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Never Marry for Money (You Can Borrow it Cheaper)

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Eduardo wakes up to the sound of his phone beeping somewhere in his room. His head feels like it's been stuffed with smelly rags and he can taste his own foul breath. He rolls over to grab his cell phone and runs into someone.

He blinks and opens his eyes all the way. Next to him, Mark lets out a little snuffling sound and turns over to press his face into Eduardo's shoulder.

"What?" Eduardo says aloud. As Eduardo lies there, frozen with shock, Mark throws an arm over Eduardo's waist. Mark is warm and kind of oddly peaceful-looking in sleep, and he fits neatly into Eduardo’s side.

Eduardo's phone beeps again. The sound is like a knife being driven through Eduardo's ear and his head throbs in time to the sound. Eduardo carefully disentangles himself from Mark, though he remembers from college that when Mark sleeps, he sleeps like the dead. Mark, he sees, is not wearing a shirt. Neither is Eduardo. He swallows and rationalizes that there’s probably a good reason for that.

Eduardo gets out of bed and realizes that they must be in Mark's room. It's seriously a huge room – Mark must have gotten the best suite in the hotel. Their clothes are strewn all over the floor like pieces of very expensive litter. Eduardo locates his jacket from the night before (draped over the back of an armchair) and rummages in the inside pocket for his phone. He pulls it out and sees,  123 Missed Messages.

"What?" he repeats, now really confused. He opens up his messages and scrolls to the bottom where there are like fifteen from Dustin alone.

Wardo did you get back tot he hotel alright

Omg sean just did the stpidt thin

Wardooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Pls dont kill mark

Hes th eone that pays me

Wardo srsly if u kill im i willbe made.

I meant mad.

There are a few more, but the ones from around two and three that morning are even more incomprehensible. Eduardo ignores them and moves on to Chris's texts.

 How dare you leave me with Dustin

He keeps singing spice girls

If I kill him no court will ever convict

No seriously Wardo don't kill Mark

Wardo?

Eduardo rubs his face and sinks down onto the armchair. The bar had been Dustin's idea – “We're in Vegas!" he'd pointed out. "We have to get wasted!"––but he hadn't told Eduardo that Mark was coming. (Really, Eduardo should have realized since the reason they were in Vegas was for some bullshit meeting with new investors.) Anyway.

All Eduardo remembers is drinking a lot and then arguing with Mark outside for a while. How they got from there to sprawled out on Mark's bed is still a mystery.

He checks the next few messages. They’re from one of his cousins whom he rarely, if ever, talks to.

 Eduardo congrats!!!!!!!

Mom says congrats too!!!!!!!

Why weren't we invited????

OMG DID YOU ELOPE

Eduardo drops his phone, his fingers suddenly gone numb. With a sinking feeling in his stomach, he gets up and goes back over to the bed. Sitting on the bedside table are two gold wedding bands. Eduardo sinks down on the edge of the bed and says, "Oh, fuck."
 
Eduardo wonders if this is what a panic attack feels like. His hands do feel a little numb and he's kind of hyperventilating a little. He picks up one of the rings with shaking hands and tries sliding it onto his left ring finger. It fits perfectly.

Eduardo gets up and returns to the chair to pick up his phone. He looks through the notifications again and sees that five are from his mother. He shudders but opens the first one anyway.

 Eduardo auntie dolores said you got married. I know this is not true because you would have told me.

Eduardo are you ignoring me.

Eduardo please answer me

Eduardo do not make me angry

Is she jewish at least

The remaining texts are from a variety of people – old friends, various family members, and even one from Christy that is surprisingly sedate.

He puts his pants and shirt back on, feeling awkwardly exposed. He can't find his tie, though he's pretty sure he had been wearing one the night before. Once he feels less horribly naked, he goes to the bed and shakes Mark.

"Mark," he says. Mark doesn't even so much as twitch. "Mark, you asshole, wake up."

Mark opens his eyes and says thickly, "Wardo?"

"You lost the right to call me that five years ago, Mark, but that's not really the point right now. Mark." Eduardo shoves his left hand into Mark's face. Mark's eyes focus on it and he frowns.

"When did you get married?" he asks. If Eduardo didn't know better, he'd say Mark sounds almost betrayed.

"Last night, apparently!" Eduardo leans over and grabs the other ring. "To you!"

Mark takes the ring and looks at it. "We got married?" Eduardo stares in disbelief as Mark slides the ring onto his hand and holds it up thoughtfully. "Maybe we just bought rings as a joke."

"I received over a hundred text messages last night from people who all seem to be under the impression that we have joined in holy matrimony. Which is another thing!" Eduardo puts his hands on his hips. "How do you think they found out?"

Mark's gaze travels across the room and lands on the laptop sitting on the desk. "I may have an idea," he says.

Eduardo puts it together and has to step back so that he doesn't hit Mark. Mark's phone rings a moment later, shrill and horrifically loud.

Mark puts it on speakerphone and says, "Hello?"

"Mark, it's Jamie," says a female voice on the other end. "I thought you should know that the site is about to crash."

Mark sits bolt upright and says, "What? Why?" Eduardo snorts and folds his arms across his chest.

"Are you seriously asking that question, Mark? Everyone with an internet connection has been trying to access your profile since AP reported your shotgun marriage this morning."

"They what?" demands Eduardo, forgetting himself.

"Is that the missus? Mr. Saverin, you probably don't want to go outside today," says Jamie. Eduardo decides he hates her.

"Well," Mark says. "This complicates things."
 
Eduardo sits down in front of the laptop and wakes it up. Mark's Facebook page is open and he has over a thousand notifications.

"Holy shit," Eduardo says. He scrolls down a little and sees,  Mark Zuckerberg is now married to Eduardo Saverin. "Holy shit," he repeats.

"What?"

"You have more than a thousand notifications because we listed ourselves as married last night." Eduardo rubs his face and tries not to panic. "My father is going to have a fit."

"Why? You're married to one of the richest men in the United States," Mark says.

Eduardo looks at him. Mark stares back. He's still not wearing a shirt. It's distracting.

"Could you put a shirt on?" Eduardo asks. "We need to talk about this and I can't if you're shirtless."

"All right," Mark says. He gets out of bed and picks up his crumpled white button-down shirt. He puts it on and asks, "Happy?"

"Ecstatic." Eduardo logs into his email and sends a quick message to his assistant, telling her not to say anything to anyone. "What do you think we should do?"

"I think we should call Chris," says Mark.


*****

Chris, when he arrives, looks hungover to fuck. "Hi," he says to Mark and then he sees Eduardo. "Um?"
 
"Yeah," Eduardo says. "We have a lot to talk about."

Chris rubs his face and says, "Okay. Great. Should Dustin be here? Is this something he should know?"

"No," Eduardo says before Mark can open his mouth.

"Gee, Eduardo, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were embarrassed by me," says Mark.

Chris holds up his hands. "Okay, obviously you didn't kill Mark last night, which was our first theory, but something happened. What, did you guys get into a fight? Neither of you have visible bruises."
 
"We got married," Mark says bluntly.

Chris takes a step back, looking flabbergasted. "I think I need to sit down for this," he says.
 
Chris staggers to the sofa and collapses on it. He props his elbows on his knees and drops his head into his hands. Eduardo fiddles with the place where his shirt's bottom button should be. He desperately wants coffee.

Mark picks up the laptop and sets it down in front of Chris. "I don't know if we actually did or if we decided to pull some sort of elaborate prank last night, but the point is that the damage is done."

Chris looks up, seeming reluctant, and looks at the screen. Then he groans and says, "Mark, how many people know?"

"According to Jamie, AP ran something on it earlier this morning," Mark says. Chris's normally pleasant face contorts with rage and he clenches his fists.

"Goddammit, Mark!" he shouts. "And you!" He turns to point an accusing finger at Eduardo. "You're supposed to be responsible!  How could you let this happen?"

"In his defense," Mark says, "he was very, very drunk."

Eduardo gives Mark a poisonous look. "Thank you, Mark," he says dryly. "You weren't much better off."

"Okay," Chris says. "We have to go through this in a logical fashion. We need to figure out what, exactly, you geniuses decided to do last night. We need to find out whether it was a joke or a real wedding. If it's fake, we'll say that we were hacked. If it's real, we need to issue a statement so this doesn't look like a Britney Spears wedding."

Eduardo opens his mouth to defend Britney, but Chris glares at him so hard that Eduardo thinks the better of it.

"And then," Chris says, an evil glint in his eye, "the two of you are going to do the rounds. Ellen, Leno, whoever will take you. We will come up with a story and you will stick with it, even to your own parents."

"I take it divorce is off the table," Mark says. Eduardo feels a brief flash of irritation. If anyone should be eager to get the fuck out of this 'relationship,' it should be Eduardo. What does Mark have to complain about? Eduardo is a fucking catch.

"Of course it's off the table!" Chris shouts. Eduardo feels guilty; they've broken the most stable one of them all. "Do you realize what a divorce would do to your reputations? It will make both of you look unstable and, more than anything, it will make Eduardo look like a money-grubbing asshole.”
 
Eduardo’s heart sinks; Chris is absolutely right on that front. He knows people usually expect him to be more of a Mark-hating asshole when they meet him and a drunken marriage and quick divorce could ruin him for years.  “Shit,” he says.
 
“This is bad enough as it is without the two of you getting a hurried and furtive divorce! You will be the not-so-secret love that dare not speak its name and you will be convincing. Am I clear?" Chris glares at the two of them.

"Yes," Eduardo says and they both turn to look at Mark.

Mark stares at them in confusion and then says, "Yes."

"Great," Chris says. "Now let's see if we can find a marriage certificate somewhere."

The three of them disperse to opposite corners of the room. Eduardo slides his hand under the sofa, hoping and praying he doesn't find anything. He's still half-hoping it's some kind of elaborate joke (he wouldn't put it past Dustin to do something equally stupid and insane, though he's not sure that Dustin would have had the capacity to do anything last night).

Then, to his great horror, his fingers brush up against what feels like a piece of paper. He pinches the corner between his thumb and forefinger and withdraws it.

It reads, Certificate of Marriage, and at the bottom are his and Mark's signatures.
 
"Hey, guys?" Eduardo says. He's impressed by how steady his voice is. "I found it."

Chris takes it and reads, "A Little White Chapel's Tunnel of Vows." He looks up. "You guys drove last night?"

"That's what you're choosing to focus on?" demands Eduardo, throwing his hands in the year. "Seriously?"

"I think we may have called for a car service," Mark says. He hands Chris a business card. Chris looks at it and purses his lips.

"I'll call them and find your driver. Get dressed. One of you need to tell Dustin what's going on before he accidentally answers his phone and says something stupid to a reporter." Chris pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and moves into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

"I'll do it," Eduardo says immediately. He wants nothing more than to get out of Mark's room and the unfortunate reminders of the night before. He checks his pockets for his key card, then leaves Mark standing in the middle of the room, marriage certificate in hand.

He returns to his room on the next floor down and throws himself onto his bed. He presses his face into his pillow and screams until he runs out of breath.

He showers and changes clothes before reemerging to find Dustin. A knock on Dustin's door yields no results, but when Eduardo hesitantly traipses down to the hotel's dining room, he finds Dustin drinking a cup of coffee and staring morosely at a plate of eggs and toast.

"Hi," Eduardo says, sitting down across from him. "Not hungry?"

"Oh, I'm hungry," Dustin says. "It's just that the thought of food makes me want to vomit." He takes a deep gulp of coffee and pushes the plate away from him. "What's going on?"

"Dustin, I have some news," Eduardo says. "Mark and I made a grievous error last night."

Dustin nods. "Yeah, you got hitched." Eduardo's jaw drops and Dustin says, "Dude, they've been running the story on CNN like nonstop." He gestures to the plasma screen TV on the far wall. "Look, here it is again." Eduardo turns to look.

On the screen is a big, cheesy graphic that reads,  Facebook Romance . It dissolves away to reveal a perky blonde anchor with a huge smile. "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shocked the world last night when he announced his marriage to former best friend Eduardo Saverin. The two of them made the announcement over the social network site by changing their relationship status and uploading a photo of them with their certificate of marriage."

"Oh crap," Eduardo says.

The camera shifts over to a male anchor, who says, "Eduardo Saverin was Mark Zuckerberg's best friend prior to the creation of Facebook. Later, Saverin sued Zuckerberg for more than half a billion dollars when Saverin's share in the company was diluted down. It seems that the two of them got past their differences and rekindled their affection for one another. There has been no official statement from the Facebook management, but one employee said that they were all wishing Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Saverin happiness in their new union."

"Was that one employee you?" Eduardo asks Dustin suspiciously.

"God no," Dustin says with a shudder. "They called, but I was too hungover to understand what they were asking and I hung up." He raises his eyebrows. "So. How  is  Mark in bed?"

Eduardo stares at him for a long moment. "I'm going to pretend you didn't ask me that just now," he says finally. "And I'm not going to ask why you want to know, either." He flags down a passing waiter and says, "Coffee, please. And maybe a gun so I can speed the inevitable along."

"Sure thing, sir," the waiter says cheerily. "Would you like decaf or regular?"
 
The coffee comes quickly, which Eduardo is eternally grateful for, and he downs his cup almost in one gulp. Dustin watches him sympathetically, resting his head on his hand.

"Bad hangover, right?" he says. "Last night was not good, man."

"Why, what did you do?" demands Eduardo. "Is it worse than what I did?"

"Believe me, I'm not trying to compete," Dustin protests, raising his hands. "You automatically win for worst night ever, but all I know is that I woke up with glitter in places glitter should never be."

"That sounds like a good night," says Eduardo.

Dustin smirks a little, then pushes his plate of food closer to Eduardo. The two of them pick at it until Dustin looks up and says, "Shit. Heads up, Wardo, they've gotten around to showing the photo from last night."

"Can they even do that?" demands Eduardo, turning around to look. Sure enough, plastered across the screen is a picture of him and Mark. Mark is holding the marriage certificate and smiling slightly. Eduardo is kissing Mark's cheek. His arm is around Mark's waist. He looks happy. "How are they even allowed to do this?"

"If some blog pulled it off first, I think they can claim that was their source and that they didn't violate Facebook rules or anything," Dustin says. "Do you want to get out of here? People are starting to stare."

He's right, unfortunately; people in the dining room have started to swivel their heads towards Eduardo, their eyes wide.

"Yeah, I need to bring you up to Chris anyway," Eduardo says and he gets up, throwing down some money on the table for the waiter.

When they get back up to Mark's room, Chris is watching the television with a scowl. "This is a mess," he tells Eduardo. "Mark doesn't seem to care, though." He glares at Mark.

"People like to say I'm a robot. Getting married while drunk in Vegas proves that I'm at least partly human," Mark says. He's typing on his laptop like a madman, but he looks up at Eduardo and smiles slightly. "Hi."

"Hi," mutters Eduardo.

"Jeez, get a room, you two," says Dustin cheerily. "So what's the plan?"

"We lie low until we're back in Palo Alto and then we make a statement," Chris says. "After that, we will discuss exactly what plans are to be made, but for now, Wardo? You are staying in the United States and you are going to pretend to be happily married to Mark."

Eduardo crosses his arms. "I'm going to need to get my stuff from Singapore."

"We can send people to your apartment," Mark says. "We can do that."

Eduardo points at Mark. "We will have separate rooms."

"That's fine," Mark says. "My house has four bedrooms. I only use two."
 
Eduardo rolls his eyes and sinks down on the sofa. "Should we call our parents?"

"You haven't called your parents yet?" Dustin asks.

"I've called my parents," Mark says. He looks up at Eduardo with that weird betrayed look again.

Dustin ignores Mark. "Wardo! Your mom's probably planning a new wedding, with you dressed in white and Mark in what he thinks is formal wear."

"Hey," Mark says. "I own suits."

"That your assistant bought for you," Dustin says. "Eduardo. Your mom wants grandbabies so much that she has started calling  me  and asking if I've met a nice Jewish girl yet."

Eduardo sighs and gets up. He excuses himself to the bathroom, where he pulls out his cell phone and dials his mother's number. She picks up after one and a half rings with, "Eduardo, what is it that they are saying on the news? You and that Mark boy have gotten married? I thought you were not speaking to each other!"

" Mãe," Eduardo says, "it's a long story, but yes, Mark and I got married."

There's a long, pregnant silence on the other end. Then, "He is Jewish, yes?" she asks suspiciously.

"Yes, Mark is Jewish," Eduardo sighs.

"You better adopt some babies because you have robbed me of a daughter-in-law to be horrible to," says his mom, sniffing slightly. "I want babies, Eduardo."

"I know, Mãe," Eduardo says. "Tell Father the news."

"Oh, he already knows. He is so proud, his son marrying a billionaire, even if it is a boy." Eduardo can practically hear his mom rolling her eyes. "Your father, so stupid sometimes. He does not ask important questions like, why did they get married? Is his son happy? Are you happy?"

Eduardo blinks and then lies through his teeth. "Yes, Mãe, I'm happy."

"Good," she says. "I would hate to have to kill my son-in-law while you are still on your honeymoon."

"Thanks, Mãe," Eduardo says. "Bye, Mãe."

"I get the hint!" she says. "Be good, now, and tell that boy I want grandbabies!"
 
Eduardo hangs up and pockets his phone. There's a light knock at the door into the bathroom and Dustin calls, "Wardo, everything all right?"

"Yes. You can come in." Eduardo sits on the edge of the bathtub and rubs his face with his hands. Dustin comes in a little cautiously.

"How'd she take it?" he asks.

"She's glad he's Jewish," Eduardo says. "That seems to be her only concern." He tilts his head a little and squints at Dustin. "Why aren't  you  freaking out more?"

Dustin shrugs. "I kind of always worked on the assumption that the two of you might as well be married anyway. I mean, it meant that I was the child tragically left behind during the divorce, but you two were, like, joined at the hip."

"So you're saying that this was inevitable," Eduardo says, pointing at the wedding ring on his finger.

"I'm saying that it's a little surprising now, but that it wouldn't have been five years ago," Dustin says. "I mean, I'm also pretty hungover and possibly still slightly drunk, so that could have something to do with it, too."

"I think I'm still missing something – did you think that we were dating back at Harvard?"

"Oh, no. I knew you weren't dating." Dustin looks thoughtful. "I'm pretty sure most other people thought you were, though. I mean, the first time we leave you alone together in five years and you end up getting hitched? Didn’t you miss him? Even a little?"
 
"No," Eduardo lies, not willing to admit the faint nostalgia he still feels when he sees Mark. "Never."
 
"Yeah, right," Dustin says. "I'm sure."
 
"Jesus." Eduardo drops his head into his hands again and pulls at his hair. "I can’t believe this is happening."

"Rather you than me," Dustin says cheerfully. "Now buck up, Chris wants to talk strategy." Dustin waves Eduardo off the edge of the bathtub and herds him back out into the room. Mark has, miraculously, put his computer away and is watching Chris avidly.

"Good, Wardo," Chris says distractedly. He's looking at his iPhone, flicking through it frantically. "I've tentatively confirmed a talk on Oprah because she likes Mark now. We'll be giving an official statement once we get to Palo Alto. I've moved up our flight to tonight – it's only the difference of a few hours."

"How are we going to play this?" asks Mark. He sneaks a glance over at Eduardo, which Eduardo pretends not to notice.

"We're going to tell everyone that the two of you reconciled about two years ago and have been dating for a year. This marriage, while not entirely planned, has been a long time coming," says Chris. "Do you think you can handle that?"

"I can handle that," Mark says.

"I can deal," Eduardo mutters, leaning back. Dustin perches on the armrest of the couch, looking eager. "What do we have to do?"

"I've gotten you adjoining seats on the flight back. For now until you have finished making the press circuit, the two of you will make public appearances – dinner, movies, date nights. And you will pretend that you don't hate each other." Chris raises his eyebrows at them.  

"I don't have anyone, least of all Wardo," Mark says. They all turn to stare at him. "What?"

"That's great, Mark," Chris says. "But it's not really the point. I don't actually care how you two feel about each other right now, I'm more concerned with how people  think  you feel about each other."

"You don't care? I care." Dustin pats Eduardo's shoulder. "I am a loving and open person and I want you to know that I am pulling for you crazy kids."

"Shut up, Dustin," Chris and Eduardo say in unison and Mark says, "I appreciate your support, Dustin."
 
 
 
Eduardo returns to his room to pack and takes as long as he thinks he can get away with before returning to Mark's room. Mark, Chris, and Dustin have set up camp in the middle of the floor, which looks a bit like a tentacle monster with the number of cables running around.

"What's going on?" Eduardo asks, setting his bags by the door and taking a seat on the couch. He peeks at Mark's screen and sees the familiar sight of a command line box and a web browser with Facebook open in it.

"Stabilizing the site," Mark says brusquely. "I have limited the number of people who can comment on both of our profiles."

"And you didn't think to ask first?" Eduardo asks, crossing his arms.

Mark looks up, confused. "Did you want a thousand people commenting on your relationship status?"

"My profile is already set to private, Mark, I wasn't that worried. Jesus, do you not get why you should have asked first?" Eduardo runs a hand through his hair. "If we're going to be married, you're going to have to actually treat me like an equal."

"So now we're married? It's not just an accident or a fake?"

"It is an accident and it is a fake, but we have to live with it, Mark, and if I have to live with you, you're going to have to stop keeping everything to yourself." Eduardo sees Dustin peeking at them with a worried expression and softens his voice. "Just – talk to me first, Mark."

Mark stares at him for a long moment, then nods shortly. "Yes. I’ll try."

"Well," Chris says loudly, "I am currently fielding questions from at least twenty different news groups, including the San Francisco Chronicle and The Advocate, both of which want to know about your stance on gay rights."

"And what are you telling them?" Eduardo asks.

"I am telling them that we will be fielding all questions tonight, but we will have to discuss magazine interviews. I don't doubt they will want you on the cover." Chris is typing furiously, his eyebrows drawn sharply together.

"Excellent. I guess there's nothing I can do," Eduardo says. He leans back and closes his eyes. A moment later, he feels a slight weight and warmth against his legs. He opens his eyes, startled, and sees that Mark has leaned back to use his shins as a backrest. Eduardo considers saying something, then decides against it.

He falls asleep at some point and is woken by Mark shaking his shoulder and saying, "Wardo. Wardo, we have to catch our flight."

Eduardo rubs his face and straightens up. Mark withdraws and sticks his hands back in his hoodie, hovering awkwardly until Eduardo gets to his feet. He backs up a little, waiting for Eduardo to go first.

Eduardo grabs his bags and heads out of the room without looking back. He can hear Mark shuffling along behind him, but he doesn't want to talk and talking to Mark is exhausting – Erica had been right about the Stairmaster thing.

Dustin and Chris are waiting for them downstairs. Outside of the lobby, Eduardo can see hordes of reporters and people. When they see Mark and Eduardo, they start shouting so loudly that it's audible through the big glass windows. Eduardo raises his hand up against the camera flashes and then feels Mark wrap an arm around his waist.

He looks over at Mark in astonishment and Mark gives his little half-smile. "Chris said that we need to make it convincing."
 
Chris glances back and smiles approvingly. Eduardo frowns, but doesn’t try to shrug Mark off. Chris calls, "Ready?" and pushes through the revolving door. Dustin shouts something that sounds suspiciously like, "Geronimo!" before following him.

Mark and Eduardo follow them out and Eduardo is hit by a wave of sound. He ducks his head instinctively, avoiding eye contact and ignoring the shouts.

"Mark, would you say that you  –”

"Is this a shotgun marriage?"

"Eduardo, Eduardo  –”

"Did you sign a pre-nup?"

"Get in the car, come on!" Chris shouts, opening the back door of their hired car. He throws his duffel to the driver, who shoves it into the trunk. Eduardo abandons his bags with the driver and throws himself into the back seat. Chris gets in front and Dustin ends up wedged between Mark and Eduardo.

"Wow," Dustin says looking to his left, then his right. "This is awkward."

"It wouldn't have been if you hadn't said anything," Chris says over his shoulder. "Get us to the airport as quickly as possible and if you lose the press, I'll give you a bonus."

"Yes, sir," the driver said smartly and he tore away from the curb, nearly running over one particularly persistent paparazzo.

"So," Dustin says to Eduardo. "You’ve been living in Singapore. Isn't it hot there?"

"Dustin, I lived in Florida. Before that, I lived in Brazil. I'm kind of used to tropical climates." Eduardo leans his head against the glass. "Did everything with the site go okay?"

"Are you actually interested or are you just being polite?" asks Mark, leaning over Dustin. Dustin shrinks back into his seat as if trying to be as unobtrusive as possible.

"I don't know, I guess I'm interested."

"Well, you're either interested or you're not. Which one is it?"

"Wow, less than twenty-four hours and you're already arguing like my parents," says Dustin.

"Let's not kid ourselves, Dustin, they've been arguing like this for years," Chris says in a bored tone.

"I'm interested!" Eduardo barks at Mark. "How did it go?"

"It went fine. We're in no danger of crashing, though I think it's rather flattering that it almost crashed just because we got married." Mark looks thoughtful.

"Yeah, well, everyone loves a good twist," Eduardo mutters.

"I'm still hungover," Dustin interrupts, "so I'm going to put a moratorium on talking until we get to the airport and I can pass out in peace. Is everyone good with this?"

"I don't know, I'm finding this very interesting," the driver says.

"That reminds me," Chris says. "I'm going to need you to sign a non-disclosure agreement."

Through some miracle, they get to the airport in one piece without being followed by any press. The driver signs Chris's nondisclosure form with a minimum amount of fuss. Mark, as he's getting out of the car, asks, "Do you have a Facebook?"

The driver, who looks to be about twenty-five, looks slightly taken aback by this. "Um, yes?" he says. "Why?"

"Okay," Mark says. "I will send you a message and I can help you out with privacy settings or, I don't know, special features for your profile."

Eduardo is out of the car before he can hear the end of the conversation, but when Mark emerges a couple of moments later, he says, "I'm pretty sure we won't have any problems with him."

"Good to know," Chris says. "Nice work, Mark."

Eduardo rolls his eyes and drags his bags inside the terminal. After getting through security, he heads to the first class lounge with Mark, Dustin, and Chris right behind him. Once there, Dustin folds himself into a seat and puts on his headphones.

Mark, to Eduardo's complete lack of surprise, pulls out his laptop and starts typing. Eduardo pulls out a book and tries to read, but he can't concentrate. Mark is sitting right next to him, typing away. It's so much like those years in college when Eduardo would study while Mark coded that Eduardo can almost believe that nothing has changed in the last five years.

Mark looks over at him after a minute and echoes his thoughts, saying, "This is kind of like college."

Eduardo opens his mouth to retort, but catches Chris staring at him expectantly, so he instead says, "That's what I was thinking."

Mark flashes him a small smile before bending back over his laptop. Eduardo fidgets with the pages of his book until finally he manages to make himself concentrate for more than two minutes and actually read a chapter.


*****

When they land at SFO, it's a little after six p.m. and Eduardo's stomach is waging a full-scale revolt on the rest of him. He's glad that he had hardly eaten anything since breakfast; he's already nervous enough about the press conference without worrying about throwing up.

As they get into their car, Chris says, "We're heading back to headquarters for what should hopefully a quick press conference, and then you can go home and sleep."

"Do I have to be here?" asks Dustin plaintively.

"Yes," Chris says shortly. "I am not doing this alone."

They arrive at the Facebook offices about half an hour later to find a sea of reporters waiting outside on the grass. They pile out and Chris shepherds them to the podium set up outside the glass doors. The moment they see Mark and Eduardo, the photographers go crazy, snapping pictures. Chris hisses back at them, "Hold hands, you morons."

Eduardo feels Mark grab a hold of his hand, interlacing their fingers together. Mark's hand is cool and dry, the palm slightly callused. Mark rubs his thumb along the back of Eduardo's knuckles until Eduardo looks up at him. Mark nods at him and says softly, "It's going to be fine, Wardo."

"I hope you're right," Eduardo mutters as Chris goes to the podium.
 
Chris raises his hands and, remarkably, the chatter from the reporters dies down. He gives his disarming smile and he lays on a little bit of North Carolina twang as he says, "I believe you all heard the news this morning – unless you're just here for my pretty face."

The reporters laugh dutifully, but watch him expectantly, obviously wanting more. Chris takes a quick breath, still smiling. "As you have heard, our CEO has finally taken himself off the most eligible bachelor list. Here, with his new husband Eduardo Saverin, is Mark Zuckerberg."

Chris moves aside and Mark tows Eduardo along with him to the podium. As the two of them settle next to each other, still holding hands, the photographers go crazy again, snapping away. Mark leans in towards the microphone and says, "Hello. I, I didn't realize there would be this much interest in this. My marriage is a private matter. But I understand that there will be a great deal of interest given the public knowledge of our past.

"Eduardo and I reconnected about a year and a half ago. There has always been a great deal of fondness between the two of us, despite appearances  –” Here, his hand tightens on Eduardo's just the tiniest bit. "—and we have been in a relationship for about a year. Our marriage may have been spur of the moment, but it has been a long time coming."

Mark leans back from the mic and Chris says in a soft undertone, "Nicely done."

Eduardo has to admit he's impressed; he knows Mark isn't exactly comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people, but he'd sounded at ease and completely confident. He hadn't even delivered a veiled insult, as was his common practice.

Chris says, "We'll take questions now," and selects a hand from the many that immediately fly into the air. "Yes?"

"Yes, hi, will this marriage in any way be affecting the structure of Facebook?"

"As Mark and Eduardo didn't marry in California, things are a little complicated," Chris says with a wry smile, prompting another laugh. "That's something our lawyers will be working out in the next few days. I doubt that any substantial changes will be made, though."

Eduardo tunes out the next few questions, most of which are incredibly dull. Then comes, "Mr. Saverin, how were you able to overcome your previous problems with Mr. Zuckerberg?"

Eduardo gives Chris a nervous look. Chris gestures him to speak and Eduardo leans in, trying not to appear as panicked as he feels. "Like Mark said, there's always been...a lot of, um, love and affection between us. I've – Mark was my – my best friend and even though things went, um, a little bad, we've both apologized for the mistakes we've made and. And we love each other a lot." He steps back before he can stammer out anything else. Dustin smirks a little at Eduardo and Mark is looking down at their joined hands, a small, private smile on his face.

Chris fields the last few questions before excusing them and herding them back to the car. "Nice job, you guys," he says once they're safely ensconced inside. "Not bad for a first go. But remember, we have a lot more ahead of us. We'll have to work on your answers."

"I think we did all right," Mark says. He still hasn't let go of Eduardo's hand. Eduardo, oddly, doesn't mind too much.


*****

Mark's house is, rather shockingly, not a mansion at all. Eduardo realizes belatedly that his remark about seven bedrooms must have been a poor attempt at a joke. Mark shrugs when Eduardo looks at him questioningly, and he moves away to open the door.

"You know Mark," Dustin says when Eduardo looks at him. "I tried to convince him to buy a pimped out bachelor pad, but he said that he didn't need it."

"It's actually better for PR," Chris butts in. "The owner of Facebook doesn't flaunt his money, how unusual. It looks good." He shoves lightly at Eduardo's back, glancing back over his shoulder. "Every time the two of you go out, I want you to be acting like the newlyweds you are. You're the new Brangelina."

"Did you seriously just say that?" Eduardo asks as Chris shoves at him again, this time less gently.

"I'll see you on Monday!" Chris calls, waving, and he drags Dustin back into the car. Eduardo grabs his bags and follows Mark into the house.

The house is surprisingly nice inside. Mark must have hired a maid or something, because it's far neater than his dorm room at Harvard or the disgusting house of debauchery from that hellish summer. Mark gestures to Eduardo to follow him upstairs.

"I've got four bedrooms," he says. "Three upstairs, one downstairs. I turned one into a computer room. I hope that's all right."

"It's your house," Eduardo says absently, looking at the bare walls. He had half-expected photos or posters – but that isn't really Mark's style.

"It's our house," Mark corrects. "Under California law, it's our house."

"Fine," Eduardo says. "Whatever, it's our house."

Mark doesn't look happy, but then, he rarely does. He opens a door at the end of the hall. "Here, you can use this room."

Eduardo steps inside, dropping his bags just inside the door. He gropes for the light switch and flicks it up, illuminating a rather small, but cozy room. There's a queen bed, a dresser, and a small bookshelf. The room is barren of anything personal, and Eduardo wonders what Mark had meant the room to be.

"This is fine," Eduardo says, turning back to look at Mark, who is still hovering in the door frame.

Mark nods once, short and pensive. "Let me show you the rest of the house."

Mark leads Eduardo down the hall, pointing out the computer room, the bathroom that Mark says Eduardo can use, and the master bedroom, which is at the opposite end of the hall. Eduardo can't help but be faintly relieved by the distance between their rooms. Bad enough he has to share a house with Mark; if their rooms were adjacent, Eduardo would have no space just to be.

"I don't really cook, so there's not much food here," Mark says when they reach the kitchen. Eduardo opens the refrigerator and sees a six-pack of beer, what looks like a container of roast beef, and a forlorn Chinese take-out box. He shakes his head, half in disgust and half in pity.

"You realize you're not actually in college anymore, right?" he asks Mark. "We need to go get some actual food."

"All right," Mark says easily. "Tomorrow. It'll make Chris happy if we go together."

Eduardo just barely refrains from rolling his eyes.


*****

Eduardo's first night in Mark's – well, their – house is surprisingly restful. The bed is incredibly comfortable and, depressingly, bigger than the one in his Singapore apartment. He wakes early the next morning, feeling refreshed. He takes a shower and revels in the hot water and the truly excellent controls on the water pressure. Mark may not have shelled out for a McMansion, but he had clearly spared no expense in upgrading his house.

He emerges from the bathroom just as Mark shuffles out of the computer room. Eduardo squints at him and recognizes the familiar signs from college – the circles under his eyes, the messiness of his hair.

"You didn't even sleep last night, did you?" asks Eduardo, hands on his hips.

Mark looks up and blinks. "You're not wearing a shirt."

"I just got out of the shower," Eduardo says, suddenly feeling self-conscious. He crosses his arms over his chest and juts out his jaw defiantly. "Did you sleep?"

"Why does it matter?" mutters Mark, trying to brush past Eduardo.

"Mark." Eduardo sticks his hand out and grabs Mark's shoulder. "Did you sleep last night?"

Mark doesn't look at him as he admits, "A couple hours."

"I don't understand how you run a company like this," Eduardo mutters. "Shower, get ready to go out. We're going to get some food for this barren hellhole."

"What's wrong with my house?" demands Mark, frowning.

"It doesn't feel like anyone actually lives here, Mark. Now go get ready." He shoves Mark towards the master bedroom and he heads back to his own room to get dressed.

Mark arrives downstairs a few minutes after him, dressed in a nearly identical hoodie and a pair of jeans. His hair looks a little damp, so Eduardo takes that as a sign of success. "My car's out front," Mark says and he produces his car keys from the front pocket of his jeans.

Eduardo eyes the keys warily. He's never had the privilege of riding with Mark before and he's not entirely sure he wants to. "You're going to drive?"

"Yeah, it's my car." Mark leads the way to the garage. "Come on, Wardo, it won't be that bad."


*****

It is that bad.

It's not that Mark is a reckless driver; it's more that he's just careless. Eduardo stares as cars, pedestrians, even birds seem to throw themselves out of Mark's way because anyone who sees him can probably tell that he's not going to be the one to move first. It's like Mark is playing one giant game of chicken with the world.

They somehow make it to the grocery store alive. Eduardo notices a couple of vans following them – he had learned to spot potential dangers at a young age – and when they step out of the car, he sees the sun reflect off of camera lenses. He hurriedly catches up to Mark and walks close enough to him that their shoulders bump together.

Mark looks up and smiles a little. Eduardo rolls his eyes and they go inside the store together.

Mark is absolutely useless at grocery shopping. He's ambivalent towards everything Eduardo suggests. After the fifth shrug and, "Whatever you want," Eduardo just starts grabbing things without asking Mark.

Mark follows quietly in his wake, only stopping to grab beer and Twizzlers. Eduardo spots the photographers lurking around the aisles and is careful to angle his body towards Mark. Mark doesn't seem to notice or care.

At the check-out, the cashier smiles at Mark cheerfully. "Welcome back, Mark! I see you're buying more food than usual."

"That would be my fault," Eduardo says with a smile he doesn't really feel. "Hi."

"Hi," the cashier says. Her nametag reads, Alina. "Will you be sticking around? Because every time Mark comes here, all he buys is beer, ramen, and occasionally bread."

"That isn't actually true," Mark says.

"He's very literal," Eduardo warns her. "And yes, it looks like I'll be sticking around."

She smiles as she finishes ringing up the last item. "Good. I'm glad to see Mark with someone, finally."

Eduardo looks over at Mark, who raises his eyebrows and smirks a little. "Oh yeah?" he says casually. "He's never brought in anyone else?"

"God no," snorts the cashier. "I tried asking him out and he didn't even realize."

Mark's amused expression fades into a frown. Eduardo grins, now genuinely amused, and wraps his arm around Mark's waist. "That's Mark for you."

Mark squirms a little, but doesn't try hard to get away. The cashier grins and hands them their receipt. "Have a nice day, fellas."


*****

Eduardo press-gangs Mark into helping him put the groceries away once they're back at the house. Mark, predictably, is little to no help. For all his computational organizational skills, he seems to have no idea what the crisper is for. Eduardo pulls the same six pack of beer out of it three times until he finally tells Mark to just hand him things.

Eduardo forces Mark to eat a sandwich before he lets Mark hole himself up in the computer room to immerse himself in coding or whatever it is that Mark spends so much time on. Eduardo grabs his own laptop and sits on the obscenely comfortable leather couch, ready to deal with his email inbox. Just as he settles in, he realizes that he doesn't know the password to Mark's wireless network – "Zuckonit_Palo Alto."

He unfolds himself and reluctantly goes to Mark's cave. Mark is, of course, hunched over a computer keyboard and typing furiously. Eduardo clears his throat and Mark holds up a finger. Eduardo sighs and taps his foot in a purposefully annoying way to speed Mark up.

Finally, Mark spins his chair around and looks up at Eduardo with a vaguely annoyed expression. "Yes?" he asks.

"I need to know the wireless password," Eduardo says.

Mark looks at him, then says, "Hold on, I'll go enter it in." He starts to get up.

Eduardo waves his hands at him. "No, Mark, you don't have to. Just tell me the password, I'll log myself in."

To his surprise, Mark starts to look a little flustered. "I'll do it, it's no problem," he says, getting to his feet and coming closer to Eduardo. "I'll go do it." He pushes through the door before Eduardo can say anything and Eduardo closes his mouth with a snap, irritated.

"Mark," he calls as he follows the sound of Mark's flip-flops. "I thought we decided to trust each other."

"It's not that I don't trust you," Mark calls back. "I needed to stretch my legs anyway."

"You were in there for ten minutes," protests Eduardo.

"I have a very tense back." There's a brief pause where Eduardo is torn between laughter and confusion. "Or at least that's what I am told!"

"Who's telling you that?" demands Eduardo. He goes back into the living room to see Mark typing on his computer. He considers making a fuss, but decides to leave it in favor of discussing who on earth is telling Mark that he has a tense back. "Mark, who told you that you have a tense back?"

"Why, are you jealous?" Mark asks absently without looking up.

Eduardo rolls his eyes. "Mark."

"I don't know, someone said it to me. I don't remember who. I don't remember a lot of things, Wardo, you know that." Mark finally looks up at him. "You're logged on to the network."

"Thank you," Eduardo says automatically and he takes his computer from Mark.

"You're welcome," Mark replies stiffly and he hovers at Eduardo's side for a few moments before shaking his head and disappearing upstairs.
 
Eduardo sends out emails to the people he's been working with in Singapore – yes, he's living in California for the foreseeable future, no, he's not sure how this will affect app development – then sends more chatty emails to his family. Yes, I got married, sorry you weren't all invited, etc etc. To Chris, he sends his address in Singapore so Chris can deal with moving Eduardo's things out and getting them to California.

By the time he's finished, there's already a reply from his mother sitting in his inbox. He opens it up with a sigh.

Eduardo,

Sweetheart, we are all very happy for you as you know. Auntie D is bitter because you know Gustavo is still not married. he will end up with a girl no one wants! But you have married a very rich man and so she is very envious.

But we do want to officially meet him. I know we have met this boy before, but now he is your husband and I think we should have a nice family dinner. Maybe with his parents too. And please consider holding another wedding for the family. I would like to show Dolores that we are not ashamed of your marriage.

Love,
Mom

He stares at the email blankly for a few moments, then saves it so that he can figure out a correct response later. He gets up, stretches, and then looks around the room. There's a television, of course, and there is a shelf of movies next to it. He picks through them and sees the same sorts of things Mark liked in college – sci-fi and action, plus every Pixar film that's been released.

It feels almost like they've skipped backwards a few years, back to when things were a whole lot simpler between them. It's easy to fall into a rhythm with Mark; Eduardo has been finding it harder and harder to remember that he's supposed to hate him.

But then, Eduardo never really did hate Mark. The lawsuit hadn't been about hate – it had been about teaching Mark a lesson more than anything else, but Mark hadn't wanted to learn. Couldn't learn, maybe.

Eduardo goes into the kitchen and starts taking out food. He knows better than to expect Mark to cook dinner – Mark could barely feed himself when someone else was taking care of the preparation – and Eduardo enjoys cooking anyway. He starts boiling water and runs his hand over his forehead as he watches tiny bubbles build up in the bottom of the pot.

Mark wanders downstairs about a half hour later, looking confused. "I smell food," he says and Eduardo holds up his hands, one of which is holding an onion, the other a tomato. "Oh," Mark says.

"I hope pasta's all right," Eduardo says, turning back to the cutting board. "I couldn't remember what foods you liked."

"I'll eat most things." He hears Mark's footsteps move closer. "Do you need any help?"

"Cut the onion?" Eduardo slides it over. "My eyes water like crazy when I do it."

Mark comes up next to him and takes out a knife. "Okay." He starts cutting the onion, not looking up at Eduardo. "I've never had that problem."

Eduardo doesn't say any of the thousand things that come to mind at this, but then, he's always been the one who can control his tongue. He starts slicing up the tomato, his elbow bumping lightly against Mark's.
 
Mark stays well back while Eduardo makes the actual pasta sauce. He leans against the counter and watches Eduardo impassively, not saying a word. Eduardo gestures for him to get plates and Mark opens up one of the cabinets, pulling out two plates. Eduardo scoops pasta and sauce onto both plates, then takes them to the kitchen table.

Mark eats without speaking. Eduardo can tell that Mark is thinking something over from the way Mark's left hand drums lightly on the table.
Eduardo watches him for a while, then breaks the silence to ask, "How long do you think we'll do this?"

Mark looks up, startled. "Excuse me?"
 
"This." Eduardo motions between the two of them. "We can't stay married forever."

"We can't?" Mark asks in his dry, flat tone.

"Do you want to stay married forever?" demands Eduardo, setting his fork down. "I don't know about you, but I always thought I would marry someone I loved and have children. I thought that's what you wanted, too!"

"I don't know about the children part," Mark says.

"Mark!"

"I don't know what you want me to say," Mark says. "I don't know how long we're going to be married. That's really up to Chris."

"Right." Eduardo picks up his fork again. "So here's what I want to know. Do you have any idea why we thought it was a good idea to get married?"

Mark looks down at his plate. "No," he says. Eduardo frowns; he's pretty sure that Mark is lying, but he doesn't know why Mark would do that. "Aside from the fact that we were pretty intoxicated. I have a history of making bad decisions while drunk."

"I know, I remember." Eduardo spears a noodle with his fork. "And you think that's the only reason?"

"I don't know, Wardo, and I wasn't the only one there," Mark reminds him.

"Well, I don't remember anything," Eduardo says, which is mostly true. Eduardo remembers most of what happened at the bar before they apparently went out on their little cruise through the Tunnel of Love or whatever it was, and he remembers fighting with Mark, though he honestly had no idea what they had been arguing about.

"Do you remember what we were fighting about?" he asks Mark.

