The house isn’t entirely dark when Lucifer bypasses the front door lock and steps over the threshold, but he knows only one person lives here, and he is currently being surveilled by the detective and the douche. More than likely the lighting of the bedroom was intended as some paltry defense against burglars. Unfortunately for their erstwhile murderer, the Devil is not a burglar… mostly.
He glances at a panel on the wall and informs the security system that absolutely everything is fine and there is no need to alert the authorities. He is the authorities. Or authority adjacent. In any case, the electronic hum quiets. Just to be certain he’s entirely alone, he takes a moment in the small, dingy hallway he refuses to call a foyer to listen for heartbeats.
While he and the detective did not catch the perpetrator at his place of employment or that dreadfully boring cafe he went to afterward, she may well have gathered enough evidence to apprehend him at any of the other places Lucifer certainly did not deign to follow him to. Though that would be something of a shame, he thinks, considering all the trouble he went through to park his sometimes annoyingly distinctive car all the way down the block. He examines his reflection in the hallway mirror and flattens his hair.
”Just go home!” the detective had half-shouted when he’d fiddled with the buttons on the car door one too many times. And he’d certainly gone to someone’s home, though, he must admit, not precisely the one she was most likely imagining.
He shakes his head and forays further into the house, past a bathroom even dingier than everything else, past the closed bedroom door with the ill-advised band of light streaming underneath, past the small kitchen, and into the living room. The curtains are drawn shut, painting this space, at least, with darkness.
There is also a properly dramatic armchair in which to sit and wait for the punishee, though it is tragically not in the ideal corner for the purpose. This is, however, easily remedied, and Lucifer simply picks the piece of furniture up and resettles it in the precise location for optimal shock. When Mr.... Dawson, if he recalls correctly, arrives at his rather unfortunate hovel, Lucifer will be there waiting for him.
He sits in the armchair. He waits. He twiddles his thumbs. He kicks his feet a bit, scuffing the ugly, beige carpeting. He reviews a series of games he played against Tartakower in ‘29. He plans out a new, especially infuriating method of stealing Daniel’s pudding. He composes a few bars in the impressionist style. He thinks about how the sunlight reflects off the detective’s golden hair. He checks his phone.
It has been five minutes.
“Bollocks,” he mutters to himself, standing and striding definitively into the kitchen only to stop and stare at the appliances, suddenly at a loss for what to do. It stinks rather badly, and a few flies buzz pathetically over a bespoiled plate.
Dishes are piled as precariously as Pisa’s tower in the sink, and he starts there, turning the tap to scalding and retrieving soap from where it’s been stored behind the plumbing fixtures. He washes them. He dries them. He stacks them upside down in random cupboards.
He ransacks the refrigerator and the paltry excuse for a pantry. He consumes two bags of cool ranch puffs—at least the bastard has good taste—most of a half-gallon of orange juice, and a tinned concoction that reminds him rather violently of the Blitz. He does a bump of cocaine off the counter he just cleaned. He sniffs and wipes it down again.
He pulls out his phone with something like desperation. Ten more minutes have passed.
He makes a wordless noise of complaint and heads back into the living room. He settles in the armchair again. He plans out set lists for the next month, then dismisses them. He idly hums Baby, One More Time before transitioning into Für Elise. He imagines the detective, splayed on sateen sheets, lips slightly parted in invitation. He feels vaguely guilty and stops. He thinks about a shining, ornate knife, about blood on his hands, about ash and the endless corridors of Hell.
He leaps out of the chair abruptly and peruses the room, looking for something—anything—to distract himself. There is a small bookcase next to the old television. He crouches in front of it and trails his fingertips over the spines. It’s filled primarily with tosh and twaddle, but there are a few less worthless texts. He sits in the chair, again. He reads them. All. He tears his phone from his pocket.
It has been twenty minutes.
He inhales sharply, gritting his teeth, and grips the rough-textured arms of the chair. He can hear the buzz of the electrical wires in the entertainment setup, in the walls, in the lines outside. He can smell old cigarettes and unwashed human and the mustiness of a house whose windows are not often opened. He can feel the slight tremor of traffic on the next street over and the deeper, slighter shake of the somewhat unstable earth beneath his feet.
He digs his fingers further into the chair until the fibers sing at the edge of tearing. Then he breathes, once, twice, three times, sharply through the nose, trying to slow the intakes of air.
He drags his mind from mundanity and thinks of punishment; it is the reason, after all, that he is here in this room. He examines the process, from scenting the prey—a few days ago when the detective pulled a new file off her desk and pressed it into his hands—to the final capture—what will be waiting for him in only a scant few minutes.
And here, in this thing he, perhaps, shouldn’t enjoy, though he can’t quite help himself, he finds his sense of calm. He thinks of the stars, now, of their ceaseless patience. Thinks of his own patience in forming them from simpler matter. Thinks of that way of perceiving that he rarely engages in anymore. Of holding in his mind every thread of a single moment, of watching them unravel before and behind.
It’s like chess, this. Like music, like sex, like punishment. An instant drawn out until the whole of the universe is laid before him, every intricacy noted in its cause and effect, its precedence and ramification.
And he can see it all.
There is a soft scraping sound as a key is inserted into a lock—an unlocking, an understanding—and a man comes in on a breeze that smells like stale sweat and greasy food. He begins to stumble down the hallway.
Lucifer straightens his cufflinks, pulls out a cigarette, and flicks his lighter open, just in time for the perpetrator to round the corner.