Author's Note: My contribution to the Lonely Prompts Challenge on livejournal. I’m not quite sure where this idea came from. I watched the Deleted Scenes on the DVD and there was one that kinda gave me this vibe. I remembered cordy69’s prompt and I hope this caters to your wishes! It was supposed to be short and sweet, but kinda developed a life of its own. Apparently I am incapable of writing short fanfiction.
A special thanks to ficwriterjet for the amazing feedback and braving my fretting! I am eternally grateful! Without you this story would probably never have seen the light of day!
Summary: After sending his mother to her own universe and waking up in the middle of the desert with a pair of wings he didn’t want, Lucifer spirals. He drunk dials Earl Johnson who comes to deal with the fallout.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this story.
Warnings: non-consensual (slightly coerced) spanking of an adult. I do not advocate this behaviour in real life, only in fiction.

Longing to be Worthy

“For a brief moment, I thought you were my father.” Earl chuckled. “A man for whom I harbour a great deal of resentment. And you said some things that I think I wish he’d always said to me, so for that I thank you.”

Not wanting to prolong this awkward conversation or, Dad forbid, have Earl Johnson pity him, Lucifer stepped around him and opened the cab door.

“Well, I guess even a blind squirrel catches a nut every now and then,” Earl said in reply and Lucifer gave a curt nod and exhale. “Take care of yourself.” He got into the cab and Lucifer closed the door, a stricken expression on his face. “Hey, does that mean you’re not angry at your dad anymore?”

“No, I’m not angry,” Lucifer agreed. “I’m bloody furious.” Earl blinked in surprise, a slight frown settling on his face. “’Cause I realise that my Father would never say those things to me. – And for that I hate him all the more.”

The cab driver chose this moment to set the car into motion and for Lucifer there was nothing left to do but watch as it drove off, battling to keep the rage inside that threatened to consume him. His eyes flashed red in anger and, with his jaw clenched rigidly, he walked off.

He didn’t get very far though, as all of a sudden the cab stopped and Earl got out again. Lucifer halted, and willed his eyes to return to normal, suddenly curious to hear what else Earl wanted to say.

“Hey,” he started once he’d reached Lucifer. “I know it’s probably not my place. But if you ever need someone to talk to. – Give me a call.” He slipped a business card into Lucifer’s breast pocket, patting it once.

“I…” Lucifer said, but stopped again, unable to find the right words. His brows furrowed in wonder. Earl looked so earnest. But that couldn’t be true, now could it? Who’d voice an offer like that to a stranger? “That’s not necessary,” he finally settled to say, deciding to relieve him of the burden he probably didn’t want in the first place. It would be best for everyone. No sense striving after a father figure, he couldn’t have, now was there?

But Earl’s eyes hardened all of a sudden, one hand gripping his upper arm.

“I mean it,” he said, imploring, and although his gaze was stern, there was nothing but compassion on his face. “You call if you ever need anything.” Still thinking that this was wholly unnecessary, but fearing that the man would not let it rest, he nodded curtly, before averting his eyes. Earl’s ridiculously blue ones made him uneasy. It was as if he could gaze straight into his soul with his penetrating stare, and unearth every aspect of his life that he wished to leave hidden.

“You will miss your flight,” Lucifer said, as the silence was starting to become uncomfortable. Well, uncomfortable for him. Chancing a look at Earl’s face, he couldn’t detect any of the uneasiness he was so acutely feeling right now.

“Right,” Earl replied after what felt like an eternity. An eternity of unpleasant scrutiny. And Lucifer heaved a sigh of relief, he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. “You take care. – Don’t let that rage consume you. Call me and I’ll see what I can do to help.”

And with a final squeeze to his arm, Earl returned to the cab and finally drove off, leaving Lucifer standing on the sidewalk feeling somewhat lost.

