“Alright, out with it. What is wrong with you?” Maze stared hard at Lucifer. They had been discussing the problem of his returned wings and missing devil face without getting anywhere, and all the time he had been fidgeting, shifting in his seat, wincing occasionally.
Lucifer glared at her, a note of defensiveness in his voice as he denied her accusation. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”
That only earned him a derisive snort. “I thought you didn’t lie.”
He drew himself up, no doubt to deny hotly that he was doing any such thing, and promptly winced.
“Ha!” Maze pointed an accusing finger at him, getting nothing but a glare in return. “Don’t try to bullshit me, I know pain when I see it.”
“Alright, fine. It’s nothing really, just those pesky wings bothering me.”
She stared at him suspiciously. Millennia with Lucifer had taught her to read him well, and she knew he was hiding something. “Did you injure them or something?”
The curt answer only increased her suspicions. “Let me see them.”
“Really Maze, there’s no need for that. It’s just a minor inconvenience.”
“Lucifer.” There was a distinct warning growl in her voice now. “Let me see your wings.”
Lucifer gave an exasperated sigh. “Oh, for goodness sake. Fine.”
With a roll of his shoulders he unfurled his wings, wincing as he stretched them out.
Maze actually took a step back, her revulsion obvious on her face. He frowned at her. Surely it couldn’t be as bad as that? Lucifer knew that his demon was unfazed by gore and carnage that would make most humans break down in hysterics. For her to react so strongly, things had to be bad. With a mounting sense of apprehension, he turned his head and took a look. It was worse than he could have imagined.
His once pristine wings looked mangy. The usually immaculate feathers were dull, looking somehow both dusty and greasy. Their barbs were in disarray. Some feathers were missing altogether, leaving bare patches of red, inflamed skin visible. Others were twisted, or stained with unpleasant secretions.
Lucifer inhaled sharply at the horrifying sight, and immediately wished he hadn’t. His wings reeked. The stench of disease assaulted his nostrils, sticking to the back of his throat and making him gag.
By the time he’d recovered, Maze was circling him slowly, studying the wreckage with the same intense scrutiny she used to employ when assessing a damned soul she was about to torture. It was entirely too disconcerting for Lucifer’s taste.
Throughout the inspection, a series of muttered oaths and exclamations came from the demon, growing steadily in vehemence. When she completed her circle and stood before him once more, he didn’t need to look at her face to know she was seriously pissed off.
“You didn’t take care of them at all, did you?” Her ferocious glare made him shift uneasily. “What the Hell were you thinking?”
“Maze-“, Lucifer raised a placating hand, but she interrupted him before he could think of anything to say.
“What were you trying to do, make them rot off?”
When he didn’t reply and averted his gaze, Maze gave an inarticulate scream of frustration.
“You were, weren’t you?! You idiot!” Lucifer hadn’t thought it possible, but the intensity of her glare went up a notch. “And of course you’ve been spending lots of time around Chloe, just to make sure.”
He frowned in confusion. “What? No, I’ve just been working with the Detective, as usual. What does that have to do with this?” He gestured vaguely at his wings.
“Duh. She makes you vulnerable. And she slows down your healing abilities. Your wings might have been able to handle the lack of care under normal circumstances. But when Chloe is making you weak, they didn’t stand a chance.”
“Yeah. Oh.” Maze scowled at him. “Are you seriously trying to claim that you didn’t do it on purpose?”
“I didn’t!” Lucifer cried out indignantly. He sighed deeply, shoulders slumping, wings drooping. “I hate this. I hate that my father decided to stick them back on me, and that there is nothing I can do to rid myself of them. So I just tucked them away and tried to forget they are there.” A mirthless laugh escaped him. “That worked out really well.”
Maze snorted at his sarcasm. “Obviously.” She hesitated for a moment, then went on, “Why did you let it get so bad, though? They must have been bothering you for a while already.”
He shrugged half-heartedly, the wings twitching with the movement. A mangled feather drifted to the floor. “I didn’t think it would get this bad. And taking care of them on my own is always such a bother. Besides, it’s not like my bathroom here is really suitable for wing care.”
“You didn’t have to take care of them on your own. I would have helped you if you’d just asked me.” Maze frowned at him. “You know that, right?”
“Of course I do, Maze. But, well…”
Lucifer avoided her glare as he answered: “I didn’t want to burden you with it.”
“What! Lucifer, helping you with your wings is not a burden. Never has been, never will be.”
Maze was glaring at him, making him shift uneasily.
“I know. I didn’t express that right.” He paused, sighed, then tried again. “I know you like my wings, and you’ve always liked taking care of them. And when I ordered you to cut them off, it was hard for you. So I thought, well… I don’t want to do that to you again, Maze. I am going to find a way to get rid of these pesky things. But I don’t want you to have to get involved with that this time. I know how much it hurt you to do it the last time.”
He risked a quick glance at her to gauge her reaction and found her staring at him, her expression carefully blank. It only lasted a second, and then Maze was suddenly right in front of him, rising up on tiptoe, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing a firm kiss to his lips.
She pulled away after a moment, looking up at him with a solemn intensity that was thoroughly unnerving.
“Thank you.” She kissed him once more, and then took a step back. “I understand why you want to get rid of your wings again, Lucifer. I really do.”
He opened his mouth to forestall any arguments about keeping them that he was certain were coming, but Maze lifted a hand and stopped him.
“And when the time comes, I will help you, if you want me to. I will cut them off again for you.”
Lucifer swallowed hard. “Maze. I… You… “
He took a step forward, gently cupped her face in both hands, and kissed her.
“Thank you, Mazikeen. Thank you.”
His eyes were glistening with tears of gratitude. They stood there frozen for a long moment, staring into each other’s eyes, Lucifer’s hands still cradling Maze’s head.
Abruptly, the demon pulled away, taking a few steps back and breaking eye contact. “Alright. I’ve got to get some stuff together, and find a suitable place. Might take a few hours. I’ll call you when I’m ready, and tell you where to meet me.”
“What?” He stared at her in confusion.
Maze rolled her eyes. “Your wings, Lucifer. They need to be cleaned and treated. I can do it, but I’ll need some equipment. And we can’t do it here. You’re right, your bathroom is not big enough for this. I know someone who has a place that should be suitable, but I have to call him, see if I can get it at such short notice. If I can’t, you may have to call in a favor.”
“Oh.” Lucifer looked rather uncertainly at his demon.
She glared at him. “It needs to be done, Lucifer. You can’t just go on ignoring the problem. Look where that has gotten you!”
“I know, Maze. It’s just…,” he trailed off helplessly, incapable of finding the words to express his thoughts.
“Just what?” His demon’s glare skewered him like one of her hell-forged blades. Lucifer averted his eyes as he answered.
“I didn’t think you would be willing to do this for me.”
“You are such an idiot!”
The frustrated shout echoed through the penthouse. Lucifer risked a quick glance at her, and found her glaring at him, her hands clenching and unclenching in a way that told him she was wishing she could pull out her knives and attack him. He swallowed hard.
“Well, guess what, I am doing this. Whether you like it or not.”
“Thank you, Maze.”
Her only reaction was to turn on her heel and stalk over to the elevator, her finger stabbing the button so viciously that Lucifer wondered if he’d have to call the repair service.
When the doors opened, Maze stepped inside and turned back towards him. “I’ll call you when I’m ready. And Lucifer-“, she stopped the doors from closing with one hand, and gave him a hard look, “when I call, I expect you to answer, and to come to the place I tell you immediately. No excuses, no sudden change of mind. I call, you answer, you go where I tell you to go. Are we clear?”
“But what if the Detective calls me in for a new case?” Lucifer couldn’t help asking the question, despite knowing even before the words left his mouth that it was the wrong thing to say.
“Then you tell her you can’t come. Call in sick, tell her you’ve caught a nasty infection that needs to be treated. I don’t care!” The last was shouted over his cry of protest.
“I don’t care what you tell her, or what she’ll think. But don’t you dare run off to play cops with her now.” Once again, she skewered him with a glare that could have frozen Hell. “Do not force me to hunt you down, Lucifer. Because if you do, I will make you regret it.”
And with that last warning threat, Maze let the elevator doors close on her and disappeared.
Lucifer let out a long breath, slumping as the tension slowly drained out of him. With a grimace, he tucked away his wings, and then sank down into an armchair. He was still surprised that, after everything that had happened between them, Maze was willing to help him with this problem. She really was a good friend. The best. The only one he could trust with this.
He should do something to show her how much he appreciated her. Images of jewelry and hand-forged knives flitted through his mind, but he dismissed them. Pretty baubles and toys were not the right choice here.
What Maze was doing for him was more valuable than any gift he could buy, no matter how expensive it might be. If he really wanted to repay her, he had to do so in kind. She was giving him her time and effort, care, attention. And this despite the fact that the task at hand would no doubt be emotionally difficult and painful for her. But she was doing it anyway, had actually insisted quite forcefully on doing it.
She was putting him and his needs first. She deserved to have him do the same for her.
Her call came a bit more than two hours later. Lucifer took one look at the caller ID to make sure it was her, and picked up.
The only reply he got was an address, which he dutifully repeated as he wrote it down. Before he could ask any questions or say anything else, his demon hung up.
With a sigh, and a silent vow to tread carefully lest he trigger her apparently still simmering temper, Lucifer picked up the bag he had packed with clothes and towels and a few necessary styling products, and headed for his car.
Perhaps it was a good thing that she had hung up so quickly, though. At least this meant there had been no question of telling her about the call he had received from the Detective. She had not been happy about him refusing to come and assist her on her new case, even though she herself had said that it looked like a routine murder with an obvious suspect, plenty of evidence, and several potential witnesses. When he told her that he was dealing with a medical issue she had sounded concerned, but that had quickly changed to annoyance and disgust when he refused to tell her what exactly it was, beyond assuring her that there was no risk of him transmitting it to her or anybody else he had been working with. She clearly hadn’t believed him there, making some nasty remarks about his STDs finally catching up with him, before ending the call rather abruptly.
No, it was better that Maze did not know about that. He just hoped she wouldn’t ask any questions about what he had been doing while she was busy preparing for this grooming session.
Pondering possible answers he could give, Lucifer drove towards the address his demon had given him.
A frown creased the devil’s face when he rounded the last corner and saw his destination. It appeared to be some sort of small warehouse, or possibly a garage or workshop of some kind. It looked run down and abandoned.
As he drew nearer, a rolling gate in the side of the building began to open. Once it was high enough to admit the Corvette, a familiar figure appeared and motioned for him to drive inside, before vanishing into the dark interior of the building. He carefully steered the car through the opening, and found that it led into an empty garage. There were tables and shelves covered with tools and car parts against the walls, but the main space of the building was empty except for one other car. Maze’s car. She was leaning against it, a bag slung over her shoulder.
Lucifer quickly parked the Corvette and retrieved his own bag from its trunk. Then he looked around, taking in the dilapidated state of the building, the fresh oil stains on the floor, the dust and grime that covered the shelves and tables, and most - but not all - of the objects lying on them. It filled him with wariness and the first threads of trepidation. Surely Maze didn’t intend to deal with his wings here?
“This is just a safe place to park the cars,” she informed him with visible exasperation, apparently having read his thoughts on his face. “Follow me.”
He hurried after her as she headed for a small door in the opposite wall of the building. Behind it lay a short corridor, with an office on one side, and - judging by the smell wafting out of the half-open door - a restroom or some sort on the other side.
For a second, Lucifer entertained the horrible thought that this was where Maze planned to deal with his wings. Thankfully, she passed the doorway without pause, moving straight towards another door at the end of the hallway. He couldn’t suppress a sigh of relief, and distinctly heard a derisive snort from his demon in response.
The door at the end led outside, into a sort of junkyard filled with heaps of rusting scrap metal. A narrow path wound through it, leading to a steel door in the wall of the next building. Maze opened it without having to unlock it first, confirming Lucifer’s suspicion that she had been there before greeting him in the garage.
Inside, he found himself in another short, nondescript corridor with offices on either side. At the end was yet another door, and once they went through it, the interior changed quite dramatically. Nondescript, utilitarian white walls and linoleum floors gave way to walls painted in soft, soothing pastels, framed with tastefully elegant moldings, with pictures hung on them here and there. The floor now consisted of smooth terracotta tiles. Lucifer turned for a quick look back at the door they had come through, and saw the discreet “Employees only” sign he had expected.
“What is this place?”
Maze didn’t bother turning her head as she replied. “A private bath and spa. Belongs to an… acquaintance of mine.”
“And this… acquaintance of yours just lets you use it?” Lucifer asked, mimicking her significant pause.
This time Maze did turn back to him, smirking. “I asked nicely.”
When he raised an eyebrow, she rolled her eyes and added, “He likes me because I took care of a little problem for him a while ago, when I was working on one of my bounties.”
“You’re doing favors now?”
“No.” The answer came immediately, hard and cold. “I didn’t do him a favor, and he isn’t doing me one now. The guy I was bounty hunting was the ex-boyfriend of one of Maksim’s employees, and was stalking her. Me knocking the piece of shit out and dragging his sorry ass back to jail took care of that before Maksim had to do something himself. After that, we’ve done business a few times. And we’re doing business now. I’m paying for the use of this place. The official rate. But Maksim only rents it out to people he knows and trusts. And he usually doesn’t do it on such short notice.” She glared briefly at Lucifer. “I expect the money back from you, by the way.”
“Of course. Any expenses you have because of this are on me.”
He hesitated for a moment, unsure if he should offer to pay her for her time, too. Then he decided against it. On previous occasions, Maze had made it very clear when she expected him to pay her for her services. She hadn’t said anything this time. If he offered payment now, she might take it as an insult, or read all sorts of things into it he didn’t mean. No. She did deserve something for what she was doing for him, but money was not the right choice of repayment.
They passed the doors of a few rooms that were obviously for various spa treatments - Lucifer spied a massage table through one open doorway, and a pedicure chair through another - and then the corridor opened out into one large room which was dominated by the big swimming pool in its center.
Afternoon sunlight slanted in through a large skylight above the pool, brilliantly illuminating the wall on the other side. Lucifer automatically gazed at the mural decorating that wall, and a wide grin spread across his face. It depicted men and women, almost all nude or nearly so, and engaged in an impressively wide variety of sexual acts. And not just heterosexual ones.
“I’m beginning to see why your… acquaintance is being choosy about who he rents this place to,” he purred.
Maze only snorted and rolled her eyes at him.
Lucifer gave the pool a speculative glance. It certainly was large enough to bathe his wings. Seeing his look, his demon snorted again.
“No. Totally impractical. Besides, chlorinated water alone isn’t going to do the job.” She started walking around the pool, heading for a doorway on the other side. “This way.”
He followed her as she stepped through it and then through another doorway a few yards in on the left side. Their destination turned out to be a locker room. Maze put her bag down on one of the wooden benches and immediately began taking off her clothes. After a moment’s hesitation, which earned him a pointed look, Lucifer followed her example. Once they were both undressed, Maze led the way across the corridor and into the shower room.
Like the locker room, it had no actual door, just an open doorway. Immediately behind this was a sort of large stone wall with square cubby holes where one was apparently supposed to deposit ones towels and other items which should remain dry. Several of the spaces were already filled with stacked towels, at least. Taking a hard left turn and going around the shelf, the shower room proper opened up before them.
It was simply a large, open room, with a row of shower heads on the left and right walls. Those walls were once again decorated with depictions of highly erotic or outright pornographic scenes, this time done in exquisitely painted tiles. Lucifer took a moment to appreciate them, wondering idly if he should ask Maze to find out the contact information of the artist, and see what they could do with the bathroom at his penthouse.
In the middle of the room was a wooden bench, but it didn’t look as though it belonged there. He suspected that this was Maze’s work. Next to it was one of those stainless steel serving tables on wheels, and on its surface he recognized some very familiar instruments. Torture instruments.
Alarmed, he turned towards his demon, and found her smirking and rolling her eyes at him.
“Don’t worry, I’m not planning to torture you. Well, no more than necessary.”
“Seriously, relax. I just need some of the tools to deal with this mess.”
