“It’s all real.”
Her heart pounds at a mile a minute, hands shaking as she stares wide-eyed at the face in front of her, and she can’t be sure she isn't about to faint right here, just collapse on the spot surrounded by shattered tile and bloodstained feathers.
Bloodstained feathers that came from Lucifer.
Because Lucifer has actual fucking wings, wings that she could swear he used to shield the both of them from a hail of bullets ten minutes ago, and that he definitely used to literally fly her to safety, and—oh, yeah, of course there’s also the tiny fact that his face looks like—like—
Christ. Maybe she needs to faint.
But then, without warning, Lucifer’s face goes back to normal. The scorched red flesh and the scars and the black flaming coals where his eyes should have been—it all just fucking winks back into her Lucifer like the whole thing was a mirage (it wasn't, she knows it wasn't, if for no other reason than that the feathery evidence is still scattered all around them), and then all she can see is him, his normal human face and his mussed up hair and the tear tracks on his cheeks.
And a second later, naturally, Lucifer beats her to the whole collapsing thing.
His knees give out from under him, and Chloe feels her heart leap up into her throat as she rushes forward to catch him.
“Shit, Lucifer, you—you’re hurt,” she stammers, breathless, clutching him by the upper arms and gently lowering them both to sit, and her voice takes on a ring of confusion as she looks him over. “You’re… You’re… Where are you hurt?”
There's a cut on his arm just above where her hand maintains its death grip, the fabric of his suit sliced clean through, and bullet holes in his shirt but hardly any blood at all—and at least that explains some things, all those near-deaths he’s had that should have been the end of him. But none of it explains him collapsing now, or the way he leans all of his weight into her, or how he drops his forehead on her shoulder, his exhausted breaths ghosting across her collarbone.
Chloe splays a hand over his back, feeling for gunshot exit wounds even though she knows that search will come up empty.
“Lucifer. Talk to me. Where are you hurt?”
She expects the answer before it comes, before his voice croaks out, exhausted and pained.
“It—it’s the wings.”
“... Okay,” she says, because that’s all she can say, because she can't let herself think too hard about that yet, and she also doesn't let herself dwell on the fact that he says the wings, not my wings. Inhuman body parts or not, he’s hurt, and it’s a direct result of saving her life. Again. “Okay. Come on. We need to find you some medical attention.”
He laughs then, but it’s a tremulous little sound, hardly louder than a sigh. His voice hums against her shoulder.
“Hospital, then? Reckon they’ve got… wing repair kits, do you?”
She opens her mouth to tell him off for being an ass when she is already this close to fully freaking out, but she stops, letting out a huff.
“Well, we can’t stay here, Lucifer.”
“Amenadiel’d know what to do,” Lucifer mutters, sounding only half lucid. “But he’s gone, too.”
Chloe bites the inside of her cheek, but she has no idea what to say to that, or how to ease the sudden heartache in Lucifer’s voice. She can only deal with what’s in front of her.
“We, um… we’ll drive to the penthouse. We just need to get out of here before things get even harder to explain,” she says, eyes sweeping over the dead body that used to be Marcus, the knife in his chest that definitely has Lucifer’s prints all over it, and then there’s all the feathers—will they be able to get DNA evidence from those?
Oh. Wait. The person who would be in charge of that is at the penthouse, too. Unless this case goes to another precinct, which it should, and probably will, because it involves their lieutenant.
Their lieutenant who may or may not have been the immortal, biblical Cain, who is definitely very dead now and who tried to kill Lucifer and who she almost fucking married—
Great. She's thinking in circles now.
Am I spiraling? I think I might be spiraling.
“... ‘menadiel’s gone… Charlotte and Mum, both gone,” Lucifer mumbles, dragging her out of her head. “You’re still here, though.”
Chloe gulps down the lump in her throat.
“Yeah,” she says, pressing her cheek to the side of his head. Thanks to you. “Yeah, Lucifer, I’m still here.”
“But I… I thought…” he starts to say, and then he seems to forget what, exactly, he thought, because he leaves the sentence hanging there.
“Come on,” Chloe repeats, tugging him by the arms. “We’ll get to the penthouse and I’ll… help patch you up, I guess. Okay?”
“I… I could get us there faster, Detective.”
