Chris is being deposed first. Mark's legal team tells him both depositions will start with the least important testimonials and work their way up, gathering evidence. Dustin had made noises about being "unimportant"; Chris had raised his eyebrows and put the dates on his schedule and gone back to ignoring that Eduardo is suing them.
("He's suing you," Dustin says. "Not us."
"He's causing you to be deposed," Mark says stubbornly.
"But he's suing you," Dustin says.)
He's hired an outside firm to represent him. He hadn't wanted to, he'd have preferred to use Facebook's in-house counsel, but Chris had insisted he hire out. He'd pointed out that, since some personal details might get dragged around, Mark might prefer the majority of the details were handled by someone he wouldn't have to continue working with afterwards.
However, Chris and Dustin also have their own lawyers, despite the fact that neither lawsuit involves either of them any more than tangentially and isn't likely to reveal anything personal. The law firms had all insisted on this, saying they wanted to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Chris had told Mark that they were treating this like any corporate suit, where nasty and illegal things might come to light that could harm anyone, instead of handling it like the personal attack it is.
But Mark's lawyers are good; they got the two depositions to overlap for the most part, so Mark has to spend a couple of weeks in New York but at least he only has to go once.
The lawsuits have proceeded this far without any of them; the lawyers have already spent more than a couple hours arguing about the content they'll be allowed to discuss. Mark had told his team that everything was off-limits; they'd responded that, for all practical purposes, nothing was going to be off-limits.
He has no idea what Eduardo and his lawyers are doing. He'd looked up the rival firm and the main lawyer as soon as Sy had told him who Eduardo had hired. They were good: good record, reliable, experienced.
The actual depositions start mid-March, and by the time Mark gets to New York, it will have been almost four years since he was last in the city.
Chris goes first, and he's leaving for New York on the thirteenth. Dustin's supposed to go right after Chris. Mark will start the week after that, but he's going to New York with Dustin, because Dustin swore he needed moral support. Mark could've pointed out that he would have Chris, but Chris has been in a prickly mood. Besides, it will give Mark an opportunity to be around; he's hoping to catch sight of Eduardo before they see each other in the depositions.
Sy has told him, explicitly and repeatedly, to avoid any and all contact with the other side. This applies to the Winklevii, too, of course, but everyone in the room knew it was mainly about Eduardo. Mark had nodded and ignored everything that came after. He's felt Eduardo's interference for too many years with no concrete presence to blame; he's not going to pass up the opportunity to see him now.
"You two can room together, if you want," Chris says. "I'll be on my own, thanks."
Mark shrugs, but Dustin looks a little crestfallen.
"I just want to get this over with," Chris says to Dustin, more gently.
"Yeah, I know," Dustin says. He shrugs.
Chris turns back to the front desk and finishes getting their rooms. He puts Dustin and Mark in a suite and himself two floors down from them.
In the suite, Dustin claims which room is his with more vehemence than is necessary, since Mark doesn't have any preference at all. Mark normally leaves all his clothes in his suitcase, taking them out and scattering them as he needs them, but today he unpacks, hanging and folding things away.
"So," Dustin says when Mark is done. He came in about halfway through and sat in the middle of the bed, watching. "We've got dinner with the lawyers tonight."
"Because we won't be seeing enough of them," Mark mutters.
"They're on our side," Dustin says, which has become something of a mantra since Chris first made Mark meet with Sy and his team.
"Not really," Mark says.
He can't come into the deposition room with Dustin or Chris. He goes with Dustin his first day, because he plans on waiting in the lobby and seeing Eduardo as everyone comes in. Unfortunately, the lawyers catch him and send him out of the building before Eduardo ever shows up, claiming he has a disruptive intent. His team agrees with them - and yes, our side is definitely bullshit - and Mark gets sent back to the hotel. Since seeing Eduardo was the sole reason he came to New York early, this puts him in a foul mood for the next two days.
Chris gets to leave on a late night flight after one day. Dustin grumbles about the unfairness of it all, and Mark points out that Chris wasn't as instrumental to Facebook's development as Dustin was.
"Shut up, Mark," Dustin says. "That's rude."
He's angry - he's been snappish, because apparently being deposed hasn't been as easy as the lawyers had claimed it would be - but Mark doesn't understand why that upset him. It's true.
"Just—" Dustin sighs. "Shut up."
That seems to be everyone's attitude about what's going on, honestly. Chris had refused to look at Mark once he was done with his one day of questioning, saying a quick goodbye to Dustin and disappearing back to the airport. Mark doesn't understand the reaction; there's nothing new going on here that Dustin and Chris hadn't known about four years ago.
It's been frustrating for him, too, because Dustin, who claimed going in that he didn't give a shit what the rules were about privacy, he'd tell Mark about what went on, has clammed up. He won't even tell Mark about Eduardo, other than to say that yes, he was there.
Mark is getting tired of it all, and he hasn't even sat through his own yet.
When he first sees Eduardo, it's at the deposition for the Winklevii's case. Mark isn't expecting him to be there - he stares a little, and Sy has to touch his elbow to get him going. Eduardo doesn't look at him as they file into the room.
Eduardo's wearing a suit that could be any one of the ones he used to wear. He looks a little older, which Mark decides is only fair, and mostly, he looks tired. When he starts talking, his accent is different, as if he hasn't spoken much English for a while.
The tiredness becomes more deeply ingrained in his face as the day goes on. Eduardo's only deposed for a few hours, and he answers quickly, short and fair. Mark's shoulders relax, because he doesn't see how their depositions could be bad if Eduardo's this civil. He's not like the Winklevii, who whine about entitled bullshit and don't even realize they're doing it.
The questions get more invasive before they let Eduardo go. He's there for a little over three hours, by the time they're done, and by the end they're nitpicking every little detail, digging into Eduardo's past and his family. They ask things like why he went to Harvard, how he felt about privilege, since that was something Mr. Zuckerberg had made clear he didn't like - how did Eduardo feel about being friends with someone who detested where he came from?
Sy, when Mark pulls him back to make him explain, says they're trying to undermine Eduardo's position since nothing he said helped their case.
Eduardo's lawyer handles it, for the most part. Eduardo spends the whole meeting either staring out the windows at the slowly darkening sky - and it throws Mark off at first, the way the room feels like evening or night when it's only ten in the morning - or watching the lawyers intently. He's paying more attention than Mark is.
The weather turns sour as the morning passes, and by the time Eduardo leaves one of the associate lawyers is muttering to a coworker about high-speed winds and how the chance of rain was zero this morning, that's why she hadn't brought an umbrella. Mark looks at the window after Eduardo's gone, trying to see if that's what had interested him so much.
"It's raining," Mark says.
"It just started raining," Mark says.
The lawyer repeats his question and Mark answers it exactly how it deserves, but he's mostly occupied with the window and the patter of rain and wondering where Eduardo is and what he's doing.
That was when the idea took root. It likely never would've come to anything, except Dustin sticks his head in Mark's room that evening - Mark is checking various weather sites, looking at forecasts and learning a little, just a little, about weather patterns, because it never hurts to know - and says, "Hey, I was talking to Chris. Did you know California's been put under a hurricane warning?"
"The entire state?" Mark snorts.
"Yeah," Dustin says earnestly, and Mark blinks at him.
"That's unusual," he says.
"Bad timing, too." Dustin nods. "Chris is pissed."
"Yeah," Mark says. He frowns and pulls up California's weather alongside New York's.
"I told him God was punishing us," Dustin says. "He didn't think that was funny."
Mark says, "Not God."
Dustin pauses, blinking at him. Mark starts reading about weather in earnest.
Two days pass, and Mark can't go anywhere without hearing conversations about the fucking weather. He's heard mention of this as New York's monsoon season more than once, and several shitty jokes about the apocalypse, for some reason. Every time, he looks at the splatter of the water on the windows and wonders just how insane he's become.
But he's only seen weather like this once before. It had rained for three weeks after Eduardo left, back in Palo Alto at the beginning. It had sometimes stormed, sometimes drizzled, but it always, always rained. By the time it had finally stopped nearly all the streets had been flooded and the news had started coverage of evacuation procedures.
Mark hadn't paid much attention then, too busy with Facebook and Sean's drugs and Eduardo's absence and Dustin's stony, hurt silences to pay much attention to the weather.
He regrets that, a little - he might have more proof now if he had. Instead he's left with an insane suspicion and the urge to catalogue every weather condition he's ever experienced. There is, at the very least, another week before the depositions will be over; Dustin is starting to waver in his determination to stay to the end of everything.
Outside, the thunder gives one last reluctant grumble as the storm starts to subside. Mark blinks at the window and decides he really has nothing to lose.
He writes a program.
The first step was to catalogue the weather. There had been a lot more variation in the weather at Harvard than there had been in Palo Alto, so Mark had decided at least some of that had to be natural, but Palo Alto is a little easier, since its standard weather is almost the same year round; he starts with Palo Alto. So when Mark makes his lists, all Palo Alto weather that wasn't sunny with moderate breezes gets put into a list, where the program will track the date and time of anything unusual, cross-referenced against national and international weather databases to check for patterns and reasonable variation. The Massachusetts weather data is more complicated and so has more variation in what's considered "seasonable"—the program probably won't produce as much conclusive evidence there.
Mark spends most of an evening on it, and ends up with a list of parameters he's pleased with.
Once the list of all suspicious weather in Massachusetts and California from 2002 to 2008, roughly, has been compiled, Mark is going to find a way to compare it against as many of the details of Eduardo's life he can get his hands on. If there's any correlation, Mark will find it.