"We were fighting?" Mark asks. "I didn't think that was a fight."

"We were shouting at each other. People were staring."

"People stare a lot."

"Usually because you're being an asshole," Eduardo agrees, "but this time it was because we were shouting."

"You were shouting, I was replying," Mark corrects. "I don't shout."

"I wish you would," Eduardo says.

"Why?"

"Because then I'd know you at least cared enough to get angry." Rather than wait for a response, Eduardo grabs his now empty plate and says, "Good night."

"Wardo –"

"Mark, I am tired and it's been two years since I had to deal with you on a daily basis. I need time to adjust and if I talk to you any longer, I can't be held responsible for the violence that will inevitably ensue." Mark doesn't say anything. "Good night," Eduardo repeats, and he sets his plate in the sink before grabbing his laptop and retreating upstairs.


*****

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovtiz@facebook.com)

Re: Do you know how many people have emailed me today?

Roughly everyone we ever knew at Harvard. Granted, most of them are not surprised, but they are asking me if I knew about the two of you dating. I've been saying that of course I knew, I always knew.

I've also gotten an email from my mom asking me why I haven't settled down yet. Even Chris has a boyfriend, Eduardo, how dare you go and get married? Now my mom thinks I'm defective or something. I officially have no wingmen. (Though to be honest, Chris wasn't a very good wingman and Mark was worse.)

How's married life treating you?

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovit@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Do you know how much I don't care?

Fuck off Dustin

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Wait a minute

You let Mark be your wing man? What the hell were you thinking?


*****

"Look," Dustin says when he calls a few minutes later, "I thought it was a good idea at the time."

"You think a lot of ideas are good," Eduardo says.

"Yeah, yeah, shut up. Do you want to hear a story you can mock Mark with or not?"

"Definitely," Eduardo says.

"Married life that bad?" Dustin laughs. "All right, let me tell you the problem with having Mark as your wing man. Well, actually, I used to use Chris, as you well know, but all the girls seem to think we're together or they think he's adorable and they want him to be their new best friend. Plus he's way cuter than me, or so I am told."

"Whoever told you that did not lie," says Eduardo.

"Fuck you," Dustin replies amiably. "Anyway, so I took Mark with me a couple of times, but he has this tendency to make random and offensive remarks. It's only charming to you."

"It's not charming to me," protests Eduardo.

"Yeah, whatever," Dustin says. "You say things and I don't believe any of them."

"You're an asshole," Eduardo informs him.

"Well, I fit in well, don't I?" Dustin says in a sing-song voice. "See you on Monday, Mrs. Boss Man!"

He hangs up before Eduardo has a chance to retort. Eduardo glares at his cell phone with impotent rage and barely manages not to throw it across the room.
 
 
To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: Information you should have

 

1. Gawker and Perez Hilton already have photos of the two of you grocery shopping. I'm glad you're playing nice. Keep it up.

2. Eduardo, your things have been boxed and are on their way from Singapore. The boxes should be there by tomorrow afternoon.

3. On Monday, we need to sit down with the lawyers and discuss how your marriage affects the company. I'm guessing you didn't sign a pre-nup.

4. Also you should talk to the employees because they keep asking me what happened for some godforsaken reason and I would appreciate it if they would stop.

5. Also Sean (Parker, not my boyfriend Sean) is pissed. (Though my boyfriend Sean is not happy that I'm spending all my time on this bullshit.) So Mark, you need to take care of that because he's annoying enough to deal with normally.

6. Friday you are flying out to appear on Oprah's show. She is very excited and plans on asking you a lot of questions.

Which brings me to...

7. On Thursday, we're going to have to go over your story so that you sound convincing. Mark, I know you suck at talking to people, so let Eduardo do a lot of the talking. It will look better that way plus there's less opportunity for you to say something stupid.

 

That is your week. Get used to it because it's not changing.

 

Your savior who deserves a huge raise,

Chris

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com); Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)

Re: Corrections and follow-up

 

3. Why would we have signed a pre-nup?

5. I will deal with Sean.

7. I do not suck at talking to people.

 

Your boss who is not giving you a raise,

Mark

P.S. Wardo – We will need to see about getting you a Facebook email address.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com

Re: Thanks

Chris – thank you for the update, I appreciate it.

Mark – we will talk about this later.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: hey

I hear you laid down the law. Guess we know who wears the pants in your relationship!

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Shut up, Dustin.

Shut up, Dustin.


*****

Eduardo wakes up early and goes downstairs to make coffee. It takes three tries for him to find where the coffee is stored, but he finds it and takes it down. It looks like it's never been touched, but then Mark has never really needed coffee.

Eduardo notices that the coffee is from São Paulo, and allows himself a small smile before he pours out the grounds into a coffee filter. He makes himself a pot of coffee in Mark's pristine, state of the art coffee maker, then makes two pieces of toast.

Mark comes downstairs while Eduardo is putting strawberry jam on his toast. He frowns and says, "We bought jam?"

"Yes. Do you want anything?" Eduardo runs the knife under the faucet before moving to the kitchen table. "I made coffee."

"I don't like coffee," Mark says. He opens the refrigerator and stares inside for a minute. "I don't usually eat breakfast."

"Eat something," Eduardo sighs. "And why do you have coffee and a coffee maker if you don't like it?"

"It's something you're supposed to have," Mark says. "I don't want to eat anything."

"We have a whole refrigerator full of food, we bought enough food for an army yesterday." Eduardo sips his coffee. "Eat some toast."

"I don't like toast."

"We have peanut butter and jam, you can have a sandwich. I know you eat that." Eduardo watches as Mark takes out two pieces of bread. "Did you sleep?"

"Yes, I slept." Mark leans up on tiptoes to grab the peanut butter out of the cabinet, his sweatshirt riding up a little. "Anything else you want to ask?"

"Not really," Eduardo says. He takes another sip of coffee. "This is good coffee."

"So I have been told." Mark finishes making his sandwich and sends the knife spinning back into the sink. "I have a maid."

"I figured," Eduardo says. "I remember the other place you've lived."

"What is that supposed to mean?" asks Mark sharply, turning to look at Eduardo.

"It means that you're generally not the neatest of people," Eduardo says. "And this house is spotless."

"Hmm." Mark frowns at Eduardo, as if trying to read his mind, then shakes his head. "Well, I have a maid. She comes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."

"And the point of this is?"

"The point is I have a maid and I thought you should know. Since you live here." Mark grabs his sandwich and sits across from Eduardo. "Your stuff is coming today."

"I got the same email as you," Eduardo reminds him.

"Yeah," agrees Mark. He bites into his sandwich and chews slowly, not looking away from Eduardo. Eduardo looks down at his coffee and does his best to ignore the weight of Mark's gaze.

Eduardo escapes upstairs with the excuse of needing to sort out his room before his possessions arrive. He hears the sound of the television switch on before he shuts the door to his room. He tries reading one of the books he'd bought in the Singapore airport, but he can't concentrate. He sets the book aside and looks around the room, trying to decide what he's going to do with his belongings.

Around eleven, the doorbell rings. Eduardo heads downstairs in time to see Mark open front door. Eduardo spots a few photographers lurking across the street and they leap into a frenzy when Eduardo comes up behind Mark, jostling for better angles.

The mover, a tall, muscular man who looks a little like the Winklevoss twins, ignores the ruckus behind him and says, "Mr. Zuckerberg? Mr. Saverin? We have Mr. Saverin's belongings."

"Yeah," Eduardo says, laying a hand on Mark's shoulder to pull him back a little. "That's me. I'll show you upstairs."

"Your things have been boxed according to the room they were in," the mover says. "Do you want us to separate them?"

"I guess –" Eduardo glances at Mark, who shrugs. "I guess take the bedroom stuff upstairs and leave everything else in the living room."

"Sounds good," the mover says and he gestures behind him. Eduardo grabs Mark around the arm and pulls him away from the door as the movers start streaming inside.

"We need to show them to my room," Mark says in a low voice.

"What?" asks Eduardo, frowning at Mark.

"There are photographers across the street," Mark says. "And the movers could talk to them."

"And if they see we're in two separate bedrooms," Eduardo finishes, "they might talk. Shit." He eyes Mark. "You came up with that all on your own."

"Chris warned me." Mark looks down at where Eduardo's hand is still wrapped around his bicep. Eduardo drops his hand quickly and steps away from Mark.

"I'll show them upstairs," Eduardo says, and he turns to look at the movers. "Follow me," he says.
 
A little after twelve thirty, the movers finish depositing the boxes around Mark's house. Their departure is marked by the same quiet efficiency as their arrival and Eduardo makes a note to ask Chris where he found them.

After closing the door behind the last guy, Eduardo turns and looks at the house. "Considering the fact that my apartment wasn't actually all that large, I had a lot of things," he remarks to the room at large.

"You've always been put more stock in material belongings than I do," says Mark, emerging from behind a pile of boxes.

Eduardo squints at Mark suspiciously. "Is that a criticism?"

"It's an observation," Mark says in his annoying flat tone of voice.

"Fine. I'm going to start unpacking." Eduardo moves into the living room. "Do you have scissors?"

Mark disappears behind more boxes for a moment, then reappears with a pair of scissors. He hands them over, blade first. Eduardo sighs, but takes the scissors and slices the tape open on the first box.

"Should I be helping?" Mark asks after a moment of watching Eduardo sort through a box full of DVDs and CDs.

"Well, I don't know how you organize your shelves, so if you want to take care of that," Eduardo says, shoving the box at Mark.

Mark takes the box and looks a little askance at Eduardo's choices. Miraculously, he manages to hold back whatever comments are stewing, and he goes over to the shelf to start putting things away.

Eduardo works his way through the boxes in the house, setting aside things they have duplicates of, like his much-beloved but ancient coffeemaker. By the time he gets upstairs, he's tired and bored and Mark still hasn't finished sorting the damn DVDs.

Eduardo stares at the boxes of his clothes and books that are piled in Mark's bedroom. With a sigh, he hoists the first box of books and carries it down the hall to his room. He spreads them out over his bed and spends a soothing twenty minutes sorting them and deciding how to organize them on his shelf.

When he returns to Mark's room to grab the next box of books, he finds Mark hanging his clothes in the closet. "Mark?" he asks hesitantly. "What are you doing?"

"We're going to be having visitors," Mark points out without looking at Eduardo. "We should at least give the appearance of a married couple."

"They're not going to be in our bedrooms, Mark," Eduardo protests.

"I don't think my point is invalid," Mark says.

"Your point is crazy, Mark!"

"We're married," says Mark. "What am I doing that's crazy?"

Eduardo opens his mouth to start listing, then closes his mouth again. He's sick of arguing and Mark's point isn't entirely, completely insane. He waves his hand for Mark to continue and grabs the next box of books to put in his room.

The sad thing is, Eduardo kind of likes the way Mark is finally engaging in something other than code. Mark is actually interested in something related to Eduardo and some part of Eduardo has apparently never stopped longing for Mark's attention and approval, because he should be angrier, more upset about the whole situation. But he finally has Mark's goddamn attention.
 
 
Eduardo wakes up on Monday with a growing sense of dread in the pit of his stomach. It takes him a moment to locate the reason why – and then he remembers he's supposed to go into the Facebook offices with Mark. The last time he had gone into the Facebook offices, Eduardo had destroyed a two thousand dollar computer. He had nearly punched Sean in the face. (He really should have punched Sean in the face.)

Eduardo takes a shower and remembers on his way back to his room that his clothes are in Mark's closet. He turns and heads back towards Mark's room. He knocks, just to be polite, then lets himself in.

Mark is asleep, his mouth soft and slackened in sleep. Eduardo looks at him for a long moment. He's pretty sure he can count on his hands how many times he's actually seen Mark sleeping, and every time, it never fails to startle him how soft and how young Mark looks in sleep. He looks like a normal person.

Eduardo opens the closet as quietly as he can and finds that Mark has neatly segregated Eduardo's collared shirts and pressed suits from Mark's rumpled hoodies and cargo pants. Eduardo takes out a grey shirt and pair of dark jeans that his last girlfriend had bought him.

He makes himself coffee and drinks it out of a mug that has some sort of joke in binary on it. His hands are shaking a little as he pours a second cup of coffee and he forces himself to set the pot down. He leans against the counter and breathes in and out, slowly and deeply.

He drinks the second cup of coffee at the table, taking his time so that he can calm down a little. Until now, he had been able to pretend that this marriage is only temporary, that it's not real. But today he's going to the Facebook offices to talk to the lawyers about what the marriage is going to mean for the company, for him, for Mark.

Eduardo sets the empty mug aside and looks at the plain golden band on his left ring finger. He still gets this odd thrill down his spine every time he looks at it. He doesn't know whether it's out of horror or fear or what, but just looking at the ring on his finger makes him feel displaced.

He hears the sound of Mark coming down the stairs, but he doesn't look up. He twists the ring around his finger, watching it catch the early morning light coming in through the windows. Mark's footsteps stop and Eduardo feels that weird prickly sensation of someone staring at him. He turns and looks at Mark, who is staring at him with another one of those inscrutable looks.

"Ready to go?" asks Mark after a moment of silence.

"Yeah," Eduardo says and he gets to his feet.


*****

The offices are bigger now, though just as hipster and new-age as they had been five years ago. When they walk into the main room, the low buzz of conversation and typing cuts off almost completely. Eduardo stops, staring out over the sea of programmers, and tries not to flinch at their blatant curiosity.

Chris hurries up to them, adjusting the lapels of his striped shirt. He grabs Mark's arm and gestures at Eduardo. "Come on, we need to talk a little before the meeting."

Dustin is waiting for them inside the conference room, looking uncomfortable in a wrinkled checked shirt and a grey blazer. He grins up at them and asks, "So how's cohabitation going? I see you have not killed each other yet."

"I think it's going well," Mark says.

"Right, enough chit chat," says Chris. "I'm glad to see that you are both alive and without visible injuries. Now let's talk about game plan. The only people who can know the true circumstances of this wedding are the people in this room unless the lawyers decide that there needs to be some sort of legal action." He looks at Dustin.

"Why are you looking at me?" asks Dustin. "Do you think I'm going to spill the beans?"

"You do not have the greatest track record with secrets," Chris says.

"Just because I outed you to your mom –" Dustin begins, looking guilty.

"How many times, Dustin, you didn't actually out me to my mom! She already knew, she was just messing with you." Chris is grinning now, which is a new and somewhat reassuring sight. "All right, now that we've got that settled – I don't know what the lawyers have decided, but whatever they say will have to be released to our shareholders and to the press. I'll take care of that. The two of you will need to talk to the staff. And by the two of you, I mean Mark. Eduardo, you should just stand stoically by."

"How many of them were here five years ago?" Eduardo asks, both curious and a little nervous.

"Probably a little less than a third," Chris says.

"Twenty-two," Mark says without even pausing to think about it.

"God, you're like a robot," Dustin marvels. Eduardo snorts involuntarily, then glances over at Mark. Mark's lips press together in a thin line for a moment before he looks down at the floor.

"When are the lawyers getting here?" Mark asks, grabbing a seat and sitting down.

"In about ten minutes. You want anything to eat before they show up?" Chris glances at Eduardo. "You all right?"

"I'm fine," Eduardo says. He sits down next to Mark and folds his hands on the table.

"Do I need to be here?" Dustin asks Chris. "Because I don't think I do."

Chris rolls his eyes, but makes a shooing motion. Dustin scrambles up and leaves the room with a, "See you later!"
 
The lawyers file in a few minutes later. There are three of them and Eduardo doesn't recognize any of them. He's glad Sy isn't there– he bets Sy would have a lot more difficulty accepting that this marriage is real.
"Mr. Zuckerberg," the lead lawyer says. "Good to see you again. Mr. Saverin, we haven't met. My name is James Khouri." Eduardo gets up to shake his hand and then shakes the hands of the other two lawyers.

They all settle back into their seats and James opens up a folder. "We weren't sure how this marriage would affect your ownership shares," he explains to them. "Since the two of you acquired the shares before marrying, both the stocks as well as any revenue you receive is considered separate property. Meaning, the two of you don't have joint ownership of the shares."

"Great," Chris says, writing this down. "Anything else we should be concerned with?"

"We're still working out the details given the settlement that the two of you signed," James tells them. "Mr. Saverin, the nondisclosure agreement is still in full force. You will not be able to discuss the settlement with anyone. But given that you didn't actually violate any clauses of the agreement by getting married, it doesn't appear that any changes will have to be made to the company, nor will either of you be held in contempt."

"Excellent," Chris says, sounding extremely pleased. "That's good to know."

"That's all for now," James says, glancing to the other two lawyers, who both nod. "It was nice meeting you, Mr. Saverin. And congratulations on the wedding. I wish you both the very best."

"Thank you," Eduardo says automatically, Mark echoing him a moment later. Under the table, Eduardo feels Mark's leg press briefly against his. On Eduardo's finger, the wedding ring suddenly feels very heavy.


*****

"Chris," Eduardo says once the lawyers have left. "How long – how long do you think we should stay married?"

Chris tilts his head a little and says, "Maybe a year at the least. It depends on what this does for us. Why, do you have someone waiting for you?"

"No," Eduardo says. "But –"

"Then I don't see the problem," Chris says briskly. "Most people who are married hate each other anyway, the two of you will fit in just fine. And it's not a sham, it's a real, authentic wedding, and it's your own damn fault."

"Right," Eduardo says blankly. "Fine. Excellent. I'll just – I'll just get used to it, then."

"You will," Chris promises ominously. "All right, up and at 'em." He gestures at them until Eduardo stands up. Mark gets to his feet a little more reluctantly. "Look, you know, loving," Chris adds before he ducks out of the conference room.

Eduardo looks at Mark, who has gone slightly pale and appears to be sweating lightly. "Jesus, Mark, are you nervous? They're just your employees."

"Shut up," Mark says and he grabs Eduardo's hand in a tight, almost painful grip. His palm is a little clammy and his thumb won't stop moving over the webbing between Eduardo's thumb and forefinger. "Let's go do this."

They walk out into the main room and Mark clears his throat. Slowly, silence spreads out and all the employees turn to look up at them, some curious, others clearly worried.

"Hi," Mark says awkwardly. "I realize most of you will have seen this on the news already, but for those of you who live under a rock when you're not here, I have gotten married to Eduardo Saverin." He nods shortly towards Eduardo, who raises his hand in a brief, incredibly awkward wave.

"Hi," Eduardo says when Mark doesn't continue. "I'm – this will not affect any of you, just so you know. And, um," he glances at Mark, "thank you for keeping the site running over the weekend."

Mark squeezes Eduardo's hand painfully, and he nods jerkily at the employees, who seem to take this as their cue to get back to work. Mark tugs Eduardo down the rows of computers, passing employees who throw out quick, "Congratulations!" and "Best wishes, you guys," as they pass.

A very tall, very thin woman with very, very red hair accosts them and says, "Mark, I have about five hundred messages for you." Then she turns to Eduardo and smiles. "Hi, I'm Jamie. We spoke on the phone."

Eduardo shakes her hand and tries a smile. It comes easier than he had expected. "Thank you for your help, Jamie."

"Good God, he's polite," Jamie says, seemingly to no one. "Mark, the messages are on your desk. Mr. Saverin –"

"Eduardo."

"Eduardo, all right, would you like me to find you a desk? What do you normally do?"

Eduardo stares at her, then sighs. "A desk would be great. I need to talk to my assistant in Singapore." Jamie nods and moves off to talk to some people.

"What do you do?" asks Mark, squinting up at Eduardo. He hasn't released his death grip on Eduardo's hand yet and Eduardo is beginning to lose sensation in his fingers.

"I deal with app designers," Eduardo says. "You're – Mark, you're going to cut off my blood circulation."

"What? Oh." Mark releases Eduardo's hand hurriedly and steps away. "Sorry."

"It's fine," Eduardo says automatically. Then he does a doubletake and stares at Mark. "YOu apologize for that but –"

"Wardo," Mark hisses. "We're – not here."

Eduardo stops and forces himself to calm down. "Right."

Jamie returns a moment later and says, "We've found you a space next to Mark's desk. Come on, I'll show you."

When she says next to Mark's desk, what she apparently actually means is practically on top of Mark's desk. She's done everything but shove the two desks together. There's a paper sign on Eduardo's desk that reads, Eduardo Saverin, Mrs. CEO.

"That was Dustin," she says when she catches Eduardo's horrified look. "We'll get you a real sign soon."

"I'm not working here," Eduardo tries to say, but Jamie has taken Mark aside to talk to him about something, and Eduardo's left with the sinking feeling that marrying Mark apparently means marrying Facebook, too.


*****

Eduardo emails the programmers he was working with in Singapore, telling them that he's not sure what's going to happen. Eduardo knows he's going to have to talk to Mark about this faux-job thing he has going on at the moment, but right now he has fast internet and a state of the art computer to work on.

Eduardo is alerted to lunchtime by the growling of his stomach. He gets up to go get food, then remembers that he's at the Facebook offices and that Mark has the keys to the car.

Eduardo looks at Mark, who is coding with giant headphones over his ears, and has that odd sense of deja vu. He reaches out and gently touches the back of Mark's neck to get his attention.

Mark jerks violently and yanks his headphones off. "Wardo?" he asks, breathing hard. "What?"

"Lunch," Eduardo says. "It's twelve, time to eat."

"I don't –"

"Eat," Eduardo repeats stubbornly. He prods at Mark until Mark gets to his feet. "I don't know what there is to eat."

"We'll – I guess we can go get something," says Mark. He still looks a little dazed and Eduardo is reminded of what happens when you eject an iPod before it's done syncing.

"Come on," Eduardo says and he puts a guiding hand between Mark's shoulderblades, his old college habit coming back to him. Mark, who had seemed tense and a little off-kilter, relaxes into Eduardo's touch. Eduardo resists the urge to yank his hand back and instead says in a soothing voice, "Let's go eat."

Mark says, "I know a place," and he leads the way back out of the offices, though he doesn't move away from Eduardo's hand.

"Can I ask you a question?" Eduardo says as they get in the car.

"You just did," Mark says. Eduardo looks at him and Mark grins a little, ducking his head. "Yeah, go ahead."

"Aren't you worried at all? By this?" Eduardo gestures between the two of them. "We might have to stay married for years, Mark."

Mark shrugs. "I don't have any other prospects. And I like you better than the girls I've dated."

"You sure have a funny way of showing it," mutters Eduardo.

Mark bites his lip and looks like he desperately wants to say something, but instead he just turns the wheel of the car a little harder than is strictly necessary.

Mark chooses a restaurant that's on the other side of the Stanford campus from the Facebook offices. "We could have eaten in the Facebook cafeteria," he tells Eduardo as he fills the meter with coins. "But I thought – well, you'd be more comfortable somewhere else, right?"

Eduardo stares at Mark, honestly astonished by Mark's unprecedented show of consideration. "Yeah," he says slowly after a moment. "Thank you."

Mark smiles again, looking embarrassed, and jerks his head awkwardly towards the restaurant. "Let's go eat."
 
 
 
"You know I can't actually work for Facebook," Eduardo says as they go inside the retaurant. "I have another job."

"I know," Mark says. "But you don't have an office here. So you can work out of our offices until you lease something."

"So I should call my assistant and have her move out here?" asks Eduardo, frowning. "I don't think I can do that."

"Can't she work for you in Singapore?" Mark signals the hostess with an awkward jerk of his head. "You're not going to quit working with the same programmers."

"Oh," Eduardo says, considering this. "You’re right, I should have thought of that. I can definitely gain some more clients here."

"Yeah," Mark agrees. The hostess comes over and smiles at Mark with a hint of flirtatiousness.

"Mr. Zuckerberg, welcome back," she says brightly. "Usual table?"

"Yes, thank you," Mark says, and he nods to Eduardo.

She leads them to a secluded table in the back corner and hands them their menus. She gives Eduardo a slightly dirty look before saying, "Your server will be here in a moment," and returning to the front of the restaurant.

"Wow," Eduardo says, watching her go. "I haven't had a woman hate me that instantly since college."

"It's nothing personal," Mark says, opening his menu. "She came out to California in the hopes of marrying a rich technology magnate. You married me."

"Right." Eduardo opens his own menu and scans it. "What do you recommend?"

"It's all good," Mark says. He puts his menu down and looks at Eduardo for a long moment. "Why Singapore?"

"Why?" Eduardo asks distractedly. "Because it was on the other side of the world from you."

There is a tense silence and Eduardo looks up to see Mark staring at him, his lower lip between his teeth. Mark nods in that curt, off-kilter way that means he's hurt and looks away.

"Mark, I –" Eduardo sighs. "Mark, it's going to take me a while to get over – to get over everything."

"Yeah," Mark says. "I can see that."

"Look, what do you want?" hisses Eduardo. "You screwed me out of the company for some bullshit reason that you wouldn't even tell me and I had to leave the country so that I could avoid the press and keep a low profile! You want to blame someone for me leaving, blame your lawyers."

"I do," Mark says. "I didn't have any say in the settlement."

Eduardo leans back, startled by that admission, and confesses, "Neither did I."

"We shouldn't be talking about this," Mark reminds him.

"We're married," Eduardo retorts. "Isn't there a law against spouses testifying against each other?"

"I wouldn't know," Mark says with a slightly ironic twist of his mouth.

The server comes over about then, tucking a strand of black hair behind his ear. He sees Mark and breaks into a sunny grin. He's gorgeous, Eduardo notes with that same slightly guilty twinge he gets every time he thinks a man is attractive. The server has dimples and very blue eyes, and he obviously has the hots for Mark.

"Mark," he says in a warm, overly-familiar voice. "Nice to see you again."

"Ian," Mark acknowledges with a tilt of his head.

"Is this the husband?" Ian asks, glancing at Eduardo for a fraction of a second. "Not bad."

"Eduardo Saverin," Eduardo butts in before Mark can speak. He smiles, though he doesn't really feel like doing so. "Nice to meet you."

Ian's mouth twitches wryly. "Same here," he says. "Can I take your order?"
 
 
Eduardo orders a sandwich and waits while Mark does the same. When Ian finally leaves, tossing a grin to Mark over his shoulder as he walks away, Eduardo leans across the table and says, "He likes you too."

"Yeah," Mark agrees. "We slept together a few times."

Eduardo's eyebrows go up. "What?"

Mark shrugs. "I thought it was an experience I ought to have."

"An experience – when was this? Does Chris know about this?"

"It was about a year ago and why does Chris need to know?" Mark frowns at Eduardo. "Is this because Chris is gay?"

"No, it's because we're telling people we've been dating for a while! What if Ian said something?"

"Ian wouldn't say anything," Mark says. "He's not out to his parents."

"Are you?"

"We got married last weekend, Eduardo, I'm pretty sure my parents know I have sex with men, too." Mark arches his eyebrows at Eduardo. "If what you're asking is did they know before, then yes." He plays with the fork sitting on the table. "What about your parents?"

"They, uh, they knew," Eduardo says. "I – it was, I never." He stops, recollects himself. "My father didn't speak to me for six months after I told them."

"Oh," Mark says. "I didn't know. How did he take the marriage?"

Eduardo rolls his eyes. "Apparently he's fine with it so long as his son's dating a billionaire."

"Married to a billionaire," Mark corrects and he smiles.

Eduardo snorts and drops his head into his hands. "Yeah. Right."

"By the way," Mark says, "thank you for talking to the employees today."

"It's not a problem. But – are you going to be okay on Friday?"

Mark shrugs. "I don't know. I've been on Oprah before and it wasn't too bad."

"Well," Eduardo says practically. "Chris promised us he'd make us practice before we went. Do you think that will help?"

"I practiced before the Ad Board hearing," Mark says.

Eduardo actually laughs before he can stop himself. He'd forgotten how funny Mark can be at times. "Yeah, let's – let's not have that happen again, all right?"

Mark smirks and looks down.

Ian comes by with their food and drinks not that long after that. He winks at Mark and gives Eduardo a cool smile, then walks away. Eduardo, watching him go, has to admit that he can see the appeal.

"He needs to stop flirting with you," Eduardo tells Mark. "Or you need to not let him."

"He knows I'm married and he flirts anyway. What more do you want me to do?" asks Mark. He eats a french fry. "I can't Jedi mind trick him into forgetting that we slept together."

"Okay, we're going to stop talking about this now," says Eduardo and he picks up his sandwich. Mark looks like he's trying to hide a smile. Eduardo blinks, then decides to let it go.

Eduardo insists on paying when the check comes. He gives Ian the lowest tip he thinks he can get away with, then drags Mark out of the restaurant, past the hostess and out onto the street. They're immediately greeted by a flurry of camera flashes.

"Great," says Eduardo. "Someone must have tweeted where we were."

"Wardo," hisses Mark. "Turn towards me."

Eduardo does and then has to force himself not to step back as Mark steps into his space. Mark rises up onto his toes and rests his hands lightly on Eduardo's chest, bringing his mouth very close to Eduardo's cheek. "Turn your head a little," Mark murmurs.

Eduardo does so, distracted by the fact that Mark is close enough for Eduardo to feel his breath. As he does, he realizes what Mark is doing and he reaches out to take Mark's hand. From the angling of their faces, it will look to the photographers like they're kissing.

"Nice thought," Eduardo whispers to Mark.

"Thank you," Mark says. He sinks back onto the flats of his feet and smiles at Eduardo. "We can do this."

"Right," Eduardo says and they go back to the car, walking close enough to each other for their hands to bump together.


*****

To: Sean Parker (seanparker@foundersfund.com)
From: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
Bcc: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: dude

I suspect a better question is why he would marry me.

 

On Sunday, Sean Parker (seanparker@foundersfund.com) wrote:

>Mark what is this about you getting married to Eduardo? I thought that ship had sailed. Is that why you disappeared in Vegas? and why the fuck would you marry him after everything?

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: you realize we live in the same house

Mark, why did you blind copy me on that?

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Mark Zuckerberg (Markisceo@facebook.com)

Re: you still emailed me back

I wanted to.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: question

Is there anything I should know about Mark? Today we ran into, well, I guess he was an ex. I didn't know about that.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: Come on

Do you really think Mark tells me anything of value? You were the only one he ever really talked to. If you really want to know anything about him, you should ask Jamie.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)

Re: Mark

Hey Mrs. Ceo! (just kidding) Chris said you wanted to ask me about Mark? I can tell you that he never sleeps and he drives me crazy because I have to stay in the office as long as he does. Also, he rarely seems to date and he apparently is very good at keeping secrets, since I barely heard him mention your name (except when he was drunk).

I think it's sweet that you worry. :)

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: hey

I feel offended that you didn't ask me for information on Mark! I am just as knowledgeable as Chris. More so, in fact, because I have no qualms about hacking into people's emails. So ask away!

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: this is your one warning

I promise you that if you hack into my email, there will be dire consequences.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: lighten up

Come on man, you know you want to know the secrets buried in that fuzzy little head of his.

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: forget it

Never mind, Dustin. And stop snooping around other people's emails.
 
 
 
 
To: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Realtor Advice

Jamie–

Mark suggested that I set up an office out here and as I don't know the area very well, I was hoping you could suggest a realtor for me. I am looking for a small office space, since it will probably just be me and an assistant, at least for the time being. Also if you have any suggestions for assistants, I would appreciate it.

Any help you could offer would be great.

Thank you,

Eduardo

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)
CC: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)

Hey Eduardo,

I have forwarded your email to a realtor friend of mine named Lena Zhou. She should be getting in touch with you soon. She's very good, went to Stanford with me.

As for the question of an assistant, I can put out an ad so you can do some interviews. I believe we can loan out an intern for a few days – check with Mark on that.

Jamie

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Lena Zhou (lenazhou@parealty.com)

Re: Office Hunting

Dear Mr. Saverin,

I was given your name and email from our mutual acquaintance Jamie Perry, who informed me that you are looking for an office in the Palo Alto area. I can start as soon as tomorrow morning, if you're amenable.

My phone number is 650-381-2091 if you need to get in touch with me. I can meet you at the Facebook offices tomorrow morning at nine and we can go take a look at some of the sites.

See you tomorrow,

Lena Zhou
Palo Alto Realty
650-381-2091

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)

Re: office hunting

I would like to help you look for an office.

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: office hunting

Why? I don't think it will be very interesting.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: A request

Please take Mark office hunting with you. It would look good and like you guys, you know, actually like each other. Also, I would like a calm day at work.

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: office hunting

All right, you can come along. We're going tomorrow morning from the fb offices.

 

To: Lena Zhou (lenazhou@parealty.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Office Hunting

Dear Lena,

Thank you for agreeing to help me out. My husband Mark wishes to come along tomorrow; I apologize in advance.

Sincerely,
Eduardo


*****

Lena Zhou is petite, curvy, and well-dressed. She had a professional and efficient air about her. Eduardo likes her instantly. She briskly shakes his hand, smiling reassuringly, and says, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Saverin. I hope that we'll be able to find you an office to your liking. Today, we'll take a look at some sites so I can get a feel for your preferences."

"Thank you for agreeing to work on such short notice," Eduardo says fervently. He lowers his voice and says, "And once again, I apologize for Mark."

"I've worked with difficult spouses before," Lena assures him with a small smirk. "I'm sure Mr. Zuckerberg won't be a bother."

"You say that now," Eduardo mutters. He beckons Mark forward from behind him and says, "Mark, this is Lena Zhou."

"Nice to meet you," Lena says politely, offering her hand. Mark doesn't take it and just nods curtly, not making eye contact. Lena arches her eyebrows and Eduardo gives her an  I told you so look .

"Hey, Lena!" calls Jamie from behind them. "Treat my boys nice!"

"I promise I'll get them back in one piece," Lena promises with a smile. She looks back at Eduardo and Mark and says, "Shall we?"


*****

The first office is on the second floor above a Japanese restaurant and has nice, big windows that let in a ton of light. Lena is in the middle of talking up its virtues when Mark announces, "I don't think this is going to work."

Eduardo rolls his eyes. "Mark, you need to explain things a little more if you're going to reject Lena's choices."

"The windows are south-facing, which means you'll have way too much sun and this place will overheat. I note that the air-conditioning was clearly added as an afterthought feature, so the ventilation won't be any good." Mark crosses his arms and glares at Lena. "This place is a joke."

Lena bites her lip like she's trying not to smile and nods. "All right, Mr. Zuckerberg, point well taken. If this place is off the table, then I suggest we move on." She shoots Eduardo an amused look once Mark's back is turned.

"I did warn you," Eduardo says in an undertone.

"Don't worry about it," she says dismissively. "He's – well, he's what I was expecting from what I'd heard about him."

Eduardo snorts out a laugh. "I find it hard to believe that Mark could be anything like anyone expects."

"Well," Lena hedges, "he is a bit more...intense than Jamie said."

"So how do you know Jamie?" Eduardo asks as they get back inside Lena's car.

"We lived in the same hall at Stanford," Lena explains with a smile, and she launches into a story about Jamie's freshman roommate and something about fountain hopping across the Stanford campus.

Eduardo returns the favor by telling the story about Dustin and the goat from their own freshman year. He finds himself pausing, waiting for Mark to interject the way he always had when they'd told the story at Harvard, but Mark remains sullenly silent in the backseat.

The next office is too noisy for Mark, the one after that too small. Eduardo gives up trying to interject his opinion, knowing that Mark's approval or disapproval will ultimately be more important that Eduardo's own position on the matter.

"All right," Lena says around noon. To her credit, she doesn't look at all harried, though her words have become more and more clipped when she speaks to Mark. "I think we should grab lunch and maybe discuss how to balance Mr. Zuckerberg's opinions with what you want, Mr. Saverin."

"It's Eduardo," Eduardo says. He glances back over his shoulder. "Mark? You want to grab something to eat?"

Mark shrugs carelessly, his eyes narrowed at the back of Lena's head.

"I'm hungry," Eduardo volunteers, turning back to smile at Lena. "And Mark won't feed himself unless I force him into it, so we'd better go somewhere."

"All right, there's a pretty good Thai place near the next office on my list," Lena says, glancing at her Blackberry. "That all right?"

Eduardo answers affirmatively without waiting for Mark this time. Mark scowls and looks out the window.
 
 
Lunch is a strange affair. Mark doesn't speak except to occasionally give one of his weird little sarcastic coughs or to give a short yes or no in answer to one of Lena's more direct questions.

Eduardo tries his best to make up for Mark's unfriendliness by asking Lena about her family and her life in Palo Alto. Lena doesn't seem to be fooled. She keeps looking over at Mark with a small, strange smile on her face.

Eduardo excuses himself to go to the restroom towards the end of the meal and when he comes back, Mark has a faint smile on his face and Lena is leaning back in her seat, looking slightly shell-shocked. Eduardo sits back down and Mark settles his hand over Eduardo's wrist, his fingers five points of cool pressure against Eduardo's skin. Eduardo breathes in sharply, suddenly feeling warm and a little short of breath.

Mark is much more pleasant during the remainder of the afternoon, deferring to Eduardo's opinions before firmly crushing them beneath his own assessment of each office. Lena is somehow undamaged despite bearing the brunt of Mark's sarcasm and, well, general Mark-ness.

"So I'll go over the properties we've seen today," she says after dropping them off at the Facebook offices. "I know the two of you are going to be flying to Chicago on Thursday night, so we'll pick things up after you get back."

"Thank you, Lena," Eduardo says sincerely. She smiles at Eduardo and gives Mark a short nod that Mark, surprisingly, returns.

"How was it?" asks Jamie when they come in. "Did you like Lena?"

Mark mutters something that Eduardo can't make out, but Jamie giggles and slaps him on the shoulder in response. She waves at Eduardo and goes off to talk to Dustin.

"That went all right," Eduardo says to Mark optimistically. "You could have been nicer."

Mark shrugs. "I guess."

"You could have been nicer," Eduardo repeats, this time more firmly. "Lena was perfectly nice and the places she showed us were fine."

"None of them were right," Mark says. "And they were too far away."

"Too far away?" Eduardo asks, frowning. "Too far away from here?"

"Yes," Mark says. "You don't have a car."

"I can get one," Eduardo points out.

"But you don't have one." Mark visibly hesitates, which is unusual enough that Eduardo snaps to attention. "Would – do you want to grab something to eat? We can go somewhere nice."

Eduardo stares at Mark, now totally thrown. It feels almost like Mark is asking him out on a date, which feel so ridiculous for so many reasons that Eduardo dismisses the prospect out of hand. "All right," Eduardo says after a moment. "But if we're going somewhere nice, you're going to have to change clothes."

Mark sighs, but looks oddly triumphant. "Let's go, then," he says and he leads the way out to the car. Dustin grins at Eduardo and points finger guns at him, winking outrageously. The last thing Eduardo sees before he passes out of the front doors is Chris whacking the back of Dustin's head with a newspaper.


*****

Mark looks surprisingly nice dressed in a button-down shirt and blazer, though he seems rather uncomfortable and ill at ease. He's slightly jittery and uncomfortable until they're safely ensconced at the back of the restaurant. The atmosphre is intimate and romantic – the majority of the tables are occupied by couples – and the waitress lights the candle at their table with a heavy wink.

"So what's the occasion?" Eduardo asks Mark, opening up his menu. "Is there a reason you wanted to go somewhere nice?"

Mark lifts his shoulders. "I felt like it."

"You felt like taking me somewhere nice?" Eduardo asks, raising his eyebrows. "That's a change."

"When did you ever take me somewhere nice?" asks Mark. "You just bought me beer."

Eduardo snorts involuntarily and Mark smiles slightly. "Yeah," Eduardo agrees, "I guess that's true."

The waitress sets a basket full of bread on the table. Mark picks up one piece and rips it apart methodically over his plate. "Wardo, you know I – I did some things that were – you know Dustin wouldn't speak to me for six months?"

Eduardo waits for Mark to continue, but Mark isn't even looking at him. Finally, Eduardo says, "Why not?"

"I told him not to sign the contract that you signed," Mark says in a low voice. "I – I didn't know exactly what they were doing, but I knew that Peter and Sean had a plan."

Eduardo goes cold all over. "Mark, what are you trying to say?"

"I knew, Eduardo, but I didn't want to destroy you. I wanted you – I wanted your attention." Mark fiddles with bread knife absently. "You were in New York, you – you didn't come out with me."

"I wanted your attention," Eduardo counters in a low, angry voice.

"And then you froze the account and Sean, he convinced me that you were trying to ruin me, trying to ruin Facebook. Which I know now is crazy and not true, but at the time –" Mark looks up, and his face is unguarded, open. It's unnerving. "I'm sorry, Wardo."

Eduardo clenches his hands into fists and restrains himself from exploding at Mark. It's what he's been waiting for, but somehow it doesn't feel satisfying. "You're still saying that it's not your fault, Mark," he hisses. "Why can't you just say it was your fault?"

"It's not a one-person event, Wardo," says Mark. "I let it happen, I'm telling you that now. I wasn't the one who came up with the idea, but I didn't stop them. I went along with it."

"Excuse me," Eduardo says abruptly and he gets up from the table. He finds the bathroom and splashes water on his face, his hands trembling with anger and frustration. Trust Mark to think that one paltry apology would make a difference at this late stage.

He's leaning against the counter when the door opens and Mark says, "I apologized before. The night we got married. But you said you didn't remember." His voice echoes slightly against the marble.

"I don't," Eduardo says. He can't see Mark in the mirror, which makes it easier to talk to him without shouting. "I can't imagine I was pleased."

"You weren't," Mark says. "It's why we were arguing."

Eduardo turns around and looks at Mark. "So you remember?"

Mark shrugs. "I remember that." He takes a few steps toward Eduardo so that they're less than a foot apart. "Do you want to leave?"

"I – no." Eduardo rubs a hand over his face. "You just – you exhaust me, sometimes."

"I've been told," Mark says dryly. "'Like dating a stairmaster.'"

"She shouldn't have said that," Eduardo says softly. "You can be – you're not that bad."

Mark nods and tilts his jaw up a bit. "And I didn't plant the story about the chicken."

"I never thought you did," Eduardo admits.

"Good," Mark says. "Let's eat."


*****

They manage to get through dinner without any further incidents. Eduardo has learned enough about programming through osmosis to talk to Mark about what he's working on.

Mark picks up the check before Eduardo can even begin to protest and he reminds Eduardo, "Shared property," as he gives the waitress his credit card.

Eduardo leans back in his seat, picking up his wine glass and draining the last sip of the fine Pinot the waitress had recommended. He feels pleasantly warm and buoyant; they had gone through two bottles over the course of the meal, with Eduardo drinking rather more than Mark since Mark would be driving them home. He feelsa bit more charitable towards Mark, who has managed not to say anything inadvertently offensive since the beginning of the meal.

"This was nice, Mark," Eduardo says, only slurring the slightest bit. "Thank you."

Mark shrugs and takes the check back from the waitress. "You're welcome." He signs the receipt and pushes his chair back from the table, grabbing his jacket. "Let's go."

Eduardo pulls himself up and slings his arm around Mark's shoulder. "I'm sorry I yelled earlier," he tells Mark. "It's just, sometimes you make me so angry."

"I know," Mark says, pushing open the front door of the restaurant to be confronted by a small clump of reporters and photographers.

Eduardo blinks, startled by the sudden flashing of lights, bright and blinding in his eyes. Mark gently tugs him away towards the valet stand and hands the valet the stub.

"How did they know we were here?" Eduardo asks Mark, frowning. "Why do they even care?"

"They probably care because you sued me five years ago," Mark says dryly.

"Right," says Eduardo. He squeezes Mark's shoulder. "But you deserved it."

Mark smiles slightly and turns his head to look up at Eduardo. "You're drunk," he accuses without any malice.

"Maybe a little," Eduardo admits. He tugs Mark in a bit closer and says, "The press is watching."

"I know," Mark says, his voice a little lower than usual. He rises onto his toes and says, "I'm going to kiss you now," and he presses his mouth to Eduardo's just as a flash goes off.

Eduardo's eyes close automatically and he pulls Mark in closer on instinct. Mark fits neatly against his body and his mouth is soft, surprisingly yielding against Eduardo's.

