Lucifer Morningstar could never understand the fascination with Christmas.
The bloody singing, the mad rush as everyone pushed each other back and forth on the streets, the ugly decorations everywhere.... It made absolutely no sense to him that people would celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. After all, Lucifer himself and all of his siblings were also the children of dear old Dad, but no one celebrated them!
Oh wait, there was Michaelmas... that prick...! If his sodding brother Michael somehow earned himself a holiday, then surely he, Lucifer, Lord of Hell, deserved one too? He supposed there was Halloween, but that didn’t count. Halloween was not known as Lucifer Day or Satanmas or All Hell’s Eve, or Luciferia -- and it should have been! Hm.... Luciferia. He liked that!
With a big sigh, he shrugged. Oh well. Who knew what drove humans to do what they did? It really didn’t matter much to him, anyway, for this year was different. This year the detective and her little spawn had invited him over for Christmas. It thrilled him that he had family -- real family! -- to spend the bloody holiday with, and he wanted it to be special. The only problem was that he didn’t know what to do! He was the Devil -- Christmas celebrations were just not his thing.
He decided to ask the detective about what the proper procedure for Christmas was. As he strode beside her in the mall, dodging screaming spawn and pushy mothers, he struggled to get his questions answered by Chloe.
“I mean, what is the point?” he asked as a mother bumped into him without so much as a ‘by your leave.’ “Other than the whole spawn of Dad thing. I don’t understand what’s so great about it. After all, I’m his son as well! And the favorite, if I may add,” he said proudly.
Chloe stopped dead in the middle of the mall walkway and turned to him. “What are you talking about?”
“Christmas, my dear detective! Please try to keep up.” Now that he finally had her attention, he grew excited as he presented his case. “Seriously! Why all the bloody decorations? The pushing? The shoving? The tree?! Why would anyone want to cut down a perfectly good tree, only to watch it dry up and become a fire hazard in their living room? Not that I mind fire; I actually like the thought of watching the bloody thing go up in a blaze of glory --” His voice petered out as he realized that his lovely girlfriend was staring at him like he had two heads. “What?”
“You’ve never celebrated Christmas?” she asked.
Bloody hell, was that pity in her eyes? Lucifer frowned mightily and said defensively, “I’ve celebrated Christmas.”
He had the sudden urge to start fidgeting. “Well, at LUX. We always have people coming in --”
“No, I mean with people you love. You know, maybe Maze? Amenadiel? Sit down with family and friends and have a dinner with all the trimmings?”
“I’ve never... I’ve...” Lucifer’s voice grew quiet. “I never had a real family, Detective. I’ve always been alone.” Horrified at what he was revealing, he suddenly laughed and said brightly, “I’m the Devil, Detective! Far be it from me to celebrate a holiday that’s honoring dear old Dad and kin!”
An anxious look fell over Chloe’s face as she said, “Oh, Lucifer, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to --”
“Oh and there’s that bloody charlatan again!” Desperate to change the subject, the Devil dashed over to an overweight, bearded fellow dressed in a red suit who stood by a clothing store. Eyeing the man up and down, he said, “Bloody hell, if you’re going to be impersonating me, then why have you let yourself go?”
“Huh?” the man with the white beard asked as Lucifer tapped his large stomach.
“I mean, just look at yourself! If you’re going to be me, you need the physique to go with it! Here, let me show you --”
Lucifer heard Chloe screech his name behind him as he doffed off all his clothes and stood naked before the man. The man’s eyes grew round as he looked the Devil up and down, while parents and kids went screaming this way and that. Lucifer wasn’t sure what the commotion was all about, but surely it was because this red-suited charlatan dared to do such a poor job impersonating him!
And then Chloe was suddenly there, grabbing his trousers and wrapping them quickly around his waist, so that his crown jewels were covered. “Sorry, folks!” she yelled out. “Performance artist!” In a strangled voice, she snapped, “What the hell are you doing?!”
“What? I’m just showing this poor sod that if he wants to impersonate me, he’s doing a mighty poor job of it --”
He watched her scoop up his clothes and shove them into his hands before marching him through the retail store to where the dressing rooms were located. With jerky motions she whipped open a door and shoved him through it. “Goddamn it, Lucifer! Why did you think he was impersonating you, of all people?! Now get dressed!”
Lucifer snagged her wrist before she could shut the door and dragged her in before locking them into the room. Pulling her close, he whispered, “Alone at last!” and kissed her passionately. He felt her struggle against him for a moment before her body melted against his; then she was pulling him ever closer. Ah, he loved the Detective’s fire!
Lucifer smiled triumphantly as he finally broke off the kiss... but his victory was short-lived, for the next thing he knew, her fist was in his eye. “Bloody hell, Detective!” he yelped as he grabbed a hold of his smarting eye.
“Goddamn it, Lucifer! Stop being naked in public!” Chloe seethed at him as she threw the clothes he had dropped back at him. “Now get dressed!”
Shooting her a mopey look, he started pulling on his clothes. “I don’t see what the problem is --”
“You were naked in front of Santa!”
“What, that charlatan?!” he cried indignantly as he slid the trousers onto his legs. “He needed to see what bloody perfection looked like --”
Chloe heaved a big sigh. “Why do you keep calling Santa a charlatan?!”
“Because he is one!” Lucifer barked. “Running about, like he was Dad or something....” With swift, jerky movements, he thrust his arms through his shirtsleeves. “Look, Detective, There’s only one Old Nick, and that’s me! And to top it off, my name is misspelled -- it’s Satan, not Santa!”
To his dismay, his girlfriend laughed in his face. “Lucifer, Santa is not Satan! Santa is Santa! Jolly old Saint Nick!”
“Bloody hell, love! Like I said, Old Nick is me! I’m not jolly, and I’m certainly not a saint, like that big, misshapen bearded fellow claims to be!” he fumed. “Of all the horrifying things I have seen on this planet, that has to top the list! Dressing in red, as if he thinks red is the only color the Devil wears.... Granted, I do like red, but a dark burgundy is much more appealing! And the nerve of that charlatan, thinking he’s me -- when he looks nothing like me! I mean, just look at this perfect physique!”
