The coffee maker at the precinct is broken again.
Cold, congealed caffeinated sludge sits inside the pot, heavy as sediment; the last remains of yesterday’s stirring beverage. It’s still early – it’s not even eight o’clock yet – but someone’s already tried to resuscitate the coffee maker, without much success. The lathered sponge in the sink, an open can of ground coffee, and a depressingly clean mug, abandoned in rage, all serve as witnesses to this despicable tragedy.
Chloe sighs dejectedly and taps the ON switch aggressively a couple of times, praying for an unlikely miracle.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t count on that,” she hears behind her and turns around to find a very sympathetic Ella Lopez regarding her with understanding. “At least five people tried to do what you just did, Decker. The patient is dead, doctor; just sign the death certificate already and let the family move on.”
Chloe’s shoulders slump in final acceptance, and she leans against the counter and crosses her arms. Just her luck. She was too hyped up thinking about today and what it’ll bring to have breakfast at home, strongly depending on the precinct coffee.
Ella joins her and nudges her shoulder, smiling encouragingly.
“What’s up, Chlo; something wrong?” she asks, voice quiet and caring. “You look like you could use a few shots of tequila and a good massage.”
Ella’s not wrong; Chloe is a wreck. She should probably just get hammered at a spa. That would save her some valuable time.
“I’m just nervous, I guess,” she admits lowly, afraid that someone might overhear her. “I’m feeling like a stupid teenager at the moment.”
Realization dawns on Ella like a lovely sunrise.
Her eyes widen, smile broadens into a full-fledged grin; Chloe really hopes she doesn’t end up squealing.
“Oh my God!” Ella cries and detaches herself from the counter. “I totes forgot! Lucifer is coming back today, isn’t he? You must be so excited, Decker!”
Chloe frowns. ‘Excited’ is probably not the word she’d use to describe her nervous state of being. Truth is, she’s much closer to ‘terrified’ and ‘nervous wreck’, than she is to ‘over-the-freaking-moon-delighted’. Because, apparently, it’s somewhat heavy on the nervous system to meet your newly-minted boyfriend again after a two-week separation; the first two weeks of your fragile, newborn relationship, in fact.
“ Well…” She cringes and shrugs. “I’m definitely something .”
Ella stares off into space and chews on her lower lip in deep contemplation.
“Where did you say he ran off to again?” she asks with that eerie, far-away voice she sometimes employs when she thinks out loud, trying to solve some forensic puzzle. “Reno, was it?”
“Vegas,” Chloe intones, response ready for a quick draw, “On business - he thinks of opening a club there; took Maze with him. She still handles his books.”
He didn’t want to leave on the trip. Didn’t want to leave her right after they’d finally decided to ‘just be’, but he had seemed excited about this new possibility before that motel case, and she thought he should go. She knew he was restless, knew he needed this new project in his life, so she encouraged him to pour his own brand of vice into Sin City.
Making out on her sofa, after Trixie fell asleep, he even whispered into her hair to come with him, take that well deserved vacation, but she only kissed him some more and politely declined.
It was too soon, too precious a thing to ruin after months of misconceptions and egg-shell dancing; she just didn’t want to risk it.
She loved him. What were two-weeks of being apart?
“Sounds interesting,” Ella quips, wiggling her eyebrows. “So, did you have a nice weekend in Vegas? Did you even leave the hotel room?”
“I’ve not seen him since he left, actually,” Chloe admits, shrugging. She tries for indifference, but the nervous twitch of her fingers gives her away. She flexes them into fists and crosses her arms. “I had Trixie with me, and I didn’t want to – you know – rush things.”
Ella stares at her for a second in disbelief.
“You two were literally stuck at the motel room from hell, Chlo,” she intones, arching both eyebrows.
“It’s not the same,” Chloe blurts, squaring her shoulders on an almost unconscious level. “It’s not.”
Ella smiles softly and nods her head, no doubt trying to pull the conversation back from the argument zone.
“Hey, I get it,” she says, steering back into ‘naughty territory’. “I bet you must have had long, extremely naughty video chats, instead. Am I right?”
Chloe blushes to the roots of her blonde hair and coughs in mortification. She can’t help but recall a very particular phone conversation that took place a few nights ago; can’t help but remember his deep voice in her ear, and the sound of her own rapid breathing, and the soft whisper of his moans as she cried out into the receiver, breaking his name in her throat as she came. How he begged and pleaded and reached his own high, the breathy notes of his sighs and cries causing her to break and shake and ache so deliciously that she could still feel it the next day.
Ella takes one look at her expression and crows.
“You did!” she cries gleefully, and Chloe tries to shush her, her hands waving frantically in front of her face.
“Oh, no way, Decker,” Ella shakes her head, beaming almost manically. “You gotta give me some details, sister. I’ve been waiting for ages, just gathering dust, for you two idiots to hook up!”
The catch in his voice when he uses her name in reverence, the filthy little encouragements he utters in her ear, the dip in his voice when he whispers that he can’t wait to be inside her again-
“I’m not telling you anything!” Chloe squeaks, heat climbing up her ears. Ella grins slyly.
“All right,” she sing-songs, turning on her heels, “I bet Lucifer will shout it from the rooftops anyway.”
Chloe grabs Ella by the hood of her jumper and yanks; the startled forensic scientist yelps in surprise. To their left, sitting at his desk and nodding off into a steaming cup of herbal tea, Detective Rodriguez jumps at the sound, nearly upsetting his boiling beverage in the process.
“Don’t you dare!” Chloe squeals quietly, mortified at the mental image of Lucifer leaning down to Ella’s level and whispering about how ‘the Detective’ sounds when she –
“Okay, okay!” Ella giggles, reaching out to touch Chloe’s arm placatingly. “I won’t encourage him or anything. But, just tell me this – is he as good as people say he is? Come on, you gotta give me something , Decker!”
The touch of his fingers against her heated skin, the ghost of his lips on her quivering throat, the slant of his hips, long and deep, as he moves within her with skill and ardent determination.
Chloe nods hurriedly, the conflagrative heat reaching her scalp, and watches as Ella’s eyes widen with this little tidbit of information.
“Chlo’,” she breathes, leaning in, “are we talking multiple orgasms good?”
Her belly tight with his moving fingers, the look in his eyes when she shudders above him, the rush of warmth as he spends himself inside her, his hands shaking slightly against her skin.
“Okay, going now!” Chloe yelps, and turns on her heels, all but bolting towards her desk and away from the lovely, albeit nosy, forensic scientist.
“No biggie, Decker!” Ella calls in her wake, giggling and snorting in a rather unladylike manner. “I’ll just get it out of you on the next Tribe Night, when you’re drunk off your ass!”
Chloe makes a mental note to never drink alcohol in Ella’s presence again.
Half an hour later, she finally manages to focus on her latest case file. The victim is a young woman in her late twenties, found strangled in her own house, with ligature marks around her bruised neck. Chloe solves this case alone but chats about her hunches and suspicions over the phone with Lucifer, who seems happy enough to fulfil his consultant role in the free gaps in his busy schedule. He tells her to trust her instincts, offers encouragements, and proposes his own conclusions based on the information she relates to him. She catches the killer, a rejected co-worker, after following one of Lucifer’s suggestions, and she tells him as much just a moment before he offers phone sex.
Brilliant, Detective, I knew you would catch the rascal; now, what are you wearing?
Despite the abominable lack of caffeine, Chloe finds herself utterly engrossed in the paperwork. She scribbles away, her pen rasping loudly on the page, as she’s filling out the arrest report. That part didn’t go smoothly; she had to run five blocks to catch the bastard. Perhaps it’s time to lay down the lemon bars and join the local gym? She could do with more exercise. Some cardio will no doubt do her good.
She reaches out for a sticky note, intending to write ask Dan about recommended gyms , and jumps a little when she notices the Grande Starbucks cup on her table. The strong smell of ground coffee with just a splash of caramel syrup awakens her taste buds and stirs her heart. It rattles in her ribcage and flutters in her throat, making her breath hitch and her lungs constrict. Her eyes follow the cup upwards, catching on dark green wool and stumbling on charcoal-coloured cotton, until they land upon the Light of Creation.
“Hello, Detective,” Let There Be Light says, and his voice is mellow, like wine and honey and root beer and mead, and Chloe’s lips part at the smile on his face, and the edges of her mouth curve upward.
“Lucifer,” she sighs, and blushes at the breathy tone of her voice, at the infatuated nuances of her speech, but his eyes light up at the sound of his name on her tongue, and shame becomes irrelevant.
