Chapter 1: Bros Before You-Knows
As noted in the description, the prequel to this fic can be found here. It's probably not necessary to read it first--I wouldn't describe it as "plot heavy"--but it may be useful to get a sense of how I write the characters before diving into this considerably more ambitious project. (Er, ambitious by my standards. Do read the tags.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“All right, spill,” Ella said, slamming a tagged and evidence-bagged antique ventriloquist dummy's head down on Dan’s desk with a clonk. Most of the thing was painted garish pink and the eyes rolled accusingly at Dan as the internal mechanism jolted from the impact.
Dan recoiled, accidentally deleting a paragraph of text from his report. “Uh, that’s not mine,” he said, staring at the dummy, which was presumably from that bizarre toy collector case Lucifer and Chloe were working on.
“What? Oh, I know. It’s documented, it’s checked in, it’s heavy, and it’s not breakable so I brought it over here to slam down for emphasis. Also, it’s control-Z to undo delete,” Ella added, helpfully.
Dan tapped his keyboard, eyeing the wooden head warily. “Thanks. Okay, so what was it you wanted me to spill?”
Ella rolled her eyes. “Who you’re sleeping with, duh!” At Dan’s startled expression, she went on, ticking off points on her fingers. “You used to be here between five and eight minutes early, every day, but for the last couple of weeks you keep rolling in here exactly on time. I know you’re not surfing again because you don’t smell like salt, and every time you have a day off you come back with that sore-but-happy look on your face. So come on, Espinoza, who is she, it’s driving me nuts.”
Dan tried, he really did, but he couldn’t suppress his smile. He’d been certain Ella had worked it out already, but even the LAPD’s best forensic investigator can’t find what she’s not looking for.
“Oh! There is someone. And it’s juicy,” Ella crowed, triumphant. “So, anyone I know?” she asked, watching Dan’s face closely for any reaction. “Or, someone outside the precinct? Prosecutor? Lawyer? Security guard?” She kept tossing guesses at Dan’s increasingly smug expression. “Maybe someone you met at the gym? Uh… barista? Dentist? Palm reader? Cake decorator?” Still nothing. Ella made a frustrated noise. “Come on, Dan, you gotta give me something. Bros before you-knows!”
Dan laughed. “We’re bros?”
“Yeah, obvs,” she said, pronouncing it as one syllable. “Now spill.”
“My lips are sealed,” Dan said carefully, riveting his eyes on Ella, absolutely not looking in any other direction.
She punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Oooooh, you sly dog. You know I’m gonna find out, and when I do, I’m gonna… I’m gonna totally…”
“Yeah?” Dan asked, genuinely curious about what Ella was going to threaten him with.
“...Totally… just… high-five you, or something,” Ella finished. “Seriously, dude, it’s great to see you looking happy again. Whoever she is, I’m glad she makes you feel that way. Tell her thanks from me,” and she scooped up her evidence and strolled back to the lab.
Dan blinked rapidly several times, then finally let himself look over to where Lucifer was sitting with his Louboutins propped up on Chloe’s desk, talking animatedly about something. Today he was dressed in black, but as usual, it wasn’t a conservative or boring color for Lucifer; there was a sleek bluish sheen to the wool under the fluorescent lights, and his jacket and waistcoat lining kept showing flashes of provocative red, matching his pocket square. Dan never had much of an eye for fine menswear, but there was something about the way Lucifer’s suits clung to him in some places and draped coyly over him in others, the way the tailoring emphasized the long clean lines of his body. Dan pondered, not for the first time, that those suits revealed a lot more than they concealed, to anyone who had seen Lucifer naked. Possibly that was the point.
Dan shifted uncomfortably in his chair, then scooted a little closer to his desk and completely failed to re-focus on his work. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t want to say anything to anyone about his relationship, or arrangement, or whatever it was; it certainly wasn’t as though “has slept with Lucifer Morningstar” was a mark of any distinction around the precinct. Maybe it was because Lucifer also hadn’t said anything: hadn’t greeted Dan the next workday with a slap on the ass and yelled Hello, sexual partner! Top-shelf coitus we had, wasn’t it? or anything of the sort, as Dan had been half-expecting him to. Lucifer had, in fact, called Dan a douche and stolen his energy bar, as though nothing had changed between them.
It bothered Dan that he could learn a shattering truth about the world and his place in it on Friday, and nothing would be different at work on Monday. It also bothered him that Lucifer didn't seem to see him differently. It was all just… a little too normal.
That first day, it ate at him. Lucifer is the Devil was a thing some part of his brain didn’t want to believe, and he could feel how easy it would be to just pretend that part, at least, never happened. Thank God--or whoever--for Chloe, who could at least reassure him that he wasn’t having a psychotic break. But there was something else there, something he didn’t want to lose.
That evening, after work, he had driven to Lux to confront Lucifer, only to find him nowhere in the club. Somewhat unusually, there was a guard posted on the penthouse elevator, which, Dan surmised, meant a private party upstairs. He’d turned to leave but the guard had already spotted him. “Detective Espinoza,” she’d said. “Go on up, he’s expecting you,” and had pulled the velvet rope aside to wave him through.
“Expecting me?” Dan had asked. But she’d just smiled as the doors closed.
Lucifer was waiting for him. Stark naked, in bed. “Oh, I’m sorry, Daniel,” he’d said, as Dan stood there helplessly opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish, “I assumed you wanted to come up here for sex. But we can talk about our feelings, if you’d rather.”
Dan didn’t ask how Lucifer had known what he intended to do. Desire was kind of his thing. “Nope,” Dan had said, after only a brief hesitation. “You’re right, I’m definitely here for sex.”
“Brilliant,” Lucifer had said, reaching for Dan’s belt.
And that had just kept happening, with minor variations. For two weeks. Dan found himself gravitating toward Lucifer in his free time. And it wasn’t that they didn’t talk--sex with Lucifer involved a lot more talking than Dan was used to--but the “what are we doing, really?” conversation consistently failed to come up.
Now that he knew Lucifer was actually the Devil and not just a delusional eccentric who liked to play cop, Dan was starting to enjoy his company. They had similar tastes in movies and takeout, and if Lucifer was just blowing off steam while pining after Dan’s ex, well… he could definitely have done worse for a rebound, he supposed.
Tonight, for the first time, Lucifer was meeting him at his place, and Dan was looking forward to it. But it wasn’t as though he was dating Lucifer. He was just… having the most amazing sex of his entire life. With Satan. Maybe that was why he didn’t want to tell anyone: no one would believe the truth, and “me and that crazy club owner who thinks he’s the Devil have a thing” was so far off the mark that it felt like a lie. Lucifer was rubbing off on him in more ways than one, it seemed.
Dan realized he’d been staring in Lucifer’s direction for a couple of minutes, at least. He blinked and forcefully returned his attention to his screen, managing to add three more sentences to his report before being interrupted, again, this time by their interim lieutenant, who reminded him of Marcus Pierce in some ways. Except female, thirty years older and with an astounding collection of World’s Greatest Grandma mugs. She had a similar habit of never using ten words when five would do, though.
“Espinoza, Lopez found a lead on the Darvi case I want you to follow up on,” she said, without preamble. “Check in with her and grab a partner, you're heading out.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Dan said. “I’m just gonna finish this up real quick,” he added. She gave him a Look but moved on. Dan sighed in relief and resolved to stop thinking about Lucifer until he could stand up without humiliating himself.
Chloe caught herself fiddling with her shirt collar again and dropped her hand back to her desktop, making a frustrated sound.
It wasn’t ringworm. It also wasn’t any of the common skin cancers, or Lyme disease, or freaking meningitis. “It might be an allergy,” the dermatologist had told her. “We can test for that. What’s that necklace made of?” So the bullet on its chain had gone into Chloe’s jewelry box while she waited for the skin reactivity test to come back, and she felt strangely incomplete without it. Her fingers drummed irritably on her desk, longing for something to fidget with.
The bruise where Pierce’s man had shot her had been spectacular: in a spot near the edge of her vest, with no padding and right over bone, she was lucky not to have cracked a rib or worse. The lurid sunburst below her collarbones had cycled through all the colors of the rainbow over the next month, eventually fading out to a stubborn pale-centered round splotch barely darker than the rest of her skin.
In the last week or so, the discolored area had started to itch. Chloe knew not to rub or scratch at it, but when it remained worryingly livid after a bout of hydrocortisone cream and started to develop into a raised welt, she went to the doctor. She was hoping for an ointment or an injection that would take care of the weird little thing in a few days, but the doc just recommended tests, told her not to worry, and sent her to schedule an appointment with a specialist. “It could be an autoimmune thing, something going haywire in the healing process,” she’d said. “Bad reactions like this aren’t that unusual, especially if you’ve been under a lot of emotional stress lately.”
You have no idea, was Chloe’s thought. “A bad reaction to being shot?” Chloe had asked. The doctor had gone on to explain the breakdown of tissue damage which Chloe remembered from the first time she’d been shot, thank you, and with more questions than answers she had made her appointments and resolved to avoid scoop-necks and v-necks for the time being.
The only person who noticed was Lucifer. “Hardly turtleneck weather, is it, Detective?” he asked, stealing a chair from an adjacent cubicle and leaning back in it just so he could put his feet up on the edge of her desk.
“It’s not that warm today,” Chloe said, pointedly ignoring the red-soled oxfords intruding on her space. “Anyway, you should talk,” she added. “I refuse to take tips on dressing for the weather from you, Mr. Three-Piece Suit.”
“Fair enough,” Lucifer said agreeably. Leaning forward without in any way removing his loafers from the desk, he picked a toy off her workspace: a cheerful plastic horse with string-jointed legs, that would rock or buck in response to the bottom of its pedestal being gently pressed. Lucifer, of course, pushed the button all the way in, slackening all the strings and causing the horse to collapse. He startled like he’d never seen such a thing before. “What’s this?”
“I saw it at a toy store and it reminded me of something,” Chloe said. “Something related to the case. So I picked it up, but so far the dots haven’t connected. I’ll work it out,” she said.
“You always do,” Lucifer said simply, and Chloe was cheered somewhat by the Devil’s matter-of-fact faith in her intuition. He released the button and the horse snapped back to attention in time to be replaced on Chloe’s desk. “So, what are we doing today? Suspects to interrogate, grisly yet intriguing crime scenes to visit? Ooh, any spooky old warehouses to ransack for clues? I could do with a good ransacking, it’s been ages.”
