Author's Note: Thank you guys all so much for your encouraging reviews! :)

Anything Brighter

2.

"Thank you, Detective," he chirps late that evening as he unbuckles his seat belt to exit Chloe's car as she pulls up outside of Lux. The bass from the club reverberates into the vehicle even from their spot on the curb out back. "Though I fear I was of little assistance given that we never actually got to interrogate anyone."

Chloe knows that he must find the current case boring, for it has every indication of being the all too common instance of a spouse committing murder. No puzzle. No novel motive. Just affairs and jealousy and…

She places her hand on Lucifer's arm as he tugs on the handle of his door. He immediately hesitates and meets her gaze. For half a heartbeat, his dark eyes hold both a question and the tightness that has slowly begun to unnerve her. Half a heartbeat. Then the emotion is swept aside as his lips part to make some sort of innuendo, but Chloe only lets him get halfway through his smile before cutting him off.

"I heard what you asked."

He blinks. "Pardon?"

"Trixie." She looks down at her hand on his suited arm and can feel him following her gaze. With a soft sigh, she lets go to kill the engine.

Lucifer's brows twitch together. "Detective, if this is about the kitten-"

Chloe keeps her gaze on the dimly lit back entrance to the club through the windshield. "It's not about the kitten."

"Well, isn't that a relief?" he replies with a grin. "I'll be sure to drop it off in Detective Douche's waiting arms first thing in the morning. That way he'll have all day to build up an allergic-"

"You're not getting my daughter a kitten."

Lucifer's brows lower dramatically. "Are you certain you're not a sadist? You have a nasty penchant for ruining my fun."

Chloe arches a brow and fixes her blue gaze on him, reminding herself to be gentler with her bag of bricks when all she wants to do is take a swing at the tall man sitting beside her. "What happened to her?" she calmly asks instead.

"To whom? The metaphorical kitten?" He looks so genuinely confused that she knows it's not an act. That nearly all of the times that she has thought he was trying to needle her actually stemmed from some sort of inability to perceive and interpret what is right in front of him. Because he is odd. Different. But not less. Never less.

"No, not the metaphorical kitten," she snaps before she can help herself. "To your mother. I heard you asking Trixie what it's like to have a mother."

Lucifer scoffs, his brows lowering further as he leans away from her the slightest bit. "You most certainly did not."

She fixes him with her withering, immovable stare.

He squirms. "You were on the phone."

"I lied."

"You what?" he squawks.

Chloe shrugs noncommittally. "I faked that I was on hold so that I could eavesdrop. I wanted to make sure you weren't going to, I don't know, corrupt my daughter any more than you already have."

"Oh come off it," he whines, throwing his shoulders back against the seat. "That cannot be the first time she has asked you what a hooker is."

When Chloe once again uses the stare, he blinks.

"You named her, not me. I wasn't even around then. Well, not in this mortal realm, at least."

"You're not answering my question."

"Because there isn't one," he snips back, pivoting so that his torso is facing her.

"Everyone has a mother."

"Not me."

"Oh, so, what, you just came out of the ground?" she asks, flinging her hand up.

"Absolutely not," Lucifer retorts, his brows still lowered. "Do I look like a potato?"

"I never said you looked like a potato," she clips back, all poise forgotten.

"You've seen me naked often enough that the words 'chiseled marble' ought to be more at the forefront of your mind than a lumpy vegetable."

"Will you stop taking this as some sort of attack?" she replies, making her ponytail bounce as she shakes her head in exasperation. "You called yourself a potato, not me."

Lucifer's brows have nearly completely hooded his dark eyes as he twists the door handle. "Wrong answer."

She gapes in shock for a moment. How the hell did this escalate?

"You are being so childish," Chloe admonishes as she struggles out of her seatbelt when Lucifer slides out of his seat. He ignores her and shuts the door. Groaning, she scrambles out of her side of the vehicle to peer at him over the hood.

"Says the pot to the kettle," he calls over his shoulder as he starts towards the back entrance to the club.

"I'm sorry," she shouts.

He stops walking and spins around to face her with a smug smile. "Didn't catch that. Can you repeat yourself?"

Chloe shakes her head again. "I didn't mean to salt a wound or… strike a nerve or whatnot."

"Oh, but you didn't," he replies, crossing back over to her but pausing a few yards short.

"Whatever. It's none of my business." She readies her keys and is about to duck back inside when Lucifer replies.

"How can I be bothered by something I've never had?"

Though her head is bowed, she can hear a strain in his voice that she knows isn't on his face. Not just a strain. More than a strain. A plea.

