Lucifer walked into the bar where Tommy spent most of his time, and frowned at the Christmas lights and tinsel garland that was all over the place. It seems he couldn’t escape from the ridiculous holiday even in the seediest parts of town. The loud music, strippers, and rowdy drunk men seemed even more seedy than usual with the Christmas decorations around. Lucifer scanned the crowed for a middle-aged man with brown hair and a ridiculous looking moustache that was straight out of a seventies porn flick. He felt his cell phone vibrate just as he laid eyes on the man. He saw Chloe’s number on the caller ID, and answered with a smile as he walked towards Tommy.
“Hello?” he said loudly, trying to hear over the noise.
“Lucifer?” Chloe’s voice asked. She sounded quite faint and diluted by a huge amount of background noise.
Lucifer pulled the phone about an inch away from his ear and said, “Detective? Where are you? It sounds like someone is trying to skin a cat behind you.”
“I’m at the grade school, but the more important question is where are you?”
“I’m at Dames and Games
bar. I’m just about to have a talk with Tommy Barrett. I recognized his name and number from Rodney’s phone. Rodney owed Tommy quite a lot of money according to his most recent text.”
“Absolutely not, Lucifer,” Chloe said sternly. “We’ve been over this more than once. You can’t question murder suspects without me! You’re a civilian
. I am responsible for keeping you safe, and I can’t do that when you run off on your own like this.”
“He’s not a murder suspect,” Lucifer scoffed. “Tommy doesn’t kill people. But he may know who would want Rodney dead. I’ll let you know what I find out.” He hung up on her, and sat down next to Tommy.
“Lucifer?” Tommy said with a grin. “What are you doing here?” He turned to one of the three girls at his table and said, “Go get my friend a drink, sugar.”
Lucifer smiled as the girl left. “I wanted to ask you a few questions about a man named Rodney Marx.”
“The old guy who looks like Santa?” Tommy asked.
“That’s the one. Do you know anyone who would want him dead?”
“Rodney? Nah, he’s a great guy. He’s brought me a lot of business over the years.”
“We found him murdered this morning at the mall.”
“Murdered?” Tommy mumbled with a genuine frown. “That’s a shame. He still owes me money.”
“Did he borrow money from anyone other than you?” Lucifer asked.
“Not that I know of.”
“Was he cheating on his wife?”
Tommy chuckled. “No way in hell. He was devoted to her.”
Lucifer sighed with disappointment as the woman came back with a shot of tequila and set it in front of him. He knocked it back, and purposely ignored his buzzing phone. He didn’t want to tell the detective he’d run into a dead end.
“Actually…” Tommy said.
“Yes?” Lucifer asked, leaning forward.
“You might want to talk to his stepson.”
“What makes you say that?” Lucifer asked. He knew his partner had already questioned the stepson over the phone, but she hadn’t considered him a suspect at the time.
“Rodney was in here a few months ago, right after his wife died, and the kid called him. He was yelling obscenities and threats so loudly that I could hear them.”
“Intriguing. Do you know why?”
“The kid, I think his name is John or Joe, he blamed Rodney for his mom’s death.”
“I thought she died of cancer.”
Tommy nodded. “Lung cancer, but she never smoked. Rodney smoked a pack a day.”
“Ah,” Lucifer said with a grin. “That, my friend, sounds like a motive for murder.” He got up to leave, but Tommy stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“Be careful around that kid. He’s a real piece of work. Ex-military, never married, and now he does some kind of survival training mixed with hunting for rich people. He’s one of those conspiracy nut jobs who thinks everyone is out to kill him.”
“Duly noted.” Lucifer made a small bow and said, “Ladies,” as he left. Once he got outside, he finally pulled his phone out of his pocket. He had ten missed calls from Chloe, and it was ringing again.
“Detective, I have a lead.”
“I don’t want to hear it, Lucifer,” Chloe’s angry voice said. “You deliberately ignored my calls, you clearly went to talk to Tommy alone even after I told you not to, and I’ve had it. You’re off this case. Go home.”
“Off the case?” He said, feeling unjustly punished when all he was trying to do was help.
“That’s right. If you refuse to listen to me, then you don’t get to work the case.”
“But that’s not fair. I rarely listen to you, and you usually don’t kick me off the case for it.”