Eduardo feels hot all over, his hands itching to bury themselves in Mark's hair, and he is acutely aware of every place where Mark is pressed against him – mouth, chest, hips, thighs. Mark sighs a little and Eduardo presses his advantage by biting at Mark's lower lip. Mark shudders all over and that brings Eduardo back to himself. He releases Mark and just barely refrains from taking a horrified step back. Mark looks dazed and a little confused, mouth shiny with spit.

"Your car is here, gentlemen," the valet says helpfully, holding out the keys. Mark turns and snatches them away, then hurries around to the driver's side of the car. Eduardo slides into the passenger seat and folds his hand over his lap, wishing he had someone to talk to about this, because what the fuck just happened.


*****

It takes Eduardo a long time to fall asleep that night. He lies flat on his back in his room and stares up at the ceiling, his mind mercilessly replaying the moment where he had turned Mark's kiss for show into a real one.

He finally manages to fall asleep around three, but sleeps fitfully, waking periodically at real or imagined sounds. He gives up around eight and pulls out his laptop so he can work without having to leave his room and risk running into Mark.

Just as he's opening up his email, he gets a text from Dustin that makes him freeze in horror.

saw your kiss online! nice going big boy. :)

A moment later, it's followed up with a text from Chris.

Well played.

With a feeling of dread, Eduardo pages over to Google and plugs in Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. He's led to Gawker, where there are four pictures of him and Mark from the night before. He only reads the title  –”Facebook Lovebirds Getting Cozy" – before he has to backpage away, his stomach twisting uncomfortably at the intimacy of the photographs.

Then his curiosity overcomes his awkwardness and goes back to look at the photos. In the first one, Mark is staring intently at Eduardo, his hands braced on Eduardo's chest. In the next, Mark has leaned up to press his mouth to Eduardo's, and the next two are disturbingly close shots of them kissing.

"Oh god," he breathes and he closes his laptop with a snap. He picks up his phone and calls Chris, who picks up on the third ring.

"If this is about the photos, I can't ask for them to be taken down and I want them up there," Chris says. "They're great. Almost too great, actually."

"That's why I called," Eduardo says. "I – something happened last night."

There's an ominous silence on the other end. Then Chris asks, "Do I need to be worried that you didn't sign a pre-nup?"

"No, nothing like that. We didn't have a fight. Mark actually – he apologized to me." Eduardo sighs and presses the heel of his hand to his forehead. "And then I kissed him – or I let him kiss me and it all got out of hand. I don't know what happened, I really don't."

Chris is quiet for a moment before he says softly, "Is there something going on, Eduardo? I know I've been a bit – but you know that I do want you and Mark to be happy, right? If you ever really need to get out of this, I can make it happen."

"I know," Eduardo says. "Thanks, Chris. I just – I needed to talk to someone and it was either you or Dustin."

"You made the right choice," Chris says wryly. "You should probably talk to Mark, by the way. He's incredibly crabby today. He nearly fired some intern for mentioning the photos."

Eduardo pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. "Yeah, right. I'll talk to him."

"And you're coming in tomorrow," Chris reminds him. "And you should pack for Chicago, by the way. You're leaving tomorrow evening."

"Right," says Eduardo. "Thanks for not – thanks."

"Sure," Chris says, sounding slightly uncomfortable. "I'll see you tomorrow. And make sure Mark packs something nice for Chicago."
 
Mark arrives home around four, looking annoyed and harried. When he sees Eduardo sitting in the living room, he stops and looks at Eduardo for a long moment, his expression going blank.

"How was work?" Eduardo asks after an uncomfortable pause.

"It was fine," Mark answers shortly. He drops his messenger bag on the floor and goes to the refrigerator, pulling out a beer. "I should go pack."

"Mark," Eduardo says, getting to his feet. "Wait."

"I don't particularly feel like talking, Wardo," Mark says, not bothering to turn around.

"Mark, I –” Eduardo stops, then admits, "I don't know what to say. Are you angry?"

"I'm not angry," Mark says. "I just don't want to talk, Wardo." He heads for the stairs, taking them two at a time. Eduardo follows him, now slightly annoyed by Mark's refusal to communicate.

He finds Mark throwing clothes from his closet into his suitcase. Eduardo sighs and sits down cross-legged on the ground so he can fold Mark's clothes more neatly. Mark narrows his eyes at Eduardo and throws the next shirt with a little more force than is strictly necessary.

"You should bring a nice button-down shirt," Eduardo says as he folds a pair of cargo shorts. "And preferably slacks."

"I'll wear jeans," Mark says stubbornly. "You can wear one of your little suits."

Eduardo refuses to rise to the bait and instead gets to his feet so he can look at Mark's closet. He sorts through the array of t-shirts and hoodies until he finds some button-down shirts. He takes them off their hangers and folds them nearly before handing them over to Mark.

"I can pack for myself, Wardo," Mark says, a little petulantly.

"Chris told me to be sure you packed nice clothes," Eduardo says calmly, turning to the side of the closet where his own clothes are stored. "I think we should just take one suitcase, we're not going for very long."

"Fine," Mark says flatly.

Eduardo ignores the underlying note of anger in Mark's voice and pulls out some clothes. He sits back down on the floor next to the suitcase and starts folding his clothes into one pile and Mark's into another. He can feel Mark staring at him, but he resolutely does not look up until he's finished.

"Did you want to bring anything else?" Eduardo asks as neutrally as he can.

"Why were you avoiding me earlier?" bursts out Mark. "Is it because of last night? Because we're married, that's what married people do, Eduardo. It's not anything to be ashamed of and frankly, I don't think –”

"I'm not ashamed, Mark," Eduardo interrupts, frowning. "And I thought you didn't want to talk about this."

"Then why were you avoiding me?"

Eduardo stares at him in disbelief. "Mark, until five days ago we had barely spoken since I sued you. We got married in a drunken fit!"

"Do you regret it?" demands Mark. "Do you regret kissing me?"

"You kissed me," Eduardo corrects.

"And you kissed me back," Mark says. "Do you regret it?"

"Mark, I –”

"Do you regret it?" Mark repeats, louder now.

"No!" Eduardo bursts out without even thinking about it. He takes a step back, lifting a hand to his eyes. "God, I can't believe I just said that," he mutters to himself, his stomach churning with anxiety.

Mark tugs his hand away from his eyes a moment later. "I don't see what your problem is," Mark says, jaw jutting forward slightly combatively. "Why were you avoiding me?"

"Because I don't know what it means," Eduardo says, his mouth dry. "Mark, I – I hated you."

"I don't think that's relevant," Mark says and he kisses Eduardo, pushing him back until Eduardo's back hits a wall.
 
Eduardo had never thought of Mark in a sexual way before. Mark had always seemed vaguely asexual, despite his interest in getting a girlfriend. Aside from that one bathroom incident, Eduardo had never even been aware of Mark's sexual adventures in college.

But now Mark has his thigh between Eduardo's legs and his hands have worked their way under Eduardo's shirt, his fingers cool against Eduardo's heated skin. Every time he moves his hands, it sends a shudder through Eduardo's body and Eduardo can't stop pressing himself into Mark's thigh for some friction. Mark kisses Eduardo until Eduardo is breathless and panting for air, and then he yanks Eduardo's shirt up.

Eduardo lifts his arms helpfully and together they work the shirt off, throwing it to the floor. Eduardo thumps back against the wall, shockingly cold against his skin. Mark drops to his knees, looking determined.

"Oh god," Eduardo says involuntarily as Mark opens up Eduardo's pants. Mark smirks and mouths at Eduardo's cock through the thin cotton of Eduardo's briefs. "Mark, you don't –”

"Shut up, Wardo," Mark says and he yanks Eduardo's briefs down. Eduardo flails out and settles his hands in Mark's curly hair, trying hard not to pull or yank. Mark just kneels there for a moment, staring at Eduardo's cock as if committing it to memory, and then he takes it into his mouth.

"Meu deus," Eduardo swears and he does his best not to move his hips as Mark wraps his hands around the base of his cock. Eduardo tries not to think about where Mark might have learned to give head – Ian's face flashes in front of his eyes before he banishes the thought – and breathes out hard.

Mark is making horribly obscene noises, hungry and wet sounds that make Eduardo's legs shake. Eduardo tightens his fingers in Mark's hair and croaks, "Mark, I'm going to –” but Mark just takes Eduardo in deeper, like he's trying to show off. Eduardo's knees buckle when he comes and he barely manages to hold himself upright. Mark pulls off with a soft, dirty sound and smirks up at Eduardo, his mouth red and shiny.

Eduardo falls to his knees and pulls Mark in for a kiss, licking Mark's lips clean. Mark makes a soft noise and presses himself into Eduardo, his mouth opening easily to Eduardo's. Eduardo slides his hand into Mark's shorts and jerks him off while Mark pants damply into the side of Eduardo's neck. Mark, predictably, is completely silent when he comes; he just shudders hard and goes limp in Eduardo's arms.
 
Eduardo gets shakily to his feet and tugs his briefs up before collecting his shirt and pants into his arms. He offers a hand to Mark, but Mark is already getting to his feet, not even seeming to notice Eduardo's hand. Mark looks even more rumpled than usual, but now Eduardo finds Mark's dishevelment oddly sexy.

"Mark, why – why did you, um." Eduardo stops awkwardly and fidgets slightly. "We shouldn't have done that."

"It's just sex, Wardo," Mark says, sounding annoyed. "What exactly is wrong with it?"

Eduardo opens his mouth, and then realizes that he doesn't actually have an answer other than it just feels wrong, somehow. "Never mind," he says, somewhat lamely. "I just – this isn't what I expected."

Mark tilts his head slightly. "Is that bad?"

Eduardo rubs a hand over his face and says, "No, I guess not."

Mark jerks his head in a nod. "Good." He starts shedding his clothes shamelessly and Eduardo instinctively turns his head away. Eduardo hears Mark pad out of the room into the adjoining bathroom and then the sound of the shower switching on.

Eduardo sighs and shuffles out of the room, snagging a change of clothes from the closet on his way out. He goes into the bathroom he's been using and dumps his clothes in the hamper. He turns on the shower as hot as he can stand and stands beneath the spray with his eyes closed, his mouth still feeling raw and bruised from Mark's kisses.

He scrubs at his skin until he feels raw and cleaner than he ever has in his life. He heads back to his room in a fresh pair of briefs and a t-shirt, and climbs into bed, his hands shaking. He lies flat on his back in the large bed and rubs his fingertips over his mouth lightly, then curls up onto his side. He doesn't fall asleep for a long time.


*****

Eduardo is reluctant to go downstairs the next morning, but he's wary enough of Chris's righteous anger to drag himself up. He finds Mark already downstairs with a freshly brewed pot of coffee. Mark holds out a mug to Eduardo and eats what looks like a protein bar while Eduardo sips at the coffee, a little baffled by Mark's nonchalance.

"I finished packing," Mark says after a moment. "I'll bring the suitcase out to the car before we go. Was there anything else you wanted to throw in?"

Eduardo shakes his head. "No, I was just going to put some books in my laptop bag." He leans back against the kitchen counter and watches Mark as he leaves. He sips at the coffee and tries to ignore the little stirring of arousal in his stomach at the way Mark's t-shirt is slipping a little to show a bit more of his shoulder.

They head to the Facebook offices after Eduardo finishes collecting his laptop and a book for the plane. Chris isn't ready for them  –”We'll talk about it over lunch, all right?" he says distractedly in between shouting matches on his phone – so Eduardo sits at his desk, which still has its charming label, and pretends to work while discretely watching Mark out of the corner of his eye.

Eduardo isn't exactly a monk. He goes on dates, he has sex, he's had a few girlfriends and slightly fewer boyfriends since Christy, but it's been a while since the sex has been as good as it had been with Mark. Eduardo feels like he can still feel the phantom touch of Mark's mouth against his skin and he shifts uncomfortably.

Chris comes over to him around eleven and sets a manila envelope on his desk. He stands between Eduardo and Mark's desks and lowers his voice as he says quietly, "In case you need them."

Eduardo frowns and opens the envelope. Inside are legal documents and at first he's confused, wondering if this is some kind of hoop they have to jump through, and then he realizes that they're divorce papers.

He looks up at Chris, who's watching with a calm, slightly sad expression, and says, "Thanks."

Chris nods and says, "Just let me know if you decide to use them." He gets up and Eduardo puts the envelope in the bottom drawer of his desk. He glances over at Mark despite himself, but Mark doesn't seem to have noticed anything, his gaze still focused on his computer screen while he types.

Eduardo gets up to get a drink of water and runs into Jamie in the canteen. She's leaning against the counter and eating salad out of a plastic container. When she sees him, she smiles and asks, "I didn't get to ask before, did you make any decisions about offices?"

Eduardo rolls his eyes and says, "Mark vetoed all of them."

Jamie spears a tomato and eats it, looking thoughtful. She swallows and suggests, "Try looking at offices closer to here. Maybe then he'll brighten up a bit." She winks and goes back to eating her salad.

Eduardo gets himself a water bottle and thinks for a moment before asking, "You said Mark talked about me when he was drunk?"

Jamie looks surprised by the question, but she sets her salad down and says, "Yeah, it happened a couple of times."

"What did he say?" Eduardo asks as casually as he can.

Jamie shrugs. "Nothing too scandalous. Just, you know, that he misses you and that he wishes that he had done things differently." She gently pokes him in the shoulder. "He really cares about you, Eduardo. I think the two of you did good."

"Right," Eduardo says blankly. He lifts his hand awkwardly in farewell. "Thanks."

"Any time, babe," she says cheerfully. "You two have fun in Chicago."

Eduardo returns to his seat and stares blankly at the computer screen until Chris calls his name ten or fifteen minutes later.
 
Chris has ordered them an array of Chinese food, which is spread out over the conference table. Dustin is already sitting in one of the chairs, his legs kicked up onto the table while he eats noodles out of a carton.

"Okay," Chris says grimly. "It's time we talk about the interview you will be doing tomorrow."

Mark silently slides a paper plate over to Eduardo and hands him a pair of chopsticks. Eduardo mutters his thanks and doesn't notice Dustin's astonished look until after he's heaped a small pile of fried rice onto his plate.

"You guys are adorable," Dustin says a moment later with a huge, shit-eating grin. "Seriously. I think I'm getting diabetes."

"Shut up, Dustin," Chris says as he wrestles with an eggroll. "We've discussed in vague terms what the two of you will be telling people, but we need to get everything down now so that there aren't any slip-ups."

"Sure," Mark says. "We said two years ago for when we met again."

"Say it was over email. Or if you want it to be poignant or whatever, say it was on Facebook," Dustin butts in, waving his chopsticks demonstratively. "People will eat that shit up."

"Let's go with the Facebook reconnection," Chris says. He actually has a notepad and he's scribbling furiously. "And, Eduardo, at first you were reluctant to accept the request –”

"–but you were so curious that you clicked accept," Dustin says dramatically, clutching at his chest. "And the rest is history!"

"And you started dating around a year ago," Chris says, glaring at Dustin.

"What should we say if she asks about the lawsuit?" asks Mark.

"Tell her that it's in the past and that you'd prefer to leave it there," Chris says.

"Oh, please," Dustin scoffs. "Like anyone's going to accept that! Eduardo here sued Marky Mark for six hundred million and you think Oprah's going to be okay with a forgiven and forgotten answer? You wish, Christopher." He turns to Mark and Eduardo. "You are going to tell her that you both regret the circumstances that led to the lawsuit and that you're glad it hasn't impeded your current relationship."

Eduardo narrows his eyes at Dustin suspiciously. "It sounds like you've thought about this before."

Dustin shrugs. "I have a lot of free time while I'm waiting for code to compile," he says with a grin.

"The interview will probably be about ten minutes total," Chris says, completely ignoring Dustin and looking at his sheet. "Because of the last minute booking, they didn't get any interesting footage of you two at home or whatever, so they said they want to talk to you a bit while you're getting ready for the show. Something about wanting a video to play before the two of you come on?"

"Oh, yeah," Dustin says. "They did that when Mark made that donation. Remember? There was some of his house and of the office."

Chris looks a little shifty as he says, "Oh, right," and Dustin gasps overdramatically.

"You totally didn't watch it!" he says accusingly, pointing at Chris. "You swung that big, dramatic interview and then you didn't watch it!"

"It wasn't that big of an interview," Mark says.

Eduardo hadn't seen it either; he'd heard about it, but he had kind of thought it was Mark trying to deal with the negative backlash from the privacy settings uproar. He glances over at Mark and sees that Mark is picking at his food disinterestedly.

"It'll be fine," Eduardo tells Mark. "It's just ten minutes."

Mark looks at Eduardo steadily and says, "Ten minutes can be a long time."


*****

They leave for SFO around two. Eduardo has grown to hate air travel after years of travel between Singapore and the States and he's grateful that the flight to Chicago is short. Chris completely ignores them once they're in the airport and spends the time on the phone with his boyfriend.

Mark is reading a book that is meant to teach Mandarin Chinese, his face a mask of concentration. Eduardo tries reading his book, but keeps getting distracted when Mark's foot bumps against his or when Mark says something in Chinese under his breath.

Chris has booked them adjacent seats in first class and Eduardo immediately claims the window seat. He stares out the window until he drifts off into a light and restless sleep.

They land in O'Hare around ten p.m. and Chris gets them into a car that they take to the hotel. Eduardo walks into his room, Mark trailing behind him, and finds what looks like some sort of honeymoon suite. There's a bottle of champagne and a ridiculous bouquet of roses with a sign that says, Congratulations Mr. Zuckerberg & Mr. Saverin.

"If Dustin is behind this, I'll kill him," Eduardo says under his breath, picking up the sign in morbid curiosity.

"Dustin would not be so subtle," Mark says dryly, dropping their luggage at the foot of the bed. Which, naturally, draws Eduardo's attention to the fact that there's only one bed.

"Oh," he says, staring at the king size bed with some trepidation. "I guess – I'll take the left side?"

"Fine," Mark says. "I'm going to take a shower." He starts shedding clothes, dropping his hoodie and t-shirt on the ground as he goes. Eduardo gets a flash of pale skin before he turns away. He strips off his own clothes and folds them neatly onto a chair. He contemplates Mark's clothes for a while before he gives in and folds them, too, setting them on top his own. He slides in between the exquisitely soft sheets and rolls onto his side so that his back is facing the middle.

He listens to the sound of the shower until it shuts off. The door opens a moment later and there's the sound of footsteps. The mattress dips as Mark slides in on the other side, bringing with him the smell of shampoo and the warm dampness of freshly showered skin. Eduardo squeezes his eyes shut and pretends to be asleep.

He hears Mark let out a sigh and then Mark flicks off the bedside lamp, throwing the room into darkness. Eduardo lies there, listening to the quiet sound of Mark's breathing, and slowly drifts off, feeling oddly comfortable and safe.

Their wake-up call comes at nine the next morning. Eduardo jerks upright and scrambles to grab the phone, still groggy.

"'lo?" he asks, pressing his hand to his forehead.

"This is your wake-up call," Chris says, sounding annoyingly awake. "Get Mark out of bed and get ready. We'll have breakfast and then go to the studio."

"Right," says Eduardo. "I'll see you in a few minutes, then." He hangs up and leans over to smack Mark's shoulder. "Mark. Mark, wake up."

Mark stirs and opens his eyes slowly. "What?"

"Get up, Chris wants us downstairs soon." Eduardo rolls out of bed and opens the suitcase to claim a new set of clothing. When he straightens, he catches Mark's eye only to have Mark look away quickly.

Eduardo heads into the bathroom and gets in the shower. When he emerges, dressed and coiffed, Mark is sitting at the desk his laptop, his brow slightly furrowed in concentration.

"Mark," Eduardo says, going over to touch Mark lightly on the shoulder. "Come on, let's go downstairs."

Mark looks up and starts slightly. "You, um. You look nice," he says and he immediately looks away again, closing the lid of his laptop. "Is Chris waiting?"

"He said he'd be down there," says Eduardo. "Come on, Mark."

Mark gets to his feet and follows Eduardo out of the room. They take the elevator down to the third floor with a couple of twenty-somethings who keep sneaking looks at them. Finally, one of them asks, "Are you Mark Zuckerberg?" She giggles slightly as she speaks.

"Yes," Mark says.

"Then you must be Eduardo," the girl says. "Sorry, you – we think it's great that you guys are setting such an example for gay couples. I mean, the CEO of a company like –” Her friend elbows her in the side and she says, "Sorry, um. Congratulations." She smiles brightly and slightly awkwardly.

Mark seems at a loss for words, so Eduardo steps in and says, "Thank you very much. We appreciate your support." He wraps his hand around Mark's wrist as the doors open and he tugs Mark out of the elevator.

"It was nice meeting you!" the girl calls as the doors shut. Eduardo huffs out a laugh and shakes his head.

"Talk about a flashback," he mutters, mostly to himself.

"You mean with Christy and Alice," Mark says. He considers it for a moment. "I suppose. Though they didn't ask us for drinks."

Eduardo rolls his eyes and heads into the dining room. He spots Chris's blond head and walks over to him, dragging Mark along with him. He sits down across from Chris and says, "So we're here."

"I can see that," Chris says dryly. "Eat. I don't know when we're getting lunch." He waves at the waiter and waits while Eduardo and Mark order. "So let's talk image," he says as the waiter walks away. "We need to present a picture of the two of you that will leave no doubt that you're in love."

"Are people doubting the marriage?" Mark asks, sounding slightly offended.

"No, but my point is that I don't want to give them any reason to." Chris cuts up his pancakes into neat triangles and eats slowly. "You've been doing a great job of making it seem like this wasn't a drunken mistake, so continue on as you have been. And Mark, do your best to be polite."

Mark's mouth twists slightly and he mutters, "Polite," as if it's a foreign word. Eduardo laughs a little despite himself, the sound quiet and only slightly bitter. Mark looks over at him and catches his eye, smiling. Eduardo looks away as the waiter arrives with their breakfast and sees that Chris is watching them with an strangely pleased expression.
 
 
They arrive at the studio around ten and get their little security passes. They're led to the green room, where there are couches, some snacks, and people milling in and out.

A harried PA wearing a headset comes up to them and says in one explosion of words, "Hi, we already have news footage from earlier this week and B roll from the last time Mr. Zuckerberg was here, but we need some footage of you looking all romantic."

"Yes," says Chris, looking pleased. "Excellent."

"Also," she says, throwing him an amused glance, "hi, welcome. Sorry about the chaos, but this is all pretty last minute and we want to air this segment on Monday. My name's Rachel, I'll be your cruise director for today. Her majesty herself will be meeting with you as soon as you're done with make-up, but the cameras are going with you starting now." She gestures over a couple of men who are carrying a camera and a boom microphone.

"Jesus," Eduardo says involuntarily and Mark reaches out to grab Eduardo's hand in a tight grip.

"Like I said, it's a tad chaotic right now," Rachel says, looking down at her clipboard. "Right, follow me." She gestures them down the hall.

Mark is as stoic as always while the make-up artists poke and prod at his face. Eduardo tries not to flinch as they put foundation on him and do something to his hair to make it even more coiffed than usual.

Rachel retrieves them when they're done and leads them back to the green room, where Oprah is waiting with a smile on her face. "Hello," she says. "Welcome, sit down. Let's talk a little."

Eduardo feels a little faint as he sits down. He can't quite look away from her, unable to believe that he's in this situation. Mark scoots close to him, bumping their feet together. Eduardo takes a breath, steadied by Mark's proximity, and manages to dredge up a smile for Oprah.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Eduardo," Oprah says warmly. "I've heard wonderful things about you. And Mark, it's good to see you again."

Mark nods shortly and fidgets a little. "Yes," he says. Chris, who's hovering off to the side, slaps his hand to his forehead.

Oprah grins a little. "All right, I'll be asking you some pretty easy questions. Don't worry, it won't be anything too personal. We'll just talk, all right?" She looks squarely at Eduardo as she says this and he relaxes a little.

"Thank you," Eduardo says sincerely.

"There we go," Oprah says. "So how was the flight? How are you settling in, Eduardo?"

"The flight was fine, boring," Eduardo says with a laugh. "I'm settling in just fine, all of my things were shipped from Singapore over the weekend."

"Ah, Singapore," Oprah says. "How did you like living there?"

They chat for a while, Mark remaining conspicuously silent next to him. By the time Oprah excuses herself, Eduardo has relaxed and isn't feeling quite so nervous about the interview.

"She's nice," he comments to Mark.

"She's Oprah," Mark says, sounding slightly confused. "What were you expecting?"

"I don't know, I don't exactly rub elbows with the rich and famous the way you do," says Eduardo.

"You are the rich and the famous, Wardo," Mark reminds him with a slight smile.

Eduardo snorts and says, "Yeah. I guess I am."


*****

Mark and Eduardo are escorted to the wings of the stage at around one. Eduardo intertwines his fingers with Mark's and they wait offstage while Oprah gives them an introduction.

"You've seen them in the headlines, you've probably gone looking at the Facebook photos. They're a power couple for the modern age and I'm very glad to have them here. So please welcome back Mark Zuckerberg and his husband, Eduardo Saverin!" says Oprah in her big, booming voice. Mark tightens his hand on Eduardo's and they walk out onto the stage together. The audience is applauding loudly, but Eduardo tries not to look at them, knowing it'll just make him more nervous.

"Welcome back, Mark," Oprah says warmly. "It's nice to have you here again."

"Thank you," Mark says with a nod of his head.

"And Eduardo, thank you for joining us." She smiles widely at him. She gestures at the sofa and the two of them sit down, legs pressed together. "So. It's been about a week, how are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling great," Mark says, settling his hand on Eduardo's knee. Eduardo leans back, stretching his arms out along the back of the sofa. "It's great to have Wardo in my life for good."

He actually sounds sincere, which is nice. Eduardo watches Mark while Oprah asks him some questions about the last time he was on, about Facebook's progression, and then she asks, "So let's talk about the two of you."

Eduardo straightens up while the audience bursts into laughter.

"What would you like to know?" asks Mark.

"Well, let me ask Eduardo – you said to me that you've been living in Singapore?"

"Yes. I have been working with app – um, Facebook app – developers." Eduardo smiles. "It's a beautiful country, but I'm glad to be back here."

"I'm sure." Oprah pauses for dramatic effect, then says. "Obviously, the big question on everyone's mind is how the two of you were able to overcome your differences. It's common knowledge that you sued Mark for more than half a billion dollars and now the two of you are married."

"There were some...unfortunate events," says Eduardo, remembering Dustin's advice on what to say. "We both regret what happened, but we're glad that it hasn't affected our relationship."

"How did the two of you reconnect?" asks Oprah.

"Over Facebook." Eduardo places his hand over Mark's and smiles, feeling very false. "Mark sent me a friend request. I was a little reluctant to accept, but – how could I not? I had to know what he had to say." There's laughter and some smattering of applause from the audience.

"That's very sweet," remarks Oprah. "The website that broke you two up brought you together. What did you say, Mark, to get Eduardo to forgive you?"

Mark shrugs. "I told him that I was sorry, that it was my fault. There was a lot that needed to be said."

"That's fantastic," Oprah says. "How did the two of you start dating?"

"We were in the same place at the same time and we got together for a quiet dinner," invents Eduardo. "I missed Mark."

Oprah looks at Mark, who bites his lip for a moment before saying, "Wardo tries to make me a better person. He does make me a better person. I've always, I've always cared a great deal for him. Having him back is, is the best thing, I guess, that could have happened to me." He sounds furiously awkward, but the audience doesn't seem to mind, as they start applauding before he's even finished speaking.

Eduardo feels like someone has punched him in the sternum. Mark doesn't sound like he's making things up on the spot; it sounds like he's thought about it before.

"That's wonderful." Oprah asks them a few more lowball questions about getting married (spur of the moment, but a good decision), outing themselves on Facebook (oddly fitting), and the state of the company (there won't be any changes), but Eduardo doesn't really hear most of the conversation, answering mechanically when he's spoken to.

"Thank you so much for coming," says Oprah finally and they stand to shake her hand before leaving together. Eduardo's heart is pounding in his chest and he barely hears Chris's congratulations, just replaying Mark's words in his head.
 
"Do you want to grab something to eat?" Chris asks, touching Eduardo's shoulder. From his tone and the concerned look on his face, it's not the first time he's asked. "Are you hungry?"

"No," Eduardo says faintly. Mark is facing away from him, talking to Rachel. "I want to go back to the hotel."

"Get your make-up off and we'll go," Chris says, gently shoving Eduardo in the direction of the dressing room. "Go on, I'll get the car."

Eduardo heads to the room and washes his face clean, scrubbing until his skin feels raw and new. He emerges and heads out to the exit. Mark is waiting there, already make-up free. The car pulls up a moment later with Chris sitting in front. Eduardo climbs in back and rubs his hands up and down his thighs, his skin prickling with anticipation.

"Good job, you two," Chris says when they arrive back at the hotel. "We're flying back home tomorrow morning, so get any sight-seeing you wanted to do out of the way now." He nods to them and takes the stairs.

"Come on," Eduardo says to Mark and he gets into the elevator. They get to their room, Mark looking slightly perplexed, and Eduardo shuts the door firmly behind them.

"What's going on?" asks Mark, frowning.

"Those things you said, that you missed me," Eduardo says. "It was true? You meant it?"

"I always mean what I say," Mark says, which is more or less true from Eduardo's experience. "Why?"

Eduardo swallows hard, staring at Mark's face, and then pushes Mark up against the back of the door. Mark's eyes widen and Eduardo kisses Mark hard, threading his hands through Mark's hair. Mark arches up, making a soft noise, and starts working Eduardo's shirt out of his pants.

Eduardo kisses down across Mark's jaw, his neck, his collarbone. Mark's skin is soft and cool, and Eduardo can't help but suck a mark into the pale skin. He drops his hands to Mark's waist and hooks his fingers into Mark's beltloops.

"Bed," he says, mouth right up against Mark's ear, and Mark nods quickly.

Eduardo drags Mark to the bed and pushes him down. Mark falls back, looking delightfully out of sorts. Eduardo yanks the zipper of Mark's jeans down and then tugs them off altogether.

"I want you to fuck me," Mark announces as Eduardo bends to kiss the inside of Mark's thigh. Eduardo jerks in surprise and looks up to glare at Mark.

"You can't just say things like that," Eduardo says.

"Why not?" asks Mark.

"It's just not what people do." Eduardo has to admit that the idea has merit, though. He shrugs off his suit jacket and undoes the buttons of his shirt, one by one. Mark props himself up on his elbows and scowls impatiently. Eduardo smirks and slows down a little, taking his time and relishing the way Mark's eyes track his movements.

He climbs onto the bed and pulls Mark up to kiss him again, slow and open-mouthed and dirty. Mark hums slightly and then pulls away so he can get his shirt off. Then he abruptly shoves at Eduardo until Eduardo falls back against the mattress.
 
"What are you –” starts Eduardo, but then Mark takes off Eduardo's pants. He wraps a hand around Eduardo's cock and Eduardo gasps, hips arching off the bed.

"Wait a second," Mark says and he slides off the bed, bending to rummage around in the suitcase. Eduardo straightens up and stares unabashedly at Mark's ass. Mark straightens, holding a condom and a small packet of lube, which he tosses onto the bed.

"Optimistic, weren't you," says Eduardo with a wry smile.

"Pragmatic," Mark corrects. He tugs off his underwear and Eduardo's gaze is drawn down to Mark's cock. "Put the condom on."

Eduardo grabs the packet and rips it open. He slides it on with shaking hands while Mark gets back on the bed and empties the lube onto his fingers. Eduardo's mouth falls open slightly as Mark reaches back to open himself up, letting out short breaths.

"It's been a while," Mark announces after opening up. "But I think we'll be fine." He wraps his slick hand around Eduardo's cock and strokes lightly. "Ready?"

"For fuck's sake," Eduardo starts and Mark smirks as he settles himself over Eduardo. Mark presses himself onto Eduardo's cock slowly and Eduardo swears as Mark slides down. "Jesus."

"Just Mark," Mark says and he rolls his hips, making Eduardo gasp. He presses his hand down on Eduardo’s chest and fucks back onto Eduardo’s cock. His eyes are half-closed and his mouth is slightly open as he arches his back. Eduardo clutches at the bedspread, his knuckles going white, and he gasps out, “Mark –”

Mark places his free hand over Eduardo’s right hand, tangling their fingers together. Eduardo groans and presses his hips up. Mark lets out a small gasp and his eyes fall shut as he rides Eduardo’s cock in slow, practiced motions. He looks gorgeous and impossibly human, sweat starting at the edge of his hairline, the long line of his throat elegant as he throws his head back.

"Wardo," Mark breathes. "Wardo, I need – I need you –”

Eduardo wraps his left hand around Mark's cock and jerks him off as best he can, though the rhythm is off and Eduardo isn't exactly coordinated at the moment. Mark lets out a stuttering breath and comes all over Eduardo's chest, his hand tightening on Eduardo's and the nails of his other hand scratching at Eduardo's chest. One of his nails catches at Eduardo's nipple and Eduardo's hips jerk up hard as he comes.

Mark rolls off of him and falls onto his back, the sound of his breathing harsh in the quiet room. Eduardo drags a hand through the mess on his stomach and says in a faint voice, "I should probably get cleaned up."

"Probably," agrees Mark, making no move to help him. Eduardo lies there for a few minutes before he's able to muster up the energy to get up and head to the bathroom. He wipes himself off with a wash cloth and throws the condom away. He looks at his reflection in the mirror and sees that his face is flushed hectic red, his mouth looks sore, and there are slightly raised lines on his chest from Mark's nails. Eduardo touches the lines gently with the tips of his fingers.

"Shit," he says softly to himself. "What have I gotten myself into?"

He splashes some water on his face, then goes back out into the bedroom. Mark is on his laptop, wearing Eduardo's shirt, and typing furiously. Eduardo sighs, tugs on his briefs, and sits on the edge of the bed.

"Mark?" He waits, but Mark doesn't respond. "Mark."

Mark turns and asks, "Is something wrong?"

Eduardo takes in Mark's blank expression and says, "No. Nothing's wrong. Go back to work."

Mark eyes him suspiciously for a moment, then turns back to the computer and begins typing again. Eduardo lies back and stares at the ceiling, idly rubbing his hand over the marks on his chest.


*****

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)

Re: Your interview!

Hey guys! Congrats on the interview, I'm already hearing some good buzz. They've cut together a great little promo for the episode already; you should check it out.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that Lena called the office – she thinks she found a good location that she wants you to take a look at after you get back. She said she'd call you when you got back into town.

Mark, I've attached a bunch of information that Monica in finance wanted you to see. I don't think it's urgent, but just take a look at it before you come back.

Jamie

p.s. Did you like the champagne? It was Dustin's idea, but he had me take care of it because he didn't know the hotel you were staying in.

 

To: Amelia Kim (akim@facebook.com); Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com); Devon Cho (dcho@facebook.com); Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); George Kameda (gkameda@facebook.com); Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com); Lucas Schwartz (lschwarts@facebook.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); (see complete list)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovtiz@facebook.com)

Re: oprah viewing partay!!!!

hello peeps!

As you know, our fearless leader and Mrs. CEO have gone to Chicago to appear on the OPRAH SHOW! Now, Christopher tells me that the interview went really well and who doesn't want to see Mark darling strut his stuff?

So in the spirit of team building and true love, I will be hosting a viewing of the episode on Monday at 4 p.m. in the Star Wars conference room. BRING FOOD BITCHES.

your ever loving secondary overlord,
Dustin

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: watching party?

Seriously, Dustin?

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: live a little

We did it the last time Mark was on Oprah! It was pretty entertaining and besides you assholes didn't have a real wedding so this is your substitute reception. Or, you know, substitute bachelor party (though from what I remember about that night, I think we might have already taken care of that).

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: right

Fine, is there anything you want me to bring?

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovtiz@facebook.com)

Re: hmmm

Your husband.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Sandra Saverin (saverin312@aol.com)

Re: Oprah

Sweetie you did not tell me you were going to be on Oprah! I saw the commercial today and you look very sweet and very happy. I am glad for you! That boy Mark looks like he has finally realized how lucky he got with you. It's about time in my opinion. You were so devoted to him in college and what did he do? He just did not appreciate you.

Please get back to me on the subject of having a family dinner. I want to speak with Mark and so does your father.

Love,
Mom


*****

They wake up early on Saturday morning and fly back to California, landing at SFO around eleven thirty. Chris's boyfriend is waiting for them there and he gives Chris a long, affectionate kiss. Eduardo looks away, feeling awkward, and inadvertently catches Mark's eye. Mark has a strange, unfamiliar expression on his face and Eduardo can't parse it at all.

Chris and his boyfriend drop them off at home, Chris saying again, "Good job, you two," before they speed off. Eduardo glances over at Mark, who's holding onto the suitcase, and then heads for the house.

"I need a key," Eduardo says when he abruptly realizes that he can't actually get inside. "Why haven't I gotten a key yet?"

"I'm not sure," Mark admits. "I have a spare inside, let me give that to you." He heads inside the house and disappears upstairs.

Eduardo follows him into the office, where Mark is rifling through the drawers. After a minute of searching, he produces a key, which he hands to Eduardo. Eduardo takes it and, for a moment, feels like something significant has just happened.

The feeling fades once Eduardo has attached the key to his keyring with his other (now mostly useless) keys. Mark watches him stoically the whole time, and when Eduardo looks up, Mark meets his gaze squarely.

"Good?" asks Mark.

"Yes. Thanks." Eduardo stands there for a moment, feeling he should say something else, but he can't think of what he should say. He nods once, curtly, and turns away.

"Wardo," Mark says abruptly. Eduardo turns back to look at him. Mark doesn't say anything, though, and Eduardo waits patiently until it's evident that Mark has nothing to say.

"I'm going to unpack and do the laundry," Eduardo tells Mark. "If you remember what you were going to say, come get me." He leaves then, not looking back to see how Mark reacts.

There's something soothing about doing the laundry. It's methodical, orderly, neat – and Eduardo needs some orderliness in his life right now. He can't seem to think straight when he's around Mark, vacillating between anger, pleasure, confusion, and arousal at any given time. He doesn't even know what he wants any more. When Chris had given him the divorce papers, Eduardo hadn't felt happiness or relief – he'd, well, felt anxious. Sad.

Eduardo shoves the last of Mark's shirts into the washing machine and switches it on. He rubs his forehead, then goes to sit out in the living room. He channel surfs until he finds a channel showing one of the Indiana Jones movies.

He watches idly, allowing himself to be immersed in the story, and almost misses Mark coming downstairs. Mark sits down next to him and says, "I thought you didn't like this one."

Eduardo frowns and glances over at Mark. "What?"

"This movie. Because of the dad. Every time Dustin watched it, you left." Mark shrugs. "I figured it was because of the dad."

Eduardo looks back at the screen and says, "It's only the beginning that bothers me."

Mark nods thoughtfully and leans back on the sofa, crossing his arms over his chest. The two of them watch the film in companionable silence until the washing maching beeps and Eduardo has to go move the clothes into the dryer.

He leans against the dryer for a few minutes, the sounds of the television and the dryer blending into a pleasant buzz. He closes his eyes briefly only to hear a quiet knock.

He opens his eyes again to see Mark standing in the doorframe. "What is it?" he asks Mark.

Mark steps into the laundry room and Eduardo straightens up, circling so that he doesn't feel as hemmed in. "Wardo, do you remember how we met?"

"It was an AEPi party," Eduardo says promptly. "Why?"

"You walked up to me," Mark says. "You walked up to me and just started talking to me. No one did that."

Eduardo remembers that, remembers seeing Mark standing on the far side of the room with a slightly annoyed expression on his face. He remembers thinking that Mark looked like he needed someone to talk to, which is stupid to think about now. "I don't know," Eduardo lies. "I just did."

Mark eyes him suspiciously, then leans against the washing machine. "Do you regret it? Talking to me that night?"
 
Eduardo regards Mark for a moment, taking in Mark's blank expression and slightly tilted head. "Why are you asking me this now?" he asks.

"Because I want to know," Mark says, as if it's just that simple. For him, it probably is. "Do you ever wish you hadn't talked to me that night?"

"No," Eduardo says.

"Why not?"

Eduardo sighs and rubs a hand through his hair. "Because, Mark. Because you were my best friend and I don't regret having known you even though – even though it didn't end well. My life might have been simpler if I hadn't met you, but it would be a hell of a lot less interesting."

"Some people might prefer that," Mark says.

"I know," Eduardo says. "But – I can't regret knowing you, Mark." It feels uncomfortably like some sort of confession, and Eduardo changes the subject quickly. "My mom wants to have dinner with us. We should probably go see your parents sometime soon."

"I feel like most people would regret knowing me," Mark says, completely ignoring the subject change. "Erica certainly did."

"Mark, are you listening to me?" Eduardo asks.

"I heard what you said," Mark says, his eyes narrowing slightly in annoyance. "We can discuss that later. I want to talk about this now."

"Do you have regrets?" shoots back Eduardo, annoyed by Mark's stubbornness. "Is that why you're asking me?"

"I don't believe in regrets," Mark says, but he sounds like he's lying. Eduardo knows the way Mark lies, knows the way Mark's voice lilts up very slightly. "I just wanted to know." He reaches out and tugs at the hem of Eduardo's shirt until Eduardo steps closer, heat pooling in his stomach.

"Mark, we shouldn't," Eduardo starts, and then Mark tugs him down into a kiss, cutting off his protests.

Mark pulls Eduardo in close, licking his way into Eduardo's mouth and digging his fingers into Eduardo's hips. Eduardo works his knee between Mark's thighs and rocks up against Mark, making Mark gasp into his mouth.

Eduardo kisses the side of Mark's mouth, then kisses his way down Mark's pale neck. Mark tilts his head back and arches up, rutting shamelessly against Eduardo's leg. Eduardo can feel Mark's erection even through the layers of clothing, hard and insistent. Mark seems to be getting off on the sloppiness of it all, the seeming illicitness of making out in the small, cramped room.

Eduardo lowers his head to the small red mark he'd made the night before and he bites down lightly on it. Mark groans, the loudest noise he's made during sex thus far, and Eduardo does it again, relishing the way Mark's hips jerk involuntarily.

Mark reaches up to pull Eduardo's face back towards his and he kisses Eduardo hard, his fingers clenching in Eduardo's hair. Eduardo slides his hands down Mark's chest and pushes them underneath Mark's shirt. Mark's skin is cool to the touch, and Mark shudders when Eduardo lightly glides his fingers over the skin right above the waistband of his jeans.

Mark rocks against Eduardo again and Eduardo presses back, biting back a gasp at the friction. Mark twists his fingers in Eduardo's hair and Eduardo bites at the corner of Mark's mouth in retaliation.

Mark pulls away to breathe and he rests his forehead against Eduardo's. Eduardo reaches down to press the heel of his hand against the hard line of Mark's cock and Mark comes almost instantly, his breath huffing out of him in one hard exhalation. He then yanks Eduardo back down for another bruising kiss, letting Eduardo rub against him shamelessly. He kisses Eduardo like he can't get enough of it, like he's trying to reassure himself that Eduardo is actually there.

Eduardo slows the kiss down, stroking his fingers down Mark's spine until Mark relaxes. Mark scratches his nails lightly down the nape of Eduardo's neck and Eduardo has possibly the laziest, most relaxing orgasm he's ever had. He kisses Mark languidly for another few seconds before pulling back.

"No regrets?" he asks Mark. Mark snorts, not straightening up. He looks wrecked, his hair going wild and his shirt even more rumpled than usual.

"No, no regrets," Mark says mildly. "What do you think we should do for dinner?"
 
Eduardo knows, now, that he desperately needs to talk to someone. So despite his better judgment, he sends Dustin a text while Mark is ordering Chinese food.

Can I talk to you? You have to promise to be discreet.

Dustin sends a text back a few minutes later. i am the motherfucking master of discrete

Dustin

kk i promise whats up dude

Not over text. I'll call you.

Eduardo retreats upstairs with his cell phone and closes the door to his room before calling Dustin. Dustin picks midway through the first ring and says, "Warrrrrrdo!"

"Hey, man," Eduardo says, sitting on the edge of his bed. "I'm serious about being discreet, all right? You can't talk to anyone about this."

