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The throne jutted out above Hell like a spire; a sole rotting fang in a toothless mouth.   As a statement of power, it wasn't subtle.   But, well, subtlety would've been wasted here anyway.

The entire point of coming back was to re-instill fear and respect.   More the former than the latter, but that was fine – fear was what demons respected. 

Dromos had been made into an example.  A statement, as loud and as clear as Lucifer knew how to make it, of exactly how Lucifer felt about having his orders ignored.   

It wasn't easy to pull screams like that out of a demon.     

Lucifer thought even Maze would've been impressed. 

 

~*~

 

Lucifer looked out at the demons that had gathered to witness and, idly, thought: What if I just killed them all?

All of the demons in Hell.  

It would take some time, certainly, and if they caught on and organized against him it could get quite ugly quite quickly, but... perhaps, not the worst plan he'd ever had.

Something of the thought must have been visible on his face – or, perhaps, it was the cold indifference he wore along with a nearly head-to-toe coating of blood and ichor and bits of flesh; aftermath of dealing with Dromos.   Not a one of the demons met his eye as he looked out to see if any would dare to offer him a challenge next. 

They parted before him, terrified and cowed, as he turned and left. 

 

~*~

 

“Bring me Squee,” Lucifer commanded, not even bothering to raise his voice. 

Dromos had been the leader, certainly, but there had been, by his count, seventy-three demons that had stood with him.  

Lucifer didn't have to wait long.  Hell was full of demons desperately eager to get on Lucifer's good side.  Their king had returned, and he wasn’t happy.

It made turning against one of their own an easy decision to make.

“My king, my king, please, please, we only thought to restore Hell to order, we were in chaos, please!”  Squee babbled, words tripping over themselves in his haste and desperation. 

In the center of the charred, craggy space, a post with heavy, dangling cuffs stood waiting, a macabre maypole already stained dark with blood. 

The syllables washed over Lucifer as he strung the demon up, unheeded.  He knew the argument.  Perhaps it even had been one of Squee's motivating thoughts when he'd followed Dromos, and not simply a frantic excuse offered in the hopes of staying Lucifer's hand.

“I forbade demonic possession,” Lucifer said.  The words were quiet but Hell was listening.  Of that, he had no doubt.  A throng of demons ringed the open space; none daring to approach closer, and none daring to leave.  “Did you think, just because I left, that disobedience wouldn't have consequences?”

“Please, my king, please, please,” Squee begged, eyes fearfully darting to the ragged corpse Lucifer had left of Dromos.

Lucifer raised his whip.

 

~*~

 

Later – much, much later – Lucifer collected what remained of Squee and tossed the pieces over to lie alongside Dromos.

“Bring me Melorach,” Lucifer said.

And they did.

 

~*~

 

After the first ten, Lucifer retreated to his throne.   He had been in Hell for weeks, by that point.   He needed to rest.   And, besides, the break would give the remaining demons that had followed Dromos time to sweat.

The white feathers of his wings seemed to mock him as he flew up.  He tucked them away as soon as he took his seat.

Lucifer dropped his head back against the black, carved stone.  It was a far cry from his bed at Lux, but he would make do.  It wasn't like he wasn't used to sleeping here.

He looked out at the labyrinthine rows of Hell.  His kingdom.  Lucifer could feel the shape of Hell; could feel the cogs turning, could feel the weight of all of its inhabiting souls.  The knowledge was as much a part of him as his bones.

He was Hell's master, and it welcomed him back with open arms.  Hell had missed him.

Lucifer closed his eyes.

 

~*~

 

“Bring me Bukrall,” Lucifer said.

The demon was tossed at his feet like an offering.  Bukrall attempted to flee, terror making her stupid, and Lucifer pounced with a thoughtless beat of his wings.

The demon shivered and moaned in his grasp, shaking and rolling her eyes in fear.   Lucifer secured her to the pole.

His eyes lingered on the frost limning the links of the chains.  Lucifer took a deep breath, feeling like it was the first time he'd done so in a while.  The air burned in his lungs.

Hell was glacially cold. 

He wondered when he'd done it.  He hadn't even noticed.

The chain links chimed dully, rattling together as Bukrall pulled and struggled.

Lucifer pushed a blonde wisp of hair back behind Bukrall's ear, gently, almost soothing.  He let his fingers linger on her cheek, thumb stroking the soft curve of her lower lip.

Bukrall stilled in the chains, still shaking from the cold and fear, but otherwise as frozen as a terrified animal.

The demon's face was not a human face.  She had been forged in Hell and, like all Hell-forged things, she was scarred and twisted.  

But there was, perhaps, something familiar about the shape of her face.   About the color of her hair.

Lucifer remembered Bukrall wearing the body of a young man and reaching, with clawed hands, for the Detective.

He hardened his heart.

“You disobeyed,” Lucifer said.  His eyes stared through Bukrall.  He pushed his thumb into her mouth, past her teeth.  Her tongue laved at the pad of his finger and she sucked, a wild sort of hope flicking across her expression.  Her chattering teeth vibrated along his skin.

Lucifer got a good grip and, with a popping crack of bone and a wet tearing of flesh, tore away her jaw.

Hot blood washed over him, unnoticed.   The sucking, gurgling noise of her screaming went unnoticed.  The blood that splashed down his chest froze almost immediately, pulling at his shirt, at his skin.  Lucifer barely felt it.

Lucifer tossed the bit of flesh and bone onto the growing pile of remains.

He paced away from the pole, seeing the huddle of his demonic audience. 

He had their complete attention.  Good.

He raised his whip.

 

~*~

 

“Bring me Tetoros,” Lucifer commended, and so they did.

Tetoros was the last of them; the last of the demons that had piggybacked a dead soul out of Hell.

The ground beneath the pole was a slick, dark pool of frozen blood by this point.  Tetoros slipped and scrabbled at the icy surface, unable to break Lucifer's grasp as he was hauled forward and chained up.

Lucifer had saved Tetoros for last intentionally.  Of the demons that had followed Dromos, Tetoros was the strongest.  The most cunning.

Tetoros didn't plead with Lucifer.  He didn't offer excuses. 

Lucifer had made it abundantly clear that there was no mercy to be had.   The pile of tattered corpses behind him was a testament to his wrath. 

They had wanted their king back.   Well, they were getting him.

The frigid air bit at the exposed skin of Lucifer's face, his hands.  If his whip had been leather, if it had been made on Earth, it would have cracked to ruin long before now. 

The whip was light in his hands.   A weightless extension of himself.  The motion to bear it down upon guilty skin was as rote of a muscle memory as playing a scale, as easily remembered as how to fly.

Tetoros didn't scream, at first. 

It took some time and effort.  Days, insomuch as there were days in Hell, before Tetoros was, in places, flayed down to the marrow of his bones.  Days before he finally started to beg and shriek. 

Days before, at last, Lucifer lowered the whip.

He could feel the attention of the demons watching sharpen at that.   They had fully expected Lucifer to torture Tetoros to death, the same as he had done with the seventy-three demons before him.

Tetoros had been expecting it, too, and the look he gave Lucifer stated plainly that he would do anything, anything, if it would mean an end to this.

“I have a job for you,” Lucifer said.

With a gesture, Lucifer willed the cuffs to open.   They did, spilling Tetoros to the ground at Lucifer's feet.  The demon struggled to kneel.  He was missing some of the muscles required to do so, and it left him in a lopsided hunch.

“Whatever you command, my king,” Tetoros rasped, voice gone from screaming. 

Lucifer crouched and waited until Tetoros met his gaze.

Lucifer gestured behind them at the watching demons.

“If any of them ever thinks to disobey me again,” He said, pitching his voice loudly enough to be heard by all of them.  “If they ever think I've changed my mind about them going Earth-side...   You're to stop them.   And if you fail, you’ll wish I finished what I started here.”

Lucifer turned and regarded the demons, still addressing Tetoros.

“And what I do to you, what I have done to them,” Lucifer added, nodding at the pile of corpses.  “Will be a dream compared to what I will do to anyone who dares to defy me again.”

The demons parted before him in terrified waves as Lucifer walked away from the scene. 

 

~*~

 

Lucifer sat on the throne and felt Hell pulse around him. 

The membrane separating Hell from Earth pressed against his awareness.  It was a like a stone in his shoe, impossible to put out of his mind.

A simple flick of his wings and he could be back by her side.  It would barely take more than a thought.

He felt the steady tide of souls trickling into Hell.  They fell in two or three at a time, a near-constant accumulation of the damned.  Hell welcomed them all eagerly.  Hell had a special place for each of them.

Lucifer pressed his tongue against the roof of his mouth, tracing the ridges of his hard palate. 

By his account, barely more than a day had passed on Earth since he'd left.

He wondered how the LAPD had coped with the dozens of bodies the demons had left behind.  What human circumstances they had applied to it to explain it away.  He wondered how close Ella would come to actually putting the pieces together. 

So many dead people.   Parishioners who had chosen the wrong moment and the wrong church to go pray.   If Ella hadn't been having her crisis of faith, perhaps she would have been one of them.

The thought bubbled up, grotesque and obscene – a demon wearing Ella's dead body. 

It wouldn't have happened that way, of course.  Even if she'd been murdered, the girl would certainly have gone to Heaven. 

Still, the thought sat with him, a nauseating weight in his gut. 

It was his fault, really.  Amenadiel had been right.  Hell couldn't be without a ruler.  The realm needed him.  When Lucifer had abandoned his responsibilities… there were consequences.

What exactly do you think happens when the Devil leaves Hell?   Amenadiel had told him.    All of those demons.   All of those tortured and tormented souls.   Where do you think they go?

Don't know.  Don't care.  Not my problem.  

It felt like such a long time ago, now. 

Lucifer shifted in the throne.  The frozen blood and gore caked into his clothes cracked and crackled with the movement and, finally, Lucifer looked down at himself.

He hadn't been clean since he'd first flown down here and surveyed his lands.   He'd gotten to the work of punishment almost immediately.

The suit was beyond ruined.  He barely remembered what color the shirt had been before he'd started. 

And, now that he was letting himself be aware of it, the way the fabric had soaked onto and frozen on him was nearly painful.   There was blood on his face, in his hair, in his damned shoes

He frowned.  It was such an odd thing; realizing that he'd set the entire concept of his comfort so far aside that he hadn't even felt what he'd done to himself.

He was feeling it now.

He turned his hands.   They were so stained that, for a moment, he thought he'd reverted back to his monstrous form.

But no.   No, it was only blood.   Blood and ash.

Lucifer pushed himself out of the throne, opening his wings as he fell.   The icy wind slapped at him as he flew over Hell.   There was a particular room he was searching for and, as soon as he opened himself to that desire, Hell let him know where to go.

He landed in front of a familiar door.  It was a door to a Hell loop, one of billions, and yet unmistakable.

Lucifer pushed it open and walked inside.

The soft yellow lights of his penthouse greeted him.   The disparity of temperatures – the warmth after having spent so long in Hell's cold – made his skin prickle painfully.

At the piano, the memory of Uriel started to rise.   With a thought, Lucifer banished the shadow. 

This was not a trap he would fall into again.  Hell was his to command once more and this, after all, was only a piece of Hell.

With Uriel gone, it was just his penthouse again.

Lucifer stripped off the ruined suit with a great deal of effort, giving up entirely and tearing it off of himself when the shoulders of the jacket were too stiff to yield.

Naked and filthy, he walked through his apartment into his bathroom. 

In the mirror, he was barely recognizable.  Lucifer spared the image only a glance before turning away.

The blood and grime could be washed away.

The lifeless, bleak look in his eyes...   Well.  

Water couldn't fix that.

 

~*~

 

Clean and dressed, Lucifer walked out onto the balcony.  The memory of Los Angeles glittered below.  The warm breeze teased at his hair. 

This was where he'd said goodbye to -

To Earth.   To the life he'd built there.  To – everything, really.

Everything that mattered.

It was too painful to think about the memory, and so he didn't. 

Lucifer took all of the love and friendship and happiness he'd felt and consciously buried it deep. 

That life was over.

Best not to dwell on it.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer sat on the throne and... existed. 

The icy chill in Hell made it easier for him to simply... drift, mentally.   Hell seeped into all of the cracks in his mind, a soothing, constant presence.  Lucifer didn’t want to think anymore, and so Hell helped numb him, eager to please and provide what he needed, even if what he needed was nothing

He went days without moving except to breathe. 

He was, as promised, a shield between Earth and the denizens of Hell.  A deterrent.  A tool, if he was feeling less kind about it.

Tools didn't need to think. 

Ash landed near his eye and he blinked.  It had been a while since he'd done that, too.  Frost had gathered in his eyelashes and he half-heartedly rubbed it away.

Perhaps Linda would have told him he was depressed, or disassociating.  Lucifer didn't think either was true. 

He was simply resolved.  Empty.     

It was easier.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer felt a non-human soul pass through the gates of Hell.  He roused instantly, for a sharp moment thinking that a demon had left for Earth.  He was ready to follow them and rend them limb from limb. 

But, before he could bring his wrath to bear, he processed the feeling.  Someone entering Hell; not someone leaving.

An angelic someone.

That was... unusual, but fine.   Lucifer's attention went back to monitoring the barrier.  If the angel left with anyone in tow, he would deal with it.  Otherwise, if they wanted to visit the infernal realm – well, who was he to criticize their vacation choices?

He tuned the presence out and went back to mental drifting.

“Luci!”  Amenadiel called up from below.  “Lucifer!  Don't make me come up there.”

Lucifer closed his eyes.   He took a long breath, feeling the cold wind burn in his lungs.

Lucifer pushed himself out of the throne.  Immortal and invulnerable, he'd still been sitting in that chair long enough that his limbs were stiff with inactivity.  His wings creaked when he opened them to catch his fall.

He wondered how long it had been. 

The spire of a throne was not a place for receiving guests.  That wasn't its purpose.

But, the palace at the base of the throne had a receiving area.  It offered neutral ground for the various demonic clans or any visiting dignitaries that weren't bound to a particular realm, rare though they were.   A functional space.

Normally, the black glass walls would glitter with the reflected firelight from the lit braziers lining the halls.  The area was dark, though, save for the ambient blue light that filtered in from Hell.   Lucifer frowned at the extinguished flames for a moment before realizing the cold had put them out.

He put a hand to the wrought iron and willed the flames to re-ignite.  Reluctantly, they did.  The light they cast was subdued and sulky, and Lucifer was sure it would falter again as soon as he was done with... whatever this was.

“Luci, it is freezing down here,” Amenadiel complained as he entered the room.

Amenadiel's eyes raked Lucifer up and down.  Lucifer could imagine what he looked like; streaked with ash and stone-faced.  He hadn't bothered to style his hair after washing off the aftermath of dealing with the demons.  He was sure it had returned to curls. 

An impulse rose - to ask Amenadiel what brought him here, to inquire about his nephew, or ask about... about everyone else.

The words stayed stuck in his chest, though.   If he opened that door, then what would happen?  What good could possibly come from hearing about the life he'd left behind?

So Lucifer shut his interest down.  Smothered it before it could draw breath. 

Lucifer watched Amenadiel with a detached sort of curiosity.  He was confident that no other demons had crossed the barrier.   Whatever Amenadiel had come to say, it couldn't be important.   Lucifer couldn't let it affect him.

Amenadiel would say it and leave and Lucifer would go back to his vigil.  This moment was something to be endured, but it would pass.

Lucifer leaned back against the wall, half in the shadows cast by the reignited fires.  He regarded Amenadiel, waiting for the other angel to speak.

“Chloe told us what happened,” Amenadiel said.  He paused, as if he expected Lucifer to say something in return, and frowned when he was met with silence. 

“I'm... sorry, Lucifer.  I didn't want this.”

Lucifer shrugged.

It didn't matter what they wanted.   Perhaps it never had.   They were angels, after all – they had been made to serve. 

The irony almost made him smile.   Oh, how Dad must be pleased at this turn of events. 

Lucifer had finally stopped fighting. 

The heat from the brazier was making him uncomfortable after so long in the cold.  Lucifer moved away from it, further into the shadows.   Amenadiel's eyes followed him and the concern on his face deepened.

“Has there been any further trouble?  With the demons?”  Amenadiel asked.

Lucifer shook his head.

“I made myself very clear,” He said, his voice gravelly from disuse.

Amenadiel inhaled as though he intended to ask something, but let the breath out, the words unspoken.

He closed the distance between them and put his hand on Lucifer's shoulder. 

“I... I understand how hard this decision was, Luci.  I'm proud of you.”

Lucifer wished Amenadiel would leave.  He wished Amenadiel would stop touching him.   Amenadiel was offering comfort to the person Lucifer used to be.  It was wasted on him.

Amenadiel's expression flickered into doubt at Lucifer's lack of response. 

At length, he let his hand drop. 

“I should get back to Charlie,” Amenadiel said. 

Lucifer nodded.

Amenadiel lingered, though.

“Oh,” Lucifer said, realizing what must be keeping Amenadiel here.  “Of course.  Have you considered Dan?”

“For what?” Amenadiel asked.

“For godparent to your son,” Lucifer said. 

“Right,” Amenadiel said faintly.  He swallowed.  “Right, Dan would be a good choice.”

Lucifer looked out through the window at the falling ash.  He felt the trickle of souls flowing into Hell.  The architecture swelled and expanded to make room for them.  Hell let him feel the shifting rock and newly created doors, like shells being pushed up from the sand.

A place for everyone.   Everyone in their place.   Everyone.

Lucifer walked to the door.

“Luci-”

“Don't come back,” Lucifer interrupted.  He paused at the threshold, turning his head to meet Amenadiel's eyes.   “Don't come back,” He repeated.

He waited until Amenadiel nodded his understanding before proceeding outside.

The shadows changed and lengthened.   The fires had gone out already. 

Lucifer spread his wings and ascended back to his throne.

It was some time after that before Amenadiel finally left. 

 

~*~

 

“My king,” A voice called from below.   “My king.”

It had been calling for a while.   Lucifer heard it – was aware of it – but the sound hadn’t connected to any meaning until just now.

Tetoros.

Lucifer came back to himself.  He willed his body to reanimate.   With a decisive push, he fell from the throne. 

It felt like such an effort to open his wings to catch his fall.  Really, would the fall even hurt him, from this distance?   One way to find out.

Lucifer’s landing splintered the stone at his feet in a crater.  Tetoros fell back, wide-eyed and frightened.

Lucifer brushed off the ash that had accumulated in the crook of one elbow as he’d sat.  He was a bit surprised that his descent hadn’t blown it off, but perhaps he’d had his arm bent against the wind. 

Lucifer looked at the circumference of damaged rock spreading out from his feet and, with a thought, Hell smoothed the stones back out. 

Lucifer’s attention went back to the barrier. 

“My king,” Tetoros said again.   Ah, right, yes.  There was a reason he’d relocated.  He turned and regarded the demon.

Tetoros had healed from his punishment, mostly, but there was still a tilted, uneven way that he held himself.  Muscles that were still regrowing, probably.   Lucifer had held nothing back.

“There is dissent,” Tetoros said. 

Lucifer waited. 

“Belarl and Ruk,” He supplied.  Lucifer faintly recognized the names.  Younger Lilim. 

He nodded, accepting the intel.  He reached out, and Hell let him know where they could be found.  Lucifer spread his wings.

It felt almost strange to fly.  His body felt like animated stone; like his wings shouldn’t have been able to bear him aloft.

But, well.   His wings had never been firmly bound to physics anyway.

The rows and rows of rattling doors sped away beneath him, until at last he came upon a particular twisted vertical growth of stone.   Hell had pushed up the rocks here like the jagged edge of a tectonic plate.  The shadows were deep and black; the ground splintered and uneven.  The winding corridor of rock was lined on both sides with Hell-loop doors. 

He spotted Ruk first, lingering in the doorway of a loop on the better-lit side of the outcropping.  Belarl exited behind her. 

Lucifer navigated around the jutting shelf of stone and landed in front of them, his back to the shadows.  He folded away his wings.

Both demons gave him challenging, guilty looks.  The animosity pouring off of them was a palpable thing.

“My lord,” Ruk said, and she and Belarl both bent in a lip-service show of obeisance.

There was movement behind Lucifer.  Loop doors opening.  A lot of loop doors opening.

Demons spilled out – dozens, armed and sneering.

An ambush, he realized.  

Lucifer was aware that the thought should have made him feel… something.  Anything. 

But he was indifferent.  This was merely something to be taken care of.  A temporary and tedious nuisance.   He’d deal with it, and then go back to guarding the barrier.

It was what he was thinking when Ruk darted forward and, as he moved to parry, another demon jumped onto Lucifer’s back and dragged a Hell-forged blade across his throat.

 

~*~

 

He thought of Chloe. 

For a moment, regret pushed through his indifference, biting and sour and consuming. 

 

~*~

 

The blade skittered across his neck, not sinking in.  It scraped against him like the knife had been drawn across the throat of a statue.

Lucifer’s skin parted, but not nearly as deeply as it should have; a papercut instead of a lethal gouge.

He flared his wings, pushing the demon off his back.  He swept the bladed primaries in a wide circle, tearing through flesh and bone, severing limbs.  The craggy venue echoed with screams of pain and anger.

Lucifer fought mechanically. 

He was stronger than any of them, one-on-one.  It was easy enough to see that they’d thought to overwhelm him with superior numbers, with weapons that they – and he – had thought would hurt him. 

The fight slogged on for hours.   The Hell-forged blades scratched and tore at him, ripping his suit to ribbons.  Mostly, the strikes were lucky, slipping in under a wing-sweep here, catching his leg on a kick there.  How Mazikeen would berate him for the sloppiness of it all, if she could see him fighting like this.

A low, fast, maiming swipe caught him – a strike meant to castrate – and the last tiny shreds of Lucifer’s restraint disintegrated.

He opened himself up to Hell completely.

With a thought, he willed the jutting shelf of rock to collapse and swallow a good half of the demons down.  Hell gleefully obliged.   With a snarl and gesture, Lucifer split the ground into a wide chasm under their feet.  He took to the air, watching with furious contempt as his enemies tumbled into the sudden abyss.  He clapped his hands together and the chasm closed with a cacophony of shifting rock and a visceral squelching. 

The remaining dozen demons made to flee.   Lucifer would have none of it. 

He shed the tattered remains of his suit.  It was more a hindrance than anything else at this point.   His skin was marred with a multitude of white lines – shallow cuts that hadn’t bled.   Why hadn’t they bled?  He would worry about it later. 

Lucifer gave chase.

Apparently, he hadn’t made himself clear enough the first time; that disobedience wouldn’t be tolerated. 

Perhaps, he had been too merciful.  

He would rectify that.

 

~*~

 

Later – much, much later – Lucifer returned to his throne.

Tetoros hovered nervously at the base, twitching in fear as Lucifer approached.

“My king?” He rasped.  His eyes roved up and down Lucifer’s body, taking in the blood and grime that coated him.  Lucifer flicked aside a piece of – lung, perhaps?  Or brain? – that had stuck to his shoulder.

“Did you know it was a trap, Tetoros?” Lucifer asked placidly. 

The demon blanched and immediately started babbling excuses, terrified.

Lucifer nodded, tuning out the desperate syllables.   Somehow, one of his socks had stayed put when every other article of clothing had been removed or fallen off.  Lucifer pulled the sock off.  His pale toes seemed to be the only part of him not streaked with gore at this point.

“So, not an intentional treachery, then.  Merely a failure,” Lucifer said, cutting through the noise as he threw the sock away.   It landed with a wet sound and a small puff of displaced ash.

The demon fell silent.  The word ‘failure’ hung in the air.

“I was blind to their true intentions, my king,” Tetoros pleaded.  “I thought – I thought they merely meant to -”

“Betray me?” Lucifer said.  “They did.  You weren’t blind, Tetoros.  Merely half-blind.   The left or the right?”

Tetoros blinked.  He stuttered.

“My- my lord, I don’t – I don’t understa-”

“Will you keep your right eye, or your left?”  Lucifer explained gently.  He reached forward with a red-stained hand and stroked the demon’s twisted jaw.   “Choose.  Now.   And rid yourself the other one.”  

Lucifer withdrew his hand and waited.

The demon swallowed once, twice.   He lifted his fingers to his left eye.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer thought about going back to his personal Hell loop for another shower.

Really, though, what was the point?  The way things were going he’d just end up a mess again.

Tetoros dealt with, Lucifer flew up to his throne.   The stone, he knew, should have been punishingly freezing on his naked ass, but Lucifer didn’t feel it.   He didn’t feel the cold at all.  Not because Hell had warmed up; if anything, it had chilled even further. 

His fingers traced one of the narrow cuts lining his chest.   His skin had knit into a barely-visible line of scar tissue.  It’d be gone completely soon.

He touched his neck, thumb stroking back and forth over the faint ridge of healing skin.   Some of the blood that had splashed and frozen on him flaked off and fell.

Having his throat cut would have been… inconvenient.  It would have slain his physical body and weakened him.  Perhaps enough for… what, for the demons to keep him a prisoner, while they went back to cavorting and chaos?

It rang true.   Almost certainly, that had been their plan.

Lucifer stared out at the falling ash contemplatively.

His skin felt hard and frigid under his fingers; more like a statue than a living creature.

Lucifer’s mouth twisted into a bitter smile.   It was accurate enough, he supposed.  Amenadiel had been right about angelic self-actualization.   Lucifer had willed himself to be an object, a desire-less thing, and so a thing he had become.

His thumb stroked his neck, back and forth, back and forth, for the longest time before Lucifer realized what he wasn’t feeling.

He lowered his hand to his cold chest, palm spread over his heart. 

Nothing.  No beating. 

Lucifer took a shaky breath, realizing that it had been the first time he’d done that in a while, too – breathed.

The laughter that burst out of him was breathy, and weak, and desolate. 

There was really no going back, was there?   Even if, by some act of Dad, it became safe to leave Hell without a ruler, Lucifer couldn’t go back to… to-

He let out a long, sighing breath and, once it was released, he didn’t bother to inhale again. 

Ash fell.  Souls poured in.  Hell expanded. 

After a while, Lucifer didn’t even feel despair anymore.

He settled back into the throne and turned his attention to the barrier.  Hell would let him know if he was needed.

He became still.                                                                              

  

Chapter Text

 

The LAPD was not equipped to deal with all of the bodies at The Mayan.  Morgue space and forensics teams from neighboring precincts were called in just to try and start to make order of the chaotic aftermath.

When she joined Lucifer on the balcony, she’d told him it was over, but that hadn’t been entirely true.  The events of the night had just reached a point where she’d been able to leave the scene. 

The drive from The Mayan to Lux had been a disjointed blur.  Chloe’s mind kept replaying the horror of it, over and over.   Lucifer, assuming the mantle of the monster that he so desperately didn’t want to be.

And he’d done it to save them.

The atmosphere on the balcony was heavy and thick with tension.  The conversation unfolded with a cold inevitability.

She told him she loved him.  He told her he loved her. 

And it didn’t matter.

They kissed, and he said goodbye.   His wings – glorious, feathered, white – spread, and then he was gone.

“Please,” Chloe said in the silence he’d left behind.  She was shaking.  “Please, no.  Please, please no.” 

Grief was a nauseating lump twisting her insides, and she hunched over her stomach, pressing her hands hard into her middle to try and keep her gorge from rising.   Tears poured down her cheeks.

Blindly, she stumbled back into Lucifer’s penthouse.   The fireplace and tree-like chandelier were glittering blurs in her vision.  She found one of his couches and sank into it bonelessly, cradling her head in her hands.

For a while, Chloe did not nothing but weep.

This was her fault. 

This was all her fault.

 

~*~

 

Eventually, she settled into a quiet sort of stupor; exhausted and empty.  She had curled up onto the couch by this point, nearly in a fetal position.  Her head throbbed and her eyes burned.  She would have a killer headache in the morning from all of this crying, she knew.

She had left the balcony door open, she realized.   The air conditioning was pouring straight out into Los Angeles.  It was wasteful, and it pricked her into motion. 

She made herself get up from the couch to close the door.  Her reflection in the glass was puffy-eyed and haggard. 

Water.  She should drink some water.  Combat dehydration symptoms. 

Lucifer had a kitchen down the hall away from his ridiculous ‘my bed is a centerpiece’ room design. 

Or maybe it wasn’t ridiculous.  The bar and piano and couches and bed were all out in immediate view from the elevator.  Perfect for sex and entertainment; shallow interactions with one-night stands.  Pieces of himself that Lucifer had shared with others without hesitation or shame. 

You had to move deeper into Lucifer’s home before you found the proof of his softer, more domestic side.  His kitchen.  His linen closet.   A workshop with tools and storage bins.  A guest room, with an actual door – a rarity in the penthouse. 

Her boots echoed on the marble as she walked through his home.   A steady, hollow, damning sound that reminded her that she was here alone.

She poured herself a glass of water straight from the tap.  It hurt to swallow around the lump in her throat but she forced it down anyway.

In his fridge, amidst bottles of champagne and condiments and take-out boxes, there were two large cartons of strawberries – one, half-empty; the other untouched.

Lucifer wouldn’t ever come back and finish them.

The strawberries would sit on the shelf and turn to mold and wither, and he’d be in Hell. 

He shouldn’t have left without these, she thought.  It was nonsense, that mental image.  It was just her brain trying to latch onto anything normal to try and move her through the grief.   Objectively, she knew that.  She knew what tricks her brain was doing, but it didn’t stop her from pulling out the half-eaten carton of strawberries and taking it to his kitchen island, her glass of water in her other hand.

She sat at the island and popped open the carton with a thin rattling of plastic.   There wasn’t a supermarket logo on the box – probably, he’d gotten them from a farmer’s market.  There was a parking lot not far from Lux that hosted a market on the weekends.  Would that be his go-to spot?  Or did he have favorite markets that he went out of his way for?  He’d certainly gotten obsessed with that artisan honey. 

She remembered him dipping his fingers into the honey jar like a child. 

She was ashamed, when she remembered how terrified of him she’d been at the time.  How she’d recoiled from him.  The hurt on his face, on that bridge, when he had realized she wasn’t as okay as she had been pretending to be.

The strawberries were deliciously juicy and tart.   Her mouth watered almost painfully quickly when she bit into them. 

She let her focus narrow down to just that – just the easy way the flesh of the fruit parted for her teeth.  The soft wet sounds.  The juice that trickled down her chin until she caught it with her fingers.   She let herself be overwhelmed by it, because it was easier than thinking about why she was alone in Lucifer’s kitchen eating Lucifer’s abandoned strawberries.

She nibbled down to the green stem and set the remains aside.  She took out another strawberry and repeated the process of eating, almost mechanically, hyper aware of way her lower jaw moved as she chewed.

The marble countertop was black with little veins of white and gray shot through it.  There was a spot, close to her elbow, where the swirls almost looked like a face.  She traced it with her juice-sticky fingertips, chewing and swallowing.  Biting, chewing, and swallowing.

A tiny, stubborn seed caught in her front teeth.   She pushed at it with her tongue.  Then, when that failed, she tried to catch it with a fingernail.  The seed refused to budge, stuck tight, and Chloe slapped the countertop with her other hand in impotent anger and frustration. 

With a growl, she shoved away the carton of strawberries.   It smacked onto the ground with a clatter of plastic, the fruits spilling out onto the kitchen floor with small, dull thuds.

It wasn’t enough.  She snatched up her glass of water and threw that too.   The glass shattered in a wild display, sending shards and water everywhere.

Tears blurred her vision again, but she was angry.  She was furious.

She clawed at her teeth and the seed finally came unstuck.  She spat it out, not caring at all about decorum. 

He was gone.   He was gone.   She loved him, and he was in Hell.  

If she just hadn’t been so stupid… if she had just listened to him, or acknowledged all of the “inexplicable” things he’d done over their years together instead of pushing it aside…

She thought about throwing Lucifer’s blood sample away, and was so angry at herself that she started panting.  

You’re making less sense than you normally do, She’d said, in response to some supernatural thing he’d been rambling about.

He’d been so exasperated with her when he’d replied:  That’s because you still don’t believe me!  Just test my blood, Detective.  Then we can have a real conversation. 

There were so many moments.   So many moments where he’d pushed her towards the truth, and she had chosen to turn away.

Chloe took a long, shuddering breath.   She took another, and another, until it stopped feeling like she was about to snap apart at the seams.

She went to find a dustpan so she could clean up her mess.

 

~*~

 

Chloe barely remembered the drive home.

There had been a moment when she’d been tempted just to stay and sleep in Lucifer’s bed.   Trixie was with Dan.  As drained and shaky as she was, maybe it would be better if she didn’t drive anyway.

But she’d made herself turn away.   The sheets would probably smell like him.  And she didn’t want to wake up in his empty penthouse. 

At home, she could pretend that everything was fine.   She could pretend that her heart wasn’t broken.

 

~*~

 

The massacre at The Mayan was on every news channel.   Mass shootings were commonplace, but a mass stabbing?   Well, that was novel and salacious, especially since the “how” and “why” of it was such a mystery.  The faux-mournful tone that anchors used to talk about it, barely containing a carnivorous glee, turned her stomach. 

The working theory seemed to be that it was all part of a cult movement.    It was, Chloe supposed, close enough to the truth. 

Chloe drifted through her house, tidying and cleaning.  She kept her hands busy.  The roar of the vacuum was used to drown out her thoughts, at least for a while.

She took down Trixie’s pictures, one by one, pulling the tape off the backs carefully so as not to rip the paper.   The gouges and stabs that were revealed on the wall were almost comically numerous.   Maze had absolutely no respect for the security deposit. 

Standing on her step ladder to spackle smooth the marks up by the ceiling, there was a moment when the ladder wobbled.   A moment when she nearly fell to the hardwood below.

And wouldn’t that have just been the icing on the cake?  She thought.  Her killing herself in a home accident the day after Lucifer had sentenced himself to Hell to keep her safe.

Chloe climbed down and bent over, hands braced on the ladder steps, pale and panting, until her heart stopped pounding and her hands stopped shaking. 

It took a while.

 

~*~

 

In the afternoon, she drove over to visit Linda and Amenadiel.   She didn’t know if Lucifer had told them what he’d planned to do, and she didn’t think the conversation was appropriate for text, either. 

“Chloe,” Amenadiel greeted her warmly at the door.  “This is an unexpected…pleasure…” His smile dripped away as he got a good look at her.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

So.  Lucifer hadn’t told him, then.  Chloe swallowed and looked away.

Amenadiel ushered her inside, seeming to understand that Chloe needed a minute to find the words.  In a different room, Chloe could hear the sounds of a baby crying and, faintly, Linda’s voice trying to shush the infant.

The bubble-wrapped ceiling fan caught her attention, and Chloe stared at it as Amenadiel led her to the living room.

“Are you alright?” Amenadiel asked.  His voice was low and gentle.  Amenadiel was a great angel, she thought.  Really fit the mold.

Lucifer had been… well.  He’d been Lucifer.  He was never going to be a tree-topper. 

She missed him so abruptly and completely that her knees buckled, and she collapsed onto the sofa more than really sat on it.

The petulant tone of the baby’s crying rose, and Amenadiel glanced back and forth between Chloe and the unseen room, dithering until Chloe waved a hand at him to go.

Amenadiel stood and walked briskly towards the sound of his son’s caterwauling.  

A door opened.  The crying oscillated up in volume, and fell again as the door closed.

“Decker,” Maze said. 

Chloe jumped.  She hadn’t seen where Maze had appeared from, but the demon settled into the seat Amenadiel had vacated.

“You look like shit,” Maze told her, giving her a once-over.

“Thanks, Maze,” Chloe said. 

“I got the bullets out of that corpse for you, FYI.   I didn’t think you’d want LAPD ballistics to track them back to your gun.  Figured you’d have enough trouble selling the ‘you followed an anonymous tip’ line without having to deal with that, too.”

“I…” Chloe started.  She stopped.  She tried again.  “I...”  She stopped again.

“And don’t worry,” Maze reassured her.  “I made sure the wounds didn’t even look like gunshots.  You’re in the clear.”

“…thank you,” Chloe settled on, pushing aside the horrific mental image of… whatever it was Maze had done.  Desecrating a corpse felt like small potatoes after said corpse had already been forced to host a demon. 

“Any time,” Maze agreed cheerfully. 

The sound of crying rose in volume again and the source of the ruckus was brought into view. 

“Chloe, just the person I was hoping to see,” Linda said.  The baby was cradled up against her shoulder and she walked with a bopping sort of rhythm, trying to rock the child into silence.  Linda made a petite figure in Amenadiel’s shadow.   She had that tired-but-glowing vibe that seemed unique to new mothers. 

“He’s clean, he’s fed, he’s burped, he’s dry, and he’s just woken up from a nap.  No fever or rashes.  My catalogue of Tamagotchi prompts is exhausted,” She grinned at Chloe.  “Any tips or tricks?”

Chloe made a ‘grabby hands’ gesture at the baby and Linda closed the distance between them, settling the infant into Chloe’s arms with a relieved and wry expression.

“Trixie was a caterwauler, too,” Chloe said.   Baby Charlie definitely had a good set of lungs on him.  “Do you know if he’s a silky baby or a fluffy baby?”

“A what?” Amenadiel asked, brow wrinkling in total bafflement.

“Some babies really like fluffy, cottony textures, and some like satiny/silky textures.  When Trixie was being fussy, we’d give her her happy elephant, and she’d squeeze the lining on its ears.  Calmed her right down.”

Chloe rocked Charlie.  Her body remembered this motion and flooded her memory with Trixie.  She had been underweight at birth.  Such a tiny baby.  Dan had nearly been able to hold all of her in one hand. 

She remembered the baths in the sink.  The absolute chaos of feeding time once she moved from bottles to soft food.  The visceral pangs she’d felt every time Trixie had picked up a scrape or rugburn or a bruise once she started crawling.  The best corner protectors in the world hadn’t been able to keep that determined little girl from getting into trouble. 

“I don’t think I have any silky toys,” Linda said, despairing.  “I think all of his stuffed animals are fluffy.  Oh dear.”

“Do you have a scarf or a blouse, maybe?” Chloe murmured.  Charlie’s tiny hands caught and pulled at a loose strand of her blonde hair.  She winced as he yanked.  “You couldn’t leave it with him but he might like playing with it now.”

“I’ll go check,” Linda said, already turning to head presumably back to her bedroom.

Amenadiel settled on the sofa beside her.   He stroked the squalling infant’s cheek.

“I haven’t heard screaming like that since I was in Hell,” Maze said fondly from her sprawl in the opposite chair. 

The words were an unintentional knife in Chloe’s gut.

Chloe’s vision blurred, and her breath stuttered.  Like there suddenly wasn’t enough room in her chest for her diaphragm to expand. 

She looked down at the baby and tried, hard, not to follow his lead and give in to the urge to cry.

“Chloe?” Amenadiel asked softly.  His hand moved from Charlie’s cheek to her back, gentle and soothing, and it was that kindness that broke her.

“I need you not to judge me, Chloe,” Linda said, humor and chagrin lilting her voice as she came back into the living room.  “But it’s the first thing I found with a silky texture.   I - Oh.”

Chloe handed the baby back to Amenadiel so she could properly bury her face in her hands.   She felt so shaky anyway that she didn’t feel safe holding him anymore.

“Oh Chloe, what’s wrong?” Linda asked.

“Where’s Lucifer?” Maze asked, too shrewd.

Charlie’s wailing subsided and, in the quiet left behind, the ragged, upset breaths that spilled from Chloe were loud, embarrassing.  She blushed with shame even as the tears just kept on coming.

“Hell,” She forced out.  “He said… they’d keep coming.  And the only way to stop them was –” Her throat tightened and she couldn’t continue.

Linda wrapped Chloe up in a hug.  Chloe turned her face into Linda’s shoulder, grateful and heart-sick and overwhelmed.   She was so tired of crying but she couldn’t get her body to stop

“He went back?”  Maze said blankly.  “Did he say how long he’d be gone?”

“He’s not coming back.  He told me he loved me, and then – he’s gone.  He’s gone.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Linda said, rubbing her back.

“I’m so sorry, Chloe,” Amenadiel said gently. 

Maze snorted.

“‘Sorry’s not going to do shit for her right now.  Decker.  Let’s go get you drunk,” Maze said.   Chloe pulled away from Linda’s shoulder to look over at the demon.   On the way, her eyes caught and held on Charlie.

The baby in Amenadiel’s hands was playing with a black, lacey bra.  Chloe frowned down at it.

“It’s all I had,” Linda said, shrugging in a ‘what can you do’ sort of way.

Charlie flopped the bra back and forth in his stubby grip, gurgling contentedly. 

“A drink sounds… really good,” Chloe admitted.  A bit of numbness to hold between herself and the heartache.

It couldn’t be a permanent solution, but she could let it be a solution just for tonight.

Maze paused only long enough to snap a few pictures of Charlie with the bra, ignoring Amenadiel’s protests, before collecting Chloe and shepherding her outside.

 

~*~

 

Maze insisted on driving, and Chloe didn’t even protest.  She let herself be led. 

Los Angeles blurred by in the passenger-side window – bright sunlight, vibrant and tacky billboards, palm trees, pedestrians.   Her eyes and throat ached.  She hated crying.

Chloe rested her head against the glass, relieved to let someone else take control, if only for a little while.

The bar was barely more than a dive.  The bartender perked up and offered an enthusiastic greeting to Maze as she stomped in, Chloe in tow.  Clearly, he knew her.

“Tequila, and lots of it,” Maze ordered.   The bartender handed over the entire bottle.  He really did know Maze.  At a gesture, he proffered up two glasses as well.

Maze navigated them to a poorly lit booth.   The vinyl seats were cracked with bits of puffy cotton padding poking through.   The table was dark wood that had been scratched and stained by years of spilled drinks and rough treatment.  Chloe felt a surreal spike of kinship for it.  Did anyone care about this table?  Someone must have, at one point.  And here it was, neglected and battered and still standing.

“Are you crying again?”

“No,” Chloe lied, pushing away the moisture that clung to her lashes with the tips of her fingers.   She had read, somewhere, that humans could pack-bond with anything.  She had just bonded with a fucking table. 

She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly.

“No,” Chloe repeated more firmly, setting her jaw.  “Tequila, please,” She said. 

Maze filled both their glasses like she was pouring juice.   Chloe should’ve realized that was the game plan when Maze hadn’t gotten shot glasses.

Tequila wasn’t really a ‘sipping’ liquor, but she shrugged.

The first gulp burned all the way down.   It hit her stomach and spread out warm fingers.   She belatedly realized it had been quite a while since the last time she’d eaten.   She hadn’t had an appetite.   The tequila wasn’t going to have to work very hard to make her fuzzy.

She wanted to ask Maze about Hell.

She wanted to, and she didn’t want to.  Mazikeen would know the truth and, while Chloe’s mind was painting awful enough pictures as it was, at least in Hell Lucifer had been a ruler.   That had to have perks, right?

Maybe, even though it wasn’t what he wanted, Lucifer could be happy, there.  Maybe he would be busy and content and… and maybe Hell wasn’t Hell to him.  Maybe he would be okay.

Mazikeen would be able to tell her, if she asked.

Chloe didn’t ask.

If she was wrong, and he was suffering, there was still nothing she could do.  

Chloe took another long swallow of the tequila.   The burn loosened up the tightness in her throat.  Painful, but… not necessarily in a bad way. 

They drank silently for a while.  It was a contemplative and companionable silence, and it was so unlike her normal interactions with Maze that, once Chloe noticed it, it was jarring.

The demon seemed content to stare at the abused table.  Maybe she’d found some kinship with it, too.

Her eyes flashed up and met Chloe’s curious gaze.   With a rueful twist of her lips, Maze pushed her glass forward just enough to click against Chloe’s.  A small toast.

“What was that for?” Chloe asked.

“Loving and losing, right?”  Maze said, the thin veneer of cheerfulness in her voice making Chloe realize that the other woman was also mourning.  “Isn’t that a thing you humans toast?”

Maze finished her drink and poured another, just as plentiful as the last one.   They had already made decent progress on the bottle.

 

~*~

 

Later, drunker, Chloe had settled her head against the warped wooden tabletop.  She traced the stains and knots with her fingertips.  Like swirls in marble.  Like Lucifer’s countertops.

“I really miss him,” She said in a small voice.

Maze took another drink.

“How’m I gonna tell Trix about it?” Chloe continued.  “I can’t say he went to Hell.   But she’ll miss him.  She misses you.  You should come home, Maze.”

Maze quirked her eyebrow at Chloe.  Chloe could just see the motion from the corner of her eye from her position on the table.

“Come home, Maze, please,” Chloe slurred.  She was drunk, but she knew what she was saying.  “I shouldn’t have kicked you out.   I mean I didn’t kick you out, but I should have asked you to stay when you kicked yourself out.  I was an idiot.  I’m sorry.  I’m really, really sorry.  Trixie misses you.  And I need a rent partner.   And I really, really don’t want to find someone from Craigslist.  I work in homicide.  I know too much.”

Maze snorted.

“Yeah, I’d kick your ass if you jeopardized the little human.”

“Right?” Chloe said, like Maze had underscored her point.

Maze drummed her fingers on the table.   She didn’t even seem tipsy despite having finished most of the bottle.

“I’ll move back if you want me too, but… Decker, you know he would have wanted you to have his money if you needed it.  I know his safe combinations.  His bank info, too, for that matter.”

“And what if he comes back and finds out I’ve spent it all on… on… on American Girl dolls and…” She drew a blank.

A beat passed.  Neither of them mentioned that Lucifer wasn’t coming back.

“I’ll move back in,” Maze said, breaking the heavy atmosphere that had settled.  “I’ve kind of missed spending time with the little human anyway.  The baby is completely untrainable.  Can’t even hold a knife properly.”

Chloe let her hand drift across the table top and tangled her fingers with Maze’s.  She gave the demon a squeeze.   “Thank you, Maze,” Chloe said.  

“Yeah,” Maze said, and squeezed her fingers in response.

 

~*~

 

Chloe went through the motions of going to work.  She dressed, ate breakfast, drove in the familiar maddening LA traffic.  

She touched the unhealthy leaves of the potted plant at her desk.  It never had bounced back fully from… whatever it was that Lucifer had done to it.  She kept meaning to replace it, but felt guilty about throwing it away when it was still trying at least half-heartedly to live.

She logged in to her computer and started going through her emails.  There was a reminder about prepping for an upcoming court date – a case she’d completed a few months ago.  The details were still sharp in her mind and Chloe wasn’t concerned about the deposition. 

“Have you seen Lucifer?” Dan asked by way of greeting.  Chloe made herself swallow around the lump in her throat.  She pushed down her feelings and smiled at Dan.

“He’s not coming in today,” Chloe said.  “Urgent business that he needed to see to.”

Dan chewed his lip. 

Chloe didn’t ask.  She didn’t want to learn that Lucifer had put up more ‘Chewbacca noise’ signs, or some other bit of harmless mischief that hadn’t yet come to fruition before everything had fallen apart.  

She couldn’t deal with Dan hating Lucifer right now.  Not in the wake of the sacrifice Lucifer had made.

“Decker,” The new lieutenant called.  “Got a body.”   He held up a folder as he approached her desk.  “Where’s that partner of yours?”

“He’s unavailable,” Chloe said, factual and flat.

The lieutenant grunted.

“Espinoza, you’ll be working with her then.  Forensics is already there.  Get to it,” He said, handing the folder over to Dan and walking away without waiting for acknowledgement.   Chloe rolled her eyes and Dan gave her a commiserating look.  The new lieutenant was shaping up to be nearly as much of a prick as Pierce had been, without the excuse of being Cain.

If given a choice, she wouldn’t have taken ‘cursed by God’ and ‘sociopathic  murderer’ over ‘office politics’ and ‘male chauvinism’ but…  it was a close battle. 

 

~*~

 

The body had been dumped in a flood control channel.   It had rained two days ago and, where the cement wasn’t already dry and baking under the sun, there were wide, shallow puddles that had yet to fully evaporate.

The body, dropped amongst the litter and a few tenacious weeds, absolutely reeked.  Crows or some other carrion bird had gotten to it already, taking advantage of the multiple existing stab wounds to get at the tasty bits inside.  Loops of intestine were spilled out onto the cement.

It wasn't the grossest crime scene Chloe had ever worked, but it was up there.  She happily accepted the pot of Vicks when Ella offered it over and rubbed a bit under her nose.   She passed it to Dan and he quickly followed suit.

“Thanks,” She said to Ella.  “What've we got?” 

“No ID on him yet; wallet's missing and no prints in the system.  Definitely wasn't killed here.   This is a body dump for sure.   Cause of death is blood loss from that stab in the neck.  That's kinda weird, right?  Who stabs someone in the neck and then also stabs them in the chest?”

Ella shook her head.

“Time of death?” Dan prompted.

“Yesterday morning.  I'll need to run some tests to narrow that window down a bit more.  Get this, though,” She said, pulling back the blood-soaked shirt to reveal a raw patch of flesh underneath.   The area around the missing skin looked like it was colorfully tattooed under all the blood.  “It looks like whoever did this removed part of a tattoo.”

 “Something identifying, maybe.  Or something personal,” Chloe said.  “That work looks intricate,” She said, waving at the rest of the tattooed skin.  “Expensive.  We can run it by the local artists and see if anyone can identify the work, find out what was removed.   Dan?”

“Yeah, I can follow up on it while we run missing persons and see if there's a match.”

“Great.  I'll start -” Chloe began, and stopped, startled, as across the flood control channel, a hate-filled, bellowing voice shouted out.

“You!” The stranger hollered.   He was a big man, muscular, tall, dressed like a biker.  There was dried blood smeared across his neck and down his chest, visible through the flapping sides of his leather vest as he stumbled intently down the sides of the channel.

He was pointing at Chloe.

Fear dumped adrenaline into her bloodstream by the bucket.  The man was corpse-pale.  As he approached, the gaping wound in his neck was damningly visible.

The possessed body looked at her and its lips pulled back in a hateful snarl.   He approached the caution tape dictating the crime scene space and ripped it aside. 

You,” He hissed again.  “You're the reason!  It's your fault!  It's your fault he's like this – why he hates us!”

“This is a closed scene,” One of the attending officers said in a ‘don’t fuck with me’ cop voice.  “Sir, you need to leave.”  He stepped forward and put a hand against the man’s chest, intent clear to hold him back.   His free hand drifted down to the mace at his belt, the threat obvious.

The dead biker smiled.  His pale, cloudy eyes switched their focus from Chloe to the officer. 

In a blur, the demon thrust its arms forward, pushing the officer so hard the man became airborne.  He flew across the separating space and landed on top of the victim with a wet squelch.  The office groaned pitifully.

 “Woah!”  Ella yelled, horror thick in her voice.  “Woah!  Woah, woah, woah!”  

“Sir, if you do not stop, I will shoot!”  Dan barked.  

The demon continued forward.

Dan opened fire. 

The shot hit the demon on the left side of its chest.   The sound, so close to Chloe’s ear, made her wince and flinch. 

This shouldn’t be happening, she thought, again and again in a loop.   This shouldn’t be happening.  Lucifer  went to Hell so that exactly this wouldn’t happen.  This shouldn’t be happening. 

The demon jerked back slightly at the impact but didn't fall.   Dan fired again. 

The demon laughed; a twisted, sneering sound of contempt as it rolled it head forward to stare with its death-pale eyes.

“Wasn't easy,” It said, ignoring Dan, ignoring the new holes decorating its torso.  The blood that dribbled down his chest was dark and sluggish.  For anyone with experience with injuries – gunshots in particular - it couldn’t have been more obvious that the man was already dead.

“What the fuck,” Dan breathed.  

“Wasn't easy to find this one,” The demon continued.  “Had to jump and jump and jump to get close to you.   But worth it, worth it, worth the effort.  I'll destroy you,” It snarled at Chloe, teeth bared.  “And things will go back to how they're supposed to be!”

It lunged.

Chloe braced to defend herself, cursing her slow reaction time.  She should have had her gun drawn already – now, it was too late. 

The impact was interceded by a wide, gray wall of... feathers.

Ash billowed in the abruptly frozen air.   The temperature had plummeted so immediately that Chloe's skin stung.  Her breath caught in her lungs and, when she gasped, the ash sent her into a coughing fit.

The massive wings curled and arched aggressively and, with a sweep, they threw the demon away from her.   The corpse's skull hit the cement with an audible 'crack.'

Lucifer stood with his back to her.  He was filthy – caked in ash and dried blood – and he was completely naked.   His hair was longer – longer than it should have been for the few short days he'd been gone.  His stubble had grown into a short, scraggly beard.

“Lucifer,” She managed through her coughing. 

He turned, just slightly, and glanced at her from the corner of his burning, red eyes.   

“Lucifer,” She repeated.   He turned more.  The wrath in his expression melted into a naked sort of longing.

He looked terrible.  Like a neglected thing left on the side of the road.   Worse was the forlorn, hopeless expression he wore.  It was far too human for those flaming eyes. 

“My king, my king, please!”  The demon yelled, and the moment broke.  Lucifer blinked, almost like a flinch, and when he turned away from her, his face was once more hardened into a mask of fury.

 “She is poison!  Poison!  Once she's gone-”

Lucifer pounced so quickly Chloe couldn't follow the movement.  One moment, he was in front of her.   The next, he was crouched with his hand wrapped tight around the demon’s throat. 

An inhuman growl rumbled through the air, low and loud.   Lucifer stood, lifting the possessed body by that grip on its neck, and then with a powerful wingbeat, he plunged them both downward.   With a sound like howling wind, Lucifer, the demon, and the biker’s body vanished.

“Wait, please!  Please, Lucifer, come back!  Come back.  Come back,” She said.  She rushed to the spot and fell to her knees, pressing her hands to the icy pavement.

The ground was so cold it burned her palms.   Tears pricked Chloe’s eyes.  They welled up and overflowed, spilling down her cheeks. 

“Please,” She said helplessly, hopelessly.  She clenched her hands into fists against her thighs.

Her breathing sounded too loud and too harsh in the silence that had fallen. 

She knew he wasn't coming back. 

Worse, that glimpse of him was more than enough to know that he wasn't okay, not at all, and the knowledge twisted her insides into knots.

The officer that had been thrown across the first body groaned and sat up, then scrambled off of the victim with a horrified exhalation.

“Did that just happen?”  Dan said faintly.   He still had his gun drawn, pointed at the ground now, in his trembling hands.   “Did that just fucking happen?”

The nearby standing puddles had turned to ice.  The cloud of ash that Lucifer had brought with him had started to settle in a wide arc around the crime scene but it still hung in the air, black and sulfurous.

“Oh God,” Ella said.  “Oh God.  Oh God.  Oh God.”  The words were repeated like a hiccup.  Involuntary. 

Ella stripped off the purple nitrile gloves she'd been wearing and let them fall carelessly to the ground.   A bit of wind caught one mid-air and brought it to settle against the victim's arm.  Ella either didn't notice or didn't care.

Without a word to any of them, she jerkily walked away from the scene. 

“Lucifer -” Dan started.  He stopped.  “Lucifer,” He said again with weight. 

Chloe swallowed.  The lump in her throat was painful, massive.   She swallowed again.

She took a deep breath.   The air was still so cold that it nearly hurt her lungs.  But she could tell that it was, at least, already warming up again under the California sun.

Dan looked pale and sweaty with shock.   The rest of the forensics team and the officers that had come to secure the crime scene looked...

Well.

They looked like their fundamental understanding of the world had been turned upside down.

Someone needed to take control of this situation.  Of all of them, as shattered as she was right now, she was the best equipped.   Chloe pushed herself up to her feet.  She ran her hands over her cheeks, brushing away her tears.   She could have a break-down later. 

“Go home,” Chloe ordered them, forcing her trembling voice to be firm.  A 'don't question me because I have authority here' voice.  “You're not in danger.  What you just saw... it wasn't about you.  You might just want to forget you saw it.  Call in a secondary unit so we can get this homicide processed, and just... go home.”

They looked grateful for the direction.  Shaken and looking at each other as if to verify their sanity, they moved back to their cruisers. 

Chloe watched them leave.   She was shivering – whether from the cold air or the adrenaline crash or the stress, she wasn't sure.  Maybe all three.

When Dan closed his hand around her arm, Chloe startled so badly that she nearly took a swing at him.

“Chloe –” He started.  He stopped.   His mouth worked without shaping any words. 

Chloe could read all of the shock and horror and awe in Dan’s eyes.  She knew exactly what he was feeling. 

“You’re okay,” Chloe told him.   Being given a task – of calming people down – oddly did wonders for making Chloe herself feel centered and calm.   “Breathe.   Dan, breathe.”

Dan breathed.   His hands on Chloe’s shoulders flexed tightly enough that she wondered if she’d have bruises.   She stifled a flinch.

“What the fuck,” Dan said softly.   He pulled his hands back and rubbed them over his face, across his mouth.  The ash in the air left smudges across his skin in the wake of his fingers.

“I know it’s a lot to take in,” Chloe said. 

“He’s Lucifer.”  

“Yeah,” Chloe said.  She swallowed. 

Lucifer.   Is Lucifer.”

Dan paced away, his body filled to the brim with tension and unspent energy.  Not quite a panic attack but… not far from it, either.

“He is, yeah.  The other side of that, though, is that Lucifer is Lucifer,” Chloe offered.

Dan paused and cocked his head at her. 

“Lucifer,” She elaborated.  “Satan himself.  The fallen archangel.”

Dan’s eyes got wider with each description, so she moved on.

“Did you know that he likes dipping potato chips in Nutella when he’s high?” She asked.

“What?” The question was barely more than a shaped breath.  A quiet, confused exhalation. 

Chloe’s heart expanded with empathy for him.   She smiled, trying to convey with her body language that, yes, the universe as he understood it had been flipped onto its head, but everything was still okay. 

“Lucifer’s always been honest about – not just what he is.  He’s been honest about who he is.  I’m not expecting you to wrap your head around this now.  It took me months.  It’s why I took Trixie and went to Rome.”

“Rome,” Dan echoed.  His brow wrinkled. 

“The Vatican, specifically.  I was looking for answers from a bunch of people that only pretended to know.  It was… it’s a long story.”    

Dan chewed his lip.  He looked at the ice that was rapidly melting back into puddles of standing water.  

“What was… that,” Dan gestured at the spot where Lucifer had disappeared with the biker’s body.  “A zombie?  Are zombies real?”

“No.   Not a zombie.  It was a body that was demonically possessed.”

“He was coming after you,” Dan said.

“Yeah,” Chloe exhaled shakily.   “I noticed that.”

“Why was he coming after you?”

“I don’t know.  I have a… a theory, but… like I said, it’s a long story.”

Dan shook his head. 

“I don’t… I don’t…” But whatever it was, he couldn’t say.

“I’m going to follow up with the precinct and make sure a secondary unit’s been called in to assist,” Chloe said gently.  “There’s still a homicide here that needs to be dealt with.  But I think, for now, you should probably go home.  I’ll pick up Trixie tonight.  We’ll talk when you’re ready, okay?” Chloe said.   She reached out and grabbed one of his hands, squeezing in what she hoped was a reassuring manner.  

Dan still looked shell-shocked but he set his jaw in a determined, stubborn line.

“What if there’s another attack?” He asked.  “I shouldn’t leave you here alone.”

Chloe nodded.

“That’s fine,” She agreed easily.  “Why don’t we go back over to your cruiser to wait until the backup unit arrives?”

She moved her hand up to Dan’s elbow.  He allowed himself to be shepherded away from the scene. 

The air was noticeably warmer away from the epicenter of Lucifer’s appearance.  They settled against the sunnier side of his car – not too far from the scene in case the crows decided to come back.  It was a baking sort of heat but, at the moment, it was welcome.

Minutes passed, silent except for the distant swish of traffic from the nearby road.

“Malcolm told me that Hell was real,” Dan said at length.   Chloe looked over at him.  “When he had me kidnapped.  I was trying to reason with him, but he told me he was doing what he was doing to avoid going back to Hell.   And I just… I mean, how do you negotiate with that?   I thought he was crazy.”

“He was crazy,” Chloe said bitterly.  She sighed.  “He just wasn’t wrong about Hell.”

“Charl-” The name caught in Dan’s throat.  He swallowed once.  Twice.  

He exhaled, and then lapsed back into silence.   Whatever he was thinking, he wasn't ready to talk about it.

The secondary forensics team arrived.   Chloe wasn’t sure what story the first unit had told them about why they had all had sudden, urgent, personal business to take care of elsewhere, but the team that wandered up was joking and theorizing about stomach bugs and/or winning lottery pools.

“Decker,” One of them greeted.  “And hey, Espinoza.  Hey man.”

“Colin,” Dan nodded back at him, still looking through the ground with a thousand-yard stare.

“Y’all escaped from the flu, huh?   And what happened to the scene – did a toner cartridge explode?”  He laughed.

“Something like that,” Chloe interjected smoothly.  She patted Dan’s arm and gave him a look – a bit of silent communication that she could take care of things from here.   He met her eyes and, giving the incoming team a scrutinizing once-over, nodded and righted himself.  He headed around to the driver side of his cruiser. 

Chloe approached Colin, already describing the known details of the case.

Behind them, Dan started his car and drove away.

Chapter Text

 

Jay Lopez’s apartment was a full hour's drive away from the crime scene.

Ella didn’t remember any of it.   Later, she would be concerned about having driven in that condition.   She’d been in a car wreck that had almost killed her when she was younger, and seen the aftermath of plenty of collisions – accidental or otherwise – that distracted driving was a huge no-no in her books.   Her phone never left her purse when she was behind the wheel of her car.  She didn’t eat in her car, either, for the same reason.   Not while she was driving.   There were many an occasion where the temptation of hot French fries had led to her parking at mid-way destinations on the way home.  

‘Existential crises’ would probably get added to the list of ‘things not to do while driving.’

Later. 

Once she had a chance to process.

Ella pulled into Jay’s driveway and parked.   For the first time in what felt like ages, she blinked and took in her surroundings.

She hadn’t even realized she’d been heading here.  It had been a subconscious decision; seeking out her older brother.

Ella took the keys out of the ignition, pressed herself back into the car seat, and let herself feel overwhelmed. 

There was a tall, spindly-looking blue gum eucalyptus stretching up from a square of unpaved, cultivated space in the sidewalk outside the apartment building, like the tree was a garden feature instead of an invasive species.   She watched the wind tug at its shedding bark and rustle its droopy leaves. 

She didn’t know how long she just sat and stared.   She was roused from her stupor when she felt sweat trickle down her face. 

“Idiot,” She grumbled at herself, opening her door and stepping out of her under-the-sun, windows-up, overheating car.   The disparity of temperatures was striking and she paused on the sidewalk to wipe away her sweat and take in deep lungfuls of the far more temperate air. 

She walked on wobbly legs up to Jay's door.  Ella realized, after she knocked and no one answered, that it was barely mid-morning on a weekday.  Jay would be at work authenticating for hours yet. 

Ella huffed an annoyed breath at her ongoing discombobulation and fumbled through her collection of keys to find his.   She did seem to accumulate a lot of people's spare keys – a go-to person in the precinct if people needed a cat fed or a plant watered when they were on vacation.

Jay's apartment wore the earmarks of a bachelor trying to pretend they weren't a bachelor.    Tasteful furniture, tasteful curtains, but dirty dishes, beer cans, and take-out boxes left on the tables.  Socks left tucked into his shoes instead of circulating to the laundry.  Empty Amazon boxes left in his living room instead of broken down and disposed. 

Ella toed off her shoes by the door. 

“Jay,” She called loudly, just in case he'd skipped work or was sick or having a nooner or something.

No one answered.

The walls of the apartment were attractively hung with their abuelita's paintings.  Beautiful, colorful surrealistic underwater landscapes.   Detailed oil still lifes; cornucopias, blossoming flowers.   Charcoal daguerreotype-style portraits and snaps of life sketches.   Granny Lopez had been a prolific and versatile artist.

Ella ran her fingers along one of the frames – an oil recreation of sunlit stained glass; one of the windows from the church they'd gone to when she'd been a child.  The Virgin Mary with her arms open and welcoming.   The glossy, vibrant blues and golds almost seemed to glow.

Ella's fingers trembled.

Ella looked at the Virgin's gentle face captured in careful brushstrokes.   She remembered watching her abuela paint.  The air would smell like turpentine and oil, and faintly of the lavender perfume her grandmother used to wear.  The woman would hum hymns as she worked, or as she listened to a 10 year old Ella prattle on about the woes of growing up with older brothers.  She would smile that knowing smile and tell Ella that her pain-in-the-ass siblings were gifts from God.  

“Like socks,” Granny Lopez had said.   “They might seem like awful gifts, but you need them when you're younger, and you'll really appreciate them when you're older.”

And it had been a joke, shared just between the two of them.   When Ella's brothers started working her last nerve, Granny would tell her “Mind your socks,” and even at Ella's grouchiest and most aggrieved, the silly comparison could get her to smile.

