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Reel Against Your Body's Borders

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In the end, she is only human.

The temptation is persistent. It nettles, a daydream with teeth. She thinks about it sometimes - which, of course she does, look at him, but - it stops there. It has to. For Trixie, certainly, but also - herself. For the last dredges of self-respect left to her after Palmetto and Dan and the quagmire of her career. For the thought of his smug, ingratiating smile at any hint of her regard beyond chemical repulsion.

So she holds out. She has to. It's essential to her sanity that she has, the thin tether that restrains her from diving headlong into the absolutely ludicrous notion of fucking a man who calls himself the Devil - but she could be forgiven, couldn't she? If he was, in fact, the devil. She can't and won't and manages to last three months before he slips his way in, a thief in the night.

Saturday, and it's a long one, but Dan has Trixie. The house is quiet, creaking, still. The preciousness of time alone. And so it happens, in the shower, her body wired, full of energy and heat -

The warehouse, she thinks - not the bullet, of course, the hot flash of guilt that makes her stomach knot, but in the car, before that idiot Carver showed up and blew the plan. The way he had looked at her with a peculiar curiosity and inexplicable longing and asked -

Do I scare you?

- and how could he? Because she thinks of him, now, in the penthouse, all lithe muscle and godless wonder. And the berries were ripe, just not for her picking, but it's just her here, he won't know. Her breath stutters as her hand moves between her legs, her fingers slippery against her own sex. She presses down on her clit, rubs in clockwork circles that make her thighs tense and belly warm, but it's not enough, she needs -

She lets it play out again, a fresh take. When her hand skirts the edge of his scars, he grabs her again - don't, please- but the word catches in her throat, echoes.

Please.

Please, what, he says laughing, the shadows gone from his eyes. His grip is strong, and he pushes her easily into the wall. On her, his gaze is intense but - warm. An inferno, she thinks wildly, stupidly, and then his hand is in her hair, tugging her head back to look him in the eye.

Tell me, Detective - what is it you desire?

And it's a line, definitely, it is - but this time, it works. Gets its claws in her, wrenches it out, the way she wishes it would deep down in the place inside her that resents all of the magic the world lost after her father died.

Touch me, she whispers, and he obliges, the way she lets herself imagine he would. His hand on her breast, down her thighs, between them. She groans when he presses a hand against the place where she aches most, a calculated pressure firm enough to tease but not enough to satisfy.

"You want me?" he asks in a hot whisper against her ear and laughs when she groans yes, his hand sliding up to effortlessly snap open the button on her jeans.

Her whole body thrums with wicked, primal energy, anticipating the way his clever fingers work their way under her underwear, brushing over her clit, an action that makes her whole body jerk, her spine arching parabolic. She's so wet, and he knows it from the knowing smirk that cuts his face like a sickle, and he lingers there for a moment, rubbing a tight, perfect circle that leaves her gasping, before his index finger slides farther down and into her and finds her G-spot easily. Wants to imagine he can, all those long hours she’s watched him perform, the elegant motion of talented hands.

In the real world, where the water is just beginning to prune her skin, she mirrors the action, slipping two fingers into herself. Gasping, she rocks her hips, riding the feel of penetration, imagining fingers she's watched playing piano perfectly playing her.

Back in her fantasy, Lucifer falters, his own desire made manifest in the erection that presses against her hips, in the breaths that quicken against her ear.

"Detective," he whispers, and it's no longer the smug and certain refrain she's come to know, but something helplessly incipient, something just for her. When he pulls back to look at her, his pupils are blown wide with desire; he dips his head to kiss her, his hand in her hair gentling. The thumb on her clit presses down more insistently, drawing impossible sounds out of her, the keening of a creature long denied.

"Lucifer," she gasps into his mouth and can't even complain when his tongue slips into her mouth, curling around hers. It makes her hips buck, and he groans, rubbing against her, all sinuous and ecstatic movement.

"You're incredible," he praises, dragging his mouth away from hers to kiss his way down her neck, sucking at the sensitive skin there. It will leave a hickey, she thinks wildly, but who cares - that's the sensuous freedom he inspires, all the walls he helps her break down, and when he slips a second finger into her, she -

In the real world, the water is easing into lukewarm when Chloe comes, clenching around her own fingers, knocked breathless from the force of it. She steadies herself against the tile with a hand as she rocks though it, moaning. The orgasm is long and satisfying, and she comes down slowly, biting her lip as she slowly withdraws her fingers, tiny tremors running through her. She can't help the smile that sneaks its way onto her features, and it lingers even as she washes off and exits the shower, toweling off in the fog of the room.

When she looks at herself in the mirror, she huffs a laugh at the rosy flush rampant across her features, snaking all the way down her chest. She rolls her shoulders, enjoying the looseness of her limbs, the thrum of energy under her skin. She shakes her head, embarrassed by even this indulgence, the fact that she has capitulated this inch so far to him - but, really, what was the harm?

It's not like he will ever know.

-------------------

The day after their first kiss on the beach, Chloe has the privilege of a house to herself, a rarity if there ever was. Her casework is squared away by seven, a miracle unto itself, leaving her lots of time to pace the rooms of her home, made restless by the tight coil of latent energy brimming inside her. She makes herself do dishes and then fold laundry, but by eight, she gives up the charade and ducks into her room, digging into her bottom drawer where she hid Mazikeen’s belated birthday gift, and eight-fifteen finds her grinding her way to orgasm.

She pictures him over her - or under, she doesn't really have a preference at this point. Either work, really because she knows he will make it so good. It's hard enough to contain the electric excitement that boils in her belly at the thought of him or, worse, when he is near her, warm and solid and painfully handsome, full of clever quips and charming smiles.

Imagining his body is easy - he has hardly been shy about it, after all - and all those lithe lines and hard planes of muscle are impressed in her mind, the memory tucked away in the places she buries all her secret longings. She imagines touching him, tracing her hands up his spine, feeling the firm curve of a bicep, the sharp cut of his collarbone, the way his stomach would tense under the drag of her nails, and finally - the heft of him in her hands, hot and hard. Just the thought makes her wet.

She grinds down on the toy, fucking herself, groaning at the thought of how close he is to being hers. For years, she has kept the fantasy of him at a distance, an oasis shimmering on the horizon, an impossible illusion that risked dissolving before she reached it.

