It's been five years since the lawsuit. They have spoken since then, though it's mostly along the lines of, "Mark" / "Eduardo". Always careful to remember that Eduardo has three syllables and Mark has lost the right to drop the first. They've always been surrounded by enough people that politeness was necessary but actual conversation was not.
That had worked perfectly well until today. Mark literally runs into Eduardo when they both rush to catch the same elevator. "Fuck! Sorry, sorry. Hey." Now he's going to spend the next forty to sixty seconds apologising over the top of elevator music. That's just great.
Eduardo looks at him. "Mark."
"Hey," Mark says again. "You're... here. Why are you here?"
"Free country?" Eduardo says. He makes a face like he didn't mean to say that.
Mark says, "Of course, yes, I know, I just mean..."
"Business," Eduardo says. "Flying out to meet my father. You?"
"Same. Well, not your father. Or my father. But business, yes."
Eduardo looks at him sidelong. "Okay?"
"Was that a- was that a question, or an answer?" Mark can't read the intonation and he doesn't know.
Eduardo says, "It was 'okay', Mark. It didn't mean anything."
Mark is debating the relative worth of making another attempt at conversation versus just shutting up and waiting for them to get to the ground floor, when there is a rending screech and the elevator jerks to a stop. Mark loses his footing and feels himself being dragged up.
"What?" Mark asks. Eduardo is holding onto his elbow and Mark is pretty sure he just asked a question.
"Are you okay?" Eduardo says. Again, possibly, if the twist in his mouth is any indication.
"Yes." Eduardo drops Mark's arm, so clearly that was the wrong answer. Mark straightens up. "Okay. So. Is there a-?"
Eduardo is already pushing the alarm button. "Hi, is anyone there?"
"In a minute," the voice says.
They dutifully wait two minutes in silence before Mark pushes Eduardo out of the way and presses the button again. "Hi. The elevator's stopped."
"I can see that."
"If you can see that, why aren't you doing anything about it?" Mark tries to sound calm.
"If you'll just be patient, buddy, we'll get it sorted out."
"Do you know when you might get to that?"
"Hey, it's four in the afternoon on a Friday, we're gonna be lucky if we can get a tech out before dark."
Eduardo sinks to the floor, leaning his head against the mirrored wall of the elevator. "Fuck."
Mark looks at him for a moment, and presses the button again. "That seems like a really long time. This is an expensive building – you don't have technicians on staff? Or at least a contract for emergency cover?"
"It's not really an emergency," the kid says. "We'll get you out as soon as we can."
Eduardo has now wrapped his arms around his legs. Mark takes a moment to re-notice how Eduardo sometimes looks to be all limbs, and then leans down. "Were you claustrophobic before?"
"Before what? And no, Mark. I'm not claustrophobic now."
"You kind of look claustrophobic."
"I'm not exactly thrilled at the possibility of spending two to four hours trapped in an elevator with you. That doesn't mean I'm claustrophobic."
Mark supposes this is true. Nevertheless, Eduardo looks freaked out. Mark pushes the button again. "How much money would it take to make this go faster?"
Eduardo chokes. Mark stares at him.
The voice says, "Excuse me?"
"One thousand?" Mark checks. "Ten? One hundred thousand? Give me a ballpark figure."
"Look, buddy, I don't know who you think you are, but you're just going to have to suck it up. I don't care if your boyfriend is having a breakdown over there, I'm not calling this in as an emergency just cause you're wearing Armani."
Mark has no real idea if he's wearing Armani or not. It's a suit jacket, because this was that kind of day, but other than that all he can say is that it's dark grey. More importantly, Eduardo is now resting his head on his knees and his eyes are closed. For a tall guy, he's making himself pretty small.
Mark pushes the button again. "You might want to rethink your attitude."
"Yeah? You don't look much like you're about to climb up the elevator shaft and make me." Well this has degenerated fast.
