it starts, as it usually does, with an exceptionally shiny quarter sitting pretty on the center of chloe’s desk.
lucifer is nowhere to be found. it goes like this every year - chloe was confused by his absence at first, his cagy behaviour. when she found him and confronted him he was embarrassed , something she had never thought she’d see on his face. it took a little time, and a lot of reassurance, and quite a few tangents along the lines of this is my father’s doing and i want no part of it! before he’d settled.
still, every springtime, it starts with a quarter. chloe finds it endlessly entertaining that apparently angels are just big crows, and her endlessly powerful, immortal boyfriend who’s actually the devil tries to win over her affection with a quarter.
he already has her affection, but it’s the thought that counts.
she has just pulled the (very shiny) tin out of her desk to place the quarter in with the rest of them, the distinct sound of metal on metal ringing true in the almost empty precinct. she looks up just as dan rolls another drawer shut and reaches to scratch at the top of his head, scrape his fingers down to rub the back of his neck.
“everything okay?” she calls, and he looks up.
“i can’t find my keys,” he says, almost like he’s saying it to himself. chloe has to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. trixie had given dan a keychain lit up with rhinestones, and even outside of courtship time lucifer eyes it like it could solve all his problems and then some. it goes missing almost every year.
“i’m sure they’ll turn up eventually. gotta spare?”
dan sighs. “yeah, i’ll manage.”
“c’mon, i’ll give you a ride.”
chloe drops dan and trixie off, citing that she needs to go see lucifer (“is he okay?” “yeah, he’s fine, i should just go check on him”).
lux is quiet so early in the evening, but chloe is let in with only a nod from the bouncers. the elevator ride up is quiet, but not suffocating. chloe can manage a smile to herself before the doors slide open and she can step into the penthouse. it’s quiet in there, too, and the lights are off, letting the california sun paint everything and orange and gold.
there’s a telltale shuffling sound that drifts down the stairs, and she moves towards it without her mind asking her feet. she climbs the stairs, and once at the end of his bed, she has to cover her smile with a loosely closed fist.
chloe can’t really see lucifer, mostly just heaps of blankets, mountains of pillows, and a pair and wings sticking akimbo from the soft structure. dan’s keys are sitting right in front of her, and there are quite a few other items that catch the light strewn about. it very much looks like lucifer was setting things up just right before falling victim to the pull of the nest and falling asleep.
chloe reaches and runs a finger up one exposed foot, earning a scandalized yelp and a very undignified flail of limbs. he ends up on his knees, facing the wrong way, his feathers puffed up like he could scare away his mystery assailant. chloe clears her throat, and his head whips around, and she watches the confused frazzlement slip off his face and get replaced by delight.
when he reaches for her, chloe threads her fingers through his, and he can finally see her smile and he lights up with it. his wings curl towards her almost as an instinct. chloe notices a few very familiar throw blankets entangled in his nest.
“hey, birdbrain,” chloe says, her voice as soft as possible, “dropped by the house, did you?” chloe lets him tug her onto the bed, lets him press his face to the crook of her neck. he hums.
“they smell like you.”
chloe rolls her eyes, but there’s nothing but affection in her face, in the way she trails a hand up to curl her fingers into his hair. “you can’t keep dan’s keys.”
“you never let me keep dan’s keys.”
“he needs them to get into his house, lucifer.”
“but they’re so shiny .”
chloe snorts, turns her head to kiss under lucifer’s ear. he makes a low noise, like a purr, and his wings bend into a relaxed fold. chloe draws back just enough to rest her forehead against his, and smiles when she can see his wings droop behind him out of the corner of her eye. his eyes are soft, hands softer as he curls his fingers into her shirt at her sides.
“it’s lovely, lucifer. thank you,” she says, just to watch him perk and preen at the praise. that’s all he wants at this point that she knows of; the knowledge that he’d built her a nice nest for her to rest in.
“well,” he says, as if on cue, “it’d be better if you were in it with me.”
chloe rolls her eyes again, very fondly, because lucifer’s eyes are bright and happy, a little glazed, and he looks so hopeful she can’t help but give in a climb into the pile of blankets with him. he is unnaturally warm, but that doesn’t stop chloe from pressing up against his chest, feeling his pleased noise rumble out through him. they end up somewhat horizontal, with his wings folded all around her, zinging static through her skin.