“What? Why?” Lucifer couldn’t imagine any application her torture equipment would have in wing grooming. At least not the sort of wing grooming he had been expecting.
“Because, you idiot, I’m pretty sure you have some ingrown pin feathers among all the mess you’ve made of your wings. I’ll need to cut them open and clean them out, and that requires some tools that can actually do that job on your immortal, invulnerable skin.”
“Oh.” He hadn’t thought of that. “I think you are right.”
“That you are an idiot? Of course I am.”
“No, I mean about me having ingrown pin feathers.” Lucifer shuddered. They were the worst case scenario for angel wings. Pin feathers that got trapped beneath the skin, growing into the flesh. He’d seen it sometimes in his siblings, and on a few occasions back in Hell suffered one himself. They invariably became infected, and removing such a feather from the inflamed flesh was up there among the most painful things he had ever experienced. And now he’d have to deal with that again.
He focused on his demon to find her holding out a pill bottle and a bottle of mineral water to him.
“Oxy. You should take them,” she told him when he just stared at the proffered items.
Lucifer nodded and gave her a grateful smile. “Yes, I’d better have one or two. Thank you.”
“Take a few more. You’re going to need it.”
At his startled and alarmed look, Maze sighed. “This is going to hurt, Lucifer. A lot. I’ll be as careful as I can, but your wings are in such a bad state that cleaning them and dealing with all the damage and the infections is really, really not going to be pleasant, even with the pills. You should have come to me earlier.”
Lucifer suppressed a sigh of his own. “I know, Maze.”
He took the pill bottle from her, opened it, and popped a handful into his mouth, washing them down with the proffered water.
“Alright, let’s do this.” Squaring his shoulders, Lucifer took a few steps until he was almost exactly in the center of the room, and unfurled his wings. Just as the last time, Maze greeted them with a grimace and a sound of disgust. He mirrored her expression as the stench wafted through the room, somehow enhanced by the warm, humid air.
“Shower first, I presume?” Lucifer asked, stepping towards the left wall and its row of shower heads.
“No. We’ll only need the showers for rinsing off.”
He turned back towards his demon, and once again felt a frisson of alarm. Maze was in the process of slipping on a shoulder harness which was attached to a large, bright yellow plastic tank. From its bottom, a thin hose extended, ending in some sort of metal rod with a nozzle at the end. At first glance, it reminded him of a flame thrower, but the plastic argued against that. Further consideration brought to mind the image of people spraying crops with pesticides.
That got him another annoyed glare. “You really need to stop panicking every step of the way here, and trust me with this, Lucifer.”
“I do trust you, Maze. But I’m not sure I trust that thing on your back.”
She scoffed. “Hold out your hand.”
“You say you trust me. Then hold out your hand.”
He did so with obvious reluctance, and couldn’t quite keep himself from flinching when she brought the nozzle forward and quickly sprayed his hand with whatever she had in that tank.
Maze merely snorted derisively and arched an eyebrow in challenge.
Lucifer carefully looked at his hand. It didn’t hurt, burn, or itch. The liquid Maze had sprayed onto it didn’t have any obvious color. He released the breath he had unconsciously been holding, and became aware of a pleasant scent. It was at once familiar, and slightly different.
“Your liquid soap?”
Maze nodded. “Diluted. And I had to change the recipe a bit. Added some antibacterial stuff, and something anti-inflammatory, and a topical painkiller. Might want to wash it off your fingers, or they’re going to go numb.”
Lucifer quickly stepped over to one of the showers, turned it on, and held his hand under the water until he was fairly sure every trace of the soap was gone.
Why this scary getup, though?” He nodded at the pesticide sprayer.
“It’s more effective for getting the stuff on your wings. Now stay standing right there, face the wall, and spread them.”
He could hear the smirk in her voice as she gave the order. Shaking his head slightly, he turned off the shower and complied with her demand. The oxy was kicking in, but it still hurt. He could feel scabs breaking open, dirty feathers rubbing against raw flesh, the stretch of the skin putting pressure on swollen areas.
“Try to make the feathers stand up, if you can handle it.”
Lucifer rolled his eyes at the challenge. He knew Maze had seen his pain. This was her way of helping him. Taunting, egging him on, targeting his pride to give him the strength to push through this. A fond smile curled up his lips, quickly replaced by a grimace as he braced himself with his hands against the wall and tensed the fine muscles in his wings.
Maze didn’t waste any time. As soon as he had taken up the position, she began spraying the wings with her liquid soap mix. Lucifer found himself relaxing slowly as she directed the fine mist between his feathers, covering every inch of his wings’ upper sides, before directing him to turn around so she could do the same to the undersides.
By the time she was finished, he was slightly woozy from the painkillers he had swallowed, and his wings were numb from whatever stuff she had mixed in with the soap. Maze guided him over to the bench and made him sit down, and then she put on a pair of rubber gloves, pulled her equipment table closer, and started the real work.
Lucifer remained silent, staring straight ahead at the painted tiles. He concentrated on the erotic scenes, trying to block out the sensations coming from his wings. It didn’t hurt, thanks to the painkillers, but he could still feel the pressure as Maze cleaned away dirt, the scraping when she removed encrustations, the occasional sharp tug when she plucked out a feather that was damaged beyond repair.
The distraction strategy worked until Maze warned him that she had reached the first ingrown pin feather. Lucifer braced himself, but he still couldn’t stop himself from crying out as she cut open the swollen lump and removed the mangled feather.
Pain lanced through the pleasant fog of the drugs, white hot and throbbing. It was actually worse than he remembered, wrapping around him and squeezing the air out of his lungs until spots danced at the edges of his vision. By the time the agony finally subsided into a low, pulsing ache, Maze was crouching in front of him, holding him by the shoulders and staring at him in deep concern.
Somehow, he managed to give her a wan smile. “I’m okay, Maze.”
His demon raised a highly skeptical eyebrow. “You don’t look it.” She hesitated for a moment, then went on, “we can stop if you want, and I could go and get something that’ll knock you out.”
“No.” His tone was firm. “It’s alright, I can handle it. Now I know what to expect.” He held up a hand to forestall her protest. “It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just…”
Lucifer trailed off, and Maze nodded in understanding. To be unconscious, helpless, while someone did things to you… Neither of them would ever choose that.
“Okay. Your choice. Just tell me when you need a break, or if change your mind.”
“Thank you, Maze.” He smiled at her, then laughed derisively. “I can’t believe this hurts more than cutting the damned things off.”
A speculative look came into his demon’s eyes. “We could do that, you know? Cut them off and let them regrow. They’d come back healthy.”
It was a tempting suggestion, but… “No. I promised the good Doctor that I would not cut my wings off again, and I am a devil of my word.”
“I’m sure Linda didn’t foresee this contingency when she asked you to stop cutting them off!” Maze protested.
“Nevertheless, I stand by my promise.”
“You could call her, explain the circumstances. I’m sure she’d understand that this one time, cutting them off is the better choice.”
Lucifer sighed. “Perhaps. But then she’ll feel guilty that her demand has led to this situation, and I am not putting that on her conscience.”
He glared defiantly when Maze looked ready to go on arguing. “The Doctor does not need that guilt. End of discussion, Maze.”
She muttered a few highly uncomplimentary things about idiot devils who were too stubborn for their own good, but got up and resumed her position behind him. Lucifer tensed, half expecting her to vent her frustration by being rough with him now. He really should have known better. Maze prided herself on her skills in handling his wings. She had always excelled at it, right from the first time she touched them, all those millennia ago. It would take something far worse than a small and ultimately inconsequential disagreement between them for her to deliberately do a bad job.
They fell into a kind of rhythm. Lucifer would let his mind wander, almost sinking into a trance, until Maze would reach another ingrown feather. Then there would be tension, and pain, and a short pause for him to recover, and then Maze would resume her work.
After the second time, his demon dragged the bench closer to the wall, so he could lean forward, brace his forearms against it, and rest his head on them. It helped put some of the strain off his back, and reduced the danger of him ending up face first on the floor every time Maze had to cut into his flesh.
Once she was done with the upper sides of his wings, the bench ended up right against the wall so Lucifer could lean back against it. He did so gingerly, allowing his outstretched wings to touch the smooth, cool tiles. He was surprised to find that it didn’t hurt, and gradually leaned back more, letting his back rest firmly against the wall. The painkillers were doing their job, and he privately congratulated himself on having had the forethought to top up his dose while Maze moved the bench.
His demon brought her work table close and resumed her ministrations.
At first, Lucifer kept his eyes firmly on the opposite wall. He really didn’t want to see what she was doing. But eventually, the constant movements at the edge of his line of vision proved too much to resist, and he turned his head.
Maze was just stretching out a gloved hand to her work table reaching for… a large, bright green plant mister? Lucifer’s eyebrows shot up at the highly incongruous sight. Oblivious to his astonishment, his demon aimed the mister at some feathers she was in the process of cleaning and squeezed.
Instead of the cloud of fine mist Lucifer had been expecting, a thin jet of water shot out of the nozzle, rinsing away the dirt. Ah. Lucifer relaxed as the purpose of the unusual piece of equipment was revealed. He had to applaud Maze’s ingenuity. It would never have occurred to him that a plant mister could be useful in these circumstances.
Once they were clean, Maze inspected the feathers for damage, carefully disentangling them and smoothing out the barbs. One of them was broken, the shaft splintered and frayed. The skin around its base was bright pink with inflammation.
Maze picked a pair of tweezers from her work table, and before Lucifer could flinch she grasped the broken feather with them and pulled it out with one firm tug. Then she dropped it into an open trash bag hanging from the side of the table. She carefully wiped the small wound with a piece of gauze, pressing down on it, squeezing out some unpleasant fluids Lucifer didn’t want to think about. The gauze also ended up in the trash bag.
It didn’t hurt, the painkillers were doing their job. His wings were completely numb, making it somewhat difficult to control them, since Lucifer couldn’t feel them move. So far, he had managed to position them to Maze’s satisfaction and to keep them still, except for the occasional involuntary twitch.
Some instinct seemed to tell his demon that he was staring at her, because she suddenly turned to him and raised an inquiring eyebrow. It compelled Lucifer to break the silence.
“This is almost nice, isn’t it?”
Maze gave him a look that clearly expressed her doubts about his sanity. Lucifer shrugged and smiled deprecatingly.
“Reminds me of the old days.”
An arched eyebrow added emphasis to Maze’s speaking look.
“In a good way, I mean,” Lucifer clarified hastily. “You know, you, me, naked fun with my wings?”
“I wouldn’t call this fun.” She waved a hand at his tattered wings, her nose wrinkling in disapproval.
“No, you’re right. That part most definitely isn’t fun.” He sighed. “But…”
Once again lacking the words to express what he was feeling, Lucifer gazed helplessly at his demon. She gave him a firm stare, but then her expression softened and she nodded in understanding.
For a second it looked as if she was going to say more, but then she turned back to his wings and resumed her work.
He continued watching her. It was somehow both fascinating and soothing. And it brought back memories. For millennia back in Hell, Maze grooming his wings had been a daily ritual, made necessary by Hell’s constant ash fall, heat, and generally noxious atmosphere. He hadn’t realized until now how much he had missed it. Or perhaps he had. Perhaps that was the real reason why he had been so reluctant to ask for her help.
Maze had always managed to turn having his wings groomed into a pleasure. And he wasn’t sure he could afford to remember just how much of a pleasure it had been. Not just physically, but also emotionally. The tenderness, the care she showed when handling them was breathtaking. Even now, Lucifer half wished he wasn’t dosed up with painkillers, just so he could feel it, feel her. There was an intimacy in this act that even the best sex could not quite match.
In the past, he had wondered if Maze felt it, too. And then, one night, when they were both more than a little drunk celebrating a big victory, and more than a little high from the adrenaline still coursing through their veins, he had asked, and she had confessed that she did indeed feel the same. And he had unfurled his wings, and wrapped them around her, and the night had become one of the most memorable nights in their long, long time together.
Perhaps they could do that again? He dwelled on that thought for several minutes, his mind busy painting him detailed pictures of the two of them entwined, lost in their mutual pleasure. Softer memories followed, less carnal, but just as intimate. Memories of lying stretched out on his bed while Maze petted him and played with his feathers. Of waking up in the morning, his demon still asleep beside him, all warm and cozy beneath his wing. Of playful, teasing touches exchanged throughout their days: him tickling her with a wingtip, Maze scratching him gently between the fine feathers at the roots of his wings.
And this was exactly why he hadn’t wanted to go to her and ask her help in caring for his wings again. He was not going to keep the cursed things. Sooner or later, he would find a way of getting rid of them, of defying his father and his eternal manipulations. But Maze and the pleasures she could evoke could easily make him falter. If he got used to her care once more, he might not be willing to lose it again. Worse, if he allowed her to get used to it again, him getting rid of the wings would hurt her. And he still remembered how much it had hurt her the last time.
Maze herself clearly knew it as well. But despite this, here she was once again caring for his wings. Caring for him. He hadn’t had to ask her for it. She had volunteered, without any prompting from him. In fact, she had basically ordered him to let her do this. No, not to let her. There was no letting, no graciously allowing her something, involved here. She had decided to do it, whether he liked it or not. Once again, Maze had chosen to act for his own good. This time, though, he was extremely grateful for it. He really needed to find a way to show his gratitude and repay her.
By now, his demon had worked her way along the right wing until she was right next to him, and the only bit left was the part of the base which lay right against his back. Maze nudged his shoulder gently, motioning for him to turn sideways so she could finish this wing and start on the other one.
Lucifer gave her a soft smile, and reached up to brush back a strand of hair that had fallen into her face.
“Thank you for doing this for me, Maze.”
She twitched a shoulder in a halfhearted shrug, and there was a hint of an answering smile on her face. Then she nudged him again, less gently, and Lucifer decided to take the hint and change his position so she could continue to work.
He could no longer see her as she cleaned and straightened his feathers, but he could feel her. Maze was well within his personal space now, crouching there next to him, occasionally brushing against his arm and back. Even when she wasn’t touching him directly, he could sense the heat radiating from her, even in the warm, humid atmosphere of this room.
When she finished her work on his right wing and straightened up, he reached out and touched her arm, stopping her from moving away. Maze shot him a questioning look, and Lucifer reacted by smiling at her and then taking her hand and kissing the spot just above her wrist where the glove ended.
That got him an arched eyebrow. With a grin, he kissed the same spot again and then pulled Maze closer, until he could wrap his arms around her waist and press his face against the soft skin of her stomach.
His demon allowed the contact for a few moments. Then she wound her fingers through his hair, grasped his head, and pulled him back. “No. Work now, play later.”
“Promise?” Lucifer looked up at her searchingly, getting another raised eyebrow in response. “Promise we will play later?”
When Maze remained silent, he continued, “I miss us playing together.”
“You have an interesting way of showing that.” Her expression closed off and she pulled away, distancing herself both physically and emotionally.
She showed no reaction to his pleading tone, pulling out of his embrace entirely and going over to her work table.
“I’m sorry.” That made her freeze, though she did not turn around again. Still, Lucifer decided to take it as a hopeful sign, and continued, “When you moved out, I guess I just didn’t want to admit how much I missed you. And there was the whole mum thing to distract myself and keep me busy. And then, well…”
There had been the fact that he had kept his plans regarding the mum thing secret from Maze, and the pain he had caused her by doing so. But now definitely was not the time to remind her of that.
“And you seemed to be happy living with the Detective.”
Maze shook her head. “And I guess it never occurred to you that maybe I missed you, too? Or that maybe, just maybe, you should bother to show me that you missed me? But instead, you were far too busy playing detective to care.”
Lucifer looked up hopefully. “You missed me, too?”
Her only response was a frustrated growl.
His demon whirled around and shot him a death glare that made any further words freeze on his tongue. She dragged her work table over to him, crouched down, and gave his left shoulder a shove that was just short of bruising. With a grimace, Lucifer turned so she could start working on the underside of his left wing.
A tense silence spread between them as Maze cleaned skin and feathers. Lucifer stared unseeingly at the tiled floor while he ran over their conversation in his mind. He silently cursed himself. Once again, he had failed to listen to his demon, to pay proper attention to her. And once again, he had hurt her.