“I miss you,” Ella told the painting.  Granny had died while Ella had been a school pursuing her forensics degree.  A compromised immune system from HIV, a bad flu season, and she'd been gone.   Ella had gotten the news that she'd been hospitalized and the news that she'd died within hours of each other; voicemails on her phone when she'd been taking her exams. 

Looking at the Virgin, Ella thought about her faith.   Her grandmother had believed so completely; so unshakably.   It had shaped Ella when she'd been younger.  Her grandmother's unwavering belief that Heaven was waiting for her when she died had been the raft that held Ella afloat in the grief and shock of losing her.  Her grandmother was in Heaven, and she was at peace. 

Heaven.  Which... was a real place.  Just like Hell was real.  Just like Lucifer was real.

I'm the Devil.  I am the angel who led a rebellion against my father, God.  I was banished to Hell afterwards where I ruled as king over the souls of the damned. 

And Ella had laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  Wasn't it such a funny joke.   This tall, handsome, well-dressed actor pretending to be the Adversary while solving cases for the LAPD and... and teasing Dan, and mooning after Chloe, and listening to Ella ramble on about blood saturation and acting like her friend.

It was ridiculous; Lucifer being the actual Devil.

But Ella couldn't forget what she'd seen.

Lucifer's wings – his eyes – the unmistakable aura of power that had poured off of him -

It was like the image was burned behind her eyes. 

Ella swallowed, hard.   The Virgin's peaceful, accepting expression made something inside herself pop loose.  She trembled, feeling vaguely queasy and overwrought.  

She stared at the Virgin with blurry eyes.  She exhaled slowly.  Inhaled slowly.  She counted out the breaths until she felt steadier.

Ella's phone chimed with an incoming message and she startled so badly that she yelped. 

She fumbled the device out of her pocket.  It was a text from Chloe.

Checking on you.  I know it's a lot.  Stuck @ scene but FYI Linda knows.  Talk to her.  I'll call you when I finish here.

Ella typed back I’m OK and hit send, trying not to overthink it.  She gave the painting frame one more loving tap and moved deeper into Jay's apartment.

Ella paused again, leaning against the doorway separating Jay’s kitchen from his living room.   She drummed her fingers against her phone case and took a moment to breathe, and to think, and to process.

She lifted her phone to call Linda, and stopped, lowering it again.  She lifted it to call Dan, and, again, stopped.  She didn’t know what to say, what to ask… she needed to think about it more before she dove in.

Still letting her thoughts wander, she continued into the kitchen and rifled through Jay’s pantry.

If she was going to have a serious soul-searching moment, she could at least do it with some Cap’n Crunch.

 

~*~

 

She was on her third bowl of cereal when Jay arrived home.   Her mouth was sore from the sugar and the shrapnel-candy nature of Cap’n Crunch, but the sugar rush and full feeling of her stomach were both too pleasant to complain.

“Ella, hey, I thought that was your car,” Jay said by way of greeting.  “You don’t text?  I could’ve been bringing a girl back.”

“On a Tuesday?” Ella returned, the banter easy and familiar, executed with half a thought.  “Please, you’re not that much of a player.”

“I could be,” Jay sniffed.  He kicked off his shoes in the entryway and rolled his shoulders.   Ella could hear his neck crack.

“Gross,” She complained, and so he did it again.

Jay shuffled over and sat on the couch next to Ella.

“So, what’s up?”  Jay asked.  He frowned at the now-empty box of cereal.  He picked it up and rattled it with a dour look.  “You didn’t work today?   Decided to come over and eat all my cereal instead?”

“I left work early,” Ella said.  She had called the Lieutenant and claimed sudden and awful illness.  From the Lieutenant’s response, apparently it was the favorite excuse for the rest of the team, too.  Happily, the man had sounded resigned and aggrieved by it, rather than suspicious.

Ella gave a blustering exhale and Jay leaned over, letting his shoulder settle against hers.

“I don’t know how you look at bodies all day, chica.   It’d make me crazy,” He said, misunderstanding the source of her disquiet.

“Oh, the crime scene was actually really interesting,” Ella said, perking up.  “The vic had part of a tattoo removed.”   She traced the area on her own chest with her finger. “And you know what, actually, thinking about it... that was a large stretch of skin that was taken off, but the removal didn’t have any ragged edges or tearing.   The cuts themselves didn’t really go any deeper than they needed to, which… speaks of control more than violence.”

She brought her phone out and started texting Chloe.

The tattoo removal – looking for really sharp knife and a really steady hand.  Probs someone with medical knowledge. 

She hit ‘send’ with a little thrill of satisfaction.  The Crunch-raw corners of her mouth twinged with mild, achy pain.

Jay shook his head.

“Okay, I’m with you so far.  You had a perfectly morbid, interesting corpse to puzzle over,” He stated.   The ‘so why are you here’ prompt hung unspoken in the air between them.

Ella tapped her fingers on her phone case.

“Hey, El,” Jay said quietly.  “What's wrong, huh?  Need me to kick some dude's ass?”

“Please.  Like I couldn't beat you in a fight,” Ella said.  She brushed her bangs away from her face.  She nibbled at her thumb – a terrible habit, and a tell that she was nervous.  Jay knew it too, and the playful look he had been giving her dripped away into genuine concern.

“I haven’t talked about it but… I’d been struggling with my faith,” She confessed quietly.  Jay’s frown deepened and he brought up a hand to rub her shoulder, comfortingly.  He didn’t interrupt her, though, and she was grateful.

“I went through a… well, a ‘crisis of faith’ sounds so cliché, but it’s…” She shrugged.  “Accurate.   I gave up on God.  I stopped going to church.  I really just... I let bleakness and doubt run the show.”

Jay’s eyes wandered down to the cross at Ella’s neck, and her fingers came up to clasp it.

“Yeah,” She agreed, though he hadn’t said anything.  “I made peace with the Big Guy kinda recently.  Reconnected with my faith.  And it’s been good.”

“Well that’s… good?” Jay hazarded. 

Ella bit her lip and nodded.

“It’s good,” She confirmed.  “And I’ve been re-finding my footing with it all, but then at work today, I just… well, I had a faith bomb go off in my face, and I- I’m still figuring out how to react to it.”

“Was it Lucifer?” Jay asked, and his voice had gone tight and strange.   Ella brought her meandering gaze sharply back to him.  He looked spooked.

“Jay…” She said slowly.  “Why do you think it was Lucifer?”

“No reason,” He said, giving her a tight, fake smile.

“That’s not ‘no reason!’” She accused.  She slapped his shoulder and he flinched, recoiling away from her.

“It’s nothing!”

“Your face is telling me otherwise!”

“Quit hitting me!  It’s just his eyes!   When I got involved in that… that murder case, over the serial numbers on the diamonds, he flashed his eyes at me.”  Jay wiggled his index and middle fingers at his own face.

Ella stilled her hand.

“You saw his eyes,” She said.   She exhaled heavily, then growled and smacked him again.   “You’ve known he was the Devil for more than a year.  And you didn’t tell me!”

“I didn’t know he was the Devil,” Jay protested, hands raised defensively, even though Ella wasn’t hitting him hard at all.  “I thought, maybe, it was a trick of the light, or… or…or… I don’t know!  Hypnotic suggestion!”

Ella slouched back into the couch and scrubbed her hands over her cheeks.

“Lucifer is the actual Devil,” She said, trying the words out to see if saying them out loud would make them less insane.  She wasn’t having trouble accepting that the Devil was real.  She’d – with only a brief lapse of faith - always believed that.  It was way more surreal, though, to accept that the Devil was Lucifer. 

“Oh my God, I went to a nudist colony with him,” She blurted.

“You what?”

Ella tried to wave the befuddled question away, but Jay’s expression turned horrified.

“Ella, did you bang Satan?” He hiss-whispered.

“No!”  She said. “No, I didn’t bang Satan.  He’s just a co-worker.  A crazy, not-crazy, not-method-acting, celestial-expat coworker.  You know.  That whole situation,” She said, waving her hands expansively.

“Right, yeah, I get those all the time,” Jay said, sarcasm thick enough to cut. 

They both lapsed into ‘reality is fucking absurd’ silence. 

 

~*~

 

Jay didn’t pry.

Probably, he was having his own existential crisis next to her, even without Ella telling him the details of what she’d seen.

They debated between watching Bob’s Burgers (Ella’s choice) or Travel Man (Jay’s), neither of them in the mood for anything heavy or complicated.  Travel Man won by virtue of the fact that Jay had the remote.  

Jay ordered pizza with a brief complaint that his planned cereal dinner had been thrown to the wayside.   It had pulled a weak smile out of her, which still counted as progress.

On the screen, they watched as Richard Ayoade trawled through a foreign city with his bitingly dry humor and introversion, and it was so completely disconnected from what they were dealing with that it was comfortable. 

The pizza arrived.  The sun started to set.  The marathon of episodes continued in companionable – if slightly fraught- silence.

Midway through the exploration of Moscow, Jay offered:  “You can stay here, tonight.  If you want.”

But Ella shook her head.

“I’ve got work in the morning.  I’m fine.  I just… I needed someplace to, you know.  Feel safe and get my head wrapped around things.”

“Surprised you didn’t go to your church,” Jay said, but he sounded pleased that she’d come to him.

Ella sniffed.

“That relationship’s still a little rocky.  This one, though,” She bumped Jay’s shoulder with her fist.  “Solid.”

Jay scrubbed a hand against top of Ella’s head, through her hair, like he was petting a dog.   It pulled strands of hair loose from her ponytail and she batted him away. 

“What about you?” She asked, holding his wrists.  “How are you feeling about… all of this?”

Ella released him and Jay’s hands dropped to his lap.   He regarded Ella for a long moment.

“You know what he said, when he flashed the scary eyes at me?”

Ella leaned forward eagerly.

“I don’t wanna go into it,” Jay said, grimacing.  “But… basically, he yelled at me for doing something stupid.  And it wasn’t because he cared about what I was doing – it was because he cared about how disappointed you would be.”

Ella swallowed.  She wanted to ask what Jay had done, but his expression was cagey and ashamed.  

“He said ‘if you ever disappoint her, I’ll come for you,’ and he did the eye thing, and I was too stunned to even ask.  I tried to put it out of my mind.  But I haven’t done anything stupid since then.  Well,” He amended.  “Not stupid like the way he meant.”

Jay sighed and rubbed his eyes.

“Why couldn’t he have just been another magician you hooked up with?”  He bemoaned.

She glowered at him.   They did not talk about Rodney.  It was a Rule.   Jay smirked at her response, although the humor didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I think that’s why I’m not freaking out, though,” He said, voice turning serious again.  “Or – not freaking out much.  There’s still out-freaking.  But it’s…”  He bit his lip.  “I guess why I never mentioned it… He’s a scary motherfucker, but at least he’s a scary motherfucker that’s on your side.”

“He really is, isn’t he,” Ella said, thinking of all of the moments she and Lucifer had shared.  Late nights in her lab.  Joking at crime scenes.  The opera tickets he’d given her.  Bawdy conversations by the coffee machine, and on, and on, and on.

He was one of her best friends.

She thought about how he’d looked when he’d exploded onto the crime scene.   Giant, ash-stained wings and burning eyes aside, he had looked…

He’d looked like he was suffering.

Ella thought of the expression Lucifer had worn when he’d looked at Chloe, and her heart ached for him.   For them both, really, because Chloe hadn’t been okay, either, in the wake of that.   Ella might have been shocky and brittle and stunned, but she remembered how Chloe had sounded when she’d begged Lucifer to come back.

Ella shivered.

“What a mess,” She said.   Jay grunted an agreement.

She would need to talk to Chloe.  Or Linda, apparently.   She had a lot of questions – the least of which being why a dude she’d seen a week ago suddenly had a months-long growth of depression beard.  Why had Lucifer been so filthy?   What was the deal with the cold front, and the ash, and the animated biker-dude who had clearly been dead for a while, and…

And her mind wandered to the massacre at the Mayan.   A forensics puzzle she and two other precinct teams had been puzzling over for days.   All of those dead bodies and not a one of them had been killed at the Mayan, and so many of them sporting postmortem contusions and lacerations.   It hadn’t made any sense and it had almost been a relief when the case had escalated to the FBI and been taken off of the LAPD’s hands. 

Ella would have bet her last dollar that the victims at the Mayan had been undead… zombie… whatevers, too.   Just like the biker dude.

But what did that mean?

“Ground control to Major Tom,” Jay said, jostling her shoulder with his own. 

Ella blinked back to herself.

“Just thinking,” She said.   Jay frowned.

“Really, El, you can crash here if you want to.  I changed the sheets in the guest room, like, within the last four months.”

“As tempting as that is,” She said, stretching, pulling out her hair elastic and retying her disheveled pony tail.  “I really should head out.”

She pushed the pizza box further onto the coffee table, out of the way, and stood.   Jay walked with her to the door, not complaining when Ella put a hand on his side and used him for balance while she slid her shoes back on.

“I’m here if you need me, chica,” Jay promised.

“Thank you,” Ella said.   She hugged him tightly.  “You’re my socks.”

Jay gave her a pained look, but he hugged her back, and that was what mattered most.

 

~*~

 

Ella pulled out her phone as she walked back to her car.   She frowned and double-checked her signal, but – nope, no new messages.   Nothing since Chloe’s ‘good catch!’ response to the case note Ella had sent.

She reread the earlier message she’d gotten from Chloe just to confirm that, yes, Decker had said she’d call Ella once she finished at the scene.   But it was past 8 o’clock, now; hours since Ella had left.   Surely, they couldn’t still be processing the body?  

A little frisson of concern worked its way through Ella.  She dialed Chloe and listened, frown deepening, as the phone rang, rang, rang, and went to voicemail.

“Heya Decker, it’s Ella.  I’m just… checking in with you.   I…” Ella sighed.  She leaned her hip against her car door, staring up through the eucalyptus branches at the muted LA night sky.

“I wanted to let you know that I’m okay.   I spent some time with my family and… I’m sorry about, you know, bombing away from work like that.  So unprofessional, right?”  She gave a small, rueful laugh.  “But… Yeah, I… I’m pretty sure I’ve got my head wrapped around – well.   I have a lot of questions.   But – I’m okay.  And I’m going to go ahead and say it – I’m worried about you, too.   Not trying to guilt trip you, but you were going to call me, right?   Text me back.   I’ve got so many questions, but that… looked heavy.   What I saw.  Between you and… and him.  So... I’m here for you, too, okay?   Okay.   Bye, Decker.”

She disconnected the call.

She nibbled on her thumb again and stopped, feeling how sore the skin was.  She’d been nibbling a lot today.  She crossed her arms tightly across her chest to remove the temptation.

There were dozens of reasons why Chloe might not have called her back.  A break in the case that she had to follow up on.  Trixie needing her.  A cell phone dropped in the toilet, or just a dead battery.   It happened.    

Ella would check in with Chloe at the precinct first thing in the morning, assuming the other woman didn’t text her back before Ella called it quits today.

She pushed aside her worries, got in her car, and drove home.

 

~*~

 

That night, Ella prayed.  

She had thought, perhaps, that the ritual would feel different now, but it didn’t.  She projected her thoughts and hopes out into the ether with as much sincerity as she always had.  Knowing that someone might really be on the other end, listening, didn’t actually change anything for her.

She prayed to God and thanked Him for her family’s health and safety.   She prayed for the soul of the stabbing victim.  She prayed for Chloe.

And then she realized that there was, perhaps, a way in which things were different now.  

She prayed to Lucifer.

Hi Lucifer.  It’s Ella.  I hope you can hear this.  I’m thinking about you, okay?   Thank you for saving Chloe today.  And I hope… I hope that you’re alright. 

Anyway.  Good night, Lucifer.

Feeling only a little guilty about it, she then sent a follow up message to the Big Guy.

Please watch over Lucifer, she prayed.   Please. 

Chapter Text

Dan’s apartment had become an empty, painful place once Charlotte had died. 

There were too many memories of her, here.   As brief as their relationship had been, he’d loved her deeply and had been sure that she’d loved him too.   Breakfasts in the kitchen, where she had teased him about his waffle prowess.  Evenings spent on the couch, cuddling, complaining about work, watching movies in companionable silence as they drank her seemingly endless supply of red wine, which neither of them really liked.

“I’m more of a rosé girl,” She’d said, and he’d laughed.

“Why do you have so much Merlot then?” 

And she’d shrugged, and smiled, and changed the topic.

Her bobby pins and perfume and makeup bag still took up space in his bathroom, although he’d at least managed to move it all under the sink instead of spread across the vanity.  Someday, he was sure he’d be able to throw it away.

He’d rearranged the furniture in his bedroom twice since she died.  It didn’t seem to matter.   The memories of her were still there when he laid down.  Her moans, the way she’d tasted, the way she’d played.   Or, her nightmares, and the way she’d clutch at him and cry in her sleep.   Those moments had opened up a protectiveness and tenderness in him that, in some ways, eclipsed the sex.  

When Charlotte had died, all of that passionate, impulsive, and profound love had felt like a tangible thing being ripped out of him.   It had left a hole, gaping and raw and agonizing, in his chest.   It was a pain that staggered him to stillness in the middle of his day, that pounced when his mind drifted in the shower, and bit at him when he interviewed witnesses, or when he reviewed crime scene photos, when he heard high heels clacking on tile floors…

There had been no relief from it.  No escaping it.  The grief was a living thing that had set up camp in his ribcage.

And whenever he saw Lucifer, all of that trapped hurt had found its way out in anger as easily as breathing.   Lucifer, acting as untouchable and unaffected and brazen as always, as if all of the world was a joke to him and Dan in particular a merry punchline.  

It had felt so justified; blaming Lucifer for what had happened.  For Charlotte’s death.   For the hole that had been left behind and all of its accompanying pain. 

He had wanted Lucifer to pay.  No, more than that - he had wanted Lucifer to suffer.   Dan had wanted to see the other man brought low with pain because maybe, then, he could stop feeling it himself. 

Thinking about how he’d acted now made him cringe with shame.  

Dan was a homicide detective.   Understanding human behavior and motivations was part of his job, and yet he hadn’t even realized how much he’d been displacing his feelings until he’d crossed uncrossable lines.   He’d used Ella.  He’d jeopardized investigations.  He’d nearly gotten his daughter killed

With Dr. Martin, Dan had finally started dealing with his feelings.  He had started making progress on forgiving himself for being unable to protect Charlotte.

He knew, though, that he had a long way to go in forgiving himself for everything else he’d done.

And that had been before

Well.

It had been before he’d known Hell was real.

Dan sat in his living room and with quiet determination poured himself a large glass of the disliked but still abundant – and, more importantly, still alcoholic - Merlot. 

Hell was real.

Lucifer was actually the Devil, and Hell was real.

Dan sat, and drank, and shivered with a cold sort of dread.

He was going to go to Hell.

His mistakes and guilt pressed at him like physical weights, pulling his shoulders down, making him sweat and pant and shake.

Dan pushed the glass of wine back onto the table, hands so unsteady that the glass clattered and nearly tipped over as he set it down.

He scrubbed his face with his hands, hard, pressing them over his mouth to hold back the sounds poised in his throat, waiting to be released.

His mind wouldn’t stop reminding him of his sins, unearthing them and trotting them out for display before his mind’s eye.   Petty things, like lying to Chloe to avoid her when their marriage had been disintegrating.  Shoplifting beers when he’d been a teenager.  Fights with his mother where he’d been wrong and too dumb and proud to admit it, and had been vicious to cover it up.

And the not-petty things.

Gas-lighting Chloe over Palmetto street.  Telling the Russian mob exactly where and when to find Perry Smith. 

Giving Lucifer’s name to Tiernan.

There had to be a special place in Hell, Dan thought, for people that betrayed its ruler.

 

~*~

 

Dan had been staring at the mostly-full glass of unwanted wine for… minutes?  Hours?... he wasn’t sure.   When his cell rang with Chloe’s ringtone, he pulled himself out of his stupor. 

He cleared his throat and scrubbed his face with his hands before answering.

“Hey,” Chloe said.  The audio quality made him think she was using the hands-free feature in her car.  Her tone of voice was calm and collected, but just a shade away from nonchalant.  If Dan hadn’t seen what he’d seen this morning, he still would have been suspicious that something was wrong.  “I’m on my way to pick up Trixie now.”

Dan pulled the phone away from his ear enough to quickly read the time.  It was that late already?  Jeez.

“Dan?”  Chloe said; an ‘are you there’ tilt to the question.

“I’m here,” He said, exhaling a long, shaky sigh.

“I don’t know if… what we need to talk about… should really be done in front of her, but I don’t want to leave you spinning until I’m free.   And I… I don’t know if I can talk about this, tonight.   It’s… it’s a lot.”

“Yeah,” Dan said.   The knowledge that he was going to Hell when he died tightened his insides like they were in a vice.  Hell, as a factual, real place.   Where he would be tortured for his sins.  Forever.

“You’re still friends with Amenadiel, right?”  Chloe asked, and for a moment, the non-sequitur threw him.

 And then he realized there was nothing ‘non’ about the ‘sequitur’ at all.

“Oh my God,” He blurted.

“Yeah,” Chloe said.  “Kinda literally.”

“Is Dr. Martin…?”

“Oh, no, she’s human.  Awesome, but entirely human.  She knows about Lucifer, too, though.  So.  I’m going to get Trixie and head home.  The case is on pause until we can get the missing persons and DNA analysis back.  Tomorrow, if you’re up for it, I’ll still need you to follow up with local tattoo artists.  And tonight… You should talk to Amenadiel and Linda, if, you know.  If you have questions.   And tomorrow… I’ll be.  I’ll be okay.”

Her voice cracked.

“It’s just… seeing him,” She said quietly; a whispered confession.  “Going back to Hell… I knew he wasn’t okay, deep down I knew it, but I… I could pretend.   And seeing him….”

She blew out an unsteady breath.   Dan had a suspicion she was crying. 

He was missing too much context to weigh in, though.  The problem was too big, and the implications were too terrifying.   Hell was real.   Hell was real.

So he was silent.

Chloe audibly composed herself.   A deep breath that the speakers just managed to pick up, and another one after that.  She cleared her throat.

He heard her swallowing, a small wet sound that would have been inaudible if her throat wasn’t so tight.  Dan’s grip on the phone tightened, knowing that she was in pain.  It galvanized him into speech.

“I’ll let you go,” Dan said, filling in the conversation and letting them both ignore her breaking down.  “I’m sure you’re coming up on the school, soon, and that parking lot is always chaos at dismissal.  I’ll talk to Amenadiel.  It’s a good suggestion, Chlo.”

She made a humming, agreeing noise.

“We’ll follow up on the case tomorrow,” He said.  “Tell Trixie I love her.”

“Will do,” Chloe said.   Dan closed his eyes at hearing her voice.  She was definitely crying.

The call disconnected. 

He lowered the phone to his lap and reached out, intending to finish the Merlot still filling his glass, but stopped.   He didn’t really want it. 

The rest of the bottle sat on the table, still mostly full.    Dan ignored it, throwing away his plan to stay in and get drunk.   He stood.    Smoothing his hands down the thighs of his jeans, he pocketed his phone and headed for the door. 

 

~*~

 

He had to stop for gas on the way.  While his car was refueling, he’d washed the back window with the complimentary sponged squeegee attached to a wash bucket by the fuel pump.  The action of cleaning the glass was cathartic and mindless.  It was simple. 

Across the separating lane, he watched a twenty-something goth kid filling up an aging, dented coupe. 

Dan’s eye caught and lingered on the jingly silvery charms hanging off the kid’s wallet chain.  It was hard to make out from this distance but Dan was pretty sure there was a goat-headed pentagram emblem in the mix. 

He thought back to the case with the Satanists.  

He thought about how angry and upset Lucifer had been by the whole thing.   The “Morningstar” message that had been luridly scrawled out at the scene of the murder.   Dan remembered Lucifer’s reaction when he had laid blame at Lucifer’s feet. 

“What are you insinuating?”  Lucifer had said.

And Dan had replied, not backing down from that challenge:  “That some psycho might be killing people because of your whole Devil shtick.”

“You’re blaming this nonsense on me?”

“You do take the whole Satan thing pretty seriously.”

“You really think I’d do these vile things?”  He’d asked, and even as much as Dan had disliked Lucifer – even as much as Dan had thought he’d been right and that Lucifer was, if even in a small way, to blame for those homicides – he’d still understood how hurt Lucifer had been by the accusation.

“These kids were pretending to be bad, but they weren’t.  They were innocent, so I would never hurt them.  I’m not a monster.”

Dan thought about the creature he’d seen that morning.

The handle of the pump clicked, indicating that the tank was full, and the soft ‘shush’ of gasoline flowing into his car fell silent.

Dan blinked, coming back to himself.

The goth kid was looking over at him, scowling, and Dan realized he’d more or less been staring at the kid’s ass for at least a solid minute.

The kid raised a middle finger at him slowly, cocking a sarcastic eyebrow, and Dan waved an apology, feeling heat creep across his face.

 

~*~

 

The house that Amenadiel shared with Dr. Linda Martin was spacious, richly colored, and beyond the salary of a detective for the LAPD. 

Dan was intimately aware of what Dr. Martin charged for therapy and, while it was worth every penny, he also felt a wry sort of humor knowing that his emotional issues helped pay for this house.

Amenadiel had always given Dan vague answers when asked what he did for a living, or changed the topic.  Dan had thought, perhaps, Lucifer’s wealth ran in the family and Amenadiel had been unemployed and trying not to draw attention to it.  It hadn’t seemed polite to ask and hadn’t been important.   Amenadiel was one of Dan’s closest friends.

He was also, apparently, an angel.

The gentleness and calm demeanor suited him.   The way Amenadiel carried himself – the way he seemed confused about basic things – it made more sense now. 

I know what a prostitute is, He’d groused.  I just didn’t realize she was one.

Dan thought about Amenadiel telling him that Charlotte was in Heaven.   He’d been insistent, and gentle, and hadn’t been offended with Dan had snapped at him like a wounded dog.  He’d been patient and solid and so sure that it had, if only temporarily, relieved some of the pain of losing her.

He thought about Amenadiel’s encounter with the scumbag patrol offices that had nearly shot him for being an uncowed black man.   How not just angry, but surprised and disappointed Amenadiel had been with the officers.   Like he’d never encountered racism before and hadn’t believed it was a real thing.

Like he hadn’t realized humans could be that ugly.

Dan brushed his fingers against the vibrant potted flowers framing the sides of the steps up to Dr. Martin’s front door.  Cat’s pajamas, he thought.   Or maybe lilacs.  The purple petals gleamed in the California sunlight.

Dan squared his shoulders, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.

He wondered if it would be different; seeing Amenadiel now that he knew.   Would the other man still look the same?   Was there something divine about him that Dan had never noticed before because he’d never thought to look?   Would their comradery be different now that Amenadiel didn’t have to pretend that he was human, too?

Dan’s thoughts were so wrapped up in considering his friendship with Amenadiel and the implications of him being an angel that when the door opened to reveal Maze, shock rendered him mute.

The realization that Maze was literally a demon hit him like a sledgehammer.

He stood, staring, as the blood rushed from his face so quickly that he felt vertigo.

“Hey stranger,” Maze greeted cheerfully, unaware of the horror rolling through him.  She braced her hands on the doorframe and leaned across the threshold.   “Ohhh,” Maze moaned, tipping forward further and inhaling deeply.  “You smell good.”  

The smile she flashed at him was full of teeth. 

Dan recoiled, viscerally compelled to put distance between them. 

His foot came down over open air.  His center of gravity was thrown back and the rest of him followed, tumbling down the staircase.

Dan had a brief ‘Hell is real and here I come’ moment of unadulterated panic as the sidewalk came up to meet his head.

“Dude, are you okay?” Maze asked, amusement dancing in her eyes.

It had, after all, only been two steps.

The back of Dan’s head sparked with pain where it had impacted with the stone.  He brought his fingers up and checked for blood. 

Maze sauntered forward and down the steps, reaching out a hand to him, and Dan scrambled backwards away from her.

Maze stopped.   Her hand lowered and the smile dripped off her face, replaced with realization and… regret?

“So, you know,” She said, not a question.  Dan just stared at her from his position on the ground, mind staticky and frantic.   His chest felt tight – like there wasn’t enough air.

Maze’s mouth twisted, and she nodded.   She crossed her arms across her chest, body language turning defensive, challenging.

But, then her arms dropped and she leaned forward again, eyes bright.

“Wait, how do you know?   Why do you smell like Hell?  Is Lucifer back?”

“Maze, who was it?” Dr. Martin said, the top of her blonde head just visible over Maze’s shoulder from Dan’s spot on the ground.

Maze shifted over to the side, waving a hand down at him.

Dr. Martin stepped forward.  She had her son swaddled and propped in the crook of her arm.   The baby was fussing quietly.

“Oh, detective,” She said, eyebrows bouncing upward in surprise.  “Are you alright?  What happened?”

“Yes, what happened?” Maze repeated, her focus sharper and the question more pointed.

Dan looked between Maze and the infant, back and forth, an inarticulate distressed noise loitering in his throat.

Maze noticed, and her scowl turned ferocious.

“I’m not going to hurt him!”  She snapped.

The baby’s quiet fussing turned into full-blown crying at the loud noise.

“Maze,” Dr. Martin chided.

Maze glared at Dan.

“Now look what you’ve done!” She accused.  

Dr. Martin looked between the two of them. 

“Oh, I see,” She said quietly.  “Well then.  Maze, could you take Charlie for a moment, please?”  She took the steps down and handed the baby to Maze without waiting for the demon to answer, passing the child over so confidently that Maze was more or less required to take him.

Dan managed a small croak of protest.  Maze glared at him and, holding the child, she turned and went back inside.

Like Maze had done, Dr. Martin offered her hand out to help Dan up.

He took it, but he used his legs to push himself up to a standing position again more than using her for leverage.  She really was a petite woman.   His head throbbed with protest at the sudden movement.  For a short fall, he’d still managed to smack the back of his skull quite hard.  He checked again for blood and all he felt was an imminent bruise.

“Dr. Martin,” He said, looking up to the door and where Maze had disappeared with his therapist’s grousing son. “You can’t – she’s – she’s-”

“A demon?”  The doctor said, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose with an index finger.  The smile she gave Dan was both canny and sympathetic.  

He swallowed.

“Why don’t you come inside?” She offered, putting a hand on his elbow and ushering him up the stairs.

 

~*~

 

Dan found himself seated at Dr. Martin’s kitchen table with a steaming cup of sweet-smelling herbal tea.  Egyptian licorice, she told him, and his mental image of what such a drink would be in no way matched the smell and taste of what it actually was. 

She sat across from him, her own cup of tea cupped in her hands.   Maze and the baby had retreated to the nursery, but Dan could still hear, faintly, the quieting sounds of Charlie getting over his bout of fussiness.

None of the questions Dan wanted to ask sounded anything other than rude when he considered them. 

“How’s your head?” Dr. Martin asked.  “I’m sorry, would you like some ice?”

Dan touched the sore spot on the back of his skull again, but he shook his head.  Ice probably would help but he didn’t feel like bothering with it.

“Dr. Martin –”

“Oh, call me Linda, please.  I’m not in the office at the moment.”

He nodded.  He took a sip of the tea.  It was still a bit too hot but the fruity, silky flavor was grounding.  He exhaled and rubbed his eyes with fingers that were warmed from touching the ceramic tea cup.

“I don’t know where to start,” He admitted.

“That’s alright,” She assured him.  “I’m assuming you came over here to talk to Amenadiel?” 

Dan nodded.

“He’s just gone out for a diaper run.  He’ll be back shortly.  If you want to talk to me, I’m here, but if you don’t, that’s fine too.” 

She kept watching him, but there wasn’t any weight to her scrutiny.   She meant what she’d said; he didn’t feel pressured to talk, and it made some of the tightness in his chest loosen.

“Are they lilacs or cat’s pajamas?” He found himself asking.

 “Lilacs,” She said.  If she was surprised by the question, she didn’t show it.

“My mother used to keep her garden full of purple flowers.   Red maids and phlox and…” He waved a hand. 

“Did you spend a lot of time in her garden?”

“No, not really.  Not sure why I’m thinking about it now.”  He took another sip of tea and thought about the little tilled rectangle of space that ran along the side of his childhood home. 

“She used to cut and arrange bouquets.   She’d bring them in to church and put them up with the pamphlets at the reception area.   It was an older building; all white tiles and aging white walls.   Lots of drawings from the Sunday school students, of course, but… the purple flowers really brought something… alive… to the space.”

“You were raised religiously?”

Dan twisted his mouth to the side.

“Dad and I just sort of followed along to please her.   Mom was the one who really believed.  I stopped going when I was…high school age, I think.  I had a weekend job and it became an excuse.  I’d still go with her for the major holidays.  Easter, Christmas, family baptisms.”

He took another sip of tea and let his gaze settle on the caramel-colored liquid in his cup.  

“I’ve done… unforgivable things.  And I let myself think that I’d gotten away with them.  I think I believed in… in God, in the idea that there was someone watching over us all, but I never really believed in Hell.  Not really.  Not as an actual place.  And now… now that I know that there are inescapable consequences…”

“It’s terrifying,” Linda agreed.  She nodded, lips thin.  “It’s a real pants shitter.”

It startled a laugh out of him.  He met her eyes.

“Having actual answers to the big ‘what happens when’ questions isn’t something any of us are built to handle,” She said.  “We’re raised our entire lives with the knowledge that we don’t know.  Faith isn’t the same thing as fact, and a lot of us don’t even have faith.  So being handed actual answers?  It’s capsizing.  It is terrifying.  Especially if you have regrets.”

Dan could read, in her expression, that she had regrets too.  

He had an impulse to lash out.  He had arranged for someone to be murdered.  He’d done it twice.   How could Linda have any idea what it felt like to have done that, knowing that Hell was real?

But he swallowed it back.  

He didn’t know her.  He didn’t know her story, and he’d worked in homicide too long to still be surprised by what people were capable of.

They both looked up at the sound of the front door opening.   Amenadiel walked in carrying a canvas shopping bag in one hand and a bulk box of Pampers propped up on his shoulder with the other hand.   He set the box of diapers down and closed the door behind him with his foot, walking into the kitchen and only then seeming to notice the two of them sat at the table.

“Dan, hello!”  He greeted warmly.  To Linda he said: “Rosalita had her little pop-up shop set up again.  I got us more nectarines.”  He hefted the canvas bag with a wide, pleased grin, and Linda smiled back at him. 

It sent an odd sort of pang through Dan’s sternum.  

They were in love.   Sweetly, gently, and totally in love.  It was written all over their faces.

It sent tremors through – not just the hole left behind by Charlotte's death, but an aching sort of pain through the memories of his early relationship with Chloe.

Had he ever loved her as well as she’d deserved?  Or had he just used her to fulfil a fantasy of a pretty wife and nuclear family?  Something else to weigh on his soul.

“Dan, is everything okay?” Amenadiel asked, snapping him back to the present. 

“No.   Not really.  Lucifer… showed up at our crime scene this morning,” Dan said slowly, looking through the table.

Amenadiel set the canvas bag down heavily.  

“He’s back?  How?  Did he – what did he say?”

Dan shook his head.

“There was a zomb- no, Chloe said it was a… a demon.”   He looked down the hall to where Maze had retreated with the baby.  Seriously, how could they be alright with that?  “He came after Chloe.  I shot him, and he just kept coming.   Lucifer just…”  Dan swallowed.   He struggled to find the words to describe it.    “He just… appeared.   Covered the scene in ash; froze everything.   His wings – it…”  Seriously, what were the right words?   Dan’s tongue felt thick and clumsy in his mouth. 

“Is he still here?”

“No,” Dan said.   “He grabbed the… guy… and they both disappeared.”

“He went back to Hell,” Maze said, and Dan flinched.  He hadn’t seen her return.  She cocked her head at him impatiently.  “What do you mean – he froze everything?   Amenadiel, I thought time was your domain?”

“You can freeze time?” Dan asked Amenadiel incredulously.

“Ah, no, not anymore,” Amenadiel said to Dan, and then turned to Maze.  “Lucifer’s… changed Hell.  It was arctic when I visited.”

“You went to Hell,” Maze said, jaw tight.  “Without me.” 

Amenadiel squinted and gave her a sheepish, apologetic look.

“Just briefly,” He offered, as if to downplay it.   Maze glared.

“Well,” Dr. Martin interrupted.  “Lucifer appearing like that sounds very… dramatic.   Amenadiel, Maze, why don’t you continue your conversation outside?”   She gave them a pointed look.

Maze lifted her hands in front of herself.

“I just came back to get my knives.  I’m out.”   She gave Dan a challenging once-over.  “I’m moving back in with Decker.  And Trixie.”

Cold dread raked its claws through Dan’s gut.

“Stay away from my daughter,” He said, pushing himself out of his chair.

“Your daughter likes me,” Maze spat back.  

“Maze,” Dr. Martin reprimanded.  “He found out divinity is real a few hours ago.  Do you remember how long it took me to adjust?”

Mazikeen’s imperious posture didn’t change but there was, perhaps, something in her expression that softened.   She gave Dan another assessing top-to-bottom glance and sniffed.

“Later,” Was all she said, though.   She hefted a duffel bag that clattered metallically as she lifted it and headed out the front door.  She shut it behind herself with only a bit more force than necessary.  For Maze, it was incredibly restrained.

Amenadiel gave Dan an uncertain look, tilting his body towards the exit and raising a questioning eyebrow.

“Should I go, too?  Did you need privacy?”

Dr. Martin looked at Dan, passing the question to him.

Dan shook his head.  He pressed his fingertips into the tablecloth covering the kitchen table, feeling the coarse weave of threads pushing against his skin.

Dan regarded Amenadiel. 

Amenadiel looked as he always had; a calm, powerful, dignified presence.  Whatever revelation Dan had been thinking he’d have now knowing that Amenadiel was an angel, nothing earth-shaking seemed to be forthcoming. 

An idea surfaced.

“Have you ever been surfing?” Dan asked.  Spending time in the water had always made him feel like a small part in something bigger.  Surfing offered him a spiritual sort of relaxation; as close to a religious experience as Dan really encountered in his adult life.  It was impossible to not feel humbled by the ocean.

As soon as he said the suggestion, he realized how much putting himself back into that context and mindset was exactly what he needed.

Amenadiel’s eyes lit up.

“I can’t say that I have.  And I would love to.”

 

Chapter Text

Chloe went through the motions of detective work.  Without an identity for the body there wasn’t a great deal that she could do.  There weren’t any security cameras around the area.  To get down to the flood control channel, it wouldn’t have taken much more than parking on the side of the road and making a bit of a hike.  Traffic cams in the area may have picked up something, but at this stage, it was a long shot that wasn’t worth the amount of time and manpower it would take to go through the footage.

“Let me know if we find anything.   And please send along photos of the tattoos once we’re able to get a clean image,” Chloe told Colin as she made her way away from the scene.

Colin grumbled an approximate ‘will do’ of a reply.  He and the secondary unit were behaving as if they were much more interested in the ash explosion than the corpse, which was both understandable and regrettable.   Chloe hadn’t been able to offer an explanation, settling instead on ‘it was like that when we got here’ and ‘perhaps the crows did it,’ which was one of the more ridiculous things she’d ever had to say.

What would the ash reflect when it was treated to the scrutiny of a forensics analysis?   Chloe had to assume the substance was ‘of Hell.’  Supernatural in origin.   Or maybe it was just… ash?   Maybe ash was the same even if it hadn’t been terrestrially sourced?

She rubbed her eyes.

She couldn’t think about it right now.  It would be a disaster, or it wouldn’t.   It was outside of her control at this point and worrying about it wouldn’t change anything.

Not that that was stopping her from worrying about everything else.

Chloe brushed herself off and climbed into her car.   Mechanically, she buckled her seatbelt and slid her key into the ignition.  She checked her surroundings but there were too many people still milling around.   She drove away from the scene.

Several blocks away, she pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket and found an empty row in the back by the dumpsters.  She parked, releasing the white-knuckled grip she’d had on the steering wheel.

Chloe bent forward and rested her forehead against the wheel, slipping her arms down to wrap across her stomach.

The come down from adrenaline was making her feel ill.   The stress and heartache seemed to have teamed up with it, leaving her nauseated and cold.

In the corner of her eye, a fat little rock pigeon hopped around the dumpster, pecking at a sandwich wrapper.  In this light, in this context, the iridescent feathers around its neck looked oily. 

Chloe pushed away from the wheel and leaned back in her seat, staring vacantly up at the roof of the car, her attention turned much further upwards than that.

Chloe didn’t understand what God’s goal was with any of this.  Lucifer had ranted about his father’s ineffable plans often enough that Chloe wanted to believe there was a point to the pain, but it was getting harder and harder to hold onto that idea.

She couldn’t get Lucifer’s face out of her mind.

The expression of abject misery and need and loss he’d worn when he’d looked at her – how could this possibly be what God wanted?

How could this be what He wanted for her, either?   What was the point of making a miracle if this was what you did with it?

Or maybe she was being too kind.  Maybe her belief that she and Lucifer could have ever been happy together was the punchline in this celestial joke. 

The life she had wanted with Lucifer stretched out in front of her.  Games and meals in his penthouse.   He could teach Trixie how to cook, maybe, or how to play the piano.  He could be so patient when he wanted to be, and Trixie adored him.  She would soak up his attention like a delighted sponge. 

The cold, marble edges of his interior design would soften with childish artwork and afghans and the day-to-day domestics.   Laundry baskets and knickknacks and toys.   Chloe could start working her way through his library.  She imagined evenings on the couch reading; comfortable silences as they existed together.  

Chloe imagined sleeping next to him in his ridiculous bed.   Would he be the big spoon or the little spoon?  He would definitely be a cuddler.  They would wake up when the sun came pouring in through his giant windows, and she’d complain about the early hour, and he’d make a joke about how she wasn’t the only thing that was up.   And – if Trixie was with Dan - maybe she’d grumble with mock annoyance and give in to the sexy flirtations anyway, or maybe throw a pillow at him, and he’d laugh at her and go to make some breakfast instead.  

It would be so easy.  It wouldn’t matter that Chloe was a nearly-40, single-parent miracle.  It wouldn’t matter that Lucifer was a fallen archangel.  They knew and accepted each other completely. 

They were in love, and happy, and whole.

The pigeon fluttered away, drawing her attention back to her surroundings.   Reality reasserted itself.

Ash settled over the fantasy.   Ash and ice and air so cold it had burned.

Chloe rubbed her face and checked the dashboard clock.   If she took the long way there, she’d still be a little early for picking up Trixie.

She left the parking lot anyway.   She needed to be doing something, even if it was only driving.  She called Dan once she got out onto the main road.  She’d remind him that she was picking up Trixie, and check in on him.  

She remembered, intimately, what it felt like to be afraid of Lucifer.

It was one of her biggest regrets.

 

~*~

 

After the phone call with Dan, Chloe found another spot to pull over and breathe.

She couldn’t keep doing this to herself.  For Trixie’s sake if nothing else, she had to pull it together.  She was a homicide detective; she knew the world wasn’t fair.  People’s loved ones were taken from them all the time, for far less reason than this.

What could she possibly do, though?  She didn’t have the means to go to Hell, even if she wanted to, and she didn’t want to.   She couldn’t do that to Trixie.  But even if she did go to Hell, she couldn’t take Lucifer out.   The demons were clearly still keen on coming to Earth. 

There was nothing she could do.  Lucifer was lost to her.

She swallowed around the lump in her throat.

He was lost to her.  Chloe made herself confront it without shying away.  He was gone.  Maybe that was the trick to it?  Maybe it would hurt less if she just thought of Lucifer as being dead?

She tried the thought on for size.  It hurt.  A lot.  

Perhaps it was a cleaner sort of hurt, though?

He’s dead, she thought.   He’s dead, and he’s not coming back.  

 

~*~

 

“Are you okay?”  Trixie asked her.  She hadn’t been bothered that Chloe had picked her up instead of Dan.  With both of her parents being detectives, she was used to schedule changes as one or the other had to chase down a lead.  Chloe let her assume that was the case this time, too.

Trixie had started advocating for front seat rights recently.  She was still too young and still too short for it to be safe, but Chloe could tell it was a battle she’d be losing soon.   Her daughter was sprouting like a weed. 

“It was a difficult crime scene this morning,” Chloe told her.  “But I’m okay.” 

And that was another thing that was changing: these honest conversations with her daughter.  

Well, honest to a point.  Trixie was maturing but she was still a kid.

“Do you have any leads?” Her daughter asked. 

“There are a few things we’re following up on, yeah.”

Trixie made an agreeing sound.

“So listen,” Chloe said.  “I’ve been patching up the wall – you know, the one Maze was hiding the holes in with your artwork?”

Trixie giggled.

“And it’s going to need a new coat of paint.  Do you want to go with me to help pick out a color?”

“Yes!”

It was a bit of a gamble – there was a chance Trixie would choose something glaring.   But Chloe didn’t think it was too likely, really, and it should be easy enough to negotiate for something more neutral if that did become the case.

Traffic started thinning out as they got closer to the residential areas.   In her rearview mirror, Chloe spotted a familiar motorcycle more or less following them home.

“Speaking of Maze, I’ve asked her to move back in.  Is that alright?”

“Really?  She’s moving back in?  When?”

“Depending on how she drives, she might actually beat us there,” Chloe said, pointing at her mirror.   Trixie twisted around in her seat and, spotting Maze, waved enthusiastically through the back window. 

The figure on the motorcycle tapped two fingers off their helmet in a little salute.  

Maze turned off on the next street, zipping around a slow-moving blue Camry.   Chloe didn’t think the streets interconnected but, sure enough, when she pulled up in front of her apartment, Maze was already there, helmet off and hip cocked against the motorcycle seat like she was posing for a magazine spread.

Chloe parked next to her.  Trixie barely waited for the car to stop before unclicking her belt and bounding out the door.

“Maze!”  She chirped, springing forward and wrapping the woman in an enthusiastic hug.   The duffle bag strapped to Maze’s back clinked and rattled as the contents were jostled.

“Little human,” Maze said, squeezing her back.  Maze tilted her head oddly, looking over at Chloe. 

“I ran into Dan over at Linda’s.  He told us what happened,” Maze said.   She inhaled a large lungful of air, sighing on the exhale.  “Oh, I’ve missed that smell.”

“What smell?” Trixie asked.

“It’s nothing, monkey,” Chloe interjected.  Trixie frowned, her eyes raking Chloe up and down.  Chloe had scrubbed her face and brushed herself off before getting into her car, but there was probably still a bit of ash smeared into her clothes.   Evidently not enough that she didn’t pass scrutiny, though.   Trixie gave her one more dubious look before turning back to Maze.

“You promised you’d teach me…”  Trixie started, and then stopped, shooting Chloe a ‘whoops’ look before amending her sentence to: “That is, you remember you’re going to teach me… self-defense… right?”

“Maze,” Chloe said flatly.  

Maze shrugged unapologetically.

“What?  The little human wants to learn.   It’s not like I’m showing her how to disembowel people yet.”

Yet,” Chloe repeated in a mutter.  She decided to let it go, though.  There were worse things in the world than Trixie being able to defend herself, and, within reason, Chloe did trust Maze.  Even if they were playing with knives, Chloe knew Maze wouldn’t let Trixie get hurt.

Chloe’s phone chirped with an incoming message.  It was a text from Ella; a theory about the case. 

It loosened some of the tightness in Chloe’s heart, seeing this little sign that Ella hadn’t been broken by what she’d seen.   She texted back an acknowledgement.  She’d call Ella once she got in and got dinner started. 

She returned her phone to her pocket and headed up the sidewalk to the apartment door.  Trixie and Maze followed after her.   The bag on Maze’s back rattled with every step.  Was it just full of weapons?  Chloe shook her head.   Maze had left some things over at the apartment, but she imagined there were several more loads of things over at Linda’s place.  Maze’s wardrobe alone had to take up a good deal of space.  Chloe would have to offer use of her car – no, wait, that was a bad idea.  She’d offer to go with Maze to pick up some boxes.   A motorcycle wasn’t the most practical vehicle for that task.

Chloe slid her key into the door lock and yelped, startled.

“What is it?”  Maze asked, at her side in a flash.   Maze put her hand on the doorknob and drew it back with a hiss.   She gave Chloe a wide-eyed glance. 

Cold air pushed through the walls of the apartment façade.  The doorknob felt like it was made of ice. 

Inside the apartment, there was a sound – like a coffee table being pushed across the wooden floor.   A rattle and crash - a dish falling, maybe.  Someone was moving around inside the apartment - clumsily, from the sound of it.  Chloe exchanged another heavy look with Maze. 

“Trixie, sweetheart,” Chloe said.  “I need you to go back to the car, okay?  I need you to go wait in the car until I tell you it’s okay to come back.”

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

“Maze, will you go with her, please?”

“I should be here,” The demon said, shaking her head.  In a flick of motion, she had her blades in her hands, her duffle bag off her back and kicked to the side of the doorway.

“Mom?” Trixie said, her voice small with worry.  

“It sounds like someone’s inside the apartment, babe,” Chloe told her.  She unlocked the door as quietly as possible and withdrew her keys, passing them to her daughter.   “I don’t know if it’s safe, so I need you to go back to the car.   Get inside and lock the doors.”

Trixie looked like she wanted to argue, but Maze nodded at her. The reassurance from Maze was the push the girl needed.  With another frightened look at them, she retreated back to the parking lot.

Chloe unholstered her gun, thumbing off the safety but keeping the muzzle pointed at the ground.   She turned her shoulder to the door; it would present the smallest profile to the room inside when the door opened.  Beside her, Maze rolled her knives fluidly between her fingers, her body language tense and ready for a fight.

Probably, it was Lucifer behind that door, and if he was back, then it stood to reason there were more demons as well.

Chloe wrapped her other hand in her shirt to protect it from the cold and, carefully, turned the knob.

 

~*~

 

Chloe had a memory of the apartment she’d shared with Dan.  

They’d moved in together less than a year after they’d met.  With his detective salary, he was earning more than her but rent still wasn’t cheap.  Their combined salary meant they could afford a nicer place than either of them rented independently.

She’d been young and in love, and he’d been charming.  Looking back on it from a more adult perspective, she understood that Dan loved her, but he had never been in love with her. 

They had been compatible.  The sex had been good.  She’d mistaken it for passion; rose-colored glasses turning red flags into just… flags.   The warning signs had been easy to ignore.

The memory she had was of the chaotic week where they’d both moved out of their respective apartments and together into their new one.   She remembered the long hours at the precinct and on the street as a rookie officer, followed by even more hours at home wrapping breakables and packing boxes and choosing what to keep and what to donate and what to throw away.

She remembered the bone-deep exhaustion and the relief of finally moving the last of their boxes off of the truck and into their apartment.   She remembered the one-week limit they put on putting everything away, because neither of them wanted to turn into those people that had moving boxes taking up space indefinitely. 

They’d been so giggly and proud when the last box was broken down.  A home; with his furniture and her dishes, their artwork, their personal touches.   Even the debates over the best position for the TV and which curtains to use in which rooms had been flirty and fun.

They’d played rock-paper-scissors to see which of them would schlep the last of the boxes down to the apartment’s recycling drop off and which of them would stay and vacuum.   Chloe had lost, and with exaggerated aggrievement, had collected the boxes and waddled with the awkward burden out the door.

The drop-off spot for recycling was next to the garbage collection, down a flight of stairs and about a half a block’s walk from their apartment.  The unwieldy nature of broken-down boxes made the trip a ten minute affair. 

When she came back up the steps, she’d expected to hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner running, and had been frowning at the unexpected silence before she even opened the door.

The apartment had been caked in dust.   Dan, in the middle of it all, had been staring at the exploded vacuum bag with disbelief and betrayal.  

“You didn’t empty the bag first?” She’d demanded, sweaty and upset and staring at this new, giant mess that would have to be dealt with.  There was dust everywhere; on the curtains, on the artwork, in the glasses of wine they’d poured to celebrate.   Dan had been a gray-faced caricature, his eyebrows and hair puffed full of the stuff.

“I thought you said you did it already,” He’d said. 

Chloe had said no such thing.

The argument that followed had been their first real fight.

 

~*~

 

The interior of the apartment was darker than it should have been.   It was a bright, sunny, Californian day outside and the apartment had plenty of windows.   It took Chloe only a moment to realize the unusual darkness was because the windows were blotted with ash. 

Light still trickled in - the room wasn’t black.  But the color of the light was more like what she’d see during a thunderstorm.  Subdued.  Ominous.

Her furniture had been moved.  Tables and lamps knocked over; couches pushed several feet back from where they were meant to be. 

In the middle of the space that had been opened by that rearrangement, Lucifer was a massive, imposing figure.  In the low light, his eyes gleamed like taillights on an empty road.  His wings filled the area around him – it was easy to see that they had been responsible for the displaced furniture.   They curled and flexed in visible agitation. 

With the door open, frozen air came pouring out over Chloe’s ankles, cold enough that it hurt her skin. 

“Lucifer?” She said.  Everything about this moment was sending giant warning signals up and down her spine. 

Lucifer almost seemed to strobe.   His wings churned and he flickered out of existence -  only to reappear just as quickly.  Again, and again, and again, and there was nothing calm or controlled about the action.   This wasn’t the same as watching him disappear at the crime scene this morning; a deliberate, smooth motion that took him away from her.   This, by comparison, was frantic and staticky.  It was painful to watch.

Lucifer’s face was set into a rictus of desperate panic.  He hadn’t even looked over at them when the door opened.

Chloe scanned the rest of the visible apartment but it appeared Lucifer was alone.   She fumbled her hand along the wall and flicked on the overhead light.

Lucifer’s attention snapped upwards, glaring at the light.   The strobing disappearing act stopped.  His wings pushed backwards and forward, skimming through the ash coating the floor, sending up tiny curling dust devils.

“Lucifer?” She tried again.  She holstered her gun.

Chloe dared a step forward into the room.   It was like stepping out of a ski lodge into a snow storm.  She was shivering so hard that her teeth were chattering.

Finally, he looked over at her.  His expression flattened into a blank, neutral mask.  His wings completed an arcing sweep and fell still.  Everything about him fell still.   Chloe couldn’t even see him breathing. 

“Lucifer,” She repeated, hoping for… something.  A response.  An explanation.  Anything.  

Lucifer stood in the living room like a gothic statue.  A filthy, bearded version of Le Génie du Mal with burning eyes.   

Maze came around Chloe’s other side, knives still in hand, still scanning the apartment for trouble.

“Lucifer, are you-?” Maze started to ask.   She didn’t get further than that.

Lucifer’s neutral mask cracked open into snarling fury.  His wings arched behind him, mostly smashed against the ceiling of the apartment, but the menace was undeniable.

He moved so quickly that Chloe could barely follow the motion.  One moment he was in the living room, and the next he had pulled Maze away from Chloe and into a grappling hold.  

Maze dropped her knives, kicking them to the side.   She didn’t want to hurt Lucifer, but it was quickly apparent that Lucifer had no similar restraints.

Chloe stood frozen with horror, watching the two of them fight.   Neither was holding back.  Lucifer threw Maze against the wall hard enough to leave a dent, pouncing immediately after her.  They punched and kicked and swiped, and while Maze grunted with every impact, Lucifer remained eerily silent.

“Stop!”  Chloe demanded.   She wanted to stand between them – push them apart – but the way they were going at each other, that seemed a guaranteed way to get injured.  “Lucifer, stop!”

Maze caught his wrists as he went to tear at her throat, turning his arms to the side and pushing him back.  It sent him towards Chloe.  

“Lucifer, please, it’s only Maze!”  Chloe shouted.

She grabbed his shoulder and released it almost immediately with a pained cry.  His skin was so cold it burned

“Decker, get out of here!” Maze yelled, but Chloe shook her head.  Lucifer wasn’t after her.

But the distraction cost Maze.  The moment Maze looked away at Chloe, Lucifer feinted left with a punch, and swept right with his wing, catching Maze in the stomach and throwing her into the television.

“Stop, stop, stop, STOP!” Chloe chanted, running around them and into the kitchen, ripping open a drawer and pulling on oven mitts.

There was a ‘crack’ behind her – unmistakably the sound of a bone breaking – and Maze’s choked off gasp of pain. 

“Lucifer, please, stop!”  Chloe begged.  Lucifer had picked Maze up by the front of her vest, sliding her up the wall with one hand while his other hand held her left wrist away from his face.   Maze’s right arm dangled at an awkward angle, visibly broken.  Her boots scrambled and scrapped against the wall behind her, trying and failing to get the purchase required to break his hold on her.

Chloe forced herself into the space between them.  With her mittened hands, she pushed against Lucifer’s bare chest.  It was like pushing against a brick wall.

“Lucifer, it’s just Maze!   Please let her go.  Please stop.  Please.  Please.”

Even through the oven mitts, his skin was so cold that it was making the bones in her hands ache.  His arm, his hand wrapped tight in the leather of Maze’s vest, touched Chloe’s shoulder.   All of Chloe’s instincts told her to jerk away from the contact but she couldn’t.  She couldn’t.  Lucifer had stopped attacking, and she didn’t dare to move in case it set him off again.  

“Please,” She repeated, over and over again.  “Please let her go.  Please, Lucifer.”

This close, the cold pouring off his skin made it hard to breathe.  It made it hard to keep her eyes open, and she squinted.  

Slowly, slowly, Lucifer seemed to understand her.  The distant, mechanical, angry look in his eyes bled away into confusion.

Leather squeaked as his grip relaxed.   Maze’s boots thumped against the floor as she slid back down the wall.

“Maze, are you alright?” Chloe asked quietly.

“Great,” Maze said bitterly.  Lucifer’s eyes flicked towards the sound, and Chloe moved herself just a bit to stand between them more.

“Maze, I want you to take Trixie to Dan – no, wait, he’s still… Can you take her to Linda?  Linda and Amenadiel?”   She paused.  “Can you drive?” She asked in a small voice.   Lucifer wasn’t meeting her eyes but Chloe still didn’t want to look away from him. 

“I shouldn’t leave you here with him,” Maze said. 

“He’s not going to hurt me,” Chloe said.  She swallowed, her throat clicking from how dry her mouth was.  Her lips felt cracked from the cold, and she was genuinely starting to worry about frostbite on her shoulder.   “Please, Maze.”

Maze withdrew.  Careful, retreating footsteps that were barely audible as she slid out from behind Chloe.   For a tense moment, Chloe braced for Lucifer to go after Maze again, now that she was in the relatively open, Chloe-less space by the door, but Lucifer only tracked her retreat with his eyes. 

And, then, Maze was shutting the door to the apartment, leaving Chloe alone with him.    

Chapter Text

Lucifer came back to awareness sluggishly.   Something was… wrong. 

Which was odd.    Lucifer was so used to nothing, by this point, that the presence of anything at all in his thoughts was jarring.   That that ‘anything’ was also prickling and wrong felt almost extraneous.

Hell pushed at him again, insistently, sparking his thoughts into motion. 

What?  Lucifer demanded, grouchy and confused.

Hell’s presence in his mind unfurled.   Lucifer could feel Hell’s vast landscape – so many times larger than Earth – from the barrier and the ash filled sky all the way down to the pebbles in the darkest tunnels in the lowest calderas. 

He cracked open his eyes, blinking away the accumulation of frozen ash.  The monochrome landscape faded into focus and he stared out at it with disinterest.

Hell pushed its awareness at him – as insistent as a terrier wanting to be let out. 

It was so hard to care, though.  He’d been detached for so long that it was easier just to stay that way.  Surely, that was fine?   Hell could stretch itself out in his mind as much as it liked.  All it had to do in return was leave Lucifer out of it. 

The lightning bolt was wildly unexpected.  

Lucifer hadn’t realized Hell’s atmosphere was capable of that.

The electricity zipped along his body; not painful, but definitely not a sensation he could ignore.  Lucifer gasped.  His lungs had been still for so long that the sudden expansion of the organs did ache.  And it didn’t help that, because his beard was so full of ash, the inhale sucked debris into his lungs.

Lucifer coughed, coming more awake.  He realized his wings had popped out with the lightning strike.   There wasn’t room for them, sitting like this, and they had pushed him forward in the throne a bit.

He felt Hell’s satisfaction at getting him to stir, and he folded his wings away with an indignant glower.

Hell nipped at his awareness and, finally, Lucifer realized what Hell had been trying to tell him.

A demon had crossed the barrier to Earth.

He could feel it now; like a bit of velvet brushed in the wrong direction.  He could see the place where the path made by a soul’s descent had turned in on itself.

Wrath washed through him, absolutely consuming.  Lucifer threw himself out of the throne and opened his wings.

 

~*~

 

The transition from Hell to Earth meant leaving his awareness of Hell behind.  It was disorienting, nearly devastating, to find himself alone in his mind for the first time in…

He had no idea.

Lucifer felt impossibly small; strange and disfigured and incomplete.  The air was… wrong, here.  The light was wrong, the noise was wrong.  Everything was far too bright and warm and loud.

The transition to Earth had never been this painful before.   But, then, Lucifer supposed, he’d also never abandoned his sense of self and given himself up to Hell so completely before either.

Voices, nearby.  Human voices.  Shouting, but not in pain or torment.

Lucifer turned his head and tracked the sound.   There were two of them, pointing at him, jibbering in tripping German syllables.  This was… an overpass?   An overpass, yes, that was the word.   He looked at the filthy state of their clothes, the track marks running up their skinny arms, the garbage and disrepair and graffiti surrounding them.  There was a corpse at his feet.

Lucifer cocked his head at that last fact, curiously looking at the body.  It hadn’t been dead long. 

But it was empty.   The demon had moved on while Lucifer had been reorienting himself.

Lucifer growled his frustration.   He beat his wings and dove back into Hell.  If the demon had returned already, Lucifer would deal with it in Hell.  And if it had gone back to Earth, he would have to follow the most recent path.

He’d barely crossed the threshold before Hell was turning him in the right direction, pushing him up through the newest puncture in the barrier and back to Earth.  It was less disorienting the second time.  Hell hadn’t even tried to expand in his awareness in that brief dip back.  It had known what Lucifer needed, and it had provided.

Frustratingly, though, the body was again already empty when he got there.

The demon was hopping from corpse to corpse.  Why?  If it thought it could avoid Lucifer and the punishment it had coming, it was very, very wrong.

Again, he flew back into Hell to find the new path, and again, Hell volleyed him out in the correct direction.  Lucifer felt the faintest caress of Hell’s pleasure as he flew back Earth-side.  Hell wanted to serve him, and it was delighting at this chance to serve him so well.

On and on it went; the demon outpacing him by what must be mere seconds, until finally the gap closed and he emerged on Earth with the demon before him.

Lucifer swept his wings wide, catching the demon as it made to run.   He curled his wing and swept up the possessed body, throwing it back onto the pavement with an ugly sound of flesh hitting concrete.

Now that Lucifer had caught up to it, he could see which demon had dared to disobey.

Tetoros blinked up through his (two) borrowed eyes, dazed from his impact with the ground.   Lucifer stared at him with disbelief, his rage like a living thing writhing inside his chest.

“Lucifer,” Came a too-familiar voice behind Lucifer, strained and coughing from the ash Lucifer had brought with him and thrown into the air.

At her voice, every thought Lucifer had skittered off its tracks and fell silent.  Every last one of them.

Lucifer hadn’t been prepared for this.  Not at all.   

Slowly, he turned, just enough to see her from the corner of his eye.

“Lucifer,” She said again, and all of the work he’d done to smother his desire came undone in an instant.   She was beautiful.  So beautiful that it hurt.   His Detective.  Chloe.

Lucifer’s entire body ached with how much he’d missed her.

“My king, my king, please!” Tetoros pleaded.  Lucifer’s attention snapped back to the matter at hand and he realized – he hadn’t interrupted Tetoros trying to run.  He’d interrupted the demon trying to attack.  

 “She is poison!”  Tetoros insisted.  “Poison!  Once she’s gone-”

Lucifer couldn’t bear another word of this. 

It had been a mistake to leave Tetoros alive.  Lucifer realized that, now.   The demon had followed Dromos – he had seen Chloe’s face.  He had realized Chloe was important to Lucifer.

Snarling, Lucifer grabbed the possessed body by its throat.   Tetoros had been on Earth far too long.   With a massive sweep of his wings, Lucifer flew them back to Hell.   The body Tetoros had been inhabiting disintegrated as they crossed the barrier.   The demon left behind squirmed futilely in Lucifer’s grasp. 

Lucifer reached out to Hell and it flooded back into his mind, welcoming him.

He wanted every demon in Hell to witness this punishment, and so Hell made sure they came. 

Lucifer had promised Tetoros that his punishment for following Dromos would be a dream compared to what Lucifer would do to any demon that disobeyed him again. 

And he was a Devil of his word.