Chloe straightens to hold his gaze over the roof of her car once more. Her voice is soft. If she's not careful, she'll use too much air and blow the black feather away again as she has done dozens of times in the past. "Lucifer."

"How could I miss something I've never known?" he continues, holding out his hands, and the mocking tone in his voice is at war with the genuine confusion he's trying to keep from his face. If she didn't spend so much time around him, she would have missed the subtle change.

Like everyone else does.

"Because you've observed it," she replies. "With me. And Trixie." Her shoulders slump. "Lucifer, I'm sorry."

He lets out a mirthless chuckle. "Why do you keep saying that? You have nothing to apologize for."

"I mean, I'm sorry that your mother abandoned you or left you or wasn't there for you. Whatever it is she did, I'm sorry that you have to live with that weight. You don't deserve it."

Lucifer cocks his head and blinks, studying her for a moment as if stuck between tearing apart her response and collapsing into it.

"I know my own mother drives me crazy half the time," Chloe continues with a small smile, "but I would always rather have crazy than nothing."

Lucifer lets out a soft sound of agreement, shifting his gaze to the pavement between his shoes.

"The thought of Trixie not having anyone…" She swallows hard, her gaze unfocused. "No child should have to go through that."

To her surprise, he lifts his head with a small smile. "Nothing to fear there. Beatrice has an excellent mother."

Chloe smirks. "I do my best."

Lucifer peers at the club over his shoulder as the bass climbs a few decibels with a new song. "I never was a child," he says so softly that Chloe isn't certain she hears it. "I was nothing…" He returns his attention to her. "And then I was something."

"You were adopted?"

"There was a void," he continues, his voice so light that it is nearly whimsical. Chloe feels the hairs on the back of her neck rising as she listens. "Nothing but a void and our Father brought us into being to dwell in the nothingness while he created the world. Until then, it was just my brothers and sisters and I. Adrift. It sounds terrifying but it wasn't then because we didn't know any better. When you don't know any better, you have no context." His voice grows stronger as he presses on. "It was only after there was all of Creation to fill the void that any of us had any understanding. Any perspective on how we had existed before. The loneliness… the hollow echo of every thought... After I saw the world, I couldn't go back. I could never go back."

Chloe's brows are nearly touching. His voice was measured and calm but she has never heard such poesy from him before. The hairs have stood on end on her arm and she rubs a wayward hand over one, trying to chase away a chill that has nothing to do with the temperature.

Don't shout. Don't use too much air or you'll blow him away.

"Well, I'm no psychologist," she begins, "but it sounds to me like you are describing childhood. None of us can go back and most of us don't want to. Once you leave home and go out in the world…" she pauses, looking around her at the dark cityscape. "You gain perspective. Everything changes. You grow up.."

Lucifer scowls. "But you had someone to teach you."

"What about your father?" she asks, setting her keys on the roof of the car with a soft jingle. "I know he's not the greatest, but he must've done a decent job raising you."

Lucifer scoffs. "What makes you say that?"

"Because you turned out all right."

He shoots her a fleeting look, as if expecting her to reveal a joke, but when her expression remains sincere, he appears baffled. "No thanks to him."

"Then maybe you became a good man in spite of him."

"A good man?" he repeats as if she has insulted him.

Chloe braces herself for another fight, but instead, Lucifer's legs seem to be suddenly unstable. He sits down rather ungracefully on the curb. Alarm shoots through her but before she can ask if he is all right, he lets out a frustrated noise. Shutting the car door, she crosses over to him.

"This is all so bloody confusing," he bemoans, as she makes it to his side. His right hand moves to his chest, impulsively clutching at something that isn't there. His eyes are so unfocused that she doesn't think he's even aware of the action.

"Then talk to me, Lucifer. Help me understand." She takes a seat a few inches from him, wishing the bass in the building behind them wasn't so loud.

"How can I be angry at a mother I never had?" he asks the air in front of him.

"I don't know," Chloe replies, her pulse quickening over the rawness in his voice and the way his hand has remained on his breastbone. "But I would be, too."

Lucifer chuckles softly. "I don't even know if I really am angry or if I'm just…"

"Envious?"

He looks at her sharply but Chloe holds his gaze. There is something clear in her light eyes that pierces through the agitated heat in his chest and brain where he knows the ugly thing to be inside of him. When he realizes that she is right, he can't hold her gaze. Instead, he pulls his hand away from his chest and studies it.

So human. So mortal.

She lets the moment of silence stretch between them before speaking softly. "I don't have access to UK databases, but I could see what I could find out about your birth mother if you want me to."

Lucifer sucks in a deep breath, as if he is smoking, but doesn't exhale as he lowers his hand. "That's very kind of you, Detective, but as I've said, there is nothing to find."

