Lucifer Morningstar stumbled as he landed in the alley, his battered sense of self-preservation setting him down away from prying eyes.
He ached, his wings throbbing relentlessly, his thoughts whirling nearly as quickly as his pulse.
She had seen, and he, idiot, hadn't even realized. Not until he had taken note of her stunned expression had he bothered to look down and to see the scorched redness of his skin.
He had pleaded for the return of his Devil face and all it symbolized, and his father had chosen then, of all times -.
No. No, he knew it hadn't been dear old Dad. No, that particularly cruel bit of timing had been his own damned fault.
If he could have introduced her gently to the idea, and perhaps not mere seconds after he had orchestrated the slaughter of her ex-fiancé, maybe…
But maybe not. He'd seen her face. Maybe her reaction to his Devil face always would have been that look of shock.
And Cain's death, he didn't regret it, for all that it had brought about the return of his other form. Maybe because it had brought it back; for all the inconvenient timing, his Devil face still felt more his than the blasted wings did. And Cain's death had been the only way to keep her safe. He'd seen that gleam of obsession in Cain's eyes, and he knew that his continued existence would only have caused more tragedy.
He ran a hand along his face, checking, but no. Still smooth.
Chloe's shocked expression appeared in his mind once more, and he shuddered, wincing at the pain from his wings. He'd seen that look and bolted.
He'd managed to restore his glamour while in flight, for all the good that would do him, and he'd flown until he could go no further. He didn't even know where he'd landed. A city, yes, but which one?
Lucifer couldn't find it in himself to care.
He eased away first one wing and then the other. His wounds had healed in flight, but his muscles, unaccustomed to the movement, protested.
A slow clap sounded from the end of the alleyway closest to the road, and Lucifer turned sharply.
"Pigeon wings, huh?" the red-clad figure said, his voice sharp with brittle humor. "Don't see that a lot. And, hey, you were smart enough not to do that landing on one knee thing. You know that smarts."
"What?" was all Lucifer could manage, though the small part of his brain that wasn't focused on the Detective flared in outrage. His wings were far superior to pigeon wings.
Funny how he still cared.
The man, if indeed he was a man, stepped closer. "Who even are you? You're not Archangel, not unless you've gone back to the old look, and even then he was blond." He turned as if facing someone, though Lucifer didn't see anybody there. "Did we change authors? Is this a new timeline?" He went still, mumbling something Lucifer didn't quite catch, then turned back to Lucifer.
"I get that a lot," Lucifer replied, able to focus on only one of the statements. "The blond thing. Tried it once. It's not a good look for me." He grimaced at how faint his voice sounded, and muttered, "I need a drink."
The black and red mask covered the man's face, but his tone when he next spoke suggested a wide, wicked smile, likely similar to those that Lucifer himself had worn on many occasions. It was the expression of a person on the edge. "Well, you're in luck, my feathered friend. I was going to go see how close I can get to alcohol poisoning. Wanna come with?"
Lucifer didn't bother to ask where, but numbly followed the man, even when he led them to a sign for a school. "No children," he protested, but the man led him into the building and up to the bar, for bar it was. He ignored the stares from the other occupants, instead asking his companion, "Who are you?"
The man drew himself up, hands on his hips, his voice dropping half an octave as he replied, "I'm Batman." He maintained the pose as Lucifer stared at him. "No? What gave it away? I'm Deadpool, and I'm way cooler than Batman. What are you? DC or Marvel. No, don't tell me - DC. You've got that emo vibe."
"Vertigo, huh?" Deadpool crowed. "DC, I knew it! Wow, a crossover!"
Ignoring Deadpool's incomprehensible words, Lucifer pulled a heavy roll of bills from his breast pocket and dropped it before the gaping bartender. "Round for everyone. And I want whatever will get me drunk the fastest. Keep it coming." It wouldn't get him drunk, of course, but no sense explaining that.
