Four Blondes or A Typical Workday for the Infernally Adjacent
He’d been avoiding his mobile. And his tablet. And maybe even checking his new social media accounts on the work computer at Lux. Unfortunately, since the big boss had set it all up almost two weeks ago, then Lucifer also had the passwords for Gary’s new collection of accounts from Plenty of Fish to Tinder to Instagram and Snapchat and a few like Wobble that he was sure were just American-based companies anyway. Gary had no interest in any of it. Mostly.
He might have, okay, been signing onto Instagram at least but that was part of an in no way at all creepy attempt to learn more about this Michael Jackford whom Miranda was now dating. Since the pillock was a local Surrey celebrity of sorts and face of the local TV station, he had an active account, usually posting a few things a day to promote the slice of life segments he was doing. Occasionally, among all the positive spin for whatever the channel needed, Michael would post photos of an achingly familiar joke shop or even---and how he’d gotten Miranda to agree to go voluntarily---a few from Penny’s swanky tennis club.
None actually included Miranda, and he wondered if she’d done that out of an odd streak of shyness. Miranda could punch a vicar in front of a crowd (and had), but she was always so down on her appearance. No matter what, Miranda couldn’t see herself as attractive, and maybe the lack of photos of her person was a mix of that perception of herself as well as Michael trying to keep fans (did news reporters on public television stations have those?) from piecing together too much about his personal life.
But the chap was nice enough looking and he did have the glasses thing going on, which Clive and Rupert were right. It did add a Clark Kentish flare to him. He was shorter than Miranda, shorter than Gary in point of fact, and while that was a petty point, Gary was glad he had an edge in something. Clearly stability and not making Miranda cry were events he’d already lost at.
Sighing, Gary clicked out of Instagram and drummed his fingers on the cool glass of his desk at Lux. He had one, a modest thing in the corner of the main office. It helped him when he was called upon to do orders and figure out the inventory for the week and input it as such into the system. Clearly, the paperwork was not a top priority for Ms. Smith or for Patrick…and he’d rather not think about what was their top priority or he’d need more bleach for every corner of the club. Maybe he should add that to the week’s inventory list. One could never be too prepared.
It wasn’t even three yet, and the club wouldn’t be open for happy hour till five. He was here, killing time, because his tiny flat felt claustrophobic of late, not that he couldn’t stop thinking about home, Miranda, and whatever the four-eyed blighter were up to. All he had to do was book a plane ticket. He had a reason enough to be home, after all. Chris and Allison’s child’s christening was in three days. He was the godfather, and he really should be there. Maybe he could swoop in with all the designer clothes Lucifer had insisted were a good idea and actually…
Not get called on the carpet for lying about a fraud marriage for weeks to Miranda’s face. Yes, that seemed quite likely.
Gary sighed and clicked on his email, and just as soon clicked out of it. He had about fifty new messages linked to him, mostly from social media accounts that he barely could keep track of. It occurred to him to make sure that Lucifer wasn’t also answering for him too, and that would be quite the problem. Then again, his boss had a habit of answering everything with emoji strings that only the devil seemed to understand. So, there was a bit of safety in Lucifer’s bit of tech nonsense and eccentricities.
Sighing, Gary was about to shut that down too when he caught the name on the last eight emails he’d gotten. Stevie.
She’d gone mental emailing him just in the last few hours.
Now it was even odds that Lucifer had posted something ridiculous on Wobble or wherever. Sighing, Gary opened the latest email and mentally crouched:
Gary what in the bloody hell is going on? Since, when are you at a nightclub in Los Angeles? And what are you wearing? How do you have five thousand Instagram fans? What in the world? Seriously, ring me because even Clive doesn’t know and this is driving Miranda mad. She says it’s not bothering her, but I’ve never seen her check her mobile so many times in a day. Seriously, what the hell?
He sighed. Hell was pretty much the key term in his life since he’d come to Los Angeles. But Stevie---though always high strung---was clearly worked up. And frantic. He owed it to her to at least call. Exing out of the email, he double checked his watch. It was nearing eleven back home, but he still had a chance to catch her on Skype. Turning that on instead, he wasn’t sure if he were relieved when the glowing icon indicated that Stevie was on or more scared. When she started dialing him and the familiar jingle rang in his ears, Gary decided he was more scared.
