Chapter 1: Descoberta
Eduardo takes Mark home over spring break. God, that sounds so weird, like he’s a prospective daughter-in-law getting judged by his parents, but it goes more like this-
Wardo’s laying on Mark’s bed on his stomach, his feet dangling off the edge, flipping through a calculus textbook.
Mark opens the door.
“Hey,” Eduardo says without looking up.
“Hey, Funky Bunch,” Dustin calls out from the next room and Eduardo laughs.
“I don’t even understand it,” Mark says, plugging in his laptop. Dustin’s been trying to come up with a good nickname for him. So far he’s gone through Markito (during Dustin’s brief obsession with a Dominican first-year and subsequent attempt to learn Spanish off of Google Translate), MotherZucker (Eduardo shoots down this one on account of its tackiness, and Dustin eventually acquiesces), and, inexplicably, Mz. Thing. That one combined the letters M and Z, a reference to being a girl, and the aftereffects of Hip-Hop night at AEPi. It lasted an hour before Eduardo threatened to stab him in his sleep.
“Like, Marky Mark. And the Funky Bunch. It’s a band? Or, whatever, group?”
“Wow,” Eduardo says, laughing. “You’d get crucified in Brazil. They’re weirdly popular there.”
Mark says nothing and Eduardo goes back to the book.
Ten minutes later, in an overly casual voice, Eduardo goes, “Speaking of Brazil-”
“Yes. My parents were wondering if you wanted to come over break. To Brazil.”
Mark looks up. Eduardo’s staring down at his book.
“Yeah, I guess they really feel the need to meet the famous Mark Zuckerberg. Coder extraordinaire. God knows why. It’s not like my father knows what perl even is.”
“Do you even know what it is?,” Mark counters, and Eduardo flips him off.
"We'd stay in the family house. It could be cool. Maybe."
“Aww, it’s time to meet the parents, FB,” Dustin interrupts, laughing, obviously trying to eavesdrop from his room.
“Funky Bunch. Duh.”
“You don’t have to,” Eduardo says quickly.
“I want to.”
Eduardo smiles at him for a second until Dustin calls out, “You guys better not be making out in there.”
“Fuck off, Dustin.”
Two weeks later, he’s stepping out of a tiny plane onto an impossibly hot tarmac, wind blowing dusty and warm around them. Eduardo’s in front of him, sunglasses already on, and Mark’s already sweating in his Gap sweatshirt.
“Come on,” Eduardo yells over the wind and the airplane engine, turning to him and grinning.
He takes them through customs, gesturing to Mark as he speaks in Portuguese, and Mark smiles awkwardly at the burly man behind the counter.
“We can pick up our luggage in here,” Eduardo says finally, and puts a hand on Mark’s back to push him in front. Eduardo already seems different, more relaxed, even somehow more tan than he was in Boston.
“Ay! ‘duardo!” he hears, and Eduardo laughs beside him and walks quickly toward a girl standing beside the luggage thing. She’s tall like Eduardo, with shorts and sunglasses and straight black hair. They hug, and Mark stands awkwardly beside them. He’s doing pretty much everything awkwardly.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Eduardo says, breaking off his unintelligible conversation. “Mark, this is my cousin Yara.” Mark nods, sticking out a hand, and the girl hugs him. Okay, then.
Eduardo says something to her in Portuguese, and she nods. “Mark?” she says, in a thick accent, and Mark nods again.
She takes a deep breath, laughs at herself, and says, “Welcome to Brazil!” They both collapse from laughter, and she snakes an arm around Eduardo’s waist, and they chatter at each other. Mark’s face feels frozen in a half-smile.
Finally, Eduardo turns to him. “Let’s go grab our luggage. Yara-” and he goes on in Portuguese and she nods.
“Sorry,” Eduardo says as she walks away, not sounding sorry at all, still grinning.
“Are your parents coming?” Mark asks, and watches his face fall.
“We’re, uh, we're going to meet them. Yara’ll drive us to the house.”
“The house” turns out to be a mansion, huge, with a gate and a doorman and grounds and everything. Yara drives like a crazy person, and she squeals to a stop in front of two ornate, massive wooden doors. They kiss and chatter and Mark swears he hears his name at least twice, and then she peels off.
He sneaks a glance at Eduardo; he looks nervous.
A maid serves dinner and Mark tries not to stare.
“So, Mark, you have started the Facebook, yes?” Mr. Saverin asks, sawing a bite of his steak.
“Uh, yeah, the, well- War- Eduardo and I, we started it.”
Eduardo has a bite on his fork but he’s not eating it.
“And Eduardo has been good for the company? He’s made some ... interesting choices as president of the Investor’s Association. He is helping you?”
Eduardo is decidedly not looking at him.
“Yes, sir, um, Eduardo’s been a - a great asset to the company,” Mark stammers.
Mr. Saverin nods coolly. “We will see. He’s still a bit hotheaded and risky in his decisions- the investment you made last summer, in your cousin’s business?”
“Yara had a well-structured plan,” Eduardo says, voice steady. “The climate wasn’t correct for that genre of company at the time, but there was no way we could have-”
“Of course there was, Eduardo. It’s your job to know.” His father shakes his head. “It was foolish. It was the act of a child, not a businessman.”
