“Okay, I left money for pizza—“ Chloe pressed her fingertips to her forehead and shook her head.
“I can pay for the take away myself,” Lucifer protested.
“It’s on the counter,” she said without pausing. “And no alcohol, or drugs, of any kind.”
Trixie peeked over the back of the sofa and giggled.
“You do realize I’m an adult, don’t you, Detective? I said I’d keep an eye on the urchin, and I will. I’m a man of my word.”
Chloe raised a brow and point to Trixie. “Monkey, I’m serious. If anything happens, you call me.”
“I’ll watch out for Lucifer, Mom, don’t worry!” Trixie said cheerfully.
“I don’t need an eye kept on me.” Lucifer pursed his lips and rolled his eyes.
Chloe pulled on her jacket and came up to Lucifer with guilt written on every line of her face. “I have a team waiting to come in if anything happens. I’ll be safe. But we need to follow up before Janssen is able to skip town, and that means now,” she said apologetically.
“I know. But I’d be perfectly fine to help you. It’s not even all that bad,” Lucifer insisted.
Chloe pressed a hand lightly to the fresh dressing under Lucifer’s shirt, and to his dismay, he did wince. He would heal quickly enough after she’d gone, but he’d been unable to get Chloe to leave his side since things had gone south at the warehouse. It really hadn’t been her fault that he’d flown off to catch Abe Janssen’s business partner Lance Grand while her back was turned, and she’d shot Lucifer by mistake when he’d returned to protect her from Janssen himself. The short little wanker had proven quite deadly to his brother and tried to pin it on his wife.
Thus, there it was. Friendly fire. And not their first time on this ride, either. She wasn’t even wearing her necklace now. Lucifer wondered when she’d taken it off. Fashion choice this time, or just run-of-the-mill guilt?
“I’ll be wearing a bulletproof vest,” Chloe said. “Honestly, we need to start making you wear one. You’re a civilian. I can’t believe Pierce has let things go this far… He’s usually so by the book.”
Lucifer refrained from rolling his eyes again. He might sprain something. “It isn’t like I’m dying or anything.”
“Did you bleed a lot?” Trixie asked.
“Trixie,” Chloe warned.
Lucifer touched Chloe’s hand and grinned at Trixie. “Buckets.”
The girl crept closer. “Can I see?”
“Trixie!” Chloe shook her head and then seemed to realize that Lucifer was holding her hand. Her eyes shone a bit as she looked into his. “If I find out you hesitated even a second to call the doctor—“
“In the exceedingly unlikely event that I should grow worse, I’ll have Trixie and I off to the hospital at once. Until then, we’ll be perfectly boring and safe here having pizza and watching whatever movies your precocious little offspring desires.”
“Well. Not anything.” Chloe squeezed his hand slightly. She looked like she might be about to apologize again. Or worse, cry.
To head that off, along with the lurid details Chloe had been avoided mentioning in front of Trixie, Lucifer touched Chloe’s cheek, causing a blush to color her skin and stubbornness to crease her brow.
“Do you trust me, Detective? I’ve spent the evening with her with your guidance before.”
Chloe’s eyes lowered to where the wound was, as if it say, “But then you weren’t injured!” She didn’t say it, however. Just sighed.
“You really ought to be off,” he whispered.
If she weren’t being so stubborn about this, he would have insisted they go together, but he couldn’t explain to her in any way she would believe that he could heal himself, and he certainly couldn’t show her the truth of things right now. (Thanks ever so, Dad.) So the best Lucifer could do was trust her to take care of herself on the job as she always did. Chloe was no damsel. And unfortunately, a very good shot. If he’d been the same height as Abe Janssen, Chloe might have gotten him in the heart.
A fresh giggle disrupted the lengthy stare that had locked their eyes together, and Chloe pressed her lips together and went to give Trixie a big hug and a kiss before making her way to the door once again.
“Call me if anything happens!”
“Goodbye, Detective!” Lucifer pushed himself up from where he’d been sitting at the kitchen counter and blew her a kiss as he shut the door on her. “There. On our own, finally.”
Trixie pinched her lips to the side.
