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Believer

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Chloe Decker knows Lucifer Morningstar better than most people do.

That’s not saying much, considering he keeps pretty much everyone at arm’s length. Even as Lucifer’s partner—in more ways than one, given recent events—there are still a million things Chloe doesn’t know. 

She knows him, though. She knows his brand of cigarettes and his brand of shoes and how much he abhors wrinkled clothing. She knows better than to steal a sip of his coffee because all she’ll get is a mouthful of coffee-tinged whiskey. She knows that despite his colorful array of nicknames for her daughter, he’s actually very fond of Trixie. She knows that although he prefers to call it punishment, he cares about justice and fairness just as much as she does. She also knows that he cares very, very deeply about what she thinks of him. 

If someone who didn’t know him asked her to describe him, there are plenty of descriptors she could use. Most of them would be contradictions. He’s smart, but also stunningly clueless. He’s friendly but aloof. Affectionate but distant. Observant but oblivious. Casually kind and casually cruel, often in the same breath. 

Dan was right when he muttered Guy’s a freaking enigma. 

If she had to settle on two words, though, she knows which ones she’d pick. The first is proud. No one is as proud as Lucifer. It often gets him into trouble, and it often infuriates her, but there’s something magnetic about how sure he is of himself. It makes her want to be sure of herself, too. 

The second is that he’s impulsive. He just...he doesn’t think . The moment an impulse throbs in his chest, he chases it—no questions asked. He says what he wants and he does what he wants, regardless of how it might impact the people around him.

When they first started working together, Chloe hated his impulsivity. It made her job harder, and it pushed her out of her comfort zone, and it transformed her carefully ordered life into something messy and unpredictable. 

If she’s honest with herself, though, she knows there was a part of her that was just jealous. She envied his freedom. She didn’t know what it was like to get an idea in her head and act on it, consequences be damned, but it seemed...exhilarating. Sometimes, on nights when she felt restless but didn’t know why, she wondered if she would be happier if she was more like her partner. 

But then she saw the dark side of his impulsivity. She experienced the devastation that his thoughtlessness could leave in his wake, and it hurt. It hurt to sit in that restaurant at an empty table, pretending she didn’t see the waitress shooting her looks of pity when Lucifer stood her up. It hurt to get her hopes up that they would finally talk about what was going on between them, only to get ghosted and then subjected to Mrs. Candy Fucking Morningstar. 

After Lucifer went back to Hell—after she begged him not to go and told him she loved him and he still left her anyway—there was a brief period where she hit rock bottom. It seemed like her life since she’d met him had been nothing but one giant loop of putting herself out there and getting rejected. Confessing her feelings and hearing goodbye in response was the worst rejection yet, and she couldn’t deal with his decision making anymore. She couldn’t keep caring about someone who didn’t care enough about her to think before he acted. It just...it hurt too much. 

She realized, eventually, that she was wrong. His return to Hell wasn’t selfish or impulsive. It was the opposite. It was noble. Sacrificial. He did it for her, and for their family and friends, and it made her love him even more. 

But even though she understood his decision—admired it, even—she still felt abandoned. Even though he told her that he spent thousands of years in Hell dreaming about their reunion, she wondered whether part of him was relieved to have an excuse to be away from her after her declaration. And even when she was finally, finally naked in his bed, and his hands were like fire on her skin as he breathed her name like a prayer, there was still a small, quiet voice in the back of her mind whispering He’s going to leave you again. 

That’s exactly what she’s thinking in the evidence room after the Michael fiasco. 

She’s trying not to cry. Really, she is. But her throat is too tight, and it feels like her sternum is cracking from the force of everything building in her chest, and she can’t help it. 

“So just tell me,” she says, voice wavering. “Is that...why you haven’t said it back?”

Lucifer looks incredulous. “Haven’t said what back?”

That’s when she realizes she was wrong. She thought the worst thing he could possibly tell her was yes, you’re right, I haven’t said it back because I don’t lie and I don’t love you. But this is worse. He doesn’t even know what she’s talking about. She spent every day he was gone replaying her confession and his last words over and over again, certain that if she could just get him back then he’d say the words to her. But here he is, back and supposedly hers, and he doesn’t even remember.  

She can’t look at him anymore. She drops her gaze. Her eyes are warm, and then they’re wet. Lucifer exhales a soft, “Oh,” and Chloe’s heart starts to break in her chest. 