Chuckling as she helped him with his cufflinks, Chloe said, “Well, yes, you do have a fine physique, but Santa’s not the Devil --”
Lucifer was deaf to her protest as he sat down on the dressing bench and pulled on his shoes. “And since when do I take pictures with little humans on my knees while those tiny buggers make demands upon me? Shameful, it is. Absolutely shameful!” he cried.
“Yes, well, no more flashing Santas, okay?” she said as she rolled her eyes. “You’re going to end up arrested.”
“Ooooh, by you?” he asked excitedly. “Do we finally get to try out all the uses for your handcuffs? A little bondage might be fun --”
Chloe sighed and shook her head. “No, Lucifer,” she said with exaggerated patience.
“Pity.” As she started to reach for the door, the Devil stopped her with a hand on hers and gently pulled her down to sit next to him. “Detective....”
Her eyebrows went up. “Yes?”
Lucifer took Chloe’s hand in his and began fiddling with it. An unaccustomed nervousness gripped him, and he took a deep breath to steady his nerves. Unable to look at her in the eye, he stared down at their hands as he asked, “Can.. can you tell me what I’m supposed to do?”
“Do?” There was stunned silence for a long moment; chancing a peek at the detective, he saw surprise on her face. “What do you mean?”
He swallowed hard. “For... for Christmas. What am I supposed to do?”
“I thought you were coming over...?” she asked, puzzled.
“Well, of course. But... I don’t know what I’m supposed to... do.”
Her eyes gentled as she took her hand out of his and gave him a big hug. Without hesitation, he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair. Ah, that was nice! Leave it to the detective to find a way to restore his equilibrium!
When she pulled back, she tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow and smiled kindly at him. “Just be with us. That’s all you need to do.” A grimace, like a spasm, crossed her face. “Mom might be there, but... it will be okay.”
Lucifer saw her expression at the mention of Penelope, and frowned. “My apologies regarding Thanksgiving.... It’s my fault that it turned out to be so --”
“No,” Chloe said, cutting him off. Giving him a bright smile, she said, “Thanksgiving was perfect,” and kissed him on the cheek.
He felt the wretched heat infuse his cheeks. “Ah. Yes. Well.... It was perfect for me, too.”
“Good. Now let’s go face the crowds and see if we can get some shopping done,” she said and made to get up, but he stopped her.
“Wait... that’s also something I don’t understand. Why are you buying things?”
She sat back down and frowned. “Because it’s Christmas. People give presents at Christmas time.”
“But why?” he asked, cocking his head at her.
Chloe blinked at him owlishly in surprise. “You give because you want to share with your loved ones.”
“And get things in return!” Lucifer cried, brightening. “I see! Why didn’t you say so? I have plenty of money -- tell me what you and the child want and I’ll buy it --”
“No, Lucifer -- you don’t buy things for people just so that they’ll give you things in return,” Chloe said, which brought a puzzled frown to Lucifer’s face. “It’s about the thought. If all I got from Trixie was a drawing, it would mean the world to me, because of all the effort she put into it.”
“That still doesn’t make sense to me, Detective. Why would a simple piece of paper mean so much to you?”
“Because she was thinking of me when she made it. It’s the same for gifts,” Chloe explained. “You think of others -- of what they would like -- then get them something while expecting nothing back.”
“Nothing back?!” Lucifer was appalled. Why would anyone do anything and expect nothing back? The concept was completely foreign to him. After all, when he did favors for people, he always got a favor back. That’s how it worked! He shook his head. “That sounds bloody idiotic, if you ask me.”
The blonde woman chuckled. “Don’t worry about it now. Just help me shop. We need to get gifts for my mother and Trixie, some little things for people at the station --”
“And me?” Lucifer asked gleefully.
“And yes, you,” she replied with another kiss on his cheek.
“Splendid! What are you going to get me?” he asked as excitement filled him, making him lightheaded. The detective was going to get him a gift! Him! The Devil! No one had ever given him anything! His heart fluttered in his chest like a caged bird desperate to get out.
Chloe gave him a teasing grin. “It’s a secret.”
He couldn’t even sit still, he was so excited. “All the more reason to tell me, Detective!”
Lucifer suddenly pulled her into his arms and nibbled on her earlobe. “You know I can make you talk....” he said as his voice dropped an octave and oozed sensuality.
Laughing, she angled away from him. “Now, now, Lucifer -- none of that! We are not making out in a store dressing room! Let’s get to shopping....”
For many days afterward, Lucifer stressed over Christmas. If the detective was getting something for him, he had to reciprocate. That’s how it was done! But... bloody hell, what kind of things would she and her child want?
The little spawn was easy -- he finally cornered her when her mother wasn’t looking and asked what she wanted. American Girl doll it was! Easy enough to order, and have sent to their home. But the detective... she was another kettle of fish.
He really wanted to get Chloe something special. Lucifer racked his brains, thinking hard. Sure, there were things he wanted to see her in, like some really skimpy negligees, but she liked comfortable flannel nightshirts... and it was about what she liked, right? So... no negligees. He wanted to deck her out in expensive jewelry, but when he tried to ask what she would like in a roundabout way, she only laughed and said she didn’t want to get mugged. He came to the conclusion that jewelry was out.
A fur coat? No.
A new car? Double no.
A new house? Absolutely not.
His naked self? She laughed in his face, even though he wasn’t joking.
Bloody hell, this was hard!
Lucifer finally decided that the only choice he had was to go window shopping. It wasn’t ideal, but perhaps something would catch his eye. So he began his foray into Christmas shopping... and hated it. Absolutely hated it.
Bloody hell, how did humans stand it? The streets were terribly crowded. The drivers were insufferably rude. The stores were jam-packed full of crazy mothers and screaming spawn! Even his Devil charms couldn’t gain him any advantage. People were just too... frantic. He had never seen anything like it! On top of that, nothing popped out at him that said, “Buy me for the detective.” He wanted to start throwing things in frustration.
He complained to Chloe one night as he made dinner for her at his flat. Her little human happened to be at a sleepover, which gave them some nice alone time together. Nodding her head, the detective commiserated with him.
“Welcome to Christmas shopping, Lucifer.”
