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i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

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when chloe was in rome, she learned about the good things too.

 

they were horribly underrepresented, and maybe that’s why she forgot about them.  they got buried underneath the piles of death and destruction and the twist in her gut that it might be real , and in her absence away from the man in the middle of it made her forget that he wasn’t a monster.

 

they called him lightbringer.  morningstar .  he sewed the sun into the sky and planted all the stars.  all he ever wanted was his freedom; he didn’t want to be a cog in the machine of heaven and he was damned for it.  it’s sad - he created things so beautiful only to be cast into hell to be a torturer for eons.  to be something he’s not. and chloe knows that now, standing on his balcony, staring where white wings used to be.  when she looks up the stars quiver and shine, and it only brings a fresh wave of tears slipping down her face. she already missed him so badly, the taste of him still on her lips.  the bar of the railing is starting to cool in the night, but she leans into it anyways. tips her head back and wonders if he knows each star’s name, how much love was put into placing each one just so.

 

lucifer , she thinks, prays ; if you can hear me, i love you, i love you, i love you.

 

-

 

he doesn’t come back.

 

she knew he wouldn’t, back when he didn’t answer the question she’d asked about it.  she can’t be mad at him. though it hurt like someone was slamming a hammer to her chest, she couldn’t.  he did it to save her; to save them , this weird little family that had sprung up from the ashes.  if anyone were to tell her now that lucifer was selfish she’d probably hit them.  he didn’t want to go back to hell. even if she didn’t know that he’d danced around it, fought against it for years beforehand, she could see it in his eyes.  the fear. the aching sadness. she’d pray for him if she had any respect for his father, so she doesn’t.

 

every time something happens, something big or small, about her or not, she plays out how she’d describe it to him in her head.  she’d think lucifer, could have used you on this case today and dan’s no substitute.  don’t worry, we got by, but with just a little less flair , or eve and maze went out.  they look happy with one another.  maze is still mad at you for leaving, but i think she’s just grieving too.  we grieve you, lucifer , or charlie took his first steps today.  we miss you .

 

she doesn’t know if he can hear her; at some point she stops caring.  she found it helped fight through the heavy stone of loss to keep him updated.  every time, the last thing she thinks before she goes to sleep is i love you, i love you, i love you before she curls around the hollow feeling in the pit of her chest.

 

-

 

without lucifer, lux shuts its doors.  without its ringmaster, it turns from a den of delight into a graveyard.  he’d bought it - there was no need to worry about it being bought out, the last connection to him scarfed by capitalism - but no one knew how to turn the key like chloe does.  she makes sure everything stays in order; chairs upturned, alcohol stored, piano still shiny and with the cover down. there’s nothing to stop the dust so she doesn’t try. sometimes she goes up to the penthouse and just breathes the smell - stale cigarette smoke, whiskey and something else, something that smells like how it does just before it rains.  almost a storm but not quite. recently that had stopped hurting her and started to comfort, even as his scent slowly fades. she still misses him. she’ll always miss him. and the knowledge that he doesn’t want to be where he is, isolated, an angel among heathens, twists in her gut. lucifer, if you can hear me, i’m okay.  you did what was right, even if it was hard for both of us.  but please, promise me, if you can in my lifetime, come back to me, even if only a little while.  i love you, i love you, i love you .

 

-

 

maze and eve had taken her out.  chloe had had fun. maze is always good, because more often than not she has a knife for the wandering hands of men and chloe feels safe with her.  linda doesn’t have the time to come out much these days, between work and charlie, but they had called her after a few drinks, laughed and listened to her try and yell over the music.  the night is still warm when she returns to his penthouse, the drink making her a little foggy as to why she didn’t just go home. the familiar chime of the elevator holds her with arms of nostalgia, and she turns the lights on low.  she pulls the curtains and opens the doors to the balcony. she always opens the doors to the balcony, some sort of foolish hope. she grabs the terricloth she’d left some moons ago and wipes the dust from the piano. the covers on the furniture make it seem like there’s more ghosts there than there were.  chloe doesn’t notice when her hands stop moving and she sits down on the piano bench, but she does.

 

there’s an indistinct noise that comes from the open doors that she just assumes is the wind.  the innocent rapple it has with the curtains where they’re haphazardly thrown back. but there’s a shimmer of movement, just a glint of pale light that doesn’t come from the moon or the stars that makes her stand and reach for a holstered weapon that isn’t there.  she watches, frozen, as her eyes manifest the shape outside the double doors. all she can see soft light filling the whole of the balcony.

 

“chloe,” it says and chloe chokes on her breath, the tears surging up like she’d never stopped them in the first place.  she takes a staggering step forward, catches herself, clutches her hands to her heart like she can tear it out and toss it at his feet.

 

lucifer ,” she breathes, like she was punched in the gut halfway through.  the light dims, and he steps inside, his wings folded behind him and they’re trembling, he’s trembling, and he looks at her with every emotion flickering across his face.  that’s what breaks the dam, and in a few steps she’s colliding with him. she feels that tension, that fear leak out of him as she listens to the pounding of his heart where her ear is pressed to his chest, just holds him until his wings droop and he bows his head.  she arches back just enough to be able to lift her hands to his face, cradle the cut of his jaw in her hands, feel the rough of his scruff on her skin. he leans into it like he hasn’t been touched since he left, and she’s not sure he has been, so she lets him shut his eyes and revel in it, turning his head to kiss her palm like it’s the only thing he wanted to do.  eventually his hands mirror hers, come up to stroke his thumbs under her eyes and chase away the wetness, and his gentleness makes her heart stutter. she coaxes his head down so their foreheads touch, and it’s only then does she notice the coating of ash on his skin, softening his clothes, tinging his wings grey. his breath is stuttering so she doesn’t say anything about it, only catches his breath in her lungs as they just breathe together for a long while.