As soon as Maze had worked her way far enough along his wing for him to do it, Lucifer turned to look at her. Suppressed anger and hurt were radiating off her like heat. He couldn’t leave it that way. He had to do something, anything, to ease her pain and repair the damage he had done. He just hoped that this time he wouldn’t end up making matters worse.
“You are right.”
Maze stopped in her work, and her eyes briefly flickered towards him before she resolutely stared ahead of her.
Lucifer went on hastily, well aware that his next words would be absolutely crucial. “It never did occur to me that I was the one who needed to act, that it was up to me to make the first step.” He paused, steeling himself for the admission he knew he had to make. “I have been a bad friend to you, Mazikeen. You deserve better. You deserve someone better than me.”
Lucifer saw the corners of Maze’s mouth twitch, but the tension in her remained. It would take more, much more than an admission of his wrong-doings for her to forgive and forget.
“And I know that I have no right to ask this of you, but please, Maze, please give me a chance to make it up to you. I give you my word, I’ll swear any oath you want, that from now on, I will treat you better.”
His demon did not reply, but she did turn her head slightly towards him.
“From now on, I promise I will take the time to listen to you, and to be considerate of your feelings. And we’ll spend time together, just the two of us, like we used to do. And if I ever forget to be there for you when you need me, I want you to remind me of my promise. Forcefully, if necessary.”
He smiled deprecatingly at the last bit, and was completely unprepared when Maze suddenly straightened and turned to him in one fluid movement, her whole demeanor cold enough to freeze Hell.
Lucifer stared up at her, devastated. Maze just glared back at him, and went on, “that’s not how this is going to work. I will not remind you of the promises you choose to make. You have one last chance, Lucifer, and believe me, that’s very much against my better judgment. The next time you brush me aside because you’re too busy with your latest obsession to care, we really will be through. I am done just accepting your shit.”
He stared at her in absolute silence for a few endless moments before nodding in agreement.
“You are right. Keeping my promises is my responsibility, and I shouldn’t need any reminders.” He smiled ruefully when Maze gave a sharp nod. “And I do promise that I will treat you better from now on, the way you have always deserved to be treated.” His voice became urgent, some of the desperation he felt bleeding through. “I can’t lose you, Maze. Not you. Not after everything we’ve been through together. And I want things to be better between us again.”
His demon remained firm. “All that is up to you. You know what you have to do to make it happen.” Once more, she stared hard at him. “I don’t want your promises, Lucifer. Save the pretty words for the humans. I’m a demon. We prefer actions.”
With that, she broke eye contact and turned to study his left wing critically. “Now let me get back to cleaning up the mess you’ve made of your wings, before you manage to really piss me off.”
As she knelt down to resume her ministrations, he risked reaching out and squeezing her shoulder gently. “Thank you again, Mazikeen. Thank you for being the best friend I could ever have.”
That got him another sharp, jerky nod.
Lucifer leaned back against the wall and watched her as she worked with great skill and care on his wing. ‘We prefer actions.’ It was true, of course. Demons generally put little value in words, having learned long ago how many promises remained empty, how easy it was to deceive, to lie, to go back on one’s words. But, as so often in their relationship, there was more to Maze’s statement than that.
Throughout their millennia together, his demon’s actions had always spoken in a loud, clear language of their own. Somehow, he had forgotten how to listen to them.
Letting his mind wander over the recent months and years, so many things that had seemed inexplicable, irrational, suddenly became understandable in the light of this realization. He really had a lot to make up for.
He knew Maze was not going to make this easy for him. Not this time. And a part of him was glad about that. The Devil was not one to back down from a challenge. It brought out his competitive side. And that may be exactly the motivation he needed to succeed here, to keep himself from being distracted by other things.
And speaking of distractions - his lips curved just barely into a smirk - planning his next steps to win back his demon was the perfect way to keep him from paying too much attention to what she was doing to his wing. He knew her ministrations were necessary, but that didn’t make them any less unpleasant. Once again, Lucifer mentally thanked the painkillers for being so wonderfully effective, and Maze for providing them.
He was drawn out of his thoughts some time later when Maze stood up and sighed deeply, pulling off the rubber gloves and throwing them into the trash bag.
“Finished. Time to rinse you off.”
Lucifer started to push himself to his feet, but she stopped him. “No. Let me get the showers going first.”
He sank back onto the bench and watched as she went over to the opposite wall and turned on several of the showers there, carefully adjusting the temperature for each one. When this was achieved to her satisfaction, Maze abruptly left the room. He didn’t have to wonder what she was up to for long. She returned after only a few moments, carrying a coiled up hose which terminated in a hand-held shower head.
Maze walked the length of the room until she reached a faucet in the wall opposite the doorway. There, she attached the free end of the hose, and quickly turned on the water. After a few seconds, it started pouring out of the shower head at the other end, sputtering a bit first, then flowing steadily. As with the other showers, Maze carefully adjusted the temperature until it was to her liking. Then she uncoiled the hose and draped it over the knob of one of the running showers.
Finally, she came over and motioned for Lucifer to get up. He followed her unspoken command, and promptly swayed on his feet as his numb wings developed a life of their own and tried to make him lose his balance.
His demon reacted instantly, stepping forward and steadying him with a firm grip on his arms.
“Too much oxy?” She looked up at him, concern written across her features.
He shook his head. “No. I just can’t feel my wings. Makes it more difficult than I would have thought to control them.”
“But you can still manage?”
“Yes, Maze,” Lucifer gave her a reassuring smile, “I just have to concentrate on it, and I may not be as graceful as I should be.”
That made her smirk, but somewhat to his surprise, she refrained from making any comments. Instead, Maze kept hold of his arms and carefully guided him across the room and under the running showers.
The water was wonderfully, deliciously warm, exactly the temperature he liked. For a second, Lucifer wished he could actually feel it on his wings, and not just on his body. Then he remembered the current state of his feathered appendages, and was once again profoundly grateful for the effectiveness of the painkillers. Hot, soapy water on raw, inflamed skin and open wounds would be exceedingly unpleasant without the blissful numbness that currently stopped all but the most intense sensations.
Maze guided him to brace himself against the wall, and once she was sure he was standing securely, went to work washing the soapy cleaning solution out of his feathers. Lucifer concentrated hard for a moment, extending his wings to their full size, then letting them droop, but not actually drag on the floor. As a finishing touch, he tensed the fine muscles beneath the skin, making the feathers stand up. That earned him a brief smile and a thank you from his demon.
The combination of the showers running at full tilt, the expert deployment of additional water from the handheld shower, and Maze’s skillful touches, soon had his wings rinsed off completely. But his demon didn’t stop there.
From a mesh bag Lucifer hadn’t even noticed hanging from the center shower, Maze removed a bottle of his usual shampoo. She moved around him, and he automatically took a step back so he was out of the spray, and then tilted his head up.
A soft moan of pleasure escaped him as Maze began washing his hair, gently massaging his scalp in the process. She chuckled, and he could feel it as well as hear it. She was standing so close that her body was brushing against him, the tantalizing slide of soft skin against skin making him lean back slightly, seeking out more.
Maze allowed the contact, pressing herself more firmly against his back while she worked. Her skillful fingers continued massaging his head, working down to the back of his neck, loosening the tense muscles there. After several blissful minutes, she finished her ministrations by running her hand over his hair several times, slicking it back and squeezing out excess suds.
Lucifer folded his wings when Maze stepped away from him, making it easier for her to walk around him. She quickly appeared in front of him, shampoo bottle in hand. He stopped her before she could return it to the mesh bag.
“May I?” He reached for the bottle and nodded towards Maze’s head and her wet hair.
His demon hesitated for a moment, then inclined her head and handed the bottle to him. Lucifer squeezed a generous amount of shampoo into his hand before passing the bottle back to her and stepping back far enough to give her room to get out of the spray of the still running showers. Maze put the bottle into the bag, and then stood in front of him with her back towards him and her head tilted back.
Lucifer quickly spread the shampoo over her hair and began working it in, his fingertips pressing down gently but firmly, rubbing in little circles. Maze hummed in pleasure, and he smiled widely. Oh, he had missed this. Being close to her, touching her, giving her pleasure. And not necessarily sexual pleasure, though there was almost always an undercurrent of that with the two of them.
He continued working for several minutes, massaging Maze’s head like she had massaged his. Returning the favor, though neither of them would ever call it that. There were no official favors between them, no price to be paid for caring and affection.
No. Maze may never have asked for anything in return for caring for him, and perhaps didn’t even expect anything, but that did not mean that he shouldn’t repay her. A friendship, a partnership, needed balance. He had allowed himself to forget that, and so built up an imbalance that almost destroyed their relationship. When it came to caring and attention, he had accumulated an enormous debt to his demon. But he would change that.
With a few gentle strokes of his hands, Lucifer smoothed out Maze’s soapy hair, and then ran his hands from the back of her neck to her shoulders. When she didn’t pull away or tense up, he slowly, tentatively, wrapped his arms around her, moving forward one small step until his chest was just brushing against her back.
It almost came as a surprise to him when Maze leaned back without any hesitation, and practically melted into his embrace. Without a thought, Lucifer brought his wings forward and wrapped them around her. His demon made a small sound, halfway between a hum and a sigh, and relaxed further. She reached out and began playing idly with his feathers, stroking them gently. The numbness in his wings was fading, now that whatever painkiller Maze had added to her soap had been washed away, and he could feel her caresses. The oxy still worked, though, so there was no pain, only the pleasure of his demon’s touch.
Lucifer’s hands were not still, either. At some point, he had begun stroking Maze’s skin, his fingertips skimming lightly over the smooth, silky expanse of her flat stomach. They never strayed too far below her waist, though. This was about comfort and closeness, not passion and lust.
His body reacted nevertheless. But that had always been the case when he and his demon had bathed or showered together. In all the millennia they had been doing this, there had only been a handful of occasions when Lucifer had been too injured or exhausted - physically, mentally, or emotionally - to react to Maze’s presence.
They remained standing there for a while, his demon wrapped in his arms and wings, sharing small caresses. Slowly, Lucifer tilted his head and rested his cheek against Maze’s head. Neither of them said a word. The only sound in the room was the steady hissing and splattering of the running showers, filling the air with a warm mist.
He didn’t know how long they had been like that when Maze gave a deep sigh and stood up straight, pulling away from him just enough to turn in his embrace and look up at him. She reached up and cupped his cheek in her hand, her fingers brushing away traces of shampoo. Her gaze was softer, more tender, than he had seen in a long time.
Lucifer leaned forward automatically, lowering his head until his lips almost touched hers. Then he stopped himself, suddenly unsure. Would Maze welcome his advances? He didn’t have time to wonder. His demon’s fingers wound into his hair and pulled him the last fraction of an inch, and then she was kissing him.
The tenderness of the kiss took his breath away. Nobody had ever kissed him like this. Not the good Doctor Martin, not one of his other human lovers, and certainly no member of his own family. Not even the Detective, that one time at the beach. Her kiss had been gentle, too, but not like this.
Mazikeen seemed to be pouring everything into this kiss. All her tenderness - so incredibly rare and surprising in a demon -, all her caring. ‘I am a demon. We prefer actions.’ Once again, she was speaking through her actions, and this time, he was listening, and understanding.
Love. That was what she was telling him, what she was giving him. The revelation was staggering. Maze loved him, and in another staggering epiphany Lucifer realized that she had done so for a very long time. And he had been too blind to see it. Or rather no, he had seen it, but he had chosen not to understand, to ascribe her actions to various other, lesser motives. She was right. He was an idiot.
But no more. Here and now, he had finally seen and understood the truth. Mazikeen loved him. A profound warmth flooded him at this thought. He was loved. His demon knew all of him, had seen him at his worst, and still loved him. Wonder filled him at her capacity to do this, even after how he had been treating her.
And with that thought he froze, horror struck, at how close he had come to losing her, to losing this love without even knowing it.
Maze noticed his sudden reaction, of course. She made a small sound of inquiry and pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss. Instinctively, Lucifer reached for her, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing her deeply, desperately.
His demon understood. She might not know the reason, but she understood the panic and the desperation. She returned his kiss with equal ferocity.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the panic receded and Lucifer became aware that he was crushing her in his grip. He loosened his hold, and Maze immediately pulled back slightly and gulped in air, breaking their kiss. Before Lucifer could apologize though, her lips were once again pressed to his, and she was kissing him passionately again, telling him without words that it was okay, he hadn’t hurt her. Gradually, their kiss slowed down, the passion and frantic energy subsiding, until it was once more a tender, gentle meeting of lips.
When Maze finally pulled back and rested her forehead against his collarbone, the sense of warmth, of closeness, remained. Lucifer could not remember when he had last felt so connected with his demon. He treasured the sensation, and swore to himself that he would do whatever it took to keep it.
After a few more moments, Maze finally turned away, breaking their embrace.
“Time to rinse off?” He forced a smile onto his face and tried to keep his voice light, but failed miserably.
Maze half turned her head and flashed him a smile with more than a hint of mischief in it. “Not quite yet.”
She reached once more into the bag, and produced another bottle. The moment she opened it, Lucifer’s smile widened. This time, the scent of her soap was entirely familiar, without any strange new notes. She poured a generous amount into her hand and then waved the bottle at him, raising a questioning eyebrow. He nodded eagerly, holding out his hands. His demon gave him an equally generous amount of soap before returning the bottle to the bag.
Lucifer quickly spread the slippery liquid over both hands, and then took the opportunity to soap up Maze’s shoulders and the back of her neck. She stood still, allowing him to massage tense muscles as he slowly worked his way down across her shoulder blades and along her spine to her waist. The she turned and with soapy hands began washing his shoulders and chest in return.
It was an old, familiar ritual. Washing each other, touching, stroking, caressing, exploring terrain that had become intimately familiar over the millennia. It was almost a dance. Bodies moving in response to each other, raising and lowering arms, bending, twisting and turning, exposing vulnerable spots without any fear or hesitation. Making eye contact occasionally, sharing knowing smiles and teasing touches.
They were both content to keep things simply playful, scraping blunt fingernails over sensitive skin, brushing fingertips lightly over ticklish spots, making each other laugh, rather than driving each other wild. It would probably surprise their friends and acquaintances how often Maze and Lucifer had done this: been together, naked, touching, without any sex involved. Not that there hadn’t been plenty of times when such activities ended in sex - or began with sex - and hopefully there would be many more such times in the future.
Once they had cleaned each other thoroughly, Maze took Lucifer’s hands and pulled him into the warm spray of the showers to rinse off. Again they helped each other, running fingers through hair, using the handheld shower to rinse hard to reach places.
Finally they were both done, and Maze turned off the showers. Then she leaned casually against the wall and gave him an expectant look. When Lucifer merely raised an eyebrow in inquiry, she rolled her eyes.
“Aren’t you going to shake out your wings?”
Realization dawned, bringing a rueful smile to his lips. It had been a while, and he had forgotten this part of their bathing ritual. “Of course.”
Lucifer took a few steps backwards until he stood in the center of the room, and spread his wings wide. His smile morphed into a smirk when he saw Maze studying him with obvious appreciation. Right now, his wings might be somewhat tattered, but he knew he still looked impressive.
Their eyes met, and he gave her a wink as he began flapping his wings. Maze laughed as a veritable storm of water drops filled the room, hitting every surface, including the demon herself. She stepped forward, raised her arms, and started turning slowly, dancing in the Devil-made rain. Lucifer laughed at her antics. He waited until she got close enough, then playfully brushed her side with his left wing.
He was rewarded with a shriek of laughter from his demon and a quick swat to his wing, thankfully hitting him only lightly and nowhere near any of the numerous sore spots.
By the time the last droplets of water had been shaken from his wings, leaving the feathers only rather damp, the painkillers were most definitely wearing off. A dull throbbing was radiating from his feathered limbs, and Lucifer winced as he folded them and sore areas brushed against each other, causing spikes of sharper discomfort.
Maze noticed immediately, her happy smile wiped away by a look of concern. She went over to her work table and retrieved the pills and the water bottle, offering them to him without comment. Lucifer gratefully swallowed another handful of painkillers.
