Lucifer took a sip from his whiskey, then gently put the glass back on top of the piano. He started playing a slow song, pouring all of his soul into the music.
"Seriously? Again?" Uriel lamented from next to him. "I'd rather you kill me now than having to listen to this again." His voice turned accusatory. "We both know you'd do it, don't we? You'd kill me. Even though I'm your brother. Just get it over with."
Lucifer started singing, ignoring the thing that wasn't his brother. "Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again."
Uriel rolled his eyes but stayed silent, as if he knew it was a lost cause, and he wasn't going to get killed today.
Lucifer gave it his all, his voice thick with emotion as he went through the all too familiar lyrics. They resonated exceptionally well with his current mood. "In restless dreams I walked alone. Narrow streets of cobblestone," he sang, thinking about the countless hours he'd spent walking restlessly through the vast labyrinth of corridors in hell, not knowing where he was going or why, just needing to get out, out, out.
"And in the naked light I saw. Ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening." So many rooms, so many lost souls. So much hatred, and self-loathing, and disgust, and anger. It hadn't bothered him before, but now it did. Now it did, because deep down he knew he was one of them.
"'Fools' said I, 'You do not know. Silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you. But my words, like silent raindrops fell. And echoed in the wells of silence."
On his return, he'd tried something he'd never done before. He tried talking to them. He started with the ones that were here the longest, those who had been punishing themselves for millennia. He told them that the doors were open, that all they needed to do is forgive themselves. None of them seemed to comprehend what he was trying to tell them. They just continued living out their punishments day in, day out, ignoring his pleas.
"And the people bowed and prayed. To the neon God they made," he sang, anger shining through in his words.
He finished the song, pouring everything he had into it, even though nobody but him was there to hear it. When he was done, he turned around, becoming aware of two things. First, that Uriel had disappeared at some point, apparently realising that Lucifer was not going to get trapped in his guilt today. Second, that Amenadiel and Azrael were standing close by the door, staring at him in silence. He hadn't heard them come in, too caught up in what he was doing.
Lucifer cleared his throat. "How long have you been standing there?" he inquired. He looked up to meet their eyes, and the look of pity on both of their faces gave him all the answer he needed.
He waved his hand dismissively. "Just go away. There is no need for all of us to be miserable."
Amenadiel stepped closer. "That is actually why we are here."
Lucifer frowned. "You want to be miserable? Well, you've come to the right place."
Amenadiel came to a stop in front of the piano. "We have a proposal for you."
Lucifer took another sip from his drink, making a face at the bitter aftertaste. Everything had a bitter aftertaste in hell. "I'm not interested."
Amenadiel crossed his arms in front of his chest, frowning. "You haven't even heard our proposal yet."
Instead of replying, Lucifer focussed his attention back on the piano, starting to play a fast, upbeat song. Maybe his brother would finally get the message, and leave.
Amenadiel raised his voice over the sound of the music. "Please, Lucy, at least hear us out."
Lucifer stopped playing again abruptly, leaning back, crossing his arms over his chest, mirroring his brother. "Get it over with, then."
Amenadiel cleared his throat. "Hell can only be ruled by an angel. But none of us want the job," he began.
"I'm with you so far."
Amenadiel hesitated on the next words, uncharacteristically uncertain. "And for the longest time I believed it to be a fair arrangement that you should need to fulfill this task. After all, you rebelled. I thought you deserved it." He paused, locking eyes with Lucifer. "I no longer believe that to be true. I don't think you deserve to be trapped down here any more than I do. Or anybody else for that matter. Hell needs a ruler, but you shouldn't have to be the one to carry the burden alone."
Lucifer stared at him, eyes wide in surprise. "I'm sure I didn't hear that right. Are you volunteering to be king of hell, brother?"
"I think we should share the burden of ruling hell."
"Share?" Lucifer asked incredulously, looking from one of them to the other.
