“Thanks for the great night, guys,” Amelia said as she finished her breakfast, taking her plate and setting it in the sink. “But I need to go down and change before getting on with my day. Good luck with your press conference.”
He waved goodbye, taking a long drink from his coffee. Lucifer walked around to take her seat, running a hand through his hair. Dan leaned into it, his tail draping in Lucifer's lap once he was seated.
“You're going to be fine,” Lucifer told him, patting his forearm. “I've called for a private car with blackout windows for a little privacy. Ready to go?”
“Ready as I'll ever be,” Dan sighed, finishing the last of his cup.
Dan held Lucifer's hand as they took the elevator down. The spot to their right had a black SUV in it, windows blacked out. He got into the back on the right, Lucifer taking the left. As they drove out, he was relieved to see no one from the press hiding out. They didn't know where he was. That was good. The ride was quiet and uneventful. Dan's stomach twisted a little as the car pulled into the station parking garage.
“I'm not sure how to do this,” he said, not moving to get out of the car yet.
“I'd say give them the whole picture,” Lucifer said with a shrug. “It really wouldn't do you any good to keep anything from them.”
“I hate this,” he said as he got out of the car. “I don't want to be afraid of the people I've worked with for over 10 years.”
“One step at a time, Daniel,” Lucifer told him. “Come on, we don't want to keep the Lieutenant waiting.”
Dan sighed heavily as he hit the button to call the elevator, stretching his wings before lightly folding them against his back. Lucifer took hold of his hand again. It helped. When the elevator doors opened, he went first. No one noticed them at first. Everyone was going about their day. It felt weird walking through to the stairs leading to the lieutenant's office, like it'd been years since he'd been here. Seeing a newer officer about to drop a stack of files, he rushed forward and caught the files before the paper could slip free from the folders.
“Thanks,” she sighed. “Roland would've had my--” She stopped mid-sentence as she got a look at him. “Detective Espinoza, I didn't know you'd be coming back today.”
“Just a press conference,” he told her, backing up once he knew she had a hold on the files. “Still out for another week and a half unless my doctor says I need longer.”
Her eyes went wide, trained on a point just over his shoulder. Before he could say anything else, she dashed off. As they kept going, Dan noticed that the entire floor had gone quiet. The feeling of being watched hung over him while climbing the stairs and knocking on the lieutenant's door.
“Come in,” he heard her say.
Lucifer was right behind him as he entered the office. The captain got to his feet once the door was shut.
“Holy shit,” the Lieutenant muttered. “Chloe wasn't kidding about that woman doing a number on you. Dr. Everhart sent his preliminary report. It...I never thought something like this was possible.” She approached him slowly. He rolled his eyes.
“Would you relax?” he scoffed. “I may have had my DNA put through the blender, but I'm still me.”
“Yep, still you,” she laughed. “Good. I'd hate to lose a good detective.”
“Sir,” Dan greeted as the captain came closer.
“This...this is new for all of us,” he said simply, eyeing his extra appendages. “But once your leave is over, you're on desk duty for the first week. Let everyone get used to this and then you'll go back in the field with Decker.”
“Understood sir,” Dan said with a nod.
“Great.” The captain looked at his watch. “And it's nearly 10. Have a late night?”
“You could say that,” he replied with a smile. “Lead the way, captain.”
It was damn eerie how quiet the station was as they walked through to the press room. At least no one wanted to attack him.
“I'll be right here when you get back,” Lucifer told him softly, stopping next to the door. “It's going to be ok.”
Dan eased into his arms for a minute, kissing him before following the lieutenant into the press room. He managed to hide his wince as he heard the shocked gasps and exclamations as he entered, walking up the shallow steps onto the raised stage and took his place beside the lieutenant as she settled behind the podium. That feeling of being a bug under glass hit him hard again. He liked it much better when it was Lucifer eyeing him. At least then he was being looked at to be admired, not studied. Widening his stance a bit, Dan clasped his hands behind his back. Thankfully, his nerves had his tail behaving today, remaining still.
“Good morning,” the lieutenant said into the now active mic. “I'm Lieutenant Rachel Turner of the LAPD. This press conference is to brief all of you on the events of the citywide kidnapping case as well as allow one of the victims, Detective Daniel Espinoza to make a statement. I want to stress that by agreeing to this briefing, that there will be no following or harassing of Detective Espinoza or his family.” There were nods and responses agreeing to the statement. “Good. Over the last couple of months, there were reports of homicides and kidnappings, none of them appearing to be connected. Detective Espinoza; working with Detective Chloe Decker, court approved psychiatrist Linda Martin, forensic analyst Ella Lopez and civilian consultant Lucifer Morningstar, found that the perpetrator; Dr. Eliza Sorento, was kidnapping a combination of people in good health and those living with terminal or chronic illnesses.