 

~*~

 

Once Lucifer’s fury bled away, the work became harder.  The wrath that pushed him through the first few days of dismantling Tetoros wasn’t sustainable.

The lock that he’d put on his emotions had broken when he’d seen Chloe and, try as he might to stop, he kept thinking of her.  He kept feeling.

She hadn’t looked any different, really.   It couldn’t have been much time at all on Earth since she’d last seen him. 

It felt like such a long time had passed since he’d last seen her.

Tetoros screamed and screamed and screamed as Lucifer saw to him, and Lucifer couldn’t stop thinking about Chloe.  It turned his stomach, thinking about her while he was doling out this punishment, but he couldn’t stop.

Hell did its best to sooth him and steady his hands as he dealt with Tetoros.  Lucifer could tell that Hell didn’t really understand why he was upset, but it was trying anyway, trying to give Lucifer the detachment he needed to finish this. 

It didn’t really work, though.   Thoughts of Chloe kept piercing through the fog. 

What would the Detective think if she could see him like this?   If she could see him deliberately, slowly, reducing Tetoros to senseless, limbless, suffering meat? 

When it was done… when Lucifer walked away from the technically living thing left behind on the rack, Hell stopped him from stumbling.

Hell coaxed him into opening his wings, and even gave him an encouraging updraft to get him back up onto his throne.  The black rocks churned, sending the demon crowd scurrying away and back to their respective duties and entertainments, leaving Lucifer alone.

 

~*~

 

Since numb detachment seemed to be off the table, Hell offered Lucifer the tactile awareness of new loop doors being made.  It had always been a sensation Lucifer enjoyed before, and when it wasn’t enough to please him now, Hell offered him instead the feeling of the thick, churning currents under the lava pools, so deep beneath the rock that the chill air couldn’t reach them.

But, no, all that seemed to do was make Lucifer think about his own unbeating heart and the blood that lay still in his veins.

Hell changed tactics.  It let Lucifer hear the delicate, tickling scuttle of the carapaced creatures climbing across black glass walls in the caverns; the soft rhythmic pops and crunches as they ate each other.  It focused on the harmonies created by the rattling chains on the loop doors, dampening out the screams that accompanied them.  It showed him massive columns of precarious rocks that had been pushed upwards by millennia of expansion, and let him see the moment the balance faltered and the structures toppled in a cacophonous crash.

Lucifer appreciated that Hell was trying to make him happy. 

None of it stopped him from missing Chloe.

Hell followed his thoughts and crafted for him an image of her face, arranged in the fall of ash as the wind caught it just so, just for a moment.

Hell couldn’t understand why the sight hurt Lucifer, but its master’s reaction was undeniably one of pain. 

Hell brushed a small zephyr through Lucifer’s hair in apology and, reluctantly, withdrew.

 

~*~

 

When Lucifer had first fallen, Hell hadn’t quite known what to make of him.  Hell had known - as soon as the hurtling form tumbled through its barrier - that Lucifer was something new and different. 

Lucifer had seemed so small, at first.  Powerful, but heart-sick and furious and far too wounded to do anything but lie in the burning crater made by his descent and moan in pain. 

Hell had been curious and, when Lilith and her children started following the smell of Lucifer’s blood, Hell had shifted things, just a bit, to give Lucifer shelter.

After all, it wouldn’t do to have this strange and exciting newcomer ripped to shreds immediately.

Hell remembered the feel of Lucifer’s wings fluttering against its stones.  The appendages had been so broken by the fall it was a little surprising Lucifer had even been able to move them. 

Hell had never seen feathers before.  It liked them.

When Hell had reached out to Lucifer, it hadn’t been anticipating anything special.   A better feel for the new creature, maybe.  Or perhaps a name to call it.

But that wasn’t what happened.

When Hell brushed up against Lucifer’s mind, the fallen angel hadn’t been receptive.  Lucifer had snapped and snarled and pushed Hell away. 

Hell had been too surprised at having its presence perceived at all to even be offended.

It had taken a while before Lucifer stopped lashing out.   It didn’t happen until after Lucifer had healed, and after weeks of impotent shouting and raving at God.  Hell listened to him sympathetically.  Hell didn’t understand what this “free will” was that Lucifer kept going on about, but it understood that Lucifer had very strong feelings on the matter.

After a while, Lucifer seemed to accept where he was.   Once he accepted it, he started to explore, and at last he noticed that Hell had pushed the crater up into a towering plateau of rock to keep him safe. 

Lucifer became curious, and so Hell tried reaching out again.

When Lucifer finally opened himself up to Hell’s presence…

…for the very first time, Hell had felt complete.

 

~*~

 

Hell remembered how intrigued, and then how angry, Lucifer had been when he stumbled across his first loop door.  

Hell hadn’t honestly given its creation a second thought.  It hadn’t been the first human soul to fall to Hell – far from it – and accommodating the human souls that had started pouring in some time ago had been instinctual.   They slid in through Hell’s skin wanting a place to suffer for their guilt, so Hell had provided it for them. 

Hell didn’t particularly understand why Lucifer found these doors any more interesting than its volcanic spires or its valleys of acidic gas, but once Lucifer found them, they became his obsession. 

 

~*~

 

Lucifer took to punishment like…. Well.  Hell didn’t know what ducks were.  Or water, for that matter.

But still.  It appreciated that Lucifer had a knack for punishment that seemed entirely complementary to Hell’s provision of locations for said punishment. 

Once the demons realized Lucifer was their king - a position he asserted with a beautiful sort of wrath and violence - everything fell into place. 

Hell was content.

 

~*~

 

The first time Lucifer flew up to Earth, Hell had been curious more than hurt or jealous.  No one had ever left, before.   Hell hadn’t realized it was an option.

But, no, Lucifer spread his lovely white wings and, with a few determined wingbeats, slid through Hell’s barrier and vanished from Hell’s awareness.

It was a completely different sensation than human souls coming in.  

Time passed. 

Lucifer had been the most interesting to happen to Hell since Hell had been created and, now that Lucifer was gone, the days had once more settled back into predictability and stagnation.

 In as much as Hell could feel anything, it had felt lonely.  And bored. 

 

~*~

 

When Lucifer came back, even though he’d been sulky and resentful, Hell had been so pleased that it had pushed up entire new oceans of bubbling lava.

 

~*~

 

It became routine.  Lucifer spent time with the demons, but most of his time was spent with the human souls.  It seemed to Hell that Lucifer preferred the variety that humans offered him.  

Sometimes, a soul would fall that didn’t have a clear enough idea of why it wanted punishment for Hell to create an appropriate place.  Lucifer saw to those souls personally.

And, every few decades or so, Lucifer would become restless and disappear up to Earth. 

Almost always, he would return with satisfaction and resentment rolling through him in equal measure.

Lucifer reshaped the plateau that had been his first shelter, narrowing the sides further and further and further until all that remained was a single towering column of rock, upon which he crafted a place to sit, carved up from the very spot he had first landed.

Hell could tell that Lucifer thought of the structure as a statement of his authority.   Hell didn’t see how it was necessary, as every inch of Hell was Lucifer’s to command, chair or no.   But, still, the demons seemed impressed with the throne and that seemed to be Lucifer’s desired effect.  

Often, Lucifer would sit in his throne and stare out at Hell’s ever-expanding landscape.  He would rest, or simply let his mind wander, alone on that high perch with Hell’s ash slowly settling over him.

Hell enjoyed those moments. 

 

~*~

 

Things remained the same for such a long time that Hell came to believe they would never change.

And then things changed.

 

~*~

 

At first, it was just another trip that Lucifer took up to Earth.  It had been a while since the last visit; Hell had been expecting it. 

When Lucifer came back, Hell had thought that would be the end of that cycle.  Instead, the return to Hell had barely lasted a moment as he scooped up the demon Mazikeen and took her with him back to Earth.

Which was odd.  Lucifer hadn’t let demons go up to Earth in ages, forbidding it on account of the headache it caused him - too many orgies disturbed, too many fights with Amenadiel about humans witnessing the supernatural that cut his visits Earth-side short.  

Lucifer hadn’t taken a corporeal demon up before at all.   Like all of Lilith’s children, Mazikeen was made of Lilith and of Hell’s fundament.  It was such an odd sensation; having that piece of itself leave.

Hell was intrigued, and looked forward to whatever story it would glean from Lucifer’s thoughts when he came back.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer didn’t come back.

 

~*~

 

Time passed. 

Time wasn’t a concept that Hell really cared about, ordinarily.  Time was a thing that Hell regularly twisted to make the human souls places to be punished.   Some loops moved in tandem with Hell, and some as slowly as the days passed on Earth; some loops held a single frozen moment where only the soul’s thoughts moved forward. 

Time had never felt quite this heavy before.

Days stretched into months stretched into years stretched into centuries, and still Lucifer didn’t return.

Perhaps a fight with Amenadiel had gotten out of hand and Lucifer was injured and unable to return.   The way Lucifer ranted about Amenadiel, it was possible an argument had gone too far.

Or maybe God had tried to take Lucifer back to Heaven, and Lucifer hadn’t figured out a way to leave the Silver City yet.

Or maybe Lucifer simply hadn’t realized how long he’d been gone.  Surely, he would come back any day now.

Hell could wait.

 

~*~

 

Human souls fell in and Hell created loops for each of them.    Hell remembered all the time Lucifer spent inside these loops, punishing the damned and admiring the sometimes subtle and convoluted avenues humans took in expressing their guilt.

Hell had been pleased with the work.  Hell had enjoyed creating massive, spiraling corridors of doors, creating long symmetrical paths of columnar rocks and craggy outcroppings with stealthy little entrances that it shared only with Lucifer. 

Without him, there didn’t seem to be any point in these playful little embellishments.  The demons couldn’t perceive Hell, not the way Lucifer could, and they didn’t appreciate the effort.  And the human souls – well, once they were inside their loops, they didn’t really care about the rest of Hell at all.

Hell stopped trying to create delicate and interesting architecture.  It pushed up monotonous and effective towers filled with doors and irritably flooded the streets with lava.  It sent the demons scattering and screeching, but it didn’t lift Hell’s mood.

 

~*~

 

The Goddess of Creation beat against Her door.  It was the only door in Hell that had proper locks and, over the last hundred years or so, the Goddess had grown more and more insistent that She wanted to leave.   Maybe She could also sense that Lucifer was gone?

Maybe She would stay, if Hell let Her out?  Maybe She would be like Lucifer - maybe the days of being bored and lonely were over.

Hell opened the door.

The Goddess left before Hell could even introduce itself.

 

~*~

 

A soul came to Hell that resembled Lucifer and, for a moment, Hell lit up.   It had been such a long time.  

But, then, it took a closer look.  

The soul had passed through the barrier as any dead mortal, and the featherless, bodiless creature, though familiar, wasn’t Hell’s king.

Disappointed, Hell churned up plumes of sulfurous smoke. 

A short while after that, God plucked the soul out of Hell.  

Maybe God had been confused, too.

 

~*~

 

When the featherless fake returned, he asked Hell where to find the loop door for a Dr. Jason Carlisle. 

Hell had been too surprised, at first, to do anything but acquiesce.

The not-Lucifer went through the loop door and, when he stepped back out, Hell scrutinized him.  It wasn’t Lucifer.  Hell tried to establish contact with the creature but… he was just a soul – fleshless and heavy with guilt.  He couldn’t understand Hell, not really.   Not like Lucifer could.

Hell created a place for him to deal with his guilt and gently ushered him inside. 

The Goddess of Creation descended not long after that and pulled the not-Lucifer away again.

Hell wondered if it had made a mistake.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer returned.   Lucifer returned – Lucifer, the real Lucifer, with his massive, beautiful wings and unheavy soul.  

Hell set its tar pits boiling and plushed the air with ash.   It set off small, delighted earthquakes that shivered across the ground. 

Lucifer reached out, and Hell eagerly answered.   High in Hell’s atmosphere, Lucifer spread his lovely wings.  He wanted Abel, the first soul, and Hell turned the wind and showed him where to go.

Hell pressed against Lucifer, just enjoying the feel of him, the feel of those barbed pinions cutting through the air again.  Lucifer’s deeper thoughts and memories were closed to Hell, but Hell didn’t mind.  Lucifer had just gotten back.  Hell could be patient. 

Lucifer stepped into Abel’s loop, collected the soul, and without any further word or acknowledgement, flew back to Earth.

 

~*~

 

Hell was so stunned that, for the first time since its creation, the fall of ash stopped completely.

 

~*~

 

Over the millennia shared with Lucifer, Hell understood that Lucifer’s thoughts and emotions were infinitely more complex than its own.   Hell didn’t resent this or feel discontented by it in any way; it was simply a fact of their respective natures.  Hell enjoyed the effervescent feel of Lucifer’s thoughts bubbling along its consciousness when the angel was feeling contemplative.  When he was really worked up about something, his anger or frustration would press into Hell’s awareness so clearly that Hell couldn’t help but set the air burning in empathetic response. 

Hell served Lucifer with pleasure, shaping itself to complement Lucifer’s moods and desires.  

There were times when Lucifer would return from Earth feeling brittle and upset.   From those trips, Hell gleaned that some humans knew Lucifer by reputation and rejected him.  On those occasions, Hell chilled the air in echo. 

Hell didn’t really understand how anyone couldn’t embrace Lucifer but, then, Hell also didn’t understand why God had thrown Lucifer hard enough to break him when He’d given Lucifer to Hell. 

Hell accepted that there were things that it didn’t understand.  This didn’t bother Hell.  With Lucifer, it had a master to serve and that was all that Hell wanted or needed.

Lucifer returned to Hell after eons of silence, stayed only long enough to collect a soul, and left again.

Hell didn’t understand.

And unlike many of the things Hell hadn’t understood since its creation, for this, Hell wasn’t content with not knowing.

Hell was angry.

 

~*~

 

Hell had observed enough to know how demons and humans and angels expressed anger.   Hell didn’t have a voice to scream, or hair to tear out, or fists to pound until they broke.

What Hell did have was all the vastness of itself and the power to reshape as it saw fit. 

Hell tore apart the meandering symmetrical paths it had made for Lucifer, and crushed the delicate black glass spires into dust, and hurled wind through its immense, still lakes of acidic gas until only the unobstructed jagged ground remained.

Demons howled and screamed with their pain and confusion as Hell split the ground and swelled up molten rivers.   Hell didn’t see what they were so upset about.  It’s not like the lava was even moving that quickly, and only a hundred or so of them had been swallowed up before they’d taken cover in the loop doors.

Hell found the wandering souls that Lucifer hadn’t seen to, since Lucifer was gone, and pushed them into a dark and bottomless oubliette.  If Lucifer wasn’t going to take care of them, then fineHell would.

In a furious bit of pique, Hell smashed in the roof of the palace and snapped the towering throne into billions of splintered shards. 

The pieces of Lucifer’s throne were so small that it took time for them all to drift to the ground - a fine layer of black stone powder that spread out over the ash. 

Hell felt each piece settle.

At last, Hell quieted; exhausted in a way it had never been before.

 

~*~

 

Years passed.  Decades, and Hell considered its landscape and the damage it had unleashed on itself.

What would Lucifer think, if he came back and saw all of this?

Hell slowly began the work of putting things back where they belonged.

 

~*~

 

Centuries slid by, uneventful, unremarkable.   Hell created loop doors and sullenly flooded the streets or rained down molten acid from time to time, finding fleeting entertainment in the way the demons panicked and fled when it did so.

When William Kinley’s soul arrived, shouting about Lucifer, Hell paid him no particular mind.   It was fairly common for damned clergymen to speak about Hell’s master before they settled into their loops.

Hell ushered him along, noting absently that a couple of demons followed through the door after him.  Demons did tend to love it when men of the cloth came to Hell.  Hell wasn’t quite sure what the joke was but, then, that was demons for you. 

It wasn’t very long at all after that that they emerged again, cackling excitedly.  The older and stronger of the two reached out, finding the place that Kinley’s soul had descended, and slid through to Earth.

Hell bristled unhappily – that was against Lucifer’s orders.

But, really, why should Hell care?  Lucifer was gone.

When the second demon followed later, and the third, and fourth and fifth…

Hell merely watched, smoothing out the holes in the barrier made by each departing demon.

 

~*~

 

There had been more than seventy demons that had made their way up to Earth, one by one - but when they returned, it was en masse.

Hell listened to their hushed, terrified conversations.  They had seen Lucifer.  They had gone to be with Lucifer.  Hell darkened with jealousy.

 

~*~

 

And then Lucifer returned.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer returned and the first thing he did was settle on his throne. 

Hell expected Lucifer to ask for the location of a particular soul and, once found, Lucifer would fly off again.   Hell was braced for it.

Lucifer sat on the throne and stared out at Hell’s landscape and…

And the inquiry didn’t come. 

Hell wondered if Lucifer could tell that the throne was different; that it had been shattered in a fit of anger and rebuilt.  Perhaps that was why its master was so silent and closed off.

After a while, Lucifer seemed to collect himself.   He tipped out of the throne and spread his beautiful wings.

Where is Dromos?  Lucifer wondered, and, disappointed but not surprised, Hell let Lucifer know where to find the demon.

Lucifer dragged Dromos out from the cave the demon had thought to hide in, his grip so tight around the twisted knob of the demon’s shoulder that his fingernails drew blood. 

“Lucifer, really, this is a misunderstanding,” Dromos claimed.   His kicking feet scattered pebbles across the ground and disturbed the ash.  Lucifer didn’t slow down or fly away or even speak - he was still mostly closed off from Hell but, from what Hell could feel, Lucifer was angry with single-minded determination.

Lucifer’s mind opened further, a desire seeping through – I want them all to see this, he thought.

Hell let the demons know. 

 

~*~

 

Lucifer didn’t kill Dromos quickly. 

Hell didn’t trust that Lucifer would stay once it was done, but it still enjoyed Lucifer’s presence while he was here.  Lucifer flayed skin and broke bones and ruptured organs with such a cold, resolute intent that Hell couldn’t help but lower its own temperature in echo. 

When it was finished, when Dromos was dead, Hell brushed against Lucifer with longing.

“Bring me Squee,” Lucifer commanded, and the demons scrabbled to obey.

Apparently, Lucifer would be staying for a while after all.

 

~*~

 

After reducing a tenth demon to lifeless pieces, Lucifer flew back to his throne.  Not to Earth.

Lucifer settled against the shaped black stone, tired and contemplative, and opened himself up to Hell a bit more as he stared out at the landscape. 

Hell couldn’t help but flow in.  Even with how frigid and unhappy Lucifer was at the moment, Hell had missed this connection.

Lucifer found a comfortable position and, eventually, slept.

His dreams were dark and violent, and Hell shivered.

 

~*~

 

One after the next after the next, Lucifer tortured the disobedient demons to a painful, drawn-out death.  Hell didn’t know precisely what had happened to Lucifer on Earth, but its king had never been quite so… focused… before. 

The cold made Hell’s lava pools form over into layers of rock that swelled and cracked and swelled and cracked; a tickly strange sensation that Hell quite liked.

Lucifer tortured Tetoros, the last of the demons to have gone to Earth, and Hell could feel that Lucifer was relieved to nearly be done with the task.

Hell waited and watched, as attentive as the terrified audience of demons, as Lucifer lowered his whip.

“I have a job for you,” Lucifer said to the thoroughly maimed creature.

“Whatever you command, my king,” Tetoros replied.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer left the demon (barely) alive and returned to his throne and his muted, contemplative thoughts.  His attention seemed fixed on Hell's barrier.  Perhaps he was enjoying the feel of souls sliding in, but Hell didn't think so.   Lucifer had never watched the barrier with so much longing before. 

Time passed, and yet despite that sense of longing it didn’t seem like Lucifer was planning to leave.  His mind remained a cold and determined place.

Hell began to believe than Lucifer intended to stay.

Souls poured in, and Hell started building the delicate and unique structures for their doors that it used to.   The mass towers felt ugly, now that Lucifer was back. 

Hell expanded with intricate winding paths and caverns where the cold air collected as a nearly physical presence.  Lucifer hadn’t shown any interest in the new doors yet, but Hell was sure he would, eventually. 

Lucifer’s thoughts sparked - disgust and discomfort. 

He flew off the throne, looking for…

Looking for the loop door that Hell had created for the not-Lucifer.   The featherless, guilt-laden soul that had arrived in Hell and had been plucked out by the Goddess.

Hell showed him where to go with a growing sense of unease. 

Lucifer entered the door and, dismissively, waved away the loop scenario while keeping the loop structure.   It was hard for Hell to tell exactly what Lucifer got up to while he was in the loop doors, being created more from a soul’s mind and memory than from Hell’s intent, but Hell could still see that Lucifer knew the structure intimately.

He had been there before.

Hell sent out a few stressed earthquakes, unsure of what this meant, exactly.

It had been Lucifer. 

Hell remembered the way the soul had screamed and cried and begged, as tormented and guilty as any other soul in its domain.  Hell must have overlooked something important; made a mistake when it created the loop. 

Lucifer’s brusque collection of Abel made more sense, at least.   Of course Lucifer wouldn’t have wanted to stay after Hell had so thoroughly failed to recognize him.

It raised the question of why Lucifer had come back now – even if it did explain why Lucifer was being so... cold.  

When Lucifer emerged from the loop door, Hell tentatively brushed against him.

Something was different about its master.   Lucifer had left something of himself behind in that loop.   Its master's mind had never been this silent before; his thoughts so metallic and smooth. 

Lucifer flew back to his throne and sat, somehow even colder and more distant than he had been before. 

Hell wrapped itself around Lucifer as much as it was able to.  It hoped Lucifer understood that Hell had made a mistake, before, in not recognizing him.  Hell wouldn't make that mistake again.

Whatever Lucifer was thinking, though, he was keeping it buried deeply.  Hell's king stared into the distance, unmoving, unmotivated – content, it seemed, simply to sit, and stare, and breathe.

Days passed.   Weeks, months, and Lucifer didn't explore any of Hell's new architecture, or visit any loops, or make any demands or requests of Hell at all. 

Lucifer had returned, but he felt... damaged, somehow. 

Hell folded itself tightly around its king and hoped that, with time, Lucifer would return to his old self.

Amenadiel arrived.  It wasn't the first time the other angel had come to Hell – usually, he came accompanied by Lucifer returning from one of his trips to Earth - and his presence before always meant an argument with Lucifer that would lead to days of an angry king.

Lucifer's mind lit up with a scalding flash of anger at feeling the angel cross the barrier, as Hell had expected. 

But the anger then faded back into detachment almost immediately.

Hell burbled up acidic gas in its caverns. 

Amenadiel landed at the base of Lucifer's throne and gazed up with anticipation.  It was startling, how much emotion Hell could feel coming from Amenadiel.  The other angel wasn't opening itself up to Hell the way that Lucifer was, and Hell could still feel so much more from him.  Its concern for its king deepened.

“Luci!”  Amenadiel called when a minute or so passed without Lucifer acknowledging his arrival.  “Lucifer!  Don't make me come up there.”

With a flash of irritation, Lucifer descended and flew into his palace.  He put a hand to the braziers and seemed to change his mind about wanting them to be cold and dark.  Hell lit them with small flames, negotiating a middle ground between what Lucifer was asking for and what he actually wanted.

Amenadiel joined Lucifer and...

And the fight that Hell had been anticipating didn't happen.  For a moment, Lucifer's thoughts turned rich and complicated with desires and ideas. 

Hell could feel it when Lucifer consciously crushed them.  Its king pushed the thoughts away.

The angels talked.  From Amenadiel, Hell sensed an echo of the concern it felt for Lucifer.  Hell wondered what had happened between the two angels that their relationship had changed so much.  

Lucifer left Amenadiel in the palace.   He flew back to the throne and returned his attention to Hell's barrier.

Amenadiel didn't leave immediately.   When he did leave the palace, he didn't fly back to Earth; choosing, instead, to wander through Hell.

Amenadiel wasn't Hell's king but Hell could still understand him.  When it realized Amenadiel wanted to know what Lucifer had done, Hell subtly directed him towards the square where Lucifer had seen to the rebellious demons.

Amenadiel regarded the darkly stained pole.  The frozen pool of blood and lashed-apart flesh. The large, ragged pile of limbs and corpses.  

The angel left after seeing it.

 

~*~

 

Time passed, and it didn't matter how intricate or enticing Hell made its architecture – Lucifer wasn't interested.  His attention remained singularly fixed on the barrier. 

Thinking about Lucifer's first few months back and his reaction to Amenadiel's arrival, Hell realized that Lucifer was watching for demons trying to cross to Earth.

It was all he cared about. 

Lucifer was back and it was still better than the silence of his absence, but it was a far cry from how things used to be. 

 

~*~

 

When the demon Tetoros called up to the throne for Lucifer, Hell wasn't entirely sure Lucifer was capable of responding.  As years slid by the angel had slowly reshaped himself into a thing as cold and hard as the throne he sat upon.

Thoughts creaked back into motion and Lucifer tipped himself out of the throne, falling like a stone and splintering the ground on impact.  It was a relief when Lucifer felt a desire to have the broken rocks smoothed back out.  It was a relief that Lucifer felt desires at all.

Lucifer followed the information Tetoros had imparted, looking for Belarl and Ruk, his thoughts dark.   Hell directed him where to find them.

Hell was aware of the throng of demons waiting in the nearby loop doors.   Hell didn’t really think anything of it, until they started pouring out attacking Lucifer.

Hell supposed it made a bit of sense.   When Lucifer first claimed dominion over the demons, he’d had to fight for it.  Perhaps he’d been gone long enough that these demons had forgotten.  Or perhaps they thought his time away had made him weak.

The fight dragged on.  Lucifer fought mechanically, battering the demons back with strength instead of skill, and Hell started to wonder if perhaps its king wouldn’t win this fight after all.

Then, all at once, the shields Lucifer had placed around his deeper thoughts fell away.  The connection between them exploded into life – deeper and more complete than it had ever felt before.   Hell could feel Lucifer’s skin and muscles and bones; knew the smoothness of his teeth against his tongue, the coils of his intestines, the prickly sensation of his beard against his neck.  Hell flowed into Lucifer and Lucifer held nothing of himself back at all.

Lucifer commanded Hell, and Hell obeyed.

When the fight was finished and Lucifer returned to his throne, Hell thought that Lucifer would rest for a bit, maybe, and then explore some of the new loops.

Hell was quite excited about that.  It was curious.  Would Lucifer’s interactions with the human souls be different, now that Hell could feel more of Lucifer?

But Lucifer settled onto the throne in a quietly contemplative mood.  He stroked his neck with his thumb, feeling the place a demon’s blade had left a thin line of split skin.  Hell drank the sensation in greedily. 

After a while, that stroking thumb fell to stillness, then Lucifer’s hand migrated down to his chest. 

Lucifer’s heart wasn’t beating, and Lucifer was upset about it.

Hell didn’t understand why it was so important – a beating heart was overrated, if you asked it.  But Lucifer laughed with pain and distress.  His hand fell and settled by his side.   He became still, his thoughts silent except for the steady hum of his attention on the barrier.  He wanted to know if anyone crossed that shouldn’t.  Hell would let him know.

Hell waited.

Emotion bled away from Lucifer’s thoughts.  He wasn’t upset anymore, which was nice, but he wasn’t… anything… anymore, which was less nice. 

Hell rebuilt the loop doors that had gotten smashed in the fight.  It guided the confused, displaced souls to their new homes.  On Earth, there must have been some sort of natural disaster or explosion, because the influx of souls spiked abruptly.

Hell saw to its tasks, most of its attention still with Lucifer.

The angel’s mind was vast and quiet.  Hell stretched its awareness out, looking for any sparks of desire or discomfort or need – anything that Hell could actually address.  It wanted to serve Lucifer, but what was there to do when its master seemed resolved to simply exist?

 

~*~

 

Finally, a demon decided to try its luck. 

Hell knew it shouldn’t have felt glad that Lucifer’s orders were being disobeyed, but after years of silence, it couldn’t help but hope that this would shake Lucifer out of his stillness.

Except… Lucifer didn’t react.

Hell nudged him, squeezing its awareness in Lucifer’s mind.  There was a faint, distant response – a desire to be left alone.

Which wouldn’t do at all.   Lucifer had wanted to know if a demon crossed the barrier, and now that one had, Hell wasn’t going to let him ignore it.

Hell tried again, and when Lucifer kept ignoring it, Hell reconfigured its sky until it had enough of an electric charge to zap the angel.

That worked. 

Lucifer jolted back into sentience with grouchy irritation and an unfurling of wings.   Hell was delighted and sent a bit of extra ash his way in pleasure.  

It drew Lucifer’s attention to the barrier, and more of the lovely emotions sparked to life once Lucifer understood what had happened.

Lucifer gave chase.

There was a disorienting moment when Lucifer went through the barrier to Earth – suddenly, all of that open, tactile awareness that it had been sharing in Lucifer’s mind was cut off.  It was dizzying, and for a moment it made Hell feel small.

Then, the demon crossed in again, and then back to Earth. 

Lucifer returned, and Hell understood what must have happened.  It showed Lucifer the new path.

Again, though, the demon popped back across before Lucifer caught up to it.

When Lucifer threaded back into Hell, the brief taste of his mind was perfectThis was Lucifer; large with anger and power and purpose.  Hell pushed its king back into Earth after the demon. 

The demon, Tetoros, was slippery and propitious, managing to stay ahead of Lucifer’s pursuit through several more jumps.  It helped that Hell led Lucifer to where the demon had crossed over; not to where it was.  It helped that Hell manipulated time in Hell and the thickness of the barrier to keep the game going.  It was the most exciting and excited Lucifer had been in a while; Hell didn’t want to end it too quickly.

At last, though, Hell sensed frustration from its master and sent him to the spot the demon currently occupied.  Being made, in part, of Hell, Hell had a sense of where the demon was on Earth.

Time stretched out in Hell, but Hell wasn’t concerned.  It knew Lucifer would be coming back with the demon.  Lucifer’s intentions had been quite easy to read.

Hell built sharp, glistening spires of black glass to house loops for the new souls that fell in in the meantime, anticipation and excitement spilling out in the intricate curling designs.

When Lucifer returned, he came dragging Tetoros and a human corpse.   The corpse dissolved in the barrier, but the demon wasn’t so lucky.

Hell reached out to its king and…

And his mind, while not closed off, was starkly different than it had been.

Something had happened on Earth.  Lucifer’s thoughts felt raw and painful.  A face kept appearing.  A name. 

Chloe.

Hell didn’t quite understand what Lucifer felt when he thought of her, but whatever it was, there was a lot of it.

First, though, there was Tetoros to be dealt with.

 

~*~

 

Hell had to help him finish.  Sometime between removing the demon’s sex organs and taking its other eye, Lucifer’s resolve faltered.   He wanted it done, but his new feelings of horror and nausea made his hands shake.

As open as Lucifer’s mind still was, it was easy for Hell to slide in and support him.  It was easy to see where Lucifer was getting caught up – his Chloe thoughts were insistent and the feelings they evoked were soft.  Completely unsuited for torture.

Hell guided him through the rest of it.  Lucifer leaned into Hell as much as he could, opening himself up wide and letting Hell take as much control as it was able to.  Hell couldn’t physically control Lucifer’s body, but it could suggest the next movement to make.  The assistance let Lucifer perform the deed without having to think too hard about it or make decisions, and that seemed to be what he wanted.

When Tetoros was reduced so far that anything further would be redundant, Hell guided Lucifer away.  It scattered the demonic crowd attending the spectacle and coaxed Lucifer into flying back to his throne.

Once seated, Lucifer’s relief at being finished was palpable.  He flexed his blood-stained hands and quietly keened, tipping his head back to rest against the stone. 

Lucifer was miserable.  His heartache darkened the atmosphere.

Hell tried to offer him distractions; sensations and sounds and sights that Hell found enjoyable. 

Lucifer’s thoughts remained fixed on the human woman he had left behind on Earth.  Lucifer had seen her.  Tetoros had tried to kill her.  Something in that interaction had popped open the door that Lucifer had been keeping on his pain, and it spilled into all of the cracks and crevices in his mind.

Hell tried to offer him an image of her face, and it was clearly a mistake. 

Lucifer turned away, his agony at the sight a cold wash across Hell’s awareness. 

Hell stopped trying to comfort Lucifer.   Instead, it folded itself through the newly surfaced thoughts and memories that Lucifer replayed in his mind, trying to understand what Lucifer wanted; what would please him.

 

~*~

 

Hell learned about Chloe Jane Decker.  

In Lucifer’s memories, the human was impossibly beautiful. 

Hell watched Lucifer shield her from harm, again, and again, and again.   Hell saw its king amused and gentle and happy.  Nights with Chloe and her daughter playing games.  Meals and conversations and hunts.  Kisses shared, blood spilled, arguments and reconciliations and missteps and yearning and pleasure and it went on and on and on.

Chloe was such a large piece of Lucifer that Hell couldn’t understand how he had kept it hidden away, before.

Hell learned the context of why Lucifer’s soul had come back to Hell twice before. 

He had done it for her.

He hadn’t wanted to come back.  

Lucifer hadn’t wanted to come back to Hell.

Not because he’d gotten bored of the day to day life in Hell and was taking a break on Earth.   Lucifer had stayed away because he didn’t like being here.  The truth of it was laid out bare in Lucifer’s mind, exposed and accessible, now that Lucifer had opened himself up. 

Hell constricted with the knowledge, cracking subterranean tunnels into collapsed ruins.

Lucifer didn’t notice. 

 

~*~

 

For a while, Hell drifted away from Lucifer.   It occupied itself with the untended souls that meandered through the landscape.  Souls that weren’t quite sure what they felt guilty about or where they were meant to be.

Lucifer used to be the one to see to them.  He could entice their desires out into articulation, and from there, Hell had been able to give them an apposite place to punish themselves.

Without Lucifer, they wandered, confused.

Lucifer wasn’t going to see to them, Hell knew.  Lucifer had apparently never cared about them.  It had simply been a job that he’d done begrudgingly.

Hell didn’t want to keep shoving them into the oubliette. That wasn’t Hell’s function and the solution grated.  It fished out the souls that it had tumbled into the pit before and considered them.

Maybe they just needed someplace to figure out what they needed.

Hell didn’t have a firmly established concept of “pettiness,” but it did feel a little thrill of satisfaction as it guided hundreds of ambivalent souls into Lucifer’s unused loop.  

 

~*~

 

Hell’s ambient lighting darkened day after day as Lucifer’s mood declined.  Lucifer still stared out at the landscape but Hell doubted he could see anything anymore in the near-black gloom.

Hell could feel that Lucifer wanted to stop thinking about Chloe and return to the detachment he’d had before, but couldn’t achieve it.

Hell…

Hell didn’t want to help numb him, this time.  

The hollow shell that Lucifer had been – knowing why Lucifer had become so empty, now – Hell didn’t want Lucifer to go back to being that inanimate thing.

In Lucifer's thoughts, he replayed the moment he had embraced despair and committed himself to returning to Hell.  He told Chloe that he loved her.  And then he told her goodbye.

Hell considered what to do.

 

~*~

 

Even knowing that Lucifer didn’t want to return to Hell - that the way Lucifer felt about Hell had never been as reciprocal as Hell had thought – Hell couldn’t help but want to serve him still.

Hell remembered the small, broken creature fluttering its shattered wings against the burning ground.  The impulse Hell had felt to protect it, which it had never regretted, and still didn’t regret.

Hell remembered centuries of Lucifer glorious with his power and rage.   How clever and smug he would feel when he unraveled a particularly difficult soul.  How quiet and appreciative he could be when he saw the new and elaborate structures Hell had made to please him.

Lucifer was the best thing that had ever happened to Hell.

And being here made him unhappy.

 

~*~

 

Hell understood why Lucifer had returned.  Lucifer’s memories had replayed his final days on Earth over and over, like a knife he just couldn't stop twisting in a deep and vital wound.  

Goodbye, Lucifer said to Chloe, sacrificing his happiness to keep her safe.

Hell stretched itself through Lucifer’s mind and body, embracing every thought and memory and molecule of him.  Faintly, Hell felt Lucifer’s thoughts tilt with curiosity at Hell’s increased presence. 

Hell held him tightly for a moment, then another, and then let him go.

It was easy enough to make it seem like a demon had crossed the barrier again.  A small deception; a tiny hole that Hell shaped – not where a soul had crossed over, but where Hell wanted the path to lead.  Between the demon Mazikeen’s frequent presence there and Lucifer’s memories, it hadn’t been hard to find the correct spot on Earth.

Hell showed the puncture to Lucifer and let him draw his own conclusions.

Lucifer sprang from the throne, his beautiful wings spread wide.  He pulsed with the expected fury and, underneath it, gratitude towards Hell for a job well done.

Hell watched him go; savoring every moment of his wings cutting through the air.  It traced every feather; every curling draft of air made by his wingbeats.

Lucifer crossed to Earth, thoughts swirling with violence for whatever demon had disobeyed.  The angel's mind faded from Hell's awareness.  

Goodbye, Hell thought.

It closed the barrier tightly behind him.

 

 

Chapter Text

Lucifer staggered on his landing.   The disconnection from Hell wasn’t quite as bad this time around, but it was still disorienting.

He’d spent so long in the dark that his eyes were having trouble adjusting to the brightness he found himself in.   He squinted blurrily at his surroundings, looking for movement, really, more than details.   He listened sharply, lips curled in a snarl.  He was in an enclosed space – he could tell that much from the way his wings were knocking into things.

Nothing moved.  No rebellious demon started pleading for Lucifer’s mercy.

Lucifer tried to see if there were any abandoned corpses lying about.  Why did Earth have to be so bright

He flared his wings angrily, sending objects tumbling to the ground.

He rubbed his eyes, wincing at the feel of the ash caked on his skin.  Rubbing seemed to be making it worse.  He opened his eyes, trying again to force his pupils to focus through the searing glare of the room.

The demon didn’t seem to be here.  Lucifer growled and curled his wings, pushing himself downwards back towards Hell.

Except –

Except instead of plunging back into the familiar dark and cold, he found himself repelled off the barrier and back on Earth.

Lucifer flexed his wings.  That was embarrassing.  He must have missed, somehow.

He concentrated and tried again.

Again, though, the barrier didn’t yield. 

Lucifer tried again.

The barrier wasn’t letting him through. 

No.  No.  No.  Lucifer needed to get back.  He needed to get back.

He tried again, and again, and again, and found the barrier to be as hard and smooth as a skull. 

For a wild, disorienting moment, Lucifer remembered his banishment from Heaven.   When the barrier sent him bouncing back to Earth again, Lucifer felt sick with confusion and couldn’t remember where he was or where he was trying to go.

The already overwhelming light in the room became a supernova, and he glared blindly up at the source of the pain.

“Lucifer?”  A voice called, familiar, but Lucifer was having enough trouble trying to figure out what plane he was on. 

He turned unseeing eyes in the direction of the sound.  Earth, right.  Was this the demon Hell had sent him after?

“Lucifer,” The woman repeated, her voice thin and tentative and – and she wasn’t a demon.   Chloe.   It was Chloe.   It was Chloe.

He tried to bring her into focus but the world was just so bright.  How could she stand it?

And – if Hell had sent him here, it must have meant that a demon had gone after her again.  That must be why Hell wasn’t letting him back in – the threat was still here.

He squinted at – the doorway, maybe?  - and a shape that he thought was her.   Beside the maybe-Chloe, a darker figure took a step forward.

“Lucifer, are you- ” And Lucifer knew that voice, too, and knew it was a demon.  He didn’t hesitate, launching himself forward with a snarl and ripping it away from Chloe.

It would regret going after her.

The demon tumbled back against a wall with the throw and Lucifer pounced after it. 

Lucifer fought with instinct and strength, since his vision was still taking its sweet time in coming back.   The demon had more skill – that was obvious quickly enough – and it was likewise obvious it wasn’t planning to surrender.  Lucifer grabbed at – her? – and tried to take them back to Hell.  He could hear Chloe shouting.  He should get the demon away from her.

Again, though, the barrier wouldn’t let him cross.  Why wasn’t it letting him cross?

The demon head-butted him, creating space between them, and Lucifer whipped his hands forward to grab her throat.  She got him by the wrists, turning his arm in a way that briefly locked his elbow and shoved, sending him backwards.

“Lucifer, please, it’s only maze!” Chloe yelled, near to him - syllables that didn’t make any sense.

A hand on his shoulder that must have been Chloe’s.   Lucifer froze for a moment, and she shouted with pain and withdrew.  He bared his teeth – he hadn’t seen it, but the demon must have gotten in a kick or jab or… or something.

“Decker, get out of here!” The demon yelled.  A threat?  Lucifer was having a hard time following what was happening, but he knew he couldn’t let the demon get to her. 

He threw a punch and swept his wing, catching the demon in the stomach with the arching bone below his alular feathers and throwing her across the room.  She landed with a riotous crash of breaking glass and splintering wood.

Chloe was yelling in the other room, begging the demon to stop.   Lucifer crossed the room.  His vision was coming back into focus, now, and he could see the outline of the demon struggling to rise from the smashed bit of furniture.  He grabbed her before she could find her feet, punching her arm back into the corner of the wall hard enough that the bone snapped.  She clawed at his face with her other hand and he caught her by the wrist, dragging her up the wall by the front of her leather vest.

“Lucifer, please, stop!”  Chloe pleaded.   The words were… wrong, somehow.  Lucifer paused, and in his hesitation Chloe pressed herself into the gap between his body and the demon’s.   She pushed her hands against his chest.  Lucifer felt a spark of fear at seeing her press her back to the demon, but…

He didn’t understand.

“Lucifer, it’s just maze.  Please let her go.  Please stop.  Please.  PleasePlease.  Let her go.  Please, Lucifer.”

Comprehension crept in slowly.  The details of the demon in front of him blinked into focus.

Chloe hadn’t been saying ‘maze,’ she’d been saying ‘Maze.’  Maze as in Mazikeen.

Mazikeen stared back at him from where he had her pinned to the wall.  Her wrist, in his tight grip, felt breakable and small.

“Please let her go.  Please, Lucifer,” Chloe repeated.  She was so close that he could feel her hot breath puff against his skin.   She was trembling.   She was terrified.   She was terrified of him.

He forced his clenched hands to open.  Maze slid down the wall, boots hitting the hardwood with a graceless and audible thump. 

Chloe sighed out a shaking exhale.  She was so warm.

“Maze, are you alright?”

“Great,” Maze answered tightly, the sarcasm thick.  Lucifer looked at her, trying to see how badly he’d hurt her. 

Chloe squeezed herself even further into the space between them, drawing his attention.

“Maze, I want you to take Trixie to Dan – no, wait he’s still…”  She looked down at Lucifer’s chest, thinking.  “Can you take her to Linda?  Linda and Amenadiel?”

It felt so strange to hear those names.  The nostalgia they evoked sent a stab through him.  How long had Lucifer been gone?

“Can you drive?” Chloe asked Maze, her voice an unsure mess of hope and determination and disquiet.

“I shouldn’t leave you here with him,” Maze said.  Lucifer looked at her again, and she stared back, her eyes cold and assessing; sizing him up like a threat. 

Lucifer tried to find the right words to explain what had happened and found them completely out of his grasp. 

“He’s not going to hurt me,” Chloe said.  “Please, Maze.”

A fraught moment passed where none of them moved.  Lucifer held still, not wanting to scare them, and Maze slid out from behind Chloe.

He watched her leave, trying to see what he’d done to her.  The broken arm was obvious.  Had he given her internal injuries?  Broken ribs?  It was hard to say. 

Maze closed the door behind her as she left, leaving him alone with Chloe.

Lucifer was alone with Chloe.

This was… something still wasn’t right.  He wasn’t supposed to have her.

Hell.  He needed to get back to Hell. 

Lucifer took a step away from her and tried again to fly down.  And again.  And again.

“Lucifer, stop, please.” 

Chloe was crying, he realized.   Wet tracks cutting through the ash on her pale face.

Lucifer curled his wings uncertainly.  Every second he was here translated to days and weeks in Hell.  He couldn’t – he couldn’t –

Why was Chloe wearing oven mitts?

Lucifer's thoughts got stuck on that incongruous detail long enough for the rest of his brain to start engaging. 

Whatever was going on with the barrier, Chloe was here.  

Lucifer drew his wings in tighter, watching her, and then tucked them away completely.

“Lucifer?”  She asked, ducking her head and staring up at him through her bangs. 

Lucifer swallowed.   

“Chl... Chloe,” He rasped.  His tongue felt unwieldy in his dry mouth.   

Her shoulders sagged with visible relief.  She nodded and scrubbed her mitted hands over her cheeks, smearing the ash and tears into even more of a mess.

“Here – I... One second.  Stay here,” She said.  She took a step away and stopped, giving him a worried one-over.

“Stay here,” She repeated. 

Lucifer slowly cocked his head.  She nodded again and pulled off the oven mitts, depositing them on the upturned back of a chair as she walked past to the closet by the door.  She opened it, keeping an eye on him, and pulled on a thick caramel-colored winter coat, cinching it closed.   She was trembling.  Was it cold? 

A scarf followed – stripes in various shades of green that made her already lovely eyes gleam like jewels.  And, then, a second coat that she tugged on forcefully over the bulk she was already wearing.

Ensemble evidently completed, she walked back across the wreckage of the living room – Lucifer winced, evaluating the broken TV, the broken tables, the ash spread everywhere – and snatched up an afghan than had been sitting on the sofa.

She stepped into his space, flipping open the blanket and wrapping it around his shoulders.

“Why are you so cold?” Chloe asked.  “I thought,” She swallowed. “I thought… where you were, I thought it was hot.”

“It –” Lucifer croaked and broke off in a dry cough.  Chloe gave herself a little shake and dashed into the kitchen.  She pulled a glass from the drying rack and turned the tap at the sink.  The pipes struggled for a moment, and she frowned, before the water gurgled up and filled the glass.   She turned the tap off with a ‘squeak’ and returned to him, stepping over the debris of her television.

Lucifer took the glass from her gratefully, flinching at seeing his filthy hands reaching for it.  He made sure not to touch her.   Chloe tucked her hands into her armpits once she’d given him the glass, hopping a little from foot to foot.   Lucifer realized he must have brought the cold air with him.

He took a sip to wet his throat so that he could apologize.

He choked, coughing out little shards of ice.  He looked at the glass accusingly, dismayed to realize the water had turned solid as he’d been holding it.  It had, quite unpleasantly, frozen as he’d swallowed.

Oh.

Oh, it was him.  He was why everything had gone cold.

Lucifer gave Chloe a helpless look and scanned around the apartment, thinking.   He walked past her to her kitchen and opened the freezer door.  

Ah, Lucifer thought.  Perfect

He drew out the frosted bottle of vodka and deftly unscrewed the cap.   He took a long swallow directly from it, the liquid actually making it to his stomach and, while it burned like cheap alcohol, it still felt amazing to have moisture in his throat again.

He sighed out in a moan.  “That’s much better.”

“Lucifer?”

He begged her patience with a raised index finger and brought the bottle to his mouth again, drinking deeply until he'd gotten to the bottom.

He set the empty bottle down on the counter.  His insides felt heavy in a way that made him worry that he'd maybe frozen the vodka, too, but perhaps it was just that his stomach had been dormant for a while.  On the upside, he at least felt capable of speaking again.

“Chloe,” He said; everything that mattered to him contained in two short syllables.   

Neurons were waking up.  Thoughts and feelings, and when he looked at her, all of the remembered pain of saying goodbye to her tightened his insides.   Lucifer felt a small, subtle shift in his eyes and he realized they’d only just now gone back to their normal brown; that they must have been burning red this entire time. 

Chloe’s expression softened and she reached towards him like she intended to cup his cheek, but turned her hand at the last minute, skimmed her fingers over his beard, then up to touch the curls that had grown down to his ears.

He belatedly realized that, aside from the afghan he was currently wearing like a cape, he was completely naked and covered in dried gore and ash.  He pulled the blanket off his shoulders and wrapped it around his waist in a slapdash sarong instead.  Chloe looked towards the ceiling as he did it.  Her modesty nearly pulled a smile from him – the muscles of his mouth twitched like they were trying to remember how, but even the failed attempt felt good.

“I've missed you,” He said.  “Oh, Chloe, I've missed you terribly.”

Again, she reached out like she wanted to touch him and stopped short.

“Are there more demons coming?  Is that why you're back?”

He swallowed.  “I don't know,” He admitted. 

“You don’t know if there are more demons, or you don’t know if that’s why you’re back?” She clarified, frowning.

Lucifer’s mind went back to Hell.  The encompassing cold and darkness; the stillness.  The despair.  His awareness of his surroundings had been so very disconnected from his actual body.  He remembered the feel of the swell and expansion of Hell – and maybe it had been because he’d stopped breathing by that point, but it had felt more real to him than his own flesh and bones.  

“I thought… someone had crossed the barrier,” Lucifer said slowly.  “Another demon.  But the path led here, and…” He flicked his eyes to the corner he’d used to break Maze’s arm.   He shook his head.  “And I’m not sure why.  Or maybe… I was thinking about you and – maybe I misunderstood.   Or maybe Hell misunderstood my desire for a command...?”

He started to run a hand through his hair in frustration and it was not the expected slide through gelled and straightened locks.  His fingers tangled in the snarled, filthy mess of his hair immediately, and he pulled them back out with effort.  The reminder was a sinking, solid weight in his gut.

He wondered again how much time had passed.

Briefly, he tried to do the math based on how long it took to torture a demon to death, and shied away from the thought with a shudder.  He remembered the sounds of their flesh parting; the screams and gurgles and the hot splash of their blood against his skin.  He looked down at himself – at the blood that painted him still.   His tongue felt thick in his mouth and his stomach churned.  He felt sick.

“Lucifer?”  Chloe asked, the concern for him obvious in her tone.

He swallowed once, twice, and shoved the thoughts aside.  

“I’m fine,” He said.  What a useful word – ‘fine.’  

“Are you… cold?”  She said, and Lucifer realized she must be feeling the surreality of this situation too.  Neither of them quite knew what to do or what to say to each other.

Lucifer hadn’t expected to see her again.  Not ever.

He had expected to spend the rest of his life mourning her from Hell.  He had been committed to that idea.  Resigned to the loss.

And he realized, looking at her, that she must have come to the same conclusion or hardened her heart in a similar way.   The atmosphere between them was brittle and strained and strange in a way that it had never been before – not even when they were strangers.

Do you spell that with one or two M’s?  I always forget.

Her eyes dipped down to his chest and back up.

“Or… would you like to take a shower, maybe?”  She asked, tucking an escaping strand of hair back behind her ear.  The puffy sleeve of her coat dragged across her cheek as she did so.  She was still shivering even in the layers.  “I’m… I should get the water running first, probably – so the pipes don’t freeze.  I should just.  Um.  Wait here.  I’ll…”

She shook her head at the awkwardness and turned down the hallway, ducking into her room.  A moment passed, and then he heard the sound of her ensuite shower turning on. 

Lucifer clenched his hand around the knot on his sarong.  The grit of the ash and dried blood ground into his palm.  He looked down at the state of himself.   Every inch of his skin was stained dark with filth.   The ash muted the smell of old blood but he could feel it clinging to him.  Hearing the shower, he suddenly wanted to get clean with a sharp desperation.

He didn’t want to leave Chloe alone – not when he still had no idea why Hell wasn’t letting him back in and there was potentially a rogue demon on the loose – but he couldn’t stand her seeing him like this.

Lucifer pressed his free hand against his chest, spreading his fingers over his still heart.  So the pipes don’t freeze, she’d said, and thinking about it the kitchen sink did seem to have had trouble with its task earlier.   Under his fingers, Lucifer didn’t think his skin felt that cold, really, despite all of the evidence around him. 

He picked his way across the floor and locked the front door.  A small shield to hold between Chloe and whatever may come.  She was armed.  She was smart.  Lucifer could take a moment to get clean and regroup and… and then…

And then what?

He again looked around at the destruction he’d wrought on the room.  

Trixie’s artwork was gone from the wall, he realized.  The walls were smeared with ash but the grid of childish drawings was clearly gone.  Had the spawn outgrown them? 

How long had he been gone?   The question ate at Lucifer.  It was disorienting, not to know.  He’d always had a sense of the passage of time, before, but it was completely missing now – he’d spent too long being nothing in Hell to have any real recollection of the passing days or months or years. 

Glancing around the apartment, it looked like either his lawyers hadn’t contacted Chloe yet, or that they had and she’d refused the wealth and properties he’d left her.  

Maybe it had been too much.  Maybe she hadn’t wanted the reminders of him, and had been just trying to move on with her life. 

Or maybe she was angry with him.

Maybe she hadn’t and wouldn’t forgive him for the trouble he’d brought into her life.  

Lucifer was acutely aware of the thick layer of dried blood coating his skin. 

Maybe, he thought, she’d realized that he was too monstrous to love.

He swallowed, hard.  The weight of the vodka roiled unpleasantly in his stomach.

“Lucifer?” Chloe called from her bathroom.  It jarred him from his spiraling thoughts.  He blinked, reoriented himself, and followed her voice.

Lucifer winced at the dark footprints he left on the carpet in her bedroom.   In the open door of the bathroom, Chloe turned to face him, one hand lingering behind the shower curtain to test the water temperature.

“I’ll… I’ll pay for the cleaning,” He told her, and she gave him a rueful smile that he couldn’t quite parse.

Maybe his lawyer had contacted her and… did Lucifer still have money? 

Chloe withdrew her hand from the spray, flicking the water off her fingers into the cubicle.   The sleeve of her coat had gotten wet.  She didn’t seem to notice.  Steam wrapped around her but dissipated by the time it reached Lucifer, vanishing in the chill air he carried with him.

Lucifer drew back from the doorway to allow her to pass, and as they shuffled around each other, Chloe brought her hand up as if she intended to touch him again.  He stilled, not sure if he was hoping she would or hoping she wouldn’t, but she dropped her hand.

“I’ll be right outside if you need anything,” She said, and it felt wrong that she was reassuring him.   He frowned, but nodded, not sure how to voice what he was feeling.

Chloe gave him another lingering look before she closed the bathroom door. 

Lucifer stood still in the middle of the bathroom for a moment, just watching the water cascade down in the bit of clear plastic at the top of the otherwise blue shower curtain.   He was aware of the bathroom mirror at his right side; could see the reflection in the corner of his eye.  He didn’t turn to look.  He didn’t want to know.

At length, he untied the knot in the afghan and let it fall.  The blanket was filthy from having touched him – when he pulled back the shower curtain, he left darkly smudged fingerprints.

He stepped into the spray and the shock of hot water made him gasp with pain.  It was boiling.  How could Chloe have put her hand in this?  He fumbled to turn the temperature down, shuddering in relief when the sting of it abated.  He pressed his hands against his scalded side, trying to sooth the burn.

The water sluiced off of him nearly black.  He watched the swirl of it circling down the drain.  His hands, when he raised them to scrub the water through his hair, sent splatters of dark water against the shower wall.  Lucifer closed his eyes, feeling overwhelmed and unspeakably dirty.  He stepped directly under the spray – he was taller than Chloe and had to duck a little to fit.

Even with the slightly-too-short shower, with his eyes closed, it was too easy to imagine he was back in his loop in Hell, washing off the aftermath of torture in that simulacrum of his penthouse.   The idea that he was still in Hell felt much more real to him that the impossibility that he was in Chloe’s shower.

The thought sank into him – maybe he was still in Hell.   Maybe he’d fallen into a loop as soon as he’d entered Hell and had just imagined the rest.  Was he imagining this now?

The idea stilled his hands.   Water beat down over his scalp and shoulders but Lucifer stopped feeling it. 

In the darkness behind his eyelids, the violent, unforgivable things he’d done pressed against him.   He shoved the thoughts away. 

Lucifer didn’t know how long he stood like that, stuck in a limbo of not wanting to remember, but nausea pulled him out of it.

He tipped forward and threw up against the shower wall.  His eyes snapped open.  The splash of vodka and stomach acids against the white ceramic was dark with ash.  Had he swallowed ash?  Maybe it had just been lining his throat.   The black/gray smear of it on the tile was grotesque.

Lucifer wobbled on his feet.  He fumbled the shower head out of its dock and sprayed the thin vomit down the drain.  His stomach tried to rise again and he swallowed, and swallowed, and swallowed until the sick feeling passed.

He put the shower head back into the mount and stepped under it again. 

He focused on the tropical flowers on Chloe’s shampoo bottle.   The bright, cheerful design was so dissimilar from any of his memories that it helped keep his mind from wandering. 

The water plastered his hair against his skin; heavy and longer than he’d worn it in a very long time.  He scratched his fingers through his growth of beard, working out the ash and blood and… and bits, that clung to it still. 

Disgust rolled through him and he clawed at the hair; ragged, too-long fingernails catching and pulling on his skin as he tried to wash away the evidence of what he’d done. 

There was a shower caddy hanging off of the mount for the shower head and a collection of Chloe’s shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotions and razor.  He snatched up the bath pouf and gave it a squirt of her coconut body wash, squishing the pouf into a lather before raking it across his chest.  The perfumed scent of the coconuts was so vivid that it was nearly too much.  His stomach turned and he ducked his head under the spray again, putting a wall of water around his face to mute the smell until he felt more in control.

Belatedly, he realized that he was breathing again.  That the reason the coconut smell had set him off was because he’d drawn it into his lungs at all.

He released his breath and held it, curious, but he didn’t feel compelled to inhale again now that he was thinking about it. 

Lucifer grit his teeth in annoyance.

The foam darkened immediately when he ran the cheap little bath pouf down his body.  The frothy bubble trail he left across his chest was nearly black, but it still seemed to be making progress.  The coils of plastic mesh scratched through the layers of grime that coated him and he shivered with how good it felt. 

Lucifer was starting to see skin underneath the mess and he kept at it.

Under the sound of the spray, he listened out for Chloe, just in case there was another attack.  The longer there was silence, the more he came to think there maybe wasn’t any threat after all.

He scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed, and tried to understand why Hell had sent him here.

He remembered how much Hell had pressed into his awareness before it directed him to Earth.  How very nearly like an embrace it had felt.

Had Hell… ?

Lucifer cocked his head, hearing his name.   Someone was praying – not vague Satanic mumblings at an idea of him, but a prayer sent directly to him, by someone who knew him.

Hi Lucifer.  It’s Ella.  I hope you can hear this.

Lucifer’s grip tightened around the pouf.  Soap suds pressed out between his fingers and dripped down his wrist.

I’m thinking about you, okay?   Thank you for saving Chloe today.  And I hope… I hope that you’re alright.   Anyway.  Good night, Lucifer.

Ella’s ‘voice’ faded, her message complete, and Lucifer stared blankly at the shower wall, processing.

Thank you for saving Chloe today, she’d said.  Was she talking about Tetoros attacking Chloe?  She must have been.  That had been today?

Lucifer rinsed off the filthy pouf and loaded it up with soap again.

I hope you can hear this, she’d said.  Meaning she thought Lucifer might be able to.  Meaning Ella must have realized that Lucifer was who he claimed to be.

What had changed?  Had Chloe told her?

Lucifer thought back to the glimpse of Chloe he’d had all of those years ago – this morning. 

There was… there had been people.  Yellow.  Yellow tape?  Yellow police tape.  It had been a crime scene.

Ella had seen him.

Ella had seen him, filthy and wild and wrathful, taking a demon back with him to Hell.

And she had prayed to him hoping that he was alright.

Lucifer’s chest tightened painfully, and his heart gave a hesitant, lurching thump.   The pulse of blood in his dormant veins felt strange and nearly ticklish.  He sighed, pressing his fist against his chest, but the muscle only gave one more little flutter and went back to being still.

It was something at least.  Lucifer concentrated, squeezing his eyes shut, and tried to get his heart to beat again.

The knock on the shower door startled him.  He looked up.

“Hey, I’ve found some clothes that I think will fit you,” Chloe called through the door.  “I’m going to come in and put them on the sink, okay?  And I’ve got some extra towels, too.”

Lucifer was tall enough that he could easily see through the clear plastic at the top of the shower curtain. 

Chloe opened the door and walked in with her offerings tucked under one arm.  Her other hand was held in front of her eyes, and again, her modesty sent a spasm of humor through him that just fell short of turning into a smile.   The mirth faded as he looked at the filthy state of her coat.  She must have been picking up the mess he’d made of her home.

“Thank you,” He said.  “I should be out soon.”

“Take your time,” She said.   Chloe picked up the discarded afghan and closed the door behind her as she left.  

Lucifer turned the water temperature up a little hotter.   Experimentally, he tipped his head under the spray and swallowed a mouthful of the warm water, choosing to find the positives in the unpleasant return of the not-frozen vodka earlier.  Maybe he was warming up a little?

He swallowed the water and, this time, there was no ice.   The water was still a cold, heavy lump in his gut once it settled, but at least he didn’t cough it out as frozen shards.   He swished water through his teeth and spat.  His mouth still tasted awful.

He went back to washing his hair.   The strands really were much too long and he grimaced every time his fingers found matter that wasn’t simply a clump of ash or blood.  He pressed the bits down through the drain with his toes.  He winced at a small piece that wetly crunched as he did so.  A piece of cartilage, maybe.  He turned his mind away from it.

Eventually, after quite a lot of scrubbing and several rounds of shampoo, the water running off of him started to turn clear.  His shoulders sagged a little with the simple relief of being clean again.

He considered the little razor sitting in the shower basket.  It was pink and looked disposable.  Probably something she used to shave her legs.

He imagined Chloe would be deeply unhappy if he used it to fix his overgrown manscaping situation, and he doubted it’d be up to the task of getting his facial hair back in order.  

Lucifer realized he was stalling and took a fortifying breath.  He sprayed down the cubicle to wash away any stray ashy droplets and switched off the water, watching the beads form and drip off the shower head for a long moment before drawing the curtain aside.

Toweling off, he appraised the garments on offer.

The sweatpants were worn and gray and, when he tugged them on, they were about a foot too short on him.  Chloe’s, he was nearly certain.  The ankles and waist were on drawstrings and the fabric fit comfortably.   He couldn’t complain.

The t-shirt was white and creased like it had been folded and stuffed in a drawer.  Lucifer would have bet it came in a plastic pack of three similar t-shirts, probably bought by Dan. 

Chloe had a pair of nail clippers sitting on the sink.  He helped himself to them, trimming his nails back into something that resembled order with a great deal of satisfaction.  His fingers hesitated over her toothbrush before decided against it.

Dressed and at least marginally more tidy, he finally mustered the courage to look in the mirror.  He sighed.

“Very homeless mental patient chic,” He assessed.  Towel-dried, his hair was a riot of long, tangled curls.  His beard was an irritating scraggly mess, and his skin was overall too pale.  He had a hollow, hungry look about him.

At his back, he could feel the itchy weight of the ash and gunk still clinging to his wings.  There simply wasn’t room to take them out in Chloe’s bathroom.  He’d have to deal with them later.

Overall, though, he was feeling much, much better.

He turned away from his disappointing reflection and left the bathroom. Following the dark footprints he’d left earlier, he left her bedroom as well.

Chloe had taken off the second jacket but was still bundled up in her coat and scarf.  She stood in the middle of the war zone Lucifer had made of her living room, a cracked picture frame in one hand, a trash bag in the other.  She seemed to be doing triage on the damage.

At his shuffle into the room, she looked up, and the displeasure on her face melted into something altogether more fond.

Lucifer’s heart gave another ticklish sort of vibration.

“Hey,” She said softly.  She gave him an appraising once-over.  “You’re looking more human,” She teased, and then hastily amended:  “I mean – not that you’re human, it’s just – you’re looking better,” She said, fumbling the correction adorably.

“Are you cold?”  She asked and bit her lip, thinking.  “I don’t think any of my coats would fit you.  We can wrap you in a blanket, maybe.”

She walked across the living room and did the strange little hover-hand thing again  - only this time, she closed the distance and pressed her fingers against his cheek – tentatively at first, and then curling her palm down over his beard.

She smiled at him, and he leaned into the touch like a neglected pet. 

“You’re not as cold anymore,” She told him.

He wasn’t.   Looking into Chloe’s eyes, Lucifer didn’t feel cold at all.

 

~*~

 

On the drive to Lux, Lucifer sat in the passenger seat and turned his attention to the snippets of Los Angeles passing by in his window.

Lux – because the apartment was a wreck, because Lucifer wanted Chloe in a more secure location, and also because he wanted shoes and his shaving kit – was a good distance away from Chloe’s apartment.   At this time of night, the LA traffic was negligible. 

A silence descended between them as Chloe drove.  Lucifer couldn’t guess what she was thinking but, from his side, exhaustion was making it easy to disengage.   Moment by moment in her company, he was starting to feel more like a person and less like a statue, and as a person, Lucifer couldn’t remember the last time he had actually slept. 

