Chapter 1: The Task
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.”
Chapter 2: Amenhotep IV
Lucifer's first trip takes him to ancient Egypt, where he encounters an odd king.
Please note that I am not a scholar of ancient Egypt (or, for future chapters, the Bible and Shakespeare). If you spot a historical error or inaccuracy, remember that it's fiction! ;)
The three of them arrived in a back alley, and Lucifer found himself hard pressed not to gape. “Well, they’ve built the place up a bit,” he said, keeping his voice cool with some effort.
“Do you know what you’re supposed to do?” Amenadiel demanded.
Lucifer waved him away. “Of course. Go away, now. I’m sure you’ll know when it’s finished, or someone will.” After all, he could hardly enjoy himself with Amenadiel looming, and now that he'd gotten over his initial surprise, he wanted to explore.
Amenadiel nodded, his expression making it clear that he wasn’t entirely sure that his bargaining had gone for the best. “Just… behave yourselves.”
“Of course,” Lucifer replied, all innocence. Amenadiel took himself away, and Lucifer mused, “Might have been good for him to specify how he wanted me to behave, but that’s his problem, right, Maze?” At the lack of response, he turned to see that Maze had stepped to the intersection of the alley with the thoroughfare beyond. “Everything all right?” he asked, as he joined her.
Maze shifted her gaze to him, an abrupt movement. “Yeah,” she replied, her voice too even. “It’s a lot of brown, though. I was expecting more colors.” She gestured to the buildings and then the ground.
“Well, I’m sure there will be a bit more variety. Let’s see what we can see.” Amenadiel had provided appropriate clothing as well as plenty of cash, and Lucifer certainly intended to make use of the latter. How long he'd be wearing the clothing, well, that remained to be seen.
“Are you really going to do what he wants?” Maze asked suddenly, with a vague gesture skyward that could have indicated either Amenadiel or Lucifer’s father.
Lucifer drew in a breath, considering. “Well, it can’t hurt to find this king,” he mused. “Eventually. Nobody said we couldn’t have some fun first, though.”
And they did. They wandered about the city and gawked at the river. They found the promised weaponsmith and placed an order for a curved blade that the man had called a khopesh, as none of the available weapons had suited Maze. And then, finally, they turned toward the palace.
It ended up being easier to reach the king than Lucifer would have guessed. As it turned out, there were two kings, and the one they wanted was the younger of the two. They found him in an outdoor courtyard, sitting in the shade of a cluster of trees. There were attendants, of course, and guards who moved to bar their way, drawing the king’s attention.
Not that he looked particularly regal, Lucifer mused. He could have mistaken the guards for their ruler; the king looked soft by comparison. Maze moved forward to deal with the guards, though she fell back at Lucifer’s small headshake.
The long-faced man squinted up at them, then said, “Let them pass.” The guards shifted to one side, and the king continued, still peering at Lucifer, “Who are you?”
“Lucifer,” he replied. “And you are Amenhotep, yes?” He ignored the shocked looks he was receiving from all but the king, perhaps at his lack of obeisance. He was not about to bow to anyone, though, least of all to a human.
The king nodded, though he still squinted at Lucifer. “You aren’t from here,” he suggested.
Lucifer nodded. “Ah, yes, that’s quite the understatement,” he agreed, with a quick grin over his shoulder to Maze. Seeing her incomprehension, he offered a quick translation, then turned back to the king to query, “How did you know?”
“Well.” The king looked Lucifer up and down, though his expression implied no assessment or desire, only puzzlement. He leaned in closer and said quietly, “There is a certain glow about you. Did you realize?”
Lucifer glanced down at himself, then back to Amenhotep. “I… glow?” He looked back at Maze, who certainly would have told him if he’d suddenly become a light source, but the demon had drifted back to the guards, the better to study their weapons. The guards, he noted, did not seem to be entirely at ease with this process. He approved of their sense of self-preservation.
“Are you the ba of a god?” Amenhotep queried, drawing Lucifer’s attention once more. The king still studied Lucifer as if he was something to solve. “Are you serving his purpose?”
“No!” Lucifer replied promptly, with perhaps more vehemence than was entirely necessary. “No god. No. Just his son. I suppose.”
“So, then, a god,” Amenhotep replied, nodding as if satisfied.
Lucifer drew in a breath as if to argue further, but there was something about Amenhotep’s clear gaze that made him stay silent, instead.
The king continued, “Which one?”
“Which god?” Lucifer frowned over his answer, struck by the fact that he wasn’t sure what it was. “Well, the god. The one. There’s only… does he even have a name?” He shrugged. “I just called him Dad.”
“One god, lifted over the others?”
Lucifer inclined his head, startled by the sudden intensity of the king’s gaze. “That’s basically how it works for me, yes.”
Amenhotep nodded, his expression gone thoughtful. “That… yes.” He squinted at the sun, then back to Lucifer. “You will stay at the palace,” he said, with the casual tone of one who expected obedience. “You and your companion,” he added.
Lucifer considered arguing just for argument’s sake, but he could use a place to stay. And why not the palace? He looked back to Maze, who seemed to have reached an accord with the guards. “We will,” he agreed.
So Lucifer and Maze spent their days wandering about Thebes. The palace guards clearly regarded Maze as an oddity, but one worthy of wary respect. Still, she entertained herself by learning their techniques and then soundly defeating the guards with those same skills, when Lucifer was in the company of Amenhotep the younger.
