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A Hell of a Gift

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Sold her soul to the Devil.

That’s what they whisper to her never-ending amusement. And deep down they wonder… had she truly?

Surely, a gift like hers, a talent such as she possessed could be used as a solid argument for the existence of the Divine, the Supernatural.

Of course, time and gruelling practice played their roles as well, but who would waste their time gossiping about such trivial, mundane measures? No, hers was a capability deserving of rumours of an otherworldly power at play, pardon the pun.

And as it happens, these partly-seriously taken whispers did, in fact, hold some truth to them. But as is the case for most Devil related information, it lies beneath a heap of misconceptions.

It wasn’t her soul the Devil gained out of their deal, however. Honestly, what use would it be to him? What possible desire would the Prince of Darkness have for an eight-year old’s soul? Then again, none of the gossip fuelers had any way of knowing just how young she’d been when the bargain was struck. Although, she fears this particular detail would only result in even more outrageous theories. After all, who would put it past the Devil to take an innocent, naïve child’s soul?

Well, what he actually gained from Beatrice Espinoza was information. No, not her deepest, darkest desire, not a highly guarded secret he had to coax out with temptation, nothing like that. Lucifer Morningstar, the notorious Devil himself requested answered but a simple question.

“Come now, small human! What is your mother’s favourite candy?”

“Why’d you wanna know, Lucifer? Are you gonna surprise her with candies and flowers? Huh? Like in the movies?”

“Don’t be absurd, child, I plan to do no such thing. I simply wish to know this information in case it becomes relevant in the future. Now, out with it, offspring, I haven’t got all day,”

“Nu-huh, Lucifer. What’s in it for me?”

“Very well, child, very well. Perhaps another deal? Hmm? What do you say? What does that miniscule heart of yours desire?”

“A piano lesson! I want you to teach me how to play as good as you!”

“Now, now, spawn, even I’m not that good. It took eons to refine such skills, one lesson will hardly a virtuoso make.”

“Ok, then I want more than one lesson. I want as many as it will take to play like you!”

“Well, let’s not get a head of our selves, shall we? Why don’t I give you one lesson, see how you like it and then decide if you desire more? How does that sound? Do we have a deal?”

“Yeah, we have a deal! Mommy really likes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, she says she could eat a whole bag by herself!”

And thus the deal was struck. Hardly dramatic, more adorably childish if you ask her, but, then again, no one ever does.

Anyhow, Lucifer’s nothing if not a Devil of his word, and soon after she was sat at his grand, barely containing her excitement, her mother sat quietly by the bar, watching the scene unfold.

Beatrice had hoped to leave being able to play Let it go! just like Lucifer could with any song she or anyone else requested, but it didn’t go quite as she had planned. In fact, she barely got to play anything at all.

Lucifer spent the first 10 minutes criticising and reprimanding her about her posture and hand placement, showing her how to sit and hold her hands properly. At the time she thought that was the worst part. The following years she would reminisce about that moment as the quiet before the storm. The true horror, unbeknownst to her, was yet to come.

Finally satisfied with Beatrice’s posture, Lucifer brought out an old, yellow-paged book with what she deemed to be unreadable scribbles, only to set it in front of her and settling down next to her on the stool.

She examined what appeared to be dots with lines written in some sort of pattern without comprehending their meaning. Her concentration was broken when Lucifer played a sequence of notes, pointedly looking at her.

“Your turn, child,” he said, with a nod towards the book.

“But I don’t know how to read this,” she said, slightly embarrassed.

“What? You…you don’t know how to read sheet music? What is it exactly that they teach you in that human educational establishment?” Lucifer groaned, looking exasperated. “Very well, I’ve taught less knowledgeable pupils. This is but a small snag, although what is the point of spending up to 8 hours a day stuck in a cesspool of bacteria and shrieking and not learn even the basics of music is beyond me,” he trailed off with a shrug as if even the thought of it made his skin crawl.

The next half hour was spent learning the meaning of each squiggle and its position. Turned out even the fact that some of the dots were filled and some weren’t was important, who would’ve thought? By the end of it Beatrice’s head was buzzing with notes and trying to interpret them.

Thankfully Lucifer deemed that this was enough information to suffice for now and brought her attention back to the book in front of her. Now, with the knowledge of what each of the dots represent, Trixie made a timid first attempt at translating what was written into sounds, concentrating very hard on hitting the right keys. Lucifer hummed his approval, while correcting the girl’s posture and hands. After adjusting accordingly and encouraged by Lucifer’s small smile, she repeated the scale once more, with more vigour. Stealing a glance towards where her mother was sat, Beatrice couldn’t help the smile that spread on her face seeing her mom so content and peaceful, watching over her.

The lesson ended up being an hour long, the rest of it spent learning and playing different scales, modified by Lucifer. She couldn’t help but feel disappointment when Lucifer stated that this would be enough for a first lesson, no need to strain herself just yet. She closed the lid and rose from the stool only to feel a rush of impatience for the next time she would be able to play.