But he wants her, has said it so many times in so many ways, yet this promise he sealed with a kiss - one so gentle it makes her heart clench to remember it, the tentative way his lips had pressed against hers with the sound of the ocean behind her and the warmth of him before her. And it's been so long, she thinks desperately, gasping as vibrations stimulate her clit in just the right way.

She knows better than to wish for perfect, but how could it be anything less with the way women flock to him? The boasting and bragging has to come from somewhere, and she certainly will be glad to come for him.

In her mind, he is leaning over her, whispering hotly - anything, she thinks desperately, she will take it. Dirty, sweet, he can have her whatever way he wants as long as she gets to have him. She thinks of him eating her out, thinks of the salt of him on her tongue, and finally - oh, she gasps - inside her, no longer a fantasy, but something vivid and real, wanting her as desperately as she has wanted him.

It will be so good. They are going to be so good together.

She comes hard, his name on her lips.

-----------

She wakes around midnight, aching. The dream is still with her, heating her blood, and she fumbles a hand under the waistband of her underwear, finds herself wet. Her fingers land on her swollen clit easily, and she gasps a little, startled by the extent of her own arousal.

Gently, she rubs counterclockwise, biting her lip as her hips shift reflexively against her hand. What she can recall of the dream is abstract, fragments of desire, the lingering remnants of phantom touch. She touches herself to the memory of restless hands, a pleasing mouth.

Whimpering, she slides her fingers down further, letting them graze her slick opening, the place where she is warm and wanting. When she returns to her clit, she gasps helplessly, bucking into her own touch.

Pressing harder, she moves in tight, firm circles, thinking of strong arms, the hot ache of a mouth working her sex, the blunt, exciting fullness of a cock. She pictures a face, painfully handsome, hovering over her, kissing her hotly, a tongue that tangles around hers. She writhes, ecstatic, under him, her mouth open in a silent scream of pleasure. He holds her tight against him as she arches under him, and she moans, bringing up her hands to frame his face. Kisses him hard and then harder again as he gasps against her mouth. She pulls back to smile at him dreamily, into brown eyes fathomless and warm. Her mouth forms his name –

“Thinking of me, babe?”

She jolts to full alertness as Marcus’ arms come around her, his hand sliding up to fondle a breast as he kisses a line down her neck. Solid against her back, he makes a satisfying wall of muscle and heat; the erection he rocks against her hip makes her press back reflexively, groaning. Guilt burgeons under her sternum, her heart clenching painfully, but she forces it down, hiding it with a smile as she turns to meet the next kiss open-mouthed.

“Yes,” she whispers against his lips. And yes when his hand slides between her legs, replacing her own. Yes when he tugs her underwear down. Yes when he throws her leg over his hip and pushes into her, scattering any thoughts that would say otherwise.

A million little lies told over and over again until they become truth.

-------------

She carries the guilt with her wherever she goes now, a cry made in the dark whose echo carries back to her always. It eats at her in the long hours between cases and then in the longer hours on stakeouts where companionship no longer comes easily. Even having reached a point of understanding, their relationship is fragmented now, the dialogue stilted. She feels like a stranger next to him anymore, but there are none but herself to answer for it.

With time, she notices the small gestures like coffee or lemon bars disappear, lost in the ways of all the quiet intimacies; the holes they leave behind feel disproportionately large. Lucifer keeps his good humor, at least. A smile is always waiting for her in the morning, even bereft of the warmth and sincerity it once had. He will be civil, certainly; the Devil understands better than anyone the value of a pretty mask.

She longs for the days where she could remove hers. She hides behind perfectly coiffed hair, the transformative elegance of cosmetics, and tight-lipped neutrality. Every day, she is mother and Detective and ex-wife, but the spectre of Chloe seems distant, uncertain. When she looks in the mirror, the image is blurred and indistinct, a countenance without form that pleases no one, least of all herself.

She tries not to think too much about Eve, the way she has so easily slipped into the space Chloe left behind. Tries not to resent the carefree way the first woman carries herself, a body beautiful and guiltless and free. A woman who held out her hand for the apple and took it wantonly, who looked down from the high cliff of heaven and leapt, who kissed the beast and broke the spell. A woman Chloe could not hope to be in her wildest dreams, shaped by the miraculous hand of a God who still seems insurmountably unreal.

At night, she lies awake, looking at the ceiling to think of the stars beyond it, the ones so rarely visible beyond the polluted veil of city lights. Tension coils through her, but her hands stay above the covers, the mood rarely taking her these days - and really, she thinks, what comforts could fantasy offer? What kingdom on the hill, full of mystery and light, a thousand unspoken opportunities left for the taking? Who will climb the tower and rescue her from the misery of this endless isolation, the hours of silence and shadow? Who will open the door to the prison built from her own guilt?

The world had offered her magic, and all she had done was turn aside.

--------------

Ten months after Lucifer returns to Hell, she decides to start dating again - mostly at Linda's gentle urging that she try to move on and Ella's less than subtle suggestion that she needed to "unwind." Maze is the most honest of the lot of them and tells her to stop being such a tightass and get herself laid.

Over the next year, she goes on at least one outing per week, sometimes two if she is feeling frisky. Most of them do not pan out - the chemistry just isn't there or the timing is wrong or they aren't looking to deal with a kid, sorry - but the significance is that she tries. Even Dan tells her it's good to see her getting out again.

She lets them take her anywhere and everywhere, four-star restaurants and concert halls, basketball games and opera, even the occasional dive bar. They come to her wearing sweaters and trousers, jerseys and jeans, the occasional suit - never anything as choice or bold as a three-piece Armani, of course - but she takes them any which way, and for that, she sometimes gets to come, too.

They make for good distractions, the lot of them. Most do not make it past the first date, much less a first kiss, but a precious few snake their way under her skin: a banker who lost his wife to cancer a decade earlier and shyly jokes he's out of practice over an Italian dinner; a former cop-turned-law professor who laughs when she tells him, yes, she's that Chloe Decker, and assures her they all have things they regret in their past; the broad-shouldered trainer for Linda's yoga class that dryly compliments her corpse pose ("Professional experience, I presume?") and makes her laugh easily over glasses of red wine. All of them enjoyed until they slip from her grasp, never one she finds keen to tighten; they get in past the door but never quite past her the walls of heart.

