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Like Ashes in the Wind

Chapter Text

Previously on “Reverence for Life”

“There is virtually no information on this Lucifer Morningstar before he came to LA six years ago. He opened the night club Lux only a few months later.”

“The BAU would like to have you as an on-call civilian consultant.”

“Oh, Agent Hotchner. What a way to propose to a simple devil, but I must ask: don’t you have questions?”

“I have about a hundred.”

 “I am the devil! Lucifer, the bloody morning star, gifted with the task of ruling Hell. Cast from Heaven to become the jailer and torturer of wayward souls… Change of heart, Agent Hotchner?”

“No.”

“Coming to Earth was the best decision I ever made. If everything works out, and my people agree to it and your FBI is fine with it, I’ll be part of your team and I’ll come to Washington DC in order to help you on cases.”

“To our latest member, Lucifer Morningstar. Welcome! It is good to have you with us.”

“Welcome to Astra! Lux’ sister club.”

 

 “Will?”

“I can’t stand you being on this case and me not being near. Not with what’s going on, JJ.”

“Is there a problem?”

“I’m pregnant.”  


“Mom, mom! The house is on fire! Dad! Mikey, wake up!” Jake stormed into his parents’ bedroom, his heart pounding in his chest. This could not be happening.

Both of his parents jumped out of the bed, clearly realizing that he was not joking.

“Go with your mother! I’m getting Mikey. Go!” His dad ran toward Mikey’s room, and his mother pulled him to her before grabbing his hand and going downstairs. It was hot, and the smoke made his eyes burn so badly he could hardly see anything. He started to cough, but followed without question. His mother suddenly stopped and pushed him back.

“Mom, we’ve got to get out.”

“It’s all on fire. Come on, we’ve got to jump out of the bedroom window!” she replied and pushed him back. In that moment, Dad crashed through the door with Mikey by his side.

“Simon, go back! There’s no way down!” She roared through the fire and inhaled too much smoke, which caused her to cough and breathe raggedly. The surrounding heat was starting to burn on his skin.

“Mom, come on, get up!” shouted Jake and tried to pull her up.

“Laura!” Dad exclaimed worriedly and rushed over to help, which caused his foot to break through the wooden baseplate, and before Dad could regain balance, he broke through the railing and right into the flames beneath.

Dad’s scream had them all petrified.

“Si-“ a hacking cough interrupted his mother’s scream.

“DAD!” he heard Mikey scream. Or was it him?

In that moment, Jake knew what he had to do. He looked down at his mother whose eyes were filled with tears, but they both knew.

“Go,” she breathed.

Coughing, he rushed forward and pulled Mikey back into his room.

“Jake, let me go! Mom!” he shouted.

“Come on, buddy, we gotta get out of here. Window!”

“No! Mom!”

With that, his incredibly agile little brother just slid right past him.

“Mikey!” He ran after him, but heard a crack beneath his feet, and something crashed. Then, there was nothing.


“Mikey, get out of here!” he shouted at his brother, but somehow, he was unable to actually move. “Mikey!”

“He can’t actually hear you, you know,” said an unfamiliar voice. He turned and looked at an Asian girl whose very appearance screamed ‘dorky.’

Why on Earth was he afraid?

“Don’t worry, I have that effect on people. Come on! We’re late. And I have so much to do like you wouldn’t believe. This month has been awful.”

“Go where? Who are you? Where’s Mikey? Where are we?”

“He’s over there,” said the girl and only then did Jake realize that they were standing outside. Mikey was there as well, lying beneath their parents’ bedroom window, unconscious, and obviously hurt.

He wanted to go to him, but could not move.

“It’s okay. He’ll live,” said the girl.

Something about the way she said it made him shudder. Her dark eyes met his and he knew.

“Am I dead?” he asked, feeling like crying but somehow not feeling the familiar sensation of burning tears or his breath hitching.

“Yeah,” said the girl solemnly. “Sorry.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Come on, your parents are waiting and boy, your Mom doesn’t like waiting.”

Oh yeah, he knew that.

“Mikey-“ he choked.

“Mikey is gonna be fine. Believe me. My big bro’s gonna make sure of that.”

“Your big brother?”

Despite her innocent expression and looks, this sounded ominous.

“Yeah. Lu is gonna take care of this mess.”

“Who’s Lu?”

But she just grabbed him unceremoniously and moments later, he was with his parents in front of a beautiful, welcoming gate that opened for them. He saw the Light and then he knew no more.


“Thanks again, Lucifer,” said Derek, his smile wide and his posture relaxed. “Do you have any idea how much money you could make in construction?” Earlier today, Lucifer had overheard a conversation between Derek and Reid about renting machinery for one of his properties to remove three very unstable, very heavy steel beams, Lucifer had offered to do it for him. Less than two hours after driving him to the property, the job was done, Derek had saved a lot of money, and he was now invited to the best club in town (not that they were not always invited, but still, the point counted). His day could not have been better.

“Do I look like a crane to you?” was the sarcastic answer.

“Well, you know, angels and wings-“ Derek replied good-naturedly, flopping his arms like a bird.

“The machine, not the animal, Agent Morgan,” Lucifer countered, exhaling a long-suffering sigh. “Besides, I cut my wings off, so I have no residual resemblance with a bird.”

Derek stopped mid-walk and apologized to the person behind him that accidentally walked into him as a result.

“What?” whispered Derek.

“My wings,” said Lucifer slowly. “They no longer exist. Well, they do, in a DC storage facility of my choice, but they’re not actually on my person anymore. I asked Mazikeen to cut them off.”

“What?” repeated Derek, stunned and horrified.

The devil just looked at him, puzzled, “Agent Morgan, are you okay? You’re usually not so slow.”

“Lucifer, why? You hurt yourself… Why?”

The wings had not come up in conversation before aside from the occasional, indirect angel metaphor. They had discussed so many things: the existence of intelligent life outside of Earth (“I can neither confirm nor deny, but then technically, most demons and angels don’t live on the physical plane, so yes, there is intelligent life away from Earth. More and less intelligent life, respectively.”), the creation of the stars (“Oh, they’re my pride and joy. The pride part is a problem, admittedly, but they’re the best thing I’ve ever made. Ironic, given that I made them when I was basically a toddler. Now, let me just tell you that I used both cold and hot fusion for the creation of the stars. Raguel created the matter and energy that I used to form them properly. Specifically, I condensed the evenly distributed atoms and formed the galaxies. From there, I focally increased the density and then used that in order to create gravitational contraction... and then I just made them. It was a lot of work, but Amenadiel slowed everything around us, so that we could work in peace.”) and Earth-related questions like the extinction of the dinosaurs (“Yes, that… Dad kind of thought it was time to redecorate Earth.”), the existence of Shakespeare (“Of course, he wrote them. Lovely man!”), JFK (“Don’t know. I wasn’t here. Chances are that the people responsible are in Hell for murder, but I don’t know who it was specifically. People kill each other all the time.”) and the Stonehenge (“Loki played a prank on Ana; that chaotic menace could never stay at one place.”). And everytime he answered a question, they had about two dozen additional ones (so far, they knew about the existence of at least a few Celtic, Norse, Greek, Egyptian and Roman Gods, but they were still clueless about how that actually worked and if they were still around. Reid was working on the questionnaire and timeline for that). While they also had more than one indication that the entire Celestial Family was an unspeakable mess, they somehow never discussed the wings.

’The Lord of Hell must be an angel with wings of might.’ While I’m honestly tempted to simply thrust a bucket of McDonald’s chicken wings at my siblings and shout ‘you’re it’, what this rule actually says, is that only an archangel can be Lord of Hell. Now, I cannot change who I am. Fallen or not, I belong to Dad’s first angels. So there was only one thing I could change.”

“You cut off your wings,” concluded Derek, absolutely horrified.

“Well, Mazikeen did, but yes. It was the only way to make perfectly clear that I rejected the mantle as Lord of Hell,” said he, so matter-of-fact that Derek felt like shaking him.

“You cut off a limb, Lucifer, the pain-“ he could no longer speak. In his line of work, he had unfortunately met several people who mourned the loss of a limb, be it from a bomb or a sadistic UnSub. He could not imagine what Lucifer had to have gone through. There was that expression in his friend’s eyes that Derek had come to detest. It was that serene, ancient “If only you knew” expression that was usually followed by a comment that never failed to make him cry inside and curse God with words for which his grandmother would have had his hide.

“Agent Morgan,” said Lucifer softly. “I was cast out of Heaven and the resulting wounds are almost as fresh as they were right after I ended up in Hell. Believe me, cutting my wings off hurt Mazikeen so much more than me.”

Derek exhaled sharply. If he ever met one of Lucifer’s siblings or his parents, he would kick their feathery, arrogant asses (and be smitten into ashes in retaliation, but damn it, this was not fair).

“Lucifer, I-“ But then out of the corner of his eyes, he caught something that called his cop instincts into action, and he was on full alert.

There was a tall African American man in his late forties, conservatively dressed in black. He had apparently stepped out of his car to get coffee and two muffins and was on his way back; his daughter was on the wheel, but she seemed to have forgotten to put the car into park because it continued to roll a few feet right into the intersection, while she was distracted, probably by her phone. A large pickup truck did not notice the car and was moments away from T-boning it.

“Michelle!”

Instinctively, Derek grabbed the man and pulled him to the side before he ran right into the middle of the crash. The man was as tall and of similar built as Derek and his panic caused him to put up one hell of a fight. It was like trying to subdue a rabid dog, and it was only Derek’s training that allowed him to wrestle the man to the ground.

“Stop! It’s too late, man!” he shouted.

“Michelle!”

Derek was momentarily distracted when the expected sound of two cars crashing together did not come. He heard the high-pitched sound of tires squealing, but he did not hear the scraping of metal on metal. The man instantly used his distraction and pushed Derek from him to run to his daughter.

It was all over by the time Derek looked up.

There was Lucifer, right between the two cars. He had to have pushed or somehow levitated the pickup to the side, so that the cars had come to a halt in parallel to each other. The driver of the truck jumped out of the vehicle, trembling from the adrenaline rush, and the girl, still in the driver’s seat was crying. The father rushed to the other side of the car and pulled her out from the passenger seat. Derek, cop-instincts in overdrive, started to guide traffic to make sure that nobody accidentally hurt the civilians on the street. It did not take two minutes and a DC cop arrived to help him, so that he could focus on the scene. The father was holding his crying daughter, who kept apologizing for not paying attention and that this was all her fault and that she would never drive again, never ever. Meanwhile, Lucifer waved away the pickup driver’s concerns impatiently.

“Are you sure you’re okay, man? I was driving at 28 mph when I saw that car. It came out of nowhere! I thought for sure that-“

Derek stepped in between, “Everything’s fine. This was an accident, Mr…?”

“Clarkson. Alfred Clarkson,” said the man, his focus now on Derek. “I swear I didn’t-“

“Why don’t you exchange your insurance card with Mr.-Sorry, I don’t know-“

“Lawrence,” said the father softly. He was holding his daughter close. “My name is Frank Lawrence and this is my daughter Michelle.” He offered his hand, which Mr. Clarkson shook readily.

“You saved me,” whispered the girl, staring at Lucifer. “You were suddenly there and you… How did y-?”

Lucifer’s stance was stiff, his eyes on the teenager with that familiar, wary expression he always wore whenever non-adults addressed him.

“Yeah, man,” whispered Mr. Clarkson. “I didn’t know the car could turn that fast. I’m just glad you-“

“Look,” replied Lucifer, prickly. “I am fine. The girl’s fine and you didn’t do anything wrong. Breathe and relax. Now Agent Morgan said something about exchanging insurance cards…”

Lucifer may not lie, but if there was one thing the team had learned in the last couple of months of working with him, was that the devil had perfected the art of bluffing and deflection. Mr. Clarkson immediately responded to the dismissal, exchanged insurance cards and personal information with Mr. Lawrence, told Michelle that he was glad nothing happened, and walked back to his truck in order to drive away. Meanwhile, the cop, Ben Trevor, made sure that Mr. Lawrence drove the car to an actual parking spot nearby and released his tight grip on the traffic. Less then five minute later, Officer Trevor also drove away.

Lucifer looked after the cop, his expression distant, then turned back to face Mr. Lawrence, his daughter Michelle and Derek.

Mr. Lawrence used the pause to address him, “I hope I didn’t hurt you, Agent Morgan.”

“Nah, man, don’t worry, I’m fine. It’s Derek, by the way. I’m off duty.”

“Hurt?” repeated Lucifer, his tone of voice icy, and the experienced profiler was reminded just how protective their favorite angel was of the team.

“Lucifer,” addressed him Derek gently, “I know, but just imagine if Amenadiel had held you back while I was in that car. What would you have done?”

They had learned that the easiest way to clarify a point was to actively put Lucifer into the shoes of whoever he needed to empathize with, because while he knew almost the whole spectrum of human emotion, he was sometimes blind to his own emotions, which in turn blocked his ability to understand a stranger’s feelings. He was incredibly quick on the uptake, however. Lucifer’s eyes softened, and he nodded, his eyes on Mr. Lawrence.

Whatever he saw in that expression made him sigh.

“Don’t. The alternative would have been to let her die, which is not a valid option, so forget about it.”

“Let me shake your hand, Mr.-“

And there was the suave club owner, smile wide and eyes gleaming with amusement, “Lucifer. Morningstar. My pleasure.”

He had probably, correctly, counted on shock value, but the effect was not as planned. Michelle gasped, “Oh my God.”

“Related, but no-“ Lucifer began, rolling his eyes as he always did when people were calling his father’s name in vain, which the team teased him for occasionally (when it was deemed safe): That he was the one insisting on following the Third Commandment, even though there was no moral component to that rule, to which Lucifer usually replied that he had made up that rule in order to stop hearing his father’s name at every turn and that it was obviously time for another round of plagues to make sure the rules stuck this time around.

He was joking, of course.

They hoped.

“He’s the one Shandra has been talking about!” exclaimed Michelle, her tears dried on her cheeks and the shock from her accident temporarily forgotten.

“Shandra Keaton?” inquired Lucifer, and if Reid had not confirmed to him that Lucifer’s ability to remember things was absolute (and inhuman), Derek would have asked him how he did it.

“Yes!” confirmed Michelle, grinning widely. “Wow, you’re good! She said she met you once for only a few minutes.”

“Of course I remember her, Pubescent Human,” replied Lucifer and Michelle was taken aback by his address of her. “Berklee College of Music Graduate. Wonderful voice, but she must be twice your age.”

“We sing in the same choir,” answered Michelle. “She’s our best solo singer. Dad is the best church pianist in town.” There was definite pride in her voice as she said that.

Her father looked down at her fondly, “I don’t know about that-

“But Shandra said that Mr. Morningstar is even better at making the piano just another part of a choir,” continued the teenage girl matter-of-factly, completely missing the amusement in the adults’ eyes, or the way Mr. Lawrence and the devil were seizing each other up.

“And how exactly does a devout lady like Ms. Keaton end up singing in my club that your church would undoubtedly call a cesspool of vice?” asked Lucifer, both amused and mildly offended.

“Oh please, any place with live music good enough to have Shandra rave about it for weeks must be touched by the Light. Daniel, our director, always says that music is nothing but divine Light for the blind,” replied Michelle dismissively.

Lucifer was left speechless in the face of this resolute statement before he said very quietly, “It seems like your director is a very wise man.”

“Oh, I would love to go to your club,” she continued enthusiastically. “I’ve wanted to come since Shandra talked about it, but I’m sixteen!” she sighed.

After a moment of silence, Lucifer said, “If that is what you desire, it can be arranged. Tuesday evenings are usually very quiet. Ms. Keaton, you and your… choir friends are welcome as long as,” his voice had a decided edge to it, “you refrain from singing gospel at Astra. If you cannot sing without praising some form of divinity,” he growled, “stick to Jesus and leave me out of it.”

“What do you mean?” asked Michelle, confused, but Mr. Lawrence had understood immediately.

“Of course,” said he. “Thank you for your generous offer, Mr. Morningstar, and we will certainly refrain from singing gospel in your home.” Something about his warm expression made Derek think that he saw through Lucifer’s prickly, slightly antagonistic demeanour and his masks right into that bright soul that was hidden beneath years of pain. “Is there any way for us to contact you? We would not wish to intrude without announcing our visit.”

Lucifer seemed to be taken aback by the fact that neither Mr. Lawrence nor his daughter appeared to be intimidated by him.

He reached into the inside of his suit, pulled out his wallet and handed over his personal FBI-issued business card, which he had accepted from Hotch with as much glee as his badge. He was ridiculously happy with the plain business card, and in the beginning, they had to curb his need to either hand out his card or show his badge at every opportunity.

Mr. Lawrence took it before reaching out, covering Lucifer’s outstretched hand with his.

“Thank you,” he whispered. “You don’t know-I don’t know how t-“

“No debts, Mr. Lawrence, no IOUs. Not for preventing needless loss of life,” was the solemn response, and Derek had come to love that smooth, calm, angelic tone of voice that he often assumed when he was at peace with himself and the world.

“She’s my everything,” was the fervent response.

Lucifer just nodded, “It wasn’t just her life I was talking about. Until we meet again, Mr. Lawrence. Pubescent Human,” He nodded to Michelle. “Give my best to Ms. Keaton. Tell her that I’m looking forward to hearing her sing again. Good night.”

“Good night, Mr. Morningstar!” said Michelle. “Good night, Agent Morgan. Thank you!”

Derek shook hands with Mr. Lawrence – ‘Frank, please, if you insist on being called Derek’– and hurried to catch up with Lucifer.

“They’re very bright, aren’t they?” asked the devil quietly. “They both have music in their very soul. You all have, but it’s different with true musicians. His soul’s a symphony and hers is growing to be just as bright.”

Before Derek could ask for details, his phone rang and he sighed, “This is Morgan.”

“Hi Morgan,” greeted him JJ, and he already knew what this regretful tone meant before she gave any details.“I know it’s late, but we have a case in Woodland, Washington State. We have three families killed in suspicious fires within one month. Briefing in one hour and we’ll have to fly out tonight.”

“We’re on our way. Lucifer’s with me, so there’s no need to call him. See you soon.”

Chapter Text

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” 

― Tennessee Williams,  The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore


Dave stepped into the briefing room. As much as he loved this job and had come to deeply respect and love the people he was working with, driving to Quantico at 9 o’clock on a Friday evening was a bit much. Everybody else was already there and they all greeted him.

“Apologies for calling you in, but we have a case that needs our immediate attention,” began Hotch, calm as ever, but Dave knew that the unit chief would have had Jack tonight and that could not have been an easy decision, especially after things between Haley and Aaron were finally back on friendly terms after the divorce. “JJ?”

JJ rose from her seat, still elegant despite her seven months of pregnancy.

“We’re going to Washington State. Woodland is a small town near Portland, Oregon, with only 6000 people. On May 6, a fire killed a family of four,” she showed them the images of the scene. “Michael, 48, Helena, 43, Stephanie, 17, and Marc Clarkson, eleven years old. Very tragic. Marc was the only person recovered alive from the scene, but he died as a result of smoke inhalation the next day in the hospital. He didn’t suffer any burns. Both Stephanie and Helena were trapped in the fire; they suffered from severe burns, but cause of death was also determined to be smoke inhalation. Now Michael’s body was so badly burned that it is unclear whether he died from the burns or smoke inhalation, and the inconclusive results as well as the fact that Michael Clarkson lost his job only a few days before-“

“Murder-suicide by fire,” breathed Emily, her eyes wide and appropriately horrified.

