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Interlude: Fear of the Known

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"Nobody call me this weekend," Reid announced, slipping clipped stacks of paper into his bag and rearranging things until they all fit. "I'm not going to be here."

"Finally getting that holiday?" Alvez asked, with a wide smile.

"I'm going to visit my mother. Now that she's living in Boston, there's no reason not to. It's closer, less expensive..." Reid shrugged and patted his pockets, making sure he had everything he meant to. "It's just taken me a bit to get used to the idea that she's right there, and this is something I can just... do on a weekend."

Alvez nodded. "Living closer to your family is good, sometimes. If you want to see them, they're right there, but they're still not in the same city, so if you don't want to see them..." He shrugged expressively.

"I feel so bad I couldn't keep her closer, but after everything that happened... it's just safer, this way." Reid tucked his hair behind his ear and dug through his desk drawer for something he'd misplaced.

"Reid, your mother's ill," Lewis reminded him. "She needs more help than you can give her, alone. You did the right thing, and you're doing the right thing, now, going to visit her. Whatever she remembers is a gift, and she's never forgotten you. I don't think she will."

"There's no doubt in my mind that I've made the right decisions. I can still regret that it's come to a point where these are the right decisions." Reid pulled his car keys out of the drawer, uncertain when he'd managed to put them there, and shoved them into his pocket. "Not visiting her. I have no regrets about that. And on that cheerful note, I'm gone for the day. I'll be back on Monday. If you need something, borrow Villette from down the hall."

Alvez watched Reid leave, before he shot a look at Lewis. "God made two of him, and I'm still not sure why."

"Obviously, so one could take holidays." Lewis looked over at Alvez. "And Agent Villette is perfectly competent in his own right, and I'm sure he's tired of the comparison."

"I'll believe that when he stops calling Reid his 'evil twin'."


Halfway home, Reid once again found himself faced with the fact that he'd been dragged into the twenty-first century against his better judgement and still had nowhere to stick his phone while he was driving, which shouldn't have been a problem, except he'd gotten into the habit of not calling Langly from home, when possible. Langly's paranoia rubbing off on him, he had no doubt, but he also had very little doubt it wasn't quite paranoia -- the man did technically have people who wanted to kill him, at least some of them demonstrated to still be alive. He dialled at a stoplight, put the phone on speaker, and tossed it on the passenger seat. Close enough.

Barely one ring, before Langly picked up, as if he'd been waiting. "Hey, gorgeous, tell me you've got something more interesting than this month's accounting."

"Do you want to go to Boston, tomorrow?"

"Did... What... Boston? Why Boston?"

Reid could almost hear Langly sorting through recent memories, looking for a reason. "Because if you're up for it, I'd like you to meet my mother."

"Is that a good idea?" Langly's horror came through clearly.

"If you don't want to, that's fine. I know it's short notice, and you're not really into family..."

"No, no, not that, I mean... I'm sure I'm not the pretty girl she expects to see you with, and I'm not shaving my legs again, so no." Langly laughed nervously. "You're ... taking your boyfriend to meet your mother. That's... Are you sure that's really a good idea?"

"I've never brought anyone to meet her. I've never had anyone I was comfortable introducing her to -- she's... I don't have to tell you. You've seen the records." Reid swallowed, trying to remember why he'd thought it was a good idea to have this conversation while he was driving. "I just want her to see I'm happy."

"You're sure she's not going to freak out? Because maybe this is me being old, but I'm pretty sure this is one of those things that ends in screaming and disowning."

"She can't disown me. I have power of attorney." Reid sighed. "I know that's not what you're asking. I think she'll be a little surprised, but I don't think she's going to take it poorly."

"And you're seriously going to try to grab a ticket for tomorrow." Langly sounded utterly disbelieving.

"Just yours. I already have mine."

"Uh-huh. Why don't you let me solve that problem?"

"How illegal is that likely to be?"

"Do you want an answer to that?"

"Probably not."

"Didn't think so. Just let me take care of it." Langly stifled a yawn. "How many days?"

"Out on the morning commuter, back on the eleven-thirty. It's cheaper to fly in the middle of the night."

"No luggage," Langly observed.

"One carry-on. You can bring your laptop."

"Starting not to need it," Langly admitted. "But, I probably should, if only because I should be in airplane mode for the flight."

"I shouldn't be having a conversation about the effect of transhuman evolution on our relationship, while I'm driving."

"Then trust me to handle the flight, and I'll be at yours in a few hours. I just have to wrap some things up so nothing catches fire while I'm gone, apologise to the girls for ditching them again -- at least it's not a competition weekend. I'd be less nervous if I was sure Byers was in his right mind."

"It's only a day."

"It's Byers. He's not well."


"Please don't take this personally, but I'm about to be a complete remorseless asshole to you." Langly was on the phone again, calling the one person he hoped he could count on to take care of Byers while he was gone. Not that Frohike wouldn't try, but Frohike wasn't what Byers needed.

"What'd you do this time, Frank, and how bad are the national security implications?" Garcia sighed loudly, and Langly could imagine the eyeroll.

