…when I lost you honey sometimes I think I lost my guts too
and I wish God would send me a word
send me something I'm afraid to lose…
"Let me be as clear as possible," Chris says, making sure Mark holds his gaze, keeping his voice entirely level, brooking no argument. "You have two choices and two choices only."
"One," he holds up his index finger "you drive with Eduardo to Logan in Dustin's car, which you will then leave in long-term parking as you two depart to catch your own flights. This will be a short drive. Neither one of you has to speak to the other."
He pauses, gives Mark a minute to make his pained face and open his mouth to object. The second that happens, he holds up a second finger. "Two," he interrupts "you can get stuck with the clothes on your back in a shitty hotel room in Cambridge while the biggest blizzard in a decade moves in for a time period which could be up to week. This will cause you to miss three huge meetings in Paolo Alto, where it's currently 60 degrees, might I add. Eduardo has already agreed you can ride with him to the airport, but he's leaving in ten minutes, so you need to decide right now."
On the last two words, Chris reached over and grabbed Mark's shoulders for extra emphasis. He gave him a short shake, cutting off the protest he could see again forming on Mark's lips.
"Those are the two options, Mark. The only two options. Choose. now."
All Mark has is his laptop. The storm was forecast for later that week, so Mark's plan had been to fly into Logan, spend the day at Harvard with Chris and Dustin and fly back out on the red eye. Dustin and Chris's schedules had overlapped enough for them to be in Cambridge at the same time and Dustin cajoled Mark into coming too as a surprise for Chris.
"Jesus dude, just give us one day. It's, like, the holiday season or whatever. We'll spend the day hanging out and catching up. You know how busy Chris is with the campaign. It’ll be fun. Campus is empty, the whole town is half-dead, we'll drink beers and talk about the good old days before we ruled the world. Which, actually, I guess that makes *now* the good old days. One day, Mark. We haven't all seen each other for months. Chris'll never expect it."
Mark gives in. Fine. One day. Red eye in, red eye out. The forecast is clear, he'll rearrange some meetings, it's not like he'd be sleeping. He can do one day.
Of course, neither he nor Dustin knew that Chris has convinced Eduardo, who was in New York on business, to join him and Dustin for a one day reunion. We haven’t all seen each other for months, Chris said, Dustin’ll never expect it!
Mark knows, has always known, that Dustin and Chris still talk to Eduardo. He knows it didn't happen right away, but within six months after the final signature was dry on the settlement papers, the three of them had resumed a friendship. And they were all three still friends, friends on Facebook and friends who hung out sometimes. Which was totally fine with Mark. He didn't care. Dustin and Chris never mentioned it around him and that was that. It’s been almost two years since the settlement (not that he’s counting) and he's totally fine with his three best friends from college being BFFLAALL without him, braiding each other's hair and having Skype slumber parties for all he cares.
But when he and Dustin find themselves face to face with Eduardo and Chris outside of Kirkland of all places (it had seemed like a really cool meeting place, beforehand) and everyone's face falls - OK, then he cares.
It's a jumble of words as Chris and Dustin start babbling over each other. Eduardo doesn’t say anything, he just looks shocked. Mark remains silent and stares blankly off into the distance, pretending none of this is happening. Before he really knows what's happening, it's all been somehow sorted and Dustin is dragging Eduardo off in one direction and Chris is dragging him off the other.
"You couldn't even say hello, Mark?" Chris sighs as they head off campus.
"Hello," Mark says, his tone flat.
"Great, yeah. Pretend you don't know what I meant. If only I didn't know you were a fucking genius!"
"He didn't want me to say hello," Mark might not know how he ended up walking with Chris to a location he's unsure of but that he knows.
Chris makes another frustrated noise, low in the back of his throat. "Mark, ya know what? I don't think you have the slightest clue what Eduardo wants."
Yeah, Mark thinks, as he looks up to the sky and sees the first fat snowflake fall down, that seems like that's always been true.
The snow is flying almost as quickly as the text messages between Dustin, Eduardo, and Chris. Mark feels like he should probably be doing something. He should probably pull out his phone and start making arrangements for getting back to California as soon as he can or work remotely or ... something. Instead, he just sits across from Chris in the booth at the little greasy spoon they'd stopped in as soon as the snow got really thick.
Mark sips at almost cold coffee and wishes for Red Bull. He's the CEO (a damn good CEO) of one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the world but somehow being back in Cambridge, back near Kirkland, back with his three best friends (former, he mentally amends, one of those best friends is former) has momentarily turned him back into the person he was freshman year.
Mark never did figure out how it was that Wardo began the slow process of looking after, being responsible, and taking care of things for Mark. Things Mark never thought about, really. Like making sure there were always quarters for laundry and food in his suite that didn't involve a microwave. Things like reminding Mark he had to sleep sometimes and that whatever brilliant (but mean) thing was about to come out of his mouth would have consequences.
It wasn't just amazing that Wardo started to do all this for Mark, it was amazing that Mark let him. Mark was never the kind of person who let other people take care of anything for him, but it wasn't like that with Wardo. It wasn't like he was taking over or didn't think Mark was capable. With Wardo, it had seemed natural. It was probably around then that Eduardo had become simply Wardo – the person Mark knew would handle things. Mark still had trouble thinking of him as anything else.
But he hadn't even said hello to him, hadn't even met his eyes, so it really didn't make sense that Mark would lapse back into his ridiculous "Wardo will take care of this!" mindset. (not that he would ever admit to actually having that mindset.) Yet here he was, watching Dustin and Chris and Wardo texting as the snow outside got thicker and thicker, not doing a single thing he should be doing to take care of this himself. (which he can absolutely do, alright? He does it all the time. There's no one else to do it now.)
So he wasn't even surprised when Chris set down his phone, stopped texting, and gave him an almost impenetrable look that somehow mixed pity and hope.
"OK. I think we have a solution. Eduardo's taken care of this."
"I'm going to call a car service."
