Bubbly. That's the one word Mazikeen Smith would use to describe her daughter's nursery. If it had been up to her, the design would be more dark. Abysmal. But in the best, loving way possible. If it had been left up to her, Eden's room would've depicted the very essence of Hell. Apparently though, according to all of her friends-even Lucifer, who took Chloe's side-said that wasn't appropriate for a child. Instead it was filled with shades of pinks and purples, toys both plush and academic, and more frilly outfits than the demon could count.
"Surely you're going to dress her in something more...well, happier than that." Linda commented as the demon struggled to put the squirming baby into a black, velveteen dress. "It's her first birthday party, not a funeral."
"The head bow has sequins on it. That's as extreme as I'm willing to go." The demon replied, finally getting her daughter situated in the outfit. "There, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that." She motioned at the baby who had taken to chewing on her own fist. "I didn't even get a birthday party as a kid. Much less dressed for one. Black is the new...well, black."
The therapist, though incredulous of her best friend's tastes, sighed in defeat. "I guess the sparkles do help." She smiled as Eden's dark eyes met hers. "It seems like only yesterday that she was born."
"You humans and your perspective of time…" Maze tutted, lifting the one year old up. "Have you heard from Chloe? I told her I didn't want her to go overboard with this. Especially since she went behind my back and told Ella of all people she could help." The demon sighed and studied her daughter carefully. "As long as those decorations are put away for the day. It's Eden's birthday, not...it's her day."
Christmas. The word Maze couldn't bring herself to say. If she had to rank human holidays from least to greatest, Christmas would be in the negatives with Halloween at the top. Perhaps she had gone a little overboard with Eden's costume that year. It wasn't as if someone told her zombie babies weren't all the rage that year. So what if she overindulged just a little with the fake blood? For someone playing the part of "the undead" she was the cutest rotting corpse in all of the cemetery. At least Trixie thought it was cool.
"I've been in contact with her this whole time." Linda assured her. "Just birthday decor, other stuff's been set aside until after you leave. Funny enough, Trixie's been more excited for all of this than opening her own presents…" The therapist paused for a moment. "I was told you gave her something...unexpected."
"Hm?" Maze inquired, fixated on stuffing the diaper bag. "Oh, you mean the tecpatl. Just an Aztec blade I found in my mother's stuff. Come to think of it, it might've been used on her. Anyway, it was one of the few things of hers I took. Thought I could do something with it and Trixie seems to appreciate my choice in weaponry more than the rest of you."
"Trixie is also thirteen and could easily get expelled from school if she accidentally left it in her pocket during class." Her friend retorted. "Knives aren't for kids, Maze."
"I know." The demon replied, rolling her eyes. "You haven't seen Eden with one yet."
"And I hope it stays that way for a long while." Linda answered, letting out a soft, nervous chuckle. "I will say though, Maze, motherhood has looked great on you. I mean, Eden has flourished. Surpassing most of her milestones. I actually feel a little guilty for the doubt I felt in the beginning." She paused before quickly adding. "Just a teeny, tiny amount of concern."
"Well, I'm not Lilith." Her friend answered, slightly insulted by Linda's comment. "I remember how I was raised and made a promise to myself that I wouldn't subject Eden to that." She grinned as she held the baby to her face. "No abandonment in Hell for you, my precious sinner."
"We seriously need to work on better nicknames." The therapist snorted as she grabbed her purse. "Most people might not take it the right way when you call a baby a sinner."
"Amenadiel already lectured me last week when he heard me call her a fallen angel despite the affection behind it." Maze muttered. "I mean, Chloe calls Trixie "Monkey". What kind of name is that? And you with Charlie…"Peanut"? Where's the creativity? Never mind," she shook her head. "I'll think of something eventually that is at least reasonably acceptable to the general public."
The drive to Chloe's was mostly quiet, Eden having fallen asleep mere moments after Linda started the car. Maze gazed out the passenger side window thoughtfully, watching as the trees whizzed by and became buildings. Something was on her mind. Something unsettling that she just couldn't quite put her finger on. Perhaps it simply was due to it being Christmas. The demon had always despised the holiday. On more than one occasion than she was unwilling to admit, she'd nearly impaled Dan's hand with a fork when he jokingly called her a Scrooge-and even the Grinch reincarnated. Though she did look good in green.
"Something on your mind?" Linda inquired, tearing Maze away from her thoughts. "You look worried."
"I'm fine." She mumbled, inhaling deeply. "Just taking the day in...it's a big one."