“Miss Lopez texted and related the horrible news to me,” he points to the paper cup, his eyebrows arching. “So I brought you coffee. Just the way you like it.”
“Thank you,” she says softly and takes a grateful sip. The beverage is bitter and a little salty, and Chloe sighs in pleasure at the familiar taste, as it slips down her throat, hot and comforting. Lucifer’s eyes follow her movements greedily, and there’s famine in his expression when he looks at her, an unrestrained want in his ancient gaze.
Chloe nearly chokes on her coffee at his heated look and places her cup back on the table.
“Come, sit down,” she rushes, pointing to her right; if they don’t tone it down, the entire precinct will be privy to their ‘eye-fucking’, as Ella would, no doubt, eloquently put it, and Chloe really doesn’t want that. “I’m just finishing the paperwork for the case I was telling you about.”
Lucifer rounds the table and pulls an errant office chair over. She marvels at the way he folds his tall form gracefully and lowers himself onto the narrow confines of the chair, sliding incredibly close to her so he can peer over the open case file.
“Yes, the Maddie Jones case,” he muses, leaning over the papers, his leg and arm brushing against Chloe’s side.
His almost impossible proximity, the scent of his cologne, the warmth of his body seeping through the soft wool of his expensive suit – they’re all doing quite a number on her already weak restraint. She is fire next to him, ready to burn, willing to be incinerated with a single touch. Her fingers shake a little as she moves to retrieve her pen, and he notices the movement and turns his head just so, bringing the strong line of his jaw closer to her moist lips.
“Hi,” she breathes softly, when she’s certain that everyone around her is occupied and paying them no heed.
“Hello,” he answers just as gently, and moves his head a little higher, so that her lips brush his stubbled cheek.
This is ridiculous. So very utterly ridiculous. Chloe’s heart hammers in her chest, thudding wildly and threatening to burst. She is a grown ass woman, for crying out loud! Teenagerly infatuations are nothing but history to her, stuck somewhere in the past behind one failed marriage and a brief engagement to the world’s first murderer. She feels almost sick, anxious in her bones, the blood in her veins boiling and rolling, unable to settle. Is this how being in love with the Devil feels? One giant bag of rampaging rhinos in her gut, all the time ?
“I missed you,” she confesses, her lips unbearably close to his left ear. “But, please , Lucifer, can you move a little further away?”
He catches her meaning instantly, and his face breaks into a leering grin. He leans even closer to her, making her gasp almost inaudibly, before moving away and folding his hands in his lap. He’s pleased with himself, she can tell, and the easy smugness in his posture threatens to ignite a fire of a different nature in her belly, but when her gaze glides to his face and she can see his eyes, she knows he’s affected too.
His expression softens when he looks at her, the remains of longing shining through.
“Chloe,” he begins earnestly, his voice low and gentle, and her heart stutters and gasps, “all I thought about was – ”
“Dude, you’re back!”
Both Lucifer and Chloe start and turn guiltily to the source of the excited outburst, to find Ella Lopez standing with her eager arms outstretched. Heaving a sigh, the Devil rises gracefully to his feet and, with an air of a condemned prisoner accepting his punishment, moves into the anticipated embrace.
“Yes, hello, Miss Lopez,” he exhales as she squishes him with her arms and leans her face into his waistcoat, beaming beatifically. His hands twitch at his sides for a few moments, indecisive and awkward, until they finally come to rest on Ella’s back, tapping on her jacket in an uncomfortable ‘there, there’ gesture. Chloe tries not to laugh.
Ella leans back and cranes her neck upwards to peer at Lucifer’s face, her arms still holding him tight.
“Man, we’ve missed you! The precinct is not the same without you here.”
Chloe has to agree.
Lucifer’s hands move to Ella’s arms and pry them gently off his body.
“Yes, well, of course it isn’t,” he agrees, still a little uneasy, “but I’m here now, and I have no intention of leaving.”
He says the last bit with his eyes on Chloe’s face, clear and bright and full of meaning. And Chloe’s heart jumps a little in her chest and stumbles. Ella notices the look and smiles slyly.
“Awww,” she coos, elbowing Lucifer in the gut playfully,” you two are totes adorable! Just do us all a favour and bo-“
“Not another word, Ella!” Chloe rushes in, before the forensic scientist can complete her lewd suggestion. Lucifer’s posture finally unstiffens, and he eases into a carefree pose, leering wickedly.
“Well, she’s not wrong, Detective,” he offers unhelpfully.
Chloe jumps from her seat, red-faced and a little too hot under her jacket.
“Right,” she commends, rounding the table, and pointing at Lucifer. “You, stop talking, and come with me!”
She grabs his sleeve and pulls, and he, delighted at the bossiness and the possibility of office canoodling, lets himself be yanked towards the evidence room.
“Oh, are we going to now, Detective?” he asks hopefully, his voice eager and ready. In the background, Chloe can hear Ella’s excited ‘get it, Decker! ’ , accompanied by some loud whooping .
“No,” she hisses through clenched teeth, her face threatening to explode, “you and I are going to collect Maddie Jones’ belongings and return them to her grieving mother. I promised.”
“You’re so good, darling,” comes his softly spoken reply, and with a lurching jolt she realises that he’s suddenly much closer to her than he was a few moments ago. His breath is hot on her nape and she can almost feel the hard muscles of his torso, can nearly touch the solid mass that is his body. Fire courses through her veins, licking at her blood with eager greed, and she shivers, casting worried glances around her.
“ Lucifer ,” she pleads, and her voice is low and shaky, and he understands and takes pity on her, moving just a few steps back.
He helps her carry the cardboard box out of the precinct, aids her in neatly putting it in the trunk of her car, shoving her army of reusable bags to the side for more space. They get into the vehicle in total silence, not a breath or a word shared between them, but when she reaches for her seatbelt, twisting her torso slightly for leverage, he pulls her to him with gentle hands; the belt whirls back into place with a light ‘thud’.
His mouth is hot and slick and desperate against her pliant lips, and his eagerness twists her belly into knots, yanking at the nerves in her lower abdomen. She gasps into his mouth when his bites at her lower lip, her fingers digging as deep as they can into his arms, and he moans filthily and pulls himself a little closer.
One of his hands is on her nape, drawing her closer into the kiss, and Chloe wishes that she were the kind of person to just throw caution to the wind and climb him in the middle of the precinct parking lot. But then he pulls away, and she's left bereft, her chest heaving and fingers still stiff against him.
"I wanted to do this from the second I laid eyes on you today," he breathes, his hand clenching a little on her wrist. "Wasn't I good to behave, Detective?"
"Very," she gasps, nodding frantically. "Very good."
"And I'll be even better tonight, if you let me."
"Yes!" she agrees, her hands slipping from his arms and settling on the wheel. She needs to ground herself.
"Can I come to dinner, darling?" Lucifer asks, looking at her heatedly. "Is the spawn with you?"
“Yes, of course you can come,” she replies a little breathlessly, staring forward; she doesn’t trust herself to turn and look at him. “No, Trixie’s with Dan tonight.”
"I'll bring some wine, then." He announces lightly, and Chloe almost laughs with giddy relief.
He's back. He's back. And they will be tonight .
She pulls out of the parking lot carefully, her heart light.
Chloe is still in her work clothes when Dan comes to pick Trixie up for the night. He watches in amusement as she rushes around the kitchen like a headless chicken, cutting potatoes into fat rings and rubbing salt and thyme into the steaks with inexperienced fingers.
“I take it Lucifer is back,” he pipes from the living room, his hip leaning against her sofa, “and that you two are…”
He trails off, but she doesn’t need a freaking GPS to find his meaning.
“Yes, we are,” she replies shortly.
At least, she thinks they are.
Dan raises his hands in mock surrender.
“Hey, I didn’t say anything,” he says defensively, his eyebrows arched. “If you’re happy, I’m happy. Lucifer… he came through, back then, you know…and, there are worse men – “
“Gee, thanks Dan,” Chloe interjects dryly, her eyes narrowed and a little bit crazed with cooking fever.
Dan laughs awkwardly and shrugs.
“I only meant that I no longer think he’s the ‘Devil.’” He winks, seemingly proud of his witticism. Chloe nearly chokes on her spittle.
“Right,” she replies weakly, and goes back to cutting the greens.
Trixie flies out of her room, backpack at the ready, and frowns at the image of her mother toiling over skillets and pots.
“Why can’t I stay, too?” she whines, frowning in petulance. “I want to see Lucifer!”
