Lucifer was bored.
Hell spread out before him, its vast grey nothingness desolate and infinite. As ever, the loops were operating on their own, the demons were indulging in their duties, and he was left with nothing to do. No souls required his attention today. Of course, he had new guests arriving every other second, that never changed, but frustratingly they had all been condemning themselves to their fate without his interference lately. Once upon a time he might have amused himself with some torturing of his own, but that was no longer an option. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried, but every attempt was thwarted by the voice in his head urging him to stop.
Back on Earth, he’d referred to himself as more of a delegator when it came to running Hell. On the whole, that was true. His demons followed the commands they were given, but mostly he left them to their own devices. Apart from a few exceptions, he no longer had any interest in the specifics. Instead, he merely performed the duties that were required of him and nothing more. The only thing he looked forward to in this Dad forsaken place were the days he spent determining what should be done with the rarities when they appeared. The souls actually worthy of his attention. That unique breed of humanity that either felt no guilt, or had so much that they fell through the cracks of the system.
In his experience, guilt tended to be a specific thing; a memory of something gone wrong, an action thoroughly regretted. A dark spot within the soul that if left unchecked, would grow until it tainted everything it touched. It was the penitence never given, the shame you couldn’t forget, the remorse felt with your last dying breath. Whether they knew it or not, humans tormented themselves with these wrongdoings for the rest of their mortal lives, and when they died, that torment became their reality.
When the sin was too much though, tied to so many events within one lifetime, a soul might be unable to decide for itself what penance was due. In that instance, the creation of a hell loop would fail. The same applied to those who couldn’t perceive the guilt twisted throughout their souls; the ones who made it to Heaven only to be cast down again as soon as they were discovered. They fell, just as he did. He smiled bitterly at that, thinking of the human he’d assisted in skipping that particular step.
Unbeknownst to Cain, from the moment he murdered his brother there lay only two possible futures ahead of him. He would walk the Earth forever as his God had ordained, or reside here in the depths with the damned, inside a cell of his own making. For it was never the Almighty alone that had cursed him. In truth he had cursed himself, and no matter his fate, it still meant torture without end.
That however, was information Lucifer had never deigned to share. Why would he, when it didn’t serve his objective? The first murderer desired to die and the first fallen desired to grant him that wish. It was of no concern to him what came after. Striking a blow against dear old Dad was all that mattered.
Over time, he started to identify with the immortal whose life he would one day take. Considered him a friend even. It was only their deal that kept him from wavering. When that contract was broken, their comradery soon followed, along with any intention he had of enlightening Cain of his misconceptions. The Silver City had never been destined for the psychopaths, the murderers, the monsters. No, their place was here in dark with him, the biggest monster of them all.
So when they arrived, those sinners without a door of their own, he would greet them. Delivering his welcome speech was bittersweet, the very opposite of what those worthy would be receiving up above. One by one they came to him on their knees, and he would use his gifts upon them, as he now believed his father had intended all along. Drawing out the desires of the damned was even easier than it had been on Earth, all resistance non-existent now that they resided in his domain. It was those desires he would turn against them, forging a method of torture straight from their nightmares, a punishment to fit their crimes. The denizens of Hell gathered in the shadows as he worked, eagerly awaiting for their master to decide the fate of their new toys.
There was no mercy now. Never again would he feel pity for those without guilt; those with so much blood on their hands that no one offence could be considered greater than the others. He may have chosen to stay away from the role of torturer himself, but the sentences he decreed were so much worse than before. For in every sadistic, inhuman soul that stood before him, he saw the face of the man who had tried to hurt his Detective.
Decision made, he yet again began to follow the path to the chamber he had come to know so well. He liked to watch. It reminded him of what he had done when he’d chosen to kill, why he was just as worthy of damnation as his prisoner was. Seeking out the former immortal had been his first priority upon his return. His loop was of Charlotte. Her death, her life that would never be. Almost immediately, Lucifer had begun to alter it. One form of suffering wasn’t enough for Cain, it wasn’t what he deserved.
It had been an arduous process. One by one, he’d reviewed the memories Cain had retained of his long life, removing anything even remotely positive. When the work was complete, only the reasons he had longed to end it all remained. The boredom of immortality, the suffering of death, the disappointment of resurrection and the loss of everyone he loved. It was a masterpiece in punishment.
Always, without fail, the loop would end with Chloe. The woman Cain had supposedly loved, the woman he’d been so easily willing to kill. As soon as she fired her gun he would awaken. As the bullets rained down, he would remember where he was, and why exactly he was there. Slowly, the realisation of what was about to happen would hit him, along with the understanding that this was all that lay ahead for eternity. The instant that knowledge sank in, it would all begin again.
That was why Lucifer came here so often. To see the terror in Cain’s eyes as he recognised his fate. Sometimes, if he was feeling particularly vengeful, he would leave him aware, trapped inside his own mind as he relived his existence from the beginning. That particular form of torture never lasted long though, his conscience reminding him that she wouldn’t want this. Wouldn’t want him to sink to the depths of which he believed himself to be capable.
He wandered further into the depths, idly running his fingers along the coarse stone walls. Fingers that longed for ivory gliding under his skin, for the feel of sweeping back sun-kissed hair. Each time he brushed over the doors, he saw flashes of what was inside. An arsonist here, a thief over there, all in their own personal Hell. He smiled, amused by some of the self-inflicted punishments the human mind could dream up. It had to have been at least a thousand years since he’d spent time exploring the cells like this, and it was a more than welcome distraction from the monotony of having to do the work himself.
He was so absorbed in what he was seeing, that he failed to notice when he took a wrong turn. The halls of Hell were all so similar that it took him a moment to realise he was in a corridor he’d never been in before, another branch of this endless labyrinth. Envigored by the idea of encountering something new, he persisted in his explorations, skimming past the surfaces of the many doors ahead of him. Crimes committed, misdeeds unrepented... his mind was flooded with the memories of these sinners.
