“Luci, what are we even doing in… wherever we are?” asks the passenger of the shiny black 1962 Corvette.
“Why, didn’t you see the sign? We’re in Neptune, Amenadiel! Neptune, California!” the driver replies, a look of glee on his face and a manic glint in his eyes. Lucifer Morningstar waves excitedly as he gestures around them; it’s fortunate the top on the convertible is down, or he would’ve smacked his hand on the window. “Breathe in the air and just smell the corruption running rampant in this town! It’s fascinating, really.”
“What’s so fascinating about a beach town on the coast of California? They’re about a dime a dozen, if I recall correctly.”
“Yes, well, normally I would say the same. But Neptune is one of Mazikeen’s favorite places in the world! So if you’re planning to get back on her good side, what better getaway than here?”
“I don’t know, Luci…” A frown. “Why exactly did you say Maze loved this place so much? It seems like pretty much any other coastal suburb within driving distance of Los Angeles.”
“She used to like getting to know people before they came down to hell, do a little advance research on future residents, you see. And Neptune has a 97 percent recruitment rate. Even better, so many of them all but wallow in their own awfulness, no blaming the Devil or any of that rot! Why, seeing a pure soul here is akin to seeing a unicorn, a rare and fleeting sight!”
Amenadiel scowls. “You’re telling me that this town is so mired in evil that only three out of a hundred people don’t go to Hell?”
“Exactly! And many of those don’t live to see retirement. Why, the last time Maze and I vacationed here, a whole busful of people popped their clogs, or so to speak. And then we had to hurry back to Hell after no less than three very evil evildoers died on the same night! I remember Maze thought it was glorious. She chaired a most exceptional welcoming committee filled with the best torturers, the likes of which Hell has not seen since.”
“Luci! That’s terrible.”
“Well, I was rather proud of our retention rates when I ruled over hell, you realize. Not that I liked how many people belonged there, but that everyone who did belong there got their punishment as was their due.” The Devil waves a dismissive hand. “But all that is over and done with now.” Lucifer suddenly straightens, a look of delight on his face as he slows the Corvette. “Shhhh.”
“What? What is it?”
Lucifer gestures toward a tall man with brown hair and brown eyes who can be seen exiting a house up ahead. “There! A unicorn in its natural habitat. This is a rare sighting indeed! Would you like to speak to it?” But it is a moot question; he is already parking the car. A minute later, he climbs out, and Amenadiel is forced to follow.
The Devil skips across the street, his more reserved, angelic brother trailing behind him like a cloud of doom.
“Oi!” Lucifer calls out. “You there!”
The man is heading toward one of the cars parked along the side of the street, but he turns at Lucifer’s voice, looks around, then points to his chest in a universal “Who? Me?” gesture.
“Yes, yes, I’m talking to you, you handsome specimen of a Californian.”
The man’s lips twitch, and he coughs to hide a laugh. “Uh, thanks. Can I help you?”
“Possibly! Do you remember me? You used to frequent my club in Los Angeles with a blond monkey creature.”
The man tilts his head and frowns, obviously trying to place where he’s met Lucifer before this. “Uhh… You’re the guy who owns Lux, aren’t you? You told me you were the Devil.”
Lucifer’s face lights up in pleasure at being recognized. “Why, yes! That’s it exactly! And this is my brother, the angel Amenadiel.” He gestures toward the scowling bald man standing behind him.
“Logan Echolls,” the man says, holding out a hand for Amenadiel to shake. “Although you seem rather… grounded… for a member of the heavenly host.”
The Devil leans forward and says, conspiratorially, “Just between you and me, most angels spend millennia with sticks up their bums, and my dear brother Menny is unfortunately not exempt. Frankly, demons are much more fun. You recall my friend Mazikeen? I do recall she once sat on your lap and offered to—”
Amenadiel’s scowl deepens. “Luci!” he growls.
“Amenadiel was dating Mazikeen, but she has kicked him to the curb, as you say, and he hopes to return to her good graces,” Lucifer tells Logan, as if his brother wasn’t standing right there. “I for one think he’s a tad too vanilla for her, but there’s no accounting for taste, is there?”
By now, Logan is grinning. “I suppose not. I do remember your dominatrix friend.”
“Dominatrix? No, no, no. My friend is a torturer, and proud of it. But that’s enough about me and mine. How are you doing? I recall I once asked what you truly desired, and you told me it was to be loved and accepted by someone you loved and accepted in turn.”
If it were possible for such a tall, well-built man to turn into a puddle of goo, Logan Echolls would have achieved it then and there. “I’m doing great, man. I got married today.”
Lucifer’s eyes widen. “Today? Your wedding was today? How delightful!” He turns to his brother. “Menny, did you hear that? I suspect there is much you can learn from this tall drink of water on this hot sunny da—”
“Logan! Who’re you talking to?”