Above her head, Dan arches an amused eyebrow.
Because mommy really wants to have the Devil on his knees tonight, monkey.
“Next time, babe, okay? I promise.”
“Come on, munchkin,” Dan supplies, steering the frowning girl towards the door, “let’s give mommy some space to cook. God knows she needs all the help she can get.”
“Hey!” Chloe exclaims, brandishing her knife theatrically at their retreating backs, “I heard that!”
Dan throws a laughing ‘see you, Chlo’ over his shoulder and shuts the front door behind Trixie and himself.
Chloe looks at the rubbed down steaks and at the chunks of greens forlornly. Dan is right; she really does need all the help she can get.
Too bad she didn’t think of takeout.
In a fit of naughtiness, she wears a tiny skirt to dinner. It’s short, and it’s tight, and it’s black, contrasting very nicely with the alabaster skin of her shapely legs. She has a wonderful time imagining Lucifer’s reaction to this little piece of garment, and she wonders what else she can do to drive him just a little bit wilder.
She leaves her hair down, knowing he likes it when it’s loose and tumbling over her shoulders and finds a pretty green top in the back of her wardrobe. She stares at herself approvingly in the mirror when she sees how well it accentuates her breasts.
Now, what was it they said about tempting the Devil?
The look he gives her, standing in her doorway looking for all intents and purposes like sin incarnate, is worth all the anxiety over dinner and dress code. His gaze glides down her body in sultry fire, taking in every detail, drinking in all the features in quenched dedication. His hand rises to clutch at his heart.
“ Darling ,” he gasps exaggeratedly, staggering a little. Chloe rolls her eyes affectionately, her blood thrumming in her veins.
“Get in, you big dork,” she mutters, colour high in her cheeks. She doesn’t miss the want in his eyes, clear and obvious; doesn’t overlook the flexing of his restless fingers as he stares at her.
He walks in, places the frightfully expensive bottle of red wine on the table next to the door, and inhales deeply.
“Mhhmmm,” he moans appreciatively, closing his eyes and tilting his face upwards a little. “Something smells lovely !”
Chloe smiles and preens just a bit, gratified and pleased with his compliment.
“Yes, I cooked!” she breathes out a giddy little laugh and beckons him to follow her into the kitchen, “I made steak and potatoes, and – “
Lucifer grabs her wrist and pulls her to him, kissing her soundly on the lips, and Chloe starts at the unexpected reaction to her cooking, her surprised squeak muffled by his eager mouth. He hoists her upwards by her buttocks, his fingers drawing dangerously close to the line of her underwear and slipping downwards, brushing against her centre.
“Lucifer!” she yelps, clutching at his shoulders and clinging to him. “What about dinner?”
“Sod dinner, darling,” he growls, nipping at her jaw, licking at her skin. “I’d rather eat you out, instead.”
And suddenly she’s not even disgruntled at his reluctance to eat the meal she painstakingly made, not the least bit bothered by his dismissal of her culinary toils.
“Oh,” she breathes, craning her neck to allow him better accesses, “I – “
“Say ‘yes’, Chloe,” he pleads with her, moaning softly, his teeth dragging against the shell of her ear. “I’ll make it so good, I promise. Let me make you come, darling.”
“Okay,” she replies shakily, thighs straining around him, fingers catching in his perfect hair – and when he smiles, all teeth and sin, his tongue darting out in filthy invitation, she mutters a little, “ fuck ”, and cants her hips forward.
“That’s the idea, darling,” he groans and bites his lower lip, and Chloe just can’t believe – can’t perceive – how this being, this sinful angel, full of vim and lust and all the best parts of damnation, is hers and hers alone.
They stumble to the sofa, drunk on their kisses, high on endorphins, and collapse onto the cushions in an undignified heap of limbs, laughing like two naughty children.
And as the giggles and laughs die down and are replaced with soft gasps and quasi-silent moans, they fall into each other, burning bright with fire and desperation.
“Oh G – damn it ,” Chloe mutters into his mouth, remembering herself just in time, “I missed you. I missed you.”
Lucifer’s lips quirk and flex beneath her, his tongue slick against her teeth. One of his hands is fisted in her hair, the other massaging her exposed thigh.
“And I you,” he groans, sinful and desirable, all want and fire. “Such a wicked little skirt you have here, darling.”
She’s straddling his narrow hips, pressed tight against his hardness, and pushes him into the armrest, gasping when his trousers rub softly at her skin.
“It’s for you,” she admits hotly in his ear and feels him shudder beneath her, his fingers tightening on her thigh. “Do you like it?”
“Bloody hell, Chloe,” he mutters, pressing his lips to the column of her neck, his hand dropping from her hair to brush against her collarbone. “I think you may just end up giving me a heart attack.”
She laughs and presses into him, eliciting a repressed groan from the depths of his belly.
“I’m so glad you’re back,” she sighs and pulls his lower lip into her mouth. “I missed feeling you.”
“Like this?” He breathes and pulls her impossibly close, the plains of her stomach pressed tightly to his clothed abs. “Or, maybe, like this?”
His hand on her collarbone drops to her left breast, skimming it softly on its way down to her hips; the fingers at her thigh inch higher and brush at the edge of her cotton panties. Chloe gasps into his mouth, and arches into his inquisitive touch.
Lucifer smirks delightedly, pushing the fabric out of the way.
“Oh, darling,” he moans in her ear, his tongue darting out to lick at the shell. “I’ve dreamed of this for – “
The shrill sound of her phone ringing interrupts the torrid teenage snogging session, and they both freeze, darting calculating glances at the offending device on the coffee table. Lucifer recovers first, sliding his fingers against her, kissing at her neck. Chloe gasps and bucks into his hand.
“Ignore it,” he sighs into her ear. “Let it go to voice mail.”
“I-it may be…work!” she gasps, pushing herself upwards and over him to reach for the phone.
“Spoilsport,” he pouts, eyes shining mischievously, his slick fingers resting against her naked thigh. She blows a raspberry at him, earning a chuckle, and picks up her device. Sure enough, the caller ID reads ‘Dispatch’.
“Decker,” Chloe answers, settling back onto Lucifer’s lap, drawing out an exaggerated moan from him at the sudden friction. She pushes at his chest a little forcefully and he smiles, integrating his fingers behind his head and relaxing into the arm of her sofa.
The voice on the other end of the line delivers bad news. Chloe sighs dejectedly and looks over at Lucifer with clear apology in her bright eyes.
Their first night back together is cut short. There’s been a murder.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Lucifer and Chloe arrive at the crime scene.
It's a little after 9:00 p.m. by the time Chloe and Lucifer make it to the apartment complex where their recently deceased victim used to reside. The two-storey compound is L-shaped, complete with a rusty looking staircase and a few underwatered pots occupied by dying vegetation of some sort. The peach coloured walls are in desperate need of a few coats of paint, and the roof looks like it requires mending, its tiles bending a little at the edges, sloping towards the corroded drainpipes.
Chloe shivers a little at the thought of living in such a place.
“Homey, isn’t it?” she asks sarcastically, looking critically around the place. The apartment is on the second storey, judging from the infestation of unis and forensic technicians roaming the area.
Lucifer hums in agreement and skips over to the rundown stairs, bowing courteously, his right arm outstretched.
“After you, my dear,” he says, smiling widely.
Chloe laughs a little, tugging on her jacket lapels – nice, green tops and tight, short skirts are frowned upon at crime scene investigations.
“You’re in good mood, aren’t you?” she asks lightly, her blood still hot from their aborted amorous activities. Lucifer shrugs.
“The sooner we finish here, the sooner we can go back to yours, darling.” He grins salaciously, his heated gaze gliding down her body appreciatively. “I’m ravenous .”
Something in his expression tells Chloe that it’s not her steak and potatoes that he plans on eating. She blushes furiously and clears her throat.
“Lucifer,” she hisses as she passes him on her way up the stairs, her embarrassment making her voice a little shrill, “this is a crime scene!”
“So it is,” he agrees easily, following close behind, his fingers tapping softly on the small of her back. Chloe tries hard not to lean into his touch.
He drops his hand the minute they enter the two-bedroom apartment, stuffing it into his trouser pocket instead, and she breathes a little sigh of relief at his new-found ability of being somewhat professional.
It doesn’t last long.
Lucifer takes one look around the place and makes a disgusted little sound at the back of his throat.
“Are we sure the victim didn’t just off themselves?” he sniffs haughtily. “I know I would, if I were forced to live here.”
Chloe wrinkles her nose, on the verge of telling him off for his lack of sensitivity, but decides against it. He has a point.
