Chapter 1: Prelude
“I couldn’t find any professional recordings of Lucifer singing,” Ella said hold out a thumb drive, “But he’s the accompanying pianist on Delilah’s original demo tapes.”
“Thank you,” Linda said warmly. “Amenadiel found dozens of YouTube posts where someone at Lux recorded one of Lucifer’s sets on their phone, he plays them for Charlie but the sound quality doesn’t do him justice.”
“Linda,” Ella said tentatively. “You’d tell me if… If Lucifer were dead right? Because, you know, Chloe’s a mess and,” she gestured to the thumb drive, “this. It’s like -um- you and Amenadiel want Charlie to know who his Uncle -um- was. Like you don’t think he’s ever going to meet Lucifer for himself. But you guys wouldn’t hide something like that, right?” She giggled, high pitched and nervous. “I mean Chloe’s a cop and Lucifer was fine the last time I saw him and then he was just gone… He doesn’t answer his phone, emails, texts- And if he’s dead and you’re covering it up… Chloe would never do that- Maze, sure, no question, I mean telling the police would totally get in the way of her slowly torturing whoever did it to death, but not you or Chloe.”
“Lucifer’s not dead,” Linda said. “He had to go back to- To where he came from.” She thought, ‘He’s in Hell. As far as we know he isn’t -can’t- come back.’
“Where there are no phones? He couldn’t even leave an address?” Ella exclaimed. “I totally can’t see him as Amish but, seriously, I can do snail mail if that’s the only option.”
Linda shook her head. She bit her lip, her eyes watering.
“Could you tell me again how he’s not dead and try to sound convincing this time?” Ella begged. “‘Cause I’m getting seriously scared here.”
Linda looked away. ‘I wish I could,’ she thought. ‘Lucifer may not have died but he’s trapped in Hell all the same and the distinction is a little hard for me to see.’
Chloe took out a notebook as Amenadiel settled into the chair she’d indicated, on the opposite side of her kitchen table.
“Linda said you had questions for me?” he asked.
“Yes,” Chloe said sternly. “And just so you know, that shit about blood-packs and ultra-thin kevlar didn’t fly when I was actively trying to suppress any thoughts about Lucifer being supernatural. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try to lie to me again.”
“I am sorry about that Chloe,” Amenadiel said sincerely. “At the time, I believed it was of utmost importance to keep knowledge of the Divine from all humans. I would still be cautious about sharing this information indiscriminately but I know that you are entitled to answers.”
Chloe nodded sharply. “I’ve already spoken to Maze and Linda,” she warned him. “But there are things I’d still like some clarification on.”
Amenadiel spread his hands slightly, inviting her questions.
“Okay,” Chloe took a deep breath. “Hell needs a king to prevent things like what happened at the Mayan? Demonic possession would be a regular thing if Lucifer hadn’t forbidden it?”
“Yes,” Amenadiel replied.
“And the King of Hell has to be a Celestial?”
“That means you, your brothers and sisters, your parents and Charlie?”
Amenadiel hesitated. “That is a comprehensive list of Celestials.”
“How many siblings do you and Lucifer have?”
“Chloe-“ Amenadiel protested.
“I’m not suggesting Charlie,” Chloe said quickly. “And I’ve learnt my lesson about trusting unsubstantiated stories… After all, apparently none of the major religions noticed that you exist.”
“I did avoid interacting with humanity until just recently,” Amenadiel replied.
“So I’m not putting stock in seven archangels, or even the concept of archangels vs other angels, when I find more sources agreeing on the number seven than on who the seven are. Still, I always got the impression from Lucifer that your family was large,” Chloe continued.
“So why has Lucifer been stuck with Hell since the dawn of humanity?” Chloe demanded. “I checked with Maze, even factoring in him living in L.A. for nine years he still averages a month or two per century outside of Hell and that’s time he stole, nothing he was allowed. Is ruling Hell his punishment? Because if it is-”
“No,” Amenadiel interrupted. “It’s not a punishment. Lucifer- no Samael was created to rule Hell. His ordained purpose was to drive out and contain darkness; physical darkness when Father ordered him to light the stars, metaphorical darkness as the keeper of Hell. Ruling Hell is only a punishment because Lucifer makes it one.”
“You know that’s worse don’t you?” Chloe asked quietly. “When I first started digging into all the stories about Lucifer it didn’t make any sense that someone who didn’t have free will could want it. How could you want anything if you didn’t have free will to start with? But from what you’re saying, Lucifer -all of you, any of you- you can want something other than the purpose you were created for but you can’t escape that purpose. Lucifer wants the wrong things according to you Father so ruling Hell becomes a punishment to him, one he’s suffered since… What? The dawn of humanity? ...And me, how do I fit in? Maze told me I’m a ‘miracle’? That you ‘blessed’ my parents? What does that even mean?” Chloe demanded. “What does your Father want from me?”
“I don’t know,” Amenadiel said. “My Father hasn’t assigned humans a name since Eve, you’re not designed to fulfill a purpose the way angels are. Chloe, my Father directed that you be born and you’re immune to Lucifer’s powers but not to my powers, or any other angel’s as far as we know, take from that what you will. But, from what I have observed, every attempt to determine Father’s reason for creating you has resulted in misery. Some things are not meant to be known.”
Chloe frowned, “Well, here’s one more indisputable fact: Lucifer returned to Hell. He willingly assumed a role he hates. He left with no expectation that he would be any less miserable for going willingly. He left because it was the only way he could see to keep us, the Earth safe. And,” Chloe took a deep breath, “I don’t think I’m overstating it to think that protecting me was a big part of why he made that choice. So, tell me I’m wrong Amenadiel but when I think about the effect I’ve had on Lucifer’s life… I don’t see the difference between your Father and Father Kinley. I feel used! I feel like I was made to be a weapon against someone I love. And I hate it! Tell me your Father’s plan wasn’t to use me to back Lucifer into a corner he couldn’t get out of.”
“I can’t. I told you, I don’t know what my Father’s plan is,” Amenadiel sighed.
“Because right now?” Chloe continued over him. “All I want is to pick-up where Lucifer left off and find a way to derail this damned plan of your Father’s. It’s not right to put that on Lucifer alone! It’s not fair! And I’m not going to stand by and let him be sacrificed like this!”
Lucifer walked down the street outside of the Lux, his arm around a pretty blond in a fluffy coat, “Delilah darling, tell me what’s holding you down.”
Delilah smiled sadly as a car slowed, a gun appearing in the window. “All you asked was for me to get my life together.”
“No,” Lucifer shouted. He tucked Delilah in tight against him, the bullets impacting against his back didn’t even rate a flinch. There was a horrendous screech of metal on metal as the shooter’s car collided fatally with a bus. Lucifer stepped back from Delilah, his hands still cupping her shoulders as he crouched a bit to catch her eye. “It wasn’t your fault,” he told her sincerely. “You just needed more time. And now you can have it.”
Delilah shook her head. “I’m so sorry,” she said as her knees gave out.
Lucifer looked down and saw the red of blood blossoming on her dress, on his shirt. He drew himself up to his full height, “No,” he stated firmly and the street around them froze. He smiled, the blood vanished from his shirt as he offered Delilah his hand. “Darling, I’m the Devil. You’ve no cause for guilt on my behalf. No cause for guilt at all.”
She looked up at him from where she sat on the pavement, blood pooling around her. “I had so much… And I wasted it all,” she said mournfully.
Then it was all gone. Lucifer sat at a piano in a recording studio. “Darling, for this? You owe me nothing,” he heard himself tell Delilah. “After all, I doubt you’ll have time to sing with me once the producers I contacted listen to this demo.”
“Are you sure I’m good enough?” the blond asked, her voice full of uncertainty.
“You have no idea how much I’m going to regret losing you to stardom,” Lucifer assured her.
The buzz of the intercom interrupted them. “We’re on a schedule!” the guy in the control room groused.
“Creten,” Lucifer muttered, Delilah giggled and he started to play. A moment later Delilah’s voice rose in counterpoint, beautiful as he remembered and agonizingly painful… The only music that could exist in Hell was that which was ladened with misery. Before the song ended Lucifer stepped back, as he walked away a memory-ghost of him seamlessly resumed its place in Delilah’s loop.
He opened the door walked out of the recording studio into an endless corridor of doors. Ash rained down on him. Lucifer leaned back against the door and slowly slid down it. “Darling Delilah,” he sighed, “How do I make you believe me? You’ve nothing to feel guilty for.”
A shadow fell across him. Lucifer glanced up with an irritated frown that morphed into surprise. “What are you?” he demanded as he scrambled to his feet.
Azrael flew toward the gates of the Silver City, hidden beneath her red cloak she was wringing her hands nervously. “I should just go down and see what’s up,” she muttered to herself. “I mean I go to the gates all the time, what’s the big deal if I step in and take a quick look. I said I was going to visit ages ago anyway.”
When Azrael landed the angel guarding the gates looked up from scowling suspiciously at the line of souls moving past him. He wore armor-like golden robes with a sword slung across his back. “Azrael, why are you here?” he snapped. “I haven’t found any undesirables lately. You’d better not be bringing another of your pity cases. Father gave them guilt for a reason, it’s not for us to second guess it.”
“Unless they lack proper guilt and we don’t want them here?” Azrael asked innocently. “Come on Mike, we all know about fanatics and sociopaths by now. Why is it so hard for you to believe that mistakes go both ways? But that’s not why I’m here today. When I was escorting a soul downstairs I- I sensed my blade being drawn to the Infernal plane.”
Michael’s gaze sharpened. “Lucifer is trying to reassemble the Flaming Sword again?”
“We don’t know that!” Azrael protested. “It doesn’t even make sense! Why would Lu have split it between Universes if he wanted it?”
“You were right to bring this to my attention,” Michael declared as he closed the gates. “After what he did to Uriel who knows what he’s capable of.” He folded his hands in prayer for a moment.
“What was Lu supposed to do? Uri went nuts, stole my sword and ran off to destroy Mom and kill Lu’s Detective!”
“Father didn’t stop Uriel, he must have approved,” Michael said dismissively.
“Yeah well, Dad didn’t stop Lu from destroying Uri so, by your logic, He must approve of what Lu did, right?” Azrael shot back.
Michael glared at her sternly as Remiel appeared above the wall and landed next to them. “What’s happened?” she asked.
“We must head off Lucifer’s imminent attack on the Gates of Heaven,” Michael declared as he spread his wings.
Remiel nodded and fell in behind him. They launched themselves into the air and vanished.
Azrael chased after them. “You’re just ticked because Lu stopped Mom from assaulting your precious Gates without any help from you!” Azrael cried as they appeared outside the Gates of Hell. “Stop jumping to conclusions! We don’t know why my sword’s being pulled here!”
“I won’t be surprised by what we find,” Remiel replied sharply. “Mayhap this is how Father intends to restore your sword, Sister. That would be one less thing out of place in this universe.”
“If we do get the sword back, I should keep it,” Michael declared. “Then I wouldn’t have to keep calling you to deal with the mis-sorts.”
“Why don’t you ask Lu to freeze Hell over while you’re at it,” Azrael snapped. “We fight about half the souls you reject and Raz has had me pick up a dozen you missed because their loops were so repulsive he couldn’t stand it.”
“Seeing the patterns of their lives isn’t my domain, it’s Uriel’s,” Michael complained. “I’m doing the best I can.”
Azrael winced. “I know. We’ve all been doing the best we can… Ever since Dad stopped talking to us.”
“Are we going to stand here all day?” Remiel asked with a gesture to towering, grey Gates of Hell.
The three angels spread their wings and vanished. They appeared on the other side of the foreboding wall a moment later. The narrow corridors and angular, door-covered towers of Hell extended all the way to the walls, in fact pushing the walls out as ever more space was required. Ash rained down on the three angels as they began trekking through the maze that was Hell. “Stay on the ground,” Michael ordered. “Flying we’re a tempting target for any demon walking below.”
As they ventured deeper and deeper into Hell swirls of Primordial Darkness joined the ever-present ash-fall filling the air. Michael and Remiel traded a wary look then Remiel fell back so that Azrael was between them.
“What is that?” Azrael asked as she watched several eddies of Darkness combine into a ribbon as thick as an I-beam.
Michael shushed her. He and Remiel scanned the surrounding corridors on high alert. Then Remiel cried out in triumph and darted down a side path. Michael chivied Azrael after her, they rounded the corner and saw Remiel standing over a demon with her spear at it’s throat, the misshapen creature was slumped against one of Hell’s innumerable doors.
“What did you do?” Azrael exclaimed when she saw the demon’s hands clasped over a gaping wound in it’s gut, threads of Darkness seeping from between it’s fingers like blood.
“Found a live one,” Remiel reported.
Michael nodded to her. “Demon, what has happened?” he demanded leveling his sword at the demon’s throat as well.
“Angels, feather-brains the lot of you,” the demon sneered.
“You will answer,” Remiel ordered pressing her spear forward threateningly.
“‘M already dead,” the demon said. It’s hands fell away from it’s wound and the Darkness spilled out. In moments it’s body was gone, added to the swirling Darkness flowing through the corridors of Hell.
Azrael glanced around at the swirls with horrified eyes, “Those eddies, they’re dead demons?” she realized. “All of them?”
Michael nodded absently. “What do you think?” he said to Remiel. “An uprising?”
“Weaklings like that couldn’t pose a threat to any angel,” she declared. “Lucifer would have put it down out of hand.”
“But there’s so many of them,” Azrael said worrying her lower lip with her teeth. “Swarm decks are thing for a reason guys.”
“We still need to find out why he’s trying to reclaim the Blade,” Michael said. “Azrael, if you have any idea where it’s being drawn to in the Infernal Plane, I’d like to get a move on it.”
“Yeah, I think...” Azrael took a deep breath and pointed.
Michael gestured for Remiel to scout ahead while he glued himself to Azrael’s side. They moved out at a fast march. Several minutes later Remiel dropped back. “We’re headed towards that ridiculous spire Lucifer uses for a throne,” she said.
“No surprise there,” Michael said. At Azrael’s indignant look he added, “It’s the only reference feature in this whole realm, of course it’s the rallying point for anything that happens here.”
They pressed onward until suddenly the endless corridors of Hell opened up to reveal a narrow plain crawling with demons around the base of the spire. Azrael gasped at the sight of Lucifer’s white wings spread unnaturally wide and streaked with blood where a half dozen demon blades pinned them to the spire leaving his feet dangling. A rift hung in front of Lucifer, a rippling mirage warping reality. “He was the last one to touch the blade,” Remiel said. “They’re using him as a focus to draw it back.”
Michael stood up, drawing his sword. “Rae-Rae get out of here!” he ordered. When Azrael hesitated he barked, “Go now! We’ll be right behind you, with Sam.”
Reflexively Azrael leapt into the sky. She glanced back to see Michael and Remiel smashing into the crowd of demons with all the subtlety of wrecking balls. Azrael pulled up and folded her hands, “Amenadiel, Gabriel we need back-up,” she prayed. “Rafael, get ready for patients, Lu definitely.”
