It's Over 6 Inches


everleigh_icon.gif shane_icon.gif

Scene Title It's over 6 inches
Synopsis Shane and Everleigh discuss how tall Shane's gotten due to his muscular ability manifesting.
Date February 10, 2020

Shane's Place

Shane's Red Hook Apartment.

After the Elmhurst hospital ordeal, things started to settle down a little more. It was less panic, and more focusing on what was ahead. It's easier to get swept up into the plans, and sort of set the 'dealing with this' part onto the shelf.

Shane's ability had expressed itself. He was a Class-A Biological. Muscular-something-something. He was gaining mass, that's what was clear, and the hospital put him on a weird protein diet. Weird, but it helped the hunger a lot. It was nice to just sip on that and not feel famished.

Nice enough. Except that Shane kind of … began to internalize a lot, but that could also have just been in the face of being poked and weighed at the hospital. And then he was busy with his brother, who visited the hospital on the evening of the 8th. And then he was still with Hank, after the results were sorted out. And so Everleigh didn't see Shane for the end of the 8th, or any of the 9th, due to his plans with his immediate visiting family. Hank took him home, the morning of the 10th - though he was due to come back in, in two days, for another check-in. His mass was still growing.

Now, Hank Bishop has left for the evening, and Shane responds to Everleigh's hanging text message. "I'm at home, they've released me for now," he types to her in text, curled up on his couch with one of the shakes he was given. Mmmm, weird powdered drink. "Hank brought a lot of clothes, you don't need to shop for a while :)" he adds, smiling at the phone.

He watches a bit of the movie he put on, then adds in text, "If you're not busy I could use the company. I get into my own head, alone here, Scully." He sets that aside, though, to go heat some leftovers, padding into the kitchen in fuzzy warm gray socks. Hank's socks.

Everleigh had spent a lot of time distracting herself. While she finally had some time to herself, it proved to make her sink into her own thoughts far more than she'd like. Her own issues were secondary issues for the moment, so that left her with the need to keep busy. So she did. The project in question was a long jacket, something a little more suited for warmer weather. Pieces had all been assembled and were partially sewn, pattern pieces scattered all over her work table.

Her patients were on her mind, but she managed her schedule just fine. He wasn't the only one who needed a few days off. She hadn't expected the invitation, mostly figuring that he'd be busy with family for some time. Peering at her phone, she taps out a simple reply.

"Be right there."

And she is.

"If you're working on anything, bring it! I can't say that I'm all that interesting. I just sit and eat," Shane types back, smiling down at the phone. He then puts it aside, and adjusts out of leftovers and into making some grilled chicken with apple. Hank had cut the apples up for him already (embarrassing but necessary with him being one-handed), so all he's had to do is stand around and stir it.

He'll be there when Everleigh knocks. "Come in," he yells over, roving the spatula around and then looking over to the door.

Everleigh may immediately mistake him for Hank — in that Shane's about Hank's height, just over 6', and has put on a lot of overall bulk, like his brother. They'd actually really look like brothers, now, instead of suggesting that their mother MIGHT have had an affair! Hank has hair, though, so that's an immediate giveaway. He also doesn't have hand injuries, as Shane does.

"Are you hungry?"

Everleigh enters, a medium sized sewing bag carried in her off hand as she moves inside, shutting the door behind her. "I could eat, especially because that smells delicious," she states, moving to the kitchen with her bag in hand. "I would compliment you on your appearance but I'm not sure yet if you're comfortable with that, so I'll stick with complimenting your chicken." She looks around, finding a good spot to set her bag before she joins him in the kitchen.

"I hope some time with Hank did you well. I was kind of surprised you seemed to need the company but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Though I'm not sure if you want me to distract you or if you want me here to talk. Either way, I'm glad to be company." What she doesn't add is that she needed some too.

"Can't the talk be distracting?" Shane asks. "My cases were taken away from me, for the forseeable future." SIGH. Shane moves over to the counter a few steps, staying there. He's very awkward, it's showing in all of his movements. He'll need that physical therapy to sort his limbs out. He's a giraffe learning his body again, and it's very bull in a china shop.

"Hank and I had a lot of weird silences, honestly. He didn't know what to say about it, other than to be really positive. Which, I guess, oddly made me feel worse. Like he really thought what I was before was so… I don't know." Shane frowns. "But he helped a lot with just getting me set up for the next week." There's a LOT of food in the kitchen, very obviously. Packages are everywhere.

"Is that the project you mentioned?" Shane asks, nodding towards her bag.

"It's understandable that you're off the cases for now, Mulder," Everleigh points out. "This is kind of a life changing event, in case you somehow forgot. It's going to take a lot of your concentration and definitely some thought. The talk can be distracting but I meant in case you wanted to talk about all of this."

She automatically moves to check and see if there's anything to clean up in the kitchen as she talks. "Yeah, it's a jacket but it's just a thing, it's not anything special. I can't really stitch more of it without the machine, but I thought I might work some embroidery in. I thought some vines along the collar might be cute." She rubs the back of her neck. "I know it kind of sounds dumb, but it's a good distraction."

"More than I'm capable of doing," Shane comments. He doesn't know how to embroider. "How much is it so far, can you model it?" he wonders, accepting that distraction willingly.

There's something interesting in the kitchen. A lot of interesting things, hidden in the bulk of the groceries. That being some various bent silverware, /three/ broken glasses, two plates. It's in a haphazard stack in the left side of the sink, leaving the right clear for actual use. The handle on the refrigerator is bent. There's a lot of odd damage going on, and the source of it is very obviously hanging out nearby with a mixed expression of shame and rueful smile.

"I'm having a hard time with the … destructo part of this," Shane says lamely. But not evasively. It has to be talked about sometime. He moves to stir his apple and chicken some with his left hand.

"The comparison to puberty's not entirely wrong. Your body's changed and you need to figure out how to deal with that. It means it'll take some practice. If you decide you need me to pick up dishes or anything like that, I'll make a run," Everleigh's examining the kitchen as she talks, carefully moving to pick up broken pieces but not cut herself. She's going to clean up either way—he can't do it in his current state.

"I feel like a lot of it will just take some getting used to. What have you been thinking about it? Does it scare you? Are you happy? Tell me what you're thinking."

That's the doctor in her. She can't help it.

"I think paper plates, like for picnics, might be the best bet until I get a better handle on this," Shane answers. "So far I'm just… trying to take one thing at a time and not get overwhelmed. It's not working." He ruefully grins, rolling a shoulder as he uses his wrist to wipe his forehead briefly. It's an expression, for him, of uncertainty.

"Mostly I feel dangerous. Which isn't a great feeling. Like I should stay away from people." Yet he called her, so he resisted the urge to hide away and hermit while feeling problematic. "But I know that's the wrong direction. You don't need to psychoanalyze me on that one, I can see it myself," he chuckles. "I think it'll be easier when my hands heal." He looks down at them, and stirs the food. "This'll be ready when the rice is, I think."

"Well, the great thing is, now you have an extra pair of hands to safely do anything you can't. That means you don't have to worry too much about other people. You've got a safety net, alright?" She cleans up the broken ceramics and glass carefully, glancing towards the food out of the corner of her eye. Everleigh nods in reference to the food.

"I'm going to try not to psychoanalyze you much, but it's hard to entirely do… especially given that's what I do all day and I do far less socializing. I'm out of practice." She moves to lean against the counter while he works. "I'm going to try to be a helpful friend and guide you towards a healthy thought process about all of that, but fight to not just be a professional and instead be a friend."

"I didn't invite you to try to get free therapy," Shane says, watching her out of the side of his eye, smile growing. The little rice cooker makes a noise, and he nods at it. "I'll get the plates." Carefully. He doesn't say it, but the word is on his tongue nevertheless. Carefully for sure. He gets them down, setting them near where the rice is finished, and similarly carefully begins to put the chicken pieces onto the plates. Lots of coordination is necessary with his left hand, but he won't be beaten by this task.

Maybe he drips on the counter, but that's hardly a big deal. He did do it. "This feels like cooking in a children's make-believe kitchen that's made of tissue paper. That's what I feel like. Requires patience."

"I think you can be patient." Everleigh glances over at him. She doesn't move to help—mostly because she's letting him try to handle it. He needs to practice, she'll help if it's too much or he asks. She's not there to baby him, just to help. "You're going to get better, nothing good happens overnight. Everything worth doing takes time, I feel. Plus patience is a great skill to learn."

She chuckles. "And you can consider it a great accomplishment. You already seem in better spirits than at the hospital. It's good to see, even if it's still hard."

"Sleeping on it helped. Hank helped," Shane says. "He helped bring out a lot of the benefits to this. There's a lot of potential positives here. I don't know how strong I will be — but I could be a really different, positive asset to my team." Because Shane thinks in terms of being of value at work. That's how he ranks his personal value: the workaholics everywhere can understand that!

"As well as a big target, but overall, there's a lot of benefits. I'd want a superhumanly strong person on my teams. Certainly isn't something I would have considered a problem. Until those plates." Shane looks at the trash and the broken things. He's stopped using glass: the glass is, in fact, put away. He can smarten up. Double threat, now: smarts AND brawn. Perhaps he didn't do so badly in the lottery of abilities after all.