Lucifer watched the familiar streets roll past with slightly glazed eyes, trying to stay awake.  Nothing at all seemed to have changed since the last time he’d been here.  No new buildings, new shiny new car models.  Lucifer thought he even recognized familiar faces amongst the homeless people they drove past.

“Might I borrow your phone?”  He asked, rousing himself and turning away from the window.

“Yeah, it’s in my purse.”   She nodded towards the back seat.   Ruefully, she added: “I feel like I probably should have wrapped you in a blanket anyway, just as insulation to keep me warm.   You really don’t feel cold?”

Lucifer reached around and slid her phone out of the purse. 

“Not really,” He said, considering it.  “I’m aware that I must be, but –” He shrugged and plucked at the thin t-shirt he was wearing.  “Other than the horror of finding myself in Dan’s hand-me-downs, I can’t say I’m actually discomfited.”

Chloe smiled at the comment, and it sent a thrill of pleasure through Lucifer.  He was remembering how to do this.  How to be with her.

He tapped the power button on her phone to wake the device up and thumbed the password to open the locked screen.  A couple of missed messages notifications, a background picture of Trixie, and a blaring bit of information that would have stopped his heart, if it had been beating.

“Of course you know my password,” Chloe mumbled, mock-aggrieved and not noticing that beside her, Lucifer had just been devastated.   Lucifer stared at the phone, not hearing her. 

The date and time stared back at him in cheerful, brightly lit numerals, and Lucifer could only stare.

A breath left him – barbed, and taut – an ugly sound.

“Lucifer?” Chloe asked, eyes flicking away from the road for a moment.

“Four days,” He rasped.  He calculated it backward and forward, sure that he must be remembering the date that he’d left incorrectly, or that his exhausted mind was reading the digits wrong, or that he had the year wrong or – or something

But Lucifer knew that wasn’t the case.  His memory was detailed and sharp – angelically eidetic, when he made the effort – and there was no denying it.

He had only been gone for four days.

The phone snapped and splintered in his hand as he squeezed too tightly.   Chloe flinched and yelped beside him.

She pulled the car over onto the side of the road and stopped.   Chloe’s hands on his pried his fingers open, dropping the broken device into the footwell.  She turned his palms up and they both looked at the bright, bleeding scores where the broken screen had cut his flesh.

“It was only four days,” He said, frowning at his hands like they belonged to someone else.  His gaze swept along the delicate curves of Chloe’s fingers.  One of her nails was chipped – the clear coat of polish she wore had flaked away and drew attention to that relatively dull bit of nail exposed in its absence.

He watched the vivid red of his blood spill onto her hand and follow the crease of her lifeline.

“Oh,” He said blankly, curling his hands and drawing them into his lap, out of her grip.

Chloe reached across him and opened the glovebox.   She withdrew a fistful of napkins and pressed them at him.   He sopped them against the cuts to stem the bleeding.   There were drops of blood on the thighs of his borrowed sweatpants.   The red beads seeped into the fabric.   He felt the blood stick to his skin.

Chloe had pulled over onto the shoulder of the road.  A bit further down, a billboard advertised fast food in glaring colors. 

Lucifer remembered bringing burgers into the police precinct.  A favor for a struggling local franchise owner.   Decades ago.  More than a century, maybe.   Barely a month ago.

“How,” Chloe stopped.  Swallowed.  “How long was it… for you?”

Lucifer stared at the bright billboard with its overly-happy actor faces and glistening fries and milkshakes.    One of the lights illuminating the billboard had burnt out, leaving the smiling people in shadow.

Lucifer flexed his painful hands and couldn’t answer.

 

~*~

 

It didn’t occur to Lucifer until they were in the elevator heading up to his penthouse that he’d bled.

A Hell-forged knife across his throat had barely been able to furrow his skin, but shards of phone case?  Lucifer pulled back the sticky edges of the wad of napkins and looked at the oozing slices.  They were already healing but he couldn’t help but feel an odd sort of pleasure at the wounds.

“I didn’t think to ask – do you have a first aid kit up here?”  Chloe asked as the elevator finished its ascent and opened the doors.

He nodded, stepping into his home with a discordant sense of déjà vu.   The last time he’d been here had been in Hell. 

The black tiles were smooth under his bare feet.  The small gas fireplace in the wall by the balcony was still burning; the lights still on.  Lucifer didn’t imagine Chloe had been in any frame of mind to turn them off before she’d left. 

Please, please don’t go.  I love you.   I love you.  Please don’t leave.

He must have started breathing again at some point, because the memory squeezed his ribs and made his next inhale a struggle.

Chloe’s fingers closed gently around his wrist.  They stood there, staring across the penthouse at his balcony and the darkened sky beyond, both remembering. 

They watched the reflections of the fire and the lights until, at last, her grip on his wrist tightened in a small squeeze.

“Come on,” She said, shaking off the moment.  “Let’s see to your hands.”

Past his bedroom, past his massive walk-in closet, Chloe led him to his master bathroom.  The sprawling marble tub, the rainforest shower, the wall-to-wall vanity – they were as different from Chloe’s functional little ensuite as Lucifer could imagine, and yet Lucifer found himself missing the comfortable feel of Chloe’s apartment. 

He bent to open the cabinet under the sink and she pushed his hands away, opening the cabinet doors and pulling the first aid kit out for him and depositing it on the counter.

Lucifer gave her a slow look.  His fingers were fine and the slices across his palms were negligible, really.

She cocked a challenging eyebrow back at him and he gave her a relenting nod, letting her take over.

Chloe washed his hands in the sink, pulling the napkins off as gently as she could, hissing on his behalf as they stuck to the wounds until the water worked them loose.  She pulled his hands out of the water and patted them dry.  The open cuts gleamed with wet blood but didn’t really well up the way they would have if he’d had a heartbeat.  

Lucifer hoped she didn’t notice. 

She smoothed antibacterial gel into the wounds and carefully wrapped his hands.   The gentleness, warmth, and repetitive nature of her touch whittled away at his resolve to stay awake, and soon enough he was swaying where he stood.

“You look like you’re almost asleep on your feet,” Chloe said.  “Why don’t you go lie down?”

He bent forward and pressed his forehead against hers.  The gesture was intimate.  Lazy.  He closed his eyes when her arms came up around him.

“Come on,” She said, her hand drifting down to his waist and ushering him out of the master bath, down the hall and up to his bed. 

Lucifer crawled in without even pulling the covers back first, careful of his hands.  He grunted a protest when Chloe tugged the blanket out from under him but sighed in pleasure when she tucked him in.

“Lock le vator,” He mumbled. 

“What?”

He forced his eyes back open.  Chloe stared down at him, and there was so much tenderness and fondness in her expression that his heart gave another trembling beat.

“The elevator,” He said.  “Lock it, please.  I added a lock, after… with your spawn.  And Eve.  I just need a… a quick nap.  And then I’ll deal with…” He yawned. “I’ll… I’ll figure out what’s…”

Chloe’s hand in his hair derailed his thoughts. 

Under her stroking touch, exhaustion’s toe-hold became an enveloping embrace.  

Lucifer slipped into the darkness. 

He dreamt of Hell.

Chapter Text

 

Chloe generally considered herself someone who kept a level head when confronted with challenges.  With one or two notable exceptions, she rarely gave in to panic and, usually, when something went wrong, it engaged the part of her that wanted to solve the problem rather than the part that wanted to break down and cry about it.

She watched Lucifer sleep – his eyes flicking beneath his eyelids, his brows scrunching with distress, his hands clenching – and kept her fingers carding through his long, damp hair instead of freaking out about the way that Lucifer wasn’t breathing. 

“It’s just a dream,” She murmured, trying to sooth him out of the nightmare.  “You’re at Lux, with me, and you’re okay.  We’re okay.”

When Lucifer at last drew still, a small, treacherous part of her almost wished he hadn’t.   When he wasn’t twitching from the nightmare, it was too easy to see him as dead.   His body wasn’t freezing anymore but he was still somewhat below room temperature.   He was cold, and he wasn’t breathing, and when she’d had her hand on his wrist earlier she hadn’t felt a pulse.

Chloe drew her fingers away from his hair, her own heart clenching.

She slowly shifted herself off of her seat on the bed. 

She should let him sleep, she decided.  He was clearly exhausted. 

Chloe wanted to crawl into bed beside him, and couldn’t imagine doing it.  The image flashed in her mind – herself, beside this corpse-like Lucifer – and she shuddered. 

She exhaled a bitter, wry laugh.  This was so close to what she had wanted, and so absolutely not.  She glanced towards the ceiling, wondering if this was just further fuel in a grand, ineffable joke.

Chloe really couldn’t say she was overly fond of Lucifer’s father.

She wandered over to his burnt umber couches, skimming her fingers along the sleek cover of the piano as she went, and sat with a squeak of leather. 

What could she do?  What could she possibly do to fix this?

She wanted to call Dan and bounce ideas off of him, like this was a case.  She snorted at the thought, though.  It would be unkind to throw more celestial impossibilities at him right now.   She had no idea how well he was coping with the bomb that had dropped on him this morning, but…

No.  She couldn’t call him.

Literally, she realized – she couldn’t call him.   Her phone was a cracked, bloodstained bit of garbage in the footwell of her car. 

“Great,” She muttered.  She rubbed her eyes with her thumbs.   She wondered how many missed calls she had.  Maze must have made it to Linda’s by now and she had no doubt that her voicemail would be well on its way to filling up. 

She hoped Maze was alright.

That broken arm had been nasty-looking.  Trixie must have been so frightened when Maze came to collect her. 

Chloe bit her lip. 

She pushed herself up off of the couch and decided to check the penthouse and see if Lucifer had his phone lying around here somewhere.  It’d probably be dead by now, but that was fine.  She could plug it in.  He’d surely have Maze and Linda in the contacts.   Chloe would call Linda and –

The knock on the balcony door made her just about jump out of her skin.

On the bed, Lucifer made a disgruntled sound low in his throat but didn’t quite wake up.

Chloe glared incredulously through the glass at Amenadiel, who gave her a somewhat sheepish look in reply and nodded at the door with a ‘do you mind?’ kind of gesture.

Chloe unlatched and opened the balcony door.  Behind Amenadiel, the skyline view of Los Angeles stretched out below them. 

“The elevator’s locked,” Amenadiel said apologetically.  “I had to fly up.”

“Right,” Chloe said.  “Of course.”  This, she could take in stride. 

She stepped aside to allow Amenadiel entry, closing and locking the door again after he stepped inside. 

His eyes glanced over towards the bed and Lucifer’s sleeping form.  His voice, when he continued, was considerately quiet.

“Trixie’s at home with Linda.   Maze told us what happened.  We weren’t able to get a hold of you.  I went by your apartment first – when I found it empty, I hoped you’d come here.  Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” She said quickly, a small, worried knot of tension unwinding at this confirmation that Trixie had been delivered to Linda safely.   “My phone is a bit broken at the moment, though.”

Amenadiel withdrew and offered up his phone.   Chloe felt a professional horror at seeing that Amenadiel didn’t have even a basic password lock on the device.  

“I’m supposed to call them as soon as I find you.  Would you rather do the honors?”

“Please, yes,” Chloe said, taking the phone gratefully.  She found Linda on the short contact list quickly and dialed, unlocking the balcony again and stepping outside.

“Amenadiel, did you find her?” Linda asked, picking up after the first ring. 

“Hi Linda, it’s me,” Chloe rushed to assure her.  “I’m sorry – my phone got smashed.  Is Trixie okay?”

“Oh, thank – someone.”  Chloe could hear Linda move the phone away from her mouth a bit and say: “Trixie, would you like to talk to your mother?”

A rustle as the phone moved from hand to hand, and then her daughter was on the line.

“Mom?” 

“Hey Monkey,” Chloe said, the knot untying even further. 

“What happened?”  Trixie demanded, her voice bleeding frustration.   “Maze came back hurt and she wouldn’t tell me who or what was in the apartment, and you stayed behind, and everyone is being weird about it.”

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.  I promise I’ll explain later,” Chloe said, wondering how on Earth she was going to do so.  Her mind flashed back to the state of the apartment, and she winced.

“Is this about Lucifer?” Trixie said, voice dark with suspicion, and Chloe’s heart skipped a beat.

“What makes you say that?” 

A huff of an irritated sigh on the other end of the line.

Amenadiel hovered in the doorway of the balcony, and he gave her a sympathetic look when she glanced over.

“Have you met baby Charlie yet?” Chloe asked, hoping to derail the current topic at least for now.

A pause followed, and Chloe could read her daughter’s annoyance in it before the girl capitulated.

“Yeah.  He pulled my hair, but he’s still pretty cute.”

“He is, isn’t he.  And you’re behaving for Linda?”

“Yes, Mom.”

Oh, there was definitely a storm brewing there. 

“I love you, Monkey,” Chloe told her, knowing her irritation was brought on by fear and concern.

Another pause.

“Mom, are you okay?” 

“I’m okay,” Chloe reassured her.  “I might need you to stay with Linda tonight, though.”  She looked at Amenadiel as she said this, and he gave an easy, agreeable nod.

“Why?  What’s going on?”

“I have a friend that I think really needs me right now, and… it’s a little complicated, sweetheart, but I promise – I’m okay.”

Trixie made a small, uncertain sound.   “Do I still need to go to school tomorrow?”

“You do, babe, yeah,” Chloe said.

“I need my backpack, then.  Can I come get it?”

“Is it not in the…?  Car… that I drove here,” Chloe said, very, very belatedly putting pieces together.   She’d been so distracted with Lucifer that she hadn’t thought twice about Maze leaving her unlocked car behind, the keys tucked into the sun visor.   “Trixie, did Maze drive you on her motorcycle while she had a broken arm?”

“Maze is a badass, Mom.” 

Chloe was certain that Trixie was quoting the woman herself.

“Dad took her to the hospital,” Trixie continued.  “I told her if she’s getting a cast that she’d better pick a cool color.”

Dan took her there?” Chloe asked, eyebrows bouncing in surprise.

Amenadiel nodded, a brief, proud look crossing his face.  

“Hang on, Mom; Linda wants to talk to you.”

Another rustle as the phone transferred hands again.  Away from the speaker but still quietly audible, Linda told Trixie that she needed to talk to her mother privately for a moment.  Trixie made a disgruntled noise but, then, footsteps and a door closing.

“Chloe?  Are you with Lucifer?”

“We’re at Lux, yeah,” Chloe said, shooting a look back through the balcony doors towards the bed.   The black gossamer curtains obscured the view but she was sure the Lucifer lump hadn’t moved.

“May I speak with him?”

“I think he’s still sleeping.  One sec,” Chloe said.  Amenadiel stepped aside to let her pass and drifted behind her.  They both regarded Lucifer.   Against his dark sheets, his pale skin looked almost white.  He’d shifted in his sleep - the blanket had fallen off his shoulder and his arm had escaped, stretching out along the bed.

He lay as still as a statue and it hit the uncanny valley part of her brain.   Almost a person but, subtly, not.   The thought made a tight, painful lump form in her throat.   What had happened to him?

She brushed past Amenadiel again, heading back to the balcony.   This time, the other angel lingered behind, observing Lucifer.

Chloe cleared her throat once, twice, trying to push the grief down.

“He’s still sleeping,” She confirmed to Linda.  “I… don’t really want to wake him up.  He really seemed exhausted.   Or do you think it’s better if he talks to you?   I don’t…”  She pressed her fingers to her eyes.   “I don’t know what to do,” She said quietly, her hand dropping to her mouth and pressing it against her lips to keep any other confessions slipping out.   The admission made her feel vulnerable, small.

“Maze said he didn’t recognize her,” Linda prompted.  “But you’ve gotten him over to Lux.  I’m assuming something changed after Maze left?”

Chloe pulled on her bottom lip with her fingers, looking for the right words to explain.

“He was confused – like he didn’t know where he was.  I can’t guess at what he was thinking.   When he stopped it was… it was like the lights were slowly turning back on.”

Chloe swallowed.

“He’s… Oh Linda, he’s…”  Chloe bit her lip and shut that spiraling panic down.  This wasn’t about her.  She squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, her hand drifting further down and pressing a fist against her stomach.  She felt shaky. 

“He was surprised, when he learned that he’d only been gone four days.  It was clearly a lot longer for him, in… it was longer for him,” She said. 

“Time moves differently in Hell,” Linda said gently.  “I’m so sorry, Chloe; I didn’t realize you didn’t know that.” 

Chloe pressed her fist against her middle harder.

“I’ve been afraid to ask,” She admitted.  “I’ve been… just, pretending.  I’ve been pretending that even though he had to go back there, he would be okay.”   Her next breath was ragged.   “He’s not okay.”

Linda made a kind, humming noise.   A therapist ‘I’m listening’ noise.

Chloe couldn’t think of what to say, though.  She couldn’t say how it had felt to see him attacking Maze, as vicious and mindless as an animal.  How it had felt when she heard him throwing up in the shower.  His coldness, his physical changes, the way he reacted when he’d learned that only a few days had passed – Lucifer was not okay, and Chloe felt so out of her depth that it was laughable.

 She looked out at Los Angeles and remembered her fantasies of standing here with him, trying to erase that horrible moment when he’d said goodbye to her.  Lucifer would wander out, a tumbler of something sinfully old and alcoholic in hand, and he’d wrap his other arm around her.  He’d nuzzle into her hair and kiss her neck, and they’d watch the sunset, or the rain, or the stars.  She would lean back against the long, warm line of his body, and…

And thinking about those ‘what if’s now made her feel sick with grief. 

She remembered the feel of Lucifer’s bare chest under her fingers, when she had pressed guiltily against the slowly weeping wound she’d made with an axe blade.  His skin had been soft and so very warm.  His heart had beat under her hand like a drum – strong and steady; a deep and primal vibration.  Her hand had lingered there even after the shallow cut had eventually stopped bleeding.  Lucifer hadn’t made a move to push her away.  She made him vulnerable, and she had been convinced more by the yearning, tender way he’d looked at her than by the wound under her fingertips.

Now, Chloe had an injury on her shoulder, bandaged and treated and hidden under her shirt.  She’d taken a look at the throbbing spot while Lucifer had been in the shower.   The place where her shoulder had been touching him, when she’d stepped between him and Maze, was red and taut and stinging.  Frostbitten, although thankfully not to any advanced degree. 

The Lucifer that had returned to her wasn’t the one that had left.  Not by a long shot.

Lucifer was so damaged and changed, and Chloe knew it was her fault.  It was her fault that he was like this – her, and her stupid reaction after seeing his face, and all of the dominos that had inexorably fallen afterwards.   None of it should have happened. 

“Chloe, do you feel safe to stay with him?”  Linda asked, and Chloe frowned, pulling herself back from her thoughts.   She glanced towards the elevator.

“I don’t think any possessed people would be able to get through the locks he’s added.  They’re pretty heavy-duty.”

“That’s… not what I meant, Chloe, although I’m glad he’s taking security seriously, finally.”

“I… you mean, do I feel safe with him,” Chloe said slowly, understanding.  The lump in her throat felt hard and painful, pressing up under her jaw, her glottis rebelling.  Chloe felt like she was digging a bruise into her stomach with her fist and she made herself stop.   It wasn’t helping the queasy feeling anyway.

“Chloe, I know that this is a hard question.  I know it is.  But if you don’t feel safe there, please leave.  Let Amenadiel take you here.   It won’t do Lucifer any favors if he gets confused again and hurts you by accident.”

“I’m fine,” Chloe said, more sharply than she’d meant to.  She took a breath and let it out on a long count of five.   “I’m fine,” She repeated, more measuredly.   “I don’t want to leave.”

Linda made another ‘hmm’ sound.    “Okay, Chloe, I trust your judgement.  I do want you to hang onto Amenadiel’s phone, though, at least until you get yours replaced.  When Lucifer wakes up, if he’s up to it, I’d like to talk to him.  And in either case, you should be able to contact me if you need me, or if Trixie needs you.   Sound good?”

Chloe sighed.

“Sounds good,” She agreed. 

“Does Trixie have any special dietary needs, or medication, or anything else I should know about?”

Chloe felt a warm spasm of affection for the other woman. 

“‘No’ on the medication.  She’s allergic to mangos but she’ll eat just about anything you put in front of her.   Thank you, Linda.  Thank you.” 

“Oh I’m fully planning to use you for babysitting duty in exchange at some point.  It’s going to happen, Chloe.  Brace for it,” Linda teased.  There was still a thread of tension in the light-hearted tone, but it was easy to ignore it.

“I’ll work out the logistics,” Chloe said.  “Maybe see if Dan can take Trixie to school in the morning, or let you know if we… if I can come by and pick her up.   I’ll let you know.”

A pause on the other end of the line, and Chloe knew Linda had caught that language change excluding Lucifer.

Thankfully, the therapist didn’t pursue it.

“Sounds good, Chloe.   And please.  Call if you need anything, okay?”

“Okay,” Chloe agreed gratefully. 

They exchanged goodbyes and hung up.

Chloe slid Amenadiel’s phone into her back pocket and, for a moment, braced her hands on the balcony railing and let the wind play along her skin.  She took a breath.  And another.

When she walked back inside, she felt steadier.

Amenadiel was still watching Lucifer, his solemn face set in a concerned frown.  He looked over at Chloe when she locked the balcony door again. 

Chloe smoothed back her wind-tussled hair. 

“So I talked to Linda,” Chloe said, still keeping her voice low so as to not wake the sleeping angel.  Amenadiel padded away from the bed and, by mutual unspoken agreement, they drifted towards Lucifer’s library on the other side of the penthouse.

“I’m going to hang onto your phone tonight, if that’s okay?”  She asked.

Amenadiel nodded.

“Of course, yes.  Makes sense.”

Amenadiel studied her face, his dark eyes kind and compassionate.  He put his hand on her shoulder – her un-damaged one, fortunately – and the warmth of his hand was a comfort.

“Are you alright, Chloe?”  He asked.

Chloe’s lips trembled, and she bit them until she felt in control enough to respond.   She glanced towards the bed.

“I’m worried about him.   Is it always like this?  He’s… he’s come back from,” She swallowed and made herself say it.  “From Hell.  Before.   I know he’s visited Earth before settling in LA.  He’s been like this before, right?”

Amenadiel’s expression answered her, and Chloe’s heart clenched. 

“Nevermind,” She said quickly.   If Amenadiel didn’t say it, it didn’t have to be true.   She pressed her hands tightly together and brought them up to her lips, thinking.

“Okay.  Okay, Trixie needs her backpack.  She’s probably got homework she needs to do for tomorrow,” Chloe said, latching onto something that she could actually take care of.  “Will you take it back to her?  Oh.  I’m not sure how a backpack would work with wings.”  She frowned at the breadth of Amenadiel’s shoulders.

His mouth twitched like was trying not to smile.

“I can just carry it,” He offered gently, and Chloe closed her eyes at own her frazzled stupidity.

She looked over at Lucifer.  He seemed well and truly out of it but she didn’t want to risk him waking up alone. 

She found paper and a pen in the desk in his library and jotted out a quick note.   Was Amenadiel spelled with an ‘iel’ or an ‘eal’?   She settled on writing: With Amen.  Be back shortly.

She walked to the bed and left the note next to his outstretched hand.   Her fingers hovered over his hair – wanting to pet, but not wanting to wake him.  She drew her hand back.

“Shall we?” She asked Amenadiel, pressing the button to summon the elevator. 

Her heart gave a small, tiny protest when the doors slid shut on her view of the penthouse.  Anxiety, she realized, at letting Lucifer out of her sight.  Chloe forced herself to stop.   She pushed the button for the parking level.

“So Dan took Maze to the hospital?” She asked, and Amenadiel made a pleased, agreeing sound.

“We spent the afternoon surfing,” He said, and Chloe huffed a surprised laugh.  Amenadiel’s smile widened.   “We talked,” He continued.  “And I believe he’s made peace with,” He flicked his fingers in an encompassing gesture, “With the concept of divinity.  I explained that I may be an angel but I’m still the person that he knew.   That the same applied to my brother and to Maze.  When Maze showed up, he volunteered to take her to the hospital.”

“He volunteered?” Chloe repeated.  Doubt was a sly little creature with fangs, and as much as Chloe wanted to think the best of Dan, she knew him too well.  She really hoped Maze was okay.  She would call her, Chloe decided, as soon as she got back upstairs.

The elevator door opened and they stepped out.  Chloe pushed doubt aside for now and led Amenadiel to her cruiser.  Next to Lucifer’s shiny corvette, her car looked shabby and cheap.  She thumbed the fob and the taillights flashed, heard the audible click of the doors unlocking.

Sure enough, Trixie’s brightly-colored backpack sat in the back seat. 

“Did he ask you about Charlotte?” Chloe asked over her shoulder, zipping the backpack all of the way closed as she pulled it out.   Trixie did have a terrible habit of leaving the top open.

“Not explicitly,” Amenadiel said, accepting the backpack as she handed it over.  He frowned.  “I think talking about her death is still too painful for him.  But hopefully, now that he knows she’ll be waiting for him in Heaven, it will help heal his heart.”

“Fingers crossed,” Chloe said.  “It’s really been eating at him.  I keep hoping he’ll see someone –”

“Oh, Linda’s seeing him,” Amenadiel said.  A guilty pause followed.  “Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that.”

“Really now, Dr. Canaan.  You should know about patient confidentiality,” Chloe said, and the pained look on his face intensified.  Chloe brushed her bangs back.  “That’s good, though.  I think she’s really helped Lucifer over the years and, wow, if that’s not a testament to her skills, I don’t know what is.”

“She’s amazing,” Amenadiel agreed, features softening with obvious fondness.  They headed back to the elevator.  “I’ll follow you up; leave from the balcony,” Amenadiel said, joining her.   At her curious look, he added: “Easier to take off from a height.  Also, fewer witnesses, if anyone looks up when I’m between wingbeats.”

“When you’re… what?”

Amenadiel cocked his head at her.

“It’s not really linear flight, you know.  Not like a bird flies.  Or a plane, for that matter.”

Chloe continued to look at him blankly.  He inhaled to explain and Chloe held up a hand to stop him.

“Nope,” She said.  “Not today.  My brain needs a break.”

His answering smile was twinkling with mischief and, for a moment, Chloe could easily see the sibling familiarity with Lucifer.

It made some of the weight lift.  Amenadiel wasn’t panicking over Lucifer.  There was concern, of course.  But it wasn’t panic.  

He wrapped a strap of the backpack more firmly around his wrist as the elevator ‘dinged’ and the doors slid open.

“I’ll tell Trixie…” Amenadiel trailed off as he stepped out into the penthouse.

Chloe followed, heart sinking, as they both looked through the open doorway of his bedroom and at the empty bed.

Chloe dashed into the apartment. 

“Lucifer?” She called, trying to keep her voice measured.   Maybe he was in the shower.  Or the kitchen. 

“Lucifer?” She repeated, less measured.  Maybe he was in his walk-in closet, changing out of his borrowed clothes.  No luck.  Maybe he’d gone down to the nightclub?

“Chloe,” Amenadiel’s voice called her back to the main body of his penthouse.   He stood in the doorway to the balcony and, dread slowing her steps, she joined him.   The door to the balcony was open wide.

The balcony floor and glass railing were covered in ash.  

Lucifer was gone.

 

~*~

 

Mazikeen zipped through traffic with her teeth firmly grit against the pain in her arm.   Trixie’s small arms were wrapped around her middle.  She could feel the little girl’s heart beating, as tightly as she had her chest pressed to Maze’s back.  The chin of the motorcycle helmet dug into her shoulders.

Maze could smell the fear in Trixie’s sweat, and it made her clench her teeth harder, drive faster. 

They hit the highway and Trixie took advantage of the brief pause in fast turns to blurt out her questions.

“Maze, please, what happened?  Why isn’t Mom coming with us?”

“Keep holding tight,” Maze barked back. 

Her skin throbbed where Lucifer had grabbed her.  She could feel the burns he’d left behind, the cracked ribs, the bruises. 

The cold way he’d stared through her, devoid of recognition, devoid of any thought other than her destruction – it had left her with a sick, squirming feeling that went deeper than the physical injuries.

Mazikeen was not used to feeling intimated by anyone.  Not even by Lucifer.  Not since coming to Earth.

The way he had made her feel… Mazikeen hadn’t felt that small in his presence since his early days establishing dominion over the denizens of Hell.  Even then, though, he had been powerful and passionate and had charmed as much as he’d commanded.  A ruler that Maze had had no problem pledging her loyalty to – not the cold, singularly destructive thing that had attacked her in Chloe’s apartment. 

Beneath the ash, he had reeked of demon blood.   The way it painted his skin, that had not been the aftermath of a single fight or a skirmish.  He had been covered in the stuff. 

Maze snarled as she swerved around a jackass in a pickup truck turning into her lane.  If her other arm hadn’t been broken, he’d’ve been getting a finger salute for that for sure.

Trixie’s grip tightened further.

“We’re almost there,” Maze shouted over the wind.  “Hang on, little human.”

“You drive like a crazy person!”  Trixie shouted back, muffled by the slightly-too-large helmet she was borrowing. 

“I will have you know I’m a badass, and this is nothing!” Maze retorted, accelerating even more to keep the human distracted.  To keep herself distracted, too, for all that it wasn’t really working.

What had happened to Lucifer?  

The blood on his skin had been old, covered in layers of ash.  His nails had been ragged; his beard and hair grown and unkempt.   Lucifer had always been prissy and fastidiously clean.  She had seen him depressed before - the plague years in Europe sprang readily to mind.   Even at his worst, though, he’d never been like this.

What had happened?

Mazikeen turned the motorcycle down a cul-de-sac and brought it to a stop in front of Linda’s home.  Trixie jerkily unwrapped herself from Maze, sliding off the bike and onto trembling legs.  Maze slid off the bike behind her, ruffling her fingers through the already disarrayed hair revealed when Trixie took off the helmet.

Maze took the helmet from her and dropped it on the seat.

“Come on,” Maze said, hoping to get the little human moving before she could ask about her arm.  Trixie was staring at the broken, limp limb with obvious concern.  “I’m fine,” Maze said.

“You’re not fine,” Trixie disagreed, shaking her head, but she followed Maze up the walkway without protest.

“It’s just a broken arm,” Maze shrugged it off, knocking on the front door with a heavy fist.   “I’ll deal with it in a minute.”  A couple of seconds passed so she pounded on the door again.

The door opened on Amenadiel’s familiar scowl.

“You woke the baby,” He said.  His chastising expression morphed into surprise and concern as he took in Trixie’s presence and Maze’s arm.

“What happened?” He asked.

“Trixie?” Dan asked, popping his head around Amenadiel’s shoulder.

“Oh, good, you’re here,” Maze said, thick with sarcasm. 

“What is – oh, Maze, hello – goodness, what’s happened?” Linda said, bringing herself and a crying Charlie into view of the open doorway.

This was starting to feel like a farce and Maze, stressed and in pain and upset, had no patience for it.  She snarled at them; a low, loud, inhuman growl that made Linda and Dan take a step back – and, oddly, made Trixie take a step closer.  Her small hand touched Maze’s hip.

“Trixie,” Amenadiel said, unshaken by her display of temper.  “Why don’t you take Charlie and settle him down in his crib, okay?”

Trixie withdrew her hand, shooting Amenadiel a canny look.  “You’re trying to get me out of the way so you can talk.  I want to know what’s happening,” She said to Maze.  “Who was in the apartment?  Why did we leave Mom behind?”

“Little human,” Maze said.  “Your mother asked me to take you here.”

“Okay, and who was in the apartment?” She returned hotly.  “Was it Lucifer?”

Maze stared down at her, and Trixie fiercely stared back.  Maze shook her head.   Not now; I’ll tell you later, she implied.  Trixie huffed an angry breath and pushed her way past Amenadiel.   Maze watched her go, watched the relieved sag in Dan and Amenadiel’s shoulders as she squared up with Linda.

The therapist gave Maze a long look over Trixie’s head as she led the little girl out of the room and to the nursery.

Honestly.   They all underestimated Trixie, and Maze was sure Trixie would make them regret it sooner rather than later. 

Was it Lucifer?” Amenadiel asked quietly.

She nodded.

“He’s… He didn’t recognize me.   He recognized Chloe, though.  You should get to the apartment.  I don’t think he’s followed another demon up or what the deal is, but…” She shrugged her dangling arm.  “I’m not going to be useful in a fight for a bit.”

“Did Lucifer do that?” Dan asked.   She bared her teeth at him again and he held up both of his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Did Lucifer do that?” Amenadiel repeated, same tone, same inflection, and she nodded.  Dan rolled his eyes.

 “We fought,” Maze said.  “I don’t think he knew it was me; not at first.  Chloe managed to get through to him, but… Amenadiel, you should get to her apartment.”   She made a frustrated noise, hefting her arm again.  Transverse fracture, probably.  “Can you splint this?”

Amenadiel gave her an incredulous look. 

“Useless,” She muttered. “Linda!  I could use some doctoring.”

“I’m not that kind of doctor,” Linda said firmly.  She closed the nursery door, leaving Trixie and Charlie on the other side.  “Oh dear,” Linda commented, finally getting an unobstructed look at her.  Maze firmed her spine, bristling.  She was one limb down – she wasn’t weak. 

“It’s not that bad,” She insisted.

“You should go to a hospital!” Linda chided.  “Are those…?”  She approached and hovered her hand carefully out above Maze’s skin.

Inside the well-lit living room, the dark handprints burnt onto her wrist and arm were obvious and well-defined, each finger outlined in waxy-looking skin.  Her wrist, where Lucifer had grabbed and held her for long minutes until Chloe talked him down, was especially bad. 

“Maze, that looks like frostbite,” Linda said, sucking her teeth in a distressed, nervous fidget.   Her hair was pulled up in a messy chignon and she tucked escaping strands back behind her ears.

“I can take her to the hospital,” Dan said.

Maze met his eyes, surprised.  He gave her a steady look back.

Ah.

He wanted to talk to her, alone. 

Maze smiled sweetly at him.  “My hero,” She said, saccharine and breathy, batting her eyes like she was luring in a gullible mark.  Dan swallowed, looking away, but he set his jaw.   He was serious about this, then. 

“Fine,” Maze said, the word bitten and hard.  “Let’s go do that then.  Linda, you good here?”

“Should I not be?” Linda asked.  “You don’t think anyone would be coming after Charlie again, do you?” 

“No, I don’t think so,” Maze dismissed it.  Whatever the hell was going on, Lucifer had been alone in that apartment.  She was sure of that. 

“So what happened, exactly?” Linda asked.  Maze turned and stomped back outside.  Amenadiel could fill her in.

Dan followed Maze out.

He was silent as they got into his car.   Maze didn’t feel particularly compelled to invite him to say whatever it was he was chewing on.  Perhaps more criticisms of her character or demands that she not see Trixie.  Perhaps an apology for his dickish behavior earlier.

Maze didn’t want to hear it.    

She turned her wrist over in her lap.   The fingerprints throbbed and ached in a strange, almost-numb sort of way. 

“I want to ask you something,” Dan said. 

“Amenadiel didn’t answer your ‘oh, divinity is real’ questions?  It looked like you spent the day with him.”

Dan shifted in the seat, a flicker of irritation crossing his face as a car pulled out in front of them, close enough that he had to tap the brakes to keep room between them.   The jolt of inertia sent pain through her broken arm.   She shifted the limb into her lap to take weight off the bone.

He inhaled, blew the breath out through his nose as he lost his nerve.   Inhaled again.

“What is waiting for me in Hell?”  He bit out.   Maze could hear the false bravado; the fear.

“Look, just -” Dan’s grip on the steering wheel tightened.  “Just tell me.  Just tell me what I can expect.”

“Do you think it’ll make it easier if you know?” Maze asked.  She eyed him – from the tense set of his jaw to the faint sheen of sweat at his temples.   She leaned closer to him.

“You’ll fall.  That’s how you lot end up there; you fall.  Can you picture it?  All those little human souls tumbling through the veil and landing in the pit.  Once you pick yourself up, perhaps you’ll wander for a while.  Most find their doors quickly, though.”

“Doors?”

“Your personalized piece of Hell,” Maze said, smile still fixed.  “A loop of your own personalized torture.  Hell knows exactly how to hurt you the most.  Not your biggest fear – not necessarily your worst moment, even.   You will live out the worst punishment you can think up for yourself, forever.”

He swallowed, eyes fixed forward.

“And what do you do?” He said, sneering the word ‘you’ like an insult.  You, as in demons, he implied.

Maze pressed her temple against his shoulder, like a girlfriend snuggling close.   He cringed away from her.   She pressed closer.

“To you?   Whatever we want,” She said.  “You’ve got a bit of a masochistic streak.  It’s delicious.  I’m sure you’ll catch a demonic eye quickly.”   She licked her lips.

“And what about… Lucifer?”

Maze settled back into her side of the car, giving him another appraising once-over.

“That’s right,” She said.  “You’ve been quite the asshole to him, haven’t you?”

A sharp breath out through his teeth.  He swallowed again.

“Yeah,” He said quietly, not challenging her.  “Yeah, I have.”   He looked at the arm she had cradled in her lap.   “What about you?”

“Oh, this?”  Maze lifted the arm, watching Dan wince when she didn’t react to it drooping at the break point, creating an unnatural angle.  She returned it to her lap.  “This is nothing.   You should have seen him in the early days.  Ruthless.  Merciless.  There’s a reason I swore my loyalty to him.”

It was true, to an extent. 

It wasn’t nothing, though.  Maze had been deeply unsettled – was still deeply unsettled – by the way Lucifer had attacked her.

Something was wrong with him.  Very, very wrong.

Lucifer wasn’t her responsibility anymore.  He’d released her from her vows and in her years on Earth she’d grown and changed enough to appreciate that freedom, even if his dismissal had hurt at the time.

He wasn’t her responsibility.  He had attacked her.

And yet. 

And yet Mazikeen couldn’t help but be worried.  Eons serving at someone’s side would do that to you, she supposed.  

The hospital loomed ahead.   Dan pulled up to the emergency entrance, in a pull-off away from ambulance traffic, and put the car into park.

Dan still hadn’t looked over at her, and Maze let herself really imagine it:  Dan, in Hell.  

He was certainly heading there.  His desire for punishment was barely contained – hell, he’d tried to use Maze quite recently to punish himself, goading her into blows until she’d had Lux security drag him out.

She imagined him in a Hell loop.  The details she couldn’t guess at – humans were remarkably creative in that regard.  No two loops quite the same.  But the framework didn’t really matter.  She imagined him suffering.  Tortured.  Bleeding under a demonic knife or whip when one of her siblings realized what a tasty treat he presented.

The thought settled like lead in her stomach.  

Maze fumbled the door open with her left hand and pushed herself out of the car.  Out of the confined space, away from his scrutiny, her hand lingered on the door frame.

She bent back down.

“Whatever it is that you’re so worried about with Lucifer… forget it.  Lucifer is good at moving on.”

He gave her an incredulous look.

“Well,” She amended.  “With the little stuff, at least.  If he understands your motivation, he tends not to hold it against you.  S’why he and his ineffable father don’t get along.  And it’s why he’s never held my betrayals against me.  He knew why I was doing it.  And Dan,” She bent closer still. “If even I can figure out what’s going on with you, trust me - nothing you’ve been doing has been particularly deep.”

She withdrew and closed the door before he could reply.

An ambulance pulled in front of Dan’s car and she used the cover it provided to get out of his line of sight, uncomfortable with her gesture of kindness, uncomfortable with the conversation and the thoughts it had churned up.

She didn’t want to see Dan in Hell.

She - a demon, the most lauded torturer in Hell - was discomfited by the idea that Dan could easily have been any other human soul under her knife.

Mazikeen cringed at the realization.  Her time on Earth had changed her. 

She followed a rushed gurney in through the wide entrance doors.  The hospital was brightly lit.  The white tiles gleamed and smelled of disinfectant, and under it she could smell blood and bile and illness.  A faint miasma of suffering rolled off of the humans waiting in triage in plastic chairs, some visibly in worse shape than others.

A petite woman with long dark hair caught Maze’s eye.  It wasn’t Eve, of course, but the physical similarities brought Eve into Maze’s thoughts regardless.  Maze turned away and approached the reception desk.

“What seems to be the trouble?” The scrub-clad, tired-looking nurse asked.

I’m consistently taken for granted, Maze thought bitterly.   I’ve been giving more that I’ve been getting and it’s making me feel tired in a way I haven’t felt in all the long years of my existence.   I thought I was finding my feet again after getting my heart ripped out, and then bam, had it thrown in my face all over again that I may have known him longer and served him better, but Lucifer will always care about Chloe more than me.  I have never been loved and it’s really starting to hurt.

“Broken arm,” Maze said.   “Frostbite.  Busted ribs.  Internal bleeding.”

Maze received a slightly raised eyebrow and a stack of papers to fill out in reply to that.  She skimmed through the sheaf.  Name, address, insurance info, and on it went.  She grabbed the clipboard and pen and found a spot in the waiting area where she could prop up her broken arm and fill in the forms.

She glanced up from dotting the I’s on “Mazikeen Smith” when Dan walked into the hospital.  He scanned the waiting area and, seeing her, made his way over and sat – close, but keeping an empty seat between them.  She wasn’t sure if it was intended as breathing room for her or for him.

“Why are you here?” She snapped when a moment passed and he continued to just… sit there, legs stretched out and crossed in front of him, staring at his shoes.

He frowned and glanced over at her.

“I just had to go park the car.  Hospitals tend to drag their feet about releasing people if they don’t have someone to take them home.  Figured you wouldn’t want to linger after you got seen to.”

She scowled.

“Not what I meant,” She said.

Dan’s eyes lingered on the bruises developing around her snapped humerus.   He looked away.

“I’ve been dinged up on duty, or had partners dinged up, often enough to know the drill,” He said.

It wasn’t really an answer to her question: why Dan was choosing to be here with her.

It was on the tip of her tongue to say it – words as sharp and cutting as a lash, intending to make him respond or drive him away – but she swallowed them back.

The girl who wasn’t Eve was called up next.  Her… boyfriend?  Husband?  Friend? … helped her hop up to the front.  A dislocated hip, it looked like.  Painful, but not maiming.   Her long, dark, curly hair bounced as she went.

Dan watched her progress, too.  And he watched Maze watching her. 

Maze went back to her paperwork.   Between Hell and running Lux, bureaucracy was nothing new to her and she had the forms filled out in short order.  She hooked the pen to the papers and handed the clipboard over to Dan.  He took it up to the front desk without protest or comment, speaking briefly to the nurse collecting the information before wending his way back to his seat.

“She thinks they’ll be able to get to you pretty soon.”

Maze nodded, accepting the information.

Silence lapsed between them again.

“It’s guilt,” Maze said.  Dan raised a curious brow at her and she exhaled.

“Guilt is what drags a human soul down into Hell.  Guilt and a belief that you deserve punishment.   Deal with your guilt, Dan.   Talk to Linda or find a dom or, I don’t know, become a philanthropist or something.  Drop your guilt.  You don’t want to end up in Hell.”

“I’ve been talking to Linda,” He said quietly.  “But I…”  He exhaled.

She squinted at him.

“If you need me to recommend a dom, I can hook you up.  It probably shouldn’t be me – my arm’s going to be healing for a while.   But, here now, let’s see,” She pulled out her phone and started scrolling through her contacts.

“No,” He choked on a laugh.  “No, thank you.  No.”

Maze frowned at the laughter.  It had been a serious offer.  And who knew?  Maybe spending some time tied up and getting spanked was exactly what Dan needed.   She found a couple of promising matches and forwarded the contact info to Dan’s phone.

He buried his face in his hands as his phone, in his pocket, audibly chimed with the receipt.

A few more breathy sounds of mirth, and his humor faded away.  She studied him.  He was getting older.  Lines around his eyes.  Small changes to the shape of his face, to the weathered patterns on his hands.  He wasn’t quite the same person he had been that day Maze had knocked him out and carried him, naked, from Lux and dropped him in Chloe’s home like an offering.

He was mortal.  He would die – possibly fairly soon, if he kept picking fights above his paygrade.

“What if I belong in Hell, Maze?” He asked, scrubbing a palm over his mouth, wiping away the last of his smile.  “I’ve done… things.”

She scoffed.

“Hell doesn’t care about the content of the crime.  Just how you feel about it.  So I’m telling you – get over it.”

Again, that twisting little feeling inside.  That sense of disloyalty, even as she didn’t regret her words.

“Mazzy-ken Smith,” The intercom pronounced - a mangled pronunciation but close enough that they both looked over.   The nurse at the desk gave them a ‘yes, you, come here’ sort of gesture.

“I’ll be here when you get back,” Dan said.  He settled into the chair, pulling out his phone.  Maybe to follow up on the contacts Maze had sent him.  Maybe to play a game.  In either case, he looked sincere in his intent to just… sit and wait for her.

Maze cocked her head at him.

“You don’t need to stay, you know,” She said.

“I know,” He said, tapping on his phone.   He didn’t look up as she walked by up to the reception. 

He was still there, though, when she glanced back before being led into the hospital proper.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer wasn’t sure what woke him, exactly.  He vaguely tracked the murmur of two different voices; both trusted at some level deep enough not to disturb him.

Perhaps it was the ‘ding’ of the elevator, or the silence that followed as the voices went away.

He opened his eyes. 

He was on his stomach, splayed out on familiar silk sheets.  He stretched, feeling his cold muscles creak and flex.  He pushed himself up, glancing down curiously as something crinkled by his hand.  Settling back on his haunches he picked up and read the note.   Chloe’s handwriting, definitely.  Amen?  Oh - Amenadiel.   The note said that Chloe was with Amenadiel. 

His fuzzy thoughts blurred with confusion as he looked at the paper.  Why would his Hell loop manifest such a thing?

Lucifer glanced around at the penthouse.   How long had he been sleeping?   He frowned, trying to remember why he’d decided to sleep here instead of his throne.

In the loop framework, it was nighttime in Los Angeles.  Lucifer had always enjoyed cities at night, especially when viewed from any sort of height.   Hillsides and mountains and rooftops, looking down at the flickering glow of torches as humans tried to assert themselves over the darkness.   Later, multistoried buildings and skyscrapers and clever little electric lights.  Lucifer wondered what the humans would think of next, and if it would show up in a loop at some point. 

He slid his legs forward and propelled himself out of bed, intending to go to the balcony to look down at this image of LA for a moment before heading back out into the rest of Hell.

The shift and slide of cheap clothes against his body caught his attention.  He looked down at what he was wearing, frowning in confusion at the t-shirt and sweatpants.   He plucked at the front of the shirt.

Memory flooded back.

Lucifer released the air in his lungs in a rasping exhale.  The small, shocked sound seemed to echo in the empty room.  He looked around at his penthouse again with too many emotions snarling around inside of him to hope to untangle. 

He was on Earth.  Why was he…? 

Right, that was right, Hell had sent him after…

Where was Chloe?  

Panic sent a hot flare through his thoughts, clearing the fog.   His chest tightened oddly, and he thought his heart might have skipped a beat if it wasn’t in stasis.

Wait – no, the note.  He picked up and reread the note.  Chloe was with Amenadiel and would be back soon.

The tight feeling didn’t abate, exactly, but the space from worrying about Chloe let him instead worry about Hell.

He had to get back to Hell, even if it was just for a moment to check in and see what was wrong. 

Lucifer stepped out onto the balcony and spread his wings.  Ash and dried blood shook loose from his feathers immediately, spreading out over his balcony.  He curled his lip in disgust.  His wings itched and prickled; feathers pulled askew by the blood splattered across them.   He shook them out, which didn’t really help the itchy feeling but definitely made more of a mess.

He closed his eyes.  He stretched his wings and pulled, trying to slide between the dimensions and back to Hell.

The barrier rejected him, and Lucifer tried to grab and scrabble at it with his hands.  There was no grip – the barrier completely smooth and not physical enough to break with force.

He returned to the balcony with a huff.

Maybe it was just where he was trying to enter?  There must be a weak spot.   Someplace he’d come through before – but, no, because Hell hadn’t let him return from Chloe’s apartment.

Maybe, then, someplace he’d made a larger hole.

He thought of the beach where he’d emerged with Mazikeen.   There had been something more substantial about that transition, likely because Mazikeen had been a demon – a bit of Hell itself that Lucifer had taken out.

He spread his wings again, pausing only to glance back inside.  

With Amenadiel, she’d written.  Or, well, ‘with Amen,’ but the statement was clear.   Lucifer could afford a moment to try and get to the bottom of this.

He opened his wings and took off, arriving at the beach in moments as he bent physical reality around himself. 

The spot he’d pushed through with Maze was a blank stretch of sand in miles of similar blank stretches of sand, and yet he knew he’d found the right place without question.  He’d cut his wings off, here.   He’d burnt them and quarreled with Amenadiel just over there. 

Lucifer stretched his wings and pulled himself down, searching for some remnant of the hole he’d made when he’d taken Mazikeen out.

There

His fingers skittered over the edge of the porous divot – barely enough of an opening to grasp and certainly not large enough to fit through.  His wings flared and flexed, holding him in that in-between state as he got his other hand on the edge and started to pry the pore open. 

Hell snapped it closed sharply enough to sting his fingers.

Lucifer bounced back to Earth, stunned.

Hell…

Lucifer looked out at the dark, churning ocean. 

Hell had shut him out.  It hadn’t made a mistake.   Pieces tumbled into place.

Hell had lured him to Earth and closed the door behind him.  The barrier was closed.

“Why?” He asked no one, a breathy, confused syllable lost under the sound of the waves and the wind.

Lucifer raked his hands through his long hair, grimacing as the curls snagged his smarting fingers, on his ring, on the bandages wrapped around his hands.  He flexed his wings a bit in irritation and, all at once, the itchy weight of filth clinging to his feathers was maddening.

He stomped across the sand and waded into the warm water, snatching the bandages off his (tender, but no longer bleeding) hands as he went.   A few plowing strides brought him out to the breaker line.   Waves sloshed up his torso, soaking his clothes, wetting the tips of his primaries.  He pulled the wings in close to his body and dove into the deeper water, swimming in long, powerful strokes until the water would have been over his head, if he’d stood.   He swam further.

Moonlight made a tantalizing line along the water.   He followed it until the shore was far behind him, and then he spread his wings wide and let his weight sink him down.

Lucifer watched the trail of filth, as thick as smoke from a peat fire, that he left behind as he sank.  All that evidence of Hell, dispersing into the Pacific.  Ash and blood and salt.  He dredged his wings back and forth to clean them, enjoying the resistance the water offered against his strength.

He turned downward and tilted his wings to have his descent send him even deeper.  If he didn’t need to breathe, he may as well make the most of this.

The water pressed against him firmly as he at last came to rest on the sandy ocean floor between pocked, craggy rocks.

The darkness down here was comfortable and familiar.  The pressure of the water against him was a bit like having Hell’s awareness in his mind. 

It was peaceful.   Quiet, but not still. 

A school of small, silvery fish scattered as he settled.  Anemones waved slowly with the current.  Crabs and shrimp scuttled and clicked.

This was a fucking mess, Lucifer thought.   Was Hell still letting human souls pass through?   Was it still letting demons out?   Was the barrier rejecting just him, or would it reject anyone trying to cross over?   His fingers still stung from the snap of that hole closing.   Lucifer didn’t need to try again.  Hell had made it very clear that, at the very least, Lucifer wasn’t welcome to return.

Lucifer stared up through the water at the distant glint of moonlight far above, thoughts roiling.   A spasm of dark humor hit him when he realized he’d been banished from both Heaven and Hell.  The mirth at the thought turned quickly into something that made his chest ache. 

He let his eyes wander over to a little swell shark, perhaps the length of his arm, as it detached from its hiding place in the rocks and came over to snuffle through his wings, drawn by the smell of blood.   Lucifer flexed the wing slightly and the shark did its best to chew on him.  It teeth couldn’t break Lucifer’s skin.  It was doing a wonderful job of exfoliating, though.  Lucifer closed his eyes, staying his heavy thoughts for a moment and relaxing into the tactile pleasure.

He spread the wings wider, until they brushed along the rocks, and then let them fall limp, letting the limbs settle where they would. 

He stilled and, after a bit of time, all manner of little sea creatures gradually eschewed caution to come over and peck at him curiously. 

A fat, deeply red rockfish snapped forward and mouthed at Lucifer’s ring, drawn by the glitter.  He tickled its belly as it darted away, its flesh firm and silky under his fingers.  A crab, smaller than his pinky finger, made its way up his thigh to inspect the drops of blood he’d left on the sweatpants.

Lucifer smiled.  The strange stretch of muscles felt good.  He wiggled his fingers again and the swell shark sped forward to bite them optimistically.  A couple of fruitless chomps and the creature spat him out.  Lucifer scritched the shark’s chin as he pulled his fingers free.

Ridiculous.   This was ridiculous.  He felt an urge to laugh but pressed it down, not wanting to fill his dormant lungs with the salt water.

Lucifer took a moment to soak in the scene.  It was beautiful down here.  Surreal, in the loveliest way.  Perhaps he could do this again sometime, when he wasn’t worried about Hell’s barrier.

For now, though, he needed to get back.  He needed to return to Chloe, and talk to Amenadiel.  They would figure out what was going on with Hell.  Perhaps a shower to wash off the salt and sand that should be fairly quick, now that the worst of the far more resilient filth had been absorbed by the ocean.

He put a hand down against the sand and started to push himself up from his sitting position.

Lucifer wasn’t sure what caught his eye.

A flash of teeth caught in the light, just so, just so that the angle became the same angle as a blade.  A creature wriggling away too much like the motion of a limb flailing in agony.  The puckering mouth of a fish, curved and pale; a detached jaw tossed onto a pile of corpses.

Lucifer stopped seeing the ocean.

The sand under his fingers became the wet bone pulp left behind by a saw dragged through a femur; the salt pressing against his mouth became a splash of blood.

In an instant, Lucifer was back in Hell, a demon stretched out under his hands, screaming and writhing and pleading, and Lucifer didn’t stop. 

He could feel the weight of the whip in his hands.  The struggling body beneath him as he pressed them down to cut, and cut, and cut.

Lucifer stared, unseeing, into a darkness that wasn’t the ocean floor at night. 

He became still.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

A bit of flesh oozed down his hair toward his forehead; muscle pulled loose from the bone, from the feel of it - or a loop of intestine maybe. 

He shook his head, trying to dislodge it, disgusted. 

The motion felt… heavy, somehow.  The pressure around his skin and hair was… wrong.

Lucifer blinked, and blinked again, and the demon that was stretched out in front of him, bleeding and writhing, resolved into a dark expanse of rock and sand and seaweed. 

He squinted, disoriented and blinking, but the ocean floor remained. 

The ‘flesh’ slid lower across his forehead and he snatched it off.   What he’d thought to have been a wet, ripped asunder piece of anatomy turned out to be a dark brown sea slug. 

It slowly wiggled its antennae at Lucifer, fluttering the silky, slimy edges of its foot against his grip.   Lucifer dropped the little creature onto the sand, staring in bafflement at the ocean around him. 

Memory pieced itself back together.  

Lucifer’s hands fell to the fabric of his borrowed sweatpants and, briefly, he closed his eyes and clenched his fists against the weight of his thoughts.

The water around him was thickly dense – he must have been bleeding cold into his surroundings again.  Lucifer pulled a hand through the sand beside him, feeling the resistance as he scooped up a handful, letting it spill again between his fingers. 

Looking up through the water, he could still see moonlight. 

Embarrassing, that he’d lost himself in his thoughts like that, but at least he’d not been adrift for long.   Lucifer swallowed against a flush of shame.  

He decided not to think about what had just happened. 

Right.

Hell.

He needed to get back to Amenadiel and Chloe.  

He gently fluttered his wings to dislodge the fish and small creatures that had opportunistically set up camp between his feathers.   He pushed himself up from his sitting position, sending sea-life scurrying away from him. 

Lucifer swam back up; wings pushing along with his arms, mostly to help shake loose any of the more stubborn squatters hanging onto him.

When he broke the surface, he inhaled by reflex, as if he’d been holding his breath instead of simply not breathing.   The water was warmer up here.  The breeze washed across his face, tickling his skin.

He really needed to get rid of the damned beard.

Lucifer swam to shore.  On dry land, he squeezed the cuffs of the sweatpants and hem of his shirt to wring out some of the water.  He shook off his wings, grimacing.  It took ages for damp feathers to dry. 

He threw himself into the air, his wings feeling heavy and stubborn but still bending through space easily enough.  He dropped onto his balcony in short order.

The door was shut and locked.   He frowned, trying to remember if he’d locked it.  He thought he’d left it open?

With a thought, he teased the lock into opening for him and walked inside, folding his wings.  He closed the door behind him again.

“Detective?”  He called.  Had he closed the door?  There was something else about the balcony that nagged at him.  What was he forgetting?   He glanced back but didn’t see anything out of place.

“Chloe?”  He tried again.   No answer. 

Grimacing at the wet spot he was creating where he stood dripping, he took himself to his bathroom.  Chloe must not be back yet.

He peeled off the borrowed cloths that had stuck to him. 

In the shower, he opened up his wings again and rinsed them of sand and salt.  It was amazing how much sand had found its way between his feathers.  He gave his hair another thorough scrubbing, relaxing at the familiar smells of his soaps and shampoos.  He tried not to think too much about the warm air sliding in and out of his lungs – thinking seemed to be the thing that kept making his breathing go awry. 

He kept the shower brisk, wanting to tend to his overgrown hair more than he wanted to linger under the lukewarm spray - lukewarm, because properly hot water still felt prickly and uncomfortable.  

He switched off the taps and toweled himself dry, rubbing the towels down as much of his wings as he could reach, ruffling and fluffing the feathers vigorously to help speed along their drying.  Finally, he sat in front of his vanity and pulled out his shaving kit.

The Lucifer that looked back at him in the mirror was scruffy.  Not in a sexy way, either.

“Right, then,” Lucifer said, picking up the scissors and setting to work.

 

~*~

Coiffed, cleaned, and dressed, Lucifer was starting to feel a lot more like himself.  He had debated between his bathrobe and a suit before deciding on the former.  He was still tired.  When he emerged from his closet, he listened carefully to determine whether or not Chloe had returned yet.  

“Detective?” He called. 

Nothing. 

Lucifer folded his wings away and wandered into his kitchen, surprised to realize he was feeling a bit peckish. 

The refrigerator offered a few choices, mostly take-out leftovers and champagne.  Maybe something lighter, he decided, pulling out a carton of strawberries.  

The fruits were starting to look a little dark and bruised; not quite past their prime, but getting there.  He gave them a quick rinse in the kitchen sink and poured them into a bowl, taking it with him back to the wet bar in his living room.   He poured himself a generous tumbler of bourbon and settled into one of the stools to enjoy his snack.   Chloe would be back with Amenadiel soon.  Amenadiel would surely have some theory or idea or, failing that, he had access to Heaven and…

…and then what?

Lucifer ate a strawberry.   There was so much simple pleasure in food, and this, too, had been a part of himself that had been kept sealed away for too long.  The sharp flavor washed over his tongue and Lucifer finally stopped tasting ash and blood.

Amenadiel would return and, one way or another, they would get through the problem with the barrier and Lucifer would go back to Hell. 

He would leave all of this behind again. 

He would have to leave Chloe behind again.

This moment – this respite – was it maybe better if it didn’t happen at all?  Maybe it would be kinder not to linger here.  Kinder for both of them.

Lucifer ran a hand back through his newly-straightened and smoothed hair.   He picked up another strawberry and chewed contemplatively, looking down at the marble top of his bar.  He took a large swallow of his bourbon to wash the fruit down, leaning into the burn of alcohol.

He would have to go back to Hell.

Lucifer braced his elbow on the bar top and buried his face in the hand that wasn’t holding the scotch.  His breath rasped in his throat.   Grief tugged at him and made his insides feel weak and twisted. 

He didn’t want to go back. 

He imagined the throne, the atmosphere, the carnage he’d left behind, and his thoughts turned away from it.  He did not want to go back

His fingertips grew moist and, for a moment, he let himself feel the fear and dread.  He felt small, and the weight was crushing – his chest hurt from it. 

He flicked away the tears angrily, taking another swallow of bourbon, ignoring how his hand shook the glass.  Lucifer grit his teeth and leaned back in the stool, regarding his reflection in the polished ceiling until he stopped trembling. 

The elevator gave a cheerful ‘ding,’ and Lucifer took a deep breath, composing himself.  He squared his shoulders and turned to face the doors as they opened.

 

~*~

 

Beatrice Espinoza was not an idiot.

She was kind, and an optimist, and young.  

A lot of grownups seemed to think that that made her simple.

Trixie wasn’t simple.

 

~*~

 

When Trixie was four, Dad came home with black eyes and a broken, bandaged nose – an injury sustained while chasing down a suspect.   Trixie learned two things that day.   One:  She’d learned the term “sucker punch.”

Two:  She learned that her parents had dangerous jobs.

 

 

When Trixie was five, both of her parents missed her birthday party.  Mom had been an officer - not yet a detective – and been stuck at the scene of a robbery when the perp took a hostage.   Dad had been on a stake-out that couldn’t be postponed.  

Grandma Decker had assured her that both were fine and told her ‘they’ll be here soon’ so many times that it stopped meaning anything. 

Her classmates ate cake and played games.   Trixie had eaten cake and played games, too, but with worry and disappointment weighing her stomach down as much as the frosting.   She remembered waking up, later – once her classmates had gone home, once Grandma had put her to bed and Trixie had lost the fight to stay awake and see her parents.   Mom had arrived home first, full of apologies and kisses and assurances that she was fine.   Trixie hadn’t seen Dad until the following morning, and been treated to a repeat of Mom’s performance. 

Trixie was reassured that they loved her, they were sorry they missed the party, and they loved her.  Their job was important and sometimes it meant they had to make sacrifices, but that nothing was more important than her.  They were a family, and that was what mattered more than anything.

 

 

When she was six, her parents separated.

 

 

When Trixie was seven years old, her mother was shot in the chest. 

Lucifer had saved her.   Nobody would tell her details about it, but: see above.  Trixie was not an idiot.  Lucifer had gone with Mom when she went to confront the bad guy.  Afterwards, Lucifer had been waiting in the hospital for Mom to wake up.  Lucifer had, more or less, been Mom’s partner ever since.

The first time Trixie met Lucifer, he’d told her he was the Devil, and then he’d scared the everloving shit out of Janice Dooley for being mean to her. 

Trixie believed that she was a good judge of character.  Both of her parents told her to trust her instincts.   Tall and dark and charming – and, from what Janice would later tell anyone who would listen, with eyes that split into a Hell vortex – Trixie saw no reason not to believe him. 

Lucifer Morningstar was the Devil. 

It was kind of hilarious.  

Her mother didn’t believe Lucifer.  Neither did her dad.  Trixie wasn’t sure why - Lucifer wasn’t subtle or hiding anything.   He never missed an opportunity to joke about being the Devil or make a pun about Hell.  And yet, both of her parents shied away from Trixie asking questions about Lucifer. 

“You know he’s not really the Devil, right, kiddo?” Her father asked her, more than once, until Trixie finally stopped talking to him about Lucifer.  If her dad wanted to keep his head buried in the sand – well, that was his decision.   Trixie had internet access.

Trixie knew not to believe everything she read online.   Her parents and her grandma repeated that wisdom often enough.   Janice and her stupid fake Snapchat account had hammered it home.   Trixie read about Lucifer online and, when none of the information matched the Lucifer she knew, she discarded it.  It went in the same mental pile as the comments people made about Mom in Hot Tub High School.  The people making those comments didn’t know her mother.  It was clear that the people making comments about Lucifer didn’t know Lucifer either.

 

 

Officer Malcolm Graham kidnapped her – his uniform letting him collect her from school without a whisper of protest from the teachers on curb duty.  Trixie had known something was off – something was wrong with him – but she had followed him anyway. 

Later, she would understand that this was what Mom had meant when she told Trixie to trust her instincts.  They had just been words before that.

In the car ride to the air hanger, Malcolm had joked about killing her, or killing Mom, and when Trixie had tried to jump out of the car at a red light, he had grabbed Trixie’s arm so tightly he’d left bruises.  

His shirt had been stained with sauces and crumbs.  His breath had smelled like mangos.  Ever afterwards, the smell of mangos would make her gag.

Trixie had been with Malcolm in that air hanger for over an hour while they waited for Mom to arrive.   Malcolm had had a gun.  When he’d pointed it at Trixie and told her to stay quiet while they waited… Trixie had stayed quiet.

Malcolm hadn’t stayed quiet.  He had rambled and laughed at his own jokes and threatened her, then turned around and tried to act like her friend.  It had been horrible.  Something had been really, really wrong with him.

The wait had felt like much, much longer than an hour.

Trixie had seen the fear in her mother’s eyes when, at last, she’d arrived.  Mom hadn’t just been afraid – she hadn’t been in control of the situation.   Her mother hadn’t known what to do, and it had been terrifying.

