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Rise

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Her nobles shall be no more, nor shall kings be proclaimed there; all her princes are gone. Her castles shall be overgrown with thorns, her fortresses with thistles and briers. She shall become an abode for jackals and a haunt for ostriches. Wildcats shall meet with desert beasts, satyrs shall call to one another; There shall the Lilith repose, and find for herself a place to rest. There the hoot owl shall nest and lay eggs, hatch them out and gather them in her shadow; There shall the kites assemble, none shall be missing its mate. 

- Isaiah 34:14

----

Hell has a name — "satan's den"
Got the lock on the trailer, got the tape recorder in
He's gonna strap her to the bed, spread apart her legs
And pull the soul out of the body that its in
And when he's done he will give her to the earth
A starving animal will always feed
God as his witness he'll smile
As he watches her bones slide between its teeth

- In the Land, Nicole dollanganger


Dinner is rack of lamb with mint jelly and figs scattered about the plate; roasted red apples as well. It's served amidst other dishes, dozens of them, on a long dark cherry wood table that could easily seat twenty or more guests, but it's just the three of us sitting around it: myself, Damien, and Lucifer, taking up the head.

His omega is present as well, but he doesn't have a chair; he kneels next to Lucifer on another embroidered cushion; posture perfect. He doesn't speak and won't  make direct eye contact. Lucifer speaks to him softly on occasion and scratches behind his ear, charmed when the boy quietly begins to purr. I watch covertly, repulsed and fascinated by their interaction.

I hadn't gotten a very good look at the omega in the den because I'd been so terrified of Lucifer, but seeing him now fills in the details I'd missed. He's slim and narrow with small hips and a frailty about him; hair soft and neatly cut. His eyes are a light blue and very lost, such is the way of those omegas that seem to have been Bonded against their will. On his nape his Bonding Mark is slightly jagged and blooms like a pearly pink flower. He's dressed in nothing but black lace panties that are very similar to the ones I'd worn during that horrible dinner party i was forced to attend. Around his throat is a black collar with silver rings. His clover is low on his belly, right above his left hip bone.

Lucifer is soft when he slips the boy (Bradley, if that strange parrot is to be believed) a few bites of food, apples, lamb, and some bread. He doesn't let the boy drink from his cup but has Sophie bring a dish of water to set on the floor.

"You may drink before you attend to your Alpha, kitten," Lucifer says as he strokes the omega's cheek. "Go on."

Wordlessly, the omega crawls from his cushion and across the floor, not very far away but clearly as a way to prolong this posture of abject humiliation. I can only watch, eyes wide, as the boy stops before the dish and stoops to drink, ass in the air like an offering, pink tongue flicking to gather drops of water. The slim curve of his back shines in the light emanating from the candelabras lining the center of the long table.

"Impressively well trained, isn't he?" Lucifer suddenly asks, making me jump; turning to see him watching me with his Hellish, flickering eyes. He's smiling as if he's perfectly delighted to see me watching the degradation of another of my kind. "You know, he didn't come to me like that... no, he needed to be taken in hand; the poor dear."

I say nothing, remembering Damien's warning that a petulant attitude would be my undoing in this setting. Based on the little I've witnessed so far, I'm inclined to agree.

"You might as well cut out his tongue for how often you allow him to speak," Damien comments, lifting his goblet of wine to drink deeply.

"The thought had occurred to me, but then he wouldn't be able to service an Alpha the way he was designed," Lucifer sighs, snapping his fingers.

The omega immediately looks up and returns to Lucifer, slinking and slight as his knees rasp over the hardwood floor. He greedily accepts the pets that Lucifer lavishes on him, kissing fingertips that pass over his lips.

"Sweet child," Lucifer murmurs, pulling away to unzip his pants. "You may have your dessert now because you've been so well-behaved. Would you like that?"

Bradley bobs his head and I have to look away as he crawls under the table; the implications clear as to what is about to transpire. Under the table, Damien settles a hand on my thigh and squeezes.

"Good," Lucifer murmurs in a wet voice. "Just like that, keep your alpha warm."

My stomach lurches and I have to press a napkin to my mouth.

"Calm," Damien says softly, not looking at me when I turn towards the table again.

Hand trembling, I reach for my water glass when Lucifer speaks.

"You don't let your omega have wine, son? Doesn't he know that's what our family is known for?"

"Kyle can't have wine," Damien replies simply, cutting a chunk of lamb.

Lucifer looks at me and I want to hide beneath the table, but then I remember that Bradley's already under there, his face pressed between Lucifer's thighs -

"You can't have wine?" he asks, teeth flashing in the candlelight. "What sort of nonsense is that? There has to be a very good reason."

He gives me a knowing look; a savage sparkle deep in the crimson of his irises. I clear my throat, a whine building slowly.

Damien squeezes me until I sigh softly.

"Father, don't insult us with such clumsy baiting. I'm sure you've already guessed what's going on. Kyle," he adds sternly, "you need to eat. You know how important your nutrition is - especially now."