She's a workaholic. The value added to an occupation was always positive, it's something she understands clearly. However, he was also a friend. A friend who was coming to terms with a big change and whatever that means. "Sure, there are positives for your team. That's not all there is to it, though."

Everleigh pauses for a moment. "I'm going to be psychoanalytical here for a moment, so I apologize, but this is coming from a concerned friend. You've always been really concerned about your height and your weight and the like, at least in high school, and this is a big change from that. There's some self-confidence and self-esteem that has been rooted in those insecurities. So things are different now, how are you feeling about that?"

Shane pauses in plating the food, and sets the spatula down. Better to do that than squeeze it. He's learning. He rests a little against the counter, curling his good arm around his stomach some, the palm coming in against his opposite side of his waist across the front. It's a self-comforting motion, while he takes in her question.

"I don't know. I sort of feel like my ass is hanging out in the wind, here. I don't know how to react. I feel like I'm supposed to be happy to be bigger and stronger. I am, in a way. But I didn't think of all these problems. But I know it's on me to … stay positive. And make it be positive. I feel a little bit like a towering Frankenstien monster. Maybe I just have to get used to it."

He draws the hands up to touch his right bicep, though. His hands are big, but that's a lot of beef. It's all weird to him. "This is sort of incredible, though. And annoying. I worked for /years/ for a tenth of this."

"I think you will, over time. That kind of goes for any bodily change, you just got forced to deal with it all at once. You aren't a monster, though. Not by a long shot. You're much too much of a hero than that. You went down to help someone, to save a life if you could. Even with a changed physical appearance, even if you're taller and more muscular, you're still that same guy."

Everleigh smiles at him. "It's unfair the advantage some people get over others, but that's just how life is sometimes. We learn to live with it and do what we can with the advantages we do have, or learn to overcome what weaknesses we're born with." She shrugs. "You're always going to be Mulder, and I'm going to tell you to your face what you're doing wrong if you ever try to not be yourself."

"I thought about that. Going down there." Shane looks at his hands, the bandages. He has most of the bandages off his left hand now, so the injuries are visible there.

"And maybe this is less about… saving myself from under that door. And more about pulling the door off to help the other person," Shane says, tone quiet, contemplative. "The door came off somehow." It isn't like it exploded off.

"Anyway. Maybe it's that. I like that idea." Shane blushes, though, and serves her rice, then offers her the place with his left hand, brown eyes down, but thoughtful, a gentle warmth in them that's fairly rare. A lot of self introspection has fallen out of this.

He could have reacted by becoming a self-centered blob of arrogance, but that isn't Shane. Much like someone that was bullied in youth generally ends up being a nicer person - knowing the other side is important. Being the little guy that got picked on makes him finally equipped to defend others that can't, or are afraid.

To tank for the squishies.

"You also did it so I wouldn't be scarred for life watching you die," Everleigh's teasing, but it was a very real possibility for a while there and one she certainly has thought about multiple times since the accident. "But you've got a chance to help a lot of people because of it. You're going to do a lot of good things with what you've got. It's a good thought to hold on to. People do well with something to look forward to or hope for. Motivation is key."

She takes the plate carefully from him, a pleased smile in that he's serving everything up just fine—no mishaps there. "You did a good job. Better job cooking than me, most of the time."

"It's the one-handedness that is slowing me down, but—- that's still just half of it," Shane clarifies. He pauses, and nods towards the main living area. "Notice anything odd?" he asks. It's obvious: the coffee table is gone.

"The second casualty after a cup yesterday. Not just upper body. So, we learn day by day. I'm hopeful, yes, but realistically, I'm going to cost a fortune until I get this relaxed and figured out." Shane gets a fork for himself, and her one, and then takes his plate out to sit with it and eat. He has a cup of his protein 'stuff' there as well, and drinks it while he eats.

"You broke the table?" Everleigh's certainly aware of the fact it's not there and in this case she's certainly going to ask. "You just… I mean, did you put an arm down on it or trip or…?" She accepts the fork and moves to sit down and eat as well. "Maybe it'll be expensive, but… maybe you'll get some kind of promotion when you're doing such good work?"

She seems to be thinking about something, though whatever it is she doesn't voice it. Instead, she goes about eating.

"I tripped /on/ it. Which meant I kicked it. It didn't survive that." Shane watches her, with a relaxed look that becomes more pointed. He tilts his head but he doesn't verbally prompt her. He lets her bring it forward in her own time, though his look is rather prompting.

"Remind me not to be in the way of your feet," Everleigh offers a wry smile. It's lighthearted, again a moment of humor in the midst of things. It's a tactic she's been relying on a lot with him. It's something she knows works, and it means it's a great distraction from anything too serious. She takes a bite of her food, looking down at it before glancing sideways at him.

"You said you didn't like being alone right now. Why?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's less being alone, more just…" Shane considers it. "I feel more like that I'm still me." He turns his plastic cup slowly in his fingers of his left hand, looks over at her, and takes a big drink from it, before resuming eating.

He also frowns, and takes a moment to partially unbind his right hand some, enough to use the fingers to help with a knife. The exposed fingers look like a horrifying sunburn, but he's healing. He's able to use the utensils anyway, but it does draw some focus. Dexterity, injuries in the way, caution.

"I get that." Everleigh understands, at least in this aspect. "Centering yourself in something familiar is a good idea and I'm glad that I can be a part of that. You are still you, even if this is weird." She glances over towards the food. While she hadn't offered to help when he was serving food, now she finds herself concerned enough to offer. "… you good?"

She seems ready to help, though she still takes a bite. If he doesn't want it, she's not going to push at all, but she also doesn't want to make it embarrassing for him either because she offered or because he wanted to do it himself. "You know, I feel more like me when I'm around too. Reminds me a lot of being a kid. Sometimes you forget yourself as life changes you."

"I've got it. If you can help with washing the dishes, that'll be where I need you," Shane parries. It's not really a joke, it is what would help. It's hard to do one-handed. Lots of things are.

"No going back, though," Shane observes. He's eating quickly - rather, he ate quickly, because he's mostly done with the food itself, but still sits back to continue to drink his protein-paste shake. There's no displeasure in having it: seems he likes it okay.

"I want to be the good pieces of myself," Shane adjusts. "Use this to try to become better. Be better." He looks at her. "How did you deal with adding this strange new thing to who you are?"

"Dishes I can do. It's only fair, you made dinner anyway," Everleigh's giving him the excuse of not needing help, but it being an equivalent exchange. "No going back, though. To any of it. You just move on. But using your good pieces and keeping them, that's key." His question, though, seems to unsettle her a little.

"Don't follow my example in that area, Mulder. In fact, don't follow my example for much of anything at all. For all the great information I have to help, I never follow my own advice and do what I should. So if anything, I'm a cautionary tale." She smiles wryly. "But, to answer your question… I sort of didn't. I didn't use it, I didn't tell anyone. I registered because I needed to in order to make things clear for my residency. I know you can't follow my example because it's a little harder to hide, but… just don't use me as a shining example of anything."

Shane considers her thoughtfully. And extends his left hand across to try to gently touch her hand. Envelope her wrist, really. Hopefully he stops getting larger, he's something of a bear physically as is. Intimidating potentially, except she knows him: knows Shane well.

"Well. You don't have to, but. If you want to use it, explore it more… I have time right now. I can use the relaxation right now. But only if you'd like." Shane leaves his hand there, soft.

She doesn't move her hand away, but she does take a long moment to look at his. It's not that he's unusual for human standards, it's just that it's unusual for Shane standards. While she hadn't spent as much time with him as an adult and much more when they were kids, seeing him different is still a little jarring. She's not alarmed, though, and she makes very certain she doesn't look like she is—the last thing Everleigh wants to do is make him feel uncomfortable with himself right now.

"I mean, I could use it, certainly… probably ensure the best sleep of your life. I just don't know that there's more to explore. It's pretty straightforward. But I appreciate the offer."

"All right, all right," Shane says, smiling. He felt like he was pushing an unwilling witness for a minute. If she doesn't want to know more, then she doesn't, and it sounds like a sensitive door that's painful for her. Though that brings some reflection back: the weird discomfort of his own, feeling that he shouldn't talk about his either. But his issue is making his seat creak when he shifts his weight.

Shane draws his hands together in front of him, looking at his fingers, the bandages on the right, unwrapping the right hand a little bit, inspecting it and the injuries there some, as he goes quiet. It gives just a silent, thoughtfully pensive look to the big man, while he picks at the bandages on his hand. "They're tight," Shane says, feeling like he should say /something/.

"It's a stupid ability," Everleigh says after a moment. She pauses, as if there were more to say there, but the words never come. Instead she just looks over to Shane's hands, visually scanning them. "Too tight? I can try and fix them a little if they're uncomfortable." Her hands are held, if ready to help, though she doesn't look towards his face. Her attention remains solely on his hands.

He'd definitely stumbled upon something.

