Bottomless Pit


everleigh_icon.gif shane_icon.gif

Scene Title Bottomless Pit
Synopsis Days after the accident, Shane's suddenly got an unusual appetite. But Mulder and Scully are on the case!
Date February 4, 2020

A Hospital Parking Lot

Shane has had to stay in the hospital a few days. He suffered more injuries than were immediately apparent: yes, the nasty burns on his hands and one forearm, but also some compression from the heavy car to his ribs caused some fracture. He's looking at a few weeks of recovery time for his rib pain, though it comes with some good drugs to take pain off.

He's on medical leave, which at least isn't too embarrassing: he attempted to save someone from a burning car but it exploded and Shane was hit. There are worse ways to take an injury.

Shane has been injured before, this isn't something new to him, not really, there are scars on his torso from previous traumas.

Today, though, he's able to get out of the hospital, but his mood is strange, perhaps to Everleigh. There's a focused pressure there, a frustrated tension: normal, for someone with wrapped hands that can't do minor tasks. "First stop, something to eat."

While Everleigh had continued her work while he was recovering, she had done the unthinkable—actually taken some time off work. Stress and trauma were things she had worked with over the years with patients, so seeing Shane in that state was something that pulled at her heartstrings. Why not spend some time helping someone whose recovery she was actually personally invested in?

It meant that when he got out of the hospital, she was right there to pick him up. "Alright, food is simple enough. What are you feeling like?" Her focus, for a moment, goes to his wrapped hands and she thinks. "Perhaps a burger?" Something easy to grab as opposed to fumbling with a fork.

Shane is multi-layer emotionally, but even this is a bit more than he usually exhibits in terms of being tense. He's /very/ tense, but it could be stemming from helplessness, which has always been a button for him.

"We can have them blender it up, I'll use a straw," snarks Shane automatically, but he adds a smile a little belatedly. He's not trying to hit her with the annoyance. "Perfect idea, though, I'll eat a few," Shane says. His left hand is more usable than the right, and he uses a few fingers to pull at the wristband on the other wrist, but doesn't end up getting it off, as he sits next to her in the car. His little bag of different belongings from his hospital stay - change of clothes and so on - rests in the backseat. "I'm sorry if I'm sharp with you. I'm glad to get out of there, just starving, and a pile of complaints," Shane sighs.

"You're grumpy and completely ungrateful as to my presence, I get it," Everleigh says, the tone one of amusement and not frustration. She doesn't seem bothered by the reaction, perhaps even expecting it. "Besides, you're not some weak mewling kitten. Unless you'd like me to cut up your food into little bites for you?"

She flashes him a smile. Perhaps he might not be able to jump right back into his normal behavior, but she didn't feel the need to treat him as if something was drastically different… even if she certainly hadn't fully processed being an observer to that experience. She turns the car on, swiftly on the way towards the nearest burger place she knows.

"They actually check in on you in any way other than physically?" She doesn't expect anyone to have really made sure he wasn't horrifically traumatized.

"Better a kitten than a baby bird," Shane quips back with a soft laugh. He's still tense, but the /effort/ is there, that he's still trying to engage although he's tense, frustrated, carrying around some burden that is too heavy to really be concealed all the way.

"If you're asking if they tried to psychoanalyze me and I messed with them…." Shane started to scratch his chin with a hand but instead restlessly puts it in his lap with a physical little flinch. "/Maybe/." He knows as well as Everleigh what the generic questions are, and what they are for, but in a mood of pain, Shane can get to be a smart-ass. "I'm an agent of SESA though. I'll be fine."

"I think chilli fries too."

"Mulder, I'm asking if you're okay. I'm not asking an agent of SESA, I'm asking /you/. None of this tough-guy-macho-agent stuff. This is my job, I deal with people who have gone through a hell of a lot. So if there's anyone you're in good hands with, it's me. Don't just try and shake it off like it's nothing."

Everleigh takes a left at the light, her eyes on the road as she searches for the place she was thinking of. She pulls into the parking lot—it's a simple place, not quite a restaurant as much as more of a burger stand. Food is purchased from the window and several picnic tables are set up under an awning. Very old school. Turning off the car, she looks back over at him for a minute.

"You don't have to talk to me as a professional, but I'm still a friend and I was still here. I care."

Shane laughs, but it's forced. He stretches his forearms out, resting injured hands on his side of the dashboard. Right hand is nearly mummified, but the left just has heavier wraps around the palm and wrist; he does still have some use of left hand, though no skin is visible, from needing to be protected. He's bearing through a lot of pain with his hands.

"Come on now, I'm about the least macho guy around. I'm the wizard. You know that," Shane teases her back. While that's true, he's still unable to show weakness: maybe even moreso, as he has to hold up to a higher standard due to his slim, short body type.

"Whatever I'm feeling is all physical. But I feel really terrible. All over. They say I have burns, but it's like they're everywhere. Fractures in my ribs, but it's in everything. My toes. I don't know how to describe it. You'd think when I had shrapnel in my chest that'd be worse, but that was localized stabbing. This is like… in my face, literally."

Shane looks at the door handle, pausing in a clear 'I don't know how I'm going to open this' stare. And he eats some pride. "Can you help with this."

"Sounds like you need those painkillers, some food, and some rest." While Everleigh might be skeptical that physical is all that's going on, she's still focusing on his well-being. Exiting the car, she moves around to his side before opening the door. She does it casually, not wanting the sting of having to ask for help to hurt more than it needs to.

"What exactly happened, Shane? What do you remember of it? I didn't exactly see much before you were under that door. How did you get out?"

Shane has an interesting relationship with pride. He can suffer the blows to pride, accept that he's not as strong as others, and does sometimes need help. He's a realist. He doesn't get morose, he just takes it with a blush; he isn't as brittle as some people. He gets prickly about it, but can accept that he has limits. Shane climbs out, fishing for his wallet out of the bag in the back seat.

"I don't know. It was crushing me, then it wasn't; I must have breathed in a lot of smoke, I couldn't breathe, and the fire…." Shane diverts, giving a little frown, lifting his shoulders a little. He's very uncomfortable and the trauma of being trapped in that fiery situation is still close. He starts over to the burger joint, shoulders dropped but chest held up, due to the rib injury.

Once there, he orders food for both of them.

At least, that seems to be what he's doing, since he orders a lot. But then he looks at her. "What do you want? On me."

The amount of food he orders causes Everleigh to raise an eyebrow. Either he just happened to be extra hungry from recovering, he was eating his feelings, or perhaps it was that something else entirely had triggered during that incident. She doesn't voice her feelings, however, just glancing over at him before ordering a normal person's amount of food. She waits with him to get it, mostly so that he doesn't have to carry much of it over on his own. Her training tells her not to poke, to let him sit on things for a while, but her friend instincts tell her that she should talk to him so he knows he's not alone in all of this.

Once the food has been obtained and they're on their way over to one of the tables, Everleigh makes herself comfortable on a bench. "You seem to at least be recovering well enough, all things considered. You've made pretty good progress."

"I could have easily died down there in the explosion. I get that," Shane answers, voice a little hard, but it's coming from physical pain of carrying things. He doesn't carry much, he lets her help him, but does manage the drinks - his big shake, and hers, rejoining at the table. He's clearly being really careful to not bump into the bench, and there's some difficulty shown as he uses his hands to put the cups down. It hurts. "But really, I got away with some hurt ribs and some burns. I've had worse. I don't want to just /complain/."