“That was the conclusion of the local police until, twenty days later,” she switched to the next slide with similar crime scene photos, “the Kilian family also died in a fire. Demographics are very similar: Richard, 45, Anna, 41, Zoe, 19 and John Kilian, 12,” she showed recent photos of the victims before switching to their bodies. “Clark County Fire and Rescue determined that two different types of accelerants were used in the two fires, which speaks against an arsonist given that they usually stick to their MO.”

“But victimology clearly shows a lot of similarities…” protested Emily.

“Yes, which is why the police is investigating. Two tragedies within such a short period of time in such a small community was considered suspicious,” continued JJ. “Yet, they had no hard evidence for this being the deliberate act of a single UnSub. The fires were clearly set, but in both cases, murder-suicide could not be excluded as a possibility.”

“Any connection between the two familie?”

“The children go to school together, the teens even share classes, but that’s not surprising given their age and the fact that there is only one Middle and one High School in Woodland. Other than that, they went to the same church and the mothers, Helena and Anna were both active in the community, participating in the same functions.”

“Again not surprising. Such a small town, there’re bound to be overlaps,” brought up Derek.

“Exactly, and investigation remained inconclusive until last night,” she clicked to the next slide. “Meet the Hall family, consisting of Simon, 45, Laura, 42, Jake, 18 and Michael, 13. Last night, a fire destroyed their home and everyone but 13-year-old Michael died.”

“We have a survivor?” exclaimed Emily, surprised and relieved.

“Yes, he escaped through the bedroom window of the parents. He suffered second and third degree burns on his arms and partially on his neck, and he’s in critical condition at the Legacy Orgeon Burn Center in Portland. He also broke one of his legs from jumping out of the window.”

“Falling.”

They looked at Lucifer whose eyes were fixed on the screen that showed the house.

“I’m sorry?”

“Even if he jumped to live… He fell. To escape the flames, he took the only way out. When you’re forced to do that, you don’t jump. You fall.”

His eyes were very dark and Dave was reminded that a case with an arsonist serial killer might be a difficult one for Lucifer to handle. Aaron seemed to agree.

“Lucifer, if this case is too-“

“Agent Hotchner,” interrupted Lucifer, which was never a good sign. He hardly ever interrupted the BAU’s Unit Chief, and when he did, the words usually carried a lot of weight. “If anyone knows what that child is going through, it’s me. While the order of events may be different, I too Fell, burned and lost my family. Different reasons, but yes, I understand. Can you say the same?”

“I don’t doubt that you can emphasize with the victim better than any of us,” countered Aaron softly. “I just fear that this might be a little bit personal for you.”

“That won’t be a problem unless the person who hurt them is a member of my family, and I can guarantee you that the only angel in the area that night was my baby sister.”

Azrael. The Angel of Death.

Right.

Aaron nodded accepting Lucifer’s reassurance that he would not take this case too personally.

“Why are they calling us only now?” Emily chimed in. “It’s 24 hours after the fire.”

“From what I understand, their police department is tiny with only one detective, Joseph Anderson, and seven officers. They called in help from the sheriffs, but the problem is that both the Sheriff departments of Cowlitz and of Clark County are responsible for the area, and there have been some juristiction issues,” exclaimed JJ.

They all nodded at that. They had enough experience with egos clashing in the field to know what that must have been like.

“In any case,” Hotch continued, “they now invited us in and we need to work fast. Three families are dead within only four weeks and there has been one dead family every ten days. With Michael Hall’s survival, there is no way of saying whether that will accelerate the UnSub’s time schedule. Wheels up in thirty.”

They all rose from their seats, and predictably, Lucifer held the door open for everyone and then stuck to JJ. Ever since she started showing, he was utterly taken with the whole process having compared JJ’s child to a ‘parasite’ in the early weeks after the announcement, which then shifted to ‘it’ and was now ‘he’ or ‘that bright Light inside of you.’ Apparently the term of glowing during pregnancy was not just a saying, but for the Angel of Light, an actual, literal fact. Lucifer totally counted on her still being an independent, strong woman, but he was dangerously overprotective. In fact, the last time an Astra patron had made a lewd comment about her within Lucifer’s earshot, which, technically speaking, probably included all of DC if he tried, he was removed from the building in record time (for his own safety mostly. And because the FBI did not enjoy arresting one of their own for assault). They also knew better than to let JJ near aggressive family members or domineering local law enforcement.

Lucifer was not the only reason for that. Reid and Morgan were not one bit better, only that they generally did not resort to violence, while Dave could not say the same thing about the devil.

“Rossi, can I talk to you for a moment?”

He approached Morgan’s desk, “Sure. What’s up?”

Morgan’s expression said it all.

“What did he reveal this time?”

Knowing Lucifer Morningstar for eight months had taught David Rossi a few things about their new colleague. First, he could say the most horrific things in a side comment without realizing the impact it had on the team. Second, not only did he not realize that, he usually felt awful for upsetting his newfound friends, and tried to cover the horror by putting his experiences into context, usually making things much worse. Third, for an immortal being who spent a lifetime experiencing and absorbing new things (and enjoying every moment of it) and who possessed an intellect that absolutely enthralled the whole team but especially Reid, Lucifer was all too human when it came to his feelings. In fact, when it came to his own emotions, he appeared to have developed a form of Alexithyma, the inability to recognize and/or put his own feelings into words. This was not surprising given that he had spent an eternity actively ignoring his pain, allowing only anger to fester, and apparently having a family that simply dismissed all of his opinions on the matter whenever he attempted to express how he felt.

Every member of the team had some sort of messed up childhood or early adulthood. In fact, as Dr. Bill so aptly put it, having that kind of past appeared to be some sort of hiring requirement for the BAU. However, Lucifer’s off-hand comments about his past effortlessy put all of their experiences to shame. No human could survive the kind of mental torment that Lucifer had to go through.

Burning out (and they were still missing the details on what had led to the rebellion and the subsequent Fall, but from what they knew, his rebellion was nothing more than the act of questioning his father’s choices, and demanding independence), being isolated and shunned for several hundred thousand years were just the beginning of it all. Being vilified by his own family - horrific in itself - further led to his ‘name being invoked for all of humanity’s depravity. Not because I punish it, but because I was the one sitting on their shoulder, making them commit whatever sin damned them, so that I could have their soul. I don’t make people do things. I never wanted any of their souls. I never wanted to rule Hell.’

Dave closed his eyes.

Remembering the devastation in Lucifer’s eyes still pained David, even six months after the fact. Knowing that all of this pain could have been prevented if God were the merciful being Dave had so fiercely believed him to be.

“Rossi?”

“I’m sorry, Derek,” said Dave, ruefully. “What did he say?”

“Remember when Reid asked him about angel wings back in LA?”

“Yes?” Dave frowned.

“Well, he said something today that… He cut them off,” Morgan breathed. “He cut them off – or had Maze cut them off – to be free of his task as Lord of Hell.”

“Oh G-Oh by the stars,” Dave breathed. They were slowly starting to keep their speech patterns in check. While they still used ‘Hell, no!’ and ‘damn it!’ – primarily because it delighted Lucifer when they cursed – they never invoked his father’s name or Heaven anymore. These days, they either resorted to calling onto the stars or the Light, and it seemed to fill their colleague with a lot of joy and pride whenever they did.

“He doesn’t seem to think of it as self-harm, and I have honestly no idea how to address the issue. Just when I was about to, we were interrupted by a car accident – nothing happened, don’t worry – and then we came here in separate cars, because he had to go to Astra first to make sure they were fine in his absence.” He sighed, took a deep breath and then continued, meeting Dave’s eyes. “Rossi, he again alluded to still suffering pain from his Fall, and… How on Earth is that possible? Don’t angel bodies heal? He can walk away from a hail of bullets without a scratch or discomfort, but-” He stopped, looking quite lost. “Rossi, he literally mutilated himself to be free of his father. That other body of his is still raw and hurting. Frankly, I don’t even know how he’s functional. What on Earth do we do?”

“After we get back, we’re meeting with Bill, and then cautiously address Lucifer. As before. We should mention it to Aaron and Lucifer before leaving, though.”

Divulging Lucifer’s true identity to the old, soon-to-be retired psychiatrist had to be one of Aaron’s most brilliant ideas. Dr. William Thomas, after going through the “five stages of devil reveal” (denial – acute existential crisis – fear – sudden bursts of hysteria – acceptance) with absolute record speed, had assured them that not only would he keep Lucifer’s secret from the Bureau but he also offered his support, and that he would continue to provide aide even after retirement.

David did not want to know what exactly the devil had discussed with Bill as it was clearly of sexual nature, but it did earn him the psychiatrist’s loyalty. Dr. Bill had also quickly established contact with Dr. Linda and these two were more than happy to have each other’s backs.

The way it worked these days was that they discussed an issue either directly with Bill or first with a team member and then with Bill, either alone or within the team, and then brought the point up in a controlled conversation with Lucifer. Like this, they managed to reduce the number of panicked calls in the middle of the night and it allowed them to treat Lucifer as simply another, regular member of the team, while acknowledging that he was not.

“Everything alright?” asked Aaron as they stepped into the plane, having picked up on Morgan holding Dave back.

“Everything is alright, Agent Hotchner,” said Lucifer, elegantly sitting in his seat and, having already memorized the entire file, now playing on his phone. Reid was just going through the last pages. One would think that suddenly having a team member that had the same or even higher mental capabilities than him would depress or anger the prodigy, but the young man had taken to being the pupil with an ease that surprised David. It probably helped that Reid knew a lot of things that Lucifer did not, and that the devil was more than happy to listen attentively to whenever their resident genius shared statistics trivia or simply tapped into that enormous brain of his. “Agent Morgan was just a bit upset hearing about the state of my wings, it appears.”

Of course he had overheard their conversation, but that did not mean he understood why this would trouble them. The entire team stopped whatever they were doing, and all eyes were on Lucifer. Thankfully, the devil did not grasp the concept of being self-conscious or embarassed if suddenly faced with having the attention of the room, and he smiled, “Nothing to worry about, I assure you.”

Morgan winced, “Lucifer-“

“In order to be free of my tasks, I had to cut them off,” the devil continued calmly. “Or rather, I had Maze cut them off.”

Morgan’s shoulders slumped as the shockwave coursed through the team.

“Lucifer…” Emily breathed. JJ’s eyes widened. Reid lowered his files, looking pained. Aaron froze for just a moment before he said calmly, “Lucifer, we have a long flight ahead of us, which will be more than enough time to both cover the case and talk about other, urgent matters. Why don’t you tell us about your wings? You told Reid months ago that angels have wings. Are they as humanity currently visualizes them?”

“White and gold, you mean?” Lucifer grinned. It was obvious that he had no idea why they wanted to talk about the wings. “Every angel has an individual wing color, basically our version of a finger print. Michael’s are golden, Gabriel’s are light gray, Amenadiel’s are black, Raguel’s are kind of hard to describe. Azrael’s are brown, Uriel’s are a dark gray, Remiel’s are light brown and Raphael’s are bronze colored. These are the wings of the archangels. I couldn’t tell you the colors of the younger ones. Most of them were born after I Fell.”

Into the silence, Morgan continued, “You mentioned ‘wings of might’…”

“Oh, yes,” confirmed the club owner. “The younger ones have wings that only allow flight. An archangel’s wings may be used as weapons in close combat.”

“But you no longer have your wings,” stated Aaron calmly. “You cut them off. Lucifer, this is a form of-“

“That movie ‘127 Hours.’ Wildly different background, but same idea. He needed to cut off his arm in order to escape, and so did I. He escaped certain death. I escaped my father’s reign. That’s all there is to it,” dismissed Lucifer their concerns.

“How did Maze react?” Emily spoke up. They had met Lucifer’s oldest friend only a handful of times, but she was a formidable lady to talk to. She got along extremely well with Emily, even propositioned to her a few times, but only in Dr. Linda’s presence. If these three ever indulged in a night together, Dave could not tell for sure.

“Maze… She cried,” he sighed. He truly hated disappointing his friends, and he hated hurting them even more. “You see, as long as I had the wings, Amenadiel could just grab me and carry me down to the gates of Hell. As I am now, he has the option to either kill me, and if killing humans is a no-go, killing a sibling would have unforseeable consequences, have me killed, or convince me to return out of my own free will. In order to protect me, she had to do it, but it goes against everything she stands for. She swore an oath to protect me, to keep me from harm and to be with me from now until the end. One of the three had to be broken, and you don’t easily break an oath to the devil. I had to free her off it, so that she was even physically able to do it.”

Reid, still horrified, spoke up, “I cannot even imagine the pain.”

Dave had come to utterly detest the smile that followed this statement. It was broad and did not match the expression of Lucifer’s eyes.

“No, you can’t,” he confirmed. “But they were practically useless to begin with. You see, my Fall broke them, burned them beyond recognition. The healing process was long, and I could not use them for the longest time. I had to climb the throne the first time around, and I only did it once out of sheer spite. The rest of the time I walked among the damned souls and the demons. My wings never received the same functionality after the Fall, though I was able to fly in a non-physical plane, like Hell, but only barely and never without discomfort.” Which was ‘Lucifer’ for a whole lot of pain. “Maze and I quite literally crash-landed when I broke through the planes and we ended up on Earth.”

“That just means that they weren’t healed entirely,” protested Reid. “That doesn’t mean they’re dead and needed to be cut off.”

“Young one, the bones mended, the feathers regrew, but the wings were taken from me the second I was cast from Heaven. Wings are a sign of God’s favor,” he chuckled coldly. “And I’d rather be wingless walking among humans as one of you than pretend to be his favorite son.”

That was a powerful statement, but it did not change the fact that…

“Lucifer, we can talk about this in private if you wish, or you could bring up this point with Dr. Linda, but-“ began Aaron, but stopped when Lucifer lifted his hand.

“What do you wish to say, Agent Hotchner?”

“Self-harming behavior is very complex, and the reason why you have us all stumped is that self-injury is often a habit, and almost never a one-off event. Meaning that people who commit self harm often display fresh cuts or other marks indicative for self-harm-“

“Nothing forged on Earth can really cause cuts, so that would be a useless endeavor,” countered Lucifer. “You’d need Hell-forged daggers for that and they’re in Maze’ possession.”

“Why would you let your demons forge knives that can hurt you?” Morgan chimed in, confused.

“Where would the fun of sparring be if I just plowed through them?” Lucifer grinned, before focusing on Hotch. “Any other symptoms?”

Hotch then listed the rest of the symptoms, and the devil commented on each and every single one.

Scars, often in patterns… You don’t have to-“ But Lucifer did take of his jacket and his shirt off very much to the ladies’ delight and had Garcia demand a clearer view, which then shifted to horror, when he turned to show the symmetric scars on his back, from where the wings had once rooted from. His face fell when he saw their expression, and he simply whispered, ‘Please, don’t,’ which had Aaron continue the list and the others discreetly overlook his scars. Garcia flirted with him over the screen, causing Lucifer to smile gratefully as he put his shirt back on.

Excessive rubbing of an area to create a burn.” – Really, I do enjoy rubbing, but not the burning kind. Now, a candle is an excellent tool to-“

“Keeping sharp objects on hand.” – “Not an issue with me, but I might have to talk to Maze, just to make sure she’s fine. She’s the one with the armory.”

Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather.” – “Oh please, there is no such thing as hot weather on Earth. And let me just tell you that, while I love DC, Los Angeles does beat this city weather-wise.”

Frequent reports of accidental injury.” – “I thought that was a sign of people living in an abusive household.” – “Yes,” Aaron elaborated, “but it could also mean that you’re harming yourself.” – “Understood. And no, not an issue.”

Difficulties in interpersonal relationship. You don’t have to comment. Given your ability to seemlessly fit into the dynamics of this team, and given the number of friendships and connections you’ve made since coming to this city, we can easily ignore this one. Next is ‘Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability.”

Lucifer scoffed, “Seriously? Chaos may not be my domain, but unpredictability is such a wonderful way of pissing off my older brothers, I wouldn’t want to change that about myself.”

“Last,” Morgan continued, “are statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness.”

And here was the crux of the issue. Lucifer never made statements about feeling worthless or hopeless, and he didn’t feel that way, David was sure… as long as he was among humans. Lucifer had admitted to feeling at home on Earth. However, he was no stranger to complaining about his father’s meddling, and how powerless he felt to his father’s interference in his life. It certainly did not help his sense of worth that all of his siblings believed that he was that wicked devil eagerly awaiting humanity’s downfall and just biding his time to wreak revenge on their father.

“Going through this list, it’s clear that you aren’t a typical case,” concluded Emily, “but causes of self-injury can result from poor coping skills and the difficulty to manage emotions, and the act itself is used to manage or reduce severe distress, distract from painful emtions, to regain a sense of control, to feel something, to communicate depression or to be punished…”

“I know all about punishment, Agent Prentiss,” countered Lucifer softly. “Cutting off my wings was none of that. I admit to being obtuse sometimes about handling my emotions, but I never had the wish to harm myself as a result of it. Besides, my old coping mechanisms, sex and drugs, have now almost entirely been replaced by music or spending time with friends.” He looked very young and a bit lost, as if unsure why they were giving him a hard time over this.

“That is true and we are very proud of you for changing long-ingrained habits. That is never easy,” acknowledged Aaron, nodding his approval, causing the devil to smile widely and honestly.

Lucifer on his part never minced words with his praise, and in the beginning, they had happily accepted the immortal’s high opinion of them, but with time, they realized that they should probably return their appreciation of him. It was not always easy to praise such an ancient soul without sounding horribly condescending. Thankfully, the devil was also a six-year-old boy on a sugar-rush, and was more than happy to receive positive feedback. “But please,” Aaron continued calmly, “while I absolutely believe you when you say that this was a one-off, please tell us if you have the urge to harm yourself any further.”

Following that plead, the giddy six-year-old was entirely absent.

Instead, before them sat that ancient soul, this incredibly brave, kind angel who, for some reason, decided that humans were amazing and fascinating, and further believed that the BAU consisted of some of its best examples. He leaned back into his seat, his hands comfortably folded.

“Agent Hotchner, just to make myself perfectly clear, and I know you’ve been talking about this with Dr. Bill… I don’t remember what it is like not to be in pain. My other form… my angelic form – Dr. Linda said it is important that I reduce the number of euphemisms when it comes to topics I habitually circumvent – never healed fully. You’ve yet to see it in its entirety, and I assure you, it’s a hideous sight that I refuse to subject you to…” He lifted his hand when Reid opened his mouth. “And I know you’re used to seeing dismembered corpses, and I know that I’ve shown my form to Delilah and to Dr. Linda, but they needed to see my angelic form to finally believe me. You almost believed me simply because you had faith that I wasn’t lying to you.”

For all that he was sometimes obtuse to certain situations, he really knew what to say to appease their resident genius and the rest of the team.

“My point is,” he continued. “I’m never without pain. Showing myself with this body,” he gestured at himself with a suggestive grin, even though the effect was entirely lost on his colleagues, “is not simply an aesthetic choice. It’s considerably less painful. Being on the physical plane in this form numbs the pain, but it’s never entirely gone. And this is why I don’t unnecessarily subject myself to pain. I crave for its absence. Harming myself would go against that.”

“Is there anything we can do?” asked Morgan, his protective instincts in overdrive, but really, he just voiced everyone else’s feelings.

“No.” The reply was not harsh, but matter-of-fact. “But we could switch topics now that you could reassure yourselves that I don’t actually habitually commit acts of self-harm.”

That was an interesting conclusion from tonight’s conversation, but Morgan was the first to roll with it. “Well, we could tell the others that Tuesdays at Astra have now become gospel nights.”

A short retelling of their apparently very eventful trip from Morgan’s property back to Astra followed the profiler’s statement. They did not outright tease Lucifer. While he easily made acquaintances, inviting a gospel choir into his sanctuary was a step well outside of his comfort zone, and they all decided not to discourage that.

