everleigh_icon.gif shane_icon.gif

Scene Title Murderhobos
Synopsis 25 years later, two nerds talk about team sports and rolling dice.
Date January 17, 2020

May 18th, 1995

Pike's Bowling Alley, New York.

"Seriouslyyyyyy," the teenage boy complains at the ball that ends up hitting zero of the split pins he had just managed to create just before. Two on one side, one on the other: and Shane didn't get any of those three down with his second attempt. "FAIL."

Shane turns slowly around, spinning on that foot, with a grumpy sigh. Shane really isn't good at bowling. A lot of it has to do with a lack of physical strength, or motor awareness, or caring a lot about actually practicing. A jumble of those, for the skinny boy.

He wanders back towards the bench where his nachos are present, picking two up to munch on. Shane's a travesty with food: he eats whatever he wants and never gets out of skinny. It's a thing. "Best sport ever still; what other sports, I ASK you, can you eat nachos while you play?"

Everleigh’s nachos are gone. They’ve been gone for some time now and she’s merely sneaking Shane’s every time his back’s turned. She peers at the lane in front of her, then back over at him. “Or you could, y’know, just not play a sport and just eat the nachos. Problem solved, everyone’s happy. Yay, go team.”

Her distaste for everything sports doesn’t seem to have much to do with the sport itself as much as the idea that you had to work as a team. Solitary sports, like bowling and golf were tolerable. “You’re getting better, though, I think you might be kind of putting a little too much twist on it when you’re throwing.”

She doesn’t know. She was watching his nachos.

"Well when I don't twist, I gutterball," Shane says, in his usual way of trying to figure something out with the all-mighty brain. As if he could calculate particularly how the ball should rotate out of his hand … but it isn't like he could ever physically perform the required action. He's quick and reasonably well coordinated, but throwing things is not his area.

Shane eats two more chips, slumped now on the bench, chewing them, as their lane resets. There's other people in the bowling alley: mostly 'serious' folks, a lot older. No other teens tonight, it seems.

"That guy's twisting a lot," Shane points out, at the guy down the way, with a smirk. It's ridiculous looking, but Shane never actively makes fun of people, not in a mean way. He knows what it's like. "Maybe he's got a system."

Everleigh snags a broken piece of chip when Shane glances away, and she tosses it in her mouth before leaning over so she can get a better view. “That guy’s probably not winning. Pretty sure he’s just trying to impress someone. Sportsball players get all showy when they think people they want to impress are watching.”

She gives him a nudge. “See, her over there. He’s trying to show off. You’re not trying to show off, you’re trying to knock down pins and be good at a game. Less twist. Aim more center. Or maybe stand a little more to your left.” She nods, knowingly, peering down the lane again. “Yeah, that’ll do it. A little more left.”

Shane eyes his plate of nachos skeptically, but doesn't actually suggest she's stealing. Just gives her a little bit of amused side-eye. He doesn't care, really. He just has always had a great eye for details, or noticing when something is out of place.

Shane looks down the lanes towards the woman Everleigh is indicating. He considers the woman as well, a little too long. Yes, something to be distracted by, Shane can empathize.

"You lean left, it's your turn, Scully," Shane says, pointing to the bowl return from his slumped position. The nickname flows out, easy as always; he rarely uses her real name anymore.

This time, she blatantly takes a nacho, stuffing it into her mouth right in front of him before getting up and heading over to the ball return. Everleigh picks up the ball carefully, with two hands, then shuffles her way over to the lane. While she’s supposedly not super interested in the sport, she’s still taking the game seriously but to a perfectionist’s degree. She moves left, then right, then left again, angling herself in different ways until she looks satisfied.

"LEEEFT," Shane singsongs helpfully.

The shiny red ball rolls down the lane and she leans forward on her tiptoes as if somehow that would help her see the progress better. The ball connects with pins, knocking some down but leaving the left most two upright. “Not helping,” she sing-songs back.