During the day he sits through more bullshit. Eduardo is melodramatic and distant and dangerous, and the lawyers are by turn pompous and cowardly but always useless. Mark doodles, mostly, trying to keep his mind busy while he watches the glass-windowed wall from the corner of his eye. He draws clouds, mostly, or lightning bolts. Sometimes rainbows, but the cheerful connotation of them usually presents too much irony for him to stomach while Eduardo sits five feet and four years away, acting as if Mark ruined the whole world and this is his comeuppance.
The night before Dustin leaves - because Mark acted as moral support and Dustin felt obligated to return the favor, but Mark doesn't give a shit, and would actually prefer Dustin go babysit the site instead of him, and Dustin is finally listening to what he wants - he grabs Mark's laptop from the desk and holds it captive. He says, "Really, I saw you stalking Eduardo. What's up?"
"I am not stalking Eduardo," Mark says.
"You have more info about his life before age three than anyone except his mother should have," Dustin says. "That's stalking."
"Fuck off," Mark says.
"I'm not giving you back the laptop," Dustin says.
Which is a lie. Dustin would. Mark can wait him out - he has before. But he could use some help, honestly, and there's no reason to lie to Dustin.
"I'm investigating his past to see whether my theory is correct," Mark says.
Dustin tilts his head. "What theory?"
Mark says, "Have you noticed the weird weather?"
"I know you have," Dustin says. "I thought maybe you were picking up Eduardo's meteorology hobby in an effort to feel close to him, or maybe you thought you could establish new common ground."
Mark frowns. "What?"
Dustin shakes his head. "Never mind. What about the weather?"
"It matches Eduardo's moods," Mark says.
Dustin blinks at him for several long moments. Mark watches his laptop, still held tight against Dustin's stomach, just in case an opportunity for reclamation presents itself.
"So," Dustin says, "you think Eduardo's moods control the weather?"
"I think Eduardo controls the weather," Mark says.
"That," Dustin says, after another pregnant pause, "is incredibly cool." And then he demands to see what Mark has.
Dustin is the sort of person to do utterly insane things to support his friends, even if he doesn't agree with them. But he doesn't seem to doubt Mark. Mark doesn't know why he ever underestimates Dustin's willingness to believe the weird and fantastical - or his willingness to help his friends, which this very well may be. Either way, though, Mark doesn't care; and Dustin helps him with the research even once he's back in California.
It's never raining in the mornings. It's overcast almost every day, but it never rains before nine a.m. The Weather Channel, which Mark has started tuning to every morning as soon as he gets up, talks about the "weather block" that's settled over the city, and other parts of the country like California. The hurricane that's brewing right off the coast, the one that has the whole state on high alert, is just sitting there, inactive and menacing.
It's almost humorous, listening to the so-called scientists try to explain what the fuck is going on. Mark finds their utter failure comforting.
The first rain will start to fall early morning, and by lunch there's usually a steady, pathetic drip. Some of the lawyers have started eating lunch in the building, in various offices and spare rooms, because everyone is so tired of going outside. The rain either continues that way for the rest of the day or worsens slowly throughout the afternoon.
It's always in accordance with Eduardo's moods and the pace of the depositions. A lot of people would probably tell Mark he's imagining it, or claim that everyone's mood gets worse as the weather worsens, but Mark doesn't believe in coincidence to this extent. Without conclusive data from the program, he can't prove anything, but he doubts the idea less and less as the days pass. Dustin's still researching Eduardo's past, because Mark isn't allowed access to a computer during the day, and he takes longer than Mark would.
Mark, tired of waiting, decides he'll have to go directly to the source.
The lawyers put a concerted effort into keeping Mark and Eduardo away from each other, aided no doubt by Eduardo's tendency to disappear whenever he's feeling too uncomfortable. However, four days before the depositions are scheduled to end, Mark catches Eduardo in the bathroom.
It takes a little bit of maneuvering, which Mark will never admit he did. He ducks out to use the restroom and makes sure Eduardo's lawyer, that awful, manipulative woman, sees him come back out. Then he heads down the hall, ducking around the corner where the water cooler is. A couple of minutes later he checks back and sees that the lawyers are all clustered together around the center of the conference table, heads bent together. It looks as if they're all plotting something; which would be entirely plausible, in fact, but Mark doesn't really care whether they are or not. The important thing is that Eduardo is not in the room with them, and since he didn't pass by Mark, he must be in the bathroom.
Mark ducks back inside.
Eduardo is washing his hands at the sink, and he looks up and stares at Mark in the mirror.
"Eduardo," Mark says.
Eduardo doesn't answer, just looks back down at his hands and finishes rinsing them.
"Or am I really supposed to call you 'Mr. Saverin?'" Mark says.
Eduardo doesn't react. He shakes the water off his hands and steps over to the towel dispenser, pulling one out and drying his hands meticulously.
"Your lawyer's a bitch," Mark says.
Eduardo throws the towel away and steps toward the door. Mark stays right in front of it. They stand there, staring at each other, until finally Eduardo raises his eyebrows a little and says, quietly, "Mark." He sounds composed and distant and too polite, considering the circumstances.
Mark sneers. "That's the most eloquent thing you have to say? You've had four years to think of something. And your parting words were so affecting."
"Your name versus several spur-of-the-moment, immature insults?" Eduardo says. "I think I've come out on top, here."
Then he reaches out, takes Mark's elbow, and steers him aside just enough to open the door and slide out of the bathroom.
Mark follows Eduardo back into the conference room, feeling powerlessly, helplessly angry: at Eduardo, at the lawyers, at the lawsuits, at Eduardo. Eduardo takes a seat, back straight, and takes a few slow drinks from a glass of water.
Outside the windows, lightning cracks the sky open and rain slams down. Mark meets Eduardo's blank gaze and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, triumphant and fascinating and impossible, that he was right.
Dustin calls repeatedly, over and over, until Mark finally picks up that night. He says he has found all information there is to be had on Eduardo - and his family - between the ages of four and eleven; Mark, while he doesn't exactly believe Dustin, doesn't have time to do more than a cursory check for himself. He at least doesn't appear to have missed anything too important.
"You're welcome," Dustin says. "For breaking every privacy law out there and spending my last four waking days coming to your aid."
"Yes, thank you," Mark says, annoyed. The email with Dustin's data comes through; Mark starts plugging it in.
"So how's it going there?" Dustin asks. "Chris keeps asking me if you've had a mental breakdown yet."
Mark pauses. "By his standards, yes, probably."
"Hey, it's not crazy if it turns out to be true," Dustin says.
"Do you believe me?" Mark asks quietly. It's a moment of weakness, and a stupid question, since it doesn't affect things either way if Dustin doesn't.
"You know, yeah," Dustin says. "I mean, it's weird and crazy and impossible, but if anyone were hiding an ability to control the weather, it'd be Eduardo, right?"
"Or Chris," Mark says.
Dustin snorts. "Exactly. I don't believe you; I believe it, because basically, either Eduardo controls the weather or there is some vast meteorological conspiracy theory centered on him. Super powers don't sound so crazy when compared to the alternative explanations."
"I don't think it's a super power," Mark says.
"He controls the weather," Dustin says.
"He may not know he's doing it," Mark says.
"Believe me," Dustin says. "He knows."
"What do you mean?" Mark asks, frowning.
"There's no way he couldn't," Dustin explains. "I mean, come on. He gets angry and it snows; eventually a person's gonna pick up that they're causing it."
"Has he really made it snow?" Mark asks curiously.
"That was just an example," Dustin says. "But you get my point."
"Yeah," Mark says. He's quiet for a while, and Dustin starts making those absent-minded humming noises that he always does. Usually it pisses Mark off to no end. "Hey," he says. "Thanks."
"Yep," Dustin says lightly. "Gonna go now, dude, bye."
The deposition is almost over. Sy reminds Mark of this every morning, like he's hoping that telling him there's an end in sight will make Mark behave more appropriately. There's no reason it would, and Mark tunes out everything Sy says.
Mark is running out of time; he needs to talk to Eduardo again.
It will be more difficult to catch Eduardo a second time. Mark got to Sy's offices early, so they've got at least an hour before he would normally expect to meet Mark on the way to Eduardo's firm's building.
"I want to talk to Eduardo," Mark says.
Sy looks up. His assistant ducks her head and leaves the room quietly. One of the reasons Chris had recommended this firm is their discretion. "What do you mean?" Sy asks.
"I want to talk to him," Mark says. "Today, before they start asking more questions."
Sy opens his mouth.
"Alone," Mark adds.
"Well, Mark," Sy says. "I'm not going to say I don't understand the temptation, but you have to remember he's suing you. Anything you say to him could undermine our side."
"I'm not going to argue with him," Mark says. "But I am going to talk to him. If you won't help me, I'll catch him in the bathroom again, or figure out where he's staying." He already knows where Eduardo's staying, of course. He checked before he let Sy's firm book him a hotel.
"In the bathroom again," Sy mutters. "It goes against multiple agreements if we let you two talk to each other alone."
Mark stares at him.
"I suppose it wouldn't technically be anyone's fault if you were to meet each other in the conference room while his counsel and I are making arrangements in the hall," Sy says.
Eduardo looks surprised when he walks into the conference room and sees Mark. He looks even more surprised when, after twisting around, he sees none of the lawyers have come in with him.
