Author's Note: I am leaving on an adventure overseas for roughly three weeks (to Ireland and Scotland!) so I was certain to get this out before I left. Expect more upon my return. Until then... enjoy! And if you go into withdrawals, you can always check out one of my books under K.M. Rice!

Anything Brighter

7.

She wants to be near me, Lucifer muses as he allows himself to drink in the curve of Chloe's lashes, the funny way her eyes widen as she emphasizes the audacity her mother had to once recommend Trixie for an audition, the wild impishness that he can almost taste just beneath her skin, bridled for civility's sake but needing only a gentle suggestion to come out and play.

"She knows how important it is for me to give Trixie a normal life, she knows how-"

"I get to ask questions, too," he announces.

Chloe stares blankly and Lucifer thinks he can literally see her thoughts shifting track. She is still sitting across from him on her couch and he is on his, bundled beneath Trixie's pink comforter. Chloe's entire face wrinkles as she hisses, "What?"

Lucifer tilts his chin up in a haughty expression that is void of confidence. "Fair is fair."

She peers around the room for a moment, as if wondering what triggered this sudden change in subject. "You want to ask questions about my mother?"

He blinks and loses his haughty posture. "No," he drawls somewhat petulantly, "About humans. Your people. If you get to pick my brain - which is a disgusting expression, I might add - then I, in turn, get to pick yours."

"You're right, that does sound pretty gross," Chloe mutters, grabbing her mug of lukewarm tea and taking a sip. It is nearly gone.

Lucifer lets out a soft noise of agreement before narrowing his eyes. "That was rude, wasn't it? Me interrupting you while you talked about one of your problems?"

She shrugs a dismissive shoulder. "It was more of a rant, but yes, most people would assume you're either an asshole or have ADD."

"ADD?" His grin is ridiculous. "Amazingly Delectably Delicious?"

Chloe snorts as she sets her mug down and Lucifer lets his face go lax.

"Yes, that was quite camp," he agrees.

She lets out a rough giggle then straightens, tucking her feet under her, mirroring him. "Camp. That is so English. I mean, you said you escaped Hell and were spit out in the ocean, somehow swimming with a pair of wings, outside of LA, right?"

"Back to the divine, I see," he mutters as he leans back against the cushions, arching his neck back to peer up at the ceiling in the slight chance that she doesn't already know how bored he is. Instead of the plaster of a more affordable home, the underbelly of the roof is covered in white shiplap and he traces its lines with his eyes, feeling them adjust to the shadows above to allow for the lack of light; an ability he is sure Chloe doesn't have. An innate part of his being that sets him outside of everyone else.

Too human to be an angel. Too angelic to be a human. Weirdo is the appropriate term here, actually, he thinks.

Chloe ignores his theatrics. "The United States of America," she presses. "We haven't been a colony since, oh, 1776?"

"Yes, yes, I heard all about your little war," he replies to the ceiling, narrowing his eyes the slightest bit at a daddy long legs perched, statuesque, on its cobweb. "Honestly, are you giving me a history lesson? You do realize that I'm-"

"English. From near London, I would guess. And yet you've never set foot there, have you?"

Lucifer had just started to search for a name for the spider when the thoughts are suddenly wrenched from his mind. He lets his chin drop suddenly, fixing her with an expression of such perplexion that Chloe can almost see him ruffling his feathers. His dark eyes bore into hers for the span of several heartbeats during which Chloe tries valiantly not to show any hint of amusement. She has rarely, if ever, seen him so genuinely shocked.

"So why the accent?" she presses softly. "The vocabulary from across the pond? The posh demeanor?"

His brows lower with his voice into an almost threatening display, but she knows better than to fear she has upset him. She has seen the twist in his heart when she has upset him, and it nearly froze her lungs. She brushes the memory aside. All has been forgiven. She believes him.

Somehow, in the breadth of half a breath, she takes in the way one shoulder is higher than the other, the way his thumb is rubbing the cotton of the blanket, and the incredibly bright, aching yearning emanating from his being and there, in that half a breath, she vows to never be the cause of his pain again.

After all, what are friends for?

Lucifer blinks, his tone lightly defensive as he replies, and Chloe smirks at his obliviousness to her thoughts. "I say bucks and Band-Aid and bananas." He winces when he knows he pronounced that last one off.

