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left my shoes in the street (so you'd carry me)

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"Dude, why don't you just ask her out?" Dan asks, after Lucifer has paused their afterglow-make out session to sigh wistfully at his phone for the third time. 

It's been a little over two weeks since Chloe showed up at Ella's party and took Lucifer back—but that was as friends and work partners, and Luce's lovesick puppy routine was cuter the first hundred times.

"Sorry, love," Lucifer says, looking up from whatever text he's about to send. "What's that?"

Dan rolls his eyes and tilts Lucifer's chin up for another kiss. "I said, 'Why don't you ask her out,' dumbass."

"Ask her out?" Lucifer repeats, leaning away indignantly. "I can't just ask the detective out like we're in—in grade school, Daniel!"

Okay, it's still a little cute. Lucifer is blushing.

Dan urges him to lay back against the pillows. He traces a hand up his bare chest and teases, "C'mon, you used to ask her to sleep with you all the time. Is the big, bad Devil that freaked out by a little crush?"

"I do not have a crush!" Lucifer crosses his arms. "I've just— well, I mean, I'm terribly busy keeping you satisfied as it is, and there's the unresolved business with the bloody flaming sword, so, really, is it even the right moment?"

"Yeah," Dan says, glancing pointedly at Luce's dick, which is already hard again and twitches just from Dan thumbing a nipple. "I'm the one who's hard to keep satisfied."

Lucifer splutters uselessly before giving up and falling back on, "The flaming sword, though!"

"Okay." Dan fights the urge to smirk. "Let's talk about the sword. 'Cause you know that keeping Maze in the dark is gonna backfire spectacularly, right?"

Lucifer growls sharply, flipping them over and pining Dan's wrists to the mattress in one rough motion that sends a thrill up Dan's spine.

"Enough goading," Lucifer warns, his voice a low rumble against Dan's throat. "If this was what you wanted, all you had to do was ask."

Yeah, but this was more fun. And also—

"You're not slick, you know," Dan tells him, sliding a foot up his calf and kicking out when Lucifer bites at his shoulder. "I'm friends with your therapist—I know you're deflecting."

"Obviously." Lucifer transfers Dan's wrists into a single hand and slips the thumb of his free hand into Dan's mouth. "Is it working?"

Dan sucks dutifully, eyes fluttering shut, until Lucifer moves to press at the underside of his jaw instead. He takes in a breath and says, "For now."

"Ooh," Luce purrs delightedly. "Ominous. Are you threatening me, love?"

Dan flexes against Lucifer's grip with his hips canting up to rock against Lucifer's thigh, challenges, "What'll you do if I—" and then the phone rings. "Shit."

He ditched his cell on the nightstand, but he can see that it's the station; he's on call this weekend, so it's almost definitely a body.

"Ignore it," Lucifer suggests, and sinks his teeth into Dan's earlobe.

"You know I can't," Dan answers half-heartedly. He tries to tug his hands free and is gratifyingly denied.

"Tell them you were off showering." Lucifer sucks a mark into Dan's neck and toys casually with his dick, still mostly soft but not totally uninterested. "You're allowed to have those, aren't you?"

Dan arches his back. "You saying I should lie?"

Lucifer twists his wrist and murmurs, "I'll fuck you in the shower if it assuages your conscience," and, yeah, it definitely would, and that's when Lucifer's phone rings.

He frowns, peering at it from where it's buzzing on his pillow, and drops his hold on Dan to grab it. "Well, we can't very well ignore that."

Dan asks, "What's—?"

"De-tective!" Lucifer answers, clicking on speakerphone and shooting Dan a mischievous grin. "You have impeccable timing. Daniel and I were just about to—"

"Ugh, I knew it," Chloe says. "Tell Dan to answer his phone. We just caught a body."

Dan starts to answer her, but Lucifer muffles him with a hand over his mouth. "Ah, we're rather indisposed, you see. I'm quite certain the poor sod will be just as dead in a few hours, aren't you?"

"Lucifer," Chloe scolds.

"Something the matter, Detective?" Lucifer narrows his eyes when Dan bites down on the meat of his palm, but his voice is still bright on the phone. "You can come over and give us both a right good spanking if you'd like."

"Oh my God." Chloe huffs, but she sounds more, like, warmly frustrated than actually pissed off, which is— "Just get here as soon as you can."

Lucifer says, "Will do, dear," and hangs up the phone. He scoffs at Dan's raised eyebrow, taking his hand away. "What?"

"You know what I'm gonna say," Dan tells him, and puts his wrists back above his head.

 

~*~

 

The body is at a psychiatric hospital. One of the orderlies was found dead by—

"God," says Chloe. "The guy's name is God Johnson. I just got done talking to one of the doctors on staff about it. Apparently he's a patient here—says he's, well, you know."

Dan laughs. "That's ridi—" 

He stops abruptly, turning to Lucifer with apprehension. "That's ridiculous, right?"

"Obviously." Lucifer scoffs, craning his neck to try and catch sight of the dude in his room. "Dad was always far more hands-off than Mum."

Chloe narrows her eyes at him. "Wait, has your Mom, like… visited Earth?"

"Oh, yes, forgot that part, did I?" Lucifer says absently. "I'd like to have a word with this fraud, Detective."

"Okay, we've gotta come back to that later. But then is it really totally outside the realm of possibility that your Dad would, you know?" Chloe asks. "Like, given everything that's happened?"

Oh, shit.

"Uh," says Dan, putting his hands up. "I'm not going in there, just in case."

Chloe raises an eyebrow at him. "Are you scared of meeting the parents, Dan?"

Dan takes a step further away from the door, out of line of sight. "Yeah. One hundred percent, yeah."

"Isn't God omniscient?" Chloe points out, because she's a jerk. "I'm sure he already knows everything about you. Not like you could mess it up more."

"Exactly," Dan hisses. "I've said some shit, Chloe."

Chloe smirks. "I mean, no one's struck you with lightning yet."

Dan crosses his arms and challenges her, "If it's not such a big deal, then you do the interview."

She hesitates, eyes flicking towards the window.

"Ha." Dan points at her with a grin. "You're scared too!"

"It doesn't matter anyway," Chloe deflects. "We need special permission to—where's Lucifer?"

She asks it about thirty seconds too late, because the door's already closing on God Johnson's room.

"Jesus," says Dan.

"Hm," Chloe says. "Wonder if he's here too."

 

~*~

 

It really only goes downhill from there. Lucifer informs them that God Johnson really is his dad, and becomes freakishly hell-bent on confronting him—to the point that he gets himself committed to the hospital to do it.

Dan and Chloe drive back down to the place as soon as they find out, and Dan pulls Luce into his room for a private conversation.

"Luce," he says, running his hand up his arm. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

Lucifer brushes him off. "Of course it is! Not only can I help you get a break in the case, but I'll finally have the chance to confront Father and—"

"That's what I'm talking about," Dan says. He urges Lucifer away from the doorway and then cups his cheek, searching his expression for… he doesn't know. "Luce, your dad, I mean—he was fucking awful to you. For a long time. Are you sure you wanna open that door again?"

Lucifer frowns, even though he's pressing into Dan's touch on reflex. "Why wouldn't I? This is finally my chance to get what I deserve, Daniel."

Dan shakes his head. "What do you mean?"

"An explanation," Lucifer insists. He laughs joylessly. "And an—an apology, for what he's done."

Dan's heart pangs. He asks, gently, brushing his thumb across Lucifer's cheek, "What if he can't give it to you?"

Lucifer's eyes flash red; Dan doesn't flinch, but he tightens his grip against the stubble.

It's over as quickly as it came, and Luce feels smaller afterwards, somehow. Like he's trying to shrink himself back down into something Dan can handle, even though that was never the problem in the first place.

"Don't worry about me, love," he says, moving away from Dan's touch. "You just focus on helping the detective."

Dan grabs him by the wrist and reminds him, "Hey, I love you. Remember that."

Luce smiles ruefully, lifting his index finger to stroke the side of Dan's hand. "How could I forget?"

 

~*~

 

Dan rejoins Chloe in the main room and debriefs. Apparently she's waiting for the doctor assigned to Lucifer's case so she can diffuse the whole "threatened an orderly" thing, which will obviously be a super fun conversation.

"Something's bugging me, though," she tells Dan, frowning. "I mean, all the other celestials have pretty much gone undetected, right? No one would've committed Lucifer if he didn't do it on purpose, Maze has a job, Amenadiel… does whatever he does."

"Right," Dan agrees.

Chloe tilts her head towards the patient wing. "So how does God end up stuck in this place for over a year?"

Dan hums thoughtfully. "Maybe he's here on purpose, like Luce is—waiting for something?"

"It just seems like a long-con," she says skeptically.

Dan gestures with one hand for her to continue. "Or…?"

"He's just a guy with a psychotic disorder," Chloe says, clucking her tongue. "And Lucifer's… I don't know, fixating? I mean, everything he's said has just been super vague."

Dan points out, "He did know Lucifer's old name."

"There's plenty of ways to explain that," Chloe says. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear restlessly. "I'm just worried about him. Do you think I should go talk to him again?"

Dan starts to says, "Maybe. I trust your—" but then his mouth just gets kind of stuck open, because the doctor they've been waiting for turns the corner and waves at him and it's just, like—

So, for a while Dan kind of thought maybe he was just into Lucifer, specifically. Like, maybe he'd kiss a dude or dance with one at a club, because those were just things you could do, but Luce was really the only guy that Dan thought of himself as, you know— being with.

But he's kinda looked back on some stuff since then, and he's a big enough person to admit that he was maybe just a giant fucking repressed disaster for most of his life.

The point is, Dan from two years ago probably would've taken in the doctor asking, "You're the ones who wanted to talk about Lucifer, right?" and noticed the white coat and sleek glasses and neatly trimmed beard, and told himself he was feeling a little jealous of anyone smart enough to get through med school, or maybe focused on how, like, cool and professional the guy looks and wishing he could dress like that without getting called a tool.

But because Dan from today is more enlightened and also like, three hundred percent more tragic, he thinks, Oh shit he's so hot oh fuck, and holds out the wrong fucking hand for a handshake.

"Oh, ah, excuse me," Hot Doctor says, chuckling and switching his clipboard to the other hand. "Sorry, and you are…?"

About to check himself into this hospital before he dies of embarrassment. Maybe they'll let him have the room next to Lucifer.

"Uh, Dan." He clears his throat. "Espinoza. Hi."

"Liam," the doctor answers. He smiles warmly, still clasping Dan's hand, and gestures with the clipboard towards the courtyard. "Mind if we get some fresh air while we chat?"

Dan looks to Chloe, who shrugs and says, "Sure."

Liam leads the way over and holds the door open for them both. "So, what's on your mind?"

"Well, I guess I'm just worried about…" Chloe quirks her lips, trying to phrase it. "I mean, Lucifer's always been quirky, yeah, but he's not usually violent, or someone who—I'd just hate for him to end up with some kind of diagnosis that could hurt him at work."

She digs her elbow into Dan's side. He coughs and adds, "Uh, yeah. I know the Devil thing comes off a little ridiculous, but we just—it's never been a problem, you know?"

Liam shoves his hands into his coat pockets while they walk, looking between them skeptically. "Well, I can't really discuss the specifics of his diagnosis, but I don't make a habit of stigmatizing my patients."

Dan says, "Uh. That's good."

"Now, uh, did you say—" Liam pauses, wetting his bottom lip. "Is Lucifer one of your, a—a boyfriend, or fiance, or?"

"Uh, he's my boyfriend." Dan clears his throat and adds, for reasons he can't even explain to himself, "We're, uh—we're open, though. So…"

"Dan," Chloe scolds under her breath.

Liam says, "Oh!" and raises his eyebrows. "That's good. Uh. I'm sorry. That's information that's good to know, which is helpful, 'cause it's, uh, informative."

"Sure," Dan agrees. "Happy to, uh, help."

Liam rubs the back of his neck and turns to Chloe. "And so you're, uh…?"

"Coworkers." Chloe laughs, high-pitched. "Just co-workers."

Dan's phone buzzes in his pocket. He pulls it out to check it and grimaces, touching Chloe lightly at the elbow to get her attention.

"Hey," he says, "Trixie liked that new babysitter from last week, right? Can you text me their number?"

Chloe frowns. "Sure. Why, is there a problem?"

"I thought Luce and I would be back by the time the sitter left this afternoon," Dan says. He gestures towards the building behind him. "That's clearly not happening, and I can't find anyone else last minute."

Chloe sighs, the classic 'why don't you just leave work early, then?' clearly on the tip of her tongue, but she pulls out her phone instead.

"I'll text her and let her know you're gonna call," she says, typing quickly. "Let me know if you need a hand, though. I can cover at work."

Dan smiles at her gratefully. "Thanks, Chlo."

Liam clears his throat and asks, "Uh, sorry, are you two also, uh—"

Chloe says, "Oh, no," at the same time Dan says, "Used to be," like a total jackass.

She side-eyes him with exasperation.

"Oh. So you're, uh, you're single, then?" Liam asks her.

Chloe raises her eyebrows. "Um?"

"Dr. Garrity?" A nurse interrupts, saving them all from themselves. "It's time for music therapy."

Liam answers, "Thank you, Nurse Kipsy," and then turns back to the two of them. "Ah, I have to go, but it was nice meeting you both."

He fishes in his pocket and holds out a business card. "If you wanted to, uh, discuss further, my cell number is on here. I've, uh, only got the one on me, but—maybe you could, uh, share?"

Dan glances over at Chloe, who jerks her head and looks at him like, 'take the fucking card, Dan,' so he does, and their fingertips brush while he does it which is totally unnecessary and, Christ, if Lucifer was talking about acting like they're in gradeschool before.

"Uh, yeah, we can—we're good at sharing," Dan babbles, cringing as soon as it comes out of his mouth. "I mean, uh…"

Chloe puts a hand on his back and steers him away, giving him a firm push when his shoes scuff against the concrete.

"We'll give you a call if we need anything," she says over her shoulder. "Thanks so much for your time."

She marches Dan back into the lobby area and then tells him, emphatically, as she fishes the car keys out of her pocket, "Oh my God."

"I know." Dan scrubs a hand over his face and pushes the exit door open for her. "I came on too strong, right? I mean, he probably doesn't even like dudes. Is it weird that he's technically Lucifer's doctor? I mean, I'm friends with Linda but that's different, maybe? I can never come back here."

"What?" Chloe clicks the key fob; their car beeps from down the parking lot. "He was definitely flirting with you."

Dan stops halfway through a row of cars and turns to her. "I thought he was flirting with you."

They narrow their eyes at each other for a prolonged moment.

"Doesn't matter," Chloe decides. She waves him off and keeps walking. "I was just… surprised."

Dan blinks, following her to the car. "What?"

"I guess I thought—" she pauses to slide behind the wheel. "I don't know, that the whole open relationship deal was… indulging Lucifer, maybe? I just wasn't expecting—that."

She gestures at him vaguely while he clicks his seatbelt into place.

"Oh," he says.

"Sorry." Chloe presses her fingers to her temple for a brief moment. "You didn't do anything wrong, obviously. I'm—so you're… dating, then?"

Dan says, "I mean, like I said last time, I'm not exactly looking. But if I met someone and there was a connection? Yeah, I'd be interested."

Chloe turns the key in the ignition and says, "Hm. But you and Lucifer are good, right? It's not because you're unhappy or you… you feel like he's not committed enough?"

"What?" Dan laughs. "No. I mean, I've definitely had moments, I guess—of insecurity? But we're good. Really good, actually, or I wouldn't be 'dating.'"

"See, that." Chloe drapes her arm across the back of Dan's seat while she backs the car out of their spot. Her fingertips graze his neck. "I don't understand that part, I think."

She taps the brakes once as another car goes past. Dan waits for her to shift into drive and then hands her sunglasses to her.

"I guess we're… settling in, you know?" he says, returning the brief smile she gives him when she puts the glasses on. "It's not so much work anymore, like it is at the beginning. I feel good enough about it to, you know, explore other stuff too and not worry so much."

Chloe flips her blinker on and melds seamlessly into incoming traffic, heading back towards the station.

"You don't get it," Dan asks.

"I keep thinking about my dad," she says, wistful like she always is, about him. "Their marriage was—I mean, Mom hasn't really dated since he died, even though she acts like she does. And I guess I grew up thinking that was what love looked like—that you met your soulmate, you know? And that was it for you."

Dan looks away from her—out the window, where the hospital is disappearing into the distance. He wonders what it says about him, and their marriage. Did she think he was it for her?

When did he prove her wrong?

He turns his head again, though, and asks, "I mean, you're friends with both Ella and Maze, right?"

She narrows her eyes from behind the glasses. "Yeah?"

"And did you have to, like, love one of them less so you could be friends with the other?" he presses.

"Of course not," Chloe answers. She lifts a hand from the steering wheel, fingers tapping distinctly. "They're totally different people."

Dan turns his palms up. "So why's it different for me and Luce?"

"Hm." She glances over at him and then flicks her eyes back in the direction of the road, but not like she's watching traffic, and that's the thing about Chloe—

She tries really hard not to judge—you can see her walking herself through it, with the purse of her lips and the changing curve of her eyebrows, how everything softens little by little as the worldview adjusts. 

But it's not effortless, and it's the worst fucking fifteen seconds of Dan's life every time.

"For what it's worth," he says, because it's so fucking quiet and it feels less awkward than reaching over to turn the radio on. "I think he would've tried monogamy for me, if I'd asked. I don't know how happy he would've been, but—he wanted me to be happy, too."

"I'm glad you're both happy," she tells him, softly and with conviction, her hand reaching over to cover his where it's resting on his thigh. "I'm so glad."

"I believe you," he says.

She turns the dial up on the radio.

 

~*~

 

Chloe's new babysitter comes through, so Dan joins the team in the lab to review the new evidence in the case. Apparently Lucifer told Chloe that Santa Claus was the murderer, of all fucking things.

Dan coughs and pulls Chloe aside. "Do you think, uh—like, is he real, or?"

Chloe stares at him.

"I was just about to ask you guys the same thing!" Ella says, though, waving an evidence baggy in their faces. "Well, not if he's real, but look!"

"Long, white hair," Chloe says. She flips open the folder that has printouts of all the patients on the ward. "I could see how, if you were mentally ill, you might see that hair and think 'Santa.' Kinda like this guy?"

She points out one patient who, sure enough—

"That guys looks just like the creepy mall Santa from when I was a kid," Ella says.

"Okay," Chloe says, tapping her finger against the paper. "This guy could be the killer. But there's no way to interview him without—"

She looks up suddenly, staring at Dan.

He narrows his eyes at her. "What?"

"A doctor's permission," she finishes slowly.

Oh, hell no.

Dan puts his hands up and says, "Nope. No way."

"What's no way?" Ella asks.

"The psychologist thought Dan was hot," Chloe says helpfully.

Dan protests, "You can't prove that."

Chloe tells Ella, "His cell number is in Dan's pocket."

"Ooh," Ella teases. "Dan's got game."

"Okay, that's debatable." Dan takes a step back, looking between the two of them. "And even if—I mean, it doesn't matter, anyway—but even if it would work, I'm not doing that."

"Fine," Chloe says simply. She lunges for Dan's jacket pocket and grabs the business card before he can dodge her. "I'll do it, then."

Dan stumbles slightly, catching himself against Ella's desk, and laughs incredulously. "You're gonna go on a date for intel on a case?"

Chloe nods with exaggerated resolve. "Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there's still a killer on the loose, Dan. This is our best bet."

Dan's stomach kind of… twists. Quietly, he asks, "What if I actually liked him?"

Chloe holds up the card between two fingers and raises an eyebrow. "He did say we could share."

"Wait," Ella cuts in. "Did something happen with you and Lucifer?"

"Huh? No, I'll explain later," Dan tells her, but he's still looking at Chloe. "Why are you so invested in this?"

"No reason," she bluffs airily. "I just… think it's the best move for the case, that's all."

Sure. The case.

Dan sighs, though, because it's not worth drawing out the argument and she's earned an offbeat scheme or two of her own at this point anyway, after being partners with Lucifer for so long.

"I'll call him," he finally agrees, snatching the card out of her hand. "But it'll have to be at your place—the sitter is with Trixie at mine."

"Deal." Chloe smirks at him, looking pretty self-satisfied for someone who just signed them both up for a total disaster of an evening.

Dan definitely doesn't think it's cute or anything.

He starts to say, "Okay, I guess I'll—" but he cuts off when an unfortunately familiar face walks around the corner.

The Divine Goddess is eating his pudding cup.

Dan's done a really fantastic job of avoiding her since she fucked up Chloe's court case last year and, you know, the whole 'Dan was literally fucking his boyfriend's mom' thing came to light. He bolts for the far door.

"—go do that somewhere else. Far away. Bye!"

"Woah." Chloe grabs his wrist and tugs him back. "We've still got a case to—"

"Hello, Daniel."

Shit. 

Chloe quickly drops Dan's wrist so she can flip all their case files closed. She glares at Not-Charlotte and asks, "What're you doing here?"

Charlotte ignores her and points her spoon at Dan. "You've been avoiding me for quite some time."

"What?" Dan laughs thinly. "That's crazy. No I haven't. Why would you think that?"

"Well, let's see." Charlotte stalks forward, leaving the half-eaten pudding cup on the table near Ella's hip, and tilts her head at him. "Other than the fact that you were running for the door just now?"

Dan coughs and locks eyes with Chloe over Charlotte's shoulder, like, 'please help me.'

"I'm working a case," he says, keeping his voice firm. "I don't have time to talk to you."

Chloe shrugs at him.

"What, because of one measly human?" Charlotte asks, making his eye twitch. "Surely it can't be that important. And with my own… situation in a holding pattern, I need a distraction."

She reaches to stroke his cheek and Dan grabs her wrist to keep her from touching him, faster than he can process it.

He balks at himself. His fingers are digging against her skin—not enough to bruise even if she were human, but—

Dan was fucking furious at her even before he knew the truth—because of what she did to Chloe, because of how she used him. And now that he does know, well. 

She's Luci's mom, and she's using her son like she uses everyone else, and she can say that she loves Lucifer but it doesn't make it enough. It doesn't make her deserve him.

But Dan's pretty sure that part of Luce still loves her, too. And she can't know that Dan knows the truth, or even that they're together, because: see the history of manipulation.

He drops her wrist, and huffs out a shaky laugh, and tells her, "I'm not interested, Charlotte. And I think you should go."

Her face scrunches up into indignant disbelief. "Excuse me? You can't deny—"

"Listen, lady." Ella shoves her way between them, standing with her arms crossed and her chin tilted up to look the fucking Goddess of fucking Creation in the eye. "I don't know everything that happened, but I do know that Dan's a great guy. And he's dating someone who's sweet and cares about him now—who actually deserves him, unlike you after all the horrible stuff you did. So, with all due respect, please get out of my lab."

Oh, God. They're all gonna die.

Charlotte raises her eyebrows, though, and the way she tongues at the corner of her mouth is almost with amusement.

"Sassy," she says, snagging the pudding cup as she strides away on her heels. "I like it."

The door closes behind her. Dan rests a hand on the table as he breathes out.

"Was that too much?" Ella asks him, her eyes wide with worry when she turns to him. "I'm sorry, I just got so mad and you looked so uncomfortable!"

"Ella," Dan says gently. He smiles, squeezing her arm. "You're a good friend."

"Hm." Chloe's eyes are tracing Charlotte's path out of the precinct. "Do you think she's up to something?"

Dan answers, "Probably," but he'd honestly love to totally ignore that right now. "Let's just focus on the case."

 

~*~

 

Dan lets himself into Chloe's place, three grocery bags dangling from one arm, and immediately calls out, "Do you feel like I'm dressed okay?"

Chloe pokes her head out of her bedroom. Her hair is falling in her face and she's wearing slightly more makeup than normal, which makes it ironic that she tells him, "Oh, hey. You know this is mostly an interrogation, right?"

"For you," Dan says. He kicks the door closed and carries the groceries into the kitchen; it seems like Maze isn't home, which is honestly for the best. "Just tell me how I look, Chlo. It's not like Luce can help me."

Chloe furrows her eyebrows, padding over with polkadot socks on her feet. "You'd ask Lucifer for outfit advice for your date?"

"Uh, yeah." Dan sets the bags on the counter. "I mean, he's kinda mean about it, but the dude's got style."

Chloe says, "That's not—you know, nevermind," and takes a moment to look over his outfit instead. 

He's wearing, like, nicer jeans and a blue flannel, because he kind of had a minor identity crisis over whether or not he should wear, like, khakis, and Trixie told him that he should be himself and also that the blue shirt made his eyes look pretty.

"You look great," Chloe says, and reaches up to undo the top button on his shirt. "Just let me…"

Dan's breath catches on reflex, watching the way her fingers flick through the motion of undressing him, even a little, and she looks up at him and wets her bottom lip with something bittersweet flashing across her face.

Chloe coughs lightly and pats him on the chest—then turns back to the groceries and reaches blindly into one of the bags.

"What'd you pick up for dinner?" she asks, even though the answer's pretty clear from the package of tortillas she's now holding.

Dan smiles tentatively, holding up an avocado. "For old times sake?"

"Hm," she says, smiling back. "It's not Tuesday, but I guess we can let it slide."

 

~*~

 

Chloe swats at Dan's hand when he reaches into the mixing bowl she's stirring. "Oh my God, stop!" 

Dan grins at her as he pops the tomato into his mouth. Her hair is pulled back into a bun while they cook and her sleeves are pushed up to her elbows, and it's—

Weird, maybe, because she's rolling her eyes at him fondly instead of seeming actually annoyed about the salsa theft like she used to get.

And because maybe Dan used to do it because he knew it'd piss her off a little and getting her worked up over salsa was better than getting chewed out for being late again, or undercutting her theory about a case—and now he's just doing it to make her laugh.

Which she does, when he goes back in the second time and she tries to whack him with the spoon and he grabs her hand and says, "I'm just checking if you seasoned it!" over her protesting, "Save some for the actual tacos!" and then the doorbell rings.

Dan cuts off mid-laugh, suddenly, like, super aware of how close to her he's standing and how soft the underside of her wrist feels against his thumb. She doesn't stop smiling, but the corners of her eyes turn a little sad.

"I'll get it," she says. "You finish up in here?"

Dan clears his throat, letting her wrist slip free. "Uh, yeah."

She shakes her hair loose while she walks to the door, and Dan turns back to the salsa. It needs a little more salt but is great otherwise, and the filling is being kept warm by the back burner on the stove. 

He rearranges the rest of the toppings on the island and then grabs the six pack from the fridge, at which point Chloe leads Liam in from the foyer. 

"Hey, man," Dan greets, trying to smile a normal amount. "Thanks for coming."

Liam reaches out like he's going for a handshake, then seems to change his mind at the last minute and braces it against the island instead.

"You, uh, as well." He laughs awkwardly. "Or, thanks for having me? You didn't have to go through all this trouble, with the food."

"Nah, don't worry about it," Dan tells him, locking eyes with Chloe. "It was fun."

