Actions

Work Header

UnDeserving

Chapter Text

Somewhere in Arizona

The sun was slowly setting outside. He could feel the last shafts of light falling on this deserted part of the world, though the world didn't care. He didn't care... He sipped the rest of his – what... fifth, sixth drink and watched the very mediocre lady swirl around the pole like she was dancing just for him. And she probably was. He was an anomaly in this very mediocre bar in this very mediocre town with its mediocre dancing lady. His own second-rate Salome. Wanting nothing from him but his money. How simple. How... human. Funny how the instinct of survival had changed over the millennia from gathering food to gathering money. He knew he couldn't let his dancer starve and tucked more money into her bra as she leaned closer to him.

The bar was almost empty, which wasn’t surprising since the alcohol sucked and the service was almost nonexistent. There were three men, probably workers, watching the dancing woman, grumbling from time to time about the girl performing just for the one guest. There were several couples, not paying attention to the dancer or anyone else, really. And then there was the woman sitting in a corner, watching nothing but him the whole time. She was quite intriguing with her short raven black hair, olive skin and captivating features that looked of Persian origin. There was something very sinister about her though, and her eyes were serious and much too sad for someone so young. Late twenties, clothed very practically in blue jeans and a black t-shirt, not a woman on the prowl. Yet he knew he could have her if he just looked her way. But he didn't want her. He hadn't been in the mood for that kind of fun lately.

He saw the three workers rise and head toward him. He'd been counting the minutes until the inevitable... by monopolizing the dancer he had been ruining their fun, sadly gaining none for himself. They stood tall around his table, trying but failing to look menacing with their heavyset bodies, greasy hair, filthy beards and smelly shirts. Really, what was it with some males and their need to imitate pigs?

“You know, gentlemen,” Lucifer drawled, “if you just paid a little more attention to your hygiene, you could find your own women. And maybe you wouldn't even have to pay for them.”

“Look at that, Gary,” the man closest to him said, revealing yellow teeth, “Prince Charles has come to give us a speech about our toilet,” he said, mocking the last word.

Lucifer snorted. “How original... I haven't heard that one before. So what’s it going to be? Broken noses, knocked out teeth or dislocated shoulders, perhaps?”

“Come on! The chick isn’t worth the pain,” Gary said menacingly.

“Then you’d better walk away while you still have the chance and all your teeth.” Lucifer smiled, but his eyes were hard. Gary took a step closer, towering over Lucifer. But Lucifer remained sitting at the table, completely unfazed. What could they do to him? It wasn't like the detective was anywhere near... And even if she were, a little physical pain wouldn't bother him much. On the contrary, it would probably make him feel better. At least he could forget about the hollowness in his chest where his heart used to be.

It was a bit disconcerting that nobody was paying them any attention. The girl kept dancing, the couples kept drinking... like this was so very normal here... “Alright,” Lucifer sighed. “Do what you must.” Gary looked at the man on his right, probably asking the leader for permission, and made a fist. He was about to hit Lucifer square in the nose but was stopped by a mellow voice.

“Come on, guys. Let him be.” Lucifer looked up to see the raven-haired woman from the corner standing next to the thug. “It's his birthday today, he deserves a little fun,” she said, pointing at the dancer.

“He's had a lot of fun already,” the ringleader said.

“Yeah, yeah, you're right,” the woman agreed and reached for Lucifer. “We better go now, birthday boy.” Lucifer watched with amusement as she took him by the forearm and dragged him to his feet with some difficulty. He let her lead him to her corner where she retrieved her duffle bag. “Come on, Your Highness, it's time to go,” she said and led him outside, where the sunlight was fading rapidly.

“You have someplace to stay?” she asked.

Lucifer smiled. “You think that that small act of heroism can get you in my bed? I'm not that easy, honey. Not these days, anyway.”

The woman snorted. “I'm not interested in your bed. Or you,” she added icily just to be clear. Strange; she looked at him like she really wanted the exact opposite, yet Lucifer had the feeling she wasn't lying to him. It was like her body wanted one thing and her mind another...

“So you just interfered out of the goodness of your heart?”

“Something like that, yeah.”

“And they say chivalry is dead,” Lucifer joked. But she didn't react. She was like a statue, devoid of all emotions. Weird that a person like her would care about anything, let alone a stranger.

“So do you have a place to stay?” she asked again.

“Nope. Just passing through this city of wonders.” That made her smile a bit. Finally!

“So you have a car?”

Lucifer pointed at his beloved Corvette.

“Nice. You can give me a ride.” It wasn't a question.

“Why would I do that?”

“I saved your pretty face.”

If she only knew. “No, you didn't. What you saved were the ugly faces of those imbeciles.”

The woman hesitated for a moment. “I did save your suit. And it looks expensive.”

Lucifer sighed. He wasn't really interested in a companion on his way from nowhere to anywhere. But her hopeful look was tugging at his heart. And he did owe her for his suit... “Alright. Where are you going?”

She shrugged. “Out of here.”

“Can't really blame you. Hop in then. No time to waste.”

She got in the car just as the last rays of the sun touched the ground and they started east, far from this Godforsaken town.

“What's your name, love?”

“Vanessa. What's yours?”

“Lucifer.” He glanced at her, wondering if she would want to get out if he told her his second name. He was willing to try. Maybe he would get rid of her. “Morningstar.”

“Wow... so, you're like the lord of Hell?” Not the reaction he had been anticipating.

“I used to be. I'm retired now.” That made her look at him doubtfully.

“Why?”

“Why?” Lucifer repeated incredulously. “Have you ever been to Hell?”

“Can't say I have. But I plan to make the trip in the future,” she answered with such a sureness that made Lucifer chuckle.

“To answer your question, Vanessa, I got tired of it. I got tired of playing Dad's game.” And he thought he had stopped when he left Hell behind. Oh, how wrong he had been.

“Dad's game?” she repeated, probably not comprehending.

“Oh, yes, you call it 'God's plan'.”

“I see.”

“No, you really don't. It's just... suffocating. You know, you think you’re doing what He wants but what you get is punished. You do what you think is best and guess what – you get punished for that too. There's really nothing you can do to please Him.”

“You tried to please Him?” she asked, looking skeptical, yet captivated. That was strange – people usually looked scared or pitying, thinking him a lunatic by this stage.

“I did,” Lucifer admitted, not knowing why he was telling her the truth. He wouldn't see her ever again after he dropped her off – so why bother to tell her at all? But he couldn't stop himself. Maybe because she was the first person to whom he had said more than two words since he had left L.A. “A very long time ago I... did something that made Him angry. I thought if I behaved, complied with His wishes that He would forgive me eventually. But He didn't. It only got worse.”

“Yeah, I had some issues with my dad too,” she said softly and looked away, gazing into the darkness as they sped along the highway.

“Had?”

“He's dead now.”

“I'm sorry,” Lucifer said, meaning it. Even a messed up family was still a family.

“I'm not. He got what he deserved.”

“A horrible disease? Radiation poisoning, perhaps?”

“No, I killed him,” she answered plainly, without any emotion behind the words.

Lucifer glanced at her again. “Well, since I'm retired, it's not upon me to judge you. And I must say, you seem amazingly unbothered by the fact that I'm the Devil...”

Vanessa shrugged. “I've seen a lot of things in my life. And you're far from the scariest of them. I mean what can you do to me? Kill me? Roast my soul if I even have one? Well, be my guest. I don't really care.” That statement was more disturbing than Lucifer was willing to admit.

“You seem awfully cynical for someone so young.” He supposed it had something to do with her father... parents were such a liability.

“Optimism brought me nothing but headaches,” she said and Lucifer flinched. He knew that one only too well.

“Right,” he sighed and turned on the radio. He didn't want to continue this hellishly awkward conversation.

They arrived at another smallish settlement in the middle of the desert and Lucifer parked his car in front of a motel on the outskirts of town.

“Why are we stopping?” Vanessa asked, looking around the empty parking lot.

“I need to sleep. I haven't been doing much of it lately.”

“Why not?”

He sighed heavily. Why did she have to ask so many questions? “Because it... hurts.”

Vanessa lifted her eyebrows. “Who did you hurt?”

“What?”

“When you close your eyes you see the faces of those you hurt, don't you?”

Damn her piercing eyes and mind! “It's none of your business,” he snapped and got out of the car.

“Sorry,” she muttered, not sounding very sincere. She made no move to get out of the car.

“Are you coming?” Lucifer asked.

“I don't have money for the motel. I'll just sleep here... that is if you don't mind.”

“You can sleep with me,” he offered unthinkingly.

Vanessa's eyes grew round. Lucifer saw a flicker of fear in them, quickly replaced by anger. If he weren't an angel, Lucifer doubted he would have even noticed the first emotion. Well, an emotion at last!

“As I said before, I'm not interested in you,” she hissed.

“And as I said before, don’t get your hopes up. What I meant was that I'll pay for your own room. Just returning the favor - you did save my suit after all. And trust me, it’s much more expensive than a one-night stay in this shabby old Dadforsaken hellhole.”

She nodded and stepped out of the car, taking her meagre baggage with her.

As promised, Lucifer rented one room for him and one for her. It was no Hilton to be sure, but it looked clean enough to scare the cockroaches away at least. He took off his suit jacket and lay down on the bed as he was. He was so tired. He hadn't slept for two days now... or was it three? He really didn't know. He didn't even know what day it was or how long it’d been since he had left L.A. It seemed like an eternity and it still wasn’t long enough.

He closed his eyes, hoping he was tired enough that no faces would emerge from the darkness... Ah, hell, he was wrong. There she was again, her sad face with eyes the color of a deepwater lagoon, accusing him of hurting her.

“I didn't have a choice,” he whispered to the empty room, trying to convince his conscience to shut the hell up. He couldn't have stayed there, pretending everything was alright, that everything was real, when he knew very well that it had all been just a sham. Like the detective was. Like her feelings were. Engineered by his Father. She deserved better than that. Well, she also deserved better than him just leaving without saying anything, but what could he have told her? The truth? A lie? There was simply nothing he could have said that she would have believed and accepted. So he had just left, hoping that she would understand that he had no intention of coming back, ever. Hoping she would get over him soon, whatever he was to her. Just like he was planning to get over her, whatever she was to him. As the tiredness conquered his mind, sleep finally arrived and took the pain away for a while.

*******

Vanessa waited an hour before creeping out of her room. That should be enough even for the Devil to fall asleep. But just in case, she prepared an excuse and took out her machete. She loved the weapon. It was simple and effective, reliable too. But the main reason she loved it was because it had killed her father.

She walked to the parking lot, finding a public phone booth. She inserted a few coins in the machine and dialed quickly.

“It's me. I found him. What's the next step?”

“Don't let him out of your sight,” the man on the other side said. “We're sending backup.”

“Do you think that’s wise? Couldn't we just-”

“You're not in a position to question our decisions,” he cut in.

“Yeah, but he's the Devil. And I... I don't think he's done... anything. He looks kind of... sad?” Vanessa cringed. She couldn't believe she had just said that – the Devil – sad?!

The silence on the other end made her spine tingle. And then: “You pledged your loyalty to our organization. Have you changed your mind, Miss Burrow?”

“Of course not. I just... I think we should be careful, sir.”

“We are careful. That's why we're sending backup.”

The call ended and Vanessa put the receiver in its place. “Jerk,” she spat. She didn't like her boss, he was a dick, always reminding her of her duty like there was nothing else in life. Well, in hers, there wasn't. So obey she would. But how they would make the Devil cooperate with them was a mystery to her.

*******

Lucifer woke up feeling like a car had run over him. All his bones and muscles were aching. Why, when the detective wasn't around? He wasn't sure but he guessed it had something to do with the unpleasant feeling in his chest.

He got up and went to the bathroom to do the necessities. His stubble looked more like a full beard than anything else, making him feel... ah, nothing. He seemed to care less and less about the things he had always cared about, his looks being one of them. It seemed that this time Dad had really managed to cut deep.

“To Hell with Him!” he growled and got out his razor. He may not feel like it but he sure as hell wasn't going to end up looking like those thugs from yesterday!

After a shave and a shower he smoothed his shirt and trousers as best as he could. He had already used all his spare suits and was in desperate need of new ones. Or cleaning and pressing the ones he already had. Ah, no, that would require too much effort – buying was easier...

He walked out of his room to the porch and looked around. It looked abandoned, the parking lot empty but for his own car. But the town seemed big enough to have a restaurant or two. Or a diner at least. He knocked on the door next to his and was greeted by a sleepy looking Vanessa in blue jeans and a black t-shirt. “Fancy some breakfast?”

She looked at him for a minute like she was seeing an alien, not blinking and with mouth half open. And then she shrugged, once again looking like nothing mattered to her. “Yeah, why not?” She grabbed her black leather jacket and closed the door behind her. She headed to the car but Lucifer stopped her. “Let's stretch our legs.”

“You're the one with the keys,” she answered. “And the money.”

Lucifer smiled. They passed the parking lot and walked to what looked like a shopping center. There were several people around; the town wasn’t totally dead after all. They passed a bus stop and a small boy sitting on the bench, obviously waiting for a bus. Lucifer noticed him because one thing he knew was that humans didn't leave their youngsters alone. And this one was alone. And in something that looked like pajamas... These parts of the U.S. were really strange. He remembered he had seen a disturbing number of homeless people in the last town. And now the boy. What was wrong with the people here?

“So what's your deal then?” he asked his companion to satisfy his need to analyze human behavior. “I mean if you have one. If not I'm happy to accommodate you.”

Vanessa frowned at him and seemed to pull away slightly. “No deal. I'm just... in the middle of... things. I guess.”

She was lying, Lucifer could tell, but he wasn't one to pry. He didn't care. Her problems were hers to deal with, not his. “Oh, look,” he pointed at an establishment even L.A. wouldn't be ashamed of. Well, the less classy part of L.A. anyway...

“Danny A's Diner,” Vanessa read aloud. “In short, 'DAD'.”

“Yes, very intriguing,” Lucifer replied with sarcasm. He noticed an older lady standing close to the entrance and looking at the sky. It was blue today without any clouds, so what she was looking at, Lucifer had no idea. She also looked a bit crazy, so he ignored her as he walked into the diner with Vanessa on his heels.

“Oh, look,” Lucifer pointed at the menu as they sat down, “they have waffles... and waffles and look, more waffles.” He had clearly overestimated the diner earlier.

“Hm, I'll have waffles then,” Vanessa said, not looking perturbed at all. Lucifer realized she was probably so hungry she would eat anything they had to offer.

“So,” Vanessa started later, mouth full of waffles, “where are you going from here?”

“No idea. Somewhere my Dad won’t find me so I can plan my sweet revenge.” He should have started a long time ago...

“Revenge?” Vanessa repeated, her waffle temporarily forgotten. “What kind of revenge?”

“Don't know yet. Destroying the Silver City could be enough. Maybe then He would finally realize He can't control me and end me for good.”

“That's a strange revenge if you think about it.”

“Is it?” Lucifer asked, not knowing what she meant.

“Sure. Normally you’d hurt or kill the one you're getting revenge on and live to enjoy the feeling. What you said... it almost looks like you're planning to die.”

“Does it?” No, she must have it wrong...

“Hm,” Vanessa nodded and put another big piece of waffle in her mouth. She chewed contentedly, but looked a little bothered by Lucifer's words. Maybe she was right after all. The truth was Lucifer didn't really care if he lived through his revenge. The only thing he cared about was that he made his Father pay for what He had done to him.

They finished their breakfast and walked out. Lucifer noticed the old lady was still on the same spot, looking at the sky like she was expecting a visitor from above. Lucifer shook his head and headed back to the motel with Vanessa next to him.

“Those were the best waffles I've had in a very long time,” she informed him happily.

Lucifer, distracted, didn’t hear her. “Oh, for crying out loud,” he growled as they neared the bus stop. It must have been at least an hour and the boy was still sitting there, clutching his teddy bear. The humans here must be really deranged to let him sit there like that, in his pajamas no less.

And why should he care, anyway? Just another boy abandoned by his parents... Well, the detective would certainly never forget about her spawn like this. But then her spawn wouldn’t just sit here and wait for someone to rescue her, would she?

Lucifer was determined to walk by, but his legs stopped on their own volition in front of the child. It was probably only because of that stupid teddy bear. Or maybe because of the detective’s voice in his head urging him to do something about it.

“Why are you still here?” Lucifer asked but the only answer was from Vanessa.

“Sorry, what?”

Lucifer pointed at the boy, who wasn't responding. “I mean how has the human race survived? Leaving the kids around like garbage?”

Vanessa blinked, then frowned and scratched her nose. “What do you mean?”

“What do you mean what do I mean? I mean the boy, of course!”

Vanessa looked around and then focused on Lucifer again. “What boy?”

OK, something wasn't right here...

“You can see me?” a small voice asked timidly.

Lucifer refocused on the boy. “Of course I can see you. Why would you... oh, bloody hell,” Lucifer’s retort trailed off as he realized what was probably going on here. He tested his theory and touched the boy's head. Or didn't touch, to be precise. His hand went right through the boy's head, distorting the image for a split second.

“Please, don't do that!” the boy shrieked and drew back.

“Sorry, I had to check something.”

“Ah... Lucifer,” Vanessa stammered while looking at him funny, “I'll just wait for you in the motel, OK?”

“Yes, yes, I need take care of this soul, anyway.”

Vanessa nodded uncertainly and scurried away.

“Alright, little human. Listen to me very carefully. You're dead. Do you know what that means?”

The boy nodded.

“Good. Now, all you have to do is follow the nice light, not the sun, but the golden light. Or in your language, take the second star to the right, and then straight on till morning. That's how you get to Neverland. Well, Silverland in this case.”

The boy blinked in confusion. “But I don't see any light.”

“What?” That wasn't possible. The light was always there, always on, guiding the souls up. Not that Lucifer saw it, but he had been banned from Heaven. Unless... “You didn't commit suicide, did you?”

“What's suicide?”

“Right... just to be sure, you don't feel like flames are licking your feet?”

The boy frowned even more. Lucifer sighed. This was one lost soul alright. What was Azrael doing? Painting her nails? Didn't she know she was needed? Well, Lucifer would remind her. He pressed his palms together and concentrated, calling his sister's name in his mind.

And called again...

Nothing. Really, what was the purpose of the angel of death when she didn't care about the dead? It was her job to guide the lost souls to the right place... Something must be wrong. It wasn't like Azrael not to do her job.

Lucifer gave up and thought about summoning another of his siblings to make this right. His eyes fell on the old lady still gazing up at the sky and he frowned as a thought occurred to him. Were the homeless people he had seen really homeless? Or were they just... dead? But why were they all still here? A lost soul happened from time to time, but so many? He walked over to the old lady.

“Hello there. May I ask you-”

She looked at him sharply with a shocked expression. “You can see me?”

“Oh, bloody hell! Don't tell me you don't see the light either.”

“The light? Oh, yes, the light! I saw it!”

“Good!”

“And I followed it up.”

“Even better. Wait, why are you here, then?”

“I came to what looked like an English lawn. Except this one was more shiny. And there was a gate. It was the most beautiful and intimidating gate I have ever seen. And it was all golden. I think it must have been very expensive.”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed. “Why didn't you go in?”

“I wanted to. But before I could get there, it closed.”

“It did what?”

“It closed. And the light just vanished.”

Lucifer shook his head vehemently. “No, no, it's not possible. The Gate never closes. It's like a gas station, only with less pleasant service.”

“But it did close. I saw it! I waited for...” the woman stopped, confused. Lucifer couldn't really blame her, time was nonexistent for the dead souls here, they were just suspended in time until they got where they belonged, be it Heaven or Hell. “And then I didn't want to wait anymore,” the woman continued. “But I didn't know what to do, so I came back here. And I'm looking up to see if the light reappears.”

“Well, good luck with that,” Lucifer said and walked away quickly. There was nothing he could do for the souls if what the woman had said was true. Only his siblings or his Father could help them, and that was by reopening the Gate. It was probably the reason Azrael hadn't responded to him. She was locked in Heaven. All his siblings probably were. But why was the Gate closed? Trouble in paradise? Had someone gotten in first with exacting revenge? Was Heaven under attack or something? Not that there were many creatures powerful and knowledgeable enough to do anything that could endanger Heaven...

He wished he knew what was happening. Whatever it was he hoped they would solve it fast, otherwise the dead would accumulate here and start to disrupt the world of living.

Not that he cared - it wasn't his job to look after the dead anymore. It wasn't his concern. People weren't his concern. They were his Father's project. Let Him look after them. Lucifer had better things to do. Like plan his revenge.

Chapter Text

Somewhere in Arizona

Lucifer returned to the motel. The place was still pretty deserted, not that he wondered why. The only question was how it was even possible this motel was still standing. He shook his head, thinking about the persistence of the owner and knocked on Vanessa's door. “Darling, are you there?”

There was no answer.

“I'm leaving this ugly town now. If you want to, you're welcome to join me.”

Still no answer. Lucifer looked in through the front window, seeing nothing. He tried the knob and when it turned without protest he walked in, finding the room empty. The girl had left. Well, no need to be surprised, he must have looked like a lunatic, talking to the boy's soul she could neither have seen nor heard...

“Right,” he sighed and put his hands in his pockets, staring at the open window leading to the rear of the building. He pondered if the girl had left through it instead of the front door, making sure to avoid him. It surprised him he felt disappointment over the girl's disappearance. She seemed nice enough. Even though she’d been a little strange she was the first person he’d had a meaningful conversation with since... well, since he had left L.A.

Well, time to get going then... preferably to some place abandoned enough that he wouldn’t meet any more souls. They gave him the creeps... better to lay low until this Gate problem disappeared. He turned to leave but discovered the doorway was blocked by a tall, well-built man wearing what looked like a ninja outfit and carrying a... plastic water gun??? Lucifer's eyebrows shot up. “Oh, hello there,” he greeted the strange man who was staring at him with the determination of a seasoned warrior; the intense, deadly look completely at odds with the plastic toy he was aiming at Lucifer like an assault rifle. “I believe Halloween's over, but -”

He didn't finish because a stream of water hit his face and shirt, soaking through the material easily. Lucifer swore. Not the Armani again! He was about to explain to the daft sod that he’d already had a shower today when another man surprised him from behind, probably jumping through the open window, and threw some kind of a wire net with sharp spikes over his head and torso.

“Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled in pain as the small spikes pierced his skin and drew blood. He froze with shock momentarily as he tried to understand what was happening. He had never seen these people before and how could the net be hurting him?

“Now!” someone yelled and two pairs of hands pulled on ropes and the net squeezed around him painfully, making him yelp in pain. As they disrupted his balance he fell to the ground, screaming as the spikes penetrated deeper into his flesh with the impact. As someone started to chant something (was that supposed to be ancient Greek?), pronouncing the words so poorly Lucifer understood only 'Devil', 'chain' and 'God', he realized these clowns were serious and were actually trying to hurt him. Immobilized as he was in the spiky net and by the pain, there was only one thing he could think of to free himself. He let his inner flame flare up, letting it out of control for the first time in a very, very long time, heating everything around him to an unbearable degree, making the net burn brightly and the humans scream. He realized then why the net was able to hurt him. It was Hell-forged, he could feel its resistance. But he kept going until it was pliant enough for him to tear apart like paper.

He got to his feet slowly, getting rid of the rest of the net, noting with displeasure that his clothes were scorched and the soles of his shoes had melted… along with the patch of linoleum floor he had been lying on. The small room was hot and thick with smoke, an unbearable stench hanging in the air.

Lucifer counted three men in the room, none of them looking very well right now. There were two in ninja outfits who must have been holding the net and an older one at the door who had probably been the one chanting that... whatever that was. He was looking at Lucifer wide-eyed, the small book in his trembling hands all forgotten now. Lucifer took a step closer to him only to be assaulted by one of the ninjas. Lucifer had no idea what the man was thinking, attacking him with nothing but a small knife. He was very well-trained but alas only human, and so slow Lucifer had no trouble at all blocking his strikes and then throwing him through the front window like a rag doll. The second attacker tried his luck from the other side. Lucifer thought he must have been really crazy, because he had severe burns all over his arms and must have been in an unimaginable pain, but it still didn’t stop him. Some kind of a sect then... oh, he hated them! Lucifer sent the burned man into oblivion with his fist.

The man with the book still standing at the door turned then and started to run outside – smart move as Lucifer followed him out of the reeking room.

“Johann?” someone yelled from outside and as Lucifer got out, he discovered it was Vanessa. The girl was now standing in front of the older, graying book man, a machete in her hand. She whirled around and stared at Lucifer in shock.

“So much for chivalry, then,” Lucifer growled, his anger building. She had charmed him and he had fallen for it. Like he had fallen for his Father's game... “And to think I bought you waffles!” he yelled as he advanced on her, seeing red.

“Wait!” Vanessa cried, but Lucifer wasn't in the mood to listen. He gave her no choice but to defend herself. He noticed a glimmer of dread in her eyes before it was replaced with determination. Swinging the machete, she made Lucifer dodge and then jump away from the weapon. She was fast, this one. Really fast, making it impossible for Lucifer to get closer to her. And Lucifer wasn't going to risk it by simply catching the weapon, feeling he had seen that particular piece in the past. One more thing forged in Hell... How had they gotten these?

As good as Vanessa was, her fighting technique like a graceful dance, she was starting to tire and was slowing down.

“Please,” Vanessa gasped, “can we talk? I don't want to hurt you!”

Lucifer laughed humorlessly. “A little bit late for that, don't you think, honey?” he spat as he realized that most of his body hurt.

“I didn't mean to-” Vanessa started but got distracted by whatever she was about to say, losing her concentration for a brief moment and giving Lucifer the opportunity to kick the machete out of her hand. He grabbed her by the neck, lifting her easily off the ground.

“You didn't mean to what?” Lucifer yelled at her, his eyes still glowing red. “Manipulate me? Use me? Kill me?”

“We don’t want to kill you,” Vanessa rasped, choking slightly due to Lucifer’s grip on her throat.

“Really? So tell me, darling,” Lucifer hissed, turning on his charm, “what do you really want with me?”

She looked at him defiantly. “Put me down and I'll tell you.”

Lucifer let go of her immediately, shock making him take a step back. What was this? Another God-sent miracle immune to his charms? “Who are you?” he asked. “Did my Father send you?”

Vanessa rubbed her neck as she frowned at him. “Actually He did. Kind of...”

That prompted Lucifer to walk up and grab her by her t-shirt, bending down so he could see her eyes better. They held no fear this time, only the emotionless acceptance he had seen earlier. “Well, tell Daddy dearest then, that it wasn't me. I mean, did He really think that closing the Gate would stop me from entering Heaven?” Lucifer snorted. “Even He isn't that naive. So go on and tell Him I have no idea what's happening but I guess He had it coming. I’ll make sure to send the attacker a basket of flowers.” He pushed Vanessa from him and she fell to the ground.

“What?” Vanessa asked, looking at him in bewilderment. “What do you mean the Gate is closed? Someone's attacking Heaven? And how do you know that?”

“Well, I don't know if there's an attack, but a little soul told me about the Gate. You know, the one you didn't see when we came from the diner?”

“Huh.” Vanessa got to her feet, still looking at him in bewilderment, although differently this time.

“What?” Lucifer asked.

“Why didn't you kill me?”

Why indeed... Lucifer sighed. “Contrary to popular opinion I've never killed anyone... any human that is. Even deranged, idiotic ones that are members of a sect.”

Vanessa looked at the man Lucifer had thrown through the window with raised eyebrows. Tetchily, Lucifer retorted, “I didn't say I don't occasionally put someone in a coma. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a revenge to plan.”

“Wait,” Vanessa said and put her hand on Lucifer's arm. “Whatever is happening in Heaven, it's probably worse than you think. When I said God sent us, I meant it.”

“Vanessa,” the man with the book shrieked. “Nein!”

“Shut up, Johann! We did it the old man's way and look where it got us!” She turned back to Lucifer and took a deep breath. “We're not a sect. We are the Knights Templar.”

Lucifer snorted, glimpsing at Johann, a middle-aged small man with blond graying hair and glasses and hands that were still shaking visibly. “Right, especially that one.”

“I know it's hard to believe, but-”

“Hard to believe? Not really. Everything that is older than a century or that has something to do with knights or castles is very popular these days. If you want to play medieval battles, be my guest, just keep me out of it!”

“We don't play. We're legit.”

“Oh, really?” Lucifer asked with a scoff. “Did you skip history in school? The Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307. They're all long dead.”

“We’re not. At least not completely. It's a long story, but it was necessary for us to disappear from the face of the Earth. And the best way to do it was to make it look like the Pope proclaimed us enemies of God.”

Lucifer watched her carefully. She wasn't lying yet he knew it couldn't be the truth. If there was a sham like that going he would have known about it.

“No-one knew,” Vanessa continued like she could read his mind. “Except for the Pope, the Grand Master and several chosen. We had to protect... certain artifacts that had been found in the Holy Land during the Crusades.”

Lucifer looked at the machete. The truth was that they had weapons they weren't supposed to know about, let alone possess. “Alright, let's say I believe this Dan Brown story of yours. Now, why are you telling me all this?”

Vanessa gulped and then stammered: “We want you to... ah... cooperate with us.”

Lucifer snorted. “Hm, really? A strange way to ask for help...” he muttered and pointed at his ruined clothes with blood stains all over them. Blimey, it hurt...

“Yeah, we didn't handle it in the right way,” Vanessa shrugged. “But it was my boss' idea!” she added quickly.

“Right. So what were you trying to do, exactly?” Lucifer asked, looking at Johann, who seemed to wilt under his stare.

Wir wollten... ah, we wanted to incapacitate you so you wouldn't... ah... hurt us,” he stammered awkwardly.

Lucifer laughed. “Was it holy water you threw at me?” He laughed again as the two nodded. “And you really tried to spellbind me?” They nodded again. Oh, this was hilarious... “You're idiots, you know that? That spell you chanted was obviously made to bind demons. I'm an angel – a fallen one, yes, but still an angel. It wouldn't have worked on me even if you were able to pronounce the words properly. Not that I believe it actually works. Harry Potter isn't real, you know. Have you ever tried it before?”

Johann turned crimson with embarrassment. “We had to... improvise.”

“So,” Lucifer continued, “you found out something was wrong up there and decided to seek my assistance?”

“Not exactly,” Vanessa replied. “As I said before, we were sent after you by God.”

“To do what?”

“We don't know. All the message said was 'Find Lucifer'.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Cryptic as always... Well, consider me found. Mission accomplished, you can go now.”

“What?!” Vanessa cried. “You have to come with us.”

Lucifer laughed. “Sweetheart, you may not know my family status but right now it is 'we don't care about each other' on good days and 'we try to kill each other' on worse days. Understood?” he said and turned to leave them.

“But this is bigger than you or God.”

Lucifer stopped and turned back to Vanessa with a smirk. “There are no bigger things than me or God, honey.”

“What about humanity?”

“What about it?” Lucifer challenged.

“You may not be human,” Vanessa begun, “but you obviously like it here. At least more than you liked Hell. And the souls staying here - there would be consequences, right?”

Lucifer frowned at her. What did she know...

“All I'm saying is...” Vanessa pushed, “I mean, all I’m asking you to do is take a day or two to come with us. You can see for yourself and decide whether you want to help or not.”

Lucifer stared at her, not believing he was actually thinking about it. But if what she had said was true, then something bad must be happening up there. Why else would Father send them to find him when He had a Silver City full of loyal angels to call on?

“Please?” Vanessa tried, not sounding very convincing though. It made Lucifer chuckle. He wasn't one to beg either. He wasn’t feeling very generous right now - even a 'pretty please' wouldn't sway him. On the other hand if he went with them he could find out what was happening in Heaven, and then laugh at Dad and perhaps even rub some salt into the wound, taking his own revenge while He was vulnerable. And if not... well, at least he would get the one thing he needed the most right now: distraction.

“Alright. But I'm not promising anything.”

Vanessa smiled, just a twitch of the lips that was gone as soon as it appeared.

“I'll change first though.” Lucifer looked at his nonexistent shoes and burned and blood-stained clothes. “You may also want to check the man inside, he seemed a little crispy.”

Back in his room Lucifer washed his face, cringing with disgust as he saw the result of the wire net. He looked like a beekeeper who had accidentally stepped in a beehive. Four punctures adorned his face and they would take some time to heal. He changed his clothes and walked out, heading to his car where Vanessa was leaning against the bonnet. He saw an ambulance pick up the burned man and the man he’d thrown through the window, while Johann was talking to the paramedics and the sheriff. The ambulance and the sheriff left and the small man hurried to them, the book still in his hands.

“What did you tell them?” Vanessa asked.

“That there was a gas leak and it caught fire.”

“There's no gas pipe in the room,” Lucifer pointed out.

“Yeah,” Vanessa nodded, “we should get going before the sheriff figures that out.”

“You can't both ride in the car with me,” Lucifer said.

“We're not taking the car,” Vanessa replied and looked up. Lucifer realized he was hearing the distinct noise of a helicopter, approaching quickly. The machine came into view soon and landed in the middle of the parking lot.

“Right, I see you knights have switched horses for helicopters. Not that I’m complaining. They are after all faster and less smelly,” Lucifer said as he followed Vanessa in. “I hope you’ll give me a ride back too. Don't wish to take a bus or something worse.”

*******

Los Angeles, a few hours before

Chloe turned off the insistent alarm clock, groaning sleepily. She so wished she could just spend the day in bed... it seemed harder every day to get up and do anything. But hey, maybe today was the day. Or maybe not, just like the twenty six days before it... not that she was counting.

But truth be told she didn’t have much to look forward to every morning. Working cases with Dan was less fun than she remembered and reading books to Trixie in the evenings always left her somewhat melancholic. No wonder Trixie had started to prefer Maze over her own mother to read her bedtime stories.

She rolled out of bed and dressed. At least Trixie was with Dan today and Chloe didn't have to hurry to make her ready for school. She walked to the kitchen slowly, finding Maze having a vicious fight with the cooker. It was funny watching the woman try to learn to cook. Or at least it had been until Maze had decided that Chloe was the right subject to judge her creations.

Chloe watched with growing dread as Maze put a plate in front of her and threw something blackish from the pan onto it. “Eggs!” Maze pointed at the plate, saving Chloe from asking the obvious question.

“I'm not hungry today, Maze. But thank you,” Chloe tried to avoid the terrible fate of tasting that and probable indigestion later.

“No excuses, Decker, you need to eat!” Maze yelled at her. “You look like a top model with dysentery. And no, I still haven't heard from Lucifer.”

“I didn't ask,” Chloe protested.

“But you were going to.”

Well, there was nothing to say to that... She had asked every one of the last twenty six days, always a little bit differently, like 'what's new' or 'what are you planning to do today' not to be so obvious, but apparently she had been more obvious than she realised.

Chloe looked at the 'food' again, thinking how to avoid it without hurting Maze's feelings. “I'd like to have some, but I really have to go, Maze. I have a case.” Which was true, thankfully (not for the dead person, of course).

Maze scowled, baring her teeth disapprovingly. She went to the cupboard and picked out a small plastic box. Chloe watched in horror as Maze swept the eggs into the box and closed it. “Here,” she barked and pushed it into Chloe's hands.

“Thanks,” was all Chloe was able to say. She left quickly, before Maze could add anything else to the package.

The way to the crime scene passed by Lux and Chloe thought for a minute of stopping by to check if by any chance Lucifer had returned. She shook her head though, realizing the idiocy of the idea. She had stopped there several times in the past twenty six days and it always looked the same – white sheets covering the furniture, making the place look lifeless.

But this was day twenty seven for crying out loud. It must be enough even for someone like Lucifer to come to terms with his feelings. Because that was why he had left, Chloe was sure of it. It was just like several months ago when she had told him that he made her vulnerable, scaring him with the admission so much that he had avoided her for three whole weeks. Well, this time it was far worse for Lucifer. This time was... serious. Real. Like a big deal between them and when Lucifer had seen her almost die it must have scared him half to death. Yeah, that must have been the reason he had left... Chloe had tried to ask Maze about it but she had acted so mysteriously Chloe wanted to punch her. At the end Maze had admitted that Lucifer had left most likely because of their relationship. Even though he hadn't told her himself...

So all there was to do was wait. He would come back eventually. After he overcame his fear. If he wanted to be with her, he would come back. If he wanted to be with her...

 

“Hey Dan,” Chloe greeted her ex as she got out of the car in front of a church. Dan seemed to have just arrived too.

“Hey, Chloe. So how was your evening yesterday?”

Chloe's mind went blank. Yesterday? There was something...?

Dan sighed, shaking his head disapprovingly and Chloe remembered – the night with Ella, the one she had canceled because she hadn't been in the mood.

“Really, Chloe?”

“What?”

“You should get a life.”

“I do have a life,” she shot back. And besides, who was he to tell her about living?

“Yes, waiting for Lucifer Morningstar to come back... very exciting.”

“You know, I don't judge how you spend your evenings, so maybe you shouldn't judge how I spend mine.”

“Listen, Chloe, all I'm saying is that it's been a month and there's not been even one message from him. This is not the behavior of a guy with confused feelings, it's the behavior of a guy who doesn't want to be found. Maybe you should entertain the thought that he’s not coming back.”

Chloe gritted her teeth to stop her tongue from lashing out at him. She didn't want to hear this. Not now, anyway. She wasn't ready to give up on Lucifer. She was angry with him, yes, probably taking the anger out on others from time to time, but she still believed in him. Because there was good in him, she had seen it many times. Maybe deep, under many, many layers of pride, cockiness, vanity, snark, and other things. But it was there, deep at the core of him. Everything else was just a facade that he used to keep the world at a distance.

“He will come back,” Chloe said softly, making Dan shake his head and turn his eyes upwards. But she didn't care what Dan thought. Lucifer would come back, eventually, because if his previous actions were any indication, his feelings for her went beyond friendship or partnership. He wouldn't be able to stay away forever.

Their small talk was interrupted by two cars pulling up next to them. Chloe frowned. TV news? Oh, hell, not a high profile case... she turned from the reporters as they got out of the cars and headed to the church with Dan at her heels. Before she could open the door, Ella appeared in it.

“Hi,” Chloe greeted. “So what do we have here?”

Completely out of character, Ella stared at her in silence, making Chloe worry. “Ella? Is everything OK?”

The forensic expert only pointed behind her, obviously trying to say something as her mouth moved, but no sound came out. Chloe passed the stunned woman and walked into the church. There, besides several police workers and a priest sitting silently in the front pew was their corpse. A woman, probably in her early thirties, was nailed to a huge cross instead of the usual statue of Jesus. She was beautiful, dressed in some kind of gray and blue dress with red hair hanging over half of her downturned face and shoulders. Her arms and legs hung limply; the big nails keeping her on the cross hadn’t been driven through her hands and feet as expected, but rather through what looked like two huge white wings that seemed attached to her back somehow.

Chloe took a deep breath. Great, another religious murder. Were they scheduled for every half a year or what? At least the chances it was committed by another Malcolm Graham were slim to none; that nutjob dirty cop was an aberration. And look, the vultures - sorry, reporters - were already at the door... Yeah, that was exactly what she needed right now. That and a little bit less sarcasm. “Oh, for God’s sake,” she sighed and headed over to the corpse.

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, inside All Saints church

Chloe neared the corpse of the redheaded woman with a bad feeling that increased with every step she took. The limp body looked like a ragdoll hanging beneath the huge wings. They seemed oddly familiar and she remembered where she had seen them, or ones like them, before. At the auction where Lucifer's stolen wings had been offered for sale. Weird.

“Holy mother of Jesus,” Dan whispered behind her. She barely noticed Ella hurry by to the corpse. She stopped in front of it and turned to Chloe. It seemed her voice had returned finally. “I know what you’re thinking. But they’re not. I checked. Like triple checked. Either the weed I had yesterday was worth a lot more than what I paid for it or... and it's a big 'OR'... the atheists are screwed.”

Chloe tilted her head as she tried and failed to understand. “Ella, what are you trying to say?”

The woman seemed to hyperventilate slightly. She took a shaky breath, kept it for two seconds and then blurted out: “The wings are real!”

“What do you mean?” Chloe asked. “Like from an animal?” Was there even such a huge bird in the world?

“No!” Ella barked. “Like from an angel! They are freaking real. They're not glued to the corpse or anything, they are simply... part of it. Part of her!"

“What?” Dan breathed, his voice full of doubt, his eyes scanning the body.

“OK,” Chloe stopped Ella from saying more. She was obviously in need of a time out. She looked like she was going to explode. “Let's not jump to conclusions. I mean plastic surgery in this town is almost supernaturally good if you believe the trade rags. And murders with a religious theme aren't that rare; we’ve told you about that whackjob Malcolm Graham and what he did to Lucifer, killing people because he thought ‘Satan’ would approve. This is obviously the brainchild of another very sick person.”

“Obviously,” Dan repeated with distaste.

“What else can you tell me?” Chloe asked Ella.

“Well, before I found out she was an angel and, you know, practically stopped thinking in a rational way, I discovered a puncture hole in her chest. It's mostly covered by her dress, but it looks like she was stabbed with a narrow dagger right to the heart. It was probably the cause of death. Unless the M.E. finds something else in the autopsy.”

“No blood here,” Chloe pointed out, “which means the body was brought here. Arranged for us to see.”

“Yes,” Ella agreed. “My guess is the woman died about two days ago. And there is one more thing,” Ella said as she stepped up on a stool and lifted the woman's head. There was a symbol carved into the skin of her cheek that looked like a mirror image of the percent sign.

“What's that?” Chloe asked aloud, not expecting an answer. She was surprised Ella gave her one.

“I happen to know that it's Hebrew for number one.”

“Shit,” Dan cursed, coming to the same conclusion as Chloe did.

“So we could have a serial killer,” Chloe sighed. She sooo hated them. “And he's only just begun.”

“It's nice of him though to count the victims for us,” Ella said. “This way we know we won't miss any.”

Yeah, nice... Chloe felt a chill crawl up her spine, suddenly feeling too vulnerable. She wished Lucifer was here, watching her back and cracking his inappropriate jokes as usual. He always made the horror of crime scenes a little easier to bear.

“Bet Lucifer would like this one,” Dan observed aloud like he knew she was thinking about him.

Chloe shook her head. Lucifer really didn't like it when people used religion as an excuse for their evil acts, especially when committing murder. “I very much doubt it.”

*******

Somewhere in America

“Are we there yet?” Lucifer asked for about the fifteenth time just to hear someone's teeth grind again. But was it his fault they put a black bag over his head and left him to his own devices for... how long?

“Nein.” The answer came from Johann this time. He and Vanessa had been taking turns to answer his questions, which was kind of nice. The middle aged German guy seemed to like the crazy combat girl and vice versa.

“But we’ve been flying for hours!” Lucifer complained, the engine of the helicopter making his head pound even over the headphones he had been given.

“It's only been seventy five minutes,” Vanessa replied.

“Well, this helicopter must be a hellish invention then since time seems to flow differently inside it.” Lucifer waited for a laugh or at least a small chuckle but he waited in vain. Who were these people and where had they buried their sense of humor?

“We're almost there,” Vanessa added reassuringly.

“I still don't understand why I have to have this smelly thing over my head. Haven't you already done enough by turning me into a pincushion?” The small holes left all over his body by the wire net still stung. And not in a pleasant way.

“It is the headquarters of the Knights Templar,” Vanessa explained. “We prefer to keep its location a secret for obvious reasons.”

“Right,” Lucifer drawled. Like he couldn't figure out how far they had flown, knowing the duration of the flight and the velocity of the helicopter which the pilot had revealed with pride earlier. And given the fact it was still before noon and the sun was shining on his right cheek, they had been heading more or less east the whole time.

Finally he sensed the helicopter start to descend, and someone pulled the ugly bag off his head.

Lucifer blinked as his eyes adjusted and he looked out of the window. There was a huge mansion built in the style of a medieval castle, the architect probably trying to make it look romantic with its towers and stone walls. Well, he had failed magnificently. And yeah... absolutely no chance of finding this place even if he tried for a hundred years...

They landed on a helipad inside the stone wall. There was a huge iron gate in the wall, probably the main entrance to the compound, just several yards from the helipad. Lucifer noticed a camera in the corner of the gate and two security guards. Each of them had a gun on his right hip and a sword on his left. They were clad in black in what looked like another one of those ninja getups with some kind of a black armor over their chests.

“Follow me,” Vanessa said and headed to the mansion. They marched over a perfect English lawn that was being watered by an irrigation system, the bright light reflecting on the water arcs making tiny rainbows all over the place.

Another guard in a ninja-like outfit greeted them at the door to the mension. Lucifer smirked at him as the man took a step back and touched his gun when they passed.

The inside looked very much like a house. “Oh, cozy,” Lucifer muttered as they passed room after room, finally arriving at the kitchen. Vanessa headed to a cupboard and opened it. There were some cleaning supplies inside but Vanessa walked in and at the end she knocked three times on the wall. Lucifer watched with growing interest as a hidden door opened and Vanessa stepped in.

“Are you coming?” she asked.

“I was just waiting for a helping hand,” Lucifer joked. Vanessa didn't move a muscle, only Johann behind him snorted and then quickly tried to mask his reaction with a cough.

Lucifer sighed and walked inside what looked like a large elevator. There were five buttons, all but one with a minus before the number, indicating the only way they could move was down.

“Our entire headquarters is below ground,” Vanessa confirmed Lucifer's guess.

“Lovely. It's been a while since I visited the underworld.” And again not even a snort.

They stopped one floor down. When the door opened, they entered a room that looked like a regular open space office with about six people in there. They all stopped what they had been doing and stared with mouths agape, shock and fear in their eyes. At Lucifer.

“Good morning, everyone,” Lucifer greeted them with a smile. “Or is it noon already?” he asked as no-one reacted.

As they walked through the office, an older woman appeared from around the corner and almost bumped into Lucifer. She shrieked when she saw him, her eyes behind her glasses growing ridiculously wide.

“Sorry, love,” Lucifer mumbled as the woman gaped at him in shock.

“What?” Vanessa asked.

“Nothing.”

“Come on,” Vanessa growled and tugged at Lucifer's sleeve, leading him along a hallway to an ominous looking door. Johann followed closely, muttering something indistinct in German.

Vanessa stopped at the door that was labeled 'Grand Master' and briefly turned to Lucifer. “Just wait here, OK?” Considering the grimace Johann was wearing as he entered the room with the girl, it was probably a good thing to be left outside.

“What the FUCK were you thinking!” A man's voice thundered through the closed door. “Bringing the freaking DEVIL here?!” It sounded incredibly angry and a bit hysterical too.

Vanessa replied in a far more civilized tone, “We completed the mission. That's what I was thinking. Sir.”

“The mission was to bring him bound and harmless, Miss Burrow!”

“We tried, sir,” came much quieter from Johann.

“Yes,” Vanessa helped. “It was either this or let him walk away. Because it was what he was about to do. So I just followed my gut. Like you taught me to. Sir.”

“Then I should have taught you better! He's God’s greatest enemy. He could do unspeakable damage here. He can -”

“Hear you!” Lucifer supplied loudly through the keyhole. He was getting tired of the man's outburst. There was a short silence followed by a much quieter talk.

Lucifer noticed the older lady who had shrieked earlier was approaching him slowly. Carefully. “He's one choleric boss,” she whispered, pointing at the door.

“You know him?”

“Yes. I've been his secretary for thirteen years,” the woman replied and looked at him with interest. “You’re really him, aren't you?”

Lucifer sighed. “The one and only.”

“Never thought I'd live to see the day...”

“You haven't,” Lucifer replied.

“What?”

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're dead, love.”

“Huh?”

“Haven't you picked up on the fact that nobody's been noticing you?”

The woman hesitated. “Well, they've never noticed me much. That doesn't mean I'm dead.”

“Honey, you’re wearing a wedding gown.”

The woman blinked, looked down at her clothes and then back at Lucifer. “Oh, shit! Why am I dressed like this? I've never been married in my life!”

“Souls tend to portray their innermost wishes.”

“So it means that the job has finally fucking killed me! And no-one even told me!”

“To be fair, they can't see or hear you. You should probably be in Heaven right now. But it's out of order at the moment. I guess that's why I'm here.”

The door opened and a white-faced Johann appeared. He stepped aside and beckoned Lucifer to come in. And he did, followed by the ghost of the secretary.

The room was wide, not particularly bright, filled with heavy furniture that looked like it dated from medieval times. There, behind a huge oak desk heaped with several piles of papers and a laptop sat a well-built man in his fifties, frowning ferociously. He stood up as Lucifer came to stand at the other side of the desk. They stood facing each other for several seconds, the human trying to establish his supremacy by staring Lucifer down. It made Lucifer smile. It occurred to him that they would probably stand there until the man died of old age if he didn't do something. So he extended his hand. “Lucifer Morningstar. Also known as the Devil or Satan. But I guess you know that.”

The man's cheek twitched but he was too smart not to shake Lucifer's hand. “Hugo Reinier. The Grand Master of the Knights Templar. But I guess you know that.”

The dead secretary snorted. “Testosterone.”

“So you want to help us?” the Grand Master asked as they sat in the chairs.

“I never said that,” Lucifer replied smoothly. “I only agreed that I would look at this problem of yours after you asked so nicely. What was your plan - attack first, think never?”

The Grand Master gritted his teeth so hard, Lucifer thought they would break. “Well, my apologies,” he growled, not even trying to sound sincere. Lucifer decided not to comment and get to the point of the meeting.

“I guess the reason you wanted to make my acquaintance has something to do with the dysfunction of Heaven?”

“Vanessa explained to me you said something about Heaven's Gate being closed. Where did you get this information from?”

“Oh, from a lovely dead lady I met this morning in... whatever the name of that town was.”

Dead lady?” the Grand Master repeated, clearly not believing him.

“Hm, yes. If she can be trusted. She said she had seen the Gate close in her face. The guiding light disappeared altogether then, which suggests the Gate remains out of order. I even tried to summon my sister but she didn't respond. All the angels are probably locked in Heaven now. And no, it's not my doing,” Lucifer added just to make things clear. “Any questions?”

“Why should I believe you?”

Lucifer's eyebrows lifted. “Why, indeed... I came here despite my very busy schedule and the fact your modern knights in tracksuit pants had caused me some rather unpleasant pain -”

“There's a pleasant pain?” Vanessa interrupted.

“How young you are, sweetheart,” Lucifer sighed and then turned back to the Grand Master. “And not to mention that because of them I look like a guinea pig after a smallpox experiment. But at least I still have the Prada... thank Dad for small mercies.”

“Pardon me if I need more than just your word,” the Grand Master said.

The dead secretary snorted. “What an idiot... It's Anastasia all over again.”

“Well,” Lucifer drawled, “your secretary says that you're an idiot and you're making this into Anastasia all over again.”

The Grand Master paled. “What?”

Lucifer looked at the secretary for help. “It's his ex-wife. He accused her of cheating, not believing her word. She hadn’t cheated but the accusation destroyed their marriage all the same.”

“She says you should learn from how it ended with your ex-wife.”

Johann looked around the room warily. “She is really here?”

Lucifer pointed in the secretary's direction. “Yes. She's here to stay until the Gate opens again.”

“Fuck!” the Grand Master yelled. “She nagged me constantly when she was alive and now she's gonna haunt me as well?”

“Can I do that?” the secretary asked Lucifer with a hopeful look.

“Give it time, honey,” Lucifer replied. That earned him a wide smile. He turned back to the Grand Master.

“How long has she been dead?”

“Hasn't she told you now that you're best friends?” the Grand master spat in irritation.

“No. Souls lose all track of time here on Earth.”

“Three days,” Vanessa replied, realizing why he was asking. “That means the Gate has been closed for at least three days.”

“It matches. More or less,” Johann added.

“Matches what?” Lucifer asked. Johann and Vanessa both looked at the Grand Master. The man glared daggers at them, but nodded anyway.

“Let's go. There's something we need to show you.”

They returned to the elevator. When Johann, the Grand Master and Lucifer got in, Johann pushed the lowermost button with number minus four on it. Lucifer caught the closing door as he realized Vanessa hadn't got in.

“I'm not going down there with you,” Vanessa said.

“Why not?” Lucifer rather wanted her with him. The truth be told she was the closest thing to a friend that he had in this peculiar place.

“I don't have clearance,” Vanessa snapped, anger touching her voice even though she tried to hide it.

Lucifer glimpsed at Johann who smiled tightly but didn't provide any further explanation.

“Only a few do,” the Grand Master said.

“Oh,” Lucifer beamed. “I didn't know I was so privileged.”

“You're not,” the Grand Master growled. “You're just a necessity.”

Lucifer humphed and watched Vanessa leave as the door closed and the elevator took them four floors under the ground. On the way it stopped briefly between the third and fourth floors and a voice informed them it had begun the scan.

“Just to make sure no demon gets in there,” Johann explained.

“How could a demon possibly even find this place? I mean I didn't know about it.”

“There's a prison for demons on the third floor,” Johann replied.

“Johann!” the Grand Master shouted, making the older man cringe.

“A prison?” Lucifer repeated, horrified. “Wait! Is that the reason Ahazu never came back to Hell when I sent him to get me pizza? It would have been about ten Earth years ago when he went missing. I sent him to this little Italian place in New York -” Lucifer stopped talking as he noticed the both men were looking at him like he had just grown horns.

“What?” Lucifer drawled. “You think just because Hell is hot like an oven, we bake pizza there?”

The elevator moved again, sparing them more weird conversation. It opened onto a small hallway with an iron door at the end that looked like the door to a safe. There was even a small keypad with numbers. The Grand Master entered the code, blocking Lucifer's view with his body.

When the door opened, Lucifer almost whistled in surprise. He was a hard person to impress since he had basically seen it all, but nevertheless he was. There, in many heavy glass boxes of various sizes, were miscellaneous artifacts, each of them probably valuable enough to buy half of America. “Well, well, well, someone's been busy.” Lucifer drawled as he came closer to one of the boxes. “The Turin Shroud?” he asked.

“Yes,” the Grand Master confirmed. “The real one. We switched it with the original in 1578 on its way to Turin. So it's not really the 'Turin' shroud.”

“Oh, aren't you shrewd little knights?! And what's this?” Lucifer pointed at a rusty weapon that looked like something between a lance and a spear.

“We're not sure,” the Grand Master replied quickly. Too quickly - Lucifer knew he was lying to him. Well, he didn't really care what treasures they had hidden here. Well, not that much... He turned to another artifact locked in a glass box and frowned. What was this doing here? It was the Reflectionless mirror; it reflected everything except the person standing in front of it. It must have looked like a magical object to the humans but in reality it was a doorway to Hell. Luckily it could be opened only by a few chosen; demons and souls who had already been claimed by Hell. No reason to fear that some human idiot would get down there accidentally...

“I'm surprised you brought me down here, to all of your treasures.”

“As I said there's something you should see,” the Grand Master said. “And besides, one word from me and this whole level would lock down. Even you wouldn't get out of here.”

Lucifer didn't say that getting out would be child's play… he could just use the Reflectionless mirror. He looked at the next artifact. Was it...?

“Lucifer,” the Grand Master called to get his attention. “Let me introduce you to the Keeper.” Lucifer turned and his eyes grew round. It was a person who had gone missing a very long time ago... not that anybody cared. “This is Hirschel, also known as Ahasver,” the Grand Master said as a bald man with watery blue eyes and protruding ears approached.

“I know who he is,” Lucifer said. “Although I've never had the pleasure.” He extended his hand to the man, watching him carefully. “Shouldn't you have a box too, if you’re a part of the collection?”

Hirschel barely moved his lips.

“What? No sense of humor either?” Lucifer complained, still not understanding why everyone here was so boringly solemn.

Hirschel shrugged. “As jokes go I've heard worse. But after two thousand years of living one loses the capacity to laugh.”

Lucifer scoffed. “How can you say that? I've been alive far longer and still find humor refreshing.”

“But you're an angel. I, on the other hand, am just a mortal cursed with eternal life. My soul is... tired.”

“Well, we all have our burdens,” Lucifer said dismissively. “But I must admit I really like the reason for yours. I mean, mocking Jesus on his journey to the cross? May I join your club?”

“You are here to see the Stone?” Hirschel asked the Grand Master, not acknowledging Lucifer's comment at all.

“Yes,” the boss replied. “I assume nothing has changed since this morning?”

“Aye, all is the same.” Hirschel led them to a glass box in a corner. After entering a code on the small keypad, it opened and Hirschel extracted a rather large stone plate. He laid it on the table in the middle of the room.

Lucifer looked carefully at it, thinking he knew what the stone was but the writing was all wrong. “Is this...?”

“Yes,” the Grand Master said. “One of the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses.”

“Without the Commandments,” Lucifer finished, looking at the black stone, where a single line in plain English was written: Find Lucifer, the Morning Star.

“That message appeared three days ago,” Hirschel explained.

“Maybe Father has finally realized that those stupid rules of His made no sense and decided you all should have free will, unburdened by fear of punishment,” Lucifer offered. “Not that I approve. I mean I do approve of throwing out the rule book - or tablets in this case,” he added with a snort, “but people should always take responsibility for their actions.”

The three men looked at each other. “Is that all you have to say about this?” the Grand Master barked.

“Well, I don't bloody know what it means. You may not know this, but Father tends to be a little cryptic, having a great laugh when people try to solve His ridiculous riddles! I mean, this is probably another of His attempts to manipulate me!”

“You really think,” the Grand Master began, “that He cares for you so much He would close Heaven's Gate and leave all those poor souls to rot on Earth?”

Lucifer scoffed. Touché. “No, I don't. He doesn't care about me. But if it suited Him for any reason, He wouldn't hesitate to close the Gate. You see, He doesn't care about you that much either.”

Johann took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Alright. What other possible reason would God have to want to find you?”

What reason indeed, Lucifer thought. He was still going with the manipulation thing even though he tried to think of other scenarios. The Gate was closed. Which meant Heaven was in some kind of trouble. And all the angels were locked up there... leaving only him and Amenadiel on Earth. But Amenadiel had lost all of his powers while Lucifer still had most of his. Which could mean that Father wanted him to use them... Lucifer tentatively put his hand on the stone and let his inner flame burn, his eyes glowing and making the Grand Master take a step back. As the stone heated, making soft ‘plink, plink’ noises as it expanded slightly, more letters appeared on its surface, burning with a golden light.

“How did you...?” the Grand Master didn't finish as he was mesmerized by the light show. They all read the rest of the message:

Son, pick me up at Alice's Retirement home in Santa Fe, ASAP. I will explain everything. It's an emergency. Heaven and Earth at stake. God.

P.S. IOU

“Is this a joke?” Johann asked.

“I wish,” Lucifer sighed. “But I doubt it. Either Father has finally gone crazy or something really bad is happening since He's asking me for help.”

“Johann,” the Grand Master turned to the man, “Take Miss Burrow. You will go with Lucifer.”

“Wait!” Lucifer interjected. “I didn't say I'd do it.” He was in no way ready to face the bastard yet. “I mean, did you hear me when I said people should take responsibility for their own actions? Well, it applies to God too. He made this mess, He can deal with it.”

“Fine,” the Grand Master ground his teeth. “I didn't assume you would be much help anyway.” That made Lucifer scowl but the man didn't seem to notice or care. “Johann, take Miss Burrow and go pick up God.”

Johann's chin fell. “W...w...was? Ich?”

Lucifer laughed. “Don't be ridiculous. They can't just go pick Him up. He's... overwhelming, intense and boring at the same time.”

“Well, we don't have any other choice!” the Grand Master boomed. Lucifer wanted to argue but the Grand Master was probably right. If Heaven and Earth were in some kind of supernatural trouble, only God could help them. And to do it, He apparently needed him of all His children. Oh, just to see His face, asking the Devil for help... maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to go with them after all.

“Fine, fine...” Lucifer sighed. “I'll go with you. But just to make sure He won't turn you into gibbering sheep.”

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, inside All Saints church

Chloe walked to the priest sitting in the front pew. He looked like he was praying. She couldn't really blame him. Apparently, he was the one who had found the lock broken with a corpse inside as a surprise gift this morning. And what a shock it must have been to walk in the church and find a dead 'angel' on the cross.

“Father, I'm detective Decker.”

“Sean Branigan,” the young priest with short blond hair and small eyes introduced himself.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

The priest shrugged. “I came in this morning... and there she was.”

“Do you know the victim?”

The priest looked at Chloe like she was insane. “I may be a man of the cloth but I don't usually talk with angels. I mean – face to face.”

Chloe nodded. She should have thought his faith wouldn't allow him to see any other explanation for the wings.

“Do you know anyone who may have a reason to harm you or this church?”

The priest shook his head, still looking at her like she understood nothing. “There's an angel on the cross, detective,” he said in a kind, fatherly voice that made Chloe want to scratch his eyes out. “And you're asking me questions that can in no way find the killer.”

Chloe gritted her teeth. “Why not?”

“Isn't it obvious? Only God is powerful enough to kill one of his angels. She must have done something terrible to fall like this.”

Chloe nodded. “So you're saying this is God's doing? And why do you think He would display her like this?”

“To remind us of His power, of course.”

“Of course,” Chloe repeated, her intuition flashing red, warning her about this man. There was something weird about him, something false, like he would say one think but do another... “Father, I will need you to confirm your whereabouts for the last three days.”

The priest laughed humorlessly. “You think I did this?”

“Someone did. And you may believe she's an angel, but until I'm proved otherwise, I will treat her as a mutilated woman who has been killed and displayed to please the murderer's ego or fulfill his hatred for Christianity.”

“You're an atheist, aren't you?” the priest spat with unconcealed contempt. “The people like you will be the end of humanity. There's no humility in you, no grace, no love for the Almighty.”

“Really?”

“Yes. One day, detective, you will find God's love for you wears off and the Devil will claim your soul, making you suffer terribly.”

“He's already done that,” Chloe uttered, not taking the priest's words any way seriously. He was just a lunatic. And maybe a killer too.

Chloe turned and walked back to Dan. “Take the priest to the precinct.”

“Yeah,” Dan agreed. “I've heard most of it. Maybe this case will be an easy one after all.”

“Maybe,” Chloe whispered, hoping Dan was right. But her heart was telling her it couldn't be that easy.

When they collected all the evidence from the crime scene, they removed the corpse from the cross. The wings stayed attached to her back, making it rather difficult to push her in a body bag. But the technicians managed at the end and they moved the body outside.

There were several journalist already, all of them demanding Chloe's attention, all of them asking if it really was a body of an angel that had been found in the church. Chloe wondered how they had found out about it. Had the priest called them? Or the killer himself?

“I can't provide any information about the ongoing investigation. Excuse me,” Chloe said three times before they let her through to her car.

*******

On the road to Santa Fe

They took a black SUV instead of the helicopter this time. The place they were supposed to pick up God at, was only two hours of driving away – how nice of Him to 'land' so close...

And now Lucifer knew exactly where the mansion of the Knights Templar was 'hidden'. Vanessa was sitting at the wheel, hypnotizing the road with her eyes, her short black hair falling over her forehead in wild locks. She hadn't spoken since they had left the headquarters about a half hour ago. And neither had Johann who was sitting in the back seat, playing with a book in his hands. What was the addiction with the books, anyway? And was it the Bible this time?

Lucifer couldn't really blame them though for being a little bit overwhelmed. They were on their way to pick up the GOD for Christ sake... But still, the silence was becoming unbearable.

“Please tell me, it's a porn magazine in a Bible wrapping,” Lucifer pointed at Johann's book.

“Of course not.” He opened the book to show Lucifer it was really the Bible. “I thought I'd come prepared.” That made Lucifer snort.

“Yes. I wonder what a poor body He has taken this time.”

“What?” Vanessa whispered, eyes still glued to the road.

“My Dad,” Lucifer explained. “He can't just come down to Earth as Himself. He's rather noticeable. He usually takes a body when He goes on vacation on Earth.”

“Vacation? On Earth?” Johann repeated.

“Well, yes. Where else would He go? Hell? Moon? Believe me when I say that Hawaii is so much better.”

Nobody reacted and the silence took place again. Lucifer sighed. He was so bored. And they still had many, many miles to kill... “You know, I was wondering,” Lucifer begun again, “how did you find me?”

“It wasn't that hard,” Vanessa replied, still concentrating fully on the driving. “Your car is kind of striking.”

“Thank you,” Lucifer beamed. “But what I meant was how did you even know it was ME? And where to look for me?”

Vanessa peeked at the rear mirror, meeting Johann's eyes for a sec, probably asking silently for a permission to answer. “We caught a demon about four years ago. He told us. We've been monitoring your whereabouts since then.”

“Afraid I came to Earth to do something nefarious?”

Johann coughed before he answered. “We estimated you came to Earth to procreate. To make an Antichrist.”

“A spawn?!” Lucifer yelled in indignation, turning in his seat to see the man better. “How could you think THAT?”

Johann shrugged uncomfortably, pushing his glasses up his nose. “You've had a lot of carnal fun...”

“Yes, FUN,” Lucifer stressed the last word, not believing what these people were thinking about him.

“So you didn't try to have a kid?” Johann asked in a small voice.

“And pay maintenance for twenty years? Do you have any idea how expensive the schools are in this country?”

“Das weiß ich nicht,” Johann mumbled, looking embarrassed.

“Well, me neither, but I heard it's a thievery.”

“You can't really blame him for thinking that,” Vanessa defended her friend, “with the speed you changed your bed partners.”

“Jealous?” Lucifer purred, smiling sweetly but it earned him only a scowl.

“NO.”

“You're a tough little bird, aren't you?” Lucifer goaded and watched as Vanessa's knuckles grew white around the wheel.

“The only little tough bird here is probably the one in your pants,” she snapped, making Lucifer chuckle and Johann squeak, probably in dread.

“A joke!” Lucifer yelled happily. “Finally! And here I thought you had no sense of humor whatsoever.”

“I don't. I meant it literally.”

“Oh! In that case I must correct you and tell you that the bird in my pants is in no way little. It's more like an eagle.”

“Or a vulture...” Vanessa spat with distaste.

Lucifer frowned. This girl was even harder to tease and please than the detective. And why was he even trying to do that?

“Can we change the topic, please?” Johann asked quietly, ending the strange, uncomfortable tension.

“Sure,” Lucifer agreed. “So, what kind of a modern tech did you use to spy on me?”

“A girl,” Johann replied.

“What? But I rarely sleep with someone twice. How could she possibly keep an eye-” Lucifer stopped suddenly, realizing how they had done it. What was the name of the tiny Asian girl who had her flat full of photos of him and his paramours?

“Suki Price,” Johann supplied. Yes, that was the name! Lucifer's mood fell as he realized something else.

“So she didn't care about me either! She only collected the photos because it was her job!”

“At first yes,” Johann replied. “But she fell for you during the assignment.”

“Really?” That was a mood lifter...

“Yes,” Johann confirmed. “The Grand Master left her in the position though because she was reliable and completely scared of you at the same time.”

“Hm. I wonder what she's doing right now when I'm away.” And what Chloe is doing...

“She's watching detective Decker,” Vanessa answered, making Lucifer frown.

“Why?”

Vanessa glimpsed at him, her eyes guarded. “You seemed to take a liking to the woman. We thought you chose her to make your little brat.”

Lucifer snorted. “I didn't choose her! My Father did.”

“What?” Vanessa and Johann barked together.

“Oh, you don't know?” Lucifer asked, enjoying the confusion on their faces. “Hasn't my Dad informed his loyal knights in sweatpants that He made a miracle and placed her in his naughty son's path?”

“Why?” Vanessa breathed.

“To control me, to torment me, to kill me... I don't know. I guess we can ask Him when we pick Him up.” And that was exactly what he would do. But first he would let Him plead for his help and then, just maybe he would say yes in exchange for an explanation about Chloe. Or maybe he would say no, showing his Dad a middle finger, and walk out, leaving Him to deal with whatever problem He had on His own.

The silence returned to the car and stayed with them for the rest of the ride.

*******

Los Angeles, the precinct of the LAPD

Dan hurried to Chloe's desk as she was just sitting there, pondering about the new case.

“Any luck on the victim's ID?” Chloe asked.

“No. We don't have her in the system. But we're still going through the database of missing people. Too bad angels don't carry a wallet,” Dan joked but Chloe didn't smile. Why was he even still trying to cheer her up these days was beyond him... except it wasn't when he realized he was still in love with her... which he shouldn't be when she apparently preferred Lucifer of all people over him... maybe because he could make better jokes? Couldn't she see he wasn't worthy of her? Leaving her like she didn't matter to him?

“Anything else?” Chloe interrupted Dan's thoughts.

“Yes. I ran the fingerprints we had found all over the body through the system and we have a match. And it's not the creepy priest.”

Pity, Chloe thought because now she had no reason to postpone his release from the interrogation room. “What do we have?”

“That's a little problem,” Dan answered and laid a photo of a girl on the desk. The girl with long brown hair and huge blue eyes looked like death was breathing on her neck. “Angela Wibly, 24, famous for drug addiction and stealing. She was admitted to a rehab facility two weeks ago. I spoke to the manager to ask if we can pay Wibly a visit.”

“OK, let's go,” Chloe said and grabbed her keys.

“BUT,” Dan stopped her before she could take a step, “the rehab didn't go exactly according to the plan, ending with Wibly having a heart attack. They took her to the White Memorial Medical Center where she died two days ago.”

“She's dead?” Chloe asked, incredulous that someone so young could die of a heart attack.

“No. Apparently, the doctors managed to bring her back, but... she left the same day, not saying anything to anyone.”

Chloe stared at Dan in a valiant afford to make any sense of what he was saying. She too almost died (and it was only 'almost') and an idea that she would just walk out of the hospital the same day after the incident was beyond ludicrous. How could an addict after a heart attack simply stand up and walk away? And how could her fingerprints be on the victim when Ella said the victim had died about two days ago, at the same time Angela had been busy having a heart attack? Was it all a sham? Was someone trying to frame the girl? “Let's get to the hospital.”

Dan nodded and followed Chloe to her car.

 

When they arrived to the hospital they were sent to doctor Fernandez, a middle aged woman with glasses and a rather huge nose.

“So soon?” the doctor asked, sarcasm coloring her voice. “I reported the patient missing only two days ago and now here you are.”

Chloe flinched. Someone wasn't doing his job it seemed. “We're not here to find Angela Wibly. Or maybe we are. There's been a murder and Angela Wibly is our main suspect.”

The doctor snorted. “Yes. Why would anyone care about a sick addict... What do you want to know?”

“Everything about her case.”

The doctor shrugged. “She was brought here two days ago, at about 3 p.m. I think. She had a heart attack. When the paramedics brought her here, they reported she had been dead for about nine minutes before they had managed to bring her back. We managed to stabilize her.”

Chloe nodded. “What happened next?”

“We moved her to ICU.”

“And you didn't leave anyone to watch her?” Dan asked.

The doctor frowned at him. “This is a hospital, not a prison. And besides, being dead for nine minutes basically means severe permanent brain damage with coma and a very possible death. She shouldn't have been able to open her eyes, let alone to walk away.”

“But she did...?” Chloe asked.

“That she did,” the doctor confirmed.

“And no-one tried to stop her?” Dan asked.

“When the nurses got to her room she was already gone. She took another patient's clothes.”

Chloe nodded again, having a hard time to understand what was going on here. “Doctor, is there anything else you could tell us about her medical condition?”

“Her medical condition is that she should be dead. With the drug addiction and the recent heart attack it is very likely there will be another episode of the heart failure. Very soon. If I were you I would look for her in hospitals. She couldn't have gone far. Not without a help.”

 

“This sounds insane,” Dan pointed out as they headed back to the station. Chloe couldn't disagree. Although she had seen a lot of strange things since working with Lucifer, they had never ceased to amaze her.

They put a BOLO on the girl in a hope someone would spot her.

As soon as they stepped in the precinct again, one of the technicians hurried to them. “You have to see this,” the man breathed as he put his laptop on Chloe's desk. “There's no camera directly in front of the church but we found a footage from a camera half a block away. Watch this.”

For a few seconds there was nothing but an empty street, the clock on the camera showing 2:19 a.m. And then a small person appeared, carrying a large bag over her shoulders. A very large bag. So large a corpse with wings could easily squeeze in. The technician stopped the footage and zoomed on the face. Chloe gasped. There was almost no doubts they were looking at Angela Wibly, the long hair and huge eyes quite striking.

“This was last night?” Dan asked just to be sure.

“Yes,” the technician replied, looking pleased with himself.

“I think they should pay us more,” Dan joked halfheartedly.

“Hm,” Chloe breathed, thinking about how was it even possible that a girl who had had a heart attack could just the next day move a body that was clearly even heavier than the girl herself. And had she killed the woman? Or had she only moved her? And why?

“Hey, Decker!” someone yelled. “Looks like you're famous again.” There was a snicker and then someone turned the volume of the TV up. Chloe watched a footage from the morning as she was walking out of the church and a woman's voice accompanying that:

...witness says that the victim had wings and was crucified right here, in All Saints church. The police refused to make a statement yet, but it seems this may be a deed of a serial killer.

“Fuck,” Dan swore. “Didn't they know any better? Showing the picture of you to all to see?!”

Chloe sighed. She so hated journalists without brain. Dan was right of course. She wouldn't mind if the whole nation knew her but she would mind if the serial killer did. And the silly reporter apparently wasn't done yet...

The case has been assigned to detective Chloe Decker who the older generation may know as the young actress from the Hot Tub High School movie.

“Oh, come on,” Chloe groaned as they showed the photo of her from the film... at least she was wearing the swimsuit... There was more laughter from her colleagues and as Dan yelled at them to shut up, Chloe grabbed the file, turned and walked out of the precinct. She needed air. A lot of it.

*******

Santa Fe, Alice's Retirement H ome

When they arrived at the Alice's Retirement Home in Santa Fe, it was late afternoon. The object seemed well kept and clean. Lucifer tried to think what he would say to his Father when he saw Him, but came up with nothing. So he wasn't in a hurry to get inside. It seemed that Vanessa and Johann were similarly inclined, not moving particularly fast, letting Lucifer lead the way over the green lawn.

“If I didn't know any better,” Lucifer goaded, “I'd say you're scared of meeting my Dad.”

Lucifer turned his head to see Johann push his glasses up his nose and frown. “He's the God. He made it all. He made us all.”

“Well, you can think of Him as your dad then. Or as your grandpa if it's better.”

Johann shook his head. “Not helping.”

“Then picture Him in his underwear,” Lucifer advised the two of them as much as he advised himself. He chuckled, remembering how his Father looked in his underwear and increased his pace rapidly, making the two scurry after him.

“Now it's worse,” Johann muttered behind Lucifer's back.

“Then think of Him as another celestial being,” Lucifer tried next. “You know me already and you're not afraid of me, are you?”

There was no answer and Lucifer stopped and turned to see his companions. “Are you?” he asked, troubled by the thought.

Johann shrugged noncommittally while Vanessa didn't move a muscle.

“You are?” Lucifer breathed, incredulous.

“You're the Devil,” Johann pointed out like Lucifer didn't know it. “I don't mean any offense but it's kind of... scary.”

Lucifer looked at Vanessa, a small frown creasing his forehead. “And you?”

“I'm not afraid of you,” Vanessa proclaimed with her head high which made Lucifer smile. “I'm just... cautious.”

“Cautious? What's that supposed to mean?”

“You're stronger than me. I just have to keep it on my mind.”

“But why? Why does it matter?”

“Let's get your Dad,” Vanessa said and walked past Lucifer to the entrance hall. As they walked in, Lucifer shuddered. There were souls everywhere it seemed. Now that he knew about them it was much easier to spot them at the first sight, the edges of their projection slightly blurred as the light visible only to him bend around them.

Lucifer focused on a living, corpulent, young nurse with a huge bun of dark hair and even a huger smile who came to welcome them. “Can I help you?” She asked like she really wanted to do so.

“Yes,” Lucifer breathed. “We've come to visit my Father.”

“Aha. It's not visiting hour, I'm afraid,” the nurse singsonged, still with the huge smile.

Lucifer stepped closer to her, bent lightly and planted a nice smile on his face. “I know, darling. But it's rather urgent. There's been a death and we can't send the poor soul to the afterlife without my Dad. Surely you could do an exception for once?”

The nurse tittered. “Alright then. What's your father's name?”

Lucifer looked at his companions in a mild panic. But they had nothing just like he had. Luckily they were saved by screams coming from the next hallway. “Mr. Stuart! Please come back to your room immediately.”

“I have better things to do than share a smelly bed with dead Mrs. Holland!”

The nurse shuddered beside Lucifer. “That's Mr. Stuart. You may not believe it, but he always used to be so quiet. But three days ago he had a slight stroke and it changed him completely. Now he says he sees dead people and makes foul remarks about other residents. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the Devil possessed him,” the nurse chuckled heartily.

Lucifer refrained from defending himself, focusing on the nurse's words. Dead people, three days... “That's my Dad,” Lucifer proclaimed and listened as the voice of a raging man came nearer and nearer.

“Really?” the nurse asked. “Shame on you that you've never come to visit him before!”

“Well, I've been busy, my dear.” With increasing anxiety Lucifer watched through the door's window a rather fast approach of a white haired man. All he could see was his frowning, wrinkled face, but it was enough to send his right hand into a nervous flexing. He heard Johann gulp next to him. And then the door finally opened and the man came through it, stopping at the sight of them. As Johann, Lucifer and Vanessa laid their eyes on Him, they all exclaimed in shock at the same time:

“Mein Gott!” – “Bloody hell!” – “Fuck!”

For there He was, the God, in his human suit of sixty something years with gray thick hair and slightly protruding belly, who was currently wearing nothing but white briefs.

“Oh, Mr. Stuart,” the corpulent nurse berated him, “this again?”

But the man didn't pay any attention to the nurse or anyone else for that matter. He focused solely on Lucifer, pointing his finger on him. “You!”

Lucifer lifted his chin high, prepared to do battle. “Yes, ME.”

The man narrowed his eyes as in concentration. “I know you.”

That gave Lucifer a pause. “What?”

“Don't lie to me! I know that I know you from somewhere.”

Lucifer looked at the rest of the group.

“After the stroke,” the nurse whispered, “Mr. Stuart lost most of his memory. But the doctor believes it's only temporary.”

“Who are you?” the man demanded, still pointing at Lucifer who had turned white as a sheet of a paper. What was this? What was happening?

“I...” Lucifer stammered, not knowing what to do. Hell, he even didn't know if the man really was his Father. Then he realized something. “Mr. Stuart, I will answer your question if you answer mine.”

The man frowned. “OK. What's the question?”

“How many people are in this hall?” Lucifer watched as the man looked at him funny, but then he turned his head, looking directly at every soul, dead or alive, counting.

“Eight. If you count the dead ones.”

Lucifer nodded. “In that case I'm your son.”

The man's eyebrows jumped on his forehead. He looked at Lucifer from his hair to his shoes and back again, obviously thinking hard. “You have to excuse me, I've been having memory troubles for what feels like forever.”

“Hm,” Lucifer nodded and gulped. If this was some kind of a sick game, it was bad. If it wasn't... well, then it was a disaster...

“Don't stand there and come give me hug!” God yelled and spread his arms, coming to Lucifer. Lucifer stood still like statue, not able to move or run as his mind wanted his body to do. He bore the man's hug with as much dignity as he was able to muster in the situation, glimpsing at Johann and Vanessa, seeing they were probably in a bigger shock than he was.

“Please tell me you've come to take me home,” God whispered in Lucifer's ear while He was hugging him. “This place is a hell!”

“This isn't a game on your part, is it, Dad?” Lucifer asked, actually hoping for a second this man would turn into the Father he remembered.

“Game?” God repeated, perplexed, finally letting go of Lucifer. “Oh, I didn't mean to hurt you, son. I do remember you, truly...” He said but there was a certain lack of recognition in His eyes. “I mean I remember faces, voices and sometimes moments, but I can't remember any names.” He scratched his head in exasperation.

“Alright,” Lucifer whispered. “We'll figure this out,” he said more to himself than anybody else. Just take a deep breath... “Let's get you out of here first.”

“Good idea!” God exclaimed. “I'll put on some clothes!” He turned and hurried back.

“If you're terminating his stay here, you need to fill in the papers. I'll bring them,” the nurse said and walked to get them.

“Mein Gott,” Johann said once again, taking his glasses off and rubbing his nose.

“We're screwed, aren't we?” Vanessa asked, looking at the door that had closed after the man. Lucifer didn't want to lie so he kept silent.

“What's wrong with Him?” Johann whispered.

“I don't know,” Lucifer admitted. “Something must have gone wrong. He should be able to remember everything. It must be the body. If it was damaged in any way when He took residence in it...”

“What do you mean 'took residence'?” Vanessa asked. “What happened to the original owner?”

“One body cannot be occupied by two souls. The original owner must have died first. If it really was the stroke that killed him, then there can be a damage in the brain, preventing Dad's memories to surface. I just don't understand why He simply didn't repair the body. He should be able to do it.”

“Can't you heal him?” Johann asked.

“No. I don't have healing powers.”

“Maybe because He doesn't remember who He is,” Vanessa pondered aloud, “He doesn't know He can heal Himself.”

Lucifer looked at the girl. She was smarter than she looked. “Yes. It could be it.”

“So if we would help Him remember who He is,” Johann suggested, “then He could repair the man's brain and be Himself again?”

Lucifer smiled. “Johann, that's an excellent idea,” he exclaimed, watching as the older man blushed.

“Let's get Him to the headquarters first,” Vanessa said as they watched God come through the door again, this time clothed in jeans, black t-shirt and a brown jacket, a knapsack on his shoulder and a suitcase on tiny wheels screeching behind Him.

Chapter Text

Santa Fe, Alice's Retirement Home

Johann hurried to the car to get to the front seat, leaving the back seat to the Devil and God.

They put God's suitcase and knapsack in the trunk and the car started moving slowly, Vanessa concentrating on the road very hard. Almost like she was trying not to see or hear anything else.

Lucifer glimpsed at his Father to find Him watching him intently. “What?” he asked.

“I'm sorry, son, but I...” God grimaced, his face looking like he was in pain as he whispered, “I can't remember your name.”

So the painful grimace was really shame... how odd to see something like that on his Father's face... “It's Lucifer.”

“Really?” God exclaimed, his face turning into shock. “I named you 'Lucifer'?”

“Yes.”

“Like the Satan?”

Was He making fun of him?

“What was I thinking?”

OK, this was getting ridiculous... “You thought it was a great nickname.”

“Nickname?” God repeated, looking hopeful for a second. “So I didn't name you 'Lucifer'? I only nicknamed you that.” He paused, His forehead puckering slowly. “Wait... why would I give you such a nickname? Did you do something... bad?”

Lucifer closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. They agreed to tell his Dad the truth once they arrived at the headquarters to prevent any attempts to run away if He didn't take it well.

“It depends,” Lucifer pushed through clenched teeth, “on who you ask. But you didn't give me the nickname because of something I had done, but because of-”

“Light,” God supplied easily. “It means light bringer. You were our light bringer,” He said, smiling widely, probably happy He remembered something.

“Yes,” Lucifer confirmed. He noticed that Johann was watching them in the rear mirror quietly and with obvious fascination.

“Give me few days and I'll be like new,” God said, still smiling triumphantly.

“I hope not,” Lucifer mumbled. This version of his Dad might be a disaster but at least he didn't need to worry He would try to manipulate him for once.

“So what did I name you?” God asked, not forgetting His original question.

There was a pause in which Lucifer tried to voice the name he had tried to wipe out of his memory. But he couldn't. It was like a ghost of a life that had been long forgotten, and Lucifer didn't want anything to remind him the past. It was enough he had to bear the company of his Dad albeit the man next to him was nothing like the Father he remembered.

“Surely it can't be that bad?” God asked, interpreting Lucifer's silence all wrong.

“Samael,” came from Vanessa.

“Samael?” God repeated. “It sounds nice. I think I'll call you that...” He looked at Lucifer for confirmation.

“No,” Lucifer growled. “It's not who I am anymore.”

“You really want me to call you 'Lucifer'? It's the Devil's name.”

“And it suits me just fine,” Lucifer spat, turning the hurt the memory had brought into anger easily.

“Alright,” God breathed, turning from Lucifer, “as you wish.”

They left the town and Vanessa pushed the gas pedal lower to the floor as the highway spread wide before them. It was getting late and the sun started to descend, coloring the desert into shades of red.

“Do I have any grandchildren?” God asked suddenly.

“God, no!” Lucifer yelled. “What's with you all and the belief I want to have kids? They are... horrible tiny demons!”

The next question, “Do you have a wife?”

“No.”

“Girlfriend?”

“No,” Lucifer groaned. And thanks to you, Dad...

“Are you gay?”

“What...? Why are you asking me all these questions?”

“I want to know you. You're my child and I remember almost nothing about you. I want to know about your life. It's my privilege and responsibility too.”

Lucifer took more deep breaths. “Dad. I'm not your... anything.”

God seemed to think for a while. “We're not getting on too well, are we?”

“How perceptive you are.”

“There's no need for sarcasm. It's not nice.”

Lucifer snorted. “Well, I don't care what you think is nice.”

“And insolent too,” God commented. “I'm beginning to think I neglected your upbringing.”

That made Lucifer laugh. “Yes, you can say that.”

“Well, I'm here now! I can repair the damage.”

“I'd like to see you try,” Lucifer uttered.

“Oh, you will, son, you will. But first, I need to pee.”

“What?”

“Don't look so surprised! I have an old body.”

“And whose fault is that?”

God shrugged. “God's, maybe?”

Vanessa stepped on the breaks hard enough to make the wheels screech and the passengers jerk with the rapid change of velocity. The car stopped in a second on the road side.

“Thank you, young lady,” God said and fumbled with the handle. “Although next time you could try to stop more elegantly.”

“Yeah,” Vanessa breathed, griping the wheel with such force her knuckles were white like fresh snow.

They all watched God get out, walk about thirty feet to the desert and do what He had to do.

As soon as He was out of hearing distance Johann turned to Lucifer. “Are you sure it's really Him?”

“What do you mean?” Lucifer asked, oblivious to the panicked mood of his companions.

“What if it's some kind of a trap? We didn't even consider that the message could have been sent by someone else. What if it's a demon or something else, only pretending to be God?”

Lucifer shook his head. “It can't be. No-one can write anything on the stones of Commandments but Him. They are tuned to His power.”

Johann looked at the man outside still doing His business. “Maybe it's only a test?”

Lucifer snorted. “As much as He likes to play with everyone, Dad is too comfortable to do it Himself. He usually sends someone in His name to do His work. I think He's not playing this time.” And that was rather terrifying, because if the message was any indication, something really bad was happening. And Lucifer had no idea what and even no idea how to find out. And was it even HIS problem? Why was he still here anyway? In their company...?

“Are you sure you can't heal Him?” Johann asked, his blue eyes blinking rapidly behind the glasses, indicating he was thinking that maybe Lucifer just didn't want to do it.

“What are you suggesting, Johann? That I'm a liar?”

The German stammered something unintelligible.

“Just for your information,” Lucifer continued, “I never lie. Contrary to what the rumors say.”

“Of course,” Johann smiled tightly.

Vanessa turned her head and looked outside. “What is taking Him so long?”

“Prostrate?” Lucifer guessed. Given the age of the human He was occupying it would be very probable. He stepped out and walked slowly towards his Dad.

“Everything alright there?”

God turned his head to glimpse at Lucifer. “Yes. I'm sorry, I've just been enjoying the landscape.” He spread his arm towards the vast desert before them with hills growing in the distance. The light of the setting sun was playing a peculiar show with the sand and the stones and the small bushes scattered around timidly. It turned their natural colors into darker ones, the white sand now golden, glowing red in places, the bushes the darkest green and gray and the far hills black and brown. And it was changing with every passing second.

“There's so much beauty in this world,” God breathed out still watching the gentle play.

“Well, that's one thing we agree upon...”

“Is it so bad?” God looked at his son. “Between the two of us?”

Lucifer shrugged. “Probably worse.”

“What did we do to each other?”

Lucifer just shook his head. He really wasn't in a mood to talk about their tarnished past.

“You don't have to tell me, if you don't want to,” God reassured him. “I just...” He paused, searching for the words carefully, “I wish we could be... I don't know – friendly, maybe?”

Lucifer shook his head again, not knowing what to say to that.

“I'm old,” God continued.

“Not arguing there.”

“And I... I may not remember much about you...”

“Including my name.”

“...but I have this intense feeling that tells me I've missed you terribly.”

Lucifer blinked. Once, twice. And for the third time just to be sure he had heard right. “We should go now. We don't have time to procrastinate.” He caught God by his arm and dragged Him back to the car.

“You know I'm trying to extent an olive branch here,” God complained.

“I hate olives!” Lucifer spat even though it wasn't true. And who was not a liar?

“Fine. I understand you don't want to have a relationship with me anymore. But you could at least appreciate the effort and be civil. You're the one who has picked me up from the home!”

Lucifer pushed God in the car and buckled him up, sitting next to him. “You know, the only reason I pulled you out of that hell for the living is because we need you!” Lucifer yelled as Vanessa started the car and steered them on the road again. “But looking at you, you won't probably be anything but a burden to us!”

There was whine in the front seat coming from Johann, whose eyes were watching them in the rear mirror with growing worry.

“Fine,” God yelled back, “just drop me off in the next town! I don't care!”

“Good idea... Vanessa, dear, you've heard the man...”

“SHUT UP!” Vanessa screamed, finally getting out of patience. “Both of you! There's a global crisis we need to deal with and you are bickering over shit like two crazy hags!”

There was another whine from Johann, this one loud enough to make the rest of them look at him with worry. But Vanessa's yell had its effect, silencing Lucifer and God for a while.

“What global crisis?” God asked.

“We'll tell you when we get to the base,” Vanessa replied calmly.

“What base?”

“The same answer applies,” Vanessa said, giving God no other option but to keep quiet.

*******

Los Angeles, Richards and Wheeler office

Amenadiel walked to his mother's office. She was working late as usual but Amenadiel had a feeling she really liked the work. Or maybe she was just trying to drown her guilt in the work...

“Amenadiel,” she smiled at him as always when he came to visit. “Any news about your brother?” she asked, trying to look she didn't care that much about the answer.

“You tell me, mom...” Amenadiel goaded, leaving the sentence unfinished.

“Well, I haven't heard from him, if that's what you're asking.”

The angel sat down on the corner of her desk and glared at her. They both knew there was something that needed to be addressed but Charlotte didn't seem too adamant to go there. Well, too bad, because Amenadiel wasn't going to let this one go.

“What exactly did Lucifer tell you before he left?”

“He said that he was tired of being caught in the middle of my dispute with your Father. And he was convinced that the thing between him and the detective wasn't real.”

Amenadiel nodded. “Because Father is the one who brought Chloe to existence and put her in Lucifer's path deliberately.”

“Well, yes,” Charlotte spat, looking disgusted by the thought.

“Lucifer must be very angry with Him.”

“Wouldn't you be?”

“I AM angry with Him,” Amenadiel said without hesitation. “But this is Lucifer we're talking about, mom. You know how he acts when he's angry. Really angry. He lashes out. Punishes those who are guilty according to him. And this time I think he went beyond all limits.”

“You don't even know it's him!”

Amenadiel frowned. “The dead souls accumulating on Earth just after a month Lucifer left? I don't believe in coincidences.”

Charlotte's lips twitched. She knew Amenadiel was right... “Well, you can't really blame him. If there's someone to blame, it's your Father. He has knowingly manipulated Lucifer and all of His children since the day you were born. He deserves to be punished.”

“But the humans don't.”

Charlotte scoffed. “They're just mortals. They're not important.”

“You haven't learned, have you, mom?” Amenadiel asked, frowning at her. “The reason all this is happening is because of a human. You think Lucifer would act this way if it weren't for Chloe?”

Charlotte stood up and walked to the window, looking at the setting sun. “I didn't think Lucifer-”

“Yes, that's the problem, mom. You didn't think about Lucifer. You thought only about yourself,” Amenadiel spat. “Just like I did,” he added with self loathing. “We manipulated Lucifer just like Father did. We played with his feelings, we broke his heart so he would turn against Father. Guess we succeeded too well.”

“Don't you think I don't know it?!” Charlotte yelled as she turned to face him again. “I did this to him! I caused him this pain! And now he's truly broken. We can't be really surprised he's taking his revenge.”

“We have to find him, mom. We have to stop him!”

“Why should we stop him?” Charlotte yelled.

“Because this is more serious than it looks like! I tried to summon my siblings, mom,” she looked at him with hope and fear, “but not one of them answered me. I even tried to contact Father.”

“You did what?”

“Don't worry, He didn't respond either.” That made Charlotte pause. Then she smiled slightly.

“Maybe He's too busy fighting Lucifer.”

“I hope not. Because if they are fighting, this would end in a disaster.

*******

Los Angeles, the precinct of the LAPD

If she counted Chloe would say she had lived through worse days than this one but there weren't so many of them. This one was like on the seventh level counting from the worst. At least they hadn't shown her naked on the TV... She just needed to get out of the office, away from her laughing colleagues. It was nice to see how many friends she actually had there. Like none...

“Hey, Chloe!” Ella called from behind. Chloe didn't stop but slowed down so the small woman could catch with her. “You're not bothered by those jerks, are you?”

OK, one friend it was. She smiled at Ella her thanks. “I've been through worse.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. They don't like me much. It all started with the Palmetto case.”

“I've heard about it.”

“They thought I was being bitch following my gut and investigating a cop who was in a coma.”

“But you were right at the end...”

“Yes. I guess they hate me now because I was right and Malcolm was on the payroll.”

“Or they hate you simply because you are pretty, strong an honest and so much better than them,” Ella suggested. “Sum it up and the result is 'envy'.”

Chloe chuckled. “What? They envy me because I'm a divorced mother without a boyfriend and with a job that will very likely get me killed one day soon and that even doesn't pay me enough to afford a place on my own?”

“Putting it like this, 'envy' is a little bit stretched. Maybe you should tell them all that.”