That annoying twinge of … care, he supposed it was, he’d been supressing ever since he discovered that God Johnson wasn’t at all like the Father he remembered, roared back to life. He clenched his fists. There was no sense dwelling over it. He hadn’t been his Father and he would never see the man again. He’d certainly never call him.

Pushing concern and affection and … longing firmly back where they belonged, he headed for his car.

* * *

He didn’t remember how it had happened that he was currently brawling with his brother on the floor of his own club. Probably Amenadiel being his usual annoying, brooding self and from there things had escalated. He’d been in a poor mood lately and Amenadiel certainly wasn’t helping. When was he ever?

He was dimly aware of someone shouting his name and trying to separate them, but he was rather preoccupied with smashing his brother’s face in. An all-consuming task. But Amenadiel gave as good as he got. He had always been a great fighter, diligent in his training and aware of his strength. Lucifer grunted in pain as a particularly vicious blow caught his left temple and he was forced backwards, before preparing himself to charge again.

“All right, I think that’s enough,” a deep voice cut in and someone stepped in his path, effectively blocking his approach, as he didn’t want to hurt anyone but Amenadiel. He stopped short and blinked in surprise as he realised that the hand grabbing his shoulder belonged to Earl Johnson.

What on earth was he doing here? He could only stare in wonder, barely noticing that the Detective was scolding them loudly while Detective Douche helped Amenadiel to a chair.

“What has gotten into you?” the Detective asked incredulously.

“What?” he sneered, drawing his eyes away from Earl. “He started it!”

The Detective opened her mouth again, probably to deliver another scorching reprimand, but Earl interrupted, “Why don’t I take this one here upstairs and you fix him up.” He nodded towards Amenadiel. “I think we could all use a bit of time to calm down.” Lucifer gritted his teeth. He hated when people made decisions about him without consulting with him first. He was so immersed in his own thoughts about their discourtesy that he was actually startled when Earl pushed him into the elevator.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he finally managed to ask once the doors closed. He lifted a hand to carefully prod at his face where Amenadiel’s last blow had landed and winced.

“Giving you some time to calm down,” Earl replied matter-of-factly. “That’s gonna need some ice.” He nodded towards his face.

“It’ll be fine,” Lucifer shot back. “I don’t need to calm down.”

“Oh, you sure do, son, you sure do,” he said, stepping into the penthouse. Lucifer followed sullenly, because what other options did he have? He certainly didn’t want to go back downstairs and look at Amenadiel’s ugly mug. Or suffer through the Detective’s lecture.

Earl took a moment to look around before turning back to face Lucifer.

“Now, what was that I just witnessed downstairs?” he asked, leaning back against the bar top with arms crossed and eyebrows raised. It caused an odd jittery feeling in the pit of his stomach and he couldn’t help but fidget slightly.

“Just… you know…” he said, waving his arm dismissively. “A disagreement with my brother.” Earl’s eyebrows rose some more, not that he thought it possible.

“That’s a bit of an understatement, I’d say.”

“Well, nobody’s asking you, so there,” Lucifer replied, waving his arm again, before frowning at it angrily. Why was it doing that? It seemed his body was not working properly anymore. Maybe Amenadiel had hit him harder than he had first thought.

“What are you even doing here?” he asked instead. Maybe distraction would work.

“You called me,” Earl replied, a frown settling on his face.

“I… no, that can’t be right,” Lucifer said, his face puckering in concentration.

“Yes, you did,” Earl repeated. “Two days ago. At 3 AM.” He looked at him imploringly, but there was nothing but a great big blank of nothing in Lucifer’s memory. “You sounded drunk though.”

Aaah . Lucifer winced slightly. He did remember getting a little hammered that night. After a dad-awful day at the precinct and another infuriating argument with Amenadiel, boozing had been the only sensible choice that night. The alcohol (and an unhealthy dose of cocaine) had mellowed him though. The scantily dressed women and buff men with their shamelessly provocative dancing had done nothing to lift his mood, forcing him to nurse his sorrows with a bottle or five.

