I know you don’t love me so,
but please say it once before I go.
“Dude!” she exclaims when she thinks he’s just Lucifer’s broken brother, when she doesn’t know the full story, “what happened to your face?”
Pain and humiliation lash at Michael like a whip, hot and depressingly familiar. The sensations mingle with anger as he turns his burning face away, his damaged shoulders practically itching with the urge to unfurl his wings and run.
The strange scientist must read his reaction because her expression softens. He sees her fingers twitch at her sides and for a moment, he thinks she might reach out and touch him—but she doesn’t.
“Sorry, that was really rude,” she winces and shakes her head and Michael’s brows knit together in confusion, “I have some creams in my lab.”
He blinks at her dumbly as she struts away. His feet are still anchored to the ground as he watches her pause. Her ponytail swishes as she glances over her shoulder to see him not following her.
“Come on!” she laughs, beckoning him with a hand, and her eyes are kind.
He still can’t move, can’t make sense of it, and she sighs.
“Look, you don’t have to tell me how it happened,” she says, “but they’ll help with the scarring.”
He stares at her, still hesitant, and how can he tell her how it happened when it was her precious Lucifer who did it? Back when he’d pretended to be him, he’d seen the pain in her eyes as she bizarrely attacked him with her shoe and then even more bizarrely hugged him straight after.
He can practically smell the fondness these humans have for his brother. It makes him feel sick, bitterness settling like a heavy stone in his chest.
But she’s still waiting for him patiently and there’s no ulterior motive behind her eyes. He can’t work out what she wants—and maybe it’s nothing and that makes even less sense. She is infuriatingly confusing to him and he is pulled into her gravity. He’s following her before he’s even made a conscious decision to do so.
Ella Lopez shows him the first glimmer of kindness he’s seen since he arrived on this awful plane—and Michael soaks it up like it’s something sacred.
Michael watches and waits.
The stench of stale human sweat stings his nostrils as the creatures seek to satiate their raging hormones on the dancefloor. His mouth pinches in disgust as he watches them gyrate and rub against each other, spilling sticky, overpriced cocktails on the floor. The glass of vodka in his hand is sharp and clean in comparison.
His eyes drag to the group of women at the bar, flitting from Amenadiel’s baby mama and the demon Mazikeen to Lucifer’s personal Barbie doll. Finally, they land on Ella Lopez and for some reason, they settle there for a beat too long.
He doesn’t think of her in comparison to something or someone else; he has no derogatory label or name for her.
He sees her and he remembers.
He remembers how gently she had touched his face, rubbing useless creams on him and chattering mindless small talk he couldn’t keep up with. He’d left her lab rather dumbstruck, unsure if he’d even said a word and smelling like coconut. He’d just stood there and let her smother him in the stuff, as though they were the finest balms against cuts made by a demon’s hell-forged dagger. Part of him thinks she could convince him they were.
It’s pathetic really, how he clings to that memory, like a dog desperate for any scraps of affection.
By the time Lucifer joins them, sliding his arms around Chloe Decker from behind and placing a kiss on her cheek, Mazikeen is beside him.
“What are you doing here, Michael?” she asks dryly, cutting to the point, “you know if Lucifer sees you, he’ll beat the shit out of you again.”
He scoffs like it’s not possible, even though he has the scar to prove it is.
“Or maybe you’re here to see me?” Maze continues, her voice light and mocking, “here to pick up where we left off, huh? Alright. I’ve got a few hours to kill and the scar does make you more attractive. Less angel, more demon, I like it. But before we go… doesn’t it bother you? Knowing that Lucifer fucked me first? Yet another way you’re second best.”
He turns to look at her, his mouth twisting bitterly. He tries not to let it affect him, this jab where it hurts, his inferiority complex, the jealousy towards his brother that blinds him. It doesn’t work; he feels his cheeks burn angrily. It’s yet another way they’re different. Embarrassment is an emotion all too routine for him and all too rare for Lucifer.
“Does it make you feel good,” he asks, “to talk about yourself that way? He might have had you first, but he doesn’t want you now, does he?” he gestures towards his brother, making sickening moon eyes at Chloe Decker like he’s incapable of seeing anyone else, “yet here you still are, hanging around like a bad smell, desperate for his attention.”
Her top lip curls into a snarl, anger and hurt flashing behind her eyes. It gives him a cheap thrill and he revels in it.
“Fuck you, Michael,” she says.
“No thanks,” he replies dryly.
When she storms off, Ella Lopez slides into her place. She throws him a smile that dissipates his anger somewhat, the hot ball curling inward, and he’s confused again.
“Not worth it, my dude,” she says sympathetically, misreading the situation between him and the demon.
“Oh, it’s not…” his voice trails off lamely, his throat inextricably dry.
“Trust me,” she laughs kindly, giving him a pat on the back, “that one will break your heart.”
She’s trying to help him again, comfort him when she has no cause to, and he thinks she’s so wrong about Mazikeen.
Demons are easy, predictable in their brutality.
She is a different creature altogether.