Lucifer pressed his hand to his abdomen as he walked back to the counter. Chloe wasn’t yet far enough. It was the main reason he’d submitted to dressing in a looser t-shirt and bloody drawstring sweatpants. Dolce and Gabbana, of course, but still. He’d no desire to ruin another suit, should his wound open up before he could separate himself from Chloe. It still felt a bit like his insides might out.
“What happened to your sitter, anyway?”
“Maze is off bounty-hunting.”
“Right.” Lucifer shrugged. “Pizza then.” He took the money off the counter and handed it to Trixie. “I’ll be ordering from one of my favorites, if you don’t mind. What’s your preference of toppings? Please don’t say pineapple.”
“I don’t like pineapple. It’s a fruit that eats you back.” She paused. “I like pretty much anything else though. As long as it isn’t weird.”
“And what classifies as weird?” Lucifer settled back into the seat he’d been in before and took a breath. This “vulnerability” thing was getting old.
Trixie’s eyes widened, and she sucked in her lower lip. The girl had her hair pulled up into knots on either side of her head, and the style made her eyes look all the bigger. “Like, caviar, or snails, or… arugula.”
Lucifer bit back a laugh. “How about spinach? It’s not bitter like arugula.”
Trixie screwed her brows together. “If you say so. Arugula’s pretty gross. Grandma made us salad with it and pears and goat cheese once. I almost died.”
“Truly a foul cheese from a foul animal,” Lucifer agreed. “I’ll order one prosciutto, spinach, mushroom, and truffle oil, and one plain cheese with extra cheese. Normal cheese. How’s that sound? Then you can take a bite of adventure, and if you don’t like it, you can have your mum eat the leftovers.”
Trixie nodded and hopped up beside him as he ordered.
“Now, what movie are you going to subject me to?”
“Can you make it to the couch?”
“I’m not an invalid,” Lucifer objected.
“Mom said you got shot in the gut. That’s one of the most painful ways to die.”
“I know. I’ve done it before, thank you very much.” Lucifer rose again, steadying himself to ensure he didn’t validate the girl’s fears, and gave her a smug look as he walked on his own to the couch without faltering. Once there, though, his jaw tightened and he gripped the arm tightly. Lowering himself would be a little more difficult.
Trixie flopped on the couch and turned on the television. She pointedly didn’t look at him as she began scrolling through movies. “It’s almost Halloween, so I get to watch horror movies. As long as I’m with an adult.”
“Oh, do I count?” Lucifer eased down onto the sofa. “I wasn’t quite sure which of us was to be the babysitter.”
Trixie nudged him with her toes. “She just worries a lot.”
“And you try not to make her worry more. I remember.” Lucifer frowned at the string of zombie faces and screaming heroines flickering across the queue. “Doesn’t this all give you nightmares?”
“No. Halloween’s my favorite holiday.” Trixie pulled her knees up to her chin as she clicked through. “Do you get nightmares?”
Lucifer thought back to his last dream involving his wings. “Not about movies.”
“Oh, this is fun. Mom doesn’t like this one. It’s too gross for her.” Trixie hit play and snuggled back into the couch until she was leaning against Lucifer. “I don’t know how anything can be too gross when you’re a cop.”
“Ah, exactly what you want before dinner.” Lucifer stiffened, but it caused his stomach to ache, so he tried to relax a bit and shift into a comfortable position.
“Yes! Anyway, Maze doesn’t like this one either, because it’s too sappy.”
Lucifer raised his brows and the stop motion characters began to sing. “What am I watching? Why are these people all so dreadfully ugly?”
Trixie let out a squeal of a laugh. “It’s Corpse Bride! And they won’t all be ugly.”
“That one’s ugly. And that one’s uglier. What’s wrong with that one?”
“I think he’s diseased.”
“She just has a huge butt.”
Lucifer chuckled. “I don’t believe that pretty girl is related to those two mutants. Someone had an affair.”
“Oh my gosh!” Trixie giggled. “Who would want to?”
“Of course, Depp is in this with Helen Bonham Carter. I think, legally, she’s required to be in everything he’s in. Or the other way around.”
“I know, right? I’m glad he wasn’t in Harry Potter. That would’ve been weird.” She grabbed his arm. “Shush! Watch this!”