Chloe shakes her head. "Even if you were left on someone's doorstep, there would still be a record of your birth at the hospital."

"Again," he presses, and the slight warning in his voice reminds her once more not to kick up a breeze that might knock the feather down. "Humans did not exist when I was created. I was not born. I have no mother. There is no record until five years ago. We've been through this."

"Right," she agrees with a nod.

"Yes, right," he argues back. "I know you don't believe me, but it's the truth. I'm not lying."

She bites her tongue to keep from pushing back, knowing that if she could just get him to open up a bit more, to give her some inkling of how he was so severely damaged to have become a man who thinks he's the devil, then she could help him unfold his crumpled being. But he is too delicate for that and she is too clumsy. One wrong move and she would split him open and helplessly watch him bleed out before withdrawing forever. And she couldn't handle that. Not now. Not ever. Irrevocably damaged or not, he is whole enough and doing his damndest to thrive. She can't ask more of him than that. "Okay."

"Okay?" he repeats, blinking in surprise.

She nods in agreement. "Okay."

Lucifer tugs unnecessarily on one of his sleeves as if adjusting it. "This is sudden."

"Because I don't want to argue anymore."

"My dear detective, we are not arguing," he insists around a grin. "We're discussing."

Chloe arches a brow. "You didn't seem to think it was a discussion when you thought I compared you to a potato."

The smile immediately slides off of Lucifer's face. Chloe tenses for what she is sure will be a diva moment. Instead, the most unlikely thing happens. Lucifer snorts. Then he snorts again. It seems to take him as long as it takes her to realize that he is laughing. Genuinely laughing. The oddity of the situation makes his amusement spread to her, as well. When he hears her deep, guffawing giggle, it makes his all the louder.

"Maze will be out here any minute, thinking that I'm on something and demanding a taste."

"She keeps a sharp eye on you, doesn't she?" Chloe asks as her laughter calms.

"Even when I don't want her to."

"Kind of like a mother."

Lucifer arches his neck back and groans. "Trust me. You do not want to make that comparison unless you believe in the whole Oedipus Complex."

Chloe gives him one of her patronizing gazes, both daring him to say more and warning him that he is being gross. "I mean, she watches out for you because she cares."

"Oh, come off it, Detective," he insists, nudging her gently with his shoulder. "She only cares about my reputation as the devil. You're the only one actually watching out for me."

"I wouldn't have to if you had more…" she trails off, distracted by something in his expression. Lucifer listens, waiting for the rest of her jab, a small, playful smile on his lips and in his dark eyes. For the second time that day, she realizes he looks different. Subtle. Soft.

I've made him soft.

His eyes search hers and his smile broadens a little when her silence confuses him. "Don't leave me hanging. If I had more… what? Police training? Discipline? Emotional intelligence? Potatoes?"

Chloe hesitates as she feels the twist inside of her from him hum. Her voice is soft. "If you had more self-preservation. Sometimes you're so focused on catching the wrongdoer that you put yourself in danger. No, not sometimes. A lot of times."

"And does that upset you?"

A flicker of fear tightens his eyes and mouth the moment the words are out, as if he can't believe that he let them escape.

"Of course it does," she insists, leaning her shoulder against his in turn. "I care about you, Lucifer. I don't want anything bad to happen to you in the future any more than I want it to have happened in the past."

He studies her face for the length of several seconds as his expression morphs from apprehension to something fractured. He takes a shuddering breath and for a moment, she's worried he's going to start crying. Instead, he studies his shoes and the pumping of the bass behind them echoes their heartbeats. The moment is long enough for Chloe to start to wonder if she has overstayed her welcome. She's about to shift to move when he speaks softly.

"Thank you."

Her breathing hitches in her chest when he meets her gaze. She can't tell if it's a trick of the dim light or the warmth coming from the twist he put in her, but he looks so much younger than his years. In that moment, she hates his mother for abandoning him and his father for being so strict. Or maybe she hates just how intoxicating it is to see his softness and just how prickly she usually is around him, preventing it from showing.

"I don't know what I'd do if anything ever happened to you," he continues, his voice gaining strength, "so you best not let the spawn walk all over you or any bad guys get too close or they'll have me to answer to."

Chloe grins. She can't help it. She hopes she looks as foolish as she feels. She presses more of her side into his and rolls her eyes for show. "Unlike you, I am a trained officer of the law."