"My bandages are in the bathroom, just below the sink in the cabinet on the right," Shane answers, accepting her help. He moves some of the plates and things aside, with his left hand, clearing an area where they can re-bandage his hand more properly at the table. "The lighting's bad in there, better to do it here," he adds, before actually rising to clear more of the other items off the table, using just left hand, and treating the objects with care.

Everleigh seems more than eager to escape the room for a moment. She retreats to the bathroom, finds the cabinet, and opens it up. She spends a bit of extra time looking, more than is really needed to find the bandages, before she retrieves them and returns to the room with them in hand. "You think it hurts a little because you grew again?" It's hard to tell at this point. He's bigger, but pinpointing small changes is hard.

Everleigh comes back on the tail end of Shane having sat down and manipulated the bandages. In that he specifically curled and flexed his hand, and the bandages gave way easily under the abuse. He's flushed red, though, aware of her returning into the room, and busies himself with using his left hand to untangle the mangled bandage off of his right wrist, fumblingly curling the strands around index and middle fingers to unwind it off the other hand. He balls it up in left palm, and pretends to focus on the burns.

It's still pretty awful to look at, the right hand, but he's actively healing. It doesn't seem infected, but it is unpleasant. "This is sort of… amazing, in a way, but also scary," Shane observes. He scoots his chair back a little, drawing his hands under the table. There's an expression of displeasure, using his injured hand, but he lifts the table like it's made of awkward styrofoam, staying seated. And then puts it down, making it rattle accidentally.

She's seen people getting used to new abilities. She's also seen people recovering from trauma. It's not unfamiliar to her, the unfamiliarity of the situation is that she's coming at it from a personal perspective and not a professional one. It's enough for Everleigh, though, that she can focus less on herself and more on helping him. She notes the move with the table, blinking for a moment before looking at him again.

This is certainly not the awkward nerdy boy she'd hung out with when she was an awkward nerdy girl. He'd moved past that into something else. "A lot of people think of their abilities like that," she says, bandages in hand as she reaches over towards him. "You'll get used to it. In your case, it's just a time thing. No way to rush that sort of adjustment."

"I mean. Obviously there are positives here," Shane says, tone embarrassed, but a little forced. A guilt. Is it okay to appreciate the positive aspects? It's like he's betraying himself and who he was, and saying it didn't matter if he were tall or strong. He didn't expect this situation.

"I feel a little like I was… I don't know, kidnapped by aliens and injected with mega-steroids," Shane jokes. He sits fully and extends his forearm towards her, injured right hand palm up. "Let's not mummify it, though, just protect it. I'd rather suffer a little pain and get to get some scope of how strong I am. You'd suggested a gym. The SESA training areas would work too, although I… don't feel like I want to deal with them reacting to me right now. Maybe this will all settle back."

And he won't have to deal with people staring at him. Well, not /familiar/ people.

"Lots of bandages but not too tight, I've got this," Everleigh says, gently beginning the process of re-wrapping his hand. "Are the SESA areas accessible to you after hours? You could go late when there's not likely to be anyone present." She focuses on the bandages as she talks. "This is all going to take some getting used to. This is your new normal and you get to learn how to deal with it and how it feels. You should definitely take the time to really think about what it means to you and how that's going to shape your identity now."

She looks back up at him, which is a weird thing in and of itself. "This is a big change, but you're still you."

"Not lots: just protect it so I don't get food in it," Shane says, with a flick of smile, but lets her have the hand and wrist to work on it. The nurse may not have known who the Incredible Hulk was, but Shane keeps feeling like that more and more as time progresses. Some weird bloated up version of himself.

"I've done a lot of floater cases," Shane mentions quietly, but thoughtfully. "There's a horror to how bodies dumped into the water react to the elements. The water itself. It takes a special lab to even hope to lift the fingerprints," he explains. This is part of how Shane copes, though, walking around a difficult issue and looking at it with his analytics. "I wonder if those are different - but I doubt it. If you ignore the burns, that is. The burns may have permanently changed some things there," Shane says, looking at the tight, red new skin on his left handed fingertips. "I feel unrecognizable. Like one of those floaters."

Everleigh doesn't deal with bodies. She deals with the living, the people who could have ended up like the corpses he describes. There's a bit of a frown and she looks at the wound and her process bandaging it while he's talking. It isn't until he mentions being unrecognizable that she looks up at him.

"You're making a lot of assumptions about recognizing a person. You've changed, sure. Your physical appearance has, your strength is different, but if I were to ask you right now about comics or movies or anything you knew about before it'd be as if nothing changed at all. We've all got pieces of us that change over time, yours is just physical and it happened fast. You think I'm going to ignore you because you can probably lift me above your head now? Why would I do that?"

She looks back down at his hand. "But you're not all physically different. I certainly can still look at you and see your face. You aren't just a corpse someone's forgotten about and this is not the end of the world."

"I'll be able to do undercover … one more time. Maybe just one." Shane's joking, and not joking, but his smile is broad and real. "Then they'll be keen to all this." Shane glances down, smirks, and moves his eyes to observe her working on his hand. He tests the snugness carefully, moving his thumb across, but otherwise doesn't mess with what she's trying to help him with. "You can go slightly more snug than that. Just need some give laterally there," he instructs. "Next time I'll make sure I don't use my dominant hand so much in a fire."

"As for being 'just a corpse', I'd never say that. I work to identify those people, get them and their family closure. Their names. Their history. And justice for what happened," Shane says, smile falling into his more serious face. It gets an intimidating streak added to it due to the flex of his jaw bringing in a lot more neck musculature.

"It's still easier to want the answer to 'how strong am I now' than 'how does this change my identity'. Baby steps, Scully."

Everleigh adjusts her work when he makes the suggestion, and she focuses on it for just a moment more before she looks up at him. "Both are important questions, but if you only focus on one and not the other you're gonna have a bit of trouble down the road. If you want baby steps, Mulder, you've got to take steps. Don't ignore the rest of the problem." She holds the bandage in place as she reaches over to grab the scissors to cut the bandage roll off.

"In any case, there will be plenty of time to lift some weights and test your limits. You shouldn't do too much while this is healing, though."

"Blah. Sucking all the fun out of this, Scully," Shane says, as she finishes and he draws his hand back, examining and squeezing his right wrist with his left hand, eyes down. For a moment he looks more like a boxer or a wrestler that got injured punching somebody, due to his physique and the posturing of how he's looking at it. He doesn't know.

Shane flashes her a smile and then moves to start to stand. "So your project. Nothing I can do to help but supervise?" Shane asks, trying to pull the subject away. The idea of Shane helping with much of anything with his hands like that is possibly a little laughable. Threading a needle might not be in his current bag of tricks.

"I didn't know that ignoring your problems was fun. Boy, I had no idea I was having so much fun." Everleigh rolls her eyes, but checks to make sure the bandage is holding well before she relaxes again. His mention of the project reminds her that she did indeed bring her sewing over. "Ah, well, there's not really much to help with. Lots of little intricate detail work that no one's going to ever notice anyway." She glances over at him. "You don't have to watch though. Isn't there something more interesting that you're interested in doing?"

"Other than all the work I no longer have on cases that have been taken away, or a trip we're not taking to the gym to see how much weight I'm actually able to push?" Shane asks, a playful but rueful tone in his voce. "I don't know."

Shane has now stood up, to do a little bit of towering over her at the table. He notices, and walks off towards the main living room, to return to his 'nest' of where he'd been camping due to his injuries. He sinks back down into it, adjusting position and putting his legs out on a footstool. He's restless and unhappy, but keeping it internal. Where it can fester.

Everleigh follows him, rolling her eyes. "Do you want to go to the gym? Am I going to have to watch you hurt yourself? Cause, you know, it sounds like a really dumb idea to me. Hurting yourself all over again so you can't get back on those cases you're very much dying to get back to." She beelines for the couch, settling in on the other side of the couch.

"Have you ever seen what's involved in embroidery? It's a hell of a lot of squinting, holding fabric to your face, and poking yourself with a needle when you're not paying enough attention. You do a ton of it and then you've got one tiny flower out of a hundred. It's not riveting. My hobby's boring, Mulder."

"You said it, not me," Shane says with a relaxed arrogance in the tone. "Do you have /any/ tiny flowers so far to show for it, or are we not there yet?" Shane asks, trying to keep the conversation on her for a little while. He's oozing his way into the couch a little more, sliding down, long legs stretching out, toes curling and uncurling.

"Otherwise, I was thinking maybe some old X-Files episodes. Memory lane. If you're up for it, and it won't distract you from stabbing yourself with a needle."

"I never claimed it wasn't boring. The payoff's pretty great when you tell someone the work you did." Everleigh is pretty impressed with some of her work—not that she really tells anyone about it, nor does she keep it most of the time. "Plus it keeps me busy and that's the important part." She peers down the couch at him. "I wouldn't mind a couple. I usually watch something while working anyways. Well, half-watch."

She goes to fetch her bag and settle once more on the couch. "I've got… two flowers? I just started, so it's not terribly impressive."

