A/N: After a long disappearance, I have returned with a short story which is not serious in the least and is playful in the extreme. But I might have lied. It's a really long one shot, so I'm putting it up in two chapters. The next will be up next Saturday.
That's besides the point. I hope you all enjoy this, because I wrote it instead of finishing my college applications.
This is awkward,September thought. Extremely awkward. How do I get myself into these situations?
"The thing is," she ventured, "I didn't really mean to, um, sign up for this. I sorta did it by accident."
The one other person in the room paid her no attention - the same amount of money she'd realized would be forthcoming. The ad reading "Excellent opportunities," in the local journal had apparently been alluding to life ones, not monetary compensation.
"So . . ." she trailed, hoping the man would speak up, or at least imply he'd heard her. He didn't, instead keeping his head down. It was a nice shaped head, with a nice shaped face to go along with it and what she imagined was rather soft, silk like blond hair, but he was twenty-two and haughty and she was positive her mom wouldn't approve of this right now.
"Are you going to take off your clothes or not?" the artist said in a bored, elegant voice, leaning back against the white wall. He looked like he should be the subject of a drawing, not her, formed as he was of sharp lines and angles. Even his lounging was beautiful, as he leaned off his bench, resting his head against the off white wall, his black clothes in stark contrast.
"Couldn't you say 'disrobe' or something slightly less offensive?" September muttered under her breath, unable to look away from the artist.
Okay, she was going to be strong, and stand up for herself, and not get naked in front of a stranger even if he was a famous French artist. He should go back to Paris and paint girls that expected to strip on a second's notice, not decent Florida school girls. Yeah. She'd tell him
"I don't have all day, you know," he drawled, examining his fingernails. She knew that look, had seen her cousin examining her nails constantly as if they might fall off if she spared attention for anything else. After a moment where the air was tangible with his irritation, he picked up his sketchpad, posed his pencil over it, and looked at September expectantly.
In turn, she looked around the room. It was small, about fifteen by fifteen feet, all off-white, even the ceiling and floor. There was no furniture except for the small bench the artist sat on and the step stool September stood on. The door was to her right. The light was a single bulb a bit in front of her. Her knee length coat, almost unneeded protection in the warm winter, was crumpled sadly in a corner
"I didn't think you were going to draw me naked," she finally blurted out, none of the eloquent phrases she'd turned over in her head managing to make it up her throat and out of her mouth intact. She was, in fact, glad she hadn't stammered and said something like "naked me draw."
The artist looked up, still bored, and she wondered if they taught him that look at artist school. Lid your eyes and flatten your lips and turn up your nose at the mere mortal, she thought angrily.
"It was in the ad," the artist said as if she was a dim-witted child, which she might be convinced of after another few patronizing comments.
"Sorry, I guess I didn't read the small print," September said, jumping off the stool. "I honestly did not know you wanted me to be, uh, nude until, um, you said so. I thought you did portraits. Of the face, or something. So I'll just be going now." She snatched up her coat, slipping her arms into the dark green wool.
"This is ridiculous," the artist said, suddenly sitting up. The bored expression was still pasted on his face, but now it looked as if it truly was pasted there, and that there was a true emotion underneath. "People audition, compete to be drawn by me and now a mere skimpet of a girl is walking out?"
"I don't think 'skimpet' is a word. At least, not in English," September pointed out, feeling a little guilty. Or French either, but she assumed he knew that.
He stood up, his board and paper falling to the ground. "You," he said pointing a finger at her, "are impossible."
"Sorry," September muttered.
"No, you are not," he corrected, putting clenched fists on his hips. "You are an impertinent skimpet of a girl." He glared at her as if daring her to correct him.
She didn't. "Bye," September said, and hurried out into the wind.
So next time I want a job I'll just check out CVS like all the normal kids, she thought, pulling her coat around her, more for comfort then for warmth. The ends beat at the back of her knees in soothing rhythm with each step she took. No more three line ads, no matter how enticing the font and how easy standing for a picture sounded. From now on, she was a strictly cashier kind of girl. No more Entertainment books or posing or answering fascinatingly worded advertisements that turned out to mean no more than reading to the elderly. No more fast artistry where she painted the three "m" birds on mass produced paintings in an assembly line.
