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Show Business

Chapter Text

“Alright, Napstablook,” Hapstablook said as they hovered closer to their cousin. “You’ve had enough time to mope around. Come on, it’s time to move on and do something constructive. Why don’t you work on one of your lovely mixtapes? I could even do some vocals for you,” they coaxed. Napstablook remained face-down on the floor.

“i’m sorry, hapstablook,” Napstablook said. “the house just feels so empty now.”

Hapstablook sighed. “Our cousin didn’t die, Blooky. They moved away. Can you really fault them for following their dreams? I bet they’ll even come and visit once they get settled in their new body. Besides, you still have me! And our other cousin is still here, too.”

Napstablook rolled over morosely. “i guess you’re right...”

“I am,” Hapstablook said, sitting down next to them. “Now, how is that new song you were working on coming?”

“um... about that...” Napstablook trailed off.

“Yes, darling?”

“well... i’m almost finished with it, and i have some lyrics written up… but i don’t think it’s going to work right.”

“Honestly, Napstablook, you need to have a little self-confidence! Your musical talent is truly something special.”

“well, it wasn’t quite that… it’s just that it would sound a lot better with some background vocals, but if you sing both parts, it probably won’t mesh together very well.”

“I see,” Hapstablook scrunched their eyebrows together in thought. “Well, then I simply need to find a background singer for us. It’s rather simple,” Their face lit up with an idea, “and I know exactly who to ask.”

Hapstablook searched through Waterfall for more than two hours before finding Shyren. She was hovering over one of the region’s many glowing pools, back in a secluded alcove. She was humming softly.

“Hello, dear,” Hapstablook called to her. She stopped humming immediately and spun around, embarrassed. “I’m sorry if I startled you. I just wanted to come by and offer my condolences for your sister. She was a lovely woman.”

“O-Oh. Thank… thank you…” Shyren said, her voice barely above a whisper.

“You have a lovely voice,” Hapstablook prodded. “What song were you just singing?”

Shyren started blushing. “It’s just an old lullaby our papa used to sing to us… nothing special…” She looked down, avoiding eye contact.

“I disagree. The melody was rather soothing, and you hit the notes perfectly. You have a unique talent.” Hapstablook put on a wide smile and hovered over to join her in the back of the small cave.

“Th… thank you…”

“Of course, darling. Now, there was actually something else I wanted to discuss with you,” Hapstablook sat down on the bench in the small room, and motioned for Shyren to join them. She did so reluctantly.

“I’m not sure if you’re familiar with my cousin Napstablook,” Hapstablook began, “but they also possess a talent for music. Specifically, the instrumental and sound-mixing parts of it. They’ve nearly completed a new composition, and I will be doing the vocals for it. However, it’s in desperate need of a background singer, and I thought you would be perfect for the role!”

“O-oh, no,” Shyren stuttered, flustered. “I’m not very good, you… you don’t want me. I’m sure you can find someone better.”

“Nonsense, darling!” Hapstablook said, laughing to lighten the mood. They were just about done with dealing with all these humble people. They didn’t understand how someone could possess an extraordinary talent and not want to share it with the world. It was rather exasperating; there was no trait more useless than humility. “I have already considered multiple other candidates, and you are the only one I believe is fit for the job.”

“Really?” Shyren finally looked at Hapstablook.

“Really,” they smiled at her. “So, would you like to come over to Napstablook’s house sometime for a recording session?”

“...Okay. That sounds nice.”

Dear Diary, Hapstablook wrote in their new diary that night. Shyren’s sister “fell down” recently. It’s sad. Without her sister to speak for her... she’s become more reclusive than ever. So I reached out to her, and told her that she, Blooky, and I should all perform together sometime. She seemed to like that idea.

They put their ghost-pen down, satisfied with their flowery cursive. Hapstablook liked the look of the diary on its designated spot on the floor. It really brought the room together.

Dearer Diary, they wrote a few days later. The rest of the week had been uneventful and entirely unworthy of recording, so Hapstablook decided to make something worthy. I like to buy a new diary for every entry I make. I love to collect diaries. This wasn’t exactly true, but it was the presentation that mattered.