From the spot behind the pallets where she’d run to hide, Trixie had watched Lucifer sail a paper airplane into the space between Malcom and her mother, and that fear had started to leech away.  Lucifer was here.  He was here, and he was playing. 

Everything would be okay.

Trixie had watched Lucifer approach Malcolm.   Watched them talk.   Watched Lucifer’s confident swagger go still a second before the hanger echoed with a gunshot.

Trixie hadn’t screamed when she’d seen Lucifer fall to the floor, but she’d wanted to.   The horror of it had frozen her solid and choked her into silence.  Malcolm stalked away after Mom, and Trixie had watched Lucifer die.  He’d stopped moving, and Trixie had stopped breathing.   That image – Lucifer, eyes blindly looking at the ceiling, the wide pool of blood spreading out from his body – it had stayed with her.  

She still dreamt about it.

Lucifer had sat up; his eyes gleaming a bright, furious red as he looked over to where Malcolm had gone.  He’d picked himself up and vanished from her line of sight.   Trixie heard the gunshots, and then the silence, and then Mom calling for her.

Mom tried to shield Trixie from seeing Malcolm’s body but she wasn’t entirely successful.   Trixie had seen it.

Lucifer’s shirt had been wet with blood.  In the florescent lights of the hanger, the blue/gray shirt he’d been wearing had looked black where it had been stained.

“I thought he killed you,” Mom had said.

“Oh, he did, yes,” Lucifer had replied, looking at Trixie and then back to Mom.  “I got better.”  

It was a good thing Lucifer was the Devil, Trixie had thought.  If he hadn’t been…

Well.

Trixie was glad that Malcolm was dead.

 

~*~

 

On Halloween when Trixie was eight, Trixie saw Mazikeen’s real face.  Or part of it, at least.  She still wasn’t sure if there was more than just that one side of it.  It didn’t feel polite to ask.

After her parent’s divorce, moving in with Maze – having that second adult to come home to and to turn to when Mom was being unreasonable – it had been wonderful.   Maze was the best.  Maze didn’t talk down to Trixie or treat her like a kid.  Maze spent time with her and played with her and asked the funniest questions; made the funniest observations about Mom and Lucifer and especially about Dad. 

Maze understood how disappointing the princess dress had been and hadn’t sighed or told her to suck it up when Trixie had been unhappy with it.  Instead, she’d squared up and asked Trixie, point blank, what she wanted to be.

They’d scrounged through the closets and junk drawers and kitchen –plastic margarita cups, funnels, a shiny silver rain jacket, Mardi Gras beads…  Nonsense that became Official Presidential Garb with a bit of glue and a lot of enthusiasm.   The princess dress was left balled up on her bedroom floor.

Maze had handed her a whip as a final embellishment to the vastly improved costume – ‘To keep your subjects in line,’ she’d said, and Trixie had grinned at the ridiculousness, even as she’d looped the heavy leather coils around her hand.

“I wish you wore a costume,” Trixie had said, several houses later and already giddy from the weight of candy and cash in her treat bag.  Maze had a way of just staring at the grownups that encouraged them to keep giving her stuff.  It was awesome.

It would have been better if Maze had dressed up, though.   Halloween was the one time of year you got to be whatever you wanted.   Trixie wanted Maze to be what she wanted to be, too.

“Well, I,” A furtive look.  “I did bring something.  Do you want to see it?”

“Yeah!”

“Turn around,” Maze had asked.  Trixie spun around.  What could Maze have brought with her?  The pockets on her pants weren’t that big.

“I’m ready,” Maze told her, and Trixie had turned back.

The mask Maze had pulled on was easily the best costume (aside from hers) that Trixie had seen all day.

“Cool!”  She’d said, surprised and delighted.   Maze gave her a nervous-looking smile that pulled the edge of the mask oddly.

“We’re going to get SO MUCH candy,” Trixie had crowed, taking Maze’s hand and pulling her along to the next house.

It had become a recurring theme for the rest of the evening – house after house after house double-taking at the pair of them. 

“I’m the President of Mars!” Trixie would announce proudly.

“And I’m a demon,” Maze would follow, grinning in a way that stretched the sinewy, exposed muscles at the corner of her mouth and made her pale eye glitter.

It wasn’t until they’d had another dozen houses or so under their belt, watching Maze talk and the way her teeth gleamed through gaps in the blackened skin, that Trixie realized it wasn’t a mask.   It couldn’t be.   Trixie could see through her cheek.

“What’s wrong?” Maze had asked her when Trixie’s steps stumbled on that thought.

And Maze had seemed so worried.  So tentative. 

“Nothing,” Trixie had said.   She’d stopped and looked at Maze – really looked at her.  

Under the sudden scrutiny, Maze’s expression had flashed with realization, and then gone closed off and anxious.  But she’d firmed her jaw and tilted her face towards Trixie to better display the twisted flesh.    Her mismatched eyes had been challenging.  Hopeful.  

Trust your instincts, Mom had told her, and Trixie did.  She wasn’t afraid.

“Does it hurt?” Trixie had asked. 

The skin around that pale eye had crinkled up as Maze smiled.

“Nope,” She’d confirmed, the ‘p’ popping oddly around her half-ruined lips.

Trixie nodded.

“Awesome,” She asserted, offering her hand to Maze again.   The demon took it, her fingers warm and firm, and they’d proceeded onward.

When her candy bag started getting too heavy, Maze had carried it for her without Trixie even having to ask.  They’d canvassed the neighborhood, zipping up and down the sidewalks.  Trixie had all but glowed with happiness, riding off the high of the un-reality Halloween had brought – decorations and spooky music and throngs of other kids in costumes – not to mention learning her best friend was an actual demon.  

Plus, sugar.  There was definitely a high from the sugar.  Maze didn’t make her wait to get into her snacks like Mom did, stealing candy from her in the guise of ‘checking wrappers.’  The both of them were sticky-fingered with chocolate and fruit gummies and caramels by the time Trixie finally started to feel worn out.

“Alright, Madame President, ready to start heading back?” Maze had asked – not implying that the answer should be ‘yes,’ either; just a genuine question on if they should start in on the next street or not.

“Yeah,” Trixie had sighed.   She was sweating under the helmet.   She wanted a drink, and to sit down for a bit, and to count her cash. 

On the other side of the street, a little boy in a Spiderman costume rode his father’s shoulders, drooping from the late hour as the group ambled up to the next door.  Trixie gave him a wistful look as they walked past. 

Maze watched her watching them and gave Trixie a considering look, the tip of her tongue poking through the holes in her cheek. 

“You want a ride?”  Maze asked.

“I’m too old for that,” Trixie had said.

Maze tilted her head.

“Not what I asked,” She’d said, her smirk curling into a point on her withered side, and Trixie had beamed back at her.

 

~*~

 

Later, at home, divested of space helmet and money squirreled safely away, they settled on the couch.   Maze smoothed her face back out into the familiar human guise Trixie was used to. 

“That is so neat,” Trixie told her, grabbing another handful of candy.   If Mom had been here, she’d’ve confiscated the candy bag by now, rationing out the pieces day by day until they were gone.   Maze didn’t ration.  Maze plonked the stash between them with every intention of the two of them eating all of their ‘spoils’ tonight.  

Maze was the best.

A small frown crossed Maze’s face.  She picked up the TV remote, fiddled with it.

“I don’t think your Mom would think so,” She said.  She ran her thumb over the newly smooth, brown flesh of her cheek.   She gave Trixie a conspiratorial look.  “Most humans aren’t as smart as you.”

Trixie preened.

“It can be our secret!”  She’d announced, and Maze had smiled, visibly relieved.

It must be so hard, Trixie thought, being a demon. 

“The Republic of Mars will welcome any and all demons,” Trixie told her solemnly.  Then, she smacked Maze’s thigh in excitement.  “You can be president of Deimos!”

“Where’s that, then?”  Maze had asked, head cocked.

“One of Mars’s moons!”

“President of Deimos,” Maze said, pursing her lips down and nodding, considering it.  “I like it.  Hell yes.”

“Hell yes!” Trixie agreed.  They fist-bumped to make it official.

Maze flicked on the TV, flipping through channel after channel in a way that would have driven Mom nuts.   Trixie didn’t mind.  An older movie came up – “Legend,” from the info that flashed at the bottom of the screen as the channel changed - and Maze burst into laughter at the scene. 

“No?” Trixie had asked, tilting her head to the fanged, muscular Satan; his massive black horns curling above his head, his skin as red and taut as a cherry.

“Pffft,” Maze scoffed, still chortling as she unwrapped another mini Snickers and popped it into her mouth.  “He wishes.”  She threw the wrapper at the TV and it fluttered to the ground to join the rest of the mess they’d made. 

They fell quiet for a while, except for the crinkle of wrappers, contented chomping, and the occasional renewed bouts of laughter from Maze at on-screen Satan.

“I saw his eyes, once,” Trixie had confessed, fingers fiddling with the edge of her jacket, not looking away from the TV.   Maze turned her head enough to regard her.

“Oh?” She’d asked.  “When was this?”

“Malcolm,” Trixie had said, and only that, not wanting to talk about it.

Maze had pulled Trixie closer to her.  She stroked Trixie’s shoulder and they watched the movie.

“I’ll teach you how to fight,” Maze told her. 

Trixie ate another candy bar, not sure how to untangle what she felt at that pronouncement.

“Thank you, Maze,” She’d said, voice wobbling, hoping the demon understood how much she meant it.

Maze smoothed her hands through Trixie’s hair.

“Get some rest, little human.  You’re probably crashing from all of this sugar.  That’s a thing, right?  Decker seemed to think so.”

“You’re going to get a sugar crash, too,” Trixie mumbled, squirming into Maze’s side.  Maze was warm and smelled like leather.  It was nice.  Comforting.

“Demons don’t get sugar crashes,” Maze had denied around a yawn, picking up the remote to resume channel surfing.  Her other arm settled around Trixie’s shoulders.

Trixie had squashed further into Maze’s side and watched the flicker of changing channels through heavy-lidded eyes.  She didn’t remember falling asleep. 

She’d dreamt of Mars and its moons. 

 

~*~

 

Trixie met Amenadiel when her mother was dying of poison. 

Under the white lights of the hospital, he’d seemed impossibly tall and broad.

“Who are you?” She’d asked.  He hadn’t been wearing scrubs or a uniform – a stranger, watching Mom while she slept.

“I’m Amenadiel,” He’d replied, his voice a low and soft rumble.  “Lucifer’s brother.  He asked me to watch over your mother.”

“Like a guardian angel?”

He’d laughed and smiled.  If he was Lucifer’s brother, it stood to reason that he was an angel, too. 

They’d chatted for a bit.  He’d knelt on the floor to be eye-level with her, which was more than most grown-ups did. 

They’d discussed the important things – that both of them had cool necklaces, and that there were more good people in the world than bad ones.  When Trixie had hugged him, he’d smelled sweet, like vanilla.  Her tension and fear at seeing Mom in a hospital bed again started fading away.

“Here,” He’d offered.  “Would you like to get in with your Mom?”

And when she’d nodded, he’d scooped her up and deposited her on the bed beside her mother, pulling the blanket over both of them when she settled in.

“Will you stay?” Trixie asked him.

“Of course.  I’ll be here to watch over you both.”

Trixie hadn’t meant to fall asleep.  Between the steady beep of the machines, the familiar feel of her mother, and the comfort of Amenadiel’s presence, she’d closed her eyes and drifted off.

The shrill alarm of Something Going Wrong sounding from the machines woke her up.  

Nurses rushed in and helped her out of the bed.  She’d looked to Amenadiel for direction.

“Go wait outside,” He’d told her, still gentle, still smiling.  “I’ll be here.”

So Trixie had followed one of the nurses outside.

When Amenadiel started fighting the nurses and guards that came to drag him from the room, to take Mom elsewhere for treatment, Trixie had watched, terrified.

From the hallway outside, through the window, she watched Mom shudder and seize in her bed, flopping like a fish, like a toy.   Amenadiel threw off guard after guard, planting himself in the doorway.  For a moment, he met Trixie’s eyes, his expression determined and grim. 

Trixie thought there was something apologetic in his face in that moment, and her fear felt like a knot in her stomach.

Her mom was dying. 

Trixie was sure of it.

She was dying, and –

And then Lucifer was there, stumbling past and into the room, putting his hand on Amenadiel’s shoulder.   All at once, the other angel stopped fighting.   He let the guards take him out of the room.  The doctors and nurses whisked Mom out of the now-unoccupied doorway and down the hall, and Trixie had stood, frozen, crying, watching it happen, completely unsure of what to do.

“Urchin,” Lucifer greeted.   Trixie had turned and looked at him. 

His hair had been disheveled; his suit jacket was gone, the white shirt he was wearing unbuttoned.  He was panting and sweaty and pale.

He’d sighed and wobbled unsteadily across the hall to a chair and dropped himself into it.   Trixie followed him, sitting in the chair next to him and pulling her legs up, hugging them tightly to her body.

“Your mother will be alright,” Lucifer said, eyes closed, head tilted back, taking deep breaths in through his mouth.   He’d looked exhausted.  “They have the cure, now.  She’ll be alright.”   He’d licked his lips and starting fumbling his buttons closed, giving up and letting his hands drop back to the armrests after two.

“Are you okay?” She’d asked in a small voice, and he’d rolled his head to the side and looked at her.

Lucifer had blinked as if just noticing her, despite having talked to her a second before.

He’d swallowed.  Trixie watched the roll of his Adam’s apple along his exposed throat.

“It’s been a long couple of days,” He’d told her.

Trixie wiped away her tears.  She could feel fresh ones welling up and she wiped those away too.

Lucifer’s eyes fell closed. 

“I’m just going to… rest my eyes for a moment,” He’d muttered.  “I’m really quite knackered.  Betrayal really takes it out of you, I suppose.  Or maybe it was the dying.”  He shifted, hand pressing against his chest like it pained him.

“You died again?” Trixie asked, the image of Lucifer sprawled on his back in a puddle of blood a vivid memory. 

“Only for a bit.  I don’t recommend it.”   He sighed, dropped his hand and squirmed in his seat, blinking slowly – like he wanted to sleep and was fighting it.

“I’ll let you know when Mom gets back, if you want to take a minute,” Trixie offered, glad to have something to do.  His eyelids slid back open at that, eyes glittering with something like amusement or gratitude, before he closed them again.  He settled and relaxed.

His expression slackened and his breathing deepened.  Within a few minutes, it was clear he’d fallen asleep.

Trixie watched the hospital staff come and go.  Occasionally, they glanced over at the two of them, but no one bothered them.   She wanted them to bring her mother back.  She had no idea where Mom had been taken.  No idea where Dad was.  Grandma was supposed to be heading back to LA, but her flight had gotten delayed.

Trixie didn’t know what to do, and so she waited here with Lucifer.  She’d watched the steady rise and fall of his chest as he’d breathed.  Carefully, she’d buttoned his shirt for him.  He’d muttered in his sleep at one point, brow crinkling into unhappy lines.  A nightmare. 

As quietly as she could, Trixie had hummed ‘Let it Go,’ until Lucifer relaxed into untroubled sleep again.

 

~*~

 

Lucifer taught her how to drive. 

It had been his end of a deal that had included a thoroughly entertaining day of floating through an elementary school full of beanbag seats and glossy surfaces and soft-spoken teachers.  Lucifer, with his dark suit and barbed quips, had stood out like a sore thumb. 

“Do you want to sell this or not?” Trixie – Trixie Morningstar, at least for the day – had hissed at him, gripping his fingers as he tried to shake her off and complained about the touching. 

He really wasn’t shaking that hard.

Like Maze, his skin was warm, and when he’d rolled his eyes like a drama-llama, she’d grinned back at him.  Lucifer was funny.  Trixie understood why Mom liked him so much.

Afterwards – after confessing to her worries, and getting caught by Mom, and almost getting to drive before Mom vetoed it – Lucifer had driven them outside of LA.  In the desert-y outskirts, traffic dropped away and abandoned parking lots were easily found. 

On the ride out, with the top down and the breeze turning her hair into a whipped chaos as he sped along the empty road, she’d splayed her hands up in the air to feel the tugging wind.

“It’s like flying!” She’d shouted, and Lucifer’s answering grin had been wide and toothy.

“You’ve no idea,” He’d said, and he’d sounded pleased.

“Right,” He told her, parking the car once he found a suitable spot.  Trixie had turned to him, still giggling and flushed from the speed.    Her parents would have had a cow if they’d known how fast he drove her here.  Trixie had no intention of telling them.

“Now then,” He said.  “Let me explain the pedals.  Dearie me, will you even reach them?  Hmm.  We may need to improvise a bit.”

She ended up sitting in Lucifer’s lap while he explained the pedals and the gears.  He bemoaned her ‘sticky fingers’ all over the steering wheel, but his enthusiastic approval when she started to get the hang of things was intoxicating.  When he slid over and let her have the driving seat to herself, she was too short to see more than a sliver of road above the dashboard.  Lucifer didn’t seem to think this was a problem, directing her and egging her into applying more gas.  They ended up going offroad a couple of times, spitting up yellow dust on one side of the car and then the other until Lucifer took the wheel firmly between finger and thumb and put her back in the middle of the road.  He talked, then, about ‘overcorrection’ and ‘responsiveness,’ and muttered, just loud enough for her to hear, about ‘chipped paint’ and ‘birth control.’   Trixie couldn’t stop smiling.

The day wound down and Lucifer took the driver’s seat again, taking them back into LA.

“Why did we come here?” Trixie asked him, frowning, as they drove past her regular elementary school.   School had been out for hours.

“You did promise your mother I’d take you here, yes?   So, I’ve taken you here.  Wave to your school, urchin.”

Giggling, Trixie waved as they drove past.

 

~*~

 

Things with Maze had been off for a while.   She had seemed brittle and unhappy for weeks.  Her comments had gotten meaner, her patience thinner.  When she trained Trixie, her lessons shifted away from self-defense and into long, lovingly delivered stories about torturing people in Hell. 

“There’s something so pure about the way they scream the first time you show them their own intestines,” Maze told Trixie, chuckling like they were sharing a joke.  “If you get a good grip and yank, you can jog their lungs enough to cut them off right in the middle of it.  Oh, and the things you can do with pliers.  I used to –”

“Maze, I don’t think I want to hear this,” Trixie had told her, feeling slightly green.  Maze had looked at her quizzically.  Trixie had shrugged.

“They’re damned souls,” Maze said, like that changed everything.

“They’re still people, though, right?”

Maze’s frown had deepened at that.

“They’re people, yeah.  They’re not good people, though.  Like your teacher – Mrs…. What’s her name.  The one that’s such a dick to you.”

“Mrs. Benson,” Trixie said.  “And yeah, she’s a dick, but I wouldn’t want to… to pull her intestines out and yank them while she screams.  That’s horrible.”

 

 

The brownies, later, Trixie had thought to be an apology.  Trixie had told Maze about Teacher Appreciation day, and the demon had insisted on making brownies for Mrs. Benson. 

At the time, it felt like Maze was apologizing for the way she’d been behaving lately.  That the brownies had been for Mrs. Benson, after the conversation they’d had, had made Trixie think Maze had really listened to her.

At the time.

Later, watching Mrs. Benson panic and cry, watching the ambulance take her out of the classroom, the finger-pointing began and quickly fell on the brownies and, by extension, Trixie. 

In Principal’s office, enduring a stern lecture from Mr. Meyers while they waited for Dad, Trixie wondered if Maze had done it not to punish Mrs. Benson, but to punish Trixie.

 

 

“No!”  Maze shouted, loud enough that Trixie could hear her outside; loud enough that Maze didn’t notice when Trixie opened the door.  “You would all love me to be something I’m not.   Well I am not a babysitter.  I am not a roommate.  And I am sick of your goody-two-shoes ex-wife, and that stupid little brat of yours!”

The words felt like getting kicked in the chest, and Trixie burst into tears at hearing them.

“Maze,” Dad said, looking past Maze to where Trixie stood in the doorway.  Maze had spun around and spotted her.  Trixie could read the shock on Maze’s face – at being caught, Trixie had thought – and she’d run away, overwhelmed.

There was a tree in Mrs. Wen’s yard that had branches low enough to climb.  It was where Trixie retreated to then, climbing branch after branch until the leaves started blocking the street from view.  In the privacy they offered, she wept.   She felt like her insides had been scooped out, and part of her spitefully wondered if this would be another story that Maze would tell someone else, laughing at how much hurt she’d caused.

She thought about last Halloween; how wonderful Maze had been.  It was one of her best memories.  The memory ached in this new light.

Dad found her maybe twenty minutes later.  Trixie suspected he’d probably known exactly where she’d gone but had given her some time to herself anyway.   She appreciated it.

Even though Trixie was too old for it, when Trixie climbed down, Dad had scooped her up and carried her home, rubbing her back while Trixie tried and failed to stop crying.  

“I thought she was my friend,” Trixie rasped.  Her throat hurt.  She felt exhausted and stuffy; miserable.

At home, he’d poured her a glass of water and sat with her in the kitchen.

“Sometimes, when people are unhappy, they lash out,” He told her.  “Maze didn’t mean what she said, Trix.  She’s lashing out, and I know she hurt you, but I don’t think she meant it.”

“I know,” Trixie said, lying so that Dad would stop trying to reassure her.  Trixie didn’t want to talk about it.  She drank her water and picked up her backpack, retreating to her room.

Her bed was disheveled from the stranger sleeping in it.  She balled up the sheets and threw them on the floor, fighting back a fresh wave of tears.

She felt betrayed. 

 

~*~

 

Mom’s relationship with Marcus Pierce was a whirlwind. 

Trixie didn’t know what to make of Marcus. 

He didn’t seem mean, or crazy, or wrong  - not like Malcolm had felt wrong – but there was still something about him that seemed… fake.   Hidden.  Like when adults didn’t like children, especially children that looked like Trixie, and were pretending they did. 

Mom was happy, though.  

Mom was happy, and it was the thought that had her following Marcus when he collected her from her sleepover with Holly.  

“But I don’t want to go,” She’d tried, looking at Holly and Holly’s mom like they would back her up.  They didn’t, not really, and when Marcus said: “We’re planning a surprise for her mother,” that toe-hold of support vanished.

She got into the car with him – in the front seat, because Marcus didn’t seem to know that she wasn’t allowed – and Trixie watched him from the corner of her eye as they quietly drove home.

“Your mother is really special,” He said.

“Yeah,” Trixie agreed.   At a red light, he gave her a curious, considering look.

“I wonder if you’re special, too,” He said, and Trixie had frowned.

“Mr. Baker says all of us are special in different ways,” Trixie offered.  The conversation felt weird.    “What’s the surprise for Mom?”

“You’ll see,” He said, smiling like he had a secret.

Marcus had gone from being Mom’s boss, to being her boyfriend, to being her fiancé in such a rapid succession that even Trixie thought it was a bit rushed.

She looked at Marcus and tried to imagine him as a regular fixture in her life.  Living with Mom like Dad had lived with Mom.   There when Trixie woke up, and when she came home from school, and when she went to bed.   Would she still be allowed to be Trixie Espinoza?  Or would she be Trixie Decker?  Or, worse, Trixie Pierce?

She thought of Marcus replacing Dad and it made something twist unpleasantly in her stomach.

Trixie wanted to take an Uber to Lux.  She wanted to go see Lucifer and talk to him until his bluntness and sass cheered her up.

Trixie fiddled with her phone. 

 

 

At home, Trixie couldn’t shake the feeling that Marcus was watching her.  Not just babysitting.  Watching her.  The apartment was decorated with brightly red and pink streamers, cascades of flowers, paper poms; cheerful clutter left behind from Mom’s bachelorette party.  A further reminder that Marcus was imminently about to become a permanent fixture in her home.

Trixie ducked into the bathroom and opened Mom’s Uber account.  She requested a ride to Lux.   She confirmed the request and pocketed her phone.  She flushed the toilet and ran the sink, because Marcus was hovering.  Getting out of the house is going to be difficult.

When she opened the door, Marcus was there, offering her a glass of juice with a smile.

“So,” He said when she took it.  “How about a movie while we wait?”

“Wait for what?”  Trixie asked.  She was thirsty and it was apple juice.  Her favorite.  She downed most of the glass in the next couple of swallows.  She eyed the front door, wondering how she was going to get outside in the next four minutes.

“It’s a surprise,” Marcus said.  He gestured at the couch, watching her, and Trixie’s shoulders slumped with defeat.  She sat on the couch and Marcus sat beside her, picking up the remote and skimming through the channel guide.  He looked distracted and Trixie got her phone out again to double-check the ETA.

He plucked the phone out of her hands, tugging it free when she tried to hold onto it.

“That’s mine!” She’d squawked.  “Give it back!”

Marcus had frowned at the screen, thumb swiping as that frown grew.

“Why were you trying to sneak out to Lux?  I thought you and Maze were fighting.”

Trixie scowled at him.

“I want to go see Lucifer,” She said.

Marcus put her phone in his breast pocket.

“I don’t think your mother would like that,” He said. 

“Mom likes Lucifer,” Trixie rebutted.  His expression shifted.  Still smiling, but…

But something felt wrong. 

Trust your instincts, her parents had told her, again and again, and her instincts were telling her something was wrong.

Trixie stood up from the couch, and the world gave an uncomfortable spin.  Dizzily, she sat back down again.

Marcus was still smiling.

“I realize I’m going to have to work to earn your trust.  I’m hoping we’ll have the opportunity to get to know each other better.  Your mother and I are going to get married, Trixie.  So we should really learn to get along.”

Trixie’s head felt heavy.  Her eyelids felt heavy.  She glared at Marcus, still wanting to argue, but she was so tired suddenly.  She let her head fall back onto the couch cushions.

 

 

In the morning, she woke up in her bed with a pounding, terrible headache.

She shambled to the bathroom.  She saw to her morning routine, spending extra time brushing her teeth.  Her mouth was so dry, and it tasted awful.

“Mom?” She mumbled, emerging from the bathroom.  Early morning sunlight was flowing in through the kitchen.   The apartment was still festooned in party paraphernalia.   Mom was rolling up streamers, brightly colored paper wrapped around her hands that Trixie knew would end up in her ‘miscellaneous crafts’ bin.

“Hey, baby,” Mom said.  She looked as tired as Trixie felt.

“Where’s Marcus?” Trixie asked.

Mom looked down at her hands and shucked the streamer off in a neatly rolled ball, setting it down on the table before turning back to her.

“Marcus is gone, sweetheart.  I’m not going to marry him.”

 “Oh,” Trixie said, confused and relieved and not sure how to react to this surprise.  Mom looked upset.  “Did Marcus do something?”

“No,” Mom said.  “No, babe, nothing like that.  I just realized that I was marrying him for the wrong reasons.   And… all of this,” She waved a hand at the party decorations.  “It was just too fast.  It wasn’t the right decision.  So I’m not going through with it.”

Trixie chewed her lip.  It was on the tip of her tongue to tell Mom that she was glad that Marcus was gone, but she remembered Holly saying the same thing about Maze and how hurtful the comments had been.

Instead, she gave Mom a hug.  Mom squeezed her and called her ‘monkey,’ and later there was a breakfast of Hawaiian bread and fried eggs.  

Trixie helped take down the streamers, the flowers, the paper poms.   The craft bucket overflowed, and when Mom asked her if it was okay to throw some of it away, Trixie said ‘yes’ without hesitation.

 

~*~

 

It was raining in Italy when the plane landed; fat, warm drops of water that caught them while Mom hailed a taxi and Trixie kicked the fussy, wobbling wheel of her suitcase to try to get it to behave.

The air smelled different.  The languages that people spoke as they walked by were different.   The architecture, the styles of clothes, the food, the shop windows, the cars – all of it seemed shiny and new, and Trixie was enchanted despite her worries.

Mom had snatched her up from Grandma’s in a blur, waking Trixie up to take her home.

“Pack your suitcase, Monkey.  We’re going on vacation.”

“Now?”  Trixie had asked, sleepy and disoriented from the abruptness of the announcement.  “But I’m going skating with Holly tomorrow.  And Charlotte’s funeral is Wednesday.”

Mom had looked so pale and… frightened.  She pushed her hair out of her face and smiled tightly. 

“I know, baby, but… With the scheduling at work, and how my time off lined up, we’ll have to leave now.  I’ve talked to Dad already and he knows we’re going to miss the funeral.   Why don’t you go ahead and text Holly and tell her that you’re not going to be able to go skating tomorrow.”

“Mom, it’s night,” Trixie said.  One of the rules was ‘no texting at night.’

“Right, yes,” Mom had said.  “Okay, text her tomorrow, then.  Come along now, Trix.”

So they’d left Grandma’s beach house while Grandma fretted and complained at Mom and Mom had brushed her off.

The car ride home was tense – Mom checking the rear-view mirror over and over and over, like she was expecting to be followed.   Trixie had packed her suitcase quickly.  Later, she would realize she hadn’t packed socks or her toothbrush or any of her books, and Mom would buy replacements with apologies and gelato.

There would be a lot of apologies in Italy.   A lot of ‘I’m sorry I left you here all day with Mrs. Ricci,’ and ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t go swimming with you’ and ‘I’m sorry I took your phone away – the data plan, you see…’

There was a lot of gelato.

Mrs. Ricci was an older woman, her hair more silver than black, and her fondness for Trixie was immediate and obvious.  And she’d had two fuzzy white dogs, which had been a delight.   She and Mom stayed with Mrs. Ricci and her dogs the entire time they were in Italy.  Mom had said it was a vacation.  From the way Mom worked through most of it, it didn’t really feel like a vacation.

During the day, Mom would disappear into the city “for research,” which she wouldn’t tell Trixie about even when Trixie asked nicely and promised not to be traumatized by whatever crime it was that Mom was being so tight-lipped about. 

Trixie, meanwhile, played with Mrs. Ricci’s grandchildren (two years younger than Trixie, but still decent enough to hang out with), or with the dogs, or helped Mrs. Ricci in the kitchen.  She learned to make noodles and sauces from scratch, preening under the rolling, lilting syllables of Mrs. Ricci’s praise.  Mrs. Ricci had been surprised by Trixie’s knife skills as she chopped vegetables and segmented chickens with competence and precision, and it had made Trixie miss Maze.

Trixie missed Maze.

Mrs. Ricci insisted on prayers before meals and Trixie imagined what Maze would say about the ritual, even as she bowed her head and politely mumbled along.

She missed Maze more than she was mad at her.  Trixie was done feeling hurt.  She wanted her friend back.

She missed Lucifer, and Dad, and Holly, and LA.   Italy was beautiful but it wasn’t home, and Mom was so strange here.  More than once, Mom would come home from her research in the city and Trixie could tell she’d been crying.

In the evenings, Mom would talk to Mrs. Ricci.  They talked about religion in quiet voices.  In the habit of grownups, they seemed to think that Trixie couldn’t hear them because she wasn’t looking at them.  So, Trixie played with the dogs and eavesdropped as much as she could, gleaning bits and pieces. 

“What’s the Vatican?” Trixie asked Marco, one of the kids, when it was clear Mom wasn’t going to tell her what had made her so upset.

Macro pointed up the cobblestone street.

“That way, maybe twenty minutes.  The holy city.”

Trixie missed her phone like burning.  Being without Google was worse than being without sunlight.

Still.  Marco answered her questions, as much as he could, and Trixie started to have a suspicion on why Mom had taken her to Italy.

“You know you shouldn’t believe everything you read, right?” Trixie asked Mom later, and Mom had smiled in a confused and benign way, like Trixie had said something adorable.

“I know, Monkey,” She said.  “Why?  Is something bothering you?  I’m sorry I was occupied all morning.”

“No, I’m fine,” Trixie told her, fiddling with her spoon.  Today’s apology gelato was mint chocolate, which meant she couldn’t share it with the dogs. 

“I’m sorry,” Mom repeated. 

Trixie wondered if the missed morning was really what Mom was apologizing for.

 

 

Mom was tense on the plane back to LA.  Tense as a bowstring with her jaw set and her shoulders squared, like heading back to LA was the equivalent of heading into battle.   Trixie wondered if it was because Mom would be going back to work.   Marcus had been Mom’s boss and, while Trixie still didn’t really understand why Mom had wanted to marry him in the first place, she understood that seeing reminders of people you cared about and lost was painful.  For weeks after her fight with Maze, seeing the knife gouges in the wall had made her heart twist.

Trixie hoped that was why Mom was so tense, and not because she was going to do something dumb.

When they got back to LA, Mom dropped her off with Dad.  Trixie spent the evening catching up with him (mostly, it was her showing him pictures of Italy), eating Thai food (Trixie had missed Thai food) and watching Disney movies.   It felt normal and comfortable; familiar.  

It was the day after that that Trixie got to enjoy the normal and familiar experience of sitting and waiting in the precinct.   The hazard of having law enforcement parents – Trixie had spent a lot of time being bored under florescent lights with the smell of old, bitter coffee in the air.

She flipped through her issue of Skyward.  She’d read it already but, between the art and the story, she didn’t mind reading it again.  She glanced up from a panel of Willa jumping between buildings as a familiar figure passed by.

“Maze?”

 

 

They reconciled, and hugged, and Maze’s arms around her were tight and sure and awesome.   Trixie thought Maze had maybe missed her as much as Trixie had missed Maze.  She wondered if, perhaps, Maze had even missed her more. 

They chatted for most of an hour – Maze, telling Trixie about the particularly interesting bounties she’d collected, and Trixie telling Maze about Italy.  The whole time they talked, Maze’s eyes had been soft and kind and greedily affectionate.  The brittleness and unhappiness from before were gone. 

Her friend, Maze, was back. 

It felt wonderful.

 

~*~

 

Maze’s arm was broken, and Trixie knew that she was in pain and pretending not to be.  When she snapped at the other grownups impatiently, Trixie put her hand on Maze’s hip and glared on her behalf.

“Trixie, why don’t you take Charlie and settle him down in his crib, okay?” Amenadiel asked her.

It was an obvious ploy to get her out of the room.

“You’re trying to get me out of the way so you can talk.  I want to know what’s happening.”  She turned to Maze.  “Who was in the apartment?  Why did we leave Mom behind?”

“Little human,” Maze said, her voice strained and rough.  “Your mother asked me to take you here.”

“Okay,” Trixie shot back.  “And who was in the apartment?  Was it Lucifer?”

Maze gave her a look that said, clearly, yes, and Trixie exhaled through her nose, looking at the other adults.  At Dad, who didn’t believe Lucifer was the devil and obviously didn’t like him besides, and at Amenadiel, who stared back with all of the placid implacability of an angel who threw off dozens of guards without breaking a sweat.

Trixie knew when she was outnumbered and gave Maze one more we’re talking about this later look before turning and allowing Linda to lead her out of the room.

Trixie didn’t really know Linda.  She was one of Mom’s friends and Lucifer’s therapist and Amenadiel’s girlfriend.  Trixie had more surrounding context for Linda than knowledge of the doctor herself, and, alone in the nursery, the look that Linda gave Trixie made Trixie think Linda also recognized that they didn’t really know each other.

“Here,” Linda said, scooping the gurgling baby up out of his crib.  His face was wet with spit and snot and Trixie could just imagine how Lucifer would have reacted to the sight.   The thought made her smile, and then her concern stole that smile off her face.

It had sounded like someone was fighting in the apartment.  Maze had come back with a broken arm – Maze, the demon, had come back with a broken arm, and had left Mom behind.  Maze wouldn’t have left Mom behind unguarded.  Between that and the reaction to her question, everything pointed at Lucifer having been there. 

So… Mom and Lucifer were fighting… something? 

Linda wiped Charlie’s face, and then taught her how to hold the baby, how to support his head and butt and turn her arms into a cradle.  Charlie blew a spit bubble, and Trixie grimaced.  Charlie was the first baby she’d met and, while Trixie could see how he was cute, she definitely felt like she understood Lucifer’s position better now.

“So, is Charlie an angel?”  Trixie asked dubiously as the spit bubble popped. 

Linda gave Trixie a startled look at that, which flickered into a squinty, hesitant expression.

“He’s my little angel, that’s for sure,” Linda said, smiling a fake, adult smile.   She wiped Charlie’s face again.

Trixie gave her a look.

“Why do you ask?”  Linda said, pushing her glasses up her nose with an index finger.

Trixie shrugged.

“Amenadiel’s his dad, right?  And Amenadiel’s an angel.”

The doctor gave her another suspicious look.

“What makes you say Amenadiel’s an angel?”

“He’s Lucifer’s brother,” Trixie said, eyebrows raised expectantly.  “And he guarded my mom that one time.”

Linda nodded and her face smoothed out, her shoulders relaxed.

“Right,” Linda said.  “Yes, of course.” 

Trixie couldn’t help but feel like something had just gone over her head. 

“Excuse me for just a sec,” Linda said.  “Are you okay with watching him for a moment?”

Trixie rocked the baby and gave Linda an unhappy look.

“I want to know what’s going on,” She said.

“I know you do.  I know that being kept out of the loop must be frustrating.  Your parents are just trying to keep you safe.”

Trixie glowered at the baby.  Charlie burbled back.

“I’ll be right back,” Linda said.  She ducked outside, closing the nursery door behind her. 

Trixie waited. 

Aaaaand waited. 

She wanted to put Charlie back in the crib but the sides were too high for her to lean down and place him in it.   And she didn’t want to drop him.   She wanted to crack open the door so she could listen to the conversation happening in the living room but didn’t have a free hand to turn the knob.   Maybe she could put Charlie on the floor…?

Through the layer of the diaper, there was a fresh wave of warmth against her forearm where she was supporting the baby.  A sudden stench filled the room.

“Oh,” Trixie said. “Oh no.  Oh no.”

She gently put Charlie on the floor and eased the door open, tiptoeing back to the living room.

Linda and Amenadiel were bent close to each other in conversation, speaking too quietly for her to hear.  Neither Maze nor Dad were anywhere in sight. 

In the nursery, Charlie made a plaintive, complaining sound that made both Linda and Amenadiel look up.

“I think the baby needs to be changed,” Trixie announced as she walked back into the room, pretending that she’d been on her way here anyway and hadn’t been sneaking around.  “Where’s Maze?”

“Your father took her to the hospital,” Amenadiel said.

“Dad left?  He didn’t even say goodbye.” 

“Oh sweetheart,” Linda said.  “He didn’t forget you.  Maze just needed urgent help, and he knew you were safe here.” 

Trixie wilted with disappointment.  She looked up at the bubble-wrapped ceiling fan, squinting in confusion before realizing it was for the angel baby.  She imagined baby Charlie sprouting wings and flying around the room.  Linda wasn’t much taller than Trixie was – that really must be inconvenient.

Linda patted her on the shoulder as she walked past to the nursery.

“I’m going to go catch up to your mother,” Amenadiel told Trixie.  “I’ll call you as soon as I get there, okay?”

Trixie nodded.  She wanted to argue but she could tell she wouldn’t win. 

Amenadiel left, and Trixie was left behind in a house she didn’t know with a woman she didn’t know, a smelly angel baby, and a wild amount of concern for (and no answer or information forthcoming about) her best friend, her Mom, and Lucifer.

Trixie was not happy.

 

 

The phone call with Mom unwound some of her tension – Mom was okay, at least – but Mom’s caginess and unwillingness to just tell Trixie what was happening  – was maddening.

Then, Linda shooed her out of the room to talk to Mom alone and it was, more or less, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

When Linda came back, Trixie yawned and shuffled her feet.

“Oh, I suppose it has been a long day all around, hasn’t it?” Linda asked kindly.  “Were you hungry?”

Trixie sort of was – it was past dinner time - and Linda must have seen it.

“Let me show you to the guest room,” Linda said.  “Would you like a quick lie-down while I make something for dinner?”

“Yeah,” Trixie said, playing up another yawn.  The guest room was painted a pale turquoise color.  There was a queen-sized bed, which looked awesome, and more importantly – there was a bedside table with drawers. 

“I’ll let you know what it’s ready.  Did you need anything?”

“Nope,” Trixie said, sitting on the bed and bouncing a bit. 

Linda lingered in the doorway and Trixie glanced up at her.

Linda merely gave her a fond little smile, though, and walked away.

It made Trixie feel kind of guilty about rifling through the table for a pen and paper as soon as the coast was clear.  She wrote a quick note and then carefully, quietly, made her way outside.

Free of the house, she ordered a ride to Lux.

 

 

Trixie walked past the long line of people waiting to get into the club.  A woman making out with her boyfriend hastily separated from him and tugged her silvery dress up, covering the nipple she’d exposed for his groping hand – shooting Trixie a horrified look while her boyfriend cackled.  Trixie rolled her eyes and kept walking to the front.   Grownups could be so gross sometimes.

“Hi Donald,” Trixie greeted the bouncer.

Donald extended his hand for a fist bump, which Trixie returned with a smile as he ushered her through to the club.

The music pulsed and throbbed and Trixie nodded her head along to it as she wound her way through to the elevator.  It was a busy night and the dance floor was full of adults in various states of sloppiness and cheer.   She managed to get through to the other side without having any drinks spilled on her or getting her toes stepped on.

The password on the elevator stumped her for a while until she tried Mom’s birthday.   The green light flashed acceptance and Trixie grinned victoriously, pressing the button for the penthouse floor. 

 

 

Chapter Text

For several long seconds, they simply stood and looked at the empty, ash-stained balcony.

“Where did… where…why?”  Chloe stammered. 

Amenadiel folded his hands and closed his eyes, brow knitting in concentration as he prayed.  Chloe pressed her hands together in front of her mouth – not praying, just watching Amenadiel with a feeling like her heart was relocating to her esophagus.

A minute passed and nothing changed.  Chloe realized she could be helping and closed her eyes too.

Lucifer!  She thought.  Lucifer, where are you?  Why did you leave?  Come back, Lucifer, please.  Please!  You can’t leave like this!

“Hmmm,” Amenadiel said, a rumble of sound.  “He’s not answering.”

Chloe lowered her hands and wrapped her arms across her chest tightly.  Her mind whirled.  Her stomach felt like it was trying to relocate south.

“Where would he have gone?” She asked. 

They considered the balcony.

“Maybe he didn’t see your note?   Maybe he went back to your home looking for you,” Amenadiel offered dubiously.

“Did he… could you tell if he went back to… Amenadiel, can you tell if he’s…?”

“In Hell?” He finished, saying the word contemplatively where Chloe was still having trouble bringing herself to say it at all.  “It’s… possible.  I suppose we’d better rule it out first.   Would you mind stepping back inside?”

Chloe stepped back to the other side of the balcony door.

Amenadiel spread his wings in a whoosh of displaced air.   The wings were wide and so darkly gray they were nearly black; a slightly different shape than Lucifer’s had been, and part of Chloe wondered at that.  Was it because Lucifer was an archangel? 

“One moment,” Amenadiel said.  He curled the wings and with a strong downward flap, vanished.

The rush of wind blew back Chloe’s bangs and kicked up the ash.  She blinked against it, coughing.

“Hmmm….” Amenadiel said, and Chloe blinked again.

“That was fast!” She said, still coughing.  “How long… how long were you down there?”  What was the time differential? 

“I couldn’t get through.”

“What?”

“Hell is… sealed, somehow.  I wasn’t able to pass through the barrier.”

What?”

Amenadiel was looking down at the balcony floor, frowning, and his attention was obviously lower than that.

“The membrane between Earth and Hell has… hardened, somehow.  It’s not allowing me entry.”

He looked up and flapped his wings again, disappearing in a new cloud of stirred-up ash.

“The Silver City is still open,” He said a second later, landing with yet another puff of sooty air.  “Ah, my apologies,” He added when Chloe retreated further inside, coughing.

“It’s fine,” She croaked.  She tried not to think about how she had bits of Hell lining her lungs.  Literal pieces of Hell.

“What does that mean?” Chloe asked once she could breathe clearly again.  “Amenadiel?”

The angel frowned.   The look he gave Chloe was pitying, and it terrified her.

“Okay,” Chloe said.  “So, maybe – maybe he's gone somewhere to try and figure out why the... the barrier...is closed.”

“Or,” Amenadiel said, kindly, gently, and it made Chloe's stomach sink into her shoes.  “Maybe he went back and figured out a way to seal the gates behind him.”   He walked back inside, closer to her.  “Demons still escaped even after he assumed rule, Chloe.  Maybe he figured out a way to stop them entirely.”

She pressed her fingers tightly to her lips.

“We don't know that,” She said, and it felt weak.

Amenadiel glanced back at the balcony, and then towards the empty bed.  A summary of 'he's gone someplace; he's clearly not here.  And if he's not here – where did he go?'

“He might just not've seen the note I left,” Chloe insisted.  “Could you check my apartment, Amenadiel?  Please?  Let's rule it out before we jump to conclusions.”

Amenadiel gave her another soft look that felt like swallowing acid.  He nodded and picked up Trixie's backpack again.

“I'll check the apartment and head back home.  I'll call you.”

The implication that he expected the apartment to be empty was blatant and hollowing.

He stepped back onto the balcony, spread his wings, and took off into the air.  For a moment, Chloe could follow his figure flying away but he quickly disappeared in the dark sky.  She genuinely wasn't sure if it was because he blended in or because of the unearthly properties of the wings meant he simply wasn't there anymore.  She dismissed it again, though; she really couldn't worry about metaphysics right now.

Alone in the penthouse, Chloe felt at odds. 

She didn't know what to do.  

She was really, really starting to dislike the feeling of being here alone.

She made a thorough sweep of the apartment one more time – just in case, just on the off chance, that Lucifer had... dusted off his wings on the balcony, maybe, and then wandered into one of his other rooms for a nap or something.

In his storage room, where he kept a workbench and tools (and she wondered at that.  What would Lucifer use these for?  Or were they Maze's?) she found cleaning supplies.  A vacuum, dustpan, broom, mop, Clorox wipes.  She couldn't say she was surprised Lucifer had a variety of choices in that department.  While she suspected there was a cleaning staff employed to tidy the penthouse, Lucifer was too particular and independent to completely rely on other people.  

She wondered at that, too.  His habit of order and cleanliness.  Human history hadn't been exactly hygienic until relatively recently.

She tried to imagine Lucifer mingling with people in the 10th century, and the image simply wouldn't form.  A posh, swaggering, 6'3” neat freak amongst humanity as it scrabbled at basic survival, rife with filth and disease and religion.

She would have to ask him about it when he got back.  What he'd done throughout the centuries; what he'd enjoyed, what he missed and didn't miss.  She would ask him all of the kinder questions that had gotten buried under the larger and more hurtful ones. 

“All those people you tortured.  Did you enjoy it?”

And his eyes had gone so shuttered when he'd replied:  “It was a job, Detective.  Something I was forced to do.”

He'd deflected the conversation with a joke, after that.  A pivot to not talk about the things that hurt him.  Hell, and what he'd had to do there, hurt him.

Chloe collected the vacuum and wipes and headed back to the balcony. 

The black marble flooring of the penthouse continued out onto the balcony.  Sleek black stone that obscured filth.   Chloe decided to work top-to-bottom.  Deal with the balcony railing, then the floor.

Cleaning the plexiglass, the ashy residue turned russet as it got wet.  The ash streaked it black but Chloe had been a cop for far too long not to recognize dried blood when she saw it.

She bit her lip and closed her eyes, counting to ten and waiting for the urge to break down to pass.   She kept cleaning.

 “Lucifer?”  Came a very familiar and very out-of-place voice from behind her, perhaps ten minutes later.  “Eve?”

Chloe looked up from the work and took a long breath.  She gathered up the used wipes into a gross ball and went back inside. 

“Mom!”  Trixie called, startled, and Chloe watched the surprised relief on her daughter’s face transform into a universal ‘oh shit’ expression of having been caught.

“Monkey,” Chloe said evenly, walking over to the bar and the trash bin hidden behind it.   She dropped her handful of spent rags and washed her hands in the sink, letting silence percolate.    Her daughter glanced around the apartment for a bit before shuffling over and taking a seat at the bar across from her.

“Is Lucifer here?  Or Eve?”  Trixie asked in a small, guilty voice.

Chloe dried her hands with the dish towel folded next to the sink.

“Trixie, we’ve talked about you running off.  You understand why you’re not allowed to do this, right?”

The girl’s small shoulders hunched defensively.

“No one would tell me anything,” She said, picking up a circular, black stone coaster and turning it over and over in her hands.

“That doesn’t mean it was okay for you to just leave.  I was trusting you to stay with Linda.  Did you even tell her you were leaving?”

“Yes,” Trixie mumbled.

“‘Yes’ you told her, or ‘yes’ you left a note for her to find and then panic about because, just like I was trusting you to stay with her, I was trusting her to watch you?”

Trixie looked miserable, squirming in her seat and fiddling with the coaster.   Chloe put the dish towel down.  She leaned across the bar and took the coaster from Trixie’s fingers, setting it aside.  She took her daughter’s hands in hers and gave her a squeeze.

“What would we do if something happened to you?  If someone stole you, or hurt you?  Do you understand how frightening it is for us when you run away?  Trixie, you can’t just leave without telling us!” 

Trixie wouldn’t meet her eyes and was trying to pull her hands back.  Chloe held on to her.

“Chloe!” Amenadiel called from the balcony, just as the borrowed phone in Chloe’s pocket started vibrating.  “Trixie has – ” He stepped in through the still open-door, folded his wings, and stopped dead, staring.

Both Chloe and Trixie had turned to watch him enter.

There was absolutely no doubt that Trixie had seen his wings. 

“Ummm,” Chloe said.   The phone in her pocket buzz… buzz… buzzed, and fell silent while Amenadiel and Chloe stood frozen and Trixie…

Trixie looked shamed, and beleaguered, and distraught.  And not like she’d just seen proof of divinity.   She pulled her hands out of Chloe’s shock-lax grip and slid off the barstool.

“I’m sorry I left,” Trixie said to Amenadiel.  She was looking at the floor, completely hangdog.   She stretched a hand out to Amenadiel, indicating the backpack still looped around his wrist, and he handed it over to her wordlessly.

Trixie gave the penthouse another quick glance.   She looked at Chloe, her cheeks still flushed from being scolded, and swallowed whatever she clearly wanted to ask.

“I’ll just… I’ll just do my homework, okay?”

Trixie shuffled to the couches and sat down, unzipping her backpack while shooting them both furtive, glum looks.

The part of Chloe’s mind that wasn’t static regretted yelling.  It wasn’t the kind of parent that she wanted to be.

Her heart broke a little at seeing Trixie upset, even as a quiet sort of anxiety seeped through her at the conversation that would have to happen to explain what Trixie had seen.

On the couch, Trixie looked up from pulling worksheets out of her notebook, a pencil in hand, lap braced with her folder.  She glanced back and forth at Chloe and Amenadiel, who were both just watching her.   Trixie frowned.

“I’m sorry, okay?  I won’t do it again.”

“Trixie?” Amenadiel asked gently.  “Are you alright?”

Trixie scrubbed her cheeks angrily. 

“I’m fine,” She said and buried her head in her notebook.

Amenadiel looked to Chloe for direction and Chloe could only shrug.  Amenadiel gave Trixie another considering assessment and then turned away from the girl, coming over to the bar to speak privately with Chloe.

“No sign of him,” He said quietly, and even though she’d mostly been expecting that news, it hurt to have that hope extinguished. 

Chloe drummed her fingers on the bar top.

“Okay.  Okay, we should put together a list of places where he might have gone.  The precinct, his other properties, Linda’s office, the beach – places he might go if he’s confused.  We should check Lux, too.   What time is it?” Chloe withdrew the borrowed phone and checked the time – evening; still prime club-going hours – and winced at the missed call from Linda. 

“I’m going to call Linda back,” Chloe said.  “Would you mind checking downstairs?”

He nodded, his dark eyes full of things he was too kind, in that moment, to say – about the uselessness of the lists, or that Lucifer wouldn’t be downstairs, or that it was a good thing that Lucifer had sealed himself into Hell.

Unbearable words. 

He didn’t say them. 

He crossed the floor of the penthouse and took the elevator down while Chloe called Linda.

“Chloe!” Linda greeted, a nervous burst of syllables.  “So, interesting story.  As it turns out, your daughter is just as clever as her parents and – ”

“And broke into my Uber account, snuck out, and came to Lux?”  Chloe finished wryly.   “Yeah, the little weasel is currently on the couch pretending to do her homework.”

Trixie glanced up over the edge of her notebook at that, and then dropped her eyes back down again.

“Oh good,” Linda said, her relief palpable.  “Amenadiel should be getting there soon, too.”

“He already arrived.”

“Really?  He just left!”

Chloe hummed an agreeing sound.  She walked around the bar and, watching Trixie, and the way Trixie was clearly listening to everything Chloe was saying, she headed out for the balcony, closing the door behind her as Trixie slammed her pencil down against her notebook in childish frustration.  

“Funny thing about Amenadiel’s arrival here,” Chloe said, watching Trixie’s clench-jawed profile through the glass.  “He got here after Trixie.”

“Okay?”

“And came in through the balcony.”

“Ah,” Linda said, putting it together.  “Wings and all?”

“Wings and all.”

A pause.

“How’s she taking it?” Linda asked gently.

Chloe blew out a blustering breath and turned to look out at the city glittering below.   Only about a third of the balcony railing was cleaned.  The glass was streaked and smeared where she’d started the section before Trixie came in.  It was a fortunate thing that the cover had been on the balcony’s hot tub, really - Chloe didn’t want to imagine what a pain it would be to clean Hell ash out of the jets.

“Not at all,” Chloe said.  “Not at all is how she’s taking it.”

“Sorry?”

“I mean, I scolded her for running out, again, and she’s upset that she’s in trouble, but she didn’t really react to seeing Amenadiel’s wings at all.”

A longer paused followed.  Long enough that Chloe prompted a response with a: “Linda?”

“Ah… well?”  Linda said.  “Here’s the thing.  I think she might have already known.”

“Excuse me?”

“She asked me if Charlie was an angel too, because his dad was an angel.”

Chloe’s grip on the phone tightened.

“What did you say?”

“Well I mean I didn’t tell her ‘yep, divinity is real.’  I asked her why she thought Amenadiel was an angel.  She told me he’d guarded you once and that he was Lucifer’s brother.”

“When did Amenadiel guard me?” Chloe asked.

“Not sure,” Linda said slowly.  “But regarding your daughter, I think the safe money is on the idea that that cat has been out of the bag for a while.”

“She didn’t tell me,” Chloe said, and it felt piercing in the same way it had felt piercing listening to her daughter talk about how scared she was in that group session at Starford Elementary. 

Trixie never used to keep secrets from her.   Her little monkey used to be an overflowing fountain of babbling observations and thoughts and feelings.   Chloe turned to look back inside and startled at seeing Trixie just on the other side of the glass doors, staring straight back at Chloe.   Her face was set in determined, scowling lines as she met Chloe’s eyes and audibly flipped the lock on the door.

“I want answers,” Trixie called through the glass.

“And now she’s locked me out of the penthouse,” Chloe told Linda, still making eye-contact with her daughter. 

“Huh.   Trixie is… what, nine years old?” Linda asked.

“Ten,” Chloe said, frowning, and Trixie frowned back at her impatiently.  “Why?”

“Just trying to figure out how long I can expect to wait before Charlie starts in on the rebellion.”

“Thanks, Linda,” Chloe said dryly.

“A word of advice?  Uncertainty causes anxiety.  Work with the facts you can give her – maybe avoiding the big theological discussions – you know your kid better than I do but that’s probably a bit much.  But that aside, the more you can explain to her, the more you can address and diffuse that anxiety.”

“Thanks, Linda,” Chloe repeated, sincerely this time.  “Alright, wish me luck.”

“Good luck!” Linda said, and there was, perhaps, a bit of laughter in her voice as the call disconnected.

Chloe regarded her daughter through the glass.  She was pretty sure Lucifer had a way to open all of the floor-to-ceiling plexiglass panels into an open air patio, but the mechanism to do so wasn’t obvious.

The balcony wrapped around two sides of the building.  There was another set of doors by Lucifer's bed.  Chloe could dart around to that side, past the hot tub and the potted plants and try that door - but what would that do, really, except make Trixie feel even more frightened and out of control?  If the doors were unlocked, it would make Trixie feel foolish and defensive when Chloe knew the girl had to already be feeling on tenuous footing.   If the doors were locked, would Trixie see the attempt as Chloe trying to keep Trixie from the truth?

Chloe thought about Linda's advice.

“He wasn’t in Lux,” Amenadiel said, dropping down next to her with a graceful sweep of his wings.  He folded them away in that mind-bending there-and-gone way that angels had.

Chloe gave Amenadiel a pointed look and then tipped her head at the balcony doors, drawing his attention to the pre-teen stubbornly staring back at them.

He gave Chloe an apologetic, sheepish look.  “The elevator was locked,” He said quietly.

“I really want answers,” Trixie said, crossing her arms. 

Chloe can see the glimmer in her daughter’s eye – the knowledge that there would be consequences for this act of defiance, and her determination to do it anyway.

She really had grown up so much.  Chloe wondered when it happened.  If there was anything she could have done to stop it.   She thought about a baby squeezing the silky texture of a stuffed elephant’s ears and it felt like surely not enough time had passed since then for Trixie to have changed this much.

Children are hideous little creatures.  Terrible, taxing burdens.   Oh, yours is fine.  I mean, you know, nothing to crow about, but nothing to be too embarrassed about either, so that’s quite good, isn’t it?

And, later, the admission:  I’m starting to respect the deceptive little parasite.

“Okay,” Chloe said.  “Open the door and we’ll talk.”

“Talk and I’ll open the door,” Trixie bartered back, and Chloe just gave her a look until Trixie folded, her small fingers turning the lock with just enough hesitance to give lie to her bravado.  Trixie stepped back towards the couches as Chloe opened the door.  Trixie planted herself, crossing her arms again and giving them both an expectant look.

“Where is Lucifer?  And Eve?  What happened at the apartment?  Who broke Maze’s arm?   Why are you here?”   The last was directed at Chloe and accompanied by a gesture at the penthouse.

“You don’t want to know about…?” Amenadiel started, and stopped, seeming to realize he was looking a gift horse in the mouth.

“We’re not sure where Lucifer is,” Chloe said, doing a better job of not ogling those equine chompers.  “We’re looking for him.   Eve left a little while ago.  I don’t know where she went, but she and Lucifer… broke up.  She doesn’t live here anymore.”

Her daughter’s brow wrinkled in a little moue of disappointment and confusion at that news, then smoothed back out in challenge.

“What happened to Maze?”

Chloe sighed.   She gestured for Trixie to follow her and took a seat on the couch by Trixie’s backpack, patting the spot beside her for her little monkey to sit.   Trixie folded her legs under herself as she obliged; the sort of pretzel position that young knees bent into thoughtlessly. 

“Lucifer had to go to… to a bad place for a while, to do something important, and when he came back, he was confused.  He didn’t recognize Maze.   He didn’t mean to hurt her – I think he just got very turned around.”

Trixie's expression softened with sympathy and concern.  A thought crossed her face.

“When you say ‘a bad place,’ do you mean Hell?”  Her voice sharpened.  “He didn’t die again, did he?” 

And –oh.   Wasn’t that an unexpected gut-punch of a question.

Trixie looked at Amenadiel suspiciously and Chloe wondered at that.  Amenadiel did, too, from the way his eyebrows raised in response.

“No, babe,” Chloe said, stating it with a certainty that she didn’t have.  Trixie frowned at her.  Chloe could practically see the gears turning in the little girl’s head.

Chloe made a decision.  A leap.

“Lucifer had to go back to Hell because bad demons, not demons like Maze, were coming up to Earth.”

“Chloe,” Amenadiel said softly, a ‘what are you doing’ and ‘are you sure about this’ implied.  She gave him a quelling glance.

“For us, that was four days ago.   For Lucifer, though, it was a lot longer than four days.  So when he came back, he was confused.”

Chloe,” Amenadiel repeated, pained.

Trixie chewed her lip and fussed with the leg of her jeans with plucking fingertips.   Chloe didn’t rush her. 

“Is it like Mars?” The girl asked abruptly, and Chloe blinked.

“Um?”

Trixie blew out a breath.

“Like how a year on Mars is 687 days,” She explained, and Chloe connected the conversational dots.

“I bit, I suppose.  Or maybe even like Jupiter or Saturn.”

Chloe looked at Amenadiel for a fact check but his expression was befuddled. 

“And now Lucifer’s missing,” Trixie said.

Chloe pressed her lips into a tight line and nodded.

“He is, Monkey.  We’re trying to find him.  So,” Chloe picked up Trixie’s hand, stilling the fingers that were plucking at her jeans, and gave her a squeeze.  “You and I are going to stay here tonight in case he comes back home.   Amenadiel is going to check a few places where he might have gone.”  Structure, Chloe thought.  Tangibles.  Facts.  “In the morning, you’re going to go to school.  After school, if we still haven’t found him, you can help us look, okay?”

“Okay,” Trixie said.  Her attention seemed fixed on her smaller, darker hand in Chloe’s.  Her fingers traced the lines of Chloe’s palm contemplatively. 

“Chloe, could I have a word?” Amenadiel asked.

Chloe eyed the balcony door.

“You’re not going to lock us out again, are you?” She asked Trixie, making her tone teasing and light.

Trixie shook her head, a brief smile flashing across her face.

“I’ll be right back.   Do your homework, babe,” Chloe said, pressing a kiss to Trixie’s hair before she stood up from the couch and walked, once more, outside onto the balcony.  Amenadiel followed her.  Chloe popped open the jar of wipes still sitting by the railing, figuring she could at least get some productive work done while Amenadiel criticized her parenting technique. 

“So when did you guard me?” Chloe asked, her back mostly to Amenadiel as she crouched and picked up where she’d left off in cleaning the glass.

“Pardon?”

Red-black smears followed the wake of her hand as she scrubbed.

“Trixie wanted to know if Charlie was an angel, because she knew you were an angel.  When Linda asked how she knew you were an angel, apparently part of the answer was that you guarded me.”

“Oh,” Amenadiel seemed taken aback.  He thought about it.  “A few times, actually, but she probably meant the first time we met.”

Chloe dropped the spent wipe and pulled another from the canister.  She raised an eyebrow at Amenadiel and he elaborated.

“When you were hospitalized for poison.  We needed to make sure you stayed put.”

“What?  Why?”

“Lucifer was in the room above you.  He needed to be close in order for… the effect you have on his invulnerability to be maintained.”

“But why would…?” Chloe trailed off as the pieces fell into place.

He didn’t die again, did he?

She sat back on her heels, letting her hand fall to her knee, fingers lax around the wipe. 

The plexiglass was filmy and streaked with cleaning solution where it wasn’t still ashy.  She’d have to go back through with window cleaner after she swept up the floor.

Below, a riot of car horns drifted up.  Traffic that the participants chose to comment on with passive-aggressive honking.  Faintly, the sound of yelling voices made it up to the balcony, then faded away. 

Chloe took a breath and clenched her fingers.   She resumed wiping away the blood and soot.

“Has she known since then?” Amenadiel asked, seeming to understand that she didn’t want to talk about her poisoning or the events surrounding it.

Chloe shook her head.

“Thinking about it?  I think she probably believed Lucifer the first day they met and he told her he was the Devil.  Just flat-out accepted it, and then why would anything since then have contradicted that belief?  It was true, after all.”

Chloe glanced back through the doors.  Trixie had opened her notebook again and actually looked like she was getting homework done.  No existential break-down over Lucifer or Hell or demons looked to be forthcoming.  Certainly, it didn’t look like she was planning to make a sprint for Rome.

Chloe’s jaw clenched with bitter remorse.  

She wished, badly, that she could have been like Trixie.  Accepted Lucifer at his word.  Believed him and cared for him anyway with that same sort of childish innocence.

It was an unrealistic expectation.  An unfair standard to hold herself to. 

Knowing it didn’t make that heavy knot of self-hatred and regret go away, though.

“Well that’s… good,” Amenadiel said tentatively, like he was trying the words on to see if they fit.

“Maybe?  I hope so, at any rate.  I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.  I can’t imagine she was bringing it up at school or I’d’ve been hit with parent-teacher calls way before now.”

She finished the last section of ashy railing and rose, her ankle popping in protest from the way she’d been resting her weight.   She winced and stretched, gathering up the spent rags.

“Will you check those places, Amenadiel?   The other houses he owns, Linda’s office…?”

He regarded her again with that quiet sort of pity; the implied certainty that Lucifer was in Hell.

“I’ll check,” Amenadiel acceded.  He looked back through the doors at Trixie.  “Are you sure you’re… okay here?”  He asked. 

“Yes,” Chloe answered - although, really, his question could have meant any number of things.  “Thank you, Amenadiel.”

He nodded to her, gave Trixie one more considering glance, and then spread his wings.   Chloe closed her eyes, prepared for the kick-up of wind and dust.  She heard the heavy flap of his wingbeats taking him up into the air, felt the breeze on her face.   When she opened her eyes, he was already gone.

