Disclaimer: This work is based on the characters as portrayed in the movie The Social Network, not real people. And, obviously, I’m not making any money from this.
Your Fluttering Fingers On My Skin (They Set Me On Fire)
If there’s a thing in the whole wide world that Mark will admit to completely sucking at, that is dancing. Even when he was forced to take classes, people (Chris and Dustin, because, seriously, who else would Mark allow to humiliate him in such a way as teaching him how to dance?) still enquired upon the quantity of alcohol he ingested before the lesson. Which is exactly why Mark tries very, very hard to get out of these charity-opening-dance-required events. But this time, even Chris (who has actually seen Mark attempting to dance, and hence has supported him skipping a considerable amount of these) is saying this is just one too many. Plus, it’s really, really important, not to mention good for publicity.
This is how Mark finds himself, three weeks before the event from hell (not really, but it might as well be Mark’s death), phoning Eduardo. Eduardo, who hasn’t exactly been on the greatest of terms with Mark but is still the only person Chris, Dustin and Mark could come up with when thinking of someone to teach Mark.
“Wardo,” Mark says into the receiver, mentally slapping himself. It’s Eduardo.
“Don’t ca…” Eduardo starts, sounding tired on the other end of the line. “What do you want?”
“I…” Mark doesn’t know how to put this. It’s so pathetic.
“I… Well, here’s the thing. Next month there’s this ridiculous charity event that I’ve been skipping for years because that’s not really my thing except this year it seems like I’ll have to go, or at least that’s what Chris says, and you know how he gets when he sets his mind on something, so I’ve been practically forced to attend by my own board, which is even more ridiculous than the event itself seeing as I can just fire them at any given moment, but apparently that would be bad press, too, so I’m socially stuck with this event that for some godforsaken reason involves an opening dance.”
Mark waits for Eduardo to say something.
“That’s… an obnoxiously long run-on sentence, Mark,” Eduardo finally replies, and Mark can almost swear he can hear him snickering on the other end. Oh, great.
“I need to learn how to dance.”
It’s just that simple.
“Of course you do.”
“So what’s a good time for you?” Mark asks, wondering how many meetings he has and how many of those he can reschedule or completely cancel.
“For me to what?”
Mark shrugs. Then he realizes Eduardo can’t see him.
“To teach me,” he answers.
“How about, never, Mark.”
Eduardo’s reply takes Mark by surprise. In fact, he has to make sure Eduardo even said something. He never says things like that. That’s just… rude. Eduardo isn’t rude. He’s polite and kind, and, essentially, every mother’s wish come true.
“What?” Mark asks, blinking.
“You heard me, Mark.”
“But, Wardo. You know how much I suck at this. Come on, do you really think I’d call you if it wasn’t necessary?” Mark argues. Which, you know, it isn’t a lie. But then, it also sounded totally different in Mark’s head.
“That’s the problem, Mark. You call me when you need me, and for everything else, I’m just as disposable as a paper cup, am I not?” Eduardo sighs into the receiver. “Do you realize this is the first call I’ve gotten from you since the lawsuit? Has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t be asking to call in favors you clearly don’t deserve?”
“Is that still a no?” Mark asks immediately because it’s the first thing that comes to his mind.
Then he mentally slaps himself for putting his foot in his mouth in such a spectacular manner.
“What do you think, asshole?” Eduardo replies just before he hangs up on Mark.
Chris is not going to be impressed by this.
* * *
Mark does not eavesdrop. It isn’t any of his business what people talk about when he’s not there. Mark couldn’t care less. Except this one time because it’s Chris and Dustin trying to be subtle about talking to Eduardo, who is currently on speaker.
Dustin’s voice is saying something along the lines of, “Please, man. He’s got like, three left feet.”
“Dustin, Mark’s not an alien. I’m sure you can find him someone else. You’ve got plenty of time.” And that’s Eduardo sounding impossibly annoyed.
Mark pictures Eduardo rolling his eyes, probably tapping his fingers on whatever surface he has found nearby.
“Someone else?” This time it’s Chris who interjects. Mark does not appreciate what he has to say. They talk like he isn’t even there. Okay, so, Mark figures from their perspective he isn’t there. Backstabbing bastards. “This is Mark we’re talking about. He’ll rant and scare the shit out of anyone we hire before they’re past hello.”
No, he wouldn’t. It’s not Mark’s fault that people are not intellectually capable of following his train of thoughts. It’s their problem for being stupid.
“Then make him happy and tell him he can skip it.”
Mark wants to say, ‘Thank you, Wardo’ since him skipping the whole thing is the only option that makes sense.
“This is the fourth year in a row!” Chris exclaims, clearly scandalized, though Mark can’t say he understands why.
Apparently, neither can Eduardo. “It’s not that big of a deal. Half the planet already thinks he’s an android.”
Dustin snickers, which earns him a punch from Chris. Serves him right. Mark is not an android. And what’s up with his friends insulting him behind his back? That is so not cool.
“We’ll do anything, Wardo. Just please, please teach him.” Dustin begs unabashedly.
Eduardo sighs. Mark can tell that wherever Eduardo is right now, he’s feeling uncomfortable with this whole conversation. “Listen, guys, I’m not doing this.”
“No, I won’t.”
* * *
“You called my mother? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Okay, so apparently it wasn’t a one-time thing. Because Mark is, despite himself, eavesdropping again. It’s all Chris’ and Dustin’s fault for sharing meaningful glances in his presence before not-so-subtly disappearing into the only place in the office that does not have glass walls. Eduardo is, yet again, on speaker with them.
“She’s a lovely woman, by the way,” Dustin says, conversationally.
“She roughly speaks five words in English, Dustin!”
Mark understands Eduardo’s indignation here. Calling moms, that’s going a little too far.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say, Eduardo.” Mark hears Dustin say, and from where he stands, he can see Dustin placing a hand over his chest, probably putting up a whole dramatic act for Chris. “We could feel her warmth over the phone.”
Yeah, there’s not really much a person can say to that. It’s creepy. Dustin is creepy.
“So, when’s good for you?” This time it’s Chris, who Mark hasn’t heard until now, the one speaking.
“I’m not doing it!” Eduardo’s voice is so outraged, Mark pictures him throwing his arms in the air.
He thinks briefly that Eduardo sounds just like he did that time with the chicken.
“But I thought Momma Saverin said she’d try!”
“Please don’t call my mom that, Dustin. It’s disturbing.”
“We really need you out here,” Chris, who is predictably gesturing at Dustin with his hands possible murder tactics, says.
“I’m sure Momma Saverin would be so-”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Saverin. I’m sure Mrs. Saverin would be thrilled to know her son is helping out those in need.”