“Good point,” She snapped. “I’ll have to be more consistent with you in the future. From now on this is what you can expect when you don’t listen to me. Go home, and I’ll call you when we catch another case.”
“I don’t…” Lucifer looked at his phone, and realized she’d hung up. Pursing his lips, he called Ella.
“Ella, could you please give me the address of Rodney’s stepson?”
He could hear the suspicion in her voice, and said, “I have a theory. I want to type his address into google, to see how far away his house is from the mall.”
“Oh, okay, hold on a sec.”
Once he had the man’s name and address, he put it in his car’s GPS system. Surprisingly, the house was only a few minutes away from his current location. He stared at the address, and thought about Chloe. She’d told him to go home, but when had he ever let that stop him? Besides, this guy was dangerous. Chloe would be better off if Lucifer apprehended him for her, and Lucifer himself would be safer if he confronted the man when Chloe wasn’t around. He nodded to himself, and set off for Joe’s house.
The house was the last one on a dead end street, and there was a long gravel driveway leading to the small one story home. Both the house and the driveway looked unkempt with weeds everywhere, three run down vehicles on the lawn, and cardboard covering the broken front window. There were a couple of large signs at the entrance to the driveway. One for ‘No Trespassing’, and another that warned ‘Beware of Dog’. As Lucifer got further down the driveway, there were a couple more signs of the same ilk. He rolled his eyes, and kept going. Just as he was about to park in front of the house, both of his front tires suddenly popped.
He slammed on the breaks, and muttered, “What the bloody hell?” He got out to inspect his tires, and found a row of metal spikes that had been carefully concealed with grass and weeds that were growing up all along the driveway. He slammed his door shut, and glared at the house. “Joseph Dailey!” he yelled. “I’m a consultant with the police, and I have a few questions about your stepfather’s recent demise!”
A young man with a full beard, torn jeans and a flannel shirt came out onto the porch holding a shotgun aimed at Lucifer’s chest. “You’d better turn around and start walking back off my property before I decide to practice my constitutional right to protect my home from intruders.”
“You’re going to find most of your constitutional rights stripped away once you’re convicted for murdering your stepfather.” Lucifer took a step towards the house, and Joe fired the shotgun.
Lucifer glared down at the new hole in his suit jacket right over his heart. He stuck a finger in the hole, wiggled it, and then glared at Joe. “This was one of my favorite suits.”
Joe stared agape at Lucifer, and the gun in his grip lowered a few inches. “That’s not possible,” he muttered.
“What were you doing this morning between nine and ten, Joseph?” Lucifer asked as he stepped forward again.
Joe took aim, and fired at Lucifer’s forehead.
Scowling, Lucifer put a hand over the middle of his forehead where the bullet had ricocheted off. “That better not have mussed my hair,” he muttered as he continued walking.
In shock, Joe lowered the gun so it was hanging by his side. “What are you?”
Lucifer got in Joe’s personal space, and said with his best evil smile, “I’m the devil, and I’m here to get justice for your stepfather, Rodney.”
Stumbling back a few steps, Joe shook his head, and let the gun slip from his grasp. “That’s not possible.”
“Tell me, Joseph, what is your greatest desire?”
“I… I want my mother back,” he whispered.
Frowning, Lucifer thought about his own mother. She was gone now, in her own universe, and he’d never see her again. He’d wanted her gone. The whole time she’d been around, he’d been extremely irritated with her presence, but for the past few weeks when everyone around him was talking about their families and spending time with them, he’d found himself actually longing to see her one more time.
“I understand the sentiment,” Lucifer said. “But how does killing your stepfather accomplish that goal?”
Joe shook his head, and a couple of tears ran down his face. “It doesn’t. I thought I’d feel better. Get some kind of vengeance for all her suffering this past year. But I just feel worse now that he’s gone, too.”
Lucifer picked up the discarded gun, got out his cell phone, and said, “I’m going to call the police, and you’re going to turn yourself in.”
Joe nodded, sat down in the grass with his back against the house, and put his head in his hands.
Looking through his contact list, Lucifer quickly decided against calling Chloe, and dialed Ella instead. After explaining the situation, he hung up, and stood next to Joe to wait for the police.