Hapstablook floated into Napstablook’s house with a bag of groceries. “Hello, Blooky!” they called. “I have a few ghost sandwiches for you. Let’s see… I have BLT, grilled cheese, vegetarian…” Hapstablook looked at the room to find their cousin lying face-down on the floor again. “Oh, honestly, Napstablook,” they scolded, putting the sandwiches into the refrigerator for the moment. “This needs to stop. Despite what our cousins might say, lying on the ground feeling like garbage is not a healthy coping mechanism.” Their other cousin had left to become a training dummy a few days ago. Hapstablook had given Napstablook their space at first, but this depressed moping needed to end.

Napstablook turned to look at Hapstablook slowly. They had been crying earlier, if the pool of white tears on the floor was any indication. “are... are you going to try and become corporeal, too?” Their voice didn’t sound upset, just… hollow. Hapstablook decided to put an end to that immediately.

“Oh, Blooky,” they soothed, sitting down beside their cousin, “I’m not going anywhere. I would never leave you behind, darling! Now, get up and help me get that CD I found up-and-running. I need to have something to show for my first Human Fanclub meeting tomorrow!”

Napstablook smiled a little at the promise and floated up off of the ground. “okay... i’m sorry i can’t come.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want our little snails to be left alone for so long, anyway. They do love you ever so much, Blooky.”

Dearest Diary, they wrote, Our cousin left the farm to become a training dummy. That leaves just Blooky and I. Blooky asked me if I was going to try to become corporeal, too. They sounded so… resigned. Come on, Blooky. You know I’d never leave you behind. And besides… I’d never find the kind of body I’m looking for, anyway.

Hapstablook hovered in the area they’d designated for the meeting, holding their freshly-refurbished human music CD and laminated dance poster. They had a CD/DVD player set up with a small TV in the room, with a table for any items people brought to display; but it was already six o’clock, and no one had shown up. They felt their heart sinking.

Just as they were about to leave, they heard footsteps approaching. It was a yellow lizard-monster. “H-Hello?” she called as she peeked around the corner. “Is this the, uh, H-Human Fanclub meeting?”

Hapstablook’s face lit up. “Oh! Yes! Yes, it is. Please, come in!” The lizard woman walked in with a bag of DVDs and a small action figure. “My name is Hapstablook,” they introduced themself. “I’m the one who put out the advertisement.”

“My n-name is Alphys,” she said, putting her stuff down. “S-So, I brought some, uh, anime I salvaged from the d-dump! Do you, um, like anime?”

“I’m… afraid I don’t know what that is.”

Alphys gasped. “O-Oh! Well, then this is a g-great opportunity to show you! I see you have a DVD player set up already… m-may I?”

“Yes, of course,” Hapstablook said, curious. She popped one of the disks in and hit play.

Alphys, Hapstablook decided, was entirely too talkative. She hadn’t closed her mouth since the show started, and Hapstablook honestly didn’t think this ‘anime’ stuff was all that great. Still, they were relieved that someone had shown up. After several episodes and Hapstablook not getting a single word in edgewise, they decided it was getting late.

“O-Oh, of course,” Alphys said as the episode ended. She put the disk back in its case. “S-So, uh, what did you think?”

“It was… interesting,” they replied, trying to sound cheerful. While they didn’t care for the cartoons, they could appreciate her passion for them. It was rather sweet, actually. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Alphys.”

“L-Likewise. So, um, same time n-next week?”

“Oh, I don’t know if I’m going to continue this. There doesn’t really seem to be much interest in a ‘Human Fanclub’.”

“O-Oh. Well, that’s a shame. Still, maybe we c-could… hang out sometime?”

Hapstablook opened their mouth before closing it again. How could he let her down gently? “Oh, darling, I’m afraid I’m a rather busy ghost. I doubt our schedules would overlap very often.”

“O-Oh, that’s alright! I’m free… whenever, b-basically. J-Just let me know when, and I’ll be right over!”

