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(Don't) Put Your Arms Around Me

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Lucifer knew he shouldn't've bloody knocked. Waltzing in like he owned the place was a much better entrance than dragging a little monster attached to his leg. He braced himself for her attack.

"Whoa there, monkey." Chloe snagged the back of Beatrice's shirt, bringing her to an abrupt stop. "Remember what we talked about?"

Beatrice sighed, deep and heartfelt, and turned back to Chloe. "But Mommy, it's Lucifer! He always lets me hug him."

"Let might be a strong word," he said, still braced for her to latch onto him like a particularly tenacious leech.

The child turned an impressive pout on him. It was almost as good as his own. Almost. He should give her some pointers someday.

"Lucifer likes it when I hug him, right Lucifer?" she asked, batting her eyelashes most ineffectively at him.

"I most certainly do not," he said, edging around both Chloe and her spawn, ignoring their quiet conversation as he went to the kitchen. He rummaged through the cabinets, pulling out the old tea Chloe kept in lieu of alcohol.

"Go finish getting ready," Chloe was saying, pushing her spawn toward her bedroom before coming to lean against the counter next to him.

"Why are you in my house, Lucifer?" Chloe asked, acting like his presence wasn't a gift. It was quite frustrating, her unwillingness to fall for his charms.

He took a sip of tea — horrid stuff, truly — and frowned. "Certainly not for the tea options. Really, Detective, would it be so much trouble to keep a tin of good tea here for me?"

"I wouldn't want to encourage you," she said, rolling her eyes. "What do you want?"

He smirked over the rim of the mug and took another sip. No, it wasn't getting any better. He casually put the mug down and leaned back against the counter. He really needed to start coming up with excuses to come see her before he was actually in the house.

"A ride!" he said. "I've come to offer to escort you to work."

She looked between him and the mug, raising her eyebrow. Of course she wasn't going to let that go. A distressingly warm feeling filled him when she teased him. He didn't know quite what it was, but he was alternately drawn to and repulsed by it. It was dangerous, and not in a good way; he knew that much.

"Uh huh," she said. "And when you get bored and go back to Lux, what, am I supposed to get a ride from Dan?"

He grimaced. No, he didn't want to push her into the arms of Detective Douche. And besides, "I wouldn't just leave you behind! I'm not you, after all."

"You deserved it every time," she said. "You need to leave so I can finish getting ready-"

"Oo," he said, eyes lighting up. "I could give you a hand with that."

Her eyes narrowed for a second, before she slowly smiled. "You know what?" she asked, not waiting for him to reply before continuing with, "You can help me with something."

He could feel his entire body pulling bowstring tight, anticipation and wonder already drowning him. The effect she had on him was like nothing else. And even though he knew she was just teasing, he couldn't help but hope.

"Yes, Detective?" he purred, both of them turning, him bending and her standing on tip-toe so she could whisper in his ear, her hot breath sending a shiver down his spine.

"You could..." she started and paused, drawing out the moment. He was holding his breath, waiting, when she suddenly stepped back, leaving him hanging there, and said levelly, "make Trixie lunch while I go change."

He sighed and straightened. No matter how many times she did that, he'd fall for it every one. "Of course. What does she eat, kibble?" He was only sort of teasing.

"There's sandwich meat in the fridge, below the juice boxes. Don't forget to cut off the crusts." With that, she left for her room.

He pulled out ham and some... ugh, American cheese. Really, he needed to introduce them both to real food. Maybe a nice dinner at-

"Are you making my lunch, Lucifer?" And there she was, like a bad penny. Surprising, that she was scrambling up onto a chair and not grabbing at him with her sticky fingers.

"Apparently," he said, assembling the sandwich and getting out a knife.

He was about to cut it when she shrieked, "No!"

He absolutely did not jump and whirl around, ready to attack whatever was threatening her. But she was just looking at him, frowning.

"You have to cut it in triangles," she ordered. "It tastes better."

He looked at her dubiously. "Shape makes sandwiches taste better."

She nodded and grinned. "Did your mommy make them the gross way?"

"Not exactly," he said, sidestepping the subject and turning back to the sandwich, cutting it into triangles as requested. Were all children this troublesome about sandwiches?

After a moment of silence, Beatrice said, "I'm sorry for hugging you."

He looked back at her, and she was poking at a spot on the table. There was a new, uncomfortable feeling in his chest. Bloody human emotions.

"It's alright, child," he found himself saying.

"Mommy says you should only touch people that want to be touched," she continued even though he hadn't asked.

"Well that's-" he started, at a loss for what to say. "That's very thoughtful."

"Can I have a juice box?" she asked, like she hadn't been... upset? Sad? Having an emotion ten seconds before.

He grabbed one and put it in front of her just when Chloe was coming back.

"Thanks," she said, grabbing up the sandwich and another juice box. "Time to go, Trix."

"You're sure I can't give you a ride, Detective?" he asked, only pouting a little. Just enough that she might take pity on him and change her mind, but not enough that she'd know he was actually kind of sad about it. That was two opportunities to have her all to himself that he was missing.

"You really want to let Trixie in your car and drop her off at school?"

She had a point.

"Very well then, I shall see you at the station," he said. Beatrice waved at him, still greedily sucking down her juice. As he left, he took one last glance back at them, Chloe chivvying Beatrice out of the chair and into a coat, and felt something that was uncomfortably close to jealousy, which was ridiculous.