Dustin can be such a drama queen sometimes.
“Eduardo, we really do need you here. We’ll cover all your expenses, and you can choose where you want to stay. Please. It’s just two weeks. What are two weeks in your life?”
Chris is right. It’s just two weeks. How much can go wrong in two weeks?
“You’re forgetting the part where it’s two weeks with Mark.”
Mark can’t help but feel insulted this time.
“You didn’t mind it so much at Harvard,” Chris reasons.
“Yeah, well, at Harvard Mark hadn’t really screwed me out of Facebook.”
“Two weeks. Dustin will do code for your company or whatever it is you have over there.”
“Hey! Why are you pimping me out! Listen, Eduardo, if you do this, Chris will personally handle your press for the next month.”
“You have no right to do that!”
Mark can't believe these guys. If Eduardo is thinking the same thing Mark is - and Eduardo probably is because in college that's just one of the many things they did - he is probably trying to bury his face somewhere in the ground so he won't hear the other two. Mark still harbors memories of the time he made the mistake of letting Dustin and Chris order pizza. That place never answered calls from their phone again. Ever. Mark once tried calling for pizza from his cell but when he gave his dorm number, the guy just hung up.
“It’s all for the greater good, Chris,” Dustin adds.
“So, you’re that desperate.” Eduardo says in that defeated tone that tells Mark they'll be seeing each other soon enough.
“Yes!” Chris and Dustin exclaim together.
“Okay. Two weeks and I’m out of there.”
* * *
Mark ends up picking Eduardo at the airport after Dustin and Chris ambush him in his office and force him to stop coding. Apparently they have also warned the whole staff; the first one that lets Mark in during the course of the next two weeks will be fired. Mark wonders whether Chris and Dustin realize he has keys to the offices. Then, there’s also his personal Mac. Either they do and don’t care or they have managed to take care of that without Mark noticing. Except Mark would notice his personal laptop gone. But that’s all sort of irrelevant now that Mark is riding in uncomfortable silence next to Eduardo.
“So,” Eduardo starts while they wait for the light to change. “Where did you say I was staying?”
“I didn’t. And, about that…” Mark’s voice trails off because this is Chris’ fault not his.
“No, oh God, no.”
Mark frowns. Staying at his place is not worst thing that could happen. It wasn’t even Mark’s idea. It was Chris who thought they should waste as little time as possible. Eduardo staying with Mark is his brilliant plan to optimize time.
“It’s not like I live under a bridge or something. There’s a spare room.”
* * *
When Mark first called Eduardo and asked for help, he didn’t really think about how he would feel while Eduardo taught him how to waltz. Perhaps he had already reasoned Eduardo wouldn’t accept so Mark never worried over that. However, now, with Eduardo sitting in his living room, waiting for Mark to “show him what he’s got”, Mark isn’t sure this situation is entirely favorable. In fact, Mark isn’t sure this situation is favorable at all. Not with Eduardo looking at him as though he just grew a third eye or something.
“Seriously?” Eduardo finally asks.
“Seriously, what?” Mark counters.
Eduardo looks skeptical as he presumably takes in Mark’s attempt at waltz. “That was you waltzing for real?”
Frowning, Mark wonders what’s with all the incredulous stares because, yes, he’s crap at dancing. Deal with it. “Uh, yeah.”
“My God, are you terrible,” Eduardo wails, his mouth open in what Mark can only assume is utter horror.
“Mark, watching you is just this close to being painful.”
“Thank you. You know, Wardo, that’s what I call being supportive.”
Damn, old habits diehard. It’s Eduardo, now. Not Wardo, not anymore. But then Eduardo laughs, honestly. He laughs in a way Mark thought at some point he would never hear again. What Mark calls him doesn’t matter.
“Okay, okay.” Eduardo’s hands are thrown into the air, like he acknowledges Mark’s point. Huh, Mark had forgotten how long Eduardo’s limbs are. Because they are. Very long and stretching towards Mark.
“So, we’ll start with the basics,” Eduardo says, grabbing Mark’s hands. “Like, where to put your hands and stuff.”
They’re not exactly pressing into each other but the invasion of his personal space is enough unsettle Mark.
“Oh.” His own voice sounds tiny and pathetic.
“Yeah. Are you taking a girl?”
Eduardo snorts, like he knows what Mark is thinking, which is impossible because even Mark doesn’t know what he’s thinking. How can he when Eduardo is grinning stupidly down at him making Mark feel nineteen all over again? His palms are sweaty, and for some reason Erica’s face keeps popping into his mind, saying dating him is like dating a stairmaster.
“Stop thinking,” Eduardo suggests, his big Bambi eyes staring down at Mark. “I need to know whether you’ll be the one leading.”
That doesn’t make the slightest sense in Mark’s head. He doesn’t even know who leads. What difference does it make? Mark really, really sucks at this.
“Mark,” Eduardo insists, dragging Mark out of his own mind.
So Mark considers the amount of press covering the event, and how many of them will Chris willingly deal with. “Yes, a girl,” he answers after deciding Chris is not going to be happy about a gay scandal.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay. Chris is gay. Mark couldn’t care less. But Mark being gay, that’d be way too much press to handle. Plus, so far Mark has only been gay twice. Number one isn’t something he’ll repeat any time soon (he’d been high and drunk and thank God Dustin can’t remember this one); number two is… a bit more complicated. At least, it’s complicated enough that Mark doesn’t know where he stands with that and generally prefers to just push it at back of his mind in a very, very dark corner where he doesn’t have to lose sleep over it. Not that Mark sleeps much, anyway.
Mark is immersed in his thoughts as a funny thing happens. By funny Mark means he has to make the conscious effort of biting his tongue before he squeals like a girl at Eduardo’s sudden proximity to his body.
“Ah, so your left hand is going to be on her hip while your right hand is holding hers. Like this.” Eduardo, who looks as comfortable as Mark feels, places his own hand over Mark’s hip. “And hers will be like this.” Eduardo’s voice is barely above a whisper as he takes Mark’s left hand and places it on Eduardo’s upper back.
“So your other hand will be holding hers.” Eduardo takes Marks other hand in his.
For a moment Mark loses track of all the hands. There are so many hands, and Eduardo keeps saying hands, and Mark has to remember they both have only got two each. And that’s just a ludicrous thought because, of course, they have two hands. Oh, man, there are so many, many hands. Mark is getting dizzy, and he knows they haven’t even started. These are the basics.
“You’re petrified,” Eduardo croaks. Is he as nervous as Mark? Because if he is this is going to be one weird minute after the other. Again, worst idea ever. Mark is simply not meant to know how to dance. Shit happens.