The last is a social worker from Fresno, charming and loquacious, with a face that missed its calling for modeling or big screens in its youthful prime. They sit in the corner of a retro diner drinking coffee late one night after one of her cases kept her at the office, and he had graciously stuck around the bullpen waiting for her, happily chatting up everyone around him. He speaks passionately and at length about his work, filling in all the gaps she is too tired to fill in herself; when the hour approaches midnight, he offers his arm at the door and walks her to the car, driving her home.

On the doorstep, she looks at him a long moment, studying the warm brown of his eyes, the way they crinkle at the smile he gives her at the end. He's just tall enough that standing on the bottom stairs makes them nearly eye level, so she presses her advantage and kisses him, enjoying the friction of his stubble against her skin, the chaste pressure of his lips against hers. When she murmurs for him to come in, he does not argue.

In her bedroom, she undresses him slowly, unbuttoning his shirt with care, a kind of inelegant foreplay of its own. He laughs when she reaches his trousers, then suggests he return the favor, helping her out of her blouse and jeans with practical ease. They stumble into the bed gracelessly, full of all the awkward humor and positioning of a first time. The sex that follows isn't perfect, the way she once imagined impossibly that sex could be in another lifetime, with another man, but it satisfies well enough.

In the morning, they have coffee and eggs in her kitchen, her bare feet tapping out a rhythm on the stool as he talks about the week ahead. He's a good one, she thinks idly, letting a smile curve across her face. When he leaves at nine, he kisses her goodbye and promises to call her later that week.

For a long time after he leaves, she lingers in her kitchen, feeling the uncommon peace of a quiet and empty mind. She takes her time showering and dressing, going through the emotions of her routines, comforting in their familiar banality. Dan calls around noon, informing her that Trixie will be dropped off around seven, which gives her the whole day to herself. Seized by restlessness, she turns to chores, laundry that needs done, beds that need made, a kitchen long overdue for scrubbing.

It could be him, she thinks halfway through the dishes. The sun lingers long in the sky that day, flooding her home with a gentle, gold light, giving everything a sensation of enchantment, a world removed from her tired and familiar routines of living. It feels hopeful.

Dan drops their daughter off at seven exact, makes small talk with her in the living room while Trixie transfers her stuff from the car. They have a good rhythm these days, a comfortable and respectable one. L.A. would call it conscious uncoupling. Chloe calls it sensible parenting and a hefty amount of attorney fees saved.

Long after he leaves and Trixie is put to bed, the sun finally retires around eight, and so does she, changing into her bedclothes and curling up in freshly washed linens. From her daughter’s room, the barest trickle of sound, a sure sign that she’s snuck her phone into bed and is watching movies, but she feels indulgent tonight, leaving her daughter to her little delusions of deceit.

He’s a good man, she thinks again later, teetering on the cusp of sleep. Safe, certainly, as with all the men she dates, whose profiles she runs through criminal background checks before they ever step foot in her home - but also: good. Funny, charming, handsome, a whole package really, a chance she would be foolish to pass up.

That night, she sleeps, and she dreams of a beach looking out over dark water. The waves crash against the shoreline, the roar muted in the thick air of the night. She walks a long mile along its serrated edge. The sand is wet beneath her feet, and should she tarry, she sinks, a leaden weight pulled endlessly down. So she walks and does not stop, she walks and there is no end to the dark, her journey as aimless as it is endless. An infinite night spreads out before her, an ocean of unseen whispers. She can hear an echo, something distant and soft, said with an edge now of resignation –

But is it truly, then, what you desire?

She wakes up crying and doesn’t know why.

-----------

Things are tense between them in the months after his return from the underworld. It isn’t all like she imagined, all those lonely nights after all of her attempts to move on fizzled out, when she told herself if he would just come back to her everything would be fine. Losing him was hard; it turns out getting him back is harder.

It takes time to unravel the knot Hell makes of him. Something cold and hard makes a home inside him. Detachment rules his mien. His smiles come slowly in those first months, his taunts less friendly, a tongue that speaks meanly. It brings back memories of earlier days in their partnership, not all of them necessarily good. Better the devil you know, but Chloe doesn’t recognize this stranger who reigns with an iron fist and paranoid eye. Maze tells her tiredly, with a weariness that seems to confuse even herself, that this is who Lucifer is, what he must be, what he always was in Hell. Linda does her good doctor’s work at breaking down those walls, and Chloe tries not to resent that, tries not to hate it when she has to fight for him all over again when he was the one who left in the first place.

They find an uneasy balance three months in. She starts to see, in fragments and small motions, then in leaps and bounds, the pieces of the man she fell in love with. He’s not wholly that man anymore, she has to accept that, but she thinks of the days and the hours he was gone, the way she has changed so dramatically from the person she was when she first knew him. When she is honest with herself, she wonders how much of the woman he fell in love with is still there, too.

One night, they stand out on his balcony when the moon is absent and the sky dark as velvet. She utters again the words she confessed in a moment that seems so far away it may as well have been another lifetime, but still, they are true. When nothing else has persisted, this she has promised herself would.

“You need to understand,” he tells her quietly, “even with the deal I cut with my father…Hell still needs a king. My presence is necessary to keep them in line. Things cannot return to the way they were.”

“You deserve better than that,” he tells her.

“A lot has changed,” he tells her.

But she has, too.

------

They take things slow, even as everything in her screams to go hurtling forward, feeling the waste of each precious second that passes by them. Everything between them now is scary and new; she is all too aware of the hundred missteps and stumbles in their history. If it is to happen, it has to be done carefully and organically, as close to perfect as can be achieved.

The tension comes to a head five weeks in at Linda’s holiday party.

He arrives to pick her up at six, knocking on her door carefully, the way he does now, smiling faintly when she opens it, only halfway to being dressed, her hands full of hair she has not finished styling, a run already showing in her left stocking from where she caught it on the bed. Lucifer takes her in from bare feet to loosely tied robe with one long look, then grins.

“Are we to be fashionably late, darling?”

She glares at him, pressing her mouth into a thin line.

“Call Linda and tell her we’re going to be late while I’m finishing up,” she snips, pulling him in and kicking the door closed behind him. She catches herself a moment later, gentling her tone to add, “Please.”