The next time Michael meets Ella Lopez, it’s in church.
He comes here because he’s lost, because he doesn’t belong anywhere else and he wants to be closer to God, and he thinks she comes for the same reason.
He tries to make himself smaller when he sees her, as though he can sink into the pews. She doesn’t let him and he doesn’t know why he’s surprised. Instead, she spots him from the back of the church and gives him a wave. Then she bounces straight over and just sits down next to him.
He stares at her like an idiot, an inexplicable twisting in his gut.
“I didn’t know you came here,” she says, her voice quiet out of respect.
“I don’t,” he says lamely, “I mean—I didn’t.”
She nods and makes a sign of the cross. He wants to tell her that’s pointless, that some human made it up centuries ago and it means literally nothing to his Dad, but then he remembers she’s ignorant about all that. Her so-called friends are keeping her in the dark, the only one in their little scooby gang who doesn’t know.
If she were anyone else, he would play on it, would draw out all her delicious fears—but she’s not and he doesn’t feel like it.
He can’t sense them either. Humans normally reek of it, their anxieties rolling off them in hot waves, his to pluck and play with. But this girl—she’s all light and goodness. She is unapologetically, unashamedly herself and what is there to be afraid of when you have that kind of faith?
Michael’s never felt anything quite like it.
“I’ve got a bit of a complicated relationship with the big guy,” she explains, leaning into him slightly. She smells sweet, like peaches and Chanel, and he’s frozen to the spot.
“Yeah, me too,” he huffs in what must be the biggest understatement of any century.
“I guess I can’t quite let go,” she admits with a little shrug, her fingers anxiously twirling the cross around her neck, “do you mind if I sit with you for a while? In silence, if you prefer. I know you’re not much of a talker.”
He blinks at her, dumbfounded. He knows she must be smart, being what these humans call a scientist, but he’s surprised by her emotional intelligence too, how observant she is.
He’s known her for the space of a few conversations and yet—he feels like she knows him.
He doesn’t know her. He wants to.
“I’m sorry,” he mutters, a little ashamed, “as you know, I’m not… from around here. I’m not big into conversation.”
He winces and goes to apologise again and then she’s reaching out. From where its resting on his jittery thigh, she covers his hand with her own. He wonders how she’s so warm when the bite of cold air whistles through the church.
“Hey,” she says, soft but cheerful, “don’t ever apologise for who you are.”
He blinks again, the concept foreign. For eons, he’s been sorry.
Sorry he isn’t brave, sorry he isn’t whole, sorry he isn’t Lucifer.
“Why are you being so nice?” he whispers eventually, giving form to the question that’s been burning in his brain since that day at the precinct, “surely my brother told you to stay away from me.”
Ella shrugs and sits back in the pew. She draws her hand back and his thigh inexplicably aches from the loss.
“I’ve got brothers. They’re not always the most reliable sources of information,” she laughs, “and Lucifer can be a tad dramatic. I can make my own mind up and it’s not like you’ve done anything to me. You just look like you could use a friend.”
A light scoff rolls from his chest. He doesn’t. He doesn’t need anyone. He doesn’t want anything, only to ruin his twin’s life, and yet—he can’t deny he’s enjoying her company. The warmth of her presence crawls like a blanket over his skin.
“I’d like that,” he says quietly, almost bashfully, “Ella.”
She smiles at the use of her name and gives his shoulder a little nudge. A sharp jolt of pain shoots through him, the age-old injury smarting, but he forces his expression to stay neutral.
“Me too, Michael,” she says and he thinks his name has never sounded sweeter, “and besides, you don’t have to be what everyone says you are. You can always change. I mean, look at your brother. If LA’s—no, the world’s—biggest man-slut can fall in love, anything is possible.”
Michael’s mouth twitches but it’s not quite a smile—because that’s different. His twin is always reinventing himself, making adjustments, effortlessly morphing from that snake in the Garden to the man who wears expensive three piece suits and a smile like a weapon.
Before Lucifer was Lucifer, he was Samael, but Michael… he can’t remember being anything else.
He can’t remember being anything other than this, this broken shell of an angel, a man. Never quite enough.
They fall into a strange routine, he and Ella Lopez.
They see each other once a week, sometimes twice, cloaked in the half-darkness of the church. They sit in the same pew and his thigh shakes and she toys with the cross around her neck. They cover big topics like the meaning of life and an afterlife she doesn’t know really exists. Sometimes they talk about their day, or a new case she’s working. Sometimes they talk about silly, meaningless things and sometimes they don’t talk at all.
She always talks more than he does, which is fine. He likes to listen.
It doesn’t take long until these meetings, likely secret for her (he doesn’t have anyone to tell anyway), become the highlight of his week. Of course, he’s still plotting against his brothers, trying to think of a way to hurt Lucifer and playing on Amenadiel’s fears over protecting his brat, but he keeps it separate from whatever this is with Ella. He tries to convince himself this is acceptable, when deep down, that pesky guilt eats away at him.
It also doesn’t take long for Lucifer to find out.