And then, he saw himself.
Shocked, he withdrew hastily, yanking his hand away from the rough metal, his mind racing as he backed into the opposite wall. This door couldn’t be his, could it? It wouldn’t make sense, not now. He’d been here for millennia. Surely, if this chamber was meant for him, he would have been drawn to it a long time ago. There wasn’t even a reason for him to have a cell anymore. As hard as it had been, he’d long since come to terms with his part in Uriel’s death, and he felt no guilt over Cain’s whatsoever. Yes, there were many things about that day that still affected him greatly, but regret over killing that bastard wasn’t one of them. His lack of remorse concerning his actions was one of the many reasons he belonged down here after all.
Carefully, he stepped forward and examined the door. It felt like any other. There was no pull, no irresistible urge to go inside, unlike the last time he had become ensnared in his own guilt. When he initially arrived back in Hell, despite his conviction, he’d been wary. He wouldn’t have been the first to believe that a death was justified, only to find himself sorely mistaken when confronted by the reality. And that was without even considering the other things he’d done. The hurt he’d caused those he left behind.
But no door lay in wait, and although his time in Hell was nothing if not repetitive, it was no loop. He was sure of it. This infernal place was no different than it had been before; the only thing that had changed in the time he’d been gone was him. Prior to his vacation to Earth, he’d merely been restless, tired of the mantle he was forced to endure. Now, it felt as though half of him were missing.
Every few centuries, when the pain of being without the Detective became too much, he would fly up to the surface, just for a little while. She was a call he could not resist. It became harder each time, forcing himself to watch from a distance instead of being by her side. That wasn’t his place anymore.
As time went on, she began to change. The gold in her hair became silver, the lines on her face no longer faded. He barely noticed. To him, she was never anything but beautiful. It was rare she ventured out into the field anymore, the burden of chasing down suspects left to officers much faster on their feet. He preferred it that way, that she stayed safe. A few more years behind a desk saw her hang up her badge, and close her final case. Instead of the precinct, he would find her near the ocean, in a home where she could see the waves wash upon the sand.
His visits grew more frequent, and the temptation to talk to her stronger. There was so much he didn’t know. What she thought of during all those nights on the beach, gazing at the stars as she bathed in the moonlight. Why she was still alone, why she’d never chosen someone to spend her life with. If she could ever forgive him for hurting her.
He knew that wasn’t possible though. From the moment she saw the truth, it was over. The fear in her eyes as she backed away from him... he didn’t want to ever see her look at him that way again. At first he’d been unaware, confused as to why she was acting like this. Then, as he reached out towards her, she recoiled. And that was when he knew.
“Stay away from me.”
The decision to go back to Hell had been immediate. There was no time to think about it, no time to prepare. His world was falling apart right before his eyes and he couldn’t stand to watch. The anguished cry he made as he spread his wings had little to do with the pain.
And so he left her. And returned to her. Over and over.
Until one day, she wasn’t there anymore.
They buried her in fire, and said goodbye in water. When it was over, he remained. Her soul might be gone, but some part of her was still here. On her beach. Their beach.
There were no stars that night.
He would never return to Earth again.
Hesitantly, he placed his hand upon the door once more, and his mirror image appeared before him. He looked very much as he did now, wandering through the desolate passages of Hell, restlessness etched upon his face. It was disturbing, seeing how distraught he looked when no one was watching, the pain in his eyes just as visible as in any condemned soul he’d seen.
But someone was watching. This cell wasn’t empty. Pulling his focus away from his own form, a feat in of itself, he could see a shadow there, standing motionless as they observed him. A silhouette that seemed all too familiar. A feeling of dread took hold in his chest as he drew closer to the door. He heard a voice speak his name, and his heart turned to ice.
It couldn’t be.
It was impossible.
It had to be impossible.
He blinked, and the vision was gone, leaving only the steel clad entrance in its wake. He didn’t even have to think about it. One second he was in the corridor, ash falling down all around him, and the next he was inside, the door closing behind him. It was the first time he had dared enter a cell alone in millennia. The risk had simply been too great. But it was always worth the risk.
“Chloe…” he breathed.
She stood within a cold room of stone, empty but for the large opening in front of her. A window into Hell. A window that showed only him. Her hand pressed longingly against the glass, as though she were reaching out, trying to rescue him from his suffering. When in truth, it was her that needed rescuing. She spoke once again, her words filled with despair.
“I did this to you.”
“No, no, no.” He was frozen, unbelieving, searching for an explanation. “Why are you here? You can’t be here.”
She couldn’t hear him. She remained motionless, transfixed, her body having wasted away to the point where he could see her bones. Her once beautiful hair, stolen of all its sunlight, hung lifelessly against her ashen skin. The clothes she wore were threadbare and grey, mimicking the prison that surrounded her. He recognised them as what she’d been wearing that day, the day when everything had ended.
She was young again.
It was one of the tricks Hell liked to play upon its captives. Returning souls back to their appearance when the guilt took hold helped with the illusion, kept the mind from distraction. All of the cell doors were indeed unlocked, but that didn’t mean anyone was actually able to leave. For how do you stop feeling guilty when you’re reminded constantly that you are? It was a perfectly rigged system that kept sinners exactly where they should be.
And now the Detective was caught in that system. Why she had ended up here he didn’t know, but it obviously had something to do with him. It was the only explanation for his appearance in her loop. He shuddered at the thought that he’d played any part in a role as her torturer. She seemed to be completely unaware that the real him was even in the room. Not once did she look away, unable to tear her eyes from the visage she’d created for herself. She was trapped, in more ways than one.
