What the hell am I doing? Dan took a deep reassuring breath and tried to look confident. It wasn’t like going to Lux was something new to him. Ever since he and Lucifer had officially begun to see a true friend in the face of the other, the detective had become an honorable guest at the nightclub. Ella had even said on multiple occasions that she ‘totally shipped’ (whatever on earth that meant) their ‘bromance thingy’. And as much as the detective was shying away from making grand statements regarding his relationship with Lucifer, it was still an undeniable fact that he was spending a ridiculous amount of time with the guy. Almost every time Trixie wasn’t staying with him and Chloe was busy or just wanted to spend a quiet night alone with their daughter, he would find himself in the company of the self-proclaimed Ruler of Hell. FORMER Ruler of Hell, Daniel! Oh, yeah, another new thing – now his brain was helpfully providing witty remarks about his thoughts in an irritatingly British accent. But it would be a lie to say he wasn’t enjoying Lucifer’s presence in his life. (Go figure!) In fact, he hadn’t had that much fun since his bachelor days. The very first time his new friend had dragged him to Lux was after a tough case that had ended a bit bloody, leaving the detective with a nasty-looking wound on his temple. Of course, Lucifer’s idea of a well-spent night involved sex and since the club owner himself no longer had the luxury of being single and available for meaningless endeavors, he had found pleasure in helping Dan find a one night stand instead. Which in that particular case meant introducing him to two of the infamous Brittanys and asking them if they would take care of his injured friend. And, oh God, had these girls taken care of him! But however pleasant and even exhilarating that night had been, he wasn’t quite eager to repeat it. Too many years of his life had gone by in sharing his bed with a person that had also been his best friend to feel comfortable waking up next to women whose last names he didn’t even know (and who didn’t seem to care if his name was Dan or Dom). Once had been fun, but calling them again would bring the sensation of some sort of commitment that just didn’t feel right. As old fashioned as it might sound, he didn’t really believe in keeping someone simply as a booty-call. Therefore, his later visits to Lux had been filled mainly with alcohol and ridiculous jokes with Lucifer and occasionally Amenadiel. ‘Quality bonding time’ as his friend had called it.
Well, yes, there had been some minor hiccups, including that one time Dan had decided to drown the stress of a particularly gruesome case of child-abduction in one too many glasses of bourbon and had ended up throwing up on top of himself and passing out on the floor. That incident, as embarrassing as it had been, hadn’t been the main problem though. He had woken up the following morning, lacking his ruined shirt (his jeans miraculously hadn’t been affected by the waves of vomit his mouth had produced) and tucked in a blanked on the couch in Lucifer’s penthouse. His friend had been surprisingly (suspiciously, the right term should have been suspiciously) calm and empathetic the whole time Dan ate his breakfast and never even commented on his misfortunes from the previous night. That had been until the detective had grabbed his jacket (his shirt had been ritually burned while he’d been asleep) and had headed toward the elevator, intending to go back home to shower and change his clothes before work.
“Um…I don’t think you’re gonna have time for this, mate.” Dan still couldn’t erase the image of Lucifer’s devilish grin from his memory.
“Oh, no reason. Just that the Lieutenant called while you were incapacitated – hope you don’t mind me taking the liberty of answering your phone – and said that she has an urgent case for you… That was two hours ago.”
Shockingly to Dan himself, he hadn’t tried to shoot Lucifer right there on the spot (which was saying a lot about the depth of his fondness for the guy). He'd asked him for a clean T-shirt and that was when the real headache had begun. Not that he’d refused to give him clothes, no. It was that he’d given him an unnaturally white button-down, made of what was probably the softest fabric in the world (“It’s Egyptian cotton, Dan! Educate yourself!”). It had been lovely (especially after rolling up the a bit too long sleeves) and it could even somewhat go with Dan’s blue jeans but it had been practically screaming “Property of Lucifer Morningstar”. But no matter how he'd begged for something not so on the nose, his friend had refused to give him a T-shirt. So that day Dan had gone to work wearing his ex-wife’s sort-of-boyfriend’s shirt and had given the whole precinct some quality gossip material. It had most probably been an honest to God miracle that no one had ever questioned the relationship between the former spouses and the club owner earlier, but Dan had been taking that bliss for granted. However, now those days were gone and after Lucifer had deliberately loudly called him ‘honey’ a few times and had even kissed his temple once in front of the interrogation room, at least half of the precinct was convinced that he and Chloe were sharing Lucifer not only as a work partner. Which was a problem that could have been fixed (somehow) had his ex-wife not shouted from across the hall that her mother was visiting and he could have Lucifer again for the night. That had been the last nail in the coffin. Surprisingly enough though, after a few days he’d realized that neither he nor Chloe cared much about the rumors (and Lucifer, of course, was downright enjoying them).