But he's in a hurry, to get into the food, and only being one-handed doesn't slow that much, he goes after the chili fries with a wolfishness. "I was getting really, /really/ pissed off at that medical staff for the tiny rations," Shane asserts around a fry. Eating seems to already be improving his mood, he's relaxing out of the tension rapidly.

"I'm trying really hard not to go all therapy on you, I really am." Everleigh is very aware he's not a patient. She takes care to make sure he's got himself settled before she even goes for her own food. He gets care and consideration she wouldn't give anyone else. When he seems to relax a little, she continues her train of thought. "You need to own your experience. Just because it's not as bad as it could have been doesn't make it any less valid. You're hungry right now, but there are other people in the world who are more hungry than you. Does that make you less hungry? Do you suddenly have less of a right to eat?"

She bites the end off a fry. "The point is, don't discount your own experiences. Maybe you're doing it because you're downplaying it and it's a good excuse, but that's just a scab on a wound that you're bound to pick off by accident. The longer you deny something hard, the more it'll just hurt when you rip off that band-aid."

Shane chews, looking at her narrowly. It's an analytic look, mildly suspicious, but not aggressively. He tips one brow up, working through the chilli fries as if someone might come and take them away, and prevent him from completing his high-calorie eating contest of one. It's possibly impressive, in a sort of heart-disease-inducing sort of way.

"Maybe I'm just annoyed I'm benched for a while. I have cases. I didn't think of any of that when I went down to that car. And I didn't save anyone, just hurt myself." Shane clicks his tongue once, but has some strawberry shake, eyes distant.

"You've got coworkers. They can pick up the slack and it's not as if you can't advise on the phone. I can understand not liking the idea of not doing anything, but drug yourself up and sleep a lot and you'll be fine. You don't take any time off anyway, it'll be good for you."

Everleigh is painfully aware just how much of a workaholic he is. This is a good thing. The food, however, is still mildly concerning and not just for the potential heart attack from it all. "You didn't think of any of that because you knew someone might have been hurt in there. That's not something you should be ashamed of. Your instincts were to see that everyone was alright. What happened after that wasn't your fault and you're just blaming the victim in all of this. You were hurt, it happened to you, you didn't do it."

"I'm not ashamed," Shane answers evenly. "Just tired of not being quite good enough," he says, with a quick smile that doesn't reach into his eyes, but he's quick: he masks it by rolling them sarcastically and picking up the shake to drink it.

"I also know what this must look like here," Shane adds, gesturing around at his little feast with his left fingers. Is he eating his feelings? He's smart enough to see it too. "But I am starving and I don't care," he continues, though he doesn't shrug, but he does laugh softly. His ribs and chest hurts and he ends the laugh quickly.

"What I mean is, I don't regret going down there. I still am not sure if the guy was dead before I got there, though from what I was told, they think he was. I couldn't have known, but I guess my hindsight would be to not pull so hard on the door and cause a weight shift and for everything to fall." Shane winks at her, while chomping his fries. They're basically gone, he'll need to go into the burgers next.

"In trauma, it's important to remember that you didn't have the resources then that you do now. Now, you have the information that everything was going to fall. Now you know that the man was dead. Now you know you were coasting through things on a wave of adrenaline. You can learn from the experience, yes, but you can't change it and you can't look back and blame yourself for not acting differently. You acted on the knowledge you had and in the moment."

Everleigh is eating much more slowly—she might not even be hungry, it's almost more there so that they're eating together and it's not just her watching him eat. Or perhaps she's not so hungry. "Thinking you're not good enough is something that'll get you into circular thinking. You'll always think you're not good enough and you'll never be satisfied with what you've accomplished."

"You're not the only one that can analyze me," Shane teases her with a fry, before eating it. He's moved into a burger, unwrapping it with some stress in his features but he can do it one-handed. The right hand just had really taken the worst of the burns. He doesn't fumble, he's watching what he's doing, even if there's tremor in his hand. He's been using it a lot to eat, but eating is the priority over some burn pain.

And she'll watch Shane slowly turn his razor analytic eye on himself. Looking inward, and at what he's doing, and the situation. He can disconnect and be self-critical, at least to a certain point. It's hard to self-diagnose.

He's eating the burger while he does it, and he puts it down. "Something is wrong with me," Shane decides, finally, and a bit puzzledly.

"You're going to have to be a bit more specific than that, Mulder. Because there's the obvious physical injuries and I'm sure if I wanted to bruise your ego I could psychoanalyze you and point out some kind of something." Everleigh picks at a fry while she watches him. While there's some humor in her tone, she still seems altogether serious. There's no lightness to her attitude towards the subject.

"So what kind of something? What makes you think there's something wrong?"

Shane goes back into his burger, but he's sobered up, like somebody threw cold water on him. His gaze is still attentive, sharp, as always. He's analyzing in that big brain of his. "I don't have all of the clues yet, to make a clear statement," Shane says.

"This is an instinct thing. Like … knowing that there was a problem to look for, before we found the car. Something's off." Shane saw the mix of evidence that there was a recent crash, and followed it: and he's at the same place here, sensing some evidence but not fully able to follow it yet.

"I don't feel right. I'm having trouble focusing beyond this food, and I hurt everywhere. But it might be the pain medication. It could be that simple. Don't overanalyze when all evidence points clearly at one thing," Shane smirks, though he hasn't quite given up on that he does think something is wrong, it's there in the man's slightly furrowed brow. He doesn't just /drop/ things.

"Ever the investigator," Everleigh says, unable to hide a tiny smile. She's had a lot of experience with things similar to this—she's trained for years, talked to countless numbers of people. She's even had her own experiences. "Feels like something's wrong and you can't fully put your finger on it or understand it? Makes you wonder if you're crazy because you know things aren't supposed to feel like that but somehow they do?"

She's giving him a look. A serious one. "I know how that is," she says, slowly. She's not going to explain it, though, because she knows just saying certain things has caused a reaction in patients of hers. Not everyone deals with Evolved abilities in the same way. Not everyone welcomes or understands them.

"What are you getting at?" Shane asks, somewhat more directly.

He also smiles a little bit more, wry. "I don't want to leap to 'holy shit, is this my evolved ability', because I've thought that enough times in my life and been wrong over and over." Trust Shane to just barrel into what the evidence could be suggesting.

"I'd feel really damn foolish if it's just drugs. But I know hunger like this isn't uncommon for it. If I shoot fireballs, hell, I'd take just having the mystery finally put to /rest/. This big question mark hanging over my life. Honestly I just feel like I was crushed under a car door, my hands are on fire with the worst sunburn I can explain to you, and I'm starving to death. I don't hear your thoughts."

And he continues to eat, putting away the calories with a continued fervor. "But as soon as I get to rest I will probably pass out. Hard."

"To be fair, no one really knows what their manifestation is going to be like. Abilities are different. They feel different. But they often come in the midst of trauma, which is why it's entirely plausible that there was a little something extra going on there that you may not have fully accounted for," Everleigh explains, giving him a wry smile.