She flashes him a smile before touching Liam on the elbow. "Can I get you something to drink? We've got beer and wine, unless my roommate went through the rest of it."

"Always a possibility," Dan jokes, grabbing a stack of plates from the cabinet. She keeps them in the same place as their old apartment, to the left of the stove. 

They get their food and drinks—turns out Liam is a wine guy, but Dan gets himself a beer anyway because Linda told him that he makes weird faces when he drinks Merlot—and settle in the living room.

Chloe and Liam take the couch and Dan sits in a chair on her other side, angled towards the two of them. 

He kind of realizes—definitely too late—that tacos are a really intimidating first date food, around the time Chloe licks sour cream off her fingers and Liam drops a glob of guacamole onto the sofa.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Liam says, even though Chloe is insisting, "No, no, it's fine," and motioning for Dan to go get paper towels, which he does.

When he sits back down after rescuing the couch (which, by the way, he's pretty sure Maze casually stole from Lux when she moved out), Liam takes a long drink of wine and then asks, "So, uh—what do you two do for fun?"

"Oh, huh." Chloe swirls the wine in her glass restlessly. "I guess I mostly just like spending the night in with my daughter."

"She's underselling the fact that she's, like, aggressively good at Monopoly," Dan tells Liam, leaning over conspiratorially. "It's pretty cutthroat."

Liam laughs, holding his hands up. "Duly noted."

Chloe says, "I'm a normal amount of good at Monopoly—you're just bad."

"And she's outdoorsy," Dan continues, breezing over the insult. "Hiking, camping, stuff like that."

"I'm the outdoorsy one?" Chloe teases, raising an eyebrow at him. "Okay, Mister Surfer."

Dan grimaces. "I haven't done that in years."

She turns to him more fully, dropping the playful lilt from her voice. "Why not? You used to love it."

There's no answer that doesn't taste sour in his mouth—that between Trixie and their marriage and the job something had to give, and it was easier to live with failing at all of it when it came at the cost of the things that made him who he was.

He thought about taking it up again after the divorce, but the saltwater tasted like signing a custody agreement. Improv was good for him.

"I don't know," he answers, and she rips off a little piece of tortilla in a way that says she doesn't believe him.

"... I've never been camping," Liam says, after the pause stretches out. "What's that like?"

"Well," Chloe tells him, recovering enough to shoot Dan a wry smile, "it depends on if you bring an eight-year-old."

 

~*~

 

The rest of dinner actually goes pretty well, until the conversation circles back to work and Chloe apparently remembers the interrogation part of the evening, which—

Maybe he's been kind of a dick about it, historically, but there's a reason Dan keeps begging her to stop doing undercover work.

"What's he like?" Chloe is asking after having totally, completely normally brought up their suspect. "Is he, you know, one of the violent ones?"

Dan drains the rest of his beer.

"Uh," Liam says, the laughter dropping out of his voice. "What kind of civil servants did you say you were, exactly?"

Chloe's eyes widen, but before either of them can say anything, Liam's phone chimes.

"Well, this night just got even more interesting." He pushes his wine glass farther away from himself. "It seems Lucifer just escaped and took God Johnson with him."

"What," says Chloe, but honestly, Dan feels like they probably could have expected this.

Besides, Linda texted him earlier asking for an emergency 'Humans Dealing with Divinity' support group meeting tomorrow, so clearly something was going on there.

He pulls out his phone to see if Luce escaped with or without his phone—there's nothing from him, but Linda's sent him another message.

Linda Martin (7:35 PM): Your boyfriend is parent trapping God and the Divine Goddess. You owe me exactly 3.5 tequila shots.

Oh, good.

Dan quickly puts his phone face down and tells Chloe, "Why don't you go to Lux and see if he's there. I'll head to the hospital and—" stay as far away from Charlotte as possible. "—start interviewing personnel."

"Oh, you are cops," says Liam. 

Chloe winces, turning to him apologetically. "I'm really—"

"You know, save it," Liam tells her. "Apparently we both have jobs to do."

Dan closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and then looks at Liam to ask, "I'll meet you at the hospital?"

Liam stands up and grabs his coat off the back of the couch. "I guess you will."

They don't see him to the door. Chloe gathers up all the plates and wine glasses while Dan shoves the leftovers into the fridge, and she tosses him his car keys from the alcove as they make for the parking lot.

 

~*~

 

Dan is almost finished collecting statements when Chloe drags Lucifer and God Johnson back into the hospital, and then yanks Dan into Lucifer's room with him for some kind of joint scolding.

"Lucifer, what were you thinking?" Chloe demands. "Did you honestly think breaking your dad out of this place was going to work? And do I even wanna know what Charlotte Richards has to do with all of this?"

Wait.

"Luce," Dan says, turning to him. "You didn't tell her?"

Lucifer seems… agitated, maybe. Not like he's pissed off, exactly, but rocking on his heels and flitting around the room while he tries to find something to dry his hands with.

"Well, I was getting around to it!" he answers defensively, settling for the sheets on his bed.

"Tell me what?" Chloe asks. She grabs Lucifer by the wrist when he tries to turn away. "No, hey. Tell me what?"

Lucifer clucks his tongue impatiently. "Well, if you must know, 'Charlotte' is my mother and I needed to do a little matchmaking, which you thoroughly ruined, by the way—"

"She's what?" Chloe looks like she's on the edge of tears—the furious kind. It seems to break through Lucifer's weird mood, though, sobering him. "Lucifer, how could you not tell me?"

"Detective," he says, raising his eyebrows. "There's just been so much to explain. I didn't want to overwhelm—"

"Oh, sure." Chloe laughs sarcastically. "Do you know what's overwhelming, Lucifer? Constantly feeling like I'm playing catch-up because I'm the only one left in the dark!"

Lucifer tries, "I didn't mean—"

"I thought we weren't supposed to need secrets anymore," Chloe says. "Why are you still keeping things from me?"

Luce shouts, "Because when I tell you things, you leave!"  

He recoils from himself when Chloe flinches, taking a step back and hitting the bedframe without seeming to notice.

"Lucifer," she says.

Softly, eyes wide and wet, he repeats, "You leave me."

Dan's chest hurts. He looks between the two of them—Chloe's wounded anger and Luce's losing fight for composure. 

Chloe looks at Dan, shaking her head at him like she's expects there to be something she can fucking say.

He does nothing, except watch her go.

Lucifer turns to the window when the door closes behind her, and Dan moves tentatively towards him.

"Luce…"

"Sorry, love," Lucifer says, voice tight but gentle. "I'd rather like to be alone."

Dan clears his throat and nods, even though Luce isn't looking. He brushes his fingertips across his elbow and says, "I'll check on you before I leave, okay?"

Lucifer almost smiles. A nurse chooses that moment to walk in, carrying a tray with little cups of pills.

"Time for your meds," she says.

"Lovely." Lucifer takes the cup she hands him and toasts to Dan over the nurse's shoulder. "Cheers."

Dan rolls his eyes. He heads back into the room where they've gathered all the witnesses to the escape—from experience, he's pretty sure Chloe isn't ready to talk about it either, and at least this way he can be helpful.

 

~*~

 

Dan finishes the interviews and phones an all-clear to the station. He figures by now he can go find Chloe and either comfort her or get told off for real, and one of the staff members tells him that they saw her heading for Liam's office.

On Dan's way there, he walks through the group therapy room and finds Liam sitting handcuffed in a chair while Chloe dusts some kind of storage bin for prints.

"Oh, man," Dan jokes weakly. "We're really not getting a second date."

"It is very impressive police work," Liam allows. He holds up his hands pointedly. "I'd applaud, but, you know."

Chloe huffs out a laugh while she snaps a picture on her phone. "Sorry about that—just a precaution."

Dan takes that to mean, 'probably not the murderer,' and relaxes his posture as he goes to peer over her shoulder.

It doesn't take long for Ella to run the print, and the hair raises on the back of Dan's neck when the ID and picture come through.

"That's Nurse Kipsy," Liam says warily.

"She was just with Luce." Dan touches Chloe's arm and then takes off at a jog. "Let's go."

Chloe uncuffs Liam before splitting off in the opposite direction to cover more ground. Dan keeps the unis from clearing out and has them join the search. He goes for Lucifer's room first, which is empty—and so is God Johnson's.

Shit. With Chloe in the building—

Dan hears Chloe's voice shouting from down a staff hallway. He runs towards her, motioning for the others to follow, and finds the suspect with her hands up by the time they get there.

Luce and his dad are strapped to gurneys. Chloe hands the suspect off to a uni and goes to untie him, eyebrows furrowed in a concerned line.

"You okay?" she asks quietly, reaching out and falling short of touching his cheek.

Luce's words are slurred slightly, but he answers, "Never been better," as he looks between them. Dan smiles shakily and brushes a hand against his knuckles.

"What—what just happened?" God Johnson asks, sitting up suddenly. "Where am I?"

Luce turns to look at him incredulously. "What are you talking about? We beat Santa!"

God leans back slightly and asks, "Who're you?"

"It's me, Dad!" Luce says, emphatic but surprisingly gentle. "Lucifer."

God Johnson blinks rapidly, like that explanation makes it worse, and then turns away from Luce entirely to address the orderlies helping untie him. "Is anybody gonna tell me what the hell is goin' on here?"

Lucifer's face falls. Dan shoots Chloe a look, but Luce fixates on something near Johnson's gurney; Dan follows his line of sight—it's the belt buckle Johnson's been wearing since they got here.

"Luce, what's—"

Lucifer staggers to his feet and grabs the buckle, bracing himself on the gurney to stand again. He turns it in his fingers and locks eyes with Dan.

"'The piece is here,'" he says, which means absolutely nothing to Dan.

"What?" he asks. "Babe, are you—"

"I've got to go," Lucifer tells them, shaking his head like he needs to clear it. 

He goes for the door, but Chloe stops him with a hand to his chest. "Lucifer, where are you going? Are—are you really okay? You don't look yourself, did she do—"

"Detective," Lucifer says firmly, touching the bend of her wrist with one hand. He looks her in the eye and promises, "I can explain anything you wish later, if that's really what you want. But right now, I need to find Mum and Amenadiel."

Chloe shakes her head slowly, staring at him with disbelief or resignation, or both in equal parts. "Okay."

She lets him go. He doesn't spare another glance, even to Dan. 

Chloe massages at her eyes with both hands after he's gone, sighing into her palms.

"Hey," Dan offers gently, "I can take care of things here if you want to go."

"No, no." She peeks at him from between her fingers, which are dug into her eyebrows now. "I want you to go be with Trixie, okay?"

Dan squeezes her arm and says, "Okay. Call me if you need anything, alright?"

"Yeah, of course." She clears her throat and goes to redo her ponytail. "Thanks, Dan."

"Sure thing," he says.

 

~*~

 

They go their separate ways, and Dan even makes it home before Trixie's bedtime. He pays the sitter, watches TV with Trix to make up for being gone so long, and sends her off to sleep at a reasonable hour.

He's thinking about turning in early himself when someone knocks on his door.

Dan narrows his eyes suspiciously; Luce would've let himself in and Chloe would have called. Maybe Maze wants something? He gets off the couch and looks through the peephole and finds—

Charlotte.

Dan freezes with his fingers pressed to the door. Can he pretend he's not home? But maybe it's some kind of emergency or something—he's not sure if Luce got his phone back before he left the hospital, and she's supposed to be with him right now.

It's okay, Dan thinks to himself. You can do this.

He opens the door and tells her, "I thought I made myself pretty clear."

"I kissed a man today," she says, and Dan has to brace a hand against the door frame because that's so fucking not what he was expecting.

"Wow," he says. "Uh, congratulations?"

"I thought he was my ex-husband," Charlotte continues. And the more Dan looks at her, the more she seems—well, less like a terrifying force of nature who sent humanity plagues and floods and could kill him with one finger, and more like a person—sad, and maybe even a little lonely. "And when I kissed him, I realized it wasn't him."

Wait, so then God Johnson wasn't—

Is that why Luce ran off?

Charlotte blinks rapidly, staring past Dan, over his shoulder. "And the strangest part is, I don't know what's more upsetting—that I thought it was him, or… that I wished it was."

All Dan can manage is the truth, which is, "I… don't know what to say." 

She's so unlike how he thought of her—even before he knew the truth. Her voice shakes when she says, "I just don't want to be alone. Could we just hold each other? Please?"

And in another universe, God help him there—

Dan thinks he'd say yes. He's always been kind of a sucker, when it comes down to it.

He could still use a little help as it is, because there's something about her face that keeps him from slamming the door in it. The way her eyes feel so much like Luce's, maybe, even though they don't look it.

"I'm not gonna sleep with you, Charlotte," he tells her—hard line. Then softens his voice, after, and holds open the door. "But… you can come in, if you want some company."

Charlotte looks genuinely confused by that, but after a moment of hesitation, seems to take him up on the offer. She slips past him into the apartment with a fluidity that seems both vaguely inhuman and a little like she's expecting him to change his mind.

Dan shuts the door behind her and warns, "Keep your voice down, okay? My kid's asleep."

"Fine." She crosses her arms, looking guarded and lost—and super out of place in his dingy apartment in the same way Luce used to look, too. "So… what do we do now?"

Well.

"Do you like ice cream?" Dan asks.

Charlotte raises a judgemental eyebrow.

Dan takes that as a yes and walks into the kitchen. He pulls out his phone as soon as he's out of her line of sight and texts Lucifer, on the off chance he has his phone.

[sparkling heart emoji, eggplant emoji] (10:53 PM): Don't freak out but your mom is in my apartment

That taken care of, he pulls open the freezer and squints at the ice cream options—ultimately, he banks on familial resemblance and grabs the strawberry cheesecake.

His phone starts ringing the moment he puts the carton down in front of Charlotte, who's sitting on the couch with her legs neatly crossed.

It's Lucifer, which answers that question.

"Uh, sorry," Dan says, fumbling to hide the screen from her. "It's, uh, work? I'll be right back."

Charlotte gives him a skeptical look, but she pries open the ice cream carton and waves him off.

Dan steps into the bedroom, picks up on the last ring, and asks, "What did I just say, man?"

"Are you alright?" Lucifer asks. "Is she threatening you? Did she find out about—"

"I'm fine. And no, I don't—I don't think so." Dan sighs, moving further away from the door and keeping his voice low. "I think she's just sad, Luce. I mean, it seemed like she didn't know where else to go."

The urgent edge drops from Lucifer's voice. "Oh. Is… she alright?"

Dan hesitates. "Uh—"

"What am I saying?" Lucifer brightens again. "She's Mum, of course she's alright."

"Okay," says Dan.

"Just be careful, love," Luce tells him. "She's been rather on edge lately. And do try not to sleep with her again."

"Oh my—" Dan scrubs a hand over his face and hisses, "I'm not."

Lucifer says, "Text me when she's gone and I'll pop over."

"Okay." Dan smiles, running his thumb over the edge of his phone. "Love you."

Luce answers, "Likewise," then hangs up.

Dan pockets his phone before coming back out into the living room. 

Charlotte looks up from prying a cheesecake bite out of the ice cream with a spoon. "Can I ask you something?" 

He gestures at her to go ahead, sitting down on the opposite end of the couch.

"Why won't you have sex with me anymore?" she asks bluntly. "That's never happened to me before."

Dan laughs reflexively, but she just keeps staring at him, waiting for an answer. He grabs a spoon and digs into the ice cream, stalling.

"I mean, what Ella told you at the station was true," he finally says. "I'm seeing someone who I love—who it'd really hurt if I slept with you. And I never want to do that."

Charlotte frowns at him. "That's strange."

"What?" Dan asks.

"That you don't want to hurt her," Charlotte answers, tapping her spoon against the carton, and Dan doesn't correct her assumption. "I've just—well, I suppose I don't want to hurt my children. But my husband… I've grown so used to being angry at him. I can't remember what it's like to love someone without it."

Dan watches her face, the careful way her eyes stay fixed on the coffee table. He tells her, "That's… really sad."

"Is it?" Charlotte laughs quietly. "It was better than missing the bastard. Am I really so weak that part of me still wants him?"

Dan shakes his head. He takes another bite of ice cream—just a small one, so they don’t go through the carton; Luce might want some later.

"I think that makes you, uh… human," he tells her. "I mean, I still—I really miss my ex, too. Even though it was the right thing to split up."

Charlotte says, "But you've found someone else. And she… is kind to you?"

"Yeah." Dan smiles without even meaning to. "Really kind, actually. And we get each other, you know? And I mean sure, sometimes—we, uh, I get pissed off, but even then, I know he—"

Dan cuts off when he realizes the pronoun slipped out. He's not sure how she'll react to that, where she stands with—

"Oh," she says. Her voice is careful, thoughtful. "One of my sons is also… well, what do you call it?"

Dan has to clear his throat before he can speak. "Uh, bisexual. In my case, anyway. There's other words, but…"

"Well." Charlotte scoops another piece of cheesecake onto her spoon, but doesn't eat it yet. "At first I didn't understand why he bothered having intercourse with humans at all, but clearly my position has… evolved, since then. I don't see why it should matter which ones you do it with."

"Uh," says Dan. "Thanks?"

She scrapes her teeth along the metal spoon. "But this man. You seem genuinely connected to him. You don't feel… lonely?"

"Not really. I guess everyone does sometimes." Dan drags his spoon across a swirl of strawberry jelly. "But he reminds me a lot—you know, that he loves me. And I can miss him but still know he's coming home."

"I don't know how to have that," Charlotte says, as desperate as she's ever sounded. "My sons have their own lives here, and my husband—I don't think I've had that faith in him for eons."

Dan purses his lips. He's been avoiding eye contact, but he turns to her now. "I took a long time to figure out who I was—and, I don't know, I guess I'm still doing it. But I try to be that guy, around him. And he loves me more for it."

"But what if my husband doesn't?" she asks, and—

Dan doesn't know what to say. He knows what he'd tell a human. Find someone who does. But can he give that to her, ask her to search for that? She's the creator of the fucking universe— way beyond even Luce and Amenadiel's half-step removed from humanity. 

But she has long nails that used to draw blood against his chest and a warm mouth that bit into his, and if her eyes can wrinkle up with little crow's feet when she searches his face silently begging for an answer, maybe she isn't any different either.

"I think you keep looking," he says, the words coming up rough and slow. "And just, you know—try to be the kind of person you're proud of."

Charlotte quirks her lips sadly. She looks at his hand, the spoon held lightly between his fingers, and says, "Too bad it's not with you. I don't think I have very much time left here, to start again."

Maybe he won't have to send you back, Dan thinks, without meaning to—surprises himself by actually wanting it. Maybe things can change.

But he clears his throat and tells her, "I mean, I, uh, don't know where you're going, but—I hope it's better for you, there."

"Some would even call it Heaven," she answers lightly, and Dan has to pretend to not get the joke. His lips twitch anyway, and she rests her spoon against the coffee table when she stands up. "I've taken enough of your time. Thank you, Daniel."

Dan thinks about the other universe—the one where they're fucking in his bedroom right now, hands over each other's mouths so Trixie won't hear. He thinks he should want it less than he does, or more. Something besides the melancholy feeling in his chest and the heavy weight of knowing everything she's done.

He doesn't ask her to stay.

 

~*~

 

Linda Martin (7:35 PM): Your boyfriend is parent trapping God and the Divine Goddess. You owe me exactly 3.5 tequila shots.

Dan Espinoza (11:19 PM): You owe me four.

Linda Martin (11:22 PM): Let's start early.

 

~*~

 

Dan's in bed by the time Luce gets home, but he's only half-asleep, and he rolls towards the sound of clothes being shucked and neatly folded on the dresser.

"Mm," says Dan.

Luce crawls under the covers and nuzzles against him. "Are you alright, love?"

"Yeah," Dan mumbles. He bumps their foreheads together clumsily. "You?"

"Better now," Luce says, tilting Dan's chin up to fix the angle when they kiss. He trails a hand down from Dan's ribs to his thigh, questioning.

Dan hums in the negative, touching lightly at his wrist. "'M exhausted. Sorry, babe."

"Oh. Very well." Luce brings his hand back up to Dan's cheek and presses a lingering kiss to his forehead. "Shall I just hold you, then?"

"Yeah," Dan says, rolling over so Lucifer can spoon him. "Please."

Luce kisses behind his ear and rucks up Dan's shirt when he wraps an arm around him, warm skin brushing against Dan's stomach. 

Dan smiles and wriggles back against Luce's chest as he drifts back off. "Hey, Luce? Love you."

Luce holds him tighter, nose brushing against Dan's ear, and whispers, "Likewise, darling."

 

~*~

 

Dan is sprawled on Linda's floor, propped up against the giant-ass sectional he used to be sitting on, and halfway through saying, "And then she goes—" when the front door opens.

Linda sits up a little straighter. Dan does too, in theory, but they went through the tequila pretty fast and it's just Chloe, anyway.

Wait, Chloe?

She stumbles into the room, her hair down and a total mess, and points at Dan accusingly. "Did you know?"

Dan lifts his head up from the couch cushion. "What? Are you okay?"

"I know, I know," Chloe says, shrugging exaggeratedly and rolling her eyes like they're all sharing a fun joke. "I was supposed to bring the wine but I drank it all. So did you know?"

Dan looks to Linda uneasily, who grimaces and shakes her head in confusion. If he'd known there was, like, some kind of crisis brewing he would've paced himself on the booze.

"Chlo, know what?" he asks, blinking to try and clear his head.

Chloe bends down to brace her hands on his shoulders. She switches to an atrocious British accent and parrots, "That I'm 'a miracle, Detective.'"

"Oh," says Dan. "Shit."

Her face drops.

"You did know," she says, and turns to Linda. "You knew too?"

Linda is wearing her Therapist Face—the one she insists she doesn't have. Gently, she answers, "I did."

Chloe laughs borderline hysterically, throwing her hands up. "Of course. Of course! Was anyone gonna tell me? Did anyone think, maybe, I'd want to know that God made me to be someone's personal rehab program?"

"That is not how any of us see it," Linda assures her. She reaches over and caps the bottle of tequila. "Chloe, I am so sorry—"

"Free will this, free will that!" Chloe rants. "'I love you, Chloe, don't leave me!' And you all just let me put up with his bullshit."

Dan stands clumsily to his feet. "Chlo, I wanted to tell you, I just—"

She shoves him, hard, and he falls back onto the couch to get out of her way but she's still staring at him with her hands out, like she wanted to hit him again and he ruined that too.

"Like you wanted to tell me about Palmetto?" she asks.

He deserves that one. 

Linda says, "Lucifer wanted to tell you for a long time. His father put him in an impossible position."

"Hm," Chloe says, pursing her lips. "Funny how he still ended up holding all the cards."

"It broke his fucking heart," Dan snaps. "Why do you think he kept his distance for so long—insisted on just being friends?"

"Right," Chloe says sarcastically, "and was fucking my ex-husband for my own good too?"

Dan is suddenly really aware of his ribs. How close they are to his heart.

The edge drops out of Chloe's voice. She widens her eyes and says, "Oh, Dan. I didn't mean—"

"You did," Dan tells her. His throat is closing up, but— "It's okay. You're probably right, you know? You're right."

"No, no." She kneels in front of him and he's always hated her on her knees almost as much as she's hated being there, but she takes his hands when he slides to the floor to fix it, which is nice. "I'm sorry, I am. I just—I don't know what to do. What am I supposed to do?"

Linda scoots over and puts her hand on Chloe's shoulder. "It's horrible, feeling like you've been manipulated for so long—and I am so sorry that this happened to you. And if you don't want to be with Lucifer, I think we can all understand that."

Dan can, intellectually. The thought of it makes his lungs recoil.

"But whatever's happened, whatever God or anyone else has done," Linda continues, her voice warm and raspy and fucking unwavering. "You still have a choice now. No one can take that away."

"I wish I didn't know," Chloe says. "I wish it didn't hurt so much."

But that's the gift, Dan thinks, even as he pulls her into a hug and feels her hair through his fingers and her tears against his neck. That's what it was all for.

 

~*~

 

Chloe doesn't throw Lucifer off any cases, at the end of it. She watches him a little differently, maybe—or it's just how Dan is looking at her.

Two days later, Luce shows up at Dan's apartment with a black eye and a nose that looks like it's slowly resetting itself and announces, "You will not believe what Father has done now!"

Dan shoves the quesadilla filling he was sauteeing off the burner and goes to him, brushing his fingers gently over the split lip. "Jesus, are you okay? What happened?"

"Oh, this?" Lucifer gestures at his face and then uses the hand to pull Dan's wrist away. "It's nothing, love, just a bout of fisticuffs with Maze. But Father is back to his old manipulations, and Amenadiel is going to be insufferable now."

Dan squints at him. "What?"

"He's the favorite son, you see." Luce laughs humorlessly. "A book said it, so it must be true—the prick. And now he won't let me ignite the bloody sword—"

"Woah, woah, woah, slow down," Dan says. He steers Lucifer to sit on the couch and then ducks into the bathroom for the First Aid kit. "Your dad said Amenadiel was the 'favorite son?' That's fucked up."

Lucifer clucks his tongue. "Well, it's not like He meant it. It's obviously just another ploy to manipulate us, you see—I mean, He used to say I was the—"

He cuts off, glancing up to look Dan in the eye when Dan swabs at a cut with an alcohol wipe.

"Well," Luce says primly, the grandstanding suddenly burning off. "He's said a lot of things he didn't mean."

Dan touches gently at the bruise under his eye, even though he knows it can't hurt. "You don't have to pretend it's okay."

"You know, at the hospital, I…" Lucifer huffs out a laugh again, his bottom lip trembling like he wants to smile. "When I thought God Johnson was really Father… I actually believed, for a moment, that He could love me again. That He was proud of me."

Dan's heart pangs. He sits down, pressed against Lucifer's side, still cupping his cheek. "Luce…"

"I hate it so much, Daniel," he says desperately, like it scrapes out of his throat. "I hate that I wanted it to be real."

"I know, Luce," Dan answers. He cups the back of Lucifer's head and pulls him in, lets him hide his face in his neck and breathe around the break in his nose. He shudders each time, collapsing into Dan's arms little by little until they're pressed into the warped couch cushions and Dan can fall with him instead of try to hold him up. "I know."

 

~*~

 

Luce stays the night and pretty deliberately ignores a bunch of what look like pissed off texts from family members, but he and Chloe get tapped for a body the next morning. 

Dan's assisting on this one—which is a pretty nasty case of blowtorched face—but Trixie's babysitter has a family emergency, so he has to sidetrack to go get her and beg Maze to watch her instead. 

Luckily, Maze isn't off bounty hunting. 

Unluckily, she scowls at Dan when she opens the door and says, "You."

Great, where the fuck is this coming from?

"Heyy, kiddo," Dan tells Trixie, "why don't you go watch TV?"

"Okay, Daddy!" she answers, skipping into the house after giving Maze a high five.

Maze pulls the door shut once Trixie is inside and prods Dan's chest. "Did you know about Lucifer's little plan?"

Oh, right. Of course it would be about Luce.

Dan scrubs a hand over his face. "Uh, yeah. For what it's worth, I'm sorry—and I told him that hiding it from you was a bad idea."