But it had all been the Detective’s fault anyway. If she hadn’t been there, his supernatural metabolism would have burned through the substances much faster. Then he’d never have been in such a state that he couldn’t remember making a simple phone call. To Earl Johnson, nonetheless. A man he hardly knew. How pathetic was that?

He rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly feeling self-conscious, and cursing himself for leaving the business card on his bedside table where he could see it in his inebriated state instead of burning it as he should have done.

“Wha-what did I say?” he asked uncertainly, not entirely sure that he even wanted to know. It must have been more than incoherent rambling if Earl came all the way from Texas. He chanced another quick glance at the other man’s face and saw nothing but worry and concern. He immediately felt worse for having caused it.

“You were pretty shaken up,” he started. “And most of it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. You said something about having your wings back and that they won’t stay gone, when you cut them off.” Lucifer winced again. “And feeling guilty about sending your mother to her own universe.” Oh dearie me, he must have been awfully chatty. “About fighting with your brother. About going a bit overboard with the booze and the drugs.” He paused, and Lucifer looked up again, trying to see what had prompted him to silence. “You also said you wished that I would still remember being your father and the connection we had, despite your hatred for the man. You asked if I was still proud of you, of the man you’ve become. And then you begged me to come.”

That … didn’t sound right. He wouldn’t do that, now, would he? “So here I am.” Earl concluded with a flick of his hand.

Lucifer felt a sudden prick of gratitude. It was rather sweet that Earl worried about him. Very few people would travel so far for him.

It was sweet but ultimately unnecessary. He was fine. A little embarrassed about his whining now that he knew about it, but fine. He’d managed all on his own for a very long time. He didn’t need help now. Still, it felt nice to know that somebody cared.

“As you can see, I’m perfectly fine,” he said, trying to mask his feelings behind nonchalance.

“No, you’re not,” Earl disagreed. “That display just now proved it.”

“That? That was just a bit of squabbling with my annoying, holier-than-thou brother,” Lucifer scoffed. “I’m sure you know how that is.”

“I sure do,” Earl said. “I also know that my boys would be sporting very sore backsides right about now if I’d caught them fighting like that. – And maybe that’s just what you need as well.”

Lucifer felt his neck and ears tingle with a blush at Earl’s candid words. Embarrassment and anger making a very toxic mixture. How dare the man presume to know what he needed!

“I’m sure I don’t,” he said with a sneer. “It was just a tiff with my brother, nothing we haven’t done before.”

“All right,” Earl said. “Then what do you need? Because two days ago you were pretty clear on the matter.”

“I…” He huffed, irritated. This was proving to be more difficult than first expected. How was he supposed to tell him if he couldn’t make sense of these pesky emotions himself? And how on earth was he supposed to guess what Earl wanted to hear, if he couldn’t remember his own drunken ramblings? Frustrated with himself, he huffed again, focusing on the one emotion he was uniquely familiar with. Anger.

Earl was still looking at him, leaning back against the bar top, apparently totally at ease. Something about his quiet inquisition flipped a switch somewhere in his head and he turned away, suddenly angry. The rage that had been simmering for some time now exploded inside him. His nostrils flared, breathing sharp and hard.

He didn’t even know where this sudden burst of anger stemmed from. Couldn’t explain it. He shut his eyes and concentrated on inhaling and exhaling steadily, until he had a semblance of control over his actions again. Ranting at Earl would not help. The man only wanted to help. Apparently Lucifer’s drunk self had wanted him to help.

Opening his eyes again, he saw that Earl hadn’t moved from his position at the bar, giving him the time and space he needed to get himself back under control. He certainly didn’t deserve his anger.

“I … don’t know,” he finally settled to say. “I’m sorry I called you. – I’m usually much better at holding my liquor.”

“Don’t be sorry. I’m glad you called. – And I think your drunk self was a lot more honest with himself than you’re being right now.”

Another surge of anger coursed through him.