He was the Devil. He could have anything he wanted. He didn't need to feel jealous of anything when he could just go and have a just-as-good substitute.

Lucifer stood in front of Chloe's house, wincing at the shrieks coming from inside. There were... children in there. Lots of them, by the sound of it. The Devil didn't do children, so why he'd found himself agreeing to stop by Trixie's birthday party was a mystery. One minute he was watching Chloe talk, thinking about all the things he'd rather be doing with her than sitting on a stakeout. The next, she was saying, "So you'll come?" and he was nodding before his brain caught up to what she was talking about.

A child's birthday party was not where he wanted to come.

Before he could turn tail and walk away swiftly, Maze pushed past him with Amenadiel on her heels. Rude.

"Rude!" he said before going to catch up with them and knock on the door.

He could hear Beatrice screaming, "I'll get it!" and then what sounded like an entire herd of children pounding toward the door.

"Maze!" Beatrice shouted as she flung the door open and barreled into her. Lucifer took a discreet step back, making sure he was holding her present in front of him.

The three other children crowding the doorway looked the group of them over and clearly decided they were boring before stampeding away. Lucifer wasn't sure whether he was offended or relieved.

Amenadiel had knelt to hug Beatrice back — of course he had, the sap — when she turned her attentions to him. Then she turned to Lucifer, and he braced himself for her attack.

"Hi Lucifer!" she said, beaming up at him. That was new. The whole, not hugging him thing.

"Hello child," he said warily, glancing over to Maze and then glowering at her amused look. That was uncalled for.

Beatrice went to peek into the gift bag he held, but before she could, Chloe was there, shooing her back inside. There was a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach as he watched her go, something uncomfortable and foreign.

"Thanks for coming," Chloe said. "Present pile is over there — please tell me no one brought anything inapp-" she paused and looked closely at the three of them. Lucifer endeavored not to look guilty.

"Who am I kidding," she sighed, pointing to them each in turn. "Yours is too expensive, yours is too sharp, and yours-" she paused at Amenadiel. "Okay, yours might be okay. Go, adult drinks are in the kitchen."

Maze and Amenadiel made a beeline to drop off their presents, but he hung back with Chloe, who was looking at him expectantly when he stuck to her side.

"Is-" he started before he thought better of it. "Never mind. I'll just go put this over there, shall I?" he asked instead, lifting the bag.

But Chloe's hand on his arm stopped him. "Is what?" she asked quietly. When he looked for Amenadiel and Maze, they were already in the kitchen, and the yelling of the children playing some sort of game would cover his words.

"Is your spawn..." he paused, looking for the right words, finally settling on the less-than-elegant, "angry with me?"

He was officially pathetic. Pining after a woman who wanted nothing to do with him, sexually, and concerned with her spawn's feelings toward him anyway.

"What? Trixie adores you," she said, her brow furrowed. Something crashed in Beatrice's room, amidst shrieks of laughter, and she winced. "Hang on."

Why people ever allowed more than one child into the same place was mystifying. He wandered over to the pile of presents on the couch and dropped his. When he turned around, Chloe was right there, and he took a startled step back.

"Why would you think Trix was mad at you?" she asked, and really, he shouldn't have said anything.

"It's not important, Detective," he said and clapped his hands together. "Now, how many birthday shots does young Beatrice get?"

"Zero," Chloe said, an amused tilt to her features. "That's not how birthdays work for the under-21 set."

"Pity," he said, distracted. She was smiling up at him, her eyes soft and full of a warm happiness that he really hoped had to do with his presence. He wanted nothing more than for her to look at him like that always, than for him to be the cause of such happiness.

He wanted to bend down and kiss her, not as a prelude to sex, but just because she was so beautiful and she made him so happy just by being there. He might've done it, too, had she not suddenly stepped away.

"Um," she said, nodding over her shoulder. "I should go... get the cake out."

Like throwing chum in the water, the small children were swarming over them at the word "cake". Chloe was laughing and shepherding them to the table. He watched her go, something in his heart aching.

Lucifer slammed into Dr. Linda's office, letting the door close behind him with a loud bang. She looked up from where she was filling out-

"Paperwork? Really?" he asked, sitting down on the couch, making sure not to wrinkle his suit. "What is it with humans and their obsession with paperwork?"

"Bureaucracy makes the world go round, I suppose," she said, not looking up from whatever she was writing.

"No, my Father makes the world go round," he scoffed. "Or, well, he gave it the push it needed, back in the day. Bureaucracy has nothing to do with it."

"It's an expression, Lucifer," she told him and finally looked up. He waggled his eyebrows when she gave him a once-over, but she didn't respond. Bloody hell, was his power fading? First Chloe, and now Dr. Linda... but that reminded him why he had come to see her, and he sat up straighter.

"I think there's something wrong with the Detective's spawn," he announced and sat back, waiting for Dr. Linda to tell him what to do.

Unfortunately, as had been true for some time now, she refused to give him straight answers. Really, the entire process could be sped up by so much if she would only give him the answers outright instead of making him work to figure them out himself. It was ridiculous.

"Okay," she said slowly and got up to move to her chair in front of him. "And what makes you think this?"

"Well," he said, suddenly aware that he was going to sound ridiculous. "She's stopped... hugging me whenever she sees me."