"Not on your teeeeeam," Shane sings. He does similar behavior during games like Monopoly. He wins more if the opponents forget to pay attention to if he has a monopoly or not. Shane, though, he always remembers that stuff. Not that he wins: he has notoriously bad dice in dice games. If there is a bad spot to land on, Shane will land on it.

"Good job keeping it out of the gutter though, chip-stealer," Shane gives her with a thumbs up, leaning over very deliberately to pick up her Coke and drink out of the straw with his eyes widened. "MMmmmmmmmmmmm."

“It’s unfortunate that I’m still getting over that cold,” Everleigh says, making a face at him. “It’s probably still in that infectious stage… guess you’ll get a few days off from school, hacking and wheezing…” She’s exaggerating, she didn’t miss any school, just an after school fundraiser that just happened to not want to attend in the first place. Her cold is suspect.

She plops down on the bench again, looking back over at him. “Anyway, you seemed really excited to come do this, was there some other reason you—oh my god is that Becky over there?”

It’s not.

Instead, it’s a clever chip-stealing strategy she’d just thought of. The second he looks, she proceeds to cram as many of the chips into her mouth as she can get before he realizes the ploy.

"Uuuuuuuuuughhhhh." The Coke is put aside, with an extension of tongue in a grossed-out gesture. "Normally I'd be okay with it, but I don't want to be sick this weekend!" Sick for school is sometimes okay.

"Becky doesn't bowl," Shane asserts firmly when Everleigh attempts to distract him, glowering at her. At first. Then he looks, and she goes for his chips, and Shane protectively pulls them out of the way. She still got a handful. "Hey! My precious chips!" he defends, upset. But not really upset. "Speaking of team stuff, though," Shane says, still playing keep-away with his chips, "Harvey is starting another D&D campaign, did he tell you? Are you in?" Shane asks. "I think Bob and Walt are in too."

"You can't be the wizard, though." Shane is almost always the wizard. "Taaaaaken."

“Are they going to let me play? I’m a girl.” Everleigh scoffs as she shoves a chip ungracefully into her mouth. “I mean, they mentioned it but they never asked so I don’t know if I’m included.” She grabs for her Coke. “You could ask for me, though. They listen to you. If you tell them I’ll let everyone play at my house I bet they’ll for sure include me.”

She sips from the beverage in her hand. “I wanna play a druid. A druid can do any role and be exactly what the team needs.”

"I was afraid you were going to say 'bard' for a second," Shane snickers. "Bards are sooooo useless," he says, with a shake of his head. "Bob might be weird about it, but Bob can eat a bag of dicks." So there.

Shane scrapes up what is left of the nacho toppings with one sadly naked chip that didn't get any delicious cheese on it. He eats it, then sets the meager remains of his chips down, rubbing his palms off on his jeans as he goes to get the ball for his turn.

"I thought," Shane says, with a judgy look, "You would want a rogue. You have impressed me, padawan," he determines, turning to heft his mustard yellow bowling ball, and muscle it over to the lane. "But they'll probably make you heal, as a druid."

“Make Bob do that,” Everleigh scoffs, picking at the poor abandoned cheeseless chips. “He can heal. Maybe I’ll play a paladin then if they want to try and peg me as a healer. I’ll take everyone on. And it’s gonna be a guy, and he’s gonna look like Fabio but he’s going to be completely uninterested in anyone other than himself and smiting bad guys.”

She leans back a bit. “Or I’ll do a rogue. But I’m not healing. People are too stupid for me to have any fun playing the healer.”

"That's the spirit, Scully. Medicine, yyyyuuuuck," Shane teases immediately from the lane, as he eyes the ball and makes his shot. It's all right: just to the left, and it picks off three pins on the left side.

Shane considers the pins, but looks pleased with the shot; anything that isn't a gutterball tends to be a relief to him, in general. "Paladin? Sure. I'll stand behind you and do my firebolts, Shane says, moving fingers in a pew-pew motion off of each finger.