“Then Eduardo made a pretty large amount of money on oil, though, right? So that wasn’t so foolish,” Mark says casually, and he looks up. Eduardo’s staring at him.
“I suppose,” Mr. Saverin says tightly, and the maid brings in dessert.
“You’re insane,” Eduardo says later, in his room. Mark’s staying next door.
Eduardo laughs. “Nothing. I don’t know. Nothing.”
They’re lying side by side on the king-sized bed. Mark hasn’t gone this long without checking his laptop in three years, and it feels good even as his fingers itch to type. He sighs audibly and Eduardo looks at him.
Descoberta - Discovery
Chapter 2: Contato
That first night in Brazil, they go out. The club is hot and crowded and smells like sweet smoke. Mark’s wearing one of Eduardo’s shirts and it’s just a touch too tight in the shoulders and it smells like his cologne. It’s weird, and he can’t understand what anyone is saying, so mostly he drinks.
An hour later, he’s really quite spectacularly drunk. Eduardo’s dancing with his cousin’s friends, and he sits down at the table, sweaty, breathing hard, and grabs Mark’s drink and drains it.
“That’s - mine,” Mark says, unconvinced, and flops a hand at Eduardo. Eduardo laughs.
“Mark Zuckerberg, you’re drunk.”
“M’not. Well am. But when you’re drunk the Portuguese is easier to understand,” Mark says determinedly, and Eduardo laughs again.
“C’mon, we’re going to a bar.”
“A bar? We’re at a bar. Bars have drinks. I want a drink, because you finished mine which wasn’t fair.”
“Christ, you’re smashed.” Mark lets Eduardo drag him, and Yara and her friends might be laughing at him but he doesn’t notice or care.
The bar is less crowded, and the others smoke hookah as Mark curls up in the corner of the booth. Eduardo’s cheeks hollow when he sucks in smoke, and he grins as he coughs it out and everyone laughs at him. He offers it to Mark, who shakes his head, and Yara says something in Portuguese, giggling.
Eduardo shakes his head at her, and she repeats it.
Eduardo grins again, teeth flashing white in the dim bar, and he sucks on the hookah and leans closer to Mark. What the fuck is he doing, but Mark’s suddenly paralyzed and drunk, so so drunk, and when Eduardo puts his fingers under Mark’s chin and tips his mouth up, he lets him. Eduardo puts his lips on his and blows, and the smoke goes hot and thick into his mouth. It tastes like peaches, and Mark closes his eyes until it goes down his throat and he coughs. Eduardo pulls back and Mark stares at him, wide-eyed. Yara laughs hysterically, and pats Mark on the shoulder, and Mark coughs again.
The rest of the night passes in a blur- Eduardo’s lips wrapped around the hookah, his fingers clutching his glass, his hands on Maria’s hips, grinding against him, and Mark sits and watches. Finally one of Yara’s friends, Alejandra he’s pretty sure, slides up next to him in the booth and puts a hand on his thigh.
He stares down at it, drunkenly confused, and she giggles.
“Ya, you dance?”
He shakes his head.
“Dance!” she insists, and drags him onto the dance floor.
Mark’s swaying unsteadily, and she laughs at him like Eduardo does when he’s being an idiot, and starts rubbing her ass against his crotch. Takes his hands and puts them on her curvy hips and his head falls forward into her soft hair. She smells like- familiar. Something familiar.
He looks up and Eduardo is watching him over Maria’s head, eyes dark. He holds eye contact and swallows and Eduardo’s mouth opens when Maria presses herself flush against him but he doesn’t look away.
Mark gets hard.
He pulls away from Alejandra and pushes through crowds of people to get to the bathroom. He’s flushed and drunk and hard and doesn’t understand a word anyone is saying, and before he can even get anywhere Eduardo’s behind him, taking him by the arm, and it’s so loud he can barely breathe, but Eduardo’s slung one hand over Mark’s shoulder and is looking down at him, still swaying to the music. Mark swallows weakly, breathes in the scent of Eduardo, of Brazil, and Eduardo tips his chin up and kisses him. In public. Music is throbbing around them, the sticky heat of bodies, and in the middle of it all Eduardo’s mouth is soft and wet.
Distantly, he feels Eduardo put a hand on his hip, and stroke a thumb over his hipbone, under the shirt, and he closes his eyes.
“C’mon,” Eduardo murmurs, and walks him into a tiny room with a mop and bucket. Then they’re in the complete darkness and Eduardo’s kissing him again, both hands splayed on his lower back. Mark gasps when Eduardo bites his lip and licks it, opens his mouth with his tongue.
“Ay, wait- querido-” Eduardo says against his mouth in this thick turned-on voice Mark’s never even heard before, and fumbles for the zip of his shorts. He kneels.
Eduardo pulls him out gently and puts his lips around him, sucks messily on the tip of Mark’s cock, and Mark’s head hits the wall.
Eduardo hums around him and Mark stuffs a fist in his mouth to keep from shouting. It’s hot and wet and unrelenting, and Mark’s numb from alcohol and buzzing and his hips keep jumping, trying to get deeper in Eduardo’s mouth.