It wasn't as though September needed employment. She had her allowance and her Christmas and birthday money tided her through the year, and her parents were content to spend a reasonable amount on her. It was the lure of a job that drew her, the ability to support herself, and moreover, the oddly worded classified that promised more then they lived up to. September had though a job would be exciting, a place to meet new people and become something.
Grumbling to herself over false advertising, September moved quickly through the back streets. Her appointment with the Frenchman had been for five o'clock, but he had kept her waiting outside the rented room until seven, finishing up a drawing of another girl, this one obviously a model, the epitome of all things tall and skinny and flat. September had been ready to skip out until the model reassured her the artist was decent and polite as she made her way out. September couldn't help being suspicious, full as the town was with rumors of the three disappearances. They had all been near eighteen, September's age, and all with dark hair and large dark eyes as she had. All had been kidnapped after dark.
So it was with the tiniest bit of trepidation that September hurried through the streets. She hadn't meant to be out this late, and it had seemed ridiculous to call someone when her house was barely four minutes away. It would have been different if she has her parents to call, but they were out of town for the night, and bothering anyone else was too impractical.
She still breathed a sigh of relief when she reached her well-manicured neighborhood of sprawling one story houses with pools and porches. Christmas lights decorated every house with cheery lights and lit up Santas, reindeers frolicking on the bright green grass. A friend from up north had once commented that Florida tried to make up for its lack of snow with as many holiday decorations as possible. Even the neighborhood's mailboxes were rimmed in lights, as was the news board next to it. September relaxed considerably as she neared them, then brightened as she saw several papers pinned under the "Job Opportunities" part of the board.
Not, she quickly assured herself, that was interested in another job. This one had just proven how stupid they turned out to be, and hadn't she just promised she was working at normal places from now on? She could try out Disney World, like the rest of the kids in her school. Not that bagging souvenirs for tourists who switched from overeager to disdainful at the drop of a hat sounded like fun.
Besides, she reasoned with herself, it couldn't hurt to just look at the board.
Employees wanted for Casten Inc.
Bored of bagging at the local grocers?
Looking for something more meaningful then an after school joke?
Something well-paying, exciting, experimental?
Don' take our word for it - call us at 555-7648,
Or visit at 32 Burlington Rd
Wow, September thought, impressed. That was exactly what she was looking for. Something meaningful and exciting - not to mention well-paying. It was a sign, she decided, that she had found this just when she had given up hope in ever finding interesting work. There was even one single brochure left in the plastic holder, waiting for her. She was meant to have this job.
Then a hand took the pamphlet.
"Hey!" she said indignantly, turned around and finding her nose at chest level. She scowled upward. "That's mine! I found it first!"
"I took it first," the new person said, holding it out of her reach.
"Yeah, well, that's cheating," she responded, stung, then crossed her arms. She refused to jump up and down like an idiot, trying to capture the paper.
He grinned slowly, as if he could see her sulking thoughts growing in her mind. "Sorry. Survival of the fittest and all that."
Great, September thought, just great. This guy was going to steal the most interesting job in the world, and even if she called up, they'd still hire this guy. Who would pick a short girl with wild curls over him? He had a wiry frame that was sickeningly laden with confidence, even if it was only a head taller than her - just an inch or so under six feet.
"You better be careful," she abruptly warned.
He gave her a look that spoke a paragraph about stupid chicks with stupid ideas, and conveyed a lot of eye rolling as well. "And why is that?" he asked, humoring her.
"You have black hair and dark eyes."
He looked as though he wanted to patronizingly pat her head. "Most Hispanics do."
"They're looking for us," she told him, because even if he was a job-stealing creep, he was her age and had the right coloring to be taken.
"What?" he asked.
"You know," she hissed. "The three kids that have been kidnapped in the last two months. They're all like us."
"Dark hair and eyes makes an 'us'? So this is, oh, every African, Asian, and like a third of everyone else?" He ginned. It made his face light up. Not that she was noticing.
She paused, thinking up a retort, and was then sidetracked. "A third? Where'd you get that?"
"I made it up," he admitted with a shrug.
"Oh," she said, and they shared a grin.
"Anyway," she said when the awkward moment after the moment of mutual attraction passed, "You can't apply for that job."
He raised his eyebrows and she had the sudden premonition he was going to say "watch me."
"Watch me," he said smugly.
Resisting the need to stamp her foot, she frowned up at him. "I found it. And they'll never hire me if they interview you. You look too put together, too - nice," she said disgustedly. "All responsible."