"It's worth nothing," Maze snaps. "Why didn't you tell me yourself? I mean, Amenadiel thought I knew, but you—"

"Jesus Christ," says Dan, feeling pretty pissed from all the deja vu. "Why does everyone blame me for this shit when Lucifer's the one keeping secrets?"

"Because Lucifer's a fucking idiot." Maze bares her teeth at him, getting right up in his face. "And you should know better, but you're just as bad as him. You don't get fucking brownie points for realizing you're being a shitty friend if you do it anyway. Actually, I think that makes you worse."

Dan's temper flares. He's fucking sick of getting treated like a punching bag—Chloe always said he was never really on her side, and now he's apparently on Lucifer's too much. "Is beating the shit out of him being a 'good friend?'"

Maze growls, "Wanna find out?" and then half her face melts off.

Dan knows it doesn't hurt. He wonders if she can see out of the bad eye.

Luce normally hides his face right away, after he shows it—like he's ashamed of it, or at least a little afraid of the reaction. Maze keeps hers the way it is, while she waits for him to run.

He doesn't. If she wanted to gut him, she'd have done it already.

Her voice is a little softer, the words slightly slurred against the rotting mouth. She asks, "You're… not afraid of me?"

"Dude, I'm fucking terrified of you." Dan laughs self-deprecatingly. "But that's got nothing to do with the demon thing—and everything to do with the fact that the first time we met, you knocked me out and left me naked in my ex-wife's bed."

Maze's face finally goes back to normal—except for how lost she seems; how the eyes still aren't all the way whole.

"That was a pretty good one," she says.

"Debatable," he answers.

Maze takes a half-step back, so it's less like she's literally about to bite his head off, and says, "But—everyone's afraid of me. That I'll hurt them or someone else, or that I'm gonna ruin everything."

Dan frowns. "I don't think about you that way."

"You never said anything," she tells him in disbelief. "Linda avoided me for a week. Chloe kept Trixie from me. And you just… never said anything."

"I thought you knew," Dan says. He gestures between them. "I mean, if we had a problem, I'd tell you."

"That's the thing." Maze glances off to the side, avoiding his face. "Everyone assumes they know how I'll act. 'Oh, Maze is gonna stab me.' 'Maze is gonna ruin the big secret.'"

Dan jokes weakly, "To be fair, you do kinda threaten people with knives a lot."

She doesn't laugh. She looks up at him and asks, "What else am I supposed to do? None of you care about me otherwise."

"What," Dan says. "That's not true."

"C'mon, Dan," she says, and she laughs, then, but not because it's funny. "Do you honestly think your little boyfriend would have even noticed he hurt my feelings if I didn't beat the shit out of him first?"

Dan hesitates too long. 

She scoffs, turning away from him and staring at the trees lining the walkway to the apartment. "He's different to you, and to Chloe. It's like he's changing, but he forgot to do it for me."

"... I'm sorry," Dan says eventually. It's all he can manage.

Maze scrubs at her face with bruised knuckles. 

Dan sucks in a breath. He wants to touch her shoulder, offer some kind of comfort, but he doesn't think she'd appreciate the gesture.

Instead, he forms the words slowly—makes sure he means them.

"Look, I love Lucifer." He hesitates when she snorts. "... But maybe I've had a blindspot, okay? You deserve better than how he treated you, and you've got a right to be pissed about that."

She side-eyes him. "And?"

"And maybe it's good to have some distance, you know?" Dan suggests gently. "He's not the King of Hell anymore—you don't have to put up with him."

"That's just it," Maze says suddenly, and, fuck, is she crying? Dan was trying so fucking hard to not make her cry. "He was never just my king. He was… he was my first friend—my only friend. The only one who ever asked me what I wanted and cared about the answer."

Dan thinks about tearing down pictures of Chloe in a bikini from the break room wall; thinks about her stubbornly correcting their old lieutenant every time he mispronounced Dan's last name. About sleepless nights and moving into a shoebox apartment and moving out of a beautiful house they could barely afford together.

"Sometimes you outgrow people," he says. "Doesn't mean you can't find each other later."

Maze nods slowly, blinking away the tears. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I should—"

"Oh, good, you're both here," Lucifer cuts in briskly. He claps a hand on Dan's back before addressing Maze. "I need you to find Amenadiel."

"Uh, babe," Dan says. "Maybe not the best time—"

"You're right, love, it's a terrible time. Mum is bleeding light."

Dan recoils. "What?"

Lucifer counts out the points on his fingers. "Mum's body can't contain her powers anymore, if we don't send her back to Heaven soon she'll literally explode and kill countless humans, and Amenadiel is off being a wanker somewhere with the final piece."

"Great," says Dan. "Happy Tuesday."

"So why should I care?" Maze asks.

"Don't be ridiculous, Maze," Lucifer answers. "I know there happen to be a few humans you care about."

Maze tilts her head, conceding the point. 

Lucifer begs, "Mazikeen, you're the very best bounty hunter. I need you."

She drags her teeth over her bottom lip, narrowing her eyes before conceding, "Fine. But you pay me my standard fee. No freebies."

Luce agrees, "Of course."

"Uh, did you knock me out again?" Dan asks. "Or did we just have that whole conversation—"

"Shut it, Dan," says Maze.

"O -kay."

Lucifer turns to him and says, "Right. Well, that leaves you, love."

Dan nods to Maze as she heads back into the apartment, presumably to gear up. "What do you need?"

"Your safety," Luce says. "Try not to get charbroiled, if you would."

Dan raises his eyebrows. "You don't think—I mean, she wouldn't actually hurt me, would she?"

"I don't know, Daniel." Luce throws his hands up. "She's literally coming undone."

"Okay, okay," Dan soothes, reaching up to take both Lucifer's hands in his own. "I'll be careful, okay? I'll find another sitter for Trixie and get back to Chloe. We'll stay busy on that case."

"Yes, okay." Lucifer presses their foreheads together. Dan closes his eyes, breathing in time with him. "Just—whatever you do, keep far away from Mum."

Dan squeezes his hand. "I promise."

 

~*~

 

"Charlotte Richards killed Chet," says Chloe.

Dan spits out his coffee. Lucifer's warnings of roasted human seem a lot more specific now. He says, "What? That's crazy. Why would she do that?"

"I don't know, Dan!" Chloe huffs. "But all the evidence points to her, and Lucifer is being really shady about it, like he's protecting her."

"I would… not say that," says Dan.

Chloe gets up from her desk, texting furiously, and tells him, "Well, doesn't matter, because I already traced her phone. Looks like she's heading for Santa Monica, let's go."

"Woah." Dan steps in front of her, holding his hands up. "Chlo, we can't just—just arrest the Divine Goddess."

"Sure we can," Chloe says, staring him down. "No one deserves to die like Chet did. She needs to be held accountable, Dan."

Dan argues, "But, listen, Luce said—"

"You're the one who told me that they're like us, right?" she asks. "That means no free pass on this, no matter what's going on. Now, are you gonna help me, or am I going in alone?"

 

~*~

 

So, Dan's breaking a promise. It's what Luce would want, though.

 

~*~

 

They find Charlotte at the merry-go-round, watching the bright lights flash while the cheery music that Dan's always thought was kinda creepy blares.

She's in a leather jacket, hair half pulled back. Something pained flickers over her face when she catches sight of Dan.

"Well, well, someone's clever," she says, talking to Chloe. "How did you get me?"

Dan clears his throat. "Wasn't hard. We tracked your phone."

Charlotte rolls her eyes. "No, I mean, how did you know I was the bad guy? Did Little Miss Dandy Lyon tell you?"

Chloe reaches for her gun. "It's over, Charlotte, put your hands up."

"Oh, don't worry, I'm not going to resist." Charlotte does as Chloe says, smirking. "I'll tell you everything you want to know—I just have one small request."

Dan warns, "Chloe—"

"No, no, it's okay." Chloe narrows her eyes at Charlotte. "What do you want?"

"Your phone," she answers. "Let me talk to Lucifer."

Chloe hesitates, glancing at Dan. He shrugs at her; if he was running the show, they'd be back at the precinct working on a nice, human murder and not all about to fucking die.

"You've got thirty seconds while I pat you down," Chloe decides, handing over the phone.

"Ooh, how generous." Charlotte puts the phone to her ear and waits while it rings, winking at Dan while Chloe's hands slide up her thighs. "Hello, son. Looking for little old me?"

Dan listens with his heart in his throat. This isn't the Charlotte that showed up at his door, grieving. Eating all the cheesecake bits out of the strawberry ice cream, grappling with the same humanity that he was.

She's looking at the strangers beside her, holding waffle cones and kicking at plastic horses, like they're a body count.

"That's enough," Chloe says. Exactly thirty seconds, good to her word. "Start talking."

Charlotte counters, "Just the two of us," and glances at Dan, and—

It's there, for a second. The part of her he wanted to stay.

"I'd rather not put Daniel in an awkward position," she says. She smiles, like it's a fun joke. "Hate to ruin all the good ones we've been in. Can we go outside?"

The hair raises on the back of Dan's neck. That's what Charlotte was threatening Luce with on the phone.

She needs a hostage. 

Chloe nods. "Fine, we can—"

"Take me," Dan blurts. He shifts between the two of them, his hand out near Chloe's hip. "You want me, not her."

"Oh!" Charlotte raises her eyebrows, Cheshire cat grin. "Oh, my. You know, don't you?"

Chloe pushes at him so that they're hip-to-hip again and grits out, "Dan, what're you talking about?"

Dan ignores her. He's looking at Charlotte, bluffing, "Yeah, Charlotte, I do. But Chloe doesn't, okay, and that means I'm the one who you need."

"Oh, Daniel—so selfless," Charlotte tuts, quirking her lip at him all bittersweet. "Maybe we wouldn't have worked out after all."

Chloe asks, "Dan, what's going on?"

"I'll still miss you, though. You are my favorite human." Charlotte cups his jaw and leaves a lipstick print on his cheek. Her nails dig in a little when she whispers, "Take care of my son, won't you?"

Dan grabs her wrist as she pulls away. It makes her eyes flash and his throat itch, and he rasps, "You don't have to do this."

"I know," she says, and then, louder, "Chloe comes with me or no one does, and I think we both know that's worse for, well—everything you care about."

Chloe touches the small of his back. "It's okay, Dan. I love you."

He lets Charlotte go.

The two of them head out to the pier, and Dan's trying to find a line of sight when Luce crashes into him.

"Are you hurt?" he asks, sliding a hand up Dan's arm. "Where's Mum? Where's Chloe?"

"Outside." Dan clears his throat. "I tried to stop her, Luce, I—"

"Nevermind that, there's no time." Luce kisses him fiercely, twice. When he pulls away, Dan realizes he's got the sword in his other hand. "Maze found the key. I've got no choice but to give it to her, I think. I love you—quite sure about that part."

"Luce, wait—"

He's gone. 

Dan scrubs a hand over his face, trying to think. The smart thing, probably, is to get the hell out of here. 

If things go south, Trixie needs one of them alive.

But then the screaming starts—panicked people running the opposite direction of where the three of them went, and maybe Trixie can live with Linda because Dan couldn't fucking look at her ever again if he let Chloe die.

He runs for the pier, realizes the other Ruiz brother had a gun trained on Charlotte, and then—

The gunman is dead, probably, judging from the amount of blood. Charlotte and Lucifer are gone.

Chloe is checking for a pulse anyway. She almost died because she didn't do that, the first time she and Lucifer met. Dan wonders how the scar is healing, inanely, before he catches movement down below on the beach.

"Chloe!" he shouts over the shrieking bystanders, vaulting over the railing. The landing sends a shockwave up his ankles, but he's already scrambling towards Lucifer. "Down here!"

Luce is pushed up on his hands, next to Charlotte who's—oh, God, is she dead? —but Dan touches Lucifer's face, the stubble under his fingertips.

"Are you okay?" Dan asks. "How did you—"

"She's gone," he answers distantly. He looks behind him and then back to Dan—in shock, maybe. "She's—"

Chloe drops to their sides. "Lucifer! What happened?"

"I… I don't know." Luce shakes his head. "Amenadiel must've gotten his powers back, and—"

"Wait, since when did Amenadiel lose his powers?" Dan asks.

Chloe raises an eyebrow, teasing. "Oh, no one told you?"

Dan waves her off, turning back to Luce. "But Charlotte…?"

"She's gone," Luce repeats. "I sent her to—to a new universe, I suppose. It was—it was the only way, wasn't it? I had to let her go."

"I don't understand," says Chloe.

"It's like you said, isn't it?" Lucifer tells her softly. "Going backwards isn't good for anybody."

Chloe's eyes are shining. She reaches for his cheek and Dan gets his hand out of the way, dropping it to the sand.

"No," she says. "No, it isn't," and then they're kissing.

Dan watches it happen, and it hurts his chest in a different way than he thought it would, because—

The sun is setting and lighting up Chloe's hair and Lucifer's hands are shaking when he tries to touch her, and Dan is grieving but not for the thing he was terrified of losing the most, and behind all of it—

Charlotte Richards is coming back to life.

"Guys," Dan hisses. Charlotte sits up, a hand pressed to the back of her head, and Dan smacks Lucifer's chest. "Guys."

"What's going on?" Charlotte asks. "Where… am I?"

Luce turns to her, wide-eyed. "Mum?"

"Mom?" she repeats. "My kids are… ten. Who are you? Who are all of you?"

"Right," Luce says faintly. "Charlotte."

Chloe clears her throat, but she leaves one hand on Lucifer's thigh when she pulls out her phone. "We better get her a medic."

"Yeah," Dan agrees, but he's watching the haunted look on Charlotte's face. She locks eyes with him and they flash with panic—wild and hunted and so viscerally unlike any expression he's ever seen her wearing.

Because it was never her. 

Dan reaches out and takes Luce's other hand—the one that isn't holding Chloe's. 

No going backwards, right?

 

~*~

 

"Do you think she's happier?" Dan asks, two weeks later.

Lucifer lifts his head from where he was kissing at Dan's knee. "Darling, you may find this hard to believe, but I'm not actually interested in discussing my mother while I make love to you."

"Sorry, babe." Dan scrubs a hand over his face. "Guess I'm not in the mood."

"Oh." Luce sits back on his heels, eyes fixed somewhere near Dan's ankle, and asks, "Did I do something?"

Dan leans over and grabs his hand. "What? No, I've just, I dunno—got a lot on my mind, I guess?"

He wouldn't say he's in mourning, exactly. It's not like Charlotte is dead— and anyway he should probably be glad she's gone, considering the tiny detail that she was literally willing to vaporize Chloe and torture Linda to get to Lucifer.

Not Dan, though. She wouldn't do it to him.

She wanted the same thing as the rest of them, in the end. It was just a little harder for her.

Luce lays them both back against the pillows, slips a hand into Dan's hair, and teases, "I know an excellent way to get your mind off things. And get something else off, of course."

Dan huffs out a laugh, but, "Not this time, babe. Sorry."

Luce frowns, tweaking at Dan's ear thoughtfully.

"I don't know if she's happier," he says. "And I don't think I'm ready to talk about it."

"Okay," Dan says. He touches at Lucifer's bottom lip. "Can we talk about actual-Charlotte, then?"

Luce raises an eyebrow. "What about her?"

"Exactly," says Dan.

Luce gives him that look that says, like, 'I have no idea what you're on about.'

"I mean, has anyone checked on her?" Dan points out. "Like, was she possessed or something, like—did she know what was happening? Or was it a God Johnson situation where she can't remember anything?"

Lucifer rolls onto his back, staring at the ceiling. "Haven't the slightest idea."

Dan's irritation rises. "Don't you think someone should find out?"

"Aha!" Luce sits up, snapping his fingers at Dan. "I did do something! You're angry about Charlotte Richards and that's why you won't have sex with me."

Dan blinks at him in disbelief. "What? No, Luce, I'm just tired. I spent like three hours with Linda at the hospital after work—where I chased a perp for, like, ten blocks, by the way—and I'm sad about your mom, I guess, but I'm not, like, mad at you."

"You can check on Charlotte Richards if you'd like," Luce says, like he wasn't even listening. "I'll ask Amenadiel how that business with that corrupt cop fellow—"

"Malcom Graham?" Dan asks, whiplashed.

"—yes, sure, that one—how that went down, for comparison's sake."

Dan stares at him. "Did you hear anything I said?"

"You're rather tired and you need some space," Luce summarizes with exactly fifty percent accuracy. He waves off Dan's hand and hops out of bed, reaching for his boxers. "It's alright, Daniel, I understand. I'll see if the detective is free—or else check in on Lux for a few days."

Dan starts, "That's not what I'm—"

But Lucifer seems pretty set on going. Maybe he's happy to have an excuse to spend more time with Chloe, anyway.

He turns the light off when he leaves the room, so Dan doesn't have to get up.

 

~*~

 

"I mean, am I going crazy?" Dan asks Tom from improv, who's stirring his coffee with the patience of a fucking saint while he listens to Dan chronicle exactly how often he and his boyfriend have sex. "Like, we're still fucking like two or three times a week!"

Tom raises his eyebrows. "How often were you guys doing it before?"

Dan says, "Like a couple times a day, I guess?" which is one of those sentences that feels super obnoxious as soon as it comes out of his mouth.

Tom just whistles.

"See, that's, like, the normal reaction, right?" Dan taps his fingers against his mug. "I dunno, I've tried to explain it, he's just—"

"Is he pressuring you?" Tom asks, leaning forward across the table.

"What?" Dan tries to push down how offended his is by the implication. "No. Not like that, I think he just—he's clearly got a higher sex drive than me, and I think he's freaking out that something's up, you know?"

Tom hums thoughtfully. "Well, I don't think you're crazy. You two've been together for how long now?"

It kinda freaks Dan out to calculate. He realizes, "It's coming up on seven months."

"See, you're just not honeymooning anymore." Tom smirks, taking a sip of his coffee. "Pretty sure us humans would die if we fucked like bunnies forever."

Yeah, but Luce wouldn't. Maybe that's the problem.

"Thanks, man," he says. "Chlo and me didn't really slow down until Trixie was born—but, you know, we were also avoiding all the glaring problems in our marriage, so."

"Mhm." Tom goes to say something else, but then he turns in his seat when the bell on the front door jingle. "Oh, speak of the Devil!"

Lucifer peers around the cafe before he catches Dan waving at him warily. He strides over with his 'celestial emergency' face on, which—

It was a nice three weeks. Dan's glad he didn't bump coffee dates with Tom back up to twice a month, just a case.

"Tom!" Luce says warmly, bending down to kiss him on both cheeks in greeting. "Lovely to see you as always. We really must do dinner again soon! Can I borrow my lover for a moment?"

Tom pats him on the shoulder. "Sure thing."

Dan shoots Tom a grateful look and lets Luce pull him off to the side. "What's up, babe?"

"Can you meet me at Lux after work?" Luce asks in a whisper, looking around the room. "There's a… situation with Father."

Dan raises his eyebrows. "I thought we were doing my place tonight?"

"Fairly certain you don't want me to show you there," he grits out.

"Uh, okay." Dan touches his arm. "Are you okay?"

Lucifer says, voice tight, "It's fixable," which isn't exactly the ideal answer.

But Dan just squeezes his bicep and says, "Okay, then we'll fix it. I'll text you when I'm on my way over."

Luce smiles with relief. "Lovely, thank you, darling."

Dan sends him off to rejoin Chloe at the station, then takes his seat across from Tom again.

"Everything okay?" Tom asks.

"Ehh," Dan answers. "It's been a rough couple months, honestly."

Tom leans back in his chair. "Beyond the sex thing?"

"Trouble with the parents," says Dan.

"Ugh, in-laws are the worst," Tom gripes. "Did you know—Sun's mom still introduces me to people as his 'roommate?'"

Dan picks up his coffee and gears up for the rant. "Man, tell me about it."

 

~*~

 

Dan makes his way up to the penthouse after work and finds Lucifer pacing in front of the couch, though he looks up when Dan steps out of the elevator.

"Good, you're here," he says, and goes back to scuffing the floors.

Dan walks over cautiously, on the opposite side of the coffee table from him. "Babe, what's up?"

"Right." Lucifer gestures at the couch. "You may want to sit down for this one."

Dan laughs in disbelief. "Dude, I don't know what you think could—Jesus fuck!"

Lucifer tilts his head in a clear, 'I told you so,' and his motherfucking wings flutter when he does.

They're beautiful.

Luce is so beautiful. Dan doesn't think it'd feel good to hear, right now.

"I thought you—" he makes a snipping motion with his fingers. "—you know?"

"I very much did." Luce shrugs and the wings retract in a shimmer of light. He laughs bitterly. "So you can imagine my surprise."

Dan takes a step closer, a hand outstretched. "Does Chloe know?"

"Er, yes." Lucifer grimaces. "There may have been a… premature unfurling while we were intimate."

Dan suppresses a snicker. "Happens to the best of us, babe."

Luce's lips twist before he turns away to fish something out of the nightstand in the bedroom, declaring, "Right. Well, thankfully it won't happen again, because you're going to cut them off."

Dan's stomach drops. He creeps towards the bedroom and asks, "I'm what?"

Lucifer re-emerges with one of Maze's curved daggers—an actual demon blade, casually dangling from between two of his fingers like it's a new sex toy.

"Obviously I asked Maze first, but she's off bounty hunting, and Doctor Linda already said no." He holds out the dagger. "So you're up to bat, darling. I'd do it myself, but the angle is quite tricky."

Dan doesn't take the blade. He backs up a step, staring at Luce in shock. "Why would I do that?"

"Because the reappearance of my wings is clearly my father's doing," Lucifer insists, gesturing broadly like he's agitated again. "He's punishing me for giving Mum her own universe, or—or demanding something in exchange for the detective—"

"You think He'd do that?" Dan asks incredulously.

"Of course He would!" The dagger slips from Lucifer's grasp when he throws his hands up, clattering against the floor. "Because the bloody bastard will never stop trying to control me! But I am not His 'Mr. Potato Head.' He can't just stick my wings back on like I didn't—I didn't—"

He doesn't finish the sentence. There are tears springing to his eyes—he blinks them away furiously, heaving out uneven breaths.

Dan reaches out to him—touches his chest, cups his jaw, soothing, "Hey, hey, it's okay. It's okay."

"It's not," Luce tells him tightly. His eyes keep flicking over Dan's face, like it hurts too much to settle in one place. "Daniel, I didn't cut them off because I didn't care for the aesthetic. I did it because—"

Dan thumbs at his bottom lip. "Why, Luce?"

"I couldn't be what He wanted," Luce says. His cheek is heavy against Dan's palm and his throat is quivering and it hurts, the way his stubble scrapes over the thin veins under Dan's skin. "I don't want to be. Why won't He let me go?"

Dan shakes his head, swallowing down tears. He wipes away the ones on Lucifer's cheeks, even though his knuckles are creaking.

Luce whispers, "Please."

Dan clears his throat. "Will it hurt?"

"Very much, I'm afraid."

Dan asks, "Why me?"

"Because you love me," Luce answers, voice tinged with confusion, like it's obvious and Dan should have known.

"Linda loves you," Dan says. "So does Chloe."

Lucifer covers Dan's hand with one of his own, pressing it against his cheek. He says, "Not like this."

Dan's not sure it's a compliment. He looks down at the knife—smells the gunpowder that put Malcom Graham in a coma, burned rubber from squealing tires on the van that took Warden Perry away.

He's always been a little brutal, to compensate for fucking how useless he felt for loving something too gently. He's been sick with it, covering it up like he used to swallow mouthwash to hide the smell of Saturday night booze before Sunday church.

But Lucifer loves him, even like that. Needs him like that.

"Move over that way," Dan tells him. "Or you'll get blood on the rug."

 

~*~

 

The wings are loud, when they finally sever and hit the polished marble.

Lucifer gasps, and breathes through his teeth, but he doesn't cry again.

 

~*~

 

"Well," Lucifer says primly. "That's finished."

Dan's hands are red. 

Lucifer is still kneeling. He kept the suit on, which seemed like a waste; it bunches up when he rolls his shoulders. "I suppose we should put these in the closet. They're terribly in the way here."

The last time Dan's hands were this red, he was half-heartedly putting pressure on the double-tap gunshot wounds he gave a serial rapist-turned-murderer who drew on him when he went to make the arrest.

There's a feather on his wrist.

Dan falls forward and wraps his arms around Lucifer's middle, pulling him in so they're maimed back to aching chest, hiding his face in Lucifer's neck. 

He's probably smearing blood all over the front of Lucifer's shirt, but at least he doesn't have to look at it.

"Daniel?" Luce turns around, gripping Dan by the biceps, asking worriedly, "Are you alright?"

Dan breathes in the smell of Lucifer's cologne. He looks up, clears his throat, and says, "Yeah, of course. Yeah, it's—there's just a lot of blood. Should probably wash up."

"... Okay," Luce says, taking his hands away, and Dan stands up and takes a step back and stumbles over the fucking wings, which are slippery against the shoes Dan never took over.

He laughs; there's no other sound to make.

Dan locks the bathroom door and turns on the sink to wash his hands, and pukes into the toilet instead. He left the seat down and he's pretty sure he's smearing blood all over that too, and he keeps thinking about how someone's gonna have to clean it.

Luce hates messes, which is why Dan hopes he can't hear the sound of him vomiting over the tap running.

It didn't feel like this to shoot Malcolm. It didn't feel like this to hear Chloe say she wished Perry hadn't been killed.

Dan scrubs the blood off the toilet, and the faucet, and the door handle. He gargles the mouthwash he finds in the medicine cabinet, but doesn't swallow.

His face is in the mirror, so he doesn't check that for bloodstains.

Lucifer is sitting on his bed, in a fresh suit and without the wings that used to be on the living room floor, which means Dan won't look in the direction of the closet. 

It's kind of funny—how he can hate himself for doing it just as much as he hates himself for being a such a fucking pussy about it.

"Well, that's done!" Luce says cheerfully, clapping his hands on his knees. "What shall we do with our evening, love?"

He's fronting, probably, or maybe just that fucking clueless. Dan doesn't have the energy to unpack it, either way.

He sits down next to Luce on the bed and rests his cheek on his shoulder and asks, "Can we just go to bed?"

"... Of course," Luce answers, and presses a kiss to the top of his head.

 

~*~

 

They fuck, Lucifer's mouth hot against the back of Dan's neck. 

Dan doesn't know what else to do with himself.

After, Luce curls up with his head in Dan's lap and purrs while Dan cards his fingers through his hair, the muscles of his back shifting restlessly as the tissue rapidly scars over.

There are things Dan doesn't understand.

The physics of angel wings, for example. How he could feel them under the suit and get a grip against the joint with the knife and not ruin the jacket, except with the blood seeping through.

The way Lucifer's breathing is so steady, like he's fucking over it already, and Dan's mouth is still watering like a bad hangover where his body wants him to puke and puke until all the poison's out even though he's the one who put it in there.

How Lucifer didn't want to be what his dad tried to make him, even if it was something beautiful—how he hated it enough that he'd turn Dan into his butcher.