“So,” JJ frowned, confused. “You don’t want them to praise your father, but you have no problem with songs praising Jesus?”

“I’ve never resented songs aimed at the young ones,” was the soft reply.

They all froze. After months of dancing around this particular topic, sometimes to an almost comical degree, it seemed like the moment had finally come to ask the question that had found its way on all of their lists of questions.

 “Jesus was your brother,” Reid stated fearlessly. Of course, he would be the one to ask this question.

“No,” answered Lucifer, not overly harsh. Instead, he seemed totally aware of the course this conversation had taken. “He was human, not an angel. Nevertheless, Dad favored him… very much to my sibling’s chagrin. From what I’ve been told, Gabriel was not too happy playing messenger this time around. I’d long given up on gaining Dad’s approval, so it didn’t bother me too much. He was a nice chap, very spiritual, very faithful… Naïve like you wouldn’t believe,” he scoffed as an afterthought.

“He wasn’t the messiah then,” breathed Emily, torn between disappointment and something that was hard to define.

“I hate to answer ambiguously, my dear agents, but I have to reply with both yes and no. To answer the question burning beneath it all: Which religion has it right? I must answer with: none of them… and all of them.”

He smiled gently at the group of humans before him, looking more angelic than ever.

“Apologies, I know this isn’t the response you wanted. What I can tell you is this: I met my adoptive brother twice in his lifetime, once in the Judaean Desert, and once on the hill of Golgotha.”

“The Temptation of Christ and the Crucification,” Reid said immediately, just in case anyone was unaware.

“Yes, but I wasn’t trying tempt him in that desert. We just talked. He was hurting. I most certainly did not tempt him to jump down from a pinnacle. Well, I joked about it, sure, told him that if he had so much faith in Dad he should just fling himself off the pinnacle, but I would’ve never let him do it. And I explicitely told him that I didn’t want to be worshipped. I was just… trying to meet Dad’s new favorite and wanted to let him know that being God’ favorite comes with a lot of suffering.” He paused for a second, and something in their expression must have tipped him off, because he continued, “Okay, now that I’m hearing myself say this, I can understand why it might’ve been interpreted the wrong way.”

A sigh.

“I didn’t hear about his sentence until very late,” he continued quietly. “Some damned soul started talking about it and I… asked Dad if I could get him out the situation and down from the bloody cross, but Dad refused, so I… snuck out. Couldn’t use my wings, too obvious, so I climbed… It takes a long time to climb. To conceal myself from Dad’s view, I made it dark, and hid in the shadows so nobody could see me. I asked him if he would allow me to take him down. He wouldn’t listen. Damned fool!” he hissed, his teeth bared. He looked so angry and so helpless. “And this, my dear agents of the FBI, is how Jesus overcame the devil’s temptation. By telling me to back off so he could die.”

The bitterness in his voice was heartbreaking.

“I didn’t want him to suffer. He was innocent and shouldn’t have gone through this torment, but no, it was Dad’s will, so of course, he would do it, out of naïve, blind faith.” The anger had given way to sadness. His eyes glistened, but he blinked quickly to dispel the tears.

“I should’ve ripped him from the bloody cross, but I didn’t, because I would have done so without his consent. I don’t encroach on anyone’s free will. That is Dad’s game, not mine. But I’m the great Tempter, the devil on your shoulder trying to lead you astray from the only right path, well, excuse me if I don’t want you to die a horrible death in my father’s name…”

He took a deep breath, “Anyway, Hell’s rules: as you come up, so you must go down. Thankfully, time runs differently in Hell or I would still be climbing today. It took me one day on Earth to go down. Thankfully, Dromos and Maze met me for the last part, or it would’ve been unbearable. By the end of it, my fingers were as bloody and ripped as my adoptive brother’s hands… Ironic, isn’t it?”

He looked at them and a myriad of different emotions was dancing in his eyes: grief, anger, bitterness, very dark humor, and beneath it all, because that was who Lucifer was, love for a brother he had barely known.

Morgan was the first to react. He rose from his seat and put a comforting hand on Lucifer’s left shoulder before sitting down next to him, “I’m sorry you had to go through all that.” Then he frowned, realizing something as he spoke, his hand still on Lucifer’s shoulder. “Is that why you never know how to hug us? Because you expect wings to interfere with the gesture?”

Grateful for the change of topic, Lucifer groaned, “I understand human anatomy, but it’s confusing. When it comes to familial gestures like hugs, I usually rely on precedence, so yes, I prefer not touching the area from which wings would sprout.”

Gently, Morgan smiled, and shifted his hand, so that it covered the back of Lucifer’s neck, “Is that okay for you?”

Lucifer’s expression was amused, “The neck is usually reserved for older siblings, but feel free. I have it from good authority,” his eyes briefly drifted toward Reid, “that you’re an excellent older brother, and I haven’t had one of those in a long time.”

“So, there are rules to this?” Emily asked. “We just figured you were a bit averse to touch… Non-sexual touch, that is.” She clarified.

“I don’t mind touches, but I am unused to familial gestures outside of an occasional pat on the shoulder as Agents Rossi and Morgan tend to bestow, a squeeze of the upper arm as you and Agent Jareau are prone to or an occasional hug from Ms. Garcia.” He explained. “I rarely initiate affectionate touches out of sheer habit. In Hell, there was always a power gap to consider, so I am used to allowing touch, but I hardly ever initiate it. I’m sure you’ve noticed.”

Of course, they had, but they had simply assumed that, like Reid, he did not appreciate physical touch that he had not initiated.

“I enjoy hugging Delilah very much,” continued the devil, oblivious to Dave’s thought process. “It’s a form of protection. She always says that it feels like she could tune out the entire world in my arms, so who am I to deny her refuge?”

JJ smiled at that, “You can never deny anyone anything, Lucifer, but this is important. What are the rules to touching you?”

“You may do so whenever you desire,” Lucifer replied calmly. “Never hesitate. There are no specific rules. Engulfing the neck is simply a gesture almost entirely reserved for older brothers, and I haven’t had an older brother’s affectionate touch in a long time, so I may react oddly. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it, Agent Morgan.”

“Nothing else?” asked Aaron, very interested in this conversation.

“Well, I’m obviously sensitive to being touched at the wing roots, but other than that, my body is open to you.” He grinned suggestively, but they all knew he was being playful. He had not seriously come on to any them since LA. They were firmly in the ‘friends and colleagues’ category, a small but steadily growing group of people with whom he enjoyed strictly platonic relationships. Reid grinned, Morgan laughed and affectionately slapped his arm, which led to a flirtacious comment (“Oh, Agent Morgan, I can play rough if you want to.’) and that, in turn, led to teasing on Morgan’s part (“Really, Angel? I prefer sweet and gentle.”). Lucifer’s retort (“Whatever you desire, you painfully attractive man.”) was interrupted by Garcia’s protest over the screen (“You two promised me not to flirt when I’m not around, because I need food for my fantasies.”). It would have gone on if Aaron did not clear his throat, effectively shutting them up. However, just like so many times before, Lucifer’s utterly inappropriate humor had lifted the mood in the room, and stirred them away from the heavy topics, and David did not even want to imagine a world where they never met.

Once again, he was so grateful for that conversation he had with that devout Christian months ago, even if said man probably had not intended the outcome.


 

“You look troubled,” said a voice behind him.

Of course, Dave had known he was there. He was an FBI agent trained to hunt down the worst of humanity. Of course, said training had proven to be useless when it came to demons from Hell and the devil himself (if he decided to be sneaky).

And that was the whole reason he was here after all.

The thing was, he liked the guy. He liked Lucifer Morningstar. He had a wicked sense of humor, was incredibly smart, never shy to say exactly what was on his mind and despite all the horror he had observed, was still a good person intent on seeking justice.

And that was the crux of the matter. Learning and accepting all of that about Lucifer meant that he had to reject teachings he had lived with his entire life.

“You don’t look like clergy,” countered Dave.

That was not entirely correct. The African American man may not wear any specific wardrobe that identified him as a priest, but his demeanor spoke of devotion, humility and spirituality with just a hint of sanctimonious appearance that practically screamed ‘clergy.’ There was something else in these dark eyes, that understanding smile and angelic voice, something familiar, but he could not put his finger on it.

The man’s laughter was as clear as a bell, “I’m not, but I know quite a bit about the bible.”

“Even the devil can quote scripture,” countered Rossi dismissively, and then chuckled. Lucifer knew every word of the bible and as much as he cursed his own father, he lived by divine principles when even the most devout Christian would have refused.

“True, but the devil, too, follows the will of God,” said the man, causing Dave to look at him in surprise. “Canaan, by the way, the name is Dr. Michael Canaan.”

“David Rossi,” replied Dave, shaking hands with the man. “That is an interesting view.”

“Scripture teaches us that, essentially, the devil is no more than a rebellious son,” said Dr. Canaan with a soft, fond smile. “In fact, he is God’s favorite son, gifted with a kingdom all of his own.”

That just reminded Dave of how much Lucifer hated being the Lord of Hell, so much so he had turned his back on a place where he was its supreme ruler.

“And that is what I grapple with most,” confessed Dave. “If the devil is the favorite son, how can God ever condone what we say about him? The devil is the personification of evil in Christianity, and while his interpretation is more nuanced in Judaism and Islam, he is never described as a friend of humanity. Why didn’t God make it utterly clear that Satan isn’t evil and that he’s doing His work?”

“You can do God’s work and still be evil,” smiled Dr. Canaan, obviously having expected Dave’s comment. “There is a balance that must be maintained.”

“But he’s God’s son,” David protested.

“If no son ever turned his back on what is good and just, then there would be no crime, wouldn’t you say so?”

That was a good point and tapped into thoughts that Dave had engaged with several times. There was just one problem with this: The Lucifer Morningstar he knew was not evil.

“I’m guessing you’re entertaining these thoughts for a specific reason,” stated Dr. Canaan knowingly.

“There is a dichotomy between what I was taught and the evidence I was presented with,” sighed Dave, his eyes on the crucifix. He knew this was yet another question they all wanted Lucifer to answer. Had he known Jesus? Who was he? Was he the Son of God?

“Tell me,” said the man softly sounding like the clergy he denied being.

“I know evil. I’ve seen it.”

Floyd Feylinn Ferell grinning vindictively after confessing to feeding the woman they had been looking for to the volunteers.

“I’ve heard it.”

The Butcher’s emotionless voice on tape.

“I’ve hunted it.”

So many of them…

“But I simply cannot imagine that God would put their punishment into the hands of someone worse than all of them,” said he using a very logical argument from Reid. “Which means that what we know about Satan cannot be all there is to him.”

“Oh, there isn’t. Like Scripture tells us: He is disguised as an angel of light, meaning that he can appear to be charming, nice, even sweet and gentle if he so chooses, but underneath it all, he is the devil and the devil knows no mercy.”

He did not doubt that. Lucifer’s sense of right and wrong was heightened and did not always coincide with that of US law, but given who he was, Dave could not really condemn that. Even if the law forgave a murderer, Lucifer would not.

“That doesn’t make him evil. God obviously approves of how he approaches matters or he would have long interfered,” countered Dave.

“Approval isn’t exactly the word I’d use,” chuckled Dr. Canaan. “As his favorite, he is simply given a lot more leeway than any other angel.” That last bit was said bitterly, angrily, and caused the hair on the back of David’s neck to stand up.

“If being his favorite means to be banned from the only home he had known, away from his family, and burdened with the knowledge of being the scapegoat for the world’s sins, I’d hate to be an unfavored child,” said the profiler sharply. He had met too many adults and children whose parents had told them again and again that they were loved, but whose actions spoke a different language. It just made God a really crappy parent, and nothing else.

“There is a balance that must be maintained,” continued Dr. Canaan, a hint of irritation creeping into his voice. “The devil may walk among humans, but he isn’t one of them. He belongs to Hell, or else Hell may break loose and wreck havoc on Earth.”

And that statement was what turned it all around. The Lucifer he knew would never let that happen. He would never let any harm come to them if he could help it.

Even if it meant giving up the freedom he had gained.

If he ever had to make that sacrifice, David would see to it that Lucifer would not have to regret his choices.

“Thank you for the conversation,” said the profiler calmly. “You’re right. He isn’t one of us, but you’re also wrong. He belongs here on Earth and I hope he’ll be able to stay here for as long as I Iive.”

Dr. Canaan’s look of utter surprise alone was worth this newfound resolve. He nodded and walked out of the church with a smile on his face. Only later would he ponder that strange conversation, wondering whether Dr. Canaan had also met Lucifer and had drawn his own (wrong) conclusions. Ultimately, he dismissed that thought, believing that Dr. Canaan had simply been talking in metaphors.


 “Dave, Dave! Are you with us?”

“Yes, Hotch, I’m sorry. My thoughts drifted for a moment. What is it?”

“The case. We’ll stay at a hotel in Portland, and we will go to Woodland early tomorrow morning to introduce ourselves, then split up as follows: You and Reid go to the ME, Morgan and Emily go to the crime scenes, working their way back starting with last night’s fire. Lucifer and I will go to the hospital to meet with Michael Hall. JJ will be coordinating with the Fire Department, the local police and the sheriff departments. Let me know if you run into a roadblock, JJ,” he continued, addressing their press liaison before turning to Lucifer, “Are you sure?”

“The boy will be bedridden,” replied their latest colleague casually. “No chance to be unpredictable as these small humans tend to be. I don’t mind, and as I said, I’m the only one intimately familiar with his current state of mind.”

“Good, so let’s review the case and then get some rest. It’s gonna be a busy day tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

In order not to exceed their budget (though it had been boosted since Lucifer was part of the team… Aaron did not want to know how exactly Lucifer was charming Strauss, but far be it from him to try and stop it), they shared rooms. He shared a room with Dave, Emily stayed with JJ, Reid was with Morgan, and Lucifer had a room to himself, as usual. Like this, the angel could do whatever he desired at night. They were aware that he did not need sleep, though he indulged in it quite happily, but he enjoyed sex even more, and if he had a room to himself, he could do whatever he wanted at night, and they had a very sated, happy devil during the day. While Aaron was honestly amused by Lucifer’s antics and would not want him to change his flirtatious ways in the slightest, local law enforcement was not always receptive to the devil’s brand of humor or his idea of fun in the face of chasing down serial killers. Therefore, the easiest way to both let him be himself, and to have a team that at least gave the appearance of being a regular FBI task force, was simply to let Lucifer loose at night after the job done...

“The pleasure is all mine, Detective Anderson.”

… Not that he managed to entirely forego the flirting, but Aaron did not have the heart to tell him to stop. There was something refreshing and rejuvenating to Lucifer’s antics, and the Unit Chief really needed it. He would have had Jack this weekend, and calling it all off at the last minute broke his heart. Thankfully, Haley had kind of suspected or feared that this would happen, because, while she had everything ready, she had not yet told Jack where he would spend the night. He would never stop loving her, Aaron knew that, but this act of kindess, and how she simply accepted it without reprimand, made his heart ache with regret. However, he was also aware that, if they were still married, Haley would have been a lot less understanding, and thus, Aaron had come to accept that this divorce had been the best decision in order to peacefully raise their son together. She never excluded him from family activities, they had stopped fighting and were tentatively building up a friendship after the divorce, and this silent panic he used to suffer from whenever he was with them and still married, had receeded. The feeling of shame at his failed marriage had disappeared almost entirely, thanks also to Lucifer and Dave who both told him that he could now focus on his relationship with Jack, rather than mourning the loss of his marriage.

Still, he had really wanted to spend that weekend with Jack. He had it all planned out, and now he would have to wait until the next weekend.

Detective Anderson responded to the devil’s full attention by blushing and stuttering just a bit, tripping over his own words before remembering how to be professional. Lucifer had this effect on people, and it was really interesting to see how differently people reacted to him. While his charm worked on almost everybody, he was particularly successful with females and non-heterosexual males. However, even if there was no sexual attraction, people just told him things, especially if asked for them specifically. Sometimes, they told him things simply because he said ‘hello.’ It never failed to make the team smile when it happened, because it tended to take Lucifer aback, but he always took other people’s desires seriously, even if they appeared to be strange at first sight. Like that elderly woman who told Lucifer in front of everyone that she had always wanted to stand in the middle of the street singing Dame Ethel Smyth’ March of the Women, but that her courage left her whenever she was about to start, out of fear that nobody would know the lyrics and that she would be singing all alone. Unsurprisingly, he had offered his arm and they walked down the street bursting into song together, and at first, people were just staring before more and more women joined in, humming along if they did not know the words. The moment became magical when a French delegation picked up on the theme by singing L’Hymne du MLF. Since she did not understand a word of French, Lucifer had translated the words for the lady (and Emily for them after she had sang along with a broad smile), effectively making her cry with joy.

Or that man in his mid-twenties whose greatest wish was to quit his job in a food-processing factory and opening a flowershop. Apparently, the man’s shop was thriving, though how Lucifer had done that, he would not say.

Occasionally, desires could be bizarrely specific, like that one woman whose greatest desire was to get a foot rub while eating “A Tin of Sin” with her husband at The Inn At Little Washington. Lucifer had happily complied.

Detective Anderson did not blurt out his desires and he was being very professional with the rest of them, but Lucifer’s alluring presence obviously flustered the man, and their angelic team member was absolutely unable to resist further pushing these already pressed buttons. He tilted his head, and his smile was wide, “The name L-“

“Detective Anderson, please meet Mr. Morningstar, he’s a member of this team and civilian consultant of the FBI,” JJ quickly interfered. They had decided quite a while ago that, while in private, they consistently called him Lucifer, it was not a good idea to do so on a case, especially in small towns, so they introduced him as Mr. Morningstar, which did not raise nearly as many eyebrows as introducing him by his name. Lucifer accepted it without a fuss, but he also enjoyed playing with that premise a little bit.

“Nice to meet you, everyone, thank you for coming,” coughed Detective Anderson once he managed to tear his eyes away from Lucifer. “Please allow me to show you the office we prepared for you. Jim!” A man in sheriff’s uniform had just walked into the precinct. He was in his fifties, looking grim, and not at all happy to see them. “Everyone, this is Sheriff Jim Foster of Cowlitz County. Jim, this is the BA-”

“I know who they are. We could have used a couple of experts last night when we had to tell a boy that he lost everyone he loved,” growled Sheriff Foster. “But no, that stubborn son of a- well, you’re here, congratulations. I will revisit the crime scene. Who’s coming with me?”

Morgan and Emily did not protest or comment on the man’s inexusably harsh welcome address, but instead simply introduced themselves. Aaron was in the business long enough to know that the tone became rougher whenever children were involved, but he was also aware that they would have to run interference between the two sheriffs if Sheriff Foster’s reaction was anything to go by. Antagonizing one of them now would not end well and make their job harder.

Lucifer was not a fan of people being rude and Aaron could see him opening his mouth for a searing reprimand, when Aaron reached out and put a hand on his arm. Lucifer frowned, but he accepted Aaron’s call for caution even though he clearly did not approve of Sheriff Foster’s impertinence.

Morgan and Emily both picked up on Lucifer’s irritation and quickly coaxed the sheriff out of the room.

“Mr. Morningstar and I would like to see Michael Hall. What is his current condition?” asked Aaron.

“Stable. He’s been informed of what happened and Mrs. Hall’s sister, Monica Nelson, has arrived as soon as she heard. Once he gets out of the hospital, he’ll probably stay with Mrs. Nelson, her husband and their ten-year-old daughter. They live in Portland, and the sisters were close.”

“Good. That’s excellent news,” responded Aaron softly. “Bad enough that Michael has lost his parents and brother. It’s good to hear that he has close family that can take him in.”

