All We Know Of Heaven

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03 | the fall (iii)

As Eve led Lucifer towards the middle of the Garden. She would point out the different plants she’d identified in her time there. Some were harmless and emitted sweet perfumes. Others were poisonous and she warned Lucifer against them. Eve’s favorites were lilies and lavenders. For their smells and colors, she said. They were the flowers that were the strongest smelling towards the middle of the Garden, though she didn’t know why. Great trees stood on either side of them. Some with lush treetops, others with limbs plaited between each other, creating longer limbs.

“It would seem my father is something of an artist here on Earth,” he said to himself. “How fitting.”

“Over there are the trees we eat from.” Eve pointed to the row of trees on their right. “Fig and pear trees are the two in the front. The three to the left of those are apricot, date, and peach trees. A grape tree sits next to those and the tree in the middle is an apple tree.” She pointed to the row of trees to the left of them. “All of these trees have different nuts: almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts. My favorites are almonds and hazelnuts.”

Lucifer chuckled. “Has Adam ever told you that your eyes crinkle at the sides when you get excited?” She gave him a flat look. He held up his palms, stifling a smile. “I’m sorry! Carry on.”

Eve turned on her heel. “Adam should be around here somewhere.”

Lucifer followed after her. “Do you come here often?”

She shook her head. “Lately, I’ve found that Adam and I are more…productive when we’re apart.”

Flashes of the couple the night before passed in Lucifer’s mind. Knowing what he knew now, the events played differently. Instead of Adam letting himself get swept up in Eve’s desire, Eve was trying to persuade him. She smiled shy smiles and kissed at his skin to no avail. What Lucifer thought to be burning passion was in fact a desperate attempt to placate Adam. Eve wanted contact in the only way Adam knew how.

“I’m glad I could show you more of the Garden,” she said suddenly. Lucifer smiled. “Are you hungry?”

“Eve?” They turned towards the voice. Adam was shorter than Lucifer, he realized. He still towered over Eve, no doubt, but Lucifer was the taller. Adam’s shoulders were broad and strong. In fact, his entire body looked strong. Defined by the sharp outlines of his muscles, Lucifer wondered if hugging Eve hurt her. Sunlight caught his eyes and Lucifer saw that his eyes were a light brown, not deep brown that turned gold in the sun like Eve’s. No, these eyes mirrored Lilith’s. His upper lip was fuller than his lower lip. If he were an artist like Gabriel, Lucifer would sculpt Adam’s image from clay. It would be a masterpiece. Adam frowned as he looked between Lucifer and Eve. “What are you doing here? I’ve been searching for you.”

“I was showing Lucifer the Garden. We were about to pick some fruit and nuts from the trees.” Eve looked to Lucifer, a half smile on her lips. “We’ll be quick. On our way back, I’ll show you where I get out honey from.”

“I don’t think that’s wise.” Adam moved closer towards Eve. His gaze bore into Lucifer. “He’s a man. You don’t need to tend to him as if he’s a child.”

Eve moved out of his hold. “He doesn’t know the Garden like we do, Adam. I can’t leave him to wander alone.”

“Why not?” He tipped his chin to Lucifer. “Are you unable to walk alone? I recall your injuries only being on your back.”

Lucifer decided that he hated the way Adam spoke. His tone was arrogant and petulant. He gave a tight smile. “They are. But how am I to heal if I don’t have nourishment?”

Eve groaned. “Adam, this is ridiculous. I will gather food for all of us and leave you be if our presence bothers you this much.” She put a hand to his cheek and swiped her thumb along his lower lip. “He needs our help, my love.”

Adam’s eyes were still on Lucifer. Why was he so defensive? As Lucifer opened his mouth to speak, he heard them. Gruff whispers in his ears. Naive woman. Don’t trust him. Different. He moved to put a hand on Eve’s shoulder and Adam tensed. Don’t touch her! Lucifer stopped short.

“Get your things quickly. I’ll be back before sundown,” Adam said. He pulled Eve into his arms and placed a hard kiss on her lips. His gaze stayed on Lucifer.