Dan swore he'd love Luci exactly how he was, and he meant it. That doesn't mean he wanted it to be like this.

"Hey, Luce?" Dan asks quietly.

Luce hums sleepily, like he's already dozing off. "What is it, love?"

Dan scritches lightly at the short hair near his temple. "Do you remember that sniper case from last year? When you told the guy to shoot?"

"What of it?" Lucifer mumbles.

Dan's hand gentles, back to brushing fingers down the curve of his jaw. He asks, "Did you know Chloe was in the building, when you did that?"

Lucifer rolls onto his back, blinking up at Dan with something so raw and horrible in his eyes that Dan can barely breathe, and begs, "Please don't make me lie to you."

Dan turns out the light.

 

~*~

 

Dan (11:12 PM): I think I fucked up.

 

~*~

 

Maze calls him back before daybreak, while Lucifer is still sleeping. Dan scrambles out of bed to take the call, and the first thing she says when he picks up is—

"Cut the body into at least four pieces." There's the sound of a bag zipping on the other end. "And bring a shovel. I'll text you where to meet me."

Fucked up as it is, Dan's kinda touched.

"First of all, if I killed someone I definitely wouldn't text you about it," he answers, throwing on one of Lucifer's robes as he pads into the living room. "Second of all, thanks, bro."

Maze pauses. She unzips the bag again. "Oh—then what do you want?"

Dan takes a deep breath, looking back towards the bedroom—Luce didn't stir when Dan got up, and he's laying on his stomach. 

Dan looks away again. "Did you know Lucifer's wings were back?"

"Yeah," Maze answers warily.

Dan says, "They're gone again."

Maze never sounds soft, exactly—except when she's talking to Trixie. But if she did, that's what Dan would call it now.

"Forget the shovel," she tells him. "Bring a bottle."

 

~*~

 

Dan brings two. She meets him at the closest pier, which is mostly empty and facing away from the sunrise.

"That's where I did it," she says, pointing down at the beach. He's not sure if she means here, specifically, or in principle. "Took fucking forever. Should've used a bigger blade, but I didn't know to bring it with me."

Dan nods politely. The vodka felt appropriate, but it's burning up his throat where it's still raw from the stomach acid. It goes down easier by the second drink. "Was it… hard on you?"

Maze laughs bitterly. "Why do you think I told him I was out of town?"

"Oh," Dan says. "I'm sorry."

She glances at him sideways. "Me too. I didn't think you had the balls, or I would've stopped you."

"I guess I didn't." Dan gestures with the bottle in his hand, over the void of the ocean and the sand he instinctively reads as bloodsoaked, even though it all looks the same in the dark. "Or I'd be asleep with him at Lux instead of here, with you. No offense."

"Nah, you do. This part just means you love him, which—" she toasts him with her own bottle, taking a swig. "Tough gig, bro."

Dan drinks too, still watching the faint outline of the waves as they crash. "Not usually."

Maze narrows her eyes at him thoughtfully and tells him, "That's why you're good for him."

Dan huffs out a laugh and asks, "Aren't you supposed to still be pissed at him?"

"Of course I am." She sets the bottle down on the pier; it clunks heavily against the wood. "Selfish motherfucker. He's so focused on his fucking daddy issues—whatever it takes to stick it to 'dear old Dad' for the week. He doesn't care how much it hurts us."

(The marble had been scrubbed spotless while Dan was in the bathroom. 

Lucifer had kissed each of Dan's fingertips, even though Dan hadn't been able to scrape all the blood out from under his nails.)

Maze's hair is whipping in the wind. She says, "For most of my life, all I was supposed to do was protect him. And not only am I fucking tired of it, I'm not even good at it anymore."

She goes to pick the bottle again, but Dan touches her hand and tells her, "Don't drink any more. I wanna show you something when we sober up."

 

~*~

 

Dan looks over at her while they paddle out into the water, suddenly nervous. "Demons can swim, right?"

Maze scowls at him, sitting up straighter on her rented board. "I can swim."

"Sorry, sorry," Dan says, holding up his hands. "I just didn't think there were, like, swimming pools in Hell."

Maze grins, that creepy bloodlust look back in her eyes, and explains, "I tortured this lifeguard once. We chased him until he drowned. Over. And. Over."

Dan says, "Sorry I asked," even though he kind of isn't. "Anyway, I'm pretty sure you're gonna get the hang of this and end up better than me in, like, five minutes—but just humor me, okay?"

"Should've let me get drunk," Maze tells him, eyeing a wave that's breaking in the distance. "Evens the playing field."

Dan shakes his head, biting back a grin, and leads her further out into the water.

 

~*~

 

Charlotte Richards's personal secretary leaves Dan a message on his cell three days later, returning his previous request for a meeting and informing him that Miss Richards will be returning from medical leave on Monday.

It's a little concerning, since Dan is pretty sure Charlotte was cleared for physical injury at the scene.

They took her in for shock, though.

So Dan's got no idea what he's walking into, but it'll be a nice distraction from all the guilt he feels whenever Lucifer takes off his shirt.

Charlotte is in her office, frowning at her computer when Dan knocks on the glass door. She looks up, squints at his face, and says, "Come in!"

Dan walks inside, closing the door behind him. "Uh, Miss Richards? I don't know if you remember me…?"

"You'll have to forgive me," she answers, smiling graciously. Another foreign expression. "I meet so many people."

So she doesn't recognize him. Or—maybe she's playing dumb, to avoid him.

"Uh, I'm Detective Espinoza. Or, uh, you can call me Dan." He clears his throat awkwardly, leaning over to shake her hand. "I'm one of the people who found you on the beach."

"Oh, of course!" She folds her hands neatly in her lap. "What can I do for you?"

Dan says, "Uh, I'm just here to check on you, after the—the incident. Standard procedure."

"Is it?" she asks woodenly, which—

Christ, Dan, he thinks to himself. She's a fucking lawyer.

"Uh, I mean, we need to follow up about—" Dan takes a breath. "You gave a statement after the shooting at the pier, and a lot of times witnesses have some, uh, memory issues after events like that. So I'm here to see if there are any gaps. In your memory."

She rolls a half-inch back in her chair. "No. No memory issues, Detective."

"Right," he says, dragging his teeth over his bottom lip. "So you don't need to amend your statement about the car chase that you got mixed up in the week prior, either?"

"No," she says again, still smiling tightly. "I stand by everything I've said."

Dan's stomach drops. She really doesn't remember anything, and that means—

God, she must be in hell. She's got almost a year of missing time, doesn't she?

Dan needs to talk to Lucifer. They've got to do something.

"Uh, good to hear," he says. "Your assistant has my number if you think of anything."

"Sounds good," she answers, turning back to her computer and typing something in. It makes an angry noise at her almost immediately.

Dan goes to take his leave, but the computer beeps at her again when he's halfway through the door.

"Dammit," she mutters, her voice fraying at the edges.

Dan turns back around slowly and asks, "Is, uh, everything okay?"

"Oh, of course," she says, laughing in a super normal and relaxed way. "I think the damn IT department changed my password again. I swear I always keep it written down, but…"

Dan should know better. Like, for real. But it's so fucked up, looking at her—the slightly frizzy hair and subtle lipstick and long nails tapping anxiously against her desk—and having, well—

This displaced feeling. Like he wants to protect her, or protect himself from who she used to be.

Dan closes his eyes while he takes a breath and suggests, "Did you try 'password?'"

"Don't be ridiculous," she scoffs, but she starts typing anyway. "No one would be stupid enough to—"

The computer beeps cheerfully as it logs her in.

(They had a whole conversation about it, once—back before Dan knew and they were still fucking. He made fun of her for being so predictable and she left a bite mark on his ribs that didn't heal for weeks.)

The woman sitting across the room from him doesn't remember that, though. She gapes at him with blunt teeth and says, "You know something."

Shit.

"What?" Dan forces a laugh. "No, just, being a cop—you'd be surprised how often we hack into something that way. Lucky guess, I… guess."

"Please," she says, standing shakily from her chair and moving towards him. He takes a step back instinctively. "Whatever I did to you, I'm sorry. Please just tell me what it was."

Shit shit shit.

"Why do you think you did something to me?" Dan counters, stalling.

"Why else would you pretend not to know me?" she asks. "We didn't meet on that beach, did we?"

Dan takes another step towards the door. "Uh, I'm on duty—I should really go."

"Do you know Lucifer?" she blurts desperately. "Is that it?"

Dan freezes. Warily, he asks, "Where'd you get that name?"

Charlotte laughs, throwing a hand up. "Credit card statements. You will not believe how expensive the drinks are at Lux."

He really wouldn't. He drinks for free.

"So I went there, looking for—well, I don't know," she says, and the composure is melting away the longer she talks to him, which makes the pain in his chest spread up to his throat. "Anything. And I met Lucifer, who didn't even pretend not to know me, and—well, I thought maybe we'd had sex, which went over poorly—"

Wrong half of the couple, Dan thinks inanely. Also, Dan's gonna kill him for not sharing this major development.

"But everything he told me was so vague and—and please, Detective Espinoza. Dan." She shakes her head and laughs wetly, then purses her lips when they lock eyes. "I feel like I'm going crazy."

Dan swallows thickly and says, "If I told you what I knew, you'd just think I was crazy."

"So you do know him?" she asks.

He nods reluctantly.

Charlotte smiles shakily, which—definitely not the reaction he was expecting—and tells him, "Then I'll show you my crazy if you show me yours."

Dan hesitates. He wants to, it's just—

"It's kinda above my pay grade," he answers, which is putting it mildly. "But you should come by Lux tonight—the penthouse. We'll meet you there."

It's like the world drops off her shoulders. She laughs, putting a hand to her mouth to contain the sound. "Thank you. Thank you."

Don't thank me yet, Dan thinks. You might not like the truth.

 

~*~

 

"Absolutely not!" says Linda. "We cannot tell her."

"I agree," Chloe says. She narrows her eyes and peers around the corner, where Charlotte Richards is tapping a finger against the edge of a lounge chair.

Celestial Planning Meetings were a mistake. Dan should've just downed three tequila shots, dragged Luce in by the arm, and done it himself.

Dan sighs with irritation and snaps, "Why not?"

"They might have a point, Daniel," Amenadiel says. "It has, historically, been a lot for a human to take in."

"For some more than others," Lucifer points out smugly, wrapping an arm around Dan's shoulders.

"Classy," Chloe mutters.

Maze sits up from where she's sprawled on Lucifer's bed and says, "I bet she knows more than you think."

Linda asks, "Why do you say so?"

"Can't you two smell it?" Maze asks, looking between Luce and Amenadiel. She licks her lips. "That chick reeks of Hell. It's incredible."

"No," Amenadiel says warily. "You don't mean—"

"I'm afraid she's right, brother." Lucifer sighs, rubbing his thumb along Dan's bicep. "We had a rather… illuminating conversation the other day, and I'm fairly certain Miss Richards spent her missing time in Hell."

Linda puts a hand to her chest. "Oh, my God."

Chloe frowns and says, "So, that's tragic, I guess—but didn't she deserve it? She was a sleazy lawyer for a long time before your mom came around. I've been dealing with her for years."

"Well, er." Luce rubs the back of his neck with the hand not resting on Dan's arm. "I suppose technically speaking, but it's a little more complicated than that."

"How so?" Chloe asks. "I mean, you're the Devil, didn't you put her down there?"

Luce scowls and protests, "I most certainly did not!"

"Luci," Amenadiel warns.

Chloe asks, "Well if you didn't do it, then who—"

"Perhaps this is a conversation for another time, love," Lucifer cuts in.

Dan squints at him curiously.

"No, no," Chloe says, "now's a great time. It affects what we do about Charlotte, as far as I'm concerned."

Amenadiel scrubs a hand over his face. "Might as well say it, now."

"Right. Well." Lucifer sighs. "I've never told a human this, but—you put yourselves in Hell. I've nothing to do with it, really, save for a few exceptions."

"Exceptions?" Linda asks, raising her eyebrows. "Like what?"

"Am I going to Hell? Am I—because I'm—"

"Not for that. I'd never let it be for that."

Dan slips his hand onto Luce's hip and squeezes.

"The minutia aren't important," Luce says, waving her off. "What matters is that what you or I think of Charlotte Richards has very little to do with it. Whatever she experienced in Hell, it was born of her own guilt."

Dan feels sick. "No wonder she thinks she's crazy."

"So… that woman has been through literal Hell and she has no idea why?" Linda asks.

Lucifer says, "That's correct."

"That's all the more reason to not tell her!" Linda argues. "Lucifer, finding out the truth nearly broke me, and I was stable. Charlotte is a deeply traumatized woman. She's not ready for this kind of revelation."

Dan says, "Hold up, here. Yeah, it was earth-shattering or whatever, but all three of us reacted pretty differently. And if Charlotte is freaking out because of all the missing time, and 'cause she was in Hell—don't you think the truth might be comforting?"

"I agree with Dan," says Amenadiel. "She deserves to know the truth."

Maze gestures between him, Dan, and Lucifer. "I think you three have a soft spot because she looks like Mama."

"That is not true," Luce protests.

"And if it is, then Linda is just as biased!" Amenadiel points out. "Mom nearly killed her."

"I am well aware," Linda snaps.

Lucifer points at Maze. "And you spent millennia torturing her—how objective is that, Mazikeen?"

"So that settles it," Chloe says. "I'm the only neutral party. I'll make the decision."

"Really convenient, Chlo," Dan snipes.

Chloe crosses her arms. "The rest of you are acting like—"

"Excuse me?" asks Charlotte, who is standing directly behind them. "Are you all going to keep arguing about me in a really creepy way for much longer? Because I'm out of wine."

"Oh, for the love of!" Chloe sighs dramatically, throwing her hands up. "Just tell her."

Dan scrubs a hand over his face and leads the way to the couch.

 

~*~

 

"So, let me get all this straight," Charlotte says. She narrows her eyes and gestures to each other them in turn, starting with Dan. "You're dating Lucifer, and he's also dating Chloe, who is your ex-wife and lives with Maze, who used to date Amenadiel—who is Lucifer's brother—and now they're broken up but both friends with Linda, who is Lucifer's therapist?"

"Uh," says Dan. "Yeah."

Charlotte looks at Linda. "Isn't that a serious breach of ethics?"

"It's low on the list," Linda says. "But I'm pretty sure Maze murdered the chairman of the review board, so it's fine."

Maze crosses her legs and twirls a lock of hair around her finger. "He had a pulse when I left."

Charlotte laughs nervously.

"Right," Lucifer says cautiously. "Charlotte, dear, these are just the introductions. Perhaps you'd like to change your mind about hearing the rest?"

"No," Charlotte says. "No, I don't want to change my mind. Someone has to tell me what's going on. Please."

No one volunteers.

"Bloody hell, do I have to do everything myself?" Lucifer asks, sighing loudly. "Very well. All humans present, raise your hands."

"Lucifer," Chloe scolds, but she raises her hand anyway, as do Linda and Dan.

Charlotte stares at them, wide-eyed, and raises hers up halfway, very slowly—like she's looking for confirmation.

"You see, Charlotte, I'm the Devil." Lucifer gestures at himself and the others with their hands down. "That makes my brother an angel. And Mazikeen is a demon."

Charlotte says, "I don't understand."

"You can't remember the last year of your life because you didn't live it," Lucifer explains rapidly, like he's summarizing last night's soccer game. "When you thought you survived being stabbed by your junior associate, you didn't. You died, and I'm fairly certain your soul popped down to Hell—and our mother's soul took its place until recently, when I sent her to another universe to keep her from killing our father. When she vacated your body, your soul appears to have… jumped back in."

"Luci." Amenadiel shoves him sternly. "What in Father's name makes you think that's a good way to explain it?"

Lucifer huffs, dropping Chloe's hand where he's holding it on the couch, and wanders over to the bar. "I'm going for efficiency, brother—plenty of time for follow-up questions."

"Am I being punked?" Charlotte asks.

Luce gestures with the bottle of bourbon he's pouring from. "See! Like that one."

"Is this—is this a sting?" Charlotte stands up, pointing a shaking hand at Dan and Chloe. "Are you trying to drive me crazy so I'll roll over on the Hopewell case?"

Dan drops his head against the couch and looks at Luce. "She's not gonna believe us without proof."

"Well," Luce says, toasting to him sarcastically. "I can't offer any."

Linda suggests, "Don't be silly. Just show her your wings."

"I can't," he says again, surprisingly terse.

Dan sits up straighter and says, "The eyes, then? I mean, I get not wanting to do the whole face, but—"

"I can't!" Luce shouts. The glass shatters in his hand and he shakes it out, bloody shards dropping to the bar. "Because He took it from me!"

Dan tries to stand up, but Chloe grabs his arm and tugs him down, shaking her head. She asks, "Lucifer, what are you talking about?"

"My father took my Devil face away, Detective," Luce repeats. He tries to brace his hand on the counter and flinches back in pain. "Gah. It's some sick joke, isn't it? The manipulative bastard replaces what makes me who I am with—"

"Wings?" Charlotte yelps, at the exact moment the entire wall of booze shatters behind Lucifer when the wings unfurl, smashing into the shelves.

Lucifer's eyes widen. 

Then, he squeezes them shut and takes a deep breath, gritting out, "They're back, aren't they?"

Maze reaches over and punches Dan on the arm. "I thought you said you cut them off!"

"I did!" Dan insists, but he's looking at Luce. "You lost your Devil face?"

Linda smacks Dan from the other side. "You cut them off?"

Dan turns to her defensively. "I thought—"

"Luci," Amenadiel asks in disbelief, "you got your wings back?"

"This is why I've been saying we should get a bloody group chat," Luce says with an eerie calm, shrugging the wings away. He picks a piece of glass out of a cut, wincing, and then walks back over from behind the bar. "It's so difficult keeping track of who knows what."

"Guys," Chloe snaps, maybe not for the first time. They all fall silent, turning to her. "Look."

She's pointing at Charlotte, who's sitting cross-legged on the floor and crying silently, which seems like a really great sign.

Lucifer is the closest to her. He kneels beside her, reaching with the good hand, and touches gently at her ankle. "Charlotte, dear, are you alright?"

She looks up at him and huffs out a laugh, smiling with a quivering bottom lip. "I'm… I'm not crazy."

"Er, no." Luce looks over at the rest of them, like, 'what do I do now?' but Dan just shrugs. "No, you're not crazy, Charlotte."

"I mean, all of you are," she says, and laughs again. "But it's—I wasn't losing my mind, it really—"

The smile slides off her face. She looks up at Luce and asks, "That… means I was really in Hell, wasn't I?"

"Afraid so," he answers gently, and sits down on the floor beside her. "But you're not anymore, and that's quite good, isn't it?"

Charlotte shakes her head and draws her knees up to her chest. She looks over at all of them and says, "I can't go back there. Please, don't let me go back there."

"Unfortunately that part's up to you," Lucifer tells her, and suddenly Chloe is white-knuckling Dan's hand on the couch. "But—and, well, I don't know how much use the Devil can be for something like this. But I am here to help you figure it out. Dare I say, we all are?"

Charlotte squeezes her eyes shut, purses her lips, and nods.

"That's the spirit!" Luce says. He helps her rise gingerly to her feet, resting a light hand on her back. "Let's get you some wine, darling. Or perhaps something stronger?"

Chloe leans over towards Dan, whispering in his ear, "And he thinks he doesn't deserve wings."

Dan blinks at her. "He doesn't want them."

"Hm," Chloe says. Her thumb strokes over the edge of Dan's palm, but she's watching Lucifer guide Charlotte to the bar, helping her pick her way over the shattered glass. "Doesn't he?"

Dan quirks his lips thoughtfully.

Lucifer finds a mostly-intact bottle of bourbon, which he pours into two glasses with a flourish. He hands one of them to Charlotte and touches them together in a toast.

Then he smiles softly, watching her take the first sip, and says, "Welcome back, Charlotte Richards."

 

~*~

 

So, Charlotte joins the Humans Dealing with Divinity support group and also the ranks of the DA's office, much to Ella's dismay. Dan doesn't mind so much, even though he has to drag her out of dive bars a couple Tuesday afternoons, except his list of people he needs to buy Christmas presents for is getting kind of long, which—

"Is it weird to still celebrate Christmas?" he asks one dive bar-less Tuesday, sprawled naked in bed and definitely not avoiding cooking dinner. "You know, considering the… everything about my life."

"You can celebrate whatever you want as long as you don't force me into one of those horrid sweaters." Lucifer stretches luxuriously, his back arching off the bed. "But it's a bit cart before the horse, isn't it? We've still quite a few holidays to go—the detective's birthday, Halloween, my birthday—and do you celebrate Dia de los Muertos as well?"

"Oh," Dan says, surprised. "Yeah, actually. Thanks for thinking of it."

Luce hums.

Dan rolls over to face him, cupping his jaw. "So, the birthday thing… is that, like, your—like, is it mapped onto some kind of angelic calendar, or?"

Lucifer huffs out a laugh and says, "Oh, no. I just picked one out for myself after I burned my wings the first time."

Dan says, "Oh," again, but not the same way.

"In any case, perhaps I could be persuaded to wear the sweater," Lucifer continues blithely, "if we have one of those ridiculous parties humans are always throwing on TV. We've amassed quite the collection of friends for it, don't you think?"

Dan takes the out. He tweaks Lucifer's ear and teases, "You seriously wanna have a boring human Christmas party? I thought you hated boring."

"Well," Luce allows, shifting so he can boop their noses together. "I suppose 'boring' isn't quite as boring when it's with you."

"Aww, babe," says Dan. "That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me."

Lucifer leans back slightly, legitimately concerned. "Surely it isn't?"

"Oh my God." Dan kisses him, smiling against his mouth. "You're such a dweeb."

"Mm," Luce agrees. 

They kiss for a few minutes before Lucifer rolls onto his back when his phone chimes—text from Chloe, probably. Dan snags his own phone and then tucks himself under Lucifer's arm while he scrolls through Reddit.

"You wanna eat soon?" he offers noncommittally, kind of hoping that if they put it off for long enough, he'll get out of cooking and they can just order a pizza or something.

"Later." Luce shifts to press a kiss to the top of Dan's head, then leaves his chin propped up there. "This is nice."

Dan tugs the comforter up and snuggles in.

After a few minutes, Luce says, "Ha!" and holds out his phone for Dan to see.

It's this adorable video of a red panda losing its shit over a rock, except someone's edited a little face and arms onto the rock.

Dan snorts and tells him, "You should send that to Chloe. She'll love it."

"Mm, excellent idea, love." 

Luce types something out on his phone and goes back to whatever he was doing.

Shortly after, Dan's phone buzzes with a text from Chloe—with a link to the same video that Dan just saw.

Chloe (6:47 PM): Lucifer sent me this and I thought of you :)

Dan's stomach flutters in a really embarrassing way. He shifts restlessly against Lucifer's chest, rolling to lay on his side and prop his cheek up on Lucifer's bicep while he types out a response.

Dan (6:49 PM): Haha, cute. Thanks :)

"Now that's an underexplored avenue," Lucifer says directly into Dan's ear—and it's times like this where Dan wishes the elbow he 'accidentally' jabs into Lucifer's stomach packed a little more punch. "You seem to be growing quite close to the detective again. Are you considering rekindling things to complete our little menage a trois?"

Dan quickly locks his phone, leaning back against Lucifer's chest so he can glare at him. "Isn't it a little weird that you still call her 'the detective?"

"It's endearing," Lucifer answers flippantly, and then promptly pins Dan to the mattress. "And I suppose lovers really do pick up one another's bad habits, because you're deflecting, darling."

Well, Dan was deflecting, but now it seems like a lot of work. He sighs and admits, "I dunno. Is it that obvious that I'm—"

Dan's phone goes off.

"Motherfucker," he says, but it's not the station—it's Chloe. He flashes the caller ID to Luce as he picks it up. "Hey, Chlo. What's up?"

"Hey. I'm really sorry to do this, but could you come watch Trixie?" she asks. "Maze is out and I need to help Ella with some kind of friend emergency."

Dan furrows his eyebrows, throwing it on speaker as he rolls out from under Lucifer and grabs for his underwear. "Yeah, Luce and me can do it. Is everything okay?"

Chloe says, "I think so, but she's being super vague and I just feel like I should check on her, you know?"

"Yeah," Dan agrees. He pantomimes at Luce, who's staring at him blankly, to tell him to start getting dressed. "Of course."

"I'd just have her over here, but it's a school night and you know Trixie never goes to bed when people are here." Chloe sighs. "Can you just stay with her at my place?"

Dan tells her, "We'll be over in a bit, okay?"

"Thanks, Dan. You're a lifesaver."

Lucifer looks up from doing the buttons on his shirt and whines, "Detective! Am I not also a 'lifesaver?'"

Chloe's eyeroll is audible through the phone. "Pretty sure your contribution is gonna be getting her hyped up on sugar and paying her twenty bucks to, I don't know, steal the class hamster. So, no."

"I would never do that!" Lucifer protests. "It's not nearly as funny the second time."

"Whatever," she says. "See you soon, love you."

Dan says, "You, too," at the same Lucifer answers, "Likewise."

She hangs up. They stare at each other from opposite sides of the bed, both half-dressed and hovering over the phone.

"Don't say it," says Dan.

Lucifer levels him with a shit-eating grin instead.

 

~*~

 

They make it over to Chloe's and camp out in the living room with a pizza from the local delivery place while Trixie finishes up her homework. 

("Rather convenient for you," Luce teases in a murmur. Dan pops the banana pepper into his mouth.)

Dan gets conned into letting Trix have an hour of TV before bed, mostly thanks to the fact that Lucifer literally always takes Trixie's side in a vote and apparently they live in a tiny democracy, as opposed to, like, Dan getting to be a normal parent. 

At least Lucifer makes the popcorn. 

"If Chloe gets back before she's asleep," Dan tells him, "I'm totally blaming you."

"Duly noted," says Luce.

The pillow fort that comes after is probably Dan's fault—but it got brought up when Trixie was telling a story from school and Dan realized that Luce never got to make one as a kid, which is honestly just kind of depressing and unfair.

(Dan doesn't wanna be that parent who doesn't let his kid grow up, but sometimes he gets, like, sad in advance. That she'll get older and her heart will get broken and they won't be able to fix it with s'mores they toasted over the gas burner on the stove.)

But anyway, that's how Chloe finds them when she gets back later that night, her hair falling halfway out of its bun as she kicks off her shoes. She smiles and sighs exasperatedly when the three of them poke their heads out of the fort.

"How did I know this would happen?" she teases.

"Hey," Dan says, "is Ella okay?"

Chloe comes around the couch to sit near the fort entrance. "Hm, mostly. I guess some guy she really liked stood her up."

If Lucifer's eyes could still flash red, Dan's pretty sure they would. He's plenty intimidating anyway, growling, "What's his name?"

"Not a chance I'm telling you that," she says. "But I appreciate the enthusiasm."

Dan pats Lucifer on the hand.

"Thanks for everything, you guys." Chloe ruffles Trixie's hair. "Trixie, babe, let's get ready for bed. Daddy and Lucifer need to head home."