"Take turns," Amenadiel clarified. Lucifer snorted.
"You are aware that hell is not a timeshare condo in Aspen, right?"
Amenadiel glared at him. "Can you please, for once in your life, take something seriously? We are proposing to split the duty of keeping an eye on things down here between the three of us, meaning each one will spend one third of their life here, and the rest as they please. It's not an ideal arrangement, but at least it gives everyone a chance to spend the majority of their time away from hell."
Lucifer frowned, looking over at Azrael, who had been standing quietly by the door for the entire exchange. "You're awfully quiet, sis. Is this really what you want? To be Queen of Hell?"
Azrael sighed, slowly walking over to them. "Actually I could think of a lot of things I'd rather be doing with my time. But I agree with our big brother. We've been letting you do all the dirty work for far too long. It's high time we chipped in."
Lucifer raised an eyebrow at her. "You see yourself commanding a horde of demons, do you?"
Azrael crossed her arms in front of her chest as well, smirking at him. "If you can do it, how hard can it be?" she teased. Lucifer chuckled, shaking his head.
"You two can't be serious."
"We're dead serious," Amenadiel stated, and Azrael nodded.
"What about your son? And Linda?"
Amenadiel's expression hardened. "It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I will still be able to spend a lot of time with them. I guess it will be similar to a mortal father having to go to work."
Lucifer shook his head. "You have people who depend on you. People who need you. I should be the one in hell."
"You have people who need you as well. After you left, Chloe-"
Lucifer raised a hand to stop him, a pained expression crossing his features. "Don't." He stood up, facing Amenadiel. "I rebelled. I did terrible things. I deserve to be here."
As the words tumbled out of his mouth, he realised that Linda had been right, as usual. It appeared forgiving himself wasn't quite as easy a task as he'd thought.
Behind his two siblings, Uriel reappeared, a sad smile on his face. Lucifer swallowed, suddenly uneasy. This was certainly not the right place to be contemplating his sins. He looked down to find the blade once more in his hand.
"Let's take this conversation elsewhere," he stated hurriedly, dropping the blade as quickly as if it had burned his skin, rushing out of the room. Outside in the corridor, he took a deep breath, collecting his thoughts. This was madness. He couldn't actually consider their offer. They didn't deserve this.
He quickly led the two of them to the vast reception hall, sitting down in the massive throne in the middle. There were several of them placed all over hell, all cut from the same black stone, all meant to intimidate whoever stood in front of them. Both sides of the hall were lined with demons standing still, awaiting their king's orders. It was quite an impressive sight.
Lucifer placed his hands on the arm rests, sitting up straight. "Besides, I look much better on here than either of you," he stated jovially.
Amenadiel came closer, not one bit intimidated by the setting. Not that Lucifer had expected him to be. "Why won't you even consider our offer? We are doing this for you."
Lucifer finally snapped, jumping out of the throne and stepping right in front of Amenadiel. "I don't need your pity," he spat, voice cold fury. "I've been doing fine here for millennia without either of you giving a damn, and I'll be doing fine for millennia to come."
Amenadiel nodded. "Yes. We haven't done right by you, brother. But we want to make up for it now. Please. Let us atone for what we did."
Lucifer shook his head, his voice suddenly much more quiet. "I can't let you do this. I can't let you give up so much for me. I'm not worth it."
"Yes you are, you idiot," Azrael said with conviction, enveloping him in a tight hug. Lucifer looked down at her head, a confused expression on his face. He shook his head slightly, giving Amenadiel a pleading look.
"I'm not," he whispered, voice cracking with all the emotions he was trying desperately to hold in check.
Amenadiel stepped even closer, putting his hands on either side of Lucifer's face, forcing him to look him straight in the eye. "You are. You always were. And I am deeply sorry that it took me so long to realise it, brother."
Lucifer took a deep breath, refusing to cry in front of his brother. He looked down at Azrael, then back up to meet Amenadiel's eyes. "Fine," he said in a quiet voice, hardly able to believe that he was actually agreeing to their insane plan.
