He sits in the corner, hands pull at his hair. He doesn't want to be there. He cries, tears flow down his cheeks and he swallows a scream threatening to escape his throat. And then a hand. A cold bony hand reached its slender fingers around his sore throat. He reaches up and grasps at his throat but the hand seems to be inside him. He begins to choke, someone is yelling at him. He tries to block out the noise. He tries so hard to let himself pass. But the shouting gets louder.
Virgil became more aware of the shouting now. It was coming from other children around him. Small children. Some smaller than himself. So why was he so afraid of them?
"Hey, freak! I was talking to you!" A particularly bad child shouted. A boy named Racer. His best friend Hunter stood behind him, basically just to look scary and mean. It worked.
Virgil looked up at him. He hadn't realized before but he was sitting on the floor at the playground for recess, in between a slide and a fire pole. His knees were tucked to his chest and his face was wet, though his eyes dry.
"I.. uh.." Virgil tried to stutter out but no luck. Racer snorts.
"What, Freak? You what?" Racer spat.
"I didn't.. I.."
Hunter bent down and muttered something to Racer who smirked.
"Y'know, H, I think you're right. I think he is asking for a beating." The two walked closer to a cornered Virgil, his legs tucked to his chest were now being used as a shield.
They stepped forward, only a couple feet away when someone dropped from the fire pole, holding out a plastic sword in defense in front of Virgil.
"Back, fiends!" He shouted, a strange tone to his voice that was almost.. royal.
Racer growled "Go away, Roman. This is none of your business." Roman held his sword steady and glared.
"You dare hurt an innocent bystander and expect myself, the prince, to leave you be?" Roman laughed, humorlessly, shaking his head "Well, my friend," he spat "you are sorely mistake."
Racer was angry now and smirked "You'll regret this, Phillips."
They lunges at Roman who quickly side stepped and he ran smack into the metal pole. A few children giggled, others screamed, and one ran off to get a teacher.
Virgil was staring intrigued at Roman, who was having a glaring match with Hunter. Virgil had almost forgotten Racer, who snuck up slapped the side of Virgil's face, he let out a cry of pain.
Roman turned to look at him, right as Racer hit him again. Roman charged at Racer and Virgil ducked out of the way.
When the teacher finally arrived Virgil had a black eye and his cheek was red, Roman had tackled Racer and ended up scraping up his arm so he was bleeding, Racer was black and blue, and Hunter had run scared.
"Mr Phillips! Mr Court! Virgil!" The teacher shouted a little bit away. Virgil bit his cheek at the lack of a last name. Roman seemed to notice because he raised an eyebrow at Virgil, who looked away quickly, pretending not to see.
"All three of you come with me right now." She said angrily, mainly to Racer and Roman, then went and helped Virgil up "Come on dear, we'll call Mr Sanders."
Virgil nodded, wiping away a few tears and following the teacher, avoiding the other children's gaze the best he could.
She took all three of them to the nurse first, they got patched up and given children's painkiller, and then brought them to the principals office, where they were told there guardians were waiting.
Mrs Court ran up to Racer, tears in her eyes but anger everywhere else. Racer whimpered slightly when she grabbed his wrist and pulled him to the chair beside hers. Mr Phillips glared at Roman who sheepishly walked to his chair and stared at his lap.
"Kiddo!" The first word spoken was Mr Sanders, he greeted Virgil and hugged him careful, hardly touching him. Virgil forced a small smile, but this hurt his face so he settled for a neutral face.
Principal Lawson has a very cold face and the three children did their best not to look at him.
"Mr Phillips, how old is your child?" He asked coldly, Mr Phillips glared at Roman who was slowly shrinking into his chair.
"Much to old to be starting fights and running around in costumes, wouldn't you agree?"
"Now hold on a minute," Mr Sanders interrupted brightly "He's only ten, that's still a child! Sure, fighting isn't good, but to old to wear costumes?" He almost sounded hurt "Never."
"Mr Sanders-" Lawson began
"Please, call me Patton!"
"Patton I was speaking to Mr Phillips, I beg of you to withhold your opinion for the time being."
Patton shrugged in defeat and began studying Virgil who was growing red from all the attention Patton was giving him.
"It won't happen again, Mr Lawson. Fight or costume."
"Good, now, would someone please explain what happened?"
Mrs Court kicked her sons leg and Racer yelped. "Me and Hunter-"
"Hunter and I.." Roman and Virgil corrected in unison and then exchanged a look.
"-wanted to go on the slide. Virgil was in the way so we politely asked him to move, but he got mad and started yelling at us. We freaked out and I accidentally yelled back. Roman took his side and started beating us up. Hunter ran but I couldn't get away.." Racer finished, and Roman's mouth opened in protest, but was shot a glare and shut his mouth.
Lawson nodded and turned to Roman "Is that what happened?"
