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The correct response

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Finally. Finally some peace and quiet after yet another long day at the Hazbin Hotel.

Husk's work shift was finally over, at least as far as serving customers went, even if he still had the clean-up to do. He had shooed away the hotel's inhabitants when the curfew set to them by Charlie had rolled around, and then stopped serving more drinks to the random customers to make them leave without additional effort on his part. It was always effective, as not getting more to drink was a good reason to leave and find another pub. He had only had to physically haul out one very drunk demon tonight, and that was a new record. So now all that was left was to collect the empty bottles and glasses, bin the bottles and put the glasses in the dishwasher, and wipe the tables. The floor was Niffty's problem – it was supposed to be his problem, but he had noticed that she swept it on autopilot anyway when she was doing the main hallway, so he may as well save himself the trouble and leave it be.

He reached under the counter and grabbed a tray, and then made his way across the sticky floor to the farthest table to collect the bottles and glasses from it. This was actually his second favourite part of the job, if he could call any of it a "favourite". Maybe "second least bad" was a better way to put. He liked mixing drinks, so that was the favourite. This? He sort of liked the cleaning up part because there was nobody else around, he wasn't in a hurry, and he knew he could go do fuck all afterwards. It was mostly the last part, really. Now, he didn't exactly have a colourful life, but he still preferred not working over working, so getting to pack his shit and leave was the highlight of his day.

He loaded the tray full and headed towards the counter, eyeing the rest of the tables to gauge how much work was still left as he walked. Not too much tonight, as he had been somewhat active in keeping the tables uncluttered for once. Maybe he should do that more often to save time. ...Probably wouldn't happen, but it was an idea.

That was when Alastor appeared out of thin air right next to him and clapped a hand on his shoulder.

"Hello, Husk-"

Husk had not been expecting that. At all. He flinched and his paws jerked upwards, which caused the tray full of glasses and bottles to tip over and everything on it to crash loudly to the floor into a big mess of spilled drinks and broken glass. The racket made his fur stand on end in fright and he took a couple of involuntary steps back from the noise and Alastor.

Now that was a big mistake.

A glass object that falls a considerable distance and shatters on the floor has an absolutely nasty habit of getting everywhere in the radius of, oh, the entire fucking room the shit happens in. And he had just dropped about a two dozen glasses and some empty glass bottles. So, when Husk stepped back in a hurry, his foot landed on a big, sharp shard of a beer glass and said shard pierced deep into his paw pad.

The sound he made was closer to a caterwaul than a scream. He jumped back on his uninjured foot while his wings flared and his tail propelled wildly to balance him. He felt glass dig into the pad of this foot as well, but thankfully just glass dust and small pieces that would no doubt be a big nuisance eventually, but didn't hurt too much right at that moment. Not enough to force him off this foot anyway.

He swore a blue streak in multiple different languages while holding the injured and now bleeding foot with his paws. At least his fucking wings and tail were useful for once, as he had no trouble whatsoever staying balanced on one foot. Small mercies.

Alastor's ears turned slightly back, either in remorse or just because of the unholy noise coming from Husk. Most likely the latter.

"Ah, I didn't mean for that to happen", Alastor said, and took a step towards him, hands outstretched. The broken glass crunched under his shoe, not bothering him in the least.

Husk hissed at him and flapped his wings threateningly as much as he could while requiring them to keep his balance. Blood dripped all over the place from the nasty cut and the beer traces from the shard stung like hell. "Stay back, you motherf-"

Right at that moment a little magenta hurricane appeared at the edge of the disaster.

"I heard a loud crash and came right away!" Niffty said frantically, bouncing up and down and looking at the mess with one widened eye. "Oh no, you're hurt! Oh gosh, there's glass everywhere! This is a hazard zone! You're bleeding! Aah, what do I fix first?!"

For fuck's sake.

"Niffty", Alastor said calmly, and Husk realized the jackass had appeared right next to him while his attention had been on Niffty. Alastor grabbed a hold of his shoulders, and Husk's wings flapped in a useless attempt to correct his shifted balance again. Alastor ignored that completely. "I'll take Husk to my room. Bring medical supplies."

Wait, what?

"Roger that!" Niffty said, saluted, and took off running before Husk could even think about saying anything.

