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Buyer's Remorse

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"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it."
-- H.L. Mencken

"In the phase before purchasing, a prospective buyer often feels positive emotions associated with a purchase (desire, a sense of heightened possibilities...); afterward, having made the purchase, they are more fully able to experience the negative aspects: all the opportunity costs of the purchase...
-Buyer's Remorse - wikipedia


Sean is not an awesome friend. There are seriously a hundred things that Sean is the fucking man at, like two hundred maybe, a lot. He knows it’s called social engineering (you don’t need to go to Harvard for that shit) and he knows, honestly, when he’s working a room, working someone to give him what he needs right then. He can get most people to agree to whatever balls-to-the-wall scheme he’s suggesting. But he’s not a lover or a fighter and he’ll never be anyone’s BFF.

He can be a real dick, and sometimes it’s like he can’t stop himself. He’s just not all serious and shit, and so sometimes he doesn’t look before he makes someone leap, and, well, then there’s always a party to be had because crying over spilled milk is seriously weak.

So, it’s not like people don’t know he’s Sean Parker when they get into these things. And he got the kid the contacts and the vision, and if Mark's eyes are kind of tight -- like his back and his heart and his weird face (which needs to stop that) aches – well, he’s gonna be a fucking billionaire. Eduardo, that was just the cost of doing business.

It’s not like people don’t know Sean Parker gives dubiously legal advice. Hello, professional sell out—we’re not talking Booz Allen or fucking McKinsey.

He’ll help you break the rules and figure out how to keep enough of the money in your pockets after the dust settles. And while you wait there’s drinks on the last V.C.’s tab, and chicks that don’t give a shit who you ripped off to buy them that coke, and the trick is just not to think about it too much. (Which is maybe that dubious advice thing again, but see: not the most awesome buddy after the check’s been cashed.) (which: It’s Sean Motherfucking Parker, bitches. So, really.)

He’d maybe call it a deal with the devil, except he’s not a bad guy. (Though being the devil always sounds pretty cool when he’s high).

Except, except: that kid’s stupid chin and the red around his eyes the next day. Fingers white around the beer cans and he cleaned some papers out of his room that Dustin had wanted to help him with. And, whatever dude, way to be emo, live the tortured genius dream, but Sean's maybe a little sorry this time. Which is weird, but then he's that kind of guy – open to new things.

*

So maybe he mentions, off hand, that there’s business in New York but he flies to Boston and cabs it to Harvard Square. It’s not on his dime, but then he’s not that sorry. Sean doesn’t have a plan, per se, but the administrative office has Eduardo’s info and he gets it (plus digits) because he’s a charming motherfucker.

No luck at the door, but he thinks about where he'd go, and there's only so many bars in a college town, he assumes, and then a few drinks later (gotta thank the bartenders for their kind hospitality) he definitely knows. When Sean finds Eduardo at the fifth he’s fucking ready to roll.

"It's kismet!" he says, and gestures for two beers. Eduardo’s sleeves are rolled up and damp, and his arms slide forward over the bar when Sean gives his back a slap. His hair’s flat on the left, like he’s wilting out from the freakin’ inside, and, okay, this shit’s gotta end because it’s killing Sean’s buzz on a kind of permanent basis.

There’s a mumble, like maybe, "This is not happening." They’re definitely going to have to work on the kid’s observational skills, but that’s step like 10 in that plan he doesn’t actually have together quite yet.

The bartender thunks down Coronas and Sean nudges one over. It seems to dent the broken man act and Eduardo’s shoulders snap back, his eyes looking like something Sean should probably figure out, before everything speeds up, the world working much too fast.

His last thought, before a sick crunch and close up of knuckles, is: Yeah, not falling for that again.

*

It’s a high break, seriously high, up at the bone, and his shirt’s fucking totaled.

"This should hurt more," he tries to say, cause maybe he’s in shock and there are shards in his brain and he’s gonna fucking die with blood dripping into his mouth in some stupid college town bar, all because he can’t deal with making nerds cry after helping them metaphorically erase their metaphorical and surprisingly heavy-handed boyfriends. This always looks so much more badass on the UFC.

Eduardo’s not listening to his completely valid concerns. It’s deeply unfair. Seriously, Sean could be—there are reasons, he could have a seizure. And if Sean’s not exactly sure what these reasons are, well, Eduardo’s not the one with the flattened face.

"I cannot be expected to enunciate," Sean informs him, and wobbles in a very manly way. He receives a legit fucking handkerchief for his troubles (this guy, where did Mark find him), and Eduardo’s saying words that mean nothing like, "jesus, hold it like, shut up, just shut up", with a swollen steadying hand on Sean’s shoulder and calling them a cab.

They get such a dirty look but Eduardo uses his best responsible face. Which makes Sean think he should have trotted him out to more investors, this smidgen of regret -- because this is his life now, where he has to think about things that already happened and the nice one tries to kill him.

"It was the crack about the suits, right?" he says as Eduardo is hustling him out towards the walk-in, and he thinks he sees a tiny flash of a smile, which is so fucking twisted, and the steering gets firmer.

"You lawyered up yet?" he tries next, cause the waiting room is crowded and a nose can’t break twice. Plus, it’s one of his concerns; it’s been four days. But it comes out more like ‘lubbered ah yeh’ and Eduardo mostly just sighs and tilts Sean’s head back to open the breathing canal (or smack his head against wall, 50/50).

A toddler is screeching and if they’ve got a number it’s probably thirty seven, but Sean can close his eyes at least to stop the floor from moving while Eduardo holds him up with one hand on his chest and handles the forms with another. It’s humid, and the clotting can start any second now, and this is some straight up DDoS. But maybe his reading people thing is as imperfect as the friend thing, because if this isn’t going to be the start of something beautiful then he is not Sean Parker.

(and brain knocked about or not, he totally is)

*

And that’s how he ends up spending the most uncomfortable night in years on Eduardo Saverin’s couch, which no one in all 50 states would believe, if he had any intention of telling them.

He just said,

"That thing, the—"

"when he wiped me out,” Eduardo offered, blank.

"yeah, that was some seriously psychological shit.”

And he looked at Sean for a bit, and Sean looked back, and then Eduardo sighed cause that’s his new job, Sighing Guy, it’s ridiculous, and clasped his hands together, looking up with Sean at all the little overlapping cracks in the ceiling.

And then they were going to Eduardo’s pad and he was handing Sean a blanket. Sean could have used two but he thought it might be better to just go with it.

So he can’t sleep and mostly surfs SomethingAwful from his phone while trying not to laugh, since that stings like a bitch.

b back 2mro he starts to text (since Mark doesn’t worry, except when they can’t find his stash and no one knows where he’s been) and Sean, it’s probably just the headache, but he stops a sec and thumbs at the cursor. crashin w friend

It’s only three quarters a lie anyway, at this point, since he’s just spied pajama pants on the counter and the blanket’s seriously thick. Eduardo can’t even hide – all concerned about sudden Sean cradle death. He’s totally in.

long as shes legal, Mark returns, and how fucking cute, they’re still freaky brain twins.

*

He wakes stone sober and to no breakfast, which is cruel and unusual punishment. There’s no firm name or business card tacked on the wall, no legal shit in the sock drawer or kicked under the bed. (of course he looked -- he’s alone, it’s like permission) A clock check gives him plenty of time to jet.

He could push it back, sure, but grievous bodily harm means mission abort. (He read that somewhere, it's not pussy.) A wallet check shows Eduardo's taken out cab fare, which is fucking hilarious.

There's a post-it that says, "My neighbor will lock up," and Sean flips it, bites at the pen, and then thinks about the teeth marks already there and how gay that just was. He grabs a beer to wash the Eduardo spit out and scrawls,

Nobody wants to buy Tower Records

you screwed me out, Sean gets while he’s boarding. Which wouldn’t be an opening to other people. Sucks to be them.

He nibbles at his burrito and thinks about it. How Sean had always thought, fuck, this guy, he never lets anything be easy. i didnt know what we were building

i know, Eduardo returns, and like he's magic and can exhale at you through your phone. you never did.

Some things never change--Sean Parker, letting loose his tender heart and the kid cannot be impressed. He wouldn’t have found it ballsy before, but survival of the fittest, baby. Assimilate new info and adapt.

He switches to email.


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: that's fair

Did you know some of the bone fractured? Usually it’s just a septum break. I didn’t know you were such a bad ass.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: that's fair

I’m really not.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: that's fair

awwww don’t sell yourself short, pal


 

There's been no reply when he lands, so he sends one more at baggage claim.


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: its not the way to win

just chill on it ok?


**

Dustin’s such a little bitch and a liar; they obviously missed him. The office gives him shit about his war wounds (Mark doesn’t come out, glued to the keyboard with his stupid hunched shoulders, but whatever, no worries, Sean’s on this), and he tells them about the stacked bartender who slipped him her number in front of her boyfriend and how he got in a bar fight with a 6’5 bouncer who looked like Tom Hardy. You know, Bronson Hardy, with the iron man-boobs and mustache. They buy it; it’s a good thing he’s such a lady killer. (And anyway that’s totally what happened. Symbolically.)

"I’d say you should see the other guy, except that might be illegal. The cops are probably searching for me."

Layla looks appropriately concerned.

**


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: cuz this is your fault

alright badass, should I sleep on my back? Don’t wanna suffocate and deprive you of an arch nemesis.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: cuz this is your fault

god you are such a prick.

I’m not a doctor.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: cuz this is your fault

google that shit

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: cuz this is your fault

YOU’RE EMAILING ME FROM A COMPUTER

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: cuz this is your fault

Just sleep with A LOT of pillows.

Ice it.

Obviously don’t bump it into anything.


**


Text sent to Saverin 10:31 pm PST:
how good does Darvocet mix with weed

Text received 10:33 pm PST:
christ no where is Mark

Text sent to Saverin 11:47 pm PST:
whoa you said his name its weird now huh

Text sent to Saverin 11:58 pm PST:
hey hey its cool bro

Text sent to Saverin 10:03 am PST:
how about tweak? its so cheap here

Text received 10:05 pm PST:
NO

Text sent to Saverin 10:15 am, PST:
healing sux


**

It's been a few weeks and if he had to describe it (not that he does, because he's like a secret agent on a classified mission, 007 for love), Sean might say they're in a holding pattern. There have been no more attacks on his person (plus #1); no more obstructed breathing (plus #2); more hot interns (plus #3); mutual apologies (well, not per se, but Eduardo did say they might have gotten along that first dinner if Sean had tried to have a real conversation instead of "talking in buzzwords and platitudes", which sounds a little regretful); and no one's crying in the shower (that he knows of).

If he were the type of guy who thought about such things when it wasn't immediately useful, he might have realized Eduardo would be lonely. So his bros had been across the country -- that's the whole point of this marvelous, money-making network they're building here, that connections start close to home but distance doesn't matter. Now the kid's cut adrift and Sean's the only one who wants to know what else would go good on a potato taco, so of course (after the fourth or fifth text in a row), he'll inevitably answer back. (Besides, being a thrilling conversational partner is a specialty of Sean's, a skill he finds to be sorely unappreciated.)