He was by her side before he realised he’d started moving. “Detective,” he urged, taking her by the shoulders. Still, she didn’t respond. He shook her, but that yielded no reaction either. Any attempt to prise her away from the window was akin to trying to move the very foundations of Hell itself. Desperately, he tried again. “DETECTIVE!”
Just for a second, her hand twitched, retreating ever so slightly from the glass. Out of the corner of his eye he could see that his hellish counterpart was now standing stock-still, staring intently at them both. Carefully, he removed his hands from her shoulders, gliding them across her forearms until they rested lightly over her wrists. Bringing his head down to hers, he whispered into her ear.
It was as if a spell had been broken. She gasped, collapsing into his arms as she wrenched her hand away. He dragged her as far back as he could before propping her body up against the wall. Frantically he began to examine her, sweeping the hair back from her face, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Chloe? Darling? Are you alright, can you hear me?”
She lay there listlessly, her gaze still fixed upon the same spot as before. Gently he turned her head away, thinking that if she could no longer see the other him it might help. The seconds ticked by and he started to lose hope. Then, finally, her eyes focused, flickering up to meet his. “Lucifer?” she asked, her voice barely audible. “Is that you?”
He sighed in relief. “Yes. It’s me. I’m here.”
“Lucifer! ” Her cry turned into a sob, and she broke, burying her head in his chest as she wept. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. It had been so long since he’d felt the touch of another. The sensation of warm skin next to his own was something he had thought lost to him forever. He’d tried to make himself forget what it felt like to hold her; his once cherished memories of her hands in his own eventually becoming too much to bear in his loneliness.
Gently he rocked her back and forth, assuring her again and again that she was okay, that they were okay, that everything would be alright. They weren’t lies. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to keep those promises, even if it meant moving Heaven and Earth to do so. He rubbed his hand in circles over her back as he attempted to comfort her, wishing he could do more. Listening to her weep was a form of torture all by itself.
He still couldn’t fathom how this had even happened. If Mazikeen were here he might have thought it a trick, the traitorous demon having more than proved she knew exactly how to punish him if she so wished. Hell was no longer her home though, now that she had found her place in the world. Her days were spent happily ensuring humans received the justice they deserved in life, before being granted their sentence in death. None of his other demons would even dare.
Which left only one other explanation.
This was retribution. His retribution.
As soon as he’d taken a human life it had been inevitable. Angels were forbidden from killing humans. It was the one rule held above all others. He’d hoped that perhaps his return to Hell had managed to assuage his father, but now it appeared that his punishment may have been waiting for him, here in this cell, all along. He felt an all too familiar anger flare inside him at the thought. If she’d suffered the consequences for his transgressions...
The room had fallen silent. Her tears had subsided, but she still shivered against him. So as to not let her go completely, he shrugged out of his jacket one arm at a time, covering her curled form as best he could. Risking a glance to the side of the room, he saw the other Lucifer glaring back at him. He looked away again, holding her a little tighter. Gradually, her breathing calmed, and she lay quietly beside him. After what felt like an eternity, she spoke.
“I’m so sorry.”
For a minute, he thought he’d misheard her, that her muffled words had become confused as she voiced them into his shirt. “Sorry for what, darling?” he asked, genuinely puzzled.
Lifting her head, she looked at him, her eyes full of despair. “It’s my fault you’re here.”
“What?” The idea was baffling to him. “Why on earth would you think that?”
She didn’t answer right away, pausing while she shifted her position, hands fisting in his shirt as she drew more of herself against him. He didn’t protest, savouring the warmth of her body next to his. “Because on Earth is exactly where you should be,” she said sadly. “But you’re not, because of me.”
The tiniest sliver of doubt began to crawl into his mind, as he felt the guilt roll off her in waves. What if… what if his father had nothing to do with this? What if she had sent herself down here?
Her eyes kept drifting back to the window. He stroked her face, capturing her attention once more. He had to keep her with him, keep her focused. If he didn’t, he would lose her again.
“Chloe,” he said softly, her name the closest thing to a song on his lips since he stepped foot back in this wretched place. Her breath still caught when he said it, even after all this time. “I’m the Devil. I belong in Hell.”
Vehemently she shook her head. “You don’t. You hate it here, I know you do. I’ve seen it.”
Gently he combed his fingers through her hair, attempting to detangle untold years’ worth of neglect. It was true, he hated it here. He hated it before he left, and he hated it even more now. Lying to her, however, wasn’t an option, and yet it was becoming more and more clear to him that he needed to convince her otherwise.
“What you’ve been seeing, darling, it isn’t real. Your mind created it as a way to punish yourself, do you understand? You haven’t been watching me, you’ve been watching someone you think is me.”
Her brow furrowed as she tried to understand what he was saying. It was an expression he’d seen many times before, often late at night as she went over the details in a case, piecing together the evidence. He hadn’t realised quite how much he missed watching her work, the way she would absentmindedly chew on the lid of her pen before announcing that she’d figured it out. One “Well done, Detective!” later and they’d be off to catch the bad guy, together as always.
It didn’t take her long to respond. “This is Hell, isn’t it?” she asked, a question she already knew the answer to. He nodded anyway. “And you’re here?” He nodded again, hesitantly this time. She paused, dropping her head down onto his chest again so she wouldn’t have to look at him. “Then how is it not real?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but she continued before he could. “I know you dream of me.” Her voice grew quieter as the iron grip she had on his shirt loosened slightly. “You dream of me every single night, and all I can do is watch as you call my name out in your sleep.”
Without meaning to, he stilled. She was right. As soon as he closed his eyes she was there. At first he had hated it, the constant reminder of what he had lost, but now, seeing her in his dreams often felt like the only happiness he had left.
“Am I wrong?” she asked, perfectly aware that she wasn’t.
There was no answer he could give her. This punishment, it was particularly cruel. For some unknown reason, she blamed herself for him being in Hell, and so that’s exactly what Hell showed her. No illusions, no nightmarish visions pulled from her own mind, just the raw truth of his existence here, like some kind of dismal reality show on repeat. It was no wonder she knew how joyless his life was now.