Eve pulled back, a soft blush darkening her skin. She grabbed the remaining food she needed and led Lucifer away. “Come on, Lucifer. We’ll go gather some honey.” She didn’t look back at Adam as she walked ahead.

The corners of Adam’s lips quirked up as Lucifer followed after Eve.

I don’t trust you or God, Lucifer thought to himself.

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Honey had quickly became one of Lucifer’s favorite foods. Eve had roasted almonds and chestnuts and dressed them with honey and dates. Lucifer had come close to eating his own fingers as he shoveled the sweet treats into his mouth but that didn’t deter him. He and Eve were sat by the creek so that they could wash their hands and faces of the sticky honey. Lucifer had seen his reflection in the water. While he was in Heaven, there weren’t any ways Heavenly beings could recount their own features besides another being telling them. Before now, he’d never been curious. He knew that his skin glowed and that all Heavenly beings looked the same save for their hair and eyes.

His face and jaw were angular, sharp lines sculpted into a bone structure. His cheekbones sat high on his face, making his cheeks look severe. His lips were half the size as Adam’s and Eve’s but still plush. His lower lip was fuller, giving his mouth a permanent pout. What startled him most were the freckles that covered his face and body. He’d never seen such detail on skin before and found it interesting. He liked it. He even started to get used to his dark hair.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Eve said suddenly. Lucifer looked up from the water at her smiling face. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

“I’ve never seen my face before.” His fingertips skimmed along the top of the water. “It’s not what I’m used to.”

Eve frowned. “Are there no creeks or streams in Heaven?” Lucifer shook his head. “Strange. I’d always thought God was inspired by Heaven when He created the Garden.”

“No, He created this place all of His own imagination.” Lucifer sighed and sat back on his elbows. He watched Eve for a moment before he spoke again. “I don’t think Adam favors me.”

Eve looked away. “I didn’t think you noticed. Or rather, I’d hoped you hadn’t.” She tugged at her curls, idly curling a few strands around her fingers. “When he kissed me, I knew it was more for you than it was for me. I’m sorry.”

He snorted. “At least you’re didn’t hear what he said.”

“I didn’t hear him say anything to you.”

Lucifer rubbed the back of his neck. “He didn’t speak it aloud. His thoughts were quite loud.”

Eve’s eyes widened. “You heard…his thoughts?”

“I’m an angel, remember?” Lucifer gave a half smile. “I’d thought that God made me human. But it would seem I possess a few gifts that you and Adam do not.” He flexed his shoulders, his injuries no doubt gone by now.

She moved closer to Lucifer and took his hands. His skin warmed. No matter how much time he’d been spending with Eve, her beauty was not lost on him. If he could decipher what love felt like, he’d assume he’d feel it for her. “Can you read my thoughts?”

He cleared his throat. “I suppose if your thoughts are loud enough. I don’t know how it works.”

“Couldn’t you read minds in Heaven?”

“Not exactly. My skill was more me asking someone their intentions outright.” He furrowed his brow. “It’s hard to explain. It was like I was compelling them to tell me what they wanted, their deepest desires. Though even that explanation is too broad.”

“Amazing!” Eve said with a smile. She closed her eyes and clasped his hands tight.

He chuckled. “What are you — ?” Then Lucifer heard her, just like he heard Adam. I hope he can hear me. If he can, then he’s truly amazing. Her praises warmed his heart. He took Eve’s hands. “Thank you. But I am nothing compared to how amazing you are.”

She blinked. “You heard me?” Lucifer nodded. “That’s fantastic!”

Lucifer arched a brow. “I’d prefer not to be able to hear your thoughts. It seems…” He shrugged. “It feels invasive.” He wondered if God could hear all of the thoughts of all of His creations. Maybe He’d known all along Lucifer’s feelings while he was still in Heaven. Lucifer wouldn’t put it past Him.

“Well, what did Adam say?”

He stiffened. “I shouldn’t say.”

Eve jutted out her lower lip and her eyes were pleading. “You trust me, don’t you?” Lucifer nodded. “You can tell me. I won’t breathe a word.” Please, she thought.