"Why aren't you talking to Chris?" asks Dustin. "I mean, he's kind of your fixer now, isn't he?"

"I'm talking to you," Eduardo says. "Look, just shut up and listen."

"Roger," Dustin says. "What's up?"

Eduardo takes a deep breath and says, "So Mark and I had sex."

There's a brief silence on the other end of the phone and then Dustin says, "Is that supposed to be news? I was pretty sure you'd had sex the night you got married."

"No, since then!" Eduardo hisses into the phone. "Focus, Dustin."

"Oh, okay. Wow." Dustin doesn't sound surprised, exactly, which makes Eduardo frown at the phone. "When?"

"Uh, last night. And just now. And, well, the night before last."

"So three days in a row," Dustin says. "I'm glad to hear that you haven't lost the spark."

"Dustin!" snaps Eduardo. "Please, just – I think there's something wrong with me. I shouldn't – this shouldn't be happening!"

"Look, you're married to the guy, I don't see why it's such a big deal, Eduardo," Dustin says. "Besides, it's sex. How long had it been before that?"

"A long time," Eduardo admits. "A very long time."

"Yeah," Dustin says. "I figured. You might as well get something out of this marriage if you're still planning on breaking it up in a year's time or whatever."

"What do you mean 'still'?" asks Eduardo sharply.

"Whoa, I'm just saying," Dustin says, sounding defensive. "I don't know what your endgame is, I tend to zone out when people talk at me for too long."

Eduardo falls back on the bed and sighs. "This is weird for me, Dustin. I wish I could remember why I'd decided to marry him to begin with."

"Let's be honest, it was probably you saying something challenging and him going too far with it," Dustin says. "Mark, he always had this attitude of wanting to exceed what you thought he could do."

Eduardo huffs out a skeptical laugh. "Yeah, that sounds like Mark," he says sarcastically. "What are you even talking about?"

"You dream too small for him sometimes, is all," Dustin explains. "I think – sometimes he wanted to show you how big you could be dreaming. Like the ads thing – don't start," he adds when he hears Eduardo make a growling sound. "I know, I know, it's just – you had one idea and he changed it up. When I asked him about it, he said that you had been right, you just hadn't been thinking enough and now you would see how you should have been thinking."

"Okay, that sounds like Mark," Eduardo says after a minute. "So what are you saying?"

"I'm saying that you and Mark have a lot of shit to work out," Dustin says. "Sex might make it easier, or it might fuck everything up even worse, but at least you guys are tethered together for a while. Maybe you'll actually start functioning like actual adults and I can stop feeling like I have to pick sides."

Eduardo lays there on the bed for a moment before saying, "You know, Dustin, that may be the smartest thing you ever said to me."

"Hey man," Dustin says feelingly, "I may act like an idiot and I may actually be an idiot, but I do pay attention. Give me some credit."

"I will," Eduardo promises. "Thanks, Dustin. See you on Monday." Dustin says goodbye and hangs up, leaving Eduardo alone with his thoughts.


*****

Lena calls Eduardo on Sunday morning, waking him from his sleep. "Sorry," she says, sounding guilty. "You sound tired."

"I was asleep," Eduardo says, rubbing his head and struggling to sit upright. "Jamie told me you found some new choices?"

"Yes," Lena says. "I spoke to after you left for Chicago and she said that maybe we should look for places closer to the Facebook offices, so I have a new list of possibilities."

"That's great." Eduardo rubs his face. "I don't know when you have availability, but I'd like to find a place as soon as possible."

"I think we can cover all of these places in a couple of days." There's a brief pause and then Lena says, "Will Mr. Zuckerberg be joining us?"

"I'll ask him and let you know," Eduardo says, repressing the urge to sigh. "Are you available tomorrow?"

"I am in the morning, but Jamie invited me to that viewing party," Lena informs him, sounding amused.

"Great," Eduardo says with as much sincerity as he can muster. "Tomorrow morning at the offices, then?"

"Sounds good," Lena says cheerfully. "See you tomorrow, Eduardo."

"Bye," he says and he hangs up. He glances at the clock and sees that it's just a little past eight. He sighs, longing to go back to sleep, but instead he gets up and goes to take a shower.

Eduardo scrubs at himself down and tries not to be distracted by the now-faint marks on his chest. When he gets out, he wraps a towel around his waist and pads into Mark's room to get some clothes from the closet. Mark is still asleep, curled up on his side like a child.

He's rummaging through his shirts when he hears Mark stir. He grabs one of his shirts and turns around just as Mark sits up, blinking groggily. Mark looks confused as he says, "Wardo?"

Eduardo lifts up the shirt and the pair of jeans he had grabbed from the closet. "I forgot to get some clothes before my shower."

"Oh." Mark shoves the covers back and slides out of bed. "You should just sleep in here."

Eduardo freezes, staring at Mark while his mind whirls with indecision. He has no good reason for saying no other than it just feels too intimate, too spousal for his comfort. He jerks back to himself when Mark's face shutters closed and he quickly says, "That's not a bad idea."

Mark smiles faintly and Eduardo hurries out of the room, clutching his clothes to his chest. He gets dressed and combs back his hair before heading downstairs to make himself breakfast.

Mark joins him a few minutes later, wearing one of his ubiquitous hoodies and a pair of cargo shorts. He sits down at the kitchen table and watches Eduardo, his expression guarded.

"We should really talk about visiting our families," Eduardo says, pouring cereal into a bowl and reaching up to put the box back in the cupboard. "I don't know when we have the time, but I think we should make the trip to New Jersey and then go down to Miami."

"My mom said she wanted to see you again," agrees Mark. "Once you have your office, we'll go."

"That reminds me." Eduardo takes the bowl of cereal and sits down across from Mark. "Lena and I are going to look at apartments over the next few days. Did you want to join us?"

Mark considers it for a moment, then shakes his head. "No."

Eduardo waits for some sort of elaboration, but Mark is apparently done. "Great," he says and he digs into his cereal.
 
 
 
Eduardo calls his mother a little later, shutting himself in his room upstairs so that he doesn't bother Mark. She answers with, "Hello? Is this my son?"

"Hi, Mãe," Eduardo says with a small, resigned smile. "Sorry I haven't called."

"I am glad to hear it," his mother sniffs. "I email you all the time and yet you never reply with more than a few sentences."

"I'm sorry," Eduardo repeats, rubbing the back of his neck. "I've been busy."

"I hope so," she says. She adds, her voice thick with innuendo, "You had better be enjoying the married life."

" Mãe!" Eduardo exclaims, blushing even though there's no one around to see him. "What – why –"

"That is the only excuse for not calling me sooner," his mother says primly. "So are you? Enjoying your married life?"

" Mãe –"

"You are not getting out of telling me, Eduardo," she warns him. "So you better tell me now or I will ask you when you visit with Mark."

Eduardo says, "Mãe, I'm – it's been, it's been nice."

"Hmm," his mother says, sounding suspicious. "Very well, I know you are very shy about this sort of thing. I will ask again later and perhaps you will be more willing to tell me details."

Eduardo groans, knowing that his mother is persistent enough to keep at him until he spills his secrets. "Not now, Mãe, all right? I called to talk to you about coming to visit."

"Oh!" she says, sounding surprised but pleased. "So you are going to visit? I had almost given hope that it would happen."

"I'm still trying to find an office, but once I get fully settled here, we'll come out to the east coast," Eduardo promises. "We have to visit Mark's family as well."

"Oh, wonderful!" says his mother. "Send me your itinerary when you book your tickets. I will make your husband a fantastic Brazilian dinner."

Eduardo stifles the urge to laugh and says, "Thanks, Mãe. I'll email you when we make our plans."

"Good boy," she says pleasantly. "Give Mark my love."

"I will," Eduardo tells her.

"And return my emails," she adds just as he's about to hang up.

"Yes, Mãe," he sighs and they exchange goodbyes before he hangs up.

He spends the rest of the afternoon dealing with email and corresponding with his former assistant in Singapore. She had successfully taken over the offices, but there is still a lot of details to be sorted out.

Dinner is quiet. Mark seems to be thinking over something given the way he stares off into space and barely touches his pasta. Eduardo eats quickly and then excuses himself to go upstairs, not wanting to revisit the topic of sharing a bed. He's still not sure how he should answer – and he's not sure how he wants to answer.

At least tomorrow I'll have some time to myself to think, he reflects before he goes to sleep.


*****

Eduardo's determination to get some time away from Mark ends up backfiring because office hunting without Mark is really fucking boring.

Eduardo has never been as picky as Mark (Mark would probably argue that he's discerning rather than picky, but it's just semantics), so at first every office they look at seems to be equally good. Then he starts taking notes in his phone to catalogue all possible problems and, when that fails to produce any helpful results, he starts snapping photos and sending them to Mark.

Mark doesn't seem to do much as CEO, because he texts Eduardo back at length, detailing the problems he sees in each place. Lena seems like she's trying not to find it sweet, but he catches her smiling vaguely at him while he's grinning at some particularly cutting thing that Mark said.

"I think it's really sweet that the two of you managed to get over your differences," she tells him while they're eating lunch. "The two of you must have been very close before..." She waves her hand as if to encompass all of the drama that accompanied the lawsuit. "Otherwise you wouldn't have been able to make it work."

Eduardo nods slowly. "We were best friends," he says quietly, swallowing hard against the lump in his throat. "For two years, we knew everything about each other."

Lena tilts her head to the side and regards him solemnly for a few seconds. Then she says, "It must be hard, sometimes. Forgetting what happened."

"Yeah," Eduardo agrees, looking away from her.

Lena takes the hint and drops the subject in favor of asking him which offices he had liked.

They look at three more locations before they return to the Facebook offices. Dustin spots them from across the office and gets to his feet, waving. "Wardo!" he calls. "Glad you're here early. Come with me."

Eduardo follows Dustin into one of the conference rooms, which has a huge flat screen television. "What's going on?"

"Help me set up the room," Dustin says, gesturing at the table. "We'll move the table to the back and put the chairs in a semicircle."

"Right," Eduardo says and the two of them set about moving things around. "Why isn’t an intern doing this?"
 
"Because this means I don't have to do work," says Dustin.
 
"Ah," Eduardo says. He waits for Dustin before trying to move the conference table. "Are you that desperate to get a break?"
 
"Yes. And by the way," Dustin says, his voice slightly strained from carrying the table, "nice job with that hickey."

Eduardo drops his end and Dustin yelps, quickly setting down his end. "What?" asks Eduardo, eyes wide.

"There's a giant hickey on Mark's collarbone," Dustin says, rubbing his shoulder and scowling a little. "Jesus, Eduardo, I think you dislocated my shoulder!"

"Did people notice?" asks Eduardo desperately, feeling horribly exposed and embarrassed.

"Uh, yeah," Dustin says. "Mark's shirt is pretty loose today, his collar keeps slipping."

Eduardo sits down on the floor and groans. "This is so embarrassing."

"Eduardo, don't be ridiculous," Dustin says, pushing at the table by himself. "You realize that we're all about to watch the two of you act all couple-y on Oprah. You'd better get over your admittedly adorable shyness and stop being such a freak about this. You're married. We all think it's just darling."

Eduardo rubs at his face and then gets to his feet. "Sorry about dropping the table."

"I should have known better than to spring it on you while we were carrying it," Dustin says dismissively. "Now come on, let's get this room ready for the viewing party. I need to live up to my reputation as an awesome party host."

"You seriously have that reputation?" Eduardo asks disbelievingly.

"Yes. Now shut up and help me move this table," Dustin says.
 
At a quarter to four, the employees start trailing into the conference room and sitting in the chairs. One tiny Asian woman drags a bean bag in with her and sits in the front, where she flirts outrageously with Dustin. Eduardo watches in fascination as Dustin turns bright red and stutters a little as he tries to speak coherently.

Jamie and Lena come in at five minutes to four, but Mark is still nowhere to be seen. Eduardo gets up and goes to look for him.

Mark is, predictably, still sitting at his desk. Eduardo notes the way the collar of Mark's shirt is slightly stretched out, revealing more of Mark's collarbone than is usual. The mark Eduardo had given him stands out in stark contrast to Mark's pale skin. He winces, then goes to stand next to Mark.

"Mark," he says, touching Mark's shoulder lightly. Mark turns and looks up at him. "Come on, viewing party. Dustin wants us to both be there."

"Yes," Mark says. He hits a few keys, then gets to his feet. "I forgot."

Eduardo rolls his eyes and herds Mark towards the conference room. There's food on the table now – pizza, what looks like a plate of brownies, some cookies, and all kinds of drinks. Dustin is talking through a mouth full of pizza, gesturing wildly at Chris, who is watching with an amused expression.

The first twenty minutes of the show are Oprah talking about other issues and interviewing the latest memoir-writing celebrity, so Eduardo talks to some of the Facebook employees, including the woman who'd been flirting with Dustin. Her name is Amelia and she confides in Eduardo that she thinks Dustin is adorable.

"He's such an idiot," she says fondly, watching as Dustin nearly trips over one of the chairs. "But he's kind of endearing, you know?"

Eduardo sits down in one of the chairs and is startled when Mark comes to sit down in front of him, leaning back against Eduardo's legs. After a moment, Eduardo lets himself settle a hand on the back of Mark's neck.

The segment with Mark and Eduardo is during the second half of the show and when it starts, Chris and Dustin hurriedly hush everyone in the room.

"The news last week exploded with the story of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg marrying Eduardo Saverin," Oprah's voice says as it shows the photo and Mark's Facebook page. "As many know, Eduardo sued Mark for more than half a billion dollars after having his stocks in the company diluted. But the two of them reconnected about a year ago. We had them in to talk about their relationship and what it could mean for the popular social networking site."

Mark squeezes Eduardo's ankle gently as some footage of them behind the scenes comes up on screen. His thumb inscribes small circles on the jut of Eduardo's ankle, rubbing through the fabric of Eduardo’s socks.

Then the actual interview starts. The employees all cheer when Eduardo and Mark walk out, some of them wolf whistling and others whooping loudly. Dustin smirks up at Eduardo knowingly, then tilts his head up to stare at the screen.

They watch mostly in silence, occasionally punctuated by laughter or cheering from the employees. Mark's grip on Eduardo's ankle tightens as the interview goes on. The room goes dead silent when Mark on the screen starts speaking, saying, "Wardo tries to make me a better person."

Eduardo stares at the screen, his heart pounding in his chest. He stares at himself on the screen, stares at his own expression – astonished, hopeful, and so fucking obvious that he's always wanted to hear Mark say that he cares for Eduardo.

He hears a quiet sniff and looks over to see one of the male employees wiping at his eyes discreetly. Mark turns his head and presses his face to the inside of Eduardo's knee for a second before turning back to look at the screen.

The rest of the interview is sort of anticlimactic, but Eduardo is transfixed nonetheless. He can't stop looking at his own face, at the way he can't stop looking at Mark. He squeezes Mark's neck unconsciously and Mark sighs, pushing back into the touch.
 
When the interview is finished, Dustin gets up to turn off the television.. The room is deadly silent for a few moments and then someone starts clapping. Soon, the whole room is applauding and beaming at them and Eduardo feels himself turning red with embarrassment. Mark turns his head to look up at Eduardo and Eduardo lets himself card his hand through Mark's hair.

They sit there while the employees file out slowly. A few of them whisper, "Congratulations!" or say, "Good job!" Chris gives them thumbs up as he passes, grinning hugely. Mark doesn't make a move to get up, even when everyone else has left. Eduardo rubs his thumb along the side of Mark's neck absently.

"Mark," Eduardo says finally, a few minutes after everyone has officially left. "We should probably head home."

"Probably," agrees Mark. He pushes back into Eduardo's hand a little, arching his back, and Eduardo settles his hands onto Mark's shoulders, rubbing experimentally. Mark groans quietly and Eduardo presses his thumbs into the flesh along the edges of Mark's shoulder blades.

Mark is, rather unsurprisingly, horribly tense. Eduardo digs his fingers into Mark's back, working out the knots until Mark is loose and pliable under his hands. Mark slumps forward a little, losing his normally perfect posture. Eduard stands and offers Mark a hand up.

Mark accepts his help and, once he's on his feet, he pulls Eduardo down for a soft kiss, his fingers bracketing Eduardo's jaw. Eduardo wraps his arms around Mark's waist and and licks his way into Mark's mouth, no longer giving a damn about what it means. He's been hard ever since Mark started pressing into his hands, but it's not particularly urgent, not as long as Mark keeps moving his fingers along the lines of his face, as if he's trying to memorize the feel of Eduardo's face.

They kiss lazily until the door to the conference room opens and Dustin says loudly, "Oh, shit, sorry."

They break apart, breathing loudly. Mark looks up at Eduardo nervously, then at Dustin. Eduardo bites his lip to keep from smiling and glances over at Dustin, who is staring at them with a huge, shit-eating grin on his face.

"Don't mind me," Dustin says, heading towards the back of the room. "I just wanted to grab some more brownies. You can continue, though I'd advise taking it out of the place where there are a hundred people with camera phones."

"Let's go home," Eduardo says to Mark, gently tugging at the hem of Mark's shirt.

"I still have stuff I want to work on," Mark protests, looking longingly in the direction of his desk.

"We don't need you here," Dustin calls back over his shoulder as he piles a paper plate high with brownies. "I can take care of whatever it is you were working on."

"It's not something for the site," Mark says shiftily. "I was talking with my – with someone about some paperwork. You can't take care of it."

Dustin and Eduardo both look at Mark in surprise. Dustin says, "You hate paperwork. That's why you hired Jamie."

"It's for legal," Mark says, turning to look at Dustin. The two of them stare at each other for a minute, apparently having some sort of silent conversation. Eduardo's chest tightens a little with envy; he used to be the one who could (usually) decipher Mark.

"Okay, whatever," Dustin says after a moment. "Can't you take care of it tomorrow? Go home already, Mark. We were all hoping that marital bliss would keep you from being such an uncompromising asshole of a workaholic."

"I guess I can do it tomorrow," Mark says reluctantly.

"Come on," Eduardo says firmly and he ushers Mark out of the conference room, ignoring Dustin's snickers. Mark grabs his hoodie and a few things off his desk before leading the way out to the car.
 
 
"I'm going to make dinner," Mark announces when they arrive back at the house.

Eduardo raises his eyebrows and says skeptically, "You're going to make dinner."

Mark shrugs. "You've done it for me. And I can make some things."

"Like what?"

"Fried rice," Mark says. "And I can fry pre-made dumplings."

"I'd like to see that," Eduardo says and he ends up sitting there and watching while Mark fries frozen pot stickers. Mark's brow is furrowed in concentration and his back is once again ramrod straight. Eduardo waits a while, then gets to his feet and crowds up behind Mark, pressing his lips to the spot just under Mark's left ear.

"I'm cooking, Wardo," Mark says, a little crankily, but he turns his head to the left to let Eduardo kiss him. Eduardo nudges up the hem of Mark's shirt and strokes his fingers across the skin at Mark's waist. Mark shivers and then pulls away.

"Wardo," he says, his mouth quirking up a little. "Do you want to eat dinner?"

Eduardo grins and backs up a little, lifting his hands. "Don't let me stop you."

Mark smiles and turns back to the pan. Eduardo watches as Mark starts making fried rice, looking surprisingly comfortable and at home.

He sets the kitchen table and sits down to wait for Mark. Mark dumps the rice into a bowl and brings the food over. He gestures for Eduardo to eat first and watches with anticipation while Eduardo tries the food. It's all surprisingly good – Mark had not exactly been known for his culinary expertise in college.

"It's great, Mark," he says sincerely. "Thank you for doing this."

Mark looks down, smiling slightly, and he serves himself some rice and pot stickers. "I was glad to do it."

"Well, I appreciate it." Eduardo lapses into silence and eats slowly, watching Mark thoughtfully. Mark is focused on his food, his fingers manipulating his chopsticks expertly. Eduard realizes abruptly that he has zoned out while staring at Mark's hands.

After they're finished, Eduardo washes the dishes while Mark puts the leftover fried rice in the refrigerator. Mark leans against the counter, his gaze steady and guarded as he watches Eduardo.

"Do you want to watch a movie or something?" asks Mark when Eduardo has dried off the last of the plates.

"Yeah, sure," Eduardo says, setting the plates in a pile on the side. "What do you want to watch?"

They end up watching Star Wars. Mark presses himself up against Eduardo's side, mouthing along to the dialogue seemingly unconsciously. Eduardo wraps his arm around Mark's shoulder.

About halfway through the film, Mark turns towards Eduardo and kisses him, soft and a little tentative. Eduardo responds eagerly, pulling Mark down until they're stretched out on the sofa with Mark lying mostly on top of Eduardo.

Mark's hand has worked its way under Eduardo's shirt when Eduardo's phone rings abruptly. Eduardo groans and wriggles a little to pull it out of the side pocket of his blazer. He checks the display and says, "It's my mother," to Mark before answering. "Hi, Mãe."

"Hello, Mrs. Saverin," Mark says, leaning in close to the mouthpiece. Eduard swats at Mark's thigh and Mark smirks before pressing a kiss to the side of Eduardo's jaw.

"Is that Mark?" Eduardo's mother asks. "Tell him I say hello and that he was very sweet on Oprah."

"Yeah, I will," Eduardo says, pinching Mark lightly as Mark kisses down the length of Eduardo's neck. "What is it, Mãe?"

"I saw the two you on Oprah!" she explains. "You looked so very happy, Eduardo."

"I'm going to have to call you back, Mãe," Eduardo manages as Mark rubs his hands over Eduardo's chest, his fingers tweaking Eduardo's nipples.

"Oh, I see," his mother says knowingly. "Have fun, sweetheart, and I will call you later!"

Eduardo hangs up and drops the phone. "You're an asshole," he tells Mark sincerely.

"Yeah, whatever," Mark says and he slides his hands down to open up Eduardo's pants.


*****

Eduardo spends the next two days looking at more office spaces, but none of them quite feel right. He had loved his office back in Singapore – it had been a nice mix of modern and antique, with large windows and dark hardwood floors. It was small, but it had everything he needed.

On Thursday, though, he finds what he's looking for. He walks into the office and stops, taking in a deep breath. Lena touches his shoulder lightly and says, "Eduardo? Is everything all right?"

"This is it," he says, nodding to himself. "This is the place."

"Are you sure?" Lena asks, but she's already flicking through her Blackberry. "Take a look around, be sure."

The office is on the second floor of the building and it has large windows that overlook a small park. It's spacious, with highly polished wood floors. There's a short hall with two doors on the left side and Eduardo opens both doors to take a look. One is a smaller room that could be used as a canteen. The other is small, but very elegant bathroom. Eduardo runs a hand over the granite counter and smiles happily

"This is the place," he calls to Lena as he emerges from the bathroom. "This is the place I want."

"All right," Lena says briskly and he enters the main room to see her uncap her pen and start writing on her sheet of paper. "That's fantastic, Eduardo. There'll be some paperwork we have to go through, but hopefully that won't take too long. This place should be yours by next week."

Eduardo impulsively reaches out and wraps his arms around her shoulders. "Thank you so much for all your help," he tells her sincerely, beaming. "I have a good feeling about this place."

Lena smiles crookedly. "I'm glad."


*****

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com); Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
 
Re: the new office
 
Need something to do this weekend? I hired some people to actually bring in the furniture, but I may need some help with setting it up.
 
 
To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: MY SHOULDERS ACHE

I AM NEVER LETTING YOU TALKING ME INTO HELPING YOU MOVE ANYTHING EVER AGAIN

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: cry me a river

You didn’t even do that much work! And don't forget you still have to deal with that couch you bought for yourself.
To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: yeah right

Fuck that I'm hiring someone else to do it for me.

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: watch it

Literally all you did was move a desk about three inches. Stop whining.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: YOU OWE ME

you didn't even buy me a pizza or a beer, so we're having an office warming party at your office tomorrow and you're buying the pizza.

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: oh really

And you thought I'd just say yes?

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: dude

come on, you know you want to break in that place

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: All right

As long as no one breaks anything.

 

To: Amelia Kim (akim@facebook.com); Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com); Calvin Jones (cjones@facebook.com); Devon Cho (dcho@facebook.com); Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); George Kameda (gkameda@facebook.com); Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com); Lena Zhou (lenazhou@parealty.com); Lucas Schwartz (lschwarts@facebook.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); (see complete list)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovtiz@facebook.com)

Re: giving the mrs a nice send off!

some of you may have heard that Eduardo has found an office, so he won't be gracing us with his presence any longer. However, this does not mean that we can't send him off to his new digs in style!! I realize this is a little last minute but we need to do it so that I can get my revenge (mrs. ceo made me put the sofa together).

anyway, the directions are attached and I expect to see you all there at six p.m. BYOB and also bring some food. oh and Eduardo says don't break anything, so keep the pregaming to a minimum (though really it's not like I'm going to check).

(check your fb inboxes, the invite should be there so I can get a headcount)

dustin the bustin'


*****

"Are you sure it's a good idea to let Dustin throw a party here?" Mark asks as they move Eduardo's newly built desk off to the side.

"It'll be fun," says Eduardo. "Come on, Mark, live a little."

"Dustin didn't throw me a house warming party," mutters Mark a little childishly.

Eduardo rolls his eyes and refrains from commenting. He's pretty sure that Mark wouldn't have allowed Dustin to throw him any sort of party – not so much because Mark dislikes parties, but more because Mark is pretty distrustful as a general rule, especially when it comes to Dustin.

Dustin shows up about half an hour later, and he sets about rearranging the office to his exacting specifications. "There's, like, thirty people who said they were coming and another ten or fifteen who said maybe. Which reminds me, we have really got to get rid of that stupid maybe button on events, it is the most infuriating and stupid thing in the world."

"We have this discussion every time someone in the office throws a party," says Mark.

"And I still think it was a stupid thing to add. People should at least be able to decide whether they want to give people the option of being ambivalent." Dustin pulls a couple of six packs of beer out of the grocery bags he brought with him. "Where'd you put the mini fridge?"

Eduardo helps him put the beer in the fridge while Mark orders pizza. Dustin says, "So the office looks good."

"Thanks to you and Chris," Eduardo says, which is apparently the right thing to say, because Dustin grins and punches him lightly in the shoulder.

"Hey, man," he says. "Anything for Mark's husband, you know?"

"Dustin," sighs Eduardo, but he can't help his answering grin. "That's not my defining characteristic."

"No, but reminding you makes you blush." Dustin bumps shoulders with Eduardo as he leads the way back out to the office. "Anything you're hiding?"

"No," Eduardo says, confused by Dustin's tone. "What?"

"Forget it," Dustin says. "Hey, I think people will be getting here soon. Are you ready to party?" He does a weird hip-thrusting motion and smacks the play button on the stereo against the wall. Music fills the room, loud and insistent.

Eduardo bounces along to the music, smiling over at Mark. Mark just stares at him with a slightly puzzled expression on his face. Eduardo snorts and gestures at Dustin to turn it down slightly.

"We need to hear people when they arrive," he yells over the music. Dustin gives him thumbs up and turns it down a little.

Amelia, the tiny programmer from the viewing party, arrives a few minutes later, bearing a bag full of vodka and a tray of brownies. Eduardo eyes them suspiciously and she says with a grin, "I promise there's only chocolate in these, nothing else."

Dustin helps her put the vodka on the table, turning slightly red as he does, and Amelia starts singing along to the music, only slightly off-key. Mark goes to get a beer and brings one for Eduardo, which takes Eduardo by surprise for a moment.

"Thanks," he says and he goes to sit on the couch, leaning back with his legs spread wide. Mark plops down next to him and watches while Dustin totally fumbles his attempts to speak to Amelia.

The other party attendees start filing in, some bringing alcohol and others bringing food. Lena brings homemade guacamole, which she offers to Eduardo first before putting it on the table.
 
Lena returns with a red cup in hand and sits down on Eduardo's other side with a deep sigh. "This place looks good," she says approvingly. "I like what you've done with the place."

"Thank you," Eduardo says, smiling. "And thank you so much for all your help. I love the place."

"I'm glad." Lena leans forward a little, catching Mark's eye. "And do you approve, Mr. Zuckerberg?"

Mark visibly considers the question for a moment, his head tilted slightly to the side. Then he says, "I suppose it's all right."

Eduardo rolls his eyes at Lena, who lifts her cup to her mouth to hide her smile. Eduardo stretches out his arm and lets it rest along the back of the couch behind Mark. Mark presses into his side and rests his head on Eduardo's shoulder for a brief instant.

The music changes to a familiar Michael Jackson song and Dustin whoops loudly. He turns to gesture at Eduardo. "Wardo!" he calls. "Come on, you've got the moves, I've got the voice – let's do this!"

"What is he talking about?" asks Lena in an undertone.

"It something we did a couple times in college," Eduardo says. He raises his voice to call back, "Dustin, seriously?"

"Don't be a party pooper, dude," says Dustin, gesturing more emphatically. "Get your ass up here and show off your moonwalk."

"You can do the moonwalk?" asks Lena. She shoves at his shoulder gently. "Go, I want to see."

Eduardo instinctively glances over at Mark, who shrugs and says, "Go on, get up there."

Eduardo hands Mark his beer and heads over to Dustin, who has started singing along, pitching his voice higher as he crows, "She was more like a beauty queen."

Eduardo hasn't really danced for a while, and he's not quite drunk enough to be completely at ease, but he does his best to ignore the many people watching. It takes him a few moments to loosen up, but then he gets in the swing. Chris, who's leaning up against his boyfriend and looking slightly flushed, wolf-whistles loudly as Eduardo does a slightly over-exaggerated hip thrust.

Eduardo does his best moonwalk, touching his forelock as he does, and grins as the room bursts into applause. Dustin throws his arm around Eduardo's shoulder with a triumphant grin and the two of them bow theatrically. Dustin ruffles the back of Eduardo's hair and says, "Not bad, man!"

"I hope no one taped that," Eduardo says and Dustin cackles.

"Yeah, sorry dude," Dustin says. "I'll make sure it stays hidden when it gets posted to Facebook, but it definitely got taped by someone."

"I taped it!" shouts Amelia, waving a Flip camera in the air.

Eduardo groans. Dustin smirks and shoves Eduardo back over to the couch.

"I never understood why you guys did that," says Mark, gesturing vaguely towards Dustin.

"Because it's fun, Mark," Eduardo says. Mark just looks confused, so Eduardo gives up and instead goes to grab himself a slice of pizza and some of Amelia's brownies. He ends up talking to one of the programmers in charge of integrating apps with people's profiles.

When the conversation is over, he returns to Mark’s side and asks, "Do you remember our parties in college?"
 
"What parties?" asks Mark sardonically. His mouth quirks up a little. "You went to more parties than I ever did."
 
"What does that mean?" asks Eduardo, frowning.
 
"All the Phoenix events," Mark says with a shrug. "I only ever went to AEPi parties and those were lame."
 
"The Phoenix parties weren’t all that much fun," Eduardo admits. "I didn’t know very many of the people."
 
"And you did it anyway," says Mark.
 
"Yes," says Eduardo, now slightly confused. "Should I have told them no?"
 
"No." Mark shakes his head. "That’s not what I mean."
 
"I wished you had gotten punched too," says Eduardo, bumping his shoulder against Mark’s. He’s not sure why he had never said that before. "You should have been. You deserved it more than half the assholes who went through it."
 
"I certainly wouldn’t have fed chicken to a chicken," Mark mumbles, but he’s smiling a little now.
 
"Oh, shut it," says Eduardo and he takes a bite of pizza so that he doesn’t admit anything else. Mark looks as though he wants to say something, but then his phone rings. He pulls it out, looks at the screen, and sighs.
 
Mark opens the phone and says, "Hello?" He’s silent for a moment, then he sighs. "Yeah. All right. No, I understand. No, I know. I'll talk to Chris. Look – no, I'll be there. Just give me fifteen minutes."

Eduardo frowns, suspecting he knows what’s going on, but desperately hoping that he’s wrong. "Mark?" he asks.

Mark holds up a finger and a tide of slow, cold anger starts to rise in Eduardo’s chest. Only one person makes Mark that dismissive of Eduardo.  Eduardo crosses his arms and waits for Mark finish his conversation. After a moment, Mark says, "Yeah. Bye," and hangs up.
 
"What's going on?" asks Eduardo, hoping against hope that he’s wrong.

"Sean got arrested for driving under the influence. I need to go deal with this," says Mark, getting to his feet. His mouth is set in an unhappy line, but he has a stubborn look in his eye.

"It doesn't have to be you," Eduardo says sharply, looking up at Mark. "Does it?"

"Eduardo, this is something that needs to be taken care of now," Mark replies impatiently. "It can't wait. If we wait, the press will be all over this."

"Someone else can do it, Mark!" Eduardo hisses. "Don't leave me for – for him."

"I need to call legal," Mark says, completely ignoring Eduardo, and he walks away, heading towards Chris. Eduardo clenches his hands into fists and glares at Mark's retreating back. Chris and Mark talk quietly for a moment and then Mark leaves without even a backwards glance.

Eduardo turns towards Lena, who is watching with wide eyes.

"May I have the rest of your drink?" he asks. She hands over the cup without a word and he drains it in one, furious motion.

"Eduardo?" Lena asks gently. "Are you all right?"

"I need another drink," he informs her.


*****

Eduardo gets horribly, viciously drunk.

At first, Dustin encourages him by mixing him ever more elaborate and ridiculous drinks, but eventually he pries Eduardo's cup out of his hand and sets it out of reach.

"Dude," he says, sounding worried. "You start working tomorrow. You need to slow down."

"I'm self-employed," Eduardo says, scowling. "Who gives a fuck."

"What the hell is wrong with you?" demands Dustin. "You're never like this."

"Fucking Mark," Eduardo growls, glaring over at where Mark had been sitting. "Fucking Sean."

Understanding dawns in Dustin's eyes and he says, "Oh, shit. He bailed? Did Sean do something?"

"Got arrested," Eduardo mutters. "Piece of shit."

"I agree," Dustin says soothingly. "He's a piece of shit. But Mark – he's, I don't know, he always cleans up Sean's messes."

"Asshole," Eduardo says. He's not sure if he means Mark or Sean.

"Yeah," agrees Dustin. "Maybe you should take it easy for a bit? Go sit on the couch. I'll drive you home."

Eduardo nods. His head feels a little funny, like it's a bit loose on his neck. He says as much and Dustin rolls his eyes.

"Jesus, Wardo. I do not envy the hangover you're going to have tomorrow." Dustin propels him over to the couch and pushes down on Eduardo's shoulders until Eduardo sits. Eduardo looks at Jamie, who is curled up in the corner of the couch, her long limbs folded at acute angles.

"Does Mark always have to go after Sean?" he asks her, carefully spacing his words.

Jamie looks at him for a moment. "Eduardo, Mark has responsibilities," she says eventually. "Many of them are self-imposed, but he sticks to them. Sean is one of them."

"He didn't have to leave me – my party," Eduardo says, tilting his head back to look at the ceiling.

Jamie doesn't reply except to gently nudge her foot against Eduardo's hip. Eduardo closes his eyes and wishes he had punched Sean at least once.
 
Eduardo dozes off at some point and is woken by Dustin and Jamie dragging him to his feet. Lena is cleaning up the plates and pizza boxes, humming along to the now quiet music. She waves at Eduardo with a small, wry smile on her face.

"Come on, Wardo," says Dustin, hooking his arm around Eduardo's waist. "I've gotta take you home. Jamie and Lena said they'd clean up."

"Sometimes I hate him," Eduardo tells Dustin. He's feeling a little bit more clear-headed, but his anger with Mark has far from dissipated. "He's such a self-centered asshole."

"Sometimes," Dustin agrees.

"No, always," grounds out Eduardo. "It's not even that he's self-centered, it's that he can't be bothered to remember that there are other people in the world."

"Eduardo, buddy, you are going to regret saying these things in the morning and frankly, I'd rather not be privy to your arguments –"

Eduardo cuts him off. "I am not going to regret this, Dustin. It's always Sean fucking Parker. Mark could never bother to explain things to me, but for Sean? He'd do anything for that smug, asthmatic –"

"Wardo, please," Dustin says, a little desperately. "Don't drag me into this."

Eduardo subsides and lets Dustin push him into the passenger seat of his car. He buckles himself in and lets his head fall against the window. Dustin gets in the driver's seat and says, "You know I had to hold myself back on drinking tonight?"

"Blame Mark," says Eduardo and he crosses his arms angrily.

Mark's car is parked out in front of the house when Dustin pulls up. Eduardo gets out and waves goodbye to Dustin before staggering up to the front door. It takes him a couple of tries to get his key in the lock, but eventually he manages. He lets himself in and kicks the door shut with perhaps a little bit more force than necessary.

"Mark!" he yells. "Mark!"

After a moment, Mark appears from the direction of the living room. He looks at Eduardo for a moment, then says, "You're drunk."

"Yes," Eduardo agrees. "I am. And you want to know why? Because you're an asshole."

Mark flinches slightly, but doesn't back down. "Eduardo, I had to go. You know that."

"No, Mark, I don't. You want to know why? Because you will never explain things to me and you will never really consider me your intellectual equal." Eduardo leans forward to prod Mark in the chest. "I thought you had changed, but obviously you haven't."

"Wardo, you are not the only thing in my life!" Mark snaps. "Stop being so selfish!"

"Selfish?" demands Eduardo, now utterly furious. "Me?"

"Yes, you." Mark paces forward, glaring at Eduardo. "You always act like you should be the only thing I ever pay attention to, but how much do you ever listen to me? You've always had your own life, Eduardo, and when I try to have my own, you can't stand it."

Eduardo clenches his fists. "Are you blaming me?"

"I'm not the only one who fucked up, Wardo," Mark says coldly.

"Fuck you, Mark," Eduardo says. He turns on his heel and stalks upstairs to his bedroom. He punches his pillow a few times in frustration, and then falls into a restless sleep.


*****

Eduardo awakes the next morning to an empty house and a vicious headache. He has to brush his teeth three times to make them stop feeling furry and he stands under the hot spray of the shower for almost ten minutes after he's through washing.

There's no sign of Mark anywhere and the car is gone, so Eduardo assumes that Mark left without him. He sighs and dials his phone while he waits for the coffee maker to make him a cup. He orders a cab to come pick him up around lunch time and drinks his coffee standing up, looking at the empty kitchen table and planning what he's going to say to Mark that night. When he's finished, he sets the mug down a little harder than is strictly necessary and goes upstairs to take care of his emails.

He puts out a couple of advertisements for an assistant, then spends about an hour on a conference call with his former assistant in Singapore and one of their Taiwanese clients. By the time he's through, his anger has dulled into a tightly contained fury. It's so typical of Mark to run away from the argument. Mark had always been great at passive-aggression; he'd let Eduardo do the mending. Clearly, he expects that to be the same now.

He makes himself a sandwich for lunch and eats it in front of his computer, not wanting to sit alone in the kitchen again. He googles around for a car dealership and finds a place that sells Audis, which he feels like would be an appropriate fuck you to Mark’s weird asceticism. Around half past twelve, the cab rings up to say they’ve arrived, so he grabs his briefcase and heads for the door.

He sulks in the back all the way to the dealership, annoyed that Mark can still upset him like this. Eduardo had thought that spending five years apart would have helped, but nothing has really changed.

Eduardo feels some odd sense of vindictiveness when he pays for the car. He knows Mark likes having the inexpensive, practical car and there's something oddly satisfying about buying a completely extravagant car.
 
Eduardo heads to his office and parks in his designated parking spot with a sense of satisfaction. The office is almost completely back to normal with the sole exception of the kitchen, which is still stocked with beer and one very large bottle of wine. Eduardo sits down in his chair and flicks on the new computer.

In the corner sits the box of office supplies from Singapore as well as the few things he'd stashed in his temporary desk at the Facebook Offices. He unpacks the box, putting the desk tidy to one side and the photograph of his family on the other. His Harry Potter mug, a gift from his former assistant Isabel, goes in the kitchen next to the coffee maker Chris had given to Eduardo as an office-warming gift.

He parcels out his belongings before coming to the piece of paper labeled Eduardo Saverin, Mrs. CEO and the manila envelope that Chris had given him. The nametag goes in the recycling, but he puts the envelope to the left of his keyboard. He can't stop sneaking looks at it as he works, and he finally gives into temptation and opens it up.

Eduardo spread the divorce papers out over his desk and reads through them with a sense of morbid curiosity. Chris has marked the places where Eduardo would sign with small post-its and Eduardo stares at the first initial line for a long moment. He sighs and puts the papers back in the envelope. This time, he puts it in the bottom drawer of his desk.

His phone buzzes a moment later and he looks at it to see a text from Dustin.

mark has been bitchy allday and he just made lucas cry wtf happened

Eduardo scowls and texts back, You know what happened.

omg stop being a such littl girl

What the fuck is that supposed to mean?  demands Eduardo, pressing the keys harder than is strictly necessary.

the 2 of u make me so mad, sends Dustin. y cant u act like norml peeps and have makeup sex

Eduardo doesn't dignify that with a response.

He heads home around five p.m. Mark still hasn't come home, so Eduardo makes himself dinner and curls up on the couch to watch television. He's determined to catch Mark, but as it drags on past seven, then eight, Eduardo starts to suspect that Mark isn't going to return any time soon.

Eduardo is stubborn enough to wait, though, so he stays on the couch, watching CSI with less and less attention as his eyelids grow heavy. He closes his eyes, telling himself he'll just take a quick nap, and the next thing he knows it's the following morning, the sun slanting in over his face.

He sits up, a blanket sliding off his body. He frowns; there hadn't been a blanket on the couch before. He rubs his face, then gets up and goes to look in the garage.

Mark's car is missing; he must have left early, just to avoid talking to Eduardo. Eduardo swears and goes upstairs to take a long, hot shower.


*****

Eduardo arrives at his office to find Jamie sitting on the doorstep to his building. She stands when she sees him, unfolding her long limbs and smiling awkwardly.

"Hi," she says. "I, uh. Hi."

"What are you doing here?" asks Eduardo, more tersely than he intends. He shakes his head and says, "I'm sorry, that was rude."

"I get it," Jamie says, bobbing her head. "I'm not here for Mark – well, actually, um. Well. I know you're missing an assistant right now, so I'm offering my services for a few days."

"Tell Mark thanks, but I don't need his help finding an assistant." Eduardo unlocks the door and takes the stairs. Jamie follows him.

"I understand that," she says, "and while I would love to go back to the Facebook offices, the fact is that Mark forced me to take vacation time."

Eduardo sighs and waves her inside. "I don't actually have a computer for you to work at right now," he warns her.

"I know, I was here two days ago," Jamie reminds him. She immediately winces. "Sorry, that wasn't very tactful."

Eduardo presses his lips into a tight line and drops his jacket and briefcase on the couch. Jamie pulls a sleek laptop out of her messenger bag and sits the edge of the couch, folding her legs underneath her. She looks up at Eduardo expectantly.

He looks at her face, then gives in; he really could use some help. "Fine," he says. "I'll email you the spreadsheets I've been working on."

"Cool," she says. "Do you mind if I listen to music?"

Eduardo waves his hand dismissively. He sends her the excel documents he has been using and takes care of a few very overdue phone calls before dealing with his email. He has a few developers looking to hire him, which is a good sign.

Jamie is pleasant to work with and she obviously learns quickly. Eduardo can see why Mark hired her. She types intimidatingly fast, her fingers clacking against the keyboard at lightning speed. By the time noon rolls around, the two of them have taken care of a full day's worth of work and Eduardo is feeling better about his decision to let her work for him.

They order in lunch and eat on the floor. Eduardo leans back once he's finished and asks, "Why did Mark send you?"

Jamie worries her lower lip between her teeth for a moment, then shrugs. "It's Mark. There could be any number of reasons." She hesitates, picking at the remains of her beans and rice. "I don't know exactly what happened on Sunday, but you really should talk to him. He spent five hours wired in yesterday."

Eduardo presses down the irrational surge of worry that rises at her words. "He's avoiding me," he says coolly. "And to be honest, I don't mind all that much."

