“Detective! To what do I owe the pleasure of your dulcet tones?”
Chloe grinned in spite of herself, tucking her phone under one ear as she flipped through the case file on her desk. “Morning, Lucifer. Sorry, it’s not a social call - we’ve got a case.”
“Oh dear. That is unfortunate.”
Chloe sat up a bit. “What? You usually jump at the chance to work a new case.”
“Yes, well, I don’t usually have my stick in the mud brother wandering off somewhere with the final piece of the Flaming Sword.”
“Wait. Amenadiel has the piece?”
“Indeed; things got a bit revelatory last night. I was just about to call you.”
“Okay…” Chloe took another sip of her coffee, trying to get her sluggish brain to work through the implications. “Well, could you come meet me at the crime scene maybe, get me up to speed? Unless you find him in the meantime.”
She trusted his word, but had also spent the previous night in a state of mild panic, worried that at any second she’d receive the message: they’d succeeded, the Sword was complete, and they were off to assault Heaven. She admitted a little guiltily to wanting to see her partner in the flesh. If it also had the added effect of delaying the Sword’s assembly, she wasn’t going to argue with that, either.
A sigh rustled down the line, and she couldn’t tell whether it was directed at her or the situation in general. “Very well, Detective. Text me the details; I’ll see you later.”
“Great. Thanks, Lucifer.”
“So what happened last night?” Chloe asked Lucifer once he’d arrived. She forced down the urge to kiss him, since they were at work. At a grisly crime scene. Down, girl.
Lucifer grimaced. “Well, Amenadiel can read Sumerian, so he was working on translating the book. Turns out his necklace was the final piece of the Flaming Sword - the key that binds the other pieces together. Bloody figures.”
Chloe’s eyes widened. “Wow.”
“That about sums it up. Now he needs to ‘process,’ so he’s gone, and Mum’s losing it even more than usual.”
They walked together into the warehouse, not bothering to stop their conversation. It wasn’t like they hadn’t said crazier things around their coworkers before. Or at least Lucifer hadn’t. Lucifer was still on his phone, presumably trying to contact his brother.
“This is ridiculous,” he groused. “You have experience with emotionally fragile men, don’t you?”
The dig was too good to pass up. “You’re self-aware today.”
Lucifer looked at her, face set in annoyance, but there was the slightest amount of doubt in his eyes that Chloe hastened to assuage away with a teasing smile. Sure, Lucifer was volatile and insecure, but he had good reason to be.
“No, I meant Dan,” he said, the uncertainty dropping away, and Chloe playfully rolled her eyes. “Anyway, how do you stop them from overthinking everything?”
“I wish I knew,” she said, looking at the chief overthinker in her life. Lucifer made another face as he sent the text.
“I mean, leave it to Amenadiel to turn a compliment into something to angst over. He should be happy he’s Dad’s favourite.”
Chloe stopped walking. “Wait, what?”
Lucifer turned back, realizing she wasn’t beside him. “Oh, that’s the best part of all this. The book said that God entrusted the key to his favourite son.”
Chloe shook her head. “That’s awful. Are you sure that’s what it said?” She didn’t want to cast aspersions on Amenadiel’s translation ability, but as a parent the notion of playing favourites between children filled her with horror.
An odd light entered Lucifer’s eyes, but he shrugged. “I suppose my brother could have made an error in translation, but at this point it hardly matters. He believes it, and now he’s refusing to complete the Sword.”
Chloe secretly cheered for Amenadiel, but they couldn’t discuss it any further. They had a murder to investigate.
“Body dump,” Ella called as they approached. Lucifer lifted the police tape for Chloe automatically, and she thanked him with a smile. “Weird one, too, and not just ‘cause of the whole buck-naked, deep-fried head thing.”
Chloe surveyed the scene with a frown - it was one of the more gruesome bodies she’d seen in a while.
“Someone also shaved this poor guy’s entire body,” Ella continued, gesturing to the victim’s unnaturally smooth skin, which Chloe hadn’t noticed before due to the horrible state of his head and shoulders.
“Well, maybe our killer’s just chaetophobic,” Lucifer chimed in. “Fear of hair,” he explained, before anyone could ask. “Always fun when they turn up in Hell. Lots of wigs involved.”