Chloe couldn’t quite hold back a smile. It was funny how, when he was in a good mood, the Devil himself could feel like the most normal thing in her life. She looked down at her paperwork instead. “Nothing much so far,” she told him honestly. “I’m waiting to hear back on some leads with our case, so I thought I’d take the time to catch up on some paperwork from the last couple of weeks.”
“What sort of leads?” Lucifer asked, picking up the casefile and studying the crime scene photos with a neutral expression, like he was looking at pictures in a gardening catalog and not at blood-splashed mechanical toys and dolls in various stages of disassembly, disquietingly echoing the condition of the victim.
“The usual. Going through the deceased’s financial records, his contacts, not that there are many. He was kind of a weird old hermit, by all accounts. Lived modestly, kept to himself. He had a business partner, up to about six months ago. ”
Lucifer closed the file folder. “Well, that sounds promising. Any chance they had a dramatic falling-out and threatened each other in writing?”
Chloe drummed her fingers on the desk and sighed. “We’re still checking, but so far it appears that they just went peacefully out of business. Not a lot of antique carousels and carnival rides left to repair, now that everything’s gone digital, I guess.”
“Carousel repair?” Lucifer repeated. "I thought our unfortunate departed was a toymaker."
"Looks like the creepy dolls were a hobby," Chloe said, passing him a business card.
“‘Darvi and Sons Funfair Maintenance and Supplies’,” he read. “Hm. That does sound rather… niche. Where are the sons while all this was going on?”
“Our vic is the sons. Son. There was only one, I guess his father hoped there’d be more,” Chloe said. “Or maybe ‘and sons’ just sounded better, who knows. The business partner,” Chloe said, double-checking her notes, “Claude Driscoll, was apparently in charge of the ‘supplies’ end of the business. He’s got an alibi for the murder. He was out of town on a business trip, confirmed by receipts and security camera footage, but he’s the only social contact we've dug up for Josef Darvi and might know what he was into that got him killed.”
Lucifer nodded thoughtfully. “So the only person who even knows our reclusive victim existed has an alibi, and you’re hoping someone else had a grudge against this hermit?” It was a thin lead, and Chloe half-shrugged in apology. “Would you say this carousel case is going around in circles?”
Chloe glared. “You were just waiting to say something like that, weren’t you?”
Lucifer didn’t deny it, and let his smirk speak volumes. He helped himself to a stack of her files and began sorting them idly. “So that explains one of these case files. What are all the rest out for? I see we’ve got boring crimes, obvious crimes… ooh, sexy crimes… hey!” as Chloe snatched her files back.
“You really aren’t even supposed to be looking at those,” Chloe said. “If the ell-tee sees you we’ll both get reamed. Again.”
Lucifer arched his eyebrows. “Now, that could be-...”
“Not in a fun way.” Lucifer’s exaggerated look of disappointment was kind of adorable, but Chloe actually was looking forward to an afternoon of mindlessly filing. And… there were other reasons she had been avoiding taking Lucifer out with her lately. “Why don’t you see if Ella needs a hand? Or Dan,” she suggested.
Lucifer’s eyes narrowed. “You’re trying to get rid of me. Have you been avoiding me?” he asked, with that almost mind-reading shrewdness he sometimes had. “I thought after our hot tub night, you’d…?”
“No! Of course not,” Chloe said, and when Lucifer looked unconvinced, she said “I’m not avoiding you. I just have a lot on my mind right now and I thought I’d concentrate on paperwork while I’m waiting for a phone call. It’s no big deal.” She glanced around the bullpen for a handy distraction, and was gratified to see one in progress. “Looks like Dan’s heading out, maybe you can see what he’s up to,” she said, and when Lucifer didn’t look convinced, she readied her never-fail Devil-banishing incantation: “Unless you’d like to stay here and help me put interview sheets in order? Here,” she said, grabbing a file from the stack at random, “this is from that tuba player case last week, you were there for all these interviews so you shouldn’t have any trouble sorting them chronologically.”
“Mm. Tempting,” Lucifer said, but he put his feet down, stood up, and re-buttoned his jacket. “Perhaps I will tag along with the Douche. But you really should think about having some fun, sometime; I can’t help noticing what a serious Detective you’ve been lately. Oh!” he said, patting his pocket theatrically. “Speaking of.” He pulled Chloe’s phone out and set it on her desk. “You might be missing this.”
Chloe was certain she hadn’t set that down anywhere. “Did you steal my phone? I was waiting for a phone call, you complete...”
“If you don’t want people to touch it, you shouldn’t leave it lying around…”
“...It was in my pocket…”
“...where anyone can play with it.”
“I keep it locked.”
“Nothing is locked for me, darling, I’m the Devil. Don’t forget to check your Wobble messages,” he said, as he turned to leave.
“Wait, what, I don’t have a…?” But he had already made himself absent, in that way he could completely vanish when he wanted to. Chloe probably never would be sure where his divine gifts ended and ordinary being-a-dick began, so she sighed and checked her phone. No missed calls from the dermatology clinic, at least. And... yep, there was a new icon on her home screen.
Welcome to Wobble, hottubdetective!
[0 new messages in 1 group].
You have started the event group LADIES NIGHT
You have invited: maze4days, doctorfeelgood, ella-but-in-klingon
You said: hey what’s up ladies you ready to get loud and wild
maze4days said: wtf decker since when do you even have an account
doctorfeelgood said: I like the sound of this
ella-but-in-klingon said: oh word i was totally going to suggest we go out tonight, u read my mind
You said: so we’ll meet up at LUX at 9?
maze4days said: ugh anywhere but there
You said: the tiki bar in silver lake, then
doctorfeelgood said: Sounds good
doctorfeelgood said: I could go for a scorpion bowl
ella-but-in-klingon said: im so hype for this let’s GO
ella-but-in-klingon said: 1st round’s on me
maze4days said: free drinks? count me in I guess if nothing more interesting comes up
You said: lovely
maze4days said: wait a minute
You have left chat.
In the course of trying to type first of all, obviously Lucifer stole my phone, I mean come on, “hottubdetective”?! and then also I can’t go out tonight, I have Trixie, Chloe accidentally deleted the group chat and couldn’t figure out how to restore it, and before she could text them all individually she got another call.
Curiously, it was the former roommates of their vic’s estranged business partner, wanting to come in immediately for an interview. She sighed, went to get the room ready, and resolved to call Maze and Linda afterwards.
It was whopooh in the comments of that first fic I posted here who got me thinking about how I would choose to wrap up the series from that point. This story wouldn't exist without that discussion, and I'm grateful for the nudge. Every subsequent horrible idea is of course my own, including the decision to put this fic up even though post-S3 AUs are probably well past their expiration date.
Chapter 2: Sharing the Load
“Lucifer, get down! He’ll see you!”
“That’s the general idea,” Lucifer said, dusting himself off. “You might want to get behind something solid, Detective. I suggest: me.” Raising his voice as he stepped in front of Dan, Lucifer cupped his hands to his mouth and said, “Hello! Unidentified shooter or shooters! You missed! I can see you, and I’m about to tell all the police where you’re hiding!”
Per-chapter content warnings: Some spookiness, (bloodless) firearm violence, and as always, Dan says "fuck" a lot.
“Central, this is twelve-A-four-K-niner experiencing a two-eight-eight that could escalate into a three-one-one. Code Seven, repeat, this is a Code Seven. Requesting immediate tacos, over.”
“Could you not touch the radio?” Dan snapped. Lucifer turned his hand to show that he hadn’t pressed the transmit/relay buttons on the handset, and Dan gave him an exasperated look. “That wasn’t even… none of that even made sense,” he muttered, returning his attention to the road. “How many years have you been shadowing the LAPD, and you still haven’t picked up any radio etiquette? Don’t make me regret bringing you along.”
Lucifer replaced the handset and leaned back in his seat. “Fine, I’m on my best behavior. Remind me, where are we going?”
“Business address still on the records for Darvi and Sons,” Dan said. “Darvi's CDL lists it as his home address, and it turns out Claude Driscoll pays the rent."
Lucifer picked up the papers from the courthouse, scanned through them idly. "Hmm. I thought they went out of business."
"Yeah, and Driscoll claims he had no contact with Darvi for six months before his death, and never mentioned still owning joint property, so that’s a red flag,” Dan said. “According to the map, it’s not really a residence. It’s an outdoor storage facility with a lot of antique carnival rides.”
“That sounds promising,” Lucifer said, perking up immediately. “Any chance of a spooky warehouse?”
Dan half-shrugged without taking his hands off the wheel. “You never know what you’ll find on a backlot in L.A. But no breaking and entering, Lucifer, I mean it.”
“I never break in,” Lucifer objected.
“It’s B&E even if the door isn’t locked,” Dan pointed out. “Especially if the door wasn’t unlocked before you touched it.”
Lucifer made a derisive sound. “The Detective always lets me poke around. Ooh, I know, I could go round the back while you’re distracting the suspect in front, that’s brilliant,” but Dan was concentrating on the street signs, most of which were obscured by foliage or fading into illegibility. He turned onto a side street, then returned his attention to Lucifer.
“First of all, I’m not the Det-... I’m not Chloe, and secondly, probably no one is going to be there, it’s just storage, and third, stick close to me and don’t do anything”--adjectives failed him-- “Lucifer-ish, okay? I had a weird feeling looking at this guy’s statement earlier, there’s something there that doesn’t add up.” Dan’s GPS chirped warningly at him as Destination is on your right showed on the screen.
“Really?” Lucifer asked, intrigued, while Dan pulled up to the gate and parked alongside it. “Detective Douche is having a flash of intuition?”
Dan sighed. He didn’t know how to put what was in the back of his mind into words, like Chloe always could, but he was enough of a cop to know better than to ignore that itchy something's-up feeling. “I don’t know. It’s just… He had his receipts organized like he was expecting to be asked for them. And they cover every almost every minute he was in Oregon, with no time unaccounted-for.” He clicked his tongue. “It’s weird, is all.”
“I see,” Lucifer said. “Do you think he knew his former business partner was going to be murdered and took steps to avoid the blame?”
“Maybe it’s nothing,” Dan said, getting out of the car, “maybe he’s just one of those really organized types, but it just felt a little off to me. I’m trying to be caref-... Whoa,” he said, looking at the gate. It was immediately apparent that something was amiss: the gate had been secured by a padlock and chain, but the chain was broken and the lock was hanging by the hasp.
Lucifer held his hands up when Dan looked at him. “Wasn’t me this time, I’m staying behind you like a good Devil.”