"OK, Mark. Great. Call a car service," Chris claps his hands once and smiles at Mark with a grin bordering on manic. "The car service'll be here in an hour or so, probably a little longer, since you know, it's practically a state of fucking emergency with this storm coming in. But sure, call the car service. When they get here, there will be more snow and more ice and more people on the roads and trying to get through the tunnel and out to the airport. So, that'll put you back a few hours, at least. Of course, by that time you'll have absolutely missed the earlier flight we booked you on and Logan will be well on its way to shutting down thanks to the, say it with me here, biggest blizzard in a decade. Call a car service, yeah. Or go out and try to find a cab. Walk a few blocks in the snow in your freaking flip-flops, flag down a cab on the first major street you find, how long could that take? I'm sure they're just lining up to take people to the airport where they'll get stuck for days instead of staying in the main part of the city where they can make crazy money."
"I'm - I'm -"
"Mark, I really thought that you would be the very last person in the world I'd have to explain this to but: every second counts. You can keep pissing around here and wasting time but you have to ask yourself if you're really a time waster, Mark."
"I'll - I'll -"
"We have a perfectly legitimate plan in place, Mark. It will save time and money and energy and get everyone what they want in the most efficient manner. What can you possibly have to object to?" Chris's stare is a challenge.
And that's when Mark knows. He doesn't have anything that can argue with the logic of that. There's nothing he can say that can refute any of this. This really is the best plan.
I can't be in a car with him for twenty minutes, sitting beside him in silence, thinking of the last things we said to each other, thinking of what it used to be like when we'd go to the airport together, I'd rather get to the airport in two hours and spend a week on a fold-up cot.
Mark just can't say that, can he? It doesn't make any sense.
And besides, after Chris's calm, detailed explanation and defense, Wardo and Dustin are probably only five minutes away. These are crunch-time decisions, the reason he's the CEO, how he got Facebook to fly. Make the hard calls. Do what must be done, what you have to do, not what you want to do. (His mind snaps: Say yes to the dilution because he isn't listening and he won't stay in California and this is just business and Wardo will understand because Wardo knows business.)
Mark nods at Chris and breaks his gaze. He pushes back his chair back and stands.
"I chose option number one."
Chris's smile is so wide it looks as if it should hurt his face.
Everyone is weirdly silent, standing out in the snow for a few seconds, staring. Mark imagines this is what a hostage exchange must feel like. Wardo goes over to Chris as Dustin motions Mark to come towards him. They brush by each other without touching or even exchanging glances.
Dustin has a nervous smile on his face. "Well, um, sorry all this happened I guess. The whole day, I mean. I should have checked. But I'm glad you decided to be a grown-up about this and drive with Wardo. If you guys leave now you should just about be able to miss most of the traffic and snow and get out before Logan shuts down."
Mark bristles at the suggestion that maybe not wanting to hitch a ride to the airport with Wardo would somehow make him less of a grown-up but he bites his tongue and just nods in what he hopes passes as a nonchalant manner at Dustin. "It's cool, man. We can survive thirty minutes in a car together."
"Exactly. Your laptop is in the backseat and, uh, I'll see you back in California once this all passes over, yeah? Me and Chris are gonna ride out the storm and catch up and the four of us can get together some other time when the weather, um," Dustin stumbles, realizing what's he's said and looks down awkwardly for a second.
Mark hears it echo: “the four of us” and he realizes, for both the first and the thousandth time, there isn’t any “four of us” anymore.
"Yeah, it'll be fine," Mark shrugs like it was nothing, like he didn't even hear it. (At least that's what he hopes the shrug says. He's been told that, actually, his shrugs sometimes mean something else to people. Something like "Fuck you.") "Thanks for letting us use the car."
"It's no big," Dustin says. Dustin, who unlike Mark is a good Jewish son, comes back out to the East coast much more than Mark does. "You know I keep one out here for when I'm in the area. Some of my cousins drove it up last week so I could have it during my trip but it's not like we'll be doing a ton of driving during the Snowpocalypse!"
Dustin points at the car. "This one is cool. It's got all kinds of weird prototype features from the manufacturer. They wanted me to test out since, you know, I'm like a technological genius and stuff."
Mark hears a laugh. "Says the guy who could never figure out how to work the coffee pot,” Chris scoffs.
Mark turns to see Chris and Wardo standing right behind them. "You’d better get going now," Chris says as Wardo pointedly looks away from Mark.
Mark walks past him and towards the passenger side. Chris follows him to the other side of the car as Wardo gets the keys from Dustin. "Sorry it didn't work out this time," Mark tells Chris, who nods slowly in agreement.
As Mark opens the door to get in, Chris seems to follow him, getting into his personal space in a way Mark never allows. Caught in an awkward position of having the door half open and his body half in, Mark can't quite get away.
So he hears it as clear as day when Chris leans in and says, "Mark, just ... just for once try to remember that if you're interested in what someone wants you can try actually talking to them. Remember that ..." he trails off for a second, concentrating. Mark knows, in true Chris-PR-words-mean-so-much fashion, that he is searching for precisely the right words. "that maybe there are more than two options in the world, that there are so many more than you might think."
Mark stares at Chris and bobs his head up and down uselessly. Wardo is already in the car, buckled up and ready to go.
Mark gets inside and shuts the door. As he and Wardo pull away into the snow and silence Mark decides he has no idea what Chris could possibly be talking about.
Ten minutes of total silence is a lot longer than you might think.
Wardo has his hands on the steering wheel in perfect ten and two and his posture is ramrod straight. He's concentrating very carefully on the road.
Which Mark is pretending is only because of the snowstorm and not because he wants to pretend that Mark's not there. No, it's just Wardo making sure he obeys best practices in winter driving.
It's going a little slower than expected when Mark realizes he has no idea when his new flight is actually leaving. He didn't even book the damn thing himself. He should maybe ask? Of course that would involve talking? Maybe he could text Chris and ask him? But why do that when Wardo is sitting right there and he totally knows? Would it distract him? What if the sound of Mark's voice so distracted him he braked suddenly and they veered off the road and crashed? OK, that could never happen. But what if he just didn't answer? That could happen. That would be humiliating. It would be much easier to just text Chris and – his phone buzzes.
