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The Devil's Gift

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Buffy stood outside the club’s entrance and took a deep, steadying breath. “I make my own agency,” she murmured. “If I want something to happen, take steps towards it myself. Don’t wait for others to do it for you.”

She walked into Lux and was once more surrounded by the opulence of it all. The beautiful, modern, classy appearance. The crowds of young (although older than her and the Bronze crowd), beautiful people all elegantly dressed. The thumping techno-beat loud enough to invade your very cells. Nightlife in Los Angeles in 2017.

Buffy had to get back to Sunnydale in 2001. As soon as possible.

She searched for Lucifer, once more spotting the man (Devil) holding court by his piano. After wending her way through the crowd, she tapped him gently on the shoulder.

“Well hello there, Buffy,” Lucifer purred out his welcome, eyes sparkling with excitement. “And to what do I owe the honor of your company tonight?”

“I need to talk with you.”

“Is that so?” he asked, amused. “So sorry, folks,” Lucifer said smoothly to the crowd surrounding him. “It appears I have a prior engagement.” He stood up, to the ‘awws’ and the ‘do you really have to leaves’, and gently shepherded Buffy towards the elevator leading to his private apartment.

“Can I offer you a drink of some sort?” he asked as Buffy settled herself down on his pillow-laden sofa. When she refused, he asked, “Pray tell…what compelled you to leave the sanctuary of the Detective’s cozy home and seek me out all by your lonesome? Have you finally succumbed to my irrepressible charm?”

Buffy smiled at that. Quipping she could handle – it felt like talking with Spike on a slow night. “No succumbing, alas,” she replied. “I do need to get some answers, if you have time.”

“All the time in the world, Ms. Summers. Go for it.”

With a crack of her knuckles, Buffy fired the opening salvo.

“You’re the actual Devil, right?”

“Indeed.”

“Do you have a game-face?”

“Instead of this gloriously handsome visage?”

“Yes.”

In the blink of an eye, Lucifer revealed his devil face – red eyes glowing with amber light, reddish skin, no hair, small horny protrusions instead of the stereotypical huge devil horns, pockmarked complexion.

“What’s this?” Lucifer asked, staring at Buffy and her lack of reaction. “Not a flinch nor gasp?”

“Seen worse,” Buffy admitted.

And just like that, Lucifer’s human face reappeared. Buffy knew he hadn’t been trying to scare her (like he even could). This was a question and answer session, after all, and all’s fair in good and evil.

“Next question, then.”

“Are you as evil as the world makes you out to be?”

“That depends on your perspective, I suppose.”

“Meaning?”

“Well, I don’t see myself as evil,” Lucifer mused, a definite twinkle in his eye. “I am an Angel, after all – though slightly fallen from my original standing.”

“Do you punish people in the fires of Hell?”

“Do I punish people in Hell? Well, yes, that’s my job; forced on me by my father. I do it superbly, if I must say so myself.” Lucifer walked over to his bar, poured a drink, and turned back to Buffy. “Do I punish those who don’t deserve it? No, I don’t. I’m not in the habit of punishing a human for jay-walking, or littering. However, the pedophile who molests children, or the spouse who beats on their husband or wife? That’s another story. Hell is full of degenerates who should never be allowed a moment’s respite.

“Each and every punishment is uniquely suited for its subject. It takes real talent to make the punishment fit the crime, and I do take pride in what I do… or I did, anyway,” he concluded, his expression turning reflective.

“Is that why you’re up here amongst humans, running a nightclub?” Buffy asked, totally curious as to how this came to be.

“It is, I suppose. After eons of ruling over Hell, I felt that there had to be more to my existence.” He downed his libation in a single swallow, slamming the glass down none-too-gently. “Look at me, Buffy,” he said, his eyes focused entirely on her. “I love well-made clothing. In fact, I’m built for it.” He preened, slowly turning in a circle to show off all his assets. “I can hold a conversation with anyone on the planet. I’m well-informed. And most of all, I enjoy a good romp in the hay. There are plenty of men, women, and those in between who leave my bed a lot happier than when they landed on it.”