A week after the connection was made; another kidnapping was stopped during an unrelated case by Detective Espinoza. Roughly five days ago, Detective Espinoza was reported missing and a suspect apprehended; an Evan Williams. The suspect's statements eventually led us to a former army research hospital at Fort Declan. The detective along with seven of the other victims were found alive, but had been subjected to Dr. Sorento's testing. Preliminary physicals and reports on the recovered research notes found that Dr. Sorento was attempting genetic manipulation with a goal to hybridize humans with currently unknown DNA. The other victims are currently being hospitalized due to various complications with what's been done to them. Detective Espinoza has been cleared medically and is currently on leave for another 10 days before returning to active duty.”
Several reporters started vying for attention, several cameras focusing on them, flashing intermittently. She pointed at someone a few rows from the front.
“Do the police have Dr. Sorento in custody?” they asked.
“Unfortunately, she'd fled the scene according to the first responders and the building burned to the ground,” Rachel answered. “We're investigating the fire, but thankfully, the research had been collected before the fire. Everything we have on her has been given to all media outlets and the FBI.”
“Have the deceased's families been notified?” another person asked.
“They were informed of their loved ones. Arrangements are being made in private between the LAPD, the medical facility that is storing the bodies and the families.”
“Why is a private medical facility handling the victims and the research?”
“Dr. Everhart is an expert on genetic manipulation and engineering,” Rachel answered. “His own work has pioneered several new procedures and has broken ground into new medications to combat cancer. He'd heard of Dr. Sorento and her research when she was working for the government, reviewing it as a second opinion for the CDC and CIA. He informed us that Lucifer Morningstar had called him in to help take care of the victims as well as copies of the research to help them. He's been in contact since he took custody of the victims and we expect weekly progress reports or any time there's a big update. Any further questions regarding the victims, there will be no comment. I'll now allow Detective Espinoza to make a statement.”
He swallowed hard as he switched places with her.
“Good morning,” he said after clearing his throat. “First, I'd like to apologize to anyone that attempted to meet the plane we came in on yesterday. I was very adamant about no press. What happened to me...I was a victim of a disturbed individual. The doctors have told me they are looking to find a way to reverse what's been done to me. But at the same time...I'm trying to make peace with the fact that this may be my new reality. Please...for the sake of my family and my sanity, don't call about interviews or pictures. I might agree to something like that if you send a written request to the precinct to my attention. I promise you that any harassment will result in me calling the police and a lawsuit against your employer and yourself. And just remember that Lucifer Morningstar owes me a favor that I won't think twice about collecting on. Thank you.”
Everyone there looked a little nervous as he stepped aside. With no further questions, he walked out while the Lieutenant wrapped it up. He let out a sigh of relief as he saw Lucifer chatting with Chloe by her desk.
“Everything go ok?” Chloe asked as he stopped right beside Lucifer, leaning into his side a bit.
“It went fine,” he said. “For once, I think the press will actually listen.”
“First time for everything,” Chloe said with a laugh. “Dan, would you mind picking up Trixie from school today and keeping her overnight? I’m trying to catch up on some of this paperwork and I’ve been asked to assist on a stakeout tonight.”
“Sure,” he replied. “Did you have her pack a bag?”
“Yes,” she told him. “If you weren’t up to it, I was going to ask Ella or one of the emergency sitters to take her for the night. Thanks, Dan.”
“She’s always welcome to stay with me,” Dan told her, grabbing hold of Lucifer’s hand. “We’re going to head out now. Linda’s coming by this afternoon for my first session and I want to make lunch since she’s giving up her lunch break for me. Call if you need anything. Oh! Has my phone been released from evidence yet?”
Chloe handed him his phone with a smile. He pulled her in for a quick hug before they left. As they got off the elevator into the parking garage, Maze was there. She was getting out of Lucifer’s Corvette. She tossed him the keys as she slipped into the elevator.
“Called in a quick favor for Maze to pick up my car,” he told him as he got in. “She had to come turn in a few bounties anyway.”
Dan shrugged, putting his wings away before sliding into the passenger seat.
“Is the kitchen fully stocked at the apartment?” Dan asked.
“I just had everything delivered that I needed for last night, I’m afraid,” Lucifer replied. “I wasn’t sure of what to stock it with for you.”
“Good,” he told him with a smile. “Mind doing a little shopping with me?”
“I’m up for anything with you,” Lucifer said with a laugh.
Lucifer drove to the closest market to his new place; maybe five blocks from the building. Good to know he had close access. The pair of them walked in and grabbed a shopping cart. Dan preferred to start in produce and work his way around. It was such a simple, menial chore in day to day life; grocery shopping. Yet, it felt so different now. Granted, he was the one who was different. He kept feeling eyes on him, like people were staring at him. Looking behind him and to the side, no one else was in that section of the store. Thankfully, Lucifer said nothing, just put things into the cart he wanted. They moved through the store, the few other people shopping doing a bit of a double take at him, but then moving along.