Chloe brushed herself off and headed back inside. 

“Are you hungry, babe?” She asked, dropping the wipes in the trash and washing her hands at the bar again.

Trixie nodded. 

The leftover boxes in the fridge yielded up a pizza topped thickly with meat and cheese and peppers. 

“We should ask Maze to help,” Trixie said around a mouthful.  “She can find anyone.”

“She might not want to see Lucifer right now,” Chloe said gently.

“It was an accident, though.”

“Yes, I think it was,” Chloe sighed.  “It can’t hurt to ask.  It’s a good thought.”

After dinner, Chloe finished cleaning the balcony.   Trixie finished her homework and spread out on the couch to read.   The cover was dark and forbidding – “The Graveyard Book,” the title stated – but Trixie looked absorbed and happy as she read and Chloe left her to it.

In Lucifer’s closet, she found a truly ridiculous number of beautifully tailored suits.  Tucked shamefully in the back, though, there was a collection of softer, casual, unfashionable clothing.   Sweatpants and bathrobes and undershirts.  A few t-shirts, including the bright green Sol de Javier shirt that he had surprisingly kept.   She pulled it out with a pang of memory.   The fear of being trapped in that burning building.  Her awe and gratitude and worry when Lucifer had burned himself getting her out. 

Even back then, he’d been sacrificing himself for her. 

Chloe swallowed and took the shirt with her to serve as pajamas for Trixie, grabbing sweatpants and an undershirt for herself.  She changed the sheets on his bed, replacing black silk with gold.  

The black sheets had smell like him.  Chloe didn't think she'd be able to sleep - or keep her composure around Trixie - with his presence so thoroughly there and entirely absent. 

“Alright, munchkin.   Bedtime.”

The bathroom drawers yielded up spare toothbrushes and toothpaste (and condoms and lube and baggies of pills, which had Chloe quickly shutting the drawer before Trixie could investigate).

Checking the borrowed phone before turning in, there was a text from Linda that Amenadiel hadn’t found anything yet; that he’d keep checking in the morning.   Chloe sent back a quick note of thanks and tried not to feel despair. 

Chloe ignored the guest room.  She wanted to sleep in Lucifer’s bed, tonight, and so she did, turning the lights off and setting an alarm on the phone.   The note that she had written for Lucifer was still on the nightstand.   She turned it over, writing-side-down, with a trembling feeling in her stomach.  She pulled the covers up around herself and her daughter, settling into the sinfully comfortable bed.

Trixie curled up beside her, asleep in minutes.

It took Chloe longer to fall asleep, thoughts turning her problems over and over, trying to find new angles and leads.  Her fingers touched the bandage on her shoulder absently.  The skin beneath still felt tender.

When she did finally sleep, she slept deeply.

 

~*~

 

The sunlight coming in through the windows woke her slowly before her alarm went off.  She came awake gently and by degrees, aware first of Trixie beside her, and then the silk sheets against the exposed skin of her legs and arms.  The penthouse resolved itself in her vision.

She sighed and stretched and slid out of bed, careful not to wake her daughter.

She checked her phone and, seeing it was nearly time to wake up anyway, switched off the alarm.

A shower first, she thought, wincing at the reminder that Trixie had missed bath time last night.  Chloe just hadn’t wanted to leave her alone in there.  Too many cabinets and too much contraband for too-curious fingers to get into.  Chloe would have to kid-proof the place tonight.

She replayed that thought, realizing that she’d already decided to come back to Lux tonight.

But, well, the apartment was still a disaster.  Lucifer was still missing. 

And my goodness was the bed comfortable.

After she showered, she toweled off with his fluffy, expensive towels and changed into the bathrobe he had hanging on a hook. 

It felt right – making use of his space, his things.  Changing into his clothes and padding barefoot through his home, his smooth dark marble pleasantly cool and solid under her feet. 

The morning light softened his absence, somehow.  It let denial take a firm hold of her; let her put the burden of her fear and concern – not away, but at least to the side, at least for a moment.

She knew reality would reassert itself soon enough.  For now: coffee.

There was a faint crunch, crunch, crunch noise as she walked up the hallway to his kitchen.  A clink of metal on ceramic.

Chloe rushed the last few steps forward, heart in her throat, and came to a stop, seeing Maze seated at the island with a bowl of cereal.

“Sup,” The demon greeted. 

Maze’s arm was wrapped in a cast from shoulder to elbow.  The cast was, of course, black.  She had changed out of yesterday’s tight leather ensemble into a different tight leather ensemble; a curve-hugging top with delicate designs cut through the material, exposing hints of her skin beneath.  The island hid her from the waist-down but Chloe suspected there were leather pants to match.

Maze raked her eyes up and down Chloe, her scarred eyebrow rising in unspoken comment to the borrowed bathrobe.  

“Maze,” Chloe said.  “I didn’t hear you get in – when did you…?”

The demon shrugged her unencumbered shoulder.

“Midnight, ish.  Where’s Lucifer?”

The question was blunt and to-the-point.  Chloe pulled the robe more tightly closed around herself, crossing her arms across her chest. 

She missed the denial-bubble.

“We don’t know.”

Maze tilted her head in response, asking for more.

“Amenadiel was checking around to see if he could find him.”  Chloe pulled her fingers through her hair.  “After you left, Lucifer… snapped out of it.  We talked.  He showered.  It seemed like he was coming back to himself.  When we got to Lux, he was so exhausted that he just poured himself into bed.  I went downstairs just for a moment, just to get something from my car, and when I came back…”  Her voice choked.   She made a flitting gesture with her hands.

Maze drummed her fingers on the counter, lips pursed in thought.

Chloe swallowed.

“When Amenadiel tried to… to check and see if he’d gone back, you know.  Below.  He couldn’t get in.”

Maze’s dark eyes snapped up and sharpened on Chloe’s face.

“What do you mean?”

“He said the barrier was closed?  He thinks that Lucifer closed the gates behind himself, but,” She tugged on her bottom lip; a nervous fidget.  “I don’t think that’s true.  You remember how Lucifer was flicking in and out of existence when we walked into the apartment?  What if Hell was already closed and… and it evicted him, somehow.  Is that possible?”

Maze frowned.  She took a contemplative bite of her cereal.  The liquid drop clinging to the back of her spoon was clear.  Not milk.  It was probably vodka, if Chloe remembered Maze’s breakfast tastes correctly.

Maze chewed and swallowed slowly, her eyes flicking along the silvery veins in the marble as she thought.

“Maybe,” Maze said.  She glanced back up at Chloe.  “The thing you should understand, Decker, is that Hell answers to Lucifer.”

“Right,” Chloe frowned.  “He was in charge of the demons that lived there, right?  And the damned souls?”

Maze shook her head.

“Yes, also that, but that’s not what I meant.  I mean Hell answers to him.  Not just the inhabitants.  It’s why only an angel can rule, there.   I mean, presumably other angels would be able to control Hell like Lucifer.  But it’s not just…”  She blew out a breath, looking for the words.   Chloe didn’t interrupt, too keen on hearing what Maze would say.

“Hell isn’t just a place.  It’s more complicated than that.  It changes and grows.  It has moods.  I’m pretty sure it has thoughts of its own, too, the way it operated even when Lucifer was taking his vacations topside.” 

Maze spoke slowly, her eyes distant and fond – nostalgic, Chloe thought.

“When souls fall, Hell creates places for them to be punished.  Not Lucifer.  Hell.  When Lucifer was angry, Hell would burn.  When he was in a good mood, the new structures would form with… whimsy, I guess.  We would always find the doors in the strangest places.  And when Lucifer was depressed, well, Hell would freeze.”   She gave Chloe a pointed look.

“Oh,” Chloe said, a small, punched-out sound. 

There was a dark circle around Maze’s wrist.  Not a bruise, although the fingerprint shape of them made them look like bruises.   It was skin damaged from frostbite.  The wound on Chloe’s shoulder felt small in the face of those deep marks.

“So, there’s a… a, what, like a symbiotic relationship between them?” Chloe asked.

Maze wrinkled her nose. 

“Something like that, I guess.  He never really talked about it, but…”  Maze shook her head.  “The way he commanded Hell – you can’t imagine it, Decker.  How glorious he was when he flexed his power there.  There’s a reason we bowed down to him when he first showed up.  There’s a reason the hoard at the Mayan abandoned the fight the moment it looked like he was resuming the mantel.  Whatever the connection is between Lucifer and Hell, it’s profound.”

She regarded Chloe.  There was pity in her eyes; a mirror of the expression Amenadiel had given her and it hurt even more coming from Maze.

“I’m sorry, Decker, but I agree with Amenadiel.  If Lucifer’s gone and Hell is closed, it’s more likely that he figured out a way to close the barrier himself.”

Chloe shook her head.

“But what about what we saw at the apartment?”  She said, and the words felt weak as they left her mouth.

“I don’t know.  He was revved up for a fight, though.  He might’ve gotten into a tussle with one of the more powerful demons down there and gotten turned around.  He’s got a thick skull, but it’ll still ring like a gong if you hit it hard enough.   He might have just been disoriented.   And it would also explain why he attacked me.”

She shifted her cast arm, lips twisting with a flash of bitterness.

Chloe pressed her fingertips tightly to her lips.  She tapped them in an anxious little gesture. Breathed in.   Breathed out.  Thought about the evidence and whether or not it supported the conclusion.

On an exhale, she dropped her hand.  She tied her borrowed robe more tightly shut and ventured over to the complicated-looking coffee maker.

“I understand that that’s a strong possibility,” Chloe said, lifting the top panel to see if she could figure out where the coffee grounds should go, or if it already had beans in it, or...?  “I do.  I don’t like it, but I… I understand what you’re saying.  But it is still just one possible explanation.  We can’t rule out-!” She broke off on a startled gasp as Maze’s hand circled around in front of her, flipping a switch that made the convoluted machine grind and hum and bubble.   Chloe hadn’t heard Maze stand up.

Chloe rotated.  Maze took a step back to allow her to turn and crossed her arms, subtly supporting the cast.

“Hey, Decker.  I’ll still look for him, if that’s what you’re dancing around.  I just don’t want you getting your hopes up.”

Chloe swallowed.

“I’d really, really appreciate it, Maze.”

The demon nodded and went back to her seat at the island.

“Put a mug under that spout and then push that circular button at the bottom,” Maze said, picking up her spoon and taking another messy bite of cereal, her back to Chloe. 

Chloe rifled through the cabinets for a mug and followed the advice.  She was rewarded with a cup of coffee that steamed attractively and smelled sinfully rich.  She blew on the surface and took a sip.  Lucifer didn’t have milk in the fridge, almond or otherwise, and a quick search for sweetener found sugar and honey, more honey, and yet more honey, but nothing sugar-free. The coffee was smooth and flavorful, though, even without alteration.  She took another fortifying sip and sat down next to Maze at the island.

“Maze, what’s the difference in time?  Between Earth and…?”

Maze grunted. 

“Not sure, exactly.  Lucifer was the one who would pop back and forth between the two realms.  He’d have a better idea.  Best guess, though, from hearing him talk about his Earth trips is that it’s decades below for days above.”

“Decades,” Chloe repeated blankly.

Maze shrugged.  “Maybe as much as a century since he left.  It’s hard to say.”

And… the news was devastating, and not.  Chloe’s heart beat heavily in her chest at the confirmation of her suspicions but it did explain, in part, how Lucifer could have changed so much in the short time he’d been gone.  Time hadn’t been short for him at all.

If a day was all it had taken for Lucifer to change, bit by bit, into that bat-winged, Hellish version of himself – and then moments for that version of himself to change back into his more human guise that night of the masquerade…

What sort of changes could Lucifer put himself through when left alone for a century?

A century, in Hell, alone and miserable.

No wonder he’d been so cold.

 “Maze!” Trixie said, lighting up as she walked into the kitchen.  The Sol de Javier t-shirt stopped mid-thigh on the girl, the sleeves falling to her elbows. 

“Little human,” Maze said, bending forward across the island to offer her fist.   They exchanged their morbid secret handshake, thumbs miming a sliced throat, tongues out to the side.  The motion, on Maze’s side, was less fluid than usual, hampered as it was by the cast.

“Are you okay?” Trixie asked.

“Pfft.  This?   It’ll be off in a couple of days.”  She hefted her cast arm and dropped it dismissively. 

“That’s so cool.  It took Shaima months to get her cast off when she broke her arm.”

Maze shook her head.   “Humans,” She said, sniffing dismissively, and Trixie beamed back at her.

Chloe wondered how many interactions like this had happened right under her nose without her noticing.   

“Alright, weasel, we should head out soon.”  Chloe checked the clock above Lucifer’s oven.  “We’re going to grab some breakfast and then stop back home for a change of clothes, okay?  And then I’ll drop you off at school.”  She wanted to take another look at the damage to the apartment, too.  Chloe didn’t think the broken furniture and debris went further than the living room and kitchen.   Their bedrooms should both be fine.

“Can we get McDonalds?” Trixie asked optimistically.

Chloe gave her a narrow-eyed, scrutinizing look.  

“Yes,” She said, and interjected before Trixie could cheer.  “If.   If you can get your teeth brushed and your shoes on before Maze finishes her cereal.”

Maze obligingly tilted her bowl enough for Trixie to see that there were only a few spoonfuls left, and then exaggerated shoveling cereal into her mouth in rapid, scooping movements.

Trixie sprinted back down the hallway, her laughter bright and loud, and it loosened some of the tightness in Chloe’s chest.

Chloe may have lost Lucifer – and that thought was a wound, bleeding and grievous – but there were still plenty of things to be grateful for. 

 

~*~

 

The precinct was its normal bustle of organized chaos.  Officers and detectives, lab techs, IT and forensics, lawyers and their staff, and all of it set to the myriad background of people being processed or released or detained or questioned.  Chloe headed for Ella’s lab, wondering if the other woman would be back today or if she’d need more time off to process… everything.

“There you are!” Ella shouted as soon as Chloe walked through the door.  Chloe found herself seized in an unexpected hug.  “I was getting worried about you!”

“Oh, Ella, I’m sorry – my phone got, well, it’s an ex-phone,” Chloe said.  “I’m -”

“Using Amenadiel's,” Ella interrupted, nodding against Chloe's shoulder.  “I know.  I talked to Linda this morning.” 

The hug lingered.  Chloe, drawing the unavoidable conclusion that Linda had clued Ella in to the current situation with Lucifer, found herself hugging back tightly.

“There you go,” Ella said, feeling the change.   Ella stroked Chloe's back in silence.

“How are you doing, Ella?”  Chloe asked, wanting distance from what she was feeling.

“Oh, you know.  Visited my brother.  Watched some TV.  Spent a mostly sleepless night thinking through every interaction I’ve ever had with Lucifer and flopping back and forth between being terrified and delighted and just generally overwhelmed.”

Ella fidgeted in the hug and, when Chloe drew back, the other woman was wearing a worried, guilty expression.  Her eyes darted to meet Chloe’s gaze and skittered away, once, twice, again.  Chloe made a small, rueful sound that wasn’t quite a laugh.

“Ella, you can ask me questions.  It’s okay.  I was kind of expecting it.”

“You’re sure?”  Ella asked hopefully.  “I think I got the big stuff out of the way with Linda this morning.  She had an appointment after breakfast so we kinda cut it a bit short, but I do still have a few things I was wondering about.”

Chloe nodded and brushed a loose strand of hair back behind her ear.

Ella snatched a pen and yellow legal notepad off of the counter beside her microscope and started flipping through pages of writing.

“Okay,” Ella said, clicking the pen.  “Let’s talk superpowers.”

 

~*~

 

By the time Dan arrived at the precinct, Chloe had tackled most of a page of questions, answering what she was able to. 

Ella's curiosity had been scientific and enthusiastic, even as she had avoided certain topics – Lucifer’s relationship with Chloe, for one – with a kindness that was inherent to her.

Ella’s bright-eyed enthusiasm to understand Lucifer had hammered home, in some ways even more than the obvious, the simple truth that Lucifer wasn't human.  Not even anything as benign and uncomplicated as “not human,” either – he was Other.   Not of Earth.  Not a being that obeyed the fundamental laws of the physical universe. 

It hit Chloe in that same vulnerable mental place that Kinley had taken advantage of.  A crack in her faith where she doubted what she knew.

“So, if time moves slower in Hell, then that means he's maybe the oldest person in existence, right?  That's gotta be crazy!  Does he age at all?  Man, I wonder how long he's watched humanity?   Was he there when we were, like, inventing the wheel and domesticating wolves?”

“Am I interrupting?” Dan asked, tapping on the door to the forensics lab as he opened it.

“Dan!”  Chloe said, feeling like she was taking her first deep breath in quite a while.

Chloe hadn't expected Ella's questions to affect her.  She knew what Lucifer was.   Knew, and accepted him, and loved him.  She had thought she was past indecisiveness and doubt.  Having that anxiety rear its ugly head again made her feel guilty and inadequate, and ashamed.

She wanted to be past this.  Past the ugly, exploitative hooks that Kinley had sunk into her.  Chloe wanted to be better than this.

She wanted Lucifer to come back and for him to be his normal cocky, assured, charming, infuriating self, and for his affection and sincerity to make her sure of him again.  She wanted to love him without reservation.  Without that voice deep down inside her that reminded her that he was Satan, with all of the hushed fervor and fear of a truth learned in childhood and repeated, over and over, in the course of her life.

She wanted to be past it all, because she knew him.  Lucifer was...

In Hell, suffering, alone with the demons and the damned, with a gate that he had closed behind himself.  He loved her, but he hadn't even said goodbye this time. 

He was so important to her that his absence felt like a wound.  Despite the snarl of insecurities, she knew she wanted him back.

And, she reminded herself, what he was was missing.   Chloe wouldn't give up on him until there was proof that he was lost.

“No,” She said to Dan.  “No, you're not interrupting.”  She gave the sleeve of his jacket a stroke.   “Hey.”

“Hey,” He answered, nodding.  He met Chloe's eyes and they exchanged a non-verbal conversation – a mutual how are you holding up?  Fine, not-really-fine, but don't want to talk about it – exchange of people who had known each other for a long time. 

“I was going to take Trixie back to the penthouse this evening,” Chloe said.  “The apartment is still… well.  I’ll have time this weekend to deal with it.”

“What’s this?   What happened to your apartment?”  Ella asked.

“Ah.  I guess… maybe you didn’t get into that part of it with Linda.   Lucifer came back last night.”

“Is he coming in to work?”  Ella asked, voice pitched with intensity and excitement even as her gaze was still concerned.

Chloe shook her head.

“He’s… missing.  Again.   Vanished from Lux last night when I went downstairs with Amenadiel.  Amenadiel should be out checking his favorite haunts.  Maze is doing her bounty-hunter thing.  Hopefully, one of them will find him soon.  I may need to take off of work if that happens.”

“We’ll cover for you.  No worries,” Ella said earnestly. 

Chloe could feel Dan’s stare against her skin.  

Thankfully, he didn’t press her on it.

“Well,” Dan said, clapping his hands together, physically moving the topic aside.  “Any update on the victim?”

Ella looked back and forth between them.  She inhaled like she was going to ask more, but at the expression on Chloe’s face, the scientist relented.   Ella nodded at Dan.  

“Bennen is dragging his feet on the full autopsy but I do have clean photos on the tattoos if you want to start following up on that angle.   If you can figure out what was removed, it’d probably be a solid lead on the motive,” Ella said, setting down her notepad of questions.   She stepped away to pull open a manila folder sitting by her keyboard.   The photos peeking out from inside were colorful and gruesome; swirling tattoos and raw exposed muscle where the carved-out piece of skin was missing.

“Sounds good,” Dan said.  “I’ll start with the local shops if you want to check missing persons?”

“Yeah,” Chloe agreed.   “I’ll help you canvas if I don’t get any matches.  Okay.  Let’s get to work.”

 

~*~

 

Missing persons turned up nothing, but it may have just been because it had only been two days since the young man had been killed.  For some people, two days wasn’t long enough for an absence to register.

Chloe would keep an eye on the missing persons reports coming in just in case.

Any news?  She texted Maze.

I’ll let you know, Maze typed back.  A small rebuke not to bother the demon when she was working.

Chloe wanted to check in with Amenadiel as well but she suspected, phone or not, that Amenadiel would have found a way to tell her if he’d found Lucifer.

 

~*~

 

The day dragged on.   Chloe used her lunch break to get her phone replaced, heading out afterwards to help Dan canvas tattoo parlors.  The autopsy was completed; cause of death was as Ella had predicted – simple blood loss from the stab to the neck.  Forensics hadn’t been able to find any fingerprints or foreign human DNA on the body.   The victim himself hadn’t had prints in the system. 

The case was, frustratingly, stalled until they figured out who the victim was and what had been removed.

Chloe tried to imagine what she could have been doing differently.  What Lucifer would have done differently.  Her close rate with him had always been ridiculously high, but by the time the afternoon rolled around and she had to leave to get Trixie, Chloe hadn’t been able to think of any new approach.

Sometimes, that’s just how cases like this went.  It didn’t mean she had to be happy about it.

“Where are we going?” Trixie asked, perking up in the backseat.

“First, we’re going to Linda’s so that you can apologize,” Chloe said firmly.  And, also, so that she could give Amenadiel back his phone and check in with him.

Maybe, he’d found Lucifer.  Maybe Lucifer was deep in therapy with Linda and that was why Amenadiel hadn’t told her, or maybe –

No.  

No.

Chloe shut the thoughts down. 

“Do I have to?” Trixie asked in a small voice.

“You do, babe.  Linda was really worried about you.  You chose to make this happen, so you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.   After that, dinner, then the apartment so we can both pack a bag.  Are you okay with staying at Lux for a few nights?”

“Yes!” The girl agreed.

“Try to sound less happy about it, kiddo.  When the weekend rolls around I’m going to put you to work helping me clean up the apartment.  Staying at Lux is just temporary.”

“Oh,” Trixie said, deflating.  Probably, Chloe thought, because she was remembering how trashed the apartment had been when they stopped there this morning.  Trixie’s eyes couldn’t have been wider, taking in the mess of broken furniture and layered ash. 

 

~*~

 

Linda, because that was the sort of person that she was, insisted that they stay with them for dinner.

Chloe had taken notes on the kind-but-unyielding dressing down the therapist had given Trixie over her Uber stunt.  Linda was going to be quite the formidable mother once Charlie started pushing boundaries.    

Blushing with embarrassment, Trixie had offered kitchen assistance to make amends.

“She learned a lot in that month we spent in Italy,” Chloe said, a knee-jerk reaction of pride in her daughter, and then felt a pang at remembering the context around Trixie picking up those skills.

At least one of them had learned something actually useful during that vacation, she thought bitterly.

“Oh?” Linda asked, glancing between Chloe and Trixie.

“I know how to make pasta,” Trixie said, slowly perking back up.

“That sounds wonderful.  Will you show me how?” The therapist asked, and Trixie was delighted to oblige.

Watching them over the rim of the glass of wine Linda had poured for her, Chloe realized that Linda already knew how to make pasta.  She was playing along for Trixie’s sake. 

A formidable mother indeed.

The front door opened and Chloe peeled herself away from watching them work in the kitchen to go meet Amenadiel.

“Chloe,” He said.  “I thought that was your car out front.  Everything alright?”

“Debatable,” She said wryly.  “But nothing seems worse at any rate.  I take it you didn’t find him.”  It wasn’t a question.  Chloe could read it all over Amenadiel’s face.

She walked with him to the little playpen set up in the living room.   Charlie, in his nest of blankets and brand new silky toys, burbled happily.   Amenadiel scooped the infant up, cradling him against his large chest and softly rubbing his back.

“I’ve checked the other properties Luci owns in LA, but no sign of him being there recently.  There are a few places…outside of California that he’d spent a significant amount of time visiting over the years.  I think a few of the old castles are still standing.”

Amenadiel nuzzled against Charlie’s shoulder.  Charlie’s fingers pulled at Amenadiel’s ear, at the collar of his shirt.  Amenadiel bent his head to allow the abuse to continue.  

In the kitchen, the domestic sounds of lighter conversations and food preparation drifted over the silence that settled between Chloe and Amenadiel. 

Chloe’s throat felt stuck tight.

Castles. 

Because nothing close to home had yielded results.

Amenadiel wasn’t going to find Lucifer.  The truth of it sank into her with certainty.

Gently, Amenadiel put Charlie back down on the blankets.

“Shall we see if they need any help making dinner?”  He asked quietly, his body language telling her that it would be okay if she needed a moment.  That he understood what she had understood.

Chloe cleared her throat.

“Yeah,” She said roughly, smoothing her hands down her jeans.  “Yeah, I’ll be in in just a second.” 

Amenadiel nodded and left her in the living room, alone with a dozing baby and her unspeakably painful thoughts.

 

~*~

 

Stopping by the apartment after dinner, Chloe once more took in the destruction left by massive, flailing wings and a fight between a demon and an archangel.  She would start by the kitchen, she decided, and work her way towards the door.  Broken furniture first.  Clean up the glass so that Trixie could help – or, no, she didn’t want Trixie getting this ash in her lungs any more than necessary.  Maybe she would see if Dan was okay with taking her this weekend.

Chloe packed a bag with quick efficiency and double-checked Trixie’s before they left.

“You remembered socks this time, right?”  She teased.   Trixie snorted. 

The girl’s eyes wandered over the carnage as she came back out of her bedroom with her little suitcase.   Chloe could see those mental gears turning.  She watched Trixie processing details.  She wondered how much Trixie could figure out just from looking at the scene.  If she was detecting the progression of the fight like her parents would have, or if she was just mourning the loss of the comfy couch.

“What are you thinking, monkey?”  She asked.  Chloe had made too many assumptions as of late about what her daughter did and didn’t understand.

Trixie looked up at her. 

“I’m thinking that, once this is cleaned up, that wall should really be purple.  We’re still going to paint it, right?  You’re still going to let me choose the color?”

Chloe smiled.

“Yeah, babe.  Purple sounds wonderful.”

 

~*~

 

The valet at Lux gave Chloe a slightly disgruntled look when she insisted on parking herself in the underground garage, even as he waved her through.

Lucifer’s convertible was still there.  The spot she’d parked in before was still empty.  She parked there again, running her fingers along the cool, sleek metal of Lucifer’s car as she got out and walked around to the back of her car to get their luggage from the trunk.

In the elevator up, Chloe wondered if she should have just taken the hit to her savings and gone to a hotel instead, or tried to find a place to crash in Dan’s cramped, bachelor apartment.  The floors climbed and Chloe’s stomach sank.  She felt raw and exposed and didn’t want to see Lucifer’s empty penthouse right now.  She didn’t.  She shouldn’t have come here.

The doors slid open.

“Lucifer!”  Trixie shrieked delightedly, sprinting out of the elevator and over to the angel.

Lucifer had shaved off his beard.  He’d trimmed and straightened his hair.   The sight of him sitting at his bar in his bathrobe with a glass of scotch was so familiar it felt impossible. 

Trixie had no such emotional wreckage to contend with.  She was across the floor and grabbing his waist in a brief, fierce hug before Chloe had done more than stepped past the door of the elevator.

Lucifer lifted his hands up, staring down at Trixie’s pig-tailed bobs with obvious confusion.

“Spawn,” He said, lowering one hand to awkwardly pat Trixie’s shoulder.

“You’re back!”

Trixie drew back and scowled up at him.

“Maze is looking for you, you know,” Trixie warned darkly.

Lucifer visibly winced. 

“Is she, now?”  He said.  The words curled up at the end, his inflection and the way his voice broke achingly familiar and normal.

Chloe spotted the half-eaten strawberries sitting in a bowl in front of Lucifer and her heart clenched.

“Detective,” Lucifer greeted her, tentative and a little unsure, eyeing Chloe like she was unpredictable - and something inside Chloe… gave up.

“Where were you?”  Chloe demanded.  “Lucifer, where did you go?

The vision of him and her daughter blurred and Chloe scrubbed at her tears with angry impatience, tired, so very tired of being yanked emotionally from pillar to post.

Lucifer stood from the barstool and in a few short strides of his ridiculous long legs had her collected against him.

The bathrobe was soft against her cheek.  Chloe could feel that his skin was cool beneath it.  Not frozen, but a far cry from the warmth of their previous embraces.

Chloe clutched Lucifer tightly, immodestly, burying her face against his chest.   She bit her lips and balled her hands into fists in his lapels, not wanting to break down.  Not again.  Not with Trixie here. 

Lucifer settled his chin against the top of her head.   He rubbed her back in long, soothing strokes. 

“Shhh, love,” He murmured, a vibration against her skin.  “Shhh.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chloe shook in his arms; quiet, stifled sobs trickling out every now and then, like her shudders had jarred them loose.

Lucifer held her tightly, stroking her in what he hoped was a soothing way, murmuring nonsense to try and reassure her.

He was… confused.

She hadn’t been this distraught when he’d left.   Where had the urchin come from?  Had Amenadiel brought her?   Where, for that matter, had Amenadiel gone?

Lucifer rubbed his chin against the crown of Chloe’s head – he did enjoy being taller than her – and frowned over at his bed.   She’d left him a note that she was with Amenadiel and would be back.  Some time after Lucifer collapsed in bed and now, something had gone wrong.

The bed wasn’t quite how he’d left it.  He was sure he hadn’t made it before heading out to the balcony.  Had Chloe… what?  Left with Amenadiel, come back upstairs, made the bed while he was gone, and gone to get Trixie? 

“Shhhhh,” He said quietly, at a loss.  The puzzle pieces weren’t fitting together.

Beatrice’s hand on his thigh was light.  The tiniest of touches against Lucifer as she wrapped her mother up in the brunt of the hug.   Lucifer met the child’s eyes, exchanging a ‘now what’ sort of shared uncertainty.

At length, Chloe’s fists relaxed their grip on his bathrobe.  She drew a deep, unsteady breath, and another, and pushed at his chest lightly as she pulled back.

“You can’t keep doing this,” She said.  A breathy, fragile command, as she tugged is lapels back to order.

“Ah?” Lucifer said, a helpless, befuddled syllable.

“I came back and you were gone, Lucifer.  Where did you go?”

Lucifer flicked an uncertain glance down at the offspring.  The detective did get so cross when he was too blatantly himself around the child.  He considered his word choice.

“…I popped down to the beach for a moment.”

“The beach,” Chloe repeated.  Her hands stroked Beatrice’s hair like she didn’t realize she was doing it.  A self-soothing gesture that happened to involve her child’s head.

“I needed to check in on… well, how I’d left things.  I didn’t think I’d be gone for long.  Just a brief visit down and back – returned before you noticed I was missing.”

“So you did go back to Hell,” Chloe said, her distress still a vibrant, present thing.   The child peeked up at Lucifer expectantly, like she knew that if she was quiet, her mother might forget she that shouldn’t be privy to this conversation.  Unsettling, canny little minx.  Chloe’s stroking fingers had squashed one of her bobbed pigtails partially down her forehead, and the look the girl spared for the bangs creeping into her vision was long-suffering.

“Not exactly,” Lucifer hedged, stepping away from the two of them to allow a measure of conversational space. 

Chloe’s fingers stilled in Trixie’s hair.  She swallowed, hard, and exhaled deliberately.  She cleared her throat.

“So,” She said, moving her hand to Trixie’s shoulder instead.  “We missed bath time last night.  How hard would it be to kid-proof your bathroom?”

The abrupt change in topic made Lucifer blink. 

“What does kid-proofing entail, exactly?”

“She means hide the fun stuff,” Maze said.

“Maze!” The child shouted.  She darted around Lucifer and back to the bar where the demon sat, Lucifer’s abandoned glass of scotch in hand, chewing what he strongly suspected to be one of his strawberries.

The demon’s arms were exposed by the leather tank top she wore.  The cast, wrapping her right arm from shoulder to elbow, and the dark, discolored bruises marring her skin were loudly on display, like a challenge.

The smile that she sent to Lucifer when he turned – that, too, was a challenge; all lowered brow and glinting teeth.

Maze embraced the child with her good arm as she closed the distance, not once looking away from Lucifer.

Lucifer took in the wounds he had inflicted, wincing in particular at the handprints. 

“Lucifer,” Maze said evenly.

“Mazikeen,” He returned, trying to feel out whether or not retaliatory violence was incoming.   Maze usually preferred subtler revenge but she was also unpredictable.

“Say you’re sorry,” The urchin prompted him when the silence stretched.  Maze’s fingers tightened approvingly on the girl’s shoulder.

 Lucifer cleared his throat and inclined his head.

“Yes.  Well.  You have my sincere apologies, Maze.  I… wasn’t quite myself.”

The demon scoffed.

“You’re lucky I was trying not to kill you or that fight would have ended very differently.”

“I’ve no doubt,” He agreed easily.

Maze stood from the barstool.

“Alright.  I know where he hides things.  Honestly, Decker, it’s a good thing you worked homicide and not narcotics or you two never would have gotten off the ground.”

“Probably,” Chloe agreed with a wet-sounding laugh.

Maze looked between Chloe and Lucifer, her tongue pressing against her lower lip.

“Trix, why don’t we let these two…catch up.”  She smirked.

Trixie let Maze escort her down the hall without protest, shooting Lucifer a beaming smile before she left that Lucifer wasn’t quite sure what to do with.  He was never quite sure what to do with Beatrice’s no-strings-attached affection.

In the silence that followed, Lucifer again regarded the detective.

Her shoulders were squared.  She brushed back strands of hair that escaped her ponytail as she, too, regarded him.  Her chin was firmed and gaze was steady.

Were it not for the way her hands trembled slightly and the lingering shine of tears in her eyes, Lucifer would have believed that she was calm and collected.

That discrepancy between posture and projection - it reminded him of how she’d behaved when she’d been poisoned.  Or how she’d been when she’d returned from Rome.

The detective was pretending to be fine – quite believably – but not fine at all.  Not remotely.

“Detective?” He asked.  “What is it?  What’s wrong?”

Her eyes flashed with hurt and disbelief.  A flare of nostrils as she fought to control an angry response.  He braced for whatever she was about to say.

“How can you ask me that?  Lucifer, you just – you just vanished on us.  Amenadiel and Maze were both out looking for you, both telling me you’d sealed Hell behind yourself, and I-”

“I’m sorry, what?” He interrupted. 

She crossed her arms.  Perhaps to hide how her hands shook, but the posture was closed off in a way that made him want to apologize. 

“Amenadiel tried to go to Hell to find you when we came back upstairs and you were gone.  He couldn’t get in.”

“Ah,” Lucifer said.  So it wasn’t just him, then.  But – what did that mean?

His heart gave a small, hopeful pulse, and he pressed confused fingers flat against his chest. 

“Lucifer?  Talk to me, please.  Why did you leave?”

Lucifer shook his head – not a ‘no,’ so much as a request for a moment to collect himself.   Again, after this period of dormancy, the sensation of blood moving in his veins was so odd – a feeling he’d surely never paid attention to when it was regularly occurring, and yet he couldn’t imagine how he’d ever failed to notice it.  It was terribly distracting.

He licked his lips and focused on the conversation.

“I popped out for a moment to try and figure out why Hell wasn’t letting me in.  I didn’t seal Hell.   I-” He huffed a laugh that was laced with bitterness.  “I appear to have been banished.”  He looked up towards the ceiling.  He shook his head.  “But you said Amenadiel also couldn’t get in?”

“No, he couldn’t,” She confirmed.  Her eyes darted down to the hand on his chest and back up to his eyes, an expression of curious hope blooming on her face.

Well then.  Apparently she had noticed his lack of a pulse.  Lucifer released his chest and brought his hands together in a prayer gesture.  He concentrated his thoughts on Amenadiel.

Brother, if you could tear yourself away from changing semi-divine diapers and come back, I could use your input.

He cocked his head and, despite the heaviness of the situation, grinned when Amenadiel answered back with:  LUCIFER.  WHERE ARE YOU.

My penthouse.

Honestly.

Lucifer dropped his hands and opened his eyes.  His right wing itched – probably in protest to being put away still damp.  He rolled his shoulder to try and settle it.

“Amenadiel’s on his way, then?” Chloe asked, putting it together easily.

He nodded and pointed to the balcony just as his brother landed.  Chloe’s eyes widened.

“I really need to ask you about how your wings work someday,” She muttered. 

“Quite quickly,” He replied, rubbing his chest again.  His pulse was a staggering, stuttering thing.  Arrhythmic and lurching in a way that kept grabbing his attention, but it did feel like it was on its way to coming back online, so to speak.  He sighed in quiet relief and stepped back to the bar, picking up the scotch glass that Maze had set back down and refilling it.

“Luci… you’re looking… better,” Amenadiel said.  Lucifer snorted.  It’d’ve been a hard cry to have looked any worse.

“Where did you go?” Amenadiel continued.  Lucifer frowned, taking a sip.

“Down to the beach.   There’s a breach point where I came through with Mazikeen.  I thought the barrier might be weaker there – that I could get back into Hell and see what was wrong.  I was partially right.  There was a weak spot there.   Hell closed it when I tried to pry it open, though.”

“Is that where you were?   Trying to open that weak spot?” Chloe asked.

He nodded, giving her an apologetic look.

“I’m sorry, love.  I was planning to be back before you knew I was gone.”  He looked out through the balcony and at the night sky.

The balcony.

The niggling ‘something is out of place’ feeling flipped into realization.

He’d left it a mess when he’d brought out his wings.  Someone had cleaned it since then. 

He looked at Chloe and at the hands she still had wrapped tightly around her middle.  At her paleness and… and the change of clothes.  That hadn’t been what she’d been wearing when she’d brought him here.  He was sure of it.  So, either he’d slept an entire day away, or more, or -

“How long was I gone?”  He blurted, feeling a sinking sensation; a certainty and a tight sort of shamefulness that he’d lost more than just a moment at the bottom of the ocean.

“You came back yesterday,” Chloe said.  “We drove back to Lux.  You fell asleep.  I went down to your garage with Amenadiel for – it couldn’t have been more than five minutes – and when we came back upstairs, you were gone.  You’ve been missing for a day.”

Lucifer closed his eyes.  His heart gave a few more tremulous, messy thumps and fell silent once more.  He rubbed his chest again.

“I… I didn’t think I’d been gone for more than half an hour,” He said.  He inhaled.  Exhaled.  He was having to think about doing that again, too.  A day.  An entire day.  

In his hand, the top of the scotch was separating into ice as it froze.  He set the glass quickly down and stepped away from the bar, drawing his bathrobe closed tighter around himself.

“If you were trying to open the barrier, perhaps you were close enough to Hell that it altered time,” Amenadiel suggested. 

“Perhaps,” He said.  The word came out in a rasp.

“Lucifer?”

Lucifer cleared his throat.  He sent her a smile that he knew didn’t reach his eyes.

“So,” He said, pushing the conversation forward.  “Hell isn’t letting us in.  I had thought it had merely thrown me out, but Amenadiel, if you can’t get in either, this is… this is a problem.”

“Are human souls still passing through?” Amenadiel asked.

Lucifer could only shrug.  He had no idea.  If souls were Hell-bound and couldn’t get in, what was happening to them instead?  Were they spilling into purgatory?  Or lingering, incorporeal, on Earth? 

“What a mess,” He said, rubbing his tired eyes.   Why had Hell shut him out?  Lucifer flexed the fingers that had been snapped in the rat-trap vigor of Hell closing that lingering scar of an opening.  His fingers didn’t hurt anymore.  Surreptitiously glancing at his hand, the wounds on his palm were gone as well.  A day, she’d said.  An entire day spent on Earth, wasted

The marble under his feet made a small, protesting sound of constriction as cold seeped into it.  Lucifer started pacing to hopefully distribute the effect he was having. 

Stop it! He thought harshly, disgust and shame and hatred at himself rearing up like a tidal wave. 

He remembered Linda - bed-bound in a hospital again, although for far less dire reasons this time.  Her compassion and concern that Lucifer had tried so hard to brush away, to make it not true, when she’d told him that he wasn’t as cured as he’d thought.

The itchy feeling in his right wing sharpened.  Something tugged at a clump of his feathers and he flared his wings wide in impatient irritation, trying to shake both the itch and the deeper feeling of being caged.

Something small, round, and hard went flying, clattering on the marble and skidding to stop not far from Chloe.  

For a moment, all three of them stopped and stared at the little thing.  Chloe bent and picked it up.

“Ouch!” She yelped, dropping it again with a hollow ‘click.’  She flapped out her fingers.

“Detective?” He was at her side in a moment, picking up…

“Is that a snail?” Amenadiel asked, head cocked.

It was a snail.  A little sea snail; roughly the size his thumbnail, cream-colored, and very very dead.  He turned it over in his fingers, wondering how it had caused the detective injury - if the shell had maybe cracked into a sharp edge when it had hit the floor.  It looked intact, though.

“Lucifer,” Chloe said, her breath a white cloud.

“Oh,” He said.  He couldn’t feel it, but the shell must be as cold as the rest of him.  His wings wilted low behind him.  “Um?”  He cast around until his eyes landed on the bed.  He tucked the snail into the pocket of his bathrobe and ascended the short stairs separating his sleeping quarters from the main sprawl of the penthouse.  The blanket was cumbersome and really far too large to wear like this, but he pulled it off and wrapped up in it anyway, willing his wings to be intangible as he bundled, trying to keep the cold to himself.

He pretended not to see the glances the detective and Amenadiel exchanged.

Lucifer wanted a cigarette. 

He looked over towards the bar where he kept his fags and lighter but the logistics of it, while wrapped up like a winged burrito, eluded him. 

He sighed and sat down heavily on the end of the stripped bed.   His bare feet, poking out of the bottom of the black blanket, looked so pale they were nearly white.  Apparently he’d lost his tan in Hell as well. 

“Can you still get into Heaven?” Lucifer asked, pretending for all he was worth like nothing had happened.

“Yeah,” Amenadiel said slowly.  “I thought about that – there’s nothing wrong with the Silver City’s barrier.  Luci… what happened in Hell after I left?”

Lucifer had to think about it to remember when Amenadiel had visited.  His memory of the event was foggy.  He hadn’t really been paying attention to the other angel – too afraid that something Amenadiel would say would sway his resolve. 

“Nothing of consequence.  Nothing that would cause… this.”   He could feel the weight of Chloe’s gaze on him and couldn’t meet her eyes.  “A group of demons organized an ambush.  I… won.  Dealt with them.”  He flexed his blade-sharp primary feathers self-consciously.  “When that was done, I went back to my throne.  I was there for… a while.  When Tetoros disobeyed and fled to Earth, I… retrieved him.  Brought him back to Hell.  Made a bit of an example of him.”  Lucifer dared a glance up.  Chloe’s pupils dilated.  She understood.  She knew

Lucifer drew in an unsteady breath and looked away again.  The skin beneath his feathers felt tender; his damp wings felt heavy and awkward behind him.  Proof of his angelic nature, like it could balance out the things he wasn’t quite confessing to.  He should put them away, really.  They were probably bleeding cold out into the room, negating his insulating blanket.

But they were damp and felt oddly sore.  Maybe the moisture in his feathers was freezing.

He pulled the blanket tightly closed around himself and folded his wings close to his back. 

“After that… I… Well, I…” 

Lucifer searched for the words.  How to explain?  

How to explain to them, to these people he cared about who inexplicably cared about him too, that he had made himself as close to nothing as he possibly could?  That seeing Chloe again had cracked him open and had forced him to remember everything he’d left behind and how badly it hurt?

Lucifer had wanted to be nothing rather than to feel it.  The cowardice of it closed his throat.

He looked at Chloe.

No.  No, he couldn’t tell her this.  She shouldn’t know. 

“I monitored the realm,” He settled on instead.  It was more or less true.  He shifted his uncomfortable wings, stretching out the carpels.  It didn’t help.  The blanket rubbed along the stretch of skin where the wings became tangible again.  “Until, sometime later, Hell alerted me to an irregularity in the barrier.  At the time, I had thought it to be another demon crossing to Earth.  I followed that path out to your apartment.”   He trailed off.  He remembered the oddness of Hell’s behavior right before it happened –its sentience pressing tightly against him before it made him aware of the ‘breach.’

That thought he’d had in the shower circled back to him.  Had Hell knowingly, deliberately, lured Lucifer away and sealed itself off to prevent him from coming back?

Evidence strongly pointed at that being the case.  His gut feeling said that Hell had done it intentionally and out of kindness, but Lucifer wanted it to be true too badly to believe it.  Hell had never shown that level of emotion before.  Sentience, yes.   Compassion, though?  

Lucifer thought of his throne, carved from the very spot he’d landed.  Beneath the agony and shock and anger of his Fall, he remembered the rumble and vibration of Hell pushing up that plateau to give him shelter while he healed.

He thought about the way Hell had held him, then let him go, as Lucifer had flown away.

Lucifer swallowed.

Why had he never noticed that Hell had cared about him?

“You don’t think another demon came through?” Amenadiel asked, distracting him from his spiraling thoughts.

Lucifer shook his head, setting that revelation to the side to think about later.

“I don’t think, so, no.  No, I’m sure one didn’t.  The hole didn’t…” The blanket rustled as he tried to gesture with one hand.  “The puncture had a different feel to it.”  He dipped his head to rub his face against the blanket.  He took a breath and squared himself.  “We need to know if Hell is just keeping us out or if it’s still keeping demons in.  And if it’s still allowing damned souls to enter.  You know the Silver City better than I do, brother.  Who mans the gate, now?  Who accounts for human souls that reject forgiveness?  Or – of course.  Rae can probably tell us if souls are still being let in downstairs.”

“Ray?” Chloe asked.

“Yes, of course,” Amenadiel agreed, visibly pleased with the suggestion.  He folded his hands to speak to her.

“Azrael.  The angel of death,” Lucifer explained to Chloe.

“And your favorite sister, right, Lu?” She said, materializing in the penthouse with a flutter of invisible wings.  “Chloe Decker!” She greeted, beaming widely.  “It’s so nice to finally meet you!  I mean, officially.  Like when you can see me, too.”

“Uhhhhm,” The detective bit her lip and narrowed her eyes at that, clearly thrown by the comment.  She offered Rae a tentative smile.  “Thank you,” She said.  Azreal's own smile grew wide with smug pleasure.

It faded when she stepped forward enough to get a proper look at Lucifer through the arched doorway leading up to his bed.

“Woah, bro, what happened to you?” Rae cocked her head at him, sending her cropped hair swaying. 

“It’s been a somewhat rough… five days,” Lucifer said. 

“Mhm,” Azrael hummed.  A judgmental sound accompanied by wide-eyes and a head-to-toe appraisal of his blanketed self.  Her eyes lingered on his wings long enough for him to feel self-conscious about them.  He shifted them closer to his body, annoyed with the way they continued to ache.  

“Sister, have you had any problems with Hell?” Amenadiel asked. 

“What, like, as a concept?” She asked, frowning, abandoning her perusal of him to turn to Amenadiel.  “I mean, Dad’s will and all,” She shrugged and looked back up at Lucifer.  “But I do have some notes if you’re looking for suggestions.”

“I appear to have been banished from the realm,” Lucifer said, as neutrally as he could.  “Both of us have been,” He added, nodding at Amenadiel.

“Wait, what?  When?  Why?”

“All great questions,” He said wryly.  He tugged the blanket closer. “Of which the only one I can answer definitively is: yesterday, Earth-time.”

“Huh,” Rae replied, somewhat unhelpfully.  Lucifer sent Chloe a glance – a ‘you see what I’m working with?’ look that sprang up out of habit.  Her eyes crinkled briefly in amusement before she turned her attention back to Rae. 

 “So… as the angel of death, do you…?  Kill people?  Are you like the grim reaper, or…?”  She spread her fingers, looking for words.   She was shivering slightly, even standing by the bar a good distance from him.  Lucifer hunched in on himself more and tried to think warm thoughts.

The homicide with the surfer, he thought.  Sprawled in beach chairs with the Detective, drinking champagne under the bright sun as she fanned herself with the ‘no surfing’ sign that had led them to the murderer.   A truly satisfying compromise between work and play that Lucifer had kept tucked close to his heart for days afterwards.

“Uh-uh,” Rae said, shaking her head.  “Nope, no killing here.  My job is just to make sure confused souls get to where they’re meant to go.  And I’ve got to say, I haven’t had any problems with Hell.  Since yesterday, there’ve been, what, like 80,000 Hell-bound souls?  Granted there were only a few dozen that I had to escort there directly, but they slid right in.”

“Well that’s… good,” Chloe said slowly.  “80 thousand?  Really?”

Rae shrugged. 

“There’s a lot of you,” She said.

Chloe blinked.  Recalibrating, Lucifer thought, to the fact that you, in this context, meant humans, of which I am not one.

“It is good, though,” Lucifer said.  “It means souls aren’t just floating around willy-nilly. Good to rule that out, but our biggest problem at the moment is whether or not demons can still leave.  It’s why I bloody left here in the first place.  Sister, is Hell still open to you?”

She cocked her head and opened her wings, sending the edges of her robes fluttering.  The detective shivered harder at the gust of air.  In a downward stroke, Azrael disappeared. 

Between one breath and the next, she was back.

Lucifer sighed.

“You too, then?”

“Hmm?  No, no I was able to get in,” Rae contradicted him.  

Lucifer leaned forward.  The blanket slipped off his shoulders a bit, sliding on the silk of his bathrobe.

“And?”

Rae shrugged.

“It’s Hell.  Seems a lot colder and darker than it was the last time I was down there, but if you were expecting chaos, that’s… not the case.”

“How were you able to get through the barrier, though?” Amenadial asked.  “I can understand…” He looked at Lucifer and, at Lucifer’s raised eyebrow, didn’t finish the sentence.  “But why would I also be unable to cross?”

“Perhaps Hell has discovered taste and has found neither of us to its liking,” Lucifer said primly.

Baking in the sun, he thought.  Waking up blistered and peeling in the desert with my wings returned.  Heat that baked the very rocks to cracking. 

He had no idea if the warm thoughts were doing anything to improve his predicament.  He couldn’t feel the difference one way or the other. 

Warmer, he thought, and turned to his wrathful centuries in Hell, when the lava pools boiled and roared; Hell answering him in perfect echo to his desires, as it always had. 

He shied away from those memories.

His wings ached.  He shifted them again.

“Er, maybe?” Azrael said.  “But I’m probably not using the same, uh, door, that you guys are using.”  She spread her hands apologetically.  “Perks of the job.  I’ve always been able to get in and out without going through, you know?  Especially these days, what with people being resuscitated so frequently.”

“That… sounds really good,” Chloe said.  She looked at Lucifer and the hope in her eyes made him feel small.  “Is there a way you can slide in and… I don’t know, ask a demon to try and pop out to Earth?  Because – Lucifer,” She stepped closer to the stairs, to him.  “Lucifer, this might mean you can stay.”

He swallowed, hard.

“Uh?  I guess?  I don’t really, you know, know any of them?” Azrael dithered. 

“Ask for Palaluk,” Maze said.  Lucifer leaned forward far enough to see her sitting at the end of the bar.  He wasn’t sure when, exactly, she had joined the conversation, or how she had gotten to that end of the penthouse without him noticing.  “She wasn’t part of the contingent that came upstairs before.  Terrible fighter and a total suck-up.”

“Ah,” Lucifer said.  “Not… viable.  She was part of an ambush against me.”

A beat of silence followed that.

“Krinken?” Maze suggested.

He shook his head.

“Belarl?  I know she came upstairs with the others but-”

“No,” Lucifer said.  Lucifer carefully regarded the polished marble floor between Chloe and Amenadiel. 

“Lu…” Azrael said softly, compassion and horror laced in equal measure. 

Lucifer pulled his wings tighter to his body and felt something give way, like rotted threads of a canvas being ripped.

Dull white feathers and the thin, dusty skin beneath sloughed off his wings in tattered piles on either side of him, leaving red, leathery flesh behind.  He gasped and folded the wings out of the physical plane in a flash, able to feel the sinewy separation of more bits and pieces falling off as they transitioned out.  The sensation was heavily muted with them put away but he knew.  He knew they had returned to a twisted, monstrous mockery of wings. 

 “Lucifer,” The detective said, thick with concern. 

He couldn’t look at her.  He couldn’t do this. 

The crumpled, gray shedding of skin and feathers in the corner of his eyes made him feel sick.   He threw the blanket off of himself, covering the hideous mess on the bed. 

He was down the stairs and past Azrael, past Amenadiel and Chloe and snatching up his cigarettes from the bar in an instant.  Maze handed him the lighter and stood from the barstool when he kept right on walking to the balcony.

“Give him a minute,” The demon hissed at - he wasn’t sure whom.  At whomever it was that had tried to follow him.  Gratitude flooded him but he didn’t look back.

The balcony had a faint, chemical lemony smell.  He frowned as he put a cigarette to his lips and flick, flick, flicked the lighter, and then remembered that Chloe must have cleaned away the filth of ash and blood he’d left in his wake.  Yesterday.

He thought of her touching that mess and it curdled his stomach.

Flick, flick, flick, but the flame refused to stay.  The lighter felt heavy – it wasn’t out of fluid.  It was him and his unnatural cold killing the flame before he could put it to use.

Furious and upset, he hauled back and threw the lighter as hard as he could, feeling a vicious thrill of satisfaction watching the arc of it disappear into the night.  He snatched the cigarette away from his lips and tossed it to the balcony floor.  He braced his hands against the balcony railing and lowered his head, trying not to grab the rail too hard; trying just to breathe.

Ironically, the air burning in and out of his lungs didn’t stop feeling necessary, even when he thought about it.  Even when he’d rather be still.  Of course not.  Why should any of this be easy?

He wanted to fly away.  Head to his house in Malibu, maybe – the one with the rooftop garden and a cache of very strong drugs.  The impulse was there, to flee, but he knew they were watching him through the glass doors.   The idea of pulling out his twisting wings – of using the ugly things, of having them seen – it repulsed him.  

Lucifer breathed.

A minute passed. 

Another, and then the balcony door quietly opened and closed.  He hunched his shoulders defensively and didn’t look up.  He barely heard the footsteps.  Maze, then.

“Huh.  You’re not as cold anymore,” The demon said.  She leaned against the balcony a few feet away from him. 

Still cold enough to extinguish a flame, He wanted to disagree.  Or perhaps: Nothing like self-hatred to get the internal generators running.  He wanted to snap the words out in a venomous lash. 

It felt like too much effort, though, and he doubted Maze would do more than raise an eyebrow at him for his temper. 

Instead, quietly, he said: “Had I not brought you with me when I abdicated, perhaps you’d’ve been one more demon I tore apart on my return to Hell.”

“Perhaps,” She said, not impressed.  “Or perhaps you would’ve had the good sense to put me in charge instead.  Tetoros, Lucifer, really?”   

Her lip curled with disdain and she shook her head.

Lucifer thought of Tetoros – his betrayal, and Lucifer’s answer to that betrayal.  It barely felt like something Lucifer had done – like something he was capable of doing.  He remembered how disconnected he had felt from his own hands as he took the blade to the demon’s flesh.  The spurts of hot blood that had wet his skin.  The ridges of exposed, twitching muscle under his fingertips. 

Lucifer shuddered.  He gripped the railing and breathed.

His awareness of his wings was impossible to shove aside.  Physically, the sensation of them was negligible, tucked away as they were, and yet that faint tactile feedback felt enormous.  He knew they’d fully reverted to craggy, sharp spines and leather.  That ‘something is wrong’ feeling that had kept him from checking before, when he’d convinced himself that his wings felt wrong because they were healing from a multitude of gunshots, or that they had been plucked away by Dad as punishment for killing Cain and all he had were phantom limb sensations.  

Wrong, because deep down, even then, Lucifer knew he was a monster. 

He swallowed and clenched his jaw.  Stared out at Los Angeles and its multitude of lights.

“How much of the conversation did you hear?” He asked. 

“Most of it.  Enough to know that Hell apparently threw you a bone and you seem to be doing your best to dodge instead of catch it.”

“We don’t know that demons can’t still-”

“Your sister slipped back in and talked to Graddiss.  Hell isn’t letting demons out.  It’s over, Lucifer.”

Lucifer’s heart gave a heavy lurch.

“What?”

“While you were out here having a moment, I talked to your sister.  The Lilim that hang out by the acid caverns seemed like they'd be her speed.  I told her to ask for Graddiss since that spineless sock-muppet of a demon can't lie for shit. She found him and had him test the barrier.  Nada.”

Maze leaned closer to him, searching his face as Lucifer merely stared back.

“It's over, Lucifer.”

“But… I –”

 She cut him off with a glower – angrier with his confusion than Lucifer had thought she should be, and he frowned, not understanding why she cared.  

She threw her hands up in frustration and glared at him.

“You have everything you want at your fingertips, and you still want to mope about it!  You are unbelievable, Lucifer.  Hell is secure.  You won!”

He shook his head and glanced towards the balcony doors, not quite daring to look at the detective.

“It doesn't feel like victory,” He said.  “I... Maze, I don't-”

Maze cut him off with a growl.

Don't do this, Lucifer.  Chloe has seen you at your worst and loves you anyway.  You love her.  And yet, instead of being happy with her, you’re out here intentionally twisting yourself into miserable shapes like the absolute drama queen that you are!”

“It is not that simple, Maze!   The things I’ve done-”

“Oh boo fucking hoo!” She snarled.  “So you tortured!   You tortured people that had it coming.”

“I didn’t just torture, Maze.  I tortured them to death.   The seventy four demons that slipped through to Earth.  The hundred more that tried to ambush me.  I made it last.  Some I had known since their first waking moment in Hell.  Demons that served me as their king until I abandoned them.  I littered Hell with their remains.  What I did – I can’t – Maze, I can’t –”

His hands, clutching the handrail still, started bleeding into reddened skin.  He snatched them back and tucked them under his armpits to hide them.  The points of his claws dug into his sides. 

“Lucifer,” Maze said, her voice quiet, now.  “Stop this.  You did what you had to do.”

“I did so much more than that,” He growled.  Was his voice going deeper? 

She pursed her lips.

“If you were merciful, they would have ignored you again.  You know that, Lucifer.  You know it.  You were too soft for too long.  Why do you think Dromos didn’t go home the first time you told him to? Why do you think so many demons followed him to Earth?  They knew what your orders were.  They ignored you.”

“I didn’t have to take things that far.  I could have stopped once I’d made my point.”

“You did stop after you'd made your point.”

Lucifer turned himself enough to look at Maze directly.   The demon raised her scarred eyebrow at him in challenge.

Hi Lucifer.  It’s Ella, a familiar voice popped into his thoughts, derailing the moment.  He glanced away from Maze, out to the city again, vaguely in the direction of the prayer.  I understand you might have had to go back down South.  Chloe’s looking for you.  She really misses you, big guy.  I hope you’re doing okay.  Oh!  The next time you’re in the precinct, remind me to show you the fail photos my contact at DPD sent me.  Apparently one of the forensics interns tried to take panoramics of the scene, and the results are – well, dude, you have to see them.  It’s amazing how bad they are.  Okay.  Goodnight, Lucifer.

Lucifer huffed out a ragged, unsteady breath.  The charged atmosphere between himself and Maze dissipated.  He sighed and felt fatigue settle on his shoulders like a weight.

“What was that?” Maze asked. 

“Dear Miss Lopez has decided to start praying to me, it seems.”  He withdrew his hands from his armpits.  Still red, but maybe… less so?

“Really?  I didn’t peg Ellen as the type.  What’s she asking for?”

“Nothing,” Lucifer shook his head. “Not that kind of prayer.”

For a minute, they both just watched his hands.  His normal skin tone melted back up his wrists, slowly working its way up to his knuckles.  His claws softened back into fingernails before the skin around them changed.

Lucifer grunted and curled his fingers into fists, stuffing them into the pockets of his bathrobe.  His right hand bumped the dead snail.  He withdrew it and tossed it off the balcony, then returned his hand to the pocket.

“Mazikeen, I…” He exhaled and dared a glance back inside.  Azrael seemed to have gone, and Lucifer felt a pang of regret at that.  Chloe and Amenadiel had taken seats at the bar, their backs to the balcony doors.  They appeared to be deep in conversation.  As he watched, Chloe turned her head enough to look at him, and she smiled at seeing him looking back.

“I don’t know how to be what she deserves,” Lucifer said quietly.

Deserves,” Maze scoffed.  “Since when has that ever been a factor?”

“It should be,” He protested.

“Maybe.  But it isn't.  Pretty sure it never has been.”

Lucifer looked at the demon.  Her mouth was pinched in tight lines.  She cared, Lucifer realized.  She cared deeply, with a fragile bitterness that made his brows knit in confusion.

A wisp of a melody echoed in his head.  That masquerade ball where he’d been so wrapped up in his own problems that the respite of surprise and delight at hearing Maze sing had barely been a blip on the radar.  Maze, who had bared her heart for someone who knew her completely.  Maze, who had certainly cared about Eve.  Perhaps even loved her.

And Eve hadn’t loved Maze back.

“Oh,” Lucifer said, the syllable soft with realization.  Maze looked away.

“Get back inside, Lucifer,” She said gruffly.  “Stop being an idiot or I will beat you to death with this cast.”

Lucifer looked back through the door, at Chloe who had her head bent toward Amenadiel, listening to him speak, but who was watching Lucifer still.

Lucifer opened the door and stepped inside.  The smile on Chloe’s face was kind and warm; nearly unbearable. 

He cleared his throat, inhaled to speak – to apologize, or ask for a drink, or comment on the blouse Chloe was wearing, he hadn’t decided yet – and closed his mouth without saying any of it. 

“Well,” Amenadiel said.  “I’m just going to… go.  Maze,” He called, and the demon stepped out from the balcony, closing the door behind her.

Maze walked with Amenadiel to the elevator.  She winked at Chloe before she left, her insouciant mask firmly back in place.  Lucifer made a mental note to follow up with the demon, make sure she was alright.  He would –

“Hey,” Chloe said.  She’d gotten off the barstool and stood before him.  Warm fingers reached out and wrapped around his wrist.  He flinched, worried about his cold skin, but Chloe didn’t seem bothered.  Perhaps, as Maze had said, he'd warmed up again.

“Hey,” He answered her. 

“So I’m assuming Maze told you the good news?” 

Her eyes were so beautiful, he thought. 

Lucifer’s heart beat. 

“Yes,” He said, the word heavy with how much it implied. 

Sluggishly, without a rhythm for several beats, and then gradually finding a pace, his heart kept right on beating.

The fingers on his wrist tightened and Chloe’s smile turned effulgent.  She was feeling his pulse.

“Lucifer, I... I want to try something again.”  Those beautiful eyes were limned with tears – not, he thought, out of unhappiness, though.   There was so much hope in her gaze.  So much desire.

“Anything,” He said.  He would give her the world if she asked.

“I love you,” She said, and there wasn’t any trace of despair in the words this time.  “I love you, Lucifer.  Please don’t go.”

“Chloe.”  He breathed her name like a prayer.  Like a please.

“I love you,” She said again, stepping fully into his space and tipping her head up in clear invitation.  He bent his head to meet her with a relief that seemed to fill his entire chest.

This was not the gentle, mournful kiss they’d shared on the balcony before he left.  This was not even the sweetly romantic kisses they’d shared previously.  The way Chloe kissed him back was sexual.  Needy.   Lucifer made to pull back, to make sure, to voice his second-guessing and his concerns, to remind her that he was the Devil, to remind her of his wings – but his detective was having none of that.  She held him tight and slid her tongue past his lips to lick at his hard pallet, drawing back just far enough to nip at his bottom lip.  She clutched him so hard that her hands dug into his back almost painfully. 

Lucifer moaned into her mouth and followed her lead with gusto.  He didn’t deserve this.  He knew he didn’t deserve it, but he wanted it.  And so, it seemed, did she.

He walked them back towards the barstools and lifted her, not breaking the kiss, so that she sat at eye level with him and he didn’t have to bend down to meet her. 

“Oh, Detective,” He gasped, pulling away from her mouth only long enough to trail kisses down her throat.  One of her hands had found its way into his hair, fingers burying themselves deeply in the strands as she tugged him back to her mouth.  She sat back on the stool and parted her thighs, clutching him around the hips with her legs, pulling his body forward to press right up against her. 

“My EYES!” A young voice wailed with despair.

They sprang apart like they’d been scalded – Chloe barely righting herself before she fell off the chair, clutching Lucifer’s elbow to steady herself.

“Urchin,” Lucifer greeted over his shoulder, beleaguered and panting.  He kept his back to the child.  The silk robe was doing nothing, really, to hide the state he was in. 

The child was wearing one of his Turkish cotton bath towels like a toga, her hands clapped over her eyes in exaggerated disgust.  She was grinning despite her outraged cry.

Chloe chuckled, throaty and embarrassed and far too amused for the situation.  Lucifer gave her a dark look, and it made her laugh harder.  There was a giddiness there that kindled in him, too.  A relief so great that he almost wanted to weep, despite this interruption.  Despite his wings and the back-sliding they represented.

