Lucifer, fallen angel, Morningstar, Lord of Hell, drummed his fingers along the basalt table.
It wasn’t that there was nothing to do in Hell. There were damned souls to torture, though most of them took care of themselves. Some of the vilest offenders needed a little extra attention, but he had outsourced most of them to Mazikeen. It wasn’t like he enjoyed torturing the humans, though there had been that phase in which he had lashed out at them; he couldn’t reach his father, after all. And Maze did enjoy it, and he couldn’t deny her talents in that area, so he let her do what she did best.
For all his railing and complaining, he had never heard anything from his father. Not even in those first horrible days, when he had cried out to his father in his agony; not even then.
In the end, he had stopped trying. He’d stopped doing much of anything, really.
So when he heard that painfully familiar sound of a celestial arrival from the hall - and who would have thought he would remember that sound, of all things? - he felt a spark of something, and turned to look.
Before he had completed the motion, though, Maze was there, blades at the ready.
“Hold,” he murmured. “Let’s see what it is.”
Lucifer would not, could not admit to his hopes, or the way his heart lept at the sight of his eldest brother, for all that Amenadiel wore his most implacable expression. He gestured to Maze and she shifted to stand at his back, ready if he needed her.
“Samael,” Amenadiel began.
“No.” Seeing the stone of Amenadiel’s face break to confusion, Lucifer added, “That’s not my name any more. You should know that.”
And suddenly Amenadiel took on that all-too-familiar look: patient elder dealing with his exasperating younger sibling.
“Our father sent me.”
Lucifer lolled back in his chair, keeping his expression even, though he didn’t bother to hold back the bite to his voice as he asked, “So soon? Why, I’ve barely gotten myself organized, brother.” He shooed Amenadiel away. “Come back in another millenia. Maybe I’ll feel like chatting by then.”
He knew, of course, that he was safe in taunting his brother so; if their father had sent Amenadiel, he wouldn’t leave until he had accomplished his task.
Unasked, Amenadiel took a seat, sweeping aside his robes in a gesture that twisted at Lucifer’s heart. That automatic motion, he’d done it himself so many times. He’d eschewed the robes, though, of course: at first because he hadn’t been able to bear anything against his skin, then later as another way to distance himself.
“Hasn’t the fashion changed yet in the Silver City?” Lucifer added. “Still in the dress?”
Amenadiel scowled, though he said only, “Our father has a task for you.”
Shaking his head, Lucifer replied, “No, can’t do it. I’m far too busy ruling Hell. Or perhaps dear old Dad forgot he gave me that job?”
“He hasn’t forgotten, Sa- brother.”
Almost, Lucifer had hoped that his father had forgotten him. Would that be better than being ignored?
“Why should I do anything he wants?” Lucifer demanded. “What will he do to me if I don’t? What could possibly be worse than what he’s already done to me?”
Shaking his head, Amenadiel sighed. His voice holding strained patience, he said, "Our father, in his wisdom, decided -”
“Wisdom? How can you say that he’s wise?” Lucifer got to his feet, nearly stumbling in his haste. “He exiled me for asking questions, for wanting what he gave the humans. He left me like… well, see for yourself.”
And he stripped away his glamour, letting Amenadiel see what he had become.
To his credit, his brother did not look away. He regarded Lucifer steadily, silently, and Lucifer saw… what? Compassion? Pity?
Lucifer shook his head and pulled on the glamour like it was armor. “Do not say to me that he is wise,” he said, his voice tight to keep it from shaking. He returned to the chair, his motions slow and deliberate, then turned a challenging look upon Amenadiel.
“All right,” Amenadiel replied, his voice gentle.
Lucifer tried not to be disappointed by the easy acquiescence. He wasn’t sure if he could best Amenadiel, but at least a fight would have been something different, something new.
“Father asks,” Amenadiel tried again, his words careful now, “That you go to Earth. Temporarily,” he added quickly, perhaps seeing Lucifer’s interest.
Lucifer felt Maze stir behind him. Of course she would object.
Amenadiel shrugged. “He didn’t give me much in the way of details, but he wants you to encourage a human. Steer his path.”
Lucifer couldn’t help but laugh. “He wants me to manipulate a human?” he asked, shaking his head. “What about his free will?”
“Free will remains, as I’m sure you’ve noticed,” Amenadiel replied, with a gesture that Lucifer guessed he meant to encompass the cells beyond, with all their occupants reliving their sins. “But we can guide.”
“No.” Lucifer felt Maze relax behind him, heard her soft exhalation of relief. “I won’t influence a human.”
And now Amenadiel rose, skirts swirling in his frustration. “Brother, why can you never do as you’re bid?” he demanded. “Look, if you do this, you can have some time on Earth when you’re done.” He considered the room, then turned back to Lucifer. “Something different,” he added, with faint emphasis.
Well. Lucifer didn’t mind admitting that novelty held its appeal. He had seen the changes in the people who had come to Hell, and Earth…
Earth had been a long time ago.
“What human?” he asked, hating that he wanted this.
“A king,” Amenadiel replied, sounding as if it didn’t matter to him. Which, Lucifer reflected, it probably didn’t.
Lucifer drummed his fingers lightly on the table, and Maze moved to his side. “You’re not really thinking about doing this, are you?” she asked, her voice quiet but intense. She glared at Amenadiel, who merely smiled in return.
“Little demon,” he said, a note of warning in his voice. “This is none of your concern.”
“Of course it’s my concern,” Maze replied, though she directed her words to Lucifer. “I’m your protector.”
Lucifer took note of Amenadiel’s expression, which had gone sour, and felt his spirits lift. “You’re quite right, Maze,” he agreed, before shifting his attention to Amenadiel. “I’ll go. And Maze will go with me.”
Demon and angel spoke as one, and their resultant glares at each other were enough to elicit from Lucifer his first real laugh in… he couldn’t even remember how long. Oh, it was marvelous.
“Why?” Maze demanded, even as Amenadiel protested, “You can’t possibly be serious. I’m not letting a demon loose on Earth.”
“Like I even want to go there,” Maze retorted.
Lucifer grinned as he leaned back in his chair. “Mazikeen will keep herself under control,” he said to his brother. Turning back to his demon, he added, “It will be something new. Exciting!” She looked entirely unmoved, and Lucifer added, “In a city large enough to have a king, there may well be weaponsmiths.” He lifted his brows significantly and tilted his head in his brother’s direction, trying to convey his desire to annoy Amenadiel, then added, “It’ll be fun.”
Maze’s gaze flicked to Amenadiel. She smiled. “When do we leave?”
“Wait,” Amenadiel protested. “Sa- brother, you don’t really think I’m going to go along with this, do you?”
Lucifer shrugged, still feeling pleased with himself. “Well, you were told to bring me to Earth, so that I can do whatever it is our father wants, yes? And if you want that to happen, you’re going to have to agree to my conditions. Maze goes along, and we get… five years on Earth when we’ve finished the task.”
“Absolutely not!” Amenadiel drew himself up in shock that Lucifer reflected was a little overdone. “Father certainly didn’t intend that you be gone that long. Two days.”
“Well, that’s just insulting. Really.”
And it was, but it was just the start of their bargaining, which ended with Lucifer and Maze getting a month on Earth after their task was complete. Amenadiel clearly disapproved, but relented in the end.
“All right, then,” Amenadiel said, his voice brusque. “Let’s go.”