Fifteen minutes later, a squad car pulled up, and Lucifer handed over the gun while explaining the situation. Soon Joe was in handcuffs, and being read his rights.
Lucifer frowned at his damaged car, and used his phone to look up local tow trucks. He sat on the hood of his car, as he called one and made arrangements for the car to be picked up and towed to the auto shop he always used. Once he hung up, he was startled by the sound of a throat clearing directly behind him.
His head whipped around, and he found Chloe’s face inches from his. Normally he would be looking down on her, but with him sitting on the hood they were eye to eye. He quickly took in her crossed arms, furrowed brow, and pursed lips. The word ‘livid’ crossed his mind as he quickly stood and backed up a couple of paces.
“Detective,” he said with false cheer, “You’ll be happy to know I solved the case for us.”
Her eyebrows shot up for a moment, before crashing down again. She reached him in three large steps, grabbed him by the elbow, and started towing him towards her car parked halfway down the driveway. “Happy?” she said as she pulled him along. “Does it look like I’m happy, Lucifer?”
He winced at the level of ire he heard in her tone, and thought about pulling away instead of letting her take him to her car, but he knew that would only serve to irritate her further. “I know you told me I was off the case, but…”
“No!” She whirled around to face him. “I don’t want to hear it. I’m too angry right now.” She opened the passenger door of her car, let go of his elbow, and pointed to the seat. “Get in.”
He sighed, but dutifully got in, knowing there was no point in pleading his case right now. She slammed the door shut once he was sitting, and then stormed back towards the other cops to give orders.
“You must have been really naughty.”
Startled, Lucifer spun around to find Trixie in the backseat staring at him with wide concerned eyes. He scowled at her appearance. She was wearing a ridiculous looking elf outfit complete with green tights, red felt shoes with bells on the tips, a green hat with fake pointy ears, and a red dress. To complete the look, she was holding a little piece of felt with two jingle bells in one hand and a two foot long plastic candy cane in the other.
“What did you do?” Trixie asked.
Deflecting he said, “What in the world are you wearing?”
“My elf outfit for school.” She jingled the bells with a grin. “We all get to keep our props. When we get home I can sing my song for you.” She held up the candy cane and said, “I learned how to twirl this like a baton while I sing.”
Groaning, Lucifer muttered, “I think I’ll pass.”
Trixie looked out at her mother in the distance and said, “That’s okay, Mommy probably wouldn’t let you see it anyway. She looks really mad. Like a serious time out kind of mad. What did you do?”
“I solved our case,” Lucifer said with a scowl.
Trixie shook her head. “Why would she be mad about that?”
He huffed and admitted, “Because I wasn’t supposed to be working on the case at all.”
He turned back to face the little girl. “I went to question someone by myself, and your mother found out about it and took me off the case.”
Trixie looked out the window and then back to Lucifer. “And then you kept working on the case, even after she told you not to?”
“And I solved
the case,” he said.
Trixie shook her head and leaned back against her seat. “Daddy used to make her this kind of mad, and then they got a divorce. If I were you, I’d apologize a lot.”
Those words hit Lucifer harder than any of the things Chloe had said to him so far. He didn’t want to have feelings for her, but he did, and the thought of her not wanting to continue their partnership was more than a little upsetting.
He saw Chloe coming back to the car and cleared his throat so he could apologize. Once she climbed in, she snapped, “Put your seatbelt on.”
He did, and then started, “I know my behavior was…”
“No.” She pointed a finger at his face, and said, “We are not discussing this yet. I’m taking you to my house, and we’ll talk after Dan picks up Trixie.”
He sat back and pouted while she started the car and pulled out of the driveway.
The car ride was silent for about three minutes before Trixie said, “Mommy?”
“What is it, monkey?”
“Could I sing my song for Lucifer?”
He started to shake his head, so Chloe smiled and said, “Of course you can. I’m sure Lucifer would love to hear it.”
Over the next twenty minutes Lucifer thanked his father several times for giving the detective’s offspring a decent singing voice, even if the child was spouting insufferable Christmas classics the whole way. He had trouble believing Chloe would rather listen to the horrid songs interspersed with the jingling of bells rather than his apology, but as the songs continued he could see her body relaxing little by little. Then when Trixie tried to twirl the plastic candy cane and accidentally hit Lucifer in the shoulder with the curved end, the detective actually laughed. Lucifer took that as a good sign, and the slightly ill feeling he’d had in the pit of his stomach when Trixie had mentioned divorce finally dissipated.