"Two is more than zero," Shane agrees. "Park it here, let me see," Shane offers, tone relaxing, friendly. He may look different, but he isn't, not really at all. He's always been kind to listen to whatever her interests are, and willing to share his own nerdy interests. He sets about getting the show on while she finds it, but pauses to give her full attention.

She looks at him for a long moment before she scoots closer with the sewing bag and pulls out the project. A light tan fabric, it's finished enough to tell it's a jacket, though it's not properly hemmed and finished. Along the collar is stitching—a green leafy vine that curves back and forth with two small white flowers on it. Everleigh sets it out where he can see it, careful of the needle and thread still attached, simply tucked out of the way in another bit of fabric.

"It's terribly impressive, isn't it?"

She seems amused. It's not bad though. It's clear enough she knows what she's doing and the embroidery looks like it should… it's the self-deprecating humor. She doesn't expect him to think anything of it.

"Well, I can't do it," Shane answers evenly, with a sideways smile, looking at the little design. He doesn't know if it's entirely ass-backwards, but he judges that it looks good. A thumbs up is sort of given (because bandages). "I expect four more flowers at least, before the end of the night," Shane teases her, relaxed into the couch, and starting the movie. She has no time to waste!

(( A few hours later….))

Shane had watched most of an episode before he fell asleep. The mix of pain medication and his weariness physically from everything going on with him spelled a recipe for a deep slumber. He doesn't snore, but his breathing is not quiet; it is deep, even breathing from broad chest.

His breathing shifts, and he turns his head, drowsy, looking over to where Everleigh is working away on her project nearby. He quietly draws his legs in a little, intending to move over along the couch and look over her shoulder subtly at what she's doing.

He is the opposite of subtle. The whole couch creaks in complaint as he moves, and he has very little coordination, so it's very awkward. Flushed, he still asks, "Almost done?"

His not-so-subtle attempt at moving is noted, but Everleigh doesn't mention it. She treats it as if he had managed to do his intended attempt, or at least that what he did was entirely normal. She looks up a tiny bit, blinking her eyes a bit to adjust them. She'd been staring down at the embroidery for so long it'd become a bit hard to readjust to looking around. She peers back over at him with a small smile.

"Obviously not with the whole thing, but I've got three-and-a-half done," she points out. "I messed up a bit on the third so I had to backtrack a bit and that's never an easy thing." She holds the fabric up so he can take a look. "How was your nap? You seemed like you were really out. I didn't want to disturb you at all so I just kept working."

"Hmmmmmm. Looks flowery to me," Shane observes as she holds it up near his face, and he looks it over. There's edges of sleepiness there in his somewhat long blink before his eyes fully focus. It's a trace of trust with her, that he didn't snap to attention more quickly. He turns his body cautiously to lay more on the couch, trying to find a better position. He feels big and awkward. "I feel like I'm trying to fit on a child's couch," Shane says, with an embarrassed sound, but reclines there anyways, forearm dangling off near her, as he looks on as she works on her project like a big sleepy pet.

"How long was I out?" Shane asks, rubbing his cheek with the heel of bandaged hand, suppressing a yawn unsuccessfully.

"Well, flowery is the point, so I must be doing well," Everleigh notes, studying him as he repositions on the couch. "I imagine it's weird… like when your leg falls asleep and you try and stand on it and you can't understand why your leg doesn't work like it should and you're incapable of doing anything about it." She peers over at him. "At least I assume. It's not really an experience I've had. It's harder for me to try and relate."

She looks down at the flowers. "I usually try to find some way to draw on my own experiences to help a situation but I've never physically had some kind of situation like you have. All I can do is just reassure you that you'll get used to it. So I will. You'll get used to it." She moves the needle through the fabric, making a face as she pokes herself with it. She pretends it didn't happen.

"It's all right," Shane says, changing the subject away from himself. "You were in my dream," he adds, sharing thoughtfully. He moves more on the couch, positioned now more behind her, as she sits on the floor in front of the couch. The warmth of his forearm now is against the back of her shoulders, as he settles, looking over her shoulder, from relatively close.

It's a position from maybe teenage years, Shane hanging out, comfy: he likes to sort of lounge like that, possibly a /bit/ close, but not uncomfortably. "We were trying to find these clues the aliens left to us… but we were in a mall. From back before the war. You really were sure you needed some Hot Dog on a Stick. Possibly because I'm just hungry all the time, my dreams feature food," Shane chuckles, nudging her shoulder with his wrist.

It's easy for him to get a good look at her progress from his new position—she's already holding it up closer to her face so she can see exactly where she's working. It's delicate work because each stitch has to be close to the next one… she has to keep herself paying enough attention to figure out where she's supposed to go next. Everleigh's doing it all by memory and estimation, but the flowers do seem almost uniform. Plenty of practice.

She turns her head just slightly to get a slight bit better of a view of him, though it's not entirely helpful given he's behind her. It's not an uncomfortable position to have him there, it just feels oddly like when they were young. "Sounds like a pretty decent dream," she points out. "I think the X-Files episode inspired you to think we were really Mulder and Scully. I wouldn't mind investigating aliens though, it might be a bit of a change of pace." She chuckles. "I don't think you'll ever not have food on the mind now. It just seems like it'll be something that sticks with you. But it's nice to know I'm in there too."

"There were also cheeseburgers and pizza in the dream. A yogurt shop. Come to think of it, most of the dream was oriented to the food court," Shane admits thoughtfully, with a lazy, sleepy yawn. He shifts forwards a little more, to look over her shoulder more easily, and extends one arm out to point with left hand at her project.

"You should put … a pizza embroidery. Right there," Shane teases her, indicating where on her item. Next to the flowers, obviously. He nudges her shoulder with his nose by leaning down, smile reflexively turning into an easygoing smile.

"Mm, frozen yogurt sounds good right now," Everleigh mutters, not even entirely to him. She peeks his direction as he points at the spot. "Now why, exactly, should I embroider pizza onto my jacket? Are you just hoping to see food wherever you look now?" She does seem amused. She moves her head to bump against his, just an affirming gesture. "You know, I think if there were still places well-stocked enough to do some kind of all-you-can-eat it would be hilarious to see how much you could manage."

She glances sideways towards him. She doesn't really have to turn to see him at this point. "One day you'll get that chance, I'm sure. There's always improvements being made to supply food. Still, it almost seems mean to do that to a restaurant…" At this point, she's almost rambling as she thinks about it.

"Yes, pizza on your jacket. If anyone asks, you can blame me. Here, let's get it started," Shane innocently says, moving his fingers to try to pluck the needle and thread from her hand. He's just too clumsy for it - between his uncertain motor skills right now with tiny objects and the bandages, there's just no way. "Okay you hold it, but I'm helping," Shane teases, folding hand over hers and guiding to the 'pizza spot'.

He does pause, though, and opens his hand out, falling quiet, as he surveys the difference in his hand size to hers. Used to basically be the same. This is sort of hitting home on how much of a gorilla he's become. He lowers his head a little bit, she'll sense it even if she isn't looking at him, that his breathing is more against her nape than it was.

Everleigh's expression is amusement, but it shifts as soon as she notices the struggle. It becomes something of a mix of concern and something she's not entirely sure she'd be able to explain. Her hands move and she takes hold of the hand near her's, carefully guiding it as how to hold the needle. "No, it's your pizza."

It's not as if she expects him to be able to do it, but she's going to help him try. Her other hand holds the fabric close so he can attempt to make a stitch as soon as he manages to hold the needle well enough with her assistance. However long that takes. "Just don't poke me or I'll never let you hear the end of it, Mulder."

Shane resurfaces from behind her a little more, and shifts up to see what he's doing, his chin contacting her shoulder now. "Okay. Hang on, I dropped it," Shane chuckles, going for another try. He has had good dexterity, but this is weird; the object feels tiny. But he quiets, and puts some real focus into it, smile dropping away from his intensity. He gets hold of it, and very, very carefully, attempts to drive the needle into the fabric. But not /all/ the way: she can easily remove it. Since he sort of just picked a random spot vaguely near the flowers.

"You're going to need to save me from myself here," Shane says, nudging her fingers with his thumb, and releasing a little bit, to allow her to take it away from him. He doesn't /actually/ want to ruin her project. Mostly he wanted to see if he could do it.

The needle's bent, but he hasn't noticed it yet. Intensity might not be his friend.

Everleigh takes the needle from him once he's mostly gotten a stitch in, and she pulls it the rest of the way through. She knows it's bent, but he doesn't. So she keeps it that way. "That's going to be a great pizza," she insists. "But I should probably take a break before my eyes burn from staring at this thing for so long."

The needle is tucked into the fabric out of sight and she sets the jacket out of the way without another word. "So what other food do you remember from your dream? Or are the details too fuzzy to remember?" There's more of a turn of her head this time to look at him, her attention clearly in his direction. She's invested in the imaginary food now.

Shane draws his head back a few inches when she turns to orient on him. It's automatic, not on purpose. He didn't really want her looking at him: it was the tail end of some self consciousness, the same emotion he'd worn when he examined their hands. He leaves his arm loose near her, partially off the couch, mostly since he doesn't have somewhere to put it or a project to meddle with within reach. He has some big reach though.