He lets out a soft chuckle, leaning against her weight. He wants to wrap an arm around her. To invite in her warmth and hope that it fills him. But he is also frightened by something so bright. So unpredictable. As an angel, he felt emotions, but they were big and blocky. Humanity, on the other hand, rarely ever reached colors so bold as what was commonplace in the Heavens. Instead, they were left with a rainbow that included every muted tone as well as every vibrant hue. He enjoys learning all of the shades aside from the nasty ones like the hollow void that seems to have crept into the core of his being of late.

Hang on, where is it?

Chloe is peering up at the rectangular strip of night sky that she can see between Lux's Art Deco roof and the neighboring buildings. Lucifer follows her gaze. The smog and streetlights have dimmed what was once a spectacular beauty. He focuses on that, on the dearth of stars, testing to see if it will feed the pulsing apathy within as nearly every other discouraging or negative thought has over the past few weeks. When he feels no ache in response, a thin line forms between his brows.

"Isn't that odd?" he breathes to himself.

"I know," Chloe replies. "And to think people used to navigate by the stars and planets. LA would be royally screwed."

"Huh," he chirps, straightening a bit, inadvertently pulling away from her.

"What?" she asks, studying his profile.

"You've made me feel better," he replies as he twists his torso to study her. Though his dark brows are knitted in confusion there is a small smile on his lips. Lips that she has to remind herself in that moment are not for kissing after the confusion of her drunken night with him.

"Good. I'm glad I could help." She gives his arm a squeeze. "But I should get home."

"Yes, yes, of course. Save the babysitter from My Little Pony hell."

"I better not be," Chloe replies as she rises, rubbing her hands together for warmth, "Trixie should be in bed by now."

Lucifer grunts noncommittally as he stands.

"And My Little Pony hell?" she repeats, scrunching up her face at him as she makes her way towards her car. "You didn't look like you were suffering that much this afternoon."

His eyes widen slightly. "You've clearly never fully sat and watched a half hour of children's television programming. As if the cartoons themselves aren't grating enough, the adverts are even worse. Peddling beauty supplies and accessories to toddlers? It's barbaric."

Chloe smirks as she grabs her keys off the roof.

"Thank goodness Trixie has a mother to help her wade through the cesspool of gender-specific advertising, ay?"

"Since when are you a Feminist?" she teases as she opens her door.

"Now, now, no need for name calling," he admonishes.

Chloe chuckles softly and sits down behind the wheel without closing the door. Lucifer is standing on the curb, his hands in his pockets and a playful smile still on his face, albeit much gentler than the one he usually hides behind. She wishes she could hug him goodbye. Kiss his cheek. Run a hand through his hair to try to impart some strength.

Or even just wish him sweet dreams.

But Chloe is impulsive and has to remind herself that now is not the time. That no matter how hard she tries, she will never be able to fathom the true expanse of the wound in him, and as such, she had to let him set the pace, if there is any pace at all. Trixie might have been able to bully her kindness into him but Chloe wouldn't dare. There is too much at stake. For both of them.

So instead, all that comes out is, "Goodnight, Lucifer."

He gives her a little bow. "Drive safely, Detective."

She closes the door and starts the engine. He waits outside the club until she is out of his sight. Then he lets out a long breath he doesn't realize he's been holding. It fogs in front of him. It's cold out. He hadn't noticed. Not with her at his side.

He enters Lux through the back and weaves his way through the crowd, ignoring Maze's questioning glare as he passes the bar. Once upstairs, he pauses. His quarters seem vacuous and dark while the music blares below. He goes to pour himself a drink but stops short. Instead, he crosses over to the balcony and peers up at what he can see of the sky. He rests a hand over his chest, waiting for the familiar ache inside to begin as he scans the darkness for stars. He is alone in the relative quiet and that used to be enough to awaken the rift in his being, but the rooted sourness remains mute. Lucifer doesn't think he has silenced it, but he welcomes the reprieve all the same.

He knows the feeling has something to do with Father Frank. With his frustration and grief and over his death. With the smallness he now feels knowing that doing everything right is no guarantee. That in the mortal sphere, he will always lose people. Lose. Lose.

But somehow, the humans limp along all right, despite knowing this fact since birth. Or maybe in spite, he hears Chloe's voice add in his mind.

Apathy has been a new feeling for him, and though it may have started like a nauseous, discordant tune on his skin, there is also another, far more harmonious melody warming his entire being. It is electric and unwieldy and he is powerless in front of it, but he likes being forced to trust this new feeling, even when he doesn't think he has the energy. Because trusting it means trusting her. Because in all his thousands of years, Lucifer has never experienced anything brighter than Chloe Dekker. For now, she is enough to wither the depression inside.

And just like that, some of the haze shifts overhead and he can glimpse a star.

"Well," he muses to himself around a grin. "What do you know?"

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