead, so of course he'd keep them around.
And Sherman's kindness was just due to the fact that they were both children. Children could be both the cruelest and kindest of people, and Sherman was put under the very interesting position of being confronted with a fellow child whom had never seen any modern cartoons.
To Peabody they were questions and answers, to Sherman they were entertainment. It was easy to play off of. Sure, it wasn't the kindest thing to be taken in for, but it was straightforward. There was no compassion and kindness to concern themselves with. They weren't expected to feel anything beyond in reaction to whatever show they were being shown.
They weren't expected to feel indebted so long as they fulfilled their half of the deal, and they weren't expected to get attached.
Now that they knew what Peabody wanted from them, and that he did indeed want something from them, they didn't have to worry about dragging anyone down.
This wasn't like the Dreemuurs, they didn't just take Chara in to be kind, no hope for a whole species for them to shatter. No family unit for them to intrude on.
Well, it was a family unit, but Chara was to be no more than an observer as they answered questions and watched cartoons.
Now that that was settled in their mind their thoughts began to wander back towards their dream.
…Toriel wouldn't do that.
No matter if they believed that brat was telling the truth or not, Toriel wasn't the kind of person who would do that.
She'd only go after Chara if Chara tried to hurt her Precious children.
There was a time when Chara was considered her child.
Chara would never dream of hurting Asriel; Frisk was a possibility but they had the feeling that they wouldn't get the option to do that until the inevitable happens and Frisk gets bored again.
The only one whom they maybe had a chance at actually talking to, and hopefully telling the truth to would be Asgore. Frisk never spent much time with him, and Toriel probably had been making sure that, cameras off, that would continue.
They understood why Toriel was mad at him, but like, she just ran? She wasn't much better than he was.
She ran from her problems, she didn't fix them. And now Chara knew that.
She was going to probably be the one raising Frisk, so it was going to be a lost cause in actually talking to her, telling her the truth and hope it's heard.
But Asgore... maybe they could work with Asgore. He kept the sweater after all that time, maybe he still cared about Chara beyond the idea of them.
Maybe if they lived in town for a bit, and kept a low profile, they could keep tabs on where the Monsters were inevitably spreading and tail Asgore until they could finally get somewhere alone with him.
And then what?
Explain that the supposed Savior of all Monsters—whom would never have even gotten through to Asriel in the first place without Chara—was in fact the true demon here, and not them? That they only have the LV to prove violence from their time being forcibly bound to Frisk?
If Asgore listened—and Chara had no doubt he would since that's the kind of thing he always did—would he believe them?
He might believe that Chara wasn't inherently a bad person, there were six former humans that could attest that he'd done some pretty bad stuff too, but he wasn't inherently bad.
But to believe that Chara was just along for the ride and was foisted with all the blame... That might be a stretch. Even for him.
“Hey! You're up!” Sherman chose then to interrupt their thoughts with his chirpy voice. Chara couldn't quite admit to flinching, but they could admit to being startled when they turned their head and saw him standing right there with a pot and a weird looking whisk in hand “Do you like Hot chocolate? We got a bunch of those instant packets for free and Mister Peabody can't have 'em.”
For a second Chara had no idea what to say and found themselves just staring at Sherman, brows knitted together and struggling to disengage the 'brooding' part of their brain so they could answer.
“Isn't it summer?” They almost wanted to smack themselves; Wow did they sound dumb, yes it was summer, Clearly it was summer! they could tell by the weather the previous night and the heat of the sun now. It was barely ten in the goddamn morning, and they could feel the heat of the star bearing down. “Why would you want hot chocolate?”
Sherman hummed, eyes closed and looking for all intents and purposes like Chara had asked him some sort of difficult trivia question instead of what they actually had asked him.
“Well yeah...” He hummed. “It is summer, but that's like saying you can't like ice cream in the winter.” Chara had never seen someone smile quite that wide without hiding away some sort of inner turmoil.
They narrowed their eyes and huffed. Well, at least they were right about Sherman being just a weird kid.
“I mean, I guess... But--” before they could finish their thought he was off again, heading for the stove and turning on the heat. “Aren't you a little young to be working that thing?”
“Yeah, but how hard can it be? I've seen Mister Peabody make so much stuff with the stovetop, and he's not exactly bigger than me.” He poured some milk he'd already taken out into the pot and began to scrape the whisk around the bottom of the pan. “You gotta keep stirring because milk burns super easy.”
