Author's Note: This either takes place sometime before the final two episodes or is AU.

Anything Brighter

It begins like nausea creeping over his skin. He delights at first, as he does with every new humanoid sensation. He listens to it like a distant pleasant melody, wondering how it will change and in turn change him. Then the pleasantness stops. The melody is discordant and he doesn't want to listen anymore, but he doesn't have a choice because the sensation won't leave. When he's by himself he can trace its tentacles back to their root. It was never really his skin at all that felt it, but his insides. The sensation comes from somewhere so deep in his chest that he doubts it can actually be within his body. After all, he isn't thick enough to harbor something so dark and pulsing radiating from such a hollow abyss.

Or am I?

Lucifer studies his naked form in the mirror, his dark eyes darting over the pale curves and lines of his torso. When he twists, his skin ripples over his ribs like ruffled feathers. The thought makes his gaze slide up to where his wings should be. He narrows his eyes, not at his scars, but at the thinness of his form. How could the nauseating darkness have delved so deep in his slight figure as to feel rooted in the ancientness of his being, and yet not have a single physical manifestation? Just to be sure, he runs a hand along what he can reach of his back, certain there must be a hole left somewhere by this burrowing thing, but there is nothing. Only smoothed skin and the little bumps that now pepper his flesh when he is cold. Cold. Cold.

Is darkness always cold? Or is it warm? Perhaps it is nothing. How have I never noticed before?

It's the unpredictability of the sensation that irks him, for even when he isn't directly feeling the hollow tug, he knows it hasn't left. He knows it will be back. For now, however, he pretends he doesn't know this. After all, he spends his entire life on earth pretending. Imagining he is human with all of their impulses and desires and instincts. Instincts are the trickiest ones to get his mind around.

When he first arrived, he was keen to try everything. There was no sin in sex that didn't harm anyone (unless, of course, that was an explicit part of the fun), but instead great bodily pleasure. The same went for food and fine clothing, fast cars, hot baths, alcohol, and the occasional dalliance with drugs. Sensual pleasures that he enjoyed because he had a body. Because after learning all about such things while in Hell, he was insatiably curious to try them himself. After all, how was he meant to judge without experiencing human hedonism first?

But what he was only just understanding was that humans were more complicated than his simple pursuit of pleasure. What he had thought was all commonplace fun was actually, almost always, a result of instinct. The instinct to procreate, to eat, to stay warm, to escape. Escape. For someone created without instincts, Lucifer understands escapism the best. It is the others that baffle him.

No matter how he tries to escape, however, nothing can shield him from the apathy inside that only seems to grow. When he's feeling good, he thinks about confiding in Linda, but something about the weightiness of the thing always stops him from speaking to his therapist.

If I speak it, it will become real. Then what?

He doesn't think Chloe notices because it is quiet when he is around her. He wonders if whatever it is could be frightened by her cunning gaze and seeming unending patience.

But Chloe does notice. She has noticed ever since Father Frank was killed. All the coy smiles and misdirections that Lucifer has come to rely upon since then don't distract her from the handful of moments she has happened to catch him unawares. The eerie tightness in his dark eyes when he thinks no one is looking twists something inside of her in response. Her life is complicated enough as it is without adding this twist to her existence, and sometimes she is mad at Lucifer because of it. Mad because she knows that he won't answer her even if she asks. Because he turns his lips in a smile the moment he feels her gaze. Because he would rather straighten his posture and look like he was suddenly on stage than acknowledge the silent question in her eyes. But mostly, she is mad because neither of them could ever undo the twist her worry over him has placed in her chest and deep down, she doesn't want to. She likes feeling her connection to him there, even if it is sometimes aggravating or bothersome.

Lucifer is odd. She has spent many of her lunch breaks reading articles about Asperger's and various other possible explanations for why "humanity," as he often calls it, is a mystery to him. As if he isn't an active participant. As if he's a spectator. She has no doubt that he feels very deeply, but his inability to express himself and his childlike interpretation of his own emotions intrigues her. At times she feels as if she is talking to one of Trixie's friends, but at others, she hears something very old in his voice. As if he is torn between the thrill of novelty and the boring sameness of disappointment, but was somehow born between the two extremes. Sometimes she wonders if the pull of both is tearing him apart. But he doesn't fit tidily under any diagnosis, and she doesn't enjoy thinking of his mind as something fundamentally different than hers.