The apartment is shabby looking at best; the few existing pieces of furniture are tattered and old. There seem to be candles everywhere, and a strong scent of fennel permeates the air, making Chloe’s throat tingle unpleasantly. Three bronze bowls, with various contents, stand on a side table by the entrance; Chloe moves her ponytail out of the way and leans down to take a quick sniff. The rancid smell of crushed hawthorn leaves invades her nostril and all but makes her gag.
“Ew!” she exclaims, straightening up, pressing two fingers to her nose . A couple of unis pass her by on their way out, nodding in sympathy.
This crime scene is weird, even by her new standards.
From the corner of her eye, Chloe can see Lucifer rooted in place, the beginning of a frown darkening his eyes. She follows his gaze and stares at the wall.
The miserable, bleached surface stands almost bare in its unremarkable nakedness; a few bumps and ridges are blooming here and there from an uneven paint job done in haste. There are no pictures on the wall, no photographs of family or friends, no trite inspirational quotes – but there are posters. Chloe squints and leans a little forward to get a better look.
The sheets – two in number – belong to some sort of metal band, Chloe hazards a guess. They’re grim and gory and make her skin crawl. One of the posters shows a naked lady bathing in a dirty tub filled with blood; the other portrays the Devil in the midst of defiling a naked nun, his bat wings flailing behind him, his tail curling around her thigh. The words “Get Thee Behind Me Satan” are curving and writhing at the bottom of the page in what appears to be orange flames.
So that’s what’s caught Lucifer’s attention.
“Wow,” Chloe says, half-turning to him, her face working through an awkward smile, “This must be really up your alley, huh?”
She tries to get a rise out of him, fully expecting him to say something incredibly lewd, like I’d rather be up your alley, Detective, but Lucifer remains pensive.
“Hey,” she says, reaching out and touching his arm, “You okay?”
He starts a little at the contact, looking at her fingers in surprise, like he wasn’t aware of her presence next to him until this very instant.
“What? Oh – you mean this ?” he mutters, attempting a smile of his own, but his eyes slide back to the poster. “This is offensive, Detective. I’m much more handsome.”
He attempts to joke, too, tries to get a smirk or a snort out of her, but his heart’s clearly not in it.
Chloe’s fingers tighten around Lucifer’s arm in a show of sympathy and she opens her mouth to offer him some comfort, but before she manages to utter one word, the two of them are being hailed to the living room to inspect the body.
The victim – a caucasian young woman – lies half-curled on a ratty, fraying rug, her crop top stained with blood. The dark, crimson liquid pools under her skinny body, staining her pink pixie cut and clumping her hair. Her arms and bare hip are covered in tattoos, no less nasty than the posters; half her face and her bellybutton are pierced. Ella Lopez kneels over the body, bottling some samples.
“Gnarly, isn’t it?” she asks, leaning over and peering at the victim’s double-pierced lower lip. “Nice piercings, though.”
Lucifer scoffs and stuffs his hands into his pockets. “So, what do we know about the poor wretch?” he asks, suddenly very matter of fact; his eyes stray to the poster again. “Apart from her abominable taste in music, of course?”
Ella’s head shoots up, revealing the affront on her face. “Hey, man, don’t diss! Cradle of Filth have a wicked sound,” she cries in indignation, before shrugging and returning to her inspection of the corpse. “Or at least they did, a few albums ago.”
Lucifer turns to the forensic scientist in surprise. “Et tu, Miss Lopez?” he asks incredulously, his face a mask of almost laughable astonishment.
Ella shrugs again and raises her eyes to look at him. “What can I say, dude? It hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns up here,” she explains simply, pointing at her head.
This seems to rile Lucifer up.
“Let me guess,” he drawls, his eyes dark and glinting. “It was before you found Dear Old Dad.”
Chloe decides to intervene before this little discussion turns into the theological spat from, well – Hell. She clears her throat purposefully and crosses her arms.
“Um, guys?” she asks, quirking her eyebrows at the victim when Ella and Lucifer finally turn to her. “Body to inspect?”
Ella flushes a little and rises from her crouch.
“Right! Sorry, Chlo!” She smiles embarrassedly and takes a notepad out of her jeans pocket. “Okay, so…the victim is Martha Terrance, 29; neighbours called 911 because they heard some serious shouting. By the time the police got here, this little lady was freshly dead as a doornail. And the evillest part? COD is knife to the heart.”
Chloe frowns and squints at the dead body.
“What’s so evil about this one?” she asks, unfolding her arms; across from her, Lucifer squats next to the body, his face in a deep frown. “I mean, we’ve had plenty of victims who were knifed in the chest – it’s horrible, but – “
Ella shakes her head.
“No, Chlo; you don’t understand. She died from a single stroke to the chest. Like, wham! One thrust, right into the heart! That’s crazy !”
Chloe scowls and bends at the waist, her hands on her thighs; better take another, closer look at the corpse.
Most of the tattoos on the woman’s arms are what one may assume are classic ‘kids into devil worship’ images. Chloe grimaces at the variety; there are many of them, all of different sizes. Some are black and white, with just a splash of shading, others are an angry burst of red and brown, and bluish-grey. A goat’s head here, a raven standing on a heap of corpses there; some winged demons, a pack of hungry-looking wolves, frothing at the mouth and ready to kill. There’s a tattoo of a waning moon on the inside of the victim’s wrist. Chloe’s eyes move lower, to the woman’s hip, and she squints. The rather large tattoo on the pale skin there is far less elaborate than those on her arms. It’s simple and clean, all lines and no shade: a reversed pentagram with some weird scribble inside.
“What’s this under her left ear?” Lucifer asks, his voice sharp, and Chloe looks down at him in surprise. He’s still crouching by the victim, looking troubled and alert.
Ella leans in and moves the victim’s chin upwards carefully.
“Huh, nice catch, dude!” She whistles, smiling in an encouraging, complimenting way. “I think it’s a birthmark, shaped like a star. Awwww!”
Something changes in Lucifer’s face, and Chloe’s heart plummets into the suddenly gaping abyss in her abdomen.
His eyes are wide with… something as they scan the woman’s body, cataloguing all the joints and skin blemishes and tattoos like a wizard archive keeper. Down they glide, calculating and narrow, inhuman and ancient, until they stumble upon the reversed pentagram on the discoloured hip.
Lucifer pales so rapidly, so suddenly, that for a moment, Chloe fears that he might faint. He even sways a little, almost losing balance, nearly succumbing to the beckoning pull of gravity; and she’s about to jump, to catch him, to steady his equilibrium – no matter the audience – but he rises to his feet so swiftly, that she swallows her cry and balls her hands into fists. Her nails scrap deep into her skin, and it hurts and pinches, but it seems such a trivial thing when there’s very little blood left in Lucifer’s face.
“Dude, you’ve gone all white!” Ella exclaims, one gloved hand outstretched. “Do you need to puke? Because if you do – just do it away from the body!”
But Lucifer doesn’t answer. He stands over the dead woman, still as silence, shoulders slouching forward just a little, his face gaunt and pale and drawn, as if he is Death itself. His eyes are dark and cavernous, deep-set in the bloodless plains of his handsome face, and the cheap artificial light bounces off the irises, almost making them gleam red for just a brief moment. Chloe shudders at the sight.
“All good, Miss Lopez,” he says at last, and his voice is low and a little rough; his eyes still fixed on the deceased. “The tattoos seem interesting. Worth a few extra snaps, don’t you think?”
Ella frowns and leans forward to squint at the eyeball-eating raven.
“You sure?” she asks incredulously, her eyebrows arching in a way that screams ‘sceptical’, “I already took some – “
“Quite sure,” Lucifer cuts in, his uncharacteristic stillness finally bleeding away into his more common fidgeting. “Now, if you ladies will excuse me, I think I shall wait outside.”
He’s gone in a heartbeat, breezing out the door like a Formula One driver, his feet thudding down the rusty staircase.
“Is…everything okay?” Ella asks, slowly recovering from the slight shock that usually accompanies dealing with Lucifer.
“Not sure,” Chloe replies truthfully, squinting at the gaping door. “Can you do me a favour, Ella?” She turns to the forensic scientist, taking a notebook out of her jacket pocket, and hands it to her. “Can you ask the unis to take statements from the neighbours? Thorough ones? I think I need to…”
“Go already, Decker!” Ella says, rolling her eyes and reaching for the notepad. “I’ll take care of things; you do what you gotta do.”
