Lucifer: Chapter 22
FATHER DAMIEN, DANSER, and Officer Felman arrived at Damien's house shortly after he called them, babbling about Derrick and Elise. By now just about everybody else in the house was awake as well, stepping out of their rooms and rubbing their eyes, wondering what was going on. Harvey and Ez were in the stairway, peering over the banister with awe at the scene. Father Damien actually had to grab his nephew by the shoulders and shake him to get him to calm down.
"Dami," he said, stressing the word as he shook him. "Calm down. What is it?"
"I just got this call from Derrick," Damien said, the words still coming out fast. His face was ash white and it made his eyes appear to glow. "He said he had Elise and they were going to kill her if I didn't go meet him right now--"
"Meet who? Where?" Danser asked.
"Derrick," Father Damien said to him over his shoulder. "The one who threatened Kat and the kids. He's with Scorpio and he's been in touch with Damien." He turned back. "Did he say where?"
Damien shook his head wildly and his voice rose again. "He must've been calling from the compound or something, but he never said where he was--how am I supposed to show up if I don't even know where he is!"
"Take it easy," Danser said. "Think a minute. What exactly did he say?"
"He said my father wanted to see me," Damien said. The others--especially Father Damien--looked taken aback. "He said if I didn't show up even you guys wouldn't be able to ID Elise's body."
"Think," Danser said again. "You and your dad and Derrick. Can you think of any place you share in common? Any place Derrick would want you to meet?"
Damien tried to clear his head, finding it especially difficult to do so. His thoughts were all zooming and banging into each other. He usually didn't freak out this easily; yet everything that had just happened had his head in a whirl.
Any place you share in common?
Any place we share in common.
But there's only the compound. And I don't know where that is!--
But there isn't only the compound, that other voice said. Remember! How this all started in the first place...
The first place! He gasped and lifted his head. "The field! They have to be in the field!"
"The field?" Danser echoed. "This field the fire was set in."
"That's the only place," Damien insisted. He turned to the door. "I have to find them!"
"Wait a minute!" Father Damien had to force himself not to shout, grabbing his nephew's arm. Damien spun around to face him. "You're not going out there alone--!"
"He said you and me," Damien said. He glanced at the two cops standing nearby. "He didn't mention anyone else."
"We're not letting you head out there on your own," Danser said.
"He told me it was a family reunion! If you two show up, I don't know what--"
"Listen, I'll call Jones for backup if I have to. You two are not going out there on your own. You're not even armed, for God's sake."
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Damien didn't care, and neither did he care to argue further when he had an appointment to keep. He whirled back to the door and disappeared.
Officer Felman and Father Damien shared the briefest of glances as Danser followed, then went out themselves.
Damien's car, followed by his uncle's and Danser's, sped bumpily down the dirt road leading into the field. The Countach skidded to a halt so suddenly the other two had to veer to the side to avoid hitting it. The front end of Danser's car burrowed down into the grass as they pulled in. Damien got out, slamming the door and making off across the field. He couldn't see anyone. Where were they? They had to be there, it was the only place left--!
"Hold it!" Danser shouted, trying to get out of the car without falling over. The door stuck in a clump of weeds and he had to ram it open. Officer Felman made it out before he did and was watching the singer's disappearing shape in the moonlight.
"Damn it, he's going to get himself killed," the police sergeant groused as Father Damien came his way. "That Grant guy could be anywhere, and he has a gun."
"You radioed Officer Jones?" the priest asked.
"Yeah," Danser replied. He finally shut the door and moved to the front of the car, swatting aside the tall grass and craning his neck. "I don't know when he's going to be able to show up, but I told him we might need him. Where'd he go?"
Father Damien tried to look, only to find that he, too, had lost sight of his nephew. There was only a seemingly endless expanse of whispering grass.
He found himself thinking of fire....
"There he is!" Felman said, pointing.
The other two squinted. He must have pretty good eyesight, Father Damien thought. Then he noticed it; there was a speck far off, but he himself couldn't be sure if it actually was Damien or something like a tree stump.