Lucifer tilted his head to the side as the scrawny character began to play the piano. “For a moment there, I thought he was playing the Moonlight Sonata.”
“What?” Trixie looked up.
“I’ll play it for you sometime. It starts out similar to this piece.”
“Okay. Watch them. Look, she heard him playing. They’re gonna meet.”
“I, too, am drawn to a piano whenever one’s in the room…” Lucifer smiled a little, then looked down at Trixie. “The Victorians were a lot like this. The upper class, anyway. Those that didn’t quite fit into society spilled out in the most glorious of ways.”
“Is that what this is supposed to be? I couldn’t tell what time it was supposed to be.”
“Something like it. Uptight people, sneering at the nouveau riche, oppressive clergymen.” Lucifer shook his head.
“Yeah, that guy is a jerk. They’re like sixteen or something. He could be nicer. It’s just a rehearsal. It’s not like anyone can see what a mess this all is.”
“You know what they say: Bad rehearsal, good performance. It’s actually quite auspicious to muck up the run through.”
The two of them continued chatting through the movie as the events unfolded, as unlikely as they seemed to Lucifer. He tried to keep his commentary on the underworld and the uselessness of the pastor to a minimum, and as Trixie requested, hushed whenever Victor and Victoria were having a romantic moment. They were sweet, in a way, despite being a completely awkward mess.
The movie was nearly over when the doorbell rang. Trixie paused it and hopped up to answer the door.
“Wait—“ Lucifer objected.
“Hi!” Trixie said cheerfully.
“I have an order here for Morningstar?” the young Postmates man said.
“He’s right there.” Trixie pointed at Lucifer.
With a grunt, he pushed himself up, prepared to take over.
“Just stay there!” Trixie ordered. “How much?”
“Oh, it’s already paid for.” The young man smiled and handed the pizzas to her.
After Trixie had closed and locked the door, she set the pizzas on the coffee table, disappeared into the kitchen for a moment, and returned with plates, paper towels, and a couple of Sprites.
“Didn’t know I was getting a servant for the evening,” he commented.
“Don’t be dumb. The guy who gets shot stays put.” Trixie turned the TV back on and opened up a box. “Okay, I’m gonna try one piece with prushoe-ho and truffles.”
Lucifer blinked at the screen. “Did she just turn into butterflies?”
“Yup!” Trixie put a piece on her plate and a piece on his and handed it to him. “I have no idea what that means. It’s pretty, though. They probably did it because it’s pretty.”
“It probably symbolizes rebirth.” Lucifer set the plate on his leg, trying to muster up the will to eat while his abdomen still ached. “She spent all that time waiting for someone to make things right after she’d been hurt by someone she trusted, but now she’s moving on.”
“Oh! Okay. That’s way less crazy.” Trixie lifted up her slice and took a bite. “I don’t always know why they do stuff in movies.”
“I doubt you’re meant to know all of it. There were some dirty jokes in there, too. Probably aimed at the parents. And no, I won’t explain them to you. I get in enough trouble with your mum.”
“You’ll get the jokes soon enough. You’re smart.”
Trixie licked her lips and set her slice down. “Do we need to call someone?”
“What?” Lucifer pushed himself up a little.
“You don’t look like you feel okay.” The girl’s brows were knitting together. “You promised, if you didn’t feel good—“
“Beatrice, I am fine.” Lucifer set the plate on the coffee table. “By the end of the night, I’ll be back in fighting shape.”
Trixie lowered her lids and flattened her lips, disbelieving.
“You wanted to see?”
Her brows shot up. “Really?”
Lucifer lifted his shirt, revealing a fairly clean dressing. Tentatively, with eyes wide, Trixie came closer. With careful hands, Lucifer gently pulled the side of the dressing back. Trixie was shaking, eyes fixed on what she was about to see.
“Don’t tell your mum,” Lucifer warned.
Trixie shook her head rapidly in agreement.
Then, he revealed the wound. It was smaller than it had been. Cleaner. But still red around the edges with bruising. Stitches were more trouble than they were worth in the long run, but it was far better than having a surgical team messing around in his guts. He’d called a paramedic who owed him a favor as soon as he’d calmed Chloe enough. It was the only way to know for sure he wouldn’t be rushed off to the hospital or drugged into oblivion.
