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Cheesy Noodles

“You look shattered.”

 

 

Gary wasn’t sure how to answer Clive about that. The other man had called him via Skype all the way from his flat back in Surrey. There was no way Gary would agreed to let Clive call in from the restaurant. Miranda practically lived there or, well, she had when he’d been chef. After everything months ago with the Tamara debacle and them going pear-shaped maybe she didn’t stop by the grill at all. Somehow, though, he doubted it, and the last thing he wanted was for her stumble in and accidentally overhear him.

 

 

Yes, he was a right coward. Ta ever so for asking.

 

 

Well, Clive, I bartend for Satan and his chief demon, it can be rather taxing…

 

 

Probably not the best way to approach everything since then both Clive and his new boyfriend, Rupert, would assume that Gary was going mental along with all his other problems.

 

 

Instead, he sighed and raked a hand through his curls. It was his day off and it was close to two, he’d slept in, and hadn’t yet hit the shower. So, sue him. The last couple weeks had been rough. While his recovery from being shot---thanks there, boss---was going quite well, things had utterly hit the fan with that corrupt cop. Malcolm had been MIA for a while after mistaking Gary for Lucifer and attacking him. Then the crazy bloke had resurfaced, framed the boss for murder of a preacher of all people, and left Lucifer on the lam for a few days. It had settled itself out, mostly, but Gary’d been the one dragged into extra questioning when his “brother” couldn’t be found. (Long story, stupid American medical system and a need to fake some connection to Lucifer for enough insurance to pay his bills. Being shot was not cheap.)

 

 

In other words, yes, he was knackered, tired, and utterly spent, and he must look like immortal hell because Clive had never been one to mince words with anyone. It was something normally Gary respected about the other man. Now, he just found it annoying when that scrutiny was directed at him.

 

 

“Oy! Gary, can you hear me, mate?”

 

 

He nodded and rubbed at his eyes this time. “The job here is complicated.”

 

 

“Too many egomaniacs in Hollywood?” Clive wheedled. “Whoever would have thought? Gary, you can come home, you know. Rupert…somehow…is Miranda and Stevie’s best customer. He has a lot of nieces and nephews and is always in their shop. He sometimes has talks with Stevie and she says…”

 

 

“I do not need to be match made. The last time you and Stevie tried to help, I ended up mostly naked in Miranda’s kitchen in front of her Mum.”

 

 

“Would that I had seen that.”

 

 

Gary narrowed his eyes. When he’d first been hired at the grill on his return from Malaysia, he’d had a small bit of a crush on Clive, which had been shot down mostly because Clive had his number. He only came off as clued together and mostly responsible when compared to Miranda. Deep down, Gary couldn’t commit to anything---not a job, not a country, and certainly not a partner. However, occasionally, his friend teased him a bit with what could have beens. Though, clearly, Clive was very far gone on the exceedingly patient Rupert, who served as a soft counterpoint to Clive’s sardonic (though rightly funny) edges.

 

 

“It was not fun. Some things get broken, mate, and they stay that way.”

 

 

“Of course they do if you go about seven thousand plus miles away and never come back!”

 

 

“I broke her heart.”

 

 

“You cocked it all up, not denying that, but if Stevie thinks there’s a chance…she knows Miranda better than anyone.”

 

 

“And I really should have explained to her about Tamara from the off. You were right, as usual.”

 

 

Clive sat up straighter (not much of a feat for him as he was barely bigger than the miniscule Stevie). “I am. It’s the cross I must bear. However, I just…Gary, I have to warn you that if you don’t come back soon, you’ll miss any shot you ever had with her.”

 

 

“Maybe it’s for the best.”

 

 

“Or maybe you could even explain to me how you picked up a green card wife. Almost a year later, and I have no idea how that even happened.”

 

 

“I…I got into a legal scrape,” he admitted. “It was stupid, but I got arrested in Hong Kong and was looking at some real trouble, time and all that. Her father is a fairly well-placed solicitor and so he helped me out to help her get the green card she needed to study in England. I just…it always sounded wrong to admit I buggered it up enough in Hong Kong to literally need to be bailed out. I didn’t think that would make Miranda like me any more than the just trying to hide the green card thing as long as possible.”

 

 

“Is that why you got the sack too?”

 

 

“Yes, my friend didn’t want anyone with a record or who’d crossed the authorities working for him.”

