Mr Saverin looks a lot like Eduardo. It’s probably Eduardo that looks a lot like his father but Mark knew Eduardo first. Mr Saverin is staring at him rather intently. He does not have the mournful eyes that still haunts Mark. Mr Saverin has a cold, flat stare like he is permanently unimpressed.
Mark is never one to back down from a challenge. He snags a drink and crosses over. “Mr Saverin,” he says politely. “Mark Zuckerberg.” He holds out his hand.
“Please, call me Ricardo,” Mr Saverin shakes his hand, smiling with his teeth showing. “I usually go by Eduardo but I didn’t want to cause undue confusion.”
Mark wonders if he is jealous that “Eduardo Saverin” will conjure up the image of his son rather than him. “Of course, Ricardo,” Mark says. “I have always been very interested in cultural differences. Portuguese naming traditions are so much more complicated than Americans.”
“Yes,” Mr Saverin says, clearly proud of his heritage. “Ricardo was my father. Great man.”
“I’m sure he was,” Mark says with a forced smile. He’s pretty sure Ricardo was the asshole grandfather who Eduardo hated. If he remembers correctly, which he will because he has perfect memory, Ricardo was the reason that Mr Saverin was never happy with Eduardo. Ricardo thought Eduardo’s father should have been harder on him. Mark can sum up Eduardo’s family with two words: fucked up.
“Did Eduardo ever mention that?” Mr Saverin says knowingly. “You are the boy who fucked my son and then fucked him over. He must have trusted you.” He says this in a conversational tone, not lowering his voice.
Mark is glad no one has noticed so far. If Mr Saverin wanted to be inappropriate, Mark has no problem with it. “Why yes, it’s a shame you only had one son.”
Mr Saverin’s smile freezes, then he laughs. “Shame indeed.”
Mark goes on, “It would also depend on how you define ‘fucked’ of course. I maintain that I didn’t fuck him so much as he screwed himself.” Mark raises a brow and takes a measured drink of his champagne.
Mr Saverin pats him on the back. “You’re good,” he says genuinely, sounding impressed.
It is then Eduardo comes over, a forced smile pasted on his face. “Mark, I see you’ve met my father.”
“He is a good man,” Mr Saverin says.
“You are too kind, Mr Saverin,” replies Mark, watching Eduardo.
“Please, call me Eduardo, oh, I mean Ricardo. Forgive an old man,” Mr Saverin says with a wink.
Mark nods. “A pleasure to meet you.”
Mark goes off to mingle. It’s hard to resist a direct appeal to his ego. Mr Saverin is charming. Now he knows where Eduardo got it from.
Mark is talking to some of Steve’s colleagues and sending his best wishes when he hears it.
“Maybe you should spread your legs for him, you slut.”
It’s not loud but Mark recognizes the language. His Portuguese is not brilliant but he’s always been great at storing dirty words. He is best with insults.
Mark glances over and sees Mr Saverin speaking to Eduardo. Eduardo’s expression tightens almost imperceptibly. No one would notice if they didn’t know Eduardo as well as Mark did. He knows that when Eduardo is upset, he is less animate. When Eduardo is nervous, he keeps a hand tucked into his pocket. Eduardo is both upset and nervous.
Across the room, Eduardo smiles and keeps talking. It doesn’t reach his eyes.
Mark trails them casually. Mr Saverin is saying a lot of nasty things, pretending he doesn’t understand English and needs Eduardo to translate. It’s cruel and humiliating and Eduardo bears it all with a professional smile. Mark is surprised no one else has picked up on it. He supposes Americans are generally monolingual. It’s a shame.
Mark slips in the circle just as he hears Mr Saverin say, ”You useless piece of shit.”
Eduardo is smooth, not even twitching. “Please excuse my father, he has trouble expressing himself in English sometimes.”
Mark schmoozes, raising his glass. “Mr Saverin, we meet again! What did he say, Eduardo? Your father is a very charming man.”
Eduardo’s grip on his glass tightens. “He said he was very proud of me,” Eduardo says.
“As he should be,” Mark says completely sincerely. “He recognizes brilliance when he sees it.”
“You are a failure. I am ashamed of you. Useless son of a bitch.”
Eduardo aims a quick glance at Mark, eyes hardening and makes to continue like his father isn’t insulting him in front of everyone else.
Mark decides he has to make himself clearer. “Excuse me.” He clears his throat and says in a polite tone, “You’re not only a fucking asshole but you’re a shitty father. I know what you’re doing and what you did to him, you bastard. It’s a shame he has you for a father.”
The people are standing around confused, curious. Mark translates himself Eduardo-style. “I was merely telling Mr Saverin how much I admire him for attending today, despite his difficulty with English.”
Mr Saverin is spluttering. “T-thank you, Mark.”
Mark continues with his best grin. “I might have fucked him over once but you did it over and over. You should be proud to have him as a son. He deserves better.”
Mr Saverin says, “Your Portuguese is excellent, Mr Zuckerberg.”
“I try my best. Might I get you a drink? Both of you?” Mark enunciates his English in an exaggerated fashion.
“No thank you,” Mr Saverin says tightly. “Excuse me. Come, Eduardo.”
“I will join you later, father,” Eduardo says firmly, catching Mark’s eye.
Mark gets an appletini and waits in a quiet corner. He’s halfway done using celery sticks and crackers to spell out “FUCK” on the abandoned food platter when Eduardo comes.
“F…U…” Eduardo reads aloud.
Mark laughs when he sees Eduardo blushing. “I guess that works.” He grabs a cracker and munches. Crumbs go everywhere. He brushes them off but manages to smear his jacket with avocado dip. “Oops,” he says.
Eduardo hands him a napkin. “Why are you here?”
“It’s a good start up.” Mark rolls his eyes at Eduardo’s surprised look. “I don’t let what happened blind me to the fact that you are brilliant at what you do. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have picked you.” Mark admits, “Even if you were my best friend.”
Eduardo can admire Mark’s honesty. Mark is different now, older, wiser somehow. He’s in an ill-fitting suit and blue dress shirt but he’s made the effort even if he’s not wearing a tie. It’s like he realized that he doesn’t need to flaunt social convention blatantly to catch people attention. Mark does it enough on his own. “Why did you do that?”
“Why not?” Mark isn’t playing mind games, he is merely stating what he thinks. He doesn’t see why he shouldn’t stop Eduardo’s father from abusing him in front of everyone else if he has the power to. “You weren’t going to say it.” He cuts the crap and says bluntly, “Are you scared of him? He can’t touch you now.” Mark wouldn’t let him. He will be keeping an eye on Eduardo, like always. He’s never stopped caring for Eduardo. It’s why he’s here now.
“No,” Eduardo says, to both. He isn’t anymore. He’s not that boy. What he learned from the whole unpleasantness with Mark is that he shouldn’t let anyone walk all over him. Except for his father apparently. His father has always been an exception. Like Mark. Mark has always done what no one else has done, what he couldn’t do. “But why would you do that for me?”
“Someone should stand up for you,” Mark says simply. “I didn’t before.”
Eduardo sees it for the apology it is. Still, Mark hurt him. A lot. This is his first real venture back into the spotlight. He needs time. He wants to say, “I haven’t forgiven you and I’m still mad at you,” but what comes out is, “This doesn’t make us friends.”
Mark shrugs. He turns to go.
“But it’s a start,” Eduardo says quickly. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Mark says easily, extending his hand. He’s forgotten how warm and bright Eduardo’s real smile is.