Slowly letting go of him, Eduardo takes deep breaths. “Your turn.”
His turn? His turn to what? Oh, no. The basics and Mark’s already lost it, entirely.
“Put your hands on me,” Eduardo explains, his arms open, inviting Mark in.
Mark just blinks because Eduardo can’t have possibly suggested for Mark to put his hands on him. Mark knows the exact moment Eduardo realizes what he’s just said because his cheeks flush bright red, his eyes going wide, shocked at his own words.
“I didn’t mean it like that. You know that. I meant, like I’m a girl and… uh, not like girly, just, you know, pretending to be a girl so you can practice on me.” Eduardo’s eyes go wide again. “Not on me. With me. Oh, will you please stop gawking at me, Mark!” Eduardo squeals. “I need water.”
* * *
So here’s what happens next. Eduardo drinks two glasses of water because he has completely lost his cool while Mark stares at the water disappearing into Eduardo’s lips, secretly wishing the water never stops coming. Life apparently hates Mark because it does stop coming, eventually, and Eduardo is reassuming his hand gestures like he can’t talk lest he becomes a mess of words again.
“Place your hand on my hip,” Eduardo says very carefully at Mark’s loss in the whole situation.
Mark does as he’s told. He holds Eduardo’s other hand in his, breathes in and out. He sways, stepping on Eduardo’s foot.
“It happens, Mark. Relax.”
So Mark tries, and steps on Eduardo’s foot again. And again, and again. Mark tries to alternate between Eduardo’s two feet but he’s not really doing this on purpose so that, too, is kind of hard. He ends up stepping on Eduardo’s right foot so many times, Eduardo is limping instead of swaying by the end of the afternoon.
“I think we’ve done enough for one day, Mark,” Eduardo says as he limps his way to the kitchen.
“I’ll help you with the ice.”
Following Eduardo into the kitchen, Mark thinks no one in the world would be able to withstand Mark stepping repeatedly on their feet. Neither of them says a word as they sit in Mark’s living room, Eduardo with a pack of ice on his foot and Mark holding two cups of coffee.
“Here,” he offers one cup to Eduardo.
* * *
Mark is sorry to admit next morning is no better. Eduardo is still patient as Mark’s body continues to disregard his feet. All in all, it could be worse. Eduardo could have, like, no patience at all. He could be yelling at Mark constantly and the such. However, patient as Eduardo may be, it all goes to shit when, two days after, Mark sways them into a table that Mark has never before noticed, even though it is his living room. Eduardo swears in English, and just when Mark thinks Eduardo is going to run out of words to curse, Eduardo switches to Portuguese. That doesn’t sound very pretty either.
“That’s it!” Eduardo finally exclaims. “We’re going to the beach.”
Now, if what Eduardo wants is to relax, to take a break from Mark accidentally trying to maim him, there’s surely a spa not far away from Mark’s place. But if Eduardo’s plan is more along the lines of trying to bury Mark alive for causing repeated pain on him, Mark isn’t sure he has any better suggestions.
So Mark frowns. “What?”
“The beach, Mark,” Eduardo repeats. “You know what that is, right?”
“Ha, ha. Very funny.”
“Go put on something…” Eduardo starts but stops mid-sentence as though he just realized Mark pretty much dresses for a day at the beach every day. “Well, whatever you wear to the beach.”
The thing is, Mark is not going to get sand all over himself. He’s not going to the beach.
“We’re not going to the beach.”
“Why the hell not?”
“I don’t do sand.”
Seriously, there are just some places where sand does not belong.
“That’s… Whatever, I don’t care. You’re coming with me.”
“I don’t think there’s a need to-” Mark starts before Eduardo quickly interrupts him.
“Mark, your stiffness while dancing requires the beach,” Eduardo argues, as if that is enough of an explanation for such an excruciating trip.
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Trust me, it does,” Eduardo maintains, while giving Mark this look that reminds him of his mother and, for some reason, celery.
Eduardo is not Mark’s mother.
“No, it doesn’t,” Mark counters.
“First of all, Mark, I think we both know you’re nowhere near qualified to make that decision. Second, the lack of any sense of rhythm in your body is going to be the death of my right foot. I really like that foot, Mark. What’s the matter, anyway?”
Mark shrugs. “It’s too sunny.”
At this, Eduardo rolls his eyes. “It’s California, what did you expect?”
Mark isn’t happy about this. His car is going to smell, and there’s going to be sand all over it. Plus, he’ll probably get a terrible sunburn like he always does when his mother comes visits and guilt-trips him into going with her.
* * *
“We look ridiculous, Wardo,” Mark says as soon as his feet touch the water.
They do look ridiculous. Mark is wearing about twenty pounds of sunscreen with a pair of glasses and a cap because he will not allow himself to be photographed in such a state. He also happens to be trying not to tiptoe as much as he walks, but the sand is too hot. Now, take this and pile it up next to Eduardo who looks like he’s just been taken out of Speedo’s photo shoot for men’s catalogue. Eduardo, who doesn’t need to spend half a bottle of sunscreen on his skin because he actually tans, unlike Mark. He’s kind of jealous of that. Not that Mark will willingly admit to that. He’s billionaire, for God’s sake.
“And since when did you start caring about how other people see you?” Eduardo asks before disappearing into the water and coming back up.
Mark gives Eduardo half a nod as though he agrees with Eduardo. Maybe it is a good point. Though Mark can’t really tell because there a droplets of water dripping over Eduardo’s face, and the sun’s too shiny so everything is blurry and all Mark can focus on is the way Eduardo is tossing his head back, trying to arrange his ridiculous hair.
Eduardo gestures Mark to come into his opened arms, which is weird enough without having to consider the fact that their lower halves are deep in the salty water. This is so embarrassing. Mark doesn’t understand how come Eduardo is so relaxed. Like this, it’s hard to remember the Eduardo that could barely muster a word in his living room a couple of days ago. Mark must have underestimated Eduardo’s drive to get him to dance decently. Also, that’s another thing. What do the sea and the beach and the sun and all these people have to do with his dancing lessons? Maybe the people so he’ll get used to the staring? Are they going to be staring? If they’re staring, Mark is going to trip all over the place. Ugh, can this be any worse?
“Stop thinking so much,” Eduardo insists, pulling Mark close to him by his hands.
They’re not doing this here. Surely not. Eduardo places Mark’s right hand on his own hip.
“Wardo, no,” Mark protest but he’s already in Eduardo’s grip.
Mark starts struggling half-heartedly because Eduardo is touching him and there’s no weirdness about it. Mark has missed this.