But, as Dan was approaching the night club, he couldn’t help but think that tonight would most probably be just another misfortunate event he would gladly erase from his memory. Serves me right for oversharing! Another deep breath and another somewhat failed attempt to compose himself. After the Brittanys Lucifer had agreed to quit the attempts to set him up with any of his former lovers but he was still a fervent believer that the healthy lifestyle should involve a certain amount of time spent naked with another person (or two, or three). So even though he wasn’t exactly pushing him towards anyone in particular, he was still very much encouraging him to ‘live a little’. Which had led to the moment Dan had been foolish enough to confess that he didn’t have the confidence to go back on the dating field.
“Nonsense, Daniel! The Brittanys had nothing but high praises for your performance.”
“You asked them about that?!”
“Actually, I didn’t. They initiated the talk. Asked me why you haven’t called them for another round.”
With the full awareness that many men would give up years of their lives, their left hands or even their souls to hear something like that about themselves, Dan had shrugged at Lucifer’s smug grin. “I’m not worried about the bed part,” he could still remember the blood rushing toward his face when the words had come out of his mouth. He had half-expected Lucifer to laugh at that statement but his friend had remained politely silent. “It’s the talking before that.”
And before thinking about the consequences, he had made the grave mistake of accepting Lucifer’s offer of ‘a little friendly guidance’ and now the detective was willingly going to his public humiliation at Lux. His friend had promised it to be a spectacular night but Dan was fairly convinced that his ego would need a few years to heal from whatever psychological trauma the impending several hours had in store for him.
“Hi, Lenny!” he greeted the bouncer as lightheartedly as he could but the guy just nodded warily in response. Leonard was a six-foot-six ex-con who resembled more a grizzly bear than a human being and could make Lucifer seem like a skinny teenage boy compared to him (Dan was putting an active effort into not imagining how he looked like next to the giant). However, Lucifer had managed to overlook his scary appearance and shady past and had decided to give him a second chance in life. He claimed that the man’s heart was in the right place and, from the way Lenny was looking at his boss, was obvious that he would jump off the building for him so the detective never bothered asking why he had been in prison. All he knew about him was that he was trying to make an honest living and provide for his wife and newborn baby boy. But no matter how sympathetic Dan was, the bouncer always seemed on edge in his presence. (“It’s because of that cop face of yours,” Lucifer had grunted once and that had put an end to the whole Leonard discussion.)
“Hey, Dan!” The charismatic and chatty bartender Tim (nicknamed Man Bun by Maze) was entirely different story. He never missed an opportunity to make a new friend and had quickly become one of Dan’s favorite people at Lux. “Big night, huh?” The young man winked at him and the detective wished for the floor to open up and swallow him whole.
“He told you, didn’t he,” he frowned at the guy but didn’t speak the words as a question. Of course, Lucifer had told his personnel about his friend’s impending humiliation. The only thing he hoped for was that there weren’t any bets about the outcome of the night going around.
“He just asked me to pay extra attention to everything you might need, that’s all.” Somehow Dan wasn’t convinced that that was the whole truth but there wasn’t much he could do while facing Tim’s disarmingly innocent smile.
“And where is he now?”
“He has a name,” Lucifer joined the two men at the bar, looking dashing as ever, placed a hand on the detective’s shoulder and grinned widely. “Let’s see what we have here.” His eyes went critically on the man’s outfit before concluding his inspection with a sigh, “At least now you look like a cool cop. Less could indeed be more, I guess.”
