Cheap Wine


everleigh_icon.gif shane_icon.gif

Scene Title Cheap Wine
Synopsis 25 years later, two nerds talk about a party for two, and friendships.
Date January 25, 2020

October 7th, 1995

Everleigh's House.

Very rarely did Everleigh’s parents both go off on business trips at the same time, but on this rare occasion, she was determined to take full advantage of it. It was a nice apartment and it was certainly a great location for some teens to hang out without parental supervision. Shane, of course, was top of the guest list.

When the door opens promptly at 7pm on Saturday, Everleigh’s dressed in a simple pair of jeans and a nice shirt, neither dressed up nor fully dressed down. She steps aside to allow Shane entry, gesturing around at the apartment. There’s some music playing from a sound system somewhere in the living room, a party platter full of snacks on the table, and box of wine that claims “delicious red” on the side of it. Next to the wine are some glasses, four of them, looking very much like they were taken from a whiskey set.

“Welcome! Look at this great parent-free zone. No better way to spend a Saturday, right?”

The room is empty.

Shane glances around and his mouth asks the question before he really thinks it through. "You invited me early to help you set up, didn't you," Shane asks, with a huff and a quick laugh. "What's left to do?" The assumption was made, and that's where he's going. "Picking out a movie to play?"

Shane doesn't really host parties either, so his knowledge amounts to what he does with buddies before they play D&D or video games or similar things. Then he spots the wine. "Who bought you wine?" Shane asks abruptly, crossing to look at it, surprised. "My parents would murder me. And I wouldn't be found, they know how to hide a body—-"

“No,” Everleigh says, turning away to wander in the direction of a bowl of Chex Mix. She doesn’t really look at him when she answers. “I didn’t invite anyone else. This is for us. Because I can’t really stand anyone else at school and even if I did, you aren’t gonna trash the place like they would. You’d help me clean up.”

A handful of the snack is grabbed as she turns back. “Besides, there’s all kinds of stuff we can do.” She gestures towards the box of wine. “I went through a lot of trouble to get that. Ralph’s dad owns a liquor store and I paid him extra to get me something that doesn’t taste like antiseptic wipes. Apparently Ralph has a whole business at school doing this shit. I dunno how his dad doesn’t figure it out, probably cause he’s not taking the expensive stuff.”

She peers over at him. “Anyway, there are no witnesses so your parents will never find out. I’m not gonna tell on you, obviously. In fact, if your parents ask you can say you were just hanging out with your coolest friend watching movies and eating snacks. Not a lie.”

"I said they'd murder me, not that I wouldn't still /do/ it," Shane retorts, picking up one of the glasses and flipping it right-side up to raise it in the air as if he were doing a toast. He didn't argue or question about the party being just for them, not really: "I still would've come, you didn't need to try to coax me with some grand party!"

Shane picks up some of the snack mix with his other hand, eagerly munching on them. It's one of his favorites, that type of mix: but Everleigh no doubt knows that! Chex mix and kit-kats. Eaten by biting into the side of kit-kat bar like some kind of monster instead of breaking them apart to eat like a normal human.

"Mom knows I'm over here anyway, but she thinks there's a bunch of us," Shane shrugs.

“Well, you’re supposed to throw parties on Saturday nights when your parents are gone. So I’m throwing a party, got it? A wild raging party full of…” Everleigh’s not entirely sure what a raging party is supposed to have. She’s never really been to one. “Either way we’re having a party and doing whatever we want because we can.”

She promptly marches her way over to the box of wine and pours a glass. “To freedom!” She lifts her glass into the air. “To escaping the oppression of parental units that just don’t understand what it’s like.” She is very certain her parents don’t have an idea how much pressure she’s always under. How could they?

“Anyway, we don’t have to do anything we don’t normally do when we’re hanging out. Plenty of stuff we can do with just us.”

Shane had been standing around with an empty glass. It was a prop, more than anything. And he hadn't really worked up the courage to actually pour it in. But since Everleigh is doing it, Shane won't be outdone, and gives in very quickly to the subtle peer pressure there. "Hold on, hold on. I can't toast with an empty glass," Shane says, taking the box to carefully pour his own, making sure he has at least as much as Everleigh. He's competitive… like always.

"Okay ready!" Shane is indeed ready. He raises his glass to clink it to hers, careful not to slosh or spill. "To a real party with real booze," Shane grins. It's unusual to the young teenager: exciting, a new wild thing like he's seen in movies.

Toast complete, Shane takes a drink - like he's seen in movies — and looks thoughtfully down into the drink, trying to decide what he thinks of it. "Smooth," he says. Like he's seen in movies. That's what you say after you drink.

Everleigh’s never had alcohol either but it’s not a party without it, right? Every movie she’s watched always has some kind of booze so she’s just going for it. She takes a drink, abruptly surprised by the flavor. She had requested something non-shitty, and here was something that tasted somewhat decent. Sweeter than she thought it would be. “Okay, okay, not bad,” she decides. She takes another sip. That one’s even better than the first. She nods. “Yeah, okay.”

With the wild side of the party started, Everleigh looks back to Shane. “We’re having wine, I guess this is a classy party. Shit, I should have used wine glasses.” She doesn’t, however, go for new glasses—who wants to wash more glasses, after all. “Next time we’ll be classier. At least we aren’t drinking out of mugs, right?”

She knows enough to know you don’t drink booze out of a mug unless you’re an alcoholic.

"…Or paper bags, on the street?" Shane replies. He's still muddling over what he thinks of the taste of it. It's easier to just kind of drink it all down than to think too much about it. He does, pretending to be doing a shot, and sets his glass down on the table like he's done some achievement. Manly manliness, look at that!

"/No/ problem," Shane declares, pleased with himself and the situation of 'handling' the booze just fine, clearly. "What should we do first? You said you had movies — did you rent some, like Speed, or…?"

Everleigh isn’t certain you’re supposed to drink it all fast like that, but she doesn’t question Shane’s methods. He looked pretty cool doing it. She looks at what remains of her glass, then back at Shane, then at her glass. Shrugging, she tips her head back and drinks down the rest of hers as well. It had worked fine for him, after all, so it couldn’t have been that bad. She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, then moves over in the direction of the TV.

“I rented a few new ones, I think it’s in there, but my dad’s got a whole collection.” She gestures to the bookcase next to the TV filled with VHS tapes. “He usually only gets the popular stuff though. He’s kind of normal.” She certainly makes it clear that normal is not cool. “So we can watch movies if you’re feeling that.”

"When do you feel like, fun effects of drinking?" Shane asks, looking at the wine. He approaches the box to look at it, as if it would actually say on it how long it will take to take effect like some kind of bottle of medicine. "Maybe it's a little weak," he suggests. He does refill his glass while Everleigh is talking, as well as hers, and brings both glasses in, to look at the VHS. He hands her hers distractedly.

"Yeah. I'm a pass on 'Shindler's List' and 'Father of the Bride'," Shane says, making a face at a few of the ones on top. "What'd you rent?" Shane asks instead, looking for that pile.

“Uh…” Everleigh is suddenly questioning her selection of movies and very slowly gestures to the pile. “Well, I’ve got ’Braveheart’, ’Goldeneye’, and ’Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’.” She raises an eyebrow, leaning forward as she watches him very carefully to see if her selection of movies was interesting at all. They were ones she’d thought sounded great when she was at the store but was now questioning as they sat on the table in front of her.

“I know my mom hates James Bond movies. I figured I could get away with watching that sort of thing while she’s not here. I think the other two are the sort of things parents don’t approve of either.”

"I haven't seen Ace Ventura, that's banned at home," Shane says, immediately picking that one up. "The guys at school say it's awesome, the actor's hilarious," he continues. There's nothing to look at: rental movies come in plastic cases with the big 'BLOCKBUSTER' print on them, but somehow looking at the box helps.

"Let's start with that one, it's probably better with alcohol too," Shane guesses (perhaps a little perceptively), and springs the VHS cassette from the box to offer it to her as if it were a ring in an engagement box. Except that he doesn't kneel.

Ace Ventura does seem like the kind of movie that would be better with alcohol, Everleigh nods her agreement as she reaches over to take the tape out and moves to turn the TV to the right input and put it in the player. “Right, just let me fast forward through all those warnings at the beginning…”

She stands back with the remote, taking a minute to get past everything before she flops down on the couch and sets the remote on the table in front of her. “There, one banned movie, coming up!”