"You look nice," he said, biting his lip - probably to keep from laughing.
"And I am, but I give off the 'kid' air, while you give off the 'adult' one, so they'd hire you. I hate it. It's cheating."
There was no hiding it. He was laughing at her. "Sorry?" he offered with a grin.
"Forget it," she mumbled, turning, back to the board. "I'll find something else."
Never mind that she had sworn off unique jobs less than an hour ago.
"Aha!" she cried triumphantly, pointing at a small, handwritten ad and making a face at the boy. "I found one."
"Good for you," he said in a humor-laced voice.
" 'Wanted: one strong individual with unique talents,'" she read. "Wow, the want ads are really getting vaguer and vaguer these days, aren't they? 'An out-of-this-world experience. Great benefits; for the furtherment of science. We will keep looking for the right match to this unusual commitment. Night shifts welcome. Everyone invited in.'" She smiled up at him. "There. I found my own weirdly worded ad." She shrugged. She was used to getting strange jobs and then quitting.
"What?" she said when she realized the boy was staring at the ad her finger was still pinned on, his face tensed. "What's the matter?" She spun around. "Are the kidnappers here?"
"You can't have that job," he said, his voice slightly strangled.
She made an insulted face at him. "Are you kidding? You all ready took one. This is mine!"
"Uh, no." September gave him a wide, false smile, the ad suddenly made more attractive now that he wanted it. "This would be for me."
"It's for me."
"Give it up," she snorted derisively, neatly folding the paper and tucking it into her pocket.
"No, I mean it was put out for me. They're looking for me."
"Right, like I'm so stupid I'd believe that."
"You'd be stupid to try to accept the ad," he said, his face slowly creasing in a mix of anger and warning.
"Ya-huh," she murmured, then waggled her fingers. "Think I'll go interview."
"What? Now?" he said, stepping in front of her and looking alarmed.
"It's barely nine, and they liked night people." She stepped around him and started walking, with the boy keeping pace beside her, scowling.
"You should go during the day."
"What, so you can get there first?"
"What about the kidnappers you were afraid of?" he asked desperately, walking backwards so he could stay in front of her as she strode towards the note's address.
She smiled, pleased. "Like I have to worry when you're coming along to protect me?"
'This is ridiculous."
"Is not," September said just to be contradictory. She scanned the boy up and down as he walked in front of her until he tripped in a pot hole, stumbling. She caught his wrist hurriedly, laughing as he flushed and swiped his hair out of his face. "What's your name?"
"Brian," said, and hopped a bit to rub at his ankle. "You?"
"Like the month?"
Why did everyone always ask that? She wondered, exasperated. "No, like the planet."
"You're a funny kid," he said, a hint of a grin on his face as he now walked alongside her.
She prickled and started to walk again, noting that they had passed from the nicer neighborhoods into slightly, well, sketchier ones, making her glad the boy had followed her. "I'm not precisely a 'kid,' if you didn't notice."
He grinned, more shiny white teeth peeking out. "Oh, I noticed."
Inwardly, she glowed. Outwardly, she shot him a look to convey absolute disgust with the teenage male's fixated mind. "Why do you need a job, anyway?"
"To support my seven brothers and sisters who are living in a falling apart house on the outskirts of Miami," he said with a straight face.
Joke or not? September wondered, narrowing her eyes at him. Either she could mortally insult him by assuming the first, or come off as stupid for not laughing.
Political correctness is stupid, she thought grumpily.
"My mom's name is Maria," he added helpfully.
"Okay, now you're lying."
He laughed. "Why do you want a job? No offense, but you look like you should be at the mall picking out purses."
"I like the excitement."
He looked wryly amused at her expense. "You'll find the wrong kind of excitement answering this ad."
"Well - I want to find it," September said lamely. When she glanced over at the boy to see how he took her stunning retort, he was silently laughing. Why did everything she do amuse him? She wondered with a frown. Really. She was a serious person, with many serious aspects, who ought to be taken, um, seriously.
"Oh, good," she said, relieved to be interrupted from her babbling thoughts, as though they could be overheard. "This is the address. And it's so - so - dark." She winced. "It was the most complementary thing I could think of," she offered to Brian, feeling the need to explain.
His regular good-humor was missing from his voice when he answered. "You seem to have nailed it."