After replacing the bottles on the table, Maze waved a hand at him, signaling that he should wait here, and then darted around the corner of the stone shelf that hid the doorway. She was back almost immediately, carrying a stack of towels.
With a grin, Lucifer snatched the top one as Maze set the others down on her work table, and used it to dry his demon’s hair. She stood still, letting him rub the towel gently over her head and squeeze her hair, before wrapping it up into a makeshift turban.
Once he was done, Maze turned around, towel in hand, and with a smirk threw it over his head and returned the favor, rubbing vigorously. He laughed and enjoyed it, but he did not stand there idly. Reaching out carefully, finding the work table by touch alone, Lucifer picked up another towel. He wrapped his arms loosely around his demon’s torso, unfolded the towel behind her back, and brought it against her skin, pulling left and right in turns to make the fabric slide back and forth.
When Maze finished drying his hair and removed the towel from his head, she was grinning widely. Lucifer rolled his eyes at her with a put-upon sigh. He didn’t need a mirror to know that his curls were standing up crazily.
Maze responded with an eye roll of her own, then dropped the towel and reached up with her bare hands, carding her fingers through the tangled locks and smoothing them back. Lucifer smiled appreciatively.
“Thank you, my darling.” The old endearment slipped out automatically, and only when he heard himself say it did he realize that he had not used it in a long time. When had he stopped? Why had he stopped? He pushed the questions away to be examined at a later date and watched his demon, wondering if she would show any reaction to the return of the endearment. Did her eyebrow just twitch? If so, it was only the briefest of spasms.
“You should leave it curling naturally every now and then. It suits you.”
Lucifer made a noncommittal noise, and barely managed to suppress a grimace. It wasn’t the first time he had gotten that particular bit of unwanted advice. It wasn’t even the first time it came from his demon. Practically every female out there, and quite a large number of males, too, seemed to love the idea of him with curls gone wild. He never followed their advice, though. Samael the mop-head might be an indelible part of his past, but in the past he would remain.
Maze was looking at him with something close to an apology in her expression. There was understanding and sympathy in her eyes, and not for the first time, he wondered how much she knew or guessed. He had never told her about the reason why he preferred to keep his hair the way he did, but she seemed to have figured it out anyway. His clever, perceptive demon.
He gave the towel he was still holding a tug, pulling her forward until their bodies brushed against each other, breaking the moment before it became unbearably intense. Maze laughed and squirmed, rubbing against him in the most delightful way.
Lucifer tilted his head and nipped playfully at her earlobe, earning a low growl. She retaliated by licking a broad stripe along his collarbone, then probing the hollow at the base of his throat with her tongue, making him chuckle. In response, he rubbed circles with the towel on her back, moving down along her spine until he reached her buttocks.
Once his hands were low enough, Maze leaned back and took another towel from the stack, using it to begin drying Lucifer’s torso, shoulders, and upper arms.
Like the soaping up and rinsing off earlier, drying each other was something they had done countless times before. Another one of their shared rituals, their private little dances to the rhythm of their bodies moving in perfect harmony.
They continued running towels over each other’s skin, touching and being touched, teasing and being teased, until they were both dry. One last pair of fresh towels was wrapped carefully around Maze’s torso and Lucifer’s waist, and then they simply stood there in companionable silence for a moment, studying each other.
Lucifer stood up a bit straighter and was just about to tuck away his wings when his demon stopped him.
He raised a questioning eyebrow. “Keeping them out will make getting dressed a bit difficult, Maze.”
“We aren’t getting dressed yet.” When he merely looked askance, she sighed and continued, “Your wings need to dry completely, and then I’ve got some ointment for all the spots where your skin is raw, inflamed, or I had to cut it open.”
Lucifer spread out his wings and flapped them experimentally. The feathers were still rather damp. “It’s going to take some time for them to dry out. I think I’ll just go home, let them dry there, and call you then?”
“Oh no, you don’t.” Maze glared at him, then smirked. “Don’t worry, I think I’ve found a way to get them dry faster.”
“You’re not going to attack me with a blow dryer, are you?” He asked suspiciously, remembering previous attempts to dry his wings with some trepidation. Blow-drying them may work, but it was not something he enjoyed. And with the current state of his wings, it would be even more unpleasant.
“No, I’m not. I do remember your bitching and moaning the last time we did that.” She gave an irritated sigh when he drew himself up to protest. “Just come on and follow me, I’ll show you what I’ve got in mind.”
Maze didn’t give him time to reflect or refuse, grabbing his hand and dragging him out of the shower room. Lucifer barely managed to fold his wings in time to avoid hitting the walls as they passed through the doorway and back along the short corridor until they reached the pool. Maze moved along it until they stood in front of a sort of large alcove, a full-sized room really, the floor of which was about two feet higher than the pool area and covered with wall to wall carpet instead of smooth tiles. A few steps led up to it, running the full length of the edge between the two rooms.
On that raised floor, a number of large towels had been spread out in a sort of T shape with a disproportionately large crossbar. A folded towel lay at the top middle of that shape, and Lucifer suspected it was supposed to serve as a pillow. Another large towel had been spread out a short distance away from the first arrangement, also with a second, folded towel lying at one end.
Lucifer studied the whole arrangement for a second, and then let his eyes wander around the rest of the room. The walls were once again decorated with very life-like - if perhaps somewhat idealized - frescoes of humans engaging in all sorts of sexual activities. His gaze lingered on the figures for a few moments, until he felt Maze shifting impatiently beside him. He shot her a quick glance, and found her staring at him expectantly.
“So, I guess I’m supposed to lie down there?” He gestured at the T-shaped towel arrangement. “How is that going to help my wings dry faster?”
Maze rolled her eyes, stepped over to one wall of the room where a bank of switches was located, and flipped several of them on. With a low humming noise, the whole ceiling started to glow, the light rapidly growing in intensity until it reached an eye-searing blaze. It wasn’t just light, though. The lamps also radiated heat like a furnace. Lucifer was reminded of waking up in the desert, disorientated, dehydrated, and with his wings back. He shuddered.
“Are you alright?”
Of course his demon had noticed the reaction. He shook off the memories and hastened to reassure her. “I’m fine, Maze.”
“You didn’t look fine just now.”
Her concern for him was heartwarming, but right now he would have preferred her to just ignore it. “Just memories.”
He turned back to the room, and really, the only resemblance it had to the desert was the heat and the intensity of the light. There was no dust here, no sand or flies, and the air tasted completely different.
“Okay, you’re right, the heat should make my wings dry more quickly.”
“Yes. And this will help, too.”
With those words, Maze flipped a few more switches, and with a low humming noise a gentle breeze began to blow through the room, dissipating some of the heat. Shielding his eyes against the glare, Lucifer studied the walls and ceiling and noticed a series of ventilation grilles running around the upper edge of the walls like some sort of molding.
“Very nice. That friend of yours certainly has spared no expense in equipping this place, has he?”
“Maxim likes his comforts.”
“You know, I think I’d like to rent this lovely establishment some time in the future, and have a little party here. Do you think he would be amenable to an offer?”
Maze shrugged. “I’m sure he’ll agree, if I ask him.”
“Excellent.” Lucifer beamed at her.
“Party plans later. Now get your ass up there and make yourself comfortable.” She gave him a playful slap on said ass as encouragement.
With a grin, Lucifer took the steps up into the room, swiveling his hips exaggeratedly. As he reached the carpeted floor, he unfastened the towel around his waist and whipped it off with a flourish while pirouetting once, wings half-flared, giving Maze a little show. Her delighted laughter filled the air, making him grin even wider.
He strutted to the towels and knelt down, then lowered himself onto hands and knees, giving her a - if he might say so - spectacular view of his ass, wriggling it and jerking his hips a few times. Maze continued to laugh freely at his antics, pausing only to give an impressive wolf whistle. For a few moments, Lucifer was tempted to keep it up, see if he could entice her to engage in some more exciting activities.
A small twinge from his wings reminded him that they were here for a reason, and he slowly lowered himself to the towel-covered floor, stretching out full length on his stomach. The folded towel made a very comfortable pillow. He stretched his wings out and carefully let them come to rest on the ground. A contented sigh escaped him as he relaxed. He craned his neck to look over his shoulder at his demon.
“This is nice. All that’s missing is some music, drinks, maybe some snacks, fruit or such.”
“And some pretty, nubile women to serve it to you and generally see to your wishes?”
There was an amused smile on Maze’s face, but Lucifer thought he detected an edge in her tone. He grinned and shrugged. “Or men, or both. That would make for a fun little party, don’t you think? A bit like the one we had in that lovely villa in Herculaneum, back in AD 23.”
He paused for a moment, carefully judging her reaction. His demon tilted her head thoughtfully, apparently contemplating the idea, perhaps recalling that long-ago orgy. He could see the spark of interest in her eyes. Good. She had chosen not to take his words the wrong way, then.
“For now, though, I think I prefer just to have your company, my darling.” He gestured towards the other towel spread out nearby. “Will you join me?”
Maze’s smile morphed into a smirk. “In a moment.”
With that, she disappeared around a corner, leaving Lucifer to wonder what she was up to now. The mystery was cleared up when soft instrumental music began to fill the air. A few seconds later, Maze returned, carrying a loaded tray. She stepped up into the solarium room, carefully walked around his outstretched wings, and set her burden down halfway between his head and the towel she had clearly prepared for herself.
Lucifer propped himself up on his elbows and studied the contents of the tray with surprise and delight. There was an ice bucket with a large bottle of champagne, two glasses, and a large plate of fruits. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kumquats, seedless blue grapes, a pear, an apple, two white peaches, a few apricots, even a small mango.
He glanced up at Maze just in time to watch her unfasten the towel around her torso and fling it away. Then she reached up, unwrapped the makeshift turban, and shook out her damp hair.
“Perfect. Absolutely perfect.” He paused for a moment until she made eye contact, then grinned and winked at her, “And the champagne and fruits are very nice, too.”
Maze laughed lightly, and in one graceful movement sat down on her towel. “Thought you might feel a bit peckish after...” she waved a hand vaguely at his wings. “Want a drink?”
She quickly uncorked the bottle and filled the two glasses, then handed one to him and took the other one for herself. With a smile, Lucifer raised his champagne, toasting his demon. “To you, my darling Maze. Thank you once again for taking such great care of me.”
His demon accepted the thanks with a nod, raising her own glass and touching it lightly against his. “Try not to be such an idiot next time, okay?”
Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Yes, Maze.”
He quickly took a long sip of champagne, before he could say anything else that would spoil the mood. His demon followed his example, and then stretched out on her towel, her head towards him, propping herself up on her elbows so she could continue to drink and eat. She reached out and snatched up one of the strawberries, biting into it with obvious relish. With a smile, Lucifer followed her example.
The fruit was perfect, sweet, ripe, exquisitely fragrant. He devoured it with pleasure, and quickly ate another one before pausing to contemplate his next choice. The peaches looked very tempting, but he was wary; biting into a ripe peach invariably made a sticky mess of things. And while sticky messes could be a lot of fun, especially when his demon was involved, right here and now might not be a good time and place for one.
It appeared that Maze had been thinking along the same lines, because before Lucifer could decide either way, she picked up one of the peaches, along with a knife he hadn’t noticed lying on the tray. With quick, practiced movements, she cut a thin section out of the fruit and offered it to him.
“Thank you, Maze.”
He took the slice from her and put it in his mouth, moaning deliberately, provocatively at the delicious taste. His demon smirked and quickly cut a slice for herself, echoing his moan as she ate it. Then she cut off another section of the peach and handed it to him. They continued in this fashion until the whole fruit was gone.
Lucifer felt his body stir as he watched Maze clean the knife with her tongue. Damn that demon, she was doing it on purpose. She knew exactly what effect the sight of her licking that wickedly sharp blade would have on him. Seeing the corners of her mouth curve up in a smirk confirmed his suspicions. Well, two could play that game.
With a deep groan, Lucifer raised his wings, stretching them straight up, flapping them a few times, folding them close to his back and extending them again, before finally stretching them out to the sides and letting them rest on the towels once again. He noted with satisfaction that Maze had stopped licking the knife, her eyes riveted on his feathered limbs, watching every movement with rapt attention.
When he lowered his wings again, Maze’s gaze met his. Lucifer didn’t know what she read in his expression, but it made her scoff and shake her head. He quickly picked up a strawberry and held it out to her, smiling invitingly.
His demon hesitated for a second, then she leaned forward and took the fruit from him, her tongue flicking his fingertips. As she chewed, she plucked one of the grapes and offered it to him. Lucifer stretched forward and wrapped his lips around the fruit and Maze’s fingertips, sucking the sweet morsel out of her grasp. They continued feeding each other fruit and teasingly licking, nipping, and sucking each other’s fingers, until they were both laughing too hard to continue.
Once they had recovered sufficiently, Lucifer ran a probing hand over his wings. The upper sides were dry, but the undersides were still damp. He considered his options for a moment, then folded his wings and pushed himself up into a sitting position. Turning around, he spread the wings out again and then carefully lowered himself to lie on his back. And promptly yelled in pain, scrambling desperately to get up again.
In a flash, Maze was standing in front of him, reaching down and pulling him up until he was kneeling. She growled at him. “Stay still you idiot.”
With these tender words, the demon moved behind him and carefully inspected his wings. After about a minute, she seemed satisfied that he had not done any serious damage to her work.
“What were you trying to do, anyway?”
Lucifer sighed in frustration. “What did it look like, Maze?”
“It looked like you making an ass out of yourself,” his demon replied promptly, unperturbed by his rising irritation.
He scowled at her, anger making his words as sharp as demon blades. “I was trying to turn around so that the undersides of my wings could dry, too.”
“Well, that clearly didn’t work. You can’t lie on your back like that for at least a day, maybe more. Those ingrown pin feathers really did a number on your flesh. That needs a while to heal.”
“Yes. I know that now,” Lucifer bit out through clenched teeth.
Maze didn’t make any further comment. She tilted her head, studying him and his wings thoughtfully. “I think it could work if you were lying on your side, wings out back. Let one underside dry, then the other.”
He considered the suggestion, then nodded grudgingly. Turning around again, he carefully lowered himself back onto his stomach, and then turned onto his left side and stretched his wings out behind him. Slowly, hesitantly, he let the left wing rest on the towel-covered ground, and then allowed the right one to droop until it was lying fully on top of the left one.
A sigh escaped him when there was no pain or discomfort. Well, none originating from his wings, anyway. The folded towel had been a decent pillow when he was lying on his stomach, but now that he was lying on his side, it was insufficient to let his head rest at a comfortable angle. Lucifer tried to fold it differently, or prop it up with his left arm, but his attempts were unsuccessful.
He paused in his struggles and looked up at his demon. Maze made a gesture indicating that he should prop himself up a bit, then shoved aside the tray with the remains of their fruit plate and drinks. She kicked Lucifer’s makeshift pillow out of the way, grabbed her own towel, and spread it out across the head end of his.
Before he could ask what the hell she was doing, Maze lay down on her back, her flat stomach now in the perfect position to serve as a head-rest. Lucifer stared for a second, then lay down. He sighed contentedly at the feeling of his demon’s smooth, warm skin against the left side of his face.
Letting his gaze wander up along her midriff and through the valley between her breasts, he found her looking down at him with a smug smirk. “Comfy?”
“Absolutely.” He grinned up at her, then turned his head briefly to press a quick kiss to her skin. “You make an ideal head-rest, my darling Maze.”
“I know. You’ve told me so before, more than once. Now shhhh, I want to take a nap.”
And with that she crossed her arms behind her head, closed her eyes, and relaxed.
The temptation to continue talking, or do something else to keep her awake, was there, but Lucifer resisted. Annoying his demon now would be a spectacularly stupid move. He let his mind wander aimlessly. Once they were done here, he should invite Maze to dine with him somewhere. If memory served, there was a nice Chinese restaurant only a few blocks away which they had gone to several times in the past. They had a lovely selection of Dim Sum on the menu, including his demon’s favorite chili chicken bites. Yes, that should do nicely.
Slowly, Lucifer’s eyes drifted shut and then combined rhythms of Maze’s breathing and heartbeat lulled him into a light slumber.