"It was mostly focused on those corn dogs," Shane answers. "But there were a lot of weird toppings for the frozen yogurt that nobody would want. Doritos. Olives. I don't know why."

"You know, I've read all kinds of studies about what people think dreams are and they're never really conclusive. It's obvious that there are elements that seep in, sometimes something happens during your day that goes into it, but people argue if dreams actually have meaning or purpose…" Everleigh offers him a smile. "I think yours just mean you've watched a bit of X-Files, hung out with me, and are hungry. A pretty simple explanation, I'd say. Can't be sure about the olives though."

After a moment or two, she shuts her eyes and tips her head forward a bit, letting it hang for a moment. "I should've taken some kind of break in the middle of all of that. My neck cramped up." She lets out a deep breath.

"I'm —- afraid to touch you," Shane says, direct, honest. He's outright afraid to be trusted with his unknown strength level that bends silverware. He does look at her neck, though, lifting his head back, and starting to withdraw his arm. It's not safe, in his view, and he's not going to hurt her. No.

But her statement of her neck cramp did, it seem, automatically make him think of how he could help or aid her. And then led to the path of how he actually cannot.

"I would never ask or expect you to do anything you weren't comfortable with," Everleigh says, simply. Her own hand moves back to rub at the spot. It wasn't just an attempt to see how comfortable he was, it was honestly a mistake on her part for working so intently with no break. It really did hurt. She keeps her head down as she rubs it a bit. She can't look at him from this position so it's harder to assess his mood. She has an idea what it might be, though.

"It's not always going to be like that, you know. You can't expect everything to be alright immediately. You take baby steps. You learn what you're comfortable with… even if that's nothing right now. That's okay."

Shane has always been the problem-solver, the troubleshooter, the investigator. He'll find a /way/ to do something. But this is such an odd, unexpected blockage that he's feeling like the ground sort of dropped out on him. Not only are his hands burned, but what if he harmed her? It could be very serious. His destruction level on a lot of other things around him has made his confidence about it drop to nearly nothing.

Shane's just quiet, but that doesn't make him unreadable. He's withdrawn a little, lacking in being able to present her with an answer at first. Then he's got one. "I have a heating pad for pulled muscle in the hall closet there." That's all he's got. But it isn't nothing. He moves his hand he'd been drawing back to just set it curled gently on her shoulder. Zero pressure. Just there. Proving to both of them he's not a big threat. Just having to take a lot of care.

"I'll get it in a bit," Everleigh says. She doesn't move from her spot, not right now. She's acknowledged his efforts, she's just finding there's something more important to her right now than a sore neck. The hand that had been rubbing her neck moves, simply shifting over to rest atop the hand on her shoulder. Her hand gives a quick but gentle squeeze, a sign that she understands that he's trying. It's worth staying put for.

"I do that a lot," she says, trying to make some conversation, perhaps to keep it from being awkward for him. For both of them. "I spend too much time working on something and then afterwards I'm sore and I hate it… but then I go and do it all over again, like somehow I'd forgotten how miserable it makes me." Her hand remains atop his. It doesn't move.

Shane's fingers curl a tiny bit under her hand, balling up towards a fist. It's a subtle uncertainty, though he leaves his wrist resting against her shoulder even so. "I do it too, when I have a case and I spread my notes and photos all around me. Usually I do it in here, I move the table out of the way." A pause. "The table I broke." Guess he won't need to move it next time, at least until he gets a new one.

Finally he moves his thumb, a brief stroke against the edge of her thumb. A small connection.

It's a connection that's returned with the brush of her own thumb. Her hand stays put otherwise, easily within reach. "It's easy to get caught up in something like that. You get in a certain mindset, you feel like you're making progress, you forget the time… it's something I think a lot of people might be able to relate to. I apparently love it so much that I've become a workaholic in both my profession and my hobbies." She chuckles lightly, though there's seriousness to her tone as well.

"Just remember, you can't be afraid forever. At some point, you'll have to take a leap. I trust you will, just don't stay afraid forever. I've seen some people miss out on a lot of things because they're afraid of something that can be overcome. That's also from personal experience." It's not quite a good transition in talking points, but it's what she feels is needed.

Shane draws his hand out from under hers, pulling it away, though his fingers move sideways from her shoulder to the side of her neck, ticklish under her hair on that side. He very gently sets his fingers there, palm near the back of the collar of her shirt. Fingers brush up the back of nape, a careful massaging stroke up against the back of her head. It's an attempt to help, but is that all it is?

Then Shane eases his hand back, towards himself, folding the fingers in. There's silence from Shane, and he doesn't offer a verbal explanation.

There's a mild look of surprise on her face at the gesture. Everleigh's words had been to encourage him, to allow him to eventually feel comfortable with whatever he was afraid of. She hadn't expected him to feel comfortable enough to try what he did. The brush is just enough to cause a small shiver, followed by a slow breath out. She's not entirely sure what to say, so for a good long moment she's silent.

Eventually, she lifts her head a bit so she can turn it a bit more to look at him. "Thank you," she murmurs. "That was…" She doesn't know how to finish her sentence. So she doesn't.

"Risky," Shane finishes for her. He's not looking at her, he's looking at his left hand, using two of the fingers to adjust some of the bandage that curves over his palm on that same hand. He means risky due to the potential strength issue. Though other things are lightly at risk here.

Shane draws the arm in towards himself, though he's using the other arm to prop up his head, leaned back more onto the couch, though mostly on his arm, resting his cheek on his bicep, arm now mostly out of the way, fingers loose near the top of his shaved head. "I haven't harmed anything when I'm really careful." Guilty tone, even so.

When he retreats back, it prevents Everleigh from getting a good look at him. So instead, she turns her whole body so her side rests against the couch and she can look in his direction. "Risky," she agrees. "But you took your fear and you pushed past it. You came out the other side with something positive. Nothing bad happened. That's the first step to overcoming fear."

With it easier to see him, she takes the opportunity to assess things. There was certainly a lot going on with what he did and she didn't know exactly what was going on with it. There were thoughts. "Taking a careful approach isn't always a bad thing," she says. "If that's the way that you're most comfortable. It keeps you moving forward, and it takes you at a pace you feel won't overwhelm you." She offers a smile. "The important thing to remember is not to let that fear hold you back entirely. Life's too short not to live it."

"Realistically, if i'm bending silverware, I can harm you without intending to. That's the last thing I want. I don't think I'm going to explode and set us on fire anymore, so at least there's that, but I'm still not sure what my physical ceiling is. So, you can touch and help me for now, but we definitely don't need me with all my burns, and you with a broken hand because I lost my balance and grabbed for a lifeline," Shane chuckles.

He's chuckling, but it's his humor cover, the sassy snark that comes into play when he's uncomfortable. Still, he rolls to relax back on the couch, letting his arm drape loosely against his lower abdomen, stretching his legs out then bending them to rest comfortably. His pants are a little short - again. He's clearly on a path out of 'big' into 'huge'. Which does call his concerns in as realistic.

"Were you hungry?"

"I'm not saying you have to rush with your fears about your ability," Everleigh says simply. "And while you're afraid, I'm not afraid." She looks him over carefully. "I'm not afraid of you hurting me. Not because you're incapable, as I know your abilities are getting more and more intense and stronger… but it's not something I fear because even if I get hurt I know it's not because you intended to hurt me. If I felt like you did intend to? That's what I would fear. So I don't."

She lets out a slow breath. "Just don't push me out and treat me like I'm some fragile wilting flower or something. I'm certainly not that kind of woman." She offers him a smile, even if he's not looking. "Besides, I'm sort of getting used to having someone around to trust and have close. It would be a shame if you ruined all my emotional progress."

There's a long pause. "I could eat."

"Push you out? The hall closet is hardly far enough to be considered any kind of push," Shane retorts. He did miss her smile, but he turns his head now to smirk at her a little. "I know you're not a flower. You just slowly embroider them." Shane moves his hand to nudge her shoulder with just one finger. It's a solid poke but not enough to bruise. His awkward physical movements are a little questionable, and he knows it.

"You could eat? Music to my ears, eating. Pretend I'm hugging you," Shane says, but starts to prop himself up carefully, still minding his injuries.

Everleigh looks amused. "I appreciate you taking the opportunity to be playful amidst my own fears." She doesn't quite state what she's afraid of, but maybe that's part of the point. She's poked she moves to get to her feet. It's not until his mention of the hug that she turns to face him again. "You can't hug me, but I can certainly hug you. Minding the ribs, of course. A very squeezeless hug. Probably still meaningful even if slightly awkward. It's not like we can't touch."

The smile she offers him is warm. "If you can touch my neck, I can imagine a squeezeless hug is just as easy."

"Give me a minute; I'm broken," Shane laments, lifting his hands to show her both injured palms, and then moves his weight to turn and drop his legs towards the floor. He scooches forwards at first, then drops his left hand for leverage and stands. The self-consciousness returns with the height. It's like she got tiny and cute. And he isn't sure what to make of that feeling about her. It's seeing her differently: and it's less exactly about the physical, just something to kind of push his brain in a way it hadn't before.