"Well, it will blow over," she says confidently. "I'm sure you'll work things out."

Eduardo wishes he had her faith. He had spent the last five years being angry with Mark and things had just started to get better between them. Eduardo misses the long, rambling discussions they'd had in college, misses working next to Mark into the wee hours in the morning. He misses rousting Mark from bed and dragging him down to the diner for breakfast. But Mark is still Mark and Eduardo just can't put himself in a position to be hurt again.


*****

Eduardo doesn't see Mark for the rest of the week.

Part of this is thanks to the fact that Mark seems to wake at some obscenely early hour just to avoid Eduardo in the morning and part of it is that they both work until very late. Eduardo throws himself into his work with more fervor than ever before and he has five new clients by the end of Friday.

He has received twelve applications for the assistant job, though he's considering trying to steal Jamie from Mark because she's efficient, bright, and a very good writer. He prints out the applications before he heads home on Friday, planning on looking at them during the weekend.

Except when he arrives home, he finds that Mark is actually there. He's sitting at the kitchen table with his laptop and he looks up at Eduardo with a wary look on his face.

"Hi," Mark says, sounding nervous. Eduardo debates turning away, then decides not to take the coward's way out.

"Hello." He crosses his arms, doing his best not to glare. "You've been avoiding me."

Mark raises his shoulder. "Yeah."

"Why?"

"I don't want to argue about this," Mark says frankly. "I know you'll never see things my way."

"Because you were wrong," Eduardo snaps. "Tell me you don't realize you were wrong."

"I shouldn't have pushed you out," Mark agrees, getting to his feet and moving closer to Eduardo. "But you expect too much, Wardo. You want every bit of my attention and I can't give you that."

"You forgot I existed the moment Sean fucking Parker walked into your life," growls Eduardo. "I was there first."

"And you left me," Mark says sharply. "You didn't need me. You had the Phoenix and you had Christy and you didn't come with me." His voice rises so that he's almost shouting by the end of the sentence and he looks angrier than Eduardo has ever seen before.

"I had responsibilities!" shouts Eduardo, knowing as he says it that he sounds ridiculous. "I had my family's expectations to live up to! You know that!"

"Your father would have been happier if you had remained a co-founder," Mark says nastily and Eduardo's hand twitches upward. Mark flinches, but doesn't move back.

It takes a moment for Eduardo to calm down enough to speak. "You could have told me," Eduardo says when he's recovered himself. "If it mattered so much to you –”

"I did tell you," snaps Mark. "I told you to come out to California with me, I told you I needed you. I told you so many times and you couldn't hear me over your own fucking ego."

"You're one to talk about ego."

"Yeah," says Mark. "But at least I know I'm an asshole. You're an asshole who thinks he's a saint."

"I can't do this," Eduardo says, shaking his head. He backs up away from Mark, lifting his hands as if to ward him off. "I just can't, Mark."

"You're a coward," Mark says cruelly.

"Fuck you," says Eduardo and he shoves at Mark's shoulders. Mark catches his wrists in a tight grip and fixes Eduardo with a dark, burning gaze. Eduardo's stomach twists and he looks down to see that Mark is hard. "Seriously?" he asks.

Mark kisses him instead of answering and Eduardo bites down on Mark's lower lip in retaliation. Mark pushes his hips upward and tightens his grip on Eduardo's wrists. They make out for a desperate minute, Mark’s nails biting into Eduardo’s skin. Mark pulls back and drags Eduardo upstairs, a determined look on his face. Eduardo shrugs out of his clothes and yanks Mark’s hoodie off, throwing it aside without looking. He pushes Mark down onto the bed and straddles him. Mark looks up at him, his mouth pressed into a sullen line, and Eduardo lets out a slow breath.
 
“You make me so angry,” Eduardo growls, unbuttoning Mark’s shorts. Mark bucks up and dislodges Eduardo from his lap. Mark sits up and pushes Eduardo onto his hands and knees.
 
“You let your emotions get in the way,” Mark says, reaching over for the lube. “It’s your greatest weakness.”
 
“I’m sorry we can’t all be robots like you,” snaps Eduardo, and that’s when Mark presses the tip of a finger inside Eduardo. “Fuck.”
 
Mark laughs a little, low and dark. He works his finger inside at an excruciatingly slow pace. Eduardo curses in Portuguese, irritated.

"Patience," Mark says facetiously and he thrusts shallowly. Eduardo grits his teeth and tries to keep himself from giving in to Mark's ploy. Mark slowly curls his finger and Eduardo gasps involuntarily. Mark lets out a small laugh.

Eduardo clenches his fingers in the sheets and drops his head, breathing hard. Mark adds another finger, his other hand creeping around to press against Eduardo's stomach. Eduardo's breathing speeds up and he can't restrain himself from letting out a soft, needy sound.

"Do you want something?" asks Mark in a slightly mocking tone.

"For fuck's sake," Eduardo starts to say just as Mark crooks his fingers just so. He lets out an embarrassing moan that is louder than he's comfortable with.

Mark laughs again and Eduardo wishes he had stopped, that he had pulled away from Mark back in the kitchen – but he has never really been able to deny Mark anything. And Eduardo doesn't want to think anymore. He doesn't have to like Mark to have sex with him.

Mark teases Eduardo until Eduardo is shaking and so far gone that he stops being embarrassed by the sounds coming out of his mouth. Finally, Mark wraps his hand around Eduardo's cock, stroking only a few times until Eduardo comes with a shout.

He drifts for a few moments, lost in sensation, and when he regains awareness, he finds Mark jerking himself off. Eduardo scowls and knocks Mark's hand away and slides down to take Mark into his mouth.

One day, Eduardo decides afterwards, he's going to make Mark beg for it. He doesn't examine the thought too closely and instead goes to shower. Now that he's away from Mark, he keeps dwelling on Mark's accusations. He has always prided himself on his ability to see both sides of a situation – during Mark's lawsuit with the Winklevosses, Eduardo had always thought he understood both sides.

He had thought he had understood Mark's reasoning for shutting him out – revenge. It seemed so logical, so simple – Eduardo had frozen the bank account and so Mark had punished him in the best, most effective way he had at his disposal. Eduardo could understand that, even if he thought that Mark had overreacted and had generally been crueler than Eduardo had deserved.

He had never imagined that Mark had felt the distance that had grown between them following Facemash, following Eduardo getting punched. Mark had never seemed to notice or care; he had just asked for money.

Eduardo groans and thumps his head against the tiled wall of the shower. There's a small mark on his stomach from where Mark's nail had caught on his skin and Eduardo presses his fingers to it.

Eduardo's life used to be simple. His goal was to make his parents proud; to use his intellect and his skills to be successful. One day, he'd meet someone, fall in love, and get married. That was what he was supposed to do.

That goal – that dream – had been thrown wildly out of whack twice and both times were thanks to Mark fucking Zuckerberg.

Eduardo gets out of the shower and towels off. He changes into a shirt and a pair of underpants before going back into Mark's room to reclaim his outfit from earlier.

Mark is sitting on the edge of the bed with his laptop. Eduardo gets the odd feeling that Mark was waiting for him, which is strengthened when Mark looks up, his face eerily lit by the laptop's screen. Mark closes the computer and folds his arms over it.

They stare at each other for a long moment. Then, Mark says in a quiet, almost plaintive voice, "Come to bed."

Eduardo hesitates momentarily before saying, "All right." He climbs into Mark's bed while Mark sets his laptop on the bedside table and he lies flat on his back, staring at the ceiling. After a moment, Mark curls up against his side and gently kisses Eduardo's shoulder.

After a few minutes, Eduardo asks Mark, "What are we doing?"
 
Mark doesn't answer. Eduardo realizes that Mark has fallen asleep. He sighs and tugs the sheets up a little higher so they cover Mark's shoulders before closing his own eyes to wait for sleep to come.


*****

Eduardo wakes up the next morning to find Mark staring at him.

Eduardo blinks in surprise. He had forgotten how blue Mark's eyes were, how sometimes Mark looked soft and human rather than angry and vaguely robotic. "Hi," he says warily. "Is there something – um."

"You're lying on my arm," Mark says.

"Oh," says Eduardo and he rolls away to free Mark. "Sorry."

"It's fine," says Mark and he rises up onto his knees. "I didn't mind." He throws his leg over Eduardo's hips and settles himself down. He strokes his fingers along Eduardo's side and says, "Good morning."

"Good morning," Eduardo says, leaning up on his elbows. He tilts his chin up and Mark kisses him, slow and leisurely. When Mark pulls back, Eduardo says, "I'm sorry that – I'm sorry I yelled at you. I just – it's going to take a while for me to, to not get angry when Sean is involved."

Mark nods slowly and he leans back, his weight pressing on Eduardo's cock. Eduardo makes an annoyingly choked noise and rolls Mark over so he can press him into the mattress.

They manage to leave the bed sometime after ten. Eduardo turns on the television and spreads the assistant applications over the coffee table. He sits cross-legged on the floor and starts reading them over with a red pen in hand.

Mark pads downstairs about half an hour later, his hair damp from his shower, and he sits on the couch behind Eduardo. Eduardo hears the sound of Mark's computer starting up and has a strange sense of déjà vu. He looks up, half-expecting to see Chris reading some huge history textbook and Dustin playing Halo.

"Do you miss college?" he asks. The sound of Mark's typing pauses for a moment before starting up again.

"What do you mean?" inquires Mark. "Do I miss being in college or do I miss the experience of college?"

"Both, I guess."

This time, Mark stops typing for almost a full minute while he considers the question. "I miss certain things. I liked living with my friends. I wasn't so fond of AEPi or my sex life."

"I don't think anyone except Chris was satisfied with their sex life in college," says Eduardo wryly.

Mark snorts. "Yeah, well. I definitely don't miss classes. When I was a kid, I always thought that college would be full of people who were as smart or smarter than I was. It was very disappointing to find out that wasn't the case."

Eduardo starts laughing and then can't stop; it's such a classic Mark thing to say. He drops his head into his hands, hiccupping with laughter until he runs out of breath. "Of course," he says when he has recovered his composure. "Of course that's what you thought of college."

"I don't understand what's so funny," Mark says, but he sounds almost pleased. Eduardo tries to look over the applications some more, but keeps chuckling to himself as he replays Mark's words in his head.

"Stop laughing," says Mark, poking Eduardo in the shoulder. "You're distracting me."

"Nothing distracts you," retorts Eduardo.

"You do," says Mark. He pushes his knee against Eduardo's side. "Want lunch?"

"Um," stalls Eduardo, slightly flustered for some reason he can't entirely name. "Sure. Let's go grab something."


*****

"Nice car," Mark says in a dry voice, eying Eduardo's Audi. He opens the passenger seat. "Quarter-life crisis?"
 
"I woke up married next to my ex-best friend after not speaking to him for five years, forgive me for wanting a nice car," says Eduardo without thinking. Mark's face shuts down and Eduardo winces, appalled at himself. "Mark –”

"Right," Mark says. "Let's just go."

Eduardo sighs and gets into the car. He's not used to being the one to constantly stick his foot in his mouth. He wonders if this is how Mark feels all the time.

"I really didn't mean it to – Mark, it's just." Eduardo stops and rubs the bridge of his nose. "I'm sorry."

"I thought we were getting lunch?" Mark says.

"Mark –”

"Wardo. People say stupid shit. I should know. Can we just go already?" Mark makes a frustrated gesture and Eduardo bites his lip before nodding.

"Right. Okay." Eduardo starts the car and backs out of the driveway.

They end up going to In & Out just because Eduardo has seriously missed their burgers while he's been out of the country and he hasn't been yet. He tries to ignore the covert stares of the other patrons and orders himself a burger and fries.

While they're waiting for their food, Eduardo tries again to apologize, but Mark cuts him off before he's even gotten the first syllable out.

"Stop trying to apologize, Wardo," he says, exasperated. "We're fine."

"You're so – you're so forgiving," says Eduardo, keeping his voice low. "I don't get it. You were the same with the Winklevosses. You thought they were stupid, but you didn't care." He shakes his head. "I thought you hated me."

"Hating people is exhausting," Mark says matter-of-factly. "And I could never hate you, Eduardo. You're my best friend."

Eduardo doesn't miss his usage of the present tense, but he tries not to think about it too much. "And you – I mean." He stops, not wanting to bring up their argument from the night before, but Mark seems to pick up on what he's asking.

"Not even then," Mark says. "I was angry and I was stupid, but I didn't hate you. I was...jealous. But not for the reasons you thought at the time."

Eduardo takes Mark's hand and squeezes gently. "All right," he says. "I get it."

They eat by the window, not talking much. Eduardo pushes his foot up against Mark's and sees Mark smile slightly. Eduardo ducks his head to hide his answering grin.

 

Mark commandeers the job applications from Eduardo and looks over the candidates. "Most of these are college students," he remarks, flicking through the resumes.

"I don't need a full-time assistant," points out Eduardo. "It would be nice, sure, but right now I don't have that many local clients."

"You should expand your model," Mark says, looking up. "You're smart. Plenty of other businesses would want to take you on as a consultant, not just app developers."

Eduardo starts to answer, then frowns. "I'm smart?"

"Don't make me take that back," Mark says.

"I just – I don't think you ever said anything quite as – from you, that's a high compliment." Eduardo leans back on the sofa, still a little stunned. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Mark says shortly and he looks away. "I have a great deal of respect for you," he adds. "I don't know if I ever told you that."

"No," Eduardo says slowly, drawing out the word. "No, you never did."

"That was an error on my part." Mark hands the applications back to Eduardo. "I would say you should call in the Economics major and the English major in for interviews."

Eduardo has to flick through the papers to find the applicants Mark is referring to, but when he locates them, he sees that Mark has picked the two people Eduardo had thought were the best candidates. "Yeah," he says. "Thanks."

Mark nods, looking uncomfortable. "I need Jamie back," he says brusquely. "It was unexpectedly difficult without her."

Eduardo snorts and Mark's mouth quirks into a reluctant smile. Mark bends back over his computer and Eduardo goes to call the two candidates to set up their interviews.


*****

Eduardo feels like he's walking on eggshells for the rest of the weekend despite the fact that Mark seems to have completely gotten over the argument. Eduardo can't stop feeling that he needs to do something more to make it up to Mark.

Finally, he sucks it up and calls Dustin. "Was I an asshole?" he asks when Dustin picks up.

"What? What's going on? Wardo?" Dustin sounds groggy. Eduardo glances at the clock: four p.m.

"Were you asleep?" he asks incredulously.

"Shut up," says Dustin, now sounding more awake. "I had a long night, okay? Let's not talk about it. I feel like if I mention any of it, Chris's spidey sense will kick in and then he'll beat me on Monday."

"I probably don't want to know anyway," says Eduardo.

Dustin makes a noise of agreement. "So what were you asking?"

"Was I an asshole? At Harvard?"

"Is that what Mark said?"

"Could you just answer the question, Dustin?" Eduardo asked, exasperated.

Dustin is quiet for a moment. "Well," he says finally, dragging the word out until it's at least five syllables, "you and Chris were probably the nicest of us all. But, you know, sometimes you could be really stubborn. Usually when it came to Mark."

"How do you mean?"

"Look," Dustin says, "I think you should be talking to Mark about this. All I know is that Mark didn't want to push you out of the company, but he thought you weren't interested in the company anymore. Or something. He was never very clear about the whole thing."

Eduardo sighs and rubs a hand through his hair. "It was never about Facebook for me," he says. "It was about helping Mark."

"I know that," says Dustin, now sounding annoyed. "Don't tell me that, tell Mark that. Just, you know, don't scream at him this time." There's the sound of another voice in the background and Dustin says hurriedly, "I've got to run. I'll talk to you later," and then the line goes dead.

Eduardo throws his phone onto his bed and paces the floor of his room for a bit. Finally, he steels himself and heads downstairs to where Mark is reading a book on Russian history.

"Mark," Eduardo says. Then, when there's no response, "Mark, hey."

Mark looks up, his eyebrows drawn together. "What's up?"

"Can we talk?" Eduardo sits down when Mark nods. "I, uh. I want you to know that – look, when you came to me with Facebook, I knew it was a good idea. I knew, okay? But I didn't give you the money because it was a good idea. You could have come to me with Harvard Connection and I would have given you the money."

Mark straightens and sets his book aside. "Wardo –”

"Wait, let me finish," says Eduardo, holding up his hand. "It was never about the company. I mean, it was, but it was also about being your friend. I wanted to make Facebook successful because you loved it."

Mark tilts his head to the side as if he's processing this. "All right," he says after a moment. "I can understand that."

"Really?" asks Eduardo, feeling oddly relieved. He feels as though his twenty year-old self would be furious that Eduardo is apologizing to Mark – but Mark was right when he said that Eduardo had been selfish, at least when it came to Mark.

"Yeah," Mark says.

"I still hate Sean," Eduardo adds.

Mark snorts and says, "I figured. That's one thing that will never change." He picks up his book again and Eduardo stretches out on the sofa, his feet pressing against Mark's thigh. After a moment, Mark sets a hand on Eduardo's ankle and leaves it there. Eduardo closes his eyes and smiles to himself.


*****

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Sandra Saverin (saverin312@aol.com)

Re: Visiting your parents

Sweetie I understand you are very busy but it has been almost a month since you married Mark and you have still not visited your mother. Besides your father is getting very upset and you know what he is like when he is upset. Bring that boy to Miami please so that we may prove to Auntie Dolores that he is a real person.

This weekend would be good because your father does not have any business meetings and also it will be right after your one month anniversary. I will make a special food for you.

Love,
Mom

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: FW: Visiting your mother

My mother is beginning to get impatient. I think we need to book our flights back east for this weekend if possible.

See quoted text

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)

Re: FW: Your flight itinerary

You're booked on a flight to Newark on Saturday morning and a flight from Newark to Miami International on Tuesday, first class. You're welcome.

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: Meet the Parents

I kind of wish I was going to be there! I bet it will be a sight to see. I would bring popcorn.

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: seriously?

Come on, it's not like we haven't met each other's parents before. And how did you know we were going? Did Jamie tell you?

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovtiz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: SRSLY

Yeah, Jamie has a big mouth.

 

 

no actually I just read over her shoulder and I have the bruise to prove it.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovtiz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: STOP EVERYTHING

WAIT DOES THIS MEAN THE TWO OF YOU MADE UP

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: you know what curiosity did to the cat

Not that it's any of your business, but yes.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovtiz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: OH SWEET JOY

I don't think you understand how much of an asshole Mark has been for the past week. HR had to do some serious damage control to keep a few of the interns from quitting.

I take it you took my advice? *wink wink nudge nudge*

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovtiz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: Okay

Asking Chris to hit me for you is really unnecessary, Eduardo.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: the favor

Thanks, man.

 

To: Chris Hughes (Chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: the favor

Anytime. And I mean that.


*****

They fall into a rhythm over the course of the next week. Mark tends to wake earlier than Eduardo, and Eduardo curls up into the warm spot Mark leaves behind, listening to the sound of the shower. They eat breakfast in near silence before separating for work.

The first assistant candidate comes in for her interview on Tuesday. She's an Economics major at Stanford and she seems nice enough, but she seems a little distant. He thanks her for coming in and sighs, crossing her off the list.

The second candidate comes in on Wednesday afternoon. He's tall, broadly built, and is wearing a collared shirt that strains across his shoulder. He takes Eduardo's hand in a firm grip that belies his shy smile.

"Hi," he says in a soft, deep voice. "Hamid Nafisi."

"Eduardo Saverin," Eduardo says, smiling reassuringly. "Why don't you have a seat?"

Hamid sits down nervously on the edge of the couch, looking like he's afraid he'll break something. He rubs his hands on the fabric of his pants, his dark eyes wide.

Eduardo feels bad for him; from the resume, he can tell that this is probably one of Hamid's first real job interviews. He shuffles his papers a bit, then sets them aside and says, "So you're an English major."

Hamid nods, then hurriedly says, "Yes, yes I am."

Eduardo bites his lip to hide his amused smile and asks Hamid a few easy questions about his resume. Hamid visibly relaxes and Eduardo segues into explaining what he would be doing as Eduardo's assistant. Hamid nods understandingly and Eduardo decides to give him a chance.

"I'm going to show you a typical email we send and I want you to write one of your own," Eduardo says, beckoning Hamid over to the computer. "You have your own laptop?"

"Yeah," Hamid says, gingerly sitting down at Eduardo's desk chair. "You just want me to type up an email?"

"I just want to see how you write," says Eduardo and he steps back to let Hamid write. Hamid reads for a moment, then begins to type, lightning fast. He's almost as fast as Mark, who is easily the fastest typer Eduardo knows. Eduardo resists the urge to peek at the screen and waits patiently.

After a couple of minutes, Hamid says, "Um, I don't know if it's any good, but..."

Eduardo leans over Hamid's shoulder and reads the email carefully. Hamid uses clear, precise language, and there's an elegance to his phrasing that Eduardo likes. He pats Hamid on the shoulder absently and says, "Great, that looks great. Do you think you'd want the job?"

"Um, I guess?" Hamid says. "I mean, yes! Yes."

Eduardo bites down hard on the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing and says, "Well, you've got it. When are you available to work?"

"I can start tomorrow," says Hamid.

"You're welcome to if you're willing to do some work on your own next week," Eduardo says. "I'm going to be out of town."

Hamid looks slightly worried at that, but he nods. "Sure," he says. "I, um, guess you can show me what I'll be doing?"

"I will," Eduardo assures him. "Do you want to start today? You'll have to sign some NDAs."

Eduardo gives Hamid the paperwork to sign and goes to get the poor kid some water. While he's grabbing a water bottle, he hears his phone ring and Hamid calls, "Um, Mr. Saverin? Your phone, it's ringing."

"It's Eduardo and you can go ahead and answer it," says Eduardo, grabbing a water for himself. He comes back out and sees Hamid holding the office phone to his chest.

"Um, yes, um, Mr. – Mr. Zuckerberg, okay," says Hamid. He covers the mouthpiece of the phone and says, "It's your husband?"
 
 
"Right," says Eduardo. He hands Hamid the water bottle and takes the phone receiver. "Hey, Mark."

"Where did you put my sweatshirts when you did the laundry?" asks Mark.

"Why didn't you call my cell phone?"

"You didn't answer. Where are the sweatshirts?"

Eduardo grins a little and says, "Left hand side of your closet."

There's a rustling noise and then Mark says, "Oh." There's a brief pause and then he asks, "Is that your new assistant?"

"Yes," Eduardo says, slightly amused at the skeptical tone in Mark's voice. "Hamid Nafisi."

"The English major?" scoffs Mark. "He doesn't seem together."

"He's nervous," says Eduardo. "And he's a great writer." Eduardo glances up and sees that Hamid is blushing red. "Look, Mark, I'll talk to you when I get home. Do you want me to pick anything up? Actually," Eduardo says, changing his mind, "we need to eat our leftovers before we leave."

"Okay," Mark says vaguely and he hangs up. Eduardo can't help chuckling dryly as he sets the receiver back on the cradle.

"Is...I guess that was the," Hamid starts, sounding awkward. "I mean, you're – you're Eduardo Saverin."

"Yes," Eduardo says, now looking at Hamid with concern. "Is there going to be a problem?"

"No!" Hamid practically shouts. "I mean, um. It's just, no one is going to believe me when I say I'm working for you." He turns red again and jerks his head towards the door. "I'm just – I'm going to go."

"See you here tomorrow," Eduardo says, waving, and Hamid wiggles his fingers a bit in farewell before hurrying out. Eduardo leans back in his seat, grinning a little.

He's in a great mood when he goes home, pleased by finding an assistant that he likes, even if Hamid is a bit too shy. He's sure the kid will loosen up over time.

He smells burning food when he enters the house and he frowns, worried. "Mark?" he calls.

"Kitchen!" Mark calls back. Eduardo follows the sound and finds Mark poking at the charred remains of what Eduardo thinks is an omelet. Mark looks up Eduardo, his mouth twisted slightly.

Eduardo's eyebrows go up. "Jesus, what happened?"

"I had an idea while it was cooking," Mark says, gesturing in the direction of his laptop. "I wanted to get it done before I forgot."

Eduardo startles to chuckle and he covers his face with his hand, snorting a little. "Mark, god. How did you ever survive without someone else around?"

"I don't know," Mark admits. "I was hungry, and all we have are eggs and vegetables."

"Well, then I'll make something," says Eduardo. He points at the kitchen table. "Go code or something."

Mark sets the spatula down with a wry smile and returns to his computer. Eduardo scrapes the pan clean and then looks through the refrigerator. Mark is right; they mostly just have eggs and vegetables. Eduardo starts pulling ingredients out and sets them out.

"What are you making?" asks Mark. Eduardo glances up and sees Mark watching him.

"Spanish tortilla," says Eduardo. "It's good," he adds as Mark raises his eyebrows. "I promise."

"I trust you," Mark says and he starts typing again.
 
Eduardo sets the tortilla down on kitchen table. He grabs two plates, two forks, and a bottle of ketchup. Mark eyes the tortilla suspiciously and says, "You remember what spicy food does to me."

Eduardo rolls his eyes and says, "Yes. It isn't spicy."

"All right," Mark says warily and he works his fork in, using the side to cut off a piece. Eduardo watches as Mark takes his first bite. Mark chews for a moment, swallows, and says, "It's good."

"Told you," Eduardo says, smirking, and he takes a piece of the tortilla for himself.

"Your assistant doesn't seem up to it," Mark says after a minute. "Jamie wasn't that nervous when she started working for me."

"Jamie wasn't eighteen when she started working for you," replies Eduardo. "And he's not going to be my spokesperson."

"Jamie isn't my spokesperson," says Mark.

"Yeah, right," says Eduardo.

Mark smiles, ducking his head a little, and he fiddles with his fork. "I started packing. I wasn't sure what you wanted to bring."

"I'll pick some stuff out," says Eduardo. "Have you called your mom?"

Mark nods. "She's really excited to see you again," he says dryly. "Apparently Randi is coming home for the occasion."

"Oh," says Eduardo. He has never met Mark's older sister, but he has heard many things from Mrs. Zuckerberg. "Is she, uh, bringing her family?"

"I think so." Mark sits up straighter. "She just had a baby a few months ago."

"Do you have a gift?" asks Eduardo absently, taking the last bite of tortilla.

"Gift?" asks Mark.

Eduardo looks up. "Yes. Don't you think you should bring her a baby gift?"

"I didn't think – should I?" Mark looks surprised. "I gave her a gift when the baby was born."

"Babies need a lot of things, Mark," Eduardo reminds him. "You probably should give her something else."

"Oh," says Mark. "I don't know what to buy."

"Just buy an outfit, Mark," says Eduardo. "Is it a boy or a girl?"

"A girl," says Mark. "An outfit?"

Eduardo rubs his forehead and says, "Okay, we're going to go buy your niece something after work tomorrow. You want to be the cool uncle, Mark."

"You sound like Dustin," says Mark grumpily. "He tried to make me buy all these things for her."

Eduardo says, "You should have listened to him." He gets up to tidy up the plates. "It's your duty as an uncle to spoil her rotten."

"Nobody told me that," mutters Mark.

The two of them curl up on the sofa together, as usual. Eduardo channel surfs while Mark does whatever it is he does on the computer. Eduardo stretches out his arm and absently runs his fingers through the curls at the nape of Mark's neck. Mark's typing slows and he turns to look at Eduardo.

"I'm trying to work," Mark says, attempting to sound annoyed and missing by a mile. Eduardo strokes his fingers down the bones of Mark's neck and Mark shudders. "Wardo."

"Yes?" asks Eduardo as innocently as he can, enjoying the slight flush of Mark's cheeks. Mark looks unusually discomfited and Eduardo has to admit that he's enjoying it.

"You asshole," says Mark, shutting his laptop with a disgruntled snap. He shoves the laptop away and crawls over to straddle Eduardo's lap. Mark leans in until their mouths are almost touching and says again, "I was working."

Eduardo wraps his arms around Mark's waist and pulls him in. "Like you care."

"Fuck off," says Mark, but he's smiling when he kisses Eduardo.


*****

The next morning, Hamid arrives exactly on time, hugging his laptop to his broad chest. He nods to Eduardo and says, "Good morning, Mr. Saverin," before sitting at the other desk.

"It's Eduardo," Eduardo tells Hamid. "Don't worry about formality, it's just the two of us."

"All right," Hamid said hesitantly. He seems slightly suspicious at first, but later when he has a question, he calls Eduardo by his first name.

"Eduardo," he says in a puzzled tone. "I don't understand this spreadsheet you sent me."

Eduardo gets up and bends over Hamid's shoulder to take a look. "Oh," Eduardo says and he explains how he's been using it to keep track of clients and projects.

"Okay," says Hamid. "Though I think it would work better this way." He makes a couple of changes, his brow furrowed in concentration. Eduardo looks at the result and has to admit that it makes more sense now.

"Nice job," he says to Hamid. "That's actually really helpful."

Hamid ducks his head, smiling. Eduardo pats him on the shoulder before heading back to his own desk.

Eduardo orders them lunch around noon and asks Hamid about his classes, trying to gently coax the kid out of his shell. Eduardo isn't sure how someone so strongly built ended up being such a shrinking violet, but he finds it oddly charming. Hamid hunches his shoulders over his plate and admits that he likes writing.

"I know that's not exactly – I'm surprised you hired me," Hamid says. "Because your ad said you were looking for econ and business majors."

"I can take care of that end," says Eduardo dismissively, waving his hand. "Don't worry so much, Hamid."

Hamid smiles a little and says, "I'll try."

And he follows through on that, actually managing to debate with Eduardo a couple of times during the afternoon. "I don't think that's a good way to open the email," Hamid is saying when Mark comes in around four p.m. "It sounds too aggressive."

"Hey," says Mark. Eduardo and Hamid both look up. "Are you ready to go?"

Eduardo glances at the clock and is surprised to see that it's so late. "Oh, I didn't realize the time. Hamid, you can go home."

Hamid has gone rigid with tension, his eyes wide with what looks like fresh nervousness. "Um," he says, his hands frozen over his keyboard. "I, um. Okay."

"Aren't you going to introduce us?" asks Mark facetiously. He smirks a little and Eduardo glares at him.

"Fine. Hamid, this is Mark. You talked to him on the phone yesterday. Mark, this is Hamid." Eduardo shuts his computer off and tosses the keys to the office to Hamid. Hamid nearly fumbles them, but catches the ring on the tip of his index finger at the last second. "You're welcome to use the office while I'm gone next week, Hamid."

"Thanks, Mr. Sav – Eduardo," says Hamid, getting to his feet and almost tripping over himself. "I, um. Have a nice trip."

"Thanks." Eduardo watches in exasperation as Hamid hurries past Mark and out of the office. "You could have been nicer."

Mark shrugs, looking completely unremorseful. Eduardo rolls his eyes, deciding to leave that discussion for later, and adds, "And I didn't know you were coming by. I have my car here, you know."

"I know," says Mark. "Dustin dropped me off. My car is back at home."

"I don't even know where to look for baby gifts," points out Eduardo. "Have you looked anything up?"

"No," Mark says. "How hard is it to find a place that sells baby clothes?"

"Do you even know how big she is?" asks Eduardo, crossing his arms.

Mark blinks. "Baby-sized?" he suggests.

"We'll buy her some toys," says Eduardo.


*****

Eduardo had never realized before how much variety there was in children's toys. Mark seems to be just as startled as he is, judging by the slight widening of his eyes as he takes in the rows and rows of shelves.

"How many things can one kid need?" asks Mark, sounding slightly alarmed. "How are we supposed to find something in all of this?"

Eduardo glanced over at Mark. "Do you have any ideas of what she might like?"

"She's a girl," says Mark vaguely. "Barbies? Don't girls like Barbies?"

"Oh, honestly," groans Eduardo and he grabs Mark's hand. "We're going to find something more appropriate for her, all right? What's her name?"

"Leah," says Mark a little distractedly. He turns to look at something that caught his eye. "Wardo. Look at this."

Eduardo turns as Mark releases Eduardo's hand. He rises up on his tiptoes to pull a brightly colored box off the top shelf. He held it out for Eduardo's inspection, a small smile playing around his lips.

"A baby laptop?" asks Eduardo in disbelief, staring at the label on the box. "Why does this even exist?"

"Because some people want their children to be smart, Wardo," Mark says in a slightly patronizing tone, taking the box back from Eduardo. "We're getting this."

"This is ridiculous," says Eduardo. "How old is this child?"

Mark shrugs. "About six months."

"Mark, we really should –"

"Can I help you?" asks a cheery female voice from behind them. They both turn to see a plump blonde woman with a huge, genuine smile. She's wearing a uniform t-shirt and a nametag that reads Pamela. "I see you've picked out the baby laptop," she adds, nodding to the box in Mark's hands. "If you like that, then I have something else I'm sure you'll love."

"He thinks that it's inappropriate for a six month old," Mark tells her. Eduardo rolls his eyes, but can't help smiling at Mark’s indignant tone.
"It is a bit advanced for that age," Pamela says diplomatically. "But of course the child can always play with it later. Are you shopping for a boy or a girl?"

"Girl," Eduardo and Mark say in unison.

"Oh, that's sweet," says Pamela, leading the way down the aisle. "Your daughter is a lucky girl!”

"We're buying gifts for his niece," Eduardo corrects, feeling hot all over. Mark has a slightly horrified look on his face, no doubt terrified by the prospect of having a kid.

"Oh!" says Pamela, her eyes wide as she looks back at them. "I'm sorry! I just, I saw the rings and I assumed –” She shakes her head, smiling sheepishly. "Anyway."

She stops and pulls something off the shelf. She passes it over to Eduardo and says, "If you're interested in getting your niece interested in technology, you might want to give this a go."

"You're going to turn her into a business woman," says Mark.

"You realize you're in business, right?" Eduardo asks Mark.

"I don't have a Blackberry," Mark points out.

"If you get the laptop, I get the smart phone," Eduardo says. They stare at each other for a moment. Mark's mouth is set in a stubborn line, but Eduardo is sure that he'll eventually give in.

"I suppose more than one gift wouldn't hurt," Mark says eventually.

"You're the uncle," says Pamela. "It's your job to spoil her."

"I told you so," Eduardo says.

By the time they finally make it to check-out, they have picked up a couple more things, including a ridiculous playset that both of them had loved on sight. Mark had come around to the idea of buying toys for Leah once he had seen all the educational toys.

"She has excellent genes," Mark says to Eduardo defensively. "She has the potential to be a genius. I want to encourage her intellectual growth."

Eduardo shook his head in amusement and let Mark pick whatever he wanted.

"I think you made very good choices," Pamela tells them as she rings them up. "This is going to be one lucky little girl."

Mark looks pleased by this. He digs out his wallet, holding out his hand to stop Eduardo from trying to pay. "It's my sister. I've got it."

"Mark –"

"I've got it," repeats Mark firmly. Eduardo gives up and instead waits while the toys are bagged up.

"We're going to have to pack a separate suitcase for these," Eduardo says as they lug the bags through the parking lot. "How did we buy so much?"

"You were the one who said I should spoil her," Mark points out, sounding slightly out of breath.

"True," agrees Eduardo, setting the bags down on the asphalt to dig out his keys. "I forgot that you never do anything by halves."

Mark looks as though he's not sure how to take that comment. Eduardo pops the trunk and levers the bags inside. Mark steps closer to Eduardo than is strictly necessary and puts his bags inside. Once his hands are free, he slides one arm around Eduardo's waist, glancing back over his shoulder.

Eduardo turns in surprise, looking down at Mark. Then he sees the photographer over Mark's shoulder and he sighs. "I see."

"Yeah," Mark says. He gently urges Eduardo down for a light kiss, his hand splayed wide against the small of Eduardo's back. When they separate, Mark says in a quiet voice, "I appreciate you coming with me."

"It was my pleasure," Eduardo says, just as softly, feeling slightly off-kilter for some reason he can't name.

Mark nods once and reaches up to close the trunk. Eduardo watches him circle around to the passenger side of the car, frowning to himself. His stomach is twisting strangely and his mouth is tingling slightly. He lifts his hand to his lips, then shakes his head at himself.

Eduardo goes to bed early, still feeling slightly off-balance. He curls up on his side in Mark's bed and listens to Mark type next to him. His heart is racing uncontrollably, no matter how Eduardo tries to slow it. He breathes in and out, his eyes tightly closed so he won't be tempted to roll over and look at Mark. When Mark finally closes his laptop and lies back in bed, Eduardo pretends to be asleep. He lies awake for a long time, listening to Mark breathe.


*****

Eduardo sleeps through half of the nearly six hour flight while Mark reads from a book on Greek mythology. When Eduardo wakes up, he finds that he had slumped over onto Mark's shoulder. He straightens, rubbing the back of his hand over his mouth.

"Morning," Mark says placidly, turning the page in his book. He sneaks a look over at Eduardo, a smile tugging at his lips. "Did you sleep well?"

Eduardo stretches and says, "I don't know how you can stand to stay awake the whole time."

Mark shrugs, looking back at his book. "You know I don't sleep all that much."
 
"Still." Eduardo sinks down in his seat a little and reaches into the pouch on the back of the seat in front of him. He finds a magazine and flips through it until he finds a crossword puzzle. He digs a pen out of his briefcase and starts filling in letters.

Mark seems to lose interest in his book and he bends over Eduardo's shoulder, his breath hot and damp against Eduardo's neck. "That one is Perl," he says, pointing. Eduardo obligingly spells it out, trying not to be distracted by how Mark's arm is pressed up against his. It's stupid to get worked up over it, he tells himself.

They complete the puzzle about half an hour before landing. Mark slides the window shade up and looks out the slightly fogged panes. Eduardo stares at the pale stretch of Mark's neck, oddly transfixed by the familiar sight.

He manages to snap himself out of his trance before Mark turns away from the window and he looks down at the magazine in his hands, pretending that he's really interested in the article on Alec Baldwin.

Eduardo had met Mark's parents a couple of times in the past. Karen had come to visit Mark at Harvard a few times, just to make sure that her only son was still alive. He had liked both of them; Karen had an unnerving intelligence that mirrored Mark's, and Edward had that same dry humor that Mark employed on occasion. He had met Randi briefly at Harvard; she had been three years ahead of them and hadn't spent much time with her brother. But she was sweet and very friendly; it was sometimes hard to fathom how she could be related to Mark. He hadn't met Mark's other sisters; they had been in high school and, later, at other colleges, but from what he had heard, they were more like Randi than Mark.

As they near Dobbs Ferry, Eduardo finds himself growing strangely nervous about seeing the Zuckerbergs again. He hasn't seen any of them since the lawsuit and he's sure that they have reformed their opinions of him. He sinks down a little in the passenger seat and rubs his face.

"I'm beginning to think this wasn't a good idea," Eduardo tells Mark. "Won't your parents hate me?"

Mark snorts and gives Eduardo an exasperated look. "Don't be an idiot. My parents love you. My mother wants to adopt you and fatten you up."

"But the lawsuit –"

"Wardo. Stop worrying about it." Mark turns the car onto a quiet, nearly empty street. "You worry too much."


*****

The house Mark grew up in is a bit smaller than Eduardo's family home in Miami. Eduardo grabs the luggage out of the car while Mark knocks on the front door, bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet. It takes Eduardo a moment to realize that Mark is excited.

The door opens and Karen Zuckerberg comes out, saying, "Mark, dear," and pulling Mark into a hug. Eduardo stops what he's doing and just watches them for a moment. Mark is a few inches taller than his mother and he stoops a little to be at her level. Mark takes after her in looks; he has her curly hair and blue eyes, but her face is much more expressive.

When she releases Mark, she calls, "Come on, Eduardo, don't be shy." She holds out her arms with an expectant look. "Mark can get the luggage."

Eduardo dragged himself up the path to the front door and allows himself to be folded into Karen's warm embrace. He can smell cooking food through the open door and his stomach rumbles a little.

Karen laughs cheerfully. "Hungry, are you?" She released Eduardo and held him at arm's length. "No wonder, you're stick thin. Didn't you eat in Singapore?" She doesn't wait for an answer. Instead, she leans back and calls, "Ed! Ed, the boys are here!"

Mark lugs their bags up to the door and drops them just inside the doorway. He looks from Eduardo to his mother and asks, "Are you coming inside?"

"Oh, of course," says Karen, shaking her head. "Come on, Eduardo, you'll be staying in Mark's old room. You're both so skinny, you'll fit in his bed just fine."

Eduardo feels himself flushing at the casual way she throws that out and Mark seems equally embarrassed, judging by the way he turns very slightly pink. "Thank you, Mrs. Zuckerberg," he says, going to pick up one of the suitcases. "You're very kind."

"It's Karen, Eduardo, really. You're family now." Karen pats Eduardo's shoulder fondly and swoops in to press a kiss to Mark's cheek. "Show him around the house, dear."

"All right, Mom," Mark says in a tone of great long-suffering, and he grabs another suitcase so he can drag it upstairs.

Mark's room is at the end of the hall. Karen and Edward had obviously made an attempt to turn the room into something useful, but remnants of Mark still remain. There is a small bookshelf lined with books on mythology and computer science; a few of them look like they aren't in English. There's a poster for the original Star Wars on the wall, but that's the only piece of decoration.

Mark drops the suitcase next to the closet door and says, "This is my room."

"Yeah," Eduardo agrees. Mark watches him closely, as if gauging Eduardo's reactions. Eduardo sits on the edge of the double bed and says, "It's nice."

Mark shrugs and gestures for Eduardo to follow him. Mark shows Eduardo his sisters' rooms, the bathroom they would be using, the master bedroom, and the upstairs study. "I don't know why she thought I should give you a tour," Mark says, a little grumpily. "It's just a house."

On a whim, Eduardo reaches out and pulls Mark into his arms. Mark relaxes a little and turns his face up, his eyes searching Eduardo's face. "It's where you grew up, though," Eduardo says in a carefully controlled tone. "It's interesting."

"There's nothing interesting about here," Mark says, frowning.

Eduardo rolls his eyes and presses a quick, dry kiss to Mark's mouth. "You've been spoiled by California."

"I never liked it here," Mark says frankly. "Even before yo – California."

"Watch it, we're visiting your parents," says Eduardo lightly, trying not to pay too much mind to Mark's stutter. "You have to fake liking it."

Mark gives Eduardo an exasperated look, as if to remind him that Mark has never been very good at hiding either boredom or contempt.

"Yeah, okay," Eduardo says. "Maybe not."

They head downstairs after that. Mark's dad is sitting on the leather couch in the den, watching an old episode of Star Trek on television. He grins when Mark and Eduardo come in.

"Mark," he says jovially, getting to his feet. He's surprisingly tall and Mark looks small and very young next to him.

"Hey, Dad," Mark says, hugging his dad briefly. "You remember Eduardo."

"We met a couple of times," Eduardo says, holding out his hand politely.

Edward looks at Eduardo's hand, his eyebrows creeping upwards skeptically. "Oh, come on, son," he says. "Don't be ridiculous." And then he sweeps Eduardo into a rib-cracking hug.

Eduardo is taken aback by the display of affection and it takes him a moment to react. Edward pats Eduardo on the back and says, "I'm so glad he married you. I don't know if anyone else could have put up with him. We were sure he would end up in a house full of robots."

"Dad," Mark says in a very flat, dry voice. "Please stop crushing my husband."

An odd thrill runs through Eduardo at the word husband. Edward laughs cheerily and releases Eduardo. Eduardo clears his throat, suddenly a little flustered, and smiles awkwardly at Edward.

"It's nice to see you again," he says politely to cover his confusion. "You have a lovely home."

Edward snorts, sounding unnervingly like his son, and says, "Come on, sit down and watch some tv." He sits back down on the couch and, after a moment of hesitation, Eduardo sits down on the end. Mark settles down next to him, pressing up close to Eduardo. Edward throws them an indulgent smile and Eduardo turns very red.

The episode is almost over when Karen emerges from the kitchen and calls, "Mark! Come set the table!"

Eduardo gets to his feet guiltily, realizing that he should have offered his help. "Is there anything else you need, Mrs. – I mean, Karen?" he asks. "I'd be glad to help."

