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Masquerade

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Masquerade

“It’s a bit like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ but in reverse, whereas she gets the sort of prince version of Lucifer…then the real version of Lucifer is the ugly beast version.”

---Tom Ellis

**

Chloe didn't know what to do.

If she were being honest with herself, she'd felt that way for months. Ever since she'd seen Lucifer's real face and fled to Rome and then her mistake with Kinley, she'd been completely out of her depth. She understood facts, figures, and fitting the physical evidence of a crime together. She was an atheist---now was that a joke or what---and now she'd been struggling for months to understand that not only were heaven and hell real, but that the Devil was her consultant. 

Her friend.

And even now, despite everything, the man she loved.

But she wasn't made to deal with these kind of crises, and she had no idea about angels and demons or curses or prophesies. Right now, their big problem was that evil was being released, and sure, they could get to Kinley now that the cops had escorted their killer away. It would be tricky to hunt the man down but not impossible. She just didn't know if the old priest actually had any information to help them. In her heart, she hoped he did. But if it was a prophesy, wasn't it preordained to happen. Like, if Lucifer's father (God and still wrapping her head around that) ordered that evil be unleashed through Lucifer, was there anyway to fight it?

Chloe sighed and tapped her heel on the tile of the apartment floor. ''Lucifer, we have to get to the car. I know your mojo is going crazy, but Lux has cleared out by now and it's late so maybe if i take back roads, then we'll luck out and won't have to worry about other drivers. Or you affecting them. We really have to go.''

There was no noise for a long time from the other room. Anxious, Chloe checked her phone. He'd been back in his bedroom for the better part of twenty minutes, and she knew how criminals worked. Kinley with his cold blooded schemes, certainly qualified as one. Kinley was on the run, and the old priest would make the most of his time. They needed to move to have a hope of catching him. It was a thin lead, but it was the only lead they had. Lucifer just had to focus. If they got this fixed, he could have an existential freakout later.

''Lucifer, I'm coming up,'' she said. Chloe took a deep, steadying breath and climbed the stairs. At first, she thought Lucifer was instead in his bathroom because his bedroom was dark. But then she noticed it, the silohuette of something in the far corner by the window, just enough light from the stars (even with the light pollution of L.A.) to make it out. At first, she'd assumed it was Lucifer, but then it had to be something else. Maybe a wardrobe or a coat rack, something with cloth or something broad hanging from it.

Chloe was rationalizing this all to herself even as a creeping dread of how far Lucifer's changes were going, when he spoke. 

And when he did, his voice was a low rumble that she did not recognize.

''Detective, I can't go.''

''Oh, so you are here,'' she said. Chloe couldn't help the sarcasm that worked its way into her tone. It was frustrating to be doing everything she could for him, and to have him make it even harder to track down Kinley. She understood he was upset. But they were running out of time to pick up the trail. ''We have to do this. If we can catch Kinley---''

''It's too late,'' he said, and his voice almost sounded like a low growl, a throaty bass that made her bones seem to vibrate.

The small, animal part of her mind that sensed danger was going bonkers as it had back in the loft almost a year ago. The rest of her was done with that. She was done with the circling each other and the hiding around everything and almost losing him. Not that she had any right to expect to be back together with him, but Chloe had watched him swoon over Eve and make a good couple in their way. She had a shot back, and maybe she didn't know everything about the paranormal. Less about the Celestial. But she was willing to learn.

She loved him, and she wasn't running this time.

''It's not. Kinley knows the most about the prophecy, so this has to work.''

The sheets or whatever it was he was hiding under, that had obscured him at first, seemed to flutter in the wind. And then he shuffled toward the wall. Chloe blinked at the light assaulting her eyes when he flipped a switch on the wall. Then, when she opened her eyes, she gaped back at him, her hands coming to her mouth in her shock.

''Oh Lucifer.''

He stilled then and the great wings that he'd grown curled as tightly as they could against his back. Lucifer seemed both taller and broader, his chest and torso a mass of burns that matched that on his face and hands. His wings were exactly as she'd always thought the Devil's would be---huge things with black, leathery skin and bat-like claws. He stood before her with red eyes gleaming and breathing heavily. Years of dealing with victims and taking witness statements filled in for her logical mind what she was actually seeing. Lucifer was panicking and about to hyperventilate. She couldn't blame him. 