Mark looks up at the ceiling panel. No, that would be a bad plan on a number of levels. He says, "Why don't you tell me your name?"
"You gonna report me to my supervisor? Jeffrey Gould. He won't care."
"Okay, Jeffrey. And how old are you?" Mark asks.
"Twenty-two, what the hell does that-?"
"March fifth, look, what is it you-?"
Mark sighs. "Do you have any idea how dumb that was? I thought they were teaching this stuff in middle school now? I bet you'd tell me your mother's maiden name if I asked."
Eduardo says, "Mark-."
"Wait. I need to make a call." Mark dials the office.
He is greeted with, "You promised you weren't going to call to check up on this place. You've been gone less than a day!"
Marsha is Mark's current assistant. He's sort of terrified of her. He suspects that her hiring was probably Sean's idea of a joke, and then it spiralled. Marsha is a solid foot taller than Mark and she's not afraid of him at all. She's also extremely good at her job, and also at making Mark look like he can talk to people. This is not officially part of her job description, but unofficially is his favourite thing about her. His least favourite is that she thinks he's a workaholic and it's her duty to save him from himself. Mark says, "I have a good reason, I promise. Put me through the PA system."
She says, "This is not helping your case. You don't need to terrify the minions from ten states away."
"We'll talk about this later."
Then there's the echoing sound of his voice through the office comms. "Good morning, Facebook," Mark says. "Put down what you're doing, this is your CEO."
"Bitch," Eduardo adds quietly, and Mark grins.
Mark risks a glance at Eduardo, who has relaxed his death grip on his own knees. Mark pushes the talk button on the elevator again and keeps speaking into his phone. He says, "I have a Jeffrey Gould here. Employer is presumably the Nine Spires Building. Accent Southern California, born March fifth nineteen eighty eight. Look him up for me."
The kid's voice comes through the radio. "What the hell are you doing?"
Mark ignores him to listen to the office. "Found him? Good. Well, the first thing we're going to want to do is turn all his settings public. Is there a girlfriend or boyfriend? Good." He looks at Eduardo. "Facebook breakups are a thing now. Did you know that?" He goes back to the phone. "What else? I pay your salary, guys, if I have to call Dustin at this time of day and ask him to hack my own system, that doesn't look good."
"Wait, wait, wait," Jeffrey protests. "You can't just-."
"Correction: I probably shouldn't. But it's my site, who's going to stop me?"
"You're-?" Mark doesn't know if the kid intends to end that sentence with Mark's name, or some synonym for insane. It could go either way.
Mark says, "Or you could hurry up and get us out of here. Before one of my people figures out what sort of trouble they could cause with your private photo albums. Or we could change your political affiliation?" He looks at Eduardo. "Hard to tell what effect that'll have without knowing the person." He talks into the phone again. "Any clues? Wall posts, interests, likes? Give me something."
Jeffrey says, "Hang on, wait, look. I'll have someone here in a half hour, I promise. Okay? Leave that- just stay there. Okay?"
"Okay," Mark agrees, and unpresses the button. He lifts the phone back to his ear. "Hold off on that for thirty minutes. Back to work. I'll call again if things don't improve."
Marsha says, "Are you going to explain?"
"Eduardo and I are stuck in an elevator. I don't think he likes it."
She says, "Eduardo and you? Oh."
"Yeah. Look, I'll be back in the office tomorrow morning. Try not to let them destroy everything while I'm gone."
"I'll do my best," she replies. Mark thinks there's a tone there. Yes. Definitely a tone.
He sits down beside Eduardo, and puts his phone away. Eduardo is staring.
"Were you always this evil or is it a new development?" Eduardo taps his fingers on his knees. "Because I would have thought I'd notice, but then I missed a lot back then, so I guess your becoming a super-villain might have passed me by."
"I don't think I'm a super-villain."
"That was exaggeration for effect, Mark, but the point stands."
"You really looked freaked-out."
