everleigh_icon.gif zachery2_icon.gif

Scene Title Farce
Synopsis Seeking therapy out is one thing, getting it assigned is another. Less than pleased, Zachery resists every step of the way. Everleigh's Dr. Madison's patience holds, despite.
Date December 10, 2020

One room adjacent to Raytech's biotech lab is often mistaken for a closet, and it takes only a cursory glance inside to see why.

It's small, for one thing, shelves along one wall piles with smaller equipment not currently required in the lab itself. The space that's left is barely big enough for the door-facing desk that has been hauled in here, a rolling chair on either side of it. Between a flipped over notebook and a closed laptop lies a half eaten ham sandwich on a paper towel.

Zachery Miller, still in his lab coat, is sitting taking his god damned lunch in here and will be glaring at the half open door while he does it, for reasons.

The moment he sees movement out there, accompanied by the footsteps of a familiar security guard, Zachery grates, "Just come in, please don't knock. We're both here because we have to be, so let's get this over with, shall we."

As requested, Dr. Madison enters without a knock of greeting, but with a pace that seems less casual and more relaxed than overburdened with clinical professionalism. "That's where you're wrong," Everleigh says slowly. She steps in far enough inside the lab to be considered inside it—but unobtrusively. A careful approach, perhaps.

"You assume I'm here because it's required of me. I'm here because I choose to be. What's stopping me from walking out of here and going back to my office and closing my office up and never coming back? It's not something I have to do. Neither do you, technically. You could just leave. But you're not because your job seems more important to you than having to talk to someone about issues you're probably going to deny you have."

Zachery clicks his tongue in disdain, wry grin spreading as he replies in clipped words, "We could both also go live out on the street in a big pot carrying a light and looking for honesty in a world that lacks it, but."

He pauses, gesturing - with his picked up sandwich and all - to the chair ahead of him. "I'm sure we both like sustenance. So have a seat."

"There are plenty of things well within our capacity to do," Everleigh notes, making her way over to sit on the suggested chair. There's no clipboard, no notepad, just the woman herself as she sits back to observe Zachery for a moment. "Here's the thing—this isn't your choice. That's fine… but you're stuck doing it. That's out of your hands. The thing that is your choice is what exactly you get out of doing this. You might as well make your time useful."

She presses her lips together in a thin line. "So do you have anything you want to start with, or am I going to have to slowly pry information out of you question by question until you actually talk?"

Zachery leans forward. "I have something I want to start with. A question for you."

He narrows his eyes, one an ill-matched white. "How short can we make this to where it will still count as a session? A minute? Thirty seconds? Introductions? Maybe we're done already, and I can get back to work. It's been swell," the word leaves him with a pleasant office smile but a tone of voice that might as well have the venom dripping from it. "See you in… a month?"

He sits back, and takes a bite of his sandwich.

Everleigh hasn’t moved, nor does she even shift slightly as if to rise to her feet. Instead, she relaxes. “The hard way, huh?” There’s almost a touch of something akin to pity in her tone. She doesn’t answer anything he’s asked, she merely levels her gaze in Zachary’s direction.

“So what is it that makes you so afraid of therapy?” The word is purposefully drawn out.

Zachery almost seems to choke on his sandwich for a moment, until he sharply breathes out a laugh through his nostrils and swallows his bite down to say, "Is this what fear looks like to you?" He angles his head to the side, fixing Everleigh with a knitted brow of faked concern. "Maybe we should talk about that. Must've confused the piss out of your bullies."

“No, that was me seeing how you’d react.”

There’s amusement in her tone, but Everleigh doesn’t seem phased in the slightest. “Funny, though, if you aren’t scared why are you trying so hard to make this conversation about me? We both know this is about you. So why hide from it? Do you really think you have anything to gain by acting like this?”

"I'm filling time, aren't I?" Zachery fires back without pause. "And since you've not left yet, I imagine you have a schedule to fill in with wasted time. So - look at me, I'm helping both of us feel like we've achieved something with what might otherwise have been an uneventful spot of lunch."