A significant part of her was scared, just as she had been in the loft. He wasn't trying to hurt her. By now, Chloe knew he never would, that he'd take any harm on himself for both her and Trixie's sakes. He'd proven that recently with Ponyboy and the thugs who'd almost killed her child. But it was hard for a minute to chew stupid, long ingrained instincts back. Yes, this looked bad, but he was still her Lucifer under there, and he was drowning. She had to help pull him back. 

As long as they got to Kinley. As long as they undid the steps of the prophecy, then they could undo this.

''Go,'' he said, seeming to mistake her shock for fear. ''My wings won't go in. I'm just going to be like this now, and there's no point. I can't do anything like this. I can't leave here at all without causing either a panic or a desire-infected stupor in the masses. Perhaps both. There is no point now; the prophecy is here and Father's will be done and all that.''

Chloe dropped her hands and shook her head at him. ''No, I don't settle for that. I...all of this started not because you found your first love and started the prophecy. It doesn't make any sense.''

''Father's plans and my life rarely do, Detective,'' he bit back acerbically. 

Chloe took a step forward and Lucifer pushed himself flat against his window. ''It's okay. It's not okay, I mean, but I'll figure this out. We'll fix it. We always get the clues right. We can do this. I'm not going anywhere.''

''You should,'' he said. ''You should run.'' He turned around to emphasize his point, and her jaw dropped at the massive, malformed boney spikes running down his spine. 

She snapped out of that faster than her first shock and hurried to him. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered but fixing this because between the burns and the spikes erupting from his body...how could this be anything but exquisitely painful. Chloe's hand grazed his back, where the skin met the bone of the spike and he flinched but didn't pull away. She figured it was more because they were in close confines and he was worried a sudden movement might cause a spine or wing claw to poke her than because he was having more trust in her. The way he shuddered under her touch indicated that he was still terrified she'd run.

That she'd be as loyal as almost a year ago.

But she knew now and they'd been through more together.

She reached out with her other hand and stroked at the back of Lucifer's arm, and she blinked away tears at the rough, scarred skin under her grasp. '''Are you in pain? This had to hurt, Lucifer.'' Chloe started to yank both hands back. ''You're so burned; am I making it worse?''

Lucifer stilled. ''Don't, please.''

Chloe stopped pulled her hands away and settled both on the planes of his back, still crying quietly over how wrecked he was. How was Lucifer not screaming in agony? ''I'm not hurting you, am I?''

''It didn't even hurt as it was happening, not even the wings. It feels better with your touch, Detective. Please don't take your hands away.''

Emboldened by at least knowing it didn't hurt him, Chloe stepped closer and traced again a section of his back where it gave way to a large, boney spike. She ran her fingers over the hard expanse of that spine and Lucifer didn't move, didn't react as if he'd felt it at all. Maybe he couldn't.

''Can you feel that?'' she asked, putting her second hand on the spike.

Lucifer frowned. ''I thought you weren't going to take your hands away.''

''I moved them. Oh.''

Lucifer did move away from her then and rounded to face her. ''What do you mean?''

Chloe looked up to the ceiling, just a small eye roll and directed a spare thought at God. Mostly just anger at Him for doing this to His son, although a small part, even now, was asking for strength. ''You have spikes; they're coming from your back. I thought they hurt you.''

His eyes dimmed and he hunched his shoulders up higher. ''I what?''

''Never mind. I just...we have to figure something out. You think this is the prophecy but what if it's not.''

''I don't understand. What else could it be?''

He was still rumbling, his answers still tinged with hysteria, but he was asking questions again and bouncing ideas off of her. This was working. They could think their way out of this. They had to

Chloe stepped closer and set her hand on his forearm. She wanted to cry at how raw and ruined it was, at how her brain and experience told her it had to be excruciating even though Lucifer, who never lied, swore he felt nothing. But she was here for him, and Chloe would keep showing that until he stopped hyperventilating. ''The prophecy could be real, sure.''

''They usually are, albeit in some twisted Rube Goldberg way where what you expect is never quite what you believe. It has to be.''

''But you found your first love or Eve or whatever you want to call her months ago. Nothing happened then. You broke up with her because you weren't in love with her and you knew you were leading her on. Now the evil is unleashed. It doesn't fit. So why now?''