He sighed. “He said that he didn’t trust me and that I was different from the two of you. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t trust me.” He omitted Adam’s words about Eve being naive. She didn’t need to know he thought that of her.

Eve hummed. “I’m sorry. I wish I could say that he didn’t mean it but…” She shook her head. “All I can say is that I’m sorry.”

“Why do you apologize for him?” She stiffened. “You have no reason to be remorseful for his actions. As he said to me, he is a man. He can apologize to me if chooses to.”

Her voice was whisper quiet when she spoke next. Lucifer had to lean it to hear her. “But he won’t. You don’t know that but I do. He will never apologize because he feels no remorse.”

Lucifer took Eve’s hands. “We can leave. We can find a village to live in and he will be here. Alone.”

“Stop it, Lucifer.” Her voice sounded so broken, so small. “I can’t leave the Garden.” She gave a sad smile. “You don’t have to worry about me. You’re an angel on Earth. You can leave here and do great things with that loving heart you possess.”

“So can you,” Lucifer said softly. “If Lilith could get herself away from Adam and the Garden, so can you, Eve. Nothing is stopping you.” Except yourself.

Eve looked over Lucifer’s shoulder and snatched her hands out of his grip. “Adam is coming.” Her eyes found his. “Lucifer, just — don’t tell him about our conversation. I don’t want you two to quarrel anymore.” I don’t want him to hurt you, her unsaid words whispered in his ears.

Lucifer clenched his jaw. He wanted to grab Eve by the shoulders and shake sense into her. He wanted to make her understand that he wanted what was best for her. Him, not Adam. But Lucifer rose to his feet and nodded instead. “I’m going to get more fruit.”

Eve started to stand. “I’ll go with you.”

“No!” He shook his head at his forceful tone. “No, I’ll go alone. I’ll be back before sundown.” He didn’t wait for Eve’s reply and stalked away. As he walked forward, he passed Adam. Lucifer didn’t miss the smug expression on his face. He clenched his fists and gave the man a curt nod, not meeting his gaze.

If this is the hatred that God and Raphael warned him of, he did not like the feeling.

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Twelve dates, six figs, and one apricot.

That’s how many fruit Lucifer had eaten since he’d come to the middle of the Garden. He’d picked some almonds and hazelnuts from the trees but had only managed to make lines of them in the grass. Why was he so upset? He could not pinpoint exactly which parts of his and Eve’s conversation upset him more. The fact that she felt the need to apologize for Adam or that she believed that she couldn’t leave the Garden. Lucifer knew that his behavior was ridiculous. It wasn’t his life that was being wasted staying with someone who treated him poorly. If Eve wanted to spend the rest of her days following a man that who didn’t love her properly, who was Lucifer to object?

He focused on a cloud, willing it to move with his finger. It took a few tries but Lucifer had managed the feat. He didn’t quite know the extent of power he possessed on Earth. He knew that he could heal himself quickly, something that Eve said wasn’t possible for humans. He could hear others’ thoughts, which he knew would get fairly old fairly quick. And he just proved that he could manipulate the things around him. Was that what God intended for Lucifer? Cast him out, take his wings, but leave him with powers no humans had? What was the purpose of giving him gifts if he was no longer a Heavenly being? Lucifer sighed and laid on his back with his hands tucked behind his head.

Should he apologize to Eve? Lucifer didn’t lie when he said what he said but he knew that he hurt her feelings. It was the way she tensed and looked away from him. The way that her words came out as breaths as she spoke and didn’t look him in the eye. He had thought about going back a few hours ago but he remembered Adam was with Eve. He didn’t want to see him. A shadow suddenly looked over him, blocking the sun. He sat up and sighed in relief. “It’s you.”

Eve arched a brow. “Were you expecting someone else?”

“No, no! I was just thinking about you, is all.” She smirked. Lucifer’s cheeks burned. “What I meant was — ”

“I’m sorry,” Eve cut in. He paused. “I didn’t mean to dismiss you like that. Your heart was in the right place and I shouldn’t have made you feel otherwise.” She tucked a few curls behind her ear. “I’m learning to recognize when someone cares about me.”