“I don’t lie.”

“Lying by omission is still lying in my book. Even if you’re only doing it to yourself.”

“I do not need help,” he bit out angrily. “And I certainly do not need a keeper.”

“No, but that attitude suggests you do need a sound thrashing,” Earl said, a disapproving frown now portrayed perfectly on his face, and drew himself up to his full height. Lucifer wasn’t sure if he’d done so consciously, yet he couldn’t help but react and take an involuntary step back. He also couldn’t hold eye contact with the other man any longer, or so it seemed, because his eyes kept darting to the ground, although he willed them to stare straight ahead. The treacherous bastards.

His scowl deepened as he became aware of his pathetic behaviour. Earl’s suggestion was ludicrous. Who was he to imply that Lucifer, the Devil himself, was in need of punishment? He who instilled fear in sinners since the beginning of human kind? The idea that he’d actually ask for it was ludicrous. That he’d call a man he barely knew in the middle of the night and ask him if he was proud of him was downright ridiculous.

He did feel … something … though. Guilt, perhaps? He wasn’t sure. He just knew that something had to be done. Something drastic. Now if Mum had still been there, she’d have known how to snap him out of this mood. Despite her desire to get back what she once had in the Silver City and the manipulations that went along with her plan, she did love her children and do pretty much anything to end their suffering. She hadn’t shied away from reeling him back in line.

Dad, he missed her. He’d never admit it out loud, of course. But he did.

“Is that what you need, Lucifer?” Earl’s voice interrupted his inner musings. He snapped his gaze back to him. Something must have shown on his face, because the concern was back in Earl’s eyes.

“What?” Lucifer replied, scoffing, and angled his body away, busying himself with pouring another drink. And he might have purposely avoided looking at Earl, but nobody would need to know that.

“Punishment? Redemption?” Earl clarified and Lucifer scoffed again. He didn’t want to need it, that much was certain. But he couldn’t fight the nagging voice at the back of his head that told him otherwise. That longed to hear the pride in Earl’s voice again. He downed the scotch quickly. Maybe that would shut it up.

It didn’t.

So he poured another generous three fingers, downing the second drink as quickly as the first. The voice was still nagging. He grabbed for the bottle again, only to have it pushed out of his reach. Bristling shortly, he pursed his lips. With nothing else to do, and the silence becoming uncomfortable, he made the grave mistake of looking up.

“I don’t know,” he finally managed to spit out, hating himself for his weakness. For letting somebody else see his pain.

“Want to hear my thoughts?” He gave a non-committal shrug in reply. It probably wouldn’t hurt. “There was a time when my eldest son decided to be a little shit.”

“I really don’t think your little family story is going to help me,” Lucifer interrupted, already annoyed.

“Shush,” Earl replied. “He got in trouble at school, fought with and picked on his siblings, argued constantly. – Just generally acted out in every aspect of his life. My wife and I, we tried talking to him. It didn’t help. He just shut us out and continued to spiral.”

“How on earth is that similar to my predicament?”

“I think you’re acting out,” Earl said, matter-of-factly. “You feel bad about sending your mother away; about fighting with your brother.”

“I really don’t. I wish you’d not interrupted us. I owe him at least another head butt.”

“And now you feel there’s no one left who cares about you. Who is willing to put up with your shenanigans and you try to push them away to avoid the heartbreak that’s gonna be inevitable if they decide to desert you.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“You asked me if I’m proud of the man you’ve become. I might not remember what happened in that mental hospital, but I normally don’t say things I don’t mean. If I told you, then I was proud of you, but let me tell you this: right now, it’s hard to be proud if all I see is drinking, taking drugs and fighting with your family.” Earl paused and Lucifer shoved his hand in his pocket to keep from rubbing the back of his sweating neck.

“It’s not-“

“So, I am going to show you that there are people who care about you,” Earl went on, ignoring his input. “Your behaviour is out of line. – And you know that.”