As it is, Sean can't help but do a little double-take at his rousing success at coaxing the kid out of his shell. But quick-like, nothing fancy. That shit leads to introspection, too much of which leads to wearing girl jeans, drinking $40 tea, owning 10 identical black t-shirts, and saying you're 'straight edge' for a month before losing interest. A situation Sean is all for avoiding, because Mark isn't much for socializing these days, Chris and Dustin don't trust him, and, okay, Sean tends to burn a lot of bridges when making his nimble escapes. He's already been Eduardo, more than once pushed out after the ground floor's been laid. So maybe he knows something about lonely himself.

Extreme boredom is the reason he gives, though, when he starts calling Eduardo up occasionally with no real pretense or prepared conversational topic.

"No one's at the good bars this early", he explains (more than once) when Eduardo wants to know why he can't bitch about his day and why an internet company should be paperless (and fuck copy machines anyway) to someone who cares.

And it's not like Eduardo doesn't need to unload about slacking study groups and those guys from his club (who expect newbies to pay the tab, think a good time is talking about the lifestyles of former university presidents, and actually ask about things like where his family's money comes from). Then sometimes his dad calls and he doesn't sound like he means it when he says he should go, and so Sean says, "hey, lemme finish, five minutes," and they pretend to lose track of time, and it's too late to be calling your parents or anyone.

So in the end Eduardo's not asking too many questions about why they're on the phone in the first place. Which is good, since the mission's gone a little abstract, ok, and thus Sean doesn't really know.

*

The craziest thing is: now Mark makes so much more sense. Eduardo’s a killjoy, true, but Sean had no idea he was so freaking useful. He’s all responsible and frighteningly adult, thinking about the hard parts and calling you on your bullshit. He always answers if it’s important, and that includes questions about depreciation, IRR, and why Sean can’t wipe Visio from his machine and set the discs on fire in the street.

No wonder his boy’s gone off the rails-- tries to fire people for taking their lunch breaks, no past-due collections, thinks he can make up the four more bodies they need in Service Development, staring at business cards like they’ve personally betrayed him. It was pretty useful when Sean was convincing him that business ethics was for n00bs, but now there are consequences.


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: conspiracy

TELL THE TRUTH. You're lulling me into a false sense of security before you clip my wings and send me hurling from the nest to my inevitable doom... permanently retarded and unable to fend for myself.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: conspiracy

So he’s still just sitting on the Winklevoss Cease & Desist.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: conspiracy

Fuck if I’m gonna be the one to tell him how this is gonna end, so he cans my ass next.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: conspiracy

Too soon?

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: conspiracy

Your suits are awesome.

fyi that’s bro code for something non gay and remorseful. YOU LOVE IT.

Hey check it out. You’re all Whoopi Golberg psychic. (90’s movie marathon last Friday, Chris is officially scarier than you... better step it up, you know you’re jealous...) Santiero Fund wants a business plan. Won’t meet with us without it. Complete bullshit.

I told you, this is what they do. They get it on paper, pass it around, and then oh what did we need you for.

I know we have to get the cash flowing in but gotta keep the upper hand right?

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: conspiracy

By not demonstrating you have a corporate strategy.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: conspiracy

right. uh sometimes I can be a little paranoid.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: conspiracy

you think?

I cannot believe I'm typing this right now but this is just sad so. Give me a call and I'll start walking you through it.


**

Eduardo’s actually the reason they pull in the last two investors, which would not normally be something he would want to give anyone else credit for, ever, but somehow it’s complicated, and Sean doesn’t like to think so hard about why he does things. It’s boring as fuck.


To: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: FW: Re: Projections and SWOT
Attachment: Pacificprojv5.ppt

See attached, had an outside consultant work this up. Pacific Co’s gonna have to take me seriously this time. March expansion’s OURS baby.

Anyway check this out. Great work huh?

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
Subject: Re: FW: Re: Projections and SWOT
Attachment: Pacificprojv5.ppt

Surprisingly, yes. Could we get them in full time?

-

To: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: FW: Re: Projections and SWOT
Attachment: Pacificprojv5.ppt

Delicate situation. I’m opening negotiations.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
Subject: Re: FW: Re: Projections and SWOT
Attachment: Pacificprojv5.ppt

Let me know if there's anything you need me to do.


**

The truth is that Sean’s supposed to be acting in some sort of president-ish, financial officering capacity, but slight bending of events that may not have included him personally aside, he’s not exactly qualified to plan quarterly budgets, or audit balance sheets, or develop capacity models or, frankly, have anything to do with record keeping and risk management. Sean’s mostly kick ass at meetings, deal closing, and telling people how epic things can get.

The good news is that he only has about one panic attack per week, and he tries to schedule them for when Wardo’s out of class by working a 12–8pm shift. He’s not sure if most pep talks are supposed to hinge on the reassurance that the average company officer's full of it, but it’s surprisingly effective.


To: esaverin@harvard.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: fuuuuuuuuuc

I will blow Mark to get a promise we are never going public. SOX compliance is ASS.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.com
Subject: Re: fuuuuuuuuuc

A noble sacrifice indeed.

Thanks for not starting with that "too soon" crap again. Just makes me feel like stabbing you in the face.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: fuuuuuuuuuc

But worth it!

jeez badass, why you always have to go to the hurting place?

You know I think I snore when I sleep now. Layla The Intern booked it before dawn. YOUR FAULT.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.com
Subject: Re: fuuuuuuuuuc

Yes, definitely nothing to do with the fact that you don't know her last name.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: fuuuuuuuuuc

this is my break from logic DON'T BE A RUINER


 

Some people join the army to defend their country and wear dress blues. They get naked pictures, cookies, and misspelled letters from grade-schoolers.

Sean's not that kind of guy, so he'll never get that kind of care package. He goes to war on untapped markets and stagnant industries. (Which is only half as scary and infinitely safer, as long as no ex-colleagues are in a 50 mile radius.)

He gets a wide, brown box shipped to his office which he's 99% sure isn't a bomb or, like, laced with anthrax, and it's filled with dog eared, used copies of books like 'A Search for Excellence', 'Built to Last', 'The Portable MBA in Accounting', and 'Adaptive Information'. It turns out that business theory is a lot easier to laugh off when you don't know dick, and sometimes he tells the boys he's got a sure thing and pages through one over sushi and a couple beers. Game theory's hella sweet.

There's a post-it on 'Conspiracy of Fools' that says, in annoyingly cramped letters: it's a comfort to know some people get promoted in a Fortune 50 company who are still dumber and more naive than I'll ever be

Sean doesn’t find it until almost 2 months later, tucked behind the front cover, and rests his Blackberry against the hardcover back to type,

Text sent to El Wardo 2:04 pm, PST:
you know what's better than a billion dollars

Text sent to El Wardo 2:05 pm, PST:
being a decent human being

 

**

There’s radio silence from Wardo for six days, but midterms are coming up so Sean chills.

He takes his people out to a liquid lunch and invites Mark, who just nods ‘yeah I can’t hear you’ like the unappreciative bitch that he is, and Chris, who probably has a job that involves things other than staring at Sean suspiciously but, whatever that is, it’s clearly happening somewhere more "professional" and with less delicious vodka and cranberry.

The bars are crowded as usual that week, with some familiar faces, but everyone’s coming on all surprised, like he hasn’t been around, and when Sean stops to think it’s a little unnerving, cause yeah, he hasn’t.

He’s been pulling longer hours-- up late with his laptop, shooting the shit on Skype, and past issues of ‘Advertising Age’. And he hasn’t always been doing it alone, like their fearless tortoise CEO. A man is not an island -- he learned that from Simon and Garfunkel.

It’s not something Sean’s put a lot of thought into, how to be all supportive in a more intangible, non-monetary fashion. He’s a positive guy and he doesn’t let people win that way, getting in his head and making him feel shit, and dictating emotions like they’re the boss of him. But by day nine Sean has to concede defeat – his zen has authentically been fucked with – so he opens communications with his typical tact and grace.


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: whats up

I have deleted four drafts before this, you’re killing my stream of consciousness.

so you need to tell me what’s going on cuz you’re being a weirdo.


 

Apparently F5 in Outlook doesn’t refresh new mail.

It’s just distracting, that’s what it is, (and how can not talking be distracting, it makes no sense), and so obviously he picks up when the call comes and makes excuses to the room, "have to take this, police."

**

"My Internet Commerce professor wants a case study," Wardo says.

His voice is secret-hushed and strained, and Sean is getting flashbacks to 'This isn't happening' -- which makes (a) Sean a little relieved to be on the opposite coast and (b) also quite a bit of sense.

"This is so not a problem," he says.

**

This is the reason Sean was right and not just selfish: Wardo hasn't filed suit, and nobody knows. It could have been Wardo's idea to leave, maybe he'd always had 0.03% shares, maybe an artistic conflict. A small business grew big, Wardo on the ground floor. If Sean Parker can learn to read a debt maturities schedule, Eduardo Saverin can learn to spin a tale just true enough to be useful.

He'll get top interviews months before graduation with just Former Facebook CFO on the resume, no more, no less. As long as everybody's not in the same room, it doesn't matter if Wardo's story conflicts. It's expected. The class isn't going to argue and Professor Dickwad deserves it.

"I can spin bankruptcy, bro."

And that is the reason, all tutoring aside, Sean ends up flying out to do the presentation himself.

**

It goes over like gangbusters and they celebrate with pizza.

It burns his fingers when Wardo reheats it too long, because what's a trip to Harvard without indignity and injury, and it's strange to be back in these rooms again but surprisingly welcome. The strange wears off as they work through a bottle of Jameson with the History Channel in the background.

Sean does his impression of the dorky little twirl the kid made when they'd first rushed through the door like conquering heroes.

"My arms do not do that", Wardo lies.

And Sean toasts to, "the return of my wingman."

Eduardo coughs, sputtering whiskey down his chin like the no-account Sean ditching bonehead that he is. "Maybe I’m not the best person for this."

"Yeah, we’re not doing that again," Sean informs him, and there's no one present who's been truthful enough in the last 24 hours to be able to reliably testify, at any time, about what lamp he may or may not have broken with a sweeping gesture. "I’m not saying I enjoy our talks and your mockery, I’m saying if you abandon me now I’ll fall into a black pit of despair and end up a sad Zuckerberg-esque robot shell."

Wardo makes a complicated face that Sean is far too drunken to parse. "So he’s doing well?"

"You really wanna know? We going there yet?"

And it's deja vu all over again, as they look up at the ceiling then back at each other.

Wardo sighs, because some things never change. "Not yet."

**

"Hey, no hurry," Sean had told him, but he's thinking on it a few weeks after he's back, because Mark looks good. Too good.