He nods absently, gliding into her kitchen and immediately heading for the cupboard where he knows she keeps the whiskey. She rolls her eyes as he pours himself a tumbler but feels no compulsion to chide. There is comfort in the familiarity of his vices.

He empties half of it, then inclines his head toward her. “Late day in the office?”

Deflating, she nods. “Double homicide. No leads except for a witness who couldn’t even give us a facial sketch. Forensics is combing through the evidence now, but…”

She sighs, letting her hair down out of the bun and shaking it out. “I shouldn’t complain. We just had such a great close rate working together…I guess I forgot some cases don’t get solved.”

Lucifer studies his glass, running his finger around the rim. “Do you have the names of the two victims?”

“Yes?” Raising an eyebrow, she cuts a glance at him. “Why?”

Keeping his eyes down, he answers casually. “Give them to me. I’ll….let’s say, ask around when I get back to Hell.”

She falters. Hell isn’t an easy subject to broach between them.

“You would do that for me?”

“Of course, love.”

She comes to him, stepping into the circle of his warmth. Resting her hands on his shoulders, she smooths down the perfect, crisp lines of his white shirt. From this angle, she can see the burgundy lining of his charcoal grey suit matches the handkerchief he chose, and it makes her smile, charmed by all of his tidy vanities. How strange he is, this devil of myth and legend, a man who snuck like a thief in the night through the door she never realized she left open - but then, how strange it is to exist at all, the only miracle God ever saw fit to put to earth.

She moves to cup his face and kisses him tenderly, unresistant when he pulls her closer for one deeper, more passionate. His mouth tastes of whiskey and smoke, the heavy, rich notes that make him; the kiss is long and so very sweet, an uncommon ambrosia. When he finally releases her, she’s a little breathless, enough so that she allows the knowing smirk that follows.

Patting his shoulder, she gently disengages. “Let me finish getting ready and we’ll go.”

Chloe hurries through the rest of her routine but takes her time selecting a new dress. The velvet green number had been her intended, but the magic of his kiss is still with her, making her feel bolder, freer. Diving into the depths of her closet, she pulls out a shimmery black dress, fitted, a relic of time when she thought moving forward could ever be accomplished without him. This particular number never saw the light of the day, but what better time than the present? It is a new year, after all.

Lucifer is on his second or third glass of whiskey when she comes down the stairs, and she can tell the moment he notices her by the way his gaze fixes on her, hungry and intent. His throat works as he swallows.

At the bottom, she makes a sweeping gesture, turning a little for him. “Well, how do I look?”

He finds his voice, clearing his throat. “Beautiful – as always.”

“I figured you’d be the life of the party, so I better look the part.”

“Darling, no one in the room could possibly compare.”

If she blushes, he does not comment on it; instead, he sets his glass in the sink and comes around to meet her. He offers an arm.

“Shall we be off, then?”

“We shall,” she says with a grin, threading her arm through his.

They drive together in the corvette he left her, hardly even complaining when she refuses to go more than five miles over the speed limit, though he shifts restlessly next to her. She fills him in on her latest cases, the hard walls she’s coming up against with a new, official partner who is too green to have enough experience to compensate for lesser instincts – and who is frankly trying to fill impossibly large shoes. Every so often he interjects with his usual jokes and teasing, but occasionally there are thoughtful suggestions, prodding questions; it feels enough like old times that she eventually dares to let a hand off the wheel and wrap it one of his. The action makes him smile, and he tightens his hold on her, not letting go until they arrive at the house – if a twelve million dollar beachfront property can be called a “house.”

“I can’t believe you left her a summer home worth more than my entire apartment complex,” she gripes, pulling the car into the massive driveway.

Lucifer shrugs. “I think the doctor more than earned it, wouldn’t you say?”

She snorts. “At least it isn’t the one you used for a kidnapping.”

“Would you have preferred that one over the corvette, love?”

“Hilarious.”

The walk to the door arm and arm, Lucifer carrying a bottle of champagne likely worth more than she makes in a month. Linda greets them both with a huge smile that deepens the stress lines around her eyes, and Chloe tries not to laugh at the way Lucifer leans dramatically over her to embrace her with one arm. He will always be her favorite patient, Linda had confessed to her once over margaritas, and Chloe can hardly imagine that’s changed after he saved her son’s life.

Linda ushers them into the main room, which is an amusing nexus of neutral holiday ornamentation and gold and white accents, lights woven intricately through the chandeliers. It would be gaudy with a less restrained hand, but like her favorite patient, she is a woman of wealth and taste. Of course, it helps that she has a live-in partner who can fly.

The party is full of faces both novel and familiar, a testament to the remarkable breadth and insanity of Linda’s life. They make a careful couple’s round of the party, greeting old friends and meeting new ones, Lucifer doing the bulk of the charming extroversion. She keeps her hand tucked in the crook of his arm or clasped in his, a lifeline she is shy to be rid of after searching for it so long. Not that it seems to bother him, the warmth of him solid at her side.

Ella finds them eventually, greeting them with her unique brand of effervescent gaiety, hugging them each in turn. Chloe matches her cheer with a warm smile, returning the embrace fondly. Lucifer handles the one she offers next with grace, gently encircling her with an arm. There was a time after he had returned where he could hardly bear the touch of a hand. She warms at the thought of how far he has come.

They trail behind her as she leads them to their little tribe, chattering a mile a minute about her new position, a lab supervisor in the next district over, one of many changes with which Chloe is still grappling. The sound of Ella’s voice is a comfort less common these days, and she smiles ruefully, leaning into Lucifer, reminded again of all the small ways of time slips by and through them, an endlessly moving series of changes that inevitably changes them. Even Lucifer, filled with the weight of eons, has not managed to escape it.

But they have these moments, she thinks, sliding into the seat next to Lucifer at the table, and they have each other. She drops a hand to his thigh, resting it there, enjoying the solid warmth of him. The slight smile he grants her in acknowledgement is a secret just for her.

They spend the hour with laughter and the good tidings of a new year approaching. Charlie is almost three now, dark-eyed and curious, squirming his way out of his father’s arms; he babbles happily in a toddler’s slurry of excited observations, something that makes Lucifer roll his eyes in exasperation and Chloe smile nostalgically, thinking of a time when her own daughter was small enough to hold.