Another sheriff entered, probably the sheriff of Clark County. He did not look particularly happy to see them either.

“Everyone, this is Sheriff Joseph Harper of Clark County. Joseph, please meet Supervisory Special Agents Aaron Hotchner, David Rossi, Special Agent Jennifer Jareau, Dr. Spencer Reid and Mr. Morningstar from the FBI,” introduced Detective Anderson immediately.

The sheriff barely nodded his head in response, “I was about to go to the ME, any volunteers?”

“I believe that’s me and Dr. Reid,” smiled Dave diplomatically.

As soon as they were out of sight, Detective Anderson sighed, “I apologize on their behalf. It’s been tense since we lost the Clarkson family. Joseph was convinced this was the act of a killer, and Jim did not believe that. I agreed with Jim, but then-“ he sighed and shook his head. “Agent Jareau, may I help you set everything up?”

“Thank you, that would be great,” smiled JJ. “I would also like to talk to you about the community. I grew up in a small town in East Allegheny, Pennsylvania, so I understand the general dynamics,” she smiled openly, instantly putting the man at ease. “Tell me the specifics. We need to get ahead of this guy. Also, we will hook up with our technical analyst, Penelope Garcia. She’ll help us narrow things down.”

“This sounds amazing. Thank you again for coming. Mr. Morningstar, would you mind helping with the files? I-“

“But of course,” smiled Lucifer broadly and easily lifted the large box of files, “Where would you like it, detective?”

The lilt of his address was positively seductive and, to the detective’s credit, he remained professional, even though he was clearly taken with the devil’s charm.

Aaron stepped next to JJ and opened his mouth, but JJ just smiled in response, “Don’t worry, Hotch. I’ll be fine. I’ll make sure to keep out of the two sheriffs’ verbal range when I’m around our boys.”

Aaron chuckled at her playful answer, “Thank you.”

On their way to the Legacy Orgeon Burn Center in Portland, Lucifer was the first to speak, “Why did you hold me back? He was being rude to you and he was being rude to the team. You don’t appreciate when people insult the team.”

“No, I don’t,” agreed Aaron. “However, you must understand that these men feel a great deal of responsibility for the people in their district. If the people you swore to protect are being killed, you feel responsible.”

Lucifer scoffed, dismissing the comment, “That’s irrational. They didn’t set the fire that killed these people.”

Aaron smiled. The enigma that was Lucifer Morningstar was both deeply rational and driven by emotion, both ancient and very young. You had to rationally explain to him why people acted a certain way for him to understand why, but his own motivation was based on fiery passion. He was not nearly as objective and aloof as he expected humans to be.

“Do you remember Lily Jones, the woman who-“

“-The lady who nearly killed herself back in LA,” Lucifer completed, remembering effortlessly.

“Exactly. Now, imagine if she did jump despite your efforts. How would you have felt?”

Lucifer was quiet for a moment.

“Free will,” he breathed finally but unhappily. “It would have been her own choice.”

“Absolutely, but would you have felt like you didn’t do enough?” Aaron pressed until Lucifer finally nodded.

“Now let’s take this a step further. You were not the only one to talk her down, but instead of Morgan, Emily and JJ, let’s take someone with whom you share a tense relationship like Michael or Amenadiel. What if they too tried to talk her down and yet, she still died? And, to make things even more complicated, another party of a higher authority-” Dangerous territory, very dangerous he was treading here.”-appeared after she jumped, trying to find out why she died in the first place.”

Again, Lucifer processed the question, and then concluded, “You’re saying that they’re angry at each other for not doing enough even though they both did all they could, and they don’t want you here because it feels like you only ever show up when it’s convenient to you.”

Aaron nodded solemnly.

“Still, they shouldn’t have insulted you,” continued Lucifer firmly. “They view you as a scapegoat for what they perceive as their own failings. That I cannot accept.”

“And you shouldn’t,” Aaron agreed. “We appreciate that you want to prevent at all costs for us to become the scapegoat if a case goes wrong, but you cannot always protect us, and sometimes, the best way to react to baseless accusations is by remaining calm and professional.”

For almost five minutes, Lucifer said nothing, neither agreeing with nor contesting the profiler’s stance. Aaron was about to ask whether everything was fine when the club owner said quietly, “It doesn’t change their minds, though. I tried that, too. In the beginning, after I was healed enough to rule… I thought that if I just accepted my task and completed it without moaning, without complaining and without resistance, they would stop blaming me, might even-” he sighed, “-take me back. But nothing happened, no pat on the back, no gratitude, nothing but scorn and I stopped believing that this would ever change. I guess the biggest lie Dad ever told the world was making you believe he was merciful. He sure as Hell never had enough faith in me to- I did nothing that demanded his forgiveness, yet all of my siblings, even Dr. Linda sometimes, seem to believe that, if I just apologized, made the first step, he would be lenient. I don’t need his lenience,” hissed the devil firmly. “All I wanted was fair treatment, but I was a fool to think that was an option.”

Thankfully, there was a red light, which allowed Aaron to reach over and put a hand on the tall angel’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry you didn’t receive it,” said he solemnly. “They should have listened.”

“You don’t even know what happened,” dismissed Lucifer.

“And I understand why you haven’t told us. You fear that we would agree with your family.”

“No,” countered Lucifer. “You’re nothing if not disgustingly loyal, but I fear that upon hearing their version, you’ll stop believing mine. You wouldn’t have to feel bad about that, by the way,” he continued. “Everybody believes Dad in the end; one of the perks to being omniscient.”

Resignation and Lucifer Morningstar were a truly heartbreaking combination and Aaron could not let this stand.

“What about Mazikeen?” he suggested first. He was not arrogant enough to believe that less than a year with the team could neutralize eons spent in Hell.

“My demons don’t count,” scoffed Lucifer. “Opposing all that is from Heaven is kind of their purpose.”

“Yet, you are their Lord and from what you told us, they abide celestial rules as faithfully as any angel,” Aaron challenged. “They have free will, too, or so you said.”

“Yes, they do, but I was the one who granted it and I can take it away. Therefore, their free will is hampered when it comes to me. You know, the whole ‘giveth-taketh’ deal. Asking them about my culpability isn’t fair to them. Besides, they only know my side of the story, not theirs, and even if they did, they wouldn’t listen,” said Lucifer.

Aaron realized that this short ride to the burn center would not alleviate the fear that they would abandon him as soon as they met one of his siblings; if the reason he counted on his demons’ loyalty regarding the matter was based solely on the fact that they had no other choice, he would not believe Aaron regardless of assurances. He tried to challenge nevertheless as he parked the car. “Do you need us to swear an oath to reassert our devotion to you?”

Pain shot through his his right knee as an inhumanly strong hand grabbed it. Startled, Aaron froze. It was not like Lucifer to use his strength around them. He looked up only to look into eyes that flashed red, Hellfire burning so close that Aaron could almost smell the sulfur, and he could not suppress that one, treacherous moment of primal terror coursing through him.

Lucifer instantly turned his head and breathed.

“Lucifer-“ he began, frustrated at his own reaction.

“Apologies, Agent Hotchner,” said Lucifer hollowly, resigned. “I did not mean to scare you.”

“I’m not afraid of you,” said Aaron calmly, only to receive a scoff in return. “Really, I’m not. My body reacted because it-“

“I’m fully aware that human bodies recognize the danger of the devil, Agent Hotchner.” That same defeated, hollow sound penetrated every syllable.

“I would say that humans naturally react to the presence of ‘other,’ Lucifer. Given that some of the first and only words angels ever uttered around humans were ‘do not be afraid’ tells me that you know that,” he countered softly.

The club owner nodded in acceptance, but it was subdued. Aaron had to remind himself that Lucifer thought his own face to be punishment. He could not even fathom what that had to do to one’s self-image. Take that together with the fact that the devil’s anger usually had dire consequences, and it was no wonder their favorite angel kept a tight lid on it.

“Tell me why my words angered you,” continued Aaron, unafraid.

“I never asked to be worshipped,” was the harsh, fervent reply. “Do not, for one moment, assume that I want that. No oaths, no devotion; it only ever leads to grief and resentment. That’s more in Dad’s lane, not in mine.”

“I understand,” reassured him the Unit Chief of the BAU softly. “Our faith in you and loyalty to you isn’t mindless, however. We know you, and some angel we’ve never met isn’t going to change our mind.”

“I’m sorry you had to cancel that weekend with your spawn,” was the only response. “You were looking forward to it.”

Aaron, accepting the change of topic, sighed, “I’m glad Haley didn’t tell him about the weekend. I wouldn’t even know how to explain to him that it all fell through.”

Lucifer nodded slowly, “Just tell him that another boy needs your help. That a bad man hurt him and that you need to catch him. He’ll understand.”

Lucifer, who avoided children like the plague – but who had dutifully agreed to practice with Reid with absolutely hilarious outcomes – was looking at him patiently, as if unsure where the problem was but trying to sound encouraging regardless.

“Once we’re back, I’m bringing him to Quantico,” Aaron decided. “You should meet him. It’s time and you cannot avoid meeting him forever.”

“Oh, I don’t plan on avoiding you spawn forever,” countered Lucifer cheerfully. “I plan on avoiding him until he’s going into puberty, or even better, is in his mid-twenties and an adult.”

Aaron grinned and assured him that he would meet Jack very soon, to which the devil only replied that he had eons of practice in avoiding the little hellspawns and that Aaron should not underestimate his ability to evade unpleasant encounters.

They entered the burn center and were quickly led to Michael Hall’s room. However, the aunt, Monica Nelson, was less than inclined to receive them.

“Sheriff Foster and Detective Anderson were here last night,” said she in front of Michael’s room. “He doesn’t remember the details. Why do you want to put him through that again?”

“Mrs. Nelson, I understand that this is difficult-“ began Aaron, but was interrupted.

“Difficult? My sister, her husband and one of her boys burned alive because some psychopath set their house on fire!” she barked. “I know you have a case to solve and I want the bastard to rot in jail, but my nephew hasn’t seen anyone. Now leave us be. Michael has barely talked all day. He won’t be able to help.”

“Perhaps it would be beneficial if you gave a child that almost burned to death, and who had to jump from the first floor in order to save himself, a bed away from the window on the ground floor,” was all Lucifer said, his gaze alternating between Doctor Stephanie Mallard, and Mrs. Nelson.

Both ladies froze and Dr. Mallard breathed, “We didn’t think of that.”

“Why not?” Lucifer asked, not accusatory, but definitely confused. “Half of his injuries are from falling. It makes sense that he’s afraid of reliving the experience.”

“Intensive care is on the second floor,” said Dr. Mallard. “We cannot bring him downstairs, but we will as soon as we can.”

“Then might I suggest a room away from the window? Unless the memory of the fire in the hallway is worse than falling,” he added, looking to Aaron for his opinion.

“You should ask him what he prefers. Now, Mrs. Nelson, would you allow us to talk to him?”

Lucifer’s direct approach paid off, and they were with Michael minutes later.

The boy’s arms and his neck were covered in bandages, but the face was thankfully untouched. He barely acknowledged their presence as his aunt introduced them, and continued to look out of the window. Grief hovered above the boy like a dark cloud.

“Hello Michael,” said Aaron. “Would you mind telling us what you remember?”

“Dad burst into my room,” replied the boy quietly. “Told me to get up. We ran out. Everything was ablaze. My eyes hurt. Mom was hurt and Dad wanted to help…” He stopped, but then continued. “The fire just ate him. He screamed.”

Lucifer stiffened, but he remained quiet.

“Jake forced me back into my room to…he told me to jump. But he left Mom,” the boy continued, his eyes flashing with anger. “He just left her there on the staircase! I wanted Mom, and Jake must’ve-he burned, too. Like Dad. Mom was sleeping… no, unconscious. She didn’t wake up, but somehow I could swear she told me to get out. It was so hot. So, I ran and jumped. Next thing I know was…” he did not finish his sentence, but Aaron knew that his next memory was in the hospital being told what happened.

“Thank you for telling us, Michael. Do you remember anything prior to that? Was the water turned off, or anything else out of the ordinary?” asked Aaron gently.

“Mom had trouble cooking dinner. The gas didn’t function properly. But the water was fine, and Mom co-“ he stopped, looking away.

“Thank you, Michael. What about your Dad? Did he mention anything?”

“No. Dad talked about work, boring stuff so I tuned it out… Jake mentioned that he had to manually open the garage door, though. Dad was about to check the next-“

Again, his voice just gave out and he bit his lips, desperately trying not to cry.

“We wouldn’t judge you if you cried, you know,” Lucifer suggested, blunt as ever.

“Crying’s for babies,” hissed the boy, his lips quivering treacherously.

“Well,” countered Lucifer, “I would say it’s also for orphans who just lost everyone they cared about-“

“Lucifer…” Aaron protested quietly.

“-Mr. Morningstar!”  exclaimed Dr. Mallard, aghast.

“What?” Lucifer snapped. “He’s strong and bright, brimming with life despite everything he went through, and now the boy needs to give into the pain and let the tears cleanse him or the grief will eat him up from the inside. All that anger and pain will only lead to bitterness.”

“So what?” hissed Michael, sounding more alive than Aaron had heard him so far. “Who cares?”

“I do,” admitted Lucifer fearlessly. “You burned and you fell, but you’re not broken. You’re hurting, but you must accept the pain.”

“Why?” the boy shouted, but the angry exclamation was drowned out by a wet, heartrending sob.

“Because, if you don’t, you’ll end up like me,” was the mercilessly honest response.

“What do you know?” choked the boy, still holding in tears, even though it was clear that he could only lose this fight.

Calmly, Lucifer removed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. As he did so, his arms revealed angry, red scars that looked absolutely horrific, and quite recent. Dr. Mallard gasped, but held herself back as Aaron shook his head subtly at her.

“More than you think,” was the angel’s reply. The boy’s eyes widened and he reached out with his bandaged hands, but froze mere inches away from the scars.

“It’s fine,” said Lucifer gently. “They’re older than they look.”

“Will mine look like that, too?” asked the boy, horrified.

“No,” chuckled Lucifer. “Don’t worry, Child. Yours will fade and the pain will be nothing but a bad memory. You have my word.”

That was one hell of a promise. Michael had third degree burns and Lucifer had not given Aaron any indication that he could heal people, but then the devil had surprised him more than once.

Lucifer’s smile faded and his expression was somber, “That isn’t the pain I’m worried about. I’m more concerned about the losses you’ve suffered and your refusal to acknowledge that.”

You had to hand it to Lucifer. He certainly addressed children as if they were adults, and he obviously believed that Michael needed to face his grief.

“I know what happened,” muttered the boy, hugging himself.

“Then tell us,” challenged the BAU’s latest team member, and Aaron just knew he was missing something.

“Jake left Mom!” exclaimed Michael sharply, and so loudly that he had to cough miserably, reminding the adults that he suffered from some lung damage obtained in the fire. “Why did he leave her?”

“Because your mother was dying, Child. I would bet my life that she told him to get you out. He wasn’t leaving her. He was saving you,” replied Lucifer firmly.

Michael’s face went through a cascade of very different, very painful emotions, before he looked to Lucifer desperately, “He died because he was trying to save me.”

To Aaron’s absolute horror, Lucifer actually nodded in agreement, and the boy lowered his head as another sob escaped his lips. Aaron tried to signal to his colleague that this approach may be too much for the boy, but either Lucifer did not see the signal or he ignored it, because his eyes were trained on Michael.

“I’m an older brother, too, Child,” said Lucifer, careful to keep his distance from the weeping boy. “And let me tell you that I would burn a thousand times over to spare my siblings that kind of pain. I know that your brother would, too. It’s part of an older brother’s DNA. Wouldn’t you agree, Agent Hotchner?”

Aaron did not even have to ponder the question. He remembered what he had willingly gone through to spare Sean the same childhood he had suffered.

“I am sure that Jake is so very grateful that you lived,” Aaron confirmed firmly and that statement was what made the boy break into pieces. Mrs. Nelson immediately stepped up and hugged her sobbing nephew, trying to comfort him. Lucifer did not look happy about it, but he also did not look like he regretted pushing Michael beyond the breaking point.

They quietly thanked Michael and Mrs. Nelson before they left the room, giving the distraught boy some space. They barely stepped outside when two nurses and Dr. Mallard gently coaxed Lucifer into a nearby treatement room. He followed with a very broad grin, but it faded quickly once he realized what this was about.

“Mr. Morningstar, who took care of these burns?” asked the burn center specialist worriedly.

“Nobody at first. It mostly healed on its own,” answered Lucifer, his entire body rigid with tension.

“Would you-“

“The burns happened a very long time ago,” interfered Aaron firmly. “We thank you for your help, doctor, but it isn’t necessary.”

“With all due respect, Agent Hotchner, you are not a physician and these burns are-“ she stopped, aware that as a professional, she could not use any of the adjectives that first came to her mind.

“I do not wish any treatment, Dr. Mallard,” was Lucifer’s firm reply. “Please, respect my decision.” It effectively shut down her protests, and soon after, she was paged for another case, causing her to excuse herself. The angel looked after her retreating form before he turned to the closed door separating them from Michael Hall, and he placed his right hand on it while closing his eyes muttering a few words in a language unknown to Aaron. He then drew an invisible sign onto the door and left abruptly. Lucifer opened the door, letting Aaron and an attractive, young man of Middle Eastern descent, quite possibly Iranian, leave and enter, respectively.

The man looked at Lucifer with an expression full of longing, love and grief. In contrast, Lucifer’s expression may as well have been carved out of stone, his eyes frosty. Realizing instantly that he was in the presence of two angels sent a shock of adrenaline through Aaron’s system and he jolted.

“That was fast,” was all Lucifer said before he continued quietly. “Thank you, Raphael.”

Upon hearing the name, Aaron was just grateful that Reid was not within earshot.

“Brother…” the other archangel reached out his hand, but the devil quickly and elegantly sidestepped the movement.

“Yet another soul added to your tally,” was all Aaron’s friend said. “Let me know what you want in return.”

Raphael looked devastated in the face of such burning anger. “All I want is for you to look at me as if we weren’t complete strangers.”

“Aren’t we?” countered Lucifer coldly. “Any semblance of familiarity vaporized sometime between my Fall and the Fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. I certainly haven’t seen you in a while.”

“It’s not like you make it easy!” protested Raphael defiantly, sounding very young. “Whenever you called me in to heal someone, you were no longer in town.”

“You knew where I stayed for the majority of my time,” hissed Lucifer. “I understand that Hell isn’t a healer’s domain, but don’t tell me our big brothers haven’t kept close track of where I was whenever I visited Earth.”

“They did, but they didn’t exactly spread that kind of information,” said Raphael quietly.

“Azrael.” The name was hissed curtly, but Lucifer’s eyes told an entirely different story.

“She was afraid.”

“Of what? Me?” asked the devil furiously, and his eyes flashed only briefly, but it effectively caused both Raphael and Aaron to reel back minutely.

“Not you as a whole, but of your disappointment and your scorn,” explained the archangel quietly, and it really only hit Aaron then that this powerful being was their colleague’s little brother. “Can’t say I blame her.”

A pained sound escaped Lucifer’s throat as he looked up to the sky, “I’d never hurt her.”

For one brief moment, Raphael escaped his role as younger brother and put a hand on Lucifer’s forearm, “For someone who holds the desires of humans sacred, you still underestimate the sheer power of your own words.”

“And for a healer of minds and bodies you still ignore that some things need time to mend,” was the tight response. Lucifer exhaled sharply, closed his eyes before he cupped his brother’s neck and kissed his forehead tenderly. “You should go before Amenadiel hears about this meeting. Thank you.”