"Yes. By you. Believe it or not, that little demonstration didn't help."
"Oh." Mark considers this. After a moment, he shuffles an inch closer, and covers Eduardo's hand with his own, on top of Eduardo's bony knees. "Close your eyes."
"We can just sit here, and not talk, and you can pretend to be somewhere else."
"And the hand-thing?" Eduardo has closed his eyes, and his hand is warm under Mark's.
"I was aiming for comforting," Mark says.
"You missed," Eduardo replies, though he doesn't seem to be moving away. He does add, "You're not worried he's recording this? These things all have cameras."
"He'll post it online you know," Eduardo says.
"Mark, the internet-."
"Is written in ink, I know. Is there something about my exes and that line?"
Eduardo tenses up. "Mark."
"That's a pretty weird- never mind." He shakes his head like he's trying to clear away cobwebs. His eyes are still closed. It's quiet now, and Mark is extraordinarily tired, and it would be easy to lean his head on Eduardo's shoulder and maybe sleep for a little while. They breathe in and out.
Sooner rather than later, the elevator jerks back into motion. It takes them a moment or two to react, and they're only a few floors from the ground when Eduardo remembers to stand up. He offers his hand to Mark, who pulls himself up. They collide, clumsily, like how this thing started. The doors open.
Eduardo practically runs out of the building, leaving Mark to deal with the fallout.
It's four hours later before Mark sticks his hand into his pocket and finds the card. It's a plain white business card, just Eduardo Saverin and a cell phone number.
On the back Eduardo has written, I know you could find this number anyway if you put your mind to it. When did he have the time to write that?
Mark programs the number into his phone, but somehow the card ends up in the pocket of his hoodie anyway. His fingers keep finding it during meetings, or breaks in coding, while he's sitting alone in the house. He's pretty sure there's a message here he's missing.
* * * *
This is Mark
The number I mean. This is mine.
* * * *
Elevator guy didn't sue you, then?
Not yet. Probably non-disclosure agreement. Someone may have had to pay him off.
No. Should I?
* * * *
Is it snowing there? The forecast said snow in New York.
Did I do something?
Sorry, was out. No. Don't freak out. Go to sleep.
How do you know I was awake?
Other than the fact you replied to a 1am text within thirty seconds? I know you. Go to sleep, Mark.
Good night. Sleep well.
* * * *
I don't want to push this. But why are you talking to me again?
To keep you on your toes. Ready for my ultimate revenge.
No, not really, you lunatic.
Because you offered to pay a guy $100k because you thought I was claustrophobic. Clearly you need help. And I'm nice that way.
Think am becining lightwait.
You were always a lightweight.
Truth. Sleep it off. Talk tomorrow. Love you. Ex
* * * *
The thing about electronic communication – one of the many things about electronic communication – is that it's permanent. Even if you wake up with a splitting headache and no idea what happened the night before, the computers remember.
Mark's phone is kind enough to know just what he's looking for. It displays Eduardo's message without judgement or commentary. It keeps displaying it all day, no matter how often Mark checks.
Mark stays in the office until the late evening. Eventually he sends: Was all of this just you screwing with me?
The phone rings in his hand and Mark nearly drops it. "Hello?"
Eduardo says, "Hi, Mark."
"Did you get my- what?"
"You're in the office, aren't you?" Eduardo's voice sounds weird.
"Big glass fuck-you office, all windows and no walls."
"What would you do if I kissed you?"
"I think you'd let me. I didn't think that before."
"Of course I-."
"And I don't know why that is. I have literally no idea. I don't know if you're trying to say sorry without ever actually saying the words, or if you're just lonely, or maybe this is just your way of being not quite done with 'screwing with me.' Your words."
"Not about you. Or, well-."
"I know what you mean, Mark."
"So I'm wondering if there was any other reason. If maybe I came and visited you in your fuck-you huge glass office and pushed you up against one of those walls you might consider getting down on your knees and blowing me."