“You explode them and I’ll cleave them with my mighty blade,” Everleigh holds her arm in the air as she makes her way over to pick up her ball. “Yeah, I could definitely get behind doing something fun like that.” She retrieves the ball, wanders over to the lane, proceeds to turn her back and throw the ball through her legs backwards.

She stands up and walks away like a champ. It gutterballs.

"Or the other way. Cut them and I'll set the bits on fi-ah," Shane says, waggling his hands in fire-casting motions, but he shuts up to let her bowl without him doing further distraction. Obviously it is not needed, since she bowls like a granny. "Well."

"I think you forgot to lean left," Shane points out, with a pew-pew at the lane. Indeed, it did go into the right gutter, so his advice isn't far off.


January 17, 2020

"What was your Paladin's name?" Shane asks, resting in the booth of the bowling alley. His boots are up, resting on one of the metal low bars surrounding the ball return, and squinting into the past and his memory.

It's not Pike's Bowling Alley, sadly; that was destroyed, leveled in the war. But Shane found an alley just the same, 'The Bowlero', and that's where the two old friends have ended up on the Friday evening.

"Jasmine? Something like that?" Shane stretches one shoulder, arm resting loosely on the back of the booth cushion, though he doesn't really stretch out too far; he's not a large man, after all. He thinks about it, one hand rubbing up from his nape onto his bare head, the lights overhead creating a sheen on his tanned scalp not unlike that on the bowling balls around.

“Jase, and that was because she was pretending to be a guy,” Everleigh scans the bowling alley with a fond smile. Maybe it’s not the same, but it’s certainly one that sparks memories. “Bob figured it out and then he wouldn’t stop trying to get her to confess.” She shakes her head. “I wonder what happened to him. Kinda wanna know if he’s the same asshole or if people really do grow up at some point after high school.”

She grins a bit more broadly. “I do recall you hid behind me a lot, though. Fireballs, right?”

"I kept in touch with Bob up until the war. I forget who he married; but he had two young kids, last I knew. I don't know where he or his family is at this point. I think he did real estate," Shane adds. There's a pause. "Polly. That was her name. Polly Saunders." Shane's memory is generally overly remarkable; it's always been like that. Perhaps it's his superpower.

"Hiding? Tactical, I was wearing cloth! Tactical … Right up until dying horribly, you do remember my awful luck, don't you?" Shane asks, with a heave of breath in despair. Shane and his epic series of '1' rolls.

"I forget what ate me. I blocked it out." Shane chuckles, a grin showing. That's a lie, Shane remembers a lot of things, particularly those which became mocking jokes for the rest of the year in their friend group.

Everleigh gives a shrug. “What can you do? The dice say what they’ve got to say. We are but mere mortals. The dice giveth and the dice taketh away. Anyway, I did avenge you. And to my credit I made them give you a funeral. Pretty sure they wanted to just loot your corpse and leave.” She chuckles.

“Good for Bob, though. It’s funny to hear what becomes of people… part of me wishes I kept in contact with some people after high school, the other part of me reminds me that I hated everyone in high school.” She pauses. “Don’t worry, you aren’t included in that, Mulder. Never hated you.”
"Yes, you and your role-play that got in their way of being murder-hobos," Shane chuckles softly. He continues to knead his hand from his neck to his scalp slowly, a thoughtful expression with him, though not one he did as a child: it's new, possibly due to the shaved head.

"I don't remember what I played after that. A monk? Not as memorable, whatever it was," Shane smiles, his expression still back in time, in the memories. "I hated the bullies. Which was most of them. The smart kids, like us, they were all right by me."

Shane looks off down the lanes, the mostly empty bowling alley. Then again, it's still early in the evening. "Nah, you loved me," Shane teases offhandedly with a soft laugh and flash of one of his large smiles. He's kidding; if she felt one way or the other about him, he wasn't aware of it.