“There’s another set of stitches on the other side. Clean shot. Through and through. No bits of bullets inside doing any damage.” Lucifer looked down at it. “Looks a lot better already. Just hurts a bit. That’s all.”
Trixie’s body sagged, as though the fear had kept her upright, and having released it, she had nothing left. She drew in a shaky breath and nodded.
“It helps you to see things, doesn’t it?” Lucifer put the dressing back in place and pulled his shirt back down. “You and your mum, so practical.”
“I guess.” Trixie sat back on the couch. “I’m sorry some bad man shot you.”
Lucifer didn’t want to lie to her. He also didn’t want to share what Chloe clearly didn’t want Trixie to know. “Are you better now, knowing I’m fine?”
“What would it look like if you weren’t?”
Lucifer furrowed his brow. “Well… I’d probably get very pale. Maybe shake, lose consciousness. Or maybe I’d get red and scaly all of a sudden.”
Trixie screwed her mouth to the side.
“Haven’t done any of that yet.”
“No.” Trixie furrowed her brow for a moment, thinking. Then, she scooted back over to her pizza and handed Lucifer the remote. “Okay. I believe you. It’s your turn.”
“Yep. I’m good. Just promise me you’ll tell me if any of that stuff is happening.”
“It won’t. However, I will keep you updated.” Lucifer repositioned himself and scanned the offerings for something child appropriate.
“How’d you like the movie? Apart from ugly people and that dumb pastor.”
“It was alright. Did have a couple of decent songs. People don’t fall in love that fast, though. Lust, yes. Love, no.”
Trixie snorted and drank her Sprite. Then, a look of pure wickedness crossed her face. “How long did it take you with Mom?”
“Me with…? What?”
Trixie laughed so hard she rolled over and nearly fell off the couch.
“I can see now how you and Maze get on so well.” Lucifer scowled at the television. Of all the things. Comparing him to that lanky, piano-playing, lovelorn sop.
“You’re so triggered!”
“I’m fairly confident you must have no idea what that means.” Lucifer selected a movie. “How much can you handle, child?”
“Maze pretty much lets me watch anything. It’s fine if it’s scary. But no sex stuff because that’s gross.” Trixie righted herself and turned to the screen. “What’s this?”
“Called Hush. It’s about a deaf woman who lives in the woods, and a man is trying to break into her house and kill her.”
“Cool. Let’s watch.”
Lucifer smirked and started the movie. He suspected he could find Trixie’s limit if he really tried, but she’d probably enjoy the logical nature of how the protagonist in the movie approached her predicament. After all, Trixie had been through situations in which some lunatic had all the power before.
He made himself comfortable, and several minute in, took up his plate. He didn’t fail to notice how she looked at him briefly and smiled, seeing him eat finally. As though that were some sign of his alrightness. It wasn’t far from the truth. He could feel his insides beginning to mend, more quickly now that Chloe had been gone for some time.
It occurred to him as they watched the movie, with much less chatter than the first, that unlike the piano-playing sop, it hadn’t taken him mere minutes to become infatuated with Chloe. It had taken, rather, all of a few weeks.
And then, she’d shot him.
* * *
It was a miracle that Chloe had been able to focus at all as they tracked down Abe Janssen after they’d lost him. Every time she let her mind wander even slightly, she could feel the blood welling up against her fingers as Lucifer struggled to breathe beneath her. She’d shot him. Again. Chloe hadn’t even realized that Lucifer had slipped around her to subdue Grand. There had been this gust of wind behind her, and then she’d just… lost track of him.
Pierce had been on her for the last few weeks, dropping hints that it was dangerous, borderline negligent, to allow a citizen consultant to follow her so closely on so many dangerous cases. Someone had done his homework, citing incidents of Lucifer running through a burning building, approaching armed suspects to distract them, stepping in front of a sniper’s gun and daring the suspect to shoot him, running into a room full of airborne poison to save two victims, and quite literally leaping off of a pier to protect Charlotte Richards.
No matter how invincible Lucifer convinced himself, and at times the people around him, that he was, the result was the same: His warm brown eyes staring up at her in pain and poorly masked fear.