And so he did what he did best; he evaded.
“It’s just your loop, darling,” he said, tucking an errant lock of hair back behind her ear.
Her eyes narrowed as she twisted around to look up at him again. Apparently their time apart hadn’t made it any more difficult for her to spot when he was actively trying to avoid answering a question. Still, her curiosity got the better of her. “It’s my what?” she questioned.
It was no surprise to him that she was unaware she was looping. The majority of the population here were. It was necessary to prevent the soul being destroyed over time, for only the strongest could survive the knowledge of what was happening to them. Protecting the guilty in that way might have seemed counter productive, but the purpose of these chambers was not to gift sweet oblivion. No, the only thing Hell had in store for those that dragged themselves here was a way to ensure they received the retribution they thought they were worthy of for eternity, with no chance of reprieve.
“It’s how this place works,” he tried to explain. “It takes your guilt and-”
“Tortures you with it,” she said, finishing his sentence for him as comprehension dawned.
He nodded. “You only feel like you’re watching me dream every night because you’re seeing the same images of that night, over and over.”
She frowned. “No… that doesn’t sound right.”
“It doesn’t?” he replied, concerned. Something was starting to nag at the corners of his mind, a realisation that hadn’t quite come to fruition.
Shaking her head, she answered his question. “No. I mean, what I saw was similar, sure, but it was never exactly the same. There’s always something different.”
Everything inside him just… stopped. She had no loop. Even the idea of it was horrifying. She’d been here, from the very moment she took her last breath, forced to live every second of every day alongside him. He knew the day she died. Knew it like a dagger still embedded in his memory. Which meant he knew exactly how long she’d been like this.
And the knowledge shattered him.
Had she looked away even once? Had she even blinked the entire time she’d been down here? He only had to look at her to know the answer.
This was his doing. All of it. He’d left her, and she’d been the one to suffer. The one person he had never, ever, wanted to see hurt had ended up tortured and alone, because of him. Because he’d been too much of a coward to face what lay ahead.
Guilt began to consume him. All he could think about was what he’d done to her, how this was all his fault. The Detective, the chamber, they all started to fade away. His mind was spiralling, his body paralysed. He barely felt it when she left him, and he made no move to stop her, watching helplessly as she started to drag herself to the window, back to the Hellish version of himself that lay in wait there. The version that was now looking right at him, looking and laughing.
The sight made something in his consciousness shift. The room… it was different. There was a heaviness to the atmosphere, a sense of hopelessness that hung in the air. Slowly, he forced himself to turn his head back towards where he'd entered, already knowing what he would find there. Or rather, what he wouldn’t.
The door was gone.
A strange sense of calm took over him. He should be panicking, he knew that. They were both about to become imprisoned here forever after all. But as his focus gradually shifted to the Detective once more, all notions of escape drifted from his mind. Only one thought remained.
He could stay here.
They could stay together.
Something about that though, it didn’t seem right. They would be together, yes. But, tortured together? Is that what he wanted? Each of them so caught up in their own sins they didn’t even know the other was there?
But… he’d already left her once. She wouldn’t want him to leave her again. He didn’t want to leave her again. So that meant he should stay this time, didn’t it?
He didn’t know. It was difficult to think. One side of his consciousness a never-ending whirlwind of guilt and regret, while the other whispered thoughts of how being by her side was the only thing that was important. Listening was easier, the promise of spending the rest of time with her tempting. He’d never been very good at resisting temptation.
The Detective had nearly reached the window now. Other him held out his hand, welcoming her back. She struggled to rise, her hand reaching out in return. Lucifer watched as she stumbled, and his concern was enough to distract him, just for a second. It was then that he noticed the figure on the other side of the glass silently talking, his lips mouthing the same words again and again.
Just give in.
An inferno surged inside him, burning away any hold Hell had. There would be time for guilt; but now was not it. There was only one thing that mattered, the same thing that had always mattered, more than anything else in existence.
He had to save her.
Pure unadulterated rage flowed through his veins and he let it boil through, his skin falling away as his true form reasserted itself. He was thankful that the Detective would not witness him this way, not again. Her focus was solely on the window, her fingertips almost at the glass now. The need to protect her overwhelmed him. He couldn’t lose to this place again, he wouldn’t.
The room began to shake as he slammed his fists into the ground, forcing his will into the rock below. The stone cracked beneath him as he let the power build, tapping into something inside himself he hadn’t accessed in eons. The last time Hell had captured him, he’d been weak. A wingless angel, confused by the emotions of humanity. He was weak no longer. He was king of this domain, its ruler.
AND IT WOULD BEND TO HIM.
He screamed as the energy ripped out of him, smashing into the walls of the chamber that surrounded them. His paralysis broken, he leapt forward, securing the Detective by her waist and rolling her to the floor underneath him, shielding them with his wings as both rock and glass shattered, exploding out above them.
Debris rained down, biting into his wings, slicing through his suit. He winced, pain having lost its novelty a long time ago. Vulnerability was certainly one thing he hadn’t missed about being in the Detective’s presence. As the last pieces of glass hit the floor, he carefully shook his wings, dislodging as much as he could before folding them away. The sight of feathers tinged with red made him grimace. It was hard enough keeping the bloody things clean at the best of times, never mind having to tackle bloodstains.
Still, he’d dealt with worse.
With relief, he lifted his head to see a newly formed door carved into the rock, the edges of the frame still glowing from the rapidly dissipating heat. A slight groan accompanied movement from below. Restoring his human appearance, he dropped into a crouch, leaning forward to push the hair back from the Detective’s face.
“Chloe? Are you okay?”