Around eight, Amenadiel takes his leave to put Charlie down for the night. Soon after, Linda finally joins them, bringing out the champagne and news of Maze and Eve raising hell across the geometric spread of middle America, on the tail of a bounty that has kept one step ahead of them in the two weeks since they left L.A. in pursuit.

“I’d say I was concerned, but knowing Maze, she’s having the time of her life,” Chloe says dryly.

“There are enough Hell loops featuring simulacrums of those banal little enclaves and their pedestrian evils that I imagine she’ll feel right at home,” Lucifer adds blithely, taking a long drink from his flask.

“She’s been insisting on teaching Charlie knives for months now, but I at least managed to talk her into waiting until he has basic reflexes down.” Linda lets out a slightly shrill laugh. “Demons have some very interesting ideas about child development. But then, so do some angels I know.”

She takes a large sip of champagne, cutting a glance at Chloe, who gives her a commiserating smile around the rim of her own glass. Last week, Dan had thrown a fit when he found out Trixie had a two million dollar trust fund coming her way at eighteen. She was still mediating that one.

Pivoting around in her chair, Linda gives them both a warm smile, resting her chin on a hand. “It’s good to see you two out again. I was getting a little worried you wouldn’t show until Lucifer’s call.”

Chloe raises a guilty hand. “That was my fault. I got held up with forensics. New guy is good, but he has a backlog longer than my forearm to get through. I’m still waiting for the rest of his findings before I can even begin finishing today’s report, much less file it.”

She shares a look with Ella, who rolls her eye and mouths amateurs in a stage whisper, which prompts them both to laugh.

“I won’t lie - I miss you guys so much, but it was pretty hard to give up that sweet twenty g raise they offered for the supervisor position. Now I’ve got a bathtub big enough for Margaret and a friend.”

“Sounds like you have yourself a regular hen party, Miss Lopez,” Lucifer quips, his mouth pulling into a grin.

Rolling her eyes, Chloe elbows him. He glances at her slyly in response.

“Well, somebody has to party, considering I hardly see you guys anymore!” Ella pulls a long face, holding her glass up sadly. “Pour one out for the good times, fam. Only the dark days lie ahead.”

“I don’t know they were all that great,” Chloe points out dyly. “Most of the bars we hit were full of balding divorcés or guys asking if everything about me had aged like ‘fine wine.’”

She feels Lucifer shift a little in his seat, tittering, and gently bumps her knee against his in warning. Chloe can already imagine what he has to say about a good vintage.

“Oh come on, some of them were decent,” Ella says with a grin. “I know you liked the guy from the tiki bar downtown. What was his name - Ryan?”

“Richard. He was nice,” Chloe answers, examining a smudge on her glass closely.

“That walk of shame you did the day after would say more than nice,” she teases. “Nobody goes into work the next morning wearing the same outfit unless they had a good time.”

“Ella,” she chides. She can feel the heat of a blush forming on her cheeks.

“All right, all right,” she says with a grin. Chloe gets two seconds of peace before Ella takes a swig of her beer, then adds innocently, “Andrew the yoga instructor was pretty nice, as well, I bet. Real flexible guy."

She groans and covers her face, trying not to notice the look Lucifer casts her way. The amused smirk that follows feels almost like a reprimand.

She wants to crawl under the table and die.

“A lot has changed in the last few years,” Linda says, interjecting smoothly. “Sometimes we try new things to help coalesce our ideas of what we really want.”

Chloe grabs the lifeline gratefully. “I may have gone in a few circles getting there, but I’m happy where I ended up.”

Feeling Lucifer tense beneath her hand, she gives him a small rub. It doesn’t soothe; he shifts restlessly, fiddling with his flask.

“Well, I’m glad somebody is,” Ella says. “You guys know I’m always and forever Team Deckerstar, but this lady? No such good luck. Between moving and all the overtime, it’s been dryer than a bone in the Sahara over here.”

Linda snorts hard enough to spray champagne, and Chloe laughs. When she looks at Lucifer, his smile is bright and fond.

“There’s a reason everybody I’ve dated after joining the force I’ve met through work,” Chloe commiserates. “It’s just the nature of the job.”

“If you think that’s hard, try being fifty with a toddler. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m considering online dating,” Linda admits.

“Most men turn tail at the first sign of a kid,” Chloe agrees grimly.

“You can hardly blame them. The deplorable malcontents hardly contribute anything of value while being the most inexorably taxing little burdens,” Lucifer observes with a grimace. “Your offspring are the exception not the rule, but Charlie still has to overcome the remarkable handicap of having my dullard of a brother as a sire.”

“Lucifer!”

Chloe glares at him. Ella just cackles.

“Well, it’s true.”

“Well, speaking of your brother….” Ella turns her attention on Linda with a grin.

The good doctor seems to realize she’s in trouble right as the rest of the table does, and Chloe hides her smile as Linda’s eyes widen.

“No. Absolutely not - no, no, no. Those days are long over.”

“You mean you’ve got a guy that good looking in your house, and you aren’t even taking advantage of it?”

“Amenadiel and I are cohabitating parents - “

“Detective,” Lucifer murmurs quietly to her.

Chloe turns her attention to him with a faint smile, entertained by Linda and Ella’s banter. She frowns at the expression on his face. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he assures her, “though discussion of whether the good doctor is still playing doctor with my brother is hardly what I’d call riveting. Pardon me for the moment while I take care of something.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Certainly. No cause for fuss, darling.”

“If you say so.” She leans in, kissing his cheek, trying not to let her concern show on her face. Something in his mien seems unsettled, but then, his responsibilities these days are much larger than whether more than one Brittany has stubbed a toe.

Smiling tightly, he takes his leave, grabbing his jacket off the chair and swanning away through the rest of the party, a tightness threaded through his shoulders. She frowns but forces her attention back to Ella and Linda, knowing Lucifer will talk when he’s ready. Trying to force it out of him before that point is like trying to squeeze blood from stone.

She lasts ten minutes.

Eight minutes in, she fires off a text asking if he’s all right.

Two minutes later, Ella is just beginning to list off to Linda the benefits of turning a stay at home father into a boytoy when restlessness drives her out of her seat. Lucifer was stubborn, but so was she, and she hadn’t pined for two years to have him run off again and give her the silent treatment.