Maybe it was time that Chloe found herself a new partner. She’d been vindicated in the Palmetto case, and her solve rate meant she’d have her pick. After taking on Lucifer’s persona as Lucinda a few weeks ago, Chloe could admit how intoxicating it was to feel so powerful and in charge of things. But in reality, Lucifer was all too human, and all it took was one bullet, properly fired, to take him out. He could have been killed by now, and if that happened, Chloe would never forgive herself.
Chloe tried to put it all out of her mind as she finished up her paperwork at the precinct. They had tracked Janssen down and brought him in. He was slippery, but not as physically daunting as Grand had been (despite the large man having been found tied up at the warehouse). That done, Chloe felt that she could finally relax a little. She kept checking her phone, expecting a message any moment that Lucifer was being rushed to the hospital…
All she’d received was a selfie from Trixie with Lucifer waving in the background. It was so hard to believe that she’d gotten so lucky this time.
As Chloe headed back to her car, she hesitated, just for a moment, at Pierce’s office. She was tempted to go in right now and have that talk with him about Lucifer’s place in the precinct… But her instincts over the past month had been telling her something was off. Maybe he was right about Lucifer. However, as much faith as they all had in the Lieutenant, Pierce still talked down to or outright ignored most of the female employees. Including Chloe, even after claiming that he believed her to be their best detective. He became strangely fixated on getting involved in some cases, then seemed to let things slide.
You can’t save ‘em all. Or so the Lieutenant said.
There was just too much on her mind, and she couldn’t wait any longer. Chloe slipped out the front door, set on home, knowing she and Lucifer would have to have a discussion about this sooner or later. Given the day he’d had, though, it could wait.
When Chloe arrived home, it was quiet. She opened the door slowly and entered on feather-light steps. She could smell the pizza, and light flickered from the television, which had been muted. She locked the door behind her, set her jacket on the counter, and drew closer to the couch. Trixie lay there, dead asleep with a blanket over her as she dozed against Lucifer. For a moment, she thought he was asleep as well, but then she noticed his fingers moving on his phone.
“Hey,” she whispered.
Lucifer looked up and favored her with a charming smile. “How did it go? A tedious and torturous chore without me by your side, I’m sure.”
“Mm-hm.” Chloe shrugged. “Well, it went pretty smoothly. Caught the bad guy. Not as many puns along the way, though.”
Lucifer shook his head. “Truly insufferable working conditions.”
Chloe raked her eyes over Lucifer. His cheeks were longer so pale. There was no more pain straining the corners of his eyes. “You seem to be feeling better. Did you take something?”
“Detective,” he sighed.
“I wouldn’t blame you. Much. As long as it was prescribed by a doctor and not a dealer.” Chloe sat on the edge of the couch, just in front of Trixie, who didn’t take up much room.
“I’ve had nothing but pizza and lemon-lime soda for the past few hours. I did promise.”
“We just watched movies. I was just checking in with Maze for anything she’d do with the urchin after she’d kipped down for the night.” Lucifer glanced over at Trixie. “She said she’d take her off to bed, but I thought I might end up breaking her neck or something.”
Chloe covered her mouth. “You’re not—I know kids are small and vulnerable, and you feel like if you do the slightest thing wrong, they’ll break, but kids are really resilient. Especially around Trixie’s age. You did fine.”
“Second big shock of the day, that, hm?”
Chloe patted Lucifer’s knee. “But you probably shouldn’t be carrying anyone for a few weeks. I’ll get her in bed.”
“You really don’t need to worry,” he protested. “I’m not exactly fragile.”
Ignoring his complaints on behalf of his manliness, Chloe slipped her arms around Trixie, shifted her onto her hip, and went to put her into bed. Trixie roused only briefly, muttering about how she and Lucifer had watched a movie about a smart lady and how Trixie had told Lucifer how to get away from a bad guy hunting him.
“I learned it from Maze, but the movie had some good tips, too.”
“Glad to hear that, Monkey. He could use all the tips he can get,” Chloe said before giving Trixie a kiss on the top of her head.
“We’ll look after him, though.” Trixie yawned and curled around Ms. Alien.