His hoodies are all fabric softener smelling and freshly cleaned, and Sean witnessed (with his very own reliable Sean eyes), actual real world shoes, on multiple occasions, on Mark's feet. He keeps doing that 'this is how you smile, right?' grimace-grin, the one that makes the hair raise from the back of Sean's neck, instead of the reassuringly normal soulless face. He always replies, "fine, I'm fine," when someone asks how he is, instead of responding with alarming detail after explaining the pointlessness of initiating conversation with a rhetorical question. He goes home before 9:30, though who knows what the hell he does there. Sean thinks Mark is taking vacation days to say he took vacation days -- he never looks relaxed, or rested, or like he got laid. He probably sat around the house on his laptop writing a plugin for freeware.

Mark still has to be dragged to every meeting, but that just means Sean can skip stocking up on water and canned pork & beans, 'cause the apocalypse isn't looming.

It’s seriously troubling, so much more than those first weeks when Mark was reaching a new level of introverted, brooding like he never got the memo that dorks in pain don't smolder. Because Sean somehow woke up on brand new weird day, and his life is, you know, better or something, because Eduardo Saverin’s his best friend, and if he went and fucked that up he’d turn into a goddamned mess, and they aren’t even secretly wanting to adopt babies and have butt sex together (not that there’s anything wrong with anal; his last girlfriend would go there after he went down on her for at least 45 minutes – so worth it).

But Mark's living like he's making a point with it. Like somehow it could mean 'fuck you' to show up to work without bags under your eyes and be awkwardly polite to new hires.

When Sean first met the guy, they clicked. You could say he clicks with everybody, but no lie: he saw something of himself in the kid. They've got chips on their shoulders, this need to flip the world off and impress. Sure, it was 90% talk, but that 10% was real and why Sean hasn’t screwed him over yet (except in all the ways that Wardo would say that he did) .

The point is, Sean knows Mark. If Mark’s looking this good, inside he’s gotta be a complete wreck.

**


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: this is totally hypothetical

Say I’ve got an initiative I need to launch but the market is... unstable... and my requirements are uncertain

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: this is totally hypothetical

Um, you’re not giving me much info to go on here. I assume you’ve done a business case?

This is not my strength, but I’d think you’d want to go with an Adaptive development approach and form a project team...


**

Sean can do projects.

“I’ve decided I’m getting the band back together,” he says.

Chris doesn’t look up from his monitor. The desktop background has a stick figure ducking for cover as some penguin looking dude brandishes a bazooka. Linux disciples have always gotten on his last nerve; Sean doesn’t trust anyone cockier than himself.

Especially when they roll their eyes without even skipping a key stroke.

“Sean, I do not have time to deal with a restraining order.”

What? Nah, not Crystal. That’s so last week,” Sean says.

And then Jake the Intern wants to know why Sean only dates chicks with stripper names, which shows how much he has to learn, because strippers are amazing.

**


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: this is totally hypothetical

Adaptive... that’s like prototypes, right?


 

It can be like a tester; obviously the answer is to get Mark spectacularly drunk.

get together at my place, he flips open his cell to type, i will come n fucking get u if u dont show

**

Never let it be said that Mark Zuckerberg is not the smartest man in the room and doesn’t recognize a sincere threat when he reads one, since he brings his own booze and pops in before ten.

Now, he’s still stupidly startled to be the only other one there-- but that’s because, as Dustin once proudly declared, few can appreciate the truly great leaps of mind which can spring from a belabored metaphor.

They talk shop over the first few drinks, dropping whiskey shots into glasses of Guinness and gulping them down with a dash of Bailey’s Irish Crème. Mark wants to know how bad he’s being ripped off on consulting fees and Sean doesn’t even know where to start about shit he only halfway understands yet, all the stuff that costs big but was never about money. He steers past to Dustin’s latest crush on the UPS delivery woman, her hilarious set-downs, and those sweet ass shorts.

Sean doesn’t have any particular aim, just to get his boy plastered and see what’s under the armor, if Sean’s read him all wrong -- the state in his head.

Mark leans forward. "Are you coming onto me?"

Sean would like to say he didn’t look over his shoulder to check for, well, anyone else to have magically beamed onto his property. But that would be a much less embarrassing lie, and he’s been turning over an only mildly duplicitous leaf. "uh—"

"Sean, I'm going to be straightforward and tell you that I think it's unlikely I will ever desire to sleep with you, at any time."

He thinks it’s safe to let his face do the talking.

Mark blinks. “You don’t want to sleep with me.”

"I don’t want to sleep with you,” Sean agrees, with perfectly understandable enthusiasm. They know where that story ends; Sean’s already got trust issues.

Mark’s eyes narrow like they’re trying for laser beams, except he’s already frickin’ toasted. "You’re just trying to get me drunk."

"I thought drinks was kinda our modis operandi," Sean says. "You like that? Everything sounds smarter in dead languages."

"If people can understand you. Or, well, yes. Maybe especially if they can’t."

He gets a rare laugh, and that’s that.

They start toasting obscure dialects, and then famous TV ones, and then Python, Awk, Erlang, Lua, and then other scripts Mark’s probably never even seen a program in, the smug motherfucker.

"I should call him," Mark finally says, poking his nose against the Jameson label.

"I do not think you should do that,” Sean says, not even pretending to misunderstand, because it is the sacred duty of the guy still sober enough to recognize awful ideas. He yanks Mark's hands out of his pockets and back on the coffee table, away from any keypads.

**

"I’m not angry anymore," Mark says twenty minutes later, head rolling back between table and wall like he’s trying to convince both of them. "I shouldn’t make decisions when I’m angry, because I don’t know how to take them back and be wrong."

It's possible Sean should have cut him off an hour ago, but there are no witnesses. So.

"I do these things. He’d say, Mark you can’t do these things. It’s the same. I keep doing this. You know what they consider insanity?"

"Yeah, I know this one," Sean snorts, and drains his shot. He’s behind by six, since he’s not a desperate moron.

Mr Share ‘n Care really doesn’t give a shit. "Someone who keeps doing the same thing, over and over, but expects different results."

**

They actually have a staff meeting in the morning, so it’s possible Sean has made an error in his calculations. Mark got the television on while Sean was taking a leak, which should be a good sign. But it appears to be a documentary on the freaky ass mating habits of some clinically disturbed insects-- because this is Sean’s life now, where everything’s a sign that they all need massive group therapy.

"I wanna tell you a secret," Mark says, as Sean hauls him up like sleepy toddler, strips off his shoes and jacket. "I knew that it was wrong,” Mark tries to slur in a whisper.

"uh, yeah." Sean rolls his eyes. "You pick an employee and screw with just his stock. That’s gonna be fucked up, no matter who he is. Dude, we just didn’t care." Saying it sounds a little messed up now. Wardo’s totally making him a better person; it’s the worst.

Mark shudders, a sick roll up from the gut. He’s looking a little red and a lot sweaty around the face and neck. Sean is thinking this prototype sucks and might end up with chunks getting blown on his three hundred dollar shoes.

"I wrote these-- Erica, I told you about my ex-girlfriend. Or you knew already. I don’t remember. I wrote these entries in my journal and it was, I knew it was public and. Yes. Yes, I didn’t care. And now Wardo’s going come back for everything and it will be karma, if I believed in karma. Which I don’t. But if I—"

"Mark."

"It’ll be public record, won’t it? It’ll be there for everybody to see. That I stole from my best friend."

There isn’t much to say to that, since Sean’s pretty awesome but he can’t tell the future. "At least he won’t tell 'em he wanted to bang you, there’s that?"

You could take the sudden stumble-run for the bathroom and subsequent violation of his toilet as an expression of disgust, but Sean decides to go with 'emotional response'.

It is so wrong that he knows what Mark ate for dinner. And, ew, maybe lunch.

**

He has 3 unread texts when he wakes up with dry mouth and a vague uncertainty of how he’d gotten to the bed, and if he’d possibly left Mark to choke on his own vomit.


Text from El Wardo received 4:12am PST :
Fwd: idont konw wat

Text from El Wardo received 4:12am PST:
Fwd: it walnkdd rrrr

Text from El Wardo received 4:13am PST:
SEAN WHAT DID YOU DO


Looks like Mark got to his jacket pocket at least, which means living room couch.

good lookin out thanx, Sean sends back and turns over to get catch another four hours.

**

Additional inspection of Sean’s phone (after Mark has cleared out, to "find a good place to curl up and die") reveals there had been 1 outgoing call and 1 corresponding voice mail.


Voice Mail saved 8:30am PST:
// Sean, it’s Chris. [throat clearing] Leaving this message as I doubt you’ll remember making the call, due to alcoholic stupor and hopefully ETERNAL SHAME. In light of this fact, I will do my sincere attempt to paraphrase it faithfully.

[cough] "Hi Chris, you know how it’s three o’clock in the damn morning but since I’m a selfish fuck...” okay, you didn’t actually say any of that. It was more like, ”Hi Chris, you know he says he doesn’t want to bone me, but he’s probably protesting too much right? What if I propose a threesome, cause I’m just too much to handle for one AND BECAUSE I WANT TO SCAR CHRIS FOR LIFE" – okay, so you didn’t say it like that either – "and then at the last minute I’ll go: 'damn, I forgot, Sean only services the ladies!' And then they comfort each other in my absence."

Seriously, that last bit, you totally said just like that. And Sean, you need to listen to me. Sean, I cannot even begin to tell you all the ways this WILL NOT WORK. [incoherent swearing] Fuck my life. Later.//


It must be acknowledged: Chris has a point and a purpose.


Text Sent to Chris 12:30pm PST:
go teamwork!

**

It’s deeply unfortunate that Sean spends thirty-six hours avoiding Wardo’s wrath, and then--
(Sean savors memories of the good old days, the ones when he didn’t have to attend annual strategy sessions whose meeting invites include multiple acronyms, that was Thiel’s fucking doing)
--he freaks out badly enough to send aw hell CALL ME before getting this weird in-stereo flashback of his last 3 girlfriends shouting something about blah blah insensitive ass.

Who knows that's about, the mind is a strange place, but Sean’s a proactive kind of guy, so he goes to bleed off tension at the gym and answers the phone with, “Don’t be pissed.”

The clerk at the front desk gestures to the handy little sign indicating Hideous Skull Crushing Death by Treadmill, which will somehow inexplicably arise from running with a cell phone. If this is Sign Dude, Sean should invite him to meet Anita from Legal, a match made in corporate hell.

"So I should just be completely fine with Mark – you might know this guy, my former best friend Mark, who I made a complete ass of myself over and who ripped me for off for... I don’t even know how many millions of dollars, it depends, how’re the profit margin projections looking for ’05? Yeah, just be cool with how that guy drunk texted me Friday, and don’t even try to tell it wasn’t your fault." Wardo must have been so bored without him; his boy's in fine form.

“Right, actually, that too. Guess that was a bit awkward.”