She forces herself to glance up at him, hoping she’ll see something encouraging in his expression, but she doesn’t. He seems to be at a loss for words, and the cracks in her heart start to deepen. Lucifer is never at a loss for words. 

He doesn’t love her, does he?

He doesn’t love her.

“Detective, it’s...it’s complicated,” he murmurs.

“Right,” she says, hoping that she can pretend to be fine long enough to get the hell out of here and compose herself somewhere that he’s not. It’s bad enough he doesn’t love her. Falling apart in front of him because he doesn’t feel the same way she does is a humiliation she can’t bear. 

But he sees right through her. Suddenly he’s rambling, and he sounds increasingly desperate, and she just keeps saying right like some kind of broken record until—

“Chloe.”

She snaps her gaze back up to his. She knows what it means for him to call her by her first name. Hope flutters in her chest. 

“I…” he starts. 

Oh my god, she thinks, her whole body going still. He’s going to say it. He’s…

Gone. 

He’s gone. 

Wait, what?

Chloe blinks at the empty space in front of her where, just a second ago, Lucifer stood. Except he’s not there anymore. There’s no trace of him except the faint scent of his cologne. The room is dead silent. She’s alone.

Why is she alone?

“...Lucifer?” she murmurs.

No response.

She frowns. She turns around, but he’s not behind her. He’s not anywhere. She walks the rows of evidence just to be sure, sweeping her gaze over every inch of the room, but he’s nowhere to be found. He just...disappeared.

“Lucifer,” she calls again, her voice louder this time. If he’s playing a trick on her, she’s going to strangle him. 

But he wouldn’t do that. She knows that. If he’s gone it’s because something happened. Probably something celestial. 

Or because he’s running from her. 

Again.

For a moment, she feels like she’s right back in his penthouse, staring at all his furniture covered in sheets. 

Gone, a voice whispers in the back of her mind. It repeats and starts to crescendo. Gone gone gone—

“No,” she says aloud. Her voice cracks on the word, but the whispers in her head stop. She casts one last glance around the evidence room, and then heads for the door. 

When she swings it open and steps out into the bullpen, she finds chaos. There’s a crowd of cops in the distance by the conference room. She scans the area, looking for Lucifer, but doesn’t see him. She hurries in the direction of the crowd, wondering if they’re huddled around her partner, but when she pushes through to the front all she finds is that one of the conference room walls has been shattered and there’s glass everywhere. 

“Chloe,” a voice calls. 

Chloe looks up and sees Linda on the other side of the broken glass, holding a crying Charlie in her arms. She looks concerned, and Chloe has a feeling it’s not just because Charlie is upset. 

No one in the huddle of cops is doing anything except staring at Linda and staring at the broken glass and murmuring shit like What the hell happened? so Chloe takes charge.

“Robbins,” she says, grabbing the nearest uniform. “Call maintenance.”

“Yes ma’am,” he says with a nod.

“Want me to call the lieutenant, Decker?” Cacuzza asks. 

“She’s in a meeting with city brass,” someone says from the crowd.

“Call her anyway,” Chloe says to Cacuzza. “She doesn’t like to be the last to know stuff.”

Cacuzza snorts in agreement and lifts her phone to her ear. Chloe steps carefully through the broken glass and into the conference room. She scans Linda’s body for injuries out of habit.

“Are you all right?”

“We’re fine,” Linda says, waving off her concern. 

“What happened?” 

“I have no idea.” Linda shifts Charlie in her arms and then slips a pacifier into his mouth. He stops crying immediately. “One minute Amenadiel and I were in here talking, and the next thing I know he’s—”

“Gone,” Chloe finishes in unison with her. She glances around the room. “Lucifer too. It’s like he disappeared out of thin air.”

“I don’t understand,” Linda says. “Where’d they go?”

“No clue.”

“Has this ever happened before with you two?”

“No.” Chloe frowns as a memory surfaces. “Well, sort of.”

Linda sets Charlie back in his stroller. “What do you mean sort of?”

“I mean there’s been a few times when I blinked and all of a sudden Lucifer wasn’t where I left him. But he was never gone. He was just...somewhere else close by.” She leans toward Linda and lowers her voice. “Did you know Amenadiel can—”

“Slow time?” Linda finishes quietly as she straightens. “Yes, but he’s had trouble doing it lately.” She shakes her head with a frown. “Even if he figured out how to do it again, why would he?”