“I’m surprised no one’s gone into a panic,” he muttered as he stood in line at the meat counter. “Not that I want them to. It’s just…it’s weird no one seems to be freaking out.”
“That’s L.A. for you, Dan,” Lucifer said with a smile. “Though, it could just be you. I told you about how I couldn’t show my Devil Face before, right?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “What’s your point?”
“During that time, I didn’t feel like a monster anymore. I liked who I was with Chloe, when I’m around your offspring, Ella, you. So because in my mind I no longer saw myself like that…I couldn’t show that side of myself. But after what happened with Pierce…guilt and self-loathing set in and it came back. That’s when you all found out the truth. My point is that if you’re feeling anxious, fearful of people’s reactions, your aura could be affecting how people see you or acting like a psychic buffer, giving them a feeling of calm or that nothing’s out of the ordinary.”
“Great,” Dan sighed. “As much as I would like it to, that doesn’t exactly make me feel better about this.”
“Better than torches and pitchforks though,” Lucifer said, lightly elbowing him in the ribs.
Dan rolled his eyes, but smiled. He appreciated the effort Lucifer was putting in to try and make this easier. But the possibility of him being able to affect people like that…it was a little unsettling. Just how much more was he going to be able to do? Once he made his selections at the meat counter, they went through the various aisles, picking up things that would get them through the week. They had no problems from anyone…until they reached the checkout.
He didn’t even realize what he was doing as he was unloading the cart onto the belt while the customer ahead of them finished paying for their groceries. Feeling eyes on him again, Dan looked up to see the cashier and the customer ahead of them staring at him, mouths hanging open. Finding the point their eyes were looking at, he looked behind him and to the side. His tail had looped around the top of the bag of oranges he’d selected and lifted them to place on the belt. His face felt hot as he looked back at them.
"So much for your theory, Lucifer," he prayed.
“You…didn’t happen to see the press conference earlier this morning, did you?” he asked, finally getting control over his tail and letting go of the bag. It thumped to the belt a little hard, making all of them jump.
“I saw it,” the cashier answered with a squeak. “I…I thought it was a crazy stunt. I mean…I’d heard about the kidnappings and that was just terrible…but the experimentation bit, I had no idea that was real.”
“Oh, it was very real,” he sighed, wincing when he batted his tail away from the cart. “Sorry. I know this is…strange.”
“That’s putting it mildly,” the woman finishing her purchase scoffed. “I’m surprised they even let you go out in public…being this way.”
“Hey, I didn’t ask for what happened to me,” he said, snapping a little. “But I do have to live with it.”
She glared at him, but took her receipt and walked out to her car, bags in hand.
“Bitch,” he muttered, finishing getting everything on the belt.
The cashier rang everything up with no fuss, but her eyes kept stealing glances at his tail. It didn’t really bother him, but he was a bit on edge after that woman had insulted him. The end kept tapping against the floor or against side of the checkout aisle.
“Don’t let people like that get to you,” the girl told him, ringing up the last item. “I’ll admit, it’s very weird to see someone like you. But you’re still a person and you’re clearly not hurting anyone. Live and let live.”
“Thanks,” he said, stepping aside to let Lucifer pay for the tab. Dan couldn’t help but notice that she kept stealing glances at him, a light blush coloring her cheeks. He walked around to the other side of the aisle, standing behind her. No one else was in her line at this time of day and most of the other checkout lanes weren’t manned. She jumped a little, that blush hitting her face harder. “You want to touch it, don’t you? I saw how you were looking at it.”
“Yeah,” she replied, making him chuckle. He moved slowly, letting it move up and along her arm before wrapping around it a bit. He flexed the muscle and she was a little startled by the grip. She reached out and stroked the skin. “Do you…get a lot of people asking this? You seem pretty comfortable with it.”
“One other person has asked to,” he answered. “And I’m working on being more comfortable with this. But the damn thing is a nuisance and a half most of the time. I live nearby now, so I’ll probably see you on a regular basis.”
“You know where to find me,” she told him with a smile as he let her go. “I’m Beth. I work here full time and I tend to work extra more often than not. See you around…”
“Daniel,” he replied, taking hold of her hand and shaking it before stepping back. “But you can call me Dan. Later.”
“That wasn’t too bad,” Lucifer said, closing up the trunk. “I hope you didn’t mind me getting the car loaded while you were speaking with your new friend there. Are they coming home with us too?”
“No!” Dan barked, laughing. “Jeez man, she’s probably 18 at best, given that she told me she works full time. No offense, but that’s a little young for me.”
“Just teasing, darling,” Lucifer told him; pecking him on the cheek once he was in the car.