On one particularly balmy summer’s day, Michael starts talking when he feels a presence approaching the pew. There’s a book in his hands, one she let him borrow, and he’s a bundle of nervous, excited energy as he babbles—
“You were right, it is his best one yet—” the words die on his tongue as he glances up to see Lucifer, not Ella, standing in the shadow of the pew.
His twin’s jaw is set, clenched tight, a darkly solemn expression written on his face. It’s rare to see, totally uncharacteristic for Lucifer who loves to play, and Michael sinks a little in his seat.
“Expecting someone else?” Lucifer asks with an arched brow, his hands clasped behind his back.
Michael grumbles a half-reply, stubbornly averting his gaze.
Lucifer sits down next to him and sniffs, giving a prim tug on his jacket.
Then he says, “she’s with her boyfriend.”
Michael frowns, the words hitting him square in the chest and sinking into the pit of his stomach. She talks about her brother and her friends and the new niece she hasn’t met yet, but she’s never once mentioned a boyfriend. He wonders why and he wonders why he cares, why it feels like the worst news he’s received since he arrived on earth.
He burns under the weight of Lucifer’s judgemental glare.
“She told me about your little coffee mornings,” he says snidely, “even called you a friend. Look Michael, I don’t know what you’re playing at but—”
“I’m not playing at anything,” Michael snaps back, “we are friends.”
Lucifer blinks, staring at him for a beat before his expression darkens. He leans forward and grabs him by the scruff of the neck, his top lip curling into a snarl.
“Miss Lopez has a kind heart,” he starts, “she is insufferably selfless and good and we both know you are not. You will end this farce now before you hurt her—and we both know you will hurt her—because you’re a liar and a coward.”
Michael’s jaw clenches as he stares his brother down, seeing his own anger reflected back at him. It’s like looking in a mirror, dual sides of the same coin.
“You’re the one lying to her,” he seethes, trying to squirm out of his vice-like grip, “which is odd, considering you never do that. Or am I to believe you’ve told her who you are—who we are?”
Lucifer practically growls, a muscle in his cheek twitching.
“I swear to Dad—”
Michael cuts him off, a bitter choked sound rolling from his throat.
“—in this, His holy house?” his eyes flicker to their surroundings, “how very sacrilegious, Samael.”
“Don’t call me that,” Lucifer hisses, hellfire flashing through his eyes as he loses his temper, “and I don’t give a fuck where we are. I mean it, Michael. Stay away from her. You ever come at me through my friends again, I’ll carve up more than just your face.”
He lets him go with a shove and Michael grins past the shooting pain in his shoulder. He’s so outrageously selfish, he can’t possibly fathom that this isn’t about him.
“There he is,” Michael seethes.
Lucifer ignores him, standing and brushing some invisible fluff off his expensive, tailored suit.
He gives him one more look of disdain.
“You really think it’s possible a human—a kind, selfless human could care for you?”
Michael’s mouth twists into a humourless smirk.
“I don’t know,” he starts and lets the next words hang in the air significantly, “perhaps we should ask Chloe Decker?”
He doesn’t stay away from Ella, obviously, and she doesn’t mention her boyfriend.
Until one day, she does, and so much more.
He’s not great with human emotions, but he can tell she’s upset, and suddenly he can’t disconnect her and his darker side anymore. She’s staring at him with betrayal in her eyes, unshed tears making them glassy, and he knows.
“You kidnapped Chloe,” she breathes, the words catching on a shaky breath, “how could you do that?”
She sounds so betrayed, so hurt, he feels it in his chest, like breathing in tiny shards of glass.
“Ella, you have to understand, this is bigger than us. My brother—”
“Who cares?” she cries sharply, raising her voice, “your brother isn’t Chloe. She didn’t do anything wrong. Who do you think you are? Who do either of you think you are? We’re not your toys, you can’t just play with us. You’re a liar.”
He swallows past the dryness in his throat, his fingers itching at his sides.
“I never lied to you,” he tries.
“Now you sound like him,” she scoffs, “withholding the truth is the same thing, Michael. You’ve all been lying to me. Were you trying to humiliate me? Have you been, like, making fun of me?”
“Of course not,” he frowns, his tone a little outraged, but it only seems to stoke her anger.
“You sat here with me in this church for months listening to me struggle with my faith, knowing it was real the whole time. Knowing you were a fucking angel. This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous.”
She starts babbling and he’s heard her talk quickly before, so quickly he’s concerned she’ll forget to breathe, but this is different. She’s not excited or enthusiastic; she sounds shattered. He wonders if humans have an off switch and how he can find hers, how he can stop her hurting.
“Ella, I understand how you feel—”
“—you have no idea how I feel,” she spits lowly, furiously wiping away a tear that spills onto her flushed cheek, “you haven’t just had your entire world turned upside down. Your friends haven’t been lying to you for years. You haven’t just found out your boyfriend is a fucking serial killer and was just using you to keep ahead of an investigation. But then I guess you were using me too, weren’t you? To get close to Lucifer. Everyone uses me—sweet, kind, pushover Ella. Everyone keeps me in the dark.”