“I will always stand by a good story over some extra loot any day,” she says, her tone amused at the reminiscing. Everleigh looks sideways at him. “No one liked the bullies, but the smart kids were just as bad. They’d judge you and look down on you when they’d think you couldn’t see them. I always knew, though. Hated them all.”

His comment about love does cause her to smile though. “I loved you in the way a teenage girl loves the only person who understands her.” She gives him a nudge with her elbow. “You’re still pretty okay, if you wanted to know.”

"Maybe," Shane answers of her assessment of everyone looking down on or hating them. Shane considers. "Pretty sure that was my entire experience with all of the girls," he adds. And nudges her back. "Present company excepted, obviously. School dances are for losers and posers, right?" Shane asks, offering her his palm, expectant of a hand clasp and shake on that.

"Still pretty okay? Shit. That's like an epic compliment from you, unless you've gotten better at them. You don't want to make fun of me a little bit, just to balance that out?" Shane teases, but adds a wink to it.

Everleigh rolls her eyes, accepting the hand clasp. “Why did anyone ever want to go to those things anyway? High school culture is demented and I doubt that’s changed to this day. It’s us all running around pretending to be mini adults but doing things adults don’t do to this day. I can’t remember the last time I went dancing, much less slow danced to the crooning sounds of the Backstreet Boys.”

She nudges him again with her elbow. “You can’t stand me making fun of you, your fragile ego won’t know how to stand up to my savage burns. Besides, that was hardly a compliment. I could certainly actually compliment you but you haven’t given me a reason to.”

"You still don't want to see me dance. That probably has not improved," Shane admits, but he rolls his eyes about his fragile ego. She has, in fact, seen him dance - in the sense of being a weird teenager that was happy about putting a fireball through the forehead of a Beholder.

Shane's laughing softly at the mention of the Backstreet Boys. "I think we're both far better than that /place/. But it was so long ago, who knows if we're just remembering it how we feel like remembering it." He looks at her and smiles in a slanted way on one side of his mouth. "Are your savage burns for friends only, or do you mutter them after clients leave?"

“I, good sir, am a professional,” Everleigh states, chin held high. “And it would be terribly unbecoming of me to do such a thing to people who can’t defend themselves.” She pauses. “Which is why I save them for friends. You can at least give as good as you get, I’d say. Not that I’m looking for trouble… just pretty sure you can defend yourself. Life has made you pretty scrappy, and not just that you can handle a punch.”

She tilts her head and looks at him, a long, hard look. “Careful, I’m gonna start psychoanalyzing you in a minute.”

Shane watches her sideways, without turning his head at first, one brow still raised. A little smirk shows up, though it isn't a wide one. "More that I let that stuff roll off. Not just the punches, but the rest of it. Holding that in, no way to live, I think. We all have to grow up sometime."

Shane turns to face her more fully, accepting that long hard look, though she'll just perceive him studying her, really. What her warning and 'threat' suggests more about her, than about him. His smile and slight shrug give away little else. "I thought we agreed not to do that."

“Growing up is overrated. You should see my closet, that’s certainly not growing up.” Everleigh shrugs her shoulders. “We’ve all got our outlets. We deal in our own ways. As long as we aren’t hurting anyone with it.” She squints at him, “studying” him further, not shying away from that particular look.

“I know. I guess I just kind of like to see how people change. You’re the only person who I’ve known long enough and was close enough with that I can look at you and actually see the changes. I work with people all the time, help them figure out their lives, eventually they stop seeing me. One, maybe two years? But I’ve got the chance to look at who you are now versus who you were back then and it’s hard not to just sit and wonder.”

Shane leans forwards, resting his elbows on his thighs, and lets out a slow breath, and looks around the bowling alley. "All right, Scully, you've got my curiosity. I think you know that you do," Shane adds, still looking away. He then shakes his head with an exasperated laugh, but then hooks his dark eyes to her.