"He's just standing there," Felman said, shielding his eyes against nothing.
Damien could barely hear them talking to each other from where he was. He wasn't interested in their conversation anyway; he had to find Derrick. And Elise. He found it hard to believe that Derrick would be crouching with Elise in the grass; that just didn't seem right. He had to be somewhere nearby--or had his guess about the field been wrong after all?
That was ridiculous; it hadn't been a guess. It was the only place they could be!
He heard a sharp whistle coming--oddly enough--from above. With a start he whirled around--only to find himself facing the sandy side of the ridge, rising high above as if to swallow him up. He glanced upwards. There were two dim shapes silhouetted against the dark blue of the sky and the patterns made by the stars, and he felt his heart leap into his throat.
"Hi!" Derrick, the figure on the right, shouted down, amiably enough. He waved his hand, and in it Damien could see a gun. His other hand was gripping the second figure by the arm--and Damien could see that it was Elise. From as far down as he was he couldn't make out the expression on her face, but he was sure it was as terrified as he felt.
Oh, my God, he thought again.
"Feel like coming up to see us?" Derrick called. He stepped back from the edge of the rise and out of sight, taking Elise with him; Damien's legs started moving, almost of their own volition, to carry him to the sloping, grassy side where he could climb up. He started doing so, scrabbling at the earth, tearing with his fingers, trying to get to the top as quickly as he could.
"He's climbing the side of that rise," Felman informed the others.
"They must be up there, then," Danser muttered. "Come on." He unsnapped the holster for his gun and jogged off through the grass, the others following.
By the time Damien got to the top of the crest he was panting and covered with sweat and grass. The night was unusually warm, warmer than it had been the last time he'd been out there. As soon as he stood up he saw Derrick nearby, still holding Elise's arm. He had the gun pointed at her head, and he frowned and shook his own head as Damien slowly approached.
"I said family reunion," he chided. "Those two police down there certainly don't look like family."
"Leave them out of this," Damien returned. "You said you wanted me, and here I am."
"Dami--" Elise started. The gun pressed against her temple and she bit her lip.
"Don't shoot her," Damien said, his voice low. He held out his hands, palms down. "Let her go and you can take me, just like you asked."
"That's the oldest one in the book." Derrick scowled. "Besides, we have use for both of you. Or more like a need to get rid of you."
"Why?" the singer demanded. "Haven't you done enough already? You threatened a woman and two kids, for God's sake!"
"Don't talk of God around me. It gives me an itchy trigger finger." Even in the dark Damien could tell he truly didn't want to fire the gun--he could tell when people didn't like guns--yet would if pressed. "As for why, you should know by now. Both you and Ms. Elise are liabilities. Scorpio doesn't allow liabilities."
Damien decided to go for broke. "The way they didn't allow your mother?"
Derrick snarled and Elise flinched as the gun ground into the side of her head. "I told you to back off that!" he hissed.
He'd definitely hit a weak spot there. He modified his approach. "Derrick, Scorpio's as much your enemy as it is mine," he pressed, stepping forward carefully but still with his hands held out. Derrick stepped back, taking Elise with him, keeping the distance between them. "They killed your mother. They took away mine. They broke my whole family apart. You don't have to do this. I can see you hate what they did as much as I do."
"That's where you're wrong!" The gun swung up to aim at him; Damien stopped in his tracks. "If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't even be here. I'd probably be a skeleton lying in the weeds. They took care of me. And they'll take care of you, too!"
"Taking care?" Damien was the one to grow angry now, angry that Derrick could believe such things. Behind him he could hear scuffling noises in the grass, and knew the others were climbing up the hill. "This is how you take care? Shooting people because they don't happen to agree with you? Breaking apart someone's family and brainwashing anybody who resists?"
"You call it brainwashing," Derrick said, just as Danser and the others finally appeared. The two police drew their guns. "That's only because you never had the chance to find out what it really is. Careful." He lifted the gun and shook it at the police. "Where you point those things. You shoot me, I shoot her. I suggest you back off."