''Because Dad has a sense of humor? I don't know!'' he shouted and his wings flared out behind him. It took everything Chloe had to shove her instincts away and not even flinch. ''Honestly, after my revelation with Linda, I was feeling better, like I was finally getting somewhere with all this bloody therapy.'''

Chloe nodded and her heart started to race again, not because she was scared but because that usual adrenaline was flowing through her when clues made sense and she was on a case. ''You realized you hated yourself.''

''And that's the end, isn't it? I sussed out my problem, and then I quit therapy with her. I have a deeper understanding of myself.'' Lucifer sighed, and his wings fell lower still behind him. ''I have far too much of it now.''

''It wasn't any prophecy, Lucifer. This is you. You're doing this.''

He pulled away from her and then brushed past her, heading awkwardly down his steps and to the wide expanse of his apartment. Lucifer let his wings out behind him and started to pace. Chloe followed after him and couldn't help but gape, couldn't stop herself from staring at him. His large figure so imposing, even as he did something so typically Lucifer. Her partner was hardly one to stay still under the best of times.

''It makes no bloody sense. I've never been like this, Detective. Never.''

She nodded. ''But for a while Amenadiel had no wings and grew them back on his own. You have never admitted something like this to Linda, have you?''

He kept pacing but glared at her again, eyes bright like rubies. She missed his usual ones so much, how soulful they were. ''Never. It finally came out in session. I could hardly understand it myself, and it was just out and open between us, and I knew it was the truth.''

''And less than twelve hours later you started changing. The self-hatred is the trigger, Lucifer. It was never about Eve.''

She hoped she was right. If this was emotional, somehow the most literally psychosomatic thing she'd ever seen, then they could deal with it far easier than an obscure prophecy. 

He stopped and turned toward her, his wings still stretched wide and their span had to be twenty feet at least. ''It is possible, but I don't see how that helps my situation at all.''

''Why?''

''Because I'm not sure why I hate myself; I just know that I do.''

Chloe breathed evenly but stayed in her corner of the room. Lucifer was already keyed up and she was a bit scared if she crowded him that he'd fly off from her and then they wouldn't be able to solve this. Fuck, if she startled him badly enough, would he run away to Hell?

She took in another deep breath, and then forced herself to stay calm. This was just another case to solve. They had to just follow the trail; that was what she could focus on currently.

"Lucifer," she started, her voice soothing and calm. "you thought you might get a clue about self hatred because of the case we were working, because you thought the twins wanted to hurt each other, that it was about killing your mirror image."

His eyes seemed to get brighter, to be incandescent in the night. "But that wasn't what happened."

"No, but why would you assume it did. Yes, the evidence at first looked bad for the other property sister, but that's not...you just jumped to that conclusion."

Lucifer's wings stretched wide, and she was terrified she'd pushed too far, and he was going to take off. But, eventually, he dropped his wings and started to put his head in his hands, at least until he noticed the claws erupting from his nail beds and let his hands fall limply to his side.

"I can't talk about it, Detective."

"You have to. I'm not Linda, but I'm the only one not affected by your mojo so I'm the only one who can do this for you. So, you have to tell me. Why did you assume that about the twins?"

He growled low, and she wasn't sure he even realized he was doing it. "Chloe, I can't."

Pay dirt.

Lucifer was so particular about titles and names. He only used her given one under very special circumstances. Lucifer wanted a lifeline; she knew it. He just needed to feel he could reach out to her. 

She eased her way over to him and set her hand over one of his. They were so much bigger like this, and she wanted to tear up at the waxy, burned skin there. It should have hurt him, and she hoped that her touch wasn't making this worse. He'd said...but it was scary to think he might be hurting more than just emotionally too.

"I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere."

His eyes dimmed, and they were clearly like a mood ring for him. "But you did leave. You went to Rome, and if I tell you more, you might go even farther."

"Not anymore. Not ever," she said, wrapping her fingers as best she could around his hand and giving it a squeeze. "I did my time running, Lucifer, and I got back and you had Eve, and I hated it. She's so nice, but I felt like I missed my shot and maybe I have, but I am still your friend and your partner, and I am not leaving you like this."

"But you won't see me the same way, Detective. I can promise you."

She offered him a small, sad smile. "I think I can see you many different ways."