Oh yeah, Wardo said to text you about ten minutes after you left to let you know that your flights leave in about three hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to get there and get out, much earlier than your red-eyes. So, don’t panic. He knew you’d be panicking. PS: think about what Chris told you, yeah?
So, yeah, apparently Wardo still has that creepy semi-mind-reading skill - when he would know what Mark was thinking (or wanting) usually before Mark even did. Great.
On the way to the tunnel, the traffic has slowed to a crawl as more and more cars pour out towards the airport and the snow flurries become thicker. The bridge hadn't been so bad, but now the traffic has essentially stopped. Mark thinks he can see flashing police lights ahead, indicating closed lanes and possibly a wreck.
Without a word, Wardo puts the car in park and slams his hand down on the steering wheel.
They're at a dead stop.
There is still total silence in the car. Though he has let go of the steering wheel and resorted to pushing buttons on Dustin's overly elaborate console (Mark thinks he's trying to turn the heat up, but he could be trying to get some AM weather radio reception.) Wardo still refuses to meet Mark's eyes or even acknowledge his presence.
If only there was some form of self-selected, instant communication and connection with the outside world that was there for you to get easily lost in so you could avoid awkward, lonely moments just like this.
Oh, wait. There was. It was called Facebook and Mark invented it. So there.
The console gave a shrieking, almost ominous BEEEEEEP right as Mark hit "share" on his latest status update.
Involuntarily, Mark and Wardo met each other's gazes. Did they break the damn thing? Before either one of them could say anything a friendly British voice came over the car's speakers and politely stated "Dustin Moskovitz, this is your Facebook newsfeed."
Mark instantly looks away from Wardo and stares down at the phone in his hand as if it's suddenly turned into knife. Oh no. Surely, surely, surely not.
The voice continues. "First post: Mark Zuckerberg remembers why he left Cambridge. Weather sucks, company sucks."
Of course Dustin has probably the only car in the world that reads you your Facebook newsfeed. Of course he does.
This is bad. This is so bad. This can't be any worse.
The voice chirps on cheerfully. "Chris Hughes can't believe Mom and Dad are still fighting.
Dustin Moskovitz thinks Chris is lucky he'll have time to delete that status before Mom and Dad can check Facebook."
Wardo exhales loudly as Mark finds himself involuntarily gasping.
It's so much worse.
Mark starts mashing buttons on the console, desperately trying to get the blaring red light and chirping voice to turn off. He guesses they could turn the car off, but then they'd probably freeze to death. So, no. As he fumbles with the buttons, he vaguely notes Wardo has slipped his phone outside of his jacket pocket and is furiously typing away. Oh no, no, no.
Eduardo Saverin wonders if Dustin remembers that his car is apparently KNIGHT RIDER and can FUCKING READ HIS FACEBOOK?
Mark tries really, really hard not to snicker. He momentarily gives up on the console to quickly update. Mark Zuckerberg didn't know they had Knight Rider in Brazil.
And as he hears the British voice flowing out of the car's speakers he has a split second to feel completely absurd. Why not just turn to Wardo and say ...
(because what if Wardo didn't talk back?)
Mark and Wardo aren't friends on Facebook anymore. It happened the day the settlement papers were signed, the day Wardo nodded and walked out. He'd been waiting for it for months before but it wasn't until the ink was dry that Wardo took him off his Friend's List. And, sure, that was a mere formality, but Mark respected the formality. If he couldn't respect the way Facebook was changing communication and social networks, what was left for him?
The newsfeed is a new design feature, maybe the biggest overhaul to hit the site. He can't wait to roll it out. It gives you constant updates on the people on your friend’s lists every move. People are gonna fucking hate it for a few weeks before they get totally addicted to it. (These are Mark's favorite kind of changes.)
In the meantime, only he and a few senior Facebook staff members have access to it, working out the kinks and testing it out. Besides the fact he keeps his Facebook pretty locked (Mark *did* create privacy controls, don't bitch if you're not smart enough to use them, OK?) there can't be that many people on Dustin's newsfeed since it's in beta. Every time one of them updates it will show up in Dustin’s newsfeed, which, apparently, is synced to Dustin’s car hence the live, verbal updates.
Later, when Mark isn't worried about the ultimate, ridiculous humiliation of this moment, he'll have a second to appreciate how cool this is. (Yes, he knows no one else on the planet will think that a car that reads you your Facebook feed is cool. But no one else on the planet is Mark Zuckerberg, so it's OK.)
So, Dustin's beta newsfeed might not be big, but it clearly contains Wardo. So now, for the first time in months, Mark gets to hear Wardo's status updates. (Which is a pointless thing that means nothing to him.)
Chris Hughes DUSTIN YOUR CAR DOES WHAT?
Dustin Moskovitz just remembered one of the prototype features in the car. It's kinda cool, right? Right?!
Eduardo Saverin Dustin, your father is not pleased that you didn't even give him a head's up before you sent him out into a blizzard with a talking-Facebook-car.
Mark dashes out a response without even thinking about it. The car reads out the statuses smoothly without a pause, meaning (Mark guesses) they were most likely entered simultaneously.
Chris Hughes Wardo, come on you're Mom.
Dustin Moskovitz LOL WARDO, YOU'RE NOT DAD.
Mark Zuckerberg knows who's your daddy.
Mark is staring down at his phone, oddly pleased and embarrassed and weirded out all at once when the absolute very last thing he ever expected happens.
He hears Wardo laugh.
Wardo's low, almost reluctant laugh makes Mark stomach seize up with a hundred emotions at once. He keeps his eyes down, staring at the phone in his hand.