“Bloody hell, love -- it’s bad enough with all those crazy shoppers, but not being able to find anything to buy is bloody frustrating!”
“And then there’s still that charlatan running about, mucking up my jam --”
Chloe’s mouth dropped open. “Lucifer, how many times do I have to tell you? Santa Claus is not Satan! Santa is jolly old Saint Nick!”
“Bloody hell, love! Like I keep telling you -- Old Nick is me, and I’m certainly not a saint!” he fumed. Chuckling, she wrapped her arms around him. Desire shot through him at her touch, pumping through his veins like molten lava. Oooh, he liked this....
She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “No, you’re not a saint -- I can vouch for that!”
The familiar wretched heat started creeping up his neck to culminate in his cheeks, giving them a bright red hue. Her sweet kisses always seemed to do that to him, which amused her to no end. He suspected that was why she kissed him on the cheek so much. Bollocks, the Devil did not blush! Hoping she wouldn’t notice, he swept Chloe into his arms and stared down into her lovely face. “Let me show you just how little of a saint I am --”
He kissed her then, a long, deep kiss that had her melting deliciously against him. When she pulled away, breathless, she looked over his shoulder and cried, “Your food is burning!”
Lucifer chuckled as he let his hands start to roam over her warm, luscious body. “Tricky minx, you can’t divert my attention with that --”
“No, Lucifer -- your food really is burning!”
Sure enough, smoke was beginning to fill the kitchen. “Bloody hell!” he yelled as he turned to see the pan of deep frying shrimp on fire. Before he could even move, Chloe turned off the stove while grabbing the lid of the pan and slamming it down on the flames. Almost as quickly, she yanked her hand back, rushed to the sink and ran cold water over her wrist.
Panic like he’d never known made Lucifer’s heart pound madly and his brain swim in lightheadness. “Detective!” he cried, as he rushed to her side. Anxiety wound its way around his chest as he gently took her wrist in his large hands. He turned it over to see a blister already forming on the delicate skin, and hissed through his teeth.
“Bloody hell, love --”
She smiled at him. “It’s okay. I’m okay.”
“You are not okay,” he snapped. “I’ll take you to the hospital --”
“I’m fine,” she insisted.
“Hospital, Detective,” he said stubbornly.
Frustration crossed her face. “I don’t need -- Lucifer!” she cried out as he swept her up into his arms and carried her to the elevator. “Put me down, you ass!”
“You need a doctor,” he said firmly as he tightened his grip on her struggling, wriggling body... but her movements caused sparks of arousal all throughout him. One of her flailing fists ended up in his eye, making him all the more excited. No, no, no, he berated himself. Focus -- focus! He gritted his teeth against the heat coursing through his body and culminating in his wedding tackle. Forcing himself to do multiplication tables as he carried her to the garage, he stuffed her in his car and took off for the hospital. Bloody hell, what was two times two, again?!
“I told you I was fine,” Chloe ground out between gritted teeth as they walked through the hospital parking lot and back to the car. Lucifer frowned.
“That doctor is a prat,” the Devil said firmly as he opened the door for his girlfriend. As she got in, he handed her the paper bag which held the tube of antiseptic cream she had to apply every few hours, then shut the door. As he rounded the car and got in, he continued, “Obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing. I know burns, Detective. Remember where I’m from. An untreated burn can lead to much worse things....”
Glancing at Chloe, he saw her expression soften, and a gentle smile grace her face. “You were worried about me?”
Worried? No. More like terrified. Horrified. Panic-stricken. Scared to death.
“Of course I was worried about you!” he snapped, glaring at her as he tried to push his fear away. “You’re ever..y...thing... to....me....” His voice slowly petered out as he realized what he was saying. He could feel the wretched heat flooding into his face again -- he was sure his entire head was redder than the misshapen charlatan’s red coat. Bloody hell, he hadn’t meant to say that!
He watched with chagrin as her eyes sparkled mischievously and a grin grew on her face. “What was that?”
“I said I was worried about you,” he blustered as he started the car.
“No, after that --”
“Bloody hell, we have to be getting back,” he muttered as he pulled out of the parking space at a frightening pace.
Chloe shot Lucifer a sidelong glance as he drove her through the streets of Los Angeles. She couldn’t believe he had rushed her to the hospital over a small burn on her wrist, but Lucifer was sweet... sweeter than any man she had ever known. A happy warmth radiated from her heart as she gazed at him. She was so lucky that the Devil was her boyfriend!
He seemed genuinely freaked out about her burn, though, and that was puzzling. He should be used to seeing all sorts of injuries, being the Lord of Hell and whatnot. Shrugging inwardly, she decided not to worry about it as her hunger took her mind off her thoughts.
“Hey, I’m getting hungry -- can we stop for some food?” she asked Lucifer.
He glanced at her, his eyes full of dark secrets and sultry desire. “You can always feast on my --”
“I need real food,” she interrupted quickly. She wasn’t sure what he had been about to say, but she had a pretty good idea. No need to go there! Although... his words and those bedroom eyes had her squirming from the sudden onslaught of desire coursing through her veins. A mere glance from him could send her body spiraling into a web of hot passion -- definitely not what she needed in his small two-seater! Clearing her throat, she said, “My stomach is growling. Can we stop at a restaurant, or something?”
He grinned wickedly at her discomfiture -- damn, he had seen her shifting about in her seat! -- and nodded. “Of course, my dear. What would you like to eat? Besides me, of course.”
His comment had her laughing. “Just shut up, you ass, and feed me -- anything will do!”
“Very well,” he said with a chuckle, and pulled up to a nearby fancy restaurant.
As they sat across from each other, being served wonderful tasty morsels of sushi, she noticed how intensely he kept looking at her. Not in a “come hither” way, but with some unfathomable expression on his face.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
He blinked. “Whatever do you mean?”
“You’re looking at me kind of strange.” Her eyes narrowed as she studied him closer. “And you look a little washed out....”
Letting out a bark of laughter, Lucifer looked out the window next to which they were seated. The soft restaurant lighting illuminated his hair but left most of his averted face in shadow. “I’m fine, Detective.”
“Are you?” Chloe’s detective senses were on high alert, perceiving something wrong. She reached across the table and took his hand in hers. “Talk to me.”