All three men on the sidewalk glance toward the house they’re standing outside, where a blonde woman is standing at the window. “An old friend,” Logan calls back before turning to Lucifer. “My wife.” There’s a world of pride and satisfaction and love wrapped up in those two little words. “We’re leaving for our honeymoon soon.”
“Well, don’t let us keep you! And please accept our felicitations.”
“Yes, congratulations,” Amenadiel adds.
“Thank you.” Logan is grinning widely. “It was good to see you again. I don’t do much drinking these days, but I know my friend Dick would love to hang out at Lux the next time we find ourselves in LA.”
“Yes, yes, please do bring your pet blond. And also your wife!” Lucifer pulls out a card. “Let me know when you’re in town, and I’ll be sure to reserve the best seat in the house for you! Perhaps even sing you a song when I take a turn at the piano.”
“That sounds great. Now I’d better move the car. There’s street cleaning scheduled for tonight.”
They bid their goodbyes, and the two celestials start to head back toward the Corvette. “So that’s a pure soul in a hub of evil,” Amenadiel observes.
Lucifer nods. “Yes, indeed. And to meet him on his wedding day, of all things! It’s such a shame he’s clearly on a tight schedule, or I would ask him to give you some advice! Clearly, he is quite happy with his choice of spouse.”
“I wonder if he’s married to another of your pure souls.”
“One would hope so, but Maze would tell you the statistics make it extremely unlikely for two good Neptunians to meet, much less marry. More’s the pity. They might spawn more good Neptunians and eventually change the status quo!” The Devil gets a gleam in his eye. “You know, perhaps we should go and introduce ourselves to his wife, just to satisfy our curiosity. It would be the work of a minute to ask her what she truly desires.”
Amenadiel rolls his eyes at his brother. “Luci—”
He’s interrupted by the roar of an explosion, and Lucifer sees time still around them as Amenadiel’s powers instinctively kick in. He turns and sees Logan standing by a car that seems to be in the process of blowing up. He sprints and throws himself at the man, tackling him to the ground just as time speeds up again. He feels a wash of heat at his back, and then Amenadiel is slapping frantically at his suit jacket.
“Menny, stop that!” Lucifer grumbles.
“You’re on fire,” Amenadiel says, voice strained.
“Well, the detective isn’t here, so it isn’t like it can hurt me.” Lucifer turns his attention to the man lying under him on the street. “And it seems I saved my unicorn.”
“What?” Logan asks, his words slurred, his eyes unfocused. “Did you just call me a unicorn?”
“Perhaps I did,” Lucifer says cheerfully. “Or perhaps you are concussed.”
Logan groans. “I’m pretty sure I’m concussed.”
“Buck up, boy-o, it could be worse. You could be dead. I expect you’ll soon find yourself prostate in gratitude for my efforts to keep you on this earthly plane. Not everyone can say they owe their lives to the Lord of Hell, after all!”
“Uh. Okay. Can you get off me?”
Lucifer does as he’s asked, tsking as he brushes himself off and sees his suit is pretty much ruined. Amenadiel offers Logan a hand up, and the other man is soon swaying on his feet.
“Ohmigod, Logan!” A tiny blonde woman is running out of the house.
She’s about to throw herself at her husband when Lucifer stops her. “He’s none too steady on his feet yet, my dear. You’re likely to knock him off them.”
She hugs him instead. Lucifer’s arms go up in a gesture of surrender, then hover in the air awkwardly as he finds himself imprisoned by her arms. “Thank God! You saved his life.”
“Indeed I did, although Dad had nothing to do with it.” His smile is more a grimace as he turns to Amenadiel and begs his brother to extricate him from this situation—and from the hug—but the other man just smiles at him angelically. In desperation, he says, “Perhaps we ought to call the authorities? I daresay Logan should be examined by a physician of some sort.”
“Yes, yes, you’re right,” the blonde says, pulling back and pulling out a phone. “I’m Veronica, by the way. Veronica Mars. And just so you know, I don’t usually go around manhandling people, but these are special circumstances.”
“Lucifer Morningstar. And this is my brother Amenadiel. I am also pleased to know that you are ordinarily not—” he grimaces “—a hugger. I already have one of those in Los Angeles, thank you very much.”
“I think we should help Logan to the curb so he can sit down before he falls down,” Amenadiel says.
He and Veronica help the concussed man to the side of the road. Veronica puts the phone on speaker mode as she dials 9-1-1. “Hi, I need the sheriff’s department and an ambulance out at…”
She rattles off the address and tells them what’s happened with an efficiency that tells Lucifer it isn’t her first time reporting a crime. She sounds angry as she yells into the phone. There’s something about a limerick and a backpack which Lucifer would find positively interesting if this were the detective and they were back in LA.
But for now he’s caught up with watching the unicorn and the unicorn’s wife. Who seems to be keeping her distance from said unicorn. He isn’t much for touchy-feely clinginess, but if ever there were a legitimate excuse for it, a bomb in your car on your wedding day seems a likely one. And she did, after all, hug him, the Devil, instead of her newly espoused, well, spouse. Curious.