Dan was instructed not to wear any of his ugly shirts he favorited for special occasions (“They are not ugly, Lucifer!”, “You’re right. They’re bloody hideous! And you will not go anywhere near my club with something like that on your back!”), so he was dressed in a plain grey T-shirt that was wrapped around his muscles in the most complementary way and a pair of black jeans.
Lucifer made him turn around to take a better look and nodded his approval. “Well, I was hoping you’d put on the shirt I gave you, but I can work with this, too.”
Dan could actually feel his eyeballs sinking deeper into their sockets as he rolled his eyes, but didn’t say a word. His mind was too busy questioning its own sanity to manage to form a coherent response.
“Timothy, pour our friend here some liquid courage!” After two glasses of bourbon were placed in front of them, Lucifer clapped his hands and pushed him toward the sea of dancing bodies, “So tell me, Dan, which one of the lovely ladies here catches your eye. Are you sure the gentlemen are off the table?”
“Yeah, quite sure.”
“Pity. That chap over there undressed you about five times in his mind during the last two minutes. So what’s it gonna be?” Lucifer sounded like the whole thing was as easy as ordering a meal at a restaurant. Perhaps for him it was but Dan was feeling lost in the colorful crowd surrounding him.
“What about that woman there,” Dan pointed at a beautiful brunette whose dress was covering a little bit more flesh than the scraps of clothing wrapped around the other girls around.
“Nice choice… If you’re eager to get married again.”
“Look at her, Dan! I know her type. That woman believes she can meet the future father of her children here. Nay, she’s looking for the future father of her children here. You sleep with her and she’ll have your entire future mapped out before breakfast. And no, before you say anything, that is not a good idea! Next!”
“Fine… uh… What about the one in the corner?”
“The blonde with the green dress?”
“No, the one next to her.”
Lucifer rolled his eyes and fixated his gaze on the ceiling. If he didn’t know him better, Dan would say he was praying to some higher power for patience.
“How about I choose for you this time, huh?” There was hardly contained exasperation in his friend’s voice that made the detective nod and Lucifer beamed again. “Lovely. See the two ladies at the bar?”
“You mean the ones who are currently busy making out with each other?”
“What?! No! Though a few ideas come to mind. Look a little to the left. Yes! Go there and order something, then, before returning here, look at them, smile and tell Timothy to write their next drinks on your bill. And, please, try not to look like a creeper. Here everything is about body language.”
“So you want me to buy them drinks and then leave?”
“Exactly. You declare your interest but don’t pressure them with your presence. They’ll have to make the first step and if a woman does that the rest is practically a child’s play. You give them time to take a good look at you and decide which one wants you more… if they’re not willing to share, of course, but I don’t think these two are that open-minded. So when one of them approaches you--”
“You mean if one of them approaches me.”
“Alright, alright. So what then?”
“Then you make a small talk and, depending on how the conversation is going, you either offer to buy her another drink or you ask her if she’d like to go someplace quieter. Understood?”
“Good. Off you go then.”
In his teenage years Dan had discovered the universal truth about dating – that it was much easier said than done. And tonight he was about to rediscover it. The first part went smoothly and after just a couple of minutes one of the women was making her way toward him with a Cosmo in her hand and lust in her eyes. It turned out she was an actress and was there to celebrate her first big role in a new television show. The man was quite proud of himself for not mentioning his ex-wife even once but when she explained that she was about to play a mother, estranged from the father of her children, the conversation quickly became more serious and eventually Dan found himself telling stories about him and Trixie. Not long after, the lovely creature named Haley smiled at him sweetly, said she was feeling guilty for leaving her friend alone and left.
“Why on earth would you talk about your spawn to a woman you want to get into bed?!” The expression on Lucifer’s face could best be described as ‘I’m not angry, I’m disappointed’, but he soon overcame the initial shock of his friend’s ridiculous behavior. “Talk about the weather if you wish, just don’t mention your ex or your offspring, ok?”
The next target was simultaneously easier and harder. Easier, because it was obvious from space that the girl was at the club with the sole purpose of getting laid. Harder, because she was in her mid-twenties and Dan, well, wasn’t.
“No way, man! She’s about fifteen years younger than me.”