 

 

Clive set his face on his palms and leaned closer across his kitchen table. “What did you do?”

 

 

“Doesn’t matter much; it was stupid and I was far too soused. Like I said, it’s better this way. Miranda deserves someone better and with his head screwed on right. You called it right away when we met; I don’t have that going for me.”

 

 

Although being responsible for Lux more often than not, and trying to keep himself and sometimes the Prince of Darkness, himself, afloat was growing him up very quickly.

 

 

Clive shook his head. “Well, you have being stubborn down. I…Stevie’s going to kill me because I swore I wouldn’t tell you this, but Miranda is dating and it’s getting serious.”

 

 

A massive pain lanced through his stomach, something sharper and more biting than the bullet Malcolm had sent spiraling his way months ago. “What?”

 

 

“Some reporter name Mike. I’d like to say he’s an utter tosser and a complete waste of her time, but the worst you can say for him is that he was weepy over the loss of the family dog and girls like that sort of thing, a man in touch with his feelings and all that.”

 

 

“Is he at least ugly?”

 

Clive grinned. “See, I knew you weren’t all about being the bigger man deep down and letting Miranda move on. Alas, no. He’s not as tall or fit overall as you, but he’s cute in that Clark Kent sort of way. Rupert and I would both have to be honest about that.” He sighed. “Gary, come home already or at least ring Miranda up. You’re going to lose her forever. I’ve seen the way Mike looks at her when she can’t see him. He’ll be sitting at the table and she’ll come up to the bar and the bloke’s besotted. He’ll be the type to actually propose to her some day!”

 

 

Gary tried to remember how to breathe when Clive said that. His friend was always one hundred percent honest so it had to be true. He and Lucifer had a bit in common on that score. If he thought Mike was going to get engaged to Miranda sooner rather than later, then it was both likely true and probably pretty obvious. Well, to everyone but Miranda who had some mental idea that no one could ever really love her.

 

 

Penny had a hand in that. But so did he and mixed signals in college and bumming around Surrey afterwards…after everything with Tamara. If Mike was a good bloke who actually made Miranda feel good about herself, then he was exactly what she deserved, especially after Gary had decimated her.

 

 

“Then, if that’s what she fancies, it’ll be good for her.”

 

 

“Say that not being pale as a ghost and looking like you want to vomit. Gary, don’t be some kind of noble idiot. Come home, say you’re sorry, and fix it. Mike’s a nice enough fellow but he’s not you, and he’s not going to be you.”

 

 

“Meaning he’s mature enough not to have his head up his arse, and he knows what he actually wants in life. Hell, his job is about a hundred times better than mine.” Although Gary was positive not as interesting. “I let her go, mate. It’s best for her.”

 

 

Clive shook his head. “I’ve got to get on. It’s my turn to cook dinner and I’ve yet to start the curry. You need to admit that letting Miranda go is safest and easiest for you, and that when she really is off the market, you’ll hate yourself forever. Come home, please. What about for Christmas? You’re not honestly going to stay in the States forever, are you?”

 

 

“The job pays well.”

 

 

That wasn’t untrue. Lucifer felt really badly---Satan had a conscience, who knew---and had tripled his pay after the whole being shot debacle. And, okay, it was definitely a bit mad but Lux was growing on him. It was sometimes dangerous, definitely unexpected, but Lucifer and, uh, Ms. Smith in her own way had grown on him. They needed to be looked out for, protected a bit, even if they were all powerful denizens of the underworld. At the same time, they were utterly clueless about human nature. It was complicated, but if he left for home, he’d definitely miss the (mostly) people he knew in L.A.

 

 

 

“You’ve been in love with Miranda since you were twenty, you said so yourself. You think almost sixteen years would be time enough to do something.” Clive sighed again, long and theatrically. “Gary, if you don’t do something now, you’re going to end up alone, and I’d hate that for you. Granted, Miranda’s not my cuppa, but the way you two are with each other…when it’s going well…it’s a lovely sight. Come home.”

 

 

“I…”

 

 

“For Christmas. I can’t even imagine a happy one without you here. Promise that much.”

 

 

Gary nodded. “Alright, I promise. I’ll come out for the holidays. Now, go make your boy some spicy chicken. I’ve got a busy day planned.”

