“But—“ Amenadiel tried.
Sometimes, Lucifer felt the urge to pet the silly angel on the head. Okay, he might have got his arm taken off for the trouble, but hey, what’s life without giving in to your impulses? Boring, that’s what.
“They’re people,” he explained patiently. “People do stupid, self-destructive shit every day, for no better reason than to see what would happen. There was this writer, one of yours, I think – you collected him a year or so back – anyway, he used to say that if you put a big red button in a cave, with a sign that said END OF WORLD BUTTON, DO NOT PRESS, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.”
Amenadiel snorted. Hah! Lucifer knew he’d get him to hint at a sense of humour eventually (read: with enough pestering).
“I mean, you’re not wrong,” Amenadiel conceded. “Sometimes, I despair of them. Who votes for a lunatic just because they want other people to suffer?”
Lucifer exchanged a look with Maze. “Uh, the entirety of human history?” she suggested. Lucifer loved it when she got like that, dry enough to soak up the Dead Sea.
“Oh, come on. You’re exaggerating.”
“He has only been around a few years here and there,” Lucifer told Maze, making sure to use his most condescending tone. “He has yet to really get to know humanity, like you and I do.”
Amenadiel glared, turning beseeching puppy eyes on Linda and Chloe. Here we go, Lucifer thought, braced for the defence team.
“Yeah, no, on this occasion I must agree with Lucifer,” Linda said. Lucifer blinked, preparing to crow his victory – before he got distracted by the look on Chloe’s face.
“Detective, why the glum look? Surely you of all people should be hardened to human nature by now? How many criminals a week do you put behind bars? With my expert assistance, of course.”
Chloe Decker just sighed quietly. Now Lucifer was getting – not worried, because he didn’t do worried – but curious.
“Oh, this is even better than I imagined. Do share with the class. What level of depravity have you been witness to, that you can’t even rise to protect your own kind?”
Chloe speared him with a look that Lucifer felt go all the way through him and into his spine. Wow. He could power a lesser circle of Hell for a month on that kind of spleen.
“Just once,” Chloe said, raising her glass to take a hefty sip, “I wish you could be less of a prick, Lucifer.”
Linda stifled a huff of laughter into her own glass, ducking her head and leaning back into her chair. Lucifer felt unpleasantly like he was missing something.
“What? Why is this about me now? Why am I always the bad guy? Oh, ‘the Devil made me do it’, boo-hoo. People should take responsibility for their own stupid actions.”
“I won’t argue with that,” Chloe said, in that grating tone she used when she was humouring him. “Just… Maybe don’t be offended when people react poorly to you rubbing it in. Yes, people are stupid. Yes, we make mistakes, for no good reasons. Being smug is not attractive.”
“Lies and slander, smug looks great on me. Everything looks great on me, but that’s another subject.”
Now Lydia was exchanging looks with Amenadiel, like he got something Lucifer didn’t. “You know what, you can all take your attitude and stuff it up your arses, maybe that’ll get you to unbend. Who knows, Brother, you might even like it.”
He took his glass and walked out of his own bar, tugging his dignity like a cloak around him. He just really didn’t understand people sometimes. Oh, he understood the impulses that governed them – the deeper and darker, the clearer their motivations were to his sight – but why people persisted on blaming the decisions they made of their own free will on impulses they claimed not to be their own…
People were weird. Lucifer had spent aeons amusing himself with them and their petty lives, desires, urges. But to want to be them? Be mortal? To lose touch with the part of himself that remained viciously objective at all times? No. He wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy.
“What?” he snapped when he heard the detective’s steps behind him. He leaned on the balcony of his penthouse, looking over the night city. “Come to mock me some more?”
Chloe didn’t respond. She just walked closer, putting her hands on the parapet. After a moment, she straightened them out and stared down into the grid of twinkling lights without seeing a thing.
“People are stupid,” she said at last. There was weariness in her voice, in her heart. A tiny ache flared into being in Lucifer’s chest, wanting to take it away. But that was not something he did, either. “Stupid, and breathtakingly selfish, and so mired in their own shit that they can’t lift their head to see that the world around him isn’t what they are certain it must be. People hurt, Lucifer. All the time. And pain is a powerful motivator to find some way to make it stop.”
“But—“ Lucifer paused, aware that he sounded like the silly angel downstairs but unable to help it. “I don’t understand why making it stop for them means spreading it out to others. Even devils don’t do that to their own.”
“I didn’t say their way was smart, or effective. I don’t have much patience for people who make themselves out to be victims, while at the same time they are so ignorant of their own privilege. I’ve got kids on the streets, queer kids joining gangs for protection, women sleeping rough because they happen to be trans. I’m a fucking cop. I am the definition of privileged to some people. Why can I see what’s really happening out there, and they can’t?”
Lucifer didn’t have an answer for her. The biggest complaint he had for humanity was how blind they were, how gullible. He had no idea why people chose to live that way, certainly nothing he could tell Chloe now.
“Because,” he said slowly, every word weighing on him like a revelation he didn’t want to acknowledge, “You, Detective Decker, are a good person.”
Which automatically meant that Lucifer should, by all laws and ordinances of the metaverse, want nothing to do with her. He should avoid Chloe Decker like the plague.
And yet… He couldn’t seem to stay away from her. Perhaps all the way to his ultimate destruction.
The detective shifted glumly next to him. “That might be. It really doesn’t make me feel better right now.”
Lucifer hesitated before patting her gingerly on the shoulder.
“There, there. I know the cure for that. I’m pretty sure I have an almost full bottle of authentic Mexican tequila around here somewhere. Personally recommended by the worm at the bottom.”
Chloe wrinkled her nose. “Ew.”
“I notice you aren’t refusing my offer, however,” Lucifer said gleefully. It made him feel unexpectedly light, to see the start of her spirits lifting. It was… strange. But not unpleasant. And for that, he could give her a little bit more. “Besides. That guy will be remembered as the worst head of state in recent history. In give or take two hundred years, this planet will be fucked all to hell, and they’ll be able to trace it directly to his election.”
“Shockingly, this doesn’t help me all that much, either,” Chloe said. The look she aimed at him was darkly amused, however. Lucifer beamed at her for a minute before heading off to find the promised anaesthetic.
He was the Devil. Nothing could change that, save Grace from on high, and Lucifer had long learned not to depend on it. Miracles did happen, but not of that magnitude.
Even so, he didn’t think even Maze would frown on his quest to get the detective drunk and shut off her brain.
(He’d just have to keep his true motivations to himself – until he, at least, grew to understand them.)