 

eventually he says “i heard you, i heard you ,” as she moves her hands to his hair, where it had gone curly in neglect, covering her fingers in soot.  she nods as he whispers “i missed you so much ,” and leans into her a little bit more.  chloe swallows the fire in her throat.

 

“you came back to me,” she says, and he lifts her face with his palms ever so gently, so that she has to meet his eyes.  with the backdrop of night they look unfathomable and black, like the gaps between stars, but instead of being empty they are so full.  the dwindling fear of rejection, the dull glimmer of hope, and that look that only she sees, soft like velvet, his mouth curved with none of its usual sharpness.

 

“i’ll always come back to you, darling,” he murmurs, his voice low with the intimacy of it, and she meets him halfway when he dips to kiss her.  it’s just as gentle as the rest of them, like she is something reverent that he has no business kissing but does all the same. it’s almost the complete opposite of how she expects kissing him will be every time, filled with nothing but love.  when he finally pulls away it’s only to nose into her shoulder. there’s still an odd tension to him, the odd shake in his muscles. his wings are still manifested, and they’re ruffled, puffed big as if he’s backed into a corner by something with much meaner intentions than he could ever have.  she remembers him briefly telling her that time works differently in hell. how long did he suffer there? ten years? a hundred?

 

“what do you need, lucifer?”  and he doesn’t respond, though it feels like he stops breathing for a moment.  she strokes and hand from his head down his back until they touch feathers. he shivers and she moves it back, unsure if she’s allowed to touch.  “it’s okay. you can tell me.”

 

he makes a low noise of contemplation, squeezing lightly where his hands have decided on her waist.  “tacos,” he says dreamily. chloe would have laughed if she didn’t know there was nothing to eat in hell.  “and then, i think i’d very much like to rest.”

 

-

 

they order delivery, and chloe thanks whoever is responsible for the sleeplessness of la.  she has to run down and grab the food because lucifer still hasn’t put his wings away, and when he finally does it it’s sluggish, almost like it hurts him to do so, and chloe thinks she might see something akin to panic in his eyes if she could get past how tired he looks.  there’s no foundation in hell, she supposes; nothing to cover up the bags under his eyes.  he inhales six tacos like it’s the last time he’ll ever eat before slumping back into the leather back of his couch with a borderline content set to his jaw.  he touches her all he can - knees bumping together, shoulders, hands. she keeps one hand threaded into his hair almost like an afterthought, just something to tether them together.  when he leans into her, she links their fingers together and pulls him to his feet. he gets a little bit of his usual sparkle back when she strips him of his suit jacket, just a mischievous smile and a faux inquisitive tilt of his head.

 

“sleep, lucifer,” she says, and even she can tell the annoyance in her voice is fake.  the sigh he lets out is quiet and melodramatic, but at least it’s a sign he’s coming back to himself.  she wasn’t going to let him off the hook; eventually, he’ll have to tell her what happened so they can work through it, but she suspects he’ll have to talk it through with linda first.

 

“shirt too?” he says, with some sort of innocence, and chloe shakes her head with affection, but still takes the buttons of his dress shirt through their holes one by one.  her knuckles trail fresh skin and she only grins a little bit when his throat bobs uselessly against it. she pushes his shirt from his shoulders and they laugh when they both forget about his cufflinks and his hands get tangled in the sleeves.  she pries him free carefully, nosing along his collarbone. when he can finally wring his wrists she puts the shirt on a chair and draws connections from freckle to freckle on his chest, and he watches her with dark eyed inquiry, but doesn’t move.

 

“like the stars,” she says quietly, and he makes a low noise to can feel in her fingertips.

 

“indeed.”

 

he doesn’t move away from her, and she can sense his particular brand of hesitation; stalling by tripping over something else, but this time he doesn’t open his mouth to voice it.  instead he sways into her touch and stays there.

 

“will you stay?” he says eventually, and chloe nods without thinking about it.  she knows him well now, better than he knows himself.

 

“what, no innuendo?” she teases, and he leans in to nose behind her ear.

 

“i know, disappointing.  maybe tomorrow, love,” he says.  she reaches up to shake the ash from his hair, and he only whines a little but about getting the floor dirty.  chloe strips off her jeans and takes off her bra and he doesn’t say anything about it, though he really looks like he wants to.  he’s instructed to keep his pants on, because she knows he doesn’t wear underwear. he tries to feign innocence but it doesn’t work.  they crawl into his ridiculously large bed with his ridiculously soft sheets and he makes a noise that’s borderline pornographic, sprawled onto his front.  chloe has to wonder what he has to sleep on where he had come from. rocks? does he even sleep at all? ever vigilant of the demons under his command? either way, she crawls in next to him and curls up into his side, and he turns to tuck her head under his chin with a noise of contentment and then is out like a light.  outside, the moonlight shines bright and blue, and softens his edges until he is no longer sharp.