She looked up, but not at him. Instead, she immediately focused on where the window had been. “No…” she gasped, her eyes widening as started to scramble towards the empty space, her frenzy making her ignore the glass and rubble in her path as it cut into her skin. Quickly, he wrapped an arm around her from behind, lifting her easily from the ground, holding her against his chest as he prevented her from injuring herself further.
Twisting within his grasp, she fought him, her voice hysterical as she struggled to get back to her window, back to where she thought she belonged. His grip was like iron though, and he refused to let her leave him, as he had left her. Finally, she tired, the adrenaline draining out of her frail body, her resistance lessening. “Let me go,” she said weakly. “I have to be with him. I don’t belong here.”
He kissed the back of her neck softly and she shivered within his embrace. “Hush now,” he whispered into her ear. “I’m here. You’re already with me.” He leaned to the side, grabbing his long discarded jacket and spreading it out in front of him. Carefully, he turned her around to face him, lowering her gently onto it. He waited until she was stable before letting her go, but even then his hands remained in hers, unable to make himself retreat from her completely.
Her eyes were empty when she looked at him, and his heart ached at the sight. “Why are you here?” she asked, her tone defeated, hopeless. “You should hate me. You never wanted to come back here, you said it so many times… yet here you are. Because of me.”
“No. You’re wrong, Chloe. This isn’t your fault.” He tried to put as much conviction into his words as possible, willing her to believe him. He had to work quickly. Already he could see glass knitting itself back together around them, her loop reconstructing itself as it fed on the guilt that had yet to leave her. “I don’t lie, remember? I have never lied to you, and I will never lie to you, I promised you that. Which means you must be wrong, doesn’t it?”
His argument was logical, and he could see some tiny part of her beginning to consider it. Emboldened, he pushed forward. “I chose this, remember? Nobody forced me to go. I came back here of my own free will. There was nothing you could have done.”
“That’s not true,” she said wearily. He stiffened. Did she consider him a liar now? Had the proof of his identity destroyed her faith in him that much? Failing to notice his reaction, she carried on. “I could have done something. If I hadn’t reacted the way that I did…”
“That’s what you think this is about?” He moved closer, tugging her up towards him, until their faces were almost level. “You were scared, Chloe. As you should be.” Slowly, as not to startle her, he let his eyes turn to embers. “That’s what this,” he said, as he allowed the fire to flare for just a moment, “is designed to do. I’m a monster, and humanity fears monsters.”
He loosened his grip, giving her space if she wanted it. When she didn’t back away, he told her the truth of why he’d left. “You saw me for exactly who I am. A killer. A murderer.”
Letting go of her hands, he looked away. “As it turns out, the Devil is everything they ever said I was.”
The next thing he felt was her hands on his face, turning him back to her. “No. You’re not.”
Those blue eyes bored into his, determined as ever. “I’ve seen who you are. Here in Hell, and on Earth. You are not the monster you claim to be.” She dropped her hands to cover his, squeezing lightly. “I’m sorry I made you feel that way.”
Exasperated, he broke free from her again, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. “You didn’t make me do anything! I have been a monster for most of my existence. You don’t know what I’ve done, the atrocities I am responsible for. I deserve to be here just as much as anybody else. There’s no hope for me, there never has been.”
“I don’t believe that,” she said, shaking her head. “And you don’t believe that either. If you did, you never would have left Hell in the first place, never have chosen Earth as your home. A home I was the one to drive you from, back to a place that you despise.”
He sighed, momentarily closing his eyes. He’d forgotten just how difficult it was to convince a soul that they didn’t belong here. It wasn’t something he had to do often, humans souls proving themselves to be surprisingly adept at deciding where they should go after death. But occasionally, he would come across those who had spent most of their lives helping others, yet felt guilty that they hadn’t done more. Or someone who blamed themselves for the death of a loved one, when in reality there was nothing they could have done.
These humans were the ones he spent time with in secret, easing them through their guilt, until they were ready to enter the realm of his Father. No soul had ever left Hell of their own volition, but he wasn’t opposed to helping those that should. He told himself that it was akin to giving dear old Dad the finger, that he could be responsible for someone gaining entry to the Silver City that otherwise wouldn’t have been there. But the truth of it was, in Hell, this had been the only task he could undertake that reminded himself of who he once was.
“Chloe,” he said. “If I only left the Earth because of you, why would I still be here? You’re-” he hesitated, unable to say it. He still found it hard to admit to himself that she had passed, even with the evidence right here in front of him. “Gone now.”
It was the first time she didn’t have an answer for him, the first time he suspected she truly doubted her conviction. “I make my own choices,” he continued, “I have from the moment I decided I’d had enough of bending to the will of my Father. Do you honestly think I would allow anyone to control me? God Himself couldn’t make me do what He wanted, what makes you think you could?”
There was a light in her eyes now that hadn’t been there before. “...I don’t know,” she said with a wry smile. “You certainly came to enough stakeouts that you didn’t want to.”
He grinned back at her, recalling the many memories he had of spending hours cramped in a car by her side, evenings that should have rightly been mind numbingly boring, made delightful simply because she was with him. “I think you’ll find that was more to do with the company, darling.”
She blushed, and he found himself wanting to make her do it again. The flush across her cheeks was the only colour he could see, a sharp contrast to their dismal surroundings, and it immediately had an effect on her appearance. She was beginning to look stronger, healthier, more like he remembered her being on Earth. A small tendril of hope began to blossom within his chest.
Then her face became serious. “Why did you leave me?” she asked, a question he’d been dreading and waiting for her to want to know the answer to. That she was even asking was a good sign. He steeled himself, knowing he would have to be completely honest if he was going to do what needed to be done.
“I was afraid,” he said, repeated those words he’d once told her under a starlit sky, before everything he’d longed for had fallen apart. “You saw… me. The real me. The monster inside that I told myself wasn’t there anymore. I’ve never denied what I am, but I’ve never really believed it either, not truly. Not in the version of myself that humanity construed anyway.”
