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Settling Accounts

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"I wanted to tell you this in person," Mark says, looking a little solemn and a little lost and a lot like he hasn't smiled or, God forbid, laughed for months and months now, and Eduardo thinks shit because Mark always looks a little solemn and a little lost, and the fact Eduardo still notices these things, that he still cares can't possibly mean anything good.

On the plus side, Mark's never been very - well, let's call it 'empathic'. Figuring out other people's feelings has never been Mark's forte. Eduardo suspects it may be because a big part of Mark's still too busy figuring out his own - or trying to decide if he even has any.

So, presumably, Mark's not going to be making puppy eyes at him here and get Eduardo to settle for, say, a genuine, heartfelt apology and a firm handshake, or something along those lines.

"Tell me what?"

Mark puts two sets of papers in front of him. "The one on the left is from the lawyers. The one on the right is from me. Your choice."

Your choice. As if anything between them has ever been that simple.

The lawyers offer money, as expected. Arguably, it's a lot of money. Mark isn't really a money-minded person, so Eduardo can picture his lawyers coming to him with this number - a bit wary, expecting their client to talk them down to, say, half of this number.

He can picture Mark reading the number and shrugging, saying sure, whatever, let's do that.

He can picture the lawyers looking at each other, maybe one of them venturing a careful but of course this is just a first suggestion, we might go a bit lower, and Mark shaking his head no, the whole thing already slipped from his mind, crossed off of his To Do list.

Eduardo is a money-minded person (in no small part because, well, someone has to be) but, apparently, not to the point where he can look at this very large number and be happy.


Mark's offer.

Eduardo reads it slowly the first time and then forces himself to read the whole thing again before allowing himself to believe that it is what it is, which is -

"Holy shit."

"Not quite the reaction I was hoping for," Mark says.

Eduardo doesn't look at him. He's not sure what he's going to see on Mark's face. "No? What was the reaction you were hoping for, then?"

"Yes would be nice."

Eduardo reminds himself to keep breathing. He also tells himself that violence has never solved anything, and that, of all the times to grab Mark and shake some sense into him, this one is not ideal.

Besides, it's probably a case of 'too little, too late'. Assuming it would work in the first place.

"Are you crazy?" He knows the answer to that, of course. He used to kind of like that about Mark.

"A shitload of money or half my shares. Undillutable shares, this time," Mark says. "You should know what the smart choice is."

"That's not what your offer is," Eduardo says. "Your offer's not about shares, Mark."

"Of course it is." Mark's tone is reasonable. Unemotional. Calm.

"Did you - " Eduardo licks his too dry lips. "Did you discuss this with anyone else? Did someone put you up to this? Sean, maybe? Did you think it would be funny?"

"Fun, maybe. Minus New York." Mark's chair creaks a little. "I miss you. This seemed like a good way of making sure we both get what we want."

"You have no idea what I want," Eduardo says. He thinks: my father would kill me. For real, this time.

"Then tell me," Mark says. "I can't promise you that you'll get it, obviously, but come on. Try me. Speak up now, or forever hold your peace."

"I don't know you anymore." Eduardo's not too sure that he knows himself, either, for that matter. Even now, even after all the shit that's gone down, there's still a part of him that wants to take Mark's offer - take a chance and see what happens.

"That's not a request. That's a statement. A personal opinion."

"A valid opinion," Eduardo says.

Mark shrugs. "You have yours and I have mine. Do you want to know me anymore? If so, then here's your chance. If not, then take the other offer. It's all the same to me."

"What happened to 'I miss you'?"

"You didn't seem to return the sentiment," Mark says. "Do you?"

"Like ... like waking up in a room that smells like beer. And gym socks."

"That's not so bad," Mark says. "Could be worse."

Eduardo doesn't ask how?. "You seriously expect me to consider this other ... offer?"

"It's made in good faith. And, as I told you, taking the shares would probably be the smartest choice, money-wise. You want to get rich, this is how you can do that."

"You know, you can just - "

"Shove it up my ass?" Mark suggests.

"Ask," Eduardo says, hating himself just a little bit for giving in. "I mean, damn it, Mark. You can't even ask someone to fucking marry you like a normal person?"

"I'm not a normal person," Mark says. "Thus, by extension, neither are you. Normal persons are not best friends with not normal persons. They can't be. It doesn't work that way."

"Why am I even considering this?"

Mark's chair creaks again. "Look, I admit that I made some mistakes."

Eduardo waits for more, something a bit closer to an actual apology. He probably should have known better; Mark's no bigger on apologies than he is on empathy.

"Will you marry me and let me give you half of my worldly possessions? Pretty please?"

"Traditionally, you should get down on one knee when you propose," Eduardo says.

"These trousers are brand new and I've been told they cost a fortune. How about we just pretend I proposed to you all properly and you take it from there?"

Eduardo's always liked to think ahead, to make plans. To dream, not big, but in just the right size. He knows where he wants to be two weeks, or two months, or half a year from now, and it's not Facebook. It's not married to Mark Fucking Zuckerberg.

"I'll take the shares."

"Thank you," Mark says.

"And I'm buying you a chicken."

"Very romantic. You wouldn't happen to have a laptop with you, would you? I need to update my relationship status."