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The Devil's Gift

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Chloe pulled Maze aside and hissed: “Are you nuts? Bringing a possible psychopath here with Trixie?”

“You don’t mind me being here,” Maze hissed back, though it was laced with humor, where the Detective’s was more hostile.

“I trust you. I don't trust her. Neither of us actually knows her!” Chloe insisted. “You may be crazy impulsive, but I trust you'd do anything to keep Trixie safe.”

“Then trust me that I wouldn’t bring anyone home who was capable of harming Trixie.” Maze quirked a brow, then winked at Buffy. “And I most assuredly wouldn’t put the kid near a threat.”

“Oh, come on, Maze.” The frustration was evident on Chloe’s face. “We still don't know if she had anything to do with Lucifer's kidnapping.”

As the two women argued, Buffy stood in the doorway, wondering if this was how Spike felt – standing in plain view of the Scoobys, and not even being acknowledged. Also, denied entrance, though for her, it was more a metaphorical than mystical barrier.

“She's just a kid, Chloe,” Maze carried on. “She's a twenty-year-old girl who recently lost her mom. She's lost – no home, no family and no friends. And aren't you supposed to be a defender of the helpless and lost?”

“She lost her mom?” Chloe visibly softened at that admission.

“Lovely, human frailty - a brain aneurysm.”

Chloe looked towards the door, at the girl who was still standing there, now wearing one of Maze's leather outfits instead of the hospital johnny she'd been wearing before. She scuffed the toe of her borrowed shoes against the floor, trying to look as if she hadn't been the topic of discussion between her and Maze.

Buffy wondered how pitiable she looked, to have Chloe looking at her like she’d lost her best friend. Wearing Maze’s clothing made her feel like less of herself than usual.

“And… the old adage of 'Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer' is rather fitting. At the very least she'd be easier to observe if she were in close proximity,” the detective added, slowly nodding her head.

“So, what does she remember?” Chloe sounded closer to surrender, and Maze looked almost triumphant.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Try me.”

“Ahem,” Buffy piped up from the doorway. “I'm right here.”

“Yeah, but I wanna hear it from Maze.”

Buffy slumped against the door frame, feeling the tears build up in her eyes. What would she do if the detective refused to allow her to stay?

Maze pushed just a little bit harder to sway the Detective. “She's not a bad guy, Chloe. She's a genuine hero, as in ‘saving the world’ kind of hero.”

“You just said she was an innocent girl; does she wear a costume with a cape?”

“I never said anything about innocent." Maze turned to Buffy. "Please tell me you did, I need the laugh.”

Buffy smiled. “If nifty clothes and stylish, yet affordable boots count as a costume, then yeah... but no cape.”

“Pity. Spandex and capes can be a real turn on.”

“Leather's not a bad look, either,” Chloe mumbled under her breath.

Buffy wondered if either woman had a clue about the sparks flying between them.

Just then, a little spitfire of a girl came running out of the kitchen, the corners of her mouth crusted with crumbs and chocolate. "I just finished my milk and cookies, Mom." She gave Chloe a hug, and then turned towards Buffy. “Who're you?” she asked.

Buffy assumed this was the aforementioned Trixie.

“She's a real-life superhero," Maze said, before Buffy could introduce herself.

“Oooh, do you have a cape and mask?” The little girl's eyes were wide with excitement.

Maze nearly doubled over with laughter.

“Maze!” Chloe gasped. “She's not a superhero, Trixie. She's just a friend of Maze’s who’ll be staying with us for a while. Her name is Buffy.”

“Cool,” the little girl grinned. “Can she stay in my room?” Trixie practically hopped up and down, as if Buffy was the coolest present ever. A look from her mom was enough to make the little girl turn down her enthusiasm. She gave Buffy a coy little wave. “Hi, Buffy. Welcome to our home,” the little girl said with formal intonation, the smile on her face fighting with the seriousness of her voice.

“Listen, my little monkey,” Chloe tweaked her daughter’s nose. “Buffy can stay in the guest room.”

It hurt, listening to the mother-daughter banter. Buffy couldn't help but feel a bit sad, as she realized that never again would she and her mother engage as such. She knew her mother was gone, but this brought it home on an entirely different level.