Danser and Felman didn't move. Damien turned to them and jerked his head to the side. Do what he says. Danser gave him a look that was almost hurt but both he and Felman slowly backed away, lowering their guns.
"Good," Derrick said. "Now, Dami, I promised you a family reunion. The catch is that you have to make a choice. Either Elise or Lucifer. One or the other. Not both." He put the gun back to her head. "Go on. I'll give you a minute to decide. Talk amongst yourselves if you like." He smiled.
A stricken look came over Damien's face. His uncle stepped forward and pulled him back so they rejoined the two cops who still stood with their guns drawn, looking undecided.
"This is crazy," Damien stuttered. "Choose? How can I choose? I can't let either of them go!"
"Find your father," Danser said, his voice determined. The others looked at him. "Felman and I will go for Derrick and Ms. Danbrook."
"He's got a gun, Sergeant!"
"So do we. Look, do you want to see your father or not? You have to find him now if you ever want to!"
"I'm waiting," Derrick called.
Danser glanced at him, then back at Damien. "Tell him you want to see Lucifer first. I promise we won't try anything till he does. But it has to be now or never."
A tense pause. Damien finally nodded and broke away from the huddle, turning back to Derrick and Elise.
Oh God, how can I do this?
Elise's chest was heaving and she looked ready to cry. Seeing the look on her face made choosing the words for what he wanted to say next all the harder.
"I--I want to see him," he said, faintly, his hands up. "I want to see my father."
Derrick smiled slightly. "Good choice." He waved the gun off to his left, indicating where the ridge leveled off--opposite the steep side Damien had climbed--toward a spare stand of trees. "He's waiting for you. I told him all about you and he's pretty eager to meet you."
Is he? Damien felt his heart start to pound faster as he slowly circled the pair to the other side. Everything Elise and Father Damien had led him to believe indicated this wasn't the best choice; what Elise had told him--"You're not your father's son anymore. You're the enemy now"--echoed in his head as he moved toward the trees. What about her? the voice nagged. What about Elise? You're really going to sacrifice her for this--?
But I'm not, he insisted. Danser and Felman will take care of her. I want to see him. After fourteen years--I just want to see him.
Could he get through to him? Had Scorpio really done as good a job as they'd thought? Maybe, if Lucifer saw him, his son, he could change--
He stopped walking as soon as he saw a dim form emerge from the stand of trees. It came to within several yards away and stopped, still cloaked in shadows. Damien peered at it, trying to make out its features, his heart speeding up again.
And that feeling creeping up in his shoulders. He always got that feeling whenever something bad was going to happen, and it had never been wrong before; yet this time he didn't heed it, trying instead to shrug it off. He leaned closer.
"Dad?" he asked, hesitantly. Fourteen years. Would he even recognize him?
After a pause the figure stepped closer so that the moonlight struck it. Damien would have stepped back with surprise if he hadn't been frozen to the spot.
The person who stepped forward bore a great resemblance to him. Just looking at him Damien could tell it must be his father. It was like with his uncle--his eyes were darker and he was older, but the resemblance was there.
They both stared at each other.
"It's--you." He couldn't think of anything else to say.
The person--his father--Lucifer--didn't speak.
Damien took an awkward step forward. "Dad," he whispered. "It's me. Damien."
Still he didn't speak. He only stared back, his dark brown eyes seeming to smolder like two flames even in the dark.
The creeping feeling came back to Damien's shoulders. "Don't you recognize me?" he asked, trying to keep the pleading tone out of his voice. He could sense the others back at the dropoff watching him, yet didn't care. They could stare all they wanted. All he cared about was what he believed he had now. A second chance.
Another long pause. Finally, slowly, Lucifer nodded. Once. And when his voice came, it appeared to hang suspended in the air, never quite completely reaching Damien's ears.
"Yes," he said, his voice just as low as that of his son. "I recognize you."
Damien felt his heart leap in his chest. He knows me! He held out his hand toward his father. Lucifer glanced down at it, then started to put out his own.
