Lucifer: Chapter 23
The End Of The Matter
THE SHARP REPORT of rifles caused several of the people in the crowd to cover their ears against the sound. Damien wasn't one of them. He'd heard guns before and even this many firing at the same time didn't hurt his ears, standing as far away as he was. The bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace" had hurt his ears. He sighed and glanced up at the sky. It wasn't supposed to be this sunny. Sure, it was summer, but it being this sunny after all that had happened--it was almost sacrilegious, in its way.
He'd never been to a police funeral before. He was surprised by the show that was put on, all the cars and guns and people in uniform; it seemed almost like a military hero had died. Instead he heard the blaring of bagpipes, and had seen Sergeant Danser's flag-draped casket carried past by five other police--not six, as the front corner nearest him had been left vacant. Officer Felman was not there.
He turned back to stare at the lines of somber-faced policemen standing nearby. He'd never seen so many in one place. He could recognize the khaki and brown of the county, the navy blue of the city, and the royal blue of the state, as well as several colors which indicated other police from out of town, possibly from neighboring towns in Cheboygan County and even neighboring counties themselves. There must have been at least one or two hundred. He couldn't believe how many had turned up.
"It always goes like this with a policeman's funeral," Father Damien murmured to him. He stood at Damien's side as they watched the proceedings, a little bit away from the rest of the crowd. "They turn up from everywhere. I wonder if they've ever lost anyone in the line of duty up here."
"It's like they just sprang up out of the ground," Damien whispered back, still stunned.
Father Damien nodded. "That's what happens."
Kat, the kids, and the rest of the people who lived at Damien's house were there also, dressed in black. Harvey and Esmeralda looked confused--they had no idea why they were here--yet said nothing. Standing next to the coffin now Damien could see Danser's family--his wife and daughter--and as much as he wanted to go over and tell them how sorry he was he couldn't do it. Not when he felt at least part of the policeman's death had been his fault. Danser and Felman would never even have gotten involved if it hadn't been for him.
He sighed again and turned away as the flag was folded up into a triangle and handed to Danser's wife. It wasn't that he wanted to leave, though he did, a little; it was just he didn't do too well at funerals. Especially ones as dramatic as this. He felt like a red penguin in a sea of somber black feathers. None of the other penguins were looking at him but he certainly felt as if they were. He had difficulty convincing himself that the person he'd punched was now lying in that coffin.
Someone was coming his way. He looked up to see Officer Jones, and lifted his head. Father Damien noticed him too and stepped closer. Jones came up to them, nodding his head silently. He took several steps back closer to the trees, and, taking the hint, they followed.
Damien noted wryly how uncomfortable Officer Jones looked too. He was wearing a royal blue dress uniform and every now and then he would tug at the collar or glance down at the buttons as if inspecting them. He looked back up at the others and didn't quite manage a smile.
"Funerals bring out the worst in me," he murmured, half in apology.
Damien shrugged as best he could. His whole body still ached from its cuts and bruises, and the slight motion caused him to grimace. "They bring out the worst in everybody. Me included." Though apart from his uneasiness at attending and the feeling this was partly his fault he felt rather numb about the whole thing, detached from what was happening. He wasn't sad at all. He supposed that made him feel even guiltier.
"Yeah, well, you're taking it pretty well. I suppose I am too. I wish we all were."
Father Damien seemed to realize what he was getting at, and stepped forward, closing the gap between them. "Where's Officer Felman?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper, though no one outside their circle would have been able to hear them anyway. "I didn't see him when the procession passed."
"Yeah. Felman." Officer Jones uncomfortably tugged at his uniform again. "They took him to the hospital with Danser." A lot of good that did, Damien thought, when the policeman had been DOA. "He wasn't doing that good. I heard they had him brought to Northampton."
Father Damien said nothing, looking shocked. Damien glanced at him, then at the officer, without understanding. "Northampton? What's that?"
They both looked at him and he felt like squirming away for not knowing. Jones cleared his throat and stared at the trees.
"It's this--uh--institution in the Upper Peninsula," he explained, haltingly.
Now Damien's eyes widened. "They had him institutionalized?"
"That's a strong word," Officer Jones was quick to say. "It was voluntary. He was sa--intelligible enough to agree when they suggested he go there. He wasn't in very good shape." The cop let out a miserable sigh. "Then again, having your partner dying right on top of you can do that, too."