 

 

A lie if ever there was one. He was going to sit around in his pyjamas and continue watching the cooking network. It just sounded a lot better to imply he was busy and not moping, which he wasn’t, not at all.

 

 

“Good, then I’ve only a few months to wait. Of course, if you want to drop by earlier…”

 

 

Gary moved the cursor over. “Bye Clive.” Then, he exed out of Skype.

 

 

Sighing, he pulled his comforter around himself and turned up the volume on the telly. He was not going to think about Miranda and some Clark Kentish fellow off enjoying the travels only a reporter could, enjoying Kenya or Paris or wherever else while he was on a story. Nope, not at all.

 

**

 

Gary bolted upright a few hours later and yelped when, for lack of a better turn of phrase, he was staring back at himself.

 

 

“What the bloody hell?”

 

 

His boss, Lucifer Morningstar aka the Devil incarnate, took a step back. For a moment, he looked like he might take a seat in Gary’s beat up recliner he’d picked up at the Goodwill off Wilshire. Then, Lucifer sniffed at it, his lip curling up just a bit, and he stayed standing off by the telly.

 

 

“Operative word, that.”

 

 

Gary sat up and checked the time on his mobile. “It’s three p.m. on my day off, and somehow my boss, who I know doesn’t have a key to my apartment, is standing here watching me sleep.”

 

 

“Oh, you wish,” Lucifer purred.

 

 

And nope, no, no way. No matter how much Gary told himself that he was getting used to being Satan’s doppleganger, moments like this left him completely confused and trying to get on an even keel all over again. He was exhausted, had been having bad dreams while dozing by the telly of sodding Mike who had somehow morphed into his mind to be an Adonis, and now the Devil with his face was standing there in probably Armani, looking like a million bucks, and being too condescending to even sit in Gary’s crappy furniture.

 

 

Surreal sure.

 

 

Annoying as fuck, definitely.

 

 

“I do not want to ever do anything with you,” Gary sputtered.

 

 

“Well, that’s definitely off the table now,” Lucifer winked. “Have you bathed today, Preston? Seriously.” He sighed and flitted about the flat, turning on all the lights. “Alright, fair point, I don’t go in for that sort of kink. Having a twin bred that out of me ever, but it’s easy to get a rise out of you.” He turned and grinned. “That part is fun. You’re easier to set off in some ways than Amenadiel.”

 

 

“We’re not actually related.”

 

 

“Not what the good people of Blue Cross, Blue Shield think,” Lucifer said. “But, I’ve need of you. I’ll make it worth your while so please be a dear and get cleaned---I cannot take you over to sit like this---and get ready. I need to be back to see her before Mazikeen leaves for Modesto.”

 

 

Gary blinked, trying to keep up with, well, anything.

 

 

“What? I’m babysitting?”

 

 

“No,” Lucifer sniffed, almost sounding wounded. “Don’t let your mind get prurient, Preston.”

 

 

“You’ve shagged probably two-thirds of L.A. How is some love child dropped on your doorstep out of nowhere that big a stretch, boss?”

 

 

Lucifer pursed his lips in something that would have been a pout if it wasn’t on the face of the literal Prince of Lies. Maybe it still was. “I said ‘sitting.’ I’ve a family member in town and while I check on some pressing business, someone has to watch her. Amenadiel is still badly injured from his run in with Malcolm and the arsehole using Maze’s blade. Mazikeen---and this is vexing even to me---has decided to care for my brother in his convalescence. She’s taking him up to Northern California and, yes, the far from me and my bullshit was not just implied but shouted about. So, I have no one else around in the know to help me with my family. You’re elected, now get showered!”

 

 

Gary stumbled to his feet and towards his bathroom. “I’m going to sit for an angel?”

 

 

“Oh no, don’t be daft. Mum’s a goddess.”

 

 

“Huh?”

**

 

Gary wasn’t sure what he expected when Lucifer told him he was meeting the Goddess of All Creation. Not at all. He’d briefly met Amenadiel (now that his boss’s brother wasn’t actively trying to kill Lucifer), and it hadn’t occurred to him until then that the, uh, first family could be so wide ranging in how they appeared. He wasn’t sure what nationality or race to expect and, well, having glimpsed Amenadiel’s wings briefly too, Gary wasn’t even sure if the Goddess would come with those as well or something completely different.