And then Husk found himself enveloped by shadows and the next thing he knew, he was sitting on the edge of Alastor's bed and his feet were elevated on a fancy footstool. He was bleeding on it and ruining it.

Alastor was standing in front of him and looking at the injured feet with a small, displeased smile.

Husk wasn't sure of the hate-relief ratio he should be feeling about the situation anymore. On one hand, fuck everything: fuck this situation, fuck his hurting feet, fuck Alastor especially. On the other hand, there was relief: surely he wasn't expected to go back to work today, Alastor was presumably going to patch him up, and… Well. Alastor. That was the complicated part.

He honestly wasn't sure what his and Alastor's relationship was these days. They had been getting closer in an undefined, weird way. Alastor had always been a clingy bastard, but a little after they had started cohabiting in the hotel, he had gotten even clingier. At first Husk had been annoyed, but chalked the behavior off as Alastor being excited about the new circumstances and clinging to everyone in sight. Then he got used to it, but was confused because it didn't stop and he noticed that he was, in fact, much more likely a target for the clinginess than the rest of the hotel combined. That's when he started wondering what was going on. Was Alastor trying to start something? Was this shit subtle wooing? If so, why not just outright ask him out? What the fuck?

Did Husk ask, though? Hell no. If Alastor wasn't saying shit, then he wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of cracking first. Instead, he started cautiously reciprocating, testing the waters. When Alastor hugged him, he first leaned against him, and when that wasn't rejected he started boldly wrapping an arm around Alastor's waist. Alastor let him. When Alastor nuzzled him, he took the very first opportunity to casually do the same. Again, the contact wasn't rejected. When Alastor sat next to him during dinner or meetings and he felt a foot nudge his own, he returned the gesture. The last time he had even upped the ante by brushing his tail against Alastor's calves, and that had gotten him a hilarious little jump. He had every intention to do it again sometime soon.

He was doing this all half out of sheer curiosity, and half because he was honestly interested – because despite his annoying personality, Alastor was damn handsome and… well, a good friend of his. He was willing to give it a shot. He had idly thought about it before, but never seriously, so he was definitely not against the idea.

He was rapidly approaching a point where it was only a matter of time before he took the next step on his own and kissed the bastard. Alastor sure didn't seem like he was going to do that. He was all small touches, hugs, nuzzles… but no lip contact whatsoever. Not even pecks on the cheek or forehead, which Husk had frankly been expecting for a while now, since their little game was stagnating a bit. That's actually what had Husk the most unsure and confused about their relationship. He could be reading the signals wrong and Alastor was just being friendly in a very, very close way. He actually wouldn't put it past the weird bastard. He supposed he'd just have to take the leap when an opportunity presented itself, and he'd find out then. The worst that could happen was Alastor telling him that he had misunderstood the situation, and then he could shrug, pretend to not be disappointed, and get really drunk as soon as he could.

But back to the situation at hand. Right now he was mostly angry because his foot hurt and it was all Alastor's fault. He crossed his arms and glared daggers at the guy.

Niffty chose that moment to burst into the room. That was twice today that she ruined his good glaring.

"I brought the first aid kit!" she yelled, and lifted the box above her head into Alastor's reach. Once her burden was relieved, she looked at Alastor like an eager puppy. "Is there anything else I can do? Do you need help with taking care of the wound?"

Alastor set the first aid kit on the nightstand and opened it. He then shot Niffty an indulgent smile over his shoulder. "Bring Husk some hot chocolate laced with Stroh. He looks a little cranky."

On one hand, fuck Alastor. On the other hand, yes please.

"Right away!"

And Niffty was out of the room before Husk could blink. She was sweet, but with her endless energy she was sometimes even more exhausting than Alastor, and that was a fucking feat.

Said demon set a napkin down next to Husk's feet and then kneeled while wielding a pair of pincers. Husk's ears turned back in anxious anticipation, and he growled at Alastor.

"Just so you're aware, this is all your fucking fault and I hate your guts", he said. Alastor just chuckled.

"Says you. Now hold still."

Husk grimaced as Alastor began the slow process of plucking out the glass shards from his paw pads. He'd take a few out and put them on the napkin, and then he needed to stop and very carefully pat away the blood that seeped from the wounds to be able to see what he was doing. At least his glowing eyes were useful in shining light directly into the affected area, even if the light was inconveniently red.