A moment later Azrael heard her oldest brother’s voice in the back of her head. //Azrael, we’re coming.//
Azrael took a deep breath then willed herself invisible. She wasn’t sure if it actually worked on demons, ‘But it’s not like they aren’t already distracted,’ she thought with a glance at the clouds of Primordial Darkness billowing up around Michael and Remiel as they cleaved their way through the crowd of demons.
Azrael flew over the fighting to where Lucifer was pinned to the spire. “Lu, we’ll get you out of here,” she said not letting herself really look at him as she grabbed the first of the demon blades. She planted her foot on the vertical cliff above his wing and put her whole body into pulling it free. Lucifer groaned as his wings shifted around the five remaining blades. “I’m sorry, sorry,” Azrael muttered as she moved to his other side and grabbed a second blade.
The metal screeched as it pulled free of the rock. “Oh shit,” Azrael muttered as the sound drew the attention of a number of demons. She grabbed the two remaining blades in that wing, one in each hand, and shoved herself away from the cliff with her feet. There was a sharp sound of bone breaking was almost covered by a short, cut off scream as Lucifer’s weight swung onto the remaining blades, snapping the ulna and radius in his right wing.
Azrael fell back, her hands covering her mouth. Then Michael was there, he braced his shoulder and extended wing against Lucifer’s chest and ripped out the remaining knives in quick succession, throwing them into the horde that Remiel was still holding off on her own. “I told you to go!” he shouted at Azrael as he roughly bundled Lucifer’s wings around him then grabbed him around the chest and leapt into the air. Azrael took flight a moment later. Remiel continued fighting, waiting until Michael had gained some altitude before following suit.
It wasn’t long before the air was full of projectiles. Michael pumped his wings, fighting for speed despite Lucifer’s awkward mass. Remiel dove at the demons beneath them, trying to scatter the forces arrayed against them. Then Amenadiel, Gabriel and four of their other siblings were streaking past them, sending the crowd of demons into a panicked retreat. A few minutes later the ten angels arrived at the Gates of Hell. They pulled up for a moment then blinked out of existence and reappeared on the far side of the wall.
Then Michael cursed as Lucifer regained consciousness and began struggling. Blood-slick feathers slipped through Michael’s grasp. Lucifer fell, somehow grabbing Michael’s sword as he did. He landed on his knees outside the Gates, wings falling limply around his shoulders. “Won’t catch me by surprise again,” he snarled at all of them, sword in hand, fire in his eyes.
“Samael! Give me back my sword and stop being an idiot. We’re rescuing you,” Michael snapped.
“Stay away from her!” Lucifer snarled, garnering confused looks from his siblings.
“What’s he talking about?” Gabriel asked.
“I don’t think he recognizes us,” Azrael interjected. “Humans get like that when they’re hurt.”
“He’s not human,” Remiel argued.
“Yeah well-” Azrael pointed at Lucifer, blearily blinking fiery eyes, snarling, Michael’s sword wavering in his weakening grip, as if to say, ‘You have a better explanation?’
Amenadiel stepped forward, hands held up placatingly. “Luci, calm down. No one is threatening Chloe. We’re going to take you-“
“No where,” Lucifer interrupted with a maniacal grin. He flipped the sword so the blade rested against his own throat. “You’ll take me nowhere.”
A woman with Meditrainean features and the broad, ashy-brown wings of a crane appeared behind Lucifer. She calmly slammed the edge of her hand into the back of his skull, removing the sword from his hand and catching him in a smooth move.
“Raffie!” Amenadiel protested.
“Isn’t arguing with Sam when he’s in his right mind painful enough to dissuade anyone from trying it when he’s not?” the woman asked, unrepentant. She turned to Michael. “You, take our brother to my infirmary. I’ll keep this,” she said with a nod to his sword, “until we’ve arrived, in case he wakes up again.”
So if Lucifer being absent from Hell is a problem then shouldn't there be some sort of issues caused by Uriel being really, permanently dead?
Chapter 3: Back to the City of Angels
When Rafael stepped out of her infirmary she found Remiel sitting on her step. “You’re finally done? Lucifer’s ready to go back to Hell?” the young warrior angel asked. Then she continued without pause. “I thought I could escort him down, make sure he actually gets there. Then I’ll let Michael know he can come back and re-open the Gates of Heaven, there’s starting to be a back-up. Do humans ever stop dying?”
“No, they don’t, it’s part and parcel of being mortal. I’m going to the Library to consult with Raziel,” Rafael said. Tiredly she twisted her long dark brown hair into a messy bun and shoved pin through it to hold it in place. “Samael’s injuries aren’t responding to treatment.”
Remiel shook her head in denial, “Raffie, that’s crazy. The divinity in our feathers can heal anything,” she protested as she followed the older angel through the streets of the Silver City.
“And yet I’ve barely done more for Samael than the demons did when they cauterized the worst of his wounds,” Rafael replied. She sighed, “I’ve had to resort to humans cures patch over the damage. He should be awake and free of delirium before day’s end, if you want to see him.”
Remiel glanced back in the direction of the infirmary. “Why would I want- It’s not like I have anything to say to him,” she sputtered. “Although, I suppose we need to know what happened. If he’s in no condition to return to his duties then it falls to us to clean up his mess, doesn’t it. It makes tactical sense to learn what defeated him before we engage.”
“Of course, Remi, it makes tactical sense to visit your injured brother,” Rafael said dryly. “And when you relieve Mike it will only make sense for him to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, I’m certain.”
“Let me know when Lucifer’s awake and capable of reporting,” Remiel said, nodding farewell to Rafael. “I want to see if Amenadiel has any thoughts on opening the Gates of Heaven without Michael or Uriel to man them.”
Much later Rafael retraced her path, a stack of books balanced on one hip. This time it was Amenadiel sitting on her step. “I know better than to invade your territory without permission,” he said with a hopeful smile, “But I was hoping visiting hours were on the menu.”
“I will gladly leave you in charge of entertaining him while I try to determine why I try to determine why he’s not healing,” Rafael replied.
Amenadiel bit his lip then said, “If Luci’s not in any danger, I could get him out of your hair. Linda and I would be happy to keep an eye on him for you.” He opened the door and held it for Rafael.
“On Earth?” Rafael’s voice rose in disbelief. “You’ve told me that he’s mortal when he’s near Father’s Miracle and when aren’t humans discovering new means of killing one another?”
“He could maintain a safe distance from Detective Decker,” Amenadiel offered, sounding unconvincing even to himself.
“Samael, I’m back,” Rafael called. Only silence answered her.
“Who did you leave to watch him?” Amenadiel asked.
“It hasn’t been that long,” Rafael said with a frown. “Samael knows better than to leave my care without my express approval.”
“Did you secure his word that he wouldn’t leave?” Amenadiel asked.
“He had only shifted from unconsciousness to sleep when I left,” Rafael replied. “I laid out some books and a note instructing him not to strain any of his injuries. He knows better than to leave,” she repeated.
“I’ll just go look for him,” Amenadiel offered. “Can he fly?”
“I had to splint his wing. He shouldn’t,” Rafael said absently as she folded her hands to pray. “Samael, I want you back in bed this instant!”
“Luci won’t answer to that name,” Amenadiel said shaking his head. He started toward the door.
“It’s his name,” Rafael said primly. “I won’t address him by that outdated title he prefers.”
Amenadiel sighed heavily and spread his wings. He had a fairly good guess as to where Lucifer had gone and didn’t foresee any possibility of bringing him back without a fight.
Dan Espinoza was finishing up the paperwork from his last case when Lucifer Morningstar strolled into the precinct if he hadn’t disappeared without a word years earlier. “Douche,” Lucifer greeted Dan but his gaze only paused for a moment before he went back to scanning the room.
Lucifer frowned at Chloe’s empty desk and Dan felt a rush of anger as he thought about the devastation Lucifer had left in the wake of his disappearance… Then Dan remembered his regrets and bit back the words: ‘Are you back or just back long enough to break her heart again?’ While he mentally counted to ten, Dan took a second, longer look at Lucifer, ‘His suit’s loose, he’s lost more than a little weight. Too quickly to get the suit refitted? Because Lucifer definitely would, that or he’d just get a new suit. And what’s with the jacket over the shoulder? Calculated casual isn’t exactly his thing. ...His parlor’s off. Has he been sick? Did Chloe know? Is that why she’s been so defensive of him even when he ditched her? -Apparently ditched her.’
“You look like you’ve been through hell man,” Dan found himself saying.
Lucifer smiled brittlely, “On the nose Daniel. One might think you were a detective.” He twisted around to check if any of the interrogation rooms where busy.
“Chloe caught a case earlier this morning,” Dan said.
“To be expected I suppose,” Lucifer sighed. “Would you have an address? I’m not certain how long I’ll be allowed to stay and she’d kill me if I returned to Earth and failed to see her.”
“L.A., you’re back in L.A.,” Dan corrected rolling his eyes.
“Lucifer!” Ella exclaimed. She immediately wrapped the former consultant in an enthusiastic hug.
Lucifer flinched violently. The jacket fell off his shoulder, revealing an empty, neatly pinned sleeve.
“Lucifer, my God, what happened?” Dan asked in shock.
“For once, I’m all but certain Dad had nothing to do with it,” Lucifer said as Ella hustled both of them into her lab.
“I’m calling Chloe,” the forensic scientist declared. She glanced at Lucifer, sympathy and worry pouring off of her. “You probably don’t want to put yourself through explaining twice.”
Lucifer shrugged elegantly as he resettled his jacket to camouflage his missing limb. “What is there to say? I was careless. As a result I’ve been granted a furlough from Hell in which to regroup and recover, my first officially sanctioned vacation one might say… Not that anyone bothered to ask where I wanted to take it.”
“Are you okay?” Ella asked, eyes shining with sympathy.
Dan winced at the question but Lucifer only grinned, “If I’d known this was what it took to get a little time off I would have done it myself eons ago… Not that Amenadiel gave up on sending me back to Hell after I had Maze cut off both my wings and then burned them. This time they my sibling dragged me bodily back to the Silver City.” He shook his head as if baffled by his sibling’s behavior.
Dan tried and failed to wrap his head around Lucifer equating the cosplay wings that had been stolen from him years ago with the loss of a very real arm.
Lucifer glanced around warily, “Actually if you see one of my siblings loitering about, give me a warning. I’d prefer to avoid another Devil-napping.”
“Snuck out of the hospital?” Dan asked, earning a confirming grin.
“Your family’s probably worried sick,” Ella scolded.
“Hypocrites the lot of them, pretending they care,” Lucifer muttered darkly.
“Lucifer?” The three of them turn to see Chloe enter, Amenadiel a step behind her.
“Detective,” Lucifer breathed.
Dan watched Chloe fit herself carefully against Lucifer’s side and assumed that Amenadiel had updated her about his injury.
Then, with a pout, Lucifer added, “You spoiled my entrance. You were supposed to be here.”
“What can I say, I was assigned a case,” Chloe replied patting Lucifer’s chest.
Lucifer leaned toward her, brushing his cheek across the top of her head. “Were you now? Well, I suppose we’d best be about it then.”
“Luci!” Amenadiel scolded. “You’ve barely quite bleeding. Even if you won’t stay with Raffie you have to take it easy!”
“For Dad’s sake, this was cauterized ages ago,” Lucifer said with a roll of his eyes and a nod towards his missing arm. “Would have been disastrous for them had I actually died and, unfortunately, they knew it. Be sure to let Rafael know that Bedial’s efforts on my behalf were more effective than hers, would you? Of course he was more motivated.”
“We’re trying to help you Luci,” Amenadiel protested. For his trouble he earned a sneer from his younger brother.
“I’m headed to a high school to do interviews,” Chloe interjected. “It shouldn’t be dangerous, they’re not even suspects.”
“Then why are we bothering?” Lucifer asked, his attention refocusing on her.
“Possible arson, killed almost an entire family. The fifteen year old son, Jeff Mulcahy, is missing,” Chloe said. “I’m hoping his friends will have some leads.” She turned back to Amenadiel. “If anything more exciting than talking comes up, Lucifer can wait in the car.”
“I could wait,” Lucifer confirmed eyes alight with mischief.
“AKA he won’t wait,” Dan whispered to Ella. “Not lying and honest aren’t even in the same zip code when it comes to that guy.”
From the look Amenadiel turned on Chloe he wasn’t fooled by his younger brother either. Amenadiel clearly expected Chloe to help wrangle a real promise from Lucifer. But Chloe just smiled up at Lucifer and after a moment Amendiel sighed and confronted his brother himself. “Lucifer, have you forgotten her effect on you? Given what they attempted, and your current condition, you can’t take any risks!”
“Bravo Brother, you’ve almost managed to sound like you care.” Lucifer raised his hand as if preparing to applaud only to realize that he couldn’t complete the gesture. For a moment they all froze. “Almost,” Lucifer repeated dropping his hand. “But no prize.”
“Luci, we do care!” Amenadiel protested determinedly.
“Oh, of course,” Lucifer replied with a bright, plastic grin that immediately morphed into a snarl. “I suppose it has occurred to you lot that, if I am DEAD, then one of YOU will, by necessity, have the singular honor of assuming my place in Father’s grand design and ruling Hell. Oh the horror of it! One of Father’s loyal, righteous children forced into the position I never wanted! Whatever would you do were I dead and no longer available to do Father’s dirty work? Quarrel among yourself as who is deserving of such an honor? Question Father if he selects you? What would you do were the role of universal scapegoat be left vacant? So of course you care, Brother! Of course you do.” Fury faded into raw hurt as Lucifer finished.
Amenadiel’s expression crumpled into misery. “If you die now-“ he broke off, unable to continue.
“Amenadiel, why don’t you tag along,” Chloe suggested carefully. “If anything more than talking occurs you’ll be there to intervene.”
Lucifer gave a put upon sigh. “If the Detective wishes it then I must give you leave to hover. You or Azrael. If any of the others attempt to get close to me, I swear, there will be bloodshed.” With that Lucifer swept out, Chloe at his side, Amenadiel trailing after him.
Dan and Ella stood in the door to the lab and watched them go. “Man, he is dedicated to his method acting,” Ella said.
Dan shook his head. “I don’t know where ‘Hell’ translates to in the real world,” he said. “But this isn’t the first time Lucifer’s come from there with actual injuries. He’s got scars on his back, Ella. Huge, symmetrical scars. And everything I dug up about him says he came to L.A. with them...”
“Yeah,” Dan confirmed.
“So, we’re not talking heavy machinery ‘I was careless’ then,” Ella said.
Dan shook his head. “Not likely. ‘Hell’ is probably less of an exaggeration than we’d like to think.”
Ella thought for several moments. “Lucifer said this was a vacation. He’s going to go back.” Determination filled her eyes. “I’m not gonna stand by and let him.” She gave Dan a narrow eyed look, “That means no more shit from you!”
Dan held up his hands in surrender, “I was out of line, way outta line, I know that. I nearly got both him and Trixie killed, there is no way I’d go back to acting like that.”
“You better not,” Ella said. She smiled brightly and put a friendly hand on Dan’s shoulder. “I’ll be watching, for your sake too. Friends help each other.”