He didn’t know how long he had been dozing before he became aware of his surroundings again. A quick inspection of his right wing showed that it was now completely dry. Time to turn around and let the left one get to the same state.
Lucifer glanced up at Maze’s face, and found that she was apparently still asleep. He would have to be careful not to wake her.
This proved futile. The moment he lifted his head from her stomach, her eyes snapped open and her gaze settled on him.
“Time to turn around?”
When he nodded, she pushed herself up and quickly moved until she was lying with her head where her legs had been moments earlier. Lucifer carefully repositioned himself on his right side, his head once again lying comfortably on her stomach.
Maze immediately closed her eyes again and seemed to go back to sleep, but there was just the tiniest curving to the corners of her mouth that made him suspect she was not really drifting off immediately. For his own part, Lucifer found himself wide awake, and wishing for a distraction.
Smirking, he began tracing abstract patterns on his demon’s beautiful bronze skin, his fingertips wandering idly along her flank until they reached the soft swell of her left breast. He traced the curve along its underside with gently undulating motions, drawing waves punctuated by swirls and spirals. Then he walked his fingers down along her ribs, until he reached that one ticklish spot and Maze swatted his hand away none too gently, raising her head and opening her eyes to glare at him.
Lucifer pouted, giving her his best puppy eyes. They only made her glare harder.
“No tickling. Unless you want to get kicked in the head.” With this dire warning, Maze lay down and closed her eyes again.
Grinning to himself, he resumed dragging his fingertips across her skin until a low, rumbling growl and a tensing of the muscles beneath his cheek told him his demon was about to act on her threat.
“Oh come on, Maze! I’m bored!” Lucifer knew he was whining, but he didn’t care. Forced inaction was not something he handled well, and never had been.
“I don’t care. Go get your phone if you’re that bored, there should be lots of stuff on it that will distract you.”
The suggestion was good, but-
“Don’t want to get up. Comfy here.”
Maze scoffed. “You sound exactly like Decker’s offspring.”
She smirked at his wordless cry of protest, then frowned thoughtfully. “Actually no, that’s unfair. Trix hasn’t managed to sound quite this whiny in months.”
All his outrage got him was ringing laughter, and a completely unrepentant arched eyebrow. He glared at her with narrowed eyes, and for just a second considered exacting revenge with a tickle attack. Some vestige of a self-preservation instinct stopped him, reminding him of his demon’s warning. She would do it, too. No matter how much she cared about him - oh be honest, at least to yourself, she doesn’t just care about you, she loves you - that would not stop her from giving him a swift kicking if he was stupid enough to provoke her sufficiently.
So he remained still, restricting himself to a heated glare. The triumphant smirk on Maze’s face and the fractional lessening of tension in her stomach muscles told him it had been a wise choice. His demon knew him, and had expected a physical retaliation for her insulting comments. It irked him.
He huffed out a breath, and barely managed to stop himself from smirking when he felt her twitch as his warm breath flowed over her skin. Carefully keeping up a disgruntled expression, he huffed again. And once again the skin beneath his cheek twitched. Excellent.
Over the next few minutes, he released a series of deep breaths, huffs, sighs, and even a low whistle. Each time Maze twitched as the sudden stream of air hit her skin. To be honest, he was a bit surprised how long she tolerated his antics. Finally though, his demon once again growled in warning.
“Lucifer. Knock. It. Off.”
He gave her his best ‘sweet, innocent angel’ - ha! - expression. All it got him was a look which reminded him eerily of the Detective when she was dealing with her offspring. It made him shudder.
Maze only rolled her eyes. “I don’t care. Stop being an annoying pest. I swear, you’re worse than the nine year old human.”
“Hey! Take that back!” He raised his head and glared at her, offended by the comparison. Alright, he was prepared to admit that his recent actions might perhaps have been somewhat unwise, and impulsive, but nothing to warrant such an insult. He was merely being his playful, devilish self. And annoying Maze had always been a favorite game of his. He was the Devil, after all. He liked dangerous games.
“What, can’t handle the truth?”
“It’s not true.”
Maze simply arched an eyebrow. “Yes it is.”
His demon scoffed. “Now you sound like a stroppy toddler. Just shut up, lay back and think of whatever.”
Lucifer glared at her, but Maze had once again closed her eyes, in the apparent belief that this would end the matter. As if. The Devil was not going to be defeated that easily.
He lay back down again, but he didn’t remain still. Stretching his wings and flapping the left one slightly, he ‘accidentally’ brushed it against Maze’s legs. Next, he turned his head, rubbing his face against her as if seeking a more comfortable position, scratching her skin with his stubble. The corners of his mouth curved up in a smirk when he felt her twitch and tense beneath him.
Stilling his movements, he waited for several moments, until he felt her relax again. Then he yawned deeply and rather loudly. A few seconds after that, he stretched his body, pushing up against her side.
Suddenly, he received a hard shove against his head, and then found himself abruptly bereft of the nice warm body next to him. Propping himself up on his elbow and looking around, he saw that Maze had gotten up and was stalking away.
“Maze? Where are you going?” No response. “Maze!”
“Away from you!”
She had stopped at the top of the steps leading down to the pool area, and now turned back to him. Trepidation began to fill Lucifer when he saw her expression. His demon was very thoroughly pissed off.
“I know you’re bored. I know you hate having to sit around and wait for your wings to dry. I get it. But that does not give you the right to take your frustrations out on me, or to just use me to distract yourself. I do not exist for your personal entertainment, Lucifer!”
And with that she left him sitting there, speechless.
It took Lucifer a moment to recover from her outburst, and curse himself. He had seriously fucked up. Again. After his demon had so recently given him one final chance.
That thought galvanized him. Had he blown it? Had Maze left, giving him up as a lost cause, which he might very well be? Panic drove him to his feet. Please, oh please, let her be a better friend than he had any right to hope for, and give him one last final chance.
He hurried down the steps, looking around frantically for any trace of his demon. Relief crashed through him when he saw her sitting in a deck chair a little further along the pool, her torso wrapped in a fresh towel, her eyes closed, her face calm and serene. Lucifer paused, drinking in the sight of her. Beautiful. Truly magnificent.
Without thinking, he stepped closer, until he was standing in front of her, almost close enough to touch. And then he hesitated, gripped by uncertainty. He wanted, needed to apologize, to plead for forgiveness and yet another chance. But the whole reason why he needed to do so was that he had once again ignored Maze’s wishes and feelings by disturbing her slumber and annoying her with his antics. If he talked to her now, wasn’t he doing the same thing again?
Fortunately, his demon took the decision out of his hands. While he was still hesitating, torn between his need to undo the damage he had done, and his desire not to make things worse, she suddenly opened her eyes and glared at him.
Her gaze was as cold and haughty as a queen of Hell. Which she had been, in all but official title. Lucifer was distracted for a second by this thought. Yes, Maze had effectively been his queen. She still was. He had no intention of ever returning to Hell, but nevertheless, he could not imagine anyone but her by his side as he ruled his infernal kingdom. So why, in all their millennia together, had he never made it official? Was this yet another example of him not treating her right, not appreciating her and valuing her role in his life, not giving her the respect and recognition she deserved?
A sharp clearing of the throat pulled him out of his thoughts, back to the present situation, which now consisted of a thoroughly annoyed demon. Lucifer knew he had to act quickly.
“You are right.” He paused for a moment, then forged ahead. “I’m sorry. My behavior was unacceptable. I apologize.”
Maze continued to glare at him for a seemingly endless second, then she nodded curtly. She did not say anything, though, letting the tense, awkward silence stretch between them until Lucifer found himself fidgeting. His demon was still looking at him, her expression now cool, closed off, giving away nothing.
Should he leave her alone? Should he say something more, or do something? He had no idea what she wanted, and the thought of getting it wrong, of ruining everything, terrified him. He used to know her every thought and mood, but now he couldn’t read her at all. In the end, he decided to risk a question.
“Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”
She continued to stare coolly at him for a second, then very deliberately looked away from him before speaking. “I wouldn’t object to some more champagne. There’s another bottle in the fridge behind the bar.”
A jerk of her chin indicated a vague direction on the other side of the pool.
With a quick nod, Lucifer turned and headed there. He found a small but very well equipped bar in the corner of the room, on the side where they had come in. The bottle of champagne was exactly where Maze had said. But the fridge contained more than just drinks. There were some fruits in there, including one nice, ripe cantaloupe, which he knew his demon liked.
Casting a quick glance back at her, he saw that Maze had closed her eyes again, and seemingly gone to sleep. Lucifer didn’t know whether or not that was a good sign, but it did mean he could risk deviating from the task a little.
A knife, a spoon, a plate, and a small garbage container were quickly located, and with practiced movements he cut up and cleaned out the cantaloupe, until he had a plate full of bite-sized chunks. He also found two forks, a champagne bucket and some ice, two glasses, and a tray on which he placed everything and carried it back to his demon.
There was a small table standing conveniently close to the chair Maze had chosen. Lucifer set the tray down carefully, took the bottle of champagne out of the ice bucket, and uncorked it with skill born from long practice. The soft plop of the cork coming out made her open her eyes. He saw her eyebrows rise slightly as she noticed the plate full of cantaloupe pieces, and quickly looked down, concentrating on filling the two glasses. His demon remained silent, but he could feel her probing gaze resting on him.
Lucifer handed her one glass while taking the other. He carefully sat down on the foot end of another deck chair, wondering if Maze had chosen this particular spot deliberately. The only available seating here were deck chairs. They looked wonderfully comfortable, but with his wings out it was impossible for him to sit down and recline properly. He could of course tuck them away, but that would defeat the purpose of letting them dry. And it would most likely annoy Maze. Definitely not an option right now.
So he perched awkwardly on the edge of the chair as his demon silently toasted him with her glass, and then emptied it in one long pull. He took a quick sip from his own glass, then refilled hers when she held it out to him. After another mouthful of champagne, Maze nodded towards the fruit plate.
Her tone had lost its coldness. Lucifer smiled, beginning to feel cautiously hopeful. “I know you like cantaloupe. Thought you might fancy another snack.”
And with that, Maze set down her glass, took the plate and a fork, and began eating the fruit with obvious relish. Lucifer watched quietly, smiling at the small sounds of pleasure she was making every now and then.
Half the pieces of melon were gone when his demon paused. “You don’t want any?” Seeing him hesitate, she rolled her eyes. “You can have some. You don’t have to leave it all to me.”
Lucifer grinned. “I thought it better to let you have as much as you want, first. Safer. Didn’t want to risk the wrath of the demon again.”
As soon as the words left his mouth he bit his lip and averted his gaze, silently cursing himself. Here he was, once again saying exactly the wrong thing, making comments that were sure to piss her off again.
But Maze just laughed. “Well, well. Perhaps you’re not that much of an idiot after all.”
She stretched out a slender leg and nudged his knee with her foot, making him meet her gaze again. “So, do you want some?” When Lucifer hesitated once more, she held out the plate and added, “I wouldn’t offer if I wasn’t willing to share.”
“Thank you. In that case, I’ll have a bite or two.”
He picked up the second fork from the tray and quickly speared a large chunk of cantaloupe, smiling at Maze as he brought it to his mouth. She was smirking in amusement, watching him eat before taking another piece herself. They continued eating in silence, sharing glances and smiles along with the fruit.
Once the plate was empty, Maze set it aside and stretched with a contented sigh. Then she gave Lucifer an inquiring look. “How are your feathers?”
He ran a probing hand across the underside of his left wing and grimaced. “Still a bit damp.”
“They’d dry quicker if you got back under the sunlamps.”
Lucifer barely held back a wince. Was his demon trying to get rid of him? Apparently not, because she continued, “or if you at least spread them out and flapped them a bit.”
With a wry smile and a sidelong glance at her, he got to his feet, took a few steps away from the chairs, and turned to face her. He fought down the feeling of ridiculousness, gave his demon a sarcastic little bow that made her scoff and grin, and followed her advice.
There was more than enough room here so he didn’t have to worry about hitting anything with his wings, but he still went slowly, cautiously spreading them out to their full extent, and then moving them. Up and down, back and forth. Stirring the air until Maze was forced to tuck wayward strands of hair behind her ears. She was watching him closely, and Lucifer couldn’t help preening under her appreciative gaze.
He kept up the flapping for a while, until he was beginning to feel the exertion. Then he slowed and finally stopped the movements of his wings, letting them droop, but not folding them back. He moved towards the chairs, but did not sit down again, undecided about what to do now.
Once more, an awkward silence spread between him and his demon. And once more, he ended up breaking it with a question.
“Is there anything more I can do for you?”
When Maze started in surprise, Lucifer shrugged and smiled self-deprecatingly. “What you said earlier, about preferring actions to words. I understand. And I want to do that. To do things for you, because I value you.”
He watched as she shifted in her seat, tilting her head and looking at him in a way he found hard to read. The expression on her face hadn’t really changed, but somehow her demeanor was different. More open. Radiating warmth, hopefulness, perhaps even happiness. There had been a wary tension about her until now, but he only realized it as he saw it drain away.
“What kind of things did you have in mind?”
Her question made Lucifer shrug helplessly. “I don’t know. Whatever you want.”
“Mmmm. Dangerous, such an unconditional offer.”
There was a purr in her voice which he knew all too well. It was the sound of Hell’s best torturer spotting a weakness and getting ready to pounce. He swallowed hard. “Erm, Maze…”
His demon laughed. “Relax. I won’t take advantage of your momentary lapse of judgment. No matter how much fun it would be. We’re friends, after all.”
The edge in her voice was unmistakable. Lucifer hastened to reassure her.
“Yes, we are. And you are probably-” he checked himself, “- no, definitely a much better friend than I deserve. Thank you, Mazikeen.”
She nodded, giving him a smirk of acknowledgement.
Maze raised an eyebrow. “So?”
“Is there anything you want me to do for you right now? Something else to drink, some more fruits, or some other snack?”
“Nah, I’m good. Can’t think of anything I want right now.” Slowly, the remnants of her earlier smirk widened into a grin. “You could always flap your wings some more. Make a dance of it. Shake that sexy ass like you did earlier.”
She licked her lips, her gaze practically scorching his skin as she blatantly ogled his naked body.
“Maze!” Lucifer laughed incredulously. Did she really expect him to dance naked for her? Use his wings to give an angelic version of a fan dance, maybe? It was a ridiculous idea, completely undignified.
“What?” The smirk was back, eyebrows arched in challenge. “You said you wanted to do something for me. Something I’d enjoy. And something that’ll keep you busy until your wings are dry. And I like watching you dance and flap your wings. I enjoy seeing you shake your devilish booty. And other things.”
She stretched out one leg and ran her toes up the insides of his thighs. Lucifer jumped back a step before she could reach her goal, earning a pout from his demon. His eyes remained fixed on the deceptively dainty menace. He knew from painful experience just how strong Maze’s feet were - just like the rest of her. Those toes with their perfectly painted nails could do serious, serious damage to a poor devil. Especially in the area they had just been heading for.
The sight of his demon’s feet did give him an idea, though.
“I could give you a foot massage.”
Maze’s eyes narrowed as she considered his suggestion, weighing it against the fun offered by the alternative. Finally, she grinned and nodded. “Alright.”
She drew up her knees, leaving the foot end of her deck chair empty for him to sit down. Once he had done so, she placed her feet in his lap, wriggling them until he reached out and took a firm hold of the one that was pressing a bit too hard against certain sensitive parts of his anatomy.
Lucifer’s glare at these antics was met with an unrepentant grin. With a deeply put-upon sigh, he went to work. Stroking the skin gently at first, getting a feeling for her limbs, detecting knots and tensions. Taking her left foot into both hands and beginning the real massage. Manipulating the toes, then slowly working his way along the foot, kneading, running his thumbs firmly along the arch, pressing down on just the right spots to make Maze moan in pleasure.
The sound filled him with a pleasant warmth, spurring him on. He used every skill, every trick he knew, to get his demon to make that sound again, and more. After a while, he turned his attentions to her right foot, massaging it just as thoroughly as the left one. Then back again, switching feet repeatedly, to Maze’s vocal approval.