Awkward.” Wardo repeats it like it’s a question, a question that he’s become intimately familiar with, and the question is, ‘Sean why are you like this and why am I totally not as ticked off with you as I should be?’

“But mostly," Sean says, "I meant about the conversation we’re going to have right now, where I ask you for your generous assistance in making a fuckload from monetizing the hell out of this thing before these chatty bitches just send our bandwidth costs into a death spiral and the electricity goes out.”

“That was very dramatic,” Wardo congratulates.

“Well, I learned from the best.”

“Oh, fuck you,” Wardo says.

He groans, and then he breathes silently for a moment. Sean would bet his car that Wardo just ran a hand over his face. “You know I was mostly scared shitless, right? I’ve just got a bunch of theory in my head and no practice.” He laughs. “Full time student playing part time CFO. What were we thinking?” Wardo swallows thickly, like he’s the one who’s been drying out his throat running four miles. “He’s lucky he met you.”

Sean could say, ‘It wasn’t fair to ask of you,’ or ‘I was fucking terrified too, I just hid it better,’ or ‘you’re still scarily brilliant, you just set yourself up to fail,’ and they’d all be true, but Sean knows people, and he knows Eduardo’s figured them out all on his own a while back.

“No we there, huh?,” he says instead, “I see how it is. A dark day for Eduardo Saverin, when in all the bars in the world Sean Parker walked into his...”

“That remains to be seen,” Wardo snaps back, and his tone, as Sean knew it would, is shifting into warm amusement. “Depends on how much sleep I’m going to lose helping you brainstorm enough to not look like an asshole.”

**

The next month is something that Sean would very much like to lock away in an iron-lined, Superman proofed box and never revisit again, as long as he lives.

When he thinks of it now, leaning back against his newly stained couch and watching Dustin drink his beer and beat him soundly at PlanetSide, it’s a smeared blur, like looking through a greasy diner window and coming down from a high.

Scanning through articles from Lexis Nexis Academic.

Snacking on congealed pizza from piled boxes in the conference room.

A new 40 inch whiteboard, covered with crisscrossing scribbles, equations, and hasty diagrams.

Wardo on email, speaker phone, video conference-- checking in at the end of the day to offer pricing model suggestions, a new Con for targeted ads, a new Pro for leveraging ontologies to repurpose mined data.

Links to case studies dropped into insult laden, sleep deprived IM conversations.

The reoccurring thought: Sean could have done this, every bit of it, by himself if he had to. But he’s lucky as hell that he didn’t.

**


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: you should be here

There are some crazy motherfuckers at this conference. Chris said I had to show to talk up our tech and BE PROFESSIONAL ???? but I wouldn’t man a booth which is good cuz these guys look like dorks.

Geeks should not get this wild. Waiting for someone to pull out the black tar heroin ROFL

It’s gonna ruin my cred, but shooting up freaks out me out. Could never do it. What if I die like that Bon Jovi looking dude from Rent?

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: you should be here

oh my god Sean, Doctor Dealer is not real life.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: if I die of AIDS im gonna tell everybody we were fucking

uh, non-fiction dude.

and just so you know, I’ve already booked your ticket. I PICKED YOU A WINDOW SEAT SO NO WELCHING.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: you know I'm in a lecture right now

I can’t, seriously. And what would I do there anyway while you’re at the office all day?

Shut up, I’m not making you dinner.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: ha ha your a bad student

Same thing you’d do in MA except you might actually have some fun during spring break like a real boy. All study and no play makes Bad Ass an axe murderer. You owe it to your country WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN.

Oh fuuuuuuck have I mentioned this conference is boring boring boring. This is my post voice mail life. I think I’m still being punished.

anyway DON’T BE SCARED WARDO. You can prowl the streets of Palo Alto all undercover. I got you a cap and some freaky deaky sunglasses. It’s sweet, they’re as big as your head would be if I shaved it while you were sleeping.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: ha ha your a bad student

yeah, I’m not doing that.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: ha ha your a bad student

and you’re still lying.

forwarding you the itinerary link...

April 21 bitches IT WILL BE EPIC.


**

And maybe epic was a little strong, but no one gets assaulted or arrested, so it definitely has two up so far on the last three Spring Breaks Sean crashed.

He picks up Wardo on his lunch break, briefly considering donning a hoodie and hat to be all mockingly incognito before he remembers that suspicious figure lurking outside of airport equals cavity search.

"You didn't clean for me," Wardo says, dumping his stuff in the guest room, which is actually the game room, but the couch is a pull out and besides Sean doesn't get cleaning up for someone who'll be there for a week and inevitably see how messy it does and does not get.

"Are those jeans? And a t-shirt?" Sean says, and then Wardo flips him off, admits his place is actually pretty nice, and surprises him by picking up a photo of Mark, Sean, and Dustin at the company barbecue. They're squinting into the sun, looking tired and (maybe just to Sean) a little nauseous from too much meat.

"He's doing fine," Wardo says, after studying it for a moment, face hovering between four to five expressions. Sean thinks, sometimes, that Wardo's both the easiest and the toughest person to predict that he's ever met.

"Really?"

Wardo grins, surprising Sean further. "Okay, he looks like he hasn't brushed his hair in two days and he wishes everyone would let him just hang in the corner and quit making him stop for pictures and god forbid talking, but that's just Mark. For Mark, that's par for the course."

"Oh, that guy, Mark, I think I've heard of that guy, didn't you--"

And there he goes losing his dignity again, squawking as Wardo tosses a nearby pillow at his head.

**

It's scandalous, truly, how the abuse never ends. Wardo makes him go in at eight-thirty every morning so he can power through the afternoon and sneak out early at four. It's diabolical and his body can't quite adjust, but they try every local coffee house you can can google, duck onto Stanford campus, catch nearly indecipherable films at cheap art house theatres, watch a rainforest marathon on the Discovery channel, and Wardo does cook him dinner once. (It's fucking awful.)

He's playing tourist in his own town, and it feels a little embarrassing-- but then every bit of fun Sean has ever had has seemed to embarrass someone, so it might as well be him this time. Maybe this is progress.

The schedule earns him a few odd glances from Dustin, but (despite Wardo's shocking lack of gratitude in refusing his carefully selected wig and 70's porn star glasses) they've yet to run into any mutual acquaintances around town, and everyone mostly stopped keeping track of what Sean's up to once they figured out he wasn't about to burn the place down.

(you leave one lit cigarette in a potted plant and they never let it go)

(it's not like it was his bad the thing was a dry husk -- who the hell thought giving Zuckerberg care over any sort of living being was a good fucking idea?)

Mark's more perceptive than people tend to give him credit for, but there's zero worries on that end. He's been mostly avoiding Sean since that night when poisonous volumes of alcohol opened up his shriveled little soul and he admitted to having feelings about things other than fame, power, and the information age. He's been battening down the hatches, keeping it business, but Wardo's right-- Mark looks a bit more like crap and that patented mulish expression has been having a renaissance of epic proportions.

It's not a bad sign, Mark being more like himself, like something's shaken loose, so Sean's been keeping his distance. Impersonal conference calls, presentations, and document signatures: Sean can wait him out and do this. He's learned to stop fiddling further once a thing's gone right.

If you don't know exactly how it's broken anymore, don't try to fix it.

 


To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: told you

Industrial Organization midterm 86% PAY UP

You're out of coffee.

--

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: told you

I call self sabotage!

you just want my hard earned dinero, earned with my sweat and blood!

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: told you

You caught me, I made sure to not answer four extra questions, just so I could pocket your $20.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: told you

see, now don't you feel so much better? confession's good for the soul.

if you need to lick your wounds, porn folder's on the F drive. I'm an ass man, so you should feel right at home.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: congratulations

FYI you now own Taylor Swift's complete portfolio in iTunes

F:/Not Work Shit/FEED THE BEAST -really??

I'm going to choose to believe you renamed that before you passed me the login

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: congratulations

I forgot how failure makes you feisty. I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP. AND CAN WALK THERE WITH SCISSORS.

Let's hit the Grotto tonight.


 

**

There's a day and a half before Wardo's flight leaves, and they could be ordering Thai and watching last night's Top Chef, but Sean is stuck in one of those prolonged, meandering meetings that you sink into like quicksand and watch as it slowly drains your will to live. Mostly because some of the greatest technical minds of this age cannot work a $200 projector.

Wardo just came up with that strength-sapping metaphor, but it's completely accurate. Sean's pretty sure he just heard Chris yawn from under the conference table, which likely means his turn to change out the cables, turn nobs, and poke at the laptop's function keys is also doomed to failure.

Sean has declined to offer his services, in lieu of being the only one actually paying attention to Raeesa's proposal for raising capital. And just to prove, once and for all, that do-gooding does not pay: after all the planning and preparation that Sean was totally going to get to at some point, this is what brings the pretty awesome routine he's developed over the last several months to a sudden unsexy climax.

"Wardo agrees," Sean mentions (cause he does), not really thinking about anything but how hard it is to read his last text with the sun at that angle on his screen.

"What the FUCK?" Mark says.

"um," Sean says.

And there's a crack followed by the sick crunch of knee into electronics as Chris slams his head into the corner of the table, miscalculating the distance as he shoots up to (from the furious tone to his swearing) glare.

"Dustin would be happy about this," Sean informs him.

"Dustin wants you to leave Dustin out of your career suicide!"

"Wardo says someone should get the first aid kit for Chris," Sean relates dutifully. "Oh wait, shit. That was for me. Be right back."

**

think you need to come down n tell Mark not to fire me, Sean types to Wardo, shoving paper towel rolls and coffee filters out of the way with his elbows. It's good he's not bleeding to death or anything, because he'd probably pass out right there on the kitchen floor before he got to the band-aids that wouldn't do much for him anyway (there's a thought for later). no im not kidding

When he reenters the room it's obvious they'd been talking about him while he was gone, and not just because they're some of the least subtle bastards alive. Everyone but Chris, Dustin, and Mark have cleared out and they're looking at him like he's sprouted wings, all bug-eyed.

Nice one, the skin is actually split on Chris' forehead. Sean slides over his bounty so he can put his hands on his hips and properly communicate how deeply their faces offend him. "It's like you people think I have no depths."

"I thought you just grew up," Dustin says, nonplussed.

"Thanks? Or fuck you. Depends on how you meant that."

"Sean," Mark says, clearing his throat, "Can I speak to you in my office?"

*

And it's not that Sean comes completely clean (because, first of all, he's not dirty, exactly, this is like the best emotional and moral place he's been at since 16) (and, second of all, some things are just none of Mark's business), but he spills enough of his guts that Mark starts to get the picture. Sean can tell, because his face keeps getting twitchier.

"Since, right after the Million Members Party," Mark says blankly, fiddling with his empty dock station.

They've been staring at his desk for a while, like it's the most fascinating inanimate object in the world-- though it's mostly bare and the place where Mark put down his hand looks sticky from soda residue.