I lift my fork and poke at the lamb, put off by its aroma; gamey and strong. Nothing on my plate looks appetizing, my nausea increasing the longer I'm subjected to Lucifer's unsettling presence.

"At least have some green beans, and you said you like roasted potatoes," Damien says, trying to coax me like I'm a child. I bite my tongue to avoid snapping back. I'm surprised he hasn't already followed his father's lead and fed me by hand.

"You won't get anywhere coddling an omega like that," Lucifer comments wryly, cutting into his meat. "That's always been one of your biggest downfalls, Damien. You need to be firm; after all, aren't you the one in charge?"

"Oh, of course not," he goes on, tone becoming deceptively sweet. "If that were the case, you wouldn't have had an omega escape. Isn't that right?"

Damien takes a drink of wine, not answering for several long moments. In the silence, i can hear Bradley sigh under the table. Lucifer reaches to stroke the boy's head languidly.

I want nothing more than to stand and sprint out of this room. I stay still, though, a thin sheen of sweat standing on the back of my neck.

Cutting another piece of meat, Damien stabs at it with his fork. "Well, now I know why you insisted that we pay a visit; needed an opportunity to ridicule me,  is that it?"

"Ungrateful whelp," Lucifer replies smoothly. "I merely wanted your company, as well as your lovely Kyle's presence, but I'd heard gossip and had concerns. Tell me, little one, how was your adventure? Did you make it very far before the snare wrapped around your neck?"

I can't tell if he truly wants an answer or if this is merely a rhetorical question; the pressure of not knowing how to respond only making my nausea worse. Damien is gentle when he chastises me.

"He asked you a question, my love."

Stomach pitching, I set down my fork, reaching to brush a curl behind my ear; needing something to do with my hands as Lucifer stares at me expectantly. He smiles slowly.

"I, well," I begin, my voice catching from nerves. I cough softly. "I went to the coast... to the ocean."

I look down, feeling Damien watching me as well; making me grow very warm. We hadn't really discussed the details of my time away because mentioning anything related to Craig infuriates him - although that doesn't stop him from throwing my supposed "infidelity" in my face from time to time.

Lucifer clucks his tongue. "The ocean? But that's so far away, child. I'm sure you couldn't make it there on your own. The world isn't very kind to unchaperoned omegas."

"It isn't very nice to chaperoned ones either," I retort before I can stop myself. Damien growls while Lucifer laughs loudly.

"There's that savage little mouth I remember," he says, pouring himself more wine. "Now continue, please. Regale us with the story of your stolen sojourn on the coast." He sets down the bottle and lifts his glass, swirling it. "And don't leave out the details."

Damien sits up straighter, jaw clenched. It's become painfully evident that Lucifer is using me like a knife to dig between his son's ribs. If I didn't despise him so much I'd almost feel sorry for him, but as it stands I'm just acutely uncomfortable being a pawn in their ongoing feud with one another.

"There isn't a lot to tell," I say softly, folding my hands in my lap. My heart aches to hear these words from my own lips; the profound untruth wrapped around them.

There's so much to tell, after all. I hadn't just run away; I'd run to be with Craig because I'm in love with him. Desperately so. He's all of my dreams at once, but I'm never going to say something like that to Lucifer. I doubt he'd understand.

"I stayed with friends for a while after I escaped Mr. Cartman's estate," I continue. "We drove to the ocean."

"Which ocean?" Lucifer asks.

"I'm not sure," I lie. "I was never told the name."

He nods slowly. "Go on."

Damien is still now, not eating or drinking; just sitting and listening.

"I don't know what you want to hear," I admit, trying to buy time; to distract. "I ran and wish I hadn't been found. Your son already knows this."

"I imagine he does," Lucifer agrees thoughtfully. "But you're leaving out the most important part, aren't you?"

I glance at him reluctantly. "Sir?"

"You ran away to be with someone else, didn't you?" he narrows his eyes slowly; smile dissolving into a smirk.

I nod, my chest tightening.

"And you let him have you, did you not?"

Pushing away from the table, I can't control my anger now, because it's borne from devastation; aggravated by Lucifer's incessant prying. "He didn't have me! It wasn't like that!"

Lucifer watches, bringing his hands up to rest his chin on; elbows on the table. "Then what was it like?"

"Father," Damien says lowly.

Lips trembling, i swipe at my eyes quickly. "It was real... it was actual love, not these sick games the rest of you play. I don't think any of you even knows how to care about anyone but yourselves."

"Kyle." Grabbing my arm, Damien yanks me close, eyes blazing. "That's enough."

"Is it, son?" Lucifer asks. "Your omega is admitting to being in love with someone else, a rival. You've lost control of your household, but now I'm starting to wonder if you ever had a handle on it in the first place."

"Why, because he hasn't turned me into that?" I ask, pointing at Bradley. "Is that all omegas are to you? Animals that you get to play with and fuck when you're in the mood? You're disgusting!"