"Hell yeah," Shane replies, with a thumbs up. He heads into the kitchen to bring the bowl of snacks out, as well as the wine box, and joins her on the couch. He takes a minute to take his shoes off, tossing them off to the side, so that he can hook his legs up next to him. He was raised well: no shoes on the couch or table!

The movie starts with the somewhat iconic scene of Jim Carey bashing the hell out of a delivery package as a delivery guy, which captures Shane's attention very quickly.

Everleigh settles in comfortably, pulling her own feet up onto the couch to achieve maximum comfort. At least she’s not wearing shoes, now that would really set her parents off. She seems amused more than anything at the comedic antics, nibbling slowly on a handful of snack mix. It doesn’t take too long, really, before she’s already starting to feel more relaxed.

“Wow,” she murmurs. “This movie is way more interesting than I thought it was gonna be.”

"He's crazy," Shane laughs. He's feeling upbeat; things are great. And things are a bit more funny than they might otherwise have been: but considering that Shane's not difficult to engage in a laugh, that makes things REALLY funny.

The wine drinking continues, as does some light eating of the snacks. Shane's more comfortable with Everleigh as well: he'd normally be fine to sit by her, but be more observant of personal space. Now he's plopped against her shoulder, and offering her snacks out of one of his hands.

Everleigh’s head rests in against his, reaching to take snacks from him almost idly. She never really stops eating, it’s just an activity to occupy herself while she’s right there. “Is he like this in all his movies? I’d watch more with him,” she assesses. The personal space is not purposefully ignored, it’s just become a thing. They’re both just comfortable so there’s not a thought either way.

“We’re gonna run out of snacks,” she says, peering over at what’s left of the bowl. “How did we eat that much?” Did they eat that much? She’s not really sure anymore.

"I feel like… an octopus," Shane reports, stretching his arms out, and turning them around and over. "Like my arms have multiplied," he says, turning towards her to show her his forearms. "And they're extra. Just extra. Like extra sensory, on them, do you feel that?" Shane asks, bemused.

"What?" Shane looks at the snacks, and reaches in again for a handful. He eats a few, and groans. "Holy shit these are so good," he exclaims, and attempts to put one in her mouth.

“What? Like an alien? Have you been an alien this entire time?” Everleigh pokes at him as if somehow she could determine his genetic makeup from just that. “Mulderrrr…” The word is held out extra long. “You have to tell me these things. It’s the law. The law of best friends. The most important law.”

She leans in to eat the offered snack, giggling. “Yeah, these ones are good. Did I bring out new ones? I can’t remember.”

"I think so, you must have, these are better. Maybe the other ones were stale. These are fresh," Shane decides of the snacks. He also has some more wine. "This is still weird though," he says, in case she wondered. He sets it down, and then rubs his nose. "I think it's kicking in. Like we are drinking, Scully," Shane announces.

He looks at her, and her hair. "Your hair looks like an amazing pillow right now. The best. Can I touch it," he asks, already reaching, for his hand has a mind of its own.

“Yeah, yeah, you can touch it,” Everleigh says, almost distractedly. She’s not thinking about her hair, she’s marveling at just how weird alcohol feels. “Is this how it is for everyone? Is this what parties are supposed to be like?” She shifts her weight on the couch, just slightly, and ends up swaying a little, holding her arms up for balance. “Holy shit it’s like the world somehow forgot how to be… a world.”

She’s not so great with words right now. She’s just experiencing. “No wonder people become alcoholics.”

"My octopus arms are like, too LONG, Scully," reports Shane. "Maybe I'm an alien," he says, but then bursts into laughter. He was trying to reach out to touch her hair, but his arms feel weird, and he noodles them across her lap instead, like a proper octopus. "And I have so many."

Shane 'sobers' - as in, he tries to focus, as she wonders about the world experience. "We could investigate that. On the case, we can ask. If everyone becomes an octopus," Shane can't maintain it, and starts to laugh again.

Since he can't trust his arms so much, he leans in to put his face in the side of her hair. "Yes, your hair is a fantasy," says Shane's muffled voice from her hair. "Smells so good."

“Careful, there are probably tons of other aliens just lurking around. Maybe in this room!” The last bit is said loudly, as if to scare anyone out of hiding. Everleigh giggles, doing her best not to move too much to interrupt his hair experience. “Uhhh, I think it’s some kind of tropical fruit. They didn’t have the brand I normally use or… or maybe someone switched it out. Maybe there are aliens in here, trying to give me tropical hair.”

She giggles again. “Does it smell like a beach? An island?” She starts to turn her head and then realizes she can’t really smell her own hair, not easily. What was she thinking?!

"Beach? Naw. More like Lavender," Shane reports, before he yawns and rotates, sliding his face out of her hair to lay his head on her lap instead. Everything is appropriate, they're best buddies, and it's all fine. He's happy and comfy.

"Captain's Log, stardate 23.9, rounded off to the nearest decimal point…" says the movie, and Shane stares at the movie, enraptured

"Oh shit he's doing Star Trek, look look," Shane points out with an awkward octopus arm at the screen. Ace Ventura is stalking around, pretending to be on an alien planet.

“Lavender? But I don’t even have lavender scented stu—” Somewhere in the back of her inebriated head, she realizes why he was smelling lavender. Everleigh isn’t particularly fond of this sobering thought and instead throws herself back into the movie, laughing even more loudly than before. “Look, look, he’s being all of ‘em.”

She proceeds to idly start petting Shane’s head like he’s a cat, looking off into the distance. “More people should make Star Trek jokes, those are really funny.” She’s eyeing her empty glass of wine.

Shane's hair is black and short; usually kept that way by a strict parent or two, in a somewhat military-close cut. Long haired boys aren't something that happens in the Bishop household; they are traditional about several things. It makes him something of a short-haired black cat for petting.

"Shhhhhhh," Shane says, batting at her knee. He's trying to hear the jokes! And Jim Carey doesn't let them down, the physical comedy just keeps going. "Oh my god," Shane says, grinning. He stretches his legs out a little more, but doesn't leave her lap yet. "That was the best."

Everleigh decides she likes short-haired black cats in that moment, and proceeds to continue with her petting endeavour. Now she’s watching the movie and less Shane. It’s enough distraction that she’s confused as he mentions something being the best. She looks down at him. “What? That joke wasn’t that funny.” She makes a face at him.

You’re the funny one, octopus man.”

"I don't… oh!" Shane accepts her statement. He nods, head moving against her hand. "Yeah. I don't think I have eight arms though. Just more," Shane can't be bothered to count them, not really. He turns over, rolling onto his back, and puts his arms up straight in front of her face, blocking some of the movie.

"Sorry," he says, realizing he's doing that, and pulls them down onto his chest loosely. But then he stares at her, eyes weirdly wide, and moves one arm up to attempt to boop her nose. He ends up not getting nose, but he still says "Boop."

“How many more?” Everleigh can’t see the extra arms (she swats at the air near him just in case they’re invisible), so she’s just going to have to trust him on that. Her hands return to his head, mostly because she’s enjoying the sensation. And it’s soothing. Plus he’s less likely to jump off her lap like a cat. Much less likely to abandon her out of boredom. Probably.

His absolute miss of the boop causes loud laughter. Probably more than necessary, but she really finds it funny. “You’ve got to do better than that. Try it again. Try!”

“I can see up your nose into your thoughts,” Shane says, staring up at her, and slooooowly reaches one hand up to boop her nose more properly. “Boop.”

There! He did it! He’s looking at her with some curiosity now: up her nose maybe but also other parts close to his head, such as her chest.

“Gah, don’t look up my nose,” Everleigh protests. “And you cannot see my thoughts. Not at all.” She stares down at him. “What am I thinking right now.” She only gives him half a second. “See, I knew you couldn’t do it.” If she’s aware of his gaze being on anything other than her nose, she certainly doesn’t show it.

Given that it would be hard to lie right now, she most definitely hasn’t noticed. So much so that she is blissfully unaware as she leans down a bit to grab another handful of snack mix.