This was… nice. Almost fun, in a strange way. As he continued working to give his demon as much pleasure as possible, Lucifer tried to analyze what he was feeling. It wasn’t the first time he had given someone a foot rub. It wasn’t even the first time he was doing it for Maze. But in the past, it had always been part of an exchange of pleasure, often sexual pleasure. He would massage her feet while she massaged his, then they’d gradually work their way up to more interesting body parts, and other activities.
There was nothing sexual about this massage, apart from the low thrum of attraction that was always present between them, a sort of background radiation they didn’t really notice anymore. And there was nothing mutual, no exchange of actions. Maze wasn’t doing anything to give him pleasure.
Thinking about it for a moment, Lucifer realized that right now, he didn’t want her to do anything. It was unnecessary. Even unwelcome. Any action on her part would somehow spoil this, whatever this actually was.
Yes, in a sense, this was entirely one-sided. He was doing something to give her pleasure, without her doing anything to give him pleasure in return. And yet, he was enjoying this. The act of doing this for her, of seeing and hearing her enjoy his ministrations, was giving him pleasure. Strange. Interesting. Giving his demon pleasure was giving him pleasure. Something to explore further at some future time.
When he finally came to the end of the massage, Maze was slumped in the chair, completely relaxed, her eyes closed. She was smiling and making small, happy demon sounds. A broad smile spread across Lucifer’s face at this rare treat. It had been a long time since he had last managed to get her into such a completely content state, and heard those rarest of demonic vocalizations. It was something he treasured every time it happened.
Lucifer ran his hands one last time over her feet, giving her a light pat on the ankles to signal the end of his ministrations. Maze’s eyelids flickered, opening just a sliver. She sighed deeply, stretching her arms up over her head and wriggling her toes with their deep red painted nails.
“Mmmm,” she purred, her smile widening. “This is nice. Do stuff like that more often and I might keep you around.”
Lucifer laughed, took hold of her right foot, lifted it up and pressed a playful kiss to her big toe. “As you wish, my darling Mazikeen.”
She may have said it jokingly, but he was aware of the underlying truth. If he wanted to keep her, to save their friendship and regain their old closeness, this was exactly what he had to do. Be there for her, do things for her, things that gave her pleasure and made her happy.
“How are your feathers?”
A quick touch was enough to confirm what he expected. “All dry.”
Maze nodded, another sigh escaping her. “Time for the ointment then.”
She pulled her feet out of his lap, allowing him to get up. Lucifer did so and held out a hand, helping Maze to her feet. They stood there for a moment, her hand in his, bodies brushing against each other, sharing a look. His demon placed her free hand on his chest, stroking his skin gently.
“Thank you for the massage. It was really great.”
“You’re welcome, my darling. I enjoyed it, too.”
Maze raised a politely disbelieving eyebrow, and Lucifer felt forced to elaborate. “Believe me, it surprised me, too. But I really did enjoy doing it.” He shrugged helplessly. “I can’t explain why. It just felt nice.”
Somewhat to his surprise, Maze nodded in understanding. He wondered if she really got it, if perhaps she felt the same way when she was cleaning his wings.
His demon took a step back and tucked at his hand. “Come on, let’s get your wings done.”
Smiling at her brusque tone, Lucifer followed her back towards the shower room. Maze didn’t go in there, though. Instead she led him into the locker room where they had left their clothes, and motioned for him to sit down on the wooden bench there. Rummaging in her bag for a moment, she produced a pair of thin rubber gloves, and a large glass jar filled with some pale yellow substance. There were no labels of any kind on the jar, not even anything handwritten that would give a clue about the contents. That was not entirely unexpected. After all, you couldn’t just buy wound cream for angels at the next chemist. Maze had most likely cooked the stuff up herself, or at the very least had had some human do it to her specifications.
He watched as she unscrewed the lid, and then hesitated. “It’s probably going to burn a bit at first. Do you want some more Oxy?”
Knowing that ‘a bit’ was a very variable measure, especially when it came to pain, Lucifer considered the question carefully before finally shaking his head. “No, I think I’m still good.”
Maze looked skeptical, but after a moment she nodded and moved around until she was standing behind him. “Wings out, feathers up, please.”
Lucifer obediently spread his wings and tensed the muscles that made his feathers stand up. He felt his demon crouch down close behind him, and braced himself for any pain her ministrations may cause.
Almost immediately, he could feel Maze’s fingers slide between his feathers, seeking out the first spot where his skin had been rubbed raw and needed treatment. There was the lightest of touches on the sore flesh, no pressure at all, and then she moved on to the next spot.
Seconds after she had applied the ointment, there was indeed a slight burning sensation, but no worse than a good whisky going down your throat. Almost pleasant, in a way. And once this had faded away after a few seconds, the spot that had been covered with the ointment felt cool, almost as if a tiny ice pack had been placed on it. Lucifer relaxed, letting out the breath he had unconsciously been holding. Maze continued with her ministrations, giving no sign that she had even noticed his tension.
Now that he was beginning to breathe normally again, he became aware of the smell of the ointment. It was not unpleasant, herbal, with definite medicinal undertones. He wondered just what ingredients it contained, but decided on reflection that it was probably better not to ask.
Maze worked with great skill and her usual efficiency, making quick progress along his left wing. When she reached the first spot where she had removed an ingrown pin feather, she paused briefly and warned him, allowing Lucifer to brace himself.
It hurt, despite his demon doing her best to keep her touch light and not put any pressure on the wound. The pain took several minutes to fade completely, by which time Maze was warning him that she had reached the next one. Once again Lucifer gritted his teeth and braced himself, biting back curses.
The treatment continued in this way, first on his left wing, then the right one. He didn’t really keep count of how many spots Maze treated in total. Dozens at least. Thankfully there were only about half a dozen really bad ones, though those hurt like blazes. Lucifer silently promised himself that he would never, ever, let things get this bad again.
Finally, Maze stepped back, ran a critical glance over him, and then nodded in satisfaction.
“Finished. You can tuck them away and get dressed now.”
Lucifer stood up and stretched, trying to loosen up his back muscles which had become stiff from sitting there with his wings spread out. He was probably going to be a bit sore for a couple of hours. He folded his wings and stretched them out again a few times before tucking them away.
Maze had discarded the rubber gloves and packed away the ointment jar, and was already half dressed again. By the time Lucifer had followed her example and put on the fresh suit he had brought, she was standing in front of a big mirror in the corner of the room, fixing her hair and makeup.
He stepped up behind her, and with a mischievous grin snatched the eyeliner out of her hand the moment she finished applying it. With practiced movements he circled his own eyes, then admired himself in the mirror. His pleased smirk turned to a scowl when he caught sight of his hair.
Despite the earlier efforts, it was curling wildly, a complete mess. Absolutely intolerable. Lucifer turned on his heel and retrieved his bag, privately congratulating himself on the forethought that made him pack his comb and a selection of hair products.
Returning to the mirror, he nudged Maze gently aside, earning a warning growl. He reacted with his best kicked puppy look, making her roll her eyes. Still, Maze did relinquish the spot in front of the mirror, stepping aside and leaning against a row of lockers to watch him wrangle his unruly hair.
It took a while, but Lucifer finally managed to achieve some semblance of his usual coiffure. He put his equipment back into his bag, then inspected his appearance one last time in the mirror. Straightening his suit jacket, he turned to his demon. Maze was smirking at him, but there was a gleam of appreciation in her eyes. He grinned and bowed exaggeratedly, making her laugh.
“Thank you once again for helping me, Maze.”
She just shrugged. “We’ll probably have to do this again in a day or two. Depends on how well you’ll heal. And then you’ll need regular grooming. I think once a week should do, but we’ll see. Do you want me to ask Maksim if we can rent this place regularly for a few hours every week, or do you want to make other arrangements?”
Lucifer started in surprise. He had completely forgotten about this aspect of his little wing problem. Seeing his reaction, Maze glared at him.
“You know it has to be done, Lucifer. Your wings need regular care. Look where not caring for them got you.”
He sighed. “I know, Maze. You’re right, as usual.” Her glare lost some of its intensity, and he smiled gently at her. “And yes, I would appreciate it if you could make arrangements with your acquaintance.”
“Alright. Send me your schedule, and I’ll try to work around your existing appointments.”
Lucifer quickly pulled his phone out of his pocket and did as she’d asked. Then he gave her a questioning look. “You really think we’ll have to go through all this again in a day or so?”
“Depends on how well your wings heal. I’ll drop by Lux tomorrow and check up on that, then we’ll see. In the meantime, keep your wings out as much as possible. Fresh air will help the healing process. Maybe do a bit of sunbathing, too. And stay away from Chloe for at least a few days.”
Maze scowled at him. “Do I really need to spell it out for you? Your wings need to heal. They can’t do that when Chloe is around, making you vulnerable and blocking your healing abilities. Especially since her presence would also mean that you’d keep them tucked away. So you need to stay away from her and her influence until they are healed.”
“But we have a case to solve!” He knew it was the wrong thing to say, but he couldn’t stop himself.
“Oh do you now?”
The frozen wastes of Antarctica were warm and cozy compared with the look his demon was giving him. Lucifer swallowed hard. No way back now.
“Yes. She called me earlier, when you were making the arrangements for this. Said she needed me.” The bitter twist of Maze’s lips made him wince. “I told her I couldn’t come. That I had to deal with a health problem. She wasn’t happy about that.”
“I don’t care.” The words were snarled through clenched teeth.
Lucifer’s temper flared. “Well I do! The Detective needs me! I have to assist her. She’s my partner, and I won’t betray and abandon her!”
“She does not need you. Decker can solve one measly murder on her own. Or do you think she’s so incompetent that she can’t do her job without your help?”
“What? No! She’s -“
But Maze interrupted him before he could say anything more.
“And you are not abandoning her by taking the time to let your wings heal properly. If your partner-,” she spat the word, making it drip with poison, “- gives a damn about you, she will understand that. She will care about your wellbeing more than about any stupid case.”
Lucifer froze. Maze was right, and it hurt. Because he couldn’t help remembering the Detective’s annoyance when he had informed her that he would be unable to meet her at the crime scene, and her snide comments about STDs.
But his demon wasn’t finished yet. “And what kind of partner will you be to her if you let your wings fester again, until the pain becomes too much? How much help will you be if you suddenly collapse in the middle of chasing some murderous scum? Hmm? You’ll be useless. A distraction. A liability. You could end up getting your precious partner killed.”
“Never!” Her words had hit him like punches in the gut, but this suggestion was too horrifying to contemplate. “I will never let that happen!”
“And how will you do that?”
In a flash, Maze was behind him, her hand on his back, fingers digging with unerring precision into the place where his right wing was tucked away, pressing down in just the right way to hit one of the worst sore spots.
Lucifer screamed. His legs gave way and he fell to the floor, his knees hitting the tiles hard. He barely managed to brace himself on his hands and keep his head from smacking into the ground. Black spots danced before his eyes.
Maze chuckled, a cold, malicious sound. “Do you really think Decker will be able to keep her attention on some human piece of shit if you suddenly fall over like that? Do you think she won’t get distracted by your screams of pain, and let some bastard get the drop on her?”
She crouched down in front of him, grabbed his chin, and forced him to look at her.
“I know you don’t give a damn about your own health and well-being. So by all means, go ahead, ignore everything I say and be a bloody-minded, self-destructive idiot. But don’t delude yourself into believing that your stupidity affects nobody but yourself. And maybe, just maybe, think about the consequences your actions will have for others, for once in your miserable existence.”
A heated reply sprung to Lucifer’s lips, but some instinct stopped him from actually saying anything. Instead, he took a moment to study his demon. She was breathing heavily, and he could see the hard and fast rhythm of her pulse. Her eyes were blazing with cold fury, her lips pressed together in a thin, bloodless line.
But beneath the rage, he could also see the disappointment, and the hurt. He had once again managed to hurt his demon. It seemed that no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t help hurting her. But this time, there was something more than pain in her reaction. Something worse.
Her words echoed in his mind. ‘Go ahead, ignore everything I say.’ There had been anger and hurt in them, yes, but also defeat. Resignation. Maze fully expected him to ignore her advice, to cast aside her warnings without even giving them due consideration. Her earlier words came back to haunt him. ‘The next time you brush me aside because you’re too busy with your latest obsession to care, we really will be through.’ This was what she was expecting. She believed he was going to cast her aside, unheeded, uncaring, in his rush to get back to the Detective.
Just as he reached this realization, Maze let go of his chin and stood up.
Panic surged through Lucifer. Maze was leaving him! He had taken too long to understand, and she’d finally had enough. She had taken his silence as confirmation. He had lost his last chance!
“No! Please, Mazikeen, please! Don’t leave me!”
He threw himself forward and wrapped his arms around her waist, holding onto her tightly, desperately. Without any conscious thought he unfurled his wings and wrapped them around her, too. He had to stop her. He couldn’t lose her, couldn’t face a life without his demon by his side.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry, Maze. You’re right. Please, I’ll do what you say, but please, please don’t leave me.” He was sobbing now, his voice muffled as he pressed his face against her, his tears soaking her shirt. “Please Mazikeen. Don’t go. I can’t live without you. I’ll do everything you say. Please don’t give up on me. I know I keep messing this up, but I’m trying. And I’ll try harder. Just please don’t leave me, please.”
His demon had frozen when he grabbed her, but now she was winding her fingers into his hair and pulling his head back. A desperate whimper escaped him and he instinctively held on tighter, before some remaining shred of reason warned him that resistance would only make her even more angry. Fighting to get himself under some semblance of control, Lucifer allowed Maze to tilt his head back and met her gaze.
To his shock, there were tears glistening in her eyes, love and concern clear on her face.
“Lucifer, shhh. It’s okay. I’m not leaving you.”
“Promise?” His voice was rough, his tone desperate, pleading. Later, the memory would make him squirm in embarrassment. But right now, hope was blossoming inside him, breaking through the panic, making it crumble like dry soil.
Maze hesitated for a split second, then nodded. “You promised me that you would never abandon me. I promise you the same.”
Some of the tension drained out of him as the desperate panic subsided at her words.
“Thank you, Mazikeen. Thank you.”
Lucifer hesitated, but he had to know. “And can you forgive me for being an idiot again?” He went on without giving his demon a chance to answer. “I’ll do what you said, stay away from the Detective until my wings are healed. And I promise that if I ever have any problems with them again I’ll come to you and ask for your help at once, instead of letting it get so bad. And I’ll work harder on being a good friend to you, and listening to your advice, and -“
Slender fingers pressed against his lips, stopping the flow of words. “I forgive you. I know you’re trying. That’s good enough for now.”
Relief made him slump bonelessly against her, causing Maze to utter a cry of concern and grab him tightly by the shoulders. He hastened to reassure her that nothing bad had happened to him.
“I’m alright, Maze.” He lifted his head and smiled up at her. “And I am very grateful that I haven’t ruined my final chance with you.”
Wordlessly, Maze slid her hands from his shoulders to his upper arms, and pulled him to his feet. She steadied him when he swayed, waited until he had regained his balance and folded back his wings, and then guided him over to one of the benches and urged him to sit down. Lucifer did so.
He reached up and grasped her right hand, tugging his demon close when she tried to step back. Maze allowed him to pull her until she was sitting on his lap, her arms around his neck as he held her.
“I keep messing this up, don’t I?”
Maze made a small affirmative sound. “Of course you do. You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t.”
Lucifer flinched, and she sighed and forced him to meet her eyes once again. “I don’t mean it like that.”
She hesitated, biting her lower lip, suddenly uncertain. He could see her fighting some inner battle. Finally, she stiffened in his arms, looked straight at him, and continued, “We’re both new to this whole human feelings thing. And I don’t think either of us is very good at handling it.”
Lucifer nodded, and they shared a rueful smile. But Maze wasn’t finished yet. “We’re not used to having these feelings, we’re not used to recognizing them in each other, and at least I often have no idea how to deal with them. And I don’t like talking about them either.”
“Me, too. But I’m trying, Maze.”
“I know, Lucifer. And that’s the important thing. Look. I have my demonic temper, and you have your self-centered angelic ego. We’re both going to mess this up every once in a while. But as long as I can see that you’re trying, I will forgive you. I’ll chew you out and kick your ass, but I won’t give up on you. And I hope you won’t give up on me either.”