“I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come, I’m gonna-” and he breaks off and moans, pounds the wall behind him and comes down Wardo’s throat.
He can feel the vibrations as Eduardo swallows frantically.
Eduardo leans his head against Mark’s stomach for a second. Breathes against him, kisses his hipbone.
Mark doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do.
Eduardo’s standing up when the door opens.
“Ei, o que você está fazendo aqui?” yells a waiter. Behind Eduardo, Mark tucks himself in hurriedly, fingers shaking, squinting against the light.
“Nada, nada, homem, ele estava se sentindo doente,” Eduardo says, hands out, placating, and he grabs Mark and drags him out of there.
Yara’s friends laugh at them like they know what happened, and Mark just chews his lip awkwardly and lets Eduardo wrap an arm around his shoulder, grinning sheepish and open-mouthed.
In the back of the car on the ride home, careening around corners, Eduardo stares out the window at the oppressively hot Brazilian night. After a minute, in the pitch black of the tiny car, Eduardo puts a hand on Mark’s thigh. Mark leans back against the back of the seat and lets his head spin.
The next day, Mark pulls out his laptop and lets his fingers rest on the keys for a couple seconds.
Eduardo laughs when Mark sighs as he starts typing, looking up from his macro book for a second.
He has thirteen new emails, five from his CS class, four from fellow programmers obsessed with talking to him, three from his mom, and one from Dustin. He clicks that one.
Markito (in honor of your presence in a Romance Language country)
Everything’s fine here. No crashes, no servers down- three thou more users and I actually got laid. Sweet.
How’s Brazil? Hope you finally get some hot Brazilian ass. And/or ask for Wardo’s hand in marriage. Tell Wardo that the weird girl from his macro class asked for him, apparently the test is impossible and/or she totally wants on him.
Mark huffs with laughter at that, and Wardo looks up.
“Email from Dustin.”
“Read it to me.”
He does, stammers over the “hand in marriage” bit, and decides not to read the last sentence (say hi to your baby boy, hope the parents approve of you) but Eduardo doesn’t notice, just laughs and says, “Like fuck he got laid.”
“Probably made out with a tree outside of AEPi,” Mark says, and Eduardo barks with laughter.
“How’s the site?”
“Looks... great,” Mark says distractedly, already working out a couple kinks, checking on traffic, coding a quick new setting that’d been stuck in his mind since the flight.
Eduardo shakes his head. “Talk to you in four hours.”
Eduardo laughs. “Ay, querido. Five.”
Mark recognizes the word - querido - and googles it. It takes him three tries to spell it right.
Querido - my dear, my darling; lover, inamorato, darling, sweetheart
He closes the tab.
Eduardo’s sleeping, rolled over on top of his econ book. He wakes up two hours later and stumbles to the shower.
Twenty minutes later, he comes in with just a towel wrapped around his skinny waist, and Mark reflects belatedly that he’s in Eduardo’s room.
Eduardo comes up behind him, puts two slightly damp hands on his shoulders and leans down. He smells like the salon Mark’s mom forces him into twice a year and toothpaste.
“Is that online? It looks good.”
“Yeah, I just added it. The script was pretty simple, but it definitely adds a new dimension to the messages function.”
The hands stay there, warm through his t-shirt. Eduardo’s thumb rubs softly against his neck and Mark swallows.
Eduardo’s phone buzzes on the desk next to the laptop and he picks it up.
He turns away from Mark, and Mark shivers involuntarily from the sudden absence.
He looks up.
“I’m gonna grab dinner with Yara. I’ll be back soon.”
“Have fun,” Eduardo says, grinning at him, and leaves.
Contato - Contact
Ei, o que você está fazendo aqui? - hey, what are you doing here?
Nada, nada, homem, ele estava se sentindo doente - nothing, nothing, man, he was feeling sick.
Chapter 3: Destruição
Eduardo’s parents leave for Miami a day before they do, and Eduardo cooks dinner. He sets out two glasses of strong, fragrant Brazilian red wine, and they talk about Facebook while Eduardo rubs a soft line against Mark’s ankle with his bare foot.
“What do you want to do?” he asks after they’ve finished.
“There’s a party at my cousin’s friend’s house-” Mark wrinkles his nose. “-Or we could stay here and watch TV.”
“I’m sort of tired.”
“Fur of the dog,” Eduardo says, raising his glass and grinning, and Mark doesn’t have the heart to correct the idiom. He raises his glass instead, and they drink.
Mark sits stiffly on one edge of the couch while Eduardo sprawls against more than half of it. He flicks through the channels, and Portuguese blurts out in snatches and Mark feels the acute loss of his language skills and homeland.
“Is there anything in English?” he asks finally, and Eduardo laughs.
“Yeah, yeah. There’s this one - channel-” and he fiddles with the remote for a second, tongue out. A re-run of King of Queens comes on, and Eduardo squints at it.
“A terrible, terrible show.”
Eduardo laughs and mutes it. Turns to Mark, and his feet brush Mark’s thighs and Mark almost jumps.