"It's Fitz. He's... He really needs someone, right now, and I have to get on a flight at five tomorrow morning. I'm only gone a day, but I'm really worried he's going to do something stupid."

"What about Whiskey?"

"Wrong kind of help. He's been curled up in my lap, crying, for days. Whiskey can't handle this shit -- this has always been my problem, but I absolutely have to be in Boston, tomorrow. Just take him for lunch or something. This whole thing with Holly really fucked him up."

"I don't really want to step in that. Whatever they have going on... I don't want to get in the middle of it."

Langly crammed a hand under his glasses, pressing the heel of his hand into his eye, and the glasses dropped to the desk in front of him. "There is no middle of it. That's the problem. It's over. He's in the middle of the divorce he can't have to the marriage he wasn't invited to, and thank the gods of your choice their daughter's an adult, because I don't even want to think about what a custody agreement with a dead husband would look like. Holly left him for Paul. For real, this time."

"Oh my gosh. When?"

"Right after we got him back. And not to his face, at first. None of us saw it happen, so we all thought he'd lost his mind. Me. I really thought he'd lost it. I was sitting right next to him, when it hit him. He just needs someone to tell him he's sweet and cute, maybe make sure he eats something and doesn't drink himself to death, before I get home."

"Well, he's definitely sweet and cute! Wait, does that mean you--"

"Assured him that he was a desirable piece of man-meat that any woman would be lucky to be allowed to fondle lovingly? Yeah. Hey, what are friends for?"

"You're something else, Frank. Reminds me of why I like you."

"And you are much too young for me."

"And Reid is younger than I am."

"I keep trying not to think of that. I knew you when you were a teenager. I didn't meet him until he was almost forty. It's ... stupid, but it's different. Anyway, you don't want me, I'm an asshole. You want Fitz, who is moral and righteous and has pretty eyes."

"Pretty eyes, huh?"

"I'm not blind. Have you looked at him, lately?" Langly huffed. "I'm pretty sure you could achieve world peace by sending him into war zones to make sad faces at the leaders on both sides. And if he's not enough, there's always Villette."

"Speaking of Villette, what's this I hear about the two of you?" The question sounded curious, but with an edge.

"I don't know. Hafidha even said it wasn't me she heard, that night, so you're looking in the wrong place for a rumour. I was probably asleep at the time." Langly paused for a moment, and then decided to be a dick. "I was definitely with Reid, because I spent that whole night with him."

"Ew! Okay! That is... all I need to know!"

"So, it's fine when it's me and Villette, but not when it's me and Reid?" Langly could see what Reid meant about his team being weird about him.

"No, it is not fine when it's you and Villette." Garcia snapped, and the sound of background typing stopped. "If I find out you're screwing around on Spencer, I will erase everything you love and have every one of your identities voided."

"There is absolutely no screwing around going on, regardless of how much screwing may be going on, and if you want to hear about that, you're going to have to ask Reid on Monday, because I'm not having that conversation." On that point, Langly would not be moved. Not only did he get why Reid and Chaz were trying to keep it quiet, but his own sex life was not a subject for discussion with people who weren't involved in it. "Anyway, Fitz."

"I don't know if I'm really the right choice for that."

"I've heard rumours that you're really good at this kind of thing. Even Reid says so. He also says he's sorry he hung up on you that one time. And the other time. And probably the other time, but that one wasn't his fault." Langly picked up his glasses and put them back on. "Besides, you're still figuring out if you're actually interested in him, right? Well, this is the actual worst. Everything's uphill from here. Just bring him some cake and tell him he's cute. He'll probably cry. He cries at everything, right now, but I mean, I would. He really needs someone on the outside, someone who's not one of us."

"That's so sad. And Reid should be sorry he hung up on me. I'm an absolute spirit of goodness and wonder." Garcia sighed, and Langly knew he had her. "So, is he coming out, or should I show up at your super-secret bunker?"

"If you show up at the house, let Whiskey know you're coming, because he's not going to be too busy sulking to open the garage for you." Langly glanced over his shoulder, to make sure Frohike wasn't standing behind him. "And give him a minute to get the inner door. There's at least two vault doors and a flight of stairs between him and you, if you come in from the garage, and he's not as young as I am."

"Because you're so very young and sprightly," Garcia teased.

"Hey, I'm the youngest person living here, and you're not that far behind me!"

"A lady never ages."

"Then I guess I'm putting my best friend's life in the hands of a teenage hacker, which, give or take a couple of years is about how this all started, so I really can't complain."

"He'll be fine, Frank. Just ask Spencer about the time I made him sit still long enough that I could paint his nails. I promise he stopped crying before I was done."

"You-- I must have something in my ear. You did what to Reid?"

"Painted his nails. And I put happy little kitties on them. But, it was probably the half-gallon bucket of chocolate-cherry soy ice cream that did the heavy lifting, there. Got problems? Apply theobromine. Every girl knows it, every man ignores it."

"Just so you know, I'm stealing that idea."

"Good. You take good care of that boy, Ringo."

Langly winced. "Don't let Byers die while I'm out, and we'll call it even."