"Silence!" Damien shouts, shaking me before raising his hand, and our eyes meet; mine filled with fury and hurt and his unreadable; like he's temporarily taken leave of his senses. He's bringing his hand down when I choke out a sob and he stops, eyes widening.

Lucifer just watches, serene and unruffled. "Don't lose your nerve, Damien. Your omega's spoken out of turn, hasn't he?"

"I can't do this, not right now," Damien says faintly. "Not with Kyle's condition... it isn't safe."

"His condition," Lucifer repeats. "So what i smelled on him is the truth... he's carrying a child."

"Yes," Damien replies, slowly letting me go. He seems dazed, outside of himself. "We just had it confirmed at the doctor... right before we came here."

"And is it yours?" his father asks, tone sharpened to a cutting edge.

Damien looks at him with more hatred than I've ever seen in his face; it's like a storm rising. "Of course it is! How could you even ask a question like that?!"

Dropping his smile, Lucifer gives his son a scathing glance. "He ran from you and spread his legs for someone else; probably repeatedly. Isn't that enough reason to be concerned?"

"He wasn't in heat then," Damien spits out caustically. "He didn't become fertile until after I found him again, so stop trying to create doubt. Why don't you try actually being happy for me, or is that beyond your scope?"

"Of course I'm thrilled for you, Damien, but I'm not blind to the possibilities you may be unwilling to consider. However, if you're confident that the child is yours then that's all that matters." Lifting his glass, he adds, "Shall we toast to such a momentous occasion?"

Damien is grim when he relents, lifting his glass as well; not high, but enough to appease his father. I watch as they clink glasses, the small amount I'd eaten violently beginning to rise from my stomach. I cover my mouth.

"May I be excused?" I ask carefully, trying not to gag. "I feel sick."

"Yes, my dear, of course," Lucifer replies. "I'll have Sophie accompany you." His face becomes wolfish. "Just to err on the side of caution, of course. You understand."

Dinner is much more quiet after I return, my mouth sour even after I'd rinsed it. Bradley is still kneeling between Lucifer's legs, and I almost get the impression that he's fallen asleep. I sneak a dirty look at Damien, wanting to tear into him for putting me in that same position before; taking advantage of a vulnerable moment for sick personal gain.

I hate them both, Lucifer more than Damien, but they're both so awful that it almost doesn't seem to matter. I also feel unsettled, immensely so, for actually having a thread of compassion for Damien. My father was hardly what you'd consider an honorable man, but he had acted out of desperation; Lucifer seems to glory in cruelty because it amuses him. Like it feeds a hunger in him that nothing else can satisfy.

I also want to ask him why he seems to despise his own son so much but I refrain. I doubt I'd get a straight answer from him, anyway.

Dessert is pomegranate cake but I eat very little, my appetite having diminished to practically nothing during the course of the meal. Lucifer allows Bradley to come up for air long enough to have a few bites, but soon he's settled between his Alpha's thighs again.

Damien is tense and subdued beside me, also eating much less than unusual. It isn't long before he's pushing his plate away and removing the napkin from his lap.

"As always, it's been a pleasure," he says, pushing back from the table, his hand on my nape. "However, it's getting late, and Kyle needs his rest now more than ever, so we're going to -"

"Have Sophie bring him to my chambers within the hour," his father interjects, plucking a red bead of fruit from his plate.

"I won't agree to that unless I accompany him," Damien replies, fingers digging into me harder.

Lucifer shakes his head, chuckling. "You seem to think you make the rules in my home, son. You forget yourself."

In my head I can hear the parrot screeching "Filthy brat! Learn your place!" and I shiver.

"Either way, I have final say over where Kyle goes," Damien says sharply, "and where he doesn't go."

"Damien," Lucifer replies quietly. "You are walking a very, very fine edge right now. I would suggest that you reconsider your tone. Kyle will be brought to my chambers alone, and you will accept it. Unless you'd like to find out the consequences for obstinance?"

Damien's scent shifts then. Before it had radiated hostility but now it becomes acrid; nervous. He bares his teeth, taking me by the arm. Without a word, he drags me from the room.

-----

As requested, I'm delivered to Lucifer's lavish quarters not too long afterward, having sat through a tedious, nerve-wracking lecture from Damien.

"Don't give him more information than he needs," he'd said frantically. "Just answer his questions but to the point; don't fill in the gaps with superfluous details."

"Why does he want to see me, anyway?" I'd asked, my palms already sweating and sticky. "What's the point of any of this?"

"To get to me. That's always his goal... it has been since the beginning." He'd looked at me, then; wild and disheveled; a far cry from his usual poise. "Just don't let him get into your head... once he's in there you can never get him out. Trust me, I know this from personal experience."

Now Sophie is knocking and I'm awash in apprehension, mostly wondering why any of this is necessary. Hadn't Lucifer terrorized us enough at dinner?

The door opens and Lucifer is there, massive and seeming to take up the whole doorway. His expression is one of sly benevolence.