He paused, gathering the fortitude to continue. “But I took a life. And more than that, I enjoyed it.” Too ashamed to look at her any longer, he dropped his gaze. She reached towards him and he shook his head, pulling his hands away. “I don’t regret it. I’m a punisher, Detective. I always have been. I thought for a moment… I could be better. That being with you, made me better. But I can’t change who I am.”
Her face had fallen at his failure to use her name. “Lucifer…” She sounded like he had up until now, as though it were her turn to do the convincing. “You were protecting me. Just like you always do.”
“No, Detective. I’d already protected you. I chose to go back, I chose… to do what I did. To murder. To sin.”
This time she grabbed his hands and he let her. That she would willingly touch him, knowing what he was, was a gift he couldn’t refuse even if he wanted to.
“Listen to me,” she said sternly. “I have thought about this for years . Do you think Marcus would have just left me alone after that day? He thought he loved me and I shot him, Lucifer. Sure, maybe he could have been arrested. Maybe he would have ended up in jail for a very long time. But would any of us have ever really been safe? From him, and from the network he created?”
“I wasn’t thinking about any of that,” he admitted quietly, still refusing to look at her. Killing Cain had been revenge, pure and simple, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell her that.
She tightened the grip she had on his hands. “I know. And… I can’t condone what you what you did. But, I can understand it. All of it. Including why you never showed me.” She motioned at his face, then gave him a small smile as she shrugged a little. “Eventually, anyway.”
He couldn’t speak, didn’t even know what he would say if he could.
“I got over it pretty quick, you know. Faster than I thought I would.” She said it so casually, as if finding out he was exactly who he had always said he was had been, in the end, something that didn’t really matter.
“How long?” he said, surprised to find himself choking the words out.
She rubbed his hand reassuringly before replying. “A few months maybe?”
It felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach. Months. Not years, not decades. Months. Merely a blink when it came to his lifespan. A matter of a few stupid human weeks, and he could have had her back.
She would have come back to him.
He tried not to let himself think on it further, forcing away the self-loathing he could feel rising and slamming his usual mask back on instead, hiding the pain as he always had. “You’re slipping behind the curve, darling, it only took the good doctor a couple of weeks at most.”
“Yeah, well, she wasn’t in lo-”
His head shot up and the Detective halted as his eyes snapped to hers. He wondered if the shocked expression on her face mirrored his own. Nervously, she swallowed before continuing, adjusting her words carefully. “She didn’t feel the same way about you that I do, did she.”
“That she did not,” he replied automatically, his mind still caught up in what he thought she was about to say. What he hoped she’d been about to say.
Even if he wouldn’t have quite been able to believe it.
“She thought you’d come back,” she blurted out, in an obvious attempt to brush over her near confession. Part of him wanted to call her on it, but he resisted the urge. This was her time to speak, his time to listen. If he let her, perhaps it would help her somehow. So instead of asking, he merely looked at her enquingly.
“Linda, I mean,” she explained. “He never could stay away for long, that’s what she told me. And so I waited.”
His heart sank as she continued talking. He’d never intended...
“And while I waited, I read. There was so much about you, so many lies. But there was one thing I found, only one thing that made sense. It said you lit the stars.”
She placed a hand upon his chest, over his heart which beat rapidly under her fingertips. “Lux means light, doesn’t it? You named your club after the stars, because it belonged to you, just like they do.”
He nodded, not trusting his own voice in that moment.
“I used to try talking to them sometimes. I’d go out, on the beach late at night, and think of you.” She smiled, looking slightly embarrassed. “I thought you might hear me.”
Hers was a call he could not resist.
Praying. She’d been praying to him, and he hadn’t bloody realised. It had been so long since anyone had prayed to him in that way.
“Chloe,” he said remorsefully. “I’m so sorry. I am so, so sorry. I never should have left you.”
“It’s really not my fault that you did?” she asked, her voice still unsteady, still unsure.
He gathered her into his arms, resting her head on his shoulder. “It’s not your fault. It was never your fault.”
“It’s not my fault.”
This time, it was an affirmation, followed by a sigh of relief as she nodded against him.
“It's not my fault.”
The shift in the air was palpable, and he knew what had taken place before he felt her stiffen, before he heard her gasp.
She pulled away, her eyes wide. “Lucifer... there’s a door.”
Burying his feelings down deep, he smiled at her. “There’s always been a door.”
“Then why didn’t I see it before now?” she asked curiously. Her gaze remained fixed upon the way out, lest it disappear should she do so much as blink.
“Well, you were looking at me, darling, I can hardly blame you,” he said, a smirk on his face as he waggled his eyebrows.
Her laughter as she rolled her eyes was like music to his ears, a joyous melody the likes of which could never be found down here. Oh Father, how he had missed this. How he had missed her. How he would miss her.
She shook her head at him, still smiling with amusement. “Don’t you ever change?” she said, regarding him fondly.
Unbidden, he lifted a hand to brush softly against her cheek. “I changed when I met you,” he said solemnly, the truth weighing heavily behind his words. For a moment, there was silence.
Then he pressed his lips to hers, and everything else fell away.
It was unlike any kiss they had shared before. This was the kiss of two people who had yearned to be together for far longer than any heart was meant to endure. Two souls, each incomplete without the other. It was relief, it was joy, it was finally finding home again.
They parted, smiling at each other, her eyes glistening with unshed tears that he suspected were reflected in his own. He didn’t think he’d ever seen her look more beautiful. Even in this dreadful place, even after all she’d been through, she shone.
He stood, offering her a hand as he helped her from the ground.
“We can leave?” she asked quietly, the hope evident on her face.
He didn’t know how to tell her, couldn’t find the words. It felt like the cruelest gift, to have her back in his life only to have her taken from him again so quickly. Perhaps this was his retribution after all; it would certainly be fitting.