Dan peered more closely at the sectioned link of chain: dull, like it had been exposed to sunlight and air for a while, not shiny and freshly cut. “No, it looks like the chain was cut maybe... yesterday? I’m calling it in,” Dan said, reaching for his radio, but in the five seconds he’d taken his eyes off Lucifer, the Devil had strolled through the gate like he owned the place.
He tilted his head at Dan. “Of course, I’ve always been a little hazy on proper procedure, but forced entry is probable cause to investigate further, is it not?” Lucifer waved at the gate. “Open door, invitation,” he said. “Don't forget the paperwork, in case we find someone to brandish it at. Well? Aren’t you coming?” And without waiting further, he headed toward the first building, a long, low quonset hut with a shaded awning.
Dan swore, grabbed the warrants, and hurried after his erstwhile consultant, having to jog to keep up with Lucifer’s long strides.
The door opened when Lucifer touched the handle; Dan didn’t ask whether he’d done anything but turn the knob. He followed Lucifer into a dusty workshop space, with large wood- and metalworking tools laid out with benches in between for racks of hand tools, paints, and parts. The lights didn’t turn on when Dan jogged the switch, but he didn’t really expect them to.
Beyond the open area… well, it wasn’t a warehouse exactly, but it was definitely spooky. Carousel and funhouse figures, some draped in cloth, some in plastic, and some stripped of their varnish and paint to bare wood, were stacked along aisles that receded into darkness. Others were chained and hanging from roof supports, looking poised to descend. “How delightfully macabre,” Lucifer said, clearly pleased.
“Yeah, but not suspicious,” Dan said, trying to switch his flashlight on. “Damn batteries.”
As he finally got the light on, Lucifer caught his elbow and pointed to the floor. Dan swept the beam over it. Dusty red spots, dark crimson against the concrete, headed off into the stacks, marking an unmistakable trail into the dark den of antiquities. “You were saying?” Lucifer said.
Dan made a face. “I hope that’s not blood.” But he could see that the spots were starting to darken and separate at the edges as they dried. Well, they were in a wood shop, accidents could happen... and as they made their way along the row, the quantity looked less like a minor bandsaw accident and more like... a major bandsaw accident. Possibly a bandsaw massacre.
Gore streaked the faces of several painted wooden carousel horses lined up along the aisle, and the larger splashes were still vivid and fresh-looking. “LAPD!” Dan called, to the silent warehouse. “We have a warrant to search the property! The gate lock was broken!” He listened for any movement, but the building was eerily still. “Is anyone there?”
“Fine work, Daniel,” Lucifer said. He eyed a wide crimson streak across the saddle of a painted pony, swiped his finger through it before Dan could stop him, and to Dan’s disgust, tasted it. “Not human.” He smacked his lips thoughtfully. “Pig.”
Dan blinked. “Really? Are you certain?” But of course, Lucifer didn’t lie. “So this is… what, vandalism?”
Lucifer shrugged. “Amateur production of Carrie got out of hand? You’re the detective; you tell me.”
“At least I was right about this case being fucking weird,” Dan muttered. Knowing the blood wasn’t human didn’t make it any less unnerving. More, possibly; if this was a deliberate tableau set up to lead them on, Dan liked it even less than a straightforward shop accident under suspicions of homicide. Josef Darvis had his throat cut in a workshop full of mostly wooden toys; Dan wondered whether someone was trying to evoke that specific image.
The blood trail led them past a section of swan boats, and then to an exterior door, which had been splashed thoroughly in pig blood. Dan gestured at Lucifer to stay back. Lucifer mouthed What? and Dan gave the hand signal for Hold your position, to which Lucifer responded by looking briefly confused, then making a doggie shadow puppet with one hand and a duckie with the other.
“Just stay there,” Dan hissed, and tried the doorknob. Dan leaned through the doorway, glancing along the side of the building. “All clear,” he said, stepping through. Lucifer followed, careful not to brush against the gore-splashed doorframe. He shielded his eyes with his hand from the bright smog-tinged sunshine, looking out at a yard full of dodgem cars, tilt-a-whirls, merry-go-rounds and more, all disassembled and rusting in numbered rows. There was even a disassembled Ferris wheel, looking, admittedly, no more menacing than a regular Ferris wheel. Lucifer started forward.
“Oh, Jesus,” Dan said, and Lucifer curled his lip in annoyance and turned to say something sarcastic, but stopped as he saw what Dan was looking at. WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO? was emblazoned in dripping scarlet letters, each several feet high, along the side of the building, ending in a wet-looking trail of red that continued past the corner and onto the asphalt, where a red trail led into the carnival graveyard.
“It’s paint,” Lucifer said.
“I know,” Dan replied. He could smell it, plus the bright red wasn’t oxidizing like the stuff inside. “It’s still creepy as hell.”
“Got me there,” Lucifer agreed, and let Dan take the lead, following the trail into the lot of gently rusting machinery. The first letter, painted onto the ground, was a P. Lucifer opened his mouth.
“Don’t,” Dan warned him, “speculate. Let’s just… follow along here, okay?”
By mutual silent agreement, Lucifer and Dan were careful not to tread in any of the paint, which proved somewhat difficult, as the vandal had been no more careful with the paint than they had been with a bucket of pig blood. Stray splatters were everywhere. PLEASE HIDE ME, the trail continued, written in looping spray paint letters on the asphalt. Dan shuddered. “That doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Lucifer said quietly. “Nina Simone is back in vogue, it could be a coincidence.”
The maze of machinery opened up to reveal a wider space. Incidentally or by design, some larger carnival ride pieces had been arranged in a semi-circle, creating a large open area, with another PLEASE HIDE ME and WHERE YOU GONNA RUN TO? spiralling out from the middle.
In the center, a wooden cart had been overturned, with SINNERMAN painted in the same scarlet on the underside. “Or maybe not a coincidence,” Lucifer said, as Dan started to run forward, no longer paying attention to not treading in paint spots. Sticking out from under the cart, motionless, was a pair of legs.
“Hi,” Chloe said, putting two cups of coffee on the table. “I’m Detective Decker. Thanks for coming in. You say you have information relevant to a homicide case?”
Two middle-aged women, one short and dark with heavy wooden earrings, the other tall and fair with a buzz cut, looked at each other, and then at Chloe, across the table. Neither made a move to accept the coffee she’d brought them. “Aren’t there supposed to be two of you?” Buzz Cut asked.
Chloe tried to look as cheerful, blonde, and unthreatening as possible. “For interrogations, yes, but this is just an interview. If your information turns out to be important, we’ll probably ask you to give a recorded statement, but for now this is just an off-the-record chat, okay?” They nodded. “Well, mostly off the record. I hope it’s okay if I take notes. So… first of all, who are you?”
“I’m Maria Ribera, and this is my wife, Josie Haplan,” the dark-haired woman said. “I'm the one who talked to you on the phone. We own a ranch in West Hills; Claude rented our bunkhouse for the last nine years.”
“Claude Driscoll?” Chloe asked. Maria nodded.
“He didn’t live there,” Josie said. “Not really. He’d stay a night or two a week, at most, and there’ve been months where we never saw him at all. He always paid his rent, though. That trucker life, you know, always hauling machinery back and forth. He told us he traveled a lot for work and it was just convenient to have a place in town, and not have to fuss over storage units or booking hotels.”
“We sort of pegged him as a wealthy eccentric. This city’s full of them,” Maria interrupted. “We never thought…” Josie shot her a warning look.
“Do you have any reason to suspect Claude Driscoll of committing a crime?” Chloe said, as neutrally as possible with such a leading question.
“Not exactly,” Josie said. “Like we said, he was always sort of vague but polite to us, always asked before parking his rig on our property, always paid his rent on time… except this month, he gets a package…”
“He has a P.O. box for letters and bills, and parcels go to his business address,” Maria interrupted. “He’s never gotten any mail at our place. Then this private courier shows up and leaves us an envelope, and the next day, when Claude opens it, he looks like he’s seen a ghost.”
Josie picked up the story from her wife seamlessly. “Takes off immediately, disappears all weekend, then when he comes back, he says he’s leaving for good, packs up three suitcases and tells us to sell the rest of his stuff.”
“Do you know what was in the package?”
“He started to open it in front of us. There was a phone, which he took with him. Maybe a letter or a picture? And this,” Josie said, handing Chloe a brochure.
“‘Polk County Army Surplus and Arms Collectors Expo’,” she read aloud. “This is… this is the same convention center as the antique carousel auction.” Driscoll’s alibi. “On the same weekend.” She paused. “Do you think Driscoll bought a gun? And carried it across state lines?”
Josie nodded, tight-lipped. Clearly there was still some affection there, if she didn’t want to implicate Driscoll in a crime. “I didn’t actually see it,” she began.
“But you saw the case,” Maria supplied.
“Yeah. It was in the back of his truck when I was helping him load up his luggage. A long case, bigger than a hunting rifle. I asked him what it was, and he said it was none of my business and that I’d regret it if I ever told anyone. Which was... well.” Josie looked down. "He'd never used a tone like that with me before."
Chloe tried to sort the timeline out in her head. “When was this?”
Josie sounded a little defensive. “Two days ago. Maybe we should have come in sooner, but we just heard about his friend Josef. And I mean, Claude can’t have done it if he was in Oregon, right?… but maybe he thinks someone’s coming after him, too?”
“He always kind of hinted about something dark in his past,” Maria said. “We used to joke he was in witness protection. But I think... I think it might be a lot worse than that.”
“You were right to come to us,” Chloe assured them. “Wait here just one moment, I have to make a quick phone call.” She was already dialing Dan's number blindly before she finished speaking.
It was apparent as soon as they got close that the legs didn’t belong to a body. It was a pair of jeans, filled with sandbags to give them the shape of legs, and stuffed into boots. “Well, that’s eccentric,” Dan said, nudging the jeans with his toe.
“People call me eccentric. This is just peculiar,” Lucifer said, tracing his finger through some of the SINNERMAN graffiti. “And recent,” he added, displaying the fresh, wet smear on his fingertips.
“And that’s why we wear gloves,” Dan said, as he watched Lucifer realize he had nothing to wipe his hands on except his suit jacket. He didn’t get to see how Lucifer resolved his predicament, however, because Dan’s phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out to glance at it. Chloe. He took a few steps away to accept the call. “Hey,” he said quietly.
“Yeah, Dan, glad you picked up. Listen, before you check out that storage facility, get some backup.”
“We’re already here, on the property. Looks like someone broke in, there’s some vandalism, it’s… uh… well, it looks like it might be connected to,” out of sheer force of habit, Dan dropped his voice to a whisper, “The Sinnerman.”