As they pulled up to the gate and Lucifer showed his card, he noticed Linda’s car behind theirs. Frowning, Dan checked his phone. It was barely noon. He was right when they pulled into their marked spot and the car came through after a minute, parking in the spot to their right.
“You’re an hour early,” Dan said, getting out of the car. “Is something wrong?”
“Not at all,” Linda told him. “I only had two other appointments after lunch today and they both rescheduled for next week. So I decided to come see you, not just as a therapist, but a friend. Plus, it’ll be easier to order lunch in before the rush.”
“I actually wanted to make tacos,” Dan told her, helping Lucifer by grabbing a few bags. “It’s the least I could do since you’re the one that had to work around me.” Finding there were still 3 bags, he hooked one with his tail. But Linda beat him to the other two. “If it’s ok with you, that is.”
“Sounds great,” she said. She watched him as they walked to the elevator. “You don’t have any kind of pain at all? You have free range of motion, no numbness or tingling?”
“No,” he replied. “I did lie on my tail last night and it had that awful pins and needles sensation until it woke up this morning. It sucks worse than having it in your arm or leg.”
“It’s very dexterous,” she said.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he grumbled. “The damn thing seems to do whatever it wants at the worst times.”
“Or is it because it’s doing something you want it to, just maybe not at that time?” she asked.
“Shut up,” he said, going quiet as they got in the elevator.
Dan couldn’t help but grin when Linda was struck silent by the view they had. They went to the kitchen and got everything put away, save for what Dan was going to use to make lunch with. Lucifer checked his phone and cursed.
“I’d love to stay for lunch, but Chloe needs me back at the station and I do need to check on how things are going at Lux,” he said, giving him an apologetic look.
“Will you be back in time for me to pick up Trixie from school?” Dan asked.
“I honestly don’t know,” Lucifer sighed. “I’ll call my garage and have someone bring over a car you can use. Do you have any preferences?”
“I would prefer automatic if you have it. I can drive manual, but I’m not the greatest at it.”
“Any color requests? And before you ask, I have a number of cars…many of them in a rainbow of colors.”
“Surprise me,” Dan told him, pulling him in for another hug. “See you later, Luce.”
“See you soon, love,” he said back, kissing him quickly before heading back out.
“You two are so cute,” Linda sighed, making Dan roll his eyes.
“You sound like Ella,” he told her, setting a pan on the stove to get hot. “I love that kid, but she drives me crazy with those looks she gives us. Though, I guess it could be worse.”
“How are you holding up?” Linda asked him as he started browning hamburger; throwing onion, jalapeno and cilantro into the pan as well. He followed that with adding a little bit of taco seasoning from a packet. He didn’t like using the whole thing…makes everything a little too salty. “And none of the ‘I’m fine’ crap. I’m a therapist; no one is ever really fine when I ask the first time.”
“I’m doing ok,” he replied after a few minutes, keeping an eye on the pan. “I’m annoyed with myself, little bit anxious…but other than that, I don’t really feel anything very strongly, if that makes any sense?”
“It does,” she told him. “Do you mind elaborating on why you’re feeling anxious and annoyed? One at a time, please.”
Done with the meat, he set that pan on the back burner, grabbing another and tossing shrimp in with garlic, a little onion, paprika, half a habanero pepper and a little white wine he found in the fridge.
“I’m annoyed because we went to do a little food shopping,” he began, keeping an eye on his pan. “Everything was going well at first. I got a few weird looks, but no one said anything. My tail even behaved and didn’t knock anything over or something that would draw attention to me…until we got to the checkout.” He stopped to remove the shrimp from the pan, adding a splash of milk to the pan and some queso fresco cheese. “I was getting everything up on the belt to check out and I felt someone was looking at me. I look to see the person in front of me and the cashier staring at me. Apparently, my tail decided to help with unloading and had put the oranges up on the belt. I was just grateful that when I set them down, the bag didn’t split to have them roll everywhere. You’re probably right; because my mind was on the task at hand, it just reacted like the rest of me. It’s weird, right?”
“It’s weird for humans to have prehensile tails, yes,” Linda replied. “But it’s just a part of you. It’s like having a third arm, you just need to coordinate. If this is going to be long term or permanent, you’ll probably get it to stop doing things like that.”
“That’s the other thing that’s been bugging me,” he said, finishing the sauce for the shrimp tacos and putting it into a bowl. He did the same to the shrimp and the hamburger. Finding a large serving tray, he set it out on the island and placed the finished items on the tray. He found the cutting board, a chef’s knife and turned towards the rest of the produce he left out. “This should be weird to me. I should be a fucking basket case huddled in a corner somewhere because of all of this. But…it’s not weird. I feel like this is how I’m supposed to be. Any time I think about this being permanent, it doesn’t scare me. It should…shouldn’t it?”