Swallowing hard, he clicked “accept” and waited for a first degree grilling from his friend. The tiny blonde didn’t waste any time before launching into her tirade:
“What has gotten into you? A shot luge? Jell-O shots? Half naked in a night club? Do I know you?”
Gary waved a few fingers awkwardly back at her. “Hullo to you too. I can explain.”
Kind of. Lux, a place that never shied away from parties before, had gone into overdrive with Lucifer’s plans. Thursday through Sunday for the last two weeks had been filled with different theme events. The luge was a salute to winter sports, which made no sense really in Los Angeles in November, but okay. The Jell-O shots were from uni seniors’ night and when Lucifer had ingratiated himself to and gotten most of UCLA’s Greek life to migrate to Lux for the night. The half-naked was the Greek toga night and only Ms. Smith and a threat of no knee caps had made him don that get up. See, logical, if you knew Lucifer.
Which Stevie did not.
“Well, it’s complicated.”
“And you think I didn’t find your Tinder profile? Where did you even get the dosh for those clothes? Making it big in L.A., are we?”
He rubbed at his eyes. If she started in on the “are we’s,” then he was going to have the mother of all migraines by the time this was done. “It’s hard to explain.”
“I’d think you, of all people, would want to actually try that route as of late. Seriously, Gary, what in the hell is going on?”
Well, funny you should mention that as I work for Satan now…
Definitely not something he could tell his friend. She’d think he’d gone round the freaking pipe. Maybe he had; jury was still out on that.
“It was the owner’s idea.” That much was true. He was just not going to mention if it hadn’t come up already that he and Lux’s proprietor could be twins and, for insurance purposes, passed for it. “Look, I shot my mouth off about back home one night, and the boss…he might have come up with plans.”
Gary scrubbed a hand through what was left of his hair. And that had been quite the fight. Lucifer was a fan of over-producting everything to death, and he was low maintenance and, frankly, not one to be shellacked into any state. Plus, there was the whole Parent Trap dilemma of just being too much alike. So, they’d settled after a couple arguments---and it probably wasn’t great to get used to yelling at the Prince of Darkness, right---on just close cropping his hair. Not that he thought the curliness was a problem, but Lucifer was the fashion guy here and it was easier to compromise than get nattered at.
“My boss is oddly philanthropic, and he thought that a makeover and a whole social media thing would…I dunno…get Miranda’s attention?”
“You’re trying to make her jealous?”
Gary blanched. “I just went along with it to humor Lucifer.”
“My boss…it’s a theme-bar?” he said, although it would have been more convincing if his voice didn’t raise at the end of the statement like he was confused. To be fair, confusion was his default setting since he’d come to Lux. “It’s, uh, this whole heaven and hell theme with my boss calling himself ‘Lucifer Morningstar.’ It’s odd, but it’s also Los Angeles so how weird can it be?”
In reality---the weirdest sodding place on the planet.
“So, your boss has the time to give a toss about his bartender’s love life?”
“Oy! I cook too, I’ll have you know. Also, Lucifer is a busy body type. He sticks his nose in all his employees’ business. Has a jones for doing favors.” Gary shrugged. No need to explain that in his own case, Lucifer had an extra incentive because of that whole being shot by Malcolm thing. That really would send Stevie shrieking. “Anyway, it’s a ploy, and I should have said no to it, but Lucifer’s rather insistent.”
Stevie whistled on the other end. “The wardrobe is nice. Miranda’s practically salivating here. She says she’s not checking your stuff, but I can tell. I have a nose for that sort of thing.”
Gary swallowed and adjusted the Battaglia tan leather jacket he was still wearing. He’d switch into his chef gear soon enough. It felt so ill-fitting because he really was a jeans and t-shirt bloke at best, but it was easier to just wear whatever Lucifer said than deal with his prattling on. “It’s dumb, I know.”
“Oh, believe me, it’s working. So, are you coming home? You know the Christening is this weekend and, well, somehow punching a vicar didn’t make Chris and Allison dump Miranda as the godmother.” Stevie shook her head. “I think they feel sorry for her.”
“They’re like that,” Gary admitted. Chris and Allison were sweet. Granted, they were a lot and prone to oversharing and no one needed to know about peeling cervixes, but it was nice of them to have kept Miranda as godmother. It would mean that she’d be at the ceremony this weekend, most likely. Well, unless she punched another vicar, which, to be fair was possible. “I haven’t decided yet. I could get a flight out…” Read Lucifer could arrange it. “I just…I did promise Clive I’d be home for Christmas and that’s not even two months out.”