“I didn’t really want to watch TV anyway,” he says softly, and crawls across the couch towards him. Mark’s heart rises in his throat and he nearly scuttles away but Eduardo’s there, right in front of him, mouth open and eyes wide.
The kiss is hesitant and open and Mark gasps in a breath when he can, and Eduardo grins against his mouth and braces himself on the side of the couch and kisses him, really, warm and wet, his body a pleasant weight on top of Mark’s.
They’ve been trading lingering kisses for god-knows-how-long, the TV’s moved onto Will and Grace, and Mark’s eyes are nearly fluttering shut, when he hears Eduardo whisper, “Meu querido” and press his lips against his again, and his eyes open. His body stiffens and Eduardo must feel it, because he lifts his head.
“Okay?” he asks.
“Yes. I just- well- you said that before. Care-ido.”
Eduardo laughs. “So?”
“It’s - an interesting term. For what this is.”
“This?” Eduardo’s eyes are sharp, and he’s pushed himself away from Mark with one hand.
“Yes. Our- whatever. I just- it seems a bit - overenthusiastic.”
Eduardo sits up, mouth wet and swollen, narrowing his eyes at Mark.
“One word in Portuguese means we’re taking things too fast?”
“I just thought that we weren’t taking “things”, so to speak, at all. We’re just-” He stops.
“No, go on, Mark, enlighten me. What are we doing?”
“You’re my best friend.”
“Do all your best friends blow you in the bathrooms of nightclubs, Mark?”
“Well, of course not-”
“You know what I mean.”
“I haven’t really- had one. Yet. You were- and now I don’t know what we are. But I don’t want to mess up stuff with Facebook-”
“Of course you don’t. I don’t either, Mark. It’s my company too,” Eduardo says angrily, “How exactly is this messing anything up, again?”
“Come on, Wardo. If we get in a fight- if anything happens-”
“So what you’re saying is it’s not worth it.”
There’s a silence.
“Not right now,” Mark starts, and Eduardo shakes his head incredulously, “- come on, Wardo, you know that the company is the priority right now, until it gets off the ground, and this whole...thing could fuck it up considerably-”
“Yeah, God forbid I freeze the account,” Eduardo says irritably, and stands up.
They pass the next two days in mostly silence, and Mark codes most of the time. He’s used to silence, but he misses the way Wardo always broke him away from his laptop, waved a hand in front of his face and was a massive annoying distraction. He thinks he might need it, sometimes.
They fly back, and Mark yanks his suitcase into the room alone. Dustin greets him excitedly, all dude we get like a thousand people an hour and did you meet Gisele? Mark deflects the questions as well as he knows how.
Then a couple awkward weeks, where he sees Eduardo at meals, and they talk stiltedly about Facebook and classes and hey did you hear Cornell tried to... The panicky rush of finals, and then summer comes, and Palo Alto, and they don’t talk about it, about Brazil, about the heady spin of that drunken night, again, until Eduardo’s across from him saying point zero three percent, and Mark wishes he was saying meu querido.
Eduardo looks at him on that last day, after Mark says something bitchy to Gretchen that he knows Eduardo would think he was funny, and he swears Eduardo’s mouth tilts upward for a split second.
He looks away, and it’s gone.
Only when he’s signing settlements in his scratchy script, putting his name under things like nondisclosure agreement and $600,000,000 does it hit him.
Eduardo’s never going to call him anything ever again.
Destruição = Destruction
Chapter 4: Educação
The thing was, Mark never meant to learn Portuguese. It's not like it was some deliberate plan he had or anything. First of all because running Facebook took up a lot of time so it was better if you didn't make deliberate plans like "really go on vacation this year" or "try having a relationship that lasts more than a month" or "learn Portuguese" because they just ended up falling through when you had to code for 31 hours straight. Second of all because, you know, why would he EVER have to learn Portuguese? It's not like he thought about Portuguese. It's not like he woke up sometimes, panting and more than half-hard after a fuzzy dream of a wet mouth, with a Portuguese phrase on his tongue meu querido. That never happened. So, yeah, Mark never meant to learn Portuguese.
Things just happen sometimes, that's all.
He goes back to New Jersey for a few days around Hanukkah because he can work from anywhere with his laptop and because his Mom has been bugging him. His sisters and his Mom are just the same as always, fussing around him, talking over each other, Mark, don't you remember...ing. He tries to wire in and shut them out but it's a lot harder, with all those people around, than you might think. (A prime benefit of not having anyone around in Palo Alto, Mark thinks. Yeah, totally prime.)
One afternoon Mark goes to the family room to play a fantastically bloody FPS game for an hour or so to distract himself and he finds his mother and sisters curled up watching some stupid ... Christmas movie?
"You're traitors to our people," he sighs wearily as his mother pats the couch next to her.
"Marky, this movie has Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, and COLIN FIRTH. No woman alive, Jew or not, could resist that potent combo," Randi says, grinning.
"Besides," Arielle chimes in "it's a holiday movie about love. That's close enough."
"Yeah Marky," Donna teases "maybe now that you're, like, a billionaire you can get them to make a Hanukkah blockbuster."
"Maybe something starring Colin Firth," their mother says almost wistfully.