“So you’re gonna do what? Be my stand-in parent?” Lucifer scoffed. “I can assure you, my Mother and Father manage to disappoint me plenty, I don’t need another one to participate.”

“Sadly, they’re not here though. I’d gladly let them handle your little week-long tantrum. I don’t make a habit of disciplining another man’s child.”

“Except I’m not a child.”

“Now tell me, Lucifer,” Earl said. “You’ve mentioned that there had been happy times with your family. Before your father got distracted with this project. – You speak fondly of your mother most of the time. – What would she have done?”

He looked away, suddenly immensely uncomfortable. He knew exactly what Mum would have done.

“This is ridiculous,” he settled to say. “Do you want me to tell you that she would have sent me to bed without dessert? Put me on the naughty step? Rapped my knuckles with a ruler?”

“And would it have helped?”

“I don’t know!” he growled, slapping his hand onto the bar top in frustration. Earl just raised his brows and folded his arms across his chest. The epitome of calmness and control. It was immensely infuriating!

“Be honest with yourself, Lucifer,” he said quietly. How one could convey such displeasure in a sentence so incredibly short, was incomprehensible to Lucifer. Yet Earl did and he hated to admit it, but it compelled him to be honest, if not with himself, then at least with the man who’d travelled so far just for him. “It would make me very proud if you admitted your mistakes and took the punishment you’re overdue. It would show me that you’re indeed the man I tagged you to be.”

“Probably,” he said grudgingly, nervous hands adjusting his cufflinks. He briefly wondered where he’d left his suit jacket, in a vain attempt to distract himself from this disaster of a conversation. He very vigorously fought the longing settled deep in his stomach to make Earl proud of him, though. To make matters worse, the nagging voice in his head was back with a vengeance, telling him to make amends and wishing for Earl to actually say that short sentence again that had burned itself into his memory.

“Okay, then let’s see if we can’t snap you out of his mood.” He raised his head, suddenly wary. He didn’t know much about Earl. Couldn’t fathom what he had on his mind. And he wholeheartedly refused to think about the dire threats he’d uttered earlier. There was no way in hell that was happening. “The multitude and seriousness of your transgressions suggest that a spanking is in order.”

“Wh-what?” Lucifer spluttered, taken aback. Apparently, Earl had indeed been serious. Very serious.

“You’re going across my knee for this lesson.”

“How on earth did you come up with that idea?” he asked, as he managed to form a coherent thought again after the initial shock.

“I’m from Texas, son. That’s what we do back home when children misbehave. – Are you familiar with the process?”

“Of course I am,” he replied, heat colouring his cheeks. “I’ve been around literally forever. Who’d you think invented this?”

“Then I’m sure you know what to do.” Earl apparently opted to ignore his statement and took a moment to glance around the room, before retreating to the desk and perching himself on the edge, one leg firmly on the floor, the other supported by the flat surface. Looking at Lucifer, he patted his thigh expectantly. Lucifer, for his part, could only gape at him. “Come on, now. Let’s get this over with.”

“You can’t be serious!” Lucifer exclaimed instead, stubbornly remaining where he was. Safely out of reach, just to be sure. “I’m not a child!”

“I never said you were.” Another expectant pat. “Over you go. – You know you deserve this. On some level, you even want this. – Now don’t make it harder on yourself.”

Huffing angrily, Lucifer angled his face away. He certainly didn’t want to let Earl see that he was right. Subconsciously he wanted this. Knew he deserved it. His Mother wouldn’t have hesitated to do the same. Only she’d probably have hauled him into position without giving him much of a choice. That would have been easier. Having to place himself into this undignified position himself was definitely worse. Much worse. He’d be a willing participant in this little debacle.

Chancing another glance at Earl, who still regarded him levelly, he huffed another irritated sigh, before quickly approaching him lest he lost his nerve. He stopped again, once he reached the desk, unsure about how to proceed. Thankfully (or not), the decision was taken out of his hands as Earl grabbed his arm and drew him forward, until he was forced to bend at the waist and put his hands on the surface.