“You can,” he replied, trying his best to hide the tremor in his voice.
Of course, his choice of phrasing didn’t escape her; he should have known better than to think it would. “You’re coming with me.”
It wasn’t a question, but he answered it anyway. “I cannot. Where you’re going, Detective, I cannot follow.”
His words echoed those he’d spoken about Charlotte, and he saw the exact moment Chloe remembered what had preceded them.
I’ll never see her again.
Her face fell. “No. No, that can’t be it. You have to come, you just… you just have to, okay?”
She threw herself against him, crushing her body to his as though if she just held on long enough she could keep him with her. He placed his head atop hers as he stroked her hair, doing all that he could to comfort her.
“You’ll see your father again. Your mother. Beatrice too, one day.”
“But not you,” she choked out, in amongst the tears he could feel starting to dampen his shirt.
He pulled back just far enough as he could brush them away. “No. Not me. I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”
She looked at him, despair in her eyes. Then something in her expression changed. After a moment, she nodded, having decided the answer to a question she had only asked herself.
“I’ll stay then.”
Her words were sincere, her face resolute. It was a look he remembered well. And the temptation was there, it really was. To keep her with him, always, his sunshine in the darkness. But he knew this place. It would drain her of her light, just as it had done to him. And eventually, she would hate him for it.
As he would hate himself for it too.
Shaking his head, he cradled her face in his hands. “I won’t allow that. You don’t deserve to be here, Chloe. You belong in the light.”
Reaching up, she mirrored him, her fingers capturing the tears he hadn’t known were falling. “You don’t deserve to be here either.”
He huffed a laugh at that, despite himself. “Most would disagree with you, darling.” She opened her mouth to argue with him but he shook his head again as he moved his hands to her shoulders, resting them there lightly. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to stop touching her. And yet, he had to. “You will be happy there, you know. Everyone is happy there.”
“You weren’t,” she whispered. “But… you were, before, on Earth.”
“Yes,” he kissed her once more, unable to help himself. “With you.”
She smiled, her fingers playing with the soft hair at the back of his neck.”Even before that though. Happier than you were here, at least.”
He wasn’t sure what she was getting at, and frankly, he’d rather still be kissing her. That damned door remained at the edge of his field of vision, taunting him with the knowledge that soon this would all be over, that soon she would be lost to him forever all over again. He wanted to make the most of the time he still had. “I suppose so, is that important?”
Her lips quirked and she ran her fingers along his jawline, encouraging his eyes to leave her mouth for a minute. “Lucifer,” she said, in the way she always did when she wanted him to pay attention and be serious for a change. “I want you to promise me something.”
It would be so easy to say anything . In that instant, he wanted to. He would give her the world if he could. But a promise was a deal, and there were things she could ask of him that were beyond his reach. Namely, that they would be together again.
“Promise me you’ll go back to Earth.”
That, he hadn’t been expecting. “Why?” he asked. “Why would I? You’re not-”
“There. I know. But other people are , Lucifer. People like Dan, like Ella. People who could be there for you. People you could help, just like you did with me. Who knows, maybe one day you might even find someone, someone you could-”
“No.” His reply was immediate, determined, not to be questioned. She was wrong. For him, it wasn’t even a consideration. He grabbed her hands and took a step backwards, wanting her to be able to fully see his face, to see how serious he was. “No. Never .”
“Okay,” she said, squeezing his hands a bit tighter. She smiled, and he could tell that secretly, she was a little bit pleased. “But you shouldn’t stay here. You should be up above, where you can see the sun. Where you can see the stars.” Pulling him closer, she kissed him softly, then repeated his own words back to him. “You belong in the light.”
“I belong with you,” he replied desolately. “Earth isn’t home, not anymore.”
“And Hell is?” she countered, moving away again. “You tell me I have to leave, that you want me to be happy. But how I can be, knowing you’re still here? It’s hard enough trying to be happy without you, Lucifer. I should know, I tried for the rest of my life.”
Regret washed over him. He’d been a fool to run away. He should have trusted her, trusted that eventually she would come to terms with who he was. Instead, he’d robbed them of the time they could have had together. Time that had now run out.
He saw her glance at the door, and he knew.
“It would make you happy, if I promised?” he asked tentatively.
She avoided his gaze, looking down at the floor. “It would make it easier to try.”
He took a deep breath, then nodded. “Very well.” As she watched, he adjusted the position of his hands, lacing their fingers together as he made his vow. “I promise you, Chloe, that I shall return to the Earth.”
She raised her head, smiling, relieved. There was consolation in that, knowing that he would play a small part in her future happiness, when he’d been responsible for so much misery.
Her eyes flickered to the door again. “It’s calling you, isn’t it?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.
She nodded. “It has been ever since I first saw it. It’s… getting stronger now.”
His heart was breaking. Slow, painful agony that tore through his veins, leaving every part of him aching and empty. “Time to go then,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady, and failing.
A question with two meanings, he knew. This was no place for her though, it never had been. It never would be either. Yet it didn’t stop him wanting to take her in his arms and never let her go. And she’d let him, he knew that too. But he couldn’t.
He refused to condemn her like that.
“You have to.”
The words almost broke him.
“Okay.” Her eyes were filling with tears again as she struggled to catch her breath. He could tell she was trying not to cry, trying not to make this harder for him than it already was. “Okay.” His instinct was to reassure her, to tell her that everything would all be alright, that he would be fine without her. But it would be a lie. A lie that he couldn’t even convince himself of.
“I’m sorry,” he said. The words were meaningless at this point, an apology he could make a thousand times that wouldn’t change a thing, wouldn’t erase the mistakes he’d made. “I never should have left you.” He wanted her to know, needed her to know, that it was the biggest regret of his long life. Bigger than the rebellion, harder than his fall.