“You are thinking,” Shane says, long after she’s already told him he can’t do it, “about…. guuuuys,” Shane tries. Because he is thinking about girls now, so that was the best he had going on.

“Right? I’m so right on. It’s right up your nose.”

What was she thinking about? Everleigh would have to think about that for a moment. Was it the snack mix? “Nooo,” she protests. But she doesn’t explain what she’s thinking. Instead, she stuffs a piece of the snack mix into his mouth. Carefully, she’s aware she could choke him like that.

“I’m gonna cover my nose forever now. Now you’ll never know what I’m thinking.”

“Well, boogers are pretty close to guys, maybe I see those,” Shane says, laughing, up until she gives him a snack and he eats it like a good puppy. Yum yum.

“Those are so good, it’s the cheese on them,” Shane decides, as if he’d solved an important case.

“Yeah, they sure are,” Everleigh agrees with a chuckle. “But you aren’t so bad. But you also don’t count because you’re Mulder. You’re way better than them, got it? Don’t let them tell you otherwise. You’re the best.” She then pauses for a long moment.

“… there’s cheese on these things?”

“So much cheese, but hold up, focus,” Shane says, rotating to twist to sit up, but then climbs around to just turn over. His limbs are still weird.

“YOU are the best. I am not the best. I am but a small octopus alien,” Shane complains, face dropping to her thigh. He’s in a weird position overall, sort of mushed fetal that’s face down on her leg.

“Mulder, you’re gonna choke to death or something on my leg.” Everleigh really means suffocate, but at this point she doesn’t see much of a difference. “What are you dooooing?” She holds out the word in sort of a singsong voice as she gives his head a little nudge with her elbow. “What am I supposed to be focusing on? You said I’m supposed to focus.”

Focusing is only making her more distracted. “Are you trying to grow more arms or something?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Growing arms is ridiculous. “I already have too many.” That’s why it’s ridiculous.

Shane pulls his head up, though, and adjusts to finally sit more properly and pick up his drink. More wine isn’t so much on his mind, he’s just thirsty. “But I am so a boy, I count.”

Everleigh moves her arms to get them out of his way as he goes for his drink. “You aren’t a boy. Boys are assholes. You’re not an asshole, you’re my friend. My best friend. Big difference. You clearly don’t fall into that category so I don’t see why you’re arguing. Also why would you want to be a boy anyway?”

“Orrrrrr, not all boys are assholes. Or not all assholes are boys. There’s not evidence,” Shane attempts, but logic is hard. “Being a boy is better than being a girl, I think. That’s what my dad says. So. Gonna ride this boy thing,” Shane grins, slurping the drink and then offering her some.

“Except you do have fantasy pillow hair. Maybe that’s a better part.” Shane squints at her, then leans sideways to bump her shoulder with his forehead.

“I didn’t say being a girl was great, but boys are assholes.” Everleigh rolls her eyes. “Although I guess I should say that the majority of the human race is made up of assholes and you’re the exception. Nope, just you, Mr. Octopus.” She watches him, not entirely sure what he’s trying to do, rolling around like that.

She takes the glass from his hand, taking a sip before carefully leaning over to put the glass back down out of the way. She’s not super well coordinated, but she’s being extra careful. “You’re weird and that’s cool. Just so you know.”

Shane squints at her, and her very kind words, as if they were slowly sinking in on a deep level. His dark brown eyes are a little distant, then they seem to come back to focus.

He leans in super close, as if to decipher the mysteries of her thoughts by proximity instead of looking up her nose.

“I’m very weird. So are you,” Shane decides.

“We should make out.” Shane has good ideas.

“What? Why? Because we’re weird?” Everleigh isn’t sure about these ideas.

She blinks at him, holding very still as if she were trying to determine something about him just by him being close. “You’ve never made out with anyone.” The fact that she hasn’t either is entirely beside the point.

“And you love me,” Shane continues. “I can see it up your noooooose,” he laughs, leaning down to bonk his forehead on her shoulder again, then relaxing back to his own seat. He is still mushed against her side, though.

“Huh? Yeah, I know,” Shane answers. “I am also aware of that fact that girls do not like me.”

Everleigh snorts. “Yeah because you’re supposed to love your best friend, dimwit.” She gives him a gentle nudge. “But you’re not so bad. Girls would probably like you if they understood you a little better. People are shit at understanding each other. I see it all the time, drives me nuts. Once you understand each other it’s like the world makes sense. It’s why I’m gonna be a doctor. I see all this shit and all I wanna do is tell people how wrong they are.”

She peers over at him. “I’d tell girls you’re cool but they wouldn’t believe me. People will believe what I say when I’ve got a degree, though. If you can wait until then I’ll tell girls you’re cool.”

“I already tell people you’re cool,” Shane says, amidst a giant yawn that came out of nowhere. “Where did my drunk go?”

Shane pauses to laugh at himself. “My drunk. Oh my god.” He laughs more, but finds it, and finishes the amount in it. Shane then turns back to her and hooks an arm around her middle, face at her shoulder once more. “What was I saying.”

There’s something of a gigglesnort from Everleigh. “You do not tell people I’m cool. Why would you do that?” The laugh comes back slip up. “Now where’s my drunk,” she jokes, but legitimately looks around for her drink. Once she’s captured it, she looks back at him for the very serious business of discussing coolness.

“Do you really tell people I’m cool?”

“Of course I do, I’m not a liar,” Shane retorts automatically. Mouthy yes, liar no. “You like cool things like Stargate. But. My opinion matters this much:” Shane brings up fingers to show a tiny measurement. “Because I am not cool, but….” where was he going with this?

“Fuck them!” Shane doesn’t swear much, so it’s a pleasurable release of the cuss word that he stands by. “We are at a party and we have booze and we can be cool,” Shane decides, fiercely. “Like in the movies.”

“Well, I’m glad you think I’m cool, not that the rest of the world thinks so,” Everleigh seems amused by all of this. “But I’m also impressed you’re bold enough to tell people I’m cool. It’s an unpopular opinion.” She tilts her head and looks at him. “But… you’re right, we can have a crazy party and be cool and no one can stop us!”

She looks around. “Everyone at this party says it’s cool! Everyone is having a good time!”

"Nobody's making out at this party, though, and that's how I judge parties," Shane laughs. He's kidding, he's let that ship sail. It was a weird idea anyway; actually making out with anyone? He's nervous about that, but has to pretend he's not, of course. He hasn't even kissed anybody, much less that.

"Can you play spin the bottle with box wine? Probably," Shane asks, but stretches and picks up the snack bowl, to hold it in his lap, and begin to go to the bottom to pick up some of the stragglers of snacks there.

“You can’t play spin the bottle with box wine because you can’t spin it and there’s no one but each other to kiss anyway,” Everleigh points out. “It wouldn’t be a game it’d be a kiss.” She seems to be assessing him. “Alright, you seem to be really fixated on this now. What’s the scoop, are you afraid you won’t know what you’re doing when you kiss Becky?”

She reaches for her cup of wine and then just downs the rest of it.

"Becky," Shane begins, pointing at her face, "… does not know I exist," he finishes, with a soft burp. He picks a few more pieces of snack out of the bowl and then puts it back on the coffee table. "Anyway I'm over that. I think she's dating Jason, and like, have you seen that dude," Shane shrugs. "He does not have octopus arms," Shane says, with a grin.

"I'm not fixated. You're a fixer-ated." Drunk teen logic is very sound. "Which is oh-kay to be." Shane starts to scoot back towards laying-down position.

“What? You’re just giving up on her? But you’ve liked her for years.” Everleigh has never really seen the appeal of Becky other than that she was pretty, but she was never going to question her best friend’s taste in women. “If you stop liking Becky who are you gonna like now?” She’d never really thought about the prospect of him liking someone else.

"Gotta grow up sometime, right?" Shane asks. "I tried to talk to her and bleh." Shane bleh-bleh-blehs actively with his hands, depicting word vomit, and then drops on the couch to hide his face against part of her leg and his arm.

He doesn't do it for long, Jim Carey is still being very silly and ridiculous, and he looks at the movie. "When I get my growth spurt like Hank, I'll talk to all the Beckys without being nervous." Hank's Shane's towering older brother. He comes up a lot in comparisons. That Hank was much taller than Shane at Shane's age has not been omitted from Shane's view. It's not /fair/.