She looks back at him. "You don't have to hear my thoughts. Some things are more subtle. I could use mine right now and most people wouldn't know. Not that it'd be terribly useful in this case, though you could use something calming." She grabs another fry and looks over at him. "Sleep is probably the best thing for you. I know you'd have trouble texting with bandaged hands, but you can call me if you wake up and need anything." She pauses. "I've got a couple of days off, so."

"I feel like the opposite of subtle. Wanting to snarl at those doctors." He did do that. "I just feel cramped. And hungry. And I keep getting pissed off for no reason. Or, you know, this reason." Shane shows his right mummified hand. Shane's grumpy even talking about it. His grumpiness has indeed been consistent, off and on.

"If you had time to come stay… it'd help me a lot," Shane says, a little abruptly. "But I know I really did not sell that idea well just now, riding on the coattails of saying how irritable I am. Annoyed at myself. At not having something useful like regenerating. At all this." He's venting, sort of.

Then there's a weird little release of tensed breath and he curls what's left of his burger in. He's sort of an unstable version of himself. Again, medication can explain it, but so can other things.

"No, you don't have to sell the idea at all. I would have suggested it myself if it weren't for the fact that I was entirely convinced you'd grump at me for suggesting it," Everleigh's tone is amused. "I've got time. You shouldn't have to deal with this alone, regardless of what it is. Pain medication, manifestation, whatever."

To be fair, it's not an entirely altruistic offer. Making sure he was okay and not having to worry about him from a distance was certainly more than enough to make up for any grumpy attitude she might get from him. She was used to handling that from him anyway—no one's more grumpy than a teenager. "Also, the odds of having regeneration is incredibly low, Shane. So what if you didn't win the genetic lottery? Most of us don't. Some of us just smell like lavender."

"Well, we can process-of-elimination. It is not pain resistance," Shane says wryly, still moody and irritable, but not trying to actively go after her verbally. He's not a bad guy, not ever: and most of his grumpiness is bark, just like when they were kids. His bark being a little loud back then, and there's some of it coming in here.

Teens are emotional, and Shane is having some emotional spikes here as well. Not that he was ever really bad as a kid, he was pretty level then, the Mulder analysis: which may make this feel out of character. "It has never been winning the lottery. It's not /knowing/." Mysteries drive Shane crazy. Most of his workaholic tendencies come from that puzzle-solver mentality. The same kid that wanted to binge-watch shows or stay up all night reading his book to find out what happened.

"Speaking of smelling like things, I have wanted a shower for days," Shane adds. "That can be before sleeping." Screw sleeping! He's still working on the food. It's a little ridiculous at this point. He's probably going to be sick if he doesn't stop.

"Mulder… Mulder stop." Everleigh's hand goes up to try and get him to slow down. "I know I just agreed I'd stay to help you but I'm sorry there's no way I'm going to sit and watch you vomit. You don't even have hair for me to hold back." The last part sounds amused, but the rest is all serious. "And we're not testing if your ability is having an iron stomach."

She reaches over to put her hand on his arm, somewhere she's not going to hurt any burns. "Look, we'll figure it out. We can come at it from a logical standpoint, try and narrow it down. We can't even be sure that's what this is until you've healed a bit so we can rule out it being pain meds. Because like hell are you going to just stop taking them to find out if it's those making you feel funny."

There is a very stern look over this.

Shane snickers as she mentions his hair, lifting his left hand to brush it over his head from near the ear. He couldn't shave his head properly while in the hospital, so there's some shadow to it from his dark hair that he'd have if he let it grow in.

"I'm not testing jack shit right now, don't worry," Shane says, which is a bit of a dodge, but better than him arguing with her about it. He puts the last uneaten burger directly in the bag, while staring at her, in a 'fine, so there' motion. But he does sit back with his shake, visibly flinching from his ribs. Ow ow.

"Let's go, then, or I'm going to eat that," Shane warns, carefully untangling himself from the bench and table. He looks overall uncomfortable, some of which may be from eating too much, but it's hard to tell, he's uncomfortable all over. "Urgh. Even my hair hurts."

Ha, ha.

"… you aren't even taking them, are you?"

Everleigh's look of frustration and betrayal looks a lot like the looks she'd given him when they were teenagers. "You are taking those damn painkillers or I am driving you right back to the hospital and demanding they put you on a morphine drip." She throws her hands up. "You have no idea how lucky you are that you have someone willing to put up with this right now."

If she were standing, she'd probably be pacing. "You are going to take those painkillers and absolutely stop complaining about everything hurting." The antsy behavior does have her on her feet a minute later, and she retreats to the car. The back door is opened and she leans inside, searching for something until she produces the white pharmacy bag with the painkillers. If anything, he's making her feel like a teenager with the amount of emotion surging through her.

She's not having any of it. Everleigh moves to the ordering window, retrieves a cup of tap water, and then returns to the table. She sets the cup blatantly in front of him while she proceeds to reach into the bag, counting out the correct amount of pills from the bottle, and holding out her hand. But she's not handing them to him.

"Open up."

"I had some, a while ago." Not a lie. Just not recently. He's due to take them, of course.

Shane couldn't actually unwrap the burger to eat more while she was gone, but he might have tried to, rebelliously. He gave up though, but there's evidence that he messed with it. He's putting it back in the bag when she stalks back over with the water.

"Are you kidding? I am not a child," Shane challenges as he holds his own bandaged hand out, palm up, expecting her to give them to him. She didn't, though, and he straightens up a little more, glowering down at her a little. There's something weird about the situation that he's too self-involved to pay attention to at the moment.

"Fine." Brown eyes stare her down but she can put the pills in his mouth, if she wants to risk that it looks like he's going to bite her.

Everleigh might be a 'fraidy cat' in general, but she's fearless in this case. There's no real hesitation, she just tries to feed him the pills so she can be certain he's actually taking them. She doesn't do it forcefully, just firmly, in the manner of someone entirely certain of themselves. Once she's certain he's taking them, she retreats back to give him the space to drink the cup of water. While he does that, she's going back to packing up the food with an overly determined look. She'd signed up to help him out while he was recovering, so she's doing just that. Even if it is slightly strange.

"Now that we can be certain you're actually taking the painkillers, once you don't feel like you're in agonizing pain you can explain to me how you feel so we can determine what might be the cause of what you're feeling. I can only go off of my own personal experience and what I've personally seen from others, but we might be able to narrow things down."

When she finishes packing up the rest of the food, she sits down again, arms crossed and looks at him expectantly.

"I just…" Shane struggles with explaining how he feels. He rolls his eyes though and picks up the water carefully in left hand to down all of it. It doesn't look like he put the pills in his cheek or anything: he did take them. And there was no biting. He eyes her narrowly as she sits down, as something nags at him, but the pain IS in the forefront over that.

"Let's not sit here, please," Shane asks, though. "I still want a shower, and to not be stared at." He lifts his bandaged hands and waits for her to get up as well, intending to accompany her back to the car.

That's an answer she's happy with. Everleigh gets up, scooping up the bag of food as she moves towards the car. The bag is settled in the back with his things before she opens the passenger side door for him. "Sorry if that was overstepping things," she says once she steps out of the way to let him get in. "You're one of the most stubborn people I know, the second most stubborn person being me. You're letting me stay to help… and I'm gonna help. This kind of thing is in my wheelhouse, Mulder. Let me do the one thing I'm good at?"