"Yeah right, Colin Firth. Maybe Colin Firth could play Marky in the inevitable Facebook movie," Arielle snickers.
His other two sisters giggle too. "Yeah," Donna says "I can totally see that. Colin Firth winning an Oscar for playing Marky!"
"Girls," their mother scolds.
"No, I know," says Randi "Colin Firth can be, like, the King of England in some other movie and Marky will lose."
Now they are howling with laughter. Good to know you can be hailed as a unique visionary genius and on your way to becoming the youngest billionaire in the world and your sisters will still treat you like you're five.
"Come on, sit down and watch the movie," their mother says over his sister’s laughter.
Mark plops down with a long-suffering sigh and listens to Hugh Grant's annoying voiceover. Afterward, he'll get into Halo and kill the fuck out of some British players. Just 'cause.
He knows he's in for it when Colin Firth starts stumbling his way through Portuguese lessons.
His sisters and mother sigh happily when the credits start to roll, but Mark can't stop frowning. "That was incredibly stupid," he says over their gasps of protest.
"None of those plotlines even made sense. The dude with the signs is the worst best friend ever, Hugh Grant should be worried more about international war crimes than a secretary the movie weirdly wants us to think is fat, Liam Neeson should get that kid into grief counseling, and, what, you can't have a relationship if you have a sick family member? Try talking to that guy, Laura Linney," it all comes out of him in an angry rapid-fire rant.
His family just laughs. "Oh, Mark," his mother sighs "Can't you just suspend disbelief for once and enjoy something insubstantial and romantic?"
"No," he snaps, standing up "because that's not real life." He is suddenly so angry: so angry at the movie, at Colin Firth stumbling over Portuguese, at whole world. He chokes out the next words. "That's not how real life works!"
When he looks at his sisters and his Mom now he tries not to notice how they are looking at him now with sadness and something closely resembling pity.
As if this is the real reason his mother has been bugging him to come home, because they are all so worried about him. As if one of them is about to say, "Mark, we're sorry about what happened this year. The lawsuits and the depositions. We all know how hard it was on you to have to go through that with..." and then they'll trail off and no one will say Wardo's name but it will be there, hanging in the air, and they'll all be thinking of the Thanksgiving he spent with them freshman year, making the sisters smile and teaching Mark's mom Portuguese words for the food she was preparing. They'll think about how Mark's dad clapped Wardo on the back and said he was glad Mark was spending time with such a clever guy who was also so charming because Mark needed all the help he could get and Mark blushed and Wardo beamed like no one'd ever said anything so amazing to him.
And when they're thinking about that, Mark will remember Spring Break in Brazil and Wardo's shitty father and think about how maybe no one had ever said anything so amazing to Wardo. And Mark never thinks about that Spring Break in Brazil. Not ever.
So before his sisters or mother can say one thing more, he stalks right out of the room.
As he hurries out of the room, he hears them lower their heads and begin to whisper to each other, their voices a consoling buzz.
He practically sprints to his room to get away from them, from the sound of concern.
To keep out all those other thoughts, the ones he never thinks, he comes back to one solid, incontestable fact. "It can't be that hard to learn Portuguese properly!"
Why not Portuguese language tapes instead of music during coding? Some people might think this is ineffective, that you need to really concentrate and be focused. But when he's wired in, Mark is focused. (Maybe it's the most focused he ever is.) His whole brain opens right up and everything clicks and flows.
Mark makes up a Facebook emergency and flies back to Palo Alto two days early. He ignores his mother's sad eyes and his sisters's knowing looks.
When he gets there, Mark doesn't even think twice. He loads up his iPod, wires in, and just ... goes.--
In a way, learning a new language is like writing code. Mark happens to be really quite good at writing code.
And Portuguese is a romance language with Latin roots. Mark happens to already speak French and Latin.
So, basically, it's not a big surprise to Mark when it only takes him a few weeks to become comfortably fluent in Portuguese.
Just another thing the stupid movie got wrong.
No big deal, now Mark knows Portuguese and that's that. He just did it to prove a point. It's not like he'd ever have any other reason to learn Portuguese, it's not like he's ever going to have anyone to speak it to.
At least that's what he thinks until he runs into Eduardo's father at a fundraiser.
Mark wants to blame his personal assistant. Or the charity. Or Brazil, for being part of Latin America. Basically, Mark wants to blame anyone. Mark wants some reason that he ended up at some Latin American fundraiser-handshaking-cocktails-kiss-cheeks-make-nice-party that Eduardo's father also happens to be present at.
It's some initiative to bring technology to poor, rural areas in Latin America and that's just exactly up Mark's alley and he's gonna give these people a whole boatload of money and he even has no problems being here tonight to shake hands and answer questions about how technology can open the world for everyone. (Sure, it's not like it's his first choice on a Friday night but his first choice is staying in the office until Dustin ushers him out, insisting "We're leaving, Sir Marks-A-Lot, and you're fucking leaving too!")
But being stuck with Dustin at a charity event where Eduardo's asshole father is on the other side of the room, surrounded by a large group of fellow Latin American big names?
No, that was not at all how Mark wants to spend any Friday night.
"We can just go, Mark, you're gonna give them the money anyway," Dustin mutters, pulling at his arm.