“They all know,” Chloe whispered, disgusted by the thought. They probably knew absolutely everything. Even that her partner had left her without even a goodbye note. And now everyone probably thought Lucifer had had his bed fun with her and had simply tossed her away like a used laundry. Why to bother wash it when he can simply buy new clothes? More fresh and tasty and branded... and the comparison had gone weird a very long time ago...

“You don't have to run away, you know,” Ella continued. “I'll do battle with you, if you want me to. I had my share of street battles. And I have these super sharp scissors in my lab we can use...”

Chloe smiled at her. “I'm not running away. The doctor from the morgue called. He finished the first part of the autopsy.”

“Is it the Jane Doe angel? May I go with you? Because this case is really... you know... interesting.”

They went to the morgue together. Doctor Phelps, an older man with a cigarette in his mouth greeted them coldly. It wasn't that he didn't like Chloe, it was that he didn't like anyone living. Therefore the job as a pathologist.

“You shouldn't smoke in here,” Ella pointed out.

“Or what? The bodies get lung cancer?”

“What did you find out?” Chloe asked to prevent useless conflict. The doctor was incorrigible but efficient.

“I did a quick examination and decided to get baptized tomorrow. You know, just in case I get the lung cancer and die. Don't want to end up in Hell just because of the missing papers.”

“What?”

The doctor stepped closer to the table with the body and uncovered it. He turned the woman to her front, revealing two not very neat half moons on her back. “I had to saw the wings off.”

“Holy Father,” Ella breathed as Chloe's eyes went wide and swam with unwelcome tears. Her world started to spin around her. What was happening here? Why did it look so familiar? Just like the wings looked familiar...

“Either the tales are real,” the doctor continued, “or this is some kind of a freak experiment.”

“So the wings,” Chloe gulped, “they are like... real?”

“They were grown to the body if that's what you mean. No seams or any other kind of artificial attachment.”

“Is she human? I mean if we forget about the wings – the rest of her – is she human?” Chloe asked, not sure she wanted to know the answer. But she needed to know, it was her job to know.

The doctor sighed. “As far as I can tell, she is. Except for the blood. And the wings...”

“What's with the blood?” Chloe interrupted him.

“I tried to determine her blood type and I failed because it doesn't exist.”

“She's really an angel,” Ella exclaimed, looking excited and terrified at the same time.

“I wouldn't know,” the doctor drawled. “For some reason we skipped the angel anatomy at school.”

Chloe pushed her fingers to the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes and blocking the reality for a while. There must be an explanation for all of this. A reasonable one. A rational one. She didn't believe in angels. Because they weren't real...

“Doctor? Can you tell me how she died? And when?”

“There's a puncture hole in her chest. My guess is the killer used a narrow blade, hitting her heart. She died within a minute. As to the time she's been dead, it's approximately fifty five hours.”

Chloe did a quick math. Their only suspect, the addict girl, was having the heart attack at the time. No way she could be the killer then. But so far she was the only lead they had, given her fingerprints were all over the body.

“Thank you doctor,” Chloe said.

“I'll continue the autopsy tomorrow. Maybe I'll find something else we skipped at the school.”

Chloe nodded and looked at Ella who was still staring excitedly at the corpse, and then back at the doctor. “Listen, this is a... complicated case with the wings and all... we should keep it between us for just now, OK?”

“Who would I tell? My statue of a cat?” the doctor grumbled while Ella nodded absentmindedly.

 

Chloe left them and headed home, the file still in her possession. She needed to find out the identity of their victim but she refused to make her face public. Yet. Thankfully she had someone skilled enough to tracking people right at home. And of course she didn't want to involve Maze in this because of her mysterious 'I was forged in the bowels of Hell to torture the guilty for all of eternity' claim.

Chloe stopped at the front of her door and hesitated. What if what Maze had said was the truth? What if what Lucifer had said was the truth? Did she even want to know?

No, don't be ridiculous, Decker, she mentally kicked herself. There was an explanation for everything. Just because she happened not to know the explanation it didn't mean something supernatural was going on... She was no caveman (or cavewoman) to picture something divine behind the inexplicable.

She opened the door to find Maze playing scrabble with Trixie.

“You can't do that!” Trixie complained. “It's not a word.”

“Of course it is,” Maze protested. “Just not English.”

Chloe watched her daughter fume while Maze smiled teasingly. “Come on, you can come up with your own word too if you want to.”

“Hi Maze, Trix,” Chloe greeted them to get noticed.

“Mommy!” Trixie yelled and hurried to her to give her a hug. “Can you tell Maze she can't make up her own words?”

Chloe chuckled. “Alright. But first I need to speak with Maze alone. Can you give us a moment, please?”

“Hm,” Trixie agreed but didn't look very happy about it.

“What did I do wrong now?” Maze asked, folding her arms over her chest in a defensive gesture.

“Nothing,” Chloe said, frowning slightly. Why did Maze always think she had done something wrong when Chloe wished to speak with her privately? “I have a new case and the victim is a Jane Doe. We could really use your help finding out more about her.” That made Maze's lips stretch dangerously.

“Because I'm really awesome...”

“When it comes to finding people, yeah, I guess you are.” It was physically impossible but Maze's lips spread even wider. She extended her hand and Chloe gave her the photo of the dead woman. As soon as Maze looked at it, the smile froze on her face. She glimpsed at Chloe with worried eyes.

“You know her?” Chloe breathed out, realizing she had been holding her breath in anticipation since she had left the precinct... Because something deep down had been telling her, Maze was part of this somehow.

Maze nodded. “Yeah. I... met her few times.”

“Who is she?”

Maze hesitated.

“Tell me, Maze,” Chloe insisted, trepidation crawling into her voice.

“It's Azrael.”

“Azrael who?”

“Just Azrael.”

“Where do you know her from?”

Another hesitation. “She's Lucifer's sister.”

“WHAT?” No, no, no... this couldn't be true.... or could it? Had Lucifer and his sister been part of some kind of a sick genetic experiment or...?

“I have to go,” Maze interrupted Chloe's thoughts rudely, grabbed her jacket and left without another word, keeping the photo.

*******

Amenadiel's home

When Amenadiel returned to his apartment, he found Maze waiting on his doorstep. There wasn't too much love between them these days, not after what he and Charlotte had done to Lucifer. If he was bold he would say that they were reluctant allies when they needed to be. That was why he was quite surprised to find her waiting for him.

“Mazikeen?”

“We need to talk,” she said ominously, looking like someone had died. Maybe she knew what Lucifer was up to?

“Come in,” he let her inside, offering her a drink. But she shook her head, making Amenadiel nervous. She never refused a drink...

“What is it, Maze? Something with Chloe?”

“No,” she paused. “It's about your sister,” she continued, turning her gaze to the floor for a sec. “I'm sorry,” she whispered and handed him a photo.

Amenadiel recognized Azrael immediately but something was wrong with the picture. Oh, yes, it was too pale, too cold, too... dead. His brain knew what his eyes were seeing but his heart refused to believe it. Angels didn't die.

“She was murdered,” Maze whispered.

But angels didn't die...

“Chloe got her case this morning.”

Maybe it was just someone who looked like Azrael?

“Amenadiel?” Maze asked hesitatingly.

There was only one thing Amenadiel was able to say right now. “Did Lucifer do it?”

“What?” Maze yelled with indignation. Amenadiel lifted his head reacting to the tone more than to the words. He realized what he had just said... No, Lucifer would never do such a thing. Unless he really had to.

“I...” Amenadiel stammered, the information finally slowly sinking as far as his heart. “Azrael?” he whispered. “How...?”

“I don't know,” Maze admitted.

Amenadiel noticed Maze was watching him with something like a pity in her eyes. Oh, he hated it! He clenched his jaw, making his teeth hurt. He was Amenadiel, the first born. He was the rock among his siblings, the never wavering, reliable son, who always had things done... But there was nothing he could do about this now – about Azrael. The only thing he could do now was to find the killer.

“Has it something to do with the dead staying on Earth?”

“What?” Maze breathed out.

“Oh, you can't see them.” Amenadiel realized his mistake. She was a demon. Demons couldn't see the dead unless they were in Hell.

“What's going on?” Maze demanded, taking a step closer to him. “Has the royal bitch done something again?”

“No, she hasn't,” Amenadiel replied, not even trying to pretend he didn't know who Maze was talking about. “Actually we think Lucifer might be behind this.”

“Why would he make dead people stay here?”

“It can be related to his revenge to God. Maybe just a side effect. Maybe he closed the Gates of Hell...”

Maze shook her head. “He can't go down there without his wings. And besides the Gates of Hell weren't designed to keep things out, they're more reliable in keeping things in.”

Amenadiel nodded, knowing very well how the Gates of Hell worked. “But we're talking about Lucifer. He always finds a way to do what he wants to do.”

*******

Chloe's home

This evening it was Chloe's turn to read her monkey a bed time story. Unfortunately Chloe was even more distracted than usual, but how could she not to be with what Maze had said? Was the dead 'angel' really Lucifer's sister?

Well, Maze had no reason to lie to her, did she? But if this was true, what about the rest of it?

What about the thing she had seen so many months ago in the polished metal, mirroring Lucifer's face? She could have sworn back then she had seen his eyes glow red.

- Who are? What are you?

- I've been trying to tell you, I'm the Devil.

- That's... that's not possible.

- I assure you, Detective, it is. I mean, you've said yourself, there are things you can't explain.

But not to be able to explain didn't mean the supernatural was real. And he had bled when she had shot him despite his claims of immortality...

But he hadn't bled when Jimmy Barns put six bullets in him...

- He was firing at you. Why aren't you... more dead?

- You're having a very hard time with the immortal thing, aren't you?

Maybe, she hadn't been seeing right? She had been shot herself, not thinking straight...

But what about Lucifer's ability to draw out people's desires? Was it really some kind of a hypnosis? Was it even possible? And what about his disappearing in front of her eyes? And what about his supernatural strength?

No, no, no, there was a reasonable explanation for everything. Even for him dying when Malcolm had shot him. Maybe Lucifer had been acting to distract Malcolm? But what about the blood?

- I thought he killed you.

- Oh, he did. Yes. I got better.

No, no, no, no, no... she really didn't want to come through this again. She'd been there and decided for once and for all that she needed the eggs. That she wouldn't come into these dark, unexplored waters again. Too many sharks were lurking there, threatening her sanity.

- I just want to understand.

- You can't understand, Detective. And you never will.

“Mommy?” Trixie asked quietly.

“Yes, honey?”

“You've stopped reading about five minutes ago. And you've been staring at the same page the whole time.”

Chloe sighed. “Sorry, monkey. I'm just... having a difficult time in work, that's all.”

But Trixie shook her head. “Uhuh, you're worried, mommy. Is something wrong?”

Try to lie to her daughter... she could use her as a lie detector during interrogations. “You're right. I am worried. This woman who was killed, she might be Lucifer's sister.” Trixie's eyes grew wide.

“Does Lucifer know?”

“I don't know.”

“He still isn't talking to you?”

Chloe shook her head.

“He's not talking to Maze either. Do you think he's alright?”

“I hope so, honey, I hope so.”

Chapter Text

New Mexico, headquarters of the Knights Templar

They finally arrived at the headquarters of the Knights Templar, the walls of the castle like building looming in the dark, reflecting the exterior lights. Vanessa stopped at the gate, put her palm on the screen and the gate opened to let them in.

“Where are we?” God asked, staring at the structure with doubts.

“Knights Templar lair,” Lucifer replied.

“Knights Templar? Weren't they in that Indiana Jones movie? With the Holy Grail episode?”

“Yes, I believe so,” Lucifer said with a smile.

Vanessa stopped the car near the entrance to the building. There were about twenty people there, standing in a line with the Grand Master in front.

“Looks like we're on time for a great party... or a military parade in sweatpants,” Lucifer uttered as they got off the car slowly and faced the crowd. The Grand Master stepped forward, his bulk of a body seeming small with the expression his face was wearing right now.

“Sir,” he spoke to God, his voice somewhat choked as God was clutching his knapsack in front of his chest like an armor and eyed the man suspiciously, “we are deeply honored to welcome you in the headquarters of the Knights Templar.” He started to offer God his hand but then he changed his mind and bowed instead.

God stared at him with a deepening frown. He peeked at Lucifer who was standing one step behind Him with God's suitcase in hand and currently wearing a wide grin.

“Is he Japanese?” God whispered to his son. “He doesn't look Japanese...”

“No, I don't think he is.”

“Are we like royalty or something?”

“Not exactly.”

“So why is the gorilla bowing? And why is everybody acting so weird?”

“I have no idea.”

“Do you think these people are nuts?”

“Probably.”

“Son, what are we doing here?”

“I'm not sure...”

The Grand Master finally noticed something was very wrong and looked at Vanessa for an answer.

“He doesn't remember a thing,” Vanessa explained, “including who He is.”

“What?!” the Grand Master thundered. “How?!”

“Excuse me, young lady,” God interrupted her, “I know exactly who I am. I mean, the nurses told me. And I do remember things. Some things... like... silver turrets. Why do I remember silver turrets?”

The Grand Master stood there as did the people in line behind him, silently gaping at the man who was supposed to be God, but didn't know it... The Grand Master was so lost he looked at Lucifer for guidance.

“I think we better get in,” Lucifer suggested, “and then we will tell Him everything. Maybe it would help Him remember.”

The Grand Master nodded. “Yes, yes. This way please,” he gestured to God to go inside. The Grand Master, Lucifer, Vanessa and Johann all followed Him closely.

“Oh, cozy,” God commented with a smile, looking around the tasty interior of the above ground house.

Lucifer chuckled. Wasn't it what he had said earlier this day? “Just wait for it, Dad.”

They stepped to the closet and through the secret door entered the elevator.

“Where are we going?” God asked.

“Underground,” the Grand Master replied. “The upper part is just for a cover.”

“From what?”

“Everything.”

They went to the second floor under the ground this time.

“There are rooms for the residents,” Vanessa explained.

“We took the liberty to prepare you a guest room,” the Grand Master said as they walked through a long hall. He glimpsed at Lucifer. “For you too,” he added as an afterthought in a very different, less pleasant, not at all flattering tone. They came to the end of the hall, where two men in a black armor were standing guard, both carrying a gun and a sword. Lucifer snorted. They had let only him, Vanessa and Johann bring God here, but once in the facility, they put guards in front of His room? Was it to prevent employees to bother Him or to prevent Lucifer to get inside?

“This is your room,” the Grand Master said as he opened the door. “Please excuse the meager interior but it's the best we have.”

“Meager?” God repeated as a huge room appeared before them, tens of candles illuminating the space. “You should see the room I had in the retirement home. You wouldn't use the word 'meager' so lightly. And speaking about light, what's wrong with the electricity?” He asked and found a switch on the wall.

“Nothing,” the Grand Master admitted as the lights came on. “We just thought that... you might like it...”

“Just because you like to play with swords, young man, doesn't mean I like to play with candles. Do you know how dangerous it is? So many things can catch fire so easily.”

There was a surprise on the bed that made Lucifer grin and God frown. He pointed at the bed. “Why is there an old woman in a wedding dress?”

“What?” the Grand Master paled.

“Isn't she dead?” God asked.

“Yes,” Lucifer answered. “It's just his secretary who had decided to hunt him,” Lucifer pointed at the Grand Master. “And hello again, honey. Would you mind leaving us alone? We have things to discuss.”

The dead secretary smiled. “Anything for you, Lucifer.” Lucifer grinned again and watched as the woman walked right through the Grand Master, making him shudder.

“Dad, let's have the talk, shall we?” Lucifer asked as he put down God's suitcase, took the knapsack from His hands and put it on the bedside table. “Now, come and sit,” he indicated the bad. God did as told but frowned the whole time. Lucifer sat next to Him with the reasonable distance between them, while Vanessa, Johann and the Grand Master stood a few steps back, looking a bit lost.

“There's no easy way to tell you this, but you, Dad, aren't Mr. Stuart from Santa Fe.”

“I am not?”

“No,” Lucifer breathed, actually starting to enjoy this moment. “You aren't even human.”

“What are you suggesting, son? That I'm some kind of an animal?”

“Worse, I'm afraid. You are... God.”

God blinked. “That's not a very funny joke.”

Lucifer sighed. “I know. That's because it's not a joke. You see, there is something wrong with Heaven and you've come down on Earth to solve it, but there have been an accident. While you were taking over the body you're wearing right now, it had a stroke and its brain was damaged. Therefore you can't remember who you really are.”

“God?” God repeated, glimpsing at the other occupants of the room. They were all looking very solemnly at Him, nodding their heads slightly. “No... I'm pretty sure I'm just an ordinary man.”

“Dad, you've been seeing dead people. Do you think it's normal?”

“There are people with skills...” He protested. “I could be one of them...” He paused, obviously thinking about something. “Although, it was quite strange that I saw dead me too at the retirement home.”

“That's because it wasn't you,” Lucifer explained. “It was the original owner – Mr. Stuart.”

There was a pause in which God thought hard. “Do you realize how ridiculous it sounds?”

“Yes.” Lucifer snorted. “It doesn't mean it's not true though.”

“But I don't feel like God...” He protested vehemently. “I mean, my knees hurt, my bladder is full again and I suffer from insomnia! That doesn't feel very... Godly.”

“That's because you have a human body.”

“Why would I ever do that?”

“Because there's something wrong with Heaven as I've already told you. Pay attention! From the souls wandering the Earth it seems the Gate is closed.”

“How do you know it's not Hell's Gate that is closed?”

“Because the Gates of Hell are always open in the 'in' direction. It's not like someone would go there voluntarily. They are actually all trying to get out. But don't worry, the Gates are closed and sealed in the 'out' direction.”

God was in a deep thought again. “If I'm really God, which I really doubt, does it mean you're... the Devil?”

Lucifer smiled. “Yes.”

“So that's why we don't talk to each other...”

“Yes. You threw me out of home few millenniums ago.”

God nodded. “Why are you here then?”

“You asked me to help,” Lucifer answered with a cheeky smile.

God stared at Lucifer, clearly still not convinced.

“Listen, Dad. Believe it or not, you are God and you have a healing power. You should be able to repair the human's brain. And then you will remember everything. Just concentrate really hard and wish for your brain to... fix.”

“I think you're bullshitting me,” God replied. “Are you bullshitting me?”

Lucifer gritted his teeth. “Fine. You wish it, I dish it,” he said and turned his visage into the Devil's one.

There was a piercing scream, coming from Johann, a curse from Vanessa and a gasp from the Grand Master. But there was no reaction on God's part.

“You're not surprised, are you?” Lucifer asked. “That's because you know.”

“You're really the Devil,” God whispered and extended his arm, his hand finding its way to Lucifer's red cheek. Lucifer jerked and turned back to his human form immediately.

“At least now I know why you don't have a girlfriend,” God uttered.

“What?” Lucifer gasped. “That's not the reason! And besides we're here to solve your problem, not mine. So please, concentrate and heal yourself.”

“OK. You're one annoying son,” God mumbled but closed His eyes and did as He had been told. He opened them again after about twenty seconds and shook His head.

Lucifer sighed. “Well, keep trying.”

The Grand Master cleared his throat few minutes of unsuccessful effort on God's side. “Maybe you should get some rest, Mr.... ah... God. I'll have someone to bring you dinner. Lucifer, the guard will show your room.”

“Right,” Lucifer breathed with a smile. It looked like they didn't want him with God alone...

The Grand Master beckoned to Vanessa and Johann to follow him after Lucifer left with one of the guards.

“In my office, now,” the Grand Master said as they walked out of the hearing distance.

 

They went to the first floor under the ground and to the Grand Master's office. Once there the Grand Master sat behind his enormous oak desk while Vanessa and Johann sat opposite him, the vast, dark room swallowing them easily.

“This is a fucking disaster,” the Grand Master yelled.

“It's not our fault. Sir,” Vanessa spat.

“Do you think Lucifer is behind it?” he asked.

“Lucifer?” Johann repeated like he heard the name for the first time.

“Yes. The Devil,” the Grand Master stressed. “Do you think he may have done it?”

Vanessa glimpsed at Johann who peeked at her questioningly. “No,” they both said at the same time.

“I mean,” Johann stammered, “it wouldn't make any sense. Why would God ask for Lucifer's help if he was behind it all?”

The Grand Master nodded but he didn't look very convinced. “Anyway, we should get rid of him.”

“Rid of him?” Johann repeated like he didn't hear right. “But... he can be the only one actually able to help...”

The Grand Master nodded again, but chose not to answer. “There something else,” he said. “Paul Haley within the FBI called. Apparently there's a corpse of a murdered angel in L.A. in a police department right now.”

“What?” Vanessa frowned and looked at her boss sharply. “Do you think it's connected?”

“I don't believe in coincidences, miss Burrow,” the Grand Master said grimly. “Haley will extricate the corpse tomorrow and get it here. Don't tell Lucifer or... God about it.”

Vanessa nodded. “What are we going to do now, sir? I mean... with God. What if He doesn't remember. Like ever?”

The Grand Master flexed his hands on the table. “I don't know yet, miss Burrow. I will contact all of our bases this evening and ask for their assistance. We'll need all of our resources to solve this.”

 

Lucifer smiled as he found out his room was on the opposite end of the building. They put him as far from his Dad as they possibly could without kicking him out. And why was he still here, anyway? Oh, yes, because his Dad needed him. And wasn't it funny?

“It would be one fat IOU, Dad,” Lucifer whispered with a chuckle. Maybe he should simply take his revenge now and forget about the IOU and the closed Gate. Because it really wasn't HIS problem... BUT revenging on someone who didn't remember why he was being punished kind of took the edge out of it... Lucifer hoped God would regain His memories soon, so Lucifer could move on. One way or the other...

Lucifer looked at the bed with distaste. It looked small and uncomfortable and not welcoming at all. As he stripped to take a shower, he realized how hungry he was. Of course, he hadn't eaten anything today beside the waffles in the morning and a sandwich bought at a gas station on their way to Santa Fe. He hoped someone would bring him something to eat before he finished the shower.

He paused in front of the mirror in the bathroom, looking at his body. Most of the puncture holes the wiry net had caused had healed. Some of them looked too deep though to heal any time soon. Especially those on his back. At least his face looked almost as smooth as before.

When no dinner arrived even a half an hour after Lucifer had finished the shower, he decided to go get one. He remembered he had seen something like a kitchen somewhere on this floor. Hopefully there would be something to eat. There was no dressing gown in the room and Lucifer wasn't about to put on the clothes again. He had been wearing them the whole bloody day... He put on just his boxers and went to explore the possibilities of local cuisine.

As he walked through the hallway, voices came to his ears, the owners known to him perfectly.

“Can we just leave it till tomorrow? It's been a long day, Johann.”

“This is supposed to help you relax.”

“I'm relaxed. And besides chess is your thing. I'm more for a nice swordplay.”

“Not everything must be about violence, Vanessa.”

“Pity.”

Lucifer followed the voices and came to a large, light room, that could only be a kitchen. “Hello there,” he greeted as he entered.

Vanessa and Johann both looked at him with a surprise. A chesspiece hovered above the board, forgotten in Vanessa's fingers while she stared wide eyed at the almost naked newcomer. There was one more person in the kitchen and it was Hirschel. He was sitting in a corner, his legs and arms crossed loosely over his body, his eyes staring straight ahead. He didn't even blink when Lucifer looked at him.

“Didn't anyone tell you that staring is rude?” Lucifer asked the ancient man.

“He's asleep,” Vanessa informed him.

“What?”

“He always sleeps with his eyes open,” she explained.

Lucifer grimaced. “That brings the staring rudeness on a new level...”

“Do you... need something?” Vanessa asked, her voice quivering slightly.

“Yes. Some sustenance would be nice. A massage too, but I guess that's too much to ask...”

“The fridge,” Johann said and pointed at the other end of the room. Lucifer hurried there, his bare feet slapping loudly on the beige tiles.

“Lovely,” he acclaimed as he discovered some Chinese, fruit, milk and a bottle of rum. He grabbed it all and turned back to Vanessa and Johann, who were both staring at him appalled.

“What?” Lucifer asked as he laid the things on the table next to the fridge. “Oh, you don't like the decoration you put on my back?”

Johann pushed his glasses up his nose and stammered while Lucifer fought with the wrapping of the Chinese food. “The old scars... are they from your wings?”

“Oh! Yes, yes.”

“How did it happen?” the German asked unable to hide his curiosity.

“I asked Maze to cut them off. My demon,” Lucifer added so they would understand.

“YOU did it to yourself?” Vanessa asked.

“Yes.”

“But why?”

“Well, to get rid of the influence of my Dad. To get rid of my past.” Lucifer managed to open the box, he found utensils and glasses and with arms full he walked to the two of them, sitting down at their table. He put the rum with three glasses, the milk, his meal and the fruit on the table. They were both watching him with a new found fascination.

“If you're going to put the chesspiece down,” Lucifer pointed at Vanessa's hand as he swallowed the Chinese, “I strongly recommend you to put it on F4.” Vanessa finally looked away from Lucifer and looked down on the board between her and Johann.

“No!” Johann complained as Vanessa did just like Lucifer had said, basically ending the game in several more moves. “That doesn't count.”

“Of course it does! I win!” Vanessa exclaimed, not as happy as she tried to look.

“A nice win needs a celebration,” Lucifer drawled and opened the bottle of rum, pouring the three glasses.

“Not for me,” Vanessa said and stood up.

“Are you sure, darling?”

“Yes.”

“Maybe apple then?” Lucifer asked sweetly, extending his arm with the red fruit, waiting.

Vanessa glared at him. “NO. I'm off to bed.”

Lucifer wiggled his eyebrows. “Really?”

“Alone,” Vanessa stressed.

“Of course.” And she left.

“That girl doesn't have any sense of humor,” Lucifer complained as he pushed one glass of rum to Johann's hand. “Not that you're any better,” he added, pointing at Johann.

“I... think there are more important things in life than humor,” Johann said slowly, almost whispering as he played with the glass in his hand.

“Right!” Lucifer exclaimed loud enough to make Hirschel grunt twice before he blinked and moved on his chair.

“Welcome to the world of living,” Lucifer greeted him.

“I've never been anywhere else,” Hirschel replied.

Lucifer scowled. “I take it as a joke.” He extended his hand and offered Hirschel the shot of rum.

“I don't drink,” Hirschel informed him.

Lucifer swallowed the content of the glass and refill it, this time with the milk. “I really wish to have drink with you,” he smiled at Hirschel and offered him the milk instead. The Jew glared at the glass, then his small watery eyes focused on Lucifer again.

“I don't drink,” he repeated.

“But it's just... oh,” Lucifer finally understood, “you mean like ever.”

“I don't really need to. Dehydration won't kill me.”

“But you should try it sometime. Have you seen your face lately?” Lucifer eyed the ugly bald man with the protruding ears and long nose. “It looks like an Egyptian mummy. A little bit of water would do wonders to it.”

Hirschel took the milk hesitantly and sniffed it like it might be a poison.

Lucifer sighed. “Come on, you know you want to...”

“I don't think I do,” Hirschel replied, still staring at the shot of milk.

Lucifer looked at the man closely. He was curious about him. A human that had been alive for two thousand years... What desires such a human had? Easy enough to find out... “So what do you really want, hm? Tell me,” he commanded turning his power on.

Hirschel blinked. “I want...” he hesitated.

“Yes?”

“I want to redeem myself.”

“Oh, for Father's sake!” Lucifer yelled and drank his own shot. “You two are so much fun I want to hang myself.” He took the fruit and marched back to his room.

*******

Los Angeles, Chloe's apartment

Chloe went to bed late that night, her head still spinning with thoughts. She wondered where Maze had gone to. She hadn't returned yet...

As she closed her eyes though, finally trying to get some sleep, the memories emerged again.

- I just want to understand.

- You can't understand, Detective. And you never will.

“Go to Hell, Lucifer,” she murmured, pushing the memories back and turned on her other side.

 

She was back in the church, but this time it was empty. No police, no priest, just the dead body on the cross, hanging limply on the beautiful, white wings. The features of the woman stunning even in her death.

Who are you?” Chloe asked aloud.

She's my sister.” The answer came from the familiar voice, the man standing in front of her, his back to her, looking up at the angel.

But she's an angel,” Chloe objected.

Well, detective, the Devil used to be an angel too.”

I knew that,” Chloe said, angry at him that he thought her incapable of understanding. “Where have you been, anyway? I've been waiting for you!”

Do you think you deserve me?” he asked, still looking up at the dead woman, his back to her.

I...” Chloe faltered.

I saved your child and you, risking my life. And what have you done for me?”

I-”

He didn't let her finish. “You wouldn't even believe me when I tell you I'm the Devil. Why, detective?”

I... I don't... I mean... it's not real. There's no angels or God or Hell and Heaven.”

Or maybe you don't want it to be real because then you would have to admit that I'm evil. And we both know you can't be friends with evil.”

You're not evil,” Chloe protested. But as she said that she realized she was starting to be afraid.

Aren't I?” Lucifer asked and finally turned to her.

Chloe screamed. His face was all black, his eyes glowing maliciously and there was a pair of horns on his head.

Chloe felt someone poke her shoulder.

“Decker! Wake up!”

Chloe sat up, her arms flailing. “Maze?”

“You've been having a nightmare,” Maze said, looking worried. “You OK?”

No love handles this time... pity... “What? Yeah, yeah...”

“What was it about?”

As she stared at Maze, a memory flashed, probably induced by the stupid dream... I was forged in the bowels of Hell to torture the guilty for all of eternity.

“Decker?”

What a ridiculous thing to say... although she had no problem imagining Maze as a Hellish demon. “What? Oh, sorry.”

There was a pause while Maze was looking impatient. “So what was the dream about?”

Oh, yes, she had asked her a question... “The case.”

“It freaked you out,” Maze observed. “Can't say I'm surprised. It took Linda two weeks to get over the revelation. You should go talk to her.”

Chloe glared at her friend. Was she making fun of her? “Yeah...”

“I spoke to Amenadiel. About Azrael.”

Amenadiel! Chloe had forgotten all about him! The 'angel' was his sister too. “How did it go?”

Maze shrugged. “Big tough boy waited til I get out to run and cry on mama's shoulder,” she spat with contempt. But it seemed a little bit forced to Chloe. There was definitely something between Maze and Amenadiel... or there had been...

And the mother... yeah, Lucifer had said something about her, not that she had paid much attention to his nonsensical muttering that day.

“Get some sleep, Decker, you sure as hell need it. We'll solve the case tomorrow.”

Chloe nodded and laid back, closing her eyes, listening to Maze leave the room. What did she mean that THEY would solve the case?

*******

New Mexico, headquarters of the Knights Templar

Lucifer woke up feeling restless. The mattress was small and hard, making his night rather sleepless. Still better than the dreams though...

He wondered if Father had remembered. He would love to have a nice, informed fight with Him.

He dressed in his yesterday's clothes with disgust and walked to his Father's room. Sure enough the guards were still standing there. Or were there new ones? They all seemed the same in the sweatpants and the black armor and with the sword... so funny.

“I'm sorry, sir. We can't let you in,” one of them informed him kindly while his eyelids quivered with fear.

“Why?” Lucifer asked. “Are you afraid I would yell at Him?”

The guard opened his mouth and then he shut it again without saying anything. Lucifer considered briefly to put them out of their service for now but didn't have to as the door opened and revealed his Father's vessel – surprise, surprise – in underwear.

“Dad! Really? Have you ever heard about dignity?”

“My dignity is just fine,” God replied.

“Well, but mine is offended.”

“And good morning to you too, son.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes and pointed at His almost naked body. “I guess you still don't remember, do you?”

God shrugged. “I dreamed about a swan, if it counts... Or mean anything...”

“What?” What was He babbling about?

“Come in,” God opened the door wider and returned to His room. Lucifer glimpsed at the guards but they didn't seem in a killing mood so he stepped inside. Oh, yes, God's room AND bed was so better than his...

“I'll be right there,” God yelled from the bathroom.

No, really, the bed was wide enough for three people. Why on Earth couldn't they have given half of it to him? Lucifer noticed a wooden box on the bedside table. It had a carved lid and looked to be made of mahogany. If he remembered correctly, the box hadn't been there yesterday. Was it something his Dad had brought with Him?

Lucifer touched the box lightly and giving way to his curiosity he opened the lid. A music started to play right away:

Non, rien de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien

“Edith Piaf? Oh, lovely.”

Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait
Ni le mal; tout ça m'est bien égal!

It sounded like a very old record.

“What are you doing?” God came from the bathroom, screaming. He looked like He wanted to murder Lucifer on the spot. He hurried to the box and closed the lid carefully, clutching the box to his chest like some kind of treasure. “Do you know how old or valuable it is?”

“Well, I don't.”

“You can't just play it whenever you like!”

“What? Are you insane?”

“It's very fragile!” God yelled, patting the box like it was a puppy.

“It's just a music box. You don't have to yell at me because of it!”

“Oh, pardon me that I care about something!” God spat.

“Oh, pardon ME that I forgot you care about anything but your family!” That made God pause and calm down a bit.

“Sorry, son. It's been with me since 1981. I mean... with Peter Stuart... He was an antiquarian before he sold the shop and moved to the retirement home.”

“Right,” Lucifer breathed, “funny, you remember that...”

“I don't. The nurses told me.”

“Right.” Lucifer turned back to the door. “Fancy some breakfast?”

“I've already eaten. They have brought the meal to me.”

“Of course they did,” Lucifer mumbled and walked out, heading to the kitchen. God followed him though, His guards right on His heels.

“I've been thinking,” God said. “If they are the Knights Templar, they should have the Holy Grail, right?”

“Why? Because it was in the Indiana Jones movie?”

“Maybe... I don't know. But couldn't it heal me?”

Lucifer stopped and turned back to his Father, eying his hopeful face. The music box was still in his hands, protected like a baby. “Heal you? The Holy Grail? Very unlikely. It's just a piece of pottery. It doesn't have any magical powers.”

“But...”

“Forget the movie, Dad!”

“Oh, there you are!” They were stopped by the Grand Master with Johann at his heels. “Mr.... ehm... God. We have an idea that we would like to try. It may restore your memories.”

“Do tell,” Lucifer encouraged. The Grand Master glimpsed at him nervously.

“So?” God asked impatiently as the man kept silent. “I have no secrets before my son,” God added. Lucifer snorted... yeah, if that was true...

The Grand Master sighed. “Alright. The Holy Grail.”

“See?!” God exclaimed while Lucifer shook his head.

“It won't work.”

“No injury in trying, though,” God said. “Lead the way, young man!”

The Grand Master smiled and led God and Johann and the two guards to the elevator. God turned his head. “Aren't you coming, son?”

“Breakfast time!” Lucifer yelled as he headed to the kitchen.

“Your choice,” God whispered as He stepped inside the elevator. Johann pushed the fourth button under the ground and down they went. There was a scan between the third and the fourth floor to confirm none of them was a demon before they arrived to the final destination.

God's eyes lit as the door to the vault opened and revealed the treasure inside, the hidden memory of His vessel making Him feel ecstatic. There were artifacts in glass boxes everywhere! A piece of a linen with an imprint of a human body, a corroded weapon, a wooden stick, a mirror that had no reflection and... “Oh, you're creepy!” God exclaimed as his eyes fell on Hirschel. “Who are you?”

They introduced them quickly. Hirschel lifted one eyebrow while God whistled. The Jew extricated a small, clay cup with a small crack on top and laid it on the table before God.

“This is it?” God asked, eying the piece doubtfully.

“Yes,” the Grand Master said as he took a bottle of water and filled the cup. God laid down his music box and took the cup hesitantly, sniffing the water first.

“Cheers,” He saluted and drank the content. The Grand Master and Johann leaned closer and watched in breathless suspense what would happen next.

God frowned, then he grimaced and then a loud barb came out of his mouth. “Next time, please don't use carbonated water.”

The Grand Master clenched his teeth, obviously having a hard time not to yell. “Do you feel a change?”

“I...” God stared at the Grand Master intently.

“What is it?” the Grand Master asked, stepping closer.

“Do you know the feeling that you forgot something important you wanted to tell somebody?”

“Yes?”

“I'm having it right now. I think I really should have told Lucifer something very important.”

“Anything else?” the Grand Master pushed through his clenched teeth.

“Nada.”

“Well,” Johann sighed, “at least we tried.”

 

Lucifer found the kitchen quite busy. There were tens of people sitting, eating a speaking at the same time. The conversation died though as he walked in.

“Hello everyone,” Lucifer greeted. “What's on today's menu?” He walked to the cooker and looked inside a huge pot. Not surprisingly – since everyone was eating it – there were eggs. Lots of them. Scrambled eggs? Or boiled to mush eggs? Well, better try it than not eat at all. He filled his plate, took a slice of bread and chose to sit down next to Vanessa to her immense displeasure.

“How was your night?” Lucifer asked.

“Short,” Vanessa replied.

“Mine was hard and uncomfortable,” Lucifer said with a chuckle, “thank you for asking.”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “Any progress with... your Dad?”

“No. Still taking advantage of His memory loss. So what are we going to do today?”

Vanessa shrugged. “I have a training in an hour, then lunch, then studying and then dinner. If the Grand Master doesn't send me to a mission.”

“Can it be even more dull?” Lucifer complained.

Vanessa finished her eggs and leaned on the back of the chair, glaring at him. “I have a feeling we will have our share of action...”

“Really? And what exactly gives you the feeling, hm?”

Vanessa opened her mouth to answer but her voice was swallowed by a loud ringing noise.

“What's that?” Lucifer asked. “Your class begins?”

“No,” Vanessa breathed out, coming to her feet, looking panicked. “It's the military alarm. We're under attack.”

Chapter Text

New Mexico, headquarters of the Knights Templar

The walls of the vault reverberated with the sound of the alarm. God jerked in surprise, looking around like He expected the building to be on fire. But this was worse. “What is it?” He asked.

The Grand Master looked at Hirschel and Johann with utter disbelief. This had never happened before. “Stay here,” he commanded God and with a gesture of his hand ordered the two guards in the vault room to protect Him.

“Johann, with me.”

Johann paled but ran to the elevator with the Grand Master. Before the doors closed, they watched one of the guards shut the entrance to the vault.

“What's happening?” Johann asked, his voice trembling slightly.

“We must be under attack,” the Grand Master answered with feigned calmness.

“Do you think it's because of God?”

“As I said before, Johann, I don't believe in coincidences.”

 

Vanessa ran off like a hellhound was chasing her. Lucifer left the eggs untouched as he jumped off the chair. Something bad must be going on and Lucifer wasn't about to miss it. He caught up with Vanessa at the elevator.

“Shit!” the girl cursed. “It's being used!” She pushed the button several times but it was useless.

“Any other way out?” Lucifer asked.

“The stairs!” Vanessa cried and started to run through the long hall. She entered a door on her left that led to a concrete, very spartan stairway. There was only one way to go – up – as the stairway didn't lead anywhere else. They weren't alone, dozens of soldiers followed them up closely, zipping up their vests and withdrawing their guns while they were running.

“What about the people in the lower levels?” Lucifer yelled. “How will they get up? And why do the stairs end at the second floor anyway?”

“Security!” Vanessa called back as she passed a flight of steps. “The stairs lead only to the second floor because the soldiers reside there. They can get out quickly in a state of emergency. Like now!”

They came to the first floor and went through the door while the soldiers continued to run up. They were on the first level underground now where the open office was situated. They almost bumped into the Grand Master and Johann as they came out from the elevator. They all hurried to where the technicians with their computers were seated.

“Report!” the Grand Master yelled harshly, making the walls vibrate. “And someone turn off the fucking alarm!”

“We have several dozen, maybe even hundreds of attackers coming from all directions, sir!” a technician sitting at a computer reported as the alarm finally died.

“Visual?” the Grand Master demanded.

The technician nodded vehemently. “Working on it, sir. They seem to have destroyed several cameras and-” he stopped talking as one of the cameras showed them the outside world above.

“Jesus,” the Grand Master breathed out as the silent movie played before their eyes. There was a swarm of people outside the stone walls, trying to get in. The guards at the walls were firing like crazy, but their attackers kept coming.

“Well, this looks interesting,” Lucifer drawled. “I wonder what they might want...” he looked at the Grand Master meaningfully.

“God is safe here,” the Grand Master answered absentmindedly, still focusing on the screen. “Send all we have out there,” he commanded the technician.

“You know,” Lucifer started again, “I wonder how they learned about Him being here in the first place...”

The huge man looked at Lucifer sharply. “What are you suggesting?”

“That you have a mole. And I'm not talking about the furry animal.”

“I can personally vouch for everyone here!”

“What about other people?!” Lucifer asked.

“What other people?”

“Internet provider? Postmen? Prostitutes?”

The Grand Master frowned ferociously, obviously ready to yell something back but then he changed his mind, his head clearing. “I sent a request for assistance to the other bases of the Knights Templar yesterday...” he whispered.

“Oh, that's great!” Lucifer commented, looking back to the screen where the siege was relentless. “Let's hope you have more bullets than they have lives. I mean isn't it a little weird that they don't have guns... their weapon to person ratio is even worse than the Russians' during World War I.”

“Guys,” Vanessa whispered as she watched the screen intently. “I don't think they're human.”

“What?” Lucifer snapped and looked closer, the truth dawning on him. How could he have not seen it sooner? Maybe because it was completely impossible? But it was there, wasn't it?

“Mein Gott!” Johann exclaimed. “Are they...”

“Demons,” Vanessa supplied. She turned and ran, heading outside to join the fight.

“Is this your doing?” the Grand Master thundered, looking at Lucifer sharply with murder in his eyes.

My doing?” Lucifer repeated, incredulous. “Of course, something goes wrong and the Devil must be behind it! Believe it or not, most of the demons actually hate me! They certainly wouldn't die for me voluntarily. Not to mention that I have been here the whole time! When should I have orchestrated it, hm? When I was scrounging for dinner last night? And besides, if I wanted to get my Dad, I would have simply got rid of Vanessa and Johann on our way here. It wouldn't have been a problem!”

“Fine, fine, I get it,” the Grand Master growled.

“Mein Gott,” Johann repeated, staring at the screen. The demons didn't stop coming, on the contrary, their numbers seemed to grow. “It's like the Gates of Hell are open...” Johann turned to Lucifer. “Can they be?”

“No, no, no, it's not possible.” At least it was improbable... “They are guarded...” Well, they had been until he and Amenadiel had taken a vacation. “And sealed...” Unless someone managed to break it... But if they were still closed, how had the demons managed to get out? There was something else whispering in Lucifer's brain, insisting to be heard...

“Where is my Father?”

“We left Him in the vault,” the Grand Master replied. “It's the safest place here. No demon can get in.”

“What if a demon did get in? Would we know?”

“Of course. The alarm would start.”

“Unless someone shut it off,” Lucifer uttered and frowned. Because that was exactly what the Grand Master had done. And what were the demons trying to do anyway? They couldn't get over the walls... not with the soldiers’ guns blazing at them. Unless that wasn't their goal. Unless...

“Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled, finally realizing what his subconscious had been trying to tell him. “It's just a diversion. They're already down there!” He turned and started to run to the elevator.

“What?” the Grand Master asked, not comprehending. He chose to follow Lucifer as did Johann. They got to the elevator and Lucifer pressed the lowest button. Nothing happened as the tiny screen didn't accept his fingerprint. He grabbed Johann's hand and pressed his finger on it.

“Talk to me!” the Grand Master screamed.

“If the Gates are really open, well, it includes the one in the vault. You remember the artifact you think is a pretty, magical, reflectionless mirror? Well, it's not. It's a portable Gate to Hell. Or out of Hell.”

“What?” Johann and the Grand Master exclaimed at the same time.

“And you're telling us now?” the Grand Master thundered.

“When should I tell you? Tomorrow?”

I have begun the scan. Please wait, the elevator informed them between the third and the fourth floor.

“Bloody hell! Really? Can't we skip it?”

“No. It's an automatic safety protocol,” the Grand Master said. “It prevents any demons getting down there.”

“Oh, how useful...”

The elevator moved again and before it landed the sound of shooting reached their ears. The Grand Master pulled his gun from the holster on his belt while Johann looked like he would stain his trousers at any moment.

The Grand Master entered his code at the door and the vault opened to reveal chaos. One of the guards was wounded, lying on the ground but still firing all around him, the other had his sword in his hands and was very busy trying to fight two demons at the same time. The demons may have not carried any guns but they had swords, knives and cutting weapons of various sizes and shapes. And they knew how to use them. There were already a dozen demons in the room and more were coming in through the mirror. Pieces of smashed glass from the glass cases of the artifacts were crunching under their feet. They were lying everywhere, making the floor glint.

Lucifer noticed Hirschel was sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall and clutching his palm to his abdomen. In his other hand he held one of the artifacts, a very rusty spear-like weapon. It was covered in blood indicating that the Jew had actually used it. A red stain was coloring Hirschel's clothes while his face had taken on the color of paper.

“Lucifer!” God yelled, hiding behind the two guards just to the right of the door. Holding His stupid music box as a shield in front of Himself, He tried to fight one of the demons who had got too close.

“Hold the elevator!” the Grand Master yelled at Johann and started to fire at the nearest demons, finding his way to God's side.

“First things first,” Lucifer muttered as he stepped inside. He went straight through the middle of the room, not bothered by the flying bullets around him. He felt some of them hit him and bounce off, only hurting slightly.

The first demon he encountered didn't know who his opponent was until it was too late. Lucifer hit him twice in quick succession and took his sword from him. He hit him on the head with the hilt and the demon fell to the ground. Lucifer had barely enough time to block a swing from another demon which would probably have killed him. The demons had come well prepared; their weapons were blades forged in Hell, able to do a lot of damage... even to him. He cut the next demon's leg off and got a step closer to the mirror. He needed something divine... He smashed the glass protecting the stones with the Ten Commandments, sending more shards of glass to the floor, and grabbed one of them. He kicked another demon who approached him and then hurried to the mirror, through which another demon was squeezing in quickly. He swung the stone with all his might into the mirror, the force shattering it into a thousand pieces, shutting the Gate instantly and cutting the unfortunate demon in half as the portal closed.

Lucifer turned to assess the situation. The second guard was down. Only the Grand Master was now standing between the rest of the demons and his Father who had just hit a demon with the old music box. It fell from his hands with the impact and the lid broke off as the box met the ground. The arresting music of Edith Piaf filled the room...

Non, rien de rien (No, absolutely nothing)

Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing)

Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait (Whether it's the good it's been done to me...)

Ni le mal; tout ça m'est bien égal! (Or the bad, it's all the same to me!)

“My music box!” God cried like someone was murdering Him. Which could happen at any time, Lucifer thought. He picked up a long knife and hurried to help his Dad.

“We need to get you out of here!” the Grand Master yelled and grabbed God by His arm as He tried to get to the music box that had been kicked to the corner of the room.

“But my music box!”

“We need to go!” the Grand Master yelled and pushed God behind his back, herding him out of the room. He was out of bullets now and had to pick up the dead guard's sword. “Johann! Get Him in the elevator!”

Non, rien de rien (No, absolutely nothing)

Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing)

C'est payé, balayé, oublié (It's been paid back, swept away, forgotten)

Je me fous du passé! (I don't give a damn about the past!)

Lucifer hurried to help them, with one long elegant swing and duck he got behind most of the demons and blocked their way to the vault. There weren't so many of them left, only six or so, but most of them were facing Lucifer now.

With a little help from Johann, the Grand Master managed to push God to the elevator and kill the last demon in their way. The rest of them were held at bay by Lucifer. For now.

The Grand Master pushed the button to the ground floor.

“What are you doing?!” God yelled and stopped the doors from closing with his fingers. The Grand Master grabbed His wrists and pulled roughly, releasing the doors.

“Lucifer's still there!” God tried to fight him but the Grand Master was a huge man.

“He's immortal,” the Grand Master rumbled, staring at Johann with warning as the German started to open his mouth in protest.

“Lucifer!”

Lucifer turned to see the doors of the elevator close quickly. They were leaving him there... Not caring if he lived or died. He knew he shouldn't be surprised but...

“NO!” God cried and kicked the Grand Master in the shin. But the doors had already closed and even hammering on the lowest button didn't stop the elevator from going up.

Avec mes souvenirs (With my memories)

J'ai allumé le feu (I've lit up the fire)

Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs (My sorrows, my pleasures)

Je n'ai plus besoin d'eux! (I don't need them any more!)

“Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled as he realized they weren't coming back. They had left him there. Alone. Well, with Hirschel. And the demons... Many demons. Lucifer hated killing but in this situation it couldn’t be helped. He fought as best as he could, but he had only two hands and one weapon.

He cut and stabbed and then suddenly felt a very sharp pain in his back. He turned to kill the demon behind him, unwisely turning his back to the one in front. Another sharp pain, another stab. His knees gave way and he fell to the glinting floor covered with shards of glass. He managed to lift his hand, blocking another stab with his own flesh.

“Aaargh!” A searing pain exploded in the right side of his chest as he was stabbed from behind with something very sharp, the weapon piercing his lung.

Lucifer fell to his side, clutching the wound with a bleeding hand. The demons lost interest in him after he went down and ran to the elevator. They started wildly banging on the doors.

Balayées les amours (The beloved ones' been swept)

Et tous leurs trémolos (With their trembling voices)

Balayés pour toujours (Swept away forever)

Je repars à zéro (I'm starting all over again)

Lucifer blinked. A stream of blood coming from his forehead found its way into his eye, blinding him partially. He blinked again, seeing Hirschel's blank eyes. He knew the Jew couldn't be dead since he was immortal, probably more so than Lucifer himself. But he looked dead to him...

Non, rien de rien (No, absolutely nothing)

Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing)

Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait (Whether it's the good it's been done to me...)

Ni le mal; tout ça m'est bien égal! (Or the bad, it's all the same to me!)

And thinking about death... Lucifer took a shaky breath which started a bout of violent coughing as his lung was quickly filling with his own blood. Not this again... at least he knew he wouldn't be stuck on Earth as his soul would go straight to Hell. Once again... Maybe he would be able to find out what was going on down there and stop it... Because demons on Earth? It was too much even for him...

Non, rien de rien (No, absolutely nothing)

Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing)

Car ma vie, car mes joies (Because my life, because my joys)

Aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi (Today, they begin with you)

Lucifer coughed again in a desperate effort to get some oxygen into his body. No luck though... the song was finally ending, the last tones dying magnificently to the banging of the demons... And then there was silence.

But something changed in the air… Even the demons stopped banging on the doors like they could feel it too. Lucifer certainly did - the eerie electricity humming around the walls. He blinked again, focusing on the box, lying innocently in the corner of the room. There was a whirl of light coming from the silent music box, growing quickly, building and accumulating, almost like a cloud before a storm.

“Oh, no,” Lucifer whispered as he recognized what he was seeing. “Hell, no!” he rasped as the light took the form of a ball and came alive, leaving the box completely and soaring higher until it found a target. Lucifer closed his eyes as the energy ball hit him square in his chest, driving deeply into him.

 

The elevator got God, Johann and the Grand Master to the ground floor rather quickly. As the doors opened to the hidden space in the closet, they came face to face with Vanessa.

“Report?” the Grand Master yelled over the noise of nearby firing.

“The demons got through the northern wall. They broke the gate! We’re in retreat!”

The Grand Master nodded. “South it is. Let's get to the helicopter.”

“But it’s just next to the gate,” Vanessa pointed out. “What if the demons break through?”

“The gate will hold!”

Vanessa doubted it. “I'm sorry sir, but wouldn't it be safer in the vault?”

“We've come from the vault. It's full of demons.”

“What?!”

“No time to explain. Let's go!”

“But... where is Lucifer?” Vanessa asked, looking from one man to another.

“They left him down there,” God complained. “We should go back for him.”

“No time,” the Grand Master yelled and dragged God behind him who tried to resist him once again.

“Listen, young man,” God started in an authoritative tone, “if I'm God, I'm like the... the... commander of... everything. And I say we go back for my son.”

“No!” the Grand Master refused. “You are our absolute priority. We need to get you to safety and help you heal. Then you can repair everything. Even save your son.”

“Are you sure?” God asked as the big man dragged Him along behind. “Because I'm not. I really think we should go back...” But the Grand Master didn't pay any attention to Him and simply kept walking.

“Sir?” Vanessa began tentatively.

“Let's move, Miss Burrow,” the Grand Master thundered. They hurried to the helicopter waiting for them just next to the iron gate. The demons were all gone, presumably to get in through the breached wall at the other end of the complex. It was their chance to escape. If they hurried they could get to the helicopter unnoticed.

 

Lucifer tried to breathe but he couldn't. It was too much. Too much energy, too much divinity, too much grace. It wasn't his. It could only be his Father's. But why had the silly old duffer stashed it in a stupid music box?

Lucifer's body vibrated with the unwanted energy, its power quickly repairing every cell in him like all his wounds were just silly scratches, returning him to his former, glorious self, to the time before his Fall. It felt nice. He felt nice. And strong. Too strong. No, his body couldn't hold this for long. His body wasn't made for God's power.

But he couldn't let it out. No, it would do terrible damage. This building wouldn't withstand the power. It would crumble like a house of cards and kill everyone inside. Maybe he could get it back into the box somehow? But the lid was broken...

Ah... he felt so hot. Like he was burning. It wasn't pleasant anymore. Not a bit.

Lucifer opened his eyes finally but all he could see was light coming from his body. It was so bright it made the demons scream in agony, baking them alive.

No, there was no way he could hold this inside... It would tear him apart. And then it would tear the building apart anyway.

With a long scream and one swift surge he let out all the surplus power his body couldn't absorb. The building shook like there was an earthquake, the walls and ceiling cracked and the whole thing exploded, the pieces of concrete, metal, glass and wood flying up like they were nothing.

 

“We really should go back for Lucifer,” God complained once again as the Grand Master pulled Him to the helipad. Vanessa shot two demons who appeared behind the iron gate and tried to climb over, and then hurried to the helicopter.

“Are you listening to me?” God yelled and pulled, managing to release Himself from the Grand Master's clutches. He turned and started to run back to the mansion.

“Come back!” the Grand Master bellowed as he hurried after Him. His last word was swallowed by a low-pitched rumble followed by a massive explosion, lifting the vast mansion in the air like it weighed no more than a doll house.

They all fell to the ground, covering their heads instinctively as debris of various sizes flew over them. The thunder sounded one more time as the collapsing building fell back to the ground in a huge, shapeless heap of rubble. And then there was silence.

One heartbeat, two... Vanessa blinked the dust from her eyes and looked around. Her ears were ringing, her eyes watering. What had happened?

She found Johann lying next to her, bruised and shaken, but alive. She got to her feet and looked harder. Thick gray dust was hovering in the air, slowly falling down and covering what once had been a perfect English lawn. The house was gone completely, the huge iron gate fell from its hinges, only parts of the walls stood intact. And the helicopter as well. They could still get away... thank God... “God!” Where was He? She hurried back and found the Grand Master lying limp and bloody under a huge piece of stone. She knelt beside the body and checked the pulse. Nothing. Well, so much for their helicopter plan now that the pilot was dead.

“Argh.”

“God?” Vanessa hurried to another heap of a body covered in dust but this one was thankfully still alive.

“I should have stayed in the retirement home,” God complained as Vanessa helped Him to His feet. “What happened?” He asked before He took a look. “Oh, hell!”

“Yeah,” Vanessa couldn't disagree.

“My son?”

Vanessa didn't know what to say. Anyone who had been in the building was probably dust now. But how had this happened?

“Your boss said that he was immortal. He must be. He's my son. And angels are immortal, right?”

Vanessa gulped. “I'm not so sure.”

“Vanessa!” Johann called, his voice full of worry. Vanessa turned to find some of the demons had survived the explosion. Of course...

“Come on!” she yelled and grabbed God by the sleeve. There was still the SUV somewhere on the other side of the fallen gate. They could use it. If they got to it in time.

No, no such luck. The demons were quickly narrowing the gap, teeth bared and weapons ready. They would never make it.

“Get in the helicopter and lock it!” Vanessa ordered Johann and God and they did just that. She took out her gun and fired at the approaching demons. Hopefully the blast had killed most of them and she would simply shoot the rest. Click, click... “No!” Out of bullets, Vanessa unsheathed her machete and swung it at the first demon who came close enough. And then there was another and another...

 

By some miracle, the room Lucifer and Hirschel were in hadn't collapsed completely, leaving a small space above the ground. It was barely high enough for Lucifer to get on his knees and crawl slowly to Hirschel, who was still sitting in the same position, clutching his abdomen with one hand and the ancient weapon with the other. He almost looked like everything going on around him didn't matter. Everything about Hirschel seemed dead, except for one thing; the bloodied spear wasn't rusty anymore. On the contrary, it looked brand new and it had a glow about it that whispered of its hidden power and supernatural origin. It gently illuminated the ruins of the room, giving it an eerie mood. Lucifer guessed that God's divinity had got into the weapon somehow and repaired it just like it had repaired him.

“Hirschel? Can you move?”

“Maybe. But I won't try if you don't mind,” the old man whispered.

“Right. I'm gonna get us out of here.”

The Jew blinked, “How? There are four levels of ruins above us.”

“I acquired something very useful during that unpleasant little incident.” Lucifer reached the man and pressed his body to his chest, catching him around his torso with one arm. He needed the other free. “Hold the Spear for me, will you? It could get handy.”

“Aye,” Hirschel replied and got a better hold on the weapon. The ruins groaned and the ceiling moved slightly. Lucifer took a deep breath, knowing he must be quick about this. Take a hard leap and not stop until they were free.

“Alright. Here we go,” he whispered and did what he hadn't done for more than five years. With a strong push of his legs he leapt into the air, spread his wings and with powerful downstrokes moved up through the collapsed ceiling and floors, through the ruins, pushing through the masses with his free arm.

 

Vanessa was swinging her weapon quickly and masterfully, but she was getting out of breath. There were too many of them. Too many to kill. She stood no chance. She was done, she knew it. The demons pushed her away from the helicopter, climbing on the machine and shaking it in an effort to get in. The lock wouldn't hold long now. They would get in and take God and kill her and Johann. They were done. They were...

There was a rumble behind her and the attacking demons suddenly stopped and took a step back, their eyes growing wide. Vanessa knew she shouldn't but she risked a glance behind her and her jaw dropped. “Holy shit!” The silhouette of a man covered in dust was hovering above the ruins on the greatest and whitest wings Vanessa had ever seen, the appendages miraculously free of any dust. And then the man swooped down and Vanessa realized there was another person in the man's arms.

They landed a safe distance behind her, and the demons backed up another step.

“I’ll take that now,” Lucifer told Hirschel as he laid him down carefully and took the Spear from him.

“Lucifer?” Vanessa breathed, still not believing what she was seeing.

“What? You thought that if you left me to die, I’d just do it?” he snapped as he took a leap, flapping his wings and landing between Vanessa and the demons. “Now we play,” Lucifer whispered, eager to see what the mysterious weapon could do.

Two of the demons looked at each other and with their swords attacked Lucifer at the same time. But they couldn't get close enough, the Spear being longer than their swords. As Lucifer swung the weapon, he felt power vibrate through it and although it barely scratched the two attackers, they both exploded in flames and screams, their scorched bodies falling to the ground. At the sight the rest of the demons took flight, scattering in all directions.

“Oh!” Lucifer exclaimed, surprised by the result. “Lucifer likes...” He eyed the weapon with interest. He had no idea what it was or where it came from but he was definitely keeping it. “And what Lucifer likes, Lucifer takes...”

The door of the helicopter opened and a dusty figure jumped out, running straight to Lucifer. He hugged him tightly, not minding the weapon or the extra limbs.

“What...?” Lucifer caught his breath and endured the embrace bravely.

“They said you were immortal,” God said, finally letting go of His son and taking a step back, “but I must admit I had some doubts about it.”

“Oh, really?” Lucifer glanced at Johann, who was standing next to the helicopter, swaying slightly on his feet, looking scared and embarrassed at the same time. “And here I thought you left me there on purpose. You know, hoping one of the demons would kill me...”

“I... I...” Johann stammered, “I only followed orders, I...”

“Of course you did,” Lucifer snapped, putting his wings away.

“Wait!” God yelled, looking from Johann to Lucifer. “The demons could have killed you?”

“Not the demons, but their weapons, yes.”

“You lied to me?!” God thundered at Johann who seemed to shrink under the accusation.

“I... I followed orders,” the German repeated in a tight, small voice.

“Is that supposed to be an excuse?” God yelled. “You knew Lucifer could die and still you left him there?!”

“What are you doing?” Lucifer asked, confused, his anger at Johann forgotten for now.

“What do you mean?” God asked, perplexed.

“Why are you on my side?”

“What?” God still looked like He didn't understand what Lucifer was asking about. “You're my son. On whose side should I be? That liar's?” He pointed in Johann's direction.

Lucifer stared at his Father in disbelief. Was He making fun of him? Had He been only pretending the memory loss and simply having fun at his expense?

“Guys,” Vanessa interrupted the awkward moment. They all looked at her. She was crouching next to Hirschel who looked like he could use a week in hospital. “We should get out of here. The demons could return to finish the job. We can argue later.”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed, taking a deep breath and pushing the anger away with a formidable effort. “Let's take the chopper.”

“We can't,” Vanessa replied. “Unless you can fly it. Our pilot is dead,” she pointed at the body of the Grand Master, lying nearby.

“No, I can't,” Lucifer admitted. “The car it is then,” he looked at the SUV covered in gray dust. “Although it will be a little uncomfortable with all five of us squeezing in... Oh, I have an idea! We can leave one behind, maybe...” he drawled, pretending to think before his finger pointed at Johann, “You! What do you say?”

Johann started to stammer, unable to articulate one word.

“We're leaving no-one behind,” Vanessa said with no room for arguing. “Help me with Hirschel,” she said to Johann and the German moved, avoiding Lucifer's accusing gaze.

While Vanessa and Johann helped Hirschel to the car, Lucifer looked around the carnage and found several souls hanging around, looking disoriented, the Grand Master among them. He looked at Lucifer and recognition lit his face. “What's happened? Why is the building... down?”

“Demons,” Lucifer replied. “They found out about my Dad somehow. And they killed you.”

The Grand Master frowned. “Hell!”

“Not really. You're going up once the Gate is open again. Which, I must admit, surprises me.”

“How could this have happened?”

“I bet there’s a Judas in your ranks… Wonder what my Father’s worth is...”

“No, not possible!” the Grand Master protested. “Anyway, we must prevail despite these horrible events.”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed. “You know what? You prevail here while the rest of us still living will sort this out, alright?”

“Here?” the man repeated with confusion.

“Yes. Just wait here and... we'll be right back,” Lucifer assured him and hurried to the car. The last thing he needed was a soul haunting them… especially this useless tosser...

Lucifer squeezed in the back with Johann and God and the divine weapon, leaving the passenger seat to Hirschel to rest comfortably.

“Where do we go now?” Vanessa asked.

“The nearest base of the Knights Templar is in Durango in Mexico,” Johann suggested.

“Which,” Lucifer said, “is exactly where we're NOT going. Do I have to remind you that you probably have a mole in your organization?”

There was a moment of silence in the car before Vanessa asked the obvious question. “Where should we go then?”

“Los Angeles,” Lucifer replied without hesitation. “There are... people who could help us figure this out.”

Vanessa turned to look at him. “Like your demon bartender?”

Former bartender,” Lucifer corrected. “And yes, her. And others...”

Vanessa was looking at him uncertainly. “Are you sure about this? I mean the demons probably know where your place is...”

“We're not going to my place, darling. And I bet they would never think to look for God in the Devil's lair anyway.”

Vanessa looked at the other passengers and when no-one seemed to protest, she started the engine and steered the car west.

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, Chloe’s apartment

Chloe woke up after a restless night still tired, and with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. The dream she’d had about Lucifer had disturbed her quite a lot. It was silly - the red-eyed, horned monster she had seen in the nightmare - but it had felt so vivid. And just remembering it brought a wave of fear. But of what? She certainly wasn’t afraid of Lucifer, was she?

She found Maze in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Again. For all of them, including Trixie. Today it was cornflakes with milk. Nothing to burn... thank God!

“I'm going with you,” Maze informed her matter of factly. That’s right, she had said last night that they would solve the case of the dead angel together. Chloe actually didn't mind. She could certainly use her help.

They dropped Trixie off at the school and continued to the precinct.

“Listen, Maze,” Chloe started, “I've been thinking. If the dead ang...” she stopped in the middle of the word.

Maze smiled, amused. Decker was still refusing to call things as they were? Still hoping the world was made just of atoms and following the laws of physics?

“If the dead woman,” Chloe started anew, “is really Lucifer's sister, then Lucifer and Amenadiel might be in danger too.”

Maze looked at her companion sharply. She hadn't thought about that... “Good thinking, Decker. I’d better warn Amenadiel.” She texted him immediately. She may not be his friend any more but still, she didn't want anything bad to happen to him.

“What about Lucifer?” Chloe asked. “Can you contact him?” She had never asked the question before. And she wasn't sure why. Maybe because she didn't want Maze to know how desperately she wanted him back? How much she wanted things to be like before?

“No. If I could contact him I would have done it a long time ago. Can't you?”

Chloe avoided Maze’s eyes when she answered, “I tried to track him by his phone’s GPS when I discovered him gone, but he left his phone in the penthouse.”

Maze wasn’t surprised by Chloe’s admission. She just wondered how many days it had taken her before she’d tried to find him.

“What about police toys?” Maze asked.

Chloe nodded. “I can try to locate him by his car’s license plate. I guess he wouldn’t leave the Corvette behind,” she replied bitterly.


When they arrived at the precinct, there was an unpleasant surprise waiting for them. People with 'FBI' on their uniforms were moving a body from the precinct to a waiting vehicle. Chloe had a feeling that it was her case they were taking over... She hurried inside and found Lieutenant Monroe near her desk, talking to a tall, dark skinned man in a black suit.

“Lieutenant? What's going on?” she asked, although she already knew.

“Decker, this is special agent Paul Haley.” The tall lanky man offered her his hand. He couldn't be that old, probably in his early forties, yet all of his hair was completely white. It made a striking contrast with his very dark skin.

“Nice to meet you, detective. I'm taking over your case with the Jane Doe.”

Chloe nodded. “Why?”

“We are investigating several very similar murders across the US. It appears to be the same killer. We've been tracking him for a while now.”

“Bullshit!” Maze yelled, making Chloe jump. She had forgotten she wasn't alone.

“And you are...?” the FBI agent drawled, contempt evident on his face.

“Mazikeen Smith,” Maze snapped, not offering her hand.

“Miss Smith is a very talented bounty hunter who works closely with us,” the lieutenant explained hastily, probably to justify her presence here. She couldn't afford to look incompetent in front of the FBI.

“Is she?” the FBI agent asked, the question only rhetorical as he eyed Maze suspiciously. It almost seemed to Maze that the contempt was added with a bit of fear.

“I am!” Maze stated. “And I'm telling you that what you're saying is bullshit! There can't be-”

“Maze!” Chloe stopped her before she said something they would both regret. “I'm sure the agent knows what he's talking about. So, the other victims, did they have wings too?”

The man frowned. “Some of them,” he said carefully.

“So... someone is murdering angels?” Chloe asked, fishing for information and trying to look innocent in the process.

The agent boomed with laughter, but it sounded somewhat false. “You don't believe in such creatures, do you?”

Chloe shrugged. “Some people do. And honestly, after what I saw yesterday, I think I'm starting to believe too.”

“Miss Decker-”

“It's detective,” Chloe corrected him.

The man sighed, “Detective Decker, these murdered people are just that – people. It seems they are part of a sick sect, whose members have been experimenting with stem cells. They made things grow on living people. Like wings for example.”

“I see,” Chloe nodded, not believing a word the man was saying. She glanced at Maze who was wearing the expression she always wore right before she hit someone.

“Thank you for all of your hard work, but we'll take it from here,” Agent Haley said. Chloe didn't say anything, thinking it wise to keep silent. The man was lying through his teeth and she didn't know why. Was it because the Feds needed to cover something up? Or was it because they knew that the angel was Lucifer's sister and that Lucifer had been working with the LAPD? Did they think he had something to do with the murder?

*******

Somewhere on the road from New Mexico to Arizona

Lucifer squirmed uncomfortably, squeezed in the back seat with God and Johann. It didn’t help they were all covered in dust, and they’d all started to itch the moment they’d left the former headquarters of the Knights Templar.

They were driving in silence for what seemed like an eternity, yet according to the clock on the dashboard it had barely been thirty minutes. This time though Lucifer didn't mind the silence since it let him ponder about the events of the past hour and the radical change they had brought. There were too many questions and he couldn't answer any of them. When he had signed up for the much needed distraction he had had no idea it would turn into such a disaster.

This time it was Vanessa who disturbed the quietness first. “Will you tell us what happened? How did the place blow up? And how is it you have wings? I thought you didn't have them any more...”

Lucifer sighed. “It was the music box.”

“What music box?”

“My music box,” God replied. “With Edith Piaf. I loved that song.”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed, “quite divine. Literally... During the fight in the vault the lid broke and the music started to play. It turned out that it was a protective box where Father stashed all of His divinity.”

“Really?” God asked.

“Yes!” Lucifer hissed.

“Why would I do that?”

“I have no idea, Dad. But the thing is, you can't actually cure the body you're wearing and access your memory because all of your divinity was in that box and is gone now, which makes you as useless as an ordinary human.”

“Huh, can’t say I’m too disappointed,” God said. “The attempts to heal me were pretty exhausting.”

There was a rumble from Vanessa following the statement but Lucifer didn't notice, being busy staring at his Dad in disbelief.

“So what exactly happened to God’s divinity?” Vanessa asked.

“It got out and found the nearest target able to support it, the target being, unfortunately, me.”

“That's how you got your wings back,” Johann whispered.

“If I were talking to you, which I'm not,” Lucifer scowled at the man, “I would say yes. Unfortunately my body wasn't made to withstand God's divinity. I... I couldn't hold it all and some of it got out and...”

“Boom?” God supplied.

“Yes.”

“What about the weapon?” Vanessa looked at the spear, resting between Lucifer and God.

“You tell me,” Lucifer said. “It was one of YOUR artifacts.”

“The Spear of Destiny,” Hirschel whispered from the passenger seat.

Lucifer snorted. “Hardly. This is obviously of divine origin, while the Spear of Destiny was a... well, just an ordinary spear… I think. I mean where would an ordinary soldier get a divine spear? Not to mention he really didn’t need one to stab Jesus with as the poor sod was quite mortal...”

“You don't know what it is?” Vanessa asked, needing to be sure she understood.

“No,” Lucifer admitted. “All I know is that it can absorb some of God's divinity and... well... kill demons ridiculously easily. And it's pretty of course.” He took a closer look at the weapon. It had a silver handle, long enough to be held comfortably in both hands. There was an inscription, snaking around it from end to end, in a language even Lucifer couldn't read. Which meant that it was from before his time. The writing was a steel blue color, glowing slightly on a silver background. At the end of the handle was a long, leaf-shaped blade with tiny vein-like lines adorning it. It glowed the same bluish color as the inscription. No, certainly not the Spear of Destiny...

“So now you’re like...” Vanessa interrupted the silence again, “an updated Devil? Lucifer 2.0 or something?”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean now that you have God’s divinity, can you do any godly stuff?”

“God no, thank you,” Lucifer replied, realizing these people had no idea what divinity was or how it worked. “Think of divinity as a… kind of energy. It’s just something that...”

“Powers you up?” Vanessa supplied.

“In a way.”

“So it’s like a battery.”

“More or less. Its primary function is to restore things to their elemental self and keep it that way. But the powers it feeds are mine and mine only. I can’t use the divinity in any other way. I can’t just change what I can do.”

Vanessa nodded. “Therefore the superabundance and the explosion.”

“Oh, I understand now!” God exclaimed. “You were like the little fluffy bunny from that commercial, where you used to run on ordinary batteries and then suddenly got my Energizer battery and you had to run too fast and caught fire.”

“A fluffy… what?!” Lucifer yelled. “Do I have to remind you that it’s all your fault this has happened? If you’d told me about the box-”

“You knew about the box!” God yelled.

“Just that it was a stupid music box, nothing more!”

“Well, son, I couldn’t-”

“What about the demons?” Vanessa interrupted, not needing to witness yet another pointless squabble. “Where did they come from?”

“Hell, of course,” Lucifer replied, focusing on the girl.

“They can do that? Just... walk out whenever they want to?”

“No,” Lucifer admitted. “They actually can't. Someone must have opened a Gate. Or Gates... You see, they are usually locked and sealed to prevent things like this.”

“So,” Vanessa took a deep breath, reaching the only logical solution, “the Gate of Heaven is closed and the Gates of Hell are open?”

“Looks like it,” Lucifer answered. “Bloody hell, what a mess! Really, Dad, what have you done?!”

“Me?” God asked, affronted. “I haven't done anything... at least I don’t think I have...”

“If we can't give God back His memory,” Johann began with a slightly trembling voice, “What are we going to do now? How do we undo whatever has happened?”

“If I were talking to you,” Lucifer started, “I would tell you that is an excellent question. The thing is demons aren't creatures of discipline or order. And they certainly don’t tend to gather and join for a common cause. They're kind of ‘every demon for themselves creatures. Which means that someone must be leading them. Someone with access to Hell, and the capability to convince all these bloody demons to follow him. Or her...”

“Any tips?” Vanessa asked.

Lucifer thought for a long time, counting the creatures which could have this power. “Two or three. But... I really don't know what they might want. I mean, trying to get my Father? That's one big ambition. And for what purpose? To make a trophy of Him? Stuff Him like a dead parrot and display Him for everyone to see?”

“That’s disgusting, son.”

“I know… who would want to look at you?”

“Do you think,” Johann whispered, avoiding looking at Lucifer, “the same someone is behind the closing of Heaven's Gate? And is trying to prevent God from fixing it?”

Lucifer shook his head. “Impossible. No-one from Hell is able to enter Heaven or even get near Heaven's Gate. Except, maybe...” he hesitated. Lucifer really didn't want to finish the thought because he couldn't even think about a possibility like this.

“What?” God prodded.

Lucifer wet his lips. “Besides God, only angels have access to both Heaven and Hell... but they wouldn't... do this. They wouldn't... betray Dad.”

There was a silence. No-one wanted to point out that it had happened before – an angel rebelling against his Father...

Vanessa looked into the rearview mirror and met Johann's gaze. “We should tell them,” she whispered. Johann whimpered and shook his head.

“Tell us what?” Lucifer asked, looking from Vanessa to Johann and back again.

Vanessa gripped the wheel tighter and took a deep breath, realizing this could provoke a very bad reaction from the Devil. “The Grand Master told us last night that a body had been found in L.A.”

“Well, there's always bodies in L.A.,” Lucifer replied with a nervous chuckle. “That's why we have blonde detectives to solve their murders.”

“This body was different though.” Vanessa said. “It had wings.”

There was another silence in which Lucifer tried to digest this. He couldn't ask. He was too afraid to hear the answer. Maybe it wasn't what Vanessa suggested at all. “Like an angel cosplayer?” he joked without any humor behind the words. “That would be a first...”

They all looked at Lucifer like he was insane.

“No,” Vanessa said. “Like an actual angel.”

Lucifer blinked. He risked a glance at his Father and saw that He was frowning, the corners of his mouth turned down dangerously.

“Our sources indicate she is real,” Vanessa continued.

Another of his siblings dead? His sister? Why? Because of this? Heaven's Gate? Hell's Gates? Had she tried to prevent it? Or had she caused it all? But for what reason? And why was she dead? Was it his fault because he’d abandoned his throne? What was happening here…? He felt his eyes burn as his heart thudded and his palms grew sweaty.

“Lucifer?” Vanessa whispered, and suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the road. There was a whimper on the other side of the seat but Lucifer ignored it. He opened the door and got out, running into the desert. He wanted to run, and keep running to somewhere nobody would ever find him. But such a place didn't exist. So he stopped after few strides and leaned over, resting his hands on his knees.

“Ah...” Vanessa tried to say something, but nothing came to mind. God extricated Himself from the car and walked to His son. He laid His hand on Lucifer's back and spoke quietly.

“One of my children is dead?”

Lucifer swung around swiftly, slapping his hand away. “Please, spare me the theater!”

God frowned. “What are you talking about?”

Lucifer shook his head and sneered. “You don't care about your children. About any of us. The only good we were to you was when you needed something from us!”

God's eyebrows lifted, His face turning red. “That's not true!”

“How do you know?! You don't even remember!”

“I'd never forget something like that!” God yelled back. “You're my children, my future. You are part of me! Of course I care!”

“No, Dad, you don't! If you cared, you wouldn't have wanted to destroy me! If you cared, you would have prevented me killing Uriel! If you cared, you would have prevented another of my siblings dying ! All I know is that all this, this closing of Heaven's Gate is probably another one of your stupid tests!”

“No,” God shook His head. “No, that can't be true! I know I love you. Surely I-”

“No, you don't!” Lucifer interrupted Him. “You don't love me! And you don't love my brothers and sisters either. Or the humans. You love only yourself and your stupid Silver City and everything else is just for playing with. So please, have some dignity and at least be honest with me!”

God turned completely red. “I AM honest with you! I do care! I-”

“Don't say that!”

“But I-”

“STOP LYING TO ME!” Lucifer thundered, his eyes burning red. He turned and walked away from his shocked Father, viciously kicking a stone lying in his path. God stood there, looking at His son, feeling worthless and useless, something He was sure He had never felt before...

The humans in the car watched the scene with growing worry.

“Maybe we should just leave,” Johann suggested quietly.

“No,” Vanessa replied and saying nothing more, she stepped out of the car and walked to Lucifer.

“Hey!” she yelled as she neared him.

The Devil turned, his face sharp and his eyes unforgiving. “Have you come to berate me for my behavior towards your beloved God, Miss Burrow?”

Vanessa shook her head. “I don't give a shit about the old man,” she waved her arm in God’s direction. That made Lucifer soften somehow. “All I care about are people and protecting them from this shit that... someone caused. And I want to solve it! For me, for you, for your sister and for the two hundred people that died at our headquarters!” she cried, her voice trembling slightly.

Lucifer looked at her from head to toe. Finally some raw emotion… but not the one he had wished to see. He realized she was one tough girl and felt a wave of admiration for her. “Fine,” he replied, shrugging. “Do whatever you need to.” He half hoped she would just walk away.

“I'm really sorry about your sister. I should have told you in a nicer way. And sooner too. But I need you to get over it and keep it together. Can you do that?”

Lucifer snorted. “Why would I?”

“Because the war has barely started and we’re already losing magnificently. And we really need your help to win this one.”

He had just learned his sister had died and here she was, trying to talk him into going to war… “Always the soldier, aren't you?”

“Aren't you?” Vanessa shot back.

“Excuse me?”

“I mean, you angels are basically soldiers, no?”

Lucifer scoffed. “Sorry to disappoint, love, but I've never been particularly good at taking orders.”

“Good,” Vanessa replied, making Lucifer look at her questioningly. “Because the way I see it, God's as useless as a chocolate teapot…”

“Oi, that’s rude, young lady!”

“… the Templars are done and you're the only angel on Earth. That kind of makes you the general. So you wouldn’t be taking orders, you’d be giving them!”

“Oh… kinky,” Lucifer uttered with a small smile as he didn’t know what else to say. He stared at the young woman in wonder. It felt nice that someone actually had so much faith in him, even though it was out of necessity. And probably foolish. But at the same time he felt something very weird; it was rather uncomfortable and heavy and crawling up his spine, surely caused by Vanessa's words. But he couldn't identify the emotion. He wished Linda was here to help...

“So if you want to leave God here,” Vanessa continued, quite aware her words had an impact, “I don't have a slightest problem with it.”

“Oi!” God protested. “I'm not staying anywhere! I'm coming with you, like it or not!”

Lucifer smiled. “It's very tempting,” he smirked at his Dad, “but I think we may need Him eventually. And besides there is someone in L.A. who might be able to help Him regain His memories.”

“OK,” Vanessa breathed a sigh of relief. “Can we go now?”

“Yes, of course,” Lucifer replied and they all returned to the car.

*******

Los Angeles, the precinct of the LAPD

Dan, Chloe and Maze met up in the bullpen shortly after the FBI agent had left.

“Hey.” Chloe greeted Dan dolefully.

“Danny boy...” Maze drawled.

“I'm sorry it ended this way,” Dan said to Chloe.

“What’s ended?” Maze asked. “Now that that moron is gone we can find the murderer.”

“It's not our case anymore,” Chloe pointed out.

“And...?”

“And we're not allowed to investigate it...” she trailed off, realizing Maze didn't care about rules any more than Lucifer did.

“It's Lucifer's sister! Let's find the motherfucker who did it!”

“What?” Dan barked, flabbergasted. “The angel was Lucifer's sister? Like... really?”

Maze nodded. “And that's why we're going to find the killer.”

Their conversation was interrupted by a commotion in the lieutenant’s office. They all looked over and sighed.

“What is she doing here?” Dan asked, feeling the old wound itch. He had never forgotten or forgiven the woman for using him for sex and to get dirt on Chloe during Perry Smith’s murder trial. .

“I guess the queen Hellbitch wants to see the angel,” Maze replied.

Charlotte Richards was arguing very adamantly with the lieutenant about something while the lieutenant was slowly but relentlessly herding her out of the door. As Chloe neared Charlotte, she could see two dark circles under her eyes. She had never seen her like this before.

“What is going on?” Chloe asked.

Charlotte Richards turned to her sharply. “Detective Decker,” she smiled at her sweetly, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes. “Maybe you could tell your lieutenant that it's OK for me to see the dead woman from yesterday? You know, the one there's so much fuss about on TV...”

“It's not OK to see her,” Chloe replied firmly. “And besides, the body is not here anymore. The FBI has taken over the case.” Lieutenant Monroe used Chloe's distraction to unobtrusively escape to her office.

“The... the FBI?” Charlotte stammered. “What would the FBI want with my d-... client?”

“Your client?” Dan repeated while Maze rolled her eyes. “You knew her?”

Charlotte smiled. “Since the beginning of time...” It only made Chloe frown and increase her suspicion. This woman had a lot to hide, she was sure.

“And it has nothing to do with her being Lucifer's sister?” Chloe asked watching Charlotte carefully. Sure enough her cheek twitched.

“Not particularly,” Charlotte replied. “So, are you going to find out who did this? The killer must be punished for this!”

Chloe had a feeling Charlotte looked at Maze in particular but the question was for her. “I can't, the FBI has the case now.” She glanced at Maze, warning her silently not to argue, but it seemed she didn't have to since Maze didn't move a muscle this time.

Charlotte scowled. “Well, I should have known you wouldn't be of any use.” She turned on a stiletto heel and walked away.

Chloe breathed out. “And that wasn't weird at all...”

“Give me what you have on the case,” Maze ordered. “I'm gonna find us a lead.”

“The Feds took everything,” Chloe explained.

“Actually...” Dan drawled, looking guilty and pleased at the same time. He returned to his desk and withdrew a copy of the file from his drawer. Maze took it from him and flipped through the pages. She stopped at the photo of Angela Wibly and the information about her on the next page.

“I think I have my target.” Maze smiled diabolically, closed the file and walked out of the precinct.

*******

Somewhere on the road in Arizona

“I'm itchy...” God complained.

“Well, they may call me Old Scratch but I’m not getting anywhere near YOUR itch!” Lucifer snapped. “Just get over it.” He squirmed, trying to sit more comfortably, but being so tall and squeezed with two other adults in the back seat, he had no way to achieve that.

“Actually,” Lucifer drawled, “I've changed my mind. Not getting over it. We really need a shower.”

“And food,” God said.

“And new clothes,” Lucifer added. All of them were still covered in dust, hence the itching and the need to scratch.

“Forget it,” Vanessa said in a tone that brooked no argument. “It's too dangerous.”

“We're in the middle of nowhere,” Lucifer pointed out. “No demons anywhere... I’m prepared to risk it.”

“Yes,” God agreed readily.

Vanessa sighed. “Alright. The next town it is.”

They stopped at a motel where Lucifer paid for a room, not that they were planning to stay overnight. Vanessa found a spare uniform in the trunk and after she showered and changed, Lucifer gave her enough money to go and buy them all something clean to wear.

They took turns in the shower, one after another. Lucifer grimaced as Johann had to help Hirschel out of his clothes and into the bathroom. That was one thing he wished he had never seen.

Vanessa returned fifty minutes later with a huge bag and lots of pizza boxes balancing precariously on her palm.

It should have been a warning for Lucifer that when he had given Vanessa his measurements, she hadn't written them down but merely said ‘got it’. It should have been a warning that she hadn't asked what his favorite brand was. But getting Armani or Prada here was probably out of the question anyway.

“What's this?” Lucifer asked as he took out a pair of-

“They’re called jeans,” Vanessa said. “They go on your legs.”

Lucifer scowled as he took out a flannel shirt next. Were they going to travel undercover now? And what was he supposed to be? A lumberjack? “Danning again... bloody hell!”

“What's ‘danning’?” God asked as He put on His new clothes, quite similar to Lucifer's.

“It's when you deliberately turn yourself into a douche,” Lucifer explained. He briefly considered whether it would be better to walk around clad only in his underwear but rejected it immediately. With his charms he would attract too much attention.

They sat down at the table, opened the pizza boxes, and started to devour the food like they hadn't eaten in days. With Hirschel it was probably true but paradoxically he was the one who was only staring at it.

“You have to eat, Hirschel,” Johann whispered. “You’ll never heal otherwise.” The Jew looked at him with a sigh and finally took one piece and ate it with a pained expression.

“There is one thing,” Vanessa started, looking at Lucifer, “that bothers me.”

“Only one?”

“How did the demons know about the mirror gate?”

Lucifer frowned.

“I mean if the traitor really is a member of the Knights Templar, then how could he know? WE didn't know what it was...”

“Well, if the Gates of Hell really are open, like all of them, then nobody had to tell them. They just saw right through it. They might have seen all that was going on on your side for some time...”

“Hm,” was all Vanessa said to that, chewing thoughtfully. “Can we close the Gates of Hell?”

Lucifer started to shake his head but then he remembered his new pair of limbs. “Well, I may be able to do that actually. Now that I have my wings back I can fly down there and find out what's happened...” Not that he wanted to go to that cursed place again.

“What about Heaven?” God asked.

“What about it?”

“Can you go there? And open the Gate?”

They all waited for Lucifer's answer in utter silence, not even breathing. “I've been banned from Heaven,” Lucifer said, staring at his Father defiantly. “I guess I could somehow find my way up there but... I don't know if I could even get close to the Gate. And I really doubt it would open for me of all angels...”

They all collectively breathed out in disappointment.

“But I can try...” Lucifer added, feeling somewhat obliged. Like it was his fault that someone somewhere had screwed everything up...

Vanessa nodded. “Yeah... but let's leave it until we're somewhere... safer. I don't think I could handle a hundred demons if they decided to show up here.”

“Excuse me for a moment... my bowels are starting to move,” God said as he stood up. “I better go file some papers...”

“My... Dad,” Lucifer sighed, “that was too much information, God!”

Vanessa watched the man lock Himself in the bathroom before she focused on Lucifer, her expression determined. “What if we killed Him?”

“What?” Lucifer exclaimed while Johann almost choked on his food.

“I mean the vessel. What if we killed God’s human body? Would He move on to someone else? Someone without brain damage?”

“Oh, good thinking, darling,” Lucifer smiled. “The problem is that He has absolutely no divinity inside Him at the moment. Meaning He wouldn't be able to possess a body. He would be like all the other souls... wandering around, waiting for Heaven to open to Him. Unless He went straight to Hell… That would be interesting.” Lucifer chuckled at the thought.

Johann blinked, looking from Lucifer to Vanessa and Hirschel. Something rather terrifying occurred to him. “Does this mean that... that God isn't God anymore?”

“For now? No.”

“Will He ever be again?” Vanessa asked.

“If Heaven's Gate opens, then yes. It's connected to Him. It will restore His grace.”

“You know,” Vanessa continued, “I still can't figure out why He put His divinity in that music box in the first place...”

“That makes two of us, honey.”

“Maybe,” Johann suggested, “He wanted to appear as human as possible?”

“I appear human, and HAVE my divinity,” Lucifer replied, shaking his head. “It simply makes no sense.”

They heard a flush and a moment later God reappeared. “What did I miss?”

“Nothing,” Vanessa and Lucifer replied in unison.

“Alright, don't tell me if you don't want to,” God said, frowning and throwing his hands in the air. He sat down in an armchair. “Youngsters,” He mumbled quietly as He turned on the TV and started to browse through channels. When He found the news He stopped. A young female reporter was standing in front of a church with a priest, the headline stating it was All Saints church in L.A. The priest was quite young, and with his blond hair combed neatly and his small eager eyes shining with righteousness he looked like an obedient schoolboy ready for an exam.

We’re bringing you further information about the crucified angel that was found here, in All Saints church yesterday.

“Crucified...?” Lucifer gasped.

The case has been taken over by the FBI who have refused to comment due to an ongoing investigation. We can only hope they will manage to solve this mystery.

The reporter turned to the priest.

I’m here today with Father Sean Branigan. Father Branigan, you are the one who found the body. What can you tell us about it?

The priest blinked and stared fixedly at the camera.

The moment I saw her I knew she was a message from God Himself.

“Oh, come on!” Lucifer growled.

What do you mean, Father?

It's not the first time our Lord sacrificed His child for us. Just remember that Jesus died for our sins. He suffered so we could all have a chance for redemption. But what did we do with it? The priest's voice grew in volume as he continued. We defied God, we called His work a myth, a lie, we let ourselves to be seduced by science, money and material comforts, the tools of the Devil, believing in people and their so called evidence rather than in God's word. And now He reminds us again of the holy truth. It's upon us to embrace it or to succumb to the false prophets and condemn ourselves to eternal suffering in the flames of Hell!

The reporter nodded, looking a bit dismayed by the priest's passionate speech. She thanked him and the news ended.

God turned off the TV and the room fell silent for a moment.

“That's one man in a need of a psychiatrist,” Vanessa uttered quietly.

“Why, darling? Don't you believe my crucified sister was a message from God to all good people of faith?” Lucifer spat sarcastically. He grabbed the spear and the remaining pizza and headed for the door, still visibly upset by what they had just seen.

“We should go if we want to get to L.A. any time soon,” Lucifer yelled as nobody else seemed to move. With his words they all grunted and left the room, leaving their filthy old clothes behind.

*******

Los Angeles, the precinct of the LAPD

It was almost time to go home when Chloe got a message from Maze:

Found Angela Wibly. Meet me at 8 at 2850 East Del Amo Blvd.

Oh, she knew she shouldn't do it. She should leave it or better yet give the information to the FBI but it was her case, damn it, and they had taken it from her! No-one had ever taken a case from her before! She just needed to solve it. More so when the dead... angel... was Lucifer's sister.

I will be there. Chloe typed and got up. She grabbed her things and stopped by Dan’s desk. She didn't have to say anything for him to understand that something was going on. He knew her too well.

“Angel case?” he asked.

Chloe nodded. “Maze found Angela Wibly,” she whispered. “She wants me to meet her at eight in a warehouse in Compton.”

They looked at each other wordlessly for a moment. Then Chloe turned on her heel, Dan grabbing his jacket and following her to the precinct parking lot. They both took their own cars and headed to the address Maze had given them.


Los Angeles, 2850 East Del Amo Blvd.

Maze was waiting near the huge warehouse complex, leaning against her car when Chloe and Dan arrived. And she wasn't alone.

“Amenadiel?” Chloe greeted him in a tone suggesting she wasn’t surprised he was there.

“He's going with us,” Maze stated. “Azrael was his sister.”

Chloe nodded. She knew too well what it felt like when a loved one was taken, the urgent need to get justice.

“But why is he here?” Maze pointed at Dan. He looked a bit offended by her question.

“I'm watching Chloe's back,” Dan answered, “since Lucifer gave up that privilege.”

Chloe rolled her eyes while Maze snorted loudly. “Who is watching yours?” she asked with a sneer.

Dan shook his head. “I can take care of myself.”

“Listen,” Amenadiel said, “we don't know what's in there. We don't know what this person is... capable of. You two better stay out of the way.”

Maze looked at Amenadiel with lifted eyebrows. He was basically human now and was telling the people with guns to stay out of the way? Funny how his fall from grace hadn't affected his ego much...

“Just be ready for anything, OK?” Maze said and withdrew her knives as Chloe and Dan took out their guns. “Let's go.”

They entered the complex through a hole in the fence; Chloe didn’t want to ask how it appeared there. They followed Maze to one of the many warehouses and Dan picked the lock easily.

An awful stench attacked their noses once they crossed the threshold. It smelled like someone had died there and the corpse was still rotting in the place. There were no lights on inside, and only some of the outside light filtered through the filthy windows. It left most of the warehouse in shadows, making it a great place for a trap.

Chloe clenched her gun tighter; something was very wrong here. The hair on the back of her neck stood up, her palms sweated and her instincts were practically screaming at her that something lurked in the darkness. And she wasn't one to not pay attention to her instincts. They had saved her life many times now.

“I don't like it,” Dan whispered from where he followed at the end. “We should call for backup.”

“Shut up,” Maze hissed from the front. She led them deeper alongside neverending containers. The warehouse looked abandoned but Maze felt it wasn't. She knew someone was watching them. She smiled as the anticipation of fight brought a very pleasant thrill. Her body relaxed, preparing itself for the coming strain.

They passed a crossroad made of the containers and came to the end of the line. They turned the corner and came face to face with an apparition.

Both Dan and Chloe gasped, covering their noses as the stench became almost unbearable.

“Jesus,” Dan breathed staring at the person in front of them. It was Angela Wibly, there was no doubt about it. But the state she was in was... well, 'post mortal' came to Dan's mind. There she stood, in a once white top that failed to cover one of her pert breasts, and trousers that looked two sizes too big for her slight form. Her cloudy blue eyes were sunken and too large for her gaunt face. A ghastly-looking film covered them, but they gazed out from beneath the shroud of her long greasy hair with an unnerving intensity. Her skin was the color of ash and seemed too tight.

“Angela Wibly,” Chloe gasped, trying not to vomit. “LAPD,” she continued, “oh God...” Chloe took several deep breaths – no, she would not vomit... “Someone call an ambulance.”

