It's half past six in the evening when a thumping sound on her front porch brings Claire outside and face to face with a large creature. She stares at it, unsure of how to proceed. Sleek black fur, bright blue eyes, and a wagging tail - the source of the thumping sound; the dog is absolutely beautiful, no doubt about it, but Claire's not sure what it's doing on her porch right now. She looks at it and it looks back with those very clever blue eyes, sitting patiently while Claire assess the situation.
A lifetime of oddness makes Claire instantly suspicious.
"And to whom do you belong?" she asks, crouching down to see if the dog has a collar. It doesn't appear to. When she looks it in the eye, its tail wags harder, a rhythmic swish and thump against the old wood of the porch floor. "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" she asks it.
The dog leans forward and noses her hand, flips it over so her palm faces up. The dog kisses it and the tails swishes and thumps even harder. Claire's clinical, rational, suspicious - highly suspicious - brain melts; she scratches its ears.
"She suits you," a familiar voice says from the yard and Claire stands, startled. The dog turns to look at the intruder and a slight mohawk of fur rises on its - correction, on her back.
"A gift from you, I presume?" Claire asks the Devil. A low growl starts in the dog's chest. Claire looks down at her, surprised. She settles her hand on the black head beside her. "Not at all from you."
Lucifer shakes his head. "Not, indeed. I'd wager a guess she's another one of Michael's housewarming gifts."
He steps forward, cautiously, and the dog's growl intensifies. Claire feels like she's vibrating from the sound of it. Lucifer smiles. "A blessed well AND a guard dog. He must truly care about you, Claire."
She eyes him, unafraid but uneasy. "Okay, Lucy - how about you stop acting like a Bond villain and either tell me what you need or get the Hell out of here."
He frowns at her, taken aback. "Are you always so damn difficult?"
"With you, yes."
"Why is that?"
"Because you're Satan and I don't really like you all that much." She smiles sweetly at him.
His frown deepens. "Well that's not terribly nice." He takes another step towards the porch, forgetting momentarily about the guard dog. Her growl echoes around them and he freezes. "It would appear she doesn't like me all that much, either."
Claire smiles down at the dog, who looks up at her with adoration and wags her tail. "She really does suit me, then, doesn't she?" She looks at the Devil. "You were going away, I believe."
He sighs, pulls a red library card - the one she'd given him as a temporary replacement for his own lost card a few months earlier - from his coat pocket and sets it on the bottom step, visibly flinching when the dog lowers her head to glare at him while he moves. Claire bites down a laugh - the Antichrist, reduced to a flinching mess before a black lab.
"I'm just returning that, as promised."
Claire nods. "How very responsible of you."
They watch as the card evaporates in a puff of grey smoke. The dog eyes it herself, curious, her head cocked to the side as she watches the smoke shift and rise.
"Give Hades my regards, please," Claire says.
"Of course," Lucifer responds, all business and professional. "And please tell Michael I said hello the next time you see him. Pass along my compliments on his choice of protection." He stares at the dog, who stares back with those crystal blue eyes. "Have you thought of a name?"
"What scares you the most, Lucy?" she asks.
He pauses to think about it. Eventually, he gives her an answer: "Hope...and small children."*
Claire grins, looks down at the dog. She wags her tail happily. "Well then, Hope it is."
*It's always wise to be scared of small children...even if you're the Devil.