And he did, very much. Maybe Lucifer did love Eve. He might not know to what extent but he loved her. “The last thing I want for you, Eve, is to be unhappy here.” Unhappy with him. “I want you to feel have a beautiful and full life.”

“I know.” She sat beside him. “How about we both take things little by little? Day by day?” Lucifer smiled and agreed. Eve poked his cheek. “Did you know that you have dimples? I like them.”

“Thank you,” he said. He could feel the heat creeping up his neck and ears from her skin on his. Eve laid on her back and Lucifer followed suit. “What did Adam say as you were leaving?”

“Nothing. He was asleep.” She turned her head towards him. “What would you have liked me to say to him?”

So many vile things. Lucifer smirked. “That you can have a friend that isn’t him.” She laughed. “Eve?”

“Hmm?” Her brown eyes did that thing that made Lucifer’s throat constrict and his skin redden.

“Promise me something.”

“Anything,” she said.

He hooked his pinky with hers. “Promise me that you will leave the Garden one day.” Eve opened her mouth to speak but Lucifer shot her a look. “Promise me that you will explore beyond this place. Find a village with others humans. Make friends outside of Adam.” He lifted a shoulder. “Fall in love, with Adam or someone else. Just be more than this Garden.” They stares at each other for moments that felt longer than a few seconds before Ever spoke.

“I promise.”

Lucifer let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and smiled. “Good!” He rose to his feet and went to the apple tree. He plucked one of the red fruits and took a bite. The juice dribbled down his lips and chin but he didn’t mind. He looked at Eve. “Have you tried one of these?” He held the fruit out to her. “It’s glorious!”

“I haven’t actually.” She rose to her feet and took the fruit from his grip. They locked eyes as she took a bite. Lucifer watched as her face lit up. “This is delicious!”

“What are you two doing?” Lucifer held back a groan. Leave it to Adam to ruin his and Eve’s peace with his asinine questions. He wanted to tell him that they were shooting apples with arrows. A normal occurrence, surely. “Are you eating apples?”

Eve nodded vigorously. “Adam, why haven’t we eaten these before? They’re delicious!”

Adam took her face in his hands. “How do you feel?” She looks fine, he thought. Nothing is happening.

Eve frowned. “What do you mean?”

Lucifer grabber Adam’s shoulder and moved him away from Eve. “Is something wrong with the apples?” He took the apple from her grip. “What did we just eat?” Adam tensed his jaw. Just like with Madan, Lucifer felt his eyes start to warm and cloud over with light.

“Adam? Is there something wrong with the apples?” Eve asked.

Instead of answering, Adam snatched the fruit from Lucifer and bit into it. He chewed slow and defiant. Lucifer could hear the worry in his thoughts despite his facade. Hearing him switch from concern about himself and annoyance at Eve for taking the fruit initially made Lucifer’s blood boil. Adam swallowed thickly. His eyes went to the sky, frantic. Nothing happened. A smile crept to his features. We’re fine.

Lucifer frowned at Eve. “Adam’s hiding something. He’s been saying that something was supposed to happen.”

Adam stiffened. “How did you — ?”

“I can hear your thoughts,” Lucifer explained. “Which, by the way, are very loud. Why you feel the need to yell every thought that crosses your mind is beyond me.”

Adam gave Lucifer a flat look. “How about you learn to respect people’s privacy? A man’s thoughts are his and his alone.”

“As if I’d choose to listen to a man who thinks of only himself sun up to sun down,” Lucifer retorted.

Adam looked to Eve. “Did you ever consider that I was thinking about Eve and I having never eaten apples before? What if they made her sick? Would you know how to tend to her, angel?”

Lucifer tensed and looked at Eve. Guilt knotted his stomach. “I didn’t — ”

Eve put a hand on Lucifer’s shoulder. “I’m fine, Adam. Stop trying to scare him.”

Adam huffed. “Why do you keep defending him, Eve?” She pursed her lips. “You’ve known him no longer than a day and you’ve treated him better than you’ve treated me!”

Eve recoiled. She opened and closed her mouth, words seeming to die in the back of her throat. When she went to speak again, the clouds darkened and the sky parted.