“I don't think it would help,” Maze whispered, gripping her knives tighter and preparing for a fight. Whatever this was, it certainly wasn't human...

Dan was partially pointing his gun at the girl while his other hand covered his mouth. He thought calling the ambulance was probably the only thing they could do now, but he wasn't able to do it. Despite his revulsion, he noticed something as the girl looked at them. “Chloe, look at her cheek.”

There was a symbol carved on her left cheek, one they all had seen before. On Azrael's dead body. The number one in Hebrew that looked like a mirror image of the percent sign. Chloe shook her head, trying to make sense of this, but she couldn't. Was Angela a victim too? “We're here to help,” she said slowly to the girl who still hadn’t reacted in any other way but staring.

Chloe’s words finally roused her. She smiled, showing several missing teeth. “I don't need your help, human,” she hissed, her pronunciation slow and sloppy. She turned her attention to Amenadiel. Her eyes were so piercing Amenadiel almost flinched when they turned directly at him.

“The first born son,” she drawled, “I've been waiting for you...”

“Who are you? What do you want?” Amenadiel growled menacingly. The girl didn't answer, instead lifting her index finger to her left cheek and burying the nail in the skin. She slowly and deliberately retraced the symbol there, reopening the wound. And with it the stench seemed to intensify, making Dan recoil and unload the contents of his stomach.

“It's time,” the girl hissed and with it a dozen demons appeared from behind the containers, baring their teeth and pointing their weapons at the intruders.

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, inside a warehouse at 2850 East Del Amo Blvd.

Fuck!” Maze yelled as she realized they were trapped. Although they looked just like humans, albeit with poor hygiene habits, Maze knew they were demons. They swarmed  from every direction, their number growing quickly until there were about two dozen of them. They were grinning with malice and waving knives, swords, spears and other, less elegant blades, looking like savages as they advanced steadily on the small group.

What...?” Chloe gasped, turning, putting her back to Maze and Amenadiel. Dan managed to stop vomiting and as he straightened up, he looked around and was taken aback to realize they were suddenly surrounded. He pulled his gun and aimed it at the nearest assailant.

LAPD! Drop the weapon!” Dan yelled but the man merely grinned and kept coming.

LAPD! Stop!” Chloe joined Dan as she aimed her gun at another aggressor.

That won’t help, Decker!” Maze cried, baring her teeth at the demons. “They’re like wolves smelling blood!”

Stop or I will shoot!” Dan warned as the circle around them got smaller and smaller.

Chloe shook her head. She knew that once they shot someone, the situation would go one of only two ways. The attackers would either get scared away or the gunshot would set them all off and they’d charge. And seeing their crazed eyes, Chloe guessed it would be the latter. She thought she could try to scare them. Aiming at a pile of wooden pallets, her bullet passed the nearest man by inches, sending splinters flying into the man’s neck as it tore through the wood. And he didn’t even flinch.

Fuck,” Dan growled as he realized they had no other choice but to shoot them like animals. “Suit yourself,” he whispered and shot the grinning attacker in the leg. But the guy didn't stop, so Dan shot him again, in the chest. The man bowed a little with the impact but he was far from going down. In fact, the shot only seemed to anger him. He bared his teeth like a wounded animal and leaped forward with a scream, the yell giving the order for attack. The whole crowd let out bloodcurdling howls and rushed towards the group.

Chloe tensed as a woman ran at her full speed, brandishing a wicked-looking machete, and she had to shoot her three times before she fell.

Aim for the head!” Maze advised as she whirled gracefully, knocking some attackers flying with well-placed kicks and skewering others with her knives. Her hands and blades dripped red with blood and her face was fierce and spattered with gore. Amenadiel tried to help but wasn't very useful against demons without his angelic powers.

Chloe and Dan took Maze’s advice and shot at the attackers’ heads. It was harder to hit the target but once they did, only one bullet was needed.

Jesus! What are they? Zombies?” Dan screamed as he turned and shot one bullet after another, appalled by the carnage unfolding around them.

Amenadiel felt someone grab him from behind and another someone hit him repeatedly in the face. With a huge effort, Amenadiel kicked the demon in front, reached for the demon behind him, and threw him over his shoulder. But as the demon was falling, he managed to thrust a knife into Amenadiel's thigh. Amenadiel screamed with pain and fell to the ground, gripping the edge of the wound where the knife was still embedded in his leg. Another demon grabbed him under his armpits and started to drag him away.

Amenadiel!” Chloe yelled as she noticed his predicament. She aimed quickly and shot the demon between his eyes. Then her weapon clicked on an empty chamber; that was her last bullet. As she looked around she discovered that Dan's gun was empty too. Fortunately by now there were only four attackers left. The rest of them covered the floor, lying in pools of blood. It was like a bizarre scene from a low-budget horror movie. Chloe’s stomach churned.

And with almost everyone dead, Angela Wibly, who had been standing nearby and observing quietly, began to walk towards Amenadiel who now was trying unsuccessfully to stand up.

Get him out of here!” Maze yelled as she blocked the girl’s path, efficiently killing two of the last four standing demons.

You can't have him!” Maze spat at the girl who was still coming nearer, the two remaining demons at her side. Maze was watching them carefully, playing with her knives lightly, preparing for the last fight of the evening. Whatever this thing was, she was going to destroy it.

Angela Wibly grimaced. It was probably meant as a smile but a smile it wasn't. “Get out of my way, demon,” she hissed.

Not a chance, weirdo.”

Maze!” Chloe yelled as she and Dan helped Amenadiel on his feet.

Go! I've got this!”

Chloe knew not to argue. If anyone could 'get' this batshit crazy situation it'd be Maze. She and Dan supported Amenadiel on each side and slowly guided him out.

You're not supposed to be here,” Maze said to the two demons flanking Wibly. They shrugged and smiled confidently. Why, Maze had no idea. Because when they attacked her, eager to do some damage, she killed them both quite easily. These idiots were no soldiers, they didn't stand a chance against her. But like most idiotic demons, they couldn't think for themselves and just followed orders, especially violent ones. But why they were following this girl Maze couldn't tell, and she wasn't about to ask.

Maze swung her arm and with one precise movement stabbed the girl right through her eye to her brain. She smiled triumphantly, waiting for the girl to fall to the ground and die.

But she didn't.

What the fuck?” Maze cursed, shocked beyond thinking. The girl just smiled, her one huge eye full of venomous scorn while the other bled profusely. She grabbed Maze and before the demon could react Wibly sent her flying through the air like she weighed nothing.

Maze hit the wall hard and fell to the ground with a thud. She hissed as pain shot up her leg to her back and then to her brain. She struggled to her feet and looked around. The girl wasn't where she had been a moment before. Maze hurried to the spot she had been thrown from, retrieving one of her knives she had lost during the fight. She turned and noticed the girl was walking slowly but steadily to the exit.

Amenadiel,” Maze whispered and started to run after the girl. What did she want with him?

She picked up speed and when she was near enough she jumped, her knives ready. She barrelled into the girl, sliding the knives easily into the flesh of her back. The girl stumbled but didn't fall. She turned suddenly, using her momentum and astonishing strength to easily push Maze off her. Maze took several steps back, looking at the girl in utter disbelief. What was she?

Why won't you just die?” Maze screamed in exasperation and growing worry.

The girl sneered. “Those not alive cannot die,” she hissed and turned to the exit once more, completely ignoring Maze as if she was nothing more than a bothersome insect.

Maze stood there for a second, thinking about what she had said. What had she meant by ‘not alive’? Everything that moved and talked was alive... Or was she a soul somehow gotten into a human body? But how could the body still be moving after all the damage Maze had done to it...?

Moving! She was still moving after Amenadiel! Fine, killing wasn’t working and given the girl's strength trapping wouldn’t work either. So... delaying it was...

Maze ran around the containers and found a huge forklift. She got in and started it up, driving back to where the creepy one-eyed girl was still slowly limping towards the exit. Maze blocked her path with the forklift and growled deep in her throat. Wibly bared her teeth at her, well, the few she had left, and screamed with fury. Maze sneered right back and lifted the forks of the vehicle about three feet off the ground. She pushed the gas pedal and hit the girl square in the stomach with one of the forks, the thick metal bar pushing her body back until it met a container and then continuing right on through it. Not surprised this time, Maze watched as the girl merely flailed around trying to get rid of the steel pinning her body. Thankfully the forklift was heavy enough to prevent her from succeeding immediately.

I'll be back,” Maze promised and jumped off the vehicle. She needed to go help Amenadiel if he was going to survive the night... She ran outside and through the hole in the fence, coming face to pallid face with Dan.

What took you so long?” Dan asked, the worry very obvious on his face.

I had to move some stuff,” Maze replied, ignoring Dan's confused look. Instead she focused on Chloe who was standing by her car, shaking slightly and talking on the radio.

I need backup and an ambulance to-”

Maze took the radio from Chloe's hand and switched it off. “What are you doing?” she hissed.

Chloe looked at her incredulously. “Amenadiel needs to get to a hospital and there are... people inside that...”

They’re all dead,” Maze supplied. “Except for one,” she added. “And trust me, you don't want to be here when she gets out of the makeshift cage I put her in.”

Maze, we need to-”

She's right,” Dan stopped her. “Chloe, this is not our case anymore. We shouldn’t be here. We’ll get into so much trouble if we’re found out.”

Chloe stared at Dan in utter disbelief. “And you think we won't be found out if we just leave? There are about twenty dead people in there, full of our bullets!”

I'll take care of it,” Maze said. “Trust me.”

Chloe wasn't convinced. No, this wasn't the right thing to do... “And Amenadiel? Will you take care of him too?”

Yes,” Maze replied. “The hospital couldn’t help him anyway. Listen, Decker, I know you don't want to hear it, but everything that is happening... it's some serious, supernatural shit!”

I don't understand!” Chloe cried, exasperated.

Because you don't want to!” Maze yelled.

What are you not telling me, Maze?”

Maze shook her head. “We've told you almost everything. Repeatedly. It's not my problem you refuse to acknowledge the truth. You saw Lucifer's sister. You saw the ‘people’ -” Maze stressed the last word, “- inside. Did you notice how many bullets it took to kill them? … Yeah, that's because they're demons. And Angela Wibly? Whatever she is, she is beyond my capability to stop, meaning we have a huge, ugly, immortal problem. So believe it or not, I don't care right now if you understand, just get in the car and drive home as fast as you can. And then you’d better forget about all this.” She looked at Dan to make him understand her words were meant for him too.

Chloe opened her mouth to protest again but a screech coming from the complex stopped her. “What was that?”

The huge, immortal problem has probably found a way out of her cage...” Maze drawled. “GO!” She ordered and was relieved to watch the two humans get in their cars and drive away. She hurried to her car, where Amenadiel was lying on the back seat, his leg hoisted high and the wound, with the knife still inside, hastily bandaged.

Maze got in just in time to see Angela Wibly limp outside the warehouse, the gaping hole in her middle with entrails coming out not bothering her at all.

Amenadiel watched the girl crawl through the hole in the fence of the complex as they sped away, the hair on his arms raising with dread. What was that? And why were the demons working with it? And how had they got out of Hell? What was happening?

*******

Los Angeles, Chloe’s apartment

Dan followed Chloe into her apartment. She hadn’t invited him in but she didn’t protest either. She just couldn’t think straight right now. There was blood on her clothes and her hands were trembling uncontrollably. She had just survived a massacre; one that she, Dan, Maze and Amenadiel had themselves committed. But they couldn’t have done anything else, could they?

She sat down heavily on the couch and tried to catch her breath. There seemed to not be enough air in the room and the more she panted, the less oxygen she seemed to get.

Chloe?” Dan whispered and sat next to her, touching her hand. “Chloe? You’re in shock!”

Yeah...” she knew that much. She just needed to stop breathing so fast. She took a deep breath, and then another, and then held it for several seconds. And as she breathed out she felt some clarity return to her brain.

I’ll get you a glass of water,” Dan said and left her side.

Why was she the one in shock and not Dan? He had seen what she had … Maybe he didn’t think it was real? And did she? Was Maze right? Had she been ignoring reality this whole time?

Dan pushed a glass of cold water into her hand and Chloe took a long swig. “The angel’s wings were real,” she whispered.

What?” Dan sat down next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders protectively.

I spoke to Doctor Phelps yesterday. The victim’s - Azrael’s - wings... were real somehow...” she risked a glance at Dan, fearing he would laugh at her. But he didn’t. “What if Lucifer’s wings were real too… what if...”

Hey,” Dan tightened his grip on her shoulders. Chloe closed her eyes and pressed her head to her palm.

I just don’t know what’s real anymore! Am I losing my mind?”

It’s gonna be OK, Chloe,” Dan assured her though Chloe suspected he didn’t believe it himself. She looked at him again. The man she had spent a significant part of her life with. The man who had always put her safety first, no matter what… “I’ll make it OK,” Dan whispered fiercely and gently caressed her cheek. He was so close now, like he used to be years ago… Memories flooded back; their first kiss, the wedding, Trixie... the feeling of safety when she was in his arms. Oh, she could use a big hug right now, but she feared Dan might read something more into it.

I need something stronger,” Chloe said and jumped off the couch, ending the dangerous moment. She headed to the kitchen and withdrew a bottle of Maze’s whiskey from a high shelf. She poured herself a generous amount and swallowed it quickly. It burned its way down pleasantly, dispelling the feeling of cold dread that had settled along her spine after the horrific scenes at the warehouse.

How come you’re not bothered by what we saw?” Chloe asked, glancing at Dan and offering him the bottle.

Dan shrugged and taking the whiskey from her he took a small sip. "I guess I've gotten used to my world completely changing and having to deal with it. Like, I used to believe we'd be together for ever, til death do us part, and all that..."

Chloe ignored his last sentence. “So you’re not bothered that we might have just killed a couple dozen demons ? Yesterday you thought that people came about by evolution and now you’re OK thinking God made us?”

You know my mother was a very religious person.”

Hm, it’s kind of hard to forget she made us marry in a church and have Trixie baptized.” Chloe chuckled at the memory, remembering how she tried to defy the old woman and failed. She hadn’t gotten along with her mother-in-law back then but now she remembered the old lady fondly. Maybe it was good she hadn’t lived long enough to see her and Dan split.

Yes, she could be very persuasive.” Dan smiled and shrugged. “I guess some of her beliefs rubbed off on me. There are many things in this world we don’t understand, Chloe. I know that. I accept it. You should try to accept it too.”

Chloe took the bottle back and drank more whiskey. Just accept it? Without any bulletproof evidence? What did she know, really? The so-called demons could have been ordinary people, just drugged with something… What was that drug that turned people into hallucinating, violent psychopaths, capable of anything while feeling nothing? Wasn’t it ‘angel dust’? How ironic! She remembered reading an article about it and the carnage it caused when people used it. Yeah, that was much more plausible an explanation than the one Maze had provided.

As Chloe pondered about it, she watched Dan staring at her with concern and she realized she was envious. She envied Dan, for God’s sake, that he had no difficulty accepting the possibility that demons and angels were real. But on the other hand, if it really was true, he wouldn’t be the one who had almost dated the Devil… Oh, God, had she kissed the Devil ?!

Chloe? Will you be alright? I should head home. Trixie’s babysitter won’t be there forever.”

Trixie… Her child living in a world of demons? “Of course. Just go. I -”

You can come with me if you want...” Chloe looked at Dan closely. She sensed there was something more behind the invitation, not just friendly concern about her well-being. But doing something more? And right now? With Dan? No way! She didn’t need another heartache. She had plenty already...

I’m good. Thanks.”

Dan nodded and reluctantly left, to Chloe’s great relief.


Chloe went to take the shower she so desperately needed, discarding her clothes as she went, not caring for once if anyone saw. Like Maze when she returned.

Maze… was she really a demon? Like one of the creatures that had attacked them tonight? She certainly had the same violent streak inside her. Chloe had witnessed it last night when Maze killed all those people without any sign of hesitation. The strange thing was Chloe knew she should feel threatened but she didn’t. She knew Maze. She was wild, violent and headstrong, but good in her own way, and Chloe trusted her. And why shouldn’t she? Maze had saved their lives today. But weren’t demons supposed to be evil? Like the Devil… something whispered from the dark corners of her mind. It sounded very much like Lucifer himself...

- I'm the Devil, remember? I'm evil!

- I don't buy it. Every time you say that you don't care, or that you're evil, or you're the Devil, I know that's not who you really are.

- You don't know a thing about who I am, Detective. Or what I've done.

No, no, no, it can’t be real. Those people were probably just high on PCP or something else, not feeling any pain when they were shot. Maybe the FBI agent was right and Azrael’s wings were just a product of some sick experiment.

Or maybe Maze was right and she was indeed lying to herself.

She turned on the shower and leaned her forehead on the tiles. She just needed to stop thinking. She needed to clear her head. She needed sleep. Tomorrow everything would make sense, everything would be brighter.

*******

Somewhere in Los Angeles

It was after midnight when the refugees finally arrived in Los Angeles, Lucifer navigating them through the mostly deserted streets in weary silence. When they arrived at their final destination, Lucifer warned everyone to hold their tongues and let him do the talking. He took the Spear and walked to one of the doors, the others following, Vanessa and Johann helping Hirschel. His wound had stopped bleeding but was still far from healed.

Lucifer rang the bell and they waited.

You could at least tell us who lives here,” God complained.

You’ll learn soon enough,” Lucifer replied and as the door opened an unexpected person appeared there.

Lucifer?!”

Maze?” Lucifer asked. “Are you and Ame-” He stopped when he noticed a bloody rag in her hand and a bruise on her cheek.

Why are you dressed like Chloe’s ex again? And what’s with the stick?” Maze asked, eyeing the Spear. “And who are those beggars?” she pointed behind Lucifer.

You want us to stay with a demon?” Vanessa hissed, gritting her teeth. “After everything they did to us?”

What happened?” Maze asked, looking from Vanessa to Lucifer and back but it was God who answered.

A bunch of demons destroyed the headquarters of the Knights Templar and almost killed us all.”

Maze looked at Lucifer sharply, taking the most important information from the weird sentence. “You were attacked too?”

Too?” Lucifer repeated as Maze started to scan his body for injuries with her palms.

Maze, as fond as I usually am of getting groped, this really isn’t the time. Is Amenadiel here?” Lucifer asked, craning his neck to see over her better. “Actually, can we come in?” he added and pushed through the door, not waiting for an answer. He found his brother lying on a couch, breathing hard and bleeding through several bandages.

Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled and hurried to Amenadiel who blinked in recognition but was too weak to even greet his brother. “Please don’t tell me you’re mortal now too? It’s getting embarrassing, this de-angelification of yours.”

A knife forged in Hell did it,” Maze snapped, coming to Amenadiel to change his bandages. Again.

Lucky for you I’ve come home,” Lucifer replied and promptly unfolded his wings.

Maze’s eyes grew wide. “What...? How?”

Lucifer yanked out one of his small feathers and lay it gently on Amenadiel’s wound. It started to glow with a warm, golden light and soon enough both the wound and the feather disappeared.

I thought you said you had no healing powers!” Vanessa accused when the light show had ended.

Lucifer turned to her, putting his wings away. “I didn’t. Because I had no wings.”

Speaking about the wings,” Maze started, “how is it you have them back?”

So now that you have them back,” Vanessa butted in, “can you heal God?”

God?” Amenadiel repeated, frowning as he slowly, painfully sat on the couch. “Luci, what have you done?”

What? You mean saving your life?”

God frowned at Amenadiel. “Why do you think Lucifer has done something?”

You obviously don’t know him very well,” Amenadiel replied. “Who are you, anyway?”

I’m God.”

Maze burst into peals of laughter while Amenadiel glared daggers at the man.

God turned to Lucifer. “Son, who are these people?”

Is it me,” Johann whispered to Hirschel, “or is this getting ridiculous?”

Can’t you just heal Him?” Vanessa pressed.

Probably not, it’s not-”

Lucifer?” God and Amenadiel both called his name, demanding attention, while Maze was still laughing.

Everybody SHUT UP!” Lucifer yelled. He sighed with relief as the voices died. Silence had never been so golden.

Alright.” Lucifer took a deep breath. “Now, the short version of the long story… everybody have a seat please and no interruptions!” They all sat somewhere – couch, armchairs and floor, and waited.

Lucifer stood in the middle of the room and coughed. “Right... In the beginning, meaning yesterday morning, I was ambushed by these nice people from the super lame and super secret Knights Templar organization,” he pointed at Vanessa and Johann, “because God had sent them a message using the stones of the Ten Commandments to find me. It turned out Dad wanted me to pick Him up at the retirement home where He had taken a human body. But He managed to possess a damaged body and He can’t remember anything. Including His charming personality. We took Him to the headquarters but were ambushed today by an army of demons, the Templars most likely having a mole. They had a vault with a collection of more or less divine artifacts, one of them the portable gate to Hell that demons used to get inside and try to capture Dad. But because of my quick thinking, He was saved. No need to thank me. The Templars decided to let me die there though – who cares about the Devil, right – and I would have, but Dad’s divinity saved me when it was released from where he’d inexplicably stashed it in a music box. It restored my wings when it got inside me but the rest of it caused an explosion, killing everyone in the headquarters. The result is that Dad is not only without His memories, but also without His divinity. I have my wings back, I have one fancy weapon, there are demons after us and we have no place to stay. Any questions?”

Maze and Amenadiel just stared, trying to absorb all the information. “Who are these people exactly?” Maze asked eventually.

Right,” Lucifer breathed, realizing he’d forgotten to introduce them. “Meet God Notmighty in the human suit of Peter Stuart, Miss Vanessa Burrow, a fearless knight, Johann…?”

Haas,” Johann supplied.

“… Haas, a dedicated follower of orders, and Hirschel, the eternal Jew.”

Wow,” Maze drawled, looking at Hirschel. “You’re really real? Shit! I think I’ve just lost a bet...”

And,” Lucifer continued, “meet Mazikeen, once the right hand of the Devil, and Amenadiel, once the right hand of God and my eldest brother, now a fallen angel.”

There’s another angel on Earth?” Vanessa exclaimed, looking at Amenadiel with wide eyes.

Yes. Didn’t you know?” Lucifer asked. Vanessa and Johann both shook their heads.

This is really Father?” Amenadiel looked at the old man with a lot of gray hair and a protruding belly and frowned in consternation.

Yes,” Lucifer replied.

My son?” God breathed, eyeing the huge man sitting in front of Him. “But you’re black.”

Amenadiel rolled his eyes and then yelped as God got up and hugged him suddenly. “So He really doesn’t remember anything?” he asked.

No.”

Now my question,” Vanessa interrupted. “Can you heal God?”

Probably not. My feathers can heal only wounds caused by supernatural intervention. If the body had a stroke, it was a very natural thing...”

Can you at least try?” Vanessa asked. Lucifer shrugged. There was nothing to lose. He unfolded his wings again and yanked out another feather. He put the wings away, pushed the feather to God’s forehead and waited. The only thing that happened was the feather floated off and started to fall...

See,” Lucifer drawled, “a complete waste of a perfect feather.” They all watched the feather land in front of Hirschel. He picked it up slowly, stared at it for a second or two and then pressed it against his own wound. The feather glowed for a moment and did its magic, healing Hirschel instantly.

I was stabbed with one of the demon’s weapons,” Hirschel explained.

Lucifer smiled tightly. “Sorry, it didn’t occur to me that...”

Hm,” Hirschel shrugged. “People tend to forget about me all the time. And it’s not like it could have killed me anyway.”

An awkward silence followed Hirschel’s statement. It didn’t last long though as Amenadiel broke it.

Luci, why is Father even here? Has it something to do with the souls of the dead staying on Earth?”

Probably.”

So you know about them…”

Rather hard not to notice...”

Do you have something to do with it?”

Lucifer’s eyes narrowed. “Whatever do you mean, brother?”

Don’t play innocent. We both know you wanted to punish Father.”

Yes, Father. Not humans!” Lucifer yelled.

So what have you been doing the past month?”

Lucifer clenched his jaw. He hated it when Amenadiel interrogated him like this. “If you must know, I’ve been... sightseeing.”

Amenadiel narrowed his eyes. “Really?”

Well, barseeing to be more precise...”

Have you learned anything interesting?” Amenadiel asked in a sarcastic tone.

Actually I have. The Gate of Heaven is closed,” Amenadiel’s eyes grew round, “and the Gates of Hell are probably open. And no, I didn’t do it!”

Fuck,” Maze cursed, realizing the chaos demons could cause on Earth.

Now your turn,” Lucifer said. “What happened to you?”

Maze and Amenadiel looked at each other.

Luci,” Amenadiel began, and Lucifer knew what would follow.

Just tell me who,” Lucifer said quietly.

You know?”

Lucifer shrugged. “I’ve seen the news.”

Amenadiel nodded. “It’s Azrael.”

Lucifer clenched his fists, taking a deep breath. Azrael, his little sister with the red hair and fiery temper. Of all of his siblings she was the most like him. And now she was dead. “How?”

I think,” Maze said, “we met the thing that did it to her today. It had demons with it and tried to capture Amenadiel.”

Did you say ‘thing’?” Lucifer asked, not sure he understood.

Maze shrugged. “Yes. For the lack of a better word. It was occupying a dead body, it was super strong, felt no pain and the demons followed it. And it wasn’t a demon or an angel. I just don’t know what it was.”

Lucifer looked at Amenadiel questioningly. “And even you don’t know what it was?” He was the eldest after all. If he didn’t know, who would? Perhaps only God Himself, and He currently didn’t even know his own kids’ names.

Amenadiel shook his head. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before. But it knew me, Luci. It recognized me.” Amenadiel shook visibly.

Lucifer,” Maze said. “I think it might be after you too.”

If the demons followed it,” Vanessa thought aloud, “it could mean it’s behind the attack on the headquarters too. Maybe it’s after everything divine – God, angels...”

Everything that can be a threat to it,” Maze added.

Everything that stayed locked on the wrong side of Heaven’s Gate,” Lucifer whispered.

You really think it may be responsible for closing the Gate of Heaven?” Amenadiel asked. “The Gate is heavily protected. How could it even get close enough without anyone noticing?”

I don’t know, brother. How could it open the Gates of Hell?”

So...” Maze drawled, “what are we gonna do about it?” For some reason they all looked at Lucifer, including Amenadiel.

Well, I… I guess I can take a trip to Hell now that I have my wings back and… you know… ask around...”

Bad idea,” Maze opposed. “That would be pretty dangerous. If that thing got down there, it could kill you too. Remember it killed your sister!”

Well, you’re right, Maze, but luckily I have this,” Lucifer reached for the Spear he had leaned on the wall earlier. With a single touch he let the blade shine for a second. “Hirschel says it’s the Spear of Destiny. Don’t know about that but it can kill demons with just a scratch.” Maze took a step back at his words while Amenadiel frowned at the weapon.

The Spear of Destiny was an ordinary spear,” Amenadiel said.

I know.” Lucifer put the weapon away and focused on the people. “I don’t fancy going down there but it may be the only way to find out what is really going on. But I want to try something else first.”

What?” Amenadiel asked.

Doctor Linda Martin.”

I thought you’ve already tried her,” Maze leered.

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “On Dad.”

I don’t think He’s her type...”

As a psychiatrist, Maze! She could do her mojo and help Him regain His memories. Then maybe He would tell us what we need to know and I wouldn’t have to go to Hell after all.”

Maze nodded. “Good thinking.”

Yes. I’ll call her in the morning. Now that we have a plan, can we please get some dinner and a bit of shut-eye?”


The morning came quickly. Too quickly as Lucifer would have preferred to sleep a little longer. And more comfortably. With so many people in Amenadiel’s small apartment, half of them had had to sleep on the floor, including him. So uncomfortable… he missed his kingsized bed and fine linens. As well as the various other entertainments his bedroom usually provided; he tried not to think about it.

The first thing Lucifer did after he stretched was to borrow Maze’s phone and call Linda.

Lucifer? You’re back?” the doctor sounded surprised. Pleasantly surprised to Lucifer’s relief.

Yes, Doctor. Listen, darling, I need a favor. I have a patient for you to see. Would you mind making a trip to Amenadiel’s apartment before you head to work?”

There was a sigh on the other end. “Can’t you just bring the patient to my office during working hours, Lucifer?”

It’s not that simple. It’s… my Dad.”

There was a silence on the other end.

Linda?”

I’ll be there.”

Lovely,” Lucifer said and ended the call. He tossed the phone on the couch and headed to the bathroom to take a shower before the other six people decided it was their turn.

*******

Chloe’s apartment

The morning brought the clarity Chloe had desired. She admitted to herself that she had been ignoring the evidence since she had shot Lucifer in that factory all those months ago. She had convinced herself he had been just a weirdo, not the Devil. She had chosen the safe path of ignorance instead of finding out the truth as she usually did. She had chosen to be blind just to preserve her peace of mind. Now she felt ashamed. But at least now she knew what she had to do. She had to find out the truth, be it God and angels and the Devil or something else entirely, like drugs and sick experiments. Because now it wasn’t just about her anymore. Her guts were telling her that Angela Wibly was very bad news and Amenadiel and Lucifer might be in real danger… And they had both helped her many times. Now it was time to return the favor.

She dressed and went down to the kitchen. She checked Maze’s room to find she hadn’t returned yet. Maze, the demon. Or maybe, Maze, the lunatic. She would find out soon. She just hoped Maze was alright. Amenadiel too. She dialed Maze’s number, but she didn’t pick up. Chloe decided she’d better check on them. She ate a quick breakfast and headed to her car.

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment

Lucifer walked out of the shower, feeling reborn. He was reluctant to put back on the clothes Vanessa had bought him yesterday, so he chose to wear just the towel around his hips.

Finally!” Vanessa exclaimed as Lucifer walked out. “I thought you had fallen asleep in there,” she commented as she pushed past him and locked herself in the bathroom.

Hey, has anybody seen my phone?” Maze asked, searching the place and eating a sandwich at the same time. Lucifer opened his mouth to answer but a bell interrupted him.

That was quick,” he murmured as he hurried to open the door, happy to see the doctor after such a long time. But the person that stood on the other side of the door wasn’t the doctor… Lucifer blinked twice to make sure he was seeing right.

Detective,” he drawled, feeling warmth flood his limbs and a smile stretch his lips before he managed to take control over his body and stopped smiling immediately, trying to look sober. Poised. Adult. Or something like that...

Oh, you're back,” Chloe breathed, her expression rather shocked as her eyes slid down his body and then back to his eyes again.

He was back… Her brain couldn’t grasp anything else but the image in front of her. How many times had she imagined this moment? How many reactions had played out in her imagination? And what had she just said? Oh, you’re back so witty of her!

Lucifer nodded awkwardly. “I am. For now,” he added as an afterthought although he had no idea why. He wasn't planning on going away. But he wasn't planning on staying either. Because right now he had no plans beyond fixing Heaven and Hell.

Good,” Chloe nodded quickly and kept nodding, unable to stop. “That's good... yeah... very good,” she repeated, realizing she was starting to sound like an imbecile.

Yes,” Lucifer agreed, just to say something.

Fuck, Lucifer!” Vanessa’s angry voice came from inside the apartment along with the bang of the bathroom door as she must have stormed out. “Did you have to use ALL the towels?!”

Lucifer opened his mouth to say something, but nothing intelligent came to his brain as he saw Chloe’s eyes flick sideways and blink in realization he had company. Luckily, she couldn’t see past him.

I… I’m looking for Maze,” Chloe stammered, feeling like she had come somewhere she wasn’t wanted. How long had been Lucifer back, hiding at his brother’s apartment? Had Maze known?

She’s here,” Lucifer replied.

Of course she is,” Chloe answered, feeling like an idiot. Of course Lucifer wasn’t exactly a ‘one sleeping partner’ kind of guy… And to add to the number of sleeping partners and increase her shock, an old man in underwear appeared in Chloe’s line of vision.

There was a small cough behind Lucifer's shoulder. “Who is this beautiful young lady?” God asked, checking Chloe from head to toe. “Won't you introduce us?”

Lucifer glimpsed over his shoulder and sighed in exasperation. “Bloody hell… Do I have a choice?” He moved aside to let Chloe in. When she hesitated he waved his arm. “Come on, detective. I don’t bite. Unless you wish me to...” he added, feeling awkward telling the stupid joke. She didn’t even crack a smile to acknowledge his attempt to ease the situation and came in slowly.

Chloe couldn’t believe how many people were in there, including Maze and Amenadiel. They both looked alright, even Amenadiel who had seemed to be on the brink of death last night. “You alright?” she whispered, looking at them questioningly.

Sure,” Maze replied. “Told you I would take care of it.”

Chloe nodded, remembering the massacre they had left behind with a sinking heart and a churning stomach.

No evidence left,” Maze continued. “I owe Mischa another favor though...” she added bitterly. Chloe didn’t want to know who this ‘Mischa’ person was. She would probably have to arrest him.

So… are you having a swingers party or something?” Chloe asked, looking around, unable to hide the accusation in her voice. They were all here and fine and they hadn’t told her.

Lucifer snorted. “Why, detective? Would you like to have a swing with us?” He regretted the words as soon as they had left his mouth. Chloe glared daggers at him and Lucifer felt like they couldn’t be further apart right now even if they were on opposite sides of the planet. There was an unpleasant silence until God broke it.

What’s a swingers party?”

Lucifer rolled his eyes as everyone else looked at God strangely.

Right,” Lucifer took a deep breath and introduced Chloe to his Father. Chloe looked at God curiously. She remembered she’d come here to find out the truth so she might as well get into it.

So, you're God?” she said in a tone that wasn't exactly a statement or a question while she was shaking His hand.

God snorted. “So they say. Trust me, I was more surprised than you are when they told me.”

Hm...” Chloe extricated her hand from His grip carefully, feeling less curious and more cautious now. This old man in underwear couldn’t be God, could He? Although there was a tiny resemblance between Him and Lucifer – in the lack of clothes.

I’m sorry, detective,” Lucifer interrupted them in fear of a possible unwanted exchange of information. “But why exactly are you here?”

Chloe looked at Lucifer again. He tried not to squirm under her intense stare. “I’ve come to check on Maze and Amenadiel. We had a rough night last night. But I see they’re fine.”

Rough night?” Lucifer repeated looking at Maze and his brother. “What is she talking about?”

Maze and Amenadiel looked guilty. “She and Dan were with us,” Maze said, “when that thing attacked.”

Why?” Lucifer asked, anger building quickly inside him. What were they thinking, putting her in such danger?

Azrael,” Maze clarified. “She was her case...”

Lucifer looked at Chloe sharply. Did she know now? About him, about… everything? She didn’t look like she knew as she was still standing there, not running away and screaming.

I’m sorry about your sister,” Chloe whispered, searching Lucifer’s eyes for a reaction. Sure enough there was a quiver of pain in them, telling her the dead woman really was someone Lucifer had cared about.

Lucifer nodded. “So you are working her case...”

I was,” Chloe corrected. “An FBI agent came and took the case from me yesterday.”

Right,” Lucifer breathed, remembering yesterday’s news.

Excuse me,” Vanessa said. “Was the agent’s name Paul Haley by any chance?”

Chloe looked at the young, beautiful woman. She was more than beautiful, she realized. She was stunning in a wild kind of way. “You know him?”

He’s one of ours,” Johann replied.

Yours?” Chloe asked, looking from person to person. None of them seemed too eager to tell her more though.

The doorbell rang again. Lucifer opened the door and Linda came in. “It’s so good to see you again,” she said as she hugged Lucifer briefly. She looked at Chloe in surprise.

Chloe? You’re here too?”

For now,” Chloe answered. So they had called Linda but not her?

Aren’t you staying?” Linda asked.

Chloe shook her head. She knew when she wasn’t wanted. “I have work to do. If you need my help, you know where to find me,” she said, looking at Lucifer. “I haven’t changed my number,” she added, feeling like an idiot. She headed to the door quickly, not looking back.

Detective,” Lucifer called, going after her, although he had no idea why. He knew she shouldn’t be here with them. It was too dangerous and besides he would have to tell her – no, show her – the truth. He didn’t feel brave enough to do it.

Chloe turned once she was out of the door and looked at Lucifer. He was looking like he wanted something, but didn’t know what. Like he had used to so often those first months they had been working together. Chloe almost felt sorry for him.

I...” Lucifer began, but didn’t know how to finish. It felt like she was running from him. He wanted to stop her yet he knew there was no point in doing so. He hadn’t planned to even see her ever again, yet here he was, unable to let her leave.

Yes?” Chloe whispered, her face hopeful.

I… I’ll see you around.”

Chloe nodded, her face falling. She turned and walked away quickly.

Wow,” God drawled, “now I see why you don’t have a girlfriend...”

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, Amenadiel’s apartment

Linda sat in an armchair, staring fixedly at God, who was seated opposite her on the couch wearing nothing but His boxers. She was, very possibly, in shock. She had imagined God many times in many different ways but never as an old man in boxers…

They had told her everything. About Heaven’s Gate being closed, about the Gates of Hell being most likely open. About God losing His memory (and now His clothes too, it seemed), about Lucifer gaining God’s divinity and regaining his wings. She understood barely half of it as usual. But the message was clear – they were all in deep shit if they didn’t return things to normal, which meant finding whoever was behind it all and – as Vanessa had said – neutralizing them.

And here she was – a mere human among knights, angels, a demon, an immortal man and God, for God’s sake – apparently needed to win this supernatural fight. Oh, no pressure at all…

“Before we start,” Linda said to God, “I’d appreciate it if you put more clothes on.”

“Come now, doctor. I’m not making you all excited, am I?” God asked, winking at her.

“No,” Linda replied slowly, unable to process that God was actually flirting with her, “but you’re making me very nervous.”

God frowned in disappointment but went to grant the doctor her wish. Linda turned and watched Him disappear into the bathroom. When the door closed behind Him, she addressed the others. They had all been watching her interaction with God, making it even more awkward.

“I need some room to do this properly.”

“Well, Amenadiel’s apartment isn’t exactly a palace,” Lucifer drawled, still wearing nothing but the towel. “Not counting the bathroom, there’s only one more room and it isn’t even big enough for all of us to squeeze in. You should have seen the way we all slept here. Not funny at all.”

“Then go outside,” Linda suggested. “Hypnosis is a very tricky thing. I need as much tranquility as I can get. And your Father needs to feel completely safe before we begin or it won’t work. And just to be clear I’m not saying that it will work. Regaining lost memories is a slow process and some patients never get them back. And hypnosis isn’t exactly a reliable method to do that. And besides, you know... He’s technically not even human.”

Lucifer sighed. “Alright. Everybody out!” There was a collective murmur as no-one seemed to like the idea. And no-one moved.

“Go on, then,” Lucifer prodded. “You, obedient German, take the Jew for a walk.” Lucifer turned to Hirschel. “A little sunshine will do wonders for your skin. Trust me, you will never attract any female attention with that deathly pallor. Not that you have many chances with the huge protruding ears and the bald head with wrinkled face and… well, you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Hirschel didn’t react to Lucifer’s words at all, completely unperturbed by them, while Johann just sighed. Going outside was the last thing he wanted to do with that thing out there, but he didn’t dare defy the Devil, especially when he was already in his bad books. He got up from the chair he had been occupying and extended his hand to the ancient man. “Come on, Hirschel, let’s have some ice-cream.”

“What’s an ice-cream?” Hirschel asked.

Lucifer frowned as Hirschel slowly hobbled past him. “How long were you in that vault?”

The Jew stopped and thought for a while. “What year is it?”

Lucifer shook his head. “Never mind, just… be careful with the ice-cream. I don’t recommend one with peanuts for a beginner.”

“I’ll be in the hall, guarding the door,” Vanessa said, and taking her machete, left the apartment.

Lucifer looked at his brother meaningfully.

“It’s my apartment, Luci,” Amenadiel complained.

“Do you want Father back or not?” Lucifer asked. It did the trick; Amenadiel straightened from the wall he had been leaning against and headed to the door. He stopped next to Lucifer.

“What about you?”

“I have a trip to make,” Lucifer replied. “Remember?” Amenadiel nodded and turned to leave.

“Wait!” Maze stopped him. “You shouldn’t go alone. Not with that thing out there trying to get you.”

Amenadiel sighed. “I don’t need a babysitter, Maze.”

Maze snorted. “You weren’t such a big tough guy last night when you were bleeding to death.” Her words only made Amenadiel glare at her.

“It’s daylight, I doubt that creature would try anything with witnesses all around.” He grabbed his jacket and left his apartment without a backwards glance.

Maze hesitated. She really didn’t want to let Amenadiel go outside on his own but there was Lucifer and Linda to consider. They both needed her right now too.

“What, Maze?” Lucifer felt her trepidation. “Go after him if you must.”

She gestured to the door. “You think that the small human with the ridiculously big knife can protect Linda and your Father if that thing from yesterday decides to pay them a visit?”

Lucifer smiled. “I’ve seen Miss Burrow fight. She’s one worthy opponent… And she’d be even better if helped by you,” he suggested, lifting his eyebrows meaningfully.

Maze shook her head. “I should go with you,” she stated, her mind finally made up.

Lucifer sighed. Yeah, the trip to Hell… That was something he had been postponing since the early morning. He really didn’t want to go down there. Maybe it would be wise to take Maze with him but after what she had told him about Wibly he thought it better if she stayed here. Just in case Wibly did show up on Amenadiel’s doorstep...

“No need, Maze,” Lucifer drawled. “I have this,” he took the Spear and made it glow a little just to show he was ready for anything. But was he?

“What if a door sucks you in like the last time you were there? Who’s gonna get you out this time?”

“Last time I was a powerless soul, Maze. Now I’m much more than that.” He spread his wings, ready to get out of there just to end his argument with Maze, but was distracted by a sudden gasp behind him. He turned and discovered Linda was staring at his wings open-mouthed, practically drooling.

“Right,” Lucifer muttered. “I forgot what an impact they can have...”

“The demons will try to get you,” Maze pointed out.

“I know,” Lucifer answered stubbornly.

“Lucifer,” Linda breathed.

“There’s no need to worry for me, darling.”

“I’m not. I just wanted to point out that you’re still wearing a towel.”

Lucifer looked down at himself. He had no inclination to put the lumberjack clothes Vanessa had bought him back on. He yanked the towel off and smirked at Linda. “Better?”

Maze snorted while Linda stared, her eyes darting between Lucifer’s magnificent wings and his magnificent… no, Linda! Her body tensed with unwanted arousal as memories of the mindblowing sex she’d had with Lucifer flooded back. Oh, she wished they could do it again, just once… No, no, no - he is your patient, Linda! Keep it professional! She closed her eyes with difficulty and took a deep breath, suppressing the overwhelming urge to lay her hands on him.

Lucifer, of course, had no intention of visiting Hell in his birthday suit. His plan was simple. To stop at his penthouse and get some decent clothes first. He wouldn't be caught dead in Hell wearing jeans and a flannel shirt! He’d rather risk any kind of war with demons and unnameable monsters just to avoid wearing those bloody things again.

“You’re going to fly over the city? Like this?” Linda asked, disturbed by the thought.

“Not exactly,” Lucifer replied, and clutching the Spear with both hands he took off. Meaning he simply teleported to his destination.

As he landed in the middle of the penthouse he found it completely empty. He put on a nice black Armani with a crisp blue shirt beneath it.

“Ah, much better,” he sighed with relief. He finally felt like his old self again. “Now for the hard part,” he whispered as he spread his wings once more, heading to the nether dimension this time.

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment

When God emerged from the bathroom, cleaned, combed and clothed, He found the room empty but for the doctor. “Where is everyone?”

“They agreed to give us some space. But don’t worry, Vanessa and Maze are guarding the door. We’re completely safe.”

“And my sons?”

“Amenadiel went out and Lucifer went to Hell.”

God frowned as He sat on the couch. “I don’t like it. I mean I don’t like Lucifer going to Hell.”

“Why not?” Linda asked although she knew she probably shouldn’t start this conversation at all. “You sent him there once yourself, after all.”

God frowned, looking affronted. “Maybe. But that was before.”

“Before what?” Linda prodded, all too aware He had no answer for that. But that was OK, her aim wasn’t to get an answer from Him, but to make Him think about one.

“Do you have memory problems too?” God snapped tetchily.

Linda smiled knowingly, nodding slightly. The terrible Father as Lucifer had always depicted Him seemed to be just as anxious about their relationship as Lucifer was. He seemed to realize He’d been unnecessarily impolite and softened a bit, looking at Linda apologetically. He took a breath and struggled to express Himself.

“I wonder what it’s like down there. It must be a terrible place...” God shuddered. “I don't even know if I've ever gone there.”

Linda nodded again. He was afraid for His son but unable to say it. How very… human. “One thing I’ve learned about Lucifer is that he is quite resourceful. Whatever is waiting for him there, he’ll deal with it,” she tried to soothe His worries.

“Hm,” God grumbled, but looked a bit calmer. He hesitated a moment before returning to the previous topic. “I know they say I sent him to Hell as a punishment all those years ago,” He admitted, “but...”

“You don’t believe it?”

“It just seems so harsh. What exactly did he do to make me punish him thus? I mean I know the story from the Bible, but is it really true?”

Linda shrugged. “I don’t know. Lucifer’s never told me. If you want to find out what really happened, you’ll have to ask your son.”

God snorted. “I think it’s more likely I will regain my memory than get a straight answer from Lucifer.”

Linda nodded, smiling. She agreed. Lucifer was hard to get to know if he didn’t want you to. And with most people he didn’t want them to.

“I think he hates me.” God whispered.

Linda tilted her head thoughtfully. “And why do you think that?”

“He is rude and detached and some of the things he says...” God shook His head.

“Most children are troublesome at some point in their lives,” Linda countered. “It doesn’t mean he hates you.”

“What else would you call it? Playing hard to get?”

“Maybe he’s just trying to keep you at a distance.”

“Why?” God asked. “To punish me for what I did to him?”

“Maybe… or maybe he’s just afraid of what would happen if you two get close and then you got your memory back. That maybe you’d be the one hating him...”

“My dear woman, I don’t hate my son! I may not remember my own name, but I know how I feel!”

Linda nodded, a small smile playing around her lips. Oh, she wished she could treat these two together, as father and son. That would be a challenge. “Your relationship is obviously very complicated and affected by your past. If you want to repair it, it will take a lot of effort from both of you. And a lot of time too.”

God grumbled.

“But that’s not why we’re here now,” Linda reminded Him.

“Oh, yes. My blasted memory. OK, doctor, fix me up.”

“It won’t be that simple. I may not be able to help you at all.”

“But there’s no harm in trying, is there?”

Linda smiled. She couldn’t help it. She had taken a shine to the old man - God!

She instructed Him to lie comfortably on the couch and close His eyes. “Now I’m going to count from one to ten slowly and I want you to focus fully on my words. With every number you will feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed…”

She started counting slowly in a calm voice.

*******

Hell

Lucifer arrived in Hell a few minutes later, his wings enabling him to enter the realm without the need to use any of the Gates. He landed elegantly in one of the oldest parts. It had been there before his time as ruler, the structure built by demons who were probably long dead by now. The cold black walls of the corridors reached higher here than in other parts, sheltering them from most of the ash.

Lucifer looked around and found the corridor empty. No demons anywhere. He turned left and started to march through the long hallway, passing door after door, the torture chambers hidden behind them countless millennia old. He had visited them all when he had arrived in Hell the first time, curious to know what kind of people earned a stay here. He stopped by one of them and hesitated. He should probably check if everything was in order, but he didn’t fancy going through any of the doors - he remembered the trap Hell had prepared for him the last time. No, he wouldn’t go there. Not yet, anyway.

He decided to find one of the Gates and check the lock and the seal. He should probably check them all to see which had been broken and repair them before he left. What a tedious job that would be though… He turned left and then right, coming to a small, hexagonal room with a Gate on the opposite side to the entrance. Lucifer gritted his teeth as he found it unlocked with one door ajar slightly. He opened the Gate fully to see where this one led. He didn’t remember where they all led since there were hundreds of them.

There was something like a steppe on the other side, full of cows grazing peacefully. A young girl on a horse passed by, reminding Lucifer that one of the Gates opened onto Mongolia. Yes, that would probably be somewhere in Mongolia. The girl stopped her horse and turned in Lucifer’s direction, looking straight at him almost like she could see him. But Lucifer knew she couldn’t. Only demons and the souls that Hell had claimed could pass a Gate or see through it. But Hell whispered to every soul, dead or alive and the girl probably felt its lure. She shook her head like she was trying to clear it and urged her horse onward, not looking back. Smart girl...

Lucifer closed the Gate and contemplated his options. There were some spare locks in the palace he could use but a lock was easily broken… even the demons could break a lock. He should seal the Gate. But it required time and was it even worth it? Whoever had opened the Gate had broken the seal too, so maybe even resealing it was pointless.

He returned to the corridor. One thing was clear. If this Gate led to Mongolia, other Gates must be open too; the demons that had attacked the Templars’ headquarters surely hadn’t come all the way from Asia. He tried to remember where the Gates leading to America were located, and headed right, away from the oldest part of Hell.

As he continued walking he wondered what had happened to all the demons. It wasn’t like Hell’s corridors were usually swarming with them but there should be guards, walking the corridors and guarding the torture chambers. But he hadn’t encountered a single one.

Lucifer came to a stop suddenly, spotting something weird in the towering stone wall. It looked like a crack with something dark seeping from it. He stepped closer and put a finger to the liquid, inspecting it closely. It reminded him of tree sap, it was sticky and dense, but its color was different – deep red, like the color of blood. He had never known how appropriate the phrase ‘bloody hell’ was, until now.

“What the...” he trailed off, having no clue what he was looking at. He may had been the Master of Hell for a very long time, but he wasn’t its creator. Even he didn’t know all of its secrets.

He looked up to see where the fissure led, but couldn’t see its end. He unfolded his wings and leapt into the air, following the crack up. It ended suddenly, almost at the top of the wall; the red liquid seeping through the fissure its whole length.

Lucifer landed again on the other side of the wall, entering another hexagonal room with a Gate. This one was open too. He looked out and saw it led to a city, the cobbled streets and Renaissance houses suggesting somewhere in Europe.

Lucifer left it and hurried to the next Gate room he remembered. Just like the previous ones this Gate was open too. He tried two more Gates and found them in the same state. Open.

It seemed Johann was right after all. The Gates of Hell were open – probably all of them.

Lucifer encountered more cracks on his way, all of them seeping the same red liquid. The further he got from the oldest parts, the more frequent the cracks were. Something was definitely very wrong with Hell. It almost seemed like… it was falling apart.

*******

Los Angeles, near Amenadiel’s apartment

Amenadiel headed to the nearest park. He sat on a bench and looked around him. It was mostly empty at this early morning hour. There were only a few runners around and a few dead souls hanging here and there, lost without the beacon of Heaven to guide them to their rightful afterlife.

Amenadiel fished his phone from his pocket and dialed his mother.

“Son? Anything new? Are you getting closer to catching Azrael’s killer?”

“That’s why I’m calling, Mom. We tracked down a suspect last night. But it...” he trailed off, not sure how to finish the sentence.

“Yes? Did you kill the filthy person?”

“No. Mom, it’s not a human.”

“A demon? I knew it!”

“No, Mom, not a demon. I don’t know what it is. But Maze hit it with her knives several times and it didn’t even feel any pain.”

There was a pause on the other side. “Is this thing corporeal or is it just a soul?”

“It’s taken a vessel – Angela Wibly.”

“Isn’t that the woman who was the prime suspect?”

“How do you know about her?” Amenadiel asked, realizing his mistake in mentioning the name.

“I did my research,” Charlotte answered smoothly.

“Mom, don’t do anything stupid!” The last thing he needed was his mother on a vengeance mission.

“Please,” Charlotte scoffed. “Does it have any special powers?”

“Just supernatural strength and complete immortality as far as we know. And the demons follow it.”

Amenadiel hoped his mom would shed some light upon this mystery but there was no reaction.

“You should be careful,” he added. “We think it might be behind the closing of Heaven’s Gate. We don’t know what it wants but… it seemed to be after me. Maybe it’s after all divine beings.”

“Lucifer?!”

Amenadiel sighed. Of course she would think about him first. “I spoke with him.”

“You did? How is he? Where is he?”

“In Hell.”

“What?!”

“He’s on a mission there. But he’s safe, Mom. You don’t have to worry about him. You should worry about yourself. This thing… it’s really strong. If you happen to encounter a group of demons or a one-eyed girl, you’d better run.”

There was a scoff from the other end of the line.

“I mean it, Mom.”

“Alright. Don’t worry, son. I must go now. I have work to do.”

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment

“Where are you now?” Linda asked gently.

“Home, I suppose,” God answered sleepily.

“Can you describe it?”

“It’s bright. And… green. There’s grass everywhere. And turrets. Silver turrets.”

“That’s good. Are you alone?”

“Ah… I don’t think so but I can’t see anyone.”

Linda reached for her phone and found what she needed, touching the ‘play’ button. Edith Piaf’s song filled the room.

“I want you to return to the day the Gate closed.”

God whimpered.

“Can you do that?”

“I don’t want to,” He whined like a child.

“You don’t have to worry, I’ll come with you.”

“Alright,” He agreed reluctantly and took a deep breath.

“What do you see now?”

He shook His head. “Nothing. But… I think I hear something.”

“What?”

“Something’s ticking. Like a clock.”

“I want you to focus on it and follow it. Follow the sound. Can you hear it getting closer?”

God frowned. “It’s not good.”

“Why not?”

God shook His head. “It’s not good. I don’t want to go there. Can we go somewhere else, please?”

“You don’t have to worry. You’re safe.”

*******

Hell

Lucifer wasn’t sure what to do next. If he left, he would return empty-handed. With no information except that Hell was ‘bleeding’, for lack of a better word, and that all the Gates were wide open.

He decided to investigate the torture chambers next but didn’t fancy going through any of the doors. So he just walked the corridors and touched one cell after another, pushing his ear to the door and listening intently. It seemed that the damned souls were still trapped inside. So at least the chambers still worked as they should...

Suddenly, he heard a noise behind him and when he turned he saw a demon coming around the corner. The creature stopped, baring its teeth like a wild animal.

“Where is everyone?!” Lucifer demanded. “And how is it possible the Gates are open?”

The demon hissed. “You shouldn’t have come back, Morningstar. Hell has a new ruler now.”

“Who?” Lucifer demanded, taking a step closer to the demon.

“The One.”

“‘One’ what?”

The demon started to laugh. “The One,” he repeated. “The First.”

“Did he open the Gates?”

“It’s not a ‘he’.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Did she open the Gates?”

“It’s not a ‘she’,” the demon spat.

Lucifer frowned, his patience running short. “Answer me.”

“Yes, if you must know. The One opened the Gates.”

“How?” It wasn’t possible for anyone to just break the seals. His seals…

“You must ask the One.”

“Where do I find this ‘One’?”

The demon shrugged. “Don’t know, don’t care.”

“Bloody Hell,” Lucifer cursed, completely out of patience now. He jumped at the demon and caught him around the neck. “What is this thing? Where did it come from?”

The demon laughed.

“Speak!” Lucifer bellowed, threatening him with the Spear.

“The Pit,” the demon replied, making Lucifer release him and take a step back in shock. That part of Hell was the oldest and the most protected in the whole realm. There were creatures locked down there that few dared to approach - creatures from the beginning of time. Lucifer had been in the Pit only a few times and didn’t wish to repeat the experience.

“Have you come to kill the One with this fine blade?” the demon asked and touched the Spear, probably out of curiosity. Unfortunately for him, the blade was sharp enough to draw blood with the smallest touch, and the demon was instantly turned into ash. Lucifer didn’t mind as he knew what he had to do now. He had to go down into The Pit and find out which cell was open. He gulped. That was probably the worst idea he’d had in a very long time.

*******

Los Angeles, in front of Amenadiel’s apartment

“Nice knife,” Maze observed Vanessa’s machete resting in its holster on the girl’s hip, her words ending the insufferable silence. “It looks familiar. Reminds me of the weapon of a demon I knew once...”

Vanessa shrugged. “Hope you weren’t too close.”

Maze grinned. “Can’t say we were...”

“Good.”

“Why is that?” Maze asked, although she guessed the answer.

“Let’s say he didn’t give me the weapon of his own free will.”

“This blade was forged in Hell,” Maze pointed out.

“I know.”

“It can kill many kinds of supernatural creatures.”

“I know,” Vanessa repeated with a small smile and looked at Maze haughtily. “That’s why I’ve kept it.”

“You don’t like me,” Maze stated. She had known it from the first time they’d laid eyes on each other. Vanessa tried to hide it but it was carved in her countenance and her body posture.

“Why should I?” Vanessa snapped. “You’re a demon.”

“Jealous?”

Vanessa snorted “No. Just disgusted.”

Maze turned to her fully and took a step closer to look in her eyes. “Why?”

Vanessa grabbed the handle of the machete, feeling the hair on her arms rise. She always had this reaction when a demon came too close. “Because you have no soul, no conscience, no manners...”

“You’re the one talking about manners?” Maze sneered.

Vanessa’s lips pulled back in a snarl. “At least I know what the word means.”

Maze scoffed. “Yeah I get it. Some nasty demon got too close to the little princess and now she hates them all. Am I right?”

Vanessa glared daggers at Maze. She wondered if Lucifer would mind if she just killed her. “Yesterday an army of demons slaughtered my comrades like they were nothing more than insects. So yeah, I hate them and you’re all the same to me…”

Maze bared her teeth. She so despised these hypocrites. “If you weren’t human and Lucifer’s new… whatever, I would slice you to pieces.”

Vanessa took a step closer, eyes blazing and standing nose to nose with Maze. “If you weren’t Lucifer’s oldwhatever, I would rip your guts open.”

“Please don’t,” Amenadiel’s voice came from the end of the hall. “I like this place. I imagine the landlord wouldn’t take it well if there were entrails scattered in front of my door.”

The tension subsided a bit and the women took a step away from each other.

“You’re back early,” Maze pointed out, hoping to get more information.

“I did what I needed to do,” Amenadiel replied calmly and came to stand between the two women.

“And that was?” Maze prodded, though she was fairly certain she already knew.

Amenadiel sighed. It seemed all they needed him for was to pass info. “There’s one more person that might be in danger.”

Maze nodded, smirking. “You called your mommy,” she drawled reproachfully.

“M… mommy?” Vanessa stammered, looking shocked. And here she thought nothing could shock her anymore…

“She is divine too, remember?” Amenadiel reminded her. “If that thing is after angels and Father, there is a good chance it would be after her too.”

Maze shrugged. “Wouldn’t mind if it got her...”

“Mother?” Vanessa repeated again, still trying to comprehend. How come she’d never heard about her? “Like a… Goddess?”

“Yes,” Amenadiel replied while Maze laughed.

“Wow.” Vanessa shook her head in disbelief. “I guess it makes sense that God didn’t grow you in a garden...”

“Pity He didn’t try,” Maze smirked, earning a glare from Amenadiel, “maybe it would have been an improvement.”

“Wait!” Vanessa exclaimed. “If she’s a Goddess, can’t she heal God?”

“No,” Amenadiel answered. “She doesn’t have her own body. Her powers are quite limited.”

“Shit...”

“See,” Maze drawled, “no Goddess.”

*******

Hell

Lucifer landed next to the entrance to the Pit and held the Spear tight. He hoped this weapon would kill anything that might come out of there. If not, he was as good as dead.

The entrance was as unremarkable as any entrance into a cave. Because the Pit was just that – a cave. The entrance was a hole in the rock with a simple inscription above – Enter at your own risk.

Lucifer took a deep breath and went cautiously in, a small chill running along his spine. He looked into the darkness below and ignited the Spear to light up the stairs. There were 1111 of them; it was a long way down into the bowels of Hell.

He walked all the way down carefully. He came to a space dominated by complete darkness and silence, the air dry and stale. It seemed like nothing but death resided here but he knew it was just an illusion.

He sent a surge of power to the Spear in his hand and let it glow brightly to illuminate his surroundings. The light reflected on the doors of cells but couldn’t reach the ceiling as it was too high above his head. The darkness pushed in on all sides, swallowing the light hungrily.

He walked slowly through the long corridor. There were many doors on both sides, locked and heavily protected with divine seals. All of them were labelled with the name of the inhabitant written in old Hebrew. Lucifer didn’t want to even speak the names as most of them invoked dread inside him. He remembered some of the creatures, as he and his siblings had put them there. It had taken the combined power of a dozen angels to subdue these things, some existing from the beginning of time itself. He couldn’t imagine how he alone could face one of them. And yet he kept going deeper, eyes open wide and the Spear ready.

All the cells he had passed so far were closed and locked. Maybe the demon had been lying. Maybe he’d just wanted to scare him.

Something banged on the door on his right and Lucifer jumped. But the door held. Oh, he hoped the demon had lied about ‘the One’... Suddenly, the photo of his dead sister swam in his mind’s eye, the number one on her cheek now giving him chills. The moment he had laid eyes on her picture he had known the number was significant somehow, but he couldn’t figure out why. It was like a distant memory was calling to him. As he advanced deeper into the Pit, the memory became clearer and the chills turned into a heavy feeling of dread. That couldn’t be it. It wasn’t time yet… He fidgeted with the ring on his finger; it had begun to throb and it got worse the closer he got to the end of the cave. It demanded to be used, to unleash the thing locked at the bottom of the Pit.

Lucifer finally came to a stop, staring at the four cells at the end of the tunnel, marked one to four in Hebrew numbers. His breath hitched in his throat as he saw cell number one was opened and empty.

“No, no, no… it can’t be. It’s not time yet...” He stood there for what felt like an eternity, still hoping this was some kind of a wild nightmare. But as the picture before him didn’t change, he knew he must get out of there as quickly as possible. He turned, spread his wings and with fast strokes fled the place, his heart beating wildly in his chest. He couldn’t fight this thing. He couldn’t stop this thing. No-one but his Father could. The Father who remembered nothing...

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment

“Please,” God pleaded, sounding pathetic.

“Follow the sound,” Linda pressed Him despite her own better judgement. “What is it?”

“The clock. It’s the clock… It… broke.”

Linda took a deep breath. This was exasperating. Here she was, hypnotizing God Himself and he was going on about a clock… “Is it such a bad thing?”

“I must warn my children. It will come after them! It will destroy them. All of them!”

“What will?” Linda demanded.

“The darkness.”

“What darkness?”

“Please! I must go. Let me go!” God fairly shouted, starting to sweat profusely. Linda knew she had already overstepped the line. She shouldn’t have pushed Him so. It was dangerous.

“Alright.”

“Let me go!” God shouted, sounding hurt. The door burst open and Vanessa with Amenadiel and Maze ran in.

“What’s going on?” Vanessa asked but Linda lifted her palm to stop her.

“I will count from ten to one... and you will feel an increasing sense of peace, your mind will quieten... and on the count of one you will wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed,” Linda said calmly. As Linda's soothing voice counted backwards, God's stricken expression relaxed and his breathing evened out. At the count of 'one', God slowly opened His eyes, blinking rapidly.

“That was quite unpleasant,” God commented dryly, frowning accusingly at Linda.

“I’m sorry,” Linda apologized. “I tried to help you remember.”

“Did it work?” Vanessa asked.

Linda shook her head. “The only thing He said was something about a broken clock and darkness. And a need to warn His children.”

“Darkness?” Amenadiel repeated, looking troubled. The air stirred suddenly and Lucifer appeared in the middle of the smallish room, his wings hitting the walls on both sides as he landed. He looked like something had spooked him. He was all sweaty and breathing hard, looking around the room like he had never seen the people before.

“Lucifer?” Amenadiel called his brother, taking few steps closer to his brother. “What is it? What did you find out?”

“The Gates are open. All of them,” Lucifer said, his eyes still shifting from person to person. There was no response as everyone sensed Lucifer wasn’t finished. They waited for him to gather himself enough to continue.

“I… I went to the Pit,” Lucifer stammered.

“The Pit?” Maze repeated, eyes growing wide.

“Luci, has something escaped from the Pit?” Amenadiel asked, starting to get worried as he realized Lucifer was truly scared. He was never scared.

Lucifer nodded slowly. “The One.”

“Not that I understand a thing,” Linda said slowly, “but one… what?”

“Rider. The first Rider of the Apocalypse.”

Chapter Text

Los Angeles, North Long Beach

Timothy Dunlap wasn’t anyone you could call remarkable or interesting. He was simply average. He had a wife, two kids (adult now), a dog, a house with a mortgage, a bachelor degree in philosophy and an exhausting job as a high school teacher. His life was pretty ordinary, just like he had always imagined it would be. And he loved it. But it all changed rather abruptly one morning.

He left his house to walk the dog before going to work, just like every other day. But today he met a young woman who literally stopped him in his tracks. The dog took one look at her and turned and bolted, painfully wrenching the leash from his hands.

Timothy watched the woman as she staggered towards him. She had only one eye, huge and glassy blue, and long hair hung around her face in greasy ropes. There was a weird mark scratched on her cheek, and she was dressed in filthy clothes stained with something that looked like dried blood. And what was that protruding from her midsection? It looked disturbingly like a piece of intestine. This was Hollywood, the land of make believe, but even so, the makeup job was top notch; she was creepy beyond imagination. And then the stench hit him; she smelled even worse than she looked. Like a skunk on a very bad day.

“You will do,” the woman growled.

At first he thought it was one of his students’ pranks, but then he realized that the missing eye was for real. He faltered, so shocked at the injury it took him several seconds to think of calling 911. But as he was reaching into his pocket, the woman jumped at him and grabbed him by the throat with incredible strength for someone in such a horrific state. He tried to fight her, but her grip was like iron, and she was slowly choking the life out of him. Just as his vision started to go dark and he was sure he was about to die, she relaxed her grip and clawed him viciously on the cheek, leaving deep gouges. He gasped in pain and sucked in huge lungfuls of air, dizziness causing his legs to buckle beneath him. She held him up easily, sucking his blood off her fingers, closing her eye in delight and moaning obscenely. Her gaze focused once more on him, and she grabbed his scratched face with both hands. She leaned closer, and Timothy's stomach heaved as he realised what she was about to do... He wanted to close his eyes, but he was held in thrall like a rodent to a cobra, unable to tear his gaze away. He watched in helpless horror as she pressed her putrid lips to his.

And then her body fell to the ground.

*******

Los Angeles, the LAPD precinct

In all the versions of their meeting that Chloe had imagined, she had never thought it would be like this. She had always believed Lucifer would come back because of her. She’d imagined he would beg, make excuses, make jokes – lots of them – or to be honest with himself for once and tell her he’d freaked out because of her almost dying. But this… this… indifference, she hadn’t imagined that. Like he didn’t care what she thought or what she felt.

And maybe he didn’t. He hadn’t come back to her after all. He had come back because he was in some kind of trouble. And he didn’t need her help. He didn’t want her help. He didn’t want her…

When the shock of that realization wore off, anger was all that was left.

Congratulations, Chloe, you made a fool of yourself once again, her mind whispered mockingly. You let yourself care for someone who apparently doesn’t care about you in that way… how typical. And wasn’t that the story of her life? Maybe she should write a book about it – oh, yeah - ‘How Not to Find Mr. Right’ by Chloe Fool Decker. She’d make a fortune.

Meanwhile, she had yesterday’s blood-drenched shirt with her and she was ready to find out the truth. She would give the shirt to Ella to test and find out if the blood was human. And if it was human, she would find out if there were traces of drugs in it.

Chloe strode purposefully through the precinct, barely greeting her colleagues. She must have looked terrifying because they got quickly out of her way as she neared them.

Not really surprised, she found Dan with a spare coffee waiting for her at her desk. Oh, she was so not in the mood to deal with him right now.

“You all right, Chlo?” he asked, worry wrinkling his brow.

“No, I’m not alright,” she hissed.

“Do you want to talk about yesterday and the…” he lowered his voice, “God stuff?”

Chloe glared at him. “I really don’t!” she spat, taking the coffee from him rather forcefully, splashing his hand with the hot liquid. Dan hissed in pain and waved his hand to cool it but didn’t say a word.

Chloe knew she was being a bitch but she couldn't help it. She felt so angry and Dan just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But what did he care, anyway? He'd moved on, to one of Lucifer's exes, no less. And was she herself Lucifer's ex now too? Had they even been in a relationship when all they'd done was kiss once?

“Listen, Dan, I don’t have time to…” she waved her arm, not sure what to call it, “chat with you. So can you just get to the point?”

Dan leaned closer and after checking the other detectives in the bullpen and making sure they were out of earshot, he whispered, “Do you know if Maze has taken care of yesterday’s problem?”

So that’s what this was about – he was afraid they would be found out. “Actually she didn’t come home last night. So I went to Amenadiel’s apartment this morning to check on them.”

“And? Are they OK?”

“Yeah, they seemed OK. They were having a family meeting.”

“Family meeting?”

“Yeah, you know… God, the Devil, some other people...”

Dan took a deep breath, finally understanding her hostile mood. “Lucifer’s back.”

“Hm,” Chloe nodded.

“And he didn’t tell you?”

Chloe shrugged. “Why should he? It’s not like we’re -” she didn’t finish because they might not be lovers or anything like that, but they were still friends, weren’t they? “Anyway, he doesn’t need me, he’ll solve his problems on his own.”

Dan nodded again, folding his arms across his chest. He knew exactly how Chloe was feeling when she closed herself off like this. Betrayed, and trying to pretend it didn’t hurt. “I’m sorry it ended this way, Chloe.”

Ended? Chloe blinked. Why had he said ‘ended’? Nothing had ended, had it?

“Look on the bright side,” Dan said with a small smile. “You don’t have to date the Devil. Imagine if you two had a kid – having a baby is chaotic enough but yours would start the Apocalypse.”

Chloe shook her head. Dan was trying to cheer her up but it wasn’t going to work. “I’m still not one hundred percent convinced Lucifer is the Devil. Trust me, you don’t want to see the person who claims to be God,” Chloe replied.

“You mean you actually met God?” Dan asked, taken aback.

“I don’t know. He looked like someone’s forgotten grandpa. If He’s really God, He’s hiding it well. But I will find out.” Oh, yes, she was determined now. If Lucifer will let me near him, Chloe added silently and her heart sank with the realization that Lucifer might not even want to see her again. And why was she more scared by that thought than by the thought he might truly be the Devil?

“Is Ella here?” she asked, remembering her plan for her blood-covered shirt.

“No. She was called out on a case. I guess we might be too very soon.”

Oh yes, Chloe had forgotten she was free as her old case was in the hands of the FBI now. As if someone had read her mind, her phone rang and she was informed they had a job.

*******

Los Angeles, North Long Beach

The first thing Chloe saw when she and Dan arrived at the crime scene was Ella goggling at her. Her eyes were almost comically wide - she reminded Chloe of a cartoon character who'd just discovered a stick of dynamite in their trousers.

“Hey, Ella. What do we have here?”

“You know, after I saw a dead angel I thought nothing would ever beat that. But this gives the expression ‘hair-raising’ a new definition.”

Chloe and Dan followed the petite woman to the crime scene. As Chloe neared the spot, a bad feeling started crawling up her spine.

A girl lay on the pavement on her back, one sightless eye staring at the sky. Chloe’s breath caught in her throat.

“No ID, no phone, no nothing,” Ella said. “Everything’s missing. Including one eye and a good portion of flesh and viscera. Jeez, dude, it reminds me of Jack the Ripper. Anyway, you would think that the huge hole in her middle is what killed her, but there’s an eyewitness who says he saw her walk here. Under her own steam. And as you can see, no blood anywhere. And another bizarre thing is that she has the same mark on her cheek that the angel had. Which means that either our serial killer can’t count or the marks mean something else. Do you think it’s the same killer? If so, shouldn’t we call the Feds? But you’re not listening to me at all so I guess I can answer the questions on my own? And I choose ‘yes’ to all three?”

“Sorry Ella,” Chloe shook her head and finally met the forensic expert’s gaze. “You were saying?”

“Yes, I was. You know, you two are staring at the body funny… almost like you’ve seen it before?”

Chloe sighed and glanced at Dan before she answered. “Yes. It’s Angela Wibly.”

“Are you freakin' kidding me?” Ella exclaimed, her huge eyes getting even bigger. “You mean the suspect from the angel case? I heard the name but never saw the surveillance tape. Not that I would even recognize her now. Are you sure it’s her?”

Chloe nodded.

“Chloe?” Dan whispered, deathly pale. Chloe walked with him a few strides away, out of earshot.

“I thought Maze took care of it?” he asked quietly.

“She did. She told me so.”

“Fuck! What are we gonna do?”

Chloe shrugged. What could they do? “Call the Feds.”

“What?” Dan yelped.

“It must be connected to the angel case. If we don’t call the FBI, someone else will and we’ll only look suspicious.”

“But -”

“Listen,” Chloe interrupted, “neither of us even touched her. We should be fine.”

“OK,” Dan agreed. “I’ll call my new best friend at the FBI,” he said sarcastically, remembering the arrogant black man.

Chloe nodded and returned to the scene while Dan went to his car to make the call.

“Everything alright between the two of you?” Ella drawled, her eyes searching Chloe’s face.

“Yes,” Chloe replied, looking at the corpse. She was dying to know what had happened. She knew she shouldn’t snoop as it was officially a federal case, but… “You said there was a witness?”

“Yes,” Ella pointed at an old man waiting by a police car. “Mr. Riley.”

Chloe nodded her thanks and walked over to the man. “Mr. Riley, I’m Detective Decker from the LAPD. Can you tell me what you saw?”

The man looked scared and guilty. “I was taking a walk this morning and saw Mr. Dunlap walking his dog. He does that every morning, you know. And then I saw the girl. She walked up to him and they talked. I think they talked. I don’t – I mean, my eyes aren’t that good anymore. Maybe if I’d paid more attention -”

“It’s not your fault, Mr. Riley. Just take your time and tell me what happened next.”

Mr. Riley nodded and took several deep breaths. “It almost looked like she grabbed him. I thought that maybe they knew each other. I think she kissed him.”

“Kissed him?”

“Yes. It looked like a kiss. But I don’t see well anymore. Maybe it wasn’t a kiss after all.”

“OK. What happened next?”

“The girl fell to the ground and Mr. Dunlap just walked away. I called after him but he didn’t seem to hear me. I hurried to the girl, but she was... already dead.” The old man shuddered. “Then I called the police.”

“Thank you, Mr. Riley,” Chloe said and turned, but the old man stopped her, laying his hand on her arm.

“Detective Decker, whatever happened, I want you to know that Mr. Dunlap is a very nice fellow. It can’t be his fault.”

“OK. I’ll remember that,” Chloe said and returned to the crime scene.

“Weird, huh?” Ella said and then pointed at the corpse. “You think she could be something other than human?”

“Hm,” Chloe hummed, not really listening to her. Maze had said something about Wibly being immortal last night. So how come she was dead now? And how was Dunlap involved in all this? And kissing Wibly? No way – Chloe remembered her encounter with the woman very vividly, and her stomach churned with the memory. No-one would willingly kiss that thing. Weird, now that she thought about it, the body didn't smell half as bad as when it was still walking around.

“What about Dunlap?” she asked Ella.

“Missing. Hasn’t come home,” Ella answered and went to put some samples in her car.

Chloe nodded, still unable to figure out what could have happened here.

“You OK?” Dan asked as he returned to Chloe.

“Yeah, I just -” she didn’t get to finish as a black car sped around the corner and stopped nearby. Agent Haley got out, scowling. He straightened his cravat and ran his fingers through his white, tightly curled hair while his eyes raked the scene, missing nothing.

“Wow,” Dan drawled, “that was fast.”

“Yeah. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’d been lurking around the corner,” Chloe whispered, eyeing the tall black man carefully. Now she knew her suspicions from yesterday were justified. He must have been following her to arrive here so soon. Genetic experiments my ass, she thought.

“Detective Espinoza, Miss Decker,” the man greeted them mockingly. “Why am I not surprised to see you two here?”

Chloe shrugged. “Why am I not surprised it took you all of two minutes to get here?”

“Trying to play detective?” the man asked with a scoff. “Maybe you should consider an acting career. No, wait – been there, done that. Sorry, I forgot it didn’t end well. But thank you anyway for the...” he pointed at her chest, “huge revelation.”

“Hey!” Dan yelled while Chloe stared at the agent, mortified. “You’re way outta line, man!”

“As are you,” the agent replied. “I believe this is my case? So you can step behind the police tape you so considerately put there. Thank you.”

Dan wanted so badly to flatten the jerk, but he knew it would be more trouble than it was worth. He racked his brain for a scathing remark but drew a blank.

“This isn’t over,” Chloe whispered and turned to leave.

“Yes, it is, Detective,” Agent Haley said and watched them both leave, a satisfied smile on his face.

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment

A circle of stunned faces stared wordlessly back at Lucifer. As his words sank in, their expressions changed slowly - Vanessa and Maze looked shocked and ready to lash out, Linda looked confused, God frowned deeply, worry lines appearing between His brows, and Amenadiel’s face showed a mix of both shock and outrage. The silence stretched on interminably; Lucifer could hear his own blood pumping in his ears. No-one moved a muscle as they all watched him, probably hoping he’d say something else, like ‘Only kidding! Psych!’ He wished he could.

Linda finally tilted her head and blinked, trying to wrap her brain around the news. “Did you say ‘Apocalypse’?”

“Yes.”

“Like the biblical Apocalypse?”

“Well, yes,” Lucifer answered. “In a way.”

“But,” Amenadiel woke up from his shock, “it’s not time yet!”

“Don’t I know it?!” Lucifer yelled as he put away his wings and put down the Spear. He went to the sink, poured a glass of water, and gulped it down. He felt like he’d just trekked through half the Sahara.

“How did this happen?” Maze demanded. “How did the Rider get out?”

“I don’t know, Maze. It shouldn’t have. The cell should be locked.”

“Obviously, someone unlocked it,” Vanessa pointed out.

God turned to His sons. “Wasn’t Jesus supposed to start the Apocalypse?”

Lucifer and Amenadiel looked at each other meaningfully. Lucifer nodded slightly and Amenadiel explained. “There are four keys; one for each cell of the Riders. And every key was given to a different person to guard.”

“Who has them then?” Vanessa asked.

“Two were given to men,” Amenadiel continued, “and two to angels. The key from the first cell was for millennia in Father’s possession until He entrusted Jesus with it when he ascended into Heaven.”

God lifted His eyebrows in surprise. “So it was Jesus who opened the cell?”

“Or someone who stole the key from him,” Lucifer suggested.

“Someone who knew about Jesus having it and someone with access to Heaven,” Amenadiel added.

Lucifer sat heavily on the couch, next to his Dad, sighing. So, maybe there was a traitor among his siblings after all. But he couldn’t imagine any of them starting the Apocalypse.

“Who knew about the keys?” Vanessa asked next.

“Only angels. And Dad,” Lucifer replied, glancing at God. “But even the angels don’t know what the keys are. All they know is who has them.”

“What do you mean?” Vanessa asked.

“They can be anything,” Amenadiel explained. “They don’t look like ordinary keys. So if someone really managed to take it from Jesus, they must have beat the information out of him first.”

Lucifer scowled. “Can’t imagine Father’s great miracle giving up such hazardous intel because of a little pain.”

Amenadiel nodded in agreement.

“I can,” Maze snapped. “After all, he is just a human. Every human can be subdued.”

The silence returned. Lucifer felt like the end was coming and there was nothing he could do about it. This was the bloody Apocalypse! It was supposed to be unstoppable.

“So what are we going to do now?” Linda asked the question no-one else dared.

As nobody moved, Vanessa walked to the middle of the room. “As I see it, we have several questions we must find answers to. One – where is the Rider now?”

“I’d bet both of my knives it’s in the body of Angela Wibly,” Maze answered. “The girl didn’t mind in the slightest that I pushed the blade of a forklift through her stomach. Never seen anything like that before.”

“Good,” Vanessa replied. “Question two. What does the Rider want?”

“To end everything, obviously,” Lucifer answered. “It’s its purpose.”

“I’m sorry,” Linda interrupted, “but why do you keep referring to the Rider as an ‘it’?”

“Because it’s not a person,” Amenadiel explained. “It doesn’t have a soul or a body. It has no conscience and no feelings. It’s like a… parasite.”

“What does it parasitize on?” Linda asked, not sure she wanted to hear the answer.

“Souls,” Lucifer said. “It devours souls. It attaches itself to them and eats them until there’s nothing left. And when there’s nothing left, it moves on. And on and on.”

“Question number three,” Vanessa continued, not put off by the revelation. “What about Riders Two to Four?”

“They are locked in their cells,” Lucifer assured her.

“Yes, but what about the keys? Who has them? What if the person who released number One releases the others too?”

Lucifer looked at Amenadiel again. This was supposed to stay secret…

“Wait a minute!” Maze exclaimed, realization dawning on her. “You have one of the keys, don’t you?” she pointed at Amenadiel. “That’s why that thing was after you, isn’t it? That’s why the demons didn’t want to kill you. They just dragged you away… so you could give them the next key.”

Lucifer stared at Maze in admiration... she was right. “That’s what it wants. The other keys, so it can open the other cells and finish the Apocalypse.”

Amenadiel frowned. “I can’t see how the Rider found out who has the keys. Unless,” he remembered the picture of his dead sister with the carved number one on her cheek, “it managed to possess Azrael somehow and learned the information from her...”

“It can eat angels’ souls too?” Linda asked.

“A soul is a soul, doctor,” Lucifer drawled, feeling sickened by the thought that their sister had ended like that. Gone, completely wiped out of existence.

“My poor child,” God whispered, staring at the wall. Lucifer wanted to smack Him. What was He playing at? He didn’t even remember her and here He was, pretending He cared.

“So, do you have one of the keys?” Maze prompted Amenadiel.

Amenadiel sighed. There was no point denying it. He looked at Lucifer for confirmation and then answered. “Yes. I have a key. And Lucifer has another.”

“Of course he does,” Vanessa murmured.

“You have the key for a Rider’s cell,” Maze said accusingly, “and you never told me?”

Lucifer scoffed. “It was a secret, Maze. Telling you would defeat the purpose of keeping it a secret.”

“I could have helped you protect it!” Maze snapped angrily.

“Trust me, it’s safe,” Lucifer replied.

“But you aren’t!” Maze yelled. “If that thing really wants to end the world and needs to release the other Riders to do it, it must get the keys! It will come after you sooner or later! Both of you!”

“OK,” Vanessa exhaled heavily, once more not put off by the revelation. “Question number… ah, who cares! Can we kill it?”

“It’s not alive,” Lucifer said. “You can’t kill something that’s not alive.”

Vanessa nodded, not giving up. “Can we lock it back in the cell?”

“We don’t have the right key, darling. And we don’t even know what it looks like.”

“But Jesus knows what the key is,” Vanessa reminded them.

“And he’s locked in Heaven,” Lucifer pointed out.

“Can we unlock the Gate?” Vanessa asked.

Lucifer snorted. He doubted he could even find the way up there. “Hardly. It was most likely the emergency lockdown. The Gate is sealed, keeping everyone in Heaven safe. It will stay this way until the Apocalypse is over.”

“Who closed it?” God asked, deep in thought.

Lucifer glanced at Him. “You, probably.”

Amenadiel nodded. “To keep the Silver City and our family safe. So, no help from any of our brothers and sisters...” he smiled bitterly as he realized they were truly on their own. Two fallen angels, a demon and a powerless God against the first Rider of the Apocalypse – great odds!

“OK,” Vanessa heaved a sigh. “Million dollar question now. How the fuck will we stop it if killing it and locking it up are both out of the question?”

“I don’t know. Dad is the only one who can do it.” Lucifer looked at his Father who was frowning ferociously. “That must be the reason He came to Earth. To stop the Rider and return it to its cell. And that’s probably why He was attacked in the Templars’ headquarters. The Rider wants to unleash the Apocalypse and it doesn’t want God getting in the way.”

“I refuse to take that for an answer!” Vanessa yelled, her face turning red with anger. “There must be a way!” she looked at Amenadiel, her expression pleading.

Amenadiel shook his head. “Those creatures were made for one purpose only; to destroy everything. Once the Apocalypse has begun, it can’t be stopped. They won’t stop until they’ve done what they’re supposed to do.”

As everyone stared at Amenadiel in utterly horrified silence, a beep sounded loudly. Maze fished out her phone and read the text, her eyes meeting Lucifer’s. “It’s from Chloe. Wibly’s dead.”

*******

Los Angeles – on the road from North Long Beach to the precinct

Chloe thought she should probably get rid of the blood-stained shirt before they arrived at the precinct. No need to risk giving it to Ella to run tests right now. It could connect them to Wibly and someone might notice. Especially the Feds who were apparently breathing down their necks.

“I’ll make a stop at home,” she said to Dan who was sitting silently in the passenger's seat.

“OK,” Dan whispered, his thoughts still on Wibly. “What do you think this woman was?”

“What?”

“From what the witness said, she came to the crime scene on her own. With that hole in the stomach. Do you think she was a demon too?”

Chloe shook her head. She had no idea what that woman had been. But she was sure of one thing – no drug could be strong enough to keep a body alive in that state. “Last night Maze said she didn’t know what Wibly was. So I guess she wasn’t a demon.”

“Maze also said Wibly was immortal. She looked very mortal to me,” Dan pointed out.

“Hm...”

Dan looked at Chloe, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards.

“What?” Chloe asked, sensing him watching.

“You’ve finally accepted that all this is real.” It was a statement, not a question.

Chloe sighed. “It’s getting harder to find another explanation, that’s for sure.” And she wasn’t sure she even wanted another explanation anymore. “I’m just wondering how Agent Haley is involved.”

“Trying to bury all the evidence so people won’t know angels and demons exist? I guess they’re not only hiding aliens in Area 51.”

Chloe shook her head, remembering her morning talk with Lucifer’s beautiful female companion (what else is new?). “One of the people in Amenadiel’s apartment said that Haley was one of 'theirs'. They didn't tell me who 'they' were though."

“Yeah, I don’t like that guy. He’s-”

Sirens sounded behind them and they watched as about a dozen patrol cars screamed past at breakneck speed.

“Whoah. That looks bad,” Dan said, echoing Chloe’s thoughts. And it got worse. As they drove on, one civilian car after another sped past them in the opposite direction, the drivers clearly uncaring of the speed limit. There were also a number of terrified-looking pedestrians sprinting from the same direction.

“Maybe they could use some help,” Chloe said and turned on her own siren, speeding up.

They arrived at the problem soon enough.

“What?” Chloe breathed, not believing what she was seeing. More than a dozen police cars were barricading West Florence Avenue, where dozens of people were destroying shops and offices in the blocked street. Those who weren’t busy destroying their surroundings were throwing office equipment, debris, anything they could get their hands on at the police and yelling obscenities at them. High above them a police helicopter monitored the situation, and just behind the police barricade several TV reporters were gravely recording pieces to camera, recklessly ignoring the danger. People were panicking, streaming out of buildings, piling into any car they could and tearing off up the road, tyres squealing. Chloe had never seen such pandemonium in her life. She looked questioningly at Dan who appeared just as confused as she felt.

“Is it a gang war?” Dan asked, not sure they should get out of the car. But they did anyway.

“LAPD,” a voice sounded from a bullhorn. “Drop your weapons and return to your homes peacefully. This is your final warning!”

*******

Los Angeles, North Long Beach

Charlotte knew it had been a good plan to follow Lucifer’s detective. She knew that sooner or later Chloe would help lead her to her daughter’s murderer, even if the case had been taken from her. Lucifer’s pet detective wasn’t one to give up, and she hadn’t disappointed. Charlotte remembered she had met the tall, lanky black man on her way to the precinct yesterday but she hadn’t thought anything of him. Now she knew he had value - as a tool that would get her what she wanted.

It took the man forever to finish at the scene, but eventually he did. He got into his gleaming black car (alone, thank ex-hubby) and drove away.

Charlotte liked these quiet parts of the city. They were mostly deserted during the day and the streets were easy to navigate. She started her car and turned right and then left, getting onto the street that ran parallel to the one her prey was driving on. She floored the accelerator and sped through two intersections, turned left on the third and came to a stop at the next one. When she soon saw the agent’s black car approaching from the left, she pushed the gas pedal once more and crashed into it.

It wasn’t a hard hit; Charlotte didn’t want to destroy her own car. But it was hard enough to bump the black car off its track a bit, and it certainly got the agent’s attention. When the cars came to a stop, the man got out, looking furious.

“Are you blind, woman?” he thundered when he came to the driver’s seat.

“Blind? No, my eyes work perfectly,” Charlotte answered as she stepped out of her car. With her heels she was as tall as the man.

“So you’re just stupid,” the agent replied and shook his head in disbelief.

“No, why should I be?”

“Because you hit me, you idiot!”

“Yes. And that was exactly what I meant to do.”

Haley blinked. Now his anger was gone, replaced by wariness. “Why?”

Charlotte smirked. “So I could do this,” she said, and before the agent could do anything, she grabbed his head and smashed it into the car’s roof, knocking him unconscious.

She looked around and seeing no-one, she heaved the man unceremoniously into her trunk. Time to get some answers.

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment

“So, the Apocalypse is over?” Linda asked, hoping for the best.

Lucifer looked at Linda. The Apocalypse over? Hardly. “No. The Apocalypse will be over when there’s no-one left alive.”

“But according to Chloe, Wibly is dead,” Linda argued.

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed. “Most likely, the Rider has just taken another soul.”

“Some dude named Timothy Dunlap walked away from the crime scene,” Maze added, still reading Chloe’s message.

“Well, at least we know where to look,” Lucifer pointed out.

Suddenly the door burst open and Johann hurried in, his face ashen, with Hirschel limping behind him.

“Have you seen the news?” Johann asked, breathless.

Amenadiel grabbed the remote control and switched on the TV. Live broadcasts were on every channel, reporting what looked like riots in multiple cities across the globe. Crowds were running in the streets, chased by others who appeared to be people, but they all knew better. The assailants might look human but they were bent on destruction on a scale that even humanity couldn't match. “It’s like a fucking war,” Vanessa observed.

“We saw the news in the diner we were in,” Johann explained, “and hurried back. Apparently it’s happening in several places across L.A. Do you think it’s connected with our problem? I mean, do you think they’re demons?”

“Yes,” Maze hissed, looking like she very much wanted to smash something.

“Looks like the Apocalypse has begun in its full glory,” Lucifer commented dryly.

“Apocalypse?!” Johann exclaimed as they all watched the news from L.A., where policemen were futilely trying to stop the advancing crowd of demons with riot guns and rubber bullets. A familiar figure passed in front of the camera and Lucifer’s breath caught in his throat.

“Detective…!” He spread his wings wide, took one leap and was gone.

“Wait!” Maze yelled but was too late. “Shit!” she cursed and turned to Vanessa, “You, wait here and protect them. I’ll go after Lucifer before he gets himself killed!” She didn’t wait for a reply and ran outside. They shortly heard the loud revving of her Dodge Charger and the squeal of tyres as she peeled rubber up the street.

“You know,” Johann pointed out after they had briefed him and Hirschel about everything they had discussed, “this seems terribly similar to what happened back at headquarters. The demons attacked on all fronts there too, but -”

“What they really wanted was inside the vault,” Vanessa supplied and all of them looked at the door, holding their collective breath for a moment in anticipation that they would burst open.

“Oh, you think it’s just a diversion and they’re gonna come for God?” Linda cried.

“I don’t see how,” Vanessa replied. “They can’t possibly know He’s here.”

Johann asked the obvious question, “So if they’re not after God, what on Earth could they be after?”

Vanessa had been asking herself the same question. She looked at Amenadiel as she remembered something. “You said that two of the keys from the Riders’ cells were given to humans. One of them was Jesus. Who was the other?”

Amenadiel took a deep breath, realizing the girl was making a good point. Since they hadn’t succeeded with him, they would try to get another key. “It was given to a shaman, the head of an ancient religion in the Mediterranean. It has been passed from man to man of cloth ever since. I believe it’s in the possession of the Pope now.”

“But you’re not sure?” Vanessa asked.

“No. I haven’t kept track of it. It wasn’t my responsibility, or my business. Plus I didn’t even know what the key looked like.”

Vanessa grabbed the remote control and changed channels until she found news from the Vatican. Sure enough the ‘riots’ were happening there too.

*******

Los Angeles, West Florence Avenue

Chloe didn’t know how it had happened, but one minute she and Dan were firing rubber bullets to help keep the rioters at bay, and the next the situation had gotten completely out of control. The crowd charged, screaming dementedly and attacking with inhuman strength and savagery. Several cops fell in the first onslaught, and the police instantly resorted to deadly force, switching to live ammunition and shooting their attackers in the chest. It had absolutely no effect, which confirmed what Chloe had been suspecting for some time now.

“Aim for the head!” she yelled, taking out three with three perfectly placed shots.

“Where did they come from?” Dan cried as he fired around like in some crazy Hollywood action movie. Luckily for them, their assailants didn’t have guns, just knives, baseball bats and metal and wooden poles of various sizes.

“Oh, God,” Chloe breathed. This was turning into a war, one they had no chance of winning. The demons were relentless and ruthless, and cops were being mown down all around them. Even the reporters had fled.

“God help us!” someone yelled as the demons pushed the line of policemen further and further back, their numbers not seeming to diminish despite the wild shooting. The policemen backed away slowly, their cars a useless barrier between them and their attackers. The demons jumped over them easily, and too late the police realized they had left their only means of escape on the wrong side of the battlefield.

“We need an army!” Dan yelled to one of the unis who was calling again for backup. He’d called several minutes ago but none had come yet. Even the stupid helicopter had flown away.

“It’s not the only riot in L.A.!” the cop yelled back at Dan. “I don’t think we’re gonna get any help! Fuck it!” he cried, then turned and bolted. That actually seemed like a very good idea as they were running out of bullets and it looked like their backup wasn’t going to make it in time, if it was coming at all.

“I’m out!” a policewoman yelled and started to run away too, the rest of them joining her, including Dan and Chloe.