She arches a brow. "Banaaanas?"

"Silence, you ruffian."

Another low giggle tumbles out of her mouth. "Is that the best you've got?"

"Colonial upstart." Lucifer shifts beneath the pink comforter, pulling it tighter around his shoulders, a thin line between his brows. "You are speaking to the Prince of Darkness."

"And he doesn't even have an explanation for being the black sheep of Downton Abbey."

He lifts one corner of his lips. "You have the accent."

"Tell me," she insists, leaning forward.

A deep line forms between his brows and he speaks softly to himself. "Amenadiel and Maze would be able to blend in better than me." He blinks and raises his voice. "He really is cruel, you know, giving benefits to those who don't even want nor appreciate them."

"You can learn to be less…. English," she offers, but she can't fight the cringe from her shoulders and face for the very thought of him with an American voice feels deeply violating.

"I can't because this is how I was made, and I can't tell you how I was made, either." He lets out a grunt of amusement, though his brows are still tense. "I can't tell much at all, can I?"

"Why not?" she presses with a small smile in an attempt to alleviate his sudden cageyness. "Will it break my brain?"

Lucifer raises his dark brows, decorating his forehead with lines. "Do you have any memory of your birth?"

Chloe pulls a disgusted face, making her look like Trixie. "Thank God."

"Possibly, I'll have to ask him about that one next time we have a chat, which will be never," Lucifer quips.

"So you can't tell me because you don't remember?"

"I've already told you all I remember, and the more you keep pressing me for details, the more inadequate I realize I actually am at even recalling being one of the Heavenly Host."

She squints her eyes as she says, "But you couldn't possibly have been made with an English accent when you were created before nations. Before people."

To her surprise, Lucifer grins, and though it is beautiful, it is as fake as his swagger, and a part of her crusts over at the thought of him employing diversion tactics even with her. "Precisely" he replies, then shifts to get more comfortable. "Now, onto more important things, namely me and my questions."

"But you didn't answer-"

"Some things, Detective, are best left untouched. I note that you are not, in turn, asking about my hair color, height, or ethnicity, so before I have fun painting you as a racist-"

"County-ist," she belligerently interjects.

"-You can fulfill your half of the best friend bargain by indulging me."

"Bargain? Being friends isn't a bargain, Lucifer."

He rolls his eyes. "Whatever you want to call it, then."

Chloe arches a brow. "Relationship."

He purses his lips for a moment. "I can't tell if I like the sound of that or if it makes me want to gag."

Despite the taunt, Chloe refuses to change her attentive demeanor. Lucifer seems dismayed with her lack of reaction to his prod but lets the smallest of smiles slip out before he shifts, lying down on the couch and peering at her with his head propped on pillows. Chloe stiffens as a languid smile curls his lips and he doesn't blink, refusing to break eye contact. She instinctively braces herself. That look can only mean trouble. And she likes it.

A flush rises up in her chest at her own thoughts, but she manages to fan out most of the heat before it reaches her cheeks. Because it is okay to like his thoughts. To like his curiosity. To bask in his attention.

Everything is okay, she reminds herself. Human or not, he is still Lucifer. My black feather. She can't suppress the smile that suddenly blooms with a little laugh as she shakes her head. "Why is it that I don't want to know what your first question is?"

"Because of my face," he says without altering it.

"I was being sarcastic."

"You seem utterly convinced that sarcasm suits you, but on the whole it is an entirely uncreative form of humor."

Chloe bats her eyelashes at him. "Question."

To her surprise, he lets out a small snorting laugh at her simpering expression. "Who was your favorite Spice Girl?"

Her guffaw is nearly drowned out by his follow up statement.

"Don't deny it - you were a fan in your youth. I can tell."

Chloe keeps her gaze fixed on the dancing delight on Lucifer's face, even as she narrows her eyes. "How could you possibly know that?"

"Instinct."

"You don't have instincts. You're not human. You didn't evolve."

"Oh, trust me. I'm evolving. Deduction, then."

"And what, pray tell, screams Spice Girls when you look at me?"

Lucifer bites his lower lip, cocking his head slightly as he appraises her. "I can tell you what you want, what you really, really want."