“I don’t know,” Chloe says with a sigh. “But his timing sucks.”

One of Linda’s eyebrows lifts. “Oh? And why is that?”

Chloe purses her lips and considers whether or not to share. Lucifer and Amenadiel appear to be missing, and there’s shattered glass all over the floor, and a crowd of her colleagues are feet away. It’s probably not the ideal time to ask Linda if she thinks Lucifer is freaked out by the seriousness of their relationship. But if Lucifer is dealing with celestial shit, then there’s nothing either Chloe or Linda can do until he shows up again. She might as well take advantage of the moment.

“Lucifer and I were talking,” she says.

Linda’s eyebrow lifts higher. “About?”

“About the thing he hasn’t said.” 

Linda looks puzzled. “The thing he hasn’t said,” she repeats slowly. 

Chloe glances over her shoulder, and then steps closer so she can lower her voice even more. “You know, the thing. The thing I said before he went back to...well, before he went down south.”

“Ohhh,” Linda says, recognition dawning on her face. “Right. That thing.” And then her eyes widen. “Did he say it back?”

“No. I mean, I think he was going to? He said it was complicated. Then he said I do. Of course I do. But that’s, like, not the same thing.” She frowns. “Right?”

“Not the same thing,” Linda confirms, shaking her head. 

“I thought so,” Chloe sighs. “But then he said my name.”

“Oh,” Linda says, her voice lifting. A smile spreads over her lips. “That’s a good sign.”

“Right?” Chloe says, relieved that she’s not the only one who thinks so. “But then he disappeared, and now he’s nowhere to be found.” Fear flickers in her chest, familiar and uncomfortable. “You don’t think he had Amenadiel freeze time so he could get away from me, do you?”

“No,” Linda says. “Lucifer from a year ago, maybe. But Lucifer now? After spending thousands of years in Hell pining over you? I seriously doubt it.”

Warmth floods through Chloe’s veins. “He said he was pining over me?”

Linda smiles. “Not in those exact words, no. But that was the impression I got.”

An image of Lucifer sitting on a giant black throne, surrounded by flames and staring longingly down at a photo of her, suddenly floats across Chloe’s mind. She presses her lips together so she won’t smile. 

“Chloe,” Linda says gently in her therapist voice. “Can I give you some advice?”

“Yes, please,” Chloe says with a bit of a laugh. “I need all the help I can get.”

Linda folds her hands in front of her the same way she would if she were sitting in the chair in her office. “If Lucifer is having a hard time saying the words back to you, it might not be about you or your relationship. In fact, I’m almost certain that it has nothing to do with the way he feels about you.”

Chloe frowns. “Then what’s it about?”

“Well, it’s complicated.” 

Chloe gives her a look.

“I know,” Linda says with a laugh. “But I don’t think Lucifer was feeding you a line. I think he was just being honest with you. For someone like him, those words are very loaded.”

“You mean because he’s never been in a serious relationship before?”

“Well, there’s that,” Linda says. “But it’s also more than that. We develop our understanding of love through formative relationships with family members. Take your daughter, for instance. She’s got two affectionate, attentive parents, so it’s easy for her to express love to other people. She’s had it modeled for her. Compare that with someone like Maze, who didn’t have parents like you and Dan, and you get the opposite.”

“But Maze is a demon.”

“And Lucifer is the Devil,” Linda counters. “Amenadiel is one of the few siblings he has a good relationship with, and that’s a pretty recent development. Things between him and his mother weren’t healthy. And his father isn’t exactly...”

Chloe frowns when Linda trails off. “Isn’t exactly what?” 

“Let’s put a pin in this,” Linda says quietly, glancing past Chloe toward the bullpen.

“But—”

“Detective,” Lucifer calls.

Chloe’s heart skips a beat at the sound of his voice. She turns toward him. He’s struggling through the crowd of cops on the other side of the broken glass.

“Yes, excuse me, please,” he says. “Devil coming through. I’ve very important things to discuss with my partner, far more important than whatever it is you’re discussing. My goodness, Officer Banks, there’s no need to take up so much space. Excuse me.”

He finally gets through the crowd, takes a giant step over the broken glass, and comes to a stop in front of them. 

“Well I’ve been looking all over for you, Detective,” he says, a hint of exasperation creeping into his voice. His eyes flicker over her like he’s checking for injuries the same way she just did to Linda. “Why didn’t you stay where I left you? You had me worried.”