 

 

in the morning, chloe finds that lucifer’s skin captures the warmth of the sun as readily as it hugs the starlight.  she wakes before him, and finds they have drifted apart in sleep, though not really enough to call it apart. he’s still warm and solid in front of her, and the sunlight gives him a halo and casts gentle shadows where his brow and nose and eyelashes banish the light.  in sleep he looks young, certainly not the unfathomable age she knows him to be. it’s strange to think about too hard; he was alive before light. older than she can even comprehend. and yet he still learns - still feeling his way around emotions, both his own and others.  used to things being made and held as concepts rather than implementing them. he has a long way to go still, but he’s come a long way since that insufferable prick he used to be. she could barely stand him then, and then she shot him and everything changed. he told her you make me vulnerable and while he was talking about the physicality, she thought he was talking about his feelings.  and honestly, they’re probably both right; his emotional vulnerability probably translates to the physical.  she’ll let him work that out, right now he stirs and chloe’s face softens instinctually.

 

“detective?” he asks her, his voice soft and raspy with sleep.

 

“i’m here,” she whispers back, reaching out with a careful hand.  he doesn’t flinch, and his confusion melts into something like sleep-watered joy.  he didn’t expect her to be there when he woke up, chloe realizes, right as her fingers meet where his scruff turns into cheek.  “i’ll stay as long as you need me to,” she says, and his expression melts. goes lax, reverent, as her fingers trace the slope of his cheek and the dip of his nose, the bow of his lip.  he really does look at her like she strung the stars instead, and the feeling it gives her sits under her ribs and thumps like a rabbit's foot. they’re both laying there, half convinced they don’t deserve the other but refusing to push each other away again.

 

his hand comes up to bracket her neck, his thumb on her lower lip, and she lets her teeth graze it, just because she can.  his mouth turns into an all too familiar grin, but there’s nothing predatory in his eyes. in the golden light they’re less void and more freshly warmed earth.

 

“breakfast?” he says, making no indication that he wants to move, and chloe smiles.  something in it must shock him because she watches it cross his face quicker than lightning.

 

“one sec,” she says, before she leans in and kisses him.  they’ve both got morning breath and chloe didn’t remember to take her hair out of its ponytail so it’s a nest but the noise he makes against her mouth makes it all worth it.  it’s still as gentle as every just with a little more heat, and his fingers are gripping her hip in a way that makes her hyper aware of it, and she takes his lower lip in her teeth until he shudders and opens up to her.  his compliance doesn’t surprise her, not anymore. even in her dreams he’s only ever wanted to give her everything she’s ever wanted, and she suspected his submission somewhere between their first kiss on the beach and the stories he loved to tell of past lovers, much to her annoyance at the time.  she licks into his mouth until he drags her closer, then she pulls away and presses their foreheads together, both of them panting each other’s air. when she opens her eyes lucifer looks absolutely delighted, eyes bright and shining with unshed stars.

 

“maybe you aren’t so boring after all, detective,” he says around his rushing lungs, and chloe rolls her eyes, giving him a parting peck on the bridge of his nose before flinging the covers off both of them and sitting up.  he hisses like she burned him. “give a devil a little warning,” is all he grumbles, and she laughs as her bare feet hit the heated floors. she hears him shift up behind her, and chloe turns her head just enough to watch his back roll as he stretches his arms over his head.  his scars are gone, leaving his back smooth and gilded by the sun. like a rebirth. him bathed in pluto. she supposes he traded scars for wings, no matter how much he despised them in the beginning. some bundled up self loathing that refused to believe that he could be something holy; chopping the divinity from him over and over again.

 

-

 

obviously he doesn’t have any food in the penthouse - no one’s been living there, after all - so chloe sits on the piano bench to order them breakfast.  lucifer hovers over her shoulder and dictates a few choices, nuzzling into chloe’s neck every spare moment he gets, just trying to keep some sort of contact between them.  he taps out a few notes on the piano, less of a melody and more like thought put to sound. eventually he turns his nose up at how out of tune it is and makes work of taking the coverings off his other furniture.  he still hasn’t made a move to put his shirt back on even when chloe wiggled back into her jeans earlier, and she doesn’t pretend not to stare as he paces back and forth. when he catches her he peacocks, like she was sure he would.  it makes her smile, even. she’s almost sure now that the flashy jewel tone suits of the past were for her; like a magpie, trying to court her with bright colours and shiny trinkets. she touches where the bullet necklace used to live, nestled above her heartbeat, and it’s not the first time her gut has sank when she finds it missing.

 

lucifer still seems a little twitchy, a little restless, a little agitated.  chloe knows that there’s something viceral that lucifer doesn’t like about being in hell, whether it’s the loneliness, or the surrounding pain, or the fact he’s forced to punish when all he wants to do is love, or a combination of those, she can’t be sure.  she’s not sure she’ll ever fully understand. she’ll do her best and she’s a smart woman. they’ll be okay. they both have their things to work through and they’ll have to collaborate but they’ll be okay.

 

but it’s like he has a scratch he can’t quite itch, a rock in his non-existent shoe.  he just can’t seem to settle unless she’s touching some part of him. after they cram lukewarm waffles into themselves she asks him “is something bothering you?” and watches him flounder for an answer.  he won’t lie to her, she knows that, but whether or not he graces her with the whole truth is another battle entirely.

 

“truth be told,” he starts, and chloe gives him her full attention, stroking a thumb over the back of his hand where she’s been loosely holding it since they sat, “hell wasn’t exactly made for feathers.”