He wanted to squirm in his seat as Dr. Linda stared at him, openly considering her words. In retrospect, maybe it hadn't been a good idea to come here. He could have brought up his concerns with Chloe, or just not said anything. After all, he didn't even like the spawn, so why should he be concerned over her welfare, beyond that it might upset Chloe if she died.

"Ah, this was a mistake," he said, going to stand and leave. But Dr. Linda motioned him back down and he found himself obeying.

"You say she's stopped hugging you," she said when he had resettled. "You know, as humans, we tend to focus more on the negative than the positive."

He stared at her, trying to figure out where to start with that drivel. "I'm not, though. Human. I'm the Devil, remember"

"Oh, of course," she said. "How could I forget?"

"I'm pretty remarkable, I know," he said, grinning. "Now can we please focus on the problem? The other day the Detective asked me to-" he shuddered "-pick Beatrice up from school, and she barely even said hello before getting in the car!"

"Many children stop being as free with their affection as they grow older, especially around their peers," she said, which was also ridiculous. Beatrice was just as free with her affection with everyone else. It was only him who had become some sort of pariah. It should be comforting, knowing that he wouldn't have to get his clothing cleaned of grubby child fingerprints every time he saw her. And yet...

"No, you don't understand, she always hugs me. I hate it," he tried to explain. Couldn't she see how worrisome this was?

"You hate it," Dr. Linda said flatly, leaning forward a bit, which drew him in closer. "Have you considered, Lucifer, that you don't hate it?"

"What," he said, shrinking back against the sofa.

"That you don't hate it," she repeated, like that was going to make her words any more true. He was the Devil, he didn't do... closeness. Why did he have to keep reminding people of that?

"Of course I hate it," he snapped. "Do I need to go into the reasons why? It starts with sticky fingers grabbing me and ends with me having to drag around a... a human-sized leech, attached to my leg. Tell me, what is there to like about that?"

It had been a rhetorical question — he really didn't want to know if there were things to like about that — but Dr. Linda answered anyway.

"Have you considered," she started, and he could already tell he didn't like where this was going, "that this front you put up to protect yourself from harm is hurting the people closest to you?"

"Beatrice is in no way close to me," he said. "No one is. I'm the Devil for pity's sake. Why do I have to keep reminding you people of that?"

"Being the Devil doesn't mean you have no feelings," she said as he shook his head in exasperation. "And," she continued over his noise of disagreement, "could it be that Beatrice's rejection of you is hurting because you don't find her as appalling as you insist that you do?

"Are you ill?" he demanded. "That's a load of- That couldn't be further from the-" He sputtered, trying to come up with an appropriately venomous response that would change the topic.

"Have you talked to her or Chloe about this?" Linda asked, without the decency of giving him time to collect his thoughts on the topic.

"What? No, of course not," he snapped. "The last thing I need is for her to look at me like I'm-" he clamped his lips shut before they could betray him any more. Chloe looked at him like he had gone mad often enough; he didn't need to provide more fuel for that fire.

"Well if you truly believed something was wrong with Beatrice, wouldn't you want to tell Chloe?" Curse her and her logic. He didn't come here for this.

"I-" he said, and fell silent. Dr. Linda took that as permission to continue, which it most certainly was not.

"Lucifer," she said, leaning forward a little, "when was the last time someone hugged you?"

He leered at her, but his heart wasn't in it when he said, "Why, Dr. Linda, if I had known you wanted to restart our little arrangement-"

"Stop trying to distract me," she said, and his face fell.

"What's the point of... hugging," he said, leaning back with a huff. There were so many better, more pleasurable things to do with a body than just standing there with your arms wrapped around someone. Boring!

"Well, for one," she said, also leaning back, "it releases neurotransmitters that-"

"So does sex," he pointed out, and she sighed at him.

"Different neurotransmitters. Ones that you, perhaps, do not get enough of. Platonic touch-" he scoffed, and she glared him into silence. "As I was saying, platonic touching is important for healthy brains-"

His attention drifted as she continued talking about brain chemistry and neurons and other ridiculous things. He didn't need to... to cuddle with people, or whatever she was suggesting. He had been alone for millennia. That need had evolved right out of him. Although, the idea of it being Chloe wasn't an unpleasant one, and made something warm unfurl in his chest.

"Lucifer! Are you even listening to me?"

"No, my dear, I can't say that I am," he said and stood up. This wasn't getting him anywhere. "I must be off, though."

She groaned in frustration as he got up which, really, what did she expect out of him? "Lucifer, wait-"

But he was out the door and down the hall before she could say more. Maybe he could go to the station and try to convince Chloe that she needed to take a break from boring administrative things. It was, after all, almost time for lunch, and those nasty vending machine sandwiches couldn't be good for her.

With something that almost felt like a spring in his step, he left the building.

Chloe had been out of work for two days and Lucifer was getting worried.

No, not worried. Bored.

He was definitely bored. It wasn't like he could partner up with some other detective and work with them, that wouldn't do at all. No, Chloe was the only one for him... when it came to work, at least. Instead, he was stuck at Lux which, while great fun once the evening got started, left him with nearly nothing to do during the day. Perhaps he should put word out that he was having a party...

Even as he thought it, he knew he wasn't going to do it. No, if he did anything besides complain to Maze about how terribly boring life was when he didn't have Chloe to entertain him, it would be go to Chloe's house and find out why she wasn't at work.