They ran through the deserted streets, the demons chasing them like it was hunting season. Chloe noticed that some of them lost interest, distracted by new things to smash. The number of pursuers dropped considerably; maybe they still had a chance of getting out of there alive. But their group soon split up, some of the cops turning into side streets or running inside buildings. Chloe thought it stupid but was powerless to stop them.

One of the policemen in the front spotted a car with a key still in the ignition and jumped in, followed by seven others. They packed in like sardines and quickly drove off.

“Wait!” Dan yelled, not believing they’d left the rest of them there.

“No!” an older policeman cried as he saw his colleagues drive away. He looked like he couldn’t run much longer and sure enough, a moment later he stumbled and went down. In an instant a demon was upon him. Chloe quickly stopped and aimed for the creature’s head, but her shot went wide and a moment later the demon tore the cop’s throat out.

“NO!” Chloe screamed.

Dan had stopped too, and was standing side by side with Chloe, firing at any demons that came near. “Fuck!” he cursed as he turned and saw the old man die. His expression stony, he shot the demon between the eyes and yelled at Chloe. “Come on! We have to run!”

Chloe took a shaky breath and started running again. They reached the intersection quickly and seeing no-one they continued straight up the deserted street. All the other cops had disappeared. Maybe they had found a car too, or used Dan and Chloe’s distraction to run and hide.

“We can’t run forever,” Chloe gasped, her strength fading rapidly. She jogged regularly, but she wasn’t accustomed to running so fast for so long. In boots, with an army of demons on her heels. Dan seemed to be faring even worse; they desperately needed a lift. Chloe fished out her phone and dialed Maze. She was probably the only one who could help them.

“Decker? Where are you?” Maze yelled, sounding almost angry.

“Maze!” Chloe gasped as she fought to keep up the pace. “The demons...” she panted.

“I know! Just tell me where you are!”

Chloe looked around frantically for the nearest road sign.

“Chloe,” Dan wheezed, “I need a break!”

“Here!” Chloe yelled and turned left and then left again, into a small alley, hoping their pursuers would simply continue straight. And if not, here at least the demons couldn’t surround them.

“Decker?!”

“Maze! We’re on the corner of West Florence and Menlo Avenue.”

“Hold on, I’ll be there in five!”

“I don’t think we have five,” Chloe panted as she and Dan stopped and turned slowly, seeing that the demons had found them again.

“Fuck!” Dan cursed again, this time in despair, but he popped in his last magazine in record time and kept firing at the demons, a look of steely determination on his face. Chloe was proud of him in that moment, proud that he was the father of her child. And now they were both probably going to die here, leaving Trixie alone in this terrifying world. No! She wasn’t going to let that happen! All they had to do was to survive until Maze got there.

She raised her weapon to join Dan but was astonished when a pair of hands suddenly grabbed her from behind, wrapping around her chest and pulling her close, freaking her out until she heard a familiar voice.

“Hold tight, Detective!”

“Luci-” Chloe started to turn her head but froze as the ground disappeared from under her feet and fell away rapidly. No, wait! The ground wasn’t moving, she was! Chloe screamed and dropped her gun, digging her fingers into Lucifer’s arms as she realized she was being carried up into the sky. What the...?!

"Lucifeeerrrr!!!"

“Almost there!” Lucifer replied as he flew up the side of the four-storey building and landed gracefully on the flat roof. Chloe stumbled as he released her; catching her balance she turned and gaped at her partner and the pearly white wings arching from his back. Her jaw dropped nearly to the rooftop, the sight before her leaving her stunned and speechless.

“Right,” Lucifer murmured. “Hold that scream, Detective, I’ll be right back.” He waved those gorgeous wings and was off.

“Fuck, man!” Dan gasped as Lucifer reappeared in the alley. Dan had both his and Chloe’s guns in his hands and was relentlessly firing at the demons. Their corpses were piled in the middle of the alley. “You came back!”

“Of course. I wouldn’t abandon my favorite douche! Your turn, Daniel.”

“No way!” Dan yelled as he shot another demon. “You’re not carrying me!”

“What? Are you afraid you might like it? Come on, it’s just a little jump.”

“What if I fall?”

“Would you rather keep playing Rambo with these lovely demons?”

Dan looked at Lucifer and then back at the neverending line of the wild creatures. For every one he shot, the sound attracted more. Dan made a decision. He shoved his gun back into its holster and jammed Chloe’s into his belt, then rushed to Lucifer, winding his arms around his neck and one of his legs around Lucifer’s calf. As he closed his eyes, he yelled, “Go!”

Lucifer grimaced at the unpleasant intimacy but put his arms around Dan’s back and jumped into the air before the demons got too close. He landed on the roof again and let go of Dan. But the man stuck, still holding Lucifer like he was a life jacket.

“We’re here, Daniel. You can let go now,” Lucifer said, putting his wings away.

Dan opened one eye, then the other and finally let go, taking few steps back. “Man, I hate heights!”

Lucifer glanced at Chloe tentatively. She looked shocked and dishevelled, but surprisingly not scared. At least she wasn’t screaming her lungs out, just staring at him incredulously.

“I saw you on the news,” Lucifer explained, needing to end the tense silence. “I thought I could give you a helping hand. Or… other appendage,” he added with a self-conscious snort.

“Shit, man,” Dan gasped as he wiped off his brow, “I thought we were dead!”

Lucifer frowned. Not the reaction he had been expecting, but he could work with that. “Yes. Demons can be pretty bloodthirsty. They don’t get out all that often.”

Chloe was still staring at him, not saying a word. She didn’t seem to be hearing him either.

“Detective? Are you alright?” Her silent gaping was so uncharacteristic that Lucifer started to worry he’d shortcircuited her brain. Like with Linda. He could only hope it wasn’t permanent.

Just when it seemed Chloe moved her mouth to finally say something, the door to the roof burst open. They all whirled to face it, preparing for a fight, but it was Maze.

“Maze!” Chloe yelled, sounding relieved.

“How did you find us?” Lucifer asked, not at all surprised she hadn’t stayed at Amenadiel’s apartment.

“Chloe called me,” Maze explained. “And then I saw you – kinda hard to miss the wings.”

“Right,” Lucifer frowned.

“Lucifer, you have to go back right now,” Maze continued urgently.

“Why? What happened?”

“I got a message from Amenadiel. They think that the riots are just a diversion from what the One really wants.”

“And that would be…?”

“The Pope.”

Lucifer lifted his eyebrows questioningly. “What would it want with him? His blessing?”

“No,” Maze snapped. “Something it didn’t get from Amenadiel!”

Lucifer finally understood. “The second key.”

Maze nodded.

“What’s this all about?” Dan asked.

“I’ll explain later,” Maze said and turned back to Lucifer. “You have to stop them!”

Lucifer glanced worriedly at Chloe. “I can’t just leave -”

“I’ll take care of them. My car’s downstairs. Just go!”

Lucifer unfolded his wings once more. “All right. It’s been a while since I visited the Vatican. Didn’t end well. For them,” he added with a snort.

“Go get the Spear first. You’ll need it!” Maze reminded him and Lucifer nodded, looking at Chloe again. She stared open-mouthed at his wings, still not saying anything. Lucifer resisted the urge to squirm self-consciously under her intense stare. Why wasn’t she saying anything? She couldn’t be scared of him, could she?

“See you later, detectives,” Lucifer murmured, anxious to get out of there. He vanished, teleporting back to Amenadiel’s apartment.

Chapter Text

Amenadiel’s apartment, L.A.

Lucifer landed in the middle of Amenadiel’s apartment, hitting his wings against the wall again. At the sudden noise everyone’s heads whipped around, but they all relaxed when they saw who it was. Lucifer noticed that Hirschel and Johann had returned from their ice-cream trip, making the room look overcrowded with Vanessa, Linda, God and Amenadiel all squeezed in as well.

“Luci!” Amenadiel exclaimed. “We’ve figured something out!”

“Yes, the Pope, I know. Maze told me. The detectives are alright, by the way. Maze is taking care of them. I’m just here to pick this up,” he said and reached for the Spear.

“What are you gonna do?” Vanessa asked.

“Well, I thought I’d go spearfishing and then pop by the Vatican giftshop to exchange the fish for some commemorative teaspoons to supplement my collection of tea sets and if there’s any time left I may try to… I don’t know, save the Pope?!”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “Next time, please just get to the point without the nonsense!”

“You’re going to the Vatican? Alone?” God asked, worry creasing his brow.

“Well, you can’t exactly help me, can you?”

“Then take me,” Vanessa volunteered.

Lucifer looked at her, surprised at her offer. “As much as I’d like to do that, love, I have to teleport there and you wouldn’t survive it.”

“But I would,” Amenadiel stepped in.

Lucifer scoffed. “And why would I take you with me?”

Amenadiel sighed. “Luci, there will be hundreds of demons there!”

“And what will you do? Stare daggers at them? Unless you can do it literally, you’re no help to me!”

Amenadiel shook his head. “At some point you will have to talk to the Pope. You think he will listen to you? Of all people?!”

Lucifer snorted. “So you’re suggesting that two fallen angels will be more convincing than one?”

Amenadiel sighed, annoyed. “No, I’m suggesting that he may not talk to you at all after what you did the last time you were there.”

“You know?” Lucifer asked, his eyebrows going up in surprise.

“Of course I know. Dad was pretty furious about it. I had to talk Him out of punishing you.”

Lucifer snorted. He couldn’t picture Amenadiel talking to Dad on his behalf. Besides, being banished to Hell wasn't punishment enough?

“So, that’s why you should take me with you,” Amenadiel concluded.

“Oh, come on! It’s been more than two hundred years and it’s not like there’d be anyone left alive to remember me!” Lucifer smiled, thinking about the fun he’d had. “I’ll do just fine on my own! Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be on my way, otherwise I’ll miss all the fun.” He spread his wings again and was off.

“What did he do?” God asked, curious.

Amenadiel nodded. There was no way he could not tell the story. Oh, let Dad hate Lucifer for a change. “He disguised himself as an archbishop, sneaked into the Vatican and kept himself busy providing the Pope with prostitutes… and seducing nuns in his spare time. He became quite notorious until the priests kicked him out.”

God blinked at Amenadiel a few times and then suddenly burst out laughing, Linda and Vanessa joining him. “Why would I be angry about that? It’s hilarious!”

Amenadiel shook his head, confused. “The Pope is the symbol of your greatness, your sacredness and the leader of your followers! Lucifer mocked the faith by providing temptation and making the Pope sin!”

“Oh, son,” God sighed, “you sound like an old virgin! Do you really think that the Pope wouldn’t have found the prostitutes himself? And besides, I never said people should live in celibacy! Or… did I?”

Amenadiel frowned. Was it his imagination or was Father taking Lucifer’s side? The wrong side! And should he really be surprised? “He was probably just trying to gain your attention. Or to prove that priests are hypocrites.”

“Well, then he succeeded in both, I’d say,” God replied with a smile. “Let’s hope he will be as successful on this mission too.”

*******

Somewhere in L.A.

Maze wrenched the wheel, throwing the Charger nearly sideways as it roared through another intersection. She was driving them through the deserted streets at breakneck speed; Dan had a white-knuckled grip on the door handle but Chloe barely reacted, still trying to process everything that had just happened. They had almost been killed by a pack of rogue demons who were, according to Maze, executing coordinated attacks in hundreds of locations across the globe. She’d thought they were going to die. She and Dan. She was certain of it. And then…

Lucifer. With beautiful enormous white wings, appearing from thin air and sweeping her off her feet and saving her life. And Dan’s. Like in some kind of X-Men movie.

So, he really was the Devil. He had been telling her the truth this whole time. And she had refused to believe him. Well, at least now she had bulletproof evidence and she didn’t have to waste any more time trying to find out the truth.

Maze turned the car right and slammed on the brakes as they almost hit a military blockade. “Fuck!” Maze cursed. “That wasn’t there before!”

Several soldiers aimed rifles at the car. “Step out of the vehicle with your hands over your heads!”

They did as they were instructed.

“We’re police officers,” Chloe yelled as the soldiers neared them.

“Here,” Dan pulled his jacket up a little to show the soldier the badge hooked on his belt. The soldier nodded and lowered his gun.

“What’s the situation?” he asked.

“The riot got way out of hand. We’ve lost a lot of officers,” Dan replied. “We had to resort to using live ammo.”

“How many assailants?”

Dan looked at Chloe. “Hundreds,” she said. “And they still wouldn’t disperse. I think they’re high on PCP,” she added, remembering her theory that made an excellent explanation for the demons’ behavior if one wasn’t ready to accept they weren’t human.

“Fuck!” the soldier cursed and turned to his colleagues. “Let them through!”

They returned to the car and Maze drove past the blockade, joining the chaotic traffic. There were more cars than was usual as some people, judging by their stuffed vehicles, were relocating themselves from these parts of L.A., most of them ignoring the speed limits or even traffic signs.

“What now?” Dan asked, turning in his seat to look once more at the barricade.

“I’ll take us to Amenadiel’s apartment. There’s nothing you can do to help these people anyway.”

“No,” Chloe said. “We have to pick up Trixie first.” Maze nodded and, leaning on the horn, turned the car sharply left, heading for the school.

“On the roof, you said something about the Pope?” Dan reminded Maze. The demon nodded.

“You listen now and you listen good. Something happened and… well, there’s no easy way to say this, but it’s the fucking Apocalypse,” Maze stated.

“What?” Chloe and Dan cried at the same time.

“You mean like the Apocalypse with famine, earthquakes, raining fire, the last judgment and death?” Chloe asked, unable to believe what she had just heard.

“Yeah. Something like that.”

“Wait!” Dan yelled, looking at Chloe. “You’re pregnant?”

Chloe’s jaw dropped. “How on Earth did you get from ‘it’s the Apocalypse’ to me being pregnant?”

Dan shrugged, looking uncomfortable. Before Chloe had time to realize how he had made the connection, Maze solved the mystery for her. “They didn’t sleep together,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Oh, you meant...” Chloe gasped with indignation. “Of course, Lucifer left poor Chloe, so that must mean he had his fun with her!” she spat sarcastically, remembering what everyone at the precinct thought.

“Sorry,” Dan muttered, looking embarrassed.

“We don’t know how it happened,” Maze explained, “but the first Rider of the Apocalypse escaped Hell and is recreating it on Earth.”

“So,” Dan said slowly, “it’s like the end of the world?”

“Not if we can stop it,” Maze said. “We don’t know if we can, though.” Maze paused for a moment, looking at Chloe searchingly. “You know, I thought you would freak out. About Lucifer being the Devil.”

Chloe gaped at her. “I am freaking out!” she cried, her voice quavering. “This is me freaking out!” she pointed at her disheveled appearance, and her rather red face. “Just... not about Lucifer. I mean I just ran about a mile in freaking heels and lived through the second demon killing spree in as many days! And now I’ve learned it’s the freaking Apocalypse! Lucifer’s devilishness seems quite unimportant right now!” But in her mind Chloe wondered whether it was really true. She had thought she’d been prepared to face the truth even if it had horns and a tail but when she had been carried into the sky by Lucifer, when she had beheld his majestic wings, she had been rendered speechless. In that precise moment, she had realized how simple and ignorant her attitude to life had been. But now she knew that there were beings - somewhere beyond her comprehension - that made humanity pale in comparison. There was Heaven and Hell and there was an afterlife. It was a strange idea. She had always thought that the meaning of life was what you gave it, but now it looked like it was just for earning your immortal soul a ticket to Heaven or Hell. A short stop on the road to eternity. How small she must seem to Lucifer or Maze… like the single blink of an eye in the passing of centuries. And what about people in general? Were they just pawns on some celestial chessboard? Were their destinies outlined for them? Surely they couldn’t be - she had her free will. And besides, Heaven and Hell wouldn’t make any sense then. Or were Heaven and Hell part of the game too?

Aaah, too many nagging questions and no time to seek answers! She hoped someone would provide them later when all this chaos was over.

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment, L.A.

Sitting and waiting wasn’t Vanessa’s style. She was used to getting orders and then executing them, usually without question. And here she was, waiting with the rest of the non-combatants for the heroes to do the job she was supposed to do.

In other words, she felt useless. She wasn’t a thinker like Johann or an immortal Wikipedia of history like Hirschel. She needed to do something!

“Is everything alright?” the doctor asked and Vanessa realized she was talking to her. Linda had decided to stay with them, canceling her sessions, since, well, there was an Apocalypse going on.

“That is a very strange question, Doctor,” God replied from His position sprawled on the couch. His eyes were closed but He wasn’t sleeping. “A better question would be ‘Is anything alright?’ And I wouldn’t know the answer to that!”

Linda sighed. “I know we’re all worried and... well, some of us are even scared, but I think there must be something we can do to stop this Rider. We just have to figure it out.”

God opened His eyes and looked at Linda searchingly as He slowly rose to a sitting position. “If you’re trying to reassure me, you’re wasting your time. From what the boys said, the creature can’t be killed and the only one who can stop it is apparently me. But that ‘me’ is kind of out of our reach. So unless you can find a way to restore my memory, we’re all fucked.”

Linda stared at God, something occurring to her with His words. “What about your wife? Can’t she help us?”

“Wife?” God repeated, His expression blank.

“What wife?” Johann asked as he looked from Linda to Amenadiel.

Amenadiel sighed loudly. “Our mother. She’s on Earth.”

“I have a wife?!” God repeated, smiling broadly. “Wow, that’s something! I guess I don’t have to feel sad over my Playboy magazines blowing up in the headquarters anymore.”

They all looked at Him strangely.

“You had Playboy magazines,” Vanessa said slowly, “and you didn’t know what a swingers party was?”

“Young lady, those magazines were from more modest times,” God replied reproachfully. He turned to Amenadiel, His face radiant. “Tell me all about this wife of mine! Is she a passionate person?”

“You’re not together anymore,” Amenadiel answered curtly, grimacing. The last thing he needed was an image of his Father and Mother doing things… Ah – too late!

“Oh, hell,” God murmured, His shoulders slumping. “That’s even worse than being single.”

“Hey!” Vanessa yelled. “Can we focus, please? What Linda said – is it true? Can the Goddess stop the Rider?”

Amenadiel frowned. “I don’t think so. She has barely any divinity inside her.”

“Because she’s taken a human body too,” Vanessa supplied, remembering their talk from the hall earlier that day.

“Yes. Father sent to Hell just her soul. And without their bodies divine beings’ powers are very limited.”

“Shit,” Vanessa cursed.

“But,” Amenadiel continued, “she should know much more about the Riders than we do. She was there when Father put them in the Pit.”

“Then call her,” Vanessa ordered.

*******

Charlotte’s house, L.A.

Charlotte stared at her prisoner with determination. He hadn’t regained consciousness yet, but she would soon remedy that. She had managed to get him into the basement and strap him onto the exercise bike in the home gym.

She sat next to him in a chair and slapped him hard, making him moan and open his eyes.

He jerked when he realized what had happened, and wildly looked around the unfamiliar surroundings while trying unsuccessfully to free his hands.

After a brief struggle he composed himself and glared at his captor. “I’m an FBI agent,” he said in a warning tone.

“I know, I found your I.D.,” Charlotte replied and waved his badge in front of his eyes. “Agent Haley.”

“What do you want?” he asked carefully, sensing there was something very off about the woman.

“I want my family back,” Charlotte answered without hesitation. “But that seems harder and harder to achieve when my children keep dying. Do you have children, Agent Haley?”

“No,” the man replied slowly, eyeing Charlotte with concern.

“Good for you. You never know what’s going to happen with them. They could be sent to Hell, or Fall, or start to hate you just because you tried to help them. Or someone could murder them for no apparent reason.”

The agent frowned, realization dawning on him along with dread. “You’re not human, are you?”

Charlotte scoffed. “Of course not. I’m just wearing one,” she added and smoothed her hips for emphasis.

“What are you?”

“I’m a Goddess!” Charlotte exclaimed.

“Goddess?” Haley repeated with obvious skepticism.

“Yes. I’m the creator of all this nonsense you call Earth. Of course ex-hubby helped.”

“Wait! Are you saying that you’re the mother of the angels?”

“Yes,” Charlotte hissed. “Aren’t you paying attention?”

The agent nodded slightly, his eyes wary and full of disbelief. “Why did you bring me here? And why am I tied up?”

Charlotte leaned closer, her nose almost touching his. “You are going to help me find the thing that killed my daughter.”

“I have no idea what killed her,” he answered slowly, carefully.

“Then think harder.” Charlotte tapped on his head lightly.

“What will you do with the killer?”

“Torture him to death, of course.”

Haley narrowed his eyes. “You’re not a Goddess. You’re a demon,” he stated, sure he was right.

“Demon?!” Charlotte spat with contempt. “One of those stupid, ugly, filthy Hell-born creatures? Obviously your small human brain can’t tell the difference, but -” Charlotte stopped, her eyes widening. “Wait a minute. How come your small human brain even knows about demons and angels?”

Haley gulped. “I’m… Christian,” he answered hesitatingly.

“No, no, no,” Charlotte countered. “I’ve met those idiotic worshipers. And you’re not one of them. You lack the blind obedience in your eyes. You’re not a believer. You… know.”

Haley didn’t respond.

“Speak!” Charlotte bellowed.

“I am Christian!” The agent closed his eyes and started to recite. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth...”

“What are you doing?” Charlotte exclaimed, taken aback.

“… and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary...”

“That’s absurd! My ex-husband would never have a child with a human. How did you people come up with that?”

“… suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven...”

“He did a lot of traveling for someone so insignificant.” Charlotte scowled. “I don’t have time for this nonsense!” she bellowed and slapped the agent hard, tearing his lip and drawing blood. But it had no effect as the agent kept reciting the Lord’s Prayer with his eyes closed.

“… sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the… hmmm!” Charlotte pushed a piece of a rope into Haley’s mouth and tied it behind his head.

“When you’re ready to answer my questions, just nod. Now, I’m not as skilled at this as the demons are but I think I’ll do just fine.” She took out her cellphone and after plugging in the headphones, she put them in Haley’s ears.

“This is something my son – my adoptive son - recorded and sent to me,” she said, not caring if the agent heard her over the headphones. “I think he wanted to punish me for something. He’s taking violin lessons. It’s horrible. I’ve never heard anything more agonising in my life and I spent a significant part of it in Hell. I think he’s going to be a fine torturer one day.” She pushed the ‘play’ button and let the recording repeat over and over. She smiled as the agent grimaced with pain.

“Darling, are you -” Charlotte turned to find her human husband in the doorway, wearing an apron over his red shorts and a pair of light green Crocs. He had a plate of what looked like pasta in his hands and a stunned expression on his face.

“Yes?” Charlotte hissed with impatience.

“I thought you might want some lunch,” he stammered awkwardly, staring at the bound, gagged man with headphones on the exercise bike.

“Yes. How considerate of you. You can leave it here and go.”

Mr. Richards nodded hesitatingly, still staring at the prisoner who seemed to be in some kind of pain and was rolling his eyes significantly. Well, Mr. Richards wasn’t exactly a sharp man, but he knew when someone was trying to tell him something. His eyes fell on the badge lying on the floor. “Darling, who is our guest?”

Charlotte sighed. “He’s an informant from the case I’m working on.”

“Is the informant by any chance an FBI agent?”

“Yes,” Charlotte smiled.

“Why is he bound?” Mr. Richards asked.

“So he won’t escape, why else?!”

“Honey,” Mr. Richards started carefully, his brows creasing, “I don’t think it’s OK to tie up an FBI agent.”

“Yes. Well, you’re not here to think. That’s my job. Your job is to take care of the children and prepare meals for me.”

Mr. Richards nodded awkwardly and put the plate on the small table next to the door. The agent made a loud noise over the gag in his mouth, sensing the man was on the verge of leaving him alone with this crazy woman.

Charlotte rolled her eyes. This human husband was more bothersome than her divine ex. She was about to throw him out but her phone rang. It was Amenadiel again.

“Excuse me,” she said, unplugging the phone from the headphones and leaving the room to get some privacy.

“Mom?”

“Son? Is something new?”

“Yes. We know what’s going on.”

“Please tell.”

“It’s the Apocalypse.”

Charlotte scoffed. “You must be mistaken, son. It’s not due for several millennia.”

“Mom, Lucifer returned from Hell. He found the cell of the first Rider empty.”

Charlotte took a deep breath. “But that isn’t possible.”

“It happened, Mom. And we need your help.”

“To do what exactly?”

“To stop it, of course!”

Charlotte laughed. “Stop the Riders? Son, you don’t know what you’re talking about. They can’t be stopped!”

“Mom. Can we discuss it later? Can you come over to my place?”

“Yes, of course,” Charlotte answered as there was nothing else she could do right now. If it really was the Apocalypse, then they were all probably going to die.

Charlotte put her phone back in her pocket and turned as she heard an engine start. She gasped as she realized it was Agent Haley in her own car, driving away.

“How!” she yelled and then spotted her husband. “You let him go?”

“He is a federal agent, Charlotte. But don’t worry, he promised not to press charges.”

Charlotte scoffed and shook her head in disbelief. Why was she surrounded by imbeciles all the time? “In that case I’m borrowing your car,” she informed Mr. Richards and took his SUV to get to Amenadiel’s apartment.

*******

The Vatican

It had been about two hundred and fifty years since Lucifer had visited the Vatican, but he remembered it well. And it hadn’t changed much. The huge St. Peter’s Square defined by the impressive Tuscan colonnades with the Basilica towering compellingly at its end was as magnificent as he remembered. It was an architectural jewel for sure, but still, Lucifer didn’t like it. He didn’t like what it represented – the wealth and power gained by the Church over the centuries by manipulating its followers through faith and fear to donate their money, and waging wars on nations just to increase its influence. And all that in the name of his Father. As far as Lucifer was concerned, all clergymen were hypocrites, selling salvation that wasn’t theirs. Well, maybe except for Father Frank. But look how he’d ended up – dead.

Lucifer landed in the Apostolic Palace - the residence of the Pope. The plan he’d formed on the way was simple – get to the Pope, looking as harmless as possible, explain the situation, and make the Pope give him the key.

He managed to land in an empty room, away from prying eyes, which was good since the wings and the Spear would no doubt draw unwanted attention and complicate matters.

The room looked like a small study of sorts with bookcases and a large desk in the middle, all in the opulent, Baroque style. There were several paintings of men of cloth on the walls and to his enormous surprise Lucifer recognized himself in one of them. Oh, yes, he remembered he had sat for a portrait the last time he was here. It seemed Amenadiel was right – the Pope might refuse to talk to him if he recognized him. He had done some things the Pope might frown upon... Luckily, he had been portrayed in a very fashionable white powdered wig, the long, artificial curls framing his smirking face and falling over his broad shoulders. So, there was still hope the Pope wouldn’t recognize him even if Lucifer stood next to his own painting. And besides, why would the Pope look at paintings of dead priests in abandoned rooms? Surely he had better things to do... Like warning his sheep not to succumb to the Devil.

Lucifer could hear voices coming from behind the closed door. The building was clearly being evacuated and the people were stomping and yelling as they hurried outside. He opened the door and found chaos in the hall. It was even worse than it sounded, people pushing frantically past one another, some falling and being trampled underfoot. They looked like employees mixed with several dozen tourists. It seemed they let them inside even in the evening hours (it was almost 10 p.m. in the Vatican). They were running on pure instinct, like animals - they were scared and fleeing from something. Or someone.

“Bloody hell,” Lucifer murmured as he realized the demons must already be inside. He pushed against the crowd, needing to get in the direction the people were running from, but it was fruitless. He was pushed right back into the room he had landed in. Fine, no time and opportunity for a quiet entrance… He spread his wings once more and teleported into a large, opulent room with frescoes of angels fighting demons on the ceiling and the walls. It was quite fitting as the room was full of live demons in a heated battle with members of the Swiss guard in their funny uniforms with orange, blue and red stripes, and ridiculous black berets. Really, this level of offense to fashion should be the eighth deadly sin. At least they had modern guns, not just the traditional medieval halberds. And here Lucifer had thought they were only a diversion for the tourists.

As he landed in the middle of the room the demons parted, taken aback by his sudden appearance and the fight in the room subsided as everyone’s attention turned towards him. The two dozen demons made a circle around Lucifer at a respectable distance and sneered at him while the much smaller group of guards gaped, evidently completely at their wits’ end as to what to do.

“Hello, everyone,” Lucifer greeted them to end the awkward moment. “Now,” he turned his attention to the demons around him. “I know most of you lot are having the time of your lives but as you well know, you aren’t allowed to leave Hell whenever you wish to. So, if you would be so kind as to relocate yourselves back down there asap…?!”

One of the demons hissed in annoyance. “There’s a new ruler in Hell.”

“Yes, I’ve heard,” Lucifer growled with irritation.

“And it says we go get the Pope,” another demon added.

“And you, of course, follow orders because you’re such obedient sheep.”

“It’s the most powerful creature in Hell and on Earth,” the first demon retorted.

“Even more powerful than you,” the second added with a sneer.

“Is that so?” Lucifer asked quietly, his anger slowly building.

“And we are to take the Earth,” another demon said triumphantly.

“No, you’re not,” Lucifer countered, the volume of his voice rising.

“You can’t stop it. It’s already begun.”

“Oh, we’ll see about that!”

“It’s the Apocalypse! It is meant to be!”

“But not yet!” Lucifer bellowed, his eyes turning crimson. “You can’t just come here and destroy humanity whenever you feel like it!”

The demons howled at Lucifer’s outburst and bared their teeth. “You get out of our way now!” one of them yelled.

Lucifer laughed. “Or what?” he asked and sent a surge of power into the Spear, making the leaf-shaped blade and mysterious sigils on the handle glow brightly blue. The demons weren’t prepared to face him; all they had were some pitiful blades, not one of them Hell-forged. “Return to Hell or I will make one here for you!” Lucifer thundered, his eyes blazing in challenge.

The demons looked at one another, obviously torn between following the original order and letting themselves be killed. They knew Lucifer with wings. They knew they didn’t stand a chance. And yet, they chose to attack anyway. Was their fear of the Rider so great or was it devotion that drove them?

Lucifer swung the Spear in a wide arc, hitting three demons at once and turning them into dust instantly. He turned, smashing two more with his wings and piercing another with the Spear. The circle around Lucifer grew smaller and he took advantage of his wings and soared high in the air, landing again on the outside of the circle, killing more of the assailants with one blow.

As the fight started anew, the Swiss guard roused from their stupor and started to shoot again at the demons. Thank Dad they chose the right side!

Before long it was over, and the marble floor was covered with dust and bodies shot to pieces by the guard. Lucifer took several steps closer to the Swiss who were breathing hard yet looking relieved.

“Let him through,” an old voice sounded behind them and they parted before Lucifer without hesitation.

“Mr. Pope!” Lucifer smiled at the old man huddled on the floor of an alcove with two other men clad in black robes. One of them crossed himself, seeing the angel standing before them with resplendent white wings and blood covering his clothes and weapon.

“Are you Saint Michael?” he breathed in awe.

Lucifer’s smile froze. “Why on Earth would you think that? Do I look like a sanctimonious arse with bad taste in clothing?”

The man shook his head. “Forgive me. Who are you then?”

“I’m Lucifer Morningstar.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, the guards took a step closer to him and aimed their guns at his head while the man in black robe crossed himself again. Except now he didn’t look awed, but scared.

“Oh, for Dad’s sake! If I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have bothered to save you!”

“Stand down,” the Pope ordered the guards while he fought to get to his feet. He looked Lucifer up and down, contemplating him quietly. Lucifer had no idea what was going on in the man’s head but he waited patiently. He needed him to take the word of the Devil and that was something the Pope, given his choice of career, would be very reluctant to do.

“Why are you here, Lightbringer?” the Pope asked quietly.

“Believe it or not, I’m here to save you.”

The Pope raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You care about my life?”

Lucifer snorted. “Not in the slightest, no. But there are people I care about. And to save them I have to save you!”

The Pope glanced at the dead bodies scattered around the room. “They were demons from Hell,” he stated. “Why are they here?”

Lucifer took a deep breath. “It seems the Apocalypse has started a bit early. But don’t worry, I’m here to stop it. But to do that I need your help.”

The old man blinked and Lucifer saw comprehension light up his eyes.

“Why would the Lord send you?” the Pope asked.

“Well, it’s not like I was His first choice. Not even the second. Hell, I was probably the last, but… well, let’s say He didn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s either me or nothing.”

The Pope nodded. “I see. What is the proverb? Needs must when the Devil drives?”

Lucifer scoffed. “Yes, something like that! Now – may we speak in private?”

The Pope thought for a moment and then nodded. “Yes. Leave us please,” he said to the guards and the two men at his side.

“But Your Holiness...” one of the men protested, glancing at Lucifer uneasily.

“Go,” the Pope ordered. They left the room, albeit reluctantly.

“You understand why I’m here?” Lucifer asked as he put away his wings and sat down in the ancient armchair with rich red upholstery that the Pope ushered him to. The old man sat opposite him, a small, Mohegan table decorated with intriguing geometrical patterns between them and dead demons and ashes scattered all around them. Lucifer felt like he was visiting a boring elderly English friend with a fixation on death. The only thing missing was the tea.

“The key,” the Pope said finally.

“Yes.”

“I will not give it to you.”

Lucifer opened his mouth and then shut it again. What was he expecting? “Listen. The first Rider got out from its cell and is searching for the keys to free its comrades. If he succeeds, we’ll all die. Humanity will die!”

“I have nothing but your word on this, Morningstar.”

“And my word is my bond,” Lucifer retorted.

“Again, just your word. The key is safe. I will not give it to you, not to the demons, not to the Rider. I will not betray the duty that was bestowed upon me. I’d rather die.”

Lucifer sighed. He didn’t have time for silly speeches. “If the Rider gets to you, it doesn’t matter if you’re dead or alive. And it doesn’t matter how loyal you are. It will possess your soul and get the information without your consent. And it will get to you sooner or later.”

The Pope frowned. “If this is really true, then the knowledge of the key’s location must be taken from me.”

“Ah! Finally something we agree upon. Just bring it to me and I’ll keep it safe!”

The Pope shook his head. “No. The key was entrusted to the head of the Holy Church millennia ago. You will not have it. And you won’t have the knowledge of its location either.”

Lucifer scoffed. “You don’t believe me.”

“If what you say is true then you will leave, content with the knowledge the matter will be taken care of. I will send instructions right away.”

Lucifer nodded and rose to his feet. “Very well then. But before I go, tell me one thing.”

“Yes?”

“What is it you truly desire?” Lucifer asked, extending his power over the old man. He saw his eye twitch as he fought the urge to reveal his secrets but he didn’t stand a chance.

“I want all human beings to live their lives in happiness and without pain.”

Lucifer snorted. What a pathetic desire! “If you fail to keep the key safe, pain and unhappiness will be the only things left. Then they’ll disappear as well with the last souls.”

The Pope nodded, his expression grave, staring at Lucifer silently. He tilted his head a little. “Have we met before? You look familiar.”

Lucifer gulped. He couldn’t afford to lose what little trust he had gained. “No, we haven’t. I just happen to have one of those faces.”

The Pope nodded and he too got to his feet and to Lucifer’s surprise extended his hand to the Devil. Lucifer took it reluctantly.

“May God be with you,” the Pope whispered, then left him alone in the room.

“Unfortunately, He is,” Lucifer murmured. He stood there empty-handed for a while longer, thinking the mission hadn’t ended the way he’d wanted it to. But maybe the solution the Pope had come up with was better than his original plan. If no-one knew where the key was, the Rider couldn’t get to it. He touched his ring absentmindedly, wondering whether he and Amenadiel should hide their keys too. But this decision wasn’t only his to make. He spread his wings and was off.

*******

Amenadiel’s apartment, L.A.

Lucifer appeared in Amenadiel’s apartment few seconds after he had left the Vatican, once again hitting the walls with his wings as he landed. He really must remember to tuck them in or eventually he was going to punch holes in the walls. All eyes turned to him immediately.

“How did it go?” Amenadiel asked.

Lucifer didn’t answer as he noticed that Chloe wasn’t there yet. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried. He didn’t want to talk to her about the Devil stuff right now. Or ever. But she could be in trouble. Again. “Where’s the detective? They should be here by now.”

Amenadiel rolled his eyes. “Maze called. They’re picking up Trixie from school first.”

“Ah – the spawn. But still, it shouldn’t be taking them so long...”

“Luci, you were gone for only forty minutes.”

“Really?” It felt like hours to Lucifer.

“Really,” Vanessa confirmed. “So – the Pope?”

Lucifer sighed and told them what had happened.

“So,” Vanessa said after Lucifer finished, “the Pope will send the key somewhere without telling anybody what it is and without him knowing where they will take it?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“That’s smart,” Linda praised. “Shouldn’t we do that with the other two keys too?”

“No,” Vanessa answered immediately. “Wherever he sends the key, it can always be tracked. Even when those carrying it don’t know what they’re carrying. I don’t like this - you should have convinced him to give it to you,” she told Lucifer.

Lucifer felt offended. “What should have I done? Beat the information out of him?”

“Yes!” Vanessa answered with irritation.

Lucifer clenched his fists in anger. “Well, it was my choice and I chose to not beat the man up. I don’t like violence, you know.”

“For a guy who doesn’t like violence you’ve been doing remarkably well these past few days,” Vanessa retorted.

“Oh! Did I have a choice?! You gave me that pep talk about being the general, but all I seem to be doing is the heavy lifting!”

“Yeah,” Amenadiel growled, “poor Luci. The victim of an accident that gave him all the power!”

“Ehm, guys,” Linda interjected loudly. “We shouldn’t be fighting each other. We already have an enemy.” They all shut up and just glared murderously at each other. A knock on the door broke the tension and Amenadiel went to open it.

“Son,” Charlotte greeted him. “You must be right about the Apocalypse,” she continued as she pushed past him into the apartment, “the city is swarming with humans in their funny metal vehicles, trying to get away. Don’t they know that the Apocalypse is everywhere?” She stopped talking when she noticed the apartment was full of people. And most of them she didn’t even know. She focused on the one person she had been longing to see for quite some time.

“Lucifer?” she breathed with relief.

Lucifer’s eyes widened. “What is she doing here?!” he bellowed.

“I called her,” Amenadiel admitted.

“Why on Earth would you do that?” Lucifer cried. “You think we haven’t got enough problems yet?”

“I called her because besides Dad she is the only one who knows more about the Riders than we do. We need her if we want to survive this!”

“Oh, you mean you need her! To hug you and read you bedtime stories!” Lucifer yelled at his brother. “What do we know? She might be the one who started the Apocalypse in the first place!”

“Please!” Charlotte scoffed. “I can’t say I care about the consequences for the humans but why would I do it? All I ever wanted was to return to my family. And now, Heaven’s Gate is closed and we can’t go back to Silver City until the Gate opens again!”

“Wait a minute!” God yelled, His eyes widening with delight. “It’s you!”

Charlotte looked at the old man with the mane of gray hair and slightly protruding belly. “Do we know each other?”

“Yes, in the biblical way. So I’ve been told,” God answered, looking at Charlotte appreciatively from head to toe.

“Son?” Charlotte turned to Amenadiel, “who is this confused man?”

Amenadiel took a deep breath, preparing himself for a fight. “Mom, this is Dad.”

“Whose Dad?”

“Our Dad,” Amenadiel added while all the others watched in silence. “He’s God.”

Charlotte blinked and then scoffed, glancing at Lucifer. “What is this? Some kind of game? I heard one of my clients talking about this LARP thing… will I get a role?”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “No, no games. It’s really Him. Except He doesn’t remember anything. And He’s lost all of His divinity.”

Charlotte stared at God wide-eyed before turning abruptly to Amenadiel. “You forgot to mention He’s here.”

“No, I didn’t,” Amenadiel said, not looking guilty at all.

“So,” God drawled, taking a step closer to Charlotte, “if you’re the mother of my sons, it means that you and I -”

“Are divorced,” Charlotte finished.

“Oh, that bad?” God’s face fell. “I thought we were just estranged... So I guess our marriage didn’t work out?”

“Something like that,” Charlotte confirmed. “You locked me in Hell for several millennia.”

“That sounds hellish,” God replied, clearly thinking she was speaking metaphorically. “Pity, I really like that derriere of yours,” He added, winking at her.

“Dad!” Lucifer yelled.

Charlotte smiled. “Thank you. It takes a lot of work to keep it in this shape.”

“Mum!” Lucifer cried while Amenadiel grimaced in disgust.

“Can we return to the pressing issue of the Apocalypse, please,” Vanessa snapped, “and leave the family drama for another time?”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed and turned to his mother. “Now, if you’re here to help, then help. The first Rider of the Apocalypse is on the loose and we need to lock it back in its cell. But we don’t have the key and we don’t even know what it looks like or where it might be.”

Charlotte scoffed. “And you think I know? You know your Father and His inclination to secrecy. He didn’t share that information with me either. He was afraid I would use it against His precious humans.”

“Bloody Hell!” Lucifer yelled in exasperation.

“So how can we stop it?” Vanessa asked.

Charlotte laughed. “You can’t. Once the Apocalypse has begun, it can’t be stopped. And those creatures won’t stop until they destroy all humans. I say we wait until it’s over and then return home,” she said the last words to her sons. “I mean, surely they wouldn’t dare to destroy us!”

“Surely,” Vanessa drawled, looking incredulously at Charlotte. “They’d just destroy everything else. Great plan!”

“Thank you,” Charlotte answered with a smile, making Vanessa doubt her intellect.

“Mom,” Amenadiel said, “Father could defeat the Rider. Do you know how?”

Charlotte shook her head. “I sincerely doubt He could do that. Even though He’s the one who’s supposed to be the omniscient, all powerful Almighty,” she spat with contempt.

“Sorry to disappoint,” God muttered. “Now I’m beginning to understand why I divorced you.”

“Dad must have had a plan,” Lucifer said. “The Rider went to great lengths to try to get Him.”

“Really?” Charlotte looked at God, an idea forming in her head. “Maybe we could give Him to the Rider as an offering,” she suggested. “He’s useless anyway.”

“Oi!” God yelled in indignation. “I’m not useless. I know things. I just don’t happen to remember them.”

Charlotte shrugged and smiled. “I was just thinking we could negotiate with the Rider. You know, exchange you for our lives.”

God shook His head. “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned; nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned.”

They all looked at Him with slack jaws.

“What?” God asked, looking around. “Don’t you like poetry?”

“Guys,” Vanessa pleaded, “can we focus, please?!”

“You know,” Lucifer turned to his mother, “it was probably the Rider who killed Azrael.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened. “The Rider did it?! It possessed that Wibly human? But that means -”

“That Azrael’s soul’s gone too,” Amenadiel finished.

Charlotte staggered, gasping in shock and fighting the tears that threatened. “My poor child!” No-one spoke as she took a moment to compose herself. “How long have you known?”

“Since this morning,” Amenadiel replied.

Charlotte scoffed. “And you couldn’t have told me?! I could have mourned! I could have… done something other than waste my time kidnapping that pathetic FBI agent and trying to torture the truth out of him!”

“What FBI agent?” Vanessa asked, an alarm sounding in her head.

“The one investigating the death of my daughter. Haley.”

“Shit,” Vanessa cursed. “Where’s he now?”

Charlotte shrugged. “How should I know? My husband – the earthly husband – released him while I was talking with Amenadiel.”

“Double shit!” Vanessa yelled.

“Is it?” Charlotte asked, not understanding. “He didn’t smell particularly badly.”

“He’s one of ours – a Knight of the Templar. But there’s probably a traitor in our midst, and if Haley followed you, which is likely, you led him right here. Meaning you’ve led the whole organization here. We should get out of here before reinforcements come!”

“Ah!” Lucifer heaved a sigh. This constant moving was getting ridiculous. But there was a bonus in it too. They would finally get out of Amenadiel’s excuse for an apartment.

“But where do we go?” Linda asked. “I mean if he’s an agent of the FBI, he must know everything about all of Lucifer’s associates. And that includes me,” she added quietly as she realized she was in danger.

Lucifer smiled. “Leave that to me. I happen to have a perfect place for a little hideout! A lovely cottage in Oregon a friend of mine gave me as a payment of his debt. And the great thing is that legally it’s still his. No-one would look for us there.”

“Good,” Vanessa nodded. “We need a headquarters anyway. But first we must get rid of Haley, our cars, phones and credit cards. Everything that can be tracked.”

Lucifer nodded. “Leave that to me too! You just take a taxi to this place,” Lucifer said and wrote an address on a piece of paper. “The man owes me a favor. Tell him I’m sending you and choose something sturdy to drive in. I’ll get rid of Haley, pick up some cash and meet you there.”

Vanessa took the address from Lucifer and nodded.

“Just give me five,” Lucifer added as he opened the back door and hurried outside to check Haley and his henchmen weren’t lurking there.

Amenadiel went to pack a few things, while Linda and Charlotte waited silently, neither of them liking the idea they were traveling light and so suddenly. Vanessa paced impatiently, actually counting the seconds.

“I should have stayed in the retirement home,” God complained and sighed, staring at Charlotte dejectedly.

Johann poked Hirschel who had fallen asleep during the debate. The ancient man blinked with confusion. “What’s going on?”

“We’re going to save the world,” Johann replied and helped him to his feet.

Chapter Text

Amenadiel’s apartment

Lucifer hurried to the street via the back door and searched stealthily for anyone or anything looking suspicious. He spotted Charlotte’s car soon enough with a black man sitting at the wheel and staring towards Amenadiel’s apartment. Lucifer approached the car from behind, taking care the man didn’t see him.

“Hello there,” he said to Haley as he sneaked to the driver’s door and yanked it off using his supernatural strength. He grabbed the surprised agent by the throat and squeezed a bit to make sure he had his full attention.

“You know who I am?” Lucifer asked the wide-eyed man. The agent nodded.

“Good. That will make this much easier. You and your incompetent organization better stay out of our way or we’ll destroy you. Is that clear?”

Haley grimaced, his eyes filled with hatred. “Whatever your plan,” he choked past Lucifer’s grip on his throat, “we will stop you, Morningstar.”

“Ah – you wish the Apocalypse go on without interruption, hm?”

“Apo- what? What’s your game?”

“Poker mostly, but in this case, it’s your organization that is playing something. Who knows – maybe you started the Apocalypse.”

Haley squirmed, trying to push Lucifer’s hand away. “You’re a liar!”

“I never lie! You are harboring a traitor who almost had my Dad killed. On second thought, maybe the traitor is you!” Lucifer’s eyes lit up with an idea. “Tell me, Agent, what do you really yearn for, when no-one’s looking, when you’re alone in your bed, staring at the ceiling and dreaming about your future?”

“I...” Haley stammered, fighting the urge to talk and failing. “I want to be the Grand Master. And then I want to kill all the fucking atheists and the false worshippers! I want the world to be cleansed of the filth of homosexuals and women taking pills and doctors playing God!”

Lucifer snorted in disgust. “Right. A simple ‘I’m a dick’ would have sufficed. So, considering your confession it may be you who’s helping the Rider!”

“I don’t know anything about any Rider!” Haley yelled and hit Lucifer several times, futilely trying to get away from him.

As much as Lucifer didn’t like to admit it, the man seemed to be telling the truth. He noticed the others leaving Amenadiel’s apartment and decided it was time to end the conversation. He smashed Haley’s head into the dashboard, careful not to kill him but using enough force to send him into oblivion. He waved to the group and after they scrounged up a couple of taxis, Lucifer returned to Amenadiel’s apartment. He took the Spear and unfolded his wings. There was another stop he had to make.

*******

Lucifer’s penthouse

Lucifer landed in his penthouse, the apartment empty, thank Dad. He hurried to his bedroom and pushed a hidden button in the wall, which opened to reveal a safe. Lucifer punched in the code and when it opened he withdrew a large bag of hundred dollar bills. He peeked inside to check the amount and guessed about five hundred thousand dollars. There was a small pouch on top as well and Lucifer opened it, pouring a few finely cut diamonds onto his palm. He guessed it wouldn’t be long before money lost its value.

He closed the bag and hurried to the closet. He changed quickly, finally discarding the blood and dead demon ash stained clothes, and chose several pieces of clothing that he pushed inside a small suitcase. He wasn’t going to risk running out of decent clothes any time soon. He added some toiletries and a bottle of his best Scotch and when the suitcase was full he closed it carefully. He unfolded his wings, ready to leave, but remembered one more thing and hurried to the living room. He smashed his fist into the wall, breaking it easily, and reached inside to withdraw Azrael’s blade. He had hidden it there to protect it – and humans – from his mother. But this little devil could come in handy now. He threw it in the suitcase with his clothes and then, taking the two bags and the Spear he spread his wings and teleported to meet Vanessa and the others.

*******

Somewhere in Los Angeles

“Look where you’re going, you fucking motherfucker!” Maze yelled as an old Ford in the middle lane scratched her beloved Dodge Charger.

“Shoulda got outta my way, bitch!” the driver called after her, making Maze slam on the brakes. The driver of the Ford did the same; the people behind them immediately started blowing their horns and yelling at them to move, but instead the driver got out of his car. It was clear his hobby was bodybuilding and that he intended to let his fists continue the conversation.

“Maze!” Dan yelled from the passenger's seat, reaching for Maze, who had started to get out too, and pulled her back inside. “We don’t have time for this!”

Maze slammed her car door angrily and gave the Ford driver her middle finger. “Meet you in Hell, sucker! And be sure I’ll remember you!”

Chloe wanted to roll her eyes but she actually felt sorry for the man now that she knew what Maze really was... and that she’d make good on her threat. Meanwhile Maze continued to unleash a torrent of abuse out the window as they slowly pulled away, and Chloe kept her hands pressed firmly over her daughter’s ears. When Maze eventually stopped cursing Chloe tentatively moved her hands down to hug Trixie and gazed at the bedlam outside her window. “It looks like the whole city is being evacuated,” she pointed out.

In normal circumstances pedestrians would’ve stopped and stared at the ruckus Maze and the driver had made, but these were hardly normal circumstances. This was the Apocalypse and there were no pedestrians, save for a few stragglers hurrying to find shelter. Chloe didn’t know how the ‘riots’ were progressing but judging by the cars packed with people and belongings jamming the roads, not so well.

“It’s much less fun than in action movies,” Dan added and scratched his head impatiently. They were moving far too slowly with all the chaos on the roads. Amenadiel had called about twenty minutes ago to give Maze cryptic instructions on where to meet the others along with the order to get rid of everything that was traceable. They threw away their phones and very soon were going to get rid of the Dodge; maybe that’s why Maze was grumpy.

Maze suddenly stepped on the gas, making Chloe scream as she took a sharp left, almost hitting the cars coming from the opposite direction. She steered the car into a small alley and stopped.

Chloe sighed with relief. “This is where we leave the car?”

“The hell we do,” Maze growled and got out. Chloe watched her as she opened the trunk and withdrew two number plates and a screwdriver. As Maze got to work swapping them, Dan turned to Chloe with a smile.

“I guess we should probably arrest her.”

“Yeah, probably,” Chloe echoed, still amazed at how they’d gotten into this situation. Why her and her family? Why couldn’t the Devil and his demon have chosen someone else? But on the other hand she was probably one of the lucky ones; at least she knew what was really going on. Everyone else fleeing the city had no idea what was happening - well, except for one more. Before she had thrown away her phone, she had texted Ella to inform her about the situation. She had no idea whether the petite woman had gotten the message, but she hoped she was okay.

“All done,” Maze said as she returned to the car. “We’re untraceable.” She restarted the engine and nosed back into the flow of traffic. They passed several military and police blockades before arriving at the meeting point, which was a large garage full of cars of various makes and models. The others were already there, standing around three older Toyota pickups.

“Mazikeen!” Lucifer growled as she jumped out, “you were supposed to get rid of the car!”

“I was supposed to get rid of everything that can be traced to me. I did. I changed the plates.”

Lucifer sighed. “I guess I can’t argue with that.” He glanced at Chloe when she also exited the car, followed by Dan and Trixie. She seemed OK, thank Dad. He should probably talk to her about all this sooner rather than later, but what should he say? Should he inform her she was a miracle? A tool created by his Father to manipulate him? No, maybe there was no need to tell her that. Now that she knew who he really was, she wouldn’t follow the false feelings his Father had made her feel. She was too smart for that. She was safe from… him.

“So where are we going?” Maze asked, making Lucifer blink and rouse from his musings.

Lucifer withdrew a map and spread it out on the car hood, tapping a long index finger on a spot north of California.

“Here.”

“Bend in Oregon?”

“My cabin is nearby. We should be fine there.”

Maze sighed. “I hate road trips. Especially to the countryside. It’s so… rustic.”

“Are we going on a picnic?” Trixie asked, her eyes wide. Chloe knew she sensed something was very wrong but she still hadn’t found the courage to tell her daughter what was happening.

“No, Monkey. You see, the world is in trouble and we are going to save it.” At least she hoped so. These people - or whatever they were – were no team to be sure. If they were to work together effectively, they would need someone to lead them, to keep them together. And Chloe thought that the only one who could do that was Lucifer. But he seemed oddly detached. Whenever she glanced his way, she found him staring at her, but he’d immediately avert his gaze.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Dan’s voice, “What is she doing here?” He pointed at Charlotte.

Lucifer smiled. He was going to enjoy this. “Daniel, I believe you know my mother. Intimately.”

“Hello, Detective Espinoza,” Charlotte purred as she lewdly ogled Dan.

“Y… your… your…” Dan stammered as he grew deathly pale.

“Just say it,” Lucifer urged.

“Mmmmother?!”

Chloe wanted to throw up. And looking at Dan’s expression she knew she wasn’t the only one. But at least now it all made sense – why Lucifer had been so upset about Dan sleeping with Charlotte, and his disgust at her suggestion that he’d also slept with her.

“Trust me, Douche, I don’t want her with us either, but she is the only one who apparently knows more about the Apocalypse than we do.”

“That’s true,” Charlotte said. “I’m useful.”

“Now the plan,” Lucifer changed the subject. “We have a place to crash, we have new transportation and we have money.” He laid the bag with the money on the car hood and opened it.

“What we need,” Vanessa continued, “are provisions. So we can last if things get ugly. Here,” she said and passed a plastic bag full of cellphones to the group. “I bought us new phones. Everyone take one, the numbers are already uploaded.”

“Who’s the G.I. Jane?” Dan whispered to Chloe’s ear as they both took one of the old-fashioned, not at all smartphones.

Chloe shrugged. “Lucifer’s new bestie?” One he had changed her for? And why not? She was younger and certainly more beautiful in her tight jeans and fitted black top. And maybe she was the new boss. Maybe it wasn’t Lucifer who should lead the group, maybe it was this young woman. She definitely seemed suited to the role.

“Now, we need food,” Vanessa counted on her fingers, “weapons and communications equipment - computers and satellite receiver to get internet connection. We have four cars instead of three,” she glanced at Maze reproachfully, but the demon barely shrugged, “so we’ll split into four groups; two will take care of the food, one the weapons and one the computers and internet.”

“Good thinking, love,” Lucifer said. “You sort out the chores, I’ll take the air.”

“No,” Vanessa countered. “You go with God and Amenadiel.”

“Whaaat? A family outing? You want to put me in Hell?”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “Don’t forget the Rider still wants them. And you’re the most qualified to protect them in case we’re found on the road.”

Lucifer sighed. He didn’t want to admit it but she was right. “Alright.”

“I’m going with Chloe and my daughter,” Dan said.

Vanessa nodded. “OK. You get the food. Mostly canned. No fancy organic shit that rots in a day!” Chloe raised her eyebrows in disbelief. This G.I. Jane obviously had no idea about the dietary habits of the average cop.

“I’ll source the weaponry,” Maze offered, smiling. There was going to be at least one positive thing about this trip. “And Linda’s coming with me.”

“Agreed,” Vanessa said. “Take Charlotte too.”

“No way!” Maze yelled.

“Her knowledge about the Apocalypse is valuable...” Vanessa argued.

“If she has any,” Lucifer muttered, not trusting his mother at all.

“... and she needs protection,” Vanessa finished, ignoring Lucifer’s comment.

“Please,” Charlotte drawled, “I am the Goddess. I can take care of myself.”

Vanessa sighed. “Fine. You can drive with me, Johann and Hirschel.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened. “I’m not driving with that walking corpse!” she pointed at the ancient man. “I want to go with -” she looked around. Certainly not God or that filthy little kid. “Alright, fine. I’m going with the demon. But only because it’s the Apocalypse.”

“It’s settled then,” Vanessa said, rolling her eyes once more. “Johann, Hirschel and I will get some food too. That leaves Lucifer’s group to get the computers.”

“Wait a minute,” Lucifer said. “Shouldn’t those be sorted by someone who understands that stuff?” Amenadiel started to open his mouth, but Lucifer interrupted him. “Like really understands? Besides just using Instagram and porn sites?”

“Good point.” Vanessa nodded and looked around. Everyone looked at her blankly. “Shit!” she cursed, realizing they didn’t have anyone skilled enough to deal with the technical stuff.

“What about Ella?” Chloe offered. “She basically knows what’s going on and she is geeky smart. I don’t know if she's really into computers but she's definitely sciencey and I bet she could do it.”

“Dear Ella,” Lucifer smiled. “Oh, yes. If anyone could be our resident computer nerd, it’s her. Good thinking, Detective.”

Chloe thought she blushed a bit. Like a schoolgirl. And why? Just because the insufferable Devil had finally chosen to address her? Because he’d given her a slight compliment? Wait – he’d complimented Ella, not her! Chloe shook her head. Why was her brain having these useless thoughts?

“We can’t risk calling this person,” Vanessa countered. “Her phone might be monitored too.”

“That’s not a problem,” Lucifer said with a smile and unfolded his wings. “I’ll just pay her a visit and be right back.”

“You have wings!” Trixie exclaimed and gaped at the appendages with awe. Then she decided it would be cool to touch them and moved forward with her hands outstretched.

“Whatcha doing?!” Lucifer exclaimed and took a step back, putting his palms up to prevent the little devil from touching him.

Trixie stopped and blinked. “Can I fly with you?”

“NO!” Lucifer and Chloe said at the same time.

“I’ll give you Ella’s address,” Chloe continued. “I don’t think she stayed at the precinct after I texted her.”

“I know her address,” Lucifer replied smoothly and before Chloe could say that she wasn’t surprised, he was off.

*******

Ella’s apartment, Los Angeles

Ella threw her phone on the bed with a curse. Damn her stupid brother! She’d tried to warn him, tried to tell him what was happening, but as usual he didn’t believe her. But truth be told, if her brother called her, claiming the Apocalypse had started, she would probably think he was high too.

She unceremoniously dumped more clothes into her small overnight bag and pondered where she would go. Out of the city, for sure. In times of crisis it was wise to get out of cities and move to towns, the less populated the better. No-one cared about small towns.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a weird sound coming from the tiny balcony behind her. It sounded like a pigeon had landed there and was pecking at the window. Annoyed, she turned to chase the bird away, but got a fright when she discovered it was actually Lucifer crouching on the balcony and knocking. “Jesus!” she yelled in surprise.

“No, it’s Lucifer,” he stated the obvious and smiled at her broadly. “May I come in?”

Ella opened the door and let the tall man walk inside. “How did you get there?” she asked.

“I flew.”

Ella blinked, her brain trying to operate through a thick haze of confusion and panic. Everything was completely loco and she didn't know what was real any more. But something deep inside her brain told her that everything Lucifer had said about himself was true, and he was in fact a fallen angel. How come he’d fallen when he had wings? Would he show her if she asked nicely?

“I thought it better to land on the balcony and spare you the fright,” Lucifer explained.

“Are you here to take me to Heaven?” Oh, hell, where had that question come from?

“What?”

“Oh, jeez… but you’re the Devil! Does that mean I’m going to Hell?!” she cried in panic.

“What are you babbling about?”

“It’s the Apocalypse!” Ella yelled. “Judgment Day, the Day of Reckoning, the -”

“No, no, no!” Lucifer stopped her. “It doesn’t work like that. And I’m not here to take you to Hell. Well, not literally, but we need your help with something and I doubt it’ll be a walk in the park....”

Ella’s eyes grew wide. “My help? With what?”

“With stopping the Apocalypse, obviously. It’s not meant to happen yet.”

Ella tried to process this new information, but her brain was still struggling to keep up. How was the Apocalypse not supposed to happen and yet happening? Why did they need her help? Who were they? What was she supposed to do? Steal cars? Do some forensic stuff? On dead bodies? Dead angels? Dead demons? Would the plants die too? She liked trees. Was her help needed in L.A.? She shouldn’t stay in L.A. Would her aunt approve? And did it matter when she was dead and safe in Heaven? Would she get to Heaven? Could her aunt see her now? Could God see her? Would He approve? And why wasn’t He stopping the Apocalypse when it wasn’t supposed to be happening?

“Ella?”

“Hm? Sorry, just talking to myself. In my head.”

“Alright,” Lucifer said slowly. “Will you help, then?”

“Yeah, sure. Help! I can help, I think. But I can’t cook. Besides eggs and tea and stuff like that.”

Lucifer shook his head, grinning as he realized what was going on. “Did you, by any chance, get blazed recently?”

“Maybe,” Ella replied, wondering how he’d found out. Did the weed still smell? She sniffed the air. She couldn’t tell. “OK, I did a little bit. But hey, it’s the Apocalypse! No need to save the good stuff for later when there’s probably not going to be a ‘later’.”

“True.”

“Why are you asking me? Why isn’t God doing something?”

“He is. In a way.”

“I see.”

“I very much doubt it.”

“So, what kind of help do you need?”

“We need someone to operate the computers.”

“Computers?” Ella wrinkled her nose. “I don’t know much about computers. What about them?”

Lucifer searched his memory... what indeed? That particular nugget of information dear Miss Burrow had forgotten to share with him. “You know… things. Browsing on the internet, getting information...”

Ella looked at him like he’d grown another head. A child could do that.

“There will be plenty of weed in it for you.”

“Well, I guess it’s the best job offer I’ll get during the Apocalypse. So, yeah, count me in.”

“Wonderful!” Lucifer exclaimed and gave her an address where they would pick her up. “Take a taxi. And don’t take anything that can be traced back to you.”

“Gotcha!” Ella nodded.

Lucifer spread his wings, making Ella squeal in surprise. Her hands flew to her mouth and she gaped at the huge beautiful wings glowing with a warm light.

“Sorry, should have warned you.”

“You really are an angel. I mean the Devil. I mean,” Ella stammered while she stared wide-eyed at the gorgeous white appendages. “May I?” she asked and without waiting for permission she touched the soft feathers.

Lucifer grabbed her hand gently and stopped her. “Sorry, love, private property.” He had no idea why he minded her touching him, but it felt too intimate in a way.

“Sure. No problem, man. I mean Lucifer!”

“See you later,” Lucifer said and took off.

Ella stared at the spot Lucifer had disappeared from for several minutes. She had always thought she didn’t need proof of God’s existence, but seeing an angel with her own eyes, the beauty of him, it felt… well, better than anything she had ever felt before. Because it meant God was real. She had been right the whole time. But more importantly, life wasn’t all there was to have. No, she had a soul, an immortal soul that would be judged one day and hopefully go to Heaven to join all her good relatives and friends. The atheists had it wrong. Life wasn’t just the result of a chain of coincidences and biological urges like scientists postulated. It had been created by God for a higher purpose… she had been created for a higher purpose. But for… what? Well, now, that was the question she needed to find the answer to.

*******

Somewhere in Los Angeles

Lucifer drove Maze’s car through the crowded streets of L.A. to the meeting point with Ella; Amenadiel rode shotgun and their Dad was in the back. Maze hadn’t given him her car willingly of course, but with the firepower she planned to get, she needed something with a bigger trunk than her Charger. So she had taken one of the pickups, muttering something about injustice in the world.

Lucifer pulled up in the McDonald's parking lot just like he’d promised Ella. He spotted her waiting impatiently - if the constant shuffling of her feet was any indication - next to the drive-thru entrance. She held a huge McDonald’s package in one hand and a small bag in the other. Lucifer opened the window and waved at her. Ella saw him and hurried to the car.

“Hey, you came!” she said by way of greeting.

“Of course I did,” Lucifer replied, insulted. “My word is my bond, darling.”

“I know that. I just wasn’t sure that I didn’t imagine it all. I was pretty high, you know.”

Lucifer smirked as Ella threw her bag in the trunk and climbed into the back seat. She blinked at the old, gray-haired man sitting next to her and then focused on the huge bald man in the front. Had she seen him somewhere?

“Ah, Ella, this brooding bear is Amenadiel, my brother,” Lucifer introduced the huge man, “and the ugly old bloke back there is our Father. God.”

Ella’s head turned around so fast something cracked in her neck. She stared in open-mouthed amazement at the old man. “Oh, my God!”

“Yes?”

“You’re God?!”

“Yes.”

“Dude! That’s… dude!” Ella blinked rapidly, not knowing what to say or do. She hadn’t been so lost as to what to do since the time she'd bumped into Chris Hemsworth at Comic-Con.

“I get this reaction a lot,” God tried to ease her shock.

“You really are God?!”

“Yes. Although I can’t provide any entertaining act as proof.”

“God, don’t worry about that. After all I’ve seen, I believe you. And I want you to know that I’m totally a fan!” Ella exclaimed and finally realized she’d forgotten to hug Him. She did that, awkwardly as they were both belted into their seats. “I mean I love what you did with the world. Especially animals. I love cats! And trees! So much creativity!”

“Well, young lady,” God said while He returned the hug with a smile, “I’m glad to hear that. If you wish me to sign something for you, just let me know,” He winked at her.

“Cool!” Ella exclaimed, not sure what had God meant by that. “I have so much to talk about with you!”

“Oh, I like talking! What would you like to share? I’d love to hear about your job! Lucifer said you were a forensic expert?”

Ella waved her hand dismissively. “My job’s boring. Mostly lab stuff. No, I’d love to hear about the reason why we’re all here. You know, the meaning of life and behind the scenes of the creation of the universe?”

“Oh, that talk,” God frowned in disappointment.

“Don’t get all excited, Miss Lopez,” Lucifer drawled while he steered the car back onto the highway, “He’s lost all His memories. So, no interesting talk for you.”

“Really?” Ella looked at God more closely. “Man, that sucks. I mean I finally get to meet you and you don’t remember anything. Unless this is a test of some kind and I’m failing? Am I failing?”

God shook His head. “No test.”

“Jeez!” Ella sighed. “I so wish to know how all this happened,” she waved her arms to indicate, well, everything.

“That’s simple,” Lucifer replied. “Mum and Dad had sex and boom – the universe was created.”

“Just like that?” God asked with a frown.

“Yes. Just like that. So you see, in the beginning, there was no plan. Just mind blowing sex.”

“Oh my,” God breathed, “that must have been one hell of an orgasm to create all this. And I don’t even remember it!”

“Can we please,” Amenadiel pleaded, “stop talking about sex and orgasms?”

“Why?” Lucifer asked, suppressing his own disgust at the idea of his parents having sex just to tease his brother. “It’s fun. You should try it sometime.”

Amenadiel shook his head in exasperation.

“No,” God said, “Amenadiel’s right. Work first, fun later.”

Lucifer watched in the rearview mirror as God withdrew His phone and dialed a number.

“Black Eagle? This is Celestial One. We’ve picked up Little Mouse and are on our way to buy the computery stuff. We will continue to the Nest later.”

“What the bloody hell are you doing?!” Lucifer cried incredulously. God looked around; everyone was looking at him funny.

“What?” he retorted defensively. “Informing Vanessa of our whereabouts, of course!”

“Yes, I got that! But why are you talking in code?”

“Just in case someone’s listening. So they at least won’t know what I’m talking about. Really, son, you should watch more movies.”

“But ‘Celestial One’?” Lucifer repeated.

“Well, ‘Air Force One’ is already taken.”

Lucifer shook his head. “‘Celestial One’, Dad? How is that supposed to be a code?”

God glanced at Ella.

“I think it’s cool,” Ella said quickly and extended her hand with the McDonald’s package to the old man. “Cheeseburger?”

“Traitor,” Lucifer whispered, glaring at her.

“Oh, thank you, young lady,” God smiled and took a cheeseburger and fries. “The cholesterol in it will probably kill me, but who cares,” He said, looking pointedly at Lucifer. “Better to die of heart attack later than to die of starvation now, am I right?” He added when Lucifer still hadn’t reacted.

“I told you,” Lucifer growled, “we’d stop later on the road to grab something!”

“Yes. You said that an hour ago. And we haven’t even made it out of L.A. yet. I haven’t eaten since this morning, you know!”

“Well, do you think that I have?” Lucifer yelled. “I didn’t go to the Vatican to enjoy a grand lasagna!”

“You went to the Vatican?” Ella asked, watching the exchange while eating her fries. “I’d love to go there myself!”

“Yes I did. To save the Pope, of all people.”

“Cool! The Devil saved the Pope! Am I still stoned?”

“Probably,” Lucifer answered.

“Here,” Ella extended her hand and gave Lucifer and Amenadiel each a hamburger.

“Oh, thank you, darling,” Lucifer sighed, not sure whether to be delighted he had something to eat or disgusted it was a greasy fast food hamburger. His stomach growled hungrily, and decided for him.

*******

About 100 miles north of Los Angeles on the road to Oregon

“I hope we don’t get stopped by the police,” Linda said, thinking about the dozens of pieces of armory in their trunk. Maze had gotten them lots of guns, swords, knives, grenades... Linda had even glimpsed something that looked like a bazooka. All of it highly illegal, of course.

“Why?” Charlotte asked from the back seat. “Do you think they would recognize Mazikeen for the demon she is?”

Linda frowned. She hadn’t realized before how very ill-adjusted the Goddess was. “No. Because of the weapons we’re carrying.”

“Citizens of the U.S. have the right to defend themselves and their properties,” Charlotte retorted, remembering a line from one of her law books.

“Yes,” Linda agreed. “But you don’t usually use a bazooka to scare away a burglar.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s messy,” Maze replied.

“I don’t remember talking to you, demon.”

Maze glanced into the rearview mirror. “I don’t remember asking you to start talking, bitch.”

“Maze, Maze,” Linda soothed, “we’ve talked about this. Anger isn’t the answer. It will only make things worse,” she said for the twentieth time today.

Maze gritted her teeth while Charlotte smiled smugly. “You should probably use an incentive if you want to train the demon to behave.”

“And nastiness isn’t going to make things better either,” Linda added while Maze growled. Charlotte’s eyebrows rose in surprise that the human was brave enough to answer her back.

“We’re out of gas,” Maze said and pulled in at the next gas station. Linda and Charlotte went into the small shop to buy something to eat while Maze took care of the gas.

“Well,” Linda sighed, “I can’t expect them to have something like salad or anything remotely healthy.”

Charlotte glanced at Linda, a pie in her hand. “Tell me about it. If I eat this, I will probably have to buy a one size bigger dress tomorrow.”

Linda shook her head. The Goddess wore the sexiest female body she had seen in ages and yet she seemed unsatisfied. Didn’t she know that most women would kill for a body like hers? Well, probably not.

They chose several pies that looked mostly edible and moved to the counter. But the shop assistant had his back to them, his eyes glued to a TV.

“Excuse me,” Linda said but the man shushed her and increased the volume. Both women looked up to see what was happening on the screen. It was a news report and a blonde female reporter was standing in front of the police precinct in L.A.

“… with the help of the U.S. army the widespread riots across Los Angeles were finally quelled this afternoon. According to the latest reports twenty seven policemen and policewomen were killed, eleven were severely injured and six are still missing. The Chief of Police is to yet give an official statement. No criminal or terrorist groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the mayor has said it is unlikely to be a gang war as these attacks were coordinated across the whole world. A terrorist attack seems the most plausible explanation, although there is no known organization able to coordinate an attack on such a large scale.”

“Terrorists,” the man behind the counter snorted and switched the channel.

Charlotte was about to call to him to pay, but another news report got her attention. A young man was talking to an older reporter in earnest, his face red.

“… I swear it’s true! I saw an angel!”

“Oh, great,” the shop assistant sighed. “Another lunatic.” He was about to switch the channel again but Linda stopped him.

“I’d love to see that if you don’t mind.”

The man shrugged and left the channel on.

“… huge white wings. And they glowed. Like a decoration on houses during Christmas or something.”

“What did the angel look like?”

“Ah... he was male, tall and he was wearing a suit.”

“A suit?”

“Yes. It looked really expensive.”

The camera moved on to a young blond-haired man in a priest’s robe. The caption below read ‘Father Sean Branigan’.

“Father Branigan, two days ago the corpse of an angel was found in your church. Do you think that appearance of an angel today is somehow connected to the dead one?”

“Yes. The Lord sent us a message but we didn’t pay attention. Now He’s sending us another.”

“What message is that?”

“A warning, obviously. The attackers weren’t mere terrorists, they were demons from Hell sent by the Devil himself. The time when we have to face Satan has come. Embrace the word of God and renounce the Devil!”

“That’s outrageous slander!” Charlotte yelled. “Lucifer would never have sent those filthy demons to Earth. They have work to do in Hell!”

The shop assistant turned to Charlotte with raised eyebrows.

Linda laughed forcefully. “She’s joking,” she said and pushed the pies to the man to ring up.

“What’s going on?” Maze asked as she entered the shop.

“Nothing!” Linda said quickly as they paid for the food and gas. They really didn’t want to draw attention to themselves, and trashing a convenience store because some religious idiot shot his mouth off would definitely do that. She bustled Charlotte and Maze out the door and back to the car, and they hit the road again.

*******

About 400 miles north of Los Angeles on the road to Oregon

Traffic was still horrendous but they moved faster the further they got from L.A. Vanessa glanced at the rearview mirror to check on Hirschel. The old man was probably sleeping even though his eyes were wide open.

“I never prayed,” Vanessa admitted suddenly. She didn’t know why she was saying that, since it was absolutely unimportant, but she felt like it was a sin or something, one she needed to confess.

Johann turned to her and blinked. “I prayed many times and it never helped.”

Vanessa scoffed. “Yeah. I always thought that if I were to pray one day, it would be a day like this. You know - the world ending. But no-one would hear me now, right?”

“It’s not the end of the world yet,” Johann countered.

“Might as well be. I mean look at the rescue squad. Could it be any worse?”

“Yes,” Johann replied. “At least we have a pretty powerful angel on our side.”

“Yeah, pretty,” Vanessa snorted. “Would be better if he was less pretty and more sane.”

“He’s not that bad. Weird, perhaps. But I think he genuinely cares about what happens to the world.”

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Making things seem better than they really are.”

“Am I? I guess I’m just trying to keep some hope alive. Without hope there’s nothing,” Johann said and pushed his glasses up his nose.

“Hope won’t save us. We need to organize, we need to plan, we need to learn how to work with each other. And we need a leader. I don’t think that Lucifer can do it. I mean, he’s just so… impulsive.”

Johann frowned at Vanessa. “We don’t need Lucifer to lead us. We have you.”

“Me?” Vanessa repeated, glancing at her friend. “I can’t do it.”

“Why not?”

“You know why!” she spat angrily. With everything going on around her it was getting harder and harder to control her emotions. Oh, she hated it!

Johann shook his head. “This again? You know you’re as good as any of them! Better even.”

Vanessa gripped the wheel tightly, her knuckles turning white. “You’re doing it again, Johann. Making things look better than they really are.”

“No, I’m not,” Johann answered firmly and was about to say more but Vanessa stepped on the gas and overtook the car in front of them at breakneck speed, barely missing an oncoming Chrysler. Several horns blew angrily and something crashed in their trunk – probably one of the bottles of milk Johann had insisted they buy. But Vanessa didn’t care, the action had calmed her nerves a bit.

“What?” Hirschel asked as the sudden movement and noise woke him up. “Are we there yet?”

“No,” Johann replied, caressing his elbow which he’d hurt during the maneuver. “We still have about 400 miles to cover.”

“Hm,” Hirschel murmured. “I haven’t done so much traveling since the Crusades,” he added and yawned tiredly.

Vanessa and Johann looked at each other. Neither of them really knew how long Hirschel had been in the headquarters but it couldn’t have been since the Crusades, could it? America hadn’t even been settled by Europeans at that time.

Vanessa blinked. Thinking about the headquarters she realized how much she actually missed her comrades. With them by their side they would stand a chance in this war. They had been soldiers trained to fight the supernatural. And because of some fucking mole agent, they were all dead now. Except for her. And wasn’t it ironic? If anyone deserved to die, it was her. And yet here she was, trying to save the world and on the run from the rest of the Knights Templar who, according to Lucifer, had no idea what was going on. “I miss the headquarters,” she said. “And the people. We could use their help.”

Johann nodded. “I miss my books. I bet there was something about the Riders in one of them. I miss the people too, of course,” he added quickly to assure Vanessa he was crushed by their deaths as well.

“I miss my artifacts,” Hirschel whispered from the back seat.

“Not the people?” Vanessa asked, poking gentle fun at him since she knew very well the ancient man didn’t tend to attach himself to others.

Hirschel shrugged. “People come and go. The artifacts stay.”

“Not anymore,” Vanessa sighed.

*******

A diner near the Oregon border

Trixie was contentedly chewing her fifth pancake with strawberry syrup and a touch of cream on it, while Chloe was guiltily remembering Vanessa’s words about ‘fancy organic shit’ food. Did she feed her daughter properly (today excluded)? Lately she had been eating Maze’s breakfasts because of her mother’s moping over Lucifer… definitely not good! How could she just leave her daughter to Maze’s creations because of some silly lovesickness? What a horrible mother and a pathetic person she was! At least she got lunches at school – they must feed them something healthy, right? And then dinner at home. Well, she could cook more.

“All done?” Dan asked with a smile as Trixie pushed the rest of the pancakes in his direction and licked her fingers, nodding solemnly.

“Just the five?” Dan continued, the gentle smile still playing around his lips. “Are you sure? Once I got ’em, I’m not giving ’em back.”

“Sure!” Trixie said and slurped her juice, bouncing happily on the chair.

Definitely too much sugar, Chloe thought. But hey, today was the day they’d learned the Apocalypse had started, so it was okay to live a little, right? She had finally managed to tell Trixie about the Apocalypse - well, to tell her something - but the girl seemed pretty unconcerned about it all. Maybe she thought it was some kind of a fairytale? Featuring God and the Devil? Confident that they would save the world like the good guys in those tales always did? Why, for God’s sake, did people teach their children such nonsense?

“Great, second dinner for me,” Dan said and got stuck into the rest of the pancakes. Chloe didn’t understand how he could still be so full of energy. The day had been so exhausting and it wasn’t over yet. They still had 200 miles to go before they got to the cabin.

Trixie looked outside longingly. The two swings in front of the diner had been calling to her from the moment they had stopped here.

“Can I? Mommy, please!” she pleaded, making sad eyes.

“Your dad’s still eating, Monkey.”

Dan waved his hand. “Just go. I can finish this on my own,” he said, winking at Trixie. She didn’t wait for Chloe’s permission and dashed outside. Chloe hurried after her; it was the end of the day, the last rays of the sun touching this part of the Earth, and although it seemed the riots were over and the world was – more-or-less - peaceful again, she wasn’t going to take any unnecessary risks.

Trixie hopped onto the swing and Chloe walked around to give her a push. It was something they hadn’t done in some time, since Trixie didn’t wish to be seen with her mother anymore; she was afraid her friends wouldn’t approve. But it felt so natural. And so good.

Chloe squinted against the setting sun, drinking in the beauty of nature surrounding her. They were almost in Oregon now and it was as different from California as it could be. Where California looked dry and hot, this place was cold and damp with all the mountains towering around. The beautiful crimson sky above the dark forest gave Chloe a sense of peace and hope. There was an almost eerie quietness about the place; just undisturbed nature with the only sounds coming from the diner and the wind playing lazily in the high trees.

“I wish I could have wings like Lucifer,” Trixie whispered suddenly.

Chloe smiled, remembering how magnificent the angel had looked. Another beauty in this world, although very definitely not ‘of’ it. “Me too,” Chloe whispered, reluctant to disturb the tranquility.

“How come he has wings when he’s the Devil?”

“Well, because the Devil is an angel and angels have wings. Although Lucifer didn’t have his for a few years,” Chloe explained. A thought occurred to her. “You don’t have to be afraid of him.”

Trixie turned her head to look at her mother. “Why would I be afraid of him?”

“Well,” Chloe thought about the answer, remembering the description Maze had provided, “he can look scary if he wishes to. His eyes can turn red and -”

“I know,” Trixie answered.

“You do?”

“Hm. I saw him after he came back from dying.”

“What?” Chloe gasped. “When was that?”

“When the bad policeman shot him.”

Chloe blinked. She hadn’t known Trixie had been close enough to see it all. “You saw Lucifer die?”

“Yes.”

Her poor daughter! Oh, she was a horrible mother to put her through shit like this! And how was it possible that Lucifer had died and come back again? Can angels do that? And can angels die? Aren’t they supposed to be immortal?

“I wanted to help him,” Trixie whispered, “but I didn’t know what to do.”

“Oh, Monkey,” Chloe breathed and stopped the swing. She walked around to face her daughter and lay her hands on her small shoulders, kneeling in front of her. “You did nothing wrong. You couldn’t have helped him in any way.”

“I asked God to help him,” Trixie said in a small voice.

“You did?”

Trixie nodded. “Lucifer asked his Dad to help you and promised to be a good son in return. But then he died. So I asked God to help Lucifer and promised I’d be a good daughter too.”

Chloe blinked rapidly to prevent the tears that had filled her eyes from falling, and tried to understand what Trixie was telling her.

“And it worked. So I’m trying to be really good now but sometimes I guess I’m not. Do you think God will be angry with me?”

“Of course not!” Chloe sobbed, pulling her daughter close. “Oh, my little Monkey. You are so good! You’re the best daughter I could have ever wished for! And I love you so much!”

Trixie’s arms sneaked round Chloe’s neck and she buried her face in her mother’s shoulder. “I love you too, Mommy.”

“Hey,” Dan called as he came out of the diner. “Everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Chloe breathed as she withdrew from the hug and wiped the tears away. “Everything’s fine,” she said and took Trixie’s hand.

Dan nodded, not believing a word. “Let’s get going. It’s almost dark and we still have a few hundred miles to go.”

Chapter Text

Near Bend, Oregon

Chloe, Dan and Trixie were the last to arrive at the cabin, finding themselves at the very end of the road, in deep forest next to a rather large lake. It was the wee small hours and dawn was still a long way off - Trixie was fast asleep on the back seat.

It was the first time that Chloe was glad for Lucifer’s tendency towards exaggeration. When he had said ‘cabin’ she had imagined a shack with a latrine and a creek for a bathroom. But this was a two-storey house, thank you very much.

Dan stopped the car and Chloe got out slowly, her muscles screaming in protest and wanting nothing but rest. Even nature was asleep at this hour, disturbed only by the occasional call of a bird or howl of a nocturnal animal. Chloe noticed a single person sitting on the porch, a lit cigarette in his mouth.

“Finally, Detective. I was getting worried that you had changed your mind about saving the world and headed to Disneyland instead.”

“You didn’t have to wait for us,” Chloe said, though she was glad he had.

Lucifer shrugged. “Someone has to show you to your rooms. And everyone else is already asleep. Humans get exhausted so easily,” he added as he watched Dan pick up his sleeping child.

“Where are we sleeping?” Dan whispered.

Lucifer glanced at Chloe for a brief moment and then smiled. “Well, there are six bedrooms on the second floor, everyone with a double bed - you can imagine what the house was used for. And since there’s twelve of us, plus one undeveloped human,” he pointed at Trixie, “we have to share. You, Daniel, are sleeping with my Dad. Just follow the snoring and you’ll find the right room.”

Dan paled. “I’m sharing a room with… God?”

Lucifer nodded, a small smile playing around his lips at Dan’s discomfort.

“Who are you staying with?” Dan asked him accusingly, glancing at Chloe.

Lucifer scowled. “My brother, unfortunately. Detective and the Offspring are with Maze – first door on the left. She insisted,” Lucifer added with a shrug.

Chloe nodded, for some unfathomable reason feeling disappointed that Lucifer hadn’t asked her to share a room with him. Not that she would. She didn’t want to hear any more theories about her being pregnant. “I’ll put Trixie in bed then unpack the food supplies.”

“I’ll do that,” Lucifer volunteered. “I mean the supplies – not the child! You get some rest. You both look like you came via Hell. And I know what I’m talking about.”

“You’d do that?” Dan asked, surprised Lucifer had offered.

“What can I say?” Lucifer drawled, “I’m an altruist.”

Chloe snorted and rolled her eyes but thanked him sincerely. She took their bags from the car and the three of them went into the house.

Lucifer sighed. He so didn’t want to unpack a full trunk’s worth of canned food. But given the state Chloe was in, there was really no choice. She looked exhausted, like she was asleep on her feet. And he couldn't fall asleep anyway. The magnitude of what was happening was finally catching up with his brain and preventing him from getting any rest, the demons’ words from the Vatican still ringing in his ears...

There’s a new ruler in Hell. It’s the most powerful creature in Hell and on Earth. Even more powerful than you.

He knew it was mostly up to him to save the day – to save all of them, but how he was supposed to do that he had no idea.

*******

Chloe woke up from the deepest sleep she’d had in a very long time. It seemed almost absurd to be able to sleep like a log with all the crazy things going on lately. She blinked to chase away the last of the sleep and looked around the small bedroom. There was just the double bed, one wardrobe and two bedside tables and that was it. Everything was made of wood and suited the rustic yellow wallpaper with tiny pink flowers. The clock on one of the bedside tables showed 1:13 pm… she’d slept through half the day!

She swung her feet off the bed and found clothes scattered all around the floor; both Trixie’s and Maze’s. And speaking of those little devils she realized that they were both already up and gone.

Chloe walked to the room’s solitary small window and looked out. “Oh, my...” she breathed, seeing the beautiful landscape. She could see the lake glittering in the midday sun, surrounded by dark forests, and behind it all a couple of rocky mountains soared into the sky.

And the quietness of it all… just undisturbed nature and nothing more... until a sudden crash shook the house. And soon afterwards a very distinctive voice roared “Bloody hell!”

Chloe smiled. “It must be Tuesday,” she whispered, and after she put on some clothes she walked into the hallway. Besides the six bedrooms on this floor there were two bathrooms, one at each end, as she had discovered last night. The door of one of the bathrooms opened and a fuming, disheveled, and wet Devil walked out. Luckily he had three towels wrapped around him; one around his hips, one over his shoulders and one around his head.

Lucifer stopped when he noticed her and smiled dazzlingly. “Detective? Hope I didn’t wake you up?”

Chloe returned the smile. “No, no. I just got up and was about to take a shower.”

Lucifer nodded. “Well, if you need some help, just let me know,” he purred, wiggling his eyebrows.

Definitely Tuesday, Chloe thought. “Really?” she said aloud, batting her eyelids, feigning interest. Or was she?

Lucifer’s smile faltered a bit. “Ah – I’m not swallowing the bait, Detective. Know very well you won’t do something as delightfully sinful as a bit of afternoon delight in the shower. Might as well be going now.”

Chloe opened her mouth to protest – she liked shower sex (at least she thought so) – but Lucifer cut her off. “See you later then.” He turned and disappeared into one of the bedrooms.

What the Hell was that? Chloe thought, standing dumbfounded in the hallway and trying to understand what had just happened. Wasn’t she supposed to turn him down? It almost looked like he’d changed his mind in the middle of the flirtation and decided to play it safe. And why had he done that? The Lucifer she knew would never miss an opportunity to have sex.

Dazed by the development, she entered the tiny bathroom Lucifer had vacated and stopped short as she spotted several cracked tiles and a small white feather stuck in the hinges of the shower doors. “What were you doing in here?” Chloe muttered as she wondered whether angels actually had to wash their wings.

 

After a very cold, very short shower Chloe went downstairs. A cabin indeed! She knew there was a huge room downstairs but she’d had no energy last night to explore it. It was a spacious room with two huge windows on one side and a glass wall on the opposite one, which led to a veranda. There was a fireplace by the stairway, a kitchen corner that was twice as big as the one in her apartment, a wide wooden table with chairs, three couches and several armchairs.

And the room was full of people. She hadn’t realized how many people would be here until now. No-one noticed her as everyone was more-or-less occupied by something. Linda, Johann and Charlotte were arguing about something at the cooker, steam rising from several pots – were they trying to make lunch? Hirschel sat in an armchair, not moving at all, his watery blue eyes staring at nothing. Chloe shuddered - that man gave her the creeps! Vanessa was cleaning a huge whiteboard hung just next to the fireplace; it was covered with something that looked like records of bets. God was sprawled on one of the couches, a fashion magazine in hand, grinning at Amenadiel who was rearranging the furniture to make more space, including the couch his Dad was currently occupying, to His obvious amusement.

Chloe couldn’t decide whether she liked the man – God – or not. He seemed sincere enough but from what Trixie had said last night about the night Malcolm almost killed her, Lucifer must have offered something in exchange to get help from Him. What kind of parent demands payment for helping their child? Maze had also hinted that He hadn’t cared for Lucifer until – well, He needed his help to stop the Apocalypse. And now here He was, smiling over a stupid magazine, doing nothing while everyone else seemed to be occupied somehow. No, she didn’t like Him at all...

Chloe looked away, turning her attention to the wall opposite her. There were two doors; the one on the left Chloe knew led to the hall and then outside. The other was a mystery though so she decided to investigate. It was ajar, and when she peeked in she spotted Dan and Ella crouched on the floor trying to plug the new computers in.

“Man,” Ella exclaimed, “thank God they make these ends in different shapes!”

“And colors,” Dan added as he reached for the wire from the speakers.

“Oh, hi, Chloe!” Ella smiled broadly when she spotted her. Chloe smiled back tightly; seeing the mess of wires and computer equipment she thought they might have chosen the wrong person to be their geek. She turned and headed to the veranda next, noticing Maze standing there shouting at someone. Chloe knew without looking that it was Trixie.

“I’m not going down there! And you shouldn’t either. You know your mom doesn’t want you going to dangerous places!”

“But it’s just a lake, Maze!” Trixie complained. As Chloe walked outside - man, it was cold - Trixie’s sad face came into view.

“Mom!” Trixie exclaimed. “May I go to the lake? Please?!”

“Sure,” Chloe said. “Just be careful!”

Trixie squealed and ran down the slope.

“Really, Decker?” Maze asked in amazement, glaring. “You won’t let me teach her to use knives but you let her go down there on her own?”

Chloe glanced at the lake. There was a great view from the shore Trixie was currently running along and the lake looked peaceful enough.

“She’s eight, Maze, not two.”

Maze shook her head, not understanding. “Don’t you smell it though?”

“What?” Chloe started, suddenly afraid she had missed something.

“I noticed it yesterday but now it’s even worse. It’s so… penetrating! Never smelled it before.”

Chloe took a deep breath. Pines, spruces, moss, grass, mushrooms, water… “Ah,” understanding dawned, “it’s called fresh air, Maze.”

“So you feel it too!”

Chloe nodded, trying not to laugh.

“Is it safe?”

“Yes. To my knowledge no-one’s ever gotten hurt by breathing fresh air.”

Maze sniffed and grimaced. “It’s awful! We should get some down to Hell to add to our repertoire of torments for the especially deserving.”

“Hm,” Chloe nodded, not even trying to explain that damned souls would probably be happy to breathe it, and decided to join her daughter and explore the surroundings a bit.

 

Lucifer put on a nice suit and walked downstairs and then out on the deserted porch, leaving the overcrowded house behind.

He was cranky. His wings itched horribly. Although normally they were dirt and dust proof, the supernaturally annoying ash of those dead demons had gotten under the feathers and persisted in tormenting him. He had tried to wash them in the shower earlier but the room was so hopelessly small that the only thing he had managed was to break some of the pink tiles and stick one of his wings in the shower door. He had to yank hard to get it unstuck. And not to mention that they were out of hot water. And out of firewood to get the boiler in the cellar going again.

He sighed. This was worse than Hell. Or Heaven...

Anyway, he’d have to get rid of the wings once this Apocalypse business was over. Just some other way than by Maze’s knives. No, he didn’t fancy repeating that experience. Maybe he would ask his Father to do it without pain. He would be in his debt after all. And then he would ask Him to be so kind as to stop forcing Chloe to have feelings towards him. It was so unfair to her...

He groaned. Oh, hell. Chloe! What had he been thinking flirting with her? What if she had agreed to join him in the shower? What would he have done then? But surely she wouldn’t do that now that she knew what he really was… she was too smart for that, right? She was stronger than the false feelings his Father had installed in her. But still, he should have refrained from flirting. Why had he done it in the first place? Had he hoped that if he behaved like before their dating disaster that everything would return to normal? If that was the case then he was an idiot. They were past innocent flirtation now that they’d become good friends. Yeah, that’s what they were. And Lucifer should be careful to keep it that way. If he was smart enough about it all, he could keep Chloe from finding out about his Father’s manipulation. He could spare her the pain and the humiliation.

“Lucifer.”

Lucifer turned, hearing Dan calling his name. The man had a huge satellite internet dish in his hands. “Yes?”

“We need to attach this to the roof.”

Lucifer blinked. “And you’re telling me this because…?”

“Oh, come on, man,” Dan growled, “you know why.”

“Because you’re too lazy to fetch a ladder?” Lucifer teased.

“Because it’d be safer for you to just fly up there.”

“You mean because you’re afraid of heights,” Lucifer pointed out, remembering how Dan had clung to him when he’d carried him in his arms. “You know, you don’t have to be ashamed of that, Daniel. We all have our shortcomings. Except me, of course.”

Dan shook his head in annoyance, knowing full well Lucifer was just being tiresome.

Lucifer got an idea that made him smile. “You know what? I’ll do it if you do something for me in return.”

“What?” Dan asked cautiously.

“The shower I had today was incredibly cold. So why don’t you chop the logs stored in the shed over there and we’ll call it even?”

Dan glanced behind Lucifer at the small shed, remembering it was full of wood. It would take him forever to chop it... But he wouldn’t have to do it all right now, would he? And besides, it could help him to stay fit. “OK.”

“Great. Then we have a deal!” Lucifer took the satellite dish from him with all the screws, mountings and tools (some of which he’d never seen before), and a manual and spread his wings. When he noticed Dan staring he decided to remind him of his end of the bargain. “I’d love to have a hot shower this evening, Daniel. So no procrastinating. Get to work. Chop-chop!”