There's amusement, more than anything else, there. "You're sitting and wondering, seeing changes." He opens his hands out, palms up, then pulls his fingers in, in the same gesture a fighter might indicate for his opponent to bring it on.

Everleigh smirks. “I take pride in capturing attention when I feel like I require it.” She takes a moment to turn quite a bit more fully to face him. “Alright, where would I start. We were talking about those burns, so I guess I can poke there. I know you had trouble with those bullies, but you do seem stronger, more resilient. I’m willing to bet you don’t particularly trust people readily because of it, but you can take the emotional hit and weather it just fine.”

She shrugs. “Maybe not a burn so much, but touching on touchy spots. I’m going with what I’m seeing, so you have to tell me where I’m wrong. Been a long time, Mulder.”

"I'm just stubborn, Scully," Shane answers her, with a slight shake of his head. "Just comes down to that, I think. I'm not about to let a bully or a criminal win, not while I can do something about it." He sighs a little bit, but smiles. "I think I'm just better at not laying on the cement while I try to do that. More effective, from the training."

Shane considers the rest of her statement, though he doesn't look withdrawn. "I trust my team. My agents to not shoot me in the back if I'm leading a charge. Some of that's just faith. We count on each other. But other trust? Ehhh. Hard to have that, after staring down into some of the nastiness of this world."

“You’ve turned into the paladin. Wizard’s all grown up now and protecting other little wizards,” Everleigh says it with a smile, it’s playful and not at all meant to be a jab. “I won’t say that people are heroes, I don’t particularly believe in that thing and I find that elevating someone to that status tends to just make a mess of things, but I can say there are people who are noble and protect people.”

A nod. “You’re doing that with your job, I’m sure, and I think you do it in life. You’re not cynical like I am.” She pauses. “Although I don’t know that I’m actually cynical, just feels that way sometimes. Anyway, I think you believe in people more than me.”

"Yep, my badge is my paladin shield; it's been like that for a few years. Lost it along the way somewhere when the war made things make less sense, but…" Shane releases a breath he'd held. "I hope I've found it. Keep going."

"That is… terrifying from a therapy standpoint; how do you go on doing what you do, without believing people can, in fact, benefit from what you are doing, be better?" Shane lifts a brow at her, but he's mostly just poking a hole into her statement to see if he can turn her argument around a little.

"Sometimes it's a bit of a game to me; trying to out-think or maneuver the other guy. But the stakes are high. Can't be rolling those '1's, so I do whatever I can to not be rolling at all." Shane watches her, analytical, but he's not really trying to read her at the moment; he's approaching it in a friendly way.

"What are you doing your job for?"

“I’m not saying that people can’t be better. People can change, people grow and experience new things all the time. I just don’t think that’s true of everyone. I don’t think everyone is as they appear and I don’t trust someone fully until I’ve got a read on who they are. Face value, people will lie to your face. I see it all the time. I’ve got to dig to even find ways to help them, ways to see how they can be better people, heck, even just finding ways to make them happier.”

Everleigh shrugs a little bit. “But you’re the puzzle solver. Always been good at it, always driven to find the answer. You know some psychology, know how people work. So what do you think. Why do I do it?”

"Why do you do what you do," Shane says aloud, as if it helped him to repeat what the puzzle itself is. "I think in some ways you're like me, but you're not there for the puzzle itself. I think you like it when you understand something, when you've put it to rights."

Shane continues to watch her, observing her expression. "You like order. Things that aren't out of your hands. I think it helps you — and helps others — when you're sorting out the pieces of their lives. Making things make sense."

“Not bad, Mulder, not bad,” Everleigh assesses, looking him over. “I suppose that’s part of what makes me do the job I do. I like to see others find happiness, I like to see pain lessened, I like knowing that some small help I’ve given someone has changed them for the better. They do the hard work, I just steer the way. It’s a beautiful process, sometimes, very rewarding. Very different than what you do, but very rewarding all the same.”