And with that, he begins working the rest of his sandwich down, without breaking eye contact. If only he'd thought to bring coffee to wash this down with, but maybe he's bitter enough already without the Raytech machines' swill.

“Like I said, I don’t have to be here, but you do. Who said any of this is wasted time?” Everleigh makes and keeps the eye contact like they’ve suddenly decided to start some kind of therapeutic staring contest. “You’re still avoiding talking about yourself. In fact, you aren’t filling the time, you’re stalling.”

She gives a half shrug without breaking the stare. “So are you going to tell me why you’re afraid or are you going to cower behind witty banter forever? Not that I don’t appreciate banter, mind you… you just haven’t convinced me you aren’t scared.”

Zachery does not have an immediate answer to this. But neither is he losing this staring contest, sitting up a little straighter as his expression clears.

"And I'm not convinced that I care about your opinion about my state of being, so that's an interesting impasse at which we find ourselves." He inhales, and with it, something slightly more alert seems to creep into his gaze. Some added confidence, for reasons unstated, which finds itself also in his persisting smile. "A fascinating little cul-de-sac of conversational stagnation, the only way out of which is… well. Waiting here forever or…"

He searches for the next word, so hard, like it's just really very extraordinarily difficult to find - until with a raise of his brow, he tacks on, "Ah! Or leaving, I suppose. What a novel idea."


Everleigh keeps her gaze steady. It’s a little hard to tell her comfort level with the continued gaze, but it doesn’t seem like she plans on backing down. If nothing else, she’s persistent. “You’re very much taking the wrong view here. These are observations, not opinions, and this isn’t some test you have to pass. The whole point of this is to make sure you have the entire set of tools you need to deal with things on a psychological level.”

There’s a slow breath, though once again, it registers hard to make out. “You do realize I’m not at liberty to discuss this with anyone outside this room. So the only opinion in here that makes a difference is yours. Why not give it a shot?”

A flicker of confusion comes across Zachery's features, but his smile widens into a grin more suited to mockery than civil conversation. "Well!" He continues, voice painfully cheerful, both hands landing on his desk as if they've reached some sort of conclusion, "In that case, I'd like to confirm that I have the entire set of tools I need to deal with things on a…"

Without looking away, one of his hands swipes inward, but— it's to grab the half eaten sandwich that is no longer there, and the handful of paper towel and crumbs that ends up in his fist gives him pause. His gaze flicks downward to it, finally, before landing back on Everleigh's face with his grin having weakened considerably.

"… Psychological level." He finishes, still, if a little late. "So. Off you go."


Everleigh doesn’t explain the counting, but when the eye contact is broken, she leans to rest her back more against the back of her chair. Something more relaxed. “So if you’re fully equipped to deal with things on your own, what methods are you using to cope with stress or anxiety? How about your relationships with others around you? What is it that makes you think you’re,” she pauses there, directing her gaze briefly to the wad of paper and crumbs in his hand, “entirely equipped to handle everything?”

Meanwhile, Zachery's shoulders push back, just a little. "I've got— literal brain damage," he argues, pushing the paper towel aside until it drops off the desk entirely, and he crosses his arms over one another. "From a biopsy back in November. Forgetfulness is par for the course."

The rest of his grin disappears, his face lifting. "I'm eating better, exercising, exploring new hobbies, seeking out friends for activities, taking frequent breaks, and setting realistic goals." All of this leaves him with the distinct cadence of something he's said many times before. The new half dozen leave him with a more sincere acridity. "And, of course, being kind to myself."

Then, the next beat, he adds flatly, "What are you counting?"


Everleigh glances back over, her face still calm. Unphased. “Is your new hobby attempting to lie to your therapist? Because you might want to work a bit harder at that, you’re reading pretty high on the bullshit scale.” She glances over to where the paper towel ended up. “Brain damage. Not an easy thing to get over. Physically and emotionally. Do you feel like it changed you, aside from forgetfulness? Has it changed how you look at yourself?”

