Chloe was hiding.
This night was not turning out how she'd hoped.
She mourned the relaxing night in she had planned: a cheap glass of wine and fluffy blankets to accompany trashy reality television. Unfortunately, an invitation to the precinct’s annual gala celebrating the hard work of all its employees (Chloe suspected it was really a poor attempt to make up for the disaster these last few years had been) spoiled her plans. Chloe made the grievous mistake of leaving it out where sticky little fingers could reach and subsequently tell her father of her findings. This led to the tag team of Dan and Trixie’s relentless bullying eventually wearing her down to agree to go.
She knew it was a mistake the second those chocolate puppy eyes of her daughter had stared her down, pleading for her to have a “fun” night out.
Clad in a short, maroon and black flowy dress and a pair of laced black knee high boots, Chloe had strolled into Lux. The sensual nightclub was decorated with brighter, traditional lights and conspicuously lacked the Steinway piano that centered the room. She clenched her eyes shut, the echo of Lucifer's symphonic melodies drifting from that piano. She pushed the image of his tear-filled eyes and beautiful, luminiscent wings out of her mind and made a beeline for the bar.
Before she could drown the pain in copious amounts of alcohol, her new partner had intercepted her. Eli was even more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than her ten-year-old, but unfortunately nursed a bit of a crush. That meant immensely awkward stakeouts that made her wish more than ever for the crunching of cool ranch puffs and snarky comments on the tragic outfits of suspects. After practically cornering her into the bar with his somewhat endearing but mostly annoying enthusiasm, he tried to drag her to dance. Clinging to the excuse that she had to go to the bathroom, she fled his eager grip with the grace of a trembling newborn fawn, and had avoided him ever since.
All of which had led to now. Chloe Decker, one of the LAPD'S best detectives, cowering behind a table piled full of hors d'oeuvres. Although, after taking a second lingering glance on those ham and cheese puff pastries, maybe she could enjoy herself. Scanning the room for any onlookers, she quickly folded as many mouthwatering sandwiches as she could hold in a makeshift napkin vessel and stuffed them in her clutch. Well, at least Trixie and I won't be lacking in snacks tomorrow, she grinned inwardly, then immediately winced. She could practically feel the bombardment of teasing that was about to come out of Lucifer's mouth-
She stopped short, the onslaught of emotions bubbling to the surface.
Ever since Lucifer had returned to Hell, Chloe had been rote, simply repeating the routine she had for years to try to keep it together in front of Trixie. But trying to avoid feeling the devastating heartbreak of his absence was equivalent to dodging bullets in No Man’s Land- impossible and extremely exhausting. Whenever she allowed herself to break down into the million pieces she had shattered into, she wondered how the sun continued to rise when its creator was banished to suffer the dark.
But this was still work, where she pretended to be more than a wraith drifting through the shadows.
She wouldn’t cry now. She would do that at home. In the privacy of her own bedroom, her daughter asleep, she would cling to the silk button-down she had stolen from his closet, the scent of sandalwood cologne, lingering cigarette smoke, and natural smoky musk that had long since faded comforting her.
Everything's okay. Everything is fine. Now pull yourself together Decker. This is still a work function.
"Chloe!! I've been looking everywhere for you!" Chloe, startled out of her inner pep talk, cursed her musings for distracting her from the now, unsuccessful, task of avoiding Eli. Eyeing the floor that had liberal amounts of unknown sticky substances coating it (what was Amendiel doing), she prayed to Lucifer for strength she knew she didn't have, and turned around to face her partner (it felt wrong and painful on so many levels to even think that), signature fake smile and placid expression plastered on her face. Eli smiled jovially and playfully bowed,"I'd like to request a dance, milady, before your other suitors come sweep you off your feet". She cringed, remembering his obsession with medieval video games resulted in his awkward vernacular. Hearing him call her "milady" and "dame" made her feel both old and uncomfortable; and it didn't exactly inspire confidence in the person who was supposed to quite literally have her back. Speaking of having her back, where was Maze? If there was ever a time for her ex-roomate to help her out, it was now.
Chanting you can't be rude to your new partner repeatedly, Chloe stretched her phoney smile wide enough she was sure her face would chip like a fragile piece of china and replied, "Of course, Eli. " He grabbed her hand and gently tugged her to the dancefloor. He was tall compared to her, with broad shoulders and a stocky frame reminiscent of Dan. She had to crane her neck to meet his bright emerald eyes flitting with childish excitement. She couldn't help but wish that the eyes she was staring into were a brown almost dark enough to be black or even a fiery, entrancing red, that the hands on her back were soft and warm, that the man dancing slowly with her was the one that had stolen her heart and had yet to give it back.
Realizing the dance would simply lead him on for a relationship that would never happen, Chloe pulled away to let him down gently when goosebumps broke out across her tan skin. The temperature rose unnaturally high, the heat scorching her body like the fires of Hell. The imposing presence swallowed all the air in the room, the previously wide-open space feeling like a box that was slowly closing in on her. An intense gaze burned the back of her skull and she grew dizzy, even standing with support.
It was him.
Shock and muted joy flashed through her like lightning, rendering her paralyzed. When she finally released her claw-like grasp of Eli to step backwards, she hit a solid mass of heated flesh. The gasp that escaped her let all the oxygen in her lungs rush out, and she froze against the towering boulder pressing into her back.
In the background noise neither of them seemed capable of registering, Eli's bewildered expression gave way to reserved recognition. Lucifer Morningstar's legend was intimately entangled with Chloe Decker, and Eli was not one to impede fate. Slipping away, he helped himself to the expensive store of Macallan underneath the bar, a not-so secret stash Maze had made casual references to in the precinct.
Everything surrounding Chloe had faded to narrow down on the two of them, like it always had, from the very first day they met. He exhaled a hot breath of air against the shell of her ear, his stubble scratching deliciously against the sensitive skin of her neck. "Did you miss me, darling?"
The breath that she didn’t even realize she had been holding for months finally, finally, released. The cobwebs that haunted the mausoleum of her heart were brushed away, soaking in the revitalizing rays of the sun, of her sun, her Morningstar.
Chloe turned around to meet Lucifer’s burning gaze, the one that always managed to strip her of her pretenses, her insecurities, her burdens. She used to despise it, hated feeling so bare in front of a man who rarely broke from the charming mask of the Devil like the method actor Ella believes him to be. She realizes now that he was the only one who ever truly saw her for the person she is. Just as she saw him for the heart he convinced himself wasn’t there, the one he believed had been poisoned and calcified long ago from the weight of his darkness.
An unkempt beard and plum-colored bags underlining the eyes on the very first control freak betrayed the physical effects of Hell. And the lines that marred his divine face exposed his emotional agony, the bitter eternity of his lifetime catching up in his appearance. Brushing one of the overgrown curls that covered his forehead, she smiled at the genuine grin overtaking his face.
They had broken pieces of themselves that needed healing, lingering pains of betrayal and cruelty, and undoubtedly, more dates that would be interrupted.
But they had each other. And that’s all they’d ever needed.