Chloe sat at the kitchen counter in her apartment, preparing herself a sandwich. She wasn't really hungry, she did it more to have something to occupy her mind. Trixie was staying at Dan's for the night, which had been a frequent occurrence over the last few weeks that had somehow turned into months.
Everybody around her kept giving her well-meaning advice, asking her to go out with them in the hopes that she would meet somebody, would finally pull herself out of this hole she'd buried herself in.
She tried to keep up appearances, mostly for Trixie's sake, but she found herself time and again just going through the motions, a certain numbness seeping into every aspect of her life. The first few weeks had been terrible, every little thing had reminded her of his absence. She would sit in the interrogation room, having to force herself to focus because she kept noticing the gaping hole left by Lucifer's absence.
Why was this so hard? She'd worked as a police officer a long time before he came into her life. Why was every single aspect of her work suddenly reminding her of him? The same when she ran into Maze or Amenadiel. The connection to Lucifer was so strong in her mind, she couldn't bare to be around them for too long. She knew it wasn't fair to them, but she couldn't change the way she felt.
She hadn't been to Lux a single time since he left. Or any other night club for that matter. She stopped listening to the radio because a certain song would come on, and she would have the most vivid memory of Lucifer performing it, sitting behind the piano, smirking at her, breathing life into the words.
But what haunted her most of all, was thinking of him as he was right now, alone, trapped in hell for eternity, nobody there to keep him company. It was utterly heartbreaking to imagine.
And then one day, the constant anxiety just faded, leaving her numb. She knew it wasn't healthy. Knew she probably should talk to somebody about the way she was feeling, or rather the fact that she wasn't feeling much of anything, but she never managed to muster up enough conviction to go through with it. It seemed easier to just go on, until maybe one day things would turn back to normal on their own.
When she felt something, it was mostly anger at herself. She'd never seen herself as somebody who defined themselves by their relationships. She didn't see herself as somebody who sat at home, feeling sorry for themselves over things that they couldn't change. And yet here she was.
Chloe sighed, putting the finished sandwich on a plate, staring at it. Then she looked up, only to see Lucifer standing around awkwardly in her living room. He lifted one hand, making a small wave, giving her a strange half-smile. Chloe made an undignified yelp, falling backwards of the stool she'd been sitting on.
He must have moved faster than humanly possible, because instead of crashing backwards to the floor, she found herself in his arms, hovering only inches above the ground. He lifted her up effortlessly, putting her back on the stool, staying close.
"I apologise, detective. I should have knocked."
She stared at him, frozen in place, while thoughts tumbled over each other in her mind. She felt unreasonably angry at him. She wanted to hit him, and wipe that stupid goofy smile off his face for leaving her like that. She knew it wasn't his fault, knew he had to do it, and yet her hand was itching to slap him.
Another part of her wanted to wrap her arms around him and never let go. Everybody else be damned. She'd just hold on to him, and he'd have no other choice but to stay forever.
She did neither of those things. Instead, she surprised herself by leaning forward and kissing him. It was just a chaste peck on the lips, then she leaned back again, shocked at her own actions.
He looked at her with surprise and delight, like he couldn't believe this was really happening. It was the same expression he wore every time she kissed him, or admitted her feelings for him in some form. It was an utterly adorable look that seemed to be reserved solely for her.
Apparently her self-control had gone completely out the window, because she leaned forward again, kissing him properly this time. In all her fantasies of them making out, it had always been him calling the shots, him taking charge, him kissing her breathless. She had always assumed that's how it would be, given his character and his experience.
Yet every time they actually kissed, he was uncharacteristically subdued, almost timid. He always took a moment to respond at all, as if he were in shock, and when he did it was with a certain shy reverence that she never would have expected from him.