But apparently that wasn’t humiliating enough for Earl, as he continued to push him down until his chest rested on the desk and he was horribly aware of the acute angle his backside was presented at. He could feel his cheeks turning five shades of red and squeezed his eyes shut.

Bloody hell, he really hated this position!

He spared a fleeting thought to the possibility that maybe the Detective was far enough away for this to be effective, but his hopes were irrefutably squashed as Earl’s hand descended in a terrifying wallop on his right buttock. And it hurt! He arched his back reflexively, and the muscles in his legs grew taut.

“I already regret agreeing to this,” Lucifer said through clenched teeth, as another smack fell.

“I’m sure you do,” Earl agreed and Lucifer resented the sympathetic tone in which it was delivered. At least it distracted him shortly from the fire that Earl tried to ignite on his butt. The smacks were evenly spaced but, dammit, they hurt. Why did it hurt so much after only a handful of smacks? This was not normal!

Earl’s hand must be ginormous! It certainly felt like he had covered his whole rear with just a couple of slaps. He chanced a look over his shoulder, trying to glimpse if maybe he had missed Earl grabbing some kind of implement. A hand spanking was not supposed to hurt like that! But no, Earl was indeed smacking him with just the palm of his hand and with an undignified whimper he turned back and buried his face in his arms.

Thankfully Earl didn’t lecture. At least not yet. Instead he apparently decided to let his unyielding palm do the talking. Embarrassingly, it didn’t take long at all for him to start twitching and shifting with each smack to try and get some much needed relief. But Earl just hooked his arm around his waist, anchoring him firmly, and continued his onslaught.

He tried rising up on his toes as a particularly sharp smack caught the underside of his butt and the back of his right thigh, but Earl didn’t relent. He merely tightened his hold and delivered an equally sharp smack to the other thigh. Lucifer groaned lowly, trying for all his might to muffle the sound. The whole ordeal was embarrassing enough as it were; he didn’t need to add to it by wailing like a child.

The next smacks all followed the same pattern; each and every one landing low on his bum or one thigh before its counterpart landed on the opposite one. And dammit, the pain was excruciating! With a sudden bout of anger, he tried to push himself up, only to have Earl hitch him tighter against his side and stomach and hit him harder still.

It hurt! He hated it! And he wanted it to stop! Now! Clenching his teeth against the sharp pain, he latched onto Earl’s ankle with his right hand, and squeezed as tightly as he dared without breaking the bone. He dug his nails into the skin, while trying to keep his grunts to a bare minimum. It proved a success, because Earl stopped his relentless smacking, and Lucifer heaved a sigh of relief.

“All right, up you get,” he said, releasing his hold and patting his back once. Lucifer immediately pushed himself off the desk and stumbled a few steps back. Feeling quite proud of his accomplishment, he couldn’t keep the smug look off his face. He willed his hands to remain at his sides, although they itched to rub at his stinging butt. It would not suit the superior air he was trying to pull off. He was still revelling in his success, when Earl’s next words made his blood run cold. “Drop your pants.”

He froze. Panic creeping up his spine.

“Wh-what?” he asked. Clearly he must have misheard.

“Drop your pants,” Earl repeated. And judging by the look on his face he wasn’t kidding.

“But why?” he stammered. “You did … enough. – It’s … quite sufficient.” He hated the way his voice wavered. It was unbecoming. And to make matters even worse, he could feel his cheeks growing hot. The blush traveling all the way to the tip of his ears.

“Oh, we’re not finished,” Earl said matter-of-factly. “Your little tantrum is not going to get you out of this.”

“Tantrum?” he repeated, disbelief clear in his voice, but Earl appeared infuriatingly unperturbed.