Trixie looks up at her with total puppy-dog eyes. "Do they have to go, Mommy? We were pretending to go camping! We even saved you a s'more."

Dan's stomach twists. He glances at Chloe guiltily, gearing up to let Trixie down easy, but Chloe beats him to it.

"Hm. I'm sorry, monkey, but I don't think the fort can fit all of us." She pauses, apparently for dramatic effect, because there's a smile sneaking onto her face. "I bet if we turn the couch around, we can make it big enough."

Dan laughs with surprise; she tilts her head at him, eyes flickering warmly.

Trixie gasps delightedly and asks, "Really?"

"Yes, really, but you still have to get up for school tomorrow!" Chloe tickles at her ribs. "Why don't you go get us some sleeping bags, you little adventurer!"

Trixie scrambles out of the fort and runs into her room to do like Chloe asks. She starts flinging stuffed animals onto the couch, too, apparently to build an army for their fake camping trip.

Dan doesn't have to miss this, yet.

Lucifer leans across Dan to give Chloe a kiss, trailing his fingers up her arm. "Welcome home, Detective."

"Mm." She kisses him again before pulling away. "You better not have been kidding about the s'mores. Ella tricked me into way too much wine."

Luce smiles softly and tells her, "I'll even make you a fresh one, if you wish."

"Ugh, that sounds amazing right now."

Lucifer tries to squeeze his way out of the pillow fort, but he manages to pull down one of the sheets draped over the couch cushions in the process.

"Bollocks," he mutters, flailing his arms until Dan takes pity and helps him untangle.

"Just go roast the marshmallows," Chloe says, pushing at him lightly. "Dan and I will fix it."

Luce nods, brushing a hand over Dan's wrist as he gets up to head into the kitchen. Trixie dumps the sleeping bags on the floor and runs over to help him, the little traitor.

"You know," Chloe teases Dan as they turn the couch around to make the back wall of the fort. "Your construction quality has really declined over the past few years. Wobbly cushions, no rear support—this would never pass inspection."

Dan huffs out a laugh and tells her, "That's because I didn't have my chief architect to help me design it."

She glances up at him as they spread the sheet out between them, her thin fingers tucking the fabric between the arm and back rests of the couch. Her eyes are so blue, and the way she's looking at him is like—

"Good thing I'm here now," she says.

Dan couldn't agree more.

 

~*~

 

"Mommy?" Trixie whispers, and Dan stirs slightly before he realizes that Lucifer is still asleep, sprawled halfway across his chest—but Luce just grumbles and nuzzles his face more resolutely against Dan's neck.

"What is it, baby?" Chloe whispers back.

They're all buried under a pile of stuffed animals that Dan's sure will be flung everywhere by morning, and they left the light on in the kitchen because no one wanted to get back up for it. Dan can see the halo of her hair and Trixie tucked against her far side, and the way her entire body is curling towards the places she and Lucifer are touching.

"Maybe we can go on our real camping trip this year," Trixie says. She sounds so small in the dark. "Since you and Daddy don't fight anymore."

Dan can pinpoint the moment Chloe's breath catches—in the way her fingers stop carding through Trixie's hair, and her voice shakes the next time she speaks.

"Maybe, monkey," she says. "We'll have to see."

Dan closes his eyes when she tries to meet his gaze.

 

~*~

 

It's fine. They can just—

It's fine.

 

~*~

 

It's probably good for Trixie, right? To see them getting along so well, he means. He did a lot of reading after the divorce and the Internet said that kids whose parents didn't have contentious divorces had better outcomes.

Dan doesn't remember what the outcomes were, but he's not a psychologist or whatever. Maybe he should ask Linda.

Anyway, he's trying to keep that in mind when he's singing Chloe happy birthday and hating himself for how badly he wants to brush her hair away from her face when she blows out the candles and she beams up at him through the wisps of smoke.

It's fine, and normal, and now the precinct is shaking while club music blasts through giant speakers that have materialized near the break room, so that's nice.

The stripper is pretty hot.

Dan goes to stand next to Lucifer and socks him on the shoulder. "I thought we agreed we'd keep the work party to, you know—not this."

"Much as I'd like to take credit for this," Luce says, gesturing with a delighted grin, "it isn't my doing, Daniel."

Dan snorts. "Right, who else would—"

"Get it, birthday girl!" Ella shouts from the top of the staircase. She rains singles down onto them from over the banister.

Dan tilts his head and says, "Actually, I probably could've seen that coming."

"Miss Lopez has excellent taste." Luce claps Dan on the back and gestures with his phone, which is ringing. "Pardon me."

Dan rolls his eyes and goes to rescue the cake from the cascade of money.

He's just finished storing it in the fridge for after Stripper Hour is over when Chloe pokes her head in and asks, "Hey, um, did Lucifer tell you where he's going, or?"

"Huh?" Dan pulls out his phone, but he doesn't have any messages. "He's not here?"

Chloe is frowning. "He left with Ella. He kinda made it seem like he wouldn't be back soon."

"He's probably just getting more money from the ATM or something," Dan says. He dials Lucifer's number to confirm, but—

Straight to voicemail.

"Uh." Dan hangs up without leaving a message and sends a text instead. "I'm sure he'll be back?"

[sparkling heart emoji, eggplant emoji] (10:12 AM): Dude what the hell?

"You know, it's fine," Chloe says. She brushes a strand of hair behind her ear. "I was mostly gonna do paperwork today, anyway. Other than the stripper, apparently."

Dan pockets his phone and squeezes her shoulder gently. "I'll help you."

She smiles faintly at him. "Thanks, Dan."

 

~*~

 

Lucifer still hasn't reappeared—or answered Dan's text—by the time they get off work. Dan's not so much worried as annoyed, but there's a little of that mixed in.

"Maybe he's with Linda?" Chloe suggests.

 

~*~

 

"He's not with me," says Linda.

Chloe sighs and flops down onto the couch, staring through the jar of candy on the coffee table like it'll give her answers.

Dan sits down next to her and touches her knee. "Chlo…"

"I know, I know," she says. "I should be used to it by now. I mean, he's probably at the penthouse on some kind of sex bender or something. I just—it's my birthday."

"No," Dan agrees, "he's being an asshole."

Linda asks, "So you haven't checked Lux?"

"You know, I would, but." Chloe huffs out a laugh, pressing at the spot over her eyebrows that always gets tense. "It's just—the last time he did something like this, it was right after I almost died, and the penthouse was all packed up and he showed up married, and I understand why he did that now, I do, but it still…"

Linda gives Dan a knowing look. He nods.

"Why don't we go together?" Linda offers warmly, reaching over to take Chloe's hands. "Just to see."

Chloe smiles shakily and nods.

They take Dan's car over to Lux and find the penthouse deserted.

"Well," Linda says, "there's no sheets over the furniture, so that's a good sign, right?"

Chloe is scanning the empty room. Her eyes land on a rolling suitcase at about the same time Dan's do, and she goes to open it.

"The overnight bag is missing," Dan points out. "I guess that means he left town—but, I mean, not for that long, right?"

Chloe kicks the suitcase over.

"This is stupid," she says, throwing her hands up as she marches back towards the elevator, grabbing each of them by a wrist. "It's my birthday. We should be celebrating!"

Linda stumbles as Chloe drags them into the elevator. "Yes, we should celebrate."

"Okay," Dan says. "Where're we going?"

"Well…" Linda answers slowly, looking between the two of them. "I do know a place with a great sound system and all the top shelf you can drink."

Chloe's eyes light up. "Best views in the city?"

They both lunge to stop the doors from closing at the same time. Dan shakes his head and follows them back into the penthouse, texting on his phone.

[sparkling heart emoji, eggplant emoji] (5:34 PM): We're gonna drink all the good booze without you. Come home soon.

 

~*~

 

Music is blasting from the speakers when the elevator doors open again about an hour later to reveal Amenadiel and Charlotte, who are carrying a pinata and giant bag of candy, respectively.

"We heard there was a party?" Charlotte calls out in a sing-song voice.

Dan stumbles to his feet, carefully holding up his glass to keep it from spilling on the couch, and shouts over the music, "Hey, guys! Glad you could make it."

"Where's the birthday girl?" Amenadiel asks, patting Dan on the back when he pulls him into a bro hug.

"Getting changed," Dan tells him. "She wants to do that thing from Risky Business."

Amenadiel furrows his eyebrows in confusion. "What 'risky business' is happening now?"

"Oh, my God," Linda calls from the couch, where she's still splayed out like a starfish. "We have to make you watch that movie. The view is nice."

Dan raises an amused eyebrow at her, but his phone buzzes before he can come up with a good response.

"Oh, shit," he says, and someone chooses that exact moment to lower the volume on the stereo as if on command. "He finally answered."

The three of them crowd around him to peek at his phone while he reads.

Luce (6:17 PM): [candy emoji, screaming emoji, nerd glasses emoji, slot machine emoji, handshake emoji, cop emoji, birthday cake emoji, shushing emoji, hourglass emoji]

"Well, that's just great," Amenadiel says sarcastically. "Why does my brother insist on being completely unintelligible?"

Linda sighs with frustration. "I keep telling him that he needs to—"

"Candy's in trouble so Lucifer and Ella went to Vegas to help her, but it's Chloe's birthday so he doesn't want us to tell her until he has more time to figure it out," says Dan.

The collective blank stare is pretty gratifying.

"How did you do that?" Linda asks.

Dan shrugs noncommittally. 

"Who's Candy?" asks Charlotte.

"Lucifer's ex-wife," Dan answers.

Another silence.

"Okay, whatever," Charlotte says eventually, waving him off. "But are we actually not going to tell Chloe?"

"What aren't we telling me?" Chloe asks.

Shit. 

Dan turns around and finds her swimming in one of Lucifer's white shirts, mysteriously-sourced sunglasses propped up on her head.

"Uh," says Dan.

"Guys," Chloe says more firmly. "What aren't we telling me?"

Dan nudges Linda with an elbow. She elbows him back, harder.

Ugh, fine. Dan braces himself and says, "Uh, Luce is in Vegas with Ella. I guess Candy is in trouble or something and they went out there to help her."

Chloe's face falls. "Oh."

"Chloe," Linda says gently. "I'm sure he wouldn't have gone if it weren't for a good reason."

"You weren't going to tell me?" Chloe asks, looking up at Dan with wide eyes.

Dan starts to say, "Of course I was gonna—" but he cuts off. 

Lying now would just be insult to injury.

"I'm sorry," Chloe says, putting a hand to her mouth as she turns away. "Just give me a minute."

They watch her walk into the bedroom, disappearing behind the wall. 

"... Do you still want us to set up the pinata?" Amenadiel asks.

Linda shoots Dan a look that's probably supposed to mean something specific, then steers Amenadiel and Charlotte towards the bar.

"Let's get you two a drink first," she says. "Over here. Out of earshot."

Oh, okay. Right.

Dan ditches his drink on the coffee table and catches up to Chloe, who's sitting on the edge of the bed and smudging mascara across the too-long sleeves of Lucifer's shirt when she wipes at her eyes.

"Hey," he says quietly. "I'm, uh—I'm sorry. I didn't know what to do, I mean, 'cause he asked—"

"No, it's—you know, it's fine," she tells him, dabbing at her face again. "I just have to accept it, you know? This is how Lucifer is. He's always gonna hide things from me and you're always gonna keep his secrets."

Dan swallows down the guilt, fixing his eyes on her bare knee. "It doesn't have to be that way. We can find—"

"It's my fault, anyway." Chloe nods her head resolutely, like she's trying to convince herself. "I pressured him to trust me for so long, Dan, and when he finally did, I—I let him down."

Dan takes her hand, trying to figure out what to say. Something honest, because it's what she deserves—something that won't hurt, because she deserves that too.

"How can I expect him to forgive me for that?" she asks, voice cracking.

"I don't think that's what this is," Dan tells her. He runs his thumb across her knuckles. "I think… he's trying to protect you."

"He shouldn't have to." Chloe's nails dig into the side of his palm. "He doesn't with you."

Dan squeezes her hand in return, even though it makes the pain sharper. He's thinking about bloody marble, and the taste of mouthwash.

He thinks, You say that like it's a good thing.

"I was made to love him, Dan," she says, finally with tears springing to her eyes, and he thinks one of her nails might be breaking the skin and he can't bring himself to tell her. "And you still do it better than me."

"I don't." His voice cracks, as he begs her to see it. "I don't, Chlo, it's just different. You're different."

Chloe says, "I don't want to be."

"But you're a miracle."

"I don't want to be!" she chokes out. He leans back, shocked, and she takes his face in her hands. "I just want him to see me. I wanna be something he can hold."

Dan shakes his head. He doesn't look down at his own skin. The sunglasses are tangled in her hair.

"You are," he says softly. Her nose is red like it always gets when she cries and her mascara is clumping and she keeps shaking her head at him like if she stops she'll have to believe him. "You are, to me."

Chloe purses her lips. She's still touching him and he wants to touch her back and he can't remember how.

He leans in anyway, because if he scrubs for long enough at anything he finds her underneath, and she tilts her chin up and presses her forehead to his because it's the same for her, maybe, with the way the tips of her fingers are skimming through his hair.

Dan can feel her breath against his lips. He whispers, "We can't."

"I know," she says. She brushes against his mouth, trembling, her eyes slipping closed. "I know."

He kisses her. Once, with his hands curled in the satin comforter and everything in his body held suspended in the ache of it, like it doesn't count. 

Again, with his hands in her hair and his thumbs brushing away the tears in the corner of her eyes and her teeth chipping against his when they both go to bite at the other's bottom lip at the same time because he knows her, he knows her, and if she was ever too big to hold then he should have tightened his grip.

She comes up for air and says, "Dan," and he thinks about their daughter, and camping at Malibu Creek and camping out in his car like a fucking coward when it got too hard to sleep.

"We can't," he tells her again. Because if he scrubs at himself for long enough, he's the same underneath. "Think about Trixie."

"I know," she says, but she's searching his face for something. Her fingers brush against his lips, like she can push the words back in. "We have to be sure. We can't get her caught in our mess."

Dan thinks he might be pulling Chloe's hair, the way he's tangled up in it. He lets go. "Things were finally getting back to normal for her. We'll just get her hopes up, if…"

"Yeah," Chloe agrees. She swallows thickly, touching at the shell of his ear. "It'd break her heart, if you left again."

Dan clears his throat, leaning his cheek against her palm. He looks her in the eye, feels the pain in his chest reflected there.

"I'm trying to be good for her," Dan says. "I'm trying really hard, Chlo. I just wanna deserve it."

"I know," she whispers, and God— or someone who cares, someone who can understand the terror under Dan's skin without him having to say it—

God, she kisses him again.

Just for a second—just long enough for his hands to start to shake. And then she smiles, a glint creeping into her eye, and asks, "Did I see a pinata out there?"

Dan laughs, chewing at his bottom lip because he misses the pull of her teeth. "What better way to take out a little anger, right?"

"Hm." Chloe stands up, taking his hand to help him up, too, and pulls him back into the living room. "Maybe I should've gotten into kickboxing after the divorce."

Dan barks out a laugh, tripping over the threshold.

"Too soon?" she teases.

"Nah," Dan says, grinning at the back of her head. "I took up improv."

She turns around to face him, walking backwards towards their friends gathered around the bar. "Really? Improv?"

Dan rescues his abandoned whiskey from the coffee table. "You know, if you think about it, that's kinda how I fell for our stupid boyfriend."

"No way!" Chloe says, laughing. "I need to hear this. Someone get the birthday girl a drink!"

Amenadiel bows dramatically and says, "Your wish is my command, my lady."

Charlotte looks up from where she's stuffing candy into the pinata. "Did you pick that up from somewhere, or do you just talk like that?"

"I don't understand the question," he deadpans.

Chloe giggles, takes the shot Amenadiel slides across the bar for her, and turns to raise it in Dan's direction.

'Thank you,' she mouths, right before she swallows it down.

Dan returns the toast, even though her eyes are squeezed shut from the liquor hitting her throat. 

If this is how he gets to keep her, well—

It's a pretty good deal.

 

~*~

 

Dan wakes up to lips pressing against his temple, a warm hand that he'd know anywhere sliding up his back. The body tucked against his chest is an older memory, no less familiar. 

Chloe's hair tickles his nose when she moves in her sleep.

It's can't be too far past midnight, because Dan's pretty sure he's still drunk. He turns his head towards Lucifer's touch and murmurs, "You're home."

"That I am, love," Luce whispers.

"Is Candy okay?" Dan asks.

The bed dips when Luce crawls into it, spooning up behind Dan and brushing his nose along the shell of his ear. "She is."

"Good." Dan wriggles back against Lucifer's chest, the arm he has wrapped around Chloe's waist shifting as he does. "We had a… party without you."

"I can see that." Luce chuckles warmly. "Sorry I missed it."

Dan hums.

"Daniel?" Luce asks, skimming a hand up his ribs. "Why is there candy all over our bed?"

"Pinata," Dan mutters.

"Ah." Luce sits up. There's the sound of lots of little things clattering to the floor, and then he lays back down with his chin resting on top of Dan's head.

Chloe yawns, apparently woken up by their conversation. She fumbles around, patting Dan on the arm, before finding Luce's instead.

"Lucifer?" she mumbles.

"Yes, darling?"

Chloe turns around in Dan's arms, blinking her eyes open slowly. She smiles when she sees him and boops him on the nose—which means she's probably still drunk too.

"Hi," she tells him, then lifts her chin to look at Luce instead. "I'm kinda mad at you."

"Understandable," Luce says, sounding more amused than anything.

"Hey. Hey, I need to—I've gotta tell you something, though," she whispers, and slaps a hand over Dan's ear in an attempt to keep him from hearing what she says next, apparently. "Dan and me decided not to have sex."

Dan whispers, "I can hear you."

"Shh," she answers. "No you can't."

Dan snickers, which makes Chloe snort-laugh, and pretty soon they're both giggling and shaking with it and lightly smacking at each other to get each other to shut up.

"Shh, Dan, you're gonna wake up Char—Charlotte and Am—Am…?"

"Amenadiel."

"You're gonna wake up Amenadiel!"

"No, you're gonna—"

"Right. Ah, I love you both very much," Luce says, and nudges them both towards the middle of the bed because Dan may or may not have just accidentally pushed him off. "But do you quite think we could go to sleep soon?"

Dan rolls over to face him; Chloe automatically wraps her arm around his waist in response.

"Are you sad because you didn't get any candy?" he asks.

"No, love," Lucifer answers patiently. His eyes are doing that wide-but-droopy thing that makes Dan's whole body hurt in the good way. "No, I'm not sad at all."

Dan falls asleep smiling.

 

~*~

 

Chloe pulls Dan aside the next morning while they're in party cleanup mode, which mostly consists of picking candy and pinata scraps off the floor while Lucifer rations mimosa consumption. She's wearing the bullet necklace that Luce gave her, because he's really weird and adorable.

("To commemorate the first time you penetrated me," he told her with a wink. "Delighted that it hasn't been the last.")

"Hey," she says, clearing her throat and speaking in a hushed tone. "I just wanna make sure we're on the same page, about, um, last night."

"Oh," Dan says. "Uh, right."

"Because we were drunk, you know, and emotions were running really high, and, um—" She winces, gesturing in a pushing-down motion with her hands. "We agreed it's better to stay just friends, right? I mean—not 'just' friends as in, saying it's less important or anything—you're really important to me, you know? Just— only friends."

Dan laughs nervously. "Yeah, right. Like, uh, no more making out."

"Right! Right," she agrees, pulling at her bottom lip with her fingers anxiously. "And no more cuddling, or—"

"Definitely not," he says.

"Because it's best for Trixie."

"I agree."

"Cool," she says, nodding rapidly. "Good talk, buddy."

She socks him on the shoulder—kinda hard.

"Yep," he says, rubbing at his arm. "Good talk."

They stare at each other for a prolonged moment.

"... Mimosa?" she offers.

"God," Dan answers. "Please."

 

~*~

 

"I dunno," Maze says, throwing back a shot. "Sounds like you two are gonna bang."

Dan groans, thunking his head on the bar top. "What part of that conversation makes you think that?"

"All of it," Amenadiel says, super helpfully. He sits up slightly when a woman approaches the bar and taps Charlotte on the shoulder. "What about her?"

"Hm." Charlotte nods appraisingly. "Yeah, you could pick her up."

Amenadiel grabs his drink and slides down the bar, smiling at the woman as he says hello. Dan's just close enough to be able to hear their conversation.

"Hi," Amenadiel says.

The woman raises her eyebrows, looking him up and down, and smiles back. "Hi, there."

See, Dan doesn't get why Luce is always making fun of Amenadiel for not having any game. He's doing—

Amenadiel leans in a little closer and tells the woman, "You have very nice ankles," and Dan pinches the bridge of his nose.

Maze snickers into her drink.

The woman makes a face before walking away without her drink, and Amenadiel squeezes back between Charlotte and Dan at the bar.

"You know, far be it for me to judge," Charlotte tells him, "but maybe don't broach the foot fetish as your pickup line?"

Amenadiel squints at her. "What's a foot fetish?"

"Man," Dan says, clapping him on the back, "we need to get you out more."

Charlotte sighs, swirling her martini around in her glass. 

"I can teach Amenadiel how to talk to women—or men." She nods at Dan in a really awkward and well-meaning way. "But someone needs to help me evaluate the psychological readiness of people for hearing the truth about God. The last man I tried to tell stopped taking my calls."

Dan coughs into his daiquiri. "Are you—being sarcastic?"

"Not hardly," she tells him. Her face falls slightly when he raises a skeptical eyebrow at her. "Look, you have Lucifer, so you don't understand how lonely it is. You're all wonderful—and very weird—friends, but how am I supposed to connect with someone when I have to hide so much of what I've been through?"

"Exactly," Amenadiel says. He gestures emphatically with his drink in one hand. "The dating pool is so small, Daniel. All I want to do is find someone who's smart, and funny, and compassionate. You know, like Linda."

"Soo," Dan says slowly. "You wanna date Linda?"

"No?" Amenadiel answers, raising his eyebrows like he's genuinely offended. "Why would you think that?"

Dan is literally drinking and he still needs a drink.

He looks at Maze, though, and makes a pointed 'surfing?' gesture with his hand by mimicking a wave—because he may be surrounded by celestial beings, but no one's upgraded his liver.

"Are you having a stroke?" Maze asks.

Dan gives up. He turns back to Amenadiel and Charlotte and asks, "What're you two doing tomorrow morning?"

 

~*~

 

Linda Martin (10:57 PM): Did you accidentally start a surfing club for celestial rejects?

Dan Espinoza (5:30 AM): It was intentional

Dan Espinoza (5:30 AM): Wanna join?

 

~*~

 

Charlotte wrinkles up her nose as she peels a piece of seaweed off her leg and asks, "Do you think if I die because the Devil's boyfriend drowned me, God will take pity on me and let me into Heaven?"

Dan laughs and tells her, "You can always go sit with Linda."

Speaking of their resident sandlocked friend, he twists around to check on her—she's still camped out on the beach with all their stuff, wearing big sunglasses and a bigger hat. He waves, but she's busy reading what Dan is pretty sure is a paranormal romance novel, and doesn't notice him.

Maze scoffs dismissively. "Are you still obsessing over the Heaven thing?"

"Of course I am!" Charlotte answers. She tosses the seaweed onto Maze's surfboard, which is kind of adorably petty. "Trying to be good is hard—and confusing. No one will give me a report card."

"That's because there's no endpoint," Amenadiel tells her. "You can't 'win' at being a good person, Charlotte."

Charlotte crosses her arms, wobbling on her board when she sits up, and sniffs. "I can win at anything."

"This is boring," Maze says and starts paddling into deeper water. "See you guys later."

Dan rolls his eyes fondly. Surfing lends itself well to being solitary, which Maze started capitalizing on even when it was still just her and Dan. He hopes it helps her.

"I'm being serious, though," Charlotte insists. "How am I supposed to know when it's enough? Do I have to live the rest of my life in fear? How does this not bother you?"

Dan shrugs. "I figure it'll work out."

"You've been very nice to me," Charlotte says, "but sometimes I wanna strangle you."

There's a tiny voice in Dan's head that sounds suspiciously like Lucifer and wants him to say, 'Promise?'

"I get that more than you think," he says instead.

Amenadiel swirls his hand around in the water, flicking his fingers to splash little droplets up into the air. He says, "This is where faith comes in, Charlotte. We're not supposed to have all the answers."

"So… you don't know, either?" she asks suspiciously.

"Well, it's different for me," Amenadiel says. "I'm an angel. I'll know when Father gives me my wings back."

Charlotte asks, "Well, what about until then? You said that you're mortal right now, right? So if Dan's stupid hobby—"

"You know you agreed to come out here, right?" Dan gripes.

"If Dan's stupid hobby gets us killed today, what happens to you?"

Amenadiel frowns, suddenly losing some of the conviction. "I'm… not sure. I don't know if I'd even go to Heaven."

Charlotte laughs softly. She smirks at him, her lips sad around the edges, and suggests, "I guess we're not so different, then."

Amenadiel looks up at her suddenly, his voice going contemplative. "You know, you may be right."

"Uh." Dan squints at him. "What's with your face right now?"

"It's nothing," he answers. "Let's get to the surfing lesson."

"O… Kay," says Dan. "Well, we need to paddle out a little farther to hit the good whitewater, so let's go."

Charlotte sighs dramatically. "Can we go back to drinking ourselves to death when we hangout?"

Dan raises an eyebrow at her. "I thought you wanted more time to get out of Hell."

She splashes him in the face.

 

~*~

 

The following week, Chloe finds Dan and Ella eating lunch together in the break room.

"Hey," she says, resting her hand on Dan's shoulder while they talk. "Trixie's at a sleepover tonight—you guys wanna get together? We haven't had a work friends hangout in a while."

"Dude, I'd love to!" Ella says, lighting up. "I miss you guys!"

Chloe squeezes Dan's shoulder. "Me too. How about my place? We can bust out the boardgames."

"Ooh, can we play Scrabble?" Ella asks. "It's my fave."

Chloe whines, "Ugh, but Lucifer always tries to cheat by playing words in other languages."

"Actually," Dan says, waggling his eyebrows at Ella, "that's not a bad idea. We could play in Spanish."

Ella laughs. "<Don't make fun of the White girl, Dan.>"

"<But she's funny when she's mad,>" Dan teases, grinning at Chloe as her cheeks turn pink.

"You guys suck," she says, but she's only fake-pouting. She used to get super uncomfortable when his family spoke Spanish around her—but then again, she was probably worried that they were talking shit about her.

"We love you too, Decker," Ella tells her, leaning across the table to lightly punch her on the arm.

Chloe rolls her eyes. "See you tonight."

 

~*~

 

Chloe asks, "I'm sorry, you said you've gotten how many dick pics?"

Ella sighs dramatically, leaning back against the couch between Dan's legs. They gave up on Scrabble after Lucifer tried to play a word in Icelandic and moved onto the drinking and gossiping part of the night instead.