"Whateverrrrrr. Do you think we've drunk a lot? Is this drunk? I feel like… of like sleeping and also everything is funny and floaty." A pause. "Also I feel sort of sick." Shane grabs at the snack bowl. What follows isn't flattering.


January 25, 2020

“I don’t see how there are people who don’t consider that movie an absolute treasure of cinema,” Everleigh says, stepping outside of the small theater with a marquee proclaiming a week of old movie showings. Tonight’s movie of choice? Ghostbusters.

She steps to the edge of the awning, looking upward. “Looks like it’s gonna rain soon, clouds are kind of nasty looking.” She shoves her hands into her pockets.

"Seeing some of those buildings in that movie…" Shane shakes his head, and smiling. "And how the city used to be. Something of a time warp." Shane's dressed warmly, and follows Everleigh's gaze up into the sky. "I think we have an hour or two," he guesses. "More than enough time to get somewhere, sit down, and be trapped inside while it's pouring outside."

Shane looks at her and then gestures up the street. "Shall we see what we can find? I'm starving. Snacks are never quite enough for me," Shane comments. "I like something real, some actual gas in the tank."

“What kind of fuel are you looking to put into the tank?” Everleigh runs with that metaphor, peeking further down the street. “I could go for something spicy. Nothing like a whole experience for the mouth aside from the flavor.” Her attention moves back to him. “You finish all the snacks anyway, it’s like you’re packing them away for later or something. If we ever got stranded in the snow, you’d last the longest, hiding away those pockets of food.”

She looks to her left, then her right. “Any direction call to you?”

"Pockets of food? Suggesting I'm fat?" Shane smirks at her. "If only." He chuckles, amused. He's far from fat, being slim as a rail; body fat or weight has never been much of a thing for him. "I do watch my health more, these days. The junk food is a thing of the past, of teen years and the Academy."

"Still partake of too much coffee, though," Shane admits. "One of my few vices." Shane considers the street, briefly alert, and picks a direction without explaining why. He has decent instincts about things, most of the time.

It seems to be good enough: there's pizza and a mexican place in that direction. "You wanted spicy?" Shane asks, and steers them towards the mexican food.

“I’m suggesting you’re a chipmunk,” Everleigh puffs out her cheeks and looks over at him. Once upon a time she would have been pinching his cheek, but that’s an invasion of personal space she’s not willing to make at the moment. “Well, that makes one of us. I eat like crap all the time. Life is short so you might as well do with it what you can.” She shrugs, looking towards the mexican place.

As she heads that direction, she peeks over at him again. “Coffee’s a vice people accept these days, though. It’s expected.”

Shane side-eyes her as she puffs her cheeks out, but just laughs a little bit. Indeed, the days of cheek-pinching are past them. Kids and teenagers have different rules than their adult counterparts, particularly after twenty-five years of evolving into the people they are now.

Sadly, it may not be an evolution so much as creating walls of adulthood that just push others away.

"I enjoy salad now. It is not always chips and dip," Shane shakes his head. He opens the door and immediately signals clearly with two fingers to that they'll just be dining the two of them. The waiter doesn't rush to seat them, it takes a little time, but they're ushered to a spot and handed menus. The little bowl of chips comes, as does salsa, with waters while they peruse the menu.

“I’m not a fan of lettuce. Don’t get me wrong, I love veggies of other sorts, lettuce just makes me think I’m chewing paper,” Everleigh dips a chip into the salsa. “I don’t serve as a great example for everyone and I recognize that, so it gives me the freedom to do as I please.” She chuckles. “You never struck me as the salad type, though.”

She shakes her head. “You’re doing it right, though, you’ve got a job where you’re active and you’re in good shape. Anyone hit you up to be some kind of mentor for kids yet? You’d be a hit.”

"No, the only kids I work with are twenty-somethings, interns and trainees," Shane says, shaking his head. "Honestly I don't think I'd have the time to dedicate well enough to children as well, but I appreciate the sentiment." Shane accepts a chip as well, eating it, sitting back. "Why aren't I a salad type?" Shane asks, with amusement.

"All right, you got me. I enjoy salad /dressing/. And if you drown the green stuff enough, it ends up working out for everyone." Shane snickers. "Not that I think there will be any threat of salad in this place," he adds, looking at the menu.

"Do you have vices? Did you become an alcoholic? I do recall a lot of booze in your history," Shane asks.

“You aren’t a salad type, you just don’t look like one. If I were to peg you as a particular food, I’d go with…”

Everleigh assesses him carefully for a moment. “Gyro. I think that would fit you best.” She lifts up her menu to glance through it, though it only takes her a minute to make up her mind. She’s quick about that, at least when it comes to food. “Oh god, I don’t know about vices. Depends on what you define as a vice.”

She taps her water glass. “Alcohol isn’t really much of a thing. I like to have something to drink once in a blue moon while I’m at home working on my hobbies, but I wouldn’t call anything I do a vice. I’ve got some guilty pleasures at worst, but no addictions.”

"I don't look like a salad type? Well, so long as I don't look like a donut type, I suppose," Shane retorts. "Although I feel like a donut type still would be jolly and friendly. Like a cookie type. Someone to be friends with, a Hufflepuff," Shane explains.

"Gyro? Why on earth 'gyro'?" Shane questions, amused. He doesn't see the connection. "No vices? How boring. Although I think being workaholics means we don't have time for vices."

“You look fine, don’t worry about it,” Everleigh gives him a once over. “Salad types are boring. You’ve never been boring. Gyros can be healthy depending on how much you pile in there, they’re flavorful and interesting but not everyone even knows what they are. They’re weird.” She takes a sip of her water.

“But you’re right. No time for vices, barely time for hobbies. Somehow time to at least hang out with an old friend though.”

Shane actually looks flattered, on both counts. "Huh. Well. In that case, I'll take it. Though I hope for the most part I keep the weird out of sight from the general public," Shane smirks. "At least, from those that don't appreciate or can't handle it." He looks at her, looking her over. "I think you're doing something similar. Also covered in some type of pita?"

“One day the weird will become cool again,” Everleigh chuckles. “Then you won’t have to hide from the world.” She takes a long sip from her water before looking back at him. “Nah, I’m a rice ball. Fluffy but boring outside, flavorful surprise inside, and pretty good overall if you eat it all together.” She’s been thinking about that too long. “So are you gonna order a taco salad?”

"Maybe. Feeling a little called out here," Shane replies as she charges him with the salad selection. "I was actually going to throw more caution to the wind and go for these fish tacos," he says, with an elusive little grin and waggle of eyebrow. Shane's got a mastery in eyebrow waggling whilst flaring his eyes. It's an amusing look he doesn't do in professional settings: but this is a time to relax and have some fun.

"Rice ball. I suppose. I would have said…" Shane considers her. "Some kind of pie. You seem more like the optional dessert that most people like, but often don't save room for."

Everleigh doesn’t look uncomfortable, just slightly weirded by his use of eyebrow. “Riiiiight. Fish tacos. You do that. You do you.” She neatly organizes her silverware on the table. She looks up, though, as he mentions the dessert. “You know, that’s probably more apt than I think I’m comfortable admitting.” She chuckles lightly, reaching up to rub the back of her neck.

“Definitely going spicy.”

"I shall," Shane agrees when she invites him to do his whim. He flips the menu shut with his other hand, and shrugs out of his jacket, twisting to hang it over the back of his chair. He drums his fingers on the menu's surface, eyes dropping to her selection process that she's still working on.

He also picks up the drinks menu, and looks that over, his expression relaxed. "Not here to make you uncomfortable. Unless you're really asking for it, then I'll consider obliging."

“Mulder, my default state is vaguely uncomfortable at all times,” she’s chuckling even while saying it. “You aren’t making me any extra uncomfortable. Although I guess it’s flattering that I’m the dessert everyone chooses to skip.” Everleigh isn’t sure what that might actually mean, but she’s trying not to think about it too hard.

“I’m getting chiles rellenos. Spicy and cheese… hard to go wrong.”

"Aw, come on. Everyone likes pie," Shane reassures her. "I particularly like pie. Perhaps if you wanted you could evolve out of dessert and become a shepherd's pie, or the like, besides," he suggests.