"And what's that?" she asks around a grin that she can't suppress. For the first time, she doesn't even have the urge to hide her smile. Her delight.

He clears his throat, raising his brows, seeming to absorb her openness like sunlight on cold skin. "You, Miss Chloe, are a master at misdirection but I can see your game. Answer. Now."

Chloe sighs theatrically and thumps back onto a pile of cushions on her sofa so that she is lying the opposite way as him. They peer at each other over her half-empty Chinese food cartons and the dregs of their tea. The rain continues to fall outside, and neither can tell if it's muffling or insulating their hope, but it feels good all the same. Isolated. Safe. Together. The room no longer feels chilly.

"Sporty," Chloe reluctantly says. "She actually did things, you know?"

Lucifer nods pensively. His voice is quiet. "Sporty…"

"I was never into organized sports, but I appreciated that she wasn't trying to get by on her looks. At least, she wasn't marketed that way. She was… tough."

In the quiet that follows, she can feel Lucifer's eyes on her like the promise of a fresh mug of tea and she relishes their warm spices.

"I guess I want to be… stronger." She lets out a slow exhale. "Is that a good enough answer for you? And what is this, therapy?"

Lucifer shifts, his voice playful. "I actually have no idea who the individual Spice Girls are. You could've told me Dopey and I would have ran with it."

Chloe stares for a moment then bursts out in a high-pitched laugh.

"That," Lucifer claims, pointing a finger at her as he likewise chuckles, "is a full-blown cackle. Are you certain you're not a witch?"

"Oh, I'd love to be a witch," she gushes, hugging a corner of her blanket. "Then I could cast spells on people."

He arches a brow. "You do know how women became witches in the Middle-ages?"

"Yeah. They committed the crime of being female and pisssing someone off which got them burnt at the stake."

"They went out into the woods," Lucifer says lowly and slowly, some of his geniality dimming, "and summoned the Devil. Haven't you heard this one?"

"Memorizing demented details isn't really my thing," she replies as she adjusts the blanket around her.

"But apparently it's mine. See, these women, these poor, pagan women were accused of having slept with me and as proof, some pompous bastard would point out a mark on their bodies supposed to be the Devil's Mark left by my tongue or claws or some such nonsense and that was all the proof they needed to kill them." He pauses to catch his breath and all amusement has fled Chloe's face. "Of course, there never was any such mark. I can hardly be summoned. And I could bite you right now and it would look the same as if Detective Douche did it. But they used it as an excuse, the Christians did, to murder people."

"Wow," Chloe breathes. She has the wayward desire to make light of what he has just said because it is darkening the light she now feels between them. But this isn't history to him. This is life. "You've been carrying that around a long time."

"I suppose I have," he mumbles, shifting his gaze to the pink comforter around him.

"Wait, Christians, you say?"

"What about them?"

"Your tone… it sounded as if it was a dirty word."

"It's not a dirty word, but you must admit that some terrible things have been done in my father's name."

She nods stiffly. "But Christianity is where you're from… isn't it?"

Lucifer lifts his dark eyes to her, allowing her question to hang in the air before them like the smoke of a snuffed out candle for several moments before speaking. "What was your own answer to the impossibility of my accent actually being from England?"

Chloe presses her lips together as she thinks for a moment before answering. "That it can't be because countries didn't exist before the angels?"

"What else didn't exist until after humans?"

"Religion," she whispers, her eyes unable to leave his. Unable to leave, because existential truths seem attached to every movement of their trust, inextricably linked to every mundane, whispered question.

Lucifer's voice is soft. "There is no wrong or right, Detective, only perspective and blood. Anyway, this was meant to be my Q&A." He raises his voice. "So. I know your favorite Spice Girl, but what about your favorite pasta dish?"

Chloe blinks several times before raising her voice. "These are all questions about me, not humanity."

"But you are human."

"So?"

"So you're my insight into your kind."

She arches a brow, fixing him with a stoic expression. "You can just admit that you're curious about me, you know."

Lucifer's brows lower. "I didn't think that was a secret. Was that a secret? I thought I'd made it very clear upon our meeting that you are endlessly interesting."

Chloe rolls her eyes even as she smirks. "There are people infinitely more interesting than me."