Once he's seated and she can safely shut the door, she moves around to the driver's seat and settles down there. "Let's get you that shower and sleep." She pauses. "And please don't vomit in my car." She's still skeptical of the amount of food he ate.

While Shane does reach out to open the door, she's made it there first, and he gets in, letting her deal with the door entirely. He's smouldering a little bit, but he's containing it, probably. He's aware he's being moody and angry from a mix of pain and whatever else is going on.

Hope about maybe unraveling his own mystery of who or what he is, but also certainty that he's just harming himself by hoping about it. He's just injured, and he needs to deal with that it is just that.

And that he's likely diverting his attention away from accepting how close he was to being killed by an exploding car.

For now? Shane nods at her, keeping his mutiny to himself. He does need her help: help from someone that will overlook the stubbornness about this. He has a hard time with patience when he wants to move, wants to GO: it's not her. It's him, dealing with the current limits that pain is forcing onto him.

The best she can do for him is to get him somewhere he's more comfortable—which seems like his apartment makes the most sense. A shower, a nap, somewhere he's able to be himself with a sense of privacy. Comfortable spaces were something Everleigh tried to cultivate with patients. If you felt physically comfortable and safe it was easier to tackle problems otherwise unapproachable. So that's where she drives.

It's not an entirely quiet drive, though there's no directed dialogue from her. Light conversation about this or that, something on the road, a nearby landmark, it's there to be a distraction and to keep him from closing off entirely. Eventually, she parks the car and double checks the address. "So, is this it?" It's her first time seeing his place after all.

Shane isn't a sparkling conversationalist but he does talk on the way back. Arrival is a relief to some degree. The drugs are also starting to kick in, which seem to mellow him out over time.

"Yep, right over here," Shane agrees. He's patient about the car door this time, and gets out, claiming his bag of things from the hospital, and giving her his apartment keys. Shane isn't interested in a lot of space, and he doesn't have it; it is a two bedroom, with one room that is clearly set up to be an office. It's spartan overall, clean in the front area, but with clutter in the office and other bedroom.

"The couch pulls out, it's really comfy, I'm not sentencing you to pain if you end up staying at all," Shane chuckles. He doesn't live too far from her, though, so it's equally logical that she not actually stay. "You probably prefer your own space though, and I am not dying." Shane puts his medicine out on the counter, and puts away the other items.

"Give me… okay, I was about to say ten, but this is going to take a while to shower. Maybe double that," Shane asks.

"Better idea. I let you shower and I'll go swing by my place and grab a few things. That way I'm out of your proverbial hair for a moment and I can get whatever I need." Everleigh does pause. "But… you'll probably need to show me first any bottles or caps or whatever that need opened or whatever."

She's trying to be helpful and think ahead of what he will and won't be able to do with his injuries. "So long as there's no reason I should stay now and get some stuff later."

"I'll figure it out. Shoo, go get what you need," Shane says, with a clear aura of self-reliance and confidence that's actually pretty convincing. But that's who he is most of the time: little guy that can handle anything, big or small! Wounded or not! …. It's a front, sometimes.

He waves her out, and disappears back into his bedroom area to get things to change into, and get the shower underway. It will take a lot longer than he thought it would.


When Everleigh comes back, she'll find him passed out on the couch in a tangle of a comfy plaid blanket, shirtless (possibly naked, there's that blanket!). The bare upper torso shows a lot of the various bandages on his body that he had to replace after the shower - meaning, there aren't as many as there were before, because he gave UP after a bit. So Shane is just sprawled on his couch, feet hanging off over one end.

There is also a bowl that contained something near him on the coffee table, but is now empty. Possibly cereal, based on the box still open over in the kitchen. Cheerios.

While seeing him sleeping seems to be a relief, Everleigh shakes her head as she slides her overnight bag to the floor somewhere out of the way. She doesn't wake him or disturb him in any way, as she honestly doesn't know what the blanket's hiding and looking out for him would be infinitely harder if they had to overcome some weird accidental glance where there was not meant to be one. Instead, she moves to clean up.

She makes her way to the coffee table to scoop up the bowl. "I swear I'm not cleaning up any vomit," she mutters.

Shane releases a quiet grunt and deep breath, and stretches his arm out, opening his eyes to give her a confused, muddled look. "My bowl," Shane says, possessive of it, but not actually reaching out. "… you ate all my cheerios?" he asks, in a disconnected 'yes I had my pills' tone of voice. And rather insulted and hurt that she'd eat from that bowl.

"That's okay but refill it, would you?" Shane asks, relatively companionably. His left hand is more unwrapped, he has a few fingers bared with just minor burns on them, but he needed to manipulate objects!

That's when the concern spikes. "No, I didn't eat anything," Everleigh says after a moment, looking at the empty bowl and back to him. She moves back towards the kitchen, towards the box of cheerios to check and see if it even has any left. That and she's checking on the leftovers from lunch. If he had eaten everything while she was gone…

"You can have some if you want," Shane does add as she denies it, as if trying to let her off the hook about the subject. The leftovers are there, but there aren't very many cheerios left: two bowls remain in the box, though it may not have been all that full to begin with. It's hard to judge, but it's not full.

"I'm fine, food police," Shane teases her, pushing back the blanket. He does have pants on, and he travels into the kitchen to refill his water glass, as if to prove how 'fine' he is, and will refill his own bowl if she won't help!

"We just ate!" Everleigh's tone is part frustrated, part confused. Her gaze follows him as he enters the kitchen and she puts the box of Cheerios down. "Mulder, I need you to answer me something. What was your appetite like before the accident? I'm not saying that your Evolved ability is to eat forever, but I'm starting to wonder if whatever happened is certainly having some side effects."

She looks him over. "I had a professor during my undergrad whose metabolism was so fast that he burned more calories than he'd typically be able to consume. He had to be on a majorly high-calorie diet. It wasn't an Evo thing either, it was just the way his body worked. I'm starting to wonder if something kicked you into high-gear."

She picks the Cheerios box up and then hands it to him. "How's the pain?"

"My appetite? Normal. They starved me at that hospital," Shane determines. Maybe they did. "I probably lost weight. THAT we can check," he snorts ruefully. But he accepts his cheerio box and dumps a good amount into his bowl to snack on.

It isn't like Shane has had his shirt off in front of Everleigh before, so if his metabolism was doing something unusual there isn't anything for her to compare it to. He's about what one would expect of a physically very fit SESA agent, compact and relatively strong. He's not the little nerd-reed anymore from 15 years ago, but that's probably not connected to this situation. He's also pretty battered with scars: old and new ones. Old scar suggest knife wounds, a bullet. Agent scars.

"Better, the medicine seems to work well," Shane answers. He does seem to be a bit floaty, less aggressively grumpy. He takes his water cup to the coffee table in one trip, then returns for his bowl to get that; still no use of his right hand. No need to press his luck. "I'm a little high."

Injuries and weird appetite aside, Everleigh's assessment is that he's relatively okay. The food policing seems to relax a bit as she lets him have at it with the Cheerios. "Don't eat fast and stop as soon as you feel full, got it?" She gives him a look. "I'm entirely serious about this. The food thing has me worried and I need some solid evidence that this is abnormal and not just an injured man hungry after a hospital stay."

She moves to take a seat on the coach, pushing his blanket out of the way so there's room for her too. She crosses her arms a bit. She'll play bad guy if she has to. "At least not everything hurts now. Glad to hear that."