The waiter takes that moment to come over and look confused by the talk about shepherd's pie. Shane saves him from his confusion though, by making his order, and also getting a beer with it. He passes over the menu, and the waiter accepts it, then gestures to Everleigh for her order.

“Chiles rellenos and… also a beer.”

Everleigh turns her head towards him. Well, if he’s going for the alcohol then she’s keeping up. “Just cause everyone likes pie doesn’t mean that they’re going to eat pie. Pie is like the ‘ooh that sounds nice’ dessert and no one ever gets it. And even if I wanted to be an entree, I’d only get served at pubs and places that really knew what they were doing. Too much of a specialty meal.”

She takes a sip of her water. “We’re making this metaphor way too complicated, I think. Let’s talk about you instead of me. Way more interesting, right?”

"If you're expecting me to argue about whether or not I'm 'more interesting', I'm going to avoid that question, because I am not foolish," chuckles Shane, as he adjusts his placemat just a little. His phone buzzes, and he holds up a finger an apologetic 'just a moment' motion.

He checks through the message, brows now in a more no-nonsense mode, before he then puts it away. "Sorry about that," Shane says smoothly. "Where were we — you were deflecting attention off of you, I think?"

“Oh yes, we were certainly doing that,” Everleigh folds her arms, leaning forward against the table a bit. “And I was already assessing that you were a much more interesting topic and therefore we are going to change now to talking about you instead. So, tell me, how is it you maintain a fitness routine? You said you enjoyed your salads, I assume you perhaps go to a gym or jog…”

She doesn’t seem to be taking no for an answer.

"Yes. I'm at the gym as often as I can make it. Generally three times a week, for an hour or two each day. It depends," Shane replies. "I've been working at it, it's important to my job, as well, to stay as fit as I can. SESA has some excellent facilities, so I've been making the most of those. I'll jog in the mornings on the other days, when I'm not swamped. Which means… it happens when it happens," he sighs. "Not that you'd know it to look at me, but I'm trying." Shane glances down over himself, and does a small shrug. He's lean and wiry. "Maybe if I liked donuts more I'd get somewhere," he teases, but it's rueful.

"Do you remember those awful muscle drinks I used to drink when I was in high school? Terrible, terrible chalk mixes?"

“Sounds like you know how to take care of yourself, it’s definitely a lot better than most people do so I’d say you’re succeeding,” Everleigh says, genuinely looking interested. “Do you do any sort of hand-to-hand? Like martial arts or how to punch or something?” She taps a finger on the table idly.

“Those things that I was convinced were actual chalk? I still don’t believe those things did a single thing, they just looked, tasted, and smelled gross.”

"Combat training? Some. I get by, but I'm much better with a gun. Were you interested in learning self defense, or something like that? I'm willing to teach you, absolutely, if you were. Either hand to hand or munitions," Shane offers. "I'm not a master of martial arts, though, but I have some contacts…."

Shane agrees, "Yes, the actual chalk that I tried to combine with other things so that it wasn't terrible. That stuff." Their beers are brought, and Shane thanks the waiter.

“I kinda wouldn’t mind learning how to block something. Kind of a get the heck out of there move. I’m not usually worried about anything happening but at one point I had a patient make a vague threat and it made me wonder if it might be wise to have some kind of something just in case. Just to get away, I wouldn’t want to actually fight someone.”

Everleigh has never liked the idea of a physical fight with anyone. She gives the waiter a nod and takes a sip from her beer. “So you still don’t drink that chalk stuff, right? All that,” she gestures towards him in a way that’s supposed to indicate his muscles, “is all from hard work?”

"Such as it is, yeah, this is from hard work," Shane says, glancing down at himself, then folding his arms on the table a little self-consciously. He's leanly built, his muscle is compact, more for quick bursts and agility than anything else. "I gave up on any sort of miracle formula a long while ago." He smiles a little bit.

"I'm glad to show you some self defense moves sometime, certainly, Scully. We can do some simple moves to disable an opponent, that don't require a lot of training. Generally just going for the weak points on the human body, to give a chance to get free of the situation."

“You don’t need a miracle formula, Mulder. You’re find the way you are. You’ve never needed to compete with your brother. I know there was all that shit in high school about you being in his shadow but…” Everleigh shakes her head. “You’ve done well. You’re your own brand of badass and that’s the best kind of badass to be.”

She looks down at her food, taking a bite or two as she thinks. “Yeah, that’s the sort of thing I need. I probably won’t ever need to use them, but the knowledge that I know how to handle things if something did happen is enough to give me the confidence that I can exude in order to prevent them from thinking of attacking me in the first place.” She taps her head. “Complicated mind games that come down to a little bit of simple hard work and knowledge.”

She smiles, though it almost seems a tired one. “So I’d appreciate the help, if you can squeeze more time out of your free time to show me a few things. I promise I’ll actually pay attention, too.”

"It's fine; we'll just do that on our next get-together. Instead of a movie, you can learn to try to kick me in the shins," Shane says, with a slight fake wince and wrinkle of nose. "Sounds like a fun time, doesn't it? Just what you always wanted." Shane lifts a brow at her again, his amusement clear, as he accepts his food and digs in as well into his tacos.

"I've always been in competition with Hank. For the most part, I 'won' when I became FBI, at least until I was let go." That was a hard thing to stomach: having 'won' the competition, but then realizing it wasn't going to last. "He's never really seen it that way. Which makes him a better person in some ways: he just wants me to do well too. Blast him." Shane chuckles.

“You realize I’m going to be the one hurt in the long run, right?” Everleigh holds up her skinny arms. “I’m all bones. I’ll kick you in the shins and hurt myself.” She takes a sip of her beer. “He’s a nice guy, that’s not a bad thing to have in a brother. He just never understood what it was like to live in someone else’s shadow. But, like I said, you aren’t in his.”

She scoops up some of her chili rellenos onto her fork. “And I’m in no one’s shadow so obviously I’m good in that respect.”

Shane has finished one taco, and has some of his beer as well. Moderation was learned, over the course of a number of events in his teenage years. Shane has always been a sort to enter into something 115%, and then have to slowly learn how to not be ramped up quite that far in any new activity. Passion sometimes is a great thing, though, as is ambition.

"No, you're not in a shadow, you've just been baking for too long without sunscreen?" Shane teases her. "Hank visited me early this year. We get on better now that we're older, I think. I'm an uncle, by the way, he has a little girl."

Everleigh is taking her time with things, in no particular hurry to get on with things, though she quickens her pace a little to try and keep up. She’s never particularly liked being left behind in activities, even if it meant bluffing her way through things. She’d done a lot of bluffing. “I’m half-baked alright,” she agrees with a smile. “I’m really glad that things are well with him. I imagine he makes a pretty good father.”

She likes to hear that people are doing well. There’s something about the sense of things being right in the world that comes from finding out what happened to people years later. She takes a long swig of her beer. “You know, it’s nice catching up. I know I can be a pain in the ass, but I appreciate that you’ve been hanging around.”

"You can be an acquired taste," Shane answers her wryly, with a lift of his beer towards her. "Perhaps you are an alcoholic dessert, instead of a pie," he suggests. Then pauses. "Perhaps we'd be better off just dropping the food analogies all together. Not my strong suit, I think," Shane admits.

"I suspect that he does. Probably a lot like my father, though, which means not every part of it was good. But most of it, yes. Carry on those good Bishop traditions. Short haircuts and strict bedtimes," Shane chuckles.

“That’s a very sweet way of calling me an asshole, Mulder,” Everleigh smirks, lifting her beer in his direction. “I’ll commend you on that one. As I recall, you never had much trouble with the ‘acquired taste’ of alcohol. Didn’t have a problem the first time I gave you some.” She takes a sip from her beer and goes back to her food.

“You turned out alright, so I imagine she’ll do alright too, when it comes down to it.”

"Do you need to bring that up? I'm very, very sure that I vomited," Shane winces, lifting one hand to press it over his face. Still embarrassed about that, twenty-five years later, perhaps, but at least he's laughing into his hand. "It did make me very unlikely to ever be an alcoholic, though I think my tendency to be a control-freak already destroyed that as something that'd happen to me," Shane says, shaking his head.

"I remember that party, very vaguely," Shane recalls. "We were what, fifteen, sixteen?"