"You know, it's funny," Zachery answers in the crisp but humourless affect of someone who does not, in fact, think it's funny, "I am actually very presently questioning some decisions I've made recently. Take, for instance, talking to you, in fact! So maybe you're right after all, maybe I don't have to do this."

His arms come up with along with his eyebrows, in an expression of feigned surprise! Then, his hands slam back down onto his armrests and he shoves his chair back, rising to his feet. "Maybe I could just leave! Wouldn't that be something. Shall weeee find out if I can? Will my legs work?"

He takes a few steps— but stops, ending up next to Everleigh with a palm pressed to his desk as he leans closer and asks, one more time, voice lowered as he stares directly into her face, "What are you counting?"


Everleigh levels her gaze, peering back as she's directly looked at. "I'm counting how many times you've avoided talking about yourself in favor of avoiding it by being angry or talking about how pointless this is. If you weren't scared, you wouldn't have a problem answering a few minor questions. But, instead, every time I ask you a question about yourself or something going on with you, you've avoided it. And I'm going to keep on counting until you actually stop for two seconds and get introspective. It's not going to kill you."

She lets out a small breath. "You have the capacity to leave. You have legs. As far as I can see they work. You can go storming out of here like you're having a temper tantrum. But the real question is: will you? There are, after all, complications for just leaving. If you'd rather face those instead of just having a nice little chat with me, go right ahead. I'm not stopping you. You're stopping you. So I'm going to ask again, why are you so afraid?"

Seconds of silence pass, Zachery frozen in place. Before, ultimately, his eye darts to the side and he looks past her.

There isn't enough room for him to pace in here, so he just— rounds his desk again, until he's standing back on his side to say, grimly, "It wouldn't change anything."

Before Everleigh thinks to answer, he lifts a hand as if to stop her and says firmly, "You can't force someone into doing better. Functioning better. It was one thing when I sought it out myself, but you!" He gestures toward his guest like she were some sort of plate topped with the wrong order. "Why do you think I have to be afraid in order to choose not to do something? I'm not afraid to put my left shoe on my right foot every morning, am I?" He laughs, bitter and sharp.

Everleigh doesn't add a number to the total. He did, technically, answer a question. Instead, she leans forward in her chair slightly. "I'm not the one whose employer thinks mandatory therapy is important. Nor is anyone forcing you to do anything. You can certainly choose not to answer, but the whole point in mandatory therapy is to help you. If you're just stalling and making excuses and refusing to do anything, you're wasting your own time. You're going to still have to sit here and deal with me asking you questions. If you actually want to do something productive with your time, we can give it a shot."

She rests her elbow on the arm of the chair, then her chin in her hand. "So why are you so convinced it wouldn't change anything? You haven't tried."

… No, fuck that.

"Alright," Zachery hisses out with a scowl and somehow renewed energy before saying, "We're doing this? Let's do this. You're insufferable."

He sinks back into his chair with a wordless noise of frustration, arms spread out wide at his sides.

"Surely by now you've caught onto the fact that even if, if!" He pauses, leaning toward to loudly thunk both of his elbows onto the desk as if by way of punctuation, then continues in a normal speaking voice. "If I were afraid, I'm the sort of person who might sooner die than let that theoretical tidbit leave his mouth as anything recognisable as having the same zipcode as truth. So is this quite the right approach?"

His fingers rap impatiently against the desk. "No matter what the answer is?"

Everleigh leans against the arm of her chair a bit. "I don't care what you think of me. It's not important as to how you feel about me. I'm here to find ways for you to think about you. If I'm insufferable? Good. Then find what works better. That's the whole point. You're the one who knows you best, the only one inside your head the way no one else is. So you tell me what helps you. You've made a very clear point why this method doesn't work."