Once the three of them were walking into Chloe’s house, Lucifer said, “How about a drink? I know I could use one.”
Chloe rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “I don’t think you deserve a drink after the…” her eyes narrowed in on his suit jacket, and she walked up to him with a glare. She stuck her finger through the bullet hole, and looked up at him with fear in her eyes. “Did he shoot at you?” She felt his chest and found a hole in his shirt also. “Are you hurt?”
He put his hands on her wrists to still their movement. “It’s fine. No harm done.” He looked down at the hole and said, “Except to my suit.”
She yanked her wrists out of his hands, and he noted that the livid expression was back on her face. With barely contained rage she pointed to the couch. “You need to go sit down and think about the danger you put yourself in.”
He opened his mouth to disagree that he’d been in any danger at all, but then he felt the little urchin’s hand in his. He frowned down at her. She tugged at his hand and gestured for him to lean towards her. “I need to tell you something,” she said, sounding urgent.
“Trixie,” Chloe said, clearly trying to remain calm for her daughter, “you need to go get changed. Your dad will be here any minute.”
Lucifer felt the little girl pulling at his hand with all her might, so he leaned down for her. She whispered in his ear, “If Mommy is giving you a time out, that mean’s she’ll forgive you, but you have to sit quietly and not fuss until it’s over.”
He looked at Chloe, and then back at Trixie who gestured towards the couch.
“Fine.” With as much dignity as he could muster, he went over to the couch and sat. Without a drink in his hand, a woman at his side, or a piano under his fingers, he found himself awkwardly wondering what to do with his hands.
Apparently he’d made the right choice, because when he looked back up at Chloe, she appeared less agitated than she had been.
“Come on, Trixie, let’s get you changed.” Chloe headed towards Trixie’s bedroom.
Instead of following her, Trixie rushed to the couch, and said, “I just want to put some of my stuff here, so I don’t forget to take it to Daddy’s house.” She set down the bells and the candy cane next to Lucifer, and then whispered, “Remember to apologize lots once the time out is over.” She took off her hat with the pointy ears, and set it on top of her other props before rushing off to her room.
Resisting the urge to get up and make himself a drink, Lucifer looked around his partner’s house. A Christmas tree was set up in the corner of the room, and there were at least ten gifts under it already. A stocking with Trixie’s name hung on the wall beside the tree, and the side table by the couch had a miniature Christmas village with six houses and little figurines of people out walking in the snow. All of it made Lucifer frown, and gave him something to think about other than ‘how he’d put himself in danger’, because he hadn’t, even if Chloe thought he had.
He picked up one of the figurines to get a better look, and shook his head. He still didn’t quite understand how Christmas had become the holiday it was in the modern world. If he were being logical, he knew he should appreciate the commercialism and greed that now accompanied the day, but he was still bitter about the creation of the holiday.
After setting the figurine down, he tried to sit still and be patient, but that was not his forte. He glanced towards Trixie’s room, hoping to see someone emerging, but no such luck.
“Don’t you think it’s been long enough?” Lucifer called out.
“Not even close!” Chloe’s voice answered.
Sighing, he picked up Trixie’s hat, and tried to set it on his own head. It was too small, so he put it back on the couch, and picked up the plastic candy cane. Remembering what the little girl had said, he expertly twirled it around like a baton for a few moments.
Trixie came out of her room in jeans and a tee shirt, and saw what he was doing. “Wow, you’re really good at that! Can you show me how?”
He stopped twirling it, and decided teaching the child something was better than sitting still and doing nothing. “Certainly. It’s all in the wrist.” He held it out for her, and showed her the technique he was using. A few minutes later, she was slowly using the same technique.
“You’ve got it,” he said. “If you continue to practice, you’ll get faster at it.”
She grinned at him and continued to practice. Getting bored quickly, Lucifer looked towards her room again, and said, “What is taking your mother so long?”
“She’s talking to Daddy on the phone about Christmas. That’s why I had to come out here.” Trixie held the candy cane out to him and said, “You can have it back for a while. I know time out is really boring.”