He frowns, his mind struggling to compute this new information. He hadn’t known the boyfriend existed a few weeks ago and now he’s a murderer and Ella looks broken.
He pushes past it. He’s always been an inherently selfish creature and he’s twisted and bitter and angry, but never at her.
“I wasn’t using you,” he says quietly, “I wasn’t—and I wasn’t going to hurt Chloe. I wanted to hurt Lucifer. I know how that sounds but you have to understand, this has been going on for, well, quite literally eons.”
He can see he’s losing her, she doesn’t care, and when she looks at him again, her eyes are empty.
“I thought we were friends,” she whispers tearfully.
He opens his mouth to reply but nothing comes out.
He tries again but she’s shaking her head and walking away from him and for the first time in centuries, Michael feels that cold knife called guilt twist in his stomach.
She stops coming to church, so he turns up on her door.
“What part of me avoiding you do you not get?” she asks tiredly, her fingers wrapping tight around the door frame. She stands close to it, letting it shield her body, and he wonders if she’s afraid of him. Somehow that’s worse than her being angry.
“I was worried,” he says and the word feels strange on his tongue. Worried about a human. It doesn’t sound right.
She looks unmoved. She looks tired. There are purplish bruises under her eyes that humans get when they haven’t slept in days.
“Don’t be,” she says flatly, “I’m fine.”
“I heard Pete Daily will be going to prison for the rest of his life,” he blurts out.
By heard he means drew the information out of Mazikeen in-between drawing out her fears and stoking her anger at Lucifer, and he thinks Ella should be happy about her sorry excuse for an ex getting the justice these humans love so much—but she just looks sadder.
More than anything, more than he wants his broken body to be fixed, more than he wants to hurt Lucifer, more than he wants Father’s love, he wants her to smile again.
He’s become addicted to her—to them.
Her hand tightens around the doorframe again.
“Just go home, Michael,” she says tiredly and he doesn’t know if she’s referring to the shitty apartment he’s renting on the other side of town or the Silver City.
Then he realises it doesn’t matter—he doesn’t belong in either.
He’s not stalking her.
He’s merely keeping an eye on her, because she doesn’t come to church anymore and through reluctant, gritted teeth, Lucifer said she doesn’t come to work either. She doesn’t respond to the clumsy texts he tries to send from the phone he can’t work out and the general feeling is that she’s spiralling out of control.
So he ends up in the shitty dive bar she’s at, watching her from the corner—but he is absolutely, unequivocally not stalking her.
Her eyes are glassy and glazed over when she notices him. This time the cause isn’t sadness, but the copious amounts of alcohol he’s sure she’s consumed.
She stares at him unashamedly, her expression shuttered and unreadable, and this time, she’s not talking. She doesn’t say a word, just watches him. It’s only a minute or so, but still the longest they’ve ever spent in silence. It stretches out between them, wide and intense, something unspoken brimming under the surface. It’s been unspoken for so long, this strange and rare and fragile thing between them. He doesn’t have a name for it, doesn’t know if there is a name for it, this connection burning under the skin.
He opens his mouth to speak but she holds a hand up.
“Shut up,” she says, “I’m going to finish this drink. I’m going to dance. And then you’re going to take me home.”
He blinks, stunned, and then she’s snapping—
—and all he can manage is a quiet, confused, “okay.”
“Are you a virgin, Michael?”
He almost spits out the vodka she’s poured for him, the strong liquid burning in his throat and behind his nose.
She’s unapologetic, leaning forward against the kitchen counter, half-bathed in the moonlight that streams in through the window.
“You heard me.”
From across her, he shifts in her uncomfortable bar stool. He’s literally older than time, so he’s embarrassed to admit it. There’s no sex in the Silver City, at least not in the ways humans understand it, no drugs or any other vices. It was one of the reasons Lucifer rebelled, his power to draw out desires frustratingly muted in a place that forbade them. But Michael’s power, to coax out those hidden fears, had never been more fitting. Everyone in the Silver City desperately tried to pretend they felt no desire at all.
His experiences are few and far between, consigned to those recent fumbles on earth—the brutality of Maze and the softness of Chloe Decker when she thought he was his twin.
He wonders how it would feel with her and he whispers, “yes.”
She nods, her expression unreadable. He doesn’t know if it’s the answer she wanted or not, but then she’s walking around the counter until she’s standing in-front of him. He feels himself tense, his fingers tightening around the glass in his hand. He places it on the counter and holds onto it like an anchor.
She steps between his spread thighs.
She’s too close, and yet not close enough, and Michael can’t think. He can’t breathe.
“Do you think I’m a good person?” she whispers suddenly, her voice quiet and thin, and he registers the slight tremble in her bottom lip.
He frowns, confused, because she’s the best person. She’s the sort of person who always puts others first, who helps old ladies cross the street, and donates to charity and carries a light with her everywhere she goes. But now that light is a little dim behind her eyes, her energy snuffed out like an extinguished flame, and maybe that’s why she’s asking.