 

“oh.”  for some reason, chloe never took into consideration the maintenance required for a set of wings that large.  she knows that birds preen, of course, but lucifer isn’t a bird. he’s the devil. she figured he could mojo away the dust and the dirt and the dryness.  maybe he can. maybe it’s just hell’s ashes that irritate them, but she supposes if they can batter her with wind and deflect a bullet, they could get itchy.  it’s just a bit much to think about.

 

she must have paused for too long because he starts to look uncomfortable for her; an uncharacteristic break in eye contact drags her out of her thoughts.

 

“apologies, i shouldn’t have -”

 

“lucifer.”  chloe slides a hand up to cup his jaw, return his gaze back to hers.  “you don’t scare me, remember?”

 

“right.”  and he breathes it with such a wonder that chloe's heart both fills and breaks.  he has lived for so long, so long , with so many living in fear of him.  but she can’t be scared of him. she tried to be.  she leans in to give him a reassuring peck on the lips, and when she sits back again his eyes are shining, happy and in love.

 

“you need help or anything?”  

 

lucifer makes a noise like a snort and gives a shake of his head, covering up confusion she sees so readily in the rest of his body.  “it’s quite alright. i just need to take them out and beat them like an old turkish rug, as it were.”

 

she watches him rise with one brow arched.  she doesn’t know much about angel wings, but that doesn’t seem viable.  so she follows him and leans on the doorframe while he treads carefully out onto the balcony.  it’s scarily reminiscent of when he left, except the scene is set in gold instead of silver.

 

he holds onto the railing and bows his head, pausing to take a breath that she hears in the quietness of this morning.  she understands his hesitation; despite his apparent disdain for his wings, the hellish ones he’d sprouted shook him to his core.  she saw it in him. he was scared. he didn’t want to be a monster, didn’t want the outside to match how he felt inside.

 

before she can say anything, before she can reach out to comfort him, he shifts in his shoulders and his wings unfurl from his back like a breaking wave.  the smell of ozone hits her, reminding her of rain even though the sun reflects off the feathers tenfold, glittering despite the ash. they’re massive, at least twice as long as he is tall, the long feathers draping down his back longer than her forearm.  it occurs to her then that she’s never really seen them, not this way, anyways.  she saw the devil wings, and she closed her eyes when he flew away from her all those months ago.

 

she must have gasped, done something, to get his attention, because he lowers a wing and sends a glance over his shoulder.  there’s something unreadable there, messily covered with amusement.

 

“have i broken you, darling?” he says, and she makes sure to shake her head promptly, unwilling to let him think that anything about him frightens her, even for a minute.

 

“you’re beautiful,” she breathes without meaning to.  he chuckles, disbelieving and high, so chloe corrects to “ they’re beautiful,” before he does something rash like launch himself off the building.  he makes a noise, lifting his wings into a lazy arch so he can tilt his head up to look at them.

 

“i suppose,” is all he supplies, but there’s a soft look on his face.  she can’t even begin to try and dive into his head, but she thinks he might have a greater appreciation for them since he’s lost them against his own terms.

 

he lifts them with a little more purpose and chloe quietly appreciates the shift of muscle in his back.  she’s not sure how they really attach , but he’s literally an angel so she’ll let the anatomy lesson of the whole thing slide over her.

 

lucifer flaps his wings and sends patio furniture skittering, rattles the doors on their hinges, and sends a shower of dust raining.  every flap after that kicks it back up, and chloe is really not sure if it’s helping at all. chloe has to fish her hair out of her mouth, but she’s laughing.  his wings comically droop as the ash flutters back down to the floor.

 

“bollocks.”  lucifer sighs and straightens back up, his hair and feathers ruffled.  he shifts from foot to foot, sighs again. from what angle she can see of his face he looks almost annoyed as he tucks a hand around his ribs before bringing it to the longest feathers at the tip of his wing.  running his fingers along its shaft, it comes out gleaming like a sunrise on the other side.

 

grooming.  he’s grooming himself.

 

almost like an afterthought, his eyes flick back over his shoulder at chloe.  she smiles at him and watches some of that characteristic tension melt from his shoulders.

 

“mind if i watch?”  she says, stepping outside to rescue the patio recliner from its overturned state.  

 

“voyeuristic, are we?”  he says playfully, but doesn’t make any move to stop her.  she still stands and waits patiently for him to roll his eyes and nod.  she sits, and after some consideration so does he, perching at the end of the recliner near her feet so she can sit cross legged and watch.

 

he lifts a wing his fingers go back to the same spot they went before, coming away slick.  she ducks her head to look, and he very patiently keeps his wing raised. when she tilts her head and squints, he laughs warm and low, extending his wingtip to graze flight feathers over her arm.  the feeling buzzes through her like a current, blooming across her skin like spring.

 

“don’t exactly have a birdbath big enough, so i’m afraid i have to go old school,” he says with a shrug, as if that explains anything.  she watches the methodical movements of his hands as he starts laying his feathers flat again. once the ash is gone, the feathers catch the sun so readily that they look like they’re glowing.  quietly, chloe takes out her phone and googles how wings work. understandably, she gets results for birds, but she wasn’t exactly looking for specifics. idly, she reaches one of her feet out to push it against his thigh.  he hums his thanks. when he tugs out a loose feather, he reaches over and deposits it in her lap until there’s a small pile, each feather thrumming with energy and giving her goosebumps.