A silly smile teased over Chloe’s lips as she left Trixie’s room. It felt like things were settling nicely again. She’d hate to upset things beyond repair. And that would definitely happen, if she caved to what Pierce wanted.
Lucifer was no longer lounging on the couch. He was in the kitchen, pouring a couple of glasses of wine and smiling up at her.
“Told you. All better.”
“You shouldn’t drink that if you’ve had painkillers,” Chloe warned.
“Again, not had any. Don’t need any.” Lucifer lifted his glass and sighed softly before taking a long sip. “Someday, I’ll get you to believe something I say. Dearie me, I’ve told you practically everything.”
Chloe came up to the counter. “Lucifer, I don’t want to hash this out tonight. We’ve both had a really long day. You more than most.”
She trailed her fingertips over the counter and stared down at it. Lucifer slid a glass over to her.
“You seem to be more drained than I am, Detective. I’ve had the whole evening off. Do tell what’s distressing you so.”
Chloe pursed her lips and looked up at him, barely containing her annoyance. How could he be so blasé about this? “I shot you. I could have killed you. Isn’t that enough? I put your life in danger.”
“Our lives are in danger all the time. In the efforts to keep other lives out of danger. I thought that was your whole jam. Besides being an overprotective mum.” Lucifer took another sip of his wine and refreshed his glass. “And don’t get me wrong, I do miss mine—a bit—since I sent her off to another universe, but I’m not aching to have you play the role. A bit too Oedipal for me, I’m afraid.”
“Okay. Whatever… That means.” Chloe shook her head and leaned back against the counter. “It’s hard for me to keep doing this with you when I know you’re prone to rushing into danger head first. We’re beyond the point when you don’t know any better.”
“How many times can I tell you that you have nothing to worry about?”
“You can say it as many times as you want, Lucifer, but I had my hand over a gushing wound today!” Chloe’s voice strained, fighting between her sudden anger and the need to stay quiet. She pressed her lips into a line and closed her eyes for a moment. “Pierce thinks that, perhaps, you shouldn’t be a consultant with us anymore. And if you aren’t going to be more careful, I might start to agree.”
“Pierce? That grunting, graying, pudgy He-Man doll?”
“He’s my boss. If he wanted, he could simply revoke your status as a consultant.”
Lucifer set his glass down and set his mouth in a stern, petulant expression. “Oh, and you agree with him, do you? Yes, sir, Lieutenant, sir.”
“It isn’t like that.” Chloe rounded on him. “I care about you. I don’t want you to die because one of us gets too comfortable or too careless. And I think we have to admit, in the heat of the moment, I can be too driven, and you can be too impulsive. When it ends up like this, you can’t blame me for being upset.”
“Oh, I can and will. This is hardly the worst ending we’ve had to a case, although for me a bit boring.” Lucifer stepped closer to her. His eyes flickered over her face for a moment, and he took her hand and slipped it under his shirt.
Warm, smooth skin. The dressing for his wound was gone. No dressing. Chloe blinked and pulled up his shirt. Was she feeling the wrong side? Was this a trick?
No. His left side, apart from a few pricks where the stitches had been, was completely unmarred. Creamy, unharmed, vibrant skin. Not even a bruise marring his abdomen. Her mouth fell open, and for several moments, she moved her fingers over the place the gunshot had been, as well as the spot the bullet had exited on his back. She could feel the seconds ticking away as her mind refused to put this together as real.
“Glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Lucifer teased.
“I saw—“ Chloe objected, straightening up to stare Lucifer in the face. “I felt it, with my hand. I held you—I-I stayed with you—How?”
The stubbornness in his eyes faded to a vulnerable openness that she’d rarely seen. He licked his lips. “You saw. You felt. With your own eyes and hands. I can’t show you everything. Not right now, and I’m sorry about that, because if anyone deserves honesty, it’s you, Detective, but… Can’t you believe this, having had the evidence in front of you? Can’t you accept just this one part of me?”
“No one can heal that fast,” Chloe argued. “This—“ She pointed at his side, as though he didn’t know. “This isn’t possible!”
“But I did. And it is.”