Excusing herself, she makes her way through the party, picking through the thinning crowd of Linda’s friends and associates. Fortunately, Lucifer is not one to blend into a crowd; basic interrogation manages to yield enough information to track his movements. She follows the directions of Linda’s daycare friends up the grand staircase to the first flight, where the house expands into a broad hallway of honey-colored wooden floors and crisp white doorways, all lit by the warm ambiance of gold sconces.

Maybe she should ask for the kidnapping house, she thinks.

“Lucifer?”

She trusts him that he wouldn’t leave without her but not so much to avoid trouble on her watch. Maybe he was expecting a call from Lux about - well, she thinks, no point in being dishonest. Drugs, most likely. Or a favor needs called in. Lucifer is full of mysteries older than time; she no longer pretends she can parse them so easily all at once.

She makes her way down the corridor, accompanied only by the click of her heels. The sound of the party is distant now, and she listens for his voice, frowning when she sees the guest bathroom is left open. None of the other doors yield anything, and she sighs, making her way back to the stairwell and up the next flight.

At least it doesn’t take her long there - thankfully, since the climb leaves her flushed and tired. She calls out his name again to no answer, then sighs as she pushes forward to find him. A niggling sense of anxiety gnaws at her belly.

Finally, three doors to the right of the stairwell, she finds a door tightly shut in an area that is otherwise mainly left open. Stepping closer to the door, she pauses, hearing the rustling of movement. She bites her cheek, both amused and annoyed at what mischief he’s managed to get up to in so little time, and knocks.

The rustling stops.

“Occupied,” a voice bites out, but it is definitely his.

Chloe frowns. There’s tension in his tone, which verifies her suspicions all was not well.

“Lucifer? Are you alright?”

“Detective? I -Chloe, I’m fine. Promise.” A pause, then a strained laugh. “You came looking for me?”

“You didn’t answer my text,” she accuses, then softens. “I was worried.”

“I was otherwise engaged. Now, if you would just head downstairs, I’ll be down in just a moment - “

She places her hand on the doorknob, testing it, surprised when it easily turns. Unlocked then, which means -

Boldly, she pushes it open, slipping inside.

“For fuck’s sake,” he snaps, yanking his trousers shut and whirling around. He takes her in with an exasperated huff. “Chloe?”

For a long moment, they take each other in, one disaster to another. His hair is mussed, strands falling free of the styling. His pants are held up only by one hand, shirt untucked, and his erection is all too evident, straining against his slacks. She looks downright distinguished next to him right now.

Slowly, she turns around, closing the door behind her, locking it firmly. When she turns back around, his cheeks are flushed with anger and…other things.

She can’t help it; she starts to laugh.

“Detective,” he pleads, in a tone that sounds dangerously close to whining.

But she can’t stop. The laughter boils out of her helplessly, a wellspring of emotion. Bracing herself against the vanity, she shakes with it, her whole body convulsing with trembling, delighted glee.

“Did – did you – “ She pauses, trying to catch her breath. “Did you really leave me down there alone so you could come up here and jerk off?”

He shifts uncomfortably, shuffling from his right foot to his left. He looks the closest to embarrassment she has ever seen, and it sends her into another fit of laughter.

Tapping his finger on the marble, he looks at her impatiently. “Are you quite finished?”

Taking a deep breath, she forces herself to quiet. “I’m sorry. It’s just - ”

She comes closer to him, close enough to feel the magnetic pull of his presence. The mirth falls from her features, her face growing serious. “I thought you were upset about what Ella said.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear about it, but I didn’t expect you to sit around like a weeping nun for two years, either.” Pushing his hair back with a free hand, he blew out a breath. “I suppose it’s too much to ask you to pop off so I can finish popping this one off?”

Humming low in her throat, filled with an energy sudden and bold, she moves closer, resting her hands on his chest. The touch is light as air, but he jerks reflexively under her hands, sucking in a breath.

“What were you thinking about?”

"What was I - what do you bloody think? You, of course." He makes a gesture with his free hand at the whole of her, frustrated. "We're 'taking it slow,' and then you come downstairs looking like that, and I'm - what? Meant to behave myself?" He lets a little of his old grin sneak across his face. "When have I ever done that?"

"Never that I've known." She smiles back at him, catching her nail on a button. "And I wouldn't want you to."

Leaning into him, she presses a quick peck to the corner of his mouth, then slides a hand down to his waistline. She looks up at him, quirking a brow.

"May I?"

He hesitates for what she thinks has to be the first time approaching anything erotic. For as long as she lives, she will always wonder what it is about her that makes him question himself.

“Go ahead,” she says softly. “Ask me.”

“Chloe…”

“Do it. I promise I won’t tease.”

He fidgets, then looks at her earnestly. "Is it...what you desire?"

She looks at him. "More than anything I've ever wanted."

His breath comes out of him in a huff. "Please."

Grinning, she slips a hand down, pushing his hand aside; his trousers fall open, revealing him hard and wanting. She bites her lip, pleased. It's a nice cock, she thinks, which is really just icing on the cake because, most importantly, it's his. Hours of fantasizing hardly hold up to the pleasure of the solid reality, the way he sucks in a breath when she finally wraps a hand around him, then groans as she gives an experimental stroke up and down.

"Chloe," he rasps.

She tightens her grip incrementally, then runs her hand up his length again, pausing to run her thumb over the glans. His hips buck helplessly.

"Yes?"

He laughs a little. "Won't we be missed at the party?"

"Hmm, maybe. I prefer the company here."

Pressing up against, she wraps her hand around him and begins to pump in earnest, moving faster. Lucifer leans into the counter, his breathing hastening as hips start to follow her movement.

"Is my hand too dry?"

"No, it's fine," he murmurs, pressing a kiss to her hair.

Fine isn't good enough. He makes a sound of confusion as she retracts her hand, but she smiles up at him prettily, raising it to her face. Slowly, she runs her tongue up her palm, wetting it, before sucking each finger into her mouth, letting her tongue curl around them, never letting her eyes fall from his.

His breath is shaky by the time she is done, and the sound he makes when she returns her hand to him makes her thighs clench. Feeling the heft of him is better than any dream or fantasy; it makes anticipation burn in her belly knowing it won't be long before they can make all of them real.

"Better?"

He groans and nods, then leans forward to cup her face and kiss her, a tongue slipping into her mouth, warm and slick. When he pulls away, she's a little breathless herself.