A cheer sounded from the crowd as the bartender pulled out a bottle and, after a look to Deadpool, filled two glasses. Lucifer lifted his glass in a vague salute before tossing back the drink.
He didn't even taste its contents, and he figured that was probably a good thing. Place like that, it wasn't going to be top shelf. But it was alcohol, and if he drank enough of it, he might feel a little less.
Deadpool watched him, or Lucifer thought he did. Had he managed to drink with the mask on? Well, the level of alcohol was lower in his glass. "Who is that Archangel chap you mentioned earlier?" Lucifer queried, curious as to whether one of his siblings was slumming it in… well, wherever they were.
"An X-Man," Deadpool replied. "They keep asking me to join, but it's not my thing. And that big, empty house, it's just weird. They're not all bad, though. Like Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead."
"Negasonic what?" Lucifer began. He'd heard that adolescence did things to humans, particularly the girls, but a warhead? He made a mental note to step lightly around Trixie in a few years.
Well. Assuming the Detective would ever let him around either herself or Trixie ever again. Lucifer swallowed another drink, not even sure it touched his tongue on the way down, and gestured for a refill.
A particularly hairy, burly specimen of a man settled on his other side, regarding him mournfully. "Women trouble?"
The man shrugged. "Your face. It looks like a women trouble kind of face. Like Wade." He gestured toward Deadpool, who didn't seem to be paying attention.
"My face," Lucifer muttered, putting down the glass before it shattered in his grip, "Is my problem."
The burly fellow, perhaps sensing that he was in over his head, sidled off with a muttered, "Thanks for the drink."
"Your face," Deadpool drawled, his tone biting. "Yeah, you're a real dog."
"Well, this isn't my actual face, is it?" Lucifer retorted. "Not any more."
Deadpool hunkered closer. "Who'd'ja take it from? Can I borrow it? Just for funsies?"
Feeling himself unreasonably irritated by Deadpool, Lucifer grabbed his glass and took another drink.
"Your 'face,'" Deadpool said, making air-quotes. "Is that why you're trying to kill yourself with Weasel's cheap, shitty alcohol?"
"Hey," Weasel protested, as he poured Lucifer another drink. "He's paying a lot for my shitty alcohol."
Lucifer pushed aside the glass. It wasn't helping anyway. "I can't die. Not unless she's around."
"See?" came the burly man's voice from the pool table. "Women trouble."
"Not helping, Buck," Deadpool called over his shoulder. He leaned his elbows against the bar. "I'll bet mine is worse."
"Here we go," muttered the bartender.
Lucifer turned to look at Deadpool. "My - Detective saw my face."
Deadpool shook his head. "And? I mean, your nose is a little big, but that has its uses. I'd do you."
For a moment, Lucifer considered it. He wasn't really into cosplay, but it might get his mind off things.
"Me, too," called Buck.
"Didn't I tell you no more lines?" Deadpool shrugged, turning back to Lucifer as he asked, "What's the problem?"
Lucifer sighed, and shifted into his Devil face. It didn't feel different, but he glanced at his hand. There it was: the twisted, reddened flesh that had scared off the Detective. If he thought about it long enough, which he would not, he could still remember the Fall, the way his skin crisped.
Had he truly brought all that upon himself? What sort of masochist was he? Not that he didn't enjoy that sort of fun on occasion, if that's what his partner wanted, but really, this was a little extreme.
He slipped a hand in his pocket and brushed his fingers against his phone, thinking of calling Linda. She could help him sort it out. But, no. Wherever he was, going to see Linda would bring him closer to Chloe, and he was already seeing that shocked expression in his mind again. Seeing it in person would be too much to bear.
While he couldn't see Deadpool's reaction, Buck startled and Weasel edged farther down the bar. "This is the problem," he said, with a vague gesture at his head.
"Nice look," Deadpool approved, his voice bright. "I like that red-eye thing you've got going on. Very monochromatic. And look!" He extended a red-clad arm, holding it next to Lucifer's face. "We match."