Dimly, behind him, Damien could hear Elise struggling. She found her voice and shouted. "Damien! Don't! It's a trick!"
Derrick snarled and yanked her back. Danser and Felman hastily lifted their guns.
Damien didn't listen. He continued holding out his hand, and a moment later Lucifer took it, grasping Damien's fingers in his own. The faintest trace of a smile started to creep up Damien's face. He couldn't believe it--fourteen years! And here he stood, finally face to face with his father, after all this time--he couldn't wait to start talking with him, learning about him, getting to know him, after so long--
He saw a smile creeping up Lucifer's face too, and for a second assumed he was feeling the same thing. But only for a second. For almost immediately after he noticed there was something different about the way his father was smiling--it wasn't a smile that was joyful, or happy, or even wistful. It took him a moment to determine just what it was.
It was triumphant.
Damien's own smile started to vanish.
In a movement so quick Damien didn't even have time to realize what had happened, Lucifer snarled and lunged forward, his other hand balling into a fist and striking Damien in the face. Damien collapsed immediately, blood streaming from his mouth; as he coughed and sputtered with confusion Lucifer dragged him back to his feet. He still hadn't let go of his son's hand, and now Damien could feel his fingers digging into the skin of his palm. He tried to jerk away, too late; Lucifer's fist met him again and he went down a second time, landing face first in the dirt.
"Damien!" Elise cried.
Derrick jerked back, pulling her with him. He made a move for the slope.
"Stop!" Danser shouted, starting to go after him. Felman cast the briefest of glances at Father Damien before following.
Even as Derrick was sliding down the slope feet first, dragging Elise down with him, he pulled something from his pocket and appeared to push a button on it. Elise jerked her head back to shout over her shoulder.
"No! Back! There's another one--"
Felman halted. When Danser kept running he followed again.
Father Damien glanced after their disappearing forms, then back at his nephew. Panic had set in; he knew Danser and Felman would need help if, as Elise said, there was another cultist nearby, whom he assumed Derrick had just contacted; yet Damien also clearly needed his help. But what could he do in either case?--
Pick and choose, pick and choose! How did Damien do it?
Even as he was trying to decide he could tell the two had moved considerably closer. Damien had finally regained his feet but not his hand; he was trying desperately to pull free, yet Lucifer's grip was like that of a boa constrictor. His father's eyes were flashing wildly as he swung at him repeatedly. Each time Damien tried to duck or dodge the blow; but a good number of them were making contact. Father Damien flinched each time he heard Lucifer's fist meet his nephew. Damien wasn't trying to fight back. After all his shows of belligerence, the priest wondered why he chose now to keep his hands and his temper to himself.
Yet even as he thought it he knew why. Lucifer was still Damien's father. No matter what Damien didn't want to hit him--not if he didn't have to. And even though he certainly had to now, he was still refusing to fight back.
"Dad--" he managed to get out, before Lucifer struck him in the face again. He coughed and spat blood; Father Damien winced and wavered nearby. Damien shook his head and tried to speak again, his eyes wide and pleading. "Dad, it's me!"
A low blow to the stomach. Damien gasped and doubled over with pain. Lucifer finally let go of his hand and struck him in the chest with his elbow, sending him tumbling over the edge of the ridge.
"Damien!" Father Damien shouted.
Damien rolled and tumbled all the way down the drop, striking the sand and rocks repeatedly. By the time he hit the bottom he was covered from head to foot in bruises, scratches, and sand. For a moment he couldn't move. Then he lifted his head dazedly, spitting out sand and attempting to get up, with a groan.
Lucifer was at the edge of the ridge before Father Damien could stop him. He pushed himself off and slid down, propelling himself with his hands.
This had gone too far. Father Damien, rather than following, took the more level route, going down the same way Derrick and the others had. He wasn't even sure what had become of the cops, of Elise and the cultist. In any case, he was soon going to find out.
When he reached the bottom he saw that Danser and Felman were still nearby, guns drawn. Derrick still had Elise, and was waving the gun at the air, backing away from the other two.