“Right. It’s just... well....” His voice petered out before he swallowed and started again. “You got hurt.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Lucifer, it was just a little burn --”
“But you got hurt,” he said, his eyes catching the light as he turned back toward her. She didn’t understand why he was getting so stressed out over it.
“Yes, people get hurt,” she said patiently.
“Not you. No. Bloody hell, you can’t get hurt.” He looked tense, with his mouth pulled in a tight line, and his voice insistent.
Chuckling at his strange statement, she said, “I can get hurt, just as anyone else can. I got shot, remember?”
Lucifer shook his head quickly as he squeezed her hand. “No, no, no, that was before....”
Chloe waited for him to continue. When she realized he wasn’t going to, she prompted, “Before what?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out except, at last, a sigh. Then he turned his face back toward the window, and said softly, “Just... before.”
She sighed and decided not to worry about his strange mood. “Well, let’s just finish eating and go home, shall we? There are better things to do than to think about a small burn.”
The fallen angel turned back to her at that, his face brightening. “Like?”
“Like spend a quiet evening with my wonderful boyfriend,” she said with her best sultry look. It must have worked, for his eyes closed halfway, and a seductive look came over his face.
“Splendid! I can think of so many lovely ways we can pass the time....”
The next morning at the penthouse, Chloe stretched in bed next to Lucifer, then turned to study him. His face had softened in sleep, making him look remarkably young and innocent. Reaching out, she caressed his stubbly cheek; at her touch he smiled, but didn’t open his eyes. His hands reached for her and pulled her close.
“Good morning,” he rumbled in his gravelly morning voice as he opened his dark, beautiful eyes.
“Hey,” she greeted back. “I have to go into the office today.”
Disappointment flooded Lucifer’s face. “Must you? Can’t we just stay in bed all day? I’d really like to try out your handcuffs --”
“You can try them out by yourself.”
“Bloody hell, Detective, what’s the fun in that?”
Chloe laughed and kissed him on the lips. It was meant to be quick, but her Devil responded instantly, deepening the kiss while running his hands over her body. A helpless moan escaped her before she managed to pull away.
“Now, now,” she panted as she slid to the edge of the bed and pulled on his robe. “I’ve got a pile of reports I have to work on. And you, Mister Morningstar, have a club to run. Luckily Dan’s picking up Trixie from her sleepover --”
“I’m going with you.”
That surprised her. Lucifer never went anywhere near the station when it was time for paperwork. “What?”
He sat up, a stubborn look on his face. “I’m going with you.”
An uncomfortable look came into his eyes, and he looked away. “Just... because.”
Shrugging as his capricious mood, Chloe said, “Okay. It’s weird, though.”
He said nothing, but when he turned back to look at her, that strange, unfathomable look from the previous night was back in his eyes.
The day ended up being... very weird.
First there was the brushing of her teeth. Lucifer watched her like a hawk. “You might accidentally stab your throat with your toothbrush,” was all he said. Chloe had laughed, but it was uncomfortable, having him watch so closely.
Then there was breakfast. She had been looking forward to one of his wonderful omelettes that he usually prepared, or perhaps pancakes...? Instead she had found her meal -- whatever it was -- pureed to the consistency of baby food.
“What the hell?!” she cried. “What happened to my breakfast?!”
Lucifer, who was eating a delicious-looking omelette, said, “You might choke on something. This way you’ll be safe.”
Chloe was horrified. “But -- but --”
“Here, drink your coffee.” He handed her a mug with a straw.
The coffee was lukewarm. “You might burn yourself,” he said, when she confronted him about it. “The straw is so that you won’t choke.”
Throwing up her hands, she snapped, “I’m going to work.”
“But you haven’t eaten your --”
“Right. Very well, I’ll drive you,” Lucifer said, setting his napkin down and standing. No amount of arguing could dissuade him. All he said was, “You might get into an accident, love.”
Work was worse.
Lucifer walked in front of her when she went down stairs, and behind when she went up. “You might fall and break a leg,” he said. He helped her into her chair at her desk (“The chair might slip away and you’ll hurt yourself,”) and took away all of her pens and pencils (“Bloody hell, what if you accidentally stabbed yourself?”). He turned on her computer (“You might get electrocuted, darling,”) and carried papers for her to and fro (“You could die from a papercut, love.”). Her sweet boyfriend had somehow transmogrified into the Mother Hen from Hell.
Chloe thought she was going to go mad.
Finally, she had had enough. Grabbing Lucifer’s arm, she dragged him into one of the interrogation rooms. He protested the entire way there, claiming that she was going to trip and break her neck. Once she had tossed him into the room, she slammed the door shut. The fallen angel’s face instantly lit up.
“Ooooh, Detective, are we going to have sex in the interrogation room?” he cried as he ran up to the two-way mirror and peered in by pressing his hands to the glass while cupping them around his eyes. “Right. Is someone watching?”
“What?! No! Lucifer --”
Turning, he leered at his girlfriend. “I never took you to be an exhibitionist, but you constantly surprise -- and thrill -- me!” Without warning, he doffed off all of his clothes and preened in front of the two-way mirror. “There! Let’s give whoever it is behind the glass something to really admire, for nothing beats the magnificent view of naked me!”
“Oh god --” Chloe cried, covering her eyes with her hand.
But Lucifer was not done. Hopping up onto the interrogation table, he positioned his wedding tackle squarely in front of the security camera in the corner of the room. “There!” he crowed proudly. “Caught on film for all eternity! Now everyone can admire the incredible splendor that is naked me!”
Chloe was horrified, not only because of his actions, but also because Lucifer stood on the table, which put his wedding tackle practically at eye level. Trying her best not to stare at his male anatomy, she scooped up his clothes and threw it at his head. “Get dressed!” she screeched.
He looked down at her, a puzzled expression on his face. “Dressed? You mean... we aren’t doing the nasty?”
“No, goddamn it!”
Catching a glimpse of his sulky face as she turned her back to him, she heard him hop off the table and pull his clothes back on. After a few moments, he said, “You may look, Detective. I’m now fully clothed, although I’m bloody well disappointed that you didn’t want to admire naked me.”