“I bet you were grateful for those family short haircuts around then,” Everleigh sits back in her chair a bit and watches him. “We were young, something around then. Too young to be making those mistakes, but you’ve got to jump into some things feet first. A lot of it was fuzzy, but I remember bits and pieces of it.”

She leans forward to look at him. “You used to have pretty soft hair.”

Shane still has his face in his hand, and he spreads two lean fingers to look at her though them. He laughs a little bit, a blush arriving. He's tanned, but it still shows up: which means it's quite some blush. "Well," Shane says, rubbing a hand back over his shaved head, as if unsure what to say to it. "That is an odd bit and piece to remember. I remember very little of it. I can't remember the movie, either. Something terrible. Maybe a horror movie?" he guesses. No clue, it's been too long.

"I had a ponytail just after the issue with the FBI. First time my hair was long… ever. I realized what a horrible mistake that was soon enough and ended up here," he says, with a pass over his head and hooked smile.

Everleigh laughs, seeming delighted by the embarrassment. Not out of ill will, she genuinely seems to enjoy the fact that he can still be a little caught off guard by her. She grins back over at him. “Oh no, there was no horror movie afterwards, that I would have remembered. I was scared of my own shadow, still am if we’re being quite honest here. If there was a horror movie after the first one, that would have scarred my memory permanently. That and you’d probably have scars because I would have been hiding behind you and probably digging my nails into your back as I clung for dear life.”

She takes a swig of her beer. “No, I don’t recall much after the movie other than you getting sick. I think we might have talked through most of the movie though.” She laughs. “Some drunk teen partiers we were.”

"That's right, you never were much for scary things," Shane says, pleased at the memory of her struggle, it appears. "Even some of those sci-fi movies like 'Alien' bothered you, didn't they. Face huggers coming for you at night," Shane says in a creepy tone. She got to him a little, he's going after her in return. All in good fun, really.

"I'm glad we both remember me getting sick," Shane says ruefully. "But hardly surprising. I'm surprised we both weren't, after that. Crazy teens, huh?" he asks, looking into his beer, shaking his head, and taking a drink as well.

“It’s mostly the jump scares that terrify me more than the actual creatures. I just don’t like being startled. It’s like those fainting goats, you scream at them and they pass right out. That’s me. Not so much with the passing out, but it only takes a little for me to react far more than anticipated.”

Everleigh chuckles, lifting her glass a bit as she peers at him from behind it. “I do recall something else you said, though.” She sips from her beer. “Bunch of crazy drunk kids, we were.” She leans forward a bit. “How much do you remember?”

"Something else I said?" Shane asks. He stares at her, certainly trying to pull it up. "This is a little embarrassing, my memory's usually great. What.. are you suggesting I need to remember?"

Shane doesn't retreat, but he does stop eating, looking stumped. "Did I do something worse than being sick? That does sound like me, I was good at talking."

Everleigh laughs again, though it’s gentle—she doesn’t want to poke fun at it. “I don’t blame you for not remembering, I kind of was in and out of things but I think you were pretty out of it when you made the suggestion.” She leans in a bit. “Don’t worry, it’s not worse than being sick.” She pauses. “Objectively. Anyway, I remember you just sort of casually suggesting we make out.”

She lifts her beer and raises it like she’s toasting him before the takes a long swallow of it. But she’s mostly using it to hide behind.

Shane was, perhaps not wisely, taking a drink of his beer. He chokes into it as she comes out with what exactly she remembers. "You… remembered that?" Shane asks, laughing, and unsure what to make of it. Clearly it being the thing she remembered means something: that the event meant something to her.

"Did we do it?" Shane asks, brows lifting, though it doesn't look like he'd be upset at either answer. "I'm guessing you gently turned me down?"

“We didn’t. I would have certainly remembered my first kiss. It’s a good thing it didn’t happen, imagine waking up later and remembering that and having to deal with that awkwardness for the rest of high school.” Everleigh chuckles again, looking back over towards him. “But I don’t think I did say no. I didn’t say yes, but I think I remember just being really confused and asking you why. I don’t know if you ever gave me an answer. I don’t think you were thinking about it, you were just saying stuff. Or you were bored.”

She moves to finish off her plate before speaking again. “It’s just funny the stuff you remember.”

"Good thing it didn't? Ouch, let me extract this knife from my heart," Shane says, with one hand splayed over his heart on his chest, smirking. "I don't entirely remember this — well, at all, honestly, but I doubt I would have jeopardized our friendship intentionally. I'm sorry if this has bothered you for decades," Shane gives her curious and slightly concerned look.

"For most of highschool I was just frustrated, I think; couldn't get the girls to see anything except a nerd," he chuckles. "Now… I just don't have time."

Shane pauses. "Wait. You would have remembered your first kiss ….. Who was it, if I can ask?"

“Hey now, I just wanted to make sure the friendship wasn’t awkward so I was being extra careful,” Everleigh protests. “And it hasn’t bothered me for decades, I forgot about it because I haven’t had reason to recall my first drunken escapade.” She rolls her eyes, but takes another long sip of her beer. “Remember the one time I actually went to a dance? With Oliver Wilson? I thought I’d just do the whole high school experience and…” She pauses.

“My phrasing is bad here. I went to a dance and I kissed a boy, that is it, it was a thing that I did once because I figured that’s what you do in high school. So now you know why I skipped out on hanging out with you. Ugh, I honestly wish in retrospect that it had just been us as my first kiss because at least there would be a legitimate excuse for it to be awkward. Oliver and I weren’t even drunk.”

She makes a face. “Anyway, I just don’t do that sort of thing now. My business is getting to know people, not letting people get to know me. I eat sleep and breathe my profession ninety-nine percent of the time. I don’t know that relationships are really a me thing anymore. I like to watch them from a distance.”

"I remember Oliver; I think he bragged about the kiss to me," Shane says with a roll of his eyes and smirk. "I think I didn't react enough for him, and he didn't know what to do with it after that." Shane settles back in his chair, stretching out one leg under the table, but not in a manner that would kick her at all, just to rest it on a table leg.

"You've implied that I'd always be awkward to kiss, let me put that knife next to this other one," Shane teases, patting his chest slightly to one side of where the other pat had been. He's smirking, though, he's pretending to be injured: he isn't, not really. "Anyway, I don't really do them either," Shane lifts just one shoulder in a partial shrug. "The relationship thing, that is. Maybe that's what my ability is: woman repellant," he chuckles.

“It’s a good thing I’ve ripped out my heart and keep it in a box in my closet or that would have hit me right there,” Everleigh looks at him with a disappointed expression. “Woman repellant? What exactly does that make me? Good lord. I’m going to keep thinking you’d be an awkward kiss then, keep the scales even here.” She shakes her head with a laugh.

“Come on, you at least have the benefit of cute coworkers, all I see are patients all day and I have to look at them with a very different sort of eye,” she leans forward, secretive-like. “So you’re saying you haven’t at least visually scanned them for attractiveness? Come on.”

"I knew you'd not let me get away with that self-deprecation," Shane snorts, with a laugh. He was joking, to some degree, and he is now, by and large. There's roots of truth to jokes, which is that he probably sabotages himself in some way, and he knows that.

"I did have a brief relationship in the Florida precinct, yes, all right," Shane says, lifting one hand as if to fend her off. "Amiable separation," Shane adds. "Work is more important, such as the opportunity to come here. And yes, I'm aware of my coworkers, there are possible candidates, but this isn't high school," he laughs.

“I’m pretty sure that’s how adults find significant others, Mulder. Work and bumping into each other in the grocery store. So unless you’ve got someone in aisle five…” Everleigh peers over at him, though she’s certainly grinning now. “Just, you know, keep me updated. You see coworkers all the time. It’s almost as if it’s a conveniently located dating pool. Everyone meets at work these days.”

She finishes off the rest of her beer. “Plus then you know you can still be dedicated to the job, a coworker certainly doesn’t get in the way of work.” She puts the back of her hand to her forehead dramatically. “I have no such luck and will be alone all my days. Go live so I can live vicariously through your stories.”

"I think you just need to work harder to cure people," Shane replies serenely. "Once they're all better, then they are no longer your client, and you can ask them out," Shane decides for her promptly.