“Yeah, I won’t say no to a supplemental conscience,” Dan said. He looked thoughtful, “There should be hospital records, police reports. Maybe we can figure out who hurt him.”
“That’s a great idea,” Ella said enthusiastically. “I’ve got alerts set up to ping me if a John Doe matching his description enters the system… With Interpol as well as most US databases. So he must have used a fake name.”
“Or his actual name,” Dan suggested.
“I’ll redefine my search,” Ella said.
She turned back to her lab then stifled a yelp at the sight of a small teenager with a pageboy cut peering through the blinds. Ella glanced worriedly at Dan then smiled oddly, “No time like the present,” she declared as she shooed him away and slammed the door behind him.
“Rae-Rae!” Ella hissed. “I thought we agreed: Hanging out is fine but not at work!”
“Not hanging, hiding,” Azrael explained in a whisper without looking away from the window.
“The invisible ghost girl’s hiding? From who!?” Ella demanded.
“My brother,” Azrael said as she ducked so only her eyes and the top of her head were poking up.
“Is your brother a ghost too?” Ella asked rushing over to the window. “Does it run in your family, turning into ghosts?”
“Lu’s not a ghost,” Azrael said as Ella caught a last glimpse of Lucifer and Chloe heading out to the garage.
“Lu? Lucifer? Oh my God! You’re Lucifer’s sister?” Ella’s eyes popped wide. “Lucifer is his REAL name.”
“Well, sort of,” Azrael prevaricated.
“And your other brother is Amenadiel, which is a sort of Angel-y name. And you used to complain about your asshole brothers Mike and Uri- Michael and Uriel?!? And- And Rae-Rae, Azrael?! Your full name is AZRAEL? Like the Angel of Death, Azrael?”
Azrael looked queasy as she nodded. “It’s not like you’re thinking-”
“Dude, don’t take this the wrong way,” Ella continued. “But your parents are messed up, big time! What were they thinking giving you and Lucifer names like that? -I mean, you know that I think the Devil gets a bad rap and death is just a natural part of life. Of course you know! You’re the first person I’d always talk to when I had questions about faith- But still! Names like that? Were your parents trying to give you a complex?”
Azrael sagged with relief. “You could sort of say that,” she said with a weak smile. “I didn’t see it back then but I’ve seen stuff, you know, being a ghost and all… I mean, my family likes to pretend that everything was great before Lu started acting out. Only Mom and Dad were already fighting… And I- well- I sort of think they used to use Lu to fight through.”
“Shit,” Ella swore. “Wait- You shouldn’t be telling me stuff like this! I don’t think Lucifer would like it. And you! You shouldn’t be hiding at a time like this,” Ella scolded. “You’re his family. I get it: Your family’s all fucked up, mine is too so I’m talking from experience here. It doesn’t matter! He needs you.”
“It’s not that simple,” Azrael protested. “I always meant to go see Lu after he got kicked out. I really meant to but I didn’t and you heard him just now! He thinks none of us give a shit about him. It’s bad Lopez, real bad. Lu doesn’t say things unless he means it! He can’t even imagine we’d rescue him except to use him. I didn’t mean to abandon him, I didn’t.”
Ella’s mouth dropped open, “Rae-Rae? Did IT happen after Lucifer got kicked out? Does he even know you’re dead?”
“Ummm no? No, Lucifer does not know I’m dead,” Azrael latched on to the conclusion Ella had leapt to like it was a life-line. “And I’d like to keep it that way, hence the hiding.”
Chloe stayed glued to Lucifer’s side as they entered the parking garage beneath the precinct. “How- how long do we have?” Chloe asked, dreading the answer.
“Micheal and Remi will guard the Gates of Hell until Luci’s well,” Amenadiel declared.
“Or until they decide I’m malingering,” Lucifer added, falsely cheerful.
“No! Luci,” Amenadiel protested.
“I trust the help of my siblings who art in Heaven as far- Well as far as Charlie can throw you, Brother-dear,” Lucifer exclaimed. “Which is why I came here, to people I actually trust, to-” He turned to Chloe, suddenly looking uncertain and guilty. “I wanted to come home, to heal, but me being here. I’m hurting you again aren’t I?”
“No!” Chloe said immediately, leaning into him. “Here is exactly where you should be. Never hesitate to come home. I’ll take you here, now, for however long we have... Even if it means watching you leave again.”
“There is nowhere I’d rather be,” Lucifer replied his voice softening. “For as long as I can.”
Chapter 4: Catching Up
“We were hoping to speak with some of Jeff Mulcahy’s friends,” Chloe told the school’s counselor. She chose not to look at the sound of scuffling behind her.
The councilor’s mouth fell open as Lucifer stamped on Amenadiel’s foot. “He’s being rude,” Lucifer explained blithely. “I can hardly elbow him if he persists in crowding my left side.”
“I’m just-“ Amenadiel began.
Chloe groaned. “You, over there,” she ordered pointing Amenadiel toward the door while tugging Lucifer’s shoulder to put herself between the two of them. “Everyone happy?”
Amenadiel considered the room and grudgingly nodded when he realized that Chloe had left him with control over the only egress. And, somehow, in the process of separating Lucifer and Amenadiel, Chloe had ended up with Lucifer’s chest pressed firmly against her back. He showed no interest in moving away from her. Even when Lucifer started running his hand lightly up and down her arm Chloe realized she had no interest in trying to enforce a professional distance between them.
Chloe put her hand over Lucifer’s and smiled at the counselor. “You were saying?”
“Oh- Yes, Jeff,” the counselor stammered. “I can’t really help you. He’s something of a loner, not involved in any school activities, average grades although his tests indicate that he should be doing better… Nothing at all like his older sister. I spent a lot of time with Kelly last year, helping her with her college applications, honors student, star of the volleyball team. Such a wonderful girl, very intelligent, very athletic-”
“And very dead,” Lucifer interrupted callously. Both Chloe and Amenadiel winced. “Her brother might not be.” He grinned preditorially as he leaned into Chloe a bit. “Jeff might have killed her. So shall we focus on him for a moment?”
Chloe tapped Lucifer’s hand in a subtle reprimand. “We need to find Jeff,” she said. “He’s missing. He may be in danger. He might have information about what happened to his family. Do you have any idea of where he would go or who he would talk to?”
“I’m sorry,” the counselor said.
“Lab partners… Even students who he has multiple classes with?” Chloe asked, grasping at straws. A trace on Jeff’s cell phone had failed. So far, beyond the lack of a body, there was nothing at the crime scene to indicate whether or not Jeff had been home that night or even that week.
A half-hour later the first of the students on the list they’d put together slunk into the conference room. His mouth dropped open at the sight of Lucifer and Chloe staring soulfully into each other’s eyes. Amenadiel gave the boy a sympathetic eye-roll and cleared his throat loudly before turning around. Lucifer smirked. Chloe blushed. Amenadiel groaned.
“Thanks for squeezing me in,” Dan said as he sat on the edge of Linda’s couch, elbows on his knees, staring at the floor.
“I’m glad you called,” Linda said. “Did something happen?”
“You probably know Lucifer’s back?” Dan asked.
Linda smiled awkwardly, “Yes I heard. He is practically my brother-in-law as well my patient.”
“Yeah,” Dan sighed. “Should I- Is this okay? Talking to you about Lucifer? I mean, we have, a lot but he was gone then and-”
“It’s not ideal,” Linda admitted. “But-”
“-It’s Lucifer,” Dan agreed. “You know, it would almost make more sense if he actually was the Devil.”
“Wouldn’t it just?” Linda said wryly. “I can recommend a different therapist if you’re not comfortable talking to me about Lucifer.”
Dan shook his head, “If I tried to explain Lucifer to someone who hadn’t met him they’d probably think he was some sort of Tyler Durden thing.”
“The there’s the department psychiatrist,” Linda suggested. “He has met Lucifer.”
“That’s one way to put it,” Dan pulled a face. “We had to interview two months worth of his hook-ups once, the staff psychiatrist and his wife were both on the list. At least you-”
Linda couldn’t help the blush that stained her cheeks.
“-Don’t rave about whatever the hell he did with you in bed,” Dan concluded. “It’s a little weird, how intertwined everything is. But I’m okay with it if you are. I knew you were pregnant with Amenadiel’s kid the first time I showed up at your office.”
“So what’s bothering you?” Linda asked.
“I don’t know. You’d think it’d be a relief. I mean, you and Amenadiel both told me he wasn’t dead but, well- Did I tell you about what he was saying right before he vanished? About hating himself? I’ve been expecting- But, yeah, it didn’t happen, thank God. I should feel relieved, instead I feel,” Dan sighed heavily. “Out sync?”
Linda gestured for him to go on.
“You know how I blamed him for Charlotte and the shit I was pulling back then: After she died, before he vanished. I think Lucifer telling me point blank that he wasn’t responsible for Charlotte dying- I think I always knew but hearing it was the kick I needed to get me here, looking for help. And since then I’ve done a lot to patch things up with everyone… Except him. Lucifer was just gone before I was ready. I know I was wrong to blame him for Charlotte but him leaving tore Chloe apart and- Seeing him yesterday, turns out I’m still mad at him but then- God, I thought I was gonna throw up when I saw his arm, I just felt so guilty.”
Linda winced but quickly forced herself to focus on the patient in front of her. “Why would you feel guilty?” she asked.
Dan gritted his teeth. “Because I wished it. The last real conversation we had? That was the one where he told me he hated himself. He was messed up and I- I tried to hurt him. Only this? His arm? When he first set up camp in Chloe’s life, I checked him out okay? Not exactly legal but wouldn’t you? Anyway, there were dozens of articles about Lucifer being a world class pianist, what a treat the music at Lux is but that’s nothing compared to actually seeing him play; he loves it and now he can’t. And I wanted him to get hurt. God, I wanted this!”
“Dan,” Linda said firmly. “You had nothing to do with Lucifer’s injuries.”
“But I could have,” Dan said.
“In the past you’ve talked about feeling frustrated at how no one would hold you accountable for your actions after Charlotte died,” Linda said.
Dan nodded, “I know it wasn’t really the same but it reminded me of how my screwups with Malcolm got swept under the rug even though I nearly got Trixie and Chloe killed because I didn’t man-up sooner.”
“Do you expect- No, do you want Lucifer to hold you accountable for what might have happened two years ago?” Linda asked.
Dan closed his eyes and sighed, “Want? Yeah, probably. I was doing everything I could to hurt him and what does he do? He calls me names and pulls stupid pranks! I gave Malcolm the gun he planned to shoot Lucifer with and I know Lucifer helped get me off for that.”
“You also confessed to prevent Lucifer from being framed,” Linda reminded him.
“His priorities are skewed,” Dan replied while thinking, ‘And he doesn’t know everything. He doesn’t know about Tiernan.’
“Is that what you think now? If he doesn’t hold your actions two years ago against you?”
“Fuck, he’s missing an arm,” Dan said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s totally forgotten my shit from back then. Doesn’t stop me from remembering, every time I look at him.”
Linda shrugged, “You’ve been here before haven’t you? Feeling like you need to make amends, even though no one is demanding restitution from you.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Dan said. He took a deep breath, “I can stop being.. a douche to him without explaining why. ‘Cause asking him to deal with my shit right now would be selfish. Actually... I’ve got to go talk to Ella. Thanks, Linda, you’ve been a big help.”
“It’s catching,” Linda muttered to herself as she watched Dan leap up and hurry out.
“Are you back at the Lux?” Chloe asked after they finished the interviews.
“He can stay with Linda and I,” Amenadiel answered before Lucifer could.
“I didn’t procreate,” Lucifer objected. “Why should I be subject to your spawn’s wailing at all hours?”
“Charlie has been sleeping through the night for more than a year now,” Amenadiel reported with both pride and relief.
“Oh,” Lucifer said quietly. He turned to Chloe. “I suppose Beatrice has also grown? Dating, I imagine?”
“Thankfully you and Dan are still the only boys worthy of her regard,” Chloe assured him. “But we are... negotiating make-up, past yes-no and on to how much.”
“If she needs any tips,” Lucifer offered.
Chloe laughed. “So yes to Lux? I’ll drop you off,” she said, something stirred uneasily in her chest as she did.
“My corvette’s still at the precinct,” Lucifer argued.
“No,” Chloe said shaking her head.
“What? Why?” Lucifer asked.
“It’s a manual,” Chloe said then she glanced at his missing arm and winced. “How’d you shift and not crash?”
“Well, I can put a knee against the wheel to keep it on course for a bit can’t I?” Lucifer exclaimed. “It’s not that hard to manage.”
“It’s not safe!” Chloe protested. “And you look exhausted. I’ll drive you in tomorrow.”
“Stay overnight and I might think about it,” Lucifer offered with a salacious grin.
“I- Yeah,” Chloe said. “Actually, yeah, that sounds great. Trix is with Dan tonight, so yeah. I’ll clock out, stop by home and grab some clothes…” Chloe bit back the words, ‘And never let you out of my sight again.’
“Detective…” Lucifer purred sensually. Then he threw a quick glance into the back seat. “Brother, I suggest you find somewhere else to be.”
“Too late, I already texted Linda, she’s meeting us at the penthouse,” Amenadiel said smugly.
Lucifer visibly pouted for several minutes then his expression smoothed over, “I was planning on speaking with dear Dr. Linda,” he allowed. “I suppose there is no purpose in putting it off.”
Twenty minutes later the elevator doors slid open to reveal Maze, posed challengingly in the middle of the penthouse while Linda stood near the couch with Charlie balanced on one hip. Chloe and Amenadiel froze, over the last two years they’d heard more than a few rants about how Maze intended to show Lucifer her appreciation for being left behind. Lucifer stepped away from Chloe and Linda, meeting Maze’s glare with a flash of red in his eyes.
Everyone held their breath.
Charlie yanked at Linda’s blouse, demanding attention then pointed and asked, “Unca Luci, Mama?”
Lucifer’s gaze jerked to the toddler, eyes wide with shock.
Linda smiled and nodded, “Right, Angel, that’s your Uncle Lucifer.” She met Lucifer’s eyes and, clearly projecting her intent to hug him, took a step forward.
“You- you told him who I am?” Lucifer asked, shades of awe and disbelief filling his voice.
Linda carefully wrapped an arm around his waist and leaned into him. “Of course we did,” she said. “You’re a part of this family.”
Charlie added his own greeting, lunging past his mother to wrap both arms around Lucifer’s neck. “Charlie, no!” Linda exclaimed as his leap over-balanced her. Reflexively Lucifer steadied Linda and Amenadiel jumped to put a supporting hand under Charlie.
For the first time all day Lucifer didn’t jerk away from Amenadiel. “Brother, you didn’t- You told him good things about me? I thought-”
Amenadiel looked regretful and Chloe remembered that Lucifer made a clear mental distinction between being a good person and caring about him: Backing out of Kinley’s plan had proved to Lucifer that she wouldn’t take an active role in sending him back to Hell but to Lucifer it hadn’t been proof that she didn’t want him there.
“Of course we told him who his godfather is,” Amenadiel said. “I know the title bothers you but I wouldn’t have anyone else.”
Seeing Lucifer squirming, pleased but clearly uncomfortable, Maze relaxed. She gestured to his missing arm, “This is what happens when I’m not around to watch your back.”