They had come to the end of a street, several neighborhoods away from September's in orderliness as well as distance. Everything was dark and crowded and dirty, and the building they stood in front of appeared to be crumbling as well.
"You know what," September said, her voice small, "You can have this job after all." How embarrassing, to argue over a stupid ad and then realize that she wouldn't touch it with a stick. She looked to Brian, expecting him to be laughing again.
Instead his face was set in a frown, his mouth a grim line. "We better go," he said, taking her arm and turning around. "This probably isn't your type of work."
"I'm going to have to agree," she admitted, and spared a moment for an inner yelp of joy that his hand was on her arm. Brilliant! The night had not been wasted; she'd met a cute boy. Oh, good. That was practically as good as a job.
Then she remembered the abductions.
"Oh, no," she moaned. "The kidnappers! This is exactly the kind of place a bad guy would live, all ugly and gray and full of rats."
"Have you seen any rats?"
"Um, no . . . But I'm sure they live here. On principle." She was shaking. This was exactly the wrong situation to be in.
"We better go."
September couldn't agree more.
"You aren't going anywhere."
September blinked. "Um, Brian, you didn't just happen to voice an extremely cheesy line in a falsely deep voice, did you?"
"Nope," he said grimly, "and I'm guessing you're not prone to mimicking cartoon villains."
"Using my wonderful deductive reasoning," September squeaked, "I'm going with we're not alone."
It was, undoubtedly, the kidnappers.
Six men stepped out of the shadows, four from the darkened building, and two from behind him. All were cloaked in black, with silver crucifixes dangling on their chests. A strong scent rose from them, as they slowly circled around the two teenagers, their hands reaching out towards the others, not quite touching. The smell strongly reminded September of . . . of fresh cut greens. Italian restaurants. And bread. Garlic bread?
"Did they perfume themselves with garlic?" she hissed to Brian in amazement. "What, are they nuts? Don't they read the comics? You eat too much of that stuff and your breath is lethal. God, what kind of idiot kidnaps right after dinner?"
"I don't think they just had dinner," Brian said quietly, angling himself so that he could see each of the cloaked men in turn.
She rolled her eyes, then hurriedly fastened them on the enemy again. "Let me guess - they really did get themselves garlic perfume. What losers."
Brian grinned at her. "You're sort of cute, you know?"
She was momentarily at loss for words.
Only momentarily, of course, but it was long enough for her to duck her head before plowing onwards. "Why would they do that? And more to the point, why are they slowly closing in on us? What do they want?"
One of the cloaked men, responded. He was slightly closer to them then the others, and slightly taller.
September noticed that the height was only due to extremely thick-soled boots that almost classified as platforms.
"You know very well why we are here," the man answered.
"Uh, no," September hedged. "No, we don't."
Brian stayed silent.
"So do you mind if we just sort of - leave?" she half-pleaded, looking up at the man even as she moved away from him. In the back of her mind she realized she and Brian were being herded into the building, but her main dilemma was just staying out of their grasp. "Because we didn't do anything."
"You are an abomination of nature," another one of the men snarled.
"Really?" Brian snapped, and September gave a sigh of relief that someone else was talking, someone with confidence in his voice. "And what about all those other children you took? Were they monsters as well?"
The men glanced uneasily at each other, and Brian slipped his hand around September's, squeezing it comfortingly. She clutched it like a lifeline with no plans of letting go.
"They showed the signs," the leader finally said.
"There are signs of being abominations?" September asked. "Would that be the dark hair and dark eyes? Did you even consider that most of the world has that coloring? Like, oh, all of Asia and Africa?" She glared at them as they shook their heads, muttering. Brian laughed softly beside her.
So maybe she had stolen his reasoning. That was all right. It had been a good comeback the first time, and it wasn't like these men had heard it before.
"We had to be sure," the lead crazy said. "We know one of their kind is here, in this area."
"But what happened to them?" September asked, looking around at the inside of the warehouse they were now in the middle of, hoping the missing children might be sitting in the middle, ready to launch a rebellion against the men. But the warehouse was empty of people. It was dark and only one room, full of dusty rugs in stacks and hanging from the ceiling. Fragile looking metal stairs, open to the rest of the room, climbed up around the room. There were very few windows, and no other doors.
"They had to be - tested. Just as you will be. And I regret it now, as I know they were innocent. You are the monster."
Brian stiffened, pushing September slightly behind him. "What are you talking about?"