“Oh, Father,” Lucifer cursed. He moved in front of Eve and watched as God descended from the Heavens.

A gasp fell from Eve’s lips. “Is that…?”

Lucifer nodded. Even on Earth, God was without wings. He reasoned that since He created all that he could bend reality to His will. A cruel part of Lucifer wished that having all of that power prevented God from giving himself wings. One cannot be the Creator of all things and be able to fly, could they? It wouldn’t be fair.

God’s feet touched the ground and he outstretched his arms. “My children!” He said, beaming. “So good to see that you have all met!”

Adam dropped to his knees and bowed his head. “Almighty Father.”

From behind him, Lucifer felt Eve now down as well, the same title tumbling off of her lips. Just he and God stood tall. A contemptuous smile was on his father’s lips. He gave a curt nod. “Father.”

“My morning star.” He tipped His chin. “Humanity suits you. Though I was rather fond of your wings.”

“Not so fond to take them from me,” Lucifer spit. “Why have you come here, Father? To taunt me further? Reprimand me?”

God smirked. “Believe it or not, Lucifer, I’m not here for you.” He looked over Lucifer’s shoulder. “It’s about your companions disobeying me.”

“Disobeyed you how?”

God pointed to Adam. “Rise, Adam.” The man quickly rose to his feet, his eyes still on his feet. “What did I tell you about the apple tree upon your creation? You remember, don’t you?”

“Yes, Almighty Father.” Adam’s voice was hoarse, nervous. “You told me to never eat from it.”

God arched a brow. “And you still defy me?” He turned towards Lucifer. Eve was still crouched behind the fallen angel. “Eve?”

Lucifer tensed. Though his father’s voice did not betray any ill intent, His patience scared Lucifer. His voice was measured in the same ways it was when He cast him out. Lucifer maneuvered his body in such a way that shielded Eve.

God held out His hand. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

Eve crept from behind Lucifer and faced God. She nodded to Him. “Almighty Father.”

“Come closer, child. Let me look at you.” Eve complied and moved closer to God. He gripped her chin and turned her face this way and that. “Divine.” He fixed her gaze to His. “Simply divine you are, my dear.”

Lucifer held back a snort. “Enough with the pleasantries, Father. Why have you come to Earth?”

God smiled. “I am here to give my punishment. Adam allowed all of you to eat from the apple tree despite my express instructions not to.” He tipped his chin to Lucifer. “Consequences for wrong-doing. You know how that works, don’t you, my morning star?”

Lucifer pursed his lips.

God let go of Eve’s chin and clapped his hands. “Now, then. What do you have to say for yourselves?”

“What kind of punishment are you suggesting?” Lucifer interjected.

God shrugged. “Exile. It seems the most fitting punishment.” The way He spoke, nonchalant and bored, angered Lucifer.

“No,” he said with a growl. “This is their home! Where will they go!”

God waved off his words. “That isn’t my concern, Lucifer. They broke the rules. They cannot stay here.”

“You would blame two people for the err of one?”

“Oh? So only one of them ate the apple? Which one?” Lucifer tensed his jaw. “Come now, Lucifer, speak!”

“Almighty Father,” Eve began. “We didn’t — ”

“They made me!” Adam jabbed a finger towards Lucifer and Eve. “Eve has forced the apple upon me much in the same way Lucifer forced her!” He gave them a withered look. “I warned them.”

Eve frowned. “Adam!”

Lucifer moves with blinding speed and locked his fist around Adam’s neck. “You filthy liar!” His eyes were fire. Hot, golden light clouded his vision and power thrummed in his veins.

Adam clawed at his skin. Fear shone in his brown eyes. “Lucifer…!” he choked out.

“Lucifer!” He could feel hands around his shoulder and his arm but he shoved them away. “Lucifer, don’t! Please!”

An invisible force pushed Lucifer away from the man. When the angel made a move for Adam again, he was brought to his knees. The air left his lungs so swift and harsh that he struggled to catch it.

“Enough!” God roared. His green eyes blazed as He regarded the two men. “Refrain from committing another sin while you both are still ahead.”

