“No,” Chloe says firmly. “Look. It’s not that I don’t appreciate you looking out for me, you know, it definitely beats you trying to kill me in my sleep, but I don’t need help with… with dating. Okay?”
“It’s not a date. It’s a singles cruise.”
“That’s worse! That’s like… endless potential dates, packed into one trip.”
Maze grins as if Chloe had awarded her some kind of prize. Best Bestie Award. Chloe can’t help but smile back tiredly.
“I can’t just leave my job, Maze. And I can’t leave Trixie, either. I’m a single mom with a job. It’s just not doable.”
“Sure it is,” Maze says. “It’s only five days. You can leave the kid with me.” Off Chloe’s look, she adds, “and your ex. Come on, Decker. When was the last time you took a vacation? You’re so tightly-wound, one day you’re gonna…” Maze makes a popping sound with her lips and raises her eyebrows.
“I’m not. I’m fine!”
“Come on. I already signed you up.”
“It’s in two months. I’m planning in advance.” Maze grins proudly. In the absence of a reaction from Chloe, she rolls her eyes. “So you can book time off from your job?”
“Right. Good thinking.” Chloe frowns to herself. “Wait—no. No! You’ll have to find someone else to go instead. Maybe—I don’t know. Linda?”
“Why are you fighting this, Decker? It’s perfect for you. Boring thirty-and-up divorcees looking to hook up on a fucking boat.”
“What if I don’t want to hook with anyone?”
“Why?” Maze says. “Got your eye on someone in particular? ‘Cause I can help with—”
“Fine!” Chloe interrupts. “I’ll do it.”
“Sure. I mean—what have I got to lose?”
“Now you’re talking.”
“Just—no more talk about ‘particular someones’. Okay?”
“Ooh,” Maze says, and winks. “Got it.”
Two months roll by—two months of evading Lucifer’s questions about the whereabouts of her upcoming vacation—and Chloe Decker is on a boat.
Sunglasses on, wind in her hair.
Well, not alone alone. She’s surrounded by people. But this week is about new friends. She doesn’t know a single person here. There’s no cop ex-husband on board. No youthful forensic scientist playing One of Us on repeat.
Most importantly, Lucifer is nowhere to be seen.
Chloe smiles to herself as she leans against the railing. Truth be told, she’s looking forward to the break. Five days without Lucifer. Five uncomplicated days, free from feelings and her partner’s watchful eyes.
“Can I help you find your cabin?” a cruise attendant asks her.
Chloe’s enjoying the cool ocean air, but she’ll probably enjoy it even more once she’s dropped her luggage off downstairs, so she nods and follows the guy to her room.
“Uh, normally everyone gets a roommate,” the attendant says nervously. “’Cause of the amount of space we have, you know. But, as you requested, you’ve got a cabin to yourself.”
“Oh, I don’t—” Chloe stops herself. She doesn’t exactly want a roommate. “I mean, that’s perfect. Thank you so much.”
“’Course. Enjoy the trip, Miss Decker. We’ll be leaving in about five minutes.”
Five minutes to turn back.
It takes four hours for her trip to be spoiled. She’d packed a few audiobooks, and settled down on the deck with earbuds to listen to some novel Dan had recommended.
Chloe enjoys four hours of blissful quiet. Four hours without Trixie sneaking chocolate cake into her bedroom. Four hours without tripping over Maze’s sex toys.
Four hours without Lucifer.
It’s absurd, but she sees—for lack of a better way to put it—the Lucifer effect before she even sees or hears him. It’s the way everyone in the room looks in one direction with rapt attention. She’s never seen such a hungry audience before.
“Oh sinnerman, where you gonna run to—”
“Sinnerman, where you gonna run to—”
He can’t be—
Right there. Playing the cruise ship’s grand piano in the dining hall. Chloe feels a knot twisting in her stomach. She could come back later. She should—
“Where you gonna run to? All along them daaays.”
The cruise ship had already set sail. There’s nowhere to go. She can’t spend five days hiding from Lucifer. (God, why can’t she do that?)
Chloe sits down at a table as far away from the piano as she can, but it’s no use.
“Thank you,” Lucifer says into the microphone as he finishes the song. He looks across the room and locks eyes with Chloe immediately, his face lighting up as if he's genuinely surprised to see her there. “More later, but for now, if you’ll excuse me…”
Chloe watches out of the corner of her eye as he crosses the room.
“Detective, what a pleasant surprise,” Lucifer says, sitting down across from Chloe and flashing a quick smile at the older gentleman next to him. “I had no idea you frequented this sort of thing.”
“You had no idea,” Chloe deadpans. “Lucifer, this is ridiculous. You can’t just follow me on vacation.”
“I did no such thing!” Lucifer says indignantly. “It was Maze who decided I should take a trip while you went away.”
“Maze booked your ticket?”
“Is everything all right, Detective?” Lucifer says, frowning. “Thought you might like to see a familiar face.”
“Not your face!”
Lucifer looks hurt, and Chloe sighs. For once, it’s not his fault. She shouldn’t be so harsh.