Mark should just look over at Wardo and say something casual about the storm or their flights or David Hasslehoff. And then Wardo will say something casual back and it will all be fine and casual and cool and the road will get cleared up and they will go to the airport and tromp to the terminal in the snow and casually wave goodbye to each other and OH how happy everyone will be for him and Wardo to not be hating each other, to just be the kind of casual strangers who shared a ride to the airport and talked about snow and useless design features in cars, haha, isn't that silly.
Yes. That's what Mark should do. Turn all this casual and meaningless and make it so he and Wardo don't hurt any more.
But he ... he can't do that. He feels almost like he'd rather keep hurting than to have Wardo become some casual acquaintance he shakes hands with every year at a random fundraiser.
So Mark listens to the status updates and picture posting of three girls Dustin is trying to hook up with and stares out the window at the blur of snow instead.
Eduardo Saverin isn't so crazy about the weather or the silent company himself, you know.
The British voice doesn't sound so chirpy to Mark now. Now it sounds almost sullen. (he might be projecting a little.)
Mark Zuckerberg thought some people just LOVED the East Coast and Cambridge and New York and all the great business opportunities here.
Mark hears a frustrated sputter in the same second he hears Wardo clicking away. Eduardo Saverin can't seem to remember who it was that suggested they expand to Stanford because of Silicon Valley. WHO WAS THAT AGAIN?
Now that's a step too far. Mark has his mouth open to actually respond (you know, with his VOICE) when the car spits out a new update.
Dustin Moskovitz Yeah, that was totally Wardo. I was there.
Chris Hughes just wants to take this moment to remind the CEO and inventor of Facebook how Facebook works. PEOPLE CAN SEE THIS.
Mark finds he really doesn't give a fuck.
Eduardo Saverin By the way, I don’t know what this newsfeed feature is, but it’s creepy. Information overload and invasive of people's privacy.
Dustin Moskovitz really thinks you're only saying that because the car is currently reading it to you. Doesn't the fact I programmed it with the dulcet tones of one Colin "Mr. Darcy" Firth help?
Eduardo Saverin I can only imagine the girl you were trying to impress with this wanted to nail Firth.
Chris Hughes well, really, who doesn't want to nail Colin Firth?
Dustin Moskovitz TOO MUCH INFO, TOO MUCH INFO.
Mark Zuckerberg Colin Firth is so overrated.
Chris Hughes Don't be angry just because Wardo correctly pointed out how creepy the newsfeed is. Do we really need minute by minute updates like this?
Mark Zuckerberg reminds you father knows best.
This stupid back and forth bickering that's happening without a word being said - Mark has no idea why he can't stop smiling as the car rattles off the back and forth. He has no idea why he feels so...right.
But there's one thing he's sure of. This time, Mark swears, Wardo's laugh is much louder and much longer.
Traffic starts to move.
Mark's almost startled to be reminded they're in a car, they're driving somewhere, not just stuck in the snow.
Wardo puts the car back into drive and the vehicle starts to inch forward. They're almost at the mouth of the tunnel now.
Well, Mark thinks, that's the end of that. They're on their way and they'll be through the tunnel and then fifteen minutes from the airport and even if that takes thirty minutes they'll still get there in plenty of time and he and Wardo will get on their flights and that's the end of that. They'll never talk about the car and the status updates and how fun it was to feel like the four of them were back to arguing and brainstorming in the suite at Kirkland and how Wardo laughed ever again.
Great. Mark rolls his phone in his hand and looks out the window, away from Wardo. Just the way it should be. Great.
Dustin Moskovitz the car reads out no status updates in the last two minutes is making me worry they've killed each other.
Chris Hughes that's what you're worried about? What if the distraction of A CAR THAT READS FACEBOOK TO YOU has made them crash? Eduardo? Mark? Hello? Hello?
Wardo never takes his eyes off the road but it's like Mark can FEEL him rolling his eyes and Mark knows exactly what he means. Mark's reminded of how often it seemed like that used to happen: the two of them communicating without speaking a word, being in complete agreement, just knowing what the other was thinking.
So he knows just how to respond. Mark Zuckerberg oh please, do you seriously think either one of us is stupid enough to mess with this thing while the car is moving? We were stuck in traffic. Moving now.
Dustin Moskovitz wonders if Mark REALLY wants the answer to how stupid I think he is?
The weirdest part of the laughter this time is that it's coming from Mark.
They have one last chance.
One last chance to exit before they get stuck inside the tunnel and then are on the other side of never coming back.
The car is moving, the snow is flying. Mark didn't count on any of this when he flew out here for one day with Chris and Dustin. He didn't even count on it when he got into a car with Wardo to drive out into the snow. He didn't count on stupid status updates and feeling like could HEAR Wardo again.
Mark has one last chance. His fingers are flying before he can think again.
Mark Zuckerberg takes back what he said about the company. And he kinda wishes they were still stuck.
He hears the update come through the speakers with no inflection and he stares down in his lap and can't make himself look over at Wardo and since he didn't say it, he can almost pretend it's like he didn't type or think it at all.
Just as Mark lifts his head up to possibly look over at Wardo, he sees a trail of brake lights from the cars ahead of them and he knows what that means. They’re slowing, they’re stopping.
Wardo puts the car in park and reaches, again, for his phone.
Mark gulps. Waits. Listens to Wardo tapping out a message.
And then, over the car speakers, he hears the very last thing he ever wanted to hear.
Sean Parker is wondering just what the fuck is going on right now.
It’s as if all the air has been sucked out of the car, as if the conversation that was somehow happening without words is now really silenced.
Mark is so fucking glad he wasn’t looking at Wardo, because he doesn’t want to see his face fall, because just hearing Wardo suddenly stop typing and set his phone down is bad enough.
Dustin Moskovitz is pretty sure if it was any of, ya know, your business your name would be mentioned, Sean.
Sean Parker So, if I am reading this right: Mark is trapped with Eduardo in a snowstorm in car that reads Facebook outloud? Fuck, I’d be pissed too.
Dustin Moskovitz you have no idea what you’re talking about or what’s happening.