He took it, but instead of twirling it, he just set it in his lap and said, “I seriously doubt your mother puts you in time out for this long. It’s been at least ten minutes.”
Trixie got up on the couch and sat next to him. “Well I’m seven, so it’s seven minutes for me. How old are you, like fifty?”
“Fifty!” He said, clearly offended. “This body most certainly doesn’t look fifty! In human terms I’m thirty-eight; over a decade younger than fifty!”
“Then you get thirty-eight minutes.”
Scowling, Lucifer said, “Thirty-eight minutes? That’s entirely unfair. I wasn’t even in any danger.” He looked towards Trixie’s room and called out, “Detective!”
“I’m on the phone,” she called back without coming out.
He huffed in frustration, and thought about going to pour himself a drink, even if it would further irritate his partner.
“Do you think Santa really knows if we’ve been naughty or nice?” Trixie asked.
“What?” Lucifer glanced at the child, trying to focus on something other than how to placate his partner.
With a guilty glance over at her bedroom door, Trixie said, “Maybe Santa called Daddy and told him I wasn’t very good today. Maybe that’s what they’re talking about right now.”
Lucifer rolled his eyes. “There’s a huge difference between not being very good and being truly bad. What exactly did you do?”
Looking up at him with a sorrowful expression, she confessed softly, “Allison Finny told me that her part in the performance today was more important that my part, because she was the only reindeer and there were a bunch of us elves, so I… I told her to shut up and that we’re not friends anymore.”
“And?” he prompted.
“And that’s not nice.”
Lucifer groaned. “If there was a Santa, which there isn’t, he most assuredly would not be calling your parents to tell them you had a disagreement with one of your little classmates.”
Trixie simply stared at him with her mouth open, and a shocked expression.
Scowling, he elaborated, “Don’t you see? It’s all a ruse to keep children in line. There is no Santa. You could be horribly naughty all year long, and your parents would still buy you Christmas presents. Your parents are the truly naughty ones for perpetuating this lie that society has created.”
He looked at her expectantly, hoping for some gratitude for telling her the truth, and also hoping that if Chloe was busy explaining herself to Trixie, that she wouldn’t have much energy left for yelling at him.
Trixie’s chin started to wobble, and her eyes became overly shiny as they filled with tears. Then her face morphed into a grimace as the tears spilled over.
Alarmed, Lucifer scooted back a few inches, and called out in a panic, “Detective!”
“I’m on the…”
“Chloe!” he yelled as the child started to weep loudly.
That brought her running. When she saw Trixie in tears she rushed over, knelt down in front of her, and put a hand on the child’s heaving back.
“Trixie, what’s wrong baby?”
Unable to speak, Trixie wrapped her arms around Chloe’s neck, and clung to her as she wept.
“What happened?” Chloe asked Lucifer as she pulled Trixie into a hug and stood up with the child in her arms.
“I’m sorry,” he said with sincerity. He felt slightly ill as it dawned on him that he was the one who had caused those heartbroken tears. Tears were fine if the person crying was deserving of punishment, but the tears of an innocent always made him uncomfortable.
Chloe glared at him. “What happened?” she asked more forcefully.
“We were discussing Santa, and I… I told her the truth.”
He expected that livid expression to appear on her face again, but instead, she simply looked at him with that same hurt expression she’d had when he’d told her about marrying Candy.
“How could you?” she said as she turned away from him, and took Trixie to her room.
His chest hurt so badly, that he had to take shallow breaths. He looked at the door and wondered if he should leave. Talking to Linda sounded like an excellent idea right about now, but he’d already hurt Chloe by abandoning her once; he didn’t want to do it again. He looked towards her kitchen, and desperately wanted to drink the entire bottle of whiskey that he knew was in the cupboard, but he knew that would upset Chloe even more. So for the next fifteen minutes he sat still and berated himself internally.
He was still sitting there, holding the candy cane, and staring at the coffee table in front of him when the front door opened. After letting himself in, Dan glared hatefully at Lucifer and hissed, “You’re lucky Trixie’s in the next room.” Dan walked past him, and shut Trixie’s bedroom door behind him.
A few sort moments later, Dan came out carrying Trixie in one arm, and her overnight bag in the other. He walked towards the front door without looking at Lucifer. Trixie had her face buried in Dan’s chest, and her arms wrapped around his shoulders.