“Yes,” he murmurs and then tells her the reason why, “you spent time with me when no-one else would. You looked at me and saw something worth saving.”
He watches the movement of her throat as she swallows, her eyes glassy again.
“You didn’t tell me the truth either.”
“I didn’t know how to.”
“Everyone lies… and clearly darkness is drawn to me,” she says, her tone short and dull, “you think I’m worth saving?”
The corner of his mouth twitches but it’s not quite a smile.
His exhale is one of heavy resignation.
“I think you’re perfect,” he admits quietly.
She huffs, a humourless little rush of breath, and then her hands are cupping his face.
The air thins, burning and pulsing between them like a living thing, and then she kisses him.
They fall into another routine.
This time, they don’t meet in church. In-fact, a church is the last place you would do the things they’ve started to do. If he were a better man, he would question why she’s acting like this. He would know that meeting her in secret, touching her in the dark when no-one can see, when he can smell the whiskey on her breath and taste her tears… it isn’t right.
But he’s not a better man.
He’s weak and confused and lonely and, above all, captivated by her.
She tastes like the earth and sea, human and raw and nothing like the clinical coldness of heaven. She clings to him like she needs to be reminded she’s alive, that she can taste and touch and feel; she’s not broken. Even in her sadness, she’s so real, tangible, and he wonders if this is how Lucifer felt when he touched Eve for the first time—like touching a livewire.
“Stop thinking,” she’s whispering into the hollow of his throat, sucking a bloom into his skin before she elaborates, “you think too much.”
A hum rolls from his chest. It’s not something he’s often accused of. She doesn’t want to think; he doesn’t want to talk. So he wraps a hand in her loose hair, dark brunette strands slipping through his fingers, and drags her to him.
He kisses her, his tongue sliding into her mouth. The last human he kissed was Chloe Decker and she didn’t taste nearly as sweet. She practically reeked of misery, her fears rolling off her so strongly, they set his teeth on edge. She had known he wasn’t his brother, as her mouth skimmed along his jaw, and then she put a bullet in him to prove it.
Then it was all Lucifer this, Lucifer that.
He still remembers the sickening way Gabriel’s voice had been full of awe as he told them all what Lucifer had done, how he had returned to hell and sacrificed his own happiness. He remembers Castiel singing a fucking song about it and the way little Azrael’s eyes had teared up for she had always loved him best.
Up there or down here, it’s still Lucifer.
It’s always Lucifer.
But it’s not Lucifer now, Michael thinks smugly, as he flips the pretty scientist over and settles between her thighs. It’s not Lucifer sliding inside her and making her moan, like two jagged puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together; sometimes broken things heal crooked.
“Michael,” she murmurs like a prayer.
He swallows her gasp as her back hits the wall, ripping his mouth away to plant hot, open mouthed kisses down the length of her neck.
She moans his name, her hips rolling against his, and he sucks in a harsh breath over his teeth. Her fingers thread in his hair, tugging the strands slightly, and she spreads her legs wider to accommodate him. She’s so warm and so good and in the moment, so his, and Michael’s dizzy with it.
She doesn’t like to talk, doesn’t like to think, when they’re like this—and he’s never liked to do much of either. So he just kisses his way up her neck, her jaw, her cheek, until his mouth is slotting over hers again. It’s all tongues, teeth, heat and passion, and he hikes her thigh up over his hip. He grinds against her, rutting like one of those humans he says he isn’t, and it’s only when her fingers scratch down his back that he freezes.
A sharp jolt of pain courses through him, dousing his arousal as effectively as a bucket of ice water over his head. He hisses through his teeth as her nails dig into his damaged shoulder blade.
“I’m sorry!” she blurts out, pulling her hand back from his scarred flesh, “are you alright?”
He nods, his breathing heavy against her mouth as their foreheads touch. She kisses him once more, gentle and soft this time, an apology.
Ever a scientist, thirsty for knowledge, curiosity dances behind her eyes.
“Can I…” she swallows, her hand kind of hovering mid-air, before she tries again, “can I see?”
He swallows too, the request causing anxiety to bubble in the pit of his stomach. He hates his injury and everything it represents, hates how ruined he is, and it’s difficult for him to be so vulnerable.
But despite everything, he trusts her. He knows she doesn’t judge him, doesn’t see him as some broken thing. So he pulls back, lifts his shirt over his head and turns around.
She touches him and a shudder that has nothing to do with the coldness of her fingers traces down his spine. He screws his eyes shut as painful memories sear behind his vision. He sees the war again, all the blood and pain, leading holy warriors against his brother and playing a part in his defeat. He feels the agony of Sandalphon’s spear slicing his skin, pushing through muscle and bone and thrusting through to the other side. He sees what Ella must see; the raised flesh, the ugly scar, and then she’s whispering—
“Can I see your wings?”
—and he screws his eyes shut tighter and lets them unfurl. It’s with a certain agony that he pushes them out, it’s not effortless like it is with Lucifer and Amenadiel, and they displace the air, slow and limp. He burns under her inquisitive gaze as she stares at his shoulder, at the patch of broken wing where the feathers never grew back.
