Takes place during the events of "My Bloody Valentine." In another location, of course.


Things had changed, it seemed.

The changes were small, and of little consequence to himself in particular, but significant, all the same. They had resisted him before – humans were easily fooled in the initial stages of an operation, but boy howdy, did they scratch like wet cats when their eyes were finally opened – but their resistance had always been futile, too little, too late. And in most ways, they were and always would be the same. His mission was in no real danger. How could it be? It was written, and in his day, things written never failed to come to pass.

But he could not deny that things had changed.

He had laughed at first when he'd seen them. He'd been in an old warehouse, giving out orders when they swooped down on him with their black helicopters and armored cars, weapons drawn. He supposed they imagined they'd take him clean, interrogate him in some dark room like a second rate terrorist who hadn't had time to eat a gun before being captured. Their flesh on the walls showed them how wrong they really were.

He left a few alive to warn whoever was unfortunate enough to collect them, and went on his merry way, sure they'd be smart enough to give him a wide berth in the future.

But they'd come back.

By then he was in Jerusalem, seeking a jar of very special oil. They came after him again, this time with some absurd bombs. They'd dipped the little iron projectiles in holy water and rigged them to TNT or plastique or whatever the kids were calling it these days. Little bottles wrapped in rags had come flying in through the windows, and he fought not to lose his cool as the building collapsed around him and the holy oil spilled all over the place.

The entire village had felt the pain after that little stunt.

But it didn't end, even after that. It seemed human governments were sharing intel – most un-apocalypse-like behavior – and everywhere he went, there they were, waiting. A thousand faces of a thousand races, and each one he encountered had some new way to inconvenience him. Small black stones in Shanghai had melted the flesh from Nick's hands when he picked them up. Enchanted sand in North Africa had blinded him for three days. They'd sacrificed a virgin in Quetzalcoatl and he'd burned his feet trying to walk into Texas. It was maddening.

So they'd gone underground.

New names, new vessels for his lieutenants, business licenses, the works. There had been a moment during which he had considered simply running around and slaughtering them all by hand, but that might have unforeseen consequences. There were rules, a script to be followed. These deviations were small now, but their effects could multiply over time. And he was tired of the traps. The soles of the feet of his impromptu host were still on fire after a month. It was time for Sam to get with the program.

But all in good time.

For now, he was here.

"B302, Window four, please."

They were creepy little places, DMVs. Long lines, dozens of little windows made of bulletproof glass, forms, strange people, ugly hair. It seemed the only thing worse than automobiles was the building where they were registered.

"Window four, please!"

Smoke floated in his direction. Ah, cigarettes. Yet another wonderful human invention.

Lucifer turned to the smoking woman beside him. "Excuse me, ma'am," he said, giving her a wan smile. "Do you mind?"

She was in her mid-forties, by the looks of her. She wore pants that were far too short for her unfortunate frame, and a fat white bra strap was visible under the thin strap of her tank top. She didn't even spare him a glance.

"You want, fresh air, head on outside." Her voice belied her appearance; it was melodic and strong, and had a faint southern twang. "Smoking's allowed in here."

Lucifer grinned and crushed his little paper. "I don't like smoke, you sniveling little cunt. Put it out."

She was about the launch into quite the tirade, he sensed, but she finally looked up at him. He little paper floated to the floor.

"Please," she said. Her cigarette had burned down to the stub, but she didn't seem to notice. "Please…"

"B302, Window four, please!"

"Don't bother," he said, taking the cigarette from her hand. He put it into his mouth and swallowed it. She began to shake. "It never helps to do that."

People around them had taken notice, and those with children pulled them close. The security guard near the entrance sensed the change in atmosphere and headed his way, walking with a self-important strut.

Lucifer snapped his fingers.

Shock was an interesting thing, he thought to himself. Everyone had seen, but for a moment they turned back to their activities and tried to keep going. It was a full minute before the meaningless chatter of strangers in close quarters came to a complete halt, and even after that, a woman covered in the guard's blood dug through her purse. Probably looking for her ticket.

Perhaps she was B302.

"As quaint as this place is, I'm in a bit of a hurry." His voice resonated in the silence. He liked the sound, so he spoke a little louder. "You see, a friend of mine will be arriving shortly. An older fellow – eyesight's going, I think – who usually rides a rather pale horse, but insists upon driving this time around. I know it's in bad form to cut, but is there any way I could persuade you to…well, service me first?"

He turned to the blood-covered woman digging through her bag.

"Do you mind, B302?"

She shook her head, still digging.

He smiled and walked over to window four.

"Hello," he said, passing her the vehicle registration form and five applications for a driver's licenses. "The car's a bit old, a 1959 Cadillac. Rebuilt. Are there any other forms I'll need to fill out for that, or…"

The woman behind the window took the forms from the little silver tray and began typing the information into the computer. It was slow going at first, but before long she was typing away like she did every other day. Because shock and terror were funny things, at bottom.

"We…"

He raised his eyebrows questioningly.

"Yes, dear?"

"W-We'll need to inspect the v-vehicle."

Talking was apparently harder to while in shock than was typing. "Don't you trust me?"

Her lips flapped as she tried to think of a reply. He didn't suppose he could kill her for that. The situation was highly unorthodox. He wasn't unreasonable.

"Tell you what," he said, pulling out his wallet. He handed her pictures of Brady Thompson and four others. He leaned in close and whispered. "We'll skip the inspection and the verifications and the applications and the other-fications and you can just make me these licenses and register this vehicle. It'll be our little secret, Marjorie."

She blinked at her name. She shuffled the papers for almost two minutes.

"Marjorie," he said.

She stopped shuffling.

He sighed.

She nodded and started typing.

"Good girl."

Someone made a run for the door.

He snapped his fingers.

Nobody screamed.

Tough crowd.

"It'll be just a minute, sir." She actually managed a smile.

Lucifer made fingerprints on the glass while the machine whirred and clicked. A baby coughed.

He breathed on the window and started to write his name.

"Please, sir." Marjorie was pleasantly terrified. He didn't like humans, but they sure had emotional range. "We ask that not put your fingers on the glass."

He looked around at the bloody room, then stared at her for a long moment.

"You've been working here too long, Marjorie," he said.

The printer beeped.

"Ah, good," he said. He clapped.

Everyone gasped.

"Oh, relax," he said.

"Here you go!" She put the license cards in the silver tray along with the new registration. "All done." She chuckled insanely.

"Thank you," he said.

He almost slipped in the blood on his way out, but didn't.

Outside, he walked up to a man in a leather jacket and red jeans.

He stared.

"He only has colored pants," the demon said, shrugging.

"Deliver these." Lucifer handed him the documents. "The building is clear. Bring a few others with you. Clear the lobby, and make sure none of the workers remember your faces."

"Shouldn't we just kill them, too?"

The demon doubled over in pain, grunting.

"Not unless you like holy iron in your lungs," Lucifer said. "They need real identities. They can't get into place without them."

The demon fell to the ground, coughing blood and choking.

"And we can't have Death interrupted for driving without a license."

The demon began to convulse.

"I don't trust these humans. They've hurt me. They might…complicate things for death. We must put nothing past them."

Lucifer released him.

"Now," he continued. "Get in there and get it done. No fuck ups."

The demon nodded.

Lucifer walked through the mini-mall, stopping in front of an antique shop to stare at the clocks. A large one, called a Moriarty Deluxe, was on sale.

There was that name again.

Coincidence?

He didn't believe in those.

But what, if not that?

He sighed, biting his lip, and kept walking. He was expected.

God, his feet were killing him.