"Perfect timing," he says, opening the door wider and stepping back. "Please come in, child. Sophie, you may leave us."

She curtsies and leaves me alone, skin crawling as I enter the room, having to walk past Lucifer as I do. I'm waiting for him to grab me but he doesn't.

My stomach is already being tied into hard little knots. It clenches tighter when I hear the door close behind me.

Lucifer's chambers are in another realm of opulence; spacious to the point of being intimidating. My childhood home could fit inside this place with its plush golden carpet and intricate ceilings; covered in paintings of a unicorn being hunted and captured.

There's another fireplace where the flames burn; ostentatious with its large, heavy mantel of dark wood. The same dark-haired woman is on prominent display over top; another oil painting that showcases her fragile beauty, but her eyes... there's just something about them. I drift closer to get a better look.

They appear restless, almost like there's a storm brewing inside of them; large and green and luminous. They belie the soft nature of her mouth, curved pink and smiling gently.

"Don't be deceived," Lucifer says, coming up behind me until I can feel his cloying, dense heat on my back. "Damien's mother was very kind in her own way, but her temper was well known."

I hug myself, so nervous to have someone like Lucifer standing behind me, making conversation. I nearly shudder, but I'm intrigued by this woman; really, I'm very interested in Damien's genesis in general. It's odd looking at the person who carried him, cradled him in her womb; nourishing him with her own body. I slide a hand down to carefully touch my stomach.

"Her eyes give her away," I say, leaving it at that; keeping in mind Damien's warning not to engage unnecessarily.

"They do, don't they?" He sounds closer now, and soon large, hot hands drape on my shoulders. I stiffen. "In many ways, my Lilith was very controlled for most of her life... but the truth was always in her eyes. She was a force all on her own, my tempest."

"Lilith," I repeat, finding it hard to focus with Lucifer so near; the pressure of his hands like the sun burning my skin.

From seemingly out of nowhere, there's a resounding screech close by:

"Lilith! Lilith! Parva soror! Amor tantum mihi*!"

I cringe to hear the parrot's scream again, looking around warily but I don't see it. I do, however, lay eyes on Bradley, who'd heretofore been so quiet I'd missed his presence entirely upon entering the room. He's kneeling next to a wing back chair, staring into space; as always, his posture is perfect.

He's like a statue, a thought that quietly infuriates me because I've been turned into one before; always for the pleasure and amusement of Alphas. Pulling away, I turn toward Lucifer, determined to keep him in my sights for the remainder of our tête-à-tête.

"I would prefer that you not touch me," I say, regarding him with pronounced distaste.

He considers me, his eyes rivaling Lilith's now; possessed of the same intensity. "Why, because you belong to my son?"

"I'm my own," I reply. "I will maintain this opinion until it's stripped from me."

Nodding, he goes to a small cart that's stocked with bottles and glasses. He pours wine into two goblets, lifting them and coming over to offer one to me.

"I won't tell Damien if you won't," he smiles.

"Damien! Filthy brat! Cut a switch!" the bird is like a demon; formless and screaming.

"Where is it?" I ask, casting my eyes around. The room is immense and there are doors leading to yet more rooms; a nesting doll that opens up and another pops out over and over; endless. "If I have to listen to it I want to be able to see it!"

"As you wish," he says graciously, nodding toward a set of doors that are wide open. The filmy curtains adorning them, white and see-through, are fluttering back in the late evening breeze. "This way, little one."

I follow him out onto a sprawling balcony, rounded and decorated with plants and flowers; white chairs, a table, and even a chaise lounge. The parrot is sitting on a large perch close to the door, preening now.

"Your wine," Lucifer reminds me, placing the cup in my hand. "It's some of my vineyard's finest."

"I really don't want it," I reply.

"You're worried," he says. "Concerned?"

I shake my head. It can't be that, of course. I don't want to have this baby; in fact, I've never wanted anything less, but a nagging doubt, a tendril of worry, is holding me back from doing something I find morally objectionable.

It has nothing to do with preserving a life that's been foisted on me. At least, I don't think so. 

"My dear, it really doesn't matter," he sighs, looking up at the night sky where the moon is keeping court with the stars. "Drink the wine, don't drink it... deny yourself or indulge, but the result will be the same."

The way he says this makes a cold finger of dread slide up my spine. "What do you mean?"

"Do you know how many children have been lost in this mindless pursuit of his?" Lucifer asks, almost like he's bored. "He's put his seed in more omegas than I can remember, and all of them have come to the same end... either expiring while birthing or miscarrying...or from Damien's hand when his anger takes control of him. Why should this time be any different?"

"How can you be so callous about something so awful?" I ask, starting when the parrot flaps its wings suddenly. "Isn't part of the reason Damien wants children because of you? To create an heir to take over your holdings?"

"Partially, yes," he says, sipping the wine slowly. A star falls, careening against the edge of the world; leaving a streak of white in its path. "And don't confuse practicality with callousness. I can just accept the lay of the land even if he can't."