Unable to let her leave without at least trying to make amends, Lucifer abruptly stood and said, “Trixie?”
Dan stopped moving, but didn’t turn around. Trixie pulled her head up to make eye contact with Lucifer. Seeing her damp face and crestfallen expression made him wince. “I’m sorry I was so blunt with you. It won’t happen again. I don’t have much experience with children, so I’m unaccustomed to censoring myself around them.”
“Okay,” she said softly.
He picked up her elf hat and the jingle bells, and held them out towards her along with the candy cane. “Didn’t you want to take these with you?”
She ducked her head down onto Dan’s chest again, and mumbled, “I don’t feel like it anymore.”
Lucifer let his arms drop to his sides as he watched Dan walk out and shut the door behind him. Soon he heard the sounds of a car starting, and driving away. Feeling awful, he just stood there looking at the door for several moments.
He felt a presence behind him, and knew his partner was there without turning around. He set Trixie’s props on the coffee table, and tried to will himself to turn and face her, but he was too ashamed. Keeping his eyes on the carpet he said quietly, “I’m truly sorry. It was never my intention to hurt her, or make her cry.”
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Chloe move, and then felt her hand on his upper arm in a surprisingly strong grip. He glanced her way, but she wasn’t looking at him. She grabbed the plastic candy cane off the coffee table, raised it up, and whacked it against his backside.
“Detective!” he exclaimed in utter shock.
The thin length of solid plastic made a whooshing sound as it moved though the air and struck him again.
“Ow!” He instinctively put a hand back to cover as much of his ass as he could, but instead of a reprieve the cane snapped down onto the backs of his thighs instead.
“Ah!” he shrieked, and tried to step forward, away from the pain.
Using her police training on how to subdue larger suspects, Chloe stuck a foot between his legs and hooked her toes under the edge of the couch to trap his leg between her and the couch. The cane landed against his thighs again.
“Ow! That really hurts!” He said with some anger. He turned his hand palm out, and moved it lower to cover his thigh, looking back in hopes of catching the cane mid swing.
“Good!” she said, and smacked the cane against his ass again.
“Because I’ve had it with your lack of impulse control!”
The cane whooshed towards his ass again, but Lucifer moved his hand up mid swing to catch it. The plastic snapped onto his palm instead of his ass, and even though he’d intended to catch it, his body reacted to the pain before his head could catch up. He yelped and snatched his hand away from the source of the pain. He automatically shook his hand out, and opened and closed it a couple of times.
She let go of his arm, and grabbed his injured hand to inspect it. Shaking her head, she showed him the red line that was forming on his palm and said, “Impulse control like having the self discipline not to reach back when someone is spanking you.”
“That wasn’t a spanking, it was a caning!” he protested, as he stared at the red line. “There’s a difference.” He had to admit it was slightly fascinating to see his skin changing color, because without Chloe around the cane would break before he felt anything other than a slight tickle.
“Was?” She shook her head. “It’s not over.” She took a step back and pointed to the couch cushions with the plastic candy cane and said, “Put your hands on the couch, and leave them there until I’m done.”
“What?” He shook his head and took a step away from her. “I most certainly will not.”
Glowering, she put her hand up and ticked off fingers as she spoke. “You followed a lead without me after I explicitly told you not to. You went to confront a suspect without me after I took you off the case. I wasn’t there to protect you, and you ended up getting shot at. I told you to sit down and think about what you’d done, but clearly you weren’t doing that because instead you had a conversation with my daughter. Then to top it all off you told my child that Santa isn’t real which made her cry.” She pointed to the couch again and said, “So you are going to put your hands on the couch, and you’re going to stay still while I give you six more.”
His eyes darted back and forth between his partner and the couch, while his uninjured hand carefully felt his ass. He certainly didn’t want to do as she’d asked, but he did feel guilty about Trixie. And having pain on his rear end only served to remind him of his parents and how they’d dealt with bad behavior in the far distant past before humanity came between them all. His impulsiveness had been the subject of more than one punishment back then.
Chloe put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. “You’re in desperate need of self-discipline, and talking to you about it hasn’t done any good, so it’s time to use another tactic. Every time you’ve gotten yourself into a dangerous situation since we’ve been working together, it’s been because you’ve followed your impulses instead of following my orders. You’re the one who’s always talking about punishment, so you tell me if you don’t think you deserve it.”