Not when his heart beat so strongly against her cheek when she awoke in his arms the night she had tried to sleep with him. Lucifer had fallen asleep, as well, sitting up, albeit somewhat slumped on his side, and for several peaceful minutes, there was only the steady drumming under her ear. The warmth of his body. The unvoiced thread that connected them. Unvoiced.

If I speak it, it will become real. Then what?

She had half a mind to find out that night, but then she got up to pee and the flush of alcohol surged back into brain and the next thing she knew, she was stripping and cursing. Not her most eloquent moment. Then again, her only eloquent moment in life was her daughter. Chloe had never been graceful but rather seemed to possess an awkward kindness that her mother had once compared to wielding a bag of bricks. Dan has certainly found fault with her unpredictable outbursts and withdrawals of affection but Lucifer has never so much as commented. She has abandoned him at crime scenes often enough that she is certain he is aware of her sometimes impulsive nature. He seems to take it all in stride, as he did the night she tried to seduce him.

For that alone, she owes him her support however she can. He is just making it ridiculously difficult for her to give it, bag of bricks or not.

One afternoon while working a murder investigation, Chloe ignores his protestations while he is in the car with her and takes him to the school to pick up Trixie. She smirks the entire ride home as her daughter peppers Lucifer with requests to be her show and tell, invites to her stuffed animal parties, and questions about why he always dresses like he is getting married. More than once, Chloe knows Lucifer is fixing her with the expression of a drowning man staring at an impassive lifeguard.

As she unlocks the front door, Chloe receives a text from the babysitter. "Sarah can't be here for another hour."

"Yay," Trixie chants, hopping up and down and latching onto the pockets of Lucifer's suit. "Then we have time to play."

Chloe watches the tall man visibly fight a sneer off of his upper lip as he tries to detangle the girl from his jacket. "Fortunately for me, there are such things as taxis."

Trixie mock-pouts and whines "You're leaving?" at the same time that Chloe shoves the door open and rolls her eyes with, "I'll make you a sandwich."

"Yeah," Trixie enthuses, tugging the man more than twice her height into the cool house. "We can have a snack and watch TV and be kitties."

Lucifer fixes Chloe with a painful smile and a flat, "Oh, goodie," as he is yanked past her.

Chloe mouths, "thank you" as she shuts the door, and for a brief moment, the discomfort slides off of her partner's face, replaced with something akin to pride. No matter how he protests, Chloe knows he is always happy to please her, and she's not above occasionally using that knowledge to her advantage.

Trixie immediately turns on the TV and starts giving Lucifer instructions on how kitties sit on the couch, curling up to demonstrate while Chloe starts making turkey sandwiches in the kitchen. Through the somewhat open floorplan, she can lean out of the kitchen to keep an eye on the pair in case Lucifer becomes condescending.

"You would be a fluffy black one," the little girl orates on the sofa opposite his. "And I would be a calico. Do you know what a calico is?"

"I don't care."

"It has like, an orange-brown and black and white coat. I really want one but daddy is allergic."

"This suddenly got interesting. What happens to him?"

"His eyes and nose get all puffy and red."

Though she arches a brow, Chloe ignores Lucifer's half of the conversation, opting instead to pretend she wasn't listening as she arranges slices of bread, for she knows he only wants a reaction out of her.

"That doesn't sound very comfortable."

"It's not," Trixie continues, stretching out on her couch. "It itches, too."

The detective can hear the grin on his face as he replies, "Why, Beatrice, we simply must get you a kitten then, mustn't we?"

Chloe groans and throws her head back as her daughter starts bouncing around on the cushions. "Can we, Mommy? Can we?"

"Oh, no mommy involved, tiny human. I will be happy to get you a kitten. Consider it a favor."

"Thank you, Lucifer," Trixie gushes around her lisp, launching herself at him in a hug. The way Lucifer smacks against the back of the couch as if the little girl were assaulting him makes Chloe stifle a snort. She will set the pair of them straight later. For now, she will let Lucifer squirm in her daughter's affection, for seeing him out of his comfort zone is oddly rewarding.

"Ah, ah, ah," he tutts as he tries to detangle himself. "You're wrinkling my Armani. Have more respect."

"Can I pick it out?" Trixie asks without budging.

Lucifer sighs emphatically when he realizes the little girl isn't releasing him anytime soon. His hands have been on her waist to try to pry her off but now stay there as he calls for reinforcements. "Detective!"

Determined to let him navigate this on his own, Chloe sticks her phone to her ear and peeks out around the corner with a furrowed brow, pretending she is in the middle of a call. "Not now, Lucifer."