“i better not wake up covered in feathers,” she says, muffled against his chest. he bends his legs around hers, locking their ankles together in a gentle hold.
“i finished moulting last week.” he can’t hide the whine that creeps into his voice, and it makes chloe snort. he was always such a baby when he moults. she strokes along the outer edge of his wing, and he droops, soothed.
“you’re much easier to get along with like this,” she says. she only gets an indignant noise in response. his eyes are already closed, his eyelashes splayed against his cheekbones, and chloe leans up to kiss under both, smiling when his mouth curves up. he dips to catch her lips with his own, nudges under her jaw, shifting just so the light has to filter through his wings, pale and faceted gold. he settles about half his weight on her, makes a happy chattering noise and wriggles close, then goes still. chloe huffs, but it doesn’t sound annoyed even to her own ears.
“lucifer.” there’s no answer. “lucifer, you’re heavy.” he shifts just enough that his weight isn’t unbearable. chloe sighs. “okay. twenty minutes.”
she wakes up when it’s pitch dark the only light coming from lucifer’s wings, refracting whatever comes through the penthouse windows tenfold. she has about a million texts from dan, and she apologizes profusely, even though he’d already said he’d take trixie for the night. somehow she’d ended up with her back pressed up against his front, his free wing and matching arm slung around her waist, and when she leans to put her phone somewhere outside the nest he makes a pathetic noise and clings onto her, his forehead pressed between her shoulder blades.
“i’m not leaving,” she says. he huffs, still weighed down with sleep. chloe rolls her eyes, figures she can end up at work from lux anyways, and settles back against him for a restful sleep.
3. mating plumage.
lucifer shows up late for work, because he had slept in a suit and had been absolutely appalled with himself. he only shed a few feathers into chloe’s hair, which he had picked out with focus chloe only earns for about two weeks every year.
chloe tosses dan’s keys on his desk, which means he doesn’t tease her for wearing the same clothes two days in a row. he can’t save her from ella, though, who wolf whistles as soon as chloe has landed at her desk.
“how’s lucifer?” she says, eyebrows lifted, as she opens the lab doors as slowly as possible.
“he’s fine, ella.”
“he sure is.”
a laugh startles its way out of chloe. “ ella! ”
“i have eyes.”
she grins, before her eyes abruptly go wide and she darts into the lab. lucifer trots down the steps, coffee balanced carefully in hand, and chloe sees him spot her and light up before she physically can’t look at him anymore. unfortunately, part of this elaborate ritual exaggerates his need to look as good as possible at any given time. he crosses the floor, places her coffee on her desk and dips and drop a kiss to the top of her head.
he smells amazing too. goddamnit.
“hello, detective,” he says, and when he only receives a distracted noise in reply he says “is something the matter?” and chloe can hear the smirk on his face. chloe pulls her expression into her sternest look, though she can feel her mouth pulling up at one side, and when she lets her eyes wander up to rest at his face he is grinning wicked, and she can’t help but follow.
“you look good,” she says, letting an index finger trace the chain of silver tucked neatly into the pocket of his vest, accentuating how slim his waist is. he visibly preens under the praise, tugging at his cufflinks just to make sure his sleeves are right. if chloe thinks hard enough, she can imagine his wings puff up behind him, and the image makes her snort. she knows it’s all for her, tries to take the stress of courtship off of him all she can, and making sure he knows he’s doing a good job is the biggest part, she thinks, letting him sail through it without fretting over what step comes after the other.
chloe slides her hand inside her jacket against the black silk of his shirt, just to feel the warmth of him, and beckons him in for a kiss. they usually don’t at work, so dan makes an exaggerated gagging noise until their mouths are too curved to kiss any longer.
lucifer eventually steps back to hand dan a coffee to placate him, before slipping into the lab to do the same for ella. before the door shuts, chloe hears “dude, new cologne?” followed by lucifer’s confused noise. like always, he seems to have forgotten that, while the dance was for her, everyone else could see the feathers.
the metaphorical ones, anyways.
4. territorial behavior.
he returns a little bit later, well after chloe has gotten into her paperwork. he may be tripping over himself to gain her affection, but somehow he still always seems to be missing when there’s forms to fill. he takes a sip of his drink, eyeing her all the while, before he takes something out of his pocket and slides it towards her. chloe tears her gaze away from his neatly lined eyes and to the glinting silver sitting on her desk.