"Not everyday your kid turns one." Her friend agreed with a smile as they turned into the parking lot. "I remember Charlie's so well. I can't believe we went with the Cookie Monster cake. I was scrubbing blue stains out of his clothes for hours. That icing had so much dye in it, it turned his poop blue. Nearly gave Amenadiel a heart attack. He thought something was wrong."
"Amenadiel's anxiety is almost unbearable." The demon replied, folding her arms over her chest. "I don't know how you do it. I know so many women in Hell who've killed their spouses simply because they drive them mad."
"I'm a therapist." Linda chuckled as she turned off the car. "I'm equipped to deal with that sort of thing. And besides, it's kind of sweet in a way…" She stepped out of the car, eyes glancing at a set of balloons bound to a doorknob. "Even if in the beginning, he literally tried to take my son to Heaven without me. Not the best moment in our relationship."
"Well, if you ever do decide to off him." Maze said, leaving her own seat to retrieve Eden. "I'll help you dispose of the body. Trust me, when I'm done, it'll be untraceable."
"...I'll keep that in mind…" Her friend responded slowly, a little disturbed by the woman's words. "But I think I'm good."
"All the same." The demon stated, Eden's face scrunching up as the sunlight hit it. Maze pulled the canopy down and the baby seemed to drift back to sleep. "What are friends for?"
"Why don't you go on and take her inside?" Linda suggested, quickly changing the conversation. "I'll grab the presents from the trunk. Looks like Amenadiel's car is already here, you can send him out to help. I'm sure Charlie is fine in his playpen. We got him this new toy that speaks French. Fingers crossed he can start picking up some of the language."
"I told you, I'd be more than happy to teach him Lilim." Maze called over her shoulder as she lugged the baby seat towards the stairs. "Perfect for whenever he decides he wants to visit Hell."
"After what happened when he was born. I don't want him stepping a foot near that place." Her friend answered. "A trip to France when he is old enough is good enough for me...but I appreciate the offer as always."
"Well, if you decide otherwise, it's still on the table." Maze smirked. "Though, I can equally be a translator if he ever wants a trip down there. Maybe with Amenadiel. Lucifer told me how it made him squirm. How I'd love a good show."
"I love you, but you do have a way of scaring me sometimes, Mazikeen," Linda replied. "It's a good thing we're friends."
"Yes," the demon agreed. "It's a very good thing."
Black. Blue. Red. A smidge of pink. No purple. For a split second, Maze was convinced she had walked into the wrong party until a certain girl came sprinting across the floorboards. Trixie Espinoza sporting pigtails painted with blue and pink hair chalk, smudged eye makeup, a ridiculous amount of red lipstick, and a familiar costume grinned widely at her.
"I'm Harley Quinn!" She stated as if it needed to be known. "Mom thought you wouldn't want a normal birthday for Eden, so I thought this would be cool!" She motioned around the room. "Do you like it?! Harley Quinn is awesome! She kicks as-butt, like you!" Trixie peered into the carrier. "Awe, she's asleep?" There was disappointment in her voice. "She's gonna wake up, right?"
As if summoned by the girl's words, Eden's eyes slowly opened and her mouth formed a surprisingly wide yawn. Maze undid the clips that strapped the baby into the seat and lifted her up into the air. This certainly hadn't been what she was expecting, but she was not about to argue against the theme.
"Normally, I would've assumed you'd have shown her this movie. But the guilty party this time is Lucifer."
Chloe smiled as she exited the kitchen, attention fixed on her honorary niece. She wore an apron, but it didn't appear to be as messy as one might assume when someone cooks. It was only when the demon saw the Devil peer out from behind the wall and note the smudges of flour and icing on his sleeves and shirt did she realize the true chef. The mastermind behind the whole feast.
"Be thankful one of us knows how to properly bake." Lucifer smirked as he wiped his hands on a dishrag. "The Detective's cupcakes were looking a little on the failed Pinterest side."
"Cake is cake." Chloe huffed, elbowing her boyfriend lightly. "Looks can be deceiving. They might even taste better than yours...despite the melted frosting."
"Believe what you will." Her partner smiled. "But I am the ruler of the kitchen and my reign has yet to be taken over. Although, brownie points towards your egg toast."
"Uncle Luci has no idea what he's talking about." The Detective crooned, tickling one of the baby's feet. "He's just insecure about his own baking abilities and tries to hide it." She straightened up so that she was face to face with Maze. "May I?"