Alastor was almost done with the first, less damaged paw, when Niffty returned with the hot chocolate. Husk swiped the mug from her hands the moment she held it close enough. She blinked her one large eye at him expectantly, and he deigned to remember his manners.

"Thanks", he grumbled, and she smiled at him so damn happily that he felt slightly guilty for not being a little less of a grump to her. She had done nothing wrong, after all.

"You're welcome!" she said, and turned towards Alastor. "Anything else you need? I'll go clean the bar if I'm not needed here. It wouldn't do for someone else to get injured just by entering the room!"

Alastor looked up from his work and smiled at her. "This will be all. You go do that. Thank you, dearie."

Niffty giggled cheerfully, and then ran out once more. Husk honestly wasn't sure if he'd ever seen her move in any way other than running or skipping. Oh well. As long as he wasn't expected to do the same, he didn't care.

Husk sipped his hot chocolate, feeling much better already. Ah, alcohol and chocolate was truly a match made in Heaven; irony aside. He should see if he could find some liqueur chocolates the next time he went out. They would do wonders in making some of his shittier days less bad.

For a brief moment, everything was relatively nice. Then…

"I'm pulling the big shard out", Alastor warned him. Husk had only a brief moment to register the words and make sure he wouldn't spill his beverage, and then his paw hurt like hell.

"Shit fucking damn it!" he swore, and hissed in pain, toes curling involuntarily and frankly just making it worse. He could see blood actually spurt out at the movement and land on Alastor's left lapel. If he wasn't actively in pain, he would take some glee out of that fucking karma.

Alastor ignored the mess and the cussing and simply pressed something soft against the wound to staunch the blood flow. "That's the worst of it. It'll be downhill from here, darling."

"Fuck you", Husk said, but slowly relaxed his feet in order to lessen the hurt. He was not looking forward to walking after this. He would consider flying for a couple of days if it wasn't for the fact that his wingspan was way too wide for the hallways. Damn it, his life was going to suck.

He sighed in frustration and went back to drinking his chocolate to make himself feel better. He resented the fact that it actually helped and had been Alastor's idea. Yes, he was petty, so fucking what. He was also hurting, so it was a fair game.

It took a while longer, but Alastor eventually got all of the glass out, disinfected the wounds, and then put a large band-aid over the big cut while leaving the small ones to their own devices. He binned the napkin, packed the medical supplies, and then gave Husk a thoughtful look.

"What?" Husk asked, and drained the rest of his beverage. He kind of wished he had more, but not enough to actually ask for it.

"Just considering my options", Alastor said, and held out his hand for the empty mug. Husk handed it over without a fuss, not having any need for it now that there was nothing left to drink, and Alastor set it down on the nightstand. That done, Alastor made a shooing motion at Husk's feet. "Lift your feet on the bed and move further in."


Husk stared at Alastor incredulously. Alastor looked back at him evenly, with a grin that was mostly neutral but slightly on the mischievous side. A grin that was a relatively safe one, usually. Husk narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but slowly did as asked. He hissed in pain every time he had to use the more injured paw to push himself backwards – and Alastor's grin widened with every hiss. What a sadistic bastard – but eventually he was leaning against the headboard with his legs straightened out comfortably and with one of Alastor's pillows he dug from beneath the cover supporting his lower back. Hopefully that was more or less what Alastor wanted, as Husk wasn't inclined to move again.

He looked at Alastor for confirmation just in time to see him vanish, and then Alastor reappeared right next to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Husk was actually not too surprised, even though he hadn't consciously expected it. This was familiar bullshit, after all. Especially lately.

"Are you nice and cozy?" Alastor asked, and squeezed him. Husk didn't know how to even begin answering that question, mostly because he wasn't sure what was expected of him in this situation. Was this flirting? Comfort after the hurt? Just Alastor being cuddly now that Husk was conveniently here and unable to easily leave? What? So instead of answering he looked down at their feet, as there was something going on down there. And okay, it was more weird shit. Alastor's shoes had vanished at some point, and he was rubbing the side of his foot against Husk's, thankfully careful to not poke the smarting underside. ...Husk didn't know what to think about that, either, other than finding it vaguely pleasant. And probably, most likely, maybe flirty. It definitely would be with anyone else at least, but again, Alastor was a fucking weirdo.