“I’m sorry, Lucifer. I didn’t mean… I was just looking forward to a trip without any complications. Does that make sense?”
“Not particularly,” Lucifer says easily. “In what way do I create complications?”
The knot that had formed in Chloe’s stomach the moment she’d realized Lucifer was here twists tighter. If he weren’t so beautiful, and if his goddamn eyes weren’t so soft—
“Every relationship comes with complications. And that includes partnerships.”
“I’ve found that most relationships can be quite… uncomplicated, actually.”
“Yeah. Those aren’t relationships. Those are one-night stands. People have one-night stands to avoid ‘complicated,’ Lucifer.”
Lucifer opens his mouth briefly and then closes it again. He half-smiles. “Fair point, Detective. Can’t argue with you. But you and I have never slept together—doesn't that put us in the 'uncomplicated' camp, too?”
“It’s not about whether or not we’ve—” Chloe notices that a few of the older ladies at their table are very obviously pretending not to listen in on their conversation, and drops her voice to a hiss. “It’s not about whether or not we’ve slept together. Every relationship has… a history. We’ve been through a lot together, Lucifer. I can’t be around you without thinking about that. That’s what I was trying to take a break from.”
“Do you want me to leave?” Lucifer asks genuinely.
“No,” Chloe hears herself say, before she can even give the question proper consideration. “No, I don’t want you to leave. I just want you to understand how I’m feeling.” She smiles tentatively. “Truth is, I think I’m glad to see you. I was actually a little worried about not knowing anyone.”
Lucifer grins. “Likewise, Detective. About the ‘glad to see you’ part.”
“I wasn’t worried about not knowing anyone.”
“I got that.”
“Besides, this is all about meeting new people, isn’t it? Maybe you’ll learn to loosen up a little bit.”
“Why does everyone think I’m so tightly-wound?”
Lucifer raises an eyebrow.
“I mean, just because I put all of my time and energy into my work and my daughter doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to have fun.”
“Is that Chloe Decker or the champagne talking?”
“Lucifer. I’m serious.”
“Serious? I thought you were gonna show me that you know how to have fun?”
“You couldn’t handle it,” Chloe says, and takes a sip from the champagne glass a passing waiter had deposited in front of her while she and Lucifer had been talking.
“Ohh,” Lucifer says, pleased. “Is that a challenge, Detective?”
“You know what? Yeah. I bet that I,” Chloe pokes Lucifer in the chest, “could show you up at any event here.”
“I’ll take that bet,” Lucifer says. He’s still grinning. “May I propose a condition?”
“Depends what it is.”
“I choose the event.”
“Smashing. And if I win—you owe me at least a dozen unsolicited compliments.”
Chloe smiles. “Okay, you know that you’ve just solicited them, right? By definition?”
“You know what I meant, Detective. And to simplify things for you: any single compliment given in the presence of Dan or Amenadiel is worth two.” (Chloe rolls her eyes.) “Now: if you win—which, by the way, is a very unlikely event—what would you want from me?”
Lucifer clasps his hands together and leans against the table, fixing Chloe with an interested smile.
What does she want from him?
What does she want from him that won’t complicate their relationship further?
“For you to listen to me for a day. And that means doing what I ask. Even if what I ask is for you not to follow me somewhere.”
Lucifer’s smile stiffens slightly, as if this hadn’t been at all what he was expecting.
“Very well, Detective,” he agrees.
Chloe checks the time. 6:34. Four more days, four more nights, and six more hours of this: two single friends on a singles cruise together.
What could be more uncomplicated?
“Have you read your itinerary?” Lucifer asks, nabbing the last of Chloe’s champagne.
“Yeah,” Chloe says. She side-eyes him as he raises her glass to his mouth. “They’re having dance lessons on the deck tonight. Why?”
“Well, I might have misplaced mine.”
“By ‘misplaced,’ do you mean ‘stuck it in the shredder’?”
“Nothing so dramatic. I merely decided it was non-essential, and didn’t bring it along.”
“I’ll bite,” Chloe says. “Why isn’t it essential?”
“It’s simple, Detective. If I want to participate in planned events, I’ll follow the crowd.” Lucifer grins. “Or lead it.”
“If you’re so set on being Mr. Spontaneous, why’d you even agree to this trip?”
“It’s a singles cruise,” Lucifer says, as if the answer is obvious.
“Uh-huh. I get the idea.”
“Of course, now that I’ve found you here, my goal for the week has changed.”
“Don’t tell me,” Chloe says, holding up a hand. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“It’s a very good plan,” Lucifer says.
“That’s great for you. Now…” Chloe waves the hand she’s holding up as if to shoo away an insect, “keep it to yourself.”
“If you insist, Detective.”
“So are you going tonight? To the dance lesson, I mean.”
“I think I might. These people could learn a thing or two from me.”
“Of course, Detective. I’m talented in many domains.”
“So you say,” Chloe says.
“And what about you? I know you’re dying to dance.”
“I kind of thought I’d head down early, actually. To bed,” she adds, at Lucifer’s questioning look. “I don’t even want to know what Maze did to get me a cabin on my own, but I’m so glad I could kiss her.”