"Too many," Ella complains. "Why does Tinder suck so much, you guys?"

"You should see what it's like on Grindr, dear," Luce tells her. "Or, rather, you shouldn't."

Ella sighs, tilting her head up to look at Dan. "You guys are so lucky you were friends before you all got together. Dating strangers sucks— trying to figure out who's an axe murderer and who's an asshole or not."

"Yeah," Chloe quips, "I knew Lucifer was an asshole when we started dating."

"I beg your pardon!" Lucifer says. "You do realize that I am literally giving you a foot massage as we speak, yes?"

"Mhm." Chloe moans and arches her back, pushing her foot firmly into his hand like she's emphasizing the point, then resettles against Dan's side. He shifts his arm so his elbow isn't prodding her back. "Almost makes up for the assault and battery charges I had to talk that suspect out of filing against you yesterday."

Dan rolls his eyes fondly, skimming his fingers up Chloe's arm.

"Hey," Ella asks, "does anyone want the last brownie?"

Dan locks eyes with Chloe, who immediately smirks at him.

Lucifer scrambles out of the way when they both lunge for it, yelping, "For Dad's sake, I can make more!"

Dan wraps an arm around Chloe's waist to try and hold her back, but she elbows him in the stomach and he has to duck under her arm to yank the pan away from her—but then she shoves him back against the couch and pins him under her thighs and—

Oh.

Chloe has one hand pressed against his chest at the base of his throat. The other is gripping the wrist of the hand he's got the brownie in, the edge of her thumbnail digging into a vein. She's panting, barely, and Dan's vision is going a little fuzzy.

He swallows. It pushes her hand against his airway.

Chloe plucks the brownie away from him and takes her hand off his throat to tear a chunk off. She's still bracketing him in, using all her weight to keep him down.

"Wanna share?" she teases with a tilt of her head.

Dan wets his bottom lip. "Uh. Sure."

Her eyes are dark, like they get. He's not embarrassed, exactly, but it might be a little weird—how easily he yields to her when she slips her fingers into his mouth to feed him a bite.

It tastes rich, and dark, and a little like her sweat.

"Wow," says Ella. "So, I'm gonna go home now."

Lucifer, from somewhere, says, "I'll walk you to the car, Miss Lopez."

"Bye, Ella." Chloe is watching Dan's mouth. "Thanks for coming."

Their footsteps get farther away.

Chloe reaches behind her to put the brownie down, then braces both hands on the back of the couch, on either side of Dan's face. 

Dan's trying to not stare at her tits, but he kind of is. 

"I was thinking," Chloe says, which Dan has not been. "About what we decided the other week."

"Yeah?" Dan manages. 

God, she's still right there. He could touch her. She probably wants him to, or she'd move. But he can't make himself; too much white noise in his brain.

"Just, you know, we're both already sleeping with Lucifer," she says, which—yeah. Yeah, that's true. "So it wouldn't really be that weird if we both slept with him. At once."

"Sure," Dan agrees. Her collarbones are pronounced at this angle. Fuck, he hasn't felt this off-balance since—something Luce did, probably.

Chloe rationalizes, "I mean, it's basically just removing a degree of separation."

"Right," Dan says. He lifts his hands slowly, and puts them on her hips. His thumb grazes a patch of bare skin where her shirt is rucked up and the world doesn't collapse around them.

"And it's not like Trixie knows anything about our sex lives," Chloe continues. She laughs nervously. "So, I mean, it won't even affect her, actually."

Dan nods, finally forcing his eyes up to look at her face. It's flushed, and her bottom lip is plumped up like she's been chewing on it.

"She probably won't even notice," he says. "It'll just be like normal."

"Exactly," says Chloe.

Dan clears his throat, searching her eyes for something to remind them both that this is a terrible idea. "So, should we go get him?"

Chloe drags her teeth over her lip and says, "I mean, he's in the same apartment."

Dan says, "Close enough," which is good, because her hands are already slipping under his shirt.

He slides a little further down the couch as she kisses him, shrugging out of his shirt, dragging his fingers over her spine. She's not wearing a bra, but his thumb twitches where the clasp would be on instinct.

Chloe laughs into his mouth and rolls her hips while her nails scratch against his chest, and, God, it's like they're teenagers making out on their parents' couch—dry humping through their clothes and using too much tongue, except Dan knows exactly how to massage her breast in one hand to make her melt a little further into his lap.

She kisses at his neck, using one hand to brace against his bare shoulder and the other to press between their bodies and cup his semi.

Dan gasps softly, arching his hips. She's still got her shirt on and he wants to take it off, wants to see her, but he likes the way the fabric presses back against his wrists when he tries to get the angle right to stroke a thumb over her nipple. 

Like he has to earn it.

"Ah. Right," says Lucifer. "Shall I make myself scarce, then?"

Dan turns his head, blinking at him. He's watching them with an expression that's—that's smug, or something, and a little fond, and his jacket is in his hand slung over one shoulder, like it's last call somewhere he doesn't own the place.

"What? No," Chloe says, shaking her head earnestly. "C'mere."

He does as she says, obviously, crawling over the side of the couch to do it—and she slides a hand into his hair and guides him to Dan's mouth, leaning back a little to give them space to kiss.

Dan pushes into it, sighing when Luce drags his teeth across his lip. He shudders at the touch of Chloe's fingers in his hair.

Luce cups Dan's jaw and murmurs, "You know, we could finally do that Eiffel tower, Detective."

He's apparently talking to Chloe, because she snorts and says, "Ugh, there's no way I'm getting in the middle of that thing."

Dan turns his head away from Luce—who grumbles before latching onto his neck instead—to look at her.

She raises an eyebrow at him.

Dan smirks, eyes flicking between the flush on her cheeks and the peaks of her nipples through her shirt, and asks, "Not in the middle, huh?"

 

~*~

 

"Okay," Chloe says, after she's high-fived Dan and replaced her hand on Lucifer's hip. "This is pretty cool."

Lucifer's lips are wrapped around Dan's dick, but he hums something that sounds suspiciously like 'I told you so.'

Chloe smacks him on the flank and scolds, "Don't talk with your mouth full."

Dan raises an eyebrow at her, which is better than his initial impulse—which was to stutter out a 'yes, ma'am,' even though she wasn't even talking to him.

"What," she says defensively, but she's biting her lip around a smile. "So maybe sleeping with the Devil's awakened a thing or two."

Yeah, Dan figured that out from the fucking strap-on, which definitely wasn't a thing they owned when they were married. Not that he would've been into it, at the time. 

Or, willing to admit it, maybe. It just feels a lot like—

He's not sure they had totally normal sex, whatever that means. She held him down and rode him more than anything else, and she blew him but never on her knees, unlike the way he'd crawl under the table after dinner at home and tuck his head under her skirt and suck on her clit through her panties until she dug the heel of her shoe into his thigh.

But there was this line, that Dan drew for himself in his head—that protected his ego, or his sexuality, maybe, or some vague sense of who he needed to be so he could look the good ole boys at the station in the eye.

He thought she hadn't want to cross it either, but she looks pretty damn comfortable with a dick between her legs, getting ready to fuck their boyfriend—so it's probably another lie he was telling himself.

Maybe if he hadn't been—

"Are you gonna get on with it?" Chloe taunts. "The lube's getting tacky."

Dan locks eyes with Luce, who's staring up at him with this earnestness that still catches Dan off-guard, sometimes. He's drooling a little, hollowing his cheeks.

The scars are still there.

Dan slips a hand into Luce's hair tentatively, giving it a little tug, and says, "I've never had to worry about hurting him before."

"Oh, you still don't," Chloe says nonchalantly. She pulls out enough to make room for a slow thrust back in, apparently tired of waiting for Dan, and drags her nails across the small of Luce's back. "He likes it."

It's probably meant to be comforting. And, like, Dan gets it, because he likes getting pushed around too.

It's just that he looks at the way his fingers are curled in Luce's hair and still sees them covered in blood, sometimes, and it's—

Luce moans around Dan's dick, eyes fluttering shut, and his forehead bumps against the edge of Dan's hip every time Chloe fucks into him, and it's—it's—

This isn't the same, is it? 

Dan doesn't trust himself to know—doesn't trust Luce to know, either, or at least to be honest with himself about it.

But Chloe is here, and her eyes are sparkling when Dan looks up at her, gaping, trying to ask the question, and her hair is falling in her face and half-concealing her breasts like she's one of those old paintings that they hang in museums, and Dan can understand faith when it's in her.

Dan squeezes his eyes shut and turns his hand into a fist, pulling Luce harder onto his dick every time Chloe fucks him forward, and Luce fucking sobs like he's grateful for it, and oh, oh, fuck, Dan gets it, he does—

And Chloe is panting with the effort and Dan's so far away from her, like he's watching her through a fogged-up window. Which might be because he isn't breathing right. 

And it's just—

No, this is ridiculous, right? They're spit roasting their boyfriend and Chloe's smirking at him, like he's doing a really good job. Like they're checking it off a to-do list.

She's not within touching distance, realistically. Unless they high-five again, but she's using one hand to yank Luce back against her by the hip and the other is playing with his balls. From the way Luce whines in the back of his throat, she might use her nails a little.

It's good. That's good. They can indulge Lucifer's stupid cliche porno fantasies and and just be, like, really normal about it while they have sex.

They're good at this.

Lucifer takes Dan down his throat again, breathing sloppily through his nose, and Dan chokes out a warning before he comes. Luce sucks him through it—not that he has much of a choice, the way he's trapped between them—until Dan slumps back and flops sideways onto the bed.

"Quitter," says Chloe.

Dan would glare at her, but that would involve lifting his head.

Luce braces himself on his forearms and massages his jaw with one hand. His spine is curved, shifting now that he has room to rock back against Chloe with every thrust.

"I'm not far behind, Detective." He laughs, breathlessly, on the next particularly hard snap of her hips. "You're quite good at that."

"I know," she says mildly.

Dan sits up again, putting himself within reach of Lucifer's mouth. He tilts Luce's chin up and kisses him gently—in direct counterpart to the way Chloe picks up her pace. 

Luce shudders and comes, pressing his face into the side of Dan's neck and clinging to him to keep from collapsing completely. Dan holds him up, skin slipping against sweaty skin, petting his hair the way he knows he likes during the come-down.

Chloe slides to her feet, padding over to the laundry hamper and grabbing a towel to wipe up the mess. Dan would help her, but Luce feels mostly liquid in his arms.

By the time she's got the harness off, though, Dan's mostly recovered from his orgasm and Luce is basically good as new. He presses a quick kiss to Dan's jaw and then stretches with a self-satisfied grin.

"Right," he asks Chloe, cracking his neck. "Did you want one from each of us, then, darling?"

"Hm," Chloe answers, flopping down against the pillows. "Okay."

Luce turns to Dan and raises an eyebrow in offering. Dan spreads his hands, like, 'Be my guest.'

He's taken up on it. Luce slinks across the bed and settles with his head between Chloe's legs, his thumbs massaging gentle circles into her thighs. Her eyes flutter shut at the first lap of his tongue.

Dan reclines on the pillow next to her, propping his cheek up in his hand while his eyes rove up to where her throat is bobbing with a gasp. It's a little weird, watching—but not in a bad way. Just—he's seen them makeout and get a little handsy on the couch or in the car, and maybe felt like they were showing off for him a little.

Like, Luce wanted to get him riled up and push him towards this, and maybe Chloe liked being a little possessive. And it's not like Dan wasn't into it, obviously—he may or may not have done the same thing. But now that they're actually here, it doesn't feel like anyone's performing.

That's not the weird part, though.

It's that Luce's back muscles flex when Chloe kicks at him with a heel and braces against his shoulder, and Chloe keeps stuttering out these little sounds, like, ah! ah! ah!, and neither of them is technically paying any attention to Dan at all, but it doesn't make him feel like they want him here less.

Chloe comes with one hand fisted in Lucifer's hair and the other scrambling to drag Dan's mouth to her breast—he sucks a nipple into his mouth obediently, flicking his tongue against the way her back arches off the bed.

She goes limp for two, maybe three seconds, and then pushes Dan down by the shoulders as soon as Lucifer sits up.

Dan huffs out a laugh, twisting awkwardly to climb over her knee and avoid elbowing Luce in the face as he gets out of Dan's way. She's still so fucking bossy.

He doesn't give her time to come down; she doesn't want it. Her clit is always hypersensitive right after the first orgasm, and he circles it slowly with a thumb at the same time he slips his tongue inside her.

She's wet with herself and Lucifer's spit and still shaking from how hard Luce made her come, and Dan can tuck two fingers easily inside her cunt and scissor them with his tongue in between until she sobs.

She'd tell him if it was too much. She wants to come more than she cares about his ego.

Dan wants it to feel better than she can fucking stand. Wants her to remember that he can make her feel something besides pissed at him for keeping secrets instead of her trust, or bland gratitude at how nice and dependable he's become.

Something to deserve the way she's been looking at him, lately.

"Dan," she gasps, clamping her thighs down around his head. "Fuck, Dan."

He slides a hand up her stomach, resting it against her ribs. She's practically fucking herself on his tongue, squeezing so hard his ears are ringing, writhing and pulling the sheets off the bed.

"He's marvelous at that, isn't he?" Luce purrs. He sounds like he's behind a sheet of water, but his hand is solid brushing through Dan's hair. "Why don't you tell him so, Detective?"

Dan's face is burning. He swaps his tongue with his fingers, crooking them upwards while he sucks her clit into his mouth.

"Wh-what?" Chloe asks. Dan flicks his tongue and she sobs again. "Oh, fuck, I'm—Dan, I'm coming, I'm—"

He doesn't stop until she pushes him away. She's panting, dragging both hands over her face and through her hair, and Dan's light-headed enough that it takes him a second, with Luce's help, to sit up.

"Excellent job, love," Luce murmurs, pressing a kiss to Dan's temple.

The light is too bright. Dan hides his face in Lucifer's neck.

"Jeez." Chloe yawns with contentment. "That's only gotten better."

Dan smiles, laughing softly, but he doesn't lift his head. "Yeah?"

She nudges him with her toes. "Get over here, you two."

"As you wish, love," Luce says. He nuzzles his nose in Dan's hair before urging him back up to lay with their heads on the pillows.

Dan makes sure Luce takes the middle spot. They have to lay on their sides to all fit in a row like this—or pile on top of one another like a bunch of cats. Not that Dan minds that much, but he thinks falling asleep might be a nightmare.

"I'll have to get us a new one of these," Lucifer tells Chloe. He drapes himself over her and tugs Dan's arm to wrap around his waist.

"A bed?" she mutters, sounding half-asleep even though it's like ten PM.

"A bed room," he corrects, sounding affronted. "We'd never fit something of the necessary specifications in here. The floorplan would be atrocious."

Chloe laughs with surprise. "What? Absolutely not! I'm not moving."

"Come now, Detective," Luce insists, and—fuck, he might… not be kidding around. "We could easily all move into Lux. Your offspring could have her own floor, even!"

Dan lifts his head to peek over Lucifer's shoulder and look Chloe in the eye. She glances down and away, like, 'I'm not taking this one.'

"Babe," Dan says gently. He rubs a thumb over Luce's hip soothingly. "We're not… Chlo and me, we're not together now. I mean, it's—this was just sex, you know?"

"Oh." Luce is unnervingly quiet. He shifts in Dan's arms so that his cheek is pressed against Chloe's shoulder and brightens his voice considerably. "Well, at the very least, we should do this at Lux next time."

Chloe kisses the top of his head, but she's looking up at Dan again. "Sure, babe. We can do that."

 

~*~

 

Next time, Dan fucks her so hard that she draws blood in Lucifer's mouth, where her teeth are sunk into his bottom lip to muffle how hard she's screaming for it.

Two days later, Dan pulls up to the curb and waves at her from the window when Trixie runs out to hop in the car. They don't speak, or hug each other hello.

They're really, really good at this.

 

~*~

 

Dan doesn't realize how little time he's been spending with Luce alone, recently, until they're making out on the couch after Trixie's gone to bed and Lucifer hums with his fingers slipping under the hem of Dan's shirt and says, "I've missed this."

"Me too," Dan realizes. He hadn't meant to, like—he doesn't know. But Chloe's away at girls' night and they've got Sunday laid out in front of them, and it's kind of nice, to have this moment.

Luce kisses the corner of his mouth.

"You wanna, like, put on a movie?" Dan murmurs, nudging their foreheads together. "Take it slow?"

Lucifer smiles against Dan's cheek on his way to nipping at his ear. "That sounds lovely. Can we—"

"Daddy?" Trixie says quietly. "I'm sorry."

Dan turns his head, frowning with worry. It's not like they were getting that heated or anything—nothing she should feel like she's interrupting.

"What's wrong, baby?" he asks, resting a hand on Lucifer's knee.

Trixie doesn't quite look at him, and she's avoiding looking at Luce entirely. She whispers, "I got sick."

Okay, so maybe cake for dinner wasn't a great idea—but she wasn't hungry for anything else.

"Oh, no—I'm sorry, kiddo." Dan gets up from the couch and crouches down in front of her, putting a hand to her forehead—she doesn't feel that warm, but it's hard to tell. "You don't have to apologize for that. Why don't you show me and we can clean it up?"

Trixie nods, taking his hand. She seems a little sluggish, either because she just woke up or she's coming down with something. 

Maybe she's mostly fine, right? Like, she ate a lot of cake earlier.

Luce trails behind them, wearing an expression that can only be classified as existential dread when Dan glances back at him.

Dan follows Trix into her bedroom and turns on the light, stepping further into the room. His heart pangs when he realizes what happened—she got sick in bed, including all over one of the first stuffed animals that Luce ever gave her, Brenda the unicorn.

(It was the same week that Dan told Lucifer that he loved him. The same week Luce said it back.

Dan really likes Brenda too.)

"Trix, did you say sorry because you were worried Lucifer would be upset about Brenda?" Dan asks her gently, brushing her hair away from her face.

She nods.

"Well, I'm sure Lucifer isn't mad," Dan tells her. He looks over pointedly, raising an eyebrow. "Is he?"

Luce says, "Of course not. People I like much less have done far worse to Lux," but Dan doesn't miss the way he's slowing edging back towards the living room.

Dan gets it—puke is gross. But it's part of the gig.

He pats Trixie on the head and says, "Why don't you go brush your teeth again, kiddo? I'll get new sheets for your bed."

And pray Brenda is machine-washable.

Trixie does like he asks while Dan re-makes the bed. He tosses everything in the laundry room to deal with later, ignoring the fact that Luce is hovering like a particularly anxious dog. Dan nearly trips over him when he tries to get into the bathroom to get the children's thermometer.

Trixie's temperature is 99.7—not technically a fever, but not great. 

Does she have the flu? A stomach bug? Shit, should Dan take her to the emergency room? He doesn't know what the threshold is for this shit. People don't die from the flu anymore, do they?

Dan settles for making her drink a big glass of water and digs around in the bathroom closet for Tylenol.

"Shit," he mutters.

"What's wrong?" Luce asks from the doorway. "Should I call Doctor Linda?"

"What?" Dan scrubs at his face. "You know Linda's not—nevermind. We're just out of Tylenol."

He crouches down to talk to Trixie again, who's still sipping dutifully at her water. "Are you achy, munchkin?"

"A little bit," she says, then widens her eyes. "But it's okay, Dad. You don't have to worry about me."

"Hmm." Dan reaches out and tweaks her nose. "I'm gonna anyway. How about you go with Luce and get back in bed, okay? I put a trashcan next to your nightstand if you feel like you need to get sick again."

She nods and follows Luce out of the bathroom. 

Dan tosses the empty bottle in the trash, pulls out his phone, and calls Chloe.

"Hey," she says, answering on the third ring. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, but I think Trix is coming down with something," he tells her. He tries to sound like a competent adult about it. "She threw up and her temperature's a little high. I'm gonna take her to the doc in the morning if it gets worse—just wanted to let you know."

Chloe makes a sympathetic noise. "Mm, okay, thanks. Do you want me to come over?"

"Nah, we've got it. Besides, no point in both of us catching whatever it is." Dan rubs the back of his neck. "Have fun tonight."

"Thanks," she says, "text you when I get home."

She used to say she loved him, before the fucking started. But he only says, "Bye," too. Wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea now.

Dan turns off the bathroom light and pokes his head into Trixie's room. They've got the big light off with the lamp on, and Luce is reading her a book.

Well, sort of.

"This one's quite boring, isn't it?" he's asking, shutting it decisively. He sets it back on the shelf and folds his hands in his lap, turning to her. "How would you like to hear a story about jellyfish?"

Dan smiles to himself and sneaks away to deal with the mess in the laundry room.

 

~*~

 

"Right," Luce says, clapping his hands together when he joins Dan in the bedroom. "That's done. Where were we?"

He crowds Dan in until the backs of his knees hit the bed and cups his jaw, dipping down for a searing kiss, which—

Dan leans away apologetically. "Sorry, babe, but I legit just scrubbed puke out of a stuffed unicorn? Plus, I don't want Trixie to, you know, walk in on anything if she needs us again."

"Oh." Lucifer's face falls, which is just—super unfair, honestly. It's not like Dan's having his dream night over here either. "What did I do?"

"Nothing," Dan says, trying and failing to keep the annoyance out of his voice. "Are you even listening to me?"

Luce says, "Well, if you aren't vexed with me, perhaps just a quick one in the shower, then?"

Dan doesn't dignify the blatant missing of the point with a response. He reaches over to turn the covers down on the bed so they can go to fucking bed.

"Could we at least sleep naked?" Luce ventures.

Dan stares at him. "Uh, no? What did I just say about Trixie?"

Lucifer purses his lips and starts, "I was just hoping—"

"I'm not gonna change my mind about having sex," Dan snaps. "And I know you didn't sign up for this parenting shit, but I need to be a dad right now and I don't have time to deal with your fucking weirdass intimacy issues, Lucifer. If you wanna sleep naked that badly, you can do it at Lux."

Luce shrinks away, his eyes going wide and so fucking hurt, and Dan will feel like fucking shit about that when Trixie isn't nudging open the bedroom door.

She tries to say something once, but she starts coughing halfway through the first word.

Shit, it's getting worse. 

"Sorry," she manages, bracing herself against the door frame.

"No, hey, kiddo, it's okay." Dan bends down to feel her forehead again—she looks ashen and a little woozy. "What's wrong?"

"My room is—" she coughs. "Really hot and I got—sick again."

So, Dan's pretty sure she's got the flu, which is fantastic. He tells her, "Okay, let's check your temperature again and—"

He pauses when he feels a weird whoosh of air.

"Daddy?" Trixie asks. "Where did Lucifer go?"

Mother fucker.

Dan closes his eyes. He can't fucking believe Luce would actually call his fucking bluff right now. Not that Dan wasn't asking for it, on some level—but Trixie is the one hurting, and she doesn't deserve to get walked out on.

"Uh, I dunno, monkey," he says, trying to swallow down the lump in his throat. "Maybe he's worried about getting sick. Let's just go get the thermometer, okay?"

Dan checks her temperature again and changes the trash bag in her room. He texts Chloe an update and then walks back into the bathroom with the intention of turning out the light and hunches over the sink instead for six fucking minutes instead, breathing in through his nose and trying to decide if he's pissed or guilty or just fucking sad.

He can't afford to be any of them. He reaches up and flips the light off.

The sheets are still in the wash and Trixie is trying to fall asleep again—he left the door open so he can check on her, and he can see her tossing and turning even with the fan on and windows cracked. 

There's not much else he can do for her short of a late-night urgent care visit, and that means dragging her out of bed for a car ride and God knows how long in a freezing waiting room. He doesn't know how to decide something like that. How Chloe did it all the time when he was too fucking useless as a parent to help her.

So Dan's tearing through his gym bag to see if he can find any Tylenol or Ibuprofen in there, coming this close to breaking down and begging Chloe to make the decision for him or at least go to the store and drop off some painkillers, when the front door swings open.

Luce slips into the apartment, six plastic grocery bags dangling from his arms. He nudges the door shut behind himself with one foot, wincing at the sound it makes.

Dan, fucking embarrassingly, is suddenly on the verge of tears.

"Lucifer!" Trixie calls from her room, then immediately starts coughing up a lung. "You're—back."

It really says something about how sick she's feeling that she doesn't get out of bed to hug him. But Luce drops all the bags to the ground—including one that makes a really suspicious metallic clinking sound—and goes to her instead.

"Naturally." Luce presses a tentative kiss to her forehead, then pats her on the hand. "My apologies for worrying you. Feel better soon, little urchin."

He stays with her for a few moments before he pads back into the main room, reaches for one of the bags, and then stops short when he catches Dan staring at him.

Dan swallows thickly, taking a half-step closer. "You went to CVS?"

"Yes," Lucifer answers, gazing at him with that wide-eyed expression back on his face.

Dan tells him, "You hate CVS."

"Yes," Luce says again.

Dan closes the distance between them, taking both of Luce's hands in his own, searching his face for—he doesn't know. The angry part, maybe. The part Dan deserves.

"Why?" he asks.

"I'm sorry," Luce says instead, which isn't— "Of course your off— Trixie should have come first. So I, well—I went to pick up medications, and the Internet said that ginger ale was good for nausea, and those bland little crackers that no one even likes in soup—and the beer is for you because I suspect I've driven you to drinking, and—"

"Luce," Dan chokes out. He laughs with disbelief, a little wetly, and cups Luce's face in his hands when he leans up to kiss him. His chest hurts, shooting up from where Lucifer brushes shaking fingers over his hips.

Dan pulls him into a hug, after, and says, "I'm the one who should be sorry. I mean, I shouldn't have said—any of it. But especially that you have intimacy issues, babe, I mean—"

"Oh, I most certainly do." Luce huffs out a laugh, kissing at the side of Dan's face. "But… perhaps we could actually discuss them?"

"Yeah, okay," Dan teases lightly. "Gimme five minutes?"

Lucifer nods, stepping out of the hug and grabbing the six pack of Bud Light out of the plastic bag—he carries it into the kitchen, where Dan hears the fridge open.

Dan digs through the rest of the bags, looking for something to give Trixie. It looks like Luce panicked and bought, like, one of everything, which is fucking adorable and honestly exactly what Dan would have done. 

Thankfully, one of everything includes Tylenol. He slips into Trixie's room and gently wakes her up so she can take it, then leaves the door open a crack on his way out after she resettles.

Luce is sitting on the couch, legs crossed and fingers tapping nervously on his knee.

Dan sighs, plopping down next to him close enough that their thighs touch. He rests his cheek on Luce's shoulder and smiles, despite the tension, when Luce props his cheek up on Dan's head in response.

"So," Dan says. "What's… uh, up?"

"Well, I've been discussing this with Doctor Linda for some time, actually," Luce says. "But I had it in my head that this would turn out to be a rather large row, so now I've got no idea what to say."

Dan jokes, "We could duke it out in the parking lot if it'll help."

Luce smiles against Dan's temple. "I appreciate the offer, darling, but I'll manage."

Dan takes his hand, running a thumb over his knuckles, and waits patiently.