As for the detective, Buffy was sure she didn’t believe a word of what Maze had told her. She couldn’t blame her, unfortunately… Sunnydale blindness was not confined to Sunnydale, alone. Still, she was willing to let Buffy stay with her, and for that, she was grateful.

Maze sat back in her chair, and popped the top off a bottle of beer. She didn’t look to be affected by the mother-daughter scene in front of her, but then again, what did Buffy know about the dynamics of their household?

She just wished she knew how her sister and friends were doing… how they were coping with her leap from the tower.

She prayed to the Powers that Be that Dawn and the others were fine.

***

Amenadiel wiped the sweat off his brow before raising his hand to shade his eyes from the sun. They’d been walking for at least a half hour now, and they didn’t seem to be any closer towards civilization – or even a gas station – than they’d been when they started.

“I can't believe you got us stranded in the middle of the desert! Damn it, Luci,” Amenadiel spat, annoyed at Lucifer’s single-minded stubbornness. “You had to insist on driving your fancy car, didn’t you?” He tugged at his shirt collar, the heat becoming excessively oppressive.

Lucifer chuckled. “It’s not my fault human engineering doesn’t take into account the vagaries of its environment. “A high-powered car should be capable of navigating the desert without seizing up and dying on us.”

“It’s a convertible, Lucifer. Those cars are meant for driving on breezy roads, not for the arid desert.”

Lucifer ignored him. Five minutes later, he picked up where he’d left off. “Besides, it’s not like your idea of a jeep was any better, brother. For crying out loud, the name alone sounds like the noise of a demented chicken.”

“Dune buggy,” Amenadiel corrected, as if the type of vehicle actually mattered.

Lucifer let out a frustrated moan. “Like that’s any better? I wouldn’t be caught dead in such a vehicle.”

“So now, thanks to you, we’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere, with no easy way of getting home.” Or even back to Los Angeles. And his shoes! Amenadiel might not be as big a clothes horse as Lucifer was, but he’d really hate to have to toss out his current pair. The leather was soft as butter, and way too comfortable for such a shoddy fate.

“Well, bitching about it isn’t going to get us anywhere faster, is it now, brother?” came Lucifer’s rejoinder.

Amenadiel laughed. “True, but it annoys you, and that makes me feel a hell of a lot better. However,” he continued, “just how do you expect us to get out of here without the car? You can fly, and I… I…” He was at a loss at just how to continue.

“You can always stop time.”

“So, we’ll be in the desert for all eternity?”

With a resigned sigh, Amenadiel kicked at the sand as he walked, sending up a spray of abrading grit. “There’s no reception out here, either,” he said, shaking his useless cell phone in the air. “We can’t reach anyone to come and pick us up, even if we could provide directions!” he shouted to the empty air.

“Someone is bound to come along, sooner than later,” Lucifer tried to reason.

“Riight,” Amenadiel’s sarcasm hung heavily in the heated air. “Because there’s another idiot out in the middle of nowhere.”

“Shut up!” Lucifer snapped.

“I should have left you to this adventure on your own, baby brother.”

“No, really… be quiet,” Lucifer insisted. “Can’t you hear it? Can’t you feel it?”

“Feel what?”

Lucifer pulled Amenadiel’s necklace from his pants pocket. It levitated off his palm… pointing straight ahead.

“Give me that,” Amenadiel said, grabbing at the necklace. “Father gave it to me!”

Shaking his head, Lucifer pushed his brother away. “Let’s just see where this leads us, brother, before we get into what is whose?”

No more than ten minutes later, the necklace pointed downwards, into the sand.

Bending his knee, Lucifer knelt, searching through the sand. Almost immediately, he retrieved a dagger, it’s edges rimmed with dried blood. “Well, lookie here,” Lucifer smirked. “So, we’re here for nothing, are we?”

“What on earth…”

“Exactly! This can’t possibly be of earthly origin, or Dad’s key wouldn’t work, now would it?”

Amenadiel scanned the area, extending his senses as far as he could, but if there had been anything otherworldly on this plane, it was long gone by now.