“I think Michael’s going to propose. He’s been after Penny to have a sit-down with Miranda’s dad. You want that to happen?”
Gary sighed. “If he makes Miranda happy…that’s more than I did.”
Stevie frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. He was impressed with her glare. Hell, Ms. Smith might have been impressed by that expression too. “You love her.”
“Of course, I do. I just…I cocked it all up.”
“Maybe if you just came out for the christening. Two godparents involved in all the events…time to talk. You’re going to lose her, and isn’t fifteen years a lot to chuck in the bin? If you could explain to her about Tamara. Don’t be such a coward!”
He sighed. As Lucifer would have said, being afraid was kind of Gary’s jam. It was, running with Satan and a demon aside, sort of what he did. “I’ll think about it. I’ll try and make the christening, alright?”
Stevie nodded. “All I ask. I expect to see you at the church bright and early on Sunday morning. Don’t make me come to America for your arse.”
Gary smiled genuinely at that. Honestly, of all his friends, he figured Stevie would be the least bowled over by the crowd at Lux. She’d probably track Ms. Smith down and regale (and bore her) with new management tips even if Ms. Smith tried to dissuade her by revealing her demon face.
“I know you will. I’ll let you know by tomorrow.” Even though it was the last thing he wanted to do, go to England. He wanted to face Miranda, but he just couldn’t. “Cheers Stevie. I…look after Miranda for me.”
“Do it for yourself, you big dope.”
He sighed and clicked the program off first. Talking to people back home was getting more draining each time he did it. On the other hand, he had a few minutes left, maybe he could check out a few more Instagram photos from Michael’s feed, just in case he’d missed Miranda somewhere on them.
“Doctor! You look good!” Gary enthused, nodding to the nearest stool and politely ignoring that it was a stretch for Linda to climb up on it. She was small but so fierce he often forgot her demure stature. Stools, however, seemed to pose quite the challenge. “What will you have? It’s on the house, of course.”
She winked at him and eased her glasses back up her nose. “I should take advantage of all the top shelf I can drink, but I’ll have a Cosmo. They’re quite delicious.”
“Say no more, doc,” Gary replied as he set to mixing for her. He grinned a bit once he set the drink down and she offered him a far too generous tip. “It’s nice to see you out and about.”
“You mean, it’s nice to see me not just in my office or at lunch near my office.”
Gary shrugged and started fixing a few gin and tonics for the couple besides Linda. “I figure if you could make it all the way here to, well, Lucifer’s place, then things must be going better?”
Linda shrugged and sipped her drink, beaming back at him. “You’re like an alchemist, I swear. This is great.”
“I just don’t skimp on the liquor,” he replied, winking. “Seriously, how are you getting on?”
“Well, Maze and I have been meeting up even more than you and I have. She is so Maze, but she’s been pretty great about answering my billion and one questions about at least what are demons like. She’s not as forthcoming about Hell, itself, or Lucifer, but I guess she figures it’s more stuff he and I should cover in session. I dunno.”
“Or Ms. Smith isn’t huge on talking,” Gary admitted. She was definitely a lady---demon---who spoke with her fists. And, well, her knife.
“Perhaps, but actually Lucifer invited me tonight. I haven’t gone back to seeing patients. I won’t before Tuesday, but he needed something, and I am entertaining the idea.”
Gary slid the gin and tonics to the couple and busied himself by making change before he eyed Linda again. “Oh, do tell.”
“He’s got something he has to do in Paris this weekend.”
Gary arched an eyebrow at her. “What now?”
“Lucifer apparently has a lot of properties.” She shrugged. “I suppose that makes sense if you’ve been visiting and vacationing on earth since before the written word and oh there it goes again.”
He smirked. “The utter existential panic that comes from knowing that Lucifer is that Lucifer, and that he’s incredibly old even if he seems like a teenager?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. I’m gonna get dizzy for a while when that cognitive dissonance comes up.”
“I try not to think about it, honestly. So, he needs to go to Paris why now?”
“He didn’t quite specify, but he mentioned some property stuff he needed to settle in person and, well, he feels really badly about how the face reveal went…or didn’t quite.”
Gary considered that as he reached for a beer for a patron. “Uh, Linda, pardon me for asking because you did mention this the first time we met, but, oh blimey…”
Gary knew his cheeks had to be red as anything by now. “Is this a sex trip?” Linda spit out her drink all over him, and he had to admit he’d earned that. Groaning a little, Gary picked up a spare bar rag and wiped at his face. “Brilliant, doc, just brilliant.”