“Just sway. Enjoy the waves,” Eduardo says. “And don’t forget to lead,” he adds as an after thought.
They’re swaying in the sea with a bunch of people practically gaping at them. It’s mortifying. Why isn’t Eduardo mortified? Because he clearly isn’t. Not with the way he keeps swaying with Mark, his left hand resting comfortably on Mark’s back.
“Mark, you’re too tense,” Eduardo not-so-helpfully observes.
“Well, people are staring in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Eduardo sighs in his Mark-please-stop-being-so-obtuse voice. It startles Mark since he hasn’t heard that tone in a long, long time. It’s the same voice Eduardo used when Mark first mentioned the chicken. “You know what we’re doing,” Eduardo emphasizes and it’s the chicken all over again with Mark sustaining a very good argument and Eduardo making no sense. “I know what we’re doing. What they think they know, it doesn’t matter.”
“I can’t relax here.”
“Yes, you can. Here, let me show you.”
Mark starts objecting but Eduardo has managed to move their hands so that he’s the one leading Mark now. And wow. That practice in the house… Yeah, it’s nothing like Eduardo here. It’s nothing like Eduardo’s hand on Mark’s hip. He sways them in the sea like there’s no one else there.
“Close your eyes,” Eduardo suggests.
Mark feels silly or sillier, because silly is just one of the many things he’s been feeling like, lately. But then Eduardo is spinning them around, and Mark can’t see where they’re going. He can only feel the cool water sort of aiding him along. It’s like the waves are moving him along with Eduardo. And Eduardo’s hand is still on Mark’s hip. For a moment, it is like there’s only Eduardo and Mark in the sea. For a moment, the Eduardo that’s holding him is not the one who’s angry with Mark, the one who’s hurt. It’s the Eduardo that wrote algorithms on Mark’s dorm window and brought him soup when he got a cold.
“You’re not going to fall asleep on me, are you?”
Mark snaps back to reality where Eduardo has let go of him.
“I was joking. Your turn.”
Somehow, Mark has remained relaxed. He can honestly say he’s swaying instead of stomping. The fact that he manages to avoid Eduardo’s feet is definitely an improvement. It isn’t so bad. Yes, the staring continues to be annoying but it has fallen at the back of his mind.
“Let’s go before you roast, and Chris starts plotting my murder,” Eduardo says after they’ve spent a considerable amount of time swaying under the sun.
It’s not that Mark is sensitive about his skin and the obnoxious number of freckles it sports. It’s just that Eduardo tans. Back in college that used to be a major thing. Like, girls would be all moony over Eduardo while Mark pretended not to notice. Mark is still sort of jealous over that.
“I do not roast.”
Of course Eduardo laughs, because he’s Eduardo, and that somehow entitles him to mock Mark endlessly. Except, he hasn’t done that in a while so Mark wonders what exactly is Eduardo thinking.
“You’re right,” Eduardo wheezes in between fits of laughter. “You simply tan a nice shade of bright red.”
Mark doesn’t really mean this.
He thinks Eduardo knows that, too.
* * *
After the beach, Mark is sort of better at waltzing. Or that’s what Eduardo says when Mark has managed to go thirty seconds without stepping on him. It’s good, this thing between them. Somehow, with their limbs all tangled, they’re working. It feels… good, having Eduardo around. Comfortable, familiar.
“You’re getting really good at this, Mark,” Eduardo compliments as Mark leads him.
“I’m a terrific teacher,” Eduardo says, looking thoughtful before his mouth turns into an evil grin.
Mark isn’t expecting it when Eduardo moves so that they’re standing next to each other as opposed to facing one another. One of Eduardo’s hands still holds onto Mark’s before he starts doing something even weirder. Mark doesn’t let go because he panics first, and then it’s too late and Eduardo is freaking spinning into him. Like, literally. He’s spinning into Mark, without letting go of his hand, and it’s so odd because at some point Mark’s chest is pressed up against Eduardo’s back, and that’s just…
Okay, maybe Mark has an issue with proximity. So what? People have issues. It happens. What Mark isn’t really sure happens a lot is your ex best friend pressing his back into you so close you can barely breathe. That doesn’t seem very likely. Yet Eduardo is all over Mark, being tall and sort muscled even though he’s one of the skinniest person Mark has seen that does not suffer from an eating disorder. He’s laughing, too, the sound vibrating into Mark. It’s extremely weird, and Mark is this close to fearing his heart might explode from all the weirdness and proximity.
“Can you do that?” Eduardo asks, and Mark is silent for a long, long time. “Mark,” he says turning around in Mark’s arms. The thing is, they were holding hands – oh, God, he sounds like a girl – very, very tightly so when Eduardo turns around, Mark’s hand sort of ends up brushing across Eduardo’s back, settling on Eduardo’s hip. He is inanely conscious of his hand on Eduardo’s hip and Eduardo’s breath on him, smelling of coffee and something distinctively Eduardo-y. Really, they’re like, at kissing distance, which, okay, creepy thought.
“Can you spin into me, just like I did?” Eduardo repeats.
Mark doesn’t know why but the only coherent thought his mind can process is a very lame, “Is that waltzy?”
“No. Nothing fun is ever waltzy,” he says solemnly, as though it’s his latest epiphany and Mark is a very blessed man to be witnessing it. “Come on.” With this, Eduardo moves again.
They’re back at standing next to each other, holding hands, but this time Eduardo is gently tugging at Mark. Without thinking about it too much, Mark manages to spin into Eduardo so fast they nearly topple over once Mark is pressed against Eduardo, who laughs into the crook of Mark’s neck at the collision.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Mark assumes this is a rhetorical question so he doesn’t bother with an answer. Plus, it’s not like he could do that even if he wanted because as soon as Eduardo is done laughing, he’s reaching across Mark’s body to grab Mark’s other hand. Mark ends with his arms crossed over his belly, all tangled up in Eduardo’s arms. It isn’t a particularly uncomfortable position but it’s one where Eduardo has managed to trap Mark in an embrace, and, yeah, proximity.
“Relax,” Eduardo breathes on Mark’s neck, which is becoming a thing Mark is starting to like. A lot. “Close your eyes. Now, remember the ocean. The waves. You’re in the water, your hips moving with it.” Mark tries. He does remember the beach and the staring. But he also remembers Eduardo and him swaying in the ocean. Mark moves. “Just like that,” Eduardo says, hot against Mark. They’re not exactly swaying. It’s more like they’re tracing invisible eights with their hips, Eduardo leading Mark. Perhaps Mark would be more than a little embarrassed and freaked out if not for the fact that Eduardo’s chin is resting on Mark’s shoulder, Eduardo’s body warm against his.