Lucifer nodded but still stared at the shiny black lacquered floor beneath them. "I have a twin brother."

Of all the things Chloe expected to here tonight, that had been about dead last. No one had ever mentioned him. Not Lucifer and certainly not Amenadiel or even Charlotte Richards when, apparently, the goddess of all creation had infected her body. 

"I...you never said."

"We do not get along. He's a right proper prick, but he is still my twin. I..." he sighed. "sometimes it's hard being friends with someone who doesn't know scripture or lore. Michael is my twin brother, identical even just like this case."

She frowned. "I don't think I know any of the angels. I mean, I just...when I did look things up about you, I didn't focus on the heaven part first."

"Yes, because people forget I was an angel first." He took a great, shuddering breath and his wings flared behind him again, large and commanding in their way. "I know I forget it too, especially now. But yes, Michael---and I'm sure Daniel could fill you in on the Catholic take on him as he's the patron saint quite literally of cops---he's the one who struck the final blow and kicked me from heaven on Father's command."

She gaped at him. Again, she had researched the Fall. It had been almost everything she'd poured over in the Vatican's basement. But none of the versions she'd read involved Michael or had hinted that he was an identical twin for Lucifer.

"Really?"

"Well," Lucifer admitted finally forcing his gaze from the floor and to her. "Dad gave the order, but my twin followed it. As if the eons between us meant nothing. As I started to Fall, I panicked and I grabbed for him, wrenched at his wing before he pulled himself away. Except for a few times over the millennia that he and Amenadiel worked together to get me back to Hell from my holidays, I've not seen him."

"So you hate yourself because of your brother?"

Lucifer shook his head and, though his wings were pulled tightly to his back, he started to pace again. "I hate myself because Michael...he warned me the Rebellion wouldn't work, and I'd say I failed at it spectacularly. Some of my siblings---the ones who sided with me---were killed and the rest were damned as I was, rendered nothing more than demons when we landed. I can't help but think Mum wouldn't have been sent to Hell, that she could have stayed sane if I hadn't been kicked from the Silver City as well." He stopped and held up his hands, wincing again at the sight of his claws. "I wouldn't let anything drop, even if Dad...even if my Father was a bastard. And then I tore heaven asunder. I hate myself because everything I touch I ruin, and I've spent millennia never thinking about my family and how I failed them."

Chloe shook her head and rushed across to him. Before either of them knew what she was doing, she wrapped her arms around him and set her head against the twisted hollows and burnt scars of his chest. 

Lucifer tried to pull away, but she nuzzled her cheek against him.

"No, you don't get it at all. Do you?"

He stilled and she felt his hands on her back, just the tiniest hint of the impression of his claws on her shoulders. "Detective...Chloe, you have no obligation to be here any longer, let alone touch me. I can't fathom how horrifying I am to a mortal."

She snorted and held him tighter. "I think I'll live. But you don't...this is going to sound so simple."

"Well, I can't expect any mortal, even as hard as Linda tries in session, but I can't expect any mortal to truly understand the complexities of the first family. Celestials are different."

She held him tighter. "But it's still like what I told Trixie after Dan and I split. I don't know what all happened between your parents or why God turned cold to the rest of you."

"Yes, I'd say that about sums it up. He stopped paying attention to any of us, and Mum was so upset and my younger siblings too. It wasn't fair. None of it was bloody fair, and then we all learn that his newest project---that humans---wouldn't be tools and soldiers too. That you lot would be gifted with Free Will. It was too bitter a pill to swallow. Yet, in the beginning, I just wanted Father back, wanted him to be who He was. I wanted to see Mum laugh and see Azrael stop crying. I couldn't do that, Detective. I failed."

Lucifer pulled away from her suddenly and backed away to his bar. He didn't pick up anything to drink, but he kept his distances from her. Clearly no longer brave enough or at least no longer wanting to be touched. She respected his boundaries and watched closely as her drummed his claws on the surface of the bar.

Plink, plink, plink.

"It doesn't matter, though. God is almighty, right?"

"Yes, omniscient and all-powerful."

"And He had the responsibility to take care of His family. He had to know you all were hurting. He just didn't care."