In fact, that sounded like a splendid idea.

He got up, leaving the man he had bedded the night before — chasing a feeling he couldn't quite reach anymore, and wasn't that worrying? — still asleep, and got presentable. He wouldn't be able to charm his way into staying for a quick little visit if he looked like he'd just crawled out of bed, now, would he? Despite what anyone said about his bedhead.

It wasn't until he was halfway to Chloe's house that he realized that her vague "I'm taking another personal day" might mean that she was ill. Humans got ill, sometimes, after all. And eventually all humans got ill in one way or another and died. The thought had his heart hammering in an unpleasant way and a sick, sloshy feeling in his stomach.

No, that wasn't something he was going to think about right now. Although... if she was ill, maybe he should pick up some medicine? What did humans even have for medicine? It certainly wasn't something he'd ever had to deal with. Before he came to a decision, he was arriving at her house.

The door was locked, naturally, and for a moment he debated over whether to knock like she kept telling him to, or just go in. If she was ill, she shouldn't be getting up most likely, but getting cross at him probably wasn't good for her health either. Humans had such weak constitutions. To think that a tiny little creature like a germ could fell them.

Not that Chloe was going to die.

And, indeed, when he knocked, she looked fine as she pulled the door open.

"Detective!" he said. He could feel a somewhat mad grin on his face, and tried to temper it into something that wasn't so filled with relief.

"Lucifer," she said warily, not moving so he could come in. That gave him pause. Usually she at least let him get in the door before throwing him out. Or was that only when he barged in without asking? He looked expectantly at her, and then craned his neck to see past her into the rest of the house.

"Where's the spawn today?" he asked, slightly suspicious of how she hadn't come racing out to throw herself at him. Or, no, she didn't do that anymore, did she? "Getting an education while you have a day to yourself?"

"No," Chloe said, still blocking the door. "She's sick."

He blinked at that, the pit of his stomach swooping in a way not unlike when he was thinking about how Chloe was going to die someday.

"Is-" he started, his voice tight before he cleared his throat of all those pesky emotions. "Is she alright?"

Chloe was looking at him with something quite like fond exasperation in her gaze. "It's just a cold, Lucifer. She can't go to school and the babysitter is sick too."

"Ah," he said, at a loss for what to do. "Do you need... anything?" he finally decided on.

She shook her head, a soft smile on her face that made more funny things happen inside him.

"I need you to leave-" he absolutely did not flinch at that, but her voice was softer, kinder when she continued, "-so I don't have to listen to you complain about how my kid got you sick."

"I'm the Devil, darling," he reminded her. "I can't catch illnesses from humans."

"Uh huh," she said, frustratingly continuing to not believe him. Really, had he ever told her anything less than the truth? It was absolutely absurd that, after everything she'd seen him do, she still didn't believe him.

And yet, even as a tiny part of him suggested that he prove it to her in a way she couldn't deny, he couldn't help but resist. They had a good thing going, after all, and he couldn't stand the thought of losing it so soon. Couldn't stand the thought of losing her so soon. It would happen one day, when she could no longer deny what he was, but until then...

"Mommy?" The child's voice was hoarse and she looked positively disgusting as she came into sight, dragging a blanket behind her.

"Go back to bed, baby," Chloe told her, turning to run a hand through her disheveled hair. "I'll be there in a minute."

"Can Lucifer read me a story?" The little urchin stuck out her bottom lip and in general looked so pathetic even he felt his heart softening enough to agree.

"Yes, Detective, you should let me in so I can read your spawn a story." He had no idea what sort of story one read to small children, but surely there would be pre-approved books somewhere. And if it got him more time with Chloe, who was he to deny her spawn anything. The suspicious look she threw him had him putting his hand to his chest in mock disbelief that she would suspect him of anything devious.

"Please, Mommy?" The child sniffed, possibly because she was ill, but also possibly because she was trying to sound even more pathetic to manipulate Chloe into letting him in. Points to her if it was the latter; it looked like it was working.

Chloe sighed in defeat and stepped away from the door, giving him a hard look before saying, "One story, and then he's leaving."

He had no intention of doing so if he could convince her to let him stay longer, but he nodded anyway. "One story," he said, just to make it clear that was all he was agreeing to.

Beatrice smiled, but it was small and tired, and it made something shift inside him as he stepped past them into the front room. A nest of blankets was made up on the couch, the TV was playing some cartoon softly, and there was a bin full of used tissues off to the side. Humans were disgusting when they were ill.

Chloe walked past him while he was dithering, Beatrice in tow. She fussed with the blankets and tucked the child in, before sitting down and patting the space in between herself and Beatrice with a look that just dared him to refuse.

Well, who was he to back off now. Although if Beatrice thought she was going to in any way get his suit wrinkled or covered in snot, she had another think coming. So he gingerly sat, eyeing her warily until it became clear she was content to stay ensconced in blankets on her own side of the couch.

"Here," Chloe said, putting a book in his hand, already open to a page halfway through.

"You have to do the voices," Beatrice said, and he tore his gaze away from Chloe's smile to give the child a disbelieving look.

"I most certainly will not," he told her, but one look at her pout had him sighing and conceding defeat. "Alright, I suppose I can do the voices."

