The One with the Talking Cow

This one is for @vegetacide for her prompt ‘Popcorn and a movie…’ This was supposed to be much more lighthearted, but Virg just didn’t feel that way. That is probably because this is Sotto Voce sometime after ‘The Price’. I hope you enjoy this little ficlet. ::hugs you::

It was the top of
the world.

Or the bottom.

It depended upon
your perspective. In any case, it was time off, a treehouse, five brothers, one
sister and an AI in the middle of a rainforest.

Virgil stood on
the balcony and stared out at the sea of trees. In the very far distance he
could just see a hint of the Pacific Ocean, but other than that smudge on the
horizon, it was tropical rainforest horizon to horizon.

The last of the
Daintree.

The Treehouse,
with a capital T, was extremely isolated and a very privileged place to visit.
Of course, money to the Tracy boys was just a means to an end, and this end was
something they all needed so much.

Of course, it was
really only a Treehouse in name. It could more readily be described as a
penthouse minus the lower floors. A tree did branch up through the structure,
but the level of luxury just blanked out the traditional concept of a
treehouse.

At this point,
Virgil didn’t care. He just wanted to enjoy the change of scenery and put his
feet up for a while.

Eos had made a
point to step back a little, to keep her emotions away from him, give him time
to himself, and despite missing her, he did appreciate it.

He needed time.

Leaning on the
balcony, he closed his eyes and let himself just feel. The breeze teased his
hair, the warm moisture soft on his skin.

They had escaped
here simply to get away from the Island. Virgil was extremely aware of his
brothers watching him. He had scared them so badly. Again. He swallowed and
opened his eyes again, somewhat desperate for distraction. He tracked a parrot
leaping out of the forest and flying across treetops.

He had terrified
himself.

“Virgil?”

Scott’s voice was
quiet and tentative. Yes, definitely scared.

“I’m good.” But
the roughness of his voice betrayed him.

His eldest
brother reached out, placed a hand on his shoulder and turned to share the view
with him. “It is beautiful isn’t it.”

His vision
blurred for a moment, but he blinked it away. “Very much so.”

“Want to come
watch a movie with us?”

He turned to his
brother, his blue eyes earnestly begging him to come. “Sure.”

As he
straightened from his slump on the railing, Scott’s arm slipped around his
shoulders and hugged him close for a moment. Virgil took advantage and simply
let his head drop to his brother’s shoulder and closed his eyes. He felt like
saying sorry, but he had said it so many times before and he knew Scott would
just frown at him.

He was sorry
anyway.

“C’mon.” And
Scott steered him around and back into the house. Virgil straightened, but
Scott didn’t let his arm drop, just holding it across his shoulders casually.

The main room
sported a massive holoprojector of the highest quality and John was just adding
the last of several large beanbags to a semi-circle around it. Gordon had
acquired six large bowls of popcorn, fresh and warm by the mouthwatering aroma
in the room, and was setting them down in the middle of the semi-circle. Alan
and Kayo were discussing something, already holed up in beanbags. They all
looked up as Scott and Virgil entered.

Virgil didn’t
miss the concern that flickered across all their faces and was quickly hidden.
He sighed internally. There was so much to work through, so much that may not
ever be right again.

The arm around
his shoulders squeezed gently, and he realised his posture had sagged a little.

Damn.

He straightened.
A little less of the self pity would help.

Blue eyes were
assessing him again.

“Virg, what do
you want to watch?” Gordon had perched himself in the middle of the pile of
beanbags and already had some popcorn heading towards his mouth.

Forcing himself
to get into the right mood, Virgil stepped away from Scott and into the circle
of beanbags, taking up a spot next to Gordon. Scott sat down beside him a
moment later.

“What have we
got?”

Gordon pulled up
his tablet. “Oh, pretty much anything you could ever ask for.”

Virgil peered
over his shoulder, and sure enough, the list of networks they had access to
pretty much covered anything and everything they could ever want.

“Something
funny?”

They could all do
with a laugh. He thought for a moment, mentally going through his options,
searching for exactly what he wanted to watch, or at least suggest. There were
the classics, but he didn’t feel like old right now. Something spunky,
something to break him and his brothers out of this funk. Something to make
memories to.

The room was
silent and he became aware of five pairs of eyes staring at him in even more
concern than before.

The holoprojector
was flickering. Virgil stared, until it settled on his choice. And it was his
choice because he had inadvertently connected with the network with his mind.

Shit.

He froze,
suddenly terrified of their reactions. “S-sorry.” And he wanted out of the
room.

He made to get
up.

But Scott’s arm
wrapped around his shoulders once again, holding him in place.

Gordon piped up.
“Cool, choice! This is the one with the talking cow!” And his brother shoved
another fistful of popcorn in his face. Alan lobbed a single kernel at Gordon’s
head and suddenly there was popcorn flying around the room.

Kayo hit the play
button and smiled in his direction.

Gordon shoved
popcorn down John’s shirt only to have the bowl dumped on his head. Now there
was popcorn all over the floor.

A very large cow
mooed at all of them.

Scott squeezed
his shoulders yet again.

And Virgil
blinked away the blur.

-o-o-o-

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