Chloe pulled back, shocked at her own impulsiveness. What the hell was she doing? Maybe he was just paying her a visit, and he would be gone from her life again in no time. She really had no business kissing him, possibly making things even worse than they already were.
Lucifer looked at her with a dazed expression, like he needed time to recover from kissing her, and Chloe marvelled how in the world she could have this effect on him when he'd kissed countless other people over the long span of his life, probably knowing every single thing there was to know on the topic.
"Umm," Chloe said, staring at him. She moved off the stool quickly, hurrying to the other side of the counter, putting some distance in between them, before she did anything stupid like kiss him again. Or slap him. Or yell at him. She shook her head slightly, annoyed at herself. She usually wasn't this impulsive. Or overdramatic, for that matter. She briefly closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. You can this., she told herself. You can do this, whatever this is.
Lucifer followed her sudden retreat with his eyes, making no move to follow her. The dazed, happy expression on his face vanished, replaced by something much colder. Chloe mentally slapped herself. Of course. He probably, on some level, still thought she was afraid of him, and now she had all but run away from him.
"Hey," Lucifer said, sounding strangely shy, apparently just as much at a loss for words as she was.
Chloe cleared her throat. "Hey," she replied, fidgeting in place, not sure what to do with herself. "How have you been?" she asked, cringing immediately at her own question. He had been in hell. She doubted very much that there was a possible positive answer.
He gave her a bright smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Fine," he said. Then he shook his head, frowning. "Miserable, actually," he said honestly.
Chloe gave him a sad smile, surprised at his frankness. "Me, too."
His smile brightened a bit, then he got serious again immediately. "Sorry. I didn't mean to imply that I was happy that you're miserable, I was just- I mean-" He rubbed his hand over his eyes, and Chloe noticed for the first time the dark circles under his eyes, and the tiredness in his features.
She decided to give him a break. "I know what you mean," she said.
Lucifer nodded gratefully, looking around. "You're not seeing anybody, are you?" he inquired casually.
Chloe had to chuckle. Hadn't she just kissed him? Twice? Besides, she hadn't even seen much outside of her apartment, when she wasn't working or making an effort to go somewhere with Trixie.
Lucifer was looking at her, leaning forward in anticipation. For a moment, she considered making a joke about seeing someone, just to get back at him for what he'd put her through during the last months.
"No," she said simply.
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Good. That's good. I mean, of course it would have been fine if you had been seeing somebody, it's none of my business, really, it's been quite some time, and even if not, it's fine, I-" He shut his mouth with a snap, stopping the flow of words.
He drew his hand through his hair, leaving it a ruffled mess. "How long has it been up here?"
"Four months, sixteen days," Chloe replied without needing to think about it. Lucifer nodded.
"I see," he said, then was quiet again.
Chloe fidgeted in place, finally working up the courage to ask him what she'd wanted to ask him from the first moment she'd seen him. "Are you back on earth for good or are you just-," she waved her hand around nervously, "-visiting?"
"It's complicated," he said evasively, and Chloe took in a sharp breath, preparing herself to hear I can't stay for long.
"I'll have to go back eventually. But I get to come back here again. We've made- an arrangement."
He nodded. "Amenadiel, Azrael and I are going to share the burden of ruling hell."
Chloe just stared at him, not sure she had heard that right. "Share?" she asked dumbly.
"Seriously?" she asked, frowning.
"Seriously," he said, shaking his head like he couldn't believe his own words.
"How did that happen?"
"They suggested it. They thought it wouldn't be fair to ask me to do it alone."
"They didn't seem to mind before, did they?" she said, somewhat angrier than intended. The thought of Lucifer alone in hell for millennia while none of his siblings stood by him was making her feel a little resentful.
He regarded her, a fond smile on his face at seeing her angry on his behalf. "They did not, no. But they are trying to make up for it."
"So that means you get to spend two thirds of your time on earth?" She almost added with me but it sounded very presumptuous in her head.