"I'll prove they starved me. Hold this," Shane asks, giving her the cheerio bowl. But he also stops to pick up a loose handful in his left hand before he actually goes anywhere. He then saunters off to his bathroom, while eating them.

Shane and his evidence, his proof. He's an opposite Mulder sometimes when he does this: perhaps he should more properly be the Scully now and then. Except that he has faith in what he knows is true, and seeks the evidence. It's out there, he knows it. So, Mulder it is.

There's silence from the bathroom for a while. At least he's not vomiting. He comes back out after about four long minutes, and looks mostly just confused.

Everleigh's arms are still crossed, though she's leaning forward on the couch, looking concerned. "You alright, Mulder? You've been in there for a little." A little was an understatement. When you're waiting, four minutes can be forever. "I'm almost afraid to ask what's wrong. We don't need to head back to the hospital, do we?"

She's legitimately eying her car keys now.

"Uhhhh," Shane begins, uncertainly. He very rarely is thrown, though being high could probably be part of the explanation for it. "No, not yet," he answers. He fetches a dark blue shirt from his room, pulling it on: an expression of self-consciousness.

"I gained weight," Shane admits as he comes back. He looks at the Cheerios distrustfully, like a best friend that was actively betraying him. And deciding what to make of it.

Another person other than Everleigh might misunderstand his reaction, but she has history with him: he can't, and has never, really been able to gain weight.

The sinking feeling in her gut isn't as bad as it was when Shane was investigating the car, but she does have one that's pretty bad when he mentions the potential for going back to the hospital. Everleigh's arms uncross and she stands back up. "That quickly? I don't…" She certainly looks confused. She thinks hard, glancing over at him before she gives him a look.

"So, don't panic too much, but I'm about seventy-five percent certain this is you manifesting, but I'm not sure exactly what you're doing other than storing energy." That in and of itself is a bit terrifying.

"Right." Shane comes back over, and sits down on the couch slowly. He's unsure how to take any of it, how to feel about it. What if he's learning about his evolved ability, but it is something like destroying the area he's in, after soaking up energy? If it is something like that, he was better off never knowing.

Careful what you wish for, really.

Shane picks up his bowl of Cheerios anyway, with a somewhat guilty frown. "Maybe nothing will happen," Shane suggests, though his body language reads of confusion, uncertainty. "If I were helping someone as a SESA agent… we would observe, but not assume the worst." And they shouldn't do that here.

Everleigh sinks back down on the couch next to him, trying to sort through possibilities. "Alright, so we need to determine if you're replenishing energy or storing it up." Leaving this alone may not be a possibility, depending on what it is. "You were fine before the accident and you've been hungry since you were in the hospital. Which means it definitely happened during… what do you remember happening?"

There's a long pause. "If you're okay talking about it."

Shane frowns and nods, looking down at his burned hands, as if able to see them through the wraps. The pounding pain in them is making them ever-present, when he uses them or squeezes the digits, even with the medicine, though that's taking the general edge off. He stops using them — meaning he stops eating - and puts the bowl down. He shifts to recline back, trying to rest where he is, and think.

"I slid down there, and I could see in the broken window. I couldn't tell if the man was alive. I chose to try to break the rest of the window to see if I could lean in and free his seatbelt, so I kicked in the window, but everything gave away, shifted: I don't know." Shane swallows. "It all slid down, and I fell off the window, and the door came open on me down against this thing. I think all the air was knocked out of me, my ribs were crunched."

Shane shakes his head. "Everything was hot, burning, the metal." His hands. Ow.

He flinches and quiets.

Everleigh asked something difficult. Were this a patient, she'd sit back and just listen. Given this was probably her oldest friend, he gets a supportive squeeze to the knee as she listens to his story. "I could see you for the first part, when you smashed the window, and then I couldn't see you after that. I couldn't hear you right away." She recalls when she'd lost sight of him. "And then I saw the fire. I don't even know if you heard me, but I don't know how you got out of there."

Another squeeze to his knee. "Do you remember anything after that? Anything at all?"

"I know you're asking if I teleported or something," Shane laughs softly. He's also aware of what ideally would be great information for what's going on with him. He moves his left hand to touch her hand on his knee, accepting her comfort in some small way.

Shane falters, though, and lets his head rest back, and gives a slow, steady breath. Everleigh has seen him get emotional before: times when he was beat up by bullies, in ancient history. She's seen his weakness, that he buries. Perhaps that's some of why its visible now; she's his good friend.

"Everything moved and I fell away. Maybe explosion. Earthquake. Telekinetics. Maybe I caused the flame, burned myself? Forcefield, to not be struck worse? None of the above?" Shane gives a frustrated sound. "Maybe I heated the metal to bend it away. If I'm storing up energy, how much worse will it become?"

"Hey," Everleigh looks back over at him. "Relax, alright? I know that not knowing is a scary thing, but I want you to know that I'm here and you aren't alone in all of this. We'll figure it out. We're a team, right? At least, we were in high school. Doesn't change that you're actually someone who means something in this world. I wouldn't do this for anyone else. So I need you to hold it together. I'm not the investigator. Let's puzzle it out."

The smile she offers him is a strange mix of positivity and concern. "I've got your back. You'll be okay. Trust me."

Shane lifts his hands, wrapped or no, and rubs his face gently with them, leaving them up covering his eyes and cheeks for a long moment. He frowns and stretches some, from pain in his ribs, and lowers his arms slowly, forced to stop turtling from physical pain.

"Yeah. It's together," Shane says, swallowing, holding emotions in, and staring at the ceiling for a long moment. She's asked him to contain how he feels, and he's trying to do it.

A ragged breath later he closes his eyes again. "All right. I was stuck under it." Ughh. "I don't want to try to do anything and burn my hands worse."

Part of her is really regretting pushing this and Everleigh genuinely looks conflicted. That hand on his knee squeezes again, an offer of reassurance that he's there, not trapped under a car, and that he's just fine. She's there to ground him. "Okay. We'll walk through it. Do you remember me calling down to you? I made some pretty great threats."

Humor's another strong mechanism she places there to ground him. Breaking things up with a lighthearted thought rather than dwelling on the fear. "I didn't hear you and then when I did you said there was a door you were under and that you were fine." She nudges him gently. "And you were fine."

"Yes, glad we're on the same page that we should always believe that I am fine," Shane teases back, and grunts as she nudges. He's a whole lot of mushy pain physically. He bonks her back with an elbow, but then shifts to lean down more, recline further.

"Let me think a minute," Shane asks.

It doesn't last though, he starts to breathe deeply pretty soon. He's been through hell, though. Poor guy is tired.

She knows it's a big ask, so when he needs a minute and then dozes off, she's not upset. Everleigh just seems glad that he's resting again. She looks around for a moment, then shifts her weight just slightly to lean over and retrieve the blanket he was using earlier. She proceeds to settle the blanket around him, scooting away enough to give him room. She doesn't go far, though. She knows trauma well enough to know there might be nightmares. The last thing she wants to do is make him think he's alone.

The space between them is just so he has room to move and get more comfortable should he need to, but she remains right there at his side. She leans back against the couch, shutting her own eyes, though it's with no intention of sleeping. She's recalling the events in her head. Even thinking about them again felt exhausting—while she hadn't been trapped under a car, she pushed herself past more than she had expected to be able to handle. The cry in the car had been the only real chance she had to get through it. Now that she was thinking about it again, it was just exhausting and overwhelming.