* * *
Eduardo takes a liking to stop the waltzing lessons to spin Mark around and make him do stupid moves that usually end with Mark on the floor. There’s the average turns ‘because, really, Mark, that’s like essential to any dancing’. There’s also the more complex stuff like the double turns, which, by the way, Mark still doesn’t get. And then, there’s the really, really stupid moves, like that locked spinning thing, that are downright impossible. The only reason Eduardo keeps doing this is because, despite all of Mark’s protests and whines, he has somehow figured out Mark sort of likes being this close to him.
It’s the afternoon before the charity event, and Eduardo has Mark doing turns and spins and Mark is tired. Like, how much stamina does Eduardo have? It scares Mark a little if he’s honest. Eduardo never tires. He’s unstoppable, and looks so ridiculously happy as he spins Mark around. It’s absurd. Like right now, he’s practically forcing Mark to do the locked spinning thing Mark just can’t do. Of course, Mark trips on thin air and does not fall because Eduardo has managed to catch him in time, his arms and hands all over Mark.
Mark frowns, not sure if he’s okay with all this falling and Eduardo. This is of course when Mark hears the tingle of keys at the door. Eduardo, equally stunned by the intrusion, let’s go of him quickly so that when whoever is at the door opens it, they look like a couple of teenagers who just got caught in the middle of a very heated make-out session.
“Hey, Mark, we thought you’d need some help with-” It’s Chris who enters Mark’s house but he stops speaking upon seeing Mark and Eduardo standing uncomfortably next to each other.
“Dude! It’s been so long since I last saw you, I almost miss you. Almost being the operative wo-” Dustin, who bumps into Chris at the door, starts saying. He, too, stops talking as soon as he sees them. “Holy, shit, you two,” he says, scandalized and pointing at Mark and Eduardo. “You weren’t, like, doing it, were you? Oh, my God, Chris, did you just walk in on them? That is so inappropriate.”
At this Chris makes a strangled sound that is usually reserved for Mark after he says something very rude to someone semi-important. “May I remind you that, had I indeed walked in on them you would’ve, too. You’re so stupid, sometimes.”
Their bickering relaxes Mark enough for him to blurt the first thing that comes to his mind. “Why do you have my keys?”
“You gave Dustin a copy when you were drunk. Since Dustin cannot even be trusted with himself, I took the liberty of keeping them,” Chris explains, ignoring Dustin’s complaints like he always does.
“Right. So, what do you want?”
“What, too busy to talk to us?” Dustin interjects, smirking.
Eduardo burns a bright shade of red that goes down his neck. Mark is pretty sure his own ears are blushing.
“I should just fire you,” Mark mutters under his breath before turning to Chris.
“We thought you might need some help picking up a tux.”
* * *
Agreeing to buy a tux with Dustin, Chris and Eduardo has got to be the worst deal Mark has ever done. Mark still trying to process how Eduardo got himself dragged to the mall. He thinks it has something to do with Chris and Dustin repeatedly pointing at Mark’s clothes and hair and flip-flops, while saying stuff along the lines of ‘do you really expect us to get it right with that?’ (Chris) and ‘Eduardo, a very stupid person gave him once a very, very expensive, 100% silk tie. You wanna know what he said? He said, and I quote, ‘I don’t get why people like to cover up their eyes while they’re fucking. If you don’t like whoever it is, then get someone else’ and he said it with his blank, people-are-so-stupid stare. I can’t look at silk ties anymore, Eduardo. Do you really want us to go through something like that again?’ (Dustin). And okay, Mark may have said something like that. But seriously, a tie? What the fuck?
Eduardo tags along, all uncomfortable and nothing like he was at Mark’s, saying things like ‘cool’ and ‘nice’ whenever Mark gets out of the dressing room. He’s close to no help, and Mark is positive he himself looks as disappointed as Chris and Dustin do. Because Eduardo dresses well, like, all the freaking time. And all the advice he can give is ‘cool’? That is so uncool. Until Dustin in his infinite wisdom asks Eduardo if he’s going with Mark and they all go dead silent.
“Like, not as date, or whatever. If you’re going as each other’s dates that’s cool, too. Or we can find you someone else. I mean, it’s not like we’re going to judge if you don’t wanna go with Mark because he’s impossible and all. No offense, bro,” he says, looking at Mark.
They are all really quiet, waiting for Eduardo to answer the question that Dustin managed to sneak in his hour-long monologue.
“Umm… You know, I don’t think so.”
“Why not?” Mark asks almost immediately.
“Uh… Because I wasn’t invited?”
“I’m inviting you.”
“It’s not your event, you can’t invite me.”
“Sure I can. You can come as my date. Unless you don’t want to. Because then that’s an entirely different matter and-”
“We’re going as Mark’s dates, too,” Dustin interrupts when Eduardo is giving Mark this did-you-just-ask-me-out-on-a-date look that Mark doesn’t get because, yes, that’s exactly what he did, and he’s got no idea where it came from.
“What?” Eduardo asks.
Chris shrugs. “Well, you know how Mark gets at these things. Dustin and I are going with him. Just in case.”
“Yeah, dude, it’ll be awesome. Like we’re all Mark’s escorts and he’s our pimp!” Dustin beams at this, like that’s the best idea he’s ever had.
Eduardo looks at Mark, who looks at Chris, who in turn looks at Dustin with his best death glare. It turns out fine when Eduardo starts laughing hysterically because somehow Dustin comparing them to high-class whores eases the underlying tension. Mark considers it’s all a bit nonsensical because he is no one’s pimp or sugar daddy or whatever other character taken out from a ninety-year-old-grandpa-marrying-thirty-year-old-gold-digger scenario Dustin finds funny comparing him to. It does get Eduardo talking more, so Mark doesn’t complain much.
Mark can live with pretending to be Eduardo’s pimp if it means things are not awkward between them. Not that he’d ever be Eduardo’s pimp. Like, ever. Not because he’d get an aneurysm trying to schedule dates for Eduardo to fuck other people or anything like that. It’d be awkward, that’s all. Plus, he’d have to know what sort of things Eduardo’s willing to do, sexually speaking. Mark reflects that there are other ways to get that sort of information. And then he goes completely brain-dead for a second or two because he did not just picture himself hissing into Eduardo’s ear, ‘do you like that?’ Jesus, he’s spending too much time around Dustin.