Roman shook his head "Racer and Hunter were trying to hurt Black Prince over here," he nodded toward Virgil "and I had to step in. I didn't mean for it to go this terribly, but I hadn't a choice in the matter, and so they say, the show must go on."
Phillips grimaced at his child. Roman shrunk. Virgil looked pitifully at Roman, who noticed the eyes watching him and looked up.
'Are you okay?' Virgil mouthed as subtly as possible, Roman smiled sadly and nodded.
'You?' Roman mouthed back in response. Virgil shrugged, as if to say 'been worse'. Roman nodded in understanding.
The adults had their adult conversation and the children and zoned out their voices. They were snapped back into reality when Lawson cleared his throat.
"Mr Court is going to be let go with a warning, as he is clearly the more hurt of the two. Virgil, you are free to go, you had no part but the victim."
Patton and Virgil exchanged a happy look at this, but it diminished from Virgil when Lawson added,
"Mr Phillips will have detention today and tomorrow from when school ends to five."
"That's an hour and a half!" Roman yelped, Phillips nodded. "Okay." Roman sighed, defeated.
"No!" Virgil blurted without thinking, attention turned to him "Roman.. was just trying to protect me, so if he gets punished than so do I."
Lawson shook his head "You haven't done anything to be given detention-" he, rather stupidly, began to say. Virgil stood up and grabbed the stapler and chucked it at Racer, who nearly got hit in the face but it blew past him and ran into a glass picture frame, shattering on to the floor.
Everyone gasped, Roman's was secretly a gasp of delight, and Lawson's face grew red from anger.
"Is that enough to get detention, principal Lawson?" Virgil asked, nearly in a growl.
"More than enough. Destruction of property and attempting to injure a student." Lawson gave Virgil three days, and Virgil sat down, seeming to just now realize what he'd done.
He squeezed his eyelids closed, the darkness absorbed him, the darkness formed a square room and he's in the corner, a hand, cold, strangled-
"Virgil!" Patton says loudly in his ear, he opens his eyes to see Patton standing to the side of him worriedly, and another figure. But he can't see.
"I-I can't see." The lights are too bright yet it's also to dark to see. A hand placed on his shoulder. Patton? No. It was to small.
"Comrade?" Roman. That's who it was.
Virgil tried to respond but he could hardly breath. He settled for a nod.
"I'm going to run you through an exercise till your okay. Alright?"
Virgil nodded again. He absentmindedly tried to shake loose of Roman's grip on his shoulder.
"Focus on my voice, okay? I'm going to put my hands over your eyes, but I need you to keep them open. Is that okay?" Roman spoke slowly and calmly. Patton watched, still worried but a small smile played on his lips.
Virgil hesitantly gave him permission, and Roman did so. It was dark, but not dark enough for the room. He felt grounded.
"Okay, Mr Sanders, could you take his hand and squeeze every time he needs to breath in, and hold it loosely when he needs to breath out?" Roman asked, needing a silent option for a breathing guide. Patton nodded and grabbed Virgil's hand.
Usually so many people around would cause Virgil to feel claustrophobic, but he felt oddly soothed. He followed the breathing pattern Patton gave him and soon he was breathing normal again.
"I'm going to rub lavender oil into your temples now, okay?" He waited patiently for permission, and instructed Patton to put his hands over Virgil's eyes instead of him.
"Do you have a happy place?" Roman asked calmly, as if having a day to day conversation, and gently massaged a lavender essential oil into his temples. Virgil nodded, swallowing.
"What does it look like?"
"A.. sunflower field.. the sun is shining without any clouds.. there's a small clearing with a cozy picnic.."
"What does it feel like?" Roman was sitting down now and listening carefully. Patton looked as though on a the verge of tears at the two ten year olds who shouldn't have to deal with this, it was like a punch to the gut that Roman even knew how to deal with this.
"There's a breeze. It's not cold, but not warm. It's like Spring. The sun is warm but not hot and there's a creek with ice cold water."
Roman smiled softly, closing his eyes like he was trying to see what Virgil saw.
"What does it sound like?"
"Rushing of creek water, the sound of flowers swaying in the breeze. A few song birds fly over head."
"Who's with you?"
Virgil smiled and a tear fell from Patton's eye "My parents used to be there. They're gone now. Now it's Patton. And someone else. A prince just came."
Roman opened his eyes and motioned for Patton to move his hands, Virgil turned to them as if they would be gone now that he was back in the real world and Patton smiled.
"We're still here, kiddo."
The school bell rang and the nurse opened the door, followed by Lawson who had went to get her when Virgil started freaking out, the Court's had left and so had Phillips, insisting his child complete the school day.
"Guess I'm not needed here." The nurse said, leaving again.
Lawson, rudely, told them that Patton had to leave and the other two had to get to classes, so they said goodbye to each other and went to class, Roman and Virgil awaiting the inevitable detention at the end of the day.