He didn’t wait for Dan to shake his head at him and flew up to the roof. Oh, there was a nice view of the lake up there. He spotted Chloe, Trixie and Maze walking around the silver lake, the child picking up something from the ground from time to time. He turned to the east, knowing Bend was situated some ten miles that way but he couldn’t see it. Even on the roof of the house he was still below the tops of the surrounding trees.

He looked at the manual. It seemed quite technical, the pictures complex with a lot of instructions. “Bloody hell! Why couldn’t they have bought it at Ikea?” he growled but got to work, hoping he wouldn’t break anything.

 

Vanessa felt like Alice in Wonderland. This was all beyond crazy. She hoped Lucifer would start to direct people, to organize them so they could actually make something like a battle plan. But instead he took a satellite dish and flew onto the roof to install it. An angel installing a satellite dish! Yes, definitely Wonderland. So now she was waiting for him to finish and return to the ground.

“We’re in!” Ella squealed exuberantly, congratulating herself. For what, Vanessa had no idea; even she could manage to get the internet going. At least Lucifer could put his energy into planning now, she thought… but it soon became apparent that that wasn’t the case. Lucifer had barely come from the roof when his mother pushed what looked like a plate full of cheese in front of him. She was almost sure there was some pasta hidden underneath. She had seen Linda cook some.

Charlotte smiled at her son pleasantly but Lucifer only frowned. “Several months on Earth and this is the only meal you’ve learned how to cook?”

Charlotte shrugged. “Well, I did it wrong last time. I hope you will like this one, Son.”

Lucifer grabbed the plate with a scowl and walked back on the porch. Vanessa sighed. He clearly resented his mother a lot. What had she done to him? Not that Vanessa cared, she just needed them to work together. Was that asking too much?

She got her plate and ate what she was served. It wasn’t a good meal by any means but she’d had worse. She watched the little girl – Trixie – wrinkle her nose over it though.

A child! They had a child on their mission to save the world. They’d actually had to lock all the weapons inside the cellar to ensure the child didn’t get to them. There were very useful there, indeed! If there was a sudden attack, they would have to fight back barehanded. Well, except for her, she kept her machete close. Let the mother grumble about it as much as she liked.

Lunch eaten, Vanessa still waited for Lucifer to begin but he just sat on the couch and grabbed a magazine. She noticed Johann looking at her pointedly and shook her head. No, she wouldn’t say anything, she wouldn’t!

“Lucifer.”

He lifted his eyes to her. “Yes, darling?”

“Don’t you think it’s time to start doing something?”

“Well, I’m reading a magazine. It seems that peach echo and lilac grey were all the rage a year ago. And while reading, I’m waiting for the Douche to finish chopping firewood so I can take a proper shower.”

Vanessa clenched her fists. “You’ve already had a shower today.”

“A very cold one! I still need to… wash things,” he said petulantly.

“You can wash things later,” Vanessa hissed, “let’s get to saving the world.”

Lucifer heaved a sigh. “How? We need to find the Rider first. That’s Miss Lopez’s job, I believe.”

“No!” Vanessa yelled. “We need a plan first. We need to analyze the situation and talk about our options.”

“We do?” Lucifer asked, not believing they actually had any options.

“Yes,” Chloe said, agreeing with Vanessa, “that’s a good idea.” She walked to the white board and made three columns, naming each one. First was ‘we have’, second ‘we know’ and the last ‘we can do’.

“Good work,” Vanessa said, eyeing the board. “We can use it for a brainstorm.”

“A brainstorm?!” Charlotte yelled suddenly, looking mildly panicked and staring up at the sky outside. It was clear and blue. “It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a storm… Thanks ex-husband. We don’t want brains polluting this pretty landscape. And where do the brains come from? Whose are they?”

There was a poignant silence as everyone pondered whether she was joking or not. It was Linda who first realized that the Goddess was being serious and decided to explain. “A brainstorm is a method of coming up with new ideas. It’s based on the participants saying whatever comes into their minds on the given topic.”

“Don’t people say whatever they think all the time?” Charlotte asked.

“No,” Linda shook her head. “They usually filter their thoughts to look better and make themselves be more accepted by others.”

“So,” Charlotte drawled, thinking about it, “during a brainstorm you can actually say whatever stupidity you want and other people won’t think you an idiot?”

“Exactly,” Linda agreed.

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “Let’s get started. Everyone have a seat. Decker, you write it down.”

Chloe raised her eyebrows at her but didn’t protest. She just turned to Trixie first. “Baby, why don’t you go outside to help your dad?” Surely it was safer for a child to be nearer an axe than a discussion about the end of the world?

Trixie sighed but did as she was told.

“What a woman,” God whispered as He sat down next to Lucifer, to his great displeasure.

“Yes, Vanessa is quite capable,” he replied without hesitation.

“No, I meant Miss Decker,” God whispered.

“Really?” Lucifer asked, not understanding why He would say so right now. Not that it wasn’t true though. He glanced at the detective to find her looking at him with a crestfallen expression that hadn’t been there just a moment ago. She must have heard them. Lucifer frowned at God. “Now look what you’ve done,” he growled through clenched teeth.

“What?” God asked, looking between Lucifer and Chloe in confusion while Amenadiel sat next to Him.

Chloe took a deep breath. So… Lucifer really had moved on... to Vanessa. Just like she had suspected. Yeah, she was something, wasn’t she? And was she really jealous? No! But damn it, he could grow some balls and tell her straight that they were over. He owed her that much. And he still owed her an explanation as to why he had left her.

“OK, let’s begin,” Vanessa said as everyone except her and Chloe found a place to sit. “What do we have?” she pointed at the first column on the board.

There was a silence as everyone thought about the answer.

“Well, we have me. I’m obviously a great asset,” Lucifer drawled with a cocky smile, hoping to make Chloe snort or roll her eyes at least. This sad face, he didn’t like. But her expression didn’t change.

“Hm, great asset,” Chloe repeated and wrote ‘Lucifer - great ass.’ on the top of the board. A few people snickered while Lucifer smiled broadly.

“Why, thank you, Detective. I had no idea you thought so highly of my derriere.”

“Sure. I love it so much I want to kick it sometime in the very near future.”

“Ooh, kinky. Looks like I’m having a very good influence on you, Detective.”

“Yeah,” Chloe sighed, “I’ve managed to pick up some of your better qualities.”

“Jeez, guys,” Ella rolled her eyes, “there are six rooms upstairs. Pick one!”

“Not mine!” Amenadiel cried.

“There will be no rooms,” Chloe said firmly but still glanced at Lucifer, curious at his reaction. He had been behaving so strangely – flirting with her but not really wanting her. Was he trying to show her she was as unimportant as every other skirt to him?

Lucifer’s smile turned grim. “Well, you heard the detective! No room for fun, just work. Shocking!”

“The Spear,” Johann said, ending the awkward moment.

Chloe turned to the board again and wrote ‘spear’ under the ‘Lucifer - great ass’ line. While Chloe’s back was turned God leaned over to Lucifer to whisper, “If you need any protection, just let me know. I managed to buy some at the last gas station.”

Lucifer turned to Him in horror. “Why on Earth would you do that?”

“I thought they would come in handy,” God looked around the room. “With so many people here and all the tension...”

Lucifer couldn’t believe his ears. Not only was his Father apparently still trying to hook him up with the detective (even though He supposedly didn’t remember anything), He was also planning to pair others? Lucifer wouldn’t put it past Him to sabotage the condoms just to ensure procreation even during the Apocalypse. Or was it just a business opportunity for Him? To sell the condoms at double the price He had bought them for?

“God?” Chloe called and the old man straightened as quickly as a pupil caught at mischief.

“Yes?”

“Do you have something to share with us?”

God blinked, squinting at the board briefly but it was too far for Him to read it without glasses. “Condoms?” He offered since everyone awaited an answer.

“Bloody hell,” Lucifer murmured and hid his eyes behind his hand.

“How could condoms help us defeat the Rider?” Ella asked.

God opened His mouth to reply but Lucifer stopped Him. “Don’t answer that! You know you have the right to remain silent and I strongly recommend you exercise it right now!”

Chloe giggled before she managed to swallow the rest of the laugh and turn it into a cough. So it seemed Lucifer had learned something after all during their work together... His eyes snapped to hers at the sound and she saw in them the familiar pleasure of making her smile. Oh, she had missed that look so much, without even realizing it. But the moment soon passed; as Lucifer’s eyes sobered and he waved at the board. “Weapons forged in Hell. They won’t kill the Rider but they can kill the demons.”

Chloe nodded and turned back to write it down.

“Human made weapons,” Maze added and Chloe added it.

Silence descended. Then Lucifer spoke again. “Azrael’s blade.”

“What’s that?” Chloe asked.

“It’s a dirk able to destroy anything - mortal and immortal alike - completely. No Heaven or Hell, just oblivion.”

“You have it?” she asked.

“Yes. But it’s hidden as it can do a lot of harm in the wrong hands,” Lucifer explained, looking pointedly at Charlotte. He hoped no-one would think of looking for it under the mattress in his room upstairs.

“So we can use it to kill the Rider?!” Ella exclaimed.

“No,” Amenadiel answered. “The Rider isn’t a living thing. The blade can kill only the living – their souls to be precise.”

“But what if,” Johann thought aloud, “what if we kill the person the Rider is possessing right now? Won’t it die too along with the soul?” Everyone looked at him, making Johann squirm a bit. He nervously pushed his glasses up his nose; he hated attention.

“Johann,” Vanessa started but didn’t finish, hope blossoming inside her. She looked at Lucifer. “Will it work?”

Lucifer shrugged. He had never tried that before, had he? But it sounded promising. “I suppose...”

Chloe turned to the board and wrote ‘kill the possessed person with Azrael’s blade’ to the third column - ‘we can do’.

“You shouldn’t try that,” Charlotte said suddenly and everyone turned to her.

“And why not, Mum?” Lucifer asked with irritation.

“Because no-one knows what happens when a Rider stops existing. Not even your Father. That’s why He locked them in Hell instead of wiping them out of existence. And trust me that He really wanted to.”

“Whatever do you mean?” Lucifer yelled. “Are you just making this up because you actually want the Riders to kill everyone?”

“Of course not,” Charlotte gasped with indignation. “Not that I love humanity but the Riders probably won’t stop with them.”

Ella raised her hand. “I don’t get it. Why would God want the Riders dead if He planned to use them to… you know… carry out the Apocalypse? I mean didn’t He create them for that purpose?”

Charlotte scoffed. “God never planned the Apocalypse. And He certainly didn’t create the Riders on purpose.”

“What?” several people asked at the same time.

“Just like almost everything else, the Riders were created after the, well,” Charlotte smiled, “our Big Bang. They weren’t planned. They just happened to come into existence along with souls, matter, time and space. But unlike everything else they refused to coexist with the rest of Creation. They… devoured anything they could. And they found souls especially tasty.”

“But why?” Vanessa asked.

“Because it made them stronger? Because they were hungry? We don’t really know,” Charlotte admitted. “My ex-husband thought that they brought some kind of balance to Creation. Like one couldn’t exist without the other.”

“Oh my God!” Ella yelled. “You mean like antimatter? You know, scientists have this theory that during the Big Bang the precise same amounts of matter and antimatter was created. The problem is there is no antimatter in the universe to be found. Do you think it’s because the Riders are the antimatter?”

Charlotte looked at the petite woman strangely. “I don’t understand a word you’re saying. Are you having that brainstorm?”

Ella shook her head, not sure how to answer.

“The thing is,” Charlotte continued, ignoring Ella, “that we don’t know what happens if a Rider is wiped out of existence. There is a possibility that a quarter of all Creation would implode along with it.”

“Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled and stood up, heading to the kitchen corner to pour himself a whiskey from his stash there.

“And I guess we don’t know which part of Creation it would be,” Chloe added. Charlotte just shrugged.

“OK,” Chloe sighed, “no wiping out the Rider. But God must have had a plan when He came to Earth.”

“Of course He did, Detective. He always has a plan,” Lucifer growled.

Chloe nodded. “So maybe if we just managed to find out what that plan was, we could put it into motion ourselves.”

“Good thinking,” Lucifer agreed, “but the problem is that He won’t share,” Lucifer pointed at his Dad.

“Not from lack of trying, Son,” God complained.

“Oh, really? You’ve tried hypnosis only once, haven’t you?”

“There wasn’t exactly time for more, Luci,” Amenadiel reminded.

God nodded. “Yes. We can try again,” He looked at Linda who nodded reluctantly.

“Or,” Chloe stepped in, “we could use the traditional method.”

“What traditional method?” Vanessa asked.

“Torture?” Maze guessed.

Chloe rolled her eyes. “Deduction. You see, there’s one thing that has been bothering me. Why did God send a message to Lucifer using the Commandments Tablets?”

Vanessa was pretty sure she knew the answer. “So we would believe it was really Him.”

“Yes, but He asked specifically for Lucifer, didn’t He? So why include the Templars at all? He could easily have convinced Lucifer that it was Him. He could have just sent him an email or something,” Chloe countered.

“Are you saying,” Johann said slowly, “that God needed the Templars?”

That made Lucifer snort.

“Or something in the possession of the Templars,” Chloe added.

“The Spear,” Lucifer concluded, looking at Chloe with admiration. It hadn’t occurred to him that Father had targeted the Templars on purpose. He had thought it was just His typical inscrutable way of doing things. Like always. But these weren’t normal circumstances. He would have chosen the easiest method to get what He needed rather than manipulating people and events around Him. Meaning, He really needed something from the Templars.

“You think the Spear can kill the Rider?” Maze asked.

Lucifer shrugged.

“But haven’t we just decided that killing that thing is not an option?” Ella protested.

“Maybe it can do something else,” Vanessa offered. “Like capture it?” She looked at Lucifer questioningly.

“I’ve never seen the Spear before. It was certainly the most interesting object in that vault of yours but I don’t know what it is. I can’t even read the markings on it.”

“The Spear of Destiny,” Hirschel rasped, making several people jump in surprise. Everyone had thought he was still asleep with the plate of untouched meal in front of him Johann had placed there.

“Here we go again,” Lucifer sighed. “Why on Earth would you think it’s that?”

“After Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus with the Spear, it made its way over the centuries into the possession of the Holy Roman Emperors. One of them, Sigismund of Luxemburg, was a secret member of the Knights Templar order. He retrieved the Spear with other relics in 1424 from Prague and, while pretending to moving them to Nuremberg, he replaced the artifacts with fake ones and brought the real ones to the Templars.”

Lucifer blinked. “Well, thank you for that history lesson, but that still doesn’t mean it’s the spear that pierced Jesus on the cross!” he yelled, exasperated. “Why would Father have even given it to that Roman? He could have used an ordinary blade to test whether that clueless, obedient idealist on the cross was dead or not. It simply makes no sense. It’s obviously older than us given the mysterious markings on it no-one can read!” He stopped and glanced at his mother. Charlotte lifted an eyebrow.

“Actually… I might be able to. If I try very hard.”

“Bloody hell, Mum! You know what it is?”

“Not exactly. But I think I’ve seen the writing before. A very long time ago, before you were born. I can try to translate it. But I very much doubt it will help. Nothing can hold a Rider. Well, except for the cells in the Pit, of course.”

“Mother,” Amenadiel stopped her, “there must be something else that can contain the Riders. How did Father manage to get them in the Pit in the first place?”

Charlotte scoffed. “He made a deal with them.”

“What?!” Lucifer yelled. “Why? And what deal?”

Charlotte took a deep breath, remembering an old heartache. “Alright. I think it’s time you know the truth. The Riders weren’t a problem at first. They ate a soul here and there and we let them. We were safe in the Silver City. But they got greedy and ate more and more, growing stronger with every soul they devoured and one day they even came to the Gate of Heaven, finding our first born daughter playing there.”

“Azrael?” Amenadiel supplied.

“No,” Charlotte shook her head. “Not Azrael.”

Lucifer’s eyes widened with the implication.

“It possessed her and ate our little baby alive. We tried to stop it but couldn’t. So we knew we had to do something about the Riders to protect our other children. We built the Pit and the four cells for them. We tried to capture them but we couldn’t overpower them. United, they were too strong. The war was long and exhausting for both sides. Then God came up with the idea to make a deal with them. They would let themselves be locked up for millennia and after a set time had passed, we would release them and Earth and Hell would be theirs for eternity. They agreed. My husband hoped that when they devoured everything, the balance would be disrupted and they would cause a new Big Bang.”

Lucifer couldn’t even move. It didn’t happen often but right now he had no idea what to say. He’d had a sister he’d never known and no-one had told him about and the Apocalypse wasn’t something his Father had come up with just out of boredom. It was a necessity. Part of a desperate bargain to protect His children and humanity. For a while, at least.

“We installed a special safeguard in Heaven,” Charlotte continued. “Heaven’s Gate would seal with a special lock when the Riders were released, and it couldn’t be opened as long as they were out of their cells.”

“Well, it looks like the seal works perfectly,” Lucifer drawled, taking a sip from his drink and thinking about all the homeless souls he’d seen wandering about the earth.

“I think I’ve got it!” Ella yelled suddenly.

“What?” Lucifer asked.

“How to stop the Apocalypse! We just explain to the Rider that it was all a big mistake. That it’s not time yet. I mean they struck a deal with the Big Guy so they should honor it, right?!” Ella looked around the circle of skeptical faces.

“It’s the worst plan I’ve ever heard,” Lucifer pointed out. “But I guess we have nothing to lose,” he added. “You just find out where the Rider is and I will have a chat with it.”

“No way!” God protested. “Didn’t you hear what your mother just said? That thing ate our daughter! What if it decides to… to… fly inside you and eat you as well?!”

Amenadiel rolled his eyes. “Actually, the Rider can’t just fly inside anyone. As long as the souls have a body or are behind Heaven’s Gate or in a chamber in Hell, they’re safe.”

“Angela Wibly and Mr. Dunlap would probably disagree,” Chloe pointed out.

“Well,” Lucifer began, “Wibly’s body was rather worse for wear and I imagine the Rider roughed up Mr. Dunlap a bit before it took up residence. As long as the body’s sound – just like mine,” Lucifer pointed at himself with a smile, “the Rider can’t get in. Never realized how important a healthy lifestyle is, have you?”

Linda looked a little panicked. “We should probably change the canned food for something else.”

“Besides,” Lucifer continued, “to possess me it would have to get quite near. So I think I’ll be fine since – you know – I can actually teleport away whenever I want.”

God frowned, not believing it. “It consumed Azrael.”

For that Lucifer had no answer. He had no idea how it could have gotten inside her, an angel at full strength. Unless she was hurt somehow? “Well, she probably didn’t know what was coming. I do!”

God groaned disapprovingly.

“Any other objections?” Lucifer asked, looking around. “Good. Then it’s settled. After Miss Lopez finds the Rider, I will pay it a visit.”

*******

Chloe spent the rest of the day walking the paths in the forest and around the lake. There was too much information to process, too many things to think about as well as her growing fears to deal with. Fear for Trixie, Lucifer, her friends… When she returned to the house, it was already dark. It looked like everyone was asleep, probably still exhausted from all the driving the previous night.

She sneaked silently into her bedroom and was about to join Maze and Trixie on the bed when she noticed a light coming through the window. She came nearer and looked outside. She gasped at the glow coming from the shore of the lake, the source being a very distinctive pair of wings. What is Lucifer doing down there? Advertising? Chloe thought with irritation. Didn’t he know that his wings lit up like a Christmas tree and could probably be seen for miles? Well, if he was looking for attention, he succeeded.

Chloe walked outside, into the freezing, clear night that was almost as bright as in L.A. thanks to millions of stars and the full moon, which reflected on the lake like on a mirror. She strode purposefully down to the lake but stopped short at the sight of Lucifer. He wasn’t parading at the shore as she’d originally thought. He was standing in the lake, stark naked, his pale buttocks just inches above the surface, the glowing wings spread and touching the water, one of them bent so that Lucifer could… groom it?

Chloe blinked. Was he actually bathing his wings? Oh… and she’d just intruded on his privacy. Maybe she could turn and walk away quietly without him even noticing she was there. Just one more look, or two and then -

“Detective!” Lucifer turned suddenly, making her gasp in embarrassment. The view of his buttocks was replaced by a view of, well… at least this time he wasn’t ‘ready’. Even so, she put her palm up so she didn’t see his groin and tried to keep her eyes on his face. Lucifer frowned, glanced down at himself and then back at her.

“Sorry you’ve found me in this condition, darling, but it’s bloody freezing here.”

“What…? Oh! No! I didn’t mean to… look,” Chloe stammered in a quavering voice, blushing furiously.

“Ah, so you haven’t come to admire the view?” Lucifer teased, yet groaned inwardly. Why couldn’t he stop flirting with her?

Chloe noticed several towels hung on a branch and took one, holding it out to Lucifer. “I saw the light from my room. I didn’t know that you were bathing. I wouldn’t have come otherwise. But, Lucifer, your wings are quite visible.”

“Afraid I’ll give away our location, are you?” he asked as he walked out of the lake. He took the towel she proffered and wrapped it around his waist.

“Yes,” Chloe said, finally able to look at him without fear of seeing what she shouldn’t. Not that she could get it out of her mind now. “You should be more careful. Why don’t you wash in the bathroom?” she asked but knew the answer the second the words were out.

“I tried. It’s too small.”

Chloe nodded.

“It’s the middle of the night, Detective. All the good people are asleep. And those who aren’t are probably busy doing things other than walking around this lake.”

Chloe nodded again. He was probably right. So she should just leave him to do what he needed to do. But she found herself standing there, staring at him instead. He had come nearer in order to take the towel from her and now, if she extended her arm, she could touch him, touch his wings. But she probably shouldn’t, not without asking first. But would he let her?

He hadn’t moved or spoken a word while she stared. He looked right back at her and Chloe wished to know what he was thinking. She wished to know why he’d been behaving so strangely. Why he had left without a word after she’d almost died. She wished to know if he’d ever have come back to her if the Apocalypse hadn’t begun. She wished to know what she was to him.

“You owe me an explanation,” Chloe said accusingly, unable to remain silent any longer.

Lucifer scoffed. So here they were. Finally doing the inevitable. The big talk about the big bad Lucifer and his big bad machinations. “Do I? I’ve been telling you I’m the Devil the whole time. It isn’t my fault you didn’t believe me,” he said defensively.

“It’s not like you were trying very hard to convince me,” Chloe argued, realizing he hadn’t answered her question.

“I thought it better to… not include you in my… problems,” he stammered awkwardly.

Chloe nodded, knowing very well he was avoiding the truth again. “Fine. You didn’t want to tell me because you were scared I’d freak out – I get it. But that’s not the explanation you owe me.”

“What?” Lucifer didn’t understand. What else was there to explain?

“You left without saying anything… after I almost died! Why?”

Lucifer blinked. Was she serious? This was what bothered her rather than the fact that he was the Devil? “Well, I had my plans...”

“And I wasn’t in them?” she asked bitterly.

“I...” Lucifer shook his head, not knowing what to say.

Chloe nodded, looking him in the eye. He squirmed under her stare. “You know, Lucifer, you say you don’t lie, but you do.”

“What?”

“You said we’d talk. Before you left the hospital. You said we’d talk later.”

“I didn’t say anything like that! You did.”

“And you nodded in agreement!”

“I didn’t!” Lucifer yelled. “I just nodded…” he halted, thinking hard, “to acknowledge that I heard you. That was a polite thing to do.”

Chloe’s jaw dropped. She couldn’t believe he was being so evasive. Why couldn’t he be honest with her? “Well, you didn’t say ‘no’ either. And you knew very well what conclusion I’d draw.”

Lucifer opened his mouth to protest but then shut it again. She was right.

“So,” Chloe took a deep breath, “now is later. Let’s talk.”

“Alright, if we must,” Lucifer agreed involuntarily. “About…?”

“Us! You know,” Chloe continued, albeit with less confidence now, “I thought that you and I, that… we were… getting close.”

Lucifer stared at her in disbelief. The end of the world was coming, she had just discovered that the supernatural was actually real and she wanted to talk about a relationship with the Devil?

“I’m the Devil, Detective.”

“I know.”

Lucifer nodded, expecting her to realize that talking about a relationship with a monster was slightly idiotic. But still no luck… “The actual Devil.”

“Yes.”

“The Lord of Hell,” he added.

Chloe growled. “Why do you keep repeating something I already know?”

Lucifer sighed. Why was she being so obtuse? Was it because of lack of sleep? “I can turn my visage into a monstrosity of barbecued meat. If Hollywood was in need of red Hulk, I’d fit the bill perfectly.”

Chloe shook her head, finally understanding why he was still talking about it. Misdirection, as always. “You didn’t mind being the Devil before, when you were trying to convince me that you were the right boyfriend for me so that can’t be the reason you left. Why did you really leave?”

Lucifer blinked. Father must have done a real number on her if she still couldn’t realize how unfit they were for each other. He ran out of things to say but he still hoped he could spare her the knowledge she had been used. “I… I had to...”

“No, Lucifer!” Chloe yelled, not giving up so easily. “I want the whole truth!”

Lucifer clenched his jaw in exasperation. “Alright then. If you must know, that thing between us... it wasn’t real.”

What? Chloe took a step back, feeling her face fall and her eyes sting with tears. All the troubles they had been through, all that long way they had come, all the effort he had made to win her over... and now he was telling her he didn’t care about her? “OK,” she stammered in a quavering voice, blinking quickly to prevent the tears from spilling out. The last thing she needed was for him to think she cared.

“I didn’t want to tell you. I hoped I could just spare you...”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it. I -”

“No, you don’t, Detective!”

Chloe took a deep breath. Why was he still talking? Did he have to prolong her humiliation?

“You see, thirty five years ago, my Dad sent Amenadiel to Earth to bless a couple unable to have a child.”

What was he babbling about? More supernatural angel/Devil stuff? How was it relevant now?

“The couple were your parents.” Lucifer waited until the information sank in. It took time but he could see in Chloe’s eyes when it did. They grew impossibly wide, incredulity and confusion replacing hurt. “Father put you here, in my path, on purpose.”

“What?” Chloe breathed. “I… I don’t understand...”

Lucifer steeled his features. He needed to finish this. “Your feelings towards me… whatever they are, whatever you think you feel, it’s just a sham.”

Chloe stood there completely motionless, trying to wrap her head around what Lucifer was saying. There were too many questions buzzing around in her brain for her mouth to articulate a single one. “But I… how could…”

“I know what it feels like, Detective. We were both conned. Robbed of our free will. That’s why I left. So you could have yours back.”

Chloe shook her head. “N… no, no. I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it.”

“A few days ago you didn’t believe in God. Or me,” Lucifer reminded her.

Chloe blinked rapidly, tears overflowing her eyes as she realized what Lucifer was saying. Her not believing it didn’t make it any less real. “But why?” she gasped. “Why would He do that?”

Lucifer shrugged. “To manipulate me. To make me do things that I wouldn’t do otherwise.”

Chloe suddenly remembered Trixie telling her about Lucifer’s dying when Malcolm shot him and asking God for help in exchange for his obedience. “Oh,” was all she could muster. Oh, she wanted to vomit, she wanted to… punch God in his protruding stomach and flatten Him to the floor.

“I’m sorry,” Lucifer whispered and left her standing there, unable to look at her devastated face any longer.

Chapter Text

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

Chloe blinked sleepily as she slowly descended the stairs. She was exhausted. She’d barely slept last night after the bomb Lucifer had dropped on her. It somehow felt even worse than the Apocalypse itself. Because the Apocalypse they could stop. Her being created by God to manipulate Lucifer they couldn’t. The only sensible thing she could do with it was to accept it and take back control of her life. Do with it whatever she wanted.

The problem was the one thing she wanted in her life was the exact same thing God did. And it seemed wrong somehow – to let the bastard have His way. And thinking about the Devil’s Dad...

“Coffee?” the offensive creature in question extended His divine hand and smiled warmly at her. In her dazed state she managed to get to the kitchen corner without even noticing God was standing there.

Chloe blinked. Why was He being so nice to her? Didn’t He know she knew what he’d done? Well, of course not, He didn’t remember anything!

“Isn’t it yours?” Chloe asked icily, not wanting anything from Him; He’d given her plenty already, thank you very much.

God waved His hand dismissively. “I’ll make another for myself. Trust me, young lady, you look like you need it much more than I do.”

“Hm...” So much for refusing. She took the beverage and sipped tentatively. It was surprisingly good. But maybe that was because her eyeballs were hanging out of her head and any coffee was good coffee.

God took another cup and put it in the coffee maker. “Tough night?” He asked with a twinkle in His eye.

“Yeah, you could say that,” Chloe retorted sarcastically, but He carried on, oblivious. Would it be too evil if she just punched Him, stuffed Him into a bag and threw Him into the lake?

“If I weren’t a gentleman,” God winked at her, “I’d ask what you were doing instead of sleeping.”

“It’s probably better that you don’t know,” Chloe answered. She knew that if she told Him about her origins, about what He had done, she wouldn’t be able to behave at all civilly towards Him. Hell, even now she had a huge problem with it! And a fight in the group was the last thing they needed. And besides, since Lucifer was able to keep his mouth shut, she had to as well. So she just clenched her fists and imagined them meeting forcefully with His nose. Repeatedly.

“Ah, good morning, Son,” God beamed and extended His hand with the second coffee to the newcomer.

Chloe turned to look at Lucifer’s scowling face. Their gazes locked and a moment of silent understanding passed between them.

Would you mind if I killed Him?

Of course not, Detective. How can I assist you?

Will you hold the bag?

Gladly. Hope you have a sturdy rope. We don’t want Him to get out accidentally.

Then Lucifer blinked and the moment of understanding ended. Chloe grabbed her coffee and with a quiet “excuse me” walked out onto the veranda.

God frowned, looking after the fleeing detective, then turning to His son. “I assume that last night didn’t go as planned?”

Lucifer snorted. “You could say that.”

God lifted His eyebrows in an invitation for him to say more but Lucifer kept silent, his lips pressed tight.

“Son, I don’t want to preach...”

“No-one else wants you to preach either.”

“… but you should take care of this one. I can tell that she’s special.”

“Oh, really?” Lucifer grabbed the edge of the kitchen counter and squeezed so hard his fingers dented the wood.

“Of course. First of all she can put up with you and that’s kind of miraculous, don’t you think?”

Lucifer glared, all the hatred he felt for his Dad flooding his system and making his eyes turn crimson. He wished God remembered who He really was. He wished he could tell Him what a total bastard He was but what was the point if He didn’t remember? And besides, could He even imagine the pain He had caused them?

“Lucifer?” God asked quietly. “Is everything alright, Son?”

“Yes, everything’s alright now,” Lucifer hissed, because Chloe finally knows everything, therefore she’s safe from you. And me, he added in his mind. “You’re being your usual annoying self, controlling everyone and everything without any regard for free will. So yes, Dad, everything’s as it should be. Praise the Lord!” He mocked and with a mighty effort he pushed back his emotions, burying the pain and the hate and the rage under his usual indifference. He grabbed the cup of coffee and returned upstairs.

“Well,” God grumbled to Linda, who’d been watching in wide-eyed silence the whole time, “that was disturbing. What’s wrong with the two of them? Do you think they had a lover's quarrel?”

“Ah,” Linda replied, “I think it’s none of our business.”

“It’s my son we’re talking about! Of course it’s my business!”

Linda tilted her head. “If you think that, you should probably talk to him about it.”

“Come on, Doctor, you saw what he’s like around me. I’m wondering when he’s going to stop answering my questions with tart comments and start using his fists.”

Linda nodded. “That makes two of us.”

“And is this the behavior of a healthy adult?”

“Healthy? God, no,” Linda answered.

God fell onto a chair next to Linda and sighed deeply. “Did I do that to him?”

“You should ask Lucifer.”

“Yes, you keep repeating that. But how can I ask him when he never provides any reasonable answers?”

“You two need to talk things out. If you’re willing, I can be your guide during that conversation,” she offered, although the idea gave her goosebumps. Being a mediator between God and the Devil? Yeah, why not… just a normal day in the office, right?

“That would be very generous of you,” God answered and nodded His thanks. “Would you ask Lucifer?”

Linda was glad when the door opened and saved her from answering. It was the door from the computer room and Ella walked out, looking like a zombie, her ever-present abundant energy now missing.

“Ella?” Linda asked with concern. “Are you alright?”

Ella came to a stop in front of them, swaying slightly on her feet. “Sure. Just too much coffee. And too little sleep.”

“Were you up all night too, young lady?” God asked noticing the dark circles under her eyes.

“Of course! I had a job to do.”

“Had?” Linda repeated.

Ella smiled. “I found him - it. The Rider I mean. I found it.”

 

Lucifer blinked, focusing on the small woman. They had called him back downstairs, not letting him sulk in peace. And the room was full of people again with Ella saying something – lots of something.

“… so I tried looking for evidence of the ongoing Apocalypse – you know – dead animals, dead people, diseases and stuff like that. But that shit is pretty much everywhere. And apparently always has been. Who’d have thunk it? Then I remembered that we still have access to the police database. So I said to myself ‘hey, Ella, why not to use it’ - you know, before someone realizes we’ve deserted and takes it away. So there’s still that APB on Dunlap that the Feds put out, and a call came about fifteen minutes ago from the sheriff of Boron. It’s a small town about two hours’ drive north of L.A. Dunlap was apparently spotted there, but it’s the last information we have from the sheriff.”

“Looks like the Rider’s gone to ground,” Maze commented.

“Well, after the riots it was probably the sane thing to do,” Lucifer replied.

“I hope the sheriff didn’t go after it,” Chloe added.

“Dunlap wasn’t considered dangerous,” Dan reminded her. “So that’s what the sheriff most likely did.”

“Meaning he’s probably dead now,” Chloe concluded with a heavy sigh.

“Well, can’t do anything to help the sheriff,” Lucifer commented and stood up, “but hopefully I can do something about the Apocalypse. It's time for me to finally meet the villain,” Lucifer said and looked down at himself. “Do you think I meet the required dress standard? No... I think I'd better dress up before I pay the Rider a visit and have a chit chat. You know what they say - you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Hopefully I’ll impress the Rider enough to make it piss off before the cavalry of Feds arrives and complicates matters."

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “Your clothes are just fine!”

“If you say so,” Lucifer answered, not convinced she was being sincere.

“I still think it’s a very stupid idea,” God said.

“Well, Dad, luckily no-one asked what you think.”

“There’s no need to be rude, Son.”

“Oh, I have plenty of need,” Lucifer growled. “Now I’ll be on my way then. Wish me luck.” Lucifer took a deep breath and spread his wings.

“Wait!” Maze yelled. “The Spear.”

Lucifer paused. “I’m going to parley with the Rider, Maze, not to fight it. Besides, if the Rider doesn’t accept the offer, then the Spear could come in handy in the future. You know, after mother translates the writings and we finally find out what it can do,” Lucifer added, glaring pointedly at Charlotte. “So, we’d best not reveal our secret weapon yet.”

“I don’t think the demons will let you say a word before they attack you,” Maze snapped. “At least take me!”

Lucifer snorted. “I think I’ll manage without your negotiating skills, Maze,” he retorted sarcastically.

“I, for once, agree with the demon,” Charlotte stepped in. “If the Rider decides it doesn’t want to talk, it’s better if it kills Mazikeen than you.”

Maze glared at Charlotte with hatred. “Thanks for help, bitch.”

“Happy to be of assistance,” Charlotte scoffed.

Lucifer rolled his eyes. These two were so exasperating. But when they exceptionally agreed upon something it was better not to argue with them. “Are you coming or not?” Lucifer asked Maze as he waved his wings, indicating he was ready to depart. Maze hurried to his side and wound her arms around Lucifer’s neck. He gave his wings a powerful flap and they were gone.

“It’s probably the worst plan I’ve ever heard,” Vanessa pointed out. “You think they can do it?”

“If anyone can convince the Rider to return to the Pit,” Charlotte replied, “it’s Lucifer.”

*******

Boron, California

Lucifer and Maze landed in the desert, about a quarter of a mile away from the small town. The rays of the morning sun were already baking the parched sandy ground and making the air parched and brittle. It was quite a shock to the senses given the fact they had been in Oregon only two seconds ago.

Both Lucifer and Maze took off their jackets, hooking them over their shoulders and headed to the town with their senses alert.

“Just let me do the talking,” Lucifer cautioned Maze.

Maze scowled. “Fine. You do the talking, I’ll do the fighting.”

“Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

“Yeah, sure,” Maze drawled sarcastically, “it’s just the Rider of the Apocalypse and a bunch of friendly demons. Of course there will be no fight.”

“Right,” Lucifer sighed, hoping Maze was wrong, and squinted against the bright sun. The town seemed quiet enough from this distance - no running, screaming people. But no cars either. That was a bit weird.

They came to the road just where a huge sign ‘Welcome to Boron, borax capital in the world’ was placed. It looked like it remembered better times; it was scratched in several places and over the letter ‘B’ was sprayed an ‘M’.

“Welcome to Moron. Lovely.” Lucifer snorted and they continued walking to the center of the town.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Maze admitted. “You should have brought the Spear.”

“It’s a parley, Maze. You think the Rider would believe we wanted to talk if it saw we came armed? Besides, it’s apparently trying to lie low, so it wouldn’t want to draw attention to itself by doing something as stupid as have a fight with an angel and a demon in the middle of this lovely town. I mean why else to come to this dismal little place?” Lucifer added as they passed the outskirts of the town.

“Yeah, well, it’s not like anyone would see if there was a fight,” Maze observed, looking around; the place seemed to be completely deserted. There was just a cat sitting on a porch and meowing angrily, and a barking dog running down the street towards them. But no humans. It looked like the people had disappeared somewhere. Or was it because it was Sunday morning and people were just sleeping off their hangover?

“Whatever do you mean, Maze? There’s plenty of people, don’t you see -” Lucifer trailed off as he realized why Maze wasn’t seeing anyone. Yes, there were people around the place – a man in a fireman’s uniform turning in circles, a boy suckling a lolly as big as his face, a woman standing in the middle of the street and offering newspapers to others who ignored her, an old man picking his nose while walking sideways like a crab and some others looking less weird. But they were all confused, repeating the motions over and over with a light shining strangely around them. The explanation was simple and sad. They were all dead; souls denied access to Heaven.

“Bloody hell,” Lucifer whispered when he realized how many souls there actually were. Maybe two dozen just in this street?

The dog finally reached them and stopped a respectable distance away. It sniffed them and then put its tail between its legs and scurried away.

Maze let her jacket slide to the ground and withdrew her knives. Someone was coming.

“Well, well, well,” a woman’s voice rang through the still air. “If it isn’t a former Master of Hell and his former lapdog.”

Lucifer and Maze turned around and groaned at the same time.

“Eisheth,” Lucifer exhaled with irritation, “what are you doing here?”

“Working,” the golden-haired, rather tall woman dressed head to toe in red leather answered, her yellow eyes shining with malice.

Maze snorted. “So you finally got the job of your dreams? Serving the Lord of Hell?” she asked mockingly, remembering very well how she had tried for millennia to get into Lucifer’s good graces and be his right hand. Unfortunately for her, Lucifer hated bootlickers. Not that it was boots she had tried to lick... Maze had had her share of fights with this demon.

Eisheth shrugged. “He’s not as handsome as the last one but at least he let us have some fun with the humans.”

“Did you do this?” Lucifer waved his arm, indicating their surroundings. “Kill all these people?”

“Please, don’t give all the credit to me. Others helped too.” Lucifer glanced around but there were no others to be seen.

“Don’t worry,” Eisheth smiled, “One wants to talk to you. Would be difficult if you were dead. It would take quite a long time to find the right door in Hell.”

“Ah,” Lucifer nodded, “good. I happen to want to talk to the Rider as well. Lead the way.”

Eisheth turned and they reluctantly followed her. They walked through the deserted streets to the far end of the town to where the town’s huge borax mine was clearly visible. They stopped in front of an old, red painted house with a half collapsed roof. A horrible stench was coming from the building, reminding Lucifer of homeless people, intensifying horrifically as the door opened and the body of Timothy Dunlap came through it. It walked slowly down the few stairs from the porch, followed by a dozen demons with blades in hand, probably Hell-made. All of them stopped several feet from Lucifer and Maze, staring intently.

Dunlap’s body looked a bit worse than the photo Ella had showed them. It had a deeply scratched number one in Hebrew – a mirror image of the percent sign - on the left cheek, bleeding slightly. Its eyes seemed bottomless, dull and dead, the flesh reduced to almost nothing as the dried skin was stretched tightly over the skull. And the smell… ah – Lucifer hoped the Rider wouldn’t take another step closer or he’d probably lose the battle with his stomach and vomit.

“Samael,” the Rider hissed like a snake ready to strike, making Lucifer shudder against his will.

“One,” Lucifer greeted the ugly creature. And that was all for now as they stared at each other silently, measuring each other up. If Lucifer had time to reflect upon the scene he would have said that they looked like two bandits from the wild west, ready to duel in the middle of the street. The dilapidated town certainly helped create the atmosphere.

“Mazikeen,” Maze said suddenly, pointing at herself, annoyed that the Rider hadn’t acknowledged her presence. “You may remember me. We’ve met but skipped the introductions. I made a nice hole in your previous meatsuit.” Lucifer gave Maze a warning glance but the Rider looked at her indifferently and then returned its gaze to Lucifer.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Favorite Son.”

“Oh, really?”

“I have a proposal.”

“Oh, thank you, but as tempting as that sounds I must refuse. I still have some wild oats to sow.”

“You haven’t heard the proposal and yet you refuse?” the Rider asked.

“No, it was a… never mind,” Lucifer realized that his joke had fallen flat as the Rider hadn’t even blinked. But really, what had he been expecting? “Just tell me what’s on your mind.”

“You give me the keys from the cells of my siblings and you and your… friends,” it spat the word with distaste, glancing at Maze, “will have a place in the world to come.”

“And what about the rest of the humans?” Lucifer asked just to know the whole plan.

“They are food,” the Rider replied without hesitation.

“Ah... I see. Well, in that case I’m afraid I must refuse after all.”

“You have nothing to gain by refusing. If you refuse, I will destroy you.”

“Unless I destroy you first,” Lucifer retorted.

“Yes, I’ve heard rumors about a magical spear and your wings growing back. But I see neither.”

“Maybe I don’t want you to see,” Lucifer pointed out.

The Rider sneered. “You are but an angel. You’re nothing, you’re weak, you can’t harm me.”

“And yet here you are, offering me a deal. I wonder why.”

The Rider scowled. “You’re only prolonging the inevitable. Whatever you do, wherever you go, I will find you and I will destroy you and then I will take all of the keys.”

“Hm, maybe. But I wonder how long it will take? A millennia? Or five? You know I have all the time in the world.”

“As do I.”

“True. But do you really want to spend it alone, without your… siblings, searching for the keys all over the world?”

The Rider tilted its head. “You have another proposal?”

“Indeed, I do. I know about the deal you made with Father. The thing is, you were released a bit earlier than was agreed upon. Therefore the complications with not opening the other cells. So my proposal is, return to your cell and we will release you when the right time comes – all of you. You won’t have to chase us for the keys. You will just rest in peace for a few more millennia in your cozy room and then the world will be yours. As was agreed upon.”

The Rider bared its teeth. “The deal was that the world would be ours when we were released. I was released, therefore the world is ours.”

“Oh, come on!” Lucifer growled. “There was a mistake! You weren’t supposed to be released yet. Who did it anyway? Just tell me and I’ll punish him or her for your inconvenience,” he prompted, hoping that the Rider would at least reveal the traitor. But his hope was short lived. The Rider smiled nastily.

“Someone,” it answered.

“Great,” Lucifer muttered.

“I don’t know who he was. He came, opened the cell and then walked away again.”

“Hard to believe you just let him go,” Maze pointed out. The Rider turned to her.

“I didn’t have a corporal shell and was weak after millennia of starvation. Of course I tried to eat him first but I couldn’t get in. So I let him go.”

Maze glanced at Lucifer. Was it someone with a soul then? It couldn’t have been a dead human since they have no earthly shell with which to block a Rider from entering their soul. And the living can’t just walk into Hell and live to tell the tale. It left only one option – an angel.

“So you see,” the Rider continued, “even if I agreed to your proposal, I can’t lock myself back in. I don’t have the key.”

“Bloody hell,” Lucifer cursed. “Well, we could just close the door,” he suggested, “no locking it since you would be there willingly,” he finished lamely.

The Rider laughed. “You really think I would be able to keep myself there, suffering from starvation for even more millennia? Do you have any idea what it’s like to exist, to feel the food all around me but be unable to feed? To starve forever?”

“No, I don’t,” Lucifer admitted. “But at least you won’t have to worry about gaining unwanted weight.”

Again no reaction to the joke. “Your offer is unacceptable. Now decide, what’s it going to be, Favorite Son. Will you accept my offer or not?”

Lucifer thought. And he thought hard. He didn’t want the world he knew to end; he liked it here. He actually liked people, they were fun. Well, at least some of them. But the thing was – did they have any chance beating the Rider back inside its cell when even it didn’t know where its cell key was? Maybe if they focused on finding the person who let it out in the first place? But still, what were the chances they would succeed? Slim to none probably. All the humans would die sooner or later as would his friends. But by accepting the offer he could at least save some of them. Maybe if he negotiated a bit, he could save a lot of people, not only Chloe, Linda and the others. He could save maybe a thousand. Or a million...

The noise of a car engine derailed Lucifer’s train of thought. He turned to find a black car had stopped on the road behind them.

“Excuse me,” a middle aged woman poked her head out of the car window. “This is the town where Erin Brockovich was filmed, yes? Do you know where we can buy souvenir t-shirts?”

Lucifer along with the Rider and the demons blinked. Was this real?

“Sorry, luv,” Lucifer drawled, “no souvenirs today. Why don’t you go back to where you came from?” Better to send them as far away from this nest of vipers as possible.

“Oh!” the woman gasped and turned to the driver, probably her husband. “Did you hear that, George? What a rude man!”

George got out of the car and stared at the large group. “Is this how you treat tourists? We’re paying customers, you know!”

Lucifer gritted his teeth. “Yes, sorry, pal! But we’re in the middle of something rather important.”

“What? A morning chitchat with the neighbors? Haven’t you heard of facebook?”

“No, we’re actually trying to save the world!” Lucifer yelled.

“Wait...” the man paused, “is this some kind of a trick? Are we being filmed? Is that why the town is empty?”

“The town is empty,” Eisheth smiled, “because we killed everyone.”

“Yeah,” the man grinned, “you’re filming something.”

Maze rolled her eyes. “Get in the fucking car and get away from here!” she yelled, letting her human disguise fall and revealing her demonic face.

George screamed like a banshee and jumped back behind the wheel. In his panic he stomped too hard on the gas pedal and accidentally drove right into a nearby fence. The car came to a sudden halt, buried in debris, and both airbags deployed, making Eisheth erupt into laughter and the woman in the car scream hysterically.

Maze glanced at Lucifer and shrugged. “I tried.”

Lucifer heaved a sigh. “Tourists...” Yeah, some people were worth saving and some… not so much.

“Take the deal, Samael,” the Rider said, reminding Lucifer he had a decision to make.

“Like hell we will!” Maze snapped.

The Rider raised its eyebrows. “You let a demon make your decisions for you?”

Lucifer glared at Maze and then back at the Rider. “Of course not. Your offer seems… fair enough...”

“What are you doing?” Maze cried, grabbing Lucifer’s arm.

“… but I can’t accept,” Lucifer finished, ignoring Maze. “You see, I’m not like my Dad; I don’t decide who lives and who dies. I just punish the guilty, those who deserve it. I don’t punish the innocent like my Father does.”

The Rider growled, its stolen face turning red with anger. “You’re making a huge mistake, Favorite Son!” It glanced at the demons around. “Get him! And kill the demon!”

Maze hissed and bared her teeth, her knives drawn and ready as the demons rounded on them, Eisheth in command.

“Maze, don’t!” Lucifer yelled but was too late as Maze started to run towards Eisheth, clearly intending to send her to oblivion. The blonde demon surprised her though; she jumped high into the air, soared over Maze and landed straight on a startled Lucifer, taking him down with the impact and straddling him with a smile. She managed to wrench his jacket out of his hand and throw it over his head.

“Hello, ex-boss,” she purred and hit him twice in quick succession in the face through the garment. She drew her fist back to deliver a third punch but Lucifer managed to blindly catch her hand and rip his jacket off his face. He grabbed Eisheth’s other hand and wrenched it away. Unable to use her hands, Eisheth ground her pelvis against Lucifer’s groin, glaring at him lasciviously. Lucifer’s grip loosened while he groaned in unwanted arousal and Eisheth used the distraction to free her hands, punching Lucifer once more.

Maze appeared suddenly and got the demon off her former boss by kicking Eisheth in her ribs.

“Sorry,” Maze glared at Lucifer, “did I interrupt something?”

“Of course not. Wrong blonde,” Lucifer muttered and jumped to his feet, wiping his bleeding nose. He assessed the situation – four demons were lying on the ground, dead – their throats cut by Maze’s knives. And the others were regrouping, slowly making a circle around their targets and showing a restraint not usually found in demons. Lucifer realised they didn’t actually seem to be trying to kill him.

“For God’s sake!” George yelled from the stuck car, “stop playing and someone help us out!” No-one paid him any attention.

“I think we should get out of here,” Maze suggested but Lucifer shook his head, his initial plan to flee changing as a thought occurred to him.

“Just a minute, Maze.” He turned to the Rider and gave it his most menacing face.

“I’m not the only one who stands against you,” Lucifer said. “There are more of us and we’re stronger than you think. And besides us there are always humans. If you think they will give up without a fight, think again. They might be mortal and weak compared to us and some of them even quite witless,” he pointed at the cursing George who was slowly squeezing out of the car through the window, “but they’re also resourceful. They have invented things that my Dad couldn’t even have imagined. They even made a trip to the bloody Moon!”

“So did I. It’s overrated,” the Rider sneered, coming closer to Lucifer, the circle of demons parting to let it through. But Lucifer wasn’t finished yet.

“They’ll fight you with everything they have. And that will be one Hell of a fight when they join forces.”

“You’re wrong, Favorite Son. I know humans very well. I’ve been inside many souls now,” the Rider pointed at the body it was currently occupying. “They hate each other for the silliest, tiniest things. They’re divided. I don’t have to face the whole of humanity. All I have to do is face one human at a time.”

“You don’t know them as I do,” Lucifer objected. “They might bicker about unimportant things all the time but when something evil threatens their existence, they’ll unite and fight together until the end. And you’re exactly the kind of evil that will bring out their best. Just wait and see what happens when you try to destroy them.”

“Are we done talking?” the Rider hissed.

“Sure,” Lucifer replied, and acting on spur of the moment took a quick step closer, punching the Rider in the face with all his might. The creature staggered, catching itself on a nearby power pole – just short of falling, and then smiled nastily.

“Bloody hell,” Lucifer growled, staring at his opponent. Well, at least he tried. Now it was time to get out of there. He glanced at George who was pulling his wife out of the car now and dismissed the thought of helping them. He couldn’t carry three people at once. They would have to help themselves. He spread his wings and beckoned to Maze.

“Stop them!” the Rider yelled and several demons jumped on Lucifer before Maze could get to him.

“Get off of me, you filthy dumb minions!” Lucifer yelled and grabbed one demon by his throat, throwing him away like a ragdoll. He waved one of his wings, getting rid of another assailant by smashing his head so hard his neck broke with an ugly cracking sound. Maze was there then, cutting a bloody swathe through another demon and reaching for Lucifer. Their fingers touched briefly but Eisheth caught Maze’s hair from behind and yanked hard, pulling her away from the Devil.

Lucifer growled in anger and blocked another demon’s attack with one arm, then smashed her face with the other, smearing her nose across her face. She shrieked in pain as she fell to the ground but Lucifer ignored her. He flapped his wings, leaping into the air intending to pluck Maze from the chaos of attacking demons and get the bloody hell out of there. But he was barely six feet off the ground when someone caught his leg and pulled hard with strength so great that it overpowered even his wings. Lucifer fell heavily to the ground, almost breaking his arm, and a large cloud of dust exploded around him from the impact.

Lucifer groaned in pain, momentarily confused about what had happened. He blinked the dust out of his eyes and coughed it out of his lungs and then tried to refocus his senses. But before they could adjust a hand grabbed his throat and lifted him clear off the ground, squeezing painfully.

“I didn’t say you were dismissed, Favorite Son,” the Rider growled, holding Lucifer in a death grip half a foot above the ground.

Lucifer clawed at the hand squeezing his throat and thrashed his wings madly in an attempt to get away. But it was fruitless. The Rider held tight, too tight – with one hand about Lucifer’s neck, the other hooked around the power pole to keep them on the ground. Lucifer thought he was going to lose consciousness very soon as black spots clouded his vision.

“Lucifer!” Maze yelled and kicked Eisheth square in the face, sending her to the ground. With her momentarily out of the way, Maze tried again to get to Lucifer, but five more demons blocked her path.

“Still so worried about him!” Eisheth mocked as she slowly got back to her feet, blood pouring from her broken nose, and joined the rest of the demons. “Like a mother hen. But don’t worry, I’ll take care of him now,” she smiled nastily, taking a sword from one of the demons.

Maze snorted. “What? No more hair pulling?”

“We’ll come to that!” Eisheth hissed and charged Maze with a yell. Maze dodged just in time to avoid a sure decapitation and turning elegantly she swung her knives, missing Eisheth’s throat by inches but cutting off some of her golden hair.

“You bitch!” Eisheth screamed and renewed her efforts to kill her opponent.

Lucifer kicked the Rider in the shin but the thing didn’t budge. He clawed at its face but the only result was a nasty smile. It apparently felt no pain. Darkness threatened as Lucifer’s brain screamed for oxygen and a horrifying thought occurred to him – what if the Rider wanted to possess him? What if it was just trying to make him weak enough to get inside his body? Lucifer redoubled his efforts to get away as a terrible fear seized his soul.

“You think you’re powerful, Samael? You’re wrong. You’re like a puppy thinking there’s nothing with bigger teeth in the world. You may be an angel but you’re still just flesh and blood that can be destroyed.”

So are you in this form, Lucifer thought and grabbed the Rider’s forearm, its words giving him an idea. The Rider might not feel any pain but the body wasn’t indestructible. Lucifer unleashed his powers and made his upper body heat up, rapidly increasing the temperature of his skin by hundreds of degrees. He felt his shirt burn on him, the pieces falling off. But he didn’t give a damn; he cared just about the Rider. The skin on its hand and forearm started to crack and flame while the smell of burning meat assailed Lucifer’s nostrils. The muscles shrivelled and turned to a black ash, sloughing away like old paint off a wall until only bones remained. The skeleton fingers weren’t able to hold Lucifer; he fell to the ground, gasping for air.

When he looked up he found the Rider watching the burned hand in fascination. Lucifer didn’t wait for it to snap out of its stupor and leapt into the air, beating his wings once to land next to a blood-covered Maze who was beating the crap out of the remaining demons.

She took hold of him and without further ado Lucifer quickly teleported them back to Bend.

*******

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

“They’re back!” someone yelled as Lucifer landed on the first floor, letting go of Maze. She stumbled but managed to catch her balance. He, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky. His head was spinning and black spots danced in front of his eyes.

“Lucifer!” several people yelled as he swayed dangerously on his feet. He tried to focus on the ones running towards him but couldn’t. He thought he was falling but that couldn’t be right… He’d already been there and done that. Or did history repeat itself? Something hard hit him in the back as darkness came to claim him.

Chapter Text

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

They carefully lay Lucifer down on one of the couches, his long legs sticking over the end. Chloe put a pillow under his head, trying to make him as comfortable as possible. Thank God his wings had disappeared when he had passed out; they certainly wouldn’t have been able to squeeze him onto the couch otherwise.

Dan made a fire in the fireplace to warm the room while the rest of the people gathered around Lucifer.

“He’ll be fine,” Amenadiel assured Chloe as she removed the shreds of Lucifer’s shirt and wiped the blood off his face with a damp cloth. She studied the red marks on his throat with concern.

“The Rider almost choked him to death,” Maze said by way of explanation.

Chloe looked at her sharply, worry creasing her forehead. “Are you sure -”

“He’s still him,” Maze interrupted her, easing her fear. “The Rider didn’t possess him. We made it out of there in time.”

Chloe exhaled with relief. “We should get him something for that throat.”

“On it,” Linda replied and a few seconds later returned with a bag of ice. Lucifer flinched slightly as Chloe pressed the bag on his throat but didn’t wake up.

“Ha!” God exclaimed, peeking over their shoulders at His son. “‘Nothing can happen to me. I can teleport away whenever I want to,’” He said, mimicking Lucifer’s accent. “Now look at him! Lying there like a piece of meat, his neck all red. There’s a handprint on it for God’s sake!”

“Man,” Ella exclaimed, “you’re not supposed to say ‘for God’s sake’. We are.”

God waved His hand dismissively. “He should have listened to us! I mean the boy can be so irresponsible!” He shouted angrily. “Whose idiotic idea was it anyway? To talk to the Rider?!”

Ella shrank back, hoping no-one would remember or tell on her.

“He’ll be fine, Dad,” Amenadiel growled. “He’s immortal.”

“Yes. But what if the Rider had actually possessed him, hm? What would we have done then?”

“What?!” Chloe snapped unable to listen to God’s theatrics any longer. Lucifer had risked his life for them and all he got in return was rebuke. “Are you afraid the Apocalypse would have continued and you wouldn’t have been able to get back to the safety of Heaven?”

“What?” God exclaimed, looking at Chloe strangely. “You really think that’s what I was worrying about?”

“Weren’t you?” Chloe challenged.

“NO! I was worrying about the well-being of my son! It’s a parent thing as you should know!”

“Oh, I do know!” Chloe spat. “But I don’t think you do!”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

Chloe shrugged. “It seems to me that all you’ve done so far is to use Lucifer for your own benefit! To get you out of the retirement home, to save you from the vault, to stop the Apocalypse.”

God’s face darkened with anger. “Young lady, I don’t like what you’re implying at all. I love my son! Sons,” He corrected Himself after glancing at Amenadiel. “And daughters. I just wish Lucifer would listen to me!”

“Yeah, you want him to obey, I get it!” Chloe yelled. “But you know what? There’s this little thing called free will. And Lucifer sure as hell deserves it. As we all do!”

God blinked, puzzled by Chloe’s words, and looked around. “Can anyone please explain to me what’s going on here?”

“She’s having a brainstorm and is saying what she really thinks about you?” Charlotte offered. “She’s doing a great job so far.”

God ignored His ex-wife and returned His gaze to Chloe. “You’re obviously angry with me but I have no idea why!”

Chloe opened her mouth to answer Him but then changed her mind. That was the problem, wasn’t it? God didn’t know why. He couldn’t understand. And even if they explained what He had done, He could hardly take responsibility for His actions when He didn’t remember anything.

“We shouldn’t argue here,” Linda said. “Lucifer needs rest. Besides, all disputes can be resolved in a civilized manner.”

Chloe nodded, but her fists clenched in anger. Now it seemed she was the bad one here, being reprimanded for her behavior. “Excuse me,” she muttered and walked out. She needed air. A lot of it.

 

Chloe strode to the lake and sat down on a rock at the shore. Soon enough she heard footsteps behind her.

“You know.” It was Amenadiel.

She didn’t even try to pretend she didn’t understand. “I know. Lucifer told me last night.” She heard the angel take a deep breath and then saw him sit next to her.

“I’m sorry,” Amenadiel whispered.

“Why?”

Amenadiel hesitated. “I know how hard it is to like someone and think it’s real and then discover that you’ve been played the whole time.”

“And yet you had no problem playing me,” Chloe said, remembering it was him who had apparently helped her to be conceived.

“It’s not like that. I… I didn’t know who you were until recently.”

Chloe nodded, picturing what happened. “And you told Lucifer.”

Amenadiel shook his head and looked guiltily at the ground. “I told mother.” Chloe laughed humorlessly as she realized the implication.

“So you played not only me but Lucifer as well?”

“You must understand that I was deeply angry at the time. There were other things that happened,” Amenadiel explained, remembering Uriel’s death. “And I was hurt too. And it was all because of Dad.”

“And you think that just because you’re angry or hurt, it’s OK to hurt others?”

Amenadiel sighed. “No. You’re right, it’s not. But I wanted – no, I needed – to punish Dad for what He did and Mom had a plan and Lucifer… he was the key.”

Now Chloe was curious. “So what exactly did your mother do?”

“She encouraged Lucifer to pursue a relationship with you and helped him realize his feelings, and just when he believed you had feelings for him as well, she told him the truth. That it wasn’t real. Just Father’s doing.”

Chloe blinked. This was one of the cruelest things she’d ever heard of. “She wanted Lucifer to hate God.”

“Yes. She needed him to go to war with her against Him.”

“So she used her own son.” Chloe shook her head with disgust. This was like the worst family in the whole universe. “Did it work?”

“No. Lucifer discovered her plan and now he hates them both.”

“Good. That’s all they deserve from him. And he should add you to the list as well.”

Amenadiel flinched. Yeah, he probably should. “I don’t think he realizes that I… actually helped mom.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell him.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m not doing it for you. There’s just no need to rub salt into the wound. You deserve Lucifer’s hatred as much as your parents, but you’ll just have to make do with mine. I’ll hate you enough for both of us.”

Amenadiel was taken aback by the contempt spilling out of Chloe. “Why?”

“Because you made me feel these feelings, so that your Father could manipulate Lucifer!” she yelled, tears coming to her eyes.

“No, no,” Amenadiel vehemently shook his head. “It doesn’t work like that. I didn’t make you feel anything. The only thing I did was to bless your parents so they could conceive. That’s all. I swear! I don’t know what Father intended to do or did afterwards.”

Chloe blinked, wiping away the tears with her hand. Now she was confused once again. “If you don’t know what God did or intended to do, how do you know He created me to manipulate Lucifer?”

Amenadiel heaved a sigh. “You must understand one thing, Chloe. Lucifer was always… difficult to manage. You told him not fly too high and he did. You told him not give the girl the apple and he did. There was never a direct way to manage him.”

Chloe scoffed. She couldn’t believe her ears. “So when God couldn’t control him like a dog, He decided to manipulate him instead?”

“It’s not that simple,” Amenadiel protested. “Father doesn’t manipulate. He leads, He puts people in various situations to help them realize what’s important. But He always let everyone decide on their own what path they want to follow.”

“Isn’t Lucifer a bit old to be led around?” Chloe asked. That whole speech seemed to be just a bunch of pretty bullshit trying to justify their cruelty.

Amenadiel shook his head. “No-one’s too old to learn new things. Besides, you don’t know Lucifer as I do,” Amenadiel continued. “He can’t be just allowed to do whatever he wishes. He’s… unpredictable and unreliable and selfish and -”

“And you’re the one who probably doesn’t know him at all!” Chloe finished, frowning.

“I’ve known him for millennia!”

“But when was the last time you two had a real talk without pretense, competition or bickering?”

“I...” Amenadiel shook his head. He couldn’t remember.

“Maybe he’s changed. Didn’t you think of that?”

Amenadiel fell silent and thought about Chloe’s words. He had to admit that Lucifer was capable of really good things when he put his mind to it. But it was so rare that it paled in comparison with the rest of his actions. Except... lately the good deeds seemed to outshine his selfishness... “Maybe you’re right. Maybe he’s changed.”

“Hm,” Chloe nodded.

“And maybe it’s all just your doing,” Amenadiel added with a pointed look and left her.

Chloe blinked. Her doing? Or God’s? If He’d really made her what she was, then it was technically all His doing. But had He really made her what she was? Or had He only arranged for her to be born, foreseeing what she would be like and deciding she could be a good influence on His erratic son?

Really, why would God go to such lengths to control Lucifer? What was the gain? He had dozens of angels to do His bidding, why chase after this one?

And why use love to manipulate Lucifer when there were easier ways? And could God even install feelings inside people? Surely she would have realised if her feelings weren’t real. She wasn’t a teenager anymore. She had fallen in love before, she knew what it felt like. And this – it felt very similar to the first time. Not the same, no. It was… less exciting but yet deeper. No, it couldn’t be just an illusion. She was the one who controlled her life. Not some divine being... And this entire Apocalypse business was proof that God didn't control every minute of their lives. He was down here, powerless, and yet the world went on as it had before. She felt like before (not counting a lot of anger towards the old guy).

What if Amenadiel and Lucifer had come to the wrong conclusion? How could they know what God had intended by putting her in Lucifer’s path? They had been thinking that the Riders were part of God’s great plan until yesterday! And how wrong they had been!

Maybe, God hadn’t put her in His son’s path to manipulate him. Maybe He just wanted her to keep Lucifer out of trouble. Or to teach him some manners. Everyone knew Lucifer needed that!

Whatever the case, Chloe was sure about one thing. God may have created her but He didn’t control her actions. She had her free will and a sound mind and she certainly understood her feelings. And they felt real enough. And she was in no way ready to give them up just because of some crazy theory based on millennia old daddy issues! Now all she had to do was convince Lucifer that she was right and he wasn’t. Easy-peasy…

*******

When Chloe reappeared in the house, she looked poised, any signs of former agitation gone. Maze decided to pry later; now that they were all inside again, it was time to share with them what had happened with the Rider. So she told them about the dead people of the town and the deal the Rider had offered to Lucifer.

“Seems like the Rider is a bit desperate to offer Lucifer such a deal,” Vanessa pointed out.

“It didn’t look desperate,” Maze answered. “Just impatient. It wants the other keys to get its friends out.”

Vanessa nodded. “We should have gotten the one from the Pope. I still think it was a mistake to let the old man hide it. It can be tracked. Humans can’t keep it safe.”

Maze nodded. “Yeah, but maybe we can’t either. The Rider certainly thinks so. It made it clear that we are just a nuisance.”

“Speak for yourself, demon,” Charlotte answered.

Maze looked at her with contempt. “And what good are you, your Highness?” Maze spat sarcastically. “The Rider has all Hell’s demons on its side, including that treacherous bitch, Eisheth. And what do we have? You...”

Charlotte scoffed. “I’m a goddess!”

“And yet you can’t even translate the Spear,” Maze snapped.

“I’m getting there! It’s a language that was dead long before Hell was created. And it’s not like I have a dictionary! … That’s a book where you can look up words - if you can read,” she added mockingly. Maze got up from the couch and headed for the Goddess but Chloe caught her arm in time.

“So what else did the Rider say?” Chloe asked, mainly to make Maze focus on something other than Charlotte.

Maze turned to her. “You mean besides the plan to conquer the world and kill everyone? It said something about the person who released it from the Pit. Apparently it was a ‘he’ and someone with a soul and a body. And since living humans can’t enter Hell and demons don’t have souls, it must have been an angel. So that’s another point to one of your offspring,” Maze glared at Charlotte.

Another point?” Charlotte repeated.

“Only an angel could have taken the key from Jesus in Heaven.”

“Oh, that...” Charlotte drawled.

“According to the Rider the angel just unlocked the cell and disappeared. So he must still have the key.”

“But isn’t he locked in Heaven with all the other angels?” Dan asked.

“Unless he’s hiding somewhere on Earth,” Maze pointed out, “which I doubt since the Rider would probably want to eat him too at the end. So yes, he’s most likely locked in Heaven. Meaning the key from the Rider’s cell is locked in Heaven too.”

“And without the key we can’t lock the Rider back,” Vanessa concluded.

Maze snorted. “And as long as the Rider’s out, Heaven’s Gate won’t open. Yes, we have a slight problem here.”

“We should try hypnosis again,” God offered suddenly and looked at Linda. “I really need to remember something useful! Maybe whether the Spear can harm the Rider. Or what the key looks like. Maybe it’s on Earth after all but we just don’t know it.”

*******

“Hey,” Chloe smiled at Lucifer as he slowly opened his eyes. Finally. Nearly everyone else had gotten tired of waiting for him to wake up and had left.

As Lucifer’s vision cleared and the lovely smiling face of his detective appeared above him, he felt wonderfully happy, just staring at her. But then he remembered the feeling wasn’t real. The illusion of happiness was swiftly replaced with bitter reality and his smile vanished.

“Detective,” he rasped, his neck hurting.

“Take it easy, champ,” Chloe said as he tried to sit too quickly and his head spun. Then he remembered what had happened and glanced around the room, seeing only Chloe and Vanessa there.

“Maze?” he asked, his voice quivering slightly with worry.

“She’s fine,” Chloe said. “She, Trixie, Dan and Amenadiel have gone to Bend to buy some supplies. Charlotte is translating the Spear, and Linda and God went upstairs to try another hypnosis session.”

Lucifer nodded and looked at his blood-and-dust-stained trousers, realizing he’d lost his shirt and jacket completely.

“Bloody hell, I knew I should have packed more clothes.”

“If you wore a uniform when going into battle, you wouldn’t have to worry about your Armani,” Vanessa pointed out, frowning at him.

“It was Prada,” Lucifer corrected her. “And I look like a giraffe in a uniform. And besides I didn’t go into battle, I went to a parley.”

“Yes, we heard,” Vanessa said.

“How long have I been out?”

“About two hours,” Chloe replied. “We were getting worried.”

“Yes. I imagine you couldn’t help yourself,” Lucifer commented dryly.

“Hm, it’s called caring,” Chloe said.

“You should know better by now, Detective.”

“I do know better.”

Lucifer frowned at her, not understanding.

“Hey guys,” Ella called from the small room with the computers. “You should probably see this.” All three of them joined Ella and looked at the monitors. A Fox news report was on one of them, an older man in a studio looking grim as he relayed the latest news.

“Now we have Melissa Stone in Boron, California, where multiple deaths were reported about an hour ago. Given the severity of the case, it’s being investigated by the FBI. Melissa?”

The outskirts of Boron appeared on the screen together with a blonde reporter. “As you can see behind me, the place is swarming with FBI agents.” Some of them were pushing the other reporters out of the way while putting around more and more yellow ‘crime scene’ tape. It looked like they were around every house now. “According to the latest information no survivors have been found yet. There is some speculation that it could have been a major gas leak due to the high number of fatalities.”

“Move them out of town. I want it clear!” a voice came from out of shot. Then the owner – a tall black man with white hair - appeared and stared at the camera for a brief moment. The young reporter seized the opportunity to ask a question.

“Agent Haley, can you give us any information about what happened here?”

“No. Now get out of town. It’s all a crime scene now.”

The reporter didn’t give up. “Is it true that all the residents of Boron are dead, including children? Most of them found in their beds?”

“Are you deaf or just plain stupid, woman?! I told you to get out of here. Do I need to arrest you?”

“But Agent Haley, people have a right to know if they’re in danger.”

“They’re not in danger!”

“Can you at least tell us why it’s you investigating this case? You haven't solved the angel case yet. Or is there a connection between the two cases?”

“OK, you asked for it. You!” Haley yelled at a passing agent. “Arrest them for obstruction of a federal investigation!”

“Alright, alright, we’re leaving,” the reporter acquiesced and then the camera switched off, returning to the Fox studio.

Lucifer frowned. “No survivors then? I wonder what happened to the Rider.”

“Well, there’s this,” Ella said and opened a video on YouTube. Lucifer recognized the two tourists – George and his wife. At least someone got out of there alive. They were standing in a parking lot in front of a restaurant.

“Hello, this is George and Julie Buckner,” George said, looking pale and disheveled, “and we decided to make this video before we go make a statement to the police.”

“Yes,” Julie added, “we want the world to know what’s really happening in case the authorities tried to cover it up like they did with Elvis Presley and the dead angel in Los Angeles.”

“We’re in North Edwards now, we’ve just come from a nearby town, Boron.”

“Something evil happened there,” Julie said solemnly. “When we got to Boron this morning, the whole town was empty. There was just this one gang of people.”

“At first we thought they were actors or something,” George added. “But then one of them yelled at us to go away and her face changed into something like a mask on Halloween.”

“George took a terrible fright and crashed our car into a fence. We actually had to steal another car to get away from there.”

“Her face was really horrendous, like burned with flesh missing,” George continued, “but that was just after she changed. Before, she was pretty hot.”

Julie gave George a look.

“Like slutty hot! In tight leather pants,” George added hastily. “With a murderous gleam in her eyes.”

“Hm, that’s a pretty accurate description,” Lucifer muttered. “Now someone actually may recognize Maze.”

“Yes,” Julie agreed. “Very nasty. But the important thing is that she must have been a demon!”

George nodded. “They all were demons! The gang, I mean! Maybe the whole town just turned into demons!”

“Except for the handsome guy.”

Now it was George’s turn to look pointedly at his wife.

“He was handsome,” Julie insisted. “But he was no demon. He had wings. As white as freshly washed sheets.”

“Looks like the bath in the lake was worth it after all,” Lucifer commented dryly.

“We first thought he was a man or one of them,” George said, “but then the demons started to fight and he unfolded his wings. You know, like a butterfly after changing from a caterpillar. And then he fought the demons.”

“It was very violent,” Julie added and sobbed. “We thought we were gonna die! But God’s looking over us. Over all of us!”

“Yes,” George nodded. “But be prepared. The demons have come. We must have faith and praise God for sending us angels to fight them!”

“Oh, come now,” Lucifer growled. What a ridiculous conclusion. Ella stopped the video then.

“It’s just more bullshit about angels and God,” she commented.

Chloe turned to Lucifer, looking at him from head to toe. He was uncomfortably close in the small room and it made her head spin, especially since he was half naked. “Looks like you’re getting famous.”

“Must be something about the face,” Lucifer replied smoothly.

“Don’t discount the parts below it...” Chloe suggested.

Lucifer smiled. “And you certainly know all of my parts, Detective.”

“Yeah, every little piece of it,” Chloe teased.

Lucifer put his palm to his chest, feigning hurt. “You’re not talking about my divine parts now, are you?”

“Come on, guys...” Ella moaned. “Just get a freaking room and be done with it already!”

Her words were like a bucket of cold water, making Lucifer and Chloe realize they had slipped into their old habit of flirtation without even noticing. They sobered almost immediately; the change of mood palpable in the little room. It actually felt like the temperature dropped a few degrees.

“You know,” Vanessa said slowly, “I don’t usually approve of mixing work and pleasure but I agree with Ella here. So please, get the pleasure part done so you can finally concentrate fully on the job!”

“I am concentrating fully!” Lucifer countered.

“Yeah, you mean like when you attacked the fucking Rider and let it beat the crap out of you?”

“That’s not what happened!” Lucifer yelled in indignation.

“According to Maze,” Chloe said, “it is.”

“The Rider’s the one who lost a hand! I, on the remaining hand, am quite alright.”

Vanessa raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, but the Rider can easily switch bodies. You, on the whatever hand, can’t!”

“Oh come on, you’re the one who wanted me to get more… proactive!”

“Yeah, proactive, not stupid! You knew how dangerous the Rider was! Why would you attack it knowing you couldn’t harm it?”

Lucifer sighed. “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time! And… it pissed me off.”

“You should control yourself better. The whole world is relying on you!”

“Yes, yes, I know!” Lucifer hissed, annoyed. He really didn’t need reminding.

“Then behave accordingly!”

“What do you want from me, Miss Burrow?” Lucifer cried in exasperation. “Hm? What do you want?” He paused as a memory crossed his mind. “Actually, I believe you owe me an answer to that as I didn’t succeed the first time. So what do you want, Vanessa?” he asked, his voice prompting her to answer.

Vanessa gulped.

“Lucifer, what are you doing?” Chloe asked reproachfully while Ella stared, wide-eyed. But Lucifer ignored them both.

“I know you’re the complex one. I like those. So come on, Vanessa, tell me – what is it you truly desire?” He leaned closer to her to make his charm work more intensely.

Vanessa glanced at Chloe in panic and then returned her gaze to the Devil. “I...”

“Yes?”

“I want…” she hesitated, “I want this Apocalypse to end.”

Lucifer drew back. “Really? This is your greatest desire? Your big secret?” he asked in surprise.

“Sure! Isn’t it yours?!”

Lucifer scowled. “Really, Vanessa, you need some pleasure in your life!”

“Says the man who won’t take the woman he wants,” she retorted.

“Hey, I’m right here!” Chloe yelled.

“Yeah,” Vanessa nodded. “That’s why it’s so pathetic!”

Lucifer was still focused on Vanessa, ignoring their words. He couldn’t believe her deepest desire was so… ordinary. And recent. “What did you wish for before the Apocalypse?”

Vanessa shrugged.

“Why don’t you desire something… less boring? A car, perhaps? A pair of katanas? A lover? Or two?”

“I don’t have time for this,” Vanessa hissed finally and pushed through them, leaving the room.

“And that’s exactly your problem!” Lucifer yelled after her.

“That wasn’t necessary,” Chloe berated him.

“Yes, I know,” Lucifer replied with indignation, obviously getting the wrong end of the stick again. Chloe shook her head at him and walked out.

“Dude...” Ella drawled. “You should really work on your social skills. And coming from me it means that yours really, really suck.”

Lucifer scowled. “I’ll better go have a shower and find some decent clothes to wear. Hope someone washed the towels.”

When Lucifer left, Ella looked up, still out of sorts about what she’d just witnessed and sighed. “I know you’re up there somewhere... because I saw you go upstairs like ten minutes ago. And even though you can’t hear me through the ceiling, thank you for making them finally leave. This was the awkwardest thing that’s happened here so far. And I share a bedroom with a Goddess. She’s really tall by the way. Takes most of the bed. Not that I’ve slept in it yet.

So I guess I’ll just return to drinking tons of coffee and watching boring news in a small, windowless room.

‘Yes, Ella, thank you very much for all the hard work. We appreciate it,’” she mimicked Lucifer’s voice and then returned to watch more news.

*******

God lay on the bed in His room, his arms crossed and His bare toes moving in agitation.

“I don’t think it’s the right time to do this,” Linda pointed out, sitting on the uncomfortable wooden chair. She was smart enough to understand that someone must have told Chloe about her origins. And man, that was bad… especially with the deep feelings involved. Linda had realized a long time ago that they had all been sitting on a ticking bomb but she had no idea whether there was any chance of defusing it.

“They all think me useless,” God said petulantly. “And they’re probably right. My son hates me – well, both of them probably and now the detective too. I mean did I do something to her?”

Maybe she should tell Him. But it wasn’t her secret to tell.

“I really need to remember, Doctor. Not only because of the Apocalypse, but because of me too. I need to know what I did so I can make it right.”

Linda sighed. Yeah, that would probably be for the best. “Alright. I know it’s difficult right now but please try to relax. Close your eyes and listen to my voice. I will count to ten slowly and with every number you will feel yourself becoming more relaxed. Forget about the day’s events, focus on nothing but my voice.”

God took a deep breath, sighing wearily. As Linda started to count, His mind quieted a little.

“Now,” Linda said slowly, “I want you to return to your home.”

“OK.”

“What do you see?”

“A garden. There are apple trees.”

“Are you alone?”

“No. There are children everywhere.”

“Are they yours?”

“I… I’m not sure,” God stammered. “I can’t see their faces. They’re running and squealing.”

Linda nodded. It was a good start – going to a calm, safe place. “Why don’t you join them?” Linda suggested.

“Join them?” God repeated, His words tentative, not exactly convinced it was a good idea.

“Dad! Come and join us!”

“Yes, come play, Daddy, come play!”

“Alright,” God agreed. He took a few steps, coming closer to the kids.

“You want an apple, Daddy?” a chubby blonde haired girl extended her hand with a ripe fruit. As God reached for it though, the girl spread two golden wings and soared over His head, giggling.

“Now, that’s not fair!” God said aloud.

“What’s not fair?” Linda asked quietly but she didn’t get any answer.

“After you offer something, you can’t just change your mind, darling.”

“I didn’t,” the girl giggled again. “But you must catch me first if you want it, Daddy!”

God smiled. “Well, you asked for it!” He growled in mock anger and started to chase the kid. But others decided to make it difficult for Him, running in His path, jumping on His back, catching His legs. He dodged or gently pushed them away, sometimes grabbing one of them and hoisting them over His shoulder, still trying to catch the one with the apple. But the little cherub kept escaping Him.

The others started to clap their little hands to urge Him not to give up - clap, clap, clap, clap - while their giggling intensified. The clapping grew faster and louder, the kids running and flying around Him at dizzying speeds like a mad, living merry-go-round.

“Alright kids, that’s enough!” God yelled. “I said stop it!”

“You must catch us, Daddy, there’s no time to lose!”

God turned and turned, trying to catch any of them, to get a glimpse of a face at least, but it was impossible. The clapping was so fast now, it sounded almost like one long rumble. God covered His ears, not able to listen to the deafening noise anymore.

And then it all stopped. The sound stopped. The kids stopped. They all turned in one direction and stared at the green lawns in the distance, pointing.

“God!” He heard the familiar voice of the doctor.

Linda was scared. She had no idea what was happening. It had been several minutes since God had responded to her. But He had seemed alright. Until now. Now He started to shiver, almost like He was in some kind of a seizure, saliva coming out of His mouth while His fingers dug into the blanket.

“God!” Linda yelled again as she didn’t know what else to do. She shouldn’t touch Him. And she probably shouldn’t try to wake Him up in this state.

But then, suddenly, all His movements stopped and He seemed to relax a bit. “God?”

“Doctor?” He answered, out of breath.

“Where are you? What’s happening?”

“The Gate!” God moaned. “It’s started to close. I can’t stop it. Someone’s getting away!”

Linda noticed He started to shiver again and decided not to risk more of this. “God! I want you to listen to my voice and focus on it. Can you do that?”

“Hm,” He groaned and Linda took it as a ‘yes’ as she had no other safe choice. As she counted from ten to one, God opened His eyes and blinked.

“That was a magnificent waste of time,” He growled and sat, sweat gleaming on His skin, His hands shaking visibly.

“Careful,” Linda cautioned.

"I feel horrible." God shook His head in exasperation. “And we didn’t learn anything!”

“That’s not true!” Linda argued. “You said that someone closed the Gate and got away.”

“Well, yes. And?”

“We thought it was you who closed it!”

“I don’t see how it’s relevant...”

“We thought you closed it to protect the inhabitants of Heaven. But it seems that someone closed it for another purpose.”

God finally understood. “Someone wanted it to be closed, because he didn’t want me and the angels in the way.”

*******

Chloe had been thinking about how to approach Lucifer about the feelings thing the whole morning. She’d prefer if she could just have a few minutes alone with him but every time she tried, he found an excuse and ruined her plans. Like now. They were on the first floor with Johann and Vanessa, the two of them sitting at the table, chopping the vegetables Lucifer had put before them, while she and Lucifer cut meat at the kitchen worktop. After yesterday, Lucifer had refused to let Charlotte cook again. She hadn’t protested as she had the writing on the Spear to translate.

“So, your neck is alright?” Chloe asked, not knowing what else to say.

“Of course, Detective. Stop asking the same question over and over.”

“OK,” Chloe nodded. “You think Maze and Trixie will come home for lunch?” It had been several hours since they'd left to Bend with Dan and Amenadiel.

“How should I know? She’s your offspring.”

“And she’s your demon,” Chloe retorted.

Lucifer snorted. “Not anymore. The free will and all that...”

“Yeah,” Chloe agreed, “we all have it, don’t we?”

“Well, some of us are held on a pretty short leash,” Lucifer commented.

“Hm. But at least we can think whatever we want. Feel whatever we want...”

“Some of us, yes.”

“It’s not like God controls us all the time...”

Lucifer frowned at her. What was she trying to accomplish? “No, but He certainly loves to put things into motion.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Linda and God appearing in the room. Lucifer noticed God’s borrowed body looked a bit worse for wear, yet He was smiling triumphantly.

“Oh! You’re awake, Son! Good! We had a breakthrough! I remembered something!” God yelled happily.

Lucifer stopped slicing the meat and turned to Him. “Really? And what’s that? Your children’s birthdays?”

“What? No,” God replied, looking at the four intent faces. “It wasn’t me who closed the Gate of Heaven. It was someone else!”

Lucifer raised his eyebrows, waiting. “Don’t leave us in suspense then! Who was it?”

“Well, I don’t know that, but -”

Lucifer barked with laughter. “And that’s it? That’s the big breakthrough? What good is that information to us?”

“Well, I saw him activate the Gate and squeeze out just before it closed completely. He had wings so I think it must have been the traitor.”

“And that means that he’s here, on Earth,” Linda finished.

“So the key from the Rider’s cell can be too,” Vanessa concluded.

“Alright,” Lucifer said. “What did he look like? If you describe him properly I can probably identify him. Even though it’s been millennia since I’ve seen most of my siblings. They weren’t exactly eager to come for a visit after you kicked me out.”

God shook His head. “I didn’t see him. I mean, I did, but… it was all hazy. I just remember a shape with wings and that’s all.”

Lucifer glared at him. “Ah, very helpful indeed!”

“Son, it took me a lot of effort to remember this,” God complained, frowning. “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t be so argumentative.”

Lucifer snorted. “Well, Dad, I’d appreciate a lot of things too. I guess we can’t always have what we wish for.”

God shook His head again. “I really don’t understand you, Son. But I know I don’t like this attitude of yours at all.”

“What else is new?” Lucifer muttered.

“Actually,” God looked at Linda and then back at Lucifer, “I talked to the doctor and we agreed that it would be beneficial to have a session with her. You and me together, I mean.”

“Oh, really?” Lucifer glanced at Linda who seemed to shrink under his stare. Was she on his Dad’s side now? Trying to turn him into a good son?

“Yes,” God continued, oblivious to the change in Lucifer’s mood. “We should talk things through. Talk about your behavior...”

My behavior?”

“… and the resentment you apparently feel towards me. I’d really like us to be more... friendly. Like father and son should be.”

“Like father and son?” Lucifer repeated, incredulous, his eyes glistening with suppressed pain as rage slowly built up inside him.

“Yes,” God nodded eagerly. “If there’s something bothering you, I want you to feel comfortable telling me.”

“Alright then!” Lucifer yelled.

“Really?” God asked, not believing it was so easy to convince him.

“Yes, why not! Let’s do it. Let me explain my resentment to you! It’s actually quite fitting as the reason for it is standing right next to me,” he pointed at Chloe.

Linda shook her head, seeing a disaster was on its way. “No, Lucifer, no! Not like this!”

“Why not, Doctor? You think it’s a great idea to talk about things, so let’s do it. Dad deserves to know what He’s done! So He can pay accordingly!” Lucifer spat, his eyes turning red.

“Lucifer,” Chloe whispered, fearing he was about to do something very stupid. “Don’t do something you -”

“No!” God interrupted her, all alert now, recognizing He was about to finally get answers. “Let him talk. I really want to know what’s going on here.”

Lucifer smiled broadly, but his eyes were cold. “Well, in that case, let me introduce to you Detective Decker, your latest miracle.”

“Miracle?” God repeated, confused.

“Yes, Dad. You see, Chloe here, wasn’t conceived like everybody else. No, she was – is – special. You, being the old manipulative autocratic bastard that you are, sent Amenadiel to Earth some thirty five years ago to bless Chloe’s parents to bring her into existence.”

God looked at Chloe, her face pale and her eyes wide. She was clearly uncomfortable and was looking at Him like she expected Him to do something. But what, He had no idea. He didn’t understand. “Why?” He asked.

Lucifer scoffed. “That’s the million dollar question. And you know what? I have the answer for you! You created her and put her in my path to control me!”

“How could creating Chloe control you?” God asked, His confusion growing.

“Lucifer,” Chloe pleaded. “Don’t.”

Lucifer turned to her sharply. Was she on his Father’s side too? “Why, Detective? Father wanted to talk about things so that’s what we’re doing.”

Chloe shook her head but Lucifer ignored her. “First of all, she’s immune to my charms, so I can’t even get her to reveal her true desires to me.”

“So?” God prodded.

“That’s actually a funny story.” Lucifer snorted and turned to Chloe. “You remember the two weeks several months ago that I wasn’t returning your calls, Detective?”

Chloe nodded tentatively.

“That was because I thought that the reason for you being immune to my ability was so that I wouldn’t find out you had been sent to kill me.”

Chloe gasped, taking a step back, looking at Lucifer in disbelief. “How could you think that?” Had he trusted her so little?

Kill you?!” God exclaimed, hurt by the accusation. “Why would you think I’d send someone to kill you? That’s preposterous!”

“Is it, Dad?!” Lucifer yelled. “Because, you see, the Detective isn’t just immune to my charms, she also makes me vulnerable. Both… emotionally,” Lucifer admitted reluctantly as he glanced at Chloe, “and physically.”

“What?” Chloe cried. Lucifer hadn’t shared that part with her last night.

“I’m as mortal as a human when she’s around,” Lucifer added and pressed the point of the knife he was holding into his palm. Blood ran from his hand as the knife pierced the skin.

Chloe gasped. “Lucifer!” She grabbed his bleeding hand and wrapped a towel around it.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” God cried. “Surely killing you can’t be the reason I created her!”

“No,” Lucifer agreed, “it wasn’t. It was something more refined than that.”

“Lucifer,” Linda warned, “stop right there!”

“But I’m not finished yet, Doc. This is a session and you always say that I should be honest!”

“This is not a session, as you very well know, Lucifer!” Linda retorted in her most authoritative voice. “You’re just getting carried away by your emotions.”

“Well, you always say I should get in touch with them. So here I am. Taking your advice!”

“Lucifer,” Chloe pressed his injured hand tightly, making him gasp in pain. “That’s really enough! I don’t like this!”

Lucifer snorted. “Well, don’t pretend you don’t like me, Detective. You have no choice in the matter, remember?” Lucifer turned back to God. “Because He made you this way. Liking me whether you want to or not.”

“What are you saying, Son?”

“You made her have feelings for me. So I would care for her in return.”

God frowned while Chloe closed her eyes, unable to look at the shocked faces anymore.

Lucifer continued, ignoring the mood in the room. “Now all you have to do is threaten her well-being and I come running like the little obedient son you always wanted me to be!”

“No!” God shook His head, not believing it.

“Do you deny it then?!” Lucifer yelled.

God glanced at Chloe and then back at Lucifer, spreading His arms in exasperation. “How can I deny something I have no memory of? As I see it, there’s a much more reasonable explanation for putting her in your path. I mean look at how old you are and you still don’t have a girlfriend! My guess is I was just doing you a favor!”

“A favor!” Lucifer spat. “You took away Chloe’s free will! You made her have feelings she didn’t want! She had no choice!”

“I’m standing right here, Lucifer!” Chloe yelled, angry now. “And I think I know when someone’s manipulating me!”

“No, you don’t, Detective!” Lucifer retorted, making Chloe fume.

God shook His head. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? Why would I do that?!”

“I told you! To make me do whatever you wanted!”

“I want you to be happy!”

Lucifer laughed humorlessly. “Oh, please! That’s the lamest line I’ve ever heard from you! Why do you even keep pretending you care about me? You know I don’t buy it!”

God frowned, His anger diminishing when He realized Lucifer refused to believe that he was loved. “Son, why do you insist that people don’t love you?”

“What?!”

“How did you come to the idiotic conclusion that Chloe’s feelings weren’t real? Why can’t you just accept that she loves you? Why can’t you accept that I love you?”

“Because it’s not true! You cast me out! You threw me out of my home and condemned me to be a torturer for eternity! Hell, according to mum, you even wanted to destroy me! And for what? Because I wanted to go my own way? If you call that ‘love’, Dad, then one of us must have a wrong definition of the word!” Lucifer bellowed, his voice growing in volume.

God blinked, turning deathly pale. “I...” He stammered and shook His head. “No -”

“So please, stop trying to be nice! Because I don’t want it! I don’t want you! I want you out of my life as soon as the Apocalypse is done!”

God gulped and nodded jerkily. “Alright. If that’s what you wish, Son...”

“It is,” Lucifer rasped, his voice thick with emotions.

God nodded once and averted His gaze. He walked out of the room silently with His head bowed.

“Well, looks like the session is over,” Lucifer said bitterly and walked to the veranda.

“Excuse me,” Chloe mumbled, her face red with embarrassment. She fled upstairs, not turning back.

Scheiße,” Johann whispered as Chloe’s footsteps faded.

“Fuck!” Vanessa yelled and punched the table hard. “You have to fix this!” she looked at Linda like it was her fault.

Linda groaned. Yeah, that would be the highlight of her career.

“Whaaat was that?” Ella exclaimed as she opened the door and walked out of the computer room. She had a pressure mark on her cheek from the keyboard and her eyes were red; she must have been sleeping. The next second Charlotte appeared, coming downstairs.

“What happened? I heard yelling.”

Vanessa opened her mouth to answer but the noise of an engine stopped her. She ran out of the house but it was too late. One of the cars was gone and Vanessa suspected God with it. She jumped into another vehicle but couldn’t find the keys. She tried the second one but no keys either. She realized God must have taken them.

“Fuck it all to hell!” she screamed and kicked the car door so hard that it dented.

Chapter Text

A shop in Bend, Oregon

Maze wasn’t convinced yet she liked the gun. It sat nicely in Trixie’s hands and the trigger made no resistance when pulled (she had tried) but the color was a little bit… childish. But color wasn’t what made a gun a good one, was it?

“What about that one?” Trixie pointed at the shelf behind the shop assistant as she held the big gun with one hand, resting it against her tiny shoulder.

Maze glanced at the weapon on the shelf and shook her head. “Too big for you. You won’t be able to reach the trigger easily when you stock the rifle against your shoulder.”

Trixie nodded solemnly and let Maze take the one she had in her hands to examine it further.

“Is this the best you have?” Maze asked the shop assistant, her face fierce. She had a feeling he didn’t take his job too seriously and was simply trying to sell whatever was the most expensive, ignoring the customers’ needs.

“They’re all the best quality,” the short teenager answered. His face was full of big red spots and he wore glasses with lenses so thick they could be used in a microscope. He didn’t sound very convincing.

“What’s the caliber?” Maze asked.

The boy squinted at Maze, his mouth agape. “It’s a toy.”