Chloe frowns. “I had you worried?”

“Well, obviously,” he says as if she’s just asked him whether the sky is blue and grass is green.

Chloe points a finger at him. “You’re the one who disappeared out of thin air, Lucifer.”

Lucifer blinks at her for a second. “Right,” he says, smoothing a hand absently over his torso. “I’m sure you’re very confused. Might we...” He glances over his shoulder at the crowd of cops and then leans toward her. “Might we have this conversation in private?”

Irritation flares unexpectedly in Chloe’s chest. “We already were."

Lucifer furrows his eyebrows. “You’re angry with me,” he observes quietly. He searches her eyes like he’s confused but trying to understand, and then his entire body seems to deflate. “Of course. I...I ran out on our conversation and you...well, of course you’re angry.”

He looks like a kicked puppy. Chloe feels immediately guilty. 

“No,” she says, shaking her head. “No, I just…” She doesn’t know what she is, so she doesn’t finish her sentence. Linda is glancing back and forth between them with a clear look of interest on her face, and the crowd by the broken glass doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, so Chloe gestures toward the bullpen. “Yeah, we can speak privately.” 

Lucifer perks up immediately. “Wonderful.”

Chloe casts a glance at Linda. “Will you be okay?”

“Of course,” Linda replies. 

“Not to worry, Amenadiel will be along shortly,” Lucifer says. “The good doctor will be just fine until then.” He slides his hand along the small of Chloe’s back and tries to lead her from the room, but Chloe plants her feet. Lucifer frowns at her.

“Can we finish this conversation later?” she asks Linda.

Linda smiles. “Of course. Anytime you want to grab a drink, I’m there.”

Chloe thinks of their first ever girls night and smiles. She reaches out and squeezes the doctor’s arm. Linda covers her hand and squeezes back.

“Did I miss something?” Lucifer asks, glancing between them.

“No,” Chloe and Linda say in unison with matching smiles.

Chloe turns on her heel and steps carefully over the glass again. Lucifer follows. He falls in step next to her once they get through the crowd of cops, and latches onto her elbow like he’s afraid she’ll run from him if he doesn’t hang on. 

Halfway to the evidence room Chloe realizes his eyes are sweeping the bullpen the way hers do when she’s looking for an armed suspect. His back is ramrod straight. He seems on edge.

“Are you okay?” she murmurs.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” he says dismissively. But he doesn’t look fine.

She swallows a follow up question and waits until they’re back in the evidence room. As Lucifer shuts the door behind him, she feels a wave of deja vu. 

“Right,” Lucifer says, turning to face her. “Here we are.” He flashes her a smile. “Again. Sorry about that.”

“About which part?” she asks, folding her arms. “Disappearing into thin air in the middle of our conversation, or breaking the conference room glass?”

The corner of his mouth twitches upward. “And how do you know I was the one who broke the glass?”

“Well were you?”

His mouth twitches again. “Perhaps.”

Chloe throws up her hands.

“I was forced,” he says, fiddling with one of his cufflinks. “It wasn’t my fault, I assure you. The department can take it out of Maze’s next check if they’re so inclined.”

Chloe frowns. “Maze? Maze pushed you through the glass?”

“Well technically she kicked me, but yes.” Lucifer suddenly looks like he just sucked on a very sour lemon. “It seems she’s taken up with Michael.”

What? ” Chloe demands.

“He promised her a soul,” Lucifer says, waving his hand as if that’s a totally normal thing to say. “Which is just absurd. Really, she should know better. It’s impossible.” He tilts his head thoughtfully. “I suppose Dad could do it. Part of his all-powerful schtick. But he’s bloody well not going to do it for sniveling, psychotic Michael. For Amenadiel, maybe. Gabriel. Perhaps Raphael, if one assumes lacking a soul is an illness, but even then—”

“Okay,” Chloe cuts him off, holding up a hand. “Before we go through what I’m sure is a very long list of your siblings, can you maybe tell me what the hell is going on?”

“Of course,” Lucifer says, bowing his head. “My apologies.” He steps closer to her. “It appears you were right to be concerned about my brother’s master plan. Michael is to blame for Charlie’s cold. He worked Amenadiel into a lather over Charlie being fully human rather than half angel, and Amenadiel’s distress caused him to stop time entirely.”

“I thought he slowed time.”