 

with the help of the internet, chloe learns all she can about bird wings, while also watching curiously as lucifer preens.  he looks borderline uncomfortable with the whole thing, his jaw set and his movements not exactly gentle, but also like it’s the most natural thing in the world.  she has to realize that it is , despite him cutting his wings off.  he’d had them since before the birds were moulded after them.  he starts from the tips in, from the top down, and chloe quickly learns he must have preen glands somewhere up under his wings, near his ribs.  it’s a little shocking, but not the weirdest thing she’d found out about him. she wonders, briefly, if god thought of his angels when he made the sparrow and the hawk.  she can see it in him a bit, the colourful suits and the way he tilts his head when he’s confused.

 

she locks her phone just in time to watch him try and twist to an impossible angle, wings stretched out awkwardly.  his wings are pure white and glittering like the sun off the water beyond the balcony to about halfway. up close she can see a little more nuance in them; a few patches where the feathers aren’t as long, evidence of where the bullets ripped them apart, and how halfway through his wings the feathers don’t lay right.  she assumes he has this battle every time he tries to groom. he huffs an exasperated breath and resigns himself to straightening out the feathers he can reach again, meaningless little tugs that don’t really do much other than make his wings twitch. chloe puts down her phone.

 

“do you want help?”  she asks, and he stops to turn his head and contemplate her.   he seems to run through a few different options, all flashing behind his eyes.

 

“no one has groomed me since i lived in the silver city.  i can do it myself,” he says. it’s the regular edge to his voice that she recognizes so clearly; a bite of sardonic that easily covers up a primal fear of letting people close to him.  no one’s treated him with a gentleness since before he fell. there was no one to ice the bruising.

 

“i know,” chloe says, steadfast, picking up a down feather to twirl in between her thumb and forefinger and feel the static seep into her skin, “but you don’t have to.”

 

there’s a look on his face that she’s seen only a few times before; like he’s so fascinated by her that there could never be anything more worth figuring out in the whole of the universe.  it makes her feel special while also tugging something sharp in her chest. when was the last time someone touched something other than his body? why was he so devoid of affection that he doesn’t even have the courage to ask for something as simple as this?

 

“well,” he says, and his voice actually sounds a little small, “i could use a bit of a hand.”

 

she smiles at him, and he returns it, dropping his eyes before he shifts around to sit fully facing away from her.  chloe carefully moves her pile of feathers and gets up onto her knees, the wicker of the patio chair yielding against her weight.  he’s got tension in him again, shoulders square, his wings up, so chloe reaches for the skin where neck meets shoulder and just puts her hands there.  though he hasn’t said anything, this sort of practice seems intimate, something shared amongst other angels. she’s not an angel, and she’s nervous too, but she’s going to be strong for him in this moment, because he’s come so far and she knows he can be so afraid of the softer things in life, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the knife to finally come down.

 

“you’ll tell me if i screw up, right?”  chloe rubs her hands along his shoulders, trying to push some of the tension out.  his shoulders drop a fraction as he utters a laugh, soft in the lazy afternoon light.

 

“you’re too good to me, detective,” he says, just as her hands run up into his hair, so it sounds breathy and distracted, which is what she was going for.  she kisses his shoulder.

 

“the right amount of good.  ready?”

 

he sighs, then nods his head.  carefully, chloe moves her hands down, trailing over the back of his neck all the way down to the patch of skin that turns into feathers is.  she rests them there until she sees his shoulders relax again, then moves them out to pet his feathers, just stroking them, hopefully easing him in to the feeling of someone other than himself touching his wings.  at first they come up again, clean flight feathers spreading in something she could only describe as agitation. she’s instantly intrigued by their expressiveness, very close to how expressions on his face are exaggerated.  it seems to translate to his wings, which, once they discover that she is not a threat, relax, held half open. it takes a little while, and she adjusts a few little feathers while she waits, but eventually he deflates with an inarticulate murmur, shoulders dropping, his head tipped forward.

 

“okay?”

 

“yes, detective.”

 

she skates a hand down under a wing, searching along his ribs until he jerks and one wing thrashes out, sending a table flying.  chloe freezes, but lucifer thrums with laughter not a second later so she can safely say she didn’t traumatize him. instead she puts two and two together and lets a smile worthy of the devil stretch over her lips.

 

“is the devil ticklish?”

 

“it would seem so, yes.”  he voice has the tone of someone who just let it slip that they’re ticklish.  chloe won’t do anything about it now, but now that she has the information there’s no wresting it from her knowledge.

 

her second attempt is more successful.  she finds the oil gland near the base of his wings, slightly raised under his skin, and the liquid it gives her is thin and light, and smells like a million things that she supposes were inspired by it.  what her mind settles on is the ocean right before a rainstorm; like salt and brimstone.

 

she starts with the little feathers near his shoulder blades, and at first she’s too gentle, afraid of hurting him.  he tells her with no annoyance that she needs to pull a little to get them straight, and to just pull along the shaft of the feather.  there’s no way she possesses the strength to yank them out unless they need to come out.

 

by the time she needs to shift over to choose one wing or the other, lucifer’s eyes are closed, lips parted just a bit, looking every bit as relaxed as she wants him to be.  his wings are low, but his feathers are spread, and if she’s being truly honest with herself if does look like he’s presenting a bit, but she won’t comment on it now.  when she moves over he tips his head back onto her shoulder and makes a happy noise.

 

“good?”

 

“better than heaven.”