“You had better things to do,” Lucifer replied with a glance at Charlie, Linda and Chloe.
“What happened anyway?” Maze demanded.
“I’d like to hear as well, Brother,” Amenadiel said. “You fled Rafael’s care the moment you regained consciousness.”
“The rest of you might have taken leave of your senses forgotten that Father kicked me out but I haven’t,” Lucifer said and Amenadiel flinched. “After spending Dad knows how long as a wall-ornament I wasn’t in the mood to risk His wrath.”
“Me, I’d puke, being surrounded by all those self-righteous hypocrites you call family,” Maze announced. “But seriously, how’d you lose? You’ve handled thousands of coup attempts,” She glanced at Chloe. “That’s not an exaggeration. And Lucifer, no crap about being careless, you’re careless because no one in the Infernal Realm stands a chance against you when you get serious. You subdued the Primordial Darkness and you command all who were born of your conquest.”
Lucifer glanced away. “There was a lot of unrest while we were gone,” he said. “Dromos and his followers were all that was left of the Lilim.”
Maze sucked air in between her teeth. “There’s a whole new generation?”
“I was gone too long,” Lucifer admitted.
“What does that mean?” Chloe demanded.
“Demons are condensed Darkness,” Maze said. “And we’re soulless. The Darkness is indestructible but that which makes me individual dies with me.”
“Many, many demons were killed while I was gone,” Lucifer took over. “I believe their released Darkness condensed into something new, something big… Something that doesn’t answer to me. And I was distracted.” He turned to Linda. “Delilah is in Hell. You have to explain her guilt to me. I’ve been through her loop dozens of times and I don’t understand why she is there, I can’t release her.”
Linda handed Charlie off to Amenadiel. “Normally I’d say something about Doctor-Patient Confidentiality but… Delilah is in Hell?!?”
“I thought it might be because of me,” Lucifer confided. “Either because she didn’t understand what it meant to make a deal with me or because she was unable to repay my favor before she was murdered.”
“Yeah, one of your favorite humans ended up in Hell, you’re all focused on that,” Maze interrupted. “But back to the important stuff: The Lilim are dead? Something new in Hell, powerful enough to unseat you?”
Lucifer looked mutinous and Linda was clearly lost in thought about her former patient but Amenadiel nodded along with Maze. “Luci, if there’s something in Hell that can actually challenge you, Michael might not be able to contain it either.”
“This only occurred to you now?” Lucifer snapped. “Not when I was being hauled out of Hell like a sack of meal?”
“I thought- When Rae-Rae called for backup, I remembered what happened,” Amenadiel glanced warily at Chloe, “When you returned to Hell the mortal way. I thought you might have become trapped again.”
“No, Doctor Linda is quite exceptional. My door remains but after our conversations on the subject I have been able to resist the urge to pass through it.” Lucifer turned to Linda. “Which is why I need you to teach me how to fix Deliliah and those like her. You know how to make guilt manageable.”
“Lucifer, you need to tell us everything. We need to have a plan,” Amenadiel ordered.
“I have a plan,” Lucifer replied. “Be home, get better. Get pointers from Dr. Linda on how to deal with the innocents being tortured in my domain. I conquered Hell before, half-dead from Dad kicking me out-” Amenadiel winced. Lucifer continued, “-I won’t lose the next time I face that thing.”
“Luci, that’s not a plan!” Amenadiel protested. More quietly he added, “You don’t have to be what you were back then. You have us, your family. We’ll help you.”
“You’ll help me?” Lucifer sneered. “You’ve never helped me except to further you own ends.”
“Lucifer,” Chloe broke in, pressing her hand to his chest. “Do you trust me to help you?”
“Of course, Detective.” The tension drained out of Lucifer’s frame as he stared into her eyes.
“Then let your siblings help,” Chloe said. “I’ve thought and thought but the only ways I could come up with needed the help of other Celestials. So I don’t care if their motives are selfish or whatever. If it gives us options for keeping you out of Hell or making it safer, more tolerable, we’ll take it.”
“When you put it that way,” Lucifer said. “I can hardly argue.”
“Luci,” Amenadiel began when the arrival of take-out gave him a modicum of privacy with his brother, “You’re not- No one would have sent you away- Not when you were hurt like that.”
Lucifer stared at him like he was speaking in tongues. “Of course you would. You have. Or did you think I walked away from my Fall unharmed?”
“They were going to unmake you,” Amenadiel exclaimed.
Lucifer flinched, “I suppose Azrael’s blade does put a new slant on things.” Then he smiled, wide and insincere. “I’d expect there would be some who would say I deserve no less but, as I said, it would be a problem for the rest of you were I not around.”
“It’s not like that,” Amenadiel’s voice broke.
Lucifer’s gaze softened. “Alright, not you. Contact with humanity has made you positively sentimental, Brother. Still, I simply can’t understand why Michael and Remiel would bother rescuing me when slicing my throat would have resolved the matter more efficiently.”
“Lucifer stop! None of want to see you dead,” Amenadiel protested.
“A simple Celestial or Infernal blade, it’s not as if death would stick,” Lucifer rolled his eyes. “I’d just pop up somewhere else in Hell, find a convenient hole and wait to heal, it’s not as if I haven’t done it before.”
Amenadiel looked sick. “I thought-”
“This may be the first time I’ve encountered a demon who could equal me,” Lucifer said. “But Hell is full of demons, Brother and you, of all people, know how long I’ve been there. They’re not known for talking out differences. A coup attempt at least once a decade. Two or three malcontents a year who make it far enough for an assassination attempt. I may be stronger and Maze is certainly more vicious than any other demon but every now and then someone is bound to get a lucky hit, it’s simple odds.”
A look of illumination crossed Lucifer’s face, “Oh! You all thought I’d just lay there after dying in Hell as Cain did upon dying while his soul was bound to the Earthly plane?” He grinned bitterly. “Like it or not, I’m still of Heaven, Brother. When I die in Hell or on Earth I’m recalled to Heaven, only I bounce. A little reminder of my banishment. Don’t tell Dad but it actually comes in quite handy. Or did you think it was for my benefit that my little mutineers didn’t allow me to bleed out? I’m actually quite surprised you managed to drag me back up at all, perhaps the rules are different if I have an escort. I wouldn’t know, it’s not like any of you ever tried to bring me back before.”
“I should have,” Amenadiel said, his voice thick with regret. “Luci, please believe me, no one knew you’d burn when you Fell. We didn’t know, I swear. I went after you, when I saw but I thought-”
“You came after me?” Lucifer asked in shock.
“I was too late,” Amenadiel said. “What had been minutes in the Celestial Plane became centuries in the Infernal. You were alive but- An eighth of Hell had been annihilated. I’d fought demons, I knew their strength but you- The air was so thick with Darkness, it burned my lungs and- And I was afraid. I fled. I’m sorry Luci, I should have-”
“I thought no one came,” Lucifer said quietly. “I remember, you all just stood and watched while Father cast me out but you came after me. You, Father’s obedient soldier, I certainly didn’t expect that!” He shrugged, “And- Well, I’ve heard from Maze and Lilith what I was when I first arrived in Hell. I doubt you could have brought me back had you tried.”
Amenadiel smiled weakly and patted Lucifer on the shoulder, he looked more troubled than relieved at being forgiven.
“Chloe, are you alright?” Linda asked.
Chloe glanced through the open doorway towards Lucifer’s bar and saw Amenadiel speaking intently to his brother. Maze had been tasked with getting Charlie into a bib before dinner and from the giggles as the demon hunted the little boy around the penthouse, it was obviously a well-established game between the pair. Chloe wondered if Linda and Amenadiel had conspired to separate her and Lucifer for private conversations.
“I’m fine,” she said.
Linda didn’t look impressed. “These last two years have been hard on you. Then all of this? He’s back but only until he heals. -I’m still trying to wrap my head around their expectation that Lucifer will regrow his arm, somehow it was easier when it was wings popping out.- It wouldn’t be unusual for you to have some conflicted feelings.”
“Nope,” Chloe replied. “You know what the last two years taught me, Linda? That, with one big exception, my regrets are about things I didn’t do. All the time I spent dithering about whether Lucifer and I was right or would it last.” She shook her head. “I’m not doing that again. I want Lucifer to stay. We all know walking away from Hell isn’t as simple as Lucifer saying he’s retired now and there’s not a whole lot I can do to help him, at least not directly. But, this time, I’m not going to overthink it: I’m in love with Lucifer, he loves me. I want to be with him. I want to be sure he doesn’t give up without a fight because the alternative is asking his family for help.”
“Lucifer might not have a choice about going back,” Linda said. “I’ve met his mother, a few of Charlie’s aunts and uncles… The only one who really cares about humans is so overburdened with her own tasks that she can’t help.”
“Is this about Delilah?” Chloe asked.
“Yes,” Linda admitted readily. “She doesn’t deserve Hell and Lucifer might be the only one who can, who would even try to help her.”
“I’m more worried about Lucifer,” Chloe said. “He doesn’t deserve to be trapped in Hell either. Once you get past the whole angels, demons, devil thing they’re people too.”
“I have had the epiphany,” Linda said dryly.
“But have you ever really listened to Amenadiel talk about angels and their purposes?” Chloe asked. “Because even with his ideas about angelic self-actualization I’m still not sure that he got the memo that they’re not cogs in some sort of Divine Plan… A plan that they don’t understand anymore than us humans do.”
“Which is progress,” Linda muttered to herself. “Big progress. Nothing good comes from them thinking they know what The Plan is. If it’s not Lucifer doing utterly stupid things to go against it, it’s Amenadiel doing even more stupid things to forward it. Whatever they might think ‘IT’ is on any given day.”
Chloe snorted at that, having had more than her share of dealing with Lucifer jumping to conclusions. “I know you’re worried about Delilah but I’m worried that Lucifer’s right, that his siblings will be all too ready to decide that he’s the one designated to rule over Hell and it’s his problem alone if things are messed up there. It’s what they’ve always done isn’t it?”
“Rae-Rae?” Ella asked the self-declared ghost as she prepared dinner for herself. “What do you know about Lucifer’s hell?”
“Er,” Azrael fidgeted with her hands. “Ashy, lots of doors, a bunch of demons playing King of the Hill for reals until Lu knocks ‘em back in line just ‘cause they’ve got nothing better to do- You know, it’s not like I’m against Lu having friends, taking breaks and stuff. When I heard he was hanging around with a police detective and then you were thinking about taking a transfer to the same precinct I was totes stoked for you guys to meet! I mean I couldn’t be your cool big sib anymore ‘cause...” Azrael gestured to her teenage-self.
She hesitated for a moment then added, “Even though I look like this I really am older than you still. You know that right?”
“You were totally born before me,” Ella agreed without quite agreeing.
“But it’s a little weird, I realize,” Azrael said. “It doesn’t feel like it did when you were a little itty-bitty thing. And I wasn’t being much of a little sister to Lu anymore, so…. I knew you two would hit it off. Lu was always my best big brother, the one I could be me around.”
“Oh that’s so sweet,” Ella said. “But...”
“But?” Azrael asked with a grimace.
“You don’t want Lucifer to be miserable, you care about him. But your lead up?” Ella grimaced. “You’re not against Lucifer having friends... But, the way you say it? I’m guessing that’s not exactly a popular opinion with your family. This ‘Hell’ place sounds awful and I know Lucifer gets hurt being there… But you think he should go back.”
“Dad wouldn’t have given Lu the job if he couldn’t handle it, if he wasn’t designed to be the best person to do it,” Azrael said. “Lu makes himself miserable fighting against what he’s supposed to be instead of figuring out how to work with it. I mean my job sucks too but I wouldn’t have met you if I didn’t have it and I love hanging out with you. I can handle a few hours less sleep and still get the job done easy, no matter what Mike says.”
“Okay, kinda creeped out right now,” Ella replied. “‘Cause Lucifer’s not a method actor and both of you talk about your dad like he’s actually the Big Guy. And also, you had to skimp on sleeping to spend time with me? What is with your family, Rae-Rae? I used to think me being your only friend made sense, ‘cause of you being a ghost and all. You know, because most people can’t even see you. But you don’t have TIME to have friends and sleep too? That is not okay, Rae-Rae! Wait! Ghosts have to sleep? And what sort of job can a ghost have?!?”
Azrael squirmed, ‘Getting why Lu omits instead of lying.’
“And your family kicking Lucifer out? Just for the record: Not okay!” Suddenly the blood drained from Ella’s face. “Oh God! Can people in your family see ghosts too? Rae-Rae, did your dad kill you?!? So you could do- whatever?”
“No!” Azrael squawked. “No! No! No! Nobody killed me, Ella, I swear. Especially not Dad. Honestly! I just- After Lu got kicked out, I was going to visit, I swear I was. But-”
“But you died,” Ella said sympathetically.
“Something like that,” Azrael replied. “I would have, but- I didn’t know he was thinking all those awful things about us hating him. I always thought- Lu and Mom were gone but they weren’t gone-gone. I always thought Dad would- Would fix it, ya know, someday. That Lucifer just had to come home and ask Dad to help him straighten things out. I didn’t know that Lu thinks he’s forbidden to come home. He thinks Dad kicked him out! He wouldn’t say it if he didn’t believe it but, Ella, that’s not what happened! How can Lucifer remember it wrong?”
“Rae-Rae, what happened to Lucifer?” Ella asked seriously.
“It wasn’t Dad but he didn’t stop it either,” Azrael said. She swallowed, “That’s as good as having His approval in a lot of my family’s eyes. I mean what else can we do? Dad stopped telling us what he wanted, all we can do is guess! And Uri could see what was going to happen: If Lu kept on like he was it was going to be really bad. But no one meant for him to get hurt like that.”
“So your siblings decided Lucifer was going to do-”
“Cause,” Azrael corrected. “And Uri- You’ve seen Lu do his desire thing, I know you have. -Seeing patterns was the same for Uriel. If he said it was going to happen, it was as good as done: We were all going to end up fighting and hurting each other if Lu wasn’t stopped.”
Ella nodded, “-Lucifer was going to cause something bad to happen. So some of your brothers and sisters threw him out and he got hurt in the process. Your parents and the rest of you didn’t do anything to stop it or to help him after he got hurt, you all just left him.”
Azrael hunched her shoulders in making herself small and nodded.
“I don’t want to be mean, but come on,” Ella said. “After that you’re surprised Lucifer doesn’t think you care about him?”
“He was wrong-”
“You’re telling me Lucifer got hurt bad enough that it scrambled his brains? I don’t think he was the only one who was in the wrong,” Ella said flatly.
“What am I supposed to do?” Azrael asked.
“Make the first move!” Ella exclaimed then her expression fell, “Except, you’d have to explain about being dead. Man that is going to be one weird conversation… Why didn’t Amenadiel ever tell him? He’s not estranged, right? So he knows.”
Azrael gave Ella a sickly smile. “Amenadiel doesn’t know I’m a ghost,” she said. “But, hypothetically, if I weren’t a ghost, you really think I should talk to Lu? Even though he’s really bitter right now and he did- Well he was going to get everyone hurt?”
