Odd, she’d always thought that death meant darkness.
And how the hell had she gotten to the beach, she thought, as she felt the abrasive grains of sand on her limbs. The tower she’d jumped from had been in the industrial part of town.
Buffy shakily got to her feet and stumbled through the sand; her efforts hampered by the yielding ground. She shook her head, trying to clear her brain enough to think clearly. Squinting against the strong sun, she could make out nothing of the landscape to tell her where she was. It couldn’t have been the beach, as she’d thought earlier. No beach from home was this big, and there was no body of water close at hand.
Was this her punishment, to wander aimlessly, without even the First Slayer for company?
Was she in Hell? If so, Buffy thought she deserved to be. All the people she’d failed to save, the sacrifice she’d been unwilling to make in the name of the ‘greater good’, according to Giles… and yet she walked on, hoping to see something or someone in this wasteland.
She held her hand over her eyes, trying to shield them from the worst of the rays, in a desperate attempt to make out a path… when she saw him. A man, bruised and shredded, light surrounding his large, white wings.
Wait… what? Wings? She must be seeing things. What did they call the visions? An oasis? Could a singular man be called an oasis? Was he her guardian angel?
Buffy could go on no longer. A weak cry escaped her parched lips, drawing the attention of the man, as she collapsed to her knees. The last thing she saw was him rushing towards her, before everything faded to cool, blessed black.
Who was this mysterious young woman, he wondered? And could she possibly have had anything to do with his unplanned relocation to the middle of the desert?
Looking at the mystery lady, lying unconscious in her bed, with monitors beeping annoyingly every few seconds, he didn't think such a tiny thing could be responsible for bonking him over the head and transporting them both... but it couldn't be a coincidence, could it?
Then again, he'd spent too much time with Maze and Chloe to underestimate anyone based on body mass.
Still, someone had managed to sneak up on him and knock him out. Without Chloe nearby to render him vulnerable to mortal ailments, this should have been unthinkable.
As for his newly returned wings, Lucifer couldn’t fathom the why of them after all these years. Not to mention the itch at their base. Sprouting wings was never easy.
Whomever, or whatever had done this to him, they'd royally screwed up his chance to explain himself to Chloe, as promised. How would she react, with him disappearing yet again? And how long had he actually been gone, anyway? Could be a couple of hours, or... it just didn’t bear thinking about a longer timeframe.
Once the doctors had finished giving him the least invasive exam he would allow, Lucifer called Chloe, leaving her a message to meet him at the hospital in about an hour with a change of clothes. He needed to shower, and change into something more sartorially fitting than the scrub tops the hospital supplied.
As soon as he got home the sack pretending to be a shirt was going in the fire.
He also called Maze, setting her on the trail of the bastard who'd taken him down.
I will not lose my temper, I will not lose my temper, Chloe fumed inwardly as she walked into the hospital room. She’d gotten the call that her partner and a young woman had been admitted.
How dare he take off for parts unknown for a month, so soon after his last disappearance and once again come back with another woman? She shook her head in frustration, and wondered if he’d married this one, like he had Candy.
At the sight of Lucifer’s bruised and peeling appearance, however, some of her anger leeched away. “What… what happened to you? Are you all right?” she asked, gently raising her hand to his face.
“Detective” Lucifer seemed surprised to see her. Then again, he shouldn’t be; after all this time she obviously had people at the hospital notifying her when her consultant, slash pain in the ass partner, slash runaway friend showed up.
She used to blame herself for his odd behavior; that maybe she scared him off by being too needy. No longer. She’d eventually got over that, and now, she just got pissed. Pissed that she'd believed that this time he wouldn’t flake off and leave her hanging.
And please god, hopefully the young woman lying in bed wasn't his new wife.
He'd got as far as opening his mouth to answer her, when she shook her head and held up her hand. “You know what? I don't want to hear your excuses, Lucifer.”
“I ... I did not mean to leave, Detective,” he said, raising his hand, stopping her before she could interrupt him. “Not this time.”
“Then why didn't you come over, like you promised?” Chloe tried her damnedest to control her urge to stamp her foot and whine like a little girl.
She took a closer look. He really did look bad, as if someone left him in the sun way too long. And that was just the part she saw out of the hospital scrubs. It didn't add up. “Who's the girl?” she finally asked, changing the subject.
“I don't know now, do I?” Lucifer insisted. “I was trying to figure out where I was, when I practically stumbled over her. She never said a word before she passed out... and here we all are. Now you know as much as I do. She had no identification on her. Nothing but the clothes she was wearing.”
“What do you mean? Trying to figure out where you were? How drunk were you?” Chloe didn't mean for that to come out as accusingly as it did. She tried to mentally backtrack: imagine that this is Trixie… Lucifer and her eight year old daughter did have the same level of emotional maturity, after all.
Lucifer, however, took no offense or notice to – or notice of – her tone. “Look, Detective... there's not much else I can tell you. Right after we spoke on the phone, someone conked me on the head, and the next thing I remember was waking up shirtless in the desert. I came across the girl barely moments after.”
He seemed almost as if he were in shock. At the very least, he was confused – unsure, even. She knew Lucifer wasn't half as sure of himself as he tried to be on any given occasion, but right now, it felt like he was desperately trying to pretend his defensive walls were still in place, while in reality, he was standing amidst their shattered remains.
“When did this happen?” Chloe asked softly. All the time she'd been pissed at him, her friend had been taken – kidnapped – and instead of looking for him... She had to be practical. Castigating herself for the past wouldn't help tell the tale, and certainly wouldn't help the Jane Doe in the bed.
“I’m all right, Detective,” Lucifer insisted “No worries.”
“That's not what I asked, Lucifer,” Chloe said, trying to pin him down to a straight answer. “Who do you think took you?”
“I don't know who took me, but I've asked Maze to do her tracking thing and see what she can come up with.”
Just then, the girl in the bed woke up with a groan – and panicked. Yanking the monitor and IV lines from her body, she struck out at the bars surrounding the bed. They twisted as she beat on the restraints keeping her from falling out of the bed. Chloe couldn’t imagine a person of her size managing to bend the bars out of shape solely from the force of her hands. The amount of adrenaline the girl must have running through her system must be staggering.
Alarms clanged as nurses and orderlies came running, but the girl evaded them like a whirlwind. She wasn't just strong; she was fast, as well.
“Now isn't that interesting,” Lucifer practically purred.
When the girl attempted to run past both herself and Lucifer, inasmuch as they were blocking to room’s exit, Lucifer jumped in front of her. He had to be insane, seeing how wild and out of control the girl was. He should know better than to put himself in the line of fire. Instead, he simply let her lash out at him, as he tried to contain her. She kicked him in the shins, which luckily didn't have the painful impact it would have, had she been wearing shoes.
A pair of well-muscled orderlies came up from behind and grabbed the young woman by the arms. A nurse administered a sedative. When it apparently had no effect, she administered a second, stronger dose, which appeared to take the edge off her fury.
When they finally managed to finagle her back into bed, Lucifer was staring at her with the kind of fascination he usually showed for Chloe herself. She didn't want to be jealous, but she couldn’t help it.
“Miss,” one of the nurses addressed the patient. “Do you know where you are? Do you know who you are?”
“I-I'm thirsty,” she faintly managed to croak out. “May I have some water?” Her head dropped back onto her pillow, her eyes losing focus. “Where am I?” the Jane Doe rasped. “Is this Hell?”
The sedative finally took full effect and she fell into unconsciousness.