Other than the faint sound of metal scraping metal, a silence settled over the two of them, Sherman laser focused on his current task and Chara unsure of how to proceed.
“Hey, should it be leaving skin on the sides?” Sherman's voice piped up just as Chara had begun to stew in their own thoughts again. They flinched at the sudden interruption, but they were at least quick to respond.
Too bad they had no idea what he was talking about.
“Uh... Milk has skin?” They stood then, striding over to the kitchen alcove and peering into the pot.
“Apparently!” Apparently indeed, a thin layer of milk clung to the sides of the smooth pot, refusing to come down unless directly scraped back into the liquid.
“Maybe you have it too hot?” they suggested. Sherman huffed and fiddled with the dial for the stovetop and after a moment pinched his lips to the side in frustration.
“Well that means we add the powder now then!”
Chara was having some pretty uncomfortable memories right now, but granted only the two of them were eating, and people didn't exactly keel over from burned milk, they pointedly ignored the echoes of Asriel's crying in the back of their ears and ripped open the two powder packets for Sherman to dump into the thickening milk.
The milk turned a light brown as the chocolate powder mixed in, little specks of concentrated powder refusing to break up until coming into direct contact with Sherman's whisk.
“What was it like?”
Chara startled, eyes jumping from the pot to Sherman. He was still looking determinedly into the milky concoction, but after a moment he glanced up at met their eye.
“You know...” He looked back at the pot “Being raised by monsters.”
Chara's jaw tightened. They knew this was the price. Just because Peabody was the one who wanted information out of them it didn't mean he'd be the only one asking questions. Sherman was probably curious too, or perhaps he was looking for a story.
They knew this was the price.
But it was one thing to state what happened to them at the end of their life than it was to talk about the good times.
What could they start with? Asriel finding them? Should they introduce Sherman to their old family one at a time? Who would they start with?
“Asgore was... a pretty good dad. He didn't really know how to handle the baggage I came with, but he did his best.” they pushed back their sleeve and began to scratch at the inside of their wrist. The knotted ugly scars were acting up again, and they were...unbearably itchy when they did. “He was really affectionate, always hugging you and letting you hang off his shoulders. He likes to wear this flower print shirt under his king robes so little monsters don't get intimidated by him.”
A small smile crept onto their face, and even Chara was unsure about if it was real or not. “I fidget a lot, so I took up knitting when I was down there, and I made him a sweater. I don't know if he left it in the Underground or not, but he kept it after I died.”
“Asgore was the big goat man on TV right?”
“Okay I think this is the best it's gonna get. Can you grab some mugs from that cabinet?” he gestured behind the two of them and Chara moved to do as bid, there were only about four mugs in said cabinet, two black and two white. So naturally Chara selected one of each.
Carefully the liquid was poured into either cup, though the word 'liquid' should probably be used a little loosely, because while the choclately milky substance did pour into either cup without issue, it was far thicker than what one would expect or want out of hot chocolate. Chara wrinkled their nose but grabbed the black mug when offered.
At least Sherman was looking equally concerned about the concoction the two of them were holding—but all the same the two of them clinked their mugs together, Chara held their breath, and took a swig.
And nearly gagged. They didn't know that milk could taste burnt, but it did. All Ashy and almost sour and overpowered by the assault of cocoa and sugar that was just... the worst. All combining into a horrible amalgamation(heh) of flavors, none pleasant on their own and together a voltron of disgusting.
They looked up and Sherman had a similarly grossed out response, his face pinched up in disgust and as one they both turned to the sink and spat out what they held in their mouths.
After the both of them took long drinks from the sink and washed out their mugs from all the offending mix of horrors, did Chara speak again.
“Well, that went better than the last time I tried to cook.”
Sherman shot them a look over the top of the fridge door as he searched for something more substantial to destroy the aftertaste of that horrible thing.
“That was like 'Invading Russia in the Winter' bad, how have you had worse?”
“Well I nearly killed the King of all Monsters last time, so I'd say this is an upgrade.”
Sherman snorted, and though Chara couldn't see his face anymore, they hoped that at least had entertained him a bit. That Chara could at least fulfill half of their side of the agreement was at least a little comforting.
