Blake stared at the man sitting across from him. As if attempting to provide the right ambiance, the light bulbs in the restaurant flickered. It was, he had to admit, very menacing.
“So you’re the devil,” he said, not sure whether he was awed or horrified. It really was a mixture of both. “Lucifer.”
He had to admit, the man didn’t look that intimidating. Like most of the devils he had met, he was sprouting a small pair of horns from his forehead, but they were quite petite, barely noticeable beneath his bangs. He had blonde hair, trimmed loosely, and he wore a white robe. He definitely wasn’t nearly as menacing as Hastur had appeared.
Lucifer shook his head as he reached for his glass of wine. “I still can’t get used to that name,” he remarked in a mild tone. “I know it’s been changed from Lucern for a few million years, but it still sounds odd to me.” He took a sip of the wine, grimaced, and then spat it back into the glass.
“You know, you don’t seem that intimidating,” Blake remarked. He wasn’t quite sure what to say. What in the world does one say to Satan himself?
Lucifer glanced down at himself, and then shrugged again. He really did seem quite calm. “I’ve basically given up on the whole thing,” he admitted. “Sure, Hastur loves the whole ‘stomping around with spiky boots and yelling’ bit, but what does it really matter, in the end? I’m not going to get promoted out of this bit. There’s really no reason for me to try any more.”
As Blake processed this, trying to figure out what to say next, Lucifer raised up a hand, waving at one of the waitresses as she passed by. “Do you think I could get a vegetable platter?” he asked politely. The woman nodded, her eyes going wide as she took in the robe and horns, and then went scurrying off towards the kitchens with a fake “meep.”
Blake tried to reclaim control of the conversation. “So you really don’t want to invade Heaven,” he pressed.
“Invade?” Lucifer looked totally surprised. “Why in the world would I want to do that? Sure, they’ve got a better view than my current place, but I would totally be downgrading in terms of size.” He leaned across the table, waving the wine glass at Blake in a conspiratorial manner. “You should see the size of my pad,” he confided. “It’s literally twice the size of Gabriel’s. I know, I was invited over for a house-warming party once, before the whole, you know, Fall thing. And I’ve got one of those, er, those things.” Lucifer looked confused for a moment, gesturing with the glass. “With the jets, and the bubbles.”
“That’s the one! Man, you humans are really creative that way. Jets of hot water, never would have thought of that. Really, you owe me a favor for that meteor strike.”
This seemed like a total non sequitor, but Blake tried to stay on topic. “So no plans to invade Heaven,” he repeated.
Lucifer took another sip of the wine, and then promptly spat it out again. “Why do I keep on doing that?” he asked, more to himself than towards Blake. “No, no plans of the sort. Listen, we’re basically just a holding tank. Souls come in, the demons play with them a bit, and then they go away. It’s a pretty standard operation. Works well, turns a decent profit, they keep telling me, no need for growth.” He glanced around the restaurant, perhaps wondering where his vegetables were.
A minute later, before Blake could speak again, the waitress returned, her trembling hands bearing a plate of grilled vegetables. Lucifer’s eyes lit up, and he immediately picked up a spear of grilled asparagus with one hand. “Oh, this is the stuff,” he said enthusiastically as he took a bite. “Really top-notch, you guys.”
The human sitting across the table from Lucifer felt that he could probably ask more questions, but his intuition was telling him that it was going to be a waste of time. The leader of Hell wasn’t behind this.
Of course, he was known as the Father of Lies, but somehow, Blake couldn’t see anyone being this good of a liar. Currently, the fallen angel was attempting to cram Brussels sprouts into his mouth with every sign of enjoyment. That was not the move of a master manipulator.
“Listen, thank you for taking the time to have dinner with me, really,” Blake said, rising up to his feet. When he glanced towards the restaurant’s nearest window, he briefly caught a glimpse of Ophiel’s face – his guardian angel was sticking close, checking in on him. “But I think I’m going to take off.”
Lucifer looked up at him, his mouth full but his eyes questioning. “I hope I didn’t offend,” he managed to choke out through the vegetables.
“No, no,” Blake hurried to reassure him. “I just think you’re innocent, and we need to figure out who’s planning an attack, and what it might be. Remember, stolen astral devices and all?”
“Oh yeah,” Satan nodded. “I didn’t realize we had mortals working on that, but yes, nose to the grindstone. Not literally, of course. Hastur tried that once and it was very messy. But keep at it. That’s a good fellow.”
Blake rolled his eyes as he headed out of the restaurant. The more he learned about Heaven and Hell, he thought to himself, the more certain he grew that God was just playing some sort of big joke on everyone. “How many layers of bureaucracy can you make before nothing at all gets done?” he asked himself out loud.
“Sorry, what?” Ophiel had appeared next to him, looking worried. “So, any leads? Is Lucifer behind this?”
The young mortal man shook his head. “Don’t think so,” he replied. “We’ll have to keep looking…”