This happened more than Lucifer would have thought; he found himself enjoying the company of this odd dreamer of a king. And always the man regarded him with puzzlement, and perhaps a hint of wonder.
So when Amenadiel arrived to inform him of his task’s completion, he regarded his brother in confusion. “What did I do?” he queried. “We didn’t do much, Amenhotep and I. We talked, we played at Hounds and Jackals. We ogled his lovely wife; if ever a woman deserved to be called The Beautiful One, it’s her.”
“You did as you were supposed to do,” Amenadiel replied, and Lucifer felt his hackles rise.
“What does that mean?” he demanded. “I didn’t even try.”
And he hadn’t. Amenadiel had given him specific topics to discuss with Amenhotep: trade issues with Mittani, a possible war with the Hittites. He had brought up none of them.
Amenadiel smiled, and Lucifer asked, suspicion coiling in his chest, “What was he talking about, when he said that I glowed? What did he see?”
“He has eyes to see that part of you that is still divine,” Amenadiel replied.
Lucifer got to his feet, the suddenness of the motion drawing Maze’s attention. She ran a hand along the hilt of her khopesh, brows lifting in inquiry, but Lucifer shook his head. It would be more satisfying to beat the condescending smirk from Amenadiel’s stupid face.
He considered it, his fist tightening. But first he wanted answers. “What’s going to happen to him?” he demanded.
Amenadiel shook his head, unconcerned. “Whatever our father intended.”
“But it’s my fault, now, what happens,” Lucifer protested. “The humans blame me for all their crimes, but this time they’ll be right.”
Amenadiel peered at Lucifer in confusion. “He has free will, Lucifer. He’s responsible for his own actions. And you know Father wouldn’t guide him to commit a crime.”
“Why else would he send me?” Lucifer replied, with a bitter twist to his lips that was not a smile. “Why not send Gabriel or Michael or even you?”
Amenadiel made an exasperated noise. “Even me. Thanks for that. And he chose you because you were the most suited for the task. He doesn’t make mistakes, Lucifer.”
Lucifer made a wry face. “Oh, of course he doesn’t.” He considered pointing out his own fate to his brother, but knew he would not want to hear Amenadiel say that that particular action had not been a mistake. Best to leave it alone.
Realizing that answers were not forthcoming, Lucifer turned to Maze. “Do you want to stay?” he queried. “Would you rather return to Hell?”
Amenadiel’s words had left a sour taste in his mouth, and while he had enjoyed his time in Thebes, he felt like there was nothing more to do.
“I could go back,” Maze replied, with a shrug.
Lucifer returned his attention to Amenadiel. “Right,” he said briskly. “Take us back.”
Puzzled, Amenadiel replied, “But you argued, you said you wanted time here.”
“I changed my mind,” Lucifer replied, his voice flat. Even though he'd tried not to accomplish his father's task, he had apparently done so inadvertently.
So Amenadiel returned them to Hell. “Father is grateful -” he began.
“I don’t care about his gratitude,” Lucifer replied, shoving down that tiny part of himself that did, in fact, care.
Amenadiel sighed. “Maybe next time -”
“There won’t be a next time.”
Lucifer was wrong about that, though it took more than a thousand years for that time to arrive.
Chapter 3: Yeshua
Lucifer meets his half-brother.
Lucifer was not surprised when he returned to his chamber to find Amenadiel waiting. His brother had tried to convince Lucifer to go on further errands in the intervening years, always to be met with refusal.
Lucifer had, after all, kept tabs on Amenhotep as best he could. He’d heard about the man’s attempt to turn Egypt to… well, not quite monotheism, but, as Amenhotep had said, lifting one god above all others. That did seem like something his father would support.
And Lucifer had heard of the destruction of the temples that had been built by Akhenaten, for so Amenhotep had renamed himself, for his god. He’d seen how Atenism had vanished, and how future kings had removed Akhenaten from their records.
What would have happened, he wondered, if he had not interfered?
But Lucifer did not just keep track of the king he had influenced. He had been hearing rumors, and had guessed that it would only be a matter of time until his brother showed up.
“Do you know what’s been happening up there?”
Lucifer sighed. “Hello to you, too, Amenadiel. Could you be more specific? That encompasses quite a lot, from my perspective.”
“There,” Amenadiel repeated, sounding exasperated. “On Earth?”
“On Earth?” Lucifer purred. “Do tell.”
Of course he knew, but he was curious to see how his brother would explain the particular situation.
“Our father has sent one of… well, our…” Amenadiel, looking profoundly uncomfortable, asked, “How much do you know about how we came about?”
Lucifer grinned at that. “More than you do, I’ll wager, considering some of my extracurricular activities.” That drew him a stern look from Amenadiel, and Lucifer added, exasperated, “What, like I have so many options for entertaining myself down here? Go on, then. What’s got your knickers in such a twist?” He eyed his brother. “Do you even wear knickers under that dress? Actually, never mind. I don’t want to know.”
Amenadiel took a deep breath, as if he could inhale patience along with the air. “Father sent one of us to Earth. Well, sort of. I mean, Mom wasn’t involved, obviously.”
Lucifer did not even glance in the direction of the one cell he would never visit. He’d left his mother to Mazikeen, of course; his demon was likely there even now.
“So?” Lucifer asked carelessly. “He sends you lot to Earth all the time.”
