Taking a Tumble - Chapter 4 - Vagabond_Sloth (2024)

Chapter Text

Lucifer made his way back over to the bar where Alastor was still slumped, one hand under his head, the other flopped artlessly across the back of it. He was breathing slowly, like he was practicing the anti-anxiety exercises Charlie touted during her workshops. His head was on its’ side, and Lucifer peered at his face, finding that his eyes were closed, and his brow furrowed.

“Hey, buddy, you doing ok? Think it’s time we got you to bed, mister.” He reached out with the intention of gently shaking Alastor by the shoulder, but stopped short as the other man’s eyes shot open and a blast of feedback rang out.

“You… You did this to me!” Alastor all but growled, face taking on a distinct look of concentration. “You did this to me as… revenge?” His face was still contorted and growing more flushed by the second. All of a sudden, he slumped again and huffed, “Why isn’t it working?”

“Okay, firstly, no, I didn’t mean for you to drink any of my appletini. Secondly, getting you drunk would be nowhere near good enough revenge for your stunt earlier. And thirdly, what are you trying to do? Why isn’t what working?” Lucifer put his hands on hips and attempted a stern look, which was pointless because Alastor’s eyes were shut again.

“I’m trying to leave!” He gritted out, sliding back slightly to let his head dangle between his arms which were holding him up against the bar. “My shadows aren’t working. Nor are my eldritch tendrils.”

“Hah! You really are wasted!” Lucifer chuckled, enjoying the feeling of smug superiority his only mildly tipsy state afforded him. “Let me help you to your room.” He held out a hand in Alastor’s direction.

“No.”

“What do you mean, no?”

“I think I was quite clear.” Alastor turned a withering glare upon him. “No. I will not let you help me to my room.” He looked like the thought was making him nauseous.

“Now, come on. Why not? It’s not like I’m gonna hurt you!”

“Hah, you couldn’t if you tried.”

“Yeah, yeah, you keep thinking that if it helps you sleep at night buddy.” Lucifer rolled his eyes so hard he nearly fell backwards. Yeesh, this guy was a real trip. Hadn’t they been besties just a few minutes ago? Or was that more like an hour ago now? He wasn’t sure. Time was iffy when you were tipsy.

“Besides, I’m more worried you’ll try to take advantage.” Alastor shuddered as he said it, and honestly, it was a contagious shudder because the very thought chilled Lucifer into shuddering sobriety.

“I’m sorry, what? You think I would… What… Rape you or something? You really think that little of me?”

Alastor tilted his head to peer at Lucifer with one eye, looking up and down as though assessing him. His smile fell almost out of existence, he looked chagrined.

“Ah. I’ve upset you.” He sniffed. “Of course I don’t really think that. I was merely ‘pushing your buttons’.” He wiggled in place on the bar stool, precariously, as though trying to make himself smaller. “If you’re offended, you may leave.” Lucifer sensed there was a lot more to it than that, but prying at this point would likely get him nowhere. An upfront talk with the Radio Demon might be on the cards though, once they were both sober.

“Huh… You know usually I would, and let you fend for yourself, but we were almost getting along there for a minute. I think you’re lashing out because you’re feeling a little vulnerable, which, fair I guess, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to help you. So how about you carry on bitching and whining about it all you want, and I go ahead and help you anyway?”

“And I don’t suppose I get a say in this?” Alastor chimed, breezily. “Fine. Open a portal then.”

“Ohhhh, no, no can do. Bad idea after a few whiskeys. Cos we might end up getting you to bed or we might end up 700 feet up in the air over a pool of boiling sulphur. We’re gonna have to hoof it, I’m afraid.”

“Uggggghhhhhh.” Alastor let his face fall onto the bar top with a dull thud. “Fine. Give me a moment.” He took a deep breath and pushed himself up to a proper sitting position, wavering slightly and still gripping the bar with both hands. Lucifer took half a step closer and received a glare for his troubles.