Raphael stood very still, welcoming the familial gesture with relish, and nodded, his head still lowered, “You don’t owe me. You know that, don’t you? There is no tally, no quid pro quo. You’ve never asked for anything that is unreasonable or selfish. But I’d like to-“

“Mondays are quiet,” said Lucifer. “Talk to you on September 29, little brother.”

With that, he walked away. Aaron and Raphael just looked at each other, both a bit lost. The Unit Chief of the BAU nodded curtly, and followed the fallen archangel, who was already standing by the car, trying to light a cigarette.

“Apologies for dragging you into my family feuds,” said the devil as he leaned against the passenger door.

“I wouldn’t call that a feud,” refuted Aaron.

“Drama? Issues? Problems? There’s hardly a noun that doesn’t fit the occasion,” breathed Lucifer with a scoff.

“Yet, your family reunion was more peaceful than I can say about meeting with my brother Sean.”

“That is because you witnessed the encounter between the rebellious son and his favorite baby brother. I assure you that encounters with Amendiel are not nearly as civilized,” sneered Lucifer.

“Is Raphael going to help Michael?” asked Aaron, and Lucifer flinched minutely.

“Why do y- ah, you’re talking about the child. Yes. I’m not a healer, but Raphael is. He’s going to make sure that the wounds he suffered from will heal. He’ll have scars, but nothing that will become a daily reminder of what happened.”

“What are the limits to Raphael’s powers?” asked Aaron curiously.

“Theoretically, there isn’t a wound he couldn’t heal,” responded the devil as he replaced the cigarette with the flask they had convinced him not to use in the presence of anyone that was not a member of the BAU, and drew a long, deep gulp of the liquor (apparently very expensive whisky if Rossi’s complaints were anything to go by).

“But practically?”

“Just as I must not create stars at will, Raphael cannot just pull someone back from the brink of death… The only loophole we’ve been able to find so far are natural disasters and the chaos of war, because there he can work among other doctors, indiscriminately saving as many lives as he can. So, he teaches, helps driving medical advances, tries to convince humans that the price of a human life shouldn’t be a number…” he sighed. “He spends most of his time in poverty-stricken areas of the world, as both healer and teacher. Occasionally, I call him in, but I would never ask him to break the rules. All I can do is make sure that the humans around me don’t die. When they’re on the brink, I have to let them go. Thankfully, the child was nowhere near the brink.”

“You did a good job in there,” Aaron decided to chime in, stepping into the car.

“You were about half a step away from physically removing me from the room,” Lucifer chuckled lowly.

“True,” confessed Aaron, “but that is because I didn’t see what your goal was. However, I trusted you knew what you were doing and you were right. He was holding it in, and I think you helped him a great deal,” assured him Aaron.

“Raphael will help him. I just… made him cry,” muttered his ancient colleague buckling his seatbelt. “It’s one of my greatest talents. Making people cry.”

“Not out of cruelty,” contradicted the BAU’s Unit Chief.

“Perhaps. Hopefully not out of love either or I’ve truly become my father’s son,” mused Lucifer. He was incredibly maudlin today, but then this was not surprising given a case like that combined with an unexpected family reunion. Hoping to get distract Lucifer from his very complicated past, Aaron called JJ.

“Hi Hotch. You’re on speaker. Was Michael able to tell you anything?” asked their communications liaison.

“Yes, apparently the UnSub may have meddled with the gas and the electricity, but not with the water,” answered Hotch. “Have you heard from Rossi and Reid?”

“Yes, they’re already back and right next to me,” said JJ.

“Hotch,” Dave’s voice sounded through the speaker. “The ME confirmed the police’ initial findings. Simon and Jake Hall, father and son, burned alive. Mrs. Hall suffocated. It’s a very similar MO to what he with the Kilians but it does not coincide with the Clarksons. JJ and Garcia have been working on the background of each family, and victimology is so similar it’s hard to see overlaps, because there’s nothing but overlap. Morgan and Prentiss are now at the Kilian crime scene. I suggest that Reid and I go to the house of the Clarksons.”

“Thanks, Dave, but I want you to dig into the Clarkson family, see what kind of insurances they had. Lucifer and I are on our way back to Woodland. We’ll go by the crime scene.”

“I will meet you there,” said Detective Anderson.

“Oh, that would be perfect, detective,” flirted Lucifer, his grin wide, all gloom erased.

Once Aaron hang up the phone, he just had to ask Lucifer about this, “Any particular reason for your flirting with Detective Anderson? In my experience, you prefer women.”

“I’m an equal opportunist, Agent Hotchner,” replied Lucifer casually. “Statistically, women tend to respond to me more favorably. As to why I have my eyes set on the detective, well, there is something he just burns to tell me. He’s brimming with desire, though what it is I can’t tell. I’m simply trying to coax it out of him without outright asking. It’s tantalizing, knowing that there is something, but letting him come out with it first.”

Aaron smiled at the boyish, happy angel sitting next to him and drove to that first scene. On the way there, Lucifer gave a few more specifics on helping out Morgan and their subsequent encounter with Frank and Michelle Lawrence.

“So, how did you make sure the truck didn’t T-bone Michelle Lawrence’s car? I didn’t know you could levitate cars.”

“Oh, well,” Lucifer’s hand twitched. “To quote Ms. Garcia in her wisdom… I may have done a thing.”

“Was it a legal thing?” asked Aaron, wavering between amusement and terror. “By celestial standards, I mean.”

“It’s not an explicitly forbidden thing,” muttered Lucifer.

Reflexively, Aaron leaned forward to look up at the sky.

“What are you doing?”

“Looking for the solar eclipse,” stated Aaron. “And the locusts.”

“Now you see, that wasn’t me!” Lucifer protested indignantly. “That was Gabriel thinking that using the soul-catcher on the Earthly plane was a wise idea. Three days that the naïve idiot still owes me! But for once, I wasn’t blamed for murdering thousands of children despite actually being present at the time. I had nothing to do with that. I begged Dad not to do it, but he wouldn’t listen. He never listens.”

Regretting his thoughtless joke – and reminding himself that there was a reason he hardly ever made jokes – Aaron apologized, “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories. I was just worried.”

“I kind of focally neutralized gravity,” Lucifer exhaled, answering the original question. “I shouldn’t be playing with gravity too much - too dangerous, because mass and gravity go hand in hand - so there was a risk, but I couldn’t just let the girl die.”

“And you didn’t,” Aaron soothed him. “You did the right thing.”

Lucifer met his gaze, “When has doing the right thing ever mattered?”

“It matters to me. It matters to the team. I am sure it mattered to Mr. Lawrence, his daughter and the man who would have had to live with contributing to a young woman’s death,” replied the Unit Chief.

In response, the fallen angel smiled minutely, “That must suffice, I think.”

They arrived at the scene where Detective Anderson was already waiting for them. He led them inside, a happily flirting Lucifer right by his side. He truly was the Angel of Light. Even in the darkest moments, such as stepping into a house where an entire family had died, he managed to cheer people up…

“So, Detective Anderson, what do gorgeous men like you do on a weekend in a backwater town such as this?”

…Even if the questions were entirely inappropriate.

“Since Portland is only thirty miles from here, there is no shortage of opportunities to mingle. I can give you a list of the nicest spots in town if you’re interested,” suggested the detective, still very intent on looking anywhere but at Lucifer.

“Oh please, chances are that I found them all last night when we arrived,” Lucifer dismissed it. “What do you do on a weekend?”

“Mostly staying at home, going to the local bar on a Saturday evening to relax, go to church on Sunday, skype with my fiancée if he-“ he stopped very abruptly, blanched and looked around.

“Relax,” said Lucifer softly. “It’s just us and I thought the state of Washington was gay friendly?”

“To a point, but not necessarily in a small town and certainly not in law enforcement,” breathed the detective. “I’m just… cautious. He’s career military, Marine Corps, and we’ve been together for ten years…”

He stopped, and Aaron soothed him by continuing that train of thought, “And you’ve learned not say anything considering that you were in a relationship when its reveal would have ended his career.”

A heavy weight fell from the detective’s shoulder. It was obvious that this weighed heavily on him, and that he was overjoyed to have some neutral, friendly ear to talk to.

“Bob’s from Seattle. His career choice’s the one thing that kept him from coming out, but I grew up here. I went to school here. I know the majority of the people living here. I knew the Hall family, I knew the Kilians… Anyway, I was the one not comfortable coming out after DADT expired. He’s been very understanding, but, Gosh, I wish I had said something before he was deployed. It’s been twelve months, and we’re back to the old days of writing letters to each other, because every other method of communication isn’t reliable. Letters take a long time to arrive, but at least they do.”

“What does he do exactly?” asked Lucifer.

“He’s a Green Beret.”

De Oppresso Liber,” stated Lucifer softly.

“Yeah,” breathed the detective.

“So, this is want you want: For your lover or SO, as the younger ones seem to be calling it these days, to return, so that you can tell the world you’re together?” he frowned, not displeased, but clearly confused.

“Gosh, no!” exclaimed the detective. “I just want him home safe. Then, if he agrees, I’ll marry him as soon as he comes home. I was the idiot who was hesitant, and I’ve… I’ll never forgive myself if he…”

“If he died, it would have nothing to do with what you did or said,” frowned Lucifer, confused.

“No,” agreed Detective Anderson, somehow sensing that the BAU’s civilian consultant truly did not understand, “but the love of my life dying without knowing how much I love him… that would be my fault.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes, “Bad enough that my own demon starts believing in monogamy, but why on Earth would you? I’m sure he’d understand if you told him you loved him but that you were horny. Love of your life…” he scoffed. “You can have multiple loves in your life. It doesn’t make you defective or cheapens your relationship in any way. All you need to do is communicate and come to an agreement. I could never give myself to someone who demanded monogamy.”

“So,” concluded Detective Anderson, “you would prefer to have multiple lovers at once. Could they do the same?”

“Of course,” replied Lucifer, waving away his statement impatiently. “I’m not possessive. Possessive love is always destructive. Sleeping with only one person seems… unnatural and cruel, not to mention boring. I enjoy variety, no matter how good the sex is. Besides, many people desire to have sex with me. Not abiding by their desires seems… selfish on my part. Withholding that for one person alone? No thanks.”

“So, sexually polygamous, but what about romantic love?” challenged Detective Anderson causing Aaron to almost smile. It was always good to playfully contest Lucifer’s worldview. “Have you ever been with someone?”

“That wasn’t really an option in my previous occupation,” replied Lucifer.

“Have you ever been in love?”

“Elaborate,” replied Lucifer curiously, always so very eager to learn about new things.

“Given how you were willing to eviscerate Sheriff Foster for disrespecting your team, I don’t doubt you love fiercely, but what about romantic love? Someone to go home to, with whom you discuss your fears and dreams, someone that supports you through thick and thin.”

“And how is that different from platonic love… or my therapist for that matter?” countered Lucifer, and Aaron glanced away so they would not see that he was desperately trying not to laugh.

“Good point,” accepted the detective with a grin. “Sexual desire is usually also part of the package, but doesn’t have to be.”

“So, there is no difference between romantic love and platonic love. If romance can be non-sexual and platonic friendships may involve sex, then there is no difference.”

“Apart from holding hands in public,” which Lucifer instantly protested by bringing up that, depending on the culture, holding hands was more familial and platonic rather than romantic, “candlelight dinners for two and cuddling up on a couch talking for hours and sleeping in the same… apartment, because not all couples share beds, no there isn’t,” smiled Detective Anderson.

“Some of my lovers were together with the same person for half a decade and they still didn’t share their living space,” countered Lucifer.

“You’re right,” laughed the detective. “I yield.”

“Agent Hotchner?” asked Lucifer.

“Oh, the best romantic relationships and the best friendships are very similar; you may find them within the same person. They are the people you call after a bad day. They are your rock. When something good happens, they’re the person you think of telling first,” breathed Aaron as the pain of his loss and the shame over his failed marriage tormented him. Lucifer’s gaze told him that he knew exactly what he was thinking, but he decided not to say anything. Even without doing so, Detective Anderson noticed the change and seemlessly focused back on the job, much less anxious than before, demonstrating yet again the kind of power Lucifer had over people, even if the devil himself was completely unaware.

The house itself did not reveal much, but given the information they had obtained from the other two scenes, it was clear that first fire was an outlier. Something about how the family reacted to the fire was different.

“Then let’s remove the first fire from the equation,” suggested Morgan several hours later, once they were all back at the police station discussing the case. The sheriffs had not joined them, but Detective Anderson stuck around on the precinct, even though he was not currently in the room. “What do we know?”

“Not enough,” sighed Dave. “Just that we have a serial killer on the loose who uses fire as his weapon of choice, who has some sort of skill to manipulate electrical currents and gaslines, and who doesn’t seem to have a specific main target, though the youngest family members were the farthest away from the fire in both instances.”

“We also know that he doesn’t seem to stick around to finish the job, or Michael wouldn’t have lived,” continued Emily.

“I hate to say this, guys,” said Reid quietly, “but without a third family-“

He stopped, but they all knew he was right. Without more victims, they could not do anything.

As if waiting for that cue, they heard the distant horns of the fire department.

“Detective Anderson?” Lucifer addressed the man who had just rushed into the room.

“Family of four,” breathed the detective. “They’re still putting out the fires, but they only found one survivor. He was rushed to the burn center, but the EMTs said he won’t last the night. Alexander Matthews, 19. He craddled his dead brother’s body in his arms when they found him.”

Lucifer rose from his seat. Aaron knew that contesting this was futile.

“I’ll drive,” said Dave solemnly, causing the BAU’s Unit Chief to breathe a little easier.

Chapter Text

David had decided months ago that a quiet Lucifer was the most dangerous Lucifer to deal with. As long as he was his usual talkative self, at least you knew what he was thinking, but when he was all quiet and serious, an explosion usually followed not far behind.

“Cases such as this one are among the worst we need to deal with, Lucifer,” he decided to say softly. “I completely understand if this is hard for you to handle-“

“I’ve punished human souls pretty much since your species was in its infancy, Agent Rossi,” was the cool reply. “Forgive me, but assuming that we’ll ever come across a case that is worse than what I’ve already dealt with, is honestly quite naïve.”

“I agree that you’ve probably seen and punished much worse, but before working with us, you’ve never had to talk to the victims or the family of a victim, and that’s where burn cases are particularly hard. Fire is devasting.”

“You’re telling me?” was the quiet reply.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” was all Dave could think of saying.

Lucifer’s lips formed a smile that did not reach his eyes, “My brother is expecting me.”

“Your br… Details, please, now.”

On their ride to the hospital, Lucifer briefly told him about the interview with Michael Hall and the subsesquent encounter with Raphael he had initiated, however inadvertently. It was a good thing Aaron decided not to mention that to the entire team.

Even though Dave was not around during the Tobias Hankel case, he knew enough about it to understand its devastating impact on Reid, and that his reaction to hearing about the real Raphael was likely to be complicated.

After they parked, Dave brought up Alexander Matthews to prepare the devil.

“Have you ever dealt with burn victims… Excluding yourself, of course; a living human burn victim? Alexander will die tonight. Are you prepared for that? This isn’t going to be easy.”

“Agent Rossi, dying may sometimes be peaceful, but it’s never easy.” With that, Lucifer stepped out of the car and together they were brought to the isolation room after receiving instructions to put on single-use scrubs, and that they should try not to agitate him too much. When they entered, there was a doctor in the room sitting with the boy. Upon seeing them, the man of Middle Eastern descent rose from his seat, his eyes on Lucifer.

“Raphael, I assume,” quibbed Dave to subvert the feeling of both awe and primal fear that coursed through him. The archangel’s dark eyes were on Dave, and he nodded briefly before his eyes met Lucifer’s and he shook his head sadly to a silently asked question that David could not interpret.

The devil acknowledged the silent communication with a curt nod and said, “We’ll take it from here. Go! There are plenty of lives to save.”

Raphael turned back to Alexander and lowered his voice, “Alexander, these two gentlemen are going to stay with you for a while.”

The boy, whose face showed signs of severe burns, whispered his goodbyes in a hoarse voice, which indicated that his airways had suffered from severe damage.

“I’ll come visit you soon, I promise.”

With a bang, Dave realized that Raphael would not be returning to the room as long as the boy was alive. On his way out, the healer came to a stop next to Lucifer whose eyes were on Alexander, but his hand reached out to touch the back of the archangel’s neck. Readily, Raphael stepped closer, his head lowered reverently, and Lucifer gently kissed the top of his head.

Raphael said something in a language that Dave would identify as Farsi if asked, and Lucifer easily replied in turn.

Dave, desperately forcing himself not to think too much, decided to focus on the boy whose last moments on this Earth would be pure agony, “Hi Alexander, my name is Dave. I am from the FBI.”

“Where’s Lenny?” was the first question, desperation coloring every syllable.

“What is the last thing you remember?” deflected Dave.

Alexandre wheezed as he tried to inhale, and he became agitated the moment Dave asked his question, “I don’t know… I was late. I tutor that kid, Bobby. He had a lot of questions. Mom wrote a text, said that I should get myself something to eat before returning, because the gas wasn’t working.” From the strain, his wheezing intensified and he had to stop.

“It’s okay,” murmured David. “Take your time.” To his surprise, Raphael was back at Alexander’s side and while his right hand fingered with the IV, his left hand covertly ghosted over the boy’s head. Alexander’s relief from the pain was tanginble.

“Thank you,” mouthed David, and he realized that he had no idea whether there was some title with which you had to address an archangel.

“You are welcome, Agent Rossi,” replied Raphael, which had David quickly turn to Lucifer whose complete focus was on the boy.

“When I returned,” continued Alexander as soon as Dave asked again. “It was way past eight. It was already getting dark and I saw… Oh God!” he exclaimed, tears forming in his eyes. “I couldn’t get through the front, so I took the back…. It was blocked, but I managed to get in.” Dave shifted at that; this was an important piece of information. “There was so much smoke… I can’t.” His voice broke.

“You don’t have to,” said David.

They let him breathe for a few moments. The breaths were shallow and sounded painful, like it took a lot of effort. Meanwhile, Raphael left the room and Lucifer went to the other side of the bed.

Alexander looked at him silently.

“This is Mr. Morningstar, our civilian consultant.”

“You’re Dr. Sanzio’s big brother,” stated the boy.

“Very observant of you,” acknowledged the devil, quite impressed.

“So, Death’s older than the angel of healing… Makes sense to me,” wheezed the boy with effort.

Dave frowned, but there was a sense of dread he could not shake, “I’m not sure I understand.”

“He’s not very good at concealing his identity, you know,” confided Alexander quietly, his eyes on Lucifer. “You might want to give him some advice. You’re better at it.”

It was utterly inappropriate to snort in a situation like that, utterly and wholly inappropriate, but to praise Lucifer for his ability to keep his secrets hidden was probably the joke of the year.

“I’m sorry,” coughed Dave as he tried to hide his laughter.

Alexander’s lips twitched just a bit at that, “Take that, Lenny! He always says I’m not funny.” This time, the tears flowed uncontrollably, and Alexander’s lips trembled. “Will I see him again?” The question was addressed at Lucifer.

“I have no doubt that you’ll be with him very soon,” assured him the fallen archangel quietly. “But you’re wrong.the Healer came to help the angels. Death is younger than either of us for she came with mortal life.”

“I don’t want to die,” breathed the boy quietly. “I don’t.”

Dave exhaled as inconspicuously as possible. This was going to be a difficult one. Lucifer grabbed a chair and sat down next to Alexander, his expression displaying serenity he rarely showed in other situations.

“I know.”

Lucifer never lied.

Dave knew that, logically, but it was always especially striking in moments where other people might try to deflect or reassure even if there was no hope.

“I’m afraid,” commented the boy.

“What are you afraid of?” asked Lucifer, utterly confused. “Unless boredom is something you fear, Heaven is not very intimidating.”