From the brief lift of his eyebrows, Lucifer guessed that Amenadiel had caught the pronoun shift. “But this time he’s sent one of us to live among them, as a mortal. And…”
Seeing his brother’s uneasiness, Lucifer settled into a chair, saying, “Don’t tell me you’re doubting the old man. You?”
“Of course not.” Amenadiel drew himself up, sitting more stiffly even than usual. Really, Lucifer decided, such posture was unnatural. There had to be a stick involved somehow.
“So what’s the problem?”
“There’s no problem.” Amenadiel spoke flatly, but he didn’t meet Lucifer’s gaze.
Lucifer sighed. “Then what’s the point of you coming here? I know it’s not just for the pleasure of my company,” he added, his voice dry.
And now Amenadiel did look over. “Will you talk with him? Yeshua? Our… brother?” Seeing Lucifer already shaking his head, he added, “This isn’t coming from Father. But he’s going to be fasting in the desert, and…”
“You’re worried about him,” Lucifer said, not even bothering to keep the bitterness from his tone. “Why not go yourself? Oh… let me guess: our father, in his infinite wisdom, told you to let this Yeshua figure things out for himself.” Amenadiel didn’t reply, which was answer enough, and Lucifer smiled. “Finding a loophole, brother. Maybe you’ve learned something from me after all.” Inclining his head, he added, “I’ll go. I’m probably the only one who will give him a straight answer.”
Frowning, Amenadiel asked, “What will you tell him?”
Lucifer got to his feet. “The truth. What else would I say?”
“Well, you look awful,” Lucifer observed, hunkering down next to the man who was, apparently, his brother. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a round of bread. “Here.”
Yeshua opened his eyes. Seated cross-legged in a rare patch of shade, he looked like he had been meditating. He took in the bread and then shook his head. “I’m trying to get closer to my father.”
Lucifer considered the ground and the likelihood of getting dirty, then shrugged and folded himself to a seat as well. “And you think that will help? Only if you die of hunger, and I get the impression that he has plans for you. If you ruin those plans… well, let me tell you, he’s not the forgiving type.”
Yeshua peered at him and then waved away the bread once more. “I’ve chosen this path.”
“Free will,” Lucifer agreed, tucking away the bread with a rueful little smile. Stubbornness, after all, was a family trait. Realizing that Yeshua hadn’t specified which path he was choosing, Lucifer inquired, interested, “Are you rebelling? That doesn’t tend to work out.”
“No. I’m preparing for what is to come.” Yeshua peered at Lucifer in some puzzlement, asking, “Who are you?”
“You’re not going to believe me,” Lucifer replied.
Yeshua offered him a tired smile. “Try me.”
Lucifer couldn’t help but smile in response. Even though he looked half-dead, Yeshua’s charisma still shone through. “All right, then. I’m Lucifer, your brother… or, at least, we share a father.”
Yeshua regarded him steadily. “For some reason, I don’t think you’re speaking of Joseph. Not with that name.”
“No,” Lucifer agreed. “No, I’m not.” He returned Yeshua’s gaze, then said, curious, “You’ve heard of me. Are you afraid of me?”
Yeshua smiled and shook his head. “No. Should I be?” He lifted his shoulders in a small shrug. “Are you here to steer me wrong? I already have enough yetzer hara within myself, though I do strive not to act on it.”
“Evil inclination?” Lucifer queried, with a laugh. “You, who are starving yourself in the hopes of gaining favor from our father? I doubt that. You needn’t worry, though. You lot produce that all on your own; it doesn’t come from me.”
With a quick murmur of apology, Yeshua nodded. “I… can see that. Why are you here?”
Lucifer shrugged. “Heard you were fasting, thought you could use a snack. Oh, don’t worry,” he added, with a grin. “I’ll stop trying to tempt you.”
“Just don’t take out the bread again,” Yeshua quipped. “I thought I’d gotten over being hungry. You know, when you’re so hungry, and then you reach the point where you just stop wanting food at all?” Lucifer shook his head, and Yeshua added, “But then I saw the bread and wanted it. I’m trying to deny myself, though.”
“Now that’s just humility,” Lucifer scoffed.
Yeshua smiled. “Something wrong with being humble?”
“Well, yes,” Lucifer replied expansively. He grinned, though, enjoying the banter. “If you’re good at something, why not let people know? Own it!” He guessed from Yeshua’s expression that he wasn’t going to be able to convince the man; there was that stubbornness again. Instead, he asked the question that had been nagging at him since he did first heard the rumors. “Your mother, what’s she like?”
“Patient,” Yeshua replied, looking a little amused. “I am not an easy son to mother.”
Lucifer wondered what it would have been like to have a patient mother. Not that she had been so awful in the beginning, of course. It was the end - well, his end - where things had gone sideways.
Yeshua cast a considering look at Lucifer, then asked tentatively, “And our father?”
Lucifer made a small, rude noise. “Hasn’t spoken to me in millenia. Surely you know him better than I do.”
Grimacing as he shifted position, Yeshua replied, “Oh, sometimes. He sent the holy spirit in the form of a dove before I came here.” Perhaps taking note of Lucifer’s skepticism, he added, “He did. And he spoke then, but he doesn’t do that often. Not in words. And not… in person. What’s he like?”
Lucifer, as Yeshua gazed at him in inquiry, asked, “Do you really want to hear this from me?”