“Uhhh, Al, this is gonna be reeeeal difficult if you don’t let me physically support you.” He held out a hand, palm up in offering. “Realistically in your current state your choices are to lean on me, or to crawl, and to be honest I’m not gonna stop you choosing the latter, but I’m also not gonna refrain from laughing my ass off at you if you do.”

Alastor blinked at him several times, almost frowning (if one could frown whilst simultaneously smiling) before he plastered on a fake grin and tilted his head unnaturally.

“Of course, how foolish of me, I would be delighted if you would assist me in walking.” He barked out too brightly, obviously trying to cover his discomfort at the situation. “Why you’re of almost the correct height to function as a walking stick.” He grinned and canned laughter erupted, but even that had a slightly manic tinge to it, and the joke had been a desperate grasp at best.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say.” Lucifer humoured him, dragging him to his feet and sliding an arm around his waist to hold him there. Alastor, for his part, managed not to physically recoil, although he did seem to be holding his breath and he was scowling something fierce. He draped an arm around Lucifer’s shoulders, the other dangling by his side, loosely holding his cane. “C’mon, one foot in front of the other.”

They shuffled steadily out of the bar and across the lobby, and Lucifer almost made it to the stairs before he was unable to keep in his indignation at Alastor’s earlier comment.

“You do know I would never take advantage of anyone, right?” He peered up at Alastor, gripping a little tighter as the sinner nearly stumbled at his words. “I mean, I’m technically still married, so there’s that, and even if I weren’t, you’re absolutely not my type of course…” He let out a weak chuckle to cover the blush he could feel creeping across his cheeks, “And even if you were, I would never. I mean… Sure, I’m the literal devil, but I’m not a f*cking rapist.” He cast a pleading look up at Alastor, willing him to understand that this was an important distinction, and that he was speaking truthfully. What he got instead was a fleeting wry smile.

“Of course, but you are inebriated yourself. It is my experience that when my guard is down, people attempt to take advantage of the situation.” Alastor’s voice was quiet and guarded, and he was avoiding eye contact.

“Are you telling me that you’ve been in situations like this before and people have tried to take advantage instead of helping you?” Lucifer probed gently.

“Essentially. I have, perhaps, had poor friends in the past.” Alastor risked a look over at Lucifer and evidently didn’t enjoy whatever expression he was wearing. “Do not pity me. I am not some damsel in distress or some woe-begotten rape victim. Anyone who has ever dared to try their advantage has found themselves very firmly put in their place.” He snarled. Lucifer lifted his free hand to pat at Alastor’s hand on his shoulder.

“Good.” He responded, firmly. “f*ck them. I hope you killed them. And if you didn’t, tell me who they are, and I’ll see to it they never have an opportunity to take advantage of anyone again.” He felt his horns begin to emerge slightly and his eyes change to their demonic form. This time Alastor looked at him in assessment and seemed pleased by what he saw. His smile slipped to become something almost fond. Lucifer reined in the demonic outburst, and tamped down the golden blush he could feel expanding down his neck at the same time. Having complete control over his appearance had never been more advantageous. They were done climbing the stairs now, just the long corridor to his room to go.

“You know, Your Majesty, you continue to surprise me.” Alastor mused, and something soft and jazzy began to play, somewhere around them. Alastor blushed and it shut off very suddenly. Lucifer steadfastly ignored it, and also ignored the way he felt his own face heat up again and his heart rate increase at the sight of this little slip in Alastor’s stoic mask. He was almost pretty when his smiles were sincere… But no! Lucifer couldn’t and wouldn’t start thinking like that!

“Uh… Thanks… I mean, as long as you mean in a good way. You do mean in a good way, right?”

“Hmmm… Sometimes.” Alastor smirked.

“You’re an ass.” Lucifer chuckled, hoisting Alastor back up and closer where he was beginning to slip from his grasp.