"Why do you treat him with so much contempt?" I look into my wine glass, dark and fragrant; my stomach turns.

"Why shouldn't i?" He parries without a pause to mull over my question. "He's been a thorn in my side since he was born."

A pang strikes my heart before I can fortify myself. Lucifer's animosity is so casual, so natural to him, it would seem. He seems to accept his feelings towards his son with the same matter of fact simplicity as one would regard the sun rising in the morning or knowing that they'll die one day; a foregone conclusion that can't be altered.

"But still, he's your child... your blood. That has to count for something," I say, going to sink onto the chaise. A wind kicks up and whispers against my uncovered back, working a chill through my bones.

He looks at me with a wry expression. "Oh, the irony... being told that I should care for my child simply because we share blood, yet here you are, pretending not to care about what's growing inside you; the creature that shares your body. Tell me, Kyle, do you love what's been forced inside of you?"

This question is sickening and he has to know it, because he appears so satisfied after asking it. He's even more adept at making me uneasy than Damien is, but i suppose his son had to learn his tactics somewhere.

"I'm not discussing my personal feelings with you about this," I seeth. "You don't need to know."

"And yet you feel like you have the right to ask me about my feelings for my son? I hadn't pegged you as being a hypocrite, lamb." He laughs like he's enjoying himself immensely. "If you must know, and really, i don't mind disclosing my reasons because I'm never ashamed of how I feel, I was saddled with Damien when I never wanted him in the first place. I wanted his mother, not him. Lilith is the only thing I've ever encountered that almost encouraged tenderness in me."

"Parva soror! Parva soror*!" the parrot screams, bobbing on its perch.

"What's it saying? What does that mean?" I ask, already feeling overwhelmed. The scariest part about all of this is almost craving Damien's presence; as a buffer, a shield; being forced to acknowledge that as much as I despise him, I hate his father so much more.

"Oh, it's Latin," Lucifer says dismissively. "That was the language Lilith and I used in mixed company growing up; to keep our secrets where they belonged, between us. She was my parva soror and I was her magnus frater*."

"You grew up together?"

"We knew each other our whole lives," he says, a current of bitterness filtering into his tone now. "She kept me moored and I protected her from the world. When the Sickness started wiping everything out and changing all of us, i kept her from harm. I thought she would be spared but then we made a mistake...I told her to get rid of it, that thing inside of her, feeding on her,  but she refused. When she wanted something she always got it, one way or another."

"Sounds familiar," I mutter.

"She decided she already loved the child because we made it together. She said she couldn't imagine not keeping something that may share my likeness. Sentimental nonsense, really, and what good did it do? She got sick right before Damien was born, and when he passed into this world she was snuffed out like a candle. In the blink of an eye, i lost my Lilith but gained a son."

"I promised her I'd keep him," he adds after taking a long drink. "I didn't promise her I'd love him."

The cool breeze picks up again, and I can't sit still. Setting the goblet down, i stand to go to the railing and look out over the vast swaths of vineyards stretching far and away; seemingly going on forever. I try to imagine Damien growing up in a place like this, raised like a little prince with all of his father's spoils, but it seems so cold, so dark; living always in the shadow of his mother.

"You act like Damien is to blame," I say softly. "That isn't fair, it isn't even rational. He was a baby - completely innocent. You two decided to have sex knowing what could happen."

"I could say the same for you," he replies.

I turn to look at him, furious because he knows what he's saying isn't even remotely the same. "Your son took advantage of me when I wasn't even in my right mind and you know it! Omegas are nearly powerless when going through a heat! He raped me, and it wasn't the first time, not by a long shot!"

Coming over, he watches me for a moment, eyes glowing, before he grabs my arm and pulls me close. He lays a hand on my cheek and caresses me, ignoring the way I'm struggling. "You really expected him to resist how sweet you are? Even sweeter when you're wet and aching for it? I'm sure you begged for it, to be fucked until you were screaming. Oh, I would dearly love to hear you like that...putting aside your stubborness and succumbing to your true self."

"It isn't the truth," I snap, wanting to bite at him. "It's my dynamic, it isn't me."

"In my eyes there's no difference. Omegas are born to please their Alpha and to be bred. You've managed to do both... but whether you're successful remains to be seen."

"I hate him," I say, breaking now. "I hate both of you... you create suffering wherever you go."

"Whether you love me or not is of no consequence, but I have reason to believe my son would care about how you regard him. He's grown very fond of you."

"I don't care! I'll always hate him!"

"But will you hate your child?" Lucifer counters, pulling me so close that my front is flush against him; his hardness evident and pressing into me. I choke back another sob. "I don't think anyone would blame you if you did, but would you be able to live with yourself?"

"Get away from me!" I yell, twisting away and managing to break his hold, but truth be told I think he decided to let me go on his own; making me believe i have any power in this situation. "I'm amazed Damien didn't turn out worse than he did with you for a father!"