This was getting ridiculous. She still had math homework she had to finish. Though, admittedly, it was a little thrilling to have Brian guarding her.
"You do not know what you are protecting," the Enemy told Brian. "That is a monster behind you. She fell for our trap, thinking she was answering a summons from her own sign. You see the paper in her hands? She knew to respond to it. She is Evil."
"Um, I just wanted a job," she muttered, looking down at the advertisement still held in one hand.
"Evil!" the leader said, holding out his cross. Making a curt gesture, his men lunged.
"Wait - no -" September startled, not at all ready for a physical confrontation, and still utterly confused about what was going on. She certainly was not ready for five men to come dashing at her as the sixth pointed dramatically in her direction.
"Run," Brian hissed, shoving her away, and turning to the men.
For all his brave behavior, he wasn't very good at aiding an escape. September wobbled from his push, and slowly felt herself topple over, landing in a pile of very cushy carpets.
Hmm, September thought, her face down position affording her a close-up view of the synthetic fabric. I really like rugs. Maybe I should work in a carpet shop. And then I would get discounts, which is good, because the prices of rugs are exorbitant. Oof. What was that?
Actually, it wasn't very hard to guess. There was now a man lying on top of her, as though to subdue a wildly struggling captive as opposed to a girl examining rugs. With a piece of twine he bound her hands together.
"So do you have a family?" September asked her captor, feeling pretty ticked off. "A wife? A daughter? How would you feel if some cult-ish stranger was manhandling her like this just because she went for a walk on the wrong side of town? Because this is not something a nice human being does. You know, I wrote an essay once on how human beings are ultimately good, but your kidnapping cronies are causing me to doubt that."
"She's not one of them."
What kind of cryptic thing was that supposed to be? September wondered, and then realized her captor was addressing a fellow robed-one.
"She's just a kid. One of theirs would never talk like this. She's human."
"And here I was starting to think I was either a vegetable or a mineral," September said. She sighed in annoyance as the two men pulled her out of her carpets, stationing themselves on either side. She craned her head about to find the other four men and Brian, and finally located them on the far side of the room. The Enemy - as opposed to his cronies - seemed to have decided the whole not-striking-when-your-opponent's-back-is-turned was crap, and had a large metal stick raised above his head, about to strike as Brian fended off the others.
Why mess with the classics? September thought, and shouted, "Brian! Behind you!"
Then she giggle just the smallest bit, because are the chances of being able to shout "behind you!" in real life?
Brian didn't seem to appreciate her help, and maybe didn't even need it. She gawked as he swept a leg out behind him and knocked the Enemy off balance in a move that really shouldn't have worked.
He spun to glare at her - a ridiculous move, she thought, when he ought to be fighting the bad guys. "You shouldn't be here!" he shouted at her, frustrated and angered all at once. "You were supposed to run! If not for you I could escape!"
Wait - how come she was being blamed? "Yeah, right!" she yelled back. "That 'flight' mechanism triggered in confrontations? Yeah, the physical boundaries around here are not letting it work so well. We're trapped, both of us, not just me."
"I'm never trapped," he asserted, and turned back to the men.
"Hero-complex," she muttered contemptuously, all the while watching anxiously as he was backed into a corner, and then up stairs. There was an open air metal staircase that curled up one wall of the warehouse, with three landings before it reached the top, with cat walks that gave access to the lamps and rugs hanging from the ceiling and helping to obscure the view. She moved closer to the stairs, and the men left to guard her apparently had the same idea, straining their necks to see their comrades rather than her.
"Let's go," one of the men finally said, watching Brian punch one of the men full in the face and knock him to the side of the stairs.
"What about the girl?"
"She doesn't matter," the apparent head said, which made September bristle for a moment before she remembered she didn't want to matter.
"But she'll escape!"
He was answered scathingly. "Who cares, you idiot? It's obviously the boy, not her, and what's more, she won't leave without him." Want to bet? she thought, simply to be contrary, then actually considered it. Wow, what a moral dilemma. Save herself, and let Brian die, or die trying to save him. If she survived, this would make a fabulous college essay. "How I defied my id or ego or whatever-the-thing-is-that-makes-me-want-to-run-away-screaming to save my friend's life."
Of course, that meant she had to stay put. Hmm. Then again, considering all the men had converged on Brian, she didn't seem to be in any danger.