“I’d like to be the witness to that happy event.”
Chloe rolls her eyes and sets her fork across her emptied plate. “Anyway. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“What, that’s it? You’re just… leaving?”
“You’re already losing the bet.”
Lucifer sighs, exaggerated. “Goodnight, Detective.”
Chloe retreats to her cabin and changes into a sleep shirt and pair of shorts. She’d planned on having a little quiet time before sleeping, and Trixie (read: Dan) had bought her a little book of Sudoku puzzles. She sits down on one of the double beds, flips open the puzzle book, and stares. And taps her pen against her leg. And looks around the room. And why can’t she concentrate? It isn’t because she’s tired: she’s not. Her mind keeps wandering, and her heartbeat refuses to slow down to a rate anywhere near sleepy.
She forces herself to look back at the puzzle, but the numbers blur together. She writes a 3 in the upper right hand corner, and stares at it a little longer. Is that even right?
Chloe throws the pen down on the bed and snaps the book closed. She should probably just go to bed, but she doubts she’ll be able to sleep.
‘What, that’s it? You’re just… leaving?’
What else had he expected? Chloe shakes her head, trying to clear her mind of Lucifer, but it doesn’t work.
‘You’re already losing the bet.’
She isn’t actually. It hadn’t started yet. Still, that doesn’t mean that Chloe isn’t itching to prove him wrong. She isn’t the most hopeless dancer: she’d taken a few dance classes alongside her acting when she was younger.
She wonders idly where Lucifer had learned to dance.
Chloe leans forward, elbows on knees, and takes a deep breath.
Surely it wouldn’t hurt to join the rest of the cruise-goers on the deck for a little while. Maybe just for an hour.
Half an hour.
But not dressed like this.
When Chloe gets back to the deck she sees Lucifer immediately, dancing with a pretty brunette in the middle of the floor. She laughs as he twirls her around; Chloe can’t hear the sound from here, but she can see it in the woman’s eyes. She’s hypnotized by him in that way they all are.
One of his hands holds hers while his other rests against her lower back, holding her close to him. His fingers tangle in her long hair, and Chloe bites her lip.
This was a mistake.
He hasn’t seen her yet. She could leave. She could—
“Did you just get here?”
Chloe spins around and lands face-to-face with a man about her own height. Head tilted slightly, he seems amused by the look on her face.
“Oh. Yeah,” Chloe says, forcing casualness. “I thought, you know. Why miss this?” She gestures at the dance floor.
“Me too,” he says. “I tried to sleep, but I guess I wasn’t tired, so I dug up my dancing shoes, and… here I am. Looks like we missed the intro. I’m Scott, by the way,” he adds.
“Chloe,” Chloe says, shaking his hand.
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“Yeah, you too,” Chloe agrees. She offers him a genuine smile. “You know, I’m glad we got here at the same time.”
“You weren’t thinking about leaving again, were you?” Scott asks, feigning horrified.
“Oh—no. Not anymore, anyway.”
“Good,” Scott says, and grins. “So: will you be my dance partner?”
Chloe grins back. “I’d love to.”
Maybe she can meet someone here.
Chloe contemplates the idea as she dances with Scott. Their conversation had meandered from their jobs (he works as a sous-chef in his father’s Japanese restaurant) to their kids (he has one son, Alvin), to their favourite beverages (he doesn’t care for saké) to the reason they’d signed up for this cruise, all in the twenty minutes they’d been dancing together. He’s easy to talk to, and he listens, and at the moment Chloe is incredibly grateful for both of these things because it means she isn’t thinking about—
“That guy over there,” Scott says, as he spins her around in his arms. “Do you know him?”
“What guy?” Chloe says, pretending not to notice Lucifer trying to catch her eye.
“The one in the white suit. He keeps looking over here.”
“And I’m pretty sure he’s not looking at me.”
“You never know,” Chloe says seriously.
She’s not sure why she’s being evasive. She could easily mention that she knows Lucifer from work, and then change the subject. But she doesn’t want to talk about him at all. Hell, she’d agreed to this trip so that she could spend five days not thinking about him.
Well. Day one’s been a complete and utter failure on that front.
“Fair enough,” Scott agrees, and he laughs, and that’s the end of that—at least, for the time being.
The instructor calls for a break after another ten minutes, and Chloe leads Scott to a table at the side of the dance floor.
“Urgh,” Chloe groans.
“It’s White Suit Guy again,” Scott comments. “Seems like he wasn’t looking at me.” He gives Chloe a sideways smile.
“Yeah, sorry. He’s—”
“Detective!” Lucifer repeats jovially, coming to a stop in front of Chloe and Scott. “I knew you couldn’t resist a little fun.”
“Man, your name is Lucifer?” Scott asks.
Lucifer opens his mouth to answer, but Chloe cuts him off. “Lucifer, Scott. Scott, Lucifer. Lucifer, can I speak with you for a minute?” She stands up and grabs his arm, tugging him away from a very perplexed Scott.
“What’s wrong, Detective? Did I spoil your date?”