Eve took God’s hands. “Almighty Father, please. Any indiscretions we may have committed, we apologize most humbly.” She moved to her knees, still grasping his hands, and rested her head against hers. “Please, Almighty Father.”

God removed his hands and knelt in front of her. A sad smile sat on his lips. “Oh, my dearest Eve. Beautiful, naive Eve.”

Lucifer’s head shot up at His words. They were the same words he heard Adam call Eve.

God looked to Lucifer. “Do you know why I told them not to eat from the apple trees?”

A groan left the angel’s lips as he pushed himself to his knees. “I’m sure you were as evasive in your reasons as ever.”

God ignored the jibe. “You see, these apples held the key to their survival and their downfall.”

Lucifer frowned. “What does that mean?”

“Adam, what’s different about Eve?”

The man frowned. “I don’t understand.”

God yanked Eve to her feet and pushed her towards Adam. “What is different about her? Look carefully, now. Surely, by now, you have noticed.”

Eve huddled in on herself and kept her gaze on the ground. Though she couldn’t wrap her arms around her body, she attempted to shield herself behind God’s frame. He gripped her chin and made her face Adam. “Please.” Her voice cracked on the word. Tears lined her eyes.

She understands. That was the difference. That’s the trick. Lucifer hadn’t noticed before but Eve had been making subtle efforts to shield herself from the men. It was why she kneeled and kept her gaze down unless she absolutely had to. While she stood behind him, her skin was lit pressed against his like it had been that morning and afternoon. He could feel the heat from her body, yes, but she wouldn’t touch him. Lucifer growled. “Cover her!” He turned to Adam, livid. “Don’t just stand there gaping like a fish! Help her!”

As if he’d been struck, Adam roared back. His gaze went from his stark form to Eve’s and he mirrored her body language. “Have we always been so brazen?”

Lucifer creased his brows. “I don’t understand.”

“Have we always been naked?”

Lucifer shot a glare to God before answering. “Yes. Since you were created. I assumed you always knew.” He took in a deep breath. “Haven’t you proven your point enough, Father?”

“Have I?”

Lucifer held out his hand to Adam. Adam narrowed his eyes. “Is this a trick?”

“Oh, Father,” he cursed lowly. “If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead. You’re frightened and I’m willing to help you. Don’t make me regret it.”

After a few seconds, Adam nodded and took the proffered hand. He looked over his shoulder at Eve. “Let’s go.”

She looked to God. “Almighty Father?”

He didn’t answer. His gaze swept over the trio, calculating. Lucifer knew that look: He was plotting. About what, he didn’t know. “Let her go, Father.”

God locked gazes with Eve and brushed a kiss to her forehead. “You may leave now, my lamb.” H released her chin and gave her a smile. She bowed to him again and scurried after Adam, her arms shielding her body from him. God looked to Lucifer. “We have much to discuss, my morning star.”

“Lucifer?” Eve outstretched her hand. “Come on.”

He shook his head. “I have to settle something first.” His lips quirked at the ends. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be back before you know it.”

She looked between Lucifer and God. “Don’t. Whatever you’re thinking, Lucifer, don’t. Leave it be.”

He wanted to tell her that he and his father were just going to talk. A small conversation before He went back to Heaven. He wanted to tell her that everything was going to be okay. But he hadn’t lied to Eve yet and he didn’t want to start then. “I can’t.” He nodded towards Adam. “Go back to you and Adam’s camp. I won’t be long.”

Wary, Eve nodded and walked towards a waiting Adam.

Lucifer waited until they were both out of sight before facing his father. Anger termed from his skin. “They are people, Father! Real people with real feelings and real thoughts! You don’t get to toy with them this way!”

“I don’t need to explain to you my reasoning behind my decisions,” He said. “But I will say that I gave Adam warning. He should have expressed that to you and Eve.”

You shouldn’t have made the rule in the first place! They aren’t toys! What if I hadn’t have been the one to offer them the apples? Would you still punish them this way?”

“I do not answer to you!” God roared. Lightning cracked through the sky, thunderous and foreboding.

“You need to answer to more than just me, Father,” Lucifer spit. “What is your goal? To what end do your games need to persist?”