“If you want to ever talk to him again? Hell yeah!” Ella said. “Whatever he did, or whatever ‘Minority Report’ bullshit was going on, at the end of the day you guys threw him out, left him alone and hurting. He might change because of that and maybe it’s even in the way you guys wanted. But he’s never going to reach out to any of you, not if he’s got any sense of self-preservation.”
“So I’ve still got hope then?” Azrael asked with a small grin.
“I thought you didn’t want him to know you were dead?” Ella asked, confused.
“Yeah, that,” Azrael groaned.
“Lucifer, were you actually trying to kill this-this archdemon or were you doing your normal thing and trying to get it to submit?” Maze demanded.
“Are you sure it’s something new, Brother?” Amenadiel asked over her. “Could one of the Old Ones have survived when you subdued Hell?”
After a moment of awkward silence Linda announced, “And we lost them. Again.”
While they’d been strategizing, Chloe had curled up against Lucifer’s side, her head resting against his chest. Lucifer rubbed his cheek against her hair smiling softly as Chloe had begun playing idly with the top button of his shirt.
Maze groaned. She grabbed an orange out of the fruit bowl and beaned Lucifer with it. “Would you two just fuck already? Get it out of your system so we can focus on Lucifer getting overthrown as the King of Hell.”
“Mmm, an excellent suggestion,” Lucifer replied distractedly. “Why don’t you all run along now.”
“We’re all too tired to think straight anyway,” Chloe added. “Amenadiel, you can join us at the station tomorrow if your still planning on tagging along on our case. But you saw today, police work isn’t all shootouts and car chases. You don’t have to come.”
“That’s it? You’re just going to go on with your stupid dead humans when Hell’s under the control of some complete unknown?” Maze demanded angrily.
“There is some logic to Luci returning to his old routine, the frame of mind he had in L.A., to restore his arm,” Amenadiel offered. “That’s what I’ve been telling Raffie to keep her from dragging him back to the Silver City.”
Never looking away from Chloe, Lucifer purred, “Perhaps it’s just what I need to kick-start angelic regenerative powers… Choosing where I want to touch first would be a challenge even with both hands.”
“Like I buy that,” Maze snorted. “You haven’t even looked at your piano all night. If you thought wanting two hands was enough to heal you, that’s the first place you’d go.”
“Maze!” Amenadiel and Chloe exclaimed when Lucifer flinched making it obvious that Maze had been right about him avoiding his piano.
The demon ignored them. “Unless you don’t want to heal,” she challenged Lucifer.
“So Linda,” Maze continued remorselessly. “If feathery wings symbolize feeling ‘worthy’, the Devil face and bat-wings were self-hate and Amenadiel’s continued inability to stop time is about not wanting separation from humans, then what’s a missing arm mean? And how do we fix him.”
“Maze! That is enough!” Linda said sternly. “Why don’t you go collect Charlie.”
“Whatever,” Maze said. She headed towards the guest room where the toddler had been put to bed.
“I should book an appointment,” Lucifer said to Linda.
Linda nodded, “Tomorrow?” She gave Amenadiel and the returning Maze a warning look. “Without a peanut gallery, is that understood?”
“I need to stay close,” Amenadiel protested looking both uncomfortable and shifty. “Both tonight and tomorrow.”
“No,” Lucifer stated.
Maze rolled her eyes. She passed the drowsy toddler over to Linda then herded Amenadiel into the elevator. “I have rooms one level down,” she pointed out. “Decker’s not into being watched.”
When the elevator doors slid shut she added, “What aren’t you telling us, Feather-Brain?”
Amenadiel took a deep breath as the elevator sank, “It was surreal, bringing Lucifer home like that.”
“Like what?” Maze growled.
“Bleeding, unconscious,” Amenadiel said. “Everyone was watching. I heard some talk… About Uriel.”
Maze bared her teeth. “You think your siblings want revenge?”
Amenadiel shook his head. “No. Maybe? It- Remi and Mike, of all angels, they were truly disturbed at the thought of Luci being gone and, I think, more than a few of the others are as well. But- But it was like seeing Luci like that also made it real that Uriel’s gone. And I don’t know what will happen now. Uriel, our brother, is gone! Some will undoubtedly blame Lucifer. I don’t know what they will do. If Lucifer’s killed he’ll return to Hell. He’ll be captured again then the rebelling demons will have what they need to summon Azrael’s blade. With the blade, they can unmake Lucifer. I'm sure my siblings don’t want that- But Uriel. Nothing like Uriel ever happened before. No one knows how to feel.”
Linda nodded to herself. “No one died in Lucifer’s rebellion,” she said. “Not permanently anyway. Death, as a concept doesn’t, didn’t exist for you before Uriel… Unless you were hanging around with humans, I suppose?”
“No,” Amenadiel said. “Uriel is gone. Heaven is full of the souls of the dead, humans who die are the opposite of gone from an angel’s perspective... You do know I’m planning on introducing Charlie to his namesake as well as my brothers and sisters when we’re comfortable with him making the trip up?”
Linda looked startled, “You can do that? Visit souls in Heaven?”
“Of course,” Amenadiel said. Then he shrugged, “Not many angels want to but you can.”
“Right, of course,” Linda repeated dryly. “But Lucifer…” she trailed off upon realizing why Lucifer feared permanent separation. “Would it be different if someone you cared for was headed to Hell?”
Amenadiel looked away. “I haven’t been able to bring myself to look for Caleb. I know he felt guilty about the drugs he’d sold, even if he covered it with anger about the unfairness of the world,” he said. “But even so, I know he is not gone. Linda, I never believed that Father intended for Lucifer and Mother to be separated from us forever. And, as Charlotte proved, redemption is not out of reach, even for the souls dwelling in Hell.”
“You do realize that Charlotte was a massively unusual situation,” Linda said. “Has anyone else condemned to Hell ever gotten out?”
“Excluding Lucifer and Mother?” Amenadiel asked. “No. And while Mother most certainly escaped-” the First Born Angel stopped, an expression of guilt crossed his face, “I no longer believe that Father intended for Lucifer to be contained in Hell. Not after everything that has happened since we came to L.A. I lost my wings because the lengths I went to were so grotesque I could not deny my sins. But, more and more I find myself considering the possibility that I went wrong long, long before Malcolm.”
“I can’t disagree,” Linda said. “All that time you were focused on returning Lucifer to Hell you never considered that the system was broken? Cain almost escaped Hell despite all the evil he visited on the world by virtue of convincing himself that God meant for him to become an immortal criminal mastermind. Delilah ends up trapped in Hell for no good reason-”
“Linda, you can’t know that,” Amenadiel argued.
“Can’t I?” Linda demanded. “Delilah was my patient. One of my areas of specialization is guilt counseling, I literally have a degree in misplaced or excessive guilt. I am eminently qualified to tell you that a system based on self-assigned guilt is inherently broken.”
“We know!” Amenadiel replied angrily. “Father knew! There are back-ups in place Linda. Without Lucifer’s intervention, Cain would have been in for a rude awakening if he truly believed that he, of all souls- That humanity’s infamous first murderer, could simply walk into the Silver City by the expedient of dying without remorse for his crimes. If he were actually incapable of guilt, after all that he’d done… Well, Father had a plan for that too. Although what we’ll do without Azrael’s sword...”
“And Delilah?” Linda asked. “You have a plan to deal with the ones who wrongly make it to Heaven but what about the ones wrongly condemned to Hell? What are you doing about that? Or is it simply a case of out of sight, out of mind?”
“How can you be so sure?” Amenadiel asked. “If she believes that she deserves her fate then perhaps-”
“Because I KNOW guilt can be irrational. Delilah’s guilt came less from what she’d done than from how she was treated. ‘There must be something wrong with me that makes them treat me like this.’ She just couldn’t escape that sort of thinking. Or the habit of being drawn to the familiarity of toxic relationships.” Linda sighed, “She was taking my advice the night she was murdered. I was the one to suggest she should reconnect with Lucifer.”
“Is that why you thought you’d go to Hell?” Maze demanded. “Don’t be a dumbass Linda! It wasn’t your fault she got shot.”
“I know,” Linda said. “That’s… Not why. I know I didn’t pull the trigger. I didn’t know where she was going or when. Delilah never even told me her benefactor’s name and I certainly didn’t have the slightest clue, back then, why she’d think that her success came from making a deal with the Devil.
“Delilah was waiting for the other shoe to drop, with her history it was almost inevitable. Lucifer was apparently one of the only people in her life who wasn’t taking advantage of her, so she assumed it was only a matter of time until he did. I thought if she talked to him- Well at least she would get this business about selling her soul off her mind, because that was clearly ridiculous,” Linda shook her head at her past ignorance. “And maybe she’d have reconnected with a friend who’d been supportive in the past. I don’t blame myself for Delilah’s death but, Amenadiel, I know her. I was her therapist. She doesn’t deserve Hell.”
“It can’t be like that,” Amenadiel argued. “Father wouldn’t allow it. Maze, tell her Lucifer’s wrong. The souls in Hell deserve to be there.”
Maze shrugged. “How would I know? Some of the people I tortured in Hell felt guilty about weird shit. Some of it, weird doesn’t matter. I mean there’s your, what ya call it? Golden Rule. The inverse is a classic in Hell: The shit you feel bad about doing? Now someone’s doing it to you and weird or not odds are you deserve it ‘cause it’s what you did. Your Hell’s what you make it.
“Then you get the sulfur and brimstone crowd. Fuck knows what they did but they know what they’ve got coming: All that medieval shit, thumbscrews, the rack, the pear. They’re special ‘cause they know they’re dead, most don’t. They get what they think they deserve and it’s more work than it’s worth to dig up why, plus Lucifer’s the only one who can draw out desires and back when I was in Hell he didn't waste time with Loops that weren’t broken.
“There are a lot of Loops where they keep doing whatever it is that sent them to Hell, ‘cause the point is everyone finding out and giving ‘em what they deserve or what they think they deserve. Some it’s all ‘Tell-Tale Heart’: They do the crime, they scurry around trying to hide it but it just won’t stay hidden and eventually it all falls down. Others? You go, you watch the whole Loop and it’s generating Darkness like a champ but-” Maze shrugged. “But Hell if I can’t figure out what they’re being punished for or what the punishment is or maybe both.
“Humans are bizarre but they make Darkness, which means less cannibalism among demons. So we fix the Loops that don’t produce. And messing with dead humans or watching ‘em torture themselves,” Maze shrugged, “It’s something for the Lilim to do besides fighting with each other.” A distant expression crossed her face. “Wonder what it’s like with no Lilim down there,” she muttered.
Linda gasped softly. She handed Charlie off to Amenadiel, “Could you put him to bed?” she asked with a significant look in Maze’s direction. Amenadiel returned it with a baffled one but took the suggestion.
“That room should be good,” Maze said, pointing to a door. “It’s my sleeping room, not my sex room.” Then she wandered off in the other direction.
Linda made a shooing gesture at Amenadiel then followed Maze, “Are you alright?” she asked.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Maze asked.
“About the Lilim. Is there anything I can do to help?” Linda
“You mean about them being dead?” Maze asked. She shrugged, “Not much of anything anyone can do about that.”
“I’m sorry,” Linda said.
“I almost feel sorry for any soul that gets visited by some of the other sorts in Hell, humans aren’t exactly wrong about the effect of seeing an Eldritch Abomination,” Maze continued then broke off. “Oh. You’re worried about my feelings? Don’t be. The Lilim are less family, more Nation. Besides, I’m sure Lilith isn’t dead. Crafty bitch is probably holed up somewhere hoarding Primordial Darkness and getting ready to pop out another army. She’s too smart not to turn up when Lucifer makes his comeback.”
“And what if she doesn’t?” Linda asked gently.
Maze shrugged, “It’s not like Lucifer ever really needed an army.”
Linda stared, “Maze, she’s your mother. Even if your relationship was… Strained, it’s okay to be worried about her.”
Maze took out her karambit knives and spun them round in her hands. “Lilith gave me these before she kicked me out. She gave me a few pointers about where to stick ‘em then said she’d let me parasite off her long enough so I needed to go. I was about the same size as Trix was that first time she walked into Lux. So that’s Lilith’s motherly instincts for you. If she’s alive, she’ll side with Lucifer against pretty much anything. If she’s dead, she’s dead.”
“She abandoned you in HELL?” Linda exclaimed, horrified. “How did you even survive?”
“Demon,” Maze explained pointing to herself. “And it wasn’t long before I fell in with Lucifer.” She smiled widely, “You’re all used to the pathetic, human-influenced version but back then? He was this big, scary thing that didn’t kill me, so I followed him around. I mentioned Eldritch Abominations? They were Hell’s ruling class back then and they looked at the Lilim as candy.” Maze grinned viciously. “But something about ‘em rubbed Lucifer the wrong way and instead of getting eaten, I ate real good on what he left of them. Eventually Lilith noticed what a good thing I had going. So she swore herself and all her surviving spawn to Lucifer’s cause.”
“Which was?” Linda asked.
Maze laughed, “Back then Lucifer was still so fucked up from the Fall and burning he probably didn’t know his own name. Any of your human stories that start off with how the Devil hates humanity? I call bullshit. Best I could figure, Lilith was human once and all of us who came from her have something of her corrupted humanity in us. He liked us where he killed almost everything else that existed in Hell on pure reflex. Lilith’s oath took root good and hard, Lucifer can command us, but since he didn’t have anything in mind Lilith arranged Hell’s structure to suit herself. She’s a shitty mom but a decent War Lord. With Lucifer’s raw power to back her up the Lilim carved out a sizable kingdom.
As Lucifer healed up and got more sane he started wanting to talk with the other shit living in Hell instead of just ripping them to shreds. Lilith got ahead of him and negotiated surrenders for everything that wasn’t Lilim making Lucifer King of Hell before they caught wind that he was going soft. Then Able showed up and we figured out what our role in God’s Plan was.”
“Wait, Able’s in Hell? Cain and Able, Able?” Linda asked.
“Oh yeah, all sorts of guilt that one: ‘What’d I ever do to deserve being the favorite? Mom liked me better, something about reminding her of that one guy who wasn’t Dad. Heck, Dad liked me better… I’m pretty sure he got it on with that guy too, now that I think about. Even God liked me better. Why were my sheep better than Cain’s crops anyway? Ohh, I should have said something but what if they realized I was right, that I didn’t deserve to be the favorite and stopped liking me? No wonder my brother wanted to kill me. Boo-Hoo.’ Also he’s a complete and total asshole but the guilt that sent him to Hell’s all about being the favorite.”
“Is there anyone actually in Heaven?” Linda demanded.
“Amenadiel might be able to guess how many go each way, or Azrael could tell you,” Maze said. “I haven’t got a clue. Never been anywhere near Heaven, obviously.”
Linda’s mouth thinned. “Because your a demon and damned from birth.”
Maze smiled toothily. “Not like I mind. Home sweet Hell you know. As long as Lucifer’s King anyway. Problem is… He wasn’t Lucifer when he was subduing Hell. He wasn’t anyone. If Amenadiel’s right and it’s an Old One we’re going to need a damn good plan to pull this off without getting him to revert to that.”