“is this a dental mirror?” she asks, making no move to touch it. he looks delighted. so delighted that chloe takes the thing and tucks it into her jacket pocket. she assumes it’s clean. ella can live without it for a bit.
he finishes his drink. he drums his fingers. he gets up and wanders but always comes back to her, like he’s in orbit. and every time chloe drags her eyes up the long line of his legs he always seems to catch her, lecherous and grinning, even as her face turns red. it’s far past when he would have usually left out of boredom, territorial on the best of days but worse during courtship, he hovers and flits about, drawing almost every eye at one point or another. chloe knows he doesn’t mean it, not really, so she just rolls her eyes and only marginally keeps watch.
by the time he comes back around the sun is going down, and he seats himself next to her in a rolling chair, fixing the lines of his suit as soon as he’s settled. he’s not paying attention when chloe grabs the edge of his seat and drags him towards her. he flashes her a startled expression, but does nothing to stop her, frozen in place, midway through adjusting a cufflink. she just smiles, stretches up, and tucks her face into his neck. just as she thought, he smells like honey sweet figs and the roughness of pomegranate against her pallet, overtop of the sharpness of split sky and the tang of seasalt. lucifer liquidates at her touch, and the brush of his fingers is featherlight against the outside of her arm.
“ detective , we’re at work,” he says, halfway to a purr, so she laughs and pulls away, despite the way he sways after her like she’s the one flooding the whole building with pheromones. she feels a little dopey on them, unable to keep her lips from turning up, staring at him, forgetting what she was going to say, tripping over it with her tongue until it comes out.
“wanna get out of here?”
“i thought you’d never ask.”
they listen to something quiet on the way over to lux. chloe lets lucifer drive and he doesn’t even speed that much, one hand curled around the wheel and the other threaded through her fingers.
they stay like that - interwoven - all the way up to the penthouse, before he leaves her on the couch to fetch drinks. his back to her, he shifts from foot to foot, before he spares her a glance over his shoulder and unfurling his wings ever so carefully into an upward arch. chloe can still hear the clink of crystal, but she’s far too focused on how the bar lights shimmer off his feathers, bounce to halo his curls in refracted light. he’d clearly groomed for her this morning, for his wings are almost crystalline, flecks of rainbows littered on the walls.
he smells of his usual rainstorm, his usual salt, but there’s more , something thick and sweet, sticky on her tongue; something familiar now, but so foreign. there’s probably no name for it in a language anyone knows. all she knows is that she’s on her feet without remembering how she got there. she remembers a few seasons ago he’d mentioned how they itched when folded away, and she should be used to them, having seen them many times in their various forms over the years. still, she’s drawn to them, even as they lower and fold, glinting like stained glass behind candle flame.
chloe puts a hand on his back, just between his wings, and he doesn’t jump, doesn’t even startle, but he does stop meddling with glasses on the bar. this was the part that he was most anxious about, in the beginning; he had pleaded with her that she didn’t want any of it, that she was just being manipulated by something he couldn’t control, and she’d kissed him hard and assured him that not even angelic intervention could make her do something she didn’t want to.
so even now he waits. waits for him to be scared of her or snap back to some other reality, she’s not sure. it’s been years, and she loves him. so she puts that into a touch, straightens out a misplaced feather, watches him deflate into it. he leans into her, so she slides her hands around his waist, presses her nose to the base of one wing and breathes deep. his breath catches, shivers when she lazily plucks the buttons of his jacket undone.
“chloe,” he says, and she can hear rumble in his back like it’s from inside somewhere holy, and she hums in agreement. he shifts his wings, up a little, out a little, and she can feel the ripple of muscle under her cheek, so she nuzzles there, finished with her deep drink of the smell of him. she feels a little hazy on it, but nothing bad; it’s nothing like being drunk, save for the warmth that spreads to every facet of her skin. he turns in her arms, wings tucked in close and careful not to smack her in the face. his eyes are wide and earnest and hopeful, so chloe doesn’t mind that she has to stretch up on her toes to kiss him sweetly on the mouth. he basically purrs into it, his fingertips trailing over each bump in her spine until they can fit over her hips.