“He does. Well, he did. He’s been a bit impotent as of late.” Lucifer grins like the Cheshire cat. “Performance issues are not something I struggle with, Detective, I can assure you. Just in case there was any question.”

Chloe thinks it wise not to mention that not so long ago, he couldn’t use his mojo just like Amenadiel couldn’t slow time. She doesn’t imagine pointing out impotence of any sort is something Lucifer would appreciate. 

“Right,” she says instead. “So he stopped time, and…?”

“And you froze mid-conversation.”

“I froze?”

“Yes. All you humans did. I left you here in search of Amenadiel so that he could unfreeze time and we could continue our very important conversation, but we were interrupted by my idiot brother and my idiot demon, who should perhaps consider changing her name to Benedict Maze. Maze-dict, if you will.” Lucifer grins. “Rather apt, seeing as she’s behaving a bit dickishly, don’t you think?”

Chloe blinks at him. “Maze betrayed you, and you’re making jokes?”

Lucifer’s grin fades. “Well it wouldn’t be the first time she’s switched sides on me, Detective. I’m certain it won’t be the last.”

“You mean in Hell.”

“No, I mean in Los Angeles. She’s betrayed me multiple times since you and I met.”

Chloe stares at him. “She has?

“She’s a demon, Detective. It’s what she does. Who she is.”

Chloe frowns. There’s a thought forming in the back of her mind, a desire to point out that maybe Maze keeps acting this way because that’s how he expects her to act, but now’s not the time to open that can of worms. They still haven’t sorted through the first can. 

“So you and Amenadiel fought Maze and Michael,” she guesses.

“Indeed,” Lucifer confirms. 

“And you...won?”

“Well I’m certain we would have prevailed if my father hadn’t shown up.”

Chloe’s mouth falls open. “Your what?

“My father. He appeared on the stairs in a blaze of glory. Very cliche, if you ask me, but he’s always been rather fond of making a grand entrance. Although you’d think for his first appearance on earth in eons he’d have chosen something better to wear than that horrible knitted monstrosity. He looked like he wandered out of an old folks’ home.”

Chloe’s ears are ringing. “Your dad was here?

Lucifer frowns at her. “Yes, I’ve just said that.”

“Like, here? In this precinct? On our stairs?”

Lucifer’s frown deepens. “Are you certain you didn’t suffer a concussion whilst in captivity?” He lifts his hands to either side of her face and squints. “I remember a paramedic at one of my particularly raucous parties mentioning something about pupils…”

“Lucifer,” Chloe says, brushing his hands away from her face. “Stop. I don’t have a concussion.”

“Well you’re repeating things like a drunkard.”

“I’m not drunk,” she says, her exasperation building. “I’m human and you’re telling me that God himself was just in the middle of my precinct and it’s...it’s a lot to take in, okay?”

“All right,” Lucifer says. He straightens his jacket absently. “But I don’t think you’d feel this way if you’d seen him in that horrid cardigan.”

Chloe stares at him for a moment, and then she can’t help it. She snorts out a laugh. Of course Lucifer is concerned about the cardigan. Of course he is.

Lucifer looks pleased by her amusement. He always does.

“Okay,” Chloe says, brushing her hair behind her ear. “So your dad...appeared. Did he say why?”

“Well he wasn’t thrilled we were fighting.”

Chloe frowns. “But you’ve fought with your siblings before.”

“Thousands of times.”

“And he’s never stepped in before?”

“No,” Lucifer scoffs. “He doesn’t deign to be involved in such trivial matters as the lives of his children. Absentee father in chief, remember?”

“Right,” Chloe says. “So why now?”

For the first time since they started this conversation, Lucifer looks uncomfortable. He rolls his shoulders, and shifts his weight from one foot to the other. He lifts a hand to stroke absently over his vest, and then he starts to fiddle with one of his cufflinks again. His brow is furrowed. He looks...apprehensive.

Lucifer never looks apprehensive. 

Chloe steps toward him. “Lucifer?”

He meets her gaze. “It seems he has an announcement to make.”

“An announcement,” Chloe repeats. As soon as she says it, she expects him to say something obnoxious about how she’s repeating things again. But he doesn’t. 

“Yes,” he says instead. He flickers his gaze over her face, his eyebrows still furrowed, and then he murmurs, “He’d like to break bread tomorrow evening.”

“He...what?”

“Break bread. It’s his insufferably superior way of asking us to share a meal.”