About how busy Azrael is. A quick web search says the rate of death in the world is over 6000 people an hour. If Azrael has to escort each and everyone up or down... She is insanely overworked. And with a birth rate of 15,000 an hour it's only getting worse, of course.
Remiel appeared outside the gates of Hell, her wings stirring up a flurry of ash. “Did Amenadiel tell you?” she asked Michael. “There’s apparently some sort of archdemon in Hell, that’s what defeated Lucifer.”
“Defeated Luci did it?” Michael asked with a smirk. “But what does that really say?”
Remiel nodded seriously, “He was never a warrior. I don’t know why Father gave him charge of Hell in the first place. If you or I had been given the job the demons would have been exterminated eons ago.”
“Remi, you know that’s not an option” Michael corrected grudgingly. “No matter how many demons you kill there will always be more. The Darkness will always return in some new form.”
“I suppose,” Remiel allowed with poor grace. “There must be a better solution.”
“Yeah, must be something,” Michael agreed.
The two of them lapsed into silence for several minutes.
Then Michael grinned broadly. “You know what would be fun?”
Remiel glanced at him questioningly.
“So there’s this big bad demon that the Devil couldn’t handle. Well, what if when Luci gets his healing sorted out and he comes back- What if we’ve already dealt with it? We can give him a hard time about being such a wimp.”
Remiel considered. “Hunting demons is less boring than maintaining the Walls,” she decided. “Let’s go kill it. Since nothing like this has ever happened before, it seems fairly safe to say it will likely come back as something Lucifer can manage.”
It was a devilish grin and practiced fingers making her scream. It was unexpected pauses and finding him staring at her, awed because she was with him. It was her mouth hungry against his after all fantasies she’d tried to deny having even to herself. It was holding him tight, like she was never going to let him go. It was the desire for forever and the fear that they would never get more than just this moment.
Lucifer woke up alone. For a moment he felt as if his heart had stopped. Then he noticed the glow of a computer screen and found Chloe sitting cross-legged at the foot of the bed with a laptop balanced on her knee. Lucifer rolled over onto his stomach to pout at her.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” Chloe said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about what Maze said.”
“That is completely unacceptable,” Lucifer replied reaching for her with clear, lavious intent.
“Right, I only passed out for a couple hours,” she snorted. “Just because, for once, you apparently needed some serious sleep… Oh just come here and look.” She turned the computer screen toward him, it showed sheet music. “I- well, there was this old show I used to watch with my Dad and one episode- I wasn’t sure if it was really a thing but-”
“It’s for the piano, composed to be played single-handedly,” Lucifer whispered. Absently he pulled on a robe then picked up the laptop and carried it over to the piano. Tentatively he played through the first composition while Chloe hovered nervously. The uncertainty in his playing vanished by the fourth piece.
Smiling to herself Chloe left him playing while she went to the kitchen to start the coffee machine and an early breakfast.
Dan sat at his desk under the stairs, staring across the bullpen to where Chloe sat, despondent and alone.
Peirce swaggered across the precinct to loom over Dan. “Espinoza, you’re up.” The Lieutenant smirked knowingly as he handed Dan an address, “A dirty cop like you probably doesn’t need any help but I figured I’d make this one easy for you. After all I wanted him dead too.”
Ella pulled Dan aside, “I know you took the gun out of evidence,” she said.
As Dan drove to the crime scene Lucifer asked, “Tell me Daniel, why do I hate myself?” Dan wondered what the self-proclaimed Devil was doing sitting in his car.
“You both hate this Lucifer Morningstar very much,” Boris, the human lie-detector, said knowingly from the backseat.
Dan remembered how the heat of the sauna had made the scars on Lucifer’s back flush red like blood. “I don’t hate him,” he protested.
Lucifer frowned, “You blame me for Mum’s death.”
“I don’t,” Dan insisted.
“Liar,” Boris declared. Then looking from Dan to Lucifer his expression turned puzzled. “You slept with his mother?”
“Step-mother,” Dan corrected.
“Still weird,” Boris said with a shrug.
“Daniel, answer my question: Why do I hate myself?” Lucifer whined obnoxiously.
Dan glanced back at Boris. “You know why,” he said. “You said it yourself: You hurt anyone who gets close to you.”
They pulled up at the crime scene. A team of EMT’s rolled a gurney with a body past them. “You fucked up and Joan died,” Dan snarled as he shoved Lucifer against back against the car then he turned on his heel and stalked angrily into the building.
Lucifer trailed after Dan, his expression troubled. Boris rolled down the car window and called after them, “Go ahead and kill this Lucifer Morningstar. I’ll find you your patsy.”
Dan took the elevator up to the penthouse. He stepped out into a long abandoned appartment. Trixie sat at the dust covered piano. “Mommy was crying again,” she told him. “Why did Lucifer go away?”
“Trixie, you’re not supposed to be here! It’s not safe! Go home!” Dan exclaimed. He heard the report of a rifle from the balcony and rushed out drawing his gun.
Malcolm turned and waved at him, the sniper rifle held casually at his side. “Hey, Danny boy, the new Lieutenant sent you? What a guy!”
Dan pushed past the murderous detective and peered over the side. Lucifer stood on the street below, hands on his hips as he glared up at them irritably. “Oh, come on! You can do better than that!” he challenged. “Well, go on, then! What are you waiting for? Just shoot me right now.”
Malcolm sighted down the barrel of the gun. “Whatever you say.”
Dan turned away before he pulled the trigger. Charlotte was waiting for him inside. “Daniel, where is my son?” she asked.
Dan woke up in a cold sweat, “Fuck,” he groaned. Running on habit he got up, remoted into his work computer and started searching the database for dark-haired suicides before remembering that Lucifer was back.
He wondered if he should just start scheduling regular sessions with Linda again.
After dawn had broken, Linda and Amenadiel made their way up to the penthouse from Maze’s apartment with Charlie in tow.
Building off of centuries of knowledge of the piano, Lucifer had absorbed the composers’ techniques for getting the most out of the instrument with only one hand and had moved on to improvising adaptations of popular songs. There were notable holes and a certain thinness to the music but they were steadily become less frequent and less glaring as he rapidly adapted.
Seeing Lucifer at the piano Charlie immediately squirmed out of Amenadiel’s arms. He toddled over to the piano and pulled himself up on the bench. Lucifer gave his tiny nephew a wary look. Charlie grinned up at him toothily and Lucifer scooted away until he was in danger of falling off the piano bench. For a moment Amenadiel and Linda shared an amused look as the Devil staunchly refused to retreat in the face of a two-year-old… Even though he clearly wanted to. “Well, Urchin, do you have a request?” Lucifer asked haughtily.
“He likes ‘Baby Shark’,” Amenadiel suggested with a hint of mischief in his eyes.
“Clearly your repritare requires expansion,” Lucifer informed the boy.
Charlie giggled. “Baby Shark!” he demanded.
“No,” Lucifer said.
Snickering, Linda and Amenadiel settled into the couch to enjoy the show.
“Surely you must have inherited some taste… From your mother if not your father,” Lucifer huffed, tossing a glare over his shoulder at Amenadiel.
Amenadiel smoothed his expression over, refusing to clue Lucifer in that Charlie had been listening avidly to recordings of Lucifer’s playing and singing since birth.
“Baby Shark?” Charlie asked hopefully, eyes wide.
Desperately Lucifer started picking ‘The World Es Mi Familia’ from Coco, a movie Trixie had subjected him to on several separate occasions. Charlie immediately settled, watching with wide eyed amazement.
Chloe appeared with two cups of coffee, “There’s a pot in the kitchen,” she told Linda and Amenadiel as she grabbed a coaster to protect the piano.
“Linda?” Amenadiel asked as he stood. The petite blond replied with a grateful smile.
After a few more songs, Lucifer took a break from playing to top off his mug with a shot of whiskey. Chloe rolled her eyes at him and he grinned. Maze showed up with a bag of pastries and accepted another doctored cup of coffee while Linda shooed Charlie into the kitchen and away from the piano before giving him a donut and a sippy cup of milk. The rest of the adults trailed after the pair and found spots around the breakfast bar.
Linda’s phone dinged, “I’ll need to leave soon, emergency session,” she said. She glanced at Lucifer, “I’ve also got an open slot right before lunch if you want.”
Lucifer nodded. “Best not to put it off,” he agreed.
Maze looked at Amenadiel, “You’re drown-proofing the spawn this morning, right?”
“Charlie has swim class,” Amenadiel agreed.
“Oh, I miss those,” Chloe commented. “Baby swim classes are so much fun.”
Lucifer sipped his coffee and blinked at his family-filled kitchen with an air of bemusement. Something loosened in his chest as their presence washed over him and for the first time in he couldn’t remember how long he felt like he could breath.
Michael and Remiel quickly traversed Hell’s maze heading straight for the throne and surrounding plane where they’d found Lucifer before.
While barely a day had passed on Earth, it had been years beyond the walls of Hell. In the time they’d been gone the throne had eroded, the spire barely standing taller than the maze of doors. A demon with tentacles and too many eyes crouched over a crumpled body in the center of the empty plane, ripping at it with a thick, vicious beak as it gurgled and bled darkness.
“It’s bigger than any of the ones I saw last time,” Michael remarked,
Remiel grimaced in disgust. “They’re eating each other.”
“I suppose that’s one way to consolidate Darknesses,” Michael said. “Come on. I want to test its strength.”
Remiel nodded. “It’s alone, or as good as.”
Michael grinned, quick and flashing. Then he spread his wings, drew his sword and pounced. With the boneless fluidity of an octopus the demon pulled its body out of the sword’s path and retaliated. It smashed a heavy, scute studded tentacle into Michael’s sword arm. Michael turned with the blow, refusing to let his sword drop. He snapped his opposite wing forward and sliced off the offending tentacle with his sharpened primaries.
“Hell won’t bow to you, Angel,” the demon snarled.
Remiel stabbed the demon in the back with her spear, pinning it to the ground, “It will if we make it,” she said coldly. She twisted her blade and jerked it to the side, killing the demon.
“Well, that wasn’t too hard,” Michael said cheerfully as he fanned his wings, encouraging the demon’s blood to evaporate off his feathers. “But I don’t think this one’s the one that defeated Lucifer.”
He and Remiel crossed the plane then back into the maze of doors as it resumed on the other side.
“Do you think there are more of the weird ones forming with Lucifer haring off to the Mortal Plane?” Remiel asked.
Michael glanced back to answer her and his eyes wided, “Remi!” he shouted as several of the doors opened and a horde of young Lilim poured out. Remiel barely had time to raise her spear before a girl who couldn’t have been more than ten threw herself on the angel’s back and slit her throat without hesitation. Michael saw blood spurting from his sister’s severed artery for a moment and then her body vanished. The little Lilim landed smoothly in a crouch as Remiel disappeared from beneath her.
Then the swarm descended on Michael with a blood-thirsty roar.
The old show Chloe mentions is "M*A*S*H", episode "Morale Victory"
Someone was plinking inexpertly on a piano, the irregular notes played a painful counterpoint to the pounding in Michael’s head. With a small groan forced the angel himself to open his eyes. The room was illuminated by the reddish orange glow of a fire. He recognized bits and pieces of the room from his mother’s old rooms in the Silver City: The view just visible through the balcony doors. The glowing tapestry hung on the wall. The low, bowl shaped couch perfect for wings. Other things Michael didn’t recognize at all: An odd chandelier like a tangle of light strung roots. An Assyrian wall… And a polished black piano where Uriel sat idly pressing keys. “Finally awake?” he asked. “They must have hit you pretty hard.”
“Uriel!” Michael exclaimed. “You’re not dead! Did Lucifer lock you up here?”
“You never were the sharpest crayon in the box, were you Mike?” Uriel said. “This is Lucifer’s cell in Hell, I’m nothing more than a manifestation of his guilt. Well,” he gestured towards the glowing tapestry, “Mother’s too, since she came in here as well.”
“What am I doing here?” Michael asked.
Uriel shrugged. “Lilith and a bunch of her new brood stowed you here. I suppose they mistook you for Lucifer.” He smiled sharply. “This isn’t your cell, you could always leave.”
Michael nodded and started towards the balcony.
“Unless…” Uriel began. “Do you remember?”
Michael stopped. Through the glass of the balcony doors he saw a ball of flames shoot past, he knew it wasn’t a falling star. The odor of burning meat filled the room. Just an inch short of the doorknob, Michael’s hand pulled back cover his mouth and nose.
“After? I wanted to ask Father why my powers failed, why the pattern didn’t show me that Lucifer would burn. You talked me out of it. So I asked Mother instead. Do you remember? She was so angry,” Uriel smiled and spread his hands helplessly. Bruises formed on his face, his left eye socket shattered and the skin over his cheek bone split like an overripe peach. “You know, She wanted Lucifer to inspire a rebellion against Father. She was so very angry that we… That I got in Her way. And I was all alone.”
Slowly, Michael turned back to face Uriel.
“Why didn’t you let me talk to Father?” Uriel asked plaintively. “Even if He meant for us to make Lucifer Fall and burn in the Falling, He wouldn’t have hit me for asking. Michael, why didn’t you go with me when I asked Mother?”
“It was all Lucifer’s fault,” Michael said weakly and Hell laughed at him.
“I used to talk to you,” Uriel continued sadly. “I couldn’t talk to Remi, she was just a kid. She trusted our judgement almost as much as Father’s, we couldn’t burden her with our doubts.”
Michael found himself nodding along.
“And Amenadiel? After he came back from Hell, he wouldn’t even hear Sam’s name. Lucifer Fell, not Samael. Lucifer burned, Sam didn’t even exist... according to Amenadiel. Lucifer was the source of all evil, he’d never been one of us and you couldn’t tell Amenadiel otherwise. But then Lucifer started escaping to Earth. Amenadiel put himself in charge of returning him to Hell and along the way Lucifer turned into Luci. Only Amenadiel wouldn’t talk about that either.” Uriel rubbed his bruised cheek, “Lucifer was nothing more than The Adversary. Amenadiel punched me once for pointing out that nicknames meant fondness.”
“It was Father’s will and don’t any of you dare suggest the First Born felt anything but joyous about carrying out Father’s will,” Michael muttered resentfully.
Uriel reached out and caught Michael’s hands, drawing him further into the room. “You were the only one I could talk to. I even told you about the night before Lucifer Fell, didn’t I? You were the only one I ever told. But I had to know: Why did my powers fail? Why didn’t I see that we’d make Lucifer burn? You wouldn’t let me talk to Father. So I went to Mother.”
Uriel’s eye started sliding out of his ruined eye-socket and Michael scrabbled to pull a feather from his wing. “It won’t help,” Uriel said bluntly. “Even Father had to strain to erase the results of Mother’s rage. Then He sent Mother away. After that He stopped talking to anyone… And you stopped talking to me.”
The room began to shift around them. A weapon’s rack formed on the balcony with Michael’s sword and few spears. A Go board, game in progress, appeared on the coffee table.
“I didn’t have anyone I could talk to Mike. You left me all alone,” Uriel said. “Until Madness came to keep me company.”