“I wish I could answer that for you, Dan,” Linda sighed, watching him shred some lettuce, dice a tomato. “But it might be a better question for Raphael. Whatever was done to you may have affected your soul. If you think about it, if it affects the very heart of who you are as a person, maybe it’s helping you acclimate to the changes that were made physically. And if not…I would say that it could be self-acceptance.”
“What do you mean?” he asked. He finished dicing an onion, saving part of it back along with part of the tomato. She was quiet while he made a quick salsa and guacamole. After checking that he had everything done he wanted, he put a small of bowl of parsley and cilantro on the tray and grabbed a couple of sodas, adding them to the spread. He quickly remembered he bought limes and grabbed two, slicing them before putting the unused produce back.
“We’ll come back to that,” she told him, grabbing a couple of plates from one of the cupboards and the tortillas from the counter. “Let’s get this to the table. And you haven’t gotten to why you’re feeling anxious.”
“Chloe asked me to pick up Trixie from school today,” he replied, walking to the table. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that Chloe has been as understanding as she is about all of this. And Trixie…I knew I didn’t have to worry about her accepting this. She believed Lucifer from the start. What worries me is anyone causing a scene and Trixie getting caught in the middle.”
“Children are remarkably resilient in situations like that,” Linda told him, making up her plate. “Trixie loves you and in spite of the mess the start of your separation was, she rebounded well. And you’ve really grown as both an individual and as a father since then.”
“It still hurts when Chloe has to call her string of sitters when I show up on time,” he sighed, piling his own plate high. “After 3 years, she still doesn’t trust me to be there. I know I messed up royally. But aside from a few work things coming up, I’ve been there for Trixie every time.”
“You need to let her know how you feel. And don’t give me that sour puss look, you know I’m right. I agree; you’ve shown dependability and responsibility over and over again. I would preface that this is part of your therapy. But if she gets defensive, try not to react to it. Getting angry or showing that you’re frustrated will only escalate the situation, but Chloe does need to hear from you that you feel this way.”
“Ok,” he told her, turning to his lunch.
“This is really good, by the way,” Linda told him after swallowing a large bite from the shrimp taco she’d made.
Dan shrugged. “I learned how to cook a little bit from my grandmother. I don’t remember a lot of the exact recipes, so I’ve improvised over the years. But the one I do remember by heart is her tamales. No one made better tamales and I was determined to do the same. I wrote that bad boy down and keep it tucked away, just in case.”
“What was your family life like?” Linda asked, reaching for a lime wedge.
“It was good,” he replied. “My father was a bit strict, especially when it came to finding the right girl to marry and raise a family. I never told anyone until I finally got with Lucifer, that I was bi-sexual. I’d figured it out not long after starting high school. But…you know what it was like back then.”
“All too well,” Linda sighed. She gestured for him to continue.
“So I buried that part of myself deep, denied it at every turn,” he continued, grabbing another tortilla. “After I graduated and went to college…I was still too scared to even think I was anything other than straight. When I met Chloe, I was happy. Part of me still longed to just…just try something new, just once. I think that was around the time we both got promoted to detective and we became so engrossed in work, we started drifting apart. The Palmetto case was the final straw and I hated that I even let it get as bad as it did. But after that, when the longing started up again…I knew I was done. I was done hiding from myself. The rest of the story you know.”
“How do you feel about it now?”
“I feel great, to be honest. It’s a relief to not have to feel like I’m living a lie.”
“And I think that’s why you’re not having a meltdown about the situation you’re in,” Linda said with a smile. “You’ve been hiding a part of yourself from the world for so long; you’re simply done with that behavior. So much so that with the knowledge this could be permanent, you’re just accepting it as fact. I’m not saying that something could trigger an episode of some kind, but for now, you’ve adjusted.”
“Huh. I never thought about it that way,” Dan said after a few minutes. “You’re right too. I’m sick of hiding who I am. It didn’t do me any favors.” He reached over and put his hand over one of hers. “Thanks, Linda. You’re a great therapist. Whatever Lucifer is paying you, it isn’t enough.”
“Don’t tell him, but I actually bill him for triple the hours he sees me,” she told him with a grin. “With the impromptu cancellations and random drop ins or calls to come over, it kind of evens out.”
“Your secret’s safe with me,” Dan told her with a laugh. “Let’s finish lunch and clean up so I can take you on a tour of the apartment.”
“There’s more?” she asked.
“You haven’t seen the second floor yet,” he said with a wink.
“Show and tell now,” she told him, getting up and pulling at his shoulder to get him up. “We can finish later.”