As it happened, getting to the next lesson wasn’t an easy feat. Her mother, having had 3 years of not-entirely-wanted piano lessons herself, wasn’t quite keen on the idea of Trixie seriously taking up piano lessons, even if it was with Lucifer (assuming that he would agree to such an arrangement, which she doubted he would), which meant negotiable cost and as lenient of a schedule as anyone could wish for. She didn’t think her daughter understood the gravity of such a commitment, that if she really wanted to do this it would mean getting a piano for their apartment and hours upon hours of practice with little to no exceptions.

It took Trixie a whole week of continually accosting both her mother and Lucifer to even get them to take her seriously and agree to sit down, all four of them, Dan included, because if this really did become a thing, he needed to be involved in the process, and have a discussion about it.

“Ok, babe, all of us are here and we’re ready to talk about this piano thing, but before we start, promise me that you will listen and think about what the three of us have to say, ok? Promise?”

“I promise, mommy,”

“Ok, then first things first, Lucifer? Would you be willing to give Trixie regular piano lessons? It would have to be at Lux until we get a piano for her and for a reasonable cost that me and Dan can actually afford,”

“Of course, I would, Detective. I can see the child is brimming with desire to learn the art of music and far be it for me to stand between her and fulfilling it. As for the location, I’ve no qualms holding the lessons wherever most convenient for you, but I do refuse to take a single dime from either you or Daniel. I’ve plenty of other channels of income,”

“Thank you, Lucifer, that’s very generous of you, really,”

“Yeah, thanks, man, we appreciate it,”

“Does that mean I’m gonna have piano lessons?”

“Not so fast, monkey. Just because Lucifer agreed to give you lessons doesn’t mean that this conversation is over. There are still a lot of things to consider before we jump into this, ok? Like how many times a week would you have these lessons? Are you really ready to commit to this, because a piano is not a cheap thing and if we buy you one and you get bored in a few weeks and decide to quit, it’ll just be a waste. Not to mention the everyday practice that you’ll have to do if you really want to learn. I want you to know that both daddy and I will be happy and supportive with whatever decision you make, but I want to make sure that you understand and really think about this, ok? This is a big decision,”

“Yes, child. I’m usually not one for spending much time pondering before making a decision, especially one greatly desired, but I have to agree with your mother on this one. Learning an instrument is no easy feat. It takes time and patience, and resolve, qualities rarely found in abundance in young humans, although you seem to be an exception, which, really, is why I agreed to be your teacher. If you do decide to act upon this desire, know that we would have lessons at least twice a week as a start and I would expect you to practice per my directions individually as well. There is no slacking with the Devil after all,”

“Ok. Mommy, daddy, Lucifer, I know that you're all worried that I’m gonna get bored with piano playing and give it up. I know that a lot of kids who play an instrument hate practice and complain about it and you think I’ll do that too. But I promise that I won’t. I promise that I’ll practice every day and won’t get bored. I really, really, really want to learn to play the piano, really, really. I promise I won’t get bored and I'll never complain, just please can I have piano lessons, pretty please?”

And the rest is, as they say, history. She got her piano lessons and true to her word, she never complained. Even when she felt like giving up and going at her piano with whatever’s near. Even when Lucifer made her play the same few bars over and over, and over, and over again, each time feeling herself becoming more irritated. Even when the last thing she wanted was to practice. Each time the memory of her promise came to mind and she would cling to it, remembering the burning desire she felt and regaining her resolve.

Really, it turned out much different than she expected. If she was honest, she never had any intentions of becoming a professional musician. That thought hadn’t even crossed her mind. After all, at the time her greatest ambition was to become the first president of Mars, but sadly, NASA had disappointed her in that regard, not having yet come as far as a colony on Mars. That said, life had a plan of its own when it came to her.

Turned out she had quite the gift when it came to music. Lucifer had noticed it after only a few lessons, something she learnt only years later, when he confessed that it seemed prudent to keep her grounded and focused which is why he kept his observation to himself at the time. That really explained why she received such a high quality piano as her first instrument without even the slightest of uncertainty from her parents.

Lucifer was strict, but always attentive and patient, and she truly believed that she wouldn’t be half as good if not for him. He really was an exceptional teacher. Praise was given where it was due, same for criticism. He never lost his temper or made her feel like she wasn’t good enough. She would never be able to truly express how thankful she was to him for that.

Soon enough her talent began to be noticed. Her music teacher caught on fairly quickly and the next thing she knew, she had a performance scheduled in every school function where a piano solo could be added. Once she also called Chloe and Dan to have a chat with them, telling them what they already knew - that they had a talented, bright daughter. She tried to get them to take Trixie to one of her recommended piano teachers, proclaiming that they were the best of the best and was scandalized when both her parents politely, but very firmly declined, refusing to name their daughter’s teacher. After all, who could be better than the original pianist himself? It took her some time to warm up to Trixie again after that incident.