With a relieved sigh, Chloe turned back to him. Lucifer had taken a seat on one of the chairs, looking polished and professional, as always. One would have never guessed that just a few minutes prior, he had been exposing himself to the world.
“So why did you bring me here, if not for sex?” he asked.
“What is wrong with you today?” she asked with narrowed eyes.
“I’m not sure I understand....”
Sitting on the table next to him, she leaned forward and said, “You are acting like a freak, hovering over me like a mother hen.... What the hell, Lucifer! Why?”
He didn’t pretend not to know what she was talking about. A shamefaced expression crossed his face as he ducked his head. “I... I’m just worried about you, that’s all.”
That caught her off-guard. “Why? Today’s no different from any other day. In fact, I’m in less danger today than usual, because we’re not in the field. So what gives?” She stared at him as he fidgeted in his chair like a little boy, before it dawned on her. “Wait. Does this have to do with me getting burned yesterday?”
He glanced at her guiltily, which confirmed her suspicions and calmed her down. Hopping off the table, she sat on his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “It was just a little burn, Lucifer. No need to get all panicky.”
The Devil shook his head as he held her close and buried his head against her shoulder. “You can’t get hurt, love. I can’t have that.”
“Hey.” She lifted his chin so that she could see his eyes. “Look, I don’t want to get hurt -- and I most certainly do not want to die -- but you can’t protect me from everything. I may get hit by a bus tomorrow, or have a heart attack. I may get shot. Just because there’s that possibility, it’s no reason to become ultra-paranoid. We have to live and appreciate what we have. So please, Lucifer. I know you care, but give me some breathing room, okay?”
For a long moment he just looked at her, before finally nodding. Chloe leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. When he didn’t react but continued sitting mopily, she caressed his stubble-lined cheek and said, “Now go home. Dan will be bringing Trixie by the house later, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Lucifer sat in the armchair in his flat with a glass of Scotch in one hand as he mulled over Chloe. When she had burned her wrist, he had been terrified, and as time went on, the feeling had only intensified.
He loved Chloe so much -- they were supposed to have wonderful, mind-numbing, spectacular sex for the rest of their days! All of his hopes and dreams rested on her staying with him for all eternity. But... in his joy of finding and loving her, he had forgotten that she was mortal, and he... wasn’t.
Chloe had been right, of course -- she could get killed tomorrow. His beautiful detective was always right. The thought of her suddenly ripped from his life caused a terrible ache to spread through his chest and settle in his bones. What would happen if she died? Her soul would go to Heaven -- for there was no possible way that it wouldn’t -- and he would be left behind... forever. Rubbing his forehead anxiously, he tried to stop the tightening of his throat and the achy loneliness that shot through him at the thought of life without her. He couldn’t do it. He felt like he was dying already. No. He had to protect her. She had to stay safe, for life meant nothing without her in it.
He had to fix this. He would fix this.
But how? He racked his brains for a solution. He could talk to his sister Azrael -- the angel of death -- and ask her not to take the detective’s life when the time came... but Chloe would still age. Not that he would mind -- he’d find her beautiful no matter how she looked -- but he was sure she wouldn’t want to be in a body that was aging as millennia passed. What he needed was a fountain of youth, but that was just a myth....
Wait just a moment -- that was it!
He had completely forgotten about his bloody brother Phanuel, the Keeper of the Crowns! For the first time since Chloe had gotten burned, Lucifer felt hope blossom in his chest like a long-dormant flower finding spring. He’d get her a Crown, and they would love each other for the rest of eternity! Oh, the sex they would have!
Shaking with excitement, he downed his drink. After setting the glass on the coffee table, he sent up a prayer. Within minutes, Amenadiel was landing on his balcony and striding into the flat.
“What do you want?” he asked belligerently. Lucifer sighed. His stodgy brother was such a prick at times. It seemed sex with Maze hadn’t mellowed him out very much.
“I need you to call Phanuel down for me,” the fallen angel said as he rose to his feet and approached his brother.
Lucifer cocked his head and lifted his chin in a defiant manner. “Does it matter? Just call him.”
With a sigh, Amenadiel sent up a prayer. Giving Lucifer a dark look, he said, “There. Happy?” and strode to the balcony, where he took off.
“Bloody prick,” Lucifer muttered, then sat back down in the armchair.
He didn’t have to wait long.
Within ten minutes, a tall, thin angel with brown hair landed on the balcony. Flipping his white wings to a folded position against his white robes, he entered the flat and looked at his fallen brother. A sardonic expression twisted his mouth as Lucifer rose to meet him.
“What is it, Luci?” Phanuel asked.
The Devil bristled at his brother’s condescending tone and the use of his nickname -- it annoyed him to no end that a brother he hated was using it -- but he focused on why the prick was there in the first place. His pride stung terribly at having to ask a favor from the sod, but for Chloe, he would do it. Chloe always came first. “I have a favor to ask.”
The archangel laughed uproariously. “Really?” he finally managed to say with amusement. “This should be interesting. What do you want?”
Taking a deep breath, the Devil said, “Right. I need a Crown of Immortality.”
Phanuel laughed again. “Whatever for? You’re immortal. You don’t need a Crown.”
Lucifer swallowed hard. “You’re very much mistaken. I have great need of one, brother.”
The archangel walked past his fallen brother, shoving up against him disrespectfully before taking a seat in the armchair. Lucifer’s eyes narrowed angrily, but he said nothing. He really couldn’t afford to anger his brother -- he needed that bloody Crown. Like a king, Phanuel beckoned his brother to sit on the couch opposite him. Very cautiously, without taking his eyes off his brother, the fallen angel sat.
“Now, tell me why you need a Crown.”
“Bloody hell, does it matter? Just know that I need one.”
The archangel snorted. “Obviously you don’t need one badly enough, if you are unwilling to answer my questions.”
Chafing under his brother’s superior attitude, Lucifer said through gritted teeth, “Believe me, Phan, I wouldn’t be asking if I had any other choice.”
The angel looked at his fallen brother with speculative eyes. “Rumor has it that you’ve been consorting with a human.”
Lucifer said nothing as anger burned in his gut like acid.