 

she snorts and tugs on one of his longer feathers, and his wing twitches in response.  his eyes flutter open and he gives her a signature smile, which she kisses. for maybe longer than she should have, until he lifts a hand to the back of her head and licks at her lips and she pulls away and can’t help but notice how dark his eyes have gotten.  she has a job to do, and he easily lets her get back to it. if angels could purr, he’d be doing it.

 

when chloe is finished, she strokes her hands over the strong arch of his wings and admires her work.  the lightbringer’s wings are such a brilliant white in the sun that they’re reflective, the light bouncing back into her eyes as a million colours, prismatic in its purity.  he does purr then, just a little bit, and pushes the solid mass of his wings back into her hands, a contrast to when they first started. he wants her to touch them, seems to enjoy it, and she’s overjoyed that he allows himself to be so vulnerable with her.  it’s a grand step, hopefully leading to less tripping over himself in an attempt to spare her from himself. the wings make the hairs on her arms raise, each feather imbued with divine power she can almost wrap her head around, not really sure she deserves to touch but he seems to think so, so she does.

 

eventually, chloe ducks under a wing, politely raised when she manipulates it so, and slides into lucifer’s lap.  his eyes flutter open, giving her a quick once over, before he grins, slow and lecherous, moving his hands to her waist with the same soft, worshipful way he always touches her.

 

“hello,” he says, accenting each syllable.  chloe cradles his face in her hands and his stubble is rough where her hands have softened with angel oil.  she smiles.

 

“hey,” she says, and his head tips easily back for her to kiss him.  he sighs and it’s thunderclouds and warm sunlight against her lips, and despite everything he still almost tastes like expensive whiskey and spice.  she tugs his hair, just because she can, and he makes a low noise into her mouth, his wings bearing their vulnerable undersides and trembling. she pulls back, intrigued, and passes a hand over the underside of his wing.  there’s still some grime stuck to the inner feathers, but for now she pets, and looks up into his open eyes.

 

“they’re so… expressive,” she says.  almost as if showing off the fact, they puff a little in indignance.  their expression is mirrored on his face.

 

“it’s why i never got used to lying.  no use with these bloody feather dusters attached to me,” he says, giving them a betrayed look.  chloe can’t help but laugh, reaching to trail her hand from the arch of one of his wings to the very tip of his last primary, relishing in the flutter of his eyelashes.

 

“what does it feel like?”

 

lucifer hums at her question, taking a moment to process.  trying to translate it into something she could relate to. he struggles, probably because he doesn’t have much of a language for intimacy.

 

“well, we angels use it for strengthening bonds, mostly.  so i think it’s relaxing on instinct. it feels nice. it feels like you love me.”

 

he looks so hopeful, uttering those words, that chloe blinks back the threat of tears and rests her palm back onto the softness of his cheek.

 

“i do.  i do love you,” she breathes, bringing their foreheads together once again.  he smiles, bright and hopeful enough for the sun to blink.

 

“and i you,” he says, tipping his face just enough that their noses brush.  warmth blooms in chloe’s chest like a rebirth. he clears his throat after a moment, clearly still coming to terms with his comfort with her, and that’s okay.  it’ll come in stages. “we usually do this as a mutual activity, but,” he skates his hands up her back. she nods, understanding. instead, she shakes her hair out of its loose ponytail, letting it fall messy around her shoulders.  his eyes light in curiosity, his careful fingers tangling in the end of the strands.

 

she smiles at him and says, without thinking it through, “want me to do the front?”  and she has to lower her traitorous face when it burns red and his grin and raised brows.  she smacks him in the chest with no real aggression until he noses up under her jaw and his smile goes soft again around the edges.

 

“i think i’d like that, detective,” he says, and she wastes no time getting back to it.  now, from her new place straddling his thighs, she has to wrap her arms halfway around him to reach his preen glands, and he takes every opportunity to press his mouth to the curve of her neck or the bend of her shoulder through the fabric of her shirt.

 

the feathers inside his wings are softer somehow, even if chloe isn’t really sure she’s feeling them or the static of their energy.  from here, she can see his face, how his eyes flutter shut, his eyelashes dark and obvious against the skin of his cheeks. she grooms him unhurriedly, relishing it as he seems to as well.  all the while, he picks the knots from her hair as if it is second thought, a reflex of her own mintrations. he never tugs, never pulls, and yet gets her hair smooth and free of tangles without even a comb, without even his eyes open.  it seems to calm him even more, head tipped to the side, neck casually bared. he lifts his wings agreeably when chloe nudges them up so she can reach feathers closer to the center of his wings.

 

chloe does her best not think about how long it’s been since someone touched him with the intent of doing just that.  just to touch him. she just knows; his aversion to hugs, shying away or just tolerating touch from trixie or ella. even with her, in the beginning at least, it took him a few moments to fold her arms over her.  she thinks it’s why he’s so gentle with her; he’s unsure of himself. he’d never admit it, but it’s true. he doesn’t know what touch without pain or sex really means. he’s relearning. it will take time.

 

chloe intends to give him his fill of it though, all he can drink from her.  and if she’s being honest she missed him so badly that she wants to keep him corporeal beneath her fingers.  well, as much as he could be. now that she has permission, chloe can’t quite keep her hands off of his wings, and he’s pressed his forehead against her shoulder and let her pet.  he even folds his wings in once she’s finished straightening the last feather, and they are impossibly warm where they brush against her knees. they have things to talk about, things to sort out, things they’ve been through in the absence of one another, but this, just being quiet together for once, for once just breathing each other with nothing keeping either one of them from stealing a kiss or a touch whenever they want is a sort of catharsis that each of them needed.  he’s placed one of his hands on her ribs, and though he’s nestled his face where she can’t see it she can feel his eyelashes on her skin. she knows he’s feeling her heartbeat, the slow ebb and flow of her breath through the stretch of her ribs.