It’s not very professional of her, she knows, but the way he looked when he stared at the body, the way his whole countenance seemed to turn to stone – there’s something obviously off with this case. Something off with him.
The pungent mix of hawthorn and blood gives way to the cool night air as Chloe steps outside the dreary apartment and draws a deep, gluttonous breath into her lungs. She can see Lucifer a few feet away, leaning against her Cruiser and smoking a cigarette. The smoke rises in the air, dissolving into nothingness above his head as the Devil sucks greedily on the tobacco fumes; when the cigarette is done, he stomps the butt beneath the sole of his expensive shoe and immediately lights another.
This does not bode well.
“Hey, you okay?” Chloe asks when she reaches him. “What happened back there? Do you want to talk about it?”
Lucifer blows out a ring of smoke and looks at her, clear irritation on his face. “So many questions, Detective,” he bites out, but mellows down a little at the unimpressed look she’s giving him. “Not particularly.”
Always undaunted, Chloe takes a step closer into his space. She can smell the rich scent of his cologne, the whiff of tobacco and expensive spirits on his breath. Lucifer takes another drag and turns his head to the left, blowing a fresh ring of smoke away from her face.
She waits him out.
“What you have there,” he says at last, nodding towards the police-infested apartment complex, “is not your ordinary kind of murder, Detective.”
“I figured,” Chloe answers, smiling a little to defuse the tension, but Lucifer doesn’t return the gesture.
“Have you?” He asks instead, and his voice seems distant, almost detached. He blows another wisp of smoke, this time from his nostrils. “And tell me, my clever Detective, did you also happen to figure out what is wrong with this case?”
She doesn’t answer him, just crosses her arms and arches her eyebrows expectantly. The nice, warm feeling in the pit of her stomach from earlier, the nervous, anticipating flutter in her ribcage at their halted kisses, is gone – only to be replaced with the dead weight of unavoidable apprehension.
“Very well, I’ll tell you,” Lucifer concedes when he realises that she’s not about to give him anything. He points in the direction of the apartment with his burning cigarette, barely avoiding scorching Chloe’s eyebrows in the process. “Your decorated victim is a witch, my dear.”
The surprised laughter that erupts from Chloe’s throat is so loud that it startles two unis standing beside the dead woman’s door. The ridiculousness of his faux-easy comment grates a little on her nerves, and she’s about to berate him for it, but the look on his face makes her take a step backwards and gape.
“You’re serious,” she mutters, all mirth and annoyance gone from her system.
“Like a knife through the heart, Detective.” Lucifer intones and throws away his cigarette butt. He does not reach for his packet again, opting to take a swig from his flask, instead.
“What? H-how ?” she stutters, frowning. “Is that even possible? How do you know?”
Lucifer stares ahead gloomily, his eyes fixed on the dying bushes in their morose cracked pots. “I saw her mark.” He answers quietly, his voice unnaturally hollow.
Chloe looks around. There aren’t many people about – not at this hour – but any minute now noisy neighbours and tired unis can trickle down the rusty stairs and get closer to a conversation nobody but herself needs hearing. Biting her lip and taking a deep breath, she makes a hasty decision.
“Get in the car,” she orders, turning back to Lucifer.
He arches his eyebrows sluggishly. “Whatever for?”
His voice is so morose, so devoid of emotion, that she finds it impossibly hard to reconcile this Devil to the one that was kissing her breathless just an hour ago.
“We’re going back to mine” she explains, already opening the door to the driver’s seat, “and you’re going to tell me everything.”
The ride back to her apartment is deathly quiet. Lucifer spends the entire drive staring out of the window, his stance guarded, almost hostile – as if any touch, or look, or word that may be directed at him has the potential to cause him harm. His shoulders are slumped, and his right leg keeps jumping, and Chloe feels the pit in her stomach yawning wider, demanding tribute, and threatening to swallow her whole.
The house is dark and silent as they shuffle in; the warm scent of baked potatoes and grilled meat is all but gone. Chloe thinks of the painstakingly prepared meal she put away in the refrigerator before they left, and her spirits tank even lower. She doubts Lucifer will have the appetite for a steak dinner now.
He heads straight for the sofa, sinking into the exact same spot he occupied just a while ago – back when his hands were full of her hair and her flesh, when his lips were hot and moist against her skin. But kisses and lovely whispers are things of the past now, the moans and groans of yearning replaced by the sound of his fingers uncapping his flask. He takes a deep swig and gestures for her to join him, the glint in his eye almost manic.
“Oh, do pour yourself a drink, Detective!” he cries in false cheer, swinging his flask in the direction of the abandoned bottle by the door. “But not, I think, of the ’69 Chateau Margaux. No, that one’s strictly for happy occasions! Your usual cheap swill will do nicely for this one, methinks!”
Chloe’s not deterred by his prickly words, nor is she frightened off so easily by what is clearly a bout of self-loathing. She rounds the counter and comes to sit by his side, clearly closer than he thought she would, because when her knees brush his, he starts and turns to her with round eyes before the mask of sarcastic indifference slips back into place.
“What, no fortifying drink, Detective?” he scoffs and takes another sip from his flask. Chloe notices his hand shaking just a little. “My, my, aren’t you a tough one.”
“Lucifer,” she says quietly, prompting him to start his story. It doesn’t look like he’ll appreciate being touched now – not from the rigid way in which he sits on her sofa – so she balls her hands into fists and rests them in her lap, waiting for him to speak.
Lucifer sighs and rests his elbows on his knees, the flask dangling idly from his dexterous fingers.
“Did you know, Detective, the Jews almost got it right,” he begins, sending a humourless smile her way. “Clever people, the scapegoat of human history, in a way – I sympathise, of course.”
Another sip. Another sigh. The flask stays uncapped.
“I’m sure you’ve heard of the Kabbalah,” he continues, throwing her another quick glance, to gauge her reaction, note if she follows. “It’s the secret philosophy of the divine, of Creation – fascinating stuff, mystical – and, as it happens, very close to the truth, at times.”
“I have heard of the Kabbalah, yes; this is L.A., you know,” she teases him gently, and her heart flutters briefly at the soft little laugh that escapes his tight lips. “Has it got anything to do with our case…?”
Lucifer frowns, his eyes fixed on the flask. The silver, polished surface glints in the faint light, the tiny bright blots winking in and out of existence.
“In a way,” he replies cryptically. “I’m...getting there.”
Chloe nods, her hands still fisted in her lap. Confusion sits heavy in her chest, but she dares not rush him further than she already did, not when he’s attempting to tell her the story of his own volition.
Lucifer brings the flask to his lips and takes yet another sip. Several long seconds pass before he speaks again.
“The Kabbalah tells us that the Angel Raziel wrote a book of God’s secrets and passed it on to Adam, after the expulsion from Eden, to help them survive on this cruel earth,” he explains, his voice quiet and low.
Chloe shivers, sitting next to him. She can suddenly recall those first few weeks after she’s been made privy to the truth, that jarring feeling in her chest at the full knowledge of who he truly was - he who made the stars, the one who wrought the light of Creation, the favourite son who paid for his sins in a lake of fire.
“And did he?” she asks, almost whispering. Everything is silent around them, still as the grave.
“She,” Lucifer corrects her, smile-adjacent. “Raziel is my sister, Detective. The Angel of Mysteries – raz is one of the Hebrew words for ‘secret’.“ He slips the flask back into his pocket and brings his palms together. “Now, this is where the Kabbalah takes a little detour off the truth, I’m afraid. There’s no physical book, you see; no pages of incantations and spells. No, it’s more, shall we say, abstract than that.”
“Magic,” Chloe breathes, her fists tightening.
Lucifer hums in agreement, his eyes glinting in the dim light.
“Well done, Detective,” he praises her softly, appreciating her deducting skills. “Raz was always a bit whimsical. From what I heard from Amenadiel, she decided to give magic to humans as some sort of a science project – she wanted to see what would happen.”
Lucifer laughs, but the sound is hollow and devoid of humour and Chloe frowns at the bitterness in his tone.
“And Raziel didn’t give magic to Adam,” he supplies, shrugging almost carelessly, “She gave it to Eve. You women have the gift of life; things grow around you. This makes you more prone to the occult.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Chloe asks quietly; she doesn’t like the strange mood Lucifer’s in. “What’s it got to do with you? With the case?”
Lucifer rubs his palms over his knees and turns to look at the door. It’s pretty clear that they’ve now reached the part of the story he’s quite reluctant to disclose.