"You just--" Mark's blankness transitions into what could be indigestion. "Apologized?"

Sean's a little insulted that it should even be a question. It's like the fourth thing he's most awesome at; this is one of those bits they should legitimately pay him for. "Actually, he's at my house right now", Sean offers. "Spring break! Oh, and he's our consultant. Surprise?"

Mark's risen eyes tell Sean he is, in fact, surprised by this. And also seriously pissed off.

"It's not often I'm rendered speechless," Mark says. "But I have absolutely no prior context which would advise me on what to say to you right now."

"Okay: fair. But, see," Sean points out, "I started this whole thing to get him, um, back for you and stuff. So you’d stop looking like that."

"Like what?" Mark says.

"Like that," Sean says, pointing, and takes a step back. "But less sarcastic-face. And, hey, not so violent. When did you get all violent?"

"I am not violent," Mark says with murder in his eyes, "it’s counterproductive.”

"Right. About that: a story for later. But anyway, now that everything's not so theoretical, I'm thinking maybe it’s not such a good idea. You were pretty cold to him. So I'm feeling some concern, as a friend, about your intentions."

"This is the most ridiculous conversation I’ve ever had," Mark says, and walks out the door of his own office that he'd asked Sean to enter, as if to underline that statement.

"Dude, you don’t even know," Sean calls after him. "He’s, like, sensitive."

**

The empty office starts to feel a little accusing, which is a perfect match to the hallways and the swiveling heads as Sean takes a lap across the floor and back again, killing time and waiting for something brilliant to come to him. Which, Sean supposes, does eventually happen -- literally.

"Did you know he's outside for you?" Dustin says, racing up and rocking nervously on the balls on his feet, which makes Sean very ready for this day to be over, because apparently the world is conspiring to make him an absolute idiot.

"Oh shit," he says, with a few additional garbled adjectives that are mostly lost under the rising tide of what (on another less debonair man) might be called panic.

When he takes a casual stroll through the entrance Sean can see Chris has been keeping Wardo company with what knowledge he has of this clusterfuck-- which is completely unfair circumstantial evidence and, admittedly, nothing good. Wardo's pulled on the nicest jacket in his luggage and the shirt he wore when they went out for Italian. His hair's sticking up every which way from clutching fingers. He looks like he might have thrown up around the corner, off-color and sweating a little.

They turn when they see him, but don't say a fucking word before turning back to nod tersely at each other.

"Give me a couple minutes," Chris says, making an aborted motion to pat Wardo on the shoulder but clearly thinking better of it.

"They need me to sign a waiver and NDA," Wardo bites out as soon as Chris is out of sight, eyes locking onto Sean like one of those sci-fi tracker beams. "I must be nuts to be touching a single document here again without a lawyer present, but he showed me his head, which I'm sort of indirectly responsible for--"

"Nah, that was me," Sean breaks in, because the look on Wardo's face makes him feel queasy, like eating a bad burrito. Maybe it's the whiplash from going back in time, because Sean has been here before, except now he's not just there for the ride, stirring the pot and getting his licks in for the hell of it. This time it was Sean's choices, and right, this is why decisions and responsibility suck and he used to avoid them whenever possible.

"Oh, this is all you," Wardo continues icily, stalking him up against the doors. "Except, no, turns out this was all about Mark, like everything in my goddamn life. It had nothing to do with me. This was all just about getting Mark back into my good graces."

"No! I mean, yes," Sean admits, and hurries forward when Wardo takes it like a slap, like deep down he's been expecting Sean to deny it. "Yes, I have awesome plans – which, may I add, are coming to successful fruition. But that was only why I hit you up in the first place, for which you've already made me suffer. I have paid in cartilage! And it should totally count that I like you best now, when you’re not even the one who'll make me millionaire-- don’t tell him that." He pauses. "Fuck, nevermind, go ahead and tell him that. You'll need the ammo."

And then, thank christ, Wardo was laughing out loud like a joyous punch, pinched face gone red, flopping over with his head learning back against the building, brushing the company logo with an arm over his forehead. "You do not even know how funny that is," he gasps, when he catches his breath.

"No, no I do not," Sean says gratefully, sliding over to join him. "I think you are a deranged human being, but then I already knew that, so we're good. We're good, right?"

Wardo rolls his eyes, the little bitch, but the tension's dropped from his frame and he shrugs. "We're good."

"Okay, because all awesome plans aside, you do not have to go in there," Sean adds, because Mark's probably not actually going to fire him, and this is (disconcertingly) way more important anyway, so it has to be said. "We can leave for the day and never mention Mark again, except to the amount that would probably be deeply unhealthy, and you never have to think about Facebook finances again, except to probably listen to me bitch a lot about them, but none of that is required, at all."

"I know," Wardo says, and bumps their shoulders together.

"oh, I'm sorry, did you see your face? You so did not know."

"I forgot!" Wardo says, shoving him--always with the manhandling. "For a second!"

Luckily Sean's got balance like a ninja, and catches himself before he stumbles into a trash can. "You know, I'm thinking I'm the one who's been betrayed here. Where is the trust!"

"um," Dustin says from the doorway, "should I come back later?"

"No, I'm coming," Wardo says. "Don't worry about him, he's a crazy person."

"Actually, I'm becoming fairly certain that's you," Sean can hear Dustin begin as the front doors swing shut.

**

He checks his emails as he waits and runs over some numbers. It's a part of the job that he never expected to love, but it's a deliciously direct way to be right without having to argue (much).

Of course Wardo makes him startle and nearly drop the damn Blackberry as Sean thumbs at the keys, striding up silently around him. He smacks a rolled folder into the small of Sean's back as he passes, jerking it back before Sean can make more than a sloppy grab for it.

It's a forced playfulness -- Sean can see the weight of the setting in his face and the anxious energy in his walk.

"I'm heading back," Wardo says. "Pick you up at 5."

Something in Sean's everything must reveal how much he's not buying the nonchalance, and Wardo's hand is back to raking through his hair.

"So you're just gonna fly back tomorrow, like nothing happened."

"Nothing did," Wardo says, and starts towards the parking lot.

Sean halts him with a grab of his elbow. "I just want to know: what do you want? Cause you know I've got your back, whatever it is. You want in this company, you want that repressed dork in there who used your trust to steal from you and probably still loves you like crazy -- who gives a fuck if it's stupid, you can get that."

Wardo lets out a laugh with significantly less hysteria than the last outpouring. He's holding up well. "Reckless stupidity never stopped you before."

"Hells yeah," Sean agrees.

"I want him," Wardo says seriously, after a moment of silence. And Sean should really just burst into manly tears or some shit, cause he remembers all the times Wardo couldn't speak, the things Wardo could never say, and this is his fucking boy, right here, Sean fucking taught him that, to not be afraid to take. "I--I don't care."

"All right then," Sean cheers, slapping his back and slinging an arm over his shoulders.

He grabs the back of Wardo's neck as they part at the car, shaking him to and fro like the fierce little kitten that he is-- who'll grow into a freakin' Doberman, just you wait and see.

**


To: chris.hughes@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: thanx for that

real nice job freaking him out

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: chris.hughes@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

I can't believe I didn't put this together sooner, but I try to ignore most of what comes out of your mouth. I guess I underestimated your capacity to be yourself.

-

To: chris.hughes@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

yeah lol you're pretty slow

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: chris.hughes@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

I know you think your messes we've gotta clean up are real cute, and maybe we do owe you something, but sometimes you cross the line.

-

To: chris.hughes@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

someone's gotta keep you employed

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: chris.hughes@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

FUCK YOU. I don't even care this is company mail.

It really wasn't enough? Making him fucking replaceable?

-

To: chris.hughes@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

hey fuck you back. you don't get to think you're looking out for him when you picked Mark in the divorce.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: chris.hughes@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

Right, I forgot who I'm talking to. Basic human decency's beyond you.

-

To: chris.hughes@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: thanx for that

ouch! I'll let that go cause we left you alone to do paperwork crap and stew about it. You're in a dark place right now Mr Hughes... its a sorry sight indeed. how bout you check in with Mark first before you unleash the beast...


*

Mark's back in his office, but after that delightful exchange Sean decides to gear up before another mess and waits an hour looking over the month's operations expenses and playing a bit of Minesweeper.

Mark is not fine with him. But Mark is talking to him, which Sean does not confuse for anything other than the fact that he's the de facto Gatekeeper of Eduardo, a gate Mark would very much like to enter (yes, exactly like that. dirty). There's no point in lying about it now. They've all seen his reaction, the way Mark's hands have been trembling since that name's back in the office, since knowing Wardo's within the city limits.

"So this is the deal," Sean says. "You're coming over to my place tonight, to hang. He wants to see you. You want to see him. Home Run. I've got my concerns, but the way I figure it, the worse has already happened and if there's a next time I'm gonna be there, to, well, probably to watch him kick your ass. That fucker's scrawny but scary -- you seriously underestimate him. Which might be a little my fault, but you're a big boy."

"That's fine," Mark says, eying him cautiously. A far cry from the eager hero worship of their early days, but Sean's not the guy he was before-- for better or worse.

"So consider me the Love Doctor," he says. "How you gonna swing this? First words in months. What are we starting with?"

Every muscle in Mark's body seems to tighten up, like he's facing a firing squad. It's like every emotion in his face just got stripped away, like scraping off old wallpaper, and that will never stop making Sean both insanely jealous and seriously worried he was doomed to be supervillain. Mark swallows. "At the time, he wasn’t the right CFO for Facebook. I had to make that choice, but now I don’t, so it can be different."

"Yeah, no. You’re not gonna lead with that."

"Why not?" Mark says, taken aback.

He's understanding Wardo on a whole new level. Sometimes a deep sigh is like the only possible response. And then you gotta testify. "Cause I don't even know if you believe it? Cause you had a ton of options and you listened to my greedy ass and picked the worst one?" Sean sighs again, because yeah it works.

"Look pal, I never betrayed him. He wasn't shit to me then. And at the end of the day, I wasn't calling the shots. So my little olive branch was easy street. Thus, you're not going to lead with that."

Mark tries to cut him off, but Mark's never seen him on the other side of the deal table. "Hell no, this is what you’re gonna do: You’ll say that you’re an asshole, cause you are, and that if you could do it all again you’d find another way and just fire his ass like normal people and actual business professionals. Oh, and promise that the next time he pisses you off, you’ll just, I dunno, send rude texts to his mom from his phone or infect his machine with a virus that says ‘ur a dick’ every time he goes to check his email. And then suggest blow jobs."

Mark frowns, tilting his head. "If he pisses me off."

"No, with the apology. Fuck, do I have to do everything around here?"

**


To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: gameplan

FYI there is to be no screwing on my sofa.

BJs ok as long as somebody swallows. Told our boy to hit you up for it so I gotta accept the consequences.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: RE: gameplan

THERE WILL BE NOTHING OF THE KIND. wtf did you say to him?