Mark tries not to think about what that means too hard as Eduardo drags them from store to store, now actively taking part of the process of picking up a tux that’s become more like a game of ‘let’s see who has the best taste when dressing Mark’ than anything else. Mark has to admit Dustin’s not so bad, except when it comes to ties, because he keeps squirming when the words Mark and tie are in the same sentence. Chris is simple, yet effective. Eduardo is a lot more slick and complicated and `this black looks good against your skin, but this one, not so much’. Mark is once half tempted to mention both tuxedos are black, but there’s no point in arguing with Eduardo. Especially not when he’s all but shoving Mark into the dressing room.
There’s a moment when Chris and Dustin go off to ‘get a coffee’, leaving Mark and Eduardo alone. Mark knows Dustin pretty much just dragged Chris out of the store after Mark finally bought a tux and they were onto the shirt and ties. Eduardo is crazy about ties. And Dustin pretty much gets sick at the sight of them. It’s actually a wonder how Dustin lasted so long next to Eduardo. It’s a wonder how anyone stands Eduardo when he’s shopping. People say Mark’s insufferable but that’s because they haven’t shopped with Eduardo Saverin. Nothing is good enough. There are twenty-something different kinds of black, even if to the untrained eye the all look the same.
And he keeps insisting Mark tries every shirt with the tux so Mark has to get down to his boxers every five minutes. It’s horrible. Until they get around the ties. Mark has made it his life mission to wear the minimum amount of ties throughout his life, which is to say he has no idea how to tie one. Stupid knots.
“Mark, you’ve been in there for forever,” Eduardo whines when Mark’s at his fourth failed attempt at doing the freaking knot.
“Uh… I’ll take this one, whatever,” he answers, hoping in vain that Eduardo will leave it at that.
“Come out so I can see it, then.”
“Mark? What the hell are you doing in there?” At Mark’s lack of a response Eduardo asks, “May I come in?”
Mark’s first instinct is to say no. Then he considers Eduardo’s patience and drive. He opens the door, tie around his neck, his hands tugging awkwardly at it.
“You don’t know how to tie a tie, do you?” Eduardo has this little smile on his lips, the kind of smile Mark’s mother has right before she says something like, ‘you’re so adorable’. It makes Mark blush a little. “It’s okay. Let me help you.” Eduardo takes the tie and slowly, very slowly, ties it around Mark’s neck. Once the knot is done, Eduardo straightens the shirt’s collar, his thumbs brushing against Mark’s skin.
Mark buys that tie. When they get around to pay, the cashier is looking at them with moony eyes and just before they leave she tells them they ‘make a cute couple’. Eduardo stammers his way to an awkward ‘thank you’ as Mark limits himself to flush furiously.
One hour, a black number twelve tux, a plain white shirt and a silk tie Dustin can’t look at later, Mark and Eduardo arrive home.
“Oh, man, I’m so tired,” Eduardo half-says, half-whines as he walks into the kitchen.
Well, if Eduardo’s tired, Mark doesn’t even want to think what he is. Eduardo was pretty much in Disneyland at the mall, and Mark… he would say he was in a special hell where trying on clothes and looking ridiculous in everything was his punishment. But he doesn’t because in between there were bits of Eduardo being all Eduardo-y, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t. Whatever, Mark’s too tired to think straight.
“Beer?” Eduardo asks.
The end up drinking more than they should. Mark knows this because Eduardo’s cheeks are pink and he himself feels slightly intoxicated. It seems familiar, being drunk with Eduardo. It is not just the drinking. It’s this underlying thing that Mark can’t put his finger on that somehow seems like a déjà vu.
“So, you up for our last lesson?” Eduardo’s voice is slightly slurry as goes for his ipod.
“I thought you said you were tired,” Mark mumbles.
“Waltzing is so boring you might as well be asleep through it.”
“We should really go to bed.”
“I had a lot of fun today,” Eduardo states absentmindedly, fumbling with the speakers’ remote.
“Yeah, me too.” It’s oddly pleasant, being like this with Eduardo. Up to where Mark realizes Eduardo is serious about the dancing business, and, no, he’s not doing that. “I’m not dancing with you.”
“Come on. You owe me.”
Mark groans. “Tomorrow?”
“No way. Today. Now.”
“I haven’t seen my mom in a long time.”
Maybe it’s Mark being somewhat drunk. Maybe it’s Eduardo being somewhat drunk. But that reply made no sense. “What does that have to do with you trying to inflict torture upon me?”
“I’m getting there!” Eduardo proclaims in that tone he gets when he’s drunk and someone just called him an idiot. “I miss my mom. And then you were in that room looking all adorable with that tie. I remembered her because she taught me how to tie it. I wanna dance. Just this song,” he pleads, looking at Mark expectantly.
Mark would like to say he understands where Eduardo is coming from. He’d like to say he gets the relationship there is between Mark being adorable, Mrs. Saverin and Eduardo’s sudden need to embarrass and torture Mark with his big Bambi eyes. He can’t. Partly because there is, like, no relationship whatsoever between those. Partly because every single neuron in Mark’s brain died when Eduardo called him adorable.
“Pleeeeeaaaseeee. Just this one song.”
Mark blinks, confused. “This song? What’s so special about this song?”
“It’s my mother’s song!” Eduardo exclaims a bit too excitedly for Mark’s own comfort. “I sang it for her, once.” He blushes like he just told Mark he lost his virginity to that song. Okay, Mark really needs to stop it with the creepy thoughts. “It was pretty silly and obviously my father didn’t like it, but she, she just hugged, calling me ‘meu querido, meu bebê’.” Eduardo is smiling at the fond memory, which is the cutest thing Mark has ever seen. And Eduardo is a full-grown man. Mark shouldn’t think of Eduardo in that way. But he does. Mark thinks Eduardo is unbearably cute as he thinks of his mom. “I never told anyone that,” Eduardo says reflectively, his eyes closed as he hums to the tune.
“O-okay.” Mark agrees because the image of little Eduardo singing to his mother is just too much to deny.
“Yes!” Eduardo cries triumphant, his face lighting up as he walks towards Mark.
So they dance, and Mark trips because, even if this is slow dance, it’s Brazilian slow dance. Naturally Eduardo moves all loosely and at ease around Mark, while Mark in his drunken state struggles to keep up. A task that is pretty damn hard in itself without factoring in Eduardo wrapped comfortably around Mark.
Suddenly it’s nothing like what they’ve been doing. Before, it’s been business-like cum your-dancing-makes-me-sad lessons cum funny lessons. Now, it’s different in a whole new level that has nothing to do with the progression their dancing has undergone. It’s different in the way that Eduardo is practically oozing feelings as he dances and violates Mark’s personal space more than necessary. Mark has seen enough dancing to know Eduardo is pressing way too close into Mark’s body. Not that Mark minds. He’s sort of gotten used to Eduardo’s proximity. It’s just another thing that’s odd.