She hadn't intended to sleep, but her body had very different thoughts on the topic.

It's a few hours later. Well, more than a few: more like a full night. Shane moves finally, and she'll find him next to her — eating the leftovers, seated on the chair nearby and not directly on the couch, as he doesn't intend to disturb her sleep. Shane is being relatively quiet as he eats, but without her staring at him all judgemental as the food police, he's consuming it quickly and hungrily.

Shane finishes it, and goes to forage more, looking in his refrigerator and returning with some leftover potato salad. It's a theme of 'whatever is available' to this diet.

While she has no nightmares, Everleigh awakens entirely confused as to where she's at and what she's doing. For some reason she's watching Shane eat? She blinks her eyes a few times and stretches a bit, her gaze moving over at him. It takes a moment but she remembers what had occurred with his relationship with food from before. "Hungry again? How long has it been, what did you have?"

She's not trying to play food police, she's just trying to get an accurate read on how many calories he's consuming and how quickly. She smiles sheepishly. "Sorry for falling asleep, I didn't expect to just doze off." There's a pause. "Pain levels? Those okay?" She is, after all, taking this whole looking after him thing seriously.

"You're awake," Shane says, eager. Waaay too eager, as if he'd been hoping she'd wake up, and perhaps even had been on the fence about waking her. Maybe he ate near her on purpose in case she smelled it and did wake up. Without actually forcing her awake rudely. "I had leftovers, cereal, and this salad—-"

Truthfully he had been getting close to having woken her up. There's an agitated energy there. "Pain? No, terrible pain, but this is more important," Shane insists. "Can you stand up for a second?" He asks, finishing the potato salad quickly.

It had been a couple of hours so Everleigh had certainly expected him to be hungry again, though the mention of what he's already consumed does have her concerned. His agitation, however, renews her focus and she looks in his direction. "Stand up, yeah, sure." She gets to her feet, adjusting her shirt a bit as she works out her stiffened muscles. At least nothing cramped up.

"Alright more important than pain. Did something happen?" She's expecting something new must have cropped up and she's very glad she took some vacation time. This was certainly a mystery not being solved instantly.

Shane finishes scarfing and puts the item down. "Yeah, I just am suspicious of something, and you can help," Shane clarifies. As she gets up, Shane also gets up, to stand directly in front of her. There's a lot of agitation bubbling out, a mix of tension and pain and something really positive, as if he were hopeful.

At first it might be like, yeah, so what, they are standing. But that isn't what he's showing her, or showing to himself. "Am I crazy? I'm not crazy," Shane says, quickly.

When she picked Shane up from the hospital, and they'd had lunch, he'd briefly felt something off, when he'd glowered down at her and told her he wasn't a /child/. What was off?

It wasn't the glower, it wasn't the content of it. It was simply that he was /able to glower down at her at all/.

He has about three inches on her now.

"I think I'm qualified to determine if you're crazy," Everleigh makes a joke even in the midst of things. She's trying to keep him calm and grounded like before, but the fact that he's taller than her suddenly has her losing her words. She blinks, putting her hands on his shoulders and pushing down a little to see if, indeed, there were no tricks to the height difference. "I… what…?" It's certainly not an ability she's ever helped anyone with, which unfortunately means she's ill-prepared for the situation.

"Okay, so you noticed this now, but you're still hungry? You don't think it's still…" Her brow furrows. "I know I said before that I was a great person to have in this situation because I helped people who manifested deal with the trauma associated with that… but I'm usually not in the middle of the trauma part and I do feel like I am not qualified and also a little bit inadequate in the friend department right now…"

She looks up at him, which is a weird sensation because it's a first. "I'm going to do my best to help you figure this out but I'm going to be entirely honest here… for once I don't know what I'm doing."

"This was my first tipoff," Shane says, and points down at his pant leg. There's a lot of ankle there. He just realized his pants were weirdly short, and… "And the mirror was low." And there he had it. Somehow he stretched: somehow.

"I'm relieved. Really. It's going somewhere, the food. I'm not going to erupt in fire. I'm doing… whatever this is. That means I'm safe, doesn't it?" That was his great fear. Being dangerous to himself and others. That was his worst case scenario, perhaps: causing harm. "I don't feel like I'm in trauma. Until you push on my shoulders and I need to remind you I have fractured ribs," Shane says, but he's upbeat: worried but there's hope. There is /something/ for him to point at and go 'that'. So much more than just nothing and empty mystery.

"Maybe I can shapeshift or something. This is /great/, right, Scully?"

"It's great in that we have more of an indicator of something happening," Everleigh agrees. She may be a touch more concerned than he is, but she's doing her best to mirror the upbeat attitude. "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you there, I just wasn't sure if it was some kind of weird trick…" There is an amused grin at his mention of trauma. "Emotional trauma is entirely different, Mulder. You went through a scary situation and sometimes that needs sorting out. Kind of feel like you're a little focused on the physical at the moment, though."

She drops her hands fully back to her sides, taking a moment to look at the shortened pant legs. "I doubt you're going to explode or set anything on fire and we're at least seeing you've got a physical reaction, whatever it is. You can adjust your height, maybe? Maybe some other kind of physical attributes? This is the kind of thing you're probably gonna have a lot of awkward practice with."

"Right about now," Shane begins, lifting both battered hands and looking at her, "I'll take a win, Scully," he says, with a little sigh. "But I will take medicine now, that we've agreed I'm not crazy," he confirms. "Something physical narrows everything down. No mind control, no laser hands, no /fire/." Again with the fire: it's like Shane now has a problem with fire after having his hands burned a few days before in a car accident.

He moves back towards his seat, checking to see if there's more potato salad in the container, before also picking up his water. He's expecting her to lunge to medicate him again. That's her assigned duty as his friend-helper.

"I might feel something else later but right now I'm just relieved." He sinks into the couch, letting his head rock back, body slump a little more. His body appears proportionate to his height, he doesn't seem overly stretched.

Everleigh places a hand on his shoulder and squeezes it as he retreats to the couch and she retreats to go fetch the medication. Fishing out two pills from the bottle, she closes it up before she returns to his side. This time, she holds them out in her hand for him. He isn't, after all, a child. That and he's far more likely to take them on his own now anyway.

"Well if you do start feeling something about the accident, please tell me. It'd be nice if one of us had a healthy outlet for feelings." She chuckles, then sinks down onto the couch next to him. "If you want to be real analytical about things, we could take measurements of your height and see how much more it changes."

Shane wasn't sure if she was going to feed him the pills or not, but he's able to take them as she offers them in his bandaged palm and down them without issue, and some water to chase them. "Thanks, Scully," Shane says. What would this have been like without a good friend? Probably a lot worse, though things also might have been different, if he'd contacted family or something else. Not important: She's there now, and he's happy to work on the puzzle with her.

"I do want to be analytical," Shane admits to her in a whisper. It's really tempting. She'd know it would appeal to the investigator. "Maybe a weight log, although that's weirdly embarrassing. Don't judge me," Shane teases, but he's not /too/ uncomfortable. He's still relieved. Years of wondering if he could fly, or…

"Look, I don't care how weird or embarrassing you think I'll find it, if that's how you want to do it, we'll do it. Going through this sort of thing in high school was rough. Doing it alone was worse, and I never really had a chance to figure it out in a real way. More than anything, I just learned how not to use it."