 

 

For all he knew actual deities were nothing more than rays of sentient light and maybe, okay definitely, being a huge Who fan wasn’t helping his overactive imagination much.

 

 

What he had not expected was a woman almost as tall as he was with a model’s body, the expression of a boardroom shark on her nominally smiling face, and a dress that had to be borrowed from Ms. Smith as it was too tight and made entirely of leather. God help them all, if the Goddess---did she have a name outside of “Mum” because Gary was not calling her that---bent over even a bit.

 

 

They’d be seeing far more than they should, and he figured Lucifer would need therapy daily forever.

 

 

But this woman was definitely not what he’d been expecting. He kind of figured the mother of all things would, well, seem at least maternal. Maybe be a hippie type in long, flowing skirts and Birkenstocks. Granted, there wasn’t a chance she’d find that in Ms. Smith’s wardrobe, but she didn’t exactly scream maternal to him either, more like she and Penny would get along well.

 

 

He swallowed hard and didn’t stray from Lucifer’s side as his boss led him into the well-appointed and spotless kitchen in his penthouse. Gary didn’t know why Lucifer needed a professional grade one upstairs but there were mixers and a six burner range he’d have sold his soul for up here. Did the Devil bake? Was that a thing?

 

 

He’d have to ask Lucifer later. If so, well, Gary had some savory muffin recipes he bet Lucifer had never thought of.

 

 

However, the Goddess of all Creation---he’d think of her as GOC for short in his head at least---was staring at him with a slightly conniving yet oddly relieved smile. “Michael you’re here!”

 

 

Gary laughed so hard he doubled over. No, no, this was not happening. He’d spent far too long dealing with being mistaken just for Lucifer. He was not getting it now for a twin---you know, Michael the Archangel that he might have googled on the way over cause he really didn’t remember confirmation class worth a toss---he’d never even met.

 

 

GOC’s face soured. “Lucifer, why is your brother laughing at me?”

 

 

Lucifer sighed although seemed oddly chastised, which was something Gary had only seen very briefly around Chloe Decker. “Mum, I know you’re adjusting to the body you’re in.”

“Yes, useless human meat sacks. These poor creatures are practically blind and deaf. Don’t get me started on how physically weak they are. Why your father spent eons so-called perfecting them, I’ll never understand.”

 

 

Right then. Apparently Gary did not personally owe his existence to GOC. That probably wasn’t a good thing to be reminded of right now. Wait, would she smite him if he pissed her off? Could she?

 

 

Maybe he really needed to listen to Clive and cut back to Surrey as soon as possible.

 

 

“Yes, well,” Lucifer coughed. Seriously, the devil could look abashed. Gary would find this both fascinating and a great way to lord ammo over his boss later if, frankly, the Goddess didn’t scare him a bit too. “Mum, you’re not able to sense divinity or the lack thereof anymore in this case. This here, and I know it’s odd but Mazikeen really outdid herself in finding a creative way to torture me, is Gary Preston. He’s utterly human but happens to look like yours truly and, naturally, by extension my useless twin.”

 

 

“Michael isn’t useless!” She narrowed her eyes at her son, and Lucifer actually seemed to hesitate, looking down at his shoes instead of facing her. Weird. So sodding weird. “And what?”

 

 

“Yes, my very useful brother who was instrumental in expelling me from Heaven. Love that one.” Lucifer sighed. “Right, I don’t have time to explain everything to either of you. You’ll have to ferret it all out as you go. However, this is the head chef for Lux. He’s a nice enough git, and he is going to help you do what you want anyway, Mum.”

 

 

“Get back to heaven?”

 

 

Gary blanched. “Um no. I’m alive, and I really would like to stay that way.”

 

 

Lucifer pinched the bridge of his nose. “No, mother. He’s going to help you learn to cook the human way. Mazikeen mentioned before she left to take care of business that you wanted to learn to cook macaroni and cheese, yes?”

 

 

The GOC frowned and quirked her head at Lucifer. Gary swallowed hard. The motion was normal enough but the stilted way she did it, almost like a bird of prey and not a human, revealed to him so clearly exactly what was lurking under the skin there. The Goddess was many things, but she’d never been human or in a mortal body before, and she was clearly not used to it in the least.

 

“Why yes, the cheesy noodles that mothers make to please their children. I would very much like to learn to cook that for you.”