“What?” Chloe said, and there was a tense edge in her voice. “Oh, that’s even worse. Get out of there right now, I’m here with some people who say Driscoll is armed, that he bought a gun when he was in Oregon, right after a private courier dropped off a phone. Get out, call for backup,” she said again.
“Oh, fuck,” Dan said, at the same time that Lucifer staggered into him with a sharp exhalation. Then Dan heard the shot. He flung himself to the ground, hauling Lucifer down beside him, as another shot went straight through the overturned wagon that was the only cover anywhere nearby. Undoubtedly, Dan realized, that was the intention. “LAPD!” he shouted again, and the next shot kicked a puff of dust by Lucifer’s outstretched leg. He risked a glance over the wagon; the shot could have come from anywhere in a 170-degree arc. Fish in a barrel, Dan thought. If the shooter--Driscoll, presumably--just kept plinking at the wagon, he’d get them both eventually. They might as well be hiding under a sheet of tissue paper.
“...hell. Bloody hell,” Lucifer snarled under his breath.
“Don’t try to talk, man, just hold on, you’ll be fine,” Dan said automatically, sliding his hands between Lucifer’s shirt and his jacket, trying to find a wound to apply pressure to before his adrenaline-washed brain caught up on current events and he remembered who he was talking to.
“Bloody, bloody hellfire and damnation! Would you look at this, it went right through, I had this custom dyed,” Lucifer growled, shoving Dan’s hands away and trying to twist around to look at his jacket. Giving up, he stood abruptly, scanning the silent ring of machinery.
“Lucifer, get down! He’ll see you!”
“That’s the general idea,” Lucifer said, dusting himself off. “You might want to get behind something solid, Detective. I suggest: me.” Raising his voice as he stepped in front of Dan, Lucifer cupped his hands to his mouth and said, “Hello! Unidentified shooter or shooters! You missed! I can see you, and I’m about to tell all the police where you’re hiding!”
There was a brief pause, then Dan saw Lucifer’s head jerk sickeningly on his neck and he went down hard, his knees crumpling and pitching him into the dirt. For an entirely too-long moment, he lay there unmoving. Dan also was frozen, training forgotten, unable to move or think. Time slowed to a crawl until Lucifer inhaled sharply. “Trying for a headshot at that distance. Bloody show-off,” he grumbled. “At least my Armani is spared further indignity.” He shook his head as though trying to clear it while Dan’s heart considered returning to its normal position, instead of in his throat. “Saw the muzzle flash that time. Cheeky bugger’s in that control tower for dodgem cars, second row back. Now you can call the ambulance.”
“But you’re not hurt,” Dan said, stupidly.
“Not for me,” Lucifer said, and Dan found himself scrambling backwards without any conscious volition at the flicker of demonic fire in Lucifer’s eyes. “For him.”
Lucifer took off at a dead run, leaving Dan to fumble for his radio. He could hear sirens in the distance before he’d even completed the call to dispatch; Chloe must have called the cavalry herself. His heart was still hammering in animal panic, but Devil eyes or no, Dan wasn’t going to explain why he’d let an unarmed civilian consultant charge a shooter’s position while he cowered behind plywood.
He heard another shot and a strangled yell while he was figuring out how to navigate through the ring of machinery to the tower that Lucifer had indicated, but he needn’t have hurried. By the time he caught up to Lucifer, the fight was well over, with Driscoll unconscious on the ground and the Devil straightening his cuffs. Dan winced at the bruise purpling Driscoll’s temple; he was taller and broader through the shoulders than Dan, but disarmed and crumpled, he looked like a frail old man.
“What did you do to him?” Dan asked, carefully rolling him onto his side into a recovery position and putting plastic cuffs on. Nothing seemed broken, at least.
Lucifer’s smile was all teeth and no humor as he looked at Driscoll. “He took one look at me and jumped out of the tower,” he said. “Can’t think why.” Dan looked up at the structure: a cramped round chamber barely ten feet off the ground, perfectly useful for monitoring the movement of a small field of bumper cars but a less-than-optimal sniper perch. Lucifer followed Dan’s gaze. “I made sure he didn’t land that badly, but I’m afraid the excitement was all a little much for the geezer, and he needed to take a nap. I’m sure he’ll be extremely cooperative when he wakes up.”
Dan was also pissed off about being shot at, but full-on Devil mode seemed a little excessive. “As far as we know, he hasn’t killed anyone,” Dan mumbled.
“Killing someone was certainly his intent, up to about thirty seconds ago,” Lucifer pointed out, then he finally looked at Dan and his tone softened immediately. “Daniel... are you okay?” He reached out, like he was going to touch Dan’s face or hair, and Dan was aware of a tingling in his scalp, like a big bug was walking on him or something. He shook his head reflexively but the tingle didn’t go away and Lucifer looked even more concerned, which was a strange expression to see on him. The sirens sounded like they were right outside, and Dan took the opportunity to withdraw.
“I’m fine,” Dan said. “Uh… stay here, I’m going to direct traffic. Keep your hands visible.”
“Of course,” Lucifer said. “Wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone.”
“Right,” Dan said. “Right. Where’d his weapon end up?”
“Still up there,” Lucifer said, jerking his thumb toward the control tower.
“Good. Don’t touch anything. I’ll be right back.”
Whether it was the comedown from the adrenaline or some residual Devil-mojo thing, Dan wasn’t sure, but he had trouble tracking events after that. Fortunately, Dan-on-autopilot could handle the tasks of organizing the unis into perimeter and sweep crews and seeing the woozy Driscoll into an ambulance.
There was a brief commotion when Driscoll’s firearm was recovered. The Sako TRG’s barrel had been bent at a nearly ninety-degree angle. Dan had a pretty good guess how that happened, but the ballistics tech was mystified. “I’ve never seen heat failure like that,” she said. “Although if the barrel was about to crumple like this, it explains why he couldn’t hit you.”
“Yeah,” Dan said. “That’s probably why,” and went to go check up on what Lucifer was telling people. Lucifer was relaxed, calm, chatty with everyone, as always. Giving off that "we caught the bad guys" energy that cops responded positively to. Dan kept waiting for someone to notice the holes in his jacket--the red lining of his waistcoat made the damage obvious, at least to Dan--but no one did.
And that was the moment one of the remaining ambos chose to take him aside. “I’m fine,” Dan said. Which wasn’t strictly true, but sitting in the back of an ambulance with a shock blanket wouldn’t help.
“That looks like a nasty cut,” she said, scrutinizing Dan. “At least let me clean it out for you, won’t take a second.”
Dan raised a hand to his hairline, realizing as he did so that the tingling itch he hadn’t really been paying attention to was starting to ache. Sure enough, the hair was tacky and starting to stand up in spikes. “I didn’t even feel that,” he said, wonderingly. “A piece of wood must have hit me.”
The emergency medical technician gave a low whistle. “Wood? Geez, yeah, let’s definitely get that cleaned up.” So Dan let himself be led to the remaining ambulance. Recalling his improv relaxation exercises, he tried to de-tune his mind to static and be a tree while his head wound was cleaned. It nearly worked, for a few minutes. But then reality intruded again.
"Detective D-... Daniel," Lucifer said, insistently, sounding like he’d been trying to get Dan’s attention.
"Hmm?" Dan opened his eyes.
“It’s still your crime scene, Detective. I need you to release me if I’m going to make it to my appointment. And I really should look in on the club.”
“Oh, right. Sorry. Yes, you can go.”
Lucifer hesitated. “I’ll see you later, then? At your place?” he prompted.
“Right. Yes,” Dan said. “Right. Later. We need to talk.”
Lucifer left, the EMT finished cleaning Dan’s scalp wound to her satisfaction, and then there wasn’t much left to do but secure the scene and let the forensic team take their photos. Which took some time.
Driving back to the precinct, Dan was thoughtful. He desperately wanted to talk to Chloe, but she was, strangely, nowhere to be found. So Dan worked on paperwork, and when he got back from filing his preliminary reports and briefly talking to the interim lieutenant, Ella accosted him and dragged him to the lab.
“What did Driscoll have to say?” Dan asked her.
“Driscoll? He’s not gonna be any use to anyone for a while until whatever drugs he took are out of his system.”
“Yeah, tox screen isn’t back yet but damn, he was raving about God and sin and punishment and all kinds of weird stuff.” At Dan’s arched eyebrow, she added, a little defensively, “Not in a normal, healthy, it-gives-me-comfort-to-know-the-Big-Guy-is-out-there-but-I-still-gotta-do-things-for-myself way. More like a hell-is-empty-and-all-the-devils-are-here way, ya dig?”
Dan didn’t follow. “What does The Tempest have to do with anything?”
“Wow, Dan. Hidden depths, nice,” Ella said with approval. “Anyway, Driscoll's under observation for now at ye olde county psych ward, but I got some stuff to look at anyway. We got the phone, and even better, he still had the original envelope, the one his Sinnerman phone was dropped off in. So that’s awesome, we might be able to pull prints off the flap on the interior, find out who put that in the mail. We’re also getting his text message history from the phone company, but it wasn’t the only thing in the envelope: look.” Ella pulled a scanned document up on her screen. A note, written on a photograph. It looked like a photocopy of a newspaper clipping, almost quaintly old-school:
LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR. 6’6”, expensive suit. Shoot to kill ONLY if his partner is with him. DO NOT SHOOT THE DETECTIVE.
“Wait, this was a hit?” Dan said.
“Seems like it.” Dan must have made a face. Ella went on. “I know, right? Who’d want to put a hit on the Devil?” Ella said, and her tone made a joke of it, but Dan didn’t laugh. He was wondering the same thing, in all sincerity. Officially, according to the evidence uncovered in the FBI and IA investigation, their former lieutenant had died at the hands of his weird cult of followers. There was still disagreement over whether it was some sort of immortality rite that had gone wrong, or an internecine dispute over stolen property, but it was clear that the Sinnerman's people had turned on each other after setting up the ambush for Chloe. "And contract a freakin' tilt-a-whirl repairman to do the deed," Ella mused. "Sinnerman's goon squad sure isn't what it used to be."
“So Pierce’s network is still active?” Dan asked, with a sinking feeling.
"Whoa, whoa," Ella said. "I mean, it's possible, but it's also possible some low-grade mook has it in for Lucifer for being involved with the death of their boss. Let's not jump to conclusions."
“But we’re going to need to talk to the chief about bringing the FBI back in,” Dan said glumly. Things had just started to feel normal again.