“Wow! That must have been pretty bad.”
“To be fair we thought we could replace butter in the recipe with Buttercups, if we'd made it right the pie would have been pretty passable.”
Sherman closed the refrigerator door then, a small carton of what looked like leftovers in his hands. “Who messes up butter with buttercups?”
“A couple of dumb eight year olds that's who.” The microwave he put the leftovers in looked so... weird. It was like a silver... pod thing... and he didn't even need to press a keypad to put the time in, he just drew the numbers out on the screen and the countdown started.
“Well, Mister Peabody's a really good cook, if you wanted he could teach you better than I ever could.”
When the timer beeped and the leftovers were pulled out, they smelled like... startlingly good. Microwaved leftovers barely ever smelled good, but these smelled almost like they were fresh again, and Chara could feel their mouth water as the scent of sweet and sour chicken began to fill the air, diluting the gross flavor of the botched hot chocolate.
“I know we just ate but that was really gross.” He stuck two forks in the serving container and gestured for Chara to follow him.
Only when they were at the tiny dining table did he place the leftovers between them and stab a big hunk of chicken to immediately stuff into his mouth. Sherman hummed in releif as the chicken no doubt chased away the gross flavor in his mouth.
So Chara wasted no time in doing the same, selecting a fairly sized piece of chicken for themselves and taking a tentative bite.
They couldn't stop the hum of delight as the flavors exploded through their mouth. They couldn't even remember the last time they'd eaten something like this. It wasn't like the waffles (or rather, pancakes) from earlier, it wasn't sweet and cloying to chase away the bitter taste of buttercups.
This was heavy and thick and warmed Chara up from the inside out like a not-botched cup of hot chocolate would have.
“Wow, you really like this don't ya?” Sherman took another piece of chicken but then scooted the container toward them. “We should probably only have a little or Mister Peabody will be annoyed we couldn't wait 'till lunch to make a mess of things.”
It was kinda stupid, a learned reaction they'd never shaken. But their jaw clamped shut, teeth reflexively clenching together and pushing the leftovers away from them.
Actually yeah it was really stupid, it had been years since they dealt with anything like that. Toriel was kinda strict but she was never cruel, and Sherman didn't seem afraid of Peabody, so really it was nothing for them to worry themselves over.
But all the same they couldn't respond. Their mouth was clamped shut, their free hand twitching over the box, fork caught in a vice grip.
It was so damn stupid.
They closed up the box and stiffly walked it back to the fridge.
When they closed the refrigerator door they felt like such a damn fool. Especially with Sherman looking over them like they'd lost their mind.
“Are you... okay?”
“I'm fine.” They weren't.
“Do you... wanna talk about it?” he bit his lip and rubbed the back of his head. “You did say some heavy stuff back in the diner...”
“It's not really.” He flinched under their glare. He wasn't being annoying or anything, but Chara would really prefer if, for just a moment, he stopped with the 'cherubim cheeked curious boy' act because Chara knew the truth.
He'd already shown that he was just as observant and insightful as they were, he could talk to them like an equal. They deserved at least that much.
He pinched his lips to the side, clearly disbelieving, but it didn't really matter if he didn't express it so Chara just walked stiffly back to the couch and hopped back onto it.
“Do you guys still have Star Wars?”
That at least was an effective deterrent. Sherman's face lit up at the offered distraction and he ran over to join them on the couch.
“Yeah! The new one just came out!” He thought for a moment before making a face “I mean it wasn't very good, but it did.”
“Yeah, Episode... Fifteen I think! The end of the newest trilogy!”
Chara was glad they didn't have anything in their mouth because they would have choked on it in their shock.
“Yeah! Finn and Rey have twins now! It's like a...” he gestured with his hands “Like a callback to Padme having Luke and Leia!”
Who the hell are Finn and Rey?
“I just... I just wanted to watch the original three...” there were six movies before Chara climbed the mountain, the prequel three which were... okay... and the original three that were really cool.
Yoda was a glorified sock puppet, and it was hilarious.
“Oh, Okay! Have you not seen the sequel six?” He hopped onto the couch beside them and Chara shrugged.
“Revenge of the Sith was the newest one the last time I was on the surface.”
He looked truly horrified for them, and Chara felt it bubbling up. Unable to stop it they let out the first sincere laugh they'd had since they came back to life.