“Well, it’s not like I have many options,” Yeshua replied, and Lucifer grinned at the bite to his tone.
“Ooh, somebody’s cranky. Sure you don’t want that snack?” He rummaged at his feet and located a stone. “Though I’ll bet you could just turn this into bread, right?”
“One doesn’t live by bread alone,” Yeshua replied, shaking his head. “Could you just answer the question?”
Lucifer dropped the stone. “You asked for it,” he replied, with a shrug. “He’s a manipulative, judgmental bastard, if you want the truth of it.”
“But who else should judge us?” Yeshua queried, though not without a quick glance at the stone.
“Judge yourselves,” Lucifer replied, lifting his head to look skyward. “Or don’t judge at all, there’s a thought. I mean, what has he even done for you? If you tripped, do you think he’d send angels to keep you from stubbing your toe? Hardly.”
“Well, of course not,” Yeshua replied, sounding a little puzzled. Maybe, Lucifer reflected, it was the lack of food. “After all, I’m not here to test him. As for what he’s done for me…” He gestured to the landscape, to the mountain beyond. “He made this.”
“But don’t you want more?” Lucifer queried, honestly curious. “You could raise yourself above these humans. If you did, it’d spare you a lot of unpleasantness to come, let me tell you. You know whatever he's got planned won't end well for you."
A shadow crossed Yeshua’s face, but only briefly. “What I have to do is best done as I am now,” he replied.
Lucifer shook his head. “He really has brainwashed you, hasn’t he?”
Expression a little wan, Yeshua replied, “Not at all. I know what’s to come, brother.”
Almost, Lucifer smiled at the familial term. “Then come away!” he urged. “Come with me. Don’t let him use you like this.”
“He’s not,” Yeshua reassured. “Lucifer, what I’m doing is my choice.”
“But you didn’t choose to be born his son!” Lucifer protested. Perhaps if he himself had been born someone else's son... but, no. Of course that hadn't been possible.
Yeshua agreed, “I didn’t. But I can choose what to do as his son.” Lucifer made an inarticulate noise of frustration, and Yeshua rested a hand on his arm. “It will be well, in the end.”
“It’s the getting to the end that you should be worried about,” Lucifer muttered. He pulled the bread from his pocket once more and thrust it into Yeshua’s hand. “You need to eat,” he added, his voice rough.
Yeshua smiled and closed his eyes. Lucifer got to his feet and his hand hovered over Yeshua’s head for a moment. He looked upon his brother, and then he turned away.
Amenadiel appeared in that moment. Perhaps sensing his brother’s mood, he was silent as he returned Lucifer to Hell.
And when Judas Iscariot came to his place, he received Lucifer’s personal attention.
Chapter 4: Will
Lucifer punches up Hamlet.
Lucifer sat at the table with his truly atrocious wine, listening with interest to the nearby conversation. He’d convinced Amenadiel that, really, he should have the occasional trip topside just for the fun of it, and his brother had reluctantly agreed. Lucifer had figured that Amenadiel would likely try to use it as leverage for future trips for their father, but Lucifer had still gotten a lovely fortnight with the woman who later became Empress Theodora out of it, and several other trips besides with people who just ended up living their own lives without ending up in the history books. He had enjoyed them all, and in a variety of ways.
For this trip, he'd been in London for nearly another fortnight, and, when he’d come up for air, he’d taken the time to attend a play. There were rumors of sonnets by the playwright as well, and he’d managed to track some down from one of the man’s friends. That had been enough to pique his interest, so he’d come to a pub that William Shakespeare had been known to frequent.
“It’s rubbish,” the dark-eyed man groaned. “I mean, really. And before you say it, Thomas, I don’t need you to read it. Don’t you have your own play to work on, the Spanish one?”
Thomas exhaled a sigh of his own. “With Eleazar, yes. I don’t see it going anywhere any time soon, Will. But you’re right. I need to at least try to work on it, and that won’t be done here.”
That brought a smile to Will’s face. “What, you mean that to finish a play, we have to write it? Put down actual words? Somewhere other than here? Perish the thought, Thomas Dekker.”
Laughing, Thomas got to his feet. “Well, you have more of a deadline than I do, but I’m the one off to try and get some work done. Still, I know it’s your plays the people will be clamoring for, Will, no matter how much I put into mine.”
“Come, now,” Will chided him. “Henslowe’s called on you more than once, and the plays have done well.”
“Done well for rewrites,” Thomas agreed, with a sigh. “The original work, well, he doesn't seem to want that. But I’m off. Do try to get out of your cups to put in some actual work, Will.”
Will made a derisive noise and waved after Thomas’s retreating back. He looked up with interest as Lucifer settled to a seat next to him, or perhaps it was the wine that Lucifer put before him that drew his attention.
“Are you a playwright, too?” Will queried. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before. Thanks for that,” he added, with a nod for the wine.
Lucifer shook his head, taking a drink of his own wine. “No, I’m the Devil. Lucifer,” he added.
His eyes glinting with amusement and perhaps a little disbelief, Will asked, “The Devil, in a pub in London? Don’t you have better things to do?”
“Not at the moment,” Lucifer replied, with an easy smile. “Having trouble with a play? What’s it about?” He didn't read much these days, to be sure, but he knew stories; so, it seemed, did this Will.
