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:icondonotplz::iconusemyartplz:

Pevek, Russia
17, November 2023


Vincent literally crawled his way up the rest of the stairs. Not once did he look back or act as though he knew Connor was charging up behind him and yelling his name to try and get his attention. His head never looked away from the handprints on the wall.

When his knees hit the second floor, Vincent slowly started to stand, only to crumple again. He only barely noticed Connor's hand grabbing his arm and helping him back up to his feet again. And as soon as he was on his feet he started moving again.

"We're going, Vincent. You've seen enough I think."

Vincent just looked at him. And then pointed ahead. Connor sighed, allowing the boy to direct their path for the moment. And frowned when Vincent reached out with both hands and pressed his palms; one flesh and one metal against the seven year old bloody handprints on the wall.

Connor sighed, and did a bit of an unhappy dance up there on the floor, looking down the hallway and then down the steps. The elder had reached the halfway point up the stairs and leaned against the railing, not coming up any farther. For the moment, the old Russian seemed to just be watching the two of them.

"He was on his knees," Vincent intoned quietly, voice sounding particularly numb and distant, even for him. "On his knees, with his hands on the wall trying to get up. She was already dead by then."

The ghost beside Vincent shuddered slightly, and looked around the old house. He didn't like being in here anymore than Connor did, but with the temperamental holy-type standing there beside the boy, the ghost wasn't going to do or say anything to draw attention to itself.

Connor looked uneasily over at Vincent as he talked, and then looked away again. The Russian on the steps finally started to climb further up towards the stairs, but he stopped about four stairs away from the top when one of the picture frames, already broken and worn down over the years, suddenly fell off the wall and crashed to the floor of the second level hallway.

Vincent just set his forehead against the wall, above the handprints. He still didn't look over there at all. That was when the chair to his right toppled over. The Russian elder let out an unhappy grunt and took a couple of steps down the stairs, and Connor snapped his head around to the chair and GLARED at it. Or rather, glared at the air above it.

"Vincent, come on. We're going. Now." And the healer tried to pull the boy by the metal forearm. It got him nowhere, as Vincent yanked his arm free and then gently - but firmly - pushed Connor back away from him.

If he was aware of the unusual activity, Vincent gave no indication of it. He just lowered his head further, his forehead sliding down the wall, across the old bloodstains with a metal-and-skin-on-concrete sound.

The ghost beside him; the same one that had been stuck with him for years, finally just sat down on the floor next to the Marauder. The spirit didn't talk, though. Not this time. It just reached a hand out towards the boy's shoulder, and Vincent gave a slight shiver as he felt the cold move through him from the ghost's touch. He didn't normally react that way, but this wasn't exactly a normal situation at the moment.

"He died right here." Vincent finished, tone very quiet. "He never did get the chance to stand up again."

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Submitted on
February 24, 2009
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