 

 

Lucifer nodded. “Great, well, I have to go make sure you’re not actually a murderer, Mum, and while I do that, Preston will teach you the fine art of calorific filled and gluten rich nightmares. That does sound like a plan, doesn’t it?”

 

 

Gary yipped as he processed that last part. “Wait, what? She killed someone?”

 

 

The Goddess shrugged. “No, I did not. The body I woke up in when I escaped from hell obviously led a wicked life, hence my ability to possess her. Anyway, whatever happened to cause her demise, she was killed alongside some poor man and both had icepicks through the base of their skulls. I didn’t do that.”

 

 

Gary looked at Lucifer. “You’re both joking, right? Is this some hazing the new bloke thing? Look, I have adjusted to your craziness before, boss, but I really do not want to be murdered by the Goddess of All Creation. I think that’s a bit much.”

 

 

He should have taken door number two with the Hell geese back when, really.

 

 

Lucifer shook his head. “I am only verifying Mum’s protestations of innocence. She’s crafty, and I sometimes have a hard time trusting her.”

 

 

“You always were a suspicious child, even back then.”

 

 

“But, I do not believe this is the case. However, the detective is very much tracking this murder down and I need to make sure everything is on the up and up and cleared for Mum before she does.”

 

 

“So, basically lie by action to your partner.”

 

 

“It’s not a lie. I’m just going to solve the case of the murder before the detective does, and, Preston, Mum swore she didn’t do it, so I’m going to clearly find that’s the case.”

 

Gary sighed. “I just don’t want to be smited or smote or smitten, whichever.”

 

 

GOC shook her head. Again, it was a jerky motion, as if she’d learned to do it from watching telly and it wasn’t her natural bent. “I wouldn’t hurt someone who reminded me so strongly of my boys. Besides, I really do want to learn to make the cheesy noodles. It’s what good mothers make. The electronic, flickering box said so.”

 

 

“Wow, I guess we should be thankful that was the only commercial she became obsessed with?” Gary asked.

 

 

Lucifer shook his head. “She bought a grocery cart’s worth of every cheese in the store. I’m lucky I have a walk in freezer up here. The point is you two play nice. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Cheers and all that.”

 

 

It was probably not Gary’s imagination that Lucifer practically ran away from his mother. Perfect. The possible murderess (please God don’t let that be true) was looking at him like an expectant child or, well, sometimes like Miranda did when she’d talked him into bad ideas at uni. Or after uni. Or six months ago. Whenever.

 

 

“Well, brilliant, I guess we’ll get started on the lessons.”

 

 

“I won’t kill you, you know.”

 

 

“Uh, thanks?”

 

 

“I mean, I can’t right now because I don’t have my powers, and I’d prefer not to get my hands sticky with actual human blood. How unbecoming.”

 

 

“Not helping, Goddess.”

 

 

“But, that all said, I mean it. You remind me too much of my twins to hurt. Besides, I really do think making cheesy noodles will make Lucifer happier with me. I know I’m the one who advised his father to send him to Hell in the first place, but look the box said they’d make him happy.”

 

Gary groaned. He was beginning to understand exactly why Lucifer had stuck him with the sitting duty. He patted the Goddess on her shoulder, gratified she didn’t rip his arm off. It still felt like a 50-50 thing in his gut. “Well, let’s see what we can make, right?”

 

**

 

Four hours, one exploded oven, and three burned disasters later, and they did have two edible bowls of mac and cheese readied for when Lucifer---who was far too posh to even eat such a thing, assuming he consumed things that weren’t Scotch---arrived home. Hopefully the Devil came back with one hundred percent confirmation that GOC wasn’t a murderer. That would make Gary feel so much better.

 

 

However, while the three dishes the Goddess had insisted on cooking by herself were varying degrees of charcoal briquette, Gary’d created one on his own that had a mix of cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack with just a bit of ricotta added in among the ziti noodles and a garlic and crouton crust. The added bits of prosciutto were an inspired touch if he did say so himself. The Goddess “helped” him with that, mostly by taking items out of the fridge and stirring things. She was safest at that. Though to mollify her, he’d been able to find a box of the blue Kraft kind and she’d made that herself.

 

 

“See, and now we have both of cheesy noodle dishes,” he said, deferring to her idiom. “The blue kind is pretty good, Goddess. My own mum would make me that on days I was feeling sick and home from primary school. That or chicken noodle soup direct from the tin are the best ways to make a sick child well, guaranteed.”