“Well,” Will replied, leaning forward in his seat. “When it starts, the main character is going home for his father’s funeral.”
Lucifer’s smile widened. “Dead father? I like it already.”
Later, back at Will’s place, Lucifer sprawled on the bed, quill in hand. They had dallied with some fun of their own, of course before turning to the play. “It’s not bad, really,” Lucifer observed. “But I don’t see why Hamlet has to think his father’s ghost was sent by the Devil. That’s really not my style.”
“It’s how things are done,” Will replied lazily. “People expect it. If we could fit in a bear, that could be amusing,” he added, though he didn’t sound serious about the suggestion.
Lucifer shook his head. “Amusing doesn’t really fit with the rest of it, though. Not that there’s no humor,” he added, as Will stirred. “But I don’t think animal-based comedy would fit. What about the girlfriend?”
“What, turn her into a bear?” Will queried, laughing at Lucifer’s exasperated look.
“That’s enough wine for you,” Lucifer decided, amused.
“It’s not the wine,” Will protested. “It’s…” His words trailed off, and he glanced away, then back at Lucifer.
“What, me?” the Devil replied, a smile curving his lips. “I’m distracting you from your writing?”
“Just a bit,” Will replied. “But it’s not like I’m objecting. Come on, put it away. There’s time.”
Lucifer couldn’t help but smile. “Didn’t that Thomas fellow say that you had a deadline?” he teased.
“Well, yes,” Will replied. “But the deadline isn’t tomorrow.”
Lucifer set aside the quill, turning his attention fully to Will. “All right,” he said, a challenge in his eyes despite his smile. “You’re the wordsmith: convince me.”
“Well,” Will began, his eyes resting on Lucifer. His voice teasing, he continued, “They do say the Devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.”
Lucifer reached for the quill once more, a look of triumph in his eyes. “That line is going in the play.”
Will sank back against the bed once more, with a sound somewhere between a laugh and a groan. But then Lucifer set aside both quill and pen, and turned back to Will. “Now, then. Pleasing shape, did you say?” He braced himself over the man, suggesting, “Do go on.”
Smiling, Will did, though it was not words that he used.
“Why do you keep saying that you’re the devil?” Will asked, much later, as he teetered on the edge of sleep.
Lucifer eased back a little, smiling. “Well, because I am. Do you really think a human could do what I just did?”
That sparked a laugh from Will. “Now that,” he said, “Is an excellent point. That really was… superhuman.”
“Thank you,” Lucifer interjected.
“No, thank you,” Will replied, with a grin. “But while you did some devilishly clever things - I mean, candle wax and cross-garters, very creative - I’m not sure why that proves you’re the devil.”
“It doesn’t, not specifically,” Lucifer agreed. “Though it was fun.” Will smiled, his expression reflective, and Lucifer added, “Do you need proof? You can’t just believe I am who I say I am?”
Will reached over to brush Lucifer’s hair back, his hand lingering. “I just don’t see how it could be true. You’re anything but evil.”
“And the Devil must be evil?” Lucifer asked, his tone taking on an edge. He sat up, despite Will’s protests.
Will, sitting up as well, peered at Lucifer in puzzlement as he replied, “Well, yes. I mean, it is sort of inherent in his name. Devil… evil.”
“Clever,” Lucifer replied, a bite to his tone that suggested the opposite. “And everyone is just as they are named? You’re off shaking spears? I mean, besides the obvious one,” he added, with a brief glance to the salient portion of Will’s anatomy.
“Not so much shaking as… well.” Looking a little abashed, Will conceded, “I see your point.” Still, he didn’t look convinced.
Lucifer had seen that look often enough. He'd tried, with the humans that he visited, but they never believed him, and it really wasn't worth the effort. Not with time so short, and so much fun to be had. With a resigned shake of his head, he suggested, “Just keep that bit about the pleasing form.”
“I’ll do that,” Will replied, teasing, “The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman.” Clearly caught by the line, he added, “Don’t think it will fit in this play, but I’ll use it somewhere.”
“What about the cross-garters?” Lucifer asked, his eyebrows lifting suggestively. “Surely there’s a place for them in a play? Not Hamlet, but maybe another.”
“Definitely,” Will agreed. “Though probably not as we used them. I’ve an idea for the next play, though. I think it needs a shipwreck, and…” He smiled at Lucifer. “Someone who isn’t what they appear to be.”
Lucifer reached for the quill. “Now, now,” he chided, though not without an answering smile. “Finish this one before you start the next one. Now, where were we? That old snoop is spying on Hamlet, right? You can’t let him get away with that. Definitely kill him; eavesdropping is awful.”
Will, laughing, shifted closer so that he could see. “You don’t think it’s a bit much?”
“Not at all,” Lucifer replied. “I mean, it’s almost as bad as killing a king and marrying his mother.”
Will leaned even closer, and Lucifer smiled. “That line’s going in,” Will decided. “So we have to kill Polonius.” He grinned up at Lucifer. “Maybe you are the Devil.”
Lucifer, catching the turn the playwright’s smile was taking, did not anticipate that Will would meet his deadline.
Will, breathless in his hurry, caught Lucifer just as he and Amenadiel were about to turn into a back alley, the better to depart out of sight of human eyes.
“You’re telling the humans your name?” Amenadiel protested.