Mark revises his opinion of Sy to 'slightly above worthless' and says, before Eduardo can bolt, "They'll be in here soon, anyway. You can survive me for a couple of minutes, can't you?"
Eduardo looks at him, mouth firming, and then walks carefully around to his normal seat at the table.
"The bathroom was immature," Mark says.
Eduardo raises his eyebrows, meeting Mark's eyes - probably inadvertently, judging by the way he looks away immediately after. "I'm surprised you're admitting that," he says.
"I didn't know how to start talking to you," Mark says.
Nodding, Eduardo says, "I understand how it could be difficult."
Eduardo is a passive-aggressive bitch. Mark breathes out through his nose and says, "So what do you think of the weather we've been having?"
Face blank, Eduardo says, "I'm in agreement with everyone else, I imagine. It sucks."
"You should see California," Mark says.
"I haven't kept up with California's weather," Eduardo says vaguely. He starts thumbing through papers.
He's evading the question. Mark narrows his eyes. "You should. People say it's really interesting. And you always liked weather. Maybe even had an affinity for it."
Eduardo meets his eyes again and says, "I have better things to do."
"Clearly," Mark snorts before he can stop himself.
What little tension had eased from Eduardo's face returns full-strength. Mark swears to himself, but before he can try again the lawyers bustle into the room.
Gretchen is in full bitch mode, glowering between Eduardo and Mark, and from the way she eyes Sy, she clearly suspects they've been set up.
"I hope you haven't been discussing the suit at all," she says to Mark and Eduardo. "You know that could breach contract."
"We were talking about the weather," Mark says.
"Sy," Gretchen says, "your client seems to be unaware of the repercussions of contract breaches."
"Are they worse than half a billion dollars?" Mark asks. "Because if so, they're not really repercussions, are they?"
Everyone in the room seems to shift uncomfortably. Eduardo stares at Mark across the table, and the droplets of rain start to fall outside. Mark stares back at Eduardo, and then glances very deliberately at the window.
The meeting gets worse from there. Gretchen is worse when she's actually pissed, which Mark would've have thought possible, but there it is. She's a much better lawyer than Sy - maybe not in total, but in this case, for Eduardo, she is, and Mark thinks it's only fair to judge lawyers by their cases and right now, Sy has not been all too impressive. He spends most of the day protesting borderline-rude comments Gretchen and Eduardo make and verbally retreating from every question they try to ask Mark.
In short, he's losing.
Then he brings up the chicken. Mark reaches over to touch his arm but Sy waves him off. Eduardo looks incredulous, and Sy gets what he deserves, because Mark doesn't blame them for bringing up cheating in response to animal abuse at all - it's only playing on Sy's level, after all.
Still, Mark decides he rather enjoys having the moral high ground for once - Eduardo's face when he parrots "Oops," back at him is priceless.
Mark gets woken before dawn the next morning. He flails until he locates his phone, on top of the covers somewhere in the vicinity of his hip. He misses the days when early morning phone calls were usually from his mother and he could ignore most of them. Now they usually mean the site's about to go down and he can't ignore any of them.
"What?" he snaps.
"What the hell happened yesterday?" Dustin says by way of greeting.
"What?" Mark says. "Is something wrong with the site?" He grabs his laptop from the nightstand and sits up.
"No, what?" Dustin says. "I'm talking about the weather."
Mark leans back against the headboard and blows out a breath. "Dustin, it's not even six a.m. and you called because there's nothing wrong with the site?"
"It's not even three a.m. here," Dustin says, "and I'm calling because it's fucking April and Palo Alto is covered in snow."
Mark stares at his computer screen blankly. "Snow," he says.
"Like two inches or something," Dustin says, excited. "Actual snow. It's been coming down all night. At first a lot of it melted because it was sixty five degrees before it started coming down."
"When did it start?" Mark asks.
"Yesterday, late afternoon," Dustin says. "Which is why I asked what happened."
"Oh," Mark says. His head hurts. He rubs between his eyebrows and then casts around the room, wondering if this is one of the hotels that include drugs in the minibar.
There's a pregnant pause. "You're not going to tell me," Dustin says. "Fine. So after it started snowing, I started digging around some more. Like, we didn't get snow in Palo Alto back then and just didn't notice, right? I mean, I know the program will catch all of that, but I was just curious, so I asked a couple of people. And guess what?"
"Dustin," Mark repeats. "It is six a.m." He wants to take aspirin and curl back up to sleep for another two hours until the obnoxious wake up call from the front desk comes.
"And I haven't slept at all yet," Dustin says. "Don't bitch."
"So what did you find?" Mark says.
"Back when Palo Alto was first getting rained on?" Dustin says. "Apparently he was going easy on us. I was asking a couple of the guys who were around that whole fall and Sean came in - I think he was hoping you were back, he looked disappointed when I said you were still in New York - and started going on and on about evil fucking clouds. Turns out he's paranoid of thunderstorms."
"Okay," Mark says, rolling his eyes.
"You know why? Because four years ago, he nearly got hit by lightning."
"That doesn't mean anything," Mark says. He frowns. "He was probably standing in the middle of the desert waving his arms."
"Nope," Dustin says. "He says he was in the middle of the street in LA and it was only kind of drizzling. And then suddenly he almost got electrocuted."
"Whatever," Mark says.
"Five times," Dustin says.
Mark blinks. "He's exaggerating."
"I dunno, dude," Dustin says. "You didn't see his face."
"Eduardo wouldn't try to electrocute Sean. He didn't even punch him," Mark snaps. "He wouldn't try to kill him."
"People survive lightning strikes!" Dustin says. "But hey, maybe it was an accident. I just thought you'd want to know."
"I'll finish the program this morning," Mark says.
"Send me everything it finds," Dustin says. "I'm going to bed now."
"Yeah," Mark says. "Thanks, Dustin."
In a move Chris would probably call cowardly but Mark considers strategic, Mark doesn't try to talk to Eduardo about it again. He already knows Eduardo is avoiding him, after all, and clearly subtle hints aren't going to get him anywhere. If he did ask outright, Eduardo would deny it, whether it's true or not. Mark is pretty sure Eduardo doesn't want him to know. He would've told Mark, told all of them, earlier if he did.
But Mark does have questions, so he starts looking into Eduardo's family. He's not sure what he's looking for, exactly - it's not as if he expects any of their birth certificates to have aptitude for weather control printed small and neat in a bottom corner - but he's sure there must be something.
Mark spends a his whole evening digging through every branch of the Saverin family tree he can get his hands on, including researching relatives he's pretty sure Eduardo isn't even aware he has. Nothing comes up; he doesn't know enough about the family to be able to connect personal events with weather in the location they lived. The program is still searching, but from preliminary results, Mark is starting to suspect there was one major flaw in the program: everyone will have something that appears to line up with the weather at least occasionally, because the weather really does seem to change that often. Without adding in data from a lot more test subjects, there's no way to get statistical proof that Eduardo's lines up more often than might be normal.
Searching through family history isn't looking like it will be any more conclusive than using Eduardo's personal data was, until finally Mark gets to Eduardo's immediate family. There's nothing promising there, either, until he looks at Brazil the year Eduardo's family left.
The weather had been moderate and seasonal until two weeks before they arrived in Florida. Then a small, concentrated tropical storm had risen around the coastal area ten miles from the Saverin home and moved inexorably inward. It had spread as it moved inland, growing, and had actually made a few headlines at the time because it had been such odd behavior for a weather front.
It looks a lot like what has been happening to California.
Mark saves a couple of the articles about it and all the important dates in his file on Eduardo to a flash drive and closes down his computer.
He should call Eduardo now, or go see him. Instead he pulls up Eduardo's parents' contact info and, after a moment of indecision, he calls Eduardo's mother.
She answers on the third ring, says, "Hello!" bright and cheerful.
"Mrs. Saverin?" Mark says.
"Speaking," she says.
"I—" Mark says. "This is Mark Zuckerberg."
There's no response. He tries again. "Mark Zuckerberg, I…Eduardo, your son—"
"I know who my son is, thank you," she says, and all the good humor in her voice is gone. "Why, exactly, are you calling me, Mark Zuckerberg?"
Mark frowns. "I need to ask you a question."
"Really?" she says. "I have no interest in telling you anything about Eduardo. This lawsuit business—"
"Eduardo sued me," Mark snaps before he realizes how childish it will sound.
"Yes," she says, voice dry. "But that does not encourage me to provide you with any information to use against him."
"I don't want—" Mark says, and then he rolls his eyes and asks, "Does Eduardo control the weather?"
There's a long, pregnant pause. All the background noise from before is gone; Mark doesn't know if she turned the volume down or went somewhere quieter, but he can hear her breathing. Or not breathing, as the case may be.
"There's too much of a correlation for it to be coincidence," Mark says.
"You realize what you're asking isn't possible," she says.
"It's not coincidence," Mark repeats. "I know he does."
"Then why did you call?" she says coldly.
"How does it work?" Mark asks. "Why is he making it rain and storm? Why in California and New York?"
"You're full of questions," she says.
"I tried to talk to him about it," Mark says. "He wouldn't say anything."
"I can't imagine why not," she says. After a moment, she sighs. Mark feels as if he's won something. "If I tell you, will you leave him alone?"
"Yes," Mark lies.
She snorts. "He doesn't mean to. It's not always something they can help - anyone in this family who can do it. Sometimes things just express themselves this way."
"The bad weather," Mark says. "It does mean he's upset."
"Yes," she says.
"Because of the depositions," Mark says. "He's upset because of the depositions, the same way he was upset back then."