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: gameplan

What, the plan is to TALK about it? You got to be kidding me. What could he possibly say that won’t be a cockblock? Nothing’s gonna turn back time, so move on with the sexin. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

EXCEPT LATER, NOT ON MY SHIT. I AM SO SERIOUS.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: RE: gameplan

I really want to know you said to him.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: gameplan

that his mom said you fuck like a pro

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: RE: gameplan

You know, that would not even surprise me.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: gameplan

I know that’s why I’m awesome. Hey order 2 larges from Peppinos before you head out.

We’ll pick em up on the way back.


**

Wardo shows up at ten minutes 'til, lingering at the receptionist's desk with wet hair and familiar ironed slacks.

"First my coffee, now my pants," Sean says, and slaps his ass.

And maybe he'd forgotten the acoustics, but it's not like his favorite place to hang. So it rings out like a shot -- receptionist looking at him like some kind of sex offender when Mark walks up, because mental note: universe still out to get him.

"uh, he's not an employee," Sean explains as Wardo makes wide-eyed, wounded faces at her over his shoulder (he doesn't need to see that shit to know it's happening, just the way her glare's getting all imaginary medieval on his most private of parts) and then smirks at Sean as he turns.

"You fucker," Sean hisses.

"I think I remind her of her grandson," Wardo says as make their way to the parking lot, clearly cheered by his misfortune. "His name is Steven."

Mark is silent, hands in his pockets and watching them weave around each other and the traffic cones. He's rocking the bitch-face he wears when he's feeling under attack, though Sean had given him a thumbs up and assorted encouraging hand flourishes after requesting that brunette instructor who believes in tight skirts over pantsuits if HR's gotta send him to another sexual harassment seminar.

But then it's the first time they've been face to face for months and Wardo hasn't spoken a word to Mark-- busy putting the aggressive in passive aggressive since, well, probably birth. Maybe they tutor little Brazilians in the cradle, along with emotional blackmail and tolerance of nonsensical art films made up of 70% feelings and 30% dialogue. (Seriously, Wardo picks the movie night again, like, never.)

Sean had almost forgotten this side of him and how goddamned annoying he used to think it was. Now it just makes him laugh and he shakes his head at Wardo, tipping it toward Mark and raising his eyebrows. There might have been an easing of Mark's game face, a flash of vulnerability, but Wardo just gets all shifty and fiddles with the keys, 'cause why be a Sean-helper when you could just ratchet up the tension an extra 20 degrees. Of course.

**

There was this one time, in ninth grade, when his mom came in with his laundry and almost caught him with a hand up Marcela Cruz's skirt. She'd heard the rustling, and he was so twitchy and nervous that she knew to open up his closet door to see Marcela standing there shaking with her arms crossed over her bare tits, tank top in her fist. His mom made him ride silently in the back all the way to Marcela's house to drop her off and speak with her dad.

For over ten years, that was the most awkward car ride Sean had ever experienced.

This is totally worse.

Mark's staring out the window from the back seat, phone still in his pocket, all intent like he hasn't seen the same boring ass street corners, with the same boring ass people making the same boring ass trek home, a thousand times before. Wardo's drumming his fingers against the dashboard and it's not even to a good song or something, so Sean could be obnoxious and start singing along until Wardo gives in, like sometimes happens over the phone when they're getting punchy and silly-sick from no sleep. It's just teeth grittingly repetitive. The other hand has Sean's steering wheel in a white knuckled grip, and he'd make some comment about driving his own damn car, except he thinks Wardo maybe needs a bit of control right now or he'd scream.

Sean tries to remember how his mom had breached the silence-- something about the test in World History ("do you have that period together?") and hadn't the teacher returned them yesterday and how Marcela did. Sean doesn't remember exactly what she'd answered but the score had been okay, not too embarrassing. She could have lied but they'd been so stupid-scared, so probably not.

"Just so you know, I'm going in," Sean finally says. "Last time you forgot no fucking peppers."

Wardo jerks a bit in his seat at the sudden icebreaker, then rolls his shoulders and huffs, "I told them. It's part of the sauce."

"ERRRR, wrong! Ingredients are clearly labeled on every take out menu. Sorry you're becoming senile in your advanced age, but it is no excuse for maligning my primary pizza providers."

Judging by the scowl on Mark's face at Wardo's chuckle, he clearly agrees. Some things are just sacred.

"You are so full of it," Wardo bitches good-naturedly, predictably forgetting his pre Big Gay Wedding jitters in the face of fast food logistics alliances and risking their precious lives by taking his eyes off the road to meet Mark's in the review mirror and look put upon. "You just want to leave us alone in here while you while you fuck around with your voice mail and eat the best bread sticks."

Sean joins Wardo's reflection and tucks his tongue into his cheek to make the universal blowjob sign to Mark with a fist pump. He gets an elbow in the side for it, which absolutely does not make him yelp (it's like the air getting impacted in his lungs or whatever, clearly the squeal of his violated rib cage).

"You are so grounded," Wardo mutters, like Sean's not totally, horrifically, the parental unit in this situation, and Mark's studying them both like he's an anthropologist witness to an alien culture equal parts fascinating and repelling. He's also a little flushed. Busted.

**

"Your pizza's probably cold," Mark says, peering up from his seat when Sean props the side door open with his hip.

"Our pizza, man," Sean says, settling the boxes on his lap.

Mark shifts his gaze to eye them cautiously, balancing the sides with his palms. "Our pizza's probably cold. And we didn't discuss anything more personal than a drop in the NASDAQ. I think your clever ruse can be considered a failure."

"I dunno, he didn't even sock you one. Frankly, I'm impressed."

"You need to stop telling everyone that," Wardo says.

"People could get the wrong idea," Mark agrees. "Though on further consideration, I am short one laptop and he's been doing an inordinate amount of wincing in pain today."

"He gave it to me good last night," Sean says cheerfully, sliding back into the passenger seat.

"I'm going to assume that was sarcasm."

"I hate you so much," Wardo says.

Sean winks back at Mark and receives a light flicker of a smile. "Ha, you love us both."

**

Dinner goes over well, once everyone's reset their expectations.

(Sean had turned to Mark. "Was there something you wanted to say?"

"There are a lot of things I'd like to say. Should I start with, 'why are you standing in the way to the door?'"

"Things you'd like to say to Wardo."

"Right," Mark said, nodding towards Wardo but avoiding his eyes. "I'm an asshole, alternate methods of personal violation, et cetera."

"Guess not," Sean said, and led them and the pizza into the house.)

Sean does not believe in solving problems on an empty stomach (or without sufficient leverage) (preferably narcissism, greed, and insecurity) (in that order). He can, but he doesn't have to like it.

He plops the stacked boxes on the coffee table and kicks a spare sandal under the sofa. An avalanche of DVDs is still sprawled about, but otherwise the place looks how it mostly looks -- worse than the quote-un-quote housewarming, better than The Night Of The Wretched Message Chris Says We Do Not Speak Of.

He'd decided to rent back when Chris mentioned how it might be perceived as more than a little strange to still be mooching off your CEO. And by mentioned, he means constant pointed nagging, stemming from Sean's status as a less than impressive Mark influence. But when you're right, you're right. It wasn't as if he didn't have the money-- though it's a bit jarring to have to go back to paying all your own bills.

He paid for that sofa, which is a great fucking sofa and with cushions that are not scratchy against your face and nor at all prone to sliding away from the backing. Which are vile, unsubstantiated accusations that Dustin could not have even made if he was man enough to crawl back to the game room after a night cap or twelve. (so the place really hasn't looked better since the housewarming, but that's why it's called breaking it in)

Mark shifts one of Wardo's shirts from the sofa arm, fingering it first in a way that he'd likely deny was anxious. The fact that it was flung there means Wardo probably went through three or four shirts before leaving to pick them up, but that deduction's something Sean decides to keep to himself.

In the corner there's a Harvard sweatshirt where Sean had kicked off his running shoes yesterday. An unzipped suitcase is leaning against the far wall. 2 dirty coffee cups can be seen resting on an end table. Sean watches Mark's wacked processor brain take this in with laser focus, like the room makes Wardo more real than watching him shed his jacket and drop off the keys. Mark's leaning back against the cushions in a painfully casual pose-- elbow propped up, slipping down, and then re-positioned with hopes that no one noticed (and, okay, maybe Dustin was onto a bit of something there).

Sean is not without pity and gestures to him to help get the drinks and plates from the kitchen.

"Remember when Daimler-Benz joined with Chrysler Corp?"

"Why would that be something I remember?" Mark says, which isn't the point, so Sean ignores him.

"It was billed as a merger of equals. The leaders expected to reap the financial and operational benefits of two integrated, complementary businesses. But insiders soon reported that no one on either side agreed upon, or truly understood, how all the promised synergies would be realized." He passed the plates over, flipping open the fridge to start snagging bottles and tossing words over his shoulder.

"It was supposed to be this great leap forward in the automotive industry, but the two companies' concerns never aligned. It was a cultural mismatch and the concessions were lop-sided, with German manufacturer Daimler-Benz too married to its rigid, formal structure. Approximately 10 years later, DaimlerChrysler would change its name back to Daimler and pay Cerberus Capital Management $650 million dollars to take off its hands what it had paid $36 billion dollars to gain."

"I'm not German," Mark says.

"I'm not implying you are."

Mark nods. "You're implying I should try again."

"There might be implications," Sean concedes.

"You realize," Wardo says from the living room, "that I'm standing right here."

"At least you got to be the American analogy," Mark snaps.

And then, probably recalling that Sean's set aside a considerable amount of invaluable time to help him do some ass kissing, half-smiles a little sheepishly as Wardo tries very hard not to appear fond.

*

There are few situations in which mozzarella is not the answer. They settle around the coffee table and it's comfortable enough, Sean and Wardo cross-legged on the floor, Mark peering down at the peons as is his wont.

"This is like that one time. After the presentation, at that drugstore," Sean says, because it is.

It's a seriously amazing story (and Sean knows, because he's told it to four other people), but Mark doesn't seem to be appreciating it much.

"You're telling it wrong," Wardo says (which is a vicious lie) and steals his beer (leaving maybe two sips, unkind!).

"Tell him about the karaoke trip with those Phoenix dicks," he suggests, because that one involves Wardo and nakedness, which has got to be right up Mark's alley, but Mark spends it picking at his pizza crust and the browned edges of cheese, eyes down and scandalously unimpressed.

This is obviously because Wardo had to hog the story, like it even matters that Sean wasn't there.

He does the double snap and point. "For further reference, I've got dibs on the one where I got you out of a bar fight. From 3,000 miles away."

Wardo scoffs, kicking a foot out to prod Mark's for back up. "'Give them the phone!' That should not have worked. I could be dead right now."

"You could be thanking me right now. I'm a master wordsmith."

"You told them I was your brother. How did that even work in your head?"