“So your dad...wants to have a family dinner so he can make an announcement?” 

“Yes,” Lucifer says with a grimace. “That is correct.”

Chloe stares at him. She’s not sure what to say to that, so she says the first thing that comes to mind. “Wow.”

“That’s one way to put it,” Lucifer mutters.

Chloe glances up at him, and the expression on his face sends a wave of sympathy crashing over her. She has never thought that Lucifer and Trixie were anything alike. But looking at him now, while he stares off into the distance with a bewildered expression on his face, she can’t help but think of the moment when she and Dan told Trixie they were going to separate. It’s not so much the confusion, though there’s that too. It’s more that Lucifer looks...well, he looks like a little kid. Unsure and maybe even scared. Like he needs a hug. 

The impulse to hug him throbs in her chest. She leans toward him, but second guesses herself and stops. Maybe he doesn’t want a hug. His inability to say those three words back to her not so long ago is still heavy in the air, and she doesn’t think she can handle another rejection right now. So she reaches out and puts her hand on his arm instead. She knows he won’t mind that.

His fingers, which were rubbing over his cufflink, go still. He lifts his gaze to hers.

“Are you okay?” she asks. 

He scoffs. “I’m—”

“Lucifer,” she cuts him off gently. She doesn’t say anything else, but she doesn’t think she needs to.

He swallows, and then nods as if he understands what she’s saying even though she didn’t say it. He covers her hand with his. “I’m not sure how I feel,” he confesses quietly.

“That’s okay,” Chloe says, squeezing his arm. “You don’t have to have any answers. I’m sure it’s a lot to take in.”

His eyebrows furrow again, but there’s a different expression on his face now. It’s more like...wonder. Awe, even. 

“What?” she asks. 

He smiles. “I find your presence very soothing. It...well, it makes everything quieter.”

Chloe opens her mouth, but no words come out. She’s not even sure what words she wanted to come out. What is she even supposed to say to that? It’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to her. 

She swallows around a sudden tightness in her throat. “I’m glad.”

His thumb strokes over her knuckles. “As am I.”

Chloe gazes at him. The way he looks at her. Like he’s found water in the desert. I love you is right on the tip of her tongue, but she swallows it.

“So are you going to go?” she asks, pulling her hand back.

“I’m afraid I don’t have much of a choice,” he sighs. “But rest assured, Detective, I didn’t make the decision for both of us. It is completely up to you whether you’d like to join me.”

Chloe stares at him. Her ears are ringing again. “What?”

“You have a choice,” Lucifer clarifies. “You needn’t come if you don’t want to.”

“Wait,” Chloe says, holding up her hand. “Are you...are you saying I’m invited? To the celestial family dinner?”

“Indeed.” 

For a second, Chloe’s certain that her brain is going to explode. She feels like one of those toys Trixie loved when she was a baby, the ones that started to stutter and repeat the same sound over and over again when they were getting low on batteries. Except instead of an annoying song about five little monkeys jumping on the bed, all she can say is, “What?”

“Linda will be there, of course,” Lucifer says. “So you wouldn’t be the only mortal, should you choose to come.”

“Linda?”

“Well she is the mother of Amenadiel’s child, after all. Dad acted as if including her was a purely magnanimous gesture, but I think we all know he’s just curious about the mother of his first grandson and the woman who caught the eye of his favorite son.”

“Is that why I’m invited?” Chloe croaks. “Because I caught your eye?”

“Well you certainly caught someone’s eye,” Lucifer mutters grumpily. “Michael couldn’t wait to suggest I bring my better half. I tried to point out that you’re very busy being one of L.A.’s finest—” He pauses and grins and darts his eyes over her body. “And I do mean finest in every sense of the word.” 

Chloe can’t bring herself to smile. Lucifer doesn’t seem to notice. 

“But Michael was insistent and Dad was—”

“Wait,” Chloe cuts him off. “Are you saying Michael is the one who invited me to family dinner? Not you?”

“Well I didn’t think you’d be interested in passing the potatoes to the monster who recently kidnapped you, so no. It wasn’t my idea.”

“Right,” Chloe says. “That...that makes sense.” And it does. But also...Lucifer wasn’t going to invite her to family dinner? She’s only invited because his brother wants her there?

“We’ll be in Linda’s home,” Lucifer says, oblivious to her thoughts. “Familiar territory for you, which I remember you saying was helpful when dealing with dangerous individuals.”