“It, um…” Chloe faltered. “A trick. I don’t know why you would—“
“You really think I’d lie to you about this? Didn’t you go on the stand and declare you don’t believe I’m crazy or a liar?” Lucifer tented his brows, bending over slightly, as if his injuries hurt him again.
Chloe gestured forward with her hands several times, trying to put into words the mass of confusion in her mind. “I don’t—I just…”
She looked up at him again, and the reached forward to feel up and down his sides. His lips curved slightly, uncertainly. He looked a little afraid. As he might be, being the impossible, and trying so ineffectually to show it to her.
“I’ve seen you get hurt so many times. I’ve shot you, twice,” Chloe whispered.
“Indeed. I don’t hold it against you, though. I do heal.”
“Impossibly fast.” Chloe swallowed as Lucifer put his hand over hers as she pressed her palm to his side. “Like… When Malcolm shot you.”
His thumb rubbed over her hand. “The explanation is a bit different in that case. But similar principle. I’m not saying I can’t die, but you needn’t worry as much as you are.”
“Why did you heal right away then, and it took you so long this time?” Chloe’s mind was still reeling, trying to make sense of this. “And you didn’t even slow down when Jimmy Barnes shot you.”
Lucifer started to speak, then let go of her hand and pulled away.
“What?” Chloe urged. “Tell me.”
“I wasn’t hurt when Barnes shot me. It stung a bit, but I wasn’t…” Lucifer swallowed and looked at their abandoned wine glasses. “I wasn’t vulnerable yet.”
“What does that mean?”
A conflicted frown creased his forehead, and he answered slowly, “I can’t always be hurt.”
Chloe creased her brow and a memory struck her vividly.
“C’mon, give ‘er a squeeze. We’ll be good to go!”
He’d been so damn confident. Egging her on.
“Just shoot me, Detective, please, because then maybe, finally, you’ll—“
And then, the look on his face. Less pain, though that had come in a moment, than abject disbelief.
“I’m bleeding. I don’t—I-I don’t bleed… What does this mean?”
“Well, it means I shot you, and I’m an idiot, and I’m sorry, and I’m in so much trouble.”
“What’s happening to me?”
Guardedly, Chloe asked, “When I shot you the first time, you really didn’t think the bullet would hurt you? You were really surprised. I thought you were in shock.”
“I’ve been thinking about that a lot today,” Lucifer admitted. “I’d never gotten hurt from a gunshot wound before.” He smirked. “In some ways, you could say you were my first.”
“Stop that. I’m serious. You’re telling me that, under some circumstances, guns won’t hurt you at all. And… what else?” Chloe thought back. “Poison? Fire?”
“It would depend—“
“Lucifer, what are the rules? Why does none of this make sense?” Chloe demanded.
“They don’t make sense because I don’t understand them! Simply that…” Lucifer paused for an exceptionally long period of time. “When I’m near you, any of these things can hurt me. Except it didn’t work until that day you first shot me. Now that I’ve put that part together, it makes even less sense then I thought it did. Unless my father made it happen as a fresh new joke on me. He seems to be full of them, lately.” He rubbed his hand over his mouth. “Do you believe me?”
“About your father or about your moving target of mortality? I don’t know.” Chloe felt her eyes sting. “I don’t want to be the one thing that can hurt you.”
“When it comes to it, I’d rather that not be the case either, frankly.”
“This isn’t funny.” Chloe crossed her arms. “When I left… You could heal?”
“Maybe I ought to have chosen some other gift to show off for you.” Lucifer put his hands on his hips. “Then again, I’ve already shown you how strong I am, unlocked doors and handcuffs in front of you, and you watch me do my desire bit practically every week. None of it has done much to alter your perception of me at all.”
Chloe looked up at Lucifer. His face was the same. The same aquiline nose. The same intense, rich brown eyes. Same neatly-groomed perpetual stubble. The logical machinery of her mind ground against itself trying to allow the Lucifer she knew to exist alongside a man with actual superpowers.
But she’d known. She’d suspected, at least, that his “linguistic suggestion” was more than a trick, and that no lanky British man could lift men twice his size like rag dolls and toss them through glass windows.
“Please don’t do that,” he begged softly.