“Oh, far more than that,” Lucifer replied, enjoying the uneasy look that his words gave his brother. Turning to greet Will, he added, “You just caught me. Don’t tell me Burbage doesn’t like it. He's got that speech and everything.”
With a quick grin, Will replied, “Of course he does; how could he not? But I wanted to thank you for your help, and…” His eyes slid to Amenadiel, then back to Lucifer. “Your friendship.”
“You are most welcome,” Lucifer purred, playing it up a little just for the fun of Amenadiel’s discomfiture.
Will extended a leather-wrapped bundle, and Lucifer smiled to see the sprig of rosemary tucked in its binding. “I made you a copy. I know you said you had to leave before the production, but I wanted you to have it.”
“Thank you,” Lucifer replied as he took the bundle. “I know it will be a hit.”
Will looked as if he wanted to say more, but, with a glance to Amenadiel, he only nodded once before heading back the way be had come.
Lucifer watched him go, then turned back to Amenadiel. “Stop your judging,” he chided.
Amenadiel made a rude sound and escorted Lucifer into the alley, and from there back to Hell. And while Lucifer wasn't able to steal away to see Hamlet, or even Will's later plays, he always kept his copy of Hamlet close, for remembrance.
Chapter 5: Chloe
Amenadiel brings one final task from their father: Lucifer is to become guardian angel to an LAPD officer.
As Lucifer reckoned it, Hell was… well, Hell. It mostly looked after itself, by this point. Its denizens had grown to learn that Lucifer, while not to be crossed, would not go out of his way to make their lives miserable without cause.
Lucifer himself, that was another matter altogether. He was perfectly capable of exquisite misery, generally masked by gaiety. Since Will, his last few trips to Earth had tended to go somewhat sour. That didn’t stop him from taking them with increasing frequency, though. It wasn’t that humanity had changed slowly before, but now it seemed as if his father’s creations were moving at breakneck speed, trying to accomplish something remarkable in their short, little lives. So he visited as often as he could manage, and tried not to mess things up too much in the process.
Amenadiel had stopped trying to give him tasks, as he had refused enough of them, but Lucifer suspected his brother of choosing some destinations with their father’s will in mind. He tried not to focus on what he might be doing inadvertently.
Oscar… Oscar had been an utter delight. Lucifer had actually lost track of how much time they had spent together, and Amenadiel’s call for him to return to Hell had been profoundly unwelcome. More so had been the news of what had become of Oscar, which Lucifer suspected had been brought about by what Lucifer had helped Oscar see about himself.
What had it meant that Oscar had read Dante’s Inferno in prison? Lucifer tried not to think too hard about that, really. But Oscar hadn’t ended up in Hell; at least there was that.
A more recent trip had been some thirty-odd years ago. His attention had been caught by the fashion of the time, and then by the amazing vocal range of the singer in the band. He’d happened upon them while trying to hook himself up with some of the new, illicit substances that the humans had made. One thing he could say for his father’s creations: they really were inventive when it came to finding ways to incapacitate themselves.
One thing had led to another; after all, the band had said, “Beelzebub has a Devil put aside for me.” What else could Lucifer do but oblige? He knew a cue when he heard one.
So he’d gone back to Freddie’s place, and everything had been lovely, with one small exception: the cats. He’d never had any particular feeling for them before, but their smell and their hair, and, most particularly, their habit of jumping and landing on a person right when one was at a particularly crucial moment all combined to instill in him a sudden, intense dislike of the creatures. He’d kept that to himself, though; Freddie had seemed quite fond of them, and Lucifer hadn’t wanted anything to get in the way of their interlude.
But when Amenadiel had taken him and his lovely new white suit back to Hell, he’d made a private vow never to spend any extended time in the presence of those creatures. And then he’d gotten a lint roller.
When Amenadiel arrived in the year the humans called 2011, Lucifer was reminded that he hadn’t actually gone topside in a while. Unfortunately, his brother’s businesslike expression made it clear that a fun trip would not be forthcoming. “Lucifer, Father wants -”
“Look, when are you going to get it through that thick skull of yours that I’m not going to act on our father’s behalf?” Lucifer demanded. “Not intentionally, at least. Why don’t you do whatever it is?”
Amenadiel sighed, and sank to a seat next to Lucifer. “I’ve already been involved in this matter, and Father thinks someone else should handle the rest.” He reached into his robe and pulled out a photograph, which he extended toward Lucifer. “Just look at her.”
“Why should I?” Lucifer replied, waving away the picture. “It’s not like it matters what one human looks like. I’ve already seen and sampled a wide variety.” Seeing his brother still holding out the picture, now looking a little disgusted, he added, “If he doesn’t want you sticking your fingers in again, have him send someone else: Gabriel or Raphael or even Uriel.”
Shaking his head, Amenadiel replied, “Uriel has another part to play in this, and Gabriel and Raphael are… unsuited to the task.”
With a short, amused noise, Lucifer said, “Boring, you mean? Well, that’s the lot of you, really.”
“Yes,” Amenadiel replied, his flat tone making it clear that he was agreeing in an attempt to get Lucifer to acquiesce. “We’re boring and you are the most fascinating thing in our father’s creation, which is why he wants you to do this.” Lucifer just shook his head, and Amenadiel offered the picture once more. “Just look at her, okay?”
