Claire isn't entirely sure how it happened, and if asked she'll chalk it up to Irish luck or something equally implausible, but she, crazy Claire Rogers who talks to herself in the quad at lunch and who, occasionally, breaks into long streams of Aramaic, has a date.
A real one, with a real boy. Or man. Or minion. He could, conceivably, be a minion. She has that kind of luck.
"What if he's a minion?" she says to her roommate, Veronica. Her voice is muffled by the closet. She pulls her head out and frowns. "I have nothing to wear."
"Well," Veronica drawls, her eyes never leaving the page of the magazine in front of her, "if he's a demon then it doesn't really matter what you wear."
"What's the difference?"
"I'm not really sure, but I think it has something to do with the number of evil deeds performed in a workday."
Veronica looks up from the magazine and one sculpted eyebrow arches up over one violet colored eye. There's a calm expression on her face, but Claire can tell she's having a hard time keeping her comments to herself. Veronica half smiles, the left corner of her mouth quirking up in surrender of Claire's "alternative" lifestyle.*
"Wear the green dress, the one you bought at Macy's for that Christmas party we never went to."
Claire looks in the closet, sees the dress, and immediately remembers why they didn't make it to that particular party that particular evening. "I apologized for that, right?"
Veronica smiles and her eyes go back to the magazine. "You did, but it wasn't a problem. I'd never been to Alberta in winter."
"God, that was cold," Claire says, shivering at the memory.
* * *
His name is Leonard Hart and he's an architecture graduate student from somewhere in the midwest. He looks like the love child of a farm boy and Brad Pitt and Claire, in all her post-Armageddon-realization horniness is having a very hard time not jumping him in the waiting line at the restaurant.
She can practically hear God's voice chanting in her ear.
I will not jump my date in public...I will not jump my date in public...
"What did you say you were studying?" Leonard asks when they're finally sitting at their table and Claire shakes her head to clear all inappropriate thoughts before attempting to talk, lest she open her mouth and a comment about his absolutely gorgeous ass come spilling out.
His farm boy face lights up with a smile. "You mean I'm on a date with a sexy librarian?"
Men this attractive do not ask Claire out on dates. Men who look as though they've never left their mothers' basements and who often have imaginary conversations with people Claire cannot physically see (and she can often see imaginary persons) ask her out. So the fact that there's an incredibly attractive man seated across from her calling her a sexy librarian is just enough to make Claire wonder if it's possible to spontaneously combust.**
"It looks like it," she says with a smile.
They order drinks - hers is a Tom Collins and his is a scotch, a nice one, nearly 50 years old - and talk a little more about where they came from, where they're hoping to go. In fact, they're getting along so well that Claire actually starts to feel normal for once in her life. She's envisioning Sunday mornings spent reading the newspaper in bed while her super hot farm boy boyfriend makes coffee in the kitchen.
In this scenario, Claire isn't a prophet of God. Instead she's a librarian. A sexy one. With glasses.
But then Leonard coughs and Claire catches a whif of brimstone and all wonderful, fluffy thoughts fly out the window as she realizes the super cute, super adorable man sitting across from her is a minion. Either that, or he's swallowed half a dozen charcoal brickets before dinner.
"Sonovabitch," Claire says and Leonard pauses, his glass of scotch halfway to his lips.
She frowns at him, instantly aware of exits and escape plans. She doesn't get along with little Lucy's henchmen, especially the pointed ones.
"You're a minion," she says and his mouth opens in suprise, "aren't you?"
Leonard seems to shake out of his surprise, brings the glass all the way up to his lips and finishes the remaining scotch in one long sip. He sets the empty glass on the table, rests his forearms in front of him and leans forward slightly.
"Let me guess: you're a prophet?" Claire nods and he hangs his head. "I should have known."
"Should have known what?" Claire's a minute or so away from realizing one of her lifetime goals of having a hysterical fit in public.
"That it was too good to be true." He leans back in his chair, motions for the waiter. "I knew there was something off about you."
Claire is relatively new to dating, having spent the better part of her adult life thus far in the service of God, but she does know that in this scenario, she isn't the strange one.
"Something off about me?" She throws her napkin on the table. "You're one to talk, considering you're evil."
"Excuse me, but that's mostly a matter of opinion."
"You're a minion of Lucifer," she says. "Of course you're evil."
His head snaps up and his (gorgeous, simply gorgeous) green eyes go wide. "You thought that because I was a minion, I worked for Satan?" he asks, offended. Claire nods and he snorts in disbelief, creating another small cloud of brimstone. "That's profiling and it's just plain rude."
"You work for Hades, then?" she asks and he nods. "What are you doing up here?"
"Persephone just got home, so he gave us all the month off. I'm finishing up my degree."
Claire spends a few seconds processing the fact that he's a minion finishing a Master's Degree - they may be an annoying bunch, but even the undead have a right to an education - before moving onto the fact that he works for Hades and not Lucifer. She really should have figured that one out, considering he doesn't have any visible horns. All of Lucifer's minions wear a terrible toupee of some sort so they can cover up their nubby horns. It makes them very hard to take seriously.
"I suppose, then, that I owe you an apology," Claire says. She hates being wrong, yet another terrible personality trait she's learned from God.
"Yes, you do," Leonard says and while his face looks serious there's a hint of amusement in his voice that makes Claire smile.
"Look, you work for Her long enough and you start stereotyping everyone and everything. I should have realized you weren't evil."
"The hair?" he asks.
She shakes her head. "Your name is Leonard and your jacket has elbow patches."
The farm boy smile lights up his face and Claire's legs tingle. This time, God's voice is chanting He's evil, don't sleep with him, and Claire is pointedly ignoring it.***
"How about dessert and a cup of coffee?" Leonard asks.
Claire weighs the pros and cons.
Pros: he's ridiculously attractive, he finds her attractive, and there's every indication she could get lucky if she plays her cards right.
Cons: he works for one of the founding members of Hell, Hades & Purgatory, Ltd, and most probably has coffee with Satan at least once a week.
To be honest, it's a fairly balanced list. Then he smiles again and Claire's legs tingle and her hormones tip the pro scales.
"Dessert and coffee sounds good," she says. "Breakfast sounds better."
"Check please!" He stands, holds out his hand. "Best apology ever," he whispers as he pulls her to her feet, then he rests his hand on her lower back and this time it isn't just Claire's legs that tingle.
*Understatement of the year. Being a Goth is "alternative". Being a Prophet of God is "super crazy nutso".
** Claire knows that it's possible, thanks to that one night in Florida two years earlier. Not even minions, who toil in the ridiculously hot sub-levels of the Pearly Gates, can withstand the heat of August in Florida. Interesting bit of trivia: minions don't just die when they overheat - they explode. Kaboom. No amount of dry cleaning will get exploded minion nastiness out of a silk dress.
*** Someday, God will regret the immense impact She's had on Her favorite prophet, especially when it comes back to bite Her in Her holy ass.