"I thought of this," she says in a rush, darting her tongue out to lick her bottom lip.

"Did you now?"

"All the time," she answers truthfully. "Even before...well." She blushes a little at the admission. "For a lot longer than I'd like to admit."

"I'm disappointed in you, Detective, I'd have hoped you knew me well enough that your fantasies would include something more exciting than a good wank."

"Oh, don't worry," she says, giving him a hard tug that makes him gasp, grinning at the way moisture gathers at the tip of his cock. "I don't think there's any way I haven't thought about you."

"Chloe..." He brings up his arms shakily, grabbing her shoulders. "I need - let me touch you."

Releasing him, she steps back, and it is all the invitation he needs before he is on her, dragging her into the broad circle of his arms. He kisses her roughly on the mouth, drawing her bottom lip out between his teeth, fisting one hand in her hair while the other travels down to her breast, thumbing the nipple through the thin fabric. Pulling back, he trails his nose along the fine curve of her neck, pressing a kiss to her collarbone. The hand on her breast lingers for a moment, fondling her, before it finally slips down, tracing the curve of her waist and down her thigh, before it stops at the hem of her dress. Carefully, he tugs the skirt up, revealing the lacy edge of a thigh high, a sight that makes the air burst out of him in a laugh, then he kisses her again as his hand travels up her inner thigh. Chloe can feel her breaths coming faster with excitement, knowing that he’s about to find –

“You little minx.”

He groans and pulls back to look at her, a smirk playing at his lips as he finds her bare. His fingers gently stroke through the short, neatly trimmed hair of her vulva, playing at the slit. When they slide further down, she knows he can feel that she is already wet.

“Thinking of me, were you?”

“Always,” she answers with a sigh.

Abruptly, he removes her hand, and she whimpers, but a moment later she feels his hands on her upper thighs, hoisting her up on the vanity. He yanks her dress up, all of the graceful seduction of his earlier movement gone. She giggles, which is cut short as he kisses her hungrily. Leaning back slightly on her hands, she spreads her legs slightly, an invitation he answers immediately as his hand returns to her sex, this time homing in the place she wants it most. Her whole body jerks as his thumb finds her clit, the tension thrumming through her making her painfully sensitive. She presses into his touch anyway.

“Lucifer,” she gasps into his mouth, “I want to – “

Words are pointless. Snaking a hand down, she nudges his fingers aside. He breaks their kiss to watch as she uses the interruption to touch herself, rubbing her fingers through her own slickness, then looks to him as she removes it in preference of grabbing his cock. The sound he makes is half groan, half whimper, and it sends a surge of electric pleasure straight to her clit, which Lucifer helps along by returning his hand to her. For a few moments, there is only the sound of their heated breaths, the movement of skin on skin.

“Did you – “ She stops, gasping as he shifts his hands to press two fingers against her entrance, rubbing gentle circles while his thumb maintains a steady pressure against her clit. Her tongue curls against the roof of her mouth in delight.

“Did I what?” he drawls as his lips brush against the shell of her ear.

“Think of me,” she forces out, tightening her grip on him in retaliation. “When you did this?”

He laughs out loud, jostling both of them. The smile rises easily as he lifts his head to look at her. “Darling, it would be easier to count the times I didn’t think of you when wanking.”

“Me too,” she whispers, then kisses him. Changing the angle of her grip, she moves in longer strokes, letting her fingers rub over the head. The movement is rewarded with the jerk of his hips as he thrusts helplessly into her hand.

He pulls his mouth away from hers abruptly. The softness in his eyes had dispersed, replaced by something sharply heated. His other hand comes up to yank down the strap of her dress, low enough to free a breast. He cups it, rolling the peaked nipple against his palm before pinching it gently.

Chloe licks her lips, rolling her hips into his touch. “When was the first time you touched yourself thinking of me?”

Seeing the shark’s grin before he answers, she stops him with a kiss. “Jerking it to that stupid movie doesn’t count. I mean, when’s the first time you thought about me while doing it.”

“Remember when you sought me out after Jimmy Barnes? Your little night of ‘secret’ surveillance?”

“I didn’t realize I had such an effect on you,” she snorts.

“Well I had to do something after you left me there unsatisfied. Got me all wound up and then hung me out to dry. I’m not made of bloody stone.”

“Neither am I,” she says softly.

“And you?” He kisses hard, drawing her lip out with teeth. “What did you think about, all those lonely nights without me?”

Pulling back a little, he lightens the touch of his fingertips, teasing painfully. She groans, trying to push into his touch.

“The penthouse,” she finally gets out. “I used to watch you play and think about your hands.”

“What about them?” he asks with a grin, kissing her gently.

“Your fingers - inside me. And your mouth,” she says with a sigh. “I wanted you to eat me out on the piano.”

“That can still be arranged,” he promises, kissing his way down her neck. He must feel magnanimous, because he finally slips a finger into her, sliding sweet and slick between her thighs; he adds a second when she whimpers for more.

“What was the first time?” he asks a little breathlessly, eyes fixed where his hand works her.

“The one case after – the wife killed him for the charity money,” she says, breaking off in a groan when his fingers curl up just right inside her, finding her g-spot.

“The philandering philanthropist? Goodness, darling, you’ve been pining for me this entire time?” He speeds up the motion of his hand.

She laughs a little; his ego really is incorrigible. It’s practically a civic duty to knock it down a peg.

“We could’ve been doing a lot more than pining if not for your stunt in Vegas.”

Lucifer’s expression sobers a little, and he drops a kiss to her shoulder, his fingers slowing to a pace that is pleasing but just outside of satisfying.

“I know,” he says quietly, “but I – “

“We weren’t ready,” she murmurs, “but I’m definitely ready now.”

She flexes her hips, urging his hand faster again. He acquiesces with a sigh, nibbling at her collarbone, before trailing his mouth down to latch on to her exposed nipple. His free hand works her other sleeve down, then immediately cups the breast it bares. Chloe moans, overwhelmed at the feel of him, the way no part of him remains idle. She can feel it building now, a hot ache that makes her keen, a sound that surprises even her, years of forced stealth and a quiet tongue undone by his touch. Her hand comes up to tangle in his hair, keeping him at her breast, her own grip on him faltering as her thighs tremble.