He fell silent and looked away. The other two didn't say anything either. Damien felt shock at what had become of Officer Felman, yet the numbness over Danser's situation just wouldn't go away. He tried to fight it off--it was wrong to feel such nothing at a funeral--but couldn't. He wished he could feel at least some emotion over that, besides that nagging guilt, which wasn't the same thing at all.
For God's sake, why am I so messed up? Why can't I feel like normal people do at funerals--?
Officer Jones tried to force another smile, fiddling with the buttons on the front of his uniform. "Well, I better get going back before they miss me. I wanted to let you know what's happened before you found out any other way. Jeez, I just can't believe this. It all happened so fast. It hasn't even sunk in all the way yet. I keep telling myself Danser's gonna be back at work in the morning, and Felman's gonna be there taking his notes."
Damien felt a mental start. The cop was just as confused inside as he was. Then it wasn't just him. Before he could say anything to that effect Jones nodded at them and touched a hand to the bill of his hat, turned, and went back to the other gathered police.
For a long time neither he nor his uncle spoke. The funeral went on and on. Finally, when it was over and the police were starting to drift away, talking quietly amongst each other and stepping off through the cemetery, Father Damien touched his nephew's shoulder and they turned to the gate to leave.
Felman's gone and Danser's dead, the voice in Damien's head said, almost the refrain to a morbid song. Elise and Derrick have vanished. She's probably dead too. My dad may as well be. And it's all over.
So how come I can't convince myself it really is?
"Why do I keep telling myself this isn't over yet?" Damien murmured out loud.
Father Damien glanced at him, then back at the ground. "Maybe because like me you know it isn't."
The singer looked up at him, wanting to ask what he meant by that but unable to form the words. It was always harder asking a question when you knew the answer already.
Damien's and Father Damien's cars pulled in at Damien's house later that day. Harvey and Ez jumped out and dashed off inside, quickly forgetting the imposed solemnity of the funeral; Kat followed to make sure they didn't get into any trouble. Damien watched them as his uncle came up beside him again, crossing his arms.
"Well," he said, sighing and rubbing his eyes, "I suppose I should be taking them back now. They've probably been bugging you enough. I only have a few more days left with them anyway."
Damien turned to face him. "What do you mean, a few more days? I thought they were staying with you."
The priest shrugged and shook his head. "Only for part of the summer while the authorities are looking for good placement homes. There aren't that many around here to choose from."
Damien frowned. "You mean they're gonna be broken up? They get along like brother and sister."
Another shrug. "I would take them in, but you can see I'm not very good taking care of kids all by myself. Especially two little ones like that."
He received a crooked smile from his nephew and paused. "You're up to something, Dami. I don't know if I like it."
"I was just thinking you might have a little trouble taking them home with you. Seems they're getting used to it here. And I think Luce is taking a shine to them."
Father Damien started. "Lucifer--?"
"No. My brother Lucifer." The priest relaxed, but looked puzzled. "While we've been busy with everything he and Kat and the others've been having fun with the two. They really like it upstairs." He shrugged and grinned. "I don't know, Uncle. You might have to drag them off kicking and screaming."
For a moment Father Damien didn't speak. "You want to take them in?" he finally asked, incredulous.
His nephew shook his head. "I could never take care of kids. You see how things go with me. But my brother, on the other hand...well, maybe he could use a teeny bit of convincing, but..."
"You think he'll adopt them?" Father Damien still couldn't believe it. "Just like that? Dami, you have to understand that's a huge responsibility, two kids--"
"They've been doin' fine here so far, haven't they? Plus, with all the people living in there, if someone's absent another one can take over. Heck, go ahead and call it dysfunctional, but Harvey and Ez seem to like it already." He put on a false pompous air, placing a hand on his chest. "It's not every day that one gets to live with one's favorite pop star."
Father Damien couldn't keep a straight face anymore. He started laughing and pushed Damien's arm, but only slightly because of his bruises. Damien grinned back. "Well, you just try and convince your brother of this. I suppose Harvey and Ez will be staying with you tonight, while I just go home all alone."
"Why? Wouldn't you love to have an old-fashioned sleepover? Just like the old days...."
"What old days? You've never been to a sleepover in your life."
"Yeah, well, never really got the chance, did I?"
His smile was a little bit strained, as there was a pretty good reason he'd never gotten the chance. Father Damien's own smile seemed somewhat wistful. He squeezed Damien's arm lightly.
"Maybe another time we'll all get the chance. Right now I have to get going. I'll drop by later with some of the kids' things. If they're going to be staying over, I think they might need them."