"It's fine," he replies trying to keep his voice steady, trying to not think about the way Wardo shrunk under his father's gaze. "We'll have some drinks, socialize with people who approach us, and pretend they aren't there."
That works for most of the evening. Mark can almost pretend Mr. Saverin and his cronies aren't on the other side of the room, that the whole place isn't hopping with the tension of what might happen, waiting for something to go wrong.
It worked until Mr. Saverin and his group approach Mark and Dustin, that is.
Dustin (Dustin, who has not left his side the whole night) groaned under his breath, "Mark, we can..."
But Mark will not be moved. He can take this. He really can.
"Good evening, Mr. Zuckerberg," Mr. Saverin began.
Mark nodded his head. He was always better at the thrust than the parry, so he moves to control the conversation. "Hello Mr. Saverin. I'm happy to see you're supporting this initiative. It's a great cause, don't you think?"
Mr. Saverin nods back, smiling just a little. "Indeed. Now, Mr. Zuckerberg, as we are both men of business, I feel like I should be completely honest with you.”
Mark's whole body goes stiff and cold. He can take it. Whatever is coming, whatever invectives Mr. Saverin is about to hurl at him, he can take it. He does not reply, he just continues to stare flatly at Mr. Saverin, waiting for him to make the next move. Mr. Saverin’s hangers-on seem all too eager for what he's about to say.
"I just wanted you to know, I respect you. I respect what you have done with Facebook. I don't hold you personally responsible for my son's bad business decisions, the business decisions of a child," he pauses here and breaks out in an oily, self-satisfied smile as his cabal of sycophants nod and smile in time. "not the head of a company. You did the right thing, my son showed a lack of foresight combined with a useless sentimentality. Sadly, I think these are character weaknesses I was never able to rid him of. I wanted to congratulate you, first hand, on your deserved success."
And then he smiled and reached out his hand.
Mark heard Dustin take a long in-drawn breath. Mark watched Mr. Saverin's slithery smile grow ever larger as people all around them, not just his crowd but almost the entire room, listened to his congratulations.
He stared at Mr. Saverin's outstretched hand and thought of Wardo's smile.
He had never in his life been more sure of what to do.
Mark took a slow sip of his beer and then looked Mr. Saverin right in the eye and said, in flawless Portuguese, "Você não merece ter como filho um homem tão bom como o Eduardo."
Mark felt the words roll over Mr. Saverin and pass through the entire crowd in a single instant. Mr. Saverin's mouth literally dropped open.
Mark tipped his beer at Mr. Saverin’s group, set it down on the table, smiled and walked slowly away.
A few steps later, Dustin sprinting ahead to get the car pulled around, Mark paused briefly to tell Mr. Saverin one more thing.
He turned around to see Mr. Saverin's face, still holding an expression of shocked, embarrassed disbelief, pinched around the edges.
"Seu filho da puta maldito," Mark added, almost casually.
Then he nodded one more time and strode out of the room without another backward glance.
Educação = Education
Você não merece ter como filho um homem tão bom como o Eduardo = You do not deserve to have a man as great as Eduardo as your son.
Seu filho da puta maldito = You son of a bitch/whore (Portuguese doesn't have an exact translation for this, so run with it. You know what Mark means!
"What the fuck did you say to my father?"
Mark thinks, at first, that this is some kind of dream. He'd tried to go back to the office but Dustin dropped him off at his house, "Mark, don't even try to come back to work tonight, I mean it."
He coded at home, had some more beers, tried not to think of how proud Mr. Saverin sounded while verbally humiliating his absent son in front of all those people, how he'd expected Mark to shake his hand and go along with it, how maybe everyone in the room was expecting that because that's the kind of asshole Mark Zuckerberg was, right? Because it had all been about money and business and Eduardo Saverin had been weak and stupid and he'd lost and Mark had won and -
Then, OK, he had a few more beers.
He was slumped over (not passed out) on his couch when his phone's shrill ring made him sit straight up. He didn't even look to see who was calling, he just reached out and answered, muttering a groggy "Hello?"
Wardo's voice is shrill and livid on the other line but! It's Wardo's voice. Talking to Mark. On the phone. So, yes, Mark thinks it's some kind of dream.
"I - um," Mark grasps for words, suddenly wide-awake.
"Seriously, Mark, what the fuck did you say to my father that would get him so angry that he would call me up in the middle of the night to ream me out about how, yet again, I've caused him to be humiliated in front of all his friends because of YOU? That doesn't even make any sense, Mark!" Wardo was shouting.
Mark had to think of something to say besides, "He started it!" which seemed like a really, really bad opener. "Well, I didn't -"
Wardo cut him off, still shouting. "I just really appreciate it, Mark! You've already tried to ruin my life once and now this! You know what my father is," Wardo paused and swallowed hard.
Mark knew he was regretting that slip of familiarity, the slip in revealing how well (still) they knew each other. Mark just breathed into the phone, hearing Wardo's shaky breath on the other side.
His next words sounded wild, like they were being ripped from Wardo's throat. "He asked how I could still be letting him down over Facebook, still making his friends pity him. He wanted to know if I was such a coward,” Wardo choked on the word but plowed forward “that I had them write something into the settlement about how you legally had to defend me. What could you have said, Mark?"