"Brian!" she screamed, her mind finally registering that he was three landings up as opposed to her measly one, and fighting off a gaggle of wizard-wannabes. More to the point, he wasn't losing. He wasn't winning by any means, as shown by being backed up several flights of stairs, but he always managed to block each move, as though he knew what they were going to do, could sense it somehow. Apparently the cloaked men realized that as well, for the last two abandoned September and darted up the stairwell to help their companions. Fascinated, she watched as Brian tried to ward off all six at once, then felt her gut tighten when she saw it simply wasn't possible.
For the essay, she thought wryly, and began to hurry up the stairs.
Brian made it clear he disagreed with her wanting to help.
"September!" he bellowed from his perch on a wide, indented, windowsill. "RUN!"
"No!" she shouted back angrily. Now that she had made up her mind to save Brian, she would not be stopped, dammit. Not by anything.
"Get out the door now!"
"You'll die!" she bellowed back, her words reinforced as one of the men reached out and grabbed Brian by his shirt, tugging him forwards. A second later the man released him, howling in pain after Brian bent his thumb inward, but the fight had resumed. "Trust me!" he yelled, and with one well aimed kick sent one of the men flipping over the railing and spinning through the air to three stories below.
He just killed a man, September's mind informed her. Someone is now dead because he fell a long, long way, and is now lying in impossible angles not that far from me.
One of the cloaked men leaned over and threw up.
"Run," Brian said again, this time quietly, his voice carrying in the silence, almost echoing, and it seemed like the cloaked men wanted to do exactly that. When she lifted her eyes to his they seemed filled with black, as if the iris did not exist.
She practically tripped over her own feet as she moved, her sandals biting into her skin and flapping wildly - stupid, impractical shoes, she thought, and swore to never wear them again. Then she was out the door and running, running down the dark, abandoned street, until she reached the end, where she could look right and see a street lamp shining thirty feet away, and just another twenty minutes past that was home.
Stopping, she turned around and looked back at the building. Because she couldn't really leave, not completely, not when Brian was trapped in there with the kidnappers of the year.
She took a step forward, squinting to see better, to make out the lines of the building in the dark, peering at windows as if, just maybe, she could see the struggle inside.
It became much easier to see when the struggle came outside.
One of the windows exploded, glass shattering back like a special effect of the cinema, and with it a body. A body she recognized in horror, as her feet carried her faster back to the building. Breath caught, eyes wide, she watched Brian fall limply.
Then he turned into a bat.
September closed her eyes, opened one, and regarded the sky. Yes, that was definitely a bat.
She replayed the last few seconds. Brian bursts out window; Brian turns into bat; bat now flaps towards her.
She really wasn't a fan of bats. Or of humans that became bats.
Wait a minute . . .
She could have hit herself in the head if she wasn't now rushing to keep up with the bat, which flapped above her, leading her on a short run to the beginning of the well-lit neighborhoods. Bat. Garlic. Crosses. After dark. Creepy cultish guys.
He was a vampire.
Brian was a vampire.
No freaking way.
She was ready for him when he dropped down beside her under the street lamp. She watched carefully as all the bat particles of him burst outward widely and then condescended into human form. What had a moment before been a winged creature of the night was now a young Hispanic. Strange. And slightly horror book-esque.
"You're a vampire," she said immediately as he shook his head - she assumed he would need a moment to connect to whatever body he was currently using. She wondered if she ought to be carrying a stake or something, but discarded the idea. He had tried to protect her. He must be a good vampire. She knew they existed; she had watched Buffy.
He brushed his hair out of his eyes and gave her the most irritated look imaginable. "I am not a vampire," he ripped out, glaring at her. "What is wrong with you people? Does everything winged and furry have to be a stupid vamp? Sure, they're famous, but it doesn't mean they're the only ones out there. Certainly not the most important. Jesus, you humans are all so prejudiced. Everything, and I mean everything, must be big for you guys, vamps or ghosts or werewolves."
Right. This was precisely what she had expected. Some creature of the night scolding her for getting his species wrong. Not. But that was okay, because she could deal with this. That's what she was going to do right now. Deal with this, and be assertive at the same time.
"Er - then, uh, what are you?" On second thought, scratch the assertiveness.
He gave her that look again - the one that meant she had the intelligence of a two year old, and shouldn't she understand this by now? "You aren't blind, September. I'm a werebat."