“Duh!” Maze replied and waited for the answer. When it didn’t come, she prompted, “We need to know how far and how accurately this thing can shoot. It might be a matter of life and death.”

The boy nodded awkwardly, wondering what her deal was. “I guess I can bring you a bottle of water to fill it. But go outside to try it, OK?”

“Sure,” Maze said and rolled her eyes as the boy went to get them the water.

“Are you sure this will work?” Trixie asked.

“Positive!”

When Decker had locked all their guns in the cellar to prevent Trixie getting to them, Maze had realized that the child was left completely defenseless. Chloe could be so silly sometimes... But luckily she knew how to arm the little devil so the mother couldn’t complain. “We’ll just get some holy water to fill it with. No demon will get you with this.”

Trixie beamed at her, making Maze grin back. Oh, she loved it when the little girl cracked a smile like that. And just for her. It always made her day.

Maze’s phone rang and after listening for a few moments, her smile vanished. “What am I? A babysitter?!”

“Is that Mommy?” Trixie asked. Maze shook her head in annoyance and mouthed ‘Linda’. She spoke irritably into the phone.

“Yeah, but Trixie’s no baby. God is! Why do I have to go looking for Him?”

“God went missing?” Trixie’s eyes grew big.

“Apparently,” Maze answered her as she ended the call and pocketed her phone. “No time for a demonstration,” she said and threw some money on the counter, leaving the shop with the green-and-pink gun.

“Are we going to look for Him now?” Trixie asked.

“Well, I’m not happy about it either, but Linda asked. And she said ‘please’,” Maze added with disgust.

“What about Dad and Amenadiel?”

Oh, yeah, they’d left them to do the boring food shopping while they’d escaped to the toy shop. “I’ll call them.”

*******

On the road from Lucifer’s house to Bend, Oregon

God sped down the road, far away from the house. He needed to get away. Because that was clearly what Lucifer wanted Him to do. Get away from them. Where He was going, He currently had no idea.

“Kill my own son! How could such a thing even cross his mind? What am I? A monster?” He complained, His eyes on the road, His hands shaking with agitation.

“Am I supposed to answer that?”

God looked at the bald, ugly man in the passenger’s seat. He was looking at Him with blue, watery eyes that seemed too small for his pale, wrinkled face. He looked like he’d asked the question out of politeness, not really wanting to have a conversation with Him. God wasn’t sure why He’d brought Hirschel with Him – maybe because the Jew was just sitting outside – but here they were, together on their way somewhere even God didn’t know.

“No,” God said, “you don’t have to answer that. It was a rhetorical question.”

“What kind of help do you require from me?” Hirschel asked.

“Help?” God glanced at him questioningly.

“You said you needed my assistance before you pushed me into the car.”

God wrinkled His nose, trying to remember. Had He really done that? The time between Lucifer’s accusation that He had wanted to kill Him and starting the car was somewhat hazy. “I don’t know yet,” He admitted.

Hirschel said nothing else, he just leaned back on the seat and closed his eyes.

They arrived at Bend in about twenty minutes. The town seemed rather lovely, quiet as traffic was sparse on an early Sunday afternoon. God steered the car over the river and through the streets, looking around, happy He was in a civilization for a change. He loved the town already; trees everywhere, no ugly high buildings, a coffee bar here, a vegan kitchen there (oh, He hated vegan!).

Suddenly the car started to jerk. God managed to pull over before it stopped completely.

“Oh, hell,” He groaned as He noticed they were out of gas. And to top it all off, He realized He had no money and no credit card to buy any. He should have stopped by His room and picked up His wallet before he’d left. But it would have probably spoiled His dramatic exit.

He got out of the car reluctantly. Man, it was cold! Heavy clouds covered the sky, preventing any sunlight from warming the air. God regretted not bringing at least a jacket with him.

He knocked on the passenger's side window and beckoned to Hirschel to get out.

The ancient Jew didn’t have a jacket either, just the baggy brown shirt and pants Vanessa had bought him a few days ago. But he obviously didn’t care what temperature it was. God wondered if he ever changed or washed.

Hirschel looked at Him questioningly. “This is where we were headed?”

God looked around the almost empty street with its lovely houses and spotted a sign pointing the way to the Old Historic St. Francis of Assisi Church. A memory of Peter Stuart, the person whose body He’d borrowed, suddenly flashed; the peace a good sermon had always brought. And it was Sunday! “This way,” He pointed, and started to march. Hirschel followed Him slowly.

A few minutes later a high red-bricked building appeared, looking almost menacing with the gray clouds hanging above it. But the door was wide open and it gave God hope he would find… something.

“Let’s go,” God said and walked into the church. He stopped and blinked. There were quite a lot of people inside, but most of them were lost souls. The church must have been like a beacon to the dead but they just wandered around aimlessly. They were unnoticed by the living, who were sitting in the pews quietly, probably praying. An older, blonde lady literally blocked their path at the door.

“Welcome to the St. Francis,” she said in a sweet voice and with a smile so wide all her teeth were visible. “My name is Nancy. I’ve never seen you two here before. Are you in Bend on vacation?”

“Actually... I’m spending some quality time with my family,” God answered.

“That’s nice.”

“Could be better. Excuse me, dear lady, but is there gonna be a sermon?”

Nancy giggled at God’s endearment and then made a sad face. “Oh, I’m sorry, the morning service ended an hour ago. But you can sit here and pray if you want to… Or you can go to confession; it can be helpful for a soul to unburden. Father Sanders is a great listener. And it doesn’t matter if you’re not Catholics yourselves...” her tone suggested she wanted to know who the visitors were.

“Well, I guess I’m not picky. A church is a church,” God replied, thinking about trying confession. Maybe the priest could provide advice on what to do about Lucifer. Then He remembered Hirschel. “But he’s Jewish.”

“As was our Lord,” Nancy added with a tight smile.

“I’m not,” Hirschel answered.

“Excuse me?” Nancy asked.

“I was baptized in 99.”

“Oh, in the panic before the ‘End of Days’?” Nancy nodded knowingly, remembering how many people had come to them in 1999 for baptism fearing it might be the end of the world.

“There was no panic. Common people didn’t count years back then,” Hirschel replied, making Nancy frown in confusion.

“Really? You got baptized?” God asked, surprised the old man had done something like that.

“I thought it might help.”

“Of course it helps,” Nancy exclaimed. “God will embrace you now.”

God and Hirschel looked at each other. “No,” they said at the same time, making Nancy blink.

“You know what?” God started, seeing a woman leaving the confessional, “I’ll take confession after all. Just wait for me, OK?” He told Hirschel and headed to the small wooden structure.

*******

Lucifer’s house, near Bend

Chloe lay on the bed in her room, spooned against a pillow she clutched to her chest like a safe vest. The embarrassment and anger at Lucifer were gone now and the only emotion that was left was hurt. He’d suspected she was sent to kill him. Had he really believed that she could do that? How could he? She had never done anything to hurt him. She had never given him a reason not to trust her. She had never lied to him!

A soft knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. “Chloe?” Linda’s voice called. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah.”

“May I come in?”

Chloe sat on the bed and wiped away her tears. “Sure,” she said reluctantly.

Linda poked her head inside before walking in. She shut the door behind her. “We should probably talk,” she said at last.

Chloe nodded, knowing very well what she wanted to talk about.

“I’m sorry about what Lucifer said.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

Linda shook her head. “I knew this could happen - Lucifer’s pent-up frustration exploding. I should have tried harder to prevent it from happening.”

“We all have a lot on our shoulders right now, with the Apocalypse and all. And besides, this is Lucifer. Not coping with his emotions is his M.O.” Chloe sighed. “I’m not sure I could deal with his emotions either. Sometimes they seem too intense for a person to bear.”

Linda took a step closer to the bed, her eyes urgent. “Please, don’t give up on him,” she pleaded.

Chloe frowned, looking up at the doctor. “I’d never do that.”

Linda breathed a sigh of relief and sat on the bed next to her. “Good. Because you leaving him… it would shatter his soul.”

Chloe nodded. “Do you really believe that God put me here to manipulate Lucifer? That He… made me feel… this?” Chloe asked, gesturing vaguely at herself.

Linda shrugged. “That’s what Lucifer told me. I never even questioned it. I thought that he knew it for sure. But now...” she trailed off, shaking her head.

Chloe smiled bitterly as she realized that almost everybody had known about her origins before she had.

“It seems a bit of a stretch,” Linda finished.

“Yeah, no arguing there.”

“I think it’s his fear nurturing this conviction that he and you aren’t real.”

“Fear?” Chloe asked.

Linda nodded. “He chickened out when you were supposed to have your first date.”

Oh, yeah, she remembered that!

“And when you kissed,” Linda shook her head, remembering Lucifer’s reaction. “He’s just been making excuses not to be with you. Anything to avoid possible heartache. Anything to avoid believing that what you have is real.”

“He thinks he’s not worthy,” Chloe added, remembering his speech on the beach. It almost seemed like there were two versions of Lucifer. One he showed to the world - the self-confident, audacious, unfazed, flawless alpha male – and the other one he reserved solely for her in some preciously honest moments.

“He’s scared you’ll realize one day that he’s not good enough for you,” Linda specified. “That you’ll reject him as soon as he makes a mistake.”

Chloe sighed. Yeah, and where had that come from… “Looks like God is defining Lucifer’s life even now. How can I compete with Him? How can I persuade Lucifer I’m not his Father when he sees Him in everything?”

“That will be the tricky part,” Linda answered. “I still hope I can get the two of them to have a session with me and talk things out a little. And then, it’s just a lot of patience and unflagging persuasion that you’re being honest and your feelings are real.”

*******

Charlotte walked out onto the veranda. Tiny raindrops were falling from the gray sky, making the air moist and visibility poor. She blinked droplets out of her lashes and made a decision. Her son had been standing at the shore of the lake for about thirty minutes now, not moving at all, just getting wet and cold. She drew the jacket tighter around herself and started to walk precariously down, her heels sinking deep into the grass.

“Lucifer!” she called as she reached the sandy shore.

Lucifer didn’t turn, just sighed. “What do you want, Mother?”

“I’ve come to check on you. I heard you and your Father had a fight.” She walked to him slowly, her legs wobbly on the sand.

“Well, the whole of Bend probably heard that!” Lucifer remembered his yelling.

“Yes. Your Father took a car and drove away.”

“Ah! So He finally did something useful! Pity He didn’t take you with Him.”

Charlotte scoffed. “You don’t mean it, Son.”

Lucifer finally turned to her. “Oh, but I do, Mum.”

“I wasn’t the one who created Chloe to -”

“No,” Lucifer interrupted her. “You just used her to manipulate me!”

“But then I went to Hell for you to help you save her!”

Lucifer shook his head. “We’ve already had this conversation, Mother. What do you want?!”

Charlotte looked guiltily into Lucifer’s eyes. “I wanted to apologize. For what I did. I just wanted to get home so badly, I didn’t care that I hurt you!”

Lucifer gave a bark of laughter. This was getting ridiculous. “What is this? Are you trying to compete with Dad over me? To win ‘the favorite parent’ game?”

“No competition. No game,” Charlotte answered, looking honest. But Lucifer knew she could be an excellent liar if she wanted to. “I still want what I’ve always wanted. My family back. You back.”

“So, you want a relationship with me like Dad does?” Lucifer asked skeptically.

“Oh, please,” Charlotte said, “He just wants a relationship with you because He needs you to stop the Apocalypse.”

“And you don’t?”

“I don’t care how the Apocalypse ends as long as my family is safe. I think you should think about the deal the Rider offered you.”

Lucifer narrowed his eyes - now that sounded suspicious. “You’d really let the Rider have the keys in exchange for sparing a few lives? And let it destroy everything else? If you don’t care about the outcome of the Apocalypse, what are you even doing here?”

“I care about you,” Charlotte answered, touching Lucifer’s cheek gently. “And Amenadiel. And you both seem to like the humans. Can’t fathom why. But I’m on your side. And I’ll always be on your side. Whatever side you choose.”

Lucifer nodded, his brain working fast… It was taking her too long to translate the Spear. She had gotten out of Hell only a few short months before the Rider had... “You know, Mum, you never told me how you got out of Hell.”

Charlotte took a step back, her hand falling from Lucifer’s face. “Well, the door opened.”

“Just like that?”

Charlotte shrugged. “I woke up from a sleep and it was open. So I fled.”

“I see,” Lucifer answered, frowning.

“You’re not back to that silly suspicion that I have something to do with the Apocalypse, are you? You do remember that one of those creatures actually ate two of my daughters?!”

Lucifer nodded jerkily, remembering Azrael and the sister he’d never known. But how certain could he be that Charlotte really loved her children? Her actions up til now hadn’t been those of a loving parent. What if she was just after some mindless revenge? Lucifer turned and walked away, not ready to entertain the thought that his mother could’ve actually had a hand in starting the Apocalypse.

*******

St. Francis of Assisi Church, Bend

“Hello, My Son,” a young voice greeted God as soon as He closed the door of the confessional behind Himself.

“Ugh, this is claustrophobic.”

“We don’t know each other, do we?” asked the young, slightly stuttering voice behind the wooden window.

“No. I’m just passing by. But I need a…” God trailed off.

“Confession?”

God thought for a moment. Maybe He did need that but the problem was that He didn’t remember what He needed to confess. “Advice.”

“If it’s within my power to help, I will. I’m Father David Sanders.”

“Well, I’m -” God paused, “no-one important.”

“We all are important in our Lord’s eyes.”

“Trust me, I’m not! At least not right now.”

“Why would you think that?”

“I seem to… have failed my own son.”

“Is the advice you seek about your family then?” the priest asked.

“Yes.”

“What’s bothering you?”

“Lucifer.”

“I see. Well, the Devil can work his way into the heart of every one of us. But there’s always a way to banish him.”

“What? Oh, no. That’s not… What I meant – what I’d like to know is what you, as a man of faith, think about the relationship between God and Lucifer?”

“Oh, that’s a strange question... It’s believed that Lucifer was God’s favorite son before his rebellion in Heaven. He betrayed his Father because of his pride and vanity. He lost the battle with God’s faithful angels and the Lord threw him down into Hell as a punishment.”

“Yes, yes, I know all that,” God said impatiently, “but what about the relationship afterwards? You know, after Lucifer’s fall. Do you think that God… hates him?”

“Of course not. God loves him.”

God breathed out with relief. “I told him so, but he didn’t believe me.”

The priest didn’t know what to make of the weird comment so rather than acknowledge it said, “God loves all of His creations. Even the worst of the sinners.”

God brows furrowed. He didn’t like this answer. “So what you’re saying is that God loves Lucifer not because he’s His son but because God simply loves everyone?”

“Yes.”

“That’s ridiculous! Why should God love some child rapist just because he happened to be born?”

“Everyone has a chance for redemption.”

“Even God Himself?”

There was a pause. “God is the light that leads us in our darkest moments. He has no sin. There’s nothing to redeem.”

God sighed. “I know people who would disagree.”

“It’s alright to doubt. God wants everyone to find their own way to Him.”

Now God rolled His eyes. “Fine, fine. Can we return to Lucifer?”

There was another pause. “My Son, why are we talking about Satan? I thought you wanted to talk about your son.”

“Well, let’s say there are some similarities between the two of them.”

“I see. Has your son done something bad then? Has he betrayed you?”

God hesitated. How much of the things that were in the Bible were actually true? “Something like that, yes. But I think that… when punishing him I might have overreacted.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I kicked him out of Hea- … home and made him live in a horrible hole full of sinners and violent beasts! Perhaps I betrayed him too. Abandoning him like that.”

“Jesus teaches us that forgiveness is better than punishment. Those who repent shall be forgiven.”

“It’s a bit late for that now...”

“It’s never too late. Forgive your son for whatever he did and ask him for forgiveness yourself. Guide him on his journey to find God again.”

“I’m afraid God is exactly what he doesn’t want to find.”

*******

On a street in Bend

“Where would God go? What do you think?” Maze asked.

Trixie shrugged. “If I could choose, I’d go to Mars.”

“Linda said that the pickup God took had barely enough gas to get Him here and He probably has no money to buy more. So He won’t make it to Mars.”

“That’s quite silly not to take money when you want to go somewhere.”

“He’s male,” Maze replied like it should explain it. “And according to Linda He was in an emotional state.”

Trixie nodded. “When I’m sad I love to go somewhere that can cheer me up. Somewhere they like me. Like to Lucifer’s. Before I met you,” she added hastily.

Maze chuckled. “The problem is that no-one likes the old man.”

“Not even the people in churches?”

Maze stopped and looked at the little girl. “Hm. That’s actually a great idea. We should check it out.”

Trixie beamed.

“Besides, there’s one more thing they have in churches.”

“What?”

“Holy water.”

Trixie’s eyes lit up as she looked at her new gun.

“Let’s go find us a church, partner!” Maze exclaimed and gave Trixie a high five.

The first church they found was just closing, the priest swearing he hadn’t met God today. So they took a taxi and let it take them to the next one.

“Have you come looking for God?” an older blonde woman greeted them warmly at the entrance.

Maze scowled. “How the fuck did you know that?”

The woman flinched at the swearing. “Well, this is His house.”

Maze rolled her eyes as understanding dawned. “Sure it is. Is He at home?”

“He’s always at home for those who want to embrace Him.”

“I’m not laying a finger on the dirty old man!” Maze shivered with revulsion at the idea. She felt Trixie tug her hand and looked down at the girl. “What?”

Trixie pointed at one of the few people in the pews and Maze recognized Hirschel.

“I’m Nancy, by the way. Why don’t you start by reading this brochure,” the woman extended her hand, “maybe it will help you find your way to the Lord.”

“No, we’re good, we’ll just ask around,” Maze nodded towards Hirschel and left Nancy staring at her in confusion.

“You’ve wandered far from home, Wandering Jew,” Maze said with a smirk. Hirschel didn’t react. He was staring at the huge white altar with a statue of St. Francis in the middle like it was the most fascinating thing he’d ever seen.

“Hirschel!” Maze hissed and waved her hand in front of his eyes.

Hirschel finally turned and squinted at her and Maze realized he was actually trying to remember her. “I’ve been kidnapped,” the old man said eventually.

“By the powerless retiree?”

“He was almightily convincing.”

“Yeah, sure. Where is He then?” Maze looked around the almost empty church while Trixie sat on one of the pews and opened one of the Bibles left there for worshipers.

Hirschel shrugged. “Somewhere here.”

Maze rolled her eyes. She wasn’t in the mood to sweep the place. The hallowed ground made her stomach churn and her head spin. So she took a deep breath and yelled, “I know you’re here, you old goat! You left your Jew here! Don’t make me come after you!”

 

God’s conversation with the priest was rudely interrupted by a familiar booming voice. He opened the door and looked out. “The Devil’s sent his demon,” He muttered but the priest heard Him.

“You shouldn’t talk thus about women, My Son. They deserve our respect the same as any other human being.”

 

Nancy hurried to the intruder. “Shh,” she shushed Maze, her smile all gone. “People are praying here.”

“Yeah. Maybe if they pray loud enough, God will actually hear them.”

“Well, I can hear you!” God said as He walked out of the confessional.

“And will you answer my prayers?” Maze asked with a smirk. “I pray you weren’t such an ass.”

“Very funny, Mazikeen,” God replied, frowning. He looked at Nancy apologetically and the woman left with her lips pressed together reproachfully.

“What are you doing here?” God asked.

“Looking for you, genius. You should work on your getaway technique.”

“Did Lucifer send you?”

“I’m my own demon now,” Maze hissed as she stood tall and took a menacing step closer to the old man.

“Yes, I’ve heard,” God answered. “So why are you here?”

“To bring you back.”

“Can’t live without me, can you?”

Maze snorted and took one more step closer so her face was mere inches from His. “If it were up to me, I would lock you in Hell for the whole of eternity for what you’ve done. Right next to your ex. You could have a screaming competition.”

“Why don’t you, then? You’re your own demon after all. And I am rather powerless right now.”

Maze’s mouth twitched with temptation. Oh, the fun she would have with Him… “We don’t have time for playing now. Later.”

God nodded, not doubting she meant it.

“Now I’ll call us a lift home.”

“We have the truck a few blocks from here.”

“Do you have gas too?”

God shook His head. “How did you find us?” He asked, curious.

Maze nodded at Trixie who was sitting on the pew and reading the Bible. “I’ll wait outside,” she said. “The air reeks of piety in here. Don’t let the girl read too much of that stuff. It’s full of violence and her mother disapproves of that.”

God let Maze go and turned to Trixie. He liked the little girl even though they had barely said two words to each other.

“May I sit?” He asked and pointed next to her.

“Sure,” Trixie answered and moved her new gun to make a place for Him. “Did you get into trouble? Is that why you ran away?” Trixie asked.

“Something like that,” God answered as He realized the visit to the church was rather disappointing. The priest said He should forgive and ask for forgiveness but the trouble was He had no idea what to forgive and what to ask to be forgiven for since He didn’t remember a thing.

Trixie closed the book and focused on God fully, all serious now. “What did you do?”

“I… had a fight with Lucifer.”

“Why?”

God shrugged. “Apparently I did something very bad in my past and now Lucifer… he doesn’t like me.”

“Like ‘not doing your homework’ bad?”

God sighed. “Worse. Apparently I created him a… friend. And he isn’t very happy about it. He thinks I did it to… to… hurt him! But he must be wrong. I did it to make him happy! I’m sure of it. So there’s no reason to be angry with me!”

Trixie nodded solemnly, looking at God with eyes too wise for her age. “When I was seven I wanted to be a princess on Halloween so Mommy bought me a really nice dress. The next year she bought me another nice dress so I could be a princess again.”

“That was nice of her, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.” Trixie heaved a sigh and God looked at her properly, sensing something wasn’t right.

“But…?” He prodded.

“I didn’t want to be a princess anymore.”

God nodded, understanding. “She assumed she knew what you wanted instead of asking you.”

Trixie nodded.

“So you’re saying that Lucifer’s angry with me not because I made him a friend but because I didn’t ask him if he wanted one?”

Trixie shrugged. “Maybe he doesn’t want this friend. Maybe he wants to find his own friends.”

“You know, you might be right,” God said, thinking about it. “Even if my intentions were good I did the wrong thing. I did what I wanted without asking him what he wanted.” He looked back at Trixie who had her nose wrinkled in concentration. “Maybe there is something to ask forgiveness for after all.”

“When Mommy and I have a fight we always talk about it later, we hug and have an ice cream. Or some chocolate cake.”

God nodded. “That sounds like great advice.”

Trixie beamed at Him. “Do you know where I can get holy water here?”

God frowned. “What for?”

Trixie showed Him her new weapon. “Maze says that if I fill this with holy water I can use it to shoot demons.”

“I see,” God looked at the gun. “Well, there’s a basin at the entrance. I guess you can go there and fill your new gun.”

Trixie jumped off the pew and hurried to the entrance. God stood as well but headed for the blonde lady – Nancy – who was talking to another woman.

“Excuse me,” He said as He approached them.

Nancy turned and smiled her pearly smile. “Yes?”

“I wanted to apologize for… for my friend making such a ruckus earlier. She was basically brought up in Hell, so she has no manners.”

“That’s alright,” Nancy smiled again while the other woman left, accidentally walking through a soul and shivering with the contact.

“I’m Peter Stuart by the way,” God said and extended His hand to a beaming Nancy. She took it and her eyes twinkled. “This is a very nice church. I love the decorations,” He added.

The woman giggled which was a little incongruous for a person her age. “I did most of it. Well, designed it to be precise.”

“Very nice work, indeed,” God said once again, noticing she didn’t let go of His hand as she blushed.

“There’s a festival in the town next week if you’d like to come.”

“Oh, I’d love to. Why don’t you give me a call?” God suggested and Nancy tittered like a schoolgirl as God gave her His number.

 

“What are you doing?!”

Trixie startled at the unknown voice and spilled some of the water she was trying to get into the magazine of her new toy. She looked up at a young man with red hair, a freckled angry face and a white collar at his neck. She gulped nervously.

“This is holy water! It’s sacramental!”

“I know. I need it to fight demons,” Trixie explained.

“This is not for playing with. It belongs to God!”

“He said I can take it.”

The priest blinked. What was it with young people these days and their readiness to lie? “I don’t think -”

“What’s going on?” God asked as He came to help the girl, still happy He’d just made a new acquaintance.

The priest blinked. “You were at the confessional,” he stated, not waiting for an answer. “Is this your child? Grandchild?”

God glanced at Trixie. “In a way.”

“She’s been taking holy water without permission,” the priest complained.

“No. I permitted it,” God answered and winked at Trixie.

“Listen -” the priest started again but was interrupted by a newcomer.

“Dad!”

“Amenadiel!”

The huge man scowled as he came closer. “Did you really run away from home?”

God shrugged apologetically. “I had a fight with your brother.”

“That’s your son?” the priest looked up and up and up at the huge man’s face.

God nodded.

“But he’s black,” the priest whispered.

Amenadiel rolled his eyes while God stared at him. “I know. My eyesight might not be very good but I’m not colorblind.”

The priest opened his mouth and then closed it again, not knowing how to react.

“Let’s go, Dad. Vanessa is freaking out.”

“It’s nice to know someone cares,” God muttered as they walked out of the church to the waiting car with Dan at the wheel. Seeing the car he took a deep breath, “I guess I’m as ready to go back as I’ll ever be.” But He stopped suddenly.

“What?” Maze asked, annoyed at all the waiting.

“Did we forget something?”

“What?” Amenadiel asked. God’s eyes widened as He remembered.

“Hirschel!” He hurried back and picked up the ancient Jew.

*******

Lucifer’s house, near Bend

When Lucifer returned to the house after his long walk around the lake (several rounds to be more precise), he found only Johann there, frying the vegetables and meat they hadn’t finished chopping. He must have done the work for them.

Johann pushed his glasses up nervously as he looked at Lucifer. He coughed slightly. “I wasn’t sure what you intended to do with the vegetables and the meat so I put it all in the pan.”

Lucifer lifted his eyebrow. “Well, I’m surprised you were brave enough to make that decision on your own,” he said mockingly, although it was only half hearted while the memory of the Grand Master, Johann and his own Father leaving him to die in the vault emerged from nowhere, bringing a surge of fresh pain.

Johann frowned and gripped the spatula tighter but said nothing.

“Or did someone order you to do it?” Lucifer pushed, not sure why he was doing it.

Nein,” Johann replied finally, not looking at the Devil.

“Good for you then! It seems you’re becoming a real man! Maybe in the next crisis you won’t actually abandon those in need of help.”

Johann turned to him. “Can you just drop it, please? Or are you going to hold this grudge forever?”

“No. Just until you die,” Lucifer smiled.

Johann spread his arms with exasperation. “What do you want me to say? That I’m a coward? That I’d rather follow orders than make decisions on my own?”

Lucifer shrugged.

Johann combed his graying blonde hair with his fingers. “Well, I’m just a historian from München, not an angel or God from Heaven to do whatever I want like defy my superiors. Especially when they’re stronger and armed.”

“Why are you dragging my Father into this? It’s not like He didn’t follow orders too.”

“He gave the Grand Master a good fight. He really tried to return for you, you know.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Lucifer muttered.

Johann shrugged, feeling uncomfortable having all of Lucifer’s attention on himself. “It’s true.”

Lucifer turned away, not wanting to look at the German any longer. Not wanting to think about his Dad, because it was all he’d been doing for the last hour or so. He looked at the stairway just as Linda descended it. She stopped at the bottom, taking in Lucifer and his rather wet clothes.

“Are you ready to talk about what happened now?” she asked quietly.

Lucifer heaved a sigh. Yeah, he should have known there was no escaping this. He nodded slowly and followed Linda upstairs.

 

They ended up in Lucifer and Amenadiel’s bedroom. It was small with the double bed, one chair and one wardrobe full of Lucifer’s clothes; Amenadiel’s were neatly folded in the corner on the floor.

The room was darker than the one Linda shared with Vanessa. It had blue wallpaper with little ships printed on it and just one small window that let barely any sunlight in.

Linda took the chair and beckoned Lucifer to sit on the bed. “Did you want to get changed?”

Lucifer smirked. “Are we here to pay for your therapy, Doctor?” he joked as he unbuttoned his shirt and took a fresh one from the wardrobe. But Linda didn’t smile.

“We should be quick about it though. Vanessa doesn’t like mixing pleasure and work. And we all know she’s the new boss here,” Lucifer added but Linda still didn’t react. He took off the wet garment and waited for a reaction. But there was none.

“Luckily we both know you can be quick with my skillful help,” Lucifer winked at her, waiting for her to blush but it didn’t come either.

“Why are you so nervous, Lucifer?” Linda asked finally.

“Nervous? I’m not nervous! I’m…” Lucifer paused, not knowing how to finish the sentence. He grabbed the clean shirt and put it on.

“If you’re not nervous, why do you think you just made those silly jokes?”

Lucifer shrugged and sat on the bed, facing Linda. “Because... I wanted you to smile?” he answered but it sounded more like a guess.

“Or maybe you wanted to restore your self-confidence by pointing out your sexual prowess because right now it might be reduced by today’s events?”

Lucifer snorted. “I assure you my sexual prowess hasn’t been reduced at all.” He shamelessly pointed at his groin. “Come and see if you want. Or rather see and then come?”

Linda nodded knowingly. “And you’re doing it again.”

Lucifer opened his mouth to protest but sadly realized that the doctor might be right. “Well, why do you think I’d be feeling… less confident?”

“It’s called caring. When you care about others, you’re afraid about their reactions to you, about what they think about you and what they feel towards you. Only people who have nothing to lose have no doubts.”

“Ah! So that’s one more thing my Father has taken from me, is it?”

“No, it’s something you’ve given to others on your own. You’re nervous because you’re afraid I’m angry with you over what you did this morning.”

“Oh, is that so? Or are you just saying that because you’re on my Father’s side?” Lucifer snapped, remembering it was apparently Linda’s idea to have a session with his Dad.

Linda shook her head. “You’re my patient, Lucifer. But more importantly, you’re my friend. I’m always on your side.”

“Really?”

Linda nodded. “Really.”

“So why did you want me to have a session with my Dad? You know I hate Him.”

“Yes, I know. And that was the reason,” Linda replied.

Lucifer shook his head, not comprehending.

“Hatred leads to nothing but destruction.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to help me avoid Him then? Because as much as I want to destroy Him, we might actually need Him yet.”

Linda shook her head. “Not His destruction, Lucifer. Yours.”

Lucifer chuckled. “Whatever do you mean? I’ve been hating Him for millions of years now and it’s actually been quite constructive. It helped me get through literal Hell and out of it too.”

“But at what cost? At what result?”

Lucifer pointed at himself. “This result. I think you liked it. And you’re not the only one.”

Linda nodded with a small knowing smile. “Hatred is a very consuming emotion. It clouds our judgment and makes us do things we wouldn’t normally do otherwise. Like your outburst this morning. You hurt people...”

Lucifer sighed. “Well, Dad had it coming. You can’t really blame me that I wanted to hurt His feelings,” he spat the last word.

“God wasn’t the only one you hurt.”

Lucifer blinked, not wanting to follow that direction. But Linda didn’t give him a choice.

“You hurt Chloe.”

Lucifer flinched.

“You used her as a weapon in your family feud. Just as you accused your Father of doing.”

“I did not!” Lucifer hissed and his eyes shone brightly red for a moment before he regained control.

“Maybe not intentionally but you did it anyway,” Linda pushed. “That’s the result of your hatred for your Dad.”

Lucifer spread his arms wide in exasperation then leaned back on them, making himself a bit more comfortable in this very uncomfortable session.

“So you want me to control my temper around Dad? After so bloody long of not being able to tell the bastard how I really feel? Well, good luck with that!”

“Will you try?”

Lucifer scowled. “Why? It’s what He deserves!”

“But you don’t.”

“Of course I don’t.” Lucifer shuffled on the bed and found a better position to sit. “Alright. Let’s say I’ll try. How do you propose I do it?”

“I want you to think about what triggered your hatred and then face it.”

“Well, that’s simple, Doctor! His condemning me to Hell for all eternity did the trick!”

Linda shook her head. “Lucifer, hatred isn’t an emotion that is caused by a single action. It’s a defensive mechanism. We tend to turn our emotions into hatred when we can’t deal with them. Like fear.”

Lucifer scoffed. “That’s preposterous! I don’t fear my Dad!”

“Or hurt,” Linda added, making Lucifer snort. “We also use hatred to assign blame to someone else for our misfortune or our own wrongdoing.”

“So now you’re saying it’s all my fault?” Lucifer yelled.

“No. I’m saying that you should think how you felt about your Dad before you started to hate Him. What you still may feel.”

Lucifer frowned. He really didn’t want to follow this path.

“I know it’s hard,” Linda said, “but without solving our past, we can’t have a meaningful future.”

“But I don’t want to have a future with Him! I was doing quite alright before He reappeared! No-one to pester me or chastise me...”

“Sure,” Linda replied, sounding sarcastic. “You were doing so well that when somebody just mentioned God you threw a fit.”

“Oh, please, I wasn’t that dramatic!”

“You punched a hole through my wall!” Linda reminded him.

“Ah, that...” Lucifer drawled dismissively.

“And the meaningful future I’m talking about is yours. You have to get rid of these daddy issues, Lucifer! And please don’t try to tell me you don’t have any!”

Lucifer closed his mouth, dismayed that Linda knew what he’d been about to say. He flexed his hands on the bed and shifted again.

“Fine,” he barked. “You want me to say it hurt when He kicked me out Heaven? Too right it did! He cast me away like useless trash! You want me to say that I blame Him for all that happened to me? Well, of course I do! I...” Lucifer paused, taking a deep breath. “I may have, according to some, done the wrong thing trying to dethrone Him, but it’s not like I wanted to kill Him. Or even hurt Him. I just wanted to be free... But the way He punished me for that, it was...”

“… too harsh,” a voice finished. Lucifer’s turned around to find God standing in the doorway.

“I’m back. Obviously,” God said nervously. “I brought you a cake,” He extended His hand with a piece of dessert on a plate. “I wanted to buy you a bottle of whiskey but Trixie talked me out of it,” He continued as He slowly walked in and sat next to Lucifer, His hand still extended.

Lucifer glanced at Linda who looked like she’d forgotten how to breathe.

“What is this?” Lucifer asked, not sure how to react to the intrusion.

“A chocolate cake,” God answered.

“The offspring’s favorite,” Lucifer added. “But that’s not what I asked, Dad. What do you want? I’m in the middle of something.”

God put the cake on the bed and took a deep breath. “I realized a few things during my… outing.”

“Like that you’re a horrible Father?”

“Something like that,” God replied.

Lucifer frowned. “And a manipulative bastard who toys with people’s lives, making them do whatever He wants just to control His children?”

God sighed. “I can’t pretend that I know why I put Chloe in your path, Son.”

Lucifer scoffed.

“But I realize now that I shouldn’t have done it without your knowledge and consent. Which I obviously did. And for that, I’m truly sorry.”

Lucifer blinked. Was He sincere or was He doing what Mother had said he’d do? “Are you, Dad? Or are you just saying it because you need me on your side?”

“I don’t need you on my side.”

“Really? And who would stop the Apocalypse then, hm? You? Amenadiel?”

God shook His head and smiled. He turned to Lucifer fully, the bed shifting under His weight. “Son, I don’t know much about you but I’m certain about one thing. Whether you’re on my side or not, you’ll do whatever it takes to stop the Apocalypse. Because this decision has nothing to do with me. I know that you truly care about people and this world. I know there’s light inside you. You may not see it but I do. We all do.”

Lucifer blinked.

“So when I’m trying to repair our relationship, it’s not because I need to do it. It’s because I want to do it.”

Lucifer stopped breathing, taken aback by God’s words. “You… you really think that?” He stammered awkwardly.

God nodded. “I really think that.”

Lucifer glanced at Linda, currently at a loss as to what to say. And he definitely didn’t want to feel so pleased by His words. No, he still hated Him! “Well, you… you didn’t think there was light inside me when you cast me into Hell!”

God closed His eyes and took a deep breath. “About that… I don’t remember anything about it, Lucifer. I… I can’t tell you the reason I did that because I don’t know.”

“Well, I know your reasons! I wasn’t as obedient as you wanted me to be so you got rid of me.”

God shook His head, having a hard time believing that. “Did I tell you that?”

Lucifer opened his mouth to answer only to realize that he wasn’t sure. It was so long ago that all the details were forgotten now.

God used His son’s silence to His advantage. “Since I can’t tell you more about this right now, I’ll make you a promise. If I – when I regain my memory, I will answer all of your questions truthfully. I will tell you about my intentions, about my reasons, about everything. No more secrets, no more manipulations, no more plans. And when you refuse to have a relationship with me then, I’ll abide by your wishes. But until that moment, can we please be…” God shrugged, searching for words, “friendly at least?”

Lucifer studied his Father. He looked honest and His words made him feel quite warm inside. But it wasn’t enough. There was one more thing he needed. “Alright. I’ll be… friendly with you until you remember but I want something in return.”

“Yes?”

“You will undo whatever you did to Chloe. Except undoing her, of course,” Lucifer added hastily.

God nodded. “If it’s in my power, then I’ll do it.”

“Congratulations, Dad. It seems you’ve made a deal with the Devil,” Lucifer joked, not feeling particularly light-hearted.

God smiled back and then was wise enough to get up and leave.

“Well, that went well,” Lucifer pointed out as Linda finally breathed out.

“Ah...” What to say not to offend him? “Making a deal isn’t exactly what I imagined we’d be doing on the session.”

“Well, then you should try to be more imaginative,” Lucifer replied. He grabbed the cake and left.

Linda sighed and shook her head. No daddy issues solved today. And maybe it had gotten even worse now that God had admitted His guilt but Lucifer hadn’t. But maybe it was a start. Not that she had helped. She probably should have tried to direct the conversation. But the Devil and God? Oh, she would have to get used to it first. She felt so exhausted by the idea already.

*******

Chloe sat cross-legged on her bed, her chin on her palm, thinking about Linda’s words for what seemed like hours now. She needed a plan. She needed to persuade Lucifer that her feelings were genuine.

A knock interrupted her musings. “Detective? Are you asleep?”

“No. Come in,” Chloe answered and the door opened. First thing she saw was a hand with a plate and a piece of chocolate cake on it. Then Lucifer walked in.

“It’s chocolate cake,” Lucifer informed her nervously. “Father brought it to me from Bend. I thought that maybe we could share.”

Chloe smiled. “It looks like something Trixie would buy.”

“Yes. According to your spawn it’s what you bring along when you want to apologize. So I thought it might help?” Lucifer finished with a hopeful expression.

Chloe nodded. “Hm. I must admit I’m starving since we skipped lunch.”

Lucifer took it as an invitation and sat next to Chloe, giving her the cake. “Yes. Well, Johann finished the cooking. Almost. But I guess it’s more appropriate to call it dinner now.”

Chloe glanced at the clock on the bedside table. It was after 4 P.M.

“I wanted to apologize for… well, using you in my fight with Dad. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just wanted Him to know what He did. I wanted Him to know the truth.”

Chloe shook her head. “It’s not why I was hurt, Lucifer.”

“It wasn’t?”

“It’s your lack of trust in me that hurt me.”

“My… what?”

Chloe searched his eyes. “You truly believed that I was meant to kill you?”

“Well… I… didn’t know what to think when I found out you were the one making me vulnerable...” Lucifer stammered.

“We had been working together for some time then and still you didn’t trust me?”

“Detective...” Lucifer said, his voice pleading. “I’m sorry! I’ve lived through many deceptions and I wanted to trust you but I… I didn’t understand why you were here.”

Chloe nodded. “And what about now? Do you trust me now?”

“Of course I trust you!”

Chloe bit her lip, concentrating, thinking. “But still you didn’t trust me enough to show me who you are. You chose to leave when you learned that your Father put me here, rather than tell me the truth.”

“I wanted to spare you the pain!” Lucifer explained.

“By giving me another?”

Lucifer flinched, feeling like an idiot. Yeah, by sparing her the pain of knowing the truth he actually broke her heart. Even if it wasn’t real.

“You’re right,” Lucifer replied. “I should have had more faith in you.”

Chloe nodded and smiled a little. “As I should have believed you when you were telling me you were the Devil.”

“So,” Lucifer started carefully, “we’re still friends?”

Chloe nodded. Right now it would be crazy to want more from him.

“And you believe me when I say that I trust you?” Lucifer asked, looking hopeful.

Chloe hesitated. Maybe she shouldn’t push, but she needed to move Lucifer forward at least a bit. To make him understand that she liked him with all his failings.

“Detective?” There was urgency in Lucifer’s voice.

“If you really trust me, then you shouldn’t be afraid to show me.”

Lucifer understood at once but still he tried to joke his way out of it. “You’ve already seen every divine bit of me, Detective. And if you feel like you want to see it again, I won’t say ‘no’, but before you get any ideas just remember it’s all Father’s doing.”

“There’s one thing I haven’t seen yet. Your…” she paused – was it his real face? “Your other face.”

“It’s really not something you’d want to see.”

“But I do.”

Lucifer got up from the bed and paced a small circle in the bedroom, torn between fleeing and pleading with her to change her mind. But he knew she wouldn’t. And fleeing would make her think he didn’t trust her. He finally faced Chloe again, resolved to grant her her wish, because she was right. She had a right to know who she was dealing with. She had a right to know all of him. Maybe it would help her heal from the feelings God had inflicted on her. “Alright. But I must warn you. It’s... ugly.”

Chloe nodded, focused on Lucifer’s face. “OK.”

Lucifer took a deep breath. He wiped his palms on his pants as they sweated with nervousness. He realized he was stalling as something very similar to fear started to occupy his mind. No, he shouldn’t think about her reaction. He should simply… he changed.

If he wasn’t so tuned to Chloe he would have missed her reaction altogether. She tried not to flinch, not to gasp and she actually managed. But he saw her hands dug into the blanket and her breath hitch, her eyes growing round.

And then, suddenly, she stood up, raising her hand and making Lucifer take a quick step back. He stopped and blinked, realizing she’d stopped moving. “What happened?” she asked finally.

“Fires of Hell,” Lucifer replied without much thinking, still focusing on Chloe, searching for any sign of disgust. But her eyes watered and she looked… sad?

“Who did that?”

“The demons.”

Chloe gasped. “What? Why?”

Lucifer shrugged. “They didn’t like the idea of me as their ruler. They thought the fires would kill me but… I guess they should have checked before they left me there.”

Chloe shook her head, imagining how horribly painful it must have been. “Lucifer -”

“I think you should eat the cake after dinner,” Lucifer shifted back into his human form and stopped Chloe from saying more as he realized he had said too much already, making himself feel very uncomfortable. Now she probably thought him weak. “Come, Detective, we don’t want to hurt Johann’s feelings by not eating his cooking,” he added and turned, opening the door and escaping to the hall.

Chapter Text

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

Vanessa got up early and as usual she was the first to be awake. She made a light breakfast, just eggs with bread and then faced the white board hanging next to the hearth. The three columns Chloe had written on it two days ago during their brainstorm were still there; it needed updating and they needed another plan since convincing the Rider to return to the Pit hadn’t worked. (No surprise.)

She checked the first column titled ‘we have’: Lucifer – great ass - “Yeah, everybody noticed that,” she muttered and wiped off the ‘great ass’ part. She left the rest as it was – the Spear, weapons forged in Hell, human made weapons, Azrael’s blade. She was yet to see the last one since Lucifer had hidden it from everyone.

The second column, named ‘we know’ was sadly empty. Vanessa took a marker and added an angel released the Rider, he’s on Earth, might have the key.

With a sigh she turned to the last column titled ‘we can do’ and crossed off talk to the Rider. “Been there done that, hasn’t worked.” There was still one more line – kill the possessed person with Azrael’s blade. Yeah, they had discussed that. It might destroy the Rider but a quarter of Creation along with it as well. She should probably scratch that line too, but… what if they wouldn’t come up with another plan? She left it there for now, just added but a quarter of Creation could possibly implode.

“Good morning,” Johann greeted her as he walked down the stairs.

“Is it?” Vanessa muttered.

“You seem upset,” Johann said as he watched Vanessa finish writing the last line.

“Yeah, I’m upset.” She pointed at the board. “We have like... nothing on how to stop the fucking Apocalypse. And nobody even cares!”

“Of course we care,” Johann replied and walked to the coffee maker. “We’re all here, aren’t we?”

Vanessa tossed down the marker and turned to him. “It seems to me they’re all too busy caring about their relationships with each other to notice there’s an actual Apocalypse going on.”

Johann shrugged. “It’s quiet for now. No demons roaming the Earth, no Rider killing everything.”

“And that’s what frightens me. It’s like the Rider’s trying to lull us into believing nothing’s happening. Like the calm before the storm. They should really care more about that than their feelings because feelings won’t save us.”

“Caring about feelings is a human thing to do,” Johann pointed out.

“I’m talking about God and the Devil for Christ’s sake!” Vanessa opposed.

“They still seem to have that in common with humans, the whole emotions thing. Though much more out of practice.”

“They’re pathetic! I feel like I’m in a sitcom without any funny parts.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Johann replied.

“I would. Lucifer loves Chloe and she loves him but they can’t be together because she is some kind of a miracle put here by God. God desperately wants Lucifer to be His son again while Lucifer desperately wants God to show him He cares but they won’t do it because they would have to start being honest with each other first. Then there’s the Goddess making eyes at Dan, who is Chloe’s ex, and to top it all off, Amenadiel and Maze seem to be tiptoeing around each other like they have a history too. This is a madhouse! I mean the only sane creature here is probably the little girl!”

“Yes. She seems nice.”

“Yeah, she won’t stop the Apocalypse though, will she?”

Johann shrugged. “You never know.”

 

The first floor slowly filled with people as the morning progressed.

“Man, the bed was wonderful,” Ella said to Dan as she stretched and got herself a cup of tea. “Even though the Goddess kicked me off twice during the night – it was probably an accident – she’s just so tall... Did she kick you off too when you slept together?”

Dan shook his head awkwardly. Yeah, he had shared a bed with her once… So?

“Thank you for the iPad, by the way,” Ella continued, oblivious to his discomfort. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. You should probably go to Bend more often.”

Yeah, I could add shopping to my regular things to do list, Dan thought in annoyance, but aloud he said, “No problem. At least you won’t have to be stuck in that dark room the whole time.”

Vanessa observed the scene quietly from a safe distance, leaning against the wall, waiting until they were all ready to start doing something productive. The good news was that they all seemed a bit calmer and maybe even more cheerful than yesterday and even God and Lucifer seemed to get on alright.

“Here you go,” God extended His hand and gave Chloe a cup of coffee. She smiled at Him hesitantly.

“And one for you too,” God added and handed another cup to Lucifer.

“Thanks… Dad,” Lucifer replied politely although the second word sounded a bit choked.

“It’s kind of creepy,” Vanessa whispered to Johann, “the two of them acting like they’re...”

“Family?” Johann supplied. “Not that I know anything about that.”

“You’re not that old,” Vanessa commented.

“I’m not that young either,” Johann replied with a smile, not knowing why Vanessa had suddenly mentioned his age.

“I mean you can still start a family. After this is over.”

Johann nodded. “Maybe I’ll do that. And maybe you should do the same.”

Vanessa snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous. You know I won’t have a family.”

“Why not?”

Vanessa glared at him. He knew very well why but played dumb anyway. “I’m not a family type,” she replied sarcastically. “And besides, do you really think that the Templars would let me go? Me?”

“Maybe they will. If we really stop the Apocalypse, I think we will deserve some reward.”

Vanessa shook her head. “No. I can’t. I… owe them.”

“You don’t owe anything to anyone.”

“They could have killed me but they let me live. Hell, they even gave me a life, Johann! A purpose.”

“It’s not like they got nothing in return,” Johann answered, looking at her pointedly. “And besides, your life doesn’t belong to anyone but you. They have no business deciding whether you live or die. Or how you do it.”

“Have you forgotten that I killed seven of them that day? I think they had more than enough reason to kill me.”

“You were just protecting yourself.”

Vanessa smiled tightly. Yeah, she had been protecting herself alright. But still she remembered how much she had liked cutting their throats and watching them bleed to death. She stopped the ugly memories and walked to the middle of the room. As everyone seemed to be awake now, it was time to do some planning.

“May I have your attention, please?” Vanessa yelled and everyone looked at her expectantly. “I know you’re all busy with...” she trailed off, rethinking her words, “things, but we still have the Apocalypse to deal with. We should come up with a new plan since talking with the Rider didn’t go as hoped.”

“When?” Charlotte asked. “I need to do my nails.”

Vanessa glared at her. “Now!”

There was a low grumble as everyone found a place to sit. Vanessa sighed. She hadn’t expected much enthusiasm but this…

“We’re not complete,” Ella pointed out suddenly as she hopped on the couch with the new iPad in hand. “There should be thirteen of us and there’s only twelve.”

Everyone looked around, trying to figure out who was missing.

“Hirschel,” God exclaimed suddenly.

“He’s probably still asleep,” Johann said, “I’ll go get him.”

“What is it about that man that everyone still forgets him?” Lucifer asked.

As soon as Johann brought the ancient man downstairs, Vanessa got started. “For those who hadn’t noticed, which is probably everyone, I updated the board,” she pointed behind herself. “As you can see, we’re rather lacking in the ‘we can do’ area. So - any suggestions?”

Everyone stared at the board in silence.

“Let’s find the angel who let that motherfucker out of its cell,” Maze offered. “We can find out if he has the key, take it from him and lock the Rider back up.”

“And how would we find him?” Amenadiel asked. “We don’t even know who it was. How can we find someone if we don’t know who we are looking for?”

“I think it was Michael,” Lucifer replied.

“Why?” Amenadiel turned to him with a frown. “Because you two have never gotten on?”

“Do you have any other names?” Lucifer asked.

“No,” Amenadiel admitted. “I simply can’t imagine any of them doing such a thing. What would be the gain?”

“I could go under hypnosis again,” God suggested. “Maybe this time I will remember who it was.”

Linda tensed. “I’d rather not. Not after the last time. It was really… rough. I worry about your health.”

“I’m quite sure I have insurance,” God quipped but no-one smiled.

“Maybe,” Johann stammered, looking around, “we could contact the Templars. They have equipment to detect extensive supernatural activity. Maybe they could help us find the angel,” Johann paused, thinking. “Or at least they had before the headquarters blew up.”

“Did you forget about the traitor?” Lucifer pointed out.

Johann looked from him to Vanessa and then back again. “But the traitor is the angel, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed, “one of the traitors is the angel. I mean the angel couldn’t have known that Dad was in the vault when the attack on the headquarters occurred. Only the Templars knew that Dad was there. So it must have been someone on the inside of the organization. Meaning that our dear brother is working with a human.”

“Or,” Amenadiel said, “he is presenting himself as a human and has infiltrated the organization.”

“Humans can’t tell the difference,” Lucifer added.

“So if we contact the Templars,” Amenadiel continued, “and our brother is really among them, we still risk that he will expose us to the Rider.”

Chloe looked at Vanessa. “Is there someone in the organization whom you trust implicitly? If we could get one person to believe us, they could give us the database of employees and Lucifer and Amenadiel could go through the photos and find out which angel is working with the Rider.”

Vanessa glanced at Johann. He shook his head. “Only a few people have access to the human resources database. And I don’t know any of them.”

“What about the ones you do know?” Maze asked. “Couldn’t they get to the database?”

Now it was Johann’s turn to look at Vanessa for help. “Miller?” she suggested.

Johann shrugged. “He’s a soldier. He probably won’t know how to steal the database.”

“We can worry about the hows later,” Chloe said. “Can he get to it?”

“He’s a colonel, he has clearance,” Vanessa answered.

“You have military ranks in your little organization?” Lucifer asked with disgust.

“Yes, we do,” Vanessa said tetchily.

“Can you make contact without him finding out where we are?” Chloe asked next.

Vanessa nodded. “There are ways.”

“And do you think he will help us?” Dan asked. “I’d say if I was a colonel in such an organization I probably wouldn’t trust someone who works with the Devil, kidnapped God and left a crater where their headquarters used to be. No offense,” he added, looking around the room.

“None taken, Douche,” Lucifer snorted. “It’s a fairly good point. The fresh air must be doing your brain some good.”

“Yeah,” Dan nodded, staring daggers at Lucifer. “That must be it.”

“Miller is a reasonable guy,” Vanessa replied, “and loyal. I think we should risk it.”

“Oh, shit!” Ella exclaimed suddenly, staring at the iPad. “The LAPD cancelled our access to their database!”

“It was bound to happen sooner or later,” Chloe said, “since we basically fled without a word to anyone.”

“I was just going to find out if there’s anything new about Dunlap.”

“His body is most probably discarded by now like yesterday’s socks,” Lucifer replied. “After all I left the poor chap with only one hand,” he reminded them. “If I were the Rider I would rather swap bodies than wear one with skeletal fingers. Must be painful to wank with.”

“What’s ‘wank’?” Trixie asked, making Chloe glare at Lucifer.

“Ooops,” Lucifer smiled apologetically.

“Honey, why don’t you go upstairs and draw Lucifer a nice picture?” Chloe asked her daughter who obeyed with visible reluctance.

“So,” Chloe continued, “we won’t be able to use police information systems to find the Rider again. Or to stay informed about ongoing investigations.”

“One more reason to try to contact the Templars,” Vanessa pointed out. “They have their own equipment to find people of interest.”

“Ah!” Lucifer exclaimed, remembering. “By equipment you mean something like the petite Asian voyeur girl with the tiny voodoo dolls of me?”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “That one was pretty nuts.”

“Or we’ll just simply use the internet and piece the information together from websites,” Ella suggested as she started browsing the news servers.

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed, “if there’s something even more powerful than the Templars or Dad, it’s the internet.”

“Are you sure?” God challenged.

“It’s on 24/7 while you snore for eight hours every night. Not to mention that you’re completely off line right now.”

“No, I’m not,” God replied, waving His old fashioned phone in the air, “I have this.”

“Yes,” Lucifer narrowed his eyes suspiciously, “and you’ve been very busily pushing buttons since early this morning...”

“I have acquaintances,” God said mysteriously.

“Wait,” Maze said, looking at God with a gleam in her eye, “is it the old hag from the church? The one who looks like a crocodile ready to eat you when she smiles?”

“What hag?” Lucifer demanded, staring at his Father.

“Oi! Her name is Nancy and she’s no hag!” God complained. “She’s -”

“Catholic,” Maze finished.

“Hag would have been better,” Lucifer said with a snort.

“Oh, my God, you were right about the Rider!” Ella exclaimed suddenly, glancing at Lucifer. “The Feds published a list of the dead from Boron this morning and guess whose name’s on it.”

“Dunlap,” several people said at once.

“That one was easy,” Charlotte muttered.

“Were there any survivors?” Linda asked.

Ella scrolled down. “Just George and Julie Buckner, the couple who published their creepy statement about demons and angel on YouTube. But one person is missing. I guess he’s the new meatsuit of the Rider.”

“Is there a photo?” Maze asked and Ella turned the iPad so everyone could see. It was an old, almost bald man with glasses and a big nose.

Maze leaned closer to read the name, “Federico Agnellini.”

“It sounds… rather Italian,” Lucifer commented, staring at the picture.

“Huh,” Ella turned the iPad back to herself and put the name in Google. “Ahm… guys… we might have a problem besides the many we already have. The name sounds Italian because the guy is Italian. Apparently he moved to Boron from Italy to live with his niece. He retired eight months ago because of the onset of Alzheimer’s. Guess what he did for a living?” Ella turned the screen back to her audience, but this time the photo was from the past, showing a younger version of Agnellini in a scarlet red cassock with a collar and the title ‘Secretary of the Pope’ below it.

“Fuck!” Vanessa cursed as she realized what was going on. “They’re after the Pope’s key!”

“You think?” Lucifer uttered, frowning.

“It seems the Rider didn’t choose Boron to lie low as we thought but to find this person,” Maze added.

“I told you that you should have taken the key from the Pope!” Vanessa continued, quite angry now.

“Yeah, a little bit late for that, Darling,” Lucifer snapped, annoyed by her never-ending reminders of his failings.

“We must warn the Pope,” Chloe said. “The Rider may try to attack him again.”

Lucifer sighed. “I guess I can pay him another visit. Maybe I’ll get something better than tea this time.”

“And maybe this time you’ll retrieve the key from him,” Vanessa added.

“He sent it away, remember?” Lucifer reminded her. “Even he doesn’t know where it is now.”

“But he must know who he gave it to,” Vanessa argued. “And thus it can be tracked.”

“Wait!” Dan yelled. “If the Rider wants the key, why would it go after a retired secretary and not the Pope himself?”

“Because,” Ella answered, one step ahead, still staring at the iPad, “the Pope and his coworkers took a leave of absence three days ago, shortly after the attack on the Apostolic Palace and no-one has heard from them since.”

“Which means, I can’t pay him a visit and warn him,” Lucifer added, exasperation coloring his voice.

“So he’s hiding,” Chloe concluded. “And probably only those closest to him know where he has his hideouts. Like a former secretary...”

“Whose body the Rider is currently wearing,” Amenadiel finished, “and thus knows everything the secretary does.”

“We must get to the key before the Rider does!” Vanessa yelled. “Otherwise we’re screwed! We have a gigantic problem fighting one Rider. But two of them?”

“Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square,” Lucifer recited the lyrics of an old song.

“What do you mean?” Charlotte asked.

“That there be no London anymore,” Lucifer replied.

“No,” Charlotte said, “what do you mean ‘two Riders’?”

“What?” Vanessa snapped, confused.

“I don’t know what all the fuss about the Pope’s key is,” Charlotte specified.

Maze decided to provide an answer. “If the Rider gets the next key, it opens the next cell. And one and one are two. I guess it’s complex math for some.”

“But the Pope’s key isn’t the next in line,” Charlotte countered. “Amenadiel has the second key.”

Now it was Maze who was confused. “What?”

“There’s a sequence in which the cells must be opened. From one to four. Why do you think they have numbers?” Charlotte asked. “I thought you knew. It’s even in that stupid Bible. The Riders are meant to be released one by one in a certain order.” There was a silence as everyone looked at Charlotte expectantly. “Amenadiel?” she turned to her son for support.

Amenadiel shrugged. “It’s not something Father and I discussed over dinner. I know about the order but I’m not sure you can’t open the cells in another.” Amenadiel glanced at Lucifer.

“Well, don’t look at me. All Father had said when He gave me the key was ‘Here’s the key. You’re fourth in line. Don’t screw it up.’”

Vanessa shook her head. “Maybe I should contact Miller and tell him about the Pope. They could find him.”

“I’d rather leave the Templars out of it,” Lucifer said.

“Agreed,” Maze added. “Besides, I bet I can find the Pope too.”

Vanessa turned sharply to the demon. “How?”

Maze smiled. “I’m the best bounty hunter in L.A. I think it’s time for me to take my business abroad.”

Lucifer turned to his demon. “Maze, you saw the Rider. You know what it can do.”

“I have no soul. I’m safe from being eaten alive.”

Lucifer scowled at her. “All the demons work for the beast now. I bet they can eat you.”

“Good for me I’m such a sweet girl then,” Maze quipped. “All I need to do is wait for one demon to get an appetite, then smash their nose and ask for directions.”

Lucifer opened his mouth to protest further but Maze stopped him. “I’m my own demon now, remember?”

Lucifer nodded, but he didn’t feel particularly happy about it.

*******

Maze packed few necessary things; she really didn’t need much. If she needed to change, she’d just buy something new and discard the old clothes. She double checked her knives, added two guns to her weaponry, a decent sum of money Lucifer had brought from L.A. and was ready to go.

Almost.

The small human waited for her just outside the house, the morning sun illuminating her face made the sadness clearly visible. Maze sighed. Now the hard part.

“How long will you be gone?”

“I don’t know,” Maze replied truthfully. She had always told Trixie the whole truth, no embellishing or marginalizing things like the other adults tended to do. Maybe it was why Trixie liked her so much. “Couple of days most likely. Maybe a week.”

“Will it be dangerous?”

“Absolutely. Otherwise it would be no fun.”

Trixie sighed, not enjoying the danger like Maze did. “Will you call?”

“Sure I will. You’ll take care of them, won’t you?” Maze nodded to Chloe and Lucifer who were waiting next to her car.

Trixie nodded solemnly, fighting hard to prevent tears spilling from her eyes. She hugged Maze tightly and held for several seconds. “I know you’ll be fine,” she said in a muffled voice, her nose pressed to Maze’s side. “You’re Mazikeen. The most feared demon ever.”

Maze smiled, her eyes burning strangely for some inexplicable reason. Must be the damned fresh air. Trixie let go of her finally and ran inside the house.

Maze turned to Lucifer who was leaning against her Charger.

“Where will you go?” he asked.

“Portland.”

Lucifer lifted an eyebrow at that.

“There’s a gate to Hell there if I remember correctly.”

“You want to go to Hell?” Lucifer exclaimed. “I mean I know you’ve always wanted to go back down there but isn’t this the wrong time to do it? You know, with all the demons trying to kill us?”

Maze rolled her eyes. “I need to get to the Vatican as soon as possible. Going through Hell is the fastest way. Besides, you said that Hell was empty of demons when you paid it a visit last time. And if I encounter one or two, well, then we’ll have one or two less enemies to worry about.”

“I can take you to the Vatican,” Lucifer offered.

Maze shook her head. “There’s something I need to check on in Hell.”

Lucifer sighed. “Maybe I should go with you.”

Maze shook her head once more. “Who would protect the royal asses if they were discovered?”

“Can you call for help?” Chloe asked. “I mean, is there cellphone reception in Hell?”

“No,” Maze deadpanned. “I tried to make a deal with T-Mobile but they refused because they didn’t want their current customers being pestered by their dead relatives.”

Chloe laughed, realizing how silly her question had been. She took a step closer and embraced the demon. “Just be careful.”

“Sure,” Maze replied and squeezed Chloe’s ass, making her squeal and jump away from her. Lucifer snorted at seeing Chloe’s flushed face. She turned and hurried back inside the house.

Maze glanced at her former employer. “You know, when we landed on Earth almost six years ago, I imagined a lot of things about what we could do or where we could go. But saving the fucking world wasn’t one of them.”

Lucifer smirked. It was rather bizarre, the two of them trying to stop the Apocalypse. “Well, it surprised me too, the things that brought us here,” Lucifer whispered. He didn’t have to say he was talking about Chloe.

“Good luck then,” Lucifer said.

“Luck has nothing to do with it,” Maze retorted and smirked wickedly. Lucifer nodded and turned to leave but Maze’s words stopped him.

“Be nice to Decker, or I’ll cut you to pieces when I return!” She didn’t wait for an answer – it would be something idiotic anyway – and jumped into the Charger and drove away.

*******

Lucifer slowly walked the road Maze had taken, hands in his pockets, his steps long and unhurried. The sun was shining timidly through the branches of high trees and was slowly chasing away the morning mist. He knew some from the group were angry with him, especially Vanessa, for not taking the key from the Pope when he’d had the chance. Maybe he should have been more insistent. Maybe he should have used brute force. But he doubted the Pope would have just given him the key then. But if he had, maybe then Maze wouldn’t have to go find that pious imbecile.

“If you take the road to the right on the crossroad, you’ll get to Devil’s Lake.”

Lucifer turned and found Chloe walking swiftly after him.

“Devil’s Lake? Really?”

Chloe shrugged. “I saw it on the map I found in the house. I thought I’d go investigate. Do you want to join me?”

Lucifer nodded and fell in step with Chloe, the two of them walking silently for a few minutes.

“She’ll be fine,” Lucifer said suddenly, turning his head.

Chloe nodded, not saying anything.

“She’s a demon. She was forged in Hell. It’s her home.”

“I know. I remember her sharing this information.”

“I mean she can be really reckless sometimes, but she’s smarter than she looks.”

“Of course. She helped Trixie with math once.”

“So you don’t have to worry about her,” Lucifer concluded.

Chloe nodded, smiling slightly. “Alright. I won’t.”

“Good. It’s settled then. No worries,” Lucifer finished as they neared the crossroad. “How far is the lake?”

“About four miles.”

“Four miles?” Lucifer repeated, dismayed that someone would want to walk such a length for nothing but a lake. He stopped and looked at Chloe. “You really want to walk there?”

Chloe shrugged. What was she supposed to say? That she wanted to be alone with him and therefore came up with that excuse? Maybe she could lie. Or at least not tell the whole truth. “It’s worth seeing,” she said and withdrew a map with photos from her pocket. She handed it to Lucifer, pointing at the picture of Devil’s Lake.

“See, worth seeing,” Chloe said awkwardly as Lucifer stared at the photo of a blue lake. He seemed to disagree with Chloe’s opinion though.

“What the bloody hell is that? It’s not a lake. It’s a puddle!”

Chloe giggled. “Well, as far as lakes go, this one isn’t exactly the biggest. But it’s still lovely.”

“Lovely?” Lucifer repeated, dismayed. “The Devil’s Lake – lovely? I mean it should be terrifying! Like me.”

Now Chloe started to laugh openly. Lucifer glared at her, feeling offended.

“Sorry,” Chloe said while trying to stop laughing. “It’s just, you’re not very terrifying.”

“Don’t you remember my other face?” Lucifer asked, hoping that reminding her would change her mind.

“I do,” Chloe replied, her laugh dying quickly.

“Good.”

“But it’s not terrifying.”

Lucifer frowned. “Maybe you didn’t look too well.”

Chloe shrugged. “Or maybe not everything is as bad as you believe it to be.”

“You remember how people scream when I show them?”

“I do,” Chloe nodded. “But they don’t scream because your face is terrifying, they scream because they see something they’ve known only from stories. And besides all those people you showed your face to were criminals, knowing the Devil would come for them one day. They just probably didn’t expect you to show up so quickly,” Chloe finished with a smile.

Lucifer shuffled his feet. “You honestly don’t find my other face terrifying?”

“Why should I? I know it’s still you. Whatever you wear on the outside, you’re still the same on the inside.”

“Right,” Lucifer said, staring Chloe in the eyes. She was looking at him like she meant every word. So much for his hope that his other face could help her heal from God’s given affection. “Father really did a number on you, didn’t He?”

“Why? Because I’m not scared of you? Linda saw your face too and she isn’t afraid of you, is she?”

“Well, no, but -”

Chloe took a step closer. “Vanessa told me she’d seen your other face in the headquarters and yet she isn’t afraid of you, is she?”

“Johann did too and he screamed like a banshee. I’d bet my trousers he’s scared to death of me.”

“Johann is scared of his own shadow,” Chloe whispered and took another step closer, standing so near that her body almost touched Lucifer’s.

Lucifer gulped. “What are you doing?”

Chloe ignored the question. “I’d bet my pants my not finding your face terrifying has nothing to do with your Father.”

“Please don’t. You’ll probably freeze to death here with your lovely legs exposed.”

Chloe shook her head. “No. You won’t let me.”

“I won’t?” Lucifer said. It wasn’t a question, and not a statement either. As Chloe was too near and getting even nearer, his brain had stopped working.

Chloe rose up on her tiptoes, knowing she probably shouldn’t do what she was about to do - it was too soon. But she couldn’t help herself; Lucifer looked too adorable when he was baffled. And it wasn’t like he didn’t want it too; he was leaning towards her, his eyes closing, lips parting and his hands rising to pull her closer.

Chloe moaned with pleasure as their lips finally met after such a long time of separation. She put her hands on Lucifer’s shoulders and hung on, molding her body to his as heat engulfed her and the pleasure intensified, making Chloe think of naked parts. Lucifer’s parts. She remembered them with uncanny clarity and, oh, did she want to explore them with her hands!

Some part of Lucifer’s brain knew it was bad of him to do this. He was the only one who had a choice in this as Chloe was just a victim in his Father’s sadistic game. He wanted to be strong for her. He wanted to protect her but… just a small taste couldn’t hurt anyone, could it? So he pulled her closer, even if it was just for a couple of minutes. No matter it wasn’t real. It felt too wonderful for Lucifer to care right now.

Chloe’s hand sneaked into Lucifer’s hair. She needed to feel more of him. All of him. And maybe it wasn’t too soon after all. He certainly liked what they were doing… “Lucifer,” she breathed in hope for more but it had the exact opposite effect she had yearned for.

Lucifer realized with a jerk that a simple little taste had ended ten minutes ago and quickly took a step back, pushing Chloe away at arm’s length. “Detective! What the bloody hell are we doing?”

“Kissing?” Chloe offered, swaying slightly on her feet, her lips swollen and cheeks red.

“Yes! And that’s wrong!” Lucifer shook his head. “Oh, hell, I never thought I’d say such a thing!”

“Why should it be wrong?”

What kind of a question was that? “Because it’s not real, remember? My Father did this to you!”

Chloe shook her head. “No. I don’t believe it!”

“You should.”

“Even if it was true, which it is not, I still have my free will, don’t I? I can do whatever I want to. Like kiss you.”

“But that’s just it, Detective. You don’t really want to do that. Father made you want to do it! It’s like… rape.”

“Well, you can always scream for help,” Chloe quipped and tried to return to his arms but Lucifer’s hands held her tight and away.

Lucifer heaved a sigh as he stared heavenward. “Oh, bloody hell, why do I have to play the saint here?”

“What? You’re not playing saint, Lucifer, you’re being dumb,” Chloe said, frustrated by his behavior. Seeing Lucifer’s exasperation turn to hurt she knew at once she’d overstepped.

“Right,” Lucifer snapped. “And what would you do with a dumb Devil?”

“I -” Chloe started but Lucifer stopped her.

“I think I’ll just return to the house. The Devil’s Puddle doesn’t interest me as much as it does you,” he said with irritation and left Chloe standing there.

Chloe closed her eyes. Well done, Chloe! She wanted to hit something. Or someone with a red face and white wings. Why was he being so frustratingly dense?

*******

Vanessa took her new old-fashioned cellphone and a spare SIM card she had bought in L.A. and walked into the forest. She needed privacy as she had decided to contact Miller to try to explain to him what was going on. Although Lucifer’s demon proved to be trustworthy, she still didn’t believe Maze could find the Pope, or the key, before the Rider. The Templars had a better chance at that. And she didn’t care that Lucifer disapproved. If only he had taken the key from the Pope in the first place! They wouldn’t be in this mess right now. She knew she was probably being too hard on him but this was a matter of life and complete annihilation. They weren’t allowed to make mistakes. And if she was the only one to see that and remind them of that, well, let them hate her for it, she didn’t care. The only thing she cared about was stopping the Apocalypse.

She came to a small clearing surrounded by high pines and stopped. She took a deep breath. She needed to be smart about this. She either had to convince Miller not to try to track the number or make the call really quick.

“Hello?”

“Miller. This is Vanessa Burrow.”

“Vanessa?” There was a shock in the man’s voice. “Where are you? We’ve been trying to reach you for ages! What happened?”

“A lot. I’ll tell you. But first, do me a favor and keep this call private for now?”

There was a short pause before Miller replied, sounding reluctant. “OK. But just so you know, it doesn’t look good for you.”

“What do you mean?” Vanessa realized she had no idea what the Templars did or didn’t know.

“We managed to save a hard drive from the destroyed headquarters. There’s a record of you, Haas, the Grand Master and God leaving the building before the explosion. We found the Grand Master’s body. Vanessa, you haven’t checked in and they’re starting to wonder whether you had something to do with the attack and God’s disappearance.”

“What? Oh… I guess I should have expected that,” Vanessa answered bitterly knowing what they thought about her.

“And just to make it worse, we’ve got some strange information from Haley about Lucifer. Apparently he attacked him in L.A. Haley reported that the Devil had said something about the Apocalypse. Do you know something about it? Do you know where Lucifer is? Was he behind the explosion at headquarters? Is that why you took God away? To save Him from Lucifer?”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “Listen. This will be hard to believe but Lucifer and I are working together. He had nothing to do with the attack on our headquarters. It was the first Rider of the Apocalypse, an apocalypse which Lucifer did not start, by the way. The Rider somehow escaped its cell and is roaming the Earth. We’re actually trying to stop it.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“And there’s more. There must be a traitor in our organization.”

“What?” Miller gasped.

“Someone informed the Rider about God being in the headquarters. And it certainly wasn’t Lucifer. They almost killed him too, you know. That’s why I didn’t contact you sooner. But we have some new information and now we believe that the traitor might actually be an angel disguised as a human.”

“OK. You really want me to believe all that?”

“You know that Heaven’s Gate is closed?”

“It’s what Lucifer claimed, yes.”

“And you know that God suffered a memory loss?”

“It’s in the report the Grand Master sent before the attack.”

“Well, God remembered that He saw an angel seal the Gate.”

Miller snorted. “Do you realize how crazy all this sounds?”

“Yeah, I do! But it’s all true, Miller. Don’t you trust me? I saved your life, remember?” Vanessa yelled in exasperation.

“Yes I remember, and that’s the only reason I haven’t started to trace the call yet. Vanessa, are you sure about this? Most of the information you have has actually come from the Devil. Why don’t you come back and we can go through all the evidence together?”

Vanessa shook her head. “What? You think I’m being played by the Devil? Me?”

“I -”

“Listen, Miller,” Vanessa interrupted him, “I need a database of all Templars so Lucifer can go through it and find out whether one of them is his brother.”

“Are you really asking me to betray our organization?”

“You don’t believe me,” Vanessa stated, feeling defeated.

“I’m sorry.”

“Fine. OK, don’t believe me. But listen. We think the Rider is after the Pope. If you can, find him and protect him. But involve only the people you trust!”

There was silence on the other end.

“Please?” Vanessa gritted her teeth.

“OK. I will look into it. I promise.”

“Thank you,” Vanessa replied and ended the call. That couldn’t have gone much fucking worse. She took out the spare SIM card and put it back in her valet. It might get handy again.

*******

Dan closed his eyes. This was ridiculous. No, this was downright humiliating! He, once a recognized detective, father of a little devil and a participant in a battle against the ending of the world, was doing a fucking laundry! And how the fuck was he to know whether it was OK to put a bra with all that lace in the washing machine or not? Chloe had been the one to do the washing when they’d been married… And this bra was obviously Charlotte’s – he could tell (and how messed up was that?) – so he really, really didn’t want to screw this up. Because… hello Goddess, co-Creator of the universe and my former lover…

“Oh, man,” he moaned as memories flashed back. Why did she have to be so hot? He decided not to take any chances and wash the bra by hand. He left the basement and the washing machine and took the garment to the sink in one of the upstairs bathrooms.

What would God give to put His hands on this little garment, he wondered as he gently soaked the bra. Dan yawned just thinking about the old man. Why was he the one who had to share a bedroom with Him? God snored terribly, making even Dan, who himself was a known snorer, unable to sleep properly. Yes, the poking and kicking helped from time to time, but… how many times can you kick God before retribution comes?

“Are you busy, Daniel?” a sweet voice came from the doorway. Dan turned with a start, his eyes growing round as he found Charlotte watching him with a gleam in her eye. Why did she have to wear those snugly fitting dresses even here? He blushed as he realized he had been staring at her breasts while still clutching her bra in his hands.

“As a matter of fact, I am,” he managed to reply without stammering.

“I could give you a hand if you asked nicely,” Charlotte purred and walked into the bathroom, making Dan take a deep breath. It turned into a hiss as the aforementioned hand landed on his groin. “Thinking about it, I could give you much more than just my hand,” Charlotte whispered, nibbling his lower lip with her teeth while she fondled his rapidly growing erection.

“Don’t,” Dan said but it sounded more like a plea not to stop.

Charlotte snickered. “Of course I won’t stop.”

“No, I meant...” Dan didn’t finish and moaned instead. Why was she being so obtuse? She knew very well that he didn’t want her. His brain didn’t want her. The rest of him… well… He could clearly see the resemblance between her and Lucifer now.

Lucifer! He was being groped by Lucifer's MOTHER! It was like a bucket of cold water was thrown over him. Dan grasped Charlotte’s hands and pushed her away. “I said ‘no’.”

“The part I was communicating with was saying something else,” Charlotte answered, smiling seductively.

“Yeah, well, that part has been outvoted.”

Charlotte frowned. “You’re no fun, Daniel. Why can’t you just relax and enjoy it? It’s not like I want to create a new universe with you.”

“You’re Lucifer’s mother. And you’re a Goddess! I can’t… no, I don’t want to. OK?”

Charlotte sighed. She briefly considered simply throwing him over her shoulder and having her way with him but he would probably scream. No, he would most definitely scream at some point, she knew. And the house would come running and then they would accuse her of raping the poor man.

“Your loss,” Charlotte said and walked away.

*******

Back in her room, Charlotte stared at the Spear, her body and soul yearning to be comforted. But she wasn’t going to get any. Unless she hooked up with her ex. No, she wasn’t that desperate. Not yet anyway. Maybe when she finished the translation of the Spear, someone would give her the praise she deserved.

She sighed. She was tired of this. She had managed to translate most of the inscription; there was just this one line she couldn’t translate. As much as she tried to remember, she simply didn’t. And another problem was that the rest of the message didn’t make much sense. Maybe she had it wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time… it was a dead language after all. No-one had spoken it for millions of years. It was dead even before her babies were born, and yet here she was, trying to revive it.

She grasped the handle and let her limited divinity flare. The weapon barely blinked, like a bulb before dying, making the bluish writing on the silver handle glimmer. She didn’t have enough power to wield it like Lucifer did. But still, the weapon was beautiful. The cold blue blade in the shape of a leaf was both enticing and terrifying as it only took a scratch to turn a demon into dust.

She had wondered many times what it would do to her if she pierced her skin but she wasn’t about to find out. That’s why it had taken ages for her to clean it properly before she’d started translating. She had been very careful, cleaning off every little last bit of blood and dust. She hated demon’s blood! It was the second most disgusting thing in Creation. Just after demons themselves.

“Blood, meaning life,” she whispered to herself. “That’s it!” She finally remembered what the last line meant. She wrote it down quickly, feeling triumphant. She did it!

*******

The laundry done, Dan moved to the fridge in the kitchen corner. He could really use a reward for all the laundering and chopping; he had blisters and splinters all over his hands. And since no-one offered any kind of gratitude, he had to find his own. Besides, he needed something to satiate his body with, something to make him stop thinking about Charlotte.

He searched the fridge, convinced he’d put his pudding in there but couldn’t find it. He looked up as he heard steps behind him.

“Lucifer.”

“Douche?”

Dan blinked. He wouldn’t dare... not again. “Did you see my pudding?”

“You mean the one labeled ‘Dan’?”

“Obviously.”

This one?” Lucifer asked as he raised his hand and showed Dan an empty container before throwing it into the bin. He had really needed something to wipe Chloe’s taste out of his mouth or he wouldn’t have been able to think about anything else for the remainder of the day.

Dan’s cheek twitched with anger. “You stole my pudding? Again?!”

“Well, Daniel, take it as a repayment for saving your life. I think the price is right.”

Dan turned red. “That was ages ago!”

“You mean three days?”

“Yeah, whatever, who cares?” Dan was livid. He really, really wanted that pudding. And it had been the last one, damn it!

“Oh, come now! Don’t tell me, you don’t remember our flight? I admit the intimate encounter was short but still intense. I remember quite clearly you liked it. Or was it your gun?”

Dan shook his head. “What?! I didn’t like it!”

“Don’t deny it, Daniel. You clung to me long after we landed on that roof.”

“That’s because I was scared. You know I hate heights!” Dan hated that he blushed.

“Or maybe,” Lucifer paused, pretending to think, “you just like me.”

“I really don’t,” Dan answered with a stony face.

“Or maybe,” Lucifer pushed, “it’s not just me you like. Maybe you like all men. Just men. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean and you’re wrong.”

“Are you sure, Danny boy? You divorced the Detective after all. No man with a brain and a working package would have done that.”

“I’m sure he likes women,” it was Charlotte who answered the question as she’d appeared in the room. “No-one can handle girl’s underwear like Dan.” She winked at him suggestively.

Lucifer groaned. “Stop right there, please!”

“Agreed,” Dan said.

Charlotte just smiled as she watched both men start to flee, each taking a different way out.

“Lucifer!”

“What?”

“I translated the inscriptions on the Spear.”

Chapter Text

Portland

Maze knew she was close. She could feel the Gate to Hell whispering to her, trying to suck her back in. Well, this time she would grant Hell its wish. She pulled over at the northwest end of Portland, leaving the car there and continued on foot into the deep forest.

She didn’t have to search for long, the whispering grew stronger the closer she got. She stopped in a small clearing, the place oddly devoid of any vegetation. It seemed like the fires of Hell had reached out through the Gate and killed everything in the vicinity.

Maze drew her knives. Being a demon, she could see through the open gateway. The chamber behind the Gate looked empty but she couldn’t tell if someone was lurking just around the corner. She took a run-up and jumped right through the Gate, turning in midair and landing gracefully on her feet facing back the way she came.

The chamber really was empty. The Gate was wide open but no-one was hiding in the wings. She kept her knives drawn – better to be safe than sorry - and turned to the hallway leading into Hell. She stopped at the door, looking left and right, but the hall outside was completely abandoned.

“Creepy,” Maze murmured, then looked up swiftly as she felt something wet land on her face. She wiped it off with her palm and inspected it; it appeared to be blood. It seemed Lucifer hadn’t been exaggerating when he’d said Hell was bleeding. She brought it to her mouth and tasted metal. Real blood. She spat it out as another drop fell on her, making her finally take a step into the hallway. She turned and discovered a red stream flowing slowly down the wall and falling in drops on the ground where it had already made a sizable puddle. Maze grimaced when she realized she had stepped in it and tried to clean her soles on the stone floor.

As strange as the occurrence was she didn’t have time to study it. She turned, hoping the corridor led where she believed it did and started to run. She slowed only at the corners, careful not to get ambushed by someone. But Hell seemed completely devoid of any demon activity… though the doors to the torture chambers still held and the muffled screams coming out of them told her everything inside was as it should be.

She ran through the corridors, passing some that were quite ‘healthy’ and then some that were ‘bleeding’ so much the floor was more red than gray. The blood mixed with deposited ash and made a mush making the ground dangerously slippery. But the closer to the center of Hell Maze got, the more normal it looked.

Finally, she made it to the Pit without meeting a soul (so to speak). The message Enter at your own risk above the hole gave her goosebumps and her insides squeezed with uncontrollable fear. She could feel the holiness seeping out of it. It felt ten thousand times stronger than any church she had ever visited. The Pit was simply filled with divinity. She didn’t know whether it was part of the walls or even the very air, but it was completely alien in this Godforsaken place. Whoever had built it had done a great job of keeping the demons out. As far as she knew, only a few had ever ventured there. And after they had returned they had never been the same. Maze knew she would go there only if she had no other choice.

She passed the entrance to the Pit and walked along the ancient corridor that wasn’t as smooth or straight as the rest of them. It took a mile to get to its end. There she found a door she hadn’t entered for a very long time. But now she did, entering the huge cavern with resolution, ready to fight.

But she found the Bowels of Hell eerily quiet and empty too. No hammers pounding steel, no fires in the fireplaces. The network of tiny channels that brought the raw material from the Hole was dried up; something Maze had never seen before. And all the tools were scattered around the place as if the demons had just dropped them and left.

“Mazikeen!” An old woman in a wheelchair rolled from a side room and bared her gums in contempt, most of her sharp teeth missing. She had no hair and no human face to speak of. Just a lot of rotting demon flesh. Maze knew it was something every demon turned into eventually; if they were lucky enough to live that long.

The demon might be in a wheelchair and as old as Hell itself but she was far from weak. Her arms were all solid muscle covered by tightly stretched dark skin that reminded Maze of polished leather. Maze guessed the rest of her upper body clad in a sleeveless black leather jacket was the same. Her legs on the other hand, well, what was left of them was covered by a greasy brown blanket.

“Mori,” Maze nodded to the old woman. Even though she didn’t want to, she felt a grudging respect for her. After all she was the closest thing she had to a mother. Hers was the first face she had ever seen. Except for Lucifer’s.

“To what do I owe the displeasure?”

“Polite as always,” Maze said sarcastically.

“Cheeky as always,” Mori replied with a sneer. “Tell me, has Lucifer finally had enough of your insolence?”

Maze smiled. Oh yes, she had heard the story how old Mori had had her revenge when she had created her at Lucifer’s command. Apparently, he had forgotten to instruct the old hag to make Maze docile. He had wanted sexy (that was first on the list), loyal, smart, brave and with fighting talents. So that was what he had gotten. The rest of the temperament was all Mori’s creation. And she had made her thus because she believed Maze would annoy Lucifer forever. Well, she had mostly succeeded.

“I’m not here to talk about the former Master of Hell,” Maze said. “I’m here to talk about the new one.”

“One,” Mori echoed. “Oh, I’ve heard about this One.”

“What did you hear?”

“Just what Hell told me.”

Maze narrowed her eyes. Mori tended to be cryptic from time to time. Or maybe she was just a bit insane. She had been in that wheelchair for millennia now and it had taken its toll on her sanity. Demons were made to move - fight, chase, torture... not to contemplate things while sitting peacefully.

“Where’s everyone?” Maze asked, looking around the empty smithy. “Did they leave you to follow the One?”

Mori snorted. “Young fools. They were promised Earth if they went, and so they did.”

“Earth has its charms,” Maze admitted.

Mori snorted again. “Hell is where demons belong. Here’s where we were all forged and where we shall all die.”

Maze nodded, smiling slightly. Mori obviously didn’t like the new Master. She could take advantage of that to persuade her to join their side. After all that was why she was here. She withdrew a pack of cigarettes from her pocket and offered them to Mori. The old woman snatched it like it was the last one in the universe and fumbled with the wrapping until she managed to get one into her mouth. Maze handed her a lighter and watched as Mori lit it awkwardly.

“We need to get rid of One,” Maze said while Mori smoked with obvious pleasure.

“So your beloved Lucifer can reclaim his throne?” Mori asked with open contempt.

“Lucifer isn’t interested in Hell’s throne anymore.”

“So what’s the fuss?”

“If we don’t stop the Rider, it will kill everyone eventually.”

Mori laughed. “You mean the humans and the angels? Can’t say I mind Lucifer being dead! Not after what he did to me!” she growled and lifted the blanket, revealing two white femurs sticking out of burned flesh.

Maze didn’t move a muscle. She had seen them before. And she had seen worse. “You threw him in the fires of Hell, it seems only fair that he did the same to you.”

Mori sneered as she let the blanket fall back on her legs. “A cocky immature dick, he came here, all self-confidence and insolence, thinking he was to rule Hell just because his Daddy had said so! He knew nothing! He had no business doing what he did!”

“He could have thrown all of you into the fire and be done with you,” Maze hissed, annoyed by the old woman’s rambling.

Mori laughed maniacally. “Would have been better! You know why he didn’t?”

“Because he knew this would be a much worse punishment,” Maze stated.

Mori nodded. “And because he needed my skills to forge him little obedient minions. Like you!” She literally spat at her. “Loyal to the end, aren’t you?”

Maze wiped the spit off her face and stood straighter, fighting the urge to put her fist into Mori’s nose. “I’m my own demon now. I don’t serve Lucifer anymore. I’m not here doing his bidding. I’m here because I want to save my friends!”

Mori laughed. “Friends? You’re a demon, Mazikeen. You weren’t made to have friends.”

“Well, I do,” Maze snapped, feeling insulted.

“How unfortunate then,” Mori smirked, “for them to die in the Apocalypse. I heard the Heaven’s Gate is closed. Well, Hell is filling up rapidly and the new chambers aren’t being molded into the right shapes as every demon is busy doing other things now.”

“Yeah, roaming the Earth...”

Mori cocked her head. “Roaming the Earth?” she repeated and studied Maze.

“What?”

“You didn’t notice?”

“What?” Maze demanded.

“The demons aren’t roaming the Earth. Not all of them at least. They’re…” Mori searched for the right word, “digging.”

“What?” Maze repeated, not understanding. Mori rolled to a wall and put her hand on it.

“Here.”

Maze walked over and did as the old demon had.

“Do you feel it?”

Maze shook her head.

“Focus.”

Maze closed her eyes and concentrated on her palm. There - she felt it. Something like a dull beat vibrating lightly under her fingers. “What is it?”

“They’re digging,” Mori said once more. “They started about 150 days ago at the edges of Hell, slowly digging to its core.”

Maze did a quick calculation. About eight days of Earth’s time.

“They’re killing it,” Mori added.

Maze blinked. Mori had always spoken about Hell like it was alive, making Maze think she was crazy. But now Maze wasn’t so sure anymore. She had seen the blood in the passageways.

“Hell is alive...” Maze said in wonder, realizing that ‘growing chambers’ wasn’t a metaphor. She’d always thought there was some kind of divinity making Hell expand, but could it be just life? “But why are they doing it?”

Mori shrugged. “There are billions of chambers in Hell, all of them holding yummy souls. I don’t think that the Rider can simply walk into a chamber and take a bite. Or maybe it can, I don’t know...”

“Demons can open the door for it,” Maze interrupted her.

“Yes, but Hell wouldn’t allow the bastard to leave the chamber with a soul, would it? Only souls who no longer believe they deserve to suffer can go. I guess it’s better to destroy Hell altogether and let all the souls out than spend time in chambers eating its residents one by one.”

Maze took a sharp breath as another realization dawned – the chambers were to souls what bodies had been to them when they were still alive. Prison and protection at the same time. As Lucifer had said, the souls were safe from the Rider in bodies and in Hell’s chambers. Maze put two and two together and... “The Rider can’t get inside living matter, whether it has the shape of a human body or a Hell’s chamber. Unless it’s damaged.” So that was the reason they were killing it.

Mori nodded. “I saw that greedy bitch in its real form. It floated, trying to pass the doors but it just kept bouncing like a ball. Didn’t look like a big Master of Hell to me,” Mori spat, hatred marring her disfigured face even further. “And now look. It’s taken millions of years of hard work to whip this place into shape and they’re going to destroy it just because of some insatiable black smoke.”

“How long before they get to the core?” Maze asked.

Mori shrugged. “Two years?”

“About a month of Earth’s time,” Maze added. “And what about the Pit? Could the demons dig inside? Could they dig inside the cells of the other Riders?”

Mori smiled nastily. “We’d better hope not.”

Maze leaned in close to Mori. “We’re going to stop that fucking Rider and we’re going to lock it back in its fucking cell.”

“And how the fuck are you going to do that?”

“We don’t know yet. Will you help us?”

“How? You want me to roll after it real fast and bash it in the shins? It could be a little bit difficult as Hell isn’t exactly wheelchair accessible,” Mori replied sarcastically.

Maze shook her head, undeterred. She came here with an idea. A crazy one, true, especially as its realization depended solely on Mori. Maze hadn’t even been sure she would find her here, never mind be able to persuade her to do it. That was why she hadn’t shared her idea with the others. And also because Lucifer hated Mori.

The idea was simple. It occurred to Maze that since they didn’t have the key from the Rider’s cell, why not change the door altogether? And who else could forge it but Mori? But now, given the revelation, Maze wasn’t sure Mori could do it even if she wanted to.

“I want you to do what you do best,” Maze said, looking at the old demon hopefully. “I want you to forge a door. Just like the ones holding the Riders inside their cells.”

Mori laughed. “Don’t be a fool. I forge demons and weapons, not furniture. I can’t forge a door like that!”

Maze sighed. “Because the doors in the Pit grew like everything else here,” she supplied, feeling defeated. But Mori surprised her.

“They didn’t. God Almightily Annoying and His bumptious brainwashed wife made them. Along with the Pit itself. They mixed something… special in the material. They made those chambers unbreakable. Anything I make can be broken by brute force.”

Maze straightened and cursed viciously. So much for her plan… She paced the smithy while she thought about another solution. “But you can forge a door from this living matter, right?” she pointed at the now cold and probably dead substance waiting in the narrow channels to be forged into another demon.

“I guess I could.”

“So do it. If we won’t be able to lock the Rider in its cell, we can at least lock it in the Pit.”

“You want me to forge a door to the Pit?” Mori asked, just to be sure she understood. “You really think it will stop the beast, you fool?”

“It’s living matter. If it can protect souls from the Rider, it can possibly contain it too.”

“The demons will break the door down in under a minute.”

“Not if you make it strong, not if we guard it.”

Mori laughed. “So you’ll stand guard for the rest of eternity, fighting hundreds of thousands of demons, will you? For your friends?” she spat the last word with contempt.

Maze didn’t reply as she had no smart answer to that. “Will you do it?”

“Why should I?”

“You have nothing better to do anyway. You just sit here and complain about Hell being destroyed.”

Mori snorted. “Sadly, you’re right in that assumption. I guess I can try. Never done a door before though. But you’d better hurry and get the Rider here or there will be no Hell left to contain it in.”

Maze nodded to the old woman and left. She didn’t know whether Mori would do it – she was kind of her own demon too – but she figured they had nothing to lose.

So, Hell was really alive… unbelievable. How come she’d never noticed? How come Lucifer didn’t know? Maze touched the wall gently and was sure she felt it move. Like a pet under a loving touch.

She walked to the gate she believed led to Naples in Italy, the closest to the Vatican, when she heard a noise coming from around a corner. She pressed her body to the wall and readied her knives. No guns now. She didn’t want to draw attention to herself by shooting just in case Hell wasn’t as abandoned as it seemed. Silent kills were better. And more fun. Maze grinned.

“Why would One need a demon with strongly deformed face?” one of the demons asked as they neared the crossroad.

“Who cares? One wanted it, One got it.”

“I say we should have brought Mori to it,” another said with a chuckle.

“Yeah, except the old weasel would have probably killed us all.”

Given the echo of the steps and the different voices Maze estimated there were four or five of them. Five she could do. She certainly wasn’t going to let an opportunity to get some information slip through her fingers. She pressed herself tighter to the wall and let them pass without noticing her. One, two, three, four, five – Maze grabbed the last one by his hair and sliced his neck. He didn’t make a noise as he fell to the ground but someone else did. Maze realized she had counted wrong as a young demon behind her cried out in surprise.

“Fuck,” Maze cursed and turned to the four in front who were now looking at her wide eyed. Maze could tell they were no fighters yet they obviously had their orders as they attacked her all at once.