"Sit down and watch television, Eduardo," Karen orders kindly. "You're a guest."

Eduardo obediently sinks back down onto the couch while Mark gets up to go help his mother. His knee jiggles up and down a little until he forces himself to stop. He folds his hands in his lap and watches the end of the episode. When the credits start, Edward mutes the television and turns to look at Eduardo.

"I have to tell you, Eduardo, I wasn't kidding earlier," Edward says in a slightly less cheery voice. "We've been worried about Mark. He's always been an...odd kid. And he's never been very good at dating." He grins suddenly. "But you know all this."

"Yes," Eduardo says, mouth dry. He tries not to think how heart-broken they will be when Eduardo and Mark separate. His stomach twists a little and he looks down at his hands. "I'm – he –"

"You're a good man," says Edward when Eduardo fails to find the words he needs. "He needs that. He needs you. I've never seen him so unhappy as when the two of you were out of sorts."

Eduardo breathes out hard. "It wasn't a good time for either of us," he says quietly.

"No," agrees Edward. "But enough of that. Welcome to the family, Eduardo. I'm proud to call you son."

Eduardo bites the inside of his mouth at the sudden and humiliating prick of tears at the back of his eyes. "You're very kind," Eduardo says, his voice coming out a little thick. "Thank you."

Mark comes in a moment later, saying, "Mom says dinner is ready." He catches sight of Eduardo's face and says, "Wardo?"

"I'm fine," Eduardo says, getting to his feet. "Let's eat some dinner."


*****

"So," says Karen as she passes Eduardo a bowl of brussel sprouts. "How are your parents?"
 
"They're doing well, thank you for asking," Eduardo says with automatic politeness, smiling. He spoons out a helping of sprouts, then passes the bowl to Mark. Mark stares at the vegetables for a moment, frowning. "You should eat some," Eduardo says, suspecting that Mark is about to just pass them on.

Mark gives him a slightly amused look, but obediently parcels out five or six sprouts. "Happy?" he asks, voice very dry.

"Delighted," says Eduardo. He happens to look up a moment later and he meets Karen's eyes. Karen smirks a little and raises her glass to him.

"It's good to know you look after his health," Karen says serenely. "He had a nanny when he was younger, but unfortunately he outgrew that."

"He has a personal assistant now," says Eduardo. "It seems to be more or less the same thing."

Karen laughs, setting her glass back down. "I've gotten that impression," she agrees.

"I'm so glad I brought you here," Mark says. "I really needed my mother to have a spy."

"Now, Mark," says Karen, "if you really think that I don't have Dustin and Chris email me every few weeks, I honestly don't know who you think I am. I'm lucky if I can wring a phone call out of you once a month."

"I should really fire them," says Mark, scowling.

Edward meets Eduardo's eyes, smiling slightly. "They'll be at it for a while," he tells Mark. "Tell me, what are you doing? I heard you were looking for an office."

"I found one," Eduardo says. "I'm working as a consultant, more or less."

"Excellent. You always were very smart." Edward finishes his glass of wine and then offers the bottle to Eduardo. Eduardo hesitates for a moment, then passes his wine glass over. "Tell me, Eduardo. How did somebody as smart as you end up with my son?"

Eduardo snuck a glance at Mark, who was still arguing with his mother. Despite the sarcasm dripping from every word, Mark sounds happy and there's a rhythm to their speech that tells Eduardo they've had this argument before.

"I honestly don't know," says Eduardo and he takes a sip of wine to hide the fact that his face is flushing. Edward eyes him with that unnervingly sharp gaze that Mark occasionally employs. Then he laughs a little and shakes his head.

"Well, he kept you a secret," says Edward conversationally. "The two of you did a good job, if Karen wasn't able to ferret it out."

"We didn't want to tell anyone." Eduardo pokes at his food a little before finally stabbing a brussel sprout. "What would you have thought?"

"I would have been concerned." Edward's voice is very serious, suddenly. Eduardo looks up nervously to find that Edward is looking at Mark with a fond smile on his face. "I know he loves you, but the two of you are so good at breaking each other's hearts."

Eduardo has no idea what to say in response to that. He has the urge to correct Edward, but he can't figure out what he wants to say, or how he'd say it without blowing their cover story. He settles on nodding and takes another sip of wine.

By the time dinner is over, Eduardo is slightly tipsy from a combination of too much wine and the tiredness that comes with traveling. He heads upstairs to Mark's old room and throws himself into the bed, his face mashed into the pillow.

He hears footsteps from behind him and he rolls over to see Mark sit on the edge of the bed. "Hey," Eduardo says.

"You're drunk," says Mark after a moment.

Eduardo held out his thumb and forefinger. "Just a little," he promises. "Not that much."

Mark nods and gets up to shimmy out of his jeans. Eduardo watches him, his eyes at half-mast. Mark is all smooth, pale skin, and sometimes all Eduardo wants to do is mess him up a little, to leave evidence of his presence on Mark's body.
 
"Your parents are nice," Eduardo tells Mark in lieu of saying something stupid like, I'd really like to kiss you. "I like your dad."

"Wait until my mom gets you alone," Mark says darkly, slipping into bed. "She's a psychiatrist. She'll just love you."

"What do you mean?" asks Eduardo, slightly affronted.

Mark throws Eduardo an exasperated look and sinks down a little. "Forget it, Wardo." He leans over and kisses Eduardo slowly, his tongue tracing briefly over the curve of Eduardo's lower lip. Eduardo sighs and pushes against Mark.

Mark's hand settles on Eduardo's hip, his fingers working their way underneath the untucked hem of Eduardo's shirt. Eduardo pulls away just as Mark's fingers graze the skin of Eduardo's hips.

"We can't do this," he says, rolling away.

Mark lets out an annoyed sound and says, "Don't be ridiculous."

"Your parents are down the hall," Eduardo says stubbornly. "I'm not having sex with them right there."

Mark tries to pull Eduardo back, but Eduardo resists. "Wardo," groans Mark, flopping onto his back. "It's not like they don't know we're having sex."

"That is really not the point, Mark," Eduardo replies. "It's just – weird."

Mark rises up and moves to straddle Eduardo's hips. He settles his ass right over Eduardo's cock and moves a little bit, his mouth twisted into a smug smirk. Eduardo gasps and grabs at Mark's waist to make him stop moving.

"Wardo," says Mark and his voice is suddenly a little rough, a little deeper than usual. "We have a car."

Eduardo stares at him for a moment before he gets it. Then he's shaking his head violently, saying, "Mark, we are not in high school, we are not going to go have sex in our rental car –”

Mark leans down and kisses him again, cutting off Eduardo's words. Eduardo groans and pushes his hips up. He sucks Mark's lower lip a little and Mark makes a soft noise.

"Mark," Eduardo says breathlessly when they part. "I really – we shouldn't." He thinks of the papers sitting in his drawer at his office; he thinks about how Mark has his own life to get back to, other people to occupy his attention.

"Wardo," Mark says, rolling his eyes. "Either we have sex here or we drive somewhere dark and secluded and you let me blow you. It's your pick."

"Jesus, Mark," sighs Eduardo.

"Car it is," says Mark and he drags Eduardo off the bed.

The moment after Mark parks the car at the end of a darkened road, Mark is reaching over to push Eduardo's seat back as far as it goes. Eduardo obligingly reclines the seat and waits for Mark to figure out exactly why this isn't going to work.
 
Except Mark just clambers over the gearshift and sinks to his knees on the floor, squishing himself so that he fits. Eduardo looks down at him and says, "Mark."

"Do you really want to talk to me right now?" Mark asks as he leans forward to press his mouth to the fabric over Eduardo's crotch. Eduardo moans and his head thumps back as Mark's tongue presses against his covered erection.

"You're evil," he tells Mark in a voice that is far too high and broken. "You honestly are."

"Mm, whatever," says Mark. He unzips Eduardo's pants and then tugged them down along with Eduardo's briefs. Eduardo props himself up on his elbows so he can watch this time. Mark's expression is thoughtful, concentrated. He runs his fingers lightly down the shaft of Eduardo's cock, looking appraising. Then he presses his lips to the tip.

"Christ," says Eduardo and he falls back in the seat. Mark's tongue flicks out around the head, teasing. Mark takes Eduardo in, inch by inch, until he's making slightly desperate gagging noises around him. It's by far the hottest thing Eduardo has ever had happen to him; Mark can't seem to get enough and Eduardo has to says, "Stop, stop," to get Mark to pull off.

"What?" asks Mark crossly. His lips are shiny and red and Eduardo really needs to kiss him, needs to feel Mark solid and real in his arms.

He pulls Mark up and kisses him, sticking his hand down the front of Mark's pants. Mark pants and writhes when Eduardo gets his hand around him. Eduardo jerks him off, greedily watching Mark's face.

"Wa-" Mark says when he comes, the word breaking off. He jerks into Eduardo's hand, desperate, and then collapses against him.

"That wasn't what I meant to happen," Mark says eventually. He pulls away and looks down between them to where Eduardo's cock is still hard. "Let me make you come," he says softly, looking Eduardo directly in the eye.

Eduardo shudders and nods, angling his hips up so Mark has a better vantage point. Mark smiles, all teeth, and jerks Eduardo off with a single-mindedness that is normally not at all sexy. Eduardo gasps something that could, under some circumstances, be mistaken for Mark's name, and comes, spilling over Mark's hand.

Mark looks down and says, "I hope we didn't get any jizz on the seats," and Eduardo starts laughing, weakly at first. But then Mark looks at him with a puzzled expression on his face and Eduardo starts laughing again until he has to haul Mark down for another kiss.


*****

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: congrats!!!

I call godfather!

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: you confuse me more with each passing day

Dustin, what the hell are you talking about?

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: sometimes you can be very passive aggressive

Shit, did Chris not email you yet? forget i said anything and then when you hear from chris email me back on that godfather thing!

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: An important question

Please tell me that the two of you aren't actually planning to adopt a kid, because Gawker sent me a bunch of photos of you two buying everything at Toys 'R Us and I swear to god if the two of you make another major life decision without warning me first, I will quit. And then kill both of you.

I told them that you were shopping for presents because they were planning on running the story as something like, "Facebook lovebirds to adopt?" I already grind my teeth at night, don't add more stress to my life.

Also, I would like to be assured that in the event that you do have children, you would never, ever let Dustin be the godfather.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com); Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: oh please

Oh come on! I would be an awesome godfather! babies love me. Plus I know all the cheats in Mario Kart tell me that isn't valbuable information to pass onto the next generation of baby gamers

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com); Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: this is a stupid argument

a) We're not adopting; we were shopping for Randi's kid.
b) Dustin, we are not adopting.
c) And since we're not adopting, that means there is no need for a godfather.
d) You spelled valuable wrong.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: your face is stupid

Hypothetically! Would you let me be the godfather to your lovebaby? because seriously chris would be the most boring godfather in the world.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Dustin

Mark says you have his permission to smack Dustin.

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com); Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: Dustin

...I forgive you.


*****

Randi and her family arrive around eleven. Mark seems strangely jittery and on edge for some reason, so Eduardo leaves him alone and instead types up an email to Hamid, explaining the work that needs to be done while he's away. He's just finishing up when he hears the doorbell ring.

He descends the stairs as Karen and Edward open the door. Randi is standing there, a huge grin on her face, and she is immediately enveloped in a huge hug. Randi looks the same as last time Eduardo her, save for a few lines around her mouth and a slight softness to her features.

Eduardo looks around and spots Mark lurking a little ways behind him. "Mark," he says in an undertone, "Come on."

"Where's my brother?" demands Randi, releasing her parents. "I have to see him."

Mark goes forward reluctantly, shuffling against the carpet. Randi sweeps him into an enthusiastic embrace that he reluctantly returns. "Hi, Randi," Mark says, slightly muffled.

"I heard you got married!" says Randi brightly. "So where is this famed husband of yours? I want to meet the man brave enough to withstand my brother."

Eduardo waves a little and steps forward. Randi hugs him, too, and says softly, "You were always my favorite of his friends."

"Thanks," Eduardo says, a little dazed.

She releases him and gestures forward a tall man with a baby strapped to his chest. "You all remember Brent. Eduardo, this is my husband, Brent."

Eduardo holds out his hand to shake, and he and Brent momentarily share looks of Good Lord, this family. "Good to meet you," Brent says.

"And the baby girl is Leah," adds Randi, her eyes going soft as she looks at the curly top of the baby's head.

"Come inside," says Karen impatiently, "sit down, I'm sure there's lots to talk about."

"The presents," Eduardo says to Mark as the Zuckerberg family moves towards the living room. "We should go get them."

Mark nods and takes to the stairs. His hands are shoved deep in his pockets and he looks uncomfortable for some reason. Eduardo frowns and follows him upstairs.

"Are you all right?" Eduardo asks as Mark thrusts one of their many bags into his arms. "You seem a little on edge."

"I'm fine," Mark says curtly.

"Mark –”

"Wardo, I'm fine." Mark finally turns to face Eduardo, his mouth set in a stubborn line. "I don't need your concern."

Eduardo opens his mouth to argue with that, then realizes what Mark is doing. "You're not going to distract me," Eduardo says firmly. "You're lying. There's something wrong. But –” he adds as Mark's expression darkens, "I'm not going to ask anymore. If you don't want to tell me, fine. Just promise me that if there is really something wrong, you'll come to me."

Mark looks anguished for a moment. Finally, he says stiffly, "I appreciate that. But this is something – it's something I have to deal with."

Eduardo nods and says, "I understand." He raises the toys in his arms. "Let's go shock and horrify your sister with how much stuff we bought."


*****

"Oh my goodness," says Randi when they stagger into the living room. "Did you buy out the entire Toys 'R Us?"

"Very possibly," Eduardo tells her, smiling. "Mark couldn't be stopped."

Randi looks down at Leah, who is now on her lap, and says, "Leah, honey, look what Uncle Mark and Uncle Eduardo bought for you. Toys!"

Leah claps her tiny, pudgy hands together and coos. She's a cute baby, Eduardo has to admit. She has wide hazel eyes and a mop of curly brown hair; she's very obviously Randi's daughter. Randi sets Leah down on the floor and Leah crawls determinedly over to Mark and Eduardo. Eduardo sits cross-legged on the floor and grins as she approaches.

"Hi," Eduardo says, holding out a hand. She grabs on and uses it to pull herself upright. She peers curiously into his face, then bats at his head, saying something completely incomprehensible. "We have presents," Eduardo tells her and he settles her in his lap.

Mark is looking at Eduardo with a wry smile on his face. "Of course you're good with kids," he mutters. "It figures."

Eduardo isn't given a chance to answer; Leah takes that moment to point urgently at one of the bags of toys. Eduardo laughs and gestures for Mark to pass it over.

Leah's favorite gift is, of course, the stupid laptop toy. She keeps pressing its buttons with a look of startled fascination on her tiny face. Randi shakes her head in false dismay over the array of gifts, but later she takes Eduardo aside and says, "Thank you."

"Mark picked most of them out," Eduardo feels compelled to point out.

"I'm sure he did," Randi says wryly. "But I'm equally sure that you're the one who thought he should bring a gift." She smiles a little. "I know my brother, Eduardo, and I know that you're the one who thinks about that sort of thing."

Eduardo doesn't have a reply for her, but Randi doesn't seem to be expecting one. She smiles at him and pats him on the shoulder before going to collect her daughter off the floor.

Lunch is lot rowdier than the previous night's dinner. Brent is a cheerful guy who is a venture capitalist, so Eduardo ends up getting embroiled in a discussion with him while Randi tries to feed Leah with limited success. Mark is suspiciously quiet for most of the meal until Karen comes out with a cake that says Happy One Month Anniversary! on it.

"I thought cake was bad for teeth," Mark says dryly, looking at his dad.

"This is a special occasion," Edward says firmly, cutting a slice. "How are your teeth, anyway?"

"Dad, I'm not your patient," Mark says. Eduardo leans back, draping his arm along the back of Mark's seat. Mark glances at him, his expression inscrutable.

"You're my child," Edward says placidly. "You'll always be my patient."

"Be glad it's him and not me," Karen says, waving her finger. "I'm sure you don't want to hear more about antisocial behavior."

"Definitely not," Mark says.

"What about you, Eduardo?" asks Edward, turning to look at him. "Do you take care of your teeth?"

"Never had a cavity," Eduardo says proudly.

"Of course," mutters Mark. Randi starts laughing, which sets Leah off in a fit of childish giggles. Mark looks vaguely petulant as the rest of his family joins in. Eduardo drops his hand to the back of Mark's neck and rubs absently until Mark releases some of the tension in his shoulders.

Karen passes a piece of cake to Eduardo, giving him a friendly smile, then cuts a huge slice for herself. "I hope you like chocolate," she says to Eduardo. "Mark wouldn't tell us what kind of cake to get."

"I didn't want a cake," Mark says, poking at his slice with his fork. "It seems a little ridiculous to have a cake just for managing to stay together for one month."

"Mark, shut up and eat your cake," Randi says, pointing imperiously. "You robbed me of the chance to embarrass you at your wedding, you are at least going to eat some cake."

Mark rolls his eyes but obediently takes a bite of cake. Eduardo laughs and digs into his own slice, smiling to himself.

After lunch, Mark and Randi vanish upstairs together. Eduardo looks at Karen questioningly and she shrugs.

"Randi and Mark have always been close," she says. "She was the only one Mark ever talked to. Heaven knows he never liked talking to me."

"Because you couldn't resist psychoanalyzing him, darling," says Edward, kissing the top of her head as he passes. "Brent, I've been meaning to get your help with something – could you come out into the backyard with me?"

"Sure," Brent says. He looks to Eduardo and asks, "Could you hold Leah for me?"

Eduardo holds out his hands and lets Brent settle Leah into his arms. Leah looks a little drowsy, her eyelids drooping. "Is there anything I need to do?"

"She's been burped," Brent assures him. "And if anything else happens, Karen knows what to do. She's not too fussy, so you should be all right."

Eduardo settles down on the couch and stares down at the small, innocent face. Leah is a sweet-looking child, and Eduardo has the feeling that she's going to be a real heart breaker when she grows up.

"Eduardo," says Karen, coming to settle down next to him. "We haven't had a chance to really chat."

"No," agrees Eduardo, smiling at her. "It's really nice to see you again, Karen."

Karen smiles and picks up the newspaper. "You know, of course, that Mark is a unique person."

"Yeah," Eduardo says with a small smile. "I've noticed."

"I'd always kind of thought he got lucky with you," Karen says absently. "I remember when I first met you, I was a little sad that he didn't seem to realize –” She shakes her head and gives him a distracted smile. "Sorry, I'm rambling."

"It's all right," Eduardo says, curious as to what she had been about to say. "Go on."

"Oh, I was just going to say, he didn't seem to realize just how lucky he was to have someone around to take care of him." Karen turns a page of the newspaper. "He only realized after, you know."

Eduardo looks at her, chewing on his lower lip. He had seen Mark a couple of times after the lawsuit and Mark had never seemed to notice that Eduardo was even there. Eduardo couldn't imagine that Mark had missed him; it seemed so unlikely. But then, Eduardo is becoming more and more aware that there was a lot about Mark that he didn't know or understand.

"You, though," and now Karen lowers her newspaper, her gaze sharp and penetrating. "You crave his attention. You've always needed him more than he needed you. I used to think that your relationship verged on codependency. I liked you, but I never thought that being friends with Mark was good for you."

"And now?" asks Eduardo hesitantly, his stomach twisting a little. He feels suddenly short of breath, listening to Karen dispassionately dissect him like that.

"It may seem counter intuitive, but I think that lawsuit was the best thing that could have happened to you," Karen says. "Mark learned that there was a breaking point with you, and I think you lost some of your naïveté."

Eduardo has to admit she's right about the lawsuit. It changed both of them – changed all of them, really. Eduardo knows that Chris never really forgave them for putting him in the position of having to pick sides, and he knows that he himself is much slower to trust now. He has very few people he considers to be friends, and most of them are from college or high school. From what he's seen, Mark has gotten better at dealing with people, though he hasn't lost his slightly abrasive edge.

"It's been hard," Eduardo admits after a moment. "He can make me so angry sometimes."

"That's good," Karen says cheerily. "I would be more concerned if you never got upset with him. Mark needs someone to take him to task every now and again." She holds out the paper. "Did you want to read the paper?"

"I'm fine," Eduardo says after a second's pause. "Thank you."

Karen opens her paper again and continues reading, seemingly completely unaware of Eduardo's churning thoughts. Eduardo stares at the wall opposite him and stews in thought.

Leah wakes up from her nap about half an hour later. Eduardo hums to her to keep her from fussing and she watches him with wide, fascinated eyes. He holds out a finger for her to grab and smiles when she bats at it.

Randi and Mark come down together a few minutes later. Mark looks strangely pale, and the skin around his eyes looks slightly red and strained. Eduardo frowns, wondering if Mark is all right, but is distracted when Leah abruptly starts crying.

"Oh no," he says, horrified. He looks down at her face, now red and wrinkly and angry. "I swear she was fine a moment ago!"

"Don't worry about it," Randi says kindly, leaning down to relieve him of child-carrying. "She probably just needs to be changed."

Mark looks disgusted by this. Eduardo stifles a laugh and instead asks, "Everything all right?" as Randi carries Leah out of the room.

Mark stares at him for a moment as if he hadn't heard the question, then nods briefly. "Yeah."

There's a small pause of silence. Karen turns the page in her newspaper and it rustles loudly. Eduardo watches as Mark swallows visibly.

"I'm going for a walk," Mark announces, which is so out of character that Eduardo actually lets out a scoff before he can stop himself. "What?"

"Nothing, just – you're going for a walk? Really?"

"Yes, really," says Mark sharply. He shoves his hands deep into his hoodie pockets and stomps towards the door. Eduard starts to get up; then Karen reaches out and presses him back down into his seat. She gives him a look before returning to reading the newspaper.

Brent and Edward come back inside not long later and settle down to watch a football game. Eduardo, who has a passing knowledge of the sport, leans back and watches as they get really into the game. Karen leans over to Eduardo about halfway through the first quarter and asks, "Want to escape to the kitchen?"

In the kitchen, Randi is eating another slice of cake while Leah plays on the floor with the toy smart phone. She looks up guiltily when Karen and Eduardo enter the room.

"I really wanted another slice of cake," she says with a slightly defensive edge to her voice.

"I'm with you there," Karen says and holds out her hand for the cake knife. Eduardo watches in amusement as Karen eats another fairly large slice of cake.

"I'm beginning to see where Mark gets his sweet tooth from," he says with a smile.

"Mark doesn't have a sweet tooth," says Randi, frowning. "Unless you count Red Vines."

"And Red Bull," Karen points out. "Maybe he does have a sweet tooth."

"More than I do, anyway," Eduardo says. He leans against the kitchen counter and grins as Leah starts to crawl over his feet. "She's a very cute baby."

"Thank you," Randi says cheerily. "Thank goodness she takes after me and not her father."

Eduardo has to chuckle at the sly grin on Randi's face. She flashes him a quick smile before rewrapping the leftover cake and placing it in the refrigerator. "So," she says, dusting of her hands in a businesslike manner. "You and my brother."

Karen's cell phone rings and she glances at it before sighing and telling them, "Patient. I'm going to go outside just for a bit, you two play nice." She steps over Leah, who has started gnawing on the hem of Eduardo's pants, and heads out of the door.

Eduardo is left standing opposite of Randi, who has a very strange look on her face now. She cocks her head to the side and regards Eduardo sharply for a moment before saying, "Look, I know my brother is kind of an emotional idiot and he can be a dick, but he’s still my brother. If you break his heart, I swear I will destroy you."

Her voice is very flat and matter-of-fact, and the sheer flatness of the statement sends a shiver down Eduardo's spine. He has no doubt that she will follow through on her threat; she has that same determined nature as her brother.

"I won't," Eduardo tells her. He doesn't see how he even can, but he doesn't want to say as much either. He has the feeling that she wouldn't take that too well. "Or, I'll try not to."
 
Randi crosses her arms and regards him stoically. "I suppose that's the best I can ask for," she says eventually. "Pass me my daughter?"

Eduardo crouches down to lift Leah up. She squeals happily and kicks him in the chest. "Ouch," he says. "Is that any way to treat your uncle?"

"She likes to bite Mark, so count yourself lucky," says Randi as she takes Leah back. "I do like you, Eduardo. But Mark is my little brother and I have to look out for him. You have a younger sister, right?" Eduardo nods. "Then you know how it is."

"I understand," Eduardo says. "Thanks for being straightforward, at least."

Randi smiles, all teeth. "No problem," she says. "Now go watch some football."

Eduardo returns to the living room, where Brent is shouting recriminations at one of the teams. Eduardo sits down at the end of a couch and leans back, staring at the screen without really seeing it.

Mark returns about fifteen minutes later, looking steadier. He comes into the living room with a six-pack of beer, which he sets down on the floor. He looks down at Eduardo with a slightly defiant look on his face. Eduardo can't figure out what on earth Mark is trying to say; so instead he scoots over and pats the cushion next to him.

Mark settles down, his legs spread wide. He tilts his head to the side to look at Eduardo and asks in an undertone, "Who's playing?"

"No idea," admits Eduardo.

"Oh, come on!" yells Brent angrily at the screen.


Instead of eating at the house, they drive to an Italian restaurant. Leah seems content enough in the high chair the restaurant provides. She mashes some tomatoes cheerfully and eats little bits of sauce when Randi feeds spoonfuls to her.

Randi tells the waiter that they're celebrating Mark and Eduardo's anniversary, which results in the waiter cheerfully and unrepentantly bringing over a cannoli for Mark and Eduardo to split. Eduardo eyes it warily while Randi looks like she's trying very hard not to laugh.

Mark has no compunctions about just digging in; he stabs his fork into the shell and takes a huge bite, the filling getting all over his lips. Eduardo covers his face with his hands to hide his helpless laughter.

"What?" asks Mark crossly. Eduardo lowers his hands and sees that Mark has managed to wipe his face clean save for a spot at the corner of his mouth. He reaches out instinctively and wipes it away with his thumb. Mark goes very still, his eyes wide. There's a strange, tense moment where Eduardo becomes abruptly aware that they're at the center of the table's attention. Eduardo drops his hand quickly.

"How is it?" he asks, hoping to defuse the awkwardness.

"It's adequate." Mark gestures vaguely towards the cannoli. "It's for you, too."

Eduardo smiles and takes a bite for himself. Mark doesn't look away while Eduardo chews, his eyes dark and distant.

They return to the house so that Randi and Brent can pack Leah's gifts into the car. Randi dumps Leah in Mark's lap while she and Brent are busy, ordering Leah not to bite. Leah pulls herself up so that she's standing on Mark's thighs and clutches at the collar of his shirt. Mark steadies her with one hand, the terse line of his mouth softening.

"Marr," says Leah nonsensically and she grabs at Mark's curls. Mark gently disentangles her fingers, a slight smile playing around the corners of his mouth.

"Right," he tells her. "Mark. You've clearly inherited the Zuckerberg intelligence."

Eduardo feels a sudden, strange burst of fondness for Mark, and he has to excuse himself to help Randi and Brent, his stomach twisting nervously. He helps Brent get the last of the gifts into the trunk and Randi smiles at him gratefully.
 
"Thank you so much," says Randi. She gives him a warm hug. "It was good to see you again. And remember what I said." She raises her eyebrows in a vaguely menacing manner.

"I will," Eduardo says. He squeezes her hand briefly, then turns to shake Brent's hand. "It was good to meet you."

"Likewise," Brent says, smiling. "Let me know if you hear of any good investments."

Eduardo escapes upstairs while Randi and Brent bid farewell to the rest of the Zuckerberg clan. He sheds his clothes and folds them neatly into the suitcase before climbing into bed. He's shivering all over and he can't make himself stop.

"Shit," he whispers to himself, curling in on himself. His chest hurts and all he can think is how, when Mark had smiled so genuinely at Leah, Eduardo had thought, He should always smile like that. "Shit, shit, shit."

He hears the sound of the door opening and Eduardo freezes, his blood running cold. Mark pads inside and there's the soft rustle of fabric as Mark gets undressed. After a moment, the mattress dips slightly as Mark gets in on the other side. Eduardo looks over, squinting in the darkness, and sees that Mark is lying on his side, his back to Eduardo.

Eduardo lets out a breath and shivers again. He rubs a hand through his hair and then rolls over onto his back. It takes him a while to fall asleep; he only manages to drift off long after Mark's breathing has slowed down into a steady, even pace.


*****


Eduardo suddenly can't stop looking at Mark.

It's stupid, he tells himself. He has known Mark for almost a third of his life, and they've been sleeping together for three weeks. Eduardo hasn't thought twice about it past his initial reticence. He supposes that he finds Mark...attractive, but he hasn't given much thought to it before now.

That, he is realizing now, was a blessing. Now he isn't able to look away from Mark, watching the way Mark bites on his lower lip while he's typing or the way he licks his lips after taking a sip of water. He catalogues each one of Mark's fleeting smiles with furtive guiltiness and tries not to examine his thoughts too closely.

He spends most of Monday afternoon communicating with Hamid so that he has an excuse to be in a different room from Mark. It's probably a good thing, because even Hamid seems to pick up on Eduardo's distress.

"Are you all right, Mr. S – I mean, Eduardo? You sound kind of – strange." Hamid stutters a little over the last word, as if he's afraid it'll make Eduardo angry.

"I'm just – thinking," Eduardo says, and he has to sit down for a moment, because he suddenly feels slightly out of breath. He can't say, I'm having confusing feelings towards Mark, not when Hamid thinks they are a normal couple who married under normal circumstances.

Mark is also unusually subdued. He hardly says a word to Eduardo or to his parents, his expression shuttered and unreadable. Karen finally seems to give up on waiting and takes Eduardo aside in the kitchen, her expression worried.

"Did the two of you have an argument? You seemed fine last night," she says. "Mark seems upset."

"I don't know what happened," Eduardo admits honestly. "I'll talk to him," he adds when she starts to look unhappier.

He takes Mark aside after dinner and says, "Is there something wrong?"

"No," Mark says, trying to move away. Eduardo holds up a hand to stop him from leaving. Mark lets out a huffy sigh and glares up at Eduardo. "Wardo –”

"You're not fine," Eduardo says firmly. "Your mother is getting worried. What happened?"

"I –” Mark stops, his annoyed countenance melting into a slightly lost expression. "Just something Randi said last night."

Eduardo sighs and reaches up to curl his hand around the back of Mark's neck. He leans down to press their foreheads together and says, "Mark."

"Wardo," Mark says, sounding strained. Eduardo can't listen to the pained sound of Mark's voice, so he kisses Mark, gentle and slow. Mark is unresponsive for a moment, but Eduardo gently coaxes him into opening up to him. Mark sighs and lets Eduardo kiss him, his hands loosely tangling in the front of Eduardo's shirt.

"We shouldn't do this," Mark says when Eduardo pulls back, but he doesn't sound convinced.

"It's just sex," Eduardo tells him, echoing Mark's earlier words to him. Mark's mouth quirks up in a slightly and Eduardo smiles in return, glad to see a sign of better humor. "Mark, are you going to be all right?"

Mark gives Eduardo a look. "I'm always all right," he says matter-of-factly. He pulls away and says, "I have work to do," before striding away. Eduardo watches him go, sensing that something about that didn't go totally right.

Karen and Edward help Mark and Eduardo get their luggage into the rental on Tuesday. Karen gives both of them huge hugs and makes Mark promise to call her at least once a week. Edward embraces Mark, the Eduardo and says, "Come back soon."

"We'll try," Eduardo says when Mark doesn't say anything. "Goodbye."

"Have a safe flight!" Karen calls as they get into the car. Mark hits a radio button fiercely, his lips pursed together, and the car fills with loud music. Eduardo decides not to protest and instead he watches the scenery outside of the window as they drive back to the airport.


*****

It has been a while since Eduardo was last in Miami, but he still remembers the layout of the streets and the feel of the city. He feels instantly more relaxed the moment they arrive in the city, and Mark seems to feel it as well. The set of his shoulders loosens, and he actually listens when Eduardo points out landmarks.

"This is your house?" Mark asks, staring as they turn into the long driveway. "What does your dad do? Smuggling?"

"He does a lot of stuff," Eduardo says, parking. He sees the familiar figure of his mother standing on the porch, her arms crossed over her chest. "I'm going to say hello to my mom."

Mark waves his hand absently. Eduardo gets out of the car and walks up to the porch.

His mother uncrosses her arms and says, "Eduardo, querido."

"Olá, mamãe," says Eduardo, his voice breaking a little. Something in his chest loosens and he feels strangely lighter. He half-jogs the last few steps up to her. His mother smiles at him fondly and pulls him in for a tight, warm hug. She smells like the same shampoo she has used his whole life, and Eduardo suddenly feels like a teenager again, running to his mother for comfort after an argument with his father.

"You look so thin, Eduardo," his mother clucks when she releases him. "What have you been eating, air?"

"I've been eating," he says with a sigh. "You look beautiful, Mãe."

"Oh, hush." She squints over his shoulder. "Is that your husband? Tell him to stop with the bags, I will have Javi help him. Javi!" she calls suddenly, turning back towards the house. A tall man appears and she speaks to him in an undertone. Then he goes to Mark and effortlessly carries the suitcases into the house. Mark looks slightly nonplussed by this development, but moves to join Eduardo on the porch.

Eduardo watches in amusement as Mark rubs his hands on his jeans nervously before holding out his hand to Sandra.

"Hello, Mrs. Saverin," he says in a voice that quivers with the effort of sounding polite.

Sandra eyes his hand for a moment, then takes it in the world's briefest handshake. "Mark," she says, her voice cooling slightly. "Welcome."

Mark shoots Eduardo a confused look. Eduardo doesn't understand it himself; his mother had seemed excited to see Mark, and she had certainly liked him before the lawsuit. Sometimes, she truly mystifies him.

"Come, I have lunch for you," she says with a slight hint of imperiousness to her tone. She turns and leads the way inside, Mark and Eduardo trailing in her wake.

Mark's phone ring as they're passing through the sitting room. He looks at the display and then answers, "Randi?"

Sandra sniffs audibly and says to Eduardo in Portuguese, "He could at least excuse himself first."

"Mama, he's right here!" Eduardo replies, scandalized.

She shrugs. "He cannot understand me," she replies. "Come, I want to speak to you privately."

He follows her into the kitchen. Sandra lifts his left hand and inspects the gold ring on his fourth finger with a skeptical expression

"Hm," she says, switching back to English. "You need better rings, Eduardo. These are so cheap."

"We'll work on that," says Eduardo dryly.

"Don't you use your sarcasm on me," she says reprovingly. "He is a billionaire, he could buy a nice ring."

"Mãe," sighs Eduardo. "I thought you were looking forward to seeing Mark."

"Querido, if you think I am not going to make his life a little bad for what he did to you, then you are very wrong," Sandra says frankly. "He needs to know that you could do better."

"Mãe!" cries Eduardo.

"Don't you shout at me, I am right," says Sandra. "You care for him, Eduardo, so you may not see what I am saying –"

"Mãe, Mark has changed a lot," Eduardo interrupts. "He's – he's apologized."

"Of course he did. But did he court you properly?" asks Sandra nosily. "He should have gotten on his knees and begged for you to look his way again."

"Not exactly," hedges Eduardo, trying to imagine Mark ever being that humble.

"Hmph. If he truly loves you, he should have to woo you every day," Sandra says. "And if I have to make him work for my approval, then perhaps he will appreciate you more."

"You're an evil woman," Eduardo tells her. Sandra laughs delightedly and kisses his cheek.

"I want only the best for you." She looks up as Mark comes in a moment later, his expression blank. "Hello, Mark. Do you want lunch?"

"Yes. Please," Mark tacks on. Eduardo raises his eyebrows, suspecting that Mark had heard the latter part of their conversation. Mark slides a nervous look over to Eduardo, confirming Eduardo's suspicion, and Eduardo allows himself a small smile.

Mark spends the meal on his best behavior, mostly managing not to say anything inadvertently offensive. Sandra remains determinedly icy despite Mark's best efforts. After, he makes a feeble excuse about needing to work on some programming and escapes the dining room. Sandra smiles triumphantly and turns to Eduardo.

"You will help me with the dishes," she says, holding out her plate.

"Mãe," sighs Eduardo, taking it from her. "Let up on Mark a little."

"Querido, he ruined your life," tsks Sandra impatiently. "I am not going to forget. It was more than heartbreak. It was –" She pauses, looking thoughtful. "For years, you seemed to suffer from so much, so much – saudade." The word lands with heavily solemnity between them, and Eduardo flinches a little; he had never felt that he had been that miserable, but his mother seemed to think otherwise.

"He didn't ruin my life," contradicts Eduardo, though he's not sure if he can argue with anything else she said.

"I do not know what you call it," says Sandra dismissively, "but you were not happy." She gives him a shrewd look. "But you seem happier now."

Eduardo looks down and admits, "I am."

"Well, of course you are, you are married to him. You have always been in love with him and this time he loves you back," Sandra says, matter-of-fact.

"I have not always been in love with him," protests Eduardo, deciding to ignore the question of the present.

"Lies," says Sandra firmly, snapping a dish towel in emphasis. "I don't see why else you would have been so stupid when you were in school together. Only an idiot in love would have been so trusting."

"He was my best friend," Eduardo tries to protest. "That was it."

Sandra eyes him skeptically. "Of course. Go drag your husband from his computer, he should not be left alone with that thing for so long."

"I don't remember you being this bossy," Eduardo says, which is a complete lie. He goes to look for Mark, calling Mark's name. He eventually finds Mark in the original sitting room, hunched over his laptop and typing furiously.

"Flowers, those are supposed to be good gifts for women," Mark says the moment he notices Eduardo. "Do you know what kind of flowers your mother likes?"

"She likes dahlias, but Mark –" Eduardo reaches out to push gently at the back of Mark's laptop. "You don't have to get her anything."

"I want her to like me," Mark says plaintively. "I want –" He stops and looks away. "I thought flowers would be appropriate."

"If you really want to try to buy her some flowers, we can go look for some tomorrow," Eduardo tells him.

"Let's go now," Mark says, shutting his laptop. "Now, Eduardo," he repeats when Eduardo doesn't get up.

"Okay, okay," sighs Eduardo, getting to his feet. "There's no need to get so worked up."

"I want her to like me," Mark repeat, and he drags Eduardo out to the car.

It takes them a few tries to find a shop selling dahlias. They aren't commonly used in bouquets and the first two places don't have any idea where to find some. Eduardo parks outside the third while Mark goes inside. Eduardo follows him in a little later and hears Mark's annoyed voice before he sees him.

"Dahlias," Mark is saying to the slightly frazzled woman behind the counter. "Do you have any dahlias?"

"No, no dahlias," snaps the woman, scowling. "I told you, we don't carry specialty flowers."

"Christ," mutters Eduardo and he hurries to move Mark aside. "I'm sorry," he says to the clerk. "Do you know if there are any specialty flower shops in the area?"

The clerk purses her lips, then says, "There's a garden store three streets over. I don't know if they'll have dahlias, though."

"We'll give it a shot. Thank you," Eduardo says, and he propels Mark out of the shop. Mark lets out a huffy sigh, but doesn't fight against Eduardo's grip on his shoulders.

The garden shop is cool and dim inside, and it smells of damp earth. Eduardo looks down the rows and rows of greenery, oddly calmed by the serene stillness of the store.

A soft voice from Eduardo's right asks, "Can I help you?"

"I'm looking for dahlias," Mark says, looking past Eduardo to the elderly woman wearing an apron.

"Ah," she says with a wrinkled smile. "Right this way."

"I'll wait in the car," Eduardo tells Mark, who nods distractedly. Eduardo heads back outside to the rental. After a moment, he flicks on the radio to drown out his thoughts, and he leans back in his seat to wait for Mark.

After a while, Mark staggers back to the car with a huge pot of dahlias in his arms. Eduardo jumps out of the car and says, "Mark, this is ridiculous."

Mark glares at him over the tops of the flowers and says, "Could you open the door?"

Eduardo opens the door to the backseat so Mark can put the flowers down. "Mark, you really –"

"I know I don't have to do this," Mark says sharply. "I want to."

"All right," says Eduardo, raising his hands. "Anything else ridiculous you want to buy for my mother?"

"Isn't this enough?" asks Mark. Eduardo snorts and rubs a hand through his hair.

"Let's just go back," he says. "Before you end up turning my family's home into a greenhouse."

On the way back to the house, Mark asks, "What does saudade mean?"

"You heard that?" Eduardo asks, not entirely surprised. Mark shrugs but doesn't look away from Eduardo, his gaze keen and curious. Eduardo sighs and tries to think of how to define the word understandably. "It's, uh, a Portuguese concept, almost. It's – it's like nostalgia, but more, somehow. It's when you miss something that you truly loved once."

"Was she right?" asked Mark. "Did you – did you miss me?"

"Of course I missed you," says Eduardo, focusing on the road. "You were my best friend. I was so – so angry with you that I didn't at first, but sometimes. Sometimes I did."

Mark doesn't say anything for a long moment. Eduardo looks over and sees that Mark is staring out the window pensively. "Mark?"

"Yeah," Mark says, turning to look at Eduardo expressionlessly.

Eduardo opens his mouth to say something, but words fail him. He shakes his head and turns the car into the driveway of his parents' house.

"Mãe!" Eduardo calls when they enter the house. "Mãe, we have something for you!"

Sandra appears a moment later, smiling. "You brought me a gift?" she asks. She spots the dahlias and her eyes widen. "Dahlias!"

Mark thrusts out his arms and says, "Eduardo said you liked them."

"I do." Sandra takes the pot and smiles a little. "Thank you, Mark. It is a very thoughtful gesture. I will go put it out into the garden." She turns and heads for the back door, humming a little.

"I think that went well," Mark says after a moment.

"As well as it was going to, anyway," says Eduardo.

Sandra returns a few minutes later, dusting off her hands. "Javi is finding a good place for it," she says with a smile. "It is a very beautiful plant."

Eduardo nudges Mark, who reluctantly grins a little sheepishly. "Will you be nice now?" he asks his mother in Portuguese.

"It will take more than a plant to make me forgive him for what he did to you," Sandra says, "but I suppose you do love him." She tilts her head to the side and regards Mark for a moment. Mark looks between the two of them uncomprehendingly. "Let me have fun with him for just the rest of today, at least."

"Fine," Eduardo says. He claps Mark on the back comfortingly, switching into English to ask, "When are we going to have dinner?"

"As soon as your father is home, so not until after five," Sandra says, looking at her watch. "You should show Mark the house. He has never been here before. You must show him where the bedroom is."

She winks as she says this, which is so disconcerting that Eduardo is completely mute for a few seconds. Then he nods distractedly and says, "Right, right. Mark, I'll, uh. Show you the house."

"You mom just –" Mark says in an undertone as they hurry out of the kitchen.

"I know," Eduardo interrupts. "Please don't talk about it, I'd like to pretend that didn't just happen."

Mark snickers helplessly until Eduardo elbows him. "She must not dislike me that much."

Eduardo laughs despite himself. "All right, I guess I'll show you the bedroom."

They head upstairs and go to stand in the doorway of Eduardo's childhood bedroom. "It's very clean," Mark says after a moment.

"Yes," Eduardo agrees, looking at the spartan room. "Pretty sexy, right?"

"The most sexy," Mark says. "Are we done with the tour?"

"Yeah, I think so," Eduardo says, and he closes the door.


*****

They end up camping out in the living room with their laptops so that they can work. Sandra tsks disapprovingly, but doesn't say anything beyond a couple of muttered comments in Portuguese.

Around five-fifteen, Sandra pokes her head into the living room. "Eduardo, your father called to say he is almost home," she says. "It would be best if you put your computers away."

Eduardo straightens instinctively and smoothes his hair back. "Do I look all right?" he asks Mark anxiously.

"You look the same as always," Mark says blankly.

Eduardo sighs and closes his laptop. He straightens his shirt and nervously dusts off his pants. "Mark, put your laptop away. And straighten your shirt."