“Wonderful,” they strained to smile. She really was a lovely - if nerdy - monster, but Hapstablook doubted they would be able to forge a lasting friendship with her. Sometimes people just didn’t mesh well.

“S-So, what keeps you so busy?” she asked as she packed up her things. “Are you looking for a corporeal body?”

Hapstablook was glad for the subject change. “I mean, I would love to have a body someday, but… I suppose I set my standards too high. I just can’t find anything appealing, and honestly I doubt I ever will. Nothing I can find is… me, if you know what I mean. I want to be a star, like those humans on the surface have… but… it won’t really happen if I stay the way I am.”

“I think I understand,” she said. “N-Not, um, the body thing, or the star thing, but just… being someone you’re not. I get that.”

Perhaps Hapstablook had underestimated her; one more meeting couldn’t hurt. “Well, I should be getting home, Alphys. I’ll try to call you sometime this week.”

“G-Great! I can’t wait. B-Bye, Hapstablook!” She waved at them as they left.

My Darling Diary, they wrote that night, I met someone… interesting today. Last week I posted that advertisement for my Human Fanclub. Today was our first meeting. Only one other person came. Honestly, she’s a dork. And she’s obsessed with these awful cartoons. But she’s kind of funny, too… I want to see her again.

Hapstablook picked up their phone and dialed the number Alphys had given them. “H-H-Hello?” she answered. Her stuttering was even worse.

“Alphys, darling, this is Hapstablook. Would you be available tomorrow at three o’clock?”

“In the a-afternoon, or the m-morning?”

What kind of question was that? “Afternoon, dear.”

“Y-Yes! I’ll b-be there!”

“Wonderful. I look forward to it.” He heard Alphys hang up the phone immediately. That woman had some serious social anxiety issues; perhaps Hapstablook could help her work on that. They filed the idea away for later and picked up a fresh diary. They decided to record whatever happened with Alphys tomorrow instead of discussing the phonecall in the new entry.

Diary… my dear, they wrote, My diary collection is going fabulously. I have like five now.

Satisfied, they laid down on their bed and fell asleep.

Alphys arrived with another fleet of cartoons, to Hapstablook’s displeasure. However, she also had a small notebook with her.

“What’s that, darling?” they asked, desperate to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible.

“O-Oh, right, this… u-um, after what w-we talked about last time, I-I thought I might, um, try to h-help out!” She offered the notebook to them.

They opened the green, spiral-bound book to find a series of detailed sketches inside, with notes written in sloppy handwriting scribbled in the margins. A colored pencil had been used to color some parts of the drawings pink.

Hapstablook’s eyes widened as he looked through the book. The sketches were of a robot, shaped like a human. Sleek, beautiful, and oh… those legs!

“This… my goodness! It’s perfect! I could never dream of something more beautiful! Alphys, darling, could you… could you really build this for me?” They stared at the pages, entranced by the figure they saw.

“I-In theory, yes. There is, um, a little s-snag, though…”

“What? Tell me. If there’s anything I can do to help, I will!”

“W-Well, you see, I d-do want to be a Royal Scientist, but I’m, uh, not q-quite there yet. I d-don’t have the equipment to b-build something like that right now. B-But! If I can make something that r-really impresses Asgore, he might make me the new Royal Scientist, and then I could, um, build i-it for you!”

“How can I help, darling?”

“I could m-make a, um, temporary body for you. And I was thinking, m-maybe, we could… pretend I made a r-robot with a soul! I r-really think that would g-get Asgore’s attention. And then, you c-could start your career while I get settled at m-my new job, and then I’d make this body for you.”

Hapstablook pondered over the idea for a moment. “Alright. Let’s do it. I’ll come over to your place first thing tomorrow morning.”

Hapstablook packed all of their important things in a sack and locked the door to their house before floating off into the night. Dear Diary, the last entry read, She surprised me with something today. Sketches of a body she wants to create for me… a form beyond my wildest fantasies. In a form like that, I could finally feel like “myself”. After all, there’s no way I can be a star the way I am now. Sorry, Blooky… my dreams can’t wait for anyone.