“You…?” Chloe starts to ask, blinking down at his hair with wide eyes, and then she shakes her head. Is he really suggesting what she thinks he's suggesting? Is Lucifer really offering to fly them home? She almost smacks him. “Are you serious? You can barely stand.”
“I flew you to safety alright, didn't I?”
“Oh, for God—or, whatever, whoever’s sake. I am not having this conversation with you. Come on, get up.”
This, bickering with him, the easy familiarity of it, it almost makes things feel semi-normal. He even flashes a teasing smile at her as they start to stand, though there’s something strained about it, like it was more automatic than genuine. Distracted, maybe.
Of course he’s distracted, she scolds herself. Look around you, Decker.
It’s slow going, urging him to his feet, pulling his arm over her shoulders and winding her own arm tightly around his waist. He cooperates as best as he can, she’s sure, but he slumps against her with nearly all of his weight, dragging his feet as they begin to leave the room, and he is exactly as heavy as a man his height ought to be—which, of course, is bad news for her.
Still. She manages.
That is until, of course, they reach the bottom of the stairs and Lucifer actually passes out, just crumples to the ground heedless of her grip on his waist.
There are a lot of things Chloe Decker is trained to handle.
Compartmentalizing, now that she can do. She managed to explain the events, or a hastily doctored version sans the mention of wings or her sometimes-bulletproof partner, to the first officers on the scene without incriminating either of them. It was self defense. Lucifer saved both of their lives. Pierce was the Sinnerman, he was behind all of it, including killing Charlotte.
She and Lucifer will still need to give statements—but later, later, after they’ve recovered.
She even managed to convince the EMT to let her take a barely conscious Lucifer from the ambulance, explaining away the woundless bullet holes in his shirt with talk of kevlar, explaining away his lightheadedness as shock. He’s not a cop, she explained. And then she lied through her teeth: He’s never had to deal with something like this until now. It’s okay, I’ll take him to the station, we can take care of him there.
She managed to guide him to the passenger seat of his own car, and then fished his keys from his pocket and drove them straight to LUX. She made sure the penthouse was empty and even remembered to lock the elevator door behind them.
And all without breaking down even once.
It really was an admirable feat of compartmentalization, or maybe later she’ll see it as such, when she can think straight.
Now, she just stares down at the scene before her with hands on her hips, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth, long held back tears finally pricking at the corners of her eyes.
She is not trained to handle this, compartmentalization be damned.
Having mostly cooperated with her on their way out of the elevator—despite the clear weakness of his limbs and the groans of pain with every movement he made—Lucifer has been gently stripped out of his suit and shirt, and now he is laid out, facedown and shirtless and all but completely unconscious now, on his own bed.
And his wings are out. Just when Chloe was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, the gunfight had knocked something loose in her brain and made her hallucinate them, they just—popped right out, unfurled out of nothing from his back and extended across the width of the room and then some, knocking priceless antiques off of shelves and drawing a startled shout from her throat.
And they’re huge. His left wing has settled the only place it can, bent at an odd angle where it meets the wall of windows, but his right stretches straight out through the entrance of his bedroom, bloodied feathers trailing down the steps. They must be over fifteen feet long, and despite the dirt and gunpowder and blood spattered on the feathers Chloe can still see the otherworldly quality about them, the pearly effervescence that shines through wherever it can, wherever the feathers have come through the fight unscathed. Which, unfortunately, isn’t much.
Jesus. Or—whoever. Shit. No wonder he passed out.
Chloe heaves a deep breath, wipes the tears from her eyes, and leaves the bedroom to find a first aid kit. He has to have one, right? Even for all his talk of being immortal (nope, not talk, she reminds herself, definitely not talk) he is clearly not invincible, and in any case, he always has guests over. Regular, human, non-immortal guests. He’s got to have something.
As it turns out, he doesn’t. Of course he doesn't, or at least she doesn’t find it, but she does find unscented soap in the closet next to the guest bathroom, along with tweezers and towels and a neat stack of folded washcloths that she carries straight to his nightstand along with a bowl of lukewarm water from the tap. She swipes a bottle of top shelf whiskey from the bartop, too, probably the last thing Lucifer was drinking and forgot to put back. She takes a healthy gulp of it on her way back to the bedroom.
“Okay, Decker,” she says to herself, eyes unwavering on Lucifer’s bloodied wings as she takes another swig from the bottle. “Okay. You can do this.”