"Already taken care of, dude,” Ella said, sympathetically. “Although we might want to keep a lid on Mister Tall, Dark and Devilish, at least until we know for sure whether we're dealing with, like, one Sinnerman operative with a grudge, or if the network survived. Hey, you should ask Lucifer if he wants a police escort." She paused, possibly for breath. "You've got a hot date tonight, right?" Dan blinked, wondering if she'd finally connected those dots--their morning conversation felt like it happened years ago--but she continued, "So never mind, I'll call him and ask."
"Yeah, makes sense," Dan said, as he spotted his ex-wife across the bullpen, coming down the stairs. “Hey, could you excuse me for a minute, I need to talk to Chloe,” he said to Ella, and almost ran out of the lab.
He waylaid Chloe en route to her desk. “Where have you been?” he asked, hearing an echo of Trixie’s whine in his own voice.
"Dan, your face," she said, instead of answering the question. "What happened to you? They told me no one was hurt except the perp."
"It's nothing," he said quickly, leading her to the conference room. "Can we talk? In private?"
"Sure," she said. Dan checked the blinds, slanted them the other way so no one could see in. “What’s the matter?” Chloe asked.
The room secured to his satisfaction, Dan put his palms flat on the table, leaned forward, and hissed, “Lucifer got shot in the head. I was looking right at him when it happened.”
“Oh no, Dan. Are you okay?” Chloe asked, which was the right question, but it was so completely the wrong thing to say in any other circumstances that Dan giggled, a little hysterically.
“Yeah,” Dan said, immediately following that with, “No. Yes. Sure, we have the actual Devil working as a consultant to the LAPD. I’m fine, this is normal. Just… what the fuck do I put in the incident report?” He dropped into a chair, covering his face with his hands.
Chloe shrugged. She didn’t think for a second that paperwork was what was bothering Dan so much he’d sealed the room, but she knew from long Dan-handling experience that sometimes you just had to let him talk around to what was actually on his mind. “Well, was it even an incident, really? Did he tell anyone he got shot?” Dan shook his head. “Did anyone other than you see him take the hit?”
Dan thought about it. “No, but… if the CSI unit recovers the bullet, it…”
“It hit a solid object before it hit the ground, but there won’t be any blood or DNA on it. It’ll look like a ricochet,” Chloe said, with a degree of certainty that suggested she spoke from experience.
“Hang on, how long have you been covering for Lucifer?” Dan asked, suspiciously.
“A while,” she admitted. “I think I knew before I knew, if that makes any sense. It was just always easier to gloss over some details than try to explain them.” Chloe raised a skeptical eyebrow at Dan’s shocked expression. “You of all people don’t get to criticize me for… streamlining reports, okay? Exactly one of us in this room ever falsified evidence.” That had been a little harsher than she intended and she softened her tone. “Anyway, you know what people are like about it now.”
Dan groaned and rubbed his temples. He did know. Now that he was on #TeamLucifer, there was something absolutely maddening about watching other people deny the evidence in front of their eyes in favor of thinking Lucifer was just delusional, or eccentric, or joking. He didn’t know how Chloe had managed being isolated with that knowledge for almost two whole months. Christ, no wonder she’d barely spoken to Dan in that time. “This must be what being in a cult feels like,” Dan said. “Do you ever wonder if maybe we are just going crazy? Like, there was a second,” he swallowed, “where I completely lost it today. I saw him go down and my immediate thought was that all the Devil stuff had to be a trick, he was faking and now he’s dead." Dan gave another mirthless laugh. "I’ve seen him do things that are literally impossible, but the instant I see something unexpected, I’m right back to square one. And I froze. Like a rookie.” He sighed. “Do you ever feel like that?”
“I don’t think so,” Chloe said, gently. “I mean, it’s different for me. I don’t think he affects me the way he affects other people. But, Dan,” she said, “thanks. I mean it. It’s good to have someone sharing the load.”
Dan snorted. “I’m going to tell Lucifer you called him that.”
“You know what I mean. It was different, before I knew what he was. He took risks then, too, but I thought he was just being…”
“A dumbass civilian?” Chloe nodded. She should have known Dan would understand immediately. Dan sighed. “When he told me he was bulletproof, I imagined, you know, like Superman. Bullets bouncing off him. But he went down just like…” Dan let out a breath. Chloe squeezed his shoulder before she sat down opposite. “Just like that was it,” he mumbled.
“Yeah,” she said quietly. That was all, but that one syllable contained a universe of understanding. She sighed heavily. “And if I was with him, it would have been.”
“Jesus,” Dan said. "So that's why…"
Chloe nodded, her lips tight. “You didn’t see him after the shootout with Marcus’s guys. Not only can he only get physically hurt when he’s around me, he doesn’t make good decisions when he thinks I’m in danger. At least when he's with you, I know he's safe.”
Dan gave her a look she couldn’t immediately decipher. “Are we still talking about the job, or…?”
Chloe blinked a few times, then made a time-out gesture, touching the fingertips of one flattened hand to the palm of the other, as she made some swift mental connections. “Wait, you’re not… are you still seeing him? Like, seeing him? I thought it was just that one weekend.”
Dan ran his hand over his hair. “I mean… yeah. Pretty much every evening I haven’t had Trixie or been working, for the last couple of weeks. I assumed you knew. Lucifer didn't say anything?”
Chloe shook her head. A few times over the past weeks, in the course of some conversation or other, Lucifer had mentioned having “plans” in that lascivious tone, and she hadn’t asked him for details and so he hadn’t disclosed any. She’d assumed he meant “orgy” or “coke party” or “coke-fueled sex party”, not “sleeping with her ex.” But she hadn’t asked. “Devil damn it,” she muttered. "No, he didn't say anything, but I probably should have guessed," she said. "Um. So, how's that going?"
“We’re not dating,” Dan said quickly. “At least, I don’t think we are. We haven’t really talked about it, but I mean… It’s Lucifer. So if you’re worried this is going to turn into some stupid made-for-TV love triangle thing, don’t be.”
“Dan, that’s really not…”
“He’s obviously crazy about you,” Dan said, a little wretchedly. “And he’s… he’s not wrong to be,” he added, looking resolutely at his hands. “Plus, you were like, made for him, or whatever. If you decide you want to follow up on that… well. I just want you to know, I’m not gonna get in the way.”
"Dan," Chloe said. Her hand went automatically to her throat to touch the necklace that wasn't there. "I'm not… I mean, I don't… look, after the whole thing with Marcus I'm just not really in a place where…"
Dan reached across the table, squeezed her hand, and stood up. "I know," he said. "I'm sorry to spring that on you, it just seemed important that you know.” And suddenly he was all awkwardness. “Um, thanks for the chat. I gotta get back to work, though.”
Chloe remained in the conference table seat, chin propped on her hand. She’d had since that night in the hot tub to sort of manage to get her head around The Devil, the actual Devil, is in love with me, and is patiently waiting for me to make some kind of decision about that. She had no fucking idea how to even begin to deal with And that information is obvious to Dan, let alone actually, Dan might still be in love with me, too.
“God, I want a drink,” she said aloud. And then she looked at her phone and realized she had completely forgotten to call Maze and Linda and cancel the Ladies’ Night plans that Lucifer had roped her into.
Chloe looked at the clock. The Hell with it. It had been the kind of day that should end with something made from rum and pineapple. She phoned her emergency sitter, promised her double her rate, ordered apology pizza with Trixie’s favorite toppings (currently: olives and peppers, although a few weeks ago it had been mushrooms and artichoke hearts with no cheese). There was still time to get home and have pizza with her daughter before she headed out to Silver Lake.
Chapter 3: Mortal Perspective
"I am not,” Lucifer said, “having another session with her here. No. Absolutely not.”
“Aw,” said Maze. “That’s too bad, I really want to listen to you whine about Chloe.”
“Maze was just leaving,” Linda said. “Weren’t you, baby?” Lucifer was subjected to the incongruous spectacle of an archdemon of the Lilim and his one-time head torturer enduring an affectionate peck on the cheek from his therapist. “Be good,” Linda added.
“I won’t,” Maze replied, closing the office door.
“Maze!” Linda exclaimed, when the demon finally let her come up for air, “you can’t just keep coming over in the middle of the day like this, expecting…”
“Why not?” Maze demanded. “You have, like, four patients. And a really great couch.”
Well, that wasn’t much of an exaggeration. Lucifer compensated her well enough that she’d whittled her client list down considerably over time, free to handle only the cases she was personally invested in or professionally intrigued by, Lucifer himself falling neatly into the category of “both”. She spent most of her office hours these days working on her book, which is what she had been doing when Maze had burst in and pinned her to the couch, all hands and tongue and urgency. “I have more than four patients,” she corrected.
“Sorry,” Maze said into her ear, sounding unapologetic. “Five patients.”
Linda put a finger on Maze’s lips, pushing her gently away. “Regardless of my caseload, I do have an appointment in just a few minutes, and you really can’t be here when…”
“Just a quickie, then,” Maze purred, neatly evading Linda’s forestalling finger to kiss her again, then grazed her teeth over Linda’s neck. Linda shivered. Maze’s deft hand had already undone a button of Linda’s blouse, and was cupping her breast over her bra, digging her fingers in, squeezing. Under the familiar onslaught, Linda gasped and closed her eyes, although not before glancing at the clock on her desk. Oh well, Linda thought, leaning back. Lucifer is never on time, anyway. And then Maze’s other hand was sliding along her thigh, under her skirt, fingertips lightly tracing the shape of her labia through her panties.
“Yes,” Linda said, surrendering. Thinking, as she frequently did, about her celestial encounters and how they’d all been so different. Amenadiel, so careful and tender, uncertain and awestruck by her responses; Lucifer, so much more sure of himself, arrogant even, but with an air of reserve that she could never quite get behind. And then there was Maze, who was like both, but neither. Who took everything she wanted, but gave everything, too. Who sometimes seemed to know what Linda's body could take like she occupied it herself.
Linda was earnestly starting to wonder if she was just spoiled for humans now.
Maze slid her hand under Linda’s panties, parting her outer lips and trapping her clitoris between index and middle fingers, rolling the shaft between them. Linda moaned at the jolt of pleasure. “Yes,” she whispered again. Maze chuckled in her ear and tugged at the loose skin surrounding Linda’s clit, teasing at it gently as Linda squirmed under her on the couch, trying to press more firmly against her.
She withdrew her caressing hand. “You want fingers inside?” she said, her voice soft and deep.