She watches him for a moment more before sitting up. "Admitting fear or anxiety doesn't need to be something you verbalize. Recognizing it is important. Recognizing why you can't admit that is also important. That's something for you to look at for yourself." She gives a vague gesture in Zachery's direction. "You've got plenty going through your head. I don't think anyone questions that. The idea is, though, I'm here to help you get rid of the stuff you don't want, realize things about the stuff you do, and put it in its place. We're all shit at processing things because we're in our own heads so we can't see the perspective of others without a little nudge."

"So tell me, what's the right approach? What would help you?"

Zachery's attention slips off to the side while Everleigh talks, like he might have an easier time imagining being anywhere else during this whole conversation than listening to it.

Or, going by the tension still clearly in his posture, murdering someone.

But he is listening, which becomes evident the moment he is asked that last question, and levels an unamused stare at Everleigh to reply in no uncertain terms, "If I knew what would help me, I would be doing it."

"Now that you've admitted that you need some kind of help you're not finding on your own, that's a good place to start," Everleigh notes. Regardless of the venom, she still seems casual about everything. Not quite clinical, but an air of professionalism with a dab of tough love. "There are lots of different things we can focus on and try, but the thing is… I'm not here to do the work. You solve your own problems. Like you said, if you knew what would help, you'd do it. I'm just here to help you figure out what that thing is."

Shifting her gaze back in his direction, she tilts her head in askance. "Are you ready to try and figure that out or are you going to glare at me all day?"

Zachery groans, rolling the one eye he's got left before the noise floods over into another laugh born purely out of exasperation.

He has a decision to make, but before he manages to put anywhere near enough thought into it, he hears himself answer in a voie so full of spite you could probably roast a marshmallow over it, "You, nor anything else, is going to stop me from doing both."

Because fuck you, there was a third option.

Still infuriatingly calm, Everleigh actually seems amused at the reaction. "I never said I'd stop you. You're more than capable of doing whatever you'd like." She tilts her head as she observes him. "Again, I'm just here to help you brainstorm, in a way. We're throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. If glaring at me really makes you feel better about all of this, go for it. See if it helps. We've got to find a place to start, though. You already said that if you knew what would help you'd already be doing it."

She raises an eyebrow. "So… you must have some idea you need help of some kind. What jumped into your head immediately when you said that?"

And glare Zachery does, cold and unyielding. If he could push with it, Everleigh's chair would be scraping its way out the door.

But he can't, and so he says with annoyance still attached to his voice like a weight, "Fine. For the purposes of you leaving, eventually, one fucking hopes, let's spin the wheel of misfortune and pick a subject, shall we? You get one. Then you go."

He deliberately does not pause long enough for a verbal response, continuing to rattle on. "I want to leave. Not just here, anywhere I go. There's never a moment I'm where I want to be, ever, and save for a couple of delusional months last year, that's how it's always been. Where would I like to be, I hear you ask?"

He leans forward, motioning as if he's laying some physical object out on the desk for Everleigh to deal with. "I have no fucking clue, and never have."

With Zachery already talking, Everleigh makes no verbal response to his suggestion of them getting one subject. She tilts her head in the slightest hint of agreement, simply listening to his assessment of the situation. After a moment, she nods a bit. "Alright, that's a good place to start. Something's keeping you from being and staying settled. You may not even know what it is you're looking for, but you're introspective enough to determine that you aren't where you want to be."

She leans forward, just slightly. "What was so different during those 'delusional months' you mentioned? It's clearly enough of something for you to comment on it."

Zachery freezes, failing to immediately answer. He sits almost perfectly still until - with a twitch of jaw muscles tightening - he takes his next breath to say unkindly, "A future."

He leans back, and is quick to correct, "The semblance of one, anyway, before it fell apart, as things tend to do when you try and force yourself into a role to which you are not suited. The world, or God," mentioned with disdain dragging his voice lower, "Or fate or— the natural fucking way the dice land every now and then when chance rounds the street corner in front of you with a knife at the ready in its wretched little claws, at random or at least unfathomably spaced intervals. Take your pick."

His glare at Everleigh loses some of its edge, even if his voice remains steady when he concludes confidently, "It's inescapable."