And that was how the rest of the day went. Chara ran their outfit through the wash to deep soak them, and then ran them through a second time alongside some of Sherman's dirty clothes so they wouldn't be wasting water. When Mister Peabody finally joined the two of them for lunch he'd been carrying extra strength laundry stuff and Chara almost skipped out on lunch in their rush to get their clothes clean.
Chara knew what they wanted from them. And they knew that they had nowhere to go and no supplies. But now that they were rested and had some food in their stomach they were feeling the urgency to disappear again. They wouldn't be able to stay in the same city as the Dreemuurs, that much was certain. Warden was their home once upon a time, but they already didn't have many good memories of the place, and it had changed so much in their time away any value Chara had placed in the memory of where they'd started was long gone. Sydney Park was the only place they remembered that was still there and if this morning was any indication, it wasn't as deserted as it used to be.
Though the idea of playing along until Peabody had his information and Chara had some sturdier clothes and maybe a sleeping bag was tempting, the need to vanish as quickly as they came was stronger.
It was decided then, Chara would stay up late and leave when the two of them were asleep.
And speak of the devil, the sun had just began to set as they'd made up their mind. They were half way through Rogue One with their Hosts, and the Dryer began to beep. Chara huffed and stood, letting out a blithe 'don't bother pausing' before they strode to the dryer and rummaged around until they found their clothes.
Goosebumps crawled up their arm at the feeling of their favorite sweater all warm and clean under their hands. It took actual willpower not to put it on immediately or change into their old clothes right then and there. But they managed—putting their clothes at the top of the pile and moving the whole mess into the room with the suitcase in it, before bringing their own things with them into the bathroom.
The heat on their clothes was fading fast so Chara was quick as they could be to shed the borrowed pajamas from themselves and climb into their real clothes.
It was a comfort. Wrapped up in their soft sweater and sturdy pants. The detergent the hotel provided didn't smell like anything and honestly Chara preferred that anyway, they were simply happy that it no longer smelled bad.
When they wandered back into the main room, handing the borrowed pajamas back to their owner. Sherman darted off to put them on his bed and Chara went back to the movie.
They pulled at the neckline of their sweater until their face was covered and began to clench their jaw, a million ideas of how to pull off their little escape attempt buzzing through their brain. How light of sleepers were dogs on average? The only dog Chara had a lot of sleep related experience with was Greater Dog, and they doubted Dog Monsters were a good example of dog behavior.
Could they wait until the two of them fell asleep and then make a break for the door? Peabody was apparently hyper intelligent yes, but how apt was he in sleuthing? Could Chara just vanish from their lives in the night and they'd just act like it was simply a very peculiar day? Was he the 'White Knight' type who'd already decided that Chara was his next project? Sherman had told them that they were here to assist in his search for answers, but there were enough Monsters around that Magic could be solved relatively easily, and if the resets were what was really bothering him Chara hadn't remembered him showing up the last time the monsters were freed so Frisk would likely play nice. Granted it was a new branching path and all that. If they really were that easily replaceable it would be no problem for Peabody to replace them with Frisk as well.
This was bringing up a lot of very concerning thoughts, and to add on to their stress pile, they still had the Dreemuurs to avoid. And probably most of the monsters that were usually around Frisk.
Maybe one day they could approach Asgore, but not now, not when Monsters were still riding the high of being free. Not when Frisk was being treated as 'the Angel so precious they could never do anything wrong'.
No, if Chara ever wanted to be listened to, they needed time. And if they wanted to last until that day they needed to survive until it comes.
And if they wanted to survive until that time comes, they couldn't be sloppy in getting out of this strange little detour their life had made a turn into. They couldn't chance actually falling asleep, later, no matter if they ended up actually feeling tired by the end of the night or not.
Then dinner came along and Chara didn't know how to say that they were still full from lunch, so there they sat with a fancy salad set in front of them. Spinach instead of lettuce, chicken and cheese, carrots, and croutons, and those little tomatoes, and wow if Chara had forgotten the taste of blueberries AND the taste of Pizza, Salad would be another experience they were gonna have all over again.