“Please,” Linda said, as Maze brought her fingertips to Linda’s face, touched her lips. She tasted herself and knew what was expected of her, sucking them each in turn and then both together.
“That’s a good girl.” Maze pulled her hand back, shifted her weight slightly, and then Maze’s hand was back between her legs, tracing a saliva-wet line from her clit to her vaginal opening. Linda closed her eyes as she felt Maze’s fingers part her there and plunge deep. “Oh, yes, just like that,” she murmured, grinding herself down against Maze’s knuckles. Despite the acknowledged time constraint, Maze acted like she was in no hurry, continuing to nuzzle and nip at Linda’s throat as her fingers curled inside, finding the sensitive spots and stroking them slowly and deliberately until Linda started to make soft, panting noises, lifting her hips off the couch to meet Maze’s hand.
Maze kept her other hand over Linda’s breast, kneading and squeezing, as she slid down the couch with a sinuous movement of her spine, to kneel on the floor. Linda bit her lip as Maze’s mouth joined her probing fingers under Linda’s skirt; and this was always the part where Linda had to concede Maze’s demonic nature gave her a distinct advantage, because when Maze was eating pussy, oxygen deprivation was definitely a thing that only happened to other people. After finally pulling Linda’s underwear out of the way and tossing it somewhere, Maze got her entire face into it, using all the surfaces of her lips, tongue, and nose to her advantage. Linda bucked and whimpered, throwing both arms over the back of the couch to brace herself.
Maze expertly took her right up to the edge of orgasm twice, pulling back teasingly just before Linda came. Linda almost burst into frustrated tears the second time Maze left her ebbing and unfulfilled, but she knew from experience that when she was finally allowed to climax it would be proportionately earth-shattering. Edging was another thing Maze could do better than anyone. Overall, Linda decided she didn’t mind if that was the form of torture she now preferred.
But apparently that was enough. Maze shifted gears abruptly; Linda heard Maze chuckle just as she slipped a third finger alongside the first two and pressed them in hard, working her tongue and chin against Linda’s clit with fierce efficiency. Linda caught and held her breath and came with enough force to crush Maze’s knuckles together. It was several throbbing seconds before Maze could pull her hand back. “Been working on your Kegels, have you?” Maze asked, sounding duly impressed.
“Yes,” Linda said, breathing hard. “Those eggs you gave me.” The solid silicone spheres were, in fact, in Linda's locked desk drawer. That was the other thing she did with her extra office time.
“Nice.” Maze leaned back, looking deeply pleased with herself, and wiped her chin before leaning in for a kiss. Linda breathed in the afterglow for a moment, before sliding her hand toward the button of Maze’s skintight trousers. Maze laughed, a genuine and pleasant sound. “Good thought, but too late,” she said. “You have thirty seconds to put your shirt back together and fix your hair before Lucifer barges in without knocking.”
“What?” Linda said, straightening up and buttoning her shirt hastily. “He’s here? I didn’t hear his car pull in.”
“I always know where Lucifer is at,” Maze said, rolling her eyes. “When I can be bothered to care, I mean. Not that I do,” she amended quickly. “Care. About Lucifer. Right now. But he would enjoy interrupting us way more than I would enjoy being interrupted by him.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Linda said. "Did you happen to notice where my underwear ended up?" Maze shrugged, and Linda didn't waste time looking. By the time Lucifer opened the (locked) door, she was sitting neatly in her usual chair with Maze lounging on the couch, flipping her knife over her hand and looking bored.
Lucifer took in the scene, although if he had any commentary he wisely kept it to himself while Maze had her weapons out. “I am not,” he said, “having another session with her here. No. Absolutely not.”
“Aw,” said Maze. “That’s too bad, I really want to listen to you whine about Chloe.”
“Maze was just leaving,” Linda said. “Weren’t you, baby?” Lucifer was subjected to the incongruous spectacle of an archdemon of the Lilim and his one-time head torturer enduring an affectionate peck on the cheek from his therapist. “Be good,” Linda added.
“I won’t,” Maze replied, closing the office door.
Lucifer settled himself on the couch, tugging his trouser knees up so he could cross his long legs without spoiling the creases. Linda just watched him for a moment, until finally he said, “So, you and Maze, then? I hope you don’t expect any loyalty from her.”
“She’s more loyal than you give her credit for,” Linda said, evenly. “Anyway, not that it’s any of your business, but no, I don’t expect exclusivity from her. She’s free to spend time with whoever she chooses; I’m happy to enjoy her company when that’s me.”
Lucifer’s tone was skeptical. “Really, Doctor? That doesn’t bother you? It certainly bothered her when you and my brother…”
Linda made a shushing gesture. “Again, not that it’s your concern, but Maze wasn’t upset that Amenadiel and I had… a connection, she was upset we hid it from her. Which was fair, and understandable, and we talked it out.” Lucifer tried and failed to imagine Mazikeen having a long conversation about her feelings as Linda gave him a measured look. “You’re trying to bait me. Why the sudden interest in my personal life, Lucifer?” she asked.
“Do you miss Amenadiel?” he asked, abruptly, reaching for a glass of water, but then swirling it in his hand, looking at it without drinking from it.
Linda knew better than to presume Lucifer was changing the subject. “Yes,” was all she said, inviting him to continue whatever line of thought he was on.
The water glass in Lucifer’s hand continued to be utterly enthralling for him. “Do you wish he’d chosen differently? That he’d stayed?”
“Sometimes,” Linda admitted. “There are things I wish I’d gotten a chance to say to him, conversations we should have had. But I’m human, and Amenadiel is not. I can’t assume he sees things like distance and time and the need for closure the same way as I do.”
“So you think Amenadiel belongs in Heaven,” Lucifer said slowly, finally setting the glass back down.
Linda held up her hand. “I think that Amenadiel thinks that, and I made the choice to respect his judgment,” she clarified. “Now, do you want to tell me what we’re really talking about?” Lucifer hesitated, and Linda guessed, “You and Chloe. She’s expressed interest in you again and you’re thinking of running away. Again.”
“The opposite,” he said gloomily.
Linda’s eyes widened. “The opposite of running away?”
“No, the opposite of expressing interest,” Lucifer said. “She’s been avoiding me ever since our hot tub date…”
“When you told her how you felt about her? Hmm,” Linda said. “How is she avoiding you when you see her every day?”
“All right, she’s not avoiding me, exactly, but she’s been… distant. Burying herself in paperwork, handing me off to her ex-douche when we’re in the middle of working a case together…” He paused. “Not that I mind spending time with Daniel, but the Detective and I, we’re a crime-solving duo! She can’t just bench me. What if she gets into trouble? Or wanders into danger? What if she gets hurt, Doctor, because I’m not there to help?”
Aha, Linda thought. “Is it possible that Chloe has the same concern about you?”
“What? No, of course not. Don’t be absurd,” Lucifer said, but he uncrossed his legs and leaned forward. “She knows who I am, she can’t possibly be more concerned for my safety than she was when she assumed I was human.”
“No?” Linda said. “Lucifer, you can only be hurt when she’s nearby. And now she knows that. You think she doesn’t feel responsible? For every time you’ve been injured here on Earth?”
He blinked. “I hadn’t thought of it that way.” I know you didn't, Linda barely managed not to say aloud. “I know it’s a lot for her to take in, and she’s been doing very well. I can be patient,” Lucifer said. “I want to be patient. Last time I handled this all wrong. I want her to make the right decision, I want her to have all the time she needs to be sure of herself, but…”
“But…?” Linda prompted.
He sighed. “I worry,” he admitted finally. “I’ve done what I can to keep her safe, but it’s been so close, so many times. And even if…” He shook his head. “Someday she’s going to die, and go to Heaven, and then I’ll never see her again.”
“You want her to decide how she feels about you on her own terms, but you can’t help feeling a time pressure.”
“Yes! Exactly, Doctor.”
Linda put her chin on her hands. “Do you wish Chloe could share your immortality?”
“Sometimes,” he began, then reconsidered. “No,” he said firmly, and then when Linda raised a skeptical eyebrow, he repeated, “No. I’ve seen what happens to a mortal soul given infinite life, it’s not pretty. But… sometimes…” He shook his head. “Mortality makes everything so complicated. I wish she could see things the way I see them.”
“Hmm. But you know that’s not possible. So maybe it’s up to you to see things from her perspective,” Linda said. “A mortal perspective,” she added, when Lucifer looked blank. “I don’t think you fully understand what mortality means. Not just eventual death, but also illness, disease, aging. And growth. And change. What has changed about Chloe in the time that she’s known you? What’s changed about you in the time you’ve known her?”
“You mean… oh, my vulnerability? That’s not a perspective, that’s a… that’s my Father’s idea of a prank.”
“But since you can’t alter it, you might as well treat it as an opportunity. A chance to see at least some aspects of life the way mortals see them. Think about the way you only feel when you’re around Chloe,” Linda prompted, and Lucifer’s eyebrows immediately drew together in that way Linda knew entirely too well. She suppressed a sigh and waited for him to get entirely the wrong idea.
“You mean… look, Doctor, I see where you’re going with this, but she hasn’t even agreed to have vanilla sex with me, I don’t think she’d take an invitation to a BDSM session well, do you?”
“Lucifer… that’s not…”
“On the other hand, it’s not as though I haven’t tried everything else. She’s certainly spent long enough with Maze to be aware of the basics if she wasn’t before,” he mused. “Thank you, Doctor, you’ve given me a lot to think about,” he said, standing up. And apparently that was true; Linda’s panties fell out from between the couch cushions as he got up, and such was his level of preoccupation that he didn’t even notice. As he turned to leave, Linda, however, saw something that hadn't been apparent while he was sitting down.
"Wait!" Linda stood up. "Hold on, do you want to tell me about that hole in your jacket?" she asked.
"No," he said, with his hand on the door, like it was a bizarre thing to even ask about.
Linda pressed her fingers to her temples. “At some point, we really should have a discussion about how you’re scheduled for an hour, yet you never stay for more than…” She looked up as the door closed on her empty office. “...ten minutes.” She sighed, retrieved her panties, made sure there wasn’t a wet spot on the back of her skirt, and went back to her tape recorder.
“Now, where was I… ah, yes. Inner and Outer Demons,” she said. “Chapter four outline notes...”
Chapter 4: Devil Fetish
The Szechuan takeout was getting cold and Body Bags 6: Tokyo Fire had been looping its title DVD screen for several minutes. Neither Dan nor Lucifer were paying attention, preoccupied with making out on the couch.