Or maybe it's something else. "I better plateau soon," Shane comments, mostly to himself. He's tired of being disoriented, he wants to settle and move on with his life. The flux is a big stressor. He self-consciously brushes his hands down his clothes, fixing the shirt that was riding up, but gets distracted by his own musculature. Oh hello. He inspects himself a little, then remembers her, turns red, and drops his hands.

"I can wait," Everleigh states, genuinely not looking impatient. She's got time and she's very well aware that anything physical may take him a little bit. It's similar to someone wheelchair bound learning to walk again after an accident. It takes just a little longer and needs a bit more understanding to deal with. So she waits. It's still a little weird when he's standing at full height in front of her, especially given every time she looks he seems to have gotten taller. It would take some getting used to for her as well.

"I'm sure it'll be fine soon. The doctor seemed optimistic about it all. You'll be okay." It's assurance she's offering while she waits for the hug. Then she's aware that he's distracted. By himself. When he looks back at her, she's got an amused smile on her face, a playful one rather than one to pick fun at him.

"Can I hug you, or do you need another minute?"

"I uh," How embarrassing. "Just an out of body experience here," Shane stumbles verbally, flames coming up strong in his cheeks, neck, ears. "I mean. I've been given what must look like this … insane, Hercules body," Shane says, facing the issue head on. Less dodge, here, finally addressing that personal elephant. "It's just not me. Some odd imposter syndrome here," Shane says, self-diagnosing.

"But it's good. Right?" His self confidence doesn't even know what to do with all of it, what to make of it. Is he proud? Unsure. Is he comfortable in his own skin? No. Did he earn this? Yes and no; he's put in insane amounts of work at SESA and training, with little to show for it, and now here it is, a reflection of that actual effort and time spent.

Shane does step towards her hesitantly to offer an awkward, overly-careful side hug. There's plenty of Shane to hug.

"I think it's kind of an in-body experience now," Everleigh points out. "But I wouldn't categorize it as imposter syndrome. You may not feel like yourself, you may not feel like you deserve this, but you're no fraud. No one's gonna look at you and go 'Oh, he doesn't deserve to be this big strong tall fellow!' and I think you'll find that your colleagues are probably very welcoming. You may feel like someone else, but that's because you've become someone else. You just didn't realize this was a natural part of your process. It's just as much you as everything I've seen so far. It's just new. New things take some getting used to."

That said, she does move to hug him. He goes for the careful side hug, she goes for a little more of a full-on hug, taking advantage of the fact that yes, there is plenty of the man to hug at this point. It's gentle, her arms a presence and not a squeeze, more about her presence and some touch to really make up the body of the hug. She looks at him, having to have to look up to get a good look—that's different. Her head is more oriented towards his chest in the hug rather than his head now.

"You're learning and experiencing something new. Embrace it." She pauses. "Very gently."

Shane releases a breath. He adjusts his side hug some to fold his arm around her upper shoulders as she leans in against his front. It's awkward at first: but that's also Shane, Shane is often awkward with stuff like this anyway. In a sense, his slight awkward quality is particularly Shane. He didn't actively get close to people. Which in a hindsight, could be attributed to that his natural process in a number of ways got held back.

Her head on his chest will easily hear the robust beat of the big muscle in his chest, and a good amount of deepened voice when he stops speaking from his mouth and lets his voice more naturally drop into his chest.

"I'm trying to think of what I'd say to a coworker that had all of this happen to them," Shane answers, after a little bit of silence. "And realizing that I'd be… jealous of them, in a way. Mostly in that they finally figured out what their abilities are. I've been frustrated by that for so long. Being expressive lost me my job, and I didn't even know what it was I had. And now, there's this sense of extreme relief just to finally know. But I didn't think it would upend my life. But even if I… don't get a handle on this, I can still do a lot. I can teach, I can review facts and consult in cases."

Shane is a structured person mentally, in how he methodically breaks down cases or problems, and his own have gotten a lot of his highly focused stare. "Or I'll be able to be an even better asset, depending on strength. I hope for that. I think it'll require work. Training. But I've never hidden from those." No, Shane had all the willpower and drive, just not the genetic roll of the dice. Until now, maybe. Seems he may have rolled a crit.

"Might be multiclassing out of wizard," Shane teases dryly. He drops his face towards her head, bending, to put nose and mouth briefly in her hair. He doesn't squeeze her, but his hand flexes into a fist, and some of the awkwardness melts into his expression of worry, and seeking some comfort.

"You will get a handle on this, though. You realize there's a wealth of resources to make sure that you get used to things and adjust to your new life, right? You should. SESA as a whole runs quite a few of them. I've certainly referred patients to programs to help them. Plus you've got someone qualified to help you right here, though I'd understand if you don't want to mix professional and personal there."

Everleigh's head remains against his chest, making sure that there is at least the comforting sense of presence even if she's unable to squeeze the hug. "Maybe multiclassing, but it doesn't mean your INT is magically changing. It just means you've got more than you had before. It's a level up and you haven't figured out how to use your new class traits?" It's a lot easier to put it into perspective when she's turning it into tabletop references.

She lets out a slow breath. "I know I said you can't let fear rule you but… it is okay to be scared. Sometimes we feel stuff and we can't help it. You're allowed to be."

"I keep looking at it like having.. I don't know, a massive physical injury and having to work around it. Or feeling guilty for feeling like it's a gift, and I might be…" Shane adjusts. "Might have a natural charisma and intimidation bonus I didn't have before," he says, teasingly, embarrassed. NERD.

"When Hank was here.. It helped me a lot. I've asked him to come by a few more times, or I may go stay with him for a week," Shane says. "He's similar to me, now. Or I'm similar to him, whatever. I don't feel as much like a Sasquatch, or …alone." Hank is family, and also large, at 6'4". Everleigh would be familiar at least from a high school standpoint; Shane was frustrated and jealous as hell of Hank during that period. Lots of issues are rooted in that time, distance between the brothers from the jealousy.

Lots of things that might finally get repaired in the relationship of the brothers.

"I'm used to fear. Fear is okay," Shane says, softened, deeper. "Just unusual to fear what might come out of me. What I can't control. If I - broke your arm, or hand? I'd never forgive myself," Shane says, his broad shoulders slumping slightly, arm dropping from around her, though he doesn't step back.

"From both a professional and a personal standpoint, I'd say having Hank around or staying with him for a while would be good for you. I think honestly that's probably one of the best options you have," Everleigh offers. There's a small frown as she looks back up at him, then realizes he's a lot closer than she expected. There's a small fumble of her words before she manages to continue, trying to look entirely unphased.

"You might not forgive yourself, but I would. I know it's not intentional. I know you're working on being careful. I've broken bones before, if something like that happened I'd survive and then you'd have to buy me milkshakes every time we went out to lunch. I'd say that's a fair tradeoff." The humor's there to try and ease the situation, but it's also there to let out some of the strange sudden nervous tension that she wasn't sure where it originated.

"I prefer the reality where I don't owe you any milkshakes or have that guilt, Scully," Shane responds with a brief uncomfortable laugh. Fair trade? Pah. He doesn't know if he feels less nervous, or less unsure, or any number of other emotions coming through. But he's medicated, and has a lot going on physically with the rash of shift and testosterone.

Shane's aware he needs to reciprocate her kindness and her gentle little hug, her arms still secure around him, but his options are limited by his own fears. But there's options available that are possibly inappropriate. But some would be okay.

Like, it would be fine to kiss her forehead, wouldn't it? That would be a friendly expression that's available. He could just do that. But the situation of it is also weird, uncharted territory. And his history is not full of a lot of things like that: it has brief encounters before work once again became everything. But this is safe, both physically, and since its Scully.

But he ends up just hedging around a long time and that is awkward.

"Your hair smells nice," Shane says, and it is just as awkward as he's pretty sure that sounded. But he had to say something, not just stare at her like a fool.

Everleigh blinks at him for a moment. Not really because what he's saying is awkward, it's a perfectly reasonable compliment in the right circumstances. Really, these aren't bad circumstances for it either. The problem is that no one says that to her. She's pretty good at keeping emotional distance, and physical distance often comes with it. So she looks confused for the briefest of moments before it occurs to her that he can smell it.

"Oh! Yeah, I like it. It's not… I mean, it's nice someone other than me likes it. Not something people really get the chance to notice."

Now she's in a position that shifts dangerously to talking about her and she's aware of it. So she turns it back around towards him in a rapid attempt to avoid making things awkward for her. "I'm sure you'll be fine with a little practice. And if hugs have to be careful, they'll be careful until we get you used to things a bit more. All things in time, right?"

Everleigh's dodge creates a shift in the dynamic and Shane rushes to fix it. "It isn't like we hug all the time anyway," Shane laughs. "Little difference," he says, stepping back physically out of her hug, hands lifted to hover near her shoulders and upper arms without actually really touching her. He cautiously does a vague little 'pat' at her upper arms with both bandaged hands.