"It's my own fault," Lucifer muttered, ignoring both Deadpool's banter and his arm as he restored his glamour. "I brought about someone's death, and I enjoyed it."
And Deadpool laughed, easing back to his seat. He laughed! Lucifer must have shifted back into his Devil form again, as Deadpool said, "Easy, Red. But, really? You got this face for killing someone? How? Did you carry them into a burning building?"
"I thought it was a curse from my father, but it seems that my appearance is a reflection of how I feel I ought to appear." Lucifer grabbed his drink once more, and downed it, adding bitterly, "What I think I deserve."
Weasel refilled the glass, saying, "Tough break. Because you look like hamburger meat that got waved over a grill and then tossed in a dumpster for a week."
Deadpool grabbed Lucifer before he could reach over the bar and take out his feelings on the unsuspecting bartender. "Hoisted on your own petard, huh?" Deadpool quipped, somehow making it sound intriguingly pornographic. Lucifer didn't bother to break the grip, but just looked at the hand upon his wrist.
Deadpool released Lucifer and put a hand to his mouth, the eyes of his mask somehow suggesting widening. "That came out wrong." He cocked his head. "Or did it?"
"Not in the mood," Lucifer muttered, though he found himself starting to like this odd man. He restored his glamour once more, though not before giving the bartender a baleful, red-eyed glare.
Deadpool shook his head. "At least I got a break from the cancer out of mine." He pulled off his hood, revealing his own mottled, ropy flesh. "And I can't make my face go away without this." He tossed the hood on the bar, seeming more serious.
"What, you had cancer, then got that face, and now you don't?" Lucifer asked, curious despite himself.
"You'd think looking like that would scare the cancer away," Weasel offered, though he stepped back at Lucifer's glower.
Deadpool shrugged. "The cancer's still there, but I won't die from it. Nothing will kill me now, mostly, and in exchange I have this beautiful face you see before you." He made an extravagant gesture toward his head, though he didn't smile.
"I've seen worse," Lucifer replied, with a shrug of his own.
"Well, that just makes me feel so good about myself, all warm and fuzzy inside," Deadpool said, his tone one of false cheer. And now he did drink, reaching across the bar to refill his glass.
Lucifer watched the man in silence, considering the play of light and shadow on his face. Redden the coloring, and it could be his. "Did it hurt?" he said. He looked away, not liking how tentative his voice had gone.
"Yes." One word from Deadpool, short, clipped, tight. Lucifer let the silence hang, the way Doctor Linda sometimes did, and Deadpool added quietly, "They said they could cure my cancer. I did what they said so I could be with Vanessa. Never thought I would end up like this."
Lucifer felt his heart sink. He turned back to Deadpool, vaguely noting that Weasel had put a new bottle on the bar and fled, that the nearby people had drawn away. "Let me guess," he said, his voice gone ugly. "She saw you and renounced you, said she could never love a monster such as yourself."
And Deadpool laughed, a brittle, bitter sound. "No. That's what I thought, so I avoided her. I stayed away, wasted all that time." His voice rose in both pitch and volume, and Weasel looked over, wary.
"Wade, you didn't know what would happen."
The bar had gone unusually quiet, and Lucifer caught a few sympathetic looks sent toward Deadpool. Lucifer heard Buck mutter something about cream cheese spreaders, his expression doleful.
"What happened?" Lucifer asked, when it looked like nobody else was going to talk.
"I finally showed myself to her, and she was fine. Said…" He drew himself up from his slouch, clearly repeating from memory, "'After a brief adjustment period and a bunch of drinks, it's a face I'd be happy to sit on."
Lucifer shook his head. Maybe this Vanessa could see past Deadpool's looks, but Deadpool wasn't the actual Devil. "Good for her," he said, encouraging, "Why are you sitting here, then? Why not go take her up on her offer? I'll spring for the alcohol if that's what's holding you back. Yes, Weasel, I'll buy it here," he added, acknowledging the barkeep's frantic gestures.