 

 

“Do you think he’ll like it?” she asked, and it was odd to see such wide, hopeful eyes in such an ancient being.

 

 

Logically, yes, Lucifer was old as well, but except for being an unabashed hedonist, Lucifer mostly acted like a normal human being. A delusional one, sure, but more or less average. The Goddess was obviously other from the way she moved to her bearing. And yet…she just wanted to think things could be magically fixed with a dish and an I’m sorry. It was so very childlike.

 

 

Gary leaned across the island even as the Goddess managed somehow and without flashing him, thank whoever, to get onto a stool across from him. “Sometimes, Goddess…”

 

 

“You could call me ‘Mum’ too. I don’t mind.”

 

 

He blanched at that. “I have one of my own, and that would be…I need some lines here because my life is too odd without it, Goddess.”

 

 

“Fair enough. It is nice that a human respects me. You always seemed like ants to me, although those serve more of a purpose on earth. Their colonies feed other animals. Humans mostly seem to destroy everything they touch. I have no idea what my ex-husband was thinking. You’re more like demons than angels, a total step down.”

 

 

Gary took in several deep breaths and buried his offense. He loved his arms and other bits and intended to keep them. Upsetting the GOC would be a great way to have them ripped off. “I suppose from your perspective, but I’m glad you tolerate me. I’ve never Goddess-sat before.”

 

 

“You are not sitting on me now. Do you wish to do that?”

 

 

“No, I mean…sorry, I meant I’ve never watched over Goddess before. Been called on to molly coddle you, haven’t I?” He sighed and spooned out his creation and hers on a plate. Both still steamed, but he figured after being so obsessed with cheesy noodles GOC should get a chance to enjoy them. “Wait a minute, they’re still rather hot.”

 

 

The Goddess didn’t heed him. He should have expected that. He figured she didn’t listen to anyone and one mere mortal would be especially easy to ignore. She bit into the steaming stuff he’d made and yipped and fanned her hand in front of her mouth. “What sorcery is this?”

 

 

Sighing, Gary filled a cup of cool water and handed it to her. “I tried to warn you. The cheese is still very hot. You’ve just burned the roof of your mouth.”

 

 

“I’m a goddess!”

 

 

“You’re in a human body,” he reminded quietly. “It’s limiting, I’m sure, but just take your time and be careful, Goddess. Next time, blow on it a bit and approach slowly, yeah?”

 

 

She nodded and stirred at his mac and cheese with her fork. “It will work, right?”

 

 

“You really sent Lucifer to Hell?”

 

 

“I did. His father wanted…after the rebellion, he wanted to eradicate Lucifer from existent. His siblings, the couple dozen who sided with him, my husband merely killed. It was painful and my heart felt like it has never stopped bleeding from that moment.”

 

 

“I’m sorry.” Gary decided not to pry about exactly how Lucifer had rebelled. He sort of had an idea from the Bible and pop culture, but he figured the version he knew like everything else with his boss wasn’t completely the true story. “But you said Lucifer was going to be different?”

 

 

“Yes, my husband was going to rewrite everything so that no one would even remember Lucifer had existed, not even Michael. He and I are equally powerful. He could not change my mind like that. I would always know, and it would have been utter agony. So I begged for a compromise, even though he said he needed an example about why to obey for our children. Humans were no more than crawling apes at the time, not really, but they were beginning to be a problem after death. The violent, bad ones had no real place in the Silver City. As a result, Hell was necessary. Lucifer was, to be honest, the only one of our children strong enough to reign over it anyway. I…it was that or have the ache of knowing him but being the only one who would have known he’d ever existed.” She sighed and, for a moment, her eyes seemed shiny but that was perhaps Gary’s imagination. “I wanted to save his life. It was the only compromise my ex would come to.”

 

 

“He hated Hell.”

 

 

“He’s alive. That’s more than he could have had.”

 

 

“Does he know this? That God didn’t give you much of a choice?”

 

 

“I haven’t explained it to him yet. I thought…a family dinner with him and me and the noodles. I hoped I could make him understand that I love all my children. I’d never wish ill on any of them. Their Father…he could never see reason and gave me an impossible choice that wasn’t one at all.” She dropped her fork and pushed her plate away. “But it’s foolish, isn’t it? It’s eons too late to make things up to my son, right?”