“Actually, more of a deer, I think.” Alastor responded facetiously, flicking his ears and gesturing to his antlers with his free hand, doing very little to assist Lucifer with keeping him upright.

“Ha. Ha. You’re very funny.” Lucifer bit down a smile of his own. “I’m not certain how well you’d respond if I said, ‘You’re a dear’ though.” He shot Alastor a wink and was satisfied to see the other man suck in a breath and shut up in shock. “Ok we’re here. You got your room key? Or should I just…” He waved a hand at the door and wiggled his fingers, and with a nod from Alastor, he willed it to open. So, it did.

They stumbled through, and Lucifer took a second to get his bearings. He wasn’t sure exactly what he’d expected Alastor’s room to look like, but of course it was part gentleman’s study and part a literal swamp. Of course it was. But there was a bed, which seemed like the logical place to deposit his charge, so he shuffled them in that direction.

“Ok, down you go buddy.” He hefted Alastor onto the edge of the bed and allowed him to fall limp, which he did, flopping back onto the mattress like a deadweight. “You gonna be ok?”

“I will be fine.” Alastor informed the ceiling.

“Alright. I’m just gonna…” Lucifer gestured towards the door then moved to turn but was stopped by a hand on his wrist. “Alastor what are you doing?”

“Stay a moment.” Alastor flailed into a sitting positon.

“Listen, Al, Al-my-pal, my good buddy Al…. You are giving incredibly mixed signals today. You didn’t even want me to bring you up here… Now you’re asking me to stay? You had a good crack at humiliating me earlier. I’m not even gonna bring up the flowers at this point. You don’t even like me…” He was cut off by an offended screech of static.

“I do like you.” Alastor all but wailed. “That’s the problem.” He let go of Lucifer’s wrist and flopped back down, rolling over to present his back and curling up in a ball.

“It… doesn’t have to be a problem?” Lucifer hedged. He stayed totally still, not wanting to leave just in case Alastor had more to say, but afraid that moving closer would spook the dumb idiot.

“It is a problem. I loathe you. You are insufferable with your false bravado and your awful puns and your nepotism and your utter lack of self-worth. You are a lousy King, and your track record as a parent is abysmal, and I have been left to guide dear Charlie where you were either unwilling or incapable, I don’t know which. And you’re so flippant about it all, and you make everything a joke and you’re so sincere and genuinely kind, it’s… uggggghhhhh… It’s so blasted charming it makes it almost impossible not to like you. And I’ve tried. I’ve been trying. But I do like you. And I hate it. And it’s driving me a little loopy.”

Alastor subsided into panting in the wake of the most words Lucifer had every heard him utter outside of a radio broadcast (yes, he had listened to Alastor’s radio shows. Sue him, the prick had a soothing voice, and a great ear for music, and the gossip was impeccable). He had made this entire speech to the wall, so Lucifer had no idea what his face looked like, but he had a frantic air about him which suggested a manic grin.

“Ok… That’s… Maybe warn a guy before you call him out like that next time… I mean, I guess none of what you said is wrong? But I don’t understand, why do you need to not like me?” Lucifer caved and moved to perch on the edge of the bed warily at first, before relaxing when all Alastor did was glance over his shoulder dispassionately. “I admit I was the one who started this little feud, and it was petty of me. And rude. Sorry about that. I guess I was feeling vulnerable at the time, and you’ve been doing such a great job of taking care of Charlie it made me… Jealous, I guess? But that’s no excuse. So, I am sorry. Look, what if we… start over? You’re pretty drunk right now, so if you don’t remember any of this in the morning, I won’t mention it, and I promise not to hold this over you in any way. But if you do remember tomorrow morning, and you do want to start over… Just… Reintroduce yourself to me formally when you see me, and I’ll take it as a sign. And then we can start again, and see if we get along?”

“That sounds incredibly foolish… I accept.” Alastor sniffed. “And thank you… For not… using my current state as leverage.” He added grudgingly.