He felt a strange urge to put his arm up and invite her to lean against his side while he read, but quashed it ruthlessly. It was just a fleeting whim, and it wouldn't do to let her think she could take allowances with his person. So he began to read about a mouse and a motorcycle — a preposterous combination, although Beatrice just shrugged when he told her that — and almost too soon Chloe was putting her hand on his shoulder. Her touch was electrifying, as always, and he leaned into it almost without thinking about it.

"You can stop now," she said, a soft smile still on her face as she plucked the book from his hands and put a bookmark in. "She's asleep."

"Ah," he said, shifting uncomfortably under her gaze. Really, it wouldn't do for it to become common knowledge that he had gone soft and almost enjoyed — enjoyed! — reading a quite dull book to a child covered in bodily fluids, and not the fun kind. He almost opened his mouth to tell Chloe this, but something in her gaze stopped him.

He licked his lips, suddenly unaccountably nervous. Her eyes tracked his tongue, but there was no lust fueling her gaze, not like he was used to. And yet, she was leaning forward a little, reaching to put a hand on his cheek. He nuzzled into it in an embarrassing fashion as she stroked her thumb across his cheekbone.

"Thank you," she said, "for doing this. Come on, the least I can do is repay you with a drink."

She dropped her hand too soon and stood. She offered a hand to him, helping to pull him upright and holding on for just a moment longer than politeness would allow for. He felt an astounding urge to tangle his fingers with hers, to hold on and never let go. But she was pulling away from him even as he was squashing the thought, making it a moot point anyway.

"You don't owe me a thing," he said, somewhat surprised by the words coming out of his mouth. Of course he would never collect on a debt she owed him, he was much too far indebted to her for everything she had done for him. For everything she gave him and how precious each moment spent with her outside of solving cases was to him. But still, it wasn't like him to verbally acknowledge that she owed him nothing. That he would do anything for her if she only asked.

He cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable, and moved for the kitchen where he knew she had started keeping alcohol, on a shelf well above where Beatrice could reach. He pulled down a bottle of top shelf scotch he had stashed in the very back — hoping Chloe wouldn't notice it was there — and got out two glasses, making a mental note to sneak in a set of rocks glasses so they wouldn't have to drink such a fine liquor out of plain drinking glasses.

"Thanks," she said when he handed her one. She took a sip and put it on the counter. He knew it was foolish to waste such good scotch on her, not when that was probably all she'd drink of it and he'd end up stealing her glass and draining it before he left, but still. It would be rude not to.

"You don't have to stay," she added in the silence that followed, fiddling with her hands a bit. "I was serious about not putting up with your whining if you catch it from her.

"Are you throwing me out, Detective?" he asked, letting go of pointing out for a second time that day that the Devil couldn't get sick from humans, hoping the disappointment and the thing that felt almost like hurt was concealed from his tone.

"No," she said, a touch of wonder in her voice as she added, "I don't think I am."

"Excellent," he said, a smile on his face that slid from far too emotional for his tastes to lecherous the longer she looked at him. "You know," he said, "while she's asleep, we could-"

"Nope, don't ruin the moment," she told him with something that was almost a laugh, and he fell silent. He wasn't aware they had been having a moment, or how he even felt about it. But something warmed in him, and he couldn't help but to grin at her.

"We could have plenty of moments in bed," he suggested, but his heart wasn't in it, and she seemed to know it.

"Seriously," she said. "Thank you. Trixie adores you and I know you don't like her but-"

"That's not-" he started, interrupting her, but stopped. He'd been about to deny it, which was ridiculous. Of course he didn't like Beatrice. He didn't like any children, especially ones who had no regard for personal space. A thing she had been better about that recently. And reading to her hadn't been a horrible experience.

Oh no, did he not dislike Beatrice? Was she infecting him with some sort of toxin that made him start to forget how obnoxious children were?

"I-" he said, unsure of what was going to come out of his mouth next, just knowing that it wasn't going to be a lie. "She is not... too terrible."

Chloe smiled at him, her face lighting up like the stars, and if he'd known all it would take to make her look like that was admitting to not hating her child, he would have done it far sooner. Maybe. No, definitely; he would definitely have taken a liking to Beatrice sooner if he had known it would make Chloe light up like that. Maybe Maze was right; maybe he was getting soft, but he couldn't find it in himself to care.

Lucifer found himself standing outside the door to Chloe's house, unsure of what his excuse for being there yet again was going to be. After all, he couldn't say that, with her on vacation, he found himself at a loss for what to do with his days. The precinct held no appeal without her there, and, loathe as he was to admit it, sex with near-strangers had... ceased having as much of an appeal as usual.

He was, quite possibly, broken in some way, and he was certain it was all Chloe's fault.

"Are you going to stand there all day?" He blinked at the open door, and Chloe standing in it with her arms crossed. "You're being creepy."

"I-" he said, but couldn't come up with an excuse. There was something wrong with his normally quick-witted tongue, and he found himself tongue-tied.

She smiled uncertainly before stepping back and letting him inside. He braced himself and, when no tiny human attached herself to him, he looked around curiously.

"Dan took her for the day," she said, looking far too amused for his comfort.

"Ah," he said, stopping himself from shuffling in place a little but only barely. "Of course. And a good thing, too. This is Armani; it doesn't need sticky child fingers all over it."

She shrugged a little and snorted. "You know she doesn't actually get all that sticky, right?"