There's a lot Everleigh still hasn't done. For all her offers to help others, she leaves her issues last on the list… and her list is long. "What do you think, every hour check-in? I'm not sure how quickly you'll change but I'm also starting to think you're going to want more food. Might have to go see if we can pick up a few things." She gestures towards a mostly open spot on his wall. "If you stand there, I can make pencil-marks as to how tall you are so we can visually see how you've changed height-wise. Used to do that as a kid."

"Pencil marks," Shane echoes, and looks at the wall area she's indicating. "Turns out…." He puts his feet under him, and slowly pushes up with some care. "I /am/ a child." Because he's in for this, it seems as worthwhile as anything, and later the marks can be measured if he can remember where his measuring tape is. "I have a tape somewhere from replacing part of the bathroom linoleum," Shane comments, but instead ends up with the pencil for her use.

"And I love this idea of getting more food, though I have a decent stock of frozen pizza I am also embarrassed to admit that I have, but we're going to have to ignore dignity a little while if we're going to watch my weight fluctuate," Shane comments.

Everleigh follows him over to the wall, taking the pencil from him once she's close. "If you're worried about dignity I think we stopped caring about that back when we were high-schoolers going through puberty. If you can still be friends with someone after that, there's little that can phase you." She shakes her head. "So don't even worry about it. We'll keep the pencil marks up and check your weight once an hour for… mm, I'm going to say three hours and then we'll have an idea if we need to raise or lower that increment. Hopefully you won't change that much."

There's an amused grin on her face. "Anyone ever write 'never change' in your yearbook?" It's a joke she's not really sure needs an answer. "Alright Mulder, don't laugh at my phrasing here but… up against the wall." She holds the pencil aloft like it might be a scalpel or other sharp device to use upon him.

Shane looks at Everleigh with pure amusement and some playful suspicion. "I get this feeling like you overly enjoyed saying that to a former policeman," Shane observes, but moves over to the wall. He makes a face of discomfort: the physical position changes hurt the healing ribs, but he aligns himself for her to make the notch.

"Also, let's get yours. We were the same height not long ago, as I recall," Shane teases her. He holds still, though, and fully makes himself straighten up for her scalpelling of pencil.

"I have no idea what you're talking about, officer." Everleigh looks like she's having too much fun with that line. She holds the pencil up, getting on her tip-toes to get a better angle for the pencil. Her free hand rests on his shoulder, though she puts no pressure there, it's just for balance. The pencil is moved as she presses it in to make the mark dark enough to be seen but not so dark as to mar the wall. She makes sure to note the time next to the mark. Once finished, she releases his shoulder and steps back, holding the pencil up for him to take.

"I suppose you're right, though. You need a control group, something to compare to." She moves to switch to where he had been standing so he can make his mark for her as well.

"Yes, the control group, the incredible non-size-shifting-Scully," Shane agrees, though he has some trouble handling the pencil and needs to bring his right hand in briefly to hold it better. The wraps on his fingers are making things clumsy. "You'll be the one with no writing next to it, or it /really/ will appear there's a child in this apartment," Shane asserts, before leaning in to mark her. And glance down at her a little.

It's weird. "This is weird," Shane says, offering her back the pencil, before moving to let her step away. With the real measure, it looks like about just over three inches. Which, considering it's been three /days/, is a lot. The evidence of it makes him scrutinize the wall in a mix of thoughtful distrust.

"I don't know that not changing is very incredible, but I'll take it," Everleigh says with a grin. "Besides, if you wanted me to label it I can certainly do that. I just needed you to make the mark." She takes the pencil, holding it between her fingers as she moves so she can look back towards the marks on the wall. She then looks back over at him. "So, I'm a little concerned about the fact that you've probably eaten way more food now than you did at the hospital. If the growth is based on how much you're consuming…"

She's not entirely sure she knows where the limit to an incredible growth ability ends. Would he just keep growing the more he ate? "I feel like we should continue to assess this as we go, I'm not sure what your ability is going to do." She does, however, offer him a smile. "Aren't you glad you didn't do this as a teenager?"

"Glad? Not sure. I could have done without not knowing for this many years. And…." Shane considers. "Maybe our friendship would have been different."

Shane looks at her carefully. "If I'd known about you. And you about me," Shane clarifies quietly. He watches her, thinking back over her explaining her ability, and how much she suffered from not telling anyone.

She looks back at him, just the tiniest hint of a frown on her lips. "It would have made things easier to deal with, having someone to talk to. It was scary and I didn't really have this kind of support structure." Everleigh seems to think on it for a moment, then continues. "I wouldn't have changed it, though. Maybe you could have been a good friend to me in the midst of figuring out an ability, but I don't know that I could have helped you much back then."

She's smiling now instead. "I'm in a better position to help and I like that. I don't think younger me would've enjoyed not being able to do much to help. Besides, would you want the friendship to be different?" There's a mild curiosity in her tone.

"Oh… I don't know. Maybe we wouldn't have lost touch," Shane refers to the big gap of time. But he smiles at her anyway, and then moves to ease back towards the couch—- only to think better of it and go into the kitchen. Again.

"You're helping. Pills, opening jars, marks on the wall, emotional support," Shane lists off, while going to go hunt in the kitchen area again. This time, it is chips, though. The urge seems to be oriented to the first thing available that he finds: indiscriminate hunger. He comes back with the chips and slowly eases to sit down on the couch again, favoring his injuries.

While he heads to the kitchen, Everleigh moves back to the couch to wait for him. She doesn't need a vast amount of food. Maybe she'll steal a few chips, but her hunger levels are low. "This is the kind of treatment I couldn't give you if we were teenagers. Part of this is born out of years of seeing people panic and figuring out what to do. The rest of it is just me struggling to find some way to ground you and keep you reminded that you never have to deal with this kind of thing alone."

She leans against the back of the couch and tips her head back as well so she can look up at the ceiling. "… I would've liked it if we hadn't lost touch. That would have been nice over the years. It's nice now, I imagine it would have been if we'd never had such a long gap." The concept is something she's thinking about now. "So what do you suppose it would be like now if we'd been around for each other?"

"With the war…? Who knows, really. I wasn't here in New York for the war," Shane says, with a deep pained breath, settling back down on the couch. "Were you here the entire time? I was mostly doing Ferry out in Florida. Who knows what would have been different. Maybe not as much as we'd think," Shane wonders aloud, letting his eyes close for a long moment. His injuries and the medicine are probably making him more tired than he would normally be: hard to be active and move around.

He is still eating the chips, though: hunger is still a big priority for him, in an evident way. "What do you think?"

"My dad paid to get me safely out of New York. He thought he'd somehow find me somewhere safe and I'd just stay there and wait it out." Everleigh chuckles lightly. "I didn't, though. How could people just do that? Wait for it to be over and watch people die and suffer while they could do something?" She gazes over at him. "I'm not a fighter. Combat terrifies me. The war was a lot of anxiety, but I knew people were going to be traumatized and shell-shocked and need someone. So I was a field medic of a different sort and kind of trailed behind the combat areas. Once things were safe but people still needed help, I found ways to safely get there."