"Aren't you?" she asks.
"I'm not the reason we have to go through all of this," Mark says.
She mutters something that Mark is willing to bet is probably an insult. "Of course you are," she says.
"No," Mark says. Because this is the thing Mark never got about Eduardo: why all the trouble? If it were someone else, it could be about money, Mark would understand; but Eduardo has done more than well enough for himself in the few years he's been out of college already, and he was never really the type to begin with.
If it weren't about money, it could be about pride - Mark embarrassed him, he's lost a good opportunity, he was angry about being replaced or made useless.
But the Winklevii sued him and settled for a lot less money and time than Eduardo will. They invested a lot less in the first place, so it takes a lot less to recuperate their perceived losses. Mark could understand that, too. But if they sued him because of money and pride, then he has no idea what Eduardo is suing him for, because Eduardo doesn't look at him the way the Winklevii did.
And since it's not for money or pride, Mark doesn't know why Eduardo would go through all of this.
He tries to ask, because he thinks if anyone will know, it might be Eduardo's mother. He can't even get the question out, doesn't know how to phrase "Why?" in a way that encompasses everything he doesn't understand. He settles for, "Why do this if it only makes him more unhappy?"
"Maybe it's better than not doing it," she says.
"Can they—can he do any of it on purpose?" Mark asks.
"What do you mean?"
She listens to his endless questions, lets him try to clarify why that's important. He talks about lightning and Sean, and how letting him find out about this when it's too late for him to have connection with it, when he can't be around Eduardo and ask and learn and examine, is worse than the depositions or anything else Eduardo could've done, because shoving something like this in his face and then taking it away is terrible, he will never be able to stop thinking about it.
When he's done, then she says, "If you want to know if he's happy to be tormenting you, you'll have to talk to my son."
"I can't," Mark says. "Lawyers won't let us."
"And that's stopped you twice before," she says.
"Alright," Mark says sullenly. "Thank you," he adds, though she hasn't been a whole lot of help.
"Please don't call me again," she says.
Mark can't stop the depositions from ending. They do, and Mark doesn't see Eduardo again. He doesn't stick around to see the settlement. Mark stays until the day after it's done.
He gets back to his house early evening, calls Dustin to make sure there's nothing Mark isn't noticing on his end, and then sleeps for sixteen hours.
When he gets up to go to the offices, he has to wade through four inches of snow to get to his car. He kicks through it, huffing, and thinks fuck you, too.
It's wonderful to be back in his own building. Mark doesn't like New York or offices that are thirty stories up in the air. It's nice to put his feet on the floor and know there's actual ground under them.
Chris stops in to say hello and ask a lot of questions about how Mark is. Mark says he's fine and ignores everything else. Chris doesn't try too hard; Mark isn't surprised.
Dustin, when he arrives, announces that he's decided they have to tell Chris. Mark doesn't really see why, particularly since Chris is guaranteed not to believe a word they say, but Dustin is determined. Mark is feeling sort of restlessly bored, itchy under his skin, so he agrees.
"I'm sorry, what?" Chris says, folding his hands on the table in front of him.
"Eduardo controls the weather," Dustin repeats gamely.
Chris narrows his eyes. "Your sense of humor misses me sometimes."
"We're not joking," Dustin says, and he has his serious face on, the one that's calm and weird and actually kind of mature.
Chris switches to Mark. "What the hell?"
So Mark drags out his research. Chris makes noises at first about how creepy the stalking is, and alternates between looking irritated and pitying, as if he has any idea what's going on. Then Dustin gets him to actually look at what Mark has, and Chris just looks freaked out.
"Eduardo can't control the weather," he says, a little desperately. "People don't do that."
"Eduardo's mother said it's mostly a subconscious control," Mark says. "He may not even realize he's doing it."
"Oh, he realizes," Dustin mutters.
"Eduardo's mother," Chris says. "You've talked to his mother?"
"I needed confirmation," Mark says.
"Of course," Chris says, with more sarcasm than Mark feels the situation warrants.
"Look, I didn't believe it at first either," Dustin says, and Mark snorts because wow, that's a lie, but Dustin and Chris both ignore him. "But this isn't coincidence. I mean, come on - California hasn't had normal weather for three weeks, since the depositions began, and it was raining constantly in New York—"
"That's New York," Chris says.
"—and it's snowing outside, Chris, all you have to do is look."
Chris shakes his head slowly. "The weather is weird, yes. I'm not arguing that. But there is no reason California's weather should be messed up because Eduardo's upset. He hasn't been in California for half a decade, and he wasn't here during any of our weird weather."
"Sean almost got hit by lightning and Peter Thiel's house flooded before any of the ones in other neighborhoods, even ones at lower altitudes, did," Dustin says. "The weather reflects Eduardo's emotional reaction to Mark. Mark has been in California during all this weather."
"Except when I was in New York," Mark says, before Chris can. "And his mother said it was probably focused on California because that's where the majority of his issues lie, so even when Mark isn't here, the weather stays."
"You knew he was talking to her?" Chris says to Dustin.
"He helped me research," Mark says.
Dustin kicks him. "And if we want California to not suck for the foreseeable future, we need to get Eduardo to stop dumping freaky weather all over us."
"Also so he'll stop trying to electrocute Sean," Mark says absently. Outside, the wind has picked up, and the snow is slanting sideways as it drifts across the window.
"You don't actually believe he's nearly gotten struck by lightning that many times," Chris says.
"Since Eduardo's the one doing it, I think he's pretty lucky he hasn't actually been hit that many times," Dustin says.
"So Eduardo subconsciously controls the weather and is punishing the state of California because of Mark, but sometimes he controls it consciously, too," Chris says. "And now he feels shitty so our weather is punishing us."
"You don't sound convinced," Dustin says doubtfully.
"Really?" Chris says. "I was worried the sarcasm wasn't getting through."
"Look, it would also explain why Mark never got frostbite at Harvard," Dustin says.
"Because Mark never froze any of his toes off," Chris says, "Eduardo must control the weather."
"Eduardo's love kept him warm," Dustin says, nodding.
"Fuck off," Mark says.
"You're both insane," Chris says.
"Anyway," Dustin says loudly, as Mark scowls and tries to tell Chris just how fucking oblivious he's being, "Mark needs to go talk to Eduardo, so he's going to Singapore."
"Eduardo will laugh you out of the country," Chris says.
"He won't," Mark says. "I know I'm right. He'll have to talk to me."
"You don't know you're right," Chris says.
"His mother told me," Mark says.
"She's his mother," Chris says. "She could be fucking with you for upsetting her kid."
Mark scowls. "No."
Chris sighs and puts a hand over his face and refuses to talk to them any more. Dustin nudges Mark out of his office.
"I'm not wrong," Mark says.
"I know," Dustin says. "It's kind of cool, isn't it?"
Mark shrugs. "I guess."
They stop at Dustin's desk. Mark digs his hands into his pockets.
"So what are you going to do?" Dustin prompts.
"The weather's really fucked up," Mark says.
Dustin raises his eyebrows. "Yeah."
Mark says, "It might cause major environmental problems soon."
"You don't give a shit about the environment," Dustin says. "But yeah, and it means Eduardo's in emotional turmoil. Which is your fault."
Mark shrugs again.
"So," Dustin says.
"You think I can fix it?" Mark asks.
Dustin doesn't look as confident as Mark would like. "Sure," he says.
"It can't get any worse," Mark says.
"True," Dustin says.
"I should go to Singapore," Mark says. "Seeing me can't make it worse."
"Dude," Dustin says. "It's fucking snowing outside."
"Yeah?" Mark says cautiously.
"Go for it," Dustin says, and smiles at him.
It's not difficult to find Eduardo. Mark gets a text right after his plane lands, informing him there is a driver waiting to take him to Eduardo's address, because Chris may not believe the weather thing but he's entirely supportive of Mark getting Eduardo back. Mark is relieved for the help; he slept some on the flight, but almost twenty-four hours of traveling is exhausting.
It's mid-morning in Singapore and the street in front of the high-rise Eduardo inhabits is bustling. The car stops on the wrong side of the street and Mark shoulders the door open, weaving between stopped cars and through the rush of foot traffic on the sidewalk. The doorman looks at him dubiously; Mark ignores him and pulls open the heavy door himself.
The noise on the street is muted to a quiet hush as soon as the door closes behind him. Mark takes quick stock of the lobby, noting the lush decorations and the front desk attendant eyeing him carefully, and then he stands in front of the bank of elevators along the back wall. They're the kind that requires keycard access, and Mark waits in front of them, shuffling his feet. This time of the morning, one will undoubtedly be down soon.
The doors on the leftmost elevator open just as the desk attendant starts asking questions in a language Mark doesn't speak. Mark ignores her, slipping into the elevator as the last of the morning commuters unload. From there it's a quick, uninterrupted ride up to floor 21. Apartment B is down the hall and around the corner, and then Mark is standing on Eduardo's doorstep.
Since there seems to be two options - start to feel nervous or get things over with - Mark knocks.
About thirty seconds pass, during which Mark has time to wish the condos were a little shittier, so he'd be able to hear if there's any movement inside. He doesn't know if Eduardo's home; if he is, for all Mark knows, he could check the peephole and refuse to answer.
Then the door opens.
Eduardo blinks at him, all dressed for work, and promptly shuts the door in his face.