"Oh, sure!" Alastor said, answering some kind of a request that he apparently assumed Husk made, even though he sure as hell hadn't actually said anything. Regardless, Alastor snapped his fingers and a red quilt appeared to cover their legs.

...It actually was damn nice and cozy now.

"Anything else?" Alastor asked, and nuzzled Husk's ear.

Okay, that's it.

"Why are you behaving like this?" Husk asked, and moved his ear away from the pointy nose, despite liking the contact. He gave Alastor an accusing look. "And if you ask 'like what?' I'm out of here, even if I have to fucking crawl."

Alastor looked back at him with a tilted head and a confused smile. Husk hated it. "Isn't it obvious?"

Husk frowned, and crossed his arms, ignoring his heart beat that had picked up speed. After all, it was kind of obvious if he let himself actually believe it. Which he was hesitant to do. He would much rather just have straight answers. "Let's say it isn't. Well?"

Alastor looked somewhat displeased, presumably because he had to explain something so self-evident. He rolled his eyes, even. "Fine. You're my closest friend, and while I prefer to ignore things of this nature, I've long since noticed that you might be interested in me. It has recently come to my attention that when such a thing happens, the correct response is to reciprocate if the idea is appealing in some manner."

...What the actual fuck? Okay, first of all he didn't like the implication that he was apparently transparent as hell with his interest, considering that he had only been passively interested without any plans to do anything about it. Second, he knew Alastor didn't exactly have a lot of friends, but he was the closest one? That was actually news to him. But most importantly: what the fuck was that about the correct respon-

Hold on.

Oh. Damn, he actually knew what that was about.

Charlie and Vaggie. He had been in the lobby when Niffty asked them about their relationship, and so had Alastor. Charlie had said that the two of them had just been best friends, and then Vaggie had confessed to her. Charlie hadn't actually had feelings of that nature for her at the time, but she had agreed to date her anyway to see if it led anywhere. And now they were happily together.

Alastor had apparently taken the story to heart and applied it to Husk post-haste, even though Husk hadn't actually ever said anything to Alastor about being potentially interested.

All because Alastor found the idea of dating him appealing in some manner, evidently.

Husk's head spun. "I see."

Alastor seemed pleased by the answer, as he just hummed in response and went back to nuzzling Husk's ear. Like that was all there was to this conversation and they could just go back to what they were doing before it.

Husk let the nuzzling happen and concentrated on getting his shit back together. This was a lot to unpack. Or maybe not a lot. Still, he had to stop and process it.

He had his answer now: Alastor was definitely interested and this was him wooing Husk. So the next question was, what should he do about this?

...It was a stupid question, honestly. He had already been operating on the tentative assumption that Alastor was courting him. And he had already toyed with the idea of what to do next. So, the logical answer was to stick to the plan.

He quickly turned his head and caught Alastor mid-nuzzle. He lightly pecked the lips that were conveniently within easy reach, and then pulled back to observe, feeling rather smug at his success.

Alastor's eyes opened wide in shock and he pulled his head back to stare at Husk in an adorable display of utter bafflement and surprise. Now that wasn't a look one saw every day. Husk's smugness intensified.

He smirked at Alastor, and tapped his own lips with a claw. "Hugs, nuzzles and games of footsie are fine with me, but if you're gonna be dating me, then I expect more of this from now on, too. I'm aware you have certain… issues with physical contact, and we can start negotiations right now if you want to, but kisses are my minimum requirement. Take it or leave it, and we'll see what comes next."

Alastor's expression went from confused to indignant to considering to… whatever the hell that mischievous grin was supposed to mean in this context. He chuckled, brought a hand up to cradle Husk's cheek gently, and leaned closer before stopping a few inches away.

Husk drew in an admittedly shaky breath, eyes helplessly locked on Alastor's. His smugness was swiftly replaced by a fluttering feeling in his stomach. Damn. Alastor was apparently good at this when he wanted to be.

"Very well then", Alastor said, and his grin widened. "We'll negotiate."

Husk closed his eyes and sighed through his nose when Alastor's lips met his again in a very measured, but nonetheless a pleasant kiss.

Regardless of how their conversation was going to go from here, at least this was enough for him to officially forgive Alastor for getting him injured today.