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Petrichor

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Chloe yells at God on an unusually hot Friday evening in the fall.

Which is lucky, in a way, because she completely forgets to pick up her jacket on the way to storming out of Linda’s house, Lucifer following close on her heels.

She’s halfway down the block when she realises and the thought of going back for it flashes vaguely across her mind, the idea absurd and absolutely, positively never going to happen. She snorts a somewhat frantic laugh just imagining it.

“Detective!” Concern sends Lucifer’s voice up several octaves. “Are you–”

“I left my jacket,” she says, addressing the words vaguely over her shoulder towards where she knows he’s hurrying to catch her. “Y’know … screamed at God, lost my coat, no big deal.”

“Very big deal!” Lucifer protests, his voice drawing nearer.

Chloe presses her hands to her heated cheeks and laughs again, no less manic.

The thing is, she’s not sorry. Embarrassed at making a scene, sure. Terrified God is going to smite her out of existence, oh, abso-fucking-lutely. But that’s not the same as sorry. Sorry implies regret and despite the sheer panic coursing through her, Chloe can’t actually find an ounce of regret for anything she said to Lucifer’s father tonight. And definitely not for throwing the last of her red wine right in Michael’s face on the way out.

“Detective, slow down–”

“I can’t – I need to...” She gestures vaguely at the sidewalk in front of her.

“Just – wait a minute!”

Chloe ignores him, not slowing her pace even as sweat starts to collect across her collarbones, strangely cool in the warm evening air. Each step seems to untangle another piece of the angry knot of memories still twisting in her chest, sending fragments of the evening flitting across her frantic mind.

The casual cruelty in everything Michael said, all those pointed comments she didn’t understand. Amenadiel’s pained silence. The tremble in Lucifer’s knee when she pressed her hand to his thigh under the table.

And that name.

The one his father wouldn’t stop using, even when Lucifer flinched. Even when his eyes flashed red and his voice broke and he begged not to hear it again.

A simple request, the first in millenia, and Lucifer’s father had simply shook his head.

Rage starts to simmer under Chloe’s skin again, the memories crowding in faster than she can outrun them – a wine glass shattering under Lucifer’s shaking hand, tears in Linda’s eyes, a glimpse of triumph in Michael’s, and then the overwhelming urge to do something, say something, spreading through Chloe’s veins faster than the wine pooling red across Linda’s dining table.

She glances at her hand, finding the sticky residue on her palm from where she slammed it down right into the spill, just before she stood up and finally said, ‘That’s enough’.

The stain doesn’t quite come out when she wipes her hand on her dark jeans, a stubborn shadow of purple lingering in the centre of her palm. Clenching her hand into a fist, she picks up her pace even more just as the scent of Lucifer’s cologne on the air tells her he’s right behind her.

“Would you please – oh, for goodness sake – Chloe!”

Chloe startles a little at Lucifer’s rare use of her own name, surprise making her slow down just enough for him to catch her at last. His hand closes around her arm and the weight of the whole evening seems to crash down on her all at once.

“What?!” she bursts out, far too loud in the quiet street.

Lucifer releases her immediately, hurt flashing across his face, and for a split second she hates herself in a way she hasn’t since those awful, endless days after she betrayed him with Kinley.

“The car’s over there,” is all Lucifer says, pointing back in the opposite direction to the one she’s been blindly walking.

“Oh.” Chloe deflates, looking back beyond Linda’s house to where the Corvette is parked. “Right.”

Lucifer’s laugh doesn’t reach his eyes. “So shall we…?”

“Lucifer, wait, wait.” She reaches for him as he starts to move, grabbing a fistful of his sleeve. “I’m so sorry, I was–”

“Having a celestial meltdown?” he says, not unkindly. “It’s quite alright.”

“No, no, it’s not – it’s not that.” She manoeuvres herself into his path, tugging lightly on his sleeve until he comes to a stop in front of her. “This isn’t about me.”

“Perhaps it should be,” he murmurs, frowning as he studies her face. “Are you alright, Detective?”

“Are you?” she counters.