“Sorry about that, baby,” She called.  “Sorry,” She said to Lucifer more quietly, patting his side and briefly returning a hand to his hair to sooth down some of the tousled chaos she’d made with her grip. 

She hopped up from the barstool and took a fortifying breath.  She put a hand on the lapel of his robe and pulled him down for one more quick kiss.  He’d barely started to curl his tongue to lick the sensitive, plump swell of her lip, tickling her inside her mouth, when she drew back.

Her cheeks were flushed brightly.  Her eyes were wide and dark with unmistakable lust, and the ‘I’m a responsible adult’ façade she was aiming for, smoothing her hands down her blouse, down the thighs of her jeans, was marred by it.  She glanced down the length of Lucifer’s body, and then quickly looked away, blushing brighter still.

“Okay,” She said.  Another small laugh slipped from her.  She had the most graceless, giggly sort of laugh.  Completely unsexy.  He loved her so much.  “Okay, Monkey, you can stop covering your eyes now.  Pajamas, then homework, okay?”

“I forgot my pajamas,” The girl said.  There was a rueful, long-suffering tilt to the words.

“There should be something suitable in the back left side of my closet,” Lucifer offered.  Down, boy, he thought, working to wrangle his body back under control.  He felt pleasantly dizzy. 

“Oh, I know,” Chloe said casually, walking with her offspring down the hallway past his bed, out of his line of sight. 

Lucifer snorted, remembering the birthday party he’d missed.  Dan and Linda in a drunken heap on his couches.  Chloe, wearing one of his shirts, asleep in his bed.

Simpler times. 

Or, perhaps she was referring to something she'd done yesterday while he'd been... otherwise occupied.

Some of his emotional high dampened at that.  Lucifer rolled his shoulders.  He willed his left wing to flex back out and peeked at it over his shoulder.  He shuddered and put the gnarled thing away again. 

Lingering arousal definitely gone, he picked up the bowl of strawberries he’d left on the bar, poured himself a fresh glass of scotch, and took both to his piano. 

For several minutes, Lucifer did nothing at all but stare at his reflection in the lacquered black wood of the piano cover. 

Earth was well and truly his home now.  Heaven had banished him; Hell had locked him out.

He sniffed a small laugh despite the unease that his wings produced. 

Everything he wanted.  He could have it.  He did have it, if he could just figure out how to take it.

Lucifer had never imagined that this would be the hard part.

Faintly, he could hear Chloe's voice, and the answering cadence of her child's response - just audible, though he couldn’t discern the words. 

The murmur of their conversation changed the quality of quiet in the penthouse.  It filled the space and softened the edges. 

Everything he wanted, Lucifer thought again.

Lucifer twisted the green stem off a strawberry and popped the whole fruit in his mouth, chewing as he started to play.  

It had been so long since he’d felt the satisfying press of keys under his fingers.  Sound rolled out of his piano in rich, pleasant chords.  The music was soft and meandering.  Notes that slid sweetly together in playful cascades; a half-remembered melody plucked out by contemplative fingertips. 

There was no music in Hell.  Not like this.  Below, the sounds warped and echoed just enough to make any attempts a discordant mockery. 

Lucifer played.

Lucifer remembered the tinkling chime of chains against doors.  Almost, but not quite, music.  The delicate scuttling of the insects in the black glass caves.   Hell had let him hear them when it had been trying to make him happy.  It had understood he enjoyed the sounds.

He remembered flying through an ash-laden sky, the beats of his wings rhythmic; a slow, steady drum for the endless wailing and pleading of the damned souls below.  

He remembered the way Belarl had choked on her own blood, and how the stutters of her wet, gagging screams had sounded like staccato notes.

“Lucifer?”

He blinked.   Looked down at his hands, unmoving atop the stretch of ivories.  He didn’t remember when he’d stopped playing.  He didn’t remember Chloe and her offspring coming back, and yet when he looked up, there they were – cuddled together on the couch and watching him as if they had sat for a performance.

He swallowed.  His mouth tasted like strawberries and he wrinkled his brow at that, too, before spotting the bowl on the piano top.  In the windows beyond, he could see that early evening had turned into night.

“Sorry, love, I got lost in my thoughts there for a moment.”  He grinned.  Devil-may-care, he thought darkly.  He picked up his glass of scotch and took a long sip.

He looked at the urchin, dressed in the tacky Sol de Javier t-shirt that he’d been oddly reluctant to throw away.  The child seemed to have commandeered it as sleep-wear.  Lucifer tilted his head at the girl.  “Any requests?” He asked, indicating the piano.

“Do you know ‘Baby Shark’?” The spawn asked, her smile evil in a way that confused him until the Detective buried her face in her hands.

No,” Chloe said firmly.  Then sighed.  “And of course, now it’s stuck in my head again.”

The imp cackled. 

 

~*~

 

The evening unraveled with a comfort and familiarity that didn’t quite feel real.  Trixie settled on the couch with her homework again, humming while she did her math.  Lucifer had ordered in a beautiful spread of sushi for dinner, rattling off descriptions of the dishes with such easy authority that Chloe wondered if Lucifer had spent extensive amounts of time in Japan.

She wondered if there was anywhere on Earth that Lucifer hadn’t visited. 

“Have you ever been to Antarctica?” She asked.  She and Lucifer were ‘tidying’ the penthouse’s guest room.  Lucifer paused in collecting sex toys out of the bedside drawer and gave her a puzzled look.  A small smile flashed across his face, momentarily deepening the dimples at the corners of his mouth.

“Actually, yes,” He said with a small, self-amused laugh. 

“What’s the story there?” She asked.  The baggie she was holding had bright purple pills inside stamped with little winking emojis.   Molly, maybe?  She added it to the ‘stuff we’re removing from this room’ duffle bag, where it crinkled on top of the condoms. 

The collection of dongs and dildos in Lucifer’s arms jiggled disturbingly as he chuckled.  One or two were so large she couldn’t imagine them actually being used. 

“A few thousand years back, Amenadiel well and truly pissed me off, hounding me the moment I set foot on Earth.  He was being a real dick about it.  I would barely wet my throat, let alone anything else - (“Gross,” Chloe muttered, and he grinned) - before Amenadiel would show up and bully me back below.  So, that happened a few times.  Next time I came upstairs, I decided to make things difficult for him.  Oh, he’d known I’d come to Earth.  It took him months to find me that time, though.”   He shook his head.  “Bugger, but I could’ve used this... change… then.  Spent the time so cold I thought my bits would fall off.”

Chloe smiled, imagining a Lucifer huddled up in an igloo somewhere, reveling in his spitefulness while his long, beaky nose turned red with cold. 

“What did he say when he caught up to you?” Chloe asked.

“Pfft, the usual,” Lucifer said, dumping the toys in the duffel and going back for more.  “‘Go willingly or I’ll get Dad involved.’  We did manage to strike something of a deal, though, as a result of that trip.  He’d give me at least 24 hours to enjoy Earth when I took my vacations, and I wouldn’t go out of my way to hide from him.  Not the best compromise, since I wasn’t able to come upstairs that often.  24 hours was a pittance against the centuries that passed between visits.”

Something distant and cold crept back into Lucifer’s eyes at that.  Chloe bit her lip and cast about for something else to talk about. 

“Thank you, by the way.  I realize we kind of just crashed here without asking.  I didn’t think you’d mind, and… being here, it – it made me feel closer to you.”

Lucifer blinked, life flickering back.

“What?” He asked.

“Thank you for letting us stay here,” She said, making herself smile. 

His expression softened.

“What’s mine is yours,” He said.  Simple and truthful, like it was nothing.

He emptied the drawer of its bottles of flavored lubes and added them to the bag.  He considered the pile, and then waggled his eyebrows at her.  She laughed at him, as he clearly wanted her to, and did her best to bury her concern.

She reached across the bed, across the open, overfilling duffle bag, and when she stretched her fingers to him he took her hand in his, eyebrow raised in question. 

His fingers were warm.  His grip was sure and given without hesitation.

She rubbed her thumb along his knuckles for a moment.   A supportive touch.   An ‘I know you’re spacing out and that your devil-wings are back and that those things matter, but I’m here for you anyway’ sort of touch.  Or at least she hoped that message came across.

From the way he looked back at her, she thought he understood.

“Right then,” He said, hefting the duffle up by the handles.  “I think that’s everything.”

“Do we need to change the sheets?”  Chloe asked, wrinkling her nose.

“Everything is freshly laundered and disinfected.  My home is a place of pleasure; not a tawdry, low-rent brothel.”  He tucked a fist-shaped dildo back into the bag as it flopped partly out.

“Yep,” She agreed, dead-pan.  He looked up from rearranging the duffle bag’s contents, head tipped to the side.  There were bruises forming under his eyes.  A lethargy in the way he moved.  It spoke of exhaustion, and Chloe could imagine everything that had happened since yesterday must have compounded the sleep deficit he’d already been carrying around.

“I don’t lie,” He said, a hint of a smile gracing his lips.  “There’s plenty of pleasure to be found in orgies and debauchery.  Uh, such a lovely time to be had.  But there’s also pleasure in the simplicity of hearth and home.  I… think I could quite enjoy a few days of simplicity, truth be told.  Does that make me a shoe?” 

She snorted.

“A sensible brown shoe,” She said, just to watch him dramatically shudder.

She stroked her hand along his side as she walked ahead of him to open the door of the guestroom.  The handle was an elaborately ornate thing and she admired it for a moment.

“Why are there no doors in your penthouse?” She asked curiously. 

“You’re currently holding a door, love.” 

“No, I mean, I get the door here and on the bathroom down the hall.  Privacy for your guests, right?  But those are the only doors I think you have on this entire floor.  Lots of doorways, like your… not-really-a-bedroom-bedroom.  No doors.  Why is that?”

He shrugged.

“I like the open space,” He said.  He licked his lips and avoided her eyes, hefting the duffle and pretending it took all of his attention.  He preceded her out, zipping up the bag as he went. 

Hell must be so confining, she thought.  

She gave the guestroom an appraising once-over and found nothing out of place.  It was easily three times the size of Trixie’s bedroom at home.  She was sure her monkey would have no complaint about this arrangement.

Lucifer’s phone, retrieved from where it had been squirreled away behind his bar, had charged by this point.

“I’m just going to give Linda a ring, darling.  I… may be a moment,” He said, looking at his contacts list. 

She stretched up enough to kiss the curve of his jaw.  He obliged her, bending to kiss her properly.  His lips were warm.  Maybe not as warm as they should have been - not his normal, pre-Hell heat – but getting there.

Chloe pulled back before the kiss could progress, giving him a smile. 

“I’ll be here,” She told him.  His hand cupped the side of her face.  His thumb traced her cheek down to the seam of her lips.  She pressed another small kiss against the pad, and made herself part from him.

At the end of the hall, he turned towards the balcony doors by his bed and stepped outside. 

Chloe considered Lucifer’s bed.  Beneath the flung, crumpled bedspread, the mess of his… transformation… still needed to be dealt with.  Sooner rather than later, since Chloe suspected Lucifer was running on fumes at this point and would be happy to call it a night as soon as he was done with his phone call.

She pulled the blanket back and considered the damage spread out against the silky, gold-colored sheets.   The feathers and patches of skin they clung to were nearly the same gray color.  There was something very sad and lifeless about the piles.  She pulled one of the longer feathers up.  It clung to the skin for only a moment, giving way and coming loose with the barest bit of pressure. 

It looked like a bird feather.  Like something found on the beach.  All of the divine otherness of it seemed to have drained away. 

It made her think of the wings displayed at that religious artifacts auction.  Beautiful, yes.  But nothing like the real thing at all, really.

She took a breath and tugged the top sheet free of the pillows, gathering the bundle up and taking it with her back down the hall.  She wasn't sure if Lucifer wanted anything in particular done with the feathers and ended up leaving the bundled sheets beside his washing machine.  She could ask him in the morning, maybe. 

His linen closet yielded quite a variety of choices.  There didn't seem to be a second gold set, though, so she took the top sheet from his blue set instead and hoped he wouldn't fuss about the mismatch.

She made the bed again.   The blanket, where he'd thrown it over the mess, was only a bit dusty.  She brushed it off until she deemed it acceptable and put it back in place.

In her periphery, she could see Lucifer standing in the corner of his balcony.   The phone was to his ear, still, and his body language, as he talked to Linda, was expressive enough that she felt it was invasive to watch him.   He deserved privacy to talk to his therapist.  She took herself back down to the couches where her daughter had claimed space. 

“You're all done with your homework?” Chloe asked.  Trixie's backpack -  the top open still, and Chloe really did need to remind her daughter to close it completely if she didn't want to lose things – was tossed to the side.  Trixie had her socked feet criss-crossed in front of her on the couch cushion, the hem of the t-shirt rucked up her thighs, and the novel she'd been reading the night before laid open in her lap.

“Yep,” Trixie told her.  She tucked her ‘Explore Space!’ holographic bookmark into the book and set it aside.  When Chloe sat beside her, Trixie scooted over enough to lean against her.

“Is Lucifer okay?” Trixie asked.

Chloe nuzzled her chin down on top of Trixie’s head.

“He’s going to be, baby, but it might take him a while.  He’s been through something terrible and it’s going to take him a bit of time to bounce back from it.  Can you do me a favor, Trix?”

A nod against her collarbone.  That simple agreement, instead of bartering for cake or cash, let Chloe know Trixie understood this was important.

“Go easy on him, okay?”

“Okay,” She said.

Trixie’s fingers reached across and started fiddling with the bottom button on Chloe’s blouse.  It was blue, where the rest of the buttons were purple.  The purple button had fallen off at some point and Chloe had made do with a close-enough replacement.  She’d let Trixie thread the needle; had shown her how to knot the thread and how to sew the button on.  Little life skills that Chloe had learned from her father, once upon a time, that she was trying to pass down.

“I like Lucifer a lot more than Marcus,” Trixie said quietly. 

Chloe’s heart clenched.  She closed her eyes.

“Yeah,” Chloe whispered.  “Me too.”

 

~*~

 

Lucifer came back inside after Chloe had tucked Trixie in. 

“Everything okay?” She asked him.  He was standing by the bed, staring at the unlit phone in his hand.

He exhaled a sound that wasn’t quite a laugh.

“I’d be a fool to complain,” He said.  Neither a yes nor a no, but Chloe could fill in enough of the blanks to know the conversation with Linda had been good for him.

He looked at the newly-made bed, then back to Chloe, then to the couches.

“How shall we…?” He asked.

“Well, I was thinking I’d go brush my teeth and get in bed.  And that you would go brush your teeth and also get in bed.”

Those dark, dark eyes of his softened. 

“Separate tooth-brushing.  Really, Detective.”

She snorted.

“I’m not quite sure we’re at the sharing-a-bathroom-at-the-same-time level of lived-in yet.”

“Yet,” He said, almost more to himself than in answer to her, the word spoken with reverence.   

She would have to be a monster, she thought, not to kiss him after that. 

 

~*~

 

She heard Lucifer rustle around a bit after he left the bathroom.  When he joined her in bed, he’d changed into a pair of sleep pants and an undershirt.  She admired the figure he presented as he dimmed the lights and slid under the covers. 

Lucifer was beautiful.  His tailored suits enhanced his lines, but there was something about this version of him – domestic and unpretentious – that touched her heart. 

There was a bit of awkwardness between them.  The last time Chloe had shared a bed had been with Marcus – something she would rather forget entirely.  And before that, there had been no one since Dan.

It had been a lot longer for him, though, she realized.

Lucifer lay on his back, eyes not quite closed but heavy-lidded.  Not far from sleep, she thought, and just holding himself back for her sake. 

Chloe slid across the sheets until they touched; turning on her side to put an arm across his chest.  She tucked her face close to his shoulder.

His hand came up to stroke her arm. 

“Is this really…?”  He asked, trailing off.

“Yes,” She said.  Yes to whatever the question would have been.  Yes, it was really happening.  Yes, it really was okay.

She understood the awe and doubt in his voice.  It felt surreal that she was finally here; in his bed, in his arms. 

Under her hand, his chest rose and fell with slow, steady breaths.  She could feel his heart beating and his warmth.  Gradually, he stopped stroking her arm and let his hand come to rest against her wrist.

She was pretty sure she felt the moment that he fell asleep.  A slight, lingering tension that bled out of his limbs over a few more quiet minutes. 

Chloe closed her eyes and breathed in the smell of his skin.

Chloe sighed against Lucifer’s shoulder and imagined tomorrow spreading out ahead of her.

Sunlight waking them up slowly.  Lucifer teasing her in a low, sleepy voice.  Breakfast in his kitchen.  Maybe Trixie would be up by then and Lucifer would let her stir the eggs, or show her how to pour crepes.   

There was still a homicide case to solve.  Perhaps he would come back to work with her.  She hoped he would.  She had missed him.  She had missed his odd insights and his presence at her side.

Ella would get to ask her questions, and Dan would…

Well.  Chloe wasn’t sure where Dan’s head was at exactly, but she was confident the two men could work their way through it.

The details didn’t matter.

In the morning, Lucifer would still be here.

He would love her.  And she could love him back.

The fantasy had never felt so real before.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

He walked through Hell’s frozen landscape.  Ash crunched beneath his shoes, oddly loud in the too-quiet space, as if even the damned souls moaning in their cells could feel Hell’s subdued atmosphere.

Each step took him further from the throne and closer to his destination.  Amenadiel wasn’t sure where exactly he was going, but he felt a certainty that Hell was leading him in the right direction. 

The tall black columns of rocks lining the path gradually started to grow fewer in number; shorter and thinner the further he went, until at last he stood before an open space.  The area was wide - wide enough that thousands could have stood here.  The ground curved slightly down towards the center.  A dark arena.

In the very middle, a thick and ominous pole stretched up.  Chains dangled from it, the dim blue light of Hell glinting off the cuffs that hung at the ends.  A whip, its coils glossy like oiled leather, hung off the pole on a hook. 

Amenadiel let his eyes follow the pole down to where it sprang up from the cracked ground like it had grown there.   At the rack beside it.  At the table full of tools.

He made himself walk closer.  Closer, until the mounds thrown towards the edges of the flat center, away from the pole, started resolving themselves into identifiable pieces.  A pelvic cradle.  Half of a skull.  Stretches of flayed skin.   Large, dark piles of discarded meat and bone and organs that must have once belonged to dozens of people.

Closer, until the ground he walked on cracked like ice.  He looked down at the frozen pool of blood he stood upon.  He took in the vastness of it, spreading out from pole.

Amenadiel heard a shuffling noise behind him.  A muffled, distressed cry and sounds of struggling.  He turned.

Lucifer walked towards him.  His brother’s suit was ripped and stained.   Blood and ash slathered his exposed skin – his face, his hands.  It matted his hair into disheveled spikes.  Lucifer held his stained wings low behind him as he marched forward.  The tips dragged through the ash, darkening them further.

In Lucifer’s right hand, he gripped a demon’s hair tightly in his fist, dragging her with him while she kicked and scratched and scrabbled, trying desperately to break free.

Lucifer’s face was blank.  No expression; no emotion.  His eyes were flat and lifeless, like a doll’s eyes.

“Luci…” Amenadiel said, shock making the word barely more than a white-plumed exhale.

Lucifer didn’t look at him.  Didn’t change his stride or acknowledge him in any way.   His brother walked past him and slammed the demon’s head against the pole hard enough to stun her, hard enough that Amenadiel heard the ‘crack’ of impact.  Lucifer fastened the cuffs to her wrists, his movements mechanical.  Compassionless.  Passionless.

“Luci, what are you doing?” He said.   He felt frozen to the spot.  An unwilling spectator in this arena.

Lucifer took down the whip hanging from the pole.  A flick of the wrist sent its length uncoiling onto the ground beside him.  The whip was long and very thin, the tip faintly barbed.  It was not a tool designed to corral, but a weapon meant to wound.  To punish.  It made a high, eerie whistling sound as Lucifer stepped back and, without a word, brought it to bear on his captive.

The demon screamed as the lash bit through her clothes. 

Again, and again, and again, Lucifer brought the whip down on her, until the demon’s clothes were rags beneath her and blood dripped from her toes.  The beats of the lash had an unrelenting rhythm.  Lucifer never stopped or slowed.  The whip opened the skin on her stomach, her shins, her ribs, across her mouth.  Cuts that would maim and scar deeply if Lucifer had any intention of leaving her alive.

The demon wailed in agony and begged her king for forgiveness, writhing in the chains to fruitlessly try and shield herself.

Lucifer’s face didn’t change.  He didn’t even blink. 

Amenadiel could only stand and watch. 

Something… changed.  A new sound making its way to them, and Amenadiel only noticed when the rhythm of Lucifer’s arm faltered and grew still.

Crying.  In the distance.   Not the quiet whimpers of pain and despair from the demon on the pole.

A baby crying.

Lucifer’s head turned to follow the sound.  His flat doll eyes flicked one way then the other, searching out the source. 

The crying rose in pitch.

“Charlie,” Amenadiel said.

Lucifer turned away from demon he was torturing.  The whip, wet with blood, hung loose in his hand and trailed in the ash along with his wings as he walked past Amenadiel, heading towards the sound.

“No,” Amenadiel said.  He couldn’t move.  Couldn’t stop this.  “No.  Luci, stop!  Stop!”

 

 

Amenadiel woke with a jolt. 

The baby monitor on the bedside table piped the soft sounds of Linda’s voice into the room.  She was soothing Charlie as he fussed and cried. 

“There now,” She said, her voice slightly staticky through the speaker, when Charlie started to subside.  “Hush before you wake your father.   One of us should get a good night’s sleep, at least.”  She chuckled.  Lowered her voice and changed her inflection, like she was quoting something.  “Before sunrise, he’s your son.” 

Amenadiel exhaled shakily.  His heart thumped in his chest, still beating too fast from his nightmare. 

He rubbed his face, scrubbing away the images.   He let his hands fall to his sides.   The sheets on Linda’s side of the bed were cool, and he turned to look at the clock.  Just past 4 a.m., but she’d clearly been awake for a while.

Amenadiel sighed and slipped out of bed.  He didn’t think he could fall back asleep now even if he tried.

He padded down the hall, scratching his stomach and rolling his tight shoulders. 

The horror of watching Lucifer’s wings shed, like a snake shrugging off a skin, made his own wings twinge.  It was obscene.  A perversion of the divine, and as much as Lucifer claimed to revel in his distance from God, the look on Lucifer’s face when it had happened...

Amenadiel shivered.  It reminded him too much of how it had felt seeing his own wings wither away. 

Linda had her laptop set up on the table beside the crib.   Soft yellow stars and clouds spilled up on the ceiling from the nightlight, but most of the illumination in the room came from the computer screen.   Linda had a legal pad open beside her, a pen held loosely in her fingers as she took notes from whatever she was reading.

He stepped close enough to skim over her shoulder. 

“PTSD?” He asked.

“Oh!”  She hiccupped the gasp, bringing her hand up to her chest in startlement.   In the crib, Charlie mumbled a fussy sound but fell asleep again without it evolving into more.

“Sorry,” Amenadiel said quietly, wrapping his arms around her in a loose embrace.  Linda hummed and leaned back into him.  Her neck made a little ‘crick’ noise as she stretched.   He brought his hands back up and started rubbing her shoulders.

“Oh, that is divine,” She said, words curled with amusement as he worked out knots.  He huffed a laugh.

“What are you working on?”

“Mmm.  Brushing up on trauma counselling.  It’s not really my field of expertise but… I don’t think giving my patient a referral would be appropriate in this case.”

He didn’t ask if the patient was Lucifer.  He was reasonably sure it was, but he knew where the boundaries were in what he could ask Linda about her work, and was doing his best to respect them. 

He pressed firm thumbs along her trapezius, enjoying the way she melted under his touch.   Such a petite woman.  It was a marvel and a testament of God’s grace that so much kindness and intelligence could fit in that frame.

She grunted when he found a particularly stiff muscle, and groaned when he worked that stiffness out.

On the laptop screen, they both read about dissociative episodes and grounding techniques.   

It was on the tip of Amenadiel’s tongue to ask her – had Lucifer brought up what he’d done in Hell?  Had he told her?

But Amenadiel had already been forgiven once for using Linda to gain insight on his brother.  He didn’t want to put her in that position again.

Instead, he said:  “I’m worried about him.”  The quality of the silence that followed encouraged him to say more.  “The things I saw when I went below… I...And then his wings last night…”  Amenadiel exhaled.  “I’m worried.”

Linda set her pen down.  Her small hand reached up to cover his and he stilled. 

“I’m glad Lucifer has you watching out for him,” Linda said.  “Your brother is probably going to need your support.”

Amenadiel sniffed.

“I doubt he’ll be happy about it.”

Yipping at my heels for scraps to remind you of a time when you once mattered.

“No,” Linda said, fond amusement in the word.  “He does like to believe he’s an island, doesn’t he?”

“Hmm.  Yes, I suppose he does.”

The shock on Lucifer’s face when he realized the battle was over.  He had lost.  He stood alone, bleeding from Michael’s sword and outcast by his siblings’ hatred, as God threw him down to Hell.  

Amenadiel still remembered the disbelief in his brother’s scream as he fell.  He remembered the way Samael’s name faded from Heaven, no one wanting to remember him and his arrogance.  His betrayal

The light-bringer’s absence was a wound that no one touched or looked at or spoke of except in curses and condemnation. Let him stay in the pit and be forgotten. 

And then Lucifer had started coming up to Earth.

“He’s… good at bouncing back from things,” Amenadiel said.

“Perhaps.  But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need help sometimes.  I don’t think he knows how to ask for it, either.  As his friend, not his therapist, I will say that Lucifer… he doesn’t seem to think he deserves help.”

Five years of watching him cavort with humans.  Five long years while he exploited a bargain Amenadiel had made in haste – a burr under his skin whenever he thought about it too hard.  Five years where Lucifer abandoned his responsibilities and slept his way through the population of Los Angeles instead, making himself sloppy with drugs and alcohol and sex.   The disregard he had for duties, for his own flesh, an affront to everything Amenadiel believed in.

“You are a mockery of everything divine,” Amenadiel had spat.

“Thank you,” Lucifer had said; exaggerated sincerity designed to set Amenadiel’s teeth on edge.  “Thank you, but lately I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking.  Now, do you think I’m the Devil because I’m inherently evil, just because dear old Dad decided I was?”

In retrospect, it hadn’t been a hypothetical ‘you.’   It had been a question: Do you, Amenadiel, think that I’m inherently evil.

And everything Amenadiel believed about his brother had said yes.

“You wanted the Devil?  Well you’ve got him!”   And the fight that followed, peeling back layers of Lucifer’s careless laissez-faire façade and exposing the deep wells of rage and hurt beneath.  The way those walls had snapped back up afterwards, so high and thick that Amenadiel let himself forget what he’d seen behind them.  He’d dismissed it as Lucifer being dramatic – as him making trouble for the sake of making trouble.

Amenadiel hadn’t believed Lucifer had had the capacity to be hurt.  Not in that way, at least.  Not then.

“I haven’t always had the best relationship with Lucifer,” Amenadiel said.

“No,” Linda agreed gently.  “But both of you have grown so much.”

“Oh, Luci. My hatred for you grows stronger with every visit.”

“Well I wouldn’t have it any other way, pal.   I look forward to eating your heart one day.” 

“We’ve… definitely changed.”

“It’s not an easy thing to do.  Arguably, growth is one of the hardest things anyone can do.  Also one of the most important.  And I’m so proud of you - both of you – for how far you’ve come.”

She turned her head to meet his eyes.  She nodded towards the crib.

“If you’d asked me, three years ago, if I would ever have considered letting the tall, handsome, manipulative Dr. Canaan be a father to my child… I probably wouldn’t have said anything polite in response.”

She squeezed his hand.

“You, though.   Well, that’s a completely different story.”  She smiled.  “None of us can change who we were, Amenadiel.”  A flicker of darkness in her eyes.  Painful memories that Amenadiel hoped she would tell him about one day; what had put that guilt on her heart.  “The best any of us can do is to try to be better going forward.”

Ragged mounds of splintered bones and ripped flesh.  A landscape painted with blood and suffering.  Doll-like eyes with nothing behind them.

Amenadiel pressed a kiss to the top of Linda’s head.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Sunlight poured in through the windows, softened by the gauzy black curtains. 

Chloe was warm.  Drowsy.  Content. 

She kept her eyes squeezed shut to prolong the moment.

They had shifted slightly during the night.  Lucifer had turned at some point and pulled her into his arms.  She could feel that her head rested on his bicep, her forehead pressed to his chest.  One of his legs had draped over hers.

He’s less of a big spoon, she thought.  More of an octopus.

Chloe sighed and, accepting that it was time to get up, started untangling herself from the embrace, trying not to wake him.

She hadn’t expected to sleep through the night.   She had been braced for nightmares – hers or his, or both –  and half afraid she'd wake up frozen, or with an armful of spiny, red-skinned Devil. 

Nightmares hadn't been forthcoming.  The Devil pressed against her was warm and – while still pale; paler than she'd ever seen him – no claws or burnt, twisted skin had made an appearance.

Chloe's eyes traced fond patterns from the scar under his chin to the bolder freckles at the hollow his throat, down to the hint of dark chest hair exposed at the top of his undershirt.  She wondered if she could talk him out of waxing it off again.  She quite liked it.

He grumbled, low in his throat, and pressed against her as she started to slip away, nestling the hard line of his cock against the hollow of her hip.  Her eyes fluttered closed despite herself.  Her body was very on board with the idea, but she couldn’t.  Not in his out-in-the-open bed.  Not with Trixie in the penthouse.

She kissed the exposed skin of his shoulder and made herself pull back.  Lucifer’s arms tightened in protest and he breathed out a petulant little whine.  The leg that she’d managed to squirm out from under found its way back across her knees.

She snorted quietly.

“Octopus,” She said, under her breath. 

He mumbled nonsense syllables in reply, not quite awake yet, but stirring in a way that made her think he would be opening his eyes soon.

She stopped trying to get away, although she did tilt her hips back enough to break contact.

A grumpy sound at that, and she laughed again.  He shifted.  His breathing changed.

“Morning,” He slurred. 

“Morning,” She said.

He pressed his face against the crown of her head, burying himself in her hair.  He slid his pelvis further away from her, even as he pressed his chest closer.  Wanting to be near her but not wanting to overstep.

Chloe shivered.

“Love?  Are you – am I going cold again?”

“No,” She said, voice thick.  “Not at all.”

An upcurled, questioning murmur answered that.  Chloe wriggled until she could look him in the eye.  She could see the moment Lucifer realized what she was thinking.  Surprise lit across his features, and then a naked yearning that she could feel echoed in herself.

“Chloe,” He said softly. 

“I’m going to see if Dan can take Trixie tonight.”  Her hand, resting on his ribs, stroked downward.  Over his stomach.  Over his hip.   Further, and she let her fingers curl around him.  The warmth and weight of his cock in her hand made them both let out small sounds of shocked pleasure.  He was a handful, and she could feel herself getting wet just imagining the heft of him inside her.

Chloe licked her lips. 

“Tonight – ”  But she faltered, unable to say the filthy promise, her nerves catching up to her with a blush the spread across her cheeks.  Lucifer’s eyes were dark, hungry pools, and while he exhaled in a punch when she released him, he smiled his understanding.  Not now.  But oh, did his eyes promise later.  Oh, did the tension coiled low in her belly promise: later.

Chloe kissed him on his stubbled cheek – too aware of her morning breath to go for his lips like she wanted to.  Far too aware of how easily more could turn into more, and what a colossally bad idea that would be at the moment.  His eyes closed in pleasure at the touch of her lips. 

His gratitude made her heart ache.  She had made so many missteps with him.  She had hurt him so many times, and he still loved her this much.   It was humbling.  It made her want to be worthy of that high regard.

“I'm so glad you're here,” She said.  She couldn’t stand him thinking he was the only one getting something out of this.

A low, breathy laugh.  “Me too,” He said, and sighed as she slid away from him completely.

The marble floor was pleasantly cool under her bare feet.  The quality of the early morning sunlight made everything in the penthouse seem soft-edged and tranquil.  Behind her, she heard Lucifer slip out of the bed.

“I’ll start breakfast, darling, if you want to go grab a shower.  I imagine your miscreant will be along in a bit.”  He came around the foot of the bed and, hesitating for a moment, he stepped into her space and embraced her lightly.  His chin settled on her shoulder; his arms around her waist.  She could feel the warmth of his chest against her back. 

“Probably,” Chloe agreed, yawning.  She dropped her head back against his shoulder, hands folding over his on her stomach. 

He had never touched her like this before.  It was intimate without being sexual.  A boyfriend-ish sort of touch.

She snorted. 

“Hmm?”  He rumbled.

“Nothing,” She dismissed.  Boyfriend.  She could imagine the look on his face.

Chloe stroked his arms and leaned back against him, just a bit, just to feel him supporting her.  He stood apart from her but she could easily imagine him closing that gap, pressing himself up against her ass.  He kissed her, softly, on the skin below her ear. 

Nope.  Not with Trixie in the apartment.

 “We’re making zero progress toward showers or breakfast,” She said ruefully. 

“Mhm,” He agreed.  He didn’t sound put out by it in the least, kissing her again with the same slow, languid affection – love pressed into her skin.

Chloe could bask in it.  She knew she could.  She wanted to.  Drop Trixie off at school, call in sick, and spend the day with him.

“No,” She said; a groan of disappointment at her own unshakable sense of responsibility.  

Lucifer, to his credit, merely puffed an amused breath of laughter against her neck, as if he’d read her mind, and drew back. 

“I’ll get the coffee started, love,” He said.  He pulled up the waist of the sleep pants he was wearing as he walked by.  

She thought, perhaps, that he’d lost a bit of muscle mass in his time… away, visible in the way his torso tapered down to his hips, in the slightly more slender column of his neck.  The figured he presented was lean and lithe; still muscular and beautiful, but with a vulnerability in his appearance that hadn’t been there when he’d left.

She wondered at that – at the way Lucifer’s body reflected his feelings.   This was certainly subtler than his skin turning red and scarred, but it intrigued her nonetheless.  It wasn’t like Lucifer went to the gym, or that he’d ever fattened up from the nonsense he ate.

She wondered what it meant that he’d put on so many layers of muscle after she found out the truth and ran away to Rome.  Had it been him accepting that what he represented to her had been big and scary?  Or had it been an expression of how defensive he’d been feeling?

She wondered what it meant that he’d lost some of that bulk again in Hell. 

It didn’t seem polite to ask, but she did turn the question over in her head as she stepped into the master bathroom. 

Muscular or lean, with whatever psychological state he was in that influenced it, she had to admit that the man was stupidly beautiful.

She shed her night clothes and couldn’t help but smile, thinking forward to their plans for the evening. 

 

~*~

 

Trixie woke up with a little flutter of disorientation.   She’d managed to scrunch herself sideways in the large bed and ended up with her head pointing towards the door, her right side towards the pillows. 

There was a pleasant smell in the air.  A perfume of warm, cooking sweet things.  Her stomach grumbled in approval and demand.  She rolled left, off the end of the bed, and got her feet under her with a ‘thump.’

The smell intensified when she opened the door.  Apples, she thought.  Apples and sugar, and the familiar (if less appetizing) smell of fresh coffee.

Lucifer had his back to the entryway as she walked into the kitchen.  Trixie took a second to take in the sight of him so dressed-down.  Barefooted, with the dark blue sleep-pants riding low on his waist.  His shoulders and arms were exposed by the simple undershirt he wore; his hair tousled in sleepy black spikes.

He held a spatula loosely in one hand and seemed to be watching the apples frying in the pan in front of him.

Trixie took a seat at the island to watch him.

She expected a ‘spawn,’ or ‘waif,’ or ‘urchin’ – an acknowledgement of her presence without using her name.   He never used her name.  It was sort of a running joke between them, ever since they’d met and he’d rejected ‘Trixie’ as her moniker.

But he didn’t greet her.  Maybe, like Dad, he was slow to wake up in the morning.  She grinned at the thought.

The pleasant cooking smell started turning bitter.

“Lucifer?” She said.  She kicked her feet against the island uncertainly.  “Lucifer, I think it’s burning.”

He didn’t respond.  The spatula slid a little lower in his lax grip.

Trixie stood, coming around the island and gave him a wary look.  He didn’t seem… there.  He was staring at the apples like he was looking through them, his eyes glowing red.  He didn’t look angry, though.  He didn’t look… anything, really.  Expressionless, like someone had flipped his off switch.

He’s been through a lot, Mom had said.  Go easy on him.

 “Lucifer?” She tried again.  

Trixie wasn’t sure what to do.  She reached over and slid the skillet onto an unlit hob.  The syrup around the apples was darkly brown; the caramel burnt.  Trixie winced.  It had smelled wonderful.

At the movement, Lucifer blinked – once, twice, and then he seemed to come back to himself.

“Gamin,” He said, nodding to her.  Trixie smiled encouragingly.   “Ah,” He said, taking in the contents of the pan with his burning eyes.  “Well.  That… doesn’t look salvageable.”  He sighed and picked up the pan, taking it to the sink and scrapping the contents out with the spatula. 

The garbage disposal churned as he flipped a switch, washing away the mess.  He set the pan down in the sink.  Trixie wrinkled her nose at the dark residue clinging to it. 

“Let’s try that again,” He said, mouth quirked to the side in annoyance.

“Can I help?” 

Red eyes gave her a considering once-over.

“Wash your sticky hands, and then – I imagine Maze has given you passable knife skills by now?   Yes?  Good.  You can peel and segment the apples then.”

Sure enough, there was a small pile of green-skinned apples sitting on the counter.  Trixie was reasonably sure they hadn’t been there last night.

“Did you conjure them?” She asked.

He gave her a bewildered look.

“Like magic.  Can you do magic?” 

“Do I look like a magician to you?” He said.  Not, Trixie noted, a no.

She beamed at him and he sighed, aggrieved.

“I borrowed a few things from downstairs.  Dear Eve was a bit of a trendsetter, it seems.  Lux has never brought in much of an appletini crowd before, and now every other Brittany appears to be ordering them.” 

Trixie washed her hands while Lucifer retrieved another pan for the apples.  She didn’t see a towel so she flicked the water off her fingers into the sink.   Lucifer passed her a cutting board and a knife, gesturing her to take them to the kitchen island.

“Pancakes or waffles?” He asked, sifting through the contents of his cupboards and pulling out a griddle.  He plugged it in and set it to heat.  He gave her a considering look over his shoulder.  His eyes had faded back into their normal nearly-black color. 

“Pancakes,” She said, smiling, oddly pleased that he'd clearly anticipated that answer, what with his choice of cookware.   Waffles were Dad’s thing.   Trixie set her board and knife down on the counter, and Lucifer passed her a couple of apples after she’d climbed into the seat.   

Lucifer pulled down a mixing bowl and started adding ingredients.  He wasn’t measuring anything out, Trixie noticed.  She hoped it was because he knew what he was doing and not because he was winging it.

The knife he’d given her was very, very sharp, and she carefully guided it around the apple, parting the peel from the white flesh beneath. 

Mom walked into the kitchen while Trixie was slicing the segments.  Mom had dressed – jeans and a button-down, slightly wrinkled from having been packed – and her hair was still wrapped up in a towel.  

Lucifer ladled mix onto the griddle with a pleasant ‘hiss,’ and passed Mom a cup of coffee that Trixie hadn’t even noticed him pouring.

Mom took a sip and let out a quiet, pleased moan. 

“Did you have a nice shower?” Lucifer asked, words low and curled around a smile.  There was an undercurrent in his tone that Trixie didn’t follow, but that made Mom blush brightly red.  Trixie snickered.

“You have excellent water pressure,” Mom said flatly.  “So!” She changed the topic.  “What are you two making?”

 

~*~

 

Breakfast consisted of pancakes and fried apples.  Lucifer had wanted to round it out with protein but his fridge was sadly depleted.  He’d put in an order already to have it restocked.  Tomorrow, he thought.  Tomorrow he could make the omelets. 

He watched them eat, their cheeks full and lips shiny, with a warmth that he couldn’t put a name to. 

He excused himself while they were still finishing up, his stomach still not used to a full meal yet.

Chloe had turned on the vents in the bathroom but there was still a slight mugginess in the air from her own shower.   Lucifer stripped and turned the shower on, smiling wide and pleased.   He knew what Chloe had gotten up to in here.  He’d seen too many women post-orgasm not to be able to spot the signs.

He grabbed his shaving supplies and stepped under the hot spray – hot, not warm, because the heat felt good again. 

He worked up a lather and slid his razor carefully along his skin.  Normally he’d rush through but, with the Detective so close and the possibility of the blade actually sinking into him, he took his time, especially in neatening his pubic hair.

Tonight, the Detective had said. 

Lucifer put the razor down and took his cock in hand.  He was already achingly hard just remembering her boldness, the possessive look in her eye as she wrapped her fingers around him.

His Detective wanted him.   She desired him. 

Lucifer bit back moans as he worked himself.   He wasn’t a stranger to self-pleasure by any means, but this – trying to be quick, trying to be quiet – this was new.   There had been partners that had gagged him but that was an entirely different thing.

Lucifer braced a hand on the shower wall and fucked into his fist, fingers slick with shaving foam. 

What had she imagined, in here, minutes before?  Lucifer pictured her, her clever fingers thrumming her sex.  Would she slip those fingers inside herself, he wondered, riding the feel of penetration - or would she focus her attention on just her clit, rubbing and circling and teasing?   Lucifer imagined his mouth pressed against her; the feel and taste of her, the roll of that pearl under his tongue.  He sped up his hips.  

His wings throbbed beneath his skin, tight from being held back, as keyed up as the rest of his body.  Lucifer clamped down viciously on their desire to unfurl.  He was not going to let those grotesque things ruin this moment. 

He turned his mind back to the Detective.   Chloe.   Blonde hair wet from the shower spray, hanging loose around her face.  Would she keep her eyes open – hazed and lust-fogged but never quite completely relaxed?  Or did she fantasize with her eyes shut, giving herself over to it completely?   Lucifer imagined how her nipples would harden when she got excited.  How her legs would tremble and her thighs would spread.  Had she braced a hand just here, just where Lucifer had his braced now? 

Had she said his name when she’d come?

Lucifer tightened his fist, giving himself rough, short strokes, slipping the head of his cock over his fingers again and again, his foreskin pushed back and everything wonderfully sensitive.

He spilled with a gasp, cock pulsing in long spurts, splattering the wall of the shower.   His orgasm lasted for long seconds, each drag of his hand drawing it out more, until he sighed, and slumped, pleasantly lethargic in the aftermath.

It had been a while, he supposed. 

Lucifer stood in the shower and let the spray beat down on him for a moment, limbs lax and tingling with satisfaction.   After a minute, he took a deep breath and righted himself, cupping his hands and splashing the shower wall to wash all that evidence of divinity down the drain. 

He hurried through the rest of the shower, switching off the taps decisively when, on other days, he might have lingered, indulgent and lazy.  He toweled off and regarded himself in the mirror.

Still a bit pale.  Still a bit hollow.  But not bad at all, especially with the healthy glow of lust-invigorated blood pumping through him. 

He straightened his hair with quick efficiency.  He debated over his makeup – eyeliner or no?  But he decided against it.  At the moment, it would emphasize his pale skin.  Sleep had happily taken care of the bags under his eyes.  Perhaps just a touch-up, then.  He sifted through foundations but everything he had on hand was from the last several months, when he’d been more tanned.  He sighed and stood, heading to his walk-in closet.

As he left the bathroom, towel wrapped considerately around his waist, he heard Chloe and her daughter talking.  The urchin seemed to have lost a shoe someplace – how, neither Chloe - nor Lucifer, eavesdropping - could imagine, but there were a finite number of places it could have wandered off to.  He was confident they’d get it sorted.

In his closet, he trailed a hand over the soft wool of suit after suit.  The blue Tom Ford?   No.  It wouldn’t hang right.  Something older until he could get some tailoring done.   Prada.  Black, with the purple-lined waistcoat and the dark blue shirt.  Red-soled Louboutins– the older pair; the comfortable one with the scuffs he’d picked up when a homicide brought them out into the woods. 

He pulled the layers on, savoring the feel of the fabric against his skin.  A sensual pleasure on par with the slide of scotch down his throat. 

He applied his cologne.  He straightened his waistcoat, the cuffs of his jacket; thumbed the cool band of his ring. 

He felt like himself.

Lucifer walked out into the main sprawl of the penthouse, shoes clicking on the marble.

“Now then, Detective.  Shall we?” 

Chloe looked up from bobby-pinning Beatrice’s hair and gave him quite an approving once-over. 

“You’re coming with me to work?”  She asked.

“Of course.  I’m a consultant for the LAPD, you know.”

“I know,” She said.  Her eyes crinkled with affection.  “Ella and Dan are probably going to be there.  You sure you’re up to that?”

Lucifer sniffed.

“Please.  Miss Lopez is a delight.  And the day I’m not up to the task of dealing with your douche of an ex is the day I sell Lux and move to the Silver City.”

“There are probably also a few officers that saw you, you know.”

“Are you trying to talk me out of joining you?” He asked, amused but also… genuine. 

Maybe the Detective didn’t want him inserting himself into every aspect of his life.  Not, perhaps, with the way he was… not quite recovered from his time in Hell.

A sizzle of burning flesh.  Apples.  They’re apples.  They’re apples.

“No, I want you there,” She said, shaking her head.  “Just making sure you knew what you were getting into.  Trix, you’ve got everything?”  The girl nodded, fussing with the pin Chloe had just settled into her hair – pulling it out and putting it back more carefully. 

“Do you want to drive?”  Chloe asked him.

“Hmmm.  Your cruiser or my convertible.  Let me think on it,” Lucifer said, and grinned when she rolled her eyes at him.  He checked his pockets.  Phone, flask, wallet, extra billfold of cash, cigarette case full of goodies, lighter – good to go. 

“Thank you for breakfast, Lucifer,” The urchin said in the elevator ride down.

Lucifer looked at her.  He remembered her small hand moving the burning pan to the side. 

“Thank you for your assistance,” He said.  The girl gave him a knowing smile.   Uncanny little thing.

“What is the password for your elevator, by the way?” Chloe asked.

“Your birthday,” Trixie answered as Lucifer inhaled to speak.

“You know the year, too?” Chloe asked, surprised.   The child gave her a skeptical look.

“It’s on your IMDB page,” She said, a duh implied. 

Lucifer snickered and Chloe buried her face in her hands.

The elevator opened and they stepped out.

Lucifer realized the logistical error as they approached the corvette.

“There isn’t a backseat,” He said, feeling oddly betrayed by the car.

“Maybe Mom can drive and you can fly?”

Lucifer shuddered.

“Flying is very much off the table at the moment.  No, spawn, there’s nothing for it.   Into the ugly cruiser we go.”

“My cruiser isn’t ugly,” The Detective protested.

Lucifer looked from the sleek black corvette to the gray 4-door Charger parked beside it.  The Detective’s car was dusty and had a dent on the bumper.  A visible patina on the windshield where the wipers couldn’t reach.

Lucifer raised his eyebrows at her.

“Shut up.  Get in.”

 

~*~

 

Traffic picked up as they approached the school.  Lucifer watched the people in the cars around them with a strange sort of curiosity.  It felt weird that nothing at all had changed when he’d been down below.  That had never been his experience before; humans an ever-evolving lot.  Even in centuries of scientific or social stagnation, the languages and beliefs and music and food and fashion would be ever-so-slightly different every time he came back. 

He understood that it had only been four days, but it didn’t feel like four days.  Five, technically, but he wasn’t thinking about that.

He caught Chloe surreptitiously glancing at him.  He pulled his mind back to the present. 

“So.  Is there a case?”

The Detective drummed her fingers on her steering wheel.

“There's a case.  I'll fill you in when we're heading over to the precinct,” She said – a small tip of her head towards the back seat a reminder that she wouldn't want to get into the gruesome facts in front of her spawn.   “You, ah, already saw the victim, actually.”

“I did?”  Lucifer frowned, trying to place it.

“Technically, yes.  When you were, um, tracking down an... employee.”

“Oh, right.  That.”

“Yep.”

“I can't say I took it in in much detail, to be honest,” Lucifer confessed.  “Perpetrator still at large?”

Chloe nodded.  “We're following up on a few leads.  Hopefully, we can narrow things down and start interviewing suspects today.”

“Lovely,” He said, meaning it.  Like slipping on his tailored clothes, this – working with the Detective – felt right.

The school yard came into view, buzzing with activity as children disembarked the buses.  Lucifer regarded the stampede with bemusement and disdain.  So many of the children seemed to be screaming for no reason whatsoever.   It was wildly off-putting and he had no idea why anyone would want this kind of noise in their life, unless they were prepping themselves for Hell. 

The urchin in the backseat all but vibrated with excitement as the Detective pulled up to the curb in the drop-off spot.

“Alright, babe.  Daddy's probably going to be the one to pick you up this afternoon.   You've got everything...?  Honey, please zip up the top of your backpack so your books don't fall out.”

An eye-roll that was pure Decker followed, and a sassily exaggerated zipping of the bag.  Lucifer gave her an approving look in the rear-view mirror. 

“Bye Mom!  Bye Lucifer!”

“Work hard!   I love you!”  The Detective called after her as her offspring climbed out and closed the door behind herself.

Chloe eased the car back into traffic.

Lucifer tried to imagine this ritual – dropping the child off for school – as routine.   He doubted the school buses had Lux anywhere near their route, and likewise doubted that Chloe would change the girl’s school for a change in residence, if she decided to stay at Lux more permanently.  

Would she want to stay at Lux? 

Lucifer tried to imagine Chloe staying with him, as Eve had stayed with him, and the picture wouldn't form.  His time with Eve had been non-stop revelry and debauchery.  A distraction – a fun distraction – but a distraction nonetheless. 

It had reminded him of the times he'd visited Earth when he knew he'd be going back to Hell again as soon as Amenadiel collected him.  A desperate attempt to cram as much sex and wine and song as he could into a clutched handful of hours before he'd be thrown back below.  He had never imagined a future with Eve, and had never tried to.

He regarded his companion.   The strands of hair escaping her ponytail, the curve of her ear, the beginnings of crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes.   The future with her…

Oh, did he want it. 

“You're staring at me,” The Detective said, a smile curling the corner of her mouth as they stopped at a stoplight.

“Just thinking, love,” He said. 

Fingers drifted down from the steering wheel to tangle with his on his lap. 

The Detective was tactile in her affection, Lucifer was discovering, now that that door was finally open between them. 

“Are there snails in Hell?” She asked.  She spared him a brief glance before returning her attention to the road.  “I’ve got to admit – snails really aren’t how I pictured it.”

“Ah.  No.  Plenty of other slimy or skittery creatures.  Things that are snail-adjacent, if… quite a bit larger.   I wouldn’t call them snails though.”

Lucifer wondered, briefly, what the cold had done to them.  Probably it had just driven them into the caverns by the lava pools.  He doubted the hulking things had the wherewithal or ability to take refuge inside any of the loops.  Although wouldn’t they be a treat for whatever damned soul they squatted with, he thought wryly.

“I’m confused, then.  Where did the snail come from?”

Lucifer swallowed.  Rubbed his thumb on her hand.  Made his breathing stay steady, even as it felt like it wanted to lose its rhythm again.

“The bottom of the ocean, probably,” He said at length.  He looked out through the window at the buildings passing by, keenly aware that Chloe had tensed beside him.

“Is that where you were?  Yesterday?”  She asked.

He nodded slightly.

“My wings…”  He sighed.  “The filth on them was making me crazy.  I took a dip to wash them off and I… lost track of time.”

Her grip on his hand tightened.

“I don’t – Lucifer, I don’t understand.   You were gone almost a full 24 hours.”

Last night, with his arms braced on the balcony railing, warm Los Angeles wind tugging on his hair, Lucifer had listened to Dr. Martin talk about disassociation with him while a cold knot of dread and recognition formed in his belly.   She had wanted him to tell Chloe what had happened so that the Detective could help if it happened again, and yet here – with this opportunity wide open before him – he found the words trapped in his throat.

Lucifer felt betrayed by his own mind.  Shamed by it.

Chloe’s fingers stroked his skin.  As she could spare glances away from the road, she looked at him, and it wasn’t with judgement in her eyes.

He pressed himself back into the seat a bit more.  Fidgeting.  He scoffed, annoyed with himself.  “I thought I was back in Hell.  I was so caught up in what I was remembering that I stopped seeing what was actually around me.  Dr. Linda thinks I had a dissociative episode.  I’m… I think she was right.”  He drew a ragged breath.  “Presumably the snail relocated to my wings while I was out of my mind,” He said flippantly, splaying that weakness out like a challenge.

Chloe drove for a while in silence, turning over what he’d told him. 

“Has that ever happened to you before?”  She asked.

He thought about how disconnected he’d felt burying Uriel.  The hands holding that shovel couldn’t have possibly been his, even as he knew they were.  He remembered Amenadiel dragging him back to Hell again – which Century had that been?  - Taking him away from humans he’d wanted to know, wanted to stay with, and how numb he’d felt after the ordeal.  How drained and tired from the effort of caring impotently. 

Part of him had given up, then – not that he would ever give Amenadiel the satisfaction of knowing that. 

He thought of the centuries that followed that return; the too-long stretch of time where he had barely felt like he was inhabiting his own body.

 “…Perhaps,” Lucifer said.  

“Did Linda give you any advice?  Or, is there anything I can do to help?”

“The good doctor had some suggestions.  Apparently it’s not her field of expertise but we both agreed giving me a referral would be a waste of time.”

“Because the new therapist would get stuck on the whole ‘Lucifer’ thing, or because you wouldn’t leave Linda alone even if she did refer you?”

Lucifer did smile at that.

“Both,” He said. 

“Should I come with you to your appointment?  Or, no, that’s intruding, isn’t it?  Forget I asked.”

“It might be a good idea,” Lucifer said.  He sighed.  “And it can’t possibly go worse than the last couple’s therapy session I tried.  Bloody woman was intent on bonding with Eve at my expense.”

She gave his hand a squeeze, smiling, and they lapsed into silence for the rest of the trip.   The Detective didn’t take her fingers back until she turned her car into the precinct lot.

Lucifer took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Chloe parked and turned off the ignition but neither of them made a move to exit the vehicle.  Lucifer stared through the windshield at the car park, contemplating what would be waiting for him inside the precinct.

“Hey,” Chloe said, gently.  “Are you still with me?”

He turned away from his wool-gathering and flashed her a smile that probably met his eyes.

“Of course,” He said, and stepped out.

He’d walked this space - from the car park to the front entrance - so many times without noticing it at all.  He was hyperaware of it now.  It felt strange, like he was invading a space where he wasn’t meant to be.

He idly hoped that none of the officers that had gotten a glimpse of him took it into their heads to, for example, open fire on him.   With the Detective at his side, that would be… unpleasant. 

The precinct was its normal bustle of activity.  The air carried the bitter tang of old, cheap coffee.  The fluorescents overhead ticked and hummed.  Officers scuttled about; suspects argued and pleaded; staff gossiped and pretended to work.  Again, he had a bewildering moment of seeing how little had changed despite how much time had passed, before his mental math caught up.

A few familiar faces looked up smiled and nodded in greeting.  A few cheerful “Good mornings” -  a few covetous looks at his ass and lascivious smirks in his general direction, as if it were any other day.

“Huh,” Lucifer said.  “I was expecting… I don’t know what I was expecting.”

“Lucifer!” 

That was what I was expecting,” Lucifer said wryly to Chloe, turning to meet Miss Lopez as she scurried up.  She stopped a bit short of him, rather than wrapping him in a hug that he was half-braced for.  She cocked her head at him, the beaming smile fading into a confused frown.

“Hey, buddy, are you okay?  You’re looking…”

“Fantastically charming?”  He suggested when she paused.  “Debonair?  Devilishly handsome?”

A bit of her grin resurfaced at the last suggestion.

“An argument could be made, I suppose.  No, man, you’re looking great.  Just kinda pale.  Are you sick?  Can you get sick?”   She looked at his stomach.  “I mean, you can get shot, but since you didn’t get sepsis I’m really curious.  What are you doing right now?  Decker, can I steal him for a bit?  I have so many questions.”  She looked back at Lucifer before Chloe could answer.  “Or is that rude?  Do you not want to talk about it?  Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I know you.   Bring it in, big guy!”

The hug that Lucifer had been anticipating manifested.   Ella wrapped confident arms around him - completely aware that he was the Devil and spilling over with enthusiasm rather than fear.

Lucifer met the Detective’s eyes, intending to convey with a glance how bemusing and wonderful this interaction was.

But Chloe looked away, guilt and regret chasing each other across her features.

Ah. 

Yes.

Well.   It probably would have been simpler all around if the Detective had responded with the same acceptance that Miss Lopez was demonstrating.

No good would come from dwelling on that, though.  What was done was done.

“I believe I can steal myself away for a moment?” He said, inclining his head towards the woman wrapping her arms around him but directing the question towards Chloe.  Did she need a moment, he was asking.

“Yeah, why don’t you two head over to Ella’s lab.  I’ll find Dan and catch up.”

Lucifer watched her turn and go, hand stroking Miss Lopez’s back with distracted affection and a nagging feeling that he should have said something differently, just then.   Done something different. 

He didn’t like the idea that Chloe was hanging onto guilt.

“Mmm,” Ella said, a contented grunt while giving him one more good firm squeeze.  She drew back, hands trailing down his arms to wrap around his wrists in a loose hold.  She tugged him along with her, walking backwards with such a spring in her step that her ponytail swayed and bobbed. 

Lucifer let himself be manhandled.

Ella’s lab was clean - organized with care and a shrewd attention to detail.  The files she wasn’t actively working on were aligned in right angles.  Her equipment sat symmetrically on the lab desk.  It was a space with an important function that was nonetheless aesthetically pleasing.

Lucifer’s eyes lingered on the yellow legal pad full of writing as Ella led him over to the stools, his gaze catching on a the scribble – 'did I make out with literal Eve?' - and smirked despite his nervousness.  

They sat.  Lucifer studied Ella, trying to gauge where she would take this conversation.  Her prayers from the night before were a vivid and warm memory.  He wondered where she would start – what she would ask.  With that brilliant mind of hers, Lucifer found he couldn't anticipate her. 

Ella studied him right back, eyes roving over his face with a little moue of concern wrinkling her brow.

“Seriously, though, are you okay?”  She asked. 

“Sympathy for the Devil, Miss Lopez?” Lucifer smiled at her.  “I’m quite well.  Things have actually been...” He glanced through the lab window, trying and failing to catch sight of Chloe.  “Things have been…”

He opened and closed his mouth, not sure how to explain.

“Decker finally admitted how she felt?”  Ella said shrewdly.  “Aw, Lucifer, I’m so happy for you!”

He gave her a curious look.

“You genuinely are, aren’t you?   I must admit, Miss Lopez, I've wondered how your faith would influence your reaction to – well, to me.   To believing me.”  He glanced pointedly at the cross she wore. 

Ella fingers stretched up to it.  The gold reflected the overhead light as she fiddled with it.

“I mean,” She said slowly, letting the necklace drop.  She folded her hands.  “It took a hot second to get my head wrapped around it.  You've really never lied about any of it.  Once I figured that out, pfft, the rest was...”  She squinted at him.  “Okay, no, it's still not easy.  But!  I've never bought into that line - 'the Devil made me do it.'   That's just not how free will works.”  She shook her head decisively.  “So, that leaves me with just... you.  Lucifer.  And I like to think I kind of know who you are, buddy.”  She put her hand on his knee, smiling widely at him.  “You're one of my best friends.”

Lucifer swallowed.

“Thank you,” He said, too moved to be glib. 

“I think what I'm struggling with the most is reconciling your Dad with – ah, actually, no, forget that.  That's not fair to ask you.”

Lucifer tilted his head at her curiously.  Her eyes skittered away but her fingers found their way back to her necklace. 

“Ah,” Lucifer said, putting it together.  “Reconciling the idea of God as an all-loving, all-forgiving entity of goodness and compassion – that whole idea - with the father who threw me into Hell for wanting to be able to live my own life?”

Ella gave him a nervous look.

“Yeah,” She said.  “That.”   She hastened to add: “But, really, I'm not asking you to defend Him.  I get that your relationship with, you know, God, is... it's...”

“It's... complicated,” Lucifer agreed.  He admitted begrudgingly: “Even more complicated lately.”

“Oh?”

Lucifer pushed a hand back through his hair.  He thumbed the band of his ring.  He thought about Heaven.

He thought about his fall.

“Lucifer?” Ella prompted him gently.

Lucifer took a deep breath.  Let it out.

“Miss Lopez,” He said.  He pulled a hand through his hair again.  “When I returned to Hell… I had intended to stay and prevent any further demons from possessing dead humans.  I believed, truly, that that sacrifice was the only way to keep the people I cared about safe.”

“But you're back now,” She said slowly, understanding there was more. 

“I am.  I'm quite stuck here, in fact.”

“How is.. what?”

“Hell lured me back to Earth and sealed itself off from my re-entry.”

Hell kicked you out?”  Ella cocked her head to the side, confusion written large across her features.

“More or less accurate, yes.  I believe Hell thought it was doing what was best for me.   Hell... cared about me.   It cared in ways I never realized.  And I find that I regret that I never...”  He sighed.  He looked at Ella's cross.  He started the line of thought over.  “When I lost my war… When I was thrown down to Hell, all I could think was that it was my punishment.  A reaping of indignity and torment for my defiance and ambition.  And, no mistake - it was a punishment.  But I'm coming to realize that perhaps it was more than just that.  I suspect that… perhaps, I was never as alone down there as I had believed myself to be.”  He exhaled a humorless laugh.  “I've no idea what to do with that realization.  I...”  He looked at Ella's hands, clasped so earnestly in her lap as she listened to him. 

Her fingers were long and precise.   Neatly manicured.  Her nailbeds as clean as her equipment.

He remembered her twirling a casino chip between those fingers, over and over in a practiced, thoughtless fidget.  The flesh was firm with youth; she hadn't lost dexterity to age and arthritis. 

One day, she would.  One day, she would be old and grayed and probably still as cheerful as the creature before him now.

“I think,” Lucifer said, feeling the words out as he spoke them.  “That some future day, I'll beg my sister's assistance and find my way back.  I don't know if I'd stay.”  Lucifer didn't want to think about what he would feel once the Detective's mortal life ran its course.  “I don't know.”

He cleared his throat.  “And – yes, you made out with Eve as in that Eve.”

“Oh!”  Ella turned in the chair and snatched the notepad off the counter.

Really?”  She stared at the question on the page.  “Wow.”  She shook her head and placed the pad on the table beside her, text-side down.  She returned her hand to his knee.  She smiled at him in acknowledgment of the heavy things he'd shared. 

Lucifer withdrew his flask from his breast pocket and took a fortifying sip.  He offered it to the scientist, who herself took a generous swig.

“You always have the best booze,” She said appreciatively.  She wiped her lips and handed the flask back to him.

“So, what's the plan with Decker?” She asked, leaning closer to him.  She shoved the notepad further back on the counter, visibly dismissing the questions she had written down.   “Round two of helicoptering to the opera?  Because, man, I've got to tell you, that evening was magical.  Or are you keeping it local?  Dinner someplace ridiculous?”

Lucifer gave her a blank look, thrown by her disinterest in his divinity.  She gave an exasperated sigh.

“Let me live my vicarious romance, Lucifer!  I've been rooting for you two for a while now.  Especially with how she's been moping these last couple of days with you, you know, missing, presumed to be in Hell.  Girl deserves some happy in her life and we have like 80 testimonies on record that you can deliver it.”

He snorted.  “Ninety-two, I believe it was.”

“Right?  So spill,” She wheedled.  “You, my friend, have creativity.  And by all accounts, stamina and enthusiasm to boot.  Are you going for a full wine and dine or are you heading straight for the fantastic time?”  She snapped finger-guns at him and he couldn’t hold back a smile.

He regarded Ella with such fondness that he felt it as a nearly physical warmth spreading out inside himself. 

He wondered if she was a miracle, too.

“Very well, you thirsty little nerd.  I was planning to start with dinner,” He said, and leaned close to tell her more.

 

~*~

 

Chloe found Dan leading a young man, dressed like a college student, out of interrogation room 2.   Both the suspect and Dan’s body language spoke if it being a procedural follow-up on a case rather than an accusation of guilt. 

She waggled her fingers at Dan in greeting.  He nodded at her, eyes flicking around behind her with an intensity that made it obvious he was looking for Lucifer.  His shoulders were tight when he gestured the young man down the hall towards the front exit of the precinct.  He came over to her.

“Chloe,” He said.  He tapped a closed manila case folder against his thigh and hooked his other thumb into the belt loop on his jeans, leaning into her space and speaking quietly, as if imparting something private.  “Is he with you?”

Chloe gave Dan an assessing look.