The parrot bobs again, flapping before actually taking flight, and I can see a chain unwinding as it comes to rest on Lucifer's shoulder; a silver shackle around one willowy leg. "Damien! Filthy brat! Shut your mouth! Shut your mouth!"

Lucifer strokes the creature's head. "You never cared for the brat either, did you? He threw rocks at you, didn't he?"

"Brat! Brat! Cut a switch!"

"You wish Lilith never left us," he says softly. "She adored you... her pretty bird."

The bird trills quietly before speaking, "Parva soror! Ego adoramus te!"

"Parva soror," I repeat, touching my stomach before really thinking about it; like I'm compelled. "Magnus frater... but what does all of it mean?"

His smile is savage now. "Why don't you ask Damien? He knows. Now, enough of this, let's go inside; I'd like to give you a tour, if I may."

I want to ask why he thinks a tour is necessary, but I don't, pulled along as he leads me inside. The parrot flutters away to sit on its perch again as we pass by the fire, and Damien's mother - Lilith - watches with her stormy eyes. Lucifer snaps to Bradley and he follows, crawling.

"Show our guest where you sleep at night," Lucifer says to the omega, holding me tight; fingers digging in and making me writhe. We're in Lucifer's grand bedroom, dimly lit; immense. His bed is a beast against the far wall, the headboard an intricate collection of swirls and swoops. Silver chains dangle from it with cuffs attached.

Bradley crawls across the floor, and as my eyes adjust to the dreamy half-light of the room, a large structure comes into focus that he climbs inside; the light bounces off of it and for a moment I'm not sure what I'm looking at, but then it becomes horribly apparent.

It's a giant golden cage, similar to the parrot's downstairs, but on a much bigger scale. Lucifer draws me closer and i can see that the bottom is littered with more embroidered pillows and -

"Oh, my God," I whisper, covering my mouth in terror. There's already another omega in the cage, sleeping on his side; dressed almost identical to Bradley. "I don't... you can't... this isn't real. I'm not seeing this."

"I wanted to give you a taste of your inevitable future," Lucifer whispers in my ear. "I'll take care of you the way an omega should be cared for... not all of this freedom Damien gives you. You'd never be able to escape from me."

Pulling me around, he draws me back against him, and he kisses my nape; sliding his hands under the fabric of where my gown is wide open in the back. They rub across my skin and settle on my stomach, his fingers teasing low on my pubis. I moan, immobilized by just how cruel and depraved he is, sobbing to see the omegas curled in their cage; Lucifer's little, voiceless pets.

That's all we are to him; animals who don't deserve a voice. All we deserve in his eyes is what he's willing to give us.

"This will fail, just like all the other times," Lucifer murmurs, stroking the still-flat plane of my belly, breathing heavily against my skin. "Damien's weak... anything he creates is weak, too. If you don't die like the others, you're mine."

I gasp to feel him reaching to rip my gown apart, and I clutch it to my front when it falls; hiding myself, my nakedness. I sink to my knees and cry, glancing at the omegas to see them vacantly watching me with sleepy, hollow eyes.

It's too much, and I scramble to my feet, expecting Lucifer to snatch me back as I run to the door, but he lets me go; desperately trying to hold my dress against myself as I escape from the room and down long, shadowed corridors. I run like I'm being chased, wanting to leave everything I'd witnessed and heard in that room behind; left to fester in the darkness where it belongs.

When I'm close to our room I collapse, legs weak, heart pounding; sobbing uncontrollably. I hug my dress tightly and wish for Craig, but even as I'm wishing for him I'm thinking of Damien too, and I can see him in my mind's eye as a child, and I allow myself to feel sorry for that version of him, the innocence before the corruption.

I brush my fingers over my stomach and cry harder, for the unwanted and unloved; the rejected. I don't know if my heart is large enough to feel love for this being within me, but I'd like to think that I won't hate it; at the very least, let me be able to accept it as my own.

"I'll try," I cry, shoving my fist into my mouth to stifle myself.

I close my eyes and drift, remembering those green eyes that had lifelessly watched us; shutting down as my sobs subside. I'm so tired... after everything, I feel hollow and gone; like a ghost, a wraith. Dimly, I wonder if Lucifer's omegas, those poor lost boys with the blank eyes, will be warm enough while they sleep in their cage tonight. Do they hug each other when they crave comfort? Are they even allowed?

"Kyle, oh my God, what did he do to you? Jesus, what did that son of a bitch do to you?"

I open my eyes a fraction to see Damien next to me, and without really giving myself time to think I reach for him and hug him close. I wrap my arms tightly around him, tighter than I ever have, and I tell myself over and over in my head that I'm not hugging Damien as I know him; I'm trying to comfort the Damien he could've been if he'd had a different, kinder beginning.

I'm trying to love the child he'd been, long ago.

"I'm sorry, I'm just so sorry," I whisper against his ear.

He allows this for a moment before he pulls away, and then he's studying me; eyes flicking rapidly to take me in as I try to collect myself. He looks down and touches the ruined gown, mouth tight.

"Did he," he starts before swallowing thickly. "He didn't...?"