She shook her head and set her drink down. “No! I mean, I stopped doing that months and months ago because it wasn’t professional, never was, but it took me a while to shrug off the attraction. He has that way with people.”
Gary laughed. “I watch everyone get on his lift. I’m aware.”
“But…no. I think he just feels guilty and wanted to make it up to me with a trip. I don’t even know what possessed---ha, yeah a word to avoid now---me to say yes since I haven’t even seen him in person since, well, you know.”
“But, he wants to make inroads, and I want my patient who deals with chronic fear of and actual rejection to not feel like his own therapist is ditching him so…”
“Side benefit of trip to Paris?” Gary grinned a little at that. “I’d say the boss feels very guilty. When are you all shoving off?”
“Friday so I have less than thirty-six hours to pack, but, well, tonight once he’s done with his adoring public, we’ll probably sit at a corner booth and just talk.”
Gary arched an eyebrow at her but waited to comment. His immediate response would have been to point out that Lucifer was doing everything where a lot of witnesses were present for her comfort, but he assumed that Linda had sussed that out too. Instead, he grinned and offered her a small bowl of peanuts as well. “Well, I’m glad you and the boss are working it out. Will you bring me back something?”
“Of course, maybe a little statue of the Eiffel Tower.”
“Ta ever so,” he replied. A slightly tipsy but not too far gone woman sidled up to the bar and asked for a white wine spritzer which he made up for her. Then, he turned his focus back to Linda. “Have you been to Paris before?” He figured with the salary she made that she’d probably seen everywhere before. What would be the point of being a Hollywood shrink if she didn’t use all that money to travel?
She sipped her cosmo. “Honestly, my ex-husband and I were always so busy. He was on a trail for a story all the time, so eager for that damn Pulitzer he finally won. I was…I overload with patients. We did our honeymoon twenty years ago in Amsterdam, but I never made it as far as Paris, no.”
“No, never been there either.” She smirked. “Probably more curious about England now than before. Mostly because clearly Lucifer is super taken with it.”
Gary shrugged. “It’s a good country, you lot lost out on a good thing when you left.”
She smirked and sipped again. “Keep telling yourself that. Next Fourth of July, I’m rubbing it in your face, Gar.”
“Alright, so, we’re only going to need the oven today,” Gary said patiently.
Charlotte, otherwise known as the Goddess of All Creation, was at least dressed appropriately. After her first week or so in Los Angeles, she’d acquired a wardrobe of her own and dropped the painted on pleather hand-me-downs from Ms. Smith. It was better that way. Gary was sure that Lucifer was relieved. Granted, Charlotte was beautiful and, okay, maybe he had a bit of a type besides just wacky. He was a sucker for a tall bird. That said, she’d also gone through a phase where assuming her lawyer chic dresses and suit jackets would survive a baking onslaught. Not so much, not with flour flying everywhere and, well, ovens exploding. Finally, she seemed to understand that baking was a messy process and had settled on a pair of jeans and a light cream sweater.
She quirked her head at him, and it wasn’t as jarring as it had first been weeks ago, but it was still clearly an affected gesture, and, yes, something predatory lay underneath. Honestly, he liked Charlotte quite a bit despite the fact she was an all powerful goddess who could kill him way faster than even Ms. Smith could. And, somehow, the three people he saw the most in life weren’t, well, technically people and all could end him without breaking a sweat. (Could Goddesses even sweat?) While he was still scared of things like geese (demon or otherwise) and power tools (he was hopeless with electric drills), somehow, he wasn’t a sniveling, terrified mess around his supernatural mates.
Still, Charlotte was odd and reminded him constantly she had never been close to human and, yet, at the same time, was so bafflingly black and white in her thinking, so child-like an naïve, that he couldn’t help but indulge her during their lessons.
Besides, she was getting better. She hadn’t exploded a microwave or an oven in over three weeks. He wasn’t sure she’d ever understand that metal didn’t belong in the microwave, but he was improving at keeping an eye out for that and heading her off at the pass any time she tried to shove something in there that shouldn’t have been.
“Do we need anything else? I have heard many things on the cooking channel about skillets!”
“No, no stove now,” he replied. “Wait…you’re watching the cooking channel now?”