“I’m sure the sex is glorious,” Buffy agreed. “But did you love any of them?”

“Love?”

“Yes, love. As in head-over-heels, couldn’t live without them love. Do you have a soul? Are you capable of such a human emotion?”

“Now, now, Buffy… we’re getting into questionable subjects here,” Lucifer murmured, sidling up closer to where she was sitting. “Souls are human-defined. I’m an Angel. And as for your definition of love… I might be persuaded to admit some rather intense feelings for our favorite Detective Decker.”

Aha! I was right!! Buffy thought. I knew there was sparkage, and now it’s confirmed. She looked directly into Lucifer’s warm, brown eyes. “Then why haven’t you told Chloe how you feel?”

“Because she doesn’t know the real me,” he said, softly. “I don’t know if she’d be able to understand… to cope… When I told Linda, it took her months to recover. She and I are fine, now, but it was a devil of a time for her. Forgive me for the pun.”

“I’ve had a relationship with a vampire,” Buffy said so softly, as if almost to not have spoken at all. “He had a soul, though. A human soul. Without a soul they can’t feel any of the finer emotions,” she insisted, all the while images of Spike’s handsome face crossed her mind. Spike doting on her sister. Spike sharing hot chocolate with her Mom. Even Spike’s care for his paramour for over a hundred years – all without a soul. His declaration of love for her. No wonder she was confused.

“There are millions of ‘souled’ humans who commit atrocities every day, sweetheart,” Lucifer said, softly, using his fingertips to lift Buffy’s chin. “Hell is full of them. I guarantee that none of them understand what ‘love’ is.”

“Then how do the people who know get these things all wrong?”

“People who know?” Lucifer laughed, but it was an ugly sound not meant to convey levity. “Nobody knows the hearts and minds of other individuals. Well, except for me, of course. I can’t help but read most people like open books.”

“How can you stand it?” Buffy asked, truly curious. “How can you pass judgment on everyone?”

“How can you kill vampires and demons on sight?” Lucifer shot back. “Do you know there are all types of demons? They can’t all be on your ‘kill first, ask questions later’ list.”

“But everything I’ve been taught… everything Giles insists…”

“How about everything that Buffy Summers learns for herself? Surely you know some friendly demons?”

Buffy was at a loss for words. She actually liked Spike’s friend, Clem; even though he had a taste for poor, little kitties. And then there was Spike himself. These days he was almost the anti-vampire. All her learning and Giles’ teachings were flung back in her face regarding him.

Of course, his age had something to do with it. Approximately 120 years or so takes the edge off fledgling bloodlust. And the chip – mustn’t forget the stupid government chip that prevented him from harming people. Buffy shuddered – the thought of what Angel would be like if he were the one who’d been chipped. Or even worse – Angelus. Guaranteed he’d have found ways to cause death and destruction despite it.

Spike, on the other hand, adapted. He constantly bitched about the taste of animal blood – even bagged human – but he stuck with it. He didn’t recruit other vampires to supply him with freshly dead humans. He didn’t even try firebombing her house, or the Magic Box.

No, he actually tried hanging out with her and her friends, helping (when she let him) in whatever ways he could. And definitely caring for…

“Okay, enough,” Buffy shouted, then sprung to her feet. “All this is doing is giving me a ‘bloody headache’ to quote one of my species-defying vampires back home. I came here because I can’t stand it anymore. I don’t belong here, Lucifer. I need to go home. Can you help me or not?”

“Answer me one question, sweetie.”

“Shoot.”

“Did you have anything to do with my kidnapping and us ending up in the desert at the same time?”

“This again?” Buffy rolled her eyes, fighting the urge to scream. “No. No I did not have anything to do with you or your kidnapping. And I have no idea how in the hell I managed to end up here – sixteen years in my future and apparently in another dimension where nobody or nothing I know exists.”

“Then let’s get cracking, shall we? It’s time for Buffy Summers to get back to her own life.”