When Linda saw the pool, she just decided to undress down to her underwear and jump in. Dan followed her, glad he was wearing a pair of boxers. Linda was just a friend to him; he didn’t want or need anything else other than that or the help he was getting as her patient. They had fun splashing at each other, taking turns on the slide and the diving board. After a while, Linda pulled herself from the pool, heading for one of the lounge chairs out in the sun. They talked some more, mostly about nothing. Before long, he noticed the clock set into one of the walls near the pool. He had thirty minutes before Trixie got out of school. Heading back downstairs, he quickly dried off and got changed into a fresh pair of cargo shorts and a grey polo. He didn’t bother with socks, just toeing into his oldest pair of sneakers. Grabbing his wallet and his tenant badge, they headed out together. He noticed a small envelope on the floor, just in front of the door. It had been slid under the door from the looks of it. Opening it, he found a car key attached to…a Ford badge keychain?
“Huh, never figured Lucifer for having a Ford in his collection,” he said, putting the key in his pocket before locking up behind him.
“This was great, Dan,” Linda sighed as they waited on the elevator. “I’d be more than happy to make our sessions on Saturday if it means we can hang out here. Next time, I’ll cook lunch.”
“That would work for me better,” he said with a grin. “Once I’m back out in the field, Saturdays tend to be a catch up for paperwork, but if I can get Lucifer to help me, I’ll have them free more often.”
“Awesome,” Linda said as the elevator opened. The ride down was quiet as usual. As the elevator opened and they stepped off, he couldn’t help but gape.
Sitting in his designated parking spot was a classic Ford convertible in a royal purple, 1950s by the look of it. The top was down, showing off the black interior, pinstriped with the same color on the body. Everything was shiny and new, like it had just rolled off a showroom floor. And knowing Lucifer, it probably did.
“I can see why he got this,” Dan said, carefully checking the bottoms of his shoes for any stray dirt. “I’ve always loved cars like this. They just don’t make them like they used to anymore.”
“Ooh, I’d hoped you’d like this one!” he heard Lucifer exclaim. He turned to see him just parking in one of the spare spots towards the center of the garage. “I’d managed to sneak away for a month in 1949. I saw one of these at a dealership. They were willing to take pre orders for the right price. I offered twice what they wanted just to get it in this color. This was my favorite, up until the Corvette I currently drive. It was a shame I didn’t get too many chances to drive it before I ended up downstairs again. But thanks to a few well-placed deals and contacts made, I’ve managed to add to my collection over the decades and have hired a team of enthusiasts to maintain them.”
Dan was a little shocked when Lucifer went and got in the passenger seat, waiting on him. Lucifer checked his watch.
“Are you going to get in or stare at me all day?” Lucifer asked with a laugh. “Come on then, the spawn will be released from school in fifteen minutes. Oh, Chloe wanted you to know she called ahead to let them know you’re picking her up today.”
Smiling, Dan got in and started it up. They eased out of the garage and out onto the street. He loved how easily the car responded to him. Lucifer handed him a pair of sunglasses. He put them on, feeling awesome. Dan couldn't keep the grin off of his face as he noticed the looks they got as he pulled up to the school. Just as he parked, the bell rang. A few minutes later, he saw Trixie skipping out the front. He loved how her face lit up and she ran to him. Dan pulled her up into his arms, swinging her around.
“Did you have a good day?” he asked, setting her down on her feet. She nodded but didn't say anything. “What's wrong?”
“The principal had every class watch the announcement about you,” Trixie replied, looking at her feet. “A lot of kids...they don't think it's cool like I do. And some of the teachers...I think they're scared of you.”
He crouched down and made her look at him.
“I don't care what they think, Monkey,” he told her. “They don't have to like it and if they can't be civil...I bet Lucifer would scare them straight.”
“You're correct on that,” Lucifer said as he walked around to them. “Come on, let's get home. I have a little surprise.”
“Detective Espinoza!” he heard a male voice call.
He turned to see the principal walking towards him.
“Great,” he muttered. He gently nudged Trixie towards Lucifer. “Get her in the car and buckled in.”
Dan met the principal halfway to the building.
“How can I help you, sir?” he asked, holding out his hand to shake.
The man backed up a few steps, making no move to touch him.
“I understand that Trixie's mother had to work and asked you to take her today,” he said, handing him an envelope. “Which is fine for today. But...after that press conference, we had several parents call, show up. We had to have an emergency staff meeting. I'm...really sorry about this.”
Daniel's stomach dropped as he opened the letter. It was a restraining order against him. He isn't allowed within 150 yards of the school. That out of the 500 families with kids enrolled in the school, 389 had signed a petition for the school to take out a restraining order on him, to 'protect the safety and well-being of our children'.
“Thank you,” he said, remaining calm. It wouldn't do any good to get angry. It was done. “I'll let Chloe know and we'll make sure we have other arrangements. Have a good day.”
He got in the car and they headed back for home.
“What was that about?” Lucifer asked.
“Not right now,” Dan told him. He then hit his hand against the wheel. “We don't have a room set up for Trixie yet.”