“It’s not a date.” Chloe thinks about it for a second. “Or, maybe it is. So maybe you did. Look. Just because we’re on the same trip doesn’t mean that we need to spend all of our time together. You were the one going on about meeting new people.”
“I have met new people!” Lucifer says. “Lovely Sherry over there has promised me another dance if you say no.”
“If I say no to—?”
“Dancing with me. Come on, Detective. Why d’you think I came over here? It certainly wasn’t for your new pal Scott, although he looks like he’s got a—”
“Okay!” Chloe interrupts, not wanting to know what Scott looks like he’s got.
“Was that an ‘okay, I’ll let you have the next dance’?”
“That was an ‘okay, enough.’ You…”
“You drive me crazy.”
“I do?” Lucifer looks pleased.
Chloe’s not sure why she’s so annoyed. Lucifer hadn’t even done anything. This is the second time today she’s snapped at him for no reason.
“Anyway, there won’t be a ‘next dance’ because I’m going to bed.”
Lucifer looks surprised. “But you were having fun with Scott.”
“I was. And now I’m tired. You can tell Sherry that you’re all hers.”
“Is that what this is about?”
“What?” Chloe asks, crossing her arms.
“My dance partner. You know, Detective—if you’d wanted to dance with me, all you had to do was ask.”
“I really didn’t.”
“Right,” Lucifer says knowingly.
“Okay. I’m going now.”
“What now, Lucifer?”
He gestures at the red sundress she’d picked out. “You look… lovely.”
The sincerity of his words catches her off-guard, and she smiles a little. “You know… I clean up okay.”
“Goodnight, Detective.” Lucifer smiles back at her. “For real, this time.”
Chloe nods a goodnight and heads back over to Scott, who’d been watching the couples on the dance floor reassemble.
“Hey, Scott. I’m, uh. Gonna head back down.” Chloe exaggerates a yawn. “I think I’m tired enough to sleep now. But I had a good time tonight.”
“Yeah, me too. Hey—sorry for asking, I mean, I know it’s personal, but—how’d it go with your ex?”
“That Lucifer guy. He’s your ex, right?”
Chloe stares for a second and then bursts out laughing. “Oh,” she says, making a considerable effort to calm herself and speak clearly, although she can’t help but let another laugh bubble up. “Oh, no, he’s… he’s a…” What is Lucifer, exactly? Partner? Coworker? “He’s a friend,” she finishes.
“And a pain in the ass,” Chloe adds, well aware that Lucifer is still within listening distance.
Scott looks relieved.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” Scott says, smiling again. “That would be nice.”
In the cabin, Chloe switches back into her sleep clothes, removes her makeup in front of the mirror, and lies down on the double bed.
When she closes her eyes, all she can see is Lucifer’s fingers tangled in Sherry’s long, long hair.
thank you so much for all of your comments on chapter one! <3 i appreciate every single one. this story will be a little slow-burn, so i hope that's your thing. please do let me know what you think! :-)
“You’ll never believe who my roommate is,” Scott says to Chloe when they meet for breakfast.
“Oh no,” Chloe says, aghast.
“Oh yeah. Funnily enough, I could have sworn someone else’s stuff was on the second bed yesterday, but then Lucifer shows up at 11PM with a suitcase and a shit-ton of weird questions.”
Chloe shakes her head and takes a deep breath. She’s going to kill him. “Unbelievable. I’m sorry, he just kind of… he does what he wants.”
“No way. It’s not your fault. Besides,” Scott grins, “any friend of yours is a friend of mine.”
“That’s sweet,” Chloe says. “Thank you, Scott.”
Scott shrugs. “So. Does he always start with the big questions? I mean, I’m a pretty open guy, but five minutes in and I’m telling him my deepest desires. Guy’s pretty compelling.” He laughs. “Kind of feel like he owns part of my soul now.”
What is Lucifer playing at?
“You didn’t, uh… happen to make any kind of deal with him, did you?”
“Deal? I don’t think so. Why?”
“Hmm?” Chloe says, leaning forward and resting her chin on her hand. “Oh, no reason. So, where is Lucifer?”
“He was still in bed, last I saw. The guy sleeps like a rock. I thought about waking him, but I mean. I barely know him. Didn’t want my head ripped off, you know? If he’d been a buddy of mine, I would have dumped a little water on his face.”
“Good idea. I might do that.”
“Hey. Are you going on the excursion today? Apparently we’re stopping for a few hours to walk along the beach, you know. Do touristy stuff.”
Chloe hadn’t really thought about it.
“I’m not sure. Did, uh. Did Lucifer mention if he was going?”
“No, but if you want to find out, you’re gonna have to wake him up.”
“I think I will.”
The idea of dumping water on a sleeping Lucifer is becoming more appealing by the second.
“We’re in number 4,” Scott says helpfully.
“Great. Thanks, Scott.”
“Yeah, of course. Let me know about the excursion, though, hey?”
Chloe knocks on door number 4.
“Lucifer,” she calls through the door. “It’s 11 AM.”
Still no answer.
Shrugging, Chloe pushes the door open.
“Where is he?” she mutters to herself. He never did turn up at breakfast. “And why do I care?”