“It’s for her, isn’t it?” Phanuel chuckled with amusement. “Luci, Luci, Luci, you should know better. Humans are mortal. They are designed to live but an instant... and then they die, like the sad little bugs that they are.”
“Don’t give me that -- I know you’ve given Crowns before! Bloody hell, Phan, you gave one to the Wandering Jew --”
“Yes, I wonder where he is now...?”
“-- and you threw one into that spring as a lark for Ponce de Leon to find, only to fish it out when he almost reached it.” Trying not to look desperate, Lucifer gazed at his brother with intense eyes. “Come on, Phan. Please. I’m... asking you.”
The archangel leaned forward suddenly. “What do I get in return?”
Relief flooded through Lucifer. Surely this was a good sign...? “Whatever I can give you.”
Phanuel stared at him hard, a cruel smile on his lips. “Anything?”
His fallen brother nodded.
The archangel stood up and laughed. “Very well. Here’s what I want. I want you to end your relationship with your human consort. Then I’ll give you a Crown.”
Lucifer gaped at his brother. “But -- but what use will I have for a Crown if I end my relationship with the Detective?”
“What do I care?” Phanuel looked down at his brother triumphantly. “You want a Crown for your own selfish desires -- to be with this human.” He spat the word as if it was an insult. “But you’ll never get it, because you are too selfish to go without. You never think of anyone else, because you’ve never loved anyone in your life except yourself. It was a waste of your time to call me.”
“You bloody sod --”
The angel’s eyes narrowed at the insult. “Careful, Luci.”
“Don’t underestimate me, Phan. There’s much more to me than you think.”
“Really? Then show me. End the relationship.” At Lucifer’s silence, Phanuel gave his fallen brother a feral grin. “You can’t, can you? Because it’s not in you to think of others.”
Clenching his teeth in rage, the Devil ran through his options. It was true that he wanted Chloe to stay with him forever -- was it so wrong to love her? But if Phanuel didn’t give him a Crown, she would die at some point, and he would be alone. They would have some time together, but could he be satisfied with that?
If he agreed to his brother’s terms and did get the Crown, he’d never see Chloe again. True, she would be healthy and young forever. Could he survive, knowing she was out there but never being able to hear her soft laugh, feel her warm body next to his, or bask in her loving?
You think of others -- of what they would like....
Chloe’s words about Christmas echoed in his head as he mulled over what to do. What would make the detective happy? Which would she prefer? She had said she didn’t want to die... and she did have a daughter to take care of. Wouldn’t it be better for her if she stayed alive, even if they weren’t together? She would be safe... protected... alive. And when it came right down to it, that was all that mattered to Lucifer.
In an instant, he knew what he had to do. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Very well. I’ll end it.”
Phanuel lifted an eyebrow in disbelief. “Well, will wonders never cease? The Devil actually thinking of someone other than himself? This I have to see -- although I highly doubt you’ll actually go through with it.” The archangel started to walk away, then suddenly turned and smiled. “One more thing, if you want the Crown.”
Lucifer felt his heart plummet to the pit of his stomach. What more could the bloody sod want? “What?”
“Kneel before me.”
Everything inside Lucifer screamed, “No!” He was the Devil, Lord of Hell, Dad’s favorite son! Phanuel was a minor player -- an archangel, yes, but other than having the means to dole out eternal life, he was nothing. Not like Raphael, Heaven’s most powerful healer, or Michael, the mighty warrior.
Phanuel smirked at his brother’s hesitation and said, “I guess you don’t want the Crown after all,” and walked toward the balcony.
Panic flared in Lucifer -- he couldn’t afford to let his pride get in the way of Chloe’s safety. Squeezing his eyes shut, he said in a strangled voice, “Wait.” Pulling himself off the couch, he went to stand before his brother and went down on bended knee.
Lucifer dropped down to both knees and bent his head.
“Lower, brother.” He could hear the laughter in the angel’s voice.
He got down on his hands and knees. He could see Phanuel approach him as he groveled, and then, without warning, his brother’s foot was on his neck, pushing down hard. For a long moment the angel stood there, forcing his brother’s face into the floor, before bursting out into laughter and walking onto the balcony. In seconds he had opened his wings and launched himself into the sky.
Pulling himself up, Lucifer bared his teeth in rage as his eyes glowed red. “Bloody bastard!” he yelled after the disappearing angel, before making his way to the bar. The decanter of Scotch rattled against the glass as he poured himself a drink with hands that shook with rage.
As he thought of the confrontation he had just had, reaction started to set in. Bloody hell, what had he done? An emptiness, like a giant black hole, tore open his insides and devoured all of his happiness. What was he going to do without Chloe? How would he live?!
And yet... she was the reason for his decision, and he knew he had made the right choice. They would never see each other again, but she would be protected. No heart attacks, no car accidents, no shootings. She would live, no matter what. Once he got the Crown from Phanuel, he’d ask Beatrice to give it to her, and she would be safe.
And him? He couldn’t live on Earth, knowing she was alive but unable to be with her. Even though he hated the thought, he knew he’d have to find his way back to Hell. Perhaps Amenadiel -- that bloody prick would be overjoyed to escort him back.
He took a deep, steadying breath. Now... now came the hard part.
For a day he sat in his flat and tried to figure out the best way to tell the detective that they couldn’t be together anymore. How was he to break up with her, when he was so desperately in love with her? He considered having a massive orgy party when she came over, so that she could discover him having sex with multiple humans -- but no. Not only did that idea turn his stomach, he couldn’t bear to hurt the detective that way... and her feelings always came first.
No, the best way was to tackle the issue head on. He would tell her straight out that they couldn’t be together anymore.... Chloe deserved nothing less.
She called several times during the day, but he didn’t answer any of the calls. When he got a text that she was heading over, he took a deep breath and steadied himself with a stiff drink. He could do this. For Chloe... for the Crown... he could do this.
He jumped when he heard her voice. Bloody hell, it felt like she had just texted! Turning, his hungry eyes took in the sight of her looking beautiful in her warm overcoat, with her tee shirt and jeans, and those smart boots. A part of him wanted to grab her and never let go... but he held himself in check.
“Hello, Detective.” Was that his voice? So thin and strained?