"Pretty sure she has a dirty diaper, but sure." The demon replied, gingerly handing the baby over. "You guys didn't have to do all of this."
"We're family, Maze." Chloe smiled. "And trust me, this is just…"
"OH MY GOD!"
The adults and Trixie turned to see Ella, her costume in much greater detail than Trixie's, standing in the doorway. Behind her Dan juggled what looked like to be a few boxes of presents and a tub of ice cream. The overly excited scientist nearly tripped over her own to feet as she made her way over to the group.
"I just saw you last week and it's like you've gotten bigger since!" Ella gushed, adjusting Eden's bow. "Stop growing up so fast! You're going to make me cry!" She looked from Chloe to Maze. "Can I hold her?! Let me hold her!"
"Gotta wait your turn," Chloe stated. "I just got her."
"You suck, Decker." Ella pouted before her attention was redirected to Trixie. "Costume buddies!" And Maze couldn't help but roll her eyes and slightly smile as the two high fived. Humans. "Anyway, Amenadiel is out there helping Linda. Can I assist in any way?"
"Charlie's in the other room in his playpen where Trixie is supposed to be watching him." The Detective said eyeing her daughter. "Maybe make sure he isn't getting into anything?"
"He's fine, Mom." Trixie said with a wave of her hand. "I put Spongebob on. Amenadiel had Discovery Channel on and it was too boring. He seems to like it better anyways."
"All the same," Chloe continued. "He's a toddler and they like to get into things. The last thing we need is for something like that to happen." Her eyes flickered over to Dan who was still trying not to drop his items. "Remember when Trixie was three and somehow got into the medicine cabinet and drank half a bottle of cough syrup?"
"Poison Control probably thought someone was murdered the way you were panicking." Dan laughed slightly out of breath. "Can I maybe put these somewhere?"
"I don't know, I'm rather enjoying watching you play circus, Daniel." Lucifer sneered, earning him a glare from Chloe. "Alright, alright, fine. I suppose the kitchen table will do for the gifts and the ice cream in the freezer obviously." He shook his head and turned to his partner once the other man was out of sight. "Did we really have to invite him?" Another glower. "Fine, fine. I'll go do something to keep myself busy. Perhaps Amenadiel and Linda need help."
"I made Linda a similar offer earlier." Maze began as Chloe bounced Eden in her arms. "If you need me to dispose of Lucifer, just say the word."
"I think Mama needs to go out on a few bounties." The Detective cooed, staring at the demon as she spoke to the infant. "You can stay here for a few nights and we'll be just fine and dandy, isn't that right, Eden?"
Maze frowned at the woman's words. "I'm perfectly fine." She informed her, reaching forward to snatch her daughter back. "Right now, I am more than happy to focus on my kid...there will always be other jobs."
Though as the weeks turned into months, she had grown weary of sitting around the house. A thought that made her feel guilty. An idea that it was wrong of her to want to work instead of staying back with her child and focusing her attention there.
"Maze," Chloe's voice was softer this time. "It's been a year. There is no shame going back to work."
"I said I'm fine!" The demon insisted almost forcefully. "I'll go when I'm ready and right now...right now, I have things to do. Important things." Her stare met Eden's and the baby smiled. She did her best to return the gesture, but the thoughts of diapers and midnight bottles crossed her mind as they often did. "We're happy."
Before the Detective could open her mouth to reply, Linda, Amenadiel, and Lucifer stepped through the front door. Eden giggled, though she most likely had no idea that the boxes the adults carried were gifts for her. The thoughts left Maze's mind as the presents were piled on to one another. This was way more than the demon had expected. Almost excessive.
"Did you guys buy an entire store?" Maze half joked as she took it all in. "The kid's favorite thing at the moment is a spoon. Really, you didn't…"
"We know." They all said in unison.
Maze just shook her head in disbelief and bounced Eden in her arms. "You're a lucky kid." She commented, looking at the others. "Why don't we get this party started?"
And, like clockwork, as if the world and fate itself knew, there came a knock at the door. A knock that caused that bubbling in the pit of Maze's stomach to start up again. Chloe looked around confused as if recounting all of the guests.
"Did someone order something?"
Curiously, the Detective made her way to the front door and opened it. Maze felt her blood run cold, arms tightening around Eden as she stared dumbfounded at the stranger who gazed back equally as shocked. A man she hadn't seen well over a year. Someone she hadn't wanted to see at all.