Lucifer nodded as his eyes grew dim, like embers dying out in the hearth. "No, Father never did. Nothing I did could appeal to him, and, in the end, I ruined at least a dozen siblings and tore into my own flesh and blood." Lucifer laughed, a broken sound that pained her heart. "Michael still limps; wings are quite the eyesore."

"But your father and mother should have taken care of you. I don't expect Trixie to fix me or to try and fix my marriage to Dan. She's my child. My job has always been to protect her."

Lucifer's wings flared once more. "Someone had to protect my brothers and sisters, the younger Host. No one else would. I tried and I failed and I ruined everything. I thought I could do better here on earth, but look at what I've done to you!"

He turned his back to her then, and Chloe's heart quickened as she felt the sheer panic of being dismissed. No, not now. They'd come too far. 

"I'm still here, Lucifer. I'm not going to cry or break apart or run. I'm done with talking to anyone else about the Devil but you. I am never going back to Rome or to find another priest or rabbi or imam. I am not. So, you're my Devil expert because you know your side of the story better than anyone else."

"And what if the version of the story I've been telling myself has always just been a pretty lie, Chloe? Only a monster would tear his family apart, would be vicious enough to wound his twin, would be the reason his mother was sent to Hell so that he would be her warden."

She took in a deep breath and tried not to think about Lucifer torturing the goddess of all creation, to imagining someone who still seemed so much like Charlotte to her being hurt and burned and who knew what. No. That wasn't fair to assume, and Lucifer hadn't asked to rule Hell at all.

He never had.

"You're a good person."

He growled a little, but there was no real heat in it. "Today, Detective, you'd think it would be crystal clear that I'm not one of those at all."

"You're also an angel, Lucifer. I've seen it."

His wings twitched. "Not anymore."

She strode across the room and set a hand on his left wing. He flinched at first, but the fight seemed to leech out of him as she stroked the warm, leathery webbing. It was so thin almost, and it surprised her that she could see the individual veins in the membrane if she stared long enough. 

"You are to me, even now. You've spent today trying to solve the case, even with everything happening to you."

"I thought it would help me. It was hardly altruistic."

"You saved my daughter's life. You did that a week ago, and I will not forget that. You always are nice to her, even if you don't want to be or children make you uneasy. It's because you were a good big brother, isn't it?"

"I don't know how true that is, but I had some younger siblings, like the Angel of Death, whom I was very fond of. That's true."

"Lucifer, please look at me."

"You don't want to see me."

"You're the one who wants Free Will, and who understands desires."

"Never yours."

She stroked his wing again. "Then trust me. I want to see you. Lucifer, please."

He finally listened and turned to look at her, eyes glittering like rubies. "Then what is it you want to tell me? That I didn't hurt my family? That I'm not a monster when we can both see the difference?" He growled again, as if he could scare her off.

She rolled her eyes. "Nice try. No, you want to take on the blame for so many things. Back when you were in heaven, you were trying to do the job your mom and dad should have been doing. Here on earth, I see how it kills you on the cases we take, that when you see evil, some small part of you really believes all the bad press---that you are responsible for every sin there is and it's not true, Lucifer. It never was."

"But I'm horrid. Look at what I did to you!"

"This isn't about me, damn it. This is about you, and how you haven't forgiven yourself for something your parents let happen, for trying to help and failing because, honestly, you were probably still the angel-equivalent of a teenager and fixing your family wasn't supposed to be your job." She sniffled a little and, reaching up, stroked his face. "Please, forgive yourself."

"I don't know how."

Silence stretched between them, the only real sounds in the penthouse were Lucifer's ragged, desperate breaths and the slight unfurling noises as his wings twitched.

Chloe blinked back tears. "I know you don't but we can figure this out, just let some of it go."

Lucifer nodded. "I want to, Detective, truly I do."

She wasn't sure what possessed her next because he was in no place mentally for it. Lucifer had just broken up with Eve, and clearly his sense of self had never been more fractured, but she just felt the need to. That she had to help him. And this seemed like the only way to help him see that, at least where she was concerned, Lucifer hadn't been poison to her at all.

Chloe leaned up and kissed him. 

It was so different like this. His lips were raw and burned, and tasted of salt and a hint of copper. Her hand was still tracing the skin of his cheek, the scars stretching out under her grasp where the stubble should have been. Her other hand grabbed at his shoulder and felt the shocking divots where his collar bone stuck out at an unnatural angle. It was Lucifer but it wasn't quite.