"So instead of trying to face the facts that things are hard you'd rather blame fate or dice? It's easy to let yourself off the hook if you're convinced you can't do anything. If it's inescapable, then obviously you trying has no point. You defeat yourself before you even try because it's the easy way out. You aren't giving yourself any agency, you're giving an excuse."

Everleigh's expression is thoughtful as she continues. "Who is to say you can't make a future the way you want to in a role you are suited for? What does that look like for you?"

Almost the exact same moment Everleigh starts talking again, Zachery shuts back down - turning his face up to the ceiling with an exasperated sigh, all the way until she's done talking, so he can fix her with the exact same look of rejection he'd had on his face before.

"I told you," leaves him sharply, with a new, thin smile as forced as his continued presence within the room. "I have no fucking clue. I've tried to change that, and it's never going to change. Three decades of trying to be people I'm not, three fucking decades of being told I'll figure it out, and yet I'm no single fucking inch closer to achieving or believing it."

He leans back in his chair and continues with a lighter note, "What I do/ believe, however, is that we've discussed our //one topic - and it's time to show you the door." Which he does, oh so generously, by gesturing toward said door behind his visitor. "Good bye—" He falters. "… What's-your-name."

There's that calm-but-amused smile, and Everleigh crosses her arms over her chest. "If anyone ever tells you they've got everything figured out, call them on their bullshit. What you have done, however, is find what doesn't work for you. That's just as important as finding what does." She shifts in her chair, but does get to her feet. She doesn't move for the door.

"You've still barely discussed anything. Sounds like we'll have to go in baby steps. But let me give you something to think on. You said that, during those few months, that you felt like you had a future. Why? What is it that happened that created that feeling of hope within you? Distill it down to its core elements and think on those."

She still doesn't move for the door, but stands with her arms over her chest. "And it's Everleigh. Or Dr. Madison if you prefer to make a big deal about it."

"Ohh, Dr. Madison," Zachery immediately makes a big deal about it, of course, his accent cutting deeper into his words when he continues to say, "What a fantastic bit of guff to chew on for… a month? Two? God, six is a nice number isn't it! Though there is the temptation of an annual appointment, hmmm."

He fails to get up, his smile at Everleigh widening with malcontent. "It's been a pleasure, truly."

"The problem is, you haven't convinced me that you don't need serious therapy. Which, of course, means more frequent appointments. Appointments which I'm allowed to decide if you need or not," Dr. Madison points out, resting a hand on her hip. "You haven't caught on to the fact that I actually take this seriously and you're clearly in need with some spring cleaning with your thoughts."

She seems content to have the literal high ground, even if not quite the metaphorical. "Is it honestly so bad to try and sort things through? Honestly you seemed like you almost took it to heart for a moment. Shame you didn't build on that, I might have cut down the necessary appointments a bit."

Everleigh shrugs, as if it were actually a shame in her eyes. "I respect that you want to do things the hard way. Just remember that you had a chance." She pauses. "It honestly was a pleasure, for me at least, even though I'm certain you're being facetious. You're certainly an interesting bundle of…" She doesn't finish the sentence. "I'm sure you'll eventually figure that out."

"Oh, I know exactly what I am," Zachery replies. "Which, right now, is mostly sick of you." If nothing else, he looks more at ease, sinking back in his seat like he's just found the remote to a too-loud television, and can finally hear his own thoughts again.

No concerns, his smile ever so slightly more sincere in the process as he says, finally, "Good bye."

If she's taken aback by the words, it doesn't show as Everleigh moves towards the door. Reaching the doorframe, she tosses a glance over her shoulder. "I think maybe I'll suggest twice-weekly sessions…"

It almost sounds like a joke. Almost.

It's only after she leaves that Zachery's expression returns to a scowl, before he finally lets his shoulders relax and looks across his desk.

And only when he's absolutely sure he's alone, he whispers calmly with his chin lifting slightly higher, "Your Honour, I would like to argue the fact that only the first murder was born of malice. The next fifty-six were therapy-inspired."

That'll do the trick, surely.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License