“You’re an angel,” she whispers, gently dancing her fingers over the damaged wing.
He hasn’t felt like an angel in a long time but bathed in her light, he feels like one now.
“He did this, didn’t he?”
Her voice is quiet as she gently touches his forehead, tracing the jagged line that dissects his face. He recoils through instinct, his barriers flying up around him, but her touch is steady as it drifts over angry scar tissue and raised skin. The scar is long healed, but he’s still in pain.
“Because you came after him,” she adds, her voice quiet but not particularly accusatory, “because you came after Chloe.”
It’s more complicated than that—and yet, it’s not.
There’s always been this rivalry between them, dating back to the fall, but none of it seemed to matter to Lucifer before Chloe Decker.
They’d argued and they’d fought, but it was only the threat of losing her that could push him that far. It had pushed him to kill their brother, after-all. Michael had never cared much for Uriel, thinking him sickly and weak, but he was family.
Lucifer had murdered one brother and mutilated another and still—no word from dear old Dad.
Bitterness rises like bile from the back of his throat, the scar on his face burning like it’s new. He had led an army, he had fought a war for him, all because his selfish brother wanted a taste of freedom—and this scar was his reward.
“I suppose,” he says finally, emptily.
She nods, her hand still hovering over the scar and then he notices something. He reaches out and grabs her hand, his brows drawing into a frown at the silvery, thin tracks on the inside of her wrist. She bristles and tries to pull her hand back, but his fingers are like tight, metal cuffs.
“What is this?” he asks lowly, like he’s praying for her to give him a different answer. They’re talking about scars and his brother did this to him, but she did this to herself, and his gut twists in sadness.
“It’s nothing,” she mumbles and tries to pull away again.
She leans in to kiss him, their hands sandwiched between their chests. He lets her for a moment, finds comfort in the distraction, before he pulls back.
She frowns, releasing a huff of annoyance against his mouth. He tries to remember her smile, her laugh. It was a small and musical sound. Back when he met her all those months ago, he remembers thinking it had been a long time since he’d heard something so lovely. Even in its absence, looking at her now, half bathed in lamplight and his mind still fogged with pain and anger, the same thought burns through his mind.
She is lovely and lonely and lethal—still.
He wants to tell her as much. He wants to tell her she is brave and she is strong, but the words lodge in his throat. He takes her hand again, turns it over in his own, and feels her flinch when his dark eyes sweep over her unsettlingly fresh scars.
“I can cover them up,” she mumbles numbly, mistaking his agonised silence for discomfort.
He shakes his head and nuzzles into her, the grit of his stubble sliding over her damaged skin.
“I told you,” he murmurs against the inside of her wrist, “you’re perfect.”
She scoffs—a small, disbelieving sound.
He shakes his head again and gently kisses her wrist.
“If you’re broken, so am I,” he says, an ache in his chest, because though he hasn’t tried to go back to the Silver City, he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed back in. Being inside her is the closest he’ll ever get to heaven again—and if they were parted, if this were to end and he was alone again… then he would surely understand hell.
He’s fallen, he’s quite sure of that now, but somehow it doesn’t seem to matter when Ella Lopez is hurting so much.
She swallows and tries a smile.
“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird, huh?”
He frowns, not understanding.
“Because of my wings?”
She blinks at him before she laughs, awarding him that pretty, musical sound he’s missed.
“We really need to get you a Netflix account, dude,” she smirks and before, he would have hated the stupid moniker, but now, it’s a glimpse of the old Ella and he soaks it up. A light bulb goes off in his head as he realises she must be referencing one of those TV shows or films these humans love so much.
She twists her tired body until she’s straddling him.
She leans down to press her lips against the bridge of his nose, kissing his scar as he kissed hers.
Everything changes, the night Ella uses his power.
They’re in Lux, pretending not to notice each other, her a few feet away talking to Chloe, him brooding by the bar. His superior hearing means he can just about make out what they’re saying—not that he’s listening, of course—and he’s suddenly struck by a realisation.
He hasn’t tried to mess with Lucifer or Chloe Decker for months. The revelation settles heavy in his chest and sinks down to the pit of his belly. It just doesn’t seem to matter anymore and he’s trying to be better. He doesn’t know what to make of it, what to do with it, and through it all, his eyes keep being dragged back to Ella Lopez.
For a minute, she’s all he can see.
Then he realises something else—from that day in the precinct, she’s been all he can see.
“Just ask him,” she’s saying, her hand on Chloe’s arm, and then she laughs a little and adds, “I mean, what are you so afraid of?”
Chloe’s eyes widen before they go glassy and blank, her body pulled towards Ella like a magnet, and Michael knows that look.
“That he doesn’t love me,” she whispers, spilling her fears like she’s been hypnotised, “that he doesn't feel the same way that I feel about him… and that’s why he hasn’t said it back.”
Ella drops her arm like she’s been burned.
Michael feels his own eyes widen, matching the Detective’s shocked expression.