The song has been over for quite a while now, and Eduardo is still swaying to a rhythm that must be engraved in his head. It makes Mark wonder just how special this song is. It’s a momentary distraction but this is Mark so of course he steps on Eduardo’s right foot, making Eduardo trip over Mark. Falling on the edge of the couch, Mark lands hard on his ass while Eduardo’s face ends on Mark’s lower belly. A thousand different thoughts and images cross Mark’s mind but it draws a complete blank when Eduardo lifts his head, his eyes staring curiously at Mark.
Like this, with Eduardo staring at him, Mark thinks he’s lived this before. The whole evening suddenly snaps into focus as the sense of déjà vu starts shaping into a memory that Mark has managed not to think about much.
It’s college, and they’re drunk on Mark’s bed. Eduardo is singing happily, standing on the bed but he falls, his face landing on Mark’s crotch. Mark’s too drunk to care, to make more of this. However, Eduardo is nuzzling his nose against Mark’s jeans, and that’s just not what guys do to one another. He distinguishes the muffled sounds Eduardo is making, and, to Mark’s horror, it’s his own name repeated over and over like a mantra. As Eduardo’s unsteady hands are unbuttoning his cargos, Mark realizes he’s hard, and getting even harder with Eduardo breathing rapidly on his skin. It’s a lot to handle, and Mark’s nineteen and horny, and Eduardo is on him so it doesn’t take much. He’s coming on Eduardo’s hands, listening as Eduardo says his name. It’s over before Mark’s brain catches on, and that’s it. It never happens again. Mark doesn’t mention it, and Eduardo pretends he was too drunk to remember.
Now, with Eduardo sprawled over him, the memory is as vivid as Eduardo breathing heavily on Mark’s belly. Mark feels sober out of the blue, which is strangely okay as he realizes with perverse clarity how much he wants this. He wants Eduardo. Yet, before Mark can do anything, Eduardo is moving off of him, striding to his room.
* * *
In the end, Chris decides they should all have dates because it looks weird if they all show up like Mark’s babysitters. Dustin goes with a girl with freckles who giggles as though she’s twelve while Chris goes with a blond, very Dustin-like guy. Mark wonders if anyone else notices that. He doesn’t say a word, just in case. Eduardo’s date looks like a pixie with her short, fiery red hair. She’s really beautiful, Mark guesses. Mark’s date, on the other hand, is utterly awful. She talks nonstop, clinging to Mark’s arm. Her laugh is too high-pitched and unnatural. He hates her. Even more so when all Mark wants to do is detach her spidery fingers from his elbow and walk alongside Eduardo.
Mark also wants to kiss Eduardo. It’s a plain, simple truth that Mark has no idea whether it is universally acknowledged or not but he honestly doesn’t give a shit. It’s not like he’s too shy to act on it or whatever. It’s just that Eduardo’s been very awkward around him ever since he woke up. Like morning came and he suddenly realized he, after all, did hate Mark. Eduardo won’t even look at Mark in the eye. Which makes Mark’s blood boil in his veins because Eduardo can be all smiles and captivating with his date who he barely knows but he can’t look at Mark. It pisses him off.
As they enter the grand salon where Mark is expected to dance and be at the very least okay at it, Mark wants the world to disappear so he can corner Eduardo. He wants – he wants so many things, and all he gets is this horrible, giggly brunette. All Mark gets is a stupid waltz. The worst waltz ever, if Mark is allowed to say so. He doesn’t trip, at least.
As he dances, Mark realizes that apparently everyone in the room is supposed to dance, which gives Eduardo’s date every excuse she needs to be all over him, closer than necessary. Just like Eduardo invaded Mark’s personal space last night. Because she is clearly doing that. Mark can see them on the dance floor. It isn’t fair, Mark reflects. It’s supposed to be Mark all over Eduardo. Okay, maybe not, but still. It isn’t fair. He keeps staring at them until Eduardo catches on, eyes locking with Mark’s. For a moment, Mark thinks Eduardo knows what Mark’s been thinking. He blushes, furiously. What does Eduardo think about it? Mark tries to decipher it as Eduardo continues staring at him. However, Eduardo’s date, who Mark has by now decided is a slut, is whispering something in his ear, and Eduardo freaking laughs at it, breaking all contact with Mark. The moment is gone. Just like that.
Once the dance is over, Mark walks towards Eduardo’s table – because Dustin is a disaster at picking dates and consequently got Eduardo a date with someone who had actually been invited, thus landing him at a different table, which is bad because Eduardo is too polite to ditch the slut. Mark is so not in the mood to endure another second of his horrible date. He picks up two glasses of champaign on his way, not really caring about his or Eduardo’s date.
“Want some?” he asks, offering one of the glasses to Eduardo.
“Thanks,” Eduardo answers awkwardly. “People are staring,” he states even more awkwardly when his date makes a whole show of clearing her throat. Whatever.
“I thought you didn’t care.”
“Well, people here actually know who we are.”
“We’re supposed to hate each other,” he answers, his tone bordering on amusement.
“I don’t hate you.” And that’s when it hits Mark that he doesn’t hate Eduardo. What Eduardo feels for him, Mark doesn’t know. “Do you hate me?”
Eduardo looks taken aback by this. He hesitates before he answers. In the end all that comes out is a weak, “I…”
Mark waits for Eduardo to say more but he doesn’t. Everything is suddenly very weird. His heart starts pounding in his chest. He feels so awkward and out of place, sitting here at Eduardo’s table. It’s awful. Downing his glass of champaign, Mark stands up and pretends he can’t hear Eduardo calling his name.
Mark ends up on a balcony on the third floor – geez, this place is so big. The only reason Mark isn’t back at his own place is because he ran into Chris who, as he so delicately put it, saw in Mark’s eyes the intention to leave. A thing Mark promptly denied, if only in a very lame effort to contradict Chris.
It could be worse, he muses. There could be no balconies at all or… Yeah, this is pretty bad, no matter how much Mark tries to look at it. He thought… Well, Mark never actually thought about it, but he and Eduardo have gone days without fighting; they were having a good time. Or at least Mark thought they were. Guess not.
Hearing the door behind him being opened, Mark turns around to see Eduardo.
“Hey,” Eduardo says, stepping into the balcony.
“No, that’s not I came here for.” Eduardo is silent for a few seconds before he blurts out, “I don’t hate you.”
Mark knows Eduardo is not buying it.