Mark is pretty sure he can't breathe.
Eduardo keeps talking like he's not talking about defiling Mark in Facebook headquarters. "Right there in the office in front of your minions and God and everyone."
"Are you drunk?" Mark asks. "Or mad at me?"
"Neither of those things. You haven't answered me yet. You see, I am perfectly willing to believe someone else has propositioned you in there, but I bet you've never said yes before."
"I'm not saying yes now," Mark points out. "Is this- is this phone sex? Is that what we're doing?"
"You never thought about it? During the case, you never wanted to push me down over the table and make me shut up? You never got mad?"
"Of course I got mad, I just never- fuck, Wardo."
"There we go."
"What do you…?"
"I used to fantasise about getting you to stay still. Focus on me, just me for once. We'd be at a party and you were thinking about numbers of hits. Or we'd be in my room with the site and you'd be somewhere else in your head. Phone stuck between your ear and your shoulder and pacing from side to side like you're hearing music the rest of us can't."
Eduardo's laughing. "You're doing it right now."
"I know I'm doing it now, how do you-?"
Eduardo waves at him through the glass of the office window. "Hey, Mark."
Mark hangs up the phone and opens the door of his office. "How did you get in here?"
"Well, A, I still have a few shares and people know me. B, your assistant isn't at all scared of you."
"She's really not," Mark agrees.
"And I'm encouraged that you've managed to find one woman in your life who neither hates you nor is intimidated by you. Maybe change is possible. But mostly I'm encouraged that she let me through the door. I feel like we have a bond."
Mark is still staring.
Eduardo frowns. "I'm not really here expecting you to blow me in your office. Stop freaking out."
"I actually think I'm entitled to freak out regardless of the- I thought I was the evil one?"
The offices outside are pretty much empty. Mark checks one more time, and pushes Eduardo against the door. There's a second where he worries that the catch won't hold, he's a klutz, he messes these moments up. Then he takes a breath and leans in. Eduardo kisses back.
For a breath or two anyway. "Mark, wait-."
"You didn't mean it?" He watches Eduardo's face.
Eduardo sighs. "You really can be an idiot, sometimes, Mark. I mean, seriously, straight from God knows how long before FaceMash, through two separate lawsuits and counting, right up to this point. I meant every word. Now why did you kiss me?"
"Because I wanted to? And because you talked me into a truly impressive hard-on for what appears to be no particular reason other than you could. Or maybe because you're apparently in love with me and decided that wasn't important information."
Eduardo's fingers catch on the edge of Mark's sleeve. "Believe it or not, I sort of thought you knew."
"I really didn't."
"I'm getting that."
"And that's why you're talking to me?" Mark asks.
"I'm talking to you because…" Eduardo pulls Mark a little closer to him, against the door. "Because it's been five years and I still miss you. And because we both screwed up and because I forgot we're good at different things. You can make something like Facebook and see what it's supposed to be. I couldn't do that. But I'm pretty good at relationships and Mark you're really really not." He's laughing now, a little. Smiling too.
Mark says, "I never claimed to be."
Eduardo wraps his hands around Mark's elbows and leans their foreheads together. "And that's what I came to tell you. Your turn."
* * * *
Mark walks beside Eduardo through the offices. There are people all over and he's not completely sure why it feels like he needs to show off. Eduardo knows where this all started. He's not really all that impressed by the other parts.
Eduardo grabs his hand, squeezes it quickly, and drops it again. Mark doubts anyone else even noticed. They're not really looking yet. Most of them probably don't get the magnitude of what's happening. Mark says, "You could always come back."
"Not, you know, um, full-time or whatever. Just, uh, um-"
"Take a breath."
He exhales slowly. "I missed you. Too. I missed you too." He didn't plan on saying that out loud.
Eduardo presses his lips together. "Yeah. But you know I can't ever- it would be a really bad idea."
"Well, for one, I already have a job. But mostly because it really fucked us both up last time."