Charlotte shrugged, a languid, leonine gesture that reminded him a lot of Lucifer. “I don’t sleep. I have moved out from the home this host shared with her husband and those sticky, awful imps that are supposed to be children---”
“Goddess, I’m sure they’re not so bad.”
“And I have already read and mastered human laws. I need something to do at night. I have decided that preparing for our cooking lessons is a useful allotment of my time. Although, I have also discovered this delightful channel called Cinemax and…”
“Oy! No Charlotte, I’m familiar and please don’t finish that thought.”
“I don’t know why all of you are so sensitive about the pursuit of orgasms. They are the best thing about earth. I suppose the other best thing is premium espresso, but sex is first place all the way. Amenadiel and Lucifer do not approve of me talking about it, but I know that Lucifer has several editions of the Kama Sutra in his library. I’ve seen them myself. It seems awfully hypocritical of him to act bashful about it now.”
Gary set out the muffin tins and sprayed them down with cooking oil. God help him; how had it become his place to explain how normal families interacted to the woman---being, entity…etc.---who’d made half the universe? “Charlotte, well, I don’t quite get how this…erm…there are some things sons don’t want to talk about with their mums.”
“Sex is one of those? Do you talk about sex with your mother?”
Gary shuddered at the thought. “First off, I’m English. We don’t talk about sex much anyway. As Penny would say, ‘it’s not like we’re Spanish.’ Second, just no. God no.”
“Goddess,” she corrected. “You know, my ex takes credit for the entire universe, but half the planets were my doing. And if you like water? Also, my idea.”
Gary blinked, even as he got out all the flour, ingredients, and mixing bowls they’d need for muffin making. Nope, his brain had hit a blue screen of death moment again. He could keep doing the basics like making sure the blueberries were out so Charlotte could follow the recipe he’d written out for her, but he was having a lot of trouble processing the thought that the woman before him on a lark had gone “We need oceans” and so then there had been.
His life was so odd.
“Are you alright, Gary?” Charlotte waved a hand in front of his face. “Did I say something inappropriate? Amenadiel implies that I do quite a bit.”
“Water. So water was plan B?”
“Yes, my former husband was a big picture guy. He was lost in the details. Think of God like the architect but not the actual builder.”
Gary blinked as he tied on his apron and handed the goddess hers. Hers was actually a pilfered one from Lucifer in blue and pink that said “Kiss the Cook,” while his was a Monet water lilies print rendered on fabric. Okay, maybe he could be a sight pretentious sometimes when he wanted to be, kind of.
“Wait, so,” he continued as he passed her the first mixing bowl and readied the eggs. “If God came up with the blue prints, and you double checked and added good things like water, which thank you for that.”
“Yeah, uh,” he said, cracking the eggs open and adding their insides to the bowl so that Charlotte could stir it. He’d go for the milk next. “Who did the heavy lifting?”
“My twins,” Charlotte beamed, what could only be described as an expression of pride. It was utterly maternal and a bit alien on her face. He hadn’t seen that much fussing over her sons before then. It was both weird but also endearing.
Wait, no, huh.
Gary’s brain started catching up with the rest of him. “The twins? Wait, you mean Lucifer and Michael did the grunt work?”
“Well, I would hardly call creating all matter in the universe and then willing it to create planets and constellations the ‘grunt work,’ mortal, but in so many words, yes.”
“Lucifer can create something out of nothing?” He yipped. Wait, did he yip?
Charlotte waved her hand dismissively and then dug in with gusto to stir the mixture before her. He decided not to chide the goddess about sometimes spilling mix onto the counter. She could be tetchy. “Michael can do that. Lucifer just took the raw material. He was quite talented.”
Having, you know, seen the night sky more than once, Gary had to agree. “He can make stars?”
“When he has his wings, yes. Foolish boy. Who cuts those off?” She shook her head. “You don’t have children, do you?”
“I’m not even married, Charlotte. So, no, I don’t.” And he was about 95% sure that was true. Surely he was an idiot, but he was usually a careful idiot on his travels. That would be the ultimate fuck you to his life if he’d managed to something even more boneheaded than his usual in Malaysia or Hong Kong, but, no, as far as he was aware, he was not a parent. “I…he cut them off?”
“Lucifer apparently is a Cliff’s Notes version of explaining the affairs of Celestials,” Charlotte sniffed. “Do I add the blueberries now?”
“First let me get the sugar and baking powder,” Gary replied. “Yeah, I don’t know everything. Of course, if it has billions of years of prologue, I guess I’m not going to know everything.”