they manage to separate enough to have drinks, have dinner, eyes never quite leaving each other as the day dies into something sweeter. the sky holds orange and purple for longer than it should, each change reflecting readily off of lucifer’s feathers until they drag the starlight in, hold it, turn it new and wild in the walls of the penthouse. they shift like living animals, and chloe is starting to learn their language; the impressive preening arch; the excited, delighted shiver that sends light like sparks; the low, submissive splay of them if she were to step up behind him.
eventually they make it to bed, which is still fully a nest of soft and shiny things. he starts arranging things as soon as he sees it, tugging at pillows and blankets until they were just right again. he taps his chin, wings slowly drooping in something she could only describe as dejected , before chloe snorts on a laugh and fishes the mirror out of her pocket and holding it out before him. she watches it refract light into his eyes, flashing them the colour of fresh turned earth, before he grins and takes it from her palm. his fingertips brush her skin and it sends a wave of goosebumps through her.
“perfect,” he says after he’s placed it just so, so the moon can catch it just right, before he leans over and kisses her once, quick and soft.
they change - or rather, she does; lucifer just strips and has to be coerced into underwear - and he wastes no time crawling back into his nest, stretching his wings until one of them brushes a wall with its primaries. of course, he turns just in time to see chloe slip into the shirt he’d just put away. he watches her not like a predator stalking prey, but more like a man watching the sky open up for rain.
he welcomes her into his arms, bundling her up in arms and legs and wings, tucking into her shoulder with a muffled sigh. chloe mirrors his sound, curling a loose fist into his hair until it becomes unruly.
“lucifer,” she says, wiggling out of his grasp, even as his eyes come up wide and pleading. she smiles, her lower lip tucked in her teeth, and she doesn’t miss his gaze dip to linger on them, just for a moment. she nudges his shoulder. “turn over.”
he has inexplicable softness in his eyes when he does so, even if he says “really, detective, taking advantage of me when i am in such a vulnerable state.” chloe huffs a laugh, and he breathes it right back, right before he goes still and sober as she straddles his waist, gently pushing longer feathers out of the way to make room for her thighs.
“this alright?” she says. she can feel his ribs expand out to press a little more firmly into her legs. she presses a hand between his wings and feels that too.
“yes.” it’s quiet. private. acknowledgement that there’s trust in having her at his back, pinned down, and not feeling any anxiety towards her intentions. in fact, she watches with a swelling heart as he draws his wings in near, bends them enough that they tickle along her calves and kiss her heels.
6. mutual grooming.
he’s well groomed already, but he’d made it clear - in that passing sort of way that he does - that this was important. there are a few places that are hard for him to reach, so she rolls up the too long sleeves of his shirt and spreads her palm flat, moving it slowly from skin to down, sure not to startle him. it doesn’t, and the instant he feels her fingers in his wing he makes a low noise, shifting his wings back until he smiles and fits her fingers into them.
she takes her time fitting each feather back into place, smoothing out barbs and making sure everything returned home. he makes little noises sometimes that are suspiciously birdlike; coos and trills.
“you sound like a pigeon.”
“i do not sound like a pigeon.” he says it directly into a pillow, with half as much venom as she would have heard in any other circumstance. chloe snorts, tugging a feather, making him whine and twitch the wing away from her, if even only for a moment. she smoothes a hand over pristine feathers, watching them drink in the moon, and he makes another little content sound. she smiles fondly.
“whatever you say.”
he huffs, and it’s half grumpy and half sleepy so she laughs, feeling his own mirth shake underneath her. she does a few more passes through the feathers, pressing gentle fingers into oil glands because that’s where the smell is coming from and she wants to smell it, to smell like him. she manages not to taste it, because that’s not what they’re doing right now, clearly, because lucifer’s breathing has evened out and he snuffles softly in sleep.
chloe cocks her head, then shakes it, rubbing off extra oil onto the ass of lucifer’s shorts. he makes an interested noise but doesn’t fully wake up. figures.
she slips off of him and wriggles under a wing, and cuddles as close to his side as she can. he turns to her, even in a partial sleep, and she traces the curve of one eyebrow with tender fingers; the rise of his cheekbone; his lower lip, until he catches her wrist and presses a kiss to her fingertips.
“goodnight, chloe.” he says it the same way a pious man would utter a prayer. her heart flips.