"If you don't back off I'll shoot her!" he screamed. He looked demented; his eyes were wild, his clothing rumpled and disordered from his slide down the hill. "I've got help waiting for me and you don't want to mess with us!"
"Put the gun down," Danser said, his voice raised but level.
"You put it down!" Derrick shrieked. "Or I'll kill her!"
The screech of tires. The two cops--and Father Damien--jerked their heads around to look. A car was pulling in not too far from the others--and it wasn't a police car.
"What the--" Danser started.
Before he could finish the sentence a man jumped out of the car, wielding a shotgun. He hefted it up and into position, aiming at the group in general.
"You see?" Derrick hissed, grinning insanely. He put the gun back to Elise's head. By now she was crying. "I don't see your backup anywhere, Officers. I think you'd better step down."
"Drop it," Danser repeated himself. He didn't look ready to part with his own gun.
In response Derrick whirled around, yanking painfully on Elise's arm. The motion was so sudden and unexpected the two cops surged forward, guns cocked.
"No!" Elise screamed.
The second cultist swung the shotgun around and fired, the blast ripping through the air and slamming straight into Danser's middle as he ran at Derrick. The police sergeant jerked to a stop, surprise growing on his face. Even as Father Damien and Officer Felman gaped at him he held up his hands, spattered with blood, and blinked at them uncomprehendingly.
"Shit," he breathed. He turned unsteadily to Felman and the second policeman's eyes widened with horror; then he fell forward, grabbing at Felman's arms. They both collapsed together, landing in the grass with a thud.
Felman attempted to sit up, only to find Danser's limp body preventing him from doing so. He stared at his partner for a second, stark panic lining his face--then he started to scream, and scream. He started firing his own gun wildly and randomly at the air.
Father Damien ducked, covering his ears to block out the cop's shattering screams and attempting to dodge the bullets. Derrick, also in a panic, had let go of Elise and run; the second cultist dropped to the ground as one of Felman's bullets hit him in the arm, then got up again, stumbling after Elise, who had fallen to her knees on being let go. She saw him and tried to run but was too late. He grabbed her hand and dragged her back toward the car.
Father Damien started forward to save her, only to find he was also too late. The cultist shoved Elise inside and got in himself, slamming the door and starting the engine with a roar. The tires were squealing again before he could even reach them. He heard a siren and glanced around, confused; there was another car coming up the path, a state car with the lights flashing; it swerved off into the grass when the other car tore past it, and for a second it seemed it was going to go off in pursuit; then whoever was driving apparently saw what was happening in the field, and it kept on coming.
Father Damien turned back to Officer Felman. The other cop was still lying on the ground shrieking. He wasn't trying to get up anymore. Blood stained the front of his uniform and his hands; he was screaming at the air as if mad.
The patrol car screeched to a halt and Officer Jones and another policeman got out, slamming the doors and jogging forward. Jones froze several feet away, his eyes taking in the scene. Father Damien glanced over at him, his face white.
"Holy God," Jones whispered.
There was a strangled cry from the base of the ridge. Father Damien and Officer Jones both looked up. The priest couldn't believe he'd almost forgotten about his nephew. Startled, he dashed off to help him.
Officer Jones cast a quick glance down at Felman, whose screaming was growing weaker. This guy certainly wasn't going anywhere. "See if you can help him and radio for an ambulance," he barked at the other officer, who knelt down to tend to Danser and Felman. Feeling a pang at having to leave them behind, Jones ran off after Father Damien.
The whole time the scene back in the field was taking place, Damien had been taking the beating of his life. Over and over Lucifer struck him in the face, the head, the chest and ribs; finally, in self-defense, Damien swung out and by sheer luck hit him in the jaw, just as he had Danser. His father sputtered and backed away with surprise. He touched his broken lip and peered at the blood, then up at his son--and then he was at him again, screaming mad, his hands wrapped around Damien's throat, jerking him back and forth, strangling the life out of him.