Mark, a little affronted but not surprised, knocks again. This time, when Eduardo opens the door, he leaves it open, gaping at Mark. Mark feels a little like gaping back - it's still a little difficult to process the differences between this Eduardo and his - but instead he says, "You don't even have the penthouse."
Eduardo, in what Mark feels is a bit of an overreaction, shuts the door again.
So Mark knocks for the third - and what he is determined will be the final - time.
When Eduardo next opens the door he has his suit jacket on. He says, "Mark. What the hell?"
Mark frowns. "I came to see you," he says.
He considers this a statement of the obvious, but from the way Eduardo stares some more, Mark starts to wonder if it needs repeating.
"Why?" Eduardo says finally.
"To…" Mark says, stalling. He's pretty sure to ask you about the weather will earn him another door in his face. Even if Eduardo gave him enough time to explain how he knows about the weather control, that probably wouldn't improve his case. Mark is pretty sure Eduardo doesn't want him to know. Though Dustin was clearly exaggerating, the weather does reveal more about Eduardo's emotional state than he would probably want. Eduardo has demonstrated that he wants as much distance from Mark as possible, and the fact that Mark discovered his weird super power and has been analyzing every facet of his past is probably not distant enough.
Eduardo's expression gets darker the longer he waits.
"Can I come in?" Mark says.
"No," Eduardo says incredulously. He steps out into the hall and shuts the door behind himself. "I'm going to work now. You should leave."
Mark grits his teeth and walks with Eduardo to the elevators. "I want to talk to you."
Eduardo pushes the button, staring at the shut doors and ignoring Mark. One of his feet taps against the floor; quick, quiet drumming. Mark isn't sure he's even aware he's doing it.
"Eduardo," Mark says.
Eduardo ignores him.
"Or am I supposed to call you Mr. Saverin?" Mark says.
Eduardo snaps, "Fuck you," right as the elevator dings. He steps in amongst the other occupants, almost all of whom are politely looking at nothing.
"I'm not leaving," Mark says.
Eduardo sets his jaw and doesn't say anything.
Eduardo gets home relatively late. It's dark outside, and sort of drizzly, but Mark doesn't know if that's Eduardo or just Singapore. Mark had been alert when the first trickle of businessmen and women had started returning to the building, watching all three elevators carefully, but Eduardo hadn't shown. Mark had hoped he was working, not out with someone, because it would have been really inconvenient if he hadn't come home.
Mark had napped a little during the day, falling asleep with his head against the wall, until a housewife from across the hall had opened the door and demanded to know who he is. When he had explained, as vaguely as he could, what he was doing in the hallway, she had nodded and declared herself his ally in his quest for love. Mark had meant to explain she'd misunderstood - not least because, on the off chance Eduardo ever talked to her, Mark didn't want him to hear it called that - but she'd swept him inside and let him shower and given him breakfast and a robe while she washed his clothes. Since Mark had looked and smelled like the full day he'd spent on a plane, which wasn't going to endear him to Eduardo, he'd thanked her as politely as he knew how and then spent another hour avoiding further questions about his and Eduardo's relationship.
He'd eventually gone back to sit in the hall, but she confirmed that he had several hours until Eduardo even might show up again, and he'd ended up sitting with her. She'd kept him awake for a few hours, bringing him lunch and sitting with him. She doesn't know Eduardo very well, Mark had discovered, when he ventured hesitantly into that territory. It was surprising - Mark had always thought Eduardo would be the type to get to know his neighbors.
She had eventually abandoned him, wishing him luck and retreating into her apartment to start dinner. Mark, still full from lunch, had declined her invitation to join her and her husband. He hadn't wanted to risk not catching Eduardo; he hadn't wanted to give Eduardo false hope that he'd left.
When Eduardo gets back he looks tired. He's looking down as he comes around the corner, and Mark says, "Hello."
Eduardo jumps, just a little, straightening up quickly. "Mark," he says.
Mark can't read his tone. "Yeah," he says.
"You're still here," Eduardo says. He takes another slow step forward.
"Yeah," Mark says.
"Have you come to apologize?" Eduardo says.
Mark blinks. "No," he says.
"No," Eduardo repeats slowly, narrowing his eyes at him.
He sounds calmer than he had that morning. Mark watches him warily. "No."
"You're waiting in my hallway because you aren't going to apologize," Eduardo says.
Mark, getting impatient, says, "Yes, I am not apologizing, haven't we established this?"
"Why not?" Eduardo says.
Taken aback, Mark says, "Because I don't have anything to apologize for."
"Feel free to fuck off," Eduardo tells him, and shoulders his way past Mark into his apartment.
Faced with another shut door, Mark has no clue what to do. He calls Chris, after carefully calculating the time difference and deciding Chris can just wake the fuck up.
"He won't even let me in the apartment," Mark says as soon as Chris picks up.
Chris groans sleepily. "Mark," he says.
"I've been waiting out here since this morning," Mark says. "I think he wants me to apologize."
"Of course he does," Chris says, exasperated.
Mark scowls and doesn't say anything.
"Why don't you?" Chris asks, using his gentle voice.
Mark scowls harder and says, "Because I was right."
Chris sighs loudly, and Mark gears himself up for another fight, but surprisingly Chris just takes another breath in and says, "You know what? Let's leave all of that out of this."
"What?" Mark says.
"It doesn't matter if what you did, or how you did it, was right or wrong," Chris says.
"It doesn't?" Mark asks suspiciously.
"No," Chris says. "What matters is what Eduardo thinks of what you did."
"Look, you hurt him. Leaving aside why or how, the basic issue is that he's upset. This weather thing you're obsessed with has proved that, hasn't it?"
"We can't ignore why or how," Mark says.
"Yes, you can," Chris says. "He's hurt, you want him to stop feeling that way."
"Because it's irrational," Mark says.
"Yeah," Chris says. "People are irrational. Our feelings make no sense and can't be helped. Get over it."
"He's—" Mark says.
"You followed him to Singapore because you think rain means he's sad, Mark," Chris says. "You're not exactly entirely rational, either."
"He does control the weather," Mark says sullenly.
"Talk to him. Apologize for the things you can, don't mention the things you can't."
Mark is silent.
Finally, Chris yawns and says, "I'm going back to sleep. When you talk to him, don't start by saying he's being irrational. And avoid talking about the lawsuits."
"He'll bring them up," Mark says.
"I really don't think he will," Chris says slowly. "But you'll just have to see."
"But—" Mark says, and then the beep of a disconnected call sounds loud in his ear.
Mark turns around, knocks again, and calls, "Okay, yes, I'm going to apologize."
Eduardo opens the door. "Chris convinced you quickly."
"Were you eavesdropping?" Mark asks suspiciously.
Eduardo shuts the door again.
"Really?" Mark calls.
"I'm not listening to you apologize just because Chris told you to," Eduardo calls back, and Mark can hear the heavy lock slide into place.
He falls asleep in the hall. He doesn't mean to, but he's lost track of how long he's been awake and his eyes are gritty and tired. He sits down against the wall right next to the door and tries to stay awake, but he falls asleep as soon as he leans his head back.
He wakes up to a hand on his shoulder and Eduardo kneeling in front of him. It's gone as soon as he blinks his eyes open, and Eduardo's face is unreadable when Mark can get his eyes to focus.
"Go to a hotel," Eduardo says.
"No," Mark says. He adds, when Eduardo doesn't move, "Don't need to."
"Mark," Eduardo says, half-sigh, and Mark wants to smile, stupid and needless, just from hearing the familiar tone. But he doesn't, because he's not sure Eduardo would understand.
"Yeah," he says. "Wake me up again when you go to work in the morning?"
Eduardo stands up and walks back into his apartment. Mark swallows a little too hard and closes his eyes again.
But the door doesn't shut. "Well, come in then," Eduardo says, unfairly sharp.
Mark scrambles to his feet.
Eduardo feeds him, shoving a plate covered in noodles with some sort of white sauce across the kitchen island. They eat like that, standing on opposite sides of the gleaming white expanse. Eduardo won't meet Mark's eyes, but Mark stares at him the whole time anyway.
"Your neighbors are nice," Mark says at last, lacking anything else.
"The lady from across the hall?" Eduardo asks, glancing up quickly.
"She's nosy," Eduardo says. "But yes, I suppose she is nice."
Mark pokes his fork at his plate, scraping the tines across the porcelain. "I thought you'd be friends with all your neighbors."
Eduardo snorts, shaking his head and turning away. He takes the plates - Mark only considers protesting for a second - and sets them in the sink, and Mark wonders if he'll be sent out again, but then Eduardo sighs and slumps, all the tension going out of him at once. Without turning around, he asks, "Why are you here?"
Mark has always thought Eduardo gives up too easily, but he's never been thankful for it before this moment. "I told you," he says. "I wanted to see you."
"Why?" Eduardo says, turning around. He sounds tired, and frustrated, and sad; Mark doesn't need rain to tell.
"To apologize," he says.
Eduardo's mouth tightens. "I told you I don't want to hear it," he says. "Just because Chris said—"
"No," Mark says. "I'm not going to apologize just because Chris told me to."
"Are you going to do it because you're tired of shitty weather?" Eduardo says.
"I know you called my mother," Eduardo says. He smiles humorlessly. "She told me you were very determined."
"You can control the weather," Mark says.
"Yeah," Eduardo says.
Mark nods slowly. "I didn't think you'd admit it."
"My mother already told you," Eduardo says. "And you probably found some way of proving it before you ever called her, so I don't think there's much of a point. But if you're here to apologize because you want the shitty weather to stop, you don't need to worry. It'll settle down soon."