Damien nodded. He didn't think it would take much "convincing" to get his brother to take the two in. The others in the house were starting to like them too much, and they got along so well together, even with their arguing. He couldn't stand the thought of them being separated. They seemed too close for that.
Just like brother and sister....
He watched as his uncle got back in the station wagon, honking as he pulled out the drive. Damien waved until it was out of sight, then turned to go back into the house.
Late at night, he lay back in bed, staring at the ceiling as he had so many times before. He hadn't had any bad dreams; in fact, he hadn't slept at all. He just hadn't been able to. He usually went to bed late anyway, and it was only after one, but sleep wouldn't come. He'd never felt more awake.
He wondered if it was still his feelings about Danser's funeral and what had happened to Felman, to Derrick and Elise, and most of all Lucifer.... Maybe it was his confusion over the whole situation. He couldn't believe everything had happened so fast. That was probably why he'd felt so numb. Like Jones he hadn't had time to let it all sink in either.
He did know one thing, though. He knew he'd given up his hope of helping his father. He'd seen the look in Lucifer's eyes when his fist had been coming straight at his face. It wasn't the look any father should give his son. It was the look of a total stranger. A stranger who'd wanted to kill him.
Derrick and Elise had been right. Even Danser had been right. They'd all been right. His father was gone, and this was what was left. An enemy. There was nothing he could do to change it, no matter how hard he thought he tried. As far as Lucifer was concerned, his son was only and nothing but a nonbeliever.
Of course he hadn't been able to hear Elise's words inside the Scorpio compound, but he knew that death to all nonbelievers was certainly true. As long as his father was alive, Damien was going to be the enemy. The prey.
He still held on to one slim thread of hope. There was his mother. She was still in there, and according to all Elise had told him, she still cared. She still wanted out. And as long as she was alive he had to keep up the hope that he could help her.
There had to be some way.
He sighed and turned over, burrowing his head into the pillow and staring at the clock. He could finally feel his eyelids drooping, now that he didn't want to go to sleep. Was everything against him? All he wanted to do was try to think of a way to get to her. Even if it was only to send her a message. Just to let her know he was still out there, caring about her.
Something hit his window. He snorted and sat up abruptly, looking around. The moon was shining in, leaving a block pattern on the floor. He listened. Nothing.
He lay back down. As soon as he shut his eyes the plink came again.
He gave an irritated growl and sat up, turning on his lamp and moving to the window, opening it and looking outside.
"Hey!" he shouted at the dark, his echo bouncing off the trees. "Enough's enough, okay? You might think this's a funny joke but I'm not laughing and I'm not going to!"
Silence. He glanced around, then down below his window. With some puzzlement he noticed there was something lying in the grass. He searched again, trying to find something with which to reach it. A long stick was leaning against the house; he supposed either Harvey or Ez had put it there while playing. Reaching over and grabbing it, he jabbed it down at the thing, and was further puzzled when he heard a tearing sound.
He pulled the stick inside. Impaled on the end was a small folded piece of paper. He pulled it off and unfolded it, holding it underneath his lamp so he could read what it said. He had to smooth over the rip he'd put in it. The words were scrawled across the paper, as if written hastily.
Not much time to write. Have to keep moving. Managed to slip away and wanted to let you know I'm okay. Don't worry about me. I've made it this far and I can still keep on keeping on. Was so sorry to hear about Danser. It's my fault. If I keep away, maybe the bad luck will leave you and follow me. I can take it.
Don't give up, Dami. I won't if you won't. I know for a fact Lilith loves you and your family. Maybe it just wasn't meant that you and your father should meet. Someday, though...
Have to go now. They're probably looking for me and this is one place they'll keep an eye on. Don't worry about that either. They won't go after you. Not yet. But please be careful from now on. They're still out there, and you've angered them.
I wish it all could have been different somehow but wishes don't help. Maybe I'll see you again someday.
Damien glanced up, wildly scanning the darkness outside his window. He dropped the note and leaned over the sill, yelling into the night.
The shout echoed off the trees again, coming back to him from all sides as if mocking him, refusing to travel outward. Other than that there was no reply.
He didn't shout again. He stared off into nothing, straining his eyes, trying to differentiate between shadows and moonlight, leaves that moved and other things....
He saw nothing that shouldn't be there. After a long while he brought his head back in, pushing the window down with a scrape and a click and retrieving the note. He sat down on the edge of the bed, the paper crumpling in his grip. Then he lay back again and stared at the floor beside his bed, studying the wavering patterns etched by the moonlight against the carpet. After what seemed like forever his eyes finally closed, and he slept.