The air tasted like something good, something possible. If freedom and possibilities had a taste, this would be it. Lucifer took a deep breath as he left the dormitory and avoided tripping on the pathway.
Some mornings just had this scent to it, especially when he felt like what he was going to do had a deeper meaning to it. Just leaving the dorm didn’t do the magic. It had to be a good morning, a productive morning. A morning he wanted to spend in his own skin instead of giving his life to someone else to finish for him.
His D.D.D. rang the second he reached the gate.
“Yes?” Lucifer asked. There was something mysterious about bad news. They’d always crash down on him before he fully heard them. Even before Diavolo could say the first word, the happy feeling in Lucifer’s stomach got replaced with dread.
“Yes,” Lucifer repeated.
“I’m so sorry-”
“Just say it,” Lucifer interrupted the future demon king. It felt bad but less bad than hearing Diavolo’s very long ramble that may or may not include useless praise.
“The meeting is going to be longer than intended. I won’t have time to meet you today.”
He had known but it still hurt. Not like Lucifer was allowed to feel hurt.
“I see,” he said. “Say hello from me.”
He could hear Diavolo sigh on the other end and almost felt bad for being this distant.
“Are you okay with this?”
“It’s not like I have a choice,” Lucifer said, even colder than before. He almost hung up on the spot but waited, just in case Diavolo had something to say.
“I’ll make it up to you, I promise, sweetheart,” Diavolo added.
Lucifer stopped right in his tracks. Sweetheart. Nobody had ever called him that without getting punished. But this was Diavolo and there was a tiny chance he meant what he had said.
“Lucifer?” Diavolo asked.
“You don’t have to,” Lucifer said, voice slightly cracking, “Enjoy the meeting.”
He hung up before he could say anything else. The morning had started well but now he had to blink to hold in his tears.
“Lucifer, hey!” a voice called from behind the dormitory’s gate.
Lucifer had never stopped crying this quickly. He looked up from the phone, frowned when he couldn’t see anyone, then lowered his eyes.
The angel. The annoying one, Luke. Possibly the least person Lucifer wanted to talk about.
“What are you doing here?” he called over. He wasn’t sure if the angels could enter this building at all times. Something inside him warned him that the House of Lamentation might be cursed enough to do something.
“I was looking for you actually!” Luke yelled in a high-pitched chihuahua-voice.
“Why is that?”
“Can we maybe go somewhere else to talk about this?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“A cafe! Unless you already ate!”
“I did not!” Lucifer yelled back. Thanks to Lord Diavolo, he might add but didn’t because Luke would take this the wrong way. Luke would use it as an excuse to hate demons, and while Lucifer had hated demons for most of his existence, he couldn’t allow any insults towards Diavolo.
“Cafe it is,” Luke decided and stopped in front of the gate. “Thanks for not dismissing me like the others.”
“The others,” Lucifer said as he walked up to the angel and followed him into town. Luke’s walking speed was excruciatingly slow. Even though Lucifer had asked, he already knew who had made Luke that angry. Probably because it were the people who were hanging out with Lucifer’s date right now. Solomon, Simeon and Diavolo, all in a meeting. Perhaps Barbatos had joined them too. Which meant that Lucifer was on the same level as an angry chihuahua.
He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all.
Luke was polite enough to make Lucifer choose a seat and to offer to pay for their breakfast. Everything the cafe had to offer looked sweet enough to kill him but Lucifer picked the most savory looking option he could find and moved on.
“To be honest, I expected you to join them,” Luke said after he took a huge sip of his hot chocolate. Lucifer refused to try his drink, no matter how ungrateful it seemed. This wasn’t Lord Diavolo after all, and Lucifer had standards when it came to eating.
“Well, so did I,” Lucifer said before he could stop himself.
Luke raised an eyebrow, making Lucifer once again realize that this wasn’t a child, no matter how much he acted like it.
“Anyway, I expect them to make a decision you might not like. Simeon said that Diavolo looks sad whenever they meet.”
Lucifer had never considered Luke valuable when it came to gossip but now he sat up straighter and stared right into his eyes.
