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Interlude: Home is What You Make It

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The three of them had taken to working out of Reid's apartment, small as it was, because the Bureau had nowhere to put their not-quite-a-case that was out of the way enough that someone who didn't need to know wasn't going to walk right into it. Chaz and Reid were technically still on call, in case things got weirder than anyone else wanted to deal with, but, for the most part, they'd been cut loose with instructions to admit to nothing. At least for a few weeks. Reid sat at his desk, papers piled on every flat surface around him, corkboards above the bookcases behind him. Every now and again, he'd reach back and make a note or pin another card. Langly lay on the couch with his laptop, the portable printer and a heap of dishes on the coffee table next to him, the stream of expletives a near constant soundtrack, interrupted by slurps of Jolt. Chaz occupied the table in the far corner, workspace a combination of the other two, with piles of paper pinned under his laptop and a bag of empty takeout boxes beside his chair.

Langly cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably, the swearing dragged to a sudden halt.

"What do you have?" Reid asked, not looking up.

"Ah, slightly more personal." Langly cleared his throat again, voice rising in pitch as he went on. "Happy birthday. I bought your house."

This time, Reid looked up, and the uncanny stillness of the gaze he turned on Langly could have cleared a room. "It's not my birthday, yet. It's not even your birthday. And I told you I didn't want or need a house."

Chaz held the mirror close, assuming he'd need it to stop whatever was about to happen, here, mostly because he wasn't quite sure what it was. With as uncomfortable as Langly looked, this sounded like an accident of some sort. That wasn't smug, that wasn't even happy. That was panicked.

Langly got up, laptop still in his hands, and carried it to Reid's desk. "You need to see this as I saw this. I didn't buy you a house. Byers owns this building." He paused, holding out the laptop so Reid could see, absolutely not mentioning that he'd asked Byers to do it and then forgotten he'd done it. "Which means I'm going to convince him to replace the glass in those goddamn windows, first. The panes aren't supposed to whistle when the wind blows."

"Why does Byers want this building? What are you two planning to do with it?" And now, Reid just looked confused. This wasn't Langly trying to buy him something nice and doing so in the typically objectionable and ridiculous manner he so often did, this was Byers trying to make an investment. And Reid wasn't sure what to make of that.

Langly shrugged. "Same thing we always do, I guess. Fix everything, lower the rent, move a few walls. Probably going to improve the integrity of my fake address by putting it here, instead of halfway cross town. Actually be able to take mail at it."

Reid opened his mouth to say something, but Langly suddenly poured himself into the recliner beside the desk, laptop on the floor, head between his knees.

"Hey, Villette? Call for pizza?" Langly's voice sounded weak and distant to his own ears. "I was fine, and then I got up."

"Yeah, that's when it gets you," Chaz agreed, already on his feet and dodging the coffee table on his way into the kitchen. "Spencer? Pizza. You know what delivers here, and you know what he eats. Three everythings, for me, and whatever you're having."

By the time Chaz crouched next to him, pressing a glass into his hand, Langly was staring dizzily at the edge of the rug between his feet, glasses hanging precariously from his face, trying to figure out the pattern in the threads, like it was the most important thing he'd ever been presented with.

"Drink this." Chaz's other hand caught Langly's shoulder as he tried to sit up. "Nope, not yet. Just tip your head up and drink as much of that as you can."

Langly got most of the glass down, before the angle got too awkward. "Tastes like sand. What the hell did I just drink?"

"Sugar water. It'll keep you from dropping dead, until we get a pizza in you." Chaz nudged Langly's shoulder. "Here, sit up slowly. Lean back and let the chair support you. And drink the rest of that. I'll grab you a few of his granola bars, as soon as your eyes stop looking like someone dropped a slot machine down a flight of stairs, because I know you hate what I carry."

Langly sprawled loosely in the chair, watching the city wireless flash across his eyes, as he tried to get the last of the water into his mouth instead of down the front of his shirt. He almost succeeded. "God damn it!"

"You're gonna be all right," Chaz promised, before he caught the way Langly's eyes flicked, catching on things only Langly could see. "You're still jamming, aren't you?"

"I'm in a really fucking awkward position, right now, and I can't get out. I can't do anything, because it's all fuzzy, and I'm smarter than that, but I also can't get back out, without fucking up and leaving trace." Langly pushed his glasses up. "You didn't think I actually stopped to check my email, did you?"

Chaz's eyes rounded almost comically, and he was on his feet in an instant, tripping over the coffee table twice, before he made it into the kitchen. "Langly, you are the second-best hacker I know, but you are a reckless fucking lunatic, and you'll starve if you don't stop that."

"No I won't." Langly chuckled vacantly, eyes still watching the pretty swirls in the ambient data. "I'll get it right. I just have to fuck it up a couple times, first."

"You just have to survive fucking it up." The sound of running water and slamming cupboard doors went on for a bit, before Chaz went on, edging back out of the kitchen, with his hands full. "And this is going to be horrible, in about an hour, so you probably do want to start backing out as soon as you've got the wits to do it."