Mark frowns. "What do you mean?"
"Nothing," Eduardo says, shaking his head. He pushes away from the counter. "I'm going to book you a room. There are a few nice hotels a street away."
"No," Mark says.
Eduardo makes a disgusted noise, leaving the kitchen. Mark follows him into the living room.
"You can sleep on the couch," Eduardo says grudgingly.
"You don't have a guest room?" Mark asks, surprised.
"I turned it into an office," Eduardo says. He adds, "Sorry," and then makes a face as if he regrets it.
Mark smiles a little. Eduardo scowls at him. Mark stops.
"I'll get you blankets," Eduardo mutters. "You look like you're going to pass out standing up."
"It's a long flight to Singapore from California," Mark says.
"Yeah," Eduardo says, rolling his eyes, and disappears into the bathroom.
He comes out with a couple sheets and a blanket, which he sets on the edge of his couch. "I have an early business meeting tomorrow," he says, stepping back and holding himself straight.
"Wake me up," Mark says.
"I'm kicking you out," Eduardo says. He retreats down the hall, probably to his bedroom, and Mark kicks off his shoes, drags the blanket over himself, and passes out.
He's woken rather abruptly the next morning by an explosion of sunlight in his face and Eduardo saying his name a little too loudly.
"Wah?" he slurs out, and throws an arm over his face. Eduardo must've opened the curtains.
"Get up," Eduardo says. His shoes tap past the couch into the kitchen.
Mark, if this were any other person at any other time, would tell him to go fuck himself. Instead he thinks it, very vehemently, and then drags himself upright. He stumbles into the kitchen after Eduardo and takes the mug Eduardo shoves into his hands out of habit.
"There's a couple of flights leaving this morning," Eduardo says.
"There's always a couple of flights leaving," Mark mutters.
"Yes, but you'll be on one of these," Eduardo says, glaring.
Mark sets his jaw.
"Just go home," Eduardo says.
"I want to talk to you first," Mark says.
"We've spent the past few weeks doing nothing but talking," Eduardo says. "Haven't you had enough?"
"No," Mark says. "We've spent the past few weeks talking about each other. It doesn't count."
Eduardo doesn't respond.
Mark takes a deep breath, bites down a yawn, and says, "So I wanted to apologize."
"I told you I don't want to hear it," Eduardo says immediately.
"Then you'll have to plug your ears," Mark says sharply. "Maybe you can hum a song while you do it."
Eduardo looks pissed. "Fine," he says. He raises his eyebrows, looking challenging. "Convince me. What are you going to apologize for that I'll believe?"
"For hurting you," Mark says.
"You want to apologize for hurting me," Eduardo says. His face is blank. "Which I'm supposed to believe you're not doing because of the weather, or because someone told you to, or any other external motivating factor."
"Yeah," Mark says. He realizes he's biting the inside of his cheek and makes himself stop. "I don't want you to be upset. I can't change anything, but I'm sorry."
Eduardo's face twists. He looks confused and angry, and Mark almost takes a step back. "Would you change anything?"
"I don't know," Mark says. "I've never thought about it."
Eduardo just looks at him.
"I haven't," Mark says defensively. "I can't change things for me any more than I can for you."
Eduardo sticks his hands in his pants pockets and leans back against the counter. Mark opens his mouth, decides there's nothing else safe he can say, and shuts it again.
"I always thought it would help," Eduardo says after a long time, during which Mark drinks half of his coffee and wonders what he'll do if Eduardo dismisses him. "Hearing you apologize. I thought I would feel better."
Mark's shoulders stiffen. "You don't?"
Eduardo sighs. "No. I don't know. It just doesn't seem like it matters. I don't care as much as I thought I would."
"Oh," Mark says. He straightens up, turns and tries to remember where he set his bag down. "I'll go."
Eduardo sighs again, louder. "Mark. I didn't mean it like that."
"It doesn't matter how you meant it," Mark says, and realizes with slight surprise that he does understand what Chris was talking about.
"I only meant," Eduardo says, slow and deliberate, "that at one point I thought an apology would fix everything, but I think it's more complicated than that. It's not your fault."
"I get it," Mark says. He shrugs. "But I came to see you and we've talked. There's no reason for me to stay."
"Unless you wanted to see the city," Eduardo says, as if the words have been dragged out of him. "If you wanted me to show you around."
Mark pauses. "Yeah?"
"Only if you want," Eduardo says.
"Yeah, okay," Mark says. He swallows and turns to look at Eduardo again. "Your meeting?"
"Started half an hour ago," Eduardo says, mouth quirking.
"Yeah, okay," Mark repeats like an idiot, but Eduardo smiles at him, small but definite.
Singapore, Mark learns, is much like New York City; accordingly, Mark likes it just as much.
"There's not that many people," Eduardo protests.
Mark looks pointedly around the "quiet" restaurant Eduardo has taken them to for lunch, which is holding as many tables and chairs as could possibly fit and must be nearing its maximum occupancy limit.
"I like people," Eduardo says, trying another tactic.
Mark shrugs. "I know."
Eduardo looks down, stirring his tea. That's another thing - Eduardo drinks tea now. He'd explained, seeming a little embarrassed, that coffee had started giving his stomach trouble for a while, and he'd had to switch to tea. Now, he still prefers coffee, but there are some types of tea he still drinks occasionally. Mark hadn't known there was tea beyond "green" and "black," but Eduardo had rolled his eyes and looked unimpressed when he'd said so.
Mark had backed off, only partly because he didn't want to risk pissing Eduardo off - mostly, he was wary of Eduardo deciding to make him try some.
There are too many awkward silences. Mark is being careful; it takes a lot of energy, but he doesn't want to lose the first real ground he's gained in all this. The longer Eduardo spends showing Mark the city, the more time he spends with Mark.
But it's awful. It's like suffering through a business meeting. It was actually easier with lawyers between them. Eduardo tries too hard, which confuses Mark, because he can't tell what Eduardo is trying for - he's made it clear he hasn't forgiven Mark, and Mark would bet Eduardo's thinking about the depositions at least as often as he is. But Eduardo is trying too hard, flitting around as if playing perfect guide will distract Mark - distract them both - from the agony that is their interactions. He's acting as if he's done something wrong, even though this is no more his fault than it is Mark's.
Mark does remember this from Eduardo from back at Harvard; unfortunately, that doesn't help, because it was something Mark had never understood even then.
Finally, desperate to get Eduardo to talk about anything besides the history of Singapore's colonization, Mark asks Eduardo what he does.
Mark had looked up what he did, of course - investment analyst and advisor for one of the biggest international firms, with prospects of being a good, incredibly highly paid consultant within the next ten years. But it's different listening to Eduardo talk about it. He mentions things, when he gets going and forgets himself, that Mark is pretty sure he doesn't mean to talk about. Mark learns about his friends and some of his coworkers, about how much Eduardo really hates his boss, not because the guy's an asshole but because he's incompetent, and Eduardo's fondness for investing small amounts of money in unlikely ventures because it gives him something interesting to watch.
He flushes once he's admitted the last thing, and Mark has never liked the stock market so much.
Probably as retribution, Eduardo asks about Facebook. It seems to slip out, and Mark starts to answer automatically, habit and familiarity taking over; then he - and Eduardo, he thinks - realize what he's talking about and freezes.
"Go on," Eduardo says. "I asked. I want to know."
Mark takes it for the permission it maybe wasn't meant entirely as, and answers Eduardo's question. Then the next one, and the one after that. It's freeing, to be over this one big hurdle, where Mark doesn't have to skirt around the glaring fact of what he does every day of his life.
He means to stop talking, he does, but Eduardo asks again and then keeps asking, well past lunch, and finally Mark is telling him everything, down to last year's interns' competition, including the girl who almost made Dustin cry.
Eduardo laughs for the first time.
And it's stupid, and ridiculous, and completely unfounded, but the next breath Mark takes feels a little lighter.
Eduardo takes them back to his apartment after dinner, once Mark has sworn he has no interest at all in nightlife. They stand awkwardly in the living room for a minute or so, looking carefully around each other, and then Eduardo makes noises about work - he very definitely doesn't say anything about Mark going home or airports, so Mark ignores him - and retreats into his bedroom. Mark takes his jeans off, sinks down onto the couch, and pulls the blanket over himself. His feet are tired and he feels like he's fulfilled his exercise quota for the year, but underneath the hush of the air conditioning he can hear Eduardo moving around in the bedroom, and he closes his eyes, content.
Mark gets woken up more gently this time. Eduardo nudges him, tapping his shoulder lightly until he grumbles and opens his eyes.
"I should be in to work in a little while," Eduardo says. "You can find your way back to the airport, right?"
"Skip," Mark says, yawning and sitting up.
"What?" Eduardo asks.
"I wasn't planning on leaving yet. Skip work," Mark says. "We can't have covered the entire city in one day."
"Yeah, okay," Eduardo says after a minute. Mark pushes the blanket off and stands up, ignoring the way Eduardo's eyes flick down his body. "We should at least get you clothes, then," he says. "I can't believe you came without any luggage at all."
Mark shrugs and waits for Eduardo to lead the way to breakfast.
Mark started off protesting against the specialty boutiques. He can get everything he needs - which is really just another pair of jeans, some boxers, and a t-shirt or two - at a department store; he doesn't need to go to one of the expensive specialty retailers.
