Lucifer’s throne sat high above Hell’s labyrinth of ash and locked doors. The stone remained cold and hard beneath him despite the hours he sat there. The air was warm enough, and, had he been human, beads of sweat would sit across his brow. As it was, Lucifer was used to the heat. It was no worse than LA at the peak of a summer heatwave.
While many tried to take the throne in his absence, no demon could reign over Hell. It was Lucifer’s rightful place as deemed by the God and Goddess of all creation. He scoffed, knowing now that it was his Father’s designs and his Mum’s idea to banish him here. Fire and brimstone that only a Celestial could control. Without his heavy hand, the demons escaped to Earth and caused mayhem.
It did not matter that Lucifer felt as though his back would break under this strain.
Inhaling through his nose, he tried to keep his breathing shallow. In Lucifer’s years on Earth, he’d forgotten how to keep the ash from his lungs. Even after decades back below the surface, he couldn’t break the habit. It was worse than when he’d first arrived, at least then Lucifer had physical pain to occupy his thoughts, now it was only what lay in his head.
He was so damn sick of it.
The last visit to Earth would have been only a few days ago in the mortal realm. For him in Hell, years crawled by. Hell seemed to speed up compared to human time as the number of souls below increased. He thought perhaps it, too, was by design. The same amount of demons could preside over more souls, given the time to do so. Heaven was the opposite, Amenadiel said he’d only been gone with Charlotte for hours when on Earth it had been months.
Shutting his eyes, Lucifer could pretend at feeling Chloe’s hand on his cheek. Tears blurred his vision and threatened to slide down his face. Even his memories would fail him soon, the exact pressure she’d used or perhaps the taste of her lips would fade from his mind first-- knowledge of what could have been ached almost worse than not knowing.
Coughing into a handkerchief, Lucifer worked to clear his lungs. It had been ages since he sang, that was his entire motivation for going to the throne. He loathed the Demon’s worship, and their prying eyes whenever he stepped foot into a room. They could not fly; therefore, they could not approach him here. Or if they tried to claw their way up the spire, he could strike them down with Hellfire as he’d done many a time before.
Time truly alone was a rarity in Hell. And even when he was, most of the hours were occupied by watching his back-- without Mazikeen, he was bereft of aid. Despite the chaos ensuing while he’d been away, the demons continued to squabble over territories and for control of the realm. Lucifer continually fended off threats to his life, if only to keep himself from ending up behind a door, his door.
He knew what awaited him there, and a shiver ran up his spine.
Killing Uriel. Watching Charlotte die. Killing Cain-- or rather truly defying God by killing a human.
While all of those things happened, he knew there would be other nightmares waiting for him. Chloe would be a centrefold, he assumed. Perhaps Daniel or Beatrice would make an appearance, or Linda, Amenadiel, Charlie and Maze. Would he kill them, too? Or would he watch them perish as Charlotte did?
All the while, Lucifer’s gut churned, and it took time to force himself back to his task. His mind slid across a hundred sets of lyrics before setting on just one. A metal song that he’d heard only in passing. Somehow, it was as if the artist knew his plight as they’d written the words.
It would do.
Clearing his throat with another cough, Lucifer sat tall and clenched his fingers against the stone armrests. The song would not set him free, but perhaps it would give him an outlet until his lungs felt drowned in ash and he was left in silence once again.
“Can’t take another second of this hell,” his voice began melodic and bright as it once sounded on Earth and in Heaven. “Making up stories and saying I’m better off dead.”
Lucifer’s eyes closed. The burning did not subside. “They want me to be this perfect thing. Like everything is fine. Like everything is ok.” He didn’t know who he sang to, just that the words flowed from his vocal cords and cut through the never-ending night.
“But I’m not close to perfect. I’m not close to sane,” the Devil chuckled, knowing that line, in particular, was entirely right. “I’m not the one to worship, and I’m not the one to blame.”
Lucifer’s eyes opened to survey the landscape of falling grey ash and despair. A desire for free will, ending in rebellion brought him here but now, his free will was what returned him. He stood, his hands clenched to fists at his sides and wings spread wide, cutting through the darkness like only he, as Lightbringer, could.
“But you made up your mind. And put me on your stage,” Lucifer spat the words as he flicked his gaze up to the stalactites high above him, closing in the cavern. “Just take it all back!” he yelled, losing the rhythm of the song to the echos of his voice. “I’m-- I’m not the King of Anything!”
Ash clawed into his throat as he took in gasps of air. It strangled the life out of him, killing any semblance of peace the act of singing could provide. Still, he fought on. Nothing could stop Lucifer when he set his mind to a verse, least of all his Father’s horrible design.
“Can’t take another second of this pain.” Another cough, leaving blood on his hand. How astute that line was too. “I’ve tried to be the person all of you want me to be.”
Lucifer brushed the red steak away with the back of his hand as he fell into the throne again, his wings folded against his back. “Maybe I’m okay with who I am. I know I’m just a child, but I’ll try to be a man.” Chloe stood by him, despite it all. For her, he could be better-- he would be. “But I’m not close to perfect. I'm not close to sane.”
“I’m not the one to worship, and I’m not the one to blame.” The words came slower now, caught between stubborn coughs that wracked his body. “But you made up your-- mind. And-- you-- you put me on your stage.”
His shoulders fell in time with the first tear. “Just take it all back.” His voice dwindled to a whisper. “I’m not-- not the King of Anything.” And then it died.
I’m not the King of Anything.