“Ah,” he mutters, and tugs on his cufflinks, his gaze slipping towards her coffee table, “I’m offering you my ‘origin story’, so to speak, Detective. Surely, you’ve heard the expression, the Devil’s handmaiden ?”
Chloe frowns in confusion.
“But you just said -?”
“That I have nothing to do with magic – quite right,” he concludes, reaching for his flask again. “But tell me, darling, when am I ever taken seriously when I speak the truth?”
This one hurts, even after a few months. She bites at the inside of her lips and keeps quiet.
“Witchcraft was almost always considered heresy, you see; the roots of this ridiculous notion go as far as the fourth century CE.” He scoffs and uncaps his flask, drinking deeply. “Christianity came a’ knocking, and the vilifying started. I’ve not had a quiet moment since – the Devil made me do this, the Devil made me do that – as if I’ve got nothing better to do with my time!”
He throws the flask on her coffee table and jumps a little at the clatter it makes.
“It’s empty,” he explains, looking at her apologetically. She doesn’t offer him another drink.
Lucifer takes a deep breath and continues. “So, witchcraft was heresy, and heresy meant devil worship, but for years being accused of it did not mean you’d meet a gruesome end.” A bitter chuckle rips out of his throat, and he presses the heel of his palm to his chest and rubs, as if he can actually feel the physical pain. “No. That came much later.”
Chloe stares at him, her breathing starting to pick up. “Lucifer,” she mutters, “I don’t understand….”
He shuts his eyes tightly and shakes his head, the heel of his palm still pressed to his sternum.
“I…came up top at the beginning of the 11 th century; got bored of Hell, wanted a little holiday,” he carries on, as if she hasn’t spoken; his voice is grave and low, and it shakes a bit towards the end of the sentence. “I came upon a remote little village in the Scottish Highlands, decided to stay for the view. There was a woman…” He sighs and his eyes open, and Chloe can see remorse shining clear in their depths. “She was lovely, darling; hair the colour of fire and spirit just as wild. Her ample breasts and round belly drove me mental, and I spent most of that visit on earth in her bed.”
“Thanks for the trip down memory lane,” Chloe comments dryly and Lucifer snorts.
“Are you jealous of a millennium-old ghost, Chloe?” he asks, amused despite himself, and she shrugs in what she hopes is nonchalance. Lucifer nods and tugs on his jacket.
“I told her who I was, and she believed me,” he continues, his voice a few centuries away. “She was what you kids would now call a Wiccan, a white witch; good, kind – pure, even.”
Chloe rolls her eyes at the ‘kids’ remark, but chooses to disregard it, nodding for him to continue, instead.
“After I left, rumours started roaming,” Lucifer says softly, and the bitter tone, the cruel layer of self-loathing, creeps back into his voice. “She was a gifted midwife, she’d never lost a child, never had a mother die in childbed; so, they accused her of cavorting with the Devil, and burned her alive in the village square.”
The fists in Chloe’s lap shake, and she presses them into her thighs. “Lucifer,” she whispers, horrified.
He stares at a spot on her wall, still as he was back at the victim’s apartment, his eyes unseeing, and Chloe wants to touch him, wants to pull him to her, to wipe the blank expression off his face with her lips and her fingers.
But she doesn’t move, and he doesn’t, either.
“I bet you’ve read enough novels and seen enough films to know what a ‘witch mark’ is,” Lucifer says, and he sounds almost amused, and – to Chloe’s great amazement – tired. the flamboyant, larger than life persona slips a little, and only the ancient being remains. “It’s not a third nipple, of course – that’s just ludicrous – it’s a tiny tattoo, made by all witches themselves, and it’s shaped like a star, just below their left ear.”
Chloe’s head jerks, her eyes wide, heart hammering wildly. “A star, but that’s – “
He smiles at her sadly, his face pale and drawn.
“I am the Morning Star, Detective,” he sighs in explanation, and spreads his hands. “At first, that star was a mark of defiance, and a way for witches to identify other witches, to give aid to a sister in need. It’s only a tradition, by now, of course.”
Chloe feels her calm slipping, feels her lips quiver and tremble, so she bites her tongue and tastes blood.
“T-that woman, on the floor,” she stammers and takes a deep breath, “something about her tattoos really got to you.”
“That woman,” he growls, suddenly fierce and menacing, “is trouble.”
“How do you know?” she asks, lowering her chin to her chest. She’s feeling faint and nauseated; the dinner she’s missed and the excitement of the evening she’s gained seem to be taking their toll.
“Did you see her flat?” he scoffs, sounding almost angry. “The tattoos on her arms? I’d eat my entire pocket square collection if that witch does not practice black magic!”
Chloe hums; she’s almost tempted to see that happening. “And the one on her hip?” she asks, lifting her head to squint at him.
Lucifer stills. He blanches and stiffens, and turns his head from her, unwilling to speak.
“You must tell me,” she implores, her voice dipping a little in agitation. “Lucifer, please -”
“Oh, must I?” he turns to her, eyes wide and furious. She has the vague feeling he’s trying to intimidate her without scaring her off; it doesn’t seem to be working.
“Yes!” she cries, tone rising, face flushing with frustration. “If it has something to do with the case – “
“It was my sigil!” he shouts, and Chloe can swear that she hears the windows rattle. She stares at him for a few seconds, watches as he closes his eyes and composes himself. When he opens them again, he’s calm and collected once more.
“It’s…my archangel mark,” he explains reluctantly, his fingers back to tweaking his cufflinks nervously. “It’s…Samael’s name. In Enochian.”
They stare at each other silently for a few seconds. Chloe breaks away first.
“What does it mean?” she croaks, drained and exhausted. “The vic having your angel name tattooed on her hip?”
Lucifer shrugs and shakes his head. “I don’t know,” he answers truthfully, sounding as fatigued as she feels. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. But I’ll tell you this, that woman was murdered by another witch.”
Chloe feels her sanity slowly gliding away. Two hours ago, she was busy making out with her boyfriend; now she’s discussing a supernatural murder with him. She swallows the hysterical laughter that threatens to creep up her throat.
“How do you know that?” she asks instead, incredibly proud of how steady her voice sounds.
“Victim was killed by one stroke, straight through the heart; that takes precision,” Lucifer explains, looking sideways at her. “The kind of precision you learn by practising all sorts of sacrifices, Detective.”
Chloe presses her hand to her eyes, then to her lips. The nausea threatens to strengthen, and her head begins to ache. To her left, Lucifer smiles sardonically and rolls his eyes.
“Some lover you chose for yourself, darling,” he scoffs cruelly, his handsome face twisted in a bitter grin. “One who condemns women to be burned alive and inspires others to murder in his names. You do have the most abominable taste in men, my dear.”
Chloe’s heart clatters in her ribcage, tearing at the seams. The snappiness, the cagey replies, the self-loathing lurking just below the surface of his words, they all make sense now – Lucifer blames himself, condemns his being for the sins committed under the so-called blessing of his name. A millennium’s worth of guilt rises to the surface and grabs at his heels, tugging him downwards to the deep.
“Lucifer,” Chloe whispers, finally reaching out to touch him, her fingers brushing his sleeve.
He flinches at her touch and she draws back as if burned, the pit in her stomach gaping and ravenous.
Lucifer’s face twists in heart-wrenching sorrow.
“I – “ he begins, his hand rising a little, but he seems to think better of it and moves to rise from the sofa. Chloe follows suit.
“I think I better go, Detective,” he says softly, stuffing his hands in his pockets, looking a little like a kicked puppy.
Her gut twists and flips, and her chest aches. She moves to stand closer to him, but she doesn’t attempt another touch.
“Lucifer, stay,” she suggests gently, wringing her hands in agitation. “Please, you’re in no state to drive. We’ll go to sleep. I’ll even let you be the little spoon.”
She tries to make him laugh, tries to get him to utter some filthy little joke that would make her blush and squirm, but he only smiles forlornly and shakes his head.
“Another time, darling,” he says and stoops to plant a chaste kiss on her cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She’s left to stare at the closed door after he leaves.
There’s fire around her; it’s high and orange, the tongues of flame licking upwards in their greedy haste. It doesn’t burn her, doesn’t touch her naked arms or her naked legs; it doesn’t scorch her golden hair, unbound and free as it is.
There are markings on the floor, scribbles and drawings, winged beasts drawn hastily in chalk on the chipped pavement. Some men in black masks are flanking her, blood staining their hands, dripping off their fingers; the fat droplets fall to the pavement and smear the reversed pentagram below her naked feet. A severed head of a horned goat is smiling up at her.