“Fine.” Lucifer took the picture, though he spoke to Amenadiel before looking. “This isn’t going to make a -” His gaze landed on the picture, and he studied it, his attention caught. The young woman was dressed as a police officer, her fair hair pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail. Her expression held strength, but he thought he could detect a certain sadness in her eyes. “- difference,” he concluded, though even he heard the way his voice had gentled. “Who is she?”
Amenadiel had the grace not to smile. “Chloe Jane Decker. She’s an officer of the law, as you can see.”
Lucifer traced the edge of the photograph with his finger. “And what does our father want with her?” He finally tore his gaze away from the woman’s eyes, and looked up at Amenadiel. “Not going to make a martyr of her, is he? I’ll have no part of that.”
Amenadiel shook his head. “No. Or his goal is to avoid that, at least. Officer Decker has need of protection.”
Lucifer gestured at the picture. It was not, he told himself firmly, that he wanted to look at her again. He simply needed to make his next point to Amenadiel. “But she's armed, yes? They give police officers guns, badges, that sort of thing. Why would she need me to - no,” he said then, as he realized. “He isn't asking what I think he’s asking. Not of me.”
Amenadiel briefly closed his eyes. “For some reason, yes, Father has decided that Officer Decker needs a guardian angel, and he has chosen you for that task.”
“You’re joking, right?” Lucifer got to his feet and paced restlessly across the chamber, though he kept the picture held lightly in one hand. “Amenadiel, I’m the Devil. I’m nobody’s guardian angel.”
“And yet you are Father’s choice,” Amenadiel replied, relentless. “And if you don’t take up this task, he will not give it to another.”
Lucifer stopped. He looked down at the picture once more, cradling it in the curve of his hand. Officer Chloe Jane Decker looked back up at him, as if daring him to take action. His voice low, he asked, “What will happen to her if I say no?”
Amenadiel got to his feet. Lucifer didn’t turn, lost in his contemplation of the woman, but he heard his brother stop behind him. “If you refuse, then she dies.”
Lucifer rounded on his brother, ignoring the way his heart surged at that news. “She’s going to die anyway,” he flared, clutching the picture closer. “They all do; you know that.”
“But your presence will give her a longer life,” Amenadiel replied. “And that will bring about good in the world.”
Lucifer barked a short, humorless laugh. “My actions, bring about good? What’s Father thinking?” He met his brother’s gaze, asking, “What game is he playing at, brother? He’s not trying to get me to return to the fold, is he? A quick trip to Earth to make something right, and all is forgiven?”
Amenadiel looked away. “Father, he doesn’t forgive so easily,” he said, choosing his words with obvious care. “But we’re not talking about a quick trip, Lucifer.”
Lucifer did not look at the photo. He curled his hand around it so that he couldn’t see the officer and her challenging stare. “Of course not,” Lucifer muttered, though even he wasn’t sure to which of his brother’s statements he was responding. “How long?”
Amenadiel’s voice tightened. “Years,” he replied. When Lucifer looked over, startled, he added, “A decade, maybe more.”
“All spent keeping tabs on this one human?” Lucifer replied, shocked. “What’s so special about her?”
For she was special, that much he knew. It wasn’t just that his father’s attention was focused on her; just from her picture, he felt something for this woman that he had never felt for anyone. He moved to sit on his couch, inhaling a long breath. It had been so long since he had experienced anything beyond the most superficial of emotions. Who was she, that just her picture could elicit so much from him.
It terrified him.
Amenadiel hesitated over his answer. “I can’t tell you why she’s special,” he said finally.
Lucifer leaned back and regarded his brother, brows lifting. “Father’s orders?” he asked. When Amenadiel nodded, he exhaled a short, bitter noise. “Well, that’s no surprise, there.”
“What are you going to do, Lucifer?” Amenadiel asked. “Are you going to let her die, or are you going to do as Father asks?”
Lucifer did not look at the picture. He would not. “Let her die. I’m nobody’s guardian angel.”
Was he imagining things, or did Amenadiel look relieved before his expression went impassive and he turned to leave. “That’s your choice?”
“She’s going to die anyway, Amenadiel,” Lucifer replied, carefully putting the picture onto the couch beside him. “What difference does another few years make?”
Amenadiel inclined his head and turned to leave. “I’ll tell Father.”
Lucifer watched him go, and then turned to study the picture. He traced a finger along the image of her cheek, imagining his hand cupping her face just so. She looked back at him, and he felt his throat tighten. Could he let her die, because of his inaction?
She would die anyway, he knew. They all died, sooner or later. Amenhotep--no, Akhenaten, Theodora, Will, Oscar, even Freddie had gone to his grave. But Lucifer thought back on the time he’d had with each of them, and the others. He didn’t regret it, even though they had all gone in the end. She would die, but there was the time between now and then, and… a decade, Amenadiel had said? He could do a lot in a decade. And there was something about this Chloe Decker that fascinated him. He could protect her, keep her safe, and find a way not to serve his father’s purpose in the process. This time, he could make it work.
“Wait,” he called. “I’ve changed my mind.”
He could hear Amenadiel pause, hear the quiet word that could have been a curse. “You’re sure?”
“Lucifer looked down at the picture. He turned back to Amenadiel and nodded. “Just let me get my suit.”
Well, no. Not just that. There was someone he needed to consult.
“Are you kidding me?” Maze sent her knife to meet its target, a drawing of his mother, with unerring accuracy. “You’re going back there to do what your father wants?”