She reaches up to cradle his jaw under her palm and Lucifer leans into the contact with a whisper of a sigh. For a moment there is nothing in her whole world but the rustle of trees, the distant hum of traffic, and Lucifer, breathing like he might fall apart.

“Detective...” Something flickers in his eyes, exhaustion or pain or maybe both, and Chloe’s heart clenches in her chest with an echo of his distress. He removes her hand from his cheek, staring down at the remnants of wine staining her palm. “I...”

Just then, the peace of the quiet street is shattered by the sudden passing of a car, loud music blaring out of the open passenger-side window. Lucifer startles at the sound, the end of his sentence suddenly forgotten.

It’s almost a tangible thing, the way his guard goes right back up after that. Chloe watches, her heart sinking, as his whole face goes blank for a second before he squares his shoulders and musters something close to a smile. It’s a bland, empty little thing that doesn’t touch his eyes and she hates it, hates his father, hates this whole damn evening.

“C’mon,” she tries, already knowing it’s too late, “talk to me. Are you–”

“Oh, never mind me, it’s you I’m worried about, Detective!” Lucifer dips at the knees, lowering himself closer to her height and frowning right in her face. “You’re clearly panicking.”

Chloe swallows a sigh. “I’m fine. It’s–”

“No, no, y’see you’re not really blinking.” He starts to walk back to the Corvette, leaving her no choice but to follow. “It’s quite unsettling actually.”

“Lucifer–”

“Do you need to put your head between your knees?” He spins to look at her, walking backwards now, practically vibrating with restless energy. “Or do you need me to put my head between your knees? Because you were definitely relaxed after–”

“Lucifer, stop, okay? Just stop.”

He does as she asks and it’s then that Chloe realises they’ve landed right back outside Linda’s house. She glances back at the closed door as another flood of memories scatter across her tired mind.

Lucifer, utterly silent by her side while she shouted herself hoarse at his family. The sound of the door slamming behind him as he followed her out. The bite in his voice as he chased her, calling for her to slow down, to stop.

A horrible idea presents itself, the claws of it sinking deeper the longer Lucifer smiles that false brittle smile at her.

“You’re angry,” she blurts out. “Aren’t you?”

He doesn’t lie, of course. “Furious, Detective–”

Chloe’s heart cracks, splintering just like the wine glass. “With me?”

Lucifer blinks, falling completely silent for a moment, just long enough for Chloe’s imagination to supply his answer. He comes back to himself quickly but it’s already too late. She’s already conjured a flash of disappointment in his eyes, contempt for her silly, human meddling, and she can’t bear to look up at him and find out if it’s real.

“Look,” she says, rushing to explain, “I know your relationship with your family is ... complicated–”

“Understatement of literally all time.”

“And I can’t pretend to have understood half of what was said tonight and – and maybe I’ve only made things worse and I shouldn’t have interfered but y’know what, I’m not sorry I did, okay?” Defiance pushes back the rising tide of panic, lending strength to her words. “I’m not.”

“Detective–”

“No, no, they were hurting you, Lucifer.” She stands her ground as he strides towards her but her bravery still doesn’t quite stretch to looking him in the eye. “I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t just–”

Lucifer’s hands land on her shoulders, heavy but gentle, and the gesture steals whatever else she was going to say.

“You seem to be under a misapprehension,” he says, giving her shoulders a squeeze. “So let me be very clear ... I am not angry with you.”

His voice seems to curl around her, the warmth in his words soothing over her anxiety until it starts to loosen it’s stranglehold on her common sense at last.

“Oh,” she says, addressing his shoes.

“Detective,” he says, voice soft and low. “Look at me, please.”

Chloe does as he asks, powerless to deny him anything when he sounds like that, and the last of her fears melt away on the warm breeze because Lucifer’s eyes are just like the rest of him, they never lie. There is real anger burning there but it’s an ancient, weary thing, not for her. There’s no hint of the disdain she imagined either, just a wary sort of confusion that makes her regret her hasty assumptions.

“I’m sorry, that was stupid,” she says, sighing the words out. “I guess I thought–”

“You thought wrong,” he says cheerfully, patting her shoulders before removing his hands. “Happens to the best of us at times.”