"All children are sticky," he said. Parental instincts — something he had no experience with from either end — must blind her to how constantly grubby children were. Hers was no different, and he was glad she wasn't there to get her paws all over his nice suit. And he was looking particularly sharp today, if he did say so himself.

If only Chloe would notice.

After a silence that quickly grew uncomfortable, she said, "Well?"

"Well what?" he asked, wondering if he was supposed to be producing something out of thin air for her. Had he forgotten something he was supposed to be doing?

"Well why did you c- are you here?" she asked, course-correcting quickly in an attempt to prevent him from turning her words into innuendo. As if that would stop him.

He smirked at her. "Why, Detective, if I'd known you had an interest in me coming-"

She slapped a hand over his mouth, saying, "Nope."

As soon as her hand made contact with his skin, he froze, embarrassingly unaccustomed to touch that wasn't sexual in nature. And there was no doubt that Chloe didn't intend for this to be in any way sexual. Still, he had to resist pressing his lips to her palm. And yet... he was never one for self-denial and if she put her hand there, what did she expect to happen...

Her eyes widened at the brief kiss and she dropped her hand, not stepping away like he half-expected her to.

"I-" he said, his throat dry. No one had ever looked at him the way she was at that very moment. Like he might be something worth keeping.

She stepped in closer to him, and he swallowed. It would be so easy to fall back into the playboy persona he had perfected over the past five years. It would be simple, and reinforce the wall between them that was crumbling under her gaze.

"You know," she said, leaning forward a little, into his space. He could swear his heart stopped beating for a moment as he felt her breath against his skin. "If you were anyone else, I'd say you missed me."

He licked his lips. "...but?" he had to ask when she fell silent. Was he truly that obvious? And did it matter that he looked like a pathetic puppy, following after her and begging for scraps of attention?

"But-" he bit back a groan when she leaned away again, rocking back on her heels "-I'm not flattering myself like that. Either you're here because you want something, or you're here because it was a better alternative than sitting around being bored."

Her words stung, and he almost recoiled from them. How could she- He hadn't missed her, of course. In fact, he'd seen her just the other day. He just...

"Yes, well," he said, fiddling with his cuffs as he took a step back. "Coming here in my time of need was obviously a mistake. I'll just-" He motioned to the door, but Chloe grabbed him by the sleeve as he took a step toward it.

"Wait, wait," she said, pulling him to a stop and wrinkling his suit in the process. Then she paused, seemingly at a loss for words. He could wait her out though, and it turned out to be worth it when she said, "Look, do you want to stay for dinner? If your time of need is just that you're bored, I mean."

He wavered, but something that felt suspiciously like his heart had leapt at her offer, and why should he deny himself the pleasure of her company?

"Of course," he said, when he realized that she was looking at him expectantly and he couldn't deny her a thing. "I would be delighted. What would you like me to make?"

She raised an eyebrow at him before turning and heading for the kitchen. "You know I do know how to cook, right?"

Yes, but if he impressed her with food, maybe she would be willing to repay him in a carnal fashion. Not that she would owe him if he cooked her dinner, it would be more like her doing him a favor. And he would be willing to owe her the moon and the stars, if it meant she'd always look at him like she was right then, teasing and something like happiness lighting up her face.

"That may be true," he said, instead of letting his thoughts take him down that dangerous route. "But don't you cook for your spawn every day? You deserve a break." Her eyes went wide again at that. "So tell me. What do you desire?"

She laughed, and he could hear a bit of discomfort in the sound. That was the opposite of what he had intended. But then her eyes darkened, and she licked her lips, and for one almost-blessèd moment, he thought she was going to lean forward and kiss him. He was holding his breath, and couldn't seem to exhale.

Then the look faded from her face and was replaced by a rueful smile. He found he could breathe again, and he had never been so disappointed to not be suffocating in his everlasting life.

"Surprise me," she said, waving him into the kitchen. He couldn't stop his eyes from falling to her arse as she walked away from him, and when she stopped he looked up to meet her slightly bemused gaze. "Well? Are you coming? Nope," she said again before he could even open his mouth. "Don't even start."

He nodded with a grin and followed her into the kitchen, only to stop short when she glanced back and added, with a soft smile on her face, "You should smile like that more often."

If she kept looking at him like that, he would smile any way she pleased for the rest of eternity, but he was fairly certain he hadn't been doing anything special. It certainly hadn't been a smile that would have potential lovers falling over themselves to be welcomed into his bed. All in all, it had been a subpar smile.

"Like you're not-" she waved her hand at him, responding to his confused silence. "Oh, I don't know. Like you're just happy and not like you're trying to get something out of me."

He blinked at her. It had never occurred to him that anyone would want to see him look happy, that that could possibly be appealing. It was so... mundane.

"Well," he said, when the silence had drawn out too long, and slid past her to the refrigerator. "Shall I get to it?"

She stepped back to let him work, and he soon lost himself in trying to make an impressive meal out of the paltry contents of her pantry.

"How do you not have flour?" he asked after shuffling things around in her cabinets and finding none of the ingredients needed to make a good sauce for the cheap steaks he had found in the back of the freezer. Not ideal, but he could work with it.

"When would I have time to bake?" she shot back, sounding a little wistful. "I do have a job and a child, you know."

"Yes, how could I forget," he said dryly, and busied himself at the stovetop so he wouldn't do anything foolish like offer up his baking services any time she wanted them.