“If that bothers you, then I suppose it’s best if you don’t know the exact age difference between me and every woman I’ve been with. She’s an adult, Dan. Let her decide whether a few more years of life experience are a problem or not.”
“I guess you’re right?”
“Of course I am! Now let’s see... I’d say she’d had a tough break-up recently. Probably hadn’t had much fun for a long time. So I guess you just have to listen to her for a while. The good thing is you won’t have to talk much. Might be nice to mention you work with the LAPD though – to make her feel save and protected. Try sneaking it smoothly into the conversation. Go!” With a vigorous pat on the back Lucifer pushed him in the direction of the way-too-provocative young woman.
At least the first time Dan had managed to exchange a few sentences with the lady. This time, the girl fled his company after half a minute spent in his presence.
“Let me guess,” Lucifer approached him, looking rather unamused. “You said something about arresting her for underage drinking.”
“I tried to make a joke. I thought women liked being considered younger than their age. And you were the one who suggested I say I’m a police officer.”
“First of all, that only applies for older women, desperately trying to pass for teenagers. The actually young ones might feel targeted and threatened, as you very well saw for yourself. And second, I said make her feel protected, not scare her off! The hell were you thinking with that joke?! The ‘did it hurt when you fell from Heaven’ pick-up line would have been better! And for the record, I despise that one!”
An hour later Dan was feeling physically and emotionally drained and just wanted to go back to his apartment, curl on the bed and sleep for several months. From the looks of it, Lucifer wanted the same thing and just some inhuman stubbornness was keeping him going.
“All of these women were a sure thing, Dan,” Lucifer was massaging his temples with his fingertips and seemed close to losing his temper. “It’s actually a grand achievement that you’re NOT having sex with any of them right now!”
The detective just snorted in response and seated himself on a stool next to the club owner.
“Look at you,” Lucifer continued his tirade, waving at Dan’s general person. “I mean, I’d do you. I would have when I considered you nothing but a simple-minded douche. Trust me, that says a lot. Timothy, back me up here.”
“He’s right,” the bartender smiled at him and nodded appreciatively. “You’re stupid hot. And I’m telling you this as a straight male.”
“See! Getting laid should be a piece of cake for someone like you. Why do you have to be such a Dan and ruin everything?” Lucifer downed his drink and gestured at his employee for another one. “You act like a dog, you know?”
The detective didn’t even have the energy to roll his eyes. He knew the night would be a disaster. He just never imagined what a tremendous disaster it could be.
“No manners. You just jump at the people you like and drool all over them as a sign of affection. Figuratively speaking, of course. Dad forbid you manage to exchange any bodily fluids with someone! You just don’t know how not to be you for like five minutes. And here I thought that ridiculous improv class you go to might be of use.” The club owner downed two drinks in a row and stroked his friend’s hair as if he was an actual dog… or a small child. “Don’t worry, I’ll teach you. It’ll be harder than I expected, but I’ll teach you.”
“Whatever, man!” Dan didn’t even try to escape Lucifer’s awkward caress. “I’ll just go home now.”
“No, no, no, no! The night is still young.”
“I have to get up early tomorrow. Thanks for the effort but I’d really like to put this whole thing behind me. I’ll see you at the pre--”
“Lucifer, my man!” A short and fat but well-dressed man approached them and slammed his paw in Lucifer’s back. “What’s up, buddy? I was hoping I’d see you here! I have some things I need to discuss with you.” The man was still patting him on the back and everything in Lucifer’s expression was screaming that he would gladly rip off the sod’s arm and beat him with it.
“Hi, I’m Dan,” the detective didn’t even try to hide his resentment toward the stranger but the common courtesy required a handshake which, conveniently enough, forced the guy to remove his paw from the club owner. The detective noticed how his friend visibly relaxed and shifted in his seat so that his back wouldn’t be exposed to further attacks. Dan never asked Lucifer about his scars but it wasn’t too hard to guess that they would be a sensitive spot for him.