Sean Parker can read status updates all by himself, thanks. Now what the hell is happening with the CEO of my company?
Wardo makes a small, strangled sound that seems to echo endlessly though the car. Mark feels sick.
It’s like Sean is in the car with them, like everything is happening again – like Mark is standing there stupidly in the rental house while water trails down Wardo’s neck and Sean is smiling that feral, mocking grin and Mark does nothing nothing nothing and –
He starts typing without a second thought, his fingers flying furiously over the keys. All the anger at Sean he’s kept pushed down under a professional façade, all the anger he put away so he could be the CEO, so he could take care of business, so he never had to think too closely about how he’d just sat there while Sean humiliated Wardo, while Wardo was just trying to talk to Mark, it all comes boiling over.
Mark wishes – oh how he wishes – the pleasant sounding voice of Colin Firth could get across how angry he is, could scream what he’s typing. More than that, he wishes he could scream it in Sean’s face.
Mark Zuckerberg YOUR company? You’re fucking kidding me, right? This isn’t YOUR company. This was never YOUR company. This is OUR company – me and Chris and Dustin and, yes, Eduardo. Check the fucking masthead, asshole.
And there it is. The silence in the car grows even more profound, but Mark hears Wardo take one, long, shaky breath.
The next two statuses reel off in perfect time, one neatly after the other.
Chris Hughes REMINDS YOU THAT PEOPLE CAN SEE YOUR STATUS UPDATES.
Dustin Moskovitz Not Wardo’s. Mark should tell Wardo what he did to his profile.
OK. Well. Maybe it turns out that was actually the last thing Mark ever wanted to hear.
They were just laughing about Colin Firth and Knight Rider and discussing the newsfeed and ... see, this is why Mark is so damn uncomfortable with people. Things can just shift on you, pivot in a split-second before you can do anything about it. It's not fair and it doesn't make sense. It's not like code and you can't control it and, well, Mark decides he'll at least look at Wardo. And then maybe he'll think of the right thing to say.
But when he finally raises his head and actually looks at Wardo, he finds he's determinedly looking down at his phone. Looking down at his phone and typing. Oh, come on now!
(yet he understands the impulse, he understands the fear of looking up and not knowing what you'll see, of opening your mouth and not being sure what will actually come out.)
Eduardo Saverin Yes, Mark. Why don't you tell Eduardo what you did to his profile?
OK, fine. Fine, fine, fine. Mark kinda relishes the opportunity to type it out, to see it on the screen on his phone, to not worry about stumbling over the words or turning it into a fight. He’s good at what’s on a screen, after all, he’s good at what he can type out. So that’s just what he’ll do.
Mark Zuckerberg just thought that...well, I didn't want people, I didn't want gawkers, OR THE BLOG GAWKER FOR THAT MATTER, to think they could just go digging around.
Eduardo Saverin I signed a non-disclosure agreement, asshole, even if I WANTED to say something I couldn't!
Mark Zuckerberg it wasn't about THAT! I just didn't want people ... I didn't want them to think you were a petulant asshole like the Winkelvii. I didn't want stories about how you were greedy, how you ran away and went into hiding because you were a loser, about how you didn't contribute anything, I didn't want…
Mark finds there aren’t enough words for everything he didn’t want. He updates before he can say anything worse.
Eduardo Saverin wait a minute...is this...are you trying to tell me you thought this was a way to protect me or something?
Mark Zuckerberg so your profile has a different level of security, that's all. I know you never really use it much and, well, I just put another layer of privacy over your profile, you can find people, but it makes it harder for people to find you. Well, almost impossible. It's not a big deal.
Chris Hughes NOT A BIG DEAL! You can't do that to people's profiles, Mark. Privacy is our biggest PR problem and if you go around
Dustin Moskovitz C'mon, Chris. Wardo's not people.
The car's voice is practically vibrating in Mark's ears. (It really is a sweet piece of software, Mark thinks idly it has a consistent, steady tone, constant updates, and no glitches. It really is like hearing an audiobook narrated. Except it's like we're having a conversation, an actual chat, or something.) His hands are shaking and he holds onto his phone so hard his knuckles are white. He's back to being afraid of looking at Wardo, but he can hear him breathing hard.
He steadies his hands. He types again.
Mark Zuckerberg oh and I made it impossible for Sean to get to your profile. If he's logged in, and he's always logged in, you don't exist to him. If he's not logged in he gets the same extra layer that hides you. Yes, Sean, that wasn't just in your head. The paranoia was real that time.
Eduardo Saverin Mark. Mark. Why would you do that?
Mark Zuckerberg I couldn't stand the idea of him selling your pictures to TMZ or trying to prove you were out to get him using your vacation pictures. He'd do that, you know. I didn't even want him to SEE you, OK?
And this time? All that typing, all those words he got to think out and not just blurt out, hear read back to him - it makes Mark sure. So this time Mark is brave enough to turn and look right at Wardo.
And he's looking right back.
Wardo's eyes. Mark doesn't want to be, like, all ridiculous and sappy about it, he really doesn't, but you could always read Wardo's whole damn life in his eyes. Even Mark, who sometimes had trouble telling what people were feeling when they actually told him, “Mark, I am feeling…” could read every feeling Wardo was broadcasting through his eyes. The few times today Mark has actually been brave enough to venture a look into Wardo's eyes he was met with a shuttered, blank stare.
But not now.
The last time Wardo's eyes had been this full of feeling and staring at Mark it had been over the deposition table and they had said to Mark, achingly, this, me and you, is over forever and you killed it with your bare hands, I hope you're fucking happy.
Now though, now Wardo's eyes are staring right at him and they look almost ... hopeful.
That can't be right, can it?
Suddenly, Mark is hyperaware of everything happening around him. He can hear the wind howling outside, the snow pelting the windows, the low hum of the heater.
And then there’s him and Wardo, holding onto their phones like they're drowning men and the phones are life preservers, staring at each other, unblinking.