 

it’s not long after that that he does give her a nudge, saying darling, my legs are falling asleep into the crook of her neck.  she chuckles, kisses him twice on the lips and shuffles off his lap until she is standing.  lucifer looks good, bare chested and disheveled just a little, not having had the time to properly put himself together since he came home.  there was something utterly soft about the way his hair sticks up and the faintness of the circles under his eyes. she’s so used to him looking otherworldly in the way he’s put together, not a hair out of place.  she’d say he looks almost human, if it weren’t for the glittering wings folded casually behind his back, and the way the sun catches just so , looping his head in a golden circlet of light.  he stands, and stretches his wings out with a shuddering sigh, shivering all the way to the ends of his primaries.  they catch the light, now clean again, and all chloe can think of is stained glass windows. prisms and stars. when he folds them back, chloe steps forward and trails a finger down his longest feather, so thin and sleek it feels almost sharp on her skin.  he tilts his head, blackthorn eyes glittering in mischief.

 

“my darling detective,” he starts, his voice low and playfully accusing, “if i didn’t know any better, i’d say you’re developing a fetish.”

 

chloe hates her traitorous face, for it does scrunch and burn at his comment, further inflamed by the way his grin stretches at his words.  it would be a hard fight to win now that she’d blushed like a schoolgirl with her crush revealed, so she just bites her lip and tips her head up to meet his leering eyes.

 

“shut up and spread ‘em.”  lucifer has the audacity to look scandalized, even though he breathes a noise that’s definitely the first half of a laugh.  that expression melts into unfettered joy soon enough, and chloe grins back at him.

 

“oh, bossy ,” he purrs, “lucifer likes.”

 

it’s chloe’s turn to look incredulous, but it quickly cracks into laughter.  he smiles, softer, before he complies with her request. he stretches his wings out again, this time less for a stretch and more for a show.  obnoxiously flexing and arching his wings until chloe has to roll her eyes at him and step into him again.

 

“lucifer?”

 

“yes?”  he sounds incorrigible.  

 

“are you trying to seduce me like a bird of paradise?”

 

she expects spluttering, indignant at being called something as lowly as a bird , for he is the devil , thank you very much.  instead he flares out his flight feathers and ducks his head a little, his eyes black and glittering like a snake’s.

 

“is it working?”

 

chloe barks a laugh at the same time the flirtatious facade slips off his face and morphs into something more genuine.  she steps to him again, and he lowers his wings instantly to accommodate her touch. he curves them gently around her, the static zinging through her, lighting her up all the way to her nerves.  she finds by pushing a few of the shorter feathers away she can reach the skin underneath. he makes a surprised little noise, but otherwise doesn’t try to stop her. it makes something warm bloom in chloe’s chest that under the feathers charged with ozone, the skin just feels like him.  just lucifer. solid and present under her fingers.  angel or not, devil or not, he’s just the man she fell in love with, wings and all.

 

he places his palm at her jaw and tips her face to kiss her on the lips, the other hand curling around her hip where her shirt had rucked up.  she bunches her hands in his feathers on instinct and he shudders against her, making a barely there noise against her mouth.

 

“as fun as these are,” chloe says, right against his lips, his fingers trailing along the inners of his wings, “how about we clean the rest of you?”

 

he makes a distracted noise and drops his lips to her neck.  she laughs, a little breathless, and says “shower, lucifer,” and takes her hands from his wings with some difficulty.  he perks up.

 

“will you be joining me?”  he asks, hopeful as ever, and chloe rolls her eyes fondly, even if it ends up slipping to a smile anyways.

 

“maybe, if you’re good.”  for now she ignores the shiver that runs through him, just out of politeness, but she’ll be keeping it in mind.  he looses a laugh that is just on the off side of high and breathless, but manages to shrug his shoulders and put his wings away.  chloe raises her hand to where they once were and finds the skin on his back smooth and perfect, devoid of even the scars she’d seen there all those years ago.

 

-

 

they don’t fuck in the shower.  a few years ago, it would have surprised her to no end that lucifer wouldn’t jump on the chance, but she knows better now.  she suspects, as she should, that he may not know how to handle love piled on top of the desire, that it might scare him a bit.  and he does love her, should tell by the way he knelt to take her clothes off, like she was some sort of alter he thought he needed to ask forgiveness from, and the way he’d washed her hair for her without her even asking.  they talk about a lot of things, like what he did to escape hell ( democracy, darling ) and a little bit about some things she wasn’t quite caught up on.  her being a miracle. some more things about cain. and she should be freaking out but she’s not because this is her life now, now that she’s really committed to loving the devil.  and he loves her, slicked down by the water, touching her like a prayer stuck in his throat, like he has nowhere to go but repent unto her, sure and solid but soft and yielding under her hands.

 

-

 

it takes a few weeks.  for lucifer to get oriented again, and to get lux groomed and ready to be opened again.  they take their fair share of space from one another - chloe has a job and a child - but they spend time together as often as possible.  most of the time it’s quiet, just sitting together, warmed by each other’s heat.