“Well in my defence, I just yelled at the creator of the universe so I’m kind of–”

“I knew it, I knew you were panicking!”

“Fine, maybe just a little bit,” she admits, huffing a laugh.

“Though why on earth you’d think you yelling at my dad would make me angry is quite beyond me,” Lucifer says, shaking his head with a good impression of her usual exasperation. “I mean, what you did back there was…”

For a moment he seems to teeter on the edge of saying something serious, something real, and Chloe takes a half step towards him, holding her breath.

“Quite literally the best thing I’ve ever seen,” he settles on, the veneer of amusement slipping smoothly back in place. “Ever, ever, ever.”

Chloe swallows down her disappointment, sternly reminding herself how difficult this must be for him, how many years of pain he’s lived with, how very not helpful it would be if she smacked his arm and told him to stop avoiding his feelings. It’s tempting though.

“And I’m immortal, Detective, so you know I’ve seen a lot of things over the years…”

Just then, a movement behind him steals Chloe’s attention and the end of Lucifer’s sentence is lost to the sudden roaring in her ears. She can’t breathe, can’t move, can’t do anything but stare at the man now standing on the path in Linda’s front yard while Lucifer rambles on.

“Seriously, if I could go back in time and witness one single moment in all of creation over again–”

“Lucifer.”

“I think it would have to be you yelling at that bloody–”

“Lucifer!”

He stops, looking at her at last. “Ah – he’s behind me, isn’t he?”

Chloe answers, “Yes,” at the exact moment that Lucifer’s father says the same thing.

She half-expects a joke in reply but Lucifer’s eyes flash red and his whole frame goes rigid as if detecting a threat. He spins around, stepping in front to shield her and Chloe has no time to marvel at the inhuman speed with which he moves because she’s too busy staring at the enormous wings that have just appeared across his back, filling her entire field of vision with bright white feathers.

“Lucifer!” Chloe gasps, snatching back the hand that seems to be moving of its own accord, reaching for his – his wings. Of course. Her boyfriend has wings. Which he recently used to fly away from her and down to Hell for thousands of years.

Maybe she should hate them for that fact alone but oh, they’re beautiful.

Even through the veil of tears in her eyes on that awful, awful night they were still beautiful.

Chloe takes her chance to look at them properly now, completely forgetting his father standing just beyond them, forgetting this evening and her own name and anything in the world except how perfect Lucifer is like this. How divine. Her eyes move hungrily, flitting from the impossibly small feathers at his shoulders down to the huge arches that flex and shimmer when he breathes, and it feels like all the time in the world still wouldn’t be long enough to look. She could stare at him forever.

It should be frightening perhaps, this very real reminder that the man she loves is not a man at all, but the longer Chloe looks the more his wings settle into her mind the same as any other part of him, like his hip flask and his three piece suits and his mojo. His feathers are pristine and bright but not actually flawless and she feels her lips curl into a smile at the realisation. They’re ever so slightly crooked in places, a little damaged just like him, and she loves them all the more for it.

She’s just staring at one particularly ruffled feather, wondering if it hurts, when Lucifer’s father clears his throat and reality slams back in.

“Lucifer, we’re too exposed,” Chloe manages to say, tearing her eyes from his back to look frantically around the street. “All these houses. Someone could see.”

“They won’t,” Lucifer says, just as every light in the street winks out at once.

Chloe actually feels her jaw drop, like she’s some kind of cartoon character. “Did you…”

“Nope.” The gleam of his wings shimmers in the darkness as they dip down with his sigh. “That would be my father.”

“I only need a moment, Son.” Lucifer’s father’s voice carries over to Chloe, though she can’t see him beyond the shield of Lucifer’s wings. “I just want to talk.”

“I don’t have anything to say to you right now,” Lucifer says tightly.

“I meant to Chloe.”

“Not happening, Dad.” Lucifer scoffs a laugh but Chloe hears the thread of fear underneath, a perfect match to her own.

“I have your coat, Miss Decker–”

“I’ll buy you another one,” Lucifer says, jerking his head to glance back at her. “I’ll buy you the whole bloody factory if you like.”

“It’s okay,” Chloe hears herself say.

“What?”