"Yes, but now we both know…"
"Okay. Okay." He spots Marsha across the floor; she nods and smiles at him.
Eduardo asks, "How long has she been working for you?"
"Oh. A year? Yeah. Simon's been here six months so she must be- oh. Simon's her fiancé. One of my lawyers. Well. The company's lawyers. Not mine." The sentence rings wrong in his head and he trips over his feet.
Eduardo catches his arm. "I've got you. So, how many lawyers do you employ now?"
Mark laughs. "God, so many. Possibly more lawyers than programmers. I mean, obviously that's not true but it does sometimes feel like-."
Eduardo cuts him off. "I got it. Listen, you know why I said no, right?"
"You think coming over here would fuck up whatever we have, or had, beyond repair. I understand that."
"Apparently not. Look. I want to see what else we can have. No Facebook, no money, no business. Just the other stuff."
Mark is not sure how much there is left, when you cut out Facebook and business. (Money he's not so concerned about, except as a way of keeping score.) But Eduardo seems pretty convinced. Mark says, "Come home with me."
"Come home with me. Spend the weekend here; you can go back to New York on Monday. We'll see what happens."
* * * *
Spotted: ESaverin and MZuckerberg getting hot and heavy in the boss's office. Confirm/Deny.
Mark deletes the message. He's going to kill Dustin. And Chris. And whoever thought telling Dustin and/or Chris was a good idea.
Eduardo tilts his head back against the back of the couch. "I don't think kissing counts as hot and heavy."
"So you want to deny?"
"I'm saying semantically I don't want Dustin thinking I'm having my wicked way with you over your desk."
"In my big fuck-you of a glass office, yes, Eduardo, I don't know where anyone would get that idea."
"I think I liked you better when you were protecting me from twenty-something lift operatives."
"Well, no." Eduardo says. He bends around in what must be an uncomfortable angle to kiss Mark, sitting beside him on the couch.
Mark says, "Your neck is ridiculous."
Eduardo, thankfully, decides this is hilarious rather than offensive. When he giggles it pulls the cords of his throat tight. Mark pushes Eduardo against the back of the couch and bites down on the pale place where his neck disappears under his shirt. Eduardo gasps. "Mark, fuck, what?"
"Ridiculous," Mark reiterates, grazing his teeth over Eduardo's throat. "Also your eyes."
"What the hell is wrong with my…?" Eduardo trails off. His fingers skim the edges of Mark's t-shirt. "Your pillow talk needs work."
"So far I seem to be doing fine."
"By what standard?"
Mark shrugs. "You're here." He works at the second button on Eduardo's shirt and tries not to react to the eyes boring holes in the top of his head. Eduardo's very good at staring.
Eduardo's hands settle on Mark's shoulders. "Are you okay?"
"Are you okay? Mark."
Mark gets Eduardo's fly open and his hand inside. He rubs the head of Eduardo's cock and watches Eduardo jolt. He slides off the couch and between Eduardo's knees. "Stay still."
"Seriously, please try not to choke me. It's been a really long time since I did this." Mark supposes that probably counts as bad pillow talk too. He mentally shrugs, and lowers his head, licking a stripe up Eduardo's dick before wrapping his lips around it.
Eduardo tugs on Mark's hair, jerkily, like he's trying to stop himself pulling too hard. He's definitely trying not to thrust into Mark's mouth, holding tight to Mark's shoulders and pressing his fingers in.
It's easier, not trying to talk. Eduardo says all kinds of things: "Fuck. Mark. Mark. God. You're so- I love you, you're so- Mark."
Mark just closes his eyes and swallows. He leans his cheek on Eduardo's thigh and Eduardo rubs the line of Mark's jaw like he said something important.
* * * *
They've been arguing all week, mostly via email. They have now also hit the three-month point, which is what Mark unofficially considers his relationship limit. He's starting to look for the signs.