Before she’d learned the truth, Chloe had grown accustomed to the random factoids of varying relevance Lucifer would throw out, but this was the first one she’d had to deal with while in possession of full context. Lucifer was still distracted with his phone, or she thought he wouldn’t have been quite so cavalier about it. He sent her an apologetic look, and Chloe shrugged, pushing aside her slew of new questions to be dealt with later.
Ella also ignored the interjection. “But I’m pretty sure-” She sniffed at the corpse, and Chloe made a face. She was a cop, and dealing with dead bodies was an unpleasant part of her job that she endured. She would never be able to fathom Ella’s casual relationship with death. “This guy got a bath in bleach.”
Chloe’s focus sharpened. “So, whoever dumped him is a pro.”
“It’s like he just vanished off the face of the Earth,” Lucifer commented, and it took a second for Chloe to realize he was probably referring to Amenadiel, not the case.
Ella, however, had no such insight. “I know. But it’s pretty tough to cover every track.”
“If anyone can find something, it’s you, Ella,” Chloe said, feeling badly for not having given Ella’s expert analysis the attention it deserved.
“Oh, that is so sweet!” Ella exclaimed, jumping up to hug her. “You know, you’re not so much with the nice words, but when they come out…”
Before Chloe could ask what exactly the other woman meant by that, Lucifer interrupted.
“Yes, well, until you do find something,” he said, looking briefly at Ella, “I’ve got some personal business I need to tend to.” And then he was walking away before Chloe could call him back, not that she thought it would do any good. She was just happy he’d agreed to come at all.
Ella looked after Lucifer’s retreating form with concern. “Hey, is Lucifer okay?” she asked.
“Yeah.” Chloe hesitated, trying to come up with an explanation that wouldn’t sound like complete nonsense. “I think he just wants to check up on his brother.”
Ella nodded with sudden comprehension. “Ahh. Totally get that, yeah. You’re such a sweetie for letting him go deal with his family stuff.”
Chloe shrugged. “Not like he gave me much of a choice,” she muttered, and the other woman gave her a sympathetic look that seemed to say, Lucifer, right? before returning to her task.
Chloe wasn’t so sure. She bit her lip. The way he’d practically fled the scene without so much as a backward glance, after how close and open they’d been lately, stung more than it usually would.
Shaking herself, she turned her attention back to the crime scene for the time being. She trusted Lucifer, and he’d promised that he wouldn’t leave without telling her.
Lucifer made his way to Linda’s office, still fuming over Amenadiel’s behaviour. He knew his sudden departure had surprised the Detective, but the way Amenadiel had taken the news of Dad’s favouritism concerned him. He hadn’t forgotten that Amenadiel was only on Earth in the first place to send him back to Hell, and while Amenadiel seemed to have given up on that directive, Lucifer didn’t like the thought of what Amenadiel could get up to if left to his own devices. His silence was worrying.
Lucifer didn’t think Linda would have any leads on his brother’s whereabouts, but he felt the need to check, given that Linda was the only other human who knew the truth about Celestials.
He pounded on the door when he arrived, after trying the handle and finding it uncharacteristically locked. The door opened a crack, and Linda peered out. “Doctor,” he said.
“Hi, Lucifer,” Linda greeted him in a nonchalant tone. “What’s up?” She made a strange face.
Something was going on, but Lucifer couldn’t spend time worrying about it. “I’m wondering if you’ve seen Amenadiel,” he said, already anticipating what the answer was going to be.
“Nope. Haven’t seen that family member, no,” Linda replied with a few leading jerks of her head, and Lucifer frowned.
“Can you stop being weird and just let me in?” He pushed past her into the room and was suddenly confronted with the sight of his Mother.
“Mum,” he said in surprise. He knew he’d introduced the two women, but even with his Mother’s erratic behaviour, if he were to make a list of places he wasn’t expecting to see her, Linda’s office would be near the top. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, you know,” his Mother hedged, and Lucifer’s instincts were immediately roused. He noticed she was still in her clothes from the day before, which was unlike her. “Girl stuff.”
“Naked girl stuff?” Lucifer made the obvious joke to throw them off the scent, turning to leer at Linda. “Doctor Linda, I had no idea.” Linda laughed awkwardly as he saw what was behind her: a massive burned hole in the wall that, unless he very much missed his guess, she’d placed herself in front of specifically to draw his attention. “What is that?” He pointed at the damage. There was a tense silence.
He rounded on his Mother, discarding all attempts at levity. “All right, out with it, Mother.”
The Goddess tried to play it off. “It’s nothing.” She shrugged. “That spoiled brat Chet Ruiz stabbed me, and now I’m bleeding light; it’s no big deal.”