"Who is Azrael anyway?" Chloe asked, then she waved her hand. "Never mind, you can tell me all about your family another day."
"That's going to be a very, very long day."
She chuckled, looking forward to Lucifer opening up a little about his past. It was all still such a mystery to her.
"I believe I owe you a date," he said, apropos of nothing. He sounded nervous, as if he was afraid she might turn him down.
She smiled at him. She seemed to be doing that a lot recently. "That's how you want to do it?"
He locked eyes with her, suddenly very serious. "Only if you want to. Always, only if you wanted to."
It sounded like there was a lot more to his words than just him asking her out, like they had a much deeper meaning for him.
He continued, still holding her gaze, emotions flickering in quick succession over his face. "I know I am asking a lot of you. I know it can't be easy to look at me and not see- my other side. I would understand if you don't want to pursue things any further. I would hope that we could still work together."
Chloe moved back around the counter, stepping close to him. She lifted her right hand and gently placed it on his face. "I am not afraid of you. I told you, I'm sorry for how I reacted after I found out, I wish I could take it all back, but I can't. I know with absolute certainty that you would never harm me, or Trixie, or anybody I care about." She looked him straight in the eye, willing him to understand. "I am not afraid of you," she repeated, and kissed him.
The kiss lasted longer than any other they had shared so far, turning from a shy affirmation into something much more passionate. Chloe came up for air at some point, wondering when exactly he had lifted her up to sit on top of the kitchen counter, his body pressed flush against hers. She had moved her hand from his face to his hair at some point during the proceedings, and it showed, his hair was an unruly mess. His pupils were blown, his eyes almost all black, a faint red flicker visible around the iris. He looked utterly wrecked, and all they'd done had been to kiss for a couple of minutes.
He stepped back abruptly, bringing some space between them. "How about tonight?" he said, sounding breathless, voice even deeper than usual.
Chloe was inclined to jump of the counter and continue where they had left off. Hadn't they waited long enough? What if another supernatural drama came up before tonight? Lucifer seemed like he wouldn't put up much resistance if she tried to move him in the direction of the bedroom right then and there.
Lucifer gave her a panicky look and she realised she'd left him hanging for quite a while. Maybe it was better if they waited, and talked first. It was already afternoon. Tonight wasn't that far away. It would give her a chance to collect her thoughts first.
"It's a date," she said, making a small hop off the counter, delighted at the big smile spreading over his face at her words. She almost stepped forward to kiss him again, but she knew exactly how that would end.
"Right," he said, beaming at her, "I guess I better be off then. Got a big date to prepare for. Shall we meet at seven at Lux?"
"Oh? You're not picking me up?" she said, all fake indignation.
He was immediately flustered. "No, of course I can come to-" She put a hand on his chest, smiling brightly at him. "Relax, I'm just kidding. I prefer to drive myself."
She looked at her hand on his chest, marvelling at the fact that she was allowed to do that, that she didn't have to keep her impulses to touch him in check any longer. She looked up, meeting his eyes again. He seemed so impossible young, so vulnerable that she felt the irrational need to protect him. He was the devil, for God's sake. She'd seen time and again that he was more than capable of taking care of himself.
Yet, looking at him, she felt the urge to wrap her arms around him, to keep him safe from the world. Well, hadn't she just decided not to suppress these impulses around him any longer? She took a deep breath, stepping closer while moving her hand on his chest around to embrace him, leaning her head against his chest. He froze for a split-second, clearly surprised, then his arms came around her in turn, and he lowered his head slightly to rest his chin on the crown of her head.
She let out a deep breath that felt like she had been holding it forever, and decided to just enjoy this while it lasted. She was sure there was going to be more drama later on, she didn't imagine being in a relationship with the devil was going to be a walk in the park. But right now, wrapped in his arms, knowing that she would get to see him, that they were going to have this, those problems seemed far away, and insignificant. They were exactly where they were supposed to be. The rest they would figure out together.