“I got it taken care of,” Lucifer replied. “I got notified that the furniture order I placed while you were still with Raphael arrived while we were at the station. They put everything together and set it up. We can move it around if we need to.”
“How...how did you know to buy anything for Trixie?” Dan asked. “Wait, never mind. I remembered who I was asking.”
“Are you dating Lucifer, daddy?” Trixie asked.
“I am, sweetheart,” Dan said with a smile, reaching over and holding his hand for a minute. “You're ok with that, right?”
“Awesome!” Trixie exclaimed. “I'm glad you're happy.”
“Me too, Trix,” he said, finishing the rest of the drive in silence.
As security let them in, he asked the guard to add Trixie to the list, along with Chloe. It only took a few minutes to park, grab Trixie's bag.
“Whoa,” Trixie breathed as she got a look at the place. “This is so cool! Where's my room?”
“Right this way,” Lucifer told her with a smile.
They both followed him to the short hallway to get to the Master bedroom. He opened the door on the right. Trixie went in first, screaming with excitement. When he first saw the place, the room had nothing in it; the walls white, the carpet the same blue as the living room. Now, it had a full size canopy bed dressed in pink and purple, with a few green accents...a lot like her room at her mom's. There was a desk for her to do her homework or art projects, TV on the wall. A bookshelf filled with books, DVDs, toys...all age appropriate. Even several board games for days/nights in. The room didn't have a closet, so there was a bureau for her clothes in the right corner. And in the left corner of the room...he had to laugh.
“How did you find one of these so large?” Dan asked as Trixie climbed on the back of the giant stuffed dragon taking up that whole corner of the room.
“Custom order,” Lucifer said with a wink. “It was worth it. Beatrice? Do you have any homework?”
She shook her head. “I didn’t get assigned much and I was able to finish it during recess and when I had free time.”
“Excellent,” Lucifer said. “Change into something comfortable, we’re going to have a little picnic. I’m hoping your father here would like to try flying.”
“Out!” Trixie shouted, pushing at their legs.
They both laughed as they left her alone, the door slamming shut as she got into her bag. He was feeling pretty excited about it too. He sat on the bed while Lucifer headed for the closet. Dan didn’t feel like changing and this would be plenty comfortable for a simple outing. He was pretty surprised to see Lucifer exit the closet in a similar outfit to his; simple pair of black shorts, red shirt and a pair of black sneakers.
“I didn’t know you knew the meaning of the word casual,” Dan teased. “I like it.”
“It’s better to have something less restrictive and fewer layers when flying, especially when it’s for something like this,” Lucifer said, pulling him close and kissing him softly. “I’m glad you approve.”
“What brought this on?” Dan asked.
Lucifer sighed. “I’m expected to attend the judgment of the woman who did this to you in two days. I wanted to take the chance to teach a little about flying because I’ll feel better knowing you can.”
“How long does something like this take?” Dan asked.
“Only a day, maybe two,” Lucifer answered. “But it’s in Heaven. Time works differently there like it does in Hell. Every second that passes on Earth, one year passes in Hell. For a week spent on Earth, one day passes in Heaven. I…just want to know you’ll be ok while I’m not here. I can’t help but worry.”
“I can still pray to you, right?” he asked.
“Yes. We can still communicate that way. If something happens and you need me, I don’t care what I’m doing. I’ll be there.”
“Then I'll be fine,” Dan told him, kissing him.
Lucifer rolled his eyes as they heard the door open, followed by Trixie joining their hug. Five minutes later, they were back in the car and driving towards the bluffs. Dan took directions from Lucifer and half an hour later, he parked at a picnic area that overlooked the city. Lucifer grabbed the large picnic basket they picked up at a local deli on the way. Dan helped him unpack several sandwiches, bags of chips along with various snacks, even a dozen mini chocolate cakes for a little dessert. A variety of sodas, juices and water were included. He ate half a sandwich and a bag of chips, splitting the sandwich with Lucifer while Trixie enjoyed her own.
Once they were done and the trash was collected to be tossed when they got home, Lucifer rolled his shoulders, letting his wings unfurl. Dan never got tired of seeing them, always in awe of their splendor. He unfurled his and stretched, feeling a few satisfying pops. His weren’t quite as long as Lucifer’s wings, his span at least five inches shorter, but they were about the same height, roughly the same shape. He watched Lucifer stretch his arms over his head, his wings following the same motion. Dan mimicked it, feeling a delightful stretch to muscles that hadn’t really been used yet. Lucifer went through a variety of other stretches and movements, directing him if he didn’t quite get it.
“Alright, we’re good and stretched,” Lucifer sighed, lightly folding his wings back.
“So how do we start?” Dan asked, feeling a nervous excitement.