She reaches into the bag to take a single chip. It's just a taste, she's not trying to steal his snack. "Anyway, I think life events would have been the same. We probably still would have helped where we did, I think to a certain extent we'd always be those same people. It just might have changed afterwards. Things change when you have people regularly in your life that are important to you. We'd probably be different."

"Yeah, no kidding, shell-shocked… after that war…" Shane trails off. He's just quiet a while. He took time out of doing anything related to either his policework or anything else, just after the war. He'd taken his own breed of stress from it. "Well. I don't know. But you're right. Things would be different, but here we are."

Shane looks at her, turning his head. And pats her knee once. "You can smell like Lavender anytime you want to. Or not. While I eat chips." He gives her a warmed smile, brown eyes comfortable, unafraid. Shane has his fears, but not about things like friendship.

"I don't mind where we are, though, so it's not bad," Everleigh admits. "I'm not exactly used to having anyone I particularly care about around on a regular basis so this is a bit new. It's nice being able to be there for you. It feels oddly rewarding, if that makes any sense. It's worth any sense of weirdness or strangeness. It's a good thing."

She turns her head a bit so she can look at him. "It might put you to sleep, though. I'd have to watch you fall asleep mid-chip." There's a bit of amusement there before she looks at the ceiling again. "It's appreciated. I might just do that."

"I'd offer you a hug to go with it but I really can't right now," Shane offers, with his head still inclined towards her from where he has relaxed onto the couch. He coughs once, with a pained flinch, and adjusts position just a bit more. "Rain check on that, okay?" His smile grows a bit more, and he nods once instead.

He's looking at her in a thought, analytic way, as if running old scenarios in his head or considering the ramifications of the scent of Lavender. But it just ends up with a comfortable, quiet way that he's considering her.

Everleigh looks back at him, giving him a moment to settle into a position where he's not in pain. "Give me your arm," she says, the slightest smile on her face.

Shane gives her a curious look, but gives her most of his left arm, favoring the hand, but fearless and interested.

Very carefully, making certain not to bump his hand, she proceeds to gently hug his arm. It's about the only spot she sees available to hug that won't unintentionally harm him, so she offers the gentle hug all the same. "Consider the check cashed." She smiles, squeezing his arm for a brief moment before she moves to release it.

"Thanks for helping me, Scully. Really, I mean it. I'm excited and hopeful and glad I'm not a nuclear warhead but who knows what this is," Shane says quietly. He sighs, shifting towards her as she hugs his arm, leaning his head forward to touch his temple to hers, letting his eyes close again.

Neither of them is particularly perfect, they both have their intricate hangups and distance from people for rather different reasons. But they can come together here, and get through the stress.

Everleigh doesn't move from her position once he leans into things, and she finds her eyes closing as well. There's a level of comfort there that she's certainly not used to. "I never thought you were a nuclear warhead. I know that it's scary not fully knowing, but you aren't alone and you're safe. If anything goes wrong, I'll take care of it. I'll make sure you get whatever kind of help you need to be okay."

She lets out a slow breath. "And thank you for letting me help, Mulder. I do a lot of helping people from a distance. I help people and then I don't even get to see how they heal sometimes. Being able to play a part in someone's life where I can help and be some kind of actual participant in things is a very strange thing. It's something I really enjoy."

"Between you and SESA, I do feel pretty okay and safe," Shane answers. He does, really. Though being a warhead was originally a weird concern, what with the burns and the fire. But that's off the table, and so far, he hasn't felt anything bad other than being hungry.

"Thanks," Shane repeats anyway, setting his bandaged right hand near her hand; it's a show of trust, expecting her to be gentle with the injury, and he lets a deep breath pass, relaxing there, letting the medicine kick in.

Her hand rests on his wrist, where it's safe, not close enough to the injury for the simple touch to cause unintentional harm. It's a good metaphor for her life. Everleigh's eyes stay shut, mostly because she's comfortable where she's positioned and both the physical comfort and emotional comfort are unusually not driving her away. He's a nice exception to the rules she's set out for her life.

"You're welcome, anytime," she murmurs, her tone genuine. She'd do it again in a heartbeat. "Just tell me if you need anything, okay?"

"Well, in forty-five minutes you can mark the wall again," Shane teases her wryly without moving, though a smile slides onto his face. "And possibly watch me nap, oof. Sorry."

She opens her eyes to peek over at him, even if she's not moving. "How did you know those were my two favorite pastimes?" Everleigh's amusement isn't hard to hear. "I'm curious if there's a change over such a little amount of time. Can't blame you for napping, though. It's kind of comfy here."

"I don't feel any different, still in aches all over," Shane reports without opening his eyes, but he does try to find a more comfortable spot with a shift of his body. There isn't one, not with his ribs, but he tries anyway.

"I don't need to keep you all day though, if you have stuff to do and want to come back later for the measuring and second breakfast or third lunch," Shane jokes dryly, but it comes with a weird sound of growling stomach: that he silences by moving a little to pick up a few chips to douse the sound of the hunger-beast with.

"Think of it like puberty all over again. Your body's adjusting to something new and it'll probably take a bit. Which is why I'm not going anywhere," Everleigh doesn't sound concerned in the slightest. "I took vacation time. Rescheduled everything. You've got me until you decide you want to kick me out. I don't do this for just anyone, but it's something I want to do. I'm choosing to do. Leaving you alone to deal with this feels like I'd be abandoning you."

She does pause. "But that's entirely up to you. This is a scary time and if you'd rather be alone for it, just say so. Don't feel obligated."

"Never really had a real puberty," Shane laughs. "At least, that's what it seemed like at the time. Figures I'd get to wait til I'm nearly forty for a real one. Some 'evolved'." Humor is a deflection method, and he's using it liberally. He lifts his left hand and passes it over his cheek and to forehead, back over his head.

"Vacation time? Are you sure you want to spend that on sitting in my apartment?" Shane asks, a little embarrassed. "I dn't know that I want to be alone specifically, but I'm not going to be great entertainment with my tiredness, Scully."

She peeks open her eyes to look at him. "I'm not here for entertainment, Mulder, I'm here because I think I can be a help to you if you're fine with accepting it," Everleigh moves her head just a touch so she can get a better view of him, though there's not really much she can do to face him more with their heads touching.

"You wanted to know what it would be like if we had never fallen out of contact, here's your chance. You're stuck with me for an extended period of time, we'll see how you deal." There's amusement there, but also hesitation. She already feels like she pushed him before, she doesn't want to do the same now. "If you're really so worried about my boredom, I brought a book. And I have my phone. I'll be fine."

"Book AND phone, huh," comments Shane drowsily. He's leaning a little more on her now, but it's relaxed, restful. "I think I'll deal fine," he says. She can see him or face him if she likes, though his eyes are closed, and he's allowing the tiredness to really creep up. Food and rest, that's what his body requires to heal itself.

And to do whatever else it is in progress of doing.

"You just do whatever you've got to do. I'll be right here when you need me," Everleigh offers, her voice softer. His voice and the way he leans against her are enough for her to tell he's dozing off again. She turns her head to press a kiss to his forehead before she returns to her original position, her own eyes shutting. She might not have been injured, but her emotions were still catching up with her. He wasn't the only one tired.

"Just holler if you need help," she murmurs. Not that he'll need to, she's already right there.

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