“No,” Lucifer explained, again. “It’s a chance to stay up there for an extended period of time, Maze. And you know how Hell gets. So boring.”
Maze shot him a sour look as she yanked her knife out of the target. “You’re not fooling me, Lucifer. There’s something else going on.”
Lucifer smiled at her as he shook his head. “I can never pull one over on you,” he agreed. “Fine, yes, there is.” Maze folded her arms across her chest, clearly waiting, and Lucifer explained, “There’s a woman.”
Rolling her eyes, Maze asked, “Is that all? Go on, do her, and then come back here. You don’t need to stay on Earth.”
Shifting uncomfortably, Lucifer said, “It might be more than that, Maze. There’s something about her…”
Maze threw the knife once more, and it landed with a solid thunk. “You’ve said that before,” she replied, with a shrug. In obvious imitation of Lucifer, she drawled, “These humans, so fascinating.”
“I don’t sound like that,” Lucifer replied, nettled. “And this one is different.”
Maze made a short, derisive sound. “How do you know?”
“Amenadiel showed me her picture, and I… felt something.” Lucifer grimaced, still not really comfortable with this depth of emotion.
“I’ll bet you did,” Maze replied, with a pointed glance below his belt.
“Not that. Okay, not just that.” Lucifer let his hand drift to his breast pocket, where the picture waited. “She’s different.”
Maze sighed. “You’re really doing this?” she asked. When Lucifer nodded, she pulled the knife from the target. “Fine. I’ll pack.”
Sitting up, Lucifer protested, “Maze, you don’t have to. I’m sure I’ll be fine up there.”
Maze shook her head. “You said an extended trip,” she said. “You’ve gotten into enough trouble on your own on the short ones. If you’re going to be there for a while, I need to be there, too, to protect you.”
“Maze, really,” Lucifer began, but he saw that there would be no dissuading his demon. And he knew that her presence would make the trip easier. “Thank you,” he said. Maze made a short sound of acknowledgement, and Lucifer went to pack his own belongings. He’d be able to get most of what he needed on Earth, but there were a few things, such as Will’s manuscript, that he wanted to bring.
His beloved white suit, Lucifer had learned, was wildly out of fashion. That, of course, couldn’t stand; with a frustrated Amenadiel in tow, Lucifer found a tailor, chatted amiably with the bird-like man who was leaving with his bespoke clothing, and obtained a suit of his own. Maze was able to clothe herself, and clearly approved of certain fashion changes among the humans. Lucifer even got Amenadiel some clothing, for his brother wanted to make sure that Lucifer actually did reach Chloe without making contact.
She wasn’t supposed to see him, after all. Not yet. “You need time to establish your identity,” Amenadiel said. “FInd a place to live, that sort of thing. Then you can meet her.”
Lucifer wasn’t sure. He could watch over her without interfering too overtly in her life. He still wasn’t sure what his father had planned, but he knew he didn’t want to be a part of it. And, really, guardian angels were supposed to be subtle.
Lucifer supposed he could try to be subtle. It would be something new. But he did want to see his charge, and that was how the three of them ended up at Rico’s.
Lucifer adored the lights and the music, and Maze was clearly taken by the fight taking place in the ring below them.
“The one in the pink is going to win,” she informed Lucifer, and he grinned down at her.
“We’ll see,” he said. But then he reached to catch the railing before him; it was as if a jolt of electricity had gone through him.
He didn’t turn, but he knew. She was there. Chloe… no. He had to keep her at a distance, somehow. Officer Decker. He took in a deep breath, then managed a smile for Maze, whose raised-eyebrow look hinted at concern.
When Lucifer finally managed to turn, Officer Decker was leaving. He caught sight of her ponytail swinging as she moved down the steps; it was all he could do not to chase after her. Turning, he saw Amenadiel’s look of inquiry and Maze’s wry expression.
“Yeah,” she said. “You’ve got this completely under control.”
Lucifer turned back to watch Officer Decker disappear into the crowd, not bothering to reply.
Amenadiel left, off to tend Hell in Lucifer's absence; Lucifer didn't even bother to hide his gloating, but soon became too absorbed in establishing his own life to think about Amenadiel. He’d bought Rico’s, unable to let go of the place where he had first seen Officer Decker. He obtained paperwork for himself and for Maze, though she maintained that she would never need such human items.
Lucifer watched, and he waited. He kept track of Officer Decker, and rejoiced in her accomplishment when she became Detective Decker. He averted a few disasters, not because he wanted to act in his father’s interest, but because he simply couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t allow harm to come to the Detective, not when he could prevent it.
Maze watched his comings and goings with a certain antipathy, for she didn’t see the point in Lucifer helping this one human. When he began to make deals with other humans, she seemed mollified, because he was, at least, getting something out of the bargain.
When Delilah ended up dead outside Lux, Lucifer did not anticipate that this would result in the Detective taking the case. He participated in cursory introductions, then retreated back inside, where he poured himself a drink with trembling hands and sat at his piano.
Not five minutes later, there she was, notebook in hand.
Chloe Jane Decker. He’d seen her countless times, of course, but this was the first time that she had seen him.
“Lucifer Morningstar,” she said, as she wrote. “Is that a stage name or something?”
Lucifer looked up, and finally met her gaze. His hands lingered on the piano, playing a few chords; as if that could distract him. “God-given, I’m afraid.”
Now that he had finally met her, how could he ever let her go?