The orgasm still manages to sneak up on her, surfacing with a force that makes her whimper and gasp, hips rocking helplessly against him. Even here, he is relentless, slowing his pace but forcing her to ride the feel of penetration through her orgasm as she clenches around his fingers. It lasts for long seconds, helped along by the occasional swipe of his thumb, which topples her over wave after wave with crashing force. By the time her body finally descends from its calescent high, she is trembling.

He releases her nipple with a wet pop and a grin, rising to kiss her neck. She laughs unsteadily as he eases his fingers out of her. There is something wild and fierce in his gaze when he pulls back to catch her eye; he makes her watch as he sucks his fingers into his mouth, savoring the taste of her. Her breath stutters, all of her still tingling with the electric edge of pleasure, and he uses her pause to kiss her thoroughly.

Belatedly, she realizes he’s still hard in her hand. Closing her fist, she gives him an experimental stroke, which makes him break his kiss with a sigh.

“I’m sorry, let me – “

“Anything you desire, love.”

She jerks him off for a few seconds, enjoying the way he follows the motion of her hand, thrusting into the warm circle of her palm and fingers. It isn’t enough, though.

“I want – “

Her voice catches, feeling the boldness of her next statement, the vertigo of the line she’s about to hurtle them both over, but she knows they have waited long enough. All of her impossible dreams are just that; there will never be a perfect time, a perfect place, a perfect moment.

“I want you to fuck me,” she says in a rush.

The admission forces a moan out of him, and he gives a quick, hard kiss, before murmuring desperately against her lips, “Are you certain? It shouldn’t – you deserve – “

“I don’t care what you think I deserve. I just want you,” she says between fierce, tiny kisses.

He laughs breathlessly, then disengages long enough to shake off his jacket. She works on the buttons of the shirt as he retrieves something from a pocket before he tosses it to the floor, sucking in a breath when she realizes it’s a condom. The tangibility of the moment hits her hard, a hot ache in her belly; this is finally happening. They are happening. She finishes undoing his shirt, then leans back, her legs splaying slightly.

Watching him excites her. They share a kind of frenetic, giddy laughter as he rips open the package with his teeth and goes to put it on with practiced ease. Arousal warms her, clit throbbing almost painfully. Taking in a shuddering breath, she slides a hand down, touching herself. It’s almost embarrassing, how wet she is for him.

Finished, he looks at her with a half-smile, the same curious and uncommon uncertainty she saw earlier.

“Chloe,” he says softly, and her name from his lips has never sounded so sweet.

Using her other hand brace herself, Chloe leans back, spreading her legs invitingly, letting him watch her masturbate for a moment. She can hear his breath quicken, and somehow that is almost enough to do it for her on its own.

“Well, don’t leave me hanging,” she teases, gently pinching her own clit between happy, nimble fingers.

This time, there is no hesitation when he comes to her, pulling her tight against him for a hard, thorough kiss. Lucifer’s hand slides down her thigh and under, hooking it over his arm, while she instinctively throws the other around his waist, and even though it has been nearly a year, her body embraces him easily.

When he pushes into her, every thought in her head comes to a jumbling, chaotic halt. A moan punches its way out of her throat, and her hands scrabble for leverage, coming up around his shoulders to grip him tightly. Already, she can feel herself beginning to clench around him; just the feel of him is almost enough.

It’s so good. They are so good together.

“You’re so wet for me,” he murmurs smugly, and goddamn him, she can’t argue the point, so she kisses him to shut him up.

The pace he sets is brisk and sharp, leaving her no space to breathe. He isn’t gentle - maybe he’s too far gone to be. His free hand comes up and fists her hair, pulling her head back so he can bite at her neck, which is quickly soothed over with his tongue. She gasps and arches into him, her breasts rubbing against his chest, the peaked nipples wonderfully sensitive. Pressed this tightly against him, his pubic bone strikes her clit with every thrust, sending a sweet burst of ecstatic energy through her each time, edging her closer and closer to climax.

Lucifer abruptly releases her hair, grabbing at her thigh to hoist her other leg up. He opens her wide to him, his thrusts increasing in intensity, his breaths loud and ragged. He isn’t a quiet lover, not by any measure; he encourages her own satisfaction along with his, groaning and gasping and murmuring praises in her ear. It drags sounds of her that would embarrass her if she still had the mind to care.

Her second orgasm crashes into her ferociously. She muffles her cries in his shoulder as he fucks her through it, her whole body alit with the intensity of it. Clutching at him desperately, she pushes and pulls and writhes against him, a whole body of want, senseless and free.

“Are you going to come?” she asks breathlessly, wanting the same for him.

“Chloe, I - ” he breaks off with a moan, and she can tell he is close. Tightening her legs around him, she pulls him deeper, letting him feel every inch of her hot and wet for him.

He comes with a gasp, hips stuttering, their rhythm faltering as he finishes in a series of jagged, shallow thrusts. His wings manifest explosively, startling them both; they crowd the bathroom, knocking the towel rack over. She laughs as she holds him through it, her face pressed into his neck, until he comes to a final, shuddering stop, his hips making tiny motions through the aftershocks.

They linger for a long moment in that firm embrace, reluctant to let go, until their trembling subsides and his wings flag, relaxing around them. He noses her shoulder, pressing a kiss to the skin there. She feels the rumble of his laughter a few seconds later.

Stroking a hand through his hair, she asks fondly, “What’s so funny?”

“We made quite the mess,” he murmurs into her neck, kissing her there, before pulling back to look at her fondly. “I’m not certain you’re getting out of this unscathed.”

“Let them talk,” she says with a shrug.

Mischief sparkles in his eyes, the edges crinkling with his smile. His hands come up to cup her face, thumb stroking her lip. She kisses the pad of his thumb, swiping at it gently with her tongue. It warms the heat in his expression to flame.

Chloe thinks of all of the moments that led up to this, all of the time spent aching in the quiet solitude of her impossible yearning. All of the missed chances, unspoken words, moments wasted. The way they needed time and distance to find each other again. Nothing she imagined could possibly have compared.

Lucifer strokes her hair, pushing it out of her face, a tenderness in his touch she may never fully understand or even deserve.

“I admit this isn’t quite how I imagined it going.” His smile turns rueful. “I hope it was everything you desired.”

“It was,” she says, kissing his nose. Chloe wraps herself around him, burying her fingers in his feathers, warm and light as air.

“It was perfect.”