“Sad,” he repeated. It felt wrong to say it. To even think it. Diavolo had called him “sweetheart”, this wasn’t what a man said who was about to stab him in the back.
On the other hand, this was exactly what Lucifer was going to do if he had to. Here was the thing, a thing he hadn’t dared to tell anyone, not even the human exchange student: He’d die for Diavolo. He meant it. He’d let the man murder him if this meant Diavolo was going to be safe. There was no way the universe could make him choose between the human and Diavolo. He was sick of making faithful choices and losing a person he loved.
This time, he was going to be the one who ended up dead. No matter if Diavolo liked this, or not.
“Yes, that’s what I said. Are you okay?”
Lucifer put on a smile that usually warned his brothers but had little to no effect on the angel. Not that Lucifer would harm an angel. He was not going to face Michael if he didn’t have to.
“What did you want to talk about?” Lucifer asked.
Luke opened his mouth, closed it again and sipped some more hot chocolate instead. It took him a few minutes until he felt brave enough to answer.
“Actually, I think they might try something bad. And I don’t say this because I hate demons, I don’t hate all of them.”
“Of course not,” Lucifer said dryly and finally dared to take a bite of his breakfast. It wasn’t good but he had to eat something.
“They’re being irresponsible,” Luke said with an expression ugly enough to make Lucifer flinch. He knew what angry angels could do and it was nothing compared to the wrath of a demon.
“And usually I know you’re with them, right? But you’re not.”
“I am honored that you put so much trust in me,” Lucifer said.
“I don’t trust you!”
Awkward silence spread out between them. Lucifer used it to try the hot chocolate. It wasn’t as bad as he had feared. In fact, he liked it enough to keep on sipping while he thought about something to say.
“Either way, I can’t help you. Diavolo doesn’t trust me.”
He almost added, “And I’m starting to think that he doesn’t even like me” but he had to push that deep down to a place where not even Asmodeus’ powers could reach them.
“So it has to be about the human,” Luke said. “Like Simeon wrote in his play, maybe one day you have to choose between-”
Lucifer’s eyes narrowed. Now it was Luke’s turn to make himself as small as possible in his chair.
“Why do I have to choose?” he asked.
“Well, because…” Luke stopped, stared down on his empty plate and blinked a few times. “I guess you don’t really have to. I never really thought about how demons can love.”
It might even be true. Luke talked about demons a lot but devoted most of the time to baking. Lucifer tried to ban the anger from his face and took a deep breath.
“You might find that this isn’t limited to demons. And this isn’t something I’d like to discuss with you.”
“Good, I don’t want to talk about it either. I can ask Simeon about it.”
“Even if you don’t have to decide, something feels wrong about them being obsessed with the human’s powers.”
Lucifer had to agree but he didn’t want to do it out loud. It felt bad talking about Diavolo like that.
“I’m sure they have a reason for it.”
“And what if it’s a bad reason?” Luke asked.
Lucifer had thought about this, too. And it worried him. Testing out powers like this, without any warning or explanation didn’t sit right with him.
“Diavolo knows what he’s doing,”
Luke groaned. “No! He does not! For once I don’t think he knows what he’s doing!”
Usually, Lucifer would kill him on the spot. But Diavolo had acted weird those last few weeks. He had never kept a secret. And even though Lucifer had kept Belphegor a secret, this had been to protect him. Diavolo had forgiven him for it, they had talked about it over three bottles of wine. In the end, Diavolo had teared up and told Lucifer that he understood that family was more important than anything else. (He had looked so lonely when he had said it, like Diavolo knew that he’d always be in second place. Lucifer hadn’t known how to explain to him that there was no second place in love for him. In the end, he hadn’t said anything.)
“Lucifer?” Luke asked.
“You’re right,” Lucifer said. His voice was so small that he was almost sure Luke didn’t hear him.
“I know I’m right,” the angel hissed. “And no matter how much you love Diavolo, I think it's time for you to do what's right.”
“Lord Diavolo,” Lucifer corrected the angel, mostly because he didn't want to think of a reply. Because there was nothing he could say to make up for the stinging feeling in his stomach. The feeling that Luke was right.