17, November 2023
"NOW can we leave, Vincent?" Connor complained, shuddering just a bit and glaring at the spot in the air where the black, shadowy vortex had recently closed.
Vincent didn't reply. He shrugged Connor's hand off of his shoulder and wordlessly turned on his heels, starting back up the hallway towards the stairs. It felt like he was moving through thick water, or slow motion. Everything seemed to be heightened and yet dulled at the same time. Connor's running string of complaints sounded like they were coming through a long tunnel, but at the same time he could hear the man loud and clear.
His eyes settled on the wall to his left as he walked, and his steps faltered as he spotted the handprints one more time. When Connor reached forward to steady him, Vincent's left arm moved back, ineffectively trying to swat the healer's hand away from him. And he didn't even have the heart to look at the ghost that he knew was following them.
James gave a ghostly sort of sigh as he phased through the stairway of the second level and fell into step behind Connor. He wanted to speak, to say something to the boy, but with the healer right there and still vaugely all holy-ish, the spirit didn't want to take the risk. So it said nothing, merely allowing itself to get pulled along behind the boy.
"Vincent? Vincent, come on. We're going NOW." Connor reached for his shoulder again, and once again Vincent's metal arm went back, trying to push his arm away. Then the boy turned and started down the steps. He didn't notice the hunched form of Pasha downstairs watching them descend. He didn't have any ears for Connor's nattering in his ears, and he didn't have the heart to look back at James' ghost following along behind them.
Vincent got about halfway down the staircase when his right hand landed directly over a patch of dried blood. The moment he touched it, there was an almost electrical sensation that coursed through him, and he faltered again, as everything replayed itself in his mind again.
He was so lost in the flashbacks, that he didn't register the sensation of legs going out from under him and the fall that sent him tumbling down the stairs. He didn't hear the crack of his head striking the floor, nor the crack that announced something in his bone structure breaking. He just lay there, silent, staring off into space as the flashback replayed itself.
Pasha rushed forward, and Connor jumped down the rest of the steps, skidding to a halt at the boy's side and assessing him quickly with glowing fingers. A scowl imprinted itself on the healer's face when he spotted the break, and the Russian elder backed off when Connor moved around to wave his hand in front of Vincent's eyes.
"Vincent? Vincent come on, snap out of it already! You can't TAKE falls like this anymore!!"
"Sorry." The boy mumbled in reply, but his tone was flat, numb, and very distant.
Connor scowled again and poked the Marauder in the chest. "Come ON, Vincent! Snap out of it!" He moved one hand to jostle the boy's shoulder.
It seemed to be enough. Vincent's eyes blinked once or twice, and he shook his head as if trying to clear it. Then he looked around him again; at the ruined home, the dust layering itself over the old dirt, debris, and blood and gore. And then he registered Connor's face, worriedly watching him. He didn't know the man was already working on the break; Connor had numbed that area already.
"Are you back with us now?" Connor muttered, sighing and carefully trying to re-knit the bones back together in the boy's leg. At least it hadn't been a hip this time.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm awake. Sorry." Vincent replied, quietly, still looking around him again at the house.
And then abruptly burst into tears.
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