Chloe nods. She has said that during cases. But this isn’t a cartel or a crazed serial killer. This is God and angels and...holy shit. She’s been invited to family dinner with the creator of the universe and his winged sons.

Lucifer is still talking. 

“I won’t let you out of my sight. Michael wouldn’t dare harm you while Dad is present. Sniveling coward,” he adds, almost as if he couldn’t resist. “But Amenadiel and I will be there to protect you as well. You’ll be perfectly safe, you have my word.”

Chloe nods but can’t seem to formulate a response. She can’t...she can’t keep up with this conversation. It’s too surreal.

“Detective?” Lucifer calls. “Did you hear me?”

“Yeah,” Chloe says. “Yeah, just...just processing.”

Lucifer puts his hands on her shoulders and bends forward so that they’re eye level. She finally looks up at him, and he holds her gaze earnestly. “You don’t have to do this,” he says gently.

She shakes her head. “You said we don’t have a choice.”

“I said I don’t have a choice. You have a choice. I made sure of it. I told Dad I’d ask you, but I made it clear that if you refuse then he’ll just have to get over it.”

Chloe blinks at him. “You told God he’d have to get over it?

“Well of course,” Lucifer says impatiently. “You are your own person, regardless of his hand in your creation, and I will not stand by and allow him to force you to do things you’re uncomfortable with. He might orchestrate the context around you but he does not get to control how you react to it. That’s the whole bloody point of free will.”

He says it with such fervor that warmth unfurls in Chloe’s chest. He wanted to give her a choice. After all her angst about not having the free will to fall in love with him, he wanted to make sure she could choose to go to his family dinner.

She reaches for him, curling her fingers into the edges of his jacket and stepping more fully into his space. He looks confused by her sudden proximity. 

“Detective?”

“I’ll go,” she says, tipping her head back to look at him. “If you’re there, I’m there.”

Relief blossoms across his face. “Really?” he says softly. But before she can say anything, he frowns. “Are you sure? I have no desire to force your hand. I don’t want you to feel obligated.”

“I don’t.”

He seems unconvinced. “My family is not like yours, Detective. Or any family, really. We’re rather unique.”

“You think?” she says dryly.

He smiles a little, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. 

“We’re partners,” she reminds him, tugging on his jacket. “Where you go, I go. Even if you’re going to the world’s weirdest family dinner with your angsty angel brothers and your distant dad.”

“Why Detective Decker,” Lucifer says, a genuine smile finally spreading over his lips. “I had no idea you had such a knack for alliteration.”

“I’m a woman of many talents.”

“That you are,” he says, brushing his hand over her face. 

For a moment, neither of them say anything. He’s watching his thumb trace over her cheek like he’s trying to convince himself that she’s not a figment of his imagination, and she’s content to just be close to him and stand in a rare moment of silence. He smells good. He always smells good. She doesn’t know what the scent is. She’s never asked. She just knows she likes it. 

“About earlier,” he starts softly. “Before you were frozen.”

Her heart flips in her chest. She very desperately wants to know what he’s about to say, but Linda’s voice is ringing in her ears. 

For someone like him, those words are very loaded. It has nothing to do with the way he feels about you.

He takes a deep breath. “Detective, I—”

“Don’t,” she interrupts.

Lucifer lifts his eyebrows in surprise. 

“You’re not the only one who has no desire to force anyone,” she tells him. “You’ve got enough on your plate right now with your dad and Michael and dinner. Let’s just deal with that first, and then we can talk, okay?”

He searches her gaze like he’s trying to decide if she’s lying to him. “That’s what you desire?”  

She wonders if he wishes he could use his mojo on her right now. She doesn’t ask. 

“I want to give you what you need,” she says. “You were patient with me when I was dealing with the whole gift-from-God thing. Now it’s my turn. Give and take, remember?”

“Right,” he says. “Give and take.” He ducks his head toward her, and a sly smile spreads over his lips. “Speaking of, could I interest you in a little give and take back at the penthouse? Dinner isn’t until tomorrow evening so we’ve got plenty of time.”

Chloe smiles. “That is very tempting, but I haven’t seen Trix since...you know. I asked Dan if I could have her tonight.”

“Ah, yes. Of course. Well, I’ll pick you up at six thirty tomorrow then?”

Chloe smiles and rises to her toes to kiss him briefly on the lips. 

“It’s a date.”