She drinks the whiskey until it’s down to the bottom of the neck, drinks until her heart rate comes back down to normal and her hands stop shaking.
And she gets to work.
Lucifer is completely unconscious by now, which is a blessing—ha, ha, a blessing, she thinks, shooting a glance up at the ceiling as if she expects to be smited right there on the spot. In any case, Lucifer doesn’t move and his wings remain dead weight without so much as a twitch, even as she goes about the arduous task of digging the bullets out of the muscles and sinew, which she knows must hurt like a bitch. She removes all the bullets she can find, cringing with sympathy each time and dropping them in a pile on the nightstand to be discarded later. When she thinks she may have gotten all of them, she checks over both wings again, slowly, just to be sure. And then she begins to clean away the blood and grime as gently as she possibly can, wringing out the bloodied rags into the bowl as she goes.
The whole thing is strangely therapeutic. It gives her a solid chunk of time to sit and work and think.
Her entire worldview has just been flipped on its head. Heaven, Hell, the whole thing, all of it is real. Part of her still wants to cry at the thought of it, but whether those tears are from shock or grief or fear or something else entirely, she has no idea.
On the plus side, she thinks, at least her dad is definitely in Heaven. She has irrefutable proof of that now, that his life didn’t just end when his heart stopped beating. It also doesn’t hurt to know that the especially heinous perps she’s seen die—the truly evil ones, the ones whose files made her sick to her stomach—are getting their biblical just desserts in the afterlife while their victims get to enjoy some peace.
She chews on the inside of her cheek. If her dad is in heaven, she wonders if he heard her, all those times she talked to him and hoped he was listening. If he’s watched over her like her mom always said, if he's gotten to see Trixie growing up. If he’s proud of her.
She’ll have to ask Lucifer if that’s how it works, once he’s awake. It’ll be the first of, oh, only about a million and a half questions she has bouncing around in her brain. There’s so many things that she still wants to know, so many things he should have told her a long time ago, on top of all the things he did tell her and she simply refused to believe.
Despite all her questions, though, her thoughts keep circling back to the source of all these wounds. It's hard not to, as she methodically works through cleaning them, the bloody evidence laid out right in front of her.
She can still feel where the first bullet hit her vest, and she knows she’ll have an ugly bruise creeping above the neckline of her shirts for the next several weeks. And she only vaguely remembers Lucifer taking her in his arms, and the way he held her close and screamed over the barrage of gunfire all around them. It’s hazy, even now, and she definitely blacked out for some of it, but the proof of what happened is right here in her hands, impossible to ignore.
Lucifer saved her life.
Whatever else he might be, whatever else he might think he is, he saved her life at the expense of himself. And he did it immediately, without hesitation, without a second thought.
The Devil from all the stories isn’t supposed to be that selfless.
But that's the crux of the problem, isn't it? He's not the Devil from all the stories, because the stories got it all wrong. Isn't that what he's insisted on from day one?
Chloe reaches out and runs her free hand through his hair, nails lightly scraping over the sweat soaked hairs at the nape of his neck. If not for the wings, she would never guess that the man lying in front of her was anything other than human, anything other than her partner.
And in some ways, he really isn’t any different, she thinks. Not in the ways that matter.
She continues cleaning, gently running her fingers over the feathers as she goes, putting them back into place where she can, letting them fall when they come dislodged from the lightest touch. All she can do is clean what she can and hope that it’s making a difference, that whatever she can’t fix will heal on its own. The mother in her rebels vehemently at the idea, but it's not like she has much choice in the matter.
It’s been well over an hour, and she’s almost done, when Lucifer finally stirs.
It starts with a low sound from the back of his throat, and Chloe freezes, wide eyes going to the back of his head.
The sound builds into a groan, and he turns and presses his face into the pillow. His right wing bends and yanks out of her grip, hunches around him protectively as the pain starts to come back to him, but his left only gives a feeble little twitch. Chloe reaches out, hand hovering above the small of his back as she wars between the urge to provide some comfort and the worry that she might hurt him.
“Ah— damn—” he chokes out, his shoulders tensing as he tries to push himself up. His left wing seems to have regained feeling now, retracting and then stretching out so that it smacks into the window hard enough to leave a spider-crack in the glass. Chloe jumps up from where she was sitting on the bed, dropping the damp cloth in her hand and hastily backing away to give him space.