He opened his mouth to tell her he didn’t, but the words wouldn’t come out. When she pulled on his shoulder to get him to face the couch, he didn’t fight her. He closed his eyes and hung his head before leaning down to put his hands on the cushions.
She patted his back, and then left her hand there as she raised the cane.
“Ooow!” he complained. The cane landed again and again leaving shock waves of pain and lines of burning fire on his backside, but he couldn’t find it in himself to actually put up a struggle or move away from the punishment, because he believed he deserved it.
“I’m sorry!” he yelled in between exclamations of pain. “Please!”
The swishing sound of the cane going through the air stopped. He knew it had only been a total of twelve blows all together with only nine of them actually landing on his ass, but his entire backside throbbed with each breath he took. “I’m sorry,” he said again, and felt his eyes stinging with tears. Confused as to why he would start crying now that she was done hitting him, he stood and turned away so she couldn’t see the tears.
He heard the cane clatter as Chloe set it on the coffee table, and then felt her hand on his back gently rubbing in circles. That only made more tears flow, and he couldn’t continue to regulate his breathing to hide them. His shoulders shook, and his breath hitched as the tears grew stronger.
She patted his shoulder and said, “Come on, let’s go talk in my room.”
He wiped at his face with both of his hands and turned around, but kept his eyes downcast, unable to meet her eyes at this point.
She handed him a box of tissues, and after he’d blown his nose a couple of times, she held out her hand.
Braving a glance in her direction, he saw her give him a small encouraging smile.
He took her hand and let her lead him into the room, unable to even make a joke about her bedroom at this point. She let go of his hand, climbed on the bed, sat against the headboard, and patted the spot beside her.
With a frown, Lucifer put both hands back to test the skin on his ass, and hissed in pain. Several little raised welts were hiding under his slacks, and he knew sitting would be excruciating for the next few hours. He’d seen Maze wield a cane often enough to know that the caning he’d just endured was tame compared to the damage Chloe could have inflicted, but it still hurt
. “I’ll stand, thank you.”
“I brought you in here so you could lie down while we talked.”
Lying in her bed was something he’d fantasized about more than once, but he’d never imagined it under these particular circumstances. However he wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity, so he climbed up and gently situated himself on his stomach, with his head turned towards her.
She scooted down to lie next to him, put her hand over his, and used her other hand to point out the hole in his suit. “Every time I find out that you’ve put yourself in mortal danger like this, it feels like someone has punched me in the stomach. I mean that literally. It’s physically painful, not to mention terrifying when I see you throwing yourself in the line of fire. It needs to stop, Lucifer.”
He’d experienced the same feelings when he’d seen her hurt. He turned his hand over so that they were holding hands, and laced his fingers with hers. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to make you feel that way. I’ll endeavor to curb my impulsive nature when we’re on the job.”
“Sometimes your impulses are right on the money, and I certainly don’t want to change you too much, but when your impulse is to do the exact opposite of what I’ve told you to do, you need to stop and think it through.”
“I did think it through,” he said with a frown, “and I decided it was safer for both of us if I went to talk to Joseph without you. He could have shot you.”
She sighed, and squeezed his hand. “I know you want to protect me, and in a way it’s even sweet, but you don’t carry a gun, and you don’t have any police training. It’s much safer for me to confront an armed suspect than it is for you.”
He didn’t agree, but unless he was willing to confess everything, including the way his father had manipulated her into existence for the express purpose of being Lucifer’s Achilles heel, he couldn’t defend his position.
“And if logic doesn’t help you curb your more dangerous impulses, maybe the fear of consequences will.” She scooted a little closer and put her free hand on the side of his face. “If you don’t listen to me in the future, I won’t take you off a case, I’ll spank you.”
Pouting he said, “You know, back when I told you that you could spank me, I didn’t mean for it to be in punishment, and I certainly didn’t agree to be caned.”
She smirked. “I know exactly what you meant, but your behavior doesn’t warrant that kind of spanking.”