When he next looked up, she was watching him with a soft smile on her face. He could feel himself reddening under her gaze, a completely inappropriate and embarrassing reaction to a simple smile. She made him feel like what he would imagine a virginal teenager would feel on a first date. And it wasn't even a date.

She look away once she realized he'd caught her staring, and he felt strangely bereft.

"Detective..." he started, even though he had truly nothing to say. He just wanted her to look at him again, so he could fall into the trap of her gaze. And he had never felt more glad to be captured.

The stared at each other for a moment before he had to turn back to the steaks. The back of his neck felt flushed, and the tips of his ears were definitely red. Was this strange reaction to her similar to the way she made him mortal? He didn't like feeling like she could see to the very heart of him any more than he liked the very heart of him filling with this strange sensation whenever he thought of her. A sensation that he was certain Dr. Linda would erroneously call love.

They managed to get most of the way through the meal before the front door opened and Beatrice burst through, the Douche close behind her. He took in the scene and made a disgusted face, which Lucifer was happy to return with one of his own. And then his attention was drawn to Beatrice, who was practically vibrating in front of him.

"Yes?" he asked, only leaning a little bit away from her, in case she decided to attach herself to him this time. A small part of him almost hoped she did, which he squashed ruthlessly. It was ridiculous and unbecoming to feel such a longing for hugs of all things from a small child.

"Is this a date?" she whispered quite loudly.

He frowned at her. Of course it wasn't a date. He was just sharing a meal with Chloe like they did frequently at the precinct. "Of course not," he said, not looking at Chloe to confirm. He didn't want to see her reaction — or lack thereof — because it turned out he truly did wish that this were a date.

Imagine that. The Devil on a date with a human. It was ridiculous and would never happen.

"Oh." Beatrice's shoulders slumped, and he felt the absurd urge to hug her. An urge that was squashed when she added, in another loud whisper, "You should ask Mommy on a date."

His glance flicked to Chloe, considering, but she had her head in her hands and he couldn't tell if she would be amenable to that. Better safe than sorry.

"Do you need me to keep her for the night?" the Douche asked with a disapproving look before Lucifer could respond.

Chloe shook her head, even as he was about to say yes please, and he snapped his mouth shut. "No," there was something in her smile, something that had him wishing again that it was a date. "No need. Trix, go brush your teeth, it's almost bedtime." She got up and pulled the Douche to the side, talking quietly with him.

Lucifer turned away from watching how close the two of them stood and poked at the food on his plate, appetite suddenly gone.

"Are you gonna do it?"

He nearly jumped at the voice by his side. Beatrice was back, having hopefully brushed her teeth and washed her hands.

"Do what, child?" he asked.

"Ask Mommy on a date," she said, exasperated.

His heart clenched. If only he could. "No," he said shortly. "Aren't you supposed to be in bed or something?"

She frowned at him, looking almost exactly like Chloe in the moment. "You should," she said, and then Chloe was back, telling her to go tell the Douche goodnight.

"Sorry," she said, once Dan was out the door and Beatrice had been sent to her room to finish getting ready for bed, but he waved her off. She was a good mother, of course her child came first, much as he didn't want to admit it.

He'd never come first in anyone's eyes in his long existence, and he couldn't help but wonder what it felt like.

"I should put her to bed," she said, and it sounded like a dismissal, so he nodded and stood. She put a hand on his arm before he could gather up their half-finished meals and bring them to the sink. "I had fun tonight. Thank you."

He glanced down at her hand, then to her eyes, and realized that long after she as gone, he would be treasuring the memory of this night. It was... disconcerting, how much her simple words affected him.

"I did too," he said, feeling strangely bare as she smiled at him, her eyes shining with an emotion he couldn't fathom.

He grudgingly stepped away from her and put their dishes at the sink, before heading for the door, pausing by it. "I-" he said, not sure yet again what he was going to say.

"I'll see you on Monday?" she asked, walking to him and filling the silence. A part of him sunk as he realized that meant she didn't want to see him before then

"Of course," he said. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."

One of her hands rose to cup his cheek, and he couldn't stop himself from leaning into the touch. Chloe opened her mouth to say something, but Beatrice chose that moment to barrel out of her bedroom, and he braced himself for the impact that never came as Chloe dropped her hand.

"Night Lucifer!" she said brightly, before hugging Chloe and saying goodnight to her, too. Then she was gone, back in her room.

"I should go tuck her in," Chloe said, a clear dismissal this time, so he made his goodbyes and stepped out the door.

He left, feeling oddly bereft.

Some criminal lowlife had dared to kidnap Chloe's child again. Wasn't once enough trauma for one lifetime? Bloody humans and their free will and their insistence on using it to hurt people.

They'd barely found the right warehouse before he was gone, tearing off at great speed and leaving Chloe and the officers actually on the case behind. They would take far too long to be ready and he, well. He could be there in a flash.

How dare they take the child and try to use her as a bargaining chip. Didn't they know who she worked with? Didn't they know what he would do to protect the two of them? Oh, they would be sorry they were ever born to this mortal plane before he was done with them.

It was barely any effort to get them to give up and point him to the child. A mere flash of his eyes or glimpse of his ravaged flesh had each and every person inside the warehouse screaming in terror and pointing the way to where they were keeping her. It was child's play, really.