Linda watched Dan’s knuckles turn white as he recounted his nightmares. Then she took a deep breath. “The last significant conversation between you and Lucifer before he left was a bad one, no question about that. Neither of you were in a good place and you said some things you came to regret. But you need to look at that conversation on its own merits not in conjunction with Lucifer leaving. From your perspective, he just disappeared after that conversation and that gave it added weight in your eyes. But I can say, with complete certainty, that you were NOT a factor in Lucifer’s choice to leave.”
“I know,” Dan said shortly. “Given what I do Lucifer’s sudden disappearance coupled with his history of self-destructive behavior and him going on about hating himself right before he disappeared, it made sense that I was worried about suicide. Why couldn’t you or Chloe have just told me where he was, given me a number so I could call him- I just wanted to say sorry and hear that he wasn’t dead-”
“Dan, it wasn’t an option,” Linda said, shaking her head. “You know that.”
“-I get patient confidentiality and that he might not have wanted you handing out his information to me,” Dan continued. “But couldn’t you have passed on a message? Had him call me, instead of just leaving me with all this bullshit festering in my head?”
“You did pass on a message through Amenadiel, a year ago, remember?” Linda said. “He told you Lucifer had accepted your apology.”
“Yeah and somehow it sounded exactly the same as when Amenadiel told me that Charlotte was in heaven,” Dan replied. “Why couldn’t Lucifer call me? Why do you guys keep insisting verbal messages relayed through Amenadiel were the ONLY possible contact with Lucifer. There’s more access to ground forces in an active war-zone than that!”
“And don’t tell me he was in Hell… But it’s okay because he wasn’t dead,” Dan snapped. “Where is ‘Hell’, really.”
“Dan, I know you mean well but it’s not your business-“
“Isn’t it?” Dan asked. “Look at him! A violent crime was committed against Lucifer. There’s nothing suggesting it’s being investigated. I’m a goddamn police detective. Chloe’s so happy just to have him back, she’s not thinking past that…. Look Linda, we agreed that the best way for me to deal with my guilt would be to try to treat him right moving forward. And that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s wrong to ignore that someone mutilated him.”
Linda bit her lip. “I think you should tell Lucifer that you’re worried,” she said after a moment.
“And get: ‘I’m the Devil. I’m immortal’ for the hundredth time?” Dan asked. “His stupid metaphors don’t keep him from getting hurt.”
Ella smiled to herself as she watched Chloe and Lucifer orbit tightly around each other, ‘The way it was meant to be.’ she thought. ‘Chloe’s looked so lost ever since he left and it’s not even worth saying that leaving was no good for Lucifer.’
She waved to Maze, who’d slunk in behind Chloe and Lucifer. The bounty hunter gave her what Ella had come to understand was the Maze-version of a friendly nod before putting her feet up on Dan’s desk. After a few minutes Maze pulled out a knife and occupied herself with sharpening it. Several of the police officers looked at her askance but no one had the nerve to ask her to stop.
When Dan arrived, a bit late, he calmly shoved Maze’s feet off his desk then leaned into her space to whisper intently. After a few moments Maze rolled her eyes but when Dan led the way to Ella’s lab she followed.
“What?” Maze asked as soon as the door swung shut behind her.
“I know you care about Lucifer,” Dan said. “So do we. We want to find out who hurt him and put them behind bars.”
“It’s not funny!” Ella exclaimed.
“Only because you two don’t know shit,” Maze said.
“Maze, just tell us where or what is ‘Hell’. Whatever it is, it’s clear that you, Lucifer and Amenadiel are trying to get out. We can help you, if you just let us,” Dan pled. “We know they, whoever they are, were behind Charlie’s kidnapping and that’s what pressured Lucifer into going back. I get why he left but you guys can’t handle this on your own. Look at what happened! If there’s a next time, Lucifer might not come back from it.”
“Fine,” Maze said rolling her eyes. “Listen close: Hell is Hell; residence of demons and damned souls. Lucifer is that Lucifer; condemned by God to rule over us. And Milton is an idiot; Lucifer hates ruling just as much as he hates serving. For the record, he’s a pretty crappy king to boot.” Maze shrugged, “He was screwing around getting bent out of shape about souls that didn’t belong in Hell instead of paying attention to his demons. I get wanting to hang him on the wall like a trophy. I don’t get how they managed it. He’s Lucifer, the Morning Star, Breaker of the Darkness from which demons are born.
“So it’s cute that you want to help but put a demon behind bars? This demon? We’re figuring it’s either some new Archdemon coughed up by the Primordial Darkness to take Lucifer down or an Old One that survived the purge when Lucifer Fell. Whatever it is, there’s a good chance that just looking at it would be enough to drive a human insane.
“Lucifer has to kick it’s ass. Lousy king or not, he’s the best choice. You humans want him on the throne of Hell because he’s kept demons from tormenting living humans since the end of your fourteenth century. Shitty publicity aside, he loves the mortal plane, humans. I want him on the throne because, for an angel, he’s- no other way to say it -squeamish about killing demons. We’re soulless and most of Lucifer’s siblings wouldn’t see the difference between killing a demon and snapping a sword raised against them but Lucifer? He doesn’t like breaking us. His siblings want him on the throne because they’re a bunch of assholes who want Lucifer and everything else that isn’t compliant or is ugly out of sight and out of mind.” Maze grimaced, “The only one who gets screwed over with Lucifer on the throne is Lucifer. And Decker, I guess. But you don’t believe a word I said, so… Good talk.”
“That went well,” Dan said sarcastically as he watched Maze walk off to join Lucifer and Chloe.
“I didn’t get much either,” Ella admitted. “No hits for anyone even vaguely matching Lucifer’s description being treated for a severed arm in any database I’ve got access to… And I’ve got a lot of access. Friends, favors.”
Dan raised an eyebrow at the last.
“Hey, Lucifer doesn’t have a lock on favors,” Ella protested. “But I did find out a little more about his family. He and Amenadiel have at least two more brothers: Michael and Uriel.”
“Seriously?” Dan asked.
“Not the worst,” Ella said. “Their sister was named Azrael. She’s younger than Lucifer and, um, she died. Prior to 1997. She was in her mid-teens. Careful about saying anything though, Lucifer doesn’t know about it, she died after he got kicked out… Only that’s misleading. Kicked out, in Lucifer’s case, doesn’t mean his family washed their hands of him. He was sent somewhere and his family is highly invested in keeping him doing whatever it is he does there.”
“His sister died and Amenadiel never told him? What the fuck is wrong with that family?” Dan exclaimed. Then he looked puzzled. “And how’d you find out?”
“Rae-Rae was a friend of mine back in Detroit.” Ella said a bit weakly.
Dan stared. “Lucifer’s family is from Detroit? You knew Lucifer’s family?!?”
“I know Rae-Rae,” Ella corrected. “It wasn’t a last name type thing.”
“Shit,” Dan said apologetically, “Because you would have been just a kid when she died.”
“Sort of,” Ella prevaricate. “I don’t know why she was in Detroit or if any of her family was with her but Lucifer wasn’t.”
“Okay, let’s see if we can build a timeline,” Dan said. “At least some part of Lucifer’s family was in Detroit in the late nineties… Maybe you can find what name they were using? It’s probably not real, Amenadiel’s arrest record says his name is Jacob Canaan and that only sounds less fake than Lucifer Morningstar.”
Dan took a deep breath, “Also, Lucifer might not have existed on paper before 2011 but Charlotte did. Her timeline has to intersect with his somewhere. Given the age difference between them, I’m guessing he probably wasn’t more than ten, young enough that even a half decade or so would have been significant. Whatever ‘Hell’ is, Lucifer’s family is heavily involved. If we can find them, I think we have a good shot at finding the people who hurt him.”
Around midday Amenadiel arrived with Charlie and left with Lucifer. Most of the officers who observed the transfer hid their smiles and bit back any observations about trading babysitters. Before leaving with Charlie, Maze detoured back to Dan’s desk. “You want to know a secret?” she asked.
“Something that’ll help us keep Lucifer out of ‘Hell’?” Dan asked.
“Yeah,” Maze replied. “I can’t fight an angel and win. Even that little twerp Azrael would kick my ass if she ever got serious. If any of Lucifer’s siblings come after him, I can’t stop them.”
“So… It’s not Lucifer’s family that you’re trying to protect him from?” Dan asked with a puzzled frown.
Maze shook her head, “I can make them go through me… And Lucifer won’t stand by and let that happen. Just thought you should know.” She bounced Charlie on her hip. “Well, see ya around, Angelspawn’s got a playdate. The biting, screaming, stealing of toys,” she sighed happily, “It always reminds me of home.”
Following her session with Dan, Linda spent several hours working with patients who, as far as she knew, had no connection to the Celestial Sphere or the attendant complications. Then she heard Lucifer’s voice drifting in from the hall outside her office, “Shoo! Go help the Detective with paperwork or watch your spawn! I don’t require a mother hen!”
Linda sat at her desk and wondered if she was going to have to intervene in order to speak with her patient without an audience. ‘Patient, friend, former lover, brother-in-law practically-’ She thought. ‘Oh the Ethics Board would have a field day… Luckily, they never ask since Maze ‘explained’ the special circumstances last time.’
“Chloe is at work Brother, I am perfectly safe,” Lucifer exclaimed irritably.
‘As long as none of his siblings attack him,’ Linda thought remembering Amenadiel’s concerns.
A moment later Lucifer stalked in and threw himself down on the couch. “How do you put up with him, my dear Doctor?”
“Maze is worse,” Linda replied. “She could stalk me for hours before I realized why I was feeling nervous.”
Lucifer smiled, “And I expect at least thirty minutes before she notices that I managed to chase my first babysitter off. So, shall we take advantage of the respite?”
“Very reasonable,” Linda agreed. “Is there something specific on your mind?”
“Delilah,” Lucifer said. “I won’t have much time on this plane once my arm’s been sorted and I need your help if we’re going to get her out of Hell. We have to get her out.”
Linda nodded. “We do. She spent her whole life going from one bad situation to another. She ran away to L.A. to recreate herself but… She ended up right back where she started. That’s the cycle we have to break.”
“I should have kept her,” Lucifer said, “But I didn’t want to be selfish, I didn’t want to cage her.”
“Delilah once told me she was busking on the street and you just walked up and offered her a job,” Linda encouraged.
“She had a beautiful voice but lacked the presence to make people notice it, notice her,” Lucifer said. “I asked her what she desired. She told me she wanted to make her rent for the month without sleeping with anyone.”
“That explains why you never had sex with her. I did wonder, given how you reacted to Chloe’s resistance to your charms,” Linda said.
“A different situation Doctor. Delilah and I’s deal precluded it.” Lucifer shrugged, “Or near enough. I’d only just opened the Lux, I required staff, she needed a paycheck. Performing with her was a delight and she waitressed on nights when she didn’t have a set. Anything else between us would have violated the spirit of our deal.”
“You taught her confidence in her singing,” Linda said. “To carry herself like she belonged in the spotlight.”
“She did,” Lucifer said. “Do you believe that Delilah would have been happier had she’d stayed on at the Lux?”
“Probably,” Linda said bluntly, “And if she hadn’t been shot, she might have come back to you but you couldn’t have kept her from the start. There were things she wanted to do… Given the chance she had to at least try.”
“I know.” Lucifer smiled sadly, “Introducing her was hardly a favor worth mentioning, it was just saying goodbye on my own terms.”
“I can help you get Delilah past her guilt,” Linda said. “This isn’t cliff notes for guilt counseling, it won’t help you with anyone else but I was Delilah’s therapist for years.”
“It wasn’t unusual was it? That you realized I hated myself long before I did?” Lucifer asked.
“No, not unusual at all,” Linda said. “But me understanding isn’t what’s important, it’s helping my patients to understand for themselves.”
“If you’d told me, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Lucifer said. He stared past the floor, to a spot only he could see. “You can only help me with Deliah,” he said. “Maze would be incensed if she knew but I was trying to learn how many others in my domain hadn’t earned the torture they endure. Once I thought things had settled down, I ordered the remaining Lilim to assist me in assessing the Hell-Loops. It was a disaster, they practically started a mutiny on the spot. Even after I’d reminded them who was king again it turned out that they were utterly hopeless at the task I’d set.”
“Let me guess: Maze, six years ago, had a higher than average emotional intelligence for a demon?” Linda asked.
Lucifer grimaced, “Much higher. The Lilim were quite adept at ferreting guilt out and using it as an implement of torture; it’s the only way to torture a soul in Hell after all, but they don’t understand or care about what causes the guilt. I found one Hell-Loop that was deemed to be in perfect working order. It consisted of a woman tripping over a rough patch of sidewalk and losing hold of her dog’s leash then watching it run in front of a truck to be killed over and over again.”
“That’s terrible,” Linda said.
“It is,” Lucifer said. “She loved that dog and felt crippling guilt over it death, something she had no true control over. But not a drop of guilt for the dozens of children she poisoned over the course of her life. Tainted Halloween candy, in her mind the greedy little beasts truly deserved it.”
Linda’s mouth dropped open in shock.
Lucifer smiled viciously. “I helped her appreciate the depravity of her desires. Her loop is much more fitting now.” Then his expression fell into despair. “Dr. Linda, you cannot even comprehend how many souls are in Hell. Ones like that where guilt is wrong. Ones like Delilah’s where the guilt is irrational, undeserved. There are so many of them Doctor, and I never knew. I hardly know where to begin in identifying Hell’s mistakes. The demons are useless to me!” he ranted. “I don’t care who rules them so long as they leave me out of it!”
“But they didn’t leave you out of it,” Linda reminded him softly.
“No, they didn’t,” Lucifer hissed. “How can I accomplish anything while playing the part of a bloody wall ornament! I’ll never be done, I’ll never even be properly begun. They won’t LEAVE ME ALONE to even try!” Lucifer leapt to his feet then stumbled, forgetting his shifted center of gravity for a moment. “It’s all pointless!” he declared and stormed out.
Linda sighed and watched him go. She turned around to dig her cellphone out of the top drawer of her desk and when she turned around a tall woman with olive skin, dark brown hair pulled up in a messy bun and the first hint of lines around her mouth was standing in her office staring judgmentally down at her. “You’re the human Amenadiel believes will heal Samael where I failed,” she said. “I can’t say I’m impressed.”
Not long after Maze left the precinct, Amenadiel slunk back in. “Luci won’t talk to Linda with me there,” he sighed as he dropped into the guest seat at Dan’s desk. “I don’t like leaving him alone but I really think Linda’s our best hope of getting him better. Luci has to get better.”
“You do know his arm’s not going to just grow back?” Dan asked tentatively.
“Of course I know that,” Amenadiel scoffed unconvincingly. “It’s just… Raffie says he’s not healing right.”
“Maybe you should try letting an actual medical doctor treat him?” Dan suggested. “Linda’s great, no question but she’s a psychiatrist, this is a little outside of her area. And, given the searches Ella’s done, this Raffie of yours isn’t a real doctor either.”
“Raffie’s our sister, she is eminently qualified,” Amenadiel assured Dan. He continued earnestly, “There is no one more expert in healing, which is why I’m certain that the problem is in Lucifer’s mind, not his body, except as his mind informs his body. Although… it might help if Luci hadn’t ran off while Raffie was in the middle of treating him.”