“Yes, but my twins…they are quite exceptional. I love all my children, but my two boys are my favorite.” She frowned. “Don’t tell Amenadiel that. He’s a sweet boy, a loyal boy. Michael is my warrior, and Lucifer’s my Light Bringer.”
He frowned. “So, uh, that’s why you don’t want to murder me?”
“I don’t find it worth my time to kill humans. It’s much more pleasurable to get them to comply by fucking them.”
“But, no, I have never held any animosity toward you, Gary. You have taught me to make pancakes and crepes and cheesy noodles. You are helping me with muffins. Why would I wish poorly for you?”
He shook his head and started prepping his own station. He had an idea for something savory this go around, something to really stretch him. Blueberry was nice, but it was so very basic. “I just…huh. Lucifer made constellations. For a guy who loves to brag, he never mentioned.”
“That’s sad because I think they’re probably the prettiest thing any of my children ever did.”
“I bet and oy!” He shrieked---he could be honest enough to admit he shrieked. Gary noticed the scurrying of something small and furry across the floor. He hopped up onto the kitchen island, which like everything else in Lux was oversized, and pulled his knees up to him. “That’s a mouse!”
Charlotte regarded the evil menace that had come to stop near her feet. It had something…was that a piece of edible underwear in its paws? What the fuck?
“Are you frightened?”
“I don’t like mice. Evil little buggers carry all types of diseases. You might have missed out on hearing about this, but the plague. I don’t trust anything that can carry the sodding plague.”
She sighed. “I wish I could smite it for you. There was a time that I could will it and the puny mammal would turn to ash.”
“I am not sure knowing that once you could think it and it would happen makes me feel any better.”
“I would never smite you even if I could.”
“Uh, ta ever so.”
“Anyway,” Charlotte continued. “I could stomp on it, but these are Manolos and that seems hardly a fair fate.”
Gary laughed, a shrill sound even in his own ears. “You really are Lucifer’s mum, I swear. I…look, Goddess, just go to the pantry and grab the broom. Sweep it away, would you?”
“I can do that. Then muffins?”
He sighed and tried to ignore his pounding heart. “Yes, muffins, savory and not.”
Come to the station.
Gary frowned. He ran Lux’s kitchen. That was his job. Nothing in his description or employment required him to tag along to the station. Lucifer solved crimes; Gary worked on the next appetizer for Lux’s bar menu. It made sense, so far as The Prince of Lies working for the LAPD ever would. However, after he’d successfully finished with Charlotte and cooking lessons (and the mouse had been shooed out to the balcony by a vengeful goddess and a broom), he’d received the text from Lucifer.
Along with a string of emojis that Gary had no help of discerning.
However, he’d made several dozen batches of his experimental muffins and Charlotte had only taken the one batch of hers. She’d left over twenty-four blueberry muffins for him too. It was too much, so shoving them into a few baskets and bringing them with him to the police station was a bit of inspired genius. After all, the PC had to get tired of donuts all the time. Didn’t they?
As Gary came down the stairs and to Chloe’s floor, he noticed all eyes on him. Well, at first. Some then shifted to the muffin baskets, and at least half started to ping pong between him and the corner desk off to the back of the floor where Lucifer, in a bespoke charcoal suit, was sat, perched on Chloe’s desk.
Gary shrugged and offered a broad smile. A short officer with her hair in a high ponytail regarded him carefully. “Hey Lucifer…new look?”
He shrugged apologetically. “I’m sorry Officer?”
“Owens…it’s okay. I know people can’t tell the rookies apart.”
He nodded and pushed a basket toward her. “Blueberry? And it’s not your fault. I’m, uh, well Mr. Morningstar’s brother. Do you know where I can find him?”
She brightened even as she took the proffered muffin. Apparently, even cops loved Lucifer and it would have been a tragedy to have been forgotten by him. “Oh, that explains a lot. I’ve never seen Lucifer not in a three-piece suit.” Oh she was gone on him, this one. “Just keep heading straight back. I bet Ella Lopez will let you use the spare table in her lab to set the food. Once word gets out, there will be a three o’clock pick me up stampede.”
“Hope so, there are so many and I’m not dragging them back home.” He smiled back at her and made a bee line for Lucifer and Chloe, whose blonde hair he could now see as well. When he got to the detective’s desk, he shoved two baskets at Lucifer. If the devil could make the universe, then he could also hold a few baskets. Things were ruddy heavy. “Hello, is there a reason I’ve been summoned?”