“Boredom?” breathed Alexander, bewildered.

“Sorry,” scoffed Lucifer. “I meant ‘bliss.’”

He could not even say it without sarcasm. David could practically hear the quotation marks.

“What kind of angel are you?” whispered Alexander.

“Death is not my domain, young one,” replied Lucifer. “Justice is.”

“Oh… Did someone hurt my family?” he looked confused and his voice was weak. It would not take too long and the boy would fall asleep. There was a good chance he would not wake up from that.

“Yes,” confirmed Lucifer.

“And we think you might’ve seen something,” Dave continued the interview quietly. “Go back to earlier tonight. Do you remember seeing anyone before entering the house? Was someone watching?”

Alexander’s eyes went wide, clearly remembering, “There was a man. He wore a hoodie. I called him to help me, but he walked away.”

“Do you know him?” asked Dave urgently. “A gait can be very characteristic. Did it seem familiar to you?”

Alexander shook his head, “I’ve…” He froze, “Yes. I… Tall, long strides with a limp. I’ve seen it before, but I don’t remember where... Why did he do this?”

“We don’t know yet,” answered Dave softly, “but we’ll find out and we’ll make sure he’s punished for his crimes.”

“Doesn’t matter,” muttered the boy. The tears began to flow anew.

In this job, you tended to think more about life and death than was probably healthy. Often, it made you wonder which way to go was easier: having it come to you swiftly when you least expected it without the ability to talk to your loved ones one more time, or staring death in the eye with the knowledge that there was nothing you could do to stop it. Alexander was suffering from the worst of both scenarios: knowing death was coming, but everyone he loved was already gone.

“What can I do to make you stop crying?” asked Lucifer quietly, lost and remarkbly unsure.

“Sorry,” sobbed Alexander, and Dave just shook his head. Why were the good ones always the ones apologizing for things they had no control over?

“Why are you so afraid? You’ll soon be with your family. You’re tagged for Heaven. Regret for not being able to live out your life I’d understand, but-“

“Luc-Mr. Morningstar,” interjected Dave, correcting himself at the last minute. The boy seemed to know Lucifer was an angel; there was not need to panic him.

“So, it’s all good? After. I’ll see them again?”

By now, it should no longer surprise David that Lucifer – as strange as his attempts for comfort sometimes seemed – was really, really good at putting people at ease.

“It wouldn’t be very blissful if you didn’t, now would it?” countered Lucifer quietly.

“Will I meet God?” asked the boy. “What do I say to him?”

David was ready to interfere if Lucifer snapped at Alexander for this question, but the devil merely shook his head, “Damned if I know, young one.” He exhaled. “You won’t see God… or even want to see him. Bliss tunes out all the bad, and only includes the things that made you happy. You’ll forget the bad days with your family and remember the good. Today will be nothing but a frightening dream,” explained Lucifer quietly.

Alexander only looked at Lucifer, “All I can think of is the fire… Fire’s… Will the devil come and try to get me? Is this why you’re here? To protect me?”

The fallen angel tilted his head and retorted, “I’m here to make sure the man who did this to you, gets his due. And you don’t have to worry,” he continued quietly, “The devil won’t touch you, I promise.”

“I never really believed. Mom and- they did, but I never- doesn’t that mean…” he was either rapidly losing his strength or he truly did not know what to say.

“You go to Heaven, with your family, regardless of what you fear, young one,” countered Lucifer gently.

“Okay,” accepted Alexander. “Will you stay with me?”

“Yes.”

Alexander softly exhaled, “Thank you.”

With that, he closed his eyes and fell asleep moments later. Lucifer may as well have been a statue as the minutes went by. As promised, he did not touch Alexander, even when shivers shook the dying boy. All in all, it was almost peaceful, though he woke up one more time to feverishly call for his brother. David’s favorite angel calmed him easily by saying that Lenny was fine, and that he was waiting for him. Few minutes later, the boy’s breathing started to even out and David knew it was only a matter of seconds.

The experienced profiler then observed Lucifer who lifted his right hand to his own shoulder; it looked almost as if he was touching an invisible hand. A sigh escaped the devil’s lips and he lowered his head. Alexander coded moments later.

What happened next was surprising. David expected the fallen angel to linger, but instead, Lucifer just got up and approached the door.

“We have a killer to punish,” was all he said before the door closed behind him.

David was dumbstruck, not knowing what to say.

Raphael entered the room with a nurse and called the time of death before gently leading Dave outside and into an empty room next to Alexander’s.

“I don’t understand,” admitted Dave, looking into warm, brown eyes.

“Angels cannot feel compassion for corpses, Agent Rossi. All that matters is the soul,” said he softly.

“Your bedside manner is adequate,” countered David.

“After a fashion, I learned that humans use their dead to mourn a loss and to heal, which I have accepted, even though it makes no rational sense,” explained Raphael. “Lucifer won’t ever react in a human manner to death. He lived a very long time before death was even a possibility. More than that, he’s the Angel of Light. When humans die, your light disappears because it is connected to the soul and the soul crosses over to the afterlife. He’ll mourn your absence, but it would never occur to him to hold your body once you’re gone. It would be the emotional equivalent of hugging a chair.”

Just as Dave nodded to accept this new piece of information, Raphael vanished and reappeared at the window.

Shocked and afraid, Dave stumbled backward. They had come to accept the small flashes of Lucifer’s various powers, but teleportation was definitely a new one. The healer appeared to realize what was going on because he turned to him slowly and deliberately, indicating with his hands that he was no threat.

“Agent Rossi, forgive me. This wasn’t me. My brother froze time, but angels are not personally affected by his domain.”

“Lucif-Amenadiel.” They had never met the devil’s oldest brother, but Lucifer had told them of the Angel of Time. David knew enough to know that Lucifer was not on the greatest terms with the first angel. “Is Lucifer alright?”

Raphael tilted his head. This very familiar reaction removed all doubt in Dave’s mind. This was indeed Lucifer’s brother.

“It’s good to know you have his back,” smiled the archangel.

“That doesn’t answer my question,” replied Dave sharply.

“I don’t think these two have been ‘alright’ after seeing each other in thousands of years, Agent Rossi,” said Raphael, resigned.

“Then what are we waiting for?”

As quickly as possible without breaking into a run, Dave left the room, walked through the corridors of the burn center and entered the parking lot. Lucifer was standing next to their car, smoking a cigarette. He looked as rattled as Dave had ever seen him. The hand that held the cigarette trembled slightly; noticing Dave’s observation, Lucifer hurriedly flicked the cigarette away, and hid his hand behind his back.

“Lucifer?” The name was a question from Raphael’s lips, the three syllables possibly containing an entire plethora of different queries.

“How many of the little ones genuinely think I’m evil?” Lucifer directly addressed his little brother. “Strike that. How many of them don’t? I feel like that answer will take you less time.”

“Lucifer-“

“Tell me,” growled the fallen angel. His eyes did not flash, but they were wide and very dark.

“Azrael, Muriel and Jophiel for sure,” was the quiet, sad reply.

The laughter that followed was physically painful to hear. There was no mirth in that sound, only resignation, anger and pain.

“Well, that’s… about as many as I expected.”

“What did he say to you?” asked Raphael.

“The usual. A balance must be maintained, yada yada yada. Heaven is good; Hell is evil. That I must not show empathy to a dying boy whose entire family burned alive, because apparently, I cannot possibly feel a semblance of compassion, since I’m the devil and all,” Lucifer hissed, boiling with anger.

“Seriously?” David commented disbelievingly. “If you feeling compassion is an issue then this world would have come to an end long before I was born.”

Lucifer frowned, “You didn’t know me then.”

“That’s true, but people don’t change in my experience, and I assume this is even more accurate for immortal beings. While we can break, while we may be capable of unspeakable things if forced into a corner or suffer from a trauma beyond what we can bear, people don’t really change. Cruel and destructive personalities may manage to portray a kind version of themselves and kind people may cynically claim to hate people, but that doesn’t change who they are. You were pushed beyond what any human could possibly begin to face without going insane… Don’t think I forgot what you said about being obliterated when your father cast you out. You received the ultimate punishment… You survived, but it should have rendered you cruel and merciless.”

“Mercy isn’t my domain, Agent Rossi,” interjected Lucifer.

“If you say so, but you are both desire and justice is your domain,” countered David. “You show mercy whenever you punish, even when your sentence is harsh…And as far as desire is concerned: mercy isn’t the right word, but even when you have every reason to mock someone’s desire, it wouldn’t even occur to you to do so… The incredulity may slip through, but you remain forever understanding. The rest of the team agrees. So face it, Lucifer, we may not be angels, but criminal behavior is my team’s ‘domain,’ as far as we can call it that, and you, my friend, couldn’t be further away from being evil if you tried.”

Raphael smiled brightly, while Lucifer simply stared at him, speechless.

“I think we have a bad man to catch,” said Lucifer ultimately, before stepping into the car, giving his brother a casual wave before closing the door.

“That car door was locked,” sighed David, causing the archangel and healer to laugh merrily.

“That’s nothing. It used to drive Father insane that nothing ever seemed to hold Lucifer back or keep him out of places he waned to explore.”

“How does that work?” asked the profiler curiously. He had assumed it was a devilish feature, a skill learned in Hell.

“He’s the Light. Dad granted him the ability to bring light into darkness. A lock could loosely be viewed as an attempt to block out the light. Lucifer is compelled to unlock every door, because failing to do so would go against his nature.” He looked at his watch, “I must go back, Agent Rossi, but it was a pleasure.”

He stepped up next to the car and put a hand on the glass. Due to an unfortunate angle, Dave was unable to see if Lucifer responded to the gesture, though Raphael’s soft nod told David that he did.

“So, that’s your baby brother Raphael,” he stated as soon as he sat down and buckled up.

“Yep.” The response was deceptively light.

“Good kid.”

Lucifer chuckled, “He’s the fifth angel, Agent Rossi. He was born shortly after Heaven was formed.”

“True,” accepted Dave casually. Even after months of having the literal devil as a colleague, the deeply religious Catholic in him still had these weekly urges to go hide in a corner asking God for guidance (while the FBI agent in him simultaneously wanted to rake Lucifer’s father over the coals). Thankfully, today was not one of these moments. “You’re right, though. He’s the sweet one.”

Softly and fondly, Lucifer smiled, though whether that was aimed at David or Raphael, he could not say for sure.

“Alexander knew his murderer,” continued Lucifer, seemlessly focusing back on the case.

“Yes, and there’s a new layer to his MO that we missed before,” added Dave.

“He makes sure they can’t flee by blocking the door from the outside,” stated Lucifer.

“Yes, and he plans meticulously. This is the second time that we hear about gas and electricity not working properly. I’ll call Hotch. We’re ready to give the preliminary profile.”

Chapter Text

“Our UnSub is male, white and probably between the age of forty and fifty,” began Agent Hotchner, and Lucifer was leaning against a doorframe in the background, enjoying every moment of it. He loved watching them shine; this was their world and they never failed to brighten the room whenever they delivered the profile. Regardless how bleak the situation was, listening to them gave the local police force hope and the confidence that this would soon be over. It was not any different this morning. “Given our findings at the last two crime scenes, the UnSub appears to cut off escape routes and sets the fire as far away from the room of the youngest member of the family as possible. However, he doesn’t take particular care to ensure the youngest child’s survival or their demise, which is rather unusual. Please remember that this man is not a classic arsonist. He uses fire as a cruel, unpredictable weapon. Given his MO, instead of profiling him as an arsonist, we classify him as a family annihilator. He’s also someone from your community.”

As always, whenever the BAU mentioned something like that, the entire room of local law enforcement stiffened, and it baffled Lucifer how humans always believed that others were responsible for the most despicable sins.

Agent Rossi continued, “Alexander Matthews saw the UnSub before he ran inside to save his family. He described a vaguely familiar man with a limp, but could not place or identify him, so we must widen our search. This could be someone who may have come into close contact with other members of the family, like the younger brother or his parents.”

“The limp could be an old or recently acquired injury. Although Alexander recognized the man, the limp could also be a forensic countermeasure,” said Agent Prentiss. “What we know for sure is that the UnSub watched Alexander Matthews enter his family home, but did not try to stop him, and we know from Michael Hall’s survival that, even if he stays near the crime scene, he doesn’t finish the job, which is highly unusual for a family annihilator.”

“Serial killers using arson are very rare,” continued Dr. Reid. “In fact, this is only the second described case, meaning that we cannot work from precedence. Currently, we believe that the Clarkson family’s death is not directly connected to the subsequent murders, because it doesn’t meet any of the given criteria.”

“However,” said Agent Morgan, “at this point we theorize that this first fire was a possible trigger. Given that the younger sibling’s room was always the farthest away from the source of the fire indicates that the UnSub identifies with the eleven to twelve year-old children, possibly having gone through a similar experience. Look into fires in the region that killed a family with children around the age of eight to fourteen thirty to forty years ago. What we cannot say so far is his motivation for killing.”

Lucifer felt a surge of annoyance when he saw the two sheriff’s sneer at that admission.

 “As you can see, this is only a preliminary profile,” concluded Agent Hotchner. “Our next step will be the focus on the Matthews family due to Alexander Matthews’ statement. Considering that he recognized the UnSub’s gait tells us that it is more than a fleeting acquaintance, but not in Alexander’s immediate surroundings, so we look into Woodland Middle School, his younger brother’s sports teams, his parents’ friends and activities, basically anything that would put Alexander in sporadic but repeated contact to a person. Be aware that we don’t have a lot of time. These last two murders were very close together, so he is devolving quickly and he’s not going to stop. We ask you to look into connections to the Matthews family, and help us look into possible causes for our UnSub’s trauma. Thank you.”

It was very early on a Sunday morning, and the team had only had a few hours of sleep, but he did not recognize any of the signs of human exhaustion he had learned to look for long before he met them. They had taught him a whole range of new signs, but these were not currently present either. Lucifer on the other hand, though not physically tired, was quite exhausted, but he was unsure why. He was convinced that he could still help the others, yet his mind was strangely unfocused. He was used to distraction, but he usually had control over that… apart from that time he newly acquired a smartphone; now these little things were addictive in the most tantalizing way.

“Lucifer?”

“Yes, Agent Hotchner?”

“Reid is working on the geographic profile and Prentiss is calling Garcia about connections to the Matthews family. I want you to stay with them,” said he.

“I’m quite capable of going into the field,” protested Lucifer, more sharply than intended.

“I don’t doubt that, but I know for a fact that you neither slept nor looked for a companion last night after returning to Portland.”

Lucifer caught the FBI agent’s gaze and shook his head ruefully, “I’m starting to concur with Ms. Garcia’s stance on profilers, Agent Hotchner. It can be annoying.”

The man’s lips twitched, “David has told me how well you handled everything, but meeting two estranged siblings in one night could not have been easy.”

“Three, actually, though Azrael didn’t exactly show herself.”

“I would like you to stay here for now, not only for your own sake, but because I think you can help the team best if you helped them gather information rather than interviewing a whole range of different people.”

“If you think so, Agent Hotchner, far be it from me to contradict,” replied Lucifer softly. “Good luck.”

As Agent Hotchner joined the part of the team that would be out in the field today, Lucifer made his way over to Dr. Reid whose eyes roamed over a map. Just as the young genius opened his mouth to talk to him, Lucifer was saved by the bell… so to speak.

“Hello?” said he once he accepted the incoming call.

A distinctly young, female squeak sounded through the phone, but it was muffled by what Lucifer knew by now as someone putting his or her palm over the speaker.

Not that it helped much.

“Daddy,” breathed Michelle Lawrence, her voice unmistakable. “You talk to him.”

“Why? Just tell him what we discussed,” countered her father, fondness and amusement coloring every syllable.

“Daddy, please!”

There was a sigh.

“Mr. Morningstar?”

“Yes, Mr. Lawrence. I’m assuming your spawn is afraid of talking to the devil all by herself,” greeted him Lucifer.

“No,” chuckled the musician. “Only worried you would say ‘no.’”

Utterly confused, Lucifer said, “I’m not into children, so I must decline, actually. You are all so young, I had to set some limits regarding my acceptance of companions: when I meet them, they must already be fully grown, know themselves and know what they want. Otherwise, I could never say ‘yes.’”

There was a long pause that followed his statement.

“That… is definitely not what she wanted to ask you, but – as a father – is a relief to hear. This call is about Tuesday. The entire choir is very enthusiastic about visiting your club, but we promised to call ahead of time. Are you willing to accept a group of music-loving Christians into your home?”

Lucifer felt the first tendrils of amusement tickle him, “That depends. Do these Christians intend on going Damien Karras on me?”

A chuckle was the answer, “I sincerely doubt it. Though I wouldn’t underestimate them. Most will recognize an Exorcist reference.”

“It’s all myth, you know. Demons cannot possess the living,” answered Lucifer, maudlin enough to miss the steady presence of Maze and other faithful demons like Dromos. He felt a spike of protectiveness and decided to convey that to Frank Lawrence. “They have their duties, which they carry out far more faithfully than most humans.”

“I’m sure they do, Mr. Morningstar,” was the reply, and there was no dismissal in the musician’s voice, as melodic as ever, though it was distorted through the transmission. “Are you alright?”

Surprised at the concern, Lucifer could not help but reply without deflection, “I sat by as a boy about your spawn’s age slowly succumbed to wounds inflicted on him by a fire set out of sheer malice. I don’t care why the perpetrator has this inclination. The others do, but I don’t. He’s evil. He must be punished for his crimes. Yet,” he chuckled ruefully, “I’m the evil that must be defeated and forced back into the shadow.”

Amenadiel’s words rang in his ears like a thousand bells, and he wished – not for the first time – that his memory were as fragile and unreliable as that of a human.

I feel like there are layers to this conversation that I’m not privy to, but… You saved my little girl’s life without second thought. You put yourself in danger for her.”

“I really didn’t,” said Lucifer. “I cannot take credit for any selfless behavior that goes beyond the distinct adversion to seeing a body crushed by a car.”

Again, there was silence.

“Well, thank you for adding yet another nightmare to the frankly frightening number I’ve been suffering from since Friday.”

Lucifer wished he could see the other man, because he had no idea whether this was said in jest or not.

“Apologies,” said he. “That was not my intension.”

“Thus proving my point,” was the firm, naïve, oh-so-sure reply, uttered with that frightening level of conviction as only a man of faith could. “You’re not evil. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know you.”

Lucifer scoffed.

“You’ve known me for what… twenty minutes altogether? But let’s be generous and say half an hour. The one who wishes me to go to Hell is my brother whom I’ve known for my entire life. I dare say he knows more about me than you do.”

“Well, then let’s look at the list of crimes ‘evil people’ would commit…”

“Oh, don’t you use Scripture on me, ‘padre,’” hissed Lucifer coldly. “I know what it says better than you do.”

To his surprise, the other man chuckled lowly in response.

“Not you too. I’ve been called ‘Father Frank’ far too many times.”

“You do sermons like the best of them,” admitted Lucifer, amused, “but please tell, who’s called you on that?”

“Ten years ago, when Michelle was a young girl, I was touring a lot. Opened for… so many people. One night, on our way back from a performance, there was a car accident. Drunk driver. We were incredibly lucky. Everyone survived; there were no serious injuries. It was a miracle.”

“It really wasn’t,” contradicted Lucifer with a scoff. “But I’m guessing this is the sob story of how you found your faith.”

“My faith was always there,” said the musician calmly. “But that night changed me. I continued touring, but wherever we went, I would always visit the churches and play for them. To give thanks. Through that, I found my calling.”

“And let me guess: you started sharing that newfound faith with everyone.”