“Come on. Don’t make me tell you again, I might decide to make you fetch a paddle.” Lucifer swallowed back a snarl with some difficulty, but made no move to comply with Earl’s orders, despite the dire threat. “I’m sure you have one.” He did, of course, but those were for kinky play and sexy times, certainly not for … this. He fought the urge to fidget under the penetrating stare, clenching his hands into fists to still his twitching fingers, and forced his feet to remain firmly on the ground. Earl sighed.

“You have til the count of three to drop your pants and get back over my knee, or I’m getting a paddle.”


“One.” Bloody Hell! He was actually counting. Counting! As if he was some unruly child! It had literally been millennia since somebody had done that! He clearly remembered the feeling of dread that had pooled in his stomach and unsurprisingly it returned now with a vengeance.

“Two.” It had been his Mother doing the same once, when he had been a little boy, cranky (definitely her words, not his) and unwilling to go to sleep, because his older siblings were allowed to stay up way longer. It had been scary. Not that it wasn’t now, because it most definitely was. Very scary.

“Fine!” he spat, hands reaching for his belt buckle and fly and opening them with angry jerks. The indignity of it! He stilled once his trousers were unzipped, fingers gripping the waistband to hinder them from slipping off his slim hips. Anger suddenly replaced by apprehension, he looked up again, holding onto the tiny bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, Earl had been joking.

He wasn’t.

He simply patted his thigh again in a silent order to place himself back in that undignified position.

“I can go on counting,” Earl said and he bolted forward. He did not wish to be smacked with a paddle. Earl’s hand would hurt plenty enough without the protection of his trousers.

It had hurt plenty enough with the protection of his trousers.

Despite the serious repercussions, he hovered right in front of him, one hand still firmly grasping his belt, and eyes darting to Earl’s face uncertainly.

But apparently he was not going to put him out of his misery anytime soon. He merely raised his eyebrows and waited.

Lucifer fidgeted.

“Lucifer.” His name, delivered in a thoroughly disapproving tone, prompted him to lean forward, still clutching his trousers.

“Is this really necessary?” he hedged hopefully. “You made your point. I won’t interfere again.”

“I know you won’t.” A steady hand on his shoulder pushed him down, and his wrist was clasped firmly and drawn away to rest by his head again. He widened his stance slightly to prevent his trousers from falling.

In hindsight he shouldn’t have bothered, because Earl slipped them off his hips effortlessly.

A groan ripped from his throat and he buried his face in his arms again, horribly aware of the awkwardness of the whole situation. The dress shirt was bunched up his back before Earl circled his arm around his waist again, holding tight. His breath hitched against his will and he braced himself for the pain. That immediately commenced in form of a powerful whack. Closely followed by a second and a third.

Bloody hell! This surely had to be filed under cruel and unusual punishment!

“Okay! I’m sorry!” he yelled quickly, feeling just a twinge of embarrassment for having caved so fast. “I’m sorry for … interfering!”

“I’m sure you are,” Earl agreed, but his onslaught didn’t stop. “Now think about what has landed you here and how you’re going to make better choices in dealing with your problems in the future.” Lucifer hissed loudly and rocked his hips in a vain attempt to alleviate some of the sting.

“I-aaah!” he yelped. “I can’t concentrate – ow – with you hitting me like that.” He strained the muscles in his legs, bouncing up on the balls of his feet. It shouldn’t hurt this much! “Can’t you –“ He sucked in some air through his teeth. “stop for a moment?”

“You’ll manage,” Earl replied, cold-hearted. “Tell me what’s eating you and why lashing out, alcohol, and drugs are not a sensible way of dealing with it.”

He took a stuttering breath, flinching in reply to another sharp smack and tried to sort his jumbled thoughts. It was no easy feat. For a start, he really didn’t want to think about everything that had gone wrong in his life in the last few weeks. Remembering Mum and that she was now safely in her own universe, far away, so far that he’d never see her again, filled him with an inexplicable grief. She had been incredibly irritating, but she was his Mother and he missed her deeply.