Terror is coursing through her veins, screaming at her to run, but there’s something else too, a glimpse of something on Lucifer’s father’s face when he walked down Linda’s garden path a moment ago. It itches at her, too much to be ignored, because she could swear it was the same expression she’s seen on her own face and Dan’s a hundred times before – a parent who did the wrong thing and doesn’t know how to fix it.

“I’ll talk to him,” she says.

Lucifer all but growls in frustration. He rolls his shoulders and his wings disappear, leaving a starburst of white that seems to hang in the darkness for a moment. When Chloe’s vision clears he’s facing her again, crowding right into her space, his face all sharp angles and shadows in low light.

“You don’t have to,” he mutters, just for her ears.

“I know,” she says softly, laying a hand on his arm. “I want to.”

Lucifer sighs, powerless in front of that simple truth. He won’t deny her wish, she knows, but it will cost him something to stand aside and she silently promises herself to make sure it’s worth the price.

“Very well,” he says, the darkness in his eyes far more than just a trick of the dim light. “If you’re sure, Detective?”

“I’m sure.” She gives his forearm a squeeze through his jacket. “I can handle your dad.”

Lucifer’s lips quirk. “That much is true.”

“Why don’t you go and start the car?”

“I–” He falters, nervous in a way she’s never quite seen before. “I don’t want to leave you alone with him.”

Somehow his nerves seem to ease her own, her fears pushed aside by the far more urgent need to protect him, to find a way to soothe the tight line of his shoulders and the tension of his clenched jaw.

“It’s okay, Lucifer,” she says, speaking slow and clear. “This won’t take long and then we can get out of here.”

“Promise?” he says, sounding so much like a lost little boy that she wants to take his hand and take him home right now.

She settles for brushing a kiss against his cheek, feeling him sigh at the contact.

“I promise,” she says.

He lets her go without further argument, though Chloe can practically feel the tension radiating off him as he steps aside to let her pass. His footsteps recede as he heads over to the Corvette and without him Chloe suddenly feels very lonely in the dark. Small and insignificant and so very, very mortal.

And yet, furious still.

She breathes out half a laugh, because isn’t that just the most human thing in the world? She’s terrified, an ant looking up at a boot, and she doesn’t even care. The panic, the fear, it all takes a backseat, pushed aside under the fury that straightens her spine when she looks at Lucifer’s father. There’s really no power like it, she thinks vaguely, her lips curling into a faint smile at the thought. He really shouldn’t have hurt the man she loves.

“You wanted to talk.” Chloe drops her smile. “So talk.”

God himself has the good grace to look a little embarrassed, which figures, really. He invented grace after all.

“Talk was perhaps the wrong word,” he says delicately, handing over her jacket. “I wanted to apologise.”

“Right.” Chloe scoffs a mirthless laugh, folding her arms over her coat. “Well, you got the wrong person. Your son is over there.”

“You heard him, I don’t think he wants to hear from me right now.”

“So what, you’re just not going to try?”

Something flickers in his face. “You think I should?”

“What I think is that you shouldn’t have behaved like that at dinner.”

“You’re right,” he agrees, hands raised in surrender. “I can’t speak for Michael’s behaviour but mine was … not acceptable. I see that now.”

“Okay.” Chloe shifts her weight, wrong-footed by his sudden contrition.

“And you were right to scold me.”

“So I don’t need to … I don’t know, expect a plague of locusts tomorrow?” She’s not entirely sure that she’s joking. “Rivers running red?”

“Believe it or not, I don’t really go in for that,” he says, with a soft laugh.

Oh. She made God laugh. Chloe’s heart skips a beat and she glances down, watching her knuckles whitening as she clutches her coat under her fist.

“Besides, I really do want to make things right with my son, Chloe,” he goes on, “and hurting you would be the very last thing to win me favour with him.”

“I just…” The heat of her anger starts to cool, leaving only the heat of the evening swirling around them. “I don’t get it. Why come here, why now? You say you’re not here to take Lucifer back to Hell, you tell him that you just want to talk and then you treat him like that? It doesn’t make sense.”