They didn't realize how much they missed plants that needed sunlight to grow until now. The little tomatoes burst like grapes onto their tongue. The carrots—they always did like carrots best of all vegetables—were crunchy and sweet. While they decided they still didn't like spinach, even if raw, they could at least push past the kinda gross taste in favor of the chicken, cheese, and croutons. Chicken, that should be marked as a another thing they missed. It's funny, how easy it had been to forget about the foods they'd left behind on the surface.
Though that did make sense, considering what Chara had been leaving behind anyway.
“If I may so ask, Chara...” Peabody began, and suddenly his side of their deal came crashing back onto them. “I can tell from your eating habits you didn't have much contact with plant based foods while underground, and you never quite extrapolated on your supposed death while under the mountain, so if I may be so bold as to ask...”
“I didn't starve.” they knew it was rude to cut off adults, but they really didn't want to get into 'how did you die' as the beginning of this deal of theirs. Especially since Chara would already be gone by sunrise. “Monster food is made by magic. It goes directly to your soul. No vitamins necessary, it vanishes right after you bite in. I lived with the Dreemuurs for three years before I died, so... you know... I definitely didn't starve.”
“What do you mean monster food is made of magic?!” Is probably what Sherman said, but it came out around a mouthful of spinach and chicken so it sounded more like 'wa 'oo ya mea mo'th'a foo ith mae of mahhic?!'
After swallowing loudly—and with a thin trail of ranch from the corner of his mouth to halfway across his cheek, Sherman leaned over in his seat to better get into Chara's face.
“What does it do? Can you like... Breathe fire? Grow gills?! Chara Tell me straight, can you shoot lasers from your eyes?!”
Chara leaned back a little in response, trying to re-distance the two of them. “Uh.. No? It's just food. All it does is keep you alive. It doesn't give you extra magic.”
Sherman's fascinated look didn't fade, and even Peabody had leaned in, just a bit, from his position across the table from either of them. No doubt taking mental notes on whatever it is that Chara could then reveal about monsters.
“But If it disappears after you bite in, then do you still need to poop?”
“Sherman!” Peabody finally yelped, Dog's couldn't blush, but Chara had a feeling that if he could, Peabody would be. “While a human's responses to such forms of sustenance is fascinating, the workings of their digestive tract aren't something to be questioning during dinner!”
Once Sherman looked reasonably sheepish at being told the subject was too gross for dinner, Chara took another big bite of their salad, a proper response of their own coming to mind.
“I peed a lot, but I didn't need to poop for all three years!”
Peabody choked on his drink and Sherman threw his head back to laugh. Chara smiled around their next bite of tomato and carrot.
Honestly if they hadn't ended up falling asleep on the couch earlier there would have been no way they could have kept themselves awake now. They were still on the little couch, sure, but the softness of the cushions, paired with the warm blankets and the actual cloud that they were told was a spare pillow that was one amongst a half dozen that neither boy nor dog were using just BEGGED to be slept on. But thankfully, Chara was already used to the softness of the couch. After that they just needed to employ their natural abilities of listening and sneaking.
They were turned to face the couch so they wouldn't have to fake being asleep and chance actually losing to the exhaustion that still tugged at their eyes. They could hear Peabody puttering around in the bedroom, while they couldn't tell how long had passed, Sherman was no doubt asleep by now.
Chara placed the inside of their cheek between their teeth and bit down. The pain chasing the pull to sleep a little further away.
They watched a lot of Star Wars today, The original trilogy, then that 'rogue one' prequel, Sherman loudly deciding they'd watch the sequel trilogy tomorrow.
It was weird, Chara honestly hadn't thought Star Wars would continue at all after Anikin became Darth Vader on screen, and to be honest Chara wasn't sure if they liked it.
But it did give them some stuff to think about. Just how many people died to give Leah the blueprints to the Death Star was the main thing in their mind.
It felt almost like an eon that they lay there, unmoving on their side, thinking about the fact that there were people that honestly and truly believed in the force without being Jedi. It was almost comforting to them actually, that the whole 'may the force be with you' thing wasn't just a jedi thing.
But eventually enough time sitting in the dark had passed that Chara was sure their two hosts were well and truly asleep. First they turned over on the couch to peer into the darkness, looking for movement. After not finding any, they sat up and stretched. Tired muscles straining with the movement, but waking the rest of their body up was easy enough.
Okay, time to do this.