“Talking to yourself, Detective?”
“Lucifer! Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“It was hardly ‘sneaking,’ Detective. This is where I sleep. It’s your presence here that’s more unexpected.”
“I thought I’d have to wake you up. I was considering a few different methods.” Chloe lifts up a hand and counts on her fingers. “Pouring water on your head. Hitting you with a pillow. Yelling ‘Lucifer, get up!’ right in your ear. And speaking of this room being where you sleep—it’s pretty coincidental you ended up sharing a cabin with my dance partner.”
“Oh, it wasn’t coincidental,” Lucifer says blithely. “I asked the captain to make a little switch for me.”
“I don’t trust him.”
“Yes, I mean—what’s he playing at? Really? The man is far too nice. It’s unnatural.”
“And if it is genuine—it’s boring. Far too boring to be deserving of your time, although I suppose boring is your type—”
“Hmm?” Lucifer says, stopping mid-sentence to give her a wide-eyed look.
“Shut up. I just came to ask if you were planning on going on that shore excursion today.”
“Well, what else would I do? Sit around on an empty boat all day?”
“Good,” Chloe says, and turns around to make her way back upstairs. “That’s what I hoped you’d say.”
Lucifer’s blocking her path in seconds. Damn his annoyingly long legs.
“What do you mean, ‘good’?”
Chloe crosses her arms and glares up at him.
“Are you trying to avoid me?” Lucifer asks, and damn his annoyingly expressive face.
“Remember the whole thing about—you know. Us spending time with other people.”
“Yes, but you don’t have to avoid me to do that.”
“Are you not going on the excursion?”
“Because I am?”
“Have you even considered that I might just want a little bit of time to myself?”
“Does ‘time to yourself’ entail ‘time with Scott’?”
“Okay! That’s it. Lucifer, get out of my way.”
Lucifer is so surprised that he steps immediately aside without arguing.
Chloe’s halfway up the stairs to the deck when Lucifer calls after her.
“Just remember, Detective. You were the one who came looking for me.”
Chloe doesn’t turn around. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean she wants to punch him any less.
“You and Lucifer must be close,” Scott says, some time after the excursion group has left.
He and Chloe had grabbed deck chairs in the sun and Chloe had dug up her puzzle book again. Despite her foul mood, she’d managed to put in a few more answers.
“Yeah,” Chloe says, without giving it much consideration. She frowns. “Well, not really. Sometimes. You know, it’s…. complicated.”
“But you work together.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, can we just… can we talk about something else?”
“Yeah, of course.” Scott looks concerned. “Are you okay? Did you guys have a fight?”
“Something like that.”
“I get it. You spend too much time with someone and you end up getting into fights about anything.” Scott winces. “Or maybe I’m projecting my failed marriage onto other people.”
Chloe laughs. “No, you’re right. Although with Dan and I, it was kind of the opposite.”
“He wasn’t around?”
Chloe thinks about her answer for a minute before speaking, squinting as she looks into the distance. The sun makes the water sparkle: it’s been years since she’d taken the time to notice.
“Not when it mattered.”
It’s late afternoon when the excursion group returns. With the help of a few mimosas and Scott’s presence, Chloe had calmed considerably, but her heart still skips a beat when she sees Lucifer in the crowd.
She’s pretty sure he sees her, too, but he doesn’t make a beeline for her.
As a matter of fact, he doesn’t acknowledge her at all.
At dinner, he sits with Sherry.
Chloe watches from Scott’s side as Lucifer tells a story that has his whole table in stitches. She can’t make out what he’s saying, just that he seems perfectly happy to be away from her and her irrational outbursts.
This is what you wanted, she reminds herself.
So why does she miss him so damn much?
There’s a band after dinner, but Chloe isn’t in the mood. Scott sticks around to listen, so Chloe bids him goodnight with a kiss on the cheek and retreats to her cabin. She finds her audiobook again, turning the volume up high enough that all she can hear of the band is the rhythm of the bass. Closes her eyes. Tries to focus on it. Tries not to think about Lucifer, til she’s entirely focused on not thinking about him.
Don’t think about Lucifer. Don’t think about Lucifer. Don’t think about Lucifer.
There’s a knock at the door. Chloe barely hears it; she pulls out the earbuds to make sure she isn’t just imagining things, and hears the knock again.
“Hi,” Chloe says, surprised, as she opens the door to find him standing there in the hallway.
“I was starting to think you’d fallen asleep already,” Lucifer says. “Either that or you were ignoring me.”
“I didn’t know it was you.”
Lucifer stands there awkwardly for a moment, as if there’s something he wants to say, but he can’t quite manage to get the words out.
“Do you want to come in?” Chloe asks.
“Do you want me to?”
Chloe answers the question by stepping aside.
She sits down on one bed; Lucifer sits down on the other. He’s carrying a large, brown paper gift bag with him, and sets it on the floor beside his feet.
“Throughout the day, I found myself thinking about our conversation earlier. It kept replaying in my mind—my own personal Hell. And I realized it was because… I regretted it.” Lucifer looks surprised at himself for saying this. “Not that the Devil has regrets,” he adds. “Regardless, I’d like to apologize. I was out of line this morning. What you do with your time, or who you spend it with, should be none of my concern.”
