Rodney Skinner sat with his back against a wall, nursing both an injured nose and wounded pride.
Mina Harker stood just inside the doorway. She looked around carefully, but of course she couldn't see him. "Skinner? Was that you?"
"No, it was some other invisible guy," grumbled Skinner. "What was that for? I didn't even do anything!"
Her eyes radiated amusement. "Sorry. I heard something outside my door..."
"...and swung it open viciously!" finished Skinner. "I mean, I know I'm a thief, but for crying out loud! It's not like we're under attack! You don't need to...to...surprise assassins or anything!"
"Sorry," she said again. He could tell she didn't really mean it. There was an undercurrent of laughter in her voice. "Are you okay?"
"Huh. Like you care."
"Skinner!" she said, exasperated. He could be so difficult sometimes. She just hoped he wasn't going to sulk. "Of course I care."
"So that's why you're laughing? That's what you do when companions are hurt?"
"Well..." She hesitated. He had her there. "...no. Technically you don't. But you HAVE to admit, it was funny!"
"To you maybe. You're not sitting here with a bashed in nose!"
"Aw, poor baby," she said scathingly. "I didn't open the door THAT hard."
"Huh, that's what you think."
"Is it bleeding?"
Skinner looked up sharply. Did she mean...? No. She WAS a vampire, but she had her dignity. "No, it's not. No thanks to you."
"If it's not bleeding, then it's fine. And you can stop whining like I mortally injured you!"
"I am not whining!" he said indignantly. "You can't tell me you wouldn't be a little upset if someone swung a door in your face!"
"I'd be peeved..."
"...but I wouldn't sit there sulking!"
"Sulking! I am not sulking!"
"Oh, this is great. First you try and knock me out, then you laugh at me, then you accuse me of sulking! Fantastic."
Mina rolled her eyes. "You can be such a dramatic, you know. If you've finished your tirade, would you like me to check if your nose is fine?"
"No. I'll be right. Anyway," he added mournfully. "If it was broken and healed crooked, who would notice?"
"Being invisible has its advantages, doesn't it?"
"Advantages! You call not being able to see your own nose an advantage?"
Mina shrugged. "At least no one would notice, like you said."
"Yeah, but that's not necessarily a good thing. I mean, being constantly overlooked isn't that wonderful."
She looked where she thought Skinner was sitting curiously. She seemed to have touched a raw nerve. "But you're a thief. Being overlooked is kind of important."
"Sure, when you're stealing or sneaking, it's fine. But being invisible every hour of every day? It's a bit tiring."
A sigh came from the apparently empty patch of air. The female vampire was astounded. Skinner was showing a side seldom seen. Maybe the door had hit his head rather hard?
"It could be worse. Being a vampire isn't easy either."
"Yeah, I know. I'm just one freak of many. But at least you can have a decent conversation with someone. When people talk to me, they often get carted away to the nuthouse, accused of talking to themselves. No one believes them when they say they've actually got an invisible friend." He chuckled. "But I can sure have a lot of fun in crowds. Lots of innocent lovely ladies..."
Mina raised an eyebrow. Skinner was obviously regaining his composure, covering up the bit he had revealed with jokes and witticisms.
"True. Well, if you're okay...?"
"Yeah. I'll be hobbling off to annoy someone else." There was the sound of someone slowly climbing to their feet. "See ya later, Lady of the Evil Door."
"Bye, O Invisible Whinger."
Skinner casually walked down the hallway. When he was sure he was out of ear-shot, he stopped and banged his head against a wall. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why had he said all that? Now the lovely Mina would think he was depressed and start acting all caring. He didn't want anybody's pity. He dealt with his feelings alone.
Oh well. Nothing he could do now. He'd just have to brush off any kindly attempt and be twice as irritating as usual.
The invisible man strolled back to his room. Unfortunately, he bumped against Nemo's door. It made a sound much like someone trying to sneak in.
The last thing Skinner saw, before he was knocked unconscious, was a wooden door rushing for his face.