 

linda is the first person to know lucifer is back.  he calls her with chloe sitting next to him, and she smiles when linda immediately burst into tears at the sound of his voice.  he goes to see her, and comes back looking a tonne lighter, a little less haggard, a little less tired.

 

next was maze and eve, and maze is furious in that way she gets, and she pushes him and he lets her.  she’s yelling you bastard!  you told me you’d never abandon me! and he just repeats i know, i’m sorry until she runs full force into him and crushes her arms around him and cries.  eve is softer, comes up to the side of both of them and whispers i’m glad you’re home and leans into his shoulder.  amenadiel already knew, and just smiles and pats lucifer’s shoulder when he shows up at the penthouse one day.

 

and now the rest of them are coming, to celebrate the club opening up again, and he looks positively nervous.  chloe’s not sure why - everyone missed him when he went away - but she knows he holds onto guilt like the hand of a jilted lover.  he’s pacing a little, just back and forth in front of the sofa where chloe sits. he’s done up, black suit with red lining and eyeliner clean enough that chloe’s actually jealous .  she’d tried to reassure him, but he’d responded to all of them with a distracted yes, quite and tugged his sleeves.  he freezes when the elevator dings, and chloe swivels her head to watch the chrome doors slide open.

 

trixie wrenches herself from her father’s grasp and sprints across the penthouse with a delighted cry of lucifer’s name before latching onto his leg and clinging like the force of her love could keep him grounded there forever.  ella is not far behind, striding over with a grin and a murmur of c’mere, you big lug before folding him into her arms.  he stands, hands up as he usually does, and for a split second chloe thinks he might panic.  he surprises her by lowering them slowly, one to the top of trixie’s head and the other to wrap around ella’s waist.  he tucks ella under his chin.

 

“we missed you,” she says, her usual unfettered joy bleeding through her voice.  lucifer smiles.

 

“it was hell without you, miss lopez.”

 

chloe gets up to pry trixie off of lucifer and ella releases him on her own, leaving dan standing there awkwardly, shifting from foot to foot.

 

“look, lucifer, i -”

 

“i forgive you, daniel,” lucifer says, not allowing dan to finish.  there’s a long beat, before dan smiles and says “thanks,” and claps lucifer on the shoulder.  lucifer even manages to not look entirely offended by the action.

 

they go down the elevator, and lucifer leans into chloe as the float gently downwards, towards where lux has already come to life beneath their feet.  quietly, she skims her fingers from his elbow to entangle their fingers. if anyone else notices, they surely don’t say anything, though chloe can see her daughters grin, bright as the sun, through the corner of her eye.  she can’t help but smile in response, even if she doesn’t look at trixie directly.

 

dan takes trixie home, citing that the club wasn’t really his scene, but he has a bit of a knowing look in his eye.  trixie gives lucifer one more crushing hug, and makes him promise to come over. by the time chloe and lucifer make it down the stairs, they’re both gone through the front doors.  the patrons of the club aren’t rowdy yet. it’s still early enough that sweet jazz music filters through the air and the people are elegant, sipping champagne. lucifer gets a full blown cheer when his first foot hits the floor of the club, and it’s only then that he lets go of chloe, just to give an exaggerated bow.

 

“did you miss me?” he calls into the crowd.  the next round of cheers brings a smile to chloe’s lips, and she brings her newly free hand to cover it.  still, he comes back to her and takes her by the arm, leads her to the bar where he tells the bartender to get her anything she likes.  he kisses her hand, just a brush of his lips against her knuckles, his gaze full of tenderness, before he backs away from her. he weaves through patrons until he can sit at the piano bench under a spotlight, the instrument glossy enough to reflect the lines of him to the ceiling.  the club quiets and stills as he presses the keys into his first chord. he forgoes an intro, just gets into the swinging beat of the song. chloe doesn’t know it, but she admires it anyways, admires him anyways, as he opens his mouth and lets the love pour out, his eyes flickering over to her in an instant.  he sings something about the death of a bachelor, and it’s enough to make chloe’s heart swell and her cheeks heat, especially when ella won’t stop nudging her with her elbow.

 

he comes straight back to her once the final notes have rung out, and he wrings his wrists as he does so, fixing his cuffs.  his face is light and free of his prior nervousness, strung out on the high of performance as the people around him clap. he pauses in front of her, reaches out to tuck her hair behind her ear, and lets his hand linger on the side of her face.

 

“may i kiss you?” he says, just loud enough to be heard over the beginnings of a new song.  ella’s delighted gasp makes them both grin.

 

“you may,” chloe answers, with a bit more conviction.  he dips easily to catch her lips with his own. it doesn’t last long; the cheer that swells from the people make both of them smile so their teeth click together.  he doesn’t seem to mind, though, pulling away from her with a bit of her lipstick on his mouth and fondness in his eyes. he takes her hand, and allows him to lead her out onto the dancefloor, ella hollering her acceptance behind them.  lucifer spins chloe around, and then holds her close, his arm slotted around her waist. it’s the most natural thing for her to thread her fingers through his and wrap the other around the back of his neck, hand in his hair, and let him lead her.  the song is slow in beat, the guitar swooping into her ears, and the voice croons so soft and sweet. lucifer leans his lips against her ear and hums the melody, the lyrics only coming to fruition during the last line. i slithered here from eden just to hide outside your door he murmurs to her, low and intimate, and chloe turns her head and kisses him.

 

outside, dusk creeps over the sky like a plum blanket, and venus shines proud and bright like a lighthouse.  if stared at long enough, it looks like it has wings.