“Wow, strong hands!” The newcomer extracted his appendage from Dan’s bone-crushing grip and shook it, trying hard to hide his pain. “Lucifer, I’m sure your boy toy here is amusing and all but what I have to tell you is far more--”
“Daniel is a dear friend. And I honestly can’t remember your name. So shoo!” the club owner waved his hands dismissively and the man before him turned red with indignation.
“Lucifer, please! I’m Arthur… Arthur Dooley. We talked about my business last month. You said… Look, I have some ideas. We could be talking about a lot of money here,” the man was pleading as if his own life was on the line and Dan finally took pity on him and nodded at Lucifer.
“Look, it’s ok, man. Do what you do. I was about to go anyway, so--”
“You are not going anywhere! This will only take a minute and I’ll be right back. Just stay here, ok! Timothy, don’t let him leave, understood?”
Dan rolled his eyes and raised his hands in defeat, “Fine, I’m staying.”
“Lovely. I’ll be right back. And you,” the club owner measured the Dooley guy with his eyes and hissed, “you better not waste my time!”
The detective focused his attention on the amber liquid in his glass and almost missed the hurricane in human form who took Lucifer’s seat next to him.
“Five shots of tequila, please.”
With the corner of his eye Dan noticed the how the woman downed three of the drinks in what appeared to be a single breath.
“Wow! Tough day?”
“More like a tough month.” The forth drink met the faith of the ones before it and the woman finally turned her face toward Dan. “Looks like you should know the feeling.”
“That obvious, huh?”
“No offence, but you look like you’ve been hit by a train.”
“Oh, so I’m actually holding up quite well. I was afraid I might look like something coming out of an elephant’s digesting system.”
A light laugh escaped the woman’s lips and she almost unnoticeably leaned forward. “I’m Sarah, by the way.”
“Dan,” he squeezed gently her hand and nodded toward the empty shot glasses in front of her, “Is there some backstory here or you’re just a huge fan of tequila?”
“I’m a huge fan of tequila. And I need to drown some issues. So I guess it’s a win-win.” A smile spread across her face and the man noticed an adorable dimple on her right cheek. “My friends and I were supposed to have a girls’ night out, but they bailed on me,” she shrugged and softly pressed her fingertips on his forearm. “What about you? You alone here?”
“No, but my friend is the Devil and needed to go make a few deals.”
Her laughter was contagious and soon Dan found himself grinning from ear to ear. She told him she was a history teacher and had only recently moved to LA to be a moral support for her younger sister who dreamed of an acting career.
“But enough about me! Tell me something about you.”
“Uh, well… I’m a police officer.”
“I knew it!”
“You have one of those faces, you know… Uh…”
“A cop face?”
“Yeah! Oh, don’t look at me like that! I actually have a thing for cops. I think it’s the handcuffs.”
“Wow!” Dan could feel his blood rushing in the direction opposite of his brain. “Is it just me, or this place got really hot, really fast?”
“I know, right,” she was leaning so close to him he could sense her perfume mixed with a soft scent of tobacco. “Do you want to go somewhere a bit more… uh…”
“Great!” She stood up and gave him a look full of mirth.
“Daniel!” Lucifer made his way through the crowd and rested a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “You said you’d stay.”
“Yeah, well, plan’s changed.” He turned toward his companion, “Lucifer, this is Sarah. Sarah – my friend Lucifer.”
“Oh, so you meant the Devil thing seriously?”
“Well, I didn’t, but he certainly does.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Sarah,” Lucifer smiled politely and leaned to whisper in Dan’s ear. “For goodness sake, mate, go to the penthouse! It’s so much closer than your place. You don’t even have to talk. I won’t interrupt, I promise!”
“Thanks, man, but I think I’ll be good,” Dan smiled conspiratorially to his friend and patted his shoulder. “See you tomorrow, yeah?”
“Go have fun, kids!”
With one final eye-roll, the detective turned around and offered his arm to the gorgeous woman beside him. They hadn’t even make a few steps away when he heard Lucifer’s overly dramatic voice: “They grow up so fast, Tim!” Dan turned around just in time to see his friend theatrically wiping unexisting tears from his eyes.
“Are all of your friends so… eccentric?” Sarah was obviously struggling to contain a burst of laughter.
“Some of them. But Lucifer is one of a kind.”