“I don’t. I don’t think I ever did,” he goes on explaining, still awkward and not quite meeting Mark’s eyes. “It’s just… I don’t know how to do this with you.”
“This,” Eduardo says, pointing at them. “Us.”
“Because! Ugh. Mark, I never thought we’d be like this again, you know? Not after everything. And now we’re here and… It’s so easy falling into step with you. It’s so easy, and that sca…” Eduardo cuts himself off. “I don’t hate you, Mark. Let’s go back inside,” he says, offering his hand to Mark.
* * *
“You guys!” Dustin exclaims as soon as he spots them. “I thought you might be dead or something. We’ve been looking for you for, like, an hour. Should’ve known you were off screwing each other’s brains out. You’re so inconsiderate.”
“Dustin,” Chris starts. “Shut up.”
“Sorry we had you worried,” Eduardo apologizes, being the gentleman he always has to be.
“Nah, it’s okay. Just glad you didn’t leave Mark alone to wallow in his self-pity. You know, Eduardo, I really like having you around. Mark is so much nicer when you’re here.”
Eduardo laughs. “Thank you, Dustin. You still owe me a lot of coding and Chris still has to deal with my press, though.”
* * *
“You were really good tonight,” Eduardo says as Mark lets them inside the house.
At first, Mark is lost as to what Eduardo means. Then he remembers the awful dancing and Eduardo with someone else and, okay, he knows what Eduardo means.
“Thanks,” he responds nervously because for the first time since Eduardo got here, Mark feels the weight of all these things he’s done.
He always knew Eduardo hadn’t forgotten. He just never thought Eduardo remembered it so well. Or perhaps that’s not the right phrasing. What Mark means is that, he knows he hurt Eduardo, he knows he fucked up, and that Eduardo has every right to be pissed at him. But the thing is, Eduardo hasn’t exactly been acting like that, leading Mark to think it was past them. It isn’t.
However, as much as Mark would love to mull over this over and over, his train of thought comes to an immediate halt when he feels Eduardo’s arms wrapped around his waist.
“Though the lack of turns was certainly disappointing,” Eduardo observes, swaying Mark and smiling crookedly as though he isn’t sure if what’s he’s doing is okay.
Eduardo’s edginess makes Marks edgy, too. It shouldn’t be like this. It wasn’t like this.
“Well, the chances of stepping on what I am sure were some expensive shoes increase exponentially if I so much as attempt one,” he answers.
“Oh, really?” And this time, Eduardo is more playful than before, and it isn’t weird anymore. “Then, I really shouldn’t do this,” Eduardo says, spinning Mark around.
When Mark doesn’t trip, Eduardo gives him an appraising look. “It’s because it’s you, Wardo,” Mark responds at the unasked question.
Mark means it. It’s because it’s Eduardo. It’s always been about Eduardo. Mark has to wonder why on earth he thought it would ever stop being about Eduardo.
But Eduardo isn’t thinking the same thing Mark is because he tilts his head in a reflexive manner. Has he said the wrong thing again?
“You know, you keep calling me that,” Eduardo finally states.
“Don’t be… It brings back memories.” Eduardo must notice the way Mark winces at the statement because he adds, smiling, “Good ones…” Eduardo’s voice trails off as they dance in tiny circles around Mark’s living room. It’s quiet for a minute or two. They just sway like they did at the beach with Mark letting his head rest on Eduardo’s chest for a while. He likes it there.
“Do you ever think about it?” Eduardo asks, suddenly breaking the silence.
“Us. Like, what would’ve happened if, you know…”
It’s odd, the way in which Eduardo can’t bring himself to say it out loud.
“Huh.” Pause. “I do.”
Wondering what Eduardo thinks they could’ve been is almost a painful thought to Mark. It’s just that he’s got Eduardo right here, and yet he seems to be miles away in a future that Mark fucked over. Eduardo has one palm spread out on Mark’s hip while the other is holding Mark’s hand, and he still feels so very far away.
Fearing Eduardo might suddenly leave him, Mark holds on tight to what he has for now. He tries to enjoy Eduardo’s arms around him, pretends maybe they’ll feel like this tomorrow. It’s okay. These were just a couple of weeks Mark stole from that future. It’s okay. He’ll… figure it out as it goes. He’s lived without Eduardo before, right? At this thought, Mark does his best to ignore how the warm body wrapped around him keeps telling him he hasn’t been living without Eduardo. Not really. It’s more like he’s getting by.
True enough, Mark is living the dream. He’s a fucking billionaire. The youngest billionaire. There is not one single person – okay, maybe Chris and Dustin wouldn’t because they have somehow figured out Mark’s life is not entirely pretty, and perhaps Eduardo, because he’s Eduardo – would willing trade their lives for Mark’s. This is what Mark’s always wanted but living it without Eduardo has become sort of pointless. It’s not enough. Nothing is enough. And these two weeks? They have made a point of reminding Mark just how and why it isn’t enough.
Right now, Mark is willing to give up everything in exchange for Eduardo. Still, he knows he can’t have Eduardo the way he wants him. So he’ll take whatever he gets. Even if whatever he gets is very far form what he wants, Mark kind of needs Eduardo in his life. So, yeah, he’ll take whatever piece of Eduardo is left for him and he’ll make do. Because Mark can also admit Eduardo deserves better than him. He’s a nice guy, impossibly so. Eduardo deserves better, and maybe Mark took too long to realize that. It doesn’t mean he can’t tell Eduardo now, though.
Bracing himself, Mark breathes in. “Hey, Wardo.” Mark does not intend it to sound like a whisper, but it does.
Eduardo slows down, almost comes to a halt. “I know, Mark,” he says before he resumes swaying.
“I’m really, really sorry,” Mark repeats since once doesn’t seem like much.
“Wardo, I’ve missed you.”
“Me too, Mark.”
And that’s a revelation Mark never thought he’d get. Mark can’t help smiling against the curve of Eduardo’s neck, hoping shamelessly that, maybe, Eduardo wants to stay, too.
Mark is still smiling when Eduardo pushes away from him slowly, like he’s about to do one those not really waltzy stunts. Grinning, Mark expects one of Eduardo’s intricate and really funny turns. He waits to be spun around in some complicated fashion. Instead, Eduardo pulls him in. Before Mark can react, Eduardo’s mouth is on his.
“I want to give this a shot.” Eduardo laughs to himself like he’s been holding that thought for a long, long time and it’s a relief to let it go. Mark kind of feels the same way. “I want to give us a shot.”
That does it for Mark. Throwing his arms around Eduardo’s neck, Mark opens his mouth to kiss, really kiss, Eduardo.
“I’ve really missed you, Wardo.”