"Name one."

She lets out a soft guffaw. "My mother."

"Hardly."

"Oh please, you totally fanboyed over her."

"Did not."

"You're a terrible liar," she presses, her smile growing and pulling out one from him, as well. And just like that, the light is back.

"Moving on," he presses, "who else is more interesting than you?"

"The President."

"Ugh." Lucifer arches his neck and lets out a little groan. "Boring, boring, booooring." He refocuses on her. "If your favorite pasta dish must remain a secret, then I demand to know the answer to another question."

"What?" Chloe asks around a giggle. "Which pinky toe is bigger?"

"No," Lucifer nearly squeaks then pulls a face at the crack in his own voice. "Seriously, one is bigger? Don't answer that. Have you ever done drugs, what, when, and why?"

"That's actually a really easy one. None, never, and because I've honestly never felt the urge."

Lucifer raises himself up on one shoulder, his eyes alight. "You're not joking."

She purses her lips and shakes her head. "Not at all."

"But you were raised in Weedville."

Chloe shrugs. "That's more northern California. But still, it's not like I haven't had the chance."

"But if you had the chance they whyever didn't you seize it?"

The confusion in his voice grates against her thoughts, but she isn't certain why. "Like I said: no interest."

He narrows his dark eyes. "But haven't you any curiosity about what it's like?"

"Not really."

He studies her with his lips slightly parted, gazing in stupefied wonder for several moments before letting out a soft, "Huh."

"Huh?" Chloe imitates with an arched a brow. "And what's your answer? Why have you done every drug known to man?"

Lucifer sinks back down against the cushions. "To remember what it was like."

"What what was like?"

"Coming here for the first time." His voice is soft and smooth, his eyes slightly glazed from the echoes that only he can hear, and she instinctively knows that he is made of more starlight than her. "Everything was so fast and terrifying and confusing and brilliant and beautiful and disorienting. So much… pain and glory and pleasure. I was completely lost and yet completely at home. Bewildered yet loving every intoxicatingly humbling heartbeat. Now, of course, I'm much more used to the hustle and bustle of motives and impulses and colors. But back then… back then it was…" He narrows his eyes the slightest bit and Chloe pictures the spinning of the stars in the night sky and feels very small amongst them. Then he blinks and his dark orbs seem to sharpen as they fix on her. "New."

Chloe's expression is as pinched as her thoughts. She doesn't like to contemplate a world where a divine being could be so spiritually starved as to crave such overwhelming stimulation.

"There was so much to learn," he continues quietly. "And the learning was so simple. So quick. Every hour there was a new discovery. A new experience. But now it's all so… muted, somehow. And every discovery takes much more…"

She waits for him to say "work." "Effort." "Struggle." Instead, his answer makes her forget to breathe.

"Pain."

His gaze isn't on her. His eyes are dark and listless, his expression somewhat drawn. As if he is retreating into himself and taking the stars with him.

In that moment, she understands why his confusion over her impulse control over drugs bothers her: children don't have impulse control. Children are confused and drowning in input. She does her best to make Trixie's path clear for her, but there is so much to learn. Lucifer has assimilated with envious ease in all the ways that he needed to get by. He has absorbed culture with a voracious thirst, took a crash course on sexuality, and somehow learned how to build a mask and a persona to protect his innermost being without ever understanding what he was doing, nor why. Because the bold brush strokes are always the easiest to see, to feel, and now he was being forced to make his way through relationships and emotions that he didn't understand, not even intellectually. Which was why she had always thought of him as different. Unable to engage. Somehow less.

Calico kittens.

When it came to grief and affection and all of the changeable, nuanced emotions she had grown accustomed to like the wind, Lucifer was a stranger. Because he had only lived among humans for five years. Because he only knew how to play the part of one, not to be one. Yet all the same, the ancient light of the bond between them only seemed to flourish, despite their missteps, and she embraced it. She embraced it with an abandon she had not felt since she was very young, and there was no going back. She couldn't dim his light in her. Which made this moment all the more difficult.

Because Chloe was confronting for the first time the fact that while Lucifer might look like a beautifully grown man, he only had the emotional intelligence of a five year old.

"Fuck," she exhales.

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