"No," I reply lowly. "I think he just wanted to make you assume he took advantage of me. He wanted to get into your head, just like you said."

He stares at me gravely. His eyes are muted, almost sorrowful. In this moment, he looks more human than I've ever seen him; allowing the breaks in his facade to show momentarily. "He got into yours."

Biting back tears, I nod. I cover my face with my hands, ashamed of my weakness.

"Come on," he says gently. "I'll run a bath... we need to get you cleaned up."

The bathroom is intimate because it's smaller than I thought it would be, but it's impersonal. Just like our room, it doesn't feel like we're in someone's home - especially not Damien's childhood home. He runs the water and adds bath salts he finds in a cabinet; sweet-smelling, soft. They make me think of the apple pies my mother used to bake when I was very small.

He undresses me carefully, tossing aside the torn gown without really stopping to look at it. He rubs a hand over my stomach, pulling me close to press his lips to the soft, sensitive skin there. I look away, uncomfortable to see him this way; vulnerable and so different from the way I've always known him.

I slip into the water and it's blessedly hot, cleansing, and Damien bathes me like I'm a sick child that's too weak to wash themselves; pliable, unresistent. I fold myself into what he wants from me in the moment, too tired and too saturated with all I've seen and heard to be combative.

In a way, I feel like i need to be close to someone, anyone, because what I'd witnessed had been so terribly cold; so depraved. I've seen so little of the world, but so many parts of it are cruel and grim and dark... I'm craving light and warmth, anything pure, and it feels so far away; further now that I've been exposed to Lucifer's unspeakably brutal nature. As such, I let Damien pet me and attempt to sooth me, leaning into his touches because I'm afraid to be alone right now.

"I know i shouldn't ask," he says as he washes my hair, "but what did he tell you? Anything significant?"

"He makes his omegas sleep in a cage," I say blankly. "And there's a portrait of your mother over his fireplace."

"There are portraits of her all over this place," he mutters, pouring water over my head; fingers trailing down my back. "He never wanted me to forget her sacrifice... as if I ever could."

"Lilith," I say and his hand tightens on me.

"Figures he'd shove her down your throat, too," he says through clenched teeth. His eyes are waking up again; burning. "She's always in the room when I'm with my father... he makes sure that she is. I can't escape her, but I don't want to...I wish I had known her. I think I would've loved her."

"Her eyes," he adds, clearing the water from my face. He looks at me with such longing that I'm almost afraid, like he's not seeing me as I actually am. "In every painting they're always so fretful... troubled. I can see the rage in them, like she's being held under glass and wants to breathe. She just needs to breathe, Kyle."

He cups my face, still studying me. I feel hazy, water droplets falling down my skin. I shift onto my knees. "You had the same look in your eyes when I first saw you, and I wanted to understand...I needed to capture you so I could see it up close, that look. Your eyes have always been your own and they give you away constantly."

Sighing, he leans to kiss my mouth gently; a vague touch that he doesn't deepen. I swallow, feeling like I'm wilting under his hands in the hot water.

"Parva soror...magnus frater," i breathe softly. "What do those words mean? Lucifer told me you'd know."

Growling, his touch is no longer careful as he pulls me up from the bath; grabbing a towel to rub me down, harsh and making me cry out. I endure, though, becoming boneless and quiet so he won't find a reason to hurt me tonight.

I'm dressed in a filmy nightgown and brought into the room, where the lamp is burning its low, subdued light. My shadow mixes with Damien's as I'm led to the large bed with the blue coverlet. He hands me a glass of water and a pill.

"I told the doctor you have trouble sleeping a lot of the time, so he gave me this. Take it."

I'm reluctant, of course, but I obey, swallowing the pill down and sipping the water. I set it aside, watching as Damien paces the room, a tensed creature that's filled with too much at once; anger, need, a strange sadness. I say nothing, drawing my knees to my chest so I can rest my chin on them.

"We'll leave early tomorrow, as soon as the sun rises," he mutters in a manic, unhinged voice. "He got what he wanted... he had the opportunity to humiliate me because you ran away, and then he made me second guess the baby." He glances at me sharply, coming over to grab my shoulders.

"It's mine, right? It has to be, if it isn't I'll rip it out of you myself. Right now."

The medicine I'd been given is wafting in my blood now, and I'm truly too dazed to react quickly, but I clutch at myself regardless; covering my stomach. "Of course it's yours, but even if it wasn't i would never let you do that... you'd have to kill me first."

His expression becomes thoughtful when I say this, and then he's slowly pushing me onto my back so he can cover me; holding me down with his warm, heavy weight; smelling now of something different and altogether pungent -

Desire. Arousal.

"You do care," he murmurs, bending to kiss my throat, nipping softly. "You'd fight to protect your child... even if it meant your death?"

"Damien," I say, turning my head. "Please, I'm only doing what's right... don't look for meanings that aren't there. After all, your mother -"

"I don't want to talk about her," he says softly, biting and sucking bruises into my skin. I whine and he covers my mouth with his, kissing deep; licking into me and tasting. He goes slow, like he's enjoying my sweetness, like I need to be savored.