"Wardo –"

"Mark, please," Eduardo says, a little desperately. After a moment, Mark closes his laptop and zips up his hoodie a little more.

"Is that adequate?" he asks, a little petulantly.

"I guess it will have to do," Eduardo says after looking Mark over.

"Thank you for that assessment," Mark says.

Eduardo distantly hears the sound of the front door opening and his heartbeat ratchets up a notch. He wipes his sweating palms on his pants again and heads for the foyer.

Roberto Saverin walks in a moment later, clad in a three-piece gray suit and carrying a black leather briefcase. Eduardo abruptly feels underdressed in his dark pants and casual button-down. His mother shoots him a sympathetic look before moving forward to embrace her husband.

"Good afternoon, Roberto," she says, kissing his cheek.

Roberto kisses her cheek in turn and squeezes her arms affectionately. He turns his gaze to Eduardo and gives a small, stiff smile. "Eduardo." He holds out his hand

Eduardo shakes it, taking care to grip strongly. Roberto smiles approvingly. "Hello, Father," Eduardo says in a soft voice.

"It is good to see you are well," Roberto says. "And I see you have brought your – husband." He turns his gaze to Mark, whose chin is lifted confrontationally.

"Father, this is Mark," says Eduardo.

Mark tilts his head in the most perfunctory of nods. "Mr. Saverin."

Roberto eyes Mark for a moment before holding out his hand. "It's good to meet you."

Mark stares at the hand, then reaches out and takes it in possibly the lamest handshake Eduardo has ever seen. "Yes," he says.

"I must admit, I am very impressed with what you have done with that website project of yours," Roberto says. "Your innovation is impressive."

Eduardo bites the inside of his cheek painfully as Mark says, "Thank you," in a stiff, cold voice.

Roberto nods and says, "I will go change clothes and then we will discuss this more." He walks away down the hall, his back perfectly straight.

Sandra lets out a breath when Roberto is out of the room and turns to rub Eduardo's shoulder before she returns to the kitchen. Eduardo sighs and rubs his eyes; he hates how being around his father can reduce him to a complete wreck of nerves.

He's startled by the touch of Mark's hand on his back. He looks over at Mark and sees that Mark is just looking at him with that steady gaze.

Sandra does a good job of deflecting the conversation over dinner for the most part; but then she happens to say something about one of Eduardo's younger cousins and Roberto nods approvingly.

"She is the top of her class," he says proudly. "She always was naturally gifted. We thought she should do business, but she was more interested in medicine."

Eduardo feels his cheeks heat with embarrassment. He tightens his grip on his fork and breathes out slowly, trying not to be upset. He knows his father isn't trying to make a dig at Eduardo, but it still feels like the comment is directed at him.

"Eduardo always worked so hard in high school," Sandra says to Mark. "And you know, of course, he graduated magna cum laude at Harvard."

"I know," Mark says. "I was at graduation."

Eduardo starts in surprise. "I didn't know that," he says, looking at Mark.

Mark lifts his shoulders. "Chris asked Dustin and me to be there. I had nothing else to do."

"Does Eduardo get any new shares from this marriage?" asks Roberto suddenly. "Or did you sign one of those agreements?"

"A pre-nup?" asks Eduardo.

"Yes, one of those," Roberto says. "Did you sign one?"

"Those are only for divorce, dear," says Sandra, patting his arm.

"I want to know if Eduardo is protected," Roberto says sharply. "He does not always make the best choices when it comes to money."

Eduardo drops his fork and it clatters against his plate. "Father –"

"Mr. Saverin," Mark says, his voice slashing through the air like a whip. "There is no need for a pre-nup. In the event of a divorce, I won't fight. Eduardo doesn't deserve that."

There is a sudden, complete silence. Sandra looks approving; Roberto's expression is harder to read, but he almost seems – pleased.

"Does that satisfy your curiosity, Mr. Saverin?" asks Mark. "This marriage was not about financial gain. If for some reason I wanted more money, Eduardo would not be the first person on the list."

Eduardo has to duck his head to hide the smile creeping across his face. There's something incredibly satisfying about hearing Mark's sharp tongue lashing out again, especially at someone else.

After a minute, Roberto says, "Very well. I accept your reasoning."

Mark nods curtly and returns his attention to his food. Underneath the table, Eduardo kicks at Mark's foot gently. Mark looks sideways at Eduardo and Eduardo mouths, Thank you.

Sandra turns the conversation back towards less touchy topics and asks after Mark's family. Eduardo slowly relaxes enough to ask his father about work, which gives his father a chance to pontificate without interruption. Roberto doesn't ask anything else of Eduardo, which is a shameful relief.

After dinner, Roberto excuses himself upstairs and Sandra clears the dishes, ignoring Eduardo's attempts to help her out. Eduardo eventually gives up and goes to find Mark, who has disappeared into the depths of the house. Eduardo finds him, rather predictably, in the living room with his computer open on his lap.

Eduardo sits down next to Mark and waits for Mark to realize that he's there. Mark looks over, his face very serious. "Are you all right?" he asks Eduardo.

"I'm fine," Eduardo says determinedly. "Thank you, though."

Mark nods distractedly and sets his computer aside. "He still upsets you," Mark observes. "He doesn't seem happy you're married to me."

"He probably had hoped I'd carry on the family," Eduardo says, trying to be dismissive. "It's nothing to do with you."

Mark looks at Eduardo's face thoughtfully, then leans forward and kisses Eduardo very determinedly, his mouth warm and firm against Eduardo's. Eduardo sighs a little and pulls Mark closer until Mark is almost on top of him.

"I don't care if your dad likes me," Mark says when he pulls back. "He isn't worth my time."

"But my mother is?" asks Eduardo, attempting levity.

"She's the one whose opinion really matters to you," Mark says very seriously.

"What –" Eduardo starts to ask, frowning, but Mark cuts him off with another kiss, his fingers cool and unmoving against Eduardo's neck. Eduardo forgets what he'd wanted to ask and pulls Mark on top of him.


*****

"Did you have a nice night?" asks Sandra in a disturbingly knowing tone the next morning. Eduardo feels his cheeks heating in embarrassment as he pours himself a glass of orange juice.

"Mãe, don't be nosy," he says primly, capping the juice bottle and putting it back in the refrigerator.

"I want to know if he is pleasing you sexually, querido," says Sandra. Eduardo chokes and then starts coughing until his eyes water. Sandra rubs a soothing hand over his back.

"Mãe, I am not answering that," Eduardo says hoarsely once he's recovered himself. "I can't – don't make me tell you about that." They hadn't even had sex the night before, he thinks, grumpily, though admittedly it had taken some willpower on Eduardo's part to pry Mark off of him.

"Fine, do not tell me," Sandra says, flapping her hand. "What are you doing today?"

Eduardo takes a sip of orange juice and shrugs. "We haven't discussed it."

"You should go to the beach," Sandra says. "That boy of yours is like a ghost, he is so pale. Does he ever go outside?"

"Every so often," Eduardo says, leaning against couch. "Mãe, I wanted to see you."

"You have seen me and you will see me tonight," she says dismissively. "Go out. I have things to do today, and I better not see you with that computer."

Eduardo tries again to dissuade her. "Mãe, we don't have beach stuff with us."

"Querido," she says with a snort, "your husband is a billionaire. You cannot spend a few dollars on shorts? We have beach towels here, you know where they are. Take them and go." She gestures at him. "Get some sun, it will be good for him."

"All right," says Eduardo, not entirely optimistic of his chances of convincing Mark to go to the beach. "But we will be back tonight."

"If you were not, I would be very unhappy," she says serenely.

It takes a few minutes for Eduardo to convince Mark that bringing his laptop to the beach would be a bad idea and a further five minutes to convince him that they should go to the beach.

"Look," Eduardo finally says, exasperated, "you'll have your cell phone. If anything horrible happens, Dustin will call you and we'll drive back here so you can take care of it, all right?"

"Fine," says Mark, slightly grumpy, and he gets up. "Let me get a book."


*****

Mark spends most of the ride to the beach outlining the effects excess UV exposure has on the skin and the body in a very flat voice. "Being pale used to be a sign of wealth," he adds irritably as Eduardo finds a parking space not far from the shore. "Why being orange is so popular makes no logical sense."

"Don't try to understand fashion," Eduardo advises, opening the door. "It'll make you go crazy."

Mark mutters something to himself and climbs out, clutching a book to his chest. Eduardo grabs the duffel bag he had stuffed with the towels and some other random items – sunscreen, sunglasses, a change of clothes – and takes Mark's arm to lead him down to the sandy beach.

Eduardo spreads out the towels and then sheds his shirt. "I'm going for a swim," he tells Mark, who has settled himself cross-legged onto a towel. "You should probably put some sunscreen on."

"Right," Mark says vaguely, already deeply enthralled in his book.

Eduardo shakes his head in amusement and heads to the water. He wades in until the water is up to his hips and then dives forward into the cool depths. He starts swimming out towards the horizon, his muscle memory kicking in to recall the smooth strokes that he had learned as a child.

He swims until he starts to feel like he's gone a bit too far out and then he treads water for a moment, looking around him. The beach isn't too crowded as of yet; it isn't tourist season and it's still relatively early in the morning. Eduardo lets out a deep breath and propels himself onto his back so that he's floating on the water and staring up at the vast blue sky.

Eduardo drifts in thought for a while, thinking about Mark's sharp reply to Roberto the night before and how Mark didn't seem to care what Eduardo's father thought of him. Eduardo isn't used to that; all of his past dates had been desperate to impress him and nearly all had been unsuccessful. His father, Eduardo thinks wryly, is a difficult man to please.

He swims back to shore a little bit later and shakes himself off before heading back to his towel. Mark has, wonder of wonders, taken off his shirt and is lying on his stomach, buried in his book. Eduardo lies down on his own towel and gropes for his sunglasses so he doesn't get the glare in his eyes.

He dozes off for about half an hour, the salt water evaporating and leaving his skin feeling tight and strange. He finds his own book in the duffel bag and reads until his stomach starts to feel a bit empty.

"Mark," Eduardo says, shutting his book. "Lunch?"

"I want to finish this chapter," Mark says distractedly. Eduardo can see the hints of a sunburn at the tops of Mark's shoulders, but is distracted when Mark shifts, showing a flash of pale stomach.

"All right," he says belatedly. "I'll go find us sandwiches or something, I'll be back."

Mark nods vaguely, his eyes still glued on his book. Eduardo touches a gentle hand to Mark's shoulder as he gets up to leave and he tries not to be too pleased when Mark briefly leans into the touch.


*****

"I want to learn some phrases in Portuguese," Mark announces after he has finished inhaling his sandwich.

Eduardo, who is eating a little more sedately, raises his eyebrows in amusement. "Is this still to impress my mother?"

"Yeah," Mark says.

Eduardo swallows and grins. "All right." He sets his sandwich aside. "First of all, thank you."

Mark's face twists a little and then he nods. "Tell me."

"Obrigado," says Eduardo, enunciating as clearly as he can.

"Obrigado," Mark repeats. His r isn't quite right and he seems to realize this immediately. "Obrigado," he says again, rolling his r a little bit this time.

Eduardo watches Mark's lips as Mark repeats the word to himself a few more times. Mark unquestionably sounds like an American speaking Portuguese, but there's something oddly sexy about the way he forms the words, his mouth opening in an obscene o with every repetition.

Eduardo clears his throat and says, "What exactly did you want to be able to say to her?"

Mark shrugs. "Thank you would be a start."

"How about, 'This is delicious?'" suggests Eduardo. "Isto é delicioso."

Mark repeats that, then makes Eduardo repeat it a few times, his eyes focused on Eduardo's lips. Eduardo teaches Mark a few more phrases, which Mark picks up with irritating speed. Eduardo remembers Mark once saying that he'd said he could speak four languages other than English on his college applications, and since then he's apparently been working on learning Mandarin as well.

"Did you really speak four other languages?" Eduardo asks now, lying back on his towel.

"I can read and write Latin and Ancient Greek," Mark says. "I don't think speaking those languages would be very practical. But I could speak Hebrew at the time and I took French in high school."

"Can you still speak any?" asks Eduardo idly.

"Oui, mais je ne parle pas très bien," says Mark without missing a beat. Eduardo can tell that Mark's accent isn't the best, but he still sounds all right.

Eduardo rolls onto his side and props his head on his hand. Mark is bent over his book again, his lower lip caught between his teeth. "Sometimes," Eduardo says after a moment, "I can't believe you're a real person."

"What is that supposed to mean?" asks Mark with a frown.

"You're just – so you," Eduardo says, somewhat incoherently. "You pick up languages quickly and think it's no big deal, you come up with the world's most popular social networking site, you vacillate between kindness and just sheer apathy, you're the most brilliant person I've ever met – I don't understand, sometimes, why you ever bothered being friends with me."

"People are made up of contradictions," Mark says. "And I liked you."

Eduardo snorts. "You liked me?"

"Obviously," Mark says. "You didn't ask me stupid questions and you never seemed to get annoyed with me. I don't know why you talked to me."

Eduardo looks over at Mark and says what he hadn't been able to say before: "You looked like you needed someone to talk to."

Mark actually looks startled at that. Then he lets out a short laugh and says, "Of course. That's you. That's why I liked you. You were nothing like anyone else I knew."

He looks back at his book, essentially cutting off the conversation. Eduardo flops over onto his stomach and props his chin on his hands while he takes that in.

They return to the house for dinner. Roberto is preoccupied and leaves the table early, leaving Sandra to ask very unsubtle questions about their sex life until Eduardo's cheeks are burning and he's tired of having to kick Mark under the table. Mark doesn't seem to realize that Sandra's messing with them – or maybe he does, Eduardo thinks when Mark smirks at him, and he just wants to tease Eduardo.

"So I have made you the special dessert," Sandra announces towards the end of the meal. "I will go get it, you stay here." She vanishes into the kitchen, humming to herself.

Mark shifts a little and says, "I think I got sunburned. My back feels sore."

Eduardo leans back and sees that the back of Mark's neck is bright red. "Yeah, pretty sure you did," he agrees. "I'll ask my mom for some aloe, we'll take care of that tonight."

Mark huffs out a sigh. "This is why going to the beach was a bad idea," he says grumpily as Sandra comes back in, a cake in her hands. It's covered with chocolate and there's a neat pattern in white frosting on top.

"Pão de mel," she announces, setting it down on the table with a proud smile. "Happy anniversary."

"Obrigado, Mãe," Eduardo says, awed. "It looks amazing."

"Obrigado, Senhora Saverin," Mark says in very careful Portuguese. Sandra looks up in surprise, an involuntary smile on her face.

"De nada," she says, sounding pleased. "Let me cut you your pieces, boys." She looks over at Eduardo and asks in Portuguese, "Did you teach him to say that?"

"Yes," Eduardo admits. "He wanted to know."

"Hmm," Sandra says. She puts a slice of cake on a plate and slides it to Mark. "Here you go."

Mark tries a few more of the Portuguese phrases on Sandra, who seems to find the whole thing very entertaining. "Your accent, it needs work," she tells Mark sympathetically. "But your pronunciation isn't bad."

Mark says, "Obrigado," again, which makes Sandra laugh.

"Charming," she says.


*****

Eduardo finds a bottle of aloe in the bathroom next to his bedroom and he takes it in to Mark. "I've got some aloe," he tells Mark, who is waiting on the bed. "Take off your shirt, I'll get your back for you."

Mark strips off his shirt and drops it on the floor. He is rather sunburned and Eduardo can feel the heat emanating from Mark's back when he sits next to mark on the bed.

Eduardo squeezes the bottle of aloe, squirting a small dollop onto his hand. He says, "Come here," to Mark, who obligingly turns so that Eduardo can reach his back. Eduardo reaches out to spread the aloe across the burned skin. The moment his fingers touch Mark's overheated skin, Mark lets out a hiss and jerks away.

"Mark, this will help," Eduardo says, amused. "I know it hurts, but it will be a lot worse if I don't put this on."

"I know," Mark says and he moves back towards Eduardo. Eduardo touches Mark's back again and gently spreads the cool gel over Mark's back. Mark lets out a sigh and pushes into Eduardo's touch. "That feels good."

"Hmm," Eduardo agrees, dipping his hand down into the lower part of Mark's back. Mark shivers, and Eduardo sweeps his hand just above the waistband of Mark's shorts. "You should have put sunscreen on."

"I forgot," Mark says. Eduardo laughs and squeezes more aloe onto his hand. He covers the back of Mark's neck and the tops of his shoulders.

"Anywhere else burned?" he asks softly.

"I think some on my face," Mark says and he turns to look back at Eduardo. His nose is slightly pink, as are the tops of his cheeks. Eduardo spreads a thin layer of aloe over Mark's skin, his fingers shaking a little. Mark's breath brushes against the sensitive skin on the inside of his wrist and Eduardo feels it when Mark's breath hitches a little.

Mark's eyes close as Eduardo traces his fingers down Mark's cheek. For a moment, Eduardo hesitates, his fingers lingering at the corner of Mark's mouth. Then he gives into temptation and leans forward for a kiss.


*****

Mark is exceedingly grumpy in the morning from having to sleep on his stomach, but his sunburn doesn't look as bad. Eduardo spreads more aloe on Mark's after Mark gets out of the shower and Mark lets out a relieved sigh.

"Better?" asks Eduardo. He absently drops a kiss on the back of Mark's neck and Mark shivers.

"Yeah," he says, his voice rough. Eduardo lets out a breath of surprise and has to move away before he does something unwise like push Mark back into the pillows of the bed.

Sandra tsks when she hears about Mark's sunburn and says, "You are supposed to help him with things like that, or were you too distracted?" She smiles knowingly and Eduardo groans.

"Mãe, stop it," he says, feeling his cheeks heat with embarrassment.

"I will say that is a yes," she says decidedly. "Fine, you may go work."

"Thanks," Eduardo says and he heads into the living room, where Mark is hunched over his laptop. As he watches, Mark absently scratches his back and Eduardo says, "Don't scratch."

Mark looks up and lowers his hand with a scowl. "It itches."

"It'll peel if you scratch," Eduardo says. "You should be drinking water, have you had any water?"

Mark looks confused at that, so Eduardo goes to the kitchen and gets Mark a glass of water. His phone rings as he's walking back to the living room, and Eduardo puts it on speakerphone after seeing that it's Hamid.

"Hamid, hi," says Eduardo, setting the glass down on the coffee table. "What's going on?"

"I thought you should know that a woman named Lena dropped by? She said she wanted to talk to you, so I told her you were out of town, but I just realized that maybe I shouldn't have? Um, was that all right?" Hamid sounds really anxious and Eduardo has to laugh a little.

"Yes, that's fine." Mark has gone still next to Eduardo. Eduardo glances over at him and gestures him towards the glass of water. "Anything else?"

"Um, not really? I, um, you know..." Hamid trails off. "Am I on speakerphone? I sound like I'm on speakerphone."

"Don't worry, it's just Mark here," Eduardo says.

"Thanks," mutters Mark as he leans forward to grab the glass of water.

"Oh God," says Hamid. "Um, hi Mr. Zuckerberg. I, um, sorry to bother you. I'll just go now!"

The line goes dead and Eduardo chuckles to himself as he sets his phone aside. He glances over to see Mark finishing off the water, his lower lip shiny and slick.

"I'm going to get my laptop," Eduardo announces needlessly, getting to his feet. Mark nods distractedly and Eduardo escapes upstairs to grab his computer.


*****

It's a quiet day filled with work and Eduardo doesn't do anything more strenuous than looking at an app idea from a developer. The whole day feels oddly domestic, despite the presence of Eduardo's mother, and it would almost feel like an average day at Harvard if Dustin had been there, playing Halo and cursing at the television.

Roberto arrives home early, explaining, "It is Eduardo's last day home." Eduardo, who had hurriedly put his computer away upon hearing his father arrive home, sits forward on the edge of the couch cushions when Roberto comes into the living room.

"Hello, Father," Eduardo says, slightly nervous. Roberto seats himself in an armchair and observes Eduardo with a sharp eye.

"Eduardo," Roberto says. "Sandra says you worked today."

"Yes," Eduardo says eagerly. "I saw the first prototype of an app."

"Hmm," says Roberto, not sounding overly impressed. "You are the person who funds them?"

"Yes," Eduardo says, wilting a little. "I help them fund their early progress."

"That seems a very limited model," Roberto says critically.

"I also consult," Eduardo says, now feeling defensive. "Today, I happened to be working with developers."

Mark closes his laptop with a snap, startling Eduardo. "I need a soda. Wardo, could you show me where to get one?"

Eduardo freezes, abruptly feeling trapped between his father's sharp gaze and Mark's steady, even regard. After a moment, he says, "Sure, Mark. Come with me."

Eduardo leads Mark to the kitchen and finds a Pepsi towards the back of the refrigerator. "This all right?"

"I don't really want it," Mark says, setting it aside. He starts to scratch at his back again, then stops when Eduardo gives him a look. "I need more aloe."

"Fine," Eduardo says, secretly a little relieved to have a reason not to go back to his father, and he follows Mark back upstairs.
When they come back downstairs, Sandra announces that dinner is ready. Mark, who is shifting his shoulders uncomfortably underneath his shirt, sits on the edge of his seat so that his back isn't touching the chair. Eduardo sits down across from him and accepts the plate of food that his mother passes him.

It takes Roberto ten minutes to return to asking Eduardo about his job. "I am curious," he says to Eduardo. "Do you come up with any ideas of your own?"

Eduardo flinches, his blood running cold with nerves. "I, what?"

"You simply fund projects?" Roberto prompts. "You don't create anything of your own?"

"No," Eduardo admits after a long pause. "I don't."

"With money that you did not earn," says Roberto off-handedly. "You have done well for yourself."

Eduardo abruptly loses his appetite. He puts his fork down and takes a sip of water so he doesn't say anything that will make his father angry. He sets the glass back down and says, "I also invest and consult."

"Consult? With what experience?" Roberto points his fork towards Mark. "Eduardo, you could have been the CFO of a large innovative company if you had not made so many mistakes."

"Father, we've talked about this before," Eduardo says in a small voice.

"Roberto," says Sandra, shooting an anxious glance towards Eduardo, "now is maybe not the –"

"It is a good time," Roberto says firmly. "We have Mark here, we can ask him for his opinion."

Mark looks up, and for a moment Eduardo is vividly reminded of the blank expression Mark had worn during the depositions.

"My opinion," says Mark tonelessly.

"Yes," Roberto says. "Eduardo may be a good friend, but he has never made wise business decisions. I kept telling him that he must not let an opportunity slip through his fingers and he let Facebook fall out of his hands completely."

"Father –"

"Eduardo, I am talking," Roberto says sharply and Eduardo retreats, words drying up in his mouth. "He has too big a heart to be a real businessman. He has no real instincts."

Mark sets his fork down very pointedly. "I don't see how that claim has any merit."

"So you disagree?" asks Roberto. "Then why did you push him out of your company?"

The room goes very quiet. Underneath the table, Sandra reaches over to squeeze Eduardo's knee gently. Eduardo blinks hard a few times, swallowing hard.

"There were a myriad of reasons for that," Mark says eventually. "You are right that Eduardo has a big heart. But he has an eye for business. Every one of the apps he has funded has been accepted by Facebook and many of them are incredibly popular. He helps other people achieve their goals and I think that is an admirable thing."

"Where is the profit?" demands Roberto. "He has no legacy to leave. He would have done better to take the family business than to try to make it on his own."

"He has me," Mark snaps suddenly. "And Facebook will always be his legacy, regardless of what happened after his original funding. Without Eduardo's big heart, without his friendship, there would have been no great business, Mr. Saverin. Eduardo has done well for himself and he has done so independently of you."

Silence falls once again. Roberto is almost completely expressionless save for the slight downturn of his lips. Eduardo recognizes that expression as deep anger; it had always preceded some sort of punishment when he lived at home. Sandra squeezes Eduardo's knee again before withdrawing her hand.

Eduardo says, "Excuse me," and he pushes his chair back from the table. He walks quickly out of the room, trying to convince himself that he's not running away. He hurries up the stairs and locks himself in the bathroom, which had always been the one place in the house he had known he could be alone. He sinks to the floor and wraps his arms around his knees as though he's a child again.

Distantly, he hears the sound of footsteps and he sucks in a shuddery breath, prepared to pretend that he's fine. There's a knock at the door and Mark says, "Wardo, open up."

Eduardo gets to his feet and opens the door to let him in. Mark comes inside, looking very serious.

"He's wrong," Mark says without preamble. "He's wrong about you, Eduardo, I wouldn't put up with you if you weren't intelligent."

Eduardo chokes out a laugh, though it sounds a bit watery, and he says, "Thanks, Mark."

"Without you, there would be no Facebook," Mark says. "You don't receive enough credit for that. Especially from me. You deserve better."

Eduardo laughs a little and drops his head. Mark pushes his chin up with two fingers and looks Eduardo square in the eye. Eduardo swallows, every inch of him focused on those two small points of contact.

"Mark," he says hoarsely.

"I'm serious, Wardo," Mark says, his brows drawn together.

"I know you are," Eduardo says. "You always are."

"Not always," contradicts Mark, sounding slightly annoyed. "I'm trying to make a point."

"Point received," Eduardo tells him.

"Not yet it isn't," Mark says and he kisses Eduardo, soft and undemanding. Eduardo feels the tension leak out of him and he reaches out to pull Mark in close. Mark teases Eduardo's mouth open until they're kissing open-mouthed and sloppy, desperate. Mark pushes Eduardo up against the door and unzips Eduardo's trousers, moving his head to kiss the line of Eduardo's neck.

"Mark," Eduardo starts to protest even as he tilts his head to give Mark more access.

"You need this," Mark says firmly. "I want to do this."

"My parents are here," Eduardo tries again.

"It won't matter if you're quiet," Mark says and he presses his hand against the flaccid curve of Eduardo's cock. Eduardo sucks in a gasping breath, the blood in his body rushing downward. Mark ducks his head lower and tongues the hollow of Eduardo's throat.

"Mark," says Eduardo in a broken voice. "I – you can't –"

Mark looks up and raises his eyebrows. "Are you going to be quiet?"

"Mark," Eduardo whines as Mark runs his thumb lightly along the line of his cock. Mark laughs.

"That would be a no," he says. He steps away, letting a rush of cool air between them; then he drags Eduardo to stand in front of him.

"Mark, what are you –" Eduardo starts. Mark slaps his left hand over Eduardo's mouth, cutting him off and Eduardo sucks in a startled breath.

"You need to be quiet," Mark reminds him and he crowds in behind Eduardo, pressing kisses to the back of Eduardo's neck. Eduardo breathes in deeply as he feels the hard line of Mark's erection press into the back of his thigh.

Eduardo's hands feel completely useless, hanging at his sides, and he goes to press his palm to his cock to relieve some of the pressure. Mark pulls Eduardo's hand away and slides Eduardo's underwear and trousers down.

Out of the corner of his eye, Eduardo catches sight of their reflection in the bathroom mirror and he's struck by the desperate look in his own eyes. Mark's is stroking the skin of his lower stomach, just above his groin, and Eduardo can hardly think, can't even beg for Mark to just get on with it.

Then Mark mercifully wraps his hand around Eduardo's cock, stroking almost casually, and Eduardo is abruptly grateful that Mark is covering his mouth. He moans, the sound muffled by Mark's hand.

"You are a good person," Mark says in a soft voice, each word punctuated by a stroke of his hand, "and you deserve everything you want." At the last word, he thumbs over the head of Eduardo's cock and Eduardo comes, his legs trembling. Mark drops his hand from Eduardo's mouth and moves away to grab one of the washcloths.

Eduardo accepts it and cleans himself up with shaking hands. Mark watches him inscrutably, still obviously hard. Eduardo pulls his trousers back up, then falls to his knees and yanks Mark's shorts down.

"Wardo," Mark says, sounding surprised. "This wasn't – it wasn't about this."

"Shut up," Eduardo says, "I want to do this," and he blows Mark until Mark's legs are shaking and Mark's hands are clenching in Eduardo's hair.

Eduardo retreats to the bedroom not long after that and curls up with his book so he doesn't have to go downstairs and face his family. Mark joins him after a couple of minutes, his laptop in his arms. He sits close enough that Eduardo can line his back up against Mark's thigh, so Eduardo scoots closer until they're touching. Mark drops his hand onto Eduardo's shoulder for a moment, then resumes typing.

Eduardo falls asleep in the middle of a page and wakes later to Mark pulling his trousers off. He frowns groggily at Mark, who gestures for Eduardo to get under the covers. Eduardo pulls himself up and slides beneath the blankets while Mark gets in beside him. Eduardo instinctively turns towards Mark, watching as Mark settles into place. There's a strange, unfamiliar warmth in Eduardo's chest and he feels his mouth curve up in an uncontrollable smile as Mark fussily adjusts the sheets

"What?" asks Mark, looking over at Eduardo.

"I –" he starts, not knowing what to say. He settles on, "Thank you."

"Oh," Mark says. "You're welcome." He looks away and Eduardo thinks, very clearly, I love you.

"Shit," says Eduardo out loud, startled.

Mark looks over, confusion writ all over his face. "What now?"

"Nothing," Eduardo says after a beat. "Go to sleep, Mark."

As Mark's breath evens out, Eduardo touches the ring on his left hand and twists it around a bit, thinking. He doesn't come to any conclusions before sleep claims him again, dragging him into a deep and dreamless slumber.


*****

The world, miraculously, doesn't look any different in the light of Eduardo's revelation. The sun doesn't shine any brighter, there aren't any bluebirds singing, and no one looks at him any differently, not even Mark.

Eduardo and Mark leave for the airport after eating a quiet, subdued breakfast. Eduardo hugs his mother tightly, kissing her cheek fondly, and says, "Thank you, Mãe."

"Don't mind your father, querido," she says softly. "You know he just expects a lot from you."

"I know," Eduardo says, mouth twisting up in a bitter smile. "It's all right, Mãe."

"But your man, he did a good job," she says thoughtfully. "Perhaps I will forgive him."

Eduardo snorts and watches as Mark shakes Roberto's hand. Mark's mouth is moving, but he's speaking too quietly for Eduardo to hear. Roberto's mouth tightens unhappily and he gives a short nod before moving away. Sandra swoops in, engulfing Mark in a hug. Roberto comes over to Eduardo and holds out his hand. Eduardo takes it after only a moment of hesitation.

"Good luck, Eduardo," Roberto says stiffly. "I...apologize if I have upset you. You know that I want the best for you."

"I know, Father," Eduardo says. "I understand."

Roberto hesitates, then nods curtly and says, "Have a safe flight."

"Thank you, Father," Eduardo says. He steps back and moves closer to Mark.

He hears Mark say, "I appreciate your hospitality, Mrs. Saverin," and he only sounds slightly insincere.

"You can call me Sandra," she says, smiling, and Eduardo grins at the surprised expression on Mark's face.

"Did you hear that?" Mark asks once they're in the car. "She said I could call her Sandra."

"I heard," Eduardo replies, having to restrain a grin at the excited expression on Mark's face. "You did good, Mark."

Mark gives Eduardo one of his rare sincere smiles, and Eduardo's stomach flips over a little. He looks away and starts the car with shaking fingers.

The world might not have changed, but Eduardo can't look at Mark without feeling that strange sensation of warmth and pure happiness tempered with bone-chilling fear. He can't bring himself to say something and possibly completely destroy the tentative – relationship that he and Mark have been rebuilding. Mark has never been good with things like love and Eduardo knows that Mark wouldn't be able to lie, wouldn't tell Eduardo that he loved him if he didn't. Eduardo just – he can't.

He resolves to himself that he'll just take advantage of what opportunities he is given to be close to Mark. Mark will want to end the marriage as soon as is socially acceptable and then Eduardo can go back to Singapore and pretend that it never happened. He can go back to remembering Mark as a brief blip in his life, unimportant and unmemorable. For now, though, Eduardo is going to pretend that they are a real couple that is really in love.


*****

On Sunday, Lena calls. She starts by apologizing for calling while he was out of town and then asks him how the trip was.

"It was good," Eduardo says, wandering into the living room. "Thanks for asking. So what's going on? Hamid said you wanted to talk?"

"Yeah," and here her voice changes to a slightly nervous tone. "I have kind of a favor to ask. I know we haven't really known each other all that long."

Eduardo smiles, ducking his head. "That's really sweet, Lena. I like you too."

"Well, that's good, because it's a big favor and it's not even really for me," Lena says. "It's for my ex. Do you think we can meet for lunch?"

"I'm available whenever you are," Eduardo says. Mark scowls at him over the top of his laptop, making a shushing motion. Eduardo scoots away a little so that he doesn't bother Mark.

"Wednesday okay?" asks Lena.

"Yeah. See you then," says Eduardo

"Good news?" asks Mark in a frigid tone.

"Yeah, sort of." Eduardo smiles sheepishly. "Sorry to disturb you." He leans over and plants a kiss at the corner of Mark's mouth. "I'll go upstairs to work."

"You don't have to leave," Mark says after a moment.

"I thought I distract you," Eduardo teases. To his surprise, Mark goes completely tense. Eduardo reaches out to touch Mark's shoulder. Mark shies away. "Mark," says Eduardo, now slightly worried. "I was just joking."

"Yeah," Mark agrees after a moment. "Maybe you'd better go upstairs."

"Oh," says Eduardo, stung. "I'll just – go, then."

Mark nods and looks away. Eduardo hesitates for a moment, then gets up and goes upstairs, completely confused by Mark's behavior.

"How was your trip?" asks Hamid on Monday. "Was it good to see your family?"

Eduardo shrugs, not really knowing how to answer that. He settles on, "Some of it was good, some of it was bad."

After Eduardo and Hamid square away Hamid's duties for the day, Eduardo digs around in his desk until he finds the manila envelope with the divorce papers. He stares at them for a bit, but then his phone rings and he has to put them aside to talk to a client.

A little bit before lunch, Eduardo calls Mark and says, "You want to go out and eat?"

Mark says, "I'm really busy." He sounds a little strange, so Eduardo pushes.

"Come on, Mark," he wheedles. "You can swing by here and pick me up."

There's a pause on the other end. Then Mark says, "Fine. I'll see you in ten minutes."

Eduardo goes to the bathroom a few minutes later and straightens his shirt and hair before he realizes what he's doing. "You've lost it," he tells his reflection. It's Mark, he reminds himself as he returns to the main office.

Mark is waiting by Eduardo's desk, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. Hamid looks like he's trying to cower behind his laptop; he is failing spectacularly. Eduardo smiles at Mark and grabs his jacket off the back of his chair. Something catches his eye and he turns to squint at his desk. The manila envelope looks like it's been moved; but then, Eduardo had been shuffling papers around on his desk a lot.

"Have any places in mind?" Eduardo asks Mark, reaching out to wrap his arm around Mark's waist.

"This was your idea," Mark points out in a flat tone.

"Yes," says Eduardo patiently, "but you've lived here longer."

Mark just shrugs and is almost completely unresponsive during the entire nerve-wracking drive to University Avenue. They eventually settle on Japanese and Eduardo prods Mark into talking about his latest idea, which is mostly gibberish to Eduardo save for the math parts. But when they finish up eating, Mark clams up again, his mouth tight and tense.

When they get back to Eduardo's office, Eduardo hesitates on the doorstep before leaning down to kiss Mark, briefly. When he pulls back, Mark looks – sad. Eduardo frowns, now actually worried.

"Is something wrong, Mark?" he asks.

"No," Mark says. "I'm fine. See you at home." He backs away and gets into his car. Eduardo watches him drive out and tries to ignore the sinking feeling in his stomach.

Mark remains strangely distant at home as well. Eduardo tries a few times to coax Mark out, but Mark seems preoccupied and eventually Eduardo stops trying. But when Mark comes to bed later, Eduardo curls up into him and pretends to be asleep so that Mark doesn't try to move away.

On Tuesday, he once again faces the problem of the manila envelope. He contemplates it for a while, then opens it up and pulls out the papers. In slow, methodical movements, he shreds the divorce papers to bits and then puts the scraps back inside the envelope. He seals the envelope and throws it out with a sense of satisfaction.

Seeing the envelope sitting in the trash is strangely cathartic, and Eduardo goes back to work with a feeling of lightness in his chest that only dissipates when he fails once again to get Mark to say more than a few sentences to him.

"What's wrong with you?" he finally bursts out, interrupting Mark's concentration. "Why aren't you talking to me?"

Mark looks up, his mouth turned down unhappily. "Eduardo, I – I'm busy."

"You're always busy and I know you can't give me all your time, but it seems like something's bothering you." Eduardo drops to his knees next to the couch. "Mark. What's up?"

"It's nothing," Mark says again. "I'm fine." He resumes typing, his lips pursed. Eduardo doesn't believe him for one minute.

The worst part is that Eduardo can't really discuss it with anyone. He wishes he could talk to Chris or Dustin, but then they would ask questions. Hamid just wouldn't understand and Lena, who is really the only person Eduardo can reasonably call a friend, would probably get overly concerned and get Jamie to talk to Mark, which is definitely not what Eduardo wants.

So when he meets Lena for lunch on Wednesday, he doesn't mention any of that and instead asks her innocuous questions about work and her family. She doesn't get around to the point of the lunch meeting until the very end of the meal, and she abruptly gets very nervous, shifting in her seat.

"You said you wanted to ask me a favor," Eduardo prompts when it seems like she isn't going to start on her own. "We're friends. Ask away."

"Give me a minute," Lena says and she sips her water, looking worried. She sets the glass down and looks away from him. "Okay," she says eventually, fiddling with her fork. "I have a friend – well, my ex, actually, I told you that. Anyway, she's started this company and I really think she needs help, not that she'll ever say anything."

"All right," Eduardo says slowly, taking all of this in and not entirely sure where she's going with this. "Where do I come in?"
"I think I've convinced her that she needs a consultant and I told her to talk to you," Lena says. "I mean, I know that consulting isn't your main thing, and she won't be able to pay you very much, but you're smart and you're nice and I really think you could help her." She sounds slightly out of breath once she's finished and she takes a long sip of water.

Eduardo reaches out and lays a hand on her wrist. "Lena. Breathe."

Lena sighs and looks down. "I'm sorry, I just – I worry about her. She gets lost in her head a lot and I'm afraid people will take advantage of her."

Eduardo pulls his phone out and opens up a new note file. "What's her name?"

"Rachel O'Brien, O'Brien spelt with an ‘e'." Lena lets out a deep breath. "Does this mean you'll do it?"

"Of course I'll do it," Eduardo says, looking up in surprise. "You asked me for a favor, I said yes."

Lena looks at him for a long moment and then says, completely honestly, "You are the strangest person I know."

Eduardo shrugs. "If you think she deserves a chance, then I think she does. What exactly is her company doing?"

Lena outlines Rachel's business plan, which really does sound quite promising, and Eduardo promises to do his best to help her. Lena gives him a tight, affectionate hug before they part ways, still thanking him profusely. He waves her off and drives back to the office, feeling pleased that she trusted him enough to ask for his help.

Rachel O'Brien calls around four and she sounds just as vague as Lena had insinuated. She tells him she's available to meet on Friday and they pick a time. Eduardo hangs up and grins at Hamid.

"What?" asks Hamid warily.

"We've got a client who's going to be coming in on Friday," Eduardo says proudly.

"Oh no," says Hamid, eyes widening. "Do we need anything? We should offer them food, right? I can go buy –"

"Hamid," says Eduardo. "All you have to do is be here. I'll talk to her for a bit and then you can help me fix up the language on whatever it is we do for her."

"Oh. Okay." Hamid looks relieved. "That's great, Eduardo! We have a client! I mean, one that we can meet!"

"Yeah," Eduardo says, smiling a little. "Pretty exciting."

He relays the story to Mark that night with a grin on his face the whole time. Mark listens, nodding occasionally, and responds tonelessly, "That's great."

Eduardo frowns at him and says, "Mark, are you sure you're all right?"

"Yeah. I'm glad you and Lena are friends," Mark says and he gets up from his seat, padding over towards Eduardo with a purposeful look on his face. Eduardo looks up, confused, and then Mark pulls him into a hard, almost painful kiss.

Mark fucks him on the couch because neither of them have the patience to go upstairs. Mark digs lube and condoms out from the downstairs bathroom and opens Eduardo up with ruthless thoroughness, his eyes dark and focused as he watches Eduardo's face. Eduardo loses all coherence when Mark presses inside him, brokenly intermixing Portuguese with some street Spanish and English.

"Eu te amo," Eduardo gasps out when he comes, but Mark doesn't seem to hear, his head thrown back as his hips jerk and stutter. He tightens his grip on Eduardo's calves when he comes, his breathing loud and hitching.

Mark doesn't let Eduardo go after that; they shower together, which ends in Eduardo pushing Mark against the tiles to kiss him, the cooling water running into their open mouths. When they do, eventually, make it to the bed, Mark buries his face in Eduardo's side and doesn't move away.

As seems to be habit by now, Mark is gone by the time Eduardo wakes up. Eduardo drags himself to work, feeling limp and boneless and happy, and spends the day trying not to touch the place where Mark had left a small red bite mark.

Mark shadows Eduardo around the house when they're both home, never straying more than a foot and a half away from Eduardo, as if he's afraid that Eduardo is going to vanish in a puff of smoke. Eduardo indulges him and doesn't comment, just enjoying the fact that Mark is there again.

That night, Mark comes to bed early and lets Eduardo curl up around him. Eduardo kisses the top of Mark's head and feels Mark shake a little in response.


*****

Rachel O'Brien has long red hair that she wears in a plait down her back. She's wearing a yellow sundress and a white sweater and essentially looks nothing like any programmer Eduardo has met before. She wanders in about five minutes before the scheduled time, looking slightly lost. After she settles in, they spend an hour going over Rachel's financials, the structure of her business (her and two other programmers), and what she should be doing. By the end of it, Rachel is so pleased that she says she'll tell Lena to refer him other clients.

Eduardo takes it upon himself to call Lena. "She'll be fine," he tells her when she asks. "Really. She's smart and she has people to look after her."

"Yeah," agrees Lena. "I just – thank you, Eduardo. I really appreciate this."

"Lena, it was no trouble," Eduardo repeats. "Seriously. I like having clients. Which, Rachel said she'd tell you to refer other people to me."

"And you wouldn't mind? I know a lot of people who could use the help," Lena says.

"Lena, I like having work to do," Eduardo repeats. "If you know people, send them my way."

"All right," Lena says with a sigh. "All right, I will. Sorry I've been so – I just don't want to overstep. Mark was very clear about boundaries."

"Talk to you later, Lena," Eduardo says, shaking his head and choosing to disregard the latter part about her statement. He'll worry about that later.

"Talk to you later, Eduardo," she agrees and she hangs up.

Eduardo returns home feeling upbeat and optimistic. Mark arrives home a little while later and Eduardo starts making dinner, throwing together some of the ingredients they have in their refrigerator to make some pasta. Mark hovers around him, watching, so Eduardo gives him a smile.

"How was your day?" he asks. "Do anything cool?"

Mark shrugs and says, "I coded for eight hours, I don't know what it is you think I do all day."

"You're CEO, I assume you have other duties," Eduardo says.

"I avoid those as best I can," Mark says with a small, wry smile. Eduardo snorts and stirs the sauce a little more.

"I thought that it was what you wanted," he says idly. "Being the head, so no one could dismiss you. So you wouldn't be a joke."

"Yeah," Mark admits. "I just didn't realize how much bullshit would go along with it."

"Welcome to the business world," Eduardo says dryly. "If you had ever gone to any the business major seminars, you would know that it's just the way things are."

"It sucks," Mark says succinctly.

"Yeah," Eduardo agrees. He gestures vaguely at the cabinets. "Could you get some plates?"

Mark grabs two plates and holds them out. Eduardo places a serving of pasta on each, then gestures for Mark to take them to the table. He washes off his hands and grabs a couple of forks.

"What did you do today?" asks Mark, sounding a little strained. "You had a meeting."

"Yeah," Eduardo says, grinning. "With Lena's friend." He describes Rachel to Mark, who seems to lose interest as it goes on. Eduardo frowns and stabs at his pasta a little. "I think she'll be a good investment," he says eventually.