"What do you say we eat now, before you overhear my growling stomach," Shane says, adjusting easily towards comfortable topics, and inwardly shaming himself for thinking she'd be receptive to his face that close to her.

"I have pizza to heat, or…" Shane heads towards the kitchen, trying to remember the other options.

For the briefest of seconds, Everleigh's face flashes with something that looks like pain. It doesn't appear to be from the touch—he'd barely patted her, so it's hard to tell the origins of it. It's there, though, but brief enough to question if it actually happened. Once he's stepped back out of the way, her face turns to a smile. Professional.

"Right, shouldn't have to worry too much about the hug thing, of course." She looks away towards the kitchen, then away from that when he heads in that direction. "Pizza is fine. That sounds easy anyways, I'd rather you not have to work too hard for it. What kind?"

"Um, unsure what's left. I think it's supreme - so, a bunch of different toppings," Shane answers as he goes into the kitchen. The distracted yank on the fridge is entirely normal for him - it sticks a little - but it gets flung open to bash into the wall. Shane doesn't flinch at first, more just pulls it back and checks the wall for damage immediately, surprised, as if it were the fridge door that was the problem.

Obviously not. The wall does have a crack in it. Nothing to do about that, though, and Shane carries on: while flushed totally red. He offers her the wrapped pizza. It's easier for her to unwrap than for him. "Since you're here we can use the oven. Putting my hands in hot things is not very awesome right now. Mind doing that?" Shane asks, but produces a baking sheet from next to the fridge. It's fine, and he's pretending its fine.

There's only a tiny moment of hesitation before Everleigh moves to join him in the kitchen. "Here, let me handle all of it, alright?" She laughs, though it's less from the fact that anything's funny. She goes to unwrap it, moving over to where he's got the baking sheet so she can place the pizza upon it. She moves, sort of like a bee moving from flower to flower, only stopping for a second before moving on. Setting the pizza on the sheet, turning on the oven, cleaning up the trash, washing her hands… she's on the move.

Eventually, though, she's left waiting for the oven to heat up and has nothing to occupy herself with. She leans against the counter, simply staring at the oven. "At least with Hank you won't have to worry too much about cooking."

Shane allows her to have it, take it away from him, and moves to the side of the kitchen, into the doorway there. He crosses his arms; mostly just that this is often how he stands, nothing with any real meaning attached to it. He watches her buzz around, and indicates where things are, since she hasn't been there very many times.

"That's true. This pizza is from him staying," Shane answers. "And the overwhelming stock of drinks; on top there." There's lots up above the fridge: at Shane's easy eye level.

"Honestly, if I was going to trust anyone helping with you, it'd be him," Everleigh seems slightly distracted, her eyes scanning the top of the fridge. He might see easily, but she doesn't. She raises up on tip toes for a moment to peek before looking back at the oven again and occupies herself with putting the baking sheet into it.

"I'm glad he came to help you out for the bit that he did. I hate the idea of you having to deal with all of this alone."

"Do you want something? Iced tea?" Shane asks, moving towards the fridge and pawing around on top of it into the various drinks. "This… I could get used to," Shane adds, showing with his other palm the height thing, that he can see up there. The positive for it is glaring. "Just no taller, please," Shane says, offering her one of the iced teas, and after some consideration gets one for himself as well, a lemonade and iced tea mix.

"Would you humor me for another height measure? We'll get you a chair to stand on," Shane offers. "I didn't have Hank do it. It was an awkward point for us."

"Because he was bitter about you being so tall or because he didn't want to get right in your face?" Everleigh's face is the picture of amusement. In this instance, she's not awkward, even if her buzzing about the kitchen moments earlier indicated otherwise. The playful teasing is reflexive. Comfortable.

She takes the offered ice tea, leaning against the counter as she looks at him for a moment. "Alright, let's get you all measured then. We can check against earlier measurements and see if the average height gain has slowed at all. That could be a good sign."

"I'm not sure if making a graph for height over time would make me worry more, or less. But I'm sure somebody out there is interested in my data, after how the doctors were reacting to my freakish self," Shane chuckles, but he doesn't actually seem upset or annoyed. Being 'freakish' isn't a derogative: Shane's used it in their ancient history when he was more referring to some nerdy aspect of himself.

Not that he's turning into a mountain.

"Those should be heated by the time we decide if a graph is necessary." Shane slants a look to her, and teases, "Nerd." It's affectionate, really, though it packs different punch since Shane does not appear to be a nerd in classic stereotype form. He looks for the pencil they used on the wall, and comes up with it, and also hooks a chair by the back and totes it over. He did mean it; she might need it.

"Oh, are you gonna become a bully now that you're bigger than me?" Everleigh doesn't sound annoyed, at least. She knows it's playful teasing.

"I was always a bully," Shane teases back, cutting in. He'd normally poke her, but he doesn't; he does have his hands full: pencil in right, chair in left, which he sets down carefully. It doesn't weigh anything to him but he's being careful with it.

"Yeah, but you were a bully I could fight," Everleigh grins in response. She'd poke him herself, but she still doesn't want him to feel strange about his body, nor does she want to poke him anywhere that might still hurt. Instead, she just makes a face at him. Once the chair is in place, she climbs up onto it by using his arm to balance her, regardless of if he even offers it.

It takes a second for her to be comfortably perched on the chair where she can actually reach easily, and she offers her hand down to take the pencil. "Let's cross our fingers."

She's not a huge amount taller than him, standing on the chair. And he teases her about it — because how else can he respond to this weird chain of events but to try to find humor? Or to deflect the awkward with humor? "There you are," Shane says, looking up at her with a wry smile, and glancing down to her hand on his arm. "I'm not a tree," he adds, but there's no ire there. He steps back to the wall to let her do her thing.

He and Hank taped a tape measure up onto the wall next to the marks, and it is still there, which makes it a lot easier. Shane's hit 6'4", which means he's just inched past his brother. The marks on the wall are suggesting a bit of a bell curve: slow start, and starting to crest out of it. Shane waits, watching her while she marks, trying not to fidget.

Everleigh leans over carefully, making a mark to record his height. Once the pencil has been used and she's ready to climb down, she pats the top of his head while she can still reach it before she uses him to carefully climb down from the chair. She's not about to fall flat on her face in front of him. If she were at home by herself, she'd certainly care a lot less about saving face.

"Well, the good news is I think you're peaking. Bad news is… I think you're peaking." She smirks, the last part said in a playful tone. "I will say I doubt you'll grow much more than that. Six-four is pretty impressive though. I wonder how Hank will feel."

"Hey," Shane mock-complains as she pats at his head like that, smirking at her sideways as she hangs onto him on her way down, moving one forearm, palm up, to assist her. It's a little window into the sensation from their arm-wrestle; he's outside of a 'normal' human level of strength. How far, though, will have to wait.

"Six four?" Shane asks, turning to see, and look over the marks on the wall. "Hank is six-two, I just learned for sure; I asked him when he was here," Shane explains. "How will he feel? Hard to tell. I think he's just worried about me overall, so how he feels about that part?" Shane shrugs some, and shakes his head. "He's a good guy. We'll be okay."

"Runs in the family, I think. The good guy part… probably the height, too." Everleigh has no problem getting to the ground with the offered help. She's not the most graceful, but she doesn't stumble over her own feet. She looks back over at him once she's down. "He's not the only one worried about you. I think you'll be alright, I just…"

"Hey, hang on a minute," Shane asks, as she starts to trail off. Instead of helping her fully off the chair, he draws one hand in under her elbow, which partially will redirect her to stay on the chair for a moment longer.

"I'm sorry to make you worry. I know me asking you to come and stay maybe makes you worry. I do appreciate it. I don't know what I'm doing here, and I'm trying to stay out of my own head about it. Not make charts of math about what my height and weight are doing."

Shane moves his hand off her elbow to her side, stepping in towards her at the chair. It's a hug but it isn't; it's as much of a hung as he feels he can muster well, just resting palms against her side, but brings his head in towards her shoulder and chest, a bump of forehead against the shoulder.

"You asking me to come here makes me worry less, honestly. If I was stuck at my place I wouldn't have any idea how you were doing and I'd know that you had to do everything difficult all by yourself. I like being here. It means I can do something. Feeling like I help people is what I like in life and it's no exception in your case."

She might not have really been able to squeeze when they had their small hug before, but in this case she gets a small opportunity. Her arm moves around his head to hold him against her shoulder for the moment, just remaining there while she can. It feels like a little more of a hug than before.

"Sorry if I haven't been very good at keeping you out of your own head. I'll work on finding something to distract you with instead."

Shane isn't sure about it at first: he's not exactly captain Physical Closeness with anybody. There's a few places it stems from, mostly out of the ancient history of being physically bullied: so being close to anyone tended to be avoided, so that he wouldn't get embarrassed or pushed around. It comes from an older brother sitting on him when they were twelve, those sorts of encounters that shape the chip on the shoulder of a short or lean guy.

But he trusts Everleigh, and there's a crawling worry in his chest that needs comfort in some form, to not be alone through it. "You've been great, Scully, really. It's okay." He shifts left hand to hook it around her instead; hand stays turned outwards mostly due to injuries, but forearm and wrist come up to rest on her lower back, and he allows his head to rest fully against her shoulder.