Chara took a deep breath and hopped off the couch. Quickly, as to make sure they wouldn't have to later, Chara used the bathroom—careful not to flush as to not accidentally wake someone up—and crept out the door. They'd like to think they did a pretty good job in being silent, Peabody was a Dog and Chara had snuck past him!
They were maybe even a little proud of themselves for that.
The loudest thing in their escape was the click of the door as it closed, and by the time such a thing was made evident to either of them, They'd already be gone.
But now they didn't have to worry about stealth and raced through the halls. They wouldn't assume to remember exactly where the elevator was, but if they just kept going it would turn up eventually.
Their legs were still sore; enough so that just the act of running was putting them in pain again. They could feel it in every step, every jolt of their heels meeting the hard floor.
But they couldn't stop and risk getting caught by hotel staff. They just had to make it to the...
Aha! The elevator!
They pressed the call button the second they could reach it, but, because they were the unluckiest kid in the world, both elevators were multiple floors away. So Chara was stuck jittering their leg nervously as every second passed by that they risked getting caught.
When the elevator to their right was finally open Chara heard a door open somewhere behind them and darted in as soon as they could, mashing the door close button, and they caught only the quickest glance of an adult human before the doors closed and they were safe.
Well... Homeless free.
It's going to be tough getting by on what little they had, but Chara was nothing if not determined. They believed in their own ability, that same ability kept them alive in those long few months before they made their way to the mountain, as well as kept them alive through their early years of hell.
They just needed to stay at the edges of the city, keep people from asking too many questions by hanging out in the bad part of town—if it was still there—sleep in Sydney park again, and keep an eye on the news cycle.
Maybe if they find an abandoned bicycle somewhere they could start a paper route to get some Human currency.
The elevator came to a stop. Warning chimes indicating the doors opening.
Chara was almost completely alone in the bottom floor. The twisting hallways staffed by only the most skeleton of crews. They only ran into one maid; whom simply raised a brow at them and went about her business.
They followed the signs and after a beat realized that they hadn't gone down the same elevator they'd gone up. The one they all went through together was right off of the main lobby, this one seemed like it was on the complete opposite part of the wing.
However, eventually they saw the front desk in the distance, nearly tripping on the laundry cart beside the concierge desk.
But Luck could never smile kindly down on them. Never ever ever could they ever get a lucky break.
The front man of the hotel had only spared them a single curious glance before the loud crash of a door being kicked in made him jump in his place. If Chara had even a point less LOVE in their body they probably would have jumped too.
But their heart did sink into their chest at the realization as to what—or rather who—could and would be so ostentatious.
Cautiously, Chara peeked their head around the laundry cart, it was just barely bigger than them so if they were careful they wouldn't be seen.
And sure enough they caught a glimpse of hot pink boots just a fraction of a second before he spoke.
“Ohhhh yesss!” Mettaton crooned. “This will be just perfect as a temporary place for us to stay! The Monster Royal family should have no less~” he walked with the exact swagger that Chara always saw him, with long striding steps as he continued to mess around with his android form. And just a few paces behind the Ghost turned robot, walked in the Dreemuurs.
Or rather, Asgore and Asriel.
“Mettaton dear, please stop referring to us as a full set.”
A pang in their gut when they heard Toriel's voice. That warmth, that sadness, the disappointment and upset.
For a long moment they were just standing there, barely hidden by a cart of dirty towels and frozen like a deer in the headlights. Practically waiting for the lot of them to notice Chara.
Asriel ran out of Chara's line of sight, and slower he returned. Towing... towing them behind him like they were some kind of lost puppy.
Chara grit their teeth so hard one of their back molars started to hurt.
The rage came bubbling up again, the hot painful sting of betrayal still sharp on their tongue.
Speaking of sharp did they still have their knife on them? They reached into their weapon slot, looking for the worn dagger, their worn dagger. The one Asgore gave them so they'd feel safe, dulled down so it could only hurt a person if they were stabbed with it.
Poetic justice wasn't it?
[ATK] 0 (48) [EXP]99999
[DEF] 0 (14) [NEXT] 0
They couldn't chance being caught again. Not by the hotel staff and not by the Dreemuurs, but the front doors were the only way out of the hotel that they could see, and it was only a matter of time before someone walked up to the front desk and Chara was only a head turn away.
They only had one choice.
I'm sorry this thing took so long, this is a surprisingly difficult story to write. But i hope this continuation was worth the wait.