Maze dodged the first demon, kicking the next in the face; her leg moving high while her arm reached low and cut both Achilles tendons of the first demon, making him scream in pain and crumple to the ground like a rag doll.

She blocked an amateur attempt of a punch by the third demon and kicked her in the stomach. She doubled over and Maze delivered a deadly strike, her knife sliding into the demon’s back without much resistance. The fourth looked like he was about to bolt but Maze jumped him, landing on his shoulders and bringing him down with her weight, sending her knife right through his eye. She turned in time to see the demon she had kicked in the face to come at her with a yell. Maze took a step to the left and with one quick move she sliced the demon’s neck.

With five demons down she turned to get the young one only to discover he’d disappeared.

“Shit,” Maze cursed. He was probably going to get reinforcements, which meant she didn’t have much time. She grabbed the still screaming demon whose Achilles tendons she’d severed and brought his face to hers.

“I’ll ask only once. Where’s the Rider?”

The demon shook his head.

“I know you know. I heard you saying you brought someone to it.”

“No, I didn’t! I’ve never spoken to One, I swear. I got my orders from Eisheth.”

Maze believed him. Eisheth was the Rider’s first hand, and she was probably the one who had been sent to find the Pope. Maybe the simplest way to find the Pope and then his key was to find Eisheth and follow her.

“Where is she?”

“Please, I can’t tell you. She’ll kill me,” the demon pleaded, even though he must have known begging Maze was pointless. Maze scowled. She knew he would rather die than tell her. But thankfully there were fates worse than death.

“Do you know what Lucifer did to Mori?”

The demon’s eyes widened in horror.

“I’ll do worse to you. I’ll lower your legs and arms in the fires of Hell and leave them there long enough to let your bones melt. And then I’ll bind what’s left of you to a wall at the edge of Hell and leave you there to rot for all eternity. How does that sound?”

The demon gulped, knowing Maze wasn’t bluffing. “Alright. The order was to send the demon to Villa Luce in Scopello. So we did.”

“Italy?” Maze asked.

The demon nodded.

“Where in Italy?”

“Sicily. Please...” the demon stammered.

“To the Pope?” Maze asked once more.

The demon shrugged. Maze didn’t ask anything else and cut the demon’s throat without a second thought. She hurried to the gate she knew led to Naples, the nearest gate there was to Sicily. If she caught Eisheth, she would get everything she needed from her. Eisheth might be one ambitious demon but Maze knew she wouldn’t die for her new master.

*******

Somewhere in Italy

Eisheth reentered the room where her new master had changed into a new meatsuit just several minutes earlier. She had watched with fascination as a dark, cloud-like substance had flown out of Agnellini’s mouth and, with a mild struggle, entered the new host.

One turned and blinked, recognizing the tall blonde dressed in tight red leather, its first-in-command. “Eisheth? I believe I gave you orders. You should be on your way to retrieve the key by now.”

“Yes,” the demon replied with something akin to fear. “I just got news. There might be complications.”

“What?” the Rider hissed awkwardly, still unskilled with the new tongue it was using.

“I just got a phone call from one of our demons. Lucifer sent his pet, Mazikeen, after us.”

“And?”

Eisheth hated to admit it but she wouldn’t want to risk encountering Maze in an inopportune moment. “She’s persistent. She won’t stop until she’s found us. I think they know we’re after the second key.”

“Of course they know. They’re not stupid. But why should we be afraid of this little demon? She’s but a demon.”

“Yes, but when she finds us, she will probably call Lucifer for help. Then we might have a problem.”

The Rider seemed to consider her words. “The so-called Devil can’t stop us. He’s weak. He knows nothing.”

“What about that Spear of his? I hear it can kill demons with a simple scratch. Rumors spread fast and the details grow uglier with every repetition. The demons are all scared of him now. Especially since he got his wings back.”

The Rider growled in annoyance. “It’s unlikely they will find you. Especially with all the diversions I’m planning. Continue with your mission. But just to be safe, call me when you find the final link. I’ll join you and retrieve the key myself,” the Rider said.

Eisheth bowed – enough to show her respect but not enough to look weak. She turned on her heel and marched to do the Rider’s bidding.

*******

Near Naples, Italy

Maze found the right Gate on the third try and got out of Hell on the western face of Mount Vesuvius. It was evening in Italy with the sun setting on the horizon and a warm breeze blowing from the sea. Maze squinted against the sun as she assessed her surroundings. She was standing in a field of andesite, most of the angular stones covered by gray lichen. Some varieties of yellow and bluish flowers thrived among the volcanic rocks, giving the field a cheerful look. The intimidating volcano silently rested at her back, its colorful slopes deceptively peaceful while deep inside the mountain was slowly preparing for more mayhem. Maze knew it couldn’t be trusted.

The rocky field was hemmed on both sides by neat-looking pine forest. Maze decided to take the straight path to the west and started to walk slowly downhill, carefully choosing her steps on the rocky ground. Down below the sun was turning the Mediterranean Sea into a pool of red, reminding Maze of blood. And there, stretching from the shore to the slopes of the mountain was the city of Naples. Maze needed to get there, and then on to Sicily as fast as possible. She needed to catch Eisheth before she moved on or worse, before she found the Pope. But Maze had a feeling she might be too late already. In any case, she would find out when she got there. Oh, she hoped she would find Eisheth there. She’d enjoy a bit of fisticuffs. Or knifycuffs. Oh, yeah, she could slice the bitch to ribbons and then weave them into her hair and wear her remains like an award crown. But first she needed to get to Naples. In one piece.

“Fucking stones,” Maze cursed as she stumbled, kicking the offending stone viciously. Then she heard the distinctive noise of an engine turning over and turned right into the pine forest. After five minutes of struggling over the unfriendly terrain she reached a road leading from the top of the mountain to the city below and flagged down a pair of Norwegian tourists. The two tall young women took her happily in the car, asking her all the annoying questions like how she liked Italy, where she was from, where she was headed and whether she had a boyfriend. Maze’s answers were short, all of them lies as she wasn’t Lucifer and had no obsession with telling the truth to every inconsequential idiot. Oh, I love Italian food, especially girls, more than anything. I’m from Greenland and no, I don’t have a man as I’m a widow. Black widow.

The conversation ended then, and Maze realized that maybe she had made a mistake. Unlike her they had a smartphone she needed to borrow.

She smiled sweetly at the young women. “You wouldn’t mind lending me that phone, would you?”

“Sure,” one of them said after nervously looking at her companion.

“Thank you,” Maze said, winking at the woman. She quickly googled the possibilities of getting to bloody Sicily. The fastest way was by plane of course but then she would have to leave her knives and guns here, not to mention she had no passport… The next fastest way was by car - eight hours! That sounded even worse than Hell!

She thought about calling Lucifer and asking him to pick her up and simply transport her there. But… what if the demon had been lying? What if there was some kind of trap waiting for her? Or for Lucifer? She couldn’t bring Lucifer into it. There was also another reason for her refusing to ask Lucifer for help, she admitted bitterly. It was her task and she was going to do it! She would just have to find a more human way to get there. So she considered borrowing a car but driving through the night would be exhausting and she needed her strength to fight Eisheth when she caught up with her. The third fastest way was by ferry and luckily for her one was leaving Naples in thirty minutes. It sounded like the most logical solution.

Decision made, Maze asked the women to take her to the harbor. They agreed readily and when Maze finally got out they looked quite relieved.

*******

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

“I translated the inscriptions on the Spear.” Charlotte’s words made Lucifer stop in his tracks. He turned to his mother and narrowed his eyes, not sure he could trust her. She smiled at him triumphantly and waved the sheaf of papers in her hand, probably waiting for the praise to come.

“Well, it took you long enough,” Lucifer snapped, coming closer to her and pointing at the papers. “What does it say?”

“I’ll explain. Shouldn’t we call the grumpy girl first?”

“Let’s get everyone,” Lucifer decided and yelled for all those near enough to hear to get their arses downstairs.

Dan and Chloe came first, followed by Trixie who handed Lucifer a piece of paper.

“What’s that?” Lucifer looked at the painting that was mostly red.

“That’s you killing demons with the Spear,” Trixie explained.

“Oh, I can see that now. Love the details of the entrails here.” Trixie beamed as Lucifer fastened the picture on the fridge with a magnet.

Chloe looked at Dan with concern. Where were the times when their daughter had painted ponies and flowers?

It took the rest long enough to gather and to Lucifer’s surprise Vanessa appeared last, coming not from upstairs but from the front door, looking like she’d spent some time in the fresh air; her cheeks were red and her short black hair all disheveled and falling into her stormy dark eyes.

“Where have you been?” Lucifer asked, curious.

“Outside,” Vanessa replied curtly. “What’s happening?”

“I am happening,” Charlotte answered smugly as she finally had everyone’s attention like she deserved. Well, except for Hirschel who was probably just sleeping in the armchair with his eyes wide open, again, staring at nothing.

“Mother claims she translated the Spear,” Lucifer explained and Vanessa’s eyes widened.

“What does it say?” she asked.

“I’ll tell you shortly. Just sit.” Charlotte indicated a chair and waited for Vanessa to take a place. Oh, she loved the tension, how everyone was just staring eagerly at her.

“For Father’s sake, Mom,” Amenadiel yelled, “can you just get on with it?”

“Patience, Son. I needed it too to translate this.”

Lucifer shook his head in exasperation. “If you’re waiting for a round of applause, don’t hold your breath.”

Charlotte snorted. “Of course not. I was just getting prepared.” She looked down at the papers in her hands and then at her audience. “First you must understand that this language is very old and it doesn’t have as rich a vocabulary as later languages. Meaning there’s just one word for the things or actions you could name with several words in English. For example there’s only one word for ‘learn’, ‘play’ and ‘experience’.”

“Why are you telling this to us, Mum?” Lucifer asked, suspicious.

Charlotte scoffed, looking around. “Well, the translation might not make much sense to you.”

“I knew it!” Lucifer barked.

“But it doesn’t mean I’ve got nothing,” Charlotte argued.

“Give me that!” Lucifer barked again and snatched the papers from Charlotte’s hands. He started to read aloud. “Building / creating an element / core by feeding spark of life / blood with light / power and unnamed / untold / unspeakable / different thing / substance…” he trailed off, looking back at his mother. “That’s rubbish!” Lucifer yelled. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Well, I told you the language doesn’t use many words. But I think what it says is that the weapon isn’t exactly a weapon.”

“It looks like a weapon to me,” Vanessa pointed out.

“Your understanding of things is limited by your lack of intelligence and experience, little human,” Charlotte spat.

“OK,” Vanessa said not even bothering to get angry, “enlighten me then.”

“I believe my ex-husband made this thing to create life.”

“You mean like start the universe?” God asked, confused. “I thought we used another technique to do that. Although there must have been a spear involved at some point, so to speak.” He wiggled His brows at Charlotte meaningfully.

Charlotte looked disgusted. “Of course I’m not talking about the Big Bang. I meant that you used this to create living matter, bodies from other, not living things. Like plants, animals, humans, demons, bugs, et cetera.”

“Why do the demons burn when it slices them though?” Johann asked quietly.

Charlotte shrugged. “Maybe you can’t make live something that’s already alive?”

Lucifer glanced at the kitchen table and then at the Spear. Yeah, why not? He walked closer and took the weapon, making it light up. “I always wanted to have a walking table so it could follow me around with my drinks,” he said and touched the table with the tip of the Spear. Everyone held their breath as they actually waited for the table to come to life.

It didn’t.

“Wow,” Ella exclaimed, breathing out with relief, “for a moment I thought this was going to turn into a Beauty and the Beast story. You know - with the living furniture...”

Lucifer frowned at her disapprovingly. “Chloe is no beast!”

“I’m sorry,” Dan turned to Charlotte, “but wasn’t the Spear made by your ex? I mean you must have been there? How come you don’t know what it is?”

Charlotte shrugged. “Well, after our firstborn daughter was killed by the Rider we didn’t exactly talk to each other much. I… grieved, alone. And He…” Charlotte looked at her ex with accusation, “all He did was care about the silly humans! He made them bodies and then built Hell, all that just to protect their souls from the Riders. And then we fought against the Riders for millennia until He decided to parley with them and they agreed to be locked in the Pit. After that… we made more children and never spoke about that time again. I think He must have made the Spear at that time too.”

“So nice of you to speak about me like I’m not even here,” God muttered, feeling useless again.

“Wonderful,” Lucifer spat sarcastically focusing on his mother. “So you know next to nothing and the Spear is literally useless.”

“Hey, guys,” Ella said, staring at the Spear. “Maybe we’re just understanding the translation in the wrong way. What if it can’t bring anything to life, just things that are meant to become alive? Or things that used to be alive? I mean Hirschel said it’s the Spear of Destiny.”

“Yes,” the old man reacted, obviously not asleep after all.

“And the Roman soldier used it to check whether Jesus on the cross was dead or not. I mean what if Jesus really was dead and then was revived by the touch of the Spear? Why else give the soldier this Spear in particular?”

“That’s a wild theory, Miss Lopez,” Lucifer replied. “But maybe not impossible.”

“Pity we don’t have a dead body to try it out on,” Charlotte replied. “Unless someone wants to volunteer?”

“There’s a dead rat in the cellar,” Trixie said suddenly.

“Monkey, how do you know that?” Chloe asked.

Trixie looked at her guiltily. “Maze forgot to lock it this morning and I took a look. But it’s OK, really Mommy, I didn’t touch any of the guns.” Dan and Chloe exchanged a look.

“Alright then,” Lucifer started to walk to the door, “let’s get the dead vermin and give it a try. Miss Lopez?”

“What?” Ella exclaimed.

“Will you do the honors and bring the test corpse?”

“Me?” Ella squeaked.

“Well, it was your idea, wasn’t it? We’ll just wait outside. Don’t want to pollute this place with dead rodents.”

Ella brought the dead rat to the front of the house, clutching it by its long tail in two gloved fingers. She lay it down on the grass, a good distance from the waiting crowd. Lucifer stepped forward and once again let the Spear alight. He touched the stinking lifeless animal, piercing its skin lightly while everyone stared at the corpse. For about three seconds nothing happened but then something inside the rat snapped, literally, and the animal rolled to its feet and started running in circles, obviously confused.

“Bloody hell, it really worked!” Lucifer exclaimed, looking at the Spear in wonder as people behind him gasped.

“I told you,” Charlotte smiled with satisfaction.

“Do you know what this means?” Lucifer said, turning to the group. “I can actually revive people.”

Amenadiel shook his head. “Rats don’t have souls. What do you think will happen when you revive a human body after the soul has moved on?”

Lucifer shrugged. “A zombie? Maybe I could create an army of zombies and let them eat the Rider’s brain. If it has one, that is.”

“Ehm, guys,” Ella pointed at the rat which was still running in circles and had now started to squeak. “Are rats supposed to do that?”

Everyone turned their attention to the rat, watching as it ran still faster and squeaked louder and louder. It looked like it was in some kind of pain and panicking trying to escape it. It ran like a rat possessed. Everyone jumped out of the way as the rat aimed towards the group, oblivious to the presence of people. It was about three feet from them when it let out a final shriek and exploded into drops of blood and entrails, some of it landing on the shoes and pants of the bystanders.

“Ewww,” several people exclaimed, taking more steps away.

“If I die,” Dan said, looking at Lucifer, “please don’t revive me.”

“Ah,” Lucifer sighed. “Who’d have thought that creating life is such a dirty business. Do you think this thing is broken?” He pointed at the Spear.

“Maybe it’s just overloaded or something?” Amenadiel answered. “It got charged by Father’s divinity after all.”

“Yes,” Lucifer muttered, wondering whether this was the problem or whether his mother’s translation was just wrong. “That’s it then, just another useless thing in the fight against the Rider.”

“You don’t know that,” Charlotte opposed. “Maybe it can hurt it somehow.”

“Yes, make the host explode and the soul with the Rider go free,” Lucifer hissed. He had really hoped they had something to use against the Rider, and looking at the others, they had too. But their hopes had been crushed.

“If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get changed,” Lucifer said. “Rat’s entrails don’t really go with Prada.”

“Chloe,” Dan called as everyone walked back inside. “Can we talk?”

“Sure,” Chloe came to Dan, knowing very well what he wanted to talk about.

“It’s Trixie.”

“I know.”

“We can’t have her near those guns in the cellar again. Or thinking she is going to fight. Maze bought her a water gun and they actually filled it with holy water so she could shoot demons. We can’t have that. We have to do everything in our power to protect her.”

Chloe nodded. “I agree.”

Dan blinked, surprised Chloe didn’t protest. “I’ll go pack our things then.”

“Pack… What? You… you want to leave?”

“What did you think I was going to say?”

“I...” Chloe stopped, realizing she didn’t know. “But what about the Apocalypse? We can’t just pretend it’s not happening. We can’t just ignore it.”

“We’re just humans, Chloe. I mean I chop wood and do the laundry and you...” Dan trailed off, not wanting to insult her.

“I may have no special powers, Dan, but I… I think I have to stay here. I can’t really explain it.”

Dan nodded, looking grim. “I can. I know exactly what or rather who your reason is.”

“It’s not like that,” Chloe countered. “I need to stay.”

“You’d rather stay here with these crazy people than go with your daughter?”

“If this bunch of crazy people don’t stop the Rider, there will be no safe place for anyone. And if I can help the tiniest bit, I have to, Dan. I can’t just walk away from this.” Chloe sighed. The options she had were both really bad. “But I agree with you. I think it will be for the best if you take Trixie to safety.”

*******

Palermo, Sicily

It was late morning when the ferry landed at one of the huge concrete wharves in the harbor of Palermo. Maze pushed through the passengers as they moved too slowly, most of them getting into their cars and disembarking from the ferry one by one.

Salty air mixed with fumes of ships’ engines greeted her as her feet finally touched the ground. The harbor was noisy and busy with activity; derricks loading and unloading large merchandise while people moved smaller boxes out of ships’ holds. More passengers waited for their transport and tourists walked along the shore, taking pictures. Seagulls screeched noisily over them all and occasionally snatched pieces of fallen food.

This part of Palermo was quite new and industrial, the buildings made just for business with large parking lots and warehouses. Not that Maze would go sightseeing even if she had the time. She wasn’t the type.

She found a rental company at the harbor and got herself a car after bribing the employee to overlook the fact she didn’t have a passport. The only thing he was willing to rent her though was an old, small green Fiat. At least it had satellite navigation in English. It led Maze west, following the coastal road.

One and a half hours later the sweet voice of the satnav guided her through the narrow streets of Scopello, the town situated on cliffs above the sea. It was almost noon now but unlike Palermo, this tourist destination seemed to be still asleep with only a few people walking around, mostly carrying beach gear. Maze drove through the old center with its stony houses and headed north to the modern part of town. Palm trees, olive trees, lonely pines, red and yellow aloes, red, pink and white oleanders, cactus and other plants grew in the gardens of the villas she passed, most of them rented to tourists during the summer.

Villa Luce was the last building on the road, isolated from the others by a small pine forest. Maze pulled over about a hundred feet from the house and checked her guns and knives. She got out of the car and walked the rest of the way, her senses on high alert. The villa was surrounded by a stone wall bordered by oleanders; she squeezed between the shrubs and peeked over the wall. The villa was quite large with yellow plaster, a flat red roof, green curtains in the windows and a lovely garden. But it looked deserted.

Maze waited several minutes but didn’t detect any movement. She hopped over the wall and ran to the door.

Still quiet. She tried the knob and found the door unlocked. That was weird. She withdrew her gun and walked carefully into the house. As she searched the rooms one by one, she was sure she smelled blood. But the problem was, there was none to be seen. And the house was completely empty. But Maze was sure about one thing – this was the Pope’s house. It had pictures of saints and Jesus on all the walls and in every room there was a cross. And there were white cassocks in the wardrobe. Now either the demon in Hell had lied to her or Eisheth had already left, with or without what she had been looking for - the Pope himself.

Maze cursed. She returned to the hall and then stopped, again smelling blood. She looked around; a large mirror, pegs on the wall, a small closet – a dead body could be squeezed in with enough force. Maze opened it only to find it empty. Then she looked down, realizing she was standing on a red rag. She took a step back and lifted the old thing. Nothing.

Something wasn’t right here. The place was clean yet smelled of blood, indicating something bad had happened here. But why would the demons bother to clean up? They never did that.

Maze took out her phone and dialed Lucifer. She should inform him about the situation. Except he didn’t answer. Maze sighed. Of course. It was night in Oregon. She cursed again, feeling like she was missing something important. She returned to her rented Fiat and headed back to the center.

The center looked as lazy as before. The sun had been baking the ground from early morning and Maze squinted against its brightness, looking at the few people milling around the small square, and searched for something… suspicious. The only ‘suspicious’ thing she discovered though was an old lady sitting on a step in the shade of a three-storey stone house with a basket of fresh olives for sale. The woman wore a black dress and was missing half her teeth but chewed contentedly on an olive while her dark eyes followed Maze with interest. Maze remembered she had seen her on her way to the villa. The woman had probably been sitting there for some time now. Maybe she could ask her whether she had seen something suspicious earlier this morning.

Maze pulled over in front of the high stone house and got out.

Oliva,” the woman indicated her basket and started to reach for a bag to fill.

“No,” Maze said, hoping the woman understood at least some English. She’d never bothered to learn many languages; she’d had no reason to do it, tortured souls all talked in the same language – screams. “Did you see anything suspicious this morning?”

The woman nodded. “Sea. Down,” she waved her arm to the right.

“No. I’m not looking for the sea. I’m looking for the Pope.”

Scusi?

“Pope,” Maze repeated. The woman’s eyes lit with understanding.

Il Papa, sì, sì.” She stood up and started to go to her house. “Venga,” she said and beckoned to Maze to follow.

“What?” Maze stared. Could she really be hiding the Pope inside or didn’t she understand?

Entri,” the woman said and beckoned to Maze once more. “Come,” she managed in English with a heavy accent.

Maze hesitated but then followed the lady. What if…?

The house was pleasantly cool but had a musty smell. Everything was old inside like the woman herself. She led Maze to what was probably supposed to be a living room and indicated to her to sit down on a gray couch. Maze started to suspect that the woman was simple minded but then she noticed the TV and the news.

Il Papa,” the woman said and pointed at the screen. Then she left the room.

Maze blinked. The news was in Italian but an English transcription was on the bottom line. The Pope was about to make an unscheduled statement. He was back in the Vatican then?

Maze sat down on the old couch, dust flying out of it with the impact. The woman returned and handed Maze a plate with cheese, olives and bread. Maze looked down and her stomach grumbled as she realized she hadn’t eaten for about a day now. “Grazie,” she whispered, familiar with this one word and started to eat. The woman smiled her toothless smile and sat down next to her to watch the TV.

The Pope appeared on the balcony of The Basilica overlooking St. Peter’s Square. He didn’t look too well; his skin was as white as the cassock he wore, Maze noticed. But with all that was going on she couldn’t blame him to be scared. Hell, he had probably just escaped a bunch of demons trying to capture him. Was it demon blood she had smelled in the villa? Had the Pope’s guard managed to kill the demons? It would explain the reason why she hadn’t found any bodies in the villa. Unlike demons the guard would have cleaned up the mess...

The Pope adjusted the microphone before he looked at the crowd that had gathered on the square between the Tuscan colonnades and eagerly awaited his message.

Then the old man started to speak. Maze read the translation running along the bottom of the screen as she listened to the melodic language and chewed on the cheese.

“Dear brothers and sisters throughout the world. I come before you today, in this difficult hour as a humble servant of God to impart a message of grand importance. The worst of the beasts has escaped from the deepest corners of Hell.”

Maze stopped chewing and stared, a piece of olive falling out of her mouth. She could hear gasps from the crowd on the square. “Is he serious?” she asked but of course no-one replied. What was the old fool doing? He couldn’t just let the world know about the unscheduled Apocalypse. There would panic. And… more panic!

We must be strong and we must have faith in this darkest of times and fight this beast as we will all be tested. But know that you are not alone. God is with you. God wants you to fight. And together, my brothers and sisters, we will prevail. I beseech you to join me in this holy war, to forget your differences and your disputes, and to stand together as one. We will be strong in our faith and we won’t bow down before this evil beast! Reach inside your souls and find the strength there. And never doubt God is on your side.”

The Pope signaled to someone below and the camera panned back to show a box-like shape covered by a black sheet standing in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, separated from the crowd by a barrier and the Swiss guard. One of the guards approached the box and yanked off the sheet, revealing an ugly demon with a distorted face behind sturdy bars. He growled menacingly and rattled the bars of the cell, staring daggers with black eyes at the camera as people screamed with shock and fear.

“Cristo santo!” the old lady next to Maze yelled and crossed herself.

“And the beast is not alone. Look at this creature. What you see is a demon. One of many brought from Hell, intending to destroy everything that is good and holy. To destroy our souls.”

The people started to panic now, pushing each other over in an attempt to flee the Square.

The camera returned to the Pope. He was pointing at the creature below as he continued, his voice booming over the cries and gasps of the crowd.

“It’s the Devil’s work!”

“What?” Maze blinked in confusion. Wasn’t the Pope on Lucifer’s side? Why was he saying this nonsense if… Maze’s thoughts trailed off as realization dawned. It hadn’t been demon blood in the villa she had smelled. “Son of a bitch!”

“Lucifer has brought the Apocalypse upon us, believing we will cower in fear and call him our new Lord. He’s come to Earth to conquer it! But don’t despair, my brothers and sisters. God is with us. And we won’t stop until the evil is destroyed. We will defeat the Devil and cast him back into Hell where he belongs. Together, we will win!”

The speech ended then and the Pope turned and disappeared inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Motherfucker!” Maze yelled and raced out of the house.

Chapter Text

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

Everyone in the house was still asleep as the sun rose silently over the roof. Chloe put Trixie’s bag in the pickup and turned to her daughter. It broke her heart to see her small face shattered with betrayal. But how could she explain that letting her go wasn’t something she wanted to do?

“Are you sure you want to stay?” Dan asked once more as he put his own bag inside the car. Another person disappointed by her decision. But she couldn’t leave. She’d be useless hidden from the world.

“I need to stay, Dan. Not want. It’s different.”

Dan nodded reluctantly. She could see he was trying to appear understanding for Trixie’s sake.

“Will you get in touch with my mom?” Chloe asked.

Dan nodded again. They had talked about it yesterday. Penelope must be beside herself with fear right now, having not heard from her daughter for several days. Chloe and Dan had made a plan to contact her using her fan site and a coded message, hoping the Templars wouldn’t notice. Chloe wouldn’t put it past them to keep an eye on her mother just in case she made contact.

“I don’t want to leave,” Trixie pleaded, despite knowing it was already decided and her parents couldn’t be swayed. And she had tried really hard when they had told her last night. Tears, tantrums, guilt tripping - nothing had worked. “I promised Maze I’d look after you and Lucifer.”

Chloe knelt before her daughter and hugged her tightly. “I know, Monkey. I don’t want you to leave either. But I have to help Lucifer fight this evil and I can only do it knowing you’re safe.”

“Lucifer said it’s cold in Iceland. I don’t want to go there. Why can’t we return home?”

Chloe glanced at Dan for help.

“Hey, you know, they have hot springs in Iceland,” Dan said. “So whenever you feel cold, we can just hop in the warm water and chase it away.”

Trixie wrinkled her nose. She was smart enough to recognize when she was definitely beaten. Like now. “Alright,” she answered with a heavy sigh and hugged Chloe tightly for the last time.

 

Chloe returned to the house feeling like the worst of mothers. She’d just sent her only child away, alone. Well, with Dan but still…

“She’ll be safer some place else.”

Chloe turned to find Lucifer holding a glass of what she guessed was Scotch since the bottle was on the table. But uncharacteristically he wasn’t drinking it but handing it over to her.

“It’s seven in the morning,” Chloe pointed out.

“Yes, in L.A. we call it the end of a great night. Good time to have one last drink.” Chloe tentatively took it, feeling she needed it but hesitating as she hadn’t even eaten yet.

“How long have you been lurking here?”

“I wasn’t lurking, I was merely avoiding the unpleasant situation of saying goodbye.”

Chloe smirked as she sipped the alcohol, her need winning over her usual sensibleness. “You mean avoiding Trixie’s hugs.”

“And the Douche’s. I was worried he’d get all emotional and hug me for hours, poking me with his gun.”

Chloe snorted. It was good to know some things never changed. Like Lucifer talking nonsense. And not stopping...

“Anyway you don’t have to worry about her. She has the gun Maze bought her and as it pains me to admit it, Douche is quite handy with an axe. Which brings me to the pressing matter – who do you think should take over Daniel’s job and chop firewood?”

Chloe ignored the last sentence and concentrated on the first one. “I’m not worried.”

“Well, I am,” Lucifer replied, misunderstanding. “I don’t want to wake to a cold room again. Well, one thing is clear. It can’t be Johann or Dad, they probably don’t even know which end of the axe they should grab. Maybe Amenadiel? Or Vanessa? She can use that Hell-made machete of hers.”

Chloe rolled her eyes. “I mean I’m not worried about Trixie.”

“Oh. That. Of course. I knew you were talking about her.”

“I mean I am worried a little but what bothers me is that it just feels so wrong to send her away like this. What will she think of me? I know it’s better this way but...”

“No ‘but’. She will be safer in Iceland. Fewer people, fewer dead souls stuck there, a surprising lack of any Hell Gates despite the volcanic activity and given the climate no tempting destination for the demons. Otherwise I’d send them to Fiji. So you did the… right thing.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I am. And besides, knowing the little minx whatever comes her way, she’ll fight it and live to post the tale on Insta.”

Chloe snorted. “Yeah.”

“And Douche won’t allow anything bad to happen to her. I saw him fight those demons in L.A. Rambo could learn a thing or two from him. He probably set a new world record for blowing people away. Well, demons. And sadly no-one noticed. Except me, of course. But I’m not gonna found a Danbo fanclub.”

Chloe nodded but didn’t feel any better. If anything, Lucifer’s words helped her realize that she was just lying to herself. She was scared to death for her daughter’s life. She felt her eyes water and tried hard to suppress the tears. She drank the rest of the glass quickly and clutched it nervously in her hand.

“You’re not going to do anything as useless as cry, are you, Detective?” Lucifer asked, his words a little harsh but his tone gentle. Too gentle. It was the last straw.

Although Chloe shook her head in denial and blinked rapidly, it didn’t help. The treacherous tears rolled down her cheeks like a dam had just burst inside.

“Oh, bloody hell,” Lucifer growled and took a quick step closer, winding his arms around Chloe. She laid her head on Lucifer’s shoulder and her hands on his chest and just let him hold her.

“I’m a horrible mother.”

“No, Charlotte is a horrible mother. You’re a responsible mother. Annoyingly so.” Lucifer took the glass from her hand and put it on the table next to the bottle. “Do you fancy a refill?”

Chloe shook her head. “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. Douche bought it in Bend – oh,” Lucifer exhaled theatrically, “another thing we’ll have to assign to someone else!”

Chloe giggled despite the tears. “No. I meant thank you for being here for me.”

Lucifer frowned. “Whatever do you mean?”

“You usually get up late.”

Lucifer blinked. She had noticed that, had she? “I couldn’t sleep.” It wasn’t a lie.

“Hm,” Chloe nodded with a small smile.

“Amenadiel rolled a lot, hitting me several times with those trunk-like arms of his. I think he was dreaming of fighting a battle. Or having sex with Maze. Hard to tell which one; it’s very similar.” It wasn’t a lie either yet it wasn’t the reason he couldn’t sleep.

“Yeah,” Chloe breathed, actually enjoying Lucifer’s lame effort to conceal that he’d gotten up early for her. Probably trying not to show her that he cared. Well, he’d failed magnificently. She glanced up to find him looking down at her, brown eyes full of concern and uncertainty. Chloe realized this must be very new for Lucifer. It wasn’t exactly part of the job description for Hell’s CEO to hug hurt souls and make them feel better. Anyway, he looked adorable just trying to pretend he knew what he was doing and be all stoic about it. Too adorable… Tears forgotten, Chloe stood up very slowly on her tiptoes, hoping not to spook him as she tried to touch her lips to his. But although she got higher still, Lucifer’s mouth didn’t get any closer. She realized as she was slowly reaching up, he was leaning away from her. Maybe one more inch and Lucifer would lose balance and fall on his back, taking her with him. Hm… not such a bad idea. It had been a very long time since she had lain on top of him. And she remembered the experience quite well even if it had lasted just a few seconds and was necessary to save Lucifer from being shot by an angry gang. Oh, she remembered how divinely he smelled, how her body molded into his...

The door to the veranda opened and in came a pile of chopped wood carried by Vanessa. She stopped short upon seeing the scene in the room. “Sorry. Am I interrupting something? Finally?”

“Absolutely not,” Lucifer said quickly and took advantage of Vanessa’s arrival to let go of Chloe.

Chloe stumbled a bit as she lost her balance but quickly managed to regain her footing as well as her composure. As Vanessa passed them on her way to the hearth, Lucifer smiled contentedly, pointing at the wood in her arms. “At least one thing solved itself perfectly.”

Vanessa dropped the wood by the fireplace and started to clean the ash out of it. “You’re up early,” she glanced at Lucifer. “Anything from Maze?”

“No,” Lucifer paused, remembering. “Actually I think she might have called during the night.”

Vanessa stopped cleaning and turned to face Lucifer. “What do you mean ‘might have’?”

“Well, I can’t be sure. I was asleep. At least I was trying to.”

“You didn’t even try to pick it up?!” Vanessa yelled.

“Well, I...”

“Lucifer,” Amenadiel interrupted as he appeared downstairs clad just in his pants, a phone in his hand. “It’s Maze. She says it’s urgent.”

“Oh?” Lucifer took the phone from Amenadiel. “Mazikeen. How are things going?”

“The- y – watch -”

“Sorry, what? I can’t hear you. What’s that noise?”

“That’s me trying to go over 160 kilometers per hour in a vehicle where the speedometer ends at 160. On an Italian highway. Do the math,” Maze yelled. In the background Lucifer heard a blowing horn.

“What are you driving? A tricycle?”

“They didn’t want to rent me anything better since I don’t have a passport. And I could hardly afford to wait for a ferry or a train. Besides, they’re even slower than this piece of rust!”

“A ferry? And a train? What are you trying to accomplish? Write a guide on transport in Italy?”

“Shut up and listen, Lucifer. You need to see the news.”

“Why? What’s on the news?”

“It will be better if you see it.”

“Mazikeen,” Lucifer said with exasperation.

“Just watch the news! Then call me right back! And don’t do anything stupid.”

“What news?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

All the noise on the other end stopped and Lucifer looked at the phone in disbelief. She’d just hung up. Cheeky demon. He looked at his companions. “Maze said to watch the news. But she didn’t specify which channel. Apparently it doesn’t matter.”

Chloe walked into the small room with the computer followed by the others and opened the CNN channel. “A message from the Pope to change the world?” she read aloud the title labeled ‘breaking news’.

“The Pope?” Lucifer repeated, as confused as the rest of them. “I thought he was in hiding...”

Chloe opened the video and they all watched what Maze and half of the world had already seen several hours ago.

“Dear brothers and sisters throughout the world. I come before you today, in this difficult hour as a humble servant of God to impart a message of grand importance. The worst of the beasts has escaped from the deepest corners of Hell.”

“Is he mad?” Amenadiel exclaimed.

“We must be strong and we must have faith in this darkest of times and fight this beast as we will all be tested. But know that you are not alone. God is with you. God wants you to fight. And together, my brothers and sisters, we will prevail. I beseech you to join me in this holy war, to forget your differences and your disputes, and to stand together as one. We will be strong in our faith and we won’t bow down before this evil beast! Reach inside your souls and find the strength there. And never doubt God is on your side.”

There was a short pause and then the camera showed a cage placed in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. A Swiss Guard took off the sheet covering it, exposing a demon for all the world to see.

“And the beast is not alone. Look at this creature. What you see is a demon. One of many brought from Hell, intending to destroy everything that is good and holy. To destroy our souls.”

“He can’t be serious!” Vanessa yelled. “Exposing demons to the world?”

“It’s the Devil’s work!”

“Whaaat?!” all four of them exhaled as the camera showed panicking people in the square while the Pope’s voice carried on.

“Lucifer has brought the Apocalypse upon us, believing we will cower in fear and call him our new Lord.”

“Shit!” Vanessa spat. “It’s not the Pope anymore!”

“You think?” Lucifer yelled.

“He’s come to Earth to conquer it! But don’t despair, my brothers and sisters. God is with us. And we won’t stop until the evil is destroyed. We will defeat the Devil and cast him back into Hell where he belongs. Together, we will win!”

“Bloody lying tosser!” Lucifer cried.

“Well,” Vanessa snapped, “at least we know where the Rider is.”

“It did it on purpose!” Lucifer continued, “it took the Pope’s body so it could blame me for all the bad things it’s planning to do! And they call me devious!”

“Or,” Vanessa said, “it took the Pope’s body to find the key. And framing you was just a bonus!”

Lucifer frowned.

“You’re not that important,” Vanessa pointed out.

“Right,” Lucifer replied, offended. “I’ll just take all the blame for every little bad thing that happens from now on.”

“Nothing new then,” Amenadiel said, eyeing his agitated brother with annoyance. If the Rider wanted to send Lucifer into a fit of uncontrollable rage and self pity, it had succeeded nicely.

“Oh, I broke my nail,” Lucifer mimicked in a high-pitched voice with an American accent, “it must be the Devil’s fault!”

Lucifer dialed Maze again and put her on speaker.

“You’ve seen it?” Maze asked.

“Yes! Where are you? I’m coming to pick you up and then -”

“No!” Maze yelled. “You stay put!”

“What?” Lucifer hissed. “If the Rider has possessed the Pope, it knows to whom the man entrusted the key. We have to -”

“What do you wanna do?” Maze interrupted him again. “Go to the Vatican and face that thing?”

“Well, yes!”

“No way,” this from Vanessa.

“Excuse me?” Lucifer looked at the young woman.

“What will you do?” Vanessa challenged. “Talk the Rider to death?”

“Ah -”

“Besides,” Chloe joined in, “you’re wanted man number one now. The news is all over the internet. You can’t just materialize in the middle of the Apostolic Palace, expecting the Swiss Guard to let you anywhere near the Pope. They believe it’s him, they don’t know about the Rider.”

“She’s right,” Maze agreed. “Lucifer, it could be a trap. Remember that the Rider has Eisheth on its side. Which means that it knew exactly how you’d react. It’s probably waiting for you right now!”

“So you want me to do nothing?” Lucifer felt incredulous. All that talk of him being their salvation and taking more initiative and now they wanted him to hide...

“For now,” Maze answered. “I’ll get to the Vatican in a couple of hours and evaluate the situation. I’ll let you know what I find out.”

“And how will you do that? You can hardly walk in the front door of the Palace and without my help you can’t teleport there!”

“No,” Maze said, “but remember the ancient secret pathways in the Vatican?”

“No, not really. I’ve always used the main entrance.”

“Well I do,” Maze admitted. “And I’ll be able to get more-or-less anywhere without being noticed.”

“Yes, but what will you gain?”

“I don’t know yet. Maybe I will find a demon and beat some information out of them. I found a house in Sicily where the Pope and his associates must have been hidden. I smelled blood there. Lots of it. I think that the demons killed everyone except the Pope. Which means the only one who knows who the key was handed to is the Rider. If we’re going to have any chance of getting the key, we have to start with the Rider. Without it noticing. Hopefully the Rider sent Eisheth to get the key. She must have told someone where she was going.”

“That’s a pretty long leap,” Lucifer pointed out.

“Yes, but it’s the best we have,” Maze admitted reluctantly.

“But what if it really is a trap? Wouldn’t you be, you know, trapped?”

“The passages are too old and unstable for the humans to use them. I don’t think they even know about them. I’ll be safe there.”

Lucifer sighed. “Yes. It sounds real safe to me. What do - … bloody hell, she did it again!” Lucifer yelled in indignation. “She hung up on me! No-one ever does that!”

“I have to call Dan,” Chloe said at once as she realized he had no idea what was going on. “There must be chaos in the streets after the news.”

“Yes,” Lucifer replied and started to pace the room, feeling like a trapped mouse. “Now that the Devil’s out of Hell, only God knows what atrocities he’s about to commit,” he said sarcastically.

 

The room filled quickly as all the yelling had woken everyone up. They all watched the news in disgust and then they all had an opinion about what to do next.

“Maybe we should find a new hiding place,” Johann suggested.

“We’re safe here,” Lucifer countered. “No-one knows about it.”

“Yes,” Johann nodded, “but what if someone in Bend noticed God being, you know, God?”

“I didn’t wear a name tag,” God replied. “Or a halo.”

Ella shook her head. She was still in her pink pajamas with a picture of Master Yoda on the front. “Why not go public and tell the world the truth? There’s no need to hide anything anymore since people already know about demons and the Apocalypse. I mean there’s enough evidence of supernatural existence now.”

“And let ourselves be lynched?” Lucifer snapped. “I’m the Devil, Miss Lopez, remember? The bad guy, whose only raison d'etre is to whisper in everyone’s ears to sin. Although, that last part is actually partially true,” Lucifer admitted with a smirk.

“I vote we steal one of those nuclear bombs and throw it on the Vatican,” Charlotte suggested.

They all looked at her like she had grown a second head.

“And that would help us how?” Linda asked, stirring her tea rather aggressively.

“Well, it would show the world not to mess with us. Not to mess with Lucifer.”

“Are you insane?” Lucifer exclaimed. “It would never work. Humans don’t negotiate with terrorists. They hunt them down.”

“And besides,” Chloe added, not really surprised no-one had mentioned the main reason, “it would most likely kill everyone in a ten mile radius but do nothing to the Rider.”

Charlotte shrugged. “I was just having a brainstorm,” she defended herself, insulted that they didn’t take her seriously.

“More like a brain fart,” Lucifer muttered as he took another swig from the bottle of Scotch. He had stopped using a glass about six shots ago.

“Dude,” Ella drawled, glancing at him between watching her iPad, “shouldn’t you be more careful with that? You know, Maze could call you in a couple of hours to get her and I’m pretty sure it’s not safe to fly drunk.”

“First, I won’t fly, I will teleport there. And second, supernatural metabolism prevents me from getting drunk. One of Father’s many jokes. Second only to the platypus.”

“It’s probably for your own protection,” God observed while putting jam on toast, “seeing how much time you spend with alcohol.”

“I think that sucks,” Ella said, frowning. “People – or, you know, angels – should be able to get drunk from time to time. Take the edge off.”

“I have sex for that,” Lucifer replied.

Chloe’s lips twitched in annoyance as something like jealousy made her say what she had thought about Lucifer’s sexual activities for a long time now. “Oh, so that’s the reason you let all those women use you for their pleasure.”

“What?” Lucifer looked at her funny. How had she come to such a ridiculous conclusion? “No, we entertained each other for the pleasure. Not that I’ve enjoyed much of it these past couple of weeks.”

Chloe shrugged, not feeling apologetic at all. “Don’t worry, you’ll never forget it. It’s like riding a bicycle.”

“I’d rather be riding something else entirely, thank you very much.”

“And here we go again,” Ella muttered, not even bothering to say more.

“Oh, don’t look at me,” Chloe waved her hand dismissively but her voice was tense. “I’ve nothing to do with that.”

Lucifer snorted. “You have everything to do with that, Detective!”

“Hm,” Chloe hummed, suddenly feeling ridiculously pleased and trying hard not to show it. “I haven’t noticed.”

“That’s because Lucifer’s playing hard to get,” God threw in and offered His plate of breakfast to the room. “Toast anyone?”

Lucifer grabbed one, staring daggers at his Father. “Thank you, Dad, really, thank you!” he hissed sarcastically but God only smiled at him innocently and Lucifer couldn’t tell whether He was actually dumb or just playing it.

“Anyway,” Linda tried to alleviate the awkward mood. “You must spend a fortune on alcohol.”

“Yes. Why do you think I run a nightclub?”

“Anything on the news, Ella?” Chloe asked to banish the urge to point out that he also had the club for ogling scantily clad, sexy dancers and getting bed partners. “I mean besides the Pope’s speech?”

“Well, there’s just a small amount of hysteria, if that’s what you mean, probably thanks to the fact that most of the world’s leaders made a statement in which they carefully but firmly rejected the Pope’s speech as speculation based on nothing but showing a man with a skin condition and mental health issues.”

“That must be the politically correct term for a demon,” Linda quipped.

Ella shrugged. “Other than that there was only one tweet about using nuclear power if necessary and making Lucifer greatly regret his very very bad decision to mess with the great nation.”

“See,” Charlotte said, “nuclear bombs can be useful.”

Everyone ignored her comment as Ella continued. “The UN is planning an emergency meeting though. They’re going to discuss the problem of spreading terrorism and the message from the Pope.”

“Do you think they suspect there’s a connection between the two?” Linda asked.

“Oh, God!” Ella exclaimed suddenly.

“What?” God turned to her, His mouth full of toast.

“Sorry, figure of speech. I’ve just found a YouTube video posted by Father Sean Branigan.”

“The priest who found Azrael’s body in his church?” Chloe remembered.

“Without a doubt,” Ella answered as she turned the iPad so all could see. There were photos of the dead angel on the cross.

“That’s my child!” Charlotte yelled and took the iPad from Ella’s hands. There were more photos from different angles and with different light.

“Unbelievable,” Chloe whispered. “He must have taken the photos before he called the police.”

“Guess he didn’t have the balls to make them public sooner,” Lucifer added. “Or maybe he did have the balls, just being a priest he didn’t know how to use them.”

The photos ended and the face of the young priest appeared on the screen. His features were forgettable, the short blonde hair and small eyes made him quite boring and dull. Maybe it was the reason he craved attention, Lucifer thought, feeling contempt towards the man.

“As you can see, the words our Holy Father sent us are true. God is real as are angels and the Devil. I found this sacrifice in my church and tried to warn all good Christians, but no-one listened. And what did the police do? They swept it under the rug, pretending it was just another ordinary case. But Judgment Day is upon us! Join our army of good Christians in the holy war against the Devil and give your lives to God.”

“There’s actually a link down here,” Lucifer noticed, pressing the button. “The Army of God. Stand and fight - for your country, for your family, for your soul. Join us or donate,” he read, then looked at his Father. “Congratulations, Dad, looks like you will soon have your own army of faithful followers.”

“Can’t say it’s something I crave,” God replied with a frown.

“And here I remember you were quite pleased with those drooling idiots who followed whatever nonsense their priests told them back in the day.”

God lifted His eyebrows in surprise. “In that case, times change.”

“Really?” Lucifer asked. “What a blow to dear Vanessa and the Templars. And speaking of that member of the tracksuit pants devotees – where’s Vanessa? She was here just a few minutes ago.”

*******

Vanessa marched 200 yards into the forest before she changed the SIM card in her phone to make another urgent phone call.

“Vanessa?” Miller yelled.

“Have you seen the news?”

“Of course I’ve seen the news. It’s pretty condemning. Vanessa, you must talk to me. What’s really going on? What are Lucifer’s plans?”

“The Pope isn’t the Pope any longer, Miller. It’s the Rider. It’s taken his soul and is walking in his body!”

“Vanessa,” there was a sigh on the other end. “I want to believe you, I truly do. But I -”

“Need proof,” Vanessa finished.”

“Yes.”

“Then get some!” Vanessa yelled. “I can’t give you proof, just information. But think about it, Miller. Do you really think that the Pope would say something like that, show a demon to the public and throw the world into chaos?” There was a short pause on the other end and Vanessa hoped Miller was reconsidering his opinion. But he disappointed her.

“Even if it was true, why would the Rider go to such lengths to say those things about Lucifer?”

“Because Lucifer is actually the only one who can stop it! And it’s trying to turn everyone against him!” Vanessa tried to calm herself as she was out of breath, realizing she had been yelling the whole time. Now she decided to share one more piece of information as she still thought the Templars were their best chance despite the possible traitor in the organization. “And the Pope is one of the individuals who have a Rider’s cell key. He sent it away in an attempt to protect it and that’s the main reason the Rider possessed him – to track the next key. Please Miller, send someone after the Pope and draw your own conclusion. If it is the Rider, it smells terribly. And it has a tendency to scratch the victim’s cheek.” Vanessa said and hung up, not sure Miller wasn’t trying to track the number. She knew she would if she were in his shoes.

*******

Rome

Maze finally arrived in Rome and pulled over, jumping out of the car. From now on she needed to continue on foot as the streets were too narrow and cars weren’t allowed in. She didn’t complain; driving on the cobbles wasn’t the least bit enjoyable, especially in that pathetic excuse of a car she had rented.

The city was full of people but it didn’t seem particularly chaotic. There were a few priests on the streets - preaching about the end of the world she guessed given their zeal and booming voices - with clusters of people gathered around them and nodding in agreement to anything they said. She met a few people with huge signs, some in English, saying various things like

- Satan is real

- Pray for your soul!!!

- the Pope serves the Devil

- Don’t wanna face the Apocalypse? Become an atheist – free of charge

- Global warming is man’s doing, not the Devil’s!

There were of course people who were arguing with the sign holders and others who were arguing with them in turn, and the police seemed to have their work cut out for them calming everyone down and taking in the worst troublemakers. Well, maybe there was a mild chaos.

But otherwise the citizens seemed pretty calm given the revelation, just looking around themselves more suspiciously.

Maze looked at the sky – it was already getting dark. She cursed; she’d spent the whole day traveling, accomplishing absolutely nothing. And now she had a plan that would probably lead nowhere. Even if she managed to find a demon inside the Apostolic Palace and catch it without anyone noticing, what were the chances that the demon would tell her where Eisheth had gone to? They probably wouldn’t even know.

And while Maze was traveling from place to place, Eisheth was probably within reach of the key. So pointless, so useless. She had failed, had let her friends down and was feeling miserable about it.

Maybe she could simply hide inside the Apostolic Palace, wait for Eisheth to return with the key to the Rider, and then steal it right from under their noses.

Surely Eisheth would return to her master when she retrieved the key? Maze couldn’t imagine her going down into the Pit to try to open the cell herself. She wouldn’t even dare to enter. No demon probably would, knowing they would go nuts afterward. So it was up to the Rider itself to do it. Maze smiled. If only Mori would make the door in time, she could follow the bastard to Hell, wait for it to walk down into the Pit and then lock it there.

And then fight the hordes of demons who would no doubt try to free it. Nope, not a good plan...

She left the speculations behind and hurried on. First things first. She needed to find the right sewer and then the entrance to the ancient net of passages; if it was still here somewhere.

*******

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

“I’m glad you decided to do this, Lucifer,” Linda said as she sat down opposite him in his room, thinking how much the false revelation would affect her patient.

“What else is there to do? I have time to kill and nothing to kill it with since I’m apparently not allowed to fight in the Apocalypse anymore. Even the Scotch ran out.”

Linda nodded. “Maybe we should ask your Father to join us?” she suggested carefully. She’s been preparing for the God - Devil session for some time now and she felt she was ready.

“What for?” Lucifer asked, perplexed. “We solved things quite nicely at our last session, didn’t we?”

“Ah, that was more like a temporary fix,” Linda countered. “Maybe we should be focused on finding a more permanent solution?”

“But we are,” Lucifer said. “Stopping the Apocalypse will reopen Heaven’s Gate and Dad will return home and pay His debt to me by undoing what He did to the Detective. Permanently.”

“Yup,” Linda said. Why did she even bother?

“Speaking of the Detective,” Lucifer continued, leaning closer, oblivious to Linda’s silent disagreement, “maybe you could have a session with her and explain to her that the desires she’s feeling aren’t real. So that she’ll stop trying to… to seduce me.” Just remembering the morning and the way she pressed herself to him made him want so much more. But that wouldn’t be fair to her, would it?

“And why would I do that?”

“Why? Because she’s making things hard for me. Quite literally.”

Linda lifted her brows, glancing meaningfully downwards. “Well, you can take action to alleviate those pains...”

“Yes, I know,” Lucifer growled in exasperation, “but it’s no fun having a hand-job by myself five times a day.”

Linda groaned. “That’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is that if it’s so hard to resist Chloe, maybe you should consider giving in.”

“You too, Brutus?”

“Lucifer -”

“You know it’s all a sham,” Lucifer interrupted. “You really want me to use the Detective for my own pleasure?”

“Why do you think you’d be using her?”

“How many times do I have to repeat myself? Her feelings aren’t real!” he enunciated the last sentence.

“Maybe. But she knows that could be the case, doesn’t she? And she has free will, doesn’t she? She’s an adult, she can decide for herself what to do with her life.”

Lucifer shook his head, not comprehending what was the doctor trying to accomplish here.

“Just because we were given something we didn’t ask for doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy it,” Linda continued. “You were given a musical talent. Does that mean you won’t use it because you didn’t choose to have it?”

“But that’s different. Chloe was made with the sole purpose of manipulating me!”

“So what’s really bothering you is the possibility that being with her could mean doing what your Father intended for you to do.”

“I...” Lucifer trailed off. Was it?

“Didn’t it occur to you that God might have anticipated your reaction and by not being with Chloe you’re actually doing what He intended you to do?”

Lucifer stared at Linda with trepidation and a bit of admiration. He’d never thought about it this way. But could that really be the case? “But Father never intended to tell me the truth. Amenadiel discovered it by chance.”

Linda nodded, thinking hard. “You mean the brother who was sent to Earth first to bless Chloe’s parents and then once again to make you return to Hell when you were already working with Chloe?”

Lucifer frowned. “What’s your point, Doctor?”

“You said yourself that you had many brothers. Why send this one twice and risk the exposure if it was supposed to be a secret?”

Now Lucifer was rather confused. “Wait! You’re saying that Dad planned to reveal the divine intervention of Chloe’s conception to keep me away from her?”

Linda shrugged. “It’s a possibility.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense! He must know He couldn’t manipulate me then!”

“Maybe manipulating you was simply never His plan. Maybe Chloe’s purpose is something else entirely.”

Lucifer shook his head. It was hard to believe that but he had to admit that the doctor had made several strong points. He was saved from further discussion by his phone.

“Ah! It’s Maze.” He picked up quickly.

“Mazikeen, how is it going? Where are you?”

“I’m in. The tunnels were still there. Although I had to dig and crawl several times,” Maze answered sounding disgusted.

“You’re in the Palace?”

“I’m in the Pope’s bedroom, staring right at him.”

“What?!” Lucifer exclaimed, startled. “You’re in a room with the bloody Rider?”

“No, the Rider’s not here anymore.”

Lucifer closed his eyes for a brief moment, drawing the only possible conclusion. “The Pope’s dead.”

“Not exactly,” Maze replied.

“What?”

“You should probably see this. Do you -”

Lucifer hung up and grabbed the Spear.

“What’s happening?” Linda demanded, staring wide-eyed at the Devil.

“I don’t know. It seems the Rider has moved on to someone else. Maze is waiting for me in the Vatican. I’m not sure when we’ll be back.” Lucifer spread his wings.

“Wait!” Linda yelled. “What should I say to the others?”

“Tell them not to wait for us at lunch. We’ll have Italian today.”

“That’s not -” Linda stopped as Lucifer disappeared into thin air.

*******

Apostolic Palace, The Vatican

Lucifer landed gracefully in the middle of the Pope’s bedroom and looked around. The room was simple, not as lavish as he remembered from the time of the Pope he had provided the prostitutes for. A large bed, a small table with a chair and a wardrobe. Almost like Lucifer’s bedroom in Oregon. Only the frescoes of saints on the ceiling and paintings of Biblical events on the walls by long dead masters made it far from ordinary.

Lucifer found the Pope sitting in a chair, his back to him, and Maze staring at him with disgust. She had a cobweb in her hair and smudges of dust on her face and clothes. And there was the smell of urine in the air. The price poor Maze had had to pay for using the secret tunnels...

Lucifer folded his wings and made them disappear and then walked slowly around the chair to face its occupant. And he gulped, feeling dread crawling up his spine. There were few things that could scare the Devil but this one was definitely one of them.

The Rider wasn’t in the Pope anymore – that was quite certain. But the Pope, unlike all the previous victims, wasn’t dead. Not completely at least. He sat on the chair, slightly hunched over. He looked almost sinister in his white cassock and the small red hat resting askew upon his white hair, but the urine dripping off the chair and the saliva running down his chin distorted the image of dignity. His eyes were open but stared at nothing in particular.

“What…?” Lucifer rasped, unable to complete the sentence.

“I think that the bastard left him alive because it plans to return to his body. He even doesn’t have the mark ‘one’ on his cheek like the others.”

“You mean the Rider took several bites of the soul and then left?”

Maze shrugged. “Yeah. I hid behind the door and heard it talking to Eisheth over the phone. Then when I heard a gurgling noise I chanced a peek and saw a black something going out the window. It looked like smoke but it was more like… nothing.”

“The Rider in its true form.” Lucifer had never seen it and hearing Maze he didn’t desire to have the honor. “Do you know where it went?”

“I searched the room and the study next door but found nothing. But I figure it was heading to the nearest Gate to Hell.” Lucifer nodded. That would explain why it left the Pope behind - it couldn’t just drag a soul that didn’t belong in Hell with it.

Maze looked at Lucifer meaningfully as she continued. “The Riders’ cells are in the Pit. No demon would go down there to open them.” Lucifer understood. The Rider would have to go itself, and it would probably do it as soon as it got the key.

“You think Eisheth found the key and is on her way to Hell to meet the Rider.”

“Yes.” Maze looked at the ground, feeling something she had never felt before; guilt. “I should have gone to the Vatican as I originally planned but a demon pointed me to Sicily. And I was too late.”

Lucifer sighed. “Well, we both seem to be disappointing these last couple of days. I guess we can’t count on Mum being right that the cells can be opened only in the right sequence. We should probably go and try to take the key from the Rider before it opens another cell. I don’t know how fast this thing can travel but I guess I can get us to the Pit’s entrance faster.” It seemed like a logical thing to do but Lucifer didn’t like the idea. First of all, he didn’t know what they would do once they met the Rider in its real form and second, the thing would probably have hundreds of demons with it.

“Maybe we don’t -” Maze’s words were interrupted by a growl coming from the Pope.

“We should kill him before we go.” Maze nodded towards the old man.

“What?” Lucifer barked. “We can’t do that! He doesn’t deserve to die.”

“Look at him! He’s dead already.”

“No, not completely,” Lucifer argued but he knew Maze was right. But killing him wouldn’t make it any better. It was the soul that was damaged beyond repair, not the body.

“The Rider let him live. It means it plans to use him again. And we both know how much damage it can do as the fucking Pope!”

Lucifer sighed. No arguing there. “They’ll just elect another Pope and the Rider will have fresh meat.”

“But it will take a while,” Maze pointed out.

“Alright. But... I’ll do it.”

“Are you sure?”

Lucifer nodded. He felt the Pope was his responsibility. If he had taken the key from him when he’d had the chance, like Vanessa had said, the Pope might still be alive and well. He took one of Maze’s knives and came nearer.

“I’m sorry,” Lucifer whispered and readied the knife. But hesitated when it seemed the Pope reacted to his words. Well, he had blinked and growled again if it counted as a reaction… “Mr. Pope?” Lucifer asked tentatively and the man growled once more.

Lucifer turned to Maze. “I think some conscious part of him is still in there.”

Maze rolled her eyes. “He’s just a vegetable.” She stepped forward intending to do the job but Lucifer stopped her.

“Hold on. If there’s still any functional part of his soul inside, maybe he can tell us something. He had the Rider hitching a lift so he should know everything the creature does.”

Maze shook her head. “I’ve been here for a while. The only thing he did was pee himself. I doubt he can put two words together.”

“Maybe he just needs a little help,” Lucifer said and stooped down to put his face level with the Pope, careful not to step in the puddle under his chair. He looked into the man’s eyes with all the intensity he could muster. “Mr. Pope, you remember me, don’t you? I’m Lucifer Morningstar. We spoke together several days ago. You refused to give me the key. See where it got you?”

The Pope blinked twice and moved his lips silently.

“Now it’s time to rectify your mistake. You want the Apocalypse to be stopped, don’t you? You don’t want another Rider to be released, right? Isn’t that what you desire? I can help with that. Now, do you know where One went?”

The Pope’s mouth moved again and more saliva ran down his chin to fall onto his cassock. Lucifer realized that he was actually trying to answer but it seemed he had problems getting the words out. Lucifer leaned even closer to hear him better.

“Cassock?” Lucifer repeated what he believed he’d heard. “Coos cow? Oh, you mean Cusco?!”

“Psst,” Maze shushed him. “The Swiss Guard is just two doors away.”

“Right,” Lucifer whispered, focusing back on the Pope. “The Rider went to Cusco in Peru?”

“That can’t be right,” Maze said. “What would it be doing there?”

“Last link,” the Pope whispered. “Ludwik Kamiński, Resbalosa street.”

Lucifer smiled. “I see. The Rider didn’t go to Hell, it went to help Eisheth get the key location out of some poor sod she couldn’t torture the truth from.”

“Black box,” the Pope whispered, and then he blinked and stopped moving altogether.

“Black box?” Lucifer repeated. “That’s where you hid the key?” But the Pope didn’t react anymore.

“You believe him?” Maze asked.

“Yes. He has no reason to lie and besides, preventing the Rider from getting the key is his greatest desire. And you know no-one can lie to me about that.”

“So all we have to do is to get to this Ludwik Kamiński before the Rider arrives and then persuade the person to tell us where he hid the box.”

“Well, and fight Eisheth and the bunch of demons she will undoubtedly have with her.”

Maze smiled. “I’m counting on that.”

“Right. Let’s go then,” Lucifer said and spread his wings. But Maze nodded towards the Pope.

“Oh, this,” Lucifer whispered as he refocused on the Pope, feeling bad about what he had to do. He had never hesitated in killing the demons, not because they weren’t humans but because they had chosen the Rider’s side. This was war and in war soldiers die. He knew that killing the Pope was a necessary and merciful thing to do but still he hesitated. He didn’t know why but killing the old man bothered him more than he was ready to admit. But the Pope was his responsibility. And adults didn’t run away from their responsibilities - at least that’s what he’d heard. He took a deep breath and then...

Maze delivered one neat stab to the back of the Pope’s neck, severing the spinal cord and killing the man instantly. “Let’s go,” was all she said to the stunned Lucifer as she pocketed her knife and came to him, grabbing his shoulders. Lucifer didn’t say anything, he just waved his wings and teleported them to Cusco.

*******

Temporary headquarters of the Knights Templar, near Vancouver, Canada

Colonel Andrew Miller closed his laptop and sighed tiredly while he rubbed his eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time he had done something other than work. Like sleeping or eating or speaking with someone besides his colleagues. But the destruction of their headquarters had left the Templars in chaos and everyone had worked extra hours for the past few days to restore it to working order. And that was the one thing they needed the most given the events that were happening in the world. They needed to discover what was really going on and then take action.

Miller stood up from his desk to stretch his stiff muscles and noticed a man approaching his meager office. He glared with thinly veiled hatred at the person who was confidently marching towards him through the white hallway, entering the last glass door that separated them. He despised that smug black face crowned with thick white curls. He should be glad Haley hadn’t been elected the next Grand Master but still, the blowing up of their headquarters had left holes in the organization that needed to be filled. And Haley was now filling one of them. As the newly appointed general he was Miller’s superior now. Oh, that was ridiculous; that man was completely full of himself and his skillset certainly didn’t include strategic thinking. His only reason for joining the Templars was to reach the top so he could rebuild the organization in his own sick image. And now he wasn’t far from it. The new Grand Master, Antonia Norman, was 77 years old. Only God knew who would succeed her, given their leaders’ inability to see Haley for what he was.

“Colonel?” Haley said as he stopped in front of Miller, towering over him by one full head. His clothes were neat and spotless, his blue cravat pinned to his white shirt. Everything was in its place on this person, no room for any kind of rebellion. And thinking about rebellion…

“I was informed that Vanessa Burrow made contact.”

“Yes,” Miller replied curtly. He should have known it would get to him eventually.

“And? Did you track her location?”

“The contact wasn’t long enough,” Miller lied smoothly. He quite didn’t believe what Vanessa had said but he still trusted her. If she said those things, it meant she believed them herself. Either she was right and they were all in much worse trouble than they had originally thought, or the Devil was toying with her.

“I see,” Haley replied, obviously not believing him. “I guess that’s why they promoted me instead of you.”

Miller clenched his fists in anger. He was trained well to control showing his emotions but it didn’t mean he didn’t feel them.

“So, what did Miss Burrow have to say for herself?” Haley asked.

“She said that they’re hiding because they believe there’s a traitor in the organization.”

“Well, she’s right, isn’t she?” Haley said, making Miller’s brows jump in surprise.

“You know about the traitor?”

“Sure. Vanessa Burrow is the traitor, becoming Lucifer’s whore and joining his army of demons. They must be having a good laugh at our incompetence. Should expect nothing less from those miscreants.”

Miller fought hard not to punch the man in the nose. “Why would she contact me if she was a traitor?”

“Maybe she wanted to know what we know. You didn’t tell her anything, did you?”

Miller shook his head. What could he possibly tell her – they knew nothing. They just had thousands of theories, all of them lacking any evidence. “She said something else. According to her, a Rider of the Apocalypse has escaped Hell.”

“Ah… heard that fairytale before,” Haley snorted, remembering his short encounter with the Devil and getting out of it with an injured face and dignity.

“With all due respect, general, it might not be a fairytale. Vanessa tells me that the Pope might be the Rider’s target and the next day the Pope makes a speech about the Apocalypse.”

“So?”

“You really believe that the Pope would make such a speech?” Miller asked, using Vanessa’s own argument. “Reveal the truth to the public so callously?”

“Well, he already did that,” Haley pointed out.

If it was really him,” Miller added. “Vanessa said that the Rider can possess souls. I had the Pope’s speech analyzed and the results are quite interesting. The vocabulary and speech patterns don’t exactly match with the Pope’s previous speeches.”

“Hm… Hardly evidence for him being possessed. Maybe he just has the flu. But we should make an appointment with the Pope anyway. Just to be sure.”

“I’ve already sent someone to him.”

“Who?”

“Simon Gerber.”

“A German?”

Miller shook his head. “He’s a Swiss. After the attack on the Apostolic Palace four days ago the numbers of the Swiss Guard were greatly reduced and needed to be replenished quickly. We managed to push one of our men inside. He made his vows just yesterday.”

“A Swiss Guard?” Haley lifted an eyebrow questioningly.

“I thought a careful approach would be wise. I sent him to investigate undercover. He should be getting to the Pope as we speak. Actually I’m waiting to hear from him any minute now.” Before he finished the sentence, his phone rang.

“Put it on the speaker,” Haley said.

Miller pushed the button. “Gerber, this is Miller and Haley. What did you find out?”

“The Pope is dead,” a trembling young voice with a heavy accent replied.

“What? What happened?” Miller yelled, startled.

“I sneaked into the Pope’s private chambers and heard voices. I hid behind the door to his bedroom and looked through the keyhole. Lucifer was leaning over the Pope, speaking to him. There was a woman too, a demon by the look of her.”

“Are you sure it was Lucifer?” Miller asked.

“Yes. He said so much himself to the Pope. I’m not sure what the Devil wanted with him, I couldn’t hear properly but he had him in some kind of a trance, trying to get information out of him. The Pope sent him to Cusco to find a Ludwik... something... who is supposed to have a black box.”

“The key from another cell,” Miller concluded quickly. “What about the Pope? You said he was dead? Was he possessed?”

“No, I don’t think so. I searched for the signs you told me about. There’s no mark on his face and, well, he does smell but he... ah…” there was an awkward cough, “he peed himself. It’s not such a horrible smell. He looks like he suffered a stroke or something.”

“That’s how he died?” Miller asked.

“No, sir. It was Lucifer’s demon. She killed him.”

“There you go,” Haley noted, staring at Miller meaningfully. “So much for Lucifer being the good guy here. Or anywhere else.”

“Where’s Lucifer now?” Miller asked, trying to stay calm.

“They disappeared. After they killed the Pope, Lucifer spread his wings and just disappeared.”

“Alright,” Miller said. “Just get out of there as soon as possible.”

“Cusco,” Haley repeated as Miller hung up. “There’s a base near the city, isn’t there?”

“Yes,” Miller replied.

Haley nodded. “Call them. We need to get this black box before Lucifer takes it. God knows what’s in there and why it’s so important.”

“Maybe it’s the key the Rider needs to open another cell,” Miller said, willing to entertain the possibility but even he had to admit that Lucifer killing the Pope didn’t look good for Vanessa's story.

“Let’s stick with entities we know are real,” Haley snapped. “Send the troops.”

“This could get ugly,” Miller pointed out.

Haley smiled. “So let it get ugly.”

Chapter Text

Cusco, Peru

Lucifer managed to land in a long, narrow alley, letting Maze go as soon as his feet touched the ground. Their arrival was met with a loud shriek.

Lucifer turned to find a young local woman staring at him wide-eyed, clapping her palm over her mouth. She seemed to be rooted to the ground, her eyes falling out of her sockets until Lucifer folded his wings and let them disappear.

“Sorry about that. I would have landed at the airport but it’s too far from here,” he joked. The words helped the woman to remember she could move and she decided to do just that. She turned and ran off screaming.

Maze rolled her eyes. “We should get out of here before more locals come to ogle us.”

They turned and headed in the opposite direction the woman had run to, navigating the long, narrow cobbled alley lined by high buildings covered in worn-out white plaster.

“Fucking cobbles again,” Maze cursed as she stumbled. She blinked in the bright sun; the sky was blue without any clouds as it was midday here, whereas in Italy it was already dark. This time shifting was going to kill her… Not to mention the fact it was actually winter here, Peru being in the southern hemisphere. It wasn’t that cold though. Despite Cusco being in the Andes and quite high above sea level, they were close to the equator and the sun shone with considerable strength. But whenever the thin air stirred, it brought a wave of cold with it, making Maze shiver. Although her leather pants and sleeveless top were certainly very fetching, as Lucifer would say, they were in no way sufficient for a demon who was accustomed to a much hotter climate.

“This is it?” Maze asked, looking around as they neared the exit of the narrow street.

“Well, this is Cusco. I have no idea where Resbalosa street is, otherwise I would have teleported us there.”

Maze humphed, cursing Vanessa once again for getting them those ancient phones unable to connect to the internet. “Let’s call Ella.”

Lucifer nodded but before he could fished his phone, it started ringing. “And speaking of the Devil’s admirer,” Lucifer said as he picked it up. “Miss Lopez!”

“Dude, where are you?” Ella yelled at the other end.

“Cusco. We actually -”

“There are attacks again all over the world. Hong Kong, New York, Tehran, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Paris and more. Big ones. And this time the demons aren’t even trying to hide the fact that they’re demons! Wait, you said Cusco? What are you doing in Cusco? There are no attacks there.”

“We’re after the key. The Pope gave us an address the Rider had gone to, presumably to interrogate some poor chap who knows where the key is. But if we hurry we might get there first.”

“What? The Pope? How -”

“Long story, no time. We need you to navigate us to Resbalosa street.”

“But what about Hong Kong, New York, Tehran -”

“We have no time to study geography right now, Ella!” Lucifer yelled to stop her. “It must be a diversion. To point us elsewhere in case things get ugly here.”

“Are you sure -”

“The location, Miss Lopez. We’re in…” Lucifer turned around. “Where are we?”

“Pasaje Hurtado Alvarez,” Maze supplied, reading a small sign on a wall.

“Yes. We’re just leaving Hurtado Alvarez passage to Quera street.”

“In that case, turn right, on the second crossroad left, then right again. You’ll get to Plaza de Amras. Go diagonally to the opposite corner and then take Suecia street, turn right on the next crossroad and then left and you’re in Resbalosa.”

“Got it.”

“Wait, Vanessa wants to talk to you.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Tell her we’ll do everything within our power to stop the Rider from opening the next cell. Even if it means following it to Hell.” Lucifer hung up.

“Lucifer,” Maze started, remembering she had a secret to share and no time to share it. “I have to tell you something.”

“Can’t it wait, Maze? I’ve got the general location of the street, I can teleport us there.”

“What? No!”

Lucifer lifted his brow in a silent question. “Everybody knows about the Devil now, no need to hide.”

“We have the element of surprise on our side, let’s use it and get there unnoticed. We don’t know how many demons there are or if the Rider has already arrived.”

Lucifer shook his head. A demon was telling him to be careful. But he had to admit, Maze had a point.

“Alright. It’s not that far, anyway.”

They left the narrow passage to find themselves in another narrow, yet rather busy street. There was a cobbled road where barely one car could fit with narrow sidewalks on both sides. The buildings holding various shops looked worse for wear, some of them looking half pulled down, others looking like they were already being rebuilt.

People who passed them looked strangely at them, some even smiling, but Lucifer didn’t blame them. They really didn’t fit with their lack of warm clothes and the Spear in his hand. They didn’t look like tourists and they sure as hell didn’t look like locals.

Lucifer blinked as he saw Maze make a swift move and grab a passerby by his neck, pushing him through a broken barrier into an abandoned construction site. She pinned him to the brick wall of an unfinished house.

“Nice catch,” Lucifer commented as he realized Maze had found them a demon. The creature gulped, seeing Lucifer’s eyes turn red while Maze searched his pockets, fishing out a phone and handing it to Lucifer.

“Oh, look at that. Even demons have smartphones while we...” he sighed heavily, shaking his head, as he opened the phone and found nothing but silly messages about food, women and weather.

“Speak and maybe we won’t kill you,” Maze hissed, pushing the demon roughly against the wall.

“I can’t. Eisheth will kill me if I tell you anything.”

“So she’s here,” Maze concluded. The demon’s eyes grew theatrically wide.

“I didn’t say that!” he protested and squirmed in Maze’s tight grip.

“You didn’t have to,” Lucifer pointed out. “We know that she’s here. We’re here to kill her.”

“So you see,” Maze continued, “if you tell us what you know, we will kill Eisheth and she won’t be able to hurt you.”

The demon’s eyes darted to Lucifer’s.

“You have my word,” the Devil assured him and it seemed to do the trick.

“She’s in a house on Resbalosa street, number 532. It’s the last house at the top of the street. She’s waiting for the Rider to arrive. She found the last person to have the Pope’s key but he doesn’t have it on him. And he refuses to speak. She plans for the Rider to possess him and find out the key’s location.”

“How many demons?” Maze asked.

“About a hundred. About six of them are guarding the house and the rest are patrolling the streets.”

“Why?” Maze asked.

The demon shrugged. “To look for anything suspicious. Like you.”

“And when you find us…?”

“We’re supposed to send a message to Eisheth and then wait for a command.”

“That’s why you have the phone,” Maze noted.

The demon nodded jerkily.

Maze banged the demon’s head against the wall, sending him into oblivion. She took the phone from Lucifer and pocketed it. It could come in handy if some demon saw them - Eisheth would send a message.

Maze glanced back at the demon on the ground. “We should kill him.”

“A promise is a promise, Mazikeen. He won’t wake up before we get to the house.”

Maze nodded. “We’d better hurry before another demon spots us.”

Lucifer nodded. The problem was that they were in no way unnoticeable - Maze in her leather pants and too few garments for the climate and Lucifer in his Armani and polished shoes. Not to mention the Spear; even unlit it was an unusual piece nobody with eyes could miss. “We’re not exactly inconspicuous. We should have learned from the Douche how to blend in. He’s an expert when it comes to invisibility.”

“Yeah, we need a disguise.”

They left the construction site and continued along Quera street.

“You don’t want us to dress like locals, do you?” Lucifer asked, noting that the heirs of the Incas tended to wear either very colorful, cheap clothes or very dull, dark colored… cheap clothes.

Maze snorted. “Of course not. No-one would buy it. You’re three heads taller than any local. We’re going to pretend to be tourists.”

“Oh? Will we get maps and one of those guide books they carry around?”

“Something like that,” Maze answered and pulled Lucifer after her.

They stepped out of the narrow street and found themselves on a corner of Plaza de Armas. It was a busy, large square with a large, grand fountain in the middle, around which were areas of lush green lawn and colourful neat flower beds. Two huge stone cathedrals loomed above surrounding rows of much smaller, colorful houses with arcades.

“I believe we should go that way,” Lucifer pointed at the far end of the square.

“Not yet,” Maze said and continued pulling Lucifer along. He understood her intention when she stopped in front of four older native women sitting on rags on the ground and selling hats, gloves and sweaters. The dark skinned sellers with pigtails smiled at them and started to show off their merchandise, turning the hats upside down to demonstrate they were reversible and yelling ‘alpaca’ while waving the sweaters in the air.

“No way,” Lucifer informed Maze.

Maze pointed at the dozens of tourists milling in the square. Almost all of them wore something bought in Peru.

Lucifer sighed theatrically. “The sacrifices I make...” He grabbed one of the hats. He really didn’t care much which one as they were all practically the same; woollen with Inca patterns, writing on the bottom with a pompom on top and ear-flaps ending with a braid. But they did differ in color. Lucifer put a green one saying ‘Viva el Peru’ on top of Maze’s head, while he picked a red one with ‘I love Cuzco’ for himself. After a moment of hesitation he grabbed another, white one, and threw it over the Spear to cover the blade. Meanwhile Maze chose a gray sweater to cover her half-naked state and picked one more to hand over to Lucifer.

“No, the hat is where I draw the line.”

“Come on,” Maze hissed. “The demons will recognize you easily like this. We have to blend in.”

“There will most definitely be a fight at some point. I can’t fight wearing that,” he pointed at the offending piece of wool.

“It’s just until we get to the house. You can tear it off before the fight.”

“Pity I forgot to wear my Superman costume today,” Lucifer muttered, looking grim.

Maze rolled her eyes and pushed the gray sweater into Lucifer’s hands, silently urging him to put it on. Lucifer clenched his teeth but did it as he realized that people were actually staring at them.

“I think this should cover it.” He handed the women a 100 dollar bill, making one of them gasp.

“At least it’s hand made,” he muttered as they hurried across the square.

Maze mustered the courage to tell Lucifer about Mori but as she opened her mouth he suddenly stopped and faced the huge cathedral. A big sign was covering the cathedral’s facade saying No tenemos miedo del Diablo and a priest was preaching something in front of it. Now Maze didn’t understand much Spanish, but the message was clear anyway. Someone was blaming the Devil for the Apocalypse. And now he’d gotten the Devil’s attention.

“Lucifer,” Maze called. “We must go.”

“Right,” Lucifer uttered, sounding hurt, “to save the world and all the good people in it.” But he didn’t move and a huge scowl was marring his handsome face. Maze decided this was the perfect time to inform her former boss about what she had discovered in Hell.

“I spoke with Mori.”

Lucifer’s head whipped around, the priest all but forgotten. “You did what? Why in Hell would you even think to speak with that duplicitous bitch?”

Maze started walking again and this time Lucifer followed. “I thought she could help us. She is the master forger and I thought maybe she could forge a new door for the Rider’s cell. Since we don’t have the key from the original one.”

Lucifer snorted. “And how did it go? Let me guess. She ran you over and then sent you packing? Not that it matters, the door to the cell can’t just be replaced. The whole cell is unique and… well, in one piece now that I think about it.” Lucifer couldn’t remember seeing any hinges on the door – nor on any cell in the Pit.

“I actually made several interesting discoveries,” Maze interrupted his musings.

“Hmm?”

“Hell is alive. Did you know?”

Lucifer scoffed, thinking Maze was making fun of him. But when she didn’t smile, he asked, “What do you mean, ‘alive’?”

“I mean it lives. It grows.”

“That’s nonsense, Maze. Father’s mojo is what makes Hell expand.”

“Yeah. But why can’t the ‘mojo’ be life? You know the souls are safe from the Riders in Hell’s chambers. Just like they’re safe in human bodies. You said that yourself. Mori even saw the Rider trying to pass through a door but it couldn’t. The only connection between Hell and human bodies is that they’re both alive. So I think the Rider can’t get through living matter.”

Lucifer glanced at the Spear he carried in his right hand and frowned. Was it a coincidence that they had in their possession a tool that was supposed to create living matter? And had Father really made Hell alive?

“So I asked Mori to forge a door from Hell’s fires.”

“A door from the same substance demons are made of? But then it will be -”

“Alive,” Maze finished. “That’s the point. But unfortunately you were right that we can’t make another door to the Rider’s cell though – apparently your Daddy made those Himself, mixing in something special to make it unbreakable. But I guess it doesn’t matter since we have no way to get the Rider to enter its cell anyway.”

“Are you going somewhere with this, Maze?”

“Yes. Mori will forge a living door to the Pit. If the Rider gets the key, it will have to enter the Pit to open another cell so I guess we could lock it in there.”

Lucifer snorted, shaking his head. “And you think the demons won’t try to free it?”

Maze glanced at him, knowing very well this was a big hole in her plan. “We would have to guard it for… well, the rest of eternity.”

“Well, I’ve thought a lot about my future lately, but being a jailer, again, didn’t cross my mind. But I’d say it’s as good a plan as any in case the Rider gets the Pope’s key and goes to open the next cell.”

“There’s something else you need to know,” Maze took a deep breath. “You remember that Hell’s bleeding?”

Lucifer nodded.

“That’s because the Rider’s demons are killing it. Mori thinks they’re trying to kill it so all the souls will be released and the Rider can eat them. The one million dollar question is what will happen when they dig as far as the Pit.”

“Bloody Hell!” Lucifer yelled, making two tourists turn their way. “Quite literally!”

They got to the corner of the square and continued along narrow Suecia street. It was one of many that led up the hill as the ancient city of Cusco spread from the basin to the mountains around it. They hurried between the rows of white, yellow and pink-tinged small family houses, meeting just a few tourists and even fewer locals. Some of them seemed nervous, having probably heard the news about the attacks happening in cities all over the world.

Lucifer was very careful not to accidentally touch anyone with the Spear, remembering what the result looked like. He wondered again if the Spear had a power they could use against the Rider given the revelation Maze had provided. Because God must have chosen to include the Templars by sending them that message through the Commandment stones for a reason. And the Spear was as good a reason as any.

“There’s something I need to tell you as well,” Lucifer said, telling Maze all about Charlotte’s translation, their experiment with reviving the poor rat and his theory that God needed the Spear from the Templars to fight the Rider.

“You might get a chance to test that theory soon,” Maze pointed out as they continued up the street.

“Let’s hope not,” Lucifer replied. He had no wish to face the Rider in its true form.

“We’re here,” Lucifer said, pointing at the intersection of Resbalosa street. He pulled the hat lower on his head and slouched a bit to make himself more inconspicuous. When they reached the corner they peeked carefully around; the street led steeply up the hill, so steeply that there wasn’t a road so much as a long, cobbled stairway. And it was empty as far as they could see. But the problem was that the street wasn’t straight; it snaked up the hill so they couldn’t see to its end where the house was supposed to be.

Maze glanced at Lucifer and he shrugged. They turned into the street and walked the stairs slowly, careful to spot movement before it spotted them. At the first bend they squeezed into the recess of a doorway, and peeked around the corner.

There were five people in the street, two looked to be tourists while the rest, who were leaning against the walls and watching the street, must have been demons judging by their leather clothes.

“Now what?” Lucifer asked. “I can’t see how we can get inside quietly.”

Maze turned and snatched a map from the tourist’s bag as the couple passed them and continued without noticing they were one map shorter. “I’ll get rid of them. You wait.”

Lucifer lifted his eyebrows at Maze’s commanding tone but didn’t say anything as the demon pulled some hair over her eyes from under the green hat and lowered her head to stare at the map. She walked slowly up the stairs towards the demons, pretending to study the paper in her hand. She stopped in front of one of them, asking about directions. As soon as the demon leaned closer, Maze let go of the map and reached for her knives, slicing the demon’s neck effortlessly then sending both her knives flying at once, each finding its target in the eyes of the two remaining demons. They went down without a sound.

“Well done, Maze,” Lucifer congratulated her while she retrieved her knives.

They paused at the door and listened but it was ominously quiet. The house looked abandoned with gray and white plaster falling off the walls and wild plants growing on the roof. There was no window they could reach to peek through but Lucifer had no doubt Eisheth and the prisoner were behind the door. The demons weren’t patrolling here just out of boredom. They had sex or fighting each other for that.

“On three,” Maze mouthed and prepared her knives. Lucifer nodded and counted on his fingers. On three he soundlessly unlocked and quickly opened the door, allowing Maze to run in only to find the small hall completely empty. The house looked uninhabited. But the argument coming from behind one of the closed doors got their attention.

“Maybe he doesn’t speak English,” a male voice said.

“Nonsense!” It was Eisheth who replied. “You do speak English, don’t you, you religious freak. You just won’t yield.” There was annoyance in her voice but a bit of admiration as well. “But never mind that. The Master will be here soon. And you won’t be able to hide anything from him.”

Nic nie powiem,” a weak voice rasped and repeated the words again and again, getting weaker.

“Whatever...” another voice replied.

“Hope the Rider gets here soon. This is boring. Can’t we at least keep torturing the guy?”

“No!” Eisheth yelled. “The Master wants him alive. We can’t risk his soul going to Hell. It would take ages to find him there.”

Maze looked at Lucifer and showed him five fingers, indicating how many demons she thought were on the other side of the closed door. Lucifer cocked his eyebrow. He held up four, but Maze shook her head vehemently. She remembered her failure in Hell in counting and thought they’d better count one demon too many than one too few. Lucifer nodded then and took the hat off the Spear’s blade, igniting it with a surge of power. Maze positioned herself in front of the door and without bothering to count this time kicked it open and rushed in.

Ha! Five demons it was. Eisheth reacted first, jumping from her sprawled position on top of a bed. Maze didn’t bother with the rest of the demons who all seemed to be sitting around relaxing, didn’t pay any attention to a guy in a scarily bad condition tied to a chair in the middle of the room… she was focused solely on Eisheth. The demon had no weapon on her, she was an easy target. It would be an almost disappointingly quick and painless demise...

“Bitch!” Eisheth yelled, getting to her feet in time to block Maze’s attempt to stab her right in the heart. Her right hand momentarily trapped, Maze used her other to deliver a nasty slash across Eisheth’s face, making the demon scream. She only wished her aim was better – a little deeper and she could have sliced Eisheth’s bones. But no luck there. The demon managed to catch Maze’s other hand and kick her in the stomach, making Maze stumble backwards. She felt someone grab her neck from behind but before she could react she heard a bloodcurdling scream and in the corner of her eye saw the demon behind her collapse into ashes.

Lucifer cursed when he saw Maze rush towards Eisheth again, not paying attention to the rest of the demons. Right - he could take care of all the rest. He had managed to kill two of them already but two more were in the room, one on each side of Lucifer and keeping their distance. When Lucifer neared one, the other followed his steps, making him turn and retreat again. They each wielded a Hell-made sword and were no amateurs when it came to fighting, given their calculated moves. Lucifer concluded he had gotten lucky with the first two, the element of surprise being on his side. But now that advantage had been lost and he had to think how to kill them both at the same time or risk being killed himself.

Eisheth used the distraction of Maze’s stumble to throw a pillow at her. Maze dodged but wasn’t fast enough and the fluffy thing hit her on the head. The pillow exploded into a cloud of feathers which flew into the air and whirled around like artificial snow.

A pillow! She threw a fucking pillow at me, Maze cursed to herself, spitting out a white feather. She watched in horror through the curtain of fluff as Eisheth used the distraction to jump out of the window.

“No!” Maze yelled in frustrated anger. She’d been so close to killing that bitch! She hesitated just for a split second before she also jumped out of the window and started to give chase.

“Maze!” Lucifer bellowed but the demon was already gone. He decided to use the all present feathers as cover and, feigning a lunge towards one of the demons, he turned quickly and threw the Spear at the other one, hitting him right in the midsection. The blade passed through his body, turning it into a bonfire before penetrating deeply into the wall with supernatural ease.

Lucifer felt rather than heard the last demon taking a quick step up behind him and let his wings pop out, catching the demon across the chest and knocking him backwards into the wall. He felt a sting as the demon’s sword slashed his wing but it didn’t bother him as the feathers healed the wound immediately. He turned to pick up the sword the demon had dropped and stabbed it right into his heart.

The room quietened as the last of the feathers landed on the demon ash-covered floor. It was a very simple room, Lucifer noted, with a bed, a broken wardrobe and a chair in the middle. Besides himself, there was only one living person left. Lucifer hurried to him and used the sword to cut the ropes that bound his arms.

“You’re what’s left of Ludwik Kamiński I presume?” Lucifer asked, crouching in front of a young man who looked like the Gestapo and KGB had been taking turns on him. Lucifer felt a pang of sorrow for the guy. And admiration too if he was honest. The man was missing an eye, several fingers, most of his teeth as far as Lucifer could tell, and his face was every color imaginable but the natural one. He had multiple cuts and severe burns all over his naked chest as well as a broken arm. And still he hadn’t revealed the location of the key. Unbelievable.

Ludwik blinked his one blue eye at him, taking in the image of a feigned tourist in a red woollen hat and gray sweater, but realized his true nature as two pearly white wings spread from his back. They glowed warmly, divine and utterly out of place in his hellish surroundings.

Lucifer noticed the man was staring at him with something similar to religious devotion, and he shivered in revulsion.

“I’m Lucifer,” he said to end the man’s unpleasant stare.

Ludwik sobbed, making Lucifer frown. Now, was he sobbing because he was relieved to be rescued or because he thought that Satan had come to have his turn?

“You may not believe it but your boss – well both of them actually - the Pope and God – sent me.”

“I… I need proof of your identity,” the man said in English with a heavy accent.

Lucifer lifted his eyebrow in surprise – he wasn’t accustomed to people asking about his identity after they’d witnessed the wings. He changed his face for a second, making the Pole start in surprise and then moan in pain as he’d involuntarily moved his battered body.

“I believe you,” Ludwik said and sobbed again.

“Good. For a moment I was worried you’d want to see a tail. Now... the key.”

“The key?” Ludwik asked like he’d never heard the term before.

“Yes. The key from a Rider’s cell the Pope entrusted to you.”

“The Pope?”

Alright – did he have the right man or not? “Yes. Old man in a funny red hat? He wants me to take the key from you.”

The man blinked again and took several deep breaths, hissing with pain. “Is that what’s in the box?”

“Yes, the black box… Hold on – didn’t the Pope tell you what you were carrying?”

“I’ve never spoken to the Pope. The Bishop of Kraków gave me the black box. I was supposed to give it to a person I trust and they were supposed to give it to another one and so on until God came to collect it. Or in case things got bad we were supposed to give it to you.”

“Me?” Lucifer asked, not sure he’d heard right. The Pope trusted him enough to give such an order?

“Yes.”

“Alright then,” Lucifer answered, feeling honored and yet like another huge burden had been put on his shoulders. He eyed the man with worry. One thing was clear – he couldn’t leave him here for the Rider to find.

“Let’s get you out of here and patch you up,” Lucifer said and reached for him.

Ludwik shook his head slowly. “Nie. No time. The monster.”

“I know,” Lucifer replied. “We must get out of here quickly.” He let the sword slip to the ground and grabbing the man he tried to help him stand. But he just made him cry in pain and as his knees had given up they both slid to the ground. Ludwik grabbed Lucifer’s forearm and squeezed him tightly.

“The box,” he panted and Lucifer realized he was fighting to stay conscious. “I hid it in Muyuq Marka in Saksaywaman. It’s where the next person... will retrieve it this afternoon.”

“Why on Earth would you make the delivery so difficult?”

“We know each other... from the Internet. No face, no name. We thought it better... to keep it that way.”

“Right. You can tell me all about it later.”

Nie!” the man cried again and again squeezed Lucifer’s arm, with a surprising strength for someone in his state. “I can’t… Just... kill me.”

“I can’t do that.” Lucifer shook his head even though he believed this guy would be better off. There were several very good reasons why he couldn’t do that.

“Please, kill me.”

Lucifer shook his head. “I’m sorry...”

Zabij mnie!” Ludwik repeated pleadingly.

“You don’t understand. Given the heroism you’ve just performed you’re on a highway to Heaven, the golden trumpets ready to play you a glorious fanfare. The problem is that Heaven’s Gate is closed which means no trumpets for you. After you die you’re stuck here. And the Rider doesn’t give a damn whether you live or not. It can possess your soul either way and get the information it needs. Unless of course you committed a mortal sin and went straight to Hell…”

Lucifer realized it was the wrong thing to say soon enough. It didn’t occur to him to stop Ludwik from picking up the sword and by then it was too late as the man had impaled himself on it.

“Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled. “What did you do that for?”

“Suicide,” the man managed to whisper before he breathed out for the last time.

“Oh.” Lucifer rolled his eyes. “You idiot!” he yelled to the soul that had just appeared next to the dead body. “That sin is considered unforgivable only if it’s committed for a selfish reason. You did it to stop the Apocalypse! You really think you would go to Hell for that? Just look at yourself!”

Ludwik’s soul blinked and he looked down. He was whole again, no missing fingers or eye. And he was clad in a white robe, looking like one of the Apostles from the paintings in his favorite church. “Am I a saint?”

“No, you’re a moron wearing a tasteless imaginary sheet! Which doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a saint too... but no, you’re just stuck here for the bloody Rider to get you!”

“What happened?”

“You killed yourself,” Lucifer explained, not bothering to say more as souls got very confused over their passing as the traumatic experience was suppressed for their own mental health.

“No, I don’t think I’d do that.”

“You have. Now we must hide you somewhere so the Rider won’t find you.”

“How long have I been dead?” Ludwik asked as he stared at his dead body he barely recognized.

“About a minute,” Lucifer snapped and turned around, searching for a place to hide the soul.

“Really? It doesn’t feel like that. It feels like... could it be seven years?”

“No. Come here,” Lucifer waved at him as he opened the door to the hall. He presumed that the Rider didn’t know what Ludwik looked like so it would be best to hide him among the people and other dead souls in the streets. Just in plain sight. The demons couldn’t see him and the Rider wouldn’t recognize his face thanks to Eisheth’s work on the body. “Are you coming?” Lucifer repeated as the soul hadn’t moved.

“But I’m dead. I have no legs. How can I move? Am I supposed to float?”