Wardo gulps, Mark's hypnotized by his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. Without even really thinking about it, Mark reaches out his free hand. He reaches out to, well, he’s not really sure what he’s about to do.
Mark encircles Wardo's wrist. Squeezes, feels Wardo's pulse throbbing through his skin.
It's suddenly way too hot in this car. Mark feels dizzy.
If this whole experience has been all about not saying things, about letting proxy voices speak for you, this has never been more abundantly clear than in this second. Wardo's eyes locked on Mark's and his skin warm under Mark's fingertips - Mark stares right back, holds onto him.
And look, there's, there's a lot he and Wardo never said to each other, back at Harvard, out in Palo Alto, back when. Mark spends a lot of time forgetting everything they never said. They never talked about how more than once freshman year Mark would collapse into his bed after coding marathons even if Wardo was already there (because he'd been hanging out and studying in Mark's bed, how normal best friends do) and they'd wake up curled around each other in a heap of books and papers, more often than not with his face pressed into Wardo’s neck, and roll apart without looking at each other. They never talked about the way Wardo slid towards him the night of FaceMash, his face open and eager, his tone soft I'm here for you.
Yeah, there's a lot of things he and Wardo never said. But here they are, somehow given this weird chance to talk without words and it suddenly seems so much easier, so much more possible. Here they are, with Wardo's pulse racing in his grip.
Wardo doesn't move for an endless moment and then, with a firm yank, pulls his wrist free.
Now Mark looks away. Now Mark looks down. He turns and presses his forehead the passenger side window. It's freezing cold against his skin (which, for some unknown reason, still feels fever bright.) And then, impossibly, Mark hears the voice, low and smooth, coming out of the car speakers yet again, surprising him one more time.
Eduardo Saverin is sorry.
Mark gives a shaky exhale of his own. He can't bring himself to lift his head up. He squeezes his eyes shut. He doesn't want to hear anymore.
Eduardo Saverin means he's sorry for everything. Not just. I'm sorry for freezing the accounts. I was SO angry but that wasn't the way to handle it. I'm sorry I wouldn't hear your points about advertisers. And I'm sorry I didn't ... I'm sorry I didn't listen to what you said to me in the hallway that night.
Mark presses his forehead even tighter against the ice cold window. He feels a strange burning sensation at the back of his eyes, but he keeps them shut tight, he can't imagine what it might be.
Mark takes a ragged breath, it's almost like it hurts to breathe. How can that be? Why does it feel like someone is squeezing his chest? What's wrong with him? Why won't the snow stop? Why can't they get out of traffic? Where is the rest if Dustin’s newsfeed, chattering away? (Mark suspects Dustin may have done some quick programming to get everyone off his newsfeed…) Why won't the stupid Facebook car update so it doesn't feel like the silence is going to crush him?
And then he feels Wardo's hand, open-palmed, on his shoulder.
He shudders at the touch, presses himself even closer to the window. Away, away, away from Wardo's hand on his shoulder, a startlingly familiar feeling he swears he forgot. (how often had Wardo leaned in, clapped him on the shoulder, said something meant only for his ears, something teasing or reassuring? How had he never noticed that most people didn't do that, didn’t get in his space, didn’t try to reach out to him no matter what? That he didn't let most people do that?)
Wardo pulls his hand back, recoiling from Mark's shudder.
Mark doesn't know what else to do. With trembling hands, he pulls out his phone and opens his eyes, blinking hard, pretending he can't feel the sting of tears. If no one else is gonna make the fucking car talk, he'd better.
Mark Zuckerberg you shouldn't apologize. It was me, I was the one who did it.
It feels like it takes him a really long time to type that out. But Wardo's fingers are flying from the second the word shouldn't echoes through the speakers.
Eduardo Saverin yes, I should. We both messed up, Mark. We both made mistakes. We can both be sorry. We both could have listened to each other more.
Mark can't believe that someone is saying this. (well, OK, the car is saying this, but the point remains the same. As a matter of fact, it seems MORE significant, because it's out there now, out in the open, not just their own voices in an echo chamber.) He can't believe that Wardo, the person who stared at him across the deposition table with eyes that were an endless ocean of regret and recrimination, is saying this. He has to know why.
Mark Zuckerberg why are you
That's all he can get out.
Eduardo Saverin I don't want to spend all my life being angry. I don't want to spend my life hiding from you, wondering what you're doing. I don’t want to always miss being your friend, to always wonder…well, we made mistakes but we're grown-ups, we can apologize.
Mark is so caught up he doesn't even realize he's actually updated his status and isn't just thinking in his head. Mark Zuckerberg is sorry too.
Dustin Moskovitz holy shit is this real life?
Is it? Mark wonders, looking at the phone in his hand, still feeling the imprint of Wardo's hand on his back, unable to look up, unable to open his mouth and SPEAK. Can this possibly be real life? Did he and Wardo crash into a snowbank listening to the car narrating and he's actually died from hypothermia?
Well, fuck it. If he's died from hypothermia he might as well keep typing until heaven shows up.
Mark Zuckerberg I'm sorry I didn't try harder to really talk to you about investors and I'm sorry I didn't tell you Sean was at the house and I'm sorry I let you sign those papers without even - I'm sorry for fucking everything up, for ruining everything.
Eduardo Saverin Mark. What happened was not all your fault.
And - oh - God. Someone else, someone besides Mark, must have gasped. That noise couldn't have come from him, that small gasp that's on the verge of a sob that's a release of all this pain he didn't know he had burning up his skin.
But then there's Wardo's hand on his shoulder again, light as a feather, trembling a little even.
And while Wardo’s touch does make him want to shudder, this time it's not in the same way. Mark doesn't recoil this time. He turns in his seat, to look straight at Wardo.
Mark wonders, but only for a second, if Wardo can see his whole life in his eyes. Then he doesn't have time to wonder, because Wardo, his hand still on Mark's shoulder, is bringing his face closer and closer to Mark's and Wardo's eyes are fluttering shut and his mouth is open, just a little bit, and Mark knows, as HE leans in towards Wardo, Mark knows (oh - God) what's about to happen.
