Just for a moment, their eyes meet across the sterile gray parking garage. Smoky blue and chocolate brown orbs filled with a longing neither can express. Pride and hurt, insecurity and fear keep getting in the way.
One of them is being torn apart by the stubborn habit of defiance versus his one true desire, to be the beloved chosen one, and the soul-tearing struggle to put her happiness and wellbeing above all else, even if that means watching her walk away from him and give her heart to another man.
The other one is still smarting from a rejection she still doesn’t understand, salving the hurt with reasons why it would never have worked, burying the pain beneath practicality and commonsense, being the sane, sensible adult who believes in going forward, not back, and choosing wisely and well.
The man offering to take her home is the embodiment of everything Chloe thinks she should want. Marcus Pierce is a decent, good guy, hardworking, steady, and reliable; a responsible adult just like her. And he’s been so patient with her. It makes her feel like she needs to give him something in return, to atone for her skittishness and show that she’s serious. That’s why she took the necklace off, even though it leaves her grappling with her conscience, feeling like she’s done something terribly wrong. She tries to squash those feelings down and focus on the positive. They have so much in common. They have a realistic chance of making this work. She would be a fool to walk away. A guy like this might never come along again. She’s a single mom closer to forty than thirty, and the dating pool is full of sharks, sleazeballs, and harsh realities.
Forward, not backward, Chloe reminds herself. It’s better this way. She’s given Lucifer every chance… They’re just too different…she’s a homebody, he’s a playboy; she’s an adult, he’s Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. Lucifer has the attention span of a five-year-old on crack, even if they tried…Where would she be when Lucifer gets bored? Alone again—that’s where! Their partnership could never survive it; she couldn’t work with him again the way she does with Dan. And even if Pierce were still around, single, and willing to pick up the pieces, her pride would never allow that. She can already hear Ella, Pierce’s perpetual cheerleader, pushing her back in his direction, saying that it’s time to settle down and get serious after her fling with Lucifer. The very idea makes Chloe’s soul sick. It would never work out…best not to even try… But why is it that every time she tells herself that she feels like crying? Lying, crying, and dying inside while her lips keep smiling and saying that she’s happy.
Lucifer looks away first, pretending a preoccupation with the Corvette’s keys, but he’s still watching her, even though it’s torture seeing her with someone else. He watches her accept the helmet and mount the bike. The headlights flare and the motor purrs then roars to life. And then she’s gone, riding away into the night, holding tight to Pierce’s leather-jacketed waist. She never even looks his way.
What Lucifer doesn’t know is that’s because it hurts too much, beneath the dark helmet there are tears pricking at Chloe’s eyes, she’s fighting her own battle inside, reminding herself that she’s not a child, life is not a romance novel, and often what you want and what you can have are two drastically different things, and what you want isn’t always good for you; kids can’t have only chocolate cake for supper and skip the green beans. Forward not backwards. It’s better this way…
There’s a pain in Lucifer’s chest, like right at the moment his heart turns to glass someone takes a sledgehammer to it. He feels it shatter, every tiny little fragment a sharp, stabbing dagger of glass. Nothing has ever hurt so much.
“She looked so happy,” he keeps telling himself. “It’s all for the best.” But it doesn’t help. It doesn’t help at all. He feels a crashing, crushing loneliness. Even though the world—his world—is full of people, he’s all alone. There’s a party every night at Lux, lots of lovely drugs and alcohol, and beautiful women and men eager to warm his bed and try to help him forget what he can never forget. But he doesn’t want that. Funny, everything that used to make his life feel so full now makes it feel so unbearably empty.
Amenadiel has been around a lot lately, he seems to sense that Lucifer is lonely, they’re closer than they’ve been in eons; sometimes it actually feels like they’re friends as well as brothers, that the old enmity is in its dying throes. Last night they even tried mushroom and marshmallow pizza with extra black olives. The Greatest Story Ever Told was on the classic movie channel and they enjoyed shredding it with their scathing commentary. But that’s small consolation compared with the loss of Chloe.
He can’t even find sanctuary in sleep; nightmares stalk his dreams like Jack the Ripper, relentlessly ripping him from his restless rest with a scream on his lips and a pain in his heart. Every night he loses her in his dreams, and every day he watches her slipping further and further away from him. He’s lied to himself, and to her, and said he can accept the new man in her life, that there’s room for all sorts of relationships, but he’s lying, the one thing he promised her he would never do.
He can’t stay in the parking garage all night, so he might as well go home, even if home no longer feels like home. “Home” just rode away on the back of Marcus Pierce’s motorcycle.
As the sleek black Corvette pulls out of the garage, he sees the bike parked up ahead. Chloe and Pierce stand facing each other. She’s shaking her head and pressing the helmet she was wearing only moments ago back into his obviously reluctant ham hands. He’s saying something, trying to persuade her, but she keeps shaking her head in a firm but apologetic “No.” The helmet starts to fall, since he still hasn’t accepted it, and he stoops and catches it quickly. Chloe is already turning and walking away.
The Corvette’s lights catch her. She stops, standing illuminated in their bright beams.
Lucifer’s and Chloe’s eyes meet.
Hope springs eternal. Lucifer’s heart comes surging and pulsing back to life. It’s in his throat and he can hardly speak. But he has to; so many things that need to be said haven’t been said as both Dr. Linda and Amenadiel keep telling him, so he swallows it down.
“Need a ride, Detective?” he asks, hoping she doesn’t hear the nervous tremor. To his own ears he sounds like a shy boy in some cringe-worthy teen movie asking for a prom date.
“Yeah, thanks,” she opens the door and gets in beside him.
“Is everything alright?” he asks with a delicate glance in Pierce’s direction.
“Yeah, fine, I just…my mind changed me…I mean I changed my mind!” She’s twisting in the seat, fumbling in her jacket’s hip pocket, searching for something.
“Home?” Lucifer asks.
“Home,” Chloe nods as she fastens the clasp, putting the necklace back where it belongs.
They both know the word means something more than a brick-and-mortar dwelling place.
As they drive away, passing Pierce still standing with his bike on the shoulder of the road, Chloe never looks back.
Sometimes you have to go back to get something, or someone, only then can you truly go forward.