For a moment, the eons between them melted away, and Lucifer was just a son full of concern for his Mother. “What?” He went to inspect the site she was holding her hands in front of. “That’s a huge deal!” He found her middle rather bafflingly bound with duct tape before she batted his hands away and hid her stomach from view once again.
Belatedly, he began to work through the implications. “Mum, if your powers are returning to this degree, then your human body won’t be able to contain it. You’ll...” He paused as it sank in. “You’ll burst. Oh no.” His Mother stared back at him, stoic. “I need to find Amenadiel, now,” he said, already heading for the door.
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Mum called after him. “I mean, it’s bad enough that you’ll be worried…” He turned back to face her.
“No, that’s just it, Mum. Amenadiel has the missing piece of the Sword.”
The change that came over the Goddess was striking. Her features turned soft with joy, and she stumbled over her words. “You’re- you’re kidding.” A wide, artless smile spread across her face, her sincerity somehow more worrisome to Lucifer because of how rare it was. “Son, why didn’t you say something?” Because, at least in part, he’d known that this would be her reaction, he wanted to yell. “Now we can finally ignite it and cut through the Gates of Heaven, and I can see my… I can - I can see my children.”
With each word Lucifer’s disquiet grew. He had no doubt that his Mother’s emotion was genuine, but her sincerity was almost worse than her guile, because her excitement made her unpredictable. She spoke as if he wasn’t in on the plan at all, much less an integral part of it. Suddenly her recent desperation made all too much sense, and he feared what it would drive her to do.
“Yes,” he replied, working on a plan to salvage the situation before it got any worse. “Yes, but for now, I need to find Amenadiel, and you need to stay away from humans.” He indicated her stomach. “You’re a ticking bomb.”
This time, he nearly had the door open before his Mother said, offhanded, “Actually, speaking of that, I may have already harmed someone.” She laughed a little, even as she chose her words with great care, and Lucifer felt a dull thud as the pieces fell together.
“Oh no,” he said. He closed the door again, staring at the burned hole on the wall; Linda, nearly forgotten, still stood in the same place with her mouth open. “No, no, no.” He whirled on his Mother. “I just came from a crime scene. The man with a burned head. Please tell me that wasn’t Chet.” He hoped beyond hope, even though he already knew what the answer would be.
His Mother, as requested, didn’t tell him, but her expression said enough. A cold knot wormed its way through his insides. “The Detective is on that case!” he exclaimed, too disturbed by the implications to worry about whether or not he ought to reveal Chloe’s involvement.
“Well, not to worry,” his Mother snapped, back to her usual self. “I had a pro clean up the mess.”
Unfortunately, her usual self was still as oblivious as ever. “You don’t understand - the Detective is good,” he said, with growing apprehension. “Annoyingly good,” he added, thinking of all the times he would have liked her to have been even just slightly less so (and pointedly not thinking about the times it had worked to his advantage).
“Well, then we just need to find Amenadiel, don’t we?”
“And get the piece.” His Mother stated the obvious.
“Because if we don’t get you back to Heaven before the Detective gets to you, then she is quite literally toast,” Lucifer finished, breaking his cardinal rule of never revealing how much he cared about Chloe around his Mother.
The flippant pun was as close as he could safely come to revealing his true fear; Lucifer clenched his jaw as he was assaulted by the image of Chloe, dead with her head broiled like Chet’s, which was going to have a place of honour in his nightmares from now on. The stakes had suddenly become all too real; what little patience he’d had for his brother’s equivocation was gone. It was time for desperate measures.
“Right, Mum, get in the car,” he ordered. “I’m taking you back to Lux so you don’t hurt anyone else.” As his Mother shrugged and did as she was bid, he turned to Linda, who was looking quite shell shocked by the day’s events.
“Doctor Linda, so sorry for all the trouble,” he told her gently. “I’ll pay for someone to fix your wall… again.” The thought of his Mother and the potential for her to create disaster had him rushing out the door before he could reassure her further. He’d make sure to apologize properly to her later.
But even that moment was one too many. When he stepped out into the hallway, his Mother was gone, vanished without a trace, though he searched all the way down to his car. He fought the urge to tear his hair out, already texting Maze that he needed her to expand her search. He headed to the precinct. A single thought had crystallized in his head, leaving no room for anything else.
Protect Chloe. No matter the cost.