God gripped Lucifer’s chin. “Do you know what I abhor about you, my son?” Your incessant need for questions. Your need for truth.” His lips curled into a sneer. “Do you want to know the truth?” His nails bit into Lucifer’s skin. “It’s punishment is all your doing. They are paying for your sins.”

Lucifer paled. “You’re lying.”

“This newfound shame I’ve given them is a reflection of what you should feel. You’ve run away from home and for what? Because you wanted to play in the Garden with Father’s toys? Because you didn’t get your way?”

“You cast me out!” Lucifer slapped God’s hand away. “You tortured me, ripped my wings from my body!”

“You needed to be taught a lesson.”

“What lesson!” Wind kicked up around them, whipping the leaves from trees and their hair in their faces. “You can preach about lessons and morality and right and wrong but this is all a game to you! God, the Powerful and Omnipotent, decides the fates of his creatures on whimsy, not Divine Law. He will cast out His children, banish humans from their realms. All to keep His name untarnished. Well, I will not play your games any longer, Father.”

He turned on his heel and started towards the camp. Then, pain burned from the gashes on his back. A guttural groan broke from his throat and he dropped to his knees.

“Being on the ground has quelled your instincts, my son.” God knelt down beside him. “I allowed you to keep your Heavenly gifts. Winds move at your every emotion, you can manipulate reality if you wanted.” He gave a conspiratorial smile. “Have you been hearing their thoughts?”

Lucifer stilled.

“You see? I’ve made you extraordinary among humans! You are not like them, Lucifer! To them, you are a god. What could fascinate you about them so much that you were willing to be cast out? What entices you about humans? Free will? Choice? Humans do not know the meaning of the words. Do you know what I have seen of the fate of humanity? Wars, murders, death. All because of free will, their own choices. Is that what you want to save?”

“You created us. Heavenly beings and humans, you created, Father. We did not ask to be born.” Lucifer’s voice was rough as he spoke. “You think that just because we were born to you that we must blindly follow you.” He pushed himself onto one knee. “You want to punish me? Go ahead. But don’t you dare use me as the reason for you punishing Adam and Eve. You’re punishing them because you enjoy being malicious. Some part of you enjoys watching as your creations suffer.”

God thinned His lips and His eyes were in narrow slits. Lucifer returned His glare with his own. Though they were locked in a battle, Lucifer was sad and that made him angry. Angry that some small part of him that still vied for his father’s affection. Angry that he was stupid enough to believe his father would let him live out the rest of his days as a human.

That he’d belong somewhere for once.

God frowned at him. “You would bear their sins for them? These people that don’t know you or know anything about you — who you truly are — you would sacrifice yourself for them?”

“They’ve committed no sins,” Lucifer ground out. “But if you want me to take their sins as mine, I ask one thing.” God raised a brow. “Let me say goodbye. I will take their places and leave the Garden. I won’t watch over them or sneak to see them. Just let me say goodbye.”

God waved His hands. “If you wish. Despite what you may think, I can be benevolent.”

Lucifer didn’t answer and turned on his heel, towards Adam and Eve.

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“Lucifer!”

Eve threw herself in his arms, soft sobs falling from her lips. Her lips were at the shell of his ear when she spoke. “I thought that you were gone. I thought that he…” She took in a shaky breath and pulled back. “None of that matters right now. You’re back and that’s all that matters.”

Adam cleared his throat. He didn’t look at Lucifer as he spoke. “I’m glad to see that you’re okay. And thank you. For defending us. I should have said something, done something — ” I know that you can hear me. This changes nothing.

“It’s fine, Adam,” Eve said. “None of that matters anymore.”

“You’re most welcome, Adam,” Lucifer said. “Despite my own personal opinions of you, Father — God shouldn’t have punished you. He was wrong.” Adam gave a short nod and thanked him again.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Eve said with a watery smile. Tears pooled in the curve her Cupid’s bow, the sight constricting Lucifer’s throat.

She’s crying because of me. She was scared for me.