Lucifer growled. Bloody newly deceased souls! “No. Just think about going in this direction and come.”

“OK,” the man said but still didn’t move.

“Bloody hell, I don’t have time for this,” Lucifer cursed and reached for his phone. He dialed Maze.

It took time before Maze answered the call and when she did, there was panting on the other end.

“Where are you?” Lucifer demanded.

“I’m not sure. I followed Eisheth but…” Maze growled, “I lost her in a crowd of retiree tourists. They decided they all needed to take a photo all at the same time and blocked the whole street.”

“Forget Eisheth. She’s not important. I have the location of the box. We should pick it up before the Rider arrives. The stupid Pole killed himself and now his soul is stuck in place and unable to move. He’s a sitting duck!”

“Fine. Where is it?”

“It’s in Muyuq Marka in Saksaywaman.”

“Muy- … Sa- … English please?”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Saksaywaman. It’s an Incan citadel at the north end of the city. Not far from the house. I believe you can get there on your own?”

“Yeah. I’m on my way.”

“Right. And Maze, next time please don’t run out on me in the middle of a fight,” Lucifer said with notable anger.

“It’s not like you needed my help but… fine,” Maze retorted and hung up.

Lucifer grabbed the Spear still lodged in the wall and pulled it out, making the wall crack from top to bottom. He shrugged, picked up the white woollen hat from the floor and covered the blade again, and hurried outside.

He was greeted by three people staring at the dead bodies of the demons from a respectable distance. They took a frightened step backwards as he stepped over one of the corpses, but Lucifer ignored them. He turned quickly up the street and when he reached the end he found himself in front of a church. He heard a scream behind him; someone had probably just discovered the dead Pole… He didn’t care, he didn’t have time…

There was another scream though. And several more, this time coming from his left. “El Diablo!” someone yelled and Lucifer stopped to check himself – no devil face on, no wings visible – why were people screaming? And pointing… wait not at him but at the sky?

Lucifer turned and froze. He fancied himself to have seen everything but he had certainly never seen… nothing. A cloud of darkness the size of a truck hovered above the houses. It looked composed of black liquid or smoke. Completely alien in Creation, moving not through space but next to it as far as Lucifer could tell, given the weird diffraction of light around it. Its shape was changing constantly as it moved slowly to the house Lucifer had just vacated, then descended right through the roof.

“Bloody hell!” Lucifer yelled as he realized it would probably take the Rider just a few seconds to learn the location of the key from the confused soul.

“Bugger it!” he cursed and spread his wings in the busy street as he had no other choice - desperate times, desperate measures. More people yelled and screamed, this time pointing at him, calling out ‘un ángel’ instead of ‘El Diablo’.

“Wrong again,” Lucifer hissed, and with a powerful stroke of his wings, leapt into the air and teleported himself to the citadel of Saksaywaman.

Chapter Text

Cusco, Peru

Leaving the crowd of shocked onlookers behind Lucifer waved his wings, teleporting himself to right above the citadel of Saksaywaman. He glided at a respectable height over the site for a few seconds, looking over the ruins to find a deserted and secluded part to land unnoticed. He hoped no-one would spot him as the tourists had their eyes glued to the gigantic gray stone walls.

The ruins zigzagged through the archaeological park in three rows, creating terraces and enclosing a large, natural plateau with the remains of the Saksaywaman citadel. A huge yellow grassy plaza lay to the north, at the foot of the citadel’s massive walls.

Lucifer glanced at the remains of the Muyuq Marka tower where several tourists wandered around ogling what was left of it; the foundation formed three concentric circles with several rectangles around them. According to the Pole it was where he had hidden the key. Right in plain sight...

Lucifer briefly considered landing right there but it would no doubt draw attention and he had no time to pose for pictures and give autographs. He chuckled. Yeah that would definitely happen... He spotted a secluded corner on the second terrace of the wall and with one sweep of his wings teleported there.

He made his wings disappear as soon as he landed and started to follow the huge stone wall, touching the gray limestone briefly as memories flooded back. The fortress was a mystery to humans; some of the stones were too heavy to have been moved here by primitive tools and every one of them was cut into a unique shape to fit precisely with the others without leaving space big enough to put a sheet of paper in the chink. But it was no mystery to Lucifer. It had all started with a deal with a certain Incan king…

Lucifer found the entrance to the last level of the wall and after ascending onto the hill he hurried over a large grass plain to the remains of Muyuq Marka. Ignoring the two dozen tourists milling around he stepped over the border rope and frowned. There was nothing left but the stone foundations, yet they were by no means small and if Ludwik had hidden the key well, the search would take forever.

“Excuse me, sir?” a very British snobbish female voice called. Lucifer looked back to find two old ladies staring daggers at him. “I don’t believe you’re allowed to go in there.”

“I know. I’m a rebel.” He turned and started to systematically search for the box, pushing aside the grass with the end of the Spear’s handle as he went.

“If you won’t come out, I’m afraid we will have to call a custodian,” the pushy voice continued.

Lucifer ignored them in hopes they would drop it and let him search in peace. He certainly had no time to entertain the ladies right now.

 

Maze hurried through streets that all seemed the same. She knew she had to head up to the northern edge of the city but she asked for directions from time to time anyway. “Saksaywaman?” she yelled at a small man selling baked potatoes and he showed her the way.

Maze heard a phone beep as she started to jog again and fished her cell out. There was no message though. Maze stopped as she realized it must have been the other phone; the one she had taken from the patrolling demon. She searched her pocket again and getting the smartphone she saw there was a message. She opened it.

Lucifer at Saksaywaman. The key must be there. Everyone there now! Find the black box. Kill Lucifer.

“Shit!” Maze cursed and dialed Lucifer’s number as she started running once more.

 

“Yes?” Lucifer yelled impatiently into the phone, frustrated that he couldn’t find the box in the ruins.

“The demons know!” Maze panted on the other end. “They’re on their way to you! All of them.”

“Well, demons don’t bother me. Much. As there’s something else that is on its way towards me, Maze. The Rider is in the torture house. It’s about to find out the key’s location and then come to retrieve it.”

“Have you found it?”

“No! The bloody Pole must have hidden it real good.”

“Hold on, I’m coming!” Maze yelled.

Lucifer was about to answer when one of the tourists who’d berated him earlier shrieked, pointing her finger behind Lucifer. And probably saved his life as he turned and dropped the phone in time to catch a hand with a dagger just few inches from his heart.

The demon bared his yellow teeth as he tried to wrench free from Lucifer’s grip but he wasn’t strong enough. Lucifer decided he was done hiding and ignited the Spear. As it lit, the white hat that had been covering the elegant blade caught fire and turned into dust. The demon’s eyes grew impossibly round and he watched in helpless dread as Lucifer swung the Spear and cut him in half; both parts turning into ash before they hit the ground.

Now more tourists started shrieking as panic spread. Some of them ran, scattering in every direction while others seemed rooted to the spot.

Lucifer turned back to the stone foundations, intending to resume his search, but was interrupted by a voice behind him.

“Suelte el arma!” a slightly quavering voice yelled.

Lucifer turned once more and found a small guard pointing a gun at him. The man blinked, realizing he had spoken in his native language and repeated the words in accented English, “Drop the weapon!”

“No lo haré,” Lucifer replied and turned back to his task, ignoring the order.

“I will shoot!” the guard insisted, his voice rising in volume.

Lucifer turned back with a growl. “Bloody hell! I don’t have time for this. You want to shoot me? Do it and then leave me alone!” he yelled, exasperation and anxiety making his eyes turn red.

The guard yelped, pulling the trigger and shot Lucifer right in the chest. The bullet bounced off Lucifer’s body, leaving just a small hole in his clothes.

“Sorry, amigo, I’m here until the end of the world. Which may not be so far away,” Lucifer added with a sarcastic snort. And then he watched as the man’s knees began to wobble, his jaw went slack and the gun fell out of his hands.

“Oh please, now you’re just overreacting,” Lucifer growled, incredulous at the man’s reaction; just a glimpse of his glowing eyes usually didn’t scare people shitless. But then he realized he was wrong on both counts. The man wasn’t overreacting at all and he wasn’t looking at him either – instead he was staring wide-eyed past him into the sky.

Lucifer turned and blinked, dread crawling up his spine as he saw a black nothingness slowly moving through the air towards Saksaywaman. More shrieks sounded from everywhere as the black mass was hard to miss. He heard the guard yell and run away. Lucifer didn’t blame him. He would do the same if it didn't mean total and utter annihilation. He turned and started to heave stones aside in quick succession, looking for the black box with renewed vigor. He still had time. About a minute given the slowness at which the Rider moved.

“Where are you? Come on! Where are you?

His frantic search was interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Lucifer straightened to find a couple of policemen trying to shoot the Rider out of the sky. What a typical human reaction to the unknown; trying to shoot it dead. But in this case they were right to try to kill it.

Lucifer watched as the shooters peppered the black matter with bullets... And the creature didn’t show even the slightest reaction. Mental note – don’t try to punch the Rider in its true form. More police cars were racing over the grassy plaza below the citadel. They must have been chasing the monster for some time now. The cars stopped and the reinforcements hurried up the walls to the Saksaywaman. Still panting, they aimed more guns at the black mass and started firing, but unfortunately the result was the same. The Rider kept coming, undisturbed by the humans’ efforts to stop it. Most of the tourists had already fled, yet some, either stupider or braver than the others, stayed to watch and take pictures. Lucifer wondered what was it they thought they were witnessing... aliens returning to their creation?

“Lucifer!”

Lucifer looked back to find Maze sprinting towards him, red and sweaty with exertion, dodging around the shooters and avoiding the rubbernecking tourists. He noticed three demons were on her heels and came to her aid, killing two with a single swing of the Spear while Maze stopped and turned to deliver a kick and a fatal stab with her knife to the last one. No-one paid them any attention as they were all transfixed by the black mass flowing through the air.

Maze gasped for breath as she looked at her former boss in the gray sweater and the red hat. She too was still in her disguise, not bothered by it as they had a much bigger problem now.

“The key?” she asked, staring at the Rider with worry. The thing was so close now she could see the air quivering around it. It was as big as a garbage truck but its shape was constantly changing. The movement reminded her of a slowly flowing, dense liquid.

“I can’t find it!” Lucifer yelled over the barrage of police gunfire. “Either the Pole hid it real well or someone took it.”

Maze shook her head, pointing at the Rider. “We don’t have time.”

“Right,” Lucifer agreed, staring at the mass. It was now or never – time to test the Spear in real battle. “I’ll buy you some time, you find the black box.”

“What are you gonna do?” Maze yelled, catching Lucifer’s elbow in alarm.

“Something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. Be a superman,” Lucifer joked and with the words he ripped off the offending sweater along with his jacket, leaving just his shirt on. “Only with better taste in clothing. And better looking of course,” he added as he spread his wings and jumped into the air.

Maze wanted to roll her eyes at him but was temporarily too petrified for Lucifer’s life. He flew right through the hail of bullets, yelping slightly as the things stung and with the shining Spear pointed in front of him he headed towards the Rider at neck-breaking speed. The policemen yelled something in Spanish, temporarily confused by the new player on the battlefield, and stopped firing to join the tourists in watching.

The Rider didn’t seem to react to the approaching angel at all and Lucifer wondered whether it could even sense his presence or not. Keeping the risk at the minimum as he didn’t fancy being swallowed by that thing (if it could do that), Lucifer changed direction at the last moment, passing the Rider with two feet to spare and swinging the Spear so its tip drove into the mass. The Spear lit even more for the short moment of contact and then dimmed again as it reappeared, whole and sound to Lucifer’s relief.

There was a screech almost like fingernails scratching over a blackboard accompanied by a surge of the typical stink of the Rider and the creature moved swiftly away from the intrusion. It almost looked like a reflex - drawing back from a blow.

“Didn’t like that, did you?!” Lucifer yelled in elation as he circled the Rider. It had stopped its progress and was just waiting. There was no visible wound in the Rider but Lucifer knew the Spear had done something to it - at least it had provoked a reaction. Maybe mother and Maze were right and the Spear could create living matter and maybe the Rider really couldn’t stand that.

Lucifer charged again, using a similar method to the first time and dodging at the last moment he gashed the Rider again. The creature made the strange noise once more and moved away from the blow, not stopping this time as it restarted its descent. Lucifer flew right in front of it and plunged the Spear deeper than before. Lucifer snorted. It was almost like poking a jellyfish...

The Rider moved away again but this time it changed its shape from a ball to a long noodle, encircling Lucifer before he could realize what was happening. He felt like he was being disconnected from the world, the black nothingness filling every piece of space around him, cutting off the air and light and noise, leaving just the terrible smell of the Rider inside the quickly forming cocoon. Lucifer panicked for a moment before he remembered his wings and teleported out of there, reappearing again several yards away.

“Right, be a bit more careful then,” he muttered, shaken by the unpleasant experience. He didn’t want to know what would have happened if the Rider had cut him off completely. It couldn’t get inside his body, as he was made of living matter but could it harm him another way in this form? Lucifer didn’t plan on finding out, and prepared for another attack.

 

The panic on the ground was replaced by exclamations of awe as the policemen and some braver tourists watched spellbound the strange dance in the sky. Maze had held her breath in dread as Lucifer was engulfed by the black mass, but let it out in a sigh of relief when he teleported safely away. He flew to a safe vantage point above his opponent and Maze realised she was wasting precious time. She quickly started searching the ruins for the box.

She turned stones and combed the grass but she couldn’t find anything. Then she heard the firing start again and when she lifted her head she found a dozen demons climbing the stone walls and attacking everyone on the plateau. They carried various blades, were all clad in leather, and stood out like a sore thumb.

The few remaining tourists finally started to run away or hide behind the line of policemen but not all of them were quick enough and the demons slaughtered them. More and more demons were spilling over the walls and the police focused all their firepower on them but killing them wasn’t easy at all. Maze reached for her guns. As fun as knives were, she needed something more efficient here. One gun in each hand she started firing too as the demons approached; one bullet – one head – one dead. She noticed two older ladies running her way, trying to escape the swarming demons. They jumped over the rope awkwardly as Maze killed the demons following them.

“Hey!” she yelled at them as they cowered behind her, panting and looking like they were both about to have a heart attack.

“Help us!” one of them cried.

“Sure,” Maze replied, killing another demon. She was quickly running out of bullets. “I’ll protect you if you help me find a black box.” She couldn’t shoot and look at the same time.

“A black box? But it’s not here,” one of them replied. That got Maze’s attention.

“What?”

“We noticed it behind a stone earlier and told a custodian about it. He took it away,” the other said.

Maze turned to her. “Where?”

The woman shrugged. “To the lost property office? I believe it’s next to the southern entrance?”

Of course it was… and Maze had run right past it. She looked at more approaching demons, knowing she had to get through them all to get to the entrance and cursed.

“You will protect us now?” one of the ladies asked in a small voice.

Maze rolled her eyes. She turned and looked at the woman, revealing her demonic face. Both the ladies screamed and started to run away again.

Maze glanced up at the sky; if Lucifer could teleport to the lost property office, it would save them a lot of trouble. Problem was, he was otherwise engaged.

 

Lucifer was sweating and panting, the exertion catching up with even his angelic powers. The constant quick dodging and lunging was unbelievably tiring. And he was starting to doubt it was worth it. He had slowed the Rider down considerably but it was still moving. And it was pretty low already, a mere ten feet above the ground and Lucifer realized that another attack was useless. This part of the battle was over.

He soared higher again and looked over the battlefield. It seemed that all Hell had broken loose on the ground, dozens of demons attacking at once and the police losing ground fast. He saw Maze joining in the crazy firefight and then talking – right, she had time to talk! - to the two British battleaxes. He saw her drop the guns and take out the knives. She took a run-up and zigzagged between the demons and the rest of the police, avoiding flying bullets and occasionally killing demons who crossed her path. That was his Maze! But what was she doing? Had she found the key? She didn’t have any box on her person as far as he could tell… Had she gotten bloodthirsty and gone berserk? It wouldn’t be the first time...

Lucifer realized he should probably go after her but the Rider got his attention again. It had changed direction and was aimed for a severely wounded policeman bleeding to death on the yellow grass. Lucifer watched partly in fascination, partly in horror as the Rider changed into a twisting snakelike shape and used the dying man’s screaming mouth to enter his body.

Meanwhile over the noise of shooting and screaming came the rumble of engines of heavy vehicles. There were about half a dozen of them approaching on the grassy plain below the fortified plateau, all carrying the coat of arms of the Peruvian army. The soldiers jumped out and joined the crazy battle on the ground. Some of them shot those demons climbing the walls while others raced to the citadel to help the thinning line of police.

 

Maze blinked in disbelief as soldiers appeared and joined the battle. Bullets were flying everywhere and she was sure she was a dead demon as there was nowhere to hide. But then she realized that none of the soldiers were aiming at her. She saw one of them help two tourists to their feet and push them to the path leading down the walls. And as another soldier beckoned to her she understood – they thought she was a tourist as well. This silly disguise had saved her life!

“Señora! Corra!” the soldier yelled at her and she decided to play the role. She hid the knives and ran to him. Joining the small group of survivors she followed the soldiers down the walls and let them steer her to the road leading to the entrance of the archaeological park. More tourists joined them as the park was evacuated, the soldiers trying to protect the scared fleeing people of various nations, shooting the demons who seemed to be coming from every direction now.

 

Lucifer used the chaos to fly over the ruins of Muyuq Marka in hopes of spotting the black box from above but all he saw was yellow grass and gray stones. Maybe it wasn’t there anymore. Or had the Pole lied to him?

“Lucifer!” the Rider in the policeman thundered as Lucifer flew above it. It looked angry. Very angry.

The soldiers stopped firing at the demons for a split second and looked up.

“Right,” Lucifer breathed, realizing the soldiers had no idea the policeman was possessed as they had arrived after the Rider had taken his body. He decided to follow Maze on her wild rush through the battlefield but flew headlong into a hail of bullets. They hit his chest and wings, even his legs and face. They didn’t hurt him – much. It was like an attack of a thousand angry bees without any permanent damage. But the onslaught was distracting enough to make him lose balance and Lucifer started to fall. He panicked; all the memories of the big Fall engulfed him for a moment and left him paralyzed – long enough for him to drop from the sky and hit the ground hard, the Spear falling out of his hand.

The bullets stopped and Lucifer lay on the ground groaning in pain. Now, that landing had hurt. He blinked but his vision seemed impaired as all he saw was dim red light. Another wave of panic started to rise but then he realized what the problem was. He reached to his face and drew aside one of the ear-flaps of his red hat. He discovered two soldiers standing over him and aiming rather large guns at his chest, staring at him in wide-eyed dread.

“Oh, hello there,” he said. “Now this might seem unlikely but I’m on your side so -”

They opened fire.

Lucifer yelped. “Bloody hell! What did you do that for?”

It only earned him more bullets. And they stung horribly from such a short distance. Lucifer growled, his eyes turning red and despite the bullets turning his clothes into rags and his body into one enormous bruise he got to his feet, grabbed the soldiers’ weapons from their hands and tossed them right over the citadel. Seeing their weapons take to the sky the two soldiers decided to withdraw. More stared at Lucifer, not knowing what to do with him while still shooting at the never ending line of demons.

“I said,” Lucifer bellowed, anger bubbling inside his chest, “I’m on your side!”

“But that’s not what they believe, is it?!”

Lucifer turned and gulped. The Rider was standing just several feet from him and it had the Spear in its hand.

“That’s mine,” Lucifer hissed.

“Then you shouldn’t have dropped it!” The Rider said, stroking the blade lightly.

“Careful, it’s dangerous. God’s divinity and all that...” Lucifer said yet watched in the hope that the Spear would hurt the creature. But the weapon seemed inert in the Rider’s hands.

The Rider bared its teeth as it actually sniffed the Spear. “Yes. I could smell its divinity from miles away. It stinks even worse than yours.”

“Well you’re certainly the expert on stinking,” Lucifer pointed out; he could smell the Rider again, reeking worse than he remembered.

“Now,” Lucifer growled, “give me back what is mine!”

The Rider grinned. “You want it? Why don’t you come and get it then, little angel?”

Lucifer growled again and bared his teeth as his eyes turned crimson. Driven by his anger he didn’t think as he spread his wings wide again and soaring into the air he charged the Rider head first. The Rider swung the Spear above its head and Lucifer had barely enough time to dodge the deadly blade. But he wasn’t fast enough and a searing pain seized his leg as he landed awkwardly several feet further. He clutched the wound on his thigh that was bleeding profusely and stinging like hell. Looked like the Spear was able to hurt him too. But no more than a Hell-made weapon it seemed.

“How did you like that?” the Rider mocked. It was obviously craving revenge and seemed to be enjoying a little payback.

Lucifer yanked out a small feather and put it on the wound. It started to glow immediately and a second later the wound was healed and the pain gone.

“It’s time you face the truth, Samael. You can’t beat me. Not even with your wings. Not even with this weapon.”

“Well, I’ve barely started!” Lucifer yelled. “And I can tell you really didn’t like my poking you with my Spear... Bloody hell, that came out all wrong.”

“You still have time to take the deal,” the Rider continued. It ignored the soldiers behind its back, calling to the policeman the Rider was wearing, confused by his strange behavior.

“You mean to join you, give you the keys and let all of humanity both on Earth and in Hell be eaten by you? Let me think about it... No!”

“As I said before I’d let you, your family and your friends live.”

“Except they wouldn’t be my friends any longer if I joined you,” Lucifer said, pondering what Chloe would think of him then.

The Rider shrugged. “I will get what I want. With your help or without it.” And then Lucifer watched as the Rider’s eyes turned to the remains of Muyuq Marka. If it had been in the soul of the Pole, it must know the exact location of the hidden key. Maybe, Lucifer thought, he could wait until the Rider retrieved the box and then take it from it. After he took the Spear from it, that is...

Meanwhile the soldiers had finished evacuating the tourists and the wounded from the plateau and were slowly retreating in formation to protect themselves from the oncoming demons. Suddenly the sound of their shooting was drowned out by the distinctive sound of a helicopter. Lucifer looked at the sky behind him and blinked. Correction – helicopters. Three black machines were approaching low and fast from the west, making Lucifer wonder what they had in mind; the troops must have a reason for retreating before all the demons were defeated. Could the helicopters be the reason? Did they plan to bombard them or something?

“Find the key!” the Rider yelled suddenly, pointing at the ruins. All the demons on the plateau abruptly stopped trying to kill the soldiers and hurried to do the Rider’s bidding, running in Lucifer’s direction. But they didn’t pay any attention to him, they all started combing the grass like an army of inept gardeners. So weird, Lucifer thought. Obedient demons… I’ve forgotten what that was like.

 

Maze soon reached the southern entrance and ran inside an adjacent orange building. It was abandoned. She ignored the maps and souvenirs and jumped over the counter to a door that led into a small supply room. She looked around shelves full of boxes and, looking inside one after another, she was relieved to find one with things that didn’t look like souvenirs but more like lost property. There was a camera, a single shoe, a notepad and at the bottom – a black box.

Maze withdrew it carefully as it seemed to be old and fragile. It was a small metal cube with edges about five inches long. There was a small padlock on it. Maze took off her green hat, put the box in it, and using the braids on the ear-flaps she tied the box inside the hat. She dialed Lucifer to inform him the mission was completed but he didn’t pick up.

“Shit!” Maze cursed as she realized she would have to go all the way back for Lucifer. She turned to leave but her path was blocked. Eisheth stood in the door with her feet planted wide apart, a sword in her hand, and her yellow eyes glowing with excitement through the blood still oozing from the gash Maze had put on her face. Her usual tight red leather clothes were covered by a blue Incan sweater; obviously she had learned from Maze.

“You found me,” Maze pointed out, only regretting she didn’t have enough time to play with her.

“I never lost you,” Eisheth said with a smirk. “How do you think we learned about Lucifer being here?”

Maze bared her teeth in anger. “You overheard our phone call.”

Eisheth smiled proudly, enormously pleased with herself for outwitting Maze. “Yes. And when I saw you run inside this building, I knew you must have had a good reason.” She nodded towards the hat with the box.

“I’m surprised you’re brave enough to face me again. I remember quite clearly how you scurried away from me just a half hour ago.”

Eisheth smirked. “Well, I didn’t run from you, did I? Now that you don’t have your devilishly handsome former boss to protect you, I think it’s time we dance.”

Maze’s eyes lit with expectation. She had been looking forward to it. And one thing was clear – only one of them would walk away alive…

 

Lucifer watched as two of the helicopters stopped above the plateau swarming with demons while the third continued on to the large plaza below the walls where the fight between the more coming demons and the army still raged. They were big machines with two horizontal rotors and their side doors were thrown open with armed men aiming at just about everyone on the ground, especially him, he noticed bitterly.

And then Lucifer noticed something else. There was no coat of arms on the machines and the soldiers didn’t look like the ones on the ground. These were clothed in black uniforms that reminded Lucifer of… ninjas?

“Bloody Templars! What are they doing here?” he wondered aloud.

There was a moment when nothing happened; the men in helicopters staring at those on the ground, the demons and the Rider staring up in return. Lucifer realized this was his best chance to get the Spear back, and in the blink of an eye he teleported right in front of the Rider. Taking it by surprise, he punched its face and grabbed the Spear, then tried to teleport away. But to his dismay, nothing happened. The Rider still held the Spear as did Lucifer – was that what prevented him from teleporting?

The movement on the ground seemed to be what the soldiers in the helicopters had been waiting for as they all opened fire on the demons. Bloodcurdling screams filled the air, making Lucifer flinch. He could swear he’d never heard demons screaming like that. Then the shower of bullets reached him and the Rider… except as they penetrated the Rider’s skin, Lucifer could see they were not bullets but rather small darts. If there had been any doubt in Lucifer’s mind about the soldiers’ identity, it was gone now. No ordinary army would possess weapons able to turn demons into useless banshees. What was inside those darts?

Now the darts might hurt and incapacitate demons but they did nothing to the Rider. Suddenly the Rider yanked hard on the Spear, pulling Lucifer off balance. Taking advantage of his stumble the Rider wrenched the Spear in an attempt to make Lucifer release his hold. Comprehending the Rider’s intention Lucifer clutched the Spear tighter and knowing his opponent was much stronger, he decided to use the advantage of his wings. He leaped into the air, flapping his wings madly as he pulled the creature with him into the sky.

More darts came their way as they passed the helicopters. The darts bounced off Lucifer, making even more holes in his already scanty clothes, stinging slightly. They didn’t concern him but what about Maze? He should get to her. After he dispensed of the Rider and found the key…

Lucifer pumped his wings, soaring higher and higher into the sky, then stopped their fast ascent and veered sharply, hoping the centrifugal force would dislodge the Rider.

It didn’t. The Rider held fast and because of the change of direction it actually managed to kick Lucifer viciously in his favorite parts.

“Now, that was below the belt!” Lucifer squeaked, fighting the pain.

The Rider’s answer was a right hook, making Lucifer’s head spin, and he almost lost his hold on the Spear. Lucifer recovered quickly, realizing that even in the air the Rider was stronger than him. Seeing the creature to pull its fist back again Lucifer dove, folding his wings to his back and letting the both of them plummet in freefall. Using small movements of his wings he made them turn in midair and the Rider had no choice but to hold on tight with both hands.

As they rapidly neared the ground Lucifer figured out what to do with his burden. One of the choppers was right under them, its blades rotating at a blinding speed. Lucifer spread his wings to arrest their dive a mere five feet above the spinning blades, and as gravity made the Rider’s body swing around the Spear’s handle and fall below Lucifer’s outstretched hands, the machine did its bloody work; hacking into the Rider’s lower body and making gory body parts fly in every direction.

Lucifer felt his burden lighten considerably but he was shocked to discover he hadn’t gotten rid of the Rider. Not all of it at least.

“Oh, you’ve got to be joking!” he yelled as the Rider hissed at him, its hands still holding the Spear as blood rained down from its upper body - the only thing that was left of the host. The lower part was severed at the abdomen with the rest of the spine and the intestines hanging out.

“Get lost!” Lucifer bellowed and flew over the helicopter again to repeat the procedure. He changed his mind at the last moment as he saw it would be too risky – he didn’t fancy being batted into space - and flying higher he shook the Spear in the hope that the Rider would finally let go. But the only result was organs falling out of it and landing on the front window of the helicopter. Now Lucifer hoped the machine had a good windscreen wiper.

“Don’t you think you’re overdoing it a bit?!” Lucifer bellowed as the Rider used one of its hands to dig its nails into Lucifer’s wrist. Lucifer twisted and turned in the air again and again, kicking the Rider’s torso in an attempt to make it lose its hold but the creature held fast. And it grinned at him! Lucifer growled in exasperation and decided to change tactics – he lit the Spear, but the handle did nothing to the Rider. Then he remembered how he had burned the Rider’s hand to ashes by touching it in Boron and thought to try it again. But he didn’t dare release his hold on the Spear, not even one hand. So he tried to increase the Spear’s temperature, hoping it would burn the Rider anyway but the Spear didn’t react to his attempts.

“Give it up, Samael!” the Rider yelled with a grin. “You won’t get rid of me!”

Lucifer growled. He had to admit that the Rider was probably right. “Well, if at first you don’t succeed, cut a deal...” he muttered and making a decision he flew lower until he was next to the one of the helicopters, hovering in the air at a respectable distance and facing its occupants.

The soldiers stopped firing as soon as the strangest thing appeared in their line of vision.

“Hello there!” Lucifer greeted them. “Would you mind?” he nodded towards the burden hanging on the Spear’s handle.

The soldiers stared at him open-mouthed, not reacting at all.

“I’ll make you a deal!” Lucifer didn’t give up as the Rider started to scratch his hand again. “You shoot this thing off and I’ll get you nice, fashionable uniforms! No more tracksuits pants for the knights!”

He finally got his answer albeit not the one he had been hoping for. The soldiers switched their guns and started to fire – the real bullets for a change - but not just at the Rider.

“What?! I’m on your side, you idiots!” Lucifer bellowed as the bullets stung horribly, making him beat a hasty retreat. Luckily for Lucifer though the Rider was in the way and most of the bullets had hit it, turning it into a bag of holes and destroying most of its muscles and bones. Lucifer kicked the remnants of the body again and again, the arms finally broke and the Rider fell, leaving just the hands on the handle of the Spear.

“Finally,” Lucifer breathed out in relief as he prised the fingers off as well. He glanced down at the plateau of Saksaywaman and blinked in disbelief. It was a slaughterhouse down there. Dozens of demons lay all around the place, the grass and stones stained with their blood. Those who weren’t dead were screaming, writhing, kicking, and gouging their own skin bloody. The Templars from one of the helicopters were sliding down the ropes and shooting those demons who moved too much.

Lucifer noticed the black mass of the Rider flying out of the remains of the policeman’s body before it hit the ground. The Rider did the strangest thing - it neared the chopper delivering the soldiers on the ground and snaked around it just as it had around Lucifer’s body before. The pilot was too late to notice and the black mass soon covered the whole machine like a cocoon, swallowing it easily. The noise of the engine vanished and Lucifer wondered if the helicopter and the Templars in it were gone as the Rider moved higher in the air, making the other chopper move to keep its distance. And then the Rider stopped and changed shape, opening like a present box and several men fell out of it – stark naked. The helicopter and everything else was gone and Lucifer realized that the Rider must have eaten them. It seemed it could eat things other than souls; everything but living matter.

Lucifer watched the Rider enter one of the injured Templars and as soon as it took control of the new body it got to its feet and killed the rest of the fallen knights.

Lucifer gulped. Now the chances of him finding the black box – if it was even at the ruins anymore – were almost nonexistent with the Rider and the rest of the demons and the Templars down there all trying to kill each other. Besides there was something else to worry about – Maze.

 

Maze put the box covered in the hat on a shelf and withdrew her knives. She played with them a bit just to relax her wrists and muscles before the strain. Eisheth did likewise with the long sword, showing off.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time,” Eisheth purred.

“Likewise,” Maze replied.

“Now Lucifer will finally realize he chose the wrong demon as his first in command.”

Maze scoffed. “Still haven’t gotten over the fact that he doesn’t like you?”

“He liked me alright when I sucked his cock!”

Maze laughed. “I bet he let you do it just to shut your mouth.”

Eisheth yelled with outrage and attacked Maze at full speed. Maze moved to the left, avoiding the lunge and turning a somersault she managed to get behind Eisheth. Jumping to her feet Maze kicked the demon in the back of her knees before Eisheth could turn and as she went down, Maze’s arm shot out, the knife slicing Eisheth’s face. Eisheth yelled in pain but had managed to draw back in time to make the wound only superficial and raising the sword she swung blindly, managing to catch Maze across the stomach.

Maze jumped back, pressing her hand over the wound. It hurt like hell but luckily it only slashed her skin and muscles. She’d live. Maybe…

Eisheth got to her feet, pressing her palm into her cheek and glaring daggers.

“Had enough?” Maze taunted.

Eisheth withdrew her hand from her face and looked at the blood. “Hardly.”

Maze smirked. “I thought so.” Knowing she was at a disadvantage with her short knives Maze made a plan. As Eisheth prepared another lunge, Maze pulled her hand and threw her knife at the demon. As expected Eisheth used the sword to protect herself, batting the knife sideways and leaving her torso unprotected. Maze threw the other knife quickly. Having no time to swing the sword back, Eisheth had to dodge the blade, falling to her knees – as expected. Maze used the distraction to pull with all her might at the shelving and the heavy metal structure fell on Eisheth, pinning her to the ground and leaving her helpless.

Maze walked to the other side of the room for the hat with the box and was about to pick up her knives when she heard a commotion at the doorway and saw two demons enter the building. Her plan was clear – pick up the knives, kill Eisheth and then the demons. But it was ruined as the demons fell to the ground screaming like they were being skinned alive.

A soldier in sweatpants with a rifle appeared behind the demons. He spotted Maze and lifted the weapon. Now Maze had no desire to be shot with whatever the other demons had been hit with and decided to leave her knives and Eisheth and save her own life. She turned a somersault, avoiding a dart and then smashed her way out of the window. Another soldier greeted her there and having no other weapon, Maze banged him in the nose with the box, her knee following as the man went down.

Maze peeked inside the hat; the box seemed unbroken. Then she looked around and realized Hell had been unleashed on Earth.

Demons lay everywhere, some of them dead but most of them screaming horribly. And several soldiers in sweatpants were moving through this field of destruction. She could tell they weren’t with the Peruvian army…

There was a helicopter hovering several yards above the ground, more soldiers coming down on ropes. And behind the helicopter two huge white wings appeared, carrying their owner quickly in her direction.

“Lucifer!” Maze yelled and waved, noticing he was almost naked as his clothes were shot to pieces. The only intact piece of clothing seemed to be the red hat. “I have the key!” Maze yelled, not knowing if he could hear her over the screaming and the chopper’s engine. Who did hear her though was another soldier and a demon, each one coming at her from opposing directions. Maze turned to the demon and grabbing him by the neck she used his body as a shield just in time as the soldier triggered his weapon.

The demon went down screaming and Maze used the distraction to jump to the soldier, grab his rifle by the barrel and kick it out of his hands. She was about to deliver another kick but the soldier surprised her, withdrawing a pistol quite quickly. He fired two shots, catching Maze in the stomach and thigh. A searing pain like she’d never known made her body spasm and Maze went down, falling to the ground in screams, the hat with the box falling out of her hands.

The soldier came nearer, and standing over her, pointed the gun at her once more.

“No!” a booming voice bellowed from the sky and the soldier started and looking up he paled. Maze watched through tears in her eyes as Lucifer plummeted towards them so furious his whole body turned into his devilish red, and the Spear shone so brightly it blinded her.

The soldier gasped and shrank back, retreating a step in fear. Maze wanted to laugh but she couldn't do anything other than scream. Lucifer was almost upon them when she saw an arrow hit his wing - she watched in horror as he screamed and fell. From the corner of her eye she noticed the soldier grab the hat with the box and dash for the helicopter, catching the rope as the machine started to fly away quickly.

 

Lucifer had seen red as he’d realized he was too late; Maze had been hit with whatever those bloody Templars had in those darts. He’d hurried down, not paying attention to anything else as nothing could harm him. Until something did.

He felt the muscles in his right wing tear as something sharp smashed into it. He screamed as his headlong flight changed into a fall, his useless limb hurting like hell.

He fell to the ground hard, finding himself between the screaming demons and quickly withdrawing soldiers who avoided him at a great distance. He got to his knees awkwardly, his hand tightly clutching the Spear (he’d learned his lesson), and examining his wing he found a Hell-made arrow lodged inside. It burned as the wing tried to repair itself but couldn’t.

Lucifer took several deep breaths and grabbing the arrow, he yanked hard, screaming as the nasty barbs pulled his flesh out. Blood oozed out of the wound for a split second before the feathers quickly healed it.

Lucifer looked around. Whoever had hit him wasn’t there anymore. But given the angle, Lucifer suspected it must have been someone from the chopper which was flying away rather quickly. He spotted Maze among the bodies and hurried towards her. There was blood on her stomach and Lucifer pressed his hand to the wound, making her scream even more.

“Maze!”

“The… box,” she gasped. “The chopper… they have it.”

Lucifer looked at the disappearing machine. He could still get there. But what about Maze?

“Go,” she answered his question but as Lucifer wavered, undecided, he noticed that the Rider was approaching, the surviving demons in its wake.

“Right,” he muttered and looked at the sky again. “Maybe next time.”

Lucifer scooped Maze into his arms as gently as he could and teleported them home.

Chapter Text

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

Charlotte sat in a chair on the porch and tried to get some tan on this unseasonably warm day. She took off her jacket, leaving just a thin blouse on, and put her feet on the other chair, basking in the brightly shining sun with her eyes closed.

It was early afternoon and she had nothing to do as her ex-husband and Amenadiel had volunteered to do the cooking. The last thing she had seen before she fled the kitchen was three bottles of ketchup disappearing into a huge cooking pot. She hadn’t wanted to see more. One thing was clear – she wouldn’t be eating lunch today.

And she wasn’t interested in the attacks going on around the world either. Let the others watch the news and then tell her. It wasn’t like anything could surprise her anyway – she could imagine for herself what was happening. Demons against unarmed humans? Mayhem… probably worse than the destruction she had once caused.

“Alright, Monkey, just let me know when you land in Iceland, OK?”

Charlotte opened one eye to see Chloe leave the lake’s shore and walk slowly up to the house.

“No, Maze hasn’t returned yet but Lucifer’s gone to help her so I think they will be back very soon.”

Charlotte hoped so. She didn’t like the attitude of the humans toward her son. He deserved respect, worship even, not the blame their silly brains conjured to protect them from their own failures.

“Yes, I’ll tell them. Love you. Bye, Monkey.” Chloe hung up and stopped at the porch, looking first at Charlotte and then through the glass door into the house - it seemed to be full of smoke.

“Oh, my God, is it on fire?” Chloe exclaimed, taking several quick steps toward the door.

“Goddess,” Charlotte corrected her.

“What?” Chloe stopped to look at her.

“Wrong gender.”

Chloe rolled her eyes as understanding dawned.

“And don’t worry, it’s not on fire. My ex and my eldest son are cooking lunch. Besides, Amenadiel is immortal and if God’s awful body dies, His soul won’t leave Earth anyway. We’re stuck with Him till the end of time.”

Chloe nodded, detecting a lot of resentment from the other woman, wondering what was eating her up now. “I was more worried about the house. And the lunch. Anyway it’s nice of them to cook for us.”

Charlotte lifted her eyebrow though both her eyes were closed again. “It’s the doctor’s doing. She suggested they do some father-son bonding. And cooking is apparently the best way to do it.”

“I see,” Chloe answered, finally understanding why Charlotte was so touchy. They had left her out of it. Actually, they left her out of most things, Chloe realized. But Charlotte couldn’t blame anyone else for that but herself. She had manipulated everyone to get what she wanted, not caring one little bit about the feelings of others. About the feelings of her own sons. But despite all that Chloe couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the Goddess. No-one ever talked to her and she seemed all alone all the time...

“What’s it gonna be then?” Chloe asked, trying to make small talk. “Smoked salmon?” she quipped.

“Tomato soup, I think.”

“I didn’t know we had any tomatoes.”

“We don’t.”

“Oh.”

“Apparently one apocalypse isn’t enough.”

Chloe didn’t at all fancy going inside but the smoke seemed to be growing darker every second… “I should probably go in and -”

“Just leave them,” Charlotte interrupted her, blinking in the bright sun. “They will never learn if they don’t fail once or twice.”

Chloe nodded reluctantly, pondering what exactly Charlotte meant by that. “I was thinking about saving the house but I can see your point.”

Deciding to stay outside, Chloe glanced at Charlotte tentatively, receiving a lifted eyebrow in reply.

Charlotte took her feet off the chair and waved her hand to suggest Chloe sit. She wanted to talk with her about her son. Given recent events he was going to need some distraction to stay calm. As calm as Lucifer ever could be, anyway...

Chloe blinked as she realized Charlotte was offering her the chair. Well, she had started the conversation out of pity, but she might as well continue. She took the seat and smiled, trying it to make it genuine. “Any news from Maze and Lucifer?”

“Not yet,” Charlotte answered, poorly hiding her fear. “And your kid?”

It seemed she had asked just to distract herself from worrying about Lucifer, not caring one bit about Trixie but Chloe decided to answer anyway. “She and Dan got on the plane Lucifer arranged for them. Apparently it’s a cargo plane full of fruit. First I was worried about them not flying by regular airways but with all the attacks going on it’s probably better. God only knows when they’ll shut the airports and ground all flights.”

Charlotte snorted and Chloe mentally kicked herself for her choice of words.

“Yes,” Charlotte said, ignoring the slipped ‘G’ word. As she looked at Chloe she recognized the fear on her face. “It’s hard to abandon your kid. I know, I’ve done that. She’ll never forgive you.”

Now, those words bothered Chloe. “I didn’t abandon Trixie. I sent her to safety.”

“As did I with Lucifer. But it doesn’t change a thing, does it?”

“What?”

“After the rebellion my husband wanted to destroy Lucifer. I convinced Him to send him to Hell instead.” Charlotte smiled sadly, remembering that horrible day quite clearly. She had so wanted Lucifer to win over God. Things would have been so different... “I told him about it and still he hasn’t forgiven me. He wouldn’t believe me when I said I did it for him. Your kid may think the same.”

“Well, I can see some similarities but Hell and Iceland are very different places. And I didn’t send her there as a punishment. And Trixie’s not there all alone.”

“But you didn’t go with her, you chose Lucifer over her.”

“I didn’t choose Lucifer over my daughter. I stayed because my gut is telling me to. I need to stay to… I don’t know, it’s just this intense feeling that something’s wrong.” Palmetto all over again but worse this time.

“Of course something’s wrong,” Charlotte agreed readily. “The Rider’s out of its cell.”

“Hm,” Chloe nodded although it wasn’t exactly what she’d meant. But she didn’t feel the need to share more with Charlotte.

“When you say that you have a ‘feeling’, do you mean a supernatural one?” Charlotte prodded.

“What?”

“Well, we all know that God put you here to manipulate Lucifer but what we don’t know is the extent of your abilities.”

“I don’t have any abilities.”

Charlotte scoffed. “Of course you do. You make Lucifer vulnerable, you’re immune to his charms and you have feelings for him.”

“I’m pretty sure my feelings for Lucifer don’t count as an ability.”

“It might if you take into consideration the fact God gave them to you.”

Chloe was about to argue further but Charlotte’s words gave her pause. “You also believe that God made me feel the way I do?”

“It’s a logical conclusion. I know that He put you here with the sole purpose to manipulate Lucifer. And what better way to do it than to force you two together?”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because it’s what He does. It’s what He’s always done. He needs to be in control all the time.”

Chloe looked at the lake, thinking about the Goddess’ words. Everyone who knew God well, claimed that He had put her in Lucifer’s path to manipulate him. And yet, getting to know the old man it was hard to imagine Him doing such a thing. He seemed… really concerned about his children. More than Charlotte at least…

“You don’t believe me,” Charlotte pointed out.

“I know what I feel. And it’s not a God-given ability.”

Charlotte smiled. “Good. Now make Lucifer believe it as well.”

Chloe looked at the Goddess in confusion. “You want me to be with Lucifer? Why?”

Charlotte shrugged. “Real or not, he will need as much love as we can give him. I’ve been through events like this before. People will blame him for everything now, more than ever. They will hate him, ridicule him, call him names...”

Chloe wanted to disagree but she had to admit that it was probably exactly what was going to happen.

“And to be honest he sure as Hell deserves some love from you after all he did for you,” Charlotte said.

“The dying,” Chloe whispered, remembering Lucifer had actually died when he’d come to help her defeat Malcolm.

“And I deserve some love from him after what I did for him too,” Charlotte continued, not listening to Chloe.

Chloe frowned, having no idea what she was talking about.

“I did go to Hell for him after all. Shouldn’t that be enough to earn back your child’s love and trust?”

Now Chloe was confused. Hadn’t God sent her to Hell?

“If it wasn’t for me he would still be stuck there. Dead like any other stupid human. Trapped by his own guilt over killing Uriel.”

OK, she hadn’t heard that one before... Chloe wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but she knew she needed to. “Who’s Uriel?”

Charlotte looked at her like she had just grown a second head. “My son.”

“What?” Chloe gasped. “Why would Lucifer kill his own brother?” That would weigh heavily on his conscience.

“To save my life. And yours.”

“Our lives were in danger?”

“Yes. After I escaped Hell, Uriel came to Earth to kill me with Azrael’s dagger. And he threatened your life, demanding Lucifer hand me over. They fought and Lucifer killed him. With Azrael’s blade,” Charlotte finished, feeling her chest constrict painfully with the memory.

“Oh, God,” Chloe whispered, more pieces coming together. Lucifer playing her guardian Devil, Lucifer freaking out because of the car accident, claiming it hadn’t been an accident. Now she understood what had made Lucifer want to be killed by a sniper a few days later.

“Yes. God’s the one to blame.”

“And Lucifer went to Hell because of it?” Chloe concluded, wondering whether God had sent him there. Again.

“Of course not. He went to Hell to save you from that poisoning. Don’t you know anything?”

Chloe opened her mouth but closed it again as another realization dawned; that was how Lucifer had got the formula from the dead professor. “Huh...” A memory flashed, Lucifer’s words she had considered a joke at the time coming back: Looks like you didn’t die after all. Makes one of us.

“How...” Chloe stammered, “how did Lucifer get to Hell exactly?”

“He died.”

“Oh.” Again?

“They used this machine to stop his heart...”

“They?”

“Mazikeen and the doctor. Then he went to Hell. But he got stuck there because of his guilt. I had to go after him and bring him back. It was quite painful. Those machines should be outlawed.”

“Hm,” Chloe hummed, unable to collect her thoughts to say anything sensible. This revelation was a bit overwhelming. Remembering how she had berated Lucifer for every little thing he had done wrong, for being selfish… But this was far from selfish, wasn’t it? And why on Earth had nobody told her before?!

“Thinking about it, by saving Lucifer I saved your life as well. Now you owe me one,” Charlotte added.

“Hm,” Chloe repeated absentmindedly, finally making Charlotte realize that she was acting weird.

“You didn’t know?” Charlotte asked.

“Not… all...” Chloe stammered awkwardly.

“Well, at least now you see why I thought you unworthy of him.”

Chloe nodded. She kind of felt unworthy herself right now. If there had been any lingering doubt about Lucifer’s feelings toward her, it was completely gone now. They must run so much deeper than she’d ever thought. Oh God – and how much it must have hurt when he’d learned about her being a miracle? Believing her love wasn’t real? No wonder he had fled. If she had been in his shoes, she would probably have done the same.

And why on Earth hadn’t he told her about the dying and his brother? Was he ashamed? Did he think she would turn against him once she learned about Uriel? Or was it the other way around? Was he afraid her feelings toward him would grow? Chloe realized she couldn’t fathom what was going on in Lucifer’s head. Why did the man have to be so complicated?

The door to the porch opened abruptly and Amenadiel hurried out, a huge pot roiling with clouds of smoke in his oven-mitted hands.

“Out of the way!” he yelled as he sprinted past the two women and down to the lake, throwing the pot into the water.

God walked out of the house, smoke spilling out behind Him in huge white clouds. He propped the door open and waved a dishtowel to help get the smoke out. “Who’d think that cooking is so difficult? And dangerous.”

Charlotte smirked. “All finished?”

“If you’re talking about my cooking days then yes,” God replied as He watched Amenadiel walk back to the porch with the pot, his pants and sleeves wet from fishing it out of the lake and a defeated look on his face.

Charlotte lifted her brow questioningly at her son’s expression. Amenadiel showed them the bottom of the pot with something black stuck to it.

“I hoped I could at least salvage the pot,” Amenadiel grumbled. “But apparently I’m not good enough even for that.”

“That’s not true,” Charlotte countered. Amenadiel opened his mouth to argue but a loud scream stopped him. Everyone turned to the house to see Lucifer folding his wings and shoving a table aside with his foot. He put Maze on a couch and knelt next to her.

Amenadiel was first to run inside, followed closely by the others.

“What happened?!” he yelled, alarmed at seeing Maze out of herself, screaming in obvious pain. There was blood dripping from her stomach and she was trying to scratch her own legs and abdomen like a madwoman, fighting Lucifer’s hands.

“I’m not sure!” Lucifer replied, sweat and blood covering his face while his body was barely clad with clothes that had been reduced to torn rags. “The bloody Templars appeared and shot her with some darts. It seems they were filled with -”

“Holy water,” Vanessa finished as she arrived downstairs, followed by Linda, Ella and Johann. “They fill their darts with holy water. It’s more effective than bullets against demons as it gets straight into their bloodstream and disables them immediately.”

“Maze!” Linda touched her friend’s head, trying to calm her but Maze didn’t seem to even see her. “What do we do?” she asked, looking frantically from face to face, on the brink of panic. “There must be something we can do!”

“Not really,” Johann replied as he took off his glasses with a trembling hand.

“No!” Linda yelled and looked at Lucifer who was still trying to keep Maze from scratching everywhere the darts had hit her. Amenadiel grabbed Maze’s shoulders to keep her from falling off the couch because of all the tossing and turning.

“What about your feathers?” Linda asked. “Can’t they heal her?”

Lucifer laughed, his eyes wild. “She has divinity poisoning. Trying to heal that by divine intervention would be worse than rubbing salt into the wound!”

“We can’t just leave her like that,” Chloe said, fighting to stay calm. She looked at Vanessa for help. The young woman was pale, watching Maze thrash about on the couch. “Vanessa?!”

“The only thing we can do,” it was Johann who replied, “is to help her to sweat it out.”

“If she lives through it,” Vanessa added in a thin voice.

“What? No, no, no,” Linda protested. “No ‘ifs’ - she will survive it!” Her eyes met Lucifer’s and she gulped seeing the Devil’s eyes glistening with unshed tears. No, this couldn’t be the end! This was Maze, she was a fighter, she wouldn’t just give up and die like a weakling! She would fight and she would win! There was no doubt in Linda’s mind.

“Let’s heat her up, then,” Amenadiel said and pushing Lucifer aside he picked Maze up and marched upstairs.

“The shower!” Linda yelled as she followed close behind him.

“Johann,” Chloe called, “will you make her some tea? God, can you please stoke the fire and put some bricks inside to warm?”

“Of course,” God nodded and turned away to get started.

“Well, better her than you,” Charlotte said, coming closer to her son. He was still kneeling next to the vacated couch, staring after Amenadiel and Maze. With Charlotte’s cruel words he started to get up to follow his friend but the detective stopped him.

Chloe pushed Charlotte out of the way, not understanding why she had felt pity for her just a few minutes ago and took Lucifer’s face into her hands, turning it to look into his eyes.

“Lucifer!” she yelled. “Are you alright?” She glanced at his tattered clothes and bloodstained hands.

Lucifer blinked at Chloe’s worried face and remembered she had asked a question. “Yes, of course,” he answered distantly. “I’m immortal, don’t you know?”

“OK.” Chloe realized that while Lucifer was physically fine, emotionally he clearly wasn't. “I’ll go help with Maze. You just… stay here and get some rest. I’ll come back as soon as I can.”

Lucifer nodded absentmindedly as Chloe hurried upstairs. He looked at his hands. They had Maze’s blood on them – he didn’t know she could bleed so much. She was a demon, they weren’t supposed to bleed that much. So why did she? The wound wasn’t that deep and who cared if it was from a Hell-made blade? She shouldn’t bleed that much.

Lucifer remembered he still had that ridiculous hat on his head and tore it off. The words ‘I love Cuzco’ stared at him mockingly before he used the hat to wipe the blood off his hands. But it didn’t work. It was glued to them, dried, red and sticky. He scrubbed his hands harder but the blood held.

“Son?” Charlotte said, her voice unsure. “What happened?” Lucifer didn’t react for a long time and she looked around for help.

“Your clothes...” Charlotte added and Lucifer finally snapped out of his stupor.

“Well, we raced the Rider to Saksaywaman where the key was supposed to be hidden but before we could find it, the Rider appeared. The police came next and tried to shoot the Rider, fat lot of good it did. So I tried to slow it down so Maze could find the key. But then the demons came and attacked well, everyone actually, they were followed by the Peruvian army who tried to shoot the Rider, the demons and me, and to top it all off the Templars showed up and shot everything that still moved.”

“It sounds like the final scene from an X-men movie,” Ella pointed out.

“But you do have the key?” Vanessa asked, some color finally returning to her face.

Lucifer scoffed. “No, I don’t.”

“Fuck!” Vanessa cursed.

“So...” God heaved a sigh, “one more Rider to deal with?”

“Well, it’s hard to say. It wasn’t the Rider who took the key.”

“Who has it then?” Charlotte asked. “Humans?”

Lucifer snorted. “Yes. The ones who wear tracksuit pants and whose name rhymes with Pampers.”

“Babies?” Charlotte guessed, confused, while Johann almost spilled the tea for Maze as he realized the Templars must have got it.

“How did they even know about it though?” Johann asked, looking around the room.

“Exactly,” Lucifer growled and looked pointedly at Vanessa.

Seeing everyone’s stare, Vanessa knew it was pointless to deny her involvement. “I spoke with Miller.”

Lucifer barked a bitter laugh. “I knew it! After we agreed that we wouldn’t do it.”

“You agreed, not me!” Vanessa countered.

“Well, you were outvoted,” Lucifer hissed. “That’s how democracy works. But I guess the concept is foreign to you, being a bloody knight!”

Ella shook her head disapprovingly at Vanessa. “You shouldn’t have done that! So not cool!”

Vanessa bared her teeth as her anger built. “We were in deep shit with the Pope’s key. The Rider had possessed the Pope and accused Lucifer of the Apocalypse and we had no way to track the key down in time. So yeah, I called Miller and asked him to help.”

“And now the key is in the possession of the bloody Templars and within reach of the traitor. All my disguised brother has to do is take it!” Lucifer yelled.

“Don’t put this one on me! You’re the one who let the key get away! First with the Pope and now with the Templars!”

“And what was I supposed to do? Torture the Pope? Leave Maze to die?”

Vanessa blinked as realization of why Lucifer hadn’t gotten the key dawned. “You chose to save a demon over getting the key?” she asked, incredulous.

Now Lucifer would expect a question like that from his mother, not from the young woman. “Well, of course.”

“Are you insane?”

“Ask my doctor. She’s upstairs, taking care of the consequences of your actions!”

“For once I actually agree with the angry girl,” Charlotte stepped in. “You should have gotten the key and left Mazikeen. She’s just a demon after all. There’s a whole lot more where she came from.”

“Oh? Is that so?” Lucifer asked quietly, seething, his eyes briefly flashing red. “So she doesn’t matter? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Getting the key is more important than any demon or human life,” Vanessa explained like Lucifer was a child.

“Really?”

“Yes!” Vanessa cried, not understanding how he could ask such a thing. “The future of the world depends on it. Besides Maze doesn’t even have a soul!”

Lucifer scoffed, looking from Charlotte to Vanessa. In this very moment he hated them both. “And what do you know about having a soul?” Lucifer yelled, taking a menacing step closer, making Vanessa cringe. “Maze may be a demon but she risked her life for all of us. Unlike you! All you did was hide here from the fight and now you say vile, heartless things about her! Not to mention that it’s your fault she was shot in the first place! If she dies, it’s on you!” He watched Vanessa go pale all over again, all the anger leaving her in an instant as his eyes turned crimson. She turned on her heel and marched out of the house.

“Vanessa!” Johann yelled, Maze’s tea forgotten as he hurried after her.

“Oh, great,” Lucifer growled, “now she’s probably going to call the silly knights again and tell on me that I said bad things about them.”

“I’ll go after them,” God volunteered and headed to the door.

“That will help,” Charlotte uttered sarcastically. “You will probably just get lost and we’ll have to go look for you.”

“Why don’t you go then,” God challenged.

“Gladly,” Charlotte answered as a long cry sounded from upstairs. “As much as I’d like to hear Mazikeen scream, it would give me a terrible headache.”

Charlotte passed God on her way out but stopped when He started to follow her.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going with you,” God answered briefly. Charlotte scoffed but didn’t say anything else as they exited the house, leaving Lucifer and Ella alone in the room.

“That was intense,” Ella threw in.

“Yes,” Lucifer agreed, standing on the spot, lost for a moment about what to do. He felt useless right now. Following Vanessa he would probably get into another fight with her and going upstairs to help with Maze he would probably do something even worse and embarrass himself.

“Hey, buddy,” Ella said cautiously, looking Lucifer over from head to toe, “you know you look like my grandma’s old colander. She never threw anything away until it disintegrated completely. So this old colander had more holes than it should and every time she cooked spaghetti and tried to strain them, half of them ended up in the sink. We of course had to eat them anyway. Now I remember this one time I pulled a long gray hair out of my meal and -”

“What are you talking about?” Lucifer interrupted her.

Ella shrugged. “I’m just trying to say you should probably get changed.” Then she leaned closer and whispered, “You know, your wiener has been playing peekaboo with me for some time now. I’d say it’s really sexy but given the circumstances it’s probably just inappropriate.”

“Ah...” was all Lucifer was able to muster, finally understanding and for once feeling embarrassed about his almost nude state. His parents had been in the room... “Right,” he breathed and, finally having something to do, he walked to his room to change.

 *******

Maze was in Hell. But not the Hell that was her happy place. This was the kind of Hell that you wished was just a nightmare, that you hoped you could escape somehow, even if only by killing yourself.

She knew what had happened to her – those fucking darts. She didn’t have to be a genius to understand what had been inside them. Nothing but holy water could cause a demon such agony. And even worse, those sadistic Templars had gotten it inside her – causing not superficial burns but a bone deep, nerves tearing torture.

She clawed at her own skin, trying to get it out even though she knew somewhere deep in her pulsating brain that it was pointless. She fought Lucifer first, then Amenadiel and Linda as they tried to prevent her from ripping at herself. She didn’t want to hurt them but her destructive hands seemed to have a will of their own.

But whatever she did, she wasn’t strong enough. The pain had drained most of her power and the wound on her belly from Eisheth’s sword drained the rest. She felt like a insect trying to fight a leviathan.

They stripped her and put her in the shower. Two hands held her down under the water. The deluge hitting her skin was uncomfortably hot, making the owner of the mentioned hands hiss with pain. But did they reduce the heat? No, sir.

“We need to dress the wound ASAP,” Linda yelled.

“I’ll get the first aid kit,” Chloe replied and hurried out of the bathroom. Maze realized they were talking about her gash. Blood flowed freely out of it, mixing with the water on the shower floor and turning it pink.

Maybe I’ll bleed to death, Maze thought and hoped her wish came true very soon.

“You won’t!” Amenadiel cried as he scrubbed the small wounds where the darts had entered her body. Now had she said that aloud? She couldn’t tell. Her brain felt on fire with all the stimulation it was getting, most of it unrelenting pain. Her ears were ringing and for some unfathomable reason her throat hurt like someone had taken a brush to it.

Amenadiel tried to squeeze the holy water out of her wounds but it didn’t help. The poison was deep inside her bloodstream, wreaking havoc.

The small bathroom filled with steam very fast, making the room unbearably warm and humid. They pulled her out then, wrapping a towel around her body and carrying her to her room.

Now, she knew that Chloe wouldn’t like it if she bled all over the bed. She tried to tell them but Amenadiel had already laid her down and grabbed her hands which had started scratching her skin again.

“We need to restrain her,” he said and then someone tied her wrists to the headboard. She pulled hard in a desperate attempt to free herself but she couldn’t break the rope. No more scratching for her busy hands. She felt too weak to do even that anyway...

“I’m not that kind of doctor!” she heard Linda complain before she saw her take a needle and a thread and felt a tingling in her belly.

“Oh God!” she heard next, recognizing Ella’s voice. “That looks horrible. I brought the tea. May I help somehow?”

“We’re fine,” Amenadiel answered.

“OK. I’ll be downstairs. Just holler if you need me.”

“Thank you, Ella,” Chloe said.

“Maze,” Amenadiel’s face appeared over her. He looked worried. Was she that bad then? “I need you to drink this.”

If it’s a deadly poison, then gladly, she thought.

“It’s just tea.”

Had she said that aloud again?

“The only way to get the holy water out of your body is by sweating it out. Do you understand?”

Well, of course she understood, she wasn’t a child. She just didn’t agree. The fastest way to deliver her from this agony would be to kill her. But Amenadiel stuck to his plan and, grabbing the back of her skull, he pushed the mug to her lips. He forced the hot tea inside her, spilling some of it on her bare chest. It burned but nowhere near as bad as that holy piss inside her.

She almost drowned as she couldn’t swallow fast enough, and it ended with her coughing violently. Amenadiel praised her, saying ‘good girl’... Way to add insult to injury, you dick!

“All done,” Linda informed them. They pulled a blanket over her. Then two more, making her even more uncomfortable. She was too hot and now she was sure she was going to die of spontaneous combustion. Why couldn’t they simply cut her head off and be done with it? Didn’t they care at all?

“Shouldn’t we make her more comfortable?” she heard Linda’s caring voice.

Oh, yes, please!

“Sure,” Amenadiel answered and then reappeared over her. “Sorry about this,” he said and the last thing Maze saw was his fist coming down toward her.

 *******

“Vanessa!” Johann called as he hurried after her. Vanessa didn’t stop nor did she slow down as she marched up the hill through the forest.

“Vanessa, please,” Johann called again, panting as the climbing sapped his strength.

“What?!” Vanessa barked as she stopped at the top of the hill and turned. She was so angry... Why could nobody see the big picture here?

“Don’t be upset about what Lucifer said. He didn’t mean it that way.”

Vanessa snorted and spread her arms in exasperation. “I’m not upset about what he said. It’s nothing new. People call me heartless and soulless all the time. And maybe they’re right, I don’t care! I’m just pissed about what Lucifer did.”

Johann finally reached the top of the hill and removed his glasses to wipe off the sweat. “The key.”

“Yes.”

“But I thought you called Miller so he would get it? That you wanted him to have it in the first place?”

Vanessa shook her head. Even Johann didn’t understand? “When I called Miller it seemed we were fucked, OK? Better the Templars than the Rider. But… when the opportunity presented itself why didn’t Lucifer get it? I mean what’s the point of saving one life, demon or not, when it means another Rider will be released and the world will end?”

“It’s a hard decision to let a loved one die.”

“I know,” Vanessa growled. Did he think her heartless too? “But sometimes we have to follow reason, not feelings, Johann.”

“Alright. Following the reason now, the Templars will guard the key with their lives.”

“Yeah, but don’t forget about the traitor.”

“You warned Miller about him though, didn’t you?”

“Yes. But...”

“He didn’t believe you?” Johann finished.

“I don’t know,” Vanessa admitted reluctantly. What if she’d made a mistake? What if the traitor would get the key now? She should call Miller again and stress the importance of it all. Ask him again to provide them with the database of employees so they could try and find the traitor angel among them. Surely now they had enough evidence to believe the Rider was real, didn’t they? But would Miller listen to her? Given the way Lucifer had looked and Maze’s injury there must have been some kind of fight between them and the Templars.

“Miller is a reasonable man,” Johann said like he’d been reading her thoughts. “He’ll take care of the key. Surely one traitor can’t get past all the Templars’ guards and protection. It’s safe now.”

“You mean like God was when we brought Him to our headquarters?”

“Ah… that was unfortunate,” Johann said as he put his glasses back on, and Vanessa made a rude noise. Johann smiled to himself, glad his comment had made her snort. She needed to lighten up a bit.

“Anyway, nothing we can do about it now,” Johann pointed out.

“Yeah,” Vanessa sighed as a sudden twinge of guilt gripped her heart. It was her fault. If she hadn’t called Miller in the first place, the Templars would have never investigated the Pope and never tried to get the key. But how could she have known that Maze and Lucifer would succeed in tracking it down when it had looked so unlikely?

“Fuck!” Vanessa yelled her frustration, her voice echoing around the high pines.

 *******

“I don’t see why you have to come with me,” Charlotte complained as God walked beside her through the forest, following the path she believed Vanessa had taken.

“I’m trying to be helpful.”

Charlotte laughed. “If you wanted to be helpful, you should have tried to prevent the Rider from escaping its cell.”

“Well, my dear, I probably did that – why else would I be on Earth?”

Charlotte flinched at the endearment although she realized her ex hadn’t meant anything by it. “And how well did that go...”

“At least I tried.”

“Say that to our sons when they’re dead. Oh, pardon me, I forgot you don’t care about your children’s lives.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” God asked tetchily. He was so tired of everyone accusing Him of being a bad husband, an autocratic father, a useless God… when He couldn’t say anything in His own defense.

Charlotte stopped to face her ex with her arms akimbo and explained, “You let Uriel die. Lucifer might have wielded the dagger but he was only protecting those he loves. You’re the one who let it happen.”

“You didn’t prevent it either,” God snapped, His patience gone.

“Everything I’ve ever done or will do is to make my family whole again.”

“Even sell out humanity to the Rider?”

Charlotte shrugged. “If it was necessary to protect my children. Unlike you I care more about my family than about humans.”

“I care about my family too,” God protested.

“Do you? You know I tried to reach you to grieve with you after Uriel’s death?”

“You did?”

“Oh, yes. And do you know what you did?”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Charlotte spat with all her pent up pain and hatred. “You just ignored me like you ignored Uriel. And Lucifer.”

“Oi… I suppo-”

“So you see,” Charlotte interrupted, “I don’t want your help. With anything!”

God frowned. “Too bad because I plan to offer some. Maybe not to you but certainly to the others,” He said with conviction, and started walking again. “Maybe you should try it too!”

Charlotte scoffed and hurried after Him. “I already did help. I translated the Spear.”

“That’s true,” God agreed reluctantly. “But in the end it wasn’t very helpful, was it?”

“And whose fault is that?” Charlotte challenged as they started climbing a hill, panting as neither of them wanted to slow down. “I didn’t even know about its existence until Lucifer appeared with it. If you weren’t such a secretive ass and shared the knowledge with me back then, we would know what the weapon is supposed to do for sure.”

God sighed. And here they were again – His fault. And what were they doing here exactly? Competing over who’s the more useless person and worse parent?

“All I’m saying,” God enunciated, “is that I want to help as much as I can.”

“Doing what? Walking through the forest and watching the news?”

God shrugged. “At least I keep myself informed.”

“Yes. You always liked knowing everything.”

God ignored the comment. He didn’t want to bicker anymore. “I still can’t believe how much hatred there is against Lucifer though.”

“You made him a villain, so your loyal idiots treat him as such. Served you well, his rebellion. You cast him out and then made yourself look even more saintly in the eyes of your stupid humans.”

God shook His head. No end to the bickering then... “Don’t tell me Lucifer didn’t deserve the punishment at all.”

“Well, Lucifer refused to do whatever you said, he challenged you and for that you punished him,” Charlotte stated with disgust. “So no, I don’t think he deserved it one bit. You just couldn’t bear that someone might actually have a mind of their own. You always needed others to blindly follow your lead. That’s why you put all your energy into humanity. They were more than happy to worship and obey you and you were thrilled to play their God.”

“Was I?” God asked, finding it hard to believe. “Or did they simply need me?”

“Well, you certainly convinced them of that. And look where it got them – instead of dealing with their problems on their own, they wait around pleading for someone else to solve them or wait for an afterlife where everything is supposedly perfect. Most of them are like children their whole lives. Or like cattle, following whatever shepherd happens to walk by. Not that you ever did anything but observe and forbid from afar, using silly prophets to spread your word and promising reward if they follow.”

God frowned. He didn’t like the picture Charlotte was painting at all. “Maybe you have it all wrong. Maybe things are much complicated than that,” God pondered aloud, thinking about His relationship with humans. It couldn’t be as simple as that, could it? “Maybe they don’t need me to solve their problems, maybe they just need something… more. To believe there’s something better than just this world.”

Charlotte stopped and turned to Him. “Have you looked around you?” she waved her hands, indicating their surroundings. God looked around with confusion at first, not understanding what He was supposed to see. They were in a forest with high green pines and spruces, the lake shimmering in the warm afternoon sun and the mountains towering into the sky in the distance. All around Him the air smelled of water, moss and trees, birds chirping cheerfully like they didn’t care the Apocalypse was upon them. Oh, now He got it...

“What more could they want?” Charlotte continued. “You created all this for them. And it’s still not enough?”

God lifted His eyebrow at the compliment.

“I can appreciate beauty,” Charlotte admitted nonchalantly.

“I may have given them a paradise of sorts but still, life isn’t easy. It’s full of pain.”

“And most of that is people’s own fault.”

God sighed. “That is, unfortunately, true. All the more reason they need to believe there’s some justice in the universe.”

“If you consider your judgment a justice,” Charlotte snapped, offended. “I don’t. First you got rid of your own son, then you got rid of me as well. Locking us in that horrible place. Your own family.”

“Well, I’ve been told that locking you down there was necessary to protect humanity from annihilation.”

“What did you expect? You played with them all the time, neglecting me and your own children.”

“Huh,” God exclaimed as He shook His head, “Hell really hath no fury like a woman scorned, right?”

“Sometimes I miss your memory. Back then you at least used clever arguments in our fights.”

“Sorry to disappoint,” God muttered.

“Maybe next time,” Charlotte ended their conversation.

They walked in silence for the whole of two seconds before God asked, “Are you sure Vanessa went this way?”

The answer came in a loud ‘fuck’ echoing through the forest from the top of the hill.

“Positive,” Charlotte added and they climbed to the top to find Vanessa and Johann facing each other.

“Everything alright?” God asked.

“If you mean whether I called Miller again then no. So yes, everything’s alright.”

“Vanessa!” Johann gasped, still a bit anxious around God and His ex. And their children.

“What?” Vanessa snapped. “It was what He meant. And you don’t need to be afraid of Him. I mean what’s He gonna do? Scold me? Make me say Hail Mary five hundred times?”

God frowned. “Well, young lady, I certainly didn’t mean to insult you. And I would ask you to do the same.”

“So you were asking about my well-being?”

“Don’t be daft,” Charlotte said. “Of course He asked to find out whether you continue to be a traitor.”

Vanessa took a menacing step towards the Goddess, pointing a finger at her. “I am not a traitor,” she whispered slowly, enunciating each word.

“Then you won’t mind handing over your phone.” Charlotte extended her hand and waited. She watched Vanessa’s wild brown eyes spark with anger before she took control of it and, fishing her phone from her pocket, she handed it to the Goddess.

“Thank you,” Charlotte drawled.

“No problem,” Vanessa replied, saying no more. She didn’t need to explain herself to these ‘people’.

“I dealt with one of those Templars,” Charlotte pointed out as she pocketed the phone. “‘Haley’ was his name? He was terribly pious and unpleasant. We certainly don’t want them to interfere with our fight again.”

Vanessa nodded and turning around she walked away, her posture signaling she didn’t want company this time.

 *******

Lucifer took his time in the shower despite the fact that almost all of the hot water had been used up by Maze. He didn’t care and didn’t move as warm water was quickly replaced by cold. It soothed his anger and the feeling of powerlessness.

Several long minutes later, as Maze’s screaming finally stopped, he stood before the wardrobe in his room and frowned. Only five shirts and four suits left. This was a disaster. He should have packed so much more. Now that the Apocalypse had been made public, all the shops would most likely be closed, the owners hiding at home.

He reached for a blue shirt and a pair of black pants and put them on. He walked to the hallway and paused at Maze’s room. He gathered his courage and after knocking softly he opened the door and peeked inside.

Chloe and Linda leaned on the wall while Amenadiel sat next to Maze on the bed, brushing her hair back from her forehead. Maze was lying under a heap of blankets, her hands bound to the headboard and her face deathly pale.

“How...” Lucifer trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.

“We dressed the stomach wound,” Linda replied.

“And the… other wounds?”

Linda sighed. “It’s up to Maze now. All we can do is wait and help her sweat as much as possible.”

“In that case, you should join her on the bed and have a foursome,” Lucifer joked but even to him the jest seemed hollow.

“She’s tough,” Amenadiel said. “She’ll get through it.”

Now Lucifer wasn’t sure whether he was trying to soothe them or himself. “Of course she will,” he said to make the statement more convincing. It was so strange to see Maze like this – powerless and dependent when she was always the one who had been looking out for him, always strong and ready to kill whatever dared cross his path.

As nobody seemed to be offering any more information about Maze’s condition, Lucifer closed the door softly and walked downstairs.

He found Ella standing next to the cooker and stirring something in a pot. Hirschel sat on the couch, facing the hearth, his blank stare aimed at the flames.

“And where have you been?” Lucifer asked the ancient Jew but he didn’t answer.

“I think he’s fallen asleep,” Ella explained. “Again.”

“Oh, right.” Lucifer remembered Hirschel’s habit of sleeping with his eyes open.

“Someone locked him in the cellar, can you believe that?” Ella exclaimed, pointing at Hirschel with a spatula.

Lucifer snickered. “And I bet no-one even noticed he was gone. Now I wonder if they did it on purpose...”

“Of course not! Who would do such a horrible thing?”

“Someone with a stolen hot lawyer’s body perhaps?” Lucifer offered. “How undignified, left to molder in the basement like a broken washing machine.”

“He didn’t look like he minded being locked down there. I actually had to persuade him to come upstairs with me.”

Lucifer sniffed. “You know I wish you hadn’t. He’s beginning to smell like a homeless person. Do you think he knows how to use a shower?”

Ella shrugged.

“That’s probably why the good Samaritan locked him down there,” Lucifer uttered as he walked toward the cooker. He looked inside the pot to find a heap of beans in tomato sauce.

“Well, this looks… cheap,” Lucifer commented, frowning over the meal.

“Yeah. It’s probably what we’re going to eat until the end of the world.”

“What?”

“Man, the basement is full of beans. I think it’s Dan’s favorite food.”

“Bloody hell! At least the end isn’t far...”

“Come now, a little bit of optimism!”

Lucifer’s lips twitched but his eyes remained solemn. He reached for the iPad Ella had put on the counter and found a site with news. It opened with a notable delay.

“The news’ servers are overloaded,” Ella explained. “Don’t even try to open a video. It won’t.”

Lucifer scanned the titles, taking Ella’s advice.

First wave of the Apocalypse?

Panic in the cities

The Pope found dead in his bedroom

Where’s God when we need Him?

“I managed to watch just two about the attacks and I tell you it was a massacre – demons smashing and hacking people in the streets, yelling obscenities and going totally bonkers!” Ella swept the spatula, imitating a lunge and flicking tomato sauce onto Lucifer’s shirt, leaving a red stain. “Sorry,” she whispered and handed him a dish towel.

Lucifer wanted to cry. Another shirt gone...

“They didn’t even run when the military arrived,” Ella continued. “Don’t demons have any sense of self-preservation?”

“They can get intoxicated by the thrill of fighting, and forget about the inconvenience of possible death.”

“Well, I tell you one thing – they will be cleaning the streets for a very long time. According to the first estimation there are thousands of dead just in the States. A complete massacre, I tell you.”

“Right,” Lucifer muttered. What did she expect? They were demons.

“Hey, you know it’s not your fault, right?”

“What?” Lucifer looked at Ella questioningly.

“The dead. It’s not your fault. Don’t ever think that,” she added with conviction.

“Of course it’s not. I didn’t release the Rider from its cell.”

“Good. It just seemed to me for a moment that you looked guilty, you know?”

“Why would I look guilty?”

“No reason,” Ella shook her head emphatically and turned back to the stirring the beans. “No reason at all. I was probably just imagining things.”

Lucifer frowned at her back and returned his attention to the news to read another headline.

President considering martial law

“Oh, bloody hell, that’s the last thing we need,” Lucifer growled.

“What?”

“I -” Lucifer’s answer was interrupted by an unfamiliar ringtone. He turned and found Hirschel picking up a phone from the couch.

“Is it yours?” Lucifer asked, unable to believe someone would call the guy.

“No.”

Lucifer frowned. “It must be Maze’s. Who is it?”

Hirschel squinted at the small display of the old fashioned device and then looked at Lucifer. “It’s you.”

“Me? But I...” Lucifer paused, remembering, “I dropped my phone during the fight in Cusco.”

“Do you think it’s them? I mean, did the Rider find it?” Ella exclaimed, looking worried. “Because all of our numbers are saved there. I don’t want the Rider to call me! What would I say? ‘Thanks for the offer to join the dark side but I like it here?’”

With several long steps Lucifer got to Hirschel and took the phone from him. The cracked display really said ‘Lucifer’. He pressed the receive button and put it to his ear.

“Yes?”

“Lucifer… how is Maze?”

Lucifer clenched his fist as he recognized the malicious voice. “Maze is fine. She’s enjoying a nice sauna right now.”

The voice on the other end laughed. “Glad to hear that. It would pain me if she was killed by anyone other than me.”

Lucifer snorted. “You will never kill her, Eisheth. Now, I know you’re not calling to find out about Maze’s health. What do you want?”

“The master wants me to remind you about his offer.”

“His?” Lucifer repeated. “Don’t tell me you switched bosses again.”

“Of course not. The Rider is the strongest master I’ve ever had. I’ll keep him.”

Lucifer wanted to laugh. Eisheth had never understood that he didn’t care whether she thought him strong or anything else. And so her attempt to degrade him was ridiculous.

“And as such he deserves to be addressed properly,” Eisheth finished.

“Right,” Lucifer growled. “Tell your master then that I have no intention of taking its offer. Why should I?”

“You saw what the Rider can do. And you saw only half of it...”

“Do tell.”

“Every demon is ready to do his bidding. Hundreds of thousands unleashed upon the world if necessary.”

“And billions of people to fight them. I know mathematics was never your strength so let me simplify it for you. The humans may not be able to kill the Rider but they will kill the demons, Eisheth. Including you.”

“And you!” Eisheth snapped. “You know they think it’s all your doing, right?” she giggled. “And it was so ridiculously easy to turn them against you. Just a few words, not even any concrete evidence, yet here they are – hating you with a new vigor. It’s all the Devil’s fault!”

“Is there a point to your babbling?” Lucifer growled through his clenched teeth.

“You may have won this one, Lucifer...”

What???

“… but the war has just begun. Enjoy the keys while you can...”

Understanding dawned. They thought he had taken the Pope’s key.

“… because we will take them from you very soon. And kill every last one of your friends.”

“You’re like a barking dog,” Lucifer interrupted, amused by Eisheth’s outburst.

Eisheth took a deep breath. “We will find you eventually. We have all the time in the world. If I were you I would change my mind about the deal. The Rider can be generous. Think about it. Call me if you come to your senses.”

Eisheth hung up and Lucifer sighed with relief. “They don’t know the Templars have the key. So maybe it is safe after all.”

“Yeah,” Ella replied, “but are we?”

Chapter Text

Lucifer’s house, near Bend, Oregon

Lucifer sat on the couch in front of the blazing fire with Ella in the kitchen corner making lunch and Hirschel sitting quietly in an armchair next to him. He didn’t pay any attention to them as he surfed through the news. There was plenty of information about the recent attacks, several about the Pope’s death and a lot of speculation. From the locations of the attacks Lucifer concluded the demons had chosen big cities, every one with its own Hell gate or at least near one. All that to make a distraction to prevent him intercepting the Rider in Cusco. Hadn’t worked...

The humans didn’t know about Hell gates or the keys of course, so their conclusions were different. He read a theory about the attacks’ purpose being to terrorize people, to make them scared and thus surrender without a fight. If they had wanted to really destroy them, they would have attacked the essential facilities like power stations, government seats, water reservoirs, infrastructure etc. Or the Devil – yes, they all believed he was the one behind all this – was simply an idiot and didn’t know how to wage a war. Lucifer scoffed. If that had been the case, they had just told him...

Someone also pointed out that if people organized themselves properly they’d actually stand a pretty good chance in this war as the attackers used just medieval weapons. They can think that because they haven’t seen the Rider yet, Lucifer thought.

Browsing through more news Lucifer discovered scant information about the attack in Cusco. The survivors said that the army had confiscated their cameras so there were no pictures of him, just the tourists’ claims that they had seen an angel. There were some photos of the Rider though as it had traveled in its real form over a significant part of Peru but they all looked like pictures taken by a broken camera, a black smudge in the middle of a normal background. All in all they seemed like just another crazy news story like those from one of the many priests and prophets who had come out of nowhere last night. Some of them claimed to have seen an angel, some said God had spoken to them, still others called up the masses to join in the holy war against the Devil.

“Idiots,” Lucifer muttered, shaking his head in disgust. He hated those brainless Dad servants. But what he hated even more were their followers and according to Facebook and Twitter they had millions of them. “A little fake news and promises of eternal torment for those who don’t share the self-declared prophets’ opinions and they all fall into line like sheep. Unbelievable.”

“Well, they’re people,” Ella commented and pushed a plate into Lucifer’s hands. She put another one onto Hirschel’s lap and gently shook him awake as he had fallen asleep again.

Lucifer wrinkled his nose. He didn’t like what he was seeing on the plate – the beans looked like someone had sat on them. But he was so hungry…

He heard footsteps and glancing up he saw Chloe coming down, looking tired and worried.

“Maze?” he asked.

“Resting. Or still knocked out. She started to sweat which is good I guess but the problem is that the sweat is full of holy water and as it surfaces it burns her skin. So we have to wipe it off constantly. We will take shifts. Amenadiel and Linda are with her now.”

Lucifer nodded. “Lunch is ready.” He showed her his plate, looking for a reaction. He saw Chloe sigh.

“I knew I should have stopped Dan buying all those canned beans.”

“Yes, you should have,” Lucifer agreed as Ella pushed a plate into Chloe’s hands. “If the Rider doesn’t kill us, the fallout from eating all these beans certainly will.”

Chloe nodded and stood motionlessly, staring at Lucifer. This guy had literally gone to Hell for her. She should say something. But ‘thank you’ seemed woefully inadequate.

Now Lucifer didn’t know what was going on in Chloe’s head. Her eyes seemed bigger, her pupils dilated slightly, her mouth forming a slight ‘o’. If he didn’t know better he would think she was looking at him with something like awe. He knew better. Something else then... She had been looking at him with lust lately but this was different. Had she been drinking perhaps? She could have shared.

“Are you alright, Detective?”

“What? Yes, of course.” And the look was gone. But now she seemed flustered. What was wrong with her?

“Are you?” Chloe asked.

“What?”

“Alright?”

“Of course I’m alright,” Lucifer answered. What a ridiculous question.

“We’re both alright then. That’s good.” Yet Chloe knew they were both lying.

Lucifer frowned. It seemed like deja-vu. Hadn’t they had a similar conversation after their first kiss? Oh, he hoped she wouldn’t be all throw-caution-to-the-wind-Chloe again. It had been disconcerting when she had tried that.

“And they say I’m awkward,” Ella muttered, heaping beans on another plate.

Chloe rolled her eyes and taking a few steps she sat next to Lucifer. She didn’t need Ella’s clever comments to add to her feelings of unworthiness. Not that there was a reason for it. So what if Lucifer had died for her? She would do that for him too if she had to. Besides, people did that all the time, didn’t they? Go to Hell to save life of a loved one? Or kill their own brother? Ah… Who was she kidding? They didn’t!

“Are you sure you’re alright, Detective?”

“Yeah. Why shouldn’t I be?”

“Well… you’ve been staring at me with the spoon halfway to your mouth for about a minute now.”

“Oh.” She had totally done that, hadn’t she? “I was just savoring the smell.”

“Of beans?”

Chloe nodded awkwardly and put the spoon in her mouth so she wouldn’t have to say anything else.

“Listen, Detective, I really am OK. Don’t worry about me.”

But she did worry about him, because he obviously wasn’t alright, probably lying even to himself. “I just want you to know that you can talk to me. About anything,” she said.

Lucifer scoffed as his eyes turned downwards. So much for trusting me, Chloe thought bitterly.

The door opened then and Charlotte, God and Johann entered.

“Where’s Vanessa?” Ella asked, looking worried.

“We didn’t kill her if that’s what you’re asking,” Charlotte answered.

“She wanted to spend some time alone,” Johann explained.

“We took her phone,” God added.

“Marvelous,” Lucifer replied sarcastically. “Now if she wanted to call that Miller guy again, she would have to buy another one. Or find a public phone.”

“She won’t,” Johann assured him. “She knows she made a mistake and she’s sorry. She won’t do it again.”

“I bloody hell hope so.”

“Now, Son,” God started as He helped Himself to a plate of beans. “Why don’t you tell us exactly what happened in Cusco?”

“I’ve told you already. I was searching for the key in Saksaywaman when the demons and the Rider came. They were soon joined by police, military and then the Templars, and hunting season started up, me being the main trophy. Bloody good I don’t have horns, otherwise they would hang them on a wall if they got me.”

“Don’t underestimate them. The humans can be creative,” Charlotte said. “They would probably find some part of you to hang on the wall all the same.”

“Right.” Lucifer frowned in disgust, imagining what part that would be. Hopefully just the wings. Lucifer flinched as he remembered the man who had done that with his old pair.

“To finish the riveting story - the Templars took the key and the Rider left empty handed.”

“Yes, yes,” God nodded while chewing the beans contentedly. “But what about the Spear? Did you use it?”

Lucifer looked at the weapon leaned against the wall in the corner. It was covered in blood and dust. “I did. And it did something to the Rider.”

“What did it do?” Chloe asked eagerly.

“Well, it’s hard to tell since the Rider was in its real form at the time, you know, being all nothingness… It kind of jerked like a jelly when I touched it with the blade.”

“That’s it?” Charlotte yelled.

“And what did the blade do to it when it was in a human body?” Ella asked.

“I didn’t have an opportunity to test that,” Lucifer admitted as he remembered his crazy fight with the Rider.

“Pity,” Charlotte commented dryly.

“Oh, there’s something else you should know,” Lucifer remembered. “Eisheth called. I kind of lost my phone on the battlefield. It appears they believe I took the key.”

“They don’t know the Templars have it?” Johann asked.

“Apparently not. Good for the Templars.”

“And for the world,” Charlotte added.

“Unless it’s another trick like the attacks in the cities or accusing Lucifer of the Apocalypse,” Ella pointed out. “Maybe they just want us to stay away from the Templars while they attack them?”

“Bollocks,” Lucifer spat, wanting to smash something badly. Why didn’t he think of that?

“Oh, we should probably warn them,” Chloe suggested.

“Or pay them a visit, tear them limb from limb and take the key from them,” Lucifer offered, looking at Johann. “They deserve to be punished anyway for what they did to Maze.”

The German paled, his face turning the color of his hair. “If… if...” he stammered, “you want me to tell you where they took the key, I don’t know. There are dozens of bases all around the world.”

“Then make a list,” Lucifer snapped.

Johann’s eyes grew round. “I...”

“Lucifer,” Chloe interrupted, “you can’t just invade the Templar’s bases. They’re obviously equipped to kill demons easily. I bet they have means to hurt you as well.”

Lucifer nodded. “I know. They shot me in Cusco.”

“What?” several people exclaimed.

“Where?” Chloe demanded as she put her plate on the floor and started to scan Lucifer’s body with her hands.

“As pleasant as that is, Detective, you won’t find anything out of order,” Lucifer said, making Chloe blush. “It was my wing that took the shot. And it’s all healed now.”

“Oh. OK,” she said and retrieve her plate. “But you see my point. Besides,” Chloe paused, knowing very well she would make Lucifer angry, “we don’t want to make the Templars our enemy.”

“Kind of late for that!” Lucifer yelled, shaking his head. “They already made themselves our enemy.”

“She’s right,” Johann said hesitatingly. “They’re the only people in the world who know what’s going on and can actually help. Now that they saw the Rider for themselves, they will realize the truth. After they identify the traitor, they could be a valuable ally.”

Lucifer laughed. “I doubt that. Anyway we don’t have time to wait for them to come around,” Lucifer said as he remembered one more thing. “When Maze went to Hell, she figured out why it’s bleeding. You remember Hell’s bleeding, right?” As everyone except Ella nodded, Lucifer continued. “The reason is simple. Hell is alive and the demons are killing it.”

“What… what do you mean ‘alive’?” Chloe asked.

“Like a huge plant. Or mushroom. Or… I don’t bloody know. Until today I’ve had no clue about this! Imagine my surprise learning that I spent most of my life in... entrails! No wonder living there was eating me up.”

“Eww,” Ella mumbled.

“And no-one even thought to tell me about it!” Lucifer looked at Charlotte and God accusingly.

“Well, I didn’t know,” Charlotte argued. “Your Father built that place, not me! I only helped with divine protection to the Pit.”

“Right.” Lucifer wasn’t surprised by the answer. “Anyway, the demons are digging, killing Hell on purpose so it would release the damned souls and the Rider could have a feast. A billions-course meal.”

“The Rider can’t enter Hell’s chambers,” Charlotte explained to the humans.

“Or human bodies,” Lucifer added. “Unless they’re roughed up. Maze has a theory that the Rider can’t go through living matter. But the more pressing question is what will happen once the demons get to the Pit?”

“Oh no!” Charlotte exclaimed.

“What?” Ella demanded. “What will happen?”

“That’s what we don’t want to find out, Miss Lopez,” Lucifer replied. “But if the Pit… dies, the Rider won’t need the other keys.”

“Hell’s bells,” God cursed.

“… are sounding the alarm loud and clear,” Lucifer finished. “So, we don’t have much time left if we want to win this war. Now it’s time for ideas. Even stupid ones are welcomed.”

“I think I’ll have more beans,” God uttered and helped Himself to another plate of meal. “And then maybe I should have another hypnosis.”

*******

Chloe returned to Maze’s room with yet another tea. It was so hot in there she could barely breathe. But it was working – Maze was slowly, painfully sweating the holy water out of her body. She lay stark naked on the bed, still bound and unconscious while Linda wiped the poisonous sweat off her skin.

As Chloe made sure the tea wasn’t hot enough to burn her, she lifted Maze’s head, opened her mouth, and poured some inside, squeezing her nose to make her swallow.

“God wants to try another hypnosis,” Chloe said.

“No,” Linda replied without hesitation. “The last one was bad enough. The next one could easily kill Him. Besides I don’t think I can get anything useful out of Him anyway.”

Chloe agreed. “I know. But we are out of options.”

“I think we’ve been out of options since the beginning.”

“Hm,” Chloe nodded and watched the doctor bring the rag to Maze’s abdomen carefully.

“I’m worried about Lucifer too,” Chloe said. “I mean physically he’s alright but emotionally he’s obviously not. Would you talk to him?”

Linda stopped wiping Maze’s skin and looked up. “I can’t. Not now.”

“I understand.” Chloe knew Linda and Maze had become very good friends. And she could see the stress Maze’s condition brought on Linda.

“Maybe you could talk to him,” Linda suggested.

“I wouldn’t know what to say.”

“Just be what you’ve always been. His friend.”

“I don’t know. I mean every time I try to get closer to him he seems to withdraw even more.”

Linda nodded. “Because he thinks you want to move your relationship further.”

“Well, he’s not wrong,” Chloe admitted. “But I guess that’s not what he wants. I mean I know he cares for me deeply – Charlotte mentioned Lucifer’s trip to Hell to save me.”

Linda looked away, guiltily. “Yes. That.”

Yes, that, Chloe thought icily. Apparently everybody had known but her. “But I don’t think he’ll ever stop believing it’s all God’s doing. I don’t think he even wants to.”

“It’s very difficult for him. Due to God’s condemnation Lucifer came to believe he doesn’t deserve… anything good in his life.”

“Like love?”

“Like you. It’s easier to jump to the conclusion that it’s not real than to start to hope and risk everything.”

“So how do I make him believe?” Chloe asked. She so wanted to help him but she had no idea how. Sometimes he seemed damaged beyond repair.

“Don’t push. Give him time. He needs to come to terms with the possibility that your feelings are genuine first,” Linda continued. “Then he can move on. He just needs it to be at his own pace. By his own rules.”

Chloe nodded. But what about her needs? What about her need to hold him, to soothe him, to kiss him, to… well, do other stuff. Didn’t it matter?

“Just be there for him no matter what. Be patient. I know it’s hard. But it’s hard for him as well.”

What an impossible task, Chloe thought.

*******

The rest of the day had passed rather quickly. Lucifer had tried to distract himself from the demon above in every possible way; he had chopped some wood, made dinner, browsed through the news and even tried to think about any solution to the Rider problem but his brain kept returning to Maze. He knew he should go to her but he couldn’t. He couldn’t see her that way again.

So every time someone had come downstairs to make tea for Maze, retrieve hot bricks for her, or just simply take a rest after caring for her, he had asked about her.

“She seems better,” was the general reply. But it sounded hollow and Lucifer suspected that they were saying it just to make themselves believe it.

He sat on the couch, long legs sprawled in front of him, a cup of tea on the table, for once happy he was left alone. He was tired of people asking him whether he was alright and about what had happened in Cusco.

It was midnight by the time anyone else came downstairs. It was Chloe and she looked beyond tired.

“She seems better,” Chloe said before Lucifer could have asked. Well, of course she did…

“While you look worse, Detective.”

“Oh. You really know how to give a compliment.”

Lucifer beamed, not detecting the sarcasm. “You should probably go to bed now.”

“Only if you come too.”

Lucifer took a deep breath.