“Thank you,” Chloe says. Truth be told, she’d forgiven him seconds after she’d left him, but she isn’t going to tell him that. It’s nice to hear him take responsibility for being an ass.
Lucifer grins. “Now that that’s out of the way—I saw a few knick-knacks I thought you might like, and seeing as you weren’t there to purchase them yourself, I took the liberty of picking them up for you. Souvenirs, if you will.”
He pushes the paper bag across the small distance between the two beds.
“For you, Detective.”
He’d been thinking about her?
Chloe can’t help but laugh. Lucifer looks so excited, it’s as if he’s the one on the receiving end.
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
The bag is filled with individually wrapped objects. The first is a bottle of expensive tequila.
(“Are we allowed outside alcohol on this trip?”
“I won’t tell if you won’t, Detective.”)
The second is a bar of handmade lavender soap.
(“Did you know soap came in so many flavours? Who’d want to go around smelling like cherry Cola?”)
The third is one of those little vanity plate keychains that come engraved with popular names.
(“There was only one ‘Chloe’ left. I looked to see if they had one that said ‘Douche,’ you know, for your ex, but they must’ve been all sold out.”)
The fourth is a blue silk scarf.
(“Matches your eyes.”)
“Lucifer, this is so thoughtful,” Chloe says, feeling suddenly regretful she hadn’t joined the excursion just to hear Lucifer’s tirades about tacky souvenirs and inappropriate soap flavours. Instead, she’d wasted a day feeling upset that Lucifer was acting like Lucifer.
Somehow that wasn’t it, but Chloe doesn’t want to think about it. She crosses the space between them and gives Lucifer a hug. He hesitates for a moment and then his arms come up to wrap around her waist.
He never seems to expect hugs. Never seems to know what to do with them. At first, when it was Trixie, Chloe had just assumed that Lucifer was unsure of how to act around children. But now she’s pretty sure it goes deeper than that.
Maybe someday she’ll ask him.
“I should go,” Lucifer says, when Chloe pulls back.
“But I had a peek at Scott’s itinerary. I’ve chosen the event for our little competition.” Lucifer grins widely from the doorway, and Chloe can’t decide if what she feels is dread, or anticipation.
Maybe a little of both.
“What is it?”
“Tomorrow at noon,” Lucifer says. “Check for yourself. Goodnight, Detective. Sleep well.”
And then he’s gone.
“Tomorrow at noon,” she mutters to herself, and retrieves the itinerary from the outside pocket of her suitcase.
12:00 – 14:00: Speed Dating.
thanks again to everyone who has left kudos/comments on this fic so far! y'all are the real mvps, and this story is for you.
Chloe does speed-dating, with mixed results.
Noon comes a little sooner than Chloe is prepared for, but she disguises this from Lucifer with her most disarming smile when she meets him on the deck after brunch.
“Good morning, Detective,” Lucifer says with an answering grin. “Did you get enough rest? I could have sworn I heard you snoring from down the hall.”
“It’s noon,” Chloe tells him, ignoring his asinine remark.
“It’s eleven fifty,” Lucifer says. He holds out his phone so that Chloe can read the time on the screen. “We’ve got an entire ten minutes left of morning.”
“How will this work, exactly? Whichever one of one scores the most matches wins?”
“Of course.” Lucifer grins again. “I hope you’ve prepared for a crushing defeat. As you know, I have well and truly mastered the art of seduction.”
“Mm-hmm,” Chloe says, nodding. “You know, there is actually a difference between getting a woman into bed with you and getting her to agree to go on a date with you. Someplace actual conversation would happen.”
“If a woman wants to have sex with me, I’ll win the match. Nowhere does it say, ‘check this box for further conversation’—”
“—although I am a scintillating conversationalist.”
“Take a look around. Most people on this boat are forty-something divorcees. They’re not your usual Lux crowd. They’re not looking for a one-night stand. They’re looking for a life partner.”
Lucifer wrinkles his nose, which—Chloe thinks, despite herself—is an oddly adorable face on him.
She claps him on the shoulder, confidence boosted by his discomfort.
“Good luck. And—Lucifer?”
“Hmm?” he says, looking slightly nauseous.
Chloe leans in close to his ear. “Life partner,” she whispers again, and he flinches. It’s immensely satisfying. She pulls away, fingers lingering too long on his upper arm as she does. “May the best man win.”
Enough people had signed up that the event is divided into two groups. Chloe and Lucifer are placed in the same one, which is probably for the better: she can keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn’t get up to anything that would violate the terms of their little game. Not that this is a game—Chloe is very, very serious about winning. Anyway, just because they hadn’t decided on terms doesn’t mean that she won’t be able to tell if Lucifer is violating them. Best to keep him in her line of sight, just to be sure.
Their group of eight men and eight women means that each participant will have eight dates. Scott, unfortunately, had been split off into the other group. Chloe had been somewhat looking forward to a guaranteed point.
On a happier note, Lucifer’s dance partner from the first night is nowhere to be seen, so he doesn’t get a gimme either.