Chapter-specific content warnings: none to speak of, this chapter's mostly smut. Mind the tags. Flagrant takeout abuse, Dan says 'fuck' a lot.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Szechuan takeout was getting cold and Body Bags 6: Tokyo Fire had been looping its title DVD screen for several minutes. Neither Dan nor Lucifer were paying attention, preoccupied with making out on the couch. Dan’s resolve to have a serious talk with Lucifer this time, before anything happened, had lasted about as long as it took to arrange the takeout cartons on the table and sit down in front of the television.
Lucifer had changed his clothes before coming over. There was no trace of a hole in the panel of his jacket, or dust on the knees of his trousers. Not that it made a whole lot of difference, given the alacrity with which Dan had started tugging Lucifer’s shirt out of his waistband and sliding his hands over Lucifer’s chest. We’ll talk, Dan told himself firmly. Afterwards.
“Someone’s eager,” Lucifer said, smiling broadly with Dan’s hands on his belt. “I thought we’d at least get to the first car chase before we started undressing each other.”
That didn’t require a verbal response, so Dan made a physical one instead, leaning back into the couch and pulling Lucifer down on top of him, into an open-mouth kiss. Dan had learned early on that, superpowers notwithstanding, Lucifer was lightly built enough that Dan could manhandle him fairly easily, and that Lucifer enjoyed it, enjoyed feeling Dan's strength.
Dan arched under Lucifer, tangling his legs, bringing their groins together and rubbing shamelessly through layers of fabric. Yeah, clearly Lucifer liked it a lot.
“Do you want me to make a mess of my trousers, Daniel?” Lucifer breathed. “Because that’s where this is headed.”
Dan thought about it. There was a certain appeal to the idea of making the Devil cream his pants like a horny teenager. It gave him a strange, fluttering rush of power for an instant, but of course, Lucifer probably didn’t do his own laundry and the thought of making some third party deal with the stain was decidedly un-sexy, even if they were no doubt used to the way Lucifer treated his clothing. “Pants off,” Dan decreed. “And let’s take it to the bedroom,” he added, clicking the power button for the TV.
Lucifer was the world’s leading expert in getting out of a three-piece quickly, but Dan had the home court advantage and tossed his shirt in the hamper and let his pants fall to the floor while Lucifer was still smoothing out his jacket and slacks to lay them flat on Dan's dresser. Before Lucifer had quite escaped from his shirt and socks, Dan caught him around the waist and flung him bodily onto the bed, eliciting an “oof” and a laugh of surprise.
“On your back,” Dan said. Lucifer obliged, tossing his shirt aside and leaning into the pillows, and Dan settled between his thighs. Before Lucifer, Dan hadn’t sucked cock in nearly twenty years, but he had enough experience to appreciate how Lucifer’s aggressive manscaping made some things easier. He dug his fingers into Lucifer’s thighs, spreading them wider so he could nuzzle into the smooth, loose skin.
Dan had made an earnest effort on previous occasions, but couldn’t fit all of Lucifer’s cock in his mouth when he was fully hard; unlike the Devil, he had a fully operational gag reflex that he was uninterested in training. But he found that he liked the feeling of Lucifer growing aroused, of skin tightening and tender flesh becoming rigid, the way Lucifer’s thighs and buttocks would tense and quiver under his hands as he worked him to erection. He spent some time sucking each of Lucifer’s balls, using enough force to make him groan and clutch at Dan’s bedspread, then returned his attention to Lucifer’s cock, swiping his tongue nimbly across the glans under the foreskin and then sucking firmly and aggressively. Lucifer hardened quickly under this treatment and Dan kept sucking right up to the point where it was uncomfortable.
“Are you going to finish me off that way?” Lucifer asked, curious. “Because you can. You’re getting very good at that.”
“No,” Dan said, wiping his mouth. “I want you to make it on my cock like you did that first time.”
This was apparently the right suggestion. Lucifer stretched and nearly purred. “Mmm,” Lucifer said, closing his eyes. “So good to hear that’s the sort of mood you’re in. I should admit that I may have gone to some trouble to ensure that the Detective is on the other side of the city tonight.”
Dan made a face, remembering how their first encounter had been brought up short by Chloe walking in unexpectedly. “Yeah, still sorry about that.”
“Make it up to me,” Lucifer suggested, raising his knees invitingly, exposing himself. Dan was already hard, but the sight of Lucifer splayed out like that for his use sent a piercing throb of lust straight from his hindbrain to his dick. He scooted forward, kneeling between Lucifer’s thighs, then scooped his hands under Lucifer’s hips. “Ooh,” Lucifer said. “Showy,” as Dan half-lifted Lucifer onto his erection and lunged his hips forward, fast and smooth, entering him forcefully enough to make them both gasp.
“Fuck,” Dan said. Lucifer’s wringing heat engulfed him, and he held still for as long as he could, supporting Lucifer’s ass in the cradle of his hands. “Ready?” he said, unnecessarily, but Lucifer nodded with his eyes closed and Dan gave him a slow thrust, followed by another. That was about all he could manage before his arms started to tremble, so he put Lucifer’s legs over his shoulders, squared up against him, and continued to work himself slowly in and out, holding back, more for his own self-reassurance than Lucifer's benefit.
Dan had never been encouraged to make a thing out of it, but he knew he was above average in size; his whole sexual life up to this point had been defined by being gentle, slow, careful. Accepting there were things he just couldn’t do comfortably with some partners. Having penetrative sex that was defined by his own physical limits, instead of someone else’s, had awakened something in Dan, something primal. Something he was both addicted to and a little frightened of. With Lucifer, Dan could go as hard and fast as he was capable of and never have to worry about hurting him. Or, well, almost never. “So how close to Chloe do you have to be before you’re vulnerable?” Dan asked suddenly, not breaking rhythm. He still wasn’t used to this much talking during sex, but it did help him last longer.
Lucifer’s breath quickened as he moved his hips in counter to Dan’s thrusts. “Varies a little, not sure why. Maximum seems to be around four hundred meters, give or take.”
“Hmmm,” Dan said. It came out as more of a grunt than a contemplative hum. “About a quarter mile. That’s farther than I thought.”
“Why, what are you thinking about?” Lucifer asked. “Oh… yes, there, just like that, please.” Lucifer’s cock, untouched, was trailing a thin line of clear fluid already across his belly.
Dan shifted his grip to Lucifer’s thighs and began moving a little faster, leaning into Lucifer’s legs for leverage. The sight of himself pumping in and out of Lucifer’s ass was almost more than he could take, so he shifted his gaze to Lucifer’s face instead, but his look of internal concentration was just as pornographic, if not more so. Dan closed his eyes and let Lucifer have a few short, sharp thrusts, before he went back to his smoother rhythm. “Just thinking about how much more of this you could feel if Chloe was here.”
Lucifer laughed, and Dan could feel it in the way Lucifer briefly tightened around him. “I feel plenty,” he assured Dan. “But you should talk to her about it; she had the same idea when this first started.”
Dan faltered as he absorbed this fact. “Really?” Not that he’d ever asked when they were together, but Chloe just didn’t seem like the threesome type. Then again, Dan had to admit, if you’d told him three years ago that he’d say I want you to make it on my cock to the Devil himself and mean every word of it, he’d have… he’d have... yeah, there wasn’t even a hypothetical reaction to that, it was so far outside the realm of anything that version of Dan considered a possibility.
“Truly,” Lucifer said. “Specifically, she… ah… she mentioned she might be interested in watching us together. I said I’d try to persuade you but I honestly hadn’t thought of it until just now. Don’t stop,” he warned Dan, whose rhythm had slipped again while he thought about Chloe watching him. With Lucifer. Doing this. “Mmm,” Lucifer said, rocking against Dan. “Feels like you’re persuaded already.”
Dan wasn’t sure about that, but he could feel that he was flushed red from hairline to nipples, although whether it was from embarrassment, arousal, or exertion was hard to determine. “Was Chloe high when she made this suggestion?” he demanded.
“A little tipsy, is all,” Lucifer said, his voice made oddly arrhythmic by Dan’s increasingly urgent thrusting. “There was champagne. But she wasn’t drunk, she drove herself home a few hours later. Oh, yes, Daniel, do that,” he added, breathlessly.
Dan wanted him a lot more breathless than that. “Turn over,” he said, pulling out carefully to give him space to move around. “That’s enough of a warmup.”
“Of course,” Lucifer agreed, getting his legs under himself and spreading his knees. He put his hands on the headboard and braced himself. Dan was done holding back; he lined himself up with Lucifer’s entrance again, checked the angle with a slow thrust, and when Lucifer bucked under him involuntarily he knew he was hitting a good spot. He leaned forward, locked his arms around Lucifer’s shoulders, and started to pound him as hard as he could, hard enough that it ached exquisitely and Dan knew he was going to be sore all over tomorrow.
“Conversation over?” Lucifer gasped, knowing that trying to continue talking would just make Dan try to fuck him harder, which he immediately proceeded to do, mustering some reserve of ferocity from somewhere and putting it to him savagely. With a snarl of effort, Dan actually sank his teeth into Lucifer’s shoulder. Of course, it didn’t hurt and it left no marks, but Lucifer felt the pressure and appreciated the gesture. He moaned, pushing back against Dan, urging him to go for it, and he did, fucking him hard enough to move the entire bed out of alignment and slam the bedframe repeatedly into the wall.
“You should get some padding for that,” Lucifer managed. “Unless you want complaints from the neighbors.”
“Let them complain,” Dan panted. “They have a yappy little dog.” Lucifer just groaned in response, finally past words, and Dan’s lips curved in a smile, feeling Lucifer tense around him in that familiar way that meant he was right on the edge. Lucifer let go with a shuddering moan, arching underneath Dan, who went still as Lucifer’s orgasm rippled around him, shuddering and panting with the glorious effort of it all. After a panting, shivering interlude, Dan didn’t so much pull out as stop resisting Lucifer’s body trying to push him out.
Dan rolled onto his side and Lucifer dropped onto his elbows, panting. “Brilliant, Daniel,” he said. “Absolutely brilliant.” He eyed Dan askance, glittering darkly. “Want to go again?” he suggested.
Dan laughed, feeling the burn of exertion in his abs and lower back shoot straight down to his groin. His cock twitched in response, looking rather raw and red and abused as it softened. “That’s all I’ve got, I think,” he said. “Fuck, you’re gonna kill me that way. Not that I mind,” he added.
“I’m starting to suspect denial is a thing for you,” Lucifer said, amused. “Unfortunately, mutual satisfaction is a thing of mine. What if we try something gentler?” Lucifer leaned over and took Dan’s cock into his mouth, and Dan made a startled sound.