“I never held sermons nor did I actively try to convert anyone, but I may have been vocal about my strong belief that God has a plan.”

“Yes,” chuckled Lucifer. “That.”

You don’t think he does?”

“I know he does, but that doesn’t mean his plans are good… or acceptable for that matter.”

Humans knew about some of Dad’s worst deeds, yet they continued to have faith, as did all of his siblings. Lucifer wished sometimes he could be that naïve.

He used to be.

You’re deflecting,” said Mr. Lawrence. “But nothing you said so far has convinced me that your brother is right. God has a plan and he has faith in us. Including you.”

“He has a strange way of showing that,” growled Lucifer. “In fact, I can tell you with absolute certainty that he did not believe in me, and that he cast me out, rejected me, and within a timespan longer than you can possibly comprehend, has not given a single indication that I may have had a point. Or that his sentence was unjust. That he acted out of momentary rage and anger. He’s God, so he can’t be wrong.” Even to his own ears, he sounded petulant. He was still right about this.

“Again,” said Mr. Lawrence, “you saved Michelle. It seems to me you’re on the right path.”

“Oh yes, the infamous road to redemption,” sneered Lucifer. “Though from what I should redeem myself, not even Dad could tell me.”

“Then there is nothing to redeem yourself from, is there?” was the annoyingly trusting, cheerful reply. “Your brother is wrong.”

“Careful, padre,” warned Lucifer quietly. “By doubting my brother, you doubt my father’s first son, and thus you already doubt the plan you praised mere seconds ago.”

“I have faith in God and his plan. I’ve never thought too much about angels, but as they live and breathe, they can be wrong.”

Again, it did not sound like he was mocking Lucifer and that in turn, confused Lucifer. The BAU had fully accepted his beliefs even before they realized that his worldview was reality and theirs expanded as a result. Mr. Lawrence did not sound like he was just indulging him either.

“Well, Amenadiel only ever acts in Dad’s name, so – by your logic – he’s right in shunning me.”

“How can you be sure?” Lucifer could just hear that serene, trusting smile. “Unless you tell me Amenadiel is omniscient, he may have simply misunderstood.”

“I wouldn’t know. Dad hasn’t exactly talked to me.”

At least not beyond vague dreams that involved a lot of fire and brimstone raining down on humanity.

“I barely know you, admittedly, but Shandra has told us about you, and I distinctly remember her saying that you’re the light of the party.”

The friendly jibe hit dead centre.

“It seems Agent Hotchner was right as he so often is,” muttered Lucifer. “This case isn’t good for me. It brings up-“ Fire, brimstone, Falling, punishment, agony- “very unpleasant memories. Ms. Keaton is right, however, I thrive to give everyone a good time, so let’s talk about something other than God. I’ll be more fun in another context.”

He should probably make an innuendo, but somehow, it felt wrong.

“Mr. Lawrence?” he asked into the silence.

There was shuffling as if the man was moving about.

The first notes of Ray’s Mess Around suddenly sounded through the speaker of the phone and it sent a jolt through Lucifer whose fingers itched to join the upbeat song. Instead, he sang the lyrics.

Ah, you can talk about the pit, barbecue
The band was jumpin', the people too
Ah, mess around
They doin' the mess around
They doin' the mess around
Everybody doin' the mess around

Ah, everybody was juiced, you can, bet your soul
They did the boogie-woogie, with a steady roll
They mess around
They doin' the mess around
They doin' the mess around
Everybody doin' the mess around

Now, ah, when I say stop don't you move a peg
When I say go, just ah, shake your leg
And do the mess around
I declare, do the mess around
Yeah do the mess around,
Everybody's doin' the mess around

Now let me have it there, boy

Now you got it, boy

Sheriff Harper stormed out of a nearby office and glared at Lucifer. Through the speaker, he heard young Ms. Lawrence’ voice, “Dad, what’re you doing? We’re running late.”

“What do you think you’re doing, Morningstar?” hissed Harper as he rounded up on him. “Have you no respect?”

Searing hot anger slashed through the devil like an old friend, and he stepped right into the burly man’s comfort zone. The sheriff retreated reflexively.

“Says the man who treats my colleagues as if they were the ones responsible for the mess when it is you that-“

“Mr. Morningstar!” Agent Prentiss called, rushing in like the white knight she was, protecting some hapless sheriff from the devil’s ire. “Perfect, I was looking for you. Please, we need your opinion.”

Lucifer’s lips turned into a sharp smile, his gaze never leaving Sheriff Harper’s glare.

“Of course. Mr. Lawrence?”

“Yes, Mr. Morningstar?”

“Duty calls both of us. Dad doesn’t like to share. Thank you for calling, for the music, and I look forward to having you, your spawn and your fellow God-worshippers over on Tuesday.” That earned him a genuine chuckle. “Hopefully, I’ll be back by then. If not, I’ll let you know.”

“Thank you, Mr. Morningstar. I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

Wordlessly, he followed Agent Prentiss.

“What do you got?” asked he as soon as the door closed behind him shutting out the sheriff.

“Mostly the wish to keep Sheriff Harper out of Hell if we can help it,” quibbed Agent Prentiss.

“Oh yes,” muttered Dr. Reid sardonically. “What a terrible loss that would be.”

“Reid!”

“Come on, did you hear what he said to JJ last night?”

“Do tell,” said Lucifer sitting down next to the young genius.

“He said-“

“Guys, let’s focus on the UnSub, please?” interrupted Agent Prentiss sharply. “Garcia, you with us?”

“Yes, but I’m coming up with zip. Nada. Nothing. Police files, fire department reports and local newspaper articles from thirty to forty years ago aren’t online. This is… medieval, that’s what it is.”

“So, let’s widen the search, look into newspaper articles from the closest cities. Tragedies like that are usually statewide news,” said Agent Prentiss.

“Yes, and crossreference with fires where entire families were killed,” continued Reid. “Something triggered him.”

“Okay, I’ll do that. But this is going to take a while,” said Ms. Garcia. “I’ll dig it all up, and get back to you for crossreferencing the list with another aspect of the profile. Anything else?”

“He wishes to harm others the same way he was hurt in order to have someone understand that pain,” concluded Lucifer.

They all looked at him for that.

“Did you ever think about… doing that?” asked Ms. Garcia cautiously. The screen did not offer the best resolution, but he recognized her worry.

“What? Making humans pay for Dad kicking me out of Heaven?” They did not say a word, but the question was exactly that; he could tell. “No, that wouldn’t be just. One evil does not rectify another. Dr. Reid, what have you learned?”

“Not much, I’m afraid. I am 98.6% certain that he lives in Woodland and with a certainty of 85.2% lives near the Clarkson house, but the range still covers over two hundred houses.”

“That’s better than nothing,” said Agent Prentiss. “Given his profile, he’s most likely integrated into Woodland society superficially, but he will have trouble maintaining longterm relationships. Garcia, check Reid’s perimeter and exclude all houses occupied by traditional family structures.”

“There are a lot of singles living in Woodland, it seems,” muttered the computer genius. “Still fifty-two households.”

“Alright, now cross-reference that list with the Matthews family.”

“Forty.”

Agent Prentiss sighed, “How’s that possible?”

“Well, there’s Father Jacob. He lives alone and both the Hall and the Matthews family go to his sermons-“

“We should definitely investigate that,” said Lucifer. “Sounds very suscpicious to me.”

“There’s Edward Goldstein, High School history teacher, but no, he doesn’t teach in one of Alexander’s classes,” continued Ms. Garcia. “Or here, both Ralph Finnegan and Sandra Norton teach at Leonard Matthews’ and Michael Hall’s Middle School. Or… there’s too much overlap, I need more.”

The mention of Michael Hall made Lucifer wonder how the boy was doing. He stepped aside, folded his hands, and lowered his head, “Little brother, how’s our older brother’s namesake? Give me a call or send me a text when you’re free. The number is-“ He rattled off the number before unfolding his hands and looking up to catch the gazes of three very curious team members.

“Who were you praying to?”

“My brother,” explained Lucifer. “He’s at the hospital.”

“What is Amenadiel doing at the hospital?” asked Dr. Reid.

“Not him. He’s off planning my demise. No, I’m talking about Raphael.”

The second he uttered the words he knew he should not have done that. Dr. Reid flinched and left the room abruptly.

Helplessly, he turned to Agent Prentiss whose eyes were wide, “Go. We’ll continue this.”

“Young one-“ began Lucifer after opening the door, but Dr. Reid was not out in the hall.

“Excuse me, Officer, have you seen Dr. Reid?” asked Lucifer the nice policewoman from the detective’s team.

“He went outside. He looked distraught. I figured he needed a smoke. This case wears us all down.”

“He doesn’t smoke,” was all Lucifer said before thanking her and leaving the police station.

Chapter Text

He found Dr. Reid not too far off, his bright soul like a beacon calling to Lucifer. He was standing nearby a couple of trees, obviously gathering his thoughts.

Mentioning Raphael so suddenly had been foolish. He knew that. He had read the files on Tobias Hankel’s case and springing a trauma on anyone was not a good idea, as he had been taught, especially not someone who – like him – did not forget with time. Still, he had mentioned to Dr. Reid that Tobias Hankel’s other personality was not in any way related to his favorite little brother.

“Raphael is-”

“’The instrument of God,’” whispered the young genius.

“Pardon me?”

“You always say how you were never given a choice, how your siblings obey God without questioning him. If God told you to destroy the world, you would do it.”

“I will. One day, I will. Not as punishment, however, but because it’s Time,” answered Lucifer calmly.

“Judgment Day,” whispered Dr. Reid.

“Yes, it’s not for a while, though,” reassured the devil. “Don’t think about it too much.”

“Why at all?”

“Life’s finite. For it to continue, it must recharge. Circle of life.”

“Like reincarnation?” frowned Dr. Reid.

“I told you. All religions are right… and wrong,” he added. “Point is, yes, Dad commands us and we listen. I’m the only one he sends out to punish, however, and I’m always given reasons.”

“So, it should have been you, not Raphael, in that cottage,” breathed Dr. Reid, his eyes wide and frightened.

“If I had been in that cottage, Tobias Hankel wouldn’t have been able to lay a hand on you,” retorted Lucifer sincerely, feeling his shoulders tense under the young man’s scrutiny.

Dr. Reid continued as if he had not heard what he was saying. He continued hastily and in a hushed voice, “Of course. Tobias Hankel’s impartial personality was Raphael, but in truth, he was the Archangel of Justice. You. You get like that when you punish people: cold, detached, without human emotion. So did Raphael.” He looked up and stared as if seeing Lucifer for the first time. The devil did not like that expression one bit. “Why didn’t I see that before? The Holy Trinity. Father, Son, Holy Ghost. The cruel, abusive father. The caring, loyal son. The neutral, merciless Punisher. God, humanity and judgment.”

Lucifer was far too old and far too used to being the scapegoat to flinch, but that conclusion tore into him like one of Maze’ favorite knives.

“I’m not the archangel personality of Tobias Hankel either, young one,” said Lucifer.

“Maybe, but you feel no remorse when you punish. Human emotion has no place in that.”

“I’m not human, Spencer.”

It was the first time he had ever called him by his first name. Names held power. Thankfully, his words managed to reach the frightened young man.

“I know that,” replied Dr. Reid, his voice soft and a little hoarse, close to tears. “I wouldn’t want you to be.”

“I would never torture an innocent into a false confession,” continued Lucifer.

“He made me choose.”

The whispered words were almost inaudible, but Lucifer heard him nevertheless.

“What choice did he give you?”

“One to live. One to die. I chose who’d live. Raphael spared them and killed someone else. I had to watch.” The uttered sentences were short, desperate and unlike the brilliant young man he respected so deeply.

“Oh, young one, this is as far away from celestial justice as it gets. The only celestial punisher is me and I would never rope an innocent into finishing my tasks. I will never take a life. The moment I do, I will leave this Earth and go to Hell where I belong… Not as its ruler but as one of its prisoners.”

“I know,” breathed the young man. “I’m not afraid of you, Lucifer, but I’m afraid of what your father could ask of you. All of you. Just like Charles Hankel controlled Tobias even after death.”

“Don’t make me defend Dad,-“ warned Lucifer, trying not to let the words get to him.

“-Raphael made me choose. He thought it was Revelations…”

Inwardly, Lucifer cursed for reminding Dr. Reid of Judgment Day. That could not have helped.

“Seven archangels against the seven Angels of Death…” continued Dr. Reid.

Lucifer frowned, but he figured that debating false interpretations would not help the situation.

“He made me choose one of them. If your Dad asked you to choose…”

“He wouldn’t,” countered Lucifer sharply.

“But you’re the personification of celestial judgment. If anyone can choose who gets to be punished, it’s you. Your father could-“

“Dad is not a sadistic killer,” interrupted Lucifer sharply, realizing that he would have no choice but to elaborate in full. “Dad may not be the merciful God that so many of you humans worship. He makes mistakes, but… While I don’t always agree with his plans – if he decides to share them with me – he doesn’t act impulsively.”

“He cast you out of Heaven.”

“I cannot believe I’m doing this,” muttered Lucifer under his breath. “Look, young one, am I furious with my father? Yes, absolutely. His punishment did not fit the crime, especially considering that no crime was committed in the first place. He didn’t believe me, and the reason I couldn’t convince him otherwise, is because I am one of his eldest and most powerful children.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Let’s break it down into human terms. You, Dr. Reid are exceptionally gifted and you remember nearly every word you’ve ever read. Now imagine that out of the hundreds of books you’ve read, there is one that you just can’t crack. You read it over and over again, but you still don’t understand what it says. That’s Dad and me in a nutshell. Dad knows almost everything, but he cannot read me... He cannot read Mom either, because she is his mirror, his counterpart, and he only ever knows what she tells him. Raguel is chaos and thus, by her very nature, cannot be deciphered. And then there’s me. While Michael and Amenadiel can keep stuff from him, he doesn’t know what I’m thinking unless I tell him. I was the Lightbringer, practically an extension of God’s power, aiding in the creation of life itself. And we both know how difficult it is to know yourself sometimes.” Lucifer sighed. “He didn’t believe me when I tried to explain the reasons for my resistance and cast me out as a result, but he wouldn’t ask of me to commit an act of injustice.”

“But… you said it yourself: celestial justice is flawed.”

“And it is,” agreed Lucifer softly. “This is why I abandoned my duties after all. I want Dad to know that I disagree, but just because Dad makes mistakes and is a stubborn idiot who wouldn’t admit to making mistakes even if it blows up in his face-“ he took a deep breath. “That doesn’t mean he’s Charles Hankel. I won’t deny that the Raphael you met possesses aspects of a celestial being, but it’s a cracked mirror image: distorted and flawed. Neither Dad nor one of my siblings would ever force you to make that kind of choice. Nevertheless, I am sorry you had to live through that. And, if you’re willing, I would like to introduce you to Raphael. I guarantee you that he is nothing like the personality you met… or like me when I carry out my duties. He’s the sweetest of all the angels.”

Dr. Reid pressed his lips together and nodded.

“Sorry,” muttered the young man.

“Whatever for?”

“I know how much you dislike defending your father,” said Dr. Reid.

“Oh, young one, I wasn’t defending him. I just made sure you weren’t misinformed. Now, speaking of information, why don’t you tell me what Sheriff Harper said to Agent Jareau?”

He could see the doctor’s Adam’s apple bop as he swallowed dryly.

“Oh, he-“

“Less than half an hour ago, you were more than happy to watch him burn in Hell,” said Lucifer, his lips twitching.

“Never said I’d be a good punisher,” muttered Dr. Reid and Lucifer laughed in response.

“No, but all bullies would tremble in fear if you were,” acknowledged Lucifer. “Now, tell me. I promise only to give him his due.”

“When JJ tried to talk to him about the case in order to put together a story for the media, he said ‘Look, little lady, I know why they made someone like you press liaison. Pretty dollface with a sweet smile. I’m sure you look really nice and mellow on the screen talking to journalists like these hacks from MSNBC, CNN or whatever other letter combination they use from the alphabet, but the people here, they need a real person. Someone they trust, not some Miss Mayflower barely old enough to be on the job.’”

“Really?” growled Lucifer. “What did she say in return?”

“You know her… She just took it; stood her ground and told him that all we want is help them catch the killer. I wish she’d…”

“Told him to go to Hell?” he asked.

“No, just… She’s so strong and so capable. I hate it when she has to swallow needless insults for the sake of an investigation,” hissed Dr. Reid. “We both know she could have verbally torn him into pieces. Make him eat his words.”

“Do you wish to do that?” smiled Lucifer, all too happily coaxing out these pesky little claws the kitten was hiding beneath.

Lucifer.”

“Come on, young one, I know you want to,” Lucifer tempted him, feeling the thrill of punishing injustice overtake him.

“You can’t,” Dr. Reid suddenly protested. He looked very worried and the claws were entirely gone. Left was that gentle, hurt soul that had the devil wrapped around his little finger. “We can’t. Hotch would murder us.”

“You know he wouldn’t,” countered Lucifer.

“He’d be disappointed,” said Dr. Reid. “He’d give us that look.”

All too clearly, the mental image of a disappointed Agent Hotchner appeared and Lucifer sighed, “Fine. I wouldn’t tag the sheriff for Hell anyway. Not for that, but... Neither sheriff has treated you with the respect you deserve. I do believe that some punishment is in order.”

“Do you want my help?” asked Dr. Reid, not at all vengeful or indignant, but instead simply supportive of whatever scheme Lucifer had planned.

“No,” replied Lucifer gently. “You… remain the Son of the Holy Trinity. Let me be the Punisher. Rule number one is to know when it is the appropriate time to punish. There’s enough fire going about, above and below ground. There’s no need to fan the flames right now.”

“Sorry, below ground?”

It was so rare to see Dr. Reid confused.

“Yes,” said Lucifer slowly. “Above ground, we have malicious fires and below ground, there are dormant fires… Well, not quite dormant and further northeast, but my point stan-” Before he could finish, Dr. Reid grabbed his arm.

“Lucifer, that’s it!” exclaimed the young man. He rushed inside, leaving Lucifer alone beneath the trees. Leisurely, he followed.

There was no need to rush. They were all safe.

On his way in, he passed the foolish sheriff.

“Hey, Morningstar,” said he, grabbing Lucifer’s arm none too gently. “What’s up with the doctor?”

“Damned if I know, sheriff,” replied Lucifer. “Well, damned if I don’t, too.”

“Excuse me?”

Lucifer so badly wanted to tell him. He could feel the need burn in his throat, but Dr. Reid was right. Agent Hotchner would be disappointed. If he wanted to stay with this group, he had to accept that they handled things differently and that he could not just wreck havoc on those who disrespected them.

“What I just said. Please excuse me, Sheriff Harper,” said Lucifer before stepping into the room, closing the door behind him.

An excited Dr. Reid had already called Agent Hotchner.

“I think I got it, Hotch,” said the young man. “May 18, 1980: the eruption of Mount St. Helens thirty-five years ago.”

Garcia?” asked Hotch.

“One moment, oh Great One,” said she in response. “Alright, this was the most devasting volcanic eruption in the United States and killed 57 people, further burying over 200 houses.”

“Kid, do you think our UnSub was affected by the eruption?” asked Agent Morgan through the speaker.

“Yes,” answered Dr. Reid. “Think about it: it fits our timeline and fire would have had a massive impact on our UnSub.”

“But volcanos don’t usually kill people by fire,” protested Agent Prentiss.

“True,” concurred Lucifer. “Normally, they suffocate, but isn’t that what your UnSub is doing? He doesn’t burn them. He sets a part of the house on fire and blocks the exits. The fact they were caught in the flames is a byproduct. It’s the air that killed most of them.”