"I suppose…" Luce says slowly, idly playing with Dan's fingers while he forms the words. "The crux of it is that when I first came to Earth, the only way I felt that I could connect to humanity was by… offering something."

Dan shifts slightly, bringing their joined hands up to his lips so he can kiss the back of Lucifer's.

"And that included my favors, of course," Luce continues. "But frequently it was…"

He trails off. Dan thinks it's good, probably, that they can't look at each other from this angle.

"Your body," he says softly, to the fingertips twitching against his lips.

"Yes." Luce huffs out a laugh, but it isn't a happy one. "Which was a wonderful deal, really, except that—"

He cuts off, and Dan waits, and waits.

Eventually, Dan squeezes his hand and reassures him, "It's okay, Luce."

"I'm not sure that I know how to stop," Luce says, voice cracking. "And so when you—"

"Luce—"

"When you say that you don't want me," he continues, pushing through the obvious ache behind it. "It feels like you don't want me."

Dan's ribs hurt. He wants to push on them, like he could find hairline fractures and grind the cracks together. He says, "It's not true. Luce, I love you."

"I know that," Lucifer answers softly, and he lifts his head and Dan forces himself to look, then, at the quiet tears welling in his eyes. "But I can't make it stop hurting, you see, and I keep pressing on it and thinking—well, you'll get tired of me, won't you? We used to be so caught up in one another and now…"

"No. No, I won't." Dan cups his cheek, locking eyes in earnest. "We're getting comfortable, not tired. It's—it's a good thing, Luce."

Lucifer shakes his head, pressing into Dan's touch. "I don't understand."

"It's part of being in love," Dan explains, smiling encouragingly. "We're just, like—you're my favorite place, you know? We settle in a little, we figure each other out. And, I mean, I'm still stupidly attracted to you, by the way, but it's just—there's a lot else there, too."

Luce still looks a little skeptical, so Dan continues, "Tom says he went through the same thing. I mean, all that sex, Luce it's not—I mean, when you're a human, anyway, it's not sustainable for most people. But this? What we have? It's not going anywhere."

"But it could," Luce protests. He gestures with their linked hands. "You could realize I'm not worth it, that without—"

"Ask me," Dan says suddenly. He brushes his thumb over Lucifer's cheek, leaning in a little closer. "Ask me what I desire."

Lucifer balks, shying away from Dan's hand. "Daniel, I don't think—"

"You'll believe me, won't you?" Dan asks. "When you see that it's you."

"I can't," Luce whispers, and for a second Dan thinks maybe he's lost it along with the face, but then he repeats, "I can't, Dan. What if it isn't me?"

Dan closes his eyes, taking in a deep breath. He opens them and says, "It's you, Luce."

Luce parts his lips, wavering slightly, and Dan feels something twisting out of his chest like it was lodged there, like it's been waiting to claw free, before Luce has even finished asking, "What is it you want, Daniel?"

Dan says, "Chloe," and it's like something ruptures in his lungs. 

It's so quiet.

"Well," Luce says, smiling joylessly. He drags his thumb down Dan's bottom lip. "Can't say that I blame you."

"Don't," Dan begs. His throat feels so raw and he wants to cry but it would come out wrong, if he did. "I know what you're thinking, Luce, and please— don't."

Lucifer looks up at the ceiling—lightning fast, laughing softly, before casting his gaze on the coffee table. "It's alright, love."

"You should know better than anyone that I can want you, too," Dan says desperately. He turns Lucifer's head back, fingers digging in a little. "Hey, look at me. You know that, right? Unless—unless there's something you're not telling me, that you don't—"

"No, love, I know." Luce closes his eyes, briefly, and opens them again. "Not to worry—it's as I promised. I'll love you as long as you'll have me."

Dan cups the back of his head and presses their foreheads together. They're shaking, collectively. Dan could blame it on Trixie's flu, but Luce couldn't, and it seems like Dan should have to be honest, too.

"It still proves my point," Dan says.

Luce tells him, "It's really alright, Daniel, you don't have to—"

"I mean, think about it—we're already fucking," Dan points out. He slides his hand down to Lucifer's bicep and squeezes gently. "Why would I still feel like I want her back, if that's the only part I cared about?"

"Yes," Luce argues, "but she's—"

"And what you give me, Luce? What we have?" Dan brushes against his lips. He smiles into it, feels the start of a smile back. "I couldn't be fucking happier."

"You've been spending too much time with Miss Richards," Luce murmurs, but he kisses Dan again. "You played both sides of that quite well."

Dan snorts, tugging at Lucifer's bottom lip with his teeth. "So how can I help you know I still want you, when I'm not in the mood?"

"I think it's largely something I have to work through myself," Luce answers. He boops their noses together before leaning away. "But… I think that telling me helps. And other forms of physical affection."

Oh. The thing from earlier makes more sense now. Dan raises an eyebrow and asks, "Like cuddling naked?"

"It helps me feel close to you," Luce mutters, averting his eyes.

See, moments like that—where he's a little shy, unsure of himself behind all the bravado. How could Dan ever fall out of love with that?

He stands up, stretching out his aching joints, and then kisses Lucifer's temple. "How about shirtless, for the night?"

Lucifer looks up. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah," Dan says. "We can still get right out of bed if Trixie needs something. C'mon, though—I'm exhausted."

"Can't imagine why," Lucifer teases, taking the hand Dan offers him up. "It's been such a lovely evening."

See, Dan knows he's kidding—but when they get to curl up together under the covers, Lucifer's face tucked against Dan's bare chest, and Dan can close his eyes and breathe in the smell of Luce's expensive-ass shampoo and know that this moment exists because of how fucking much Lucifer loves him—

It kind of has, he thinks. Thanks for coming home.

 

~*~

 

Amenadiel (3:34 PM): Hello everyone. I have a theory I would like to propose to the group.

Charlotte (3:36 PM): ???

Dan (3:37 PM): Dude you can just tell us, this isn't Congress

Chloe (3:40 PM): What's up, Amenadiel?

Amenadiel (3:45 PM): I've been thinking about something Charlotte said a while ago, and I think that I understand now why my powers are gone. I think that I took them away myself.

Linda (3:45 PM): ?? Please explain

Amenadiel (3:49 PM): Think about it. If humans determine their own fate based on their emotions, why wouldn't it be the same for angels? Father created all of us, after all. He doesn't give us all the answers because he wants us to decide for ourselves. It explains why I lost my wings and why I only got my powers back to help Linda.

Lucifer (3:53 PM): [eyeroll emoji, poop emoji, megaphone emoji, globe emoji, snail emoji]

Amenadiel (3:54 PM): Luci what does this MEAN?

Dan (3:56 PM): It's the stupidest thing he's heard in the entire world

Lucifer (3:56 PM): [three pointing-up emojis]

Linda (3:56 PM): Dan don't encourage him

Dan (3:57 PM): I'm just translating btw, I actually think it makes a lot of sense, Amenadiel

Amenadiel (3:57 PM): What does the snail have to do with anything??

Dan (3:59 PM): You're the snail

Lucifer (4:00 PM): [snail emoji, angel emoji]

Charlotte (4:02 PM): Do we each have an emoji? What's mine?

Lucifer (4:03 PM): [cat emoji]

Charlotte (4:03 PM): ???

Dan (4:04 PM): Nine lives

Chloe (4:06 PM): What's mine?

Lucifer (4:06 PM): [cop emoji, sparkling heart emoji]

Chloe (4:07 PM): Aww <3

Linda (4:10 PM): I'm sorry, can we refocus on Amenadiel's theory?

Lucifer (4:11 PM): [glowing star emoji, pointing-up emoji]

Linda (4:13 PM): That's very flattering, thank you.

Charlotte (4:14 PM): Wait, what's Dan's emoji?

Dan (4:16 PM): Please don't

Lucifer (4:16 PM): [eggplant emoji, sparkling heart emoji]

Charlotte (4:17 PM): [three laughing face emoji]

Amenadiel (4:19 PM): I don't get it

Dan (4:20 PM):

Chloe (4:21 PM): Dan, can you actually understand all this or is it just because he's sitting next to you?

Dan (4:24 PM): I'm at work? I thought he was with you

Maze (4:25 PM): [A selfie of her with Lucifer in a headlock. His face is turning a little red, but he's grinning and giving the camera a thumbs up.]

Dan (4:25 PM): Haha, nice.

Linda (4:26 PM): This conversation has COMPLETELY derailed. Can we please get back to the self-actualization thing??

Chloe (4:28 PM): This is why the group chat was a bad idea.

Lucifer (4:28 PM): :(

 

~*~

 

Dan still hasn't sufficiently bribed Lucifer into talking about it by the time their monthly dinner with Tom and Sun rolls around. 

In contrast, Dan's been talked into letting Luce buy him two new suits—which turns out to be a good thing, because Dan walks straight into Charlotte on his way out of the precinct and ends up doused in her 'driving home a plea bargain with a future felon' evening triple red eye low fat mocha, and doesn't have time to book it over to his place beforehand.

So, anyway, Dan strolls into the penthouse and tosses his probably-ruined jacket onto the couch, calling out, "Hey, babe. Never thought I'd say this, but—wardrobe emergency."

Luce is playing the piano, but he pauses with his fingers hovering over the keys to laugh at Dan. "Who did you piss off today, darling?"

"Very funny." Dan starts unbuttoning his shirt on his way to the closet. "I'm just gonna grab my other suit and we can—"

"Er, why don't you make yourself a drink, love?" Luce offers, pulling the little wooden cover back over the keyboard and standing up. "I'll lay a change of clothes out for you."

Dan raises an eyebrow at him and reaches for the door handle. "We're already running late, just let me—

Luce is suddenly standing between Dan and the door with what is—well, supernatural speed.

Dan blinks at him.

"Fairly certain you don't want to go in there," Lucifer says stiltedly.

Dan asks, "What? Babe, what're you talking about?"

Lucifer replies, "I'd rather not say."

"I'd rather you did," says Dan.

Lucifer's expression droops to something almost apologetic. He touches Dan's bicep and gently says, "My wings are in there."

Dan's stomach drops. He wrenches his gaze away from the door handle, up to Lucifer's face, and tries to look less stricken than he feels. "You're still cutting them off?"

"Yes. I'm sorry, Dan. I—" Luce takes both of Dan's hands and sits him gently on the bed. Dan's reminded, in that white-hot fleeting way, of the day his dad told him that his first dog died. "I thought you knew. You've seen the scars."

Dan swallows, shaking his head slowly. "I thought—I assumed they just… didn't go away."

"They might not, I suppose," Lucifer admits. "I couldn't say."

Dan's voice cracks when he threads their fingers together. "Why didn't you tell me? I—I would've helped you. I didn't want—"

He cuts off. Luce is just fucking staring at him with—with pity, maybe, or at the very least regret.

"You shouldn't have been alone," Dan whispers.

"Yes. Well," Luce says, clearing his throat. "I know how difficult it was for you the first time, and I couldn't… I simply couldn't put you through that again."

Dan's eyes harden defensively as he snaps, "I could've handled it."

"I know, love," Luce tells him. He touches the edge of Dan's cheek. "But how could I ask it of you?"

It digs into the space between Dan's collarbones.

"You were protecting me," he says. 

And Lucifer's voice is so soft when he answers, "Of course," and—

That's the thing, isn't it? Chloe's spent her entire life trying to get people to stop coddling her for being Penelope Decker's kid—for being a daughter, and Dan—

No one ever did that for Dan. They forgave him for being a little dirty, a little mediocre, and all he owed them was being tough and cool and having machismo and drinking seven beers with his cousins and no one ever buying him flowers, and getting enough blood on his hands to justify wanting to feel clean.

"Daniel?" Lucifer asks tentatively.

"Thanks," Dan whispers, and, "I'm so sorry."

Luce laughs with disbelief. "For what, darling?"

Dan looks up at him—hadn't realized he was looking away.

"For this," Dan says, and he takes Lucifer's face in both his hands. They lock eyes, and Dan doesn't know how his own are, but Luce's are bewildered, and hurting even without the context. 

"I don't understand," he says. "Daniel, just tell me what's—"

"Please don't cut them off again," Dan begs. He sucks in a breath, blinking back tears. "Please."

Lucifer flinches back slightly, but not enough to break Dan's touch. He's searching Dan's face and not finding what he wants, probably, and he protests, "But I can't let—"

"Lucifer," Dan cuts in gently. "If they're really because of—"

"What do you mean by 'if?'" Luce asks.

"If they're really because of your dad," Dan continues. "Who are you actually hurting by—by mutilating yourself just so He can put them back?" 

"That is not what I'm—"

He can't finish the sentence. It makes Dan's entire body fucking ache—the horror spreading across his face.

"If you really believe that," Dan asks, smiling small and sad, "what're you protecting me from?"

Lucifer doesn't answer. His eyes are glassy, and his tongue is wetting his bottom lip like he's trying desperately to have something to say, and Dan suddenly realizes how much blood is in his body because he can feel all iron clawing to get out.

Eventually, Luce asks, "And if it isn't Father?"

"I know you didn't wanna believe it," Dan says. "But what if Amenadiel's right? What if—"

"Don't be ridiculous!" Lucifer scoffs. He gets to his feet abruptly, half-turning away. "That would mean—that would—"

"Is it really that impossible?" Dan presses. "C'mon, Luce. You saved your mom—and your dad, too, if you think about it. Chloe finally accepted you. And you and me—"

Lucifer wheels on him, voice pitching up and his hands shaking, pleading, "You were supposed to love me as I am! You promised."

"I do— more than anything!" Dan stands up too and cups his jaw, shuddering when Luce leans into the touch on instinct. "Luce—I loved you before I knew, and after, and I'll love you if your face ever comes back, too."

Luce closes his eyes and Dan does the same, breathing with him. "But…?"

Dan strokes a thumb across his cheek and says, "But… I think you're the one trying to make yourself into something you're not."

Lucifer presses their foreheads together, speaking slowly. "When I first landed in Hell… I'd just been cast out, after leading the rebellion. And I looked in the mirror and I saw—I saw my face. And I thought… I knew what it meant, Daniel—that I'm a monster."

Dan shakes his head minutely. Their mouths are so close—they could kiss, but there's so much left to say, to do. He asks, "And who made you feel that way?"

"Dad did," Luce croaks. "When he rejected me. And when my siblings never visited, and when Mum did nothing, and when—"

"But you're not theirs anymore," Dam whispers. He swallows thickly, brings his other hand up to cradle Lucifer's face. Eyes still closed, but he knows how their bodies fit together. "You never were, Luce. You don't have to be what anyone tries to make you."

Luce admits wetly, "I don't know what else to be. It frightens me."

"I know," Dan murmurs. They finally kiss, once. Softly, with Dan's fingertips brushing through the edge of Lucifer's hair. "I know. But I promised, remember? So it's okay."

Luce laughs softly, pulling away just enough for their eyes to meet.

"You know," he says, voice tinged with wonder. "I just might believe you."

Dan smiles lopsidedly, thumbing at his bottom lip. "So… you won't cut them off anymore?"

"No," Luce answers, "I don't think I will," and he shrugs his shoulders and unfurls his wings in a warm burst of light that almost covers up the fact that they smash into a lamp that shatters on the floor.

Dan puts a hand over his mouth to try and hold back a laugh, but then Luce turns to look at the carnage and smacks the other wing into the ceiling fan when tries to avoid bumping it into the bed and says, "Gosh, it's not quite like riding a bike, is it?" and how's Dan supposed to keep it together in the face of that?

"Oh my God," he wheezes, plopping back down onto the bed. "Oh, Jesus, we're gonna be so late to dinner! Babe, we've gotta—"

"Well, not to worry about that," Luce tells him, holding his wings closer to his body and bracing his hands on either side of Dan on the mattress. "We can fly there, after all."

Dan narrows his eyes suspiciously. "How's that gonna work?"

"Why, I can carry you, of course." Luce waggles his eyebrows. "Do you prefer bridal-style, or perhaps—"

"Yeah," Dan says—maybe a little too quickly, based on the glint in Lucifer's eyes. "Yeah, let me get changed."

Luce, super selflessly, helps him get undressed.

 

~*~

 

"Wow," Tom teases when he and Sun catch Dan frantically trying to fix his hair in the restaurant window. "Guess we know what you were up to before this."

Dan squints at his reflection. He's not sure if he looks more 'recently fucked within an inch of his life' or 'literally flew here,' but—

Accurate, either way.

"You've got no idea," he says, and smacks Lucifer on the ass before leading the way into the restaurant.

 

~*~

 

Dan's pouring over crime scene photos one November night when Chloe slides a donut over to him.

"Burning the midnight oil?" she asks, quirking her lips at him.

He looks up at her, gesturing with the donut gratefully.

"It's that Jane Doe case," he explains. "I guess I got carried away."

"Hm," she says, sitting down on the edge of his desk. "I thought Wheeler said that went cold when they couldn't find her pimp."

Dan sighs, pushing his food away, and says, "He did—but honestly? I don't think he was looking that hard. So…"

Chloe pulls up a chair next to him. "What've we got?"

 

~*~

 

That's how Lucifer finds them later that night, three donuts deeper and with a list of doors to knock on in the morning. He slides a hand onto Dan's shoulder and squeezes, saying, "Ah, I should have known this is what the two of you were up to."

Chloe says, "Hey, babe," and leans up to give him a kiss. The precinct is basically deserted at this time of night.

"Detective, could I trouble you to steal Daniel for the rest of the evening?" Lucifer asks, waggling his eyebrows. "I've got a bit of a surprise planned."

Dan looks up at him. "You do? What is it?"

Lucifer tsks at him. "Have you forgotten what 'surprise' means, darling?"

Chloe laughs, briefly sorting the stack of papers she was working on before closing the manila folder. "Steal away. I better get home to Trixie, anyway."

"Oh," Dan says. "Okay."

She leans over and gives him a quick hug. "We'll touch base tomorrow, okay? Thanks for working on this."

Dan blinks. It was his case to begin with. "Uh, of course?"

Chloe kisses Luce goodbye and heads back to her desk to get her stuff.

"Right. Shall we get going, then?" Luce asks, rocking back on his heels like a little kid about to dart into a candy store.

Dan is deeply suspicious, but in the fun way. "Uh, sure. My place?"

"See you there," Lucifer agrees, giving him another squeeze on the shoulder before heading for the stairs.

Dan tucks away the case file in his desk and shrugs into his jacket. He drives home with his fingers tapping on the steering wheel, and Luce is already inside the apartment by the time Dan gets there.

"Jeez," Dan says, grinning as he slips out of his shoes. "You're really excited, huh?"

"Among other things," Luce says. He moves his hands from behind his back to reveal a neatly wrapped present—crisp blue paper with sharp corners and a series of thin ribbons tied into an intricate bow.

Dan would think it had to be professionally done, except he's pretty sure that Lucifer can just do that.

He raises a playful eyebrow, though, and takes the box. "You know my birthday's in April, right?"

"Consider it an early Christmas present, then."

"Who's putting the cart before the horse now, babe?" Dan teases. He pinches the end of a ribbon between two fingers, waiting for the go-ahead. "We've gotta survive Thanksgiving with Penelope."

"I'm confident in our odds." Luce slides a hand up between Dan's shoulder blades and steers him towards the couch. "Let's sit, love."

Dan plops down on the sofa, tucking himself under Lucifer's arm. He finally tugs at the ribbon and unravels it, rolling all the strands up in a ball that he sets on the coffee table.

He's usually a 'rip the paper off and throw it everywhere' kind of person, but he saw the way Lucifer's eye twitched at Trixie's last birthday party, so he takes pity and unwraps the box neatly from one seam.

The box itself is black and unmarked. Dan slides the lid off, folds back the later of tissue paper, and—

And…

"Daniel?" Luce asks. His voice sounds a little fuzzy.

They're the same soft blue as the wrapping paper, and made of lace. Dan's throat is really dry. He thinks he's been staring for a while, but his fingers won't move when he tries to pick them up.

He finally manages it, slipping the fabric against his thumb. They look like the perfect size, and they're clearly made for someone with a dick, but they're also not exactly—

They're panties. Lace panties. For someone who's feminine and soft and deserves—

"I'm sorry," Luce says, which— "I shouldn't have presumed. I can—"

"Can I try them on?" Dan asks. His voice is barely above a whisper and it doesn't sound like his own, but he curls his fingers around the lace when Lucifer tries to take the box away.

"Yes," Luce answers gently. "Of course—they're yours."

He moves to follow Dan into the bedroom, but Dan clarifies, "Uh. Alone at first? Maybe. I think, yeah."

"Of course," Luce says again, and it's weird, because normally when they try something kinky he's got this fucking grin on his face, like he can't wait to make Dan cry or beg or both, but right now he's just got this softness in his eyes like Dan's breakable and good and they're in love—which they are, but right now it just makes Dan want to punch something.

He doesn't really want to, obviously, because that makes no sense—but he's so fucking overwhelmed and he doesn't know what else to call what he's feeling, and he kind of hates that Luce is reading the fucking room for once because that must mean that Dan isn't handling this that well, is he?

He goes into the bedroom, though, and then his brain gets a little stuck because he's not sure if he wants to take his shirt off or not. It feels like too much—being actually naked—but the alternative is probably weirder, right?

It's weirder. 

Dan strips down, laying the panties on the edge of the bed for a second, and then he's stepping into them and staring at himself in the full-length mirror Lucifer insisted on buying around the time half his favorite suits migrated into Dan's closet.

Dan was right, about them fitting really well. They cover a little bit of his thigh, like those 'boy shorts' cut ones that Chloe likes to wear, which is ironic because Dan's never felt less boy-ish in his life. He can see his dick through the sheer fabric.

"Can you—" he calls, then clears his throat and starts again. "Can you come in now? Please?"

Luce pokes his head into the room first, before coming to stand next to Dan in the mirror. He smiles softly at their reflections and says, "You look beautiful."

Dan purses his lips. Luce is still in a full suit—navy, with a maroon and white pocket square and a vest underneath—and he looks so… so dignified and Dan, he's—

"I look stupid," he says.

"Do you want me to say you look stupid?" Lucifer asks.

"What?" Dan swallows. "No."

"That's good. I mean, I'm not above a little lip service, in the interest of fulfilling a desire or two," Luce says, in that meandering way of his, as he wraps his arms around Dan's waist from behind. "But the term hardly fits."

Dan closes his eyes. "What does?"

Luce nuzzles at his cheek and tells him again, "You're beautiful, darling."

"How'd you know?" Dan asks. He turns his head, into the kiss Luce is offering. "I didn't even…"

"Call it a hunch," Luce says, laughing softly. "Although I'll admit, I was expecting it to… fluster you, more so, as opposed to this."

Dan opens his eyes and teases, "Like the good old days of buying your straight friend weird drinks at bars?"

"That was rather successful," Luce points out. They're watching each other in the mirror, his warm eyes tracing up Dan's reflection. "After all, they do call me—"

"Oh my God." Dan laughs and leans his head back against Lucifer's shoulder. "Give it a rest, babe—no one's gonna call you 'The Skillet.'"

Lucifer huffs, "They might!"

"Besides," says Dan. "You didn't flip me. You… expanded a horizon or two."

"To drinks with tiny umbrellas?" Lucifer teases. He squeezes Dan a little tighter, nosing along his jawline.

Dan quips, "Gotta start somewhere, right?" and then gets a little more serious again—really taking it in.

He doesn't think about how they look together that often. Tries not to—to stay out of his head and not let it get to him. But right now he sees what other people must, in a way, even if he's not—

Except… he's starting to think maybe they look good, is the thing. The dark warmth in Lucifer's eyes and his beard scraping against Dan's cheek, and Dan's happy trail peeking out from between the curl of Lucifer's arms around his stomach.

Like they aren't something that someone should want to turn their eyes away from.

"Seriously, though," he asks. "How did you know?"

"You seem to… well, it's always seemed significant to you, when I call you 'pretty.'" Luce kisses his cheek and murmurs, "I wanted to give you more of that feeling."

Dan feels embarrassed all over again—the pink rising to his cheeks and the urge to avert his eyes—but he turns his face into Lucifer's neck with a smile.

Luce holds him there, sliding a hand up his back when he turns all the way around to kiss him. They make out for a few minutes, Dan's arms winding around Lucifer's neck while he rocks gently against Lucifer's thigh. It's almost incidental, but it feels good. Easy.

"We don't have to…" Luce starts, trailing off, distracted by Dan's fingers carding through his hair, restarting. "It doesn't have to be sexual, if you—"

"No, it's, uh." Dan huffs out a laugh. "I mean, if you want—"

"Very much," Lucifer says.

"Good," says Dan. He breathes in shakily, glancing down at the cut of the lace framing his hip bone, how soft it looks against his skin, shying away again when Luce brings a hand down and thumbs affectionately at the edge. "It feels… good. That you, uh, want me like this."

Luce hums deep in his throat—almost a purr, if there weren't so much hunger in it—and tosses Dan gently onto the bed. 

Dan's breath catches. He curls his fingers in the comforter.

Luce slinks over him, pausing to suckle against his rib cage, and murmurs, "That's the opposite of a problem, darling. I could eat you up."

"I'd let you," Dan says, throat quivering. "Please."

Lucifer hums again, agreeably this time. He scrapes his teeth along the line of Dan's—of the panties, toying with them before leaving them decidedly on when he tucks his hand underneath and circles a finger around Dan's hole.

"Such a pretty thing you are," he coos, a little predatory. It sends a thrill up Dan's spine. "Like you were wrapped up just for me."

Dan closes his eyes, shuddering at the sound of a drawer opening.

"Look at me, Daniel," Luce suggests—commands, maybe, but Dan's already obeying either way. "Look at yourself."

Dan does. Watches as Luce slicks up two fingers and slips them both inside at once and bites into his own smirk when Dan sobs with his toes curling, watches the way his dick swells and strains against the lace.

The angle's a little weird because of how Luce's wrist has to bend to slip under the—his panties, and Luce keeps adding more and more lube, until it's so much that he can feel the damp lace clinging to his thighs whenever Lucifer's fingers crook, and—and—

"You're so wet for me, love," Luce purrs, and his other hand has Dan pinned down by the stomach when he tries to buck his hips because no, no, Dan doesn't—he can't get— "You're going to come like this, aren't you? You're going to make a mess of yourself."

Dan squeezes his eyes shut around hot tears and begs, "I don't—want to ruin them."

Lucifer nips at his earlobe, a warm, quiet whisper against his cheek. "But I want you to, darling. I think you'd look so lovely, like that."

Dan sobs, writhing half-away and held trapped there while Luce fucks him with his hand, pumping his fingers inside him and letting Dan rut against the edge of his palm on the back-thrust, and it makes Dan feel dirty in the way that implies he was clean before, like he can be that thing again if he lets Luce leave bruises on his neck in the shape of teeth.

"Don't worry, love," Luce soothes, laughing wryly when Dan whimpers. "I'll buy you more. I'll dress you up in them all the time if you want me to. I chose this color because it flatters your eyes, you know, but you'd be a vision in pink—"

Dan comes while gasping for air, turning his head desperately towards Lucifer's mouth and finding it, kissing him and hiccuping with a sob and kissing him again. He can't feel his toes and he thinks this probably counts as hyperventilating and he doesn't care.