“Would it be a problem if he was?”  A genuine question; not a challenge.  She had no idea what he was feeling.

He chewed his lip.  Tapped the folder on his leg.

“It’s a lot.”  He said.  He shook his head.  “I feel like I should be running for the hills, you know?”

“I know.”   Boy, did she know.  “Again, I don’t recommend Rome if you do, by the way.”

He laughed.  It was a small, strained sound, but it reassured her.

“He’s talking to Ella right now,” She said.  “I’m sure she’s asking a lot of the same questions you have if you want to go join them?  Or.  Well.  Maybe not the same questions, but-”

“Nah,” Dan said.  He looked away.  “I have some things I need to-” Another largely humorless laugh.  “I need to talk to him.   I haven’t been fair to him this last year.”  His free hand came up and rubbed his jaw.  “I crossed lines.  That he is who he is doesn’t change that.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”  She asked.  Her eyes traced Dan’s familiar face.  His jaw ticked in a way that said ‘no’ without him having to say it.  She nodded to let him know she understood.

The man he was now was so different than the man he’d been when they first dated.  Less stubborn, less self-righteous.  He had a humility to him now that hadn’t existed back then - a vulnerability that inspired respect rather than disdain.  

“Well,” She said.  “He’s going to be working the case with us.  You’ll get a chance, I’m sure.”

He grunted an acknowledgement that didn’t have much enthusiasm behind it.  Strike two for ‘whatever he wants to talk to Lucifer about, it’s really weighing on him.’  

She changed the subject. 

“Hey, listen.  Would you mind picking up Trixie tonight?”

He tilted his head.

Frowned, as if not sure he’d understood, and then gave her such a wide-eyed ‘really?’ look that Chloe blushed.  She hadn’t thought the request was that transparent.

“Are you sure?”

She pressed her lips together in a thin line and nodded, looking at the floor.  “I’m sure.  Really, really sure.”  She exhaled in an annoyed gust.  “The more I think about it the more I’m annoyed I wasn’t sure earlier.”

He held his hands up in a gesture of surrender, the manila folder cradled between thumb and spread fingers.

“I don’t want to know.”  He shook his head.  “Lucifer.  I mean…”  But whatever it was, he didn’t say.  Chloe could read him enough to imagine it would have been some comment about her moving on, or that he’d’ve had issues with whomever replaced him whether or not they were the actual Devil.  He kept the words behind his teeth, though, and Chloe was glad for it. 

He tapped the folder again.

“We still don’t have an ID.  Forensics hasn’t been able to find anything pointing at where the vic was actually murdered, so I’ve been working through the list of local artists.  Nada so far.  We’re probably going to have to expand the search.   Why does LA have so many tattoo parlors?”

“A lot of personality here,” She said.  He snorted.  “I’ll go grab Lucifer.”

Chloe didn’t miss Dan’s slight flinch when she said his name but she pretended she did. 

An unfamiliar voice stopped her on the way to the lab.

“Miss Decker?”

Chloe turned and regarded the… lawyer?  The suit and demeanor screamed lawyer. 

“Detective Decker,” She corrected.  She eyed the man.  Mid-fifties, black, perhaps six feet tall.   Prosecution or defense?   She couldn’t tell.

“Detective, of course – my apologies.  Do you have a moment?   Our office has been trying to get in touch with you.”

Chloe looked towards the forensics department.  She doubted Ella would be done with Lucifer yet and, frankly, she wasn’t in a huge hurry to get into a likely fruitless search for information on her case.

“How can I help you?”  She said, relaxing her posture and giving him her full attention.

“Detective Decker, I represent the estate of a Mr. Lucifer Morningstar.  May we speak privately?”

“I…sure,” Chloe said.  She led him to her desk.  Not private, per se, but close enough.  He sat in Lucifer’s usual seat.

“Thank you for your time, Detective Decker.   Mr. Morningstar has given us instructions on how the handle to distribution of his assets.”

“Lucifer’s what now?”  She blinked at him.  He gave her a conciliatory look in return. 

“Detective Decker,” He said gently.  “Mr. Morningstar –”

“Isn’t dead,” She interrupted, holding up her hand.  “If that’s what you’re insinuating.”

The lawyer paused.  Cleared his throat.  Fiddled with the grip on his briefcase.

“Mr. Morningstar advised our offices on how he would like his assets addressed.  Would you prefer to see the contract?  I would be happy to walk you through the details.”

He set the briefcase down on her desk and popped it open, withdrawing and offering her a thick sheaf of papers.  She took them from him with a surreal feeling.

“Mr. Morningstar has listed you as the primary beneficiary of his acquisitions and accounts.  My apologies if this is an inconvenient time.  If you would like, we can set up an appointment to discuss this at my office.  It’s the normal procedure but Mr. Morningstar, well, he was quite insistent we speak to you as soon as possible.  Of course, it took a couple of days to get everything cleared with the main office – quite an unusual request -”

He kept talking but Chloe wasn’t really listening to him.   She flipped through the pages.  Bank statements with numbers that made her feel faint, property listings all over the world.  Page after page listing his cars and antiques and their values.

Lucifer’s signature, taking up more than its allotted space on the signature line, dated a week ago.  The day he’d gone to Hell.

Had this been what he’d done, in that time between leaving the Mayan and Chloe catching up to him in his penthouse? 

Chloe closed the papers.  Swallowed hard. 

“You know what, I think I’d prefer to talk to Lucifer about this,” Chloe said, interrupting the man’s monologue about Lucifer’s unorthodox request. 

The lawyer gave her another of those pitying looks.   An ‘he’s gone and you’re in denial’ look – and even though Chloe knew it wasn’t true, it churned unease in her gut.  She wanted to go check on him – lay eyes on him, and get the queasy feeling of loss to shut the hell up. 

“Of course,” The lawyer said pleasantly.  He took a card out from his breast pocket and laid it on top of the contract.  “Please, give my office a call when you’re ready to go over the details.  Have a good day, Miss Decker.”

“Detective,” She corrected again absently.

“Of course, yes.  I apologize.”

He collected his briefcase and stood.

He might have held out his hand for her to shake – Chloe wasn’t sure.  She’d already blown past him and veered for the forensics lab.

When she opened the door, Lucifer and Ella were bent close together, giggling like children.

It loosened the tight feeling in her chest.

“Detective?  Is everything alright?” Lucifer asked.  He tilted his head, frowning at what Chloe was sure was the harried look on her face.

“Everything’s fine,” She said.  “I just talked to your lawyer.”

He blinked.

“Oh, were they just now getting around to talking to you?  I’d assumed they’d already contacted you.”

“Lawyer?” Ella asked.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting to have use of my Earthly possessions for the foreseeable future,” Lucifer explained, shrugging as if it was no big deal.  His brow knit as he regarded her.  “But I can see that this has upset you?”

He phrased it like a question, like he wasn’t sure why this reminder that he hadn’t planned to come back would be upsetting to her.

Again, it brought her back to her thoughts from that morning – that Lucifer didn’t really accept or understand that she loved him.

Or, perhaps that wasn’t it.  Perhaps Lucifer accepted her at her word and simply needed practice in being loved. 

She cleared her throat, annoyed with the lump forming there. 

“So,” She said.  “The case.  Did Ella get you up to speed?”

“We got a little distracted,” Ella said, grinning unapologetically.  She hopped off her stool and brought her case file over to the center table, opening it and spreading out the autopsy photographs for Lucifer to see.

“Cause of death was blood loss on account of the stab to the jugular,” She said, pointing out the deep gash in the man’s neck.  “The other stab wounds exacerbated the blood loss, but they weren’t nearly as precise as the one in his neck.   The tattoo was removed posthumously but prior to the body being dumped.”

“Interesting,” Lucifer said.  He squinted at the photograph.  “I’m quite sure… yes, that looks terribly familiar.  One moment,” Lucifer said.  He withdrew his phone and dialed a number.

“The injury?” Chloe asked.  She gave the photograph a queasy look.   Where would  Lucifer have stumbled on a skinning outside of his work with her?  Or was this something he’d seen in Hell?  A demon, maybe?  Had a demon done this?  Was there –

“Austin, yes, hello, it’s Lucifer, darling,” Lucifer greeted, voice curling flirtatiously.  It interrupted her spiraling thoughts.  “I had a question about that lovely bit of artwork you had running up your thigh.  The one with the letters that circled up to your..?   Yes, that’s the one.  Tell me, where did you get it done?   Mhm.  Mhm.  Perfect, Austin, much obliged.”  

Lucifer hung up and gave them a triumphant look.

“Shall we head up to the Clockwork Serpent, then?  I’m quite confident they’ll recognize this.”  He indicated one of the photos, finger tracing the intricate interwoven lettering curling up along the man’s ribs, the design ending abruptly in removed flesh.

“What, really?”  Chloe said, surprised.  “Dan was just telling me how stalled we are on this case.  If we can get an ID, that’s a solid start.  Good work, Lucifer.” 

His eyes softened with pleasure and pride. 

“Oh, man, you two,” Ella said.  She fanned herself, making exaggerated doe-eyes at them. 

Chloe darted a suspicious glower between Lucifer and Ella, who both returned such innocent expressions that she had no doubt at all that Lucifer had updated Ella on their relationship status.  Probably, knowing him, also on their plans for that evening.

She rolled her eyes. 

“Okay, Ella?  I’m not sure where Dan’s wandered off to.  Could you let him know we’re following this lead?”

“No problem,” Ella agreed cheerfully.

“Thanks.  Okay, you, come with me,” Chloe said, pointing and crooking an imperious finger at Lucifer.  He grinned, all cat-with-canary, and followed her out.

They passed an officer on the way out who froze as they walked by.   Chloe tensed, recognizing her as one of the forensics team that had been on scene when Lucifer had shown up.

“Ah, Miss Berle.  Good morning,” Lucifer said pleasantly, no doubt seeing how pale the woman had gotten.   She clutched her mug of coffee closer to her chest.

The look she gave Lucifer was slightly panicked, but more than that, it was confused.

They watched her eyeball Lucifer, then her coffee, and then Lucifer again, as if she was trying to draw some connection between the two.  She shook her head, muttering in a dismissive tone.  She walked past them without returning Lucifer’s greeting, still shaking her head in a bemused and befuddled way.

“Denial is such a powerful thing with you humans,” Lucifer observed quietly.  “No idea what my father was on about making you that way.”

“Right,” Chloe said, staring after the woman. 

Chloe wanted to be judgmental.   She wanted to be, but how many times had Lucifer done impossible things that she herself had completely dismissed?  She was far too familiar with the mental hoops that people could jump through to explain away the supernatural.

“Something on your mind, Detective?” Lucifer asked as they walked out to her cruiser.

Well¸ Chloe thought.  No time like the present to start reinforcing the ‘I love you’ concept.

“Thank you for being so patient with me,” Chloe said.  “I know it must have been frustrating, all of the times you told me the truth and I brushed you off.”

She clicked the fob to unlock the car.   Lucifer trailed behind for a step, but caught up as he circled the car to get in on the passenger side, joining her as she opened her door and got into the car.

“It’s… a lot to ask, I suppose.  Accepting divinity as a literal concept, if you aren’t already in the know.”

“Was it always that way?  I mean, when you told people who you were in, like, the 4th century or whatever.  Before science was all the rage.”

“Mixed results, actually,” Lucifer said, a smile finding its way back to his face.  “You’d be surprised how little humans have fundamentally changed over the years.”   He reached across the parking break and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear.  “Although, of course, nothing compares to now.”

His thumb stroked down her cheek.   When he leaned closer, Chloe didn’t even try to resist the invitation for a kiss.

 

~*~

 

Dan was completing his paperwork – an open-and-shut shooting caught on a security camera; the perp identified and arrested within the hour – when Amenadiel showed up.

The angel scanned the precinct as he walked up to Dan’s desk.

“Dan,” Amenadiel greeted warmly.

“Hey, man.   If you’re looking for your brother, he’s out on a case with Chloe.”

“Ah.  I can never tell if he’s not answering my messages because he’s busy or because he’s, well, Lucifer,” Amenadiel said, taking his phone out and glaring at it ruefully.  He returned it to his pocket and turned his full attention to Dan, his brown eyes compassionate.  “How are you doing, Dan?”

Were all angels like this, Dan wondered, or was it just an Amenadiel thing?

The only other angel he knew was Lucifer, and he got the impression that Lucifer was outside the box even for his species.

“I’m –” Fine, he meant to say, but what came out instead was: “You know Chloe’s in love with him?  Fully diving into it.  Asked me to pick up Trixie tonight – which is fine, I love my munchkin – but it’s so she and Lucifer can –” He sucked air through his teeth.  “I get that he’s Lucif- that he’s… that he’s not a bad guy, probably, mostly.  But he’s still literally the Devil, and I don’t really know what that means, and I don’t think that she knows what it means either.  I’m worried she’s putting on the same blinders with him that she had when dating Marcus.  I don’t want to see her get hurt, but wow is it not my place to tell her she’s making a mistake here.  I just –”

He waved his hands in an agitated arc.

“It’s fine.  It’s fine,” He concluded grouchily.

Amenadiel’s eyebrows had crept steadily higher through his rant, and lowered again with what was undeniably an entertained expression when he finished. 

“It doesn’t sound fine,” Amenadiel said, completely dead-pan.  It brought a huff of laughter out of Dan.

He rubbed his eyes.

“He’s the Devil,” Dan said.  “The.”  He bracketed a space in front of him with his hands, palms and fingers flat, emphasizing the word.  He sighed.  “I know, I know.  He’s not… that.  But come on, man,” He whined.  “It’s one thing when he’s a coworker and another when he’s…”  Again, a gesture stood in place of actually saying it.

“For what it’s worth, Lucifer is nothing at all like… Marcus,” Amenadiel offered.

“A bad idea, sure, but at least not a biblically bad one,” Dan agreed.

Amenadiel shifted his weight, foot to foot, and glanced away.

Dan didn’t want to know.

He just didn’t.

“It’s…”  Dan drummed his fingers on his desk.  “Here’s the thing,” He said, leaning forward.  “On the one hand, Lucifer is the guy who saved Chloe from being poisoned, and from Malcolm, and…” He rolled his hand.  “But on the other hand, he’s also the tool that ditched her and ran off to marry a stripper.  He’s reckless and such an asshole, and violent and dangerous, but he’s also, you know, good with Trixie.  He solves cases.  He can be crazy selfless, but he’s also self-destructive.  Even I can see that.  I think he has good intentions as far as Chloe is concerned, but you know what they say about where good intentions lead, and wow has that never felt more appropriate or daunting.”

“For the last time,” A new voice said from behind Dan, its familiar Britsh accent drawn with exasperation.  “Candy was an exotic dancer, not a stripper.  Honestly she wasn’t even that, but the point stands.”

Dan felt his skin go tight with an animal sort of fear.   He turned in his chair. 

Lucifer, looking pale but as cocky and put-together as ever, fussed with the cuffs of his sleeves, apparently giving them his full attention.

“Luci,” Amenadiel said.  “Dan was just telling me you were out on a case.”

“Oh, yes, we’re done with that.  Culprit caught, justice dispensed, et cetera.   The Detective is taking the perp down to processing presently.”

“You caught them?  How?” Dan asked, curiosity puncturing his distress at being caught-out.

Lucifer flashed him a grin.

“I recognized the artist’s work.  When we got down to the shop, well, she was all too willing to unburden herself.  Apparently she took it quite personally that Mr. Owans had someone tattoo over her designs.  That, and the bit where he was cheating on her.  Hard to say which one really pushed her over the edge.  My money would be on the tattoo – artists, you know.  Such a touchy lot.” 

“We thought we were looking for someone with medical expertise.  The way the skin was removed – that was really precise,” Dan said, mentally running through the evidence.  A confession was usually solid but a lot of people changed their mind when it came to actually saying the word ‘guilty.’ 

“A dab hand at sub-dermal implants.  Quite a versatile skill, as it turns out.”   Lucifer turned to Amenadiel.  “Brother, I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

“Well, I was in the neighborhood,” Amenadiel said – probably lying, Dan thought, but Lucifer didn’t seem to notice.  “I thought I’d stop by and see how you were doing.”

Lucifer sniffed.

“You’re just trying to take a break from your son’s caterwauling and stench.”

“Luci, he’s an infant,” Amenadiel scolded.

Lucifer raised his eyebrows – a very you make my point for me expression.   Dan kind of agreed.   He loved Trixie with everything he had in him, but man did he not miss changing diapers.  Lucifer met his eyes and they shared an understanding look.

“Well, brother, as you can see, I’m right as rain.”  Lucifer’s smile seemed to have too many teeth.  

“Mhm,” Amenadiel said.  A noncommittal sound.  He gave Lucifer a thorough once-over and Dan took the opportunity to give Lucifer – the Devil – a surreptitious bit of scrutiny himself.

Lucifer was just… Lucifer.   Same expensive, flashy suit.  Same stupid handsome face.  Same cocky aura.

What a dizzying thing, Dan thought – that that guythat guy… was Satan.

Dan shook his head.

“If you’ll excuse us, brother, I believe Detective Espinoza and I ought to have a little chat.  Go on.  Off you pop.”

Lucifer made a ‘shooing’ motion at the other angel.  Amenadiel seemed wholly unimpressed with Lucifer’s antics. 

“Dan, it was good spending time with you yesterday,” Amenadiel said, ignoring Lucifer.  “Let me know next time you want to hit the waves.  I really enjoyed it.  I’ll even get a wetsuit this time.”

Dan snorted.

“What’s this?” Lucifer said, perking up at the rueful tone in Amenadiel’s voice.  They really were siblings, he thought.  He coughed to hide a laugh.

“Being impervious to getting scraped up by the sand is a whole different thing than not having the undertow steal your shorts,” Dan said, grinning. 

The indignant look on Amenadiel’s face, when it had happened, had been amazing – as had been his frantic diving after them.  That bit of levity had done as much as the conversation itself had in informing Dan that angels might be hot shit, but they were still bumbling, fucked-up people like the rest of them.

“Yes,” Amenadiel said, rubbing the bridge of his nose.  “A learning experience.  Brother, you should try it some time.”

“Surfing?  Oh, I’ve been.  Not my favorite physical activity, but then I suppose the boards have changed a lot since the last time I tried.”  He shrugged.

Dan tried to imagine Lucifer on a surfboard and his brain balked at that image even more than at the idea of Lucifer with horns and a tail.

“Luci, can I talk to you?” Amenadiel asked, voice dropping with seriousness.  He inclined his bald head towards the interrogation rooms. 

Lucifer rolled his eyes.

“Oh, very well.  I can see you've decided to be tedious.  Let's get it over with, then.  Douche,” He said, nodding to Dan.

“Beelzebub,” Dan acknowledged, equally nonchalant.  Lucifer made a pleased little exhale of a laugh and turned, leading Amenadiel away from Dan's desk.

Dan watched them go.

An angel and the Devil walked through the LA precinct.   It sounded like the start of a bad joke.  Dan shook his head again and went back to his paperwork.

The wrongs he'd done to Lucifer still rubbed under his skin, but – it felt less sharp, somehow.   The interaction, brief as it had been...

Everything in Lucifer's countenance, in the easy way he'd leaned into Dan's space – it reminded Dan of the playful way Lucifer had been with him before things had gone completely to shit.

Dan signed and dated his report, scribbling his name with more of a flourish than it needed, buoyed by the interaction.

It had felt like his friendship with Lucifer had found a toehold again.

Dan couldn't help but be glad of it.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The key stuck slightly in the lock.  Probably, she thought, the cheap metal had ever-so-slightly warped from being abruptly frozen and then thawed in the California sun.  Mazikeen jammed the key in harder and the lock, begrudgingly, yielded.

“Honey, I’m home,” She called – aiming for sarcasm, but the words came out more hollowly than she meant them to.

The apartment was dark; the windows choked with ash.  Maze didn’t bother flipping the lights on.  The thick reek of Hell, here, reminded her that she didn’t need the lights.  She was Mazikeen of the Lilim.  The day a little darkness made an impediment to her would be the day she hung up her knives.

Speaking of, it looked like Decker had dragged her duffle bag full of weapons inside after everything went down.  The familiar black bag sat just to the side of the threshold.   Good.  She’d wondered what had happened to it after she left with Trixie.

The wall to her left was dark and grimy with the mess Lucifer had kicked up into the air but, beneath that coating, it was obvious that Trixie’s artwork had been taken down.   Chloe had spackled the holes Maze had made in the wall out of existence.

She ran her fingers over the place where her axe had made a particularly deep gouge.  The spackle job was a little rough but, with a coat of paint or two, it’d be good as new.

Maze’s fingertips came away dark with soot.  She licked them clean.  Ash and brimstone and blood.  Home sweet home.

She walked through the apartment.  The television that Lucifer had thrown her through still lay crushed on the dirty carpet.  There were glittering bits of broken glass from smashed picture frames. 

Maze scooped up a piece of a broken figurine.  Lady Alien’s head had snapped clean off.   Maze looked around for Madame Alien – Trixie’s half of the clay figures that she and Trixie had made to be companions for her stuffed Miss Alien doll – and found it still safely tucked on the shelf.  She put Lady Alien’s head next to it.

Maze looked around at the mess Lucifer had made.  Dark footprints stained the carpet where the general miasma of soot hadn’t settled. 

For a moment, Maze thought about trying to clean the mess up, and dismissed it.  This wasn’t her home.

Lucifer was back.

Decker hadn’t said the words, yet, but Maze knew.   She knew.   The roommate offer was off the table, now.  Decker would move in with Lucifer, either at Lux or one of his houses, and then what need would Decker have for this apartment?   Let alone a demon roommate, who on her best day was “inappropriately sexual” and “incapable of loading a dishwasher.”

(Maze wasn’t incapable.  She just didn’t see the point in pandering to a machine whose only purpose was to make dishes clean.  If she had to clean them first, what was the point?)

As far as Maze being inappropriate…  Maze didn’t think she was any worse than Lucifer.

As with most things, though – Lucifer seemed to get a pass.

Maze dropped the glamor smoothing out the left side of her face.   Here, with the scent of Hell all around her and the bitterness of being outcast, she wanted to be herself.

Hell was lost to her.  She would never see her home again.

Even if Lucifer wanted to take her back, now, he couldn’t.

Maze spun her karambit in her left hand.  The blade caught what little light there was to be had as she twirled it.  Maze brought it up to her right shoulder, pressing the flat against her flesh and easing the tip an inch or so down the cast.   She jerked it up.   The material of the cast gave way.

Inch by inch, she split through the layers of gauze and fiberglass until she could pull apart what remained.  She yanked it off.  She flung the remains of the cast over by the television.   One more bit of debris.

Free of the thing, she chafed her newly exposed skin with her palm to settle the itchy feeling left behind.

The bone wasn’t completely healed, she could feel.   A decent blow would probably send the tentative bone growth back into a fracture, but she’d take the risk for the added mobility.

Maze hated feeling trapped.

The dark walls of the apartment felt confining.  The scent all around her, knowing that the source was out of her reach, made her angry

Maze didn’t want to go back to Hell anymore.  But not having the option? 

That was an entirely different thing.

She sent a kick through the coffee table, already teetering on its three remaining legs.  The wood snapped with a pleasant sort of violence.   She kicked it again, and again, until the pieces remaining weren’t worth the effort.

She growled with unspent tension.  She righted the armchair and dropped herself into it with a puff of soot-laden air.

Maze kicked her booted foot against the ground in an agitated rhythm and admitted to herself that she wasn’t happy.

What, then, could she do?

She thought about her plan the last time she’d been craving home and been denied – packing up, getting on a bus, and heading… elsewhere.   Wherever the bus was going.  Setting up somewhere outside of Lucifer’s sphere of influence where she wasn’t just his demon.

Maze has no idea how long that would have lasted, though, even if Cain hadn’t come along and taken advantage of her dissatisfaction.

Leaving LA would mean leaving Trixie behind.  And Linda.

And, much though she hated it that she still cared about him, it would mean leaving Lucifer.

The lost expression on his face when she had told him it was over – he was free of his responsibilities, he could stay in LA with Decker…

Maze could strangle the man.  She really could. 

But the rest of her, obnoxiously, wanted to shove him at Decker like she was mashing together Barbie dolls.

Lucifer deserved happiness.  For that matter, much as at pained her to admit it, so did Decker.

Thump, thump, thump, went Maze’s boot against the dirty carpet.

She could go track down Eve.   Maybe it would feel less empty if she was heading towards something rather than just heading away.  With her bounty hunting connections, she was confident she could track the woman down within six hours.

Mazikeen considered the reunion.

“So.  Finish finding yourself yet?”  She would say.

“Maze!  Oh, I’ve missed you!   Of course I regret leaving!  Want to go have sex?”

Maze snorted.

No. 

No, she wasn’t going to go track down Eve.  The rejection had hurt enough the first time.  She wasn’t eager for a repeat performance.

Ben Rivers?  Now that Cain was dead and, theoretically, his Sinnerman network dissolved, Ben could stop running.  Maybe Maze could take him up on his offer.

“We can hit a new city every week.  See the most beautiful places.  Live every day like it’s our last.”

It had been tempting then, and it was still tempting now, but it wasn’t what she wanted.   Not really.  She was not meant to drift purposelessly from place to place.  Ben would want to show her landscapes that humans consider beautiful, and Maze would resent the reminders that it was all Earth had to offer.  He would prefer to talk or trick his way out of trouble, and would admonish Maze for reaching for violence first.  Their edges would grate against each other until Maze got bored of trying, and then what?   She’d come back to LA.   Back to the people she cared about the most.   Back to Lucifer, because some habits refused to die no matter how long she tried to smother them.   

LA it was, then.

Maze pushed up out of the chair and walked into the kitchen.  She yanked open the freezer door and fished about for the vodka she’d left here, confident that granny-panties Decker wouldn’t have finished it off.  

She slammed the door shut in annoyance when it became clear that the bottle was gone.  

Somehow, she was sure it was Lucifer’s fault.

Mazikeen propped her hands on the edge of the kitchen sink and hung her head for a moment; breathing, thinking, while her fingers drummed a sharp staccato against the metal basin.

She considered her options.

 

~*~

 

The observation room closest to the vending machines was unoccupied.   Lucifer led him there, eyeing the Teeny-Tiny Donuts as they walked by.

“One moment, brother,” He said, fishing out his wallet and pulling out the lonely $5 bill he kept tucked amongst the larger denominations for exactly such a purpose.   The vending machine happily sucked the money up…

And then spat the crisp bill back out.

Lucifer frowned and fed the machine the cash again, double-checking that he was inserting the bill with the correct side up.  He was.

Again, though, the machine rejected the money with a read error.

“Oh for goodness sake,” Lucifer muttered.  He put a hand to the glass display door and willed it to open.  Obligingly, the lock popped and the door swung on its hinge. 

Lucifer took out his rightful bag of donuts and left the five dollars tucked in its place.  He closed the display door again with a ‘click’ and a satisfied grin.  In the oddest way, he had missed the precinct’s shitty, temperamental vending machine.

Popping open the bag of donuts, he dipped his fingers in and retrieved a few of the delicious little things, tossing them into his mouth with a lovely burst of flavor across his tongue.   Munching contentedly, he offered the bag to Amenadiel.  Amenadiel merely shook his head, though, so Lucifer shrugged and helped himself to more.  He gestured for Amenadiel to precede him and open the door to the interrogation room, wiggling his sugar-coated fingers by way of explanation.

Amenadiel opened the door and flipped on the lights.  The interrogation room on the other side of the one-way mirror was empty and dark.  Lucifer could see that someone had left a coffee cup sitting on the table.  An officer, probably, from the position of the cup.

“Well, brother, have at it.  What’s put a bee in your bonnet?”

Amenadiel wrinkled his nose, giving Lucifer an incredulous look at the turn of phrase. 

“You seem to be doing really well with your return, Luci.  I was worried when I left last night.”

Lucifer tossed another teeny donut into his mouth, looking into the bag as he answered, as if the sugary morsels demanded more of his attention than Amenadiel’s concern.

“Were you?  I seem to recall that things were going quite well for me when you and Mazikeen departed.”

Amenadiel grunted.

“Don’t get me wrong, Luci, I’m glad that you and Chloe are finally getting together, but that doesn’t change what happened to your wings.  It doesn’t change what I saw in Hell.”

Lucifer’s fingers fell still halfway towards reaching into the bag for more donuts.   He met Amenadiel’s eyes, head cocked at a considering angle.

“You saw me at a point when I had given up, brother.  What would you have me say?  You can surely see that I’ve warmed up since then.  I’m getting better.”

“I’m not talking about you, Luci – I’m talking about what you did!” Amenadiel snapped.

Lucifer swallowed.

The sweetness of the donuts stopped registering.  The treat stuck in his throat like sawdust; his mouth going dry.  He forced it down.

Amenadiel rubbed a hand over his mouth, not looking at him.  He began to pace in the small space available to them.

“I saw… Luci, I…”

Lucifer’s expression darkened as understanding crept inexorably in.

“You saw what I did to restore order to Hell.”

“I saw the bodies you left behind.  Bodies,” Amenadiel scoffed, indicating the insufficiency of the word. “I saw the pieces.   I don’t understand how you can… how you can eat donuts and pretend that everything is okay after  - after…”

He stuttered to a stop.

Lucifer watched Amenadiel run out of words.   He felt a coldness in his belly, but not the same kind he had been feeling.

This was borne of an old, bitter anger.

“You don’t understand?” Lucifer repeated quietly.  “Well that’s hardly new, is it, brother?” 

Amenadiel flinched back, as if the sharpness of Lucifer’s words had struck him.

“You’ve never understood what it took to rule Hell.   Oh, you guarded the gates from time to time.  You peeked in when dragging me back below.   But ruling it?  Enacting punishment?  Torturing?  No, Amenadiel, first born, you’ve never understood what that took.”

Amenadiel took a step back from him, and it made Lucifer feel vicious.

“Did you think,” Lucifer said, dropping each word deliberately, “That that was the first time I’ve had to torture a demon to death?  Did you think that, when Dad threw me down there, I became king after a lively debate?”

Lucifer’s wings pressed against his skin.  This time, he didn’t hold them back, letting them unfurl slowly, their ugly claws and red leather underscoring his words.   He could feel his eyes burning brightly red.

“It was my job, ruling Hell.  My task.  And I did it thoroughly and well.  To meet those demands, I have done things that you could never imagine, brother.”

He snapped his wings away with a jerk of his shoulders.

“Good chat,” He said, crumpling the unfinished bag of donuts up in his fist and throwing it into the nearby trashcan.

“Lucifer, wait,” Amenadiel said, stopping him as his hand fell to the doorknob.

Lucifer paused, not turning around.

He was angry.  Angrier than he expected to be, but this was such an old wound; one that had never healed correctly.  

Century after century after century doing a job he hated – hoping that someday, it would be enough, and that there would be enough of him left when that day came for it to matter.

Lucifer remembered the moment he realized it never would be enough.  His family would never understand or forgive him.

“This plan might actually work,” Amenadiel had said. The both of them were in high spirits with the promise of impending victory.  To Lucifer, it almost felt like old times.

“Yes, of course it’ll work, brother.  That’s why you came to me, remember?  Someone crafty, smart –”

“And evil,” Amenadiel finished; laughing like the words hadn’t just gutted him.

“Evil?” Lucifer had repeated. Surely, Amenadiel didn’t mean –

“Well, if you want to find a deplorable criminal, you just ask a – well, you know what I mean, Luci.”

Lucifer’s hand clenched around the doorknob hard enough that he could feel the metal protesting.  Amenadiel could not have hurt him more thoroughly if he had put a blade in him.

How annoying to realize that Amenadiel still had the ability to hurt him like that.

Lucifer took a deep breath.  He forced his hand to relax and release the doorknob.  He turned back around.

“What is it, Amenadiel?” Lucifer asked.  His eyes, he could feel, were still burning.  He would need to get that under control before he walked back outside anyway.  With his luck, he’d run into an officer that had embraced denial and this little show would send them back into belief and hysteria.

“I’m sorry,” Amenadiel said.  “Luci, I’m not – I’m not judging you for what you did down there.”

“Aren’t you?” He snapped.  “You have a funny way of showing it.”

“I’m worried about you, Luci!  How can you just brush it off?  How are you not…”  Amenadiel struggled for words.

“What?”  Lucifer said. “Catatonic?   Been there, done that.  Quite boring, really.  Can’t say I recommend it.”

Amenadiel visibly bit back a retort.   Lucifer quirked an eyebrow, half hoping to antagonize Amenadiel into a fight.  There was simplicity in a fight.  He thought he would quite prefer simplicity to… whatever this was.

Amenadiel exhaled.  He squared his shoulders.  He took a deliberate breath.

“I have nightmares about what I saw when I came to visit you,” He said.

Whatever Lucifer had been expecting Amenadiel to say… it hadn’t been that.

“I dream of you in that frozen landscape, dead-eyed and cold, torturing, and…” Amenadiel shook his head.  “And if it’s affecting me this badly, just seeing the aftermath, then what is it doing to you?”

Lucifer said nothing.

He examined Amenadiel’s words, turning them over, looking for the hook or deceit.  He didn’t find one, and it left him unsure of how to respond.

“I know… that Linda is helping you.  She doesn’t…”  Amenadiel sighed.  “She’s… kind.  And amazing.  And mortal.  If you find that what you need to discuss is too… big… to put on her, I’m…”  He fumbled.  Licked his lips.  “If you need to talk about it with someone who isn’t mortal, who has seen Hell... I’m just saying, I’m here.”

Lucifer gave Amenadiel a long look. 

He let his eyes dim to their normal brown.

He inhaled to speak, but couldn’t think of what to say.

Without a word, he turned and left, closing the door behind himself, putting a barrier between him and Amenadiel’s words.

He wanted a cigarette.

 

~*~

 

Chloe found Lucifer by the precinct’s side exit.  It wasn’t the designated smoking area but Lucifer was hardly the first person to break that rule.

The wreath of pot smoke around him was a little novel, though.  She cleared her throat and Lucifer looked down from his contemplation of the clouds.

He exhaled a significant plume from the corner of his mouth, away from her.   The joint held loosely in his fingers was mostly gone.  He rubbed the lit end against the brick wall to extinguish it and tossed the stub carelessly to the ground amongst the cigarette butts.  Chloe frowned at the litter but decided it was one of those ‘pick your battles’ kind of situations, and let it slide without comment.

“Detective,” He greeted, his syllables just a little loose and stretched.  High, but not forgetting-he-was-riding-a-horse high.

“Everything alright?”  She asked. 

Lucifer sighed and leaned against the wall.  He tipped his head back, exposing the long length of his throat. 

“Just family issues,” He said. 

And, really, given the family involved, Chloe had no idea how to take that.  She had seen Amenadiel passing through the precinct and had to assume it had something to do with that.   Lucifer didn’t seem to want to talk about it, though.   She didn’t press.  She settled instead for standing beside Lucifer, letting her shoulder lean against his arm.   She took his hand in hers, tangling their fingers together.

For a long, peaceful moment, they watched cars swish along the road.  Chloe stroked his hand with her thumb; a gentle, grounding rhythm.

Chloe may have taken an opportunity to read up on trauma and disassociation while Lucifer had been talking to Amenadiel.  She wished she knew how long he’d been out here alone.  She hadn’t noticed Amenadiel leaving.

At length, Lucifer seemed to re-center himself. 

“So,” He said.  “Our artist friend is all squared away, then?”

She nodded.

“The arrest is booked, paperwork filed, case has been moved to the ‘pending trial’ pile.”

“Ah, the ever-worthwhile pending trial file pile.  My favorite,” He teased.  When she grinned back up at him, he bent and, with only a little hesitation, eyebrow raised to confirm it was okay to do so, he kissed her. 

He tasted like weed smoke and something sugary; sweetness and burnt herbs.  His tongue slipped into her mouth with just a little cajoling at the seam of her lips.  His tongue was a ridiculously dexterous thing, licking and teasing and curling around her own in such a way that she couldn’t help but fantasize about what that competence could do when applied elsewhere.  

She pulled back with a mix of reluctance and eagerness.   The sooner they left, after all, the sooner they could pursue this physicality in earnest.

“Are you ready to go?”  She asked.   

“Always,” He replied cheekily. 

 

~*~

 

The image of the two of them - their closeness, the way they looked at each other as they left the precinct – it was obvious they were more than work partners, and it stayed with Dan as he drove to pick up his daughter.

Chloe had been smiling.

Goofily, with a pinkness to her cheeks and a spring in her step that Lucifer matched. 

Dan couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Chloe that happy. 

What a sobering thought.

He shook his head, trying to dislodge that old feeling of failure and disappointment that sprang up whenever he contemplated his divorce.  He pulled into the school pick-up spot.  Trixie looked like she was deeply engaged in conversation with Holly, their heads bent together and hands waving in excited gesticulation.  Trixie turned away from the other girl at something she said, giggling with her hands covering her mouth, eyes scrunched up in humor.  She spotted Dan then and jumped a little, waving and raising an index finger in a ‘one minute’ gesture.  Dan nodded, content to idle and observe.  The teacher on curb-duty came around and verified his identity.

In short order, Trixie wrapped up her conversation and bounded over to the car.  Dan winced at her untie shoelace and braced for a fall, but Trixie made it into the car without incident.

“There’s golf balls on the moon,” She informed him cheerfully.

“No kidding?” He answered, playing along.

Trixie was all too pleased to spend the trip back to his apartment filling him in on what she’d done today, shifting without segue from science, to lunch, to math, back to lunch, and slipping in a ‘by the way, Holly invited me to spend the night at her place this weekend’ as he pulled into the parking lot.

“Are Holly’s moms okay with it?”  He asked.

“It was their idea,” Trixie beamed back in the rearview mirror as he put the car into park.

“Alright then,” He agreed as they got out.  He waved at her shoelaces and they paused on the sidewalk so she could re-tie them.

“I don’t have to ask Mom too?”  Trixie asked, springing up from the completed task and falling into step beside him.

“I get the feeling your mother is going to be plenty occupied this weekend,” He said, somewhat sourly.

Trixie giggled, somewhat too knowingly.   He raised any eyebrow at her.

She rolled her eyes, exactly like Chloe in that moment.

“I’ve seen them kissing.  I’m happy for them!”  She said.  Her eyes lit up as a thought occurred to her.  “Do you think we’ll move in with Lucifer?  I mean, I like the apartment, but Lux is so… it’s so… it’s shiny.  And the bathtub!   Dad, did you see the bathtub?”

“Can’t say I did, kiddo.”

They rode the elevator up to his floor.  The apartment complex was a small, tidy thing.  Dan would occasionally bump into neighbors when collecting his mail but, by and large, the people living here seemed content to keep to themselves.

He fished out his keys and unlocked his apartment door, pulling it open and ushering Trixie inside.

“MAZE!”  His daughter shrieked, rushing through the threshold, and Dan stared after her with a sinking sort of feeling.

Mazikeen was indeed sitting comfortably in his den.  She had clearly made herself at home; boots up on his coffee table next to an open box of pizza.  An empty bottle of Dan’s beer sat beside it, with another mostly-empty one held loosely in the demon’s hand.

“Sup?” Maze greeted, still chewing.

Dan closed the door.

“Maze,” He said.  “How did you  – no, nevermind.  Why did you break into my apartment?”

Trixie hopped up onto the couch beside Maze, helping herself to a piece of pizza and humming contentedly as she ate.

Maze shrugged.

“I’m between apartments,” She said, as if that was the end of the matter.

It was on the tip of Dan’s tongue to retort with any of the objections one would reasonably have to being surprised by suddenly having a roommate, let alone a demonic roommate, but…

Something in the way Maze was looking at him made him pause.

It wasn’t a threat or a challenge; it was the brittleness in the tense way she was holding herself.

It reminded him of the distrust and wariness she’d had when Dan had stayed for her at the hospital.

A brief, unkind thought flittered through him – that perhaps giving Maze that consideration had been the equivalent of feeding a stray cat.

Or maybe it just the way Trixie leaned into Maze’s side, unambiguously happy and content at having Maze there.

Trixie looked between him and Maze, her pigtails brushing the demon’s shoulder.

“She can stay, right?” Trixie asked him, telegraphing quite clearly how disappointed she would be if he said ‘no.’

Dan chewed his lip.

“This is not permanent,” He warned Maze, and wandered to his linen closet to grab spare blankets and pillows for the couch.  Trixie was young enough that she wouldn’t mind camping out there, since apparently the guest room was now occupied.

Maze raised her stolen beer at him in a toast as he walked past.

Something in her expression - surprise, pleasure – maybe something almost fond, he thought – it made him think that, perhaps, this wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

“Where can I put up my swing?”  Her voice called down the hallway, addressing him.

Dan sighed.

 

 ~*~

 

A pleasant sort of tension hummed in the air between them as Chloe drove them back to Lux at the end of her shift.  LA traffic, a joy as always, meant the journey progressed at a crawl.  Lucifer’s hand was tangled with hers, lying on her thigh.  Occasionally, he would stroke her fingers, but his body was mostly tilted away from her; elbow propped on the window frame, gaze wandering out at the city and their surrounding commuters.

Chloe didn’t feel a need to fill the quiet with conversation.  Lucifer didn’t seem spaced out – merely contemplative. 

The valet at Lux gave Lucifer a cheerful wave as Chloe pulled into the private garage.  Chloe snorted, amused, and Lucifer finally glanced over at her with a little questioning sound.

“It’s just,” Chloe nodded back towards the entrance as she pulled up to park beside Lucifer’s corvette.  “The staff at Lux.  From what I’ve seen of the way they interact with you, you don’t really have problems with employee morale, do you?  You’d think there’d be more of an… I don’t know.  More of a ‘my boss is crazy but he pays well so I’m ignoring the persona’ kind of thing.”

There was a bit of mischief in Lucifer’s eyes when he grinned over at her in response.

“What makes you think they think it’s a persona?”

She laughed, as he clearly intended her to, and he smiled wider.  They exited the car, shoes clicking pleasantly in the hollow space of the garage. 

In the elevator, Lucifer turned to her.

“Shall I make us some dinne-mmph!”

Chloe was far, far too pleased with herself for wresting that surprised sound from him.  He got on board quickly, though, kissing her back, matching her passion.

He scooped her up against him, firm hands helping themselves to her ass and hoisting her up.  Chloe wrapped her legs around his waist for balance.   Lucifer didn’t fall back to brace her added weight with the elevator wall; holding her up easily without support.   Lucifer was warm under her hands - warm and firm and as eager for this as she was.

The doors of the elevator opened and Lucifer walked them through and into the penthouse.   Chloe didn’t stop kissing him. 

She absorbed the details of their progress in flashes as her eyes slid open and closed again.  The shiny, black lacquer of the piano.  The lowering sunlight reflecting in the cut edges of his decanters on the bar.  A hop and shuffle; Lucifer juggling her as he toed off his shoes.  She saw them over his shoulder – obviously out of place on his clutter-free floor.  He took the steps up to his bed and she caught a glimpse of the ugly mermaid painting. 

It made her heart clench at that reminder of everything he'd done for her.

He groaned when she latched her lips to the stretch of neck below his ear and sucked, hard.  His hands, still firmly cupping her backside, tensed and dug in.

Through the layers separating them, Chloe could feel how hard he was getting. 

She wriggled, dropping her legs, and he released her enough that she could put her feet back under her.

“Clothes,” She said simply.  She kicked her flats off.  One thumped lightly against the Assyrian wall.  She felt a little bad about that, especially now that she was pretty sure it was genuinely what it looked like and not a replica.  The concern didn’t slow her hands in undoing the button of her jeans, though. 

Lucifer avidly watched her push the denim down her legs, attention riveted on the reveal of her skin before she pointedly raised an eyebrow at him.

He gave her an unrepentant grin back but did, at last, start undressing.  The suit jacket went first, tossed off his shoulders and down the stairs without a backward glance.  The buttons of the waistcoat were undone in a flickering of his fingers.   Chloe loved his hands.   She loved the competence in the way they moved.  The waistcoat was tossed to join his jacket, its purple silk lining flashing brightly as it sailed through the air. 

Chloe lost sight of him for a moment as she pulled her blouse off over her head.  He had his own shirt off by the time she’d wrangled her hair free. 

“Oh,” She said - a surprised, disappointed sound.   His hands stopped undoing the button of his pants.  He gave her a questioning look.   She was down to bra and underwear.   These were not sexy undergarments.  She hadn’t planned for this when she’d packed her bag.  They didn’t even match.

As he took in the sight of her, the lust turning Lucifer’s dark eyes even darker, it was plain that he couldn’t have cared less.  He met her gaze again, his unspoken question hanging between them.

“Nothing,” She said.  At his ‘no, that was something, come now’ head tilt, she felt herself blush.  She waved a hand at his chest.  “You – it’s just, your chest hair.  I didn’t realize you’d shaved.”

He ran a hand along his smooth, freckled skin.

“Did you prefer…?  Apologies, Detective – ”

“No, no, it’s fine.  It’s fine,” She hastened to say.  She did prefer – had been looking forward to, in fact - but this was hardly the moment, and there was nothing to be done about it now anyway. 

A thought struck her and her blush intensified.

I didn’t shave,” She confessed, embarrassed.

His eyes flicked down to her legs and back up to her face.  He frowned his confusion.

“No, I shaved my legs, I mean, I didn’t – ”  She covered the crotch of her panties with her hand and thought - could this possibly be more awkward?

Lucifer made a little ‘ah’ sound of understanding and swooped back in, kissing her hard.

“Love, you could be a Wookie down there and I promise, it wouldn’t matter at all to me.”

She snorted.  God, he had such an appalling way with words sometimes.

“I enjoy it the way I enjoy most of the new fashions you humans cook up, but – darling, I’ve been at this for far longer than disposable razors have been a thing.  Put it out of your mind.”

His nose bumped gently against hers.  He kissed her, long and sweet, tongue slipping into her mouth playfully.  One of his hands found its way back to her ass and gripped at her through the thin cotton of her underwear.  She lost track of his other hand for a moment until she heard the sound of his zipper unzipping.

He shifted, still kissing her, getting himself out of the pants and, with a little maneuvering, pulling his socks off as well.  Chloe swallowed, acutely aware that she now had her arms full of a very naked Devil.

“Now then, Chloe,” He breathed, lips nearly touching hers.  His hands traced warm paths up her sides.  She met his hungry gaze.  “What is it you desire?”

Chloe didn’t mean to laugh.

She really didn’t mean to, and by the affronted look Lucifer gave her, he hadn’t expected it either.

“Sorry,” She said, giggling.  “Sorry, Lucifer.  I… I guess when you have your, um, whammy behind it, that sounds less cheesy.”

“Cheesy?” He said indignantly.

“It’s a bit cheesy,” She maintained.  She drew back enough to get a good look at him.  He had, as she’d suspected, thoroughly seen to his grooming. 

You’ve got some balls on you, pal.

Oh, thank you very much, but they’re really quite average.

They were, she admitted, average balls.  It was the rest of him that made her clench her thighs in anticipation.

He was beautiful.  All lean, long lines of muscles and tantalizing stretches of skin.  Even his cock was pretty, which was ridiculous.  Dicks had a habit of looking like something found out in a garden after heavy rainfall, but Lucifer was intent on being contrary here as well.  It stood out from his body like it had been sculpted, curving gently upwards towards his belly.  Thick, but not impossibly so – long, but not intimidatingly so.  The head peeked out from his foreskin in a way that was more teasing than shy.

“Like what you see?”  He asked, words curling with humor.  It was another line and he knew it from the way he was grinning at her, but she nodded.  Yeah.  Yeah, she liked what she saw.

His hands slid up her back and found the clasp of her bra.  He hesitated, waiting for her permission.  When she nodded, he undid the fastening with barely any movement.  She wondered if he’d willed it to come undone, like a locked door.  With gentle reverence, he slid the straps down her shoulders, down her arms.

Chloe resisted the urge to cover herself.  There was a part of her that hated her breasts.  More than a decade later and the vision of her in that hot tub still made total strangers think they knew the first thing about her.  She’d reclaimed them, somewhat, when she’d been nursing Trixie, but she could never quite entirely shake that self-consciousness.

Lucifer’s gaze was transfixed, looking from one to the other like he couldn’t possibly decide which to go for first.  Her nipples had tightened with excitement – the right one always inexplicably perkier than the left – and Lucifer bent his head to that slightly softer left tip.  He drew her into his mouth, tongue coaxing and flicking, and Chloe’s body jolted like a live feed ran directly from Lucifer’s mouth to her center.

She pushed her hands into his hair, pulling him against her.  He hummed, pleased with the rough treatment, and it made something low and greedy wake up in her.

Lucifer’s hands weren’t idle through this.  One drifted up to cup and tease her other breast, and the other stroked and circled a spot on her shoulder that baffled her until she remembered her bullet scar, a souvenir of their first case together.

Lucifer’s teeth nipped her playfully, and she gasped.  When he pulled his head up enough to switch to her other side, his lips were plumped and shiny.  She shivered as the chill air hit her wet skin, soothed by his warm hands covering her again.

“Lucifer, please,” She said.  She tugged his hair again just to hear him grunt, and put her hand down between their bodies and gripped him.  The rhythm of his tongue against her nipple faltered, his mouth going slightly slack, and she walked them further back towards the bed.  Her thighs bumped against the edge and he took the hint, laying them back onto it.  His cock brushed a hard line of contact along her stomach.

Chloe felt pleasantly small beneath him.  He braced his weight on his arms and abandoned her breast to kiss at her mouth instead; deep, hungry kisses.  His hips made small, rocking motions, sliding his cock along her skin. 

He turned slightly to rest his weight more on one arm than the other and let his free hand trail a path from her shoulder down her side, down to her hip.  His fingers slipped inside the waistband of her panties. 

“Yes,” She bit out, not waiting for him to ask.  She pushed her hips against his hand, and he slipped his fingers further down.  His middle and ring fingers parted her and kept going, sliding hard along her clit to rest his fingertips against her opening.  She could feel how wet she was already and was almost embarrassed by it, by how obvious she was being. 

He massaged his fingertips at that sensitive spot, not quite penetrating, smiling against her mouth as she bucked and squirmed, trying to get him to slip those fingers inside her.  Chloe huffed a frustrated sound and Lucifer laughed.

“Asshole,” She accused.

“Patience,” He answered.  He kissed her again, a brief peck on her lips, and then started kissing his way down her torso. 

Chloe caught on to his plan by the time he got to the base of her sternum.  He pushed himself up and took a new position, settling on his knees between her legs.   Chloe’s heart beat hard in anticipation as he pulled his occupied hand back, giving her clit another firm, wet rub on the way out, and gripped her waistband with both hands to pull her underwear down.  Chloe lifted her hips to free the fabric and ended up lifting her legs to negotiate the logistics of taking them off. 

Lucifer rocked back on his heels, looking at her. 

It wasn’t the first time he’d seen her naked, but it was the first time it had been on Chloe’s terms.  She found that it did make a difference.  His dark eyes took her in like she was an offering.  She felt like an offering. 

His hungry gaze landed on her newly exposed skin and he ogled her blatantly.

And, then, he made a sound - a rolling trill at the back of his tongue that was so out of place it took her a jarring second to recognize it.

It was a Chewbacca noise.

“Shut up!”  She barked, laughing even as she sprang up to slap a hand over his mouth. 

He made a muffled sound of pain at the impact, but his eyes were scrunched up in mirth.  She could feel his breath against her palm as he laughed.

She took her hand away, trying to stifle her smile enough to properly glare at him, but the humor dropped away effortlessly at seeing the smear of blood on his lips.

“Oh, Lucifer, sorry about that!” She said.  Lucifer licked the spot, the tip of his tongue prodding it curiously and coming away red.  He shrugged.

Still bright with humor, he said: “I suppose I deserved that.  Now then, where were we?”

 

~*~

 

Lucifer's lip throbbed where she had struck him but he couldn't have cared less.  Beneath him, his Detective was spread out, her skin sweetly flushed with both arousal and the lingering traces of the blush spreading down her face, all the way down to her chest.  

Here and there, she was dotted with scars.  A small white line on her thigh, straight enough to have been caused by a blade.  A little knot of white tissue by her knee.   The most eye-catching mark was the bullet scar high on her chest.  The intervening years had faded it somewhat but it was still unmistakably there.

Lucifer did not regret driving Jimmy Barnes insane.

Chloe had a bandage on her shoulder near the indent her bra strap had left behind on her skin.  He had a memory, distant and strange, of Chloe putting her body between himself and Maze.  Fresh from Hell, he’d been arctic.  His arm had pressed against her just there – just where that bandage covered – and Lucifer felt a guilty stab at knowing he’d hurt her, however unintentionally.

Lucifer pushed those thoughts aside.  Now wasn’t the time. 

Instead, he bent, kissing the spot on her knee, the scar on her thigh, nuzzling into the soft crook where her leg met her body.   She squirmed her hips and Lucifer couldn't help but smile.  He cupped her sex in his hand, grinding the heel down against her.  She rocked up to meet him, letting a rhythm develop as she spread her thighs wider still.

Lucifer spread his fingers against the soft, blond down she'd been so adorably self-conscious about, then pinched a few hairs between his index and middle, tugging just lightly enough for her to notice.

The Detective squeaked and half sat up again to scowl at him.   Face still buried up to the nose in the crook of her leg, Lucifer beamed up at her and waggled his eyebrows.

“You're such an ass,” She growled. 

Lucifer turned his head and, with no further teasing, set to the work of taking her apart with his tongue.

Chloe flopped back against the pillows, her hands burying themselves tightly in his hair – not guiding him, really, so much as simply holding on.  Her legs and abdomen twitched and jerked when he found the particularly sensitive spots.  With that map laid out, Lucifer started relaxing into this.

He had never had a bed partner that hadn't just... told him... what they wanted.  Half the time, Lucifer didn’t even need to ask – humans spilling out their desires with the simplest of come-hither glances. 

With Chloe, he didn’t have that immediate access.  He felt partly blind, feeling his way in the dark, half-sure that at any moment he’d trip over an unseen ottoman.

This, though – this was familiar terrain and lovely.

Lucifer laved her slick folds with an eager tongue.  There was something so beautifully soft and vulnerable about opening a woman like this.  It made him feel powerful – like their entire bodies were anchored by the very tip of his tongue.   He’d fallen in love with this particular act all the way back with Eve, the first time around, and time had done nothing to diminish his enthusiasm for it.

Chloe writhed and moaned and shivered.  Her hands pulled his hair, or slackened, or curled into fists, depending on what he was doing in that particular moment.

When he introduced his fingers to the mix, she was so wet and ready that his index and middle slid right in.  Her body clenched around those digits, bucking between them and his mouth, and Lucifer started pumping and curling them in time with the flicks of his tongue.

The Detective’s feet came up to his shoulders, heels digging into his back as her body tensed and tightened, the left foot finding that particularly sensitive spot where his wings joined his body. 

Lucifer groaned, letting that vibration spill into her.  Chloe gasped, hands and legs clutching him, and –

Hi Lucifer.  It’s Ella.

Lucifer stiffened. 

Hey big guy, I’m sure you’re busy with your date, so – I just wanted to tell you that I’m so glad you’re back! 

Chloe whined.  “Why did you stop?”

Ella continued.

We missed you.  I’m still not sure if you can hear these so… if you can, I’m rooting for you buddy!  And if you can’t, well, God, I know you and Lucifer have a thing, but please…

The ‘voice’ faded as Ella’s attention directed her thoughts to a different celestial being. 

Lucifer grumbled a sigh and resumed licking.  The pace had faltered, though, and Chloe – who had been on the very cusp of tipping over – had tensed up in all the wrong ways.

“Lucifer?”

He met her eyes and drew back, face obscenely shiny. 

“Nothing, love.  Errant prayer from a well-meaning and incredibly poorly-timed believer.”

He pushed his fingers deeper and she twitched hard.  She settled back again, hands smoothing apologetically along the chaos she’d wrought of his hair.  There was such an undemanding gentleness in it that Lucifer couldn’t help but smile at her.

She stroked her fingers through his hair, over his ears, down the sides of his neck.  She traced a thumb along his lips and he sucked it playfully. 

She put her hands back in his hair and, at the lightest pressure, Lucifer took the hint and lowered his head again.

“Oh,” She breathed, relaxing back into it as he picked up where he’d left off. 

“There, right there, right thererightthere,” She chanted when they established a rhythm again.   Lucifer did as instructed, rocking firm fingertips along her sensitive walls.  Her grip around his fingers was snug but trembling, still greedy, and Lucifer eased his ring finger in as well.

“Ahhh, fuuuuck,” She whispered, her throat clicking as she swallowed, tossing her head back.

“Generally the idea,” He stopped just long enough to quip.

“Shut up.  Ohhhh, please, please, more, Lucifer, more, more.”

He frowned, softly rolling her clit with his lips.  He didn’t think another finger would comfortably fit, but, in the absence of his normal surety, he decided to take her word for it.  He slipped his pinky in alongside his other fingers and tried to press them all back in. 

Chloe yelped and bucked her hips back, away from him.

She sat up and gave him a wide-eyed look.

“No?” He asked. 

“No,” She said slowly, incredulity and humor mixed in her eyes.  “I love the enthusiasm, but I’m not a sock puppet.”

He frowned again.  “Sorry, love - I think I misread you.”

A dawning flash of realization flitted across her features.  

Kindly, she didn’t call him out for the stumble, or for her understanding that he couldn’t read her desires.

Her hands moved to his biceps and tugged, urging him up.

“Come here,” She said.  “I want to feel you.”

Lucifer crawled up her body, laying her once more back on the pillows.  When she urged him down, he kissed her mouth.  She hummed, no doubt tasting herself on his lips.

Her knees bracketed his hips.   Lucifer pressed down, sliding his length along her wetness – not penetrating, not yet.  Simply letting himself feel her.  Letting her feel him.  She shivered under him in wanton pleasure.  Sweat was sticking her hair to her skin.  She looked debauched already and Lucifer grinned.

“Wait!”  She said, startling him so that his next down stroke slipped into her.  He hissed at the sudden warm pressure around the head of his cock.  She slid back enough to separate them again, and he groaned.

“Condom,” She said.  He inhaled to speak but she cut him off.  “I don’t want to hear that you can’t get me pregnant.  I’m sure Linda thought the same thing about Amenadiel.”

“He was fallen when that happened though,” Lucifer said.

“And I make you vulnerable.  Condom.”

Lucifer exhaled a slightly disappointed sigh but… well, she had a point.  He wasn’t completely sure, and this was not something he wanted to be wrong about.

He withdrew, kissing a trail down her body as he slipped far enough over to the side to get at the stash box he kept under the bed. 

The latex felt punishingly cool as he slipped it on.  He grit his teeth and gripped himself, letting the pleasant feel of his hand take the sting out of the room-temperature lubricant.  Chloe’s eyes, watching him stroke himself, were lust-blown and hungry.  The grin he sent her was wolfish, and when he pounced back on top of her, she let out a delighted little shriek of a laugh.

“Now then,” He said.  He kissed her smiling mouth, dipping his tongue in to tease and stroke.  She sucked playfully and caught the unbruised side of his lower lip with her teeth when he pulled back.

Lucifer took his cock in hand and rubbed the head against her sensitive bundle of nerves, enjoying the way her legs twitched and eyes fluttered shut.

“Ready, darling?”

“Yep,” She said blithely.  She cradled him with her knees, urging him downward.  “More than three years of foreplay is, as it turns out, enough.”

Lucifer guided himself into her.

Even as aroused as she was, it was still a tight fit.  He buried his face in the crook of her neck, breathing her in.  She kept one hand in his hair but the other stroked a soothing pattern down his back as he worked himself into her.

Sex was not a novel experience for Lucifer but this – knowing it was Chloe letting him in like this – emotion unexpectedly overwhelmed him.

“Oh, Detective,” He breathed when he bottomed out. 

They started gently at first.  Lucifer could feel her, bit by bit, adjusting to him, until the embrace that gripped him was entirely welcoming.  The pace started slow but didn’t stay slow for long.  Chloe rocked to meet his thrusts, and then started to buck more demandingly.  And, really, how could Lucifer refuse her?

Her nails raked down his back, not hard enough to welt but hard enough that his skin felt alive.  His wings thrummed like they could feel that touch.

The press of her body made him ache with pleasure.  He wanted more.

Lucifer got a hand under her ass and lifted her against him, turning them with practiced ease so that she sat astride him, knees on the bed on either side of his hips.  She grunted at the new depth the position achieved as she let gravity take her body all the way down.

Lucifer wrapped her in his arms, reveling at the weight of her against him.  He thrust up into her and Chloe bounced herself with her legs, meeting him.

The wet slap of skin on skin echoed in the penthouse obscenely.  Lucifer watched the blush deepen on Chloe’s face.  Her head fell back and she moaned as her legs lifted and dropped her, again and again.  Lucifer kissed her exposed throat, feeling the hard beat of her pulse under his lips.

“You feel so good,” He told her.  He met her eyes; brushed her hair back from her face.  “Chloe, I love –”

“Ow!”  She said abruptly, and just like that, launched herself off of him and off of the bed, doubling to grip her calf.  “Cramp!” She wailed.  “Cramp cramp cramp fuck.”

She rubbed her calf with one hand, the other cupping her sex.   She huffed out a frustrated snarl and bent enough to drop her forehead against the mattress.

“I was so close,” She complained into the sheets.

Lucifer hadn’t been far off himself, and he looked from her, to his lap with his abruptly-abandoned and almost painfully hard erection, back to her.  She had stretched out her cramping leg behind her and was pressing down on it, trying to get the twitching muscle to behave.  The hand clamped tightly over her center rubbed a pattern more soothing than arousing – a self-consoling gesture, rather than one intending to get herself off.

“I think this is the worst sex I’ve ever had,” Lucifer observed, delighted. 

What an absolute shambles.  He started laughing and, when Chloe glowered at him, it made him laugh harder. 

He had imagined having sex with Chloe so many times.  He had never imagined it going like this.

Delighted.  He was absolutely delighted.

His humor proved infectious and, after another second or so of stretching her leg and glaring at him, she shook her head, smiling. 

“We’re bad at this,” She agreed.

“So bad!”  He chortled.  He stretched his hands out to her and she took them in hers, letting him draw her back into the bed.

“Missionary it is,” He said, humor still bubbling in his voice.  Chloe slapped a hand over her eyes, her white teeth flashing in the low light as she smiled.

Lucifer took his place between her legs again.

This time, there were no more interruptions.

 

~*~

 

Later – much later, once the sun had set and after Lucifer had coaxed Chloe’s body into several screaming orgasms and had himself found satisfaction – they lay cuddled together on the bed. 

The bed was large and it had been an easy thing to scoot over to avoid the wet spots.  Neither had particularly wanted to get up to change the sheets.

Pressed against him, Lucifer could feel the fine tremors that still ran through her now and then as her body came down from the truly spectacular highs he'd coaxed it to.  She was a warm, limp bundle tucked against his side, her head resting on his shoulder.  They were both still naked under the sheets and the amount of skin pressed against him made him feel oddly cherished and protective.

They were neither of them quite asleep yet, but dozy and quiet all the same.

Lucifer stroked her hair fondly.  It was a wild disarray spilling over their shoulders and the pillows.  He couldn’t say his stroking was doing much to fix its bedraggled state.

She smiled against his chest and turned slightly into his palm when he smoothed fingers down her cheek.

He traced the edges of the bandage on her shoulder.  The day’s wear and tear and that evening’s sweat had done most of the work in eroding the adhesive.  He was able to peel it up and off with only a little tugging.

Chloe made a grumpy sound at the small sting, more asleep than not at this point.  He kissed the crown of her head in apology.

The frost burn was a healing red weal of slightly puckered skin.  The mark looked painful and sore.  It would, he thought, likely scar. 

In that tucked-away place, Lucifer could feel his twisted wings cringing in shame. 

He traced the spot with feather-light fingertips, struck by how much had changed in the short span of hours since Hell had ejected him.  He’d sacrificed his personhood and reduced himself to nothing more than a task, nothing but a function.  Now, he lay deliciously post-coital with the woman he loved falling asleep in his arms.

Lucifer’s heart beat, and beat, and beat.   Every breath drew in the warm, sweet smell of her. 

He turned just enough to lay a kiss against that frostbitten spot.  She mumbled, low and unintelligible, well and truly asleep now.  Lucifer drew the blankets up more and settled, not wanting to wake her.

He thought about Hell.

He thought about his wings and what they meant.   He thought about what he could tell Linda tomorrow – what he could share of what he’d done, what he’d become - and what would be too much for her.

Lucifer thought about Amenadiel’s unexpected offer.   Ella’s support.   Dan’s (tentative, but extant) acceptance. 

When Lucifer finally closed his eyes and slipped off to sleep, though, his thoughts were full of nothing but Chloe.

When he dreamed, he dreamed of her.

 

 

-  The End  -