They had decided not to say goodbye. Hapstablook wasn’t sure they would be able to handle Napstablook’s poor, kicked-puppy expression. Or worse, their hollow-eyed one. Show business required sacrifices, and Hapstablook was willing to make them. It was time to be a star.

“How d-does it look?” Alphys asked, holding up a sample of the promotional poster for the very first performance. Witness a Star Being Born! the poster advertised. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event! Come see Mettaton live in their spectacular stage debut!

“It looks fabulous, darling. There’s just one little thing I want to change.”

Napstablook picked up the flyer. Come see Mettaton live in his spectacular stage debut! it said. Or, if you can’t make it, record it on the all-new MTT channel and experience the phenomenon from your very own television!

Napstablook switched on the TV. There was nothing better to do. A robot appeared on the screen.

They didn’t know why, but the song Mettaton was singing made them smile for the first time since Hapstablook had disappeared. There was something familiar and… comforting about it.

Napstablook watched the program late into the night, before finally drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Napstablook slowly rose off of the floor as their alarm clock began to ring. They floated over to it and shut it off, then took a look around their small house. Some amount of dust was collecting on… well, everything, but they just didn’t have the heart to clean it off. Hapstablook would have made them, but the thought of their missing cousin made them droop even closer to the floor than they were already hovering.

They drifted out of the door and picked up a recently-delivered bag of assorted greens from beside it. The snails perked up as he approached. At least they were happy to see them. “breakfast time, i guess…” the ghost put on a weak smile for their charges. “alright, let’s see… i’ve got cabbage for nestor… arugula for annie… radicchio for alexander…” Napstablook laid out each snail’s favorite food in turn, before putting half a dozen or so of them in a small box. Their only remaining customer was almost an hour late, as usual.

“Oh! Good morning, Napstablook!” the tall, horned monster boomed in his deep voice. “I am terribly sorry for being late. I got caught up in a conversation with an old friend of mine and completely lost track of time.”

“oh, that’s alright…” they said, handing the box over. “here you go, mister.”

“Thank you very much.” He put the box somewhere within the confines of his flowy purple robes, before taking a close look at Napstablook’s face. They blushed self-consciously.

“I am sorry,” the man said, fidgeting with his hands in embarrassment. “But I cannot help but notice that you look a bit sad today, my friend. Is there something on your mind?”

“o-oh... well, yes, but…”

The man sat down on the ground, indicating he was willing to listen. He was still taller than Napstablook. “Come,” he said with a patient smile. “It often helps to talk through your problems. I would love to help.”

“well... okay…” they laid down, hovering slightly above the ground. “my cousin hapstablook disappeared a little while ago.”

“Oh my!” the other monster said. “Do you know what might have happened to them?”
“maybe they went to go find a corporeal body,” Napstablook said. “it’s just… they left without saying goodbye. the house is so empty now… and quiet…” They sunk further towards the ground.

“I… know that feeling quite well, I am afraid,” the man said, leaning back on his hands. “Someone very dear to me left a long time ago without saying goodbye. I have not seen her since.”

“oh…” Napstablook’s already melancholy mood fell further.

“Not that your cousin will be the same case!” the man waved his hands, realizing his mistake. “I am sure they will turn up eventually. It sounds as if you were very close.”

“i thought we were,” Napstablook said. There was a long moment of silence. “what do you do, when they’re gone?” They stared at the ceiling, having asked the question whose answer had eluded them for so long.

“You do what you can,” he chuckled. “You keep dreaming. You keep hoping. You do things that you love to do to pass the time, and every night you make a wish that you might see them again.”

Napstablook mulled the response over for a little while. “it’s too bad we don’t have stars to wish on down here,” they sighed.

An inexplicable sadness pooled in the man’s eyes. “Someday, perhaps.”

The pair sat in silence for a few minutes before the man stood up. “Well, it was lovely talking to you, but I am afraid I must be going. Perhaps next time I will bring some ghost tea so that we can share a cup or two.”