The shrill, sharp blare of a car horn behind them stops them the second before their lips touch.
Traffic, it seems, is moving.
Wardo pulls away with a startled jerk, his eyes sliding from Mark's face guiltily, as if he can't believe what he was about to do. Mark falls back in his seat and the honking goes on and on. (What the fuck are you honking so much for? Mark thinks, his thoughts dark and bitter Do you think we're suddenly going to be able to just get out of this mess without any problems? Mark's not sure if he means the traffic-jammed-snow-packed road to the tunnel or his own suddenly very complicated life.
Wardo grips the steering wheel at ten and two again, his back going straight and his eyes focused on the crawl of cars ahead. It looks as if he's going to pretend nothing happened, which is fine by Mark, because nothing did happen and they're on their way to the airport and their flights and they don't have to be mad at each other and they said they were sorry and this is a perfectly nice way to end things and maybe they can be Facebook friends and grab a coffee anytime they're in the same city and it'll all be just fine.
For some reason, Mark's chest still feels really tight.
And it doesn't get any better when, less than sixty feet later, traffic grinds to a halt again. See, Mark's subconscious mutters to everyone and no one all at once we barely moved at all.
But it somehow feels like it was a great distance indeed.
Mark just wants to sit in silence, staring straight ahead, pretending Wardo isn't there. Mark just wants to stick to the original plan. The original, simple plan. The car, of course, has other ideas.
Chris Hughes doesn't know what's happening and doesn't want to interfere, but he just really hopes everything and everyone is OK.
Dustin Moskovitz thinks that's a really nice sentiment and everything but HE NEEDS MOM AND DAD TO TELL HIM EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT AND THERE ARE NO MONSTERS UNDER THE BED.
Mark wants to laugh even though it still feels like he can't breathe and he thinks that's why he doesn't notice Wardo texting away.
Eduardo Saverin did you mean it, Mark? What you said in Palo Alto? Did you mean that?
Mark wishes he could pretend he doesn't remember. But he's too far into this, that British voice calling everything out into the open, everything he and Wardo had locked up tight and never said, so if he can't say it now, he'll never get the chance, he'll never do it.
Mark Zuckerberg You not being there was not an excuse for what I did. But...of course I did. It would have made everything so much easier...everything was always so much easier when you were around.
Mark somehow feels like maybe that wasn't quite what he wanted to say.
Eduardo's fingers are furiously mashing the buttons in response, so Mark knows that wasn't quite what he wanted to say.
Eduardo Saverin Easier? Easier! Because you wouldn't have had to wait for the money to be deposited? Because then I could have seen you fall over every thing Sean did with my own eyes in real time and gotten the message sooner? Because it was so much fucking effort otherwise?
How does Mark keeping saying the wrong thing even without any words? He tries to think before he responds, tries to compose something that will keep this calm and rational, stop it from turning into the screaming match he was so afraid of. Instead, he dashes out his first thought, the response he is most embarrassed of.
Mark Zuckerberg better. I meant better. It was always so much better with you around, Wardo.
The car has said Wardo before, through Chris and Dustin's updates. There's no possible way Colin Firth's voice has changed at all, the word is the word is the word. But now it is Mark’s word. Now it is Mark “saying” Wardo and, well, that was always different.
And Wardo seems to know it too, because as the status, as better and Wardo ring out, Mark hears him make that oh - God gasp and Mark wants to tell him, wants to say, I know, I know what it feels like: to let something that hurts you, to let something you didn’t even know you were holding onto so tightly, go.
Let it go. Maybe they've both let enough go, maybe it's time to see where things can go.
He's brave enough to reach out and touch Wardo's shoulder now, mirroring Wardo's gesture. And, just like he did when their roles were reversed, Wardo trembles a little under Mark's touch.
This is all very moving and delicate and Mark really is taken in with all the wonder and realization and connection of the moment. Really.
But then he thinks about the looming tunnel, the possibility that at any moment the guy behind them will start honking and insist they drive another ten feet. And that's when he knows Chris was wrong. There are only two options and they are: wait or act. Mark's so fucking tired of waiting.
By the time Wardo has turned to look at him, Mark's already sliding his hand up his neck. Wardo turns all the way in his seat to look at Mark directly and Mark finds his fingers grazing Wardo's face. If Wardo's surprised by this, he doesn't let it show. Instead, his eyes bright on Mark's, he dips his chin, just the tiniest bit, and sucks Mark's thumb into his mouth.
Mark groans at the contact, feels every part of his body light up. And Mark wishes, he really does, that he knew what happened next, that he remembered who leaned in and who reached out for who, but it's a blur - it's all a blur until Wardo's mouth is on his and they are exchanging frantic, open-mouthed kisses, clutching at each other, trying to get as close as possible.
Fumbling in the front seat of a car makes Mark feel 15 again, but he never made-out with anyone like this at 15, never with this wild hunger. (OK, Mark has never made out with anyone like this, 15 or not.) He feels Wardo wrapping a tight hand around the back of his neck and he has an instant flash of him doing the same thing while he fucks him. (Wardo’s gonna fuck him. Oh - God.) He groans again, the sound lost in Wardo's mouth.
He's licking down Wardo's throat, thinking about how he wants to lick so much more than his neck, when he hears it. It's Wardo's voice. For the first time since all this started, since standing out in front of Kirkland on this clear morning, he finally hears Wardo's voice.
"Mark," he sighs.
"Wardo," Mark says in return.
They've found just the right words for their voices.
When the car honks this time, it takes them more than a few seconds to pull apart. But the honking won't stop and traffic does seem to be moving and, well...
The greatest sound Mark's ever heard, and he means it the absolute greatest, is the soft tik-tik-tik he hears next. It's the sound of the turn signal.
Wardo's signaling that he is turning. There's almost no one headed back into the city at this point. They're so close to the tunnel entrance and cars are backed up inside that it's really not that hard to inch out of their lane and turn around.