Chloe looked between both of them, and he could see the wheels in her brain turning from here. She’d passed the time with him while waiting for Lucifer to come down from his penthouse more than once, but they’d always stayed to small talk. More than once, even since the Dunlear debacle, she’d tried to get extra details out of him about Lucifer. Now, of course, he knew more than almost any mortal save Linda Martin did, but he was no more willing to spill the beans on his boss now than he had been previously. Yet, Chloe Decker wasn’t a detective for no reason, and she clearly knew the weak spot to get her leads from.
“Hi Gary. I…you brought a lot of muffins?” She frowned at Lucifer. “You texted him for snacks?”
“I texted him because the last time we were in a restaurant-based investigation, I got thrown up on, and we almost burned to death in a fire. I figured that if Miss Lopez’s notes had anything useful about kitchen in disarray or the probably source of the poisoning, then maybe Preston would know what should and shouldn’t be in an industrial kitchen.” He shrugged with a flourish---Lucifer did everything with a flourish---and sauntered to the lab behind them. It was dark and he had to turn on the overhead lights when he entered. Gary blinked at the assault to his pupils as the flourescents came on above. “Would that the lovely Miss Lopez hadn’t needed to leave early today to see her brother. However, we have the readouts, if you need, Preston. If anything in the assorted storage list seems pear-shaped, do be a lamb and let us know.”
He shrugged. He’d never been asked to be a subject matter expert on anything before. This was new…he found most things were when dealing with Lucifer. “I’ll see if anything seems off, sure boss. I…your mu…Charlotte made muffins. I did too. We have blueberry since she was on the basics. I did some savory of my own. One’s a bacon and egg muffin and the other is garlic shrimp.”
Chloe blinked, trying to process all of it. “Excuse me? Charlotte as in Charlotte Richards?”
Lucifer groaned. “Preston gives her cooking lessons.”
“I swear, you have the weirdest relationship with that ex.”
Gary blanched and Lucifer chased down what could only be described as sheer panic. The chef was the first to recover. “No, no. It’s not like that.” He wasn’t sure how to explain she was the current vessel of the goddess of all creation and actually Lucifer---you know that Lucifer’s---actual mother. Instead, he opted for, “She’s a friend is all, like family, right boss?”
“Completely like family,” Lucifer half-sputtered. “I assure you, Detective. I’m as likely to sleep with Charlotte as I am with Preston or, in other words, not at bloody all.”
Gary nodded so hard that he felt like a bobblehead. “Exactly. Now, where do I put the muffins?”
Lucifer gathered all the baskets except for the shrimp muffin one up in his arms. “I’ll take them to the break room for anyone to get a kip of. Preston, try and ferret out something, make it worth my text.”
He rolled his eyes and, again, probably not the best thing to do to Beelzebub but this was his life now. “I’ll try. Blimey, what about the garlic shrimp ones!”
“Preston, I have friends in this office. Friends! Ooh, I know, let Daniel have them.” He grinned and grabbed that final basket up and sidled off, making sure to leave the shrimp savories on the desk nearest Chloe’s.
“I think they’re a good idea,” Gary muttered, picking up the first set of printouts the lab lady had left for him.
Chloe didn’t follow Lucifer, which made Gary a bit uncomfortable as he shifted from foot to foot while reading over the inventory lists. Her blue eyes were narrowed at him in laser focus. “You know, I should probably be honest with you.”
“Alright, I think?” Gary replied, still focused on the readouts. Lucifer was probably playing expansive host with the muffins and wouldn’t be back for a while. The devil did love an audience after all. “What’s there to be honest about?”
“After all the Malcolm stuff, I redoubled at least for a few days my research on Lucifer.” She shut the lab door behind her and leaned against it. “I came across your hospital and insurance records. You two are related.”
Gary set the papers down but kept his eyes focused on the steel of the lab table. He couldn’t exactly dissuade the detective of that notion, not now. She was a good cop, a straight arrow type, and if he admitted they were committing insurance fraud and he only needed that because he was in the States illegally, then his arse would be in an INS sling faster than he could blink.
“That’s quite a bit of digging, Chloe.”
“Yes, and I also…Lucifer got shot with Malcolm.” She gave a breathy, incredulous sigh. “Seems to be a family tradition at this point.”