Part of the positioning is giving an aspect of help to him: he's not towering over her, and her arm around his head isn't a zone where he feels unnaturally odd. There's a comfort found in the feel of her fingers near his ear, and he allows himself to relax.

Somehow they've found a hug that works a little better, and Everleigh's in no rush to move now. There's something comforting in that, and she leans her head atop his. "Just as long as I'm helping," she replies, though her tone is soft. She's speaking because she feels she needs to be speaking, not because it matters what's being said. She doesn't move, really, staying put, the only real movement at all being the light brush of fingers against his ear.

It was certainly a hug she needed. Emotions and stress were running strong and it was hard to let it out when the one person she didn't want to see her upset was right there in front of her. Normally she'd just go home and let it all out. Cry it out, take a nap, crawl in a hot bath with a bottle of wine. Certainly easier to deal with. The hug? It's at least a way to expend emotion she doesn't know what to do with. "Just tell me if there's more I can do." Her voice is still just as soft.

Shane lifts his shoulders just a little when she tickles his ear, a subconscious little twitch and chuckle from his chest as she brushes there. He isn't pulling away; the chuckle freed him up a little, and he actively uses the arm to hug her securely: forgetting himself for that instant maybe, but no harm befalls her. Because his intent isn't to use his muscle, just to wrap arm there and be at peace for a little longer.

Shane's breathing is warm and a little too uneven, but smooths out. What can she do? "Talk to me," Shane asks, quietly. His voice is a little uneven too. "What are you thinking?"

"What am I thinking?" Here, she sounds amused, but doesn't raise her voice too much. "I'm the one who asks the questions and then you tell me what frustrates you and then I tell you some advice you probably won't listen to but it makes you feel better all the same." Everleigh's eyes shut as she rests her head atop his. "I don't think about me much," she says in regards to his question.

The fingertips brush his ear again, though it's careful this time, touching near his ear first before the ear itself, a warning it's coming. Deliberate, even if the gesture seems casual. "I am thinking that you fell asleep before the end of that first X-Files episode so we'll have to start it over…"

There's a little pause, and then Shane exhales a deep, rolling laugh into her upper chest. His arm tightens a little: maybe enough to alarm, but again, he doesn't do anything with it other than reposition his hand and wrist at her back. "Well, I think about you," Shane answers, cheeky.

"Start over? I guess so, but I can pick up wherever we were," Shane says, lifting his head slowly, to look at her, meeting her gaze.

And there's a long, quiet moment of looking at her, now, embraced and close.

"You don't think about me," Everleigh replies, a small tone of disbelief there, though it's light because she doesn't know if it's true. It's not a statement she's sure she wants to leave unquestioned, though, because it makes her think. She finds herself trying to move past the statement and onto what he says next.

"I just thought you might want to…" But she's entirely lost her train of thought. The second he caught her gaze she'd forgotten she was speaking and what, exactly, she was trying to say. She doesn't even attempt to speak again, she just pauses, looking back at him in silence. Whatever that means.

Was there a little spark there? A little something?

Hard to tell, with these two. A smile comes up into his brown eyes and he draws back left hand to waggle two fingers towards her. A smile comes to his lips, too. "Bend down here a little, beanpole," Shane teases her, before lifting a hand to gently touch the side of her face and direct her down to let him give her a smooch on the cheek.

Blushing, he starts to step back, and offers her his forearm again to climb down off the chair.

Slowly, Everleigh comes back to full attention. She smiles back at him, the teasing statement a good warning that he was going for the cheek. She chuckles lightly, the warm smile staying there as she stuffs whatever thoughts were in her head back fully in there. Taking his arm, she starts to carefully climb down once more.

"I needed that," she says, simply and without further explanation. "Thank you."

"Anytime," Shane says, with a sort of gruff, odd humility that doesn't often come out of Shane. At least not in that manner. He's generally more deflecting using humor, instead of falling back onto his heels with a humility. But that's because his pride has taken a significant check with everything that's happened, and maybe even with their little hug there.

Shane just helps her down without adding anything to that, and starts to pick up the chair, then thinks better of it, and leaves it there next to the measuring wall, bending down to put the pencil on the seat. It isn't like they won't use it again before too long.

"Oh no; is the pizza burning?" Shane asks suddenly.

The mention of the pizza has Everleigh hurrying to the kitchen. "I'm sure it's fine!" She calls as she rapidly moves to grab the oven mitts and slips them on to pull them out. The baking sheet is slid onto the counter, the corner of it briefly hitting the top of the mitt. There's barely a squeak, but the brief spark of pain certainly fuels the frustration. She turns to close the oven and turn it off, scowling just slightly.

"Not entirely burnt, I just hope you like crispy pizza."

It's unfortunate that she doesn't.

"I think…. At this point, I might eat anything you put in front of me," Shane says, but his gaze is narrowed on the reason for the squeak, and a large frown at her. "Are you hurt? Please tell me both of us aren't burned," Shane asks, with a frustrated defensiveness. He should not have asked her to deal with the oven; he's shouldering blame immediately for her injury.

"I'm good," Everleigh assures him quickly. "Was just a second, it's nothing. Probably won't even turn red." She doesn't try to pass it off as not having happened, but she can certainly calm his worries. "I'm not hurt. I'm okay." She pulls off the oven mitts, setting them aside before she offers forward her arm. "See, nothing there. You don't need to worry about me for any reason." She lets out a slow breath. "Okay, let's just get you some crispy pizza."

Shane makes an 'ennnnnt' noise like a game-show buzzer, and gestures at her arm and towards himself with his bandaged right hand. Nope, the investigator isn't going to let her brush him off, he's going to look at the injury; he knows full well she'd probably hide it from him in some bravado. She hides a lot of things about how she feels, he's noticed.

When the inspection is passed, though, if she lets him see, he does get a plate down, distractedly, and accidentally breaks it when he sets it down too hard. He doesn't even really react to that, just puts the pieces in the broken pieces pile, and gets a new one, with a tightness in his mouth. It's getting to be expected.

She does allow the inspection because, in this case, it's legitimate. There's no real mark on her arm, no sign of the tiny bit of pain afforded to her. Everleigh glances over at him when the plate breaks, but she also doesn't comment on it. He got to the pieces before her, so she lets him take care of things. Instead she focuses on getting the spatula to serve the pieces up with.

"I think I only want one slice," she says after a moment. "So you can eat all the rest. You need it."

Shane lets her go without further pressure on it, since she's not hurt. His expression is a little clouded, but there's no reason to push her. He brings down the second plate without breaking it, offering it to her. "There's more food, there isn't a shortage here right now," Shane answers, a bit curious by her statement, but she's an adult.

And Shane is feeling awkward about the broken plate; a distraction for him even if he's pretending it's now normal. Because the awkwardness is about that that's now actually kind of normal.

"One piece is fine," Everleigh insists, not quite looking at him while she waits for him to give her the plate. As soon as she's taken it, she proceeds to slide pieces of pizza onto it with the spatula. One, two, three… she continues to pile on whatever's there save for the one piece she's leaving for herself. The overfilled plate is offered towards him after a moment.

"I'm fine with just the one. If I really need some I'll just eat something later." There's an odd tension surrounding her, but it doesn't come out in her voice, more in her demeanor. Her posture, the way she piles up the plate, it's just a little odd.

"Okay," Shane says, frowning at her, but he's actually insanely hungry, and the food pulls his attention. It's still very hot, so he fans it a little with right hand before picking up the plate in left, as well as a little fistful of napkins. Shane looks at her a minute but then carries the plate of food back into the main room, back to his couch nest.

With him safely out of the kitchen, she's afforded the opportunity to try and pull herself together. But she doesn't. She rests her back against the counter and just slides her way down until she's sitting on the floor. She tucks her knees towards her chest, her arms around them, and rests her forehead in against her knees. It's about as fetal a position as you can get. Everleigh breathes deeply, eyes shut, doing her best to calm herself and not go the other way. Thankfully, he's in the other room. If she had thought about it, she would have hidden in the bathroom for a few minutes. Instead, she has to pull herself together in minimal time. That was almost more stressful a thought.

Shane was busy with things like not breaking his plate or the couch, or hurting his ribs when he sat down. He figures out a spot for his plate before realizing that not only is Everleigh not coming into the living room area, but she's vanished: he can't see her anymore since she sat down.

Maybe she went to the bathroom? Shane sits up a little higher, brows knitting as he attempts to look back over to where he last saw her. "Scully?" Shane asks around a big bite of pizza, listening. Normally he pays more attention. This hunger thing is messing with him.

That's her cue. Everleigh scrubs her hands over her face and stretches her legs out before she slowly climbs to her feet. She inhales deeply, moving over to slide the single slice of pizza onto a plate. "Uh, yeah? I'm coming." She offers simply, no explanation for why she suddenly reappeared in the kitchen or even why she took so long. The plate is carried back into the living room and she offers him a smile.

"Pizza okay?"

She's just fine. She always is.

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