Deadpool looked up to meet Lucifer's gaze, his own expression bleak. "She's dead. Job gone wrong, and the asshole found out where I lived and killed her."
"Oh. Oh, Mr. Pool, I'm terribly sorry." Lucifer grabbed a bottle from Weasel out of habit and poured another drink for Deadpool, though the other man didn't take it.
"So I win," Deadpool said, with a brittle twist of his lips. "Whatever your woman problems are, she's still alive. You still have time to un-fuck up whatever you fucked up."
"Women like flowers," came a quiet voice from the pool table.
"Shut up, Buck." Deadpool and Lucifer said the words in unison, though neither of them spoke with any real heat.
Deadpool's face had gone speculative. "And maybe I have time, too."
"Time… but you said she was dead," Lucifer said. "I'd put in a word with dear old Dad, but we're not exactly on speaking terms just now."
Deadpool grinned, a wide, manic expression. "That doesn't mean she has to stay dead. Might fix some other things, while I'm at it." He pulled on his hood in a quick, practiced gesture, and was gone.
Lucifer looked after him, then gave Weasel a look inquiry. "What's he on about?"
"No idea," Weasel replied. "But, hey, your money's still good here."
Lucifer shook his head, cutting off Weasel's attempt to refill his glass. "I think maybe I have somewhere else to be." He inclined his head as he turned to leave.
Buck raised his glass in salute. "Go get her!"
Lucifer ducked into the alley and leaned against the wall, careless for once about the grime of his surroundings. The suit was already a lost cause, after all.
Should he go after Chloe? He shuddered as he remembered how shocked she had looked. But Deadpool had a good point. He didn't know how Chloe would react. Maybe her stunned expression would have faded, if Lucifer had just given her some time. Maybe she just needed a moment or two to take it all in.
He reached for his phone and almost dialed Linda's number. She could go talk to Chloe for him, suss out how she was doing.
But, no, this was something he needed to do for himself. He put away his phone, unfurled his wings and squinted at the sky, realizing that he still didn't know where he was. He could pull out his phone and check Google maps, but finding out in the air would be more interesting. It had been ages since he'd seen this world he loved from the air; during his earlier flight, he'd been too wrapped up in his own misery to consider the scenery.
Lucifer took to the air, preternaturally aware of the muscles in his back, the feel of the wind through his feathers. He hadn't gotten far before he realized where he was. That particular skyline, even broken as it was, could not belong anywhere else.
He hadn't realized that he'd flown so far, and he almost considered landing and taking some less physical method to get home. But no; that would take too long, and he wanted to get to his Detective.
Using strong, bold wingstrokes, Lucifer set off for home.
Lucifer stood before her door. He tugged at his suitjacket, then gave it up as a lost cause before smoothing a hand over his hair.
Should he have brought flowers, as Buck had suggested? He almost left to go find some, but no. It would have hinted at his real desperation. Besides, how could he possibly find flowers that were lovely enough for his Detective?
He knocked. It was the hardest thing he'd done since he'd dared to claim free will as his own. The response took long enough that he imagined her looking through the peephole and deciding not to answer, but the door finally eased open. Lucifer glanced at his hands: still glamoured. Still safe.
Chloe stood silently in the doorway, then, to Lucifer's puzzlement, bent toward the ground. She straightened, then offered Lucifer a feather. He must have brushed it from his clothing.
He took it, twisting it between his fingers as if to hide it.
"So." Chloe cleared her throat and tried again. "It was real. You're really…"
Lucifer couldn't look Chloe in the eyes, so he focused on her chin. "Yes."
He could see her chin bob as she nodded. "Come inside," she said, sounding calm. "Let's talk."
Startled, Lucifer met Chloe's gaze. She smiled, then took his hand to urge him into the apartment.
He thought he had known all the ways she could surprise him. Clearly, he had been wrong. Maybe, after all, something good could come out of everything that had happened.