Then Eduardo, with an evil glint in his eye, takes him to one of the department stores. Mark, after he gets lost three times just trying to get past the women's section and figure out what floor the men's clothing is on, gives up and lets Eduardo choose where they go. Mark ends up with clothes from a very nice - horrendously expensive, but the fuck does he care? - shop with very nice salespeople, who take one look at him and bring out two bags with the (they assure him) appropriately-sized clothes. He doesn't even have to try anything on.
"Singapore has just revolutionized shopping for you, hasn't it?" Eduardo asks once they leave, sounding unduly amused.
"That was less effort than buying things online," Mark says.
"You're welcome," Eduardo says.
They stop back at Eduardo's apartment so Eduardo can make Mark change. Everything does fit, and while it probably is some famous designer, Mark can't tell, so it's good enough.
For the rest of the morning, they tour the major landmarks of the city. Eduardo puts up with Mark's interest in the History Museum, letting him stay until well past lunch. Mark finally has to agree to Eduardo's plea that they eat, which leads to Mark's feet screaming at him as soon as they sit down. From the face Eduardo makes, Mark assumes he's not all that comfortable, either.
"Sitting," Mark says. "The rest of the day should be sitting."
Eduardo takes Mark to this hole-in-the-wall music lounge, which Mark, from watching Eduardo's careful introduction to it and paying attention to how close it is to Eduardo's apartment, figures out must actually be one of his favorite places. He makes sure not to disparage it, but it turns out there's nothing wrong with it - it's low-key and quiet, and they spend most of the afternoon talking, working on their phones, and listening to slow wordless music.
The pace picks up shortly before five p.m., and a comedian takes the stage. He seems pretty good, judging by the crowd's reaction, but his material is full of local culture references that Mark doesn't have the context to understand. Eduardo isn't laughing much either, and he doesn't protest when Mark tugs him outside.
They'd decided earlier to eat in. Mark really is tired of running around and intends to avoid doing any more of it at any cost, and Eduardo's always been more of a homebody than he likes to admit; Eduardo has food in his refrigerator and a microwave to cook it in, and work to catch up on besides. Mark has no desire to visit more overcrowded clubs and trendy restaurants with the newest variety of weird food.
("It's not weird," Eduardo says as he puts a plate with a sandwich on it in front of Mark.
Mark looks at the perfectly acceptable, normal sandwich and then back up at Eduardo.
"Well, yes," Eduardo says, peeved, "but any food is going to seem weird when you compare it to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
Mark takes a large bite of the sandwich and chews loudly. Eduardo sighs and sets a glass of water by his elbow before proceeding to eat his own, much weirder, sandwich.)
Eduardo makes a face right after dinner and announces he needs to shower. "You, too," he tells Mark sternly.
Mark shrugs and settles into the couch cushions as Eduardo disappears into the bathroom. As soon as the water starts running, he yanks out his phone.
Dustin has to give him updates on the site first, Mark won't ever get past the ever-consuming urge to know everything about all operations, but when he's been assured everything's proceeding normally - and he's looked at one small glitch on the site on his phone and filed away, for future notice, a few possible causes - he asks, "So, the weather."
"Whatever you're doing, it's working," Dustin says. "Our weather here is getting better. We actually had some sunshine today, and it hasn't snowed for like two days."
"But it's still raining?" Mark says.
"Yeah," Dustin says hesitantly. "But that's a huge step up from snow, isn't it?"
"Whatever," Mark says, frowning. "Not really."
Dustin sighs. "Sorry, dude."
"Just tell me if anything changes," Mark says. He hangs up.
"Are you using Dustin and Palo Alto's weather as a way to gauge how I'm feeling?" Eduardo asks.
Mark jumps. Eduardo's leaning in the doorway, hair wet, clearly eavesdropping. Mark still can't read all his new expressions; it's frustrating.
"Yes," he admits reluctantly.
Eduardo raises his eyebrows. "How's that going for you?"
"Not well, then?" Eduardo says.
"Why are you still upset?" Mark says. "It's not snowing anymore, but it's still raining and shitty."
Eduardo tilts his head. "Mark," he says, "did you really expect a few days of getting to know each other again to make up for several years of being angry at you?"
Mark stiffens, but Eduardo sounds honestly curious, so he answers, "I expected it to fix whatever temper tantrum you've been throwing, at least."
"You're really terrible at this," Eduardo says wonderingly.
Scowling, Mark leans down to yank his computer out of his bag. He wishes Eduardo did have a guest room - Mark has nowhere to retreat to.
"Mark," Eduardo says, and what the fuck, is he laughing? "Mark, I'm not doing anything to California's weather. Whatever is happening in Palo Alto, it's not me doing it."
"What?" Mark demands.
Eduardo grimaces, smile fading. "My family has a protective streak."
"It's snowing in California because your family's protective," Mark says skeptically.
"They want you to suffer?" Eduardo says.
"It's snowing in California because your family's protective," Mark says. "Huh."
"Ah," Eduardo says, "Mostly my father, I think. Anyway, they'll get over it soon and the weather will stop."
"Your father? You said—" Mark cuts himself off.
"Being disappointed with me doesn't preclude being angry at you," Eduardo says drily. "And the rest of my family is probably just angry."
"Oh," Mark says. "But the lightning was you."
"What?" Eduardo says.
"Sean getting hit by lightning four years ago," Mark explains. "That wasn't your father, right?"
"Sean got struck by lightning?" Eduardo says, high and alarmed.
"Almost," Mark amends.
"Oh," Eduardo says. He doesn't sound too relieved.
"Five times," Mark says.
"Oh," Eduardo repeats, but he's smirking a little. "That might've been me then, yes."
"Yeah," Mark says. "That's what we thought."
"We," Eduardo says quietly. He steps further into the room. He's still holding his towel loosely in his hands, and his pajamas - a matching set, of course, Mark is not surprised - are a little too big and old-fashioned.
"Dustin and I," Mark says. "He's the only one that believes me about your weather thing."
"Chris probably thinks you're insane," Eduardo says. He laughs. "Poor Chris."
"It'll be worse when you have to tell him we were right," Mark says. "He wouldn't believe us even with all my proof."
"You dug into every part of my past you could get your hands on, didn't you?" Eduardo says.
"It was a little difficult," Mark says honestly. "Your family does not have a large internet presence."
"I think we've always avoided one," Eduardo says.
"You're not angry," Mark says.
"About you being invasive?" Eduardo says. "I was at first. When my mother first told me you'd called. I've gotten over it since."
Mark, after a minute, slides over on the couch. There was more than enough room for Eduardo on either side before, but he thinks the gesture is important. From the way Eduardo smiles at him and sits, it seems he's right.
"I was curious," Mark says. "It's not physically possible, I mean, and once I started wondering there was no way to find out except to go looking."
"Asking me," Eduardo says. He's watching the blank TV.
Mark watches him. "You would've lied."
Eduardo glances over, raising an eyebrow. "Probably. Mostly, I would've panicked."
"Your family's secret, out in public," Mark says.
"My family's secret, in possession of the owner of the largest social site in the world, who hated me," Eduardo corrects him.
"I didn't hate you," Mark says, frowning. "I've never hated you."
"Fine," Eduardo says. "Who disliked me intensely."
"I've never—Did you hate me?" Mark demands.
Eduardo looks surprised. "I—no," he says.
"So don't say shit like that," Mark says.
Eduardo clears his throat. "You should go shower."
"Yeah, I'll do that," Mark mutters, and stands up, dropping his laptop back on the couch behind him.
"Mark?" Eduardo asks, knocking lightly on the bathroom door.
"What?" Mark snaps. He glares at himself in the mirror. Yelling at Eduardo is the last thing he should be doing right now, he knows. His position is probably still precarious enough. But he's right back where he started, and Eduardo's being an asshole anyway.
"If you put your clothes out here I'll wash them," Eduardo says. "I have some - you can borrow some of my clothes."
"Fine," Mark says grudgingly. Saying no will almost definitely get him kicked out sooner rather than later, and he's not stupid enough to miss that this is one of Eduardo's weird forms of peacemaking.
There's a quiet rustle outside the door, and then Eduardo's voice says, "They're right out here when you're ready."
"Fine," Mark says again. He strips his clothes off, yanking the door open and dropping them all in a pile by the neatly folded stack of Eduardo's clothes. He leans down, grabs those, and then shuts the door.
Eduardo's shower is kind of amazing, actually, and Mark normally has no opinions whatsoever on showers. He stays in a little too long, probably, because finally Eduardo knocks again.
Mark shuts off the water. "Yeah."
"Oh," Eduardo says. "Did you want to watch a movie?"
Mark rolls his eyes and sighs, but he's careful not to make a sound. "Yes," he says.
"Okay," Eduardo says, sounding relieved. "Um, your clothes are almost ready to go in the dryer."
Mark grabs a towel and scrubs it over himself, considering the stack of clothes carefully. Eventually he decides that not putting them on would be childish, so he unfolds them. The pants are too long, but he'll take falling on his face over rolling the cuffs up, thanks. The shirt is fine. The boxers he leaves untouched on the counter, childish or not.
The TV is on some action movie Mark is almost sure he remembers from a few years ago.
"Do you mind?" Eduardo asks, gesturing at the TV with the remote.
"No," Mark says.
The corners of Eduardo's mouth pull in, just a little like impatience.
"I liked this movie," Mark adds.
"Okay," Eduardo says. He relaxes.
There's nothing major to do, so Mark works on a few of the backlogged bugs for Facebook. The movie is worse than he anticipated, and Eduardo isn't interested either - he has his own laptop out and some sort of graphing program running. Still, they're sitting near each other in relative, if fragile, peace, and Mark isn't going to be the first to fuck it up.