Turn around. Headed away from the airport, away from the tunnel, away from their flights, away from everything they'd been afraid to say, away from being stuck only in the past. Now they're headed somewhere entirely new, somewhere they've never been before.
Mark can't wait to find out where they end up.
Mark Zuckerberg Dustin, you'd better hope this talking car can handle turning maneuvering in the snow or else Chris is going to have PR nightmare on his hands.
Chris Hughes let me assure you after today I have a feeling a car crash would be the least of my PR concerns.
Dustin Moskovitz OMFG DOES THIS MEAN WHAT I THINK IT MEANS??? THE FAB FOUR RIDES AGAIN??!!
Mark Zuckerberg yes, Dustin. There's no monsters under the bed anymore and Mom and Dad are coming home.
…through the wind, through the rain, the snow, the wind, the rain
you've got, you've got my, my love
heart and soul…
Almost a week later, Mark and Eduardo are again headed to the airport in Dustin's car. This time, though, they start with a big breakfast at the greasy spoon where Chris had laid out Mark’s options. (Mark has developed a secret fondness for the place. He’s thinking about buying it as a present for Wardo.)
Over eggs and waffles, Wardo, Mark, Chris and Dustin discuss if the newsfeed is creepy or not and how they might implement it while also fighting about what the next big screen comic book adaptation should be. ("No more old shit," Dustin argues "do something new. What the fuck do we need to see another Spider-Man for?" Mark shakes his head. "Nah, sometimes the classics are best. Sometimes it’s good to see things in a new way." Then he and Wardo make eyes at each other and Wardo leans over to kiss maple syrup off the side of Mark’s mouth and Dustin fake-gags and Mark is definitely buying this place.)
This time, though, they walk out to the car holding hands and get distracted kissing after they throw their bags (hastily assembled "snow survival" kits, built from the hotel gift shop and a tourist store a block over from the hotel) in the trunk. Chris clears his throat and they reluctantly pull apart.
"This was a truly unexpected visit of awesome," Chris says, smiling at them.
"Hanging out will be much easier when I live in this hemisphere again," Wardo promises, throwing a teasing sideways glance at Mark.
"Which will be soon," Mark supplies, unnecessarily. (since, as Dustin would say, "Duh.")
"You gotta give it up for this car," Dustin says, patting his car affectionately.
"I think we should give it up for the programmer who thought to lock down our statuses the second the phrase 'Knight Rider' came up," replies Wardo.
Mark had never been prouder of Dustin than when he decided the world didn't need to see all his and Wardo's status updates and thus went into their settings and set changed them to be readable only by top level coding staff. Not only had this hid them from any public eye and their entire friend’s lists, but it had kept them visible to Dustin, which kept them updating through Dustin's beta newsfeed, which, as it had turned out, is what had kept them talking at all.
(And it was Mark's own fault for letting Sean be classified as top level coding staff. Dustin had assumed top level coding staff was only him, Mark, and five programmers who not only signed confidentiality agreements but were so into programming and code they never used their actual Facebook and they wouldn’t notice if Olivia Munn started posting nude pictures. Once Dustin figured out Sean was on the list, he made sure he wasn't anymore. And, just for good measure, he’d coded out the five other programmers. It really had been just the two of them talking only to each other. OK, with Dustin and Chris following along. But, c’mon. Dustin and Chris aren’t people.)
"Hey man, Facebook has more than one boy fucking genius, OK?" Dustin preens.
For the thousandth time in the past five days Mark asks "You saved it though, right? You saved all the conversation?"
And, for the thousandth time, Dustin smiles and says, "Yes, Mark. I have the complete transcript of your entire reunion via status update."
He and Wardo share a secret look and a small laugh and Mark, yet again, marvels that he can have this, that this is happening.
"And," Dustin says, adding something to his response for the first time "I'm sure it will make for riveting reading at your wedding. As your best men, Chris and I can stage a dramatic reading. We can hire, I dunno, Colin Firth to play Mark and, oh, Spider-Man to play Wardo. Or,” his tone grows momentarily serious “it can be part of your vows.”
There’s a moment of silence as it all sinks in, everything that’s happened in the past few days, and Mark squeezes Wardo’s hand and Wardo squeezes back and the sky is a brght, bright blue and Mark and his three best friends beam at each other and laugh.
It actually takes a minute for Colin Firth to start narrating.
Dustin Moskovitz this is your Facebook Newsfeed. Colin begins.
Chris Hughes wonders if any of you programming geniuses have thought about adding a Facebook chat feature to the site? Didn't we just discover Facebook can be a good place to have a conversation?
Mark Zuckerberg has added 24 new pictures to the album "I Refuse to Call This Album 'Snowpocalypse' or Any Other Snow Related Pun"
Dustin Moskovitz has commented on a picture he is tagged in: Chris and I are sorry we had to beat you so badly in the snowball fight, but since you wouldn't take us sledding like a nice Mom and Dad…
[They're both booked on a flight to Singapore.
(Dustin is calling it the honeymoon.)
"No snow," Wardo had promised, nuzzling Mark's neck as they lay side by side in the hotel room.
"No snow in California either," Mark had retorted.
"OK, well, I’ll need help packing, how does that sound instead?"
"That," Mark said, rolling over to trail kisses down Wardo’s side, "sounds amazing."
From the way Wardo arched up into his kisses, Mark thought he must agree.]
When you're expecting a talking-Facebook-car and you happen to be the #1 boy genius at Facebook? You can program a newsfeed beta to go in exactly the right order.
Mark wants to hear the car read out one last thing, just so he can watch Wardo's face change, just so he can hear it: out there, being a true thing in the world.
Eduardo Saverin is coming home. And he's happy.
Mark Zuckerberg is now in a relationship with Eduardo Saverin.
And Wardo smiles like he's never going to stop, his eyes filled with a hundred lives they're going to live, and Mark leans over and turns the feed off.