“Never. I need you, Mazikeen. I don’t think I could live without you. Not after everything we’ve been through together. And I want you. I want you by my side, and watching my back, caring for me, and letting me care for you. I want your friendship, Mazikeen. And I want to be a good friend for you, too.”
His demon nodded. “I want that, too.” She tilted her head and gave him an inquiring look. “But is that all you want? Friendship?”
Lucifer averted his eyes, struggling with himself. Should he tell her just how much he wanted? It was selfish, and his selfishness had caused him to hurt her so often. But him keeping secrets from Maze had also hurt her. And she had been honest with him, and taken the first step to talk about their feelings. He knew how hard that had been for her, how much it went against her nature. He owed her the same honesty.
“No. It’s not. I want all of you. I want my Maze back. Not like in the past,” he qualified hastily when he felt her stiffen in his arms, “that was too one-sided, I know. We shouldn’t go back to that. But I want us to be that close again, and this time I want to do it right. Be there for you just as much as you are there for me. A real team.”
“Partners?” Maze asked archly.
Her voice carried an edge. It brought an image of her demon blades to Lucifer’s mind, sharper than a razor and wickedly curved. Fragments of a long-ago confrontation with his demon flittered through his thoughts. The word held a whole universe of meaning.
He met her gaze squarely. “Yes. Partners. In every way.”
It had been the right answer. The smile that blossomed on his demon’s face made Lucifer’s heart ache in the best possible way, and he knew with absolute certainty that he would remember and treasure this moment for the rest of his existence. Maze kissed him deeply, and he responded eagerly, losing himself in the sensations. When the kiss finally ended, she leaned against him, her head resting on his shoulder, and they simply sat there in silence, enjoining their closeness.
After a while, she pulled in a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. “I guess Linda is right and this talking about feelings stuff really can be helpful sometimes.”
“Yes. And it seems we didn’t do too badly this time.” He nudged her playfully.
Maze shrugged. “I suppose it could have been worse.” She raised her head and glowered at him. “We’re going to have to keep doing it, don’t we?”
Lucifer couldn’t help laughing at her disgruntled tone. “I’m afraid so, my darling. If we want this to work, I suspect there will be more talks about emotions in our future.”
His demon groaned theatrically, making him laugh harder. She glared at him, but the corners of her mouth were twitching, and soon she joined him in his mirth. As the last giggles subsided, she leaned back against his shoulder with a contented sigh.
After several minutes, Lucifer broke the silence. “Much as I enjoy having you in my arms, my darling Maze, I’m afraid this is getting a tad uncomfortable. These benches are fit for the waiting rooms in Hell. My arse is going numb.”
His demon laughed. “Oh no, we can’t have that.”
With visible reluctance, she pulled out of his embrace and got to her feet, then watched carefully as he stood up. Lucifer raised an eyebrow at her, and she shrugged.
“Just making sure you’re not going to keel over. You should go home, get some rest, eat, drink some fruit juice or something.”
“And call the Detective to let her know she’ll be without my services for a little while.” He sighed deeply.
“She is not going to be happy about this.” He held up a hand to forestall Maze’s protest. “But you’re right, that doesn’t change the fact that I do need to recuperate before I go back to working with her again. Don’t worry, Maze. I will be a good devil and follow your advice.” He smiled when she relaxed.
“Good. Remember, keep your wings out as much as possible, the air will help the healing. Try to do a bit of sunbathing, that will be good for them, too.”
Lucifer frowned. “I’ll try, but I’m not sure the balcony is a suitable place for it.”
“You could go and spend a few days at your place in the hills. Lots of space there next to the pool, and it’s more private. No risk of random humans just wandering in, or Decker coming by to badger you.”
“You think she’d do that?” He asked, surprised.
Maze rolled her eyes. “Of course. She’ll either try to get you to help her despite your health problem, or come by just to vent her frustrations and lecture you.”
The mental images conjured up by his demon’s words made him grimace. She was most likely right.
She gave him a grim smile. “You should probably turn off your phone, too, once you’ve told her. Just let me know where you’ll be, and I’ll meet you there tomorrow for your checkup.”
Lucifer nodded briefly, and considered his options. The hill estate was clearly the better choice for his recuperation, but the idea of being cooped up there all alone did not appeal to him. He knew without a doubt that he would be bored out of his mind up there in no time. Yes, he could find various ways to distract himself. There was a piano there, and a large collection of books, DVDs, music. But none of that would change the fact that he would be alone. At least at the penthouse. He could always go down to Lux, spend some time with the human patrons, maybe even bring one or more of them up to his rooms for a bit of naked fun. At his place in the hills, all he’d be able to do was stare at the distant city and long for its manifold diversions.
He was distracted by Maze leaving the room. She returned almost immediately, carrying her toolkit and the trash bag. Lucifer watched as she packed away the collection of torture implements, and then went to retrieve the rest of her equipment.
Should he ask her to come with him to the hill estate? Her company would make his stay there infinitely more pleasant. They could spend a few lazy days, relaxing, lying by the pool drinking champagne and eating whatever snacks they fancied.
The scenario brought to mind their recent time under the sunlamps. Lucifer stiffened as the way that had ended replayed in his head. ‘I do not exist for your personal entertainment.’ He was doing it again, wasn’t he? Expecting Maze to come with him and keep him company, without considering what she wanted.
Why should she want to hole up there with him? She had never particularly cared for the place, and while he knew she wanted him to spend more time with her, Lucifer strongly suspected that this particular instance would not count in his favor. Maze wanted him to want to spend time with her when he could be doing other things - and perhaps particularly when he could be spending that time with other people - not when it was his only alternative to being alone and bored.
No, if he wanted to enjoy her company while his wings healed, he had to offer her something more, something she would want and enjoy. Something that would make her happy. A sudden idea flashed into his mind, and he smiled.
“Mazikeen?” He waited until she’d finished zipping up her bag and was looking at him. “I have a proposition for you. What do you think of going up to the lake house for the rest of the week? I could call the caretaker now, have him air out the place, stock the fridge and so on, and then we could drive up there tomorrow morning.”
His demon looked at him in confusion. “What lake house?”
Lucifer’s eyebrows shot up. “Surely you remember the place? Nice parcel of real estate in Colorado. Acres of rolling woodlands, crystal clear private lake, and a house with more bedrooms than my penthouse, which Charlie Huang nevertheless insisted on calling a ‘cozy little cabin’. We spent a week up there with him, his lovely young bride, and his equally lovely boyfriend, remember?”
A grin spread across his face when he saw that his demon did recall that particular week. “He was forced to sell the place to pay for his divorce settlement, and I offered him a good price.” His grin turned into a soft smile. “I always wanted to return there with you, and go skinny dipping in the moonlight again.”
Maze was smiling fondly at the memory. “I’d like that.”
“So, shall I call the caretaker then?”
She hesitated for a second, then nodded. “Yes. Let’s go there tomorrow.”
Lucifer gave her a beaming smile and pulled out his phone. He suppressed a grimace when he saw that he had five missed calls, four from the Detective and one from Doctor Linda. This did not bode well. He quickly swiped them away; he’d deal with that later.
Before he could scroll through his contacts for the caretaker, Maze put a hand on his arm. “Ask him if he can set up the lawn shower. I remember that Charlie had one, and it should be sufficient for washing your wings.”
“A splendid idea, my darling. I’ll see to it right now.”
He quickly made the call, while Maze gathered up the first load of her equipment and left the room, presumably to load it into her car. She came back just as he was slipping his phone back into his pocket.
“Don’t forget to call Chloe.”
Lucifer grimaced. Given all the missed calls, there was no chance his next conversation with the Detective was going to be pleasant, even without him telling her that he would be unable to assist her with the current case. “Do I have to? Don’t you think it would be better if I waited until tomorrow, and called her once we’re on our way to Colorado?”
“No. That’s only going to piss her off. And what if she drops by the penthouse tomorrow morning before you call her and finds out you’re gone? Do you really want her to think you’ve disappeared yet again?”
“You think she would believe that?”
“Duh. After the hissy-fit she had over you running off to Vegas without a word, and then doing it again on her birthday?”
“Oh. But I explained that one to her!”
“Yeah, yeah. And on an intellectual level she probably gets that you had to rescue your ex-wife. But that doesn’t matter when it comes to these stupid human emotions. Especially once she finds out that this time I’m going with you.”
He stared at his demon in confusion, causing her to roll her eyes at him. “Come on. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed that she’s always been jealous as hell whenever she saw us together.”
“Really?” Lucifer fought back the pleased smirk that threatened to spread across his face. He was sure Maze would not appreciate it.
“Do you seriously not remember all her little bitchy remarks about deviant foreplay, and perverted games?”
Memories rose, flashes of the Detective barging in and interrupting discussions between him and his demon, of the human glaring daggers at both of them, but especially at Maze. And of snide remarks, scoffs, lips curled in disgust. Yes, he remembered. He hadn’t really seen it at the time, too busy with the implications of the Detective seeking him out at all to pay attention to how she was acting. Or maybe he hadn’t wanted to see it. Now, with hindsight, her disapproval of the relationship between his demon and him was glaringly obvious.
He frowned as those scenes played out before his mind’s eye, wondering what Maze had thought back then, what kind of interpretation she had put on the fact that he tolerated the Detective’s dismissive treatment of her. Yet another case where he should have done something different, treated her better. He should have made it clear to her and the Detective that Mazikeen was a trusted and valued friend, and not a mere servant or hanger-on. Too late to change that now, it was in the past. All he could do was handle things differently from now on.
Turning his attention back to Maze, he found her watching him. When he caught her eyes she nodded curtly, making him wonder what she had read in his expression.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t tell her you’re coming with me, then.”
“What, and leave that little revelation to me? No way.” Maze shook her head when her remark resulted in another confused look from Lucifer. “I have to go home and pack. She’ll notice that. And I need to tell Trix that I’ll be gone for a few days. Decker will want to know where I’m going. She always wants to know.”
“Oh. You could tell her you’ve got another job out of state,” he suggested tentatively.
Maze’s eyebrow shot up sharply. “You want me to lie to her?”
“Well no, not as such. I just don’t want to make things difficult for you. But if, as you say, she is going to take this badly, then maybe…” He trailed off as she scoffed.
“She’ll find out sooner or later, if you’re actually serious about wanting us to get back together again. Might as well let her know straight away what’s going on.”
Lucifer froze. Maze’s words made it sound like they were going to have a romantic relationship. That was not what he’d intended. He hesitated. Or was it?
They had been lovers in the past, and he certainly wanted to have sex with her again. Just like he wanted to spend time with her and do other things together. Going for dinner, partying at Lux, dancing, watching movies together. Going on day trips, weekend getaways, and holidays. Perhaps, if things went right, maybe even persuade her to move back into the penthouse.
All of that were things humans thought of as part of a relationship. The Detective would definitely interpret them that way. She was going to think that he didn’t want her. And that was good, wasn’t it? He couldn’t be with her, not knowing that she was his father’s pawn, that she may not have any choice, any free will, when it came to being with him.
That didn’t stop him from wanting to be with her, though. He wanted her to be his partner, his lover, to spend time with her, to have her by his side, just like Maze. Just like Maze…
The realization staggered him, shook him to the core. He wanted them both. His feelings were the same. He swayed.
Maze was in front of him in an instant, steadying him, looking up at him in alarm. “Lucifer! Are you okay?”
He almost blurted out his great epiphany right there and then. Something stopped him at the last moment. Instinct warned him that now was not the time, that Maze would need more than words to believe him. He needed to rebuild the trust between them before he made any grand declarations of his feelings.
“I’m alright, Maze. Just… thinking.”
She shot him a suspicious look, one eyebrow rising sarcastically. “Might want to be careful with that. Seems to be dangerous, when it makes you stagger like that.”
Lucifer laughed. “Actually, I was thinking that you were right.”
“What, and that came as such a shock to you that it made you give a pretty good imitation of a palm tree in a storm?”
“In a way, yes. But not for the reasons you are most likely thinking.” He lifted his hand and cupped her cheek stroking it gently. “I am serious about wanting us to get together again. And you are right, hiding it from the Detective is a bad idea. She deserves the truth. And you deserve better than being my secret.”
He saw the surprise flash across her face before it was replaced by a pleased smile, and congratulated himself on saying the right thing. Perhaps he was slowly getting the hang of being a good friend and partner to his demon.
“I’ll call her now, let her know we’ll be out of town for the rest of the week.” Remembering the missed calls, he sighed and added, “And I should probably call back the good Doctor. I need to cancel this week’s sessions with her.”
“Say hi to her for me.”
There was something in Maze’s voice, an undertone Lucifer couldn’t interpret. “Trouble in paradise?”
Maze rolled her eyes at the clichéd phrase, then shrugged. “I haven’t really seen her much lately. She’s always too busy or too tired to go out for drinks. And I called her a few times, but she didn’t pick up, and she hasn’t called me back.”
“She’s probably still dealing with the death of that ex-husband of hers. You know how humans are about that kind of thing.” He smiled sympathetically.
“Maybe you’re right.”
His demon’s tone suggested that she did not actually think so. Before he could say anything to reassure her, she shot him a quelling look. “Go make your calls.”
The sarcastic reply made Maze smirk and hum low in her throat. She rose up on tiptoe and leaned in until her lips were grazing his left ear. “We can play later, if you think you’re up to it.”
She bit his earlobe, making him moan, and then stepped away from him with a wink and a smirk. "Phone calls. Now."
Lucifer cursed under his breath. She was doing this deliberately. Short-circuiting his brain, making all the blood in his body head south, just when he needed his wits about him for his confrontation with the Detective. "You are evil."
"Demon." Maze confirmed with evident satisfaction. She made a shooing gesture. "Get on with it."
Taking a few deep breaths, he braced himself, plastered a bright smile on his face, and tapped the speed-dial for the Detective.
She answered almost immediately. "Lucifer! Why the hell haven't you answered my calls?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Maze's smirk widen. He shot her a quick glare before once again plastering a smile on his face. "And hello to you too, Detective. I told you, I'm dealing with a rather annoying health issue at the moment. I was getting treatment."
"Well, if your 'treatment' is finished now, get your ass to the precinct." The air quotes were clearly audible.
He frowned, annoyed. "I'm afraid that will not be possible."
The call went rapidly downhill from there. Several times, Lucifer found himself wondering if he had accidentally started speaking in tongues, since the Detective appeared to be completely unable to understand that this was not just a sudden whim of his, and that he actually did have a legitimate reason for being unable to assist her on her current case.
Things got even worse when he informed her that he would be leaving town for several days, and that Maze was coming with him. His demon had been absolutely correct with her prediction that the Detective would not take that particular piece of news well. Decker accused him of using his supposed 'health issue' as a pretext for some sort of tour of debauchery, and would not be convinced otherwise no matter how much he protested and tried to explain the truth to her. The call ended with her abruptly hanging up on him.
Lucifer kicked the nearest bench in frustration as he viciously stabbed at his phone to hang up. A small sound made him whip around to find Maze leaning against the row of lockers, watching him with a wide grin on her face. Before he could shout at her for enjoying his ordeal, she stepped into his personal space, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. By the time the kiss ended, all his anger and frustration had vanished.
Maze was smiling at him, her fingers stroking the nape of his neck. “What you said to her, about me.” She lowered her head, gazing up at him through her lashes. “Thank you.”
He felt an unaccustomed blush spreading across his cheeks, and tried to remember exactly what he had said. As far as he could recall, it hadn’t been anything particularly extravagant or outrageously flattering. “It was just the truth. And I meant every word of it.”
“I know.” His demon raised her head again, and he swooped down to claim her mouth in another kiss. Just as their lips touched, his phone started ringing. Snarling in annoyance, Lucifer raised the offending device, fully prepared to reject the call. Especially if it should be the Detective calling him back to argue some more. The name on the screen made him pause. Maze took a look, and rolled her eyes.
“Go on, talk to her.” She pressed a quick kiss to his lips, then released her hold on him and stepped back.
Lucifer pouted, but took the call. “Doctor! I was just about to call you back, but I didn’t realize you needed me so urgently. What can I do for you?”