The chemicals are making me forgetful and loose, and it's very easy for him to slide up my nightgown above my hips, reaching a hand between my legs to stroke my warmth. He laughs against my throat.

"You're wet for me, aren't you?"

I shake my head, bleary eyed and exhausted, feeling him pulling my arms above my head so he can trap my wrists. I struggle, but I feel like I'm in a dream, my thighs carefully parted and I can feel him hard against me.

"No, I don't...I don't want this," I manage to say, but my voice becomes lost; turning into ether. I moan softly when he kisses me again, speaking low; gentling and coaxing me.

He's touching me the way Craig had touched me once upon a time; when he'd made love to me next to the ocean, and I'd given myself over. Tears come to my eyes, remembering, and I want that feeling again so much... I'm starved without it.

"Oh, my darling," Damien whispers against my skin when he's inside of me, full and thick; he's still for a moment, holding my arms tightly, and when I take a breath he moves. He's slow, careful, and he rests a hand on my stomach as he thrusts gently.

Burying his face in the curve of my throat, he sighs, and I want to cry but I'm having a hard time thinking; floating in and out of coherence. I hear him speak and it's like another breath in the dim room:

"I love you."

I hold my breath now and I shut my eyes, feeling him so deep inside me; hand still curved over my stomach, and it's as if I can feel another heartbeat within; steadily ticking like a little clock and reminding me that it's only a matter of time. There's only so much time.

He whispers again, sounding so lost; forlorn. "I love you so much, Kyle."

In my head I'm becoming blank, falling, and I can see the eyes of his mother; tempestuous and nearly mocking, watching and yearning to be free. It's like her shadow is stretching across both of us now.

"Please," I start to cry, "please, please, please."

Damien stops, taking his hand from my belly to hold my face. "Please what? Kyle, look at me."

Heart aching, I open my eyes to look at him, and I pray that he can see what he's doing to me; that he can actually feel through his own desires to remember that there isn't an object lying beneath him; no, I'm a person with a voice, and even if it's silent right now I'm still screaming for someone to listen.

"Are you okay? Why are you crying? I thought you wanted this," he says, searching my face. "You were wet... you made it seem like what I was doing made you feel good. Doesn't it feel good? Am I hurting you?"

I nod, the tears rolling over my face. "Yes, you're hurting me, Damien... even when it feels good, it still hurts. I'm scared."

"Oh, baby," he says, cradling my face with his hands. "My baby...I wasn't trying to scare you, not this time. I don't want to punish you, not after you've been so good for me."

"Your father is a monster," I whisper, my voice cracking. "He enjoys hurting omegas... we're nothing to him, and he taught you to be the same way."

"That isn't true, I adore you. I just told you I love you," he replies, his face becoming less soft. "My father would never say that to an omega."

Moving again, he moans low in his throat; tensing as he adjusts to my tightness; I wince, clenching around him and he tangles his hands in my hair.

"You're so good, you're always so good. Just like this," he says, thrusting deep again, and he's touching that sweet little spot inside of me.

"I can't," I pant, "please, just stop. If you care about me at all, you'll stop."

He's still brushing that secret place, and my toes are curling; breath hitching, and my body wants to be used, it's begging for it, but I didn't ask for this.

"Damien, you said you love me... if that's true, then," I sigh, his hand reaching down to grab at my hip, and I can feel him; he's so close, so close. He's teetering on an edge only he can see.

"I need you so much," he moans, biting hard at my throat, but then he's drawing away, and that fullness is receding as he looks down at me, eyes on fire, and we regard each other; both breathing heavily.

"I'm not here for you to use," I say, laid out beneath him; wrecked, my nightgown hiked up and my thighs spread. I can smell my arousal and his, mingling and becoming heady. "You can't just take without asking."

Growling, he moves away, running his hands through his hair. "Damn you," he says fiercely. "How am I supposed to be this close to you and not touch you whenever I want? You're mine, you belong to me!"

"But I don't," I say, sitting up. I pull down my gown to cover myself. "And you know it."

Sitting, he hides his face in his hands, breathing through his teeth. I can see the tension in his hands, the way the veins stand up in his arms. He's shaking.

"We need to get out of here, away from him," he says. "I can never think straight when I'm around him, and now he's gotten to you... the fucking jackal. If I could I'd kill him myself."

My curls are wild and I try to make them behave, gathering my hair to twist against my nape. "Tell me what those words mean, please. I asked your father but he wouldn't say... he wanted you to tell me."

"Of course he did," he says harshly. "It's just another way to degrade me, even though he's the one who should feel ashamed."

"I don't understand."

He laughs, a harsh, biting sound, and looks up to meet my eyes. His eyes are crazed, teeth bared. "Parva soror," he says slowly. "Little sister. That's what that means; and magnus frater? That means big brother, Kyle. Do you get it now?"