It ends up being a wise decision. As he slowly turns himself over his right wing sweeps around the entire perimeter of the room, and Chloe lets out a startled yelp as she ducks to avoid it just half a second before he would have bowled her over.
Lucifer freezes at the sound, half turned so that she can only see his profile.
There’s a pause, a moment in which neither of them says anything, and then:
He says it so quietly she barely hears it. He turns just enough to look at her, and Chloe is suddenly struck by how terrified he looks, his eyes wide and bloodshot, his jaw shaking. Even with his injuries, even with the grogginess of having just woken up from being unconscious, the face just doesn’t match up, doesn’t make sense, not coming from him. She wastes no time in coming back to the bed, slowly sitting down just barely within arm’s reach of him.
“Hey,” she whispers with her best reassuring smile. It falters a bit when she reaches out for him and he flinches away—violently, like he’s afraid her touch will burn him for some reason—but she determinedly keeps her voice gentle as she lowers her hand back down. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re okay.”
Lucifer tears his gaze away from her and takes in his surroundings. His empty bedroom, the pile of blood soaked rags on the floor, the bowl of murky reddish water on the nightstand beside an assortment of bloodied bits of metal and a pair of tweezers.
Finally, he sags back into the pillows, sitting fully with his wings half tucked in and lying limp on the bed, his left wing trailing off to touch the floor. His brow furrows, but the frightened look doesn’t go away.
“Yeah,” she answers with a nod. “I did what I could. I, um… I’m not exactly an expert on, uh, what to do if an angel’s wings get shot”—she pauses, unable to hold back a somewhat hysterical snort of laughter, because she just spent over an hour repairing a literal angel’s wings, and how is that something that happened in real life?—“and I couldn’t exactly take you to a hospital, but, yeah. I got the bullets out, and I tried to clean what I could.”
“No, not…” he starts to say, shakes his head, and tries again. “You’re still here.”
Chloe pauses, frowning, and she says, “Well… yeah. Where else would I be? Did you… Did you think I was gonna leave?”
She’s close enough that she can see him gulp. Tears have welled up in his eyes, shining and clinging to his lashes, and she knows without getting an answer that he absolutely did expect her to leave.
“You—you saw my face. I—I killed Pierce, how can you…?”
“Hey, Pierce was going to kill you. He almost killed me,” she reassures him calmly. “He would have, if it wasn’t for you.”
“No,” he insists, shaking his head, and a tear falls over his cheek. He squeezes his eyes shut. “No, that doesn’t matter. I killed a human, and—and angels can’t kill humans, and then I went and made it worse… I made sure he went to Hell, I condemned his soul for the rest of eternity, all because he—”
He cuts himself off, his voice choked into silence, and he opens his eyes and looks down at his hands in his lap.
“I’m exactly the monster they always said I was.”
And just like that, understanding clicks into place. The terrified look on his face, his flinching away from her touch, it wasn’t because he was afraid of her, it was because he thought she was afraid of him.
“No,” Chloe says, and his gaze snaps up to her.
“Nope,” she says again, shaking her head and determinedly shifting closer to him. “I don’t buy it. You know who was a monster? Pierce. The guy who killed Charlotte, the guy who tried to kill your brother, the guy who ran a huge criminal network and lured us into a trap to kill you. You remember all that, right? He was the monster here, not you.”
“But I killed him—”
“Yeah. You did. Right after you saved my life. You took over twenty bullets for me, Lucifer. I’d know, I just dug them all out of you,” she says with a nod toward the nightstand.
She pauses, hesitating, but in the end she doesn't let herself contemplate the ridiculousness of giving cop advice to an actual archangel that's been around since the beginning of time.
He’s still Lucifer.
“Look. In this line of work, there are a lot of difficult decisions,” she tells him. “Sometimes you have to end one life to save others, and it sucks, and the guilt can eat you alive if you let it. But I’m telling you, Lucifer, you can’t let it.”
She waits for her words to sink in, and when they do Lucifer gives her the saddest smile she’s ever seen, and he whispers, “It’s not that simple.”
“No, it really is,” she insists, and she reaches out for him, slowly, mindful of the fact that he might shrink away from her touch again. He doesn’t, not this time. He just stays still as a statue as she cradles the side of his face and wipes away his tears with a thumb. “I know you, Lucifer. I told you, you’re not the Devil, not to me. You’re not human, sure, that much is obvious now, but you’re not a monster. Not even close.”