“Ladies, please take your seats!” the organizer says. “Your first date will begin when the bell chimes and your date sits down, and will end at the second chime, after which the men will shuffle one seat directly to their left. Rinse and repeat. Please keep an eye on your card throughout the event to ensure that you’ve marked down all matches. Mutual match cards will be delivered to your rooms this evening with the details of your interested partners.”
Apparently there’s a formal dinner tomorrow night. The organizer suggests brightly that it could be a perfect first date for mutual matches, and Chloe wonders idly how many people will take advantage of that. How many people actually meet their spouse on a cruise?
The bell chimes, and Chloe smiles automatically at the man seated across from her.
“Hey,” he says. “I’m Geoffrey.”
“Geoffrey,” Chloe says, “not Geoff?”
“Only my ex called me Geoff,” Geoffrey says, and winces immediately. “I didn’t mean to bring that up so soon in the conversation.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Chloe says, hand-waving it away. “Geoffrey it is. I’m Chloe.” She takes a quick look at him, detective’s eyes taking in everything from his wrinkled shirt—the buttons have been done up in the wrong holes—to his not-so-artfully unshaven face, to the sticky spot on his sleeve that looks suspiciously like breakfast syrup. Conclusion? Geoffrey is a disaster.
“Chloe?” he says, as if checking that he’d heard her right.
“Oh.” Geoffrey bites his lip. “My ex’s name is Cole.”
“Ah,” Chloe says. The ex again. “I can see how you might be reminded of her.”
“Oh—Cole’s a him.”
“Him?” Chloe frowns a little, glancing quickly to her left as if confirming that yes, she’s currently participating in a very straight speed-dating event.
She catches sight of Lucifer, though, and supposes he’d be just as game on either side of the table.
“Right,” she continues. “Should’ve guessed from the name.”
“No, no,” Geoffrey says. “It’s fine.”
His sad drawl reminds her distinctly of Eeyore, which is infinitely more pitiful than date-worthy.
“Right. So, uh.” Chloe reaches into thin air for a conversation topic and lands on: “Favourite board game?”
She’d asked this of Maze once and gotten eye-rolls and an eventual confession of a fondness for Jenga. A Trixie-approved answer.
“We used to play Monopoly,” Geoffrey says sadly.
“Mm-hmm,” Chloe says. “Okay. When did you break up, exactly?”
“Three weeks ago.”
“Right,” she says again. “Why don’t we talk about that?”
She and Lucifer hadn’t taken into account for their scoring that their matches had to be mutual matches. They wouldn’t even be notified of the non-mutual ones.
Which means that in order to have eight chances at scoring, Chloe has to mark all eight partners down as matches.
Something which Lucifer will almost certainly have no problem doing.
Chloe, on the other hand, cannot in good conscience mark Cole’s bedraggled ex-beau down in the ‘want to hear from again’ column.
Her chances go from eight to seven as she gives Geoffrey a sympathetic smile and watches him shuffle to the left.
Ben introduces himself as a family doctor who collects old medical journals.
“The care that was put into illustrating old articles is breathtaking,” he tells Chloe. “As a matter of fact, I almost went to school for medical illustration. Do you have any collections?”
Does she? She lives with Trixie’s collection of stuffed animals and Maze’s collection of sex toys, but Chloe’s never really seen the appeal of gathering up large amounts of stuff.
“Just closed cases,” she says.
Ben nods. “You must be a good cop.”
“I’ve heard that the hours police officers keep can be rough, though.”
Yes—the job killed my marriage, Chloe doesn’t say.
“They can be,” she says, hoping that’ll be enough to shut this down.
Unfortunately, Ben seems interested in pursuing this line of conversation.
“On cop shows, lots of relationships fail because one partner is over-working. Putting their job before their family.”
“I put my family first,” Chloe says, a tad defensively. “I have a daughter. Trixie. She means more than me than anything else in the world, my job included.”
“Oh no, I understand!” Ben says. “I work ten hour days in the clinic. Balancing work and family takes effort, but it can be done.”
“I often draw up schedules so that I know exactly when I have time for each different responsibility, be it work-related, or family-related. You know, ‘Saturday from 10 til 11, grocery shop—with a list,’ and then ‘from 11 til 12, make lunch with the kids’—here,” he adds, pulling out his phone. “I’ll show you.”
“Oh, that’s—that’s fine, really,” Chloe says.
“How do you do it?” Ben asks. “Balance your life?”
“Uhh, hey,” Chloe says, noticing the design on Ben’s phone case. “How about the Dodgers?”
“You like baseball?” Ben says, lighting up even more than he had when he’d volunteered to show Chloe his life schedule.
“Sure,” Chloe says, nodding repeatedly. “Please. Spare no detail. Tell me all of your thoughts about it.”