He puts his computer to the side when the movie's over, but Eduardo just smiles distantly at him and looks back at the TV, apparently content to watch the next shitty movie. Mark shrugs and leans his head back, going to sleep.
He dozes, mostly, because it's uncomfortable to sleep like this and he's not that tired, but he wakes up fully when Eduardo gets up and turns the lights off. Mark waits, but instead of going back to his room Eduardo comes over. He's gentle when he grabs Mark's arm, and his hand cradles Mark's head. Mark fights to stay limp as he lets himself be tipped over to lie on the couch. It's kind of weird, but he doesn't mind. He thinks maybe doing this will help Eduardo and him. Like touch therapy for autistic children.
The blanket settles over him, and Eduardo lifts his head once more, sliding a pillow under his head, and then the light padding of his bare feet retreat to his room. Mark's asleep before he hears the door shut.
Mark stays for two more days, but he has to go back eventually. Chris and Dustin are getting more persistent in trying to contact him, and Chris has just started calling Eduardo, too. When the first call came, Eduardo had looked up at Mark and rolled his eyes. He hadn't taken it. When the second call came, he'd turned off his phone.
They don't do much; Mark works on Facebook a little, and a little on some minor projects of the sort he never has time for anymore. Eduardo works too, but he shows Mark some of what he does, and - it's interesting. Mark can see Eduardo's good at it, doesn't need to look at his employment record or gains history; it's there just in the way he lights up while trying to make Mark understand it.
Eduardo introduces Mark to different types of foreign soap operas; some of them are more terrible than Mark ever could've dreaded. They watch more than a few episodes of each, because there's almost something cathartic in it. They go out again Friday night, and come back slow, sleepy-drunk. Eduardo and he play cards on Eduardo's bed - it's the first time Mark's been in Eduardo's bedroom, and he wishes he weren't drunk so he could investigate properly, except Eduard had mentioned that thing about being more verbal and respective of boundaries, and Mark thinks he's going to try that, maybe. Eduardo fleeces Mark, and Mark isn't even sure he meant to let Eduardo win. They fall asleep on top of the covers, the cards spread out underneath them, and Mark is too lazy to move to the couch when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
He wakes up in the morning, too, and doesn't need to go back to sleep. He grabs his laptop; the emails keep piling and piling up, Chris and Dustin are starting to sound angry rather than just worried. Mark looks at Eduardo, asleep, and hopes it's been enough to be a start; then he books a flight home.
Eduardo wakes up and just blinks at him blearily. Mark blinks back and takes solace in the fact that he's nicer to just-awoken people than Eduardo is.
"Hey," Eduardo says roughly.
"I booked a flight home," Mark says. "I leave tomorrow morning."
Eduardo nods slowly. "You've been gone for almost a week."
"Work is piling up," Mark says. "If I could—"
"No," Eduardo says. "You're right. You can't stay here forever."
By tacit agreement, they spend the last day doing what's worked well for them so far: absolutely nothing. Eduardo gives Mark a crash course in recent movies - he stopped watching around his freshman year of college, and when he admits that he hadn't actually known anything about that movie from the second night, Eduardo had looked scandalized - and tells him which one he has to watch, and which ones to avoid, and which ones to avoid even when someone - like Dustin, probably - insists he absolutely should. Mark nods along and watches Eduardo talk the whole time, the shape of his mouth and the way he waves his hands, and doesn't take note of anything he says.
It gets late, and Eduardo sends Mark in for one more shower while he washes all of his clothes. He lends Mark a duffle bag to take the new clothes home in; Mark wants to suggest he leave them here, but knows better. Eduardo doesn't even have a guest room.
They go to the roof of Eduardo's building, lugging more sandwiches - which is basically all the food Eduardo has left now, unfortunately - up with them and staring at the sky. It's perfectly clear, and Mark doesn't know what that means.
"Can you show me?" Mark says.
"Hm?" Eduardo says.
"The weather," Mark says. "Can you show me?"
Eduardo hesitates. Mark, suddenly tense, taps his fingers against his leg.
"I can't," Eduardo finally says.
"Why?" Mark says, more sharply than he meant. "If your family's controlling Palo Alto but you're not, where do you control? Here? You were controlling New York, with the constant rain, you had to be. I just want to see you do it."
"It's really irresponsible," Eduardo says gently. "There can be serious side effects."
"Fine," Mark says. He consciously stills his fingers.
Eduardo looks over at him. "I was affecting New York, but only a little. Sometimes the weather is weird all on its own. If I'm doing something, it might be around myself or around whoever is making m—" his fingers touch the back of Mark's hand for a fleeting second, "—but not necessarily. And I don't cause something to happen to the weather every time I have an emotional shift, you know. If we did that, the whole world would've been destroyed the first time one of us went through puberty."
"Oh," Mark says. He knows his voice sounds flat; he doesn't care. It's disappointing. Super power, indeed.
"You're upset," Eduardo says. "Why?"
"It's a little disappointing," Mark admits. "It was nice, knowing I could look at the weather report and have a guide to how you were feeling."
"It's cheating," Eduardo says, voice dry. "The rest of us don't get that."
"The rest of you don't need that," Mark says darkly.
"You'd be surprised," Eduardo says.
Mark bites his lip.
"Ask me," Eduardo says. "Don't look at the weather and guess. Don't look at weather reports and guess, not for the city you're in or the city I'm in. If you want to know and you don't, just ask. I'll tell you."
"But the weather was always true," Mark says.
"I'll tell you the truth," Eduardo says. "Mark, I won't—"
"I believe you," Mark says.
"Okay," Eduardo says, and his breath is slow but Mark still hears him sigh out. "Good."
"You could come back, if you want," Eduardo says, opening the taxi door for Mark. "To visit again."
"If I want," Mark says. "Should I?"
"Yes, Mark," Eduardo says, rolling his eyes. "You should come back."
"I'm going to be busy for a while," Mark says reluctantly. "I haven't been at Facebook for almost a month."
"So I could come visit you," Eduardo says. He makes a wry expression. "I'll be pretty busy, too, but maybe, if you want—"
Mark kisses him.
Eduardo's hands settle lightly on his hips. He kisses Mark back.
"It's illegal for us to have sex here," Mark says, ending the kiss.
Flushing, Eduardo shakes his head. His eyes are bright and Mark holds on to his arm. "Yeah," he says.
"It's not illegal in California," Mark says.
"So call me when you land," Eduardo says quietly. "Call me and then we'll figure out when I can come see you."
"Okay," Mark says. He steps back again. "Call your father and tell him to lay off my city."
"Yeah," Eduardo says, smiling softly.
Mark kisses him again. The driver honks and rolls down the window, making gestures at his watch.
"Fuck you," Mark says.
Eduardo clears his throat. "Don't miss your flight." He pushes Mark toward the cab but kisses him again before Mark slides in.
"I could leave tomorrow," Mark says, even though he really can't.
"No, you can't," Eduardo says, smiling. "I can't skip any more work either, honestly. I'll see you soon."
Mark frowns but gets in the taxi. Icily, the driver asks, "Airport?" and starts the counter. Mark leans back in his seat and smiles out the window.
By the time he lands he's more jet-lagged than he's ever been in his life and seriously beginning to regret rejecting Dustin's offer to come pick him up. He turns his phone back on as soon as the plane lands, but there's only a few messages about Facebook and ones from Dustin and Chris asking if he's home yet. It's enough of a reminder, though, so Mark gets his bag and dials Eduardo as soon as he's off the plane.
He has no idea what time it is in Singapore - he's too tired to calculate the time difference, and besides, he doesn't even know what time it is in California right now. Eduardo answers on the second ring though, says, "Mark."
"Hi," Mark says, and immediately yawns more widely than he has in his entire life.
Eduardo's laughing by the time he's done. "Are you okay?" he asks. "Didn't you sleep on the plane?"
"I can't sleep on planes," Mark says. "I should've told Dustin to pick me up."
"You're still at the airport, then?" Eduardo asks.
"I just got off the plane," Mark says. He walks past everyone crowding the luggage carousels, pleased to avoid one part of this ordeal.
"I talked to my father," Eduardo says. "And pretty much everyone else in my family. Palo Alto's weather should be fine now."
"I'll be outside in a minute," Mark says. "If it's not, will you yell at them? I don't want to spend any more days wet."
"It should be fine now," Eduardo repeats.
The doors open in a rush of hot, damp air. Mark steps out into the first normal weather California's seen in almost a month and, even though he knows, even though Eduardo told him the weather didn't really mean anything, the lack of rain still makes the final lump in his stomach dissolve.
"It's clear," Mark says.
"Yeah," Eduardo says. "Look up."
"Why?" Mark says. "It's clear."
He looks up anyway and stumbles to a halt. "Oh," he says.
"Yeah," Eduardo says. He sounds a little unsure. "You wanted me to do something to show you. I didn't want to give you more bad weather. I'm really bad at it, anyway."
Mark says, "I'm supposed to ask how you're feeling?"
"Well, maybe you don't have to this time," Eduardo says.
"I think I've got it," Mark agrees. "You should come over really soon."
"I will," Eduardo says, and Mark can hear the smile in his voice. "I want to see you, too."
And that's nice to hear. It really is. But standing in the middle of the airport sidewalk staring up at the biggest rainbow he's ever seen, Mark's pretty sure he could've figured that out either way.