He almost smirked and opened his mouth to ask if she’d give him that kind of spanking if he was especially good, but stopped himself. He needed to keep his distance for her sake, or his entire marriage to Candy would be for nothing. It would be so easy to press himself against her, put a hand on her hip, and offer a tutorial on pleasurable spanking before kissing her. Instead he closed his eyes, kept his hands where they were and said, “Very well, I’ll take your warning under advisement.”
“Good.” She took her hand off his face, but left her other hand in his. After a few minutes of silence, she tentatively said, “It seems like you’ve been having a hard time this month. A lot of people have problems with Christmas. Do you want to talk about it? Opening up might help you cope a little better.”
He opened his eyes, saw her earnest expression, and couldn’t deny her, even if he knew she wouldn’t believe half of what he told her.
He focused his eyes on their hands instead of her face while he spoke. “For most people in the modern world Christmas, at its core, is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Which by the way isn’t anywhere close to his actual birth date, but that’s neither here nor there, the point is that Jesus was a self-righteous little twat who doesn’t deserve the celebration. Not to mention the little martyr would hate the way you all celebrate the entire holiday. If you wanted to actually celebrate Jesus, you should get rid of all your possessions, live on the streets with your fellow man, and spend all of your time helping others while spreading Father’s word. You should absolutely not be indulging yourselves in greed, gluttony, and pride, which is what Christmas has become.”
Silence stretched between them for several seconds before he got up the courage to look her in the eye.
“You sound jealous,” she said carefully.
He looked away and shrugged. “Wouldn’t most people be jealous of a much younger half brother who everyone dotes on? Especially our father. I tried to befriend him when he was a teen. Tried to take him out and show him a good time with women and wine, but Jesus was a martyr even then. He blew me off and spent the whole night talking to a woman about the way Dad would want her to live her life. He ended up with a circle of people around him hanging on his every word while I was told to shush. He was hopeless, even then. Do you know what his greatest desire was? For humanity to live in peace and serve our father. How can any of the rest of us compete with that?”
When he made eye contact again, he saw nothing but sympathy. She leaned in, and pulled him into a hug. “I think you’ve got it all wrong,” she said gently. “Aren’t you, in your own way, a proponent of humanity living in peace and serving God?”
“Absolutely not,” he protested weakly. He found it hard to concentrate with her body pressed against him, and it took most of his willpower not to hug her back.
“The job we do every day helps bring peace to our society by locking up killers,” she said.
“Yes, well… that’s an unintentional side affect of punishing the wicked.”
“And unlike most of us, your faith in God and the afterlife is rock solid, even if you don’t particularly appreciate either one.”
“That’s not faith, that’s factual information that I’m privy to.”
“Besides, for a lot of people, including me, Christmas is about bringing kindness and joy to those around us, and in your own way, you do that all the time. You may not see it in yourself, and you may try to deny it, but I know you love seeing joy and happiness in others. You encourage people to follow their greatest desires without judgement. What could make a person happier than that?”
Unable to hold himself back any longer, he wrapped his arm around her to reciprocate her hug.
“Thank you,” he whispered in her ear.
“For seeing the good in me.”
She leaned back a little to look him in the eye, and just as she leaned forward to kiss him, her cell phone rang.
Reluctantly, he let go of her as she sat up to answer her phone.“Decker.”
He watched her face as she listened and eventually smiled. “Okay, thanks for letting me know.”
She smiled at him and said, “Joseph gave a full confession.”
“Another case closed.” He agreed, shifting on to his side, and wincing.
She squeezed his shoulder in sympathy. “Why don’t you stay here and rest while I make us some dinner?”
“You’re going to make me dinner?” He hadn’t meant that to sound quite as pathetic as it had.
“I am. And if you don’t have anything else planned, I want you to come over for Christmas dinner, too. You can wish your younger brother a happy non-birthday while participating in gluttony.” She winked. “That should irritate both him and your father.”
Delighted by her comment, he chuckled. “I think you’ve discovered the true spirit of Christmas, Detective Decker. It’s all about irritating your loved ones.”
She laughed as she got of the bed and walked towards the kitchen.
He grinned and closed his eyes to rest. He knew if he went home and got away from Chloe his ass would heal ten times faster. But he decided the physical pain was insignificant compared to the healing effects her presence had on his heart.
And here's a link to some artwork by 'ARTofOTK' who was inspired by the story. LUCIFER'S WELTS