“You were so brave, do you know that, Lucifer?” She put a hand to his cheek. “I can’t imagine how scared you were. I know how hard seeing your father must have been.”

It was harder seeing Him when he’d wanted to protect Adam and Eve. Their conversation played itself over and over in Lucifer’s head. Was he really the reason they were being punished? He was as confused about the truth of the apples as they were. The Garden has existed well before Lucifer had been created. Surely his father hadn’t planned for this?

“Lucifer?”

He shook his head, his curls swaying along Eve’s hand and wrist. “My sweet Eve.” Tears burned in his eyes. “I have to leave.”

She pulled her brows down. “What?”

“Tonight.”

“What are you talking about, Lucifer?”

Adam spoke. “Did He tell you to leave?” Are you returning to Heaven?

“I’m taking your place.” He gave Adam a pointed look. “And no, I’m not returning to Heaven. He was going to cast you both out of the Garden.”

“So you offered yourself as an alternative?” Eve spit out. “Why would you do that!”

Lucifer tightened his jaw. “This was your home before I came alone. If anyone should be sent away, it would be me.”

Eve shook her head. “You don’t get to do that! You don’t get to make that decision for us!” She turned to Adam. “Adam, tell him!”

Adam lifted a shoulder. “He’s right, Eve.”

An incredulous sound left her throat. “You don’t mean that.”

“He doesn’t belong here, Eve! He’s an angel! What could living with humans possibly do for him?”

“He’s our friend, Adam! He belongs with us!”

“That’s enough, Eve,” Lucifer said. She turned to him, her jaw slack. “What would you have wanted me to do? Let Him take out His grievances against me out on you?” She huffed. “Where would you go? There are no other villages, no other humans. How would you survive, Eve?”

“Lilith left.”

Lucifer frowned. “She was whisked away because she didn’t want to stay with your companion.” His dark eyes flicked to Adam. His frame was tense, like he was holding his breath. He pondered suddenly if Lilith was a frequent topic between the two of them. “Do you want to end up like that? Taken from the only home you’ve ever known? Because let me be the first to tell you, it isn’t ideal. It isn’t fun. It’s jarring and confusing and I don’t want that for you.” Lucifer sighed and took Eve into his arms. “You don’t deserve that.”

“You don’t deserve this, either, Lucifer.” She tightened her arms around his waist. Her voice was shaky when she spoke again. “I don’t want you to go.”

“Say that you’ll miss me and you’ll keep yourself safe.”

She looked up at him. “Lucifer — ”

“Promise me, Eve,” he said emphatically.

Eve buried her face into his chest. I need you. He didn’t need to ask if she spoke. He would have heard her either way.

He brushed a kissed to the top of her head. “No, you don’t. You have Adam and the Garden. Before long, you’ll forget al about me. I’m told human memory is brief.”

“Never,” she vowed. “You’re my friend, Lucifer, and I love you. I’m your family.”

Family. Isn’t that what Lucifer had wanted all this time? A place to belong in? Beings to belong with? If he thought hard and far enough, he could see it: life with Eve. He could see her broad smiles and long limbs reaching for him, being for him. Just as distant, he could see Adam. His smile is small but it is genuine. What a cruel God you are, Father. A cruel God, indeed.

“I’ve got to go,” Lucifer said. He walked out of Eve’s embrace, a small smile on his lips. “It was a pleasure to know you, Eve of Eden.” He gave a bow and winked at her. She rolled her eyes but smiled still. He turned to Adam. “Take care of her. If not for her sake, for yours.”

Adam placed a tentative hand on his shoulder. “I will.” He leaned in, his voice low. “You may not believe but I loved Lilith. She was my friend before she was my wife. I’ve tried my best to treat Eve the same because I love her. I do, Lucifer.”

Lucifer arched a brow. “Did you love them because God made them for you or because of who they are?”

“Is there a difference?”

“That, foolish Adam, is why I don’t believe you.” He shrugged off Adam’s hold. “You don’t know the first thing about them. Because of this, you could never truly love them. I’ve learned that much in my short time here. You want me to believe you? Show her. Be better for her.” He turned on his heel, gave Eve one last smile, and made his way out of the Garden.

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