She pulled him down to her fiercely, his head on her shoulder, her lips by his ear. “I know. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry too. I’m so sorry I have to leave you.” She broke then, sobbing in his arms. “I don’t want to go.”
He did the only thing he could, drawing back just far enough as he could meet her lips with his own, kissing her desperately, walking her back across the room until they hit the wall to the side of the door. He slowed then, savouring her taste, committing every single moment of this to memory. He never wanted to forget the feel of her, the way her breath hitched as he kissed his way down her neck, how she said his name as she dragged his mouth back to hers.
One last kiss. One last touch. One last embrace.
Finally he tore himself away, leaving them both breathless. Closing his eyes, he focused on how it felt to have her near, knowing it was something he would never feel again. At the same time, his hand reached out towards the door. She captured his lips with her own again, and he took everything she was willing to give, a drowning man stealing one last gasp of oxygen.
A drowning man who had found a life raft for his partner.
His fingers curled around the door handle. He steeled himself, knowing that after this, there was no going back. Their kiss ended, his mouth hovering millimetres away from hers as they breathed each other in.
He opened the door.
Light flooded the chamber, bright, divine, and blinding. He staggered back away from it. Chloe however, remained, captivated by whatever lay within.
She turned to him. “Lucifer,” she said, awed. “it’s…”
He nodded shakily. “I know, darling. I know.”
His vision swam, tears blinding him but he blinked them away, determined that nothing would distract him from her for a second. Framed against the light, she no longer seemed frail, no longer damaged by her time here. Instead, she was his Detective again, beautiful and strong. His miracle.
Her fingers were curled around the edge of the door now, and for a second, he stopped breathing, dreading the moment she walked through, but unable to bring himself to look away. As always though, she surprised him, turning back towards him and holding out her hand.
“I can’t come with you,” he reminded her softly.
She nodded, but left her hand outstretched anyway. Cautiously, he took it, and she wrapped her fingers around his, before using her other hand to bring his forehead down to hers.
“This isn’t goodbye,” she whispered. “I’ll see you again.”
Even now, she believed in him, believed he would find a way. He didn’t want those beliefs to crush her. “Chloe…”
She silenced him with a kiss, and this time, he knew it was the last.
When he pulled away, she let go of his hand, smiling. He couldn’t help but return it, despite feeling like he was dying inside.
Slowly, she moved back from him, before pushing the door open wider. He braced himself for the pain of watching her leave.
He looked at her one final time, knowing that from now on, the only place he would see her would be in his dreams.
“...I love you.”
She walked through the door.
Time stopped. He heard the words, saw her fingertips leave the frame. He couldn’t move.
The door started to close behind her.
She loved him.
She loved him.
She loved him and he wasn’t bloody moving.
“Chloe, wait! I-”
He sprang forward, yanking the door open.
But only the darkness of an empty corridor awaited him.
She was gone.
He didn’t know how long he stayed there, sat on the floor outside her cell, slumped against the rough stone that bit into his back. He paid it no mind. What did it matter?
Nothing mattered anymore, not now he’d lost her.
He’d already lived through this pain once, he didn’t know if he could do it again.
Her voice still hadn’t left him then. Perhaps it never would. It was almost comforting, knowing he could still keep some small part of her with him, even if it was nothing more than his own brain reminding him of what she would think, what she would say.
Looking up, he imagined what she was doing right now. Was she rolling her eyes at the sanctimonious welcome? Crying with joy when reunited with her father?
Before he knew it, he’d put his hands together. Momentarily, he paused, then closed his eyes.
“Look after her, Dad.”
The prayer, such as it was, left his lips as easily as breathing. He thought about the last time he’d asked anything of his Father. This wasn’t a favour though, nor a command. It was a request, the likes of which he had not made for eons.
But he would do anything, if it meant her happiness.
He didn’t expect a reply, he’d learned to never expect a reply. Sometimes though, even on the darkest of days, life can still surprise you. As can those you thought would never change.
“I will, son. You have my word.”
The words reverberated through him and left shock in their wake. He waited for the hatred, for that fury to rise up from the pit inside him, a fire that he had thought would never burn out. But there was nothing. Instead, strangely, he felt only gratitude.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. He should be angry, furious, ready to bring the full wrath of Hell down upon the Heavens. His Father had placed Chloe in his path, only to rip her out of it. If there was ever a reason to start a war, this would be it. Storm the Silver City, demand he return her to life, return her to him. It would be pointless, there would be bloodshed…
And she wouldn’t want any of it.
Her time on Earth was over, and she was where she was meant to be.
It had been inevitable from the beginning. Humans were fragile, their lives capricious at best. Especially in a profession such as the LAPD. All things he had known going in. He’d been fascinated by Chloe, as his Father had no doubt intended, but he was the one who had chosen not to walk away. Even after discovering she made him vulnerable, even after learning her origins, he still chose to stay, knowing how it would end.
It was his choice, all of it, and it was a decision he didn’t regret. The time he’d spent with her, no matter how brief, had made his life infinitely better, and he was thankful for it. Thankful for her, and thankful that now she was where she belonged. No darkness could touch her there. She was safe, and she was happy. And that, he realised, was all he had ever truly desired.
He cast one last glance up to the Heavens, smiling as he thought of her.
And then, he set his sights a little lower.
Perhaps it was time for a vacation.
After all, he had a promise to keep.
As the Devil spread his wings, somewhere in the far reaches of Hell a door appeared.
A door unlike any other.
It stood like a beacon in the deep, white light spilling from around its frame that chased away the darkness, keeping the creatures that lurked in the shadows at bay.
The one for whom this door was meant was not yet ready.
There were miles left to go, and wounds still to be healed.
Apologies waiting to be heard, and forgiveness yet to be granted.
Only then, when all was said and done, would it be time.
He would walk through...
And she would be waiting.