“okay... goodbye, mister.” Napstablook realized that they had once again forgotten to ask the man’s name as he walked away. They felt like he was someone important. Oh, well.

Napstablook returned to their house and put an hour’s worth of work into their mixtape before shutting their computer down. They were having a serious case of musician’s block. Hapstablook would probably know what to do, they thought sadly. They decided to take a trip to the spot in the Ruins they had found recently.

It was completely quiet, like usual. They mulled the advice the man had given them over for a while. ‘Keep dreaming’ and ‘keep hoping’ were things they could work on. Unfortunately, the ‘things you love to do’ part was currently wasn’t panning out. They really just needed a couple days’ break from their music. They liked their snails, of course, but they already spent time with them on a daily basis. That just left watching Mettaton’s show. They supposed it would be nice to watch a few episodes before heading off to sleep.

They inadvertently bumped into - well, phased through - Shyren as they made their way back through Waterfall. They both blushed excessively and offered a plethora of apologies before settling down.

“I’m… really sorry your cousin is missing,” Shyren said.

“oh... thanks…”

“So, um… where are you off to?” She studied the ground. Shyren hated making eye contact.

“i was just going home to watch some of Mettaton’s shows,” Napstablook mumbled.

“Oh! You… you like Mettaton, too?” Shyren smiled, finally finding something less gloomy to talk about.

“...yeah. he’s really fun to watch when i’m feeling down.”

“Mm hm. Are… are you going to the live show tonight? He’s giving one free showing of his new musical for anyone in the Underground that wants to come. As… as a gift for being able to open his new resort in Hotland.”

“oh... i don’t know…”

“I… kinda want to go, but… I don’t think I’ll know anyone there, so…” Shyren blushed and glanced away. “Would you, um… would you like to come with me, maybe?”

Napstablook was about to decline, but the thought of seeing Mettaton perform live excited them just a little bit. This was probably a good way to follow the man’s advice, too. If worse came to worse, they could just leave early anyway.

“i guess…” they muttered. “i’ll come. it’s better than spending the day moping again.”

Shyren nodded shyly, still avoiding eye contact.

The theatre was packed to the gills by the time Napstablook and Shyren arrived. There weren’t any seats left, but the pair was used to floating anyway. They rose in the air to get a view from the back wall.

A few minutes later, after even more patrons crammed into the room like sardines in a can, Mettaton himself rolled onto the stage. “GOOD EVENING, BEAUTIES AND GENTLEBEAUTIES!” he boomed as the crowd erupted into applause. “MY, MY, JUST LOOK AT THIS CROWD!” he laughed, surveying the room. “IT’S POSITIVELY FABULOUS TO SEE YOU ALL…” He trailed off once he reached the section Napstablook and Shyren were in. Napstablook could have sworn he was looking directly at them, but brushed it off as Mettaton regained his composure and continued his greeting. There were plenty of other monsters in the air, and Napstablook wasn’t anything special. They must be imagining things.

“WELL, I AM GLAD ALL OF YOU COULD MAKE IT TONIGHT,” Mettaton said. “NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, I GIVE YOU… BEAUTY AND THE MACHINE!” The crowd cheered wildly as the lights dimmed and the curtains drew in, concealing the stage. The boxy robot reappeared a moment later wearing a blue peasant dress in the middle of a medieval-looking village set.

Both Napstablook and Shyren smiled a little as the musical number began.

Napstablook laid on the floor of their home, exhausted. The musical really had been fun to watch, and had given them just the inspiration they needed to continue on the song they were writing. They especially loved all of Mettaton’s musical numbers (even though he was the only actor on the stage the entire time).  It was late now; they’d worked on their mixtape for several hours before realizing what time it was.

“i guess it’s time to make that wish,” they sighed. They really didn’t think it would work without stars.

So, instead, they imagined stars. They had seen pictures of the night sky from an old movie poster Hapstablook had brought home. It was like… a dark blue curtain speckled with thousands of tiny little white dots.

“i wish that i see hapstablook again someday,” Napstablook said as visions of stars swirled around inside their mind. Then, they slowly drifted off to sleep.