It wouldn't be so bad if they were on the same coast. When they're together, they don't fight so much. Or they do, but it usually leads to sex. ("You know, if we had been like this at school, I'm not sure I would ever have got around to Facebook." "I don't know if that's supposed to be a compliment or an insult." "Neither do I.") But a weeklong fight about fucking privacy controls seems exactly like the sort of thing Eduardo had been talking about. The sort of thing that makes them not work.
It's close to midnight by the time Eduardo gets in this time, and Mark has already taken his laptop to bed to wait. Eduardo smells of recycled air and cheap red wine. Mark asks, "Did you fly coach?"
"You can afford to-."
"Not if I'm doing it every weekend. What happened to you coming to see me sometimes?"
Mark says, "I work weekends. And you can afford to fly first class to California every day from now to eternity if you wanted. Aren't you in like seventeen different industries now?"
Eduardo sighs. "I'm too tired to fight now. Let's leave this until tomorrow morning, okay?"
Mark shrugs. "Sure. Does that usually help?"
"With you? Sometimes I need a run-up." With that, he disappears into the bathroom and Mark hears running water. He opens the laptop again. Eduardo climbs into the bed beside him.
Mark sits on the edge of the bed, planting his feet back on the floor. He's not ready to sleep yet, so he leans over the keyboard and starts to scroll through code. Eduardo turns onto his side. He kisses the exposed bumps of Mark's spine, stopping when he reaches the edge of Mark's t-shirt. Mark says, "You're too tired to fight but not to have sex?"
"No, I'm entirely too tired for sex. I didn't realise that meant I wasn't allowed to kiss you." He sighs, running his fingers over that small patch of Mark's exposed skin he seems so fascinated by. The room goes quiet for a minute or two. Eduardo says, "I have a couple of meetings over here."
"You're here for two days and you have to work?"
"You're working. And I arranged them for Monday and Tuesday. Is it okay if I stay a little longer this week?"
Mark keeps typing. "Of course."
"Okay." It goes quiet again, and Mark realises that Eduardo has fallen asleep. He's still curved towards Mark, fingers brushing skin. Mark watches him breathe for a moment. He tries not to do that too much when Eduardo is awake. He has been told before that it freaks people out. Mark touches the messy ends of Eduardo's hair, still stiff with whatever product he thinks he needs to be a grown-up. Mark doesn't usually get to look down on Eduardo's face, what with the height disparity. There are lines on his forehead that Mark suspects he may have put there. Mark will make it up to him in the morning.
Mark starts to write code. The program is easy, it's the self-destruct that takes a little longer. It's going to need to destroy itself as soon as the mouse is moved a second time, and it needs to leave no trace. Mark isn't an idiot – he knows better than to record this information anywhere that might leave a permanent mark.
He leaves the computer open on the bedside table, and lies down beside Eduardo on the bed. Mark sleeps.
Eduardo wakes him up in the morning, laughing softly. The computer screen still shows the text:
I suppose I ought to say I love you too. I do. I'll see you in the morning. Coffee's where it always is.
Mark reaches out, half-asleep, and moves the mouse. The message disappears.
Eduardo kisses him. "You are by far the weirdest person I've ever slept with."
"Go back to sleep. I'll wake you up when it's time for breakfast."
"Mm." Mark pulls the blankets up to his neck and closes his eyes. He can hear Eduardo singing in the kitchen. In about thirty-five minutes he's going to feel compelled to get up and check in with the office. For now, Eduardo is singing in the kitchen and talking to Mark's coffee-machine. Mark should investigate Eduardo's propensity for trying to communicate with inanimate objects. But then Eduardo would probably have something to say about Marks's own habits in that regard. It's not really a fight worth having.
Eduardo walks back in. "Are you awake yet?"
Eduardo gets back into bed, carrying a mug of coffee with him. He presses his nose into Mark's hair, kisses him again, and says, "Seriously. So weird." Mark thinks he can probably live with that.