“Did you just…” she starts before clearing her throat and trying again, “…draw out my fears?”
Ella blinks, stunned, and then Chloe’s eyes drag to Michael behind her. She stares and he stares right back. He sees the moment the light bulb goes off in her head.
Her expression flickers and changes to one he can’t read, then she’s grabbing Lucifer as he walks past. She drags them away into a hidden corner, half cloaked in shadow, and Michael can’t hear them, but he can see them. He sees his brother’s salacious grin melt into something harder, sees the moment the inevitable quip about a quickie in the dark dies on his tongue. His steely eyes snap to Michael and he practically snarls.
Michael’s mouth twists in almost-amusement, his fingers tightening around his glass of vodka. Lucifer can be so charming, it’s easy to forget he’s dangerous. Now the others would see, all these little sycophants he surrounds himself with who think he’s better.
He makes his way over to him and gestures to the bartender. A glass of whiskey is slid over to him in no time. He leans against the bar and turns to Michael. Chloe returns to a rather pale looking Ella.
“What have you done?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Lucifer’s jaw locks.
“What did you do to Miss Lopez?”
Michael bites back the lewd responses on the tip of his tongue because what hasn’t he done to Ella Lopez?
“The Detective tells me she used your mojo. Do you want to tell me how that’s possible?”
Michael’s gut flares with anger.
“Why are you so shocked? Didn’t the same thing happen to your precious Chloe?”
Lucifer cocks an easy brow, taking a sip of whiskey and hissing past the pleasant burn it leaves.
“That’s different,” he insists lowly, “we’d had sex… and we were in love.”
Michael bristles under the implication, just as Lucifer realises what it means. His eyes flash red and then darken, his top lip curling as he grabs his arm and Michael angrily shrugs him off.
“I told you to stay away from her,” he growls lowly.
“Yeah well, I don’t take orders from you,” he bites back, “not then, not now.”
“You’re taking advantage of her.”
Michael’s anger flares again, red hot and piercing.
“I’m the only one who’s not,” he hisses, “you used her while you were busy playing cop and you lied to her for all these years. You told her what you wanted to tell her, what suited you. I listen to her. I understand her and I see every part of her—all the nasty, scared, dark parts you don’t want to see. You’re so busy waiting for her to go back to normal—bright, sunny Ella—you won’t let yourself accept the fact that she may never be that person again. And that’s okay too.”
Lucifer stays silent, contemplative, and finally his eyes narrow.
“I’ve never heard you talk like this.”
Michael scoffs humourlessly. He’s never felt like this either.
“Focus on your own relationship, Samael,” he says dryly, knocking back the last of his vodka and not missing how his brother’s eye practically twitches at the name, “you say you gave your power to Chloe Decker because you were in love with her—maybe you should tell her that.”
He pushes past his stiff brother—and wonders if he’s in love with Ella Lopez.
“Michael—” his name bleeds into a moan as his mouth grazes her jaw, “—what do you truly fear?”
He stiffens, his fingers flexing and biting at her waist. A tortured noise rolls from his chest and he turns his face away, screwing his eyes shut.
“Don’t do that,” he chokes out.
She’s stubborn, unashamed, as she tugs at his hair until he hisses through his teeth and makes him lift his head.
He meets her eyes, dark and blazing.
“You don’t want to speak,” she whispers, her voice flat, “put your mouth on me then.”
Normally he would. He would drop to his knees right here in the kitchen, where she’s currently pinned to the counter, and worship at her altar until his jaw ached. He would feel her thighs tremble, her breathy sighs filling his ears, the taste of her sweet on his tongue. But something is in the air tonight, in the aftermath of the revelation at Lux, and they’re long overdue for a serious talk.
“What happened tonight?” he asks quietly, his voice a little huskier, deeper, from all the kissing, “with Chloe Decker.”
“I just asked her a question,” Ella says dully, “I didn’t know that would happen. Why don’t you tell me why it did?”
He sighs in defeat, completely surrendering, because it’s exhausting carrying this resentment around. He’s felt it for so long, it’s like a millstone around his neck, and he’s tired.
He’s tired and sorry and he wants to be good. He wants to be enough.
He realises although he reflects people’s fears onto them the way Lucifer reflects their desires… no-one is afraid of him. He’s not charming like Lucifer. He’s not brave like Chloe Decker. He’s not strong like Amenadiel or loyal like Maze or kind like Ella. He’s weak and in what is probably Dad’s cruellest joke—afraid.
He thinks Ella sees that. He thinks that’s why they’re here, right now, wrapped up in this strange bond neither can name.
“These little power switches… they seem to be all about being vulnerable. Opening up to another person. My brother chose to let Chloe Decker see him for what he truly is—and I think I want you to see me too. You make me want to be a better man.”
She swallows, her eyes searching his face, and his hands are still anchored on her waist.
“You think I love you like Chloe loves Lucifer?” she asks quietly, an almost cruel edge to her voice.
“No,” he shakes his head, “but I think you could.”