“Yes, Malcolm’s…was quite the murderous prick, wasn’t he?”
“He was awful.”
“Chloe, I’m glad you and Trixie made it out of that alright. Really, I am,” he said, chancing a glance up at her.
“Me too, and Lucifer is a huge part of that, and I’m still not sure how because I saw, and he was shot point blank in the stomach but he shook it off. I had a blood sample even from the accident, and I was going to test it. Lucifer told me too, but I just couldn’t.”
Gary blinked. That was surprising. Lucifer was so shirty when it came to telling Chloe anything that resembled the full, unedited truth. After all, the devil who never outright lied was a master of skating the truth instead. “He wanted what now?”
“For me to go ahead and test his blood. He does things, and I’ve seen a lot now, and I know he’s odd. I just am not sure how much is in my head and how much is something else. If it is a ‘something else,’ I don’t even know if I want to know the what part.”
“So you didn’t test it, I assume?” Could the devil’s blood even come back weird? Did he have DNA? Nope, nope, not doing that. It was too much a rabbit hole to spiral down today. “Wait, did you?”
“No, I didn’t. I decided after Malcolm that our weird, little partnership works and not to question it anymore. But I guess it was also comforting that your records were really typical. So, it’s all probably just some hypnotism crap, and I imagined things like how easy it was for him to throw that sports agent through a plate glass window or hold grown men up by their necks.”
“I…about my own records…”
Chloe blushed. “I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to dig more. I have stopped, but I wanted you to know that I dug into you and your brother, but I’m not anymore.”
Brother, sure. Gary reached up and was annoyed when he could barely run a hand through his short hair. Maybe he’d crutched on rearranging his curls under stress more than he thought. “Chloe, I…Lucifer is complicated, believe me. However, I can honestly say that he cares about you quite a bit. Honestly, he’ll never admit it, even to himself, but it’s blatantly obvious how much he fancies you. And I don’t doubt after everything with Malcolm that he’s both a good---eccentric as hell---but a good bloke and he’d do anything for you and your daughter. That’s what I can tell you, and that’s all true so I guess Lucifer and his truth telling vow is rubbing off on me too.”
Kind of. He was definitely eliding the “he’s Satan” part, but it truly wasn’t Gary’s story to tell.
Chloe nodded. “I think so too, and he’s immature, and self-centered, and clearly a sex addict.”
“Oh boy yes,” Gary replied, thinking back to this morning’s mouse with its edible surprise clenched in its horrid, plague-carrying jaws. “But?”
“He makes me a better detective, and I find him comforting somehow, even with all his twelve-year-old guy bullshit.”
Gary laughed and went back to scanning the readouts. “That might be overestimating his maturity, not that I’m one to talk.”
“You seem more level-headed.”
“You just think that but there are many ways you can be a wobbling, spazzing mess. I’m the more subtle type and with less STDs involved, assuredly.”
The left side of Chloe’s mouth quirked up with a small grin. “Interesting. Now, if you don’t find anything in the inventory, that’s fine. It was a long shot anyway, and maybe you’re not even an expert in Thai cuisine…”
“I’ll give her a go, but for an even trade.”
She snorted. “God, you two are alike.”
Gary honestly bloody well hoped not. He was many things, but he hoped he wasn’t quite as dysfunctional as the devil. “Maybe, but you do me a favor and let me know how my newest muffin experiment tastes, and I’ll try and find your smoking gun, uh, metaphorically speaking.”
“Uh…it’s really garlic shrimp?” Did she seem paler than before?
“What? I think savory muffins are great?”
She blanched and eyed the basket on Daniel whoever’s desk. “Okay, can we have a medium deal? Let Dan taste it. I mean, he’s my ex-husband so all in the family, and if he likes it, then I’ll try it too.”
Gary sniffed but turned back to the readouts. “Charlotte wouldn’t try them either. Everyone’s cursed with such a basic palette around here.”
Chloe shrugged. “Maybe not. I mean, Dan once ate a marble out of a candy dish so…”
“I’m a great chef.”
“I know but shrimp muffins? Seriously?”
“Everyone’s a critic,” he groused, focusing on the paper before him. It had been a long day, and he wanted some rest before his next Lux shift. Besides, he still had to decide what he was going to do. He didn’t have long to book a flight, and he was debating hard on whether he should return home to Surrey for the christening.
He was thinking he just might.
Even if Miranda didn’t appreciate savory muffins either.