She raises her head and stares at the flames. A woman bathed by fire, her hair the colour of the conflagration eating at her skin, looks straight into her eyes. She opens her mouth and screams.
Chloe wakes up, covered in cold sweat, panting in her bed, alone.
Just for the record, I happen to love Cradle of Filth!
Friends, I'm afraid there won't be an update next week, I have a research proposal to submit and time's really pressing. I apologise profusely!
See you all in two weeks.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
After finding out the previous night that their newest murder victim is of the supernatural persuasion, Lucifer and Chloe struggle to begin the investigation. Things between them are a little awkward following the strained late night conversation on her sofa.
I Aten't Dead!
I know this is a tad overdue, but rl is a right bitch and my muse is a fickle tart. But, hey, you know what they say - better late than sorry!
Even though I am. Sorry, that is! Hopefully, somebody will still read this :P
And last but not least, for my darling ZeeLinn - all my love to you and your old lady!
Lucifer stumbles into the precinct a little after eleven am, looking dour and restless. His dark grey three-piece suit is immaculately pressed, the mother-of-pearl buttons catching the artificial light and gleaming expensively. There’s not a hair out of place on his dark head, the stubble neatly trimmed—and yet, to Chloe, he appears disheveled and unsettled, as if sleep had chosen not to spend the night with him.
She rises from her seat, the concern etched across her face making her features twist with worry. He reaches inside his jacket and pulls out a flask almost completely identical to the one he left in her house the previous night. There’s no coffee for her this morning.
“Hey,” Chloe says softly, rounding her table and coming to stand in front of him. “You okay?”
She doesn’t initiate any physical contact—not even a light pressure of her fingertips on his forearms—remembering all too well the way he flinched and kissed her lightly on the cheek, before fleeing from her house and her touch.
Lucifer takes a deep gulp and caps the flask, slipping it back into his inner suit pocket.
“Morpheus and I didn’t see eye to eye last night,” he confesses quietly, and Chloe’s heart breaks a little. This case is likely to be very hard on him.
“Perhaps you should go home, then?” she inquires gently, her voice dipping low, so that only he could hear her words. “Go and try to rest?”
The look he gives her is one of incredulous suspicion, laced with just a hint of confused betrayal.
“Don’t be absurd,” he admonishes her promptly, his eyebrows pinching. “You need me on this case.”
He’s right, she does. If what he told her last night is even partially correct in relation to their murder, she’d rather not attempt to solve it without him.
“Okay,” she agrees, nodding firmly. “Well, we should go and see Ella, then; I think she said we’re due to get the preliminary coroner report.”
“Lead the way, Detective.” He inclines his head and gestures with his left hand, attempting gallantry. To anyone else in the room, he appears like his old self, all sharp smiles and splashy nature, but she can see through the bluff. He’s distancing himself, his hand dropping to his side without even a stray in her direction, and he keeps to his own space as he follows her to the lab.
She pushes the ache and the hurt to the side, bottling it up in her abdomen for the time being. This is not the time for retrospection, not the time to dawdle in what could very possibly turn to misery on her part. Later, much later, she’ll do everything in her power to pull him out of his shell and shatter his walls; but for now, the case takes precedence.
They enter the lab to the sounds of fast drums and loud screeching. Lucifer yelps and covers his ears.
“What the bloody hell is this raucous?” he shouts above the din; next to him Chloe frowns deeply and bites her lower lip. The wailing and squeaking on the high notes are almost ear-deafening. She really can’t blame Lucifer for his dramatic reaction.
Ella looks up from her desk apologetically and turns the music off, grimacing slightly.
“Sorry guys,” she mutters, clearly embarrassed at getting caught listening to… whatever that was. “I got nostalgic; had to blast some CoF.”
“CoF?” Chloe asks, not at all certain she wishes to know the answer to her question.
“Cradle of Filth,” Ella explains, looking at Chloe and Lucifer expectantly. She sighs at the blank stares directed her way and shakes her head. “You know, the band our victim liked? The cover art for this album was on her wall— the one with the naked, bloody lady? Actually, this is their best alb—”
“Ella, the report?” Chloe asks tiredly, trying to stop the influx of useless information. She feels a headache coming on. This is going to be a long day.
The forensic scientist rolls her lips and mimics the action of zipping her mouth shut.
“Right,” she says, smiling nervously. “The report. It just came through, actually, so, nice clairvoyant abilities there, Decker!”
Lucifer turns to Chloe sharply, his eyes narrow and calculating. She shakes her head and sighs, mouthing a very articulated ‘ no’ . Of course he’d take the innocent jest quite literally.
Ella leans over the desk to reach for the report, scattering some papers out of the way with her torso.
“Okay!” she declares once she’s back on her feet, bouncy and excited as ever. “So, it says here that TOD is between seven thirty and eight pm, which makes perfect sense if you take into account that the neighbours called 911 at seven twenty, when the victim was still alive. Now, for the COD – it’s pretty much as I said. One forceful strike, straight through the heart. The pathologist thinks it was a butcher’s knife that did it.” She raises her eyes from the report, and Chloe can see that they are bright and edgy. “I wonder if you can guess what our victim did for a living?”
“I have an inkling,” Lucifer mutters darkly, and Chloe elbows him in the gut. He grunts exaggeratingly and folds almost in half.
Ella smiles indulgently and rolls her eyes, winking at Chloe as if sharing a joke.
“Well, get your mind out of the gutter, dude,” she laughs, and leans forward. “Our victim was working at a butcher’s shop.”
“I’m assuming the murder weapon wasn’t found on scene, if the pathologist had to guess?” Chloe asks and turns to look at Lucifer, only to find him leaning against a counter, his arms crossed. His expression is dark and broody— never a good sign.
“That’s right!” Ella replies brightly. “We went through the entire apartment; not a bloody knife in sight!”
“I see what you did there, Miss Lopez,” Lucifer quips, smiling slightly. Ella winks at him and presses the report into Chloe’s hands.
“Oh, and I took some more photos of the tatts for you, Lucifer,” she adds, squatting to fumble in one of her drawers. “Here you go, buddy!”
He gingerly reaches for the grey folder she tosses on the table, his brow back to being set in a scowl. Chloe leans closer to him to look at the photos, her arm brushing his in the process. She doesn’t miss his sudden intake of breath.
The tattoos look even worse under the zoom lense of the police camera. Grotesque faces, gaping viscera and twisted limbs stare at her and Lucifer from the hard, shining surface of the enlarged images, making Chloe’s stomach twist at the sight. A small huff of unease gets trapped in her throat, but it’s loud enough for her partner to hear, and he hums in agreement before closing the file with a decisive snap.
“Is it alright if I take this, Miss Lopez?” he asks, tucking the grey folder under his arm.
Ella shrugs with ease, head already bent over her work.
“Sure, dude,” she mutters absentmindedly. “File’s all yours.”
Chloe regards Lucifer with a frown, slightly shaken by his sudden solemnity. He’s never shown such dedicated interest in evidence processing before. It’s practically bordering on professionalism. In a fit uncharacteristic to her inquisitive nature, she decides not to challenge or question him, opting to remain quiet and let him come to her with his ideas. She doesn’t ask for the file.
“Where to now, Detective?” Lucifer asks, once they are out of the lab.
Chloe reaches for the case file that lies open on her desk; it seems that in her haste to get to him earlier, she forgot to close it properly. She really should be more careful.
“Well, I went through the statements the unis gathered yesterday,” she replies, consulting the files. The notes are organized, all bases covered; she couldn’t ask for a better job. “They were pretty thorough. The neighbours heard raised voices, called the police. Nothing new here. According to all of them, Martha was a pretty solitary woman. Polite, but remote— aloof. One or two said that they saw a male visitor around her place.”
“A boyfriend?” Lucifer asked, expression unreadable.
Chloe shrugs and picks up a pen, before pulling her stack of post-its closer.
“Could be; worth a check,” she murmurs and, eyes darting over the file, jots down a few lines. When she’s done, she closes the folder and stuffs the post-it into her pocket. “Come on, let’s go.”
Lucifer follows her without any questions. Chloe finds it more disconcerting than his sudden gravity.
Chloe maneuvers her cruiser through the busy streets of L.A. in heavy silence. Next to her, Lucifer sits uncharacteristically still, immobile as one of the corpses they’re used to investigating. His motionlessness unnerves her and tears at her equilibrium; it’s times like these, that she’s presented with the full force of the truth. The man she loves is no man at all. And what is she?
‘A bloody miracle’ as the Devil would call it; whatever that is.