Mark closed his eyes against the pain of it, the way Wardo's voice had gone soft and low. Mark tried to keep his voice calm. "I told him he didn't deserve to have you for a son, that you were too good of a man to be his son. I told him the truth."
On the other end of the line, Wardo gasped, a small broken sound.
"Mark, why -" his voice cracks.
"Because he needed to hear it, Wardo,"
"Don't call me that, you don't have any fucking right to call me that!" Wardo interrupted his voice a terrible combination of the low, confidential tone and the angry, mean one. "No one calls me that and you especially don't call me that. Not now, Mark. You lost the right to call me that. You can't just say things like that to my father and expect they won't matter and you can't think that just because I called you to tell you to stop talking about me that you can use that name - "
He's ranting. He's ranting and Mark's still thinking this must be some kind of dream and in Mark's dreams? He knows exactly what to say next.
"Pare. Meu querido, pare."
There is instant silence on the other end of the line.
And then, proving to Mark once and for all this is real life and not one of his dreams, not some stupid romantic comedy, Eduardo hangs up on him without another word.
Mark held the phone to his ear for a few seconds, dumbly wondering if maybe he’d imagined the hang-up. No, that had happened.
He set the phone down with a clunk and lay back down on the couch.
That had all happened, apparently.
“Well,” Mark thought to himself, staring blankly at his ceiling “at least it can’t get any worse.”
The loud, insistent pounding on his front door comes less than ten minutes later.
Why had he assumed Wardo was in Singapore? Wardo had said the middle of the night, and in Singapore it was already the morning. Why hadn’t he thought Wardo might be interested in a Latin American initiative about technology?
Even if he had Mark still couldn’t have imagined Wardo standing on his front steps in the middle of the California night, his phone dangling in his hand, a shell-shocked expression on his pale face.
Mark opens his mouth to, well, say something. Say anything.
Wardo cuts him off preemptively, immediately launching into an angry rant. An angry rant in Portuguese. "Você aprende algumas palavras em português e começa a achar que tem o direito de me intimidar com elas? Você não pode mais me manipular, não pode simplesmente...não tem o direito de dizer essa palavra, Mark. Não pode me chamar de..."
See, this is what it’s like when real life is not a romantic comedy. Mark knows this. He really does. But suddenly, somehow, he forgets that. He thinks back to the last time he saw Wardo; signing the settlement papers, how he’d wished he had the chance to really talk to him just one more time.
He thinks back to the time and place he never thinks of: Brazil and Wardo’s couch. He thinks of their lazy, sweet kissing, Wardo mouthing endearments into his skin. How many times had he secretly played out that moment in his head, wishing he could take back what he said, wishing he hadn’t been so fucking afraid of the way Wardo was offering himself so completely to him? (What if we mess it up? What if it ruins everything? What if he figures out I’m not worth all this shit?)
In this second, Mark is finally smart enough to admit the truth to himself: this is why he learned Portuguese, for that one in a billion romantic comedy chance that someday, somehow, some way, he’d be able to look right at Eduardo and say that thing, that one thing, he should have said all those years ago.
“Meu querido,” Mark says.
Wardo’s eyes went wide with shock and disbelief.
“Meu querido,” Mark repeated, taking a tentative step towards Wardo, letting the Portuguese, and his thoughts, flow. "Eu fiquei feliz quando você me chamou assim, mas tive medo. Eu devia ter deixado você...eu estraguei tudo. Eu estraguei muita coisa e eu sinto tanto, muito mais do que posso dizer. Eu lamento pelo que aconteceu no Facebook, lamento por não ter conversado com você em vez de ter te deixado assinar os contratos. Mas, acima de tudo, lamento por não ter te chamado de meu querido também.
All the color has drained from Wardo’s face and he looks completely rattles, but he hasn’t punched Mark in the mouth, so this is all good, right?
“Oh and, um, I learned more than a few words of Portuguese,” Mark admitted almost sheepishly, shrugging his shoulders and taking that last step towards Wardo, reaching out, awkwardly but unafraid, to wrap his arms around him.
Mark was still kind of convinced that not only was this a dream, not only was this not happening, but that Wardo was about to turn around and bolt, never to be seen or heard from again.
Instead, he let Mark wrap his arms around him, standing as stiff as a board for what seemed like an eternity.
But then, just like in every romantic comedy Mark never believed in, the impossible happened.
He felt Wardo relax into his arms, felt him snake his arms around his waist and hug back.
"Can we maybe," Wardo says either two minutes or two decades later "go inside your house and not do this on your front steps?"
Crazily, Mark wants to laugh. He squeezes Wardo even harder. "Do what?"
And Wardo ... Wardo does laugh.
Mark's not really sure what he thinks is going to happen when he lets Wardo go and steps aside so he can walk into his house. Usually romantic comedies end at this part, the part where he follows him inside and closes the door.