“Lucifer’s a difficult patient, color me shocked,” Dan said dryly. “But really, we’re talking about some serious shit. You need to get Lucifer to an actual hospital, with real doctors, medical equipment. If it’s not healing he might have an infection or something, he could die Amenadiel.”
“Difficult…” Amenadiel repeated distantly. He spent a few moments turning the word over in his mouth. “I said Lucifer was difficult to love,” he confessed. “I told him that loving him was Father’s test for me, a trial worthy of the First Born. But then- We were almost too late. Daniel, it was terrifying- If Michael and Remi had arrived even a minute later another of us would have been gone forever. And, in that moment, I realized that loving Luci isn’t difficult at all. That I had never stopped loving my little brother although, somehow, I had forgotten that I did.”
“Look, um, seeing you and Lucifer interact, I know you mean ‘brothers’ literally but-” Dan began awkwardly. “But with the money, his connections, the favors he does and, well, ‘Hell’- I gotta wonder: When you guys say ‘family’ do you mean some sort of crime family... or a cult?”
Amenadiel stared at Dan, mouth hanging open.
“And, I should have asked years ago, but Lucifer’s whole ‘I’m the devil’ thing? Is he legit crazy and that’s why your family let him go or is he playing crazy so they’ll let him go? ...I guess I’m past thinking he just does it for attention.”
Amenadiel shifted nervously. “Lucifer doesn’t lie.”
Dan rolled his eyes, “Unless it’s lies of omission or selectively told truths arranged to mislead-”
“Yes,” Amenadiel agreed.
“So either he believes he’s the Devil or it’s true that he’s ‘the Devil’ in some sense and I’m just missing the context?” Dan asked.
A brief smile crossed Amenadiel’s face. “Yes.”
“Thanks man, that clarifies everything,” Dan said sarcastically. “Now go get your brother and drag him to the nearest doctor. Medical doctor, not Linda.”
Happy Thanksgiving to the U.S.
Chapter 8: Heaven's Design
“You’re the human Amenadiel believes will heal Samael where I failed,” Rafael said eyeing Linda haughtily. “I can’t say I’m impressed.”
Linda felt her heart leap into her throat as memories of being confronted by the Goddess of Creation surged to the forefront of her mind. She took a deep breath and with a calm she certainly didn’t feel she said, “Rafael? Neither Lucifer nor Amenadiel ever mentioned that you were one of their sisters.”
Rafael blinked in confusion several times. “Oh. Yes. I’d heard that humans tend to use my name for males.”
“Is Lucifer your younger or elder brother?” Linda asked, determinedly projecting polite curiosity.
“Younger. Amenadiel is the First Born. I’m of the Second Tier as is Samael but he and Michael are the youngest of us. Uriel was the eldest of the Third Tier,” Rafael answered. “The latter tiers are... different. They were created after Mother was consigned to Hell.”
Linda relaxed fractionally at Rafael’s bemused willingness to answer banal questions. “I don’t believe that Lucifer’s wings regrowing or not was ever a physical issue,” she said, shifting from small talk to professional consultation. “Does that make any sense to you? Because it doesn’t to me.”
“It makes no sense!” Rafael exclaimed in frustration. She sank onto Linda’s couch. “This isn’t what I do! I oversee the development of human medical advancement. Looking after my siblings when they’re hurt isn’t my purpose. There’s no need for one with such a purpose! An appropriate feather and a firm hand until whatever stupidity that got them injured in the first place has passed is all the healing angels have ever needed.”
“An appropriate feather?” Linda asked. “I knew Maze healed Amenadiel after he was stabbed using one of the feathers from Lucifer’s original wings but do different feathers have different properties?”
Rafael grimaced. “The most common cause of injuries among angels is brawls with other angels. I’ve found the best healing comes when the sibling who caused the hurt in the first place offers a feather. Injuries from Infernal blades, like Samael’s, while much less common, can be healed easily by any angel willing to donate a feather and who wouldn’t be willing?”
“A boost of divinity coupled with remorse or concern?” Linda asked. Then almost to herself she murmured, “Except no one offered anything to Lucifer after he Fell.”
Rafael drew herself up defensively.
Quickly Linda asked, “Have you heard Amenadiel’s theory about what happened to his wings?”
“I know Amenadiel believes that his wings rotted because he felt guilt over the lengths he went to in trying to return Samael to his place in Hell and that they recovered when he believed he had redeemed himself,” Rafael said dismissively. “Similarly you believe that it was Samael’s feelings about himself the created his ‘Devil Face’ and restored his wings after he cut them off and burned them.”
“I don’t know if wings are different from other limbs,” Linda admitted. “At first I thought they had to be, I mean how could he just cut off his own limbs?! Not just once, repeatedly. Also the bit with humans going mad with exposure to divinity; I can say with a great deal of certainty that exposure to the rest of Lucifer’s body isn’t an issue.”
“Or Amenadiel’s?” Rafael said sarcastically.
A faint smirk with accompanying blush graced Linda’s face. Then, more seriously, she continued, “But when Amenadiel and I were cleaning up the wings Lucifer cut off they were very much flesh and blood. And yet, Lucifer honestly doesn’t look at his wings as being part of his body; to him they belong to his Father.”
“Samael has entertained some strange notions in the past but that’s utterly ridiculous,” Rafael said with a frown. “Father and Mother made every part of our bodies, not just our wings. Our divinity is more concentrated in our feathers but they’re still part of us!”
“Is that why his wings didn’t burn when he Fell?” Linda asked.
Rafael’s expression became bleak. “No one intended for him to burn,” she said. “It was Samael’s purpose to deal with the Darkness, both demons and those humans who would inevitably abused their free will, but he refused. Amenadiel and Michael thought Samael would realize Father was right if he’d just do as he was told for a bit. They broke his wings so he’d be trapped in the Infernal Plane long enough to get used to it.” Rafael’s hands twisted together in her lap, “I know them, they didn’t mean to hurt Sam like that. If I’d known he was going to catch fire I would have intervened. We wouldn’t have just watched it happen if any of us had known what was going to happen when Sam Fell.”
“You’re saying he Fell like a meteor,” Linda said grimly. “Wait. Lucifer burned his wings. I burned a whole dumpster of cut off wings. Why do his wings burn in normal flames?” she wondered tangentially. “Is it because they’re cut off from his body?”
“It’s because he wanted them to burn. Samael Light-bringer willed the stars to ignite, there’s not much he can’t set on fire,” Rafael said dryly.
“But they don’t rot after he cuts them off either,” Linda said.
“And you think his arm will?” Rafael shook her head, “It won’t. Uriel’s body won’t rot. We were created directly by the God and Goddess of Creation, our forms will never know decay.” Rafael’s gaze turned distant and guiltily. “No one knew he’d burn either. It wasn’t supposed to happen, it wasn’t what anyone wanted to happen. Why didn’t Uriel know? Amenadiel followed as quickly as he could. He came back- Badly shaken. After that, none of the rest of us had the nerve to go.”
“Chloe, you have a minute?” Dan asked.
“Yeah. Actually, I was looking for you,” Chloe said. “It’s your week with Trixie but you know she’d love to see Lucifer… And she’ll make us suffer if we don’t come clean about him being back sooner rather than later.”
“About Lucifer,” Dan said. “I was talking to Amenadiel, his arm’s not healing right and he hasn’t seen a real- a medical doctor. Linda’s not exactly going to be able to help if he’s got some kind of infection.”
“It’s fine,” Chloe said dismissively. “He saw his sister about it, that’s more than he did either time he ended up gut-shot. I know it’s a little weird but it’s just one of those things, like how he elicits confessions.”
“I thought wasn’t as bad as it looked during the hostage situation,” Dan protested. “And when else?”
“Malcolm,” Chloe said flatly.
“I honestly thought he was dead that night but he left under his own power and if I hadn’t seen the puddle of blood I would have sworn he never got shot at all,” Chloe said. “Look, Dan you don’t have to believe what Lucifer says about being the Devil but believe what you’ve seen with your own eyes. Lucifer can elicit confessions or complete mental breakdowns in seconds. He’s inhumanly strong. And he walks off bullet wounds.”
“Amenadiel admitted that he isn’t healing right,” Dan argued.
“He’s fine. They’re fighting about whether or not he should get a prosthetic,” Chloe lied. It sounded more plausible than: ‘Amenadiel’s worried about what’s happening in Hell while Lucifer tries to work out how to get his arm to regenerate.’
“So could I steal Trixie for a night before she finds out Lucifer’s back and takes matters into her own hands?” Chloe asked.
Remiel tasted blood, she choked on it as it ran down her windpipe and the gurgling sound as air escaped through the gaping hole in her throat terrified her. She didn’t feel the hands softening her fall. She tried to raise her hands to stem the bleeding but they wouldn’t move.
“Somebody try to flag down one of her siblings!” a man ordered.
“I’ve got a feather,” a woman said.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m not going to stand around watching her choke, bleed out and revive over and over until one of the angels lower themselves to talk to us,” the woman said sharply.
Remiel felt a burst of warmth and strength flow into the wound to her throat. She took a deep breath then sat up and looked around. She found herself in the middle of a grassy lane between towering, fantastical skyscrapers. Dozens of human souls were staring at her curiously. “Wha-” Her voice caught in her throat and she leaned over to spit out a mouthful of blood. “Where’s Michael? How did you have one of my sibling's feathers? Where am I?”
“You might say ‘thank you’,” the woman said tartly. “After all we did heal you.”
“With a feather stolen from one of my siblings!” Remiel snapped. Then she frowned, there was something familiar about the woman.
“Well, I wouldn’t say stolen precisely, we pick ‘em up all the time after your little fights,” the man said. He shook his head. “You know there was a time, before I died, when I’d of thought Angels were peaceable types, if they existed at all. But no, you lot are always in one brawl or another. Just the other day Raziel was screaming about a page being torn outta one of his books. You know feathers flew over that one.”
The woman snorted in amusement, “Most of us humans show up with an understanding about the dangers of getting between a librarian and their books.”
Remiel winced. She could easily picture it. The list of siblings who treated books with the reverence Raziel believe due was practically non-existent.
“Raziel actually talks to us, not like most of you,” the man continued disapprovingly.
“I’m in one of the human ghettos?” Remiel realized. “Why would I have been drawn here?”
The oddly familiar woman rolled her eyes. “As if anyone tells us anything,” she said. “It’s just: You’re in Heaven. Have a nice after-life.”
“To be fair, they were a bit more thorough back when Uriel was around,” the man said.
“Well, the head of the human side of the welcoming committee took off to get it on with Lucifer right after I died,” the woman said. Remiel was certain she should know her. “We adapted… And don’t say Michael’s an adaptation. I got his version of the orientation speech. The main thing I gathered from him was: ‘Don’t bother asking for God. Dad doesn’t talk to us, He’s certainly not going to bother with a bunch of lesser beings’. You know, the way he whines, for a few minutes there I thought I was talking to Lucifer.”
Remiel winced at the too accurate imitation of Michael’s whining. ‘What am I doing still standing here?’ she thought. ‘I need to find out what happened to Michael after those demons ambushed us.’ She spread her wings but before she could fly off the woman grabbed her arm.
“Wait!” the woman exclaimed. “You were with the group that brought Lucifer. Is he okay? What’s going to happen to him?”
“You don’t have to worry about Lucifer,” Remiel said patronizingly. “It’s not the start of Armageddon, Lucifer’s not here to pull any souls down to Hell. Actually, it’s Azrael who removes missorted souls from the Celestial Plane.”
“I’m not scared of Lucifer,” the woman said. “I’m scared for him. We heard Michael dragged him to a cell. That he was bleeding out, half dead! What did you lot do to him?!”
“Why would a human care about the Devil?” Remiel asked.
“Because I actually met him. Because he’s my friend. Because I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t helped me figure out how to turn myself around,” the woman said, her eyes narrowed accusingly. “See, the funny thing is? Humans who actually meet the Devil and don’t end up liking him, at least reluctantly… Well, they don’t end up here.”
And a light went on, “You’re that human Amenadiel flew up,” Remiel exclaimed.
Charlotte Richards nodded.
“You got got shot shielding him,” Remiel finished. “I- Thank you,” she stammered. “My big brother told me about how he fell. I’m not sure what would have happened to him if he’d been killed while he was mortal.”
“Can you tell us what’s going on with Lucifer?” the man asked. “You angels are doing so much talking about him that even we hear but it’s all rumor and some pretty wild ones at that.”
“I suppose you know Lucifer too?” Remiel asked the man.
“Only second hand,” he said then held out his hand. Remiel stared at it blankly. He shook his head and sighed. “John Decker,” he introduced himself. “Your brother is my daughter’s partner. Saved her life a couple times. My granddaughter, too. I’m real grateful for that one.”
“Why?” Remiel asked. “I mean, why your granddaughter more than your daughter?”
John smiled wryly. “I want Chloe to have a long life and get the chance to watch her daughter grow up but I’ve got no worries about where she’ll end up after she dies and she’ll do alright in Heaven.”
“Well, of course, it’s Heaven,” Remiel said. “And, of course your granddaughter would come here if she died. All children do, Azrael makes a special point of escorting them up. She says they don’t understand death well enough to judge themselves so she intercedes. Uriel agreed with her and Father didn’t say anything against it so she must have the right of it.”
John shook his head, “This is a good place to be but it’s no good for becoming.”
“It’s a Lotus-Eater issue,” Charlotte explained. “It’s easy, too easy to bliss-out endlessly reliving the best moments of your life. If you can resist the Loops, you can reconnect with your loved ones, learn that skill you always meant to find time for,” a quick grin lit her face, “Or catch one of the couple hundred plays Shakespeare or Wilde penned since their deaths.” She gestured to the city around them. “Humans built all this,” she said.
Remiel took a more careful look, the city was clean and bright, the building designs driven as much by aesthetics as function. Displays of artworks and crafts were intermingled with gardens. The city was a labor of love.
“We’re not resource limited here,” John continued. “And this place has a way of smoothing most the rough edges between folks. We’ve got material scientists from from the twenty-first century collaborating with the architects of the great Cathedrals. It’s amazing what we accomplish. But only if you can fight off the Loops.”
“No one really knows why,” Charlotte said. “Maybe because they don’t have the experience to know that life’s supposed to have its ups and downs but kids just can’t seem to escape their Loops.”
“We know they’re happy but they’re not really here with us,” John said. “So I’m eternally grateful your brother saved Trixie from that, I dearly want the chance to meet that girl. And I’d really appreciate anything you could tell us about what happened to Lucifer.”
“If he’s in trouble we want to help,” Charlotte said as she subtly guided Remiel into walking with them. “Character references. If you want facts about what he actually does while he’s visiting Earth. There are a lot of us who would happily speak on Lucifer’s behalf.”
“It’s nothing like what you’re thinking,” Remiel assured her. “We only brought Lucifer here because he was injured. It wasn’t us that hurt him, it was his demons. He was overthrown.”
“What was he doing in Hell in the first place?” John asked.
Remiel sighed and set herself for a long explanation.