"I may have approached it that way with people involved in cases. Once the case is over.." Shane lifts his hands, chuckling. Whether he has actually made a move on a witness from a case is probably questionable, but the logic is still there.

“That assumes that I look at them during my time with them as something other than a patient, and that’s unprofessional,” Everleigh rolls her eyes. “A witness for you is someone you just interview for information. It’s also a brief period of time. It’s a lot of work to maintain emotional distance from people who you care about. And it’s impossible to not care because if you didn’t care then you wouldn’t be a good doctor.”

She gestures with her fork. “So you either compromise all you’re working for by getting your own feelings brought too far into things, or you maintain appropriate emotional control and send them on their way. If they come out of things viewing me as a person I haven’t done my job well enough. I am a caricature. Someone distant, but not uncaring.” She sets her fork down. “It’s painful but rewarding work.”

"You're constantly with people and bettering their lives, but you're lonely at the core," Shane says, thoughtful, watching her evenly. She's got his analysis going: he was trying not to (really trying not to), but it's just something that happens. Just like her looking at what he's doing, and being unable to resist.

"I've heard your cry for help, I will attempt to set you up?" Shane says, eyes narrowing into a sly expression.

Mulder, I swear to god you will do nothing of the sort or they’re going to be trying to solve your murder case,” Everleigh huffs. She’s got the fork again, which is suddenly looking more like a deadly weapon. “Don’t make me regret spending my valuable time to hang out with you. I do not need a relationship. Interacting with people on a long term basis is exhausting and so I am very picky with who I let do that.” She narrows her eyes. “So don’t make me regret my decision.”

The fork is slowly returned to the table. Slowly.

"Oh. More just a casual sex thing, for physical needs?" Shane asks, innocently. "You should have led with that. That's fine." Shane eats his food in a relaxed way, teasing her with just a straight look.

"I'm not afraid of your fork," Shane adds, with a gesture to it with a few taco-messy fingers.

“Gah! You’re impossible,” Everleigh shakes her head. “For everyone else, human contact is great. I’m off-limits to the world, by choice. Someone has to do this job. I have not met a soul on this planet who can convince me I need to be otherwise and I don’t plan on letting anyone even have that chance.” She narrows her eyes. “So remember that. Off-limits, everyone, ever.” She looks down at the table.

“And you should be terrified of my fork. You don’t know where this has been.”

Shane watches her with a mix of dismay and empathy, but he doesn't put either emotion into words. There isn't much TO say to that sort of comment. He suspects if he just waits, she'll elaborate, or defend her choice more.

Besides, what to say to someone that is this defensive? Finally, though, he says, "Are you truly /that/ altruistic, without other motive for yourself?" It's an echo of something she challenged him with the last time they met up.

“What on earth would I get out of this?” Everleigh actually seems surprised at the suggestion. Maybe it’s nothing she’s ever thought about. “It probably lowers my frustration with humankind in general, knowing that there’s at least a chance some of them will sort their lives out and live on happily.” There’s a bit of a shrug. “Maybe I enjoy making an impact. That would make sense, right?” She waves the fork around a bit. “Maybe I’m just shit at being a person and I don’t want anyone else to be like me.”

She seems thoughtful. “Maybe the last one, yeah. Lost causes and all that.”

"I meant… does it make it easier to…" Shane pauses. He's actually being tactful; he's capable of it, and he's watching himself. Those twenty-five years have put some restraint into Shane, and it might be interesting to see if work. He isn't going to lie, but he doesn't need to smash her in the face with the question, either.

"Is saying you're off-limits to the world in order to do your job a way to also hide from the world? If it wasn't for the job, wouldn't you still be off-limits?"

Everleigh sets the fork down. “It sure is easier to explain that way, isn’t it?” Her voice is softer, he’s hit on territory she’s not used to treading on and it’s instantly obvious. “Given that the last question can only be hypothetical, I suppose it’s probably still true. I have the job which means we’ll never really know the answer to that one.”

She lifts her beer to drink as a distraction but part-way realizes she’s already finished it and sets it back down. “Nice sleuthing, Mulder. That’s what they pay you the big bucks for, right?”
"Just trying to help you aim that powerful microscope you own at yourself a little bit. What would you tell me if I explained I had to be completely unavailable socially to do my job. Would you fear I'd slowly be melting down, lacking any outlets or coping mechanisms?" Shane eats one of the chips from the center, but then looks down into his food, not at her.

"Maybe think about it, is what I'm suggesting," Shane says. "You might be more effective if you don't burn out, in the long run. And I can say that as someone that forced himself to take a break, not just out of my ass."

Everleigh looks at him seriously, even if he doesn’t look back. “I’m fully aware of how fucked up it is. I’m fully aware I’m a hypocrite and I don’t shy away from that. If you did what I’m doing I’d tell you that you’re an amazing person denying the world the joy that is you. But I’d tell that to you because I know you and I can see your potential.” It’s probably easier to say that when he’s not looking right at her.

“Maybe burn out has always figured into the plan. Maybe that’s the end of the plan. I go as far as I can get until it’s over.” She shakes her head. “This isn’t just the kind of you just take a break from. I stop this, even for a second, and what do I have?” She holds up her empty hands. “Nothing.”

"What makes you think that you're not amazing?" Shane asks her, simply, direct, meeting her eyes if she can hold his gaze. "Preventing yourself from having more is what makes that 'nothing'. That's self inflicted. It's like lamenting you're out of milk after you just threw it all in the trash."

Shane shakes his head, "That's also really limited. I thought all I had was work. During my break, I found out otherwise. Taking the blinders off, getting out of this narrow vision about it… I recommend it, but you'll do what you will, I know that."

In fact, he's sad about it, and resumes eating. She's more stubborn than he is in a lot of ways, and he knows better than to really push on her; it'll just cause a fight, he suspects.

“Mulder, you know me. I’ve never been amazing, I’ve been awkward and weird and amazing has certainly never been a word used to describe me, so I don’t know why you’d consider it now,” Everleigh doesn’t look away, but the gaze looks like it’s taking effort to hold. “I don’t claim to say that everything I do is healthy, but it’s sure nice to know that it’s always been me causing my own problems.”

She shrugs. “It’s great to know the villain in your own origin story, you know?” She shoves a sole grain of rice around her plate with her fork. “Maybe this was a mistake.”

"Is the problem that I'm wrong?" Shane asks. "If it is, tell me how wrong I am," he invites, gesturing for her to 'bring it'. He's done the gesture before; he's sturdy, he can take a battering, if it helps her get some emotion out of the vault.

"Tell me that my opinion of you being amazing, in that you are strong and smart as hell, is wrong," Shane says. He gives her an exasperated sigh, shakes his head, and finishes his tacos, dismayed.

"If you don't let anybody else in, I guess that does leave you as the villain. I hadn't thought about it."

She rubs her face, suddenly looking tired. “No,” Everleigh agrees. She doesn’t look much like fighting. She seems like she’s struggling to put words together, like it’s an effort to try and explain herself. “You know I invited more than just you to that party, right?” It’s an odd question to be peppered in the mix, and it certainly sounds abrupt, but she puts it out there and then quickly elaborates on it. “No one wanted to come. You’re the only person.”

She gestures around. “I’m a party no one shows up to, and if you put yourself at the door as a bouncer, then at least it’s under your terms. It doesn’t matter who shows up, they can’t get in anyway. You win.” She picks up the grain of rice between her fingers, studying it as if it were something significant. “I’m not the architect of my own demise. That would assume I have more power over my life than I do. There’s always, always another factor in stupid coping mechanisms.”

The rice grain is discarded to the plate again. “I’m here, talking with you because you are the only person whose opinion matters anymore. Because, frankly, you’re the only person on this planet I give a damn about.” She pauses. “Other planets have yet to be decided.” It’s there a joke. She’s trying to lighten the seriousness, but her expression betrays that she’s worried that even that has fallen flat.

"The party where I threw up in the chip bowl?" Shane asks. He's just checking to be sure he's thinking of the correct party, though it does come with a slight wince. Still, this isn't about him, and he doesn't make it about him. "I didn't know that. How come you lied about it?" Shane asks, more quietly. "I wasn't, and don't, judge you. I didn't throw parties; you put yourself out there, at least."