Rounds Three to Six
This trip, Chloe decides, is full of immensely boring men. Number three, Eugene, is almost as hung up on his ex as Eeyore-Geoffrey had been. Number four, Max, is Scottish and—despite his charming accent—talks about nothing other than his model boat collection for the duration of their conversation. Number five, Richard, offers to show her a ‘Dick pic’ which, as far as she knows, might have been his take on a witty way of offering up a selfie he’d taken with his dog. Who knows? Still, Chloe had opted not to risk it. Number six, Matthieu, calls her “mon chou”, which she might have found endearing if he hadn’t also sneezed every other sentence without covering his mouth.
As Matthieu shuffles to the left, Chloe makes a desperate wish for her final two dates to pass the test.
“My favourite painter is Farideh Lashai,” Amir tells her, “but I also love Franz Kline and much of Willem de Kooning’s work. How about you?”
Chloe is beginning to realize she doesn’t have hobbies. Don’t normal people have hobbies? Normal people have favourite artists, favourite actors, favourite TV shows, favourite everything. Chloe just has favourite people.
“I like, uh. Hmm. Does sculpture count?”
“Oh, good,” Chloe says, relieved. “Okay. In Chicago. The, uh… Bean?” She gestures with her hands as she speaks. “It’s, um… big, and you can walk under it. When my ex and I visited Chicago, my daughter had a lot of fun making faces in it, because it’s like a funhouse mirror.”
“Cloud Gate,” Amir says. “By Anish Kapoor.”
“Yes,” Chloe says, nodding as if the name had great meaning to her.
Amir smiles. “We don’t have to talk about art. It’s only my default conversation topic because I’m a sculptor.”
“Art is great! Really!” Chloe says. “I just don’t know a lot about it. You know? I was never very good at drawing, I mean… my daughter’s stick people are probably better than mine.”
“You don’t have to draw to be good at art,” Amir says with a laugh. “I hear so many people say things like ‘I can’t even draw a straight line’… but correctness isn’t the purpose of art. It’s expression. It’s taking an idea and just… letting it out, in whatever form you see fit.” He pulls a paint marker from his pocket and holds out his hand. “May I?”
“Okay,” Chloe says, and places her open hand in Amir’s.
“It’s like this,” he says, and draws a wiggly diagonal line—blue—from the base of her index finger to her wrist. “Right now I am feeling… curious. This is how I express it.” He pulls another marker from the pocket of his windbreaker.
“Do you always bring those with you?” Chloe asks.
Amir just smiles and uses the black paint marker to dot one side of the line. It tickles a little, and Chloe smiles back. “These dots represent every person on this trip. They’re all searching for something. They feel incomplete. That’s why they’re here.” He draws one yellow dot on the other side of the line.
“What’s that?” Chloe says. “The sun?”
“You,” Amir says.
“Why am I a yellow dot?”
“Because you’re different,” Amir says simply. “I can tell. You’re brighter than anyone else here. You’re not one who’s searching. You’re what everyone else is searching for.”
“Oh,” Chloe says, flattered. “That’s really sweet, Amir. Thank you.”
Amir sets the markers down on the table. “There you have it,” he says. “That’s what art is about.”
Chloe looks down at the palm of her hand—and then reaches for the black marker.
“My turn,” she says, and Amir grins.
“Saved the best for last,” Lucifer says.
“Oh—me?” Chloe says innocently. “I know.”
“I meant me, of course.”
Chloe grins. “Well, I don’t know about that. You have a lot of competition.”
A big fat lie, but he can’t know it.
“As do you,” Lucifer says, feigning offence.
Chloe is actually a little worried about that—not that she’s gonna show it.
“What’s that on your hand?”
“This?” Chloe says, resting her hand palm-up on the table so that Lucifer can see the paint. “Artwork, courtesy of lovely Amir over there.” She gestures with her chin.
“Artwork?” scoffs Lucifer. “I could make better ‘artwork’ with my—”
“Well, I like it,” Chloe interrupts. “I think it’s beautiful. You know, not all art is about correctness, Lucifer. It’s about meaning. And this painting has a very sweet meaning.”
“Well? Spill the beans, Detective! What does it mean?”
“Not telling,” Chloe says. She brings her hand up to her heart. “It’s personal.”
“Personal?” splutters Lucifer. “It’s a line and some dots—and hardly of Kandinsky’s caliber.”
“Is that a painter?”
“Wassily Kandinsky,” Lucifer says dismissively. “One of the first abstract painters. All lines and dots.”
“I didn’t know that you knew about art,” Chloe says, interested.
“I’m the Devil, Detective. I know about everything. Hell gets all sorts, you know.”
“Right,” Chloe says, realizing something. “I’m the yellow dot.”
“What? In Amir’s painting?” Lucifer says, pronouncing Amir’s name disdainfully, as if the man had personally vandalized his home.
Amir is right. She isn’t searching. She already knows what she wants. She just hadn’t wanted to admit it to herself.
“Yeah,” Chloe says carefully. “Don’t worry about it.” She pats Lucifer on the hand. “It’s personal.”
She looks down at her match card and marks a single X.
sorry for taking a million years to update! many Life Things have been happening. there will probably be about 2 more chapters til this fic is complete - really hope you'll continue to read! comments are always, always appreciated as i am a Very Insecure Writer!
you can find me on tumblr @lesbidar if you'd like! thanks for all of your support <33