“Well, you know my son doesn’t lie,” he begins, and Chloe jolts back a step, surprised to realise he’s actually going to offer an explanation. “So when he says that my being here doesn’t bother him – that it doesn’t mean anything – he really believes that.”

“So what, that pissed you off?” she says, anger not as far away as she’d thought.

“No, no, of course not,” he says, waving the suggestion away. “My son has always been a passionate creature, Chloe. I tried to … tempt him, I suppose. To bait him into realising that he does still care even if he couldn’t bear to admit it, even to himself. A foolish idea I suppose, thinking I could tempt the Devil.”

Regret pulls frown lines across his face and damn it, it was a lot harder to rage at him when he didn’t look so downcast. Chloe wants to believe him, can feel her resistance crumbling to his guileless face and his soft words but something else pulls at her instincts, reminding her to check the facts like any good cop.

“But … I thought you were supposed to be all knowing,” she says, even as her brain screams that everything about this conversation is absurd.

She shoves the feeling aside, focusing on the facts. He is just another suspect, spinning a story that she’s not sure if she believes.

“So doesn’t that mean you already knew your plan wouldn’t work.” The idea floods her with disgust, the sudden rush of it making her brave enough or maybe stupid enough to point an accusing finger right in the face of the creator of all things. “That you would only hurt him.”

Lucifer’s father hangs his head. “I’m sure my son thinks that’s the case.”

“It’s not?”

“No, it’s not,” he bites out.

For the first time Chloe feels a hint of the power lurking beneath his pleasant face. She swallows hard, almost dropping her jacket, but his irritation fades as soon as it sparked.

“Let me put it like this…” He casts around for a moment. “When I was … packing for my trip, shall we say, I couldn’t – well, I couldn’t fit everything in the suitcase.”

“I–” Her grip on sanity slips, ever so slightly. She takes a breath, then another, trying to concentrate on the smell of roses drifting from Linda’s front yard and the hint of rain that’s starting to hang in the warm air. “I don’t understand.”

“This form, down here ... it couldn’t sustain all of me.”

“So – what?” Chloe pushes her sweat-damp bangs off her forehead, teetering right on the edge of losing it. “Omniscience was over the baggage limit?”

“Something like that,” he says, unnervingly calm.

“So you – you really don’t know what’s going to happen?”

“I really don’t.” He grins, a flash of perfect white teeth in the gloom. “It’s quite a novelty, I must admit.”

Right. Because he’s God. She’s talking to God. She’s talking to God and her boyfriend has wings and his dad left his omniscience behind in heaven like an unneeded extra shirt for a vacation.

Chloe hears the sharp, hysterical laugh before she realises she’s the one making the sound. In the distance there is movement near the Corvette, Lucifer’s dark outline shifting slightly as if he’s thinking of coming over. She wards him off with a wave of her hand, turning her attention back to his father and forcing her spiralling mind to focus for just a little while longer.

“Does Lucifer know?”

“He doesn’t believe me.”

“I’m not sure I do either.”

“As is your right,” he says, with another faint smile. “I can’t very well invent free will and then complain when people exercise it, can I?”

Another laugh escapes her, shrill and far louder than she intends. Chloe’s head spins with more than the wine she drank tonight and this time she doesn’t have it in her to ward Lucifer off when he starts to approach.

His father glances back over his shoulder, watching his son approach with something like trepidation and a hint of that same expression from earlier.

“Apologise,” she tells him, rushing to say her piece before her rational mind can catch up and stop her from giving advice to God himself. “It doesn’t have to be for – for everything, just for this. For tonight. If you really want a relationship with your son, you have to try.

“I–”

“And you should, you know. You should want that.” She lowers her voice as Lucifer nears, the words spilling out of her in a whisper that’s edged with tears. “He’s a good man. He’s generous and he believes in justice and he – he tries. He tries so hard–”

“You really do love him.” Lucifer’s father regards her with dawning wonder. “Don’t you?”

“Of course I do.” Self preservation is a very, very small voice in the back of her mind, easy to ignore. Chloe steps a little closer, close enough to look Almighty God right in the face, and she could swear that there’s hellfire burning in her eyes when they meet his. “So don’t you try to take him from me.”

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