Luce pulls his fingers out and wipes them primly on the sheets. He hasn't even taken off his suit jacket and it makes Dan feel twice as disoriented, like maybe he hallucinated the whole thing, except for how he can feel the come sticking to the crease of his thigh.

"That was splendid, love," Luce tells him warmly, dipping down to kiss him again. He thumbs against Dan's bottom lip and asks, "Are you up for a little cocksucking?"

Dan's throat bobs. He tries to clear it, thinks he should probably make some words, but he's not sure how. He can nod, though, and lick his lips.

"Are you sure?" Luce asks, cupping Dan's cheek and caressing him gently. "Blink twice if you'd rather not. I'd be quite content just to hold you."

Dan pushes up against the pillows a little, trembling with anticipation. He wants to be good, wants to make Luce feel—

"Very well." Luce sheds his clothes and Dan's eyes flutter shut, listening to the sound of it. He thinks he could push himself in the direction of coming down again, with all the waiting—but he doesn't want to. It feels good, being like this. He clings to it.

Luce doesn't leave him for too long. He crawls back onto the bed and brushes Dan's hair from his face and says, warm and proud, "Such a pretty mouth. Open up, darling."

Dan obeys, lapping at a drop of precome as Lucifer feeds him his dick and thumbs at the corner of Dan's mouth. 

It's soothing, in a way. Dan closes his eyes and sucks gently and breathes through his nose, humming when Luce tells him to, "Just relax, love. Let me take care of it."

Dan can do that. He drifts, a little bit, floating with the way Luce brushes loving fingers through his hair and takes his mouth slowly, with little gasps as his hips start to stutter. It makes him feel restless, though, and his hand slips between his legs.

He's mostly soft and still wet, with come and all the lube. His dick is sensitive through the lace and he rubs against it with curiosity, making a needy sound in the back of his throat when the too-much ache curls around the pit of his stomach.

Luce doesn't notice—just shushes him and makes his next few thrusts a little shallower, and it's—

It's like Dan really is wet for him, touching himself while his mouth is used up and Luce is distracted with his hands braced against the pillows, and he likes that it's almost a secret.

Luce comes against his tongue and then moves down his body to kiss him, and that's when he catches on.

"Oh, my," he says, delighted, flicking his eyes down to where Dan's hand is curled guiltily in the lace. "You naughty little thing. You wanted it that badly, did you?"

Dan nods, his face burning and his shoulders drooping with relief when Lucifer touches him again. 

"Do you want to come again?" Luce asks, tracing a questioning finger along the line of Dan's barely-hard dick. "I think I can make you."

"I…" Dan gulps down a breath of air. His voice feels rusty and overused all at once. "How?"

Luce licks his lips, hooking his fingers into Dan's underwear and giving a warning tug before he pulls it off. Dan feels a pang at that, but he doesn't have time to process it before Lucifer is—

"I could eat you up," he'd said, and his tongue is slipping inside easily from where Dan is still open from before, and oh, fuck, Dan is shaking apart.

"Luce," he gasps, his head dropping back against the bed. "Fuck, what—"

Luce looks up at him from under his lashes, curling his tongue in this specific way that makes Dan's vision white-out, and he's so fucking beautiful that Dan gives up on saying anything at all.

The lube is turning tacky, sticking to Lucifer's fingers where he's making space for himself between Dan's thighs, but it doesn't matter—he's wet with spit, now, and every time Luce pulls back to lick inside again it feels like Dan could die.

It doesn't feel good, exactly. Good is getting a blowjob, or fucking someone, or getting fucked when he hasn't come yet with hot breath against his neck and a hand sliding up his ribs. But Dan's already fucked-out and shaking and his dick isn't even hard even though it's trying to be, twitching against his stomach, and—

It feels like pulling splinter after splinter out of his skin after building a deck in his parents' yard—like it hurts and it's necessary and there'll be something a little wrong with him if he stops, but that doesn't mean he's supposed to like it, and he gets to be a little wrong for that instead.

Then Luce slips his tongue out and nails Dan's prostate with three fucking fingers and sinks his teeth into Dan's thigh, and Dan comes-to with his face tucked into Lucifer's tear-stained neck.

"Oh, good," Luce says faintly. "I thought I may have killed you."

Dan wheezes, "There's always next time."

Luce presses a kiss to the top of his head and snuggles him closer.

 

~*~

 

So, that's a thing. Or… several things, is maybe more accurate, but the point is that Dan's wearing pink lace under his jeans when Chloe shoves her hand down them to cop a feel in the file room, and she looks up at him with an eyebrow raised.

"Are these mine?" she asks.

Dan swallows, hyperaware of the edge of her nail against his hip. "Uh… no."

"Hm." Chloe smirks at him, a strand of hair falling in her face as she traces a finger along the line of his panties. "Be pretty hot if they were."

He gapes at her as she glides back out of the room, leaving him relieved and aching all at once. 

 

~*~

 

It's… it's good. Things have been good between them, lately. 

 

~*~

 

"Why are you and Decker being so weird all of a sudden?" Maze asks, spitting a bottle cap into the trash and handing Dan the beer it used to be attached to.

"What?" asks Dan. "We haven't been weird."

Charlotte leans over, pats him on the arm, and informs him, "Yes you have."

"I agree with Charlotte," Amenadiel says.

Dan glares at him. "You always agree with Charlotte."

"No I don't!" Amenadiel argues, then turns to Charlotte for backup. "Do I?"

She takes a sip of her wine.

Dan peels a strip off the label on his bottle and says, "Fine, I'll bite—how have we been weird?"

Maze shrugs, taking a drink. "You're low-key avoiding her, like, constantly, except when the two of you are with Lucifer or doing stupid detective stuff."

"Also," Amenadiel adds, resting his hands on the table and leaning in very seriously. "Sometimes you look at her with this look in your eye."

"Like you're about to bone," Maze agrees.

"Oh," Dan says. "That's because we're boning."

Maze barks out a laugh; Charlotte groans dramatically and reaches into her purse.

Dan blinks at her. "Wait a minute—did you two bet on me?"

"Obviously," says Charlotte. She slaps what Dan is pretty sure is a hundred dollar bill into Maze's waiting hand. 

"I told them it was very rude, Dan," Amenadiel says. "Now, how long ago have you and Chloe been back together?"

"Uh," Dan says suspiciously. "I mean, we're not really together. It's just, you know, sex. But like… three weeks?"

Amenadiel sighs, pulls out his wallet, and pays off both of them.

Dan narrows his eyes. "You know, I have a question—where do you get all your money?"

Amenadiel furrows his eyebrows and asks, *Where do you get your money?"

"At my job," says Dan. "Do you—do you have a job, man?"

"Let's get back to the sex with your ex-wife thing," Charlotte says. "I have a few questions."

Dan rolls his eyes. "If you've got, like, a ledger, just hand it over and I'll settle them all for you, okay?"

"Oh, no, we're done with that." Charlotte tucks her wallet back into her purse to emphasize the point. "I'm asking as a friend."

"Aw," Dan says. "Okay."

Charlotte smacks him on the chest and asks, "Have you lost your mind?"

"Ow!" Dan leans away defensively. "What was that for?"

"You and Chloe got divorced for a reason," Charlotte tells him, shaking out her hand. "Do you really think being friends with benefits is a good idea?"

"It's been fine!" Dan insists. He tears another strip off paper off his beer. "Super fine."

"Super hot," Maze says, licking her lips. "Have you guys done the Eiffel tower?"

"No," Dan lies.

Charlotte finishes off her drink, clicking her tongue when the aftertaste hits. "I just don't want to see you get hurt."

"What makes you think I'd get hurt?" Dan asks.

She levels him with a look that's somehow both unimpressed and sympathetic all at once. "Because you're a giant softie who's clearly still in love with her?"

"I'm not a softie," Dan argues.

"Dude," says Maze. "You're wearing bunny slippers."

Dan crosses his arms. "This apartment is freezing, okay? Besides, they're Amenadiel's—pick on him."

"Oh," Amenadiel says. "Those are Linda's."

That explains why they barely fit Dan's feet. He decides to be the bigger person and not ask how they ended up at Amenadiel's place.

"Anyway, it's fine, though," he says, taking a definitive sip of his beer. "It works for us, I mean. We're friends who are dating the same dude and have sex with together sometimes and we're co-parenting our nine-year-old. What could go wrong?"

All three of them open their mouths to start talking at once.

"Rhetorical," Dan says quickly. "Jesus Christ."

Maze slides him another beer. "I get why it took you thirty-five years to figure out you weren't straight, now."

Dan flings a bunny slipper at her.

 

~*~

 

The thing is that—Dan's kind of lost his touch, at lying to himself. Call it a side effect of cleaning up his act and developing an essentially healthy romantic relationship and a bunch of supportive friendships with other people who are fucked up in ways supremely compatible to his.

It'd be great, if the whole 'denial' thing hadn't been really fucking useful.

Dan kisses Chloe held against Lucifer's chest and on his back while she rides him and laying next to her while Lucifer eats her out, and not in the kitchen while they make their daughter breakfast. They hunch over cold cases at her desk and do not touch and bring each other coffee when they've been up too late fucking, and the thing is that Charlotte was still wrong.

His heart won't break—not over this. He could live this way forever and be grateful for it, because it's more than he deserves.

It's just that—

He can still feel the way it crawled up his throat, when Lucifer asked what he desired. He'll always know it wasn't quite this.

Dan's thinking about that, a little, when they're holed up at Lux one night with Trixie at a sleepover and Chloe is sliding a hand up his chest while Lucifer digs through the sex toy collection.

"You know, darling," Luce calls, unclear to who, "I haven't fucked you in ages. Any interest in that tonight?"

That narrows it down. Chloe leans back slightly, though her nails are still pressed against his skin, and asks, "Lucifer fucks you?"

"Uh, yeah," says Dan, clearing his throat. "Is that, uh—weird for you, or?"

"No, no," she reassures him quickly. Her eyes are a little wide—maybe in the hungry way. "I'm sorry. I just thought maybe you didn't—I mean—could I?"

Dan's mouth goes dry. He has to wet his lips to say, "Yeah."

"Okay," she says. Her hand reaches up, nails catching purposefully on his cheek when she touches him. "Let's… okay."

"Yeah," Dan says again.

She's careful while she fingers him—probably because of the nails. She's careful when she pushes inside—probably because of how he's looking at her.

He couldn't describe it, even if he could see his own expression, but he knows that it's hard to breathe and her hair is falling in her face and it feels like he's tearing himself apart a little, so there's space for her.

Not for how she's fucking him—but in his chest.

"I wish I could feel you," she says, panting against his ear, and it cracks a rib. "I mean, I kind of can, but it's not—"

"It's amazing," he tells her, voice breaking. "Chlo, you're—"

"Yeah," she says. "Yeah."

There's sweat pooling in the small of her back. He drags his hands through it, over her ass and the straps of her harness. She's nosing against his temple while she rocks her hips.

It's so much. They could've had this for twelve years. Dan wasn't who he needed to be. He wonders if she was.

Her hair sticks to her face. He brushes it away, touches at her bottom lip, tries not to come.

"If you want to make it really good," Luce tells her, from where he's sprawled on the other side of the bed, working himself over slowly. "You should choke him."

"Lucifer! I can't just—" she starts to scold, but then she must see Dan's face again, the way he's fucking pleading with her silently, and he swears to everything that her pupils dialate. "Oh. Oh."

Dan swallows thickly.

"Breathe while you can, love," Lucifer suggests, and Dan inhales haphazardly while Chloe rests a gentle hand against his throat.

"Okay?" she asks quietly.

He nods. Please.

She's softer about it that Lucifer is. It's not better or worse for it, just—it's steady, stubborn and even, like she's decided between one moment and the next exactly how things should be—and he loves her.

Not for this, specifically. But how it's like her, and she starts fucking him again with a slow drag of her hips, and her eyes aren't blue anymore.

It's good. He wants her to like it. He could breathe if he wanted to—could throw her off, if he wanted to. But she's figured out how to hit his prostate and her mouth is so soft when she kisses him and he loves her.

"He looks quite lovely like this, doesn't he, Detective?" Luce says. "Why don't you tell him?"

Chloe looks over at him, frowning. "What—"

Dan whimpers, squeezing his eyes shut.

"Oh," she says again, and slows her pace so she can stop bracing her other hand on the bed and cup his cheek. "Oh, Dan—look at me."

He tries. He thinks his eyes are a little glassy, but he can meet her gaze when she smiles down at him, a hand still pressing against his throat.

"You're beautiful," she whispers, thumbing at his cheek. "Dan, you're so, so good."

No. No, he turns his face away. He's not—

She clucks her tongue, and disappointing her is worse than being lied to. He turns back to her, watching the way her eyes drag over his body.

"Look at you," she says. Her hand follows the same path—down his chest, across his hip, pausing to toy with his dick where it's hard and leaking. "God, this is—you're amazing. Being here with me, like this—I'm so lucky."

She picks up the pace again and tightens her grip, just a little. He can feel himself getting worked up—closer to the edge—and he wants to hide his face or cry or disappear but she won't let him, she's holding him where he needs to be, and she says—

"I love you."

Dan can't sob; he'd have to breathe first.

"I love you," she says again, and fucks him through it when he comes and her hand slipping away from his throat is an afterthought and it sends another shockwave up him like he's coming twice. "Believe me, please. I love you."

Dan gasps for air and rolls onto his side and takes her with him, clinging to her and crying into the side of her neck, and she realizes the tears are real before he does.

He gets it when she starts apologizing, her fingers carding through her hair and something desperately soothing in her voice—that he's not okay.

"Oh, sweetie, I'm sorry." She touches at his neck, prodding gently. "Did I hurt you? Are you okay?"

Dan wants to explain, wants to tell her it's fine. He can't make the words come out, or maybe—it's that he thinks she should know. That it's obvious, why he's crying and he hurts and he still can't breathe.

He loves her.

Lucifer gets up and quietly leaves the room. 

Dan waits for him to be gone before he says, "Chloe, I don't know if I can do this anymore."

"What?" she asks. She tilts his chin up so he has to look at the furrow in her eyebrows. "Dan…"

"I can't, uh." Dan has to close his eyes to get through it. It still hurts. "I'm still in love with you, Chlo. And I've been telling myself that this is fine, I mean—that it's working. But I think it's—it's not, and it's just gonna keep hurting."

Chloe touches her forehead to his temple, stroking her fingers through his hair, and says, "I was gonna say the same thing."

Dan's arms tighten around her back reflexively, even though the point is— "You were?"

"Yeah," she says simply. "So let's get back together."

Dan leans away from her, breaking the embrace. "What?"

She touches his cheek, gentle fingertips stroking along the bone. Her eyes are so soft, and a little wet, but her voice isn't shaking.

"I'm in love with you, too," she tells him, smiling. "I think more than ever."

Dan feels the terrified anger welling up again—like he's something feral she's backing into a corner, even though all he wants to do is lay his head in her lap and listen to her voice.

"It wasn't enough last time," he chokes out. 

"No," she agrees, shaking her head, still touching him. "But it's different now. We're different now."

Dan croaks, "I'm not."

Chloe laughs softly, gesturing between them. "Dan, look at you. Look at us."

And, like, Dan gets it. The neon purple, glittery dildo is kind of hard to ignore, and that's a sentence he would've hated himself for even vaguely participating in three years ago, but—

"Actually, let me take this off," Chloe says. "It's kinda chafy."

They both laugh again, breaking some of the tension, and Dan slips into a pair of boxers when she pulls on his discarded shirt.

(It's one that Ella got him. There's an alien surfing on it with the words, 'Take me to your beaches.' Chloe swims in it.)

She climbs back onto the bed and takes both his hands. He runs a thumb over her knuckles on instinct.

"You know," she says. "Before… before the divorce, I felt like you never really had my back. You were always saying how you wanted me to make detective, or protect my reputation—but it wasn't the same thing as believing in me."

Dan bows his head. He knows—he can see that now, and it's exactly why she shouldn't—

"I felt like I had to fight for everything, even from you. For a desk that wasn't under the stairs, for—for dead women who wouldn't make the news." Her composure is starting to falter a little. He's so fucking tired of knowing how she looks when she cries. "But then we met Lucifer."

Dan says, "I don't understand."

She tilts his chin up again, pursing her lips around a shaky smile. "You know, I've been saying from the beginning how you made him better. But… I think he makes you better, too. I think he makes us both better."

"I don't…" Dan's chest loosens, but it doesn't— "Chloe, I'm happy about that, sure. But it doesn't mean you have to forgive me."

"No, I know," she says. His jaw is cupped in the palm of her hand. "But I want to. Can you forgive me?"

Dan blinks in disbelief. "There's nothing to forgive you for."

"C'mon, Dan. I'm a miracle, not a saint." She snorts at her own joke, tweaking his ear fondly. "I was… judgy, and really hard on you. Vindictive, even when— especially when you were making an effort."

And if he's being honest—

He never wanted to resent her, but it was there. For deciding the life they should have and leaving him to try and scribble himself in the margins. But it would've been outweighed by the good, even then, if she'd have had him.

He would've trusted her to write him a good script.

"I think it was easier when it wasn't for you," he admits, and finally leans into her touch. "I stopped telling myself that I had to be good enough and just… figured out who I was. But that was never your fault, Chlo."

She nods, quirking her lips. He's not crying, but she thumbs at his cheeks like there's something to wipe away and whispers, "I like who you are."

"Me too," Dan says, and they're kissing. She slides her hands back into his hair, scratching gently at his scalp, holding him exactly where he needs to be. 

It's so easy, which has always been the problem.

Dan rests his hand on her waist, above the tee shirt. She plants her knees on either side of his hips and presses him into the headboard and he asks, "What about Trixie?"

"Hm. You know?" She nuzzles their noses together. "She's a pretty cool kid. I think we should teach her that you should do what makes you happy."

Dan smiles lopsidedly. "Do I make you happy?"

"So much," she says fiercely. "You big dummy."

He kisses her again, feeling her teeth pulling at the edge of his giddy grin, and maybe it's not a problem for it to come naturally, for him to hold her, for her body to slot against his and their breathing to sync when her hand cups the back of his neck.

Maybe he deserves this.

"Hey," Chloe murmurs, pressing one last kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Let's go find our boyfriend."

Dan nods, squeezing her hip. She takes the whole comforter with her when she slides out of bed, wrapping it around her shoulders and padding into the living room.

Dan follows behind, and they don't have to go far—Luce is sitting on the couch in a robe, watching something mindless on TV. He looks up when they walk in and asks, "Is everything alright?"

"Better than," Chloe tells him. She climbs onto the couch and wraps them both up in the bedspread, tucking herself against his side. "We've got a belated birthday gift for you. You wanted a permanent menage a trois, right?"

Dan laughs, crawling into the blanket burrito on Lucifer's other side and nestling in. "Did he say that to you, too?"

She snorts. "Of course he did."

Luce looks between them, bemused smile stretching across his face. "Right. As happy as I am, this isn't just for my benefit, correct? Because I have been vehemently assured by a certain therapist that it will end in disaster if so."

"Mm, no," Chloe teases. "We didn't really talk about your feelings at all, actually."

"Excellent." Luce kisses the top of Dan's head and then turns to nuzzle Chloe's hair.

Dan huffs out a laugh. He snuggles in closer, winding an arm around Lucifer's front until he finds Chloe's hand, which she gives him willingly. They lace their fingers together; he smiles at her when she props her cheek up on Lucifer's shoulder.

"If anyone is curious, though," Luce says, turning up the volume on the TV. "I don't think I've ever been quite so happy."

Chloe tilts her face up to kiss the underside of his jaw. "I'm glad, babe."

Dan just closes his eyes, and breathes. He knows, from the way her fingers brush against his knuckles and Luce rests his chin on the top of his head, that they can tell.

 

~*~

 

Dan is pulling quesadillas out of the oven when the doorbell rings. He can barely hear it over the ridiculous music, which is blasting from speakers Lucifer may or may not have stolen from Lux for the night.

"Babe!" he calls in the collective sense, setting the tray on the counter. "Can you see who that is?"

No one answers him. He sighs, tossing aside his oven mitts, and gets distracted on his way to the door by the sight of Luce emerging from the bedroom.

"Oh my God, dude, why aren't you dressed yet?" Dan asks, exasperated.

Lucifer looks down, plucking at the sweater he's wearing—one of Dan's favorites that he's had for years—which is clinging to his stupidly broad shoulders. "I am dressed, clearly."

The doorbell rings again.

"For the party," Dan clarifies.

"I am!" Lucifer insists, but the shit-eating grin suggests otherwise. "This is obviously my ugly sweater, for the festivities."

Dan glares at him. "I have means and opportunity to kill you right now."

Luce pokes his tongue against the side of his cheek, waggling his eyebrows. "But no motive, Detective?"

"Hey, did no one get the door?" Chloe glides out of Trixie's room, hairbrush in one hand and their daughter in tow. She clucks her tongue when she sees them. "Lucifer! Why aren't you dressed yet?"

"None of you appreciate my—" Lucifer is interrupted by the door bell ringing three more times in quick succession. "Oh, for Dad's sake, it's open!"

It wasn't, but the lock clicks at the sound of his voice. Dan rolls his eyes.

Tom and Sun poke their heads into the apartment curiously. Tom is wearing reindeer ears and Sun's got a Santa hat on, and they both break out into grins when Dan finally goes to welcome them in.

"Hey, kid!" Tom kisses Dan on both cheeks, slipping a bottle of wine into his hand. "Nice place. It's like a Hallmark movie threw up in here."

"Blame that one," Dan tells him, gesturing in Lucifer's direction. "He's never had Christmas before."

"Guilty as charged," says Luce.

Dan clears his throat and takes a step back. "Uh, Tom, Sun—this is Chloe and Trixie."

"Chloe! It's so good to finally meet you," Tom says, crossing the room to give her a hug. "Dan talks about you all the time."

"Oh?" Chloe locks eyes with Dan, smirking. "I'm sure only good things, right?"

Dan misses whatever Tom says next, because the front door flies open to reveal Ella and Charlotte on the other side.

"Time to break out the eggnog!" Ella announces, holding up a giant bottle of dark rum in one hand. "The party is here, baby."

Dan laughs, bending down to give her a hug and avoid being brained by the glass bottle. "Hey, Ells. Glad you could make it."

"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for anything." Ella gestures at her outfit, which features R2-D2 wrapped up in Christmas lights that actually glow. "I am the queen of ugly Christmas sweaters."

Charlotte huffs. "Excuse me, but I think I should get bonus points for creativity."

Dan looks back at her as he leads them both into the apartment, laughing out loud when he realizes what she's wearing.

Her sweater is dark gray and features the Tasmanian devil from Looney Toons, dressed in a Santa outfit with its tongue hanging out.

"Let me get my camera before you show that to Luce," Dan tells her. "He's gonna flip."

"Aww," Ella says, "you're such a loving boyfriend."

Dan says, "I try," then busts out the eggnog, as promised. He carries a round of glasses back into the living room, where he finds Luce still wearing Dan's sweater, gesturing emphatically while he tells some story to Sun.

Tom is talking to Chloe and Trixie, sitting cross-legged on the floor with them right near the tree.

"He looks like a cryptid like that," Ella says, nodding her head back in Luce's direction. "Is it super weird seeing him out of a suit, or are you used to it?"

Dan leans in close and whispers, "Sometimes he sleeps with one on."

Ella gapes at him. He only keeps a straight face for a split-second, though, before the snickering starts.

"Oh my gosh!" Ella smacks him lightly on the arm. "You're the worst."

"I know," Dan says, grinning at her.

He's saved by the bell, literally. Charlotte takes the tray of drinks from him so he can get the door.

"Dan!" Amenadiel greets, spreading his arms wide. Linda and Maze are both with him, wearing matching elf hats. "Where is my brother? I need to show him my outfit."

Dan welcomes them inside, scrutinizing Amenadiel's sweater. It looks hand-knit, and there's a cute little goat on it wearing a matching scarf and hat.

"That's super cool, dude," Dan tells him. "Where'd you get it?"

Amenadiel rests a hand on Dan's shoulder, lowering his voice conspiratorially. "Charlotte taught me about something called 'Etsy.'"

Dan laughs. "That's great. Why do you need to show—"

"Amenadiel," Luce calls out cautiously, narrowing his eyes at them from the couch. "What are you wearing?"

Amenadiel is grinning like he's not surrounded by super breakable Christmas decorations that he could get tackled into at any second.

"Luci, I just wanted to commemorate a very special time in our lives!" he says. "In the spirit of the holidays—"

"Wait a minute— our lives?" Lucifer's jaw drops. "Amenadiel, is the—the goat thing? Was that you?"

Amenadiel shrugs, like, 'What are you gonna do about it?'

"Brother!" Lucifer whines, smacking his hands on the couch like a little kid. "I hate the goat thing!"

"Oh man," Charlotte says, "I have got to hear this story. Did anyone bring popcorn?"

Lucifer glances at her, double-takes, and makes another undignified noise. "You too, Miss Richards? Do none of you love me?"

"Aw, babe," Chloe tells him, snapping pictures of his face with her phone. "We love you so much."

"We just don't respect you," Maze adds. She vaults over the back of the couch and plucks his drink right out of his hand, as if to prove the point.

Luce drapes an arm around her shoulders. 

"You know," he says, glancing around at all of them. "I think it's a rather fair trade."

Dan shakes his head, smiling to himself as heads back to the kitchen to spike more eggnog. 

It turns out Linda beat him to it; she hands him a glass and then bumps her head against his bicep, looking out over the room.

"Merry Christmas, Dan," she says.

Dan takes a sip of his drink. "Merry Christmas."

 

~*~



Luce finds him later that night, pulling cartons of ice cream out of the freezer. Their friends are laughing in the next room with the music playing quieter and the lights turned down lower than that, except the ones on the tree. Trixie is asleep in Maze's lap.

"How's your boring Christmas party been, babe?" Dan asks, turning his head to nuzzle Luce's cheek when he hugs him from behind.

"Delightful," Luce answers, pressing a kiss to Dan's nose. "Thank you, Daniel."

Dan turns around, letting his shoulders push the freezer door shut, and wraps his arms around Lucifer's neck. "For what?"

Lucifer's eyes are warm, shining in the secondhand light. "It's a rather long list. You should know that by now, darling."

Dan does. He kisses him softly, bare toes curling against the floor. His list is pretty long too.

"Hey," he murmurs, reaching up to brush at the hair on Lucifer's temple. "Ask me again."

Luce purses his lips together, hesitating. "Are you sure?"

"Ask me," Dan whispers. "I promise."

Lucifer cups his cheek, lips parted without speaking for a long moment before he asks, "What do you desire, love?"

And it's like breathing. Like finding another mouth in the dark. 

"Nothing," Dan says, his voice shaking gently, with the certainty. "Except this."

Luce laughs, blinking away the tears forming in his eyes, and Dan kisses the confusion right out of his mouth.

Easy.