She lets her hand fall to the side of his neck, thumb sweeping across the stubble along his jaw.
And then, just like that, his face morphs. She almost gasps at how quickly it happens, thinking she somehow caused it, but she wisely reins it in. His skin takes on that sickly reddish hue, scars marring every inch of his face, his eyes deep black pits with hellfire burning through the pupils. Her own eyes widen, taking it all in up close this time, the familiar shape of his jaw and nose, the ethereal quality to his eyes that she can’t quite comprehend—and she wonders if maybe she’s not supposed to. Maybe it’s not meant for a mortal human mind to comprehend.
That’s alright, she thinks. Her mortal human mind’s already got plenty to deal with.
She smirks. “Nice try. Still not seeing it.”
His face returns to normal, the red visage falling away with a shimmer, and then it’s just Lucifer’s wide brown eyes staring at her. Slowly, he reaches one hand up to cover hers.
Quietly, with all the conviction of someone who really, truly believes it, he says, “I don't deserve you.”
“Hey. How about you let me decide that, okay?”
Chloe gently tugs him toward her. She only means to hug him, but somehow, some other instinct takes over so that she's pressing her lips to his before she even realizes what she's doing.
Well, she thinks, at least one thing hasn't changed. Kissing him feels exactly the same as it did yesterday, when he was just Lucifer, not the Prince of Darkness or whatever else he’s supposed to be. Right now, he’s not some millenia-old celestial being with the weight of Hell bearing down on his shoulders. He’s just Lucifer, her Lucifer, and her heart flutters in her chest the same way it always does when he deepens the kiss and brings his hands to her waist.
When they break apart, she leans her forehead against his and says, “I’m still here, Lucifer. I’m not going anywhere, and you’re not pushing me away. Not this time.”
Lucifer gulps again, and without warning he wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her into a tight embrace, burying his face into the dip of her collarbone. She winds her arms around his shoulders and cards her fingers through his hair, and she watches in awe as his wings slowly curve forward, just slightly, like every part of him is leaning into the hug as he tightens his arms around her.
He takes in a slow, trembling breath. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Detective.”
She smiles and presses a kiss to his temple, still running her fingers through his hair as the tension slowly bleeds out of him. When he next speaks, it’s so quiet that she would never have even heard it had they not been so close, had she not been able to feel the breath of it on her skin.
“... Thank you, Chloe.”
Later, after they’ve collected themselves and gone to the precinct to give their statements, after they’ve reassured both Dan and Ella a million times that they’re okay, after they’ve gathered the evidence against Pierce and handed it all over to the Gang and Narcotics Division for their investigation into the Sinnerman’s network, after she gets home and hugs Trixie and puts her to bed, Chloe flops down onto her couch with a huff that says I need to sleep for a week, and she leans her head onto Lucifer’s shoulder.
They sit, and they talk, taking turns eating ice cream straight out of the container, keeping their voices low to avoid waking Trixie.
He tells her everything. He tells her about the deal he made to protect her, about his mother coming to Earth in the form of Charlotte Richards, about Uriel, about sending his mother away to another universe, and she gives his arm a squeeze as he wipes the tears away. He tells her how difficult it was to see Charlotte again after that, how desperately he wanted it to still be her despite all the horrible things she’d done. He talks about the Beginning, about his siblings, his Father, and Chloe comes back with stories of her own childhood, making him laugh through the tears and, occasionally, letting him into some of the darker parts of her past. Fair is fair, after all.
They talk into the small hours of the morning. And even if Chloe gets angry with his recollections once or twice and in one instance even throws the spoon at him—“I’m sorry, you brought who back from the dead?!”—she follows it up with a barely held back smile and leans her forehead against his arm, shaking her head at his impulsiveness.
Because they're okay. There's a sort of lightness in her chest now, a weight lifted off of her, because now she knows. There are no more secrets between them, no more miscommunications tangled up in metaphors that were never metaphors in the first place
Chloe pulls his arm over her shoulders, nestling herself against him so that she can feel his heartbeat against her cheek and feel his voice resonating in his chest.
It'll be a long time before she fully wraps her head around all of this, if she ever wraps her head around it.
But they're okay. They're alive and well and together, and just before Chloe drifts off to sleep, she thinks, well…
That's really all she can ask for.