She seems to be thinking of a question, pauses as if to ask it, pauses again. It’s clearly something she’s not sure she wants to ask, but she goes for it anyway. “Do you work too hard and spend your extra time occupied to escape from something, or do you just like the job?”

It’s something she can’t really assess about him on her own.

"Are you asking because that's what you're concerned you're doing?" Shane asks, tapping a few fingers against the knee of his pants.

"I actually had a while to think about that, when I was a civilian." Shane shifts his weight a little bit, but even though he pans his eyes over the bowling alley, he hasn't left their conversation at all. "Something about the job does wear, takes a part of you. I'm not digging to find someone's best side, I'm digging to anticipate them before they murder, or commit some other violent crime, Scully."

Shane taps his fingers. "Being good at this - doesn't mean I like it a lot of the time. But I like what comes out of it. Stopping these people. Finding justice for the victims." Shane considers. "I think I spend my extra time trying to keep the dark side of the job in a box. Not the other way."

“So you spend your extra time doing your job because of altruism?” Everleigh chuckles lightly. “Here comes the cynic in me. I think that’s what you tell yourself. I don’t think it’s a lie, really. You do want to help people, you are trying to get justice for people. But if you don’t think for a minute that you’re sacrificing other parts of your life for any reason other than altruism, then you’re fooling yourself.”

Her smile isn’t cynical, though. It’s caring, maybe even bordering some kind of gentle concern. “I just wanted to know how much we shared in common.”

"No, I think extra time comes with needing to do it right. And maybe a healthy dose of being unable to set boundaries between personal life time and the job. The puzzle gets all consuming." Shane doesn't seem to be taking the discussion too hard or deeply, he shrugs, and his tone isn't impacted too hard.

"It's hard to put, say, a priority of some date before someone that really needs help. A case where I'm getting close to finishing it. But there's always another case, isn't there."

Everleigh takes a moment to consider his words, nodding a bit. “I see,” she says, sounding like a therapist. “Always another case, always another person who wants your time and attention. Life’s distracting from work, work’s distracting from life. It’s a vicious cycle and most people tend to work to balance it at least a little bit. It’s all about where your priorities lie and what you’re willing to give up and when.”

She glances up at the ceiling briefly. “It’s a tricky mess, but one that everyone’s in. You usually choose one or the other in the end. I don’t think people are good at balance.” That’s speaking from experience.

"But that's part of why I took the job with SESA," Shane says. "The Florida precinct was always a flood of hell. But, you know, it was my flood." A smile hooks in, genuine enough, but he doesn't linger over the thought of that part of the past.

"The work itself with SESA's more balanced. There's outreach and other functions to it. But the work needs to be done, the rough along with the easy. I'm not good at saying no, when I know I can lend a hand." Shane glances at her sideways. "So you were saying we had something in common? I think that's one. The doctor's always in; the cop's always there. Maybe for those times we wanted somebody to be."

“It’s good that people have people. Someone should be there when it comes down to it. It’s good SESA has someone like you.” Everleigh looks down one of the bowling lanes, eyes a bit distant. “Hard to say no to someone you can help, hard to say no to someone who deserves that help.” She’s certainly thought long and hard about these things before. “Anyway, no need to continue to humor my ramblings.”

She turns her attention away from the lane and back over to him. “You play any D&D after high school?” She smoothly moves into the next topic as if nothing they were saying before had any weight other than the words on the surface.

"Why, are you looking for a game?" Shane asks, allowing her to steer the topic without any comment from him. The fact that she did divert there, though, did cause a little lift of brow. Still, nothing more. He's keeping his own analysis of her mostly at bay: not appropriate to give much hint of applying that to her. Besides, he doesn't really want to, not really.

"I can see what I can dig up, if so."

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