Linda Martin’s voice came through loud and clear. “Lucifer. You sound like you’re doing fine. I’m so glad. Chloe called me and told me you were ill. She sounded very worried.” There was a tiny but noticeable pause before the last word.
Lucifer and Maze scoffed in perfect unison. They exchanged a grin, and then Lucifer turned his attention back to the conversation. He wondered briefly just when exactly the Detective had called his psychologist. Earlier, before the missed call from the Doctor? Or just now, after he informed her of his plans? Perhaps both.
Apparently Linda had heard the scoffing. “Lucifer she really was very upset.”
“Yes, I am aware of that. She let me know in no uncertain terms just how upset and annoyed she was when I called her just now to inform her that I won’t be able to assist her with her current case because Maze and I are leaving town for a few days.”
“You’re going away with Maze?”
Was his demon’s paranoia rubbing off on him, or was there really an odd note in the Doctor’s voice at the mention of Maze?
“For a few days only. Maybe a week. Just until I’m fully healed.”
“So you really are ill. I’m so sorry, is there anything I can do for you?”
Her obvious concern lessened his annoyance that she, too, had doubted the legitimacy of his health problem.
“Not ill as such, but yes, I am dealing with a rather bothersome and inconvenient health issue at the moment. And thank you for your offer, but there is nothing you can do. Fortunately, Maze knows exactly how to treat this particular problem, and has already done everything that was necessary. Now I just have to stay away from the Detective’s mortalizing influence until my w- body has healed.”
“I didn’t know Maze had any medical knowledge.” From her tone, it was clear she was remembering Maze’s call during the Rivers case.
Lucifer chuckled. “She doesn’t, not in the traditional sense. But she does have millennia of experience taking care of me, and in the particular area where my current problem lies she is an expert.”
“Oh. So this health issue has something to do with you being the Devil? It’s a supernatural illness?”
“Well, erh, yes, in a way…”
Out of the corner of his eyes, Lucifer could see Maze shaking her head and scowling at him. When she saw him looking in her direction, she mouthed: ‘Just tell her.’
He glared at her, but Linda’s voice, half concerned, half exasperated, brought him back to his call.
“Lucifer, what’s going on with you?”
“Well, Doctor, if you must know, the problem is my wings. They have become infected, and since I gave you my word that I wouldn’t cut them off again until I had found a way to make it stick, I’m having to deal with this the complicated and long winded way.”
Linda was clearly taken aback. “That can happen? I thought… I mean, I know Amenadiel’s wings have become…” She broke off, obviously not knowing how to describe what had happened to the angel’s wings.
Lucifer decided to explain. “It doesn’t happen normally. Our wings are just as invulnerable as the rest of us. But they do require a certain amount of maintenance. Regular cleaning and grooming.” He sighed. “I must admit that I have been somewhat negligent in this regard.”
“He means that he’s been an idiot and not taken care of them at all, even when they were beginning to fester and cause him constant pain,” Maze shouted, apparently unwilling to let him gloss over the extent of his stupidity. “If I hadn’t noticed he’d still be letting them rot.”
“Was that Maze?”
Lucifer’s eyes narrowed. The good Doctor sounded alarmed. “Yes, of course. I told you she’s been taking care of me and treating the problem.”
“Oh, yes. So you said.”
It wasn’t just demon paranoia, there was something decidedly off about Linda’s reaction whenever he mentioned Maze. Lucifer exchanged a glance with his demon. She was standing close enough to hear, and he could see she had caught the oddness, too.
Before he could say anything, Linda rallied. “Is she right? Did you really do nothing about this problem, even when it was already causing you pain?”
He grimaced at the barely concealed disappointment in her voice. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
The sigh that echoed from the phone’s speaker made Maze smirk again.
“Doctor. I’ve already had the lecture about the stupidity and irresponsibility of my actions from Maze. And no offense, but she is considerably more forceful than you in this area.” The smirk on his demon’s face widened. He shot her a dark look. “Don’t worry, I have given Maze my word that this will not happen again.”
“I still think we should discuss this issue in our next session.” Her tone made it perfectly clear that she would not let this drop.
“Oh, very well. But it will have to wait until Maze and I are back. We’re leaving tomorrow morning. I’m afraid I have to cancel our appointments for this week.”
“Do you think it’s wise to leave town because of this, Lucifer?”
When he didn’t reply immediately, she pressed on: “Chloe is going to be very upset about you leaving again so soon after your trip to Vegas, and I thought you were trying to repair your relationship with her.”
He pressed his lips together in a thin line to keep himself from yelling at her. Was the woman simply not listening to what he told her?
A small movement drew his attention to Maze. She was glaring at the phone and looked ready to attack it. He’d better deal with this before his demon decided to intervene.
“The Detective is the reason why I have to go away. My wings need to heal, and that won’t happen when she is around.”
“But why? Surely-”
“I told you why!” Lucifer shouted, finally losing his temper. “I can’t heal as long as she is around, making me vulnerable! And if I stay here, the Detective won’t leave me alone until I’m healed. She’ll come to Lux and try to convince me to work that case with her, or maybe she’ll just drop by to call me names and accuse me of being unreliable, untrustworthy, selfish, and whatever other insults she can come up with. I’m not going to put up with that again!”
He stopped, tried to get himself back under control. Maze was by his side in an instant, cupping his cheek, making him look at her. The love and concern in her eyes calmed him and he leaned into her touch.
Squawking noises from the phone interrupted their peaceful little moment. He hadn’t even realized that he had lowered his arm. For a moment he was tempted to just hang up, but that would be rude. The good Doctor did not deserve that, despite her infuriating obtuseness.
“Sorry, Doctor, I was distracted for a moment,” Lucifer said in a tone that made it clear he wasn’t actually sorry at all.
Linda sighed. “We really need to talk about all this in our next session, Lucifer.”
“Very well.” There was a hard edge to his voice that made his demon arch an eyebrow. He wasn’t sure the Doctor noticed it, though. “I’ll call you when Maze and I are back in town.”
“Alright. See you next week then, Lucifer.”
He made a noncommittal sound and ended the call. Maybe he and Maze should extend their holiday a bit. Two or even three weeks away from LA sounded good right now. They could stay at the lake house until his wings were healed, and then perhaps go somewhere else. Another trip to Vegas, maybe. Or New York. Or even London, Paris, Rome, Venice. Moscow. Beijing. They could travel all over the world…
“Ready to get out of here?”
Maze’s question pulled him from his daydreams.
“Yes. Absolutely.” In more ways than one. He was looking forward to leaving LA behind in the morning.
His demon grinned at his emphatic response. “Let’s go then.”
She moved to pick up her large bag, but Lucifer was faster. “Allow me.”
Before she could react he took both hers and his own, leaving only the evil-looking pesticide sprayer for her to carry. Maze arched an eyebrow at this sudden, unexpected attack of chivalry, then rolled her eyes when he simply grinned endearingly at her.
With a put-upon sigh, she picked up the sprayer and motioned for him to precede her out of the room. Out in the corridor, Lucifer turned and watched her switch off the lights.
“I don’t know about you, my darling Maze, but this ordeal has made me quite hungry. Can I perhaps tempt you into having dinner with me? There’s this nice Chinese place not far from here where they serve those chili chicken bites you like.”
His demon considered the suggestion for a second before nodding. “Good idea.”
“Splendid!” Lucifer beamed at her as she moved past him and led the way towards the back door.
“I’ll leave my car in the garage, and you can drop me off here on your way home so I can pick it up.”
His smile faded. That was not how he had been hoping their evening would go. He hesitated a moment, then decided to risk explicit rejection rather than assume it as an established fact. “Actually, I was hoping you would come back to Lux with me. Enjoy one last night of partying before we leave in the morning.”
Maze looked over her shoulder with an air of almost apology. “I still have to pack for our trip, and I need to tell Trix I’m going to be away for a few days.” Her lips twisted in a grimace. “Though I expect Chloe will already have told her by the time I get home. And she’ll probably be lying in wait to give me the third degree.”
“Why would the Detective’s offspring feel the need to interrogate you just because you won’t be there for a few days?” Lucifer frowned in confusion. He hadn’t been paying much attention to Maze’s friendship with the child, but this didn’t seem to fit what he’d observed of their dynamic.
His demon rolled her eyes at him. “Not Trix, Chloe.” She shrugged. “The small human is going to have some questions, I’m sure. But Decker’s the one who will try to bring out the thumb screws.” She quickly forestalled any comment he could have wanted to make. “And not in a fun way.”
“All the more reason not to go back there tonight, don’t you think? You can always phone the child if you want to talk with her.” His tone became earnest, almost pleading. “Stay at the penthouse with me, and tomorrow morning we go by your place after the Detective has left for work, and pick up your stuff then. It’s no problem if we start out for Colorado a bit later.”
He almost bumped into her as she stopped, turned around, and stared at him.
“Are you trying to protect me from the Decker inquisition?” Incredulity was warring with amusement on Maze’s face.
Lucifer smiled sheepishly. “Maybe, a bit. Mostly I just really want to spend the evening with you.”
Once again Maze hesitated for several seconds before apparently coming to a decision. “How about a compromise? After dinner, I go back home, deal with Decker, talk with Trix and pack my stuff. And then I come to Lux, and we can have some fun.”
Joy filled him at her words. He hadn’t expected her to give in so easily, or at all, really. Maze seemed to want to spend the night with him as much as he wanted to spend it with her.
“That’s an excellent plan, my darling!”
She grinned at his enthusiasm. “Let’s go then.”
They made their way back to the garage, with Maze turning out lights and locking doors along the way. She quickly stowed her gear in the trunk of her car, while Lucifer put his own bag into the Corvette. Then he held open the passenger door and motioned for his demon to take her seat. But Maze just rolled her eyes at him.
“I need to open the door.” She nodded towards the rolling gate.
“No, you don’t.”
With a flourish, he gestured at the gate and extended his will, grinning widely when it began to open. Maze rolled her eyes again, but she got into the passenger seat. Lucifer carefully closed the car door and then quickly got behind the wheel and drove out of the garage. He stopped once they were through the gate, turned in his seat, and closed the gate again with a small expenditure of devilish power.
When he turned back again, Maze had her phone out and was typing rapidly. At his inquiring look, she explained: “Just letting the cleanup crew know we’re done here.”
Lucifer nodded in understanding and watched as she sent the text message. Before his demon could slide her phone back into her pocket, it began to ring. He scowled at the offending device, wondering who was disturbing them now. He found out almost at once when Maze sighed and directed an apologetic look at him.
“It’s Trix. I have to answer this.”
When he leaned back in his seat with an exasperated sigh, she stared at him in confusion, then rolled her eyes once more. “I can talk to her while you drive, you know.”
With a sheepish smile, Lucifer eased the Corvette out onto the road and headed for the restaurant. The noise from the engine and the air rushing past as they sped along mostly deserted streets made it impossible for him to understand what the child was saying, but he listened with interest to Maze’s side of the conversation.
“Hey there, Trix.”
“Of course she did.”
The corners of his mouth curved upwards at his demon’s scoff.
“Yes, it’s true. Lucifer and I are going away for a few days.”
So the Detective had informed her daughter. And apparently, the little urchin had felt the need to confirm the facts immediately by calling Maze.
“For the rest of the week, maybe a bit longer.”
Lucifer cast a quick, surprised look at his demon, but she was staring at the passing buildings and didn’t notice his reaction. Was Maze expecting the healing process to take longer than she’d let on, or had she picked up on his desire to stay away from LA for a little while?
She let out an annoyed sigh at whatever the child was saying, and he hastily turned his attention back on the road.
“Did she now.”
He wondered if the child could hear the edge in Maze’s voice, and if she would know what that meant.
“Well, she’s wrong. We’re just going somewhere nice and quiet, and we’ll stay there on our own until Lucifer is 100% well again.”
What exactly had the Detective been telling her child? Surely she wouldn’t mention her suspicions about orgies in Las Vegas in front of her offspring?
“No, he isn’t ill. Not like Bethany when she had mumps. It’s more like your friend Ally when she sprained her ankle so badly the ligaments were all strained.” Another annoyed sigh. “No, Lucifer didn’t sprain his ankle. I said it’s sort of like that. What I mean is that what he has is something more like an injury, not some sort of infectious disease.”
“No, I’m not telling you. It’s private.”
“No, private does not mean it’s about his boy parts.”
The car swerved briefly as Lucifer choked on the breath he had just been taking. He stared incredulously at Maze, only to find her grinning wickedly, clearly enjoying his shock. Thankfully the spawn seemed to have more questions, and she was forced to turn her attention back to the phone.
“No, I’m not telling you. And no, I don’t think Lucifer will tell you either.”
“Look, he doesn’t want to tell your mom, because she wouldn’t believe it anyway. And if I tell you, that means you would have to keep it secret from her. And she wouldn’t like that. So if I don’t tell you, then she can’t be upset because you’re not telling her.”
Somewhat to Lucifer’s surprise, this bit of logic seemed to do the trick and get the kid onto a slightly different avenue of inquiry, judging by Maze’s next words.
“Yes, it is necessary. He needs to get away from LA, go somewhere quiet, where he won’t be disturbed every five minutes. And I’m going with him because his problem needs some treatment that he can’t do on his own. So I’m helping him.”
Whatever the child said next made Maze’s expression soften. “Yes, of course you can call me. I can’t promise that I will always be able to answer at once, but if not I promise I will call you back as soon as possible.”
“No, Lucifer won’t mind.” She gave him a hard look. “Not if he knows what’s good for him.”
By now, they had reached the Chinese restaurant. The Devil’s luck held, and another car pulled out of a parking spot almost directly by the front door just as they came along. Lucifer slid the Corvette into the space and switched off the motor.
“Look, Lucifer is treating me to dinner, and we’ve just pulled up in front of the restaurant. How about we continue this talk later, when I get home?”
“Yes, you can tell your mom I’ll be coming home in a while. Maybe two hours or so.”
“Yeah, I expect she does. Okay, see you later, Trix!”
Maze sighed in relief as she hung up. Lucifer found himself echoing her, earning a raised eyebrow.
“So, what the Hell has the Detective been telling her offspring?”
His demon smirked. “Pretty much what you probably think she’s been saying. Though I suspect Trix may have gotten some of her info from listening in on her mom talking to someone else.”
Lucifer grinned. "Clever little parasite.”
Maze's smirk widened, clearly pleased with his approval of her protege. Then she nodded towards the restaurant. “Shall we go in, or do you want a play by play of my talk with her first?”
He rolled his eyes at her exaggerated eyebrow-waggle, and quickly got out of the car. Maze actually waited until he could open the passenger door for her, then took his proffered hand and allowed him to help her out. Not that she actually needed his help, of course.
“Let’s go in and order, and then you can tell me all about what the child told you, and why in Dad’s name she would think that my health issue being private meant that it involved my ‘boy parts’. And really, you could at least have corrected her there, and told her they were man parts. Or Devil parts. Definitely not boy, though.”
Maze laughed at his aggrieved tone. “Do you really want to have Decker coming after us with her gun because I gave her daughter a detailed description of your ‘man parts’?”
“I didn’t say you should give the urchin a detailed description!” Lucifer protested. “Though isn’t she getting old enough that she should know about certain facts of life?”
His demon rolled her eyes as he held the restaurant door open for her. “Tell that to Decker. She keeps insisting that I should not talk with Trix about anything that has to do with sex. Claims that it’s a job for school and parents only.” A smirk spread across her face. “The kid doesn’t agree. She’s asked me some interesting questions.”
“And have you given her some interesting answers?” He grinned as he motioned for her to precede him, amused by the thought of his demon being a subversive influence on the small human.
“Of course! After all, that’s what friends do, isn’t it? They share stuff. Especially the interesting stuff.”
Lucifer smiled softly. “Yes, they do.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. “They even share their favorite foods.”
Maze grasped his intentions at once. “Oh no, forget it! If you want chili chicken bites, order some for yourself. I’m not sharing mine!”
The Devil’s carefree laughter made heads turn as he followed his demon into the restaurant. It was going to be an interesting dinner, and hopefully an interesting night. He was looking forward to it.