A concerned look crossed her face as she walked up to him. Her arms reached for him, but he quickly sidestepped her. If she embraced him, he’d never have the strength to do what needed to be done.
“What’s wrong? What is it?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “We... can’t see each other anymore.”
“What?!” She stared at him, stunned for a moment, before she laughed and gazed at him with merry, loving eyes. “It’s not nice of you to tease so close to Christmas.”
Swallowing hard, he said. “I’m not teasing.”
Her smile slipped as her aqua eyes widened, and she grew as pale as snow. For a moment she swayed like a blade of grass in the breeze. Guilt swamped Lucifer’s insides, churning his stomach into unrecognizable knots. He had done that to her. Hurt her, which he had never wanted to do.
Then her spine stiffened, and her eyes narrowed. “Why?”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter why --”
“Is it another woman?” Her voice was hard and brittle. “You’re tired of me, is that it?” Lucifer opened his mouth to deny it, but Chloe shook her head angrily as she cut him off. “Dammit, Lucifer! Did I mean nothing to you?!” At his silence she suddenly laughed, the sound harsh and tortured. “I should have known. I knew this would happen -- I knew it! And yet I.... I had hoped....”
Without another word, she stormed off to the elevator and left. Lucifer did not follow.
He knew it was better this way, but that didn’t stop the hurt from working its way to every corner of his body like an epidemic. Taking a deep breath, he tried to force away the pain. Let her hate him. It would be easier for both of them, in the long run.
A week passed.
Chloe let herself drown in depression for a day, eating ice cream right out of the carton while lounging on the couch in her flannel nightshirt and watching television. Then she took a deep breath, pushed the horrific hurt to the back of her mind, and got on with her life. She had Trixie to take care of -- she couldn’t afford to wallow in self-pity. Taking her daughter to and from school, helping her with her homework, as well as going to work, helped Chloe keep her mind off of Lucifer.
Christmas preparations also fended off some of the sadness and anger, as well as the humiliation of getting dumped. She had always known that Lucifer would eventually tire of her, so it shouldn’t have hurt as much as it did... but it did. Thank god she had never told him she loved him!
And yet her detective mind wouldn’t let the incident go. It just didn’t make any sense! He had been so worried over her getting burned that he had taken her to the hospital, then proceeded to become the Mother Hen from Hell. A man who was tired of her wouldn’t do that. And as far as she could tell, he had been faithful to her. He hadn’t been sleeping around while they were together. So why...?
She still had no answers by Christmas Eve.
As Chloe pulled out presents to wrap, she realized with a start that she had hidden her daughter’s gifts at the penthouse, in Lucifer’s closet. She remembered how they had laughed about it when he had helped her hide it on the high shelf above his clothes, for Trixie was adept at finding presents no matter where they were hidden.
She didn’t want to get them. She didn’t want to see him... and yet she found that her heart fluttered in her chest like a mad hummingbird and her hands shook with excitement as she drove to LUX. When she gave her car keys to the valet, however, she was overcome with a sense of dread. What the hell was she doing?! She couldn’t face Lucifer! Not after the way he had ended it!
But she needed Trixie’s presents....
As stealthily as possible, Chloe sneaked into the club. Scanning the floor quickly, she saw Lucifer with his back to her, talking with Mazikeen at the bar. For a moment she paused, admiring his tall, broad-shouldered figure, even though his posture looked... sad. He hadn’t come to the station since the breakup, for which she was grateful -- at least that’s what she told herself. She refused to acknowledge even to herself that she would have died for a glimpse of him.
The club was full of patrons celebrating the Eve and drinking like fish, so it was easy to stay hidden while she worked her way over to the elevator. Slipping in, she pressed the button for the penthouse. The car hummed as it rose, speeding faster and faster before finally slowing and jolting to a stop.
When the doors opened, Chloe was surprised to see what a wreck the penthouse was in. Empty alcohol bottles littered the bar counter and the living room coffee table, junk food wrappers were all over the floor, and oddly enough, her pillow from the master bedroom was sitting on the piano bench. She knew it was hers, because she slept on the memory foam pillow Lucifer had bought her, while he preferred a soft, fluffy down one.
Although the state of the penthouse and her pillow puzzled her, she shrugged and headed to the master closet. Opening the closet door, she quickly spotted the box that held Trixie’s presents. Just as she stood on a chair to get it down, she heard the elevator ding.
She did not want to be found by Lucifer! That was the last thing she needed! She knew she should go out there and explain, but... well, maybe he’d just... go away...?
“Hello, Detective!” she heard him say in a cheery voice.
She blinked. He knew she was there...?
“Sorry I’m late. The bloody alcohol distributor messed up the order and it took forever to untangle it all.... Did we get a new case? No...? Right. Of course not. But I wish....”
Chloe’s eyebrows furrowed as she listened to the one-sided conversation. Who was he talking to? Taking a chance, she quietly got off the chair, then very carefully peeped out from behind the master bedroom wall to spy on the Devil.
He was holding -- no, clutching -- her pillow to his chest... and talking to it. She blinked in surprise. What the hell?
“I miss you,” he said quietly to the pillow. “Bloody hell, Detective, I long to see you! I wish that sod Phan would hurry and bring what he promised, so that you’ll be protected forever.”
Chloe’s heart skipped a beat as she took in the scene before her. He hadn’t wanted to part with her! Love flowed through her, swamping her entire being as hope started to take a hold of her soul. And he said... she would be protected? So his breaking up with her had something to do with the burn she sustained! He had ended their relationship... for her sake?
She was just about to step out into the living room when she heard the rustle of wings, and saw Lucifer look up sharply toward the balcony.
“Phan,” he muttered darkly. Chloe saw a brown-haired angel with white wings walk up to the tall man.
“You’re a pathetic mess,” the angel said, yanking the pillow out of Lucifer’s hands and tossing it on the floor. “Just look at yourself -- talking to a pillow, of all things! Father would be so amused. The Devil laid so low!”
“Shut up,” Lucifer said as he bent down to retrieve the pillow. Very tenderly, he took it in his arms and set it on the piano bench. Lifting his chin defiantly to his brother, he said, “Well? Have you come to fulfill your end of the bargain? I’ve done as you’ve asked. I ended the relationship. Now give me the Crown.”