 

 

Gary stroked his chin. “I left a bird back home.”

 

 

“You have a pet?”

 

 

“Right…sorry…I mean a girl I cared very much about. I lied to her even if I was trying to spare her pain, and it made it so much worse. Now, she’s probably going to marry another guy, a better guy from what I hear. I want to go home to England so badly and sweep her up in my arms and kiss it better, beg her to take me back, and I don’t know if it’s too late and it’s only been six months. I guess, end of the day, you can only try.”

 

 

“And will you try with this not-a-bird of yours?” GOC’s gaze was so exacting. Like her son, she never blinked. It was maddening.

 

 

“I want to, but I don’t think I’m very good for her.”

 

 

“Well, I know I’m excellent for my son so trying to apologize to him is very important.”

 

 

He laughed and spooned himself out her boxed version of mac and cheese. “Would that I had the confidence of a deity.”

 

 

“You can’t. You’re a nice human, I suppose, but still very average, Preston.”

 

 

“Uh, Gary. That’s my first name, if it matters.”

 

 

She smiled and it was not predatory this time. Well, that was something. “Gary, I like that. Well, I suppose ‘Goddess of All Creation’ is a lot to say and ‘Mum’ is off the table.”

 

 

“Yes, I’ve my own parents back home.” And they weren’t nuts like everything in Lucifer’s family tree.

 

 

“Well, Gary, you can call me Charlotte. It’s what the i.d. card in my vessel’s wallet said. If that’s easier, feels more straightforward.”

 

 

“I…that works. Thank you, Charlotte.”

 

 

“You’re very welcome.”

 

 

He bit into her creation, which, honestly had turned out just like his mother’s had back when he was a kid. Maybe it was hard to screw up cheese powder and butter, but she still managed to follow the recipe and not set something on fire. An utter win.

 

 

“This is actually really good. Congrats!”

 

 

She mimicked him and actually moaned a little. “This is good. Perhaps food is the other thing to like about humans.”

 


“What’s the first?”

 

 

“Sex of course. To find Lucifer I traded easy favors with men until I found Lux. It was quite pleasurable. I love the orgasms.”

 

 

He dropped his fork, appetite ruined. “You are Lucifer’s mum, aren’t you?”

 

 

“Yes, I said that.” She continued shoveling the boxed mac and cheese in her mouth. At one point, she set the fork aside entirely and scooped bits up into her hands, fingers growing orange. “About your girlfriend.”

 


“We’re not, not anymore.”

 

 

“Well, you want to be. That much is obvious even to me, and I don’t know much about humans.”

 

 

“Except the orgasms part.”

 

 

“Yes, that is very excellent. However, I…my ex-husband is not a good being. I know what the Bible says, and I know what some of our children still believe, but he can be so cold and distant, so demanding of absolute obedience. He wasn’t always that way though. When he started to slip away from me…when I felt things breaking…”

 

 

“Yes?”

 

 

“I wish for all the universe I’d have given it one last shot to reach him. Things could have been so different for my children who perished, for Lucifer, for the whole universe. You always have to try.”

 

 

He picked his fork back up and captured a few more box-noodles between the tines. Gary held it up in solidarity next to the Goddess’s---Charlotte’s---cheese and butter covered fist. “Cheers then.”

 

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

 

“I…it means I’m saluting your words. Here’s to cheesy noodles, Goddess. Here’s to trying. I…you’ll let me know if this helps you out with the boss, won’t you? He’s not always forthcoming with me.”

 

 

“That’s Lucifer to. He hides too much, worries what people will really think of him. He was always so stubborn in heaven.”

 

 

“Then nothing has changed that much, Charlotte.” He bit into her creation and smiled. “Seriously, you did a good job.”

 

 

“I broke one of Lucifer’s ovens.”

 

 

“Like he can’t afford to replace that. It’s like Mum used to make, and you’ll…thank you for the advice. I suppose not everyone gets the literal founder of the universe and all creation to give them their two cents.”

 

 

She frowned. “No money was exchanged.”

 

“Never mind, it’s an expression. I just mean, if you should ever need another cooking lesson, well, blimey, I’d be happy to help.”

 

 

“Good because I saw this other commercial about moms who make muffins…”