Dan's lips twitched in flash of revulsion. He struggled for a moment and found his words. “O-... okay, dude, not that I don’t appreciate it, but, uh, that’s kind of gross.” Although he didn't push Lucifer away.
Lucifer chuckled, a very odd sensation in mid-blowjob, and disengaged long enough to say, “Really? It was my arse.” He smoothed his hand over Dan’s cock, pulling the skin tight, and licked him firmly, base to tip. “Clean as a whistle. You could eat your dinner from there,” he said, then thoughtfully added, “provided it didn’t have sharp edges that might complicate retrieval. No lobster.” He paused. “Oh, you know what, pudding…?”
“Stop talking,” Dan said. “Don’t ruin pudding for me, I’ll never forgive yo-... unggh,” he broke off in a moan as Lucifer’s mouth engulfed the head of his cock again, and he did something with his tongue that made Dan keep any further reservations to himself. “Fuck,” he whispered, and closed his eyes.
Lucifer’s mouth was soft and wet and almost soothing, lips and tongue working him from tip to base and back, but as Dan’s cock stirred back to full engorgement, even the Devil had to struggle to take him all in. Dan’s girth forced him to go slowly, and as a result, Dan lasted a lot longer than he would have believed, as close as he’d been moments ago. Even the feeling of Lucifer taking him into his throat wasn’t quite enough to get him back to the edge.
Lucifer pulled away, leaving Dan’s cock feeling wet and exposed for a moment as he licked his fingers and pressed them between Dan’s ass cheeks. “Wait,” Dan said in alarm, but Lucifer didn’t try to penetrate, just rubbed his asshole gently with slick fingers while he resumed his leisurely rhythm, sucking Dan’s cock without urgency, and the light, teasing pressure there was somehow more erotic than actually being finger-fucked would have been. Dan’s orgasm, lying in wait for minutes now, snuck up on him with startling rapidity after that.
Dan let it happen, surging into Lucifer’s mouth with a shuddering groan. Lucifer worked him through it, sucking firmly through the first few spasms, then more gently, right up to the point where Dan couldn’t handle any more stimulation. Before Dan had to ask him to stop, he gave the tip of Dan’s cock an almost affectionate lick and settled back onto the pillow beside him, looking pleased with himself. “Oh my… Devil,” Dan barely caught himself, as he ran his fingers gently through Lucifer’s hair, waking the curl in it.
Lucifer sighed, the picture of utter contentment, features relaxed into a near-smile, eyes closed, his carefully-maintained stubble itching Dan’s thigh where he was using it as a pillow. It was hard to imagine that this moment could exist in the same universe as the moment earlier today when they’d been shot at. By an unlikely hitter, targeting Lucifer specifically.
Dan groaned as reality intruded on his afterglow. He still didn’t know how to even begin to start talking about it. “Can I see your other face again?” Dan asked instead, abruptly.
Lucifer made a soft, surprised sound. “Why on Earth would you want to?”
“I keep thinking about it,” Dan admitted. “Just remembering how frightened I was when I saw it that first time. I know I panicked, almost passed out, but I don’t remember why. You just looked scarred. A scarred man with weird eyes.”
“It’s all a bit metaphysical,” Lucifer said. “It’s not what I look like, it’s what I am. The Devil, a punisher. A monster. Why would you want to see that again? Or even think about it?”
“I know what you are,” Dan said. “And your other face is... well, it’s unsettling, but it’s not…” He shook his head. “I don’t like how I reacted to you. I would never freak out like that at someone who was burned, no matter how bad it was.”
Lucifer laughed, a sharp delighted sound. “No, I’m not making fun of you,” he said to Dan’s hurt expression. “It speaks well of you, truly, that you'd even try to see me that... innocuously. But the reaction isn't something you can help. Think of it as my menacing aura.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Dan complained. “How can I be that afraid of something for no reason?”
Lucifer propped himself up on his elbow again, regarding Dan as he sought Dan’s hand with his own. Their fingers entwined. Dan’s heart melted a little; Lucifer was always somewhat ill-at-ease with physical affection outside of sex. Dan stroked Lucifer’s knuckles with his other hand, thinking he was seeking comfort, until Lucifer’s dark eyes flickered and began to glow a deep ember-red. Dan’s breath caught and his heart started pounding in his chest.
The Devil’s eyes bored into him, awakening terror first, followed by guilt, so much guilt; every lie he’d ever told, every harsh word he’d ever spoken carelessly, every time he’d been cruel or petty or vindictive in his life. The Lord of Hell could call it all forth at will, and the same impulse that had made Driscoll dive out of the control tower to escape would have made Dan fling himself into the nightstand if Lucifer hadn’t still been holding his hand and brought him up short.
“Fuck,” Dan gasped. “Fuck,” he said again as Lucifer squeezed his hand and let him go.
“And that was just the eyes,” Lucifer said, a little mournfully.
Dan took a deep, steadying breath, centering himself. “Do it again,” he said.
Lucifer blinked. “I'm sorry, what?”
“Change your eyes again,” Dan said. “Please.”
“I’m not sure I like where this masochistic streak is taking you, Daniel,” Lucifer said, an edge creeping into his voice.
Dan took another deep breath, which he let out slowly through his nose. “It’s not that,” he said. “It’s… look, I locked up today. If we’re going to keep,” Dan hesitated, “working together, I need to find some way to deal with the Devil stuff when we’re on a case. Or if there’s just no way not to react to it, I need to know that, too.”
Lucifer just looked at him, for what felt like a very long time. When Dan had looked briefly into the Devil's eyes, it had felt like Dan was judging himself; this assessment felt very different. Finally Lucifer said, “Give me your hands. And close your eyes.” Dan obeyed. “All right,” Lucifer said, after a pause, “I’ve done it.”
“I don’t feel anything,” Dan said, which wasn’t strictly true, but he didn’t think his sense of unease had anything to do with Lucifer’s eyes. “Oh. Oh, I see. Your… aura doesn’t work if I’m not looking at you? That explains…” Dan was thinking of the Sinnerman’s patsy, who had gouged his own eyes out rather than talk to Lucifer. Of course, that seemed like an extreme reaction, if just closing them would work just as well. “Or… maybe not.”
Lucifer must have guessed what he was thinking. “I can compel you,” Lucifer said, reluctantly, “to look me in the eyes. But I won't, if we're working.”
“Ah,” Dan said, uncertain whether Lucifer had ever actually done that to him, and unwilling to ask. “Um. Can you do the face?” Lucifer didn’t say anything, but the hands Dan was holding got warmer and drier. Inhumanly warm, just this side of uncomfortable to touch. Dan pulled one hand gently away and lifted it to where he thought Lucifer’s face was. Dan touched Lucifer’s jaw. His heart was still beating fast, but he wasn’t stricken with guilt or collapsing in panic as his fingers made contact, tracing Lucifer’s jawline from cheek to cleft chin. From the raw, wounded appearance he remembered, he expected it to be tacky or rough, but the skin was hot and dry and smooth. Strangely soft, like the flesh was thinner than on Lucifer’s human face. Dan pressed his fingers down uncertainly. “Does this hurt?”
“No,” Lucifer whispered, as Dan continued walking his fingertips over the strange topography, mapping unfamiliar furrows and hollows and ridges over the bone structure he knew. Lucifer wouldn’t lie, but he was acting like it was painful to be touched; Dan could hear him catch and hold his breath whenever Dan’s fingers made prolonged contact.
Dan’s eyes had been closed the whole time but he squeezed them even more firmly shut, just in case, and leaned in for what would have been a tender kiss if the Devil hadn’t pulled away suddenly. Lucifer seemed so human most of the time, it was easy to forget how quick he could be if he chose, and the abrupt movement almost made Dan open his eyes in surprise.
“Don’t,” Lucifer said, “please.” Dan froze, unsure which direction to move, and after a moment Lucifer wearily said “You can look.”
“I’m sorry,” Dan began, although he wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for.
“You’re curious, of course you are. It’s… fine,” Lucifer said, and there was still just enough of a hesitation to indicate that it was not fine. “It’s nothing,” he amended.
Dan looked into Lucifer’s eyes, and for once it was Lucifer who broke eye contact. “Hasn’t anyone ever…?” But as Dan started to form the question, he realized he knew the answer; it was a short list indeed of humans who understood who Lucifer truly was. Possibly no one ever had tried what Dan had just done.
“Not like that,” Lucifer said, softly.
“But this is good, right?” Dan said. “You can’t aura me if I can’t see you. That means I can touch you. Or I could, if you wanted me to. Hypothetically.”
Lucifer exhaled so sharply he must have been holding his breath. “Ah, so this is about your Devil fetish,” he said, forcing a tone of wry amusement back in his voice. Dan sensed the effort.
“No,” Dan said. “Well, a little, maybe. Mostly I just...” Dan tried again. “You know I'm here for you, right? I..."
“Of course. By my side, up my arse,” Lucifer interrupted.
“Yeah... that too,” Dan said. He shook his head. "Knowing someone out there wants you dead, and knows you can be killed when Chloe's near you, doesn’t that bother you?”
Lucifer looked at him blankly. “Daniel,” Lucifer began, then stopped, lifting a hand to Dan’s face. “Close your eyes.” Dan did, and he managed to keep them closed, even when he felt the hand change. He felt Lucifer shift his weight on the bed, and then hot, smooth lips brushed against his. Dan opened his mouth and got a tender swipe of tongue, and the faint taste of iron and sulfur. Then Lucifer pulled back, and his hands were soft and manicured again. “Come on,” he said. “The gōngbǎo jīdīng can be reheated, I’m feeling a bit peckish.”
It wasn't until after the movie, when Lucifer had left and Dan was putting the leftovers away, that he realized he still hadn't told Lucifer the thing he'd meant to say. Oh well, he thought. Next time. He gazed deeply into the carton of almond chicken, trying it out. "Hey," he said. "I think I might be falling in love with you, and that seems like a disaster for several reasons. I like what we have and I don't want to pressure you or anything, but if you could just tell me where you see this going, that would be great." The almond chicken remained unmoved. Dan sighed. He got the feeling he shouldn't expect a lasting relationship with the fried rice, either.
Next chapter, "Skip To the Fun Part", featuring Maze, Linda, Ella, Chloe and a tiki bar, will be up... soon. Thanks for any comments/kudos/bookmarks/passing good vibes in the meanwhile, that sort of thing is grist for the editing mill.