She takes a deep breath, stuffing the warming embers of an existential crisis deep into a mental iron-cast box at the back of her mind, and squints at her navigator instead. The Butcher’s shop should be here somewhere, but her GPS seems to have lost the trail.
“It’s just down the street, Detective,” Lucifer says suddenly, and Chloe nearly crushes the car in her shock.
“H—how can you tell?” she asks, her voice pitching a little higher to drown the thudding of blood in her ears.
“I can see it from here, Chloe,” he says quietly, the almost casual use of her name pinching at her heart. “It’s just a block away.”
Right , she thinks. Supernatural sight.
She parks the vehicle beside a modern looking shop with large, clear windows, displaying all sorts of cuts and all kinds of meat. Lucifer leans over her to get a better look at the sign above the door. Chloe’s breath hitches in her throat as the scent of his expensive cologne invades her senses, and shivers a little as the fingers of the hand he props at the edge of her seat for leverage accidentally brush against her jeans.
Who knows, maybe she’s dead, and this her hell-loop— being close to her, so very close, but never being able to touch.
“High Steaks,” he reads aloud, his voice a little haughty. “Oh, for the love of—”
He’s out of the car faster than she can say ‘Jack Robinson’.
She follows him hastily, afraid of the mess he might make of the interview—over bad puns, no less—but when she wrenches the door open, rattling the frame and attracting some bewildered glances from several customers, she finds him in the corner, inspecting a container of mixed spices. He looks incredibly out of place, three-piece-suit tailored to the nines, in this shop that smells of stale blood and dead, frozen meat.
Lucifer looks up from his studious reading of the ingredients and quirks his eyebrows at her wanly before placing the container on the shelf.
“Ready, Detective?” he asks, tugging on his cufflinks halfheartedly.
Chloe tries not to gape.
Shaking herself mentally, she reaches for her badge and approaches the counter, where an overweight, balding, middle-aged man stands wiping at a difficult stain with all the enthusiasm of the chronically weary.
“Detective Chloe Decker, LAPD, and this is my partner, Mr. Morningstar; we need to speak to the manager,” she intones, flashing her badge at the tired, blood-shot eyes that scrutinize her from behind the counter. The man heaves a sigh and throws his rug into the bin behind him.
“You’re looking at him,” he says, and even his voice sounds sluggish, as if using it is the hardest thing this man has done in his unremarkable life. “What can I do for you, Detectives?”
“Tray Smith?” Chloe consults her notes, gets a worn-out nod in reply. “It’s regarding one of your employees, Martha Terrance. I’m afraid she was murdered last night.”
Something changes in the man’s face. The weary expression melts away, muscles dropping, and shifts into grief. Chloe is mesmerized at the almost comical physical display of emotions across his physiognomy.
“Martha is… dead?” he stutters, and staggers backwards a little, his fingers tight against the counter. “That’s…. how ?”
Lucifer opens his mouth to reply—no doubt to colorfully explain how exactly the victim met her untimely demise—so Chloe grabs his arm none too gently, causing him gulp air.
“We’d rather not say at the moment, Mr Smith,” she replies kindly, her fingers still pressing into Lucifer’s sleeve, sensing the strong muscles hidden beneath. “What can you tell us about Martha?”
The man, clearly affected by this news, reaches for the corner of his blood-stained apron and dabs at the corners of his eyes.
“Oh, I’m not sure—” he falters, shrugging helplessly, his fat fingers clenching around the filthy fabric. “She was a dedicated worker, wasn’t squeamish; very little put her off.”
“I bet,” Lucifer mutters darkly, and Chloe—only now realizing that her hand was on his arm this whole time—squeezes it hard and takes a step away from him and closer to the counter.
“Anything else you can tell us?” she asks, using her best ‘mommy voice’ on the manager. “Did she have any friends? Family? We weren’t able to locate her next of kin, but perhaps she mentioned something to you…?”
Tray Smith shook his head, his left hand smoothing the counter nervously.
“Oh, no, nothing like that. Martha was very private, rarely spoke of her personal life,” he explains. “She was a kind girl, bless her, but a little awkward socially; there was a boy, though.”
Chloe brightens considerably at this new information and makes a mental note to ask Dan to run Martha’s name through the system; perhaps something will turn up.
“Can you give me a name? A description?” she prompts the other man. At her side, Lucifer huffs impatiently.
“I only know him as ‘Dave’,” Tray says, shrugging again. “Tall fella; long blond hair. Don’t know what he did for a living. Martha was keen on him, though.”
Chloe tried not to appear too crestfallen; this was hardly something to go on.
“Thank you, Mr Smith,” she said, putting her notepad away. “You’ve been a great help.”
“Such a tragedy,” the man sighs, and Chloe notices that the tired expression, now undoubtedly suffused with grief, is back in place. “Martha was very kind; I always let her take the entrails for her dog. Seems like a waste to throw them out now…”
“I don’t get it,” Chloe says when they leave the butcher’s shop, and can breathe air that is not permeated with blood again. “Martha didn’t have a dog, why would she take all those entrails home?”
Lucifer stops by the car and turns to her, arching an eyebrow.
“Take one good guess, Detective,” he throws at her, his tone cryptic.
Chloe blanches and nearly loses her meagre breakfast on the sidewalk at the implication.
“That’s…horrific,” she concludes, crossing her arms and looking at her shoes. “Do you think she was involved in things like… human sacrifice, too?”
“I would say that’s a given, Detective,” he confirms dispassionately, as if he is relating the weather in Tulsa to her, instead of revealing an inkling of a supernatural world she has no wish to be part of. “Black magic is all kinds of nasty.”
When she doesn’t answer, he sighs irritably; she looks up and notices his deep scowl.
“Look, this is a waste of bloody time, Chloe,” he grunts, and she flinches at his tone; the sound of her name on his lips far from intimate this time. “I already told you who, or rather ‘what’, our victim is!”
He’s frustrated, she can see that. The need to give chase and punish burns like a fire in his veins; no doubt the human limitations of her job vex and unsettle him.
“Well, what is it you expect me to do, Lucifer?” she asks, not a little upset herself. “I can’t very well walk into the precinct and declare that my newest murder victim is, in fact, a witch, and that I know this to be a fact because my boyfriend—the Devil—told me so! I have to keep appearances, Lucifer; so what do you suggest we do?”
The Devil smiles for the first time in what feels like ages, but it’s all wrong; it’s sharp and edgy and cavernous all at once.
“I can help with that, actually,” he purrs, and even this sounds out of place; false, as his entire being is out of tune.
“How?” Chloe asks, suddenly very tired. She bets she can give Mr Smith a run for his money.
Lucifer notices the shift in her shoulders and takes a step closer, softening the sharp spikes in his demeanor as he reaches out to touch her shoulder. His palm is hot, and Chloe can feel the warmth through her jacket; she wants to weep at the gesture.
“Chloe,” he mutters, and he sounds gentle and concerned, and just so like himself, that she shudders and sighs. “Are you alright?”
No , she wishes to say, and neither are you . But she refrains—now is not the time—and nods instead.
He doesn’t drop the hand from her shoulder, and she finds herself leaning into the touch greedily, savoring the almost Victorian sensation of this contact.
“Look, I have a… friend who might be able to help,” he says, hesitantly, his fingers pressing unconsciously into her shoulder. “She owes me a favour, back from my previous visit to Earth.”
Chloe’s head jerks upwards at this information, and her forehead nearly collides with Lucifer’s chin, but he doesn’t step back.
“But your previous visit… Lucifer, that was forty years ago!”
He smiles a little wistfully and nods.
“Come, darling,” he says, and his voice is all right; soft and round and full. “I’ll introduce you.”
And when they leave the car by an ordinary looking house in West Hollywood, and head to the door, Chloe feels her bones rattling and her blood buzzing with anticipation. Lucifer raises his fist to knock, only to have the door wrenched open from under his fist, by a tall, elderly woman.
She wears a long, sleeveless dress made of coarse linen, her feet bare; a mane of white curls springs from her head and graces her frails shoulders like a mantle of soft cotton.
“Hello, Collette,” Lucifer says, his tone deep, as if made of velvet. “It’s been a while.”
The woman stands in the doorway, her milky, unseeing eyes fixed on a spot just above Lucifer’s left eyebrow. She raises her trembling hands and places them gently on his cheekbones, her fingers dancing and smoothing over the pale skin.
She smiles, and her generous mouth stretches wide, crinkling up her striking, dark face.
“Just as handsome as I remember you, cher,” she says.
Lucifer’s eyes shine like stars.