And yet, after an initial pause from probably his own shock, Lucifer kissed her back and it felt like them, like the same desperation they'd always been dancing around, and truly been running from since that beach a couple of years ago almost.

They stayed wrapped up like that and with each other for minutes, hours, days...who knew how long. It felt like their own corner of eternity, like their embrace was timeless since it had taken so long to get here.

Finally, though, Chloe pulled away and did finally cry when she looked up at him. While his great wings were still shrinking away into his back, Lucifer---her Lucifer---was staring back at her. His skin and hair, his soulful brown eyes. All of them were back as they should be.

And soon enough, she was sure his wings would start retracting.

Lucifer misread her relief for regret, and his posture stiffened immediately. "I see. Yes, I can understand how kissing a monster would be too much, Detective. You owe me nothing. It's quite alright if you leave."

She rolled her eyes. Now that was also the Lucifer she knew, too stubborn to see anything but his own point of view. "No, I...look at your arms. Touch your face. You're back."

He quirked his head at her, studying her with his usual intensity before glancing down at his hands and arms. Lucifer sighed and then stroked his chin. He giggled a little, and it was only partially hysterical. "We did do it! No evil being released today."

She sniffled and shook her head. "No, but you have so much to talk about with Linda soon and me too, if you need. You can't take on your entire family's collapse. You didn't do it, and you can't blame yourself for it falling apart. Like I said, you wouldn't blame Trixie for Dan and I splitting."

"No, but she's a child and I'm a Celestial and I---"

She squeezed his hand, so relieved to feel pink, healthy skin there, and kissed him again. When Chloe pulled back, she held her chin up high at him. "You want to learn to forgive yourself and it's clearly a start. Please, just try and remember this. Even if you don't believe it yet, I think with therapy you can. I do."

Lucifer nodded and then, finally, seemed to realize that he was shirtless. "Oh, I...that's a bit unseemly. I shall get dressed right away, Detective. The wings didn't exactly go with the couture."

She laughed because it was both such a Lucifer thing to say and because he was back, although she suspected that if he ever felt badly enough again, the Devilish side would creep back out again.

Before she could even process it, Chloe's hand darted out and grabbed his arm. "Don't please."

He stilled and quirked his head at her. "Do tell."

"Tonight's been a lot, and I know you're not in the head space. If you want to get dressed you can, but if you're just doing it to be polite for me, then don't."

He turned and inched closer to her. "Why?"

"Because I want to kiss you some more. I know...your head has to still be spinning and we're not ready for more than that, but if you want to...I love you, Lucifer. I do. I didn't realize how much until you felt so far away from me, until I watched you bleed out at Lux and was scared I'd never see you again."

"Detective, I---" his voice was small and weak, but the part that hurt her worst was that he was so incredulous about it, as if no one had ever told him they did love him.

It occurred to her then with as messed up as his family was, that no one ever had.

And her heart broke all over again for her Devil.

"You don't have to say anything. I just need you to know." She offered him a small, shy smile. "Now, do you want to make out on the couch or just relax and listen to music or something. Your call."

He shook his head and was still staring at her in clear shock, as if he felt she was a mirage that might disappear. Chloe guessed that much because he'd grabbed her hand and was holding it so tightly. Not enough to hurt, but he was getting there.

"I'm not going anywhere, not now and not anymore."

They walked to the couch together and she sidled up next to him, to his almost feverishly warm torso, and perhaps that was a Hell thing. Probably was. Chloe sat up on her knees and stroked his face. 

"We'll figure this all out, you know. Together."

"Because you love me?"

"Yup."

He grinned at her. "And I care so deeply for you, Chloe." Lucifer started to lean down to kiss her but stopped half way to her lips.

"What is it?" she asked.

"You, me...the Devil and someone as genuinely lovely and beautiful as you, Detective. It's clearly a tale as old as time, isn't it?"

She chuckled at that, sat up high enough to wrap her arms around his neck, and kissed him again, not letting either of them up for breath for a long time. When finally they broke apart, and she could relish Lucifer staring down at her with such hunger in his brown eyes, Chloe answered him:

"Maybe, but I'd like to write my own story. Wouldn't you?"

And after that, they were lost in happiness and in each other.