He'll apologize again. He'll ask Wardo exactly what he's doing in California. He'll ask if he can get him a drink. He’ll apologize again. He’ll ask Wardo if he wants to discuss Portuguese tenses. He’ll say there’s no rush. He'll say they can go however slow Wardo wants, that they can build their friendship back, bit by bit until -
The second he locks the door and turns to face him, Wardo pulls Mark back into an embrace and, without preamble, begins frantically raining kisses all over his face.
"Yeah, OK. Or we could do this. This is good," Mark thinks.
Mark turns his face up towards him, greedy for the touch. "I missed you," Wardo mumbles, almost to himself, and it makes Mark press even closer to him.
Mark won't expect him to say it. He won't. He won't expect it or hope for it because this, just this, is so much more than he could have ever dreamed of. Having Wardo here, kissing him, that's enough. He doesn't need to hear him say -
"Querido. Meu querido, Mark," Wardo breathes into his ear, almost defiantly, as if he is somehow still scared of what Mark might do or say.
But this time, this time, Mark knows what to do.
He pulls away from Wardo and sees him have a split-second wince of doubt. But then Mark takes Wardo’s face in both his hands, pulls him in for a kiss. Meets mouth with mouth and kisses him: sloppy, unfocused, enthusiastically.
Mark knows just what this is worth now and a billion dollars can’t begin to pay for it.
He says it back, his voice loud and clear and firm and sure.
"Querido. Meu querido, Wardo."
Redescoberta - Rediscovery
Pare - stop
Você aprende algumas palavras em português e começa a achar que tem o direito de me intimidar com elas? Você não pode mais me manipular, não pode simplesmente...não tem o direito de dizer essa palavra, Mark. Não pode me chamar de - You learn a few words of Portuguese and you suddenly think you have the right to try to intimidate me with them? You can’t jerk me around anymore, you can’t just – you don’t just get to say that word, Mark. You can’t call me
Eu fiquei feliz quando você me chamou assim, mas tive medo. Eu devia ter deixado você...eu estraguei tudo. Eu estraguei muita coisa e eu sinto tanto, muito mais do que posso dizer. Eu lamento pelo que aconteceu no Facebook, lamento por não ter conversado com você em vez de ter te deixado assinar os contratos. Mas, acima de tudo, lamento por não ter te chamado de meu querido também - I was happy when you called me that, but I was afraid. I should have let you – I messed up. I messed up a lot and I am so sorry, so much sorrier than I can say. I’m sorry for what happened with Facebook, I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you about it instead of just letting you sign the papers. But most of all I’m sorry I didn’t call you mu querido back
That night, they whisper, moan, sigh, and exhale Portuguese into each other's skin.
meu amor - meu lindo - meu anjo - amorzinho - meu amado
Portuguese words Mark had never dreamed he'd have the chance to even say to anyone, much less hear back.
And again and again, with almost every reverent touch, there is the same word – querido.
As if Mark never turned away from it, as if there wasn't so much bitterness and regret between them. And every time they say it, a little bit of the past falls away. It's not like it never happened, it's not like it didn't matter, it's not like it's all over and all OK. It's that, bit by bit, that's becoming part of their story, not the whole story, not the end of the story.
Much, much later, Wardo drifts off to a light sleep, but Mark's too wired to even attempt sleep. (Mark thought he knew what it was like to be totally wired in, but he has a feeling with Wardo's help, he's about to discover what it really means. He doesn't think Dustin will have to chase him out of the office anymore.)
When Wardo stirs in his sleeps and wakes up, reaching out for Mark almost subconsciously, Mark is distracted from mentally writing the script for his sure to be Oscar winning gay-Portuguese-Hanukkah themed romantic comedy about the two best friends who start Facebook, almost destroy each other, and come back together (fall back together) as much more than friends.
Maybe Colin Firth can star. His mom and sisters will like that almost as much as they'll like seeing Wardo come along on the next trip home. Mark's gonna make sure Wardo never has to see his asshole father again. They're done with him, he's not worthy of Wardo or their time and he's not going to be part of the family.
(Yeah: family. Mark thought it. Yara, maybe some of Wardo's other cousins, Dustin, Chris, Mark's mom and dad and sisters and Mark and Wardo. That's what they'll be. Family. Heck, maybe they'll adopt an orphan or something. Mark's not afraid anymore, he knows what you really have to be afraid of is being alone, not taking a chance with someone. This might be a romantic comedy lesson. Mark is so happy right now, he really doesn't care.)
And sure, all this sounds too good to be true, but now Mark knows there's no such thing.
Seeing Wardo wake up and smile right at him reminds Mark of one tiny detail. "Oh, yeah. There's one other thing I should tell you,"
Wardo doesn't even look distressed, he's too blissed out and relaxed. He turns on his side to face Mark, opening his eyes. "Really?” he teases “Only one other thing?"
"OK, well more than one. This one, though, um," Mark pauses "Tonight, well, I didn't just tell your Dad that he didn't deserve to have you as a son ... I, um, I also called him a fucking son of a bitch."
Wardo smiles from ear to ear. "Ay, querido," he murmurs, twisting his fingers with Mark's, leaning forward to kiss him "You always seem to know the perfect thing to say."
meu amor - meu lindo - meu anjo - amorzinho - meu amado - my love, my beautiful, my angel, sweetheart, my beloved