“Don’t mention it.” Lucifer slapped his knees in that universal gesture which meant he was about to leave. “Well, I’ll leave you to it.” He forced himself to stand, and made his way over to the door, with no interruption this time. When he reached it, he turned with a sudden thought. “For what it’s worth, Al, today has made me reconsider you too. And I don’t think I dislike you either.” He fought down the blush he could feel trying to rise on his cheeks once more.

“Oh, colour me charmed.” Alastor drawled, rolling further over to press his face into a pillow.

“Oh, f*ck you.” Lucifer laughed without malice. “Goodnight, Al.”

“Goodnight Lucifer.”

With that, he stepped out of the room and closed the door, heading back to his own room to decompress and unpack the day’s events. He wasn’t sure where to begin. He didn’t want to read too much into Alastor’s actions and words, but the full picture did seem to imply that the Radio Demon had some mixed feelings for him. Part of him hoped that Alastor wouldn’t remember any of this in the morning, that he could just set this whole episode aside and go back to being mildly (read majorly) irritated by the prick.

Another, more insistent part, screamed that the flower arrangement from earlier, whilst perhaps a little deranged, was easily the most romantic gesture anyone had made to him in… well, millennia. And furthermore, that he had liked it. And that came with its’ own slough of guilt as he remembered his marriage vows and how he honestly still did love Lillith, but she had been gone for 7 years, and she had been distant for a long time before that. She had clearly gone at the first opportunity of a better option, and he couldn’t blame her because he knew his own faults better than anyone…

He was getting ahead of himself. Nothing in Alastor’s actions or words so far had indicated a true intention towards romance. Except sending people flower messages was inherently quite gay. But Lucifer shouldn’t read too much into this. Perhaps all Alastor was after was a friend, and that would be great. He would settle for that.

Wait? Settle? Where was this coming from? When he woke up this morning his only feelings towards the Radio Demon had been irritation and mild jealousy for his closeness with Charlie. Now he was consoling himself with friendship as a consolation prize… Sheesh, he really needed to get a grip if a few flowers and one pleasant evening were enough to turn his head. He ‘d assess his feelings later, if Alastor took his olive branch.

What he really hoped was that come tomorrow morning they could start afresh, put the petty bickering aside, and work together to help Charlie. And that maybe they could find out how they really felt about each other along the way. And that maybe he’d get to see more of this softer side of Alastor, because it really was quite endearing.

Only time would tell, so he snapped his fingers to manifest some comfy pjs, and scooted down into his lovely, comfortable bed. He was just about to turn out the lamp when movement caught his eye. The f*cking shadow was back. He opened his mouth to challenge it, but it frantically mimed a shushing motion at him, so he closed it again and stared at it challengingly.

The shadow seemed to waver for a second before it peeled its’ upper half away from the wall and reached out to take his hand. It was an odd sensation, at once physically present but somehow also insubstantial. The shadow raised his hand, and he moved it like it was a suggestion rather than being physically manipulated. He stared wide-eyed and mouth agape as the shadow bent to kiss his knuckles, an immaterial caress like a cool breeze, before it withdrew, released his hand and subsided onto the wall, looking as close to coy as a shadow could. It shot him a smile, then reached forward once more to turn off the lamp, effectively disappearing.

What. The. f*ck.

No matter what else they spoke about tomorrow, Lucifer was going to have to tell Alastor to get a handle on the thing. It was downright absurd, and no he was not blushing thank you very much, and even if he was it was dark so nobody could see. He sent out a little angelic power to see if the thing was still lurking, but sensing nothing he concluded it had left after its’ little stunt. Sighing in exasperation, and not like a lovesick teenager, Lucifer settled himself amongst his pillows and willed himself to switch off for the night.

Roll on tomorrow morning.

Taking a Tumble - Chapter 4 - Vagabond_Sloth (2024)
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