He found her locked in a small room on the second floor, huddled in a corner and crying, and the very sight had his blood boiling like it hadn't in centuries. He had almost turned to go back down and kill each and every person involved, but her wavering, "Lucifer?" had him turning back.

"Yes, it's me," he said, suddenly unsure of how to proceed. Punishment, he could do. Comfort? Not exactly something he was familiar with.

She pushed herself up and walked over to him, eyes huge and watery, and he tried to think of what Chloe would do in this situation. Beatrice just stood there, watching him with tears rolling down her face, and he knew what he had to do.

"Just this once, you understand?" he said, and knelt, opening up his arms.

Beatrice threw herself at him and he found himself folding his arms around her protectively and holding her tight, even though there wasn't anything to actually protect her from anymore. They hadn't known if she was still alive, and now that she was safe, visions of her dead body kept flashing across his brain. It was ridiculous. Still, he tightened his arms around her and easily picked her up.

"Let's go find your mum, shall we?" he said, and she nodded against his shoulder, smearing who knew what over his suit.

The whole thing had taken him less than ten minutes, and when he came out the front the team was still setting up to go in. It was all remarkably inefficient. If Beatrice had been in mortal peril, they would never have been able to get to her in time. It was a good thing he had been there.

"I believe this is yours," he said, handing the still-crying child off to Chloe, who had also started to cry. He would have left then, but Beatrice kept one hand tangled in his shirt — he was going to hear about it from his dry cleaner, that was for certain — and he found himself drawn into a group hug.

It felt... good. Perhaps Dr. Linda had been on to something there.

He gingerly wrapped his arms around them, not quite sure what he was doing there, just that Beatrice didn't want him to leave so he wasn't going to.

Much later, after Beatrice had been cleared by the EMTs and he had been questioned by the police as to how he managed to take out a warehouse of men, after he had trailed after them and followed them home, after Beatrice had fallen asleep on the couch, he found himself in the kitchen, at a loss for what to do. Drinking was always a good idea, so he pulled down the glasses he had smuggled in and filled them with ice and scotch, one for each of them.

"Thank you," she said when he brought them over to the couch and drained hers. He stood, uncomfortable and awkward, next to it before she patted the cushion next to her.

"I should go," he said, even though he didn't want to. Chloe probably wanted to be alone with her spawn after such an experience, and while he was useful for daring rescues, he had no idea what to do after that. He hated not knowing what to do.

"You should stay," she said simply, so he sat.

She curled her feet up under herself, and leaned into him slightly, the warmth of her body sending a shiver down his spine.

"Thank you," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "I don't know what I would have done if she..."

He awkwardly put an arm around her, still unsure of what to do. "But she didn't," he said, trying to reassure her. "So there's no need to cry over something that didn't happen." He put down his drink and gently cupped her cheek, using his thumb to brush away her tears. "She's safe now."

Chloe let out a watery chuckle, leaning into his touch, and he felt something warm growing in him. "Lucifer..." she said, looking up at him. "Thank you."

"I- You're welcome," he finally said, letting his hand drop from her face and picking up his glass to take a long drink. The warmth must have been from the alcohol, which was surely affecting him more since she was around. He had almost thought she was going to... but no. It had been a traumatic day for everyone, there was no way she would-

She gently turned his face to her with a palm on his cheek, leaned up, and pressed her lips to his. It was a soft kiss, gentle, not at all the sort he was used to, and he found himself almost melting into it. It was nothing like how he had dreamed kissing her would be, and yet it was infinitely better, because it was real. It was real and-

He slowly pulled away from her, opening his eyes. "If this is purely because..." he started, unable to finish the thought. If this was just because he had saved her daughter, then he couldn't let her do this. It might break him, if she slept with him tonight and regretted it in the morning because it had all been caused by the heat of the moment.

"It's not," she said, smiling up at him, eyes shining. "Well, not entirely," she added.

"Then why?" he had to ask. It wasn't that he didn't trust her, because he did. It was just... good things like this didn't happen to him. He wasn't made for good things, and that included her.

She laughed a little, only glancing away from him when Beatrice stirred at the sound. As she settled, Chloe turned back to him, a smile on her face that looked out of place with the way her eyes were still watering. "It's because you're a good man," she said. "And because you don't actually dislike my kid. So I can finally do this."

She leaned up to kiss him again, but he held her off gently. "You would do that," he said. "You would put your child's needs above your wants and desires?'

"Of course," she said, a frown marring her features. "That's what parents do."

"Not in my experience," he muttered, and couldn't stand the way her face softened, the way she was looking at him like he was an open book. He was an open book, but one with carefully curated pages. He didn't like feeling like she was looking past those pages directly to the heart of him.

"Well then it's what a good parent does," she said. "I could never be with someone who didn't like Trixie, and you..." She paused there, eyes searching his face. For what, he didn't know, but she seemed to find it. "And you put up a good front about disliking her, but she's always seen through you, and I think I'm starting to, too."

"Ah," he said, unable to argue with that, because it was true. He didn't dislike Beatrice, not anymore. She was loud and often sticky and there was so much he didn't understand about why she did things, but she had somehow, at some point, become his just as much as Chloe was his. He may not be theirs, and that was okay — that had to be okay — but he would go to the ends of the Earth, to Hell and back to protect them.

"So if it's alright with you," she was saying as he watched her silently, "I'm going to kiss you again now."

And she did.