“I lied because I didn’t want you to pity me or not have fun, I just wanted to be able to hang out. If you were having fun, I could have fun too. I know it sounds stupid in retrospect,” Everleigh frowns. “I tried things and they just didn’t work out. Story of my life. So I’m sticking to the one thing I’m good at, which is my job.”

She pauses, and it’s a good long pause. “Two good things. I’m pretty okay at managing to be your friend. Maybe I’m not great, but you’re still here so it’s something, right?”

"I probably would have just said they were dumb and we'd have a good time to spite them. I was into spite; maybe I still am, a little bit."

"It's something…? Maybe," Shane says, with a brief smile, "Though suggesting having dinner with me was a mistake does sting a little. Good thing I'm resilient." Shane relaxes in his chair a little. "Which isn't to say I haven't hit you with some hard words either. I'm not trying to suggest I didn't. We're both good at the knives." He pauses as the waiter brings the bill.

"Being bad at something isn't a reason to not do it, though. I was bad at a lot of things. Embrace the badness. Get better at it. I was trash at the guitar. Now I'm… not quite as trash at it. Perfectionism in all things feels like being unhappy."

“Shoving a knife in someone effectively is simply a matter of knowing them,” Everleigh chuckles. “Why do you think it’s so easy for romantic relationships to fall apart and result in arguing? They don’t know each other well enough to know where not to stab or they do know each other well enough and are intentionally stabbing where it hurts. Big mess, lots of blood.”

She eyes him carefully. “I already have a hobby, I don’t need to be bad at something else.”

"Wait. What's the hobby?" Shane asks, quickly.


The sound Everleigh makes is an awkward one. “Don’t you dare laugh at me. I swear, you laugh at me and I walk out of here right now.” The fork is back and it’s sure threatening this time. “I make costumes. Like… sewing and designing and stuff? I don’t usually make anything for myself, but I do a lot for other things. If there are any good costumes in a small theater in the Safe Zone, it’s probably me.”

She’s waiting for him to not laugh, fork at the ready.

"Oh. Okay," Shane says, without laughing. It's surprise, though. "I didn't know you could sew at all. Do you also do alterations? Shortening pants, that sort of thing?" Shane asks, smoothly moving into curiosity. He isn't laughing, though; he can see the usefulness to the skill.

"What was the last play you made costumes for?"

“I mean, yeah, I can do alterations. I don’t tend to have much need for it unless I’ve made a costume and I have to adjust it to fit someone a little bit better,” Everleigh puts her fork down. Crisis averted. “I made a bunch of costumes for a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in the 1920s. All flapper dresses and suits, really, but it was fun.”

She smiles. “Beadwork is a bitch, though. Takes up too much time. I hardly have time as is.”

"Then you," Shane begins, "Have a place to meet people also. Another person that works theater, that you have that hobby in common. You can date a drama geek," he supplies to her, sly. "Sit together and bead. I suppose I could meet someone that plays an instrument."

Shane pauses. "See, this is why we meet up. I'll solve both our problems, like that," he snaps his fingers. Shane has always been a troubleshooter and problem solver, and he looks particularly self-satisfied about his solutions.

“Oh god, no dating. No dating. I don’t date. I hate people, remember? That’s never changed.” Everleigh eyes him. “If I see you out on a date with someone, I’ll consider it, but until you do it, I’m not even thinking about it. I’m the hypocrite, not you.” She smirks. “So consider that a challenge.”

She’s not entirely sure if she’s hoping he’ll fail because she doesn’t want to consider the possibility of a date with anyone, or she’s hoping he’ll have a successful date but unfortunately be subjected to the ritualistic habits of humankind. “Drama geek. Bah.”

Shane's laughing as he subtly pays the bill that was brought to them. It is his turn, though, but he doesn't make a big deal out of it at all. Just puts down the cash and it's over with.

"If I'm on a date I probably am not going to call you to witness it. You're going to have to trust that it happened if I tell you it happened," Shane warns, as she says she wants to 'see' the date. "I will consider it a challenge, yes. The gauntlet has been thrown down."

“I’ll know if you lie to me, that’s my job. I always know when someone’s lying to me,” Everleigh insists. She does note the bill, but she doesn’t comment on it. “And I don’t expect you to call me anyway, that would be very weird and probably scare her off. It’s best not to tell her about this little challenge. It would probably ruin your chances of getting a second date.”

She smirks. “And I’ll know if you’re trying to sabotage yourself too. It’s my job. You’ll never be able to keep a secret from me, Mulder. You’re doomed.”

"Think so?" Shane asks, with a sly, brief smirk. He lifts his shoulders, as if he had some private amusement. Does he have a secret?! "Entirely doomed, I suppose. I'm glad you're resisting the urge to even further turn this into a strange Rom-Com plotline. Dares are very 1990, Scully."

“I mean, if you don’t want to participate in this dare you don’t have to. No skin off my nose,” Everleigh looks back at him. “Seriously though, I do hope something like that works out for you. I’d like to see you not dig yourself further into the same pit I’m in. Follow in your brother’s footsteps… get married, have a little girl. You’d be a great dad. Weird, but great.”

She smirks. “Also, I’ve heard the 90s are making a comeback. People miss those simpler days.”

“Like our Ghostbuster show today? I’m okay with it. I miss some parts of those days. Not the high school part, though. That really did suck.” Shane smirks back.

“I’m going to stay out of my brothers shadow, thanks. I’ll figure out what’s me. Two boys, two girls, maybe.” He’s competitive.

“High school was terrible, yes,” Everleigh laughs, shaking her head. “I don’t miss those days in the slightest. What I do miss is being able to have limitless free time to do whatever hangout activity we felt like doing. It was nice to see someone I enjoyed being around all the time and not have to worry about scheduling too much. Schedules are killer, these days.”

She looks at him. “You’ll do well, I believe in you. I’m a pretty good judge of character, you know.”

“Yeah, any baby I’m like ‘nah, don’t like your character’, I can just make another one,” Shane jokes smoothly, deliberately ‘misunderstanding’ her. “Bad character, I’ll know it’s their mom’s fault. Easy.”

“Schedules are, but soon enough we will be retired and back to whatever we feel like doing, right? So long as our broken hips don’t get in the way.”

“Not quite what I meant, Mulder,” Everleigh is trying hard not to facepalm. She knows he’s joking, but it doesn’t change how bad it is. “We aren’t old enough for retirement, got another thirty years at least. At least. You make it sound like we’re ancient. I’ve got the rest of my good years ahead of me.”

She looks at him carefully. “God, you’d be actually telling dad jokes, wouldn’t you? As a father, I mean. You’d be actually telling them.”

"I consider it a badge of honor to be in the position to tell them without being ironic. I'd have to. I'd be unable to resist." Shane sighs deeply, "The idea is, of course, to make the children embarrassed by you. Builds character. And entertains the parent. That's my view on it, anyway."

Shane would certainly be a weird dad. And he'd probably relish that title. A different type of perfectionism. "But that is, I think, a long way off. Might want to do the date thing first." Shane shakes his head, finishing his beer off.

“My parents were great parents and they certainly never told bad jokes. Maybe they were a little uptight at times, but they were nice enough.” Everleigh wrinkles her nose. “Maybe they could have stood to tell some bad jokes.” She folds her arms, glancing at him. “Well, one would hope the date came first. I’m sure we’ll see that whole situation unfold when the time is right.”

She’s already plotting out Shane’s imaginary life, and she doesn’t seem to have any qualms about making that obvious as she watches him.

"You'll be giving me advice along the way, I hope?" Shane laughs, smirking and then shaking his head. The waiter is starting to look impatient; a few of the workers are starting to put chairs up on tables so they can clean the floor.

At some point it got late. Shane watches them a moment and then looks at Everleigh. "I think it got late, Scully," Shane says in dismay, and starts to get to his feet, removing his jacket from the back of the chair. "I guess we'll need to do a part two to this?"

“Of course I’ll be giving you advice. I’m always there to look out for you, Mulder.” Everleigh gets to her feet, looking in his direction has she stretches, then scoots her chair in. “It did get late. I’m used to late nights, though.” She begins to move towards the door. “I’ll be sure to fit you in to my schedule, pretty sure it’s usually pretty flexible for you.”

She looks over her shoulder at him. “So part two it is.”

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