"They clearly found you less than intimidating. What, I'm going to threaten them with being the best friend, company officer and entrepreneur? Like they wouldn't assume you hang with pussies. Family could be six foot five and mobbed up. I threw in some Spanish, close enough - think I said chicken of my anus. Anyway, I bet your face was awesome. Am I right?"

"Hilarious," Mark says, stabbing his slice with a toothpick for emphasis.

Boy's gotta let the whole deep-dark-months-long-secret go. That was so four hours ago. So they proceed to ragging on Stanford's new donation statue and the phallic symbolism that is not at all imaginary (since he's got only slightly doctored pics on his phone to prove it).

They earn a brief laugh. But Sean has hands clapped around Wardo's shoulders to squeeze the breath out of him and mock his animated face - which is finally filling Mark in on their emergency room reintroduction (with transparent attempts to defend his egregious, ungentleman-like behavior) - when Mark stands up and says,

"I'll be heading off."

And maybe he'd been doing that whole "monopolizing" thing again (whatever Wardo), but mom always said that if a Parker's alive his mouth's gotta be moving. Shark's gotta swim, you know.

"Stay," Wardo says, before Sean can make things worse.

And because Wardo's Wardo, Marks sits down and updates them about an article he read on Slashdot and all the horrendous interview tactics he's pretty sure they can get away with after spending all Wednesday night reviewing California labor code.

*

"You know there are people who could do that for you?" Wardo says.

"Closed minds might distort the results."

"So you already asked Layla," Sean says.

"I think she might seriously dislike me."

Wardo snorts. "I think it's mostly that she recognizes it's a terrible idea."

"And I might have gotten plastered and blamed for you crushing Wardo's delicate spirit," Sean admits when Wardo goes to take a leak.

"I'm sure she was relieved to hear there were selfless individuals such as yourself to guide him in his time of need," Mark says. "But perhaps the blinding hypocrisy prevented you from supplying her with further details."

"Touché."

*

They polish off 10 slices with inadvisable speed and debate the likelihood that anyone at Facebook is actually qualified to fix a projector and the general lack of intersection between great programmers and infrastructure experts.

When Wardo goes to toss a beer bottle in the recycling bin, Mark lurches up to follow him, catching up when Wardo's hands are free and grabbing one, rubbing his thumb over the back of it. Wardo's face does this distressing wobble, which means Sean should probably glance away. But if Zuckerberg flames out he refuses to miss that much potential for schadenfreude. Mark leans forward to press their mouths together and Wardo inhales sharply, eyes closing for a moment, then he's blinking them open and taking a startled step back. He stops Mark from pressing closer but lets him keep the hand.

You could cut the tension with the knife, but Sean's just not the violent type. "Well, look at the time."

"Could you do that in your room?" Wardo says, without looking away from Mark's face.

"It's like you read my mind."

Wardo's left hand flexes, telegraphing how much he wants to lift it and touch his mouth, the romantic fool he that he is. "And what I am thinking right now?"

"That it's a terrible idea to leave you alone with him but you want me to anyway."

"Sean," Wardo says, strained and on the dangerous edge of a full-out flail.

"Wow, that was such a Mark moment. I'm having Mark moments. You need take your job back right now."

Mark's looking at him as if questioning the wisdom of his further employment as well. "It's disconcerting how terrible you are at this."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Sean says.

"Sean!" Wardo shouts.

*

So Sean excuses himself to his room to watch Frankenfish and think about all his genius maneuverings that even got the two of them in a house together in the first place, thank you very much. Things were maneuvered, he starts to type out to Wardo, and then thinks better of it (since, okay Wardo mostly knows better and also it's a sore subject).

It was a strategic retreat. He's made of strategy.

Text received from El Wardo 8:31 pm PST:
fuck fuck what do i do

Text sent to El Wardo 8:32 pm PST:
bitch didnt dad tell you bout the birds and the bees lol

Text sent to El Wardo 8:32 pm PST:
jk

Text sent to El Wardo 8:32 pm PST:
just pretend its me but less hot. tell him what's going on with you.

**

The next morning, Wardo looks too pleased with himself for Sean’s peace of mind. "Tell me there’s no Zuckerberg spunk on my mattress."

Wardo shrugs. "Wouldn’t you like to know."

**

"OKAY THERE IS NO SPUNK ON YOUR MATTRESS," Wardo admits five minutes later before Sean can get his head entirely under the facet with the dirty dishes.

They've really got to work on his ability to hold up under pressure.

**

Mark doesn't ask to accompany them to the airport and is smart enough not to expect Wardo to stay. He leaves the house with an awkward arm slap that ends with a tug at the tips of Wardo's fingers, but it's the kind of awkward that causes happy creases in Wardo's face so Sean valiantly resists from pointing out the shameful lack of tongue and ass grabbing.

It's not avoidance if you have, you know, things to do, so Sean takes a half day to watch Wardo pack and make coffee and talk nonsense. He gives it four hours or less until Wardo starts second-guessing every move he's made, ever (including a conversation that apparently included bitter accusations, confessions of undying affection with an accidental side of kinky spanking fantasies, and a couple vigorous door slammings that Sean had slept through).

"Do you think that was too easy?" Wardo says as he's hoisting his bags out of the trunk.

"Absolutely," Sean says, "The last five times you did something like this were a disaster."

"Dick," Wardo says, and they side-hug over the luggage as cars start to honk.

*

Apparently their dramatic floor-show had repercussions. Luckily, they're hilarious repercussions.

The coffee pot gossip tree has informed Sean, via two gleeful temps, that one of the accountants said that one of the interns heard that the CFO was having an affair with the CEO's wife ('no, he's not married, she's just his girlfriend')('oh, right, but they live together'), and when she showed up to tell them she was pregnant the CFO bashed that gay VP's head into a window (which seems a bit out of place until they explain about the previous failed affair).

"Ours is a love that dare not speak its name," Sean muses, "though, to be fair, that's mostly due to Hughes' blinding hatred", and if they look at him like he's flipped his lid, it's nothing like the faces he gets when he introduces himself.

He pops into his account in hopes of further sordid details and sees Mark's unfriended him, because he's a petty bitch.

"Really?" he asks, poking his head into Mark's office on the way to the server room.

"That is the purpose of the feature," Mark says. "To catalog the current state of one's social circle."

"Now I'm hurt," Sean says.

"No you're not."

"No I'm not," Sean has to agree. "Probably because I know you're full of shit."

Mark's eyebrows are eloquent in their response to this accusation.

"Yeah well, Wardo's crashing with me all summer. So whatever," Sean says smugly, taking his leave with a merry salute, and then pops his head back in to add, "Though don't tell him that, he doesn't know yet."

*

"So should I expect to be kidnapped or were you betting on uncovering prime blackmail material?" Eduardo says when he dials in that night.

"Hold that thought," Sean says. "Gotta go adjust a Facebook status."

*

Predictable jackassery aside, Mark's energized at work in a way that Sean had mostly forgotten he could be, like he's remembered when it used to be for fun. There's this extra force in the spin of his swivel chair and he's cracking his fingers with anticipation.

It makes Sean wonder how long this place had held sick, corrosive memories for Mark, driving him to justify every good one piling up-- which is depressing as hell, so he fucks off to take an early lunch.

It's possible he brings the dork back a bagel and alerts him with a quick squeeze of the shoulder, but they've got an afternoon session with the Dev Lead and, well, low blood sugar makes anybody cranky (it's like self-defense).

And it's not like he can't, as if they aren't talking, except in the way that Mark is mostly not speaking to him at all outside of Facebook context.

Truthfully, it's maybe not as easy as Wardo fears it is, because there's that whole aspect where he has to sit through "open discussions" about intellectual property, information security, and what is appropriate to forward to outside parties. And though Dustin protests that he really doesn't need to be there, he's 35 minutes late to an actual date with an actual woman and swears suffering, bloodshed, and a pox on the noble house of Parker. (The sudden wipe of Sean's Contacts file and the spike in granny porn spam in his personal mail is probably not a coincidence.)

He gets a bagel dropped back on Tuesday, though, which is definitely bro code for, 'since it was also my fault I guess I'll eventually forgive you for stealing my other half'.

*


Text received from El Wardo 7:22 am PST:
did you tell him to do this?

Text sent to El Wardo 9:03 am PST:
do what?

Text received from El Wardo 9:04 am PST:
check your inbox

Text sent to El Wardo 9:12 am PST:
holy shit zuckerberg

Text received from El Wardo 9:13 am PST:
there's 10 just like it


 

It turns out that Mark's been putting his disinclination for quality Sean-time to productive use, marking up every Facebook related document that Eduardo has ever authored. There are notes per paragraph. There are notes on notes. And Eduardo's a detail-oriented motherfucker, so there's a fuckton of those.

This from a man infamous for never commenting his code (which Wardo well knows), despite all weeping and rending of fellow programmer garments. No one must ever tell Dustin. Somehow this would end up being Sean's fault, and he'd never get Outlook working properly again as long as he lives.

 


To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers
Attachments: EOM.xls, NovForecast.xls, LigtnCorpv5.ppt, AdPriceModel-final.ppt

SEE ATTACHED!!

So, was this you?

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

LOL NO. mostly because that's obsessive and CRAZY


 

Obsessive and the most boring version of stalkery, except Wardo liked it--that much was obvious. That little freakazoid, this was totally working for him. Which actually does make sense when Sean stops a moment to ponder, but who is this Mark who even acknowledges when people do shit for him.

It'll tragic if the best gig he's had in years is derailed by his boss being replaced by a pod person.

(Also, pod people are not allowed to bang Wardo. Sean's still figuring out this whole symbiotic, non-parasitic relationship deal, but he's pretty sure that's one of those things he's definitely not okay with.)


To: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

Look at you, going off script.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

I'd been meaning to send some feedback.

-

To: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

NICE TRY.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

I can listen.

-

To: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

hey I know that, man.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

Do you know how many times I expressed "any form of thanks" during the course of our friendship?

Apparently twice. Possibly. There was some debate on the specifics.

It has also become apparent that you regularly bombard him with compliments. Though, let's be honest, at least 1/4 of that count should be ascribed to your mutual preoccupation with men's fashion and discarded for comparison.

-

To: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

we're different guys.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: Fwd: Jan numbers

I'm well aware of that.


 

It's the most protracted and irregular non-apology that Sean has ever borne witness to by proxy. And it's hurtful, frankly, that a thinly veiled seduction campaign is being waged without Sean's superior experience and expert advice.

True, Wardo has no need to seduce himself. But if he ever met his clone or alternate universe counterpart, at least he'd totally ask Sean how to go about it.

("You'll be the first person I call," Wardo assures him.

"Fucking right.")