"Da--aaghh--" Damien forced out, trying desperately to pry Lucifer's fingers away from his neck. Lucifer snarled, his grip growing tighter.
"A sacrifice," he snarled down at him; Damien could barely see him anymore, his vision was going dim. "You were to be a sacrifice. An honor! And you throw it away!"
His senses were fading now. He dropped to his knees, his attempts to break loose growing weaker. He could feel his head pounding but it didn't matter anymore. He let out a choked noise, trying to tell this maniac he was his son, he loved and wanted to help him, why was he doing this? Yet Lucifer's eyes stayed as hard and unrecognizable as ever, his lip curled up like that of a rabid dog. Damien could feel his thumbs digging into the sides of his neck, drowsiness tugging at his eyelids.
"You don't deserve to live," his father hissed, his voice deadly soft even as Damien felt himself lose consciousness. "You're nothing but a nonbeliever."
Damien slumped to the ground, his body going limp. Lucifer let go and stared down at him for a second, then grinned savagely, lifted his foot above his son's head--
Bang! Bang! With a start he glanced upward. Father Damien and Officer Jones were coming his way, the policeman holding his gun out before him. The first shot had been a warning, and the second had missed its mark; Lucifer snarled at them as they approached. "I'll see you again someday. You can be sure of it," he whispered viciously to the form lying on the ground, and whirled away, speeding off through the grass. When they reached Damien they both slowed to a stop, Father Damien dropping down beside his unconscious nephew, Officer Jones scanning the field futilely. He couldn't understand it. It was as if Lucifer had simply disappeared.
"Damn it, where did he go?" he barked at the air.
"Damien?" Father Damien was lifting his nephew's head, trying to shake him awake. "Damien, wake up. Can you hear me?"
He quailed; Damien was completely limp and unresponsive. Officer Jones turned back to look down at him; Father Damien doubted the cop had ever seen this much excitement in his life. Immediately he put his gun away and dropped down beside them.
"Is he breathing?" he asked, feeling for a pulse. "Lay him down." Father Damien did so; the policeman listened for any sign of life, then sat up again and, balling his hands, started pressing down on Damien's chest, attempting to force air into his lungs. Before he felt compelled to give him mouth-to-mouth, the singer gasped and started coughing painfully, grabbing for his throat as if Lucifer's hands were still there. He forced open his eyes, which were swollen and red, full of sand. He blinked up at the other two.
"Lu--" He coughed again, a dry, harsh cough. Father Damien helped him sit up, and patted him on the back as he tried to catch his breath. "Da--"
"He ran off," Officer Jones said, keeping an eye on him to make sure he was truly recovering. "We don't know where he went. Are you okay? You look like you took a hell of a pummeling."
Damien continued blinking fiercely, his eyes throbbing and tearing up. He looked around the field. Indeed, Lucifer was nowhere to be seen; far off, nearer the cars, he could see a dim form lying in the grass, wailing feebly, as an ambulance pulled in near the cars. "What--" Another cough. He swallowed and forced himself to speak, albeit brokenly. "Der--Elise--what--(cough)--where--?"
"They're both gone," Father Damien said, his voice soft. "Another member of Scorpio escaped with Elise. Derrick ran away. Danser's--" He cut himself off, also looking uneasily in Felman's direction. "Danser's been shot. It looks bad."
Damien stared at him, the gold of his eyes standing out in stark contrast to the whites, which were now blood red. Father Damien couldn't take his gaze and turned away, instead staring off in the direction Lucifer had disappeared. The three of them were quiet for a long time, the only sounds those of crickets chirping and Felman's weak cries. Red lights flashed over the field, like leaping flames.
"I'm--his son," Damien finally managed to get out, his voice still ragged and broken. The other two looked at him again. He was rubbing his bruised neck, staring at a point somewhere far ahead--the priest couldn't tell if it was sky, or land, or both. "And he--told me I'm nothing but--a nonbeliever."
The other two didn't speak. Hearing the pain, the betrayal in Damien's voice, there was nothing they could say that would take back all that had happened.
Nothing at all.