"Good," Mark says.

"So Lena says she has other clients for me," Eduardo says when Mark shows no sign of continuing. "I just don't know how much I can take on. Hamid is a great help, but he can't always work. I might need to hire another person or something."

Mark picks at his food and doesn't look up. Eduardo sighs and taps the table lightly. "Mark. I'm trying to ask for your opinion. What do you think? Should I hire another assistant?"

"Wardo, you don't have to pretend that my opinion matters," Mark says matter-of-factly. He looks up and his face is terrifyingly devoid of expression. "It obviously doesn't."

Eduardo stares at him in blank incomprehension. "Excuse me?"

"You and Lena seem to have everything figured out," Mark says coolly. "Why don't you ask her?"

"Because I'm asking you." Eduardo sits back in his seat and crosses his arms. "What's going on, Mark?"

"I understand that this marriage isn't what you wanted," Mark says, seemingly at random. "So if you'd like to – I know you didn't want this and you obviously want to meet other people. It isn't fair to you; you deserve to be happy. I don't want to hold you back."

"I am happy," Eduardo says slowly. "Mark, what?"

"Please," Mark snorts. "How could you be happy? I know you're not. You want out. So I'll sign the papers."

“Papers?” Eduardo asks, now completely thrown. "Mark, what are you talking about?"

“I saw them, Wardo, you don't have to worry about offending me,” Mark says.

"Mark, what are you talking about?" demands Eduardo.

"Ward, Chris told me he gave them to you," Mark says, his voice tight and tense. "He says you wanted out."

“The divorce papers?” Eduardo asks, understanding dawning on him. Mark nods and Eduardo lets out an exasperated sigh. “I told him that a month ago."

"And clearly things haven't changed. Wardo, I want to sign them."

Eduardo bites the inside of his cheek to keep from saying something stupid. Once he thinks he's recovered himself, he says, "I can't – I threw them out, Mark.”

Mark frowns. “You threw them out? Why would you do that?”

“You’re supposed to be a genius and you can’t figure out why your husband threw out his divorce papers?” Eduardo demands, suddenly furiously annoyed and hurt. “Clearly I’ve been overestimating your intelligence. You realize that Lena’s gay, right?”

“That doesn’t mean that you’re not interested in her,” Mark says.

“Mark, this is ridiculous,” Eduardo says. “I’m not interested in anyone else, you moron!”

“I don’t understand –” Mark begins, frowning.

“I love you, you idiot!” Eduardo bursts out, flinging his hands in the air. “God knows why, but somewhere between marrying you and sleeping with you, I fell in love with you and yeah, I’m probably stupid for falling for –”

Mark interrupts with, “You’re in love with me?”

“That’s what I’m saying, Mark,” Eduardo says, exasperated. “You said before that it's just sex, but nothing can ever be just anything between the two of us, and it means something to me, all right? I'm not you, I can't just separate myself from that. From you.”

“I said that because I thought it would make you happy,” Mark says. “It’s not – I mean, it’s, I never thought it was just anything. It's not just sex to me either.”

Eduardo freezes, his hand clenching around his fork. “Mark?”

“I, it’s.” Mark looks down. “You. I love you too. I thought it was obvious.”

Eduardo blinks in surprise as Mark's recent behavior suddenly becomes clear to him and says, slightly dazed, “Oh.” He breaks into a wide smile, feeling lighter and happier than he has in a long time. "Really?"

Mark looks, if possible, even more awkward than usual as he says, “Yeah,” and he hurriedly stuffs his mouth full of pasta.

“Are you still hungry?” Eduardo asks, gaze fixed on Mark’s mouth. Mark looks up and smirks.

“I can be,” he says. Eduardo stands up and offers Mark a hand. Mark comes easily, fitting his body against Eduardo’s as if he’s trying to climb inside him, and turns his face up for a kiss. Eduardo obliges him, rubbing his palms along the backs of Mark’s thighs. Mark wraps his arms around Eduardo’s neck, his fingers cold against the nape of Eduardo’s neck.

Eduardo walks Mark back to the counter, pushing him against it, and Mark lets himself be pushed up until he's mostly sitting on the counter. Eduardo grins up at Mark, who finally smiles back, showing his dimples.

"I can't believe you were going to sign the papers," Eduardo says. "You're an idiot."

"I thought it was what you wanted," Mark says defensively.

"Mark, god," Eduardo says, tracing a finger down the line of Mark's jaw. "I wouldn't – I would at least talk to you first."

"I appreciate that," Mark says, looking down at Eduardo.

Eduardo tugs Mark down to him for a kiss, because he can't not, and Mark goes loose and pliant, his mouth wet and desperate on Eduardo's. Mark fists his hands in the collar of Eduardo's shirt and pulls Eduardo close until Eduardo is standing between Mark's legs.

Eduardo has plans, though, so he tugs Mark back off the counter and turns him around. Mark half-twists around, frowning, and says, "Wardo, what are you doing?"

"Help me get your pants off," Eduardo says and he places a kiss just under Mark's ear.

Mark shudders and drops his hands to start unbuttoning his jeans. Eduardo works them down over Mark's hips, then he yanks Mark's underwear down.

"Wardo," Mark breathes as Eduardo exhales over Mark's ass. "You really don't –”

Eduardo spreads Mark's cheeks and licks him open, liking the way Mark groans and pushes back. Eduardo keeps him there, keeps him on edge while he teases him with his tongue and finger until Mark's breathing is ragged and he's saying, "Fuck, Wardo."

Eduardo drags Mark to the living room and digs the lube out from where they dropped it on Wednesday. Mark eyes it and then looks up at Eduardo. "Condom?"

"We're out," says Eduardo, pointing at the empty box. "Unless you want to wait while I go dig some out from upstairs –”

"No," Mark says quickly and Eduardo grins, satisfied. He gestures for Mark to move and Mark gets on his hands and knees, his breathing loud and desperate.

Eduardo's hands are shaking as he uncaps the bottle and spills lube over his fingers. Mark hisses when Eduardo pushes in the first finger, his body going tense. Eduardo kisses the base of Mark's spine until Mark relaxes and starts pushing back.

"God, you're gorgeous," Eduardo breathes. "Do you know that?"

"You have – uh – actually seen me, right?" Mark asks.

"Just because you don't think you're attractive doesn't mean I don't," Eduardo says and he slides another finger inside Mark.

When Mark is moaning and pushing back desperately, Eduardo turns him over and says, "Mark, look at me."

Mark opens his eyes and meets Eduardo's gaze. "What?"

"I just want to see you," Eduardo says and he pushes inside slowly. Mark gasps and arches up.

Mark's hand flails out and he grabs onto one of the couch cushions, his knuckles going white. Eduardo grins and thrusts into Mark. His knees hurt from kneeling on the hardwood floor, but it's worth seeing Mark spread out and desperate, his cheeks flushed in arousal.

Mark is gasping now, loud and noisy, and Eduardo reaches down between them to curl a hand around Mark's leaking cock. Mark says, "God, Wardo, please," and Eduardo smiles.

"Since you asked so nicely," Eduardo says, and he strokes Mark cock until Mark loses it, his eyes squeezing shut as he comes all over his own stomach.

Eduardo can't hold it together at that; he can feel that he's about to come, so he starts to pull out. Mark's eyes fly open and he flails out, grabbing a hold of the shirt that Eduardo never did manage to get off.

"No, no," he says, his voice sounding hoarse. "Don't – I want you to –” He gestures vaguely and Eduardo's eyes go wide.

"Shit," he says and he pulls Mark up so he can kiss him while he comes, hard. Mark kisses him back just as eagerly, his hands roaming all over Eduardo's skin as though he can't help himself.

"Mark, god," says Eduardo when he pulls back. "What are we going to do?"

"What do you mean?" asks Mark.

"Chris – he's expecting, I don't know, he thinks this is going to end at the end of the year. What are we going to do?" Mark doesn't answer and Eduardo strokes a hand down Mark's neck, thinking.

“What if we stayed married?” asks Eduardo slowly. “We don’t have to get divorced at the end of a year. There’s nothing to say we have to.”

"You mean," Mark says slowly, "that – you're okay with this? You're okay with everything?"

"Unless there's something I should know," Eduardo says, jokingly.

Mark looks at him unblinkingly and says, "Okay. Okay, we'll stay married."

Eduardo grins and pulls Mark in for another kiss.

They do, eventually make it upstairs. Mark takes a shower and then sits in bed with his laptop. Eduardo catches Mark sneaking looks over at him every couple of minutes and he smirks, pleased.

"Did you want something?" asks Eduardo the fourth time it happens. Mark looks away, his mouth slightly pursed.

"Why?" he asks.

"Why what?" Eduardo turns over onto his side and looks up at Mark.

"Why are you in love with me?"

Eduardo takes a moment to turn that over in his mind. "Because you're brilliant. And you're funny, even when you're not trying to be, and you can be sweet sometimes. You – you don't care what my father thinks, but you buy my mom flowers because you want her to like you."

"Are those real reasons?" asks Mark.

"What, why are you in love with me?" asks Eduardo, rolling his eyes.

"Because you're you," says Mark simply, as if that's the only answer. And maybe for him, it really is that simple.

"You asked me for a reason," says Eduardo. He presses his face into Mark's arm and kisses the skin on the inside of Mark's elbow. "That's what I came up with."

"All right," says Mark after a moment. He closes his laptop and puts it aside. "Those reasons are acceptable."

"Acceptable," Eduardo snorts and he pulls Mark down for a kiss.


*****

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: dude

what did you do to Marky Mark?? he won't stop smiling and he's freaking out all the interns

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: you are a busybody

We had a nice weekend, is all.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: Remember who I am

Eduardo, is there something you need to tell me? Because if there is, you need to email me right away.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: I remember who you are

I threw out the papers.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: !!!!!!!!

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS FINALLY REALIZED THE BLATANTLY OBVIOUS FACT STARING YOU IN THE FACE FOR YEARS AND YEARS

CRYING TEARS OF JOY

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: Dustin

I'm sorry about that, he read over my shoulder and I wasn't fast enough to stop him.

But he's right, this is great! I'm really happy for you guys! Frankly, it's about time.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com), Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Thanks

We appreciate your support, guys.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: wardooooo

give me all the dirty details!! actually dont because there are somethigns I don't want to know about Mark.

 

To: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: really?

Dustin, come on.


*****

It feels like Eduardo can't stop smiling. Even Hamid comments on it, saying that, "You're smiling a lot – did something happen?"

"I had a good weekend," Eduardo says and he bends over his keyboard to avoid meeting Hamid's eyes. He's glad when he hears that Mark is the same way; he wants to know that Mark is as happy about this as he is.

At the end of each day, he goes home and curls up next to Mark after they eat and spend some time together, and Mark usually works while Eduardo drifts in and out of sleep. He's never had Mark's insomnia and he needs his eight hours.

Eduardo lifts up Mark's left hand while they're lying together in bed and looks at the ring with a thoughtful eye. "My mother thinks our rings are cheap."

"Does it matter?" asks Mark. "A ring is a ring."

"Not to her." Eduardo lifts Mark's hand to his lips and presses a gentle kiss to Mark's knuckles. "I don't care, though."

"I guess that's fortunate," says Mark. He smiles down at Eduardo, his expression soft.

"You're lucky to have me," Eduardo tells him, and he kisses up Mark's arm while Mark shakes and shivers.

Eduardo calls his mother a few days later to check in and she says, "Querido, you sound very happy."

"I am," he tells her, looking over at where Mark is typing on his computer. "It's kind of strange."

"It seemed like things were odd when you and Mark were here, but I guess he was nervous." She sounds amused. "He definitely seemed nervous."

"He was," Eduardo assured her. "He wanted to impress you."

"That is true love, there," she says. "Mother-in-laws are the ones that are the most trouble, always."

Eduardo laughs, meaning to say something about how she had enjoyed causing trouble, but then Mark looks up and smiles at him and Eduardo completely loses his train of thought.

Later, Eduardo has Mark pinned up against the wall of their room, his hands underneath Mark's hoodie and Mark's head tilted back against the wall. Mark is smiling more than he usually does, his dimples in full force. Eduardo kisses both of them and then takes Mark to the bed.

Afterward, when they're lying together with Eduardo's head pillowed on Mark's chest, Eduardo says vaguely, "I wish I could remember the night we were married. I bet we had fantastic sex."

"We didn't have sex that night," Mark says in an absent tone.

Eduardo freezes, his blood running cold, and says, "What?"

"We didn't have sex," Mark repeats.

"We didn't have sex?" Eduardo pulls himself upright and looks down at Mark. "How do you know that? Do you remember the night we got married?"

Mark seems to realize his mistake and he goes ghostly white, his eyes widening. "Wardo – it's not like that."

"Mark, tell me the truth. If you dare lie to me –”

"Yes," Mark says, biting his lip.

"Yes?"

"Yes, I remember everything. I've remembered almost the whole time." Mark looks imploringly at Eduardo. "Wardo, this wasn't – I wasn't trying to –”

"Mark, what the hell was this about?" demands Eduardo, scooting back. His stomach roils with nausea and he can't quite breathe. His chest feels tight and constricted. "Was this all some kind of – are you fucking with me?"

"No, Wardo, I love you," says Mark desperately, sitting up. "This was –”

"So, what, you tricked me into marrying you?" Eduardo scrambles out of the bed. "Mark, you've been lying to me for two months and now it turns out that you – that this was your idea?"

"Wardo, I thought – I thought it was okay now," says Mark. He reaches for Eduardo and Eduardo moves out of reach. "Wardo."

"So everything about this has been a sham?" asks Eduardo. He starts collecting his clothes off the floor, furious and hardly able to see straight. "You've just been lying to me every step of the way."

"That was the only thing, Wardo, I promise," says Mark. He climbs out of bed. He looks like he would be wringing his hands if he were anyone else, but Eduardo can't feel sorry for him. He looks away from Mark so that he doesn't get suckered into anything.

"Mark, I threw away my life because of this," Eduardo says coldly. "I moved, I found a new life, I did all of this because I thought we were on equal footing. And it turns out that you could have stopped that? Why didn't you say anything?"

"Wardo, please," says Mark, "calm down. Listen to me –”

"Were you ever planning on telling me the truth?" asks Eduardo. "Or were you just hoping I'd somehow never find out?"

"No, I knew I – Randi told me I would have to, but Wardo, I was –” Mark looks lost. "Don't – don't –”

"Don't what, Mark?" Eduardo puts his hands on his hips, glaring. "Mark, you made me fall in love with you and now I find out that it was all thanks to your lie." He rubs a hand over his face and says, "I have to get out of here."

He opens the closet and yanks out some clothes before going to collect his laptop and briefcase. By the time he makes it downstairs, Mark has dragged on a pair of shorts and a hoodie and is waiting for him by the door. Mark grabs his arm, his fingers tight on Eduardo's bicep.

"Wardo, you can't – don't do this," says Mark, tripping over his words. "I can't – I don't want to lose you again, Wardo."

"Mark, don't ask me to stay," says Eduardo, looking firmly away from Mark's face. His face feels hot and there’s a horrible prickling at the back of his eyes. "I can't do that, not right now. I can't – I need to think."

"Please don't leave," Mark says his voice cracking a little. Eduardo looks over at Mark and sucks in a quick breath; Mark looks wrecked, his face white and panicked, the skin around his eyes red and raw. "Wardo, I need you here, please."

"Mark," Eduardo says, his heart breaking even as he says it, "I can't do that. I can't be here with you." He yanks his arm out of Mark's grasp and opens the door. He can't stop himself from looking back and he sees Mark standing in the doorway, looking terrified and very, very lonely.

Eduardo looks away before he can lose his nerve and he gets into his car. He peels out of the driveway and is halfway down the block before he realizes he doesn't know a place he can stay. Dustin and Chris will ask too many questions and no one else will understand what's going on. He doesn’t want to deal with that.

So Eduardo heads for his office. He sets his belongings down on the floor next to the desk and then slowly works the wedding ring off his finger. He looks at it for a moment before setting down on the desk with a small clink. He takes off his shoes and curls up on the sofa. He feels very alone; the room is completely silent, no breathing or clacking of keys as background noise.

Eduardo wishes Mark hadn't slipped up; he could have been happy going on in blissful ignorance of the fact that Mark apparently planned the whole thing through. He could have been happy. But he should have known better; after all, it's Mark.

He closes his eyes and tries not to think about how broken Mark had looked when Eduardo was walking out the door. It's not productive to anything. Eduardo lets out a long, deep sigh, and drifts off into a light, anxious sleep.


*****

When Eduardo wakes up, it takes him a moment to remember where he is. The moment he does, his stomach twists in nausea and he sits up, clutching at his head. Someone is knocking at the door. Eduardo gets up and opens the door to find Hamid standing there.

"Oh," Eduardo says. "Hi."

"Eduardo?" Hamid asks, looking at Eduardo with a concerned gaze. "You look awful." He peers into the room. "Did you sleep here?"

"Yes, don't ask." Eduardo waves Hamid inside. "I have to –”

"You're not wearing your ring," says Hamid, suddenly sounding worried. "Oh my God, are you all right? Did you have a fight with Mr. Zuckerberg? What did he do?"

"Hamid, please, we're not talking about this," Eduardo says, more sharply than he intends. Hamid shrinks back a little and Eduardo sighs. "I'm sorry, I – I just really don't want to talk about it."

He can't focus on his work; he keeps thinking about the broken look on Mark's face and he gets distracted by the strip of lighter skin where his ring had been. He looks at the ring again and sighs. He picks it up and turns it between his fingers.

Dustin shows up at the office around five and says, "Wardo, get in my car." He looks distinctly unhappy, his expressive mouth turned down in a frown.

"What?" asks Eduardo, looking up. "Dustin?"

"I figured you'd be staying here." Dustin looks at Eduardo. "Look, I don't know what Mark did, but it must have been – it looked like it was bad. Mark hasn't left his desk once today. I don't want to take sides, but I don't want you sleeping in your office, either, so you're coming back to my place."

"Dustin –" Eduardo starts, though he's not sure what he's going to even say.

"Eduardo, seriously. Please just come home with me." Dustin reaches down and grabs Eduardo's briefcase. "You need to shower sometime."

Eduardo sighs and gives in; he doesn’t want to live off his office sofa. "Fine. I'll come back with you."

"Great," Dustin says. He waits for Eduardo to get himself together, still looking unhappy. As they're walking out to the car, Dustin says, "I was really hoping I'd never have to choose between you and Mark again."

"I don't want to make you choose," Eduardo says guiltily. "Dustin, I can find a hotel or something –”

"Dude, don't make me repeat Chris's meltdown to you," says Dustin. "You should have heard him. He yelled at Mark for like ten minutes."

"Is Mark all right?" Eduardo asks before he can stop himself.

"He stopped listening around the two minute mark, so I think he's fine." Dustin looks at Eduardo. "Honestly, what could he have done that was so bad?"

"Dustin, I don't want to talk about it." Eduardo rubs his face. "I need to think about it some more."

"Well, don't think too long. Mark is going crazy." Dustin starts the car and pulls out. "We'll come back for your car later, okay? Right now, you really need a shower."

Eduardo feels a crazy stab of guilt and he fights against it furiously. He is not going to feel sorry for Mark. He leans against the window and sighs.

Dustin's house is more like what Eduardo imagined Mark's would be like. It has a swimming pool and a home theater and a kitchen that looks like it's never been used. Eduardo sets himself up in the guest room and goes to take a shower while Dustin calls in for food.

Eduardo and Dustin eat dinner in silence before driving back to Eduardo's office so Eduardo can claim his car. "Are you going to get any more of your stuff?"

"I can't go back," Eduardo says, shaking his head. "Not – not right now."

"Fine," Dustin says, "but you're watching Fringe with me tonight."

So Eduardo ends up listening while Dustin outlines the plot of the show to him. He curls up on the couch and tries not to miss Mark's acerbic comments and the sound of clacking keys.

"Eduardo," Dustin says, shaking him awake a few minutes later. "I can't believe you fell asleep."

"I didn't exactly sleep well last night," Eduardo says dryly.

"Don't try to make me feel sorry for you," Dustin says warningly. "Mark is going to make my life miserable and while I'm sure he deserves to be yelled at for a little, he – dude, he loves you."

"Dustin, it isn't that simple," snaps Eduardo. "I really just – I can't deal with what he did right now."

"You're going to have to tell me eventually," says Dustin matter-of-factly. "So you can tell me now or you can tell me later."

Eduardo purses his lips and looks at Dustin. "You really want to know?"

"Yes," says Dustin.

"He wasn't drunk, Dustin," Eduardo says. "When we got married. He wasn't drunk, Dustin, he remembers everything."

Dustin freezes. "Oh," he says in a small voice. "I – okay, I guess I get why you're so upset. But – Wardo, did you ask him about it?"

"Dustin, what is there to know? He's been lying to me for two months." Eduardo lets out a breath. "No matter his original motivations, he still lied to me, Dustin."

"Okay, okay," Dustin says, rubbing his face. "Just, you know. I'm sure he had his reasons."

"He always does," Eduardo says darkly. "That doesn't mean it's right."

“Yeah,” Dustin says. “I know.” He looks at Eduardo for a long moment, then leans over and gives him a hug. “You can stay here as long as you need.”

“Thanks, Dustin,” Eduardo says, and he goes upstairs to stew. Mark has always kept information from him, as if he thought Eduardo was stupid or simply not worth the effort. Eduardo had thought – had hoped – that they had gotten past it. He had trusted Mark.

“Fuck,” Eduardo mutters, punching his pillow. “Dammit, Mark.” He sighs and collapses onto his back. He stares up at the ceiling and tries to clear his head, but he keeps spinning between the contracts he had stupidly signed and increasingly feverish imaginings of how Mark might have coaxed Eduardo into getting married.

Eduardo had spent five years getting to the point where he wouldn’t have to think about Mark anymore. He had been content pretending that Mark didn’t exist. Maybe he hadn’t been happy – and certainly he had been angry and sad for the first couple of years – but he could have been fine. Now, though – now he knows the full extent of what he has lost.


*****

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: Do the two of you do this on purpose?

Eduardo –

I was hoping that the two of you would be over your drama, but clearly college isn't as far behind us as I hoped. He won’t tell me what he did; is it something I need to know?

If you are planning on staying separated, I will have to make some sort of statement. In the meantime, please think about how this will look, for you and for Mark. I know that isn’t your first priority right now, but let me know what your plans are as soon as you have decided.

On a less business note, please don’t make me choose between you and Mark again. I hated doing it, Eduardo. Both of you are my friends. Call me if you need to talk.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: I don't mean to

Chris, I'm really sorry about all of this. I just need some time before I make any decisions.

 

To: Eduardo Saveirn (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)

Re: Your things

Mr. Saverin,

Mark has said that he will be working from home this morning so that you can get your things from the house. He says that you'll be needing more clothes. Also you left some paperwork in the office.

I know this isn't remotely my business, but you should know that Mark is losing it. I haven't seen him this upset in years. Are you all right? Do I need to send Lena over with some cookies or something?

Jamie

 

To: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Your things

I’m fine, but thank you. I’m sending my assistant Hamid over for my things.

 

To: Hamid Nafisi (hon332@stanford.edu)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Your duties today

Hi Hamid,

Today, could you please stop by my house and collect some of my clothes as well as my paperwork from the office? Mark is home, he'll be able to let you in.

Thanks,
Eduardo

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Hamid Nafisi (hon332@stanford.edu)

Re: duties today

Eduardo, please don't make me go to talk with Mr. Zuckerberg.

 

To: Hamid Nafisi (hon332@stanford.edu)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Please

I'll give you a bonus. Please, Hamid, I really need you to do this for me.

 

To: Hamid Nafisi (hon332@stanford.edu)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Fine

You're going to need to me send some directions. Where do you want me to drop your stuff? Text me.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Randi Zuckerberg (randiberg@gmail.com)

Re: My brother

Eduardo–

I understand that Mark has finally confessed to you and while I sympathize with your anger, I have to tell you that Mark meant no harm. It's not my place to tell you what I know, but please give him a chance to explain himself.

Randi


*****

Hamid drops Eduardo's things off at Dustin's house. He looks slightly shell-shocked, his eyes wide and terrified. "Um, hi. Here." He thrusts out a box. "Here are your things."

"Thank you so much, Hamid," Eduardo says, accepting the box from him. "I really appreciate this."

"He asked me how you're doing," Hamid says.

"Okay," Eduardo says dismissively.

"Five times," adds Hamid. "He didn't seem satisfied by my answers."

"Thank you, Hamid," Eduardo says again. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Hamid nods shortly and leaves. Eduardo carries the box upstairs and unpacks. He folds his clothes into the dresser and pulls out a small pile of papers, which he sets aside to look at later. He has left a lot of stuff lying around the house and he'll have to sort through them to figure out what to keep.

Dustin comes home a little after seven looking frazzled. "God," he groans as he grabs a beer out of the refrigerator. "Why does my life suck so much?"

"I'm sure you've brought most of it on yourself," Eduardo says absently.

Dustin throws him a glare and says, "Dude, you've been here for four days. Have you figured out what you’re going to do yet? I mean, you’re welcome here, but you will have to make a decision at some point."

Eduardo sighs. He hasn't gotten any further in deciding what to do; every time he thinks about Mark, he gets angry and can't make a rational decision. He wants to know what Mark was thinking – but at the same time, he's afraid at what he might hear. He can't take hearing that Mark wanted to mess with him or that it was all supposed to be a joke.

He keeps thinking about Mark at odd times – when he spots a Honda on the road, or when he's looking for food to eat in Dustin's refrigerator – and every time, he can't help missing Mark, just a bit. It’s infuriating.

"How do I know it was real?" he asks Dustin over dinner, poking disinterestedly at the Thai take-out leftovers.

"Why are you angsting so much about this?" asks Dustin. "Look, maybe you guys got married in a...less than desirable manner, but you love him, right?"

"Yes," Eduardo says after a pause. “Which is ridiculous. What the hell is wrong with me? I am furious with him but – I miss him.” He drops his fork and groans. “Fuck.”

“You’ve always been a little too – you always forgave Mark’s faults more than anyone else would,” Dustin says diplomatically. “I know that you’re angry and you’re  right  to be angry, Wardo, but you haven’t even  spoken  to him. Do you know how much simpler things would have been if you idiots had just listened to each other at Harvard?”

Eduardo pictures trying to talk to Mark and feels a little sick. "Dustin, I can’t do it right now." Eduardo gets up from the kitchen table. "I'm going to go sort through some of my things upstairs."

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." Dustin flaps his hand absently at Eduardo. "I'm going to pass out on the sofa probably."

Eduardo heads upstairs to the guest room. He sits on the guest bed and spreads out the papers over the comforter. After glancing through quickly, he realizes that Hamid accidentally snagged some of Mark's stuff as well. He shoves those to the side and sorts through his paperwork. Most of it are from the job applications, so he sets those aside for filing, but he finds a few letters he had forgotten to reply to. He puts them in a pile to take to work with him in the morning.

At the bottom of the pile is a folder that Eduardo doesn't recognize. He opens it up, just to check that none of the papers inside are his, and freezes.

Sitting in the folder is a copy of Mark's will. It takes Eduardo a moment to realize what he's looking at, but then he spots his name – not once, but several times. He sucks in a deep breath as he starts skimming the language, translating it from lawyer-ese into English.

When he finishes reading, he sets the papers down and presses a hand to his forehead. "Oh god," he says faintly. Mechanically, he neatens up the sheets, mind whirling as he takes in the implications of Mark’s will. Once he’s finished neatening things up, he takes to the stairs and heads for the living room, where Dustin has passed out on the sofa.  

Eduardo shakes him awake. "Dustin," he says. "Dustin!"

"What?" Dustin asks crabbily, opening his eyes. "Wardo, what the hell?"

“If I go talk to Mark, will you be in my corner?” asks Eduardo.

“Wait,” says Dustin, straightening up with wide eyes. “You’re going to go talk to him? When?”

“Tomorrow,” Eduardo says. He feels jittery, his stomach twisting with nerves. “I’ll come into work with you.”

“What happened?” asks Dustin, frowning. “An hour ago, you said you couldn’t even think about it.”

“I found – something,” says Eduardo. “I need to talk to him.” His heart is beating faster, his mouth dry. “I have to.” The mere thought is making him nervous, but he has to do this in person. He needs to see Mark’s face.

“All right,” says Dustin, reaching out to pat Eduardo’s arm. “I’ll be in your corner. Whatever that means.”

“Thank you,” says Eduardo, letting out a sigh of relief. “I appreciate that.”

“Yeah,” Dustin says, leaning back and closing his eyes. “Wake me up when Law and Order starts.”


*****

The next day dawns grey and miserable. Eduardo looks out the window and feels like it’s probably a bad omen. He showers, dresses, and grabs the folder from the bedside table. He pockets his wedding ring and then goes downstairs to meet Dustin.

“Man, it’s disgusting outside,” remarks Dustin, squinting out the window. “I haven’t seen it this miserable in a while.” He downs his coffee and jerks his head towards the door. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes,” Eduardo says and he follows Dustin out to the car, his heart beating faster.

They have to jog into the building to avoid getting too wet. Dustin shakes himself off like a dog and waves to the receptionist before leading the way into the office. Jamie catches sight of them and comes over, frowning.

“Hi,” she says to Eduardo. “Are you here to see Mark?”

“Yes,” Eduardo says, mouth dry. “Is he available?”

“He’s in a meeting,” Jamie says. “I’ll let him know you’re here, though.” She pulls out her cell phone and starts texting as she heads back to her desk.

Eduardo stands awkwardly in the middle of the office, dripping all over the floor and clutching the damp file folder in his hands. He looks around, squinting through the glass of the different conference rooms to try to figure out which one Mark is in.

He doesn’t have to wait long; he hears Mark’s voice call, “Wardo?” and he turns to look. Mark is standing in the doorway of a conference room, looking confused.

“Hi,” Eduardo says, taking a step forward. “I need to talk to you.”

“Mark?” asks an uncomfortably familiar voice. “What’s going on?” Sean Parker looks out and catches sight of Eduardo. “Oh.”

Eduardo grits his teeth and throws a look over at Dustin, who shrugs helplessly. “Hi,” he says again. “I need to talk to Mark.”

“We’re in the middle of a meeting,” Sean says in a faintly smug voice. “He can talk to you later.”

“What is it?” asks Mark, ignoring Sean completely.

“Mark –” begins Sean.

“Not now, Sean,” Mark raps out sharply. “What is it, Wardo?”

Eduardo draws in a shaky breath and says, "Hamid grabbed some of the wrong papers yesterday."  He holds up the folder as evidence.

Mark's face goes very blank. He turns to Sean and says, “We’ll have to talk about this later. I’ll give you a call.”

“But we’re supposed to get back to them –” starts Sean.

“Not now,” Mark snaps. “I’ll call you, Sean.” He steps out from the door and waits for Sean to take the hint. After a moment, Sean huffs out an irritated breath and stomps out. He gestures overdramatically at the door and Eduardo walks past him, heart in his throat. Mark closes the door and they both sit down. “What did you want to talk about?”

Eduardo sets the folder down and says, “What does this mean?”

"What does it mean?" Mark asks disbelievingly. "It means I wanted you to – Wardo, I want you to have everything."

"I saw," Eduardo says. His voice is shaking a little, but he can't bring himself to care. He reaches out and grabs one of Mark's hands in his, needing something to anchor him. "Mark, just – you have to explain it to me, you have to explain to me what happened and what you were thinking."

"I was thinking that I wanted you to inherit everything if I died," Mark says, now very dry.

"Not that, Mark,” Eduardo says. “I'm talking about the marriage. I need to know what happened that night?"

It takes Mark a few seconds to start speaking. He eventually says, "It was your idea, to begin with."

"It was?" Eduardo asks, surprised..

"Are you going to let me tell you what happened or not?" asks Mark, giving Eduardo a look. Eduardo holds up his hands in surrender. "We were both drunk and arguing outside that club Dustin brought us to. You said that you felt like I had left you and I – I didn't want you to feel that way. I told you – I said I was sorry.

"Wardo, I swear, I didn't know that you wouldn't remember," Mark says desperately. "You seemed fine, you seemed like – like you, like how I remembered you from Harvard. You kept talking about how you wished things had turned out differently."

Eduardo scoots forward to the edge of his chair. "I do," he tells Mark, who nods once before looking away.

"Yeah," Mark says. "You saw a newlywed couple across the street and you said it would be funny if we did it. You were laughing and smiling and I said yes."

Eduardo remembers seeing a newlywed couple and laughing; he remembers arguing with Mark, though none of the specifics. He can see why he would have said something like that as a joke – but he can’t imagine why Mark would have agreed. He clears his throat and asks, "Why did you say yes?"

"You were happy," Mark says. "Was I supposed to say no? I thought – Wardo, I thought you meant it. When it became obvious that you didn't remember, I didn’t think you would want to know. And then Chris said we should pretend and I – I didn’t want you to leave."

Eduardo drops his head into his hands, thinking this over. He knows, from long experience, that he tends to get nostalgic when he's very drunk. Mark's story actually mostly makes sense. Except for one thing. "Mark," Eduardo says slowly, looking up. "How long have you been in love with me?"

"I don't know," Mark says reluctantly. "A long time. Since – since before the lawsuit."

Eduardo wraps his arms around himself and thinks for a moment. Things are lining up for him now, from Mark's behavior when they first got married to Randi's impassioned defense of her brother to Mark's little speech on Oprah.

"It isn't an excuse," Mark says after a moment. "I should have realized. You never would have – suggested that normally. It just seemed like –” He breaks off, his face pained. "I'm not very good at talking, Wardo," he says. "I don't know what to say."

"I know," Eduardo says, taking pity on him. "Mark, I know."

"Wardo," says Mark, voice cracking a little, "please come back. We don't even have to be married, I just always wanted you here. Don’t go back to Singapore. You're supposed to be here with me. I – I need you."

"You've never needed anyone," says Eduardo. It doesn’t come out as biting or as cutting as he had intended.

"Except you," Mark says. They stare at each other across the conference table and Eduardo feels like he's twenty-two again, glaring across the deposition table at where Mark sat. Only, now the air is thick with possibility rather than resentment.

"If you loved me, then why did you cut me out?" asks Eduardo softly. He's curious now, because even though he isn't supposed to ask, he has to know. He needs to hear the reasons.

"That was business," says Mark. "It – I asked you, I asked you to come out with us, but you said no. I thought you didn't – you didn't want it to be us anymore. You were moving on. I was – jealous."

"I never wanted that," Eduardo says, frowning, but he thinks he gets it now.

"I know that now," Mark says, annoyed. "Wardo, the point is – I'll sign anything. Divorce me, take me for everything I have, I don't care anymore, just – don't disappear again. I want – I need to know where you are."

"I'm here," Eduardo says, reaching out his hand. Mark's gaze falls onto Eduardo's ringless finger and his mouth twists. Eduardo looks and sees that Mark hasn't taken his off. His mouth goes dry and he wishes, suddenly, that he'd had the foresight to put his ring back on before he came. He feels bare without it.

"It's fine, Wardo," Mark says firmly. "I've lived without you for five years. I managed just fine."

"Mark," Eduardo says, feeling an irrational surge of affection at that, "you complete idiot. I don't want to – give me your ring."

"What?" asks Mark.

"Give me your ring." Eduardo holds out his hand. Mark looks suspicious as he works the wedding ring off his finger. He drops it into Eduardo's hand. Eduardo catches Mark's fingers before Mark pulls back and he says, "Mark, I promise you I am completely sober now. I will remember this in the morning and I hope you will too."

Mark's eyes go wide and he says, "Wardo, don't – only do this if you mean it."

"I mean it, Mark," Eduardo says as firmly as he can. He clears his throat. "Mark Zuckerberg, will you marry me? Properly, this time?"

Mark doesn't say anything until Eduardo gives him a look. Mark says, "I thought that was rhetorical. Of course I will."

Eduardo grins and slides Mark's wedding ring back on. "Good," he says. "We're doing it right, this time. A real wedding that both of us remember."

Mark stares at Eduardo like he's never seen him before. "You're impossible," Mark says eventually. "Do you know how my mother is going to react?"

"We're doing it properly," Eduardo says firmly. "So we mean it. Both of us."

Mark gets up from his seat and shuffles around the table to Eduardo. "I love you," he says fervently, or as fervently as Mark says anything, and he kisses Eduardo, his lips featherlight against Eduardo's. Eduardo grabs Mark and pulls him onto his lap, not caring that they're still at the office.

There’s a knock at the door and Eduardo hears it open. “Just checking to be – whoa, sorry,” says Dustin, laughing sheepishly. “Wanted to be sure you hadn’t killed each other. Carry on.” The door closes again and Eduardo hears Dustin laughing on the other side of the door.

Eduardo chuckles and presses his face into the curve of Mark’s neck. “Christ.”


*****

To: Sandra Saverin (saverin312@aol.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Good news!

Mama –

Mark and I have decided that we want to re-do our wedding so that our friends and family can attend. We haven't yet decided on a date because we wanted to make sure our families were available. When would be a good time?

Love,
Eduardo

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Sandra Saverin (saverin312@aol.com)

Re: Good news!

Oh my darling that is wonderful news! Please do it in Florida where the weather is the nicest. Though I suppose there are many beautiful places in California, I just think it would be easier on your family if you did it here.

This is so exciting! Are you going to adopt babies? I want grandbabies.

Love,

Mom

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Randi Zuckerberg (randiberg@gmail.com)

Re: Apologies and congratulations

I'm sorry for berating you – look, my brother is an idiot, we both know that. I told him that he should have told you the truth a long time ago, but he's always convinced that he knows best.

Anyway, congratulations. :) I wish you two every happiness.

Randi

P.S. Leah loves her play set. We can hardly get her out of it some days.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)

Re: THE WEDDING!!!!

I'm best man right? You know I would throw a rocking bachelor party. ;D

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com)

Re: upcoming nuptials

I have talked to the press and I think we're going to be able to have a nice, sedate ceremony without having to deal with too many crazy reporters. Though I did promise The Advocate you would give a small interview.

I'm so glad you guys worked things out.

 

To: Chris Hughes (chughes@facebook.com), Dustin Moskovitz (dmoskovitz@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Plans

Chris, thank you for taking care of that. Mark and I would like to formally ask both of you to be our best men at the wedding, so we're going to treat you to dinner. When's a good night for you?

 

To: Jamie Perry (jperry@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: hey

Could you make sure Mark is ready to go at eleven thirty? We have a fitting to get to.

 

To: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)
From: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)

Re: I remembered

I do know what time our appointment is. I will be waiting out front for you. I don't see why we have to wear tuxes anyway, no one will be expecting me to.

 

To: Mark Zuckerberg (markisceo@facebook.com)
From: Eduardo Saverin (eduardo.saverin@gmail.com)

Re: Good

I love you too. See you in fifteen minutes.

 

Epilogue

“We should have eloped,” Mark says grumpily as Eduardo straightens Mark’s tie. “It would have been so much less trouble.”

“If we had done that, I honestly don’t think our mothers would have ever forgiven us,” Eduardo says frankly. He leans forward and presses a light kiss to Mark’s mouth. “It will be fine. And you didn’t do any of the work.”

“I had to go to all the fittings,” Mark says. “And my mom kept asking my opinion. Like I have an opinion on flower colors.”

Dustin sticks his head in the room and says, “Five minutes guys.” He looks at the two of them and shakes his head, smiling. “Aww, you guys are adorable.”

“Get out, Dustin,” Mark says, glaring.

“It’s the husband who isn’t supposed to see the bride, not the best man,” says Dustin huffily, but he backs out.

“I think you’re mixing your metaphors a bit,” Eduardo calls after him.

“Fuck off!” Dustin calls back. Eduardo grins and turns to look back down at Mark. He takes Mark’s hands in his and kisses Mark’s knuckles one by one.

“You’re sure you want to do this?” Mark asks anxiously. “We don’t have to.”

“Mark, I love you,” Eduardo says firmly. “We are getting married and we are doing it the right way this time. Stop asking me if I’m sure.”

“I keep thinking that you’ll change your mind,” Mark says. He fidgets a little and then offers a small smile. “Sorry.”

“In every other part of your life, you are so confident,” Eduardo says quietly, lifting his hand to cup Mark’s jaw.

“In every other part of my life, I know that I’m the best,” Mark returns.

“I’m not changing my mind,” Eduardo assures him. “Don’t be an idiot. In a moment, we are going to go out and pledge our lives to each other for the second time. Don’t you think I’ve thought about this?”

“Sometimes I wonder if you’re mentally deranged,” Mark says.

Dustin raps on the door again and says, “All right, lovers, get out here. Chris and I have to go down the aisle to await you.”

“This is ridiculous,” Mark says. “Neither of us is a bride.”

“Blame our mothers,” Eduardo says. The two of them step out of the dressing room. Chris gives Eduardo a hug, tight and reassuring.

“This is going to be great,” Chris says assuredly. “Just, you know, don’t forget your lines.”

Mark snorts and Chris grins at them before going through the doors with Dustin. Eduardo waits exactly thirty seconds before tugging Mark towards the doors into the main temple. Chris and Dustin are waiting on either side of the chuppah.

Eduardo takes Mark’s hand, squeezing gently, and they walk down the aisle together, passing rows of family and friends. They come to the chuppah and stand underneath it together, hands still linked. Eduardo tightens his fingers as the rabbi begins the opening blessing, his heart beating so loudly he can hardly hear. He automatically speaks when prompted, only tripping over the Hebrew a little bit. Mark’s voice cracks a little when it’s his turn to speak. Chris and Dustin pass them their rings and Eduardo traces the blessing inscribed along the inside before taking Mark’s hand in his.

Eduardo mouths, I love you, as he slides the ring onto Mark’s left hand. Mark’s mouth twists up in a half-smile and he nods almost imperceptibly. Mark’s hand, usually so steady, shakes a little as he slides the ring onto Eduardo’s finger. Eduardo squeezes his hand and smiles.

Dustin and Chris lay out the cloth-covered light bulb on the floor, Dustin grinning hugely. Mark and Eduardo step forward onto it together, breaking glass with a satisfying noise. Their guests burst in to applause and Eduardo can’t help dragging Mark into a deeply inappropriate kiss.


*****


“So that wasn’t terrible,” Eduardo says once reach the reception hall. Mark has already taken off his tie, probably abandoning it somewhere along the way. “And now we’re officially married.”

“We were officially married before,” Mark says, but he still hasn’t let go of Eduardo’s hand. Eduardo rubs his thumb over Mark’s ring, beaming helplessly. Mark smiles a little and turns his face up for a kiss. Eduardo obliges and ignores the whistles and catcalls from the guests.

Eduardo eats more cake than he probably should and dances with Lena, Jamie, and Dustin before he is finally able to convince Mark to come onto the floor. Eduardo puts his arms around Mark’s waist and tugs him in close as the DJ switches to a slow, romantic song.

“You realize that I don’t dance,” Mark says, reaching up to link his hands behind Eduardo’s neck.

“Just sway, it will be fine,” Eduardo assures him, rubbing his hand along Mark’s left hip.

 Mark nods and sways obediently for a few moments before saying, “This song blows.”

"Shut up and enjoy the moment," Eduardo says, pulling Mark in closer. Mark snorts disbelievingly, but goes along with it until the end of the song. Eduardo leans down and kisses Mark, long and slow, and says, “Thank you,” when they part.

Mark shrugs and says, "I love you."

They don’t make it back to the house until well into the wee hours of the morning. Eduardo is too exhausted to have sex, so instead he curls around Mark, his front pressed along Mark’s back, and he covers Mark’s left hand with his. When he wakes up in the morning, Mark is still sleeping in the circle of Eduardo’s arms. Eduardo smiles when he sees the early sunlight glinting off their matching wedding bands and kisses the corner of Mark’s mouth until Mark opens his eyes.

"Good morning," Eduardo says, smiling.

"Hi," Mark says, and he rolls over on top of Eduardo. "Any second thoughts?"

"Never," Eduardo says and he pulls Mark down to make up for the night before.

 

fin