Then Mark, the incorrigible show off, has to step it up with a litany of memories in sporadic texts, emails, and voice mails.

you thought I was half asleep but I remember the story of how your mother taught you to ride a bike / I know you hate french onion soup / Peter Drucker is your favorite lecturer / you have an unnatural tolerance for stale chips / you promised that someday you'd make me try fried bananas / there was a week in freshman year where the only thing you would talk about other than classes was how much you hated Atlas Shrugged and I started trying to set you off on purpose because your rage was entertaining and so on, and so on.


To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Fwd: you

alright, now you have to stop him.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: you

no I don't think that I will.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: Fwd: you

I don't know what to do with this.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: you

I really think that you do.


*

When Sean was far younger and stupider, he thought he could take on the world and prove something to his self-satisfied college graduate cousins and the sneering quarterback down the street, with his parties Sean wasn't invited to and a parents-purchased Mercedes. (So there wasn't actually a girlfriend who dumped him)(whatever, they've got bigger issues). It never made him rich but it made him shockingly famous to the people who counted, and he made sure to shove every second of it into everyone's faces who'd doubted him. And took off before fingers could point the other way.

Mark claims to have better things to do than hold grudges, but then he's also the least in touch with his own emotional state of all the inexpertly socialized geeks that Sean has ever met. There could be nothing less forgivable than making him play the fool, so, to be honest, Sean should have been screwed by now in ways even he couldn't anticipate. He would have done no less himself.

Except Mark's not so out of sync as to miss how big a misstep it would be to remind Wardo of his more ruthless tendencies. Realizing you have something to lose is absolutely mortifying; Sean can sympathize.

It's inevitable, then, that in a matter of weeks even the silence breaks down.

In practice, it's more effort than it's worth to avoid conversation with someone you see everyday. Sean knows that Mark yearns for a future without offices-- the promise of no fixed, communal location full of breathing, chattering, constant threats of interruption. But in the here and now he's stuck with bathroom trips and bumping shoulders in the hallway and the vending machine they've just installed in the office-pretending-to-be-a-break-room. Mark gives it a try, no doubt, but like Mrs. Tillman always said, Sean's a wily customer.

Still, Sean hypothesizes repeated occurrences of epic phone sex when Mark actually asks after his weekend plans and stretches the end of an evening meeting to ridicule the last desperate MySpace update, over Red Bulls and a bag of Doritos. It's forced, that first time, but though practice makes perfect it's also really lame. So they get it together after the second stilted chat, and Sean even convinces Mark that they must bump fists like men.

*

The ulterior motive soon becomes clear. Subterfuge should really be left to less fidgety individuals. (Sometimes Sean marvels that the boy's got this far. And then he remember the Winklevoss suit and how easy Mark found it to get his CFO down to sign. And then he gets a little uneasy himself.)

"What does he--" Mark begins, and then pauses, folding himself back into his chair though he'd been leaving for home. "Do you think it's been enough? Gestures aren't my specialty."

"I don't think that's for me to say," Sean says, mostly just to fuck with him.

"I don't think it's possible for you not have an opinion," Mark points out, like Sean doesn't know he was born a nosy, know-it-all sonofabitch.

He considers leaving the guy high and dry, but, see above.

"There was a lot of talk about how we didn't know what this was." Sean finally says, after turning it over in his head a bit, and gestures to the open door and clack-clack of keyboards. "And that's part of delivering a vision-- not trying to feel it out too fast, letting it breathe. But there's the part we were missing, where tossing the road map doesn't mean you aren't going places."

"Just that you won't be ready for where you end up," Mark finishes for him, head bobbing impatiently, because he'd been there too when it dawned, for that bit of scrambling.

"I didn't actually want it to go down that way with Napster," Sean admits. "Bankrupt internet revolutionary isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Not that you should spread that around."

Mark shrugs. "I realize we got lucky."

"And you didn't get that extension for free."

Mark's gaze sweeps down to the table. "Get to the part I don't know."

That's not gonna happen, which makes him laugh a little. "You need to figure out what you want to have with him-- what you'll be to him every day, for real."

Mark thrusts his hands in his pockets, kicks at the table leg. "Did you know the first marriage divorce rate in America has a range of 41 to 50 percent? In a second marriage it's 60 to 67 percent."

"Guess your gameplan had better be good."

*

Mark makes the whole floor squirrelly by meeting with the company lawyers every day for a week. The ones who've been with them since their headquarters had bedrooms and a bong stand are glancing suspiciously every time a folder's dropped on their desk. Sean likes to make a loud bang and see who adds an extra, proprietary hand to their appliances.

One of the new arrivals has opened an online petition with carefully vague but scathing wording, affirming the general idea that Chris and Sean's forbidden passion shouldn't be a fireable offense. ("There are some groups you could contact," Sean is kindly informed, with a business card pressed into his hand.)

Sean can't decide if Zuckerberg would be amused or disdainful at their horror, if he were in any state to notice.

When he's not with counsel, or looming over the sys admin's shoulder for the recent latency issues, Mark's tapping intently into his phone with a deeply unnatural Mark face. (It's -- Sean might have seen flashes of dimples on occasion, true, and they had some sincerely good times before things went to shit, but this is prolonged dreaminess. This is a certain softness he doesn't recall, and it lingers after the phone's put down, as Mark looks at things twice - soda cans, notepads, the back of a chair to lean across - like he's unsure for a moment where exactly he is, where they came from.)

*


To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: dustin.moskovitz@facebook.com
Subject: none shall pass

i will not be seduced to the dark side. just so you know.

-

To: dustin.moskovitz@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: none shall pass

ok

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: dustin.moskovitz@facebook.com
Subject: Re: none shall pass

i'm just saying. I shall be the lone ranger. The pure uncorrupted soul.

-

To: dustin.moskovitz@facebook.com
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: none shall pass

ok

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: dustin.moskovitz@facebook.com
Subject: Re: none shall pass

I know all about your man-shakes and brazilian charming and pub crawls and weird cult figure status with the temps.

I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER PAL.

There is absolutely no power on this earth that could tempt me! I walk alone!

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Fw: Re: none shall pass

do you think I should send him flowers?

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

go ahead i'm busy

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

i really think I should

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

then do it

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

I think he's feeling left out.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

I think YOU'RE feeling left out.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

I think you're still pissy with me.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

3AM SEAN.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

I had a brainstorm

EMERGENCIES WARDO.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

I bet you aced that case anyway. I bet your righteous anger fueled you.

-

To: sean.parker@facebook.com
From: esaverin@harvard.edu
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

No comment.

Seriously, yes, go have a play date with Dustin.

-

To: esaverin@harvard.edu
From: sean.parker@facebook.com
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: none shall pass

sweet.

think I'll just keep replying back OK until he flips out. then we'll do lunch.


*

The Parker-Moskovitz Treaty of Palo Alto has 3 conditions:

1. Both parties will be offered full participation in any future developed international crime rings or worldwide take-over attempts.

2. Verbal ceasefire will be upheld in the presence of greater enemies (e.g. new!Natalie, 4pm FedEx dude, Mark when he's angry)

3. Snapping fingers at programmers like they're trained dogs is agreed to be unacceptable, a little patronizing, and really really annoying.

*

It's only a matter of days before Wardo caves and shelves his summer internship plans, like it was ever in doubt.

"I've decided to accept that your entrance into my life has permanently handicapped all potential career paths," he mumbles wearily into crossed arms, face hidden from the webcam.

"Or you realized you'd miss me desperately," Sean suggests with malicious cheer.

"I think it's the first one," Wardo says, middle finger raised.

"I'll even allow sexual Zuckerberg congress on my premises," Sean says. One should be magnanimous in victory. "But you're cleaning your own sheets."

Wardo's head pops up, gelled hair in snarled tuffs. "Don't tell him."

"Nah, can't have him getting cocky," Sean agrees, and tilts his head. "Has anyone ever told you that you look like a baby hedgehog after 3am?"

"Definitely the first one," Wardo lies.

"You get all... spiny. And it's the nose too."

"Are you high?"

"Just half a joint with Chris," Sean says. "We've bonded over torrid workplace rumors. Aww, you're all curling in on yourself while I'm watching. This is amazing."

"I'm seriously questioning my life choices right now."

"I know, right? How did I miss this?"

"Kill me now," Wardo says, but it's a little halfhearted and his chin stays raised, propped up on his wrists.

*

"It's done," Mark says with nervous pride. "I forgot he had that adviser meeting, but I left a message."

"You proposed over voice mail?" Dustin squawks.

"What? No, I asked him to sign on to Facebook permanently. Make it official. I sent over the terms."

"Yeah, same difference," Dustin says, arms folded over his chest, and Sean is inclined to agree.

*

Wardo shows up at the front desk 21 hours later. He has the receptionist page Sean and Sean's eyes deliver an incontrovertible psychic message to Dustin that he doesn't want to miss this. On the way to pick up the package of doom he sends a warning text to Chris, because (a) united conspiracy figures and (b) additional witnesses might be problematic.

Wardo's got his serious business frown on and Sean and Dustin fall in behind him as he strides down the hall, to rip open the back-office-we-pretend-is-a-conference-room's door and consequently climb right into Mark's lap.

Unsurprisingly, Mark flushes down to the base of his neck, swallowed by the hood of his sweater, and fumbles with the speakerphone.

"I'll get back to you."

Wardo's mouth is on him before Mark's shaky fingers manage to disconnect the call, any questions swallowed by the soft bite he gives Mark's bottom lip before he deepens the kiss.

Chris smacks the button with a raised eyebrow and, okay, so they're kind of watching them go at it-- which is awkward. But also pretty funny, because Mark keeps making this startled almost-squeak when Wardo starts to lean slightly back but clutching hands at his waist can get him to press closer. Like Mark can't quite believe what's happening to him and how good it feels (and, right, there's the awkward again).

"I'm only staying the weekend," Wardo pulls away to announce brightly. "But I thought this is something we should handle in person."

(That was totally Sean's idea. Fuck neutral ground, this needs to take place at a site of emotional resonance and hormones and peer pressure and memories of shattered Wardo dreams.)

Wardo's smile is as sharp and satisfied as it should be. "I was advised to ask for a Golden Parachute. And stock options. A lot of them."

"oh fuck," Mark says dizzily, "Sean is such a traitor."

Which, admittedly, is pretty much true.

Sean is not a perfect guy. There are seriously dozens of things he does horribly, like stir fry, and database design, and telling Wardo 'no', and fist fights. He knows he can be loud, a bit (a lot) reckless. He's still learning to listen in a different way, like with his heart and shit -- something sappy like that -- instead of just picking up the details to mimic back (copy, search, replace).

It's not like he started this to land a job where the buck stops here. He catches up on email and texts too much during power lunches. He still promises big and delays delivery. He'll farm out the heavy lifting, if you let him get away with it.

If you invite him to drop by, he'll clean you out of chips and beer.

So maybe there will never be a brand new day where he stops fucking people over. Maybe there's only so many tricks an old dog can learn. But taking a side that's not his own is a new one. And with Wardo laughing at him over Mark's shoulder, it has to be said: Sean Parker couldn't care less.

 

-the end-