He leaves Veronica to her crime reporting and sits down beside Logan. The concrete is murder on his trousers, but he figures the explosion had destined his entire ensemble for the bin the moment he’d tackled the man.
“Your wife appears to have the situation in hand,” he says.
Logan’s eyes are closed, his shoulders slumped. Lucifer can all but see the waves of pain radiating from his head. “Yeah,” he says. “It’s what she does. She’s a PI.”
“A PI?” Amenadiel asks.
“Private investigator,” Logan mumbles.
“Ah! She’s a detective!” Lucifer smiles. “I have a detective of my own, you know.”
“Well, perhaps not my own, I do share her with the LAPD, but we solve crimes and punish evildoers together! It’s great fun.”
“Would you like me to call her? She could come down here and we could find whoever put the bomb in your car. I would happily deliver their justly deserved punishment. I could even take out my Devil face.”
“Er, never you mind that,” Lucifer says hastily, patting the man’s shoulder in an effort to comfort. They can hear sirens in the distance but coming nearer. “And it seems the cavalry has arrived.”
Before the police and ambulance can get there, though, there is a squeal of tires and the slam of a car door. “Veronica!”
Lucifer twists to see a short bald gentleman sprinting toward them. The man envelops Veronica in a hug. “Who is that?” he asks.
“Father-in-law,” Logan mumbles, still not opening his eyes.
Just then, the cops and EMTs arrive. Strangely, Veronica goes to speak with one of the officers, while the bald man introduces himself as Keith, thanks him for saving his new son-in-law, and crouches down beside them. “Logan? You all right there?”
“He’s well and truly concussed,” Lucifer says. “I’m sure these lovely medics will agree.”
An EMT checks Logan’s pupils and actually does agree with Lucifer’s diagnosis, and in short order, Logan is laid out on a gurney and loaded into the waiting ambulance. Lucifer is glad to see Veronica climb into the ambulance too before it speeds away.
“Excuse me, sir,” one of the coppers says. “Can you tell me your name and what happened here?”
“Why, certainly, officer!” Lucifer replies, and proceeds to introduce himself then launch into a colorful accounting of what happened.
When he gets to the part about Amenadiel slowing time, his brother coughs. “Ah, Luci, I’m sure you meant to tell the nice policeman that it felt like time slowed down, not that it did.”
Of course, this earns the angel weird looks from the cop, and Lucifer dismisses his comment with a flamboyant flap of a hand before continuing with his story. “Yes, so as I was saying before we were interrupted, time slowed down, and then I tackled Logan Echolls as if I were one of your American football players.” He looks down a little mournfully. “Ruined one of my favorite suits too.”
“Yeah, well, you also saved the guy’s life,” the policeman reminds him.
Lucifer brightens. “I did, didn’t I? The detective will be so proud of me when I tell her!”
“Yes, yes! My partner! Detective Chloe Decker, with the Los Angeles Police Department. She’s quite brilliant, although a little on the strict side about rules and such.”
The officer eyes Lucifer from his scuffed shoes to his ruined suit and explosion-tousled hair. “Huh. You don’t look like a cop.”
“Oh, I am not a policeman myself, but I do carry the title of Consultant to the LAPD, one of my many titles along with Lord of Hell, Ruler of Demons, the Adversary, Apollyon and Abaddon—”
Hastily, the police officer thanks Lucifer for his statement. Amenadiel is then asked to recount his own version of what happened, and after providing the police officer with the number and address for Lux, the two brothers head back toward Lucifer’s car once more.
The Devil is very happy to see he’d parked far enough away that his Corvette was unscathed by the afternoon’s adventure.
“I can’t wait to tell the detective I saved a life on my weekend off from the LAPD,” Lucifer crows as he gets into the driver’s seat of the convertible.
Amenadiel rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Can we get back to what we were doing, please?”
“We were driving, weren’t we?” Lucifer gestures toward the steering wheel in front of him.
“You were going to tell me how to get Maze to take me back.”
“Ah, yes, you’d asked for help in wooing Mazikeen. Well, as you can see, Neptune would be a splendid destination for a day out of town!”
“Luci, we were just witnesses to a bombing.”
“Exactly! She’ll love it here.”
“Father, help me.”
“Oh, for Dad’s sake, man! Do you want her back or don’t you?”
“Then let us find some places for you to take her whilst you are here. Oh! I wonder if the Neptune Grand is still around? She will have fond memories of that hotel. There are several rooms in hell occupied by people who’ve died there. If I remember correctly, and as you know, angelic recall is nothing short of perfect, Maze’s section used to have a soul that jumped off the roof and another one who was shot in the head in one of the suites.”
“Uh, Luci, I’m not sure that’s very romantic.”
“Nonsense. This is Maze we’re talking about. She’ll love it! Now, I’m sure we can bribe someone into telling us what room that rapist, child abuser, and truly terrible actor, Aaron Echolls, was shot in. Perhaps you can reserve the very one!”