It had taken him decades to understand this part of human physiology… or the physiology of any lung-breather. Angels didn’t need air, so the idea of suffocation was strange.

“Lucifer’s right,” concurred Agent Rossi, obviously having joined the conversation. “So, Garcia, do you find any connection between the eruption of Mount St. Helens and Woodland?”

“One moment, sir, I’m on it,” said Ms. Garcia, and Lucifer could hear her type.

“Reid, how does Mount St. Helens fit into the geographic profile?”

“Mount St. Helens is 41 miles northeast of Woodland. The closest town to the volcano is Cougar, 28.3 miles away. If you take Lewis River Rd, you’re there in 38 minutes. Other close towns are Castle Rock, 51 miles, Morton, 90 miles by car but that’s only due to the way they built road access to the volcano, and Randle, 100 miles but same issue as Morton. Cougar has only 146 inhabitants.”

“So, Woodland is the closest town to Mount St. Helens with a considerable number of inhabitants.”

“Enough people for our UnSub to be able to hide in and still be close to where he lost his family. Why would he do that?” asked Agent Jareau, also through the phone.

“Because he couldn’t let go,” said Lucifer. He would never understand this urge to kill others, but he understood why this man decided to stay here. “The volcano took something from him he couldn’t ever get back, so he stayed close, simply to remember the times when he still had it. Losing your entire family at once… changes you.”

And that was yet another reason why he needed to hear from his brother that Michael Hall was getting better. He would not let that boy end up like him, or the man they were looking into right now. What better way to prevent that than having the Archangel of the Healing Arts around?

“Garcia, any of these deaths involving 12-year-old children?”

“Yes, sir, two families. The Finnegans, one son, 12, one daughter, 19. The boy, Ralph Finnegan was the only survivor. He was found in the house, suffering from severe smoke inhalation as well as mild burns from the hot air and a massive fracture in his ankle that left him with a permanent limp, possibly from jumping to safety. He survived because his mother protected him by putting a wet cloth over his mouth. His sister and his parents suffocated. Then there is the Barnes family, two boys, six and twelve. Both boys survived. They live in Florida now and never returned to their home.”

“What about Ralph Finnegan?”

“Oh,” breathed Ms. Garcia.

“He lives here in Woodland, isn’t he?” asked Lucifer.

“Oh yes. In fact, he lives across the street of the Clarkson family and, sir, he teaches geology and geography at Woodland Middle School, his favorite topic is-“

“Mount St. Helens,” completed Agent Hotchner. “Do we have a stressor?”

“The aunt who raised him died three months ago and… oh God!”

“What is it, Garcia?” asked Agent Morgan, concerned.

“The fire… it happened during the eruption, yes, but when local law enforcement investigated the scene, they realized that something strange was going on after they found remnants of different fire accelerants. At first, the mix made them think that this was all stuff from inside the house, accidentally catching fire from the heat originally caused by the eruption, but the different accelerants were probably placed deliberately to imitate such a chain reaction. Something went wrong and the family was cut off from the exit and confined to the upper levels. Law enforcement later found out that the father was in dire financial trouble after losing his job and set the fire in order to collect the insurance. He- Why would he do that when his family’s still in the house?”

She sounded utterly destressed.

“The father used Mount St. Helens as a decoy,” said Agent Rossi. “That must be the UnSub’s imprint. It caused his obsession with fire and the volcano. But it’s the death of the Clarkson family that triggered it all. Word about law enforcement’s suspicions regarding the fire’s origins must have spread. It’s a small town. News like this always spreads.”

“Alright,” concluded Agent Hotchner. “We have our UnSub. Or at least, a real suspect. Lucifer, Prentiss, Reid, you join Rossi. He’s currently with Sheriff Foster. Go to Finnegan’s house, see if he’s home and if you can find any evidence. Morgan and I are closest to the Middle School. Make sure Sheriff Harper joins us. JJ, you and Detective Anderson alert the fire department. I want them to be ready in case Finnegan snaps. It’s a Sunday, so I sincerely doubt he’s going to be at the school-“

“Sir,” interjected Ms. Garcia meekly. “Usually, you are totally right, but an online flyer just popped up on my screen. It’s Sunday, that’s true, but it’s Science Meets Mythology Day at the Middle School.” Her voice was rushed and nervous. “It means that basically every eleven to thirteen-year-old from Woodland is currently at the school’s gym together with at least one parent or guardian. They’ve been planning this for two months. After the fires, they changed the theme, too. It’s now more of a memorial service, but it’s still called Science Meets Mythology Day and there are some activities planned for the afternoon. Ralph Finnegan was the initiator and he’s the main organizer.”

“Oh my-by the stars!” exclaimed Agent Prentiss. “You don’t think-“

“Change of plans,” snapped Agent Hotchner. “Rossi, Prentiss, Reid, you go to Ralph Finnegan’s house. JJ, you and Detective Anderson alert the fire department, make sure it’s kept quiet and that they have all available firetrucks ready and near Woodland Middle School. Lucifer, grab Sheriff Harper and come over to the Middle School. I want you close. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Everyone was on the move as soon as Agent Hotchner snapped his phone shut. Lucifer exited the room, and did as he was told.

“Hey, watch it!”

“Move,” hissed Lucifer, as he pulled the man with him who needlessly tried to free himself from his grip. “We have a name: Ralph Finnegan. Right now, he’s at Woodland Middle School together with every spawn from that age range together with at least one parent. We must go there.”

Thankfully, regardless of how unpleasent the man was, he sprung into action without hesitation.

Chapter Text

Everything was in place. The rest of the team was either at Finnegan’s house – nobody there – or on their way to the school. JJ had organized everything in record time. Detective Anderson and his officers were already on the scene, worried and ready for action. Thankfully, Anderson ran a tight ship and they had agreed to giving the lead to the FBI. Sheriff Harper and Lucifer had to arrive any second.

“Sir,” one of Detective Anderson’s men addressed Hotch. “Should we start with the evacuation?”

“Not yet,” denied Hotch. “I’m waiting for the sheriff.”

As he said it, the car turned around a street corner and parked by the school. Sheriff Harper exited quickly, looking pale.

“Damn, man, you should have known the Kid would tell Lucifer about yesterday. Reid is incapable of keeping anything from him,” said Derek.

“Aren’t we all?” asked Hotch.

“Point taken, but having Harper or Foster near Lucifer is a dangerous idea, especially after Harper going off at- You wanted Lucifer to spend time alone with Harper.” Derek grinned as he caught Hotch’s gaze. “You’re playing with fire, man.”

“No, I have faith in Lucifer. He would never do anything that would either harm this investigation or threaten the integrity of this team.”

“But?”

“But he has more leeway than we do and frankly, I don’t appreciate the sheriffs’ deliberately disrespectful conduct.”

Despite the dire circumstances, Derek grinned, “You’re not gonna hear me complain, Hotch.”

Sheriff Harper arrived with Lucifer right behind him. It was quite obvious how the sheriff tried to keep his distance from the deeply relaxed and obviously very happy devil. He would so have to give him the details of that conversation later, after this crisis was handled.

“Thanks for coming,” said Agent Hotchner. “We’ve secured the parameter. As far as we know, the event at the gym is starting in thirty minutes, which means that as of now, there are approximately thirty children in there setting everything up, together with Ralph Finnegan and another teacher. Our goal is to quietly and calmly evacuate the rest of the school. We have to make sure nobody alerts Finnegan. Please remember, while Finnegan fits the profile, we have no actual proof connecting him to the murders, so we cannot, under any circumstances, identify our current main suspect. This evacuation will be performed with the utmost care. Make sure to look into every corner. The official reason for the evacuation is that the Middle School and this current event are suspected to be the UnSub’s next target.”

Derek’s phone went off, “Yes, JJ?”

“I’m on my way to the school. Clark County Fire and Rescue is ready. Chief Lambert will be here in five minutes as soon as you make the call.”

“Good work, JJ, we’ll need all hands available for the evacuation, so call Reid to come here. I want Prentiss and Rossi to process the house as soon as the judge signs off the search warrant. We must have evidence.”

“On it, Hotch,” said JJ and hung up.

“She’s-“ a cough, “very capable.” Sheriff Harper still looked a little pale.

If there were not thirty children and a teacher in immediate danger, Derek would have made his opinion on the matter clear.

“She’s indespensible,” confirmed Hotch coolly. “Let’s move out.”

“I’ll just wait here until the fire starts,” said Lucifer, his eyes wide and slightly unnerved in the face of a school with children in it.

“They don’t bite,” Derek reassured him, just barely suppressing a grin.

“Oh, I beg to differ. Elven to thirteen… that’s when their darkness tends to manifest.”

Surprised, Derek stared at his celestial colleague. The majority of antisocial personality disorders indeed manifested by the age of elven. It was eerie sometimes how certain studies were confirmed by Lucifer’s ancient memory. The devil ran no statistics, but he did not forget a thing, and he knew exactly the kind of souls sent to Hell.

“Let’s get everyone out. Make sure nobody contacts the gym. I don’t want to spook the UnSub,” said Hotch.

With the help of the principal of the school and a few more teachers, they managed to quietly and effectively clear the buildings without alerting anyone. However, there were a few outliers. There was one mother from one of the girls in the gym that Hotch had to calm down and convince that the best thing she could do for her child, was letting them handle everything. JJ brilliantly talked down a father of another kid.

“Sir, I know you’re worried, but please, let us handle this,” said JJ calmly.

“My little’s girl’s in there, I’ve got to-“

“The best thing you can do right now, is leave the building and assemble at the assigned area. As soon as the children are out, you’ll be reunited with her.

Her tone was low, calm and soothing, effectively making him listen.

“You’re that lady from the press conference.”

“Yes, my name is Agent Jennifer Jareau,” said she.

“Your first?” he asked, pointing at her pregnant belly.

“Yes,” she smiled, reflexively putting her hand on it.

“Boy or girl?”

“A boy.”

“Good… That’s-Can I call my wife? She’s home with our two- and seven-year-old. I-“

“Sir, it’s best if you wait. News will spread fast. Please, just step outside with the others.”

He had complied soon after. The whole moment was highly satisfying because Sheriff Harper had been nearby witnessing the scene unfold. A few minutes later, while guiding out another group of people, the sheriff addressed Derek.

“He was right, she’s… really good at this.”

“I guarantee you sheriff, she’s talked to more family members of victims than most officers and sheriffs twice her age. She’s one of the best,” said Derek coldly.

“You don’t have to… Morningstar made his point quite clear. He’s a scary son of a bitch, isn’t he?”

Derek did not verbally answer that question, merely scoffed and nodded before focusing on the situation at hand.

The conversation Lucifer had with an older brother from one of the kids in the gym went less smoothly than that of the unit chief or JJ.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“My brother-“

“Oh, spare me the protective big bro routine, child. Get out and wait with the adults. You can’t do anything and rushing in to help your sibling will most likely lead to his death. Enough older brothers have lost their lives this week. No need to increase that particular tally.”

Though harsh, his words were enormously effective and the young man left with the parents. While the team gathered near the evacuation point, which was located well out of sight of the gym’s field of view, Rossi called from Finnegan’s house and informed them that they found evidence enough evidence to take him in, possibly even to prosecute him. The only thing missing was a written confession beneath the detailed journals he kept about each family he had killed. They also found a scary amount of different fire accelerants in the house, and it was clear that a gasoline container was missing.

That was the probable cause they needed to interfere.

“Thank you, Dave, pack up and come to the school. I don’t have a good feeling about this one,” said Hotch slowly, his eyes trained on the gym. As if on cue, a woman together with a boy was running from that direction and swiftly approached the evacuation point. “How did she-“

A man from the evacuation spot ran up to wife and child hugging them both fiercely thus answering Hotch’s unasked question.

“He must have texted them,” muttered Lucifer. “I did not hear anyone talk on the phone. They’ve all been quite obedient with you demands.”

“That is not good,” breathed Derek.

Unsurprisingly, the civilians immediately took out their phones to call their loved ones or started abandoning their assigned area.

“Lucifer!” hissed Hotch sharply, and the devil sprung into action. Within the blink of an eye, Lucifer, who had been standing nearby a couple of trees moments ago, emerged from the shadow of the gym and hissed with a sharp, deep growl that was not a request, “Everybody turn back. Now!”

Nobody was foolish enough to challenge him and the concerned parents followed his command. The local PD’s officers and Sheriff Harper took care of the rest as they reassured the civilians that they were doing everything they could to keep the children safe.

“Thank the devil,” breathed JJ.

“How did he…?” choked Detective Anderson looking positively baffled and a little afraid. That was interesting in itself: Lucifer was very good at using his powers only around people he trusted, unless he used them to punish wrongdoers. He did not know Detective Anderson long enough to trust him, yet it was unlikely that he used his weird ‘Shadows will always give way to the former Bringer of Light, though it only works as a means to move across Hell or within short distances on Earth’ powers in order to punish the detective.

“Later,” said Hotch, his eyes trained on the detective apparently wondering the same thing. “This will soon become a hostage situation if we’re not careful. That is… if it isn’t already. Let’s prepare for that, shall we?”

Compared to the Hostage Rescue Team, they had not handled nearly as many hostage situations and their success rate was modest at best, though HRT admitted that they would not be much more successful given how deranged some of the people were that the BAU had to negotiate with.

The problem was, Derek had a hard time understanding Finnegan’s motivation. He knew what triggered him, he knew the stressor, he even knew how it all came to be, but they were missing something, and Derek had a feeling that they were going to find out soon.

While they were setting everything up, Sheriff Foster arrived together with Reid. JJ quickly informed them about the situation.

“Agent Morgan, Agent Hotchner!” exclaimed Detective Anderson, who had followed them to the car from which they were gathering all equipment necessary to handle a hostage situation. “Look!”

They turned, only to see several girls – sixteen, he counted – and an adult running from the same direction as mother and son earlier.

“Is that Finnegan?”

“No,” replied Lucifer, “I don’t know his face.”

“That must be the other teacher, Carl Gabbert, history teacher,” said Hotch and they quickly advanced on the man to intercept him before he reached the parents, who rushed forward to reunite with their daughters. It took both sheriffs, their deputies and Detective Anderson’s officers to calm everyone down.

“Mr. Gabbert, my name is SSA Aaron Hotchner. Can you tell me what is going on in there?”

“Mrs. Scott came in, grabbed Sam, her son, and left. She looked very worried. Ralph, he- I’ve never seen him so angry before. He told me to take the girls and leave or he would- he poured gasoline over Simon. I’d never… He’s the one who murdered all these people, isn’t he?”

“We believe so, yes,” confirmed Hotch calmly. “He only kept the boys. How many are inside?”

“Sixteen boys and Ralph. Is he holding them hostage in order to escape or-“

“I don’t know. Ralph Finnegan is very difficult to predict, and we’re missing something… Right now, however, we must establish contact with Mr. Finnegan. He’s currently in a room with sixteen very scared boys. He must take control of the situation, and there are many dangerous ways he could apply to do exactly that.”

Derek grabbed his phone and speed-dialed Garcia, “Baby Girl, we need Ralph Finnegan’s cell phone number. Now.”

Penelope, hearing his tension, immediately provided it without hesitation. Intent on losing no time, Hotch dialed the number.

You stay where you are!” screeched a male voice on the other side of the speaker. They heard faint whimpers from terrified little boys and Derek’s blood boiled in response. “Who is this?”

“Mr. Finnegan, this is Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner from the FBI. I understand that you are currently under a lot of stress. Why don’t you tell us what you want?”

“What I want is for these whimpering little cretins to remain silent!” he screamed. The whimpering stopped instantly. “What do you want from me?”

“Right now, we would simply like to know-“ began Hotch in his best negotiator tone. Trusting his boss to handle the situation for now, Derek used the opportunity to approach Lucifer who was within earshot (both human and celestial), but whose eyes were trained on the gym.

“No fires yet?” asked Derek.

“No, but I don’t trust this situation, Agent Morgan. Ralph Finnegan is too agitated.”

“Agreed. Have you heard what-?“

“If he lights a fire, a child named Simon and possibly the rest of the children will burn, yes, I’m not deaf,” said the devil.

“Could you-?”

“Do I look like a fire fighter to you?” countered Lucifer harshly. “I told you back in LA. Snuffing out a fire would snuff out the Light including the Light that are sixteen children and that sorry excuse of a human being whom I would love to punish but whom I also refuse to kill.”

Derek remembered. He remembered these first moments of hysteria after realizing that Lucifer was exactly who he said he was.

“Can’t you control a fire or… I don’t know… move it? You did it with a car.”

“Do you want me to call Dr. Reid over so that he can give you the specifics on why a fire isn’t a car?” Lucifer was obviously agitated and the profiler could not blame him. Still, the harshness in the devil’s voice stung. Still, he would not take it to heart.

Instead, Derek rolled his eyes, “I know, I know. A fire isn’t solid and it’s probably more versatile and more complex than a car, but come on, you’re the devil!”

“And beneath us is a sleepy volcano. Fire, by its very nature, is chaotic. If I wake her up, she’s going to be cranky.”

“Don’t tell me Mount St. Helens is sentient,” choked Derek.

“Loowit is her proper name, and… no, not as you or animals are at least. Yet, she’s stone, fire, air and pressure. Of course she has a certain temper.”

“So the baseline is, you can’t help us here,” concluded the experienced profiler from that bizarre statement, desperately trying not to think too much.

“No, but there are limits to what I can do without killing the children and that cretin in the process should he decide to start a fire. For example, I can divert the fire within the room until you or the fire department use these pesky little fire extinguishers.”

Relieved, Derek exhaled, “Good, that’s good.”

“Our problem is time. I am not my brother so I cannot freeze it once the fire starts and I am not used to taming fires around mortals. I’m still getting the hang of that. Therefore, I must see what I’m doing.”

“We need to get you inside.”

“Preferably before Mr. Finnegan embrasses chaos any further than he already does.”

“Chaos?”

For all that he was ancient, Lucifer rarely looked at Derek like he was too slow at understanding matters that seemed obvious to him. In many ways, Derek felt more on eye level with Lucifer than he did with Reid sometimes, which was kind of a ridiculous assumption, but Lucifer rarely made him feel stupid or slow. In this moment, however, the fallen angel looked at him with an expression that could only be interpreted as ‘exasperation with humans that did not see the world the same way he did.’

“Everything he’s done… Fire drives him and fire paralyzes him.”

“You lost me, man.”

“I told you. He wishes to harm others the way he was hurt and that pain was inflicted on him by both fire and his father’s actions. Just like he hates and loves his family, he hates and loves fire. Fire became his obsession, his one connection to what he lost. As such, he wishes to emulate fire’s nature, which in turn makes him unpredictable.”

“At his core, he’s an excitement-driven arsonist,” breathed Derek. “That’s what we’ve been missing.”

Confused, Lucifer looked at him, “But your profile says-“

“I know what it says, but the factor that spoke against him being an arsonist was the use of different accelerants. However, we now know that this pathology is driven by his imprint as a child. At heart, he’s an arsonist. And that means…”

He waved over Detective Anderson, JJ and Reid.

“What is it?”

“Finnegan is an arsonist. Using fire to obliterate the families is not only a weapon of choice; it’s a compulsion. We have to profile him as a need-driven arsonist who sets fires for excitement,” said Derek.

“Then nothing Hotch says will convince him to stop,” concluded Reid, eyes wide.

“Let’s move. Reid, tell Hotch what we found out. We’re going in. Detective Anderson,” said Derek, reminding himself at the last minute that the devil would probably come out to play and that involving local PD was not the best idea. “Please, secure the parameter. Call your men. Wait with Sheriffs Foster and Harper outside.”

Thankfully, the man was cooperative. Derek simply hoped that the detective could keep the sheriff from storming in long enough until they had everything under control.