She holds his gaze as she reaches behind her and pulls out a knife from the wooden block. The light from the dimly lit kitchen bounces off the steel as she turns it over in her hands. Her eyes are still empty and dark as she presses the blade against his throat, just under the collar of his shirt.
“Chloe can hurt Lucifer,” she starts evenly, the blade digging into his skin, “so you’re saying if I push this into your throat, it would hurt you too?”
He keeps her eyes, wanting her to understand, wanting her to see.
She swallows again.
“Because I’m close to you?” she whispers.
His mouth twitches gently.
“Only one way to find out.”
He wants her to. He’s burning to find out the answer. She pushes the blade in harder, hard enough to break the skin, and when she pulls it back, the pain is a little delayed. But then it’s there like a sharp stab, and there’s specks of red on his fingers when he touches them to the wound.
“I’m sorry,” she chokes out, half-intrigued, half-horrified.
He blinks and then laughs.
“Don’t be,” he says because he’s alive and she did that for him.
She drops the knife to her side and then lets it fall from between her fingers. The clang as it hits the floor penetrates the heavy silence. He feels her body start to tremble against him and his brows pull into a frown.
She laughs but there’s no humour in it. She pushes away from him, putting some distance between them, and his hands ache from the loss.
“This is,” she mutters, “Michael, I’m using you…”
His brows knit together again, confusion seizing tight in his chest.
“I’m hardly complaining,” he tries his hand at humour, but it’s never really been his thing, and she shakes her head.
“…and it’s killing me,” she finishes, her eyes suddenly glassy with tears.
The air between them bristles, burning white hot, and a pain that has nothing to do with the blood seeping into his collar courses through him.
“I knew you liked me,” she continues flatly, evenly, “I knew you saw me as more than a friend. It’s why I didn’t tell you about Pete—I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. But then… everything happened… and I felt so lost. I used you to feel something. I used you because I knew you’d say yes.”
“Are you trying to hurt me?” he asks roughly.
“No,” she shakes her head, “I’m trying to make you see—I’m not perfect. I’m not the Ella I used to be. Something has fundamentally changed in me and it scares me. The bad guys are all I’ve ever thought I deserved and I wanted to be punished. I wanted you because you were bad, Michael. Do you understand?”
He pushes past the wave of pain that crashes over him, the bitterness and resentment that comes hurtling back to the surface. He knows what she’s trying to do. Maybe he should feel embarrassed, humiliated, he hates the fact that she might have felt sorry for him once, but he pushes through it.
She’s scared and she’s pushing him away and maybe it started like that—but things are different now.
She’s taken his power and made him bleed and that has to mean something.
What she doesn't understand, what she's never understood, is that he sees every part of her. He sees the bright and bubbly and light, as everyone does. He sees her kindness. But he also sees her darkness. He sees the way her eyes go a little dim sometimes when she's deep in thought, like the lights are on but no-one's home. He's listened to her stories about her hard upbringing, and the things she had to do to survive. He knows she's not a perfect, fragile little doll and he wants her for her strength.
“I know you’re not perfect,” he starts, taking a step towards her, “I’m not either. I was bad, I’ve done bad things, but that’s not all I am. You told me I didn’t have to be that way. You showed me that I’m still an angel. You’re hurt, Ella. Who wouldn’t be after everything you’ve been through? But you’re not broken. You still have that light inside you—I can see it.”
She shakes her head, her lips pursed to contain her tears, but he can see her strength and resistance waning. Perhaps she’s as tired as he is and when his hands reach out to cup her face, she doesn’t push him away.
She’s so good, she’s made him good—or at least made him want to try. Her light has struggled, a flame flickering and fighting against the wind to stay alight, but it’s still there. It’s shimmied over his own skin, fighting to penetrate, fighting for a way in.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, the words choking on a sob, and her fingers come up to wrap around his wrists. He’s still cupping her face and she holds on tight, like he’s an anchor, keeping her from sinking into despair.
“Ask me again,” he says suddenly, his thumb swiping across her cheekbone to wipe away a tear, “Ella, ask me what I fear.”
She takes a breath and looks into his eyes.
“What do you truly fear?”
He feels that pull, the air pulsing and thrumming towards her, and all those pesky anxieties drag from the pit of his belly. The fear of never being as good as Lucifer, never being as loved. The fear of being alone, never finding his place, disappointing Dad, the fear of Hell. They all swirl for precedence inside him—and then out of the corner of his eye, he catches sight of those silvery scars on the inside of her wrist and he knows what he’s most afraid of in this world or any other.
“The only thing I’m truly afraid of…” he starts, held in place by her eyes, “…is losing you.”
A choked sob falls from her lips before she winds her arms around his neck and pulls him into her embrace.
She holds him and he holds on right back, dizzyingly, overwhelmingly, completely in love.
She might not be there, not yet, but she needs him in a way that’s undeniable. For now, he’s the one who's helping her heal, who nurtures her light and who she cares about deeply.
For her, it might not quite be love yet—but Michael can wait.
After-all, he’s got nothing but time.