Waking up in the middle of the desert, scorched and alone, with nothing but his trousers and a pair of wings he didn’t want, made him angry. He resented them, loathed what they stood for and to make matters worse, the bloody things wouldn’t stay gone.

He told Earl as much, all between embarrassing exclamations of pain and the odd plea for leniency. Earl wasn’t feeling particularly lenient. His unyielding palm kept smacking down on his thinly clad backside, occasionally catching his bare thigh. Those were especially vicious and might have been accompanied with several shrieks, but nobody needed to know about that. Lucifer was just going to go ahead and pretend it didn’t happen.

Even once he’d finished his tale, Earl didn’t stop. His hand kept descending with inhuman precision, despite Lucifer’s wriggling and twitching and all in all desperate attempts to twist his poor bum out of firing range.

His disclosure was followed by calm lecturing on Earl’s part. Something about the significance of not drowning one’s sorrows in alcohol and drugs and allowing people to help him, instead of pushing (or punching, in Amenadiel’s case) them away.

He might have promised upstanding citizenry and to never hit his brother ever again, but to be perfectly honest, it was all a blur by that point. Quite literally, because he was weeping. His vision obstructed by tears and whatnot. It was quite possibly the most embarrassing moment in his entire existence.

An eternity later, Earl finally stopped and he heaved a stuttering sigh of relief. A big and comforting hand rubbed his back and Lucifer opted to keep his face hidden for the time being. At least until he got his breathing back under control and his eyes ceased to leak treacherous tears.

When he finally managed to stop his body from pouring out various disgusting fluids, he pushed himself up awkwardly and totally lacking his usual grace, before immediately bending down and pulling his slacks back up.

He carefully eased them over his backside, feeling a bit sorry for himself about the awful sting. He took an inordinate amount of time buttoning up before chancing a glance at Earl.

“Feeling better?”

“No,” Lucifer replied. “My butt hurts and I cried all over you.” His fingers itched to rub at the lingering sting, but he stubbornly refused to succumb to the urge. His quota of humiliation had well and truly been filled for today. He shifted from foot to foot instead, eyes darting around the room to avoid looking at Earl. “But yes, about all that other horribly embarrassing stuff, I do feel better.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” And to his surprise Earl engulfed him in a hug. For a moment he froze, but Earl didn’t let go, instead gently rubbing comforting circles on his back and neck, and Lucifer gradually relaxed, and lifted his hands to fist in the other man’s shirt. “I’m proud of you for going through with this.” Lucifer blinked back another wave of tears at the kind words, immensely glad that his face was buried in Earl’s neck which gave him a moment to get his facial features back under control. A big hand squeezed his neck warmly, thumb brushing through the soft hair there.

“There. Now that that’s behind us,” Earl started, pulling back and Lucifer couldn’t help but glare at the pun. “You should wash your face. I’m sure your brother is waiting for an apology and your Detective wants to get back to work.”

“You want me to go back downstairs?” Lucifer asked incredulously, gesturing wildly at his tear-streaked face. “Now?”

“Yes. I want you to go and apologise for your behaviour,” Earl replied, voice taking on a decidedly sterner tone again. “After you’ve had a quick wash.”

“But they’ll know!”

“Believe me, son, they’ll guess either way. – Now go on.” He shooed him towards the bedroom with a flick of his hand. “You might want to change your shirt too. There’s snot all over it.” Lucifer threw him a dark look over his shoulder, but retreated to the bathroom, already discarding the snot-stained shirt. He briefly entertained the thought of hurling it at Earl in retaliation, but after some deliberation, refrained. With a heavy sigh, he went about scrubbing his face thoroughly, because there really wasn’t anything else he could do.

He’d apologise to the Detective for making her wait. He did feel bad about that. Apologising to Amenadiel would be harder. Not because he didn’t feel bad about hitting him, he just didn’t want to look at Amenadiel’s stupid, condescending face. But he’d grit his teeth and bear it. What other option did he have?

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