Chloe started. She hadn’t been doing anything at all. “What?”
Lucifer breathed a sigh of relief. “When I finally got Linda to believe she just… stopped. Didn’t speak or respond, just stared. Not at me. Not at anything, really. Eventually, I left her there and hoped I hadn’t broken her entirely. She got over it, I suppose, since she’s for some reason chosen to continue to therapize me, but…”
“I’m not broken,” Chloe assured him. “I’m just trying to understand.”
That lost look in his eyes was all too familiar, too. Instead of standing in her kitchen, they’d been standing on the beach, and his words had echoed the tone in his voice right now:
You’re special, and I’m not worth it.
A man who had helped so many people. Who devoted much of his time to simply encouraging people to do what made them happy. Who had helped her bring justice for so many others. A literal, if flawed, superhero. Or supernatural something or other. The details of it didn’t matter to her much right now.
“Just don’t… go?” Lucifer asked.
Chloe took a step closer and put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Her lips met his. They were as surprisingly soft as ever. This time, although Lucifer’s hand hovered just a hair from touching her, he leaned into the kiss. Chloe felt overwhelmed with that musky, smoky scent that was all his own. Lucifer wasn’t one to wear cologne, and yet seemed to always smell perfectly delicious anyway. When his hand finally settled on her back, so gentle and hesitant, Chloe looked up at him. His brows tented, full of concern.
“Chloe,” he whispered.
His hand grazed over her hair, and he let out a soft breath of a laugh, shaking his head a little. Chloe smiled a little in embarrassment. She didn’t know why she had the urge to kiss him every time he looked that way, so open and vulnerable. It wasn’t fair that she made him vulnerable in so many ways. Maybe that was it. Seeing his weakness made her want to rise to the occasion for him. Be stronger, braver.
Show him what he wanted to see, what was real between them, even if they’d both pushed it away so many times…
“Don’t you go, either,” she warned. “You’ve already been to Vegas this year.”
“Oh, I, er...” Lucifer pressed his lips together sheepishly.
“Don’t sweat it. Ella may have spilled why you had to go. I’m glad she’s alive…” Chloe shrugged her head to the side. “But also, tomorrow would not be a good day for an abrupt vacation.”
Tomorrow, he would probably be pulling out his mantra of “just friends” and “partners,” but for now, he was smiling at her, and his arms were curling around her, and his forehead pressed against hers.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
“For not breaking? For not running? Lucifer, you have to have faith that nothing you could reveal about yourself is going to send me out that door for good.”
He half shrugged and gave her a gentle squeeze. “I don’t really believe that, but… You seem to be handling this much. I’ll be thankful for tonight, regardless.”
Chloe cupped Lucifer’s cheek. She was thankful, too. In spite of crazy, inconsistent superpowers, they’d still gotten lucky. And he was still here, breathing and making half-smiles as he tried to distance himself from getting too close.
Insult to injury, that it put him in jeopardy both emotionally and physically to get close to her.
“Stay tonight?” Chloe asked. “I need help believing we made it through the day.”
“As you wish,” Lucifer answered easily.
She took his hand and led him back to the sofa. Sitting beside him, Chloe snuggled under his arm and sighed, rubbing her fingers against her temple.
“Do you need anything?” Lucifer asked.
“No. Just… Just let’s stay here a minute.”
It was quiet in the apartment, and Chloe enjoyed the feeling of being pressed against him, his arm securely holding her. She could almost sense his eyes on her.
“We have to get you wearing Kevlar,” Chloe muttered.
Lucifer clicked his tongue. “That’s hardly necessary.”
Chloe closed her eyes. “The blood soaked into your clothes from today says otherwise.”
“My suits are tailored. A bulletproof vest would never fit under my waistcoat.”
“Treat it as an excuse to update your wardrobe.”
Lucifer chuckled. His fingers combed through her hair. Minutes slipped by, and Lucifer leaned over and pulled the blanket over her. Chloe felt herself starting to doze, enveloped by the heat and scent and strength of him, and just as she drifted off, she thought she heard Lucifer murmuring to himself:
“Quite darling, you fussing over my protection. Who would’ve ever thought a miracle could have such an interest in the Devil’s safety.”