“Well, the easiest way is…just jump off the cliff here,” Lucifer told him with a shrug. “Otherwise, you probably won’t get off the ground or pull something. You really need to do the stretches I just showed you at least every day for several weeks, then maybe once a week once you have some strength and stamina built up. Eventually, you’ll be able to take off under your own power. If the change is truly permanent, that is.”
“You’re basically asking me to take a leap of faith here,” Dan said, swallowing hard as he looked over the edge.
“I guess you could say that. But it’s more about having faith in yourself than anyone else,” Lucifer replied. “Or I could just…”
Dan didn’t hear the end of his sentence as he took some steps back before running and leaping out into open air. The wind rushed around him as he fell, his heart going wild in his chest. After a few minutes of falling, he snapped his wings open. They caught the wind and pulled him straight out of the dive and upwards. He felt a little lightheaded as he climbed, instinct seeming to carry him higher and higher. Looking down, he was shocked that he was barely able to see Lucifer and Trixie below him. Feeling a rush of warm air on his right, he turned into it. It carried him even higher, allowing him to essentially glide. He could already feel an ache setting up in the muscles of his back. Dan could care less.
As he circled, Dan kept an eye out for anyone else. People may know about him, but that didn’t mean he was looking to become a tourist attraction. Thankfully, there was no one else around. He noticed Lucifer doing something with Trixie at the picnic table where they had their food. Before he could pray to him to find out what they were doing, Lucifer appeared to strap a harness to himself; helping Trixie into it. Once she was secure, Lucifer pulled the same dive move he did, shooting upwards even faster than he had.
“This is the best idea you’ve ever had, Lucifer!” Trixie shouted over the wind gusts, waving at him as they levelled off next to him.
“I agree,” he said, grinning as he flapped, going faster.
Lucifer took to the chase easily. And while the Devil had been doing this for millennia, he gave him a run for his money. When Dan felt a yank on his tail, he winced and slowed. Looking back, he saw that Lucifer had hold of him, a little out of breath as he fell back to fly alongside him again. After another twenty minutes, he couldn’t go any longer. He was a little bit worried about trying to land, but Lucifer helped him through it via prayer. Dan stumbled a bit, but he managed to stay on his feet. Lucifer landed gracefully with Trixie five minutes later.
“That was great for a first timer,” Lucifer told him as he helped them get unhooked. “I’d suggest spending some time in the tub tonight, jets on. You’re going to be sore tomorrow.”
“It was worth it,” he said, reaching up and cupping Lucifer’s cheek. “Thank you for this.”
“Anytime, love,” Lucifer sighed, pulling him close for a kiss while Trixie headed for the small playground set up in the clearing just behind them.
They sat next to each other on the end of the picnic table, feet resting on the bench seat as they looked out at the city. Dan could feel some soreness setting into his wings, but it wasn’t too bad. He stretched out his left wing, lightly brushing against Lucifer’s. He eased into his side a little more when he didn’t say anything.
“You have no idea what you’re doing right now, do you?” Lucifer asked, his tone suggesting he was very amused.
“Um…I thought I was being affectionate?” he asked, hating the hot flush he could feel creeping up his neck to his face. “Did…am I doing something bad?”
“No,” Lucifer answered, smiling widely. “But it’s a gesture that has a lot of implications.”
“That you’re serious about courtship with me.” Lucifer put his right arm around his waist, pulling him flush against him. “It’s one thing to do minor grooming with close friends or family, simple touches or brushes against one another’s wings. This…is a sign of deep affection, love. That you’re interested in binding yourself to me as a mate.”
Dan felt like he should be freaking out at that revelation. Instead, he melted into Lucifer’s hold, letting his wing dip low and press hard against the back of Lucifer’s now outstretched wing, his feathers fluffed and mingling with Lucifer’s white feathers. He felt Lucifer’s hold tighten for a moment before he pulled away. Dan was confused…until he scooted back further on top of the table, spreading his legs a bit wider. Lucifer helped him sit in the space made, encouraging him to spread his wings again.
When he complied, Lucifer molded himself to his back, his wings stretching out along his own, engulfing them in white. Dan could practically feel his heart beat along the length of his own wings. He moved with him as he pulled them around, blocking out everything around them. It was a bit intense, but he got why it was such an intimate gesture.
“There’s a bit of ceremony involved,” he heard Lucifer say, his head resting on his shoulder. “And I’d love to make you mine. But I want you to really think it over. To make the Declaration, it will bind us together for eternity. It’s where humans got the idea of marriage from, when they were witness to the first angels to do this. I want you to have no doubt that you choose me over anyone else.”
“Ok,” he said after clearing his throat. “I love you, Lucifer.”
“And I love you, Daniel,” Lucifer purred.
He let his wings fall open, but left them out. Dan relaxed further in his hold, leaving his wings where they were. He knew that what happened today wouldn’t be the only time this was going to be hard. But he had faith they would get through it. He had to.
The car (just picture it in purple)