"Migraine horrible?" Langly asked, taking the next glass of sugar water with both hands. This time, he'd get all of it in his mouth, he was sure.

"Migraine horrible, with a side of full-body cramps. You're not going to die, you're just going to wish you had." Chaz picked up Langly's laptop and put it in his lap.

"Look, if it doesn't involve throwing up in a body bag, in a moving vehicle, I'm probably fine."

Chaz shot Reid a long-suffering look, and Reid returned it.

"Just remember hypoglycaemia makes you extra stupid," Reid volunteered. "Pizza should be here in forty-five minutes. Think you can keep him alive that long?"

"I'm reworking the probabilities, now that I'm resisting the urge to kill him, myself."

"I'll take that as a yes," Reid decided, getting up to move himself to the closer arm of the chair. "Think you can avoid dying?" he asked Langly.

"Pssh. I'm not gonna die. Even Chaz says I'm not gonna die."

Chaz dropped a handful of granola bars onto the laptop, as he leaned over and grabbed Langly by both shoulders. "Listen to me, just because I survived it a few times, and much more seriously than this, doesn't mean you will. I was a lot younger, then, than you are now. This is how we die, people like us. We either go out with a bang, or we slowly starve. There is no point in accelerating that by starting the organ damage early. And on top of that? When I pull a long night? I'm pulling a long night of beta-level powers. It's gonna be five thousand calories, but that's all it's gonna be. Because there are things that are not for the long burn."

"Which is why you keep doing them in bed," Langly shot back.

"I know what it's going to cost! I'm really pretty good at that! That is--" Chaz laughed bitterly. "That's what I do. And 'in bed' is still only like... an hour or three. You've been going full-bore for like ten hours, Langly. You've been going long enough I forgot you didn't have it under control yet." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "And that's on me. I should've been watching you closer, but every time I looked up you were drinking Jolt. Which would've held you, if you were me. But, you're not, and it's going to take more to keep you going."

"More fucking sleep," Langly muttered, suddenly pointing behind him. "Loud neighbours who are the problem are that side, right? I'm telling Byers not to renew their lease. Won't be the first time, with them." He blinked dizzily, head rolling to the side and then back, before he shoved the glass back at Chaz. "Okay, that epic gas station cup I walked in with yesterday? It has a straw. Get me something rot-your-teeth sweet with two scoops of peanut butter powder in it, and hold it for me, so my hands are free and I can avoid dropping dead, while I grab what I need and get out, before I pass out."

"That's as close to serious as you're getting." Reid shrugged at Chaz.

"Trying not to pass out from hypoglycaemia... I'll take what I can get." Chaz returned the shrug and returned to the kitchen. "Look, if you own this building, if Byers owns this building, can you please get Spencer a bigger kitchen? Something it's actually possible to cook real food in without slamming my elbows every time I move?"

"I have lived here for more years than I care to think about, and that kitchen is a perfectly reasonable size," Reid protested, taking a granola bar out of Langly's hands and opening it for him, before putting it back.

"Your kitchen is not a reasonable size. I'm spoilt, and I know it, but that is still not a reasonable size. That is a kitchen for midgets. It's too small for Frohike, okay. That is a model kitchen clearly designed to be used by hamsters," Langly complained, squinting at the screen and trying to remember what exactly he'd been doing, if he compared that to the pings and passwords against the backs of his eyes.

"This is ridiculous. You are not renovating my apartment. I live here. I like it here." Reid folded his arms.

Chaz came back holding a massive cup with a lid and a straw. "The two of you can have this argument after he has the brains to have it, which is not right now."

"Bullshit!" Langly snapped, as Chaz crouched next to him, holding the cup steady. "I can--"

"No, Langly, you can't. One thing at a time. Finish what you're doing. Drink this. Then have an argument with your boyfriend about whether it's completely rude to buy the building out from under him."

"Out from under nobody," Langly huffed, licking the straw into his mouth, as he focused on the screen and started typing. "Nobody's getting thrown out except the assholes who play rave music at four in the morning, and they have to see it coming, because it's not the first and probably not the last time with them, and that's because I want to be able to sleep."

"He values his own ass. I just benefit from that," Reid drawled, catching Chaz's eye.

"Remind me how the two of you got together?" Chaz's eyebrow crept up.

"A series of bad decisions and once in a lifetime opportunities, combined with a serial killer and too much coffee." A small, private smile lifted one side of Reid's mouth, as he watched the reflections of the screen on Langly's glasses. "He's too much for me -- more than I know what to do with -- but I'm pretty sure that's me, not him." He met Chaz's eyes, again. "You know what I'm talking about. But, I love him. I could learn to live like this."

"But, you couldn't learn to live somewhere a little larger?" Langly's keystrokes got sharper.

"Consistency is important," Chaz argued. "I lived somewhere smaller than this. Bought the place you've seen. It still hurt to move."

Langly's fingers curled, tucking up from the keys, until he forced them straight and started typing again. "I know you're right."