After a year of regular lessons, Lucifer had asked that he remain anonymous in his position as her teacher. He wasn’t ashamed of her or the fact that he was teaching her. No, quite the contrary. He didn’t wish to steal from her accomplishments by him being, well, the Devil. Of course, his identity still remained unproven to society, but the name was enough to bring upon speculations and rumours. Turned out, Trixie’s talent was enough on its own to do that, but she still respected Lucifer’s wish. After all, he asked so little of anyone, it was the least she could do.

Her mom and Lucifer getting together meant even more lessons and later on, after they moved in together, a new, beautiful piano. For a moment she feared that Lucifer’s new role in her life would somehow change their perfect teacher-student relationship, but her fears turned out needless. His approach didn’t change in the slightest and she loved him more for it both as her teacher and her step-Satan.

The truly unexpected turn was the love of her life. The piano would always be her first love, nothing could change that. But when she was 10, Lucifer and Chloe took her to a symphonic orchestra concert and that’s where she fell head over heels in love. One of the pieces played that night was a violin solo and Trixie’s life was changed forever. She didn’t know why or how, but who truly does when it comes to love? All she knew was that she would not be complete until a violin would be perched between her chin and her collar bone.

It must’ve been faith and, hey, maybe it was, given how her mother was literally created to be in Lucifer’s life and she wouldn’t exist without her. It turned out that the piano wasn’t Lucifer’s only speciality. Next thing she knew, she had a beautiful, dark brown violin and was having her first lesson quite reminiscence of the one she had 2 years prior. And her love affair had begun.

Music somehow became her entire life, not that she was complaining. She started composing when she was 15. Short, simple melodies for the piano at first, which later turned into full page compositions for the violin accompanied with piano. Her first real composition came a year later, however. They say tragedy breeds excellence and unfortunately she can attest to that.

She was 16 when her grandma Penelope Decker died. It wasn’t a quick and peaceful death either. Cancer for 3 months. It was the first time she got to see death in slow motion. She never wanted to experience anything like that ever again. Better quick and brutal than slow and calm, in her opinion.

It took a toll on everyone, of course. Her mother barely left grandma’s side for the entirety of the 3 months and Lucifer in turn barely left hers. Trixie spent half of it with her dad and the other half with them in the hospital, but she only ever felt any real relief in her music.

After her grandmother passed, everything stopped for a moment. Those nights were some of the worst she had ever experienced. Thank Lucifer’s Dad that their house was as big as it was, because seeing her mother grief stricken was enough, she didn’t need to hear her too. But she couldn’t sleep regardless and so she ended up at her piano, mindlessly playing some melody. And one night it turned from something mindless to something special.

She wrote it down and that was that. The funeral was quite lavish and grand, as expected, given her grandma’s celebrity status. She said goodbye, put a rose in her hands and threw a fist full of dirt in the grave, but that was all just for show, not for her. No, she said her true goodbye the only way she knew how to these days.

At the reception, a good hour into the event, she stepped on stage, violin in hand, followed by Lucifer. He sat at the piano, her standing next to him and the room fell in silence. And they played. They played because they grieved. They played because they loved. They played because it hurt. But, most importantly, they played to say goodbye. The melody filled the room and for a moment it was like time had stopped. And maybe for a moment it did.

She thinks of that as her first real performance. It was the first time she felt the music, not played it. Just like Lucifer said. It was the first time when music gave her something that no words or actions could – acceptance. It was the happiest and saddest she’s ever felt.

After that she knew there was nothing else she wanted to do in her life besides music. So, when the time came to decide what was in store for Beatrice Decker's future, the decision was almost too easy. She applied to all the best schools with an exceptional audition, largely thanks to Lucifer’s help and was accepted to all of them. Ultimately she decided to go the traditional route and come fall she was enrolled in Julliard. Saying goodbye to her parents, her Devil and her demon was the second hardest thing she’s ever had to do.

And now here she was. One of the rising stars of her generation at barely 23. Her compositions were coveted for, the next two years of her life already scheduled full with performances. The demand for her caused quite a few disgruntled music appreciators to criticise her choice of accepted appearances, mainly due to her regular performances at LA’s most elite nightclub Lux. She’s worked with a multitude of professional and talented musicians over these past few years, but none of them quite hold a candle to Lucifer. Truth is, she cherishes her performances with him. Music never feels as alive as it does when he accompanies her, which is why she often insists on him being the pianist if one is required. And, well, if she only composes pieces with piano parts in them, that’s her business and artistic right.

So they can whisper and gossip. The Devil’s got her soul and a delusional man is her first choice of pianist. She revels in it, soul and all. Because the truth is, the Devil is her teacher, willingly and without strings attached. And he may not have her soul, but he definitely has her love and trust. And she has his.