"You haven't been speaking," he observes, his dark brows lowered in confusion.

Chloe raises hers. "I'm on hold with the DMV. Play nicely."

A corner of Lucifer's upper lip twitches in response. Trixie pulls away enough to level her brown gaze with his and says in a hoarse speaking voice, "We have to be quiet."

"That isn't whispering," he replies in the same hoarse tone.

Chloe has to pivot away from the two to hide her laugh, waiting until she is out of sight before setting her phone down.

"Yes, it is."

"No, you're just speaking loudly without using your vocal chords."

"Vocal chords? What're vocal chords?"

"Trust me, I'm the last person your mother would want giving you anatomy lessons."

"Do kitties have vocal chords?"

There is a pause. When Chloe peeks back out, she is surprised to see that Lucifer has relaxed and that Trixie is slumped on his lap, as if he were going to read a story to her. Instead, they are both momentarily transfixed by a doll commercial. One of his hands is splayed on her back as if to keep her from falling when there is no danger. Trixie welcomes it as an invitation to stay exactly where she is.

In that moment, Lucifer looks different to Chloe. He isn't smiling. He doesn't have perfect posture. Her daughter has flung her own brick bag full of kindness and bullied her way onto his lap and he looks like he can't fight her back anymore. Like he doesn't want to. Because there is something so very delicate about the way he keeps his hand on the girl's back, as if he were a black feather that might drift away if either of them moves too suddenly.

"You smell," Trixie observes, peering up at him with a wrinkled nose. "I don't like cologne."

Lucifer languidly looks down at her, and Chloe braces herself for the moment to be shattered by an arrogant, inappropriate retort involving the word "spawn.". Instead, he narrows his eyes and points at the television. "I hope you know to never pay one iota of attention to marketing. I have never seen so much pink in my life, and trust me, I have seen a lot of pink."

"I like pink."

"Well, you don't have to like pink if you don't want to like pink."

"I like other colors, too."

"Yes, like calico kittens."

Trixie grins and rises on her knees to smash her two small hands on his cheeks, announcing around a grin, "Calico cats are always girls."

To Chloe's surprise, Lucifer doesn't bat Trixie's hands away or twist out of her grasp. Instead, he smiles. Not the nearly painful one he uses on the rest of the world, but a small, soft one that actually changes his eyes. It makes him look so different that a chill spreads across the back of Chloe's neck. Something about the nuance and subtlety make him appear more human than he ever has, but she chases away the notion, for such thinking would mean that a part of her had never believed him to be fully human in the first place. The cruelty of the thought sickens her, but when faced with the softness of his face and body in response to her daughter, she is forced to acknowledge that she has done him an injustice. That he has never shown such softness to her, and as such, it was easier to categorize him as something else in her mind. As somehow invulnerable. Somehow simpler. Somehow less. Even if she doesn't want him to be.

"Case in point," Lucifer replies. "Lots of different colors because that's how people are made. No one is just one color."

Chloe almost drops the knife she is using to spread mustard. Though neither can see her, she feels a flush of heat from her chest, as if she has made a terrible, embarrassing mistake in front of a crowd.

Trixie doesn't answer, and when Chloe peeks back out, the girl is watching the pony TV show, but Lucifer is studying her intently, his face tucked into his neck giving him a double chin, making him look so flawed that Chloe feels wrong for observing the scene when he thinks that she is distracted.

His voice is so soft that she can't make out exactly what he says next, but it sounds similar to, "What's it like?"

"What?" Trixie replies, her eyes still on the TV.

Lucifer doesn't look away from the girl's profile. "Having a mother."

Chloe can't move.

Trixie giggles as she returns her attention to him. "That's silly, Lucifer."

"Yes," he whispers. "It is."

Trixie returns her attention to the show and Lucifer looks as if he doesn't dare speak again. His head bows somewhat, and he seems so small and broken that Chloe shuffles back over to the sandwiches without even registering her feet moving.

"God damn calico cat," she mutters as she finishes the sandwiches.

Lucifer doesn't know why, but having Trixie sit in his lap long enough to carelessly lean her head against his chest as she watches TV, as if he'd been there since her birth, makes the dark thing inside throb and crawl. At length, he has an inkling. The little girl's warmth is making the sensation uncomfortable. Weakening it. For the first time since the hollowness arrived, Lucifer has a measure of relief.

Please share your thoughts! :)
I'm currently in-between writing novels and couldn't resist this little story. There is at least one more chapter to come!