Phan laughed. “You’re a fool. Why would you go through all of this for your consort? She’s a human, for crying out loud. An insignificant bug --”
“Shut your bloody mouth!” snapped the Devil. Grabbing his brother’s robes, he snarled into the angel’s face, “The detective is everything to me -- everything. I’d Fall a thousand times if it would keep her safe.”
Chloe’s heart pounded madly at Lucifer’s statements.
“And you really think she will want to have anything to do with you now?”
“What she feels for me... is inconsequential,” the fallen angel said, dropping his gaze to the floor. When his head came back up, his eyes glowed red. “She will be protected.”
“You... you love her!” Phan started laughing uncontrollably, like a hyena.
Glowering at him, Lucifer spat, “Yes, I love her -- which is something you’ll never understand.”
“The Devil -- in love!” the angel chortled. “Now I’ve seen it all!”
“Right. Bloody hell, just give me the Crown!”
Chloe saw the angel throw something small onto the floor and watched Lucifer fall to his hands and knees, scrambling to fetch it. With the speed of a striking rattlesnake, the angel grabbed Lucifer’s hair and slammed his head to the floor.
“You look best when you grovel, brother,” he said, then kicked the Devil away as he laughed. The blow sent Lucifer crashing into the bar, but he quickly pulled himself to his feet and glared at his brother. Still chuckling, Phan walked to the balcony.
Chloe heard the sound of flapping wings as the angel took off for Heaven. Her gaze returned to the Devil, who stood by the bar, looking at something in his hand before clenching his fist. He strode to her pillow and picked it up, a happy smile on his lips.
“We got it, Detective!” Hugging the pillow to his chest, he said, “Now all I have to do is get it to you, some way --”
“Why don’t you just give it to me?” Chloe asked as she stepped out into the living room.
The look of shock and horror on Lucifer’s face was almost comical. A red flush crept up his neck and stained his cheeks as he gently put the pillow back down onto the piano bench. Clearing his throat, he stepped in front of the bench to block her view, then smiled nervously.
As she approached, he started backing away from her. “D-Detective! What... what are you doing here?”
“Trixie’s Christmas presents are hidden in the closet -- remember? I came to fetch them,” she said, moving forward as he moved back, until he bumped into the bar counter.
“Ah. Yes. I had... forgotten. Ah... how... how much of the conversation with my brother did you hear?”
“All of it.”
“All of it?!” Her Devil looked absolutely horrified. “Even... even the part where I... I said....”
“That you love me? Yes, that too.” She got right up into his face. “I think you owe me an explanation.” Anger flashed through her as she snapped, “What would be so important that you’d sacrifice our relationship, even though you love me?”
“Right. Well....” He looked around nervously. “Wouldn’t... wouldn’t you rather sit on the couch?”
“No, I do not want to sit on the couch! Talk to me, goddamnit!”
“It’s... your Christmas gift, love,” he whispered.
“Christmas gift?! What the hell kind of gift is it, where you have to break up with me just to get it?!” she screeched, then punched him in the eye.
“Bloody hell, Detective!” he yelped.
Chloe threw herself into his arms right after her punch, holding onto him for all she was worth, and burst into tears. “You stupid man!” she raged as she beat on his chest. “Do you think anything is more important than what we share?! Do you know what I went through, thinking you didn’t love me anymore?!”
She felt his arms wrap around her, squeezing her tightly. “I know,” Lucifer said, his voice tender. “I know, and I’m sorry... but the need was great. You... your safety means more to me than... than life itself. You will be protected. And as for me.... I... I’ll be going back to Hell.”
“What?!” She looked up at him, horrified, before her face settled in stubborn lines. “No. No way. You are not going anywhere, mister. You are staying right here in my arms forever, do you hear? No more of this self-sacrificial martyrdom. If you ever try to pull a stunt like this again, you’ll get a whole lot more than a black eye!”
He stared at her, stunned. “You... you still want me?”
“Yes, you idiot, yes!” Yanking his head down, she kissed him passionately. For a moment he hesitated, before he cupped her face in his hands and deepened the kiss.
Desire swept through Chloe and arousal flooded her insides, but she forced them away. She had to get answers before she tore off his clothes and made mad, passionate love to him. He reluctantly released her when she pulled back. “Wait, wait. I know you made a deal to break up with me for this Christmas gift, so... does that mean you can’t stay with me?” she asked, with worry in her eyes. “Do you have to go back to Hell?”
Lucifer thought a moment and said, “Well, technically, I did break up with you, as promised. I’m not going back on my word if you decide to get back together with me, so I think the bargain still holds.”
Chloe breathed out a sigh of relief at Lucifer’s broad grin. “Great. Great! So where is this gift that is so damned important you’d sacrifice us to get it?”
“Here.” Lucifer opened his fist, revealing a simple gold ring in the shape of a crown. “It’s a Crown of Immortality, love. It will protect you -- keep you safe. Keep you alive... for as long as you want.” Lucifer’s face was hopeful as he stared down into her eyes. “Please... will you wear this, and stay with me? Forever?”
Chloe stared hard at the ring in his hand, before looking back at him. “Is this... are you proposing to me?”
Lucifer blinked with surprise, then his face broke out in a wide grin. “Yes. I do believe... that’s what I’m doing. I’m bloody proposing. Will you marry me, Chloe Decker?”
She couldn’t see him through the sudden tears swamping her vision. “Yes, a thousand times, yes!” she cried fiercely as she beamed up at him. “I love you so much!”
“You... love me?” At her tearful nod, the fallen angel’s face lit up like the sun. “You love me!” With shaking hands, he placed the ring on her finger. “And I, you. You’re my life. I can’t live without you,” he said, then kissed her, burning her with his passion.
When they both finally came up for air, she hugged him tightly. “Come home with me. Trixie is waiting, and so is Christmas.”
“Very well,” he said with a happy, satisfied smile. He paused a moment before he asked with trepidation, “Did... did I do all right with this bloody Christmas thing?”
Chloe chuckled. “Yes